on Acts 11 :20
Men of - Cyrene - The metropolis of the Cyrenaica; a country of Africa, bounded on the east by Marmarica, on the west by the Regio Syrtica, on the north by the Mediterranean, and on the south by the Sahara. Cyrene is now called Cairoan. This city, according to Eusebius, was built in the 37th Olympiad, about 630 years before Christ. In consequence of a revolt of its inhabitants, it was destroyed by the Romans; but they afterwards rebuilt it. It was for a long time subject to the Arabs, but is now in the hands of the Turks.
Spake unto the Grecians - ἙλληνιϚας, The Hellenists. Who these were, we have already seen Acts 6:1-15 and Acts 9:29, viz. Jews living in Greek cities and speaking the Greek language. But, instead of ἙλληνιϚας, Grecians, Ἑλληνας, Greeks, is the reading of AD*, Syriac, all the Arabic, Coptic, Ethiopic, Vulgate, some copies of the Itala, Eusebius, Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Oecumenius. On this evidence, Griesbach has admitted it into the text; and few critics entertain any doubt of the genuineness of the reading. This intimates that, besides preaching the Gospel to the Hellenistic Jews, some of them preached it to heathen Greeks; for, were we to adopt the common reading, it would be a sort of actum agere; for it is certain that the Hellenistic Jews had already received the Gospel. See Acts 6:1. And it is likely that these Cyprians and Cyrenians had heard of Peter's mission to Caesarea, and they followed his example by offering the Christian faith to the heathen. It is worthy of remark that the Jews generally called all nations of the world Greeks; as the Asiatics, to the present day, call all the nations of Europe Franks.
on Acts 11 :20
Were men of Cyprus and Cyrene - Were natives of Cyprus and Cyrene. Cyrene was a province and city of Libya in Africa. It is at present called Cairoan, and is situated in the kingdom of Barca. In Cyprus the Greek language was spoken; and from the vicinity of Cyrene to Alexandria, it is probable that the Greek language was spoken there also. From this circumstance it might have happened that they were led more particularly to address the Grecians who were in Antioch. It is possible, however, that they might have heard of the vision which Peter saw, and felt themselves called on to preach the gospel to the Gentiles.
Spake unto the Grecians - πρὸς τοὺς Ἑλληνιστὰς pros tous Hellēnistas. To the Hellenists. This word usually denotes in the New Testament "those Jews residing in foreign lands, who spoke the Greek language." See the notes on Acts 6:1. But to them the gospel had been already preached; and yet in this place it is evidently the intention of Luke to affirm that the people of Cyprus and Cyrene preached to those who were not Jews, and that thus their conduct was distinguished from those (Acts 11:19) who preached to the Jews only. It is thus manifest that we are here required to understand the Gentiles as those who were addressed by the people of Cyprus and Cyrene. In many mss. the word used here is Ἕλληνας Hellēnas, "Greeks," instead of "Hellenists." This reading has been adopted by Griesbach, and is found in the Syriac, the Arabic, the Vulgate, and in many of the early fathers. The Aethiopic version reads "to the Gentiles." There is no doubt that this is the true reading; and that the sacred writer means to say that the gospel was here preached to. Those who were not Jews, for all were called "Greeks" by them who were not Jews, Romans 1:16. The connection would lead us to suppose that they had heard of what had been done by Peter, and that, imitating his example, they preached the gospel now to the Gentiles also.
on Acts 11 :20
11:20 Some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene - Who were more accustomed to converse with the Gentiles. Who coming into Antioch - Then the capital of Syria, and, next to Rome and Alexandria, the most considerable city of the empire. Spake to the Greeks - As the Greeks were the most celebrated of the Gentile nations near Judea, the Jews called all the Gentiles by that name. Here we have the first account of the preaching the Gospel to the idolatrous Gentiles. All those to whom it had been preached before, did at least worship one God, the God of Israel.