The Church at Philippi

Acts 16:6-40

Philippi was the gateway to Europe.  Named after Philip of Macedonia, Alexander the Great’s father, Philippi lay on the great Roman road, the Egnatian Way.  This road connected Europe from Asia, the West from the East. 

It was a proud Roman colony.  Veteran Roman soldiers ready to retire were granted citizenship if they would go out and settle colonies.  As these colonies proved loyal to Rome, they were granted the title of a Roman Colony.  Their citizens were Roman citizens.  They kept the Roman language, customs, and dress. 

Philippi’s strategic location on the Egnatian Way made it an excellent place for a church.  Travelers passed through the city from both Asia and Europe and from here the gospel could be carried throughout the known world. 

The church at Philippi was founded on Paul’s second missionary journey.  It was here that the gospel first entered Europe.  The church began with three important conversions:  (1) Lydia, an important and successful business woman, with her household; (2) a slave girl set free from a demon possession; (3) the jailer and his entire household. 

This church was made up primarily of Gentile believers.  They appear to have had a very close and loving relationship with Paul, and they were strong supporters of his ministry (see Introduction to Philippians).

Leadership of the Holy Spirit

  • The Holy Spirit forbid Paul to preach in Asia.  (This was not the continent of Asia, as we know it today.  This was the Roman province of Asia which is what is now known as Turkey.)
  • The Holy Spirit would not allow them to preach in Bithynia.  (Look at a map in your Bible.  God stopped Paul from proceeding directly west.  When he tried to go north, God said no.  The only direction left in that location was to go to the city of Troas.)
  • The Holy Spirit directed Paul through a dream.  John 14:16-17; John 14:26; John 16:13

How does the Spirit direct us? 

  • Through supernatural knowledge – Acts 5:1-11
  • Through angels – Acts 8:26
  • Through visions – Acts 9:1-8
  • Through dreams – Acts 9:9-16
  • Through prophecy – Acts 11:27-30
  • Through a word from the Holy Spirit – Acts 13:2
  • Through God’s Word – 2 Timothy 3:16

NOTE:  We must never let a closed door stop us from doing what God has called us to do.  God, who sees the future as if it were the past, knows what doors should be open, what doors should be closed.  Part of learning to trust Him is to accept the doors that are closed, and be obedient while you wait for Him to open the doors that He has for you.  Recognize that Paul was not given a reason why the doors were shut.  Perhaps he never knew.  It was enough that God had closed the doors.  Paul trusted Him to lead and direct him in the right way. 

Unity in Leadership

  • Paul shared this vision with his companions, Silas, Timothy and Luke.  (Note the use of the word “we” beginning here.  Luke, the doctor and writer of Acts, joined Paul at this point.  It appears he remained with Paul until Paul left Philippi (Acts 17:1).  Apparently Luke stayed in Philippi and reunited with Paul when Paul returned to Philippi (Acts 20:5).
  • They concluded that God had called the team to preach the gospel in Macedonia.

1 John 4:1 – Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

1 Thessalonians 5:21 – Test all things; hold fast what is good.

Worship on the Sabbath

  • There was no Jewish synagogue
  • There were only women present
  • NOTE: Jewish law required a minimum of ten men to have a service.  Obviously, there must have been a small Jewish population here.  The missionaries were not too good or too important to share the gospel with a group of Gentile women (the word used for “worshipped” in verse 10 is the word used for a Jewish proselyte).  Although there was no synagogue or church in the area, the men found a group of people praying and seeking God. 

Receiving the Gospel

  • Lydia worshipped God
  • God “opened” her heart.  Romans 12:2; Psalm 51:10; Titus 3:5; Ephesians 2:8-9
  • She led her household to the Lord.  Genesis 18:19; Deuteronomy 6:5-9; Deuteronomy 11:19;  Joshua 24:15; Luke 8:38-39; John 1:41; Ephesians 6:4
  • She opened her home for the ministry of God’s Word.   Romans 12:13; Titus 1:8; 1 Peter 4:9

Slave Girl with Spirit of  Divination Or ESP

  • Testimony of slave girl was a true testimony – these men were the servants of the most high God.  Satan always mixes a little truth with his deception. 
  • Her testimony was not one of true confession – a true confession is to acknowledge Jesus as “Lord” and to follow him.
  • ESP, Witchcraft, fortune-telling are not a part of God’s will for the Christian.  Galatians 5:19-21; Leviticus 19:31; 2 Kings 17:17; 1 Chronicles 10:13;  Matthew 24:24

Power of Jesus’ Name

  • Paul addressed the evil spirit in the girl – not the girl herself.
  • Paul relied on the power of Jesus’ name – not his own power.
  • The evil spirit had to obey – the power of Jesus’ name is greater than that of the devil. 

No one is too far gone into sin that God cannot redeem them.

Luke 19:10; Hebrews 7:25.

Greed and Love of Money

  • Owners lost their top money maker.
  • Money and greed corrupted the public officials.