How the Gospel Came to Europe
A Sermon on Acts 16:1-40
The Macedonian Vision
1Now Paul also came to Derbe and to Lystra. And a disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek, 2and he was well spoken of by the brothers and sisters who were in Lystra and Iconium. 3Paul wanted this man to leave with him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4Now while they were passing through the cities, they were delivering the ordinances for them to follow which had been determined by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. 5So the churches were being strengthened in the faith, and were increasing in number daily.
6They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, after being forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; 7and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them; 8and passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and pleading with him, and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10When he had seen the vision, we immediately sought to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
11So after setting sail from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and on the following day to Neapolis; 12and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia, a Roman colony; and we were spending some days in this city. 13And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were thinking that there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled.
First Convert in Europe
14A woman named Lydia was listening; she was a seller of purple fabrics from the city of Thyatira, and a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. 15Now when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.
16It happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave woman who had a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing great profit to her masters by fortune-telling. 17She followed Paul and us and cried out repeatedly, saying, “These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you a way of salvation.” 18Now she continued doing this for many days. But Paul was greatly annoyed, and he turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out at that very moment.
19But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was suddenly gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities, 20and when they had brought them to the chief magistrates, they said, “These men, Jews as they are, are causing our city trouble, 21and they are proclaiming customs that are not lawful for us to accept or to practice, since we are Romans.”
Paul and Silas Imprisoned
22The crowd joined in an attack against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods. 23When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; 24and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25Now about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; 26and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains were unfastened. 27When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, thinking that the prisoners had escaped. 28But Paul called out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” 29And the jailer asked for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear, he fell down before Paul and Silas; 30and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
The Jailer Converted
31They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32And they spoke the word of God to him together with all who were in his house. 33And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. 34And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and was overjoyed, since he had become a believer in God together with his whole household.
35Now when day came, the chief magistrates sent their officers, saying, “Release those men.” 36And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The chief magistrates have sent word that you be released. So come out now and go in peace.” 37But Paul said to them, “After beating us in public without due process—men who are Romans—they threw us into prison; and now they are releasing us secretly? No indeed! On the contrary, let them come in person and lead us out.” 38The officers reported these words to the chief magistrates. And they became fearful when they heard that they were Romans, 39and they came and pleaded with them, and when they had led them out, they repeatedly asked them to leave the city. 40They left the prison and entered the house of Lydia, and when they saw the brothers and sisters, they encouraged them and departed.
1Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: 2Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. 3Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek. 4And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. 5And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily. 6Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, 7After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. 8And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. 9And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. 10And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. 11Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; 12And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days. 13And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.
14¶ And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. 15And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.
16¶ And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: 17The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. 18And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.
19¶ And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, 20And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, 21And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. 22And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. 23And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: 24Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.
25¶ And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. 26And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. 27And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. 28But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. 29Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, 30And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. 32And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. 33And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. 34And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. 35And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go. 36And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace. 37But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out. 38And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans. 39And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city. 40And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.
Listen to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones' sermon on Acts 16 to Bridgnorth Baptist Church in 1977 as he considers the account of how Christianity came to the pagan culture of Europe. In this sermon, he tracks the history to see how intellectual and pagan cultures were affected by the Gospel. Why did Paul come to Europe? Who is the message of the Bible for? Listen and understand that the future of the church and the gospel is not up to the Christian – it is all part of God's plan that He has kept for generations before and will continue for generations after. Learn how God works in ways contrary to humanity’s plan. “We must be orthodox, but alone it is not enough,” reminds Dr. Lloyd-Jones. It is dangerous to have a dead orthodoxy, knowing the truth but not living it. Look at the example of Lydia in Acts 16 and remember that no one can convert another; only God can turn a heart of stone into flesh. Dr Lloyd-Jones also warns that it is not enough to merely hear the gospel; people of faith must attend to it. They must not be such experts on the evil powers of this age, but experts on the things of God. The listener is encouraged to have faith in God and what He has purposed, for He will surely bring all to pass.
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.