1. LIGHT TO THOSE IN DARKNESS
a. From Paphos on the island of Cyprus—to way beyond Perga (on the southern Mediterranean coast of today’s Turkey)—where did Paul and his company go as missionaries on the Sabbath? Acts 13:13, 14 (far away from the Syrian city bearing the same name in Acts 11).
“Paul and his company continued their journey, going to Perga, in Pamphylia. Their way was toilsome; they encountered hardships and privations, and were beset with dangers on every side. In the towns and cities through which they passed, and along the lonely highways, they were surrounded by dangers seen and unseen. But Paul and Barnabas had learned to trust God’s power to deliver. Their hearts were filled with fervent love for perishing souls. As faithful shepherds in search of the lost sheep, they gave no thought to their own ease and convenience. Forgetful of self, they faltered not when weary, hungry, and cold. They had in view but one object—the salvation of those who had wandered far from the fold.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 169.
b. What happened to John Mark at this time? Acts 12:25; 13:5, 13.
2. JEWS AND GENTILES ON THE SABBATH
a. What opportunity was offered to Paul in the synagogue at Antioch—and what can we learn from how this applies today? Acts 13:15.
“You may have opportunity to speak in other churches. In improving these opportunities, remember the words of the Saviour, ‘Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.’ Do not arouse the malignity of the enemy by making denunciatory speeches. Thus you will close doors against the entrance of truth. Clear-cut messages are to be borne. But guard against arousing antagonism. There are many souls to be saved. Restrain all harsh expression. In word and deed be wise unto salvation, representing Christ to all with whom you come in contact. Let all see that your feet are shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace and good will to men. Wonderful are the results we shall see if we enter into the work imbued with the Spirit of Christ. Help will come in our necessity if we carry the work forward in righteousness, mercy, and love. Truth will triumph, and bear away the victory.”—Evangelism, pp. 563, 564.
“Let faithful, God-fearing, earnest workers, their life hid with Christ in God, pray and work for honest ministers who have been educated to misinterpret the Word of Life.”—Ibid., p.562.
“Ministers and the world’s wise men are to be tested by the light of present truth. The third angel’s message is to be set before them judiciously, in its true dignity.”—Ibid., p.563.
b. As Paul related the history of the Hebrew nation and graciously led into the message of Christ—all based on Scripture fulfilled—what was his concluding appeal? Acts 13:38–41.
c. How were various hearts touched on that fruitful Sabbath? Acts 13:42, 43.
“[Acts 13:38, 39 quoted.] The Spirit of God accompanied the words that were spoken, and hearts were touched.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 172.
3. A SPIRITUAL BATTLE
a. As a result of Paul’s present-truth message on Sabbath to both Jews and Gentiles, what happened the next Sabbath? Acts 13:44. What jealous reaction followed this outpouring of enthusiasm? Verse 45.
b. Finally, what was Paul constrained to declare—and with what results? Acts 13:46–49. What are we to understand by his aim?
“[The Gentiles] rejoiced exceedingly that Christ recognized them as the children of God, and with grateful hearts they listened to the word preached. Those who believed were zealous in communicating the gospel message to others, and thus ‘the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.’ . . .
“In turning to the Gentiles in Antioch of Pisidia, Paul and Barnabas did not cease laboring for the Jews elsewhere, wherever there was a favorable opportunity to gain a hearing. Later, in Thessalonica, in Corinth, in Ephesus, and in other important centers, Paul and his companions in labor preached the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles. But their chief energies were henceforth directed toward the building up of the kingdom of God in heathen territory, among peoples who had but little or no knowledge of the true God and of His Son.”—The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 173-175.
c. What was the next tactic of the envious ones? Acts 13:50. How did the believers respond—and what words of their Master made this possible? Acts 13:51, 52; Matthew 5:11, 12.
“When one presents the love of Christ and the beauty of holiness, he is drawing away the subjects of Satan’s kingdom, and the prince of evil is aroused to resist it. Persecution and reproach await all who are imbued with the Spirit of Christ. The character of the persecution changes with the times, but the principle—the spirit that underlies it—is the same that has slain the chosen of the Lord since the days of Abel.”—Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 29.
a. Why can every single one of us be inspired by the results achieved at the missionary visit to Iconium? Acts 14:1.
“Each is to learn of the Great Teacher, and is then to communicate what he has learned. God has given to each of His messengers an individual work. There is a diversity of gifts, but all the workers are to blend in harmony, controlled by the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit. As they make known the gospel of salvation, many will be convicted and converted by the power of God. The human instrumentality is hid with Christ in God, and Christ appears as the chiefest among ten thousand, the One altogether lovely.”—The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 274, 275.
b. Why should we not be disheartened by what promptly followed the success at Iconium? Acts 14:2; Psalm 69:7–9.
“There was never one who walked among men more cruelly slandered than the Son of man. He was derided and mocked because of His unswerving obedience to the principles of God’s holy law. They hated Him without a cause. Yet He stood calmly before His enemies, declaring that reproach is a part of the Christian’s legacy, counseling His followers how to meet the arrows of malice, bidding them not to faint under persecution.
“While slander may blacken the reputation, it cannot stain the character. That is in God’s keeping. So long as we do not consent to sin, there is no power, whether human or satanic, that can bring a stain upon the soul. A man whose heart is stayed upon God is just the same in the hour of his most afflicting trials and most discouraging surroundings as when he was in prosperity, when the light and favor of God seemed to be upon him. His words, his motives, his actions, may be misrepresented and falsified, but he does not mind it, because he has greater interests at stake. . . .
“Christ is acquainted with all that is misunderstood and misrepresented by men. His children can afford to wait in calm patience and trust, no matter how much maligned and despised.”—Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 32.
5. THE LOVE OF CHRIST MANIFESTED
a. How did the apostles manage to melt away much of the prejudice facing them due to malicious rumors? Acts 14:3, 4.
“By means of false and exaggerated reports [the envious, unbelieving Jews] led the authorities to fear that the entire city was in danger of being incited to insurrection. They declared that large numbers were attaching themselves to the apostles and suggested that it was for secret and dangerous designs.
“In consequence of these charges the disciples were repeatedly brought before the authorities; but their defense was so clear and sensible, and their statement of what they were teaching so calm and comprehensive, that a strong influence was exerted in their favor. Although the magistrates were prejudiced against them by the false statements they had heard, they dared not condemn them. They could but acknowledge that the teachings of Paul and Barnabas tended to make men virtuous, law-abiding citizens, and that the morals and order of the city would improve if the truths taught by the apostles were accepted.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 178.
b. What did the apostles finally need to do? Acts 14:5–7; Matthew 10:23.
“Friends of the apostles, though unbelievers, warned them of the malicious designs of the Jews and urged them not to expose themselves needlessly to the fury of the mob, but to escape for their lives. Paul and Barnabas accordingly departed in secret from Iconium, leaving the believers to carry on the work alone for a time. But they by no means took final leave; they purposed to return after the excitement had abated, and complete the work begun.”—Ibid., p.179.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How might I, like John Mark, be tempted to shrink back at hardships?
2. Why should I pray for opportunities such as Paul found at Antioch?
3. Just as Gentiles rejoiced at the gospel, how will many soon do likewise?
4. When faced with unjust slander, what should I always remember?
5. Why can I be inspired by the tremendous love shown by the apostles?