Lesson: Paul and Barnabas Persevere

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Free Sunday School LessonsThis lesson is a continuation of the study of the Book of Acts.  Paul and Barnabas face difficulties in Iconium and Lystra but continue to share the Good News because they are empowered with the Holy Spirit.  Children will learn that God helps us stick to our mission, even when things get hard. This lesson can be adapted for Children’s Church or simplified for younger students. Be creative and adapt this lesson to fit your own Sunday School class and teaching style.

Bible Story: Paul and Barnabas are Empowered to Persevere
Scripture: Acts 14
Target Age Group: Age 9 – 11 (U.S. 3rd – 5th Grade)
Learning Context: Sunday School
Target Time Frame: 60 minutes
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(For those who have been using these lessons in the series of the study of Acts, this lesson will be the last for a few weeks. We’re doing some review weeks for children who missed the first lessons.)
Supply List: Bibles, map of missionary journey, butcher paper, markers and crayons, foam door hangers, foam stickers (if making door hangers)
Learning Goal: Students will learn that the Holy Spirit empowers believers to share the Gospel despite difficulties.
Learning Indicator: Students will demonstrate their comprehension of the Bible lesson by answering the review questions.
Learning Activity #1: Missionary update:  Have students review Paul and Barnabas’ missionary journey. (Acts 13:4-14:20)  Use a sheet butcher paper and have students draw a mural of the events that Paul and Barnabas experienced.
Learning Activity #2: Have someone from your church that is a missionary or has been on a mission trip share what God has done in the place where they were called to serve.  Allow students to ask questions.
Learning Activity #3: This is the last week for the students in our class before they move up to their new class next week.  We brought in foam door hangers with foam stickers and wrote out different main truths the students learned over the time we studied Acts together.  (Example:  The Holy Spirit gives me courage to share the Good News.) They had the option to choose a truth from the paper we provided or write something of their own that was meaningful to them from the study of Acts. They wrote the truth on the door hanger and decorated it with stickers and markers.
Test: Review Questions
Memory Verse: Acts 14:27 “On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how He opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.”

Bible Lesson:  Paul and Barnabas are Empowered to Persevere

(This is only a guide to help you in preparing to teach this lesson.  Give Bibles to students who need them.  Before teaching the Bible lesson pray and ask God to speak through you and help each person to hear and respond with obedience to what He teaches through the lesson.)

  • Lycaonian- lihk-ay-o-nih-uhn
  • Lystra:  Lihs-truh

Last week we heard about Paul and Barnabas’ experience in Pisidian Antioch.  We learned that whenever the Good News is shared some will believe and some will not.  The Jews who would not believe in Jesus stirred up trouble and kicked Paul and Barnabas out of their city.
Today we are continuing our journey through the Book of Acts and we will travel with Paul and Barnabas to Iconium.  (Locate on a map.)
Let’s turn in our Bibles to Acts 14.  (For students unfamiliar with the Bible:  Encourage students who have found their place to help those sitting near them who seem to be having difficulty finding the passage.)
If you have been here each week who can guess where Paul and Barnabas went first as they arrived in Iconium? (Synagogue) Why did they go to the synagogue?  (To share the Good News)
The Holy Spirit lives in Paul and Barnabas’ heart.  When they share the Good News about Jesus they have the Holy Spirit’s power speaking His words through them.  The Holy Spirit enables believers to speak the right words to the people they are sharing with.  Let’s read the last part of Acts 14:1.  The Holy Spirit gave Paul and Barnabas the power to speak in such a way that many in the audience listening heard the Good News and believed in Jesus.
Once again we see that whenever the Good News is shared some will believe and some will not.  Let’s read Acts 14:2.  The Jews who refused to believe poisoned the minds of the Gentiles.  When we read that they poisoned the Gentiles minds it means that they criticized the message Paul and Barnabas were sharing and said bad things about them.
Even though there were people trying to stir up trouble, the Holy Spirit empowered Paul and Barnabas to keep doing the work that God told them to do.  They stayed in Iconium a long time teaching God’s word boldly.  God’s power could be seen through Paul and Barnabas when He gave them the ability to perform miracles.  (Acts 14:3)
The people living in Iconium were divided into two groups of people.  Some of the people believed that Paul and Barnabas were teaching God’s truth to them.  Others did not believe they were teaching the truth about God.  The group of people who did not believe made plans to hurt Paul and Barnabas.  When Paul and Barnabas learned of this plan they quickly left and went to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe.
The Holy Spirit had given Paul and Barnabas courage to do the work God called them to do.  We must not think because the verse says they quickly left to mean they were afraid of possible physical danger.  The passage doesn’t tell us but most likely they quickly left Iconium because they were obeying the Holy Spirit’s instructions for them to continue to go to other places to share the Good News.
It would be easy for Paul and Barnabas to be afraid to share the Good News in the new places they went.  They were experiencing difficulties in each place they went.   Instead they trusted God to empower them to preach knowing that their lives could be in danger wherever they went.
Choose a volunteer to play the role of the cripple man in Lystra and another student to play Paul.  (As you narrate the story from Acts 14:8-10 the volunteers will act out their roles)
What an amazing sight this was to the crippled man who was healed and to the crowd who knew he had been crippled from birth.  It was a miracle that this man could stand on his feet and walk.  A miracle is something only God can do.  When God performs a miracle it is to show us His power and point us to Him.  The correct response to seeing a miracle take place is to praise and thank God for what He has done.
Let’s read what the response of the people of Lystra was.  Read Acts 14:11-13.  God created people to have a relationship with Him.  He is the One true God and He alone deserves to be worshiped.
The people living in Lystra worshiped a Greek god named Zeus.  They believed Zeus was the king of the gods.  Zeus was not a real god at all.
God created people to worship Him and Him alone.  When men, women, boys and girls allow sin to control their hearts they worship gods that are not real. Gods can be anything that we focus on instead of the One true God.  Jesus is the King of Kings.  He is the One we should worship with all our hearts.
The people who worshiped Zeus believed that a long time ago he came and visited their land. When they saw the crippled man healed the people thought that their gods had come down as humans in the form of Paul and Barnabas.  They thought Barnabas was Zeus and they thought Paul was Hermes because Hermes was the messenger of the gods.
The priest of Zeus’ temple brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the people wanted to worship Paul and Barnabas.
When Paul and Barnabas realized what the people were doing they stopped them and told them they were only men as they were.  They shared God’s Words with them and told them to turn away from there worship of false gods to the Living God.
Even when Paul shared God’s Words with these people they were having a hard time not worshiping Paul and Barnabas.
The response of the people of Lystra was not the response God wanted.  He didn’t want the people in Lystra to worship His messengers.  He wanted them to turn from their sin and worship the One true God.  It is always sad to see people worship gods who are not real instead of worshipping the Living God who has come to earth in human form.  Jesus, God’s Son came and died on the cross for our sins.  When we believe in Jesus He saves us from our sins and gives us eternal life.
It’s important for us today not to worship our favorite pastors and teachers.  They are God’s messengers teaching us to how to live a life that pleases God.  We know when we are worshiping pastors and teachers when we only want to hear our favorite pastor or teacher but will not read and study the Bible ourselves and listen to others who love and believe in Jesus.  Sometimes it is hard to go to a new Sunday School class.  As you prepare to be promoted next week to your next grade in Sunday School remember that God will use your new teacher to help you to continue to grow in your relationship with Jesus.
Paul and Barnabas never had a dull moment as they obeyed God and traveled as missionaries sharing the Good News.
As Paul and Barnabas served God in Lystra their enemies were still working to fight against them.  Their enemies from Pisidian Antioch and Iconium traveled to Lystra and stirred up trouble with the crowd of people.  The crowd believed the lies that the enemies were saying and they turned against Paul and Barnabas.
One minute the crowds were worshiping Paul and Barnabas and the next they turn violent.  Read Acts 14:19.
Jesus experienced the same kind of treatment when He was on this earth.  On Palm Sunday the people were waving palm branches and praising Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem. (John 12:13)  The following week the crowds of people were crying out for Him to be crucified.  When we follow Jesus we will experience suffering just as He did when He was on this earth. (John 19:6)
The enemies of the Good News thought they had silenced Paul.  They dragged what they thought was his dead body outside the city.
Many believers gathered around Paul’s body thinking he was dead.  To their surprise Paul stood up and walked right back into Lystra.  The Holy Spirit gave Paul courage even when he was persecuted and mistreated by his enemies.
Believers should never fear death because nothing can happen to us until the work God has for us on this earth is done.  Another reason we should not fear death is because when He does take us from our life here on earth through death we will live forever with Jesus in heaven.
Paul and Barnabas left the next day from Lystra and went to Derbe.  Many people in Derbe heard the Good News and believed in Jesus.
When it was time to leave Derbe, Paul and Barnabas knew that it was time to return to the believers in the Antioch Church where they began their missionary journey.  (Allow students to point out the way they think would be the quickest and easiest way to return to Antioch.)
Paul and Barnabas did not take the easy way home.  That was not God’s plan for them.  Instead they travelled back to each city that they had stopped and shared the Good News. In each of these cities there were new believers that Paul and Barnabas wanted to encourage to remain faithful to God. Why do you think the believers in these cities needed to be encouraged?  (Paul and Barnabas wouldn’t be there and they would need to keep trusting that the Holy Spirit would give them the courage to stay faithful to Jesus even when difficulties came.  Maybe the enemies were bothering them since they thought they got rid of Paul and Barnabas and they were trying to keep them from following Jesus.)  Let’s read Paul’s encouragement to them in Acts 14:22.  This might not seem like encouragement.  It would have been a lie for Paul and Barnabas to say it is easy to follow Jesus.  They had already experienced suffering and difficulty for their obedience to Jesus.  They were in a place that they could encourage these new believers that even though they would face difficulties God would always be with them and enable them to do what He called them to do.
After going through each city encouraging the new believers and helping them establish their own church Paul and Barnabas finally arrived back in Antioch.
The believers in Antioch must have been so excited to see them home safe and sound.  Imagine what it would have been like to hear all the stories Paul and Barnabas shared of what God had done as He led them to different cities sharing the Good News.  The believers in Antioch must have rejoiced when they heard how many people had believed in Jesus.  They must have thanked God for His protection and power as they heard of the dangers that Paul and Barnabas had faced.  They would have been encouraged to see how God answered their prayers as they prayed for them while they were gone.
Paul and Barnabas trusted the Holy Spirit to give them power to do the missionary work God called them to do.  We can be encouraged to trust that the Holy Spirit will empower us to do whatever God asks us to do.
Close in prayer.
Review Questions:
(Choose two teams and play a game of tic-tac-toe as each team correctly answers a question.)

  1. In today’s lesson in which city did Paul and Barnabas start out?  Iconium
  2. Where did they teach?  The synagogue
  3. What did the unbelieving Jews do?  Stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds
  4. What did Paul and Barnabas do as they stayed in Iconium?  Taught God’s Word boldly
  5. Why did Paul and Barnabas quickly leave Iconium?  People were planning to stone them
  6. Where did Paul and Barnabas go next?  Lystra
  7. What miracle did God do in Lystra?  He healed the cripple man
  8. Why were the people worshiping Paul and Barnabas? They thought they were Zeus and Hermes
  9. Who convinced the crowds to stone Paul?
  10. What did Paul and Barnabas do as they travelled home?  Stopped at the cities where they shared the Good News and encouraged believers.
  11. When they returned to Antioch what did Paul and Barnabas share with the believers there?  All that God had done through them

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