Keith Hunt - Bible Story, NT - Chapter Fifty-seven: Paul's Second Missionary Journey   Restitution of All Things
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New Testament Bible
Story

Chapter Fifty-seven:

Paul's Second Missionary Journey


                       THE BOOK OF ACTS 
                             and
                       RELATED EPISTLES

              ACTS chapter Sixteen and Seventeen



PAUL CHOOSES TIMOTHY

     Paul had set off with Silas, and others like Luke (see verse
10 and the word "we") on his second missionary journey.They
arrived in Berbe and Lystra, and in that area lived a disciples
by the name of Timotheus (we know him as Timothy in the New
Testament books that bear his name), his mother being a Jewess,
and a believer, but his father was a Greek. Timotheus (we shall
call him Timothy from now on) had a very good reputation with the
brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium.  After Paul met him he
knew he wanted Timothy to travel with him in spreading the Gospel
and encouraging the brethren. 
     Paul, with Timothy's consent of course, wanted him to be
circumcised, and he did consent. We are told this was because of
Jews who lived in those parts, for they knew his father was a
Greek. We must remember that this circumcision of Timothy was NOT
in any way to effect salvation. The answer to this is found in
the principle Paul often lived by which he writes about in 1
Corinthians 9:19-22. Some of the Jews knew that Timothy's
father was a Greek gentile and were pretty well sure Timothy was
not circumcised, and they were correct. Those Jews had a mind-set
that still looked upon circumcision as extremely important,
remember they had lived with this physical rite for many
generations. They were not about to listen to, or have someone
teaching them the word of God, like the man Timothy, who was not
circumcised. Paul simply knew he and Silas, could not even get
out of the dug-out with those Jews, in teaching Christ to them,
and saying they had a third teacher of this truth with them, like
Timothy, if he was not circumcised. So this was a circumcision of
expediency, no more and no less. Paul was taking the principle as
"while in Rome do as the Romans do" - he was as he wrote in 1
Cor. 9:20, "unto the Jews I became as  a Jew....that I might gain
them that are under the law." 
     With Timothy circumcised, those Jews were willing to let the
men teach them about the Gospel they were bringing to them. Paul
was now able to get on to the batting base and from there he
could in time he hoped, get around all the bases to make a run
and win some to Christ.

     As they journey on and went through the villages, town, and
cities, they delivered the decrees of the Jerusalem conference,
which had been given by apostles and elders approval. So the
churches they went to were established more and more in truth, in
the faith, and many more new converts were added to the churches
on a daily basis (Acts 16:1-5).

THE JOURNEY TO MACEDONIA

     The men proceeded on to Phygia and to the region of Galatia
(Paul will yet in the future write to the Galatians a very strong
letter, because of false teachers leading them away into heresy).
The Holy Spirit did not allow them to go further in Asia Minor or
Turkey. We are not told as to the why of this, only that they
were not permitted to do so. They came to a town called Mysia and
were thinking about going on to Bithynia, but again the Holy
Spirit told them not to do so. Again we are not told why. So,
they passed by Mysia and came to Troas. While there a vision came
to Paul in the night. In the vision a man from Macednia was
calling out to Paul, "Please come over to us in Macedonia and
help us."
     Luke says that after Paul had the vision "we" set off for
Macedonia because the Lord had surely called "us" to preach the
Gospel there (verse 10). And "Leaving from Troas, WE came with a
straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis"
(verse 11). From there they went to Philippi, which was the chief
city of that part of Macedonia, and they stayed in that city for
a certain number of days.

A GOOD SABBATH'S GAIN FOR GOD

     On one of the Sabbath days they heard about a spot by the
river where people gathered to pray. Paul and the other men with
him went there and talked to the women that were at the
gathering. We are not really told if any men were there at all,
it may just have been a "womens" gathering. Well, they talked to
the women, and one of them by the name of Lydia, a seller of
purple material of some sort, who was from Thyaura, and who was
also a sincere worshipper of God, listen to them. As she listened
to Paul, the Lord opened her heart and her mind to realize this
was the very truth of God she was receiving.
     Within a short time, we are not told exactly what length of
time it was, she became a full believer in Jesus as the Messiah
and as her personal Savior.  We are told even her household
became believers. All of them were baptized. Then she asked Paul
and the others (once more Luke uses the word "us" - so it
included himself) to stay in her house for a while. She pressed
them to do so, and it would seem they did lodge with her for a
time (Acts 16:13-15).

PAUL AND SILAS IN PRISON 

     Paul and company were on their way to "prayer" - could have
been that same spot by the river where they met Lydia - and out
comes this lady possessed by, as the Greek reads - PITHON - he
was the god Appolo, but we know it was a demon, but this demon,
as many demons can, could "soothsay" as the KJV reads, which
means, predicting future events. She had earned a lot of money
for those who employed her and hired her out. This lady starts
shouting at the top of her lungs to Paul and his companions, and
everyone else around, "These men are the servants of the most
High God, which are telling us about the way to salvation!"  She
did this a number of times, then Paul finally had had enough, and
turned to the spirit and said, "I command you in the name of
Jesus Christ to come out of her!" And within that hour of him
saying this the demon did come out.  Sometimes healing, be it
physical or mental healing, does not always take place
instantaneously.
     Her employers were mightily mad at Paul, for now their gain
of money from her predictions for others, was cut off. No more
would this lady be a prophet to sell out her services to those
willing to pay for her predictions. Her employers caught hold of
Paul and Silas, brought them into the market place to the rulers
of the town. They brought them to the magistrates and said to
them, "Look, these men being Jews are exceedingly troubling our
city. They are teaching customs which are not lawful or good for
us to hear, and especially to observe, for we are Romans."

     Now, if you know what the Romans practiced as customs, and
what Jews observed as a way of life, then you can understand that
Paul and company were sure not telling them to observe December
the 25th, Easter, Valentines Day, and worship of your god on
Sunday. If they had been, and if the New Testament church was
already observing such customs, then those Romans would have had
no argument as the one they put forth to the magistrates of that
town.
     The crowd that had gathered by now, got worked up into a
lather as we say, and so did the magistrates, who tore their
clothes off themselves. And at the same time commanding that Paul
and Silas be beaten. We are told that many stripes were laid on
them, and then were cast into prison. The warden of the jail was
told to keep them safe, and so he put them into the inside of the
prison and fastened their feet in a type of foot clasp that
locked them secure.
     Once more we see that there could be times when we will come
under physical persecution for teaching and preaching the word of
God, and the Christian Gospel.

     It was midnight and Paul and Silas were praying, and singing
songs of praise to God, and all the prisoners heard it.
Then....suddenly there was a massive earthquake, and the
foundations of the prison were shaken, and then all the prison
doors opened up and all the bands that held any prisoner were
loose. The warden naturally was awakened out of his sleep, he
runs to the inner part of the prison and seeing all the doors
opened and the prisoners no longer fastened, and supposing they
had escaped, he drew out his sword and was going to kill himself
(he knew he was as good as dead for not making sure the prisoners
were locked and chained). But Paul seeing him about to kill
himself shouted out, "Do yourself no harm, we are all still
here." The warden called for a light and came running in and
stood before Paul and Silas, trembling like a leave shaken in the
wind.
     The warden was of course greatly impressed. He asked, "What
Sirs, must I do to be saved?" He was probably already a religious
man in some way, and so knowing what Paul and Silas were doing in
town, he knew by now the true God was indeed with them, and so he
wanted to know the real way to salvation, and he knew those two
men knew that way. 
     "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ," was the answer that he
received from the two apostles, "and you can be saved, you, and
your whole family and household," was the last words they gave
him, to answer his question.
     The warden took Paul and Silas to his house that night, and
there the two men of God taught him and all his household the
word of the Lord. The warden bathed and washed their stripes all
over their back from the beating they had received. And he and
his entire household were baptized in the nearest pool of water,
and then returning to his house he and his household rejoiced
with Paul and Silas as they ate a meal together (Acts 16:16-34).

     The workings of the Lord are wonderful to behold, even in
what seems like dire straights, God can perform His work, and
lives can be brought to repentance, baptism, and salvation
through Christ Jesus.

AN APOLOGY FROM THE MAGISTRATES

     For the sake of the warden Paul and Silas did not depart
from the prison, for they knew the warden would be executed for
letting them go without their authority. It was the next day now,
and the magistrates sent word to say the two men of God could
leave. The warden passed this on to them, but Paul said, "Well
not so fast now, they have beaten us openly, an uncondemned for
anything. We are also Roman citizens, and they have cast
uncondemned Roman citizens into prison. No, we will not just
disappear like that. But you tell them we want the magistrates to
come themselves and tell us we can go free."
     The message of Paul was relayed back to the magistrates, who
on hearing they were Roman citizens, began to tremble with fear.
And they soon came begging them to leave and to depart from the
city.
     The two apostles went out of the city back to the house of
Lydia. After they had seen and comforted the brethren they
departed (Acts 17:35-40).

TIME IN THESSALONICA

     Passing through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to
Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. As Paul's
custom was at this time, he went there on three Sabbath days and
reasoned with them from the Scriptures. His focus was that
Christ needed to suffer, be killed, and be raised from the dead,
and that this Jesus was the Christ, the appointed Messiah. Some
believed, and ones like devout Greeks, quite a large gathering,
and many important local women, often had company with Paul and
Silas. 
     But as usual it would seem, the unconverted and unbelieving
Jews were envious of the success this "new faith" was receiving,
so they gathered some of the "bad guys of the city" and soon set
the whole city in an uproar, and knowing that a man by the name
of Jason often gave lodging to Paul and Silas, they headed for
his house to bring out the two apostles to stand before the
people. But they found them not there, so they took their
anger out on Jason and some of the other brethren, bringing them
before the magistrates and rulers of the city. This is what they
said to those magistrates, "These people like Paul and Silas have
turned the world upside down with their teachings and here they
are among us also. And this Jason fellow receives them and shares
his home with them. These fellows do and say contrary to the
decrees of Ceasar, for they teach that there is another king ,
namely this man called Jesus."

     We see here how the Gospel had gone forth in about 20 years.
It had gone forth in so much power that those at Thessalonica
said they had "turned the world upside down."  Quite a statement
and quite a testimony. God certainly had been working very
powerfully in the lives of the Church of God members and many men
who had been called to spend much of their time teaching and
preaching Jesus as the Messiah, and as the Savior for salvation.

     When all these things that were slanted towards Paul and
Silas in an evil way, the people and the rulers of the city
became very troubled.  But the city officials released Jason and
the other believers, after they had deposited bail money (Acts
17:1-9).

     It was time the brethren thought to get Paul and Silas out
of the city very quickly, with no time to spare, so at night time
they sent them away to Berea: When arriving in Berea, they did
exactly as they had before, they went to the synagogue of the
Jews, and preached the word of God. The Jews and others in the
synagogue were far different than those in Thessalonica, in that
they received the word of God with a readiness of mind to
listen, and then they set about searching the Scriptures to
ascertain that what they heard was in accordance with the
Scriptures. And because they were willing to do this, many
of them believed, even honorable and successful Greek women, and
many of the men both Jews and Geeks.

     It's a very important principle and attitude of mind that
all of God's children must have at all times, that is the one the
Bereans exhibited here....listen but SEARCH the Scriptures to see
if what you hear lines up with the word of God. And it was Jesus
who promised that whoever hungers and thirst after righteousness
WILL be filled. Jesus also promised that when the Spirit of truth
came (as it did on and after Pentecost day of Acts 2) it would
GUIDE people into all truth. Those promises we read about when we
went through the Gospels. But we need to also remember that the
Holy Spirit does not give us ALL truth ALL at once, sometime God
chooses to spread it over our entire life time. We must always
then be ready to admit error and walk on new light and truth when
revealed to us. Then in that walk we need to do as the Bereans
did, and search the Scriptures. We need to have our nose in the
Bible, reading it from cover to cover, only in that way will we
be never led astray and into false ideas and doctrines of men.
     
     Well, the Jews of Thessalonica heard about what was going on
in Berea. They realized Paul was still preaching away, and some
of them came over to Berea, and set about doing what they had
done in their home city, getting the people angry at Paul
especially.
     Once more the brethren sent Paul away, but Silas and Timothy
for reasons not given to us, decided to stay in Berea.
     Paul came now to Athens, but then sent for Silas and
Timothy, who, after receiving the strong request from Paul, set
off without haste to be with him again (Acts 17: 13-15).

PAUL AT ATHENS

     While Paul was waiting for Silas and Timothy to arrive, he
was in anguish over seeing the whole city of Athens given to
idolatry. Idolatry in various form was rampant among Gentile
nations, but it was especially so in Athens. Paul was again
disputing with the Jews in the synagogue, with religious persons,
and with all in the market places who would come to hear him
speak. Then some of the Epicurean and Stoic "philosophers"
came to hear him teach, and soon some of them were making fun of
him and saying, "What will this babbler say next?" Others of them
said, "He seems to be talking about a very strange god." They
thought it was strange theology Paul taught because he preached
about a Jesus man, and the resurrection from the dead.
     They took him to the Council of Philosophers (Greek is
Areopagus in the KJV), who said to Paul, "Come, tell us more
about this new religion. You are saying some rather startling
things, so we want to know more." Athens was full of people
discussing all kinds of ideas, it was a very "intellectually"
minded city.
     So Paul, standing before them, in the middle of the
Areopagus council, said:

     "Men of Athens, I can see that you are a very religious
     people, for I was walking along and noticing how many altars
     you have. And one of them had this inscription on it, 'To
     an Unknown God.' You have been worshipping this God without
     knowing who he was. I want to tell you about Him. He is
     the God who made the world and everything you see in it.
     Since He is the Lord of heaven and earth, He does not live
     in Temples made by human hands. Human hands cannot serve His
     needs, for He does not have any needs. He Himself is the one
     who gives life and breath to all creatures. And it is He who
     satisfies every need there is. It was from just one human
     man that He created every nation on earth. He decided
     beforehand which nation would rise and which would fall, and
     He determined their boundaries. The purpose behind all this
     was to have the nations seek after Him and move towards Him
     and find Him, though He is not really very far from any of
     us. For it is in him that we live and move and exist. As one
     of your own poets has said,  'We are his off-spring.' And
     since this is very true, we should not think of God as some
     idol made and formed by the hands of men from some gold or
     silver or stone. God in the past overlooked people's
     ignorance about these things, but now is the time when He
     commands people everywhere to turn from idols and repent.
     For He has set a day and time to judge all the world with
     justice, by the man I preach to you, and He showed to all
     who this man is by raising Him from the dead to immortal
     life."

     You will notice the emphasis Paul gives to REPENTANCE in the
above message. Repentance of sin, turning from sin to walk in the
ways and the will and the commandments of God is taught over and
over again in the Bible, both in the Old and New Testament.
Repentance is a very crucial part of the Gospel message,
sometimes today not given the importance that it should be given.


     When they heard this talk of the resurrection from the dead,
some laughed at Paul, but some also said, "We would like to hear
more about all this, but not at this time, sometime later would
be best." So, Paul ended his discourse with them. Yet some joined
themselves to him, following him around, and so in time became
believers. One of those who became a believer was Dionysius, a
member of the Areopagus council, also a women named Damaris, and
some others (Acts 17: 16-34).

     I suspect that in Luke giving us the two names just
mentioned, they were well known at the time among the people of
Athens.

                 ..........................

TO BE CONTINUED


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