Acts 16:35 - 17:4

Sunday Morning Bible Study

May 24, 1998


Paul is finishing up his first "jail ministry". He and Silas had been in prison when an earthquake hit Philippi. As a result of his not running away, the jailer came to the Lord.

Acts 16:35-40 Released from prison

:36 And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul

the keeper of the prison – this is the jailer that got saved the night before. Don’t you know he was probably very excited that Paul was going to be released.

:37 They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans …

uncondemnedakatakritos – uncondemned, punished without being tried. Even slaves in Roman law had a right to be heard.

Is this contradictory of "turning the other cheek"?

I think what Paul is doing, rather than just letting it go, is assuring some measure of protection for the young church meeting in Lydia’s house. At least it’s in his power to do something.

If Paul and Silas just leave, having been publicly humiliated, it will be harder for the church, having been started by those "rabble-rousers". But if Paul and Silas actually receive a measure of apology, then there won’t be so much scorn on the church.

:38 they feared, when they heard that they were Romans

These men were afraid, not because of what they thought Paul would do, but because of what they thought Rome might do. Philippi was a Roman colony (Acts 16:12), and that meant they had to follow Roman law. Roman law made it a crime to inflict blows on a Roman citizen. In fact, Emperor Claudius had taken away the city of Rhodes’ privileges for having crucified some citizen of Rome. They might be in BIG trouble if Rome finds out what they did.

:40 the house of Lydia … the brethren

Apparently the little church in Philippi had been meeting in Lydia’s house.

:40 they comforted them

Isn’t it ironic that Paul and Silas had been beaten and whipped the day before, thrown into jail, and now they’re comforting the folks in Lydia’s house?


Get your eyes off yourself.

I know this may sound a little harsh to some of you, but I think that sometimes our trials are so rough because we have our eyes on our own problems a little too much.

God’s desire is that we receive comfort from Him, and then turn around and give it to others.

Listen to what Paul (the one who had been in jail) writes,

(2 Cor 1:3-5 KJV) Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; {4} Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. {5} For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

A.B. Simpson wrote, "You will have no test of faith that will not fit you to be a blessing if you are obedient to the Lord. I never had a trial but when I got out of the deep river I found some poor pilgrim on the bank that I was able to help by that very experience."

:40 and departed

Note #1: This church, started in Lydia’s house, and including a jailer and his family, according to historical records, would go on for some eight hundred years.

Note :3: It is apparently at this point that Luke departs from Paul, and stays behind in Philippi. When the next chapter starts, Luke goes back to calling Paul’s team "they". We’ll see Luke rejoin Paul when he passes back through Philippi several years later, and will leave with Paul when he departs Philippi the second time (Acts 20:6)


Know when to quit.

Or as Kenny Rogers says, "Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em".

They could have possibly stayed and pressed their legal position, but why stay and be a pest? Instead, they move on.

Acts 17 - Thessalonica

:1 Amphipolis and Apollonia … Thessalonica … a synagogue

Paul is now travelling on what was known as the "Egnatian Way". This was one of the major Roman roads which tied the empire together. The road was 500 miles long, tying Byzantium near the Black Sea to Dyrrachium on the Adriatic Sea.

Amphipolis – founded in 436 BC by the Athenians, it was a capital of one of the Roman districts of Macedonia. It was 32 miles from Philippi on the Egnatian Way.

Apollonia – Another 28 miles along the Egnatian Way from Amphipolis.

Why didn’t Paul stop and preach at these cities? Were they too close to Philippi and the trouble there? Perhaps they didn’t have any synagogues? We don’t know why.

Thessalonica – Another 50 miles along the Egnatian Way. Today there is a modern Greek city here, named Thessaloniki, ( a chief port on the Aegean sea, with a population around a half million. It was founded in 315 BC by Cassander and named Thessalonica after his wife, the sister of Alexander the Great. In 148 BC it became the capital of the entire province of Macedonia. In Paul’s day, this city was of equal political importance as Antioch in Syria and Caesarea in Palestine. It was also one of the three great seaports on the Aegean Sea, along with Corinth and Ephesus.

synagogue – remember, there have to be at least 10 Jewish men in a city before a synagogue can be formed. There was no synagogue in Philippi, but there is one here.

:2 three sabbath days reasoned with them

three sabbath days – it seems that Paul may have only been in Thessalonica for three weeks, but in this short time, something wonderful is going to be planted in this church, so that about a year later Paul will write,

1Th 1:8 For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.

Paul will later write back to the Thessalonians and remind them of this time together:

1 Th 2:1-12 (NASB) For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain, {2} but after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition. {3} For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; {4} but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men but God, who examines our hearts. {5} For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed-- God is witness-- {6} nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority. {7} But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. {8} Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. {9} For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. {10} You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; {11} just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, {12} so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.


Ministry happens within loving relationships.

Sometimes we can get the idea that "ministry" means to stand up in front of a crowd, and lecture or yell at people. If you’re not careful, you could get the idea that Paul came and delivered a speech, then left out the back door, not to be seen until the following Saturday.

To Paul, ministry meant developing a loving relationship with the people, opening up his heart to them, spending time with them, pouring out his life for them.

I’ve heard frustrated pastors say, "I’d love the ministry, if it weren’t for the people". I know what that feeling is like. When you open up your heart to people, they can hurt you. But that’s part of the price of ministry. It’s not something that you should avoid. It’s a test of whether you have learned real agape or not.

:2-3 reasoned … Opening and alleging

Luke gives us some insight into Paul’s methods in leading others to Christ.


Aspects of sharing the gospel.

1) Talk about it (vs.2)

reasoned (vs.2) – dialegomai – ("dialogue") to think different things with one's self, mingle thought with thought; to converse, discourse with one, argue, discuss.

Sharing the gospel doesn’t have to be the reading of a tract and then walking away. Sit down and talk.

2) Use the Scriptures (vs.2)

Paul’s discussion came out of the Word of God.

(Heb 4:12 KJV) For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Even if the person you’re talking to doesn’t believe that the Bible is the Word of God, you can still use it and quote it.

Let’s say you’re in line at the ATM, when a guy walks up to you, sticks a gun in your side, and asks you for all your money. You respond, "I don’t believe that guns kill people". If he pulls the trigger, will your belief keep you from being shot? Even if you’re really, really sincere?

3) Explain it (vs.3)

openingdianoigo – to open by dividing or drawing asunder, to open thoroughly; to open the mind of one, i.e. to cause to understand a thing

It could refer both to opening the Scriptures, as well as opening their understanding to the Scriptures.

Sometimes if we’re not careful, we can start using "Christianese" when we’re talking about the Lord. A person who hasn’t been raised in the church doesn’t have a clue what "born again", "redeemed", "saved", etc. means unless you take the time to explain it to them.

4) Prove it (vs.3)

allegingparatithemi – to place beside or near or set before; to prove by presenting the evidence.

You need to understand why Jesus had to die.

It’s important to know that there is evidence as to why we know that Jesus is the Messiah, our Savior.

:3 that Christ must needs have suffered

Some of the Jews had a hard time thinking that their deliverer had to suffer. They had been expecting a great warrior king to deliver them from their enemies.

Yet their own Scriptures taught –

(Isa 53:4-5 KJV) Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. {5} But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

The Messiah had to suffer because He came to pay the penalty for our sins. He came to offer Himself as a sacrifice, taking our place in judgment.

:4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas

believedpeitho – to persuade, or be persuaded; to induce one by words to believe

consorted –to join

:4 and of the devout Greeks a great multitude

These were Gentiles who had converted to Judaism. Many of them turn to the Lord.

:4 and of the chief women not a few

Apparently in Macedonia, women had much more freedom and privilege than in other places. Many of these leading gals come to Jesus.