Setting

The Jerusalem Council, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, reached a decision of great significance for the missionary work of the church—Gentile converts were not required to be circumcised or obey the laws of Moses for salvation. The church in Jerusalem then wrote a letter to all the churches, and sent Paul and Barnabas, along with Judas and Silas, to return to Antioch with the Council’s decision. This resolution clearly paved the way for further, unrestrained missionary work among the Gentiles.
Having ministered in Antioch for some time, Paul intended to return to Asia Minor to visit the churches that had been established in the first missionary journey. But because of a sharp disagreement with Barnabas over Mark, Paul and Barnabas went separate ways. Paul took Silas and began his second missionary journey (A.D. 49-52), which eventually led to the first evangelistic efforts in Macedonia and Greece.

Key Verse

(16:9-10)

Did You Know...?

1. Timothy (16:1): “Timothy” is a Greek name that means “one who fears God.” As the son of a Greek, Timothy was uncircumcised and regarded as a Greek rather than a Jew. However, he had been taught the Scriptures from childhood (2Tim 3:15 ) by his pious mother and grandmother (2Tim 1:5).” [ref]
2. Macedonia (Greece) (16:9) “in New Testament times, was a Roman province lying north of Greece. It was governed by a propraetor with the title of proconsul.” [ref]
3. “We” (16:10): Luke, the narrator, joined Paul’s company at this point. This is why the use of “they” in the narrative, as seen in the preceding verses, has now become “we.”
4. Philippi (16:12): “the capital of the province of Macedonia. It stood near the head of the Sea, about 8 miles north-west of Kavalla. It is now a ruined village, called Philibedjik. Philip of Macedonia fortified the old Thracian town of Crenides, and called it after his own name Philippi (B.C. 359-336). In the time of the Emperor Augustus this city became a Roman colony, i.e., a military settlement of Roman soldiers, there planted for the purpose of controlling the district recently conquered. It was a ‘miniature Rome,’ under the municipal law of Rome, and governed by military officers, called duumviri, who were appointed directly from Rome.” [ref]
5. Riverside (16:13): “In Jewish law, a congregation was made up of ten men. Wherever there were ten male heads of households who could be in regular attendance, a synagogue was to be formed… Failing this, a place of prayer (proseuche) under the open sky and near a river or the sea was to be arranged for.” [ref]
6. Seller of purple (16:14): seller of cloth dyed with purple
7. Thyatira (16:14): “a city of Asia Minor, on the borders of Lydia and Mysia. Its modern name is Ak-hissar… Here was one of the seven churches (Revelation 1:11; 2:18-28)… It was and still is famous for its dyeing. Among the ruins, inscriptions have been found relating to the guild of dyers in that city in ancient times.” [ref]

Outline

  • Paul’s Intention
    (15:36)
  • Paul and Barnabas Parted from Each Other
    (15:37-39)
  • Pastoral Visit to the Churches in Syria, Cilicia, and Lycaonia
    (15:40-16:5)
  • The Macedonian Call
    (16:6-10)
  • Lydia’s Conversion
    (16:11-15)

Segment Analysis

  • 15:36-41

    1.

    What prompted Paul to embark on his second missionary journey?

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    He wanted to visit the churches that had been established during their first missionary journey to see how the brethren were doing.

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  • 2.

    Why did Paul and Barnabas split up?

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    Barnabas was determined to take Mark with them, but Paul insisted otherwise because Mark had deserted them during the first missionary journey. The contention between them became so sharp that they departed from one another (15:37-39).

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  • 3.

    Compare Paul’s views about Mark here with his later comment in 2Tim 4:11. What lesson do you think Paul learned from this incident?

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    Paul gave up on Mark after Mark’s first failure, but Barnabas was willing to give Mark another chance. Had it not been for Barnabas’ insistence and patience, Mark might never have become a useful worker for God. This story teaches us that we should give younger workers a second chance even when they do not perform well initially, especially when they show a desire to improve themselves. Since we are all fellow workers for the Lord, we have no right to deny someone else a second chance if they are willing to try again. We need to bear with one another’s shortcomings just as the Lord bears with ours. Mark became a useful worker in the ministry because of Barnabas’ loving help. We, likewise, can train useful future workers in the church if we bring them up diligently and patiently.

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  • 16:1-5

    4.

    Who joined Paul at Lystra?

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    Timothy (16:1)

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  • 5.

    Why did Paul circumcise Timothy? Was he not contradicting with the resolution of the Jerusalem council?

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    The resolution of the Jerusalem council was that Gentile converts were not required to be circumcised or follow the customs of Moses to be saved. Paul did not go against this resolution because he did not circumcise Timothy for the sake of Timothy’s salvation. Instead, he did it in order to minimize the resistance from the Jews in that region and remove an unnecessary hindrance to the work of the gospel.

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  • 6a.

    Paul and his fellow workers delivered the decrees from the Jerusalem council to all the churches. What effect did this have on the churches?

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    The churches were strengthened in the faith and increased in number daily.

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  • 6b.

    Why do you think the delivery of the decrees had such an effect?

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    The decrees of the Jerusalem council upheld a fundamental message of the gospel, that God gives His gift of salvation to Gentiles and Jews alike. Because the church obeyed God’s will and freely embraced Gentile converts into the church, it greatly encouraged the believers in the church as well as opened wide the door of the gospel to the Gentiles. This led to the strengthening of the brethren’s faith and the rapid increase of believers.

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  • 6c.

    What can the church today learn from this?

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    Whether the church obeys and upholds the correct teachings has a direct effect on the growth of the church. If human traditions take priority over God’s word, they will hinder the work of God; and if false teachings are not corrected right away, it may even lead to the decline and division of the church. But if the church stands united in the truth and teaches the believers to obey sound doctrine, God will work with the church and make it grow.

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  • 16:6-10

    7.

    What does Paul’s experience, as recorded in this paragraph, teach us in our ministry?

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    When we do the work of the Lord, the Lord’s will always comes first, because it is His work, not ours. While we may make plans on how to carry out a work, it is even more important to heed the guidance of the Holy Spirit. God often shows us His plans in various ways, and we should be ready to submit to His guidance anytime, even if it is contrary to our original plans. Because Paul obeyed the guidance of the Holy Spirit, he was able to bring the gospel to Europe for the first time—a result that surpassed his expectations. We can likewise do greater things than what we envisioned if we hear and trust the Lord’s leading.

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  • 16:11-15

    8.

    In Philippi, where did Paul go to preach on the Sabbath day? What does this tell you about the city of Philippi?

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    He went out of the city to the riverside to preach because there was no synagogue in that city. The proselytes gathered by the riverside on Sabbath days to pray. This is an indication that the Jewish population in Philippi was quite small.

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  • 9a.

    How did the Lord lead Lydia to conversion?

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    He opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul (14).

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  • 9b.

    What does this tell us about an important factor in a person’s conversion?

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    Sheer eloquence or human effort cannot win souls. The Lord must work with us to touch people’s hearts in order for those who listen to the gospel message to believe and accept it.

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  • 10.

    What good examples can we see in Lydia?

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    1. She was a devout woman who kept the Sabbath and devoted herself to prayer.
    2. She had a positive influence on her whole household. That is why she was able to lead her whole family to believe in the Lord and be baptized.
    3. She immediately put her faith into practice by receiving the traveling missionaries into her house. Later, her home also became a gathering place for the believers (cf. 40).

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