Acts | Chapter 16

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Read Acts Chapter 16


For a printable version of this study, click HERE.

What stands out to you as you read this chapter?

Are there any words or phrases that you feel are key ideas in this chapter?

What other features do you wish you knew more about (culture, religion, customs, etc.) in order to help you understand this chapter?

How do you think this chapter fits in the larger story of Acts and the Bible as a whole?

ACT OUT: How does the Holy Spirit want to use this text in your life, for others or for yourself?

Based on the Greek word underlying the “sharp disagreement” between Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15:39, whatever kind of church fight or split you’ve gone through has nothing on the early church! The provocation over John Mark split Barnabas and Paul. Tragic. (Truly.) Yet God used this divergence to spread the gospel and grow both Silas and John Mark (the author of the Gospel of Mark) as Barnabas took Mark to Cyprus and Paul took Silas on his “second missionary journey” (Acts 15:39-40).

Almost immediately, Paul went back to Derbe and Lystra, where he met Timothy (to whom the books of 1 and 2 Timothy are addressed). This is the journey where Paul and Silas, sovereignly called to Philippi in Macedonia (Acts 16:9, 12), get thrown in jail and then are set free by a divinely-ordered earthquake. You see Paul’s integrity as Paul and Silas stay in jail rather than run to freedom, and the jailer and his whole household get saved (Acts 16:22-34). Yet just a few verses earlier, it seems that Paul defied the Jerusalem Council by having Timothy circumcised, while teaching the decisions of the Council to others (Acts 16:3-4). Is this blatant hypocrisy?

One phrase in Acts 16:3 is the key: Paul wanted this done in deference to others, in other words, in this case it was necessary to circumcise Timothy in order to help the Jews to whom he had been called to minister to not stumble. Again, this is the law of Christ, of love, being lived out, consistent with Paul’s teaching elsewhere. (See Galatians 6:2; Romans 13:8.)

On this second Journey, Paul and Silas start to run afoul of Rome, not just the Jewish leaders. The gospel sometimes upsets unjust and wicked economies (Acts 16:16-21). Paul used his Roman citizenship to further his gospel mission (Acts 16:37-39. See also Acts 25:11.) We too deal with religious and irreligious opposition. We must be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove (Matthew 10:16).

Prayer: God, I need wisdom to live in an increasingly hostile culture! Help me to have integrity without compromise and strategic flexibility as I interact with the world.

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