ACTS of the
With people, places, definitions, map ......
Part 4 of 6, chapters 15:40-18:23a
Paul's Second Missionary Journey
Map - Pauls Second Missionary Journey, with Silas returning to Asia Minor and on into Europe c AD49-52
Map Key: 1. Paul's Second Journey as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. Also in text in [red square brackets]
PAUL & SILAS CROSS ASIA MINOR AND REACH TROAS; PAUL'S VISION OF THE MACEDONIAN MAN IN EUROPE
Acts 15:40-16:9 - (Barnabas & Mark sail for Cyprus ....) while Paul chose Silas and set out on his journey (from Syrian Antioch ), commended to the grace of the Lord by the brothers as he did so. He travelled through Syria  and Cilicia  and strengthened the churches.
Paul chooses Timothy as companion
(Chapter 16 ....) He also went to Derbe  and Lystra . At Lystra there was a disciple by the name of Timothy whose mother (Eunice) was a Jewish Christian, though his father was a Greek. ....
Timothy - Over the next 18 years, Timothy is frequently found working alongside Paul. After joining him at Lystra at the start of the Second Journey, they travel to Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea. There Paul is forced to leave and taken to Athens, while Timothy and Silas stay (Acts 17:14). They later join Paul, and from Athens, Timothy, and probably Silas are sent north again to Thessalonica to encourage the church (1 Thessalonians 3:1-2). Later, back with Paul who is now in Corinth (Acts 18:5), they give a favourable report (1 Thessalonians 3:6) and Paul writes his First, and later Second Letters to the Thessalonians, c AD52. Both Timothy and Silas are included in the opening greetings (verses 1:1).
During the Third Journey c AD53-58, we next meet Timothy at Ephesus, being sent by Paul to help the church at Corinth (1 Corinthians 4:17). The Corinthians are asked to support him on his arrival (1 Corinthians 16:10). Later, back in Ephesus, he and Erastus are sent on ahead of Paul to Macedonia (Acts 19:22).
When Paul reaches Macedonia and writes his Second Letter to the Corinthians c AD57, Timothy is included in the opening greetings (1:1). He also refers to Timothy as one of those who preached the Gospel in Corinth five years earlier during the Second Journey (2 Corinthians 1:19).
As the Third Journey comes to a close, they arrive in Corinth from Macedonia, and when Paul writes his Letter to the Romans, Timothy is again listed in the greetings (Romans 16:21). Then as Paul returns to Jerusalem, Timothy is one of his travelling companions, c AD58 (Acts 20:4).
A few years later, c AD61-63, Timothy is staying in Rome with the imprisoned Paul, and included in the opening greetings of three Letters - to the Philippians, the Colossians, and to Philemon (all verses 1:1). The Letter to Philippi includes the hope that the much valued Timothy would pay them a visit (Philippians 2:19,22).
After Paul's presumed release, Paul writes his First Letter to Timothy (1:2,18; 6:20), perhaps from Macedonia. Then his Second Letter (1:2), but this time from prison in Rome just before his execution c AD67. Both Letters are sent to Ephesus where Timothy is a minister, to instruct, encourage and strengthen him.
Finally, the author of Hebrews (13:23) reports that "brother Timothy is now at liberty", but the circumstances are not known.
Eunice - 2 Timothy 1:5 identifies Eunice as Timothy's mother, and Lois as his grandmother
.... Timothy was held in high regard by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium, and Paul wanted to take him on as his companion. Everybody knew his father was a Greek, and Paul therefore had him circumcised because of the attitude of the Jews in these places. ....
- After the battles so recently fought in Jerusalem over the acceptance of Gentiles into the Church, it may seem strange that Paul has Timothy circumcised. But as his mother was a Jew, the uncircumcised Timothy would not have been accepted by other Jews -
.... As they went on their way through the cities they passed on to them for their observance the decisions which had been reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem (during the Church Council to discuss Gentile converts). Consequently the churches grew stronger and stronger in the faith and their numbers increased daily.
Paul and Silas find their journey divinely directed
They made their way through Phrygia  and Galatia , but the Holy Spirit prevented them from speaking God's message in Asia. When they came to Mysia  they tried to enter Bithynia, but again the (Holy) Spirit of Jesus would not allow them. So they passed by Mysia and came down to Troas , where one night Paul had a vision of a Macedonian man standing and appealing to him in the words: "Come over to Macedonia (in Europe) and help us!" .....
THEY CROSS TO EUROPE AND REACH PHILIPPI; LYDIA, AND THEN PAUL'S JAILER ARE CONVERTED
Philippi - The ruins of Philippi are near modern Kavalla in northern Greece. It was then a city of Macedonia founded by Philip, the father of Alexander the Great. A Roman colony and military centre, governed directly from Rome, Philippi was situated on the Via Egnatian, the highway running east and west linking Rome to Byzantium (Istanbul):
Acts 16:10-40 - These verses include the first of four "We" sections (Acts 16:10-17) in which Luke, the author of Acts apparently gives an eye-witness account:
.... As soon as Paul had seen this vision we made every effort to get on to Macedonia, convinced that God had called us to give them the good news.
- Another momentous step in the recorded expansion of the Church. As Macedonia is in Europe, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, starting in Asia, and carried into Africa, is about to enter a third continent -
The Gospel comes to Europe: a business-woman is converted
So we set sail from Troas and ran a straight course to (the island of) Samothrace , and on the following day to Neapolis . From there we went to Philippi  (to where Paul wrote his Letter to the Philippians), a Roman garrison-town and the chief city in that part of Macedonia. We spent some days in Philippi and on the Sabbath day we went out of the city gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place for prayer. There we sat down and spoke to the women who had assembled. One of our hearers was a woman named Lydia. (She came from Thyatira and was a dealer in purple-dyed cloth.) ....
Lydia - Her home-town of Thyatira in the province of Asia is one of the seven churches John later wrote to in Revelations 2:18-29. As a dealer in purple-dyed cloth - the dye, Tyrian purple, came from a rare sea-shell and the expensive cloth was only worn by the wealthy - she must have been a successful business-woman. Also, as a woman, she is the first named convert in Europe, and as there was no synagogue, and of course, no churches, her home may have served as the first church in Philippi, and thus Europe. Luke also appears to have stayed there during his time in Philippi. Unfortunately, this is the first and almost the last time we hear of her -
.... She (Lydia) was already a believer in God, and she opened her heart to accept Paul's words. When she and her household had been baptised, she appealed to us, saying, "If you are satisfied that I am a true-believer in the Lord, then come down to my house and stay there."
And she insisted on our doing so.
Conflict with evil spirits and evil men
One day while we were going to the place of prayer we were met by a young girl who had a spirit of clairvoyance and brought her owners a good deal of profit by foretelling the future. She would follow Paul and the rest of us, crying out, "These men are servants of the most high God, and they are telling you the way of salvation." (the first "We" section now ends. Verse 18 continues ....) She continued this behaviour for many days, and then Paul, in a burst of irritation, turned round and spoke to the spirit in her. "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!"
And it came out immediately. but when the girl's owners saw that their hope of making money out of her had disappeared, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities in the market-square. There they brought them before the chief magistrates, and said, "These men are Jews and are causing a great disturbance in our city. They are proclaiming customs which it is illegal for us as Roman citizens (Philippi was a colonial town established for discharged Roman soldiers, Roman citizens by right) to accept or practise."
At this the crowd joined in the attack, and the magistrates had them stripped and ordered them to be beaten with rods. Then, after giving them a severe beating, they threw them into prison, instructing the jailer to keep them safe. On receiving such strict orders, he hustled them into the inner jail and fastened their feet securely in the stocks.
The midnight deliverance: the jailer becomes a Christian
But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God while the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, big enough to shake the foundations of the prison. Immediately all the doors flew open and everyone's chains were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the doors of the prison had been opened he drew his sword and was on the point of killing himself (... jailers and guards suffered the same fate as an escaping prisoner was sentenced to), for he imagined that all the prisoners had escaped. But Paul called out to him at the top of his voice, "Don't hurt yourself - we are all here!"
Then the jailer called for lights, rushed in, and trembling all over, fell at the feet of Paul and Silas.
- Paul preaches a very brief sermon (Acts 16:30-31 following) on how to be saved through Jesus Christ -
(Verse 30 starts ....) He (the jailer) led them outside, and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
And they (Paul and Silas) replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus and then you will be saved, you and your household."
(Verse 32 continues....) Then they told him and all the members of his household the message of God. There and then in the middle of the night he took them aside and washed their wounds and he himself and all his family were baptised without delay. Then he took them into his house and offered them food, he and his whole household overjoyed at finding faith in God.
Paul, in a strong position, makes the authorities apologise
When morning came, the magistrates sent their constables with the message, "Let those men go." The jailer reported this message to Paul, saying, "The magistrates have sent to have you released. So now you can leave this place and go on your way in peace."
But Paul said to the constables, "They beat us publicly without any kind of trial; they threw us into prison despite the fact that we are Roman citizens. And now do they want to get rid of us in this underhand way? Oh no, let them come and take us out themselves!"
Roman citizens - They were only a small proportion of the total population, say 5 million in an Empire of 50-100 million - the rest being either free men or slaves. Citizenship offered special privileges, and was only granted to Italians, important or valued people from the provinces, inhabitants of Roman colonial towns such as Pisidian Antioch, Philippi and Corinth, and soldiers enrolled in the legions. They were subject to Roman Law and not to that of the provinces. To be born a citizen, Paul must have come from a highly privileged family -
The constables reported this to the magistrates, who were thoroughly alarmed when they heard that they were Romans. So they came in person and apologized to them, and after taking them outside the prison, requested them to leave the city. But on leaving the prison Paul and Silas went to Lydia's house, and when they had seen the brothers and given them fresh courage, they took their leave (of Philippi).
IN THESSALONICA THEY ARE REJECTED BY THE JEWS; IN BEREA, THEY ARE ACCEPTED, BUT HAVE TO LEAVE
Thessalonica - Modern Salonika or Thessalonika. A free city, capital of the Roman province of Macedonia in northern Greece. Thessalonica was a major port, and like Philippi, located on the east-west Egnatian highway, and thus an important centre of trade by land and by sea:
Acts 17:1-14 - Next day they journeyed through Amphipolis  and Apollonia  and arrived at Thessalonica  (later in this, his Second Missionary Journey, Paul wrote the First and Second Letters to the Thessalonians, probably from Corinth). Here there was a synagogue of the Jews which Paul entered, following his usual custom.
- Paul proclaims very clearly to the Jews (Acts 17:2-3 following) that Jesus is their long-awaited Messiah -
(Verse 2 starts ....) On three Sabbath days he argued with them from the scriptures, explaining and quoting passages to prove the necessity for the death of Christ and his rising again from the dead. "This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you," he concluded, "is God's Christ!" (Verse 4 continues....) Some of them were convinced and threw in their lot with Paul and Silas, and they were joined by a great many believing Greeks and a considerable number of influential women. But the Jews, in a fury of jealousy, got hold of some of the unprincipled loungers of the market-place, gathered a crowd together and set the city in an uproar. Then they attacked Jason's house ....
Jason - Two Jason's appear in the New Testament. Paul's host, here in Thessalonica whose house has been attacked and himself arrested. Then in Romans 16:21, Paul includes greetings from a Jason, presumably in Corinth to the church at Rome. These may well be the same man -
.... in an attempt to bring Paul and Silas out before the people. When they could not find them they hustled Jason and some of the brothers before the civic authorities, shouting, "These are the men who have turned the world upside down and have now come here, and Jason has taken them into his house. What is more, all these men act against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king called Jesus!" By these words the Jews succeeded in alarming both the people and the authorities, and they only released Jason and the others after binding them over to keep the peace.
- followed by encouragement at Beroea
Without delay the brothers despatched Paul and Silas off to Beroea (or Berea)  that night. On their arrival there they went to the Jewish synagogue. The Jews proved more generous-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they accepted the message most eagerly and studied the scriptures every day to see if what they were now being told were true. Many of them became believers, as did a number of Greek women of social standing and quite a number of men. But when the Jews at Thessalonica found out that God's message had been proclaimed by Paul at Beroea as well, they came there too to cause trouble and spread alarm among the people. The brothers at Beroea then sent Paul off at once to make his way to the sea-coast (near Beroea) , but Silas and Timothy remained there.
PAUL IS TAKEN TO ATHENS; HE ADDRESSES THE "PHILOSOPHERS", BUT TO LITTLE APPARENT EFFECT
Acts 17:15-21, 32-34 - The men who accompanied Paul took him as far as Athens  and returned with instructions for Silas and Timothy (still in Berea) to rejoin Paul as soon as possible.
Paul is irritated by the idols of Athens
Paul had some days to wait at Athens for Silas and Timothy to arrive, and while he was there his soul was exasperated beyond endurance at the sight of a city so completely idolatrous. He felt compelled to discuss the matter with the Jews in the synagogue as well as the God-fearing Gentiles, and he even argued daily in the open market-place with the passers-by. While he was speaking there some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers came across him, and some of them remarked, "What is this cock-sparrow trying to say?"
- The various Greek philosophies were a powerful intellectual force in the Roman Empire. Very roughly, the Epicureans believed the highest good came from the pursuit of personal happiness; the Stoics from controlling feelings and passions:
Others said,"He seems to be trying to proclaim some more gods to us, and outlandish ones at that!"
For Paul was actually proclaiming "Jesus" and "the resurrection". So they got hold of him and conducted him to their council, the Areopagus (... Greek for the "Hill of Mars"; normally used as the meeting place for the Upper Council or high court of Athens). There they asked him, "May we know what this new teaching of yours really is? You talk of matters which sound strange to our ears, and we should like to know what they mean." (For all Athenians, and even foreign visitors to Athens, had an obsession for any novelty and would spend their whole time talking about or listening to anything new.)
PAUL ADDRESSES THE PHILOSOPHERS OF ATHENS ABOUT THEIR "UNKNOWN GOD"
- After Paul was driven from Thessalonica and Berea in Macedonia, he was taken south by ship to Athens in the province of Achaia. While waiting for Silas and Timothy to join him from Berea, he has the opportunity to address a group of philosophers. They are prepared to listen to him talk about God, but when he comes to Jesus and his resurrection from the dead, Paul is soon brought to a halt:
Acts 17:22-31 - So Paul got to his feet in the middle of their council (the "Areopagus" where the philosophers of Athens could meet to discuss new ideas), and began, "Gentlemen of Athens, my own eyes tell me that you are in all respects an extremely religious people (... Paul uses the philosopher's own debating style). For as I made my way here and looked at your shrines I noticed one altar (one of a number in Athens) on which were inscribed the words, TO GOD THE UNKNOWN. It is this God whom you are worshipping in ignorance that I am here to proclaim to you! God who made the world and all that is in it, being Lord of both Heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by human hands, nor is he ministered to by human hands, as though he had need of anything - seeing that he is the one who gives to all men life and breath and everything else. From one forefather (Adam) he has created every race of men to live over the face of the whole earth. He has determined the times of their existence and the limits of their habitation, so that they might search for God, in the hope that they might feel for him and find him - yes, even though he is not far from any one of us. Indeed, it is in him that we live and move and have our being. Some of your own poets (... Aratus, Cleanthes and Epimenides speaking about the god Zeus) have endorsed this in the words, 'For we are indeed his children'. If then we are the children of God, we ought not to imagine God in terms of gold or silver or stone, contrived by human art or imagination. Now while it is true that God has overlooked the days of ignorance he now commands all men everywhere to repent (because of the gift of his son Jesus). For he has fixed a day on which he will judge the whole world in justice by the standard of a man whom he has appointed. That this is so he has guaranteed to all men by raising this man (Jesus) from the dead."
Acts 17:32-34 - But when his audience heard Paul talk about the resurrection from the dead some of them laughed outright, but others said, "We should like to hear you speak again on this subject."
So with this mixed reception Paul retired from their assembly. Yet some did in fact join him and accept the faith, including Dionysius a member of the Areopagus, a woman by the name of Damaris, and some others as well.
Dionysius & Damaris - No more is heard of them in the New Testament. Traditionally, Damaris was the wife of Dionysius, and he became the first bishop of Athens.
PAUL GOES TO CORINTH; MEETS AQUILA & PRISCILLA; APPEARS BEFORE GALLIO; STAYS FOR 18 MONTHS
Corinth - The original Corinth is near modern Corinth in southern Greece. An ancient Greek city, and chief town of the Roman province of Achaia, it was at this time governed by proconsul Gallio. Located near the narrow strip of land separating the Adriatic from the Aegean Seas, and through which ran the north-south highway linking the rest of Greece with the southern Peloponnesus, Corinth was a vital centre of commerce. A cosmopolitan city with the temple of Aphrodite - goddess of love and fertility - and with two nearby ports including Cenchrea, Corinth was well known for its sexual immorality -
Acts 18:1-18a - Before long Paul left Athens and went on to Corinth  (to where Paul sent the First and Second Letters, and possibly others, to the Corinthian Christians) where he found a Jew called Aquila, a native of Pontus. This man had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla because Claudius had issued a decree that all Jews should leave Rome. ....
Emperor Claudius, who ruled Rome from AD41-54, decreed in c AD50, that Jewish agitators, stirred up by "Chrestus" (Christ) should be expelled from Rome. This is confirmed by the Roman historians Dio Cassius and Suetonius;
Aquila & Priscilla (or Prisca) - After meeting Paul in Corinth, they sail with him from Cenchrea as he returns to Palestine in c AD52 at the close of his Second Journey (Acts 18:18). However, they remain at Ephesus, and after meeting Apollos the Alexandrian Jew, teach him about the Gospel of Jesus (Acts 18:26). Still in Ephesus, they are included in Paul's greetings to the church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 16:19) written in c AD56 or 57 during his Third Journey.
The edict against the Jews in Rome having been lifted or found unworkable, Aquila and Priscilla apparently returned to Rome by c AD57 because they are listed in Paul's greetings to the Christians of the imperial city (Romans 16:3). The last mention of them is in Paul's Second Letter to Timothy 4:19 in c AD67. Paul sends his greetings to Ephesus, which they were either visiting or had moved back to possibly for business reasons (tent-making). This one couple shows how people of the Roman Empire could travel with an ease that was not to return until the mid-19th century.
In the seven mentions of this much valued husband and wife team, Priscilla is placed first five times - perhaps reflecting her important role in the early church -
.... He (Paul) went to see them (Aquila and Priscillla) in their house and because they practised the same trade as himself he stayed with them. They all worked together, for their trade was tent-making. Every Sabbath Paul used to speak in the synagogue trying to persuade both Jews and Greeks. By the time Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia Paul was completely absorbed in preaching the message, showing the Jews as clearly as he could that Jesus is Christ. However, when they turned against him and abused him he shook his garments at them, and said, "Your blood be on your heads! From now on I go with a perfectly clear conscience to the Gentiles."
Then he left them and went to the house of a man called Titius Justus, a man who reverenced God and whose house was next door to the synagogue. Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, became a believer in the Lord, with all his household, and many of the Corinthians who heard the message believed and were baptised......
Titius Justus - He is only mentioned this one time;
Crispus - Later identified by Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:14 as one of the few people he personally baptised in Corinth -
..... Then one night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision.
"Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and let no one silence you, for I myself am with you and no man shall lift a finger to harm you. There are many in this city who belong to me."
So Paul settled down there for eighteen months (his second longest recorded stay in a city during his three Missionary Journeys) and taught them God's message.
Paul's enemies fail to impress the governor
Then, while Gallio was governor of Achaia ....
Gallio - The Roman governor or proconsul of the province of Achaia, was appointed by the emperor Claudius in c AD51 or 52. As Gallio's appointment was included in an inscription discovered in Greece in 1905, this is an important event in Paul's travels, one of the few that can be dated with any real accuracy. Gallio's brother was the famous Stoic philosopher Seneca, tutor to the emperor Nero who reigned AD54-68 -
.... the Jews banded together to attack Paul, and took him to court, saying, "This man is perverting men's minds to make them worship God in a way that is contrary to the Law."
Paul was all ready to speak, but before he could utter a word Gallio said to the Jews, "Listen, Jews! If this were a matter of some crime or wrong-doing I might reasonably be expected to put up with you. But since it is a question which concerns a word and names and your own Law, you must attend to it yourselves. I flatly refuse to be judge in these matters."
And he had them ejected from the court. Then they got hold of Sosthenes, the synagogue-leader, and beat him in front of the court-house. But Gallio remained completely unmoved.
Sosthenes - The only other Sosthenes is found in the First Letter to the Corinthians 1:1, written from Ephesus back to Corinth some 5 years later. Here Paul refers to a Christian brother of this name. It is quite possible that only a few years after being one of those accusing Paul of "perverting men's minds", and being beaten for his efforts, Sosthenes the synagogue-leader had become a follower of Christ, and secretary to Paul -
Paul returns, reports to Jerusalem and Antioch
Paul stayed for some time (in Corinth) after this incident ......
- During the stay in Corinth, Paul is believed to have written his First and Second Letters to the Thessalonians, visited earlier in this, his Second Missionary Journey. The two letters are introduced shortly. But first his return to Syrian Antioch via Jerusalem:
PAUL SAILS FOR PALESTINE VIA EPHESUS; VISITS THE JERUSALEM CHURCH AND RETURNS TO SYRIAN ANTIOCH
Acts 18:18b-23a - ......... and then (Paul) took leave of the brothers and sailed for Syria, taking Priscilla and Aquila with him. At Cenchrea  (one of the two ports of Corinth) he had his hair cut short, for he had taken a solemn vow. ....
Vow - Probably a Nazarite vow taken by Jews to give thanks to God for his goodness. This is described in the Old Testament in Numbers 6:1-2.1. It involved not taking meat or wine for a period and letting the hair grow. Then an offering was made, and the hair shorn and burnt at the altar. Although a strictly Jewish custom, Paul does not appear to have persuaded any Jewish Christians to abandon their ancient practises. It would therefore be natural for him to show his gratitude to God in a time-honoured way -
.... They all arrived at Ephesus  and there Paul left Aquila and Priscilla, but he himself went into the synagogue and debated with the Jews. When they asked him to stay longer he refused, bidding them farewell with the words, "If if is God's will I will come back to you again" (which he does on his Third Missionary Journey). Then he set sail from Ephesus and went down to Caesarea . Here he disembarked and after paying his respects to the Church in Jerusalem , he went down to Antioch  (Syrian Antioch!). He spent some time there before he left (on his Third Journey) ......
Paul's two Letters to the Thessalonians, probably written from Corinth during his recent stay there, are now introduced. Although these may be the earliest of Paul's surviving letters, they are fairly short, and therefore placed towards the end of his Epistles in the New Testament. His Letters start with Romans, the longest:
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