on to Part 5, Acts 18:23b-20 - Paul's Third Missionary Journey OR back to J B Phillips New Testament

(Part 4 of 6, chapters 15:40-18:23a)
Paul's Second Missionary Journey

  The order of Paul’s Second Missionary Journey with Silas around AD49-52, returning to Asia Minor and on into Europe

15:40-41 - ..... while Paul chose Silas and set out on his journey, 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

16:1-5 - He also went to Derbe and Lystra. At Lystra there was a disciple by the name of Timothy whose mother was a Jewish Christian, though his father was a Greek. 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. 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. Consequently the churches grew stronger and stronger in the faith and their numbers increased daily.

Paul and Silas find their journey divinely directed

16:6-9 - 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 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 and help us!"

16:10 - 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.

The Gospel comes to Europe: a business-woman is converted

16:11-15 - So we set sail from Troas and ran a straight course to Samothrace, and on the following day to Neapolis. From there we went to Philippi, 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.) She 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

16:16-18 - 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." 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!"

16:19-21 - 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 to accept or practise."

16:22-24 - 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

16:25-28 - 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, 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!"

16:29 - Then the jailer called for lights, rushed in, and trembling all over, fell at the feet of Paul and Silas.

16:30 - He led them outside, and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"

16:31 - And they replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus and then you will be saved, you and your household."

16:32-34 - 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

16:35-36 - 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."

16:37-37 - 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!"

16:38-40 - 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.


Bitter opposition at Thessalonica -

17:1 - Next day they journeyed through Amphipolis and Apollonia and arrived at Thessalonica . Here there was a synagogue of the Jews which Paul entered, following his usual custom.

17:2-9 - 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!" 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 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

17:10-14 - Without delay the brothers despatched Paul and Silas off to Beroea 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, but Silas and Timothy remained there.

17:15 - The men who accompanied Paul took him as far as Athens and returned with instructions for Silas and Timothy to rejoin Paul as soon as possible.

Paul is irritated by the idols of Athens

17:16-18a - 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?" Others said,"He seems to be trying to proclaim some more gods to us, and outlandish ones at that!"

17:18b-21 - For Paul was actually proclaiming "Jesus" and "the resurrection". So they got hold of him and conducted him to their council, the Areopagus. 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's speech to the "gentlemen of Athens"

17:22-31 - So Paul got to his feet in the middle of their council, and began, "Gentlemen of Athens, my own eyes tell me that you are in all respects an extremely religious people. 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 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 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 from the dead."

17:32 - 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."

17:33-34 - 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.


At Corinth Paul is yet again rejected by the Jews

18:1-6 - Before long Paul left Athens and went on to Corinth 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. He went to see them 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."

18:7-8 - 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. Then one night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision.

18:9-10 - "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."

18:11 - So Paul settled down there for eighteen months and taught them God's message.

Paul's enemies fail to impress the governor

18:12-13 - Then, while Gallio was governor of Achaia 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."

18:14-15 - 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."

18:16-17 - 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.

Paul returns, reports to Jerusalem and Antioch

18:18a - Paul stayed for some time after this incident ....

18:18b-23a - ......... and then took leave of the brothers and sailed for Syria, taking Priscilla and Aquila with him. At Cenchrea he had his hair cut short, for he had taken a solemn vow. 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". 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. He spent some time there before he left ......

to top of page

on to Part 5, Acts 18:23b-20 - Paul's Third Missionary Journey OR back to J B Phillips New Testament