Saturday, October 2, 2010

Acts 16 – All for the Gospel

Acts 16

Timothy Joins Paul and Silas

1 Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek. 2 He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek.

[It seems incredible that Paul, who fought so vigorously to keep the legalism of circumcision away from the gentiles, would take a young man named Timothy, the son of a Greek father and Jewish mother, and circumcise him. So is this hypocrisy or something else? Timothy wasn't just a gentile believer; he was a missionary intern who would minister to Jews and Greeks. So while Paul fought to keep the church free of legalism, he was willing for himself and all ministers to endure the loss of individual liberty for the sake of the gospel. You will see this attitude sprinkled all throughout Paul's writings in the New Testament.]

4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily.

[Part of Paul's purpose is to vaccinate all these new churches against the legalism of the Judaizers. So every place he visits, he reads them the Jerusalem Decree that we looked at last week. So with the consent and approval of the elders of Jerusalem, Paul's ministry to Jews and Gentiles increased in numbers and strength of the believers.]

The Macedonian Call

6 Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.

[What they call Asia was the western most region of modern Turkey that contains cities such as Ephesus and Sardis, it's not that gospel would not go to those cities, that was just not God's plan for Paul at that time.]

7 After they had come to Mysia, (NW) they tried to go into Bithynia (NE), but the Spirit did not permit them. 8 So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." 10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.

[The apostles were directed by Jesus when he walked the earth. Now after the ascension they are led by the Spirit. As the leave Galatia they try to go west and the Spirit says not there, so the head north-west. Then when they look to head back to the north-east the Spirit again says no, which takes them all the way to the north-western coastline, where they would have to sail to go any further, so Paul has a vision of a man pleading with him to come to Macedonia. So the follow the vision to Macedinia.]

Lydia Baptized at Philippi

11 Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace (an island in the Aegean Sea), and the next day came to Neapolis (a port city of Macedinia), 12 and from there to Philippi, which is the foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony. And we were staying in that city for some days.

[So they make it to Philippi the main city of Macedonia a military outpost very loyal to Rome. Notice in verse 11 the pronoun changes from "they" to "we", many believe that means Luke had joined Paul Silas and Timothy at this point of the journey.]

13 And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there. 14 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.

[A city with 10 Jewish families would usually have a synagogue, if there was less than that, they would just have a designated place of prayer. Our missionaries go there and talk to the woman, which probably means there were few if any Jewish men around. A merchant woman from Thyatira, probably very wealthy because purple was an expensive die and very desirable for clothing, hears the Gospel and God open her heart to believe.]

15 And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." So she persuaded us.

[We don't know the make-up of her family but God was sometimes calling entire families to faith in Jesus. Lydia invites the disciples to stay in her home for a while, notice again the pronoun "us" so this would include Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke."]

Paul and Silas Imprisoned

16 Now it happened, as we went to prayer (another Sabbath day), that a certain slave girl
possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. 17 This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, "These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation." 18 And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And he came out that very hour. 19 But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.

[Here is a girl a slave times two, first bound to men by law as a servant, then bound to Satan by a spirit of divination, which allowed here to earn money as a future teller. And she follows them yelling about God and salvation, making it impossible for them to witness and reason in a rational way. The phrase "many days" means with persistence such that she would have continued this forever without stopping.

Paul was grieved by this obstacle so he cast out this demon, frees the girl from Satan, and her behavior immediately changes, such that it is obvious that her career as a fortune teller is over. Now her earthly masters are mad at this loss of income, so they seize Paul and Silas (no mention of Luke and Timothy) and take them to Roman civil court.]

20 And they brought them to the magistrates, and said, "These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; 21 and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe."

[The slave owners play the race card, make up lies about customs, public order, and loyalty to Rome while saying nothing about the demon possessed slave girl.]

22 Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. 23 And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. 24 Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

[Not surprising the local courts, side with the local merchants against the foreigners. Paul and Silas are stripped, beaten with rods, and whipped, then physically hurled into jail, and locked into stocks by the feet, so they can barely move.]

The Philippian Jailer Saved

25 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed.

[How do you worship when you have done everything for the gospel, but your ministry is stopped, your body tortured, and you are publicly humiliated?

  • The Epiphany of worship – Your body and mind have a physiological response to worship in releasing serotonin yielding a sense of peace.

It turns out that God responds to worship too. As they worshipped God causes an earthquake that just opens doors and breaks chains, so all the prisoners are set free.]

27 And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. 28 But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, "Do yourself no harm, for we are all here."

[If you think worship in response to humiliation, torture, and jail, is crazy, imagine staying in jail when you are supernaturally set free. Jailers were personally liable for keeping prisoners, and he would have been executed if they left. But not just Paul and Silas, they ALL stayed! God had a bigger agenda than just physical liberation.]

29 Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" 31 So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.

[Some take these passages about households being saved and use it to justify infant baptism, and proxy baptism like the Mormons practice. This is just God calling whole families to repentance together, there is no evidence that anyone can trust Jesus for you, everyone has to believe for themselves.]

33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34 Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.

[Then same man, who locked them in the stocks of prison, washed and treated their wounds. The apostles baptized the believers, and then they all celebrated with a meal, rejoicing in all the new believers, who trusted in Jesus because Paul and Silas worshipped God even in the worst of circumstances. How stupid does that make people look, who refuse to worship because they don't like the song. Worship is not about getting what you want; it's about receiving from God what we could never earn. Grace]

Paul Refuses to Depart Secretly

35 And when it was day, the magistrates sent the officers, saying, "Let those men go." 36 So the keeper of the prison reported these words to Paul, saying, "The magistrates have sent to let you go. Now therefore depart, and go in peace."

37 But Paul said to them, "They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison. And now do they put us out secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out."

38 And the officers told these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans. 39 Then they came and pleaded with them and brought them out, and asked them to depart from the city. 40 So they went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them and departed.

[After all this it turns out the torture and imprisonment of Paul and Silas was illegal because they were Roman citizens, and were never given a proper hearing. I think Paul made this stand, so that the magistrates would be very hesitant to harass the new converts that they would leave behind or the apostles when they returned. They go back to Lydia's house to encourage the converts before leaving Philippi.]

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