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PAUL AND THE SORCERER 

Scripture: Acts 13:1–12; 1 John 4:4

Memory verse: 1 John 4:4
"The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world."

Lead—In

Stress that Satan is subtle. When we are unsuspecting, he comes along with something that catches our attention. Then before we know it, we are doing things we should not be doing.

Ask: “What should a Christian’s attitude be toward those satanic items and practices? What does God’s Word say about them?” (Allow responses, then have the students read Deuteronomy 18:9–14, Galatians 5:19–21, and Revelation 21:8.)

Explain that God has made himself clear in these passages. He is saying that He hates these things; they are detestable to Him. God commands us to stay away from any powers that are not from Him. We cannot treat them lightly; that is the first step in falling into Satan’s trap. The Bible speaks of these things many times so we know we definitely need to stay away from them. God commands it.

Emphasize that although the forces of Satan are real and powerful, God’s power is greater—as the students will see through Paul’s experience in this week’s study. Stress that if we obey God by staying away from Satan’s traps, we can rely on God’s power to defeat anything Satan may bring against us.

Hearing God’s Word

Paul faced opposition because of his belief in Jesus. However, that did not cause him to give up and quit preaching the gospel. He knew God had called him to spread the gospel and he was determined to obey God.

Paul and Barnabas had been working with the Christians at Antioch (AN-tee-ahk). While they were there, the Holy Spirit directed the Christians to send Paul and Barnabas on a missionary trip to various places. They would preach to the people and establish churches there.

Paul and Barnabas are Sent

Soon Paul and Barnabas were ready to start on their first missionary journey. After the church at Antioch laid hands on them and prayed a special prayer, the two were sent on their way.

Missionary life in Paul‘s time was different from what it is now. (On the chalkboard, list differences between an early missionary journey and a modern missionary journey. Compare topics, such as travelling methods, speed of travel, etc. If a map is available, let the students locate various places missionary travel might lead: through a jungle, across water, over mountains, etc.)

Ask: “What is the reason for a missionary journey?” (Allow a student to answer.)

As Paul and Barnabas left on their first missionary journey, they had one goal in mind—to preach the gospel. When they arrived at their first stop, they immediately began preaching.

Two important details should be remembered about Paul and Barnabas’ first missionary journey—why they went and who sent them. It was God’s desire that the gospel, or “good news,” be preached to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews. God wanted everyone to hear about salvation through Jesus. The Christians at Antioch responded to the Holy Spirit’s leading. They knew God was sending Paul and Barnabas to do important work for Him.

As Paul and Barnabas prepared for their journey, they decided to take along John Mark, Barnabas’ nephew. He was to be their helper and travelling companion.

Arrival in Cyprus

At last the men reached their destination. The first place they stopped was the island of Cyprus. Cyprus was a special place for Barnabas. He was born there, and many of his relatives may have stayed on the island. Cyprus was an important place for other reasons too; many Jews were there, and it was also an important trading centre.

Ask: “Why would these factors be so important?” (Allow the students to discuss the reasons.)

Paul wanted the Jews to learn the truth about Jesus. Since he had once been a Pharisee, he understood the lifestyle of the Jewish people and could relate to them. The fact that Cyprus was a trading centre meant people from all over the world would be on the island. Those who heard the gospel and were saved would take the message of Jesus back to their land. What a wonderful way to get the gospel message to other places!

The first city in which Paul preached was called Salamis (SAL-uh-mihs). (Point to Salamis on the map.)

The synagogue was the first place Paul and Barnabas went to preach. A synagogue is a place where Jews worship God. In the synagogue Paul told how Jesus fulfilled the prophecies in the Old Testament. He told them Jesus had died on the cross for them, and they could have eternal life when they believed in Him. Paul’s message was simple, but powerful. The message of God’s grace is the same message we can tell others too.

The Men Travel to Paphos

As the weeks passed, Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark worked their way across the island. Travelling from village to village, they preached about Jesus. Finally, after many days of travel, Paul and Barnabas reached the city of Paphos (PAY-fahs) on the western side of the island.

Paphos was the capital of Cyprus. Many people live in this city. Here, as in the other cities, Paul and Barnabas shared the gospel message.

Because Paphos was the capital city, the governor of Cyprus lived there. His name was Sergius Paulus (SUUR-gee-uhs PAHL-uhs). (Write his name on the chalkboard.) Sergius Paulus was an intelligent man. After Paul and Barnabas had been in the city a short time, Sergius Paulus heard about their teaching and asked them to share their message with him.

Ask: “How do you think Paul and Barnabas felt when they found out the governor wanted to hear their message? What might happen if they could convince the governor to believe their message and become a Christian?” (Allow the students time after each question to discuss the possibilities.)

Paul and Barnabas Preach to a Governor

Paul and Barnabas stood before the governor, and Paul shared with the governor the same gospel message he preached to others. But soon there was trouble. When Paul tried to tell Sergius Paulus about Jesus, a man named Elymas (EL-uh-muhs) tried to stop him.

Ask “What does Acts 13:6–8 tell us about Elymas? Why would he not want the governor to hear Paul’s message?” (Encourage student discussion after each question.)

Elymas (also known as Bar-Jesus) had a comfortable job with the governor. Elymas claimed to predict happenings and explain supernatural events. Because of this, he was valuable to the governor. He was a false prophet who received his power through sorcery.

Ask: “Who do you think was the source of Elymas’ power? Why do you think so?” (Allow discussion.)

Satan knew if the governor became a believer in Jesus, it could have a powerful effect on others living in Cyprus. People would quit worshipping idols and false gods. Satan always tries to keep people blind to the truth of Jesus.

Elymas had a lot at stake also. He knew Paul’s message could jeopardize his job and his power in the governor’s court. The people would start trusting God, rather than magic, to guide their lives. If the governor became a Christian, Elymas would lose his job and his popularity with the people. Elymas was determined to keep this from happening and did everything he could to distract the governor.

God Proves His Power

Paul soon realized that Elymas was trying to interfere. (Ask a student to read Acts 13:9–11 to see how Paul responded to Elymas.) Because Paul was full of the Holy Spirit, he was able to stop Elymas. Neither Elymas nor Satan could fight against God’s power. Paul told Elymas that God would punish him for his deceit and tricks; then Elymas was blinded. God proved His power is greater than Satan’s.

Then something really great happened. (Ask a student to read Acts 13:12.) The governor saw God’s power at work when Paul spoke, believed Paul’s message and was saved!

(Instruct the students to read the memory verse together.) Though Satan used Elymas to hinder God’s work, God proved no power is greater than His.

Satan is still at work today, trying to keep people from hearing and believing the gospel. He convinces people to put their trust in horoscopes and fortune-tellers rather than trusting Him to guide their lives. He will also go to any length to discourage Christians from telling others about Jesus. We need to remember God’s power is greater than any other power or attack Satan can make on us. Through the blood of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can witness for Jesus with courage and come away victorious.

Accepting God’s Word

Satan’s power is real, but God’s power is a greater reality. When Jesus was crucified for our sins, Satan thought he had won. But God is omnipotent, which means he has all–power. Jesus defeated Satan and came back to life.

Jesus died for us because He loves us and wanted to offer forgiveness for our sins. Now our sins can be forgiven, but we must choose to accept Jesus as Saviour. Jesus died for us. Now we must do our part.

Jola Fonyi Prayer

Lord Jesus, today you sit at the right hand of God making intercession for your children. Thank You for allowing me to approach you with a request for the Jola Fonyi.

Mark tells us in his gospel about the time some friends brought a paralyzed man to You for healing. The house in which you were speaking was filled with a large crowd, preventing them from getting to You. So they opened up the roof of the house and lowered the man into Your presence. When You saw their faith, You forgave the man's sins and said to him, "Get up, take your mat and walk" (Mark 2:6).

May men of faith enter the villages and towns of the Jola Fonyi, identifying individuals who need forgiveness for sin and physical healing. In believing prayer, may they lift them into Your presence. In response to their faith, may their need be met for Your glory and the good of the Jola Fonyi. Amen.

Remember: PAUL AND THE SORCERER

Memory verse: 1 John 4:4
"The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world."

1. Sorcerers are empowered by Satan.
2. Today Satan seeks to hinder the advance of the gospel.
3. Satan has power, but God's power is greater. In the Name of Jesus, I will boldly proclaim the good news of salvation.

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Study 5 | Eternity— Apostle Paul | africaatts.org/go-teach

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