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May 26: Acts 16

May 26: Acts 16

Timothy Joins Paul and Silas

16 Paul and Silas came to the city of Derbe and then went on to Lystra,[a] the hometown of a believer named Timothy. His mother was a Jewish follower of Jesus, but his father was not a Jew.[b] 2 Timothy was well known and highly respected among all the believers of Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul recognized God’s favor on Timothy’s life and wanted him to accompany them in ministry, but Paul had Timothy circumcised first because of the significant Jewish community living in the region, and everyone knew that Timothy’s father wasn’t a Jew.

4 They went out together as missionaries, traveling to different cities where they preached and informed the churches of the decrees of the apostolic council of Jerusalem for the non-Jewish converts to observe. 5 All the churches were growing daily and were encouraged and strengthened in their faith.

Paul’s Vision of the Man from Macedonia

6 The Holy Spirit had forbidden Paul and his partners to preach the word in the southwestern provinces of Turkey,[c] so they ministered throughout the region of central and west-central Turkey.[d] 7 When they got as far west as the borders of Mysia, they repeatedly attempted to go north into the province of Bithynia,[e] but again the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to enter.[f] 8 So instead they went right on through the province of Mysia to the seaport of Troas.

9 While staying there Paul experienced a supernatural, ecstatic vision during the night. A man from Macedonia appeared before him, pleading with him, “You must come across the sea to Macedonia and help us!”

10 After Paul had this vision, we[g] immediately prepared to cross over to Macedonia, convinced that God himself was calling us to go and preach the wonderful news of the gospel to them.

Paul Arrives at Philippi

11 From Troas we sailed a straight course to the island of Samothrace, and the next day to Neapolis. 12 Finally we reached Philippi, a major city[h] in the Roman colony of Macedonia, and we remained there for a number of days.[i]

13 When the Sabbath day came, we went outside the gates of the city to the nearby river, for there appeared to be a house of prayer and worship there.[j] Sitting on the riverbank we struck up a conversation with some of the women who had gathered there. 14 One of them was Lydia, a businesswoman from the city of Thyatira who was a dealer of exquisite purple cloth[k] and a Jewish convert. While Paul shared the good news with her, God opened her heart to receive Paul’s message.[l] 15 She devoted herself to the Lord, and we baptized her and her entire family. Afterward she urged us to stay in her home, saying, “Since I am now a believer in the Lord, come and stay in my house.” So we were persuaded to stay there.

The Python Spirit

16 One day, as we were going to the house of prayer, we encountered a young slave girl who had an evil spirit of divination, the spirit of Python.[m] She had earned great profits for her owners by being a fortune-teller.

17 She kept following us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Great High God, and they’re telling us how to be saved!”

18 Day after day she continued to do this, until Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit indwelling her, “I command you in the name of Jesus, the Anointed One, to come out of her, now!” At that very moment, the spirit came out of her!

19 When her owners realized that their potential of making profit had vanished, they forcefully seized Paul and Silas and dragged them off to the city square to face the authorities.

20 When they appeared before the Roman soldiers and magistrates, the slave owners leveled accusations against them, saying, “These Jews are troublemakers. They’re throwing our city into confusion. 21 They’re pushing their Jewish religion down our throats. It’s wrong and unlawful for them to promote these Jewish ways, for we are Romans living in a Roman colony.”

22 A great crowd gathered, and all the people joined in to come against them. The Roman officials ordered that Paul and Silas be stripped of their garments and beaten with rods on their bare backs.

Miracles Can Come Out of Painful Places

23 After they were severely beaten, they were thrown into prison and the jailer was commanded to guard them securely. 24 So the jailer placed them in the innermost cell of the prison and had their feet bound and chained.[n]

25 Paul and Silas, undaunted, prayed in the middle of the night and sang songs of praise to God, while all the other prisoners listened to their worship.

26 Suddenly, a great earthquake shook the foundations of the prison. All at once every prison door flung open and the chains of all the prisoners came loose.

27 Startled, the jailer awoke and saw every cell door standing open. Assuming that all the prisoners had escaped, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself 28 when Paul shouted in the darkness, “Stop! Don’t hurt yourself. We’re all still here.”

29 The jailer called for a light. When he saw that they were still in their cells, he rushed in and fell trembling at their feet. 30 Then he led Paul and Silas outside and asked, “What must I do to be saved?”

31 They answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved—you and all your family.”[o] 32 Then they prophesied the word of the Lord[p] over him and all his family. 33 Even though the hour was late, he washed their wounds. Then he and all his family were baptized. He took Paul and Silas into his home and set them at his table and fed them. 34 The jailer and all his family were filled with joy in their newfound faith in God.

35 At daybreak, the magistrates sent officers to the prison with orders to tell the jailer, “Let those two men go.” 36 The jailer informed Paul and Silas, “The magistrates have sent orders to release you. So you’re free to go now.”

37 But Paul told the officers, “Look, they had us beaten in public, without a fair trial—and we are Roman citizens.[q] Do you think we’re just going to quietly walk away after they threw us in prison and violated all of our rights? Absolutely not! You go back and tell the magistrates that they need to come down here themselves and escort us out!”

38 When the officers went back and reported what Paul and Silas had told them, the magistrates were frightened, especially upon hearing that they had beaten two Roman citizens without due process. 39 So they went to the prison and apologized to Paul and Silas, begging them repeatedly, saying, “Please leave our city.”

40 So Paul and Silas left the prison and went back to Lydia’s house, where they met with the believers and comforted and encouraged them before departing.