November 13, 2022 – Acts 11:19 – 12:25
Lesson Date: November 13, 2022
Focal Scripture Passage: Acts 11:19 – 12:25
AIM: To lead students to identify examples of God’s limitless power in the experiences of the early church, and to express to God their trust in His limitless power to work in their lives.
Before class: Read the notes on Acts 11:19 – 12:25 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Write the word “Limits” on the marker board or chalkboard. Enlist some volunteers to look up the following scripture verses and be prepared to read them to the class when called upon: Luke 1:37; Luke 18:27; Ephesians 3:20.
INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Direct the students’ attention to the word “Limits” written on the board. Tell them we live a world of limits. Ask them to name some things in life that have limits. Here are some things they might name:
- We have a limited lifespan; we can’t live forever in our fleshly bodies.
- There are only 24 hours in each day; we can’t add more hours to our day.
- We have a limited amount of strength and energy; we can’t go on indefinitely without rest and nourishment.
- There is a limited amount of money in our bank accounts; it costs dearly to spend more than we have.
- Our credit cards have limits; there are penalties for exceeding those limits.
- There is a limited amount of gasoline in our cars; if we start driving and never fill up, we will eventually run out of gas.
- We cannot go wherever we please; for example, we can’t walk into the Oval Office of the White House without an invitation and security check.
- Sometimes there are cultural limits that hinder us from interacting with certain people.
Stress the fact that this world is full of limits. As long as we live in these mortal bodies, we are subject to limits.
Tell the class the title of today’s lesson is No Limits. As we study Acts 11 and 12, we will discover examples of God’s limitless power in the experiences of the early church.
HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):
- Remind the class that we are studying the book of Acts, which describes the growth of the early church in the years following Christ’s earthly ministry
- Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (Christ for all nations; Gentiles received Jesus by faith and were saved just like the Jews).
- Remind the students that it was a major hurdle for Jewish believers to accept that the hated Gentiles could be saved by grace, just like them.
- Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verse (Rom. 1:16).
- No Limits in Church.
- Read Acts 11:19.
- Ask: “Why were some of the believers scattered abroad?” (because of the persecution that arose after Stephen was martyred; Acts 8:1-4).
- Explain that some of these believers traveled as far as Phoenicia (the coastal region between Galilee and Syria), Cyprus, and Antioch (locate these places on the Map).
- Ask: “To whom did these believers preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ?” (only to the Jews).
- Read Acts 11:20-21.
- Ask: “Who did some of these scattered believers preach to?” (the Grecians: Gentiles).
- Ask: “What happened?” (a great number of Gentiles in Antioch believed and were saved).
- Ask: “Prior to this time, did Jews and Gentiles worship together?” (never).
- Explain the following:
- Even if Gentiles wanted to worship the God of the Jews at the Temple, there was a wall separating them.
- Gentiles could not go past that wall, upon penalty of death!
- Now, however, there were both Jews and Gentiles in the church at Antioch.
- Speaking of this, Ephesians 2:14 says, “For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us.”
- Read Acts 11:22-25.
- Tell the class the Jerusalem church sent Barnabas to Antioch to see what was happening.
- Ask: “According to verse 23, what was his reaction?” (he was glad).
- Ask: “According to verse 24, what happened when Barnabas preached in Antioch?” (many more people were saved).
- Tell the students that Barnabas went to Tarsus (Acts 9:30) to find Saul (locate Tarsus on the Map).
- Ask a volunteer to read Acts 11:26.
- Ask: “What did Barnabas and Saul do in Antioch?” (taught the church for a year).
- Ask: “What were the believers in Antioch called?” (Christians).
- Stress the fact that these new believers, some of whom were saved Jews and others of whom were saved Gentiles, now had one new name; they were no longer merely Jews or Gentiles, they were Christians.
- Summarize: God demonstrated His limitless power by bringing saved Jews and saved Gentiles together in His church and giving them a new name: Christians.
- No Limits in Prison.
- Read Acts 12:1-4.
- Explain the following:
- King Herod joined in the persecution of the church.
- He killed the Apostle James, the brother of John.
- Seeing that this pleased the Jews, Herod arrested Peter and put him in prison.
- Peter was chained and guarded by 16 soldiers.
- Herod planned to bring Peter forth to the Jews after Passover and execute him.
- Ask a volunteer to read Acts 12:5.
- Ask: “What did the church do while Peter was in prison?” (prayed for him “without ceasing”).
- Read Acts 12:6-10.
- Ask: “What happened the night before Herod was going to bring Peter out and execute him?” (God miraculously delivered Peter from prison).
- Explain the following:
- An angel came to Peter in the prison.
- Peter’s chains miraculously fell off.
- The guards miraculously did not wake up.
- The prison doors miraculously opened before Peter and the angel.
- Peter wasn’t sure if this was really happening or if it was a dream.
- Ask a volunteer to read Acts 12:11.
- Ask: “What did Peter realize?” (that the Lord had delivered him from certain death at the hands of Herod and the bloodthirsty Jews).
- Summarize: God demonstrated His limitless power by miraculously freeing Peter from chains, guards, locked doors, and bloodthirsty men.
- No Limits in Prayer.
- Ask a volunteer to read Acts 12:12.
- Ask: “Where did Peter go?” (to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark).
- Ask: “What were the people gathered there doing?” (praying for Peter’s release).
- Read Acts 12:13-16.
- Ask: “What happened when Rhoda reported that Peter was at the door?” (the others didn’t believe her).
- Ask: “How did they react when they saw that Peter was free?” (they were astonished).
- Remind the students that these believers were praying for Peter to be freed from prison, but they were shocked when God actually freed him.
- Ask: “Are we ever shocked when God answers our prayers?” (yes).
- Ask a volunteer to read Acts 12:17-19.
- Ask: “According to verse 17, what did Peter tell the believers?” (how the Lord miraculously delivered him from prison).
- Ask: “What happened the next morning?” (the soldiers were deeply troubled about what happened to Peter; Herod executed the soldiers for failing at their task; Herod left Jerusalem and went to Caesarea).
- Summarize: God demonstrated His limitless power by answering the prayers of the believers and sparing Peter’s life.
- No Limits in Worship.
- Read Acts 12:20-22.
- Tell the class that King Herod, dressed in his royal robes and seated upon his throne, made a speech to the people of Tyre and Sidon, who had come to try to make peace with him.
- Ask: “What did the people say when Herod spoke to them?” (they praised him as a god).
- Remind the students that God clearly said in the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3).
- Ask: “Are we supposed to worship anything or anyone instead of Almighty God?” (no).
- Ask: “What should Herod have done when the people praised him as a god?” (stopped them; see Acts 14:11-18).
- Ask: “Did Herod stop the people from worshipping him?” (no).
- Ask a volunteer to read Acts 12:23-25.
- Ask: “What happened to Herod?” (God killed him).
- Ask: “What happened after that?” (the Word of God grew, the church multiplied, and Barnabas, Saul, and John Mark went to Antioch).
- Summarize: God demonstrated His limitless power by killing Herod when he accepted the idolatrous worship and praise of the people.
PERSONAL APPLICATION: Remind the students that the title of today’s lesson is No Limits. Review the lesson by asking the following questions:
- “How was God’s limitless power demonstrated in the early church?” (He brought together two factions who previously hated each other, made them into one new body, and gave them a new name: Christians).
- “How was God’s limitless power demonstrated when Peter was in prison?” (He miraculously freed Peter from chains, guards, and locked doors).
- “How was God’s limitless power demonstrated in the prayers of the early church?” (He answered their prayers and spared Peter’s life).
- “How was God’s limitless power demonstrated when Herod accepted the idolatrous praise of the people?” (He immediately killed Herod).
Ask the previously enlisted volunteers to read the following scripture verses: Luke 1:37; Luke 18:27; Ephesians 3:20.
Ask: “What do those verses tell us about God’s power?” (it is limitless).
Stress the fact that nothing is impossible for God, and He can do far more than we can even ask or think. Ask: “How should we respond to God’s limitless power; what should His limitless power cause us to do?” (trust Him with our needs).
Encourage the students to express to God their trust in His limitless power to work in their lives. Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes and tell that to God right now. Allow a moment for silent prayer, then voice a closing prayer.
CONCLUSION: Encourage everyone to trust God’s limitless power to answer their prayers and meet their needs this week. Tell them to expect to receive answers to their prayers.
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