Summary: Compares the salvation of Lydia, the possessed slave girl and the Philippian jailer.

A Study of the Book of Acts

Sermon # 29


Acts 16:11-40

Every morning and every evening the head of a Jewish household would pray, giving thanks that God had not created him “a Gentile, a woman or a slave.” It hardly seems coin-cidental that the first three conversions which take place at Philippi, come from those despised categories. Paul himself, writing under divine inspiration, would later write, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

Immediately following the “Macedonian vision” of verse nine, this band of missionaries sailed directly to the Island of Samothrace, and then on to Neapolis, the port city of Philippi, which was some ten miles inland.

Verse eleven says, “Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and the next day came to Neapolis, (12) and from there to Philippi, which is the foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony. And we were staying in that city for some days.”

It seems that God favored their expedition for the journey the phrase they “sailed straight for Samothrace” was a nautical term that meant the wind was at their backs. The winds were so favorable that they sailed the 156 miles in two days,it took five days on the return trip (20:6).[R. Kent Hughes. Acts: The Church Afire. ( Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1996.) p. 211]

Philippi was considered a colony of Rome, somewhat in the same way that Hawaii and Alaska are considered states of the U.S.A. Although separated geographically from the mainland people who live there live under the same laws and have the same privileges and are considered citizens of the U.S. So it was with Philippi it inhabitants were considered citizens of Rome with all the same rights and privileges.

The Salvation of a Cultured Woman 16:13-15

“And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the river-side, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there.”

When Paul and his companion arrived in Philippi, they discovered that there was no synagogue. According to Jewish tradition ten male heads of households were necessary before a synagogue could be formed. If those requirements could not be met the faithful were to meet under the open sky near a river or the sea. So Paul, Timothy, Silas and Luke went to the riverside on the Sabbath there they discovered a small group, all women.

Verse fourteen begins, “ Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. (15) And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” So she persuaded us.”

One of the women listening to Paul was named Lydia, a rich God-fearing Gentile woman from the city of Thyatira in Asia. Scripture says “the Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.” Here was a woman who as holding on every word Paul had to share about Jesus.

Lydia the Gentile woman became the first believer in Europe. The opening of Lydia’s heart resulted in the opening of her home. Her profession of faith resulting in baptism and her provision of hospitality were outward evidence of her new found faith in God.

The Salvation of a Possessed Slave Girl 16:16-28

“Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. (17) This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” (18) And this she did for many days…..”

One day while they were on their way to prayer a slave -girl began to follow them. When it says she was “possessed with a spirit of divination,” it means she was demon possessed or demonized. Today we would say that she was a medium or a psychic, but she was possessed by a demon who used her as a channel to convey clairvoyant messages, interpreting the events of the day and predicting the future for people. She would follow the missionary team shouting, “these men are the servants tof the most high god who proclaim the way of salvation.” What she said was true as far as it went. She was saying that they were declaring “the way of salvation.” But in the original language there is no definite article here. She was saying that they were declaring “a” way not “the” way. Even today there are many who are willing to call the gospel “a ” way of salvation, but are unwilling to concede that it is “the” way – the “only” way of salvation!

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Rick Marsters

commented on Sep 11, 2006

I appreciate every Pastor's input, insight, and instructions, when it comes to interpreting the Word. I am doing studies in Acts,and thought the writer was going to do an indepth correlation with the 3 converts. Nevertheless, I commend the Brother for his sharing his informed work.

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