Anonymous Church Planters (Acts 11:19–21) - Radical

Anonymous Church Planters (Acts 11:19–21)

“Say now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews, but there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus, and the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.”
Acts 11:19–21

Planting One of the Most Influential Churches

These verses describe the planting of the church at Antioch, one of the most influential churches in the history of Christianity. Not just the first century even. The church of Antioch, a couple chapters later, would be the church that sends Paul and Barnabas out on their first missionary journey.

It leads to the planting of churches all over the Roman Empire, and first, second, third missionary journey, it all started with the church at Antioch. So what’s fascinating about these verses,  is we don’t know any of the people’s names who actually planted this church.

God uses unknown, everyday believers to carry out his work.

So it just says, “There were some of them,” in Acts 11:20, “Men of Cyprus and Cyrene who came to Antioch, started speaking to the Greeks, preaching the gospel, and the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.”

The Bible Places Importance on Church

It’s an awesome thought that this church was planted by guys who are not even named. They’re just called “them” in the Bible, yet they had a massive impact on the spread of the Gospel. I read these verses, and I just think, “This is exactly it. This is how God has designed the Gospel to spread in the world. God has designed the Gospel to spread through ordinary people,” and I hope this encourages every single one of us.

Acts 11:19–21 Calls Us to Share the Gospel

I think we have this tendency to think, “Ah, I can’t be used by God because I’m not this person. I don’t have that gift. However, from the very beginning of the Bible, when it comes to the expansion of the church, this is the story of how the Gospel is spreading. It’s happening through people that are just called “them” in the Bible. We are all ordinary people, but God has chosen to use ordinary people for the spread of the greatest news in the world, so I just want to encourage you, do not to underestimate what God has designed for your life in the spread of the Gospel and the advancement of His kingdom.

Don’t underestimate the role God has given you to play. It can impact people in your life today and in the future. This is why it is important to walk in obedience to God. So, I want to pray along those lines.

A Prayer of Encouragement Based on Acts 11:19–21

Oh, God, I pray for my life. I pray for every single person that’s listening to this right now. That we would just be encouraged in our hearts when we think about who You are and what You have done in our lives. Yet amidst our ordinariness, Your power is to use us for the spread of Your glory in the world.

So help us re-pray. Help every one of us to play the part You want us to in the spread of the Gospel. As well as in the planting of churches and the sending out of missionaries. Lord, we want to be faithful to play our part just like these men and women were playing their part in Acts chapter 11. We pray that You would use our ordinary lives in extraordinary ways for the sake of Your glory. And for the spread of Your Gospel, we pray in Jesus’s name. Amen.

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


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