The 2nd Missionary Tour of Paul (Acts 15:35-18:22)

Paul and Barnabas have an intense disagreement about taking John Mark with them on this their second missionary journey. The dispute was so intense that they decided, evidently for the good of the work, that they would go their separate ways. We have no information on Barnabas' work other than that he took John Mark and went to Cyprus. Paul, on the other hand chose Silas and set out on his second great missionary tour.

  1. The purpose of the second Missionary Journey and the contention over John Mark (15.36-41):
    1. Paul's purpose in the second tour is to revisit all of the churches planted by Paul and Barnabas during their first missionary journey. They were also to deliver to the churches, the letter from the apostles concerning what was expected of them concerning the keeping of the law of Moses.
    2. The time elapsed between the first and second journey is estimated to be around 7 years. The second journey lasted an estimated 3 years and covered a distance of approximately 3500 miles.
    3. Contention over John Mark
      1. The reason for the contention was:
        1. John Mark was the nephew of Barnabas (Col 4:10) and Barnabas felt strongly about taking him with them. And-
        2. John Mark had started the first missionary journey with them and had for some reason left them and returned home when they were in Perga of Pamphylia (Acts 13.13). Paul obviously viewed this as desertion, and for that reason opposed taking him with them on this trip.
    4. Paul and Barnabas separate
      1. Because the contention was so "sharp" they went separate ways. Paul chose Silas to accompany him, and Barnabas took John Mark and sailed to Cyprus.
      2. Silas - A highly respected member of the church at Jerusalem (Acts 15.22) who was also a prophet (15.32). He and Judas had been selected to accompany Paul and Barnabas from Jerusalem to Antioch to confirm by mouth that which was written to the gentile churches concerning the law of Moses and the law of Christ.
      3. Barnabas - This is the last mention of Barnabas in the book of Acts. However, Paul's mention of Barnabas in 1 Cor 9.6 shows that he was busy in the work of the ministry. Paul's later writings show that their was no animosity held by Paul toward Barnabas or John Mark, and that his confidence in John Mark was restored. ( Col 4.10-11; 2T
    5. Syria and Cilicia - No details are given concerning their trek through Syria and Cilicia, except to say that they confirmed the churches. Which would indicate that they found them in good standing and presented to them the letter from the apostles.
  2. Derbe and Lystra (16.1-7)- Derbe was the last place visited on the first missionary tour. Lystra was the place where Paul had been stoned and left for dead.
    1. Timothy - It is assumed that Timothy was converted by Paul on his first missionary tour because of the reference in 1 Tim 1.2. He had been taught the old testament scriptures by his mother and his grandmother (II Tim 1.5; 3.15) and had earned a good reputation as a believer among the church in the area in which he lived.
    2. Evidently Paul saw great potential in Timothy and desired him to go with them. Paul circumcised Timothy in order to appease Jewish prejudices which they might encounter on the journey.
    3. The Spirit forbids them go unto Asia or Bithynia - After going through Phrygia and Galatia, the Holy Spirit forbids them go into Asia (south) and Bithynia(north). This along with the Macedonian vision seems to show that the Holy Spirit was directing them away from past labors (as Paul had sought to visit all of the churches planted on the first tour) and is directing them to new ground (Europe).
  3. Troas (16.8-11)- Bore the name of the ancient city of Troy, the sight of which was about 4 miles away.
    1. Macedonian vision - Paul's call to go into Europe. Paul understands the vision as Gods call to preach the gospel in Macedonia, and immediately makes preparation to go.
    2. Luke introduces himself in verses 10 and 11 by using the 1st person pronouns of us and we.
    3. There is no mention of their preaching at Troas, but other verse indicate the there was a church there. (2 Cor 2:12; Acts 20.6).
  4. Philippi (16.12-40) - "the chief city of that part of Macedonia and a colony" Philippi was a Roman colony and the capitol city of Macedonia.
    1. The conversion of Lydia - The fact that Paul did not go to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and that these women were meeting by a river to pray would appear to indicate that there was no synagogue in Philippi. Lydia was a seller of "purple". Her home of Thyatira was famous for it purple dyes. She either sold the dyes or cloth that had been dyed. "Whose heart the Lord opened".
      1. When hearing the gospel preached, Lydia didn't harden her heart, but rather was believing. Her heart was of the good ground that Jesus described in the parable of the sower. Lydia and her household believed and were baptized (most likely in the river by which they met.)
    2. The damsel with a spirit of divination - She was possessed of a demon, by which she was a soothsayer or was able to foretell future events, or discover secrets by other than human means. She was slave to some men who made great profit from her unfortunate condition.
      1. When she met Paul and Silas, she professed that they were servants of the most high God, much like demons often proclaimed that Jesus was the Son of God (Luke 8.28). Paul recognized her condition, and called the demon out in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ or by His authority.
    3. Paul and Silas cast into prison.- The woman's owners when seeing that their hope of easy riches was gone sought justice from the city magistrates or governors, citing that they (Paul and Silas) were Jews (to stir up prejudice) and that they had taught customs which were not lawful for Roman citizens to receive or observe. Under Roman law, it was unlawful to practice any new religion. Jews were allowed to practice their own religion as long as they didn't attempt to proselyte Roman citizens. Hence the preaching of Christ was preaching a new religion and subjected them to prosecution and punishment.
      1. The woman's owners stirred up the people to create a mob like atmosphere, which influenced the magistrates to tear off their clothes (Paul and Silas') and beat them with rods (2 Cor 11.25) and cast them into prison, giving strict instructions to the jailer not to let them escape.
    4. The Philippian Jailer - The jailer having received strict instruction of the magistrates, put Paul and Silas in the most secure place in the prison (the inner part) and even put their feet in the stocks. Stocks were not only a way of securing prisoners, but also a form of torture. Normally they were made to put the feet (which were spread wide apart to cause great discomfort) hands and the head in. But in this case only the feet were put in. Despite the fact that Paul and Silas had been dragged before the magistrates, publicly beaten with "many stripes", cast into prison and placed in the stocks, at midnight they were praying and singing praises unto God. The Holy Spirit record the fact that the prisoners heard them. How strange they must have thought it to hear men in this condition praying and singing praises to God.
      1. Apparently the jailer didn't hear them, because when the earthquake shook the prison to its foundation and opened all of the doors, it woke him up. Seeing the doors opened and presuming that the prisoners were gone, and knowing that he would have to pay for their lives with his own (Acts 12.19; 27.42) He prepared to take his own life. It is difficult to imagine what must have gone through his mind at that time, perhaps he thought of his wife and his family, or perhaps of how vain his life had been, and the unfairness of the circumstance in which he found himself. But the sound of Paul's voice telling him that they were all still there and to do himself no harm brought a charge of hope and relief. He called for a light and confirmed that which Paul had told him.
      2. The jailer had apparently heard some things about Paul and Silas. Perhaps he had heard of the testimony that the demonic possessed woman had made that they were the servants of the Most High God that show unto us the way of salvation. By whatever means, the jailer connected the earthquake and the safety of the prisoners with Paul and Silas, because he came trembling and fell before them and asked them "what must I do to be saved?".
      3. Their answer was pure and simple Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. Not only him, but his household if they obeyed the command and everyone everywhere who would likewise believe. The next verse says that they spake unto him the word of the Lord. ( shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard). The instruction to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ was impossible for the jailer to do at that instant, because he had not heard of him. Much like Philip to the Ethiopian Eunuch, they preached unto him and to his household Jesus.
      4. And afterward he took them (somewhere away from the prison) and washed their stripes (they apparently had received no treatment for their wounds before that time) and was baptized he and all his straightway. In the new testament conversions, baptism was always done immediately. The jailer took them to his house and fed them, and rejoiced in the new life which he now lived. What a great change had taken place since the few hours before when he had stood ready to take his own life.
    5. Paul and Silas go free - Whether it was because of the earthquake, or another reason, the attitude of the magistrates toward Paul and Silas was much different the next morning, and they sent word to the jailer to release them. Paul having an understanding of the law and of the injustice that they had suffered at the hands of the magistrates, makes a point by refusing to go unless the magistrates themselves come and fetch them out, throwing in that what they had done to them (publicly beating and casting into prison uncondemned men who were Romans) was illegal being Roman citizens.
      1. The punishment to the magistrates for their actions could be as severe as death, so it is no wonder they quickly obliged Paul's request and fetched them out of prison themselves. Afterward they pleaded with Paul and Silas to leave Philippi to avoid further trouble. After saying goodbye to the church there (the nucleus of which would appear to be the household of Lydia and the household of the jailer) Paul and Silas departed.
      2. Luke's change in the narrative to third person beginning with verse 40 and lasting until chapter 20, seems to indicate that he (Luke) remained in Phillipi until Paul returned there during his third missionary journey.
  5. Thessalonica -(17.1-9)
    1. To the Jews first - In every place that Paul traveled, he always went to the Jew first to preach the gospel (Romans 1.16). Here he reasoned with them the necessity of Christs suffering and crucifixion and resurrection. Many of them believe, among whom are many devout Greeks (proselytes) and chief women (women with high social standing).
    2. But, the Jews who do not believe( moved with the jealousy of having so many of their Jewish brethren converted to Christianity) align themselves with the undesirables of the city and create a vigilante mob which attacks the house of Jason in hopes of finding Paul and Silas. When they are not there, they drag out Jason, and some of the other brethren and bring them before the rulers of the city.
    3. They describe Paul and Silas and the whole Gospel movement as "these who have turned the world upside down". The effect that the preaching of the gospel was having, could probably not be summed up any better than that. It was tremendous. The uproar caused by the Jews and the accusations that they made were troubling to the city rulers, so that they took custody of Jason and the brethren, and after apparently giving them some kind of warning about disturbing the peace, they let them go. The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas on.
  6. Berea (17.10-14) - The city where the people were more noble, because they searched the scriptures to see if the things which Paul, Silas, and Timothy preached unto them were so. Because of their sincerely, many believed and the work was fruitful. But when the Jews from Thessalonica heard about their presence in Berea, they immediately came there to once again stir up trouble against them.
    1. The brethren therefore send Paul away from the city, but Silas and Timothy remain. Apparently the presence of Silas and Timothy was not as troubling to the Jews as was the presence of Paul.
  7. Athens -(18.1-18) Paul was escorted by some of the brethren of Berea to Athens. Before they returned, Paul sent them instruction to send Silas and Timothy to him as quickly as possible.
    1. Paul's spirit is stirred when he sees that the city was wholly given to Idolatry. This spurred Paul to preach the gospel. As usual, he first sought the audience of the Jews, and of the Gentile worshipers. He preached the gospel in the synagogue and in the marketplace, and there he encountered some of the Greek philosophies and their disciples.
      1. The Epicureans got their name from Epicurus. His object was to find in philosophy a practical guide to happiness. His disciples were known as the school of the "garden" from the garden in Athens from which he instructed them. He taught that enjoyment of tranquil pleasure was the greatest thing to which man could aspire.
      2. The Stoicks were the advocates of the philosophy founded by Zeno who taught that God was the soul of the world, or that the world was God. He taught that everything was governed by fate and denied the immortality of the soul. The name Stoicks came from the word for porch. They were known as disciples of the porch, for it was from a porch that Zeno taught them. The Stoicks sought to live in harmony with nature conformably with reason and the demands of universal good, and in the utmost indifference to pleasure, pain, and all external good or evil. This was their fundamental maxim.
      3. The ethical system of the Stoics has been commonly supposed to have a close connection with Christian morality; but the morality of stoicism is essentially based on pride, that of Christianity on humility; the one upholds individual independence, the other absolute faith in another; the one looks for consolation in the issue of fate, the other in Providence; the one is limited by periods of cosmic ruin, the other is consummated in a personal resurrection.
      4. Paul encountered both classes of philosophy in Athens. They (in their philosophical and intellectual arrogance) said of Paul "what will this babbler say". The word for babbler here means "seed picker", they compared Paul to a little bird who picks up seeds for food, as if he was an ignorant man who had picked up some crumbs of knowledge, They also said that he was a proclaimer of strange gods, because he preached Chris and the resurrection.
    2. Paul Preaches on Mars Hill - The Stoicks and Epicureans escorted Paul to Areopagus or Mars Hill. There were several hills within the walls on ancient Athens among them were
      1. The Acropolis on which were built many temples of gods and heroes, the chief (building) of which was the Parthenon.
      2. The Areopagus or Mars Hill - here met the council of Areopagus, a criminal tribunal. The hill stood just north of the marketplace where Paul encountered the Stoicks and Epicureans. He was brought here so that they might listen more conveniently (not to be tried). 3) The Pnyx - on which assemblies of the citizens were held.
    3. Verse 21 tells us that the Athenians and the people who sojourned there were eager to hear anything new. This explains why they were so willing to hear Paul, not so much out of a sincere desire to know God, but more for a means of entertainment to satisfy their desire to know something new.
    4. Paul, surrounded by a crowd of Greek philosophers and curious onlookers seizes the opportunity to preach the gospel. He begins his speech by saying that he perceived that in all things they were to superstitious. The Greek word for superstitious is "hos deisidaimonesterous from "deido" to fear and "daimon" deity. The Greeks used it in the good sense of pious or religious or the bad sense of superstitious. The American Standard Version translates it religious.
    5. Perhaps Paul's point is that they were too religiously superstitious. He tells them of the things that he had observed while in their city. As was mentioned earlier Paul was stirred when he saw that the city was wholly given to idolatry.
    6. It has been written of Ancient Athens that there were so many idols there, that it was easier to find a god than a man. From where Paul stood on Mars Hill, he could see the Acropolis and all of the temples that adorned it. He points out to them that he had these idols which were so prominent in their city. And that in passing by he had noticed an inscription on one of these images that said TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Paul used this inscription to introduce to the Athenians the only true God, who was truly unknown to them.
    7. Paul tells them that he declares unto them the God who created all things. That He does not dwell in temples mad with hands (the earth is His and the fullness thereof). He has no need that we should make Him a dwelling place. He is not worshipped with men's hands. He doesn't need man to do things for Him for His survival. But rather He is the giver of life and all that sustains it. We are His creation. The Greeks like the Jews thought themselves the superior race of people. But Paul points out that we all have the same origin from God, and that he also has determined the boundaries of where we may live and the duration of our lives.
    8. All of the things that God has created and given to man should turn our hearts to seek after Him, to strive to know more about Him and His will toward us. He uses the illustration of a blind man groping in the dark, as those not enlightened by the word of God grope blindly to find Him. But He is not hard to find because He is near to all of us. In fact, it is in Him that we move and breath and have our very existence. We are totally dependent upon Him for life and all that sustains it. Even their own poets acknowledged that we are God's offspring. If we are therefore God's creation why should we have such a low concept of what God is like (gold, silver, or stone carved and molded by man)?
    9. God in times past has overlooked this ignorance, but now commands all men to repent, because He has revealed to us all truth through His Son Jesus Christ. By whom He will judge all men at the day which He has appointed.
    10. When they heard Paul speak of the resurrection from the dead, some of them mocked. Neither the Epicureans or the Stoicks believed in the resurrection. Therefore, when Paul spoke to them concerning the resurrection, they thought it foolishness and they mocked. Some of them apparently were not totally opposed to Paul's teaching because they said that they would here him again on this mater (much like Felix in chapter 24). Paul had preached to them the truth, they had heard it, and rejected it.
    11. Paul therefore departs from them to seek more fertile ground in which to plant the seed of the Word. Paul's' efforts were not wasted here however, as we find that several of them believed. Among them were Dionysius the Areopagite (a member of the council of Areopagus) and Damaris (probably a woman of high social position).
  8. Paul in Corinth (18.1-18) - Corinth was between 40 and 50 miles west of Athens on the Isthmus of Corinth. Because of its geographical location, Corinth was a great city of commerce. Corinth was also known for its lax morals.
    1. Priscilla and Aquilla - As was Paul's custom, upon arriving in Corinth he sought out the Jews. One of the Jews which he met was a man named Aquilla. Aquilla and his wife Priscilla had just recently come to Corinth from Italy. The Jews had been commanded by the order of Claudius to leave Rome, because of the constant tumult that they instigated. It is easy to see from the stories revealed in the book of Acts, why this would be true.
      1. Aquilla shared the same trade with Paul, that of tent-making. Every Jewish boy was carefully taught a trade. A Jewish rabbi once said that a father might just as well teach his son to steal if he failed to teach him a trade. It is unclear whether or not Aquilla and Priscilla were already Christians before meeting Paul, or if they were converted by Paul.
    2. Paul preaches to the Jews - Soon after Paul's arrival at Corinth, Silas and Timothy arrived also. Although Paul had given them instructions to come as quickly as possible to Athens, it appears that they never made until after Paul had already left.
      1. Their arrival at Corinth brings a great lift to Paul. The scripture says that after their arrival, that Paul was "pressed in the spirit" or he felt a strong impulse to do the work of preaching the gospel. .He preached powerfully to the Jews, but many would not hear him, but "opposed themselves" (or would not do that which was for their own good, in accepting the gospel)
    3. "And blasphemed "(indulged in reproachful and reviling language toward Paul and Christ). Paul shook his raiment (much like Jesus had told the disciples to shake the dirt off of their feet from the homes of those who would not receive them, when he had sent them out by twos.) As a testimony against them, and then tells them that their blood is on their own head, or that they have had their opportunity and rejected it, therefore, they were responsible for their own fate as a result. He now would turn to the Gentiles.
    4. Paul turns to the Gentiles - Paul left the synagogue and entered the house that adjoined it. The house was owned by a man named Justus - the revised version give his name as Titus Justus. Not much is known about him, but some think that he was the Titus that later became a companion of Paul. Many of the Corinthian believed the things taught them by Paul (the gospel) and were baptized, including the chief ruler of the synagogue named Crispus (whom Paul baptized personally I Cor 14)
    5. Paul received a vision from the Lord, in which the Lord reveals to him that he should not be afraid, but continue to preach the word, because there were many people in Corinth who would obey the gospel if given the opportunity to hear it. It had to be somewhat discouraging to Paul that everywhere that he went, he had to endure the hatred and violence brought on by those who opposed the gospel (primarily the Jews).
    6. Apparently there must have been some threat of violence against him in Corinth, but the Lord encourages Paul with these words, and Paul continues there for a year and six months, preaching the word. Toward the end of this period, the Jews mad their move against Paul. They caught him on one of the appointed days of the Roman court, and drug him before Gallio. They mad the accusation that Paul was teaching the people to worship contrary to Roman law (once again that he was teaching a new religion).
    7. Paul prepared to make hi defense, but before he could, Gallio threw the case out, stating that if they had brought Paul before him because of a crime committed against someone he would have heard them, but because they were merely splitting hairs over names and words in a religious dispute, that he would not hear them ( they could settle this matter themselves). He ordered the guards to clear the court.
    8. The Greeks (whether these were soldiers, or other Greek citizens is unclear) caught Sosthenes (the chief ruler of the synagogue and beat him before Gallio, who apparently was indifferent to it. Some suppose that he was beaten as a punishment for bringing a religious dispute before the court. Paul remained in Corinth for some time after these events.
  9. Paul Returns to Antioch (18.19-22) After his stay in Corinth, Paul took with him Aquilla, and Priscilla and sailed to Ephesus, where he reasoned (or made arguments from the old testament scriptures to show that Jesus was the Christ) with the Jews for a short time, before leaving for Jerusalem to keep a Jewish day (which one is unclear. Some suppose that it was Pentecost). Paul left Aquilla and Priscilla in Ephesus, and sailed to Caesarea, went inland to Jerusalem where he apparently kept the feast day, and greeted the church there before returning to Antioch, thus ending his second missionary journey.
  10. The journey lasted about 3 years. During the tour, churches were established at Galatia, Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth, and perhaps in other places as well. It was during his stay at Corinth that the first and second letters to the Thessalonians were written.