Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2015, New Testament

Gospel Doctrine 2015 – Lesson 31 – “And So Were the Churches Established in the Faith”

Paul, Silas, and Timothy preach throughout Macedonia and Greece.

Acts 15:36 ¶And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do.

37 And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark.

38 But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.

39 And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus;

40 And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.

41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.

“Even apostles and prophets, being mortal and subject to like passions as other men, have prejudices which sometimes are reflected in ministerial assignments and decisions. But the marvel is not the isolated disagreements on details, but the near universal unity on basic principles; not the occasional personality conflicts, but the common acceptance, for the good of the work, of the faults of others. It is not the conflict between Paul and Barnabas which concerns us, but the fact that they (being even as we are) rose thereafter to spiritual heights where they saw visions, received revelations, and made their callings and elections sure-the fact of their disagreement thus bearing witness that we in our weaknesses can also press forward to that unity and perfection which shall assure us of salvation.” (Bruce R McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 2:145)

Acts 16: 6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,

7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.

‘No man can fill a mission acceptably before the heavens, unless God should give to him revelation, from time to time, to direct him in all his missionary labors. We have abundant testimony in the New Testament concerning this matter. Even when some of the very greatest revelators that we have any record of undertook to do things of their own accord, they were led directly different from their own judgments, in regard to their missionary labors. Paul had, at a certain time, a great desire to visit a certain place; such desire arose from his own natural judgment; but the Holy Ghost forbade him. Here it required a new revelation to know whether his own inclinations should be followed or not.’ (Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses)

 Acts 16: 8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.

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.

‘This was a call to preach the gospel in an extensive pagan land, amid many trials and dangers. To this call, notwithstanding all this prospect of danger, Paul and Silas cheerfully responded, and gave themselves to the work.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

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 ‘we’ begins in Acts 16:10, it ends when Paul leaves Philippi (Acts17:1) …Here, then, we see that Luke was St. Paul’s companion from Troas on his second apostolic journey, he was with him at Philippi, accompanied him to Jerusalem, and, so far as we know, never left him again till his martyrdom in Rome.

“How pathetic are those words, almost the last ones written by the great Apostle shortly before his death, and addressed to his friend Timothy from the gloomy dungeon in which he was incarcerated in the imperial city of Rome: ‘For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me’ (II Tim. 4:10, 11). This faithful friend and companion was nearly always by his side, and we feel no wonder, therefore, at the deep attachment which Paul had for his ‘beloved physician,’ whose character he had once summed up some six years previously in the words-‘the brother whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches’-(II Cor. 8:18). It is pleasant, too, to think that the medical skill and attention of this devoted friend must have been as great a source of comfort to the aged, feeble and sick Apostle, as we are sure that his companionship was a source of consolation to him during all the many trials of his later life.” (“St. Paul’s Companions in Rome.” by Col. R. M. Bryce-Thomas., Improvement Era, 1908, Vol. Xii. December, 1908. No. 2 .)

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.

The people of Thyatira were famous for their dyes. Purple was a very expensive dye obtained from shellfish.

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.

“If Lydia was the first one baptized, then she has the distinction of being the first person in Europe to accept Christianity. Whether ‘her household’ means she had children, or whether it refers to her servants or to both we do not know, but they became the nucleus of a thriving branch of the Church in that city, and in Lydia’s home town as well.” (David O McKay, Ancient Apostles [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1964], 186)

Acts 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:

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.

‘Satan, though the father of lies, will declare the most important truths, when he can thereby serve his purposes.’ (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)

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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.

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,

Her masters were more interested in profits than prophets.

20 And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,

21 And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.

‘There was at Philippi a colony of the Romans, and they were governed by their laws, by which they might make no innovation in religion without the consent of the senate, and afterwards of their emperors; which here these persecutors allege.’ (Matthew Poole’s Commentary)

Acts 16: 22 And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.

‘Rent off their clothes – This was always done when one was to be scourged or whipped. The criminal was usually stripped entirely naked.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

23 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:

Jewish law restricted the number of lashes to no more than 40. They usually gave only 39 in case they miscounted. The Romans, however, had no such restriction and may have dealt out many more.

24 Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.

‘Made their feet fast in the stocks—an instrument of torture as well as confinement, made of wood bound with iron, with holes for the feet, which were stretched more or less apart according to the severity intended.’ (Jamieson-Fausset- Brown Bible Commentary)

Acts 16:25 ¶And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.

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.

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“With their backs sore and bleeding, their bodies chilled by the cold and dampness, their legs cramped and aching, hungry and sleepless and surrounded by the blackness of midnight, Paul and Silas who knew they were suffering for the sake of the true Gospel, could rejoice and praise the Lord. This they did at midnight, by praying and singing ‘praises unto God.’ Their voices rang out through the prison cells; and prisoners, hard hearted and sinful, listened in surprise to the first Christian hymn they had ever heard. The power of the Lord manifested itself not only in the hearts of His true servants, but in the entire prison and the town as well; for ‘suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken.’ All the bolts and bars at the doors fell from their sockets and the doors of the prison flew open, and ‘every one’s bands were loosed,’ but not a prisoner tried to escape.” (David O McKay, Ancient Apostles [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1964], 187-8.)

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.

‘It was customary to hold a jailor responsible for the safe keeping of prisoners, and to subject him to the punishment due them if he suffered them to escape.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Acts 16: 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.

29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,

30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.

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“Is belief alone enough to bring salvation to the contrite soul? Assuredly yes, if by belief is meant the ringing declaration of him who, baptizing our Lord, then testified: ‘He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life’ (John 3:36); or if by belief is meant the pronouncement of Jesus: ‘He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do’ (John 14:12); or if by belief is meant that pure, perfect faith in Christ which presupposes and in fact cannot exist without the works of righteousness. (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed., pp. 78-80; See Heb. 11:1-3.) But belief alone is scarcely the beginning of that course leading to a celestial inheritance if it is isolated as a thing apart, if it is supposed that it does not embrace within its folds both baptism and a subsequent course of enduring to the end. (2 Ne. 31:15-21.) And in the very case at hand, Paul and Silas teach the gospel to the whole group, baptize them, and without question give them the gift of the Holy Ghost, thus starting them out in the direction of salvation. (Bruce R McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 2:151.)

33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.

34 And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.

The two sufferers may well have needed food. If the tumult had begun, as is probable, as they were going to the proseuclia for morning prayer, at the third hour of the day (9 A.M.), they had probably been fasting for nearly twenty-four hours. They were not likely to have made a meal when they were thrust into the dungeon. (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

Acts 17:1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:

2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,

3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.

‘Opening – The word means to explain or to unfold. It is usually applied to what is shut, as the eye, etc. Then it means to explain what is concealed or obscure. It means here that he explained the Scriptures in their true sense.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Acts 17: 4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.

5 ¶But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.

6 And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;

7 Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Cæsar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.

‘Although many Jews at Thessalonica received and heartily embraced the truth, there were many who rejected it, and that, as it afterward appeared, with much malignity of heart. For the great success which Paul had in converting the idolatrous Gentiles, raised the envy and indignation of the unbelieving Jews to such a pitch, that, transported with a blind and furious zeal, they hired (των αγοραιων τινας ανδρας πονηρους) certain dissolute fellows who frequented the market-place, and were prepared to do any thing, however bad, for a small reward.’ (Benson Commentary)

8 And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things.

9 And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.

10 ¶And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.

‘And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas – They did this for their safety. Yet this was not done until the gospel had taken deep root in Thessalonica. Having preached there, and laid the foundation of a church; having thus accomplished the purpose for which they went there, they prepared to leave the city.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

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