Acts of the Apostles 2017 Lesson 07

16:1 He reached (also) Derbe and Lystra where there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. 2 The brothers in Lystra and Iconium spoke highly of him, 3 and Paul wanted him to come along with him. On account of the Jews of that region, Paul had him circumcised, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they traveled from city to city, they handed on to the people for observance the decisions reached by the apostles and presbyters in Jerusalem. 5 Day after day the churches grew stronger in faith and increased in number. 6 They traveled through the Phrygian and Galatian territory because they had been prevented by the holy Spirit from preaching the message in the province of Asia. 7




When they came to Mysia, they tried to go on into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them, 8 so they crossed through Mysia and came down to Troas. 9 During (the) night Paul had a vision. A Macedonian stood before him and implored him with these words, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 When he had seen the vision, we sought passage to Macedonia at once, concluding that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them. 11 We set sail from Troas, making a straight run for Samothrace, and on the next day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, a leading city in that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We spent some time in that city. 13


On the sabbath we went outside the city gate along the river where we thought there would be a place of prayer. We sat and spoke with the women who had gathered there. 14 One of them, a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth, from the city of Thyatira, a worshiper of God, listened, and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying. 15 After she and her household had been baptized, she offered us an invitation, “If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my home,” and she prevailed on us. 16 As we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl with an oracular spirit, who used to bring a large profit to her owners through her fortune-telling. 17 She began to follow Paul and us, shouting, “These people are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.” 18 She did this for many days. Paul became annoyed, turned, and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” Then it came out at that moment. 19


When her owners saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them to the public square before the local authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These people are Jews and are disturbing our city 21 and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us Romans to adopt or practice.” 22 The crowd joined in the attack on them, and the magistrates had them stripped and ordered them to be beaten with rods. 23 After inflicting many blows on them, they threw them into prison and instructed the jailer to guard them securely. 24 When he received these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and secured their feet to a stake. 25 About midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God as the prisoners listened, 26 there was suddenly such a severe earthquake that the foundations of the jail shook; all the doors flew open, and the chains of all were pulled loose. 27


When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew (his) sword and was about to kill himself, thinking that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted out in a loud voice, “Do no harm to yourself; we are all here.” 29 He asked for a light and rushed in and, trembling with fear, he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you and your household will be saved.” 32 So they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to everyone in his house. 33 He took them in at that hour of the night and bathed their wounds; then he and all his family were baptized at once. 34 He brought them up into his house and provided a meal and with his household rejoiced at having come to faith in God. 35


But when it was day, the magistrates sent the lictors with the order, “Release those men.” 36 The jailer reported the (se) words to Paul, “The magistrates have sent orders that you be released. Now, then, come out and go in peace.” 37 But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly, even though we are Roman citizens and have not been tried, and have thrown us into prison. And now, are they going to release us secretly? By no means. Let them come themselves and lead us out.” 38 The lictors reported these words to the magistrates, and they became alarmed when they heard that they were Roman citizens. 39 So they came and placated them, and led them out and asked that they leave the city. 40 When they had come out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house where they saw and encouraged the brothers, and then they left.


17:1 When they took the road through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they reached Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 Following his usual custom, Paul joined them, and for three sabbaths he entered into discussions with them from the scriptures, 3 expounding and demonstrating that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead, and that “This is the Messiah, Jesus, whom I proclaim to you.” 4 Some of them were convinced and joined Paul and Silas; so, too, a great number of Greeks who were worshipers, and not a few of the prominent women. 5


But the Jews became jealous and recruited some worthless men loitering in the public square, formed a mob, and set the city in turmoil. They marched on the house of Jason, intending to bring them before the people’s assembly. 6 When they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city magistrates, shouting, “These people who have been creating a disturbance all over the world have now come here, 7 and Jason has welcomed them. They all act in opposition to the decrees of Caesar and claim instead that there is another king, Jesus.” 8 They stirred up the crowd and the city magistrates who, upon hearing these charges, 9 took a surety payment from Jason and the others before releasing them. 10


The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas to Beroea during the night. Upon arrival they went to the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These Jews were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with all willingness and examined the scriptures daily to determine whether these things were so. 12 Many of them became believers, as did not a few of the influential Greek women and men. 13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica learned that the word of God had now been proclaimed by Paul in Beroea also, they came there too to cause a commotion and stir up the crowds. 14


So the brothers at once sent Paul on his way to the seacoast, while Silas and Timothy remained behind. 15 After Paul’s escorts had taken him to Athens, they came away with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible. 16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he grew exasperated at the sight of the city full of idols. 17 So he debated in the synagogue with the Jews and with the worshipers, and daily in the public square with whoever happened to be there. 18 Even some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers engaged him in discussion.


Some asked, “What is this scavenger trying to say?” Others said, “He sounds like a promoter of foreign deities,” because he was preaching about ‘Jesus’ and ‘Resurrection.’ 19 They took him and led him to the Areopagus and said, “May we learn what this new teaching is that you speak of? 20 For you bring some strange notions to our ears; we should like to know what these things mean.” 21 Now all the Athenians as well as the foreigners residing there used their time for nothing else but telling or hearing something new. 22


Then Paul stood up at the Areopagus and said: “You Athenians, I see that in every respect you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines, I even discovered an altar inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God.’ What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and all that is in it, the Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands, 25 nor is he served by human hands because he needs anything. Rather it is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything. 26 He made from one the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and he fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions, 27 so that people might seek God, even perhaps grope for him and find him, though indeed he is not far from any one of us. 28 For ‘In him we live and move and have our being,’ as even some of your poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’ 29


Since therefore we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the divinity is like an image fashioned from gold, silver, or stone by human art and imagination. 30 God has overlooked the times of ignorance, but now he demands that all people everywhere repent 31 because he has established a day on which he will ‘judge the world with justice’ through a man he has appointed, and he has provided confirmation for all by raising him from the dead.” 32 When they heard about resurrection of the dead, some began to scoff, but others said, “We should like to hear you on this some other time.” 33 And so Paul left them. 34 But some did join him, and became believers. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the Court of the Areopagus, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.


18:1 After this he left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. He went to visit them 3 and, because he practiced the same trade, stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. 4 Every sabbath, he entered into discussions in the synagogue, attempting to convince both Jews and Greeks. 5 When Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began to occupy himself totally with preaching the word, testifying to the Jews that the Messiah was Jesus. 6 When they opposed him and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your heads! I am clear of responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 7


So he left there and went to a house belonging to a man named Titus Justus, a worshiper of God; his house was next to a synagogue. 8 Crispus, the synagogue official, came to believe in the Lord along with his entire household, and many of the Corinthians who heard believed and were baptized. 9 One night in a vision the Lord said to Paul, “Do not be afraid. Go on speaking, and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you. No one will attack and harm you, for I have many people in this city.” 11 He settled there for a year and a half and taught the word of God among them. 12


But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews rose up together against Paul and brought him to the tribunal, 13 saying, “This man is inducing people to worship God contrary to the law.” 14 When Paul was about to reply, Gallio spoke to the Jews, “If it were a matter of some crime or malicious fraud, I should with reason hear the complaint of you Jews; 15 but since it is a question of arguments over doctrine and titles and your own law, see to it yourselves. I do not wish to be a judge of such matters.” 16 And he drove them away from the tribunal. 17 They all seized Sosthenes, the synagogue official, and beat him in full view of the tribunal. But none of this was of concern to Gallio. 18


Paul remained for quite some time, and after saying farewell to the brothers he sailed for Syria, together with Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had his hair cut because he had taken a vow. 19 When they reached Ephesus, he left them there, while he entered the synagogue and held discussions with the Jews. 20 Although they asked him to stay for a longer time, he did not consent, 21 but as he said farewell he promised, “I shall come back to you again, God willing.” Then he set sail from Ephesus. 22


Upon landing at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church and then went down to Antioch. 23 After staying there some time, he left and traveled in orderly sequence through the Galatian country and Phrygia, bringing strength to all the disciples. 24 A Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, an eloquent speaker, arrived in Ephesus. He was an authority on the scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the Way of the Lord and, with ardent spirit, spoke and taught accurately about Jesus, although he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the Way (of God) more accurately. 27 And when he wanted to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. After his arrival he gave great assistance to those who had come to believe through grace. 28 He vigorously refuted the Jews in public, establishing from the scriptures that the Messiah is Jesus.





This talk is by Clifford Yeary

Making sense of an experience and growing in understanding takes time.

Paul is in Asia with Timothy at the beginning, by last of these chapters finishing an additional mission.  Moves quickly.

3 primary intentions for Luke’s coverage of Paul in these chapters:

  1. The Apostles are to take the good news of Christ to the very ends of the earth.
  2. The success of the Gospel among Gentiles coincides with God’s fulfillment of the divine promises made to Israel.
  3. Wherever the Good News is preached, the power of the kingdom of God is extended in the world.

At the end of last session the HS prevented Paul from spending more time in Asia Minor.  Heat, hunger and thirst, bandits are among the hardships for travelers of the time.

Acts 1:8  “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  Ends of the earth = Rome, in Europe.  Anything that helps get Paul to Rome / Europe is, for Luke, the work of the HS.

Experiencing the presence of God in our lives and understanding how God is calling us forward can be hard identify.  Can feel like unwanted intervention or distraction in the moment.

In Philippi Paul encounters Lydia, a devout Gentile woman, who will be of assistance.

The cross is folly, the resurrection as well to philosophers.  “We should like to hear you on this some other time.”  Acts 17:32   Yet Dionysius responds

In Corinth the synagogue rejects him completely.  “From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”  Acts 18:6   Crispus, a synagogue official, does come to faith however.

“We know that all things work for good for those who love God.”  Romans 8:28

God’s respect for the covenant with the Jews is the most carefully nuanced theme in the book of Acts.  “Just because the Gospel is more successful among the Gentiles doesn’t mean that God has forsaken the promises made to the children of Israel.”

Chapter 16 begins with Paul meeting Timothy.  Paul has him circumcised because his mother was Jewish.  Luke is concerned to show that Paul remained for his whole life a faithful Jew determined to bring the Gospel to the Jewish people first.

“When Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews rose up together against Paul and brought him to the tribunal, saying, ‘This man is inducing to worship God contrary to the law.’  When Paul was about to reply, Galliio spoke to the Jews, ‘If it were a matter of some crime or malicious fraud, I should with reason hear the complaint of you Jews; but since it is a question of arguments over doctrine and titles and your own law, see to it yourselves.  I do not wish to be a judge of such matters.”  Acts 18:12-15


God remains faithful to his promises to the Jews.  He has not abandoned them – in the Gospel message of faith in Jesus or due to the destruction of the Temple.  Via 12 apostles, a renewed people – sees the emerging church as a continuation of the past, incorporating now the Gentiles.

“The proclamation of the Gospel is an expansion of the kingdom of God announced by Jesus in his own ministry.”

“To the other towns also I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent.”  Luke 4:43

For Luke / Jesus the Kingdom of God could be experienced here and now – in healing and forgiveness and peace.

  1. The Gospel is preached.
  2. It encounters evil.
  3. The evil is expelled by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  4. Those who accept the Gospel live charitably and are at peace with each other.
  5. Those with a vested self-interest in a corrupt order oppose the Gospel.

For example the story of the slave girl possessed by a spirit.  The gospel is a message for transforming the now.

“The gospel message calls for more than belief in who Jesus is and what he has done.”  Confronts evil in our lives and world.  Frees people from what cripples and hinders people.  A new order of living can be experienced in this world.




Kurz S.J. William S.  Acts of the Apostles.  Part of the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture, Peter Williamson and Mary Healy Series Editors.  (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids MI, 2012).

Pelikan, JaroslavActs.  Part of the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible series edited by R. R.  Reno.  (Brazos Press, Grand Rapids MI, 2005)



Paul in Lycaonia: Timothy

Pelikan p. 181: “Looked at in the light of its historical outcome rather than of its talmudic or other sources, however, this combination raises, more clearly perhaps than does any other passage in the New Testament, the question of canon law, for it seems to bundle together the normative biblical doctrine of monotheism (“idolatry”), the unchangeable moral law of the sanctity of marriage (“un-chastity”), and two ceremonial canonical provisions from Leviticus (“what is strangled” and “blood”).”   The last ones considered changeable, not enforced through most church history; the previous as inviolable.

Pelikan p. 181: “…it was both permissible and necessary for the church to legislate the specific provisions of that ‘order’ and, over and over again, to revise those provisions in the light of subsequent experience and need.”   Canon law exists to provide order for the community.

Pelikan p. 185: “The Acts of the Apostles is replete with visions, trances, and private revelations.  Indeed, the only book of the New Testament that makes more of these special disclosures of the will of God is, as might be expected, the Revelation of Saint John, with its many parallels to the prophetic books of Ezekiel and Daniel.”

Timothy needed circumcision since he was ethnically Jewish.  Titus did not since he was wholly Gentile.



Into Europe

Note here the “we”  voice.  Luke, in the gospel, was reporting on things as told by others (reliably).  Most of Acts it was the same, but here he indicates that he was an eyewitness to these events.

Kurz p. 253: “Purple cloth was made with a dye produced from the shells of murex snails that live in the Mediterranean.  Because of its great expense and quality (it grows darker with age rather than fading), murex purple was associated with royalty.”

Imprisonment at Philippi

In the story of the slave girl – an encounter with the world of evil spirits

Kurz p. 255: with regard to a demon telling the truth about Paul and message: “The same phenomenon appears in the Gospels, where demons correctly identify Jesus.  In both cases, correct doctrine proclaimed in the wrong way is a hindrance rather than a help to the spread of the gospel – in this case, by causing distraction or uneasiness to those who might otherwise be inclined to listen to the preaching of the gospel.”

Pelikan p. 188: “The accusation that the apostles were guilty of disturbing the peace was apparently meant by Saint Luke to be ironic, considering the actions that were contemplated and taken against them.”


Deliverance from Prison

They were beaten before being placed in prison.  After their release Paul refuses to simply let this be and to leave.  He decides to call the Roman government’s attention to this outrage (Roman citizens were entitled to be heard by the proper Roman authorities) – setting in motion a full legal process that will culminate in an appeal to Caesar and his being put to death by Rome.  He could have simply let it go.






Paul in Thessalonica

Pelikan p. 189: “It was Paul’s ‘custom’, also in a Greek city such as Thessalonica, to begin his visit by holding sessions with his fellow Jews at the synagogue.  There he would present his biblical arguments for the distinctive Christian interpretation of the Messiah as one who had to suffer and be raised from the dead and for the identification of this suffering and resurrected Christ with the historical figure of Jesus of Nazareth, ‘whom I proclaim to you’.

Interesting charges!  They are undermining the civic order / turning the world upside down.  They claim another is king besides Caesar (soon enough a Caesar will be a Christian and say the same thing!)

Paul in Beroea

Here he is received with thoughtful interest and willingness to listen.  Still he has to flee in the night.

Paul in Athens

Greek public life full of many gods, sacrifices, temples, rituals etc.  Greek philosophy, on the other hand, moved towards monotheism and the moral life – in particular Stoicism.

Pelikan p. 191: “Particularly in the form that Stoicism took on in its Latin career, as documented above all in the works of Cicero, who was deeply under Stoic influence though he cannot be classified as a consistent Stoic, it served to provide Christian theology with at least some of its vocabulary and conceptual framework.”

Kurz p. 270: “An ancient stereotype about Athenians was that they were preoccupied with telling or hearing something new.   To a person always seeking novelty, serious reflection and the sincere quest for truth are equally alien.  Yet the penchant for intellectual fads is not limited to those living in ancient Athens.  Paul warns in 2 Tim. 4:3-4 “The time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity (literally, ‘with itching ears’) will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths.”


Paul’s Speech at the Areopagus

Paul starts with “your unknown god”.  Moves to God who created the heavens and the earth; God who created human beings


Paul in Corinth

The synagogue is not fertile ground in Corinth so Paul turns toward the Gentiles.  As he does so however Crispus, a synagogue official becomes interested.  Others follow.

Accusations before Gallo

One person’s “bickering over mere words and names” can be another person’s making a clear distinction between alternatives that truly matter.  “community” vs. “group”.  This word for cancer vs. another word/kind.  Is a particular theological dispute based on truly different understandings or solely on two different ways of expressing a deeper truth?

Kurz p. 278: after success in ministry to the Gentiles of Corinth Paul returns to Antioch of Syria.  Thus ends the second missionary journey.

Comments are closed.