Previously, there was a split between Paul and Barnabas.
Paul wanted them to return to previously evangelized churches and strengthen them.
Barnabas wanted to take Mark, but Paul didn’t. Paul thought he had abandoned them earlier. The disagreement became so heated, that the two split.
Paul took Silas.
So, rather than one missionary journey, there were two. God made the best of the bad situation. (lemonade from lemons)
Later, Paul changed his attitude toward Mark and they did eventually minister together again. There was no bitter root that took hold, they did eventually reconcile.
So, Paul and Silas visited Syria and Silicia, then Derbe (on the first journey – with Barnabas – they’d won many converts). Luke doesn’t give details about their activities there, but in Lystra (where Paul had healed a man lame from birth) all the men treated the two as gods – but they insisted they were men, not gods.
Jews came from other cities and stoned Paul and dragged him out, but then Paul rose up, returned, and went on to Derbe (the first time).
Now, Paul is coming back to Derbe and Lystra – and this is the first mention of Timothy in the NT. Son of Eunice – woman, father was probably Greek. Paul saw good potential in him, but there was a problem. Timothy was not circumcised…
The father had not allowed circumcision, but had allowed his mother to teach the Jewish Scriptures. So, in the eyes of the Jews, he would be considered a Jew by birth (mother), but an apostate (someone who has turned from the faith) because he was uncircumcised.
So to overcome this dilemma, Paul had Timothy circumcised, not for salvation purposes, but for expediency. Circumcision is of no matter to Paul (he writes elsewhere in Romans, it is circumcision of the heart that matters), but this will allow Timothy to join Paul without tons of disputes from the orthodox Jews.
Paul calls Timothy, “my son, whom I love” and recognizes that Timothy’s thinking is very much like his own. “I have no one else like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state.”
Eventually, Timothy is ordained in the ministry, he has a special spiritual gift, given through divine revelation and in 1 Timothy 4 he says “do not neglect your gift.”
Timothy remains close to Paul, as a successor, up to his death (almost his adopted son).
Having Timothy circumcised was a simple public relations ploy to force the Jews to accept him.
Paul accepted and brought Greeks, uncircumcised people, and anyone into the temple to worship. So, the Jews – the legalistic or non-Christian ones – hated him and spoke against him and prayed against him.
So, he circumcised Timothy to avoid problems with the others.
Now, the two of them travel from town to town delivering decrees that say “you need not be circumcised.” Ironic that Timothy was circumcised and now delivering these messages. But, if Timothy had not been circumcised, he could not have had access to the towns and people.
Previously, the 4 provisions, no strangled meat, no blood, no idol meat, no sexual immorality, were imposed upon the new believers (instead of circumcision). These were the messages they were delivering.
The towns they traveled to were all along a long highway. Perhaps Paul intended to continue along to Ephesus, the capital of Rome in Asia. However, in verse 6, they were prevented from continuing along.
Paul’s missionary journeys were coupled with keen planning and sensitivity to the Spirit of God. At that time, they were moved to not go on.
God has his own timing and his own ways of dealing with these towns, spreading the gospel and so on. So, the next logical decision was to head to the coast – Troas – an important port, connecting Europe and Asia Minor.
Paul has a vision, “Come to Macedonia and help us.” Now, the prompting of the Spirit makes sense, God was directing them this way.
This is the first of the “we” sections of Acts – Luke writes “We got ready at once… concluding that God had called us…”
Luke apparently joined Paul there at Troas, as they prepared to set out.
There’s no indication that Paul preached anywhere along the way, but Luke writes next of Philippi – named after Philip II of Macedonia (the father of Alexander the Great). It became part of Rome in 167 BC. When Mark Anthony defeated Brutus and Cassius (Shakespeare – based on history), many Roman veterans were settled in Philippi – so it became a Roman colony.
Luke writes of the conversion of Lydia.
Paul usually went to a synagogue and preached and taught there, but today, they went to a river where they thought there would be a prayer meeting. Perhaps there was no synagogue in town, needed at least 10 Jewish men – heads of the family – to establish a synagogue.
Here is Lydia, a trader of purple clothes.
She might have been a Jew, or might have been a proselyte (convert).
Luke 16:19, there was a certain rich man clothed in purple.
Likely, Lydia herself was rich. Either single, or a widow. She owns her own home, provides hospitality to the travelers, indicates that she is well off (rich).
God opened her heart to receive their message. Luke 24:31, Luke writes of God opening other hearts on the road to Emmaus after Jesus’ death and resurrection. “Their eyes” were opened – and they recognized Jesus as he broke bread with them – and he vanished.
Luke 24:32 – “Were not our hearts burning…as he OPENED up the Scriptures…”
Luke 24:44-45 “These are my words which I spoke to you…that all things which are written about me (in the Bible) must be fulfilled, then He opened their minds to understand.”
Jesus enlightens their understanding of the Scriptures. Everything points to Jesus.
Every Story Whispers His Name (Jesus Storybook Bible)
Jesus opens minds to understand.
Luke follows Paul and says “People cannot understand the gospel because the devil blinds their eyes.”
Interesting. People CANNOT believe or understand the gospel because they are blinded – by Satan. Only Jesus can bring understanding and enlightening. The Holy Spirit works through the preaching, the testimony of the word of God, to open eyes and minds. Yet, still, even after understanding, there must be a response.
We must confess, repent, forsake our sins. Turn from our old lives, our evils, our sins, turn to Jesus for salvation, forgiveness, and cleansing. There is no other way to salvation.
Lydia’s baptism takes place quickly afterward. She and her household become the first converts in Europe – as far as we know.
Verse 15 – This was a favorable beginning to their ministry in Philippi, but later they run into problems…
The Philippi church generously supported Paul in his ministry – he writes in Philippians that that church was the most generous and even gave when no others gave.
“He who began a good work in you, will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”