Philippians, Rightly Divided, Verse-by-Verse
Session 1 | Recalling Philippi From Acts 16:9-40, Part 1
Introducing Philippi | acts 16:9-40
For reasons unknown and in a manner unknown, they were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach anymore in the modern Asia-minor region. But, while forbidden to speak the Gospel in one area, Paul received a vision we now refer to as the Macedonian Call which begged them to Come over into Macedonia, and help us. While there was a long-standing Jewish presence in Macedonia, there had not been opportunity for the Gospel to the uncircumcision to be preached.
Since Macedonia is in Europe, this became the first venture of Christianity in the Western world.
They first came to Samothracia, an island in the Aegean Sea, then arrived in Europe at Neapolis, the port city, which is about 10 miles from Philippi, the most populated city of the region. The city is named after Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great. Impressive ruins of the city remain today.
Note that Philippi was not only the chief city but also noted as a colony. A κολωνία [kolonia] was a Roman military outpost. The name survived in English usage and was originally used of settlements of soldiers. The name Lincoln is an abbreviation of Lindum Colonia in England, which was originally a colony of Roman veterans.
This verse, with its use of the word sabbath“church" was still Jewish in its orientation (i.e.: no split had occured“church").
Second, however, this verse might give us a clue as to the time of year. The Greek phrase translated on the sabbath“on the day of the Sabbaths." A few things of note:
Sabbaths is plural, though translated into the singular in KJV and (I believe) all other major translations.
This phrase (or very similar) is used in the plural in John 20:1, as well as Lk. 24:1 and Mark 16:2, referring to the day Jesus was raised from the dead.
Resurrection day was on the first of seven sabbaths counted from Passover to Pentecost.
“On the first Sabbath of the Feast of Weeks...." If this assumption is correct, then this took place in March / April.
From this we can also assume the following:
The women gathered were Jewish, or at least God-fearing gentiles.
There were not enough men in the town to have a synagogue (a minimum of 10 men was required, this was called a minion). Had there been a synagogue, the women would likely have gathered there.
We are not told about the other woman, but Lydia is mentioned. It would be speculation to know what response the other women had.
“the first convert in Europe." But the text tells us that she worshipped God before Paul ever came. In truth, we do not know if she was given the Gospel of the uncircumcision or of the circumcision (Gal. 2:7). The charge against Paul and Silas in verses 20-21 hint at Judaism, but those bringing the charge are also not to be trusted. Her baptism doesn't solve the “in charge" of the Gospel of the circumcision) baptized, and later we will see the Philippian jailor baptized, presumably under Paul's Gospel. Indeed, it could be that this woman accepted both Gospels. As a Jew, she believed that Jesus was Messiah and was coming to save the world through her nation. As a individual, she accepted the grace-gift of salvation.
Outside of the spiritual aspects of her decision, we know that Lydia was a seller of purple, which gives indication that she was a wealthy person who often dealt with wealthy and powerful people. She also was a hospitable person, and her heart was opened by the Lord to allow Paul, Silas, and Timothy to stay in her home.
This girl was the victim of both demon possession and human trafficking.
It is unknown if they went to prayer on the Sabbath or another day, but either way, the Jewish prayer times are being observed.
The girl had a spirit of divination. The Greek is a *pneuma Pythanos*“spirit of Python." Python was the dragon-like creature killed by Apollos in Greek mythology. At the Temple to Apollo at Delphi, the high priestess came under the name Pythias, and was closely associated with oracles. This spirit enabled the girl to give oracles (i.e.: soothsaying**).
Both from verse 16 and verse 18 there is every indication of the supernatural in this account, and there is no reason to remove the supernatural. Does the devil know the future? Not likely. However, he does know the present in a stronger way than our limited-presence ability gives us ability to know. Knowing the present gives the ability to know the future. This soothsaying was, therefore, like insider-trading. She was able to have an awareness of the future because she had a supernatural awareness of the present. We should also be reminded that most people are not looking for a vision of the distant future, but rather the immediate future. She was able to provide this vision.
The girl brought her masters much gain“pimped out" spiritually rather than sexually.
The girl was incessantly repeating the truth: these men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation crew to this pagan worship. Second, this did she many days, making true ministry/evangelism difficult.
Paul recognized that this was demonic and commanded the spirit to come out of her.
A side note: Luke is the author, and references to we (v. 16) always include Luke (unless they are quotations). This becomes evident in verse 17, where Luke refers to Paul and us. In these cases, we are made aware that Luke is present, thus writing his history as a first-hand account.
These verses show us several things that serve as words of warning and advice to the wise, even outside their context.
“follow the money." This is a case in which the charge against Paul and Silas has little to do with the real issue. The girl's masters were only concerned with their loss of income, but the charge against Paul and Silas was related to customs, which are not lawful for us to receive as Romans. Likely, the supposed unlawful customs were from very strict interpretations of some Roman laws, as Jews were normally afforded freedom of their religion.
“red flag" laws, which will inevitably be used against law enforcement and against people of non-conformist ideals in order to remove a person's civil liberties.
Third, the work of religion and the work of state need to remain separated. Religious people have full right to influence the state, but the state must not entangle itself in matters of religion.
Often the magistrates are influenced by the multitude, and this almost always leads to a dangerous outcome.
Note: the word rent is the past tense of the past participle rend“to rip."
The jailor is here introduced for narrative purposes only. Though he is now just the one charged to keep them safely, he will soon become one of the most talked about figures in Christian evangelism.