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The Evangelistic Church: AG Sunday School Teachers. 16/07/2023


Memory Verse: Acts 11:18

When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life (KJV).

Central Truth
The gospel is for all people everywhere.

The Lesson Outline
1. Evangelising Both Jews and Gentiles
A. Empowered by God’s Hand– Acts 11:19-21
B. Encouraged to Be Faithful– Acts 11:22-26

2. Persecution and Deliverance
A. James Martyred; Peter Spared–
Acts 12:1-11
B. Rejoicing and Judgement– Acts 12:12-23

3. Gentile Believers Help Jewish Believers
A. Prophesied Famine– Acts 11:27-28
B. Relief Provided– Acts 11:29-30; 12:24-25

Learning Objectives

At the end of this lesson, students will be able to:
1. Learn how Gentiles came to faith in Christ though the witness of Jewish believers.

2. Share God’s desire to reach every people group for Christ.

3. Be encouraged to seek God for opportunities to cross cultural boundaries with the gospel.

*Introducing the Lesson
The Book of Acts begins with Jesus’ command for His followers at first, all Jews–to tell the world about Him.

Major themes include the extension of the gospel to non-Jewish people and the relationship of Gentile and Jewish Christians. Today’s lesson begins with Jewish believers, scattered by persecution, sharing their faith with Gentiles. They discovered that God’s promise of power was the same for every believer, not only the apostles.

*The Holy Scriptures
Acts 11:19-21,25-26
[19]Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.
[20]And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus.
[21]And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.
[25]Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul:
[26]And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

Acts 12:1-3,7,21,23
[1]Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.
[2]And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.
[3]And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)
[7]And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.
[21]And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them.
[23]And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.

Acts 11:27,29
[27]And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.
[29]Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea:

Acts 12:24-25
[24]But the word of God grew and multiplied.
[25]And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.

1. Evangelising Both Jews and Gentiles
A. Empowered by God’s Hand–Acts 11:19-21
Acts 8:4 states that the believers driven from Jerusalem by persecution preached Christ “wherever they went (NLT).
Luke then focused on Philip and his witness to Samaria. After recording Saul’s conversion and Peter’s ministry to Cornelius, Luke returned to the witness of those scattered, who had made it all the way to Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Syrian Antioch (11:19). The capital of Syria, Antioch would be the starting point for all three of Paul’s missionary journeys.

The scattered believers spoke at first only to Jews. Many of these witnesses, although Jews, had been born and had spent their lives outside of Israel and been exposed to other peoples and cultures. Afterward they had been part of the church at Jerusalem, having accepted the gospel.

This lifetime of preparation readied them for the next step: on arrival at Antioch, they crossed the same barrier Peter had crossed earlier and began telling Gentiles about Jesus Christ (verse 20).

God was pleased with this outreach; “the hand of the Lord” was with the believers in their ministry (verse 21, KJV). “

The hand of the Lord” is a frequent biblical expression meaning God’s power or God’s Spirit, sometimes manifested miracles (Ezra 7:6,8-9; Ezekiel 1:3: 3:21-28). God did not limit His power to the witness of the apostles in the Book of Acts (Acts 6:8; 8:6; 9:17-18); nor does He do so today (see John 14:12). This display of God’s power in Antioch through ordinary disciples resulted in many committing their lives to Jesus Christ.

Questions for Applicationq
What barriers can you ask God to help you cross in your witness for Christ?

*How can the example of “ordinary” believers in Acts serve to encourage “ordinary” believers today?

*In what ways have you seen the hand of the Lord at work in your Iife?

B. Encouraged to Be Faithful–Acts 11:22-26
The news of fruitful evangelism in Antioch reached the church at Jerusalem.

Barnabas- seen earlier in generous giving, and in helping Saul toward acceptance- was sent by the church to Antioch (Acts 11:22). He rejoiced on finding the large number of Gentiles who had recently accepted Christ (verse 23).

Although we are not told the reason he was sent, Barnabas’ name, meaning “the Son of Encouragement,” suggests that his fellow disciples knew he could, by the power of the Holy Spirit, help the new believers start strong in their life in Christ (verse 24), Even so, his ministry in Antioch only began with encouragement, It also resulted in a new surge of evangelism, with many more coming to Christ.

Barnabas, knowing that the many new disciples in Antioch would require teaching, went to Tarsus to locate Saul (verse 25). Saul had been commissioned by Christ to take the gospel to the Gentiles (9:15).

He would thus spend an entire year with Barnabas teaching the Gentile converts in Antioch (11:26), This would serve as training for Saul’s Gentile missions, which began in
Acts 13.

Luke made note that Jesus’ followers were called “Christians” first in Antioch. This was likely an insult or pejorative coming at them from unbelievers. With time, however, “Christian” would become not a taunt, but a joyful designation that the children of God accepted for themselves (see 1 Peter 4:16).

Questions for Application
In what way can you encourage those who have recently accepted Christ as Saviour?

Why should the title “Christian” shape your behaviour not only publicly but privately as well ?

2. Persecution and Deliverance
A. James Martyred; Peter Spared–Acts 12:1-11
King Herod Agrippa l, grandson of Herod the Great, wanted to be seen as a devout Jew. He arrested some of the early disciples with the intention of mistreating them (Acts 12:1).

One of those arrested- then executed by the sword was the apostle James (verse 2). He and the apostle John, his brother, were two of Jesus’ earliest followers (Matthew 4:21-22). Called “Sons of Thunder by Jesus for their forceful manner, they wanted to be elevated to important positions in Christ’s kingdom (Mark 3:17, NLT; 10:35-45). Jesus emphasised, however, that greatness came by service, and that James and John would join Him in the service of suffering.

Having pleased his Jewish subjects by the death of James, Herod followed up by arresting Peter during Passover week (Acts 12:3). Likely knowing about Peter’s previous escape from prison, he took no chances, placing him under the guard of four rotating squads of four soldiers each (verse 4; see 5:1 7-20).

The turning point of the account is Acts 12:5. Although Peter situation looked hopeless especially in light of James’ martyrdom- the Church was praying “very earnestly” (NLT) or “without ceasing” (KJV) for him. The same Greek term refers to Jesus’ praying before His arrest and crucifixion (Luke 22:44).

On the eve of his trial, under heavy guard, Peter was awakened by an angel (Acts 12:6-7). Released from his bonds, Peter got dressed and followed the angel out of his cell (verses 8-9). As part of the miracle, neither the soldiers to whom he was chained, nor those who stood guard outside his cell, were aware of his departure (verse 10).

Peter himself thought that his experience with the angel was vision; only after the angel had led him into the city did he realise that he had, for the second time, been delivered from prison (verse 11). Those who celebrated the death of James would find that Peter had been rescued from the same destiny.

Questions for Application
Is It likely that the Church prayed for James, as they did for Peter? Why or why not?

How can we remember to face our challenges -both great and small by taking them before the Lord in prayer?

B. Rejoicing and Judgement– Acts 12:12-23
Peter went immediately to the home of Mary, whose son, John Mark, would later accompany Saul and Barnabas in ministry (Acts 12:12; see 13:4-5).

The sister of Barnabas (see Colossians 4:10), Mary appears to have been wealthy: her house was large enough to be a meeting place for a number of believers. Further, the fact no mention is made of John Mark’s father suggests that Mary was a widow.

Peter’s knocking at the gate was answered by Rhoda, a servant girl (Acts 12:13). The fact she recognised Peter’s voice may indicate she was also a member of the church. Surprisingly, her joyful report was met by unbelief (verses 14-15).

The disciples’ statement that Rhoda had seen Peter’s angel reflected a popular Jewish belief that each person had a guardian angel that could become visible, resembling the individual.

When finally admitted into the home, Peter testified of his rescue (verses 16-17). Although performed through an angel, Peter gave God the glory for his rescue. He wanted this experience to bolster the faith of the entire church and told those assembled to relate the good news to others.

Herod, his persecutor, had the prison guards executed for their perceived failure to hold Peter (verses 18-19). Afterward, Herod went to Caesarea. There, representatives of Tyre and Sidon sought him out to promote peaceful relations (verse 20).

Although Herod was angry with these cities, there is no indication that they were at war with him. However, their large population and limited land made it necessary for Tyre and Sidon to secure food from outside.

On the day he met with them, Herod put on a garment that historian Josephus reported was made of silver, and reflected the sunlight in a striking manner (verse 21). His listeners responded to his speech by calling his voice the voice of a god (verse 22). Herod, although desiring to be seen as a devout Jew, ignored the truth that God will not share His glory with anyone else (lsaiah 42:8). God’s judgement on Herod was instant and complete (Acts 12:23).

Questions for Application
Mary opened her home as a meeting place for the church. What resources do you have that God can use in the work of the ministry?

Compare Peter, glorifying God, to Herod, who readily accepted glory for himself. What happened to each?

3. Gentile Believers Help Jewish Believers
A. Prophesied Famine– Acts 11:27-28
During the year that Barnabas and Saul spent teaching the new believers in Antioch, prophets who arrived from Jerusalem joined them (Acts 11:27).

The term “prophet” throughout Scripture is used for individuals who spoke for God. Their purpose was to declare what God had revealed to them, whether regarding the future or His truth regarding the present. Prophets along with others who equip and build up the Church, have been given to the body of Christ by Christ himself (see Ephesians 4:11-13). Prophecy itself is a spiritual gift to be exercised for that benefit of the Church as God’s Spirit empowers (see Romans 12:6: 1 Corinthians 12:7-11).

A prophet named Agabus, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, foretold that a sweeping famine would affect the entire Roman world (Acts 11:28). Luke, the author of Acts, noted that this prophecy was fulfilled during the reign of Claudius Caesar (AD 41-54). The historian Josephus recorded that Judea suffered famine during the reign of Claudius in which many died.

Questions for Application
How can a church make room for the ministry of prophecy, whether by prophets or by others in the body of Christ?

Read 1 Corinthians 14:29; 1 John 4:1. Why is it vital to test prophecies?

B. Relief Provided– Acts 11:29-30: 12:24-25
The believers in Antioch took little time in their response to the message delivered through Agabus.

The record of their giving, “every man acoording to his ability” (Acts 11:29, KV), llustrates an important principle taught by Jesus himself. In comparing the giving of the rich to the giving of a poor widow-as observed one day by Him and His disciples Jesus said that the widow had given more than all of the rich together (Luke 21:1-4). In the same way, God sees the giving of each believer and is alone qualified to judge the level of sacrifice each has made for Him. Acts 11:30 records that the Christians of Antioch relayed their gifts to their fellow believers by sending them with Barnabas and Saul to the elders of the church in Jerusalem. The involvement of mature Christian leadership in this act of benevolence helped ensure the integrity of their ministry of giving (see 2 Corinthians 8:20-21).

Luke recorded that after the death of Herod-who failed to give God the glory when others called his voice “the voice of a god, not of a man” (Acts 12:22)- the word of the true God “continued to spread, and there were many new believers” (verse 24, NLT). The love of God spread as well, displayed in the generous giving of the Christians in Ăntioch toward those in Judea.

Having delivered the gift entrusted to them, Saul and Barnabas returned to Antioch, with Barnabas’ nephew, John Mark (verse 25).

Questions for Application
If God alone can judge the level of your giving, how should knowing that affect how you give?

What can happen if money is handled in a church in a way that lacks purity and integrity?

How can believers and churches helping one another materially serve as a witness to the world?

Call to Discipleship
Believers who want to grow deep in their faith in Christ cannot ignore His mandate to share the saving message of His life, death, and resurrection with the entire world.

Each person who has accepted Christ was reached by someone who obeyed Jesus’ command to reach every creature for Him (see Mark 16:15).

At times this involves moving beyond culture and even prejudice to reach others unlike us. Believers must face the reasons they avoid extending the love and truth of Jesus Christ across Cultural boundaries, and ask God to help them move beyond these obstacles for Him. Those who yield to God in this way will find that the One who empowers them will work with them for the gospel every step of the way.

Ministry in Action
Examine your heart for dis-comfort around others that may indicate poor attitudes or prejudices and trust God to help you overcome them.

Pray that God would empower you to witness to whomever you encounter in your daily life this week.

Look for opportunities to cross cultural boundaries with the love and truth of Jesus Christ.



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