Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Acts 16:1-15

Paul and Silas' first stop Derbe, then Lystra. There they found Timothy. Timothy was most likely a convert of Paul during the first missionary journey. Timothy was young enough to be Paul's son, and in fact is referred to by Paul as a spiritual child (1 Corinthians 4:17). Paul asked Timothy to join he and Silas, but said that he would first need to be circumcised. This seems odd in light of what had taken place in Jerusalem, but it seems that this goes to Paul's desire to be "all things to all people", including the Jews (1 Corinthians 9:19-22). Timothy's mother was a Jew, but his father was a Greek. Paul understood that the Jews throughout Galatia would know this, and it would prevent him from going to the Jews first, as was his custom.

The three of them then went to the churches that had been started during the first missionary journey, sharing the Jerusalem Council's decision with them. Luke once again adds, "So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily" (16:5).

It appears that Paul's plan was to head into Asia, perhaps into a large city such as Ephesus (population of 250,000). According to Luke, God had other plans. After a couple of attempts by Paul to go into Asia, he finally headed to Troas (around 400 miles from Iconium). Troas was a port city. When they got there, Paul saw a vision of a man from Macedonia asking them to come there to help them. After seeing that vision, the men concluded "that God had called us to preach the gospel to them" (16:10).

Another change happens in 16:10. Luke goes from using "they" to using "we." Apparently Luke joined them for their voyage across the Aegean Sea. They eventually made their way to Philippi. Philippi was famous for being the battlegrounds where Octavian Augustus defeated Marc Antony in 31 BC. It is very possible that Luke lived in Philippi.

On their first Sabbath there, they went down to the riverside, since there was no Jewish synagogue there. There they found a group of women praying. Among them was Lydia, a wealthy woman who made her living through selling royal purple cloth. This might not sound like much of a trade today, but in those days a person selling this type of cloth had to have permission from the Roman Empire, and as a result would have significant social status.

As Paul shared with them, God opened Lydia's heart to the gospel. After she was baptized, she invited them all to stay at her home.

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