Setting

Through the Lord’s direct revelation, Paul and his coworkers came to Philippi in Macedonia to spread the gospel. The first converts in this city was Lydia and her household. In this lesson, we will continue to study Paul’s ministry in Philippi.

Key Verse

(16:25-26)

Did You Know...?

1. About to kill himself (16:27): “In Roman law a guard who allowed his prisoner to escape was liable to the same penalty the prisoner would have suffered.” [ref]
2. Romans (16:37-38): “According to the Valerian and Porcian laws, which were passed at various times between 509 B.C. (the time of the founding of the Roman Republic) and 195 B.C., a Roman citizen could travel anywhere within Roman territory under the protection of Rome. He was not subject to local legislation unless he consented (which was usually the case in business and personal relations), and he could appeal to be tried by Rome, not by local authorities, when in difficulty. As a citizen he owed allegiance directly to Rome, and Rome would protect him. Even Roman governors in the provinces were forbidden, as A.H.M. Jones points out, ‘to kill, scourge, torture, condemn or put in bonds a Roman citizen who appealed to the people, or to prevent a defendant from presenting himself in Rome within a certain time’ (Studies in Roman Government and Law [New York: Praeger, 1960], p. 54).” [ref]

Outline

  • Paul Cast out the Spirit of Divination
    (16:16-18)
  • Paul and Silas Imprisoned
    (16:19-24)
  • The Jailer’s Conversion
    (16:25-34)
  • Paul and Silas Released from Prison
    (16:35-40)

Segment Analysis

  • 16:16-24

    1.

    What was the evil spirit’s work through the slave girl? What was he trying to accomplish?

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    On the surface, the evil spirit seemed to be promoting the gospel by loudly announcing the work of the missionaries. But the evil spirit actually intended to disrupt their preaching because he made the slave girl follow the missionaries and scream out behind them for many days.

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  • 2.

    What led to Paul and Silas’ imprisonment?

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    See 18-24.

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  • 16:25-40

    3a.

    What did Paul and Silas do in prison at midnight?

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    They were praying and singing hymns to God (25).

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  • 3b.

    If you were falsely charged, whipped, and thrown into prison like Paul and Silas, how would you feel? What would it take to do what Paul and Silas did?

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  • 4.

    What miraculous events happened next?

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    1. There was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken (26).
    2. All the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed (26). This was miraculous because an earthquake can hardly open all the prison doors, not to mention loosening prisoners’ chains.
    3. No one escaped from prison (28). It must have been obvious to all the prisoners that the earthquake, the opening of the prison doors, and the loosening of the chains were the acts of God in response to Paul and Silas’ prayer and singing (cf. 25). That is why no prisoner took the situation to escape.

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  • 5.

    What good purpose did God have in allowing Paul and Silas to be imprisoned?

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    God wanted to save the prison keeper and his household.

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  • 6.

    How do you explain the prison keeper’s reactions as recorded in 29-30?

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    At first, the prison keeper was sure that he was doomed because all the prisoners must have escaped, and the magistrates would demand his life for failing his responsibility. But Paul stopped him and reassured him that no one had escaped. This showed that Paul and Silas were men of God who had great love for him. The fact that all the prisoners stayed behind with Paul and Silas also showed that Paul and Silas were righteous men, who had such great influence on all the convicts. The prison keeper had seen for himself the great power of God in the miraculous events and that the missionaries were men sent by God. This realization led him to come before Paul and Silas and fall down trembling before them. Moreover, it led him to see his need for salvation.

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  • 7.

    How does this story confirm the necessity of baptism?

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    Baptism was closely connected to the command and promise, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Paul and Silas did not wait to baptize the prison keeper until a more convenient time. As soon as the prison keeper and his family accepted the word of the Lord, they were baptized immediately because baptism was part of believing on the Lord Jesus and it was necessary for salvation.

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  • 8.

    Contrast the prison keeper in verse 27 and verse 34. What does this teach us about the effects of salvation?

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    Baptism was closely connected to the command and promise, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Paul and Silas did not wait to baptize the prison keeper until a more convenient time. As soon as the prison keeper and his family accepted the word of the Lord, they were baptized immediately because baptism was part of believing on the Lord Jesus and it was necessary for salvation.

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  • 9.

    Why do you think Paul refused to be released secretly?

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    Paul demanded the magistrates to bring them out of prison openly probably because he did not want the public to have the impression that they had been punished as criminals, a situation that would have greatly dishonored the name of God (cf. 1Pet 4:15-16). If their preaching had been viewed by the people as illegitimate, the church would have had a difficult time to thrive in that city.

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