Introduction to God's Mission Work and Map
The pictures of Christian activity that we discover in the Book of Acts are designed to instruct later generation Christians as to what is normal activity for the church. This first missionary trip is no exception. Unfortunately, many have totally misunderstood the purpose of Acts. They instead state that Acts represents the New Testament church with the implications that those things do not happen in today’s modern (normative) church.
We suggest that though the local church faces different situations throughout the world, we must not conclude because of a narrowness of experience (or should we add theology) that what happens here is extra special. In other words, although we might not face certain harrowing experiences as Saul and Barnabas, it does not mean these things are not happening right now as inroads are made into new unreached areas throughout the world.
I have heard miracle after miracle take place. I recently came back from India. We were about to leave when a tall young man went running into the house. The pastor asked me if I knew his story. "No," I replied, "Please tell me." He went on telling me that this young man when he was a boy fell from a tall coconut tree and broke his back. Two hospitals said that without an operation there would be no hope for the boy. They were broke like most people. But when they heard about Jesus, they asked Him to heal their son. They promised to follow Jesus if He would heal them. God did heal that boy; he was the same young man running into the house in our story. That family and quite a few others came to know the Lord through this miraculous healing.
Instead of reading these verses as what has happened, we need to be open and expectant that we will see such events happening wherever the Gospel goes. In fact, they should in a way spurn us to reexamine our own theological conclusions about what the church is and should be doing. The modern church retains its legitimacy only as much as it can present its continuum of theology, life, and ministry to the original church. Unfortunately, many churches have usurped Christ’s position as head of the church and have allowed “what we did last year” dictate what they will do in the coming year. They simply have no faith or expectation in what Christ will be doing in their midst.
Acts 13-14 describes how God initiates ministry in His people so that they can have a part is His worldwide mission. Because of this, we will be observing the established church as well as the church in its infant stages. The church was not meant to stay still and stagnant. We will find an active church, waiting upon the Lord by prayer and fasting. God always actively prepares His people who wait upon Him for the next step in fulfilling God’s mission for the church. God’s mission ends with Christ’s coming.
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth (Acts 1:8).
Acts 1:8 records for us the framework within which the church in every generation is to be shaped and used. In particular we will learn in these verses how leadership models are to operate and how ministries in hostile situations can handle different situations.
Witness here in Acts 13-14 the first powerful expansion of the kingdom of God into the territory of the evil one among the nations. The spiritual world war has begun. God’s kingdom light shines in the darkness.
The center of church activities quickly moved from Jerusalem to Antioch. There were numerous reasons for this.
Christ was soon to judge Jerusalem for its rejection of the Messiah. This judgment occurred in just another twenty years after this journey. God was not only relocating the center of Christianity but establishing many new centers. Note how Acts 13:49 records that “the word of he Lord was being spread through the whole region.” Antioch in Pisidia now became a center, not only the Antioch in Syria (see map).
One of the ways to help us organize our thoughts through these chapters is to evaluate where this missionary team actually traveled and what occurred in each of those places. We have included a map on which you can trace Barnabas and Saul’s to and fro journey. This is commonly called Paul’s first missionary journey. He had two more proper journeys (2nd and 3rd) plus his trip to Rome as a prisoner. These journeys will take us right to the end of the book of Acts.
So take a moment and read Acts 13-14. As you read these chapters, note where the sending out of the missionary team takes place and follow them by tracing their route for future reference. Next >
For a larger map of Paul's first journey click here.
Introduction Acts 13:1-3
| Leadership Acts 13:1
| Diversity Acts 13:1
God-seeking Acts 13:2
| Mission-minded Acts 13:3
Video Podcast on Acts 13:1-3
Acts: Other BFF Articles
The Bible Teacher's Commentary
Acts Introduction and Outlines
Acts Maps: Paul's 1-2 Journeys
Acts Maps: Paul's 3 & Rome Journeys
(Blank versions also available!)