The Book of Acts (Part 27)

The Book of Acts (Chapter 16:1-40) (Part 27)

There was no doubt that the Apostle Paul was a strong leader among the apostles and all of the assemblies. He was not “a one man band” but always worked in partnership with other apostles and pastors and elders. Even though he had doctrinal oversight in the assemblies he founded or was ministering in he would also recognize potential leaders and seek to train them and develop their calling and gifting. This is one of the biblical functions of a true leader. Paul understood this principle very clearly. In this chapter we see Paul add a new member to his fellow workers in the person of young Timothy. He would prove to be an outstanding young man and even though rather timid he was faithful in his pastoral work in years to come. For Timothy it would be “on the job training.” Much later in his life Paul would write to Timothy; “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). And so we read…

(Vs.1-3)  “Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. And a disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek, and he was well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted this man to go with him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.”

Timothy was a Godly young man who has been brought up in the faith and acquainted with scripture from infancy (2 Timothy 3:15). He was not a second generation Christian in name only but a genuine believer in the Lord Jesus.  His mother and grandmother had a living faith in God that had been passed on down to young Timothy. As Paul would later write to Timothy; “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well” ( 1 Timothy 1:5). We must never underestimate the faith of a Godly mother or Grandmother that can be brought to bear on a young child. As it is written; “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

While Paul recognised that outward circumcision in itself availed nothing, spiritually speaking, he did realise that in order to reach Jews that he needed to have Timothy circumcised so that there would be no stumbling block when trying to reach other Jews. Timothy’s father was a Greek and well known in the area and most probably was not circumcised and had not had Timothy circumcised. Timothy’s father was possibly an unbeliever or even a proselyte (a Gentile convert to Judaism) but we are not told. However Timothy was well known and well-spoken of by his fellow believers as his spirituality had not gone unnoticed among the assemblies at Lystra and Iconium. So Paul took Timothy on his first missionary trip.

(Vs.4-5)  “Now while they were passing through the cities, they were delivering the decrees which had been decided upon by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem, for them to observe. So the churches were being strengthened in the faith, and were increasing in number daily.”

As Paul, Silas and Timothy passed through the cities they spoke to the Gentile believers in the local assembles about what the Apostles and elders in Jerusalem had decided they should do as Gentiles, the Holy Spirit having shown them at Jerusalem what was required of the Gentile believers. The Holy Spirit was at work strengthening the assemblies in their faith and winning people to faith in the Lord Jesus. When the Holy Spirit is at work in the local assembly people will be saved and added to the fellowship regularly and daily in some cases as they were after Pentecost. If the local assembly is in tune with the Holy Spirit and empowered by Him them they will be preaching and witnessing in the Holy Spirit and people will be won to faith in Jesus. They will not need the Purpose Driven Life, the Alpha course or seeker friendly programmes if they are in tune with the Holy Spirit and empowered by Him.

The reason the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost was to empower believers to witness and to work for the Lord Jesus in evangelism and discipleship. When the local assembly is not empowered by the Holy Spirit they usually revert to human methods, plans and programmes to try to get “bums on seats” as it were. They may have one programme or another about growing churches and even get many into the fellowship but unless the Holy Spirit does the work there will not be real and genuine spiritual growth. One of the reasons the mega-churches in the seeker friendly bunch are successful is because they tell people what they want to hear by appealing to their felt needs and approach sinners in a seeker friendly manner. If they really preached the Gospel as revealed in the Bible then they may have less members but have a more solid fellowship spiritually who are committed first and foremost to Biblical truth itself and not to programmes and man-made and marketing strategies for church growth.

(Vs.6-8)  “They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas.”

In any ministry or missionary endeavour we undertake for the Lord Jesus it is vitally important that we listen to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to guide us in the work. Now He speaks to us primarily through the Word of God today but there is also the still small voice that speaks to our minds and hearts. God had a strategy and plan of evangelism and discipleship already mapped out for Paul and his companions. It was not God’s time to send them into Asia or to Bithynia. These regions may have been on Paul’s radar but not on the Holy Spirit’s radar. They had come to a place where they needed to hear from the Holy Spirit what they were to do next. Undoubtedly they were praying in the Holy Spirit and without ceasing and waiting on the Lord to show them the next step of their journey. Sometimes we do need to cease activity and to reassess our strategy as God may change it. What worked last time may not work this time as long as the gospel message itself does not change or is compromised.

Waiting on the Lord Jesus does not mean you sit around and drink coffee and eat doughnuts or even watch sports on television. When the people in Israel were moving through the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land they would only move when the Pillar of cloud moved.  The pillar of cloud represented the Holy Spirit who leads God’s people. When He stopped they stopped and when He moved they moved. God is never too early but also never too late. The last thing He wanted was to see the LORD’s servants sitting and waiting as He has a great task set for them but needed them to be still before God so that He could speak to them. You see the Holy Spirit is more willing to speak to us than we are to listen at times. In the end his strategy is always the best! His method of operation in one assembly may be different in another assembly but the end result is the saving of sinners and the sanctifying of saints.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the mission field in Asia was not yet ripe. Sometimes the Holy Spirit needs to prepare people to hear and to receive the gospel. Sometimes we may hear the call, know the field we are to go to and have a desire to go and to start our work but the door does not open. It is not necessarily that we are not ready but that the people we are going to are not ready. God’s timing is perfect. One thing that is always encouraging is what the Lord Jesus said to the Church at Philadelphia; “What He (Jesus) opens, no one will shut; and what He shuts no one will open” (Revelation 3:8). If we are called, gifted and have a desire to go but the door has not yet opened we can be sure of two things, either we are not yet ready or the mission field we are going to is not ready.

When the Lord Jesus does open the door no demon or man can stop what God will do even though there will be conflict and adversity and discouragement. Because the Lord Jesus has finally opened the door then nothing will stop His will from being accomplished in and through our lives. As He has promised; “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11). He is always watching over His Word to perform it (Jeremiah 1:12).

(Vs.9-13)  “A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. So putting out to sea from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and on the day following to Neapolis; and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia, a Roman colony; and we were staying in this city for some days. And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled.”

God’ strategy for evangelism may be to reach thousands through preaching or to reach one or two personally. In this matter it is important that we are led moment by moment by the Holy Spirit. We saw this in Phillip who had been down in Samaria preaching and seeing the Word of God confirmed with signs following. The crowds were gathered around but Phillip wasn’t into the big crowd syndrome but was so in tune with the Holy Spirit that he went down to the desert to speak to a solitary black man about the good news of the Lord Jesus. This man went on his way rejoicing and the whole of Ethiopia and ultimately the African continent would be open to the gospel. This man was an important court official and would have had great influence.

Well Paul and his companions did not have to wait long. This time the Lord Jesus spoke to Paul through a vision. It was consistently clear that the Lord Jesus was sending Paul to the Gentiles with the gospel (Romans 11:13) (Galatians 2:8). At first Paul and his companions most probably walked around the streets of the city everyday observing how people were living. Sometimes this is necessary to pick up the customs of the city. The Holy Spirit sometimes will delay things just long enough to show us His strategy. While people’s customs and nationalities are different the human heart is the same the world over.

The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is relevant to everyone regardless of race, colour or ethnicity. Paul and his companions prayed as they walked and walked as they prayed as was their regular custom while they waited on instructions from the Holy Spirit. They came to the riverside and sat down and then began speaking to the women gathered there. Very quickly the Holy Spirit then spoke to them. As they were sharing the gospel message with these women the blessed Holy Spirit touched the heart of a lady who was a worshipper of God but had never been born again. And so we read…

(Vs.14-15)  “A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.”

We can preach and share the gospel with the unsaved or with those who believe in God but are not as yet saved and we should do this. However, unless the Holy Spirit opens the door of the heart there will be no results. You can convert people many times through persuasive speech and carefully structured and controlled programmes of one sort or another and even get responses but a person can only be born again once. Unless the Holy Spirit convicts the unsaved of the sin of unbelief in Jesus, the need for righteousness and the judgement to come people will not be saved.

When we move and operate in the Holy Spirit the Lord Jesus will bring people across our path who will listen to what we have to say and at such times we will be conscious to a greater or lesser degree that the blessed Holy Spirit is speaking to them through us. When we accept the fact that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring conviction and not us it takes away ‘the strain’ of witnessing. If we are regularly led by the Holy Spirit then we will always have the right word at the right time. We may witness to many and see no results but if we are consistent and faithful the Holy Spirit inevitably will bring people across our path who whose heart He has opened.

And so Paul and his companion were very clad when they saw the response of Lydia. Once she had been born again she and her whole family were baptised. God is into saving families as well as individuals. This was the pattern of the early Church. People were born again by the Holy Spirit, baptised by immersion and then baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:37-39). She then prevailed upon Paul and his companions to stay in her house. Undoubtedly they were all filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Well do you think the devil took this laying down? He started to taunt Paul and the others through a young girl possessed by an evil spirit. It was when they were going to a place of prayer. When we set out to pray the devil will always try to disturb us at such times with distractions of one sort or another. These distractions may be due to interruptions from others or wandering thoughts or extreme tiredness or the desires of the flesh fighting with the desires of the Spirit within us.

(Vs.16-17)  “It happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave-girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortune-telling. Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, “These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.”

Satan was out to discredit the ministry of Paul and the others. He brought along a slave-girl who was able to tell fortunes and even predict the future by an evil spirit that was inside of her. The text tells us it was a Python spirit and that her owners were making a fortune. It was a religious spirit. The spirit in her actually spoke the truth about the message that Paul and the others were preaching but it was more like mocking rather than affirming the truth. When you see the money preachers on television and on the internet preaching their so called gospel there is a lot of truth mixed with error. To those who do not have discernment what they say sounds very good and appeals to the lusts of the flesh and peoples ‘felt needs’ (what they want God to do for them). Satan will always try to imitate or counterfeit the work of the Holy Spirit as he tried to do with Janes and Jambres the magicians and occultists of Egypt who were able to duplicate the miracles of Moses and Aaron up to a point. Satan will sometimes conceal himself under the guise of truth, that he may the more effectively deceive others.

Satan never tells outright lies bit always mixes truth with error or quotes scripture out of context. False teachers and prophets are doing this sort of thing today as they have always done. This demon-possessed girl was saying the right things but the source of her power was satanic. Satan quoted the scripture to the Lord Jesus in the temptation in the wilderness but of course it was out of context. When we see verses of scripture quoted out of their context they can be open to any interpretation and are usually mishandled by those quoting them. This is how heresy gets into the Church.

Making money on religion is nothing new. Also we need to keep in mind that this demonic spirit was also being tormented because it knew that its work was being exposed and that it was in danger of losing its power over this girl. This girl was a slave and Luke is telling us that sinners under the power of sin are slaves to sin and that only the power of the gospel can break that spiritual stronghold. Whenever the Holy Spirit is at work among the unsaved there is a clash of two kingdoms that comes into play. It is the Kingdom of light exposing the kingdom of darkness. In the gospels demons manifested themselves in the presence of the Lord Jesus and in this way Satan’s kingdom was exposed. Paul put up with it for several days and then dealt with it decisively. We cannot be sure why he delayed doing this but it went so far and no more. The evil spirit had started to really hinder the effectiveness of the gospel and needed to be dealt with. And so we read…

(Vs.18)  “She continued doing this for many days. But Paul was greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out at that very moment.

There is power in the name of Jesus and the demons know this. Paul knew the authority he had in this name to deal with this kind of satanic manifestation. God Himself has placed all power in heaven, under heaven, in the earth and under the earth in subjection to the name of Jesus. At His name everything in the universe itself must bow down. As it is written; “Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:8-11). Demons are subject to the name of Jesus (Luke 10:17).

As believers we have authority over demons. Of course it is not ours but Jesus authority. When Michael was disputing with Satan over the body of Moses he did not rail at Satan but said to him “the Lord rebuke you.” Likewise when the devil attacks us we must resist him in the name of Jesus and say to him the LORD rebuke you in the name of Jesus. If we submit to God and resist the devil at such times of temptation and spiritual attack he will flee from us. Then as we draw near to God He will draw near to us

As James writes; “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:7-8a).  After we have driven Satan out of our affairs we need to draw near to God and allow Him to draw near to us because we will be depleted spiritually. Some demons are really stubborn and take a lot of resisting before they flee. Some will only be driven out by prayer and fasting. As for Satan the same applies to him as well.

The Lord Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven and all things are under the Lord Jesus’ feet as He dwells in the heavenly realms. If we are in Christ then we are also sitting in heavenly places in Christ Jesus and all things are under our feet as well (Ephesians 2:1-10). This is why through the help of the Holy Spirit we can overcome everything the devil throws our way. We read about the authority and power in Jesus name where “the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” And He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven” (Luke 10:17-20). Serpents and scorpions are metaphors for evil spirits and demonic power. Satan may succeed at times in persecuting and even physically killing believers in Jesus but he cannot touch their spirit if they are walking under the Lordship and spiritual authority they have in the Lord Jesus Christ.

It’s a tremendous comfort to know that when we are witnessing to the unsaved that even the spirits are subject to us in Jesus name but more so that our names are written in heaven. There is always the danger to focus on the miracles, the signs and the wonders themselves instead of focusing on the one who is doing the miraculous work. Now Paul put up with this evil spirit for so long and then he dealt with it. He was not agitated with the girl but with the spirit that possessed her. It was making a lot of noise and Paul finally had enough and in the name of Jesus commanded it to leave the girl and it did. Satan was outwitted once again but kept the pressure on. And so we read…

(Vs.19-21)  “But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the market place before the authorities, and when they had brought them to the chief magistrates, they said, “These men are throwing our city into confusion, being Jews, and are proclaiming customs which it is not lawful for us to accept or to observe, being Romans.”

Whenever you see false prophets or those into fortune telling you see those who love money. Most of the so called ‘prophecy’ we see today is nothing more than fortune telling in Christian wrapping and those into this kind of thing jet in, fleece the sheep and then jet out again. Prophesying for money is nothing new. These guys we read about were into money and using this unfortunate girl to “rake in the bucks” to “feather their own nests”. She most probably got “the raw end of the deal.” Along came Paul and the others and ruined their business.

Those into prophesying for money become really “ticked off” when their means of livelihood is taken away from them. When a true prophet comes into town under the real anointing of the Holy Spirit the false prophets cannot attack the message so they attack the messenger for saying it and this is what these shysters did to Paul and his companions.

These wicked men dragged them before the Roman magistrate. They were obviously anti-Semitic and accused them of breaking Roman law and disturbing the peace which was of course false. The accuser of the brethren was doing his work through his servants who were practitioners of the occult themselves no doubt. Today this kind of thing happens in those countries where the gospel is supressed and outlawed. In days to come it will happen more frequently in the western democracies as they make more and more laws prohibiting the preaching of the gospel. When we are reading acts we are not only reading past history but future history as well.

(Vs.22-24)  “The crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods. When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.”

Undoubtedly the magistrate heard many such complaints every day and this was most probably just another case so his reaction was swift as a Roman Magistrate. He commanded they be beaten and thrown into prison. Paul and his companions were chained so they could not escape. The magistrate probably thought they were typical Jewish agitators and there was no short supply of them in the city. It looked like Satan had won the day only God outmanoeuvred him once again. He decided to shake things up big time! God does this at times!

(Vs.25-26)  “But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.”

After they had been falsely accused and beaten and thrown into prison, Paul and the others had a time of praise and worship. Humanly speaking the situation looked hopeless but faith in God changed all that. Paul and the others did not give in to their circumstances but kept their eyes on the Lord Jesus and not on their situation or surroundings. Their bodies may have been bruised and chained but their spirits were free. Satan’s power was completely broken. Praise offered to God with the simplicity and sincerity of a child shuts the devil up and drives him off. He can’t stand prayer and praise in the Holy Spirit. It drives him mad! As the psalmist wrote; “Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength (praise) because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger” (Psalm 8:2). And again it is written; “Whoso offers praise glorifies Me: and to him that orders his conversation (words and actions) aright will I show the salvation (deliverance) of God” (Psalm 50:23). What a testimony to the unsaved in that prison. In the midst of hopelessness and despair there was supernatural joy in the Holy Spirit and it took effect.

There is nothing like praise and thanksgiving in adversity to move God to act. In some cases believers will be incarcerated for a long time and in other cases they will be set free. In the case of Paul and his companions the LORD had still a lot of work for them to do in establishing the gospel among the gentiles and so He shook things up. He sent an earthquake to shake the foundations of the prison and all of the doors opened and the chains fell off. It was not only a time when physical chains were removed but spiritual chains were removed as well. The light of the message of the gospel had penetrated the darkness of the hearts of those who had been listening. While all of the prisoners heard the praise and worship there was one whose heart the Holy Spirit had touched and would be the means of Paul and the others coming out of the prison.

(Vs.27-28)  “When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!”

The jailor knew that if his prisoners escaped he would be summarily executed for negligence no questions asked. This was Roman law. When he saw the prison doors opened he drew his sword and was about to kill himself to save the shame of being humiliated before his superiors and executed. As he was about to kill himself Paul intervened. When God is in control He always takes care of every detail. In a normal circumstance of this kind the prisoners would have run out of the prison but they were still all there. All of them were wondering what had happened. God was taking care of things because of one man whose heart was ready to believe in the Lord Jesus. God will go to great lengths at times to save one lost sinner. Does not the good shepherd leave the 99 who are safely corralled and go after the one that was lost? The angels in heaven were about to go wild with excitement as another lost soul was about to be welcomed by the Good Shepherd into God’s sheep fold! At the command of Paul the jailor responded quickly.

(Vs29-30)  “And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

When the Holy Spirit does His convicting and converting work, men fall on their faces or fall to their knees before God. When men are convicted by the Holy Spirit of their sin of unbelief in Jesus, their need of righteousness and of coming judgement they are cut to the heart and cry out “what must I do to be saved!” The jailor was no exception! He had encountered the power of God. He has been listening to the praises of Paul and the others and their joyful testimony had undoubtedly had its effect. Unbelievers may laugh at a believer but they are watching to see how that believer will react in adversity. This was no ‘seeker friendly’ scenario but a matter of life and death which the gospel message is in fact. Heaven or Hell that is the choice!

What a contrast to the ‘seeker friendly’ approach we see in many churches today where one chats about the claims of Jesus over a cup of coffee and biscuits. This guy was scared and cried out “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” This is real conviction of sin! Unless sinners see themselves as lost and great rebels and sinners in God’s sight and totally at His mercy they will never appreciate His mercy and pardon. Now Paul did not tell this man to run to a priest or to attend the synagogue or to go to confession or to even pray. He did not tell him to try to live a better life, turn over a new leaf, and make a new resolution or to start doing charitable works. What did Paul tell this man to do?

(Vs.31)  “They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Paul told this man to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. This man was already under conviction of sin and knew that he was a lost sinner and under the wrath of God. Paul clearly understood that salvation was in no one else and that there was no other name given among men under heaven by which they must be saved! As scripture says; “…that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).

This rough jailor did not know any kind of theology or about God. He most probably knew about the gods of Rome but being a jailor was more at home among his mates than in the pagan temples. Conviction of his sin of unbelief in Jesus hit him like a punch in the stomach and God got his attention. He was already in a state of repentance even though he most probably had never heard the word. God met this man at his point of spiritual need and then after that he would receive counselling for salvation. And so we read…

(Vs. 32-34)  “And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household.”

After the jailor had been saved Paul and the others gave him the Word of God. He gave him something to believe in. They grounded his faith in the Word. As scripture tells us; “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Whenever a person is first saved we must give them the Word of God as the foundation for what they believe. Assurance comes from knowing what God has promised to those who repent and believe in the Lord Jesus for salvation. Remember that the Apostle John said in his first epistle; “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). After having a Bible study in the jailors house with him and his family the jailor washed Paul and his companion’s wounds. Straight away there was evidence of a work of grace in the man’s heart and life, He was a changed man. After this he and his family were baptised having had repentance and the gospel explained more adequately. He fed Paul and the others and had great joy along with his whole family who had believed in the Lord Jesus.

Now some who teach infant baptism, which is not in the Bible, try to prove this by saying that the family of this jailor were baptised and imply that there may have been a baby in the family. However, this is not the case because we are told that this man’s whole family had believed in God so they all must have been at the age where they were capable of faith. Water Baptism was always administered after repentance and faith. This was the New Testament pattern.

On the Day of Pentecost Peter said to those who asked how to be saved and what should they do; “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). The four steps in being saved is repent, believe, be baptised, and receive the Holy Spirit. All four are involved in the process of salvation. If a person has been saved then there is no reason why they should not be baptised and prayed for to receive the Holy Spirit. A baby is incapable of repenting and believing. Indeed it is written; “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10). This element of heartfelt and thorough repentance is sadly lacking in many seeker friendly mega-churches these days and in the Alpha Course and the Purpose Driven Life programmes which many churches are relying on to put “bums on seats” as it were if the truth be known!

(Vs. 35-40)  “Now when day came, the chief magistrates sent their policemen, saying, “Release those men.” And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The chief magistrates have sent to release you. Therefore come out now and go in peace.” But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us in public without trial, men who are Romans, and have thrown us into prison; and now are they sending us away secretly? No indeed! But let them come themselves and bring us out.” The policemen reported these words to the chief magistrates. They were afraid when they heard that they were Romans, and they came and appealed to them, and when they had brought them out, they kept begging them to leave the city. They went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia, and when they saw the brethren, they encouraged them and departed.”

Paul was not only a Jew by birth but also a Roman citizen and knew his rights according to Roman law. The magistrate wanted to release them secretly in the hope that “the problem’ might go away as it were. However, Paul told the policeman that he was a Roman citizen who had been publically flogged without a trial and that authorities should escort them out of the prison publically. It would have shown the people that Paul and his companions were innocent of any charges laid by the unscrupulous money sharks that had been milking the people of their money using the slave girl. Added to this the Magistrates were alarmed because according to Roman law a Roman citizen could not be flogged or imprisoned without charges being laid with evidence.

Of course Paul and the others had not violated any Roman law neither was there any evidence that they had done so. After begging them to leave the city the Magistrates had them escorted out of the prison for all to see. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah; “No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their vindication is from Me,” declares the LORD” (Isaiah 54:17). After this Paul and his companions went to Lydia’s house to encourage and edify the believers there at Philippi. Years later Paul would write his epistle to them. It would become a fellowship that would offer generous support for Paul’s ministry (2 Corinthians 8:11) (Philippians 4:15-18). It was an assembly that would bring Paul great joy and encouragement in his arduous and difficult ministry for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Go to Part 28