18 May 2015Acts 16:16-34
“He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.” (v. 34)
Psalm: Psalm 10:1-12
Paul and Silas were in Philippi - a Roman colony where veterans from the army were settled. It was an important place, near to the coast in what is now modern-day Greece. This passage shows Paul's usual pattern of evangelism. There was no possibility of standing on the street corner in a Roman colony - that would have had him and his fellow-preachers dragged off immediately. So Paul usually looked for where Jews worshipped - a synagogue if there was one or "a place of prayer" (Acts 16:13) - usually just outside the town. That is what he did in Philippi - found a prayer place near the river where women gathered to pray. (Were some of these Jewish women married to Greek men or a group of Gentile god-fearers?)
According to the passage Paul did not have to do much preaching. We read of Lydia whose heart was opened when Paul simply spoke (Acts 16:14). Paul must have been knocking on an open door. We read that Lydia, a wealthy businesswoman was baptized with all her household (Acts 16:15). They were not required to believe certain doctrines - they acknowledged Jesus as Lord and began their pilgrimage of faith as a household. We then have the odd story of how Paul drove a spirit from a girl who had been 'prophesying' and making money for her minders. They promptly had Paul and Silas thrown into jail for distorting their business.
When an earthquake opened the doors of the jail and released all the prisoners, the jailer feared for his life. When he found Paul and Silas just standing there he asked them how he could get out of the mess he was in. "Believe in Jesus," he was told (v. 31). The jailer and his household believed.
- When you are visiting a new place, especially in a foreign country, how do you try to link up with the Christian community?
- In this passage two households 'believed in Jesus' and were brought into the Church. To what extent are our processes and practices for bringing people into the church too complicated? What might we do differently?