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Acts: Chapter 16

Categories: ActsTags: 4.9 min read
Paul began his second missionary journey at the end of Acts 15 and was now keen to visit the other believers that he had last seen some five years before.Acts 16:1 – 5 Paul and Silas visit Derbe and Lystra where they meet with a disciple called Timothy. It was to this disciple that Paul afterwards addressed the two epistles which bear his name. Timothy had clearly been trained in the knowledge of the Jewish scriptures as well as being baptised as a Christian. His mother was a Jew and his father was a Greek so his religious upbringing had been through his mother. Under their religious laws Jews were not supposed to marry Gentiles (non-Jews) but it is probable that the law was not followed strictly in this area. Although Timothy was quite young Paul recognised that he was a man who would be a great help in preaching and wanted to take him on this second journey. Timothy had not been circumcised, probably because his father was Greek, and Paul recognised that this could cause problems with the Jews. In order to make sure that Timothy was accepted as a preacher by the Jewish Christians he circumcised Timothy who then joined Paul on his missionary journey.

Acts 16:6 – 10 Paul and his companions preached throughout Phrygia (the largest province in Asia Minor) and the region of Galatia which was east of Phrygia. Many Jews had settled in these areas alongside Gentiles (non-Jews). Paul’s vision shows that he was guided by the Spirit of God as to where he should preach. The appearance of a man who was known to be of Macedonia, probably by his dress and language, was a call for help in what was essentially quite a pagan land with a range of different beliefs.

Acts 16:11 – 15 Philippi was a Roman colony which means it was a city or province of the Roman Empire. The Jews were accustomed to building their synagogues and places for prayer near water, for the convenience of the numerous washings before and during their religious services. . Places for prayer were erected by the Jews where they were forbidden, by the magistrate, to erect a synagogue. These places of prayer were simple enclosures made of stones in a grove or under a tree near a river, wherever there would be a convenient place for worship.
Lydia was a woman of some importance in the area. She was a seller of purple cloth. Purple was a most valuable colour, obtained usually from shellfish. It was chiefly worn by princes and by the rich, and dealing in it could be very profitable. Lydia listened and responded to Paul’s preaching by becoming baptised along with those in her household. She was keen to help by offering hospitality to Paul and his companions.

Acts 16:16 – 21 In the Roman colony of Philippi Caesar was viewed as a god so Paul’s teachings were against all that the Romans believed. Christians had been banned from Rome so the people in this area would be against Christian teaching. In addition they believed in fortune telling and soothsaying (foretelling the future). Slaves were often used to make money for their Roman masters and a slave girl was being used as a soothsayer in Philippi. However, she recognised that Paul was preaching the truth about the one God and tried to tell everyone. When Paul stopped the slave girl from soothsaying then her owners were very angry and started an insurrection.

Acts 16:22 – 24 Because of the uproar of the crowd Paul and Silas were blamed for being the cause of it. Under Roman law they were beaten and put in prison for teaching things that were against the Roman religion. The Romans would allow foreigners to worship their own gods, but not unless it were done secretly, so that the worship of foreign gods would not interfere with the allowed worship of the Romans so that dissension and controversy might be avoided. Neither was it lawful among the Romans to recommend a new religion to the citizens, contrary to what was confirmed and established by the public authority.

Acts 16:25 – 28 Paul and Silas had an unshakeable belief in the power of God and they knew that by singing his praises and praying he would answer them in their suffering. God did answer their prayers through the earthquake that caused the prison to be shaken, the doors to open and the prisoner’s chains to come loose. The jailor, who was responsible for all the prisoners, thought that all the prisoners would have escaped. It was customary for a Roman guard to commit suicide if he allowed prisoners to escape but Paul showed him that the power of the one true God had kept everyone safe.

Acts 16:29 – 34 The jailor recognised the power of the God in the earthquake and was keen to learn more about the saving name of Jesus. He took Paul and Silas to his home and the whole family listened to the message of salvation. Then he and his family were baptised because they believed in God and the teachings of Jesus.

Acts 16:35 – 40 In the morning the jailor was ordered to release Paul and Silas. No doubt the local magistrates wanted Paul and Silas to leave the area quickly so that there would be no more disturbances in the city. However, Paul complains about the way they have been treated. He says that they have been beaten publicly, and without trial, contrary to the Roman laws. Although they were born Jews, they were also Roman citizens, and had a right to the privileges of citizenship. Paul knew that there was still preaching to be done in the surrounding area and that they needed to have the freedom to do it as they continued on their journey. Lydia and the other believers in the city cared for Paul and Silas and were encouraged by their preaching until they decided to continue on the journey.

ADDITIONAL READING

FURTHER THOUGHTS

Mark 8

Categories: Mark|Tags: |

Read Online: AV NIV The Bible reading group continues to be enjoyable and thought provoking. The setting for chapter 8

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