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Sunday School is a vital part of any ministry. In it, one is able to experience a deeper knowledge of God’s Word. Here at “Word For Life Says,” I want to help you help others. Below you will find resources to help you prepare for your upcoming lessons and my personal summary notes that I use when teaching. May God bless you!
“Faith to Persevere”
Acts 14:8-11, 19-23
PDF Lesson Print Out is now Located at the Bottom of the Lesson. Please Scroll Down, Click and Enjoy! Blessings.
**Please Note: Due to the Christmas/Winter Break, there will be no Sunday School Lesson Summaries available on December 24 & 31, 2017. See you back here for the January 7, 2018, lesson. Blessings!**
Please Note: All lesson verses and titles are based on International Sunday School Lesson/Uniform Series ©2013 by the Lesson Committee, but all content/commentary written within is original tounless properly quoted/cited. I am glad you like to read my personal summary notes that I use when teaching, but as always you are encouraged to do your own studies as well. Blessings!)
Life gives us two options: stop where we are now and walk away or keep moving forward until one’s destination is reached.
Giving up is not an option. At least that’s what most self-help promotional motivational gurus continually say. On this subject, I must agree. The perseverance of our Christian journey is more than obtaining worldly goals, success, and the like. It’s a continual press onward and upward toward the kingdom of God.
In the previous chapter (which also covered our previous lesson) we see Barnabas and Paul as they set out on their first missionary journey. People, including leaders of cities, were responding positively to the message of the gospel they were bringing (see Acts 13:12). But as the apostle Paul will learn, while there may be some successes along the way, there will also be some hard times and adversities; in opposition to the positive responses, there will also be some negative ones.
After leaving the area of Paphos, Paul and Barnabas traveled by boat to Perga in Pamphylia and from there into Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13:13-14). Searching out the local synagogue, Paul went in and expounded to the Jews present there their national history that led up to the revealing of the crucifixion and resurrection of the Savior (Acts 13:16-41).
But, when the Gentiles begged to hear the same words of encouragement about the Savior, the Jews present there became envious and started opposing the work and the teaching of Paul and Barnabas there (Acts 13:42-45). Paul, stating that it was necessary that his people should hear this good news first, then proceeded to tell them now they would focus on delivering the message to the Gentiles there (Acts 13:46-48).
With that, although the Gentiles were glad about it and the gospel spread throughout the region (Acts 13:49), the opposition of the Jews was just getting started. They stirred up prominent men and women of society who persecuted Paul and Barnabas and kicked them out of the region (Acts 13:50). Nevertheless, this did not stop their joy or the delivering of the message. Shaking the dust off their feet against this city, they moved on to the next teaching/preaching opportunity which is found in the city of Iconium (Acts 13:51-14:1).
But there too we see that the unbelieving Jews stirred up trouble for the missionaries. Standing their ground in the word, continuing to preach, they spoke boldly for the gospel until the residents of the city became so divided that violence was sought against the missionaries. Upon finding this out, they fled to Lystra and Derbe (areas covered in this week’s lesson) and began to preach the gospel there (Acts 14:2-7).
It should not be a surprise to the Christian that such division is found wherever the gospel is preached. Even Jesus stated, “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division,” (Luke 12:51). While some are looking forward to what the truth of the word of the Lord holds, others do not. Therefore, wherever progress and footings are made to plant the word of God into souls, there will always be attempts to stop that from happening. The job of the Christian, as we will learn in this lesson, is to not give up regardless of the troubles, adversities, trials, and tribulations one faces. The gospel message still must go out. There are souls that still need to hear of His saving grace and as carriers of such a treasure, we must through faith persevere through it all to deliver this eternal life-saving message to this broken world.
Acts 14:8-11 “And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked: The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked. And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.”
So, now they are at “Lystra,” a place unfamiliar with the Word of God. A place so far removed from any hearing of a Messiah who would come to deliver His people, that when these missionaries carrying this blessed message began to speak, it gained the attention of the hearers.
What did the message sound like to those listening intently? What power or anointed spiritual vitality did they sense in these carriers of the Word? How did the message begin and what was the main “meat” of its telling? We don’t know. But, what we do know is that ears were perked up at its telling.
“Lystra,” a place known for their acceptance and worship of false gods (more on this later) are now giving careful consideration to what Paul and Barnabas are saying. One man, in particular, when he “heard Paul speak,” was mulling over the words with a measure of “faith.” His ears weren’t only listening to the words, but we get the sense that his heart was absorbing this precious message. Although this man was “impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who had never walked,” he was not hindered in his hearing or his heart. The words that reached him were making a difference. Very soon, they would make not only an internal impact on him, but he will experience an outside physical impact as well.
When Paul noticed how intently the man was listening as he himself was studying him, “stedfastly beholding him,” what he saw and how he was led convinced him that this man “had faith to be healed.” At that perception, Paul stopped his message, spoke directly to the man and his situation, and “said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet.”
Speaking in a loud voice will not only ensure that the man would hear it but those surrounding as well. The point is, as discussed in the previous lesson, miracles were often tools used that would point people to the true miracle worker, our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul’s intent was not to bring attention to himself, but to the true God who could save people even in this new region.
With eyes fixed on him, we don’t know exactly what must have been running through this man’s mind, but we do know how he responded. Our lesson tells us, “he leaped and walked.” What was a previous impossibility for this man now is made possible. The faith that built up in his heart at the hearing of those words paved the road for his miracle now.
It is not at all unusual for one to point out another’s faith for being a factor to usher in healing or miracles. Jesus was often found using phrases such as, “Thy faith hath made thee whole,” (Mark 5:34) or healed you, or saved you (see Mt. 9:22; 15:28; Lk. 7:50; 17:19; 18:42). We do know that when faith is absent it makes it harder for miracles to present themselves (see Matthew 13:58; Mark 6:5-6).
Sometimes, for reasons we may not always understand, despite one’s faith healing doesn’t come. But, for this man, his healing came, and he rejoiced in the miracle that was performed in his life.
Others also took notice of what transpired when Paul spoke those words that caused this man’s legs and feet to do what they never had before, and they were amazed. Realizing this just wasn’t a thing that happened, but that some sort of supernatural power had moved this man to be cured, and not realizing the truth of God, despite the message, behind it all, the people, in the “speech of Lycaonia,” in their own native dialect, proclaimed, “The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.” They accredited this phenomenal occurrence to the wrong source. Going off what they knew or believed of their own history they attributed this miracle to false “gods,” and believed them to be Paul and Barnabas in the “likeness of men.”
There was a wide belief in that area, spawned on the by poet Ovid’s story, that that previously Zeus and Hermes came down to earth taking on human forms. Seeking refuge at many houses, and yet being turned away, finally, a poorer elderly couple allowed them to stay with them and were rewarded by their home being the made a temple where they would forever serve, and those who refused the gods a place in their home were destroyed. So, in these people’s thinking, they believed what they were seeing with Paul and Barnabas, and the miracle that happened was another one of these so-called god-visit occasions. These pagan people gave the credit to a pagan god, but Paul and Barnabas seek to correct that error and the one about them.
In the verses not included in our printed text (vss. 12-18) much is transpiring. Everything from giving these pagan gods names to Paul and Barnabas, their priests of these false gods coming out in a fashion of worshipping and ready to make a sacrifice. Gaining an understanding to what was going on (because before they were speaking in their own language), Paul and Barnabas are appalled at the people’s reaction and tear their clothes and cry out in an attempt to get the people to stop what they’re doing. They explained that they are not gods, but just mere men. But they were there to tell them about the true and “living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein.” Although this is how they walked in their past, God was directing their hearts to follow the truth through the witnesses of what they see around them every day. The Bible tells us, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse,” (Romans 1:20).
Previously, I wrote:
“People may try to chalk up what they feel or experience as “being one with the universe” or “mother nature,” or some other false belief, but all evidence of creation points to God and God only. The world we live in tries to contradict not only the beauty He originally designed in the creation, but they come against the idea of God as the author of it all.
The interruption of evil in this world and in the hearts of man may have caused a separation from the divine truth, but because of the evidence that Paul states is “clearly seen,” it leaves all mankind “without excuse.” God has always been “before all things, and by him all things consist,” (Col. 1:17), and it is up to each human heart to accept that truth or not. No exceptions. No excuses.
There is NO REASON, according to God’s holy Word, for one not to believe. His truth is clear and evident.” (Ignoring God’s Clear Truth/WordForLifeSays.com)
God has always left a true witness to who He really is, and people have to accept that. There are no more times of ignorance.
But, rather, than turn their hearts for the good, these words stirred up the people all the more and “scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.”
But, this popularity of theirs in this place was short-lived as our lesson picks back up in the following verses.
Acts 14:19-23 “And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.”
It doesn’t take long for the winds of progress to spurn a spirit of opposition and resistance to combat the headway they were making in that area. It takes a lot to present the gospel in an area where it quite possibly is an extremely foreign concept, but enemies of individuals become enemies of the work being done and those “Jews from Antioch and Iconium,” the antagonistic instigators against the work of God Paul previously faced in other areas, were set on disavowing the work and blemishing Paul and Barnabas’ character before the people there.
We are not privileged to know the exact way they “persuaded the people” to go against them. Whatever they told them worked. These people who had been ready to salute and worship them as gods now wanted nothing more to do with them. In fact, they wanted them dead.
Whatever footing they gained for the gospel now seemed to be dwindling thanks to the influence of these men. This is the same type of opposition Jesus faced when Pilate wanted to let Him go. It was because of others that “moved the people” (Mark 15:11) and convinced them to kill Jesus and release Barabbas. Now, as Christians, who seek to carry on this work, the same troubles and tribulations can follow. Jesus once said, “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also,” (John 15:20). And, this was something the Apostle Paul was finding out on a very personal level.
Troubles come with the mission. With enemies not willing to concede or give up, we, too, have to be willing to keep going and fight all the more.
In an effort to rid this region of Paul and the words he was preaching, “They stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.” Beat so badly by this ancient execution ritual and left for dead, Paul lay outside the city completely lifeless to their appearing.
While many give different interpretations of this particular verse, I choose to leave it as is. It didn’t say he had died. But, to the people, it certainly looked like it which is why they “supposing he had been dead.” Most stonings took place in a pit or some enclosed area where the victim/criminal could not escape the pelting and smashing of these hurling rocks meant to take one’s life. I can imagine they had to drag him and drop his appearing lifeless form like refuse outside the city. His body must have been bloody, disfigured, and beaten beyond recognition.
But as his “disciples,” those who believed in that place, “stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city.” In what appears a moment of acceptance of this is what’s going to happen mixed with a little defiance that refuses to quit, Paul somehow manages enough strength, by the grace and empowering of God, to go back to the very place where they tried to kill him. Truly, he has been blessed by God to endure such an ordeal and we don’t know if anyone saw him or other details of that return, just that God was not done with him yet. He still had a journey ahead of him. He still had the mission to carry the gospel to other areas.
After such an incident, how many would have been willing to go back into that hostile arena? Like a good boxer, went in, he did. Round after round, punch after punch (so to speak), Paul refused to let this sway him from doing the work God had called on his life. Yes, he must have hurt both inside and out, but all he was focused on was telling people about Jesus and he was not about to use this stoning as an excuse to stop.
Wow! His victory, in the end, wasn’t about holding up some sort of championship belt. His victory was to live a life pleasing to God and hopefully to win souls for Christ.
“The next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.” “Derbe” was about thirty-five miles to fifty miles away from Lystra (depending on sources) and Paul and Barnabas brought the next leg of their missionary journey to this city in the Galatia region.
“They had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many.” We are not told of his reception to this particular area, but we do know that some responded in a positive way, for he had “taught many” there, alluding to the fact that he made more than a few disciples in this area. In every area they went and with every opportunity they were given, regardless of pressure or circumstance, they “preached the gospel.” They simply were not going to back down or back off their God-ordained mission. We can learn so much from their dedication to God and people.
“They returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch.” Why? What’s the purpose of exposing one’s body and mind to the same persecution and infliction it previously endured in these areas?
Because of people. They were concerned about those disciples who were left behind. How were they doing? Were they yet still holding on to their faith? “Confirming the souls of the disciples” was more important to him than his own life. Yes, it was a dangerous move, but the believers there needed to be encouraged in their faith. After all they witnessed and possibly have gone through, they needed to be strengthened to hold on and keep going in spite of.
In essence, what Paul was teaching them was the road was not always going to be easy, but they still had to “continue in the faith.” He let them know “that we through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” This teaching falls directly in line with the teaching of Jesus to His disciples when He said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation…” (John 16:33). It is believed that many of them were martyred for their faith in Jesus; for not giving up.
The goal for the Christian is to realize that suffering comes with the package. All suffering may not look the same, but we all will face some sort of trials (compare Romans 5:3 and 1 Thessalonians 3:4). Some pray to get out of these trials, then again, I have read accounts where believers don’t want to be released from the suffering but are just praying for the strength to endure through it all.
The “kingdom of God” is the rewarded end to everything one faces here on this earth. Every hardship and every disappointment will find its place of peace when we reach in heaven. Jesus taught, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field,” (Matthew 13:44). Yes, it’s worth it that much. No wonder the songwriter said, “One moment in heaven will pay for it all,” (Lida Shivers Leech; Hymn Source: Hymnarysource.org).
After this confirmation, they placed capable leaders in charge of the church there following the same course of how they received their mission: “When they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.”
Although Paul survived this incident, later he would suffer many more occurrences for the gospel’s sake (2 Corinthians 11:23-27), and eventually, he would die for it being beheaded by Nero in Rome. Throughout his ministry and life, he refused to give in and give up. He truly did, “Press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 3:14).
Paul once proclaimed to the Philippian church, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” (1:21). This should be the motto of every Christian as we continue in the faith, and persevere.
Stand Print PDF: Faith to Persevere Sunday School Lesson Summary Standard Print
Large Print PDF: Faith to Persevere Sunday School Lesson Summary Large Print
Below are activities to support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
Stones of Faith Craft: Instead of stones to throw like in our lesson, here we attach any kind of stones you want to these printable ribbons that have encouraging Bible verses of faith printed on each one. Have students color, decorate, cut them out, and glue the stone. It’s as easy as that. Enjoy! PDF: Stones of Faith Craft
Memory Verse: Faith to Persevere Memory Verse
Below are Activities/Links/Resources to support this week’s lesson. Enjoy! (Remember, some of the printable maps in last week’s lesson would probably be helpful in this lesson as well.)