This is Episode #323 and today we’ll read Acts chapters 16&17 together. But Paul called out in a loud voice, “Don’t harm yourself, because we’re all here!
Joy: You’re listening to Season 2 of the Lifting Her Voice podcast. This is Episode #323 and today we’ll read Acts chapters 16&17 together. But Paul called out in a loud voice, “Don’t harm yourself, because we’re all here!
Welcome to the Lifting Her Voice podcast, Season 2! I’m your host, Joy Miller, and I invite you to grab your Bible and join me – from the beginning – simply reading God’s word together. We built some spiritual muscles in 2020 with just the New Testament. But this year we’re going all out, cover-to-cover, Old Testament and New. So, whether with your first cup in the morning, your commute to work, or as the last thing on your mind before sleep, God’s Word will equip you for every good work. I’m really glad you’re here!
Acts Chapter 16
Paul Selects Timothy
Paul went on to Derbe and Lystra, where there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a believing Jewish woman, but his father was a Greek. The brothers and sisters at Lystra and Iconium spoke highly of him. Paul wanted Timothy to go with him; so he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, since they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they traveled through the towns, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem for the people to observe. So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.
Evangelization of Europe
They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia; they had been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. When they came to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. Passing by Mysia they went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision in which a Macedonian man was standing and pleading with him, “Cross over to Macedonia and help us!” After he had seen the vision, we immediately made efforts to set out for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, the next day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, a Roman colony and a leading city of the district of Macedonia. We stayed in that city for several days. On the Sabbath day we went outside the city gate by the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and spoke to the women gathered there. A God-fearing woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, was listening. The Lord opened her heart to respond to what Paul was saying. After she and her household were baptized, she urged us, “If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.
Paul and Silas in Prison
Once, as we were on our way to prayer, a slave girl met us who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She made a large profit for her owners by fortune-telling. As she followed Paul and us she cried out, “These men, who are proclaiming to you a way of salvation, are the servants of the Most High God.” She did this for many days.
Paul was greatly annoyed. Turning to the spirit, he said, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out right away.
When her owners realized that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities. Bringing them before the chief magistrates, they said, “These men are seriously disturbing our city. They are Jews and are promoting customs that are not legal for us as Romans to adopt or practice.” The crowd joined in the attack against them, and the chief magistrates stripped off their clothes and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After they had severely flogged them, they threw them in jail, ordering the jailer to guard them carefully. Receiving such an order, he put them into the inner prison and secured their feet in the stocks.
A Midnight Deliverance
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the jail were shaken, and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains came loose. When the jailer woke up and saw the doors of the prison standing open, he drew his sword and was going to kill himself, since he thought the prisoners had escaped.
But Paul called out in a loud voice, “Don’t harm yourself, because we’re all here!”
The jailer called for lights, rushed in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. He escorted them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved — you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him along with everyone in his house. He took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds. Right away he and all his family were baptized. He brought them into his house, set a meal before them, and rejoiced because he had come to believe in God with his entire household.
An Official Apology
When daylight came, the chief magistrates sent the police to say, “Release those men.”
The jailer reported these words to Paul: “The magistrates have sent orders for you to be released. So come out now and go in peace.”
But Paul said to them, “They beat us in public without a trial, although we are Roman citizens, and threw us in jail. And now are they going to send us away secretly? Certainly not! On the contrary, let them come themselves and escort us out.”
The police reported these words to the magistrates. They were afraid when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens. So they came to appease them, and escorting them from prison, they urged them to leave town. After leaving the jail, they came to Lydia’s house, where they saw and encouraged the brothers and sisters, and departed.
Acts Chapter 17
A Short Ministry in Thessalonica
After they passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. As usual, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and rise from the dead: “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah.” Some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, including a large number of God-fearing Greeks, as well as a number of the leading women.
Riot in the City
But the Jews became jealous, and they brought together some wicked men from the marketplace, formed a mob, and started a riot in the city. Attacking Jason’s house, they searched for them to bring them out to the public assembly. When they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city officials, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too, and Jason has welcomed them. They are all acting contrary to Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king — Jesus.” The crowd and city officials who heard these things were upset. After taking a security bond from Jason and the others, they released them.
The Bereans Search the Scriptures
As soon as it was night, the brothers and sisters sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. Upon arrival, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. The people here were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, since they received the word with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Consequently, many of them believed, including a number of the prominent Greek women as well as men.
But when the Jews from Thessalonica found out that the word of God had been proclaimed by Paul at Berea, they came there too, agitating and upsetting the crowds. Then the brothers and sisters immediately sent Paul away to go to the coast, but Silas and Timothy stayed on there. Those who escorted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving instructions for Silas and Timothy to come to him as quickly as possible, they departed.
Paul in Athens
While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply distressed when he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with those who worshiped God, as well as in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also debated with him. Some said, “What is this ignorant show-off trying to say?”
Others replied, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign deities” — because he was telling the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.
They took him and brought him to the Areopagus, and said, “May we learn about this new teaching you are presenting? Because what you say sounds strange to us, and we want to know what these things mean.” Now all the Athenians and the foreigners residing there spent their time on nothing else but telling or hearing something new.
The Areopagus Address
Paul stood in the middle of the Areopagus and said, “People of Athens! I see that you are extremely religious in every respect. For as I was passing through and observing the objects of your worship, I even found an altar on which was inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God.’ Therefore, what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it — he is Lord of heaven and earth — does not live in shrines made by hands. Neither is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives everyone life and breath and all things.
“From one man he has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live. He did this so that they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also his offspring.’ Since, then, we are God’s offspring, we shouldn’t think that the divine nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image fashioned by human art and imagination.
Proof by Raising from the Dead
“Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has set a day when he is going to judge the world in righteousness by the man he has appointed. He has provided proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”
When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some began to ridicule him, but others said, “We’d like to hear from you again about this.” So Paul left their presence. However, some people joined him and believed, including Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
Enter Timothy. Timothy was a devoted protégé of Paul’s and became a young pastor. Paul wrote two letters to Timothy – which we will read together later – giving him guidance and advice on how best to care for God’s flock and himself.
And what a beautiful example of true faith we have in Paul and Silas. After being unfairly imprisoned and abused, they attract the attention of both prisoners and the head jailer with their praises to God. This story always gives me pause. Do I always act based on what I say I believe? Do I focus on my situation or on the joy I have in the knowledge that God is in control? What do others see in me in challenging conditions? We can learn much from Paul and Silas.
And don’t you love the way Paul uses the altar of the Unknown God to witness to the intellectuals in the Areopagus. I have so much respect for those who can take an ordinary, everyday object and use it as a tool to share the Gospel. The crowded city of Athens was full of idols. Not only did Paul take the opportunity to give definition to their Unknown God, but he also gave the warning that God was requiring repentance from worship of idols. God had overlooked the offense…but now there was Jesus. And then the mention of resurrection brought an abrupt end to the session, didn’t it? But Paul wasn’t put off. He just kept on preaching.
Not So Different From Today
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the riots that went on in Thessalonica and Berea. They were instigated by misplaced motives, power-mongering, and hatred…not unlike what we often see on the nightly news. In my view, riots are not useful. They are hurtful, and if we participate, I don’t think we represent Christ well. I’m grateful that Paul and the saints of the time kept their cool and gave us a blueprint to follow.
Let’s pray. Lord God, we confess to You that too often we are found whining and complaining instead of considering that You have ordained a circumstance for our good and Your glory. Please forgive us. We pray that You would help us to be more like Paul and Silas, always looking for an opportunity to boast in You. Thank You for the men and women You called to grow Your Church. From the apostles to Stephen to Paul and many others, they counted it a privilege to suffer like You did, Jesus. Help us to think less about fighting back and more about serving those around us. Even if we have to take a hit for it. Like You did. Amen.
Thank you for joining me here today. I pray that by spending time in His Word every day, you will be changed. Visit me at Lifting Her Voice.com with your comments and questions. And don’t forget to visit the Blog page while you’re there. If you like the podcast, it would be great if you’d give it a five-star review and share it with everyone you know. Don’t forget to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. See you tomorrow!
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible(r), Copyright (c) 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible(r) and CSB(r) are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
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