Acts 15-16

Thursday Evening Bible Study

November 15, 2007


We’ve seen the story in Acts shift to Paul.  We’ve followed Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey as they planted churches in the middle of what is now modern Turkey.  They have returned to their home church in Antioch.

Acts 15

:1-5 Judaizer controversy

:1 And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved."

These Jewish/Christian teachers came north to Antioch (“down” usually refers to coming down the hill that Jerusalem sits on). Their message was that you needed to be fully Jewish in order to be saved – that meant becoming circumcised and keeping the Law of Moses.

:2 Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.

Paul and Barnabas had been teaching the grace of God. They had seen plenty of Gentiles become saved simply by trusting in Jesus.

:3 So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren.

Phoenicia would be in the area of modern Lebanon. Samaria in central Israel.

:4 And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them.

:5 But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses."

Note: We usually think of the Pharisees as the “bad guys” in the New Testament because of their arguments with Jesus in the gospels. But there were Pharisees who had come to trust in Jesus as their Messiah.

The Pharisees had been raised and discipled to honor and obey the Law of Moses. They couldn’t see any other way but to continue to do this as a believer in Jesus.

:6-21 The Council of Jerusalem

:6 Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter.

We have a record of the first “council” of the church where the church will gather to discuss controversy in the area of doctrine and come to a conclusion about the matter. This takes place in the year AD 50.

There will be two issues at stake:

1. Salvation:  How can a Gentile be saved? Does a Gentile need to be circumcised?
2. Fellowship:  Can a Jewish believer hang out with a Gentile believer? What if he doesn’t get circumcised? This is a more subtle issue being dealt with.

:7 And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: "Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.

much dispute – some people are quite surprised that church people can disagree on things. There is nothing new under the sun.

Peter is referring to his trip to Caesarea and how Cornelius the Gentile centurion and his friends all came to trust in Jesus – Acts 10-11.

:8 "So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us,

:9 "and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.

These Gentiles in Cornelius’ house experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit, just like the apostles had experienced on the day of Pentecost. This had happened solely on the basis of Cornelius and his household believing in Jesus, not in their becoming circumcised first.

:10 "Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?

:11 "But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they."

Peter’s conclusion was that the Law of Moses was a “yoke” that was too difficult. He saw salvation happening by the grace of God, not because these Gentiles had “earned” their salvation by obeying the Law of Moses. Salvation came through grace for BOTH the Jew and the Gentile.

:12 Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles.

Barnabas and Paul now share their insights based on their first missionary trip (Acts 13-14).

:13 And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, "Men and brethren, listen to me:

James – this is the half-brother of Jesus. They shared the same mother, but had different fathers (James was the son of Joseph, Jesus was the Son of God). It appears that James is the leader over the church in Jerusalem.

:14 "Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name.

:15 "And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written:

:16 'After this I will return And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, And I will set it up;

:17 So that the rest of mankind may seek the LORD, Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says the LORD who does all these things.'

James will summarize what he thinks are the important points, including what Peter (Simon) mentioned about Cornelius’ salvation.

James will be coming to a conclusion, but notice that he is careful to point out how the Scriptures support his conclusion. He is quoting from Amos 9:11-12, which mentions that there will be Gentiles called by God’s name.

:18 "Known to God from eternity are all His works.

In other words, there are no surprises with God. God has hints throughout the Scriptures about the Gentiles being saved.

:19 "Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God,

:20 "but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.

:21 "For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath."

James concludes that the Gentiles should not be forced to follow the Law of Moses except for the following exceptions:

1. Things polluted by idols – James wants the Gentiles not to get their worship of God confused with the worship of idols. This also deals with part of the issue of food and fellowship – it would make it much easier for a Jewish believer to go over to the Gentile believer’s house for dinner if he didn’t have to worry about whether or not the food had been sacrificed to Aphrodite or not.

2. Sexual immorality – this is one law James wants the Gentiles to pay attention to. Sex outside of marriage is wrong.

3. Things strangled, blood – James wants the Gentiles to avoid meet that has the blood in it – a law found in Lev. 17:11. Again another food issue, the issue of fellowship, keeping the Jewish believers from stumbling with the bloody meat.

It seems to me that in the context of this chapter, keeping these rules aren’t intended to bring salvation, but to keep people from stumbling. Salvation comes from God’s grace through faith. But it’s important that we be careful with the kinds of lives we live in order not to cause others from stumbling.

:22-29 Jerusalem decree sent out

:22 Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas who was also named Barsabas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren.

Silas – this is the fellow that will eventually be Paul’s traveling companion on future mission trips.

:23 They wrote this letter by them: The apostles, the elders, and the brethren, To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: Greetings.

:24 Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, "You must be circumcised and keep the law"; to whom we gave no such commandment;

:25 it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,

:26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

:27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth.

The letter along with four witnesses become a clear testimony of what the council has decided.

:28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things:

:29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.

:30-35 The news reaches Antioch

:30 So when they were sent off, they came to Antioch; and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the letter.

:31 When they had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement.

The church was glad to hear they didn’t have to become circumcised!

:32 Now Judas and Silas, themselves being prophets also, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words.

prophet – a person who speaks for God. God spoke through these men to encourage the church.

:33 And after they had stayed there for a time, they were sent back with greetings from the brethren to the apostles.

:34 However, it seemed good to Silas to remain there.

:35 Paul and Barnabas also remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.

:36-41 Paul and Barnabas split

:36 Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing."

This second missionary trip was not originally planned to do anything more than just go back and visit the places they had already been to. God will have other plans.

:37 Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark.

John Mark was Barnabas’ nephew.

:38 But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work.

We saw last week (Acts 13:13) that in the middle of their last mission trip, Mark had split and gone home to Jerusalem. When Paul and Barnabas had gone to Jerusalem for the council on the Gentiles, Mark must have come with them back to Antioch.

:39 Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus;

contentionparoxusmos – an inciting, incitement; irritation; being provoked to anger. We have a word “paroxysm” which means a sudden emotional outburst.

partedapochorizo – to separate, sever; to part asunder; to separate one’s self, depart from; it’s a word related to “divorce”

:40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God.

:41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Note: Paul, not Barnabas, is the one that was “commended” to the grace of God. This was the phrase used to describe how they had been sent out the first time from the Antioch church:

(Acts 14:26 NKJV) From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had completed.

Was this a good thing?

I’ve heard some say that instead of one missionary team, there are now two – that God worked it out for the good.

But it’s also interesting that we do not hear any more from Barnabas.

I think it’s a sad thing when splits occur in the church, not for doctrine, but because of personalities. But whether or not we like it, it does happen. It will continue to happen.

Syria and Cilicia – this time Paul goes overland from Antioch to visit the churches instead of starting out with the boat ride to Cyprus. See map.

Acts 16

:1-5 Strengthening the Galatian churches

:1 Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek.

Derbe and Lystra were the turnaround point on the last trip, but this trip they start there. Lystra was the city where Paul had been stoned and left for dead.

We mentioned last week when Paul had been stoned and was surrounded by disciples in Lystra, Timothy or his mother Eunice may have been in that circle. We can be pretty certain that Timothy either came to know the Lord through Paul’s earlier ministry, or he came to know the Lord afterwards by those who had come to Jesus on the earlier journey.

:2 He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium.

well spoken ofmartureo – to be a witness; the word speaks of a continuous (imperfect tense) witness of the people of Timothy’s character and ministry.

:3 Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek.

It’s interesting that even though the Jerusalem council clearly stated that a Gentile believer did not need to be circumcised in order to be saved, Paul has Timothy circumcised here.

Why? Not for Timothy’s salvation. He is circumcised in order to open doors for Timothy to be able to minister to Jewish people like Paul has been doing. Perhaps this had something to do with the fact that Timothy did have a Jewish mother, which would give him claim to being Jewish.

Paul did not circumcise every one of his Gentile disciples.

(Gal 2:3 NKJV) Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.

:4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem.

The cities of Lystra, Derbe, and Iconium were given the verdict of the Jerusalem council – salvation comes from grace, not circumcision.

:5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily.

:6-10 The Call to Macedonia

:6 Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.

Phrygia and Galatia – the area where Lystra, Derbe, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia were. See map.

Asia – or, “Asia Minor”, we know of the area as the western half of modern Turkey. See map.

forbiddenkoluo – to hinder, prevent, forbid

We would not usually think that God would “forbid” anyone to preach His word. But here Paul is somehow told not to preach the gospel in this area.

How were they forbidden? Circumstances? Secular legal trouble? An impression from the Lord? We don’t know.

Note: The gospel will be eventually preached in Asia, even by Paul. When John writes Revelation, it starts with the letters to the seven churches of Asia, this very region.


Sensitive to the Lord’s “no”

I wonder if sometimes things that I think are a “no-brainer” aren’t really so simple.
I wonder if sometimes things that I take for granted I ought to be doing are not necessarily things I ought to be doing.
If God said “no” to me, would I pay attention?

:7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.

Mysia – the region of northwest Turkey. See map.

Bithynia – north central Turkey See map.

did not permiteao – to allow, permit, let; to allow one to do as he wishes, not to restrain, to let alone

:8 So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas.

Troas – “a Trojan”, thought to be the site of ancient “Troy” on the west coast of modern Turkey. See map. Paul will come through Troas a couple of years later where he will hold a late night meeting with the church that developed there and a young man named Eutychus will fall asleep during Paul’s message, fall from the third story window, die, and then Paul will pray and he’s raised from the dead.

:9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us."

Macedonia – the northern part of Greece, including cities like Philippi and Thessalonica. See map.

:10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.

Some have suggested that the man in the vision was the author, Luke. If you are paying attention, this verse marks a difference in the way that Luke writes. From this point on Luke writes in the first person plural, “we”. “We sought to go to Macedonia

This will change at the end of the chapter where Luke apparently stays in Macedonia (16:40, “they … departed”) and later rejoins Paul six or seven years later when Paul comes back through Philippi and Luke joins him as he sails back to Troas (20:5-6).

:11-15 Lydia finds Jesus

:11 Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and the next day came to Neapolis,

:12 and from there to Philippi, which is the foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony. And we were staying in that city for some days.

Samothrace – an island in the Aegean sea. See map.

Neapolis – the seaport of the city of Philippi. See map.

Philippi – throughout the Roman empire the Romans turned certain cities into “colonies”. This was like having a little bit of “Rome” in a foreign country. It meant that those people in the empire who were blessed with Roman citizenship enjoyed the same rights and privileges that they would have if they were living in Italy.

Other colonies mentioned in Acts are Antioch in Pisidia, Lystra, Troas, Ptolemais, and Corinth.

:13 And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there.

If there were ten Jewish men living in a city, they were able to form a “synagogue” and hold services. The city of Philippi did not meet that requirement, so there was a place outside the city by the river where the Jewish women gathered to pray. Paul is keeping with his custom of entering a city and preaching first to the Jews before preaching to the Gentiles.

:14 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.

Lydia – this woman was apparently a wealthy merchant from the “Asian” city of Thyatira (Jesus would write a letter to that church in Revelation 2).

purple – an expensive dye that came from a certain shellfish, used to dye fabric purple. Thyatira was famous for it’s purple dye.

:15 And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." So she persuaded us.

Lydia’s house would become the first meeting place of the church in Philippi. Her faith in Jesus affected her entire household – they too were baptized with her.

:16-24 Paul and Silas jailed

:16 Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling.

This little girl was demon-possessed. The demon helped this girl tell people their fortunes.

Note: When it comes to things like fortune telling, there is plenty of fakery going on. There are plenty of people who just want to rip people off and make some bucks. But there also can be something evil and real going on. Demons have knowledge of things that they can share with the people they possess. Sometimes this knowledge is used to lure people into listening to the demons and then they can be led away from God. Stay away.

:17 This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, "These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation."

Notice that the girl is actually speaking the truth about Paul.

Is that so terrible? Isn’t any kind of advertising “good advertising”?

God prefers that people hear about Him from people who are connected to Him.

:18 And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And he came out that very hour.

I find it interesting that Paul doesn’t cast out the demon the first time he encounters it. For some reason he takes days before doing something about it.

It is also interesting that it’s Paul’s annoyance that leads him to do something.

:19 But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.

The demon was gone. The little girl lost her “magic”. The masters were furious.

They obviously weren’t concerned about the little girl. They were concerned about their pocketbooks. They wanted Paul to pay for his actions.

:20 And they brought them to the magistrates, and said, "These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city;

Under the Roman empire, the “official” religion was to worship the emperor. After that there were “licensed” religions that were allowed and Judaism was one of those licensed religions. Even though we see Paul and Silas as “Christians”, the world still saw Christianity as a sect of Judaism.

:21 "and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe."

:22 Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods.

:23 And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely.

:24 Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

:25-34 The Philippian Jailer saved

:25 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.


Singing at midnight

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time with understanding how I’m supposed to be rejoicing when I’m having a bad day. It’s important for me to understand why I can praise Him, even in the middle of the night. I tend to think that Paul and Silas are a bit crazy, but actually they have plenty of reasons to be giving God praise and honor.
1. Persecution
Paul and Silas are in a unique circumstance where they could actually praise God for their circumstance. Jesus had said,

(Mat 5:10-12 NKJV) Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. {11} "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. {12} "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Paul and Silas could actually look at the trouble they were in and know that they were acquiring rewards in heaven.

But that’s not always the case for our bad circumstances. If you’re in an auto accident, or have a severe illness, it’s not likely that it happened directly because of your being a Christian. There are more reasons to praise God.
2. His love
We have a rather twisted idea of love, at least compared to God’s kind of love.
We so often make our love such a conditional thing. When a person does something that we perceive to be hurtful, we shut off the love valve and start pouring out the hate.
God isn’t like that. His love doesn’t stop.

Jer 31:3 The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, [saying], Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.

This is what God’s love for you is like (according to Paul’s definition of agape) –

1Cor.13 – He is patient, willing to suffer a long time with you; always doing kind things for you. He’s not envious or jealous of you. He doesn’t put you down just to puff Himself up. He doesn’t behave rudely or inconsiderately toward you. He isn’t just seeking His will for His sake, but because it’s best for you. He isn’t easily ticked off at you. He doesn’t keep a list of your sins you’ve done against Him. He’s not pleased when there’s sin in your life; but is totally stoked when you learn to face the truth. He doesn’t spread gossip about you but instead keeps your sins to himself. He believes you have a future. He is willing to stick it out with you, through thick or thin.

You can praise Him for His unconditional, unending love for you.
3. His faithfulness
He will not let you down. You can count on Him.

(Deu 7:9 NKJV) "Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments;

He is the One who said,

(Heb 13:5 NKJV) …"I will never leave you nor forsake you."

The problem is that sometimes we jump to the wrong conclusion, thinking that our bad situation is a result somehow of God loosing track of us, or worse yet, that we’ve said that one thing that really ticked Him off, and now He’s out to get us!

Listen to a teacup tell it’s story:

“There was a time when I was a red lump of clay. My master took me and he rolled me and he patted me over and over and over. I yelled out “Let me alone “but he only smiled and said, “Not yet”. And then I was placed on a spinning wheel, suddenly I was spun around and around and around. “Stop it I’m getting dizzy,” I said. The master only nodded and said “Not yet” Then he put me in an oven, I’d never felt such heat. I wondered why he wanted to burn me and I yelled and I knocked on the door and I could see him through the opening and I could read his lips. As he nodded his head he said “not yet.” Finally the door did open “whew”, and he put me on a shelf and I began to cool. “That’s better” I said. And then suddenly he grabbed me and he brushed me and he began to paint me all over. I thought I would suffocate, I thought I would gag, the fumes were horrible. And he just smiled and said, “Not yet”. And then suddenly he put me back into an oven, not the first one but one twice as hot, and I knew that I was going to suffocate. And I begged and I screamed and I yelled, and all the time I could see him through the opening, smiling and nodding his head, “not yet, not yet”. And then I knew that there was no hope, I knew that I wouldn’t make it. I was just ready to give up when the door opened and he took me out and he put me on a shelf. Then an hour later he came back and he handed me a mirror and he said “Look at yourself”. And I did. And I said, “That can’t be me, I’m beautiful “

It’s not fun getting patted, spun, shaped, painted, and fired. But it’s because of the Potter’s love for the clay, and His faithfulness to finish what He starts. He’s making fine china.

Peter writes,

(1 Pet 4:19 NKJV)  Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.

You can praise Him for His faithfulness.

:26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed.


Praise breaks chains, not circumstances.

For Paul and Silas, their actual chains fell to the ground.  But as you’ll see later, they are still considered prisoners.
In a way, not all their circumstances changed.  But the chains were gone.
Chains of depression.
For some of us, the worst things we face are not what we perceive to be the reasons for our depression, but the very depression itself.

(Prov 15:15 NKJV)  All the days of the afflicted are evil, But he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.

There are many of us who quickly label ourselves “the afflicted”.  All we can focus on is our own problems.  And when we get done looking at our problems through our microscopes, boy are they big!!!

Instead, we need to turn our focus to the Lord, seeking His presence, and tasting His joy.  And we find ourselves surrounded with a feast, just as David wrote,

(Psa 23:5 NKJV)  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.

Chains of fear.
I think that one of the worst chains we face in life is that of fear, the “what ifs”.  What if it doesn’t work out?  What if I get hurt?  What if nobody likes me anymore?  What if I’m laid off?
David wrote,

(Psa 27:1 NKJV)  The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?

When I get a hold of His love and faithfulness, I realize that I am safe in His arms, perhaps I even begin to do something crazy like give God praise in the middle of the night while sitting in a prison.

:27 And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself.

The keeper knows he’ll be put to death anyway, he might as well do it himself.

:28 But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, "Do yourself no harm, for we are all here."

:29 Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.

:30 And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"

Notice what has led this man to ask how he can be saved.

It is not the financial prosperity and physical health of Paul and Silas.

It is how they handle themselves in the worst place they’d ever been.


Broken clay pots

Paul will later write,
(2 Cor 4:7-11 NKJV)  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. {8} We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; {9} persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; {10} always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. {11} For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

Paul is saying that the difficulties he’s experienced in life have caused people to see Jesus more clearly in his life.

It’s a little like the story of Gideon – God used a very small number of men to defeat a huge army.  Gideon’s men were to take trumpets, clay pots, and torches.  They put lit torches inside the clay pots and surrounded the enemy at night. When the signal was given, they broke the claypots, exposing the torches, blew their trumpets, and the enemy went crazy.

To see the light, you have to break the pot.

Sometimes we too have to be crushed in order for people to see Jesus at work in our lives.

:31 So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household."

Salvation comes from believing in the Lord Jesus.

I don’t think this is a blanket promise that your faith will save your family.  Each person needs to believe to be saved.

But your faith will affect your family.  Hopefully the people closest to you will see that something real has happened in your life.

:32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.

:33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized.

:34 Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.

:35-40 Paul leaves Philippi

:35 And when it was day, the magistrates sent the officers, saying, "Let those men go."

:36 So the keeper of the prison reported these words to Paul, saying, "The magistrates have sent to let you go. Now therefore depart, and go in peace."

:37 But Paul said to them, "They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison. And now do they put us out secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out."

Because Philippi was a Roman colony, and because Paul was a Roman citizen, he had certain rights, like that of a public trial.  Paul took advantage of those rights.

Because the scourging of any Roman citizen was prohibited by law, Paul and Silas already had some pretty major legal help on their side.

:38 And the officers told these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans.

:39 Then they came and pleaded with them and brought them out, and asked them to depart from the city.

:40 So they went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them and departed.

Note that the “brethren” were gathered at Lydia’s house.  Also note that Luke now switches back to third person, “they … departed…”, indicating that Luke stays behind in Philippi.