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Lesson Prep

Story Summary

This lesson will be a summary of Paul's journeys. After his conversion, he spent time in Damascus, Jerusalem and Antioch. Then, he set out on what are now called his "missionary journeys." During this time, Paul preached to many Jews and Gentiles and helped establish churches. These journeys set the stage for the letters he would later write to check up on and correct issues that were occurring in the churches he established. Below is a summary of his journeys, adapted from the Rose Book of Bible Charts, Maps & Timelines 

Paul and Barnabus are Commissioned | Acts 13:1-3

The Holy Spirit told the church at Antioch in Syria that Paul and Barnabus were to carry the message of the Gospel to many different places. So they fasted, prayed, laid hands on them and sent them off. This is still a pattern practiced in many churches today as missionaries or ministers are set apart for service.

Paul's First Missionary Journey | Acts 13:4 - 14:28

Paul's first journey was primarily to Cyprus and Turkey. Barnabus and John Mark started the journey with him, but John Mark left them after their first stop. Major highlights of this trip include:

  • They had an opportunity to preach to the proconsul (or governor) of Cyprus. But they encountered a magician who opposed them and tried to turn the governor against them. Paul boldly spoke the truth though, and called him out for the evil he was doing. The magician immediately became blind, and the governor believed!
  • They then traveled to Antioch in Pisidia (in modern day Turkey, not the same Antioch they left from) and had an opportunity to preach in the Synagogue on the Sabbath. Many Jews and Gentiles followed them and asked them to come back the next week to preach again. Almost the whole city came out to hear them that next week and many of them believed! But the devout Jews stirred up persecution against Paul and his companions and drove them out of the city (notice a pattern here?)
  • They moved on to several different cities and preached in the Synagogues there, but kept meeting opposition from some of the Jews in the area. In fact, in one city they actually stoned Paul and drug him out of the city, leaving him for dead. But when the disciples went out to check on him, he got up and went back into the city! 

Paul's Second Missionary Journey | Acts 15:36 - 18:22

Paul wanted to go back and see the various churches with Barnabus they helped establish on their first journey. But this journey began with an argument that split Paul and Barnabus apart. Remember how John Mark left them shortly after they started their first journey? Barnabus wanted to bring John Mark along with them again, but Paul didn't trust him after what happened the first time. They had a sharp disagreement and Barnabus left with John Mark and went back to the island of Cyprus. Paul chose Silas and went north into modern day Turkey, but spent most of his time in Corinth. Major highlights of this trip include:

  • Paul met a young man named Timothy on one of their first stops. His mother was a Jewish believer, but his father was Greek. Timothy was well spoken of by the believers there, so Paul decided to pick him up and put him on his team. Timothy would one day be put in charge of the church at Ephesus.
  • While they were in the region, Paul had a dream that a man from Macedonia (which is north of Greece) stood before him and said: "Come over to Macedonia and help us". Paul took this as a sign from the Holy Spirit, so they dropped their plans and left for Macedonia the next day.
  • On their way to Macedonia, they met a slave girl in Philippi who had an evil spirit in her that was helping her tell the future. She was a source of profit for her owners. Paul cast the demon out and her owners were not happy that their little business was gone! So they incited the town against Paul and Silas and had them beaten and thrown in prison. They miraculously escaped, but we'll save that for the next lesson!
  • Paul preached in many cities in their synagogues. He also preached in Athens to the philosophers there. He spent a lot of time in Corinth (a year and a half). The Jews there tried to convince the Roman proconsul (or governor) named Gallio to arrest him for preaching things contrary to Jewish law, but Gallio refused since it wasn't a matter of Roman law. After this Paul, made his way back to Antioch in Syria.

Paul's Third Missionary Journey | Acts 18:23 - 21:16

Paul's third missionary journey started in Asia Minor again (modern-day Turkey), where Paul traveled around encouraging the various churches in the area. Major highlights of the trip include:

  • Paul spent most of his time on this journey in Ephesus. His first task there was to make sure the people there fully understood the message of the Gospel. They had only heard of John the Baptist's preaching about repentance. Paul helped them understand that John was just pointing towards Jesus and that they needed to believe that Jesus would forgive them of their sins if they would repent.
  • There was a temple to the Greek goddess Artemis in Ephesus. It was one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World and was a major source of activity and commerce in Ephesus. There were many vendors and craftsmen that had businesses dependent on all the people coming to worship at this temple. Well, with Paul talking about Jesus as the one true God, and people believing him, they were worried about a drop in tourism! The whole city began gathering in the amphitheater and almost started a riot. The town clerk had to bring some sanity to the crowd, telling them that if they had a charge to bring against Paul and his followers, they needed to bring it in the court of law, not by mob justice. Another close call! Paul and his men moved on.
  • When they were in Troas, Paul got a little long winded in his sermon, going on well past midnight. A young man named Eutychus was hanging out in the window on the 3rd floor of their meeting room and fell asleep while Paul was preaching. He was sound asleep and fell out of the window to his death! But Paul raised him from the dead! Then they remembered the Lord's Supper together and ate a meal. Paul kept talking until the sun came up and then continued his journeys, eventually going to Jerusalem.

Paul is Imprisoned and Sent to Rome | Acts 21:17 - 28:31

While Paul was in Jerusalem, the Jews finally succeeded in capturing Paul. They began to riot and tried to kill him, but the Roman commander stopped them and had Paul arrested. They carried Paul to Caesarea to keep him in prison (and presumably to keep him safe from the Jews). Paul stayed in prison in Caesarea for about 2 years while Felix, the governor there, was waiting for someone to pay him a bribe to let Paul go.

Eventually, Paul appealed to the fact that he was a Roman citizen and asked to be brought before the Caesar in Rome for a trial. So they took him to Rome on a boat with other prisoners. This journey was a tough one. A vicious storm erupted at sea and they were shipwrecked on an island. While they were on the island, even though Paul was bitten by a poisonous snake, God miraculously allowed him to live. After 3 months on the island waiting for conditions to improve, they finally made their way to Rome.

While in Rome, Paul took the opportunity to preach to many people, even while he was still under guard. His case was never fully settled, but the Romans allowed him to live in his own house under a guard's watch (house arrest, basically). He stayed there for two years preaching and teaching.

What You Will Need

Supplies
Bible map (preferably one that shows Paul's missionary journeys, like the "Rose Book of Bible Charts, Maps & Timelines")

Resource Sheet

Paul's Mission Coloring Sheet

This coloring sheet depicts the disciples commissioning Paul for his missionary journeys

Lesson

1. Warm Up

get your kids talking and engaged

Have you ever been on a vacation? Where did you go? How did you get there?

In the lesson today, we're going to learn about many trips that Paul went on and some very exciting things that happened along the way!

2. Teach the Story

teach a holistic story

This lesson summarizes a large portion of the book of Acts, so it is not really practical to read much of this directly from the Bible or even a storybook Bible. We encourage you to read the story summary above and present as much of it as you would like in a story format to the children.

We highly encourage you to use a Bible map while you are teaching this. Many Bibles have maps of Paul's missionary journeys in the back. Also, we recommend the Rose Book of Bible Charts, Maps & Timelines, which has several large, high quality color maps detailing Paul's journeys. Additionally, you can find maps of Paul's journeys online. Here are some examples:

3. Bible Mastery

give them basic Bible skills

Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud: Acts 13:1-3

4. Comprehension Questions

make sure they understand the story

First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?

  • How did the church at Antioch send Paul and Barnabus on their mission? (by praying, fasting, and laying hands on them)
  • How many journeys did Paul go on? (3 missionary journeys and one journey to Rome as a prisoner)
  • What did Paul do on these journeys? (he preached about Jesus and helped establish churches)
  • Who are some of the people that went on the journeys with Paul? (Barnabus, John Mark, Timothy, Silas)
  • Why did Paul and Barnabus get into an argument? (because John Mark left them on their first journey and Barnabus wanted to bring him along on his second journey)
  • What kept happening all along the way? (many times the Jewish leaders in whatever town they were in would try to create a riot and get them killed or throw into prison)
  • Why were the merchants in Ephesus mad at Paul? (because his preaching was causing people to stop going to Artemis' Temple, and they were losing business)
  • What happened to the young man named Eutychus? (he fell out of a 3rd floor window because he fell asleep while Paul was preaching)
  • What happened when Paul was in Jerusalem? (the Jews had him arrested)
  • Where did the Romans keep Paul for 2 years? (Caeserea)
  • What happened to Paul when he was being transferred to Rome? (he was shipwrecked and bitten by a poisonous snake, but he didn't die)
  • Where did Paul end up living under Roman guard? (Rome)
  • Which part of Paul's journey do you think is the most exciting?

5. Faith Questions

help them apply the story to their lives and open up a conversation about faith and the gospel; close with prayer
  • In this story, we learn that Paul spent most of his life after his conversion to Christianity preaching and establishing churches throughout what is now Turkey and Greece.
  • How do you think churches were established where you live - assuming you don't live in Turkey or Greece?
  • How can you make sure your church grows?

6. Memory Verse

hide God's Word in their heart
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8 (ESV)

Reinforcement Activities

Paul's Journey Map Activity

Heads up! Cut slits ahead of time for younger students

Scripture The prophets and teachers fasted and prayed. They placed their hands on Barnabas and Saul. Then they sent them off. Acts 13:3

Supplies Maps of Paul's journeys (see below), popsicle sticks, person cutouts

  • Glue the person cutout to the top of a posicle stick.
  • Cut slits in the paper on the lines that follow Paul's journey.
  • Place Paul throught the slit.
  • You should be able to move Paul around in the slit to follow where he went on his journey.

Juice Box Boats

Scripture Then a gentle south wind began to blow, they saw their opportunity; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete. Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the Northeaster, swept down from the island. The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along. Acts 27:14-15

Supplies juice boxes, skewers, card stock, tape, decorations for sail, straws, long tubs water

  • Cut card stock into triangle shapes to make sails for the boat.
  • Allow students to decorate the sail.
  • Tape the sail to the top of the skewer.
  • Push the skewer down through the juice box (layed flat, not standing up as to drink.)
  • Use straws to blow the boats aound in the water.

Write Your Testimony

Scripture The prophets and teachers fasted and prayed. They placed their hands on Barnabas and Saul. Then they sent them off. Acts 13:3

Supplies paper, pencils

  • God set Saul and Barnabas apart to go teach others about God.
  • God has a plan for all of us, just like he had a plan for Saul (Paul).
  • Review Saul's testimony. Saul became a believer after hearing from God. Before God spoke to Saul, he hated people who loved God.
  • Write our your testimony.
  • When did you become a believer?
  • How have you changed since you have become a believer?
  • What has God called you to do?

Salt dough Map

Scripture The prophets and teachers fasted and prayed. They placed their hands on Barnabas and Saul. Then they sent them off. Acts 13:3

Supplies salt, flour, water, cardboard pieces, poster paint

  • Make a salt dough map of the places where Paul travelled.
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup water
  • poster paint
  • Mix flour, salt, and water into an icing-like consistency.
  • Begin with the map shape drawn onto a piece of cardboard.
  • Shape the dough to cover the map. Use thicker dough to show mountains and thinner to show valleys.
  • Stick toothpicks into the places where Paul traveled.
  • When dry, paint and label the towns.

Origami Boats

Scripture Then a gentle south wind began to blow, they saw their opportunity; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete. Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the Northeaster, swept down from the island. The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along. Acts 27:14-15

Supplies paper, long tub of water, straws

  • Make origami boats.
  • Use straws to race boats in the water.
  • See who can get "shipwrecked" to the other side of the tub of water first.

Passport Stamps

Scripture Acts 13-28

Supplies sample of real passport book, homemade passport books, various stamps and ink

  • Make homemade passport books by cutting paper and stapling them together.
  • Include stamps in the students' books as you read through the stories of Paul.
  • Include stamps for:
  • Start with Antioch
  • Lystra- (where Paul was stoned and met Timothy)
  • Phillipi in Macedonia (Paul and silas in prison)
  • Greece (Eutycus fell from window)
  • Jerusalem (where arrested)
  • Malta (where shipwrecked)
  • Rome
  • There are many other places Paul traveled to and spoke. Skim through your Bible in Acts 13-28 and add stamps.
  • It would also be good to include the places that Paul later wrote letters to the churches, so the names are familiar to the students.

Travel Brochure

Scripture Acts 27:39-28:10

Supplies sample travel brochures, paper, markers or crayons

  • Make a travel brochure for Paul's trip to Rome.
  • Can include:
  • pictures of the storm
  • shipwreck
  • island of Malta
  • natives on the island of Malta
  • snake

Laying on of Hands Lesson

Scripture The prophets and teachers fasted and prayed. They placed their hands on Barnabas and Saul. Then they sent them off Acts 13:3

  • Explain that laying hands on someone is a symbol of putting your focus of prayer to God on that person.
  • Invite someone from your church that is going on a mission trip, in need of physical healing or your pastor and ask the students to lay hands on them and pray together.

Fasting Lesson

Scripture The prophets and teachers fasted and prayed. They placed their hands on Barnabas and Saul. Then they sent them off. Acts 13:3

  • Fasting is giving up something on purpose for a period of time to remind yourself to focus on God.
  • Consider skipping snack time and encourage the students to spend time praying.
  • Discuss other ways you can fast other than food. (give up watching tv or video games for a period of time, give up sweets)

Travel Scrapbook

Heads up! This activity could be continued over the next couple of weeks and include the upcoming stories of Paul

Scripture Barnabas and Saul were sent on their way by the Holy Spirit...Acts 13:4a

Supplies Paper, folded and stapled together to make a book, crayons or markers

  • Encourage the students to draw pictures to make a scrapbook of Paul's journey.
  • Make a scrapbook for each student by folding several pieces of paper in half and stapling together to make a book.
  • Or, assign pages to different students and have them make a class scrapbook.
  • Scrapbook page ideas include:
  • Leaders in Antioch laying hands on Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:3)
  • A picture of Paul and Barnabas waving goodbye. (Acts 1:2)
  • A boat out to sea (Acts 13:4)
  • Paul and Barnabas peaching in the synagogue (Acts 13:5)
  • Paul getting stoned and drug out of the city (Acts 14:19)
  • Paul meeting Timothy (Acts 16:1-2)
  • Paul and Silas in prison (see next lesson- Acts 16:16-24)
  • Eutychus falling out of the window (Acts 20:7-12)
  • Paul is arrested in Jesusalem (Acts 21:33)
  • Paul is sent to Rome as a prisoner (Acts 27:1-5)
  • Paul is shipwrecked (Acts 27:39-44)
  • Snakebite (Acts 28:1-6)
  • Paul writing letter to the churches.

Snakes!

Scripture Paul gathered some sticks and put them on the fire. A poisonous snake was driven out by the heat. It fastened itself on Paul’s hand. The people of the island saw the snake hanging from his hand. They said to each other, “This man must be a murderer. He escaped from the sea. But Justice won’t let him live.” Justice was the name of a goddess. Paul shook the snake off into the fire. He was not harmed. Acts 28:3-5

Supplies straws with wrappers, cup of water

  • Break the top of the paper off of the straw.
  • Slide the paper off of the straw, bunching it together as tightly as you can.
  • Put the straw in a cup of water.
  • Plug one end of the straw with your fingers, so that water stays in the straw.
  • Put a few drops of water onto the end of the bunched up straw paper.
  • Watch the paper grow like a snake!