When [Barnabas] found [Saul in Tarsus], he brought him back to Antioch. Both of them stayed there with the church for a full year, teaching large crowds of people. (It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.)
— Acts 11:26 NLT
Antioch was one of the four largest cities in the known world in the first century — the others were Rome, Ephesus, and Alexandria. Followers of Jesus had come to Antioch sharing the message of Jesus with both Jews and Gentiles.* The church grew as both Jews and Gentiles came to Christ and lived together in fellowship as one community anticipating the kind of fellowship they would share with Jesus when he returns (Revelation 7:9-12). The name "Christians" was first used in Antioch for this rapidly growing group of believers from all different cultures and races of people, a group of people who became believers as a result of Jesus' followers living out his Great Commission.**
O Father, in this time of pain and unrest caused by the sins of segregation, racial bigotry, hatred, and violence, I pray for your church — your people called to bring life, hope, and love. May we live up to the name Christians. May we live out the love for all people and offer fellowship to all people like I see in Jesus' early disciples in Antioch. Use us, O Lord, to break down the walls of hate and hurt, providing the world an example of what it is like for all people to live in a brotherhood and sisterhood of grace and love. In Jesus' name and for the sake of Jesus' church, I pray. Amen.