Paul Begins the First Missionary Journey ~ Acts 13

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  • To explain that people will either choose God or Satan. Not choosing one or the other equals not choosing God.
  • To list beginning events of Paul’s first missionary journey and the meanings of the colors of the Wordless Book
  • To discuss how people will try to stop us from telling others about the gospel

Acts 13Materials: Inductive Bible Study Form, create a Wordless Book if you do not have one already (or you can use a bracelet or other form of telling the gospel with the colors.)

Time Needed: 30-45 minutes

Geography: Israel; Antioch; Jerusalem; Seleucia; Cyprus; Paphos; Perga; Antioch in Pisidia

**If you are doing the MAP activity as we go through Acts, please move Paul as he travels to the locations mentioned in this chapter.

Background: Saul, the great persecutor, had been converted and accepted by the leaders of the new church movement. Peter had a vision and learned that Greeks and gentiles were to be a part of the new church. The believers have spread from Jerusalem to Samaria, to Ethiopia, to Antioch, and there are those who do not like this new religion.

Main Events of Acts 13:

After Peter was released from jail, Saul and Barnabas returned to Antioch with John Mark, who was a cousin of Barnabas. The church leaders in Antioch prayed and fasted as they ministered to the Lord and the Holy Spirit told them to separate out Saul and Barnabas for work. The men continued to fast and pray, and they laid hands on Saul and Barnabas and sent them out as God called them.

{Hold up the Wordless Book, whichever form you are using. Ask the children if they recognize the object and ask if they know what the colors mean. Explain that these books are used to preach the gospel, just like Saul preached the gospel.}

The men, and John Mark, began the first missionary journey. They went to Cyprus and stopped at the synagogues to preach the word of God. When they went to the town of Paphos, they met a man, a sorcerer, named Bar-Jesus. This man was with the leading government official, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man.

An inscription that shows the name of “Paulli” and portions of “Sergii.” Image courtesy of

Sergius Paulus called for Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God. But the sorcerer, somehow, withstood against Saul and Barnabas because he wanted to turn the pro-counsel away from the faith.

At this point, the Bible begins to call Saul, Paul. And Paul, who was filled with the Holy Spirit, turned to Bar-Jesus, looked intensely at him, and said, “You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord? Now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and not see the sun for a time.” (verses 10-11, NASB)

Immediately, the sorcerer could not see, but the government official believed and was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.

Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark went on to Perga. And then John returned to Jerusalem and the other two went on to Antioch in Pisidia. (Not the same Antioch they left from.)

The two men went to the synagogue and after the readings were done, one of the rulers of the synagogue asked them if they had any words for the people. Paul stood up and started to preach. He began with the Old Testament scriptures when Israel was brought out of captivity in Egypt. He spoke of taking the land for their nation, and Samuel, King Saul, King David, and then he started talking about Jesus.

{Hold up the wordless book and point to the colors as Paul told the gospel.}

Black– We need to repent from sin (verses 23-24)
Red – Salvation has been given. Jesus died on the cross and was raised three days later. (verses 28-32)
White – We have forgiveness of sins. (verses 38-39)

{Explain that baptism (blue), Christian growth (green), and going to heaven (gold) happen after belief in Jesus. Many times people need to hear the message of the gospel a few times before their hearts are opened to Jesus.}

After Paul had preached, the gentiles begged to have Paul preach again the next week. Many began to follow Paul and the next week he preached again in the synagogue. Almost the entire city came to hear Paul preach.

Ruins of St. Paul’s Church in Antioch in Pisidia which was built around the 4th century. Image courtesy of

However, when the Jews saw the crowd they became jealous and started speaking against Paul and his teachings. Paul and Barnabas became bold and stated, “You were to receive the message of God first. But since you reject it, and consider yourselves unworthy of eternal life, then we turn to the gentiles!”

When the gentiles heard this they were overjoyed! They glorified the Lord and many were saved. And the word of the Lord continued to spread.

As for the Jews, they continued to stir up controversy and they attempted to persecute Paul and Barnabas. The men shook the dust off their shoes as they left town and traveled to Iconium.

Application of Acts 13:

Two times Paul and Barnabas were preaching the gospel and people tried to stop them. The first time Paul knew the man was a sorcerer and he called him out: full of deceit, son of the devil, and enemy of righteousness. These words may seen pretty strong to us, but Paul knew who he was dealing with.

What exactly IS a sorcerer? Some people would say a witch, someone of dark magic, or says spells. Are people like this really real?

There are some people who pretend to be sorcerers so they can get money, such as palm readers, or fortune tellers. Then there are others who, like this sorcerer whom Paul dealt with, are messed up in something beyond themselves that is not of God.

When it comes to the gospel, people are either on God’s side, or they aren’t. People have a hard time with this truth. Think back to the garden of Eden. Who influenced Eve to eat of the fruit and disobey God? (Satan) Satan is against God. He always will be and he wants to turn people away from faith in Jesus.

The second time, Paul was stopped by the Jews from preaching the gospel. The Jews were (and still are) God’s chosen people. They love God, but do not accept the message of Jesus.

Yes, God loves us. That is what the gospel message tells us. But God is also holy, and we must deal with sin. The gospel tells us that as well. Jesus died for a reason. And God’s grace covers us through the blood of Jesus. If we do not have that blood on us, then we will not be accepted into heaven.

We either believe in Jesus, or we don’t. Do you? There is no middle ground.

Modification for Older Children:

Have the children create their own Wordless Book and practice telling the gospel to each other.

Other Resources for Acts 13:

Acts 13 Printables
Paul and Barnabas Begin Their Missionary Journey Lesson
Acts Pinterest Board
Acts 13-28 Pinterest Board

Thoughts? Questions? Please leave a comment below.

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