Acts 19 (Part 2 of 2)

Getting into the act of Acts…

Acts 19:13 (ERV) Some Jews also were traveling around forcing evil spirits out of people. The seven sons of Sceva, one of the leading priests, were doing this. These Jews tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus to make the evil spirits go out of people. They all said, “By the same Jesus that Paul talks about, I order you to come out!talks abut

that Paul talks about? It is quite obvious these people knew Paul but did not know who it was that “he talks about.” The POWER of the name of Jesus alone is strong enough in and of itself to proclaim victory over ills, evil, demons, without regard to who speaks it. However, this is not license. Go back to the first sentence in 19:13 above. The ESV calls these traveling Jews exorcists; King James identifies them as vagabond; ASV calls them “strolling Jews”. It matters little who or what they are called but it is obvious each realizes that the power in the name of whoever it was Paul talked about (Jesus)had supernatural abilities.

Here is the seriousness of using a name like Jesus to heal or cast out demons without the protection of the Holy Spirit. These folks who used this “in his name” power paid a severe price for misusing it. Recognize that when they did use the name of Jesus what was demanded in his name did occur. Now think about the very loose tongue of people today. If we curse someone in the name of God or Jesus, what might be the consequences on us? Possibly if not probably the same as happened in Paul’s time. The curse turned on the one using the power of the name of Jesus.

There were seven sons of a priest named Sceva. They were using this method to heal and cast out evil spirits. Verse 15 and 16 give us the consequences for doing so.

(ERV) 15: But one time an evil spirit said to these Jews, “I know Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” 16: Then the man who had the evil spirit inside him jumped on these Jews. He was much stronger than all of them. He beat them up and tore their clothes off.

This is not some type of a ghost experience. It is a physical encounter and consequence. They were beaten, bruised, injured, and left in shambles. If we curse someone in the name of God or Jesus, we walk the same dangerous path. The power of the name of God/Jesus exceeds our understanding but hopefully this article puts each reader on alert; sensitive to what such use of the Holy Name(s) can do.

fearFear engulfed the area as word spread about the attack on the 7 sons of Priest Sceva. We are not given their names so the emphasis of this passage is the consequence; not the who did it. Some if not most of the mystics in the area fell into the same fear of delving into the spiritual world for which they had little of NO understanding; knowledge but no understanding. This passage tells us that these magicians who practiced the dark cult and/or were using the name of Jesus to gain personal recognition brought their books, manuscripts and tools of their mystic arts to a huge fire. Read and listen to this…They in essence “burned the witch at the stake.” Hmmm?

The value of these evil books in today’s numbers would exceed 2 million dollars (v19: 50,000 silver coins). This is no small token. Gods’ message of his son’s salvation package spread like wild fire; (v20) “causing more and more people to believe.”

Acts 19:20 shifts gears once again. Paul has it in mind to go back to Jerusalem where his initial conversion began his trials and tribulations by the local Jews and synagogue leaders. Then he wishes to go from Jerusalem to Rome. The Lord had told him:

Acts 23:11b …Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.

Paul knew he was destined to go to Rome as the Lord told him so. But first he must go back to Jerusalem THEN go to Rome. Acts 20:23 witnesses to his hardships in advance of each one. There are two main items for one’s knowledge and understanding here.

  1. Acts 20:23 states that the “…Holy Spirit warns me [Paul] that prison and hardships are facing me.”
  2. for I will show him how much he [Paul] must suffer for My name’s sake.” (Acts 9:15-16)

This was nothing new to him even though he had been warned by others that to return to Jerusalem, the original center of his Sanhedrin and Jewish leadership issues would mean big problems for him personally. We won’t reference the multiple times he was warned by other believers and even the prophet *Agabus who used Paul’s belt to demonstrate what was ahead for Paul when he returned to Jerusalem. We find this in Acts 21:10,11. None the less, the Lord had told him he would go to Jerusalem first then to Rome. It took some rough experiences for it to unfold but unfold it did.

*Agabus is only mentioned by name twice in scripture. Acts 11:28 and 21:10

Dale Carnegie wrote a book titled “How To Win Friends and Influence People.” The Apostle Paul had a knack for not necessarily winning many friends but certainly knew how to influence people. Before he returned to Jerusalem he encountered a guy name Demetrius of Ephesus. Demetrius made good money making then selling idols and figurines of the Temple of the goddess Artemis. Paul was converting so many to THE WAY that he became alarmed about his livelihood. He organized a meeting of fellow idol makers. They had to stop this guy named Paul or they would be ruined. Part of Acts 19:26 states his case against Paul…

He [Demetrius] has convinced many people in Ephesus and all over Asia to change their religion. He says the gods that people [like us] make by hand are not real.

Demetrius goes on in the next verse: But there is also another problem. People will begin to think that the temple of the great goddess Artemis is not important. Her greatness will be destroyed. Paul greatly influence people from all walks of life. Paul in his determination wanted to confront these people but many with him restrained him. The mob had already snatched up many of those who traveled with Paul. But like walking into a crowd then beginning to star skyward, many will follow suit having no idea at what anyone is staring. Acts 19:22b says that most had no idea what the ruckus was all about; “Most of the people did not know why they had come there.” How common place do we see this within society today. Huge crowds gather, influenced by but a few, and soon, all are (symbolically) looking up at the sky even creating what it is they think they see… or breaking windows, burning cars, destroying properties hurting people and causing severe division. Sounds like the USA today. Right?clueless

It takes the city clerk in Ephesus to bring calm to the gathering. He points out that these men have not spoken anything against the goddess Artemus. We close this article by printing the rest of the chapter as self-identifying for even today.

Acts 19:36-41 (the city clerk is speaking to the crowd)

No one can deny this, so you should be quiet. You must stop and think before you do anything else.

“You brought these men here, but they have not said anything bad against our goddess. They have not stolen anything from her temple.

We have courts of law and there are judges. Do Demetrius and those men who work with him have a charge against anyone? They should go to the courts. Let them argue with each other there.

“Is there something else you want to talk about? Then come to the regular town meeting of the people. It can be decided there.

I say this because someone might see this trouble today and say we are rioting. We could not explain all this trouble, because there is no real reason for this meeting.”

After the city clerk said this, he told the people to go home.

Rev. Dr. Jstark

November 2018

PS; [personal prayer?] Lord forgive me for ever using your name to curse another. Even the thought of doing so is a sin but one you will forgive. It is only blasphemy of the Holy Spirit that has no pardon.

https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/beyond-forgiveness-blasphemy-against-the-spirit

Acts 19 (Part 1 or 2 articles)

“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

ephesus

Ephesus

This question posed by Paul to “some disciples in Ephesus” is a question often debated in seminaries and bible schools throughout the world as we know it today. “When Paul originally visited Ephesus, he promised the Jews in the synagogue that he would return, in the will of God. In fulfillment of that promise, he journeyed from the regions of Galatia and Phrygia along the inland route, over mountainous terrain to Ephesus on the western coast of [proconsular] Asia. Arriving there he met men who professed to be disciples. As he talked with them, he realized that their knowledge of the Christian faith was very imperfect and defective. He wondered if they had received the Holy Spirit” (Believer’s Bible Commentary).

Imperfect and Ephesus? Can there be such a thing regarding one’s faith? The short of this is a resounding YES! Not their salvation but their awareness and knowledge of a life in Christ being the same thing as a life in and with the Holy Spirit. If we refer back to our Learning Pyramid, these men of Ephesus were not even AWARE of such a thing as the Holy Spirit yet alone baptism in him. Consider our churches today that often preach social justice, political correctness, being a nice guy or gal, and/or following do’s and don’t s instead of Christ. Perhaps this is the life some consider as Christianity. Now for a resounding NO! Let’s quickly go to scripture before someone reading this article gets too concerned per this topic. We Teach – You Decide

I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding,” Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:15.we teach

We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves in this Article regarding Acts 19 but we must for the sake of those who may suddenly feel on shaky ground per this web site’s intent. In Acts 19:21 we read…Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to …” There is much more that can be referenced but the Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity. Just as we have body, mind and spirit, we were created in *HIS image (Genesis 1:26). The difference and not the intent or focus of this article is the fact that God can separate body (Jesus), mind (God the Father), and Spirit (Holy Spirit) because he is God. Sometime in each of our futures our spirit will separate itself from our body for it is appointed onto man once to die (Hebrews 9:27). We cannot WILL IT to leave and remain living.

*Genesis 1:23…”Let US (plural) create man in our IMAGE” (singular tense). US is plural but IMAGE is singular. We will leave it at that since our Bible School and ahabiblemoments.com website motto is We Teach – You decide.

baptixedActs 19:3 “Into what were you then baptized” asked Paul. They replied: John the Baptist. Paul asked into what but they understood it in their ignorance to be onto who. Paul was really asking to what are they now committed. It should be a new life in Christ and continual fellowship through the Holy Spirit. They simply did not understand, yet alone know of the Holy Spirit.

John the Baptist baptized new believers prior to the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is the fourth distinct time in Acts when the Holy Spirit is given after the fact.

  1. Acts 2, on the Day of Pentecost, primarily concerning the Jews.
  2. Acts 8, when the Spirit was given to the Samaritans through the laying on of the hands of Peter and John.
  3. Acts 10, at the household of the Gentile, Cornelius, in Joppa.
  4. Acts 19 per this article in Ephesus and the new believers.

and when they heard (akouō) they were baptized in the name of Jesus” (KJV). This Greek word for heard means according to Strong and Thayer… to understand; to learn by hearing; to give ear to instruction; to not be deaf to a new thing but hear with understanding. This has been written upon in previous articles so we will leave it at this point.

Now what does Paul do? He enters the local synagogue but this time he has opportunity to share Jesus for three months. Obviously he had the attention of most who attended the synagogue each week. However, Satan is not sitting back and also listening as in a positive manner. Three months into Paul’s monologues in the synagogue, some became irritated and restless. They “continued in their unbelief speaking evil of The Way” (Acts 19:9). This time Paul does something a bit different. He withdraws from the synagogue, took the believers with him to disciple them in the Hall of Tyrannus. The Hall of Tyrannus was a meeting place in Ephesus for philosophers and philosophies. Paul remained there for two more years.

Acts 19:10 is often missed, misread, or dismissed as too difficult to explain. The little word “all” in this verse is translated from the Greek word Pas; not hapas, It means “without exception, the whole, everyone, everything.” Today some will challenge the reality of using a word that means “without exception did all of Asia hear the word of Paul “ from Hall of Tyrannus. In today’s society we tend to look at the masses as unreachable due to their shear size or number. Recall that Paul was speaking and teaching in a society that was not the population or geographic size we might imagine today. However, with God all [pas] things are possible. The significance of this verse is that testimonies and teachings can also be relayed through others who are part of the same society.

Verse 10 is easier to understand when we include the next few verses. It reads that there was a special endowment given to Paul at this point in his ministry. “And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul,…” Extraordinary? What needs to be explained about this word. The YLT, a very good and close translation to original text. It reads: “mighty works not common” in or at the hands of others. Fact is, it was so powerful that others outside of Christianity began evoking the name of Jesus in efforts to have the same outcome. No wonder ALL (pas) heard the word. Word of such extraordinary miracles would spread over large areas just because what was happening was NOT COMMON.

What defines “not common?” Continue reading in Acts 19. Recall in the time of Jesus in Matthew 9:21? The woman believed if she could just touch the hem of his garment she would be healed.

Act 19:12 “…so that even unto the ailing were brought from his body handkerchiefs or aprons, and the sicknesses departed from them; the evil spirits also went forth from them.” (YLT).

There is a shift of sorts in this chapter at verse 12; certainly in verse 13. We will pick it up in our next article.. Acts 19 (Part 2 of 2). What happens when others try to implicate, duplicate, or replicate anything outside of God’s ordination and blessing but using his name or the name of Jesus?

Rev Dr. Jstark
November 2018

Acts 18

As a reader of this article have you ever wondered if God knows in advance who will and who won’t accept his son as Lord and Savior? We find a verse addressing this question in this chapter of Acts.

There are several key points in Acts 18:

  1. Paul taught and remains in Corinth for some time
  2. Paul goes to Antioch for the last time; takes a vow
  3. Paul meets Aquila and Priscilla from Italy
  4. Paul along with his new companions from Italy go to Ephesus
  5. Paul begins his third missionary journey beginning in Galatia and Phrygia.
  6. Apollos, like Paul, becomes a great spokesperson and testimony.
Back2future

Back to the future.

Background: Back to the future! In the future from this point of time, Israelis were expelled from many places. We know of 1492 when Columbus sailed the ocean blue, the Spanish and Catholic Church had begun the inquisition; 1492 – 1503. The inquisition was little more than an attempt to rid Spain of Judaism and establish the Catholic Church as the one and only religion. Prior to this they had been expelled from their homelands both the Northern Kingdom of Israel (720 B.C.) and the Southern Kingdom of Judah 116 years later. In 19 C.E. Tiberius expelled the Jews from Rome. Now according to Acts 18:2, Emperor Claudius expelled all Jews from Italy, that is Rome sometime during his reign, 41 B.C. And 54 B.C. Interesting, back In 139 BC the Jews were expelled after being accused of Judaizing among the local Gentiles.

The expulsion by Emperor Claudius is why Priscilla and Aquila leave Rome and finally meet Paul. They originally lived in Italy but were now homeless. Paul had just left Athens and went to Corinth. This is where he meets them. Aquila and Paul were both tradesmen in tent making. Paul provided for his financial needs using his trade skills. He remained with his new found Jewish friends working at tent making together, but Paul every Sabbath went to the synagogue to teach Christ and salvation through him.

Life’s best revelations flash upon us while we abide in the fields of duty. Keep to your daily bread winning and amid your toils you shall receive great benedictions and see glad visions. … The shop or office or warehouse may become as the house of God. Do thy work and do it diligently: In it, thou mayest find rare soul fellowships, as did Aquila and Priscilla. (a quote from an unknown author)

As soon as Silas and Timothy arrive from Macedonia (v5), they find Paul in another precarious situation. It must have been a deep issue with Paul for upon the arrival of his friends from Macedonia, he (v6) “…when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” From now on I will go to the gentiles? If Paul was at the synagogue when he was confronting these Jews or Israelis of Judaism, he had but a short walk ahead of him. His next stop was at the home of Titius Justus. He lived next door to the synagogue.

Something happens between verses 7 and 8 but we are not told. Paul goes from shaking his garment as dust on the earth over the Jews rejecting his message to somehow convincing the ruler of the synagogue, Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, to follow Jesus as the true Messiah. Paul continued to preach Christ, many of the gentiles (Greek Corinthians). Many accepted the gift of God being Jesus Christ and were baptized.

bunch ofpeopleThis is where our opening question gets answered. God tells Paul in his vision that ”I have many in this city who are my people.” The fact that Paul is to remain even after telling the Jews in verse 6 that he would now take his message to the gentiles, suggest that “this city having many of God’s people” indicates these are gentiles to which God calls the “many.”

In a vision Paul is assured by the Lord that no harm will come to him at this time and to continue in his message in Corinth. He stays another 18 months most likely reaching the “many” revealed to him in his vision.

Then a new proconsul of *Achaia named Gallio comes to town. The leadership of the synagogue see this as an opportunity to challenge Paul in front of the Roman tribunal and the new guy, Gallio.

*Achaia is the southern end of the Greek peninsula territory extending into the Mediterranean Sea between the Aegean and Ionian Sea. Athens and Corinth are two cities within the territory of Achaia.

The Jews bring Paul before the Tribunal leader, Gallio. He immediately rejects their claims of Roman laws being broken by Paul. This only agitates him. He is insulted that this matter is not of Roman law but of Jewish law and was even brought before him. Were the Jews despised by the Greek gentiles? Now with the support of an insulted Gallio who had the accusers physically removed from his council, the Greek gentiles jumped on the opportunity to possibly settle old scores They beat then ruler of the synagogue, Sosthenes while still in front of Gallio. Gallio paid no attention to Sosthenes’ beating as if it was deserving of him.

JIV NOTE: Sometime between verse Acts 18:8 and 18:12 -17, the ruler of the synagogue had changed from Crispus to Sosthenes.

Due to this event at the Tribunal of Gallio, Paul remained in Corinth teaching, preaching and establishing a church of believers. Acts 18:18 tells us that Paul, Aquila, and Priscilla, probably along with Luke, Timothy and Silas, set sail to Syria (Ephesus) where Paul will end his second missionary trip. Something odd happens in verse 18 and without explanation by Luke. There was a custom back then to shave one’s head if he takes a vow. Verse 18 states that Paul took a vow while in Cenchreae and in route to Ephesus; shaving his head. The mystery is the vow. Luke does not define it and no where else in the bible is it explained. A guess at this point would be speculation. The vow spoken of ever so briefly is just another in indication of Paul’s dedication and determination.

Do we need support or more evidence of how Paul thinks? In verse 19 when this group reaches Ephesus, Paul leaves the others behind but enters the synagogue there; alone.

Whoever asked Paul to stay in Acts 18:20, be it where he was housed, those at the local synagogue, a new church body or his traveling companions, Paul declined and left Ephesus by ship to Caesarea. A Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria (Egypt), came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Old Testament Scriptures.

History is once again a place to go to enhance one’s bible understanding. Alexandria is located in north-western Egypt built by Alexander the Great and named after him. He took thousands of Jews from the lands of Judah relocating them in Alexandria. It should be of no surprise that by now someone of the character of Apollos would come from there. What is somewhat of a surprise is that he was a devoted believer of The Way, well studied in the Old Testament but not The Way of God and Jesus Christ. He knew well of John the Baptist but needed tutoring in New Testament ways. This became the responsibility of Aquila and Priscilla. They took him under their wing of instruction.

He was a powerful orator and could stand well against anyone in the synagogue or among the Jewish leadership proving that Jesus was the Messiah using Old Testament scriptures. Next in chapter 19 we discuss the receiving of the Holy Spirit.

Rev Dr. Jstark
November, 2018

Acts 17

Act 17:1 Now when they [Paul, Silas, Luke, Timothy and others] had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a of the Jews.

Act 17:2 And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures… (ESV)

Following Paul’s stop at Philippi where there was NO SYNAGOGUE he comes to a place where there is one. As is his custom and as it states in verse two, Paul “went in.” For three consecutive Sabbaths he speaks to those in attendance. He “reasoned with them from the scriptures.” Here is a point we often miss. The ONLY scripture that existed at this time was the Old Testament. The New Testament had yet to be written.

Traditionally Thessalonica was founded in c. 316 BCE by the Macedonian general Cassander who named it after his wife Thessalonike, daughter of Philip II of Macedon. This means that Alexander the Great was his brother-in-law. This city was a gem. It went from a backward village to a prosperous and significant city-state under King Philip. Even though its armies were eventually defeated by the Romans, the city itself kept its prosperity. This is what Paul saw in his visit in Acts 17.

jesus messiah

Messiah

Paul points out in Acts 17:3 that “This Jesus I proclaim to you is the Christ.” The word Christ is a direct translation of the word meaning Messiah. The Thessalonians ruled by Rome at the time of Paul and worshiped Rome’s many gods including the Roman Emperor… Nero! Eventually these forces would clash.

JIV NOTE: Nero is the Roman Emperor who eventually had Paul beheaded and Peter crucified. Paul’s grave markers still exist to this day in Rome. (National Geographic)

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2006/12/news-st-paul-tomb-found-rome/

Acts 17:4 specifically states that a few Jews, many Gentiles and a great number of women in

Thessalonica accepted Jesus as The Way. But, as in every place the disciples, Apostles, and followers of Jesus went to share their faith, the Jewish leadership rejected them and often openly attacked them. This is again true in Thessalonica.

Paul, Luke, Silas, Timothy (and perhaps a few others) stayed at the house of Jason in this city. The Jews went to the back allies of Thessalonica to gather a (paid) mob to protest their presence in their city. They went to the house of Jason demanding he throw out these “Christ followers.” He refused so the paid mob of back alley thugs dragged Jason to the authorities. Their accusation? These men protected by Jason claimed that their was another king by the name of Jesus. In verse 17:10 we find the first mention of someone(s) providing bond for their release.

Immediately upon their bonded release, Paul and Silas (with others) were sent packing to Berea. One would think a lesson should be learned by now, but guess where Paul and Silas go upon entering Berea? The local synagogue. Acts 17:11 states that “these Jews were more noble. They received the Word with a degree of eagerness.” How eager? They examined the (O.T.) scriptures daily. Not for devotions but for evidence of the Christ, probably in passages like Isaiah. Having left Thessalonica behind did not mean the Jews from there had forgotten about Paul and Silas. They sent men there to agitate the people of Berea.

Paul, being the chief spokesperson for this missionary group was again spirited out of Berea to Athens but Silas and Timothy remained behind. Once Paul was in Athens he called for Silas and Timothy to join him. A good personal review of Athens and their culture would benefit anyone at this time but that is not the goal of this article. Athens was a city of many gods (idols) including one to the unknown god.

athens-Athens was a place of famous philosophers and speakers. There was a high place called the Areopagus upon which philosophies and philosophers were given center stage. People listened and questioned those given the platform. Great men of historical renown stood on this same place as now did Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke. Those present obviously did not know anything about this Jesus, crucifixion, resurrection and salvation. EVIDENCE? Acts 17:19 & 20 state: (ESV) And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.”

Here is when Paul points out that these people were very religious and open to understanding as they had an alter designated to the unknown god (17:23). Paul continues by explaining who God and Jesus are. They created all things and were master over all. But when he spoke of the resurrection of Jesus, some began to mock, but others wished to hear more of this “unknown God.”

So Paul went out from their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

Late night Bible Study

STUDY THE WORD for yourself!

JIV point of bible study: Whenever the bible identifies a proper name, place, or event it is there for a study reason. Dionysius, the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris. All others are left unnamed. The Holy Bible does not mince, mix or add words for the purpose of filling a page or chapter. The true student sees this then researches them to add to his or her understanding. Memorizing or even learning how to pronounce them adds little. Researching them adds to our understanding of each and every bible setting.

Rev Dr. Jstark – November 2018

Acts 16

Beaten up for Christ than asked by their torturers for forgiveness. This is the essence of Acts 16. Also, note the often used word “WE” in this chapter. This means that Luke was a part of this missionary journey of Paul and Silas as he uses the inclusive pronoun “WE.”dna

We also find and are introduced to the young Timothy in this chapter. He is the son of a Jewish woman and a Greek father. Usually the Jews of Judaism would see him as a Samaritan; one of mixed blood; often detested by pure DNA Jews of Israel. The half breeds are the ones who basically made up the the Samaritans but this discussion is reserved for another article.

This picture is of the Samaritans of today dressed in their traditional garb. They are half Israeli and half something else. There is much to explain how this works even in today’s attitudes of Israelis, most Jews of Judea back then and perhaps those of Israel today.

We will revisit this at a later time…knowledge first then understanding.

Young Timothy was renown for his gentle attitude and firm belief in God. He was a believer in The Way of Jesus Christ. For some reason not explained that well, Paul knowing the issues between Samaritans and the full blood Jews took Timothy and circumcised him as a young adult. This is usually something that is done on the 8th day after birth. Remember that his father was Greek, not Israeli. It most likely had something to do with keeping the fundamental Jews off his back and eventual ministry.

Acts 16:4 explains that the letter to which we referred to in our previous article on Acts 15 was in Paul and Silas’ possession. It regarded the idea of requiring circumcision for salvation. This is what is referred to as a hmm-moment in scripture. Guesses are speculative.

The next verse in Acts 16 Paul shares this good news from the council in Jerusalem that “no circumcision required” for salvation. They were sanctified in their faith. Then Acts 16 (Luke is author) states that “they added to their numbers daily.” This is not a measure of those attending church services but of those who became followers of Christ. There is a significant difference. To simply add to the rolls of membership is to unequally yoke unbelievers with believers. This makes for compromise and political correctness therefore an additional reason even original church groups establish denominations and conditional (building) church worship.

Paul in verse 6 wished to go to the area of Galatia but for some reason the Holy Spirit refused him. Another bible hmm-moment. This too we will discuss in a later article. The same is true in verse 7. Paul wished to go to Bithynia but again the Holy Spirit refused them.

The following verse states that “Paul then had a vision to go to Macedonia.” How do we respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit? Even though Paul wished to go to Galatia and then Bithynia he didn’t via the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Then in a vision the same Holy Spirit points him to Macedonia. On all three occasions the word “immediately” (v8) comes to mind. He and his colleagues didn’t sit back and debate the pros and cons. They didn’t question the Holy Spirit. They immediately responded to a “NOT” then to a “GO” (v8); no attempt to find excuses… [to not teach a SS class perhaps?]

In verse 12 we find Paul and company in Philippi, a city named by Alexander after his father, King Philip. This is about 400 years after this fact in history. What few recognize is this Philippi is a colony occupied mostly be retired Roman soldiers. The word for colony is kolōnia; i.e. Latin for “Roman colony for veterans.” Philippi was not a stronghold of Jews, priests, Pharisees, and dominated by a synagogue. It was a colony of retired Roman soldiers. This is why in the following verse Paul and his entourage sought a place to pray being that it was Sabbath and no synagogue.

They found a pleasant place by the river only to discover that a group of women also saw it as a pleasant place to gather. One of these women was Lydia, a dyer and seller of purple garments. This is the color of status in Roman culture. She was not from Philippi but Thyatira. Verse 15 tells us she had a house in the Philippi area. Today Thyatira is Akhisar, Turkey.

Lydia was a worshiper of the God of Israel but did not know or understand the salvation offered through Jesus Christ. She overheard Paul preaching or teaching, perhaps just sharing his testimony. She wanted to be baptized. She was and her “household” followed in this action. This suggests that in her household already existed God fearing believers.

Acts 16:16-18 we find that a fortunetelling slave-girl, without doubt demon influenced or possessed, loudly and persistently proclaimed that Paul and company were of “the most high God.” This went on for several days. Finally Paul turns to her and said to the evil spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” The evil spirit came out of her; no longer a fortuneteller. He owners were devastated as she was a profiteer for them.

Instead of being hauled before Jewish leaders in a Synagogue (as there was none in Philippi) her owners hauled Paul before the Roman magistrate. Verse 21 of Acts 16 has a deep message other than Paul being accused of doing good but not of Roman custom/tradition. We must add that verse 17 states that a crowd joined Paul’s accusers inaguringhim in front of the magistrate. Their fear of Rome was great so imagined and real violations may bring retribution upon them.

How often have we seen but do not recognize that when a church of today has become politically correct and fallen away from teaching depth bible studies, a voice such as Paul’s arouses some in their congregation. Others follow suite in attacking that voice spoken in truth? Then just as did the magistrates in this bible passage, church leaders show outrage over what? That someone stepped outside of their church/community service “customs and traditions.”

Paul and Silas were thrown into prison after being verbally and physically attacked. The jailer was ordered to “guard them with their lives.” Such was Roman conditions for guards. If they failed to guard their prisoners, they paid for it with their own lives. This is where we get the statement… GUARD IT WITH YOUR LIFE. That first night in prison and as Paul and Silas were singing praises to God and Jesus, an earthquake struck the area. Not just an earthquake but a “great earthquake.” The prison doors fell open and any prisoner could have walked out. As the jailor was about to take his own life knowing his consequence for a great escape would be death, Paul shouted out… “Do yourself no harm as we are all [hapas] here.”

This testimony of Paul and Silas now brought fruit for their labors. The jailer wanted what they had as they lead by example and continued praising God almighty. They didn’t try to flee through the open prison doors. The jailer pleaded on knees to Paul. Some may say his plea was out of gratitude for not escaping. Reading the text closely it was for spiritual reasons the guard appealed to Paul and Silas.

He washed their open wounds, fed them and accepted Jesus as his Savior, Lord and God, only then discovering that they were also Roman citizen by birth. The magistrate had violated Roman law. Again, fear of Rome came upon them. From this particular bible passage we can get the statement…”Do you know who we are?”

Paul did not let it rest as there are consequences. When the next morning the Roman leaders of Philippi determined no law was broken by Paul, Silas , Luke, etc, and that Paul was a Roman citizen, they order their immediate release. Paul refused to leave until the public also recognized their violation of human or Roman law. He required the accusers come, apologize and then escort them out of prison.

Rev Dr. Jstark

November, 2018