1. COMPASSION THAT FORTIFIES
a. Following the delegation, what did Paul and Barnabas do—and why did they separate? Acts 15:35–39. What can we learn from how Barnabas’ confidence in John Mark helped him? 2 Timothy 4:11.
“[Paul] was not inclined to excuse Mark’s weakness in deserting the work for the safety and comforts of home. He urged that one with so little stamina was unfitted for a work requiring patience, self-denial, bravery, devotion, faith, and a willingness to sacrifice, if need be, even life itself.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 202.
“The sharp contention of Paul and Barnabas, the failings and infirmities of the prophets and apostles, are all laid bare by the Holy Ghost, who lifts the veil from the human heart. There before us lie the lives of the believers, with all their faults and follies, which are intended as a lesson to all the generations following them. If they had been without foible they would have been more than human, and our sinful natures would despair of ever reaching such a point of excellence. But seeing where they struggled and fell, where they took heart again and conquered through the grace of God, we are encouraged, and led to press over the obstacles that degenerate nature places in our way.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 12.
2. PAUL AND TIMOTHY
a. Where did Paul go next—and who had been inspired by Paul’s faith earlier at Lystra? Acts 15:40, 41; 16:1, 2.
“Among those who had been converted at Lystra, and who were eyewitnesses of the sufferings of Paul, was one who was afterward to become a prominent worker for Christ and who was to share with the apostle the trials and the joys of pioneer service in difficult fields. This was a young man named Timothy. When Paul was dragged out of the city, this youthful disciple was among the number who took their stand beside his apparently lifeless body and who saw him arise, bruised and covered with blood, but with praises upon his lips because he had been permitted to suffer for the sake of Christ.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 184.
b. What plan did Paul have—and with what results? Acts 16:3–5.
“When Timothy was little more than a boy, Paul took him with him as his companion in labor. Those who had taught Timothy in his childhood were rewarded by seeing the son of their care linked in close fellowship with the great apostle.
“Paul loved Timothy because Timothy loved God. His intelligent knowledge of experimental piety and of the truth gave him distinction and influence. The piety and influence of his home life was not of a cheap order, but pure, sensible, and uncorrupted by false sentiments. The moral influence of his home was substantial, not fitful, not impulsive, not changeable. The Word of God was the rule which guided Timothy. . . . His home instructors cooperated with God in educating this young man to bear the burdens that were to come upon him at an early age.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 7, p. 918.
“By the grace of Christ the apostles were made what they were. It was sincere devotion and humble, earnest prayer that brought them into close communion with Him. They sat together with Him in heavenly places. They realized the greatness of their debt to Him. By earnest, persevering prayer they obtained the endowment of the Holy Spirit, and then they went forth, weighted with the burden of saving souls, filled with zeal to extend the triumphs of the cross.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, p. 32.
3. HEEDING THE CRY
a. Seeing how the Holy Spirit continually guided the apostles, what should every believer soberly, prayerfully consider? Acts 16:6–10.
“We are living in a most solemn time. Important responsibilities are resting upon us. New fields are being opened for our labor, and the Macedonian cry is coming from every direction, ‘Come over . . . and help us.’ Some beg for even a day of labor with them, if they can have no more. Angels of God are preparing ears to hear, and hearts to receive the message of warning. And in our very midst honest souls are living who have never yet heard the reasons of our faith. People are perishing for want of knowledge. Not one-hundredth part is being done that might be done to give the third angel’s message to the world. There are those who will be responsible for the souls who have never heard the truth.”—The Review and Herald, October 22, 1914.
“There are fields close to your own doors and also in foreign lands, that are ripening for the harvest. The Lord calls for volunteers now. Go forth, workers for God, weeping, bearing precious seed; for doubtless you will return with rejoicing, bringing your sheaves with you. Your prayers and tears must accompany your labors, that the unholy traits of your own character may not mar the sacred work of God. Depend less upon what you can do, even through your best efforts, and more on what God can do for you in every effort for his name’s glory.”—Ibid., December 15, 1885.
“The Macedonian cry is coming from every quarter. Shall men go to the ‘regular lines’ to see whether they will be permitted to labor, or shall they go out and work as best they can, depending on their own abilities and on the help of the Lord, beginning in a humble way and creating an interest in the truth in places in which nothing has been done to give the warning message?
“The Lord has encouraged those who have started out on their own responsibility to work for Him, their hearts filled with love for souls ready to perish. A true missionary spirit will be imparted to those who seek earnestly to know God and Jesus Christ, whom He hath sent. The Lord lives and reigns. Young men, go forth into the places to which you are directed by the Spirit of the Lord. Work with your hands, that you may be self-supporting, and as you have opportunity proclaim the message of warning.”—Medical Ministry, p. 321.
4. SOUL-WINNING IN MACEDONIA
a. Where was the apostles’ main focus in Macedonia? Acts 16:11, 12.
b. Describe how the first conversions came to that area—and what we can learn from this. Acts 16:13–15; Psalm 25:9.
“True meekness softens and subdues the heart and gives the mind a fitness for the engrafted word. It brings the thoughts into obedience to Jesus Christ. It opens the heart to the word of God, as Lydia’s was opened.”—The Sanctified Life, p. 14.
“Lydia received the truth gladly. She and her household were converted and baptized, and she entreated the apostles to make her house their home.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 212.
c. Explain a situation whereby someone was making a true statement but was injuring the influence of the Author of all truth. Acts 16:16, 17.
“This woman was a special agent of Satan and had brought to her masters much gain by soothsaying. Her influence had helped to strengthen idolatry. Satan knew that his kingdom was being invaded, and he resorted to this means of opposing the work of God, hoping to mingle his sophistry with the truths taught by those who were proclaiming the gospel message. The words of recommendation uttered by this woman were an injury to the cause of truth, distracting the minds of the people from the teachings of the apostles and bringing disrepute upon the gospel, and by them many were led to believe that the men who spoke with the Spirit and power of God were actuated by the same spirit as this emissary of Satan.”—Ibid.
d. What was Paul constrained to do in her behalf? Acts 16:18.
“Dispossessed of the evil spirit and restored to her right mind, the woman chose to become a follower of Christ.”—Ibid., p. 213.
5. SUFFERING WITH CHRIST
a. When the soothsayer was miraculously delivered from Satan, how did the enemy direct his wrath against Paul and Silas? Acts 16:19–22.
“[The woman’s masters] saw that all hope of receiving money from her divinations and soothsayings was at an end, and perceived that, if the apostles were allowed to continue their work, their own source of income would soon be entirely cut off.”—Sketches From the Life of Paul, p. 74.
“Many others in the city were interested in gaining money through satanic delusions, and these, fearing the influence of a power that could so effectually stop their work, raised a mighty cry against the servants of God. . . .
“Stirred by a frenzy of excitement, the multitude rose against the disciples. A mob spirit prevailed and was sanctioned by the authorities.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 213.
b. Describe the incredible cruelty forced on the apostles—and their response. Acts 16:23–25.
“The apostles were left in a very painful condition. Their lacerated and bleeding backs were in contact with the rough stone floor, while their feet were elevated and bound fast in the stocks. In this unnatural position they suffered extreme torture; yet they did not groan nor complain, but conversed with and encouraged each other, and praised God with grateful hearts that they were found worthy to suffer shame for His dear name.”—Sketches From the Life of Paul, p. 75.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Of whom might I be supportive as Barnabas was to Mark?
2. Whom could I be preparing to bear burdens as was done for Timothy?
3. How can I take action in response to the Macedonian cries of today?
4. Where might I find meek souls open to truth as Lydia was?
5. Why is the trying experience of Paul and Silas helpful for me to study?