Jackson Snyder Presents the reconstruction of the earliest believers’ ministries:
Antioch is a city in Asia Minor, which, in the time of the Apostles, was the third largest in the Roman Empire and the capital of Syria. It was a very influential center of Greek culture since it was situated on the trade route between Rome and Jerusalem.
Due to persecution against the “Nazoreans” (Notzrim) in Jerusalem and Judea, many Jewish believers in Yahshua migrated and settled within the relative safety of Antioch’s ethnic melting pot. As immigrants, they gathered with other Palestinian Jews – people whose customs, traditions, language and culture were similar. And they followed the custom of Yahshua: They met with the “orthodox” Jews every Sabbath in the synagogue to learn and witness that Yahshua had come to seek and save lost Israel.
Other Jewish believers came from Cyprus and Cyrene to Antioch. (Cyrene is situated in modern-day Libya.) These newcomers to Antioch were more liberal and better educated, having been raised far from the traditions and poverty of Jerusalem. They’d been previously baptized in the Holy Spirit and arrived anointed to tell their stories of how Yahshua had influenced their lives outside the bounds of the Jewish cult.
Through the prophetic voice of these Cypriots and Africans, secular, pagan and godless people were repenting and believing that Yahweh was the Almighty One and that Yahshua came as his Son to reconcile all people. And “a great number believed” the testimony of the Cypriots and Africans. These proselytes from pork-eating paganism were brought out of the shrine and into the Antioch synagogue to learn the Torah every Sabbath right alongside the long-bearded Pharisee. Needless to say, this influx of pagans scandalized the long beards.