Paul & Silas reach Philippi and employ their normal church planting strategy of preaching the Gospel with signs and wonders, causing a riot and finally leaving a greatly encouraged fledgling church. I’ve not done it that way yet, but there’s still time!
The exploited slave girl has a demon, literally a python spirit and Paul is greatly disturbed (probably a better translation than annoyed) by her following them and shouting out that they are followers of the Most High God, who proclaim the way of salvation. She is saying the right things, but by a demon. So Paul commands the spirit to come out. The slave girl’s owners saw their hope of gain “had gone” – using the same verb – as the spirit had gone out, their hope of gain had gone out. They stir up a riot and Paul and Silas end in jail.
In the midst of darkness and suffering, they worship – that’s a key principle for life. When things are bad, worship, when things are good, worship. God shakes the jail and the chains fall off. The Philippian jailer is about to commit suicide as he would be executed if there was a jailbreak. He finds them still there and he and his household get saved and baptised immediately. The jailer washes their wounds and the apostles wash him clean with baptism.
It’s a disparate group of new disciples that kick off the Philippi church plant. A wealthy business woman, Lydia, an exploited slave girl and a jailer. There are three ways in which they are so different.
Nationally – Lydia is an immigrant, the slave girl was most likely local and the jailer is probably a Roman citizen, as jailers were usually army veterans.
Socially – Lydia was wealthy, the slave girl was oppressed and exploited, the jailer was in official in government service.
Personal point of need of the Gospel – they were all sinners in need of saving, but each one has an initial presenting need. Lydia’s need was intellectual, she kept listening – v.14, the slave girl had been exploited and demonised, the jailer’s need was clearly moral.
A wealthy business woman, an exploited slave girl and a rough Roman jailer are now brothers and sisters.
As society disintegrates and our nation is a “hostile environment”, the Gospel and local churches like ours bring people together in Christ as one new man. Let’s go for it!