Monday, November 9, 2015

On 11-15-15, Acts 16:1-5, 8-15 will be our Adult Sunday School/ Uniform Series/ International Sunday School Lesson, herein is my commentary. This lesson is known by some as From Derbe to Philippi

From Derbe to Philippi
Acts 16:1-5, 8-15
November 15, 2015

Jed Greenough

I suppose most of you use prepared lessons created by publishing companies that chart out a lesson for you.  This week is one of those where I’d be glad to use one.  I mean look even at the title most are using, “From Derbe to Philippi”.  The week after that won’t be any better!  Sometimes inspiration is drawn from the weekly titles but for me at least there aren’t too many ideas coming too easily from this week’s lesson's title.

But after a while when I got to thinking about those geographical names I decided to look at a map of these journeys that Paul undertook and these city names.  When you look at charts and maps that dealt with the titles we are about to undertake it started to not be so easy to gloss  over or maybe glaze over as it would  otherwise be.

It became apparent that it wasn’t easy to just go from town to town as it is of course for most of us today.  30 miles in that day could create quite a hardship.  Then of course one starts to think about those hardships that are just part of the reason that not all are called to the same tasks in the kingdom.  Some who are called won’t go as we talked about the last couple of weeks because of the idea of hardships.  This should help us to appreciate what it took to start the early church.  These were committed and long suffering individuals driven by their faith and servant hearts.

We can appreciate how tenacious Paul was, he tried to even go to places that God wouldn’t let him (see the not included verses from Acts 16).  He also tried to read into whatever he could including his dreams about where his work should lead which led him to Macedonia.

From reading this scripture we don’t even know if this was a vision from God nor did Paul.  The scripture says that they concluded this is why Paul had the dream.

I like that what materializes is not a man, which is what Paul had seen in the dream but  rather a woman, Lydia, who is apparently was the first convert there and provides them with a home while they are in the area.

This brief mention of Lydia made her a pretty special person in the eyes of some.  With some churches elevating her to a saintly status based on what, we don’t know.  Too much of what is written about Lydia is supposition because what we in fact do know is all found within this chapter.

But of what we do know my favorite is that “The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.”  What she did after that somehow led to much supposition and a lot of that led to stories of Lydia rising to greatness.  I hope that she really did achieve such things.  

That should be the story of all of us who God draws to Him when He opens our hearts to respond to the message.

For Discussion:

  1. Find charts which show Paul’s journey.
  2. Discuss why you think Paul had Timothy circumcised which seems to counter what was just discussed in Jerusalem and the message Paul was delivering.  
  3. Discuss the not included verse 7.
  4. Discuss how when our minds are constantly on subjects we dream about those subjects.
  5. Discuss where Lydia’s home town of Thyatira is in relation to Philippi.
  6. Discuss what can be known about Lydia from this scripture.
  7. Discuss what might be possibilities about Lydia from this scripture.
  8. Discuss some of the things that people have come up with in relation to Lydia.

Upcoming Lessons

11-22-15  Thessalonica, Berea and Athens     Acts 17:1-4, 10-12, 22-25, 28

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved

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