Tag Archives: Silas

Introduction and Background to 1 Corinthians


A number of years ago, one of the seminary students in our congregation left for a summer ministry in the South. During that week, we received word that his car had broken down on the way and that he was stranded. It was reported as a matter for prayer, but in jest, someone suggested the church send “Bob” to fix the car. My response was that, while I may be able to “heal the sick” (automotively speaking), I am not able to “raise the dead!”

While a student in seminary, I became friends with a student who was a veterinarian. I always teased him by telling him his ministry could be preaching in a church that was going to the dogs. I wonder just how one would feel about being sent to a church like the one in Corinth, as described in the two epistles of Paul to the Corinthians. Frankly, from a purely human point of view, the situation in Corinth appears to be hopeless.

And yet when we read these introductory verses to this epistle, Paul is positive, upbeat, and optimistic. His prayers concerning this church are filled with expressions of thanksgiving. How can this be? How can Paul be so positive and optimistic as he communicates with this church? One thing is certain—it is not because of the godly conduct of many of its members.

Paul’s first words to the Corinthians are not just a repetition of a standard form, a kind of “boiler plate” greeting, as though he were using a pre-packaged computer program which needed nothing else but to fill in the name of the church. The salutation of this epistle provides us not only with a demonstration of Paul’s optimism and enthusiasm in writing to these saints, it also indicates how he can be so positive about this troubled body of believers. More than this, it begins to lay a theological foundation for Paul’s ministry and teaching as it will be given throughout the epistle. This salutation tells us not only how Paul feels about this church, but why he feels as he does. Gordon Fee has this to say about the importance of these first nine verses of 1 Corinthians:

With the elaborations of this letter Paul begins a habit that will carry through to the end. In each case the elaborations reflect, either directly or subtly, many of the concerns about to be raised in the letter itself. Even as he formally addresses the church in the salutation, Paul’s mind is already at work on the critical behavioral and theological issues at hand.

The Founding of the Church at Corinth

At the end of Paul’s so-called first missionary journey with Barnabas, the Jerusalem Council met to decide just what should be required of Gentile converts (Acts 15:1-29). When Paul and Barnabas went their separate ways, Paul took Silas with him and set out on what was to be called the second missionary journey of Paul (Acts 15:36-41). They began by revisiting some of the churches that had been founded on the first journey, delivering to them the decision of the Jerusalem Council (16:4-5).

After being divinely prohibited from preaching in Asia (Acts 16:6) and Bithynia, Paul, Silas, and Timothy ended up at Troas, where Paul received the “Macedonian vision” (16:9-10), which brought them to Philippi where a number were saved and a church was established. From Philippi, Paul and his party went to Thessalonica, then to Berea, and finally to Athens (Acts 17). From Athens, Paul went to Corinth, an ancient city of Greece, the seat of government of the Roman province of Achaia. It was in Corinth that Paul first crossed paths with a Jew named Aquila and his wife Priscilla. Like Paul, this man was a tent-maker. He and his wife had fled from Italy because of a command from Claudius that all Jews must leave Rome (Acts 18:1-3). Every Sabbath, Paul went to the synagogue, where he sought to evangelize Jews and Greeks (18:4). Eventually he was joined by Silas and Timothy, who had just arrived from Macedonia. Apparently they brought a gift from the Macedonians which enabled Paul to fully devote himself to the Word, so that he gave all of his efforts to preaching Christ (18:5).

As usual, Paul’s preaching prompted a reaction from the unbelieving Jews, so that he left the synagogue and began to concentrate on evangelizing Gentiles (18:6-7). Paul moved his headquarters to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a Gentile God-fearer who lived next door to the synagogue (18:5-7). Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, became a believer along with the rest of his household. Many other Corinthians were also being saved as well and were submitting to baptism (18:8). The Lord appeared to Paul in a vision, assuring him that there were many more souls to be saved in that city and that he was not to fear. He was to speak out boldly, rather than to hold back for fear of trouble (18:9-10). As a result, Paul extended his ministry in Corinth, staying a total of 18 months, a considerably longer period of ministry than usual.

Paul’s lengthy ministry was facilitated, in part, by Jewish litigation and by the precedent-setting ruling of Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia (18:12-17). The Jews seized Paul and brought him up on charges before Gallio. They accused him of being neither a faithful Jew nor a good citizen. They accused him of speaking and acting against the law. Paul did not even get the opportunity to speak in his own defense. Before he could open his mouth, Gallio gave his ruling. This strife between Paul and the Jews was but another instance of the in-fighting which was so typical of the Jews. Gallio was fed up with it and with them and was not about to be used by these Jewish zealots to prevail over their Jewish rivals. This was not a matter for his judgment. He threw them and their case out of court.

From all we are told of him, Gallio was a pagan who cared nothing for the Jews, the gospel, or Paul. And yet his ruling was a landmark decision, officially legitimizing and protecting those who preached the gospel throughout the entire Roman Empire. Judaism was an official religion, recognized and sanctioned by the Roman government. The Jews were seeking to convince Gallio that Paul was really no Jew and that the preaching of the gospel was not the practice of Judaism. Thus, they inferred, Paul was a threat to the stability of Roman rule. They argued that neither Paul nor any other Christian should be allowed to preach the gospel under the permission and protection of the Roman law. When Gallio refused to rule on this matter, calling it a Jewish squabble, he was declaring Paul’s preaching of the gospel to be the practice of Judaism. Christianity, Gallio’s ruling indicated, was Jewish and thus protected by Roman law. Thus, Paul’s ministry was legal, and any Jewish opposition could not claim Rome as their ally.

Gallio drove them away from his judgment seat. The Jews were furious, and in retaliation they seized Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and began to beat him in front of the proconsul. He looked on with disdain, not at all impressed or concerned. This Sosthenes seems to be the same person who is with Paul as he writes to the Corinthians (1:1).

City of CorinthThe City of Corinth

Secular history only verifies and clarifies the impression of the city of Corinth which we gain from the pens of Luke (Acts) and Paul (1 and 2 Corinthians). It was a great city in many ways. Politically, Corinth was the capital city of the Roman province of Achaia, a territory including nearly all of Greece. That is why Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia, was in Corinth and heard the charge against Paul. Geographically, Corinth was so strategically located it could hardly do other than prosper. The city was situated on a plateau overlooking the Isthmus of Corinth, two miles distant from the Gulf. Nearby was the Acrocorinth, a 1900-foot mountain that was perfectly suited as a citadel for the city. This fortress was so secure it was never taken by force until the invention of gun-powder. It also contained an inexhaustible water supply in the fountain of Peirene. At the summit of Acrocorinth was the temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. At the base of the citadel stood the temple of Melicertes, the patron of seafarers.

Located on an isthmus, Corinth became a crossroads for both land and sea trade. By looking at a map, one can quickly see that Corinth is situated between two large bodies of water and two land areas, and these are virtually surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea. Were it not for the isthmus on which Corinth was founded, the southern part of Greece would be an island in the Mediterranean Sea. Goods exchanged between the north and south would normally be shipped by land through Corinth.

Much of the sea trade of the Mediterranean from east to west also passed through Corinth. To the west of Corinth was the port city of Lechaeum on the Gulf of Corinth. On her east was the port of Cenchrae on the Saronic Gulf. These were ports of call for ships that sailed the seas. Travel across the isthmus and through Corinth was generally considered safer than the 200-mile voyage around Cape Malea, the most dangerous cape in the Mediterranean. So dangerous was this journey by sea that the Greeks had two sayings well known to sailors in those days: “Let him who sails round Malea forget his home,” and, “Let him who sails round Malea first make his will.

To avoid the distance and danger of the journey around the Cape of Malea (now called Cape Matapan), goods would be unloaded at one port, transported across the four-mile strip of land (through Corinth), and reloaded on the other side. Smaller ships were actually transported with their cargo over the isthmus by means of rollers. Consequently, the isthmus was named the Diolkos, “the place of dragging across.” Nero had planned a canal to join the Aegean and Ionian seas, and he even began construction in A.D. 66. The three and one-half mile canal was finished in 1893.

Corinth thus became a great commercial center. Luxuries from all over the world were available, and the vices of the world were also to be found there. These evils did not all have to be imported, however, for the temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, was nearby with 1,000 cult prostitutes who sold themselves in the name of religion. The Greeks had a proverb about the city which tells a great deal about its moral decay: “It is not every man who can afford a journey to Corinth.” Those who were worldly wise used the verb “corinthianize” to describe an act of immorality. “Corinthian girl” was known to be a synonym for prostitute.

Estimates of the population of Corinth range from 100,000 to 600,000. The diversity of peoples who lived in this city is explained by her history. In Paul’s day, Corinth was a very old and yet a very new city. “Signs of habitation date back to the fourth millennium B.C.” Alexander made Corinth the center of a new Hellenic League as he prepared for war with Persia. In 146 B.C., the city was destroyed by Roman soldiers because it led the Greek resistance to Roman rule. All the males of the city were exterminated, and the women and children were sold for slaves. The city was rebuilt by Julius Caesar 100 years later, and it eventually became the capital of the province of Achaia. Many of those who settled in Corinth were not Greeks. A large number of Roman soldiers settled there after retiring, having received their freedom and Roman citizenship in addition to grants of land. A variety of nationalities settled in Corinth, enticed by the prospects of economic prosperity. A good number of the immigrants were Jews.

Being a relatively recent city with newly acquired wealth brought problems, for there was the absence of an established aristocracy which would have provided a much more stable society. Farrar spoke of Corinth in this way:

… this mongrel and heterogeneous population of Greek adventurers and Roman bourgeois, with a tainting infusion of Phoenicians; this mass of Jews, ex-soldiers, philosophers, merchants, sailors, freedmen, slaves, trades-people, hucksters and agents of every form of vice … without aristocracy, without traditions and without well-established citizens.

Every two years Corinth presided over the Isthmian Games, a contest in which all the Greek city-states took part. At these games, the sea-god Poseidon was specially honored.

The Occasion for Writing 1 Corinthians

After Paul had completed his 18-month ministry in Corinth, he set out for Syria with Priscilla and Aquila. On reaching Ephesus, Paul ministered for a short time, promising to return if the Lord willed (18:19-21). He left Priscilla and Aquila there and journeyed on to Caesarea, Jerusalem and Antioch (Acts 18:18-22). After strengthening the churches in Asia Minor, Paul returned to Ephesus for a much more extensive ministry. He stayed in Ephesus, teaching in the school of Tyrannus for two years. While in Ephesus, he seems to have received unfavorable reports about the Corinthian church which prompted him to write his first letter to this church, a letter which was not preserved as a part of the New Testament canon (1 Corinthians 5:9-11).

Later, while Paul was still ministering the Word in Ephesus, he heard from some of “Chloe’s people” that divisions were beginning to emerge among the Corinthian saints. In addition, Paul was informed of a case of gross immorality in the church, one with which the church had not dealt. Instead of feeling shame and sorrow over this sin, at least some of the saints were proud of their tolerance (chapter 5). He heard also of Christians taking their fellow-believers to court, seeking to have pagans pass judgment on spiritual matters (chapter 6). Paul was also told of unbecoming conduct at the Lord’s Supper (chapter 11) and of doctrinal error concerning the resurrection (chapter 15). A three-man delegation consisting of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus also arrived from Corinth (16:17) bringing a letter which inquired of Paul about marriage (7:1), virgins (7:25), food sacrificed to idols (8:1), spiritual gifts (12:1), the collection for the saints (16:1), and Apollos (16:12). It was while he was in Ephesus that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians in response to the reports and questions he received there.

Paul’s Preamble

1 Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2 to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

That Paul should write such a letter as this should come as no surprise to us and certainly not to the Corinthians. After all, Paul had already written one epistle which was not preserved for us. Paul was the one who first came to Corinth with the gospel. Many of the members of the church in Corinth were the fruit of his ministry (1 Corinthians 9:2; 2 Corinthians 3:1-4). Paul wrote with apostolic authority. By the will of God, he was chosen and called as an apostle. He wrote with full authority. His words were not to be ignored.

Paul addresses his epistle to the church at Corinth and then proceeds to define the church. This is a very important definition to which we should give our full attention. First, Paul wants us to be assured that the church belongs to God. How often we hear churches identified in terms of who the pastor is. That is ______’s church, and we fill in the blank with the pastor’s name. When we do so, we indicate our deep and fundamental difference with Paul who believed that the church belongs to God. God is the One who brought the church into existence through the shed blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. God is the One who sustains His church. It is God’s church.

Generally speaking, the term “church” is defined in terms of two categories: (a) the local church and (b) the church universal. The local church is understood as that body of believers who gather regularly in one place. The “universal church” consists of all believers in every place and in the whole course of church history.

I do not wish to differ with these two definitions of the church. They are probably useful ways of considering groups of believers. But the “local church” and the “universal church” are not entirely consistent with Paul’s use of the term as he employs it in the New Testament. Here, the church is defined as (a) “those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling,” and (b) “all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (verse 2).

We might be inclined to think of this first category as “the local church.” In a sense, it is. But when Paul speaks of the church, he simply refers to a group of believers. Sometimes this group is a “house church,” a group of believers meeting in a certain person’s home (Romans 16:5, 19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1:2). These “house churches” may have met in a larger gathering, as did the saints in Jerusalem (see Acts 2:46). Then, Paul referred to the “city church,” that is, the group of all believers in a particular city (see Revelation 2 and 3), or the church at a particular city (Acts 11:22; 13:1; 18:22; Romans 16:1). This is the way Paul referred to the Corinthian church, the “church of God which is at Corinth” (1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1). Finally, Paul speaks of the church as all those living at one time, who have trusted in Jesus Christ for salvation.

I fear our view of the church is either too narrow (the local church—our church) or too broad (all those who have ever lived and trusted in Christ for salvation). We pray for our missionaries, the missionaries we have sent out from our local church, or more broadly, from our denominational group. A few churches share with those in need within their own fellowship or local church. When the new believers (the church) at Antioch heard a famine was coming upon the world, they enthusiastically began to prepare to give to their brethren in Judea. They understood, even at this early stage in their growth and maturity, that the church is bigger than the local church.

When we hear of disasters taking place around the world, do we immediately begin to consider the impact on our brethren, our fellow members of the world-wide church, and act accordingly? I fear we do not, at least to the degree we should. With such rapid communications in our time, we could easily and quickly learn of the trials and tribulations of fellow believers, no matter where they are in the world. And our ability to respond is also significantly easier than it was for the saints of Antioch. Let us begin to think of the church in Paul’s terms, rather than in the narrower terms to which we are accustomed.

In this broader sense of the church, we see that Paul’s epistle, though addressed to the saints at Corinth, was also written to the church at large. Look once again at the first two verses of Paul’s salutation: “Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.”

This broader element in Paul’s salutation is important because it reminds us that “church truth” is “church truth.” That is, Paul’s teaching to the saints at Corinth is just as applicable and just as authoritative for the church at Philippi, or Ephesus, or Dallas. Too many have tried to avoid Paul’s teaching in his Corinthians Epistles by insisting he is speaking to a very special and unique problem found only in Corinth. This simply does not square with Paul’s words. His instructions to the Corinthians apply to every other saint:

16 I exhort you therefore, be imitators of me. 17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church (1 Corinthians 4:16-17).

33 for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. 34 Let the women keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but let them subject themselves, just as the Law also says (1 Corinthians 14:33-34).

It has also been pointed out that in addressing the church at Corinth, Paul does not distinguish any one believer or group of believers from any other. We shall soon see that the Corinthian church was plagued with the dilemma of divisions. Here, Paul does not address the church other than as one group of believers, equally lost as unbelievers, and now equally saved through the person and work of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, Paul is careful to emphasize that the standing of the saints in Corinth and elsewhere is solely the result of the grace of God manifested through the Lord Jesus Christ. There are no grounds for boasting, except in the person and work of Christ.

Paul’s Thanksgiving

4 I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who shall also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Somehow, an expression of thanksgiving is not what I would have expected from Paul at this point in time. Here is a church that has begun to listen to false teachers and who is challenging Paul’s authority. Here is a church which condones immorality and “unconditionally accepts” a man whose sin shocks the unbelieving pagans of that city. Here is a church whose personal conflicts are being aired out before unbelieving eyes in secular courts. How can Paul possibly give thanks?

Paul does not give thanks for the sins and failures of these saints. Paul gives thanks to God for what He has done and for what He will ultimately do for His children. Paul first gives thanks for the “grace of God,” which He has given the saints in Christ Jesus (verse 4). Grace is unmerited favor, and we must surely agree that these saints—not to mention ourselves—are unworthy. The good things which have already been accomplished, and all those good things yet to be accomplished, are manifestations of God’s infinite grace, bestowed upon those who are unworthy.

Paul gives thanks for the sufficiency of God’s grace to the saints as articulated in verses 5-7.

5 That in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God’s grace to the saints in Corinth and everywhere was boundless. He enriched them in everything. They were enriched in all speech and all knowledge. This was achieved through the preaching of the “testimony of Christ,” as it was confirmed in each and every believer. The Corinthians had no critical need for which God had not made provision through the apostolic preaching of Christ. Were there false teachers who indicated the Corinthians were lacking and that they needed more of something? They were liars! God had already provided all that was necessary for “life and godliness” in Christ (see 2 Peter 1:2-4). No gift was lacking in the church. God had provided just the right gifts for the growth and maturity and ministry of the saints in Corinth. If the church at Corinth was failing, it was not due to any failure on God’s part to provide for their needs, but rather a failure on their part to appropriate these means.

Finally, Paul expressed his thanksgiving for the faithfulness of God and the resulting assurance that He would complete that which He had begun in the Corinthian saints (verses 7-9). Elsewhere, Paul put it this way:

6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).

12 For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day (2 Timothy 1:12).

These saints were eagerly awaiting the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ (7a). Their salvation had not only the past and present benefits, referred to earlier, but a future hope. As motley a crew as this Corinthian church proved to be, their salvation and security were God’s doing. Consequently, Paul had great confidence concerning this church and the future of each saint. Paul thanked God because He would confirm these saints to the end. What God had started, He would finish. They were secure, and their hope was certain, just as Peter also writes:

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:3-5).

While these Corinthian saints may not consistently be faithful, God is faithful. It is through His faithfulness that each believer has been called to salvation. It is because of His faithfulness that we will persevere and enter into His kingdom, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

No wonder Paul is thankful. In spite of the stumbling and sin which is evident in the Corinthian church, God has saved the saints there. He has sufficiently provided for their every spiritual need. He has purposed to present them faultless when He establishes His kingdom. Paul therefore is assured that his ministry is not in vain, because the salvation and sanctification of the saints in Corinth and elsewhere are the work of God. The God who called these saints and destined them for glory is the God who called Paul to be an apostle and to minister to these saints. Paul’s work is not in vain, for his work is ultimately God’s work.

1 CorinthiansConclusion

Paul is writing to a very troubled church, a church which exists in the midst of a very corrupt city and culture. In spite of this, Paul has a very confident mood as he addresses the saints at Corinth and around the world of his day and ours. I notice that in spite of the weaknesses and willful sins of these saints, Paul does not begin by questioning the reality of their conversion, but by affirming the present and future benefits. There are texts which do question the reality of the faith of persistently wayward professing believers, but this is not one of them. These saints need to be reminded of the certainty of their salvation. The certainty of their salvation rests not within themselves, but in the One who called them and the One who will complete all that He has begun. This certainty also assures Paul that his continued ministry to this church is not in vain.

This book of 1 Corinthians should cause us to reject the myth of the perfect New Testament church. We often refer to ourselves at The House of The Nazarene as a “New Testament church.” We are that in the sense that our church is patterned after the principles set down in the New Testament. We have no one “pastor,” who is the head of the church, but we recognize that Christ is the only Head of the church. We are governed by a plurality of elders. We have a weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper, and we encourage believers to exercise their spiritual gifts in a way that edifies the whole body. We do not wish to imply by the expression “New Testament church” that we are a perfect church or even that we are a good church at all times.

So often Christians look back to the New Testament times as though the church in those days was nearly perfect. If you read the Book of Acts the way I do, there is a wonderful period of bliss in the infancy of the church, but this lasts only from late in chapter 2 to the end of chapter 4. In chapter 5, a couple is struck dead for lying to the Holy Spirit. In chapter 6, there is strife between two groups of Jews over the care of their widows. And by the time we get to the Corinthian church, it is far from perfect and hardly what could be called good. The final words of our Lord to the seven churches of Asia in Revelation 2 and 3 are not complimentary either. The church was not perfect in New Testament times, and neither is it perfect today. The same sins which Paul exposes in 1 and 2 Corinthians are present and evident in evangelical churches today. And so Paul’s words of admonition and correction are just as applicable to us today as they were to the saints of his day.

We deceive ourselves if we think we can retreat within the church walls to escape the evils of the world. The Corinthians Epistles inform us that the world too easily and quickly finds its way into the church. The church is not the place where we go to escape from sin; it is the place where we go to confront our sin and to stimulate each other to love and good deeds. The church is not a Christian “clean room” where we can get away from sin; it is a hospital, where we can find help and healing through the ministry of the Word and prayer.

The church is not the place which is kept holy by keeping sinners away. It is the place where newly born sinners are brought, so that they can learn the Scriptures and grow in their faith. All too often, new believers feel unwelcomed by the church. The church is afraid of newly saved sinners because they do not really understand holiness or sanctification. Let us not strive to preserve the purity of the church by keeping out the newly saved pagans. Let us strive to preserve the purity of the church by throwing out some of the professing saints who boast only of the time they have put in at the church but whose profession of faith is hypocritical (see 1 Corinthians 5).

If there was hope for the Corinthians, then there is hope for anyone. The first nine verses of this epistle are saturated with reason for hope. Do you know someone who is hopelessly lost, who is not just disinterested in the gospel but adamantly opposed to it? Then take hope from the two men from whom this letter is sent. The apostle Paul was once Saul, the Saul who stood by and held the garments for those who stoned Stephen, the Paul who went from city to city seeking to find Christians whom he could arrest and even put to death. This man is now willing to give his life for the sake of the gospel.

If I understand the text correctly, Sosthenes is another Saul. In Acts 18, we are told that Crispus, the synagogue leader in Corinth, came to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It appears that Sosthenes is his replacement. I understand him to be the leader of the opposition to Paul and the church in Corinth. At his instigation, it would seem, charges were brought against Christianity before Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia (Acts 18:12-17). When Gallio refuses to hear this case, it is clear that Paul and the church have won. In frustration and anger, the unbelieving Jews turn on Sosthenes, their leader, beating him as Gallio watched, unmoved. Now, Sosthenes is a traveling companion of Paul’s, a brother in the Lord. Two of the most hostile unbelievers are now brothers in the Lord. Is there hope for the lost? There most certainly is!

If there is hope for the lost, there is also hope for those who are saved but whose life falls far short of the standard set by the Scriptures. Here is a church that seems almost beyond hope. There are divisions, immorality, and opposition to the apostle Paul and to apostolic teaching. Is Paul discouraged? Does Paul give up hope? No! Paul’s first words to this church are those of hope and confidence. Paul’s confidence and hope are not in the Corinthians, in their good intentions, or in their diligent efforts. His hope is in the One who called him and who called the Corinthian saints as well. His hope is in the fact that God has abundantly provided for every spiritual need in that church. His hope is in the faithfulness of the God who started the good work in these believers and who is committed to bring it to completion.

Have you ever felt that a loved one or a friend were hopeless? They may be a believer, but their life is a mess. This epistle reminds us that there is hope for such a saint. Have you ever felt that you were beyond help, beyond hope? This epistle is for you. Its first words to you remind you of the character and the work of God in the saints, through the work of His Son, Jesus Christ. Cease trusting in yourself, in your good intentions, in your efforts, and once again place your trust in the One who alone can save and sanctify. Heed Paul’s words of warning and of instruction. If there is hope for Saul and Sosthenes and for saints at Corinth, there is hope for anyone.

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Filed under Daily Biblical Studies for the Soul, Studies in The Book of 1 Corinthians

Acts 16-17

Acts 16-17

Acts 16

16:1-10 Paul and Silas are Joined by Timothy

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: 2 Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. 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. 4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. 5 And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.

6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, 7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. 8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. 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. 10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.

16:11-18 Lydia is led to believe

11 Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next [day] to Neapolis; 12 And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, [and] a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days. 13 And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which

Paul and Silas are Joined by Timothy

Paul and Silas are Joined by Timothy

resorted [thither]. 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. 15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought [us], saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide [there]. And she constrained us.

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: 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. 18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.

16:19-24 The imprisonment at Philippi

19 And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew [them] into the marketplace unto the rulers, 20 And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, 21 And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. 22 And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat [them]. 23 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast [them] into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: 24 Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.

16:25-40 The conversion of the Philippian jailer

25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. 26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. 27 And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. 29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. 32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed [their] stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. 34 And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.

35 And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go. 36 And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent

The conversion of the Philippian jailer

The conversion of the Philippian jailer

to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace. 37 But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast [us] into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out. 38 And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans. 39 And they came and besought them, and brought [them] out, and desired [them] to depart out of the city. 40 And they went out of the prison, and entered into [the house of] Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed. (Acts 16:1-40 AV)

Acts 17

17:1-9 The uproar in Thessalonica

1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: 2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, 3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. 4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great

The uproar in Thessalonica

The uproar in Thessalonica

multitude, and of the chief women not a few. 5 But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. 6 And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; 7 Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, [one] Jesus. 8 And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. 9 And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.

17:10-15 Paul and Silas at Berea

10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming [thither] went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. 12 Therefore many

Paul and Silas at Berea

Paul and Silas at Berea

of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. 13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people. 14 And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still. 15 And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed.

17:16-21 Paul at Athens

16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. 17 Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. 18 Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. 19 And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, [is]? 20 For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. 21 (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)

17:22-34 Paul on Mars’ Hill

22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, [Ye] men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. 23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. 24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: 28 For in him we live, and

Paul on Mars' Hill

Paul on Mars’ Hill

move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. 29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. 30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by [that] man whom he hath ordained; [whereof] he hath given assurance unto all [men], in that he hath raised him from the dead.

32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this [matter]. 33 So Paul departed from among them. 34 Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which [was] Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them. (Acts 17:1-34 AV)

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Acts Chapter seventeen, Part two with Jews accuse Paul and Silas

So let’s continue with our biblical studies of Acts of the Apostles…Chapter seventeen…Part two…with “Jews accuse Paul and Silas“…Acts 17:5-15…

“Paul’s success with the Gentiles both within and especially outside the synagogue ignite the Jews’ jealousy..Acts 17:5.. Not only is Paul the renegade rabbi stealing converts from their private preserve, he is having unprecedented success in making proselytes from the Gentile community at large…hummmm…

…”The Jews decide it is time to stop Paul’s evangelizing activities. So they “rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city”..Acts 17:5..The mob is composed of criminal types who hang around the public square with nothing to do but cause trouble. The Jews probably pay them to start a riot. Apparently, their goal is to implicate Paul and Silas in a civil disturbance.

“The Jews assume the missionaries are in the home of a convert named Jason. They storm the house but find only Jason and some other believers. Jason’s home….. probably serves as a house church, as did Lydia’s. Some connect this Jason with the individual mentioned along with Luke..Lucius and Sosipater..Acts 16:21..in the letter to the Romans. “However”, Jason is a common name and any connection can only be speculative…

…”The Jews apparently hope to bring Paul before the popular assembly of citizens, the Greek demos..Acts 17:5.. The translation of the NIV, “crowd,” is an unfortunate one. See its marginal reference, “assembly of the people.” Failing to find Paul and Silas, the Jews drag Jason and some other believers before the city officials, or politarchs. These are the magistrates of Thessalonica, and the title is known from a number of inscriptions…

“The Jews bring a charge of disturbing the Pax Romana against Paul and Silas. They claim, “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here” Acts 17:6..The traditional KJV translation, “turned the world upside down,” although memorable, gives an improper nuance to the Greek. The Jews don’t have Paul and Silas in hand, so they accuse Jason of being part of the conspiracy by allowing the insurrectionists to use his home as a safe house…

…”The Jews also accuse the missionaries of “defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus”..Acts 17:7..Naturally,charges of insurrection, subverting the empire, and a plot against Caesar are extremely serious. If they hold up, the missionaries could be executed………
Should I end it here or Continue?

Ok I’ll continue!
……..The magistrates of Thessalonica apparently know of the recent troubles in the Jewish community at Rome. These are described by the Roman biographer and historian Suetonius born c. A.D. 70 as the “constant riots at the instigation of Chrestus”. The continuing tumult forces Emperor Claudius to issue his edict around A.D. 49-50, which tries to expel all the Jews from the city. The Jews of Thessalonica are probably playing on these fears, intimating that similar riots might erupt in their city…

“This may have had something to do with the accusation that the missionaries are “defying Caesar’s decrees”…Acts 17:7…”Perhaps the decrees” had to do with prohibitions against public assemblies including religious ones or the fomenting of riots, meant to prevent the sorts of disturbances that occurred at Rome. The Jews also accuse the missionaries of saying there is “another king”, Jesus, instead of Caesar. Perhaps the decrees in question contain oaths of loyalty to Caesar….. Preaching Jesus as a rival emperor would violate such regulations…

…”Of course, the Jews are “twisting” the meaning of the confession that declared Jesus to be the Messiah and Saviour. The Jews are putting a politically inflammatory twist on what is a personal and spiritual confession. Although Jesus-Christ is not a king of this world, the gospel does call people to give greater allegiance to Jesus than to Caesar. The Thessalonian politarchs are “thrown into turmoil” when the Jews make these accusations…Acts 17:8…”They don’t want riots in their city”, certainly not like the ones at Rome. The politarchs will be held accountable if they allow the violation of any imperial decrees…

“But it seems that the magistrates “see through the Jews’ plot” and “recognize” the accusations as erroneous. Perhaps the officials recognize the rioters as the ne’er-do-wells of the town square. What’s more, Paul and Silas, supposedly the leaders of the riot, are nowhere to be found…

…”The politarchs took what they thought to be a moderate and reasonable course of action. They made Jason and those with him post a bond, assuring them that there would be no repetition of the trouble. This probably meant that Paul and Silas had to leave Thessalonica and that their friends promised they would not come back, at least during the term of office of the present politarchs.”

…”To Berea by night”…Acts 17:10-15…
“The Jews probably continue to look for Paul, so as soon as nightfall comes, the disciples spirit him out of the city and send him to Berea. Once again, Paul is forced to make a hasty and humiliating departure, as he did from Damascus…Acts 9:23-25…Jerusalem…Acts 9:30…Antioch of Pisidia…Acts 13:50-51…and Lystra…Acts 14:20…

“Berea..modern Verria… is about 50 miles or 81 kilometers west-southwest of Thessalonica. It takes Paul about three days to reach the town. Berea is considered an out-of-the-way place, of little historical or political importance. Paul again goes into the synagogue to preach, but he is given an unusually warm reception by the Jews. Luke presents the Berean Jews as openminded individuals. “The Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians,” he writes, “for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true”…Acts 17:11…

…”The Berean Jews apparently meet with Paul every day not just on the Sabbath to examine the Scriptures. Luke implies that they are “zealous” to understand the truth. If the Jews in Thessalonica took the time to search for and evaluate the promises of the Hebrew Scriptures, they too would discover that Paul was speaking the truth…

“Many Jews in Berea believe the gospel, as do some prominent Gentile men and women..Acts 18:12.. Among the believers is “Sopater son of Pyrrhus”, who is identified by Luke as being from Berea…Acts 20:4… Sopater might be the same person as the Sosipater of Romans 16:21, but there is no way to be sure…

…”Luke emphasizes that the converted Gentiles are “prominent,” perhaps in social standing. One can almost catch a purposeful contrast here. The gospel can attract good people, while the Jews must rely on the rabble and “riff-raff” to foment a fake riot. However, the antagonistic Jews of Thessalonica learn that Paul is teaching in Berea…

“They send some “agents” to “stir up the crowds there”. The Berean disciples take immediate action and send Paul “to the coast,” down to the sea..Acts 17:14.. It’s not clear whether his friends put him on a ship bound for Piraeus, the port of Athens, or escort him by land to Athens. A “sea journey would make more sense”; otherwise Paul would have to travel a long distance over rough roads to get to Athens…

Once again, Paul is forced to make a hasty and humiliating departure, as he did from Damascus

Once again, Paul is forced to make a hasty and humiliating departure, as he did from Damascus

…”Silas and Timothy remain in Berea, but Paul gives instructions with the returning Bereans that they should rejoin him as soon as possible…Acts 17:15…They apparently rejoin him at Athens later, although Luke doesn’t tell us when…1 Thessalonians 3:1…Paul sends Timothy back to Thessalonica..1 Thessalonians 3:2.. Silas returns to Macedonia..perhaps Philippi.. and then with Timothy rejoins Paul in Corinth…Acts 18:5…

“Commentators speculate that Paul has not really planned to teach in Athens….. Perhaps he would rather follow the Via Egnatia across the Balkan peninsula to Dyrrhachium on the Adriatic, and then cross the sea to Italy and go to Rome. It may be that political considerations in Macedonia make it impossible for him to continue west. And because of Claudius’ edict expelling Jews from Rome, it is not a good time to visit the city. Whatever his intentions, it’s clear that Paul comes to Athens mainly to “escape persecution”…

Well let’s continue this bible study tomorrow! Until then may God bless You and your families!


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Acts Chapter 17, The gospel goes into Macedonia and Greece On to Thessalonica

Let’s continue our biblical studies by…”Exploring the Book of Acts of the Apostles…With…Chapter 17…”The gospel goes into Macedonia and Greece
On to Thessalonica“…Acts 17:1…

“After Paul, Silas and Timothy leave Philippi, they travel west through the next two towns..Amphipolis and Apollonia. If any missionary work occurs there, Luke has no interest in telling his readers about it. Luke simply says that Paul and his company go through these towns. Amphipolis is about 33 miles..53 kilometers..southwest of Philippi, along the Via Egnatia. Apollonia is 27 miles..43 kilometers..west-southwest of Amphipolis…

…”Luke is “hurrying the missionary group” to Thessalonica, about 35 miles…56 kilometers…west of Apollonia. Each town is about a horseback day’s journey from the next. Thessalonica modern Salonika is the capital of the province of Macedonia, and its largest and most prosperous city. Thessalonica is a large city of perhaps 200,000 people. It has a good location on the Thermaic Gulf. The Via Egnatia is the main street of Thessalonica, and it is still a major thoroughfare of Salonika…

“In Luke’s day”….Thessalonica is an important link between the rich Macedonian agricultural interior and land and sea trade routes. Paul seems to view Thessalonica as a strategic center from which to preach the gospel in the Balkan peninsula. Paul knows that he does not have to go to all these areas, once he begins a church in one city, the believers themselves will begin spreading the good news to nearby areas…

…”Perhaps that is why Paul just passes through Amphipolis and Apollonia he knows they will be evangelized from the churches in Philippi and Thessalonica. Paul can later write to the church, saying, “The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia your faith in God has become known everywhere”…1 Thessalonians 1:8…

“Paul teaches in the largest cities of the Roman world Antioch, Thessalonica, Corinth, Ephesus and Rome. These cities are “seaports” and on “busy trade routes”. Churches established in these cities provide a jumping-off place from which nearby towns and villages in the hinterland will be evangelized…

…”As his custom was”…Acts 17:2…
“When Paul comes to Thessalonica, he goes into the synagogue “as his custom was” and for “three Sabbath days he reasoned with them..the Jews..from the Scriptures” Acts 17:2.. Paul uses a simple strategy in spreading the gospel of God. When he arrives in a new city, he almost always visits a local synagogue. This becomes his regular practice”…Acts 13:14, 44; 14:1; 16:13, 16; 18:4; 19:8…

“A Sabbath in a synagogue is a wonderful teaching opportunity for Paul. Here Jews and devout Gentiles gather to read and interpret the Scriptures the Old Testament in Greek translation. In such a setting, Paul finds people who already know the true God. They share Israel’s hope for a Messiah and the kingdom of God…

…”At Thessalonica, Paul is able to speak in the synagogue during three Sabbaths. This is probably only the beginning of a longer campaign in Thessalonica. We learn from Paul’s letter to the Philippian church that he receives financial aid from Philippi on several occasions…Acts 4:16…But he is also supporting himself even while he is preaching the gospel in the city…1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-8…This implies that Paul is in the city for some time…

“It appears that most of the converts in Thessalonica were originally pagans, not God-fearers who attended the synagogue…1 Thessalonians 1:9…This implies that Paul is teaching pagan Gentiles directly, probably after his three sessions in the synagogue. Most likely, the three weeks in the synagogue are only the beginning of Paul’s work in Thessalonica. Perhaps the synagogue kicked him out after those first three weeks, and he then teaches the Gentiles directly, but Luke doesn’t describe this part of Paul’s mission in Thessalonica….

…”Reasoning from the Scriptures”…Acts 17:2-4…
“In the synagogue, Paul is “explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead”…Acts 17:3…Paul tries to be methodical in his teaching. He “reasons,” “explains,” “proves,” and “persuades” his hearers. What probably surprises, and angers the Jews is Paul’s claim that the Messiah “had to suffer” … Acts 17:3…Preaching a suffering Saviour who died is not a popular message for most Jews, since they are looking for a “heroic Messiah”…1 Corinthians 1:22-23…

“Paul argues that Jesus fulfills the conditions for a suffering Messiah which the Scriptures speak of. Thus, he is that Messiah. But to the Jews, “Jesus is a criminal” and “insurrectionist” who was executed by the Romans. It’s not surprising that Paul probably lasts only three weeks in the synagogue before being ejected as a “heretic” or “fool”…

“The preaching of Paul in the Book of Acts generally and at Thessalonica particularly took the form of a ‘proclaimed witness’ a witness to the facts that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, that his suffering and resurrection were in accord with the Scriptures, and that through his earthly ministry and living presence men and women can experience the reign of God in their lives.”

The gospel goes into Macedonia and Greece On to Thessalonica

The gospel goes into Macedonia and Greece On to Thessalonica

…”In its simplest form, this is the essence of the gospel Paul preaches from the Hebrew Scriptures. He writes later of this “good news”: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures”…1 Corinthians 15:1, 3-4…

“Some of the Jews believe this gospel and join Paul and Silas. As well, so do a number of God-fearing Gentiles who attend the synagogue and a few “prominent women”…Acts 17:4…These all become disciples…

…”Once Paul is barred from the synagogue, he turns to teaching the pagan Gentiles. He apparently receives a much more favorable response from them, as Thessalonians implies. It is helpful to read Paul’s two letters to the Thessalonians in connection with this section of Acts. The epistles flesh out Luke’s account of Paul’s stay in the city and put a very human face on his relationship with the converts there.


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Acts Chapter 16, Part four with, What must I do to be saved?

And now let’s continue our biblical studies of the book of Acts of the Apostles …Chapter 16…Part four with…”What must I do to be saved?”…Acts 16:30-32…

“More important, from Luke’s perspective, is that the jailer rushes into the cell and falls down before Paul and Silas, in great fear. “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” he cries out…Acts 16:30…

…”It’s not clear what the jailer’s understanding of “being saved” is….Does he fear some kind of retribution from these two “magicians”? The jailer has probably heard about the exorcism of the demon from the slave girl. Perhaps he heard something of the gospel being preached in town. Aspects of the message of salvation may have been conveyed to the jailer in the prayers and songs of the imprisoned missionaries”

“In any case, he is soon educated as to what it means to be saved. Paul answers the jailer’s question by saying, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved you and your household”…Acts 16:31…Of course, there is more to being saved than simply uttering the words, “I believe in Jesus.” Jesus himself said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven”…Matthew 7:21…

…”Believe on the Lord Jesus-Christ, and you will be saved” is a summary confession of the Christian faith. “Believing on the Lord” is Luke’s shorthand statement for the faith as a whole. He has already used it several times…Acts 5:14; 9:42; 11:17…

“Paul summarizes the gospel to the church in Rome in the same way: “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved”..Romans 10:9.. This confessional précis implies that human works do not earn salvation. Since salvation comes through Jesus-Christ…Acts 4:12…one must believe in him as Saviour in order to experience him as salvation…

…”But faith in Jesus needs to be explained. Paul does this for the jailer and his family. The two missionaries speak “the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house”..Acts 16:32..No doubt they explain the gospel of salvation in terms the jailer and his household can understand. They also probably discuss something of what it means to have a new life in Christ. Further instruction will come later within a church of believers organized in Philippi…

…”Family baptized”…Acts 16:33-34…
“The jailer takes Paul and Silas into his quarters and washes their wounds. Then, he and his family are baptized as in the case of Cornelius. The jailer is then “filled with joy because he had come to believe in God he and his whole family”…Acts 16:34… Since Luke is speaking from hindsight and perhaps he even served as pastor for these people he knows that their conversion is real…

…”The gift offered to the jailer is also offered to his whole household. The New Testament takes the unity of the family seriously, and when salvation is offered to the head of the household, it is as a matter of course made available to the rest of the family group including dependents and servants as well…Acts 16:15…It is, however, offered to them on the same terms: they too “have to hear the Word”… Acts 16:31…”believe and be baptized” the jailer’s own faith does not cover them…

“Luke describes the conversion of the jailer in terms of believing in God. As a pagan Gentile, the jailer would be taught about the one true God. Paul has already told him that a person has to believe in Jesus to be saved. To believe in the one true God is to believe in Christ; to believe in Christ is to believe in God. As Jesus said, “When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me”…John 12:44…

…”Luke, in passing, gives two practical examples of the jailer’s new-found faith. He tends the prisoners’ wounds and brings them into his own house and feeds them. It’s doubtful that an army veteran would have shown compassion to prisoners in his prior life. We should also note that Paul has no hesitation at eating with Gentiles, something that would be impossible for a devout Jew to do…

…”We are Romans”…Acts 16:35-38…
“After the meal”, Paul and Silas “voluntarily return to their prison cell”…. The next morning the magistrates send the police officers to the prison with instructions to release the two missionaries. Paul and Silas have paid the penalty for their suspected disturbance of the peace by being beaten and imprisoned overnight. Now they can be freed, and perhaps commanded to leave town…

“But Paul surprises the officers by saying, “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out”..Acts 16:37..

…”When the magistrates learn that Paul and Silas are Roman citizens, they are alarmed…Acts 16:38…They come to the prison, escort the missionaries outside, and plead with them to leave the city peacefully. If any officials appreciate the value of Roman citizenship, it would be the magistrates of a Roman colony. The Valerian and Porcian laws, issued in bygone days, said a citizen could travel anywhere within Roman territory under the protection of Rome. It is illegal to punish or imprison a Roman citizen who appeals for a trial at Rome, rather than under local authorities…

“By the time of this incident at Philippi, the original laws regarding the rights of the arrested had been modified. A Roman citizen might under some circumstances be chained or beaten at the orders of a Roman magistrate..Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament. “However” under no circumstances can any punishment be given “without a trial”. This is the issue Paul brings up. He and Silas were beaten and imprisoned without first being tried…Acts 16:37…

…”We have little evidence of how this exercise of the rights of a citizen is normally made. Neither are we certain how an individual can support his claim of Roman citizenship on the spot. In the case of Paul, he is probably registered as a citizen in the provincial records of Tarsus, and a copy of the registration can be obtained, but that could take months. And we have no evidence that Paul is carrying such a document with him…

“Much of our information on a Roman citizen’s rights regarding trial and appeal actually comes from the book of Acts itself. These matters are touched on in the following verses:…Acts 16:37-39; 22:25-29; 25:9-12; 26:32; 27:1; 28:16…

…”One might wonder why Paul and Silas don’t appeal to their Roman citizenship before they are beaten and imprisoned. Perhaps they do, but in the heat of the moment no one pays any attention to them. Cicero cites a case in which a prisoner is beaten even as he shouts that he is a Roman citizen In Verrem Acts 5.62.. At a later time in Jerusalem, Paul will claim his citizenship rights before being beaten Acts 22:25.. But in that case he is about to be “scourged”, which is a more “deadly form of beating” than that administered by the officers’ rods…

“Paul insists on a “public apology from the magistrates” of Philippi. It serves notice that the missionaries had been wrongly disgraced, which is not so important for Paul, but very helpful for the believers who remain in the city. They will not stand for any arbitrary bad treatment either here or elsewhere in the empire…

…”Leave the city”…Acts 16:39-40…
“Paul and Silas do not leave the city immediately, even though they were requested to. This, too, makes a point with the authorities. Yes, Paul will leave,”but he will not scurry” out of town in “fear” as though he had been guilty of a crime….

What must I do to be saved?

What must I do to be saved?

“The missionaries return to Lydia’s home. There they meet with the believers and encourage them. After this, they leave with Timothy and travel westward toward Thessalonica. Luke may stay in Philippi. This is indicated by the fact that the “we” section ends. It does not begin again until Luke and the other missionaries sail from Philippi several years later…Acts 20:5…

…”During the interim, Luke may be the pastor for the small church in Philippi, which perhaps meets at Lydia’s house. The congregation presumably begins to grow in size, organization and faith. Paul later writes the church a letter, commending it for its continuing concern for him…Philippians 2:25-30; 4:10-19…

Tomorrow we will start on Chapter 17 of Acts…until then…rest in the peace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus-Christ and may God Bless You.


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