NASHVILLE (BP) — This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.
This week’s Bible study is adapted from the Bible Studies For Life curriculum.
Bible Passage: Acts 11:19-26
Discussion Questions: Who has made a spiritual investment in your life? What are some advantages of doing God’s work together? What opportunities exist in our church for serving and encouraging others? What opportunities exist in our community?
Food for thought:
In the earliest days of the Christian church, two characteristics stood out: It was a movement among Jews and it was largely confined to Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit had come on the early believers while in Jerusalem (Acts 2:1-4), and while the church was growing by leaps and bounds, the new Christians pretty much stayed right where they were.
All that changed, however, when Stephen was killed (Acts 7:58-8:1). The Jewish leaders had been growing increasingly hostile toward the Christ-followers, which led to Stephen’s death. He became the first martyr in the church, and after his death a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem. As a result, believers scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. While we might think they were simply running for their lives, they took with them the Gospel of Christ. “Those who were scattered went on their way preaching the Word” (Acts 8:4).
We learn from Scripture that believers had made their way to three places in particular: Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch. They shared the Gospel in these places, but they shared it with no one except Jews. Following Jesus was merely considered an extension of their heritage and religion; it was not viewed as something separate from Judaism. It makes sense, then, that Jewish believers would take the message of Christ to other Jews. It was their natural comfort zone.
That approach changed in Antioch. Some believers didn’t just go to their fellow Jews; they “began speaking to the Greeks also, proclaiming the good news about the Lord Jesus” (v. 20). The good news pushed them out of their comfort zones to talk to the Greek-speaking non-Jews.
These early believers launched into new territory telling people about Jesus. The church was embracing Jesus’ mission to take the Gospel to new places; it was a new day. Acts 11:19-26 gives us an insider’s view of this expansion of the early church and one leader who led the way, Barnabas. He wisely saw how God was working among the new believers and sought out Saul to join him as he ministered in Antioch. Together, Barnabas and Saul taught and made disciples, showing these new Christians what it meant to grow in spiritual maturity.
Our task is no different. We’re called to share what we know about Jesus with others. We do this best when we:
— Encourage others to follow Christ;
— Encourage others to grow in their walk with Christ;
— Encourage others to serve Christ.
Like Barnabas, we’re not alone in our task. The body of Christ is uniquely equipped to accomplish this task of sharing the Gospel together — and we’re called to do this in places near and far.
Bible Studies for Life
Bible Studies for Life connects the Bible to life for adults, students, and kids. Bible Studies for Life helps individuals and groups know God’s Word through trustworthy content, creates biblical community through engaging and conversational group studies, and helps people engage the culture missionally by unpacking what the Bible says about real-life issues. More information can be found on the Internet at LifeWay.com/BibleStudiesForLife.
Other ongoing Bible study options for all ages offered by LifeWay can be found at LifeWay.com/SundaySchool.