Saturday 16 May 2015

Bible Book:

“... being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.” (v. 10b)

Acts 16:1-15 Saturday 16 May 2015

Psalm: Psalm 9:1-10



In today's passage we are introduced to Timothy, one of Paul'spartners in his missionary trips. It is interesting that theinteraction described here follows on from the first ever churchcouncil meeting in Jerusalem, which set out how Gentile(non-Jewish) believers should relate to the law of Moses. Thecouncil meeting determined that Gentiles should not be burdenedwith Jewish laws, except in two areas relating to food and onerelating to sexual morality (Acts15:29). Timothy himself is in an in-between position with aJewish mother and a Gentile father, so he is technically Jewish,but has not been circumcised.

Paul takes the decision to have Timothy circumcised - there is noindication what Timothy, as an adult, thought of this! Paul doesthis to avoid a negative reception from Jewish people in missionareas. They presumably already knew that Timothy was notcircumcised, as they knew that his father was a Gentile. Paul'sdecision to circumcise Timothy is interesting, because the rulingof the Jerusalem council was that it was not necessary (Acts15:19), but in doing so Paul avoided a potential stumblingblock when Timothy was working with him to promote the gospel (goodnews of Jesus). This was an exception to his own rule in 1Corinthians 7:18, "Was anyone at the time of his calluncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision". Paul's decisionshows us how important it was to him that his message should beunhindered and shows him putting into practice his principle ofbeing "all things to all people, that I might by all means savesome" (1 Corinthians 9:22).

Strangely, the biggest 'obstacle' to Paul's missionary journeys inthis passage is from the Holy Spirit, who forbids him to "speak theword" in Asia (v. 6). The same thing happens when he tries to go toBithynia (on the shores of the Sea of Marmara which connects theBlack Sea to the Aegean Sea). He has more success in proclaimingthe good news in Macedonia where "the Lord opened [Lydia's] heartto listen eagerly to what was said by Paul" (v. 14).


To Ponder

  • What are your thoughts on the rulings of the council ofJerusalem?
  • What contact do you have with people of mixed backgrounds whohave links to two distinct traditions?
  • How conscious are you of the Holy Spirit shutting some doorsand opening others?
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