How did the Church in Philippi begin?

Read Acts 16:1-40. This occurred about 50A.D. on Paul’s 2nd missionary journey. The church had very humble beginnings. Since there was no synagogue, Paul encountered a few women by the river and later the jailer and his family believed. This reminds me of the shepherd who left the 99 sheep to find the one who was lost. 1 Corinthians 1:27  says God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise and the weak thing to shame the strong.

Do you feel weak or foolish? Take heart! That won’t stop God from using you. Did God impress anything upon your heart as you read about this brand new church?

6 thoughts on “How did the Church in Philippi begin?

  1. It did not occur to me that the salvation of Lydia, the demon-possessed girl, and the jailer were the beginnings of the Philippian church. This is wonderful to read in-depth, as I have not studied Philippians like this before. The changed lives through belief in Jesus Christ were just individual, non-specific encounters along Paul’s travels, I thought, with people from the various strata of society. Encounters in which Paul saw opportunity to proclaim the Good News. Shouldn’t I have known that a church does not need four walls, but is comprised of believers who know a living God.


  2. Speaking of being weak or foolish, I felt exactly that way in an encounter with a co-worker. He is a single man in his early 40’s who is well-read and evidently knows the Bible, having attended a parochial high school. But he has evidently rejected his earlier learning, choosing self over all. One day we came into a discussion during which I stated that the triune God was in existence at creation. After a brief exchange, he stated that Christians (including myself) were a brainwashed lot. I felt no amount of debate would convince him otherwise: I would be no match for his communicative prowess and the workplace would not be the place to do it. I felt being weak or foolish then. I chose instead to let my conduct speak for itself. I still accept him, and I know he’s aware of my faith by what I’ve done and said in various situations. These days he’s civil and respectful .Or at least he keeps his opinions under check when he’s around me.


  3. The churches were being strengthened in the faith, sometimes being forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word (in Asia). Paul responded immediately to a vision of a man in Macedonia saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”

    As I thought about Paul’s vision of a man saying come to Macedonia, I was reminded of a book, The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken, where Nik went to a Christ-starved country thinking he was going there to help people who lived there. Thinking this was where God called him, he was humbled as he was told by some of the poor people there that they were praying for years for someone to come. He was an answer to their prayers.

    As we pray for God to direct our paths, let us humbly understand it might be God answering another person’s prayer and not our own. It is that person’s prayer that brings us to where we are.

    Does this make sense?


    • Yes, it does completely, to me. I believe that God hears a voice of calling on His name, and He sends one to bring the Gospel to fulfill His purpose to save this certain person He has chosen before the foundation of the world. Not to fulfill our spiritual satisfaction by going the places or doing the ministries. Wish to be able to obey immediately like these apostles and the early disciples. … Do I understand your statement correctly? (please excuse my poor English:-().


  4. The Holy Spirit actively directing Paul where they go and not to go. They had their ideas of which ways to go, but they quickly obeyed and followed God’s lead. They ended up in Troas, where Luke joined Paul, Silas and Timothy.

    Was Luke from Troas? Did they meet there for the first time and became the first hand witness of Paul’s mission work? Sorry, this doesn’t concern about church in Philippi, but I really admire Luke for his humbleness for not mentioning about himself at all for all the effective works he had done faithfully.

    They had to go out of the city to the riverside to meet the people who gathered to pray. Were they not allowed to meet in the city? God opened Lydia’s heart, and she accepted the Gospel. From her attitude, we notice her passion and determination for the Gospel, and became the first Christian household. The fact that Paul and Silas returned to Lydia’s house after the jail incident, and met and encouraged the other believer there, can I understand that the Lydia’s home became the first house church in Philippi?


    • After your post, I decided to do some more researching about Luke. Paul refers to him 3 times by name- Colossians 4:14 (the beloved physician), 2 Timothy 4:11 (only Luke is with me) and Philemon 24 (my fellow worker). Luke refers to himself only as part of “we” in Acts 16:10-17, 20:5-21:18 and 27:1-28:16. As you noticed he first joins them in Troas and then re-joins Paul again in Troas. It seems Luke remained behind in Philippi after Paul left suddenly following his arrest and release. No one can say for certain where Luke was from but some have said Antioch where the first Gentile church was established and became a missionary sending church. But after looking at the passages, your comment that he could have been from Troas seems equally plausible.

      Yes, Lydia’s home became the first church of Philippi. It shows you the importance of the not often acknowledged gift of hospitality. As far as house churches, this may be the first example of the gentiles meeting in a private home. The believers in Jerusalem were gathered in Mary’s house (the mother of John Mark) praying for Peter’s release. Acts 12:5,12


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