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.

Christ’s Church – Part 1

Ephesians 2:19-22

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Psalm 118:22 – The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.

Acts 4:10-12 – let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.  This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’  Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

The church is the only thing Christ called His.  He borrowed a manger, a coin, a book, a boat, a donkey, and a tomb.  But He called the church, “My church.”

Jesus is the chief corner stone of the church.  Many lively stones are in the building, though some act like tombstones instead of lively stones.  You are a strategic stone.  God wants to use you in His building process. 

Absolutely no force will prevent the building of the church.  The message to you is that Christ’s church is alive and well, for it is filled with eternal life!  Isaiah states “No weapon formed against you shall prosper.”   If the “you” in that verse is part of the church…then no weapon formed against the church will prosper either.

We cannot remodel the world. 

No man-made rhetoric can revive it.

No political pronouncement can restore it.

No educational enlightenment can redeem it. 

The world’s problem is a spiritual problem of the greatest magnitude; therefore, only a spiritual solution of the greatest magnitude will save it.

While we are called as Christians to do what we can to make this world a better place to live and many social and political programs are commendable, these activities alone will not change the heart of man.  

The greatest good the church can do is to do what Christ intended for His church to do:

                        Take the bread of life to a hungry world!

                        Give the Water of Life to a thirsty world!

                        Carry the Healing Message to hurting people!         

                        USE YOUR P.H.D. (PREACH, HEAL, DELIVER)     

Politics and social life have invaded our pulpits.  Major ministries have reversed to a political and social pulpit.  They talk more about the president than the Prince of Peace, more about senators than the Savior, more about governors than God, more about the White House than about the house not made with hands.

Politicians promise to remodel this world.  They promise, they grandstand, they kiss babies, they make back-room deals, and do anything for a photo op or a vote.  Men who promise to make this world a better place to live based on their own abilities alone will never accomplish remodeling the world.  The world is reproducing the same sinful corruption of Noah’s day, Lot’s day, of Sodom and Gomorrah’s day.

Timothy 3:1 states “In the last days perilous times will come.”

God wants us to build His church rather.  Christ said, “I will”—not maybe, not perhaps—but “I willbuild my church.”  Christ has a plan for building His church and you can be a part of that divine plan. 

HOW MANY OF YOU WANT TO BE IN ON BUILDING CHRIST’S CHURCH?

We must be a Team!  It is amazing what people can do when they work together for a common goal.  Genesis 11:6 tells the story of a people who aspired to build a tower to the heavens.  When God looked down upon the handiwork, He said, “Behold, the people are one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.” 

                        They had one language—they all spoke the same thing.

                        They had one purpose—building the tower of Babel.

                        They were one—together in unity.

The result was that God said of them, “Nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.”  There would be nothing they could not do. 

WOW!  Wouldn’t it be great if the church were like that—what could we not do?

The early church was in unity – in one accord.   At one point over 3,000 had been saved, another time over 5,000, another time the descriptive word was multitudes had been added to the church.

They had the opportunity for unlimited results.  God said they could do whatever “they have imagined to do.”  The final result of their unity would be beyond imagination.

Together we can build a church – not a tower to the heavens—not a tower of Babel built on carnality and personal objectives, but a tower of spiritual, Holy Spirit-anointed achievements reaching into the harvest, impacting the world, doing exploits that defy imagination because we are united as one.  In this unity of purpose and determination, there will be no confusion of tongues, no superstars, but just godly men and women who want to make a difference, who want their lives to count. 

DO YOU WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE?  DO YOU WANT YOUR LIFE TO COUNT?

We can do beyond anything we have ever imagined if we are one, speaking the same language, and focusing on the same mission.  We must not settle for just the survival mode or the comfort zone.  We must reach others for Jesus.  We will not be satisfied until lives and families are changed.  Let us go forth and make a difference.  What we need in our churches is for everyone to get pregnant with the love and word of God and begin having babies…spiritual babies.  In other words, get busy producing baby Christians.  Quit trying to come up with all the reasons why you cannot be a soul winner for Christ.  Get up and do something for the Lord.