Acts 16 The Vision (Come Help Us)
We've passed the half way mark in our Acts studies. I plan to change the format for our future studies. Along with my personal commentary I will ask questions that will encourage points of discussion. The questions will be identified by Q1, Q2, Q3, etc. If you would like to respond to any or all the questions in a study please feel your liberty. (This study has 12 questions.)
I also want to encourage you to read the Scriptures we are studying in your Bible. In some cases I will give a brief synopsis of a Scripture portion without presenting the Scripture portion itself.
This is Acts031 - Acts 16 The Vision (Come Help Us)
Vss1-3: "Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. And a disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek, and he was well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted this man to go with him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts, for they all knew that his father was a Greek."
.... We may wonder why Paul circumcised Timothy, since Timothy and his mother were already believers. On the other hand, Titus was not required to be circumcised even though he met with the Church in Jerusalem.
Q1: What was the difference?
Q2: Do you consider this to be a compromise on Paul's part? (Why or why not.)
Vss4-8: Paul returned to several churches that he and Barnabas had pioneered, sharing the letter from the council of Jerusalem. The result was always the same, joy and strengthening. But an interesting thing is seen in these travels....
.... It says, "They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia."
.... And, "...they were trying to go to Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them."
Notice how the Holy Spirit guides Paul and Silas to the places they are to minister. These are deeply spiritual men.
Q3: Is it possible to be led by the Spirit of the Lord in such a clear fashion today? (Do you have a testimony you can share in this area?)
Vss9,10: "A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, 'Come over to Macedonia and help us.' When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them."
.... This could have been a dream which is sometimes spoken of as a 'vision of the night,' or it could have been an angel appearing to Paul in a vision. A dream or vision from the Lord always carries a divine imprint. Whatever the case, Paul had his new instructions.
Q4: Is there anything in the Scriptures that states that dreams and visions are part of God's program for His people?
.... Also note that the language of Acts changes in this verse. Luke has joined the group. It says, "Immediately WE sought to go into Macedonia." Paul refers to Luke as "the beloved physician." (Col4:14)
Vss11,12: Paul and Silas make their way to Philippi. This city was a Roman colony. It did not have a synagogue.
Vss13-15: "And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled. A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, 'If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay.' And she prevailed upon us."
.... Paul and Silas were in Philippi for a number of days. At some point the Spirit of the Lord leads them outside the city to a riverside. It is here that we see the dynamics of the gospel. As Lydia is listening, it says, "the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul."
Q5: How does this incident accord with what Paul said in Romans 10:8-10, with regard to how salvation works?
.... A point needs to be made. Paul later writes that "the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving." This alone tells us that only the gospel has the power to unlock the closed heart.
Q6: Is it possible for a person to completely shut themselves off from the gospel? (Give your thoughts.)
.... Notice that it says Lydia was a 'worshiper of God.' Since the gathering took place on the Sabbath, the women who gathered were either Jewish or proselytes to the Hebrew faith. This term implies that Lydia was likely a proselyte.
.... Also note how baptism once again enters immediately into the picture. Water baptism makes a statement that the person being baptized is coming under the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is a death to the old life and its ways, and a picture-perfect identification with God's work of the cross. Lydia and her household were taking on Jesus as Lord and Messiah. How many converts are in view is not known. Later in this chapter it speaks of brethren.
Q7: In your opinion, where does water baptism fit in God's program of redemption?
Vss16-34: In these Scriptures Paul has an encounter with a demon- possessed slave girl. The result is a stay in jail. But the final result is the spreading of the gospel. Rather than reference this portion of Scriptures in total, I'll give brief descriptions of the happenings.
.... The possessed slave girl follows Paul for several days. The demon's message is, "These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation." (Vs17)
Q8: What's wrong with this picture? Is there a lesson to be learned here?
.... Paul and Silas are thrown in prison. It says that at about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God. the prisoners are listening. Then an earthquake happens, everyone's chains fall off, the jailer just about loses it, and when he is prepared to take his own life, he hears a voice say, "Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!"
Q9: Do you believe there was a relationship to the praying and singing of hymns in regard to the earthquake?
Q10: Why do you think the prisoners didn't try to escape?
.... It says, "[The jailer] called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' They said, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.'"
Q11: In God's plan of salvation is there anything to be added or anything to be taken away from this simple statement of believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved?
Vss35-40: These Scriptures tell the remainder of the story of Paul and Silas in prison. When the chief magistrate send to have them released, he was in for a shock. Paul says to those who brought him the message of his release...
.... "They have beaten us in public without trial, men who are Romans, and have thrown us into prison; and now are they sending us away secretly. No indeed! But let them come themselves and bring us out."
Q12: Do you think Paul was being vindictive in his insistence that the magistrates to come personally and bring them out? Do you see any wisdom in this happening?
This study was originally part of a series on the book of Acts given to members of Hebraic Foundations from July 10, 2002 through January 19, 2003. They were written by Pastor Buddy Martin, a former United Pentecostal Church minister, who founded Christian Challenge International. Writings are the copyright of Buddy Martin and reprinted on this site by permission.
Page added October 22, 2004
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