Author Topic: SDA Sabbath School Lesson 7--3rd Quarter 2018--Paul’s First Missionary Journey  (Read 1166 times)

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Wally

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Lesson 7 August 11-17







Paul’s First Missionary Journey






Commentary in Navy                  Inspiration in Maroon



So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants:  we have done that which was our duty to do.  Luke 17:10

Wally

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Tuesday ↥         August 14

Pisidian Antioch: Part II

Acts 13:38, 39, presents the issue of the law’s inability to justify, an important doctrinal concept. Despite the binding character of its moral commandments, the law is unable to bring justification because it cannot produce perfect obedience in those who observe it (Acts 15:10, Rom. 8:3). Even if the law could produce perfect obedience in us, that perfect obedience cannot atone for past sins (Rom. 3:19; Gal. 3:10, 11). This is why justification cannot be earned, not even partially. We can receive it only by faith in Jesus’ atoning sacrifice (Rom. 3:28, Gal. 2:16), a gift that we do not deserve. However central it may be to the Christian life, obedience cannot earn us salvation.

Read Acts 13:42-49. How did the synagogue receive Paul’s message?

Notwithstanding the harsh way Paul ended his message, the reaction of most in the synagogue was highly favorable. The following Sabbath, however, things changed drastically. It is highly probable that “the Jews” who were rejecting the gospel message were the synagogue leaders, those who represented official Judaism. Luke ascribes their ruthless attitude toward Paul to jealousy.

In the ancient world, several aspects of Judaism, such as monotheism, life style, and even the Sabbath, exerted a strong attraction among non-Jews, and many of them joined the Jewish faith as proselytes. Circumcision, however, was a serious hindrance, as it was considered a barbaric and disgusting practice. Consequently, many Gentiles would attend the synagogues to worship God but without formally converting to Judaism. These were known as “God-fearers”, and it might have been the God-fearers, as well as the proselytes, of the Antioch synagogue (Acts 13:16, 43) who helped to spread the news about Paul’s message among the people in general, and they came in great numbers. The possibility to experience salvation without first having to adhere to Judaism was no doubt particularly attractive to many.

This may help to explain the jealousy of the Jewish leaders. In any case, by rejecting the gospel they were not only excluding themselves from God’s salvation but also liberating Paul and Barnabas to turn their full attention to the Gentiles, who rejoiced and praised God for including them in His saving plan.

Wednesday ↥         August 15

Iconium

Under the instigation of the Jewish leaders in Antioch, the local authorities incited a mob against Paul and Barnabas and ran them out of town (Acts 13:50). The disciples, however, were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:52). The missionaries then headed to the city of Iconium.

Read Acts 14:1-7. What was the result of Paul and Barnabas’s activities in Iconium?

In Iconium, Paul and Barnabas continued their practice of addressing first the Jews before turning to the Gentiles. Paul’s sermon in Antioch (Acts 13:16-41) offers the main reason behind the Jewish priority in their ministry: the election of Israel, with all that it involved (Rom. 3:2; 9:4, 5), and God’s fulfillment of His promise of a Savior from David’s lineage. Despite the fact that many Jews were rejecting the gospel, Paul never lost hope of a substantial Jewish conversion.

In Romans 9-11, Paul makes it clear that “not all who are descended from Israel are Israel” (Rom. 9:6, NIV) and that it is only because of God’s mercy that some of the Jews believe at all. God has not rejected His people, but “at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace” (Rom. 11:5, NIV). Paul continued to preach the gospel to Gentiles, though he believed that one day more Jews would come to faith in Jesus.

“Paul’s argument in Romans 9-11 offers a further explanation of the mission strategy he pursues in the narrative of Acts and confronts every generation of Christians with the theological importance of bearing witness to unbelieving Jews.”—David G. Peterson, The Acts of the Apostles (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), p. 401.

The situation was not much different from that in Antioch. The first reaction of both Jews and Gentiles to Paul’s gospel was highly positive, but again the unbelieving Jews, possibly the leaders of the local Jewish community, stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the missionaries, causing a division among the people. As the opponents were planning to attack and lynch Paul and Barnabas, the two missionaries decided to leave the town and move to the next one.

More than just hearing the gospel, Jewish people need to see it lived among those who profess the name of Jesus. If you have Jewish acquaintances, what kind of witness are you presenting to them?
So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants:  we have done that which was our duty to do.  Luke 17:10

Wally

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Thursday ↥         August 16

Lystra and Derbe

The next place Paul and Barnabas visited was Lystra, an obscure village some eighteen miles (about 29 km) southwest of Iconium. Though they spent some time there (Acts 14:6, 7, 15), Luke reports only one story and its developments: the healing of a lame man, probably a beggar, who suffered from that malady from birth.

Read Acts 14:5-19. What did their reaction to Paul reveal about just how steeped in ignorance the people were?

The crowd was so impressed by the miracle that they mistook Paul and Barnabas for gods—Barnabas for Zeus, the supreme god of the Greek pantheon, and Paul for Hermes, Zeus’s attendant and spokesman. In fact, the people wanted to offer them sacrifices.

Latin poet Ovid (43 B.C.-A.D. 17/18) had earlier recorded a legend of these same two gods disguised as humans visiting a town in the same area (“the hills of Phrygia”) and seeking a place to rest. According to the legend, a humble, elderly couple treated them kindly and with hospitality; the rest of the people were indifferent. Because of their kindness and hospitality toward the incognito visitors, the couple had their house transformed into a temple and themselves into priests, while the rest of the town was completely destroyed (Metamorphoses 611-724).

With such a story circulating in this region, the reaction of the people to Paul’s miracle comes as no surprise. The story also helps to explain why the crowd assumed that the missionaries were those two gods, and not Asclepius, for example, the god of healing. Paul and Barnabas, however, were able to stop their false worship of themselves. In the end, some opponents from Antioch and Iconium caused a complete reversal of the situation, and Paul was stoned and taken as dead.

Read Acts 14:20-26. Where did Paul and Barnabas finish their journey? And what did they do on their way back?

Paul said: ”We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22, NKJV). What does that mean? How have you, perhaps, experienced what he is saying there? Most importantly, how can you learn to grow in faith from whatever “tribulations” you are facing?

Friday ↥         August 17

Further Study: “During the life of Christ on earth he had sought to lead the Jews out of their exclusiveness. The conversion of the centurion and of the Syrophenician woman, were instances of his direct work outside of the acknowledged people of Israel. The time had now come for active and continued work among the Gentiles, of whom whole communities received the gospel gladly, and glorified God for the light of an intelligent faith. The unbelief and malice of the Jews did not turn aside the purpose of God; for a new Israel was grafted into the old olive-tree. The synagogues were closed against the apostles; but private houses were thrown open for their use, and public buildings of the Gentiles were also used in which to preach the word of God.”—Ellen G. White, Sketches From the Life of Paul, p. 51.

“In all their missionary endeavors Paul and Barnabas sought to follow Christ's example of willing sacrifice and faithful, earnest labor for souls. Wide-awake, zealous, untiring, they did not consult inclination or personal ease, but with prayerful anxiety and unceasing activity they sowed the seed of truth. And with the sowing of the seed, the apostles were careful to give to all who took their stand for the gospel, practical instruction that was of untold value. This spirit of earnestness and godly fear made upon the minds of the new disciples a lasting impression regarding the importance of the gospel message.”—Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 186.

Discussion Questions:

    Dwell more on the story of John Mark’s fleeing them when things got hard. Paul and Barnabas later had an argument over John Mark, when Barnabas wanted to use him again and Paul didn’t (see Acts 15:37). Years later, however, Paul wrote: “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry” (2 Tim. 4:11, NKJV). What lessons are here for us regarding those who, in certain circumstances, prove unfaithful to their calling?

    Review Paul and Barnabas’s response to the Lystrians when they were mistaken for gods (Acts 14:14-18). How can we respond when tempted to take credit for what God has done?

    Read Acts 14:21-23. Based on Paul and Barnabas’s example, what can we individually and as a church do to nourish or strengthen the faith of new converts?

    How can we make sure that we don’t let man-made traditions, or even beliefs that we have held for a long time, get in the way of advancing in truth, as did the religious leaders who opposed Paul?

So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants:  we have done that which was our duty to do.  Luke 17:10

Richard Myers

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Sabbath Afternoon

Read for This Week’s Study: Acts 13, 2 Cor. 4:7-10, Rom. 10:1-4, Rom. 3:19, Acts 14:1-26, Romans 9-11.

Memory Text: ”Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:    And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” Acts 13:38, 39
 
What is the "law of Moses", and why could no one be justified (converted) by it? It is important to understand the law of Moses had no power to save, only to condemn. No matter how many teach otherwise, it remains a Bible truth, you nor a Jew can "be justified by the law of Moses.”


Most certainly, the gospel was to go to the Gentiles as well as the Jews. This was a message that, slowly but surely, the early Jewish Christians were starting to grasp.

Our first explicit report of Gentiles joining the faith in large scale relates to Antioch. In other words, it was in Antioch that the first Gentile church was founded, even if it also had a substantial contingent of Jewish believers (Gal. 2:11-13). Due to the missionary zeal of its founders and the new impetus provided by the arrival of Barnabas and Paul, the church there grew rapidly, and it became the first important Christian center outside Judea. In fact, in some aspects it even surpassed the church in Jerusalem.

With the apostles still stationed in Jerusalem, Antioch became the birthplace of Christian missions. It was from there, and with the initial support of the local believers, that Paul left on all three of his missionary journeys. It was because of their commitment that Christianity became what Jesus had intended: a world religion, one in which the gospel would be spread to “every nation, and kindred, tongue, and people” (Rev. 14:6).

Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, August 18.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Sunday          August 12

Salamis and Paphos

In Acts 13, Luke shifts the scene back to Antioch in order to introduce Paul’s first missionary journey, which occupies two entire chapters (Acts 13, 14). From here through the end of the book, the focus is set on Paul and his Gentile missions.

This is the first missionary endeavor in Acts that is intentional and carefully planned by an individual church; yet, Luke is careful in highlighting that such endeavor originated in God, not in the believers’ own initiative. The point, however, is that God can operate only when we willingly place ourselves in a position where He can use us.

Read Acts 13:1-12.


 13:1   Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 
 13:2   As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. 
 13:3   And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid [their] hands on them, they sent [them] away. 
 13:4   So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. 
 13:5   And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to [their] minister. 
 13:6   And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name [was] Barjesus: 
 13:7   Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. 
 13:8   But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. 
 13:9   Then Saul, (who also [is called] Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, 
 13:10   And said, O full of all subtlety and all mischief, [thou] child of the devil, [thou] enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? 
 13:11   And now, behold, the hand of the Lord [is] upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. 
 13:12   Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.


What main points does Luke want to stress concerning Barnabas and Paul’s activities in Cyprus?

A period of intercessory prayer and fasting preceded the departure of the missionaries; in this context, the laying on of hands was basically an act of consecration, or a commendation to God’s grace (Acts 14:26) for the task at hand.

The island of Cyprus is in the northeastern corner of the Mediterranean Sea, not far from Antioch. It was a natural place to start, as not only was Barnabas from Cyprus but the gospel had also already reached the island. Yet, certainly there was still much to be done.

Once in Cyprus, Barnabas and Paul—and John Mark, Barnabas’s cousin (Acts 15:39, Col. 4:10), who was with them—preached in the synagogues of Salamis. This was Paul’s regular practice: to preach first in the synagogues before turning to Gentiles. Because Jesus was Israel’s Messiah, it was more than natural to share the gospel with Jews first.

After Salamis, they moved westward, preaching (we can assume) as they went, until they came to the capital, Paphos. The narrative then revolves around two individuals: a Jewish sorcerer named Bar-Jesus, also known as Elymas, and Sergius Paulus, the local Roman governor. The story provides a good example of how the gospel was met with contrasting responses: on one hand, open opposition; on the other, faithful acceptance even by highly prestigious Gentiles. The language of Acts 13:12 clearly implies conversion.

Think how, in this case, it was a Jew who resisted the truth while a Gentile accepted it. How might this help us understand why sometimes those of other Christian denominations are harder to reach with “present truth” than are those of no faith at all?

Yes, this is sometimes true, but a better application is not with other denominations, but with God's church  today since Israel was God's church then. Why is it at times hard to reach our own church members with truth? I often share with "Gentiles" the truth that a virus can cause cancer, and that a lot of dairy is full of Leukemia Virus. Only one or two "Gentiles" have rejected this truth over the last 30 years, where most church members do not want to hear it. Why is this?
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Monday         August 13

Pisidian Antioch: Part I


From Cyprus, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga, in Pamphylia, on the southern coast of modern Turkey. Before they moved on to Pisidian Antioch, Luke reports two significant incidental changes: Paul becomes the leading figure (up until here, Barnabas is always mentioned first) and Luke stops using Paul’s Jewish name (“Saul”) and starts referring to him only as “Paul” (Acts 13:9). This is probably because from now on Paul finds himself mostly in a Greco-Roman environment.

Acts 13:13 records John Mark’s going back to Jerusalem. We are not informed in the texts themselves of the reason for John Mark’s desertion. Ellen G. White wrote that, faced with fear and discouraged because of the hardship ahead of them, “Mark was intimidated and, losing all courage, refused to go farther and returned to Jerusalem.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 170. God never promised it would be easy. On the contrary, Paul knew from the very beginning that his service for Jesus would involve much suffering (Acts 9:16), but he learned to rely entirely on God’s power, and in that lay the secret of his strength (2 Cor. 4:7-10).

Read Acts 13:38.

Be it known unto you therefore, men [and] brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: 


What was the essence of Paul’s message in the Antioch synagogue?

Acts 13:16-41 contains the first of Paul’s sermons recorded in the New Testament. It was not, of course, the first sermon Paul gave, and there is no question that it represents only a brief summary of what he said.

The sermon is divided into three main parts. It begins with shared beliefs about God’s election of Israel and the kingship of David (Acts 13:17-23); this part is intended to establish a point of contact with his Jewish audience. Next, it presents Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promises of a descendant of David who could bring salvation to Israel (Acts 13:24-37). The concluding part is a warning against rejecting the salvation that is offered through Jesus (Acts 13:38-41).

The climax of the sermon is verses 38, 39, which enclose the core of Paul’s message on justification. Forgiveness and justification are available only through Jesus, not through Moses’ law. This passage does not say that the law has been abrogated. It only highlights its inability to perform what the Jews expected it to do, namely, justification (Rom. 10:1-4). Such prerogative rests solely with Jesus Christ (Gal. 2:16).

What does it mean that salvation is only through Jesus? How do you reconcile the necessity to keep God’s moral law with the fact that the law is unable to justify?

Let's look at a young child who has  been told to not play in the street. Johnny does not obey his father and is found playing in the street. What can his father do to get the child to obey? If he warns the child that he will be disciplined if he plays in the street, then there is a good chance the child will not play in the street when father is around. But, when father goes to work, then there is a good chance he will play in the street, unless.......what? Which children obey their parents when they are not around? If the child really loves his father, then he will obey out of love.

So it is with the law of God.  The law has no power to cause obedience to it. It threatens condemnation, but does not empower to obedience. What can the sinner do in order to keep God's law? He must fall in love with Jesus and surrender his heart to Jesus. Then the Holy Spirit will take possession of the heart and bring with Him love, joy, and peace. All of the fruits of the Spirit will come with Him. As long as the repentant sinners continues to surrender His whole heart to Christ, he will have divine power to obey. True obedience from the heart is only possible if the individual is born again of the  Spirit. As long as the repentant sinner abides in Christ and Christ in him through the Spirit, then obedience to the moral law will be seen in the life. It is the power of an indwelling Savior  that give power to obey the law of God. Man is evil by nature and cannot obey any moral law from the heart until Jesus takes possession of the heart.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Glen

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The law has no power to cause obedience to it. It threatens condemnation, but does not empower to obedience.

As received in Christ, [God’s Law]...works in us the purity of character that will bring joy to us through eternal ages. To the obedient it is a wall of protection. Our High Calling, p. 137.6

Mary, the mother of Christ, when replying to the Angel at the announcement that she would conceive of the Holy Ghost the Son of God, replied, "be it unto me according to thy word." This, is the secret of what God's Law; His spoken word, may DO within the Believer.
...Jesus...will live through (YOU), giving (YOU) the inspiration of His sanctifying Spirit, imparting to (YOUR) soul a vital transfusion of Himself. Sabbath-School Worker 02-01-96.03  ...as the blood is in the body, and circulate there as a vitalizing power... 7T 189.02

Richard Myers

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Amen, dear brother!  The law when obeyed by the power of grace in the heart will develop Christian character. No one can obtain the character of Moses just before he died unless he is obeying the law of God. But, we no power to obey the law of God unless we have received grace into the heart. In other words, we must be born again of the Spirit that we may have power to obey the law of God. It is impossible to obey the law from the heart unless one is converted. Until one is converted the law condemns the unrepentant sinner no matter how hard he tries to obey the law. Power comes from Jesus through grace.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Glen

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I submit the thought that God HAS spoken to mankind through Christ, the only begotten Son of the living God. He is to the Father as a word that expresses the thought,—as a thought made audible. Christ is the word of God. Sons and Daughters of God 21

Michael, Jesus Christ, [1 Corinthians 10:4] spoke the words of The Ten Commandments upon Mt. Sinai. Upon hearing that WORD, each Israelite had all one needs to obey: God's spoken WORD. So today, as we read the Scriptures, the vilest SINNER has, in the reading of the WORD, what is needed to be an overcomer. To respond to that WORD with but a thought or whisper of faith, is to receive the GIFT, to be born again. As Paul declares, For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 1 Corinthians 4:15; And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 1:14

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Jeremiah 18:
6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.
7 At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it;
8 If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.
9 And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it;
10 If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.
11 Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.
12 And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.


The only WAY you or I might make [our] ways and [our] doings good is to respond with the motive and thoughts of Rahab: And she said, According unto your words, so be it. Joshua 2:21 And Mary, as the Angel announced that she would conceive by the moving upon her of the Holy Ghost, be it unto me according to thy word. Luke 1:38 She was promised that that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. Luke 1:35

that holy thing, the imparted Spirit of God, is to live and grow in each one of us, speaking and acting the very life of Christ.

The Lord Jesus loves His people, and when they put their trust in Him, depending wholly upon Him, He strengthens them. He will live through them, giving them the inspiration of His sanctifying Spirit, imparting to the soul a vital transfusion of Himself. He acts through their faculties and causes them to choose His will and to act out His character. That I May Know Him 78

The impartation of the Spirit is the impartation of the life of Christ. Those only who are thus taught of God, those only who possess the inward working of the Spirit, and in whose life the Christ-life is manifested... God's Amazing Grace 212

The Word is made flesh, and dwells among us, in those who receive the holy precepts of the word of God.
God can and will do a great work for every human being who will open the heart to the word of God, and let it enter the soul-temple and expel every idol. Summoned to the effort, mind and heart take in the wonderful disclosures of the revealed will of God. The soul that is converted will be made stronger to resist evil. In the study of the Bible the converted soul eats the flesh and drinks the blood of the Son of God, which He himself interprets as the receiving and doing of His words, that are spirit and life. The Word is made flesh, and dwells among us, in those who receive the holy precepts of the word of God. The Saviour of the world has left a holy, pure example for all men. It illuminates, uplifts, and brings immortality to all who obey the divine requirements. Fundamentals of Christian Education, Page 378

...Jesus...will live through (YOU), giving (YOU) the inspiration of His sanctifying Spirit, imparting to (YOUR) soul a vital transfusion of Himself. Sabbath-School Worker 02-01-96.03  ...as the blood is in the body, and circulate there as a vitalizing power... 7T 189.02