Summary of Acts 15:36-16:10:
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.
BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 17, Day 2: Acts 15:36-16:10
3) Part personal Question. My answer: 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. They parted company, which in a way, spread the gospel even more. God had a plan in this disagreement. I learned 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.
4) As a compromise to appease the Jews of the day. Since Timothy was going to begin preaching the Good News, he made this showing so he would have credibility amongst the Jewish people.
5) Personal Question. My answer: Supporting them with tithes, volunteering, bringing more people to church, praying, and having a heart for God wherever I go.
Conclusions BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 17, Day 2: Acts 15:36-16:10
So we’re back now with Paul on his missionary journeys. Here are two maps that shows Pau’s progress. He is in Antioch where we left him in Acts 15:35, goes through Syria and Cilicia, picks up Timothy in Derbe, go through Phrygia and Galatia, passed by Mysia, went to Troas, and headed for Macedonia according to Paul’s vision.
End Notes BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 17, Day 2: Acts 15:36-16:10
Paul knew the importance of strengthening and encouraging those who were already Christians. That was the initial motivation for this second missionary venture.
Barnabas and Paul Split
John Mark had previously left the missionary party under what seemed to be less than honorable circumstances (Acts 13:13). This probably made Paul unwilling to trust him on future endeavors.
Luke did not give us a clue as to who was right and who was wrong in the dispute between Paul and Barnabas. But personal disputes are never a good thing. Probably both were wrong on some level.
There were signs of trouble between both Paul and Barnabas earlier when Barnabas sided with the Judaizers in Antioch when Peter came to visit (Galatians 2:13).
Since Barnabas was John Mark’s cousin (Colossians 4:10), and because Barnabas had such an encouraging, accepting character (Acts 4:36, 9:26-27), Barnabas left with John Mark. and Paul and Silas went their own way.
It is hard to know if their personal relationship was strained for a prolonged period. As Christians, we are commanded to resolve relationship problems with others before we present ministry to God (Matthew 5:23-24). God did use this division, as He uses everything in our lives.
And So Paul’s Second Missionary Journey Begins…
Paul began this missionary journey having come from Antioch. First, he did the work of strengthening the churches through the regions of Syria and Cilicia (Acts 15:40-41).
ii. According to the estimate of William Barclay, the first missionary journey finished about five years before the events of this chapter. Paul was anxious to see for himself how the work of the Lord continued among these churches he founded five years before.
The last time Paul was in Lystra, they first worshipped him as a god and then tried to kill him by stoning (Acts 14:11-20). Paul’s courage and wisdom in the face of these obstacles built a great legacy in people like Timothy.
Why Timothy Was Circumcised
In Acts 15, Paul argued strongly that it was not necessary for Gentile converts to come under the Law of Moses for salvation (Acts 15:2 and 15:12). At the time Paul met Timothy, he was delivering the news of this decree that came out of the Acts 15 council.
Yet, Paul did not contradict his belief or the findings of the council when he had Timothy circumcised. Paul did this not for Timothy’s salvation or right standing with God, but so that Timothy’s status as a non-circumcised man from a Jewish mother would not hinder their work among the Jews and in synagogues. Paul did things for the sake of love that he would not do for the sake of trying to please God through legalism. Paul insisted that Titus, a Gentile co-worker, did not have to be circumcised (Galatians 2:3-5).
“By Jewish law Timothy was a Jew, because he was the son of Jewish mother, but because he was uncircumcised he was technically an apostate Jew. If Paul wished to maintain his links with the synagogue, he could not be seen to countenance apostasy.” (Bruce)
We are commanded to do nothing to hinder God’s people and His word. Hence, the circumcision had to take place.
Forbidden by the Holy Spirit
We aren’t told how the Holy Spirit said no; it may have been through a word of prophecy, by an inward speaking of the Holy Spirit, or by circumstances. Ephesus would come later, not now.
Asia in the Bible does not refer to the Far East as we know it today. It refers to the Roman Province of Asia Minor, which is modern day Turkey.
After the attempt to go to Asia, Paul sought to go north into Bithynia, but was again prevented by the Holy Spirit. So, they came down to Troas.
The Holy Spirit often guides as much by the closing of doors as He does by the opening of doors.
In a vision, Paul was invited to the region of Macedonia, westward across the Aegean Sea.
This moved Paul and his missionary team from the continent of Asia to the continent of Europe; this was the first missionary endeavor to Europe.
The wisdom and greatness of God’s plan was beginning to unfold. In Paul’s mind, he wanted to reach a few cities in his region. But God wanted to give Paul a continent to win for Jesus Christ. God’s plans for us are greater than we can ever imagine.
The greatest help we can bring anyone is the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ.
The shift from they (they came down to Troas, Acts 16:8) to we in this verse probably means that Luke joined the band of missionaries in Troas.
Fun Fact: Luke uses “we” in Acts 16, 21, and 28.
What God Knew and Paul Didn’t
God wanted Paul and his team to go to Troas and pick up a doctor named Luke. Because God said “no” to Paul these two times, we have a gospel and a Book of Acts written by Luke
Paul probably had no idea of the greatness of God’s purpose. God wanted to give him a continent for Jesus, to give him a personal doctor, and to give all of us the man whom God would use to write more of the New Testament than anyone else did. God knows what He is doing when he says, “No.” Do you trust Him when He says no to you?