The Story of His Church List

Into Europe

The first Macedonian city they visited was Philippi. Since only a few Jews lived in that city, they had no synagogue. Each Sabbath they met to pray outside the city by the river. On the Sabbath Paul and his friends left the city to find the place where the Jews met. A few women had gathered by the river. Paul and his friends sat down and taught 

them about Jesus, God's Son. 

While Paul talked, he noticed that one woman, Lydia, listened most eagerly. She believed his words about Jesus and knew her sins were forgiven. Lydia and all her household believed and were baptized.

When the riverside service was over, Lydia told Paul and his friends, "If you think I am faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my house." The missionaries accepted her invitation, and while they were in Philippi, they stayed at the home of this rich woman.

At another time, an angry mob made its way down the streets of Philippi to the city prison. The leaders of the mob half dragged two men along. At the prison they turned the two over to the jailer.

The two men were Paul and Silas, the Christian missionaries. Because they had helped an unhappy slave girl, they were being punished by these heathen people. This is how it happened:

Each day Paul and Silas and their friends walked through the streets on their way to the riverside to pray. Each day a slave girl saw them. Everyone heard her call out loudly, "These men are the servants of the most high God. They have come to show us the way of salvation!" The slave girl was not herself, for she was filled with an evil spirit. By the power of this evil spirit she could tell about the future. Her masters made much money from her fortune telling.

After several days Paul became annoyed because the evil spirit tormented this girl. Finally he turned and said to the evil spirit, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her."

Immediately the evil spirit departed, and the girl was herself again. No longer could she tell about the future, for the evil spirit was gone. When her masters discovered this, they were furious. She could not earn money for them now. They grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them through the market place to the rulers of the city.

They told the rulers, "These Jews are causing a great deal of trouble in our city by teaching strange customs. It would be against the law for us Romans to accept or practice these customs."

The crowd shouted out against Paul and Silas. The officials ordered that Paul and Silas were to be beaten. This done, the officers ordered the jailer to put these dangerous prisoners in the inner prison and fasten their feet in stocks.

Paul and Silas found themselves alone in the dark, smelly room. How their backs hurt! But Paul and Silas were not like the other prisoners. They did not complain because they had been mistreated. Instead they talked to each other about God and his great love. At midnight they prayed and sang praises to God.

The other prisoners heard the prayers and the songs. Why were these two men so happy? Surely they had been beaten enough to make them sad!

Suddenly a great earthquake shook the foundations of the prison. The locked doors swung open. Even the stocks on the apostles' feet came unfastened.

The jailer awakened and saw the prison doors swing open. Terrified he ran to the prison. He knew the rulers would kill him if even one man escaped. Believing that the prisoners had all escaped, he drew his sword to kill himself.

Paul cried out in the darkness, "Do not harm yourself! We are all here."

The jailer called for a candle and rushed into the prison. There he saw all the prisoners, Paul and Silas among them.

Now the jailer knew Paul and Silas could not be dangerous men. They must be men of God just as the slave girl had said. Trembling, he fell at their feet, crying, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"

They said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved." And everyone in the prison heard about Jesus Christ, the Savior of men.

The jailer believed and his heart was filled with joy. All his household turned to the Lord. He took Paul and Silas to his house, washed their wounds, and bandaged their backs. Then he brought food for them to eat. Instead of treating Paul and Silas like prisoners, he treated them like guests.

Before morning Paul and Silas baptized the jailer and his household. Together they rejoiced in the Lord.

In the morning the officials sent word to the jailer, "Let those men go!"

But Paul answered, "We are Romans. The rulers had us punished without a trial and put us in prison. Do they think they can get rid of us this easily? No, let them come and set us free."

When the rulers heard this, they were frightened. It could go hard with them for mistreating Roman citizens. Quickly they came to the jailer's house and begged Paul and Silas to leave the city.

Before leaving Philippi, the missionaries went back to Lydia's house and encouraged the Christians. After telling them goodbye, Paul and Silas went on to another place.

Years afterward Paul wrote a letter to the church in Philippi. That letter is in your Bible. It is called Phillipians.


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