The apostle Paul and those who accompanied him, had finally prepared to take the Gospel to Europe; more specifically, to Philippi in Macedonia. History records that Philippi is the place of the decisive battle which ended the Roman republic in 42 B.C., and Paul desired to establish a church here also.
As the men of God began to explore the city, they noticed a place where prayer was being made near a river side. As they approached the place of prayer, they sat down and ministered to the women who were gathered there. One woman, in particular, who worshipped God, had her heart opened while hearing the words being spoken of the missionaries. Lydia, a seller of purple, attended to, or took great delight in the words spoken of the men, and was baptized, along with her entire household. She then constrained the men to stay in her house for a while, so that she could show them hospitality. God always provides a place of refuge and provision for those who seek to do His will, no matter how far they venture.
Paul’s journey into Philippi may have started out well, but would soon become rather troublesome. The apostle Paul and those who were joined with him, had made a routine of attending prayer during their stay in Europe, but as they went, there was a young girl possessed with a spirit of divination, who followed them daily saying, “These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew us the way of salvation.” Although what the woman said was true, the purpose of satan was to discredit the message of the apostles by making the people think they were in cahoots with demon spirits who were making this announcement through a demonic medium. In other words, this woman worked deviously to bring profits to her masters, and the people would think the same was being done with Paul.
After Paul perceived the purpose of the demon then cast it out, the men immediately took the apostles and brought them unto the rulers to be judged. In these lands, it was known that Romans were very zealous for their national worship, and weren’t keen on introducing new religions, so without being given a fair trial, the apostles were beaten, then thrown into the inner prison, or dungeon. Spreading the Gospel of Jesus was indeed the will of God for the apostles, but inevitable opposition was a byproduct of doing so.
While in jail, Paul and Silas began to pray and sing praises at midnight, and immediately, there was a great earthquake. When life comes at you hard, do you find yourself singing and praying, or crying and moaning? In any case, the earthquake shook the foundations of the prison so much, until all the doors were opened. This was the perfect opportunity for the men of God to escape, since they were unjustly thrown in prison. The keeper of the prison had awaken from his sleep, and assumed the men had escaped, so he decided to take his own life, knowing that he would eventually die at the hands of his leaders. Before the man could take his life, Paul cried out with a loud voice saying, “Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.” (vs. 28). Can you imagine how the keeper of the prison must have felt after hearing those words? The man was so humbled by this experience, until he literally ran to where the apostles were and asked, “what must I do to be saved?”.
We never know how things will turn out, or who we will reach on our journey to spread the Gospel, but if we stay true to God’s Word, abstain from evil, and walk in humility, God will make ways for us, no matter how bad the opposition is that comes against us.