Summary: 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 coincidental that the first three conversions which take place at Philippi, come from those three despised categories.
“Three Portraits of Salvation In Philippi”
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 coincidental that the first three conversions which take place at Philippi, come from those three 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, some-what 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.
First, The Salvation of a Business 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. Accord-ing 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.
Paul in his vision saw a man of Macedonia calling for help. But when he got there he found a small group of women gathered by the river, and one of these become his first convert.
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. Here was a woman who was holding on every word Paul had to share about Jesus. Scripture says “the Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul” (v. 14).
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 her baptism and her provision of hospitality were outward evidence of the reality of her new found faith in God.
Second, The Salvation Of A Slave Girl. (16:16-28)
•Her Demonization. (vv. 16-18a)
“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…..”
The next convert is a slave girl that Luke says has “a spirit of divination”– commonly referred to as “demon-possessed.” Perhaps a word of explanation is warranted here because there is still a lot of confusion about “demon possession” within the ranks of Bible believing Christians. Some maintain that even Chris-tians can be possessed by a Demon. Let me try to explain why this cannot be true! Charles Ryrie defines the problem by saying “Demon possession means a demon residing in a person, exerting direct control and influence over that person, with certain derangement of mind and body. Demon possession is to be distinguished from demon influence and demon activity in relation to a person. The work of the demon in the latter is from the outside in demon possession it is from within. By this, a Christian cannot be possessed by a demon since he is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. However, a Christian can be the target of demonic activity to such an extent that he may give the appearance of demon possession.” [as quoted by Ron R. Ritchie. Do You Believe in the Devil. Unpublished data file. Palo Alto, Calif.: Discovery Publishing. - www. pbc.org/dp/Ritchie/4319.html). p.3. ]