The early Christians, despite persecution wherever they went, were filled with the Holy Spirit, trusting God to lead and protect them as they fearlessly spread the news of the Gospel. No matter what, they continued the mission God had given them to do. Acts 15-17 portrays this Sovereignty of God. (Read also Psalm 33:10-11; Proverbs 16:33; Isaiah 46:9,10, Lamentations 3:37-38).
Paul wanted to visit the new churches to see how they were doing, but also to share the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. Paul asked Barnabas to go with him to visit all the new churches that had been started. Barnabas wanted his friend John Mark to go with them, but Paul felt Mark had deserted them earlier in Pamphylia and had abandoned the work. Barnabas disagreed with Paul and so they parted ways, Barnabas taking Mark with him and sailing to Cyprus; Paul chose Silas, who had been commended by the brothers to God’s grace, to go with him to Syria and Cilicia.
Paul and Silas went to Derbe, then Lystra where a disciple named Timothy lived. The brothers at Lystra had spoken well of Timothy. His mother was a believing Jewess, his father a Greek. Wanting to take Timothy along on the journey, Paul circumcised him because the Jews in that area knew his father was a Greek. So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers. (Acts 16:5)
Paul and his companions traveled throughout Phrygia and Galatia, but were kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the Gospel in the province of Asia. That night Paul received a vision of a man in Macedonia standing and begging Paul to come. They got ready immediately to go there, concluding that God was urging them to preach the Gospel in Macedonia. After days of travel, they reached Philippi, a Roman colony in Macedonia. There they talked with women who had gathered while they were praying at a "place of prayer." They also met Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira. She was a woman who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to Paul’s message and she became a believer. After her entire household was baptized, she invited the companions to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded them. (Acts 16:14-15)
Each day, Paul and company would go to the place of prayer in Philippi. They were met by a slave girl with a spirit enabling her to predict the future, making a fortune for her owners. She began shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, telling you how to be saved!” After many days of this, Paul told her to be quiet and cast the spirit out of her.
When the owners realized that their source of income was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them to the magistrates in the marketplace. They declared that these men were Jews and were causing an uproar in their province, teaching the Roman citizens to do what was unlawful for them. The crowd (full of evildoers) began to join in the accusations, and Paul and Silas were then stripped and beaten severely. To be sure they could not escape the jailer put them in stocks in an inner cell of the jail.
That night the other prisoners listened to Paul and Silas singing and worshiping God. Then a great earthquake tore open the prison doors and all the prisoners’ chains were broken. When the jailer awoke, he was terrified that all the prisoners had escaped. It was dark in the jail, and Paul saw that the jailer was about to take his own life. Paul assured him they were all still there! The jailer called for the lights and immediately, the jailer fell down before Paul and cried, “What must I do to be saved?”
Paul said to him, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved, and your household as well.” (16:31) The jailer was filled with joy and brought Paul and Silas to his own house. He washed and dressed their wounds, and prepared a meal for them with his family. He brought them back to the jail before the sun rose and locked them in again. God had orchestrated a beautiful story of redemption for the jailer and his household. When the sun was up, the magistrates ordered the jailer to release Paul and Silas immediately. The jailer urged them to go in peace, but Paul told the officers that they had been beaten publicly without a trial and thrown into jail even though they were Roman citizens. Paul said to them, “No! Let the magistrates come and escort us out!”
The magistrates hoped to appease them when they had these new revelations. They escorted them out and urged them to leave the city. Paul and Silas went to Lydia’s house where they encouraged the others who were there. Then they left.
God protected the believers throughout these journeys, and as it is recorded, the churches everywhere they went were encouraged by Paul, Silas, Barnabas, John Mark and the others with them. They also continued to have new converts, God’s guiding hand and blessings along the way, while they "Charlie Mike"—Continued the Mission! Read to the end of this passage, Acts 17:1-41. God’s call to us is to CONTINUE THE MISSION until He returns or He calls us home to Heaven. Also read 2 Timothy 4:6-8,11. By the way, John Mark who traveled with Barnabas, had matured in his faith and was again accepted by Paul as an apostle in good standing.
- Read through and study Acts 15:36 to 17:34.
- Listen again to the sermons on Acts, available on SoundCloud.
- Join us at Antelope Springs next Sunday at 9 or 10:45 a.m.