Acts 16

Chapters sixteen through eighteen record Paul’s second tour. Paul and Silas visited the churches Paul had established previously (Acts 15:41; 16:1-5), especially encouraging the Gentile believers with the good decision from the Jerusalem Council. Along the way, they found young Timothy and invited him to join them as an apprentice. Because of their ministry and his mixed heritage, Paul thought it wise to have Timothy circumcised. This would both bring future benefits and cause future problems.

Although Paul wanted to move north out of southern Galatia “INTO BYTHINIA…THE SPIRIT OF JESUS DID NOT ALLOW THEM TO DO THIS” (Acts 16:6-10), so they continued west to the Aegean Sea between Asia Minor (modern Turkey) and Greece. It was at this point that Luke joined their team as well. Here Paul saw a vision of a Macedonian man asking him to come help his people, so they took that as God’s direction and embarked across the sea. Although Thessalonica was the capital of Macedonia (and probably their primary destination), Philippi was a leading city as well, so they stopped there first. Because there was no synagogue, they knew the Jews would be praying by a river, so they met them there on the Sabbath (Acts 16:11-15). The first respondent was Lydia, a merchant from Thyatira in Asia Minor, who had a home in Philippi. She believed and welcome the apostles into her home as their temporary base.

At some point during their ministry, a demon-possessed slave girl began harassing the apostles, so Paul cast out the demon (Acts 16:16-24). This caused a great problem for her owners, so they brought Paul and Silas to the magistrates to have them arrested for stirring up trouble against Rome. Recognized only as Jews, Paul and Silas were severely beaten and secured in stocks in the maximum security prison. This did not dampen their spirits, though, and they continued to pray and sing praises to God throughout the night (Acts 16:25-34). At midnight, God sent a great earthquake that opened all the prison doors and unlocked all the prisoners’ bonds. The jailer, thinking he would be executed due to the loss of his prisoners, drew his sword to kill himself. Paul stopped him, and the man listened to Paul preach the gospel. He took Paul and Silas into his home, cared for their wounds, and his family believed in Jesus that night.

The following morning, when the magistrates sent word for Paul and Silas to be released, Paul revealed that they were Roman citizens, who had been arrested, beaten, and imprisoned against their Roman rights (Acts 16:35-40). Paul never hesitated to use the freedoms his citizenship afforded him, but he did not abuse them either. Not holding this violation against the magistrates, Paul and Silas left Philippi after leaving a word of encouragement with the infant believers there.