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07 January 2024 // Acts 16

New People – Vs. 1-5
                        The question of Circumcision:
New Circumstances – 15:36-41
            Ministry is not always easy -
                        Barnabas – Relationship strained
                        John Mark - Disappointment                  
New Direction – Vs. 6-10
Ministry is not always what we expect – John 3:8
                        Let’s go South! – No!
                        Let’s go North! – No!
                        Go West young man!
                        How did the Spirit speak to them?
                                    Circumstance? -
                                    Vision? –
                                    Health? – Kent Hughes:
New Believers – Vs. 11-15
                        Lydia and Her Family
New Challenges – Vs. 16-24
                        Fortune telling gone bad!
New Converts – Vs. 25-40
                        Philippian Jailer and His Family
  • What did the message teach me about God/Jesus/Holy Spirit?
  • What did the message teach me about the human condition?
  • Is there anything I need to confess, repent, or be grateful for, because of this passage?
  • How do I need help in believing and applying this scripture to my life?
  • How can I encourage others with this passage?

One Man’s Carelessness
They called it unsinkable. They claimed it was the safest ship afloat. As the night of April 14 yielded to the early morning of April 15 in 1912, the Titanic, a British steamer of the White Star Line, hit an iceberg during its first voyage from England to New York City. Some 1,600 miles northeast of New York City, the collision tore a 300-foot gash in the hull. Since lifeboats had room for less than half the approximately 2,200 persons on board, only 705 survived, mostly women and children. The great ship sank in about two and a half hours.

Experts discovered that a wireless operator took his earphones off and went to sleep, quite possibly for just a few minutes. The U.S. ship California sailed just twelve miles away at the moment of impact, but no one was at the radio to make contact until too late. On that dreadful night, 1,625 people died due to one man’s irresponsibility.

Christians should be responsible people. God holds us responsible to gather for worship, fellowship, and edification as the women did by the river in Philippi. He holds us responsible to proclaim his Word effectively as the missionaries did in the pagan city of Philippi. He holds us responsible to keep our spirits up by his grace when life crumbles all around us. He holds us responsible to explain the gospel at every opportunity he puts in our paths.

As he did with the small group of believers at Philippi, so he holds us responsible to be lights in darkness, witnesses of the resurrection and of the Savior’s grace both as individuals and as the collective body of Christ. What a wonderful thing if a church leader could write to your congregation what Paul later wrote to the church at Philippi:

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:1–6).[1]
A.  Circumcision (v. 3)
We dealt with the circumcision of Timothy in our commentary on this verse, but we need to set that event with Paul’s decision regarding Titus. In Galatians 2, Paul talked about going to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus. This was a private visit in which he wanted to explain the Gentile mission again to the leaders of the church. He wrote:

Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you (vv. 3–5).

The situations, of course, are totally different in every way. If Paul wanted to be effective in the synagogue ministry he had chosen to pursue or among Jews anywhere he would find them (especially in Timothy’s case in Lystra), he would have to maintain his own Jewishness and insist that others do so. Even a son of a mixed marriage like Timothy came under the law of circumcision, not for salvation, but to fulfill the customs and traditions of the Jews (1 Cor. 9:16–23).

Titus was not a Jew. As a Gentile, his circumcision would have broken the guidelines of the Jerusalem Council and militated against everything Paul preached with respect to God’s grace to the Gentiles. Paul had no reason whatsoever to circumcise a Gentile apart from making that a step toward becoming a Christian. Since the Jerusalem Council had agreed there were no steps between paganism and Christianity, circumcising Gentiles was at best a useless procedure, and at worst a deliberate violation of the gospel of grace.

B.  “We” Sections (v. 17)
Though commentators cannot agree, some evidence suggests that Luke participated in the missionary travels somewhat intermittently. The famous “we” sections end at 16:17 and begin again in 20:5 which describes a departure from Philippi. It seems quite safe to conclude that Luke spent that intervening time in Philippi and joined the missionary team again at that later point.

Polhill rejects the idea of a Lucan residence in Philippi and doubts that Philippi was even Luke’s home city. Marshall and Longenecker, however, believe Luke stayed and that the “we” sections of Acts are very much intended to identify his joining and leaving the missionary team. Longenecker argues, “To judge by the way the ‘we’ sections in 16:10–17 and 20:5–15 focus on Paul’s visits to Philippi, it may be that Luke had some part in the founding and growth of the church there” (Longenecker, 459). Longenecker also argues that the combination of the “we” section passages with Luke’s strong emphasis on Philippi (30 verses) leads us to “reasonably suppose that the use of ‘we’ points to a resident of Philippi who traveled from Troas to Philippi with Paul and Silas and that this person was Luke himself” (Longenecker, 458).[2]

      1.   What struggles and situations tend to make these days dark and troubled ones for your church? What do you see God doing to bring light and hope to your church?
      2.   Has the Holy Spirit put up a stop sign on some program or plan of your church? How would your church recognize such a sign from the Spirit? What would your church do about it?
      3.   In what ways is your church reaching out to people where they are instead of expecting them to come to your church building? What evangelistic results is your church having? How are you celebrating what God is doing among you?[3]

[1] Kenneth O. Gangel, Acts, vol. 5, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998), 276–277.
[2] Kenneth O. Gangel, Acts, vol. 5, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998), 277–278.
[3] Kenneth O. Gangel, Acts, vol. 5, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998), 279–280.