Paul’s Second Missionary Journey: Acts 16:1-8.
Paul first went to Derbe and to Lystra. There was a disciple named Timothy whose mother was Jewish but the father was Greek. Timothy had a good testimony among the believers. Paul wanted Timothy to join him on their missionary journey. Timothy was circumcised to remove the barrier to witness among Jews and as well as Gentiles. Paul never considered this as a requirement for salvation but he allowed this to remove the barrier that would prevent people from hearing the gospel. Paul’s foremost interest was to preach the gospel and win people to Jesus Christ. Paul became all things to all men and was willing to give up cultural practices and preferences (1Cor 9:22). Cultural accommodation in evangelism is often necessary to the furtherance of the gospel. They went from churches to churches which they have established and instructed the believers to follow the decisions of Jerusalem council. So the churches were strengthened and increased in number daily. Personal evangelism was the strength of the early church. This is a pattern Christians should follow at all time. Paul and Silas were prevented by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in the province of Asia Minor. They traveled through Mysia and reached the seaport of Troas. Paul waited for God’s direction, which came in a vision from Macedonia saying “Come over and help us”. With clear direction, Paul and his team went to Macedonia (16:9). Luke was from Macedonia. Christ is the Lord of the Harvest. The sovereign Lord closed the doors in Asia and opened the door in Europe. Are we willing to go to places where doors are opened for the gospel?
A Call from Macedonia: Acts 16:9-15.
Those who wait on the Lord will always find God’s leading in the ministry. Lord’s guidance comes through the scriptures, through circumstances and sometimes through council of godly men. At Troas Luke joined Paul, Silas and Timothy. They immediately sailed to the island of Samothrace and on to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi. Philippi was a Roman colony that enjoyed the privileges of Roman citizens and self government. It was the leading city of Macedonia. There was no Jewish synagogue. On the Sabbath, Paul and fellow evangelists went outside the city to a riverside. There they encountered Lydia, a woman from Thyatira and she was a god-fearing Jewish proselyte. She also was a seller of purple, a woman of wealth and a worshiper of God. The Lord graciously opened her heart to repent and believe the gospel. She was baptized along with her family. She urged God’s servants to come and stay at her home. Only God has the power to open a person’s eye to see the glory of Chris (2 Cor 4:4-6). Our salvation is an act of God from beginning to end. Pray that God would open the eyes of those who have not surrendered to Jesus.
Paul and Silas in Prison: Acts 16:16-24.
Paul and team encountered a young demon-possessed slave girl who earned a great deal of money for her masters by fortunetelling. She followed the evangelists chanting “These men are servants of the Most High God “. She recognized Paul and his companion as the servants of God just as the demon had recognized Jesus as the “Holy One” (Mark 1:24). Her insight was inspired by an evil spirit (16:16-17). Paul commanded the spirit to leave her and thus rescued her from the power of demon. This girl’s conversion to Christ resulted in the imprisonment of Paul and Silas. Rather than rejoicing at her deliverance, her masters seized Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authority at the marketplace. The magistrates gave orders to beat them with rode. After they had been beaten, they were thrown into prison, ordering the Jailer to put them in the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. Paul and Silas were savagely beaten and jailed as anarchists. Those who do not know Christ, often view Christian works as threat to their sinful interests and values. When we face such situation, we should pray for boldness to demonstrate Christ’s love for doing what is best for other. There is no greater love than this.
The Conversion of Jailer: Acts 16:25-40.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing to God. Suddenly there was a great earthquake and the prison was shaken to its foundation and all the doors were opened and the chains of every prisoner were unfastened. The jailer assumed that the prisoners had escaped and he decided to kill himself. But Paul said “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here” (16:28). Thus God rescued this helpless man. The jailer fell at the feet of Paul and Silas. Then jailer brought them out of prison. He asked Paul and Silas “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Paul said “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved and your household”. They used this tragedy as an opportunity to present the gospel. Paul’s answer is really the gospel in nutshell. He did not command jailer to forsake all his sinful ways but to believe in Christ. Genuine trust in Christ is all that required to be saved from sin. The jailer and his entire household believed and were baptized at once. Those who believe in Christ should be baptized immediately. They are not to be placed on probation for some time to make sure of their salvation. The jailer’s act of washing the stripes of Paul and Silas was an act of mercy and the proof of his conversion. When the magistrates came to know that Paul and Silas were Roman Citizens and they were frightened. They apologized to Paul and Silas and asked them to leave the city in peace. Then they visited Lydia and encouraged believers, and departed. The use of “we” is not mentioned again until Acts chapter 20:5. God uses His servants to save souls. We can share the gospel with confidence knowing that nothing can prevent God's power from saving the souls. Apparently Luke stayed in Philippi to oversee the work there. Faith comes as a result of hearing the word of God. Christians must rejoice in all circumstances and have an evangelistic purpose in all they do. Pray that this truth would strengthen your ability to share the gospel with great confidence.