Luke does not describe the conversion of every person who became a member in the church in Philippi at that time. Instead he selects three incidents that highlight the type of people who became members of the church. Some of them were of a Jewish background like Lydia, others of them were of a pagan temple background like the slave girl, and others would be like the jailor, perhaps with little interest in any kind of religion. One was seeking the true God, one was serving Satan, one was irreligious. They were converted in different places: one in a religious service, one on the street, one in his place of employment. They also tell us that one’s social class or age or gender does not make a difference.
It can be deduced from the words of the slave girl that Paul and his friends preached in public places as well as holding meetings in the house of Lydia. Probably the addresses in public would be evangelistic and the ones in the house would be instruction for the new disciples. This kind of situation has not been known in our part of the world for a long time. The effect of the gospel has been so great that the church did not need to take the gospel to the community because the community came to hear the gospel. However, now we are almost back in the situation that Paul faced in Philippi. In most of our cities, the Christian church is only one of many religious options. In order to be heard, the church has to take the gospel into public places where people are.
It could not be expected that the appearance of this church would go unchallenged. The opposition would not initially have come from the civil authorities because until now the gospel does not seem to have touched Gentiles in Philippi. But there was one who understood the potential for growth that existed within this new church, and that was the devil. Therefore he was determined to destroy this newborn congregation of Christian disciples.
It is worth noting that the girl’s first intervention with Paul and his team was when they were on their way to the prayer meeting (v. 16). The devil is fully aware that the best way to make a church ineffective is to affect the prayer meeting. Perhaps he sent the girl to stop Paul and the others from going to the meeting for prayer, but they ignored this attempt. Their example is one that we should copy, if possible. Someone once asked Spurgeon the secret of his preaching and growth of his congregation, and he showed the questioner all the people that were gathering to pray. It is certain that one reason for the success of the gospel in Philippi was the meeting for prayer, and it must have been begun as soon as the church appeared.