Acts 11:19 says,

Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only (NKJV, my boldface).

How should one interpret the words "Jews only" in light of Jesus' command in the "Great Commission" (Matthew 28:18-20); namely, that his disciples go into all the world making disciples of all the nations (πάντα τὰ ἔθνη = panta ta ethnē) and not just the Jewish nation?


You should interpret it to mean that the Great Commission was not yet complete as of the statement in Acts 11.

(Remember, in Acts 1 Jesus clarified that there would be a progression to how the Commission would be fulfilled. It was to begin with in Jerusalem, then be extended out from there, eventually to the whole world.)

This does not suggest Jesus' mission changed. If you read the Gospels (and OT) carefully you see that the salvation of the whole world was the end-game all along. It just wasn't "Step 1".

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Keep in mind those scattered Jewish evangelists (of verse 19) who preached to only Jews were not the apostles, they those saints written of in Acts 8:1:

Act 8:1 Saul was consenting to his death. A great persecution arose against the assembly which was in Jerusalem in that day. They were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except for the apostles.

God, by His providential hand, used the persecution of the saints in Jerusalem to spread the message of Christ to regions far from Christianity's original home. Those same Jews of Act 8.1 who had reached the region of Samaria had progressed into the areas of Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch within a few years.

As Jas mentioned earlier, Jesus mapped out a progression of the gospel in Acts 1:8:

Act 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. You will be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth.”

Just as there outreach was incremental, so was their knowledge of Christ's commission. Jesus told his disciples in John 16:12:

Joh 16:12 “I have yet many things to tell you, but you can’t bear them now. Joh 16:13 However when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak from himself; but whatever he hears, he will speak. He will declare to you things that are coming. Joh 16:14 He will glorify me, for he will take from what is mine, and will declare it to you.

It was the Apostle Peter's vision and subsequent visit to gentiles in Acts Ch 10 that illuminated the hearts of the other Christian brothers regarding the power of the gospel. Another work of the Spirit of God to open hearts and tear down social, religious, and cultural barriers.

Act 11:18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life!

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