When it was daylight…the jailer told Paul “The magistrate ordered the jailer to release Paul and Silas…”when they heard Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed…after they came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house where they met and encouraged the brothers. Then they left.
At this point in history, the group has arrived in Europe, they had been in Troas, now onward to Macedonia (Europe). Paul = apostle, Silas = prophet, Timothy = Paul’s mentee, Luke = physician.
This is one of the “we” sections of Acts.
Phillippi was a Roman colony, usually there was a synagogue, but perhaps there wasn’t one here, so they went to the place of prayer by the riverside. Paul preached to them, and Lydia’s heart was opened. She became a Christian. She asked the group to lodge at her place, and they did (she was fairly well-off, a seller of expensive purple cloth).
Now, here we are.
Acts 16:16 – Luke says, “when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl with a (python) spirit.” Apollo spirit – python was slain by Apollo in mythology.
She had a spirit of divination, fortune-telling, and made a LOT of money for her masters. She followed them around prophesying about them “they preach THE way to salvation.” Even so, she wasn’t condoning or encouraging them, likely mocking them.
Same thing happened to Jesus in Capernaum – a spirit cried out, “We know who you are, the holy one of God.” Jesus rebuked it and it came out.
Paul tolerated it for a few days, but eventually, cast it out. Oops…angry masters…
The HS (Holy Spirit) was working through Paul as the enemy tried to destroy this spreading of the gospel.
Interesting – the Occult, any form, is emnity against God and his will.
Fortune telling is forbidden in Deuteronomy 8:13?
Any Israelite who sacrifices his son to pagan gods must be killed, no one can be a wizard, do black magic, etc – it’s disgusting to God.
Isaiah 8:19, “so why are you trying to find out the future by consulting wizards…can the living find out the future from the dead? Why not ask your God.”
Warnings of the Occult.
Perhaps even we have read horoscopes, played with a Ouiji Board – it seems harmless, but God says, “it’s not.” It may be a stumbling block to grow in grace with the Lord – maybe it’s time to renounce the works of the enemy, even if you haven’t done it for years – renounce the works of the enemy.
So, now the demon was gone, and so was all the MONEY! So, the masters were upset, grabbed the two and took them to the authorities.
Acts 5 – Ananias and Sapphiara,
Also, BarJesus, Paul gets involved with spiritual warfare and exorcises demons, and claims more territory for the Lord.
Many MANY instances in which people were interested in financial gain, but their motives were uncovered by the truth of the gospel. Luke uses the same word for “leaving” when the spirit leaves the girl, and as the girl leaves her master.
But why only grab Paul and Silas? Probably pretty obvious who were Jews. Timothy was half-Jew (on his mother’s side), and Luke was a Gentile doctor.
So the slave masters are using anti-Semitism to get Paul and Silas in prison. There was already some anger toward the Jews, general prejudices.
“We know what kind of trouble makers these are because of what’s been going on in Rome.”
So, they appeal to the anti-Semitism and patriotism in Phillippi, so the mob rises against them and beat them with rods, then throw them into prison. The magistrates instruct the jailer to guard the prison securely. So, he put them in the back room, with ankle shackles – solitary confinement in the deepest part of the dungeon.
Luke emphasizes this imprisonment to show how miraculous the rescue will be.
Then, at midnight, through prayers and singing, despite physical discomfort, their souls were at peace, even joyful – likely this had a profound effect upon the other prisoners. This is similar to Acts 5, when Peter is imprisoned and an angel rescues him.
Gamaliel – a Pharisee, Paul had studied at his feet. He had said, “You know, other religions have come up before. If this is of man, it will come to nothing. But, if it’s from God, it will succeed anyway, and we will be fighting against God.” So, he said, just let them be.
Then, the apostles were beaten and told to leave. And they rejoiced that they had been counted worthy to be persecuted for his name.
Here is a similar situation, their spirits were free, though their bodies were imprisoned.
“And can it be that I should gain an interest in my Savior’s blood?” Charles Wesley
“my chains fell off, my heart went free, I went and followed Thee.”
Acts 16:26, The Lord’s response to their prayers and praises, an earthquake shakes all the locks open – doors and chains. The jailer awakes, and thinks they’ve all fled.
In Roman law, if a guard lost his prisoner, he would be subject to the punishment of his lost prisoners. He thought he would die.
“We are all here.”
So, why didn’t the other prisoners run off? Perhaps there was a sense of the presence of God. Perhaps they were awestruck by Paul and Silas thinking they were magicians.
The jailer came, brought a light, brought them out. “What must I do to be saved?”
His physical life had already been saved because Paul prevented his suicide. So, what did he mean, and what prompted this question? Had the presence and power of the Holy Spirit simply convicted the man of his sins? Jesus said, “When the HS comes, he will convict man of sin and unrighteousness and judgment.” Where the HS is, there is a conviction of the need of a Savior.
This is a question everyone needs to ask.
Our, and everyone’s eternal destiny hinges on the correct answer. Paul has the correct answer.
“Believe in JESUS – and you and your household will be saved (a personal decision from each person in the house, not just the head of the household can save everyone).”
Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to his whole household, and they believed.
It was customary for Roman prison guards to be veterans of the Roman army – they were non-Jews, Gentiles, pagans. So, Paul would have directed his teaching to reveal God as the Creator of all, and Jesus as his son and the way to salvation. He couldn’t preach ONLY the Old Testament, because the man couldn’t relate. Preach to them where they are at. Address an atheist from an atheist’s point of view. Address a Buddhist from that direction, and so on. Not everyone is familiar with Christian doctrine.
So then God gives a change of heart in this Roman veteran, and he wants to demonstrate that, so he got baptized, he and his whole family. He set food before them in his house, and rejoiced. He was a new creation.
It’s important to see that ALL the members made their own decisions to believe in God.
God’s design is household salvation.
Roman centurion Cornelius, Acts 10, also he and his whole family were saved.
This is encouraging to note. If there are members of our own families who are not saved, or not following closely, we should continue to hold them up in prayer and trust that God ALSO desires for them to be saved.
Later, Paul said, “no no, you can’t just let us go sneakily – we’re Romans.”
Paul, “we’ll go, on our own time.”
So, they went back to Lydia’s house to encourage the brothers there and they went on about their own time.
We can look to the Lord for our own salvation and the salvation of the members of our families.