Ready for Paul?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Do you know where Paul's Galatians lived?

Ever wondered where Galatia is? The bit I'd failed to remember is that it's exactly where Paul went on his first missionary journey. No wonder his epistle to the Galatians sounds so much like he wrote it soon after (i.e. soon after the Jerusalem Council, but that's in next week's study).

Anyway, we're still studying Acts in Coffee Break, so here's the next set of questions:

(12) Paul’s First Missionary Journey
Everyone knows Paul traveled, and everyone knows he wrote letters. But who did he visit and who did he write to, and when? We’ll try to tie passages from Paul’s epistles to the story in Acts as we read on, and watch how the church was spread throughout the known world.

Before his journeys
1.       Where did Paul come from? (Read Acts 16:37, 22:3,25-29, Philippians 3:5. He was a Roman citizen and a devout, well-educated Jew, born in Tarsus and brought up in Jerusalem.) What would someone of his background be expected to be like? (Read Galatians 1:13-14)

2.       How did Paul come to faith, and how does his conversion story fit his background? What answer does this give to that age-old question – can a leopard change its spots? How willing are we to believe people can change?

3.       What did Paul do after his conversion? (Read Galatians 1:17-24)

4.       Why didn’t Paul stay to teach in Jerusalem? (Read Acts 22:17-21, 11:25-26)

5.       When did he return to Jerusalem, and why? (Read Acts 11:27-30)

6.       And when did he leave again? (Read Acts 12:25)

7.       And who traveled with him?

Barnabas and Paul go to Cyprus
1.       Whose idea was it to send missionaries to foreign lands? (Read Acts 13:1-3. Using the dates of famines, and adding up the years mentioned in the first part of Acts, most people guess this took place around A.D. 46.)

2.       Who was the “leader” on this journey (or at least, who sounds like the leader)? And who followed? (Read Acts 13:4-5. Heading for Cyprus first makes sense as it’s Barnabas’ home – Read Acts 4:36)

3.       Luke starts using Paul instead of Saul on this journey. Probably Paul did the same. Why might this be?

4.       Read Acts 13:6-12. Does Paul blind the sorcerer, or does Barnabas, or does God? Why might blindness be an appropriate punishment?


Paul’s party goes to Galatia
1.       We’ve already looked at some passages from Galatians. Why might Paul’s letter to the Galatians be one of the first he wrote? Where is Galatia?

2.       Read Acts 13:13. John Mark leaves the party at Perga. Where is Perga?

3.       Paul will call himself the apostle to the Gentiles. Does he push himself on Gentile listeners? Does he push himself on Jewish ones? (Read Acts 13:14-15)

4.       Do you suppose Paul was asked to speak because he was a Christian, or because he was a well-educated Jew? What type of person do we ask to speak in church, or in Bible study?

5.       Would any of the listeners have been familiar with Jesus’ death and resurrection?

6.       Paul preaches a very Jewish sermon. Can you summarize Acts 13:16-25?

7.       After introducing Jesus as the son of David, Paul goes on to describe his death and resurrection, again citing David. Read Acts 13:33 and Psalm 2:7, Acts 13:34 and Isaiah 55:3, Acts 13:35 and Psalm 16:10, Acts 13:41 and Habakkuk 1:5. Do you suppose Paul cited chapter and verse with each of these quotations? Do we need to cite chapter and verse when we talk about the Bible, or do we just need to be sure of the story?

8.       How was Paul’s sermon accepted? (Read Acts 13:42-44)

9.       How was Paul’s popularity received? (Read Acts 13:45)

10.   How did Paul respond? (Read Acts 13:46-47, Isaiah 49:6)

11.   How did the Gentiles respond? (Read Acts 13:48. What type of Gentiles do you think these were? And do you suppose they had heard about Jesus’ death and resurrection?)


Paul’s party moves on in Galatia
1.       Read Acts 13:49-52. Does this remind you of the ministry of the disciples during Jesus’ life? Read Matthew 10:14.

2.       Were people converted just by Paul’s rhetoric, or was something else at work? (Read Acts 14:1-3. Does this remind you of anything in Peter’s ministry? Read Acts 5:15)

3.       Was everyone impressed? Read Acts 14:4-7. Would you expect miracles to convert people, or to divide them? Do signs and wonders in the modern church serve to convert people, or divide people, or both? Why?

4.       Read Acts 14:8-10. Why do you suppose Luke tells us that Paul observed the man intently? What does this tell us about miracles?

5.       Do you remember someone else walking and leaping and praising God? Did this man praise God? Read Acts 14:11-13. Can we praise God without knowing Him?

6.       This time the sermon’s not particularly Jewish. How would you summarize Acts 14:14-17? Until recently, most people we met would have been familiar with Christianity, whether or not they were believers. Does our multicultural world present challenges or opportunities, or both, when we try to talk about our faith?

7.       Read Acts 14:18-25. The near-riot ends in another near-riot. Does this discourage Paul and Barnabas?


8.       How does Paul’s first missionary journey end? Read Acts 14:26-28.

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