In Acts 11:26, we learned that the disciples were
called Christians first in Antioch. Chapter 12 gives us a glimpse of some of the struggles going on in Jerusalem at that time when James was killed and
Peter placed into prison. Acts 13 picks back up with what was continuing to occur within the first Gentile congregation at Antioch. As we consider that
church we begin to understand why they were called Christians:
I. Antioch: Vs. 1- 3
1. They had spiritual leadership
The young church in Antioch of Syria was blessed with numerous prophets and teachers
such as Barnabas and Simeon etc. There is no way that a congregation can continue to grow without good leadership. Discuss some ways that the local churches
today can develop and cultivate a leadership that will busy themselves "ministering to the Lord?" Under the direction of the Holy Spirit the
church at Antioch "sent" (implying support) Barnabas and Saul to go into other regions and teach others about the faith of Christ. Today, when a local
church has an abundance of talented leaders like that at Antioch, would it be appropriate to support and send some of them into other areas to plant and
strengthen other local churches? It is interesting that the most talented and perhaps the strongest among them are the ones who took on the challenges of church
2. They had spiritual unity
A quick glance at the names in verse one indicates the
kind of diversity that existed in the church at Antioch of Syria. "Simeon that was called Niger" was probably a dark skinned Gentile; "Lucius"
was from the idolatrous city of Cyrene in North Africa; "Manaen" had rubbed elbows with the socially royal elite Herod family; "Barnabas," a
Jew, was highly esteemed and listed first, while "Saul" (the one time persecutor) was listed last. It was a racially, ethnically, and socially
diverse, congregation and yet, they were united in purpose and faith. How can such diversity ever become united? Cf., Gal. 3:28.
3. They had a spirit of benevolence
Back in Acts 11:27-30 we read where the church at Antioch sent financial relief to
help the brethren in Judea during a famine. Although they too would be hit by the famine they showed an unselfish spirit of generosity toward fellow believers.
Does that same spontaneous spirit of benevolence still exist today among local churches? Discuss some opportunities that exist today to imitate the church at
4. They had a love for lost souls
The local church at Antioch "sent" Barnabas and Saul away. That they understood the gravity what these men would be facing is seen in the fact that they "fasted and prayed." The tradition of laying hands
upon them as they sent them out was a way of each one expressing support. In our culture we would shake their hands or pat them on the back. Financial support
seems to be implied in the word "sent." When a church grows and matures in talent and resources like that at Antioch, what are some ways that it can
become involved in mission work outside their community?
II. Church planting begins: Vs. 4-15
As Barnabas and Saul depart, who goes with them? (Cf., Acts 12:25). What would be
his responsibility during this journey? What do you think might be some of the specific duties that he would be involved in? In verses 5 and 14, we find them
speaking in the Jewish synagogues first as they entered a community. What would be the advantage of starting there? What do we know about Barjesus or Elymas?
What did he do when the deputy or proconsul Sergius Paulus desired to hear the word of God? What did Saul say to Elymas when he "set his eyes on
him?" (Acts 13:10-11.) What was the result of this miracle? (Acts 13:12.)
In Acts 13:9 we learn that Saul (Hebrew name) was being referred to as Paul (Roman
name). There seems to be
more than just a change of name in this text, but also a change in status and leadership. Notice that in Acts 13:1, Barnabas is listed first and Saul last; In
Acts 13:2 and 7, It is "Barnabas and Saul;" In Acts 13:13 (after this miracle) its "Paul and his company;" In Acts 13:43, 46 etc it is
always "Paul and Barnabas." What did the miraculous event in Paphos do for Saul?
In Acts 13:13, just as Paul and his company were entering the work in Asia Minor, John Mark chose to
return home. What are some possible explanations as to why he might have gone home? What did Paul think of his quitting according to Acts 15:37-38. According to
that passage, Paul seemed to think that the real work that God intended for them to accomplish would be in the region of Asia Minor. It was there that he and
Barnabas were able to plant numerous congregations. Every day we have choices to make regarding our involvement in the ongoing work and mission of the Lord's
church. Sometimes our choices are commendable and at other times we probably disappoint someone. What are some lessons we can learn from the choice that John