Acts + Letters Lesson 17 Day 2

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Acts 15:36–16:10

Questions for Acts and Letters of the Apostles Lesson 17


3. Paul and Barnabas disagree about John Mark.

When Paul suggested they revisit the converts from their previous missionary trip, Barnabas made up his mind to take his nephew, John Mark. Paul refused, since Mark deserted them in Pamphylia.

According to Strong’s and Thayer’s definitions of the Greek words used to relay their stand on the subject, both men had made up their minds. So Barnabas determined to take John Mark, and Paul’s negative response is an absolute denial, sometimes translated “God forbid.”

They split up into two teams instead of one. Barnabas took John Mark, and Paul took Silas.

Paul wanted a strong, dependable person to minister along with him. Barnabas had a gift for taking someone under his wing. He “was the first to embrace Paul and help him be accepted among the believers (Acts 9:27).” John Mark later wrote the gospel of Mark, and Paul wrote many of the letters we now study. Paul later changed his mind about Mark because he asked the Colossians to “make Mark welcome if he comes your way.” (Colossians 4:10 NLT).

Paul chose Silas

They became an amazing team. Enduring Word notes the following about Silas:

They recognized him as one of the leading men among the brethren (Acts 15:22).

A prophet (Acts 15:32) and a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37)

He probably spoke Greek (comparing Acts 15:22 and 15:32)

Silas wrote out one of Peter’s letters (1 Peter 5:12) and maybe some of Paul’s (1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 2:1)

Together, Paul and Silas strengthened the assemblies in Syria and Cilicia.

Despite the disagreement, God’s work continued and expanded. I’m wondering if Paul and Barnabas both heard from God from the beginning. Maybe they just assumed this mission trip included both of them going together a second time. Regardless, the outcome encourages me.

“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

4. In Lystra, Paul circumcised Timothy.

Despite the Jerusalem Council’s decision about the circumcision conflict (see Acts Lesson 12 Day 2 and Day 3 ), Paul circumcised Timothy because of the Jews.

During Paul’s previous trip to Lystra, he preached they saw a man born lame in both feet instantly healed when Paul shouted, “Stand upright on your feet!” (See Acts Lesson 11 Day 5) When the crowd saw the miracle, they shouted in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” They called Barnabas “Jupiter”, and Paul “Mercury.” (Acts 14:11-12)

This miraculous event made a lasting impression on the converts there. Timothy, half Jewish, was well-known and had a good reputation. However, the Jews in those parts knew his father was a Greek Gentile.

Here are several commentaries’ views on this topic:

Paul had already argued before the council in Jerusalem that it was not necessary for the Gentiles to be circumcised to be born again (see Acts 15:1). The apostles and elders had agreed with Paul and written letters to support that position (Acts 15:23). So why then did Paul circumcise Timothy “because of the Jews”? It looks like Paul compromised after he had already won the victory.
It is certain that Paul did not circumcise Timothy as a work of the Law for the purpose of justification. That would have been against everything he taught (Galatians 5:2-4). It is possible that he did it as a matter of not giving offense; that would be consistent with his teaching (1 Corinthians 8:9 and 13). When confronted by the legalistic Jews about Titus’ circumcision, Paul refused to compromise on this issue (Galatians 2:3-5). Therefore, it is certain that the circumcision of Timothy was not a reversal of his position on God’s grace. (AWLC)

In Acts 15, Paul argued strongly that it was not necessary for Gentile converts to come under the Law of Moses for salvation (Acts 15:2 and 15:12) . . . Yet, Paul did not contradict his belief or the findings of the council when he [circumcised Timothy]. Paul did this not for Timothy’s salvation or right standing with God, but so that Timothy’s status as a non-circumcised man from a Jewish mother would not hinder their work among the Jews and in synagogues. Paul did things for the sake of love that he would not do for the sake of trying to please God through legalism. Paul insisted that Titus, a Gentile co-worker, did not have to be circumcised (Galatians 2:3-5). (Enduring Word)

Paul, the chief spokesmand of salvation by grace alone, had the half-Jewish Timothy circumcised so that he could take him into the Jewish synagogues. This was not compromise; it was simple Christian courtesy. It was a mature recognition that social, cultural, and even religious diffeneces should never become more important issues than the simple message of salvation in Chirst. (SFLB footnote on Acts 16:3)

5. I sincerely hope and pray my work here strenghtens the Church.

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Unless noted, all Scripture from public domain WEB translation.
My answers to BSF Bible Study Fellowship questions Acts + Letters of the Apostles Lesson 17 Day 2