In chapter ten of the Book of Acts, the apostle Peter discovered that God wanted all people to hear the Gospel and receive salvation through Jesus Christ – not just the Jews as Peter believed. At this point, the church began to expand in a whole new way. Barnabas and Saul, who would later be known as the apostle Paul, traveled to one of the largest, most cosmopolitan cities in the Roman Empire, known as Antioch. They were very successful in their efforts and developed the first large multi-ethnic church. And it was in Antioch that followers of Jesus were first called Christians.
“So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” Acts 11:26 (NIV)
In Antioch, Christians were all followers of Jesus Christ. There were no Catholics or Protestants, there were no Baptist or Methodist, no non-denominational, charismatic, or fundamentalist – there were only Christians. These Christians followed the teachings of the apostles who were repeating the teachings of Jesus. We now have that teaching compiled into the book we call the New Testament. Much of the New Testament was in fact written by the Apostle Paul, who was providing the instruction in Antioch. We have access to the same instruction given to the first Christian church. While there is great value in attending a church with a teaching pastor or priest, insomuch as you are able, a direct study of the words of the apostle Paul and the other writers of the New Testament will likely yield greater results.
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