Teaching the Divisions of the Bible: Church History | Sunday School Solutions
by Aubrey Kyle
You may be familiar with the idea of random acts of kindness—small actions that show kindness to others. These actions are called “acts.” The book of Acts, the only book in the Church History division of the Bible, describes the acts of Jesus’ apostles through the Holy Spirit. These acts resulted in the beginning of God’s Church.
Have you thought about teaching this division to the children in your Sunday school class?
The New Testament begins with Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the Gospels division. The next book is Acts in the Church History division. To introduce the book of Acts to the children, have a discussion time where the children talk about random acts of kindness. Use this activity to help them understand that this history book records the acts of Jesus’ apostles as the church started.
Acts was written by Luke, the same Luke who wrote the book Luke. Acts follows the clear plan of Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.”
After Jesus’ ascension, the disciples went back to Jerusalem and waited for the Holy Spirit. On the day of Pentecost, they heard a sound like a rushing wind and saw tongues like fire over each of them. The Holy Spirit had come. Be sure to teach the kid’s in your children’s church that this was a one-time event, and they will be filled with the Holy Spirit the moment they put their trust in Jesus as their Savior.
Now empowered by the Holy Spirit, Peter preached the Gospel to the Jews who had gathered at the sound of this incredible event, and about 3,000 people accepted the Good News of Jesus and were saved! This was only the beginning of the growth of God’s Church.
Be sure to teach the kid’s in your children’s church that this was a one-time event, and they will be filled with the Holy Spirit the moment they put their trust in Jesus as their Savior.
In the first part of Acts, Peter is the main apostle read about. It describes how he and others preached the Gospel to the Jews in Jerusalem with thousands of them believing in Jesus as their Savior! They taught the Jews how Jesus, the One they had crucified, had risen from the dead, and was the promised Savior. This teaching made the religious leaders angry. They ordered the apostles to stop telling the Good News of Jesus, but the apostles refused. They knew only Jesus could save the people from their sins (Acts 4:12) and continued preaching the Gospel message. When they were arrested and put in jail, the apostles were asked why they continued to preach even though it was forbidden. Peter and the other apostles replied, “…We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). They knew they needed to listen to and obey God because what these rulers said went against God. Use this story to show the saved children you teach how people will sometimes be mad at them for obeying God. When this happens, they can know and trust that God will give them the strength needed to obey Him. The apostles trusted God to give them strength, and they continued to preach the Gospel and many thousands of people believed in Jesus as their Savior as a result!
Even with the expansion of God’s Church, several apostles were arrested, beaten, and even killed for sharing the Good News of Jesus. In Acts 7, we read about the death of the first martyr—Stephen. Acts 8 tells us Saul, a very important religious leader, approved of Stephen’s execution. Saul and others did everything they could to hurt Jesus’ followers. Many believers fled from Jerusalem and scattered to Judea and Samaria. However, they still preached God’s Word. This brought the Gospel from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria, just like Jesus told His followers to do in Acts 1:8.
In Acts 9 we read of Saul’s surprise encounter with Jesus and Saul’s conversion to Christianity. After his conversion, Saul’s name is changed to Paul and we see him take the Gospel to the Gentiles in Acts 10, fulfilling Jesus’ command in Acts 1:8 to take the Gospel “to the end of the earth.”
Acts records how Peter, Paul, Barnabas, Silas, and others traveled and shared the Gospel. Included in this book are Paul’s three missionary journeys. Acts ends with Paul being arrested and taken to Rome as a prisoner. He was placed in a house with a guard, but many people were still able to come and hear Paul preach the Good News of Jesus.
When teaching the book of Acts to the children in your Sunday school class, don’t overlook the great opportunity you have to teach about missions and pray for the missionaries your church supports.
The Early Church had obeyed Jesus’ command. They took the Gospel to Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria. When Jews were unwilling to believe, the apostles took the Gospel to the “end of the earth” and preached to the Gentiles. The Church had begun!
Make sure you let the children in your Sunday school know that if they’ve accepted Jesus as their Savior, they are a member of His Church! For children’s lessons about the Early Church and the ministry of Paul, check out the God’s Plan in Action: The Early Church and God’s Church Expands: The Ministry of Paul lesson series available through CEF Press®. For a fun way to help the kids in your Sunday school class memorize the order of the books of the Bible from Genesis through Acts, check out this game!
Make sure you let the children in your Sunday school know that if they’ve accepted Jesus as their Savior, they are a member of His Church!
You will need several 2×6 LEGO® bricks (44 for the books Genesis through Acts), white office labels, scissors, and something to write with. Cut and place strips of the label on one long side of each brick. Write one Bible book on each brick. After your “Bible bricks” are ready, have the children use them to stack a tower in the same order the books are found in the Bible. For even more fun, you can make a second set of “Bible bricks” so the kids can be divided into teams and race each other! Add more bricks as you teach more books of the Bible.
The Gospel division of the Bible told us the Good News about Jesus and taught about His life. The Church History division of the Bible tells us about the history of His Church. The rest of the New Testament teaches how to live in His Church. Join us next time as we learn about Paul’s Letters and how you can teach them to the kid’s in your children’s church!
All verse quotations derived from the ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. ESV Text Edition: 2016. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, is adapted from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. All rights reserved.
If you need lessons for teaching about the early church, you can find them at CEF Press.