Use one or both of these questions to introduce the lesson:
1. What are a few influential political movements in American history? (For example, civil rights movement, women’s suffrage, antiwar movement, etc.) Can you name some leaders of such causes?
2. Pick one influential political movement from history. How did it begin? What was its basic message? What were some of the costs of participating in that movement?
Read Acts 13:2, 3.
1. Look back to verse 1 to identify the men referred to in verse 2. Referring to other translations or commentaries, tell as much about them as you can. In what ways did they differ? What is the value of such diversity for the church, even today?
2. List some steps a company’s board of directors may take when deciding whether to expand that company. Contrast those to the ways the leaders of the church in Antioch prepared to expand the early church through a missionary effort.
Read Acts 13:4-12.
3. What was the background of the three missionaries mentioned in verses 4, 5? See Acts 4:36, 37; 12:12; 22:2, 3; Colossians 4:10. How did their backgrounds prepare them for the first stops on the missionary journey described in these two verses?
4. What opportunity for spreading the gospel presented itself in the regional capital of Paphos (Acts 13:7)? Why might the conversion of Sergius Paulus have had a great impact on the entire region? What evidence do you see that the opposition the missionaries faced in Paphos was more than just a political power struggle? How should that inform our evangelistic strategies (Ephesians 6:10-13)?
Read Acts 13:13-16, 26-30, 38-39.
5. What are some differences between a lasting movement and a passing fad? Note that in the Roman Empire, established religions were legal, but new religions were forbidden. Review Paul’s message in verses 16-31. How did Paul substantiate that his message was one of substance and not just a novel notion?
6. Although Paul claimed that he was preaching an ancient message, what new benefit did his message offer (vv. 38, 39)? Compare these verses to what Paul wrote in his letters (Romans 3:21-24; 5:20, 21; Galatians 3:10-14).
7. What social movements and political causes are attractive to you? How do you demonstrate that your commitment to the gospel informs and directs your interests and is not subservient to them? In other words, why is the church more than a social cause or political party to you?