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Bible Commentaries
Acts 16

Concordant Commentary of the New TestamentConcordant NT Commentary

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Verses 1-18

40 Silas was almost necessary as a companion for Paul. The decrees provided that they should be delivered by both Barnabas and Paul, while Judas and Silas were to confirm them by word of mouth. Now that Barnabas is gone, Paul could hardly deliver the decrees without a second witness, and Silas was the very one for the purpose, for he had the recommendation of

Jerusalem.

40 Paul seems to have had the sympathy of the brethren in Antioch. Nothing is said of their interest in Barnabas and Mark. But when Paul and Silas go, the brethren commend them to God's grace.

1 Paul did not retrace the steps of his first missionary journey. He did not go to Cyprus at all. He went by land through Syria and Cilicia, and crossed the Taurus mountains more to the east, coming out upon the high inland plain near Lystra and Derbe.

1 Timothy was Paul's son in the faith, being one of those who believed when Paul was there before. He was a witness of his sufferings and now becomes a companion of his trials. Hitherto Paul's associates have been a Levite, Barnabas, and Silas, a Jew, but now he takes one whose father was a Greek. Thus there is a gradual tendency away from the physical to spiritual relations.

3 The circumcision of Timothy, at first sight, seems strange and inconsistent. Had Paul not refused to circumcise Titus? Had not the council at Jerusalem decided that circumcision was not essential to salvation? But Timothy's case is an entirely different matter. Paul is still going among the synagogues proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah of the Jews. To have an associate who was uncircumcised would be a great hindrance and give the Jews the occasion which they sought to denounce and persecute him. He still maintains that circumcision is nothing. Yet he has no hesitancy in using it if it will mollify the prejudice of those whom he desires to reach with the evangel.

6 Paul's sickness in Galatia and the evangelization of that region is almost completely passed over because his course there was not in line with the testimony of Acts.

9 Paul's commission is as broad as humanity, yet the guidance of God decides matters of time and place for testimony.

9 Up to this time Paul was guided by hindrances. Trying to go through Galatia to the regions beyond, he is taken sick. He then seeks to enter the populous province of Asia, but the time had not yet come. Finally, at Troas, he receives the first intimation that his work lay in Europe. Without stopping to preach in Troas he immediately sets sail for Macedonia, which he reached in two days-a remarkably swift journey. It took five days on a later occasion ( Act_20:6 ).

10 Luke seems to have joined the party of Paul at Troas, for now the narrative is continued in the first person. " They . . . descended into Troas," but " we . . . seek to come away to Macedonia."

11 Neapolis is the harbor of Philippi. It was about ten miles from the city.

12 Philippi was a Roman colony in the special sense that it enjoyed many of the privileges of Rome itself. It was free from the control of the governor of the province. It regulated its own internal affairs by its own magistrates.

13 There seem to have been few Jews in the city. There was no synagogue. As it was the custom of the Jews to retire to the sea shore or some stream, which they esteemed a pure place, for prayer, Paul and his company resorted to such a spot and spoke to the women who came. Here it was that the Lord, who had led them from afar, manifested His presence and power by opening the heart of Lydia, the first fruit of the evangel in Europe. Strangely enough, however, she was from Asia, and from the very regions which they were forbidden to evangelize.

16 Python is the name of Apollo in his character as an oracle. Those who were ventriloquists, speaking with their mouths closed, were called Pythons. It was a kind of demon possession, not at all uncommon in ancient Greece. Their ravings were highly esteemed by the superstitious idolaters. Hence this slave girl was able to earn much money for her masters. It was probably the enemy's plan to discredit Paul's message by a questionable commendation.

Verses 19-40

19 This is the first occasion in which the evangel comes into conflict with the religion of the nations and with the spirit powers back of it. Hitherto the Jews and Judaism opposed the evangel. At Lystra it was welcomed by the idolaters, at first, until the Jews turned the people against the apostles.

19 Note carefully the real reason of the opposition. Their income was cut off. To this day this, the first symptom of antagonism, has largely controlled the opposition to the truth. Doubtless, if the evangel had increased their income, they would have accepted it.

20 There was no law against casting out demons, so the accusation is craftily perverted to arouse the prejudices of the Roman officers. The Jews had been ordered out of Rome and were in bad repute. There was a law, practically obsolete, which forbade the introduction of any religious innovation as dangerous to the peace of the empire. So that, if the law had been allowed to take its normal course, the apostles might have been imprisoned for a long period, and the evangel would have received a permanent check, but the unlawful action of the officers, putting them in the wrong, effectually opened the way for the further proclamation of the evangel in Philippi.

22 The terrible Roman flogging and vile, filthy jail, with the torture of the stocks, was intended to put a stop to the evangel. But God turned it to its furtherance. Paul and Silas, rejoicing in their sufferings for Christ, get an audience even in the prison.

26 Contrast the deliverance of Paul and Silas with that of Peter ( Act_12:3-19 ). Peter had not been ill-treated as they were, and slept. They prayed and sang songs of praise. No angel came to deliver Paul and Silas, but they brought a much greater deliverance to the warden and his household, and doubtless to some of the prisoners as well. Peter's escape, on the contrary, cost the lives of his keepers. Paul and Silas come out in broad daylight, escorted by the officers of the city and leave openly after they have met their brethren and taken leave of them. Peter comes out at night and flees to another place to escape Herod's wrath.

30 The earthquake, the open doors, the knowledge that he would forfeit his own life if a prisoner escaped, and the voice out of the darkness of the dungeon that read his inmost thoughts when he is about to take his own life, all conspired to convince the warden that these men and their message were from God. He doubtless had heard what the spirit of Python had declared about them, hence his cry, "What must I be doing that I may be saved?"

32 They did not stop with the bare exhortation to believe, but went on to open up the truth of the evangel. Faith does not come by the mere entreaty to believe, but through the setting forth of the truths which are to be believed. The death of Christ for our sins, His burial and resurrection are essential to salvation and should be the subject of every effort to preach the evangel. This gospel of God's grace was immediately effective, producing great joy.

33 What a transformation in the warden! The day before he had treated them with unnecessary severity; now he stoops to bathe their backs and attends to their comforts, taking them into his own home.

35 Phllippi was a military colony, hence the officials were army officers rather than magistrates. This may explain their illegal course of taking a hand in punishing those who had never been tried. Later reflection doubtless convinced them of this error, so they sent to have

Paul and Silas released. The warden was doubtless very happy at this turn of affairs, and exhorts them to go. But Paul, seeing the hand of God in the changed attitude of the officers, and solicitous for the furtherance of the evangel in Philippi, determines to press the advantage. The officers did not know that they were Roman citizens, hence did not realize how serious had been their offense. A public acknowledgment of their fault would shield the saints from further persecution. He insists that the officers shall come and lead them out in person, so that all may see that they were no longer opposed to their work. This the officers do, but, lest a rumor of this should get to Rome, they entreat them to leave the city, which, with due deliberation, the apostles did.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Acts 16". Concordant Commentary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/aek/acts-16.html. 1968.
 
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