Acts 15:36–18:22 comment (0)
July 31, 2008
By Cecil Taylor
Related Scripture: Acts 15:36–18:22
Explore the Bible
Dean, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
ATHENS: FACING QUESTIONS
Contention at Antioch (15:36–40)
When Paul and Barnabas agreed to revisit the places they went on their first trip, Barnabas wanted to take Mark again. Paul refused. This difference led to “sharp contention.” Eventually Barnabas and Mark went to Cyprus; Paul took his new partner, Silas, to Asia Minor. Who was right? Perhaps both. Barnabas was right in wanting to give Mark a second chance; Paul was right in hesitating to trust a deserter. Later Mark proved himself to Paul (cf. 2 Tim. 4:11).
Lystra and Derbe (16:1–5)
Three things of note appear here. First, Paul enlisted Timothy for the mission and had him circumcised because without this, Timothy couldn’t preach in Jewish synagogues. Second, Paul delivered the decrees from the Jerusalem Council. Third, the churches grew numerically and spiritually.
Paul kept trying to preach in the populous province of Asia (Minor), but it didn’t work out. Finally at Troas (ancient Troy), it worked out. Luke also joined Paul and Silas there.
Landing at Neapolis (modern Kavala), Paul and company made their way to Philippi. Around 42 B.C., Caesar Augustus made Philippi a Roman colony, peopled with Roman soldiers and given special privileges, so it could secure Roman control.
Four things happened in Philippi. First, Lydia was converted in a quiet way. There is no evidence her “house” included an infant or child, as advocates of infant baptism hold. Her hospitality proved her conversion. Second, a demon-possessed girl was freed. Her money-hungry masters trumped up charges against Paul and Silas and had them thrown in jail for a hearing. Third, the jailer was converted when the pair told him how believing in the Lord Jesus could save him and his household. Washing the missionaries’ wounds and hosting them in his home proved the jailer’s conversion. Fourth, when they learned the preachers were Roman citizens, officials begged Paul and Silas to leave town quietly because the treatment given them violated Roman law.
Thessalonica and Berea (17:1–14)
In Thessalonica, Paul reasoned in the synagogue, showing that the Bible said the Messiah must suffer and die but that He would rise from the dead and that Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled these prophecies. Jealous Jews enlisted a mob that threw the city into an uproar. Even after Paul left, the persecution of believers went on (1 Thess. 2:14; 3:1–5; 2 Thess. 1:6).
In Berea, too, the success of the mission led to opposition stirred up by Jews from Thessalonica. Paul departed speedily.
In the intellectual center of the Roman world, the sight of multiple pagan idols moved Paul to preach Jesus and His resurrection in the marketplace. The high court of Athens called him to give an account of his teaching.
In his explanation, Paul pointed out that God is a personal, living being that needs nothing from men but gives “all things to all men.” The real God made “from one man” all nations, governs history and is within reach of all that seek Him. He now commands all men everywhere to repent because He will judge all men one day through Jesus.
This judgment is sure because the Judge rose from the dead. Some people mocked the very idea of resurrection, while some said they would address it later. But some stayed to talk to Paul and believed.
Corinth and the Return (18:1–22)
In Corinth, Paul met Aquila and Priscilla, campaigned in the city and appeared before Gov. Gallio on charges he was acting illegally. Gallio threw out of court not only the charges but also the Jews that brought them.
Paul then returned to Antioch. Scholars think the trip lasted three to four years and covered maybe 3,000 miles.