“Strengthening the Number of Gentile Churches”
Paul’s Second Missionary Journey
And with these verses, we’ve begun the 2nd Missionary Journey.
Check map. C:\Users\greg\Documents\Bible Documents\LectureNotes\Acts. 2nd Semester\Pauls First and Second Missionary Journeys.png [note cities]
This time it’s Paul, Silas, and Timothy to go on the journey. They visit Philippi (16:11–40), Thessalonica (17:1–9), Berea (17:10–15), Athens (17:16–34), Corinth (18:1–17), and Ephesus (18:18–21).
Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth, and Ephesus each contain similar events.
1. Christians are brought before accusers.
2. They are accused via direct quotations.
In Philippi and Ephesus the accusers are Gentiles. In Thessalonica and Corinth, the accusers are Jews. The Jews in Berea and the Gentiles in Athens are not positive responses but are not violent.
Troas: Macedonian vision (16:6–10)
Philippi: Lydia saved and household, slave girl exorcised, arrest, jailer saved and household, Paul confronts magistrates, Lydia and others strengthened
Thessalonica: Conversions, confrontation, secret departure to Berea
Berea: Conversions, confrontation, Paul sent away to Athens
Athens: Mars Hill witness and responses
Corinth: Aquilla and Priscilla, conversions
Acts 16:6–10 6 Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. 7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. 8 So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.
They are rejected twice before having clear direction. They were rejected from going into Asia as well as Bithynia by the Holy Spirit.
And then the man, who lives in Macedonia, appeared to Paul in a vision at night. They conclude that the Lord had called him to preach the gospel in Macedonia. “We” likely indicates that Luke is with them.
So, now they go over to Macedonia, the region across the Aegean sea.
Check map. C:\Users\greg\Documents\Bible Documents\LectureNotes\Acts. 2nd Semester\Pauls First and Second Missionary Journeys.png
Lydia in Philippi
Paul leads a woman’s Bible study … and the gospel is powerful to convert.
Acts 16:11–15 11 Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and the next day came to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, [took them 2 days] which is the foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony. And we were staying in that city for some days. 13 And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there.
The four men go to the riverside on the Sabbath day, since there was no synagogue there. There are not enough Jewish people here to form a synagogue, according to tradition. So they simply look for a river to find Jews. They find some women.
14 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira [a business woman], who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. 15 And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” So she persuaded us.
Lydia “worshiped God,” which means that she was a Gentile convert to Judaism. Paul preached the gospel to her and the Lord opened her heart. Paul gladly preached to just these women.
Her entire household believes and is baptized. She immediately practices hospitality to these men of God and they stay at her house.
This is how the whole ministry at Philippi begins! One lady getting saved and then a whole congregation forms up. Paul would later write to the Philippians, along with the elders and deacons.
Note: the contrast of the women.
Slave girl exorcised
Acts 16:16 16 Now it happened, as we went to prayer (next to the river again), that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling.
Acts 16:17 17 This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.”
As Paul continued ministering, this demonicly-empowered girl pointed others to them. She had a spirit of divination. She revealed the future to those paying the right price to her masters.
Satan here is seen as forming an alliance with the gospel (“these men are the servants of the most high God…”). And he’ll want to use that for his own purpose and to twist it. Paul and men could easily of thought, “why stop her?” She tells the truth. Remember every time a demon confirmed Christ’s identity, Jesus rebuked the demon. He will not accept the approval of Satan.
She keeps troubling them for many days but Paul ends the matter.
18 And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour.
This is the gospel at work, changing lives!
Note: An evangelist once said … “It is never right to do wrong in order to get a chance to do right.” Don’t align with Satan to get Christ’s work done.
Response: Her Masters persecute
The gospel is powerful even during persecution.
Acts 16:19–22 19 But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities. 20 And they brought them to the magistrates, and said, “These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; 21 and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe.” 22 Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods.
Paul and Silas face the wrath of that girl’s masters. They could no longer make money through Satan’s work. Note: when you mess with people’s money, you might just get beaten! When it’s God or money and God wins, people get upset!
They let Timothy and Luke go, presumably, because they were Gentiles.
Acts 16:23–24 23 And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. 24 Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
They were beaten and imprisoned. The jailer was commanded to keep them securely and so he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
But instead of grumbling, complaining, or plotting revenge, Paul and Silas were empowered by the gospel…
Acts 16:25 25 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.
Bloodied backs and feet in the stocks…
Was God going to save them? They didn’t know! They sang to God anyway because they simply still rejoiced in Christ; they knew they were in His will.
The prisoners never heard such singing, no doubt… this will play a role in a minute…
Acts 16:26 26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.
Talk about singing that brings the house down! Picture this from the jailer’s perspective…
Acts 16:27–32 27 And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself.”
He would have been shocked! Having all of the jail cells open was not a little discouraging. He would rather commit suicide than to be executed by the Romans for failing to keep the prison.
28 But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.” 29 Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.
The jailer likely heard the stories of what was happening in Philippi. The jailer likely heard of salvation through Paul and Silas singing. “What must I do?” “Trust Christ!”
Someone can know the gospel and respond to it in a matter of minutes. I often ask people, “If you come across an accident and found someone dying along the side of the road, what would you tell them as to how to receive eternal life?”
The jailer’s household comes to Christ as well…
Acts 16:33–34 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34 Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.
Paul and Silas came into the prison as the enemy of the jailer; but now they are brothers. The gospel can bring together the most unlikeliest of people and forgives sinful people.
…but there is a problem. The story doesn’t end there… It seems like a nice ending, but Paul and Silas are still in jail…
Acts 16:35–40 35 And when it was day, the magistrates sent the officers, saying, “Let those men go.” [they actually didn’t do anything wrong, plus they even created an earthquake! ] 36 So the keeper of the prison reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Now therefore depart, and go in peace.” [publicly put in jail, privately sent away? That doesn’t seem right.] 37 But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison. And now do they put us out secretly? No indeed! [KJV Nay verily!] Let them come themselves and get us out.” 38 And the officers told these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans. [so they get a public escort out of the city.] 39 Then they came and pleaded with them and brought them out, and asked them to depart from the city. 40 So they went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them and departed.
They leave Philippi where they started, with Lydia! Encouragement was probably something like… “Look at my back! No, we’re ok.”
Note: v.37 Paul’s not a push over. Christians can have that reputation.
Note: When persecuted, sing praises. It might just open “a door” for the gospel and to someone’s salvation… who might just be a help to you!
They depart to…
Paul’s process of church planting.
Arrive in urban area
Speak to Jews from OT→gospel
Speak to Gentiles from creation→gospel
Come back later to strengthen churches
Acts 17:1 1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews.
About 100 miles, this would take three days at least. They entered this 20,000 person city and went to the synagogue as usual.
Acts 17:2–3 2 Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.”
Time: 3 Sabbaths. If you had 3 days, what would you do? With the Philippian jailer we have the example of a short time. But we had three days, here’s what Paul would’ve done.
Reasoned with them from the Scriptures: there was some questions and answers, “reasoned” dialogue is the idea. He used the Old Testament Greek translation. Then he explained the Scripture, he opened its meaning providing lightbulb experiences. Be clear in your presentation of Scripture! Let the gospel offend, not you and make it plain.
And he demonstrated that the Christ had to die and rise again. He gave evidence from the OT (Ps. 16, 22; Isa. 53, etc.).
Paul then declared that Jesus is the Christ.
1 Thessalonians 2:1–2 1 For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain. 2 But even after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict.
The boldness helped, too. “Hey, look at my bloodied back! No, I won’t stop preaching this!”
Acts 17:4 4 And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.
Praise God! But where there are conversions, there is going to be opposition!
Acts 17:5 5 But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men [KJV “lewd fellows of the baser sort”] from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.
Unpersuaded Jews took these evil men formed a mob and disrupted the whole city. They then attack the house of Jason and bring them out to the people. But Paul and Silas aren’t there …
Acts 17:6–7 6 But when they did not find them [Paul and Co.], they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. 7 Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.”
So, the mob brings Jason and other Christians to the rulers…
“Wow, thanks, yes…I turn the world upside down, that’s me!” Actually I’m trying to turn the world right side up.
Acts 17:8–12 8 And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things. 9 So when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go. 10 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews.
11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
Bereans are more fair-minded or noble: They searched the Scriptures and received the word with all readiness. They were eager to hear God’s word. Would that all God’s people were! They compared Scripture with Scripture, attempting to discern the truth of Paul’s words. Don’t just swallow everything you hear; and don’t expect those to whom you minister to do that, either.
12 Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.
Because they searched the Scriptures, verse 12 is the result. They believed! Encourage people to test your ministry against Scripture.
Paul had success in Berea; he leaves Silas and Timothy there. Paul receives an escort to Athens, 17:15.
1 Thess. 3:1ff : Paul sent Timothy to Thessalonica from Athens
with Acts 17:15. See NAC
And Goodwin, Harmony p. 75.
In Detail: Acts 17:16-34
Are we grieved over idolatry?
How would you describe the people to whom Paul is “apologizing?”
How does Paul’s approach correspond to their context?
Introduction with their altar, v.23
Combats false conceptions (v24, where else?)
Thus, Paul shows non-Christian worldviews to be inconsistent, as failing to correspond to reality in key areas. He deconstructs their beliefs.
Quotes their poets as argument for his position.
What about the Christian worldview is assumed/preached in Paul’s presentation?
Emphasized common ground
Ontological common ground: 1 creator, etc.
How does Paul lead into the gospel?
Moves from creation, at which time the light might have turned on for them. Then, he proclaims judgment and the resurrection.
What was the audience’s response?
What’s the difference between how Paul witnessed to Jews in 17:1-4 and non-Jews in the rest of the passage?
Jews: he argued from their authority, which was the Old Testament.
Non-Jews: he argued from their authority: media (poet), pop philosophy, logic.
Paul moves from natural theology through ultimate authority to resurrection
17:23-29 natural theology. Paul discusses creation and the nature of God. This forms a credible basis for his argument of the ultimate authority, which is God. If God created everything, it naturally follows that he has the ultimate authority over everything.
ILL: If you make it, you own it. Sitting at some sort of getaway camp, before I was saved, the prayer about us being His creation struck me.
17:30-31b ultimate authority. Having argued that God created everything, he can now assert that this same God is the ultimate authority. This ultimate authority is expressed by
God’s command that everywhere everyone should repent and that
He himself has appointed a judge.
If God is the ultimate authority, he can appoint the judge whom he wishes. This naturally leads to the identification of this judge and the authentication that this one whom Paul is preaching is indeed the judge.
17:31b resurrection. This verse proves that Jesus is the judge, because he was raised from the dead. It demands an investigation of the evidence for the resurrection, which we will do.
Certain truths we can simply proclaim and do not have to argue for (Ro. 1).
Paul now goes to Corinth…
Acts 18:1–17 divides into four scenes: Paul with Aquila and Priscilla (18:1–4); rejection at the synagogue and the conversion of Crispus’s household (18:5–8); Paul’s dream-vision (18:9–11); and the public accusation before Gallio (18:12–17).
1 Corinthians 2:1–3 1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.
He’s discouraged, afraid!
1. Trials, persecutions, stoning,
2. Not a large following from Athens
3. Doesn’t have like-minded travelling companion?
4. Must sell tents and minister gospel.
5. Jewish rejection
The Lord is going to encourage him…
Paul with Aquila and Priscilla (18:1–4)
Acts 18:1–4 1 After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. 2 And he found a certain Jew named Aquila (husband), born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. 3 So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers. 4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.
Romans 16:3–4 3 Greet Priscilla [ladies first!] and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.
…friends in ministry, that’s encouraging!
Rejection at the synagogue and the conversion of Crispus’s household (18:5–8)
Acts 18:5 5 When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ.
Mezger: text variant in v.5 The expression that Paul sunei,ceto tw|/ lo,gw| (“was wholly absorbed with preaching,” so Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich-Danker) seems to have been misunderstood, so that pneu,mati was either deliberately substituted for lo,gw| or, being added as an explanation in the margin, eventually usurped the place of lo,gw|, with the resultant meaning “was urged on by the Spirit” or “was pressed in the spirit” (so the AV).
In other words, the better reading is that Paul devoted himself entirely to the ministry of the Word, not compelled by the Spirit. So while in Corinth, Silas and Timothy brought back to Paul good news about the church in Thessalonica. 1 Thessalonians 3:6-10. And it was comforting!
Note: Paul’s burden is to testify that Jesus is the Christ.
And they brought an offering from Philippi 2 Corinthians 11:9; Philippians 4:14-15….that’s encouraging!
So this allowed Paul to devote himself entirely to preaching, no longer having to be a tent maker. Plus Paul received the blessing of being reunited with Silas and Timothy.
Note: Pastors should be full time gospel workers when possible.
Note: Churches should make sure their pastors are cared for first before supporting missionaries.
Yes there was some opposition …
Acts 18:6–7 6 But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, “Your blood be upon your own heads [a watchmen, see Ezek. 3:17-21; 33:1-9; he warns of danger] I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 7 And he departed from there and entered the house of a certain man named Justus, one who worshiped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue.
But people got saved in Corinth!
Acts 18:8 8 Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.
Paul had good reasons to be encouraged. P+A, Silas, Timothy, financial assistance, full time ministry, people getting saved…and now the Lord speaks…
Paul’s vision (18:9–11)
But perhaps Paul was still fearful…
Acts 18:9–10 9 Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.”
Naturally we can understand why Paul would be a little gun shy with the gospel. Every time he goes somewhere he gets persecuted!
This vision would’ve naturally been very encouraging. And so for us as well, when we serve the Lord and are faced with the onslaughts of evil, we too can take encouragement from God’s direct ministry to us.
1. Don’t be afraid!
2. Keep serving!
3. God is with us! (Matt. 28:18-20)
4. Your labor is not in vain! 1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
Fields are white!
This encouraged Paul so much that in verse 11 we read he stayed on for 18 months.
5. God prepares the hearts, He goes before us as we minister.
Acts 18:11 11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
During this time he writes 1 and 2 Thessalonians and likely Romans.
And it wasn’t like he didn’t experience persecution…
The public accusation before Gallio (18:12–17)
Acts 18:12–17 12 When Gallio was proconsul of Achaia (AD 51-52), the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him to the judgment seat, 13 saying, “This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.” 14 And when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or wicked crimes, O Jews, there would be reason why I should bear with you. 15 But if it is a question of words and names and your own law, look to it yourselves; for I do not want to be a judge of such matters.” 16 And he drove them from the judgment seat. 17 Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes [who brought the action against Paul; a case of Antisemitism?], the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat [Beaten for being unsuccessful in his attempt to condemn Paul?]. But Gallio took no notice of these things.
..but the Lord kept His promise: Paul wasn’t hurt.
Sosthenes later comes to Christ (1 Co. 1:1)
Paul Returns to Antioch (Acts 18:18-22)
After 18 months, Paul leaves Corinth to return to Antioch. Priscilla and Aquila are with him. They will go with him to Ephesus and remain there while he departs for Caesarea.
Acts 18:18–22 18 So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow. 19 And he came to Ephesus, and left them there; but he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to stay a longer time with them, he did not consent, 21 but took leave of them, saying, “I must by all means keep this coming feast [textual variant] in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing.” And he sailed from Ephesus. 22 And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up and greeted the church, he went down to Antioch.
Cenchrea was Corinth’s seaport (Ro. 16:1 indicates there was a church there). Paul’s vow, perhaps the Nazarite vow, as described in Numbers 6; a voluntary vow.
Paul then goes to Ephesus, probably for a short time. And the Jews there received his word. And he promises to return to them, if God wills. Acts 19:1 fulfills that promise.
Note: Paul wanted to go to Ephesus in ch. 16, but the Holy Spirit prevented him. Now, he’s allowed to go.
Paul then landed at Caesarea, went to Jerusalem (“gone up and greeted the church”)…then he goes down to Antioch.
“Is Something Missing?”
In the following sections, something is missing
1. The gospel in Apollos (18:24-28)
2. The Holy Spirit in disciples (19:1-10)
3. Power in Jewish exorcists (19:11-20)
While Aquila and Priscilla are in Ephesus, Apollos arrives. Ephesus is some 300,000 inhabitants and an important commercial center, a port city on the coast, a strategic location. It was home to the Temple of Diana, or Artemis, the center of a cult prostitute religion.
Paul will stay here in Ephesus for 3 years, longer than any other city!
Go to BibleTrove.com Home Page from What is the Meaning of Acts 16-18.22
Go to New Testament Books Page
John B. Polhill, Acts, vol. 26, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 364. ↑
Adolph Deissmann says Acts 17 is “the greatest missionary document in the New Testament.” Light from the Ancient Near East (New York: H. Doran, 1927), 384. ↑
Trying to live the good life, apart from reason, passion, and rules. They sought peace of mind and harmony with nature. ↑
Epicureans were empiricists, relying upon sense experience for knowledge. They did not trust reason alone. Ethics was their focus. ↑
Though omnipresent, God is distinctly separate from creation. Ephesians 4:6 (NASB) one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. ↑
Though transcendent, God is also present in, involved with, and close to creation. Ephesians 4:6 (NASB) one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. ↑
The Roman Emperor. ↑