Week 8 Discussion – ACTS: We Are The Church.

Published November 12, 2023

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Week 8 Discussion – ACTS: We Are The Church.

Table of Contents

Welcome to our 12-week Bible study, ‘Acts: We Are The Church,’ delving into the Book of Acts—a continuation of Jesus’ ministry through the early church.

Throughout this study, you’ll gain a profound understanding of how the early church carried forward the mission of Jesus, performing miracles, spreading the gospel, and facing challenges with unwavering faith. We’ll explore the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and the formation of a vibrant community of believers.

Each week, we’ll dive into a different aspect of Acts, examining themes of faith, courage, and unity among believers. Together, we’ll discover what it means to be part of the body of Christ and how these early church experiences can inform our lives as modern-day Christians.

Discover a profound understanding of the Scriptures, relish the fellowship with fellow believers, and experience the delight of nurturing your faith while sharing the Gospel of Jesus with others. Don’t miss out!

Week 8: Paul and Barnabas are Sent

Here’s a quick recap of what we covered in week eight using Justin S. Holcomb’s Acts: A 12-Week Study (Knowing the Bible) as our weekly discussion guide:

  • An introduction to early Christian preachers.
  • How no one is beyond the reach of God’s radical grace.
  • The vastness of the diametrically opposing responses to the preaching of the gospel.
  • How division arises when the message of Christ is proclaimed.

In Acts 13:3-4, Saul and Barnabas are sent out by the Holy Spirit. (Now that he is working in Gentile territory, the Hebrew “Saul” becomes known by his Roman name, “Paul”; 13:9) Where do Paul and Barnabas start preaching first when they arrive in Cyprus (13:5), in Antioch of Pisidia (v. 14), and in Iconium (14:1)? Considering Acts 3:25-26 and 13:46, why is this pattern noteworthy? In what way is it a partial fulfillment of Jesus’ words in Acts 1:8?

In Acts 13:5, Paul and Barnabas first started sharing their message in Cyprus. When they reached Antioch of Pisidia (v. 14) and Iconium (14:1), they continued this pattern by initially going to the synagogues to preach.

This approach is noteworthy because it strategically targeted its audience. The synagogues provided a familiar setting for both Jews and God-fearing Gentiles, making it easier to convey the message of Jesus, especially as it related to the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies.

In Acts 3:25-26 and Acts 13:46, this method aligns with God’s plan to offer salvation to the Jews first, in accordance with prophecy, before extending it to the Gentiles. Their adherence to this strategy also aligns with Jesus’ instruction in Acts 1:8, where He emphasized spreading the message from Jerusalem (to the Jews) to Judea, Samaria (Jewish-influenced areas like Antioch of Pisidia), and eventually to the ends of the earth (Gentile regions like Iconium).

This approach laid a solid foundation for their broader outreach efforts and displayed a strategic progression in fulfilling their mission to share the Gospel and make disciples.

In 13:10-11, Paul delivers a seemingly harsh pronouncement on the magician Elymas.  One can hear an echo of God’s mercy in Paul’s own life when he himself was sternly rebuked for opposing Christ and was struck with blindness for a time.  What does the text say was the result of Paul’s rebuke (13:11-12)?

In Acts 13:10-11, Paul sternly rebuked the magician Elymas, causing Elymas to be struck with blindness. This incident had a powerful effect on the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, who witnessed it. Sergius Paulus was amazed at the teaching of the Lord and believed.

This event illustrates how God’s mercy, even when delivered through stern rebukes, can lead to transformative experiences. Just as Paul himself experienced God’s mercy when he was struck with blindness on the road to Damascus, Elymas went through a life-changing moment due to Paul’s rebuke. It emphasizes God’s capacity to bring about change and guide people to faith in various ways, even through strong responses to wrongdoing.

In Acts 13:14, Paul and Barnabas preach the gospel. What are the core elements of the gospel found in verses 28, 30, 31, 34, and 38?

In Acts 13:14, Paul and Barnabas preached the gospel. The core elements of the gospel in these verses are the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of Jesus, the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies in Jesus, and justification through faith. These elements emphasize the good news of salvation, forgiveness, and the fulfillment of God’s promises through Jesus, our Savior.

In Acts 13:45-52, Jewish opposition to the gospel once again begins to rise. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:22-23 that “Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles.” The “stumbling block to Jews” of Christ crucified has been a common theme through Acts so far. What is the reason given for Jewish opposition in Acts 13:44-45? What happens when the Gentiles are offered the good news (vv.48-49)?

In Acts 13:44-45, the reason given for Jewish opposition is jealousy and contradiction to the message of Paul and Barnabas. When the Gentiles are offered the good news in verses 48-49, we see that they respond with joy and belief, and the word of the Lord spreads throughout the region. This indicates that the Gentiles were more receptive to the message of Christ, which further fueled the jealousy and opposition from some of the Jews.

God’s grace begins to multiply and spread through the Gentiles in the region. What does the text give as the determining factor in who believed the gospel (Acts 13:48 and 14:27)? Read Ephesians 2:1-10. Where does Paul say that faith come from?

In Acts 13:48 and 14:27, the text tells us that those who believed in the gospel were the ones chosen by God for eternal life.

When we read Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul clarifies that faith is a gift from God. He says that we are saved by grace through faith, and this faith is not something we can achieve ourselves. It’s a gift from God, so we can’t boast about it.

Take a few moments now to ask the Lord to bless you, change you, and help you understand and apply the unique light Acts throws on the gospel to your life.

We hope these notes have helped catch up on what we’ve covered. We’re excited to continue our study of Acts together next week in week nine!

In the meantime, explore a very engaging animation video from the Bible Project team that explains the first twelve chapters of the Book of Acts.

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