First Missionary Journey A.D. 46-48
The God of the unexpected not only surprised the mostly-Jewish church with His addition of Gentiles to it, but He also caused an explosive spread of His gospel message among those same Gentiles. His Spirit poured forth in Antioch, growing that church to be a strong and solid landmark in the Gentile world. Then, out of that effective ministry, the Spirit appointed some to go and some to stay. And, that brought change.
Change can be a gift and an opportunity for us to walk into those good works God has appointed for us to do. We may have opportunity to serve the Lord in ways totally unknown to us before. Such is the experience of Paul and Barnabas as they head out on their first mission trip, appointed by the Holy Spirit to do the work of God along the way.
Read Acts 13:1-14:28 in one sitting to get the whole picture. As you do, read it personally—applying it to your life today. Pray that God would open your heart to the truths He has for you from this text.
24. Discovering the Facts: Barnabas and Paul had been a part of the congregation in Antioch for over a year. They were enjoying success there and may have been expecting to remain for some time.
§ Who interrupted their ministry in Antioch and appointed them to a new assignment?
§ What was it?
§ Who also went along (v. 5)?
§ Where did the Spirit send them first? Who was already familiar with that place?
From the Greek: The Spirit “set apart” Barnabas and Saul and appointed them to specific work. Read John 15:16 and 1 Timothy 1:12; 2:7. The Greek word for “appointed” (tithemi, “to put”) is used of “appointment” to any form of service. Jesus appoints His disciples to do His work.
25. Deeper Discoveries: Change can be a gift and an opportunity to walk into those good works God has appointed for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). Consider the changes the Lord has brought into your life. Has God transplanted you from a place of comfort to a new place where you were appointed to serve Him? How did you respond? In what ways have those changes provided opportunities for you to serve the Lord in ways you were unaware of before?
26. Where did Paul and Barnabas generally go first to proclaim Christ? (13:5, 14; 14:1) What would have been some advantages of starting there? See also Acts 13:16, 46, and Romans 1:16.
Historical Insight: Dispersed Israel, along with Gentiles who worshipped God, met in their communities on the Sabbath for worship, reading of the Scriptures, and prayer. Established custom allowed visiting teachers to participate in the worship service by invitation of the synagogue leaders. (NIV Study Bible, p. 1494)
27. Contrast Elymas and Sergius Paulus in their heart attitudes and response to the gospel. [Note: Sorcery is exercising power by the help and control of demons. You will meet Jewish sorcerers again in Acts 19.]
Historical Insight: Paul had several names including “Saul” his Hebrew given name and “Paul” his Roman name (1 of 3 he would have been given). When he began traveling through Gentile territory, he was known by his Roman name.
Deeper Discoveries: Using a Bible Dictionary, study notes, or an internet search, discover this area of ancient Asia Minor as Paul knew it. What was the geography like? What was life like there?
28. In Paul’s first recorded sermon in Acts, he preaches to an audience grounded in the Old Testament and presents Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament expectations of the Messiah. What expectations were fulfilled?
29. What concept, new to the Jews, does Paul introduce in v. 39?
Scriptural Insight: Acts 13:39 gives the thesis of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, written shortly after this journey ended.
Deeper Discoveries: Read Romans 3:21-30 for a further explanation of what Paul means in Acts 13:39. Summarize what you learn.
30. In what ways did the “jealous” Jews try to prevent the Holy Spirit’s work in their region? How were “God-fearing” women influenced to join the cause? Were the Jews’ efforts successful? Explain.
Historical Insight: Well-to-do women in many cities of the Roman world were attracted to the Jewish religion and thus found among the God-fearing Gentiles who frequented the synagogue (Acts 17:4, 12). (F. F. Bruce, The Book of the Acts, p. 268)
31. Share Your Life: How do you determine the worthiness of the causes that engage your mind, energy, and finances? What steps do you take to protect yourself from being influenced in a manner that does not strengthen the cause of Christ?
32. Read and ponder Paul’s statement in v. 46. Have you ever considered someone’s rejection of the gospel to be that they did not consider themselves worthy of eternal life?
33. Paul and Barnabas get “kicked out” of the region. What is so radical about v. 52? Explain.
Scriptural Insight: Paul and Barnabas paid a return visit to this body of believers a few months later (14:21).
34. Share Your Life: Have you ever had an experience that would be similar to being “kicked out?” How did you feel? What did you do in response? How did those around you take it?
Deeper Discoveries: “All who were appointed for eternal life believed” (v. 48, NIV). The words “were appointed” come from the verb tasso, a military word meaning “to place in order, arrange.” Research other uses of this term in Acts 15:2; 22:10; 28:23, Romans 13:1, and 1 Corinthians 16:15. Discuss what you learn.
35. Discovering the Facts: List the order of events as they occurred.
36. What do you think made Paul and Barnabas able to speak so boldly in the face of persecution in light of what had just happened 90 miles away in Psidian Antioch?
Focus on the Meaning: The word “apostle” means “those sent with authority as representatives of another.” Barnabas and Paul are both called apostles since they had been sent as authoritative representatives of the Antioch church. The office of Apostle (the Twelve) is different from the work of an “apostle.” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, p. 391)
37. What did God do to confirm the message of His grace? See also Galatians 3:5.
38. Discovering the Facts: What unexpected thing happened after the healing of the lame man?
39. How did Paul and Barnabas deal with this surprising situation? Contrast their response to that of Herod in chapter 12.
Scriptural Insight: Tearing of clothes was a Jewish way of expressing great anguish. Usually rips were made four or five inches into the neckline of the garment.
40. Paul and Barnabas are not preaching to a synagogue audience here but to a crowd of superstitious people. What is their message (vv. 15-17)? See also Romans 1:19-20. How does God show kindness to unbelievers? What kind of response from them does He desire?
41. Share Your Life: The crowd was easily swayed from one viewpoint to another, both equally wrong. What kind of influence do crowds have over you, OR what kind of influence do you have in a crowd? Share with your group any scriptures that help to keep you from being wrongly influenced.
42. Paul is stoned and left for dead (see 2 Corinthians 11:25; Galatians 6:17)!!! Then, he gets up and goes back into the city. What did you think when you read that? Why and how do you think he could do that? See also Acts 14:21-22.
Think About It: The Lystrans were probably offended by the missionaries’ refusal to accept divine honors from them: they had been made to look foolish, and felt resentful. Paul, acclaimed as the messenger of the immortals, was the chief target for the violent assault that followed. (F. F. Bruce, The Book of the Acts, p. 279)
43. How did Barnabas and Paul encourage the churches they had planted so they would continue? Who was “appointed” this time? How?
Scriptural Insight: These elders were not novices in the faith (1 Timothy 3:6); they were probably Jews who came out of the synagogues where they had been steeped in the Scriptures. Thus elders from the synagogues became elders in the churches. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, p. 392)
44. Share Your Life: How important is organization to the function of a healthy church? What are the benefits of having mature leadership as new believers are added to a church?
45. Where does their journey end about 18 months after it began? What took place there? Despite all the opposition and hardships, what was the heart of the mission report?
Scriptural Insight: It is thought that Paul wrote the Book of Galatians shortly after this first missionary journey and before the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15).
46. Share Your Life: What have you learned from Paul’s first missionary journey that could help you serve God faithfully wherever He has appointed you to live and go?
Review the scripture passage covered in this lesson for evidences of the guidance and empowering of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. What will you ask God to do in your life?