Acts 15:36, 18;22
Paul separated from Barnabas on the second missionary journey because of John Mark who wanted to accompany them again. John Mark had abandoned Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey. Paul refused and Barnabas went off with John Mark. Paul chose Silas to be his travelling companion.
Paul and Silas travelled through Syria and Cilicia to Derbe and Lystra. At Lystra, Paul made Timothy his disciple after he had circumcised him. They went from town to town telling Christian converts about the decision of the Jerusalem Council. In his second missionary journey, Paul did missionary work in the European cities of Philippi, Athens and Corinth.
Paul in Philippi (Acts 16:11-34) While Paul and his traveling companions were at Troas, he had a vision to go to Macedonia. A man of Macedonia appeared to him saying:
“Come over to Macedonia and help us.”
Paul and his companions immediately went over to Macedonia and made their way to the city of Philippi.
Philippi was a city founded by Philip of Macedonia, the father of Alexander the Great. It was here that Octavian defeated Mark Anthony. After this defeat, Philippi became a Roman colony. Later, Caesar Augustus settled a large number of veteran soldiers there. The people of Philippi were given the opportunity to become Roman citizens and many of them became Roman citizens.
Philippi was important as a gold mining centre and an agricultural region. It was a typical Roman town with an amphitheatre and temples dedicated to the Greek gods. They practiced magic and fortune telling. There were a few Jews in Philippi. They hadn’t any synagogue and only met for worship outside the town.
Paul and his companions spent some days in Philippi preaching the Gospel and many people believed and accepted the Lord, Jesus Christ. One of the women who was converted was Lydia, a seller of purple goods from the city of Thyatira. She allowed Paul and his companions to stay in her home for the rest of their stay in Philippi.
One Sabbath day, Paul and his friends were going to pray outside the city at the place of prayer that was near a river. A slave girl followed them. She was a strange girl because she had a spirit of divination. This is the ability to see into the future with the help of evil spirits. The slave girl’s masters made a lot of money by using her to foretell for others.
The slave girl followed Paul and Silas, shouting:
“These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.
The girl did this for many days until Paul got angry and turned to her and said to the evil spirit:
“I charge you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.”
The spirit came out of the girl and she was freed.
The masters of the girl were angry because they could no longer earn money through her. They turned the crowd against Paul and Silas and they were arrested and taken to the magistrates. They made false charges against them saying:
‘These men are Jews and they are disturbing our city. They advocate customs which it is not lawful for us Romans to accept or practice’.
They removed the dresses of the apostles and flogged them on their backs with canes. They were then thrown into prison.
The keeper of the prison was told to guard them well. Therefore, he took them inside a cell and locked their feet in the stocks so that they would not escape:
At night, Paul and Silas were praying and the other prisoners were listening to them.
All of a sudden there was a great earthquake. The Holy Spirit shook the whole prison. The doors flew open and the chains binding all the prisoners were loosened. The keeper of the prison awoke from his sleep. He was afraid when he saw the prison doors opened because he thought all the prisoners had escaped. If the prisoners had escaped, he would have had to pay with his life; so he drew out his sword to kill himself.
It was at this moment that Paul cried out to him:
“Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.”
The jailer fell down before the apostles and asked:
“Men, what must I do to be saved?”
And they replied:
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will all be saved, you and your household.”
The jailer was so happy that he attended to the apostles. He washed and dressed their wounds. After that, the apostles baptized him and his family. The jailer then gave them food. The jailer and his family were very happy for having received the Lord Jesus as their Saviour.
The significance of Paul’s visit to Philippi
- Paul’s immediate response to the vision, to go to Macedonia and help them, showed his readiness to serve God so as to bring salvation to others, in spite of the dangers and hardships he had to face.
- By offering her home to Paul and Silas to use as their base in Philippi, Lydia supported the missionary work of the apostles.
- The jailer became a changed man and led a New Life in Jesus Christ after his conversion. As proof of this, he was kind to the apostles.