Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter
(Acts 16:22-34; John 16:5-11)
The pious story of how Paul and Silas save the jailer from self-destruction almost misses the point that the jailer becomes Paul’s first convert in Europe. Philippi is Paul’s initial stop on the new continent. He has spoken with the women at the riverside but these are Jews with a definite belief in God. The jailer, however, is presumably a pagan who comes to know God through the testimony of the two missionaries. For this reason the passage ends by stating that the jailer and his household “come to faith in God.”
Still, most likely Paul is not the first missionary on European soil. We know that he will write to an established church in Rome only six to eight years later. Yet his work in Philippi is historic because it chronicles the inexorable movement of the Holy Spirit to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth. We see this progress continuing today with the growth of the Church in Africa and Asia. We might also find the Spirit at work in ourselves converting all our thoughts and desires to what is truly good and holy.