In the preceding lesson reference was made to what has been termed Jesus' marching orders to His Apostles. At the time of Jesus' Ascension the Apostles were instructed to "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations ... teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:19-20). But the New Testament indicates that instead of carrying out these instructions, the Apostles organized a Christian community in Jerusalem, and they apparently planned to abide in that city until their Lord should return. The account also tells how persecutions soon broke up this community, and caused many of the converts to flee to cities in Samaria, Galilee, and Syria. Despite the persecutions, the Apostles somehow managed to hold together in Jerusalem, where they continued to supervise the activities and developments of the Christian movement. But apparently no plans were formulated for carrying the Gospel message beyond the Holy Land, or making "disciples of all nations," in accord with Jesus'command.
There is an old hymn which states that "God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform." Certainly an outstanding instance of this is to be found in the New Testament story which tells how, while the twelve regularly appointed Apostles were tarrying in Jerusalem, God proceeded to call another Apostle into His service—coming from a totally unexpected quarter—whose mission it would be to carry the Gospel message to all the world. This new Apostle will have a prominent place in this present lesson, and the thrilling story of his worldwide mission will be unfolded in step-by-step order in the subsequent lessons.
1. ACTIVITIES AT ANTIOCH.
The New Testament passage cited above states that because of the persecutions many converts fled from Jerusalem, and some of them journeyed northward as far as Antioch, in Syria. At this point, the student should refer to the map and carefully check the location of Antioch. In New Testament times Antioch was regarded as a city of great importance, ranking as the third city in the Roman Empire. It was strategically situated on the main caravan road, and was in commercial contact with the island of Cyprus and the leading cities of Asia Minor. But Antioch was also notorious for its levity, idolatry, and immorality. Ancient historians described it as the foulest and most depraved city in the world; in the days of early Christianity, the name of Antioch had become a byword for all that was infamous and wicked. Yet, despite all these unfavorable conditions, several major happenings making for the growth and development of the early Church took place at Antioch. The New Testament makes it clear that the work of the Christian group at Antioch had very far-reaching effects; and because of this, Antioch should be recognized as having a place of great importance in early Christian history.
From a metaphysical standpoint, Antioch should remind the New Testament student that the Christ light has power to shine forth, even in life's darkest places or experiences. Scripture states: "The light shines in darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it" (John 1:5). This text is aptly illustrated by those conditions in Antioch to which reference has been made. Certainly the Christ light shone forth in Antioch, and even the darkness and wickedness of that city could not dim its brightness. Moreover, it was from this morally and spiritually darkened Antioch that there went forth the Christ message of light which brought spiritual illumination to the ancient world. This will be explained in the details which follow.
(1) Early "Greek" converts
The account indicates that the converts who fled to Antioch were Greek-speaking Jews. Therefore, upon arrival at Antioch their first contacts were with the Jewish people living there; and very soon a "followers of the Way" group was formed. However, some of the Gentiles in Antioch (termed "Greeks" in Acts 11:20) became interested in the Jesus Christ message, and several of these accepted the new teaching. Their conversion gave rise to a new and totally unexpected problem. At the outset, the group meetings had been attended solely by Jewish believers, and complete harmony prevailed. But when the Gentile converts sought to participate in these meetings, some of the Jewish believers strongly objected to their presence. The Jewish exclusiveness—even among "followers of the Way" — was strictly maintained, and no transgressions were allowed. But the Gentiles remained insistent upon entering the group. What, then, was to be done? As yet, no presiding elder had been officially appointed to the Antioch group, and only such an official could make the needful decision. Meanwhile, all this internal dissension was proving harmful, and holding back the progress of the group.
(2) Appointment of Barnabas
News of the controversy soon reached Jerusalem, and Apostles sought to meet the situation by dispatching Barnabas to Antioch, with instructions to bring together the dissenting factions. Nor could the Apostles have chosen a man better fitted for this task. Barnabas was a native of Cyprus, well-versed in the opinions and attitudes of the citizens of Antioch. Furthermore, while at Jerusalem Barnabas had evinced such outstanding qualities of understanding and compassion that he became known as "a son of consolation." Barnabas, of course, was not one of "the Twelve"; but he was given full authority to take whatever steps were deemed necessary, so that order and harmony would be established at Antioch.
(3) Arrival of Saul
The indications are that Barnabas was well received by the converts at Antioch. Somehow, he managed to unite the opposing factions, so that the Jewish and Gentile converts worked together in harmony. But Barnabas soon recognized that he needed assistance. Thus, the account states that "Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul; and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch." At this point, it should be recalled that Saul, following his conversion and brief activities in and around Jerusalem, had returned to his home at Tarsus. It would appear that the Apostles were not favorably disposed toward Saul, and he became disillusioned regarding the possibilities of further activities in the early Church. There are also indications that upon his arrival at Tarsus, Saul was disowned by his family because of his conversion to the new teaching. He was, therefore, compelled to seek a living by following his trade of tent-cloth weaving. Barnabas had some difficulty in locating Saul in Tarsus; and even when he found Saul, Barnabas experienced great difficulty in persuading him to undertake the suggested work at Antioch. However, Saul finally agreed, and journeyed with Barnabas to Antioch; and the account states that the two friends worked together in proclaiming the Gospel message in that city "for a whole year."
Two important lessons arise out of these activities of Barnabas and Saul in Antioch:
First, the greatness of service. Throughout the year's activities at Antioch Barnabas was the recognized presiding elder, having charge of all the group's affairs; Saul occupied the secondary place of assistant minister. This was an entirely new experience for Saul. But Saul was also a changed man, and the erstwhile stubborn will had given place to a receptive state of mind. Possibly, therefore, it was at this time that Saul gained a new understanding of Jesus' words: "Whoever would be great among you must be your servant. . . For the Son of man also came not to be served, but to serve" (Mark 10:43,45).
Second, the value of cooperation. The success at Antioch may be attributed, at least in part, to the fine teamwork of Barnabas and Saul. Emphasis was placed, not upon their separate abilities, but upon cooperation. The contributions of one added value and effectiveness to the contributions of the other. In this connection, it is also instructive to note how Jesus sent forth His disciples, not separately, but "two by two." (See Mark 6:7; Luke 10:1.) Similarly, in consciousness our spiritual faculties attain their greatest efficiency when functioning, not as separate "powers," but cooperatively.
(4) The new name
The New Testament indicates that the early converts were referred to as "disciples," or "followers of the Way"—the latter term recalling the familiar words of Jesus, "I am the way" (John 14:6). But "in Antioch the disciples were for the first time called Christians" (Acts 11:26). This is an important statement, for this new name, although originating in Antioch, soon gained general recognition, and has been used ever since. In all probability, the term Christian arose from the frequent use of the Greek word Christos (meaning "the anointed One," or "Messiah"); and the citizens frequently designated the converts as "The Christos people," or "Christians." This new name, when first used, was undoubtedly regarded as one of the levities of Antioch—for the city was noted for its humorous designations; but although the activities of Antioch have passed away, the name Christian still remains and is recognized as one of the world's most honored words.
(5) Famine relief
There is an old saying that "charity begins at home." The Christians at Antioch, however, were quick to recognize the needs of others. When they learned that the brethren in Judea were experiencing famine conditions, they immediately gathered money and supplies, which were entrusted to Barnabas and Saul to be carried to Jerusalem. No further details are given of this philanthropic activity. However, mention is made that when Barnabas and Saul returned to Antioch from Jerusalem they were accompanied by Barnabas' nephew, John Mark. This young man took part in some activities which will be discussed later in this lesson. Meanwhile, it is worthy of note that many years later this same young man was instrumental in writing a very important document, which bears his name: the Gospel of Mark. Perhaps the most important feature of this famine relief story is to be found in the attitude of Saul. It will be recalled that at an earlier period, following his conversion, Saul met with an unfavorable reception at Jerusalem. Indeed the "cold-shouldertreatment" given him at Jerusalem was largely responsible for Saul's abandoning his preaching work and returning to his home at Tarsus. In thus bringing relief to the hard-pressed Christians at Jerusalem, Saul was now "turning the other cheek" in a very practical way! Perhaps it was this very experience which caused him, many years later, to write: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head" (Rom. 12:20).
Acts 13:1-52; Acts 14:1-28
2. FIRST MISSIONARY JOURNEY.
Careful attention should be given to the opening section of Chapter Thirteen (verse 1-5), since this tells how the inspired idea for the first Christian missionary enterprise came during a memorable prayer meeting at Antioch. The section further relates how the missionaries were sent forth after special prayer, fasting, and laying-on of hands. In all probability the converts at Antioch made financial and other gifts for the support of the designated missionaries. Antioch thus gained the twofold distinction of having originated the honored name Christian, and of sending forth the first Christian missionaries.
The personnel for this first missionary journey consisted of Barnabas, the minister in charge of affairs; Saul, who thus far had been regarded as assistant minister; and John Mark, nephew of Barnabas, acting as secretary, or general assistant.
All the places visited on this first missionary journey, as listed in the New Testament passages given above, should now be located on the map. Also, the important happenings at the various stopping places should be carefully noted. The following comments, arranged in order of the points visited, should help the student to get a clear picture of what took place during this momentous journey.
CYPRUS: After taking leave of Antioch and proceeding to the port of Salamis, the missionaries sailed to the island of Cyprus. Apparently this was planned by Barnabas, since Cyprus was his birthplace, and he was well acquainted there. While at Cyprus the missionaries visited several synagogues, and also spoke before the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. It was during this visit with the proconsul that the missionaries encountered bitter opposition from the court magician, Elymas (also called Bar-Jesus), who apparently feared the loss of his position if the proconsul should be converted. However, the magician was effectively silenced when stricken with blindness, following a denunciatory word from the Apostles. The account states that the proconsul was "astonished" at these proceedings—but the indication is that he was also converted.
In recording the happenings on the island of Cyprus, the writer of Acts makes reference to "Saul, who is called Paul" (Acts 13:9). This is an important passage, since it marks the first appearance of the name Paul. Up to this point, the Hebrew name Saul has been used in connection with all the apostle's activities; but beginning at Cyprus, and continuing through all subsequent events recorded in Acts, the more familiar name Paul, appears. This gives rise to a number of questions: Why was the change of name made at this point? What is the significance of the change? The student should therefore refer back to Lesson Two, and carefully reread the section headed "A Young Man Named Saul." This section gives an explanation of the names Saul and Paul, and their relationship one to the other. The following comments should explain why the name was changed at this particular time:
(1) It will be recalled that during the earlier period the Apostle was operating mainly in what may be termed Jewish territory, and was dealing for the most part with Jewish people. Therefore, at such a time, he would invariably make use of the Hebrew name Saul—which was an honored name in Jewish circles. Indeed, under such circumstances, the use of a "foreign" name would have been regarded as an affront! But when the apostle reached Cyprus, and was pressing on toward Asia Minor, he was in a region where Roman influences and customs were dominant. Moreover, he would be in constant contact with Roman citizens. At this time, therefore, Roman law and procedure would require that the apostle (being himself a Roman citizen) should use his Roman name in all public activities. In other words, the use of the name Paul was mandatory in the territory where the apostle was doing his missionary work. Thus, in recording the change of name at this point, Luke's account is strictly in accord with the facts.
(2) There is also the possibility that Luke obtained his information regarding the earlier activities from Jewish sources; and in such a case the name Saul would be regularly used. Luke therefore accepted this material, and incorporated it into Acts without any change. But when recording the apostle's later activities—starting with the first missionary journey—Luke drew mainly from personal knowledge and contacts, giving the name which was then generally used (Paul) and with which he was most familiar.
(1) Change in command: The account states that "Paul and his company ... came to Perga." At the start of the journey Barnabas was in charge of affairs, but now Paul is named as head of the expedition. This may be Luke's method of writing—based on later experiences; or it may indicate that Paul's leadership ability had brought about a general recognition that he was now in command of the missionary expedition.
(2) Defection of Mark: The information is given that "John left them and returned to Jerusalem"— but no further explanation is offered. However, there are several possibilities, (a) Perga is situated in a swampy area, and there are some indications that Paul was stricken by fever there. Possibly Mark became fearful, and took the earliest opportunity of returning to Jerusalem, (b) Perhaps Mark had envisioned only a visit to Cyprus, to visit his uncle's homeland, and was not willing to extend the journey into the unknown Asia Minor, (c) It has been suggested, however, that Mark objected to the change of command—as indicated above—and was unwilling to serve under someone who had thus displaced his near relative. Hence he returned, not to Antioch, but to his home in Jerusalem.
ANTIOCH (PISIDIA): Leaving Perga, Paul and Barnabas then journeyed northward to the city of Antioch, located near the boundary line between Pisidia and Galatia. The student should again refer to the map and check the exact position of Antioch. This will guard against confusing Pisidian Antioch with Antioch in Syria—the starting point for this missionary journey. Several important developments connected with this visit to Antioch (Pisidia) should be given consideration:
(1) Paul's sermon: Note how Paul followed the regular pattern of outlining the history of the Jewish people—just as Stephen had done when speaking before the Sanhedrin (Acts 7). However, there was this difference between the two addresses: Stephen had pointed out how the Jewish people had rejected their God-given opportunities, but Paul showed how Jewish history led to the supreme realization that "through this man [Jesus Christ] forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him every one that believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses." Paul's sermon was so effective that many persons were converted, and pressing requests were made that the Apostles remain in Antioch until the following Sabbath, so that the Gospel message might be presented once again to the people.
(2) The price of success: The account then states that on the following Sabbath great crowds gathered around the synagogue, expecting to hear another presentation of the new teaching. But apparently all this was too much for the staid, conservatively-minded worshipers. They wanted the synagogue sen/ices to continue in the old humdrum manner, as heretofore; they were against all this excitement— not to mention the inflow of so many "outsiders" to disturb the peaceful atmosphere of the synagogue! Paul and Barnabas were attacked, and their new teaching was vigorously denounced, with the result that the apostles were finally driven from the city. However, some of the converts—both Jews and Gentiles—managed to hold together, and formed a separate assembly to continue in the new teaching.
(3) Paul and the Gentiles: Paul is often referred to as the "apostle to the Gentiles." This term sometimes causes readers of the New Testament to picture Paul as conducting his missionary activities solely among the Gentile population, holding open-air meetings at the street corners in various cities, and work of similar nature. But this is an inaccurate picture. When visiting any city, Paul always went first to the Jewish synagogue and, when called upon to speak, he wouId there present the Gospel message. However, in order to understand the situation, we must first know something about the make-up of the synagogue congregation. There would be present many conservatively-minded Jews, who would not be very receptive to Paul's message. Indeed, many of these bitterly opposed the new teaching. There would also be a sprinkling of liberally-minded Jews, who would give a fair hearing to Paul's message; and some of these were converted. But in practically every congregation there would also be a number of Gentile listeners. In many cities the Gentiles were recognizing the high order of the Jewish religion; and while these Gentiles did not conform to all the Jewish ceremonial laws and observances, nevertheless they found great help and inspiration in the synagogue services.
Many of these Gentiles proved open and receptive to Paul's message. Nor is this difficult to understand, since the new teaching offered them all the advantages of Judaism, without the necessity of conforming to all its laws and ceremonies. These Gentile believers would, in turn, communicate with other Gentiles (who were not attending the synagogue), and thus Paul's Gentile following soon increased and outnumbered his Jewish converts. The New Testament records that in several instances, these Gentiles—under pressure from the orthodox Jews—withdrew from the synagogue, and joined with the converted Jews in forming a new assembly, which later became known as a Christian church. Some of these newly-formed churches soon became predominantly Gentile in membership.
Nevertheless, throughout his ministry, Paul's unchanging rule of procedure was: "To the Jew first, and afterward to the Gentiles." It is important to see all this clearly, if we are to understand many of the happenings during Paul's missionary activities. How Paul's plan actually worked out will be discussed later.
ICONIUM: After leaving Antioch, and ceremonially shaking the dust of that city from their sandals, Paul and Barnabas journeyed in a south-westerly direction towards Iconium. Upon entering the city they lost no time in visiting the synagogue, and when asked to speak to the congregation they proclaimed the Gospel message. Unfortunately, the experience of the apostles in Iconium was similar to what they had encountered in Antioch. At first, the Gospel message was well received; but later bitter opposition developed, and the Apostles were attacked and compelled to leave the city. There are indications, however, that a permanent Christian group was formed in Iconium.
LYSTRA: The city of Lystra, situated about eighteen miles south of Iconium, was the apostles' next stopping place. In all probability there was the regular visit to the synagogue, and some converts were made. Apparently these converts were baptized, and some instructional meetings were held, since they are later referred to as "disciples." Then followed some exciting events, which should be studied in order of happening.
(1) A man, crippled from his birth, was carried to one of the Christian meetings. The account states that he listened attentively to Paul's preaching. Paul, therefore, spoke a healing word, and the man immediately sprang to his feet and walked—completely healed. (2) A crowd quickly gathered, and both apostles were immediately acclaimed as "gods," with Barnabas being termed "Zeus" (Jupiter), and Paul was called "Hermes" (Mercury). A priest from a nearby temple then prepared to offer sacrifice to the Apostles, and they had difficulty in restraining him. (3) But just at this time a number of opposing Jews arrived, coming from Antioch and Iconium, and they incited the people against Paul and Barnabas. "These men are impostors," they probably cried, "and they should be driven from the city I" Then the shouts of acclamation immediately gave place to an angry uproar, and stones were thrown at the erstwhile "gods." One large stone struck Paul on the forehead, felling him to the ground; he was proclaimed dead, and dragged from the city. However, after a few friends gathered around him, Paul revived, and courageously reentered the city before continuing his journey next day.
The following metaphysical interpretation of the happenings at Lystra will be found helpful. It should also be noted that this interpretation has important bearing upon other happenings on this first missionary journey.
"When one has received the spirit of peace and praise, and starts out in spiritual ministry with one's vision fixed on the idea of one Presence and one Power, adverse thoughts and conditions begin to disappear. In Acts 14:8-20 this dissolving influence is mentioned symbolically as Lystra. However, often in the dissolving process one may awaken antagonism, and therefore meet with opposition (Antioch). If one relinquishes one's steadfast vision of the one Presence and one Power, and becomes observant of opposition or adversity, one's growing spiritual consciousness seems to be stoned to death. But the spiritual consciousness cannot be destroyed. It revives at the first opportunity" (Metaphysical Bible Dictionary 410).
DERBE: Derbe is noteworthy as marking the farthest extent of Paul's first missionary journey. In all probability Paul preached at the synagogue there, and many converts were made; no mention is made of any arising opposition. While staying at Derbe, Paul made one very important connection, which was to have considerable bearing upon his later activities; but this will be further mentioned in a later lesson. Leaving Derbe, the apostles then retraced their steps, revisiting Lystra, Iconium, Antioch, and Perga (despite the difficult experiences connected with these cities), and strengthened the organization of the Christian groups which had been formed in those cities. From Perga, the apostles then sailed across to Antioch (Syria), where they made a full report of their activities to the Christian friends who had sent them forth from that city.
Metaphysical interpretation: Paul's first missionary journey indicates how the freeing word of Truth must be carried into all areas of consciousness. Just as Paul visited the cities of Asia Minor, so must the various centers of our consciousness be contacted, in order that they may be inspired and transformed. In the apostle's earlier experiences, emphasis was placed on the personal will and its transformation. But this represents only the starting point. What has been accomplished in regard to "will" must be carried into all areas of consciousness. In this work we may encounter opposition, as did Paul; but if we persevere we shall become "more than conquerors through him that loved us" (Rom. 8:37). The following quotation will help to make all this clear:
"When man is developing out of mere personal consciousness into spiritual consciousness, he begins to train deeper and larger powers; he sends his thoughts down into the inner centers of his organism, and through his word quickens them to life. Where before his powers have worked in the personal, now they begin to expand and work in the universal. ... "When the baptizing power of the word is poured upon a center, it cleanses all material thought; impotence is vitalized into new life, and the whole subconsciousness is awakened and quickened. The word of the Lord is sown in the body, and once the word of the Lord is sown in any of these centers—the eel Is of which are like blank phonograph records—they take the thought that is given them and send it through the whole organism" (The Twelve Powers of Man 15,19).
3. THE JERUSALEM COUNCIL.
Three important "firsts" in early Church history will always be associated with the city of Antioch: (1) the first use of the term. Christian; (2) the first Christian missionary enterprise; (3) first Christian church council. Actually, this council was held in Jerusalem; but it was convened at the request of Paul and Barnabas, who were then ministers of the church at Antioch. Furthermore, all the discussions and decisions of the council had to do with the activities of the church at Antioch. Since two items mentioned above have already been discussed in this lesson, it will be well now to make a brief study of what is generally known as the Jerusalem church council.
(1) Purpose of the Council: Earlier in the lesson some details were given regarding the origin of the church at Antioch. At the time of its founding there had been considerable controversy concerning the entry of Gentiles into the church. But Barnabas and Saul had managed to maintain peace between the differing factions and had been able to lead the group into some united activities. While the apostles were away on their missionary journey, some "Judaizers" had visited Antioch, and their teaching had caused the old controversy to break out afresh. These "Judaizers" were, for the most part, converted Pharisees; and while they accepted the Christian teaching for themselves, nevertheless they insisted that all Gentiles seeking entry into Christian fellowship should first submit to the ceremonial rites of Judaism, including circumcision. Nor did they hesitate to denounce as heretics and impostors all persons who taught otherwise. But already the church at Antioch—as well as the various Christian groups formed by the apostles on their missionary journey—had accepted Gentiles into membership. What was to be done? Should Gentiles, as such, be accepted into the Christian church? Or must they first become Jews? Evidently, this was a question too far-reaching for local decision, so Paul and Barnabas resolved to take the entire matter to the apostles at Jerusalem. The Jerusalem council was then convened in order that an official decision might be rendered upon this important question.
(2) Composition of the Council: The New Testament account states that "the apostles and elders were gathered together to consider the matter." This would indicate that, in addition to the regular apostles, certain other leaders were now participating in church government. The account further states that "after there had been much debate," Peter told of his visit to Cornelius. Peter especially emphasized the point that although Cornelius was a Gentile, the Holy Spirit had come upon him—thus indicating that God made no distinction between Jew and Gentile. Paul and Barnabas also told of their experiences, both at Antioch and on their recent missionary journey. Then the presiding officer of the council rendered the final decision; and this presiding officer is named as "James."
This statement immediately raises a question regarding the identity of this "James." It could not have been James, the brother of John, since he had already suffered martyrdom. (See Acts 12:2.) Nor is it likely to have been James, son of Alpheus (James the less), since he is never mentioned as taking active part in apostolic activities. There is now fairly general agreement that the presiding officer of the first church council was James, the brother of Jesus; for this James was at that time the acknowledged head of the church at Jerusalem. The following information should prove helpful:
"Like the rest of the Lord's brethren, James did not believe in Him while He lived, but acknowledged His claims after the Resurrection. He was won to faith by a special manifestation of the risen Lord (I Cor. 15:7). Thereafter he rose to high eminence. He was the head of the Church at Jerusalem, and figures in that capacity on three occasions. . . tone of which was] the historic conference regarding the terms on which the Gentiles should be admitted into the Christian Church; and James acted as president, his decision being unanimously accepted" (Hastings Dictionary of the Bible 424).
(3) The decision: As indicated in the above quotation, the Jerusalem council decided that Gentiles could be admitted into the Christian church without change of status. It was not necessary for Gentiles to conform with Jewish ceremonial laws before entering into Christian fellowship. Certain moral and dietary prohibitions were imposed; but all these were such as could be readily accepted by the Gentiles. Two representatives of the council were then appointed—Judas, surnamed Barabbas, and Silas—to convey this decision to the church at Antioch. The sending of these representatives also indicated that the Jerusalem council fully endorsed the work of Paul and Barnabas.
(4) Effects of the decision: Two important effects of this decision should now be given consideration. First, while the decision appeared to represent a victory for the Gentiles, it did not bring about an immediate end to the controversy. Matters in Antioch were settled, for the time being; but elsewhere questions concerning ceremonial observances continued to arise. The "Judaizers" proved to be veritable "diehards," continually putting forth vigorous efforts to maintain their teaching, and another battle had to be fought. This will be discussed later.
Second, the decision also led to some very far-reaching consequences—although possibly this was not recognized at the time. Actually, a complete change in the status of Christianity was in the making, and the action of the Jerusalem council marked the parting of the ways. Thus far, the Christian church had been regarded as a small sect, or minor group, within the bounds of Judiasm; but Christianity was soon to become a separate organization. Instead of continuing under the jurisdiction of the High Priest and other Jewish officials, the Christians began to look to their own leaders; and this change had its starting point in the work of the Jerusalem council. Some important developments along the lines suggested will be noticed in the lessons which follow.
Questions for Lesson 3
- Who was appointed to take charge of the Christian group at Antioch? Why was this appointment necessary? Who became assistant minister at Antioch? What new name was applied to the converts at Antioch? Explain briefly why this name was used.
- What action did the Christian group at Antioch take regarding the famine at Jerusalem? In what way did this action affect Saul?
- Where and under what circumstances was the 5. first Christian missionary enterprise organized? Who were named as the first Christian missionaries?
- List the places visited by Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey. Explain very briefly what happened at each stopping place.
- Explain briefly why the Jerusalem council was convened. What important decision was made at the Council? What was the twofold effect of this decision upon the early Church?
- The New Testament states that "The light shines in darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it" (John 1:5). Explain briefly how this applied to the Christian work in Antioch during Apostolic times.
- Mention, and briefly explain, two important spiritual lessons arising out of the activities of Barnabas and Saul in Antioch.
- Using your own words, give the metaphysical interpretation of the happenings at Lystra. (Acts 14:8-20.) Also indicate briefly how this applies to other happenings on this first missionary journey.
- The New Testament states that when Paul and Barnabas reached Perga, John Mark left them and returned to his home in Jerusalem. The lesson gives some possible reasons for this defection. What spiritual qualities did Mark need to enable him to overcome these difficulties? Give your own suggestions here.
- What is represented metaphysically by Paul's first missionary journey? Explain how this applies to us today. Also explain the metaphysical relationship between the apostle's earlier activities and what is represented by this journey.