Sunday, August 23, 2020

Acts Study | Session 28 | 15:32-16:31

Today in our study, we see that the council in Jerusalem thought it good that Judas and Silas be sent along with Paul and Barnabas back to Antioch to verify everything that had taken place, a disagreement between Paul and Barnabas in regards to John Mark, the beginning of the second missionary journey, the circumcision of Timothy, the conversion of Lydia in Philippi, the casting out of a demon, Paul and Barnabas' imprisonment and miraculous deliverance, and salvation of the Philippian jailer.

VERSE 32: And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them. Notice being prophets also. This is clearly comparing them to the last prophet spoken of in v.15; i.e., Amos. Remember that these two were sent along with Paul and Barnabas to confirm everything that was determined in the counsel. Also, it is obvious that there were prophets at this time, at least in this early stage of the church, However, I believe that this office, as well as that of the apostle, are no longer. Some would even argue that while the office themselves are closed, their functions are fulfilled in the missionary and pastor. 

VERSES 33-34: And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles. (34)  Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still. Bear in mind that their entire function was to simply bear witness to the decision that had been made by the Jerusalem Council. Notice that Silas decided to stay. It would seem that this might be because he had already established a relationship with Paul which would be the subject of the contention in the next verses between him and Barnabas. 

VERSES 35-36: Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also. (36)  And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. Paul now proposes that they go back and visit all of the churches established on their first trip to see how they do

VERSES 37-41: And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. (38)  But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. (39)  And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; (40)  And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. (41)  And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches. For some undisclosed reason, Paul was determined not to take John Mark. Albert Barnes comments that John Mark was the son of a sister of Barnabas. Whatever the reason, they did later reconcile (2Tim 4:11). 

Some will, erroneously, in my opinion, say that the fact that Barnabas was never heard from again is proof that he was in the wrong. That is ludicrous in my opinion. It is very difficult and dangerous to read into the Scripture. These same ones will say that they should have chosen Paul instead of Matthias to replace Judas with the same reasonings. Well, using that same reasoning, the same could be said of Andrew, Philip, and Bartholemew. 

I believe in the end, Silas was a good match for Paul for the period. Remember, at this unique time in history, there were both Jews and Gentiles, both believing, and both serving the Lord together, but under two different programs. herefore, having Silas with him was a good match. 

This is another key to interpreting Paul's writings in that he is addressing both of these people at times and that is the challenge that I have found, especially in reading books like Ephesians and Corinthians. You have got to pay attention to the audience, and many times that comes down to just being aware of the pronouns. 

Chapter 16

This chapter begins to cover Paul's second missionary journey.

VERSES 1-2: Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: (2)  Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. Paul and Silas now come to Derbe which was the last place that Paul had visited on his last missionary journey (Acts 14:20-21). As I stated earlier, that may have been when Timothy first came under his teaching (1Timothy 1:2).

VERSE 3: Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek. Timothy's mother was a Jewess and his father was a Greek. It must be noted that if Timothy had been a Gentile, this would not have been an issue since Gentiles frequented the synagogues, but he was a Jew by his mother, therefore it was expected that he be circumcised. 

This was also another indicator that Paul did desire a ministry among his brethren even though most of the Jews had rejected him (Acts 13:46; Rom 1:16). 

VERSES 4-5: And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. (5)  And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily. We see hear that as they traveled they shared the decision of the Jerusalem Council with the assemblies which were still a mix of Kingdom and Grace believers. Remember this was a unique period in history that passed with the death of the Twelve. 

VERSES 6-10: Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, (7)  After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. (8)  And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. (9)  And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. (10)  And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. Notice that they were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia. Asia referred to here would have been the province of Asia which included Ephesus, Smyrna, Thyatira, etc. Instead, the Spirit directed them toward Europe through what is commonly referred to as the Macedonian Call. The Gospel would later be preached there, but it apparently was not the will of God for Paul and Silas at this time. Instead, the Holy Spirit pushes them into the West. This journey would take them Troas, Phillipi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens to Corinth.

VERSES 11-13: Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; (12)  And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days. (13)  And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. Historically, Philippi was a Roman outpost. 

On the sabbath, they go down to the riverside where prayers were being made by a group of women, most likely Jewish, but the text doesn't say. Some will point out that they were by the river because there were not enough men there for a synagogue which required ten. 

VERSE 14: And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. As Paul began to speak, a lady from Thyatira named Lydia took notice. 

VERSE 15: And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us. What I see is that in Paul's early ministry, baptism still played an important role because it was expected, but as he gains further revelation, he moves away from its importance. 

Understand that at this point Paul had not written any of his epistles. The first ones were not written until around 50 AD to 53 AD. Interestingly, those were probably Thessalonians and Galatians. Thessalonians was about the confusion around the Rapture and Second Coming and Galatians was about a false gospel. 

There is no doubt that Paul is having new revelations as he goes and pens them in his epistles (2Cor 12:1; 2Cor 12:7). It is hard to conclude that he received everything he needed to know at once, i.e., he most likely did not understand the totality of the postponement of the Kingdom. I believe that is why who still moved in both gospels. 

Either way, she believed first and then was baptized. Many say that she was the first convert in Europe. I believe that Lydia had apparently believed both the Kingdom and Grace gospels simply by the fact that she was already praying when Paul come upon her. But again, there simply is not enough text here to reach a conclusion. 

VERSES 16-18: And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: (17)  The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. (18)  And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. (19) And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, Notice how Luke inserts himself into the story in v.16 and v.17. 

This young lady apparently brought income to her masters by pretending to tell the future. I say this because the Devil does not know the future because he is not omniscient. There is no doubt that he knows more than we do. All power forever and always comes from one of two sources. 

This girl was demon-possessed. Interesting that what she was saying seems to be true, but it was getting in their way of ministry; an impediment if you will. Either way, the Devil was using her. 

On another note, Paul never gave us instructions on casting out demons in his epistles. I have seen whole ministries destroyed over an obsession with this. We are called to the ministry of reconciliation, not one of casting out demons. 

Paul realized this was demonic and commanded the evil spirit to come out of her. 

VERSES 20-22: And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, (21)  And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. (22)  And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. This is obviously a Gentile city under Roman authority. 

VERSES 23-24: And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: (24)  Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. This is just one of many things that Paul would suffer in his attempt to preach the gospel (2Cor 11:16-30). And notice how Paul and Silas responded in the next verses. 

VERSE 25: And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. It takes a lot of trust and courage to sing in dispair. Music is very important in Judaism and Christianity as an act of worship. 

VERSE 26: And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. This would also be the first of many in which the Lord will miraculously deliver Paul. This was obviously a supernatural event for what earthquake also makes one's bands fall off. I really do struggle with those who constantly try to make the supernatural natural. 

VERSES 27-29: And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. (28)  But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. (29)  Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, Again we see the threat of life for life in regards to a Roman afraid of losing his own life for losing a prisoner. Rome was pretty tough in this area. Peter's guards were not so fortunate in chapter 12 when they were put to death upon his escape (Acts 12:18-19). 

VERSE 30: And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? The pronoun "I" says everything here. Unlike the Kingdom Gospel which was for the nation, the Grace Gospel is for the individual (Acts 2:37). 

VERSE 31: And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. Notice also that Paul's response was nothing like Peter's (Acts 2:38). It is not a contradiction, but a different program. God changes not, but his methods of dealing with man have. There is no way you can convince me that these are not two different gospels. Thy house does not mean that his whole house would be saved, but that they could be saved. 

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