Introduction: Is it sometimes difficult to be a church leader? Does
opposition and name-calling get discouraging? Our study this week is
about Paul’s first missionary journey. We will read about the ups and
downs of his work. However, the encouraging conclusion to Acts 13 is
its conclusion: “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the
Holy Spirit.” Let’s plunge into our study to learn how we can be
filled with joy and the Holy Spirit!

  1. Antioch

    1. Read Acts 13:1. Are you surprised that Saul (later called
      Paul) is mentioned among the leading prophets and teachers
      in Antioch? (He has been accepted by the early church
      despite his past persecution of it.)

    2. Read Acts 13:2. Recall in our past studies on Acts we saw
      that leaders are selected in different ways. How are
      Barnabas and Saul selected for this responsibility? (The
      Holy Spirit makes the selection on His own.)

      1. How do you think that took place? (We are told that
        the Holy Spirit “said” and then our English
        translation has the words in quotations. The
        translators must believe that the Holy Spirit spoke
        audibly to them.)

      2. Who is the group to which the Holy Spirit spoke? (The
        Bible does not say, but there are two possibilities.
        The first is that “they” refers back to the church.
        The second possible group is the previously mentioned
        four leading prophets and teachers. They were
        worshiping, and the Holy Spirit spoke to them.)

    3. Read Acts 13:3. Where did the group send Barnabas and
      Saul? (It doesn’t say until later on. Frankly, I don’t
      think that Barnabas and Paul or the church knew at this

      1. Today, the journey we are about to explore is known
        as Paul’s first missionary journey. What does this
        teach us about doing God’s will in our age? (God will
        lead us if we are willing. We see that Saul (Paul)
        did not plan this first mission trip, instead the
        Holy Spirit initiated the trip and selected who would

  2. Cyprus

    1. Read Acts 13:4. How was the destination of Cyprus
      selected? (The Bible tells us that they were “sent on
      their way by the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit selects the

      1. Is the Holy Spirit alive and well in your church? If
        not, how are you getting anything appropriate done?

    2. Read Acts 13:5. Why do they start evangelizing in the
      Jewish synagogues? (This is something we have discussed in
      earlier lessons in this series. Christianity is the
      fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies and the sanctuary
      service of the Old Testament. It is the logical
      completion of Judaism. In terms of knowledge, observant
      Jews are way ahead of the Gentiles. It is like starting to
      teach with the advanced students.)

    3. Read Acts 13:6-7. The word “sorcerer” means magician or
      magi. I think it is translated “sorcerer” because of what
      Paul later says about him. What, at a minimum, do we know
      about this magician? (He is a false prophet. He trades in

      1. What exalted position does this magician hold? (He is
        an advisor to the Roman official in charge of the

      2. What do we learn about Sergius Paulus, the Roman
        official? (He is smart, a man of understanding, and
        interested in hearing the gospel.)

        1. How smart can he be given that he is advised by
          a deceitful person?

          1. Is there a lesson in this for us?

    4. Read Acts 13:8. What does this tell us about the nature of
      Bar-Jesus’ magic? (He is aligned with Satan.)

    5. Read Acts 13:9-10. What about a gentle approach to
      sinners? Didn’t Jesus model that? (We need to distinguish
      between mere sinners, and those who are enemies of the
      gospel. We can be direct with enemies.)

      1. What cautionary note do we find about calling out
        enemies of God? (The text says that Paul was “filled
        with the Holy Spirit.” We need to be sure that the
        Holy Spirit is leading in harsh language like this.)

    6. Read Acts 13:11. What do you think is going through Paul’s
      mind as he pronounces this judgment on Bar-Jesus? (This is
      exactly what happened to Paul!)

      1. Do you think that God has the same outcome in mind
        for Bar-Jesus? (Notice that he is only blind for a
        limited period of time. It seems very much like what
        happened to Paul. We never hear of Bar-Jesus again,
        so we do not know.)

    7. Read Acts 13:12. Why does this say that Sergius Paulus
      believed? (His belief is not tied to making Bar-Jesus
      blind. Instead, the text says that “he was amazed at the
      teaching about the Lord.” It was the teaching, not the

  3. Pisidian Antioch

    1. Read Acts 13:13-15. Consider the way they hold “church.”
      First, they have the customary Torah readings, then they
      give strangers the floor. Would you do that at your
      church? (I would not. Too many times I recall a visitor
      coming to my Sabbath School class and making an
      inappropriate remark. If a comment is problematic, it
      would be worse to give the visitor an open opportunity.
      Perhaps that is why the leaders only asked for “a message
      of encouragement.”)

      1. Why do you think this happened here? (The prompting
        of the Holy Spirit.)

    2. Read Acts 13:16. Who is in the audience? (Both Jews and
      Gentiles who worshiped at the synagogue.)

    3. We are going to skip a discussion of Acts 13:17-38 because
      it is another of Paul’s gospel sermons that recites the
      Jewish history and Bible verses that support his argument
      that Jesus is the Messiah. You should, however, read
      Paul’s sermon.

    4. Read Acts 13:38-39. What change in belief does this
      require? (They must accept Jesus to have their sins
      forgiven. What they currently believe will not justify

    5. Read Acts 13:40-41. Did the prophets predict that what
      Jesus would do something unbelievable? (Read Habakkuk 1:5-6. This is the text that Paul recites. Strangely, it is
      about the Babylonian invasion and not Jesus’ coming.)

      1. Let’s discuss this. Is it appropriate to take a
        statement from the Bible that is completely out of
        context and use it for your argument?

      2. Who destroyed the first temple? (The Babylonians.)

        1. Why did God allow His first temple to be
          destroyed? (If you read Habakkuk chapter 1, you
          will see that Habakkuk is calling for God to
          save His people from injustice and wrongdoing.
          God responds by sending the Babylonians to
          execute judgment. See Habakkuk 1:12.)

        2. What is going to happen to the second temple?
          (It would soon be destroyed by the Romans. God
          executed judgment on the city that executed
          Him. Paul is not taking this text out of
          context, it is a warning against rejecting

    6. Read Acts 13:42-43. Considering what Paul just said to
      them, isn’t this a great response?

    7. Read Acts 13:44-45. The positive response changes. What
      caused it to change? (Jealousy.)

      1. Why should the Jewish leaders be jealous? (Paul and
        Barnabas are attracting a large crowd.)

      2. Are you jealous of Christian leaders who attract
        large crowds?

    8. Read Acts 13:46-48. What made the Gentiles more receptive
      to the gospel?

    9. Read Acts 13:49-52. Why are the disciples filled with joy?
      (This is a lesson that we can learn. They had joy because
      they were doing God’s will. It did not matter that some
      leaders were abusive towards them and drove them away.
      They were pleasing God.)

    10. Friend, are you encouraged by this study? Like Paul and
      Barnabas, you may face resistance. You may have opponents.
      But, if you follow the leading of the Holy Spirit you will
      be filled with joy! Why not decide right now to seek to do
      God’s will?

  4. Next week: The Jerusalem Council.