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The Book of Acts, lessons, commentary and study guide from the church of Christ

Bobby Stafford Doing What Needs to Be Done
Acts: Lesson 34 Acts Chapter 16 Verses 1-15

The Book of Acts

Doing What Needs to Be Done


Paul and Barnabas had parted company and went their separate ways.  Barnabas and John Mark left for Cyprus while Paul and Silas went throughout Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.  They then travel west, cross the Taurus Mountains, and end up in southern Galatia.

Text:  Acts 16:1-15


I.  Timothy Joins the Group  Acts 16:1-5  Then he came to Derbe and Lystra.  And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek.  He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium.  Paul wanted to have him go on with him.  And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek.  And as they went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem.  So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily.”  NKJV

·  Paul comes to Derbe.  I wonder if anyone asked him about Barnabas.  If they did, I wonder how he answered.

·  He then reaches Lystra where he had been stoned and left for dead.  (Acts 14:8 And in Lystra a certain man without strength in his feet was sitting, a cripple from his mother’s womb, who had never walked.”  NKJV  We then meet Timothy, his son in the faith.  We are told in other places about his mother and grandmother.  (II Timothy 1:5 when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded in in you also.”  (II Timothy 3:15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” NKJV   

All three had probably been converted when Paul came to Lystra the first time.  Timothy’s father had likely opposed Christianity.  Timothy had a good reputation even as far away as Iconium.  He must have been working for the Lord in a wide area. 

·  Paul had Timothy circumcised.  Why?  Timothy had a Jewish background and would be going with Paul into Jewish synagogues.  If he was not circumcised, he probably would not be allowed inside. So since circumcision was not a matter of salvation, Paul had it done as a matter of expediency.  (I Corinthians 9:20-21 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law;”  Also Galatians 5:6  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.” NKJV

·  The group moves on north, then west, delivering the decrees decided upon by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem.  (Acts 15:23They wrote this letter by them:  The apostles, the elders, and the brethren,  To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia:  Greetings.” NKJV  This resulted in the churches growing and being made stronger. 

II.  A Call Is Received  Acts 16:6-10  Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.  After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.  So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas.  And a vision appeared to Paul in the night.  A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ ” NKJV

·  Paul passes through Galatia and Phrygia.  While in Galatia, he apparently contracted an illness that made it necessary for him to remain there.  (Galatians 4:13-15 You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first.  And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.  What then was the blessing you enjoyed?  For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me.”  NKJV

·  The Holy Spirit did not permit them to go into Asia to the south or Bithynia to the north. Their only option was to continue west.  They reach Troas, a major port on the Aegean Sea about fourteen miles south of ancient Troy.  They probably wondered why they were there.

·  God tells them by sending Paul a vision.  “Macedonia” is a province just north of Greece located on the other side of the Aegean Sea.  Luke joins the team [Paul, Silas, and Timothy] in Troas.  Note we in Acts 16: 

III.  Lydia Is Converted  Acts 16:11-15  Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and the next day came to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi which is the foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony.  And we were staying in that city for some days.  And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there.  Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us.  She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God.  The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.  And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’  So she persuaded us.” NKJV

·  Samothrace is a mountainous island of about 69 miles.  “Straight course” – wind was behind their back.  It took only two days to get from Troas to Neapolis but five days coming back!  (Acts 20:6 But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days.” NKJV

·  Came to Philippi, an important major city and a Roman colony which gave it a privileged status.  It apparently had no synagogue which meant very few Jewish men. 

·  During the Exile, since they could not go to the temple, Jews would gather by a river to pray.  (Ezra 8:21 Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions." NKJV  So Paul heads to the river to see if any believers are there.

·  A seller of purple by the name of Lydia is there worshipping.  She was from Thyatira in Asia – ironic!  Thyatira was known for its purple fabric which was very expensive.  No doubt she was a wealthy woman.

·  The Lord “opened her heart.”  How?  Through the preaching of the gospel.  Her heart was closed due to ignorance – a lack of knowledge of the gospel.  (Romans 10:13-17 For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’  How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach unless they are sent?  As it is written:  ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!’  But they have not all obeyed the gospel.  For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our report?’  So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” NKJV

·  Lydia and her household were baptized.  This did not include infants, but adult servants.  New Testament conversions always end with baptism, not with a prayer experience or a testimony.


There are many kinds of help a Christian can give the world, but the only “unique” kelp is sharing the gospel.  The world is shouting:  “Come over and help us.”  How area you going to answer that call? 

Bobby Stafford 

February 28, 2016 

Acts:  Lesson:  34  Acts 16:1-15

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