Lesson 37: Paul's 2nd Missionary Journey (Continued/Thrust Into Philippi's Inner Prison)

Acts 16:16-24

In our last lesson Paul and Silas revisited the churches of Galatia. A young man named Timothy joined them at Derbe. From there the Spirit directed them (in a negative sort of way) into Europe. Apparently the first apostle to set foot in Europe, Luke joined them at Troas. They came to Philippi in Macedonia, where there was NO synagogue. But they found some women meeting by a riverside. A lady named Lydia and her household obeyed the gospel. We read verse 13-14-15 of Acts 16 in our last lesson. You might want to re-read that. Notice it said: "she attended unto the things which were spoken by Paul." What does that do to the doctrine of fore-ordination? Saved before the foundation of the world, elected to be saved or lost before birth. Have you heard that? Nothing YOU can do, they say. Do you believe it? Did Paul preach it? Obviously NOT! What did Luke mean when he said: whose HEART the Lord opened?" What was that? Something miraculous? Praying through? A jolt from the spirit? What do you think? HERE is another case of conversion. We want to know: How did it happen? Paul told the Romans: "with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Rom. 10:10. Something happened in Lydia's heart. What was it? Was this a direct operation of the Spirit? No sir! But why? Why did Lydia ATTEND unto those things spoken by Paul and the other women did not? The answer is simple. Lydia believed what Paul preached. The other women didn't. The word began to germinate In Lydia's heart. She was an honest and good heart as Jesus described in the parable of the sower AND as this some Luke recorded in Luke 8:15. Lydia's heart means her brain, the center of her nervous system; NOT the blood pump. "Faith is the substance of things hoped for..." according to Heb. 11:1. Lydia began to get some of that substance in her inward parts. Hope is the ANCHOR of the souL.Heb. 6:19. Peter said, "God...according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope (how Peter) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." I Pet. 1:3. Faith and hope are powerful tools. If you believe in something, you'll react to it! You will get in there and pitch. You will ATTEND to whatever it takes. And, Jesus gives to those that believe the power to become the sons of God. John 1:12. Believing does not make us sons of God; it simply gives us the power to become. To be a child of God, we must be born again. Born of the water and of the Spirit. That's John 3:5. And that takes some changing in attitude and some attending on our part. That's what Lydia did. She was born of the water and she was born of the Spirit, i.e. she was baptized verse 15 put it. She was buried in a watery grave, possibly right there in that river that flowed by their meeting place. She was raised up again to start a new life. She received the gift of the Holy Spirit, i.e. the Spirit began to dwell in her. "...we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit." That's I John 4:12. Thus, Lydia had new life in here, she was born of the Spirit. She was a newborn babe as Peter put it in I Pet. 2: 2. And Lydia understood she must "be faithful to the Lord." See that in the middle of verse 15? Lydia was ready to do a good work. Lydia didn't waste any time. When she heard the word, she obeyed that word. She was ready to work promoting the cause. She knew heaven was worth it all. Now, what about Lydia's household? Who else were baptized? We don't know. Most likely some of her children. She could have had household servants that obeyed. Like I said, we don't know WHO. We don't know how MANY. But there were others. Some have used this to teach infant baptism. They say: see, the whole household was baptized, there MUST have been some infants. You can't prove that! You can't even prove Lydia was married, let alone that she had infant children or grandchildren. Her household could have consisted of her aged father, two old maid aunts and a butler. We don't know! So don't jump at straws. I must concede though it mentions only "women" in verse 13. Paul wrote to this young man Timothy in later years and charged him "make full proof of thy ministry." U Tim. 4:5. The apostle John said "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but TRY the spirits...many false prophets are gone out into the world." I John 4:1. Try them

out! Prove it! Paul told the brethren at Rome that "some"
serve their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches
deceive the hearts of the simple." (Rom. 16:18) So, hang in
there and dig it out for yourself; beware of men, who make
assumptions. Infant baptism! Vou'l 1 have to get it someplace
else, Lydia's household doesn't PROVE IT or even suggest
Where's the proof? Lydia was from the city of Thyatira; a city
of Asia. These preachers were not permitted to preach in Asia,
but it's interesting the first person they baptized in Europe was
an Asian from the city of Thyatira. City #27 on your map.
This certain woman named Lydia must have been a Jewess.
Because she went to where prayer was wont to be made on the
Sabbath, i.e. she worshipped on Saturday, the seventh day of
the week. Her customs tell us something about the lady,
herself. By occupation she was a saleslady; a seller of purple.
Thyatira, her hometown in Asia, was well known for
producing purple dye. This product was apparently used to
dye expensive cloth. And the dye itself was expensive. The
World Book Encyclopedia says it was extracted from a
shellfish found in the Mediterranean CALLED   (guess
what?)...PURPLE! Today, we call it "Royal Purple." This
must have been a good business. At least, it would appear,
Lydia was successful. "She must have had a big house to
entertain four preachers plus "her household," whoever that
was. When you think of Lydia, think of hospitality. Luke says,
"She constrained us." What does that mean? This was
characteristic of early Christians. We Kentuckians have a
word for that: "ye all come" and we constrain everybody.
Don't laugh (you see) weVe got scripture for it! Paul and Silas,
Luke and Timothy are in heathen territory; pagan gods with
dark superstitions. But, they ARE in Macedonia, where the
Spirit bade them to go. And, they're having some success; they
have baptized Lydia and her household. Who knows what
tomorrow will bring, Let's read verse 16 thru verse 24. "And it
came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed
with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters
much gain by soothsaying: the same followed Paul and us, and
cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high
God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did
she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the
spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out
of her. And he came out the same hour. And when her masters
saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul
and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,
and brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being
Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, and teach customs,
which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe,
being Romans. And the multitude rose up together against
them:   and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and
commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many
stripes upon them, they cast and made their feet fast in the
stocks." Some days, you just can't make $40,000. Life gets
tedious! You can't please everybody. Notice in verse 16, Luke
says: "as we went to prayer." Sometimes you can't even go to
worship without getting into trouble. It would appear AT
LEAST they continued to meet at the place by the river. I
would expect they met often, the tempo was probably
increased over the past. These preachers may have done
essentially what we would call a gospel meeting, i.e. preached
every day or evening for several days. I read an article in the
Seventh Day Adventist magazine called These Times a few
months ago. The author of that article used this text to make
the point that the early Christians continued to meet and
worship on the Sabbath day. Well, they ARE wrong. Early
Christians met on Sunday, the first day of the week to worship
and partake of the Lord's Supper. I'll prove it to you before we
get out of the book of Acts. BUT, you can It prove it or
disprove it here in the 16th chapter. For the simple reason that
point is not made here. Paul was zealous to teach. And, would
teach on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, or any other
day. It was his 7 vocations. He never missed a trick. O.K.!
Who was this certain damsel? The word "certain" is used 139
times in the KJV NEW TESTAMENT, if I counted it right. Luke uses it 101 times. The other seven or eight writer s, all together, use this word "certain" 38 times. So you can see this is one of Luke's favorite words. This certain damsel was possessed with a spirit of divination. What in the world was that? My dictionary says divination is the "act of foreseeing the future or foretelling the unknown." And that agrees with the word "soothsaying" at the end of verse 16. We would say she was a fortuneteller. And, don't miss these words: she "brought her masters much gain." So, that almighty, dollar was involved here.   (Money!) And money talks, right? Incidentally, is fortune telling an art, or a science, or a sham? I'll leave that one with you. At any rate, fortune telling is always a lucrative business with ignorant, superstitious people. And, I sense there were a lot of THEM around Philippi. Notice, in verse 17, Luke says, she followed Paul and us. "This she did many days" according to verse 18. Can you visualize that? I get the impression from the word "damsel" that she was a real cute little genie. These preachers probably tried to convert her, when they first met. Or, she may have heard a sermon or two by these preachers. Some think she was a slave girl. Nevertheless, her heart was made of dollar signs, where righteousness should have been. Can you imagine being followed day after day by a wicked little genie who tries to make a laughing stock out of you? Oh! her message was right! But, she was saying it in derision. She didn't believe it! She thought these preachers had a scam going like her and her masters.   She perceived it AS competition in business. Undoubtedly, for several days, every time she would catch these men out in public she would start this business, crying out "These men are servants of the most high God, which show us the way of salvation." What would you do? Take a back street? Do you remember Elvmus the sorcerer on Cyprus in Acts 13 when Paul and Barnabas tried to teach Surgius Paulus, the governor? It says that Elymus was a false prophet who "withstood" Paul and Barnabas. "Seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith." Do you remember what happened? After nonsense had gone to seed, Paul called upon the HOLY SPIRIT for help and Elymus was the recipient. You would agree, that must have got HIS attention. Although, their occupation was quite similar, I perceive there was a difference between Elymus and this certain damsel. Elvmus was a false prophet Acts 13:6 says. He knew Paul and Barnabas were right, but he withstood them anyhow for his own personal gain. It is not really said here in Acts 16 that this "certain damsel" believed or even understood Paul and Silas were dead serious. Her bold ignorance, was causing her to belittle these men and interfere with their work. Notice, her reference to deity is the "Most High God." You see, that implies there are lower gods.   A natural statement by a pagan who HAS and who WORSHIPS many gods. Paul was grieved, verse 18 says. So, Paul miraculously, through the Spirit, programmed a little "correction" into her computer. Now, I don't understand (from a scientific point of view) how Paul, through the Spirit, did that. But, they knew what they were doing. She got the message! These men WERE the servants of Jehovah God. They DID SHOW the way of salvation unto men. AND that realization done her up, so far as her occupation was concerned and naturally the harassment stopped. Now, when her carnival keeping employers learned that through these preachers her attitude was changed, they became very angry. They must have said, "we'll teach you punk preacher boys to mess around with somebody else's property." They saw these preachers as foreigners interfering in local affairs, causing the loss of revenue to a local citizen. They made a scene out of it, calling in the local authorities. Notice the COMPLAINT they made to the magistrates in verse 20-21. "These men, being Jews do exceedingly trouble our city, and teach customs. which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans." This charge was not true, but it served to stir up the emotions of the people. They tried to make it appear there was a conflict between national   patriotism and Christianity. Which of course, was not true. Jesus said 'my kingdom is not of this world." John 18:36. About this time or possibly a little before this time the Emperor Claudius had expelled all Jews from Rome, the capital of the empire. Thus the mere mention of the word "Jews" here in a Roman colony was calculated to stir hatred against these men. How were
these preachers troubling the whole city? You can see this was
an exaggeration of those making the complaint! As Iunderstand it, and I'm not very well versed on these things, theRoman law required its citizens to honor certain pagan gods. But, the law also permitted the Jews to practice their religionfreely, possibly with the exception of proselyting Romancitizens. This is probably the THRUST of the complaint in verse   2I.Roman   citizenship   was   a   special   status   ofconsiderable honor granted to the children of Roman citizensat birth, or sometimes it was granted to individuals forrendering some special service to the state. The most commonspecial service was to serve in the army-twenty-five years. Itwould appear that one could buy this status, I assume thisfrom what is said later on in Acts 22:28. It carried the deathpenalty to falsely claim citizenship. It is NOT clear how theRomans proved their citizenship. But, a CITIZEN could NOTbe punished without a trial. They COULD NOT be bound orbeaten either before or during a trial. Roman citizenship gaveone the right to appeal to Caesar, i.e. they were entitled to go
before the Emperor himself for a hearing. And once this
appeal was made, it could NOT be revoked. Paul and Silas
were Roman citizens. But apparently it was assumed they
were NOT citizens in the haste of dragging them to the market
place, i.e. the place of public forum which would undoubtedly
be equivalent to our city hall or courthouse. The multitude
rose up together against them..." That's verse 22." ... It seems
one can never judge what the public reaction is going to be.
Paul healed a man at Lystra, you'll remember, and the people
tried to worship HIM and Barnabas. When Paul tried to
restrain them from worshiping HIM, then they tried to stone
him to death. Public opinion usually travels in waves and
sudden bursts. I get the feeling one of these big SWELLS of
public opinion expressed itself in Philippi that day, we can
only guess why. Possibly MANY had heard these preachers
by this time and were already harboring some resentment
when this. "Certain damsel" incident happened. At any rate,
the tide of public outburst must have influenced themagistrates, or public officials, to over-react. They made no
attempt to find out if these men were Roman citizens. It was
just assumed they were NOT. These public officials had Paul
and Silas' clothing removed so they could beat them or whip
them on their bare backs. They were beaten with "many
stripes.' verse 23. Then the jailer was told, maximum security.
He "made their feet fast in the stocks," verse 24 says: in the
"inner prison". Can you imagine? Sometimes it's not easy to
preach Jesus. Those prisons haunt me! I have had occasion to
visit Jails and talk with inmates and just the sound of that big
click, when that door slams behind me, is enough to give me
psychological terror, even as a visitor. I can't imagine clamps
on my feet, my back bleeding, and TWO LOCKED DOORS
between me and the keys. Think how depressing it would be
when you were left alone. Once you had time enough to think
about your plight. Seven or eight hundred miles from Antioch,
on another continent, bleeding, in need of first aid, you can't
even get into a comfortable position; your back is stinging
miserably. The Jailer was under orders, "keep them safely."
He MUST cooperate. He was charged with the responsibility,
so he went ALL OUT to treat them as hardened criminals;
though he must have known in his heart THAT was NOT the
case. Yet, he entered into the spirit of total and thorough
incarceration. Where are Luke and Timothy? Apparently they
were not arrested. But can you imagine how SAD these two
young men must have been knowing they personally, could do
nothing. Help us Lord, you are our only hope. We don't know
what time it WAS when those prison doors were locked. But
an, hour there must have seemed like all day. Not very
encouraging to those new converts in the household of Lydia
or any others. But you can be SURE their PRAYERS were
going up. Now, I hate to leave these men in Jail, but we’ve got to take a break. See you at lesson # 38.

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