See Bible Gem 1678 for the detail:
Timothy Joins the Team (Acts 16:1-5) 5 verses
- Paul went first to Derbe and then to Lystra, where there was a young disciple named Timothy. His mother was a Jewish believer, but his father was a Greek.
- Timothy was well thought of by the believers in Lystra and Iconium,
- so Paul wanted him to join them on their journey. In deference to the Jews of the area, he arranged for Timothy to be circumcised before they left, for everyone knew that his father was a Greek.
- Then they went from town to town, instructing the believers to follow the decisions made by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem.
- So the churches were strengthened in their faith and grew larger every day.
A Change of Direction Through a Vision in the Night (Acts 16:6-10) 5 verses
- Next Paul and Silas traveled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia, because the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the word in the province of Asia at that time.
- Then coming to the borders of Mysia, they headed north for the province of Bithynia, but again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there.
- So instead, they went on through Mysia to the seaport of Troas.
- 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!”
- So we decided to leave for Macedonia at once, having concluded that God was calling us to preach the Good News there.
The Conversion of Lydia (Acts 16:11-15) 5 verses
- We boarded a boat at Troas and sailed straight across to the island of Samothrace, and the next day we landed at Neapolis.
- From there we reached Philippi, a major city of that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. And we stayed there several days.
- 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 there.
- 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.
- 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.
The Encounter with the Demon Possessed Slave Girl (Acts 16:16-22) 7 verses
- 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.
- 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 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.
- Her masters’ hopes of wealth were now shattered, so they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities at the marketplace.
- “The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews!” they shouted to the city officials.
- “They are teaching customs that are illegal for us Romans to practice.”
- A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods.
Paul and Silas In Prison (Acts 16:23-27) 5 verses
- They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape.
- So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.
- Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.
- 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!
- 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.
The Jailer Is Saved (Acts 16:28-34) 7 verses
- But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!”
- The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.
- Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
- They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.”
- And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household.
- 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.
- 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.
Paul and Silas Are Released (Acts 16:35-40) 6 verses
- The next morning the city officials sent the police to tell the jailer, “Let those men go!”
- So the jailer told Paul, “The city officials have said you and Silas are free to leave. Go in peace.”
- 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!”
- When the police reported this, the city officials were alarmed to learn that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens.
- So they came to the jail and apologized to them. Then they brought them out and begged them to leave the city.
- 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.
What an interesting forty verses. Suddenly Luke has sped up the pace of the story. Before this he has dwelt long on the details on sections which didn’t move fast. He has been painstakingly slow to unfold the story for us. Now in this section of the book the pace of the story speeds up considerably and moves much faster. In the space of a few verses Timothy has joined the team, an influential woman has joined the team, there has been a power encounter, a slave girl has been freed from satan’s grip, her owners got upset, Paul and Silas have been put in a Roman prison, the jailer and his family are saved, Paul and Silas are released and begged to leave and they go and stay with Lydia. Wow such action, all carefully chosen and told. All of the action is under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We are told very clearly that Paul and Silas’ direction change was instigated by the Holy Spirit.
In the space of forty verses:
- groups of believers Paul visited with Barnabas have been strengthened,
- a Jewish/Greek young man who will feature prominently has joined the team,
- the Gospel has been spread into a totally new area,
- a prominent female citizen and a demon possessed girl’s lives have been changed,
- the normal opposition to the Gospel emerges,
- Paul and Silas are jailed,
- the jailer and his family are saved,
- the town leaders ask Paul and Silas to leave in a very peaceful way,
- Paul and Silas go to stay at Lydia’s house,
- then strengthen and encourage the believers,
- then they leave.
Why does Luke suddenly speed up the pace of the story and the spread of the gospel? Do you see that Luke is giving us more of the same only now he is condensing the story to the highlights. Why? Because he has set the scene over and over. This all fits with Jesus statement to His followers (including you and me) that we would be witnesses in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth. Don’t forget that is the way this book is patterned. It is all to do with the spread of the Gospel (The Good News about Christ) to the ends of the earth. Within the space of 40 verses more members are added to the team in the form of Timothy and Lydia, highly significant people; a slave girl is saved and her release from the kingdom of darkness shakes that kingdom and the aftermath threatens God’s Kingdom. But don’t worry, all is well. Things are just going according to plan. God’s plan.
It took Luke 40 verses to tell the story of building the team and shaking the Roman world.
After Jesus announcement of the task and his ascension it took 7 chapters to move from Jerusalem.
It took 4 chapters (from chapters eight to twelve) to move the story back and forth between Jerusalem and Samaria through Judea. Go back and count for yourself the number of healings, miracles of other kinds, imprisonments and dramatic releases from prison. In each and every case the outcome is opposition. It is all so predictable and yet patterned. This is what is needed to shake the world, any world. Up until now the pattern has been to preach the Good News of Jesus as Messiah to Jews who didn’t believe. Following that the movement changes to preaching beyond the Jewish world. But what happens? The Jew opposition follow wherever this gospel goes seeking to prevent the spread of this influential story from happening. Over and over we are told the same story, the foundations of which are made clear to us. The opposition builds until there is a power encounter and God demonstrates over and over that He is behind the events that are happening.
The story moves beyond Jerusalem and its surrounding region of Judea and still the same thing happens. Only in this section (Chapt 8-12) the new fledgling church itself wrestles with the nature of the message they bear and what is essential and what is peripheral. Having worked that out, a new Gentile base of operations is developed in Antioch. Have you noticed that each time a new base of operations is built we have new personnel added to the team? That makes sense doesn’t it? It is not possible to build an earth-shattering ministry without adding people. That is what this is all about. The message and its impact on people in ever increasing circles of influence. But with it always comes opposition. Each successive wave of new recruits need to work through the opposition and gain a new perspective of the battle in which they find themselves. Do you see the point? It is the same with each successive wave of new recruits, including you and me.
The baton has been passed from Peter to Paul in terms of ministry of the Gospel to Gentiles. The story has taken us through Cornelius and into the Gentile Church in Antioch. That Antioch church then commissioned Paul and Barnabas to take on the next phase or circle of the spread of the Gospel. Paul’s first missionary journey (Chapters 13 to 15) although far beyond the geographic limits of the Jewish influence in Jerusalem is still hampered by the Jewish opposition which follows them wherever they go. But whatever the geographic setting, the pattern is still the same. There is always something that happens that changes people’s lives and sets them free from power of satan. Following which the messengers are pursued, beaten or imprisoned. But God always vindicates, even if it’s through death.
Now on this third missionary journey which started at the beginning of Chapter 16 that pace hots up but the story is the same. Luke has condensed the details and the build-up but the outcome is the same and patterns are still unfolding in the same way. Only now the opposition is not Jewish. Now we have broken into the new circle of the truly Roman world. Yes, it is true that Jerusalem was also part of the Roman world but the Romans allowed the Sanhedrin to govern as a circle within a circle. The Jewish leaders had a degree of limited authority in Jerusalem and its environs. But the same thing was not true of the world beyond. In Antioch although largely Gentile there was still strong Jewish opposition. But when the spread of the Gospel moves into Asia Minor and then to Macedonia (at the Holy Spirit’s prompting) we are into a different world. Now the opposition is from other cultures. This message of the Gospel has now crossed an unseen cultural barrier. Yet the opposition is still strong. Why?
Simply because the message of the Gospel is diametrically opposed to all cultures of the world. The Gospel of the Kingdom is to be proclaimed to the entire world. This message of the Jewish Messiah is for the whole world. Jesus said it when He proclaimed in His very first “sermon” in Nazareth.
“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, for He has anointed Me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD’s favour has come.Luke 4:18-19
Then again in –
For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.Luke 19:10
The message is always consistent.
Now stop and think why was there so much problem in Philippi? We have left the Jewish world behind. We are not bogged down any more with Jewish opposition to a message that doesn’t fit with their orthodoxy. No, the message has moved way beyond that. Now it is truly in the Roman world. But the problem is still the same. Captives still need to be released, blind still need to see, and the oppressed still need setting free. The good news still needs to be brought to the poor. Do you see the problem? Lydia and the slave girl are both in the same category. Both need to see, to be released and set free. Both are poor although one is rich. They are examples of both ends of the same spectrum. We all need saving from ourselves.
Why does the opposition rise again so strongly there in Philippi? Simple because humans were oppressing humans. The opposition was not a religious one even though they tried to couch it in religio-cultural terms. It wasn’t. It was simply people oppressing and exploiting people. This Gospel of the Kingdom transcends cultures because all human cultures fall short of God’s standard. Everywhere you go in this world you will see people exploiting people in the name of religion and whatever other reason or excuse they come up with. The problem is still the same – they fall short of God’s standard. Jesus came to bring a new Way and to release His Christ-followers to tell the world. That is what causes opposition. Because when oppressed people are set free, the oppressors lose money. Oh how sad. No! It should be time for great rejoicing, not jail. The angels in heaven are rejoicing over one sinner who repents. But you see as I told you in the quotes I shared in Gem 1693 you need to understand the nature of this spiritual battle between the kingdom of darkness and the Kingdom of God.
- Do you realize that is what satan has done to you? He makes you think you are his prisoner when it reality you are free in Christ.
- Appropriate your freedom and just walk out! Stop fiddling with the lock for hours, days, weeks, months, years. In Jesus name walk out of your prison.
- When Christ sets you free, you are free indeed.
Some more people have drawn my attention to my mistake in not capitalizing the name satan. It is deliberate. I refuse to spell satan’s name with a capital letter. I have done that for years. On the matter of mistakes: Sometimes my brain needs to tell my fingers one by one. I can think one thing in my mind but my fingers don’t follow in typing; they type something else. Does anyone else have trouble syncing their fingers with their brain or is it just me? Well I guess there is always that potential in the Gems as long as they are live. I write them on the morning I send them; they are not pre-packaged. I deliberately choose to do it that way in order to make them interactive. I will go through all the Gems and Nuggets after the website is launched and correct typos etc. I don’t want to do it now as it will delay the launch significantly.
All human cultures have “redemptive analogies” of the Truth of Christ.Don Richardson
But no human culture embodies Total Truth. God’s Truth transcends culture.Ian Vail
All human beings on the planet are in need of saving from themselves, no matter how smart they think they may be.Ian Vail
You are always and forever in need of a Saviour because the cleverness of mankind is limited.Ian Vail
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say, “He traps the wise in the snare of their own cleverness.1 Cor 3:19
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.Rom 3:23