With the issue of circumcision imposed upon the Gentiles amicably settled between the churches at Antioch and Jerusalem, the next missionary trip for the apostle Paul was launched to establish new grounds and confirm previous churches set up during the first trip. This time however, Paul’s mission partner was Silas who came with them to Antioch after the Jerusalem conference instead of Barnabas who chose to leave the church at Antioch with his nephew John Mark to go back to his hometown in Cyprus.

Barnabas was a great man used by the Lord to comfort and encourage the saints in many ways. In fact his name Barnabas was given to him by the apostles at Jerusalem which meant son of consolation. He was instrumental in bringing Paul into the fold and he had been a wonderful partner with him in the first mission work. On the human level, it was unfortunate that Paul and Barnabas could not agree on taking John Mark with them again for this second trip and hence they had to go separate ways.

This in no way suggested that Barnabas had left the work and became bitter and angry over what had happened but he took on the responsibility to lead John Mark in the Lord’s work where Mark was later highly sought after by the apostle Paul in his later work in the ministry: Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. (2 Timothy 4:11) Paul also made mention of John Mark in his epistle to the Colossians: Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister’s son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;) (Colossians 4:10)

Hence, John Mark was not left on the shelves though he left Paul and Barnabas during their first mission trip. He was highly recommended by Paul as well in subsequent years. Thus, Barnabas was indeed a consolation to his nephew and he brought him up in the right way of the Lord. As such, the departure of Barnabas should not be viewed as a defeat though human elements entered the equation in the Lord’s work. All things indeed work together for good with Barnabas personally training his nephew and Silas having a part in the mission work with Paul and the Lord received all the glory. So this chapter quickly opened up all the excitement of another gospel exploit where Satan’s grip on the mind of fallen men was slipping away with many souls won to the Lord.

Acts 16:1: Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek:
Acts 16:2: Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium.
Acts 16:3: Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.

Derbe and Lystra were the cities Paul and Barnabas fled to when they were chased out of Iconium. It was at Lystra where the people there mistook Paul and Barnabas to be their gods from outer space and they nearly performed sacrifices to them. Paul was eventually stoned there and left to be dead but he recovered and went back into the city before leaving for Derbe the next day. This time, Paul and Silas were visiting the Christians at these cities and a young man named Timothy was mentioned. It was recorded in Acts 14:20 that the disciples stood round about Paul after he was stoned in Lystra before he got up and went back into the city. Could this young man Timothy be among the disciples there that day that witnessed the stoning of Paul? If he was, it must have made a very great impression on this young man.

Here Timothy was mentioned to be a man with a good reputation among the brethren. But he was not fully Jew as his father was a Greek and everyone knew that. As Paul was customary in preaching the gospel to the Jews first, going to a synagogue could pose a problem for Timothy. Hence Paul circumcised him. The issue of circumcision was earlier settled at the church in Jerusalem but in this case, Paul had no choice but to circumcise Timothy for his testimony’s sake so that the work of the Lord was not hindered by prejudice of men as Paul’s companion in the gospel work. Paul defended this decision later when he wrote: But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: (Galatians 2:3) Titus was not a Jew and as such Paul did not circumcise him. However, for Timothy, it was a different case otherwise Paul would not have gone through such trouble to please the Jews where he also wrote concerning the way he conducted himself in the gospel work: For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. (1 Corinthians 9:19-22)

Acts 16:4: And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.
Acts 16:5: And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.

One primary objective of Paul’s mission was to visit churches established earlier and this was an opportune time to deliver the decrees arrived at with the church at Jerusalem concerning the issue of circumcision and those four rules where the Gentile Christians should take heed. The words of the apostles were decrees during the early church period where the New Testament was still in the process of being written and compiled into one Book. The results of Paul’s visit and confirmation were obvious where the churches established in faith and they grew in number on a daily basis.

The Christians of early churches were not simply Sunday church goers. They did not meet just on Sunday just to go through a form but they took their faith very seriously where persecution was often their lot. Of course they benefited much from the personal ministries of Paul where Paul lived as a living example of a victorious resurrected Christian life among them.

Acts 16:6: Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,
Acts 16:7: After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.

Paul’s team continued their travel plan and when they reached Galatia, they were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach in Asia. They were again prevented by the Holy Ghost to travel to Bithynia to preach the gospel. The promise of the spread of the gospel to the uttermost part of the earth was indeed guided by the Holy Ghost. The priority was now going up north and west rather than going east where India and eventually China would get to hear the gospel. Paul and his missionaries were the vanguard leading the way in their gospel conquest and the Lord directed their way to open the eyes of the blind to the gospel while those nations in the Far East would have to wait. Would those people die and end up in hell just because they had not have a chance to hear the gospel preached? For thousand of years, the Gentiles did not have the light that the nation of Israel had to begin with and should theologians be so quick to conclude that those who did not convert to Judaism earlier and Christianity after the cross all perish in hell fire? Appealing to Calvin’s TULIP system would be too simplistic to answer these questions and lay the blame to God for not dealing with those outside of Israel and the Christian Church fairly. Of course the argument would be all sinners deserve hell fire to begin with but why God was good to some and not to others then? So Paul wrote to the Romans concerning how God would judge the dead whether they were under the Law or outside the Law.

For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) (Romans 2:11-15)

Hence it would be ludicrous to conclude that immediately after the resurrection of Christ, the above principle was no longer in force and everyone immediately perished in hell fire when they died where the gospel had no chance to reach sinners in the far corners of the earth. Where the nation of Israel had failed to reach out to the Gentile nations the Christian Church now had the responsibility to carry out this mission to bring many sinners to the Creator God. This mission however, was guided by the Holy Ghost as to the direction the gospel had to travel and in due time, the whole world would get a chance to hear the gospel and all sinners would be without excuse in the day of judgment.

Acts 16:8: And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.
Acts 16:9: And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.
Acts 16:10: And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.
Acts 16:11: Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis;
Acts 16:12: And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.

Eventually after going through Mysia to Troas, Paul was given a vision to go over to Macedonia. It was a man beckoning him to help them. This was a clear indication of the Lord’s calling for them to go over to Macedonia to preach the gospel. It would have been quite a dreadful wait for direction for Paul and now once they got the green light, they set off to their mission field immediately. The excitement of the gospel work was no doubt a great inspiration for Paul whose chief aim was to win sinners to Christ. So they reached Philippi and abide certain days. Those Christians he won there were close to his heart when he wrote to them tenderly in his later epistle.

Acts 16:13: And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.
Acts 16:14: And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.
Acts 16:15: And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.

Finally, Paul’s trip would bear fruit on the soil of Macedonia. The scene of this spiritual warfare was by a river side on a Sabbath day. As it turned out the first convert was a woman instead of a man the vision that Paul caught earlier. Notwithstanding, a soul was won to the Lord and in eternity gender distinction would no longer be an issue: For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. (Matthew 22:30) By the way, no angels appeared as a woman on earth and false gods were often found to be female deities worshipped as idols by sinners.

Here by the river on a Sabbath day indeed was a picture of rest depicted in Ezekiel 47. What the prophet Ezekiel saw was a setting during the Kingdom Age with healing rivers of water flowing out from the Temple in Jerusalem to heal the land and sustain life on earth for a thousand years. What Paul did by this unnamed river in Philippi had a far-reaching effect beyond the Kingdom Age where this woman would now be guaranteed a place and a home in eternity in eternal rest. So that fateful Sabbath day of rest by the river ended with this businesswoman of Thyatira securing eternal rest for her soul.

Incidentally, this woman was not a flirting promiscuous sinner many would view a woman in the business world where compromise might be necessary to secure her prosperity for her business. She was actually a respectable godly woman who worshipped God though she did not know that the Lord Jesus Christ was the Messiah of Israel and the Saviour of the whole world. She was like Cornelius in Acts 10 and the Lord providentially led Paul to this place of rendezvous where her eternal fate was sealed. So to conclude that man born in total depravity had no choice and was unable to respond to the Lord was not true for this woman was seeking after God though the true and living God was unknown to her until the time of refreshing coming to her according to God’s perfect timing and will. Thus God opened her heart to Jesus that day and she became a new creature in Christ. Not only this businesswoman Lydia benefited from salvation from above, her household likewise believed and they were all baptized that day.

She was also a hospitable lady who had received benefits of spiritual things and she was generous to offer the comfort of earthly things to Paul and his company to lodge in her house. It seemed she was the head of the home with no mention of her husband and she indeed had kept her own house well in spite of the demanding nature of her business. Hence to conclude that a woman should only stay at home and labour in the kitchen would be a shortsighted view. Often time circumstances may demand some women to be involved in occupation to bring home the bacon as well. Here Lydia was not told to quit her business to stay at home after her conversion. Staying at home and staving to death or living on the welfare of the church is incongruous to God’s will for a Christian when he could earn his own keeps. This principle applies to Christian women as well: And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing. (1 Thessalonians 4:11&12)

Acts 16:16: 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:
Acts 16:17: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.
Acts 16:18: And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.

With the conversion of Lydia and her household, her house became the base for which Paul and Silas carried out their gospel work. So during their gospel work they met this young girl with a spirit of divination who was a slave for her masters because of her special talent. She was truly a profitable servant for her masters to enrich themselves through her divination. Unfortunately she picked on the wrong target. Paul and Silas did not need outside help for their gospel work especially from the world of darkness. When the Lord was on earth, those devils that acknowledged Him were told to shut up. The Lord was on earth to save sinners and not to convert devils. There will be no saved devils in eternity and the Lord had no need of devils paying homage to Him on earth. These devils were just waiting for their time to suffer eternal torment that they knew very well. No amount of worshipping the Lord will lessen their punishment for aligning with Satan to rebel against the Most High God.

Likewise Paul despised this unholy spirit and was grieved by this constant harassment. So Paul commanded that spirit in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of this girl. Paul did not seek permission from this girl’s masters nor did he speak to this woman to cast out this spirit in her. When this young girl was set free her masters went broke. The girl was freed from bondage but her masters lost their livelihood. What happened to this girl was not recorded. Perhaps her masters thought that Paul and his company should be grateful for this additional help in their gospel work and were even hoping to be rewarded but they were slapped in the face for being busybodies. What they did not know was Paul’s mission was to set men free from sin and turn to the true Master of the universe, the Lord Jesus Christ: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. (Colossians 1:16&17)

Acts 16:19: And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,
Acts 16:20: And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,
Acts 16:21: And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.
Acts 16:22: And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.
Acts 16:23: And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:
Acts 16:24: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.

Instead of learning their lesson having witnessed the power of God possessed by Paul, they were mad with rage and they dragged Paul and Silas to their rulers and magistrates and complained about these missionaries. They were seeking vengeance because Paul broke their rice bowl. Sinners usually tolerate missionary activities provided they do not affect their economic activities. The moment their belly is affected, they would take action against gospel workers because they are aptly described as belly worshippers: For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. (Romans 16:18) Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) (Philippians 3:19)

So these men made very clear charges against Paul and Silas as troublemakers trying to bring in customs that were not lawful for them to adopt. The irony was that their little girl with special talent was earlier helping Paul and Silas in their work and they were actually indirect partners to the whole scheme. Now they turned around to accused Paul and Silas for troubling the city. Thus very often, sinners do compromise with Christians and tolerate their gospel work as long as they stand to benefit from their activities as well because even Christian activities do contribute to the economy and create jobs for the people. But when the benefit is gone, they will be up in arms to persecute Christians and demonise them in the worst possible way.

As can be seen, it was so easy to stir up the crowd to accuse Paul and Silas for harming their religious and racial harmony. Of course the unthinking crowd bought their story for they felt threatened by the gospel activities of Paul and Silas. It was really easy to manipulate people when a threat that was real enough was presented to them to unite the people against such a common threat even though those people there had no part with the quarrel between the masters of that poor girl set free of spirit possession. Did not Paul and Silas do them a favour by setting that girl free so that the city need not be snarled by the spirit possessed girl who extort them of their wealth to enrich those unscrupulous masters? Regrettably, they would rather have a fortune-telling girl among their midst than to have these life transforming missionaries offering them salvation from bondage of such likes from these evil masters out to get gain.

Hence with emotions running high from the agitated crowd, the magistrates commanded Paul and Silas to be beaten openly without a court hearing. This was mob justice and it was illegal but the magistrates who should uphold the law went along with the crowd. Truth and common sense fell casualty to satanic instigation from men who worshipped their belly. Paul and Silas were regarded as such dangerous and incorrigible criminals that they were severely beaten and thrown into the most secured prison fastened with stocks. Paul was no doubt a heavy investor in stocks and bonds and he was no stranger to such treatments at the hands of sinners. In the past, he was even stoned and presumably died where his attackers left his body outside the city. Now Silas had become an active partner with Paul’s gospel venture and his rewards likewise would be great for investing in such literal stocks and bonds investment instruments as the investment horizon was eternity where all the wrongs would become right on the day of judgment: Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12)

Acts 16:25: And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
Acts 16:26: And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.
Acts 16:27: 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.

Instead of wallowing in self-pity and crying out for deliverance, Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises to God. It was during such an unlikely hour of the night where everyone should be deep in slumber but they sacrificed their sleeping time to praise God instead. In fact they ought to be sleeping and resting to give their tired and tortured bodies some time to recover from the beating during the day. How could these men still sing when their environment were so inhospitable and their pains on their bodies crying out for relief? They were indeed extraordinary men called of the Lord. Instead of blaming God for not protecting them while they were doing God’s work, they praised God. There was no hint of bitterness and unhappiness present when they were packed into this inner most jail cell filled with unbearable stench of waste left behind by countless prisoners who suffered perhaps even worst fate than them. They were not blaming each other for their misery and planning a prison break to save their own skin. They could be executed the next day but they did not think about themselves but about the true and living God.

Their faith in their God was evident to all and the rest of the prisoners heard them sang praises to God during this unexpected night. It was a night of salvation for all providentially directed by the Lord for His glory. Christ’s servants indeed lived a life full of praises for the Saviour even in the most unfavourable circumstances. Such unrelenting faith reached heaven and touched the most faithful angels before throne of God. Would heaven not act and show its approval upon these faithful saints on earth who suffered for righteousness sake? So as Paul and Silas sang, a great earthquake shook the prison and all the doors were opened and everyone’s bands were loosed. It was such great singing by Paul and Silas and the applause from heaven was equally great that came in the form of shaking up the whole foundation of the prison. Such enthusiastic singing was unheard of and all the prisoners were no doubt captivated by their godly singing.

As for the keeper of the prison, his fortune was quickly turning against his favour. This earthquake would be his death sentence for there would be no way he could account for the loss of all those prisoners under his charged. Who would believe his account of this complete massive prison break where not one prisoner remained? How could all these prisoners escaped with no accomplices involved and not one of them recaptured when none of the prison guards was overpowered and killed? Rather than facing the Roman execution squad or be crucified, it would be better for him to take his own life with a less painful and humiliating death. There was no time to inform his own household to set things in order and there would not be sufficient time for the whole family to escape from the Roman Empire. It was really a hopeless situation looking at all the open prison doors so this keeper suddenly awakened to this most frightening nightmare drew his sword ready to breath his last breathe.

Acts 16:28: But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.
Acts 16:29: Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,
Acts 16:30: And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

During this agonizing moment with the atmosphere pregnant with fear and hopelessness for this poor keeper where he was just a heartbeat away from meeting his Maker, Paul called out to stop him from his suicide. Was he hearing voices from angels ushering him to his Maker? What he heard was beyond his imagination and understanding with Paul assuring him that all the prisoners were still in the prison. How could it be true that all the prisoners were still in that prison? He could be hallucinating at the crossroad of death. Why would all these prisoners not escape during such an opportune time where it probably would not strike twice in their lifetime? Were they not eager to leave where some had suffered injustice like Paul and Silas? This was indeed unexplainable to the keeper. Were the prisoners reeling in shock during this earthquake or were they keener to remain behind to find out more about what Paul and Silas, the servants of the living God had to offer them? These prisoners could have escaped but they made a deliberate decision to stay behind. The power and influence Paul and Silas had on them could not be underestimated. Even the keeper was surprised by this piece of news and he rushed into the prison to verify Paul’s claim.

When he was recovering in shock where his life was almost over the other side of world, his first sight of Paul and Silas must have been an indescribable event choked full of emotions in disbelief. It would take this hardened keeper dealing with hardcore criminals all these years quite a moment to compose himself. He was still alive after all and he trembled and fell down before these two great missionaries inquiring what he had to do to be saved. Why would he need to do saved? Actually, he thought it was better that he killed himself than to be punished by execution from the Roman authorities. He was indeed as good as dead but now he found himself still alive. It was unbelievable. It was so surreal. The pertinent question for him would be to continue to stay alive and what he had to do in order to remain alive and to experience this great power possessed by Paul and Silas from their living God that shook the prison to its very foundation. Surely he was not interested in the great singing of Paul and Silas but what was behind their attitude, motivation and faith that caused them to praise the God whom they served in that most unbearable condition they found themselves to be in. Paul and Silas were extraordinary people in every sense of the word. Not only they brought the prison down but prevented the escape of all those prisoners where the jail doors were already wide open. If this were not a miracle to this keeper, he would be living in a world of illusion.

So he brought them out of the prison and this time, he did not treat Paul and Silas as criminals. He even addressed them with proper dignified titles. What a changed! These two men were probably despised by this keeper earlier in the day where his impression of them might be some kind of terrible criminals deserving the most severe punishment but now his attitude and impression on these two prisoners under his charged had turned out to be something else, his saviours. Now what matter most was the way of salvation he needed to know for he had seen what took place and the manifestation of the power of God in the lives of these two servants of the living God. For any sinner wishing to be saved, it would be normal for them to ask what they must do to be saved. They believed they had to do something to obtain salvation.

Acts 16:31: And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
Acts 16:32: And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.
Acts 16:33: And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.
Acts 16:34: And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.

Instead of correcting this keeper on his wrong perception concerning the way to obtain salvation, Paul and Silas told him to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved. Perhaps this keeper did not quite get it that he could do nothing to save himself the first time he was told about this matter. In fact, no sinner could do something to save himself from hell fire. All this keeper had to do was just to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. It was so simple that it would be hard to believe. Most people would have thought about some elaborate rites and ceremonies to initiate believers into the fold but in this case there was none. Paul and Silas were telling this keeper and his household the truth: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8&9) So they spoke to the keeper and those in his house the word of the Lord and they eventually believed and got saved. All that the keeper wanted to know about how to be saved was told to him and those in his house and they received this message of salvation. They were all baptized after having been saved like all those disciples in the past.

So fellowship followed with great rejoicing in the house of the keeper for they were now indeed one big happy family in the Lord. That night the keeper did not kill himself and his wife did not loose her husband and his children did not loose their father. Feasting on earth in the humble house of the jailor that night was a foretaste of the feast in the coming Kingdom. All his house now believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, the true and living God. Perhaps even those prisoners who did not escape could become recipients of eternal life after this episode not mentioned here in this record on the conversion of the jailor. It was indeed a happy occasion to celebrate this dramatic change of event with salvation arriving at the home of this jail keeper who least expected it. He was not like Lydia who was seeking and worshipping the God of Israel with imperfect knowledge and then got saved at the river from the preaching of Paul. He was just a Gentile sinner busy in his own occupation whom the Lord saw fit to send the gospel his way through the unjust sufferings of His servants at the hand of the unruly and unreasonable mob with the dishonourable rulers and magistrates of the city rubber stamping their demands. Hence in the course of gospel work, Christians have to remember the bigger picture of God’s sovereign plan: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Acts 16:35: And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go.
Acts 16:36: And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace.
Acts 16:37: But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out.
Acts 16:38: And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans.
Acts 16:39: And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city.
Acts 16:40: And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.

When the night was over with the great rejoicing and celebration still fresh on everyone’s mind, the magistrates send message to release Paul and Silas. When the jailor told Paul and Silas the magistrates’ decision, instead of jumping for joy with the jailor and his household happy for them, there was a change in plan. Paul and Silas refused to leave jail. This was perhaps the keeper’s first experience that criminals refused to go when they were set free. Paul and Silas were indeed unusual men. They were actually Roman citizens. As Roman citizens, they had rights of a citizen though Paul and Silas were already citizens of a far away better and enduring country whose city has foundations whose Builder and Maker is God. Paul insisted on his rights to be treated in the proper manner and refused to leave jail and demanded that magistrates come personally to account for the way they had treated them the day before.

This time the magistrates had gotten themselves into big trouble. They had beaten Romans that were not condemned and had also thrown them into jail. They had not exercise their duty in ensuring a fair trial where Paul and Silas could defend themselves. They simply sentenced Paul and Silas to be beaten and jailed based on the instigation of some profit seeking manipulators who stirred up the crowd and disturbed the peace of the whole city. It should be those masters of the spirit possessed girl who should be charged for religious and racial hate crime by stirring up the crowd. Unfortunately these unthinking rulers and magistrates simply went along without using their head and now they found themselves in trouble big time. If Paul and Silas complained to Rome for what these magistrates did to them without according them these special rights as Roman citizens, they could loose their jobs or even their heads. Paul vehemently disagreed to let these magistrates off who tried to cover up what they did contrary to proper procedure to any court trial. This was just another common case of abuse of power and Paul would want to teach them a lesson they would never forget.

When the magistrates realised they had beaten Romans that were not condemned, they feared and very likely for their lives. They had touched the very elites of the society and they had to expect to pay a severe price for their carelessness and callousness in administrating their duties in their position of power. This shows how much privilege a citizen has living in an empire governed by the ruling power of the day. How much more privileges would Christian not think of when they are actually citizens of heaven but meanwhile simply ambassadors for Christ on this earth! So whatever Christians go through here on earth, heaven would not fail to take notice and intervene on their behalf whether concerning their welfare or their service for the coming great King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

These frightened magistrates had no choice but come to face Paul and Silas personally for what they done to them the day before. They begged them to leave the city in peace and perhaps even beseeched Paul and Silas not to pursue the matter any further. Their fears were genuine for there was no way they could answer for laying hands on Romans that were not proven to be guilty of any crimes. Here those in powers were brought to their knees and in the day of judgment unrepentant sinners would likewise come bowing down to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord: Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)

As far as Paul was concerned while exercising his earthly citizen’s rights, his purpose was not to seek vengeance for those who had done him wrong and made mistakes in making right judgment. For Paul knew that he was in no position to seek vengeance on earth even when he suffered unjustly for he wrote: And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10) For indeed who would be more qualified to tell Christians not to seek vengeance than Paul who had personally experienced many occasions of unjust treatments at the hands of unbelievers? Paul again exhorted Christians in Rome: Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. (Romans 12:19) Vengeance is surely the prerogative of God and Christians should not lightly intrude into God’s throne to dispense judgment callously like those magistrates recorded here: For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. (Hebrews 10:30)

So having taught those magistrates a good lesson, Paul and Silas departed and went back to the house of Lydia. They were all much comforted after seeing Paul and Silas again. Little did this businesswoman expect that Paul and Silas would get themselves into so much trouble operating from her home for the gospel work. Nonetheless, suffering for the Lord is part and parcel of the work of a missionary seeking to win the lost at any cost. Thus, Paul and Silas had a fruitful first leg of this mission trip. Such partnership was important where many dangers and discouragement would be there along the way to stop them from their gospel outreach to those who have yet to hear of the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. As Paul and Silas continued with their gospel work more incidents of persecution would occur but more importantly many more would come to the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. To God be the glory.

Chapter 15 Chapter 17