ACTS 16


1 Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek:

It is clear that a devoted young man, to take care of the many details of travelling, would be a tremendous advantage in the work, and the loss of such, in the middle of the journey, a great blow and handicap to them. Twelve years later, Timothy is still especially noted for his youth, so at this time he must have been very young indeed, most probably in his teens.



3 Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.

There are always those who are eagerly looking for "inconsistencies" to condemn in their brethren, and here indeed is a perfect example-

"Paul! You said,

'If ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.'

But here when faced with a problem yourself, you directly violate that principle, just as an expediency to save yourself trouble with the Jews!"

We know there was no inconsistency. We know Paul's motives in both cases were perfectly correct, and completely harmonious with each other. We see the picture clearly. But how can you convince someone who is seeking for something to find fault with, and to use to discredit someone? The scriptural command is, over and over-

"JUDGE NOT, THAT YE BE NOT JUDGED."

With our puny little limited minds, it is impossible for us to judge fairly, even if we should have all the facts. And we never have ALL the facts.

This is not to say that there must not be a strong fellowship stand, strongly adhered to. Otherwise we would all be in the Catholic Church. We must decide where the fellowship line is, and we must faithfully adhere to it, very gently and kindly, but very firmly.

But we must never judge motives, or seek occasions of fault-finding, or believe and peddle hurtful rumours, or talk behind peoples' backs, or speak of sins-either real or supposed-TO ANYONE EXCEPT THE PERSON INVOLVED. In doing such, we condemn ourselves. The stern penalties of the law of Christ are very fearful against any of these fleshly abominations-

"AS YE JUDGE, SO SHALL YE BE JUDGED."

Many do not seem to realize the terrible judgment in store for those who accept Christ, and then violate his laws of brotherliness and kindness.

Bro Growcott - Tribulation Worketh Patience



6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia,

They made the circuit of the ecclesias, confirming the disciples. Then they considered where to go next. Did the Spirit guide them? Not at all, except negatively. They apparently first considered going to Asia. This refers to the western end of Asia Minor, centered around Ephesus. This would be the logical move on the basis of Paul's pattern of moving gradually west by way of great cities.

But the Spirit just forbad them to go to Asia. So they headed north for Bithynia, but again the Spirit said no. They had tried west and north, and been barred, so they tried northwest, in between, and this time they were permitted to proceed.

Why did God act like this? And why are we told about it? Surely to teach us essential lessons. We have got to have patience, and we have got to have faith, and we have got to have complete, calm, unworried dependence. Answers will come, when they are needed.

So they finally by trial and error, reached the coast at Troas, at the northwest tip of Asia Minor, opposite Europe. And still the destination God had in mind for them has not been revealed. But after they reached Troas, Paul had the vision of the man of Macedonia, calling for help. Even then there was no direct in­struction. How easy for God to have said at the very beginning-

"Don't waste your time trying this direction and that direction. Go straight to Macedonia."

But God, in His Own good wisdom, did not choose to do it that way. They still, by putting everything together, had to reach the conclusion that this appeared to be what God wanted them to do. And this time they were right.

Surely this whole impressive train of events is to emphasize our day-to-day dependence on the guidance of God. As soon as He tells us too far ahead, as soon as we begin to confidently plan for the future, as soon as problems seem to be clearing up and answers seem to be coming, we begin to lose touch-to lose the urgent sense of the need of daily guidance. Right away we relax. Our minds-released from pressure-turn to worldly things. We begin to build sepulchres on high, as if this were our eternal resting place.

Bro Growcott - Tribulation worketh patience



9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.

The Gospel in Macedonia


Luke informs us in Acts 16. that in a vision Paul had, there stood before him a man of Macedonia, who entreated him to come over to that country, and help them.

This was regarded by Paul and his companions as a vision from the Lord, calling upon them to announce the glad tidings in Macedonia.

They had assayed to "preach the Word" to the idolators in the provinces of Anatolia, called Asia and Bithynia, but had been forbidden by the Holy Spirit. The cause of this interdict is not stated.

The province of Asia contained the seven apocalyptic ecclesias which were, doubtless, already existing there [Acts 2: 9]; and Bithynia, also, was not destitute of the truth. But the time and circumstances were not yet quite appropriate for the annunciation of "The Fellowship of the Mystery" among them; importing

"that the Gentiles (or pagans) should be fellow heirs (of the kingdom with the saints of Israel), and of the same body (that is, of the 'One Body'), and partakers of God's promise concerning the Anointed  through the glad tidings."

Having proclaimed the christ[adelphian] fellowship of Jew and Gentile in the Syrian Antioch, Seleucia, Cyprus, Perga, Antioch in Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, and Attalia, they were directed to visit the country west of Constantinople, and north of the Ægean Sea, where, it is probable, Christ[adelphian]-Jewish prejudices were not so strong as in Asia and Bithynia.

In the region of country indicated, and not far from the sea, stood the City of Philippi, so called after Philip, King of Macedon, and father of Alexander the Great, "the great horn of the rough goat" of Dan. 8:21. This region was Macedonia Prima, and Philippi was a Roman colony; so that the Philippians, though Macedonian born, were Roman citizens as they declared.-Verse 21.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul styles his labours among them, at this time,

"the beginning of the Gospel" (ch. 4:15),

that is, that the glad tidings of the Fellowship began to be proclaimed to the "untaught Gentiles" of Macedonia when he responded to the prayer, "Come over to Macedonia and help us!" Now, Macedonia contained many cities, among which were Amphipolis, Apollonia, Thessalonica, and Berea. All these Paul visited as well as Philippi, announcing in one the same glad tidings as in all the rest.

...Thus, when he visited Thessalonica, he gave them to understand that he was the bearer of an invitation to them from the living and true God of Israel, who had commanded him to invite them to his kingdom and glory. Many of the idolatrous Macedonians there accepted the invitation joyfully [1 Thss 2: 12] when they discovered that it was genuine-that it was no fiction, but a word sent to them from heaven, and therefore styled "the Word of God," in deed and in truth, being confirmed by the power of God.

This created in them a hope which was the "one hope of the calling," or invitation; so that he could address them as he could not address their idolatrous friends, saying,

"be not as the others, who have no hope."

Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Aug 1857




14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.


Lydia, a seller of purple - in which occupation, she is called upon to minister to the pride of life as indulged by her lady patrons [In the world not of it 1Cor 7: 20 TC 12/1872].


SAYING AND DOING


The world is drunk with religion.‭ ‬Not altogether drunk with crime of the grosser sorts‭; ‬but dead drunk with religion.‭ ‬And nationally considered,‭ ‬none have escaped-no,‭ ‬none of the so-called civilised nations of the earth.‭ ‬They have all long ago been made drunk with the wine of fornication.‭ ‬They have prostituted the word of the most high God.‭ ‬They reel to and fro‭; ‬they are heavy with sleep‭; ‬they can only hear enough of the voice of truth to madden them against the speaker.‭ ‬But whether they will hear or whether they will forbear,‭ "‬he that hath the truth must speak,‭ ‬and must not keep silent.‭" ‬He must‭ "‬lift up his voice like a trumpet,‭ ‬and shew the people their transgressions.‭"

‭... ‬Many will say unto me in that day,‭ ‬Lord,‭ ‬Lord,‭ ‬have we not prophesied‭ (‬preached,‭ &‬c.‭) ‬in thy name‭? ‬and in thy name have cast out devils‭? (‬this has been largely professed both in ancient and modern times‭) ‬and in thy name done many wonderful works‭?-‬sent out missionaries,‭ ‬carried on revivals,‭ ‬sprinkled babies,‭ ‬sent souls to hell-fire for evermore,‭ ‬killed bodies by the thousand in‭ "‬holy wars,‭" ‬burnt heretics,‭ ‬told the people they had better not study the scriptures,‭ ‬appointed bishops and pastors who could not read their mother tongue,‭ ‬administered the consolations of religion to murderers,‭ ‬sent kings direct to heaven from the guillotine,‭ ‬blessed the army and navy,‭ ‬extolled national robbers,‭ ‬consecrated ground for the interment of rogues and vagabonds,‭ ‬styled every scamp‭ "‬this our dear brother,‭" ‬in putting him out of sight,‭ ‬and written themselves down‭ "‬miserable sinners‭; " ‬all this,‭ ‬and much more than we can now call to mind,‭ ‬or care to try.‭ ‬These‭ "‬works‭" ‬are truly‭ "‬wonderful.‭" ‬They are unmistakably the works of the flesh,‭ ‬and of the devil,‭ "‬Lying wonders‭" ‬of the pious sort.

...The Acts of the Apostles contain several remarkable instances of pious ignorance,‭ ‬and from the treatment of the persons,‭ ‬no doubt can remain upon the mind of any sensible man as to the value which heaven puts upon mere sincerity.‭ ‬There is Cornelius,‭ "‬a devout man,‭ ‬and one that feared God,‭ ‬gave much alms to the people,‭ ‬and prayed to God alway.‭"-(‬Acts‭ x. ‬2.‭) ‬Were Cornelius now alive,‭ ‬he would no doubt be esteemed as a real christian.‭ ‬No clergyman would require more of any man than is said of Cornelius‭; ‬and be it observed,‭ ‬said of him‭ ‬in the days of his ignorance.‭ ‬For notwithstanding these good qualities,‭ ‬the centurion was not a Christian.‭

He had not heard‭ ‬the word of the truth.‭ ‬He had not therefore been made clean,‭ ‬or sanctified,‭ ‬by it‭; ‬he was not holy,‭ ‬and consequently,‭ ‬could not‭ "‬see the Lord.‭" ‬However,‭ ‬he was teachable,‭ ‬which cannot be said of many who claim sincerity.‭ ‬By divine command,‭ ‬he sent for Peter,‭ "‬to hear words of‭" ‬him.‭ ‬The words Peter uttered pertained to the kingdom:‭ ‬they concerned the Lord Jesus:‭ ‬they made known the remission of past sins,‭ ‬and union with his name,‭ ‬and hope of eternal life when he should sit on the throne of his father David.‭ ‬Cornelius heard and obeyed.‭ ‬Peter told him what he‭ "‬ought to do,‭ " ‬and he complied.‭ ‬Only thus can a man be saved.

Look at‭ "‬the religious experience‭" ‬of Lydia,‭ ‬whom Paul met at Philippi,‭ ‬the chief city of Macedonia.‭ ‬This woman was doubtless a model of piety.‭ ‬Like Cornelius,‭ ‬she was devout,‭ ‬prayerful.‭ ‬Paul found her in a place‭ "‬where prayer was wont to be made.‭" "‬She worshipped God.‭" ‬But how‭? ‬According to the dictates of her own conscience,‭ ‬and in all sincerity,‭ ‬doubtless.‭ ‬Well,‭ ‬was that enough‭? ‬No,‭ ‬it was not.‭ ‬Her heart was fast closed.‭ ‬She had not‭ "‬obeyed from the heart‭ ‬that form of doctrine‭" ‬which Paul preached for salvation.‭

She was not,‭ ‬however,‭ ‬obstinate,‭ ‬but attentive‭; ‬and by Paul's preaching,‭ ‬the Lord‭ "‬opened her heart.‭" ‬He enlightened her understanding,‭ ‬and she believed the things concerning the kingdom of God,‭ ‬preached everywhere by Paul,‭ ‬and was immersed upon the name of the Lord Jesus into remission of sins.‭ ‬And‭ "‬how shall‭ ‬we escape if‭ ‬we neglect so great salvation‭; ‬which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord,‭ ‬and was confirmed unto the apostles by them that heard him‭?"-(‬Heb.‭ ii. ‬3.‭)

‭Ambassador of the Coming Age, June 1868



16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:

If this woman's divination was not an imposture, and her masters' profit, not a gaining of money by false pretences-they would not have raised the tumult they did, for reasons so false as these-that the apostles

"troubled their city by teaching customs unlawful for Romans."

This proves her masters even did not believe in her themselves; and the sequel, that the spirit with which she was possessed was as a living spirit, as much of a lie as was the soothsaying by which it was distinguished.

It was not a spirit separable from her character, it was not an individual lodging within her, of which she was the mere instrument or agent. It was simply fanaticism, purely engendered within her, by Pythian worship-the superstition which so long emanated from the famous oracle of Apollo at Delphos, and therefore a spirit, quite characteristic of every other idolatrous or evil spirit-"a spirit of Python," (see margin)-a character in harmony with the superstition.

Apollo was a high god among the Greeks. "He worshipped at Delphos under the name of the Pythian, derived from the serpent Python he had killed." Hence the kind of spirit this damsel possessed, a spirit derived from no real being, save from persons of her own nature and sex-the priestesses of Delphos.

Their divinations were all practised under the influences of intoxication, fury, and madness; and as far as she could, she had imitated them. This was the sort of spirit, and inasmuch as it was but an affection of the mind, call it by what name we please, brought about the teaching she had received. Paul in his relieving her of it could not have cast an individual out of her. He did a more wonderful miracle than such as that could have been.

He converted the mind and affections, and in doing this, performed at a stroke, what a life-time of training and education could only, or failed to have done. He simply "converted her from darkness to light from the power" or superstition of Python-or Satan, if you will, for one person is as much a myth as the other-to the power of God.

The Ambassador of the Coming Age, May 1869



17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.

If we would make headway in the Spirit's teaching, we must read, and we must study. Our reading, too, must be of the right kind. Some brethren, those to wit, who have thrown over the Bible, and deny Christ's resurrection-have read, and have studied, and yet in divine knowledge have become absolutely foolish.

The book to read is the Bible, and after the Bible, the works of men who have best understood the Bible. Can we name such works? Yes, here is a list of the eight best books in the world: Eureka, Elpis Israel, Phanerosis, Christendom Astray, Nazareth Revisited, The Ways of Providence, Seasons of Comfort, The Law of Moses.

These are the books which should first find a place in a brother's bookcase-the books to consult before reference is made to the unreliable commentaries of the clergy-the books that ought to be found in every Christadelphian library throughout the land-the books which we should encourage our children, our friends, and our enemies to read.

In speaking thus, are we indulging in fulsome praise? Friends of the truth will not say so. These books, and no one can disprove the statement, reveal to us, as no other writings in existence do, the way of salvation-they enlighten, and create faith-expose the deadly errors of popular theology-unfold to us the wonderful depth and beauty of divine revelation-solve problems, and thresh out difficulties which perplex and baffle the ordinary man-reach an altitude in understanding which none of us, ere Christ comes, can ever expect to reach, let alone excel. Emphatically can we say of the authors of these books,

Bro AT Jannaway

The Christadelphian, Nov 1905



30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

What must a man do to be saved?


This question is the most important of any among men.

There are very few, however, among the living who can answer it aright, the reason of which is not difficult to conceive. The thinking of the flesh (to phronema tees sarkos) educational bias, veneration for mere human authority, love of popularity, lack of independence, fear of persecution and pecuniary loss, a spurious charity, or ignorance, have all more or less to do with the inability of the people's prophets to give the scriptural answer, which is the only true response extant, and the only one admissible by the inquirer to this vital and all-absorbing question.

Mystery of the Covenant of the Holy Land explained - Herald 10/1855



31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

Things to be Believed Before Immersion


As to the case of the Phillippian jailor, we moderns can safely found nothing upon it, because it was not a case which modern circumstances at all affected. Paul was at his right hand, and

"spoke to him the words of the Lord."-Acts 16:31.

Now, Paul was not in the position of a man who has to prove all he says out of the Word. He spoke with authority as the apostle of the Lord. Therefore, it was sufficient for the jailor to listen to what he had to say. To hear, in his case, was to believe, and, therefore, he could know much in a short time-more in an hour than some of us may attain to in years.

Our safety lies in submitting ourselves to the positive apostolic indications of a pre-immersional faith. These are not few or doubtful when read one with the other. Paul says,

"He that cometh unto God must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of such as diligently seek Him."-Heb. 11:6.

Jesus amplifies this in saying,

"This is eternal life to know Thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent."-John 17:3.

This is further drawn out in 1 John 5:10,

"He that believeth not God, hath made him a liar, because he believeth not the record which God gave of His Son. And this is the record that God hath given to us, eternal life, and this life is in His Son."

Looking closer, we find the following enumeration of other points contained in the gospel "by which we are saved":-Christ died; was buried; rose again the third day; was seen of sundry witnesses.-1 Cor. 15:1-8. Again, that there is a day in which God shall judge the secrets of men by Christ at his coming.-Rom. 2:16; 2 Tim. 4:1. Further, that a definition of the hope laid up for believers is set forth in the gospel:

"Whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel.-Col. 1:5.

Therefore, that the gospel contains an enunciation of the kingdom, because this is the thing hoped for, God having promised it to them that love Him -James 2:5, and being the thing to which believers are called 1 Thess. 2:12; which they are to inherit.-Matt. 25:34.

The gospel is, therefore, the gospel of the kingdom -Acts 20:25; Luke 8:1. The resurrection to immortality is also the hope of believers - Jno. 11:25; 1 Thess. 4:13-18. If they heard of their hope "in the word of the truth of the gospel," the word of the truth of the gospel, as apostolically defined, contained a declaration of this matter.

These items, set forth in order (as unquestionable elements of the pre-immersional faith of apostolic preaching), would stand as follows:-

1. The "only true God," (the one God and Father revealed to Israel: who is above all and through all).

2. That he requires diligent seeking for him on the part of all who would find him, and that he is not indifferent to such, but will reward them.

3. That Jesus Christ hath been sent by Him.

4. That he was sent to give eternal life, and that it is not to be had apart from him.

5. That the process of giving it was by dying for our sins, being buried, rising again, and showing himself to witnesses.

6. That he will return and declare to all assembled in his presence which of them are worthy of the eternal life, and dispense it accordingly.

7. That he will, thereafter, establish his kingdom-(the kingdom of David) and give his accepted people a place therein.

These are seven rough indications of the elements of the gospel deducible from the few testimonies quoted almost at random in the third paragraph. They are more than borne out by all a man may learn by a closer study of the holy oracles. They are comprehended in the more precise formula,

"the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ."-Acts 8:12.

They obviously include some things not expressed; such as the promises to the fathers on which they are based-(Rom. 15:8; Gal. 3:16, 29); the restoration of the kingdom to Israel-(Acts 1:6: 26:6: 28:11); that Jesus was not a mere man but the offspring of the Holy Spirit-(Matt. 1:2); the Word made flesh-(John 1:14); God with men-(Matt. 1:22: 2 Cor. 5:19: 1 Thess. 3:16); that man is not immortal, nor saints made immortal now, nor till they meet Christ at his coming; that there is no eternal torment, that there are not three eternal Gods, and so on.

There are also other matters not stated which are essentially involved in the apostolic definition of the gospel, and without which, a mutilated and powerless gospel would be the result, such as the forgiveness of sins on the obedience of faith in baptism; the priestly intercession of Christ for such as thus constitute themselves of his household, the obligation in all such to walk in the light, denying themselves ungodliness and worldly lusts, and living soberly, righteously, and godly in the present world.

It is quite possible to give all these their proper place mentally, without formulating them in words. It is well, however, that they should be distinctly visible to the understanding, and this perhaps is best secured by defining them. On the other hand. it is impossible to give such a definition of the elements of the faith as shall command the assent of all minds or shut the door against the misunderstandings of such as lack the power to deal with the superficial obscurities necessarily incident to divine truth in present circumstances.

Even the apostles were not able so to set forth a form of sound words as to shut the mouths of, it may be, well meaning cavillers and honest but thickheaded critics. Where they failed, none, in the absence of Christ, may hope to succeed. The most we can do is to obtain a recognition of the truth at the hands of such as have senses exercised by reason of use to discern both good and evil.

If this is secured, we may be well content, even if embarrassed by the flounderings of some who ever learn but are never able to reach a definite conviction as to truth and duty in the dark night of the Gentiles in which our lot is cast.

The Christadelphian, Jan 1872