God’s Message goes to All Nations

Unit 4

The First *Missionary Journey Acts 13-15 (AD 46-48)

An EasyEnglish Study Unit (2800 word vocabulary) on the New Testament from Acts to Revelation


G. Barrie Wetherill and M. P. H. Stear

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.

This commentary has yet to go through Advanced Theological Checking.


1. What happened when men opposed the church 11:19-26

We have seen that men opposed the early church. The result was that the *gospel spread further. The Christians had to scatter, but they continued to tell people about Jesus. After men killed Stephen with stones, they attacked other Christians. Some Christians went to Phoenicia and to Cyprus. Some Christians went to Antioch in Syria. They spoke about Jesus. But they only spoke to *Jews. (This was already ten years or more after the *crucifixion.)

Antioch became an important place for Christians. Many Christians met in the church there. Christians from Cyprus went there. Probably some *Jews from Jerusalem, who spoke the Greek language, went there also. Some of them began to *preach to people who spoke Greek. Many of those people became Christians. The church at Jerusalem heard about this. It sent an *apostle to Antioch. His name was Barnabas. They asked him to visit the church.

Barnabas was pleased with what he saw. He encouraged the *evangelists there. Barnabas realised that this group of Christians needed more help. He went off to Tarsus, and brought Paul back with him. Barnabas and Paul stayed in Antioch for a whole year. They taught the people, and God blessed the church there.

The church at Antioch seems to have had many different people in it. They came from different families and even from different nations. They got on well with each other. There was even a man who had lived in the family of Herod the *tetrarch. (A *tetrarch was a *Roman ruler. He ruled over a quarter of a *Roman *province.) There was another man who came from the North African coast. There were several people who could *preach and teach. We usually have one person as a *minister in a church. In the early church, there was often more than one.

2. Barnabas and Paul set off

At this time the *Holy Spirit told Barnabas and Paul to go off on a *mission trip. He told them to *preach the *gospel. The *Holy Spirit had given this church a *vision for *mission. It is interesting that the church sent two of the best leaders. They did not send just someone that they could do without! It was the church at Antioch who sent Barnabas and Paul. The church at Jerusalem did not send them. That is interesting too.

Acts 13:1-3 shows us the leadership group at Antioch. They were men who were very different from each other. They came together because of their *faith in Jesus and the work of the *Holy Spirit. In the church at Antioch, there were *prophets and teachers. There were Barnabas and Simeon whose name was also Niger. There was Lucius of Cyrene. There was Manaen (who had lived in the family of Herod the *tetrarch). There was Saul. They came from different nations. They had different customs and they had different political opinions. However, God brought them together. This shows the unity of his Church.

Jesus told his *disciples to tell other people about him. He said this several times before he returned to heaven (Matthew 28:18; Acts 1:8). It was now about 15 years later. The Jerusalem church had not done much to spread the *gospel ‘to the ends of the earth’. Perhaps the *Jews and *Gentiles still suspected each other. They had always done this. Or perhaps the church was deaf to what the *Lord had said.

It had now become more difficult to live in Jerusalem. In the years AD 46 to AD 48, there was not enough food. Because of this, there were bands of thieves in the city. The man who governed Jerusalem was strong. This made the *Jews even more proud of their nation. Most of the *Jews hated *Gentiles anyway. The church at Jerusalem did not understand what the *gentile nations needed. The church at Antioch could better understand what they needed.

It is good for us to read how the church appointed Saul and Barnabas. The leaders spent time together. They did not have food, and they *worshipped God. So often, church business meetings mention God only for a little time at the beginning and at the end. It is only a ‘nod to God’. Those leaders seemed to do things in a very different way.

They did not take a long time for preparation, or to get enough money. Paul always earned the money that he needed. He made tents (Acts 18:3; 2 Corinthians 11:9; 1 Thessalonians 2:9). Probably the church would have sent them off with some money to begin with. A young man, John Mark, went with them. Later, he wrote the *Gospel of Mark.

The *apostles went first to Cyprus, which was Barnabas’s home country (Acts 4:36). The *gospel had already reached Cyprus. People always asked teachers who travelled about to speak in *synagogues. Paul and Barnabas did this as often as they could.

At the main city in Paphos, they had opportunity to speak to the *Roman *governor. One of the men who advised him opposed them. He was a *Jew who had given up his *Jewish beliefs. He practised magic instead. Paul made this man blind for a short time. This impressed the *governor very much.

When the *gospel begins to spread, men oppose it. When the early church began to grow, men opposed that also. This is what happens most of the time when there is something new. We see it when Jesus began his work. The *Devil came to tempt Jesus. Enemies tried to stop Jesus. On the day of *Pentecost, men laughed at the *disciples. They said, ‘These men are drunk.’ Not long after that, men arrested Peter and John. They tried to stop their *ministry. Now, as people in *gentile regions became Christians, men tried to stop it. They tried to stop belief in Jesus (Acts 13:8). Note too that the *Holy Spirit fills Saul and helps him. He makes him strong against these people.

Notice what Peter and the *disciples did when men opposed them. They thought that this was an advantage. They were bold and spoke about Jesus (Acts 4:8, 4:31).

There can be confusion when we speak about the *Holy Spirit. We may say that the *Holy Spirit fills us. We must think about what it means. Read Acts 2:4. For the first time, the *Holy Spirit filled all those who were together then. But it does seem that this was a very special event. The *Holy Spirit gave these people power. He made them ready. He prepared these early Christians for difficulties. God knew that they would have difficulties.

We must never think that it is easy to be a Christian. There will always be *spiritual attacks. In some places, this is easy to see. Enemies of the *gospel organise well. They attack some church leaders, their wives and families. Sometimes they attack a particular group of Christians. In countries like Britain, many more people now are interested in the *occult, *witchcraft and *Satanism. This has happened over the past 15 to 20 years. We should notice this, and worry about it. However, we must not be afraid, or think too much about it. Remember that Jesus protects us. Because of his death and *resurrection, he defeated all that is evil. Jesus won. He makes us win too. He is our *Lord. He gives us his authority, and the power of the *Holy Spirit.

3. Hard times in Asia

From Cyprus, Paul and Barnabas sailed to Cilicia. This is now southern Turkey. At this time, John Mark left them and returned home. We do not know the reason for this. (This disappointed Paul very much. He thought that John Mark had not done well.) The *apostles travelled along the main road, which *Roman soldiers had made. They went to the main cities there and told the people about Jesus. Paul always went to *synagogues first. There he met with *Jews and *Gentiles who had become *Jews. He also met other people who liked the *Jewish religion. In this way, the *apostles could speak to people who knew the *scriptures (the *Old Testament). They could speak to people who were already interested. God had spoken to these people.

The first main city was another Antioch. Paul *preached there. He mentioned *scripture often when he spoke there. It was very like Stephen’s speech to his enemies. (Paul had listened to Stephen!) There was a great result. Immediately some people became Christians. Luke says that on the next *Sabbath ‘almost everyone in the city came together to hear’.

This made the *Jews very angry. Probably this was because of their bad feelings about *Gentiles. Peter knew about this when he reported back to the Jerusalem church. He had been *preaching to *Gentiles. The church in Jerusalem did not like Peter to do this. Now this was Paul’s experience. It happened to him also, but with more hate. Probably there were several other reasons.

One reason was that the *Jews were jealous of the *apostles’ success. Another reason was that wives of wealthy local citizens often went to the *synagogues. If they were interested in the *Jewish religion, *circumcision did not affect them, of course. For this reason, the *Jews often had great power over local political leaders, through their wives. The *Jews had personal interests. They did not want to lose this power!

Paul answered them. He repeated words from the *prophet Isaiah. This showed that God had always had a plan for the *Gentiles. The *gospel spread quickly through the whole region, but many men opposed it. Paul and Barnabas had to leave the city. Luke says that joy filled them (Acts 13:52). And joy and the *Holy Spirit filled them.’ The *Holy Spirit filled them again and gave them power. There was more work to do. They were even full of joy because men opposed them. They had started a church.

4. Iconium, Lystra And Derbe

Another town on the military road was Iconium. Iconium was 70 miles to the south and east of Antioch. Again the *apostles spoke at the *synagogue. Large numbers of *Jews and *Gentiles believed in Jesus. However, the *Jews and *Gentiles who did not believe opposed the *apostles very much. After some time they plotted to arrest them, and to throw stones at them. The *apostles left, and went on to other cities, to Lystra and Derbe.

At Lystra, there was some difficulty about the local language. People who lived in the main cities spoke the Greek language. In other cities, people would speak the local language. The *apostles spoke Greek, which the more wealthy people would understand. If the *apostles were going to speak to the other people, someone had to interpret for them. There was a man who had been *lame all his life. The man had *faith that his legs could be strong. Paul saw that the man had *faith. He healed him immediately.

The local people then thought that the *apostles were *gods. They thought that the *gods had come to visit the earth. They began to *worship them and to offer *sacrifices. (There was a local story about gods who visited.) The people spoke the local language. The *apostles did not understand at first what the people were doing. When they understood, they made the people stop. Then *Jews from Antioch and Iconium came and persuaded the crowd against the *apostles. The people threw stones at Paul. They dragged him out of town, and left him. They thought that he might be dead.

5. Return

God must have protected Paul by a *miracle. He got up and returned to the town. The next day he went on to Derbe! The *apostles *preached there, and then they returned to each town.

They encouraged the *disciples in each place. They warned them that the Christian life would be hard. People would oppose them. They also appointed *elders in every church. They told them what Jesus had said. He had said that God had a *kingdom. All those who love him belong to his *kingdom. All those who obey him belong to his *kingdom. However, it is not easy to belong to God’s *kingdom. Men would oppose all who wanted to enter.

Luke does not tell us how the *apostles appointed *elders. It seems that Paul and Barnabas chose them. Later, Paul wrote letters to Timothy and to Titus about the qualities of church leaders. Probably he and Barnabas looked for the same qualities in a leader now. We can be certain that they did not appoint only one *elder. They appointed several. There was a group of leaders. Probably these men had *spiritual leadership qualities. They received very little help to become leaders.

There are lessons here for the church today, lessons that help it to recognise new leaders. We can train people and we can *ordain them. This does not make them good leaders. The early church looked first for people with the qualities of leaders. After that, they allowed them to be leaders. That is *ordination.

Jesus spoke quite clearly about the hard times that Christians may have to suffer. Here are two of his statements.

John 15:18-21 ‘If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world. I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words that I spoke to you: “No servant is greater than his master.” If they attacked me, they will attack you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will do this to you because of me. They do not know the One who sent me.’

John 16:33 ‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But be brave! I have defeated the world.’

The *apostles returned to their home church, which was in Antioch in Syria. They told everybody all that they had done. They thanked God for many things. They had spread the *gospel to *Jews and *Gentiles, along this *Roman road in Asia. They had established churches and appointed *elders. The churches would continue to tell other people in the area about Jesus. The *Holy Spirit had certainly guided and protected them. He had helped them to speak to great crowds of people.

We might ask why the *apostles had to suffer. We might ask why God did not protect them. God’s way is sometimes to protect us from trouble. But often, he gives the strength to live through the trouble. The *apostles showed local Christians that God helps us in trouble. This would encourage the local Christians very much. They were forming a church that would be strong. When men opposed them, they would follow the *Lord. Even when there was great trouble, the church would spread.

6. The *Old Testament Law

There were now more and more *Gentiles in the church. The church had to settle the question about *circumcision. They had also to think about what the law meant for the *Gentiles. Many *Jews loved and obeyed the law. When they became Christians, they continued to go to the *Temple. They continued to offer *sacrifices. Jesus was, after all, the *Jewish *Messiah. The *Old Testament had taught them about Jesus. Now he had come, as it said.

This question of *circumcision and the law did not affect the very *Jewish church at Jerusalem. At Antioch, it was very important. Several important things happened at about this time, which affect this subject. It is difficult for us now to know the order of events.

(a) Paul went to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and with Titus. Titus was a *gentile Christian and had not had *circumcision. There was a private discussion with the *apostles (Galatians 2:1-10).

(b) News came to Paul about the churches in Asia that he had just established. (People called these churches Galatians.) The news was not good. False teachers had come in. They said that Christ’s work on the *cross was not enough for *salvation. They said that there should also be *circumcision. People should still obey the law of Moses. To answer this, Paul quickly wrote the letter to the Galatians.

(c) Some visitors from Judea arrived in Antioch. They taught the same thing about *circumcision.

(d) There was an argument between Paul and Peter at Antioch. This was about whether *Jews and *Gentiles could eat together (Galatians 2:11-21).

(e) Acts chapter 15 tells us about a meeting at Jerusalem. This was to decide whether or not *gentile Christians had to have *circumcision. Also, it was to decide whether they had to obey the law of Moses. This was a different occasion from Paul’s other visits to Jerusalem.

All of these subjects were about what *Gentiles must do to be Christians. It was a very important time for the church.

7. Paul’s visit to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus Galatians 2:1-10

The *Lord had shown Paul that he ought to go to Jerusalem. This was about 20 years after the *resurrection. There was a discussion about the *gospel. The *apostles in Jerusalem added nothing to Paul’s message. They all agreed about the most important parts of the *gospel. James, Peter and John agreed that they would work among the *Jews. They recognised that God had called Paul to the *Gentiles. To us now, this seems almost as if they said, ‘Paul, we will go to the *Jews. You can go to the rest of the world!’ In Jerusalem, a large number of *Jews had become Christians. Some of them were *Pharisees and some were lawyers. There were other people also. The *apostles must have been very busy.

During the visit, some of the leaders in Jerusalem wanted Titus to accept *circumcision. Paul and other Christian leaders did not agree.

8. At Antioch, Paul and Peter do not agree Galatians 2:11-21

About this time, Peter visited Antioch. Paul was also there. He had returned from his first *missionary journey. Both Peter and Paul ate with the *Gentiles who were now Christians. This was against the rules for a *Jew. God had shown Peter in a *vision that this rule now did not matter. We can read about this *vision in Acts 10:1-8. Peter had already been with *Gentiles at Cornelius’s house, (Acts 11). In fact, Peter had already reported this and discussed it with the church at Jerusalem.

However, another group of *Jewish Christians came down from Jerusalem. They wanted Christians to obey the law. Peter had already had a difficult time with people like that (Acts 11:1-18). He chose the easy way. He separated from the *Gentiles. We can sympathise. Perhaps we might do the same ourselves. Paul saw that this was an important subject. They should not just do nothing about it. He therefore had to talk about the subject at once. Peter knew that he had done the wrong thing.

9. The *council at Jerusalem Acts 15:1-35

Probably the people who caused the problem with Peter at Antioch also caused this *council meeting. This is what the teachers said at Antioch -

Acts 15:1Unless you accept *circumcision, which Moses taught, you cannot have *salvation.’

The church at Antioch sent some men, including Paul and Barnabas, to Jerusalem. They went to discuss this subject. At Jerusalem, people discussed it in a very serious way. James, who was the half brother of Jesus, may have organised it. Peter then said something that was very important. He said that God had sent him to the *Gentiles (to Cornelius’s house). God gave the *Gentiles the *Holy Spirit, without any ceremony. Surely no-one could want more from the *Gentiles than God did. Then Barnabas and Paul showed that this had happened many times on their first *missionary journey.

This settled the main subject. Everyone agreed. *Salvation comes to all people, both *Jews and *Gentiles. It comes by the *grace of God, through *faith in Christ. It is wrong to add any ceremony to this. *Salvation requires nothing more. In fact, anything more would be an insult to God. Anything more would mean that Christ’s death on the *cross was not enough. *Faith in Christ and in his *crucifixion and *resurrection, is what is necessary.

There were two other problems for the *Council to settle. One was about wrong behaviour. In Romans 1:18-32, Paul tells us how *Gentiles live. *Roman writers at that time agree with what he says. The *Council therefore asked the *gentile Christians to avoid wrong behaviour. Paul always did this. He always taught about moral behaviour.

The other problem was about foods. It was about what food you should eat. And it was about what foods you should not eat. The church at this time still had many *Jewish Christians. *Jews had to obey certain rules about food. This was what the *Jewish Christians had done, all their lives. The *Council gave this advice, ‘You must not eat food that men have *sacrificed to *idols. Do not eat blood. Do not eat the meat of animals that men have strangled.’ (Acts 15:29). [‘Strangled’ means killed by the neck.] The *Council asked the *Gentiles to obey these rules. Then *Jewish and *Gentile Christians could live together more easily. The *Council tried to please everybody. But things did not always work out well. It was not really fair to *Gentiles. They could only eat meat that men had killed in the *Jewish way. Paul did not entirely agree with this, (1 Corinthians 10:25).

Notice what the Church at Antioch did to solve the problem (Acts.15:2). They sent Paul and Barnabas and some other leaders to Jerusalem. It was wise to send a group as well as Paul and Barnabas. The church at Antioch was humble, also. They recognised the authority of the Church in Jerusalem. If they had tried to solve the problems by themselves, they could have divided the church.

Also notice the good communication that the *Council had with the whole Church:

(i) They supported Paul and Barnabas;

(ii) they sent a letter with their decision;

(iii) they sent people to speak about the decision.

It seems to us that the leaders at Antioch and at Jerusalem did everything that they could. They wanted to keep the church united as more people became members. They wanted to encourage new *gentile Christians. They also wanted to encourage Paul and Barnabas in their *ministry. They did not allow the church to divide into little churches. Men did not always agree, but the *Council helped them to stay united.

10 Paul’s letter to the Galatians

It is likely that Paul wrote this letter just before the *Council at Jerusalem. False teachers had arrived in Galatia after Paul and Barnabas had left. They attacked Paul’s authority. They said that Christians had to obey the law of Moses, if they wanted complete *salvation. Wherever Paul went, there were false teachers. This has always been a problem for the church. Paul had strong feelings about this. He was very worried about the Galatians. Here is the beginning of his reply.

Galatians 1: 6-8 I am astonished that you are so quickly denying God. He called you by the *grace of Christ. Now you believe in a different *gospel, which is really no *gospel at all. It seems that some people are confusing you. They are trying to spoil the *gospel of Christ. We or an *angel from *heaven might *preach a different *gospel. But there would be punishment from God for us!

The false teachers accused Paul of three things. He had to answer them.

(1) They said that people who wanted complete *salvation had to have *circumcision. And they had to obey the law.

(2) They attacked Paul’s authority.

(3) They said that Paul’s message encouraged people to live in a way that was not right.

The false teachers were urging people to believe again in ‘*salvation by behaviour’. (People have believed in this for years and years. They think that God will not love them unless they are good.) *Faith in Christ was not enough, they said. You have to obey this and that law. You have to do this. You have to do that. This means that you have *salvation by your behaviour. Paul had to correct this. He had to correct this quickly.

11. Paul’s answer to the false teachers

First Paul had to show the Galatians his authority again, as an *apostle. He does this at the beginning of the letter. But Paul always said that the *Scriptures were his authority. In all his discussions, he begins with the *Scriptures. We see this in this letter to the Galatians. This is the important part of what Paul says:

(a) The Galatians had already received Christ, and the *Holy Spirit, by *faith (Galatians 3:1-5).

When Paul and Barnabas *preached, the Galatians did believe in Christ. God gave them the *Holy Spirit. God changed their lives. It was as if they had new lives now. All this happened because they had *faith in Christ.

(b) God was pleased with Abraham also because of his *faith. It was not because of the way that Abraham lived (Galatians 3:6-9).

The *Jewish teachers who gave Paul trouble often spoke about Abraham. They did this to prove that they were right. Paul shows that God was pleased with Abraham because of his *faith. This was long before people knew about the law or even *circumcision. In answer to God’s promise, we read this:

Genesis 15:6 Abram believed the *LORD. The *LORD considered him to be a completely good man.

Abraham’s *justification was the result of his trust in God. The Galatians trusted God in the same way. In fact, God had also made a promise to Abraham. God said that through him God would bless all nations (not only the *Jews). This happened before the law or rules about *circumcision.

Genesis 12:2,3 ‘I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you. I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you. I will *curse whoever *curses you. I will bless all people on earth through you.’

(c) The law puts us all under a *curse. Christ has freed us (Galatians 3:10-14).

The law *curses anyone who does not obey it completely. But no one has ever been able to obey it completely – except Christ. The law also says this:

Deuteronomy 21:23 Anyone who hangs on a tree is under God’s *curse.

In this way, Jesus became a *curse for us, instead of us. Now God can forgive us and give us the power of the *Holy Spirit.

(d) Why God gave the law (Galatians 3:15-25).

God gave the law a long time after the promise to Abraham. The law cannot cancel the promise. The law shows what *sin is. It helps us to give attention to our wrong behaviour. It helps us to check our *sin. But the law had no power to make us right with God. So, we see that our only way of *salvation is to trust Christ. Only he can forgive us, and we must accept this from him. We do not deserve this. It is his free gift to us. It is a gift for everybody in the world, *Jews and *Gentiles. *Salvation is for all, but only in this way. If we try to make ourselves good by the law, we separate ourselves from Christ (Galatians 5:4).

(e) It is as if we have no guilty *sins (Galatians 3:26-4:7).

Therefore Christ forgives all who trust in him. He frees us from our guilty *sins. We receive our share of the promise that God made to Abraham.

(f) Live in the power of the *Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26).

There are two *natures in a Christian. There is the old evil *nature, which makes us behave wrongly. We behave wrongly when we hate. We behave wrongly when we drink too much. We behave wrongly when we do other, similar things, (Galatians 5:19-21). We also have the new *nature, which God gives us through Christ. It is only through the power of the *Holy Spirit in us that we can lose the old evil *nature. Then we can live for God. There is a struggle between our old and new *natures. We shall live with that struggle until Christ comes again. Paul writes more about this in another letter. However, here he explains it clearly, with powerful words. We see how much Paul uses *scripture. What he teaches comes from *scripture.

The *prophet Isaiah wrote about the power of God’s word.

Isaiah 55:10,11 The rain and the snow come down from the sky, and do not return to it. They water the earth and make plants grow. The earth then provides seed for the farmer and bread for men to eat. It is the same with my word that goes out from my mouth. It will not return to me empty. It will do what I desire. It will achieve what I wanted it to achieve.

Wherever he could, Paul used *scripture as his authority.

(g) Only Christ can give us true freedom.

Paul emphasises the fact that only the *gospel can give anyone true freedom. The natural man is a slave to *sin. He is a slave to the kind of desires that Paul mentions in Galatians 5:19-21. Jesus also emphasised this, in a discussion with the *Jews.

John 8:31-34 To the *Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you obey my teaching, you are really my *disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’ They answered him, ‘We are Abraham’s *descendants. We have never been slaves of anyone. You say that the truth will make us free. We do not understand how you can say that.’ Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth. Everyone who *sins is a slave to *sin.’

*Sin has a strong power. It controls us. Only the *gospel can make us free from its power. But people can be slaves to something else. Sometimes they think that there is only one way to worship. They think that they must always do things in a certain way. This is ‘salvation by behaviour’. But there is nothing that we can do to earn our *salvation. We all need the *mercy and *grace of God, in Christ.

12. Finish

Everyone is *guilty before God. No one can do anything to make himself good. In our *spirits we have nothing. We are *spiritually poor. We must accept that Christ forgives us. God does not want anyone to remain *spiritually poor. He gave his only Son so that he could forgive us. He gives us the power of the *Holy Spirit. He helps us to live for him in this poor world. This is the message that Paul was proud to take to the world. He suffered and died for this message. We must think about how we can continue this work. And about how we can take this *gospel to those who still do not have it.

G. Barrie Wetherill

Michael P.H. Stear

Feb 2002


1. We are not sure whether Paul’s visit to Jerusalem [Galatians 2:1-7 (section 7)] was before or after his first *missionary journey.

2. The rules about food in Acts 15 come from Leviticus chapters 17 and 18. See Leviticus 17: 8, 10, 13, 15.

Word List

angel ~ a servant from God who brings his message OR a bad angel that was good. That bad angel *sinned by doing bad and now works for the *Devil.

apostle ~ one of the 12 men whom Jesus chose to be his helpers. He chose them to teach other people about him. Christians call Paul an *apostle.

circumcision ~ when you cut off the loose skin at the end of the sex part of a boy or man; an *Old Testament act; it showed that the person agreed to keep God’s laws.

council ~ important men that meet together to discuss and organise events; a meeting of leaders.

cross ~ two pieces of wood fixed together. Jesus died on a cross.

crucifixion ~ a cruel way to kill someone. Men make a large wooden cross and fasten a man to it with nails. He must hang there until he dies.

curse ~ say bad words; to wish evil upon someone.

descendants ~ our children and their children; all the people who will come after us.

Devil ~ the leader and the worst of the bad *angels. The worst enemy of God.

disciple ~ a person who believes in Jesus and obeys him.

elders ~ church leaders, usually older, wiser.

evangelist ~ a person who tells people about Jesus, and helps them to trust him.

faith ~ belief and confidence in someone or something; trust in God and in his Bible.

Gentile ~ a person who is not a *Jew; a person who does not know God.

gods ~ *idols, false gods whom people *worship instead of the true God; a model of the God, made out of wood, stone or metal.

gospel ~ the good news about Jesus.

governor ~ an important leader, or ruler.

grace ~ a gift of God that we do not deserve and cannot earn; his help and protection.

guilty ~ when we have done wrong things, we are guilty.

heaven ~ the home of God.

holy ~ perfect, completely good.

Holy Spirit ~ God’s Spirit. Jesus sent him to help people.

idol ~ anything that people *worship instead of God.

Jew ~ a person from the same big family and country as Jesus.

Jewish ~ a word that describes a *Jew or anything to do with a *Jew.

justification ~ when God declares that he has accepted a person. He does this when a person trusts Jesus.

kingdom ~ where a king rules; a land where a king rules; the kingdom of God is where God rules.

lame ~ not able to walk in a normal way, or not able to walk at all.

Lord ~ master, ruler, God.

mercy ~ the love that God shows when he forgives us.

Messiah ~ the name that God chose for Jesus Christ; he takes away *sin and makes people right with God.

minister ~ a church leader, often someone who spends all his time working in the church.

ministry ~ the work of a *minister.

miracle ~ a wonderful event; it shows that God is at work.

mission ~ work for Jesus.

missionary ~ a person who goes to another country to tell people about Jesus.

nature ~ what a person is really like inside.

occult ~ *spiritual beliefs which are not Christian; beliefs in magic and wrong *spirits.

Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible, which the writers wrote before the life of Jesus; the *holy things that the writers wrote before Christ’s birth.

ordain ~ appoint a person to work for God.

ordination ~ the ceremony at which people appoint a person to work for God.

Pentecost ~ the time each year when the *Jews thanked God for their food; the special time when God gave the *Holy Spirit to the church.

Pharisees ~ a group of *Jews who thought that they obeyed all God’s commands. They did not like what Jesus said. They thought that they were always right. And they became very proud.

preach ~ tell and explain the good news about Jesus to someone, or to a group of people.

prophets ~ people who can tell other people what God wants.

province ~ an area of a country.

resurrection ~ a return to life, after death.

Roman ~ Rome was the capital city of the rulers at that time. That which belonged to Rome was Roman.

sabbath ~ a day of rest when *Jews did not work; a special day for doing what pleases God.

sacrificed ~ gave a special gift to God.

sacrifices ~ special gifts to God.

salvation ~ when God takes away the results of our wrong beliefs and actions.

Satanism ~ *worship of the *Devil.

Scriptures ~ another name for the Bible.

sin ~ when people do not do what God wants; wrong things that we do or say.

spirit ~ the part of a person that is alive and that we cannot see.

spiritual ~ alive but not seen; belongs to the *spirit.

synagogue ~ the place or building where *Jews met together. They prayed, they studied the *Scriptures. They attended other public meetings in the synagogue.

Temple ~ the special building in Jerusalem where the *Jews went to *worship God.

Tetrarch ~ a *Roman ruler. He ruled over a quarter of a *Roman *province.

vision ~ dream, sometimes a dream that comes to a person who is awake.

witchcraft ~ belief in magic powers; also, to practice magic.

worship ~ when people honour God; to pray to him and to praise him.

Book List

Craig Keener ~ Bible Background *Commentary NT ~ IVP

B. M. Newman and E. A. Nida ~ A Translators Handbook on The Acts of The *Apostles ~ UBS

F. F. Bruce ~ The Book of The Acts ~ MMS

Donald Grey Barnhouse ~ Acts – An expositional commentary ~ Zondervan

In the Footsteps of Paul ~ CWR (Daily Bible Readings 1988)

I. Howard Marshall ~ Acts ~ Tyndale

Campbell Morgan ~ Acts of the *Apostles ~ Pickering and Inglis

Paul Barnett ~ ‘Bethlehem to Patmos’ ~ Biblical Classics Series ~ Paternoster ~ ISBN 0-85364-874-3

Werner Keller ~ ‘The Bible as History’ ~ Hodder and Stoughton

F.F. Bruce ~ ‘Israel and the Nations’ ~ Paternoster ~ ISBN 0-85364-762-3

Also: Personal notes and material from many other sources


© 1999-2003, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

March 2003

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