Paul and Silas in Philippi

by Mike Ratliff

Ἀναχθέντες δὲ ἀπὸ Τρῳάδος εὐθυδρομήσαμεν εἰς Σαμοθρᾴκην, τῇ δὲ ἐπιούσῃ εἰς Νέαν πόλιν κἀκεῖθεν εἰς Φιλίππους, ἥτις ἐστὶν πρώτη[ς] μερίδος τῆς Μακεδονίας πόλις, κολωνία. Ἦμεν δὲ ἐν ταύτῃ τῇ πόλει διατρίβοντες ἡμέρας τινάς. (Acts 16:11-12 NA27)

And having set sail from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and on the next day to Neapolis and from there to Philippi, which is a prominent city of the District of Macedonia, a colony, and we stayed in this city some days. (a personal translation of Acts 16:11-12  from the NA27 Greek text)

As you know, Paul’s friend and companion Luke wrote the book of Acts in the New Testament. In Acts 16:10, we read that after Paul and seen the vision to leave Asia and come to Europe after seeking the will of God for next focus of his missionary journey, Luke includes himself in the narrative as an eyewitness, therefore, his account of what happened to Paul and Silas in Philippi are given as one who was there. 

In the passage above, Troas was a major Aegean port 14 miles south of ancient Troy and the primary Asian harbor for ships bound for Macedonia. Samothrace was an island on the direct route between Troas and Neapolis, the port for Philippi, which lay 8.5 miles inland. Philippi was a Roman colony, which means that is held the most privileged status for provincial cities.

τῇ τε ἡμέρᾳ τῶν σαββάτων ἐξήλθομεν ἔξω τῆς πύλης παρὰ ποταμὸν οὗ ἐνομίζομεν προσευχὴν εἶναι, καὶ καθίσαντες ἐλαλοῦμεν ταῖς συνελθούσαις γυναιξίν. καί τις γυνὴ ὀνόματι Λυδία, πορφυρόπωλις πόλεως Θυατείρων σεβομένη τὸν θεόν, ἤκουεν, ἧς ὁ κύριος διήνοιξεν τὴν καρδίαν προσέχειν τοῖς λαλουμένοις ὑπὸ τοῦ Παύλου. ὡς δὲ ἐβαπτίσθη καὶ ὁ οἶκος αὐτῆς, παρεκάλεσεν λέγουσα· εἰ κεκρίκατέ με πιστὴν τῷ κυρίῳ εἶναι, εἰσελθόντες εἰς τὸν οἶκόν μου μένετε· καὶ παρεβιάσατο ἡμᾶς. (Acts 16:13-15 NA27)

And on the day of the Sabbaths, we went outside the gate beside a river where we were supposing there would be a place of prayer, and having sat down, we were speaking with the assembled women. And a certain women named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth of the city of Thyatira, worshiping God, was listening, of whom the lord opened her heart to pay attention to the things being spoken by Paul. And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, enter into my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us. (a personal translation of Acts 16:13-15 from the NA27 Greek text)

The fact that there was a few people gathered at the river on the Sabbath to pray reveals that there must have been a small Jewish population in Philippi. Lydia was not Jewish, but was σεβομένη τὸν θεόν, that is, “worshiping God.” That means she was a Gentile “God fearer” as were the other women with her. Notice her conversion. Paul simply spoke, but it was the Lord who opened her heart to believe what Paul was saying, which was, of course, the Gospel. She and her household believed and were baptized. She persuaded the entire missionary team to make her home their headquarters while in Philippi.

Ἐγένετο δὲ πορευομένων ἡμῶν εἰς τὴν προσευχὴν παιδίσκην τινὰ ἔχουσαν πνεῦμα πύθωνα ὑπαντῆσαι ἡμῖν, ἥτις ἐργασίαν πολλὴν παρεῖχεν τοῖς κυρίοις αὐτῆς μαντευομένη. αὕτη κατακολουθοῦσα τῷ Παύλῳ καὶ ἡμῖν ἔκραζεν λέγουσα· οὗτοι οἱ ἄνθρωποι δοῦλοι τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ὑψίστου εἰσίν, οἵτινες καταγγέλλουσιν ὑμῖν ὁδὸν σωτηρίας. τοῦτο δὲ ἐποίει ἐπὶ πολλὰς ἡμέρας. διαπονηθεὶς δὲ Παῦλος καὶ ἐπιστρέψας τῷ πνεύματι εἶπεν· παραγγέλλω σοι ἐν ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐξελθεῖν ἀπ᾽ αὐτῆς· καὶ ἐξῆλθεν αὐτῇ τῇ ὥρᾳ. (Acts 16:16-18 NA27)

And it came about when we were going to the place of prayer that a certain salve girl having a spirit of the Python came out to meet us who was bringing much profit to her masters by her prophesying. As she was following Paul and us, she was crying out saying, “These men are slaves of the most high God who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation!”  And this she was doing for many days, but having become annoyed, Paul, having turned to the Spirit said, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out from her!” And it came out that same hour. (a personal translation of Acts 16:16-18 from the NA27 Greek text)

The evil spirit Paul cast out knew all about them and their mission. He could not stop them. He could not thwart them. The power of our Lord Jesus Christ is preeminent. However, this spirit of the Python had the power to speak through the mouth of this poor slave girl to prophesy and when she did around Paul and the rest of the missionary team, all he could speak was the truth, but Paul commanded the evil spirit to depart her in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and it was so. Should we be surprised about this? Some today are actually seeking to flirt with familiar spirits like this “spirit of the Python.” Those who do so yet claim to be Christian prove they are not by this foolishness for this is nothing but evil.

Ἰδόντες δὲ οἱ κύριοι αὐτῆς ὅτι ἐξῆλθεν ἡ ἐλπὶς τῆς ἐργασίας αὐτῶν, ἐπιλαβόμενοι τὸν Παῦλον καὶ τὸν Σιλᾶν εἵλκυσαν εἰς τὴν ἀγορὰν ἐπὶ τοὺς ἄρχοντας καὶ προσαγαγόντες αὐτοὺς τοῖς στρατηγοῖς εἶπαν· οὗτοι οἱ ἄνθρωποι ἐκταράσσουσιν ἡμῶν τὴν πόλιν, Ἰουδαῖοι ὑπάρχοντες, καὶ καταγγέλλουσιν ἔθη ἃ οὐκ ἔξεστιν ἡμῖν παραδέχεσθαι οὐδὲ ποιεῖν Ῥωμαίοις οὖσιν. καὶ συνεπέστη ὁ ὄχλος κατ᾽ αὐτῶν καὶ οἱ στρατηγοὶ περιρήξαντες αὐτῶν τὰ ἱμάτια ἐκέλευον ῥαβδίζειν, πολλάς τε ἐπιθέντες αὐτοῖς πληγὰς ἔβαλον εἰς φυλακὴν παραγγείλαντες τῷ δεσμοφύλακι ἀσφαλῶς τηρεῖν αὐτούς. ὃς παραγγελίαν τοιαύτην λαβὼν ἔβαλεν αὐτοὺς εἰς τὴν ἐσωτέραν φυλακὴν καὶ τοὺς πόδας ἠσφαλίσατο αὐτῶν εἰς τὸ ξύλον. (Acts 16:19-24 NA27)

And her masters having seen that the hope of their profit was gone, having seized Paul and Silas they dragged them into the agora before the authorities. And having brought them to the Chief Magistrates, they said, “These men are disturbing our city, being Jews, and they are proclaiming customs which are not permitted for us to accept nor to do, being Romans.” And the crowd rose up together against them and the Chief Magistrates, having torn of their garments, were commanding them to be beaten. Having inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into jail, having ordered the Jailer to guard them securely, who having received such an order, threw them into the inner jail and fastened their feet in the stock. (a personal translation of Acts 16:19-24 from the NA27 Greek text)

The loss of profit was then and is still in our day a major motivation for the opposition to the true Gospel. The rough treatment given to Paul and Silas by the magistrates was at least partially due to their response to the unruly crowd. They were beaten with wooden rods. This was not a fair trial at all. Paul himself referred to in 1 Thessalonians 2:2 as his being “Shamefully treated at Philippi.” He and Silas were thrown bleeding into a damp and dark prison with their feet bound in the stock. This in itself would have been painful.

Κατὰ δὲ τὸ μεσονύκτιον Παῦλος καὶ Σιλᾶς προσευχόμενοι ὕμνουν τὸν θεόν, ἐπηκροῶντο δὲ αὐτῶν οἱ δέσμιοι. ἄφνω δὲ σεισμὸς ἐγένετο μέγας ὥστε σαλευθῆναι τὰ θεμέλια τοῦ δεσμωτηρίου· ἠνεῴχθησαν δὲ παραχρῆμα αἱ θύραι πᾶσαι καὶ πάντων τὰ δεσμὰ ἀνέθη. ἔξυπνος δὲ γενόμενος ὁ δεσμοφύλαξ καὶ ἰδὼν ἀνεῳγμένας τὰς θύρας τῆς φυλακῆς, σπασάμενος [τὴν] μάχαιραν ἤμελλεν ἑαυτὸν ἀναιρεῖν νομίζων ἐκπεφευγέναι τοὺς δεσμίους. ἐφώνησεν δὲ μεγάλῃ φωνῇ [ὁ] Παῦλος λέγων· μηδὲν πράξῃς σεαυτῷ κακόν, ἅπαντες γάρ ἐσμεν ἐνθάδε. αἰτήσας δὲ φῶτα εἰσεπήδησεν καὶ ἔντρομος γενόμενος προσέπεσεν τῷ Παύλῳ καὶ [τῷ] Σιλᾷ καὶ προαγαγὼν αὐτοὺς ἔξω ἔφη· κύριοι, τί με δεῖ ποιεῖν ἵνα σωθῶ; οἱ δὲ εἶπαν· πίστευσον ἐπὶ τὸν κύριον Ἰησοῦν καὶ σωθήσῃ σὺ καὶ ὁ οἶκός σου. καὶ ἐλάλησαν αὐτῷ τὸν λόγον τοῦ κυρίου σὺν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ. καὶ παραλαβὼν αὐτοὺς ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ὥρᾳ τῆς νυκτὸς ἔλουσεν ἀπὸ τῶν πληγῶν, καὶ ἐβαπτίσθη αὐτὸς καὶ οἱ αὐτοῦ πάντες παραχρῆμα, ἀναγαγών τε αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸν οἶκον παρέθηκεν τράπεζαν καὶ ἠγαλλιάσατο πανοικεὶ πεπιστευκὼς τῷ θεῷ. (Acts 16:25-34 NA27)

And about Midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the prisoners were listening to them. And suddenly there came a great earthquake so as the foundations of the jail were shaken and the all the doors were immediately opened and the chains of everyone were unfastened. The jailer, having become awake, and having seen the doors of the jail having been opened, having drawn the sword, he was bout to kill himself thinking the prisoners had run away. But Paul shouted with a loud voice saying, “Do nothing to harm yourself, for we are all here.” And having asked for lights, he rushed in with trembling and fear, he fell down before Paul and Silas, and having led them outside, he said, “Sirs, what must I do that I may be saved?” And they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you and your house will be saved. And they spoke to him the word of the Lord with all the ones in his house. And having taken them in that hour of the night, he washing their wounds, and he and his house were baptized at once. And having led them to the house, he set before them a table and was overjoyed with the whole household having believed in God. (a personal translation of Acts 16:25-34 from the NA27 Greek text)

What a remarkable account of God’s grace! Paul and Silas were in pain with their feet in the stock, but were praying to God and singing hymns to God. Then an earthquake sets everyone in the prison free, but no one escapes. When the jailer is about to kill himself, being responsible for the delivery of those prisoners, Paul calls to him that all is well and that they are all still in prison. Why do you suppose the jailer asked the question he asked? Most certainly, he also heard the prayers and hymns of Paul and Silas just as the prisoners did. Isn’t part of the Gospel the bringing to our knowledge our guilt before our Holy God of the sin debt that we cannot pay? God had opened the man’s heart to understand that. When he realized his prisoners had not escaped, suddenly realized he owed a far greater debt to God. That was why he asked that. The answer was what? They told him to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, he and his entire household, but they did not stop there. Notice that in the very next verse that they spoke to him and his household the Word of God. The man and his family and all in his household believed and were baptized. He joyfully washed the wounds of Paul and Silas and prepared a table for them.

Ἡμέρας δὲ γενομένης ἀπέστειλαν οἱ στρατηγοὶ τοὺς ῥαβδούχους λέγοντες· ἀπόλυσον τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἐκείνους. ἀπήγγειλεν δὲ ὁ δεσμοφύλαξ τοὺς λόγους [τούτους] πρὸς τὸν Παῦλον ὅτι ἀπέσταλκαν οἱ στρατηγοὶ ἵνα ἀπολυθῆτε· νῦν οὖν ἐξελθόντες πορεύεσθε ἐν εἰρήνῃ. 3ὁ δὲ Παῦλος ἔφη πρὸς αὐτούς· δείραντες ἡμᾶς δημοσίᾳ ἀκατακρίτους, ἀνθρώπους Ῥωμαίους ὑπάρχοντας, ἔβαλαν εἰς φυλακήν, καὶ νῦν λάθρᾳ ἡμᾶς ἐκβάλλουσιν; οὐ γάρ, ἀλλὰ ἐλθόντες αὐτοὶ ἡμᾶς ἐξαγαγέτωσαν. ἀπήγγειλαν δὲ τοῖς στρατηγοῖς οἱ ῥαβδοῦχοι τὰ ῥήματα ταῦτα. ἐφοβήθησαν δὲ ἀκούσαντες ὅτι Ῥωμαῖοί εἰσιν, καὶ ἐλθόντες παρεκάλεσαν αὐτοὺς καὶ ἐξαγαγόντες ἠρώτων ἀπελθεῖν ἀπὸ τῆς πόλεως. ἐξελθόντες δὲ ἀπὸ τῆς φυλακῆς εἰσῆλθον πρὸς τὴν Λυδίαν καὶ ἰδόντες παρεκάλεσαν τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς καὶ ἐξῆλθαν. (Acts 35-40 NA27)

And day have come, the Magistrates sent the policemen saying, “Release those men.” The jailer reported these words to Paul, “The Magistrates have sent that you may be released. Now, therefore depart and go in peace.” But Paul said to them, “Having beaten us in public being uncondemned Roman men, they threw us into jail, and now secretly they are sending us out? No indeed, but have them come and let them lead us out themselves.” And the policemen reported to the magistrates these words and they were afraid having heard that they were Romans. And having come, they begged them and having brought them out, they asked them to depart from the city. Had having come out from the jail, they came to Lydia and having seen them, they encouraged the brothers and went out. (a personal translation of Acts 35-40 from the NA27 Greek text)

True Christianity is apolitical. Sorry, Paul did what he did here to make sure that the city and the authorities understood that the Church was no threat to Roman authority as long as that authority did not demand religious allegiance such as Caesar worship. In any case, he wanted everyone in Philippi to understand also that a mistake had been made with the way he and Silas had been treated. Christians are to be good citizens, but God’s rule is over all. The New Testament is full of admonitions for believers to obey the civil authorities as long as we are not commanded to disobey God. Nothing has changed.

Soli Deo Gloria!

20 thoughts on “Paul and Silas in Philippi

  1. This exact same picture of Paul was on my mind today as I emailed you. Paul was irritated with the woman and the evil spirit, but he did not move in the flesh, rather he waited what amounts to days before the Holy Spirit moved to have him cast out the demon.
    In another story, earlier, in Acts Peter is asked for money from a crippled man, and in the Spirit, he replies silver I do not have, but what I do, I give you…healing in Jesus name. Later when asked Peter properly gives the credit to Jesus whom ye crucified. These are 2 stellar examples of men of God being moved by the spirit, and responding biblically. There are so many more examples we can learn from there in Scripture as well. The evil spirits can never stand up to the biblical standard even when they would call down fire from heaven. Further these today who claim to move in another paradign as the many annointed ones, are sons and daughters of the serpant, no matter how good the work appears to be.
    I can think of no incidences in scripture where the Holy Spirit lead a man to do something that wasn’t all for Jesus’ glory, nor was it anything remotely extra-biblical, nor did the man of God profit from it. Rather it brought persecution, and yet a cause to glory for that persecution for His Name’s sake.

    We are entering a political season which is going to ask Christians to compromise the Word of God for pragmatic least of all evil, choices. God’s Discernment is needed now more than ever before. Compromising God’s standards brings nothing but judgement upon men and nations. The choices this election will be compelling yet compromising at the same time.

    “If my people, that is, those who CALL themselves by My Name, would humble THEMSELVES, and turn from THEIR WICKED WAYS, then I would again hear from heaven, and may even heal their land. (A personal interpretation)
    Also, When you pray do not come with vain repetitions, as the heathen do, FOR YOUR GOD KNOWS WHAT YOU NEED ALREADY, rather pray in this way…Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be YOUR NAME. YOUR Kingdom come YOUR WILL BE DONE here on earth JUST EXACTLY AS IT IS DONE IN HEAVEN…Any argurers left in heaven? No they are all cast down here! (also a personal interpretation)
    The picture here is as if we are greedy children pestering mom in the junk food isle at the grocery store for our will. Not caring for what is best for us, just trying to manipulate a flesh blessing…
    We have so much to learn, so much more to be decreased… He that began a good work in us is faithful to complete that work. We must fall on the Rock of Ages, or be crushed by Him.

    Mike, I so appreciate your work here, as well as the maturity of your regular commenters. He IS building His Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against us, who are in Him!


  2. Thanks Mickey! Yes, there is that fine line isn’t there. So many who claim to have that word from God really don’t and are just be manipulative. That standard is very high and always costly. Yes, the visible Church is sick and dying, but the true Church is being built up and is doing just fine because Christ is doing it not men.


  3. If Carol from “Excuse me Dr Piper” would re-read my comment there, and our comments here, she would see that the issue isn’t hearing from God via the Holy Spirit, but rather, those who so often make the claims, never test the spirits, nor warn others to test the spirits. Further, they become elevated, even though they may say they “give God all the glory.” Peter knew who had the glory, and he knew he himself had none to give. The cost of being used is total surrender and total humiliation/ persecution. Also it is quite rare an event, even for the Apostles!
    Manfred is right, and today the number one thing that christians seem to avoid is the Word and being disciplined enough to study it diligently, which will take a lifetime to scratch the surface of His revealed will. So many read the Word, or rather books about the Word as if it were any other book. They also chase the Living Word with the same desire, which is what can I benefit from it/Him. The Word is Jesus, and if we avoid the Word we really are saying I don’t want to spend time with Him.
    Thus we need to be ever in the Word asking Lord what is Your will. The Word tells us that God’s will is that Jesus would have the pre-emminence in EVERYTHING. What really drives this desire for hidden extra knowlege is our evil wickedness, and so many chase after an extra word because they are unwilling or unable to hear from Him. Our two greatest gifts for learning of Him, is the Bible in context, as revealed by the second gift, the Holy Spirit whose calling it is to reveal the meaning of the Living Word. Till we have exhausted the Word, and the Holy Spirit, we need be content with these wonderful things He left us with as no orphans!


  4. This post is a sign! (That’s meant as a joke that anyone who listens to the sermon linked below will understand.) We are all to quick to listen to anything OTHER than the Word of God – which tells us our ears never tire of hearing a new thing. And we do NOT test what we listen to to see if lines up with the Word of God – which tells us that God’s people go astray when they behave that way. So what is influencing people who care not for the Scriptures? Could it be the Spirit of the Age? That’s the message we heard from Voddie Baucham this past Lord’s Day, from Romans 12:2 –


  5. I sure appreciate Voddie’s guiding, which is what an undershepherd should be doing instead of running a corporation by following Peter Drucker’s New Age business models. Here is a piece I found that speaks to the election ahead. Your choices will be, more of the same, or a Mormon, or Dominion Theology in the white house. What folks do not understand is that our choices appear to be two party choices, when they are really nominal/luke warm, and either Fabian Socialists or Marxist Socialists. Look up those terms and you will quickly be able to see which former presidents, or candidates each is.
    The best way to pull down a christian nation is to give them everything they desire, promise them everything, get their mind off of the Lord as Shepherd and onto the government as shepherd, then once they realize they can vote money out of the public coffers for their benefit, God is forgotten in their luke warmness and annointed men of great natural ability will be their gods.
    Also, if you think that what is going on in the world, and in particular this country is an accident, I encourage you to open this political cartoon that I have personnaly carried in my money management business for several years now.
    This world is Satan’s domain. He had the ability to give Jesus what he promised Him. Jesus responded always with God’s Word in context. Satan IS DEFEATED, we who are in Him are victorious, yet he still is on his little earthy throne. Satan runs the mammon system guy. He comes as an angel of light and so do his ministers, these many streams of evil are coming together, particularly in the “church” systems. Educate yourselves, pray hard for discernment, and teach/warn others.
    Finally be thankful for discernment/watchman blogs llike Mike’s here, while using the Word in context to test ALL things!


  6. Voddie is a humble man who hangs out with family and children rather than seeking those who want to worship him. He trusts God and trains up men to serve the Lord. Almost 3 years since we’ve joined with this little church and I am still giddy with joy.


  7. Oh man! Manfred you have one of my favorite childhood cartoon charicters as your Avitar, and one of my favorite preachers as your guide. What you say about him comes through in his sermons too. O.K. I getting close to coveting, so now I have to back off. LOL Manfred, I always appreciated your blog posts over at Def Con as well. You appear to be grounded, and sound. Thanks brother for your talk and your walk!


  8. Mickey Merrie,
    #1 – you are too kind, but thank you for your encouragement
    #2 – if you used Firefox you could have a spell chequer plugin that works on blogs 🙂


  9. I’m just a 286 in a pentium world…I’ll have to have my 13 year old upgrade my web browser and teach me all this stuff. While he’s at it, maybe he can replace my 8-track in my car with a cassette or something. The only reason I upgraded to the KJV was because My Geneva Bible finally wore out! He thinks my felkt board should be replaced with something called a power point too! But I’m NEVER giving up my Oxblood Wingtips…NO WAY!!! :0


  10. Is that the one where Jesus is on the outside knocking on the door of the church for fellowship? The one where the folks sitting in the pews think it is a salvation message for someone else, so they don’t bother to get the door?
    The one where they think they are rich and have it made, yet He Who sees clearly sees them as poor wretched blind and naked?
    Naw…Not us today! Why we just had a move of god this past week when the 7th bank we asked for a loan for the coffee shop expansion, gave it to us at only 6.66% for 7 years! Now we know that is a move of god because our lead pastor said any time you see the number 7 that is gods number for perfection and completion/ which is what we needed to complete phase 2 of our stewardship campaign. Now if he will just bless us with the other 2 parts, we can get the extra loan and build the youth center complete with climbing walls and a mosh pit!
    No Mike, you must be mistaken! We are taking DOMINION here, we are blessed and he can’t return till we fix everything…you need to drive across town to IHOP and get in the spirit!
    Sad really….How true you are!


  11. I agree with carolynb – MickeyMerrie, you’re a hoot! And it coulda been my former church – which has a $7M debt for its fancy “worship center”. It must be PERFECT!


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