Acts Chapter 16

May 26, 2011

This Preaching in Shorts Bible study is on the Book of Acts. Each chapter is read verse by verse with the major points highlighted and discussed.

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A couple of things worth noting as we start Chapter 16. We are introduced to Timothy, a young man who is the son of a Jewish mother and a Greek father. Paul decides to circumcise him before he takes him on the trip. This is right after the whole circumcision has been worked out at the church council. Why does Paul have Timothy circumcised? In verse 10, Luke joins the missionary team which is evidenced by the narration changing to WE.

Acts 16:1-40 (NIV)
1 He came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek. 2 The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. 3 Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers. 6 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. 11 From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day on to Neapolis. 12 From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days. 13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us. 16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her. 19 When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.” 22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” 29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved–you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God–he and his whole family. 35 When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.” 36 The jailer told Paul, “The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace.” 37 But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.” 38 The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. 39 They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city. 40 After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them. Then they left.

Acts 16:1-3

Timothy becomes Paul’s protégé as is mostly likely taking over the responsibilities that John Mark had on the previous trip.

Why does Paul have Timothy circumcised? Because the Jews that Paul would be ministering to would be offended with a man who had a Jewish mother and was not circumcised.

It is often the case that the most important thing is doing what is necessary to preach the gospel. While Timothy could have remained uncircumcised based on the decision of the church council in Chapter 15, it was better for the presentation of the good news to the Jews for him to be circumcised.

Timothy’s circumcision was for the sake of the ministry, it was not a matter of salvation.

Acts 16:4-5

They travel from town to town letting the churches know about the decision the council had made regarding the gentiles and circumcision. The church is strengthened and it is growing on a daily basis.

Acts 16:6-12

The missionary team is being lead by the Spirit as they travel. In a dream they are called to Macedonia and they head off by ship to Philippi, which was a Roman colony, and the big city of Macedonia.

Acts 16:13-15

The Jewish population at Philippi must have been very small as there was no synagogue there. 10 Jewish males were required for a synagogue.

The team went to a place of prayer outside the city. These places of prayer would be where gentiles who believed in Yahweh, but were not yet Christians would gather when there was no synagogue.

The team presented the gospel to the women who had gathered there. A woman named Lydia responded to the message and her and her household were baptized.

Acts 16:16-24

On their way to the place of prayer they encounter a slave girl who was possessed by a Spirit and who operated in the occult as a way to make money for her owners. She started following the team around shouting “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved”. While what she was saying was true, the endorsement of a demon possessed person was not very helpful for presenting the gospel.

After a while, Paul gets so troubled, that he commands the spirit to leave in the name of Jesus. This upsets the slave owners who realize that their cash cow is gone. They seize Paul and Silas, stir up the crowd, haul them before the magistrates who have them stripped, beaten and thrown in prison.

Acts 16:25-26

Paul and Silas are having a little worship time when an earthquake happens and the foundations of the prison are shaken and all the doors fly open. (Again similar to Peter’s prison experience earlier in the book, minus the earthquake).

Acts 16:27

The jailer thinks everyone must have escaped and so he is thinking about killing himself.

Acts 16:28-34

Paul tells him that everyone is still there. The jailer is “flabbergasted” for Jesus, asks how to get saved, and he and his whole family are saved as they “believe in the Lord Jesus”. Verse 31 is extremely significant. No works attached to getting saved. Just “believe in Jesus”. Also, the jailer washes their wounds, and then he and his whole family are baptized, washing away their sins.

Acts 16:35-40

Once the magistrates find out that Paul and Silas are Roman citizens, they come in person to appease them and escort them from the prison and ask them to leave the city. Paul and Silas go to Lydia’s house first, have a little church meeting, and then they leave. Apparently, Luke stays on in Philippi, because the first WE section ends here.

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