11, 12. Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; and from there to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.
Waiting to know what they were to do. In God’s work, we are not to go on in blundering haste. Some times, a little waiting may be good for us, and by waiting, we may find out the true path of success.
13. And on the Sabbath we went out of the city by a riverside, where prayer was known to be made. Some quiet corner, where good people were known to gather by the brook to pray.
13. And we sat down, and spoke unto the women which resorted there. This was probably the first religious meeting of Christians that was ever held in Europe. It is remarkable that it was a prayer meeting—a prayer meeting attended by women, a prayer meeting to which two ministers came and preached the gospel to the women who resorted there. To be able to be present at a prayer meeting ought always to be reckoned a great privilege to all of us who are Christians. In this way the gospel first came to
us. In this way the gospel will be best preserved to us. And in this way we may best obtain guidance from God as to how we may carry the gospel to others.
14, 15. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, who worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized. She seems to have become a believer in Christ and to have been baptized at once.
15. And her household, she besought us, saying, If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us. Lydia was evidently a woman of some property. The purple which she sold was an expensive article. She seems to have been engaged in business on her own account, and when Paul met with her, she was far off from her workshop and her home. She had a house, therefore, in the place to which she had come to sell her purple, and she “constrained”
the men of God to make use of her house and to tarry there. Thus was Christianity brought into Europe, for which we praise the name of the Lord.
16. And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying. She professed to tell fortunes and to speak under inspiration. She was really “possessed” by an
17, 18. The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. Here was an evil spirit bearing witness to the truth of God—and it grieved Paul. When you hear a bad man ridiculing religion, do not be surprised—what else can you expect from him? But if you heard the devil recommending Christ, then you ought to be grieved, for the Lord Jesus does not need patronage or praise from Satan. Men would begin to suspect that Christ was in league with Satan if Satan began to speak well of Christ. Dread to be spoken well of by ungodly men, for there is great danger in such praise. There may be a motive at the bottom of the flattery which may be full of mischief. Paul, being grieved, silenced the demon and cast him out of the damsel. Like his Lord, he would not allow the devil to testify concerning himself and his mission.
19, 20. And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the market place unto the rulers, and brought them to the magistrates. They dragged them into the Forum, the place where the courtsusually sat, and brought them before the magistrates, “saying”—what?—“These men have cured a demoniac. They have performed a miracle and cast a devil out of a young woman”? Oh no! There would have been no wrong in that, so they must invent a charge. What do they say?
20, 21. Saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, and teach customs which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. They did not know that Paul was a Roman citizen or they surely would not have brought such a charge as that against him.
22. And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.
They beat them first and tried them afterwards. That is often the rule with those who persecute God’s people—“Let them be hanged out of the way and then we will inquire what they teach.”
23-25. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God. Another prayer meeting and a praise meeting, too. T here were only two persons at it, but they “prayed and sang praises unto God.”
26. And the prisoners heard them. Paul and Silas were in the lower prison. The sound of their prayer and praise rose up through the different tiers of cells where other prisoners were confined.
26. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bands were loosed. This was no common earthquake. An ordinary earthquake might have brought the prison down about their ears—it would not have loosed the bands of the prisoners.
27. And the keeper of the prison, awaking out of his sleep and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. For the law was that if a jailer lost a prisoner, he was to suffer whatever penalty the prisoner would have suffered. He therefore knew that, in all probability, his own life would be taken and strange to say, to save his life he would kill himself. Suicide is always absurd and unreasonable. The worst that could happen to him would be to die by the sword of justice—and to escape from that, he tries to die by the sword of a suicide.
28. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do yourself no harm: for we are all here. Every prisoner was loosed from his shackles, but not one had es caped, nor had any even attempted to escape—which was another miracle—for men who see their bands broken and the prison doors open are pretty sure to run away. These men did not, for a heavenly charm was upon them. They stayed in their cells, so that Paul could cry out to the jailor—“Do yourself no harm: for we are all here.”
29. Then he called for a light, and ran in, and came trembling. Conscious of the supernatural, compelled to feel the hand which he had never perceived before, he hastened into the inner prison where hem had thrust the servants of Christ.
29. And fell down before Paul and Silas Whom he had handled so roughly just now.
30. And brought them out, and said, Sirs. What a word to address to those who were still in his charge as prisoners!
30-34. What must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, and your house. And they spoke unto him the Word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. May God give to many of us to know the happy experience of that believing, baptized, and blessed household!