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20. First missionary journey: the Council of Jerusalem

Leader's page and Student's page best viewed left/right side together

Leaders notes: Acts 11:19-30, 12:25, chapters 13-15. A.D. 46-50

You need to have gone through this page and have your own answers before you teach the lesson!

Lead from the front to start with. Note first paragraph opposite.

The ladies need to gather information on the starting point and each place visited on the journey.

  • Where?

  • Who?

  • Make up of the church?

  • How long?

  • What happened? Good and bad.

Sometimes you may find the information is not obvious or even just not there!

It may be an idea to write the ‘Where?’ ‘Who?’ etc. on a blackboard or large piece of paper to keep reminding the ladies what they are looking for!

Set the ladies in pairs or groups. Go around visiting to helpfully encourage them.

Nudge them along to tackle the next references.

If you work through this first example (below) with the ladies, it will help them to understand what to do. Tell them to read the Bible verses. Ask some questions to elicit the information from the whole group:

Example of - 1. Antioch in Syria 11:19-30, 13:1-3

Five local leaders – Barnabas, Simeon Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, Saul

A church of Jewish believers and Greeks – Gentiles, for some 1-2 years

Challenge to reach Jews and Gentiles? What of the famine prophecy?

Shared money and later sent valued men, Barnabas and Saul, out on mission

Then show them a different example,

- 7. Derbe 14:20-22 (See opposite).

Paul and Barnabas together – recovering from persecution

Won a large number of disciples to Lord Jesus Christ.

Now invite the ladies to work in pairs or small groups to find the information for the other eight places. You have shown them Antioch in Syria – now they can do Salamis, Paphos, Antioch in Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, the revisiting of three towns, before going back to Syrian Antioch.

After enough time

Lead from the front again. Ask the ladies to answer the four questions opposite using the information they have found. Share the answers altogether.

My answers: 1. Jews and Gentiles. 2. Yes and no.

3. Sorcery, opposition, riot, plot. 4. Appointed leaders, prayed with them.

Student's page:

Lesson 20 First Missionary Journey; the Council of Jerusalem

Acts 11:19-30, 12:25, chapters 13-15. A.D. 46-50

The journey Barnabas and Paul undertake is usually known as the First Missionary Journey. There are two maps opposite and on page 4. You may like to draw their route on one when you have found it. Acts chapters 11, 13 and 14 tell you where the team went.

We are looking for change, for progress, for problem issues and for their answers. The Church and churches were growing. Write down the information you discover from:

1. Antioch in Syria 11:19-30; 13:1-3

2. Cyprus - Salamis – synagogues, 13:4-5

3. Paphos - several weeks/months 13:6-12

4. Antioch in Pisidia 13:13-50

5. Iconium 13:51-14:7

6. Lystra 14:6-20

7. Derbe 14:20-22

8. Going back through the same towns 14:21-23

9. Sailing home to Syrian Antioch and on arrival there 14:24-27

From your own research of Scripture, compile answers to these questions:

1. Overall who responded to Barnabas and Saul’s preaching?

2. Was the message popular?

3. What special problems did Barnabas and Saul have?

4. How did they particularly help the new believers?

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Leader's page:

Go through the ‘three little details’ opposite with the ladies.

Perhaps share the references out between the ladies so each reference is ready to be read by someone at the appropriate time.

See if the listeners notice and pick the differences for number 2.

When finished ask the ladies to read these four Bible passages out loud:

11:1-4, 15-18




What was the problem? - Gentiles becoming Christians, and how to respond?

Could this be like converts to Jesus coming to you from a different tribe today?

How to accept them in your fellowship?

What difficulties may have to be overcome? How can this be done?

The Council of Jerusalem 15:1-35

A church meeting – a tricky problem – a problem of growth – trying to understand all the issues – how to make a wise decision – and to communicate that decision to everyone who needs to know.

Get the ladies to work in small groups – to find the above stages in 15:1-35

  • understand – verses 1-4, 5-6, 12

  • wise decision – 13-21

  • communicate – 22-29

Go through the group answers altogether.

Another tricky issue arises, this time within the team

Read 15:35-41 with the ladies. Ask them to pick out some important details.

Growth in the Antioch church – many teachers and preachers.

A dividing of the ways – but did good things came out of it in the end? What?

Paul and Barnabas were able to use their knowledge and experience in two areas instead of one. Two missionary outreach teams, greater area covered.

But I’m sure there will still have been ‘feelings’ to get over. What do you think?

Student's page:

Three little details to tidy up:

1. Acts 13:5 and 13 John Mark left them. We don’t know why. See 15:36-40.

Notice that Mark spent time in Rome with Paul later on –

see Philemon 24, Colossians 4:10 and 2 Timothy 4:11.

2. Acts 12:25, 13:2, 13:13, 13:42, 14:1 Did you notice the change from Saul to Paul,

and a change of the order from ‘Barnabas and Saul’ to ‘Paul and Barnabas’? It may have been because Paul quickly became the main speaker.

3. Acts 14:27 Barnabas and Paul reported back to the sending church and had a needed

extended time (of rest and recovery?) with their home church.

What is the major problem in the following verses?

11:1-4, 15-18




Can you think of any similar, if difficult, challenges for your churches now?

The Council of Jerusalem 15:1-35

Growth always causes problems – from a growing child needing new and bigger clothes to a church changing to reach out towards different kinds of people, and then receive them into full fellowship.

Whenever there is a problem we need to-

  • understand the issues

  • make a wise decision

  • communicate to those who need to know

Can you find the Council people going through these three stages in the reading?

Point out the verses that illustrate this.

What was the response back ‘home’ in Antioch?

Another tricky issue arises, this time within the team 15:35-41

What are you hearing that is important information on this incident?

Note them down.

Problems are for solving, not festering. Leaving a problem alone usually makes it worse. Sometimes what we see as a setback is God’s way forward.

He is an amazingly great God!

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