Acts 16: Trial of Our Faith

Apparently, Timothy was already a follower of Jesus when he met Paul. What might have been the circumstances that led him to the Lord?

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Acts 16:1 After ministering in Derbe, Paul and Silas arrived in Lystra, where they met a believer named Timothy, whose mother was Jewish, his father, Greek.
16:2 The followers of Jesus in Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him.
King James
Acts 16:1 Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek:
16:2 Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium.

Why might Paul have wanted Timothy to join him?

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Acts 16:3 Wanting Timothy to join them on their journey, Paul circumcised him in respect to his Jewish faith although everybody knew his father was Greek.
King James
Acts 16:3 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.

With a Greek father, Timothy would have been regarded as a non-Jew. With the decision that had already been made in Jerusalem, why do you think Paul thought he should be circumcised?

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Acts 16:3 Wanting Timothy to join them on their journey, Paul circumcised him in respect to his Jewish faith although everybody knew his father was Greek.
16:4 As they went from city to city, they called only for the keeping of the rules established by the apostles and church leaders at Jerusalem.
King James
Acts 16:3 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.
16:4 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.

Why might freedom from all the requirements of the Mosaic Law have promoted growth of the church?

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Acts 16:5 With that instruction, the gatherings were strengthened in their faith and were continually growing.
King James
Acts 16:5 And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.

By what means do you think the Holy Spirit redirected Paul’s steps?

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Acts 16:7 When they reached Mysia, they wanted to go on to Bithynia, but the Holy Spirit said no.
16:8 So they went on through Mysia to Troas.
King James
Acts 16:7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.
16:8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.

Some scholars believe Luke joined Paul at Troas. However, if Luke is the Lucius of Cyrene mentioned in Acts 13:1, he would have been a longtime associate of Paul and could have been a constant companion. When do you think Luke joined Paul?

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Acts 13:1 The prophets and teachers at the Antioch church included Barnabas and Saul, Simeon who was black, Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, a childhood companion of Herod Antipas.
16:8 So they went on through Mysia to Troas.
King James
Acts 13:1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
16:8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.

What process might Luke have used in learning the details and documenting all the information recorded in the book of Acts?

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Luke 1:1 Many people have written about what God has done in fulfillment of his promises.
1:2 All these accounts owe their source to the early disciples and other eyewitnesses who saw him with their own eyes and touched him with their own hands.
1:3 They have been carefully investigated,
1:4 so you may be certain that this record is accurate.
King James
Luke 1:1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,
1:2 Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;
1:3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,
1:4 That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.

Why would Paul have thought his invitation to Macedonia in a dream was from the Lord and not just a mysterious process of the human mind?

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Acts 16:9 During the night, Paul saw a Macedonian man in a vision, standing before him, entreating him. “Come across the sea and help us in Macedonia.”
16:10 Now convinced that God had called them to preach the message of Jesus Christ there, Paul, Silas, and Luke immediately booked passage to Macedonia.
King James
Acts 16:9 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.
16:10 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.

Why was it important to leave immediately?

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Acts 16:10 Now convinced that God had called them to preach the message of Jesus Christ there, Paul, Silas, and Luke immediately booked passage to Macedonia.
King James
Acts 16:10 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.

The travel by ship took more than one day. Who else might have been on that ship, and what do you suppose Paul and his company would have said to them?

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Acts 16:11 The ship from Troas sailed straight to Samothrace, then to Neapolis the next day.
King James
Acts 16:11 Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis.

When the group arrived at Philippi in Macedonia, what kinds of expectations might they have had? Do you think they anticipated staying there for a long time? Why or why not?

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Acts 16:12 When they reached Philippi, a prominent city in Macedonia, which was a community with many people, they stayed for a long time.
King James
Acts 16:12 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.

How might Paul have heard about the people who gathered for prayer on the Sabbath? Why would they be at the river outside the city, not in the synagogue?

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Acts 16:13 On the Sabbath, they went to the river outside the city, a customary place for prayer. They sat at the riverbank and spoke to the women gathered there.
King James
Acts 16:13 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 resorted thither.

Before she met Paul, what do you think Lydia’s religious background was?

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Acts 16:14 A woman named Lydia, a seller of expensive garments in the city of Thyatira, was eager to hear everything Paul had to say, worshiping God.
King James
Acts 16:14 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.

Why might Paul and his party have been reluctant to stay in Lydia’s home? Would they have been willing to stay with someone who wasn’t a believer? Why or why not?

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Acts 16:15 After she and her household were baptized, she begged them to lodge in her home, saying, “If you know I’m a faithful follower of Christ, then stay with us.” She wouldn’t take no for an answer.
King James
Acts 16:15 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.

When the woman with a clairvoyant spirit showed up, where do you think people were gathered for prayer?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 16:13 On the Sabbath, they went to the river outside the city, a customary place for prayer. They sat at the riverbank and spoke to the women gathered there.
16:16 As they gathered for prayer, a young woman with a clairvoyant spirit showed up. With her fortunetelling, she made a lot of money for her owners.
King James
Acts 16:13 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 resorted thither.
16:16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:

If the woman following Paul was speaking the truth, what was the problem?

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Acts 16:17 She kept following Paul and the others, shouting, “These men are servants of the most high God. They proclaim the way to salvation.”
King James
Acts 16:17 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.

Surely on the first day, Paul recognized a problem with what the clairvoyant woman was saying. Why would he have waited “many days” before he commanded the evil spirit to leave?

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Acts 16:18 She did this for many days, until finally Paul, weary of her words, turned and said to the evil spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ, I command you to come out of her.” Immediately the spirit left her.
King James
Acts 16:18 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.

How do we know the deliverance of the woman was real, that she was not merely using her own intuition and psychic skills?

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Acts 16:19 When her owners saw that she could no longer provide them with wealth, they grabbed Paul and Silas and brought them before the city officials in the public square.
King James
Acts 16:19 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.

How do you think the owners described the “trouble” they claimed was being stirred up in the city?

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Acts 16:19 When her owners saw that she could no longer provide them with wealth, they grabbed Paul and Silas and brought them before the city officials in the public square,
16:20 saying, “These Jews are stirring up a lot of trouble in our city.
16:21 They teach customs that are against Roman law to practice or even hear.”
King James
Acts 16:19 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,
16:20 And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,
16:21 And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.

What would have motivated the officials to order the beating and imprisonment of Paul and Silas?

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Acts 16:22 A mob cried out against them, so the officials ordered the men stripped and beaten with rods.
16:23 After many stripes had been laid upon their backs, they were put in prison with a warning to the jailor to be sure they didn’t escape.
King James
Acts 16:22 And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.
16:23 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely.

Why do you think the jailor was warned not to let the prisoners escape?

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Acts 16:23 After many stripes had been laid upon their backs, they were put in prison with a warning to the jailor to be sure they didn’t escape.
King James
Acts 16:23 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely.

What security measures did the jailor take to make escape impossible?

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Acts 16:24 So they were locked up in the innermost dungeon, with their feet secured in wooden stocks.
King James
Acts 16:24 Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.

After Paul and Silas had been severely beaten and locked in a dungeon, what might have motivated them to pray and sing praises to God?

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Acts 16:25 At midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing praises to God, loud enough for everyone in the prison to hear.
King James
Acts 16:25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.

How do you think other prisoners felt when they heard prayer and singing?

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Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 16:25 At midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing praises to God, loud enough for everyone in the prison to hear.
King James
Acts 16:25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.

If you were reporting the event, what would you say was the center of the strong earthquake and the extent of its damage?

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Acts 16:26 Suddenly a strong earthquake shook the prison foundation. All the doors flew open, and all the prisoners were freed from their shackles.
King James
Acts 16:26 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.

How would you explain how an earthquake could have freed prisoners from their shackles?

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Acts 16:26 Suddenly a strong earthquake shook the prison foundation. All the doors flew open, and all the prisoners were freed from their shackles.
King James
Acts 16:26 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.

Why do you think Paul and Silas didn’t flee? Why would the other prisoners have remained in their cells?

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Acts 16:27 Now awake from sleep, the jailor drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he assumed that all the prisoners had fled,
16:28 but Paul shouted, “Don’t kill yourself. We’re all here.”
King James
Acts 16:27 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.
16:28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.

Why would a jailor want to kill himself when an earthquake had made escape possible?

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Acts 16:27 Now awake from sleep, the jailor drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he assumed that all the prisoners had fled,
16:28 but Paul shouted, “Don’t kill yourself. We’re all here.”
King James
Acts 16:27 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.
16:28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.

What might have motivated the jailor to kneel before Paul and Silas?

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Acts 16:29 The jailor called for lighting the lamps, then ran to the interior of the prison where he knelt before Paul and Silas.
King James
Acts 16:29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas.

What motivated the jailor to take his prisoners to his own house?

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Acts 16:30 After securing the rest of the prisoners, he brought them to his house. “Sirs,” he said, “what must I do to be saved?”
King James
Acts 16:30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

What is involved in completely trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ? How is that important for salvation?

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Acts 16:31 “Completely trust in the Lord Jesus Christ,” they said. “You and everyone here can be saved.”
King James
Acts 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

When the jailor and his household became believers and were baptized, why might we think they were filled with the Holy Spirit?

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Acts 2:38 “Repent,” Peter said, “and be baptized. By the authority of Jesus Christ, your sins will be forgiven and you will receive this gift of the Holy Spirit.
16:32 Every person in the house heard the message about Jesus
16:33 and became his followers. In that hour, still in the dark of night, the jailor washed their wounds. Then he and his household left to be baptized.
King James
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
16:32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.
16:33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.

Under these circumstances, what kind of table might have been set before Paul and Silas?

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Acts 16:34 When they returned home, he spread a feast before Paul and Silas as everyone rejoiced in celebration of having come to know Jesus.
King James
Acts 16:34 And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.

When the city officials sent officers to order the release from prison, where do you think Paul and Silas were?

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Acts 16:35 The next morning, the city officials sent the officers who had beaten Paul and Silas to say, “Let those men go.”
King James
Acts 16:35 And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go.

How would those who had beaten Paul feel about ordering his release?

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Acts 16:35 The next morning, the city officials sent the officers who had beaten Paul and Silas to say, “Let those men go.”
King James
Acts 16:35 And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go.

How would the jailor have felt when he delivered the message? What response might he have expected from Paul?

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Acts 16:36 So the jailor said to Paul, “The city officials have said I am to release you, so you can now go in peace.”
King James
Acts 16:36 And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace.

Why did Paul refuse to leave the prison? Why do you think he chose to mention his Roman citizenship now, and not before he was beaten?

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Acts 16:37 “No,” Paul said. “Without a trial, they beat us in the public square and sent us to prison. Do they now expect to quietly get rid of us, being Roman citizens? Let them come and make a public show of releasing us.”
King James
Acts 16:37 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.

What consequence did the city officials fear when they learned that they had beaten a Roman citizen without first convening a trial?

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Acts 16:38 When the officers repeated those words, the city officials feared when they heard that Paul and Silas were Romans.
King James
Acts 16:38 And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans.

Why do you think Paul chose to (1) leave the city and (2) not make a public complaint?

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Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 16:39 So they went to the prison and brought them out, begging them to leave the city without making a public complaint.
King James
Acts 16:39 And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city.

How much of their story about imprisonment and release would Paul and Silas have shared with believers?

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Acts 16:40 Before they left the city, Paul and Silas went to the house of Lydia to encourage and strengthen them in the faith.
King James
Acts 16:40 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.