Acts 15-16

Paul's 1st Missionary Journey- Lystra – Mission Bible Class

Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.”

Remember map directions were given by elevation.  Jerusalem was in the middle of 3 mountains.  Straight downhill to Antioch.  But more importantly, what these “certain people” were saying was seriously wrong.  We call these people Judaizers.

In the early church, Judaizers taught a combination of God’s grace, and human effort was required for Salvation.   A Judaizer taught that, in order for a Christian to truly be right with God, he must conform to the Law. Circumcision, especially, was promoted as necessary for salvation. Gentiles had to become Jewish proselytes first, and then they could come to Christ. The doctrine of the Judaizers was a mixture of grace (through Christ) and works (through the keeping of the Law). This false doctrine will be handled by Luke (author of Acts) and Paul Acts 15 and strongly condemned in the book of Galatians. (we read that book next)

Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.”

Listen, you can’t blame them for holding to circumcision as a requirement after the way they were brought up BUT they are showing “favoritism” for the Jews.   They believed they must become a Jew first. (The scriptures addressed favoritism in James yesterday)

Paul’s response is BEAUTIFUL-

God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.

Here is another lesson for us this year as we read through the Bible.  If you are going to share Doctrine…you need to support it directly from the Scriptures. (Both OT and NT). So Paul supports this with a quote from Amos 9:11-12.

THEN Paul tells them 3 things they “need” to do.  Well, isn’t that an oxymoron since we just said they were purified by Faith and Faith alone?  Verse 20 says:

  • Instead, we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, 
  • from sexual immorality, 
  • from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.

These are ALL related to Pagan Worship.  You cannot worship the Lord and a pagan god.  Remember to always take scripture in context.  I have seen people take the sexual immorality one here and smack someone with it like it was an abomination. In context,  they would prostitute themselves with others or with animals for the sole purpose of idol worship of a god.  (no google image insert needed here 🤮)

They sent them a letter freeing them of these practices and they were relieved.  (wouldn’t you be 😂)

Verse 15:36 Starts Paul’s SECOND Misson.

If this map overwhelms you here is an easier one

Paul's Second Missionary Journey - New Testament Maps (Bible History Online)

Clearly, Paul had a beef with Mark but  Barnabus liked him.  So they parted ways.  Who cares??  Divide and conquer I say.  I know a lot of people I don’t like but that doesn’t mean God isn’t using them for His purpose…I am just not going to road trip with them.

Chapter 16

Enter stage left…Timothy!  Here is what we know:

  • His mom is Jewish
  • His dad is a Gentile (greek)
  • Paul circumcised him for the mission.

Wait!  Flag on the field!  Didn’t we JUST say believers did not have to be circumcised??

  1.  Paul’s ministry of converts that did get circumcised are feeling criticized.
  2. Paul is also proving to the Jews that he is not opposed to circumcision.  It’s not needed for Salvation BUT we are not against it!  (Such modern-day application here!). We need to be very careful we don’t offend traditions WHILE sharing the Truth with them.  (Do I need to repeat that?

Follow your map.   We are now in Phillipi:  If we widened the camera lens or panned left we would see the Macedonia area is just east of Rome.  Phillipi is a major trading area on the way to Rome. Very cultural, wealthy, and diverse.  This is not going to be easy!

Three major events happen there:

  1. Lydia’s conversion.  From the clues in the text we know she has money and is possibly a widow.
  2. The exorcism of demons from a slave girl, which resulted in Paul and Silas being thrown into prison
  3. The conversion of the Philippian jailer and his family

If any of you are taking notes there are so many in this Jail scene!  So many parallels to the Cross

  • Set in motion by greed and a false accusation, and evidently causing an uproar
  • The crowd joined in on the attack
  • They were beaten with a rod and severely flogged
  • Illegal trial
  • Feet were bound
  • The earth shook and the veil was torn, I mean the prison gate was open
  • Found alive-the message of Salvation was proclaimed
  • Deeds FROM faith were performed
  • He ate with them
  • Before leaving he spoke a word to encourage them


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