Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Digging Deeper: The God Who Speaks through the Man from Macedonia

Sometime after the Church in Jerusalem decided to make it easier for Gentiles to enter into the Church, Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” 

Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them, but Paul didn’t think that was a good idea, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia. 

They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. 

Barnabas took John Mark and sailed for Cyprus, and Paul chose Silas and went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. 

Paul and Silas visited Derbe and Lystra. Lystra was a Roman colony and was about 20 miles away from Iconium and 130 miles away from Antioch. Derbe was about 60 miles away from Lystra.

In Lystra, they met Timothy, a disciple who was spoken well of, and decided to take him with them. Timothy was probably a teenager at the time this occurred.

Timothy was considered a half-blood by the Jews because his father was a Greek and his mother was a Jewish Christian. His Greek father is barely mentioned, and he was likely neither a convert to Judaism nor a Christian. 

So Paul circumcised Timothy to prove to the Jews that Timothy was serious about his faith, and to show that God welcomed both Greeks and Jews. This happened so that Timothy’s work among the Jews would be more effective, and it is quite different from the circumstances surrounding Paul’s other student, Titus. In Titus’ case, he is instructed not to be circumcised because some were demanding it as being necessary for salvation. Sorry Timothy…

The text says that the Church kept growing, adding believers, and strengthening in faith daily. 

Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia because the Holy Spirit wouldn’t let them preach the word in the province of Asia. The district of Phrygia was formerly the Hellenistic territory of Phrygia, but it had more recently been divided between the Roman provinces of Asia and Galatia.

When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. Mysia was located in the northwestern part of the province of Asia. Luke used old, Hellenistic names, but Paul preferred the provincial Roman names. Bithynia was a region along the northern edge of Asia Minor by the Black Sea. This area was settled very early, and back in the 6th century B.C., a king of Bithynia invited the Gauls into Asia, which is where we get the name “Galatia” from. This area has been ruled by the Turks since the thirteenth century A.D.

So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. Troas was located 10 miles from ancient Troy, and was a Roman colony and an important seaport for connections between Macedonia and Greece and Asia Minor.

During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 

Luke writes that after Paul had seen the vision, “we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”

At this point in the narrative, it would seem that Luke is not only narrating the story, but participating in it as well. The pronoun “we” suggests that Paul and Luke may have met or joined forces at Troas. Some scholars believe that Luke joined the team as a doctor due to Paul’s health concerns that he mentions in Galatians 4:13.

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