Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Acts Studies|
Chs. 13 & 14
Chapters 13 & 14
Chapter: Acts 13
Passage: Acts 13:1-3
A. Find Out:
1. What ministries were there at Antioch ? v.1a
2. Who were specifically named? v.1b
3. What were they doing? v.2a
4. What did the Holy Spirit tell them to do? v.2b
5. What did they continue doing? v.3a
6. What did they then do? v.3b
The focus now moves to the church at Antioch , a large church ( 11:24 ), well taught (11:26), a caring and a giving church ( 11:29 ,30); in other words a mature church. Yet there is one other aspect of a mature church that the Holy Spirit brings about: it is to be a sending church, a church that plants out. How does that come about?
Well within this well-taught church, as well as the teachers, there are also prophets. Note in passing that the Lord has raised up this ministry in this church, another aspect of a mature church. It is the prophets who bring the revelation of change in direction. It takes place as they wait on the Lord. They have been seeking God in worship, prayer and fasting and as they seek Him He reveals His next step for them, which is to reach out further with the Gospel. He specifically names Barnabus and Saul, so they continue fasting and praying and (presumably) get confirmation that this is the right things to do, and with no more ado they pray for them and send them off. Paul's first missionary journey is about to start. He is already much travelled but now his big journeys are about to start.
1. A mature church is a growing one, a well-taught one, a caring and giving
one, a revelatory one and a sending one. Is that yours?
2. Church planting starts at the direction of the Lord who will give wisdom
A. Find Out:
1. Where did the two men go? v.4
2. When they arrived where did they preach? v.5
3. Who wanted to hear the word of God? v.7
4. Who opposed them? v.8
5. How did Paul deal with him? v.9-11
6. With what result? v.12
From now on you need to look up the maps in the back of your Bible, if you have some there, to follow their journey. They have been sent out but we are not told if they were told where to go. Cyprus is the home of Barnabus so they start there. Start witnessing on your home ground is perhaps the first lesson for would-be church planters!
When they get there they go to Jews. Go to people who are culturally the same as you , may be the second lesson for church planters.
They are called in before the proconsul. Share the gospel and let your reputation go ahead of you and let God open doors for you is the third lesson.
Elymas tries to put the proconsul off. You will get opposition is the fourth lesson.
Paul is full of the Holy Spirit as he deals with him. Ensure you are filled with the power of God is the fifth lesson.
Paul was obviously led by God, spoke the truth and spoke a word of authority against the man and temporary blindness came to him. Be led by God using the gifts of the Spirit He gives you is the sixth lesson.
The result is that the proconsul believes as he sees the power of God working. God will bring the fruit is the seventh lesson.
Clever methods? Human endeavour? No, just two men keeping close to God being led by his Spirit. Sounds simple doesn't it!
1. God is more intent on sharing the gospel than we are.
2. We are to go to those nearest to us first and let Him lead us.
A. Find Out:
1. Where did they next go to? v.13a (check a map)
2. What happened there? v.13b
3. Where next did they go? v.14a (check the map again)
4. What did they do there? v.14b
5. What happened there? v.15
When they leave Cyprus we aren't told why they went where they did but perhaps it is reasonable to suppose that they would simply take a boat where it was going, to the nearest mainland, which is also the land where Paul had come from. At that point John Mark left them. We aren't told why, but Paul obviously saw it as him deserting them, although he subsequently seems to have made use of him and felt good about him. For some reason, not stated by Luke they went north to Pisidian Antioch, a hundred mile walk over the mountains! Possibly they heard it was a substantial Roman colony where there would be a number of Jews in residence.
When they arrive, they go to the synagogue on the Sabbath. They are still making use of the strategy of reaching out to religious Jews. The clear lesson is first go to those people who clearly show an interest in spiritual matters. Some people are obviously looking for something. Go to these people first, for they are seekers. They may turn out to be hard to reach because they are set in their religious ways, but they are seekers, possibly misguided, but seekers never-the-less. The time for reaching out to others will come, but for the time being, pick up on those who show an interest in spiritual matters.
1. God's guidance is sometimes to first follow the obvious paths.
2. First go to those who are already showing an interest.
A. Find Out:
1. To whom was Paul speaking? v.16
2. Where does he start his account? v.17-19
3. What area of history does he next cover? v.20-22
4. For what point? v.23
5. Who does he then speak about? v.24
6. How had he testified? v.25
Israel had history and their history was all about HIS-story, God's dealing with them. He had delivered them out of Egypt , into the Promised Land and had eventually given them kings. Their greatest king had been David, from whom God had promised the Messiah would come. Now says Paul, he has come.
Now, observe that Paul is preaching to Jews and Gentile converts to Judaism, people who would have been much taught about God and His dealings with Israel , and so he can preach about these things because the people would understand. Later we'll see when Paul goes to Gentile unbelievers he uses a different approach. The lesson is clear: preach at the level of your listeners . To those who know about Israel 's history you base it on that history, to those who know nothing about the Old Testament, you use a different approach.
How often, I wonder, do Christians use the “language of Zion ”, language full of religious words, to speak to non-Christians, and then wonder why they don't understand?
Paul then went on to start to speak about Jesus and again he puts him in historical context. John came first and John testified to Jesus so Paul starts from there. Do we put Jesus in an historical context?
1. Communicate in ways people can understand!
2. Christianity is an historically based faith. Speak it like that.
A. Find Out:
1. What does Paul now preach about? v.26-29
2. And what does he add? v.30,31
3. What does he then seek to show? v.32,33
4. What did he next seek to prove? v.34-37
5. So what is the outcome for us? v.38,39
6. Finally, against what does he warn them? v.40,41
Let's simply answer the questions above. We saw yesterday that Paul had started talking about Jesus, the saviour, who had come after John. Now he first of all gives simple historical information, i.e. this is what actually happened! He tells of Jesus death and resurrection These are simple historical facts. Next he moves on to seek to confirm these facts by reference to the Old Testament. Here he first points out that God spoke of having a son (see Psa 2) and then that the coming one will not lay in the grave and decay but will obviously be raised from the dead. Next he brings out the spiritual conclusion or doctrine that comes from all this, that through Jesus we can have forgiveness of sins. Finally he pleads with the Jews, just as Scripture warns, don't harden your hearts against this thing that God has done.
This presentation of the Gospel can be simply divided into:
1. Jesus coming is a simple fact of history
2. Jesus coming was part of God's plan to save us.
A. Find Out:
1. How were they first received? v.42,43
2. What happened the next Sabbath? v.44,45
3. So what did Paul & Barnabus say they would do? v.46
4. What Scripture did they cite? v.47
5. So what happened as a result? v.48,49
6. But what also happened? v.50-52
If you have a concordance, look up the word “nations” in it and see he many, many times that God said throughout the Old Testament that the nations would see and be blessed. The Jews had assumed that it meant Jews spread throughout the nations, but God actually meant that He wanted all peoples to hear of Him and His love for them. Although we have seen Peter being sent to a Gentile and Jerusalem ostensibly accepting that God wanted to include the Gentiles, this missionary trip so far had been really to the Jews. This is now the first real diversion to include the Gentiles. From now on they are apostles to the Gentiles.
What caused this? The success of the word of God preached, the interest shown by the many people of the town, and the jealousy of the Jews. Just as it had been with Jesus, when the religious Jews saw that the crowds were showing interest, they immediately rejected the message. If this message is being publicly accepted it must be wrong. What terrible logic! Paul & Barnabus refuse to turn down the opportunity to tell others about Jesus and a verse referring to the Gentiles comes to Paul's mind. The die is cast, they move away from the Jews and now tell the Gentiles. It will never be the same again! Persecution follows and the apostles are forced to move on again.
1. God loves all peoples, not just one group.
2. When one group rejects the word, move on to the next group.
A. Find Out:
1. Where did they go, what did they do and with what effect? v.1
2. Yet what did the Jews do? v.2
3. But what happened never the less? v.3
4. With what consequence? v.4,5
5. What did Paul & Barnabus do therefore? v.6
6. What did they do there? v.7
Having been thrown out of Pisidian Antioch and gone down to Iconium, another major town of the area, the two apostles again made for the synagogue. Despite having been rejected by the Jews in the previous town they still go to those with whom they are most familiar. It seems that there were both Jews and Gentile converts who believed, yet some of the religious Jews refused to believe and sought to stir up the others against the two men. Yet because there is obvious response to them, the two continue on there for some time, preaching and performing signs and wonders, having impact in the whole city!
However there is both acceptance and rejection and those who rejected them plotted to physically abuse them. The answer was simple: leave! This they did and moved on to the next two cities in the region and carried on preaching the Gospel.
What are the lessons here? First, keep on preaching to your own culture or “people group” until they reject you. Second, expect acceptance and rejection. Third, when rejected just move on to the next people group who will listen. Fourth, don't be put off by rejection but keep preaching the message to whoever will listen.
1. Keep sharing the good news with whoever will listen.
2. Don't be surprised or put off when some people reject what you are
saying, just keep on with others who will receive you
A. Find Out:
1. Who was there listening? v.8
2. What did Paul see? v.9
3. So what did Paul say and what happened? v.10
4. What was the response to this? v.11-13
5. What did the apostles do & how did they describe God? v.14-18
6. What then happened? v.19,20
A spectacular healing takes place. How? What do we learn from what happened? First of all the man had faith; the Holy Spirit was obviously stirring him to believe (“faith comes from hearing” - Rom 10:17 ), God had obviously spoken to him. At the same time the Holy Spirit gives Paul the understanding that the man has faith, that God wants to heal, so all he has to do is speak a word of faith and the healing comes, a simple act of God. What was the key? Two men heard God!
We sometimes think that power healing is all that is needed to open the doors of belief in evangelism, but this episode shows that that is not always so. The superstitious crowd go to worship them and it is only with great difficulty that they manage to get them to stop.
Very shortly afterwards, it seems, religious Jews from the previous towns turn up and quickly turn the crowd against them. Never rely upon “public opinion”, it can so easily and quickly change, only rely upon a work of God. Note in passing that this town must have had very powerful occultic forces working in it with the temple of Zeus there, no wonder that there is a spiritual blindness in the crowd that is so easily turned against the apostles. But also note that that didn't stop the Lord doing a powerful miracle there.
1. God's will producing faith is behind all miraculous healings.
2. Even such a miracle is sometimes not enough to release belief.
A. Find Out:
1. What happened at Derbe? v.20,21a
2. Where did they next go, doing what? v.21b,22
3. What did they also do in each town? v.23
4. Where also did they go to? v.24-26
5. What did they do when they returned home? v.27
6. How long did they stay there? v.28
Derbe was the last new place they went to on this trip and there the Gospel successfully enlarged the kingdom of God . “Then they returned”. Those three words are the signpost for all church planters. Yes they returned home but first they returned to the churches they had founded. Various things had to be done. The churches had been established and they had had to leave prematurely in each case. So what did they do?
First they strengthened and encouraged the churches to remain true to the faith. They established them in the truth and exhorted them to remain in the truth. Establishing basic doctrine was the first step.
Second, they appointed elders to look after the churches. Providing pastoral oversight was the second thing.
Third, they committed them to the Lord or, if you like, they just left the churches to get on with God's help alone. They trusted in the Holy Spirit to mature and develop these churches. They are God's churches, not Paul's.
When they arrived home they shared all that had happened They were accountable to their own local church.
1. Church pioneers lay foundations by God's leading.
2. After foundations are laid they leave the church to grow itself, simply
bringing occasional encouragement.
In this fourth group of 9 studies we have seen :
This first missionary journey (there had been various other previous journeys) highlights various lessons for church planting. The way they handled each of the circumstances should teach us something about how to go about it. Let us focus on the lessons:
1. They were sent by the Spirit & the local church - be God sent
2. They went to Barnabus's home area first - witness locally first
3. They went to Jews (religious people) first - their own culture
4. The Gospel has effect and opens further doors
5. Opposition will come
6. Be filled with the Spirit to overcome
7. When rejected go on to the next group of people
8. Establish new churches in the truth
9. Establish new churches with a caring structure
Thank the Lord for each of these lessons. Ask Him to help you be involved in the great commission (Mt 28:19,20)
PART 5 : Deciding Doctrine in Jerusalem
In this last Part watch for how the Jerusalem church deals with doctrinal problems that arise. Again there are lessons for us here that we should apply today.