ACTS CHAPTER THIRTEEN
Paul Begins His First Missionary Journey
Suggested Teaching Objectives:
1. To show the importance of being obedient to God in witnessing. What if Barnabas and Paul had not gone on this journey?
2. To show that missionaries and preachers must have a definite call from God.
3. To show the importance of living a separated life.
4. To teach the dangers of "the love of money".
5. To teach the Plan of Salvation.
INTRODUCTION: The church at Antioch had by now become a strong, stable, well doctrinated church. Paul and Barnabas had taught the people for at least one year. Acts 11:26. They had sent an offering to the Jerusalem saints. 11:27-30. This church now was to send forth missionaries as the Lord instructed them. Now it was time for probably the greatest man this side of Christ to carry the Good News far and wide. So we see Paul begin his first missionary journey.
I. THE SPIRIT -- Vs. 1-2
Some five individuals in the church at Antioch were prophets and teachers. . They were busy for the Lord. While thus ministering in the word and in prayer and in a great and happy fellowship worshiping God, the voice of the Spirit of God could be heard designating Paul and Barnabas to the work of carrying the Gospel to the whole world.
Notice that it was the Holy Spirit that did the separating for service. Missionaries and preachers need a definite call by the Lord. Saul had that call at the time of his conversion. 9:15,16. At this time, after preparation Saul is called to the specific task.
Notice that Barnabas and Saul were serving the Lord at this time. They were separated from the world. If Christians desire to be powerfully used of God they must separate themselves from the world and the things of the world. I John. 2:15-17. Drinking, smoking, shows, card playing, (playing ball, swimming on Sundays) cannot be participated in and a person have spiritual power. Gasoline and water don't mix and neither do worldliness and spirituality mix to give spiritual power.
II. THE SENDING -- Vs. 3-5
Vs. 3 -- The church, following their Lord's direction sent them forth.
Vs. 4 -- The Holy Spirit sent them forth. They went to Seleucia 15 miles away and there they caught a ship to Cyprus.
Vs. 5 -- They preached on foreign soil and the church got reports no doubt and rejoiced. It is good to know your money goes to help missionaries preach the Gospel so that others can be saved. This church was supporting these missionaries in a fashion like our church does. John Mark went with them as a servant. CF. 12:12.
III. THE SORCERER -- Vs. 6-13
Vs. 6 -- As the Word of God is spreading we notice that Satan uses many times one of the basic weaknesses of the human race (covetousness, love of money) as a means of opposing God's work. It was Ananias and Sapphira at Jerusalem, Simon in Samaria and now Elymas, the Sorcerer at Paphos. These sorcerers were all working for gain. I Timothy 6:10. Bar-Jesus means son of Jesus. He was not a Christian.
Vs. 7-8 -- Elymas tried to keep Paulus from being saved. That's a dangerous thing.
Vs. 9-11 -- The Spirit of God filled Paul for this work of judgement, and the sorcerer became sightless.
Vs. 12 -- Sergius Paulus was converted, being astonished not at the miracle but at the doctrine. God's good news of salvation freely given through Christ is a greater miracle.
Vs. 13 -- Saul from now on is called Paul. At this point he takes the name of his first recorded convert. Saul was a Jewish name and means "desired'. It speaks of his life before his conversion. Paul means "little' and speaks of the way Paul felt after he met Christ.
Up to this point it had been Barnabas and Saul. Now it is Paul's company and hereafter they are referred to as Paul and Barnabas. Barnabas realized Paul's superiority in the work and took a subservient position in a Christian manner and as a result God's word prospered.
Perga was in Asia Minor and it was here that John Mark left them and returned home.
IV. THE SERMON -- Vs. 14-41
Vs. 14 -- From Paphos to Perga was 150 miles by sea; and from Perga to Antioch was 100 miles in a straight line. They probably walked.
Vs. 15 -- There are three parts to a Jewish service. The reading of a portion of the law, then a portion of the prophets, then comes the Midrash or sermon. If any distinguished visitor was present, the ruler would ask him to give the sermon. Paul was ready.
Vs. 16-24 -- Israel's history from the beginning to John the Baptist. It is very striking that Paul follows the same line of presentation of truth, although much briefer, that he heard from Stephen in Chapter 7.
Vs. 26-28 -- He makes an appeal to these Jews and mentions "the word of this salvation." In Vs. 27, the ignorance of the rulers of Israel is declared. In their very ignorance they fulfilled the prophecies which they read constantly. "Though they found no cause of death in Him," they cried for His blood.
Vs. 29 -- "They fulfilled all that was written of Him." This refers to the betrayal, denial and trial -- all the story leading up to and including the crucifixion. They took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a sepulchre. Preparation is here made to declare the resurrection which is done in Vs. 30.
Vs. 30-37 -- Evidence as to the resurrection is conclusive. "He was seen many days" by a large number of witnesses. All the promises of God made to the Jews are fulfilled "in that He hath raised up Jesus again" (17-31). Then he takes a sweep through the Old Testament Scriptures in Vs. 33-37. How these New Testament preachers exalted and depended upon the Word of God!
Vs. 38-39 -- Sins are forgiven only and salvation is provided only through Christ.
Vs. 40-41 -- Characteristic of all New Testament preaching, the message is concluded with a warning and exhortation.
V. THE SPEAKING -- Vs. 42-45
Vs. 42 -- The Gentiles wanted to hear this message too.
Vs. 43 -- Many of the Jews were saved upon hearing Paul's sermon and they followed them when they left the synagogue and Paul urged them to stand up for Christ and remain faithful to Him.
Vs. 44-45 -- Throughout the week, the area was abuzz about this new doctrine and these visitors. The next Sabbath a great multitude gathered to hear God's messengers. Wouldn't it be great today if people were so inclined? We should beware of the sin of envy. Mark. 15:10.
VI. THE SHAKING -- Vs. 46-52
Vs. 46-48 -- Upon the rejection of the Good New by the Jews, they turned to the Gentiles who gladly received it. "Why should anyone hear the Gospel twice until everyone has heard it once."
"Ordained to eternal life" refers to the fact that Salvation if predetermined in the mind of God for all those that accept His Son as their Savior. John 3:16-18; 14:6; Romans 8:29-30. "For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate˙ "
Vs. 50-52 -- Routed but Rejoicing. All manner of opposition was stirred up. The remarkable success of the witness among the Gentiles stirred up "devout and honorable women and chief men of the city." True to form when they could not answer the convincing testimony of the preacher, they persecuted him. Although, they were expelled from the city, they did not stop witnessing and they were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. When we are in God's will and serving Him we will have joy and power.
CONCLUSION: In serving the Lord there will be persecution and trouble but there will also be a great blessing. Paul and Barnabas were experiencing both as they launched out for God. The home church at Antioch received great blessing from the report of their successes. "Let us not grow weary in well doing for in due season we shall reap." Are you doing all you can and should for God?