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Acts 16:13-40

Paul had embarked from Antioch on a second missionary journey in the company of Silas, the prophet from
the assembly in Jerusalem. The initial goal of this mission was to tend to the brethren in every city in
which Paul and Barnabas had previously preached the gospel; to encourage them and strengthen them in
the faith.

Commended by the brethren at Antioch, Paul and Silas set out overland to the north, through the regions of
Syria and Cilicia, and then westward, into the province of Galatia, strengthening the churches along the
way. This would have included reading the letter from the assembly in Jerusalem which confirmed that
salvation was based on simply believing in Jesus alone – and not by being circumcised, or keeping the Law.

In Lystra, Paul met a young disciple named Timothy, who likely became a convert on Paul’s previous visit
there. Timothy had a good reputation among the brethren, and a comprehensive knowledge of the
Scriptures.

Paul recognized what an asset Timothy would be to their mission, particularly since he was half-Jew, half-
Gentile; he would be useful within both cultures. However, his usefulness among Jews would be limited
without circumcision, for they would view him as an apostate; so Paul had that attended to before they
continued their journey.

Where to go next required the Lord’s direction. The Spirit prohibited them from turning south into Asia,
and later from turning north into Bithynia; so they continued west until they reached Troas – right on the
Aegean Sea. There, they waited for further instructions from the Lord; and in the interim, met Luke, a
Gentile physician, who, either at that time or previously, had heard the gospel and believed it.

Finally, direction came in the form of a vision to Paul. They were to cross the Aegean, and bring the gospel
into the Roman Province of Macedonia – on the continent of Europe. Luke had thoroughly attached
himself to the missionary band by that time, and sailed with them as they continued their journey.

Upon reaching the port city of Neapolis, the party continued westward, traveling about nine miles inland,
through the mountains, until they reached the city of Philippi.

In our text (v. 12), Luke names Philippi as “the foremost city of that part of Macedonia”. This does not
mean that Philippi was the most cosmopolitan city; it was more of an agricultural than a commercial center.
Nor was it the provincial capital – that was the city of Thessalonica, where the Lord would next send Paul.

The foremost city simply means that Philippi was in the first of four districts of Macedonia, into which the
Romans had conveniently partitioned the province. Philippi was, however, a leading city of the province,
along with Thessalonica. And I think in the minds of its citizens, Philippi was the leading province of
Macedonia.

Philippi was awarded the status of a Roman colony in 42 BC for their part in siding with Octavian, who
later became the emperor Augustus. As a Roman colony, Philippi had autonomy from the provincial
government, and had the same rights granted to it as Rome, including the use of Roman law, exemption
from some taxes, Roman citizenship for its residents, and holding land in full ownership.

This was a source of great civic pride for the Philippians. They used Latin as their official language
(although the everyday spoken language was Greek); and they also adopted Roman customs, and modeled
their city government after that of Rome.
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Although Pisidian Antioch, Lystra, and Troas were also Roman colonies, Philippi was extremely
Romanized; it has been found that over 80% of its inscriptions are in Latin. As Philippi was a military base
as well as a Roman colony, many veterans of the Roman army settled there. Philippi was like a mini-Rome.

As a self-governing, independent Roman colony, then, Philippi had a lot of freedom. But was it really free?
No – all of its inhabitants were enslaved to the world system. That’s the system that the evil one has built
up on the face of God’s earth – a political, economic, religious system, designed to keep men in bondage to
sin and death.

The people of Philippi walked in accordance to the course of this world, in accordance to the evil one, the
prince of the power of the air, who worked through these sons of disobedience to promote his agenda on the
earth – to possess it (Eph 2:2, Is 14:14). They were captives of that world system, that lies under the
wicked one (1 Jn 5:19).

But Jesus had now come to Philippi. The Spirit of the Lord was upon the anointed members of His Body.
The Christ Ones would preach the gospel in Philippi, to those who were poor in spirit. They were sent to
heal those in Philippi whose hearts were broken by sin.

They would proclaim liberty, to those who were captives of this world system, and enlighten blind eyes to
the spiritual realities – so that they could see God. They would emancipate those who were oppressed by
the evil one – for this was the acceptable time that the Lord had determined for the prisoners of Philippi to
be set free (Is 49:8-9, 61:1-2; Luke 4:18-19).

So the seemingly insignificant band of missionaries arrived in Philippi, and as was Paul’s custom, waited
for the Sabbath day, intending to preach the gospel first to the Jews.

16:13 Apparently, there was no synagogue in Philippi. This indicates that Philippi had a very small
Jewish population at best. In order to form a synagogue, the Jewish religious authorities had established
that there must be at least ten Jewish men who were heads of their household. The fact that this worship
group was composed only of women suggests that there were not the required ten men.

Paul and his brethren must have learned of this group when they inquired about a synagogue in Philippi.
This worship group met at an established place of prayer. That is what the Greek word in verse 16
indicates, which in the NKJV is translated “prayer” – it means a place of prayer.

Places of prayer were erected by the Jews near the towns or cities in which they lived, particularly where
there were not enough Jewish families to form a synagogue. They were usually simple enclosures made of
stone, built in a grove or beneath a tree to protect from the weather, where people could gather to worship.

This particular place of prayer was by a river. The river closest to Philippi is the Gangites River, about a
mile to the west of town. Now, why would the place of prayer have been built so far from the city?
Because in places with no official synagogue, adherents of Judaism preferred to meet in what they
considered a ceremonially pure place, near water; also, the ritual washing of hands before prayer was a
standard amongst the Hellenist Jews.

So on the Sabbath, these women walked to their place of prayer – actually about a mile and a quarter
outside the city, making it more than a sabbath’s day journey away. That violated the oral traditions of
Judaism, but what could you do? You would be in violation if you didn’t meet; you would be in violation if
you didn’t purify yourself; you would be in violation if you walked too far to get there.
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Apparently, these women felt that meeting to worship God was more important than keeping one little rule.
So they met according to custom, for the appointed Jewish service of prayer for the Sabbath day. But I
wonder if they couldn’t help but remember breaking that rule, every time they made the journey.

Paul and his associates also made the journey to the river that Sabbath day. Now, Paul and Silas were born
Jews; Timothy was half-Jewish; and Luke was a Gentile. Which ones were in violation? None; Jesus had
long ago freed them from such thinking. Their wills were tucked in the will of their Lord – to share the
Good News with the people of Philippi, specifically the Jews first, to free them up from their religious
bondage.

Paul and the others found the group of women who met at the river; perhaps some were Jews, others
Gentile proselytes and God-fearers. They sat down with the women, and began to share about Jesus with
them. Now, that’s a violation of traditional Jewish protocol – men and women freely speaking to one
another, in a mixed group; men, teaching a group of women.

But it didn’t violate the Lord’s protocol; He recognized no such barriers, as He showed us while He was
here (Mt 9:20-22, Mt 15:21-28, Lk 7:36-50, Jn 4:1-26). And the women stayed right there and listened.
I’m sure these women were limited in their knowledge of the Scriptures, due to their circumstances.
Imagine how the eyes of their understanding got opened that day, under the trees!

v. 14 All the women listened to Paul and the other men with him; one is named in particular who heard.
That is not to say that others didn’t come to believe; but Luke was singling this one woman out for his
readers.

Her name was Lydia; a name with two distinct meanings. The first meaning is “to firebrand”. A firebrand
is a piece of burning wood; to firebrand means to stir up strife; an agitator, or even troublemaker. The
second meaning of the name Lydia is travailing, which speaks of a woman who is laboring in pain,
suffering, to give birth.

I think there might have been a little of both of these in Lydia. We are told that she originated in Thyatira,
which is back across the Aegean Sea, in Asia Minor – quite a distance away (about 250 miles; see map).
The name Thytira means “odor of affliction” – again emphasizing the idea of suffering, as we saw in
Lydia’s name.

Thyatira may well have had a Jewish community, for it was a place where citizenship had been granted to
Jews during the reign of Seleucus I. It may have been there that Lydia became a God-fearer or proselyte.
The term that is used to describe her, as one that “worshiped God”, means that she was not a Jew, but a
Gentile.

Lydia’s occupation was as a “seller of purple”. “Purple” refers to an extremely expensive dye that was used
to produce textiles of a purple color, worn only by royalty and the very wealthy, due to its costliness. Lydia
may have clothed kings, so to speak.

Thyatira was especially known for its purple cloth, which had a reputation for unsurpassed brilliancy and
permanence of color. Business men – and even women – from Thyatira regularly sold purple dye and cloth
in Macedonia. As the cloth was in high demand, and expensive, those in the business were often quite
prosperous.
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It is most likely that Lydia was a freedwoman – that is, a former slave. Traders in purple dye and cloth
were often freedwomen who continued to work as agents for their former masters’ business. Assuming this
is so, we can begin to see the significance of Lydia’s name – travailing – in her former occupation in
Thyatira – as one who was afflicted by the yoke of bondage.

But had that yoke been broken, when Lydia became a freedwoman? The physical enslavement had ended –
but Lydia was still a slave – of sin, of self.

It may be that Lydia was true to her other name, as well – she may have been one who liked to stir up the
pot. Perhaps that’s why her master had freed her for the work in Macedonia – maybe he could see that the
agitator in the workplace would develop into an aggressive businesswoman abroad. Macedonian women
had a well-earned reputation for their independence and enterprising spirit; I think Lydia fit right in.

Lydia was undoubtedly the picture of success. But hers must have been a lonely life – as an outsider, a
foreigner. And the spiritual yoke remained.

So the restless Lydia sought solace in the religion she knew. She found others in the city – women such as
herself – who were seeking fulfillment, seeking peace – seeking God. Lydia didn’t find God in Judaism,
but she kept practicing its routines, hoping. Really, she had just chosen another kind of bondage to put
herself under. The freedwoman still wasn’t free.

To the best of her ability, Lydia had drawn near to God; and now, He drew near to her (Ja 4:8). As Lydia
listened to the words of the ones that God had sent, the Lord opened her heart with the tender words of His
gospel – with the truth of Jesus, that would set her free. And immediately, Lydia embraced this Good News
that it seemed she had been waiting for her whole life. The slave was free.

v. 15 The implication here is that Lydia came to this religious service with those of her household – most
likely, her servants. As no men are mentioned, it is likely these were also women. These others believed as
Lydia did, and all were baptized right there and then – the river being conveniently near. The water
baptism was a public testimony, witnessing to what had happened in these believing hearts – that Jesus had
washed away their sin – a true cleansing.

Lydia’s statement here gives us a little bit of insight into her personality. The “if” in verse 15 can also be
translated “since” – “Since you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord”. Paul and his brethren showed
that they judged Lydia to have true faith in Jesus in that they baptized her in His name. Lydia was saying
that, since she was now a believer, she wanted the men to use her house as the base for their ministry,
during their time in Philippi.

Now, as mentioned, Lydia had done well for herself in her business as a seller of purple, and most likely
had a spacious house. This is supported by the fact that the church in Philippi met there, at least initially,
which we will see at the end of this chapter (v. 40).

Notice the verbs that Luke records. She begged them – she beseeched, entreated them. She persuaded
them – she pressed them, compelled them. This businesswoman would not take “no” for an answer! But
the answer was a resounding “yes”; the Lord was surely delighted to have Paul and his group take Lydia up
on her offer.

So the former firebrand was now on fire for the Lord; the travail was complete, and had resulted in a new
birth. The King gave Lydia, a seller of purple, a glistening white robe of righteousness. And the Lord had
His first convert in Europe through these missionaries.
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Now, there was another who considered Europe to be his territory. The evil one would not quickly concede
any ground – without a fight. But Satan did not begin with an open attack – far from it; instead, he made
his presence known through a herald who proclaimed the messengers of Christ – and their message.

v. 16-18 We have the sense here that Paul and the other men with him continued to attend the place of
prayer, perhaps on consecutive Sabbaths. A slave girl began to follow the group.

This girl was possessed with a spirit of divination – literally in the Greek, a python spirit. This expression
comes from Greek mythology, and speaks of a serpent or dragon that supposedly guarded the Oracle at
Delphi. Apollo was said to have slain this great Python, by which action he was titled the Pythian Apollo,
the god of divination. His priestess was called a pythoness.

When the priestess was said to become inspired by this Python – possessed by it - she gave responses to
inquirers which were regarded as the oracles of the god. This slave girl was said to be possessed by this
spirit – a python spirit – and it was thought to give her the ability to tell the future.

The reality was that this spirit was a demon spirit, to which the girl had somehow opened up her mind.
This demon gave her the ability to soothsay, or tell fortunes – undoubtedly putting out the thinking of the
father of lies. Such an ability – to foretell the future – is always in demand by men in this world, seeking to
control their destinies. But there is only One who is in control of men’s destinies – God.

The owners of this slave girl had exploited her, taking advantage of her possessed state to make easy money
by using the fortune-telling ability that the demon worked through her. The girl was like a pawn, used by
both Satan and men to further their gains in this world. But with God, people are never pawns; they are
precious souls, of such great value that God sent His Son to die for them. Here was another captive in need
of liberty.

Well, this little captive was tailing the group closely, and as she did so, she would loudly announce to
anyone within earshot that these men were the servants of the Most High God – and that they proclaimed to
us the way of salvation – terms both Jews and pagans would comprehend.

Were these things true? Yes, they certainly were – in every respect. Was the girl freely proclaiming this
herself – or was the demon influencing her mind, to declare it? Well, does a person normally follow others
around, repeatedly declaring who they are and what message they’ve come to share? No; that’s not normal,
is it? So we can assume that this was the work of the demon within her.

So why would the demon be proclaiming the Lord’s messengers? And their message, which would free
men from bondage to Satan’s system? Because the demon knew that these servants of the Most High God
had access to the power of Jesus, by whom the demon could be cast out.

When Jesus was on the earth, demons who possessed men were also recorded to have proclaimed Him – as
the Holy One of God (Mk 1:24), and the Son of God (Mt 8:29); and it was clear that they feared Him, and
that He would cast them out – which He did. That was the fear of this demon. So instead of opposing the
missionaries, the demon attempted to befriend them – as a false friend, of course.

But there can be no alliance between that awful power that holds the world captive and Him who is its
Deliverer. Wearied and grieved by the continual clamoring of the demon, Paul commanded the demon, in
the name of Jesus, to come out of the girl.
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The demon, for all his power, had no power to resist the power of that Name; and he was cast out, leaving
the girl at that very moment. What a release for this poor girl – to possess her right mind again! And
having received that Name, she received the One who possessed it; to never be possessed by another again,
for she was now in the safekeeping of Jesus (Jn 10:28).

The slave girl’s freedom from demon-possession brought with it another freedom – for now that the girl
could no longer tell fortunes, so she was of no profit to her masters; they could no longer exploit her in that
way. What we see next is that the freedom of the slave girl will result in the loss of freedom for the servants
of the Most High God.

v. 19-21 Paul had totally ruined this lucrative business of exploitation-for-gain, this gem of the world
system; so now, in furious retaliation, the girl’s masters sought to destroy Paul, and all he sought to do in
Philippi. They lay hold of Paul and Silas, and forcibly brought them before the magistrates in the
marketplace, where assemblies and public trials were held. A crowd had gathered, attracted to the
commotion.

You may wonder why only Paul and Silas were seized, when Luke and Timothy were also with them
(“we”, v. 16; “us”, v. 17). Well, the girl’s masters went after those whom they perceived to be the leaders,
who they believed to be Jews: Paul, and Silas. It is likely that Timothy and Luke were judged to be
Gentiles by their appearance.

The masters of the slave girl targeted the Jews specifically, because they could see a way of bringing
charges against them, as Jews. It is known that about this time, the emperor Claudius issued an order
expelling the Jews from Rome (Acts 18:2), so anti-Jewish sentiment was running high.

The city magistrates in a Roman colony were frequently two officers in the Roman army. These men acted
as civil judges for any offenses within their jurisdiction. They had complete autonomy from the provincial
government to rule in accordance with Roman law.

The masters of the slave girl accused Paul and Silas of trying to teaching customs – meaning religious rites
– to Roman citizens. Roman citizens were not to engage in any foreign religion that had not been
sanctioned by the state. And specifically, Jews were not supposed to make converts of Roman citizens.

Now Philippians were Macedonian citizens, but as a Roman colony, they considered themselves honorary
Roman citizens. You can see how this was a very convenient charge to lay upon these missionaries; one
that would stick. And apparently, with the anti-Jewish sentiment afoot, it resonated with the crowd.

v. 22-24 As a mob, the people attacked Paul and Silas. And then things went from bad to worse. Instead
of trying to control the situation, the magistrates joined the fray, stripping Paul and Silas, and ordering them
to be beaten by their attendants, who customarily carried rods tied together, which were used to inflict
punishing blows. There was no investigation of the charges, no hearing, no chance given for Paul and Silas
to defend themselves. It was against every standard of Roman justice.

Now, Jews were restricted by their Law from inflicting more than 40 blows as judicial punishment for a
crime; but no such law existed among the Romans. This is what Paul may have later been referring to
when he said, “in stripes above measure” (2 Cor 11:23) – that is, beyond the usual measure among the
Jews. Who knows how many blows they had to endure, how long this scourging went on, before the fury of
the mob was spent.
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The magistrates then had Paul and Silas hauled off to prison, relinquishing them into the jurisdiction of the
jailer, with orders to secure the prisoners. The jailer, likely a veteran of the Roman army, did so to the best
of his ability; he put Paul and Silas in the most secure part of the prison – the deepest interior – and as
double insurance, put their feet in stocks.

Now, the stocks back then were not the kind you think of in early Americana. These were beams that
forced the legs apart as far as possible in one cramped position. This was Philippi’s treatment of the
servants of the Most High God, who had come to Philippi for Love’s sake to proclaim to them the way of
salvation.

v. 25 Amazing – what Jesus can do for us. Their bodies were in agony – but their spirits were in ecstasy.
For all of the humiliation, for all the injustice, for all the suffering that they had endured on earth, their
spirits were soaring in the heavenlies. In prayer, they had entered into the presence of God, where they
could not but sing hymns of praise to Him.

The hymns of the Jews were the psalms. Imagine what they would have been singing of – the praises – the
foretellings of Messiah, found in the psalms. The other prisoners were all listening. Surely they were
incredulous, having heard of what happened to these men earlier in the day. Surely they marveled, to hear
of Whom they sang. In that dark prison, song after song rang forth, giving Light.

Along with the singing, Paul and Silas were also praying. What would they have been praying? It’s likely
that they were praying for the Lord to sustain them through this painful trial; but it is certain that they were
also praying for the Lord to prepare hearts in that prison to receive the word of God. It is certain, because
the Lord answered their prayers – with an earthquake – that shook one particular Philippian to the core of
his being.

v. 26-28 So God answered the faith and courage of His servants’ prayers in a most remarkable, startling
way – with an earthquake. But this was no ordinary earthquake. Did you ever hear of a great earthquake
that leaves a big building intact but opens all the doors, and makes chains fall off hands and legs? The hand
of the Lord was in this earthquake; it was a supernatural intervention.

Now, all pagans regarded an earthquake as an ominous sign of the presence of divinity. An earthquake was
regarded by them as an omen of the anger of the gods; but to the Jews, it was seen as a symbol of the
presence of God. Paul and Silas, freed from their bonds by the earthquake, were reassured of the Lord’s
presence; but the jailer, awakened from sleep by the earthquake, would think he had angered the gods.

The first thing the jailer felt was the earthquake, rousing him from sleep; but the first thing he saw were the
open doors of the prison. He immediately concluded that the prisoners had escaped.

As you probably remember, if a Roman soldier lost his prisoners, he had to take their punishment himself –
which for most everything was death. Rather that die an ignominious death, this jailer chose the path of
duty and discipline, for a Roman soldier. He followed the only honorable course he knew – which was
suicide. Drawing his short sword, he held it to his heart, ready to hasten his end.

But the Lord would not allow it; the jailer’s hand was arrested by a voice from the darkness within.
Through Paul, the Lord reassured the jailer, and drew away the sword from his heart. The Lord loved that
jailer – enough to let His servants suffer much in order to bring him the Good News that he so desperately
needed to hear.
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Paul reassured the jailer that the prisoners were all still there; there was no need for the jailer to do himself
harm. How did Paul know that the jailer was about to kill himself? It was unlikely Paul could see such a
thing in the dark, from the depths of the interior of the prison; the jailer would have been outside the prison,
guarding it. But the Lord could show Paul what was happening, and prompt his statement. The jailer then
called for torches – to shed some light on the situation.

v. 29-32 Did the jailer run in to check on the prisoners? No – the same God who had the power to open
doors could keep prisoners inside. No, the jailer had just one thing on his mind.

You see, when this jailer put that sword to his heart, he came face-to-face with eternity – and there, he saw
God. In that Light, the jailer saw his own wickedness and sin – and that left him without any assurance that
he would be saved, in eternity. Rightly so - for he was lost.

The jailer had recognized the power of God in the earthquake; and that God had delivered the two men
whom he himself had so securely imprisoned in his jail. He knew that the two men stood accused of
teaching about some foreign religion to the people of Philippi. Surely, he had also heard of the miraculous
healing of the demon-possessed girl – the one who had declared these men were teaching the way to
salvation. Now God had vindicated these men, and their message, by freeing them.

The jailer must have surmised that same God had omnisciently seen that he was about to kill himself with
his sword; and had stayed his hand through the voice of Paul. This God cared about him, even though the
jailer didn’t know Him. This God would do him no harm, but good.

The jailer suddenly realized that Paul and Silas weren’t the prisoners, he was – for they knew this God, and
He had saved them; while the jailer was still lost.

And so that was his question to Paul and Silas: What must he do, to be saved? He wanted this God of
salvation for himself. He was on his knees, as if before the Lord Jesus Himself: a humbled, convicted
sinner.

The simple answer came: Believe. Not in a creed, a religion – but a person – the Lord Jesus. Believe on
Him; entrust Him with your life; depend on Him completely. That’s what he must do: Believe in the One
who is mighty to save him. And the offer was extended to his household, as well – his family, his servants.

In verse 34, the Greek clause “brought them into his house” speaks of bringing them “up”; this implies that
the house of the jailer was an upper floor of the jail. This would mean that the household of the jailer was
present on the premises.

It was therefore a simple matter for the jailer to go rouse his household, so that all could hear the word of
the Lord that Paul and Silas were about to share with them. We learn in verse 34 that the jailer and all of
his household believed into the Lord Jesus, each one recognizing Him to be the Savior that they so needed
– every one.

v. 33-34 You can just see the transformation of this war-hardened Roman jailer. He is a changed man.
Before, he had secured these severely beaten men in his prison in the most inhumane manner; but now, he
washed their wounds with great kindness and tenderness. He didn’t even see their suffering before; now he
ministers to them to alleviate it.

Meanwhile, Paul and Silas took the jailer and his family and baptized them. This presumably would have
taken place in the courtyard of the prison, at a well.
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In this exchange of water, we see a lovely picture. The jailer washed the stripes of Paul and Silas, by which
they had entered into the fellowship of their Lord’s sufferings. And Paul and Silas washed the jailer and his
household from sin, through the preaching of the gospel; by which the jailer and his household were
crucified with their Lord, to be saved in His Life (Gal 2:20).

Finally, the jailer prepared food for Paul and Silas. He could not do enough for the men who brought him
the best news he ever heard – at the most critical moment of his life. The jailer had been a prisoner of the
political system of this world – a severe system that left him with no escape from death; but the mercy of
God had provided him with a way of salvation – in Jesus, His Lord and Savior.

And what of the other prisoners? Luke does not say. We can assume that any that responded to the gospel
were free – whether they were back in physical bonds, or not. But the prisoners of this world system remain
in bonds, the doors shut, knowing nothing but the sadness and darkness of prison life.

The next day, the attendants of the magistrates came to the prison.

v. 35-37 The magistrates no doubt considered that the beating and imprisonment to be adequate
punishment in order to teach these Jews a lesson; so now they planned to throw them out of town, which
the attendants communicated to the jailer, and he to Paul.

But Paul would have none of it. He let the attendants know that he and Silas were Roman citizens. As
such, it had been illegal not to verify the charges; illegal to beat them; and illegal to lock them up without
formal charges. In addition, all had been done publicly, tainting their character within the community; it
needed to be set right publicly, by those who had been responsible for the wrongdoing - the magistrates
themselves.

v. 38-40 Tromping on the rights of a Roman citizen was no small matter. The magistrates were really
terrified when they heard of the situation, because such a dreadful miscarriage of justice could easily cost
them their jobs, if it was known – maybe worse. The magistrates, who had abused their power in the
system, were still bound to the system; and they rushed to the prison to try to make amends.

I’m sure the magistrates pleaded with Paul and Silas not to squeal on them. When they brought them out of
prison, there was undoubtedly a public apology made; then the magistrates quietly asked the missionaries
to depart from Philippi; they could not expel Roman citizens without a charge against them.

Now, you may ask, why didn’t Paul and Silas tell them that they were Roman citizens when they were first
taken? If the authorities were responsive now, they would have been then, and Paul and Silas could have
avoided a beating and a stay in the city jail.

The only rational explanation for why they didn’t do so is because the Lord must have told them not to say
anything. Why? Did the Lord want them to suffer? Not without reason – so what was the reason? The
Philippian jailer – and the countless others who have come to the Lord, based on his story.

Note that Paul was not seeking to vindicate himself by what he said to the magistrates. He wanted to clear
the name of Jesus – that His representatives had broken no law, were guilty of no wrongdoing. Also,
setting the record straight would be important for the protection of the new believers Paul would be leaving
behind. The authorities would be more inclined to investigate matters, and not make rash assumptions
based on their prejudices.
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It is remarkable that Paul and Silas came back to Lydia’s house, where the brethren were already beginning
to meet; and that it was Paul and Silas who encouraged the brethren, before departing – not the other way
around. Why would Paul and Silas need encouraging? The Lord had already encouraged them – with the
Philippian jailer, and all of his house.

We know from Luke’s account that Luke stayed behind with the believers in Philippi, to strengthen that
fledgling assembly, while Paul, Silas and Timothy departed, and made their way toward Thessalonica.

In Philippi, Jesus had indeed set the prisoners free from the world system in which they were bound.
Lydia, the seller of purple, had been freed of the yoke of religious legalism, to have a relationship with
God. The slave girl had been freed of a demonic spirit, and to become a servant of the Most High God; and
the Roman jailer had been freed from death to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.

And their freedom would be contagious; this was just the beginning of the glorious liberty that was to be
had through the gospel in Philippi.