Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Acts 15:34-16:6
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Acts 15:34, 35
v34: “But it seemed good to Silas to remain.” This man named Silas is almost certainly the same person Paul and Peter refer to elsewhere as Silvanus (2Co 1:19; 1Th 1:1; 2Th 1:1; 1Pe 5:12). “Silas” is a shortened form of the Roman name, Silvanus, and, like Paul, he was a Jew who was also a Roman citizen (Ac 16:37; 15:22). He will soon become Paul’s partner, along with Timothy (Ac 16:3), on his second missionary journey (Ac 15:40) and will help found the churches at Philippi (Ac 16:25), Thessalonica (Ac 17:4, 10, 14; 1Th 1:1; 2Th 1:1), and Corinth (Ac 18:5; 2Co 1:19). v35: Paul and Barnabas stayed on in Antioch long enough to develop a routine. They both regularly taught in the church and, along with a large number of believers, they also went out to evangelize. Very likely there were preaching points throughout the city and teams would also travel to other towns and villages in the region.

Monday: Acts 15:36-40
vs36-40: “After some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us now return to look over (provide oversight) the brothers in every city in which we proclaimed the word of the Lord to see how (well) they have kept it.’ And Barnabas strongly desired to take John Mark along with them; but Paul was very concerned that he had withdrawn from them (abandoned, deserted), leaving from Pamphylia, and not going with them into the work, and he did not want to take this man with them. And a sharp (spurring of) anger arose between them, so intense it separated them from each other. Barnabas took Mark and sailed away to Cyprus (Ac 4:36; 12:2; Col 4:10), and Paul also went out (on mission) having chosen Silas (to accompany him).” (literal)

Tuesday: Acts 15:40
v40 (continued): Luke mentions here that the Antioch church prayerfully committed Paul and Silas to the “grace of the Lord” before they went out on their mission. It sounds like they did this in a formal way at a gathered service. But interestingly, he does not say this was done for Barnabas and John Mark. Of course, it’s possible the church did hold a service for them as well, and he simply didn’t feel the need to mention it, but it’s also possible that their emotions were running so high that Barnabas and John Mark left before the church had the opportunity to do so. Or, it could mean that the church leaders agreed with Paul that John Mark was not yet mature enough for such demanding missionary work and that they too thought Barnabas’ decision to take him was based more on emotion than wisdom. Luke just told us that preaching teams were regularly going out from the church (vs3,5), so they would have had opportunity to observe Mark’s courage under pressure. If by now he had overcome his earlier timidity (Ac 13:13), it would have been evident to all.

Wednesday: Acts 15:41-16:2
v41: Barnabas sailed southwest to the island of Cyprus, and Paul walked up the road that led through the northern part of the province of Syria and on into the province of Cilicia, leading directly to his home town of Tarsus. Along the way, he and Silas met with churches to strengthen them. Chapter 16, verses 1-2: At the city of Tarsus the road turned north again entering the Taurus Mountains at a place called the “Cilician Gates.” Once through this rugged mountain range, it led west to the Galatian cities where Paul and Barnabas had founded churches (Ac 14:20, 21). Derbe would have been the first city they came to, and then on to Lystra, the Roman military outpost where Paul had been stoned (Ac 14:19). Luke says, “…a certain disciple was there named Timothy, the son of a faithful Jewish woman (named Eunice, 2Ti 1:5), and of a Greek father.”

Thursday: Acts 16:2, 3
v2 (continued): This young man must have come to Christ on Paul’s first visit, or shortly afterward, because believers in his hometown of Lystra, as well as those in Iconium 20 miles north, continually mentioned to Paul the good things they had seen him doing. v3: Their words must have convinced Paul that this young man had the gifting and courage to do the type of missionary work he and Silas were doing, so he invited Timothy to travel with them. Judging from the way Luke and Paul refer to Timothy’s father (Ac 16:1, 3; 2Ti 1:5) it appears he was no longer involved in Timothy’s life, and there was no need to obtain his permission to allow Timothy to travel with Paul or to be circumcised. As a well-trained rabbi, Paul certainly knew how to perform a circumcision, and since their travels would take them into Jewish homes and synagogues in city after city, Paul decided it was best to circumcise Timothy so he would not be viewed as ceremonially unclean and could join them when they participated in Jewish gatherings.

Friday: Acts 16:3, 4
v3 (continued): In Paul’s mind, circumcising Timothy was merely a practical step he needed to take to free this young missionary from encountering unnecessary cultural boundaries. In no way did he do this because he thought Timothy needed to be circumcised to please God (Gal 5:3-6). v4: As they passed through the cities in Galatia, Paul, or one of his team, read the letter from the Jerusalem Council (Ac 15:23-29) to each church, and possibly left with them a written copy so they could refer to it in the future. The letter confirmed that the gospel of “righteousness by faith,” which Paul and Barnabas had originally taught them when they founded the churches, was correct, and wholeheartedly endorsed by the apostles in Jerusalem. Luke says, “…they handed over to them the opinions which had been decided by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem so they could keep (obey) them.” (literal)

Saturday: Acts 16:5, 6
v5: This strengthened the faith of the churches and resulted in such growth that the number of believers was increasing daily. v6: About 20 miles west of Pisidian Antioch, the road on which Paul, Silas and Timothy were traveling intersected a smaller road which headed north. Initially, it seemed right to these missionaries to keep going west into the highly populated costal region called “Asia,” and they may have traveled some distance in that direction, because Luke says they were “…cut short from speaking the word in Asia by the Holy Spirit.” He does not tell us how this was done, but there are a number of ways the Holy Spirit could have corrected them. He may have “spoken” to one of them, or imparted a “word of knowledge” (1Co 12:8) about what lay ahead, or He may have simply caused them to feel “grieved” in spirit as they walked (Eph 4:30). One way or another, they turned and took the smaller road leading north.

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