The Apostle Paul wrote letters to churches in seven cities: Galatia, Thessalonica, Corinth, Rome, Ephesus, Colossae, and Philippi. The letters to Ephesus, Colossae, and Philippi were written from Paul’s Roman prison cell.
The church at Philippi was established during Paul’s second missionary journey. The sixteenth chapter of Acts records those events, including the account of Paul’s first European converts. On the first Sabbath day, because there was no synagogue in the city, the missionaries went to the riverside, the place where a small group of God-fearing women gathered to pray.
Luke, a travelling companion of Paul’s wrote, “One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’ And she prevailed upon us” (Acts 16:14-15, ESV).
When a soothsaying slave girl was saved, her owners retaliated against Paul and his friends. Seeing that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, ‘These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city...’ The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely” (Acts 16:19-23, ESV).
Incredibly, at midnight, Paul and Silas were singing hymns and worshipping, when “there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened” (Acts 16:26, ESV). In the aftermath of the miraculous occurrence, the jailer and his family repented and turned to Jesus for salvation!
A Gentile merchant, a demon-possessed slave, and a rough-as-a-cob Roman jailer... wonder-of-wonders, a church was being shaped and formed by the hand of God! And not just any church... a great church.
As Paul completed his joy-filled correspondence, he wrote to the church at Philippi, “You did well by partnering with me in my hardship. And you Philippians know that in the early days of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving except you alone. For even in Thessalonica you sent gifts for my need several times... I have received everything in full, and I have an abundance. I am fully supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you provided — a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:14-19, CSB).
I want to be like Philippi. I want to make a Gospel-impact on the world. I want to partner with missionaries and their ministries so the Great Commission might be fulfilled in our lifetime!
South Georgia Baptist Church
Mike Martin, Pastor