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Friday, December 30 2011

Introduction

Last week's bible study amongst other things highlighted the power of documentation in everything we do, both personally and corporately as the body of Christ (the church). Another very applicable lesson was on conflict resolution using the sharp disagreement between Paul and Barnabas as a case scenario. I recollect a contribution that both were right. Both shunned what the teacher called spiritual hypocrisy and were very moderate in their temper while resolving the issue. I believe we learnt a very good lesson from the study and pray that we will be doers of the word and not hearers only.

Today, we will be looking at three (3) connected, yet distinct scenarios as the ministry journey of Paul and Silas continues, aptly captured by Luke and also detailing some interesting lessons that we can learn as individuals and corporate body. 

Paul and Timothy Vs Paul and Titus: Vs 1-5

The first two verses of this scripture heralds a disciple called Timothy. On their first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas preached in Lystra (Acts 14: 8-19), a city of Lycaonia, and experienced success and persecution. Note that it was at Lystra that ?they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead'. (Vs 19). However, it is likely that a Jewess named Lois, and her daughter Eunice, were converted to Christ during that ministry (See 2Tim1:5). Eunice was married to a Gentile, by whom she had Timothy, probably an only child. Timothy evidently had been instructed in the Jewish religion, but his father refused to allow his son to be circumcised.

When Paul returned to Lystra (also a place of Idolatry) on his second journey, he found Timothy to be a member of the local church and highly recommended by its leaders there and at Iconium.

The Third verse is however very controversial. Just a chapter before, the same Paul and Barnabas were sent to deliver the decision of the Parish Council and other brethren on the documented decree against circumcision of the Gentiles as a mark of salvation. Yet we read that Paul took Timothy and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region. Let us parallel this event with Galatians 2:1-5.

Lessons

1)      An account of where Timothy grew up shows that he lived in a very dangerous place, and yet his testimony was highly respected by the Christians who knew him and his testimony in that dangerous place. Little wonder Paul's admonition in 1Tim 4:12. Thank God for his mother and grandmother's influence on him, even though the father was probably an unbeliever. Though we live in a society whose moral decency is questionable, this is still not enough reason for us as parents and guardians not bringing up God fearing children.

2)      On the controversy of circumcision, since they were going to be ministring among the Jews, Paul admonished Timothy to be circumcised, not for righteousness' sake, but for sake of Christian courtesy in order to avoid offending the Jews since his mother was Jewish. This was not compromise (as proven by the firmness of Paul in the case of Titus who was a Gentile in Gal 2:1-5); it was a mature recognition that social, cultural, and even religious differences should never become more important issues than the simple message of salvation in Christ. See 1 Cor. 9:19-23. (.I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view.).We should, as a church and Christians be careful in handling issues bothering around tradition with great wisdom having the salvation of souls as the ultimate purpose of our calling in the Lord.

The result of Paul's action resulted in ?the churches were strengthened in the faith and increased in number daily' Vs 5

Forbidden By the Holy Spirit - Submission to the Leading of the Holy Spirit : Vs 6 - 10

We would recollect from Acts 13 how the Holy Spirit initiated the first stage of Paul and Barnabas missionary journey. However, the ways in which God guided them (Paul and Silas) to the "second stage" of their mission are both interesting and informative.

Lessons

1)      God first used "closed doors" to guide these missionaries (Vs 6 - 7). They did not interpret this to mean an opposition from the enemy! We should realize that not all open doors are God's doors. Has this principle of God's guidance ever been demonstrated in your life?

2)       If they had disobeyed, I believe they would have missed the Macedonia opportunity. In fact, Paul would not have received the vision. We should know that a closed door simply means that God has a great and effectual door in the waiting! (share)

Riverside Experience: Vs 11 - 15

And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there.(Vs 13 NKJV)

It is recorded that Jewish law required the establishment of a synagogue when there was a population of at least 10 men in a community. The absence of one in Philippi indicates a small Jewish population. Little wonder that there were more women at the riverside. It's however interesting to know how God had planned that people will be saved in the lowly populated city of Macedonia. God opened the heart of just one woman, Lydia from Thyatira, she and her household were saved and baptized! Her salvation led to that of many others subsequently and a church emerged (The Church in Thyatira - Rev 2:18-29)

Also notice the immediate evidence of her salvation in the last verse (Vs 15). God Himself (not us) determines who will be saved. How come it was the heart of Lydia that God opened and not all the women? We need to be very opened and sensitive to God's leading in evangelism. It's God's call and not ours!

CONCLUSION

Paul and Silas proved their faithfulness and loyalty to the cause they believe in by delivering the decrees documented by the elders in Jerusalem in every city they went. Paul also demonstrated great Christian courtesy which we should learn from, to the Jewish believers in circumcising Timothy, resulting in the strengthening of the church and an increase in their numbers. He was however resolute in his stand against circumcision of the Gentiles as we saw in the account of Titus. Wisdom is profitable in all matters. Also, God demonstrated His sovereignty through leading by closed doors and deciding to open the heart of just one woman in order to spread the gospel and save souls in Philippi. We must trust God for grace to follow the Leading of the Holy Spirit at all times.

Contributor: Leye Olayiwola

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 04:45 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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