Summary of passage: Paul wanted Barnabas and him to go back and visit all the brothers he had preached the word of the Lord to on his first missionary journey. Barnabas wanted to take John (Mark) along but Paul refused, citing his desertion the first time around as his reason. They fought over it, resulting in Barnabas going with Mark to Cyprus and Paul taking Silas through Syria and Cilicia.
Paul met Timothy in Lystra and wanted to take him along with him. Timothy (who was half-Jew and half-Greek) was circumcised because of all the Jews around them. They delivered the decisions reached by the elders in Jerusalem and the church grew.
They headed out through Phrygia and Galatia, avoiding Asia and Bithynia because the Holy Spirit told them no. They headed to Troas and then to Macedonia after Paul had a vision he should preach there.
3a) They parted ways which allowed them to cover more ground for Christ and reach more people.
b) Paul was right because past behavior is a predictor of future behavior. Yet Barnabas was right to have faith in a young man who can (and did) change. Mark eventually became an assistant to Paul and wrote the book that now bears his name (Mark) with the help of Peter as they journeyed together throughout Rome. Barnabas took Mark under his wing to mentor and train while Paul pushed forward with his divine work.
4) Silas (verse 15:40), Timothy (verse 16:3), Luke (verse 16:10) as indicated by the “we” since Luke is the author of Acts
5) Timothy was circumcised so he would be a credible witness for God amongst the Jews whom he was preaching to and so the Jews would trust him more. The Greeks were part of the ruling class who had subjugated the Jews in the past so most Jews did not trust/like Greeks. He did this to avoid a potential conflict and ultimately to fit in more with the crowd he was preaching to.
For Titus, it was important to show that God accepted all no matter what the external appearance may be as decided at the Council at Jerusalem (Acts 15). His role was in converting Gentiles, not so much in converting Jews. He would have calmed some fears by his example, which showed you didn’t have to be circumcised to be a Christ-follower and a believer.
Further, Timothy was part Jew; whereas Titus was full Greek. Jews were supposed to be circumcised.
6a) The Holy Spirit guided them (verses 6, 7, and 9). Paul’s goal is to hit the major cities but he remains open to divine guidance as this passage indicates and goes where God leads him to accomplish his mission.
b) God will guide you if you listen. God teaches what is best for us and directs us if we only would pay attention to His commands. We’d have peace and righteousness.
This reminded me of the post I recently did on The Chronicles of Narnia and how man is great at hearing only growlings and not God’s voice. You can see the post HERE.
It also reminds me of Jeremy Riddle’s Full Attention song, which says, “May your voice be louder, May your voice be clearer, Than all the others”. A great prayer in itself.
We must learn to hear God’s voice clearer than all the others in our head.
c) Personal Question. My answer: Yes.
Conclusions: It took a minute to jump back into Acts right where we left off after a month on Hebrews and jump right back to the circumcision argument again. I liked the example of Mark on how we all can change (especially when we’re young and do stupid things) and how the Holy Spirit guided Paul on his journeys. He set out with complete faith, having no itinerary in mind. Great example for us in life! I think most of us have experienced this. I know I am no where near what I had envisioned for my life so far.
End Notes: Great simple explanation on Timothy and Titus: http://www.songtime.com/bb/bb1106.htm
Map of Paul’s Second Missionary Journey: http://www.biblestudy.org/maps/apostle-paul-second-missionary-journey-large-map.html
My favorite map as it’s interactive and moves along the path Paul took: http://www.apostlepaulthefilm.com/paul/journey_02.htm