Tonight we are continuing Paul’s 2 nd Missionary Journey. And, we’ll look at his ministry to the Macedonian city of Philippi. Title: To Europe with Power! Acts 16:9-10 – That night Paul had a vision: A man from Macedonia in northern Greece was standing there, pleading with him, "Come over to Macedonia and help us!" 10 So we decided to leave for Macedonia at once, having concluded that God was calling us to preach the Good News there.
Paul had just had the Macedonian Vision. Where he saw a man from Macedonia beckoning him to come to preach the Gospel there. Patrick had a similar vision beckoning him to go to Ireland to preach the Gospel there. Paul and his companions left immediately for Macedonia.
11 We boarded a boat at Troas and sailed straight across to the island of Samothrace, and the next day we landed at Neapolis. 12 From there we reached Philippi, a major city of that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. And we stayed there several days.
Although Philippi was not the capital city of Macedonia, it was the leading city. It was a city which had been given the status of a Roman colony. The city did not have to pay taxes to Rome. It was given this status by Augustus when he defeated Brutus, Julius Caesar’s assasin, nearby. Paul eventually wrote the book of Philippians to the church from a prison cell in Rome around A.D. 61. Philippi also had a very famous medical school. Luke may have been a graduate of this school.
Luke describes their ministry in Philippi by highlighting Paul’s ministry to 3 people: 1.Lydia, a wealthy merchant 2.Fortune-telling slave girl 3.The Jailer We have to read this chapter in its context. The mistake many make is to read this through their contemporary lens. The context is establishing the Kingdom of God in the earth and pushing back the forces of darkness. This is frontier missions work. It is a direct encounter with the forces of darkness.
13 On the Sabbath we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank, where we thought people would be meeting for prayer, and we sat down to speak with some women who had gathered ther Why did they go to the riverbank to look for worshipers of God? 1.There was probably not a synagogue in Philippi. There had to be 10 Jewish males 2.On the gates of the city was inscribed: All unauthorized religions are forbidden to enter. The Jewish faith was an unauthorized religion. Meeting on the banks of a river was fairly common.
Paul also continued his practice of seeking out a synagogue to start his ministry in a city. We will see him do this in many other cities as well. Another interesting point is that Paul eagerly ministered to women. He esteemed them along with men. Galatians 3:28 – There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.
14 One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying. 15 She was baptized along with other members of her household, and she asked us to be her guests. "If you agree that I am a true believer in the Lord," she said, "come and stay at my home." And she urged us until we agreed.
Lydia 1.She is the 1 st of the 3 people Luke highlights. 2.She is a wealthy merchant who dealt with purple dye. Only the wealthy & royalty wore purple garments. 3.She was Paul’s 1 st convert in Europe. 4.She was a God-fearer. Remember this was Paul’s most receptive group. From there, the Gentile converts would spread the Gospel along their relationship lines. This is where signs and wonders had the greatest impact.
Group Conversions Lydia and her whole household accepted Christ. This is difficult for us to understand. We place so much emphasis on individualism. Most of the world outside of the West does not. For them, all important decisions are made by the group as a whole and not by individuals. And, usually they’re made by the leaders of the household and by the tribal leaders.
This is where many Western missionaries make a mistake. They emphasize the individual need to make a decision to Christ. Because of that, the locals view the decision to follow Christ as an insignificant one. Everyone knows that all really important ones are made by the group and not by individuals. What you should do is start where they are. Then move to make sure each individual within the group understands their salvation.
16 One day as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a demon-possessed slave girl. She was a fortune-teller who earned a lot of money for her masters. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, "These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved." 18 This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And instantly it left her.
Fortune-Telling Slave Girl She is the 2 nd person Luke highlights in Philippi. We need to interpret in the light of advancing the Kingdom of God into the dominion of darkness. Remember Paul’s call? Acts 26:18 – To open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God's people, who are set apart by faith in Me. He was to push back the demonic darkness over people which then would allow them to open up to the Gospel.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 – If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. 4 Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don't understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. When Paul rebuked the powerful spirit in this girl, it removed the veil from the eyes of many in Philippi. It’s like a spiritual veil was lifted from that city. Then they could clearly see the truth of the Gospel.
This is repeated 4 times in the book of Acts: 1.Peter in Samaria rebuking Simon the Sorcerer. 2.Paul on Cyprus rebuking the sorcerer Bar Jesus. 3.Paul rebukes the Fortune-telling slave girl in Philippi. 4.Paul in Ephesus and the goddess Diana (ch. 19). All 4 encounters led to great evangelistic breakthroughs in their geographic regions. You need to pray this way over your unsaved loved ones. Pray that the eyes of their understanding will be opened to the light of the Gospel.
16 One day as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a demon-possessed slave girl. She was a fortune- teller who earned a lot of money for her masters. Demon possessed = pneuma pythona = Python spirit Delphi, the seat of the Greek worship of Apollo. There was also a fortune telling lady who would prophesy on the 7 th day of each month. She would sacrifice a goat to Apollo; then she would sit on a throne in Apollo’s temple. People would pay large sums of money to have her tell their fortunes. Delphi was, more than likely, the center of Satan’s activity in Greece.
The same could be said of Philippi in Macedonia. This was no small matter to the Philippians! This was a huge business. Here is where we in the West usually get lost again. We don’t have very accurate fortune tellers here. That is not the case in areas of the world where Satan has full, unhindered reign. In those places, he is able to pretty much control most everything that happens. That is why these fortune tellers are very accurate. But, when Paul & Silas arrive and shine the Light, the enemy’s forces are challenged.
17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, "These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved." This spirit’s theology was correct. Demons are pathological liars, but they do speak truth at times. But, when they speak the truth, it is always with the intent to deceive. This is not the servant girl speaking, but the demon spirit speaking through her.
18 This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And instantly it left her. This passage also shows us the usage of several of the spiritual weapons we have at our deposal against the enemy. Here we see the Name of Jesus. Paul rebukes the Python spirit in the name of Jesus, and it leaves immediately.
Luke 10:19 – Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. (NASB) Jesus has given us authority over the demonic, and we need to use that authority in the name of Jesus. This is what Paul did. He spoke directly to the spirit in Jesus’ name, and it obeyed. Notice also that Paul allowed this spirit to speak for several days before he did anything about it.
Why? Timing is of the essence. When we deal with such powerful spirit beings as this one, we need to move only as the Lord directs. As we have seen, this was not a low ranking spirit. Jesus set the example in how to deal with this.
John 5:19 – So Jesus explained, "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. If Jesus had to check the Father’s timing before proceeding, we need to do the same. This is why a good prayer life is important in combating the demonic. You need to know the Lord’s voice and be willing to obey when He guides.
19 Her masters' hopes of wealth were now shattered, so they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities at the marketplace. 20 "The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews!" they shouted to the city officials. 21 "They are teaching customs that are illegal for us Romans to practice."
22 A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. 23 They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn't escape. 24 So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.
This is why many believers do not want to engage in this type of ministry—spiritual backlash. If you pick a fight, you need to be prepared to follow through. Paul never backed down from a good fight. Most of the time I’ve been involved, it has just happened and I responded. The fortune-telling girl’s masters’ basic motivation was the loss of income. Notice they didn’t bring that up. But, they accused them as Jews who were teaching customs that are illegal to Romans.
The Philippian Jailer 25 Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. 26 Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! 27 The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. 28 But Paul shouted to him, "Stop! Don't kill yourself! We are all here!"
Set the stage –Paul & Silas had followed the Lord’s leading and come to Macedonia to preach. –They faithful obeyed. –Set a young girl free from demonic possession –Falsely accused –Unfairly caned –Thrown in prison –Fastened in stocks which clamped their arms & legs in an immobile position In their day, a prison was more like a dungeon. It was a dark, damp, stench-ridden place, with no facility for waste.
Despite all that, Paul and Silas were heard praying and singing praises to God! What a strange sound this must have been to the other prisoners, who were used to only hearing groans or cursing. Then suddenly, there was an earthquake that shook the prison. The doors flung open, and amazingly, the bonds of Paul, Silas, and every other prisoner were released!
What caused this mighty discharge of power? Paul and Silas knew the secret of praise and worship. They lifted their voices up to God despite their circumstance and began to praise God. This created an atmosphere where God could easily work and perform a miracle of deliverance.
No one left! Why? I believe it was because the Presence of God was so strong that no one wanted to leave. Also, it says that the other prisoners listened intently. The world is watching us and when we continue to praise God in the midst of our trials and problems, they take notice.
Praise is a 2 nd spiritual weapon against the enemy. This is what Paul and Silas did with their praise. Through their praises, the power of the enemy was broken and breakthrough happened. The whole tide changed. The jailer got saved and the leaders of the city came and apologized.
29 The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" 31 They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household." 32 And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. 33 Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. 34 He brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God.
Things are beginning to change. The atmosphere in the air had changed and there was now an open heaven over Philippi. This is a Scripture you can stand on for your family members who are not saved. Once again you see an example of group conversion. In those days, a jailer who allowed a prisoner to escape would have received the prisoner’s sentence.
35 The next morning the city officials sent the police to tell the jailer, "Let those men go!" 36 So the jailer told Paul, "The city officials have said you and Silas are free to leave. Go in peace." 37 But Paul replied, "They have publicly beaten us without a trial and put us in prison—and we are Roman citizens. So now they want us to leave secretly? Certainly not! Let them come themselves to release us!" 38 When the police reported this, the city officials were alarmed to learn that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens. 39 So they came to the jail and apologized to them. Then they brought them out and begged them to leave the city.
The leaders were in big trouble with the Roman government for trying and caning 2 Roman citizens without a proper trial. The leaders could have been put to death for making this mistake. Amazing how things changed so quickly in 24 hours. Wisdom is learning what to overlook. Paul willingly left the city without pressing charges. We need to learn from this in our relationships. There’s a time to fight and a time to not. Wisdom knows the difference.
40 When Paul and Silas left the prison, they returned to the home of Lydia. There they met with the believers and encouraged them once more. Then they left town. Notice that Luke changed from 1 st person back to 3 rd person. Evidently Luke stayed in Philippi as the team (Paul, Silas & Timothy) moved on. He doesn’t show up again until chapter 20.
Conclusion How should you handle bad situations? Look at Paul and Silas’ example and see the results. Praise God in the midst of your trials. It turns your attention off your problems and on God.