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The Book of Acts, lessons, commentary and study guide from the church of Christ

Bobby Stafford What Happened at Philippi
Acts: Lesson 35 Acts Chapter 16 Verses 16-40
        

The Book of Acts

What Happened at Philippi?

Introduction:

Paul and his co-workers had arrived in Philippi and converted Lydia and her household.  At her bequest, they stayed and made her household their base of operations in the city. 

Text: Acts 16:16-40

Body:

I.  Paul and Silas Are Imprisoned  Acts 16:16-24  “Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling.  This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, ‘These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.’  And this she did for many days.  But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, ‘I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.’  And he came out that very hour.  But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.  And they brought them to the magistrates, and said, ‘These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe.’  Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods.  And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely.  Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.”  NKJV

·  Near the end of Paul’s efforts in Philippi, he met a demon-possessed slave girl.  She had a spirit of divination – a Pythian spirit.  Apparently this demon had some knowledge that impressed the crowds.  Fortune-telling was forbidden to God’s people under the Law of Moses.  (Deuteronomy 18:10-11 “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.”

·  She spoke the truth when she cried out who these men were and who they served.  Note James 2:19  “You believe that there is one God.  You do well.  Even the demons believe – and tremble!” NKJV

·  Paul finally took pity on her and cast out the demon.  (I John 4:4“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”  Also Luke 10:17-18  “Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.’  And He said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.’ ” NKJV

·  This angered the girl’s owners greatly.  When the spirit came out, so did their source of income.  Paul and Silas were seized [not Timothy and Luke] and dragged before the authorities.  Marketplace:  One source states this was a paved area  [164’ x 325’] with a large platform at one end.  This served as  a “judgment seat” for Paul and Silas.

·  Two chief magistrates presided over each Roman colony.  The slave-owners made accusations that would stir the emotions of all those present.

·  The officials ordered that Paul and Silas be beaten.  The men who were to inflict this punishment were “rod-bearers.”  They carried a bundle of wooden rods tied with red cords.  These rods were about the thickness of a thumb.  This bundle represented Roman authority and for several years was pictured on the back of a United States dime.

·  The guards stripped the clothing off the backs of Paul and Silas and hit them with the rods repeatedly.  Being bruised and bleeding, they were thrown into the inner prison or dungeon and put in stocks.  They were treated as dangerous criminals!

 

II.  A Jailer Is Converted  Acts 16:25-40  “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.  Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.  And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself.  But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, ‘Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.’  Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.  And he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’  So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.’  Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.  And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes.  And immediately he and all his family were baptized.  Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.  And when it was day, the magistrates sent the officers, saying, ‘Let those men go.’  So the keeper of the prison reported these words to Paul, saying, ‘The magistrates have sent to let you go.  Now therefore depart, and go in peace.’  But Paul said to them, ‘They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison.  And now do they put us out secretly?  No indeed!  Let them come themselves and get us out.’  And the officers told these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans.  Then they came and pleaded with them and brought them out, and asked them to depart from the city.  So they went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia; and when they had seen the Brethren, they encouraged them and departed.”  NKJV

·  Even in pain, Paul and Silas were singing.  Their bodies may have been bound, but their spirits weren’t.  (I Peter 2:19-20 “For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully.  For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently?  But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.” NKJV  There was an earthquake, no doubt miraculous, which opened the doors and unfastened the stocks.  The jailer awakened and believed the prisoners had all escaped.  So he attempted to kill himself to avoid being executed.  Paul yelled at him to stop which he does.  The jailer trembled before Paul and Silas realizing there is a powerful force behind them.

·  The jailer asked what he needed to do to be saved, probably from the judgment of God.  He did not know who Jesus was so Paul and Silas told him and his household and of their need for forgiveness of sins.  Like the blind man in John 9:36“He answered and said, ‘Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?’ ”  There is a basic level of truth one must understand in order to be saved.  Only after repenting and being baptized did the jailer rejoice that he had “believed in God.”  So believing in God included repentance and baptism.

·  The magistrates probably thought the beatings and imprisonment would be sufficient to teach these trouble-making Jews a lesson.  The authorities had broken two laws.  They had inflicted punishment without a trial and beaten two Roman citizens.  Note that Paul and Silas used the protection of civil law for their safety.  They went back to Lydia’s house, encouraged the brethren and then left.  But Luke stayed in Philippi.  Notice the use of “they” in Acts 17:1“Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews.” NKJV

Conclusion:

An important lesson we learn from the Philippian jailer is the need to do things immediately and not put them off.  When he asked Paul what he needed to do to be saved, Paul replied that he needed to believe in the Lord Jesus.  He and his household were taught more about salvation and were baptized at once.  Baptism was essential to their salvation so it was not put off for days or weeks, but was done immediately.

 Bobby Stafford 

March 20, 2016  Acts

Lesson 35  Acts 16:16-40

 More Studies on Acts

 

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