First Missionary Journey

Study Guide

When Paul and Barnabas embark on the first missionary journey, they encounter acceptance and rejection. And as the gospel takes root and spreads to both Jew and Gentile, persecution intensifies. But God’s hand is on them, they have strength to persevere, and the growth of Christianity is fueled by their sacrifice.
  1. The leadership of the church at Antioch is able to discern the Holy Spirit’s leading because they are actively engaging God and seeking his direction. Consider the spiritual disciplines of fasting, prayer, and worship. How can you engage God in such a way that you are sensitive to the movement of the Holy Spirit in your life?

  2. In order for others to hear and believe the gospel, we have to verbally tell them about Jesus and what he has done in our lives. In what ways is this difficult for you? What keeps you from speaking to others about Jesus?

  3. Consider the idea that God calls us to specific works in order to expand his kingdom. Have you ever felt the Holy Spirit prompting you to a particular area of ministry or outreach? How can you respond? To whom should you talk in order to get wisdom and insight about how to move forward?

Key Points
  • This first missionary journey marks a shift—Christianity is no longer centered in Jerusalem but is being spread elsewhere, and Gentiles are being actively recruited and brought into the church.

  • Paul and Barnabus are sent by the church at Antioch. This is an intentional, strategic move to expand God’s kingdom.

  • As the gospel is preached, we see both acceptance and rejection.

  • There is also a correlation between persecution and the expansion of God’s kingdom. In his sovereignty, God allows circumstances of resistance and opposition to show his power.

  • Even in the face of persecution—nearly to the point of death—Paul continues to preach the gospel. He is fully convinced that he is spreading the truth.

  • Christianity is fueled by sacrifice. We must be willing to risk reputation, relationships, energy, and resources in order to tell others about who Jesus is and what he has done for us.

Other Scripture References

Scripture: Acts 13-14