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Development of a New Community #4

Good Questions by Josh Hunt



I have heard it said that Billy Graham was at Lausanne during the now famous and historic moon shot of earth when the cameras in the space capsule aimed back at that beautiful blue sphere. Since then, the picture has appeared in thousands of places. We have grown accustomed to seeing ourselves as part of the solar system in what could almost be called an out-of-planet perspective. Seeing it for the first time thrilled all of us, and those present with Billy by the television set that day said he responded by saying, "God, it's so small; let's just reach out and take it."

I'm unable to verify the story, but the response certainly sounds like Billy and every aggressive missionary from the first century to the twenty-first. From our perspective in any given locale on the globe, the task looks enormous. We think about language school, deputation, acculturation, and a thousand other problems that we face in sending out missionaries. All of them are real, challenging problems!

Somehow the global vision must be seen from above--from God's perspective. It is, after all, his world; and we are, as Paul so clearly put it, his light to the people who live on the globe. Surely he can overcome all the obstacles we face in sharing his grace with the lost. Oh that God would give us greater vision, broader horizons of ministry. That he would enable us to say with Billy, "God it's so small; let's just reach out and take it."

--Holman New Testament Commentary

As we read this passage, let's think about what Paul and Barnabas did to reach their small world and what we can do to reach ours.

Acts 13.1 - 12 (1)




  1. As we read this passage, see what it teaches us about how to reach our small world.
  2. Do you have a map in the back of your Bible? What do you know about Antioch? (2)
  3. How many prophets and teachers did the church in Antioch have? (3)
  4. What is the difference between a prophet and a teacher and how does each contribute to reaching our small world? (4)
  5. Is it any coincidence that the Holy Spirit called Paul and Barnabas while they were worshiping and fasting? Does worshiping and fasting have anything to do with reaching our small world for God? (5)
  6. Would it had mattered if these first missionaries would have come out of a strategy planning meeting rather than a time of worship?
  7. Verse 2. What one word describes Paul and Barnabas' ministry? (6)
  8. Verse 4. Why does God so often send in groups? Why not send them to two different places and cover twice as much ground? (7)
  9. What is the application for us as we seek to reach our small world for God? (8)
  10. Notice the emphasis on the Holy Spirit in this passage. How effective can we be in reaching our small world without the power of the Holy Spirit? (9)
  11. How can we be filled with the Spirit? (10)
  12. A fun question to ask a fellow believer is, "How did you come to faith?" How would the proconsul of Cyprus have answered this?
  13. What is a proconsul, anyway? (11)
  14. Why did Elymas not want the proconsul to believe? (12)
  15. Verse 9. Why did Saul change his name to Paul? (13)
  16. Verses 9 - 11. We teach our children to "be nice." Was Paul being nice here? (14)
  17. When does following God lead us to not be nice? Can anyone give an example?
  18. Summarize: what are some principles we can learn from this passage on how to reach our small world? (15)
  19. Let's review our strategy as a group for reaching our small world for God. (16)
  20. Let's pray that God would help us reach our small world for God. What else shall we pray about?

1. 1 In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

On Cyprus

4 The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. 5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.

6 They traveled through the whole island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, 7 who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. 9 Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, 10 "You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? 11 Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind, and for a time you will be unable to see the light of the sun."

Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. 12 When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.

Acts 13:1-12 (NIV)

2. One of the cities called Antioch was the third largest city of the Roman Empire after Rome in Italy and Alexandria in Egypt. Because so many ancient cities were called by this name, it is often called Antioch on the Orontes River or Antioch of Syria. Antioch was founded around 300 B.C. by Seleucus Nicator. From the beginning it was a bustling maritime city with its own seaport. It lay about 20 miles inland from the Mediterranean in ancient Syria on the Orontes River nearly 300 miles north of Jerusalem. Many Jews of the Diaspora lived in Antioch and engaged in commerce, enjoying the rights of citizenship in a free city. Many of Antioch's Gentiles were attracted to Judaism. As was the case with many of the Roman cities of the east, Antioch's patron deity was the pagan goddess Tyche or "Fortune."

From Antioch of Syria, a small first-century marble statue of a sleeping traveler reminiscent of Paul. In the NT only Jerusalem is more closely related to the spread of early Christianity.--Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary

3. Luke listed five different men who were ministering in the church: Barnabas, whom we have already met (Acts 4:36-37; 9:27; 11:22-26); Simeon, who may have been from Africa since he was nicknamed "Black"; Lucius, who came from Cyrene and may have been one of the founders of the church in Antioch (Acts 11:20); Manaen, who was an intimate friend (or perhaps an adopted foster brother) of Herod Antipas, who had killed John the Baptist; and Saul (Paul), last on the list but soon to become first.--Bible Exposition Commentary - New Testament

4. Prophets and teachers had different functions. The prophets were wandering preachers who had given their whole lives to listening for the word of God then taking that word to their fellow men. The teachers were the men in the local churches whose duty it was to instruct converts in the faith. --Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT)

5. Notice the climate in the congregation--worship and fasting. Not frantic activity with programs burning out everybody in the congregation. In an attitude of worship and fasting they understood the Spirit to select missionaries for God's work.--Holman New Testament Commentary

6. Work. All good ideas degenerate into work. Ministry is work. If we would reach our small world for God, it involves work.

7. Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: (10) If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! (11) Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? (12) Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV)

8. Do it together. If you would like a great clip on together, see www.sermonspice.com Do a search for "Team Hoyt." http://www.sermonspice.com/videos/108/together--team-hoyt- If you do visitation, do it together. If you use the party-driven strategy, do it together.

9. Since salvation is a supernatural work, it is of little consequence what method you use to present the gospel. However it's of major consequence that you present the gospel accurately and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Methods of evangelism alone can't convince someone to repent and turn to Christ. Only God can do that by applying His truth to the person's heart. Your task is to faithfully proclaim His truth and be sensitive to His Spirit's leading. Are you doing that? -John MacArthur http://www.biblebb.com/files/mac/sg90-31.htm

10. The fundamental meaning of being filled with the Spirit is being filled with joy that comes from God and overflows in song. And Luke would agree with that, too, because he says in Acts 13:52, "The disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit." To be sure, one of the marks of a person filled with the Spirit is that he is made strong to witness in the face of opposition (Acts 4:8, 31; 7:55; 13:9). But the reason for this is that "the joy of the Lord is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10). "When you are happy in God you are a strong and brave witness to His grace. So I repeat, whatever joy or peace you find in alcohol, the Spirit of God can give you more. -John Piper


11. A "proconsul" was a high Roman official. Also described as an intelligent man, this proconsul functioned as the governor of the island of Cyprus.--Life Application Bible Commentary

12. Trouble was brewing, however, because Bar-Jesus realized that if Sergius Paulus believed in Christ, he would no longer need a sorcerer--Life Application Bible Commentary

13. We should not be thrown by the name change in verse 9. Paul is not a Christian name, as some have suggested, but a Roman name. Up to this point Saul of Tarsus has been nothing but a Hebrew born of Hebrew parents (Phil. 3:5). His work has been exclusively with Jewish congregations even though not in Jerusalem. Here, we have a completely Roman setting, a Gentile context for the gospel which would largely characterize Paul's ministry for the rest of his days. He had carried these two names all his life. Luke, fully understanding the changing context, adopts the name Paul for the rest of Acts.--Holman New Testament Commentary

14. Paul may have been a mild man in some ways, but I tell you, when he encountered this kind of opposition, he denounced it with all his being. He recognized it as satanic and he denounced it.--J. Vernon McGee's Thru The Bible


Only people called of God to serve can be effective in his work.

Praying congregations support those who represent them around the world.

When the gospel is proclaimed, we should always expect mixed results.

When the gospel is proclaimed, the people God has called to himself will believe.


Be available for whatever God wants you to do and wherever he wants you to go.

Reflect the spirit of Antioch, and be a global Christian.

Pray for willing workers for today's harvest, and help send them out.

Understand the gospel clearly, and be able to present it with no confusion.

Recognize that God's sovereign grace prevails in all human activity.

--Holman New Testament Commentary

16. If you need a strategy, consider this one: http://www.joshhunt.com/double.htm



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