Acts 16:2

Barn near Montpelier.

Thursday, 13 April 2023

He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium. Acts 16:2

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

In the previous verse, Paul had arrived at the area of Derbe and Lystra. Upon his arrival, the words introduced Timothy. Of him, it next says, “He was well spoken of.”

This is referring to Timothy, the main subject of the previous verse, not of his father who was mentioned in reference to him, just as his mother also was. The word translated as “well spoken of,” martureó, simply means “witnessed to” or “testified of.” The idea of the witness of him being positive is understood from the context.

This positive testimony concerning him was “by the brethren.” This is something Paul will later note is required of those who serve as elders and deacons when he writes his first epistle to Timothy. For example, of deacons it says, “But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless” (1 Timothy 3:10).

During the time of Paul’s absence from this area, Timothy had earned a positive reputation within the church. But his reputation went beyond just his own local gathering. Luke records that Timothy was positively spoken of by those “who were at Lystra and Iconium.”

Nothing is said about how this came about, but there are possibilities to consider. Timothy might have had work that took him between Lystra and Iconium. If so, he might have faithfully attended whichever church he was nearest to when they gathered.

It may also be that when questions arose within the church in one area, they may have sent to the other area to say, “What about this issue from Ruth chapter 3? What do you think this is telling us?”

In such a scenario, Timothy may have considered the matter, spoken to the church, and was then sent off by them to the other church to give his reading on the matter. This is not speculation without support. Paul says in 2 Timothy 3 –

“But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3: 14, 15

Timothy’s great understanding of the Scriptures may have made him a sought-out commodity in these churches as they continued to grow in the faith. Whatever the reason for the positive witness concerning him, it is obvious that Paul immediately was drawn to him in a bond that would grow from this time forward.

Life application: Timothy was well-versed in Scripture even from childhood. Because of this, he was well-grounded in his life and conduct. Scripture can have a wonderfully positive effect on us if we are just willing to read it and apply its lessons to our lives. This is true even with verses that are filled with judgment and doom, such as –

“As the thief is ashamed when he is found out,
So is the house of Israel ashamed;
They and their kings and their princes, and their priests and their prophets,
27 Saying to a tree, ‘You are my father,’
And to a stone, ‘You gave birth to me.’
For they have turned their back to Me, and not their face.
But in the time of their trouble
They will say, ‘Arise and save us.’
28 But where are your gods that you have made for yourselves?
Let them arise,
If they can save you in the time of your trouble;
For according to the number of your cities
Are your gods, O Judah.
29 Why will you plead with Me?
You all have transgressed against Me, says the Lord.
30 In vain I have chastened your children;
They received no correction.
Your sword has devoured your prophets
Like a destroying lion.” Jeremiah 2:26-30

In reading passages like this, along with its surrounding words of judgment, too many people conclude that the God of the Old Testament is an angry, judgmental God. But this is not the case. In understanding the entire context of the history of Israel, including their covenant relationship with the Lord, they will see that it is Israel, not the Lord, who is at fault. The wrath and punishment are meted out because they have violated the relationship between the two.

But understanding such things necessitates knowing all that Scripture says. From the broader view, the goodness of God, His covenant faithfulness, His holy nature, etc. are seen. This is how God is. The negative aspects of the relationship between the Lord and Israel are self-inflicted wounds on their part, just as getting a spanking or being grounded is a self-inflicted wound to an unruly, disobedient child.

Timothy could see this because his life was centered on Scripture since his youth. It is not too late for you to learn such things now. No matter how old you are, you can learn Scripture quickly if you just apply yourself. Audio Bibles can fill your time when you are too tired to read. You have YouTube and a multitude of other ways to access answers that may arise in your studies.

If you are trying to save money on a broken washing machine, you will go to YouTube and find a link that will show you how to repair the part you need to fix. If you can do this for a washing machine, you certainly can find an answer to something much more important that you don’t understand from the book of Jeremiah.

Don’t waste your life on vapor! Spend your time in the word. Read it, think about it, contemplate its lessons, and search for answers that arise. Which will it be today – a football game or time in the word? The choice is yours. Where do your priorities lie?

Lord God, help us to rightly align our priorities to those things that will be pleasing to You, that will edify us in Your word, and that will have eternal reward. May we not fritter our lives away on that which is just smoke and vapor. Help us in this, O God. Amen.