Paul’s Ministry in Philippi
Paul took three missionary journeys during his ministry career. On his second missionary journey, Paul planted a church in Philippi. Philippi was a wealthy Roman colony that was inhabited primarily by retired military and political figures that were given land by the Roman government. It was a mid-sized city with very little Jewish influence. We might compare it to Celina or Southlake, Texas in its demographics.
Three Significant Events
The call to Philippi- Acts 16:6-10.
Paul and his mission team traveled from town-to-town teaching and encouraging the believers that had been converted from his first missionary journey. They also led many people to Christ in those towns. They could not go South because of the Mediterranean Sea, so they tried to go East into Asia, but Holy Spirit kept closing the door to go East. Next, Paul tried to travel North into Bithynia, but again Holy Spirit would not allow them to go North. After Holy Spirit denied Paul from going East or North, Paul had a dream that the people from the West (Macedonia) were asking Paul and his team to come and minister among them. God wanted Paul to expand the Kingdom of God into Europe. After the vision, they immediately left for Philippi.
The lesson for us: expand your vision. Christianity had been an Eastern religion until God pushed Paul into Philippi. Paul could not imagine Christianity spreading to Europe; his vision was limited by the borders of middle Asia. God helped Paul open his eyes to Christianity as a world religion. Examine your life.
- What is God’s purpose for your life?
- In what ways have you placed self-limiting boundaries around you that keep you from fulfilling God’s bigger purpose for your life?
- How have these limitations held you back?
- What will you do to break free from the limiting boundaries that hold you back?
Two Leading Ladies- Acts 16:11-18.
Lydia was a Gentile who had Jewish beliefs. She was a wealthy business owner who knew God and worshipped God by the river (there was no synagogue). Paul met her by the river and shared the gospel with her. God opened her heart. She believed and was baptized. She became a leader in the church in Philippi.
The demonic girl was filled with an evil spirit. Through the evil spirit, she knew the true identity of Paul and his team. She followed them around everywhere they went and prophesied about their purpose. She was a distraction to the work of God in Philippi, so Paul cast the evil spirit out of her. He did not want her testimony and presence to be associated with Christianity.
The lesson for us: don’t ignore the spirit realm. Lydia came to Christ because the Lord opened her heart. The demonic girl housed an evil spirit who could tell the future and recognized the authentic work of God. Notice that the evil spirit had the capacity to speak the truth as well as lies. We must recognize that the spirit world is real, powerful, and where our spiritual battles are fought and won. Satan would love for us to deny or ignore the supernatural realm. That would give him free reign in our spiritual realm.
- What are some of the tactics Satan uses in spiritual warfare? (Hint: Opposite of love)
- What are the tools we are given to fight and win the battle against the evil one? (Ephesians 6)
- Think about how you are using faith, love, and patience to defeat the enemy?
Prison ministry- Acts 16:19-40.
The men who owned the slave girl were very upset when Paul destroyed their business, so they had Paul and Silas arrested. They were severely beaten and thrown into prison. They were placed in the inner prison where the worst criminals were kept, and their feet were placed in stocks. The stocks were a form of punishment designed to spread their legs so wide they would get severe leg cramps.
They praised God and prayed through their suffering while the other prisoners listened. At midnight God sent an earthquake that opened all the cell doors to the prison. The jailer was held personally responsible by the Roman government for the prisoners under his care, so he would have been killed by the government if the prisoners escaped. The jailer’s first response to the incident was to commit suicide instead of being tortured and killed. Paul stopped the jailer from committing suicide and kept all the prisoners from escaping. The result was that everyone saw the power of God. The jailer and his entire family gave their lives to Christ. Paul informed the officials that he was a Roman citizen. Therefore, Paul and Silas were released from prison, and the church was established.
The lesson for us: put your struggles in perspective. The church in Philippi started and became strong based on the suffering of Paul and Silas. They rejoiced in their struggles, God released His power, people saw the mighty hand of God, and many people came to Christ and started the Christian church in Europe.
When we minister and live out our faith, we should expect to receive resistance and even be persecuted as a result. The power of God is most powerfully seen by the world when Christians respond to persecution with grace and a Kingdom perspective.
- What is the Biblical response to suffering? (Matthew 5:44)
- How does God redeem suffering for His glory? (1 Corinthians 15:21-26)
- When has God done this in your life? (Ephesians 1:4, 11; 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Peter 1:19-20)
Heavenly Father, I believe that Jesus understands precisely what I’m going through because He experienced that same temptation when He walked on this earth. He knows how to help me walk in love and forgiveness. Jesus has been where I am. He has felt what I feel. He has already overcome the temptations that have been planned against me. Therefore, I hold fast to my victory in Him. Because of Jesus’ ministry as He walked on this earth, He understands the emotions, frustrations, and temptations that I face in life. There is no need for me to feel embarrassed or ashamed to go to the Savior. And because of His blood and by the power of His Name, I am more than a conqueror through Him! I run to my Savior and find the grace needed to help in my time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
In Jesus’ Name! Amen
EMIC Groups Pastor