Power in Philippi
Power in Philppi
Power in Philppi
Acts 15:36–41 (ESV)
36 And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.”
37 Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark.
38 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work.
39 And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus,
40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.
41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
On The Road Again
Paul and Barnabas agree that it is time to go back and visit the churches that had been established through their ministry.
However, a disagreement is made over who should join them on their journey.
Remember back in Acts 13:13 when John Mark departed from the missionary journey.
Well that past hurt is coming back to inflict some more damage.
We don’t know why Mark left the first Journey.
Maybe he was homesick.
Maybe he was actually sick.
Maybe he was resentful of Paul’s leadership.
Maybe he wasn’t comfortable with the Gentiles coming to worship the living God.
Regardless of the reason, Paul felt abandoned. Paul felt deserted. Paul didn’t feel that John Mark should be a part of the new journey.
So these godly men had a sharp disagreement.
It should be comforting for us to know that we don’t have to agree with one another all the time.
It should be even more comforting to know that even in our disagreements God makes good come out of them.
Paul and Barnabas will now go on two separate journeys.
They will head in tow separate directions.
There will now be two missionary teams where there was only one.
The churches will all be reached, strengthened, and encouraged.
The Gospel will now reach new and further destinations b/c of this disagreement.
This conflict was used by God to further the mission of God for the glory of God.
I am not saying that we should be seeking conflict.
I am not saying that we should be avoiding conflict either.
When doing ministry together conflict will be inevitable.
B/c we are human.
We can be selfish.
We can be blinded.
But even in our blinded selfishness, God will overcome.
I want you to also notice that Luke doesn’t place blame on either party.
He doesn’t tell us if Paul is right or if Barnabas is right.
Because its not about who is right and who is wrong.
Ultimately it is about who is being reached for the glory of God.
Barnabas travels down to Cyprus and Paul Travels west to the churches he had helped plant.
I want you to see something here in the Apostle Paul.
He has a great love and devotion for the church.
He Loves God’s people.
He seeks out every opportunity to strengthen the church.
Too often I have heard people say that they don’t like the church.
Or they Love God but don’t like organized religion.
Or that they can worship God in nature why do they have to come to church.
Basically, they don’t want to carve out the time to be with God’s people.
Here’s the thing.
Church isn’t a building.
The Church is a people.
And if you don’t love being with God’s people either:
You aren’t getting to know them as you should. You’re not spending the time and energy it takes to know and love the people of God. OR
You don’t love God like you say you do.
God loves his people. And if you belong to him. He lives in you.
So you should love the same things he loves. Primarily in this instance, His people.
If you have been coming to this church and just observing or being passive. It’s time for you to demonstrate your love for God and his people by serving and participating in the church life.
We should love gathering together.
We should love singing together.
We should love learning together.
We should love eating together.
We should love simply being together.
The relationships built within the Body of Christ should be the most important, deepest, encouraging, and uplifting relationships in our lives.
We grow stronger when we grow together.
So, Barnabas has gone his own way to minister the gospel.
So, Paul chooses to bring with him Silas to minister to the churches, but Paul’s ministry gang isn’t done growing.
Let’s take a look at:
1 Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. 2 He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.
On the Road Again
On the Journey, back to Derbe and Lystra they pick up a disciple named Timothy.
If you turn toward the back of your New Testament. There are two books written to Timothy.
Paul adores Timothy. Timothy is not only a disciple of Christ, but he is mentored by Paul.
Paul writes in 1 Cor 4:17 and 1 Tim 1:2 that Timothy is like his own child. His own son.
Timothy is listed as a co-sender in six other letters.
We get a couple of descriptions about Timothy.
First, we see in v. 2 that he was well spoken of by other believers.
These believers spanned a 20 mile area and they all loved Timothy.
Even outside of his hometown he was thought highly of.
He had an impact on people everywhere he went.
His love and devotion to Jesus was written on his actions and character.
Secondly, we read that his mom was a Jewish believer and his father was Greek.
The way this is written about his father can read that he had died or was simply a non-believer.
This is important b/c in Jewish Culture if a Jewish Mother had a child by a non-Jewish Man that birth was seen as illegitimate.
And Timothy would have been considered Jewish by his birthright to a Jewish mother.
Yet he was devoted to Jesus.
Paul does something that may confuse us a little bit.
He circumcised Timothy. Not only does it confuse us, but can you imagine the conversation that would have had to be made between Paul and Timothy.
Paul, “I want you to come with me to minister to people”
Tim, “Sure, Sounds like fun.”
Paul, “Maybe…there might be some stoning, beatings, and imprisonments.”
Tim, “It’s for the gospel, right?”
Tim, “Okay, then lets get going.”
Paul, “One last thing before we go…come with me. You have to be circumcised.”
You may be thinking, Josh you spent 40 minutes last week talking about the fact that Gentiles don’t have to be circumcised to be believers and followers of Christ.
I would say yes, you were listening and that gladdens my heart.
Gentiles don’t have to partake in circumcision.
But Timothy wasn’t a Gentile. Timothy was a Jew
So in order to not cause any stumbling blocks for the Jewish people they would encounter, Paul circumcises Timothy.
In 1 Cor. 9:22-23, Paul writes these words:
I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
Timothy’s status would have been viewed as an apostate Jew.
He wouldn’t have been allowed in the synagogues.
He wouldn’t have been allowed to mingle with other Jewish people.
Timothy’s circumcision was not so that he could or would be saved.
It was simply b/c it would open the door to ministry.
In fact, on their travels to the previous churches they were reading the edict given by the Jerusalem council that Gentiles did not have to follow the law to be saved.
What happened after the decision was revealed to them?
The church was strengthened and increased in numbers.
They weren’t under the weight of the law.
They were tied to the a real relationship with other believers.
They were no longer outsiders. But fellow heirs in the kingdom of God.
Paul, Silas, and Timothy were now going to continue on their mission, but they were going to be supernaturally guided.
6 And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8 So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
On the Road Again
The group was on their way. They had a destination in mind.
They were on the road, but 3 times they were now guided to where they were meant to go and not where they wanted to go.
They wanted to go north. The HS said no.
Then they wanted to go south. The Spirit of Jesus said no.
Then the God gave Paul a vision to visit Macedonia.
We don’t know the details of how or why they were moved away from ministering in Asia.
Luke doesn’t tell us, but we do see something fascinating happening in these verses.
We see the Trinity working in Tri-Unity to accomplish their mission.
V.6 the HS said “No”
V. 7 the Spirit of Jesus says “No”
V.10 God the father said “Go here instead.”
The triune God of the scriptures is always working together to accomplish his mission.
It is in Texts like this where we get our doctrine of the trinity.
Were we see the Godhead working toward moving his mission where he wants it to go.
Knowing this we have to also recognize that when God guides it won’t always be in a vision.
It won’t always be written on the walls.
It won’t always be as clear as day.
I heard on preacher put it this way.
But God works through both closed doors and open doors.
Through our circumstances and our rationality.
Sometimes we have to look at a situation and observe the reality.
We have to use the minds God has given us to make decisions.
We can’t only lean on our feelings. We have to also balance them with thought and reason.
On theologian put it this way, “God’s no is as important as God’s go.”
Here’s what is about to happen.
The gospel is going to be preached on European soil for the first time.
We can’t overlook the importance of this event.
Europe becomes one of the largest sending continents for the entirety of Christian History.
The gospel message is about to be proclaimed to the end of the earth.
People are going to hear the good news of the gospel.
They are going to see the power of God on display.
We are going to look at 3 different vignettes of God’s power in Europe.
We will see his Salvation power to open the heart of Lydia.
We will see his Power over evil.
We will see his power of deliverance.
All of this power will be on full display.
11 So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. 13 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.
Power on Display-Open Heart
On their journey they make it to Philippi.
The city is Roman to the core.
One commentator called it “The Rome away from Rome.”
There wasn’t a large Jewish Population there because we read that there is no synagogue.
In fact, according to Jewish law and custom if there were 10 Jewish Men in a city or town there had to be a synagogue.
But here we see that there is no synagogue.
But that didn’t mean that there were any worshippers of God.
On the sabbath some of the God fearers gathered at the river to worship and cleanse themselves.
The Text speaks to one of these in particular.
Lydia. She is a business woman from Thyatira.
We read that she is a seller of purple goods.
What does this mean to us?
This means that she was a really good business woman.
Purple was the color of royalty.
She was wealthy.
Some Christians believe that if you want to be close to God you have to live in poverty.
Or even if they don’t think you have to live in poverty that you can’t be wealthy.
Through God’s divine providence some people are wealthy and some people are not.
Wealth is not a bad word. Wealth is not a bad thing to have.
Wealth can be a blessing if you use it to glorify and magnify God.
We need wealthy people focused on God.
We need wealthy people contributing to the mission of God.
We need wealthy people to give to the local church.
Wealth isn’t the problem. The problem occurs when wealth or money becomes our focus.
God can use the wealthy and the poor. He can use all people submitted to his mission.
Regardless of your socio-economic status, rich or poor, God does want us to be generous.
God does want us to recognize that it isn’t ours to begin with.
God does want us to worship him through generosity.
And after God captivates Lydia’s heart.
After he draws her to himself.
After his power open her heart to the message of Jesus.
She demonstrates generosity and hospitality.
She invites these roaming missionaries to stay in her home.
Paul writes the letter to the Philippians in large part due to a financial gift he recieved from them while traveling. Phil 4:15-18
It is likely that Lydia was one of the primary contributors to Paul as he preached the gospel.
One of the ways we can tell where our alliances lie is where we spend our money.
I’ve heard is said that you can tell where someone’s treasure is if you looked at their checkbook. (I guess now it would be their online banking statement)
I am not saying that you must sell it all and give it to the church.
But God does want us to be a generous people.
We are generous b/c God has been generous toward us.
When God opens our heart he will change our affections.
He will change our desires.
He will guide us into a generous life.
That’s what he did with Lydia.
That’s what he will do for you as well.
Not only do we see God power displayed when he opened Lydia’s heart, but in the next section we are going to see God’s power over Evil.
16 As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” 18 And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. 19 But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. 20 And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. 21 They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.” 22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
Power on Display-Over Evil
Here we read about a girl in bondage to an evil spirit.
We read about the reality of a spiritual realm.
Where the demons even know that God is the God most high.
Not only was this girl enslaved by an evil spirit she was enslaved by her owners.
She was seen as a means of financial gain.
They were using her to
She was simply a pawn for both the demon and for her owners.
After many days of following Paul and his crew around, he rebuked her spirit.
Through the power of Jesus’ name, she was liberated.
She was set free from bondage.
She was released from the evil that was inside of her.
Her mystical powers were no longer valid and it enraged her masters.
They lost their way of gaining income.
So they dragged Paul and Silas to the rulers of the town.
They accused them of preaching unlawfully to the town.
They were accused of proselytizing Roman citizens.
More so they were accused of disrupting the town. Disturbing the city.
So the magistrates take them, have them beaten, and throw them in jail.
The text tells us that they put them in the inner prison.
I want you to think dungeon.
The heart of the prison.
They had to travel through 2 other areas to get into this place.
When they got there they were shackled by both their hands and feet.
God isn’t finished displaying his power in Philippi.
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God. 35 But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, “Let those men go.” 36 And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Therefore come out now and go in peace.” 37 But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out.” 38 The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens. 39 So they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city. 40 So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed.
Power on Display-Broken Chains
There is a lot that is going on in this text, but the first thing I want you to see is the reaction to their imprisonment.
What do Paul and Silas do when they are thrown into prison?
They start praying and singing hymns.
Not only that, but the other prisoners were listening to them as they sing and pray.
Regardless of their circumstance, Paul and Silas find their solace in the mighty hand of God.
If you are suffering for the Sake of Christ it is never an improper response to praise him.
People watch you.
People see you.
If you claim to be a Christian they want to see the way you react when things don’t go the way you planned.
When things aren’t hunky-dory.
When things are bad.
They see you. They hear you.
Your response will sometimes influence those who don’t know Christ to do some investigation.
I’m not staying there won’t be pain. I’m not saying it won’t be difficult.
I am saying that the way you respond to the pain and difficulty is a witness to others.
I am saying that the way you choose whether to worship or blame will influence others.
They are watching you.
There was a sudden earthquake and the doors opened and the chains were unfastened, but no one left.
The jailor didn’t know that.
He thought for sure everyone escaped.
The penalty for escaped prisoners was death.
So rather than die at the hands of the government.
He decided to take his own life, but Paul was waiting in the wings.
He saw what was about to happen and he stopped the man before he plunged the sword into his body.
The jailor then asked the most important question a person can ask.
“What must I do to be saved?”
He knew why they were in jail.
He heard them sing and pray.
He witnessed the power of God on full display and he wanted to know how he could be saved.
Paul responds, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”
So how are we saved?
Believe in Jesus as Lord.
Faith and trust in his salvation.
Repent, turn around, from your sins and turn toward Jesus.
They preached the gospel to the whole family.
Then in an act of service to Paul and Silas, he cleans their wounds.
He demonstrates the change of heart that happened when he gave his life to Jesus.
Then he is baptized.
Now if you were paying attention to this passage with both Lydia and the Jailer there was some interesting language used.
These are what some refer to as the household belief passages.
This has caused some issues for some people when it comes to belief.
Lydia believes and her whole household is baptized.
The Jailer believes and his whole family is baptized.
Some will conclude that these passages allow for infant baptism.
Here’s the thing we have to do some Biblical Theology for a second.
When we look at these passages we have to look at the whole of the book of Acts as well as the rest of the new testament.
What we see when we do that is that through Acts and the rest of the NT baptism is always followed by belief.
So we can infer from these passages that through the confession of Jesus as Lord these households were baptized.
They weren’t baptized on the basis of Lydia’s or the Jailer's belief but on their individual belief.
The next morning the magistrates decide to let Paul and Silas go.
They aren’t charged with breaking the law.
But this enrages Paul.
They weren’t given a fair trial.
They weren’t allowed to fight for their innocence.
So Paul demands that they receive an apology for their wrongful incarceration and beating.
He lets them know that they are Roman citizens.
This is important b/c if he appeals to the higher powers of the Roman Government that he a Roman citizen was wrongly punished Philippi could lose its status as a Roman province.
So why didn’t Paul mention this at his “trial?”
We don’t really know, but my best estimation was that he wanted a trump card to hold over the Philippian government.
He wanted the church in Philippi to be free to worship without being hassled by the officials in town.
So his imprisonment and beating were used as leverage to strengthen the church in Philippi.
So what does this all mean for us today?
We can understand that God is still in control
God is still in power.
God doesn’t leave his people.
That in every circumstance, event, and trouble we face God is with us.
He will never leave us nor forsake us.
We also need to recognize that God is still at work.
He is at work in our community.
He is at work in our church.
He is at work in our country.
God never stops.
If you are here today and you haven’t felt the power of God in your life
You haven’t seen the hand of God transform you from being in bondage to sin to being alive in him I pray that you will cry out to him today.
I pray that you will recognize your need for a savior.
If you are a follower of Christ, I pray that today you will continue to trust him regardless of the circumstance in life.
I pray that you will continue to do the work that he has set before you.
I pray that you will communicate the good news of the gospel to those who are perishing.
If there are people around you that don’t know the goodness of God and his gracious love they need to hear it.
They need to hear it from you.
You are the one God has put there to tell them.
Are you going to trust and obey him today?