Paul’s having Timothy circumcised (v. 3) did not mean he gave in to unbelieving Jews. Rather, they adopted a practice taught in the OT for Jews to enable ministry in synagogues for increased usefulness (cf. 1 Cor 9:19-23). The Holy Spirit’s direction where to go preach the gospel wasn’t given by “impressions” or feelings. Rather, the Spirit spoke through Paul who was an apostle and Silas a prophet, gifts present then but not now.
When entering a new city to preach the gospel, the preachers’ practice was to go first to a Jewish synagogue. There was none in Philippi (at least 10 Jewish men were needed), so they went where the few Jews of the city gathered for prayer, taught them about Jesus, and Lydia was saved and baptized (vv. 11-15). By God’s grace a demon-possessed slave girl was freed, but those without God’s grace completely misinterpreted what happened (vv. 16-19), resulting in false charges and imprisonment for Paul and Silas (vv. 20-24).
The Philippian jailer’s question (v. 30) didn’t come out of the blue—he had been listening to Paul and Silas’ singing, praying, and testifying for hours! As a result he and other souls in the jailer’s home heard the gospel, believed in Christ, and were baptized (vv. 31-34).
Paul’s response to the magistrates’ request (vv. 35-37) was not out of spite for the new Philippian church’s testimony, as they had been publicly slandered (vv. 20-21).
Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On
- The grace Jesus showed in this chapter is the same grace he shows today. He supplies laborers for the harvest field, strengthens churches, directs the spread of the Word, and saves souls. Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus!
- What God commands must be obeyed by faith. When you read what God has given in the Bible, no matter what doubts you have you must not wait for better times and conditions but trust him and his grace and obey!
- Persevere in difficult times by Christ’s grace. People are watching…and listening! You may not know how things will turn out; leave that to the Lord, just trust and obey him!
- Baptism always follows faith. There are some who insist that infants would have been in households (v. 33) and thus would have been baptized. The text, however, is very clear that the gospel was spoken to the household (v. 32), that those in the household who believed would be saved (v. 31), and that all in the household believed in God (v. 34).