church to the nations
The remainder of the book of Acts records Paul’s second and third missionary journeys and his imprisonment in Rome. With each trip, the Holy Spirit leads Paul farther and farther from Jerusalem, expanding the reach of the gospel. The map to the right depicts Paul’s second and third missionary journeys. Though he visits many of his previous churches, in each trip, Paul is intentional about expanding the reach of the gospel message into new areas of his known world.
All told, Paul spent much of 46-57 AD traveling over 7,000 miles by road or boat in order to faithfully proclaim the gospel, as led by the Holy Spirit. During that time, he not only preached the message of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, but he also wrote many of his letters that would later become the books of the New Testament. Tradition holds that Paul was eventually martyred in Rome in 67 AD after a lengthy imprisonment.
The book of Acts records the beginning of the Holy Spirit’s work to empower believers to reach the ends of the earth with the message of Jesus Christ. The work of the Holy Spirit to lead and guide the apostles as they proclaimed the gospel is the same work the Holy Spirit does in the life of believers today. Our obedience should model theirs as Christians today continue the work of fulfilling the Great Commission: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19)
paul's missionary journeys
Worship, Thanksgiving, & Joy
The message of Christ did not spread without cost to Paul and the other believers. They experienced ridicule, unkindness, physical abuse, imprisonment and death as they shared the gospel. This passage describes their response to the above with the help of the Holy Spirit. Not only did they endure beatings and imprisonment, they embraced them with joy. In doing so, they display the family ingredient of Worship, Thanksgiving, & Joy.
While Paul and Silas are in Philippi, they meet a slave-girl with an evil spirit and her owners are using her to gain money through fortunetelling. Through the power of Christ, using Paul, she is set free, but there is an immediate outcry because her owners can no longer gain money through her. Read the continuing adventure and note the glory that goes to God in worship and identify the lives that change as a result. When we as families live a joyful life, even in the face of hard times, glory goes to the Lord and others notice and want to know more about Christ. The power of God to act often comes as we praise Him. Only with the help of the Holy Spirit inside us will we be able to live with this kind of joy!
- Why was Paul annoyed by the slave-girl’s words?
- Why were her owners angry? Did they care about her?
- What happened to Paul and Silas?
- What are some of the characteristics of God that you imagine Paul and Silas were singing about?
- What miracle happened as they worshiped?
- Why do you think the jailer wanted to know how to be saved? What did he see that attracted him to Jesus?
Activity 1: Worship Night
Choose some worship songs from Sunday morning or VBS. Review difficult words/concepts. Explain that singing songs that focus on God and His character help us at all times and especially during tough times. It helps us remember who God is and how much bigger He is than us and how He is able to meet our obstacles as we turn to Him! The Holy Spirit enables us to respond to our circumstances in ways that please God. Enjoy a time of singing to Him!
Activity 2: Paul and Silas Snacks For Kids
Each family member needs a colored index card or paper. Write Paul and Silas on the outside. Add musical note shapes and praise words. Fold cards until they make a cone shape and hold in place with tape. Fill each cone cup with straight pretzels to represent the prison bars and a sweet treat to represent Paul and Silas’ words of praise. Optional -- add Sour Skittles or cinnamon red hots to represent God’s power. Enjoy while you discuss the story and questions.
Adapted: Church House Collection
Small Group Discussion
- Are there convictions that stir within you, as you read of Paul’s missionary journeys? What is it that Paul does, that convicts you? What examples are there to follow?
- Paul was on a mission given to him by God, and nothing could stop him. Not prison. Not death. Paul willingly gave his life to spread the good news of Jesus. Reflect on this week’s reading and the accounts of Paul’s life, particularly Paul’s words to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:24. What principles are there to follow?