So far we have witnessed the established routine of Paul and company: They came to town and proclaimed the Word, they expected God to do something, and when the results began to show, they started the operation of body life—the life of the family of God. What happened after the earthquake shook things up? The jailer and his household were saved!
That was the beginning of God’s family in Philippi. The first thing the jailer did was wash their wounds. Isn’t that a beautiful picture? This man who, just a few hours before, had literally thrown them in the cell and had brutally locked them in stocks, was now washing their wounds, washing away all the blood and dirt and filth, and tenderly taking care of the men who lead him into the family of God. That’s a perfect example of body life, the sharing of one another’s problems, the bearing of one another’s burdens. And they rejoiced together. That’s part of body life, too. They welcomed each other into the family of God. What a time of celebration!
This is what God is always doing in human history. He establishes a bridgehead—an area in hostile territory that has been captured and is held while further troops and supplies come in—all of this in the midst of entrenched evil, with its violence and disaster, and, by that bridgehead, he begins to propagate the gospel. Then we come here to Chapter 17, as Paul and Silas move west, leaving Luke and Timothy behind in Philippi for the time being.
After leaving prison at Philippi, Paul and company traveled west through the towns of Amphipolis and Apollonia. His next major stop would be Thessalonica, a major port city along the coast.
Paul and Silas were following the famous Roman road called the Egnatian Way which crossed Macedonia and connected the Adriatic Sea with the Black Sea. The cities mentioned here all lie on that road. Here we see something of the apostle’s strategy as he was led by the Spirit to move into various cities, passing by some and stopping in others. He always chose the most strategic center from which the gospel might reach out into the surrounding area. In this particular region they were in Thessalonica.
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Book of Acts: