Lesson 36: Paul's 2nd Missionary Journey (Continued/Into Macedonia[Europe]/The Conversion of Lydia)

Acts 16:1-15

Paul and Silas crossed those rough Tarsus Mountains and went on to southern Galatia where Paul and Barnabas had been only a few months before. In Acts 16, the Second Missionary Journey begins. At the last verse of Acts 15, Paul and Silas were confirming the churches in Syria and Cilicia, that territory around the northeast comer of the Mediterranean-Sea. We don't know how many little bands of Christians, called churches, existed in that territory. Paul's hometown of Tarsus (city # 7} was in that region. I am inclined to think Paul visited Tarsus, but Luke does not say he did. This is THE TERRITORY where Paul was sent by the Apostles and brethren at Jerusalem when a threat was made on Paul's life. Do you remember Acts 9:29-30? The feet that THERE ARE churches in Cilicia, could mean that Paul was planting churches there during his stay in Tarsus before Barnabas came and took him to Antioch in Acts 11:25-26. O.K. Get your hat! Let's travel; across the Tarsus Mountains, deep in the heartland of Asia Minor. Derbe and Lystra, first stop. Let's read verse 1-5, "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: which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews that were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek. And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that was ordained of the apostles and elders that were at Jerusalem. And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily. "Derbe and Lystra were at the end of the trail on the first Missionary Journey. So Paul and Silas approached the area from the opposite direction this time. I would like to read one of Paul's "confirming" sermons, as mentioned in verse 41 above. But, the Spirit did not see fit to include such. Firm handshakes, smiles, embraces and back patting must have been commonplace as Paul revisited the brethren in Galatia. Here we meet for the first time a young man, Timothy. He was the product of a Jewish girl and a Gentile father. It is generally thought Paul baptized Timothy when on the first missionary tour. Many years later in writing to Timothy, Paul refers to him as "my own son in the faith," That's I Tim. 1:2. It would seem Timothy had distinguished himself with a good reputation in Paul's absence. He "was well reported of by the brethren," verse 2. And notice, he was known at both Lystra AND Iconium. Undoubtedly, Paul and Silas could see strong potential in this young budding preacher. So, Paul encouraged Timothy to travel with HIM and   Silas.   Obviously,   Timothy   must   have   been very conscientious, trying to qualify himself, every way he could, to be MOST effective as a preacher. His mother's name was Eunice. His grandmother was Lois. And, I would assume from n Tim. 1:5 that these two ladies both became Christians at the preaching of Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary tour. Undoubtedly, these ladies had taught Timothy the Holy Scriptures at a very early age. We learn this in n Tim. 3:15. So, Timothy had a good command of what we would call the O.T. VERSE 3 here brings up an interesting point. Paul took and circumcised Timothy. Now, run that through your computer just a minute. At first glance this seems to be VERY inconsistent with Acts 15. Remember Titus, the test case that Paul took to the Jerusalem conference? Titus was not compelled to be circumcised; Paul tells us this in Gal. 2:3. Why circumcise Timothy? I remember teaching a Sunday morning adult class several years ago. We came across this point and I simply admitted, "I don't understand this." As I said, it seems inconsistent at first. And, possibly I'm flattering myself, in thinking I understand it better now. But, IT CAN make sense, after all, if you get it in the right context. And there is a good message in it for us. It's easy to develop prejudice. Pick out those scriptures we like and skip over those we don't like OR understand. But, WE CANT do that! The Bible was not written to massage our likes and dislikes. There IS such a thing as absolute truth. You see, those Judaizing teachers at Antioch were teaching, "Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye CANNOT be saved." (Acts 15:1). NOW, they were saying, salvation depends on it; circumcision. THAT is NOT true! Paul said to the Galatian brethren, THESE SAME PEOPLE to which Timothy is native: (listen to it!) "in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, NOR uncircumcision; but faith that worketh in love." (Gal. 5:6). And in closing out that book, Paul repeated the same thought in Gal. 6:15. You see, circumcision just doesn't have anything to do with IT. It did in the O.T. but not in the NEW TESTAMENT ! Being circumcised won't bring a man any closer to God. The lack of it won't push him any farther away. It's just not a religious consideration in the Christian Age. So, if a man can profit by it, do it. If there's no profit in it, forget it. Now, think about it just a minute. Why didn't Paul just circumcise Titus, GIVE IN to those Judaizing teachers, and save a lot of fuss? We just said circumcision doesn't count anyhow. Yes! But, salvation does count. You better believe it! Salvation is NOT hinged on something that doesn't matter. Salvation is hinged on FAITH in Jesus Christ. And, you better get those hinges ANCHORED in the RIGHT PLACE or the door of salvation won't open. Those Judaizing teachers were trying to ANCHOR Titus'. Salvation to circumcision and keeping the old law. Paul knew it wouldn't wash. So, he INSISTED Titus NOT give in to that false doctrine. On the other hand, Timothy UNDERSTOOD THIS. It was not a doctrinal matter with him. As I said before; Timothy was conscientious, enthusiastic, he wanted to be the most effective gospel preacher he could possibly be. He saw merit in being circumcised. Circumcision was a mark of NATIONALITY. It WAS in recognition of Abraham's posterity. See Gen. 17:9-14. Circumcision was a covenant within itself, not part of the Old Law, i.e. the Law of Moses. IT would help Timothy be permitted to speak in a Jewish Synagogue. It was like a passport. It didn't have anything to do with his salvation. But, it could help HIM get his foot in the door, where he could preach to others. Now that may seem a little gimmicky, to you. But unless that was the reason, I still don't understand it. I am CONVINCED that WAS the reason. Paul said, ICo 9:19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
1 Co 9:20 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; ICo 9:21 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. ICo 9:22 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. (I Cor. 9: 19-22). You see, circumcision didn't mean anything to Paul, but preaching the gospel and saving souls meant everything. Paul and Timothy recognized the NEED to identify with their prospect. You can It teach somebody, if they think you are a kook. You must identify with them ONE to ONE, i.e. if you are going to communicate. This principle may be as old as the hills, but it's just as true now as it was then. Notice one more time, in verse 3, the REASON Luke gave for Paul's circumcising Timothy WAS "because of the Jew." O.K. verse 4 tells us AS they traveled from city to city, congregation to congregation, Paul and Silas explained the Jerusalem conference. That is, circumcision and keeping the old law are NOT necessary to salvation. And, there's a good chance, they may have made a copy of that letter (weVe discussed) and left it with the brethren. We don't know. If they did, it was most likely the first TTD BIT of INSPIRED N. T. scripture they possessed in written form. VERSE 5 means these churches were baptizing more people every day. The spirit was running high. Everybody was GROWING in the faith. Christianity was spreading. Every honest heart was a potential convert. Can you see, Luke was painting this history in large sweeping strokes? Five or six verses carry us across many miles and covers months of preaching and cultivating church after church. Let's move on, put your eyes on verse 6-7, one big long sentence.   "Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the H.G. to preach the word in Asia, after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not." O.K., They finished their work in Galatia. They must have visited every congregation, large or small. They probably ordained a few more elders in some congregations. Encouraged the brethren every way they could. And then they started scouting for new territory. The Holy Spirit intervened. DON'T PREACH IN ASIA. Now that's strange instruction. Asia here apparently has reference to the western part of Asia Minor, what we would call Turkey today. Mysia was apparently a region or district in western Asia Minor, located about where the word "Asia" in ASIA MINOR" is located on your map. Bithynia and Pontus were two regions in northern Asia Minor, administered as one province in the Roman Empire. DON'T PREACH THERE! It's interesting the way the Spirit gave instruction. Thou shall NOT. Apparently they were not told where to preach, but where NOT to preach. I suppose the time was not yet right for the Spirit to tell them where they were needed. So, verse 8 says they came to Troas, still on "stand-by status" apparently. Troas was a city, some times called "Alexandria", located on the western shore of Asia Minor close to where the ancient city of Troy once stood, city # 23 on your map. Get it posted! The Ocean or bay-like territory north of the Island Crete, sprinkled with islands is the Agean Sea ...spelled A-E-G-E-A-N. We will refer to the Agean Sea many times in our future study. So, write it on your map now. Are you ready? Let's see what happened at Troas!   VERSE   9-10, let's read:   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. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them." So, stand-by status" was rescinded, the H.S. gave Paul a message by a vision in the night. They understood Macedonia was the place where they were needed. The vision, (it seems) placed the message more in the form of a request by their fellow man than a command of the Lord. But notice, when the Lord called them, they didn't mess around, "immediately we endeavored to 90 into Macedonia...to preach the gospel unto them. Macedonia is directly across the Agean Sea from Troas, west to northwest. I suppose this means they went down to the harbor and started checking the ship schedules at daybreak. They wasted no time. Notice the pronoun "we" in the middle of verse 10. Luke (the writer of this book), the book of Acts, included himself in this plural pronoun "we." This is the first time we meet Dr. Luke as a participant in the history of this book. Where did he come from? Good question! He apparently was very modest, in that he did not pause to commend himself or even so much as to give us his name. He is credited with writing two books in the NEW TESTAMENT We discussed this at the beginning of this study A two-volume history. The Gospel According to Luke AND the book of Acts. His two books make up more than   one-fourth   of   the   total   volume   of the   NEW TESTAMENT More than Paul wrote, if you don't count the book of Hebrews. Yet, we know very little about this man, Luke. His name occurs about three times in the NEW TESTAMENT In Col. 4:14 he is referred to, by Paul, as "the beloved physician". In n Tim. 4:11 Paul said, "Only Luke is with me." This was written apparently while Paul was waiting to be executed in Rome. In the book of Philemon, next to the last verse, Luke is listed as one of Paul's fellow laborers. Obviously, Luke was a well-educated man. A close reading of Colossians ch. 4, would seem to classify Luke along with Epaphrus as a Gentile. And, if THAT be the case, Luke is the only Gentile writer of the NEW TESTAMENT How Luke came to be at Troas, we do not know. But, if you study the pronouns in verse 6-7-8 above, it is apparent Luke joined Paul's company at Troas. "They passing by Mysia came down to Troas." verse 8. But verse 10 says: "..we endeavored to go into Macedonia". This makes at least four in Paul's little band of missionaries: Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke. These four soldiers of the cross found a ship and secured passage. Up the gangplank, the saints are hoisted and the anchor is lifted. Let's read verse 11-12. "Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days." In this one sentence the transition is made from Asia to Europe, "with a straight course." Samothracia is an island about 60 miles N. W. of Troas. That could easily be covered between breakfast and lunch if the wind was favorable, AND apparently it was. Not a city, but # 24 on your map. The next day they dropped anchor in Neapolis, a seaport on the mainland of Macedonia. (City # 25) This is the first record we have of any apostle in Europe. I assume they walked to Philippi, some 10 or 12 miles inland: city # 26, a chief city, i.e. the capital AND a colony. Philippi was founded by Philip of Macedonia (the father of Alexander the Great). A gold mining center. The Romans had made it a colony, i.e. the general population was Greek but Roman citizens settled the city. And, apparently the number of Jews was small with NO synagogue in that city. Notice the way Luke closes out verse 12 " we were in that city abiding certain days." No indication the H.S. gave them a house number or even a specific assignment. But, they knew what to do. It was Paul's policy to go to the Jews first and then to the Gentiles. So, undoubtedly they tried to locate any Jewish population in the city and find out if they had a meeting place. Thus, they discovered that a group of women were meeting for prayer. Let's read verse 13-14-15, "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. 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. And when she was baptized, and here 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." A river side, that be a beautiful place to meet. One gets the feeling it was out in the open, although the TEXT does not specifically say that. Luke says, "we sat down and we spoke to the women." Look at that! They sat down. Is that scriptural? Well, Philip DID IT in a chariot. No pulpit? Can you imagine such facilities? Surely, they won't convert anybody! The last part of verse 14 makes it apparent, Paul was the principal speaker. What did Paul preach? Go to the church of your choice? Believe and receive? No sir! This certain woman named Lydia attended unto the things that were spoken by Paul. That is, she obeyed the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. What does it mean to ATTEND unto those things taught? Give it some thought. We'll get back to Lydia in lesson # 37. And, Have a good day!

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