Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. Acts 11:19-21
The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. Acts 11:26b
According to Anglican Theologian Michael Green (1930-2019)* the Church at Antioch was the first sending church in the initial phases of her development.
Although there had been apostles - this was the first church that could be said to be apostolic.
This church was composed mostly of Greeks (Gentiles) or as Green calls them Hellenists.
From the word scattered above we get the term the church diaspora (apostolic/executive). It is accompanied by the church gathered or ekklesia (bishoped/legislative).
Here are some observations on the Apostolic Church of Antioch by Dr. Green.
1) They believed in a God who is always on the move–not housed in a building.
2) They believed in a Jesus who is the Son of man, Lord over the whole of mankind, not simply the Jewish Messiah.
3) They believed in the God who makes all things new and does not tie us into customs of the past.
4) They believed in a faith that was as good for Gentiles as it was for Jews, not restricted to those who were already “insiders.”
5) Their message and their way of life were striking and indeed radical. But they turned the world upside down. These Hellenists were very manifestly open to change.
(Green, Michael, Evangelism Through the Local Church, Thomas Nelson, Inc, 1992, pages 88-89)
*His mother was Australian and his Father Welsh.
(There was once a local congregation in our community that called itself an Antioch or sending church - and it did! Then under a subsequent pastor it changed its focus to a Jerusalem or community church and never recovered its vitality. That is my personal observation.)