Evening Bible Study
On the day of Pentecost, the church was born. It began with the Holy Spirit
filling the believers. As the apostles preached about Jesus, the church began
By chapter seven, the church was beginning to experience persecution.
Stephen was the first one to die for his faith. One of the main men behind the
persecution was a man named Saul. But when Saul headed for the city of Damascus
to pursue the Christians there, he was knocked off his horse by a bright light
and he met Jesus. Saul will be more well known by his
Roman name, Paul.
By chapter 10, the gospel began to reach even the Gentiles, starting with a
Roman Centurion named Cornelius.
In chapter 13, we began a new section of Acts as we began to focus on the
ministry of Paul.
Paul and Barnabas’ first missionary journey took them from Antioch of
Syria, through the island of Cyprus, up into the area of Galatia, and back
Paul and Barnabas then went to the church council in Jerusalem where the
leaders wrestled with the concern over whether the Gentiles needed to become
Jews to be truly saved.
The verdict was that salvation is through faith alone, and circumcision was
When Paul and Barnabas got back to Antioch, they had a terrible argument, that they ended up parting ways with Barnabas taking
Mark with him to Cyprus while Paul took Silas and headed to Galatia.
: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.
: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.
His name means “honored of God”
He is about 18 years old at this time. He was perhaps 16 years old when he
first met Paul.
He was the son of a Jewish mother who had married a Gentile man.
Timothy will be like a “son” to Paul.
Paul wrote two letters to Timothy in his later years.
:3 he took him and circumcised
It’s interesting that the Jerusalem decree was that Gentiles did NOT need
to be circumcised to be saved.
One of the biggest proponents of this was Paul himself.
And now Paul has Timothy circumcised.
Keep in mind, this is not for the sake of
Timothy’s salvation. Paul gives us a hint when he wrote to the Corinthians:
(1 Co 9:19–23
NKJV) —19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a
servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew,
that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law,
that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who
are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but
under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the
weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to
all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I
do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.
For the gospel
There is a difference between what we do for salvation and what we do for
We aren’t saved by being circumcised, yet Paul had some of his disciples be
circumcised so he wouldn’t lose the opportunity of reaching out to God’s
We aren’t saved by abstaining from smoking or drinking, but perhaps there
might be a time when we might learn to abstain from these things simply for the
sake of not losing the opportunity of reaching people who are concerned about
I had a friend who grew his hair out long, even got an ear ring, so he
could reach kids for the Lord.
What are you willing to do for the gospel?
:4 they delivered to them the decrees
The cities of Lystra, Derbe,
and Iconium were given the verdict of the Jerusalem
council – salvation comes from grace through faith, not circumcision.
16:6-12 Macedonia Calls
: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
:6 Phrygia … Galatia
Play Galatia Phrygia map clip
These were the areas where Lystra, Derbe, Iconium, and Antioch of
Play Galatia and Asia map clip
It is also called “Asia Minor”. This is the western half of modern Turkey. The
Holy Spirit says “no”.
:6 forbidden by the Holy Spirit to
We would not usually think that God would “forbid” anyone to preach His
But here Paul is somehow told not to preach the gospel in this area.
How were they forbidden? Circumstances? Secular legal trouble? An impression from
the Lord? We don’t know.
Hearing the “no”
It’s hard to always know what God wants sometimes.
Sometimes the things that seem like a “no brainer” (“preaching”) aren’t
really what He wants at the moment.
Sometimes God answers our prayers by simply replying “no”.
Sometimes when God says “no”, it’s just “no for now”.
The gospel will be eventually preached in Asia, even by Paul. Just not now.
If God “whispered” a “no” to you, would you hear it?
A long time ago, in the early days of cell phones, I
helped take one of our kids’ classes on a field trip. 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 everyone’s 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, I’ll 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?
:7 After they had come to Mysia,
they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.
:7 Mysia …
Play Mysia and Bithynia map clip
As the team heads north to Mysia, they try to
turn east to Bithynia, but again the Holy Spirit does not allow them to go that
:8 So passing by Mysia,
they came down to Troas.
:8 to Troas
Play Troas map clip
Troas is a port city on the Aegean Sea.
It is perhaps more famously known as the ancient city of “Troy” (no, not
the high school). Paul will come back
through here in Acts 20.
: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.”
Play Macedonia map clip
The northern part of Greece, including cities like
Philippi and Thessalonica.
It’s been a 300 mile journey from Antioch in Pisidia to Troas. That’s quite
a long journey without having permission to “preach”. It will be another 100 miles before they get
to their destination in Philippi.
: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.
:10 immediately we sought to go
Some have suggested that the man in the vision was the author, Luke. If you
are paying attention, this verse marks a difference in the way that Luke
writes. From this point on Luke writes in the first person
plural, “we”. “We
sought to go to Macedonia…
:11 Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a
straight course to Samothrace, and the next day came to Neapolis,
: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.
:11 Troas … Samothrace…
Play Troas to Philippi map clip
They take a boat from the port of Troas and their first stop is the island
of Samothrace. Then on they go to the port of Neapolis, disembark and head
inland to the city of Philippi.
Philippi was named after the father of Alexander the Great, who had
conquered the city around 360 BC.
By this time, the city was a Roman “colony”. This was like having a little
bit of “Rome” in a foreign country. It meant that those people in the empire
who were blessed with Roman citizenship enjoyed the same rights and privileges
that they would have if they were living in Italy.
16:13-15 Lydia finds Jesus
: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.
:13 Sabbath … riverside
If there were ten Jewish men living in a city, they were able to form a
“synagogue” and hold services. The city of Philippi did not meet that
requirement, so there was a place outside the city by the river where people gathered
to pray. Paul is keeping with his custom of coming to a city and preaching
first to the Jews before preaching to the Gentiles.
It is interesting to note that Paul had a vision of a “man” calling. The
first person who believes is a woman.
: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.
This woman was apparently a Jewish merchant from the city in “Asia” called Thyatira
: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.
:15 come to my house
Note that her faith in Jesus affected her entire household – they too were
baptized with her.
Lydia’s house would become a meeting place of the church in Philippi.
:16:16-24 Deliverance and jail
:16 Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl
possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much
profit by fortune-telling.
:16 girl…divination … fortune-telling
Notice that the annoying demon trouble came as they were on their way to
“prayer”. Satan loves to mess with you on your way to church.
This young girl was demon-possessed. The demon helped this girl tell people
The Bible forbids us from playing around with this kind of thing.
(Le 19:26b NKJV) …nor shall
you practice divination or soothsaying.
When it comes to things like fortune telling, there is plenty of fakery
going on. There are plenty of people who just want to rip people off and make
There also can be something evil and real going on. Demons have knowledge
of things that they can share with the people they possess. Sometimes this
knowledge is used to lure people into listening to the demons and then they can
be led away from God. Stay away.
: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.”
:17 who proclaim to us the way of
Notice that the girl is actually speaking the truth about Paul.
Is that so terrible? Isn’t any kind of advertising “good advertising”?
God prefers that people hear about Him from people who are connected to
: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.
:18 Paul, greatly annoyed
I find it interesting that Paul doesn’t cast out the demon the first time
he encounters it. For some reason it takes “many days” before doing something
It might be that Paul wasn’t sure about her being demon possessed right
It could be that he realized he could get into trouble with the owners of
this slave girl if he did anything to her.
It is also interesting that it’s Paul’s annoyance that leads him to do
: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.
:19 their hope of profit was gone
The demon was gone. The little girl lost her “magic”. The “owners” were
They obviously weren’t concerned about the little girl. They were concerned
about their pocketbooks. They wanted Paul to pay for his actions.
What an interesting picture of “human trafficking”.
People are seen as just a means for profit.
:20 And they brought them to the magistrates, and
said, “These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city;
:20 These men, being Jews
Under the Roman empire, the “official” religion
was to worship the emperor. After that there were “licensed” religions that
were allowed and Judaism was one of those licensed religions. Even though we
see Paul and Silas as “Christians”, the world still saw Christianity as a sect
:21 and they teach customs which are not lawful
for us, being Romans, to receive or observe.”
: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
:23 laid many stripes on them
They were beaten with rods.
:24 Having received such a charge, he put them
into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
:24 in the stocks
The jailer secures the prisoners for the night.
16:25-34 Jail Salvation
:25 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying
and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.
:25 praying and singing hymns to God
Song in the night
I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time with understanding how they
are doing this. I tend to think that
Paul and Silas are a bit crazy, but actually they have plenty of reasons to be
giving God praise and honor.
We have a rather twisted idea of love,
at least compared to God’s kind of love.
We so often make our love such a
conditional thing. When a person does something that we perceive to be hurtful,
we think it’s because they no longer love us.
God’s love doesn’t stop.
31:3 NKJV) The Lord has appeared
of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore
with lovingkindness I have drawn you.
This is what God’s love for you is like
(according to Paul’s definition of agape)
1Cor.13 – He is patient, willing to suffer a long time
with you; always doing kind things for you. He’s not envious or jealous of you.
He doesn’t put you down just to puff Himself up. He doesn’t behave rudely or
inconsiderately toward you. He isn’t just seeking His will for His sake, but
because it’s best for you. He isn’t easily ticked off at you. He doesn’t keep a
list of your sins you’ve done against Him. He’s not pleased when there’s sin in
your life; but is very happy when you learn to face the truth. He doesn’t
spread gossip about you but instead keeps your sins to himself. He believes you
have a future. He is willing to stick it out with you, through thick or thin.
Ultimately, God’s love for us was
demonstrated by what Jesus did for us. John wrote,
Jn 3:16 NKJV) By this we
know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our
lives for the brethren.
How do you respond to
the love of a person who has died for you? What would you do to honor that
Is a little difficulty
acceptable if it means honoring Him?
You can praise Him for His unconditional,
unending love for you because it never stops.
He will not let you down. You can count
(Dt 7:9 NKJV) “Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the
faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those
who love Him and keep His commandments;
The problem is that sometimes we jump
to the wrong conclusion, thinking that our bad situation is a result somehow of
God loosing track of us, or worse yet, that we’ve said that one thing that
really ticked Him off, and now He’s out to get us!
Pe 4:19 NKJV) Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of
God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.
You can praise Him for His
Paul and Silas are praising God for
Jesus had said,
5:10–12 NKJV) —10 Blessed are those
who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of
heaven. 11 “Blessed
are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against
you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice
and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they
persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Paul and Silas could
actually look at the trouble they were in and know that they were acquiring
rewards in heaven.
They were serving their King and felt honored to suffer if
it meant that the kingdom was enlarged.
Pastor Praises God
The Nigerian city of Jos sits on Africa’s great fault line
between the Muslim north and Christian, and thus has faced terrible things in
recent years. A Nigerian Baptist church was attacked by Muslim extremists who
burnt the church building and the house of the church’s leader, Pastor Sunday Gomna. On the second Sunday after the violent outbreak,
when the people of that Baptist church returned for worship, they gathered in a
little mud wall community center about one kilometer from the burnt church.
Pastor Gomna stood up and
offered some beautiful words of gratitude. He said, ‘First, I am grateful that
no one in my church killed anyone.” Apparently, during the chaos of the
attacks, Pastor Sunday had gone around the community and some of the Muslim
people said, “Pastor, thank you for the way you taught your people. ‘Your
people helped to protect us.’” So Pastor Sunday was proud that his people did
not kill any Muslims.
“Second,” he said, “I am grateful that they did not burn
my church.” Everyone looked at Pastor Sunday with disbelief. After all,
everyone was meeting in a small, uncomfortable Mud hut had been burnt to the
ground. But Pastor Sunday continued: “Inasmuch as no church member died during
this crisis, they did not burn our church. They only burned the building.
We can rebuild the building but we could not bring back to life any of our
members. So I am grateful that they did not burn my church.”
He continued, “Third, I am grateful that they burned my
house as well. If they had burned your house and not my house, how would I have
known how to serve you as pastor? However, because they burned my house and all
my possessions, I know what you are experiencing and I will be able to be a
better pastor to you. So I am grateful that they burned my house as well.”
: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.
:26 everyone’s chains were loosed
Everyone in the prison was listening to Paul and Silas praising God. Something
For Paul and Silas, their actual chains fell to the ground. But as you’ll
see later, they are still technically prisoners.
In a way, not all their circumstances changed. But the chains were gone.
I kind of wonder if some of the “chains” of life are “loosed” when we
choose to look to God and praise Him, even when life is difficult.
It might be chains of depression or chains of fear.
27:1 NKJV) The Lord is my
light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom
shall I be afraid?
shall I fear?
: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
:27 drew his sword
The jailer knows that the penalty for allowing your prisoners to escape is
that you have to take their punishment.
The keeper knows he’ll be put to death, so he might as well do it himself.
:28 But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do
yourself no harm, for we are all here.”
: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?”
:30 what must I do to be saved
A few days ago, the demon possessed girl was following Paul and Silas
around and shouting out, “
(Ac 16:17 NKJV) …“These men
are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of
Now this man wants to know from them how he can be “saved”.
Notice what has led this man to ask how he can be saved.
It is not the financial prosperity and physical health of Paul and Silas.
It is how they handle themselves in the worst place they’d ever been.
The jailer and the jail population were watching Paul and Silas and how
they responded to their difficulty.
A mother invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to her
six-year-old daughter and said, “Would you like to say the blessing?” I wouldn’t
know what to say,” she replied. “Just say what you hear Mommy say,” the mother
said. The little girl bowed her head and said: “Dear Lord, why on earth did I
invite all these people to dinner?”
We think that for others to be impressed by Jesus, they need to see
something miraculously good in our lives.
What they need to see is how we handle difficulty, like the songs we sing
:31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus
Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
:31 Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ
Salvation comes from believing in the Lord Jesus.
We are saved from the eternal penalty for our sins.
I don’t think this is a blanket promise that your faith will save your
family. Each person needs to believe to be saved.
It does seem to be a promise for the Philippian jailer.
Yet your faith will affect your family. Hopefully the people closest to you
will see that something real has happened in your life, and they too will
:32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him
and to all who were in his house.
:33 And he took them the same hour of the night
and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were
: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
16:35-40 Leaving Philippi
: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.”
:37 They have beaten … Romans
Because Philippi was a Roman colony, and
because Paul was a Roman citizen, he had certain rights, like that of a public
trial. Paul took advantage of those rights.
Because the scourging of any Roman citizen was prohibited by law, Paul and
Silas already had a pretty hefty legal case on their side.
: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.
I like the fact that Paul knew his rights under secular law and actually
:40 So they went out of the prison and entered the
house of Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them
:40 the house of Lydia
Note that the “brethren” were gathered at Lydia’s house.
Note that Luke now switches back to third person, “they … departed…”, indicating that perhaps Luke stays behind in Philippi.