Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Second Journey

Acts 16:3 (NLT)
so Paul wanted him to join them on their journey. In deference to the Jews of the area, he arranged for Timothy to be circumcised before they left, for everyone knew that his father was a Greek.

- This passage fascinates me because it shows how accomodating Paul was towards those to whom he is appealing. Somewhere else he writes that " the Jews I became a Jew. To the Greeks, Greek; that I might win some to Christ Jesus... (my fractured paraphrase from memory.)

But, we also know that with believers, Paul was absolutely adamant that all this tradition and religious baggage was worse than useless in comparison to salvation by faith in Christ alone. (for example he publicly clashes with Peter over Peter's behaviour and appeasement of Judean Christians and their rules about eating.)

Such controversies over how to accomodate people's issues to win a hearing for the gospel, without compromising the essence of the gospel are very much alive today. A light-hearted example I enjoy is how the founder of the Salvation Army used the favorite drinking songs from the local taverns to draw listeners to his street band ministry.

Acts 16:6 (NLT)
... the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the word in the province of Asia at that time.

- We see the intimate leadership of the Holy Spirit, but interestingly, in this case, he holds back proclamation of the Good News in this place at this time. I wonder why? And what does this kind of direct interaction with The Holy Spirit look, sound and feel like?

Acts 16:13 (NLT)
On the Sabbath we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank, where we thought people would be meeting for prayer, and we sat down to speak with some women who had gathered there.

- I like the insight we get about Paul's methods here. First, he tracks down a place where Jewish followers who keep Sabbath are gathered to pray - so presumably they are genuinely interested and serious about spiritual matters already.

Second, he does not hesitate to speak to women on an equal footing spiritually as men. I suspect that this was much easier within a Greek cultural setting as opposed to a traditional middle eastern Jewish setting where women were truly second-class citizens in religious matters (at least this is my understanding of the two cultures.)

Acts 16:15 (NLT)
She was baptized along with other members of her household, and she asked us to be her guests. "If you agree that I am a true believer in the Lord," she said, "come and stay at my home." And she urged us until we agreed.

- More interesting details I see here:

Lydia is not only a spiritual leader for this group, she is also obviously a successful business woman and leader of a houshold.

The writer Luke, slips into first person narration here so we learn that their mission team comprised at least Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke himself.

Acts 16:18,21 (NLT)
This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And instantly it left her.

- I notice that casting out demons in Jesus' authority is a straight forward matter, unlike some modern ministries which claim to to such work, but with great hulabaloo, struggle and showmanship. Makes me wonder...

Acts 16:21 (NLT)
"They are teaching customs that are illegal for us Romans to practice."

- Probably this is a valid charge as under various Roman Emerors, only Ceasar was "lord."

Acts 16:37 (NLT)
But Paul replied, "They have publicly beaten us without a trial and put us in prison-and we are Roman citizens. So now they want us to leave secretly? Certainly not! Let them come themselves to release us!"

- Paul doesn't hesitate to claim the privileges of his Roman citizenship when it becomes useful.

1 comment:

DeAnn said...

"Screwtape Letters" C.S.Lewis I think you would appreciate thebook if you've not already read it ... a bit lighter readingthensome of his theological books.