Acts 16:1-12

Sunday Morning Bible Study

April 26, 1998

Introduction

Paul and Barnabas were kind of at a peak in their ministry, having come back from the council in Jerusalem, with their message of grace being vindicated by the church.

But when they decided to go visit the new churches they had planted, an argument arose over whether or not John Mark should go, and Barnabas split, taking Mark with him.

What ever happened to Barnabas and Mark?

We never hear from Barnabas again. But John Mark will eventually reconcile with Paul, as Paul writes his last letter to Timothy, he says,

(2 Tim 4:11 KJV) Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.

Paul now has a new travelling companion, a man from the church in Jerusalem, known as one of the "chief men among the brethren" (Acts 15:22), named Silas, or Silvanus.

Silas will accompany Paul through what is called the "second missionary journey" which goes through Acts 18. The last that we see Silas with Paul is in Acts 18:5, when he and Paul have established the church in Corinth. Itís while theyíre in Corinth (around AD 51) that Silas will write a couple of letters with Paul (1Thess. 1:1; 2Thess. 1:1).

The last we hear of Silas, he is apparently with Peter, along with John Mark (1Pet.5:12-13), helping Peter write his first epistle (around AD 63).

Back to the missionary journey Ö Paul and Silas have left the church in Antioch of Syria, travelling over land, have passed through Syria and Cilicia, and have been strengthening the churches along the way.

For those of you who want to keep track of mileage:

Walking from Antioch of Syria to Tarsus in Cilicia = 150 miles.

Walking from Tarsus to Derbe, depending on how you cross the mountain range between them = 100 miles.

Walking from Derbe to Lystra = 50 miles, for a total so far of 300 miles.

:1-5 Timothy comes on board

:1 Then came he to Derbe and Lystra

Derbe and Lystra were two of the cities that Paul had preached in before with Barnabas.

Lystra was the city where Paul had healed a lame man, then the city began to think that Paul and Barnabas were gods, even wanting to sacrifice to them, and then they turned on Paul, stoned him, and left him for dead.

:1 a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus

Timothy = "honoring God"

We believe Timothy to be about 18 years old at this time. He was probably 15 or 16 years old when he first met Paul, and came to know the Lord.

His Jewish motherís name was Eunice (2Tim.1:5), his grandmotherís name was Lois, but we donít know the name of his father.

:2 Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium.

He had a good reputation in the churches, not just in his home town of Lystra, but also in Iconium, a city 20 miles away.

Lesson:

Proof of the call is in the fruit.

Apparently, Timothy has already shown evidence that God has a special call on his life.

Sometimes we get the wrong ideas of who might be called by God to the ministry. We think itís going to be the person whoís the most popular, or the best looking, or the best athlete. The real test is in the fruit.

Illustration

When God wanted to prove to the nation of Israel that He had called Aaron and his family to be the priests of the nation, He had each tribes put a staff in front of the ark of the covenant for a night (Num.17). In the morning, Aaronís staff had budded, with leaves, flowers, and even ripe almonds! Almonds are a fruit of the almond tree. It was the fruit that proved Aaronís calling.

If you think God has called you to a special ministry, then thereís going to be fruit.

:3 Him would Paul have to go forth with him

This is going to be a pattern weíll be seeing in Paulís life, picking out men along the way to accompany him in his travels. Men whom he will train for ministry.

Timothy will be one of those extra special people to Paul.

Heís going to be like a son to Paul.

(Phil 2:19-22 NLT) If the Lord Jesus is willing, I hope to send Timothy to you soon. Then when he comes back, he can cheer me up by telling me how you are getting along. {20} I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare. {21} All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ. {22} But you know how Timothy has proved himself. Like a son with his father, he has helped me in preaching the Good News.

Lesson:

Discipleship.

It used to be that part of a fatherís responsibility was passing on his trade to his son. Those days are past. But it still should be in our heart to pass on our relationship with the Lord and the things weíve learned in life to others.

(2 Tim 2:1-2 KJV) Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. {2} And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

I think an element of discipleship is learning to give others a chance. We can get too narrow minded in thinking that weíre the only ones who can do certain things. Learn to let go and let others have a chance. Even if they fail once in a while.

:3 and took and circumcised him because of the Jews

This is kind of ironic, considering that Paul had spent a lot of time in Jerusalem reasoning with people to the get them to realize that salvation didnít depend upon circumcision.

And now he turns around and takes on a new disciple, and has him circumcised!

Timothy isnít circumcised for the sake of his salvation, heís circumcised for the sake of ministry. Now Timothyís uncircumcision wonít be a hindrance to his and Paulís ability to preach to and reach the Jews around the world for Jesus.

Lesson:

What do you do for the gospelís sake?

Illustration

A young woman was brutally attacked as she returned to her apartment late one night. She screamed and shrieked as she fought for her life, yelling until she was hoarse -- for thirty minutes -- as she was beaten and abused. Thirty-eight people watched the half-hour episode in rapt fascination from their windows. Not one so much as walked over to the telephone and called the police. She died that night as thirty-eight witnesses stared in silence.

Less dramatic, but equally shocking, was the ordeal of a lady in New York City. While shopping on Fifth Avenue in busy Manhattan, this lady tripped and broke her leg. Dazed, anguished, and in shock, she called out for help. Not for two minutes. Not for twenty minutes. But for forty minutes, as shoppers and business executives, students and merchants walked around her and stepped over her, completely ignoring her cries. After literally hundreds had passed by, a cab driver finally pulled over, hauled her into his taxi, and took her to a local hospital.

-- Improving Your Serve, by Charles Swindoll

The Bible says that if a person doesnít allow Jesus Christ to pay for their sins, then they will have to pay for them yourself. Every day we are surrounded by people who are heading to hell, and need someone to let them know that God offers them an escape from the hell they are facing.

Are we like the people up in their apartments watching the lady in the street scream for help? Are we like the people on the sidewalk who just step over those in need?

Paul was willing to do whatever it took to reach people with the gospel. He was even willing to limit some of his own freedom, if it might open up an opportunity for someone to trust in the Lord.

1 Cor 9:19-23 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. {20} And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; {21} To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. {22} To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. {23} And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.

I had a friend who grew his hair out long, even got an ear ring, so he could reach kids for the Lord.

Godís desire is that you are looking for ways to share Godís love with your friends. Do you want them to influence you, or are you being an influence on them?

Do you have a heart for the lost?

What are you doing for the sake of the gospel?

Donít have any ideas of what to do? Start by praying for them.

:4 they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees

As they visited each of the churches, they gave them the message that the church in Jerusalem had sent, that they didnít have to be circumcised to be saved.

We would assume that Paul went from Lystra to Iconium, then on to Antioch of Pisidia, the same cities he visited on his first trip.

Mileage trackers:

Walking from Lystra to Iconium = 20 miles

Walking from Iconium to Antioch of Pisidia = 80 (depending on route), total so far 400 miles on foot.

:6-12 Where do we go from here?

:6 were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,

Asia Ė This was the name of the Roman province that took up the west and southwest portions of Asia Minor, itís capital being Ephesus.

forbidden Ė koluo Ė to hinder; to withhold a thing from anyone; to refuse one a thing

(Rom 1:13 NNAS) I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented so far) so that I may obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles.

How did the Holy Spirit "forbid" them?

Luke doesnít tell us how. It might have been through circumstances. Perhaps all the wagons leaving for Asia were full. It might have been through a prophetic word. It might have simply been that quiet impression on their heart.

Lesson #1:

Let the Spirit lead you.

There are some who that feel that God doesnít speak to us any more. They say that Heís spoken in His word, thatís all we need. They feel that to determine Godís will for our lives, we need to know Godís Word, and simply keep our lives in line with it. After that, itís all up to you. They use an example that a father will raise his child to learn to make his own decisions, and so God wants you to make your own decisions and stop bothering him for every little thing.

The problem with this is that itís simply not true.

God wants you MORE dependent upon Him every day, not less.

Jesus taught us to pray in a way that demonstrated dependence on God, not independence.

(Mat 6:11 KJV) Give us this day our daily bread.

God wants you talking to Him!

(Jer 33:3 KJV) Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.

The philosophy that says that we only need to know the written Word, and then just do whatever we want, would say, "God wants us to preach the gospel, so letís preach in Asia!" But here the Spirit said, "No."

For some of you, you might say to me, "Well the Holy Spirit has never spoken to ME!" I would say to you, "But He wants to!"

Are you in a place where He can reach you? Sometimes the problem is that we simply arenít available to Him talking to us!

Illustration

I helped take one of our kidsí classes on a field trip a few weeks ago. We were taking the kids all the way through L.A., and so I suggested that those drivers that had cell phones swap phone numbers so we could stay in touch in case we got separated. We got everyoneís phone numbers, then took off. I was the last car, and got separated immediately from everyone, even before we got on the freeway. I thought, "Aha, Iíll just phone them and tell them to drive slowly until I catch up!" But they all had their phones turned off!

Are you even open to the Holy Spirit speaking to you? Is the phone on?

Then learn to listen for Him.

Lesson #2:

Sometimes itís not the right time to preach.

After spending some time thinking about the lost needing to hear about Christ, we can get kind of gung-ho about sharing the Lord. So much so that we can get ahead of where God wants us to be.

Sometimes we can hammer so hard at people with the gospel, that we make them run away even farther, just to get away from us.

Is God ever going to get the gospel to this area of "Asia"? Yes. Just not now.

:7 Ö Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.

Mysia Ö Bithynia Ė the northern portions of Asia Minor

assayed Ė peirazo Ė to try whether a thing can be done; make trial of, test

suffered Ė eao Ė to allow, permit, let; to allow one to do as he wishes

Hereís another insight into the working of the Spirit.

Paul apparently is doing something to "test" to see if itís okay to go to Bithynia. Heís not sure. He apparently gives it a try. But again the Spirit says "no".

:8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.

Troas Ė a leading seaport of the day, itís name was derived from it being so close to the ruins of ancient Troy, located about 10 miles southwest of Troas.

For you mileage trackers:

Walking from Antioch of Pisidia to Troas = roughly 300 miles, bringing our total for this trip to about 700 miles on foot.

:9 a vision appeared to Paul in the night Ö a man of Macedonia

vision Ė horama Ė that which is seen, either a vision seen while awake, or a dream while asleep.

in the night Ė or, "through the night". It sounds like this "vision" or possibly a "dream" lasted most of the night.

a man of Macedonia Ė or, "a certain man of Macedonia"

Some have suggested that this might have been Luke in the vision.

:9 and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.

prayed him Ė parakaleo Ė to call to one's side, summon; exhort, console, encourage

Lesson:

Keep going. Heíll show you where.

It must have been an extra long 300 mile journey from Antioch to Troas, wanting to know where the Lord was leading them, and not knowing where. And every where they turn, they get a "no".

Donít get discouraged if it seems like all youíve been getting lately is a bunch of "noís" from the Lord.

Maybe youíre not in the place yet where the vision will come.

Maybe you need to go a little farther in certain areas of your walk before youíre ready for God to tell you the next step.

:10 immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia

Notice the sudden switch to "we".

Itís somewhere at this point that Luke the physician joins Paulís ministry group.

If you watch carefully, youíll see that when Paul leaves Philippi in Acts 17:1, Luke apparently stays behind. Then when Paul comes back through Philippi again in Acts 20:5, Luke joins Paul again.

:10 assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us

assuredly gathering Ė sumbibazo Ė to cause to coalesce, to join together, put together; to put together in one's mind

It all came together. Now they understood why they were not allowed to go to Asia or Bithynia. They were to go to Macedonia.

A.T. Robertson: "This word here gives a good illustration of the proper use of the reason in connection with revelation, to decide whether it is a revelation from God, to find out what it means for us, and to see that we obey the revelation when understood. God had called them to preach to the Macedonians. They had to go."

:11 to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis

Samothracia Ė A small mountainous island located in the Aegean

Neapolis Ė A town of Macedonia, the port of Philippi. Identified with modern Kavalla in modern Greece, about 10 miles SE of Philippi.

Mileage trackers:

Sailing from Troas to Samothracia = 60 miles

Sailing from Samothracia to Neapolis = 80 miles

Walking from Neapolis to Philippi = 10 miles, bringing the total now up to about 850 miles.

:12 And from thence to Philippi

Philippi will be the first city in Europe to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.