lesson
33

Bible Class
Discussion Guide
by Edward Thomason

Training, edifying, & evangelizing
Acts 16:1-16

 
warm up

Many people have varying ideas about what the work of missionaries and evangelist might entail. What might you do if you were a missionary in a foreign nation in order to help the church be able to continue on long after you have left or come home? Would that work also here in the States?
wise up
  

    The work of Paul and Silas included more than just "preaching the gospel." There was a great need to prepare young men for ministry if the work was to continue and to strengthen and encourage those who would fight the good fight on the home fronts. The process of "training, edifying and evangelizing" is as important today as it ever was. 

I. Selecting workers Vs. 1-3

    1.  Paul must have been looking for good young men to take and train as he traveled into the region of Asia minor and other areas. It is interesting that the young man that would become like a "son" to Paul was found in Lystra, the very place where Paul had been stoned and left for dead. (Acts 14:19-20) Isn't it interesting how in God's providence, something good came from such a bad experience. Had Paul not returned to that place of such heartbreak, he would never have known Timothy. How important is it that young men be sought, trained and encouraged in the work of the church today? 
    2.
What did the brethren in that region think of Timothy? What does that indicate about him? Do you think he was already known as a worker in the church? 
   
3. Timothy came from a "mixed" home. His mother was Jewish but his father was Greek. But it was the faith and godly influence of his mother and grandmother (two generations working together) that Paul attributed to being responsible for Timothy's faith. Cf., 2 Timothy 1:5. Paul may or may not have baptized Timothy, but it was his family that converted him. Discuss how important our families are in developing our faith. Is it true that it is "in the home" (not the Bible class) that children develop or fail to develop their faith. The few minutes a week a child spends in Bible class can only supplement what is being taught at home. Where will the Timothy's of today come from if we fail to teach our sons God's word "at home?" 
   
4. Paul chose to circumcise Timothy as a matter of expediency and not faith. They would be entering Jewish synagogues looking for opportunities to teach and in so doing, Timothy, who was known in that region to be the son of a Gentile would offend the Jews or not be allowed in. Such would hinder the work. What are some things today that we might have to do out of expediency in order to have the opportunity to influence and teach others about Christ? 

II. Strengthening brethren Vs. 4-5
    1. 
The "decrees" of Acts  15:28-29 regarding idolatry, blood, strangulation and fornication (various heathen practices) were being shared with the Gentile brethren as they traveled. Their culture allowed and approved of such things as fornication, but Christians were to learn to walk by a higher morality. There is no doubt that some being taught had some dramatic changes to make in their lives. Yet, the church will not grow strong as long as sinful practices are either ignored or approved. 

   
2. The tendency today in many religious circles is to suggest that we not impose any restrictions on brethren. But when Paul shared God required of them, verse 5 says the churches were strengthened and increased in number. Is it possible that people "expect" and desire moral and ethical codes in religion?

III. Searching for listeners Vs. 6-15
    1. 
In Troas (Paul's home town)
, Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia (Greece) pleading with him to come there and help them. (Vs.9.) Verse 10 says that they concluded from Paul's vision that the Lord had called them to preach in Macedonia. It is interesting to notice the many different ways by which God directed these men.  (Cf., Acts 13:2,9; 16:6; 18:5,9; 20:22-23; 21:4.)  Obviously, there was not just one set way in which God miraculously revealed his will to the apostles. How do men today know the will of God? Eph 3:1-5, 2 Tim 16-17.

   
2. Luke the physician and author of Acts" joined Paul and Silas on their journey while they were at Troas. (Notice the "we" in verse10.) Another good man is recruited to be trained by Paul.
   
3. As they traveled into Europe with the gospel, it was not a "man" as one might expect from Paul's vision, but a "woman" that became the first convert in the chief city of Philippi. What do we learn about Lydia's occupation. Would this have been a profitable business in those days for a woman? Did she own a house large enough to house guests? More importantly, what do we know about her spirituality at the time of Paul's visit? What was she doing when they first met? 
   
4. The statement that the Lord opened her heart (vs14) does not tell us how he did that. The most natural and likely explanation is meant that the word of God, when preached, touched her heart. God's word is like "a two edge sword" (Heb 4:12.) It pricks and pierces. When Paul preached the gospel to Lydia it was like open heart surgery with God being the surgeon, the word his scalpel and Paul assisting. The power is in the gospel not the preacher and God can open hearts today in the same manner. 
    5. What did Lydia do as a result of having attended to the things Paul spoke? Evidently this occurred that same day and before she invited these men to be her guests in her home. Who else was baptized?

wrap up

   1.  Training, edifying, evangelizing, and baptizing... this is the work that Paul and Silas were able to accomplish. No better work can be done today!

Assignment

  Please read Acts 16:16-40 for next week    copyright 2001