Sent to be Truth-Speaking Witnesses
Have you (or someone you know) ever felt called by God to do something unusual or radical? Talk about the situation and how you (or that person) responded. What were the results?
- Read Acts 13:1–12. Look carefully at the list of prophets and teachers in the church at Antioch. [Note: According to Acts 11:19–22, this was the first truly multi-ethnic local church, with Jews and Gentiles together in one local congregation.] What do you notice about these people? What were they doing?
- How often are praying and fasting mentioned in verses 2–3? Why do you think the people prayed and fasted before and after the selection of Barnabas and Saul?
- Who sets them apart for the work? Who sends them on their way? How does the Spirit’s initiative interact with the people’s listening and obeying?
- What would you think, and how would your church react, if next Sunday the elders announced, “This week the Holy Spirit told us to send two of our leaders off to the mission field full time. And so we sent them off. They’re gone, and we’re not really sure where they’ll end up”?
- According to verses 4–5, where did Barnabas and Paul go? [Note: You might want to locate these places on a map in the back of a Bible or in a Bible atlas.] What did they do when they got there? Why do you think they started in the synagogues?
- They continued to preach until they came to Paphos, the seat of the Roman government on the island. In verses 6–8, who was interested in what they had to say? Who tried to stop them? Why?
- Imagine that you are doing evangelism in another state, and a senator of that state invites you to share the gospel with him. How would you feel? What if while you are there one of his top aides opposes you? What would you do?
- In verse 9, before Paul responds to Bar-Jesus/Elymas in words, what does Luke say about Paul? Why do you think Luke mentions these things?
- How does Paul respond to Bar-Jesus’ (Elymas’s) opposition? Note that verse 6 calls the man Bar-Jesus, which means “son of Jesus.” In verse 8, Luke calls him by his translated name, Elymas. In verse 10, what does Paul call him? Why do you think Paul responds with such harsh sounding words? Do you think that what happened to Elymas was fitting? What would you be feeling if you were there and witnessed these events?
- How did the Proconsul react when he saw what happened? Does his response surprise you? Why or why not?
Do you know anyone like the Proconsul—someone who is open to the gospel and seeking to learn more? How can you help them? Do you know anyone like Elymas—someone who openly opposes the gospel, or who tries to interfere with your sharing the gospel? How can you pray for them? How can you, led by the Holy Spirit, speak the truth to them in a way they will understand?
Many thanks to those who gave their time to the writing and editing of these studies: the InterVarsity® staff authors (mentioned with each study); Kathy Burrows (design); Jeff Yourison (layout editor); and Shelley Soceka and Judy Yourison (proofreaders).—Bob Grahmann, editor
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