Acts: Lesson 17: Paul’s Second Missionary Journey (with Silas, Timothy, and Luke)

Church in Philippi buit where Lydia was baptized (610x352)After James, the Bishop of Jerusalem, presided over the Church’s first council, Paul decided to visit the congregations in Asia Minor to “see how they are.” But after having a disagreement with Barnabas about John Mark (who would later be the writer of the Gospel of Mark), Paul and Barnabas choose not to travel together. Paul later chooses to have Timothy travel with him and Silas.

Timothy joins Paul in his missionary travels

Who was Timothy?: Timothy was a native of Lystra in south Galatia. He had a Jewish mother and a Greek father, and so he was not circumcised as an eight-day-old infant. Timothy began his work with the Apostle Paul at the beginning of his second missionary journey (Acts 16:2-3). He continued to labor at Paul’s side, off and on, for the remainder of Paul’s ministry (Acts 17:14-15, 18:5, and 20:3-4; 1 and 2 Timothy). Timothy was an assistant and co-writer with Paul for six of the epistles in the New Testament: 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon (thus, when you read a “we” in those books, it usually refers to them).

Read Acts 16:1-3

  • How many congregations knew Timothy? What does that say about him?


  • How did they view him? What does that also say about him?


  • What are the implications of this with those two congregations and Timothy departing to serve as missionaries? (Remember congregational involvement in Paul’s first missionary journey.)


  • What does Paul do to Timothy in verse 3?


  • Considering the first Church council’s decision that Gentiles didn’t need to be circumcised, why would Paul want Timothy circumcised?


Read Galatians 2:3-5

  • Using Paul’s decisions to circumcise or not, discuss how Paul acted in differing situations to help guide your thinking when it comes to the Gospel. 


Read Acts 16:4-5

  • What did Paul and Timothy do at those recently established congregations during Paul’s first missionary journey?


Going to Macedonia

Read Acts 16:6-10

  • How did God act to “close one door” and open another as to where Paul and Timothy should bring the Gospel Word?


  • Based on where Paul and Timothy were travelling, where did Paul originally want to do mission work?


  • In verse 10, for the first time in the book of Acts, Luke uses the word “we” instead of “they.” What does this tell us who about who was also now traveling with Paul, Silas, and Timothy?


Lesson 17, Pauls second missionary journey



Read Acts 16:11-13

Phillipi was a predominately Gentile city with few Jews; it was also where many Roman army veterans retired after their years of military service. Archaeologists have found no evidence of a 1st-century synagogue there (note: a minimum of 10 men were required to have a synagogue). Instead, when Paul and Silas first visited the area, they found only an informal meeting place outside the city by the river, where several women met on the Sabbath to worship (Acts 16:13). Since Luke does not mention men, these women had probably married Gentiles, like Timothy’s mother.

Read Acts 16:14-15Lesson 17, Map with Thyratira on it

Thyratira was located in Asia Minor.

  • From what we can tell, when Paul first met Lydia, what was she religiously?


“A worshiper of God”: Lydia most likely was a Gentile woman (Lydia is a Greek name) who had had become a “God-fearer,” someone who became a follower of Judaism but had not yet fully converted.

  • Who did what for Lydia to have faith in her heart?


  • What then happened to Lydia–and her “household”?


Bringing Jesus to another through the spoken Word, as Paul did with Lydia, was not an end in and of itself. When bringing Jesus to non-believers, the hearers were then led the waters of baptism. As shown in the book of Acts, Christian evangelism leads to baptism. The spoken Word was not disconnected from the water of baptism, which Scriptures describes as salvific (1 Peter 3:21). 

  • How did Lydia then live out the faith so recently given to her?


The Lutheran Confessions on conversion:

And it is God’s will that people hear his Word and not plug their ears. In this Word the Holy Spirit is present and opens hearts that they may, like Lydia in Acts 16[:14], listen to it and thus be converted, solely through the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, who alone accomplishes the conversion of the human being. For apart from his grace our “willing and exerting,” our planting, sowing, and watering, amount to nothing “if he does not give the growth” [Romans 9:16; 1 Corinthians 3:7]. As Christ says, “Apart from me, you can do nothing” [John 15:5]. [Formula of Concord, Epitome II, 5-6]


Paul and Silas are imprisoned

Luke has not specifically mentioned Timothy since the beginning of chapter 16. We will again find Timothy being mentioned in Acts 17. Luke leaves unstated where or what Timothy was doing while Paul and Silas were in prison.

In these verses, we also continue to see “many wonders and signs … being done through the Apostles” (Acts 2:43).

Read Acts 16:16-18

  • What ability did the slave girl have?


  • What was the source of the girl’s ability?


“Spirit of divination”: Literally, “a python spirit.” That phrase referred to a mythical snake that guarded the Greek temple of Apollo, at Delphi. People viewed someone whom a python spirit was controlling like a ventriloquist’s dummy, a mouthpiece of that spirit. And since the spirit could see what mere mortals could not, such a person was also considered to be a fortune-teller.

  • What was she doing (or whom was she “praising”)?


  • What does Paul do?


Sirach 15:9: A hymn of praise is not proper on the lips of a sinner, for it has not been sent from the Lord.

Luke 4:41: [When Jesus was healing many,] demons also came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But Jesus rebuked them and ordered them not to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah.


Read Acts 16:19-21

  • Why were the owners of the slave girl upset at what Paul had done?


  • What did they do to deal with the “problem” of Paul and Silas?


Read Acts 16:22-24Lesson 17, Jail in Philippi where Paul and Silas were held

  • How did the authorities respond and how thoroughly?


Read Acts 16:25-26

  • What were Paul and Silas doing?


  • What does this show about how their faith?


  • What happened?


Christian joy: Christian joy is a paradox. In this fallen world, Christians will experience sorrow, frustration, and adversity; yet, we are told to rejoice. Paul knew that sometimes affliction and deep joy even went together (2 Corinthians 6:10). And so He and Silas could rejoice, even in distress (Romans 5:3, Acts 16:25). They knew the truth of Jesus’ promise that “no one will take away your joy” (John 16:22), which is rooted in eternity, which is why Christians can still have an underlying joy amid sadness and hardship.


Paul proclaims and baptizes

Read Acts 16:27-30

  • When the jailer awoke and didn’t see any prisoners, what did he begin to do?


  • What then did Paul say, and what was the jailer’s response?


  • Why would the jailer know enough about what Paul and Silas believed to ask, “What must I do to be saved?”


Read Acts 16:32-34

  • What did Paul say? What is the “Word of the Lord?”


  • What did Paul do?


  • What does “at once” tell us about how the spoken Word and the Word in the water of baptism are connected?


Paul and Silas receive official release from prison

Read Acts 16:35-36

  • What official notice did Paul and Silas receive about their imprisonment?


  • When the police said, “Come out now,” what does that tell us about where Paul and Silas were when they were officially released?


Read Acts 16:37-40

  • How did Paul use his Roman citizenship?


  • Before leaving town as directed, what does Paul and Silas (and Timothy?) do?


  • Luke says, “They departed.” Where then does Luke remain?


Excursus: The “all nations” whom God brings into His Church

  • Cornelius, a Roman centurion (Acts 10:1)
  • A jailer and his entire family in Philippi (Acts 16:33)
  • Onesimus, a slave (Philemon)
  • Dionysius the Areopagite, an intellectual (Acts 17:34)
  • Luke, a physician (Colossians 4: 14)
  • Aquila and Priscilla, tentmakers (Acts 18:3)
  • Erastus, a city treasurer (Romans 16:23)
  • Zenas, a lawyer (Titus 3:13)
  • Simon, a tanner (Acts 9:43)
  • Lydia, a dealer in purple goods, and her family (Acts 16:14)
  • Sergius Paulus, a proconsul (Acts 13:2)
  • Crispus, a leader of a synagogue (Acts 18:8)
  • Those connected with high society, such as “the saints . . . of Caesar’s household” (Philippians 4:22), the Ethiopian eunuch, a court minister to the queen of the Ethiopians (Acts 8:27), Manaen, a court member of Herod the Tetrarch (Acts 13:1), and the “prominent” men and women in Thessalonica and Berea (Acts 17:4, 12).