Acts 16 Commentary

Acts chapter 16 commentary Bible study

Acts Chapter 16 Commentary Bible Study


Acts 16:6-10 Phrygia, Bithynia, Mysia
Acts 16:11-15 Samothrace, Neapolis, Philippi
Acts 16:16-18 Spirit of Divination
Acts 16:19-29 Paul and Silas
Acts 16:30-34 What must I do to be Saved?
Acts 16:35-40 Magistrates
Acts 16 Bible Study Questions (Handout)
ACTS 16:1  1 Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek.

Where are "Derbe and Lystra" (Acts 16:1)?
See Lystra and Derbe.

Who is "he" (Acts 16:1)?
Paul, who brought along Silas on this missionary journey after parting ways with Barnabas, who took John Mark on another route.

How did Paul and Silas travel to Derbe and Lystra?
Previously, Paul and Barnabas had made a circuitous clockwise sea and land journey via the island of Cyprus from Antioch of Syria. This time, Paul and Silas travelled 250 miles (400 kilometers) west by land from Antioch, traversing the rest of the Roman province of Syria, as well as Cilicia, the Roman province on the southeastern shores of what is Turkey today: "... he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches" (Acts 15:41).

How old was "Timothy" (Acts 16:1)?
Since Paul knew Timothy's mother and grandmother, he was young, probably a teenager: "... when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also" (2 Timothy 1:5).

ACTS 16:2-3  2 He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek.

Why did Paul want Timothy "go on with him" (Acts 16:3)?
The son and grandson of women who had "genuine faith" (2 Timothy 1:5), Timothy had been taught the scriptures from childhood - "and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures" (2 Timothy 3:15) - had "genuine faith that is in you ..." (2 timothy 1:5), and already was respected by fellow Christians: "He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium" (Acts 16:2). Paul most likely saw in Timothy a fellow missionary whom he could train and disciple.

Are the children of Christian mothers born as Christians as some claim?
If so, Paul would not have had to be "persuaded" (2 Timothy 1:5) that Timothy is also a Christian.

ACTS 16:4-5  4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily.

Which "decrees" (Acts 16:4) did they deliver to the "churches" (Acts 16:5) in the region?
The one written "by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem" (Acts 16:4) that told gentiles they don't need to be circumcised to become a Christian (see Silas).

How had Paul previously reacted to those who erroneously claimed that circumcision was necessary to become a Christian?
He had had "no small dissension and dispute" with them (see Acts 15:1-2).

Then why was Timothy "circumcised" (Acts 16:3) by Paul?
Timothy's circumcision had nothing to do with his salvation; he is already described as a "disciple" (Acts 16:1). Instead, it had to do with giving Timothy the widest possible ministry. Without being circumcised, Timothy would have been limited to preaching primarily to gentiles since "the Jews who were in that region ... all knew that his father was Greek" (Acts 16:3) and therefore would have been less than fully open to hear someone they weren't sure was a real Jew. By being circumcised, as was his right since his mother was a Jew, Timothy could draw Jewish as well as gentile audiences to hear the Gospel.