Sunday: The Preachers Pay a Price
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Read Acts 16:9-40. According to the passage, why did the Philippians react so negatively to the gospel? What important principle can we find in their reaction that we always need to be wary of ourselves?

Paul and Silas in Prison

Image © Darrel Tank from GoodSalt.com

In what other ways can this principle be made manifest, even in the lives of professed Christians?


The gospel is the good news of God’s mighty actions in Christ that lead to forgiveness, acceptance, and trans-formation (Rom. 1:16, 17). Through sin, the whole world was condemned; through the death and resurrection of Jesus, the whole world was given a new opportunity to have the eternal life that God originally wanted for all humanity. God’s mighty work was done for us while we were still sinners (Rom. 5:8). This work of redemption was accomplished outside of us, by Jesus, and we can add nothing to it—nothing. Yet, the gospel becomes real in our lives only when we accept not only its condemnation of our sins but God’s forgiveness of those sins through Jesus.

Being that the gospel is such good news and is free, why would anyone resist or fight against it? The answer is simple: accepting the gospel calls us to set aside confidence in self and in worldly things such as money, power, and sexual attractiveness. Money, sex, and power are good things when submitted to the will and ways of God. But when people cling to these trivial matters that substitute for the assurance of the gospel, the gospel and those who proclaim it become a threat.

Read 1 Thessalonians 2: 1, 2. Paul and Silas entered Thessalonica in pain, their bodies bearing the cuts and bruises they had received from their heavy beating and confinement in Philippi (Acts 16:22-24). But tokens of the mighty power of God (Acts 16:26, 30, 36) had encouraged their hearts. They boldly entered the synagogue at Thessalonica, in spite of their pain, and spoke again of the Messiah, who had changed their lives and sent them on a mission to preach the good news in places where it had not been heard before.

What are the things of the world that, if we’re not careful, can draw us away from the Lord? Why, then, is it so important to keep the Cross and its meaning always in the center of our thoughts, especially when the lure of the world seems the strongest. 

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Sunday: The Preachers Pay a Price — 19 Comments

  1. It is interesting to note that they continued to pray to the Good Lord and praise him despite their apparent sufferings in the body. Their faith saved them out of this situation so that they could continue to witness. This event made God's name all the more powerful as how could a jail be so rocked by an earthquake that even the chains fell off the inmates? Only the God of heaven could undertake this miracle. And so, as we come to the end of this earth's history, God's last day people who will be part of the Loud Cry, will also face similar situations - both pain and glory.

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  2. For me, what struck me most is how Paul & Silas conducted themselves in this situation. God had broken the chains off their hands and feet, yet they calmly stayed in prison until they were let out. 2) is when they refused to go when the magistrate ordered them to. They humbly but firmly stood for the right thing and in the process they won a soul (the soldier) to the kingdom. I believe even the gospel seed was sown in the heart of the magistrates and who knows what fruit it bore years later.

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  3. We must not allow the worldly things to distract us from God, those things only give us immediate gratification and only satifsfy our immediate thirst. However, the Lord God that we serve has a lasting gratification and we will not thirst any more as long as we keep our eyes on the cross and continue to believe and trust Him. This is why some of Greeks, mostly women, did not believe Paul, they were afraid to lose that stimulation they were receiving from the worldly things they were acquiring.

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  4. It always throws me that action and doing and accomplishment and requirement and duty are seen as the ultimate taboo. Belief itself is a doing and is a requirement otherwise we believe in sanctification all by itself as though justification is unnecessary. Are we talking about what Jesus did here, or, Paul and Silas... or both?

    The sense of duty that we are enticed with here is removed if we are not allowed to see the distinction between Christ and these men who embodied Him. The prerequisite of the requirement "coming to Christ", itself a doing, is destroyed by those who think duty and law must be explained away each and every time men do something Godly. (Matt. 5.19)

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  5. The paradox of the gospel is that it is totally free. It is fully provided by Christ, and there's nothing we can add to what He did for us.

    It costs nothing, yet it costs us everything -- or so it seems to us. The lesson author rightly states that "accepting the gospel calls us to set aside confidence in self," and that's what feels so hard. Like Cain, we would like to feel that we have something to contribute.

    But we cannot "contribute" anything at all. Instead we must surrender all. And that's a very different matter.

    Paul and Silas operated in this condition of full surrender -- being "in Christ." And their behavior in prison demonstrates the result. They had perfect confidence in Christ, and they could sing songs of praise, even while in prison. They knew that if they escaped when their chains fell off, the jailer would lose his life, being called to account for his prisoners. And that's why they did not escape but assured the jailer that they were all there.

    We may have the same confidence and joy with the same kind of surrender. But it takes giving up on self -- giving up on trying to make ourselves "good enough to save."

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    • Here is my personal understanding on what you are asking.

      The Christian lifestyle is diametrically opposed to the philosophy of the world. Because of that there is a natural antagonism that exists between the two lifestyles. When a person decides to align him/herself with the Christian lifestyle he/she is choosing the opposite side in a universal war from the majority in the world.

      Further, if one chooses to propagate the Christian lifestyle through preaching the truth he/she becomes actively involved in the battle and in turn becomes a target as far as Satan and his followers are concerned. To preach means to suffer under Satan's attacks. To Paul that meant many beatings and constant persecution that ended in long term imprisonment and eventually death at the hand of the Roman government.

      One could argue that while those things happen in this life the reward outweighs the losses by a large margin which is true. However, irrespective of that the preacher still pays a price for his preaching even if it is only for a brief lifetime this side of Heaven. The pain that Satan can cause is very real - just ask Job or Jesus or any of the other faithful followers of God's kingdom. They all suffered loss of some sort simply because they chose to stand up for God.

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  6. I am amazed about how much Paul and Silas trusted God. These days it is so hard to trust anything or anybody. Ideas change, the way we present God change, and yet the true faith is evidenced in the storm. For Paul God was real, He could see things we can't see... Is God real to me? Is my faith real?

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  7. I would like to ask the same question that was asked by Yakubu Thomas. What does it mean to say the preachers pay a price, or what price dd they pay?

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    • The consequence of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ in Philippi was jail time for Paul and Silas. Thus the preachers (Paul and Silas) paid the "price" of being in jail.

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  8. Today, the student is asked to read Acts 16:9-40 which covers the period of time when Paul and Silas where preaching in Philippi and asks us to explain in our own words why the people reacted negatively to the gospel message. Soon after Lydia and her household respond to the gospel message and join the Kingdom of God we come to the account of the slave girl who brings her master much profit through her demonic power of divination.

    What happens next is the subject of today’s lesson and why those who preach the Gospel message must have the courage and willingness to face persecution and even be willing to be martyred for their faith.

    Observations:
    While Paul does pay a severe price for his role of being an Apostle to the Gentiles it should be kept in mind that all Christians can expect some form of persecution for their faith. When this occurs in your life keep in mind who your real enemy is. "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:10-12 ESV). Since one of the themes Paul addresses in these two epistles is that the Thessalonians were paying a severe price for having turned away from their idolatrous ways it is odd that today’s Quarterly lesson doesn’t make some reference to this.

    In the Quarterly lesson it says that Paul and Silas “boldly entered the synagogue at Thessalonica”. Reference to this implies that what happened in Philippi has something to do with their preaching to the Jew’s in their synagogue which is not the case. Philippi was a Roman colony ruled by Gentiles. And it was the loss of income by a Gentile that precipitated their being beaten and thrown in jail. Casting out a demon, not their preaching to Jews in the synagogue, precipitated the riot that ensued.

    Concerning the things he suffered for the Lord here is what the Apostle Paul has to say:

    "Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead" (Phil. 3:8-11 ESV).

    Summary:
    1) Our true enemy can attack in many ways. This can often be in an indirect or unsuspected way rather than a 'head on’ confrontation. This was the case in Philippi. Many were responding to the gospel message. Only when a certain person’s mode of earning a living was threatened did the city riot, beat and put Paul and Silas in jail.
    2) What we do learn from this account in Philippi is that Paul was fully assured that Satan’s ambushes will lead to God’s 'checkmate’. When Paul and his co-workers left Philippi they left victorious praising the power of God.
    The one thing the Apostle Paul valued above all else was “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord”. In comparison to that knowledge all that he suffered was nothing more than mere “rubbish”.
    3) While Paul certainly can be said to have suffered at the hands of his fellow Jews this wasn’t the case in Philippi. The overall record does shows that he suffered most concerning his fellow Jews by their rejection of the gospel message of Jesus Christ.
    4) Like the Thessalonian Body of Christ, Christians in all places and in all ages can expect similar sufferings and persecutions. Just don’t forget who your real enemy is and make sure what you are suffering is for the real gospel message wearing the full armor of God.

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    • You seem to make a case that in Philippi Paul and Silas were imprisoned solely because a Gentile lost some money due to Paul casting out a demon. I feel that is only partially true. Notice what was happening. The slave girl followed them around saying, "These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation" (Act 16:17 NKJV). Sounds innocent doesn't it? So then why was Paul so irritated about it (Acts 16:18)? Maybe it was because all the people knew who she represented and because of that they equated Paul and Silas with priests or prophets of her religion. Remember the point you made that Satan is the one that is really behind all the persecutions. Therefore the whole thing was religious (has to do with who we worship) all the way and Paul's preaching was a definite part of it. Satan was attempting to shut Paul's preaching down any way he could.

      The fact that her master was upset over money is beside the point for he referred to their teaching in order to convince the magistrates that they were evil. "These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe" (Act 16:20-21 NKJV). That is the same old general argument that was used time and again under various other circumstances (Acts 6:14; 21:21). They, basically, were jailed for the same reasons that Demetrius caused a riot in Ephesus and why Alexander, along with other Jews, apparently were involved in the whole thing to some degree (Acts 19; 2 Tim 4:14).

      In other words you cannot separate what happen to Paul from his evangelistic efforts - they are all connected. I also believe what the lesson says is correct:

      Being that the gospel is such good news and is free, why would anyone resist or fight against it? The answer is simple: accepting the gospel calls us to set aside confidence in self and in worldly things such as money, power, and sexual attractiveness. Money, sex, and power are good things when submitted to the will and ways of God. But when people cling to these trivial matters that substitute for the assurance of the gospel, the gospel and those who proclaim it become a threat.

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  9. This is ironic. I got arrested today and thrown in a cell. And cops are not the nicest people espeicially when they are wrong. Anyway, so there I was and all I could do and all I did was praise my God. I sang and I didn't care if they thought I was crazy; I prayed to my God and one hour later I was let go.

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    • Thank you for sharing your experience, Ralph.

      When we have a clean conscience before God, we experience the peace that is referenced in Ps 119:165, "Great peace have they who love your law." Happy to read that you were let go so quickly.

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  10. I can see the difference in Saul/Paul's reaction to the gospel versus these people's reaction which tells of what Saul/Paul's price was. Saul/Paul is Roman and must have been making a lot of money working for the Roman government, but he gave all the priviledges of being a Roman citizen up by voting for the Lord and also preaching His gospel which meant working against the Roman government. The master of the girl reacted to losing his trade when Paul was happy to loose all for the Gospel of Christ. He suffered persecution and suffered from the hands of his own people when in contrary as a Roman citizen he should be proudly enjoying all the benefits. The question to you and me is, are we ready to give all up for the sake of the gospel? Your friends may laugh at you thinking that you are crazy when you talk about Christ to them, you may even loose your job/position for encouraging your colleagues with the word of God, are you ready for all that? Moyo

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  11. The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ must be preached to the ends of the World however difficult and life threatening circumstances may seem. Paul and Silas could have given up on their mission of hope for the Thessalonians because of the sufferings, instead, they turned to their master in praise and worship amid the pain. The power of our Lord will always accompany them that are His faithful servants "blessed are the feet that brings good news"
    Where are the "Pauls and Silas" today?

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  12. Paying the price for yourself is one thing, but when you have paid the price for others you surely are a convicted saint of our Lord and Savior. A true beliver is one that will endure for others sake. No different than our Lord Jesus who payed the price for each one of us. And we are to be convicted just the same because the price was paid.

    May the Holy Spirit be with us always.

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  13. As christians we must always be ready to suffer for our Lord. Jesus died for our sins so that we must find salvation in him. We must not be drawn away from our faith because of the tribulations we face in our daily lives. These troubles are there to strengthen our faith not to draw us away from the Lord. Paul and Silas continued praising the Lord beside all the whipping they suffered in the hands of Jews and Romans

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