Church Planting In Philippi
Book of Acts Chapter 16
Last week we saw that the “Gospel Message was clarified for the Gentiles and the Jews. Nothing was to be added too or taken away from the truth that is in Christ Jesus.
Today we will look into what is known as the Apostle Paul’s second missionary journey. Let’s begin by looking at a map.
The purpose of this journey was to deliver the letter from the apostles and the elders of Jerusalem.
When we left off last week Paul and Barnabas and others had returned from Jerusalem to the church at Antioch in Syria and delivered the letter from James and the Apostles and elders of Jerusalem.
These things that were decided did not have anything to do with being saved and they were not part of the original false teaching of those certain Jews.
These were just things that would allow the Fellowship between the Jew and Gentile to improve.
Our lesson is, that our liberty, by the grace of God should never become a stumbling block to others who are weaker in their faith.
Before this journey began there was a great dissension between Paul and Barnabas over John Mark. Barnabas wanted to take John Mark along but Paul did not. In fact the contention was so sharp that they decided to split up. Barnabas took John Mark and Paul chose Silas who had come from Jerusalem and decided to stay.
We should realize that John Mark was cousin to Barnabas so they did have family ties. Barnabas was ready to give John Mark another opportunity to prove himself because John Mark had deserted them on the first trip.
The apostle Paul took the stand that the ministry was too important and the word was too demanding to take someone who might prove unreliable.
Obviously we know later that Mark, who wrote the book of Mark, did prove himself worthy to serve the Lord, in the eyes of Paul.
From Antioch Paul traveled first to Derbe and then over to Lystra. Here the apostle Paul found a young man we will later know as Timothy.
Paul knew his mother and his grandmother and he had turned this young man to the Lord on his first trip.
Paul’s team now consists of at least himself, Silas, and Timothy.
According to Mosaic Law, Eunice, the mother of Timothy was not permitted to marry a Gentile. When she did her children were not considered legitimate Jews. Paul later circumcised Timothy, according to Luke because of the Jews in the area and to point out that Timothy was a Jew because of his mother. Remember the promised seed was to come through Sarah the wife of Abraham and not Hagar.
We will see that whenever doctrinal issues were not at state, Paul was willing to be flexible to encourage the spread of the gospel.
1Co 9:19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. (Vs 19-23)
And before these missionaries moved into Galatia and other areas we know that the church was strengthened by these letters from Jerusalem.
So let’s begin with our lesson today:
*****Act 16:6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,
Act 16:7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.
What we should notice is that it is God who was in charge of missionary journeys. After visiting all the churches that had been founded, Paul tried to enter a new territory but the Lord closed that door.
We should notice that it was never the apostles that decided the direction of the gospel. It was God Himself that showed the direction the gospel should take.
God chose at this time for Paul to introduce the gospel to Europe and not to Asia.
*****Act 16:8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.
We can believe that the apostle Paul did not know exactly what to do with his time. Troas was city on the coast of Mysia, in Asia Minor and Troas was named after the ancient city of Troy.
Paul later explained to the Corinthians that this is where the door to Europe was open to him.
2Co 2:12 Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord,
AND Paul had another vision.
*****Act 16:9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.
Macedonia is across the Aegean Sea, over in Europe. The apostle Paul is in Asia. The gospel is going to cross from Asia into Europe.
(Again look at the map.)
Macedonia was the Roman name for Northern Greece and the apostle Paul was quick to respond to this vision.
*****Act 16:10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately “we” endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.
Since this is the first use of the word “we” instead of the word “they” this seems to dictate that Luke, the author of the Book of Acts, has now joined this group of missionaries.
One of the main things we should see is that the apostle Paul was already active preaching and teaching the gospel in Asia. Paul was not waiting at home for the Lord to give him direction. The Holy Spirit in some very clear way closed two doors, but then opened another.
It is very possible that if the Apostle Paul had not been obedient to the Lord and directed to Philippi and Greece, at this time that he might never have gone to Europe and Christianity might have remained an Asian religion.
This is why we must follow God’s Plan!
As Paul sailed the Aegean Sea, he first set foot in Europe and the town of Neapolis. This was the seaport of the city of Philippi which was the chief city of that part of Macedonia and a Roman colony.
A Roman colony would be governed by their own senate and their own magistrates and not come under the rule of the local foreign government.
It is said that Macedonia was a place where Roman war veterans could retire and live under Roman law with freedom from taxes.
And it was Philippi that was the chief city in this part of Macedonia but it was Thessalonica where the capitol of Macedonia was located.
*****Act 16:13 And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.
We can see that it had taken a few days maybe to rest or to seek out a synagogue of the Jew, but none was found. But what this group with Paul had found was that there was a group that met for prayer outside the city near the river. This would probably been the Gangites River.
If there had been at least ten men active in Judaism, then normally a synagogue would be built for worship.
The Greek word for “Prayer”, [Pros-yoo-khay] “proseuche” means that this place was set apart specifically to offer prayer to the Lord.
If the men were meeting in this location it was not mentioned by Luke, but the women were there and that’s where Paul began to witness.
That word “spake” meant that Paul began with an informal conversation.
We will see that the results of this informal conversation was the establishment of first church in Europe.
*****Act 16:14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, [heard us]: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.
Act 16:15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.
Thyatira was the home city of Lydia that was located between Sardis and Pergamos. This area is well known for it’s red and purple dye but is known most of all for it’s labor unions.
It is probable that Lydia was not a Jew but probably a Jewish proselyte. Lydia, which is also the name of her country, listened to what Paul had to say and she and her entire household became the first Christians in the city of Philippi.
Notice in the words “heard us”, it is obvious that the Lord opened Lydia’s heart but she first heard the “Gospel” because that was the way of the Apostle Paul.
Paul later wrote to the Church of Thessalonica these words:
2Th 2:13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because [God hath
from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth]:
2Th 2:14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Even before the foundation of the world God also chose the Gentiles to be a part of His Saving “Grace”.
Our lesson again skips some verses where Satan again tried to hinder the Word of God.
If we read them we will see some important things.
We will notice every one of Satan’s workers know exactly who is the true God. And we know that there are always those that make a living off of the work of Satan.
It was only after losing their income that they complained to the local government. The people of this area worshipped Apollo who was the Greek and Roman Sun god among many other things.
Notice again a government took a stand against the Word of God. Paul and Silas were not accused of violating Judaism but they were accused of violating “the government approved” religion of Rome and Greece.
We do not need government approval for Christianity. Christianity is approved by a much higher authority!
*****Act 16:23 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:
Notice the law of the land did not search for the truth and treated these missionaries as they were already proven guilty. Sounds like America!
In Jewish law, a man could only be given 39 stripes. Now we know that a whip called “a cat of nine tails” was invented to increase this punishment.
But Roman law did not have a set number stripes. Stripes were not counted by just the number of lashes. Stripes were counted by the number of lashes that left a wound.
The magistrates determined how many stripes were enough and our verse says that there were many stripes.
Paul later tells the Corinthians that “in stripes above measure” which means he lost count of how many times he was beaten. The Roman custom was to make the body bare and beat it with rods then cast in prison without medical attention.
To keep them safely meant to block any and all means of escape!
*****Act 16:24 Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.
That inner prison would be like a cell of solitude. It would be dark and damp. Those stocks were large pieces of wood that would clamp the legs down far enough apart to cause pain.
*****Act 16:25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
And after all this Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises to the Lord.
They were pouring out their hearts to God.
Paul and Silas were bound, placed in a position of pain where they could not move their tortured bodies but they still had the peace of God because they also had peace with God.
And the other prisoners who had heard these things that went on, then heard the praying and the praises. Notice Paul and Silas never complained nor did they ask God to judge their enemies.
God listened and God heard!
*****Act 16:26 “And suddenly” there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.
God said enough is enough. God had a plan for the Apostle Paul and that work was just getting started and it was not completed.
We could say that there is nothing strange about an earthquake. But we would have to admit that there was something strange about an earthquake at this precise time, where Christian missionaries were imprisoned, where there had been a Christian “pray and praise meeting” going on, and all the cell doors opened and all bonds were broken.
Psa 42:8 Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, [and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life].
While this praising was going on “at midnight” an earthquake shook this jail.
The foundations of this jail shifted.
The jail cell doors were opened.
And “everyone’s” bands were loosed!
*****Act 16:27 And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.
Act 16:28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.
Roman custom would hold this jailer accountable for any prisoner that escaped and we can see how serious this was by the fact that this jailer was more willing to take his own life than face that judgment. Paul’s quick response saved this man’s life.
*****Act 16:29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,
Act 16:30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
No doubt this jailer had also heard the songs of praise and he already knew all the punishment these two men
had been through. He also knew why they had been imprisoned.
This city of Philippi was committed to Pantheism. A religion that opposed Judaism and certainly Christianity.
God provided just the perfect miracle to provide a breakthrough for the “Gospel”.
This jailer recognized this miracle immediately! He knew this was a supernatural happening!
He realized he was lost and in need of such a Savior as who could do these things and who had such a power as this he had witnessed.
We all have to know the answer to this question before we die!
*****Act 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
There is never a change in the way for anyone to be saved. It is always the same. That word “Believe” means “to
The Bible teaches us:
Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
And this way:
Joh 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
This is the way for this jailer and the same way for his entire household.
*****Act 16:32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.
Paul and Silas then led these to the Lord.
*****Act 16:33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and
all his, straightway.
We see that good works and baptism follow salvation.
*****Act 16:34 And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing
in God with all his house.
Now it was time to rejoice in their new life.
We know the remaining verses of this chapter teach us that Paul refused to leave this prison until those
magistrates, recognized and apologized for his treatment because he was also a Roman citizen, who had not
gotten a proper trial.