The Book of Acts Bible Study Chapter 16 Part 1

Acts 16v1-15

v1: He =Paul

  • From a traditional Jewish standpoint this is a problem – a Jew married to a non-Jew. We are not told if Timothy’s father was a believer or not.  

v2: Timothy had a good reputation among the believers in that region. 

v3: Paul speaks many times about circumcision not being necessary so why did he put Timothy through it? Timothy already had a good reputation about his faith among the believers – he was NOT circumcised as a means for salvation. He was circumcised for ministry purposes…on account of the Judeans (those who did not believe in Yeshua as Messiah but followed the traditions of the elders). They knew Timothy was Jewish, that he was a believer, and if he was not circumcised, they would think negatively about Paul’s message of faith in Yeshua as Messiah. His lack of circumcision would be a stumbling block to these people (1 Cor 9:19-23)

v4: Paul demonstrates submission here. He received doctrine from the Apostles and he passed it on to the people (those who were believers) so that they too could obey. 

v5: When churches are rooted in truth they experience greater stability.  

  • When we submit to truth and act in obedience there is growth (this principle can be applied personally but also in a church context). 

v6: When we share the gospel we need to be sensitive to the direction and leadership of the Holy Spirit about whom to share it with and when to share it (we are going to see later that they preached extensively in Asia but were not allowed to preach there for a season) 

v9: Paul’s obedience to the Spirit’s leadership enabled G-d to direct him.  

v10: Straight away Paul wanted to respond – to go to the place where G-d wanted him to go.  

v11: They went “straight” – they obeyed G-d with urgency so as not to waste time.  

v12: A leading city, a city of great prominence in Macedonia.

v13: The Sabbath is emphasized more in the New covenant than in the Old. In Judaism the Sabbath is seen as a day of revelation and guidance. Paul and friends were waiting for G-d to reveal to them where to go and what to do next.  

  • According to Jewish legality(based on a statute) the river was an appropriate place for Jewish people to pray when in a pagan city/kingdom (Dan 10:4-6, Ps 137:1, Ez 1:1) in the book of Revelation the sound of water is synonymous with praise (Rev 14:2-3)
  • The women were pious women of G-dly character. Probably Jewish.  

v14: Purple cloth was important and had great value.  

  • A worshipper of G-d = the G-d of Israel, the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.(IE she was not engaged in idolatry.  She had a heart that desired G-d and wanted to obey Him) 
  • Some will say that it was only because G-d opened up her heart that she was able to receive the gospel and therefore, they will say, unless the L-rd opens up a heart everyone else is hopeless in this world. On the contrary we see Lydia was already a faithful women who feared G-d and desired to worship Him. She was not made to become a believer. No-one comes to faith unless G-d enables them to (John 6:44, John 6:65) but there is a difference between G-d enabling someone and G-d making/forcing it to be.  Irresistible grace is a false teaching. G-d gives grace but we are able to resist it (Acts 7:51) G-d will not force anyone, against their free will, to accept Him.  
  • Lydia responded, which means she paid attention, took heed. G-d did not compel Lydia or ordain her in a certain way. He gave her the ability to listen, to pay attention, to take heed to these things. He did not remove her free will in order to force her to respond. He gave her the ability and insight to do so.

v15: Biblically, baptism speaks about a change but it also shows commitment. It is preparation for service (in the temple the vessels and priests were immersed before they were used for service.  It changed their status from “common” to that of “holy” or “set apart”)

  • Lydia had influence in sharing the gospel with her household so that they too were brought to faith.  
  • Lydia wanted to play a role in the ministry of Paul and his friends by being hospitable to them. 
  • The implication here is that the disciples could remain at her place for as long as they wanted to and needed to (Matt 10:11-13)

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