January 13th, 2007
The book of Acts is only 16 chapters old, and already we have had three visits to prison, and several more arrests, trials, heated debates, floggings and stonings. It seems that Paul and some of the other disciples had quite a talent for stirring up heated opposition, and today Paul and Silas found themselves whipped extensively and then thrown back inside to do some time as a result of a riot which had boiled over after they had cast a demonic spirit out of a slave girl who then lost her ability to tell fortunes and make money for her owners.
The Acts of the Apostles — Chapter 16
16:1 He came to Derbe and Lystra. A disciple there was named Timothy, whose mother was a Jewish believer while his father was a Greek. 16:2 The brothers who were at Lystra and Iconium spoke well about him. 16:3 Paul wanted him to join them, and in deference to the Jews in the region he circumcised him, because they all knew that his father was a Greek. 16:4 As they continued on their journey through the cities, they delivered the decisions of the apostles and elders from Jerusalem for them to follow. 16:5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily.
16:6 They travelled through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, but were prevented by the Holy Spirit from speaking the message in Asia. 16:7 When they arrived opposite Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not allow them. 16:8 Passing by Mysia, they arrived at Troas. 16:9 A vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia was pleading with him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 16:10 After he had seen the vision, we at once set out for Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the Good News to them. 16:11 So we set sail from Troas, and made a straight course to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, 16:12 and from there to Philippi, which is a Roman colony and the foremost city in the district of Macedonia. We stayed in this city for several days.
16:13 On the Sabbath day we went out of the city gate to a river, where we thought there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered. 16:14 One woman who heard us was named Lydia, a seller of purple who worshipped God, from the city of Thyatira. The Lord opened her heart to listen to the things which were said by Paul. 16:15 When she and her household were baptized, she said, “If you consider that I am faithful to the Lord, come and stay in my house.” So she persuaded us.
16:16 As we were going to prayer we encountered a girl who was possessed by a spirit which foretold the future. Her masters made a lot of money through her fortune telling. 16:17 She followed Paul and us and shouted, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are teaching us a way of salvation!” 16:18 She did this for numerous days. Paul became annoyed, and turned to say to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” It came out that very hour. 16:19 But when her masters saw that their hopes of wealth had gone, they seized Paul and Silas, and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. 16:20 When they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are stirring trouble in our city 16:21 by imposing practices which are illegal for us as Romans to accept or to follow.”
16:22 The crowd rose up against them, and the magistrates tore their clothes off them, and ordered them to be beaten with rods. 16:23 After whipping them extensively, they threw them into prison, telling the jailer to keep them under maximum security. 16:24 When he received this command he threw them into the inner prison and secured their feet in the stocks.
16:25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 16:26 Suddenly there was a huge earthquake, and the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were loosened. 16:27 The jailer was woken out of his sleep. Seeing the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, thinking that the prisoners had escaped. 16:28 But Paul shouted out, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here.”
16:29 He called for lights and rushed in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 16:30 He brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 16:31 They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 16:32 They told him and all who were in his house the message of the Lord. 16:33 He took them the same hour of the night, and washed their wounds, and was immediately baptized, he and all his household. 16:34 He brought them into his house, and put food before them, and rejoiced greatly with all his household, now that he believed in God.
16:35 When day came, the magistrates sent the police, saying, “Let those men go.” 16:36 The jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent the police to let you go, so you can come out and go in peace.” 16:37 But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly, without a trial. We are Roman citizens, and and they have cast us into prison! Do they now want to release us secretly? Certainly not! Let them come themselves and bring us out!”
16:38 The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens. 16:39 They came to apologise and escorted them out of prison, then asked them to leave the city. 16:40 They left the prison, and went to Lydia’s house. When they had seen the brothers and encouraged them, they left.
Entry Filed under: Courage