Timothy Joins Paul and Silas
 Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek.  He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium.  Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.  As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem.  So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.
The Macedonian Call
 And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.  And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.  So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.  And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”  And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
The Conversion of Lydia
 So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis,  and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days.  And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together.  One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.  And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us. (ESV)
- Timothy’s circumcision
In this text we are introduced to Timothy, the son of a Jewish Christian mother and an unbelieving Greek father. Given the mission to deliver the verdict of the Jerusalem counsel to Jews living in other regions, Timothy was circumcised. At first glance this may seem out of line with Paul’s strong words against requiring circumcision of new believers in Galatians (Galatians 2:11-16). Why, then, was Timothy circumcised? There is a fundamental difference between being circumcised out of respect, as is the case in Acts 16, and requiring circumcision for salvation, as was the case in Galatia. Works are not bad, but relying on works for salvation is inconsistent with the Gospel. The distinction matters.
- When the Spirit says “No”
Perhaps one of the most surprising things in this text is the Spirit of God prohibiting Paul and Timothy from entering specific regions for Gospel work (Acts 16:6-7). Why would the Spirit of God keep Paul and Timothy from certain places? One reason this text offers is that God had other plans for them. Rather than Asia or Bithynai, God wanted them in Macedonia. God is all about bringing the good news of the Gospel to the entire world. But he’s not doing it all at once, nor is he doing it through a single missions team. We each play a role in God’s mission and his plans for us are particular. That means sometimes God will keep us from certain tasks in order to use us for others.
- Lydia’s conversion
At first glance, Paul and Timothy’s interaction with Lydia may seem coincidental. They just happened to run into her at a place where people from the community gathered for prayer, and Lydia just happened to be there. However, Luke tells us that Lydia was already a believer in God, meaning she had rejected the prevalent polytheism of her day and committed herself to the monotheistic worldview of the Jewish people. But she still had not heard about Jesus. Upon hearing the news, she and her family converted and were baptized. God was at work in Lydia long before Paul and Timothy showed up, and he would continue to work in and through her long after they left.
- What is the difference between being circumcised out of respect and being circumcised as a requirement for salvation? What are some more modern examples of this principle?
- Has God ever closed a door in your life that made no sense at the time? Where did that closed door eventually lead you?
- How might the story of Lydia’s conversion encourage you in mission?
Call to Worship
His Steadfast Love Endures Forever
 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
 Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
 Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
 to him who alone does great wonders,
for his steadfast love endures forever; (ESV)
Prayer of Confession
Our Father in Heaven, we have known the way of the Lord and the justice of our God, and yet have followed the way of sin. We know that the law curses everyone who does not abide by all of it, that the wages of sin is death, and that because of these the wrath of God is coming. But you have said that if we confess our sins, you are faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. So Lord, we do confess, and we plead for your forgiveness and your cleansing. Amen.
Family Discipleship Weekly Resources
Family Discipleship Weekly Resources are tools for families to use to help connect Sunday’s sermon to the rest of your week, fostering conversations and habits of worship.