Bible Class
Discussion Guide
by Edward Thomason

The first journey begins
Acts 13:1-15

warm up

Find the following places on a map:
Antioch of Syria (Acts 13:1-3); Seleucia and Salamis at the isle of Cyprus (Acts 13:4-5)
Paphos at Cyprus (Acts 13:6-12); Perga in Pamphylia (Acts 13:13) where John departed
Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13:14)
wise up

    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 planting. 

    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 Antioch.
    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 
   1. Challenges
        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.)

    2. Changes
        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?
    3. Choices
        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 Mark made?

wrap up

   1.  This chapter begins what is called the first missionary journey of Paul which can be dated around 47-48 A.D. It must have been an exciting but challenging time in the life of Paul and Barnabas and God's people as an effort was made to reach out to the many Gentile nations of the world. That challenge and excitement still exists today.


  Please read Acts 13:16-52 for next week    copyright 2001