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Bible Commentaries
Acts 16

Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New TestamentMeyer's Commentary

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Acts 16:1 . After γυναικός Elz. has τινος , which is decidedly spurious according to the evidence.

Acts 16:3 . τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ , ὅτι Ἕλλ . ὑπῆρχεν ] Lachm. reads ὅτι Ἕλλην ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ ὑπῆρχεν , according to A B C א , min. Rightly; the Recepta is a mechanical or designed transposition into the usual mode of expression by attraction. If the reading of Lachm. were a resolution of the attraction, Ἕλλην would not have been placed first.

Acts 16:6 . διελθόντες ] A B C D E א , min. and several vss. and Fathers have διῆλθον , and in Acts 16:7 for the most part δέ after ἐλθόντες . Both are adopted by Lachm. and Born. The attestation of this reading is so preponderating, that it cannot be held as an emendation to avoid the recurrence of participial clauses. The Recepta, on the contrary, appears to have arisen because of a wish to indicate that the hindrance of the Spirit took place only after passing through Phrygia and Galatia, which appeared necessary if Asia was understood in too wide a sense. The reading of the Vulg. presents another corresponding attempt: “transeuntes autem … vetati sunt.”

Acts 16:7 . εἰς τ . Β .] Elz. has κατὰ τ . Β ., against decisive evidence. Either a mere error of a copyist after the preceding κατά , or an intentional interpretation.

ʼΙησοῦ ] is wanting in Elz., but supported by decisive evidence. If only πνεῦμα were original, the gloss added would not have been Ἰησοῦ (for πν . Ἰησοῦ is not elsewhere found in the N.T.), but, from the preceding, τὸ ἅγιον .

Acts 16:9 . The order best attested and therefore to be adopted is: ἀνὴρ Μακεδών τις ἦν . So Lachm., also Tisch. and Born.; the latter, however, has deleted ἦν according to too weak evidence (it was wholly superfluous), and, moreover, has in accordance with D adopted ἐν ὁράματι … ὤφθη ὡσεὶ ἀνὴρ κ . τ . λ ., an explanatory gloss, as also are the words κατὰ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ added after ἑστώς (Born.).

Acts 16:10 . ὁ Κύριος ] A B C E א , min. Copt. Vulg. Jer. have ὁ Θεός . Recommended by Griesb. and adopted by Lachm. The Recepta is a gloss in accordance with Acts 16:7 ( πνεῦμα Ἰησοῦ ), comp. Acts 13:2 , or written on the margin in accordance with Acts 2:39 .

Acts 16:13 . πύλης ] Approved already by Griesb., adopted by Lachm. Tisch. Born. instead of the usual πόλεως , against which A B C D א , min. Copt. Sahid. Vulg. Cant. witness. τῆς πόλεως was written by the side of τῆς πύλης as a gloss (as some vss. have still τ . πύλης τ . πόλεως ), and then supplanted the original.

ἐνομίζετο προσευχή ] A** B C א , lo ti. 13, 40, Copt. Aeth. have ἐνομίζομεν προσευχήν . So Lachm. An alteration, because the reading of the text was not understood. From the same misunderstanding the reading in D, Epiph. ἐδόκει προσευχή (so Born.) arose, and the translation of the Vulg., “ubi videbatur oratio esse.”

Acts 16:16 . τὴν προσευχήν ] In Elz. the article is wanting, but is supported by preponderating evidence and by its necessity (Acts 16:13 ).

Πύθωνος ] A B C* D (?) א , lo ti 33, Vulg. Cant. and some Fathers have πύθωνα . Adopted by Lachm. Tisch. Born. Correctly; the accusative, not understood, was changed for the genitive as the more intelligible case, which was well known to the transcribers with πνεῦμα (comp. especially, Luke 4:33 ).

Acts 16:17 . Instead of the second ἡμῖν , Tisch. Born. have ὑμῖν , contrary to A C G H, min. vss. and Fathers. But ἡμῖν appeared less suitable, especially as a demoniacal spirit spoke from the παιδίσκη .

Acts 16:24 . Instead of εἰληφώς read, with Lachm. and Born., λαβών on decisive evidence.

Acts 16:31 . Χριστόν ] is with Lachm. and Tisch. to be deleted as a usual addition (comp. on Acts 15:11 ), on the authority of A B א , min. Copt. Vulg. Lucif.

Acts 16:32 . καὶ πᾶσι ] A B C D א , min. Vulg. Cant. Lucif. have σὺν πᾶσι . Approved by Griesb., adopted by Lachm. Tisch. Born. The καί easily crept in, because with it the dative πᾶσι τοῖς remained, and because καὶ ὁ οἶκός σου (Acts 16:31 ) preceded.

Acts 16:34 . ἠγαλλιάσατο ] C* (?) D, min. Chrys. Oec. Theophyl have ἠγαλλιᾶτο . Approved by Griesb. and adopted by Born, and Tisch. With this weak attestation it is to be regarded as an easily committed error of a transcriber.

Acts 16:39 . ἐξελθεῖν τῆς πόλ .] Lachm. and Tisch. read ἀπελθεῖν ἀπὸ τ . πόλ ., according to A B א , min. A more definite and precise statement.

Acts 16:40 . πρός ] Elz. has εἰς against decisive evidence.

Verses 1-2

Acts 16:1-2 . Δέρβ . κ . Λύστρ .] See on Acts 14:6 .

ἐκεῖ ] does not refer to both cities, as Otto, Pastoralbr. p. 58, strangely assumes, but to the last named, Lystra. Here Timothy, whose conversion by Paul is to be referred to Acts 14:6 f., was at that time residing ( ἦν ἐκεῖ ); probably it was also his native place , [46] as may be inferred from Acts 16:2 ( ἐμαρτυρεῖτο ὑπὸ τῶν ἐν Λύστροις ) compared with Acts 16:3 ( ᾜΔΕΙΣΑΝ ΓᾺΡ ἍΠΑΝΤΕς Κ . Τ . Λ . ). Usually (even by Olshausen and Neander, but not by de Wette and Baumgarten) Timothy is supposed to be a native of Derbe (on account of Acts 20:4 ; but see remarks on that passage); ἐκεῖ is referred to ΔΈΡΒΗΝ (very arbitrarily), and Acts 16:2 is explained to mean that, besides the (presupposed) good report of his native city, Timothy had also the good report of the neighbouring cities of Lystra and Iconium; a very forced explanation, which Theophilus and the other first readers certainly did not hit upon!

ΓΥΝΑΙΚ . ἸΟΥΔ . ΠΙΣΤ . ] The name of this Jewish-Christian was Eunice. See 2 Timothy 1:5 . Ἰουδαίας is the adjective (John 3:22 ), as also ἝΛΛΗΝΟς and ΜΑΚΕΔΏΝ , Acts 16:9 . Whether the father was a pure Gentile or a proselyte of the gate, the language employed (see on Acts 11:20 ) and the lack of other information leave entirely undecided.

ἘΜΑΡΤΥΡ . ] as in Acts 6:3 .

ἸΚΟΝΊῼ ] see on Acts 13:51 . What were the peculiar circumstances, which had made Timothy honourably known in Iconium as well as in the place of his birth, we do not know.

[46] With this Köhler also agrees in Herzog’s Encyk . XVI. p. 168; Huther and Wiesinger leave it undecided; but Wieseler, p. 25 f., endeavours to uphold the usual view. But see on Acts 20:4 .

Verse 3

Acts 16:3 . Apart from his superior personal qualifications, fostered by a pious education (2 Timothy 1:5 ; 2 Timothy 3:15 ), Timothy was also well adapted to be the coadjutor of the apostle from the peculiar external relation in which he stood as belonging by parentage both to the Jewish and to the Gentile Christians.

λαβὼν περιέτεμεν ] he took and circumcised. There is no reason whatever to suppose that Paul should not have himself performed this act, which might in fact be done by any Israelite (comp. on Luke 1:59 ).

διὰ τοὺς Ἰουδαίους ] namely, to avoid the offence which the Jews in the region of Lystra and Iconium would have taken, had Paul associated with himself one who was uncircumcised to go forth ( ἐξελθεῖν ) as his colleague in proclaiming the Messianic salvation. Paul acted thus according to the principle of wise and conciliatory accommodation (1 Corinthians 9:19 ), and not out of concession to the Judaistic dogma of the necessity of circumcision for obtaining the Messianic salvation. [47] He acted thus in order to leave no cause of offence at his work among the yet unconverted Jews of that region, and not to please Christian Judaists , to whom, if they had demanded the circumcision of Timothy, as they did that of Titus at Jerusalem (Galatians 2:3 f.), he would as little have yielded as he did in the case of Titus. This entirely non-dogmatic motive for the measure, which was neither demanded by others nor yet took place with a view to Timothy’s own salvation or to the necessity of circumcision for salvation generally, removes it from all contradiction either with the apostolic decree (Acts 15:29 ) or with Galatians 2:3 ; for in the case of Titus circumcision was demanded by others against his will, and that on the ground of dogmatic assertion, and so Paul could not allow that to be done on Titus (comp. Galatians 5:2 ) which he himself performed on Timothy. This we remark in opposition to Baur and Zeller, who attack our narrative as unhistorical, because it stands radically at variance with the apostle’s principles and character, so that it belongs “to the absolutely incredible element in the Book of Acts” (Baur, I. p. 147, Exodus 2:0 ). See, on the other hand, Lechler in the Wurtemb. Stud . xix. 2, p. 130 ff., and apost. und nachapost. Zeitalt . p. 419; Thiersch, Kirche im apost. Zeitalt . p. 136 f.; Lekebusch, p. 272 ff.; Baumgarten, I. p. 483 ff. Chrysostom has hit in the main on the correct interpretation: οὐδὲν Παύλου συνετώτερον · ὥστε πάντα πρὸς τὸ συμφέρον ἑώρα … περιέτεμεν ἵνα περιτομὴν καθέλῃ . But the canon insisted on in the Talmud: partus sequitur ventrem (see Wetstein), can hardly have been taken into consideration by the apostle (in opposition to Thiersch and Lange, apost. Zeitalt . I. p. 102 f.), because Timothy was already a Christian , and thus beyond the stage of Judaism; and therefore it is not to be assumed, with Ewald, p. 482, that Paul had wished merely to remove the reproach of illegitimacy from Timothy even laying aside the fact that Jewesses were not prohibited from marrying Gentiles, with the exception only of the seven Canaanitish nations (Exodus 34:16 ; Deuteronomy 7:1 ff.). The circumstance: υἱὸς γυναικὸς κ . τ . λ ., Acts 16:1 , serves only to explain whence it happens that Timothy, whose Christian mother was known to be a Jewess; was yet uncircumcised; the father was a Gentile, and had in his paternal authority left him uncircumcised.

Observe, according to the correct reading ὅτι Ἕλλην ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ ὑπῆρχεν (see the critical remarks), the suitable emphasis with which the predicate is placed first: that a Greek his father was. ὑπάρχειν in the sense of ΕἾΝΑΙ is used most frequently in the N.T. by Luke. An antithesis to ΦΑΊΝΕΣΘΑΙ is arbitrarily and unsuitably imported by Otto.

[47] Erasmus in his Paraphrase (dedicated to Pope Clement VII.) observes: “Non quod crederet circumcisionem conferre salutem, quam sola fides adferebat, sed ne quid tumultus oriretur a Judaeis.” Observe this distinctively Lutheran sola fides.

Verses 4-5

Acts 16:4-5 . Παρεδίδουν ] orally , perhaps also partly in writing , by delivering to them a copy of the decree, Acts 15:23 ff.

αὐτοῖς ] namely, to the Gentile-Christians in the towns, which the connection requires by φυλάσσειν .

τὰ δόγματα ] Luke 2:1 , the ordinances .

ὑπὸ τῶν ἀποστ . κ . τ . λ .] the mention of the leaders was sufficient; the co-operation of the church is, according to Acts 15:22 f., obvious of itself.

τῶν ἐν Ἱερουσ .] belongs only to τ . πρεσβυτ .

Acts 16:5 . They developed themselves internally in stedfastness of faith, and externally in the daily increasing number of their members. On the former, comp. Colossians 2:5 ; καθʼ ἡμέρ . belongs to ἐπερισσ . τ . ἀριθμῷ , comp. Acts 2:46 .

Verses 6-7

Acts 16:6-7 . According to the reading διῆλθον and, Acts 16:7 , ἐλθόντες δέ (see the critical remarks): Now they went through Phrygia and Galatia, after they had been withheld by the Holy Spirit from preaching in Asia; but having come toward Mysia, they attempted , etc. Observe (1) that this hindrance of the Spirit to their preaching in Asia induced them, instead of going to Asia, to take their route through Phrygia and Galatia, and therefore the founding of the Galatian churches is correctly referred to this period; [48] indeed, the founding of these may have been the immediate object aimed at in that hindrance. The fact that Luke so silently passes over the working in Phrygia and Galatia, is in keeping with the unequal character of the information given by him generally an inequality easily explained from the diversity of his documents and intelligence otherwise acquired so that it appears arbitrary to impute to him a special set purpose (Olshausen: he was hastening with his narrative to the European scene of action; Baumgarten: because the main stream of development proceeded from Jerusalem to Rome, and the working in question lay out of the line of this direction, comp. also Zeller, p. 383; and quite erroneously Schneckenburger: because there were no Jews to be found in those regions, and therefore Luke could not have illustrated in that case how Paul turned first to the Jews). Further, (2) Asia cannot be the quarter of the world in contrast to Europe, but only the western coast of Asia Minor , as in Acts 2:9 , Acts 6:9 . To that region his journey from Lycaonia (Derbe and Lystra, Acts 16:1 ) was directed; but by the hindrance of the Spirit it was turned elsewhere, namely, to Phrygia and Galatia (the latter taken in the usual narrower sense, not according to the extent of the Roman province at that time, as Böttger, Thiersch, and others suppose; comp. on Gal . Introd. § 1).

The hindering of the Spirit , taken by Zeller in the sense of the apostle’s own inward tact , is in Acts 16:6-7 to be regarded as an influence of the Holy Spirit (that is, of the objective Divine Spirit, not of “the holy spirit of prudence , which judged the circumstances correctly,” de Wette) on their souls, which internal indication, they were conscious, was that of the Spirit.

κατὰ τ . Μυσίαν ] not: at (see Acts 16:8 ), but toward Mysia, Mysia-wards , in the direction of the border of that land. They wished from this to go northeastward to Bithynia; for in Mysia (which, along with Lydia and Caria, belonged to Asia ) they were forbidden to preach.

τὸ πνεῦμα Ἰησοῦ ] i.e . the ἅγιον πνεῦμα , Acts 16:6 ; see on Romans 8:9 .

[48] Whether he also planted churches in Phrygia, is unknown to us. The founding of the church in Colossae and Laodicea took place by means of others, Colossians 2:1 .


According to the Received text ( διελθόντες … ἐλθόντες ), the rendering must be: having journeyed through Phrygia and Galatia, they endeavoured, after they had been withheld by the Holy Spirit from preaching in Asia, on coming toward Mysia, to journey to Bithynia , etc. Comp. Wieseler, p. 31; Baumgarten, p. 489; and see regarding the asyndetic participles, which “mutua temporis vel causae ratione inter se referuntur,” Kühner, ad Xen. Anab . i. 1. 7; Dissen, ad Dem. de cor . p. 249; Buttmann, neut. Gr . p. 255 (E. T. 297).

Verses 8-10

Acts 16:8-10 . They were now between Mysia and Bithynia. To Bithynia the Spirit suffered them not to go; in Mysia they were not to preach, because it belonged to Asia. In this position of things they saw themselves directed to the West, away from all their former sphere of action, and across to Greece. This the Spirit now willed. Accordingly they had first to make for the Asiatic sea-coast, and therefore they went directly westward along the southern border of Mysia (of course without preaching, for this they were not permitted to do), and thus, having passed by Mysia ( παρελθόντες τὴν Μυσίαν ), they came down to Troas on the Hellespont, in order there to determine more precisely their further journey to the West, or to receive for this purpose a higher determination, which they might expect in accordance with the previous operations of the Spirit. And they received this higher determination by a visionary appearance ( ὅραμα , Acts 9:10 , Acts 10:3 , Acts 18:9 ) which was made to the apostle during the night ( διὰ τ . νυκτός , as in Acts 5:19 ). This vision [49] is not to be considered as a dream (Heinrichs, Kuinoel, Zeller), as is evident from the expression itself, and from the fact that there is no mention of a κατʼ ὄναρ or the like, or afterwards of an ἈΝΑΣΤΆς or other similar expression, but after the seeing of the vision the ἘΖΗΤΉΣΑΜΕΝ Κ . Τ . Λ . comes in without further remark. Olshausen, however, very hastily lays it down as a settled point, that revelation by dreams, as the lowest form of revelation (? see Delitzsch, Psychol . p. 284), was no longer vouchsafed to the apostles who were endowed with the Holy Spirit, but that they must have had their visions in ecstasy, always in a waking condition. We have far too little information as to the life of the apostles to maintain this. Comp. also Acts 2:17 .

Μακεδών ] is used adjectivally (comp. on Acts 5:1 f.), as in Thuc. i. 62. 3, i. 63. 3. As Macedonian the appearance announced itself , namely, by διαβὰς εἰς Μακεδ . βοήθ . ἡμῖν . It is arbitrary in Grotius to say that an angel had appeared, and indeed “angelus curator Macedonum.” Something objectively real is not indicated by ὅραμα ὤφθη . Comp. Acts 10:17 .

ἘΖΗΤΉΣΑΜΕΝ ] we sought , directed our view to the necessity of procuring, first of all, the opportunity of a ship, etc. Here Luke, for the first time, includes himself in the narrative, and therefore it is rightly assumed that he joined Paul at Troas . He does not enter further on his personal relations, because Theophilus was acquainted with them . Olshausen arbitrarily thinks: from modesty . On and against the assumptions, that Timothy (Schleiermacher, Mayerhoff, Ulrich, Bleek) or Silas (Schwanbeck) wrote the portions in which “we” occurs, see Introd. § 1.

συμβιβάζοντες κ . τ . λ .] because we gathered (colligebamus) as the meaning of that appearance, drew from it the conclusion (comp. Plat. Hipp. min . p. 369 D, Pol . vi. p. 504 A, and Stallb. in loc .), that in it there was issued to us the call of God (see the critical remarks), and the in itself indefinite βοήθησον ἡμῖν was the call for help to be afforded by communication of the gospel .

[49] Taken by Baur, I. p. 166, Exodus 2:0 , only as an embellishment of the history, namely, as symbolizing the desire of salvation , with which not only the Macedonian population, but the men of Europe in general, called upon the apostle to come over to them. This view Zeller also, p. 251, considers as possible. It is in the connection of the entire narrative impossible , and simply tends to obscure the further occurrences as regards their historical character.

Verse 11

Acts 16:11 . Εὐθυδρομ .] having sailed from Troas, we ran by a straight course (Acts 21:1 ). The word is not preserved in Greek writers, who have, however, εὐθυδρόμος , and as a verb, εὐθυπλοέω .

Samothrace , a well-known island off the coast of Thrace, in the Aegean Sea.

τῇ ἐπιούσῃ ] die postero , used by Greek writers both with (Acts 7:26 ) and without ἡμέρᾳ . See Lobeck, ad Phryn . p. 464 In the N.T. it occurs only in Acts.

Neapolis , at an earlier period Datos (Strabo, vii. p. 330), a seaport on the Strymonian Gulf, opposite the island of Thasos, at that time belonging to Thrace, but after Vespasian to Macedonia (Sueton. Vesp . 8; Dio Cass. xlvii. 35; Ptol. iii. 13. 9).

On Philippi , formerly Krenides , named from the Macedonian Philip, who enlarged and fortified it, see the Introd. to Philipp . § 1.

πρώτη τῆς μερίδος Μακεδ . κολωνία πόλις ] As in that district of Macedonia, divided by Aemilius Paulus into four parts (Liv. xlv. 29), Amphipolis was the capital, and πρώτη πόλις cannot therefore in a strict sense mean capital; [50] all difficulty is removed simply by connecting, and not, as is usually done, [51] separating, πόλις κολωνία : which is the first (in rank) colony-town of the part (concerned) of Macedonia . Comp. also Baumgarten. [52] Thus it is unnecessary, with Kuinoel, Hug, and others (see also Credner, Einl . II. p. 418 f.; Mynster, kl. theol. Schr . p. 170), who separate πόλις from κολωνία , to take πρώτη πόλις in the sense of a city endowed with privileges (Bertholdt compares the French use of bonne ville ), inscriptions on coins being appealed to, in which the formal epithet πρώτη is given to Greek cities which were not capitals. See Eckhel, doctr. vet. num . I. 4. 282; Boeckh, Corpus inscript . I. 2, No. 335. In the case of Philippi itself no special privileges are known, except the general colonial rights of the jus Italicum; nor is the title πρώτη found on the coins of Philippi, it is met with only in the case of cities in Asia Minor (see Rettig, Quaest. Philipp . p. 5 f.). Others take πρώτη of local situation , so that they too separate πόλις from κολωνία : “Philippi was the first city of Macedonia at which Paul touched in his line of travel.” So Olshausen and Wieseler, following Erasmus (who, however, appears to join πόλις κολ .), Cornelius a Lapide, Calovius, Raphel, Wolf, Bengel, Eckermann, Heinrichs. In this case we have not to consider Neapolis as the mere port of Philippi (Olshausen), but with Rettig, van Hengel, ad Phil . p. 4 ff., and De Wette, to lay stress on the fact that Neapolis at that time belonged to Thrace , and to take ἐστί (Luke did not write ἦν ) as an expression of the admitted state of things, that Philippi from that side is the first city (consequently the most easterly , see Wieseler, p. 37 f.). But what reason could Luke have to make such an exact geographical specification, especially with regard to such a well-known city as Philippi? It is quite at variance with his manner elsewhere. And that too with the argumentatively ( quippe quae ) emphatic ἥτις ? This applies also in opposition to Grotius, who takes πόλις κολωνία together (the first colonial-city), but understands πρώτη also of the geographical situation. According to our view, there is conveyed in ἥτις an explanation of the motive for their going to Philippi in particular, seeing that it is, namely, the most noteworthy colonial-city of the district, so that the gospel might at once acquire a very considerable and extensive sphere of action in Macedonia. If in itself ἀξίωμά ἐστι πόλεως ἡ κολώνεια (Chrysostom), this is yet more heightened by πρώτη .

On the combination of two substantives like πόλις κολωνία , comp. Lobeck, Paralip . p. 344. Instead of κολωνία , the Greek uses ἀποικία or ἐποικία ; instead of πόλις κολωνία , πόλις ἀποικίς .

Philippi was colonized by Octavianus through the removal thither of the partisans of Antonius, and had also the jus Italicum conferred on it. See Dio Cass. Leviticus 4:0 ; Plin. H. N . iv. 11; Digest. Leg . xv. 6.

[50] Without any reason, Wetstein imagined that after the battle at Philippi this city was raised to be the capital. From the erroneous interpretation capital arose the reading ἥτις ἐστὶν κεφαλὴ τῆς Μακ ., πόλις κολωνία , which Bornemann regards as original.

[51] Thus also Ewald, p. 485, according to whom Philippi, on account of its flourishing condition at that time, is assumed to he named “ the first city of the province of Macedonia .” But μερίς does not mean province ( ἐπαρχία , Acts 23:34 , Acts 25:1 ).

[52] Who elaborately explains μερίδος , as if τῆς οἰκουμένης stood alongside of it, so that τῆς Μακεδ . would be in apposition to τ . μερίδος .

Verse 13

Acts 16:13 . Ποταμόν ] i.e . not, as Bornemann and Bleek suppose, the Strymon , which is distant more than a day’s journey, but possibly the rivulet Gangas (so Zeller, Hackett), or some other stream in the neighbourhood which abounded with springs.

οὗ ἐνομίζετο προσευχὴ εἶναι ] where a place of prayer was accustomed to be, i.e . where, according to custom, a place of prayer was. On νομίζεσθαι , in more esse, to be wont , see Hermann, ad Lucian. de hist. conscr . p. 244; Schweighäuser, Lex. Herod . II. p. 126 f.; from Philo, in Loesner, p. 208. Not: where, as was supposed , there was a place of prayer (Ewald), in which case we should have to supply the thought that the place did not look like a synagogue, which, however, is as arbitrary as it is historically unimportant. The προσευχαί were places of prayer , sometimes buildings, and at other times open spaces (so most probably here, as may be inferred from οὗ ἐνομίζετο εἶναι ) near to streams (on account of the custom of washing the hands before prayer), to be met with in cities where synagogues did not exist or were not permitted, serving the purposes of a synagogue (Juvenal, iii. 295). See Joseph. Antt . xiv. 10. 23; Corp. inscript . II. p. 1005; Vitringa, Synag . p. 119 ff.; Rosenmüller, Morgenl . VI. p. 26 f.

ταῖς συνελθ . γυναιξί ] the women who came together (to prayer). Probably the number of Jewish men in the city was extremely small, and the whole unimportant Jewish population consisted chiefly of women, some of them doubtless married to Gentiles (Acts 16:1 ); hence there is no mention of men being present. More arbitrary is the explanation of Calvin: “Vel ad coetus tantum muliebres destinatus erat locus ille, vel apud viros frigebat religio, ut saltem tardius adessent;” and of Schrader: the Jews had been expelled from the city.

Verse 14

Acts 16:14 . Καί τις κ . τ . λ .] Also a woman was listening , etc. Λυδία was a common female name (Hor. Od . i. 8, iii. 9, vi. 20), and therefore it remains doubtful whether she received her name “a solo natali” (Grotius, de Wette, and others).

πορφυρόπωλις ] ἡ τὰ πορφυρᾶ (fabrics and clothes dyed purple) πωλοῦσα (Hesychius, Phot. Bibl . 201. 41). The dyeing of purple was actively carried on (Val. Fl. iv. 368; Claud. Rapt. P . i. 274; Plin. H. N. vii. 57; Ael. H. A . 4. 46; Max. Tyr. xl. 2), especially in Lydia, to which Thyatira belonged (Ptol. v. 2; Plin. v. 31), and an inscription found at Thyatira particularly mentions the guild of dyers of that place. See Spon. Miscell. erud. ant . p. 113.

σεβομ . τ . θεόν ] A female proselyte . See on Acts 13:16 ; Acts 13:43 .

ἧς ὁ Κύρ . διήνοιξε τ . καρδ .] Luke recognises the attentive interest , which Lydia with her heart unclosed directed to the word, as produced by the influence of the exalted Christ ( ὁ Κύριος ) working for the promotion of His kingdom, who opened ( διήνοιξε ) the heart of Lydia, i.e. wrought in her self-consciousness, as the centre and sphere of action of her inner vital energy, the corresponding readiness, in order that she might attend to what was preached ( προσέχ . τοῖς λαλουμ .). The fidem habere (Grotius, Kuinoel, Heinrichs) followed, but still was not the προσέχειν itself . Comp. on Acts 8:6 . Moreover, Chrysostom correctly remarks: τὸ μὲν οὖν ἀνοίξαι τοῦ Θεοῦ · τὸ δὲ προσέχειν αὐτῆς · ὥστε καὶ θεῖον καὶ ἀνθρώπινον ἦν . Comp. Malachi 1:4; Malachi 1:4 ; Luke 24:45 ; Ephesians 1:18 . She experienced the motus inevitabiles of grace, to which she offered no resistance, but with willing submission rendered the moral self-conscious compliance by which she arrived at faith. [53]

[53] Comp. Luthardt, vom freien Willen , p. 427 f.

Verse 15

Acts 16:15 . Καὶ ὁ οἶκος αὐτῆς ] Of what members her family consisted, cannot be determined. This passage and Acts 16:33 , with Acts 18:8 and 1 Corinthians 1:16 , are appealed to in order to prove infant baptism in the apostolic age, or at least to make it probable. “Quis credat, in tot familiis nullum fuisse infantem, et Judaeos circumcidendis, gentiles lustrandis illis assuetos non etiam obtulisse eos baptismo?” Bengel. See also Lange, apost. Zeitalt . II. p. 504 ff. But on this question the following remarks are to be made: (1) If, in the Jewish and Gentile families which were converted to Christ, there were children, their baptism is to be assumed in those cases , when they were so far advanced that they could and did confess their faith on Jesus as the Messiah; for this was the universal, absolutely necessary qualification for the reception of baptism; comp. also Acts 16:31-33 ; Acts 18:8 . (2) If, on the other hand, there were children still incapable of confessing, baptism could not be administered to those to whom that, which was the necessary presupposition of baptism for Christian sanctification, was still wanting. (3) Such young children, whose parents were Christians, rather fell under the point of view of 1 Corinthians 7:14 , according to which, in conformity with the view of the apostolic church, the children of Christians were no longer regarded as ἀκάθαρτοι , but as ἅγιοι , and that not on the footing of having received the character of holiness by baptism, but as having part in the Christian ἁγιότης by their fellowship with their Christian parents. See on 1 Cor. l.c . Besides, the circumcision of children must have been retained for a considerable time among the Jewish-Christians, according to Acts 21:21 . Therefore (4) the baptism of the children of Christians , of which no trace is found in the N.T. (not even in Ephesians 6:1 , in opposition to Hofmann, Schriftbew . II. 2, p. 192), is not to be held as an apostolic ordinance (Origen, in ep. ad Rom . lib. v.: “Ab apostolis traditione accepit ecclesia”), as, indeed, it encountered early and long resistance; but it is an institution of the church , [54] which gradually arose in post-apostolic times in connection with the development of ecclesiastical life (comp. Ehrenfeuchter, prakt. Theol . I. p. 82 f.) and of doctrinal teaching, not certainly attested before Tertullian, and by him still decidedly opposed, and, although already defended by Cyprian, only becoming general after the time of Augustine in virtue of that connection. Yet, even apart from the ecclesiastical premiss of a stern doctrine of original sin and of the devil going beyond Scripture, from which even exorcism arose, the continued maintenance of infant baptism, as the objective attribution of spiritually creative grace in virtue of the plan of salvation established for every individual in the fellowship of the church, is so much the more justified, as this objective attribution takes place with a view to the future subjective appropriation . And this subjective appropriation has so necessarily to emerge with the development of self-consciousness and of knowledge through faith, that in default thereof the church would have to recognise in the baptized no true members, but only membra mortua . This relation of connection with creative grace, in so far as the church is its sphere of operation, is a theme which, in presence of the attacks of Baptists and Rationalists, must overstep [55] the domain of exegesis (Matthew 18:14 ; Mark 10:13 ff.; Matthew 28:19 ; John 3:6 ; Romans 6:3 f.; Colossians 2:12 ; Titus 3:5 ; 1 Peter 3:21 [56] ), and be worked out in that of dogmatics, yet without the addition of confirmation as any sort of supplement to baptism.

εἰ κεκρίκατε ] if ye have judged . This judgment was formed either tacitly or openly on the ground of the whole conduct of Lydia even before her baptism, the latter itself was a witness of it; hence the perfect is here entirely in order (in opposition to Kuinoel, Heinrichs, and others), and is not to be taken for the present .

εἰ , in the sense of ἐπεί , is here chosen with delicate modesty. Comp. Dissen, ad Dem. de cor . p. 195.

με πιστ . τ . Κυρ εἶναι ] that I am a believer in the Lord (Christ), i.e . giving faith to His word and His promise, which ye have proclaimed (Acts 16:13-14 ). Comp. Acts 16:34 ; Acts 18:8 , where Bengel well remarks: “Ipse dominus Jesus testabatur per Paulum.”

παρεβιάσατο ] Comp. Luk 24:29 ; 1 Samuel 28:23 . The use of this purposely-chosen strong word, constraining , is not to be explained from the refusal at first of those requested (Chrysostom, Bengel, comp. Ewald), but from the vehement urgency of the feeling of gratitude.

[54] It is the most striking example of the recognition of historical tradition in the evangelical church. Comp. Holtzmann, Kanon u. Tradit . p. 399 ff.

[55] Comp. Martensen, d. christl. Taufe u. d. baptist. Frage , Gotha 1860, Exodus 2:0 , and Dogmat . § 255.

[56] See also Richter in the Stud. u. Krit . 1861, p. 225 ff.

Verse 16

Acts 16:16 . That Paul and his companions accepted this pressing invitation of Lydia, and chose her house for their abode, Luke leaves the reader to infer from καὶ παρεβιάσατο ἡμᾶς , Acts 16:15 , and he now passes over to another circumstance which occurred on another walk to the same προσευχή mentioned before. What now follows thus belongs to quite another day. Heinrichs and Kuinoel assume that it attached itself directly to the preceding: that the conversion and baptism of Lydia had occurred while the women (Acts 16:13 ) were waiting at the προσευχή for the commencement of divine worship; and that, when they were about to enter into the προσευχή , this affair with the soothsaying damsel occurred. In opposition to this it may be urged, first, that Acts 16:15 would only interrupt and disturb the narrative (especially by καὶ παρεβιάσατο ἡμᾶς ); secondly, that the beginning of Acts 16:16 itself ( ἐγένετο δέ ) indicates the narration of a new event; and thirdly, that the instruction and baptism of Lydia, and still more of her whole house, cannot naturally be limited to so short a period.

According to the reading ἔχουσαν πνεῦμα πύθωνα (see the critical remarks), the passage is to be interpreted: who was possessed by a spirit Python , i.e. by a demon, which prophesied from her belly . The damsel was a ventriloquist, and as such practised soothsaying. The name of the well-known Delphic dragon, Πύθων (Apollod. i. 4. 1), became subsequently the name of a δαιμόνιον μαντικόν (Suidas, who has the quotation: τάς τε πνεύματι Πύθωνος ἐνθουσιώσας … ἠξίου τὸ ἐσόμενον παραγορεῦσαι , but was also, according to Plut. de def. orac. 9, p. 414 E, used appellatively , and that of soothsayers, who spoke from the belly . So also Suidas: ἐγγαστρίμυθος , ἐγγαστρίμαντις , ὅν τινες νῦν πύθωνα , Σοφοκλῆς δὲ στερνόμαντιν . This use of πύθων , corresponding to the Hebrew אוֹב (which the LXX. render by ἐγγαστρίμυθος , Leviticus 19:31 ; Leviticus 20:6 ; Leviticus 20:27 ; see Schleusner, Thes. II. p. 222), and also passing over to the Rabbins (R. Salomo on Deuteronomy 18:11 ; Sanhedr. f. 65. 1 in Wetstein), is to be assumed in our passage, as otherwise we could not see why Luke should have used this peculiar word, whose specific meaning (ventriloquist-soothsayer) was certainly the less strange to him, as the thing itself had so important allusions in the O.T. and LXX. suggesting it to those possessed of Jewish culture (1 Samuel 28:7 ), just as among the Greeks the jugglery which the ventriloquists (the Εὑρυκλεῖς or Εὑρυκλεῖδαι ) practised was well enough known; see Hermann, gottesd. Alterth. § xlii. 16. Without doubt, the damsel was considered by those who had their fortunes told by her as possessed by a divinity; and that she so regarded herself, is to be inferred from the effect of the apostolic word (Acts 16:18 ). Hers was a state of enthusiastic possession by this fixed idea, in which she actually might be capable of a certain clairvoyance, as in the transaction in our passage. Paul, in his Christian view (comp. 1 Corinthians 10:20 ), regards this condition of hers as that of a demoniac; Luke also so designates it, and treats her accordingly.

τοῖς κυρίοις ] There were thus several, who in succession or conjointly had her in service for the sake of gain. Comp. Walch, de servis vet. fatidicis, Jen. 1761.

Verses 17-18

Acts 16:17-18 . The soothsaying damsel, similar to a somnambulist, [57] reads in the souls of the apostle and his companions, and announces their characteristic dignity. But Paul, after he had first patiently let her alone for many days, sees in her exclamation a recognition on the part of the demon dwelling within her, as Jesus Himself met with recognition and homage from demons (Mark 3:11 ); and in order not to accept for himself and his work demoniacal testimony, which would not of itself be hushed, at length being painfully grieved ( διαπονηθείς , see on Acts 4:2 ), and turning to her as she followed him, he, in the name of Jesus Christ (comp. Acts 3:6 , Acts 4:7 ), commands the demon to come out of her. Now, as the slave considered Paul to be the servant of the most high God, who thus must have power over the god by whom she believed herself possessed, her fixed idea was at once destroyed by that command of power, and she was consequently restored from her overstrained state of mind to her former natural condition. Of a special set purpose , for which the slave made her exclamation, οὗτοι οἱ ἄνθρωποι κ . τ . λ . (Chrysostom: the god by whom she was possessed, Apollo, hoped, on account of this exclamation, to be left in possession of her; Walch: the damsel so cried out, in order to get money from Paul; Ewald: in order to offer her services to them; Camerarius, Morus, Rosenmüller, Heinrichs, Kuinoel: in order to exalt her own reputation), there is no hint in the text; it was the involuntary and irresistible outburst of her morbidly exalted soothsaying nature.

[57] But she was not a somnambulist. See Delitzsch, Psychol. p. 310.

Verses 19-21

Acts 16:19-21 . The first persecution which is reported to us as stirred up on the part of the Gentiles . Comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:2 .

ἐπὶ τοὺς ἄρχοντας … τοῖς στρατηγοῖς ] When they saw that with the departure of the god from the slave their hope of further gain had departed ( ἐξῆλθεν ), they dragged Paul and Silas (not Timothy and Luke along with them, but only the two principal persons) to the market (where, according to the custom of the Greeks, the courts of justice were erected) to the archons. [58] But these, the city-judges (comp. Luke 12:58 , and the archons in Athens in Hermann’s Staatsalterth. § 138), must have referred the matter to the στρατηγοί ; and therefore the narrative proceeds: Κ . ΠΡΟΣΑΓΆΓΟΝΤΕς ΑὐΤΟῪς Κ . Τ . Λ . The accusation amounted to revolt against the Roman political authority .

The στρατηγοί are the praetores , as the two chief Roman magistrates (the duumviri , Cic. de leg. agr. 35) in towns which were colonies called themselves. Diod. Sic. T. X. p. 146, ed. Bip.; Arrian, Epict. ii. 1. 26; Polyb. xxxiii. 1. 5; Spanheim, ad Julian. Orat. I. p. 76, de usu et praest. num. I. p. 697, II. p. 601; Alberti, Obss. p. 253. The name has its origin from the position of the old Greek strategoi. Dem. 400, 26; Aristot. Polit. vii. 8, ed. Becker, II. p. 1322; Hermann, Staatsalterth . § 153; Dorville, ad Char. p. 447.

ἐκταράσσ .] to bring into utter disorder . See on ἐκπεπλήρωκε , Acts 13:33 ; Plut. Coriol. 19 : “Suberat utilitas privata; publica obtenditur” (Bengel).

ἡμῶν τ . πόλ .] ἩΜῶΝ prefixed with haughty emphasis, and answering to the following “ though they are Jews.

Ῥωμαίοις οὐσι ] proud contrast to the odious ἸΟΥΔΑῖΟΙ ὙΠΆΡΧΟΝΤΕς . Calvin aptly says: “Versute composita fuit haec criminatio ad gravandos Christi servos; nam ab una parte obtendunt Romanum nomen, quo nihil erat magis favorabile: rursum ex nomine Judaico, quod tunc infame erat, conflant illis invidiam; nam quantum ad religionem, plus habebant Romani affinitatis cum aliis quibuslibet, quam cum gente Judaica.”

The introduction of strange religious customs and usages ( ἜΘΗ ), in opposition to the native religion , was strictly interdicted by the Romans. See Wetstein in loc. Possibly here also the yet fresh impression of the edict of Claudius (see on Acts 18:2 ) co-operated.

[58] Not different from πολιτάρχαι , Acts 17:6 .

Verses 22-23

Acts 16:22-23 . And at the same time (“cum ancillae dominis,” Bengel) the multitude rose up (in a tumultuary manner) against them; therefore the praetors, intimidated thereby, in order temporarily to still the urgency of the mob, commanded the accused to be scourged without examination, and then, until further orders, to be thrown into strict confinement.

περιῤῥήξ . αὐτῶν τὰ ἱμάτια ] after having torn off their clothes . The form of expression of Acts 16:23 shows that the praetors did not themselves (in opposition to Bengel) do this piece of work, which was necessary and customary for laying bare the upper part of the body (Grotius and Wolf in loc. ), but caused it to be done by their subordinate lictors. Erasmus erroneously desired to read αὑτῶν , so that the praetors would have rent their own clothes from indignation. Apart from the non-Roman character of such a custom, there may be urged against this view the compound περιῤῥ ., which denotes that the rending took place all round about the whole body (Plat. Crit. p. 113 D: περιῤῥήγνυσι κύκλῳ , Polyb. xv. 33, 4, al.; comp. Tittmann, Synon. p. 221).

ἐκέλευον ] The reference of the relative tense is to the personal presence of the narrator; see Winer, p. 253 [E. T. 337].

Paul and Silas submitted to this maltreatment (one of the three mentioned in 2 Corinthians 11:25 ) with silent self-denial, and without appealing to their Roman citizenship, committing everything to God; see on Acts 16:37 . Men of strong character may, amidst unjust suffering, exhibit in presence of their oppressors their moral defiance , even in resignation . We make this remark in opposition to Zeller (comp. Baur), who finds the brutal conduct of the praetors, and the non-employment by the apostles of their legal privilege in self-defence (which Paul, moreover, renounced not merely on this occasion, 2 Corinthians 11:25 ), inexplicable. Bengel well remarks: “Non semper omnibus praesidiis omni modo utendum; divino regimini auscultandum.” In a similar plight, Acts 22:25 , Paul found it befitting to interpose an assertion of his privilege, which he here only used for the completion of his victory over the persecution, Acts 16:37 , a result which, in Acts 22:25 , according to the divine destination which he was aware of, he recognised as unattainable.

Verse 24

Acts 16:24 . The zealous jailor fulfilled the command ἀσφαλῶς τηρεῖν by a twofold measure; he not only put the accused into the prison-ward situated more (than the other wards) in the interior of the house ( εἰς τὴν ἐσωτέραν φυλακήν ), but also secured their feet in the stocks.

εἰς τὸ ξύλον , in nervum (Plaut. Captiv. iii. 5. 71; Liv. viii. 28), i.e. in the wooden block in which the feet, stretched apart from each other, were enclosed, called also ποδοκάκη and ποδοστράβη , in Heb. סַד (Job 13:27 ; Job 33:11 ). See Herod. vi. 75, ix. 37, and later writers, Grotius and Wetstein in loc.

Verses 25-26

Acts 16:25-26 . In joyful consciousness of suffering for the glorification of Christ (Acts 5:41 ), they sing in the solemn stillness of the night prayers of praise to God, [59] and thereby keep their fellow-prisoners awake, so that they listened to them ( ἐπηκροῶντο ). Whether these are to be conceived as confined in the same ἐσωτέραν φυλακήν , or possibly near to it but more to the front, or whether they were in both localities, cannot be determined. Then suddenly there arises an earthquake, etc. God at once rewards this is the significant relation of Acts 16:25-26 the joy of faith and of suffering on the part of Paul and Silas by miraculous interposition. The objection, which Baur and Zeller (comp. Gfrörer, heil. Sage , I. p. 446) take to the truth of this narrative, turns on the presupposed inconceivableness of miracles in general. In connection with the fiction assumed by them, even the ἐπηκροῶντο … δέσμιοι is supposed only to have for its object “to make good the causal connection between the earthquake and the prayer” (Zeller).

πάντων ] thus also of those possibly to be found in other parts of the prison. On ἀνέθη , comp. Plut. Alex. 73: τοὺς δεσμοὺς ἀνεῖναι , Eustath. ad Od. viii. p. 313. 17. The reading ἀνελύθη (Bornemann) is a correct gloss.

[59] “Nihil crus sentit in nervo, quum animus in coelo est,” Tertull.

Verses 27-28

Acts 16:27-28 . The jailor, aroused by the shock and the noise, hastens to the prison, and when he sees the doors which (one behind another) led to it open, and so takes it for granted that the prisoners have escaped, he wishes, from fear of the vengeance of the praetors, to kill himself which (in opposition to Zeller’s objection) he may have sufficiently indicated by expressions of his despair. Then Paul calls, etc.

μάχαιραν ] a sword , which he got just at hand (Mark 14:47 ); with the article it would denote the sword which he was then wearing, his sword.

ἅπαντες ] Thus the rest of the prisoners, involuntarily detained by the whole miraculous event, and certainly also in part by the imposing example of Paul and Silas, had not used their release from chains (Acts 16:26 ) and the opening of the prison for their own liberation. The ἐνθάδε does not affirm that they had all come together into the prison of Paul, but only stands opposed to ἐκπεφευγέναι . None is away; we are, all and every one, here!

The loosening of the chains , moreover, and that without any injury to the limbs of the enchained, is, in view of the miraculous character of the event, not to be judged according to the laws of mechanics (in opposition to Gfrörer, Zeller), any more than the omission of flight on the part of the other prisoners is to be judged according to the usual practice of criminals. The prisoners were arrested, and felt themselves sympathetically detained by the miracle which had happened; and therefore the suggestion to which Chrysostom has recourse, that they had not seen the opening of the doors, is inappropriate.

Verses 29-30

Acts 16:29-30 . Φῶτα ] Lights , i.e. lamps (Xen. Hell. v. 1. 8; Lucian. Conviv. 15; Plut. Ant. 26), several , in order to light up and strictly search everything.

ἔντρομος γενόμ . προσέπ .] He now saw in Paul and Silas no longer criminals, but the favourites and confidants of the gods; the majesty which had been maltreated inspired him with terror and respectful submission.

ἵνα σωθῶ ] in order that I may obtain salvation . He means the σωτηρία , which Paul and Silas had announced; for what he had heard of them, that they made known ὁδὸν σωτηρίας (Acts 16:17 ), was now established in his conviction as truth. This lively conviction longs to have part in the salvation, and his sincere longing desires to fulfil that by which this participation is conditioned. Morus, Stolz, Rosenmüller render it: “in order that I may escape the punishment of the gods on account of your harsh treatment.” But, if Luke desired to have σωθῶ and σωθήσῃ (Acts 16:31 ) understood in different senses, he must have appended to σωθῶ a more precise definition; for the meaning thus assigned to it suggests itself the less naturally, as the jailor, who had only acted as an instrument under higher direction (comp. Chrysost.), could not reasonably apprehend any vengeance of the gods.

Verses 31-32

Acts 16:31-32 . The epanorthosis σὺ καὶ ὁ οἶκός σου extends to πίστευσον and σωθήσῃ

They lay down faith on Jesus as the condition of σωτηρία , and nothing else; but saving faith is always in the N.T. that which has holiness as its effect (Romans 6:0 ), not “a human figment and opinion which the depths of the heart never get to know,” but “a divine work in us which transforms and begets us anew from God” (Luther’s Preface to the Epistle to the Romans ), without, however, making justification, which is the act of the imputation of faith , to include sanctification. See on Romans 1:17 .

For the sake of this requirement of believing, they set forth the gospel to the father of the family and all his household (see on Acts 8:25 ).

Verses 33-34

Acts 16:33-34 . Παραλαβ . αὐτοὺς … ἔλουσεν ] he took and washed them . Vividness of delineation. Probably he led them to a neighbouring water, perhaps in the court of the house, in which his baptism and that of his household was immediately completed. [60]

ἀπὸ τῶν πληγῶν ] a pregnant expression: so that they were cleansed from the stripes (from the blood of the inflicted wounds, Acts 16:22 f.). See Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 276 f. [E. T. 322].

παραχρῆμα ] the adverb emphatically placed at the end; comp. on Matthew 2:10 , and Kühner, § 863. 1.

ἀναγαγών ] We are to think of the official dwelling of the jailor as being built above the prison-cells; comp. Acts 9:39 ; Luke 4:5 ; Luke 22:67 .

παρέθηκε τράπεζαν ] quite the Latin apposuit mensam , i.e. he gave a repast; to be explained from the custom of setting out the table before those who were to be entertained, Hom. Od. v. 92, xxi. 29; Polyb. xxxix. 2. 11.

πανοικί ] σὺν ὅλῳ τῷ οἴκῳ , Phavorinus. It belongs to πεπιστ . A more classical form (yet see Plat. Eryx. p. 392 C), according to the Atticists, would have been πανοικίᾳ or πανοικησίᾳ , Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 514 ff. See examples from Philo in Loesner, p. 208.

πεπιστευκὼς τῷ Θεῷ ] because he had become and was a believer on God (perfect). He, the Gentile, now believed the divine promises of salvation announced to him by Paul and Silas (Acts 16:32 ); comp. Acts 16:15 ; Acts 18:8 . That this his πιστεύειν was definitely Christian faith, and accordingly equivalent to πιστεύειν τῷ Κυρίῳ , was self-evident to the reader; see also Acts 16:32 .

That, after Acts 16:34 , Paul and Silas had returned to prison, follows from Acts 16:36-40 .

[60] This is confirmed by the fact that baptism took place by complete immersion, in opposition to Baumgarten, p. 515, who, transferring the performance of baptism to the house, finds here “an approximation to the later custom of simplifying the ceremony,” according to which complete immersion did not take place. Immersion was, in fact, quite an essential part of the symbolism of baptism (Romans 6:0 ).

Verses 35-36

Acts 16:35-36 . The news of the miraculous earthquake, perhaps also the particulars which they might in the meantime have learned concerning the two prisoners, may have made the praetors have scruples concerning the hasty maltreatment. They consider it advisable to have nothing further to do with them, and to get rid of them forthwith by releasing them. Curtly and contemptuously ( τοὺς ἀνθρ . ἐκείνους ), in order to maintain at least thereby their stern official attitude, they notified the order by their lictors ( ῥαβδούχους , bearers of the fasces ) to the jailor, who, with congratulatory sympathy, announces it to the prisoners. According to Baumgarten, the motives for the severity of the previous day had lost their force with the praetors during the night, a point in which there is expressed a distinction from the persistent enmity of the Sanhedrists in Jerusalem. But this would not furnish an adequate ground for a proceeding running so entirely counter to the course of criminal procedure. The praetors must have become haunted by apprehension and ill at ease, and they must therefore have received some sort of information concerning the miraculous occurrences.

ἐν εἰρήνῃ ] happily . See on Mark 5:34 ; comp. on Acts 15:33 .

Verse 37

Acts 16:37 . Πρὸς αὐτούς ] to the jailor and the lictors; the latter had thus in the meantime come themselves into the prison.

δείραντες κ . τ . λ .] after they had beaten us publicly without judicial condemnation, us who are Romans . This sets forth, in terse language precisely embracing the several elements, their treatment as an open violation, partly of the law of nature and nations in general ( ἀκατακρίτους , found neither in the LXX. or Apocrypha, nor in Greek writers), partly of the Roman law in particular. For exemption from the disgrace of being scourged by rods and whips was secured to every Roman citizen by the Lex Valeria in the year 254 U.C. (Liv. ii. 8; Valer. Max. iv. 1; Dion. Hal. v. p. 292), and by the Lex Porcia in the year 506 U.C. (Liv. x. 9; Cic. pro Rabir. 4), before every Roman tribunal (comp. Euseb. H. E. v. 1); therefore Cicero, in Verr. v. 57, says of the exclamation, Civis Romanus sum: “saepe multis in ultimis terris opem inter barbaros et salutem tulit.”

That Silas was also a Roman citizen, is rightly inferred from the plural form of expression, in which there is no reason to find a mere synecdoche. The distinction, which was implied in the bestowal of this privilege, cannot be adduced against the historical character of the narrative (Zeller), as we know not the occasion and circumstances of its acquisition. But how had Paul (by his birth, Acts 22:18 ). Roman citizenship? Certainly not simply as a native of Tarsus. For Tarsus was neither a colonia nor a municipium , but an urbs libera , to which the privilege of having governing authorities of its own, under the recognition, however, of the Roman supremacy, was given by Augustus after the civil war, as well as other privileges (Dio Chrys. II. p. 36, ed. Reiske), but not Roman citizenship; for this very fact would, least of all, have remained historically unknown, and acquaintance with the origin of the apostle from Tarsus would have protected him from the decree of scourging (see Acts 21:29 ; comp. with Acts 22:24 ff.). This much, therefore, only may be surely decided, that his father or a yet earlier ancestor had acquired the privilege of citizenship either as a reward of merit (Suet. Aug. 47) or by purchase (Acts 22:28 ; Dio Cass. lx. 17; Joseph. Bell. Jud. ii. 14), and had transmitted it to the apostle. According to Zeller’s arbitrary preconceptions, the mention of the Roman citizenship here and in chap. 22. had only the unhistorical purpose in view “of recommending the apostle to the Romans as a native Roman.”

καὶ νῦν λάθρα ἡμᾶς ἑκβάλλ .] is indignantly opposed to δείραντες ἡμᾶς δημοσίᾳ … ἔβαλον εἰς φυλακήν : and now do they cast us out secretly? The present denotes the action as already begun (by the order given). Paul, however, for the honour of himself and his work, disdains this secret dismissal, that it might not appear (and this the praetors intended!) that he and Silas had escaped . On the previous day he had, on the contrary, disdained to avert the maltreatment by an appeal to his citizenship, see on Acts 16:23 . The usual opinion is (so also de Wette) that the tumult in the forum had prevented him from asserting his citizenship. But it is obvious of itself that even the worst tumult, at Acts 16:22 or Acts 16:23 , would have admitted a “ Civis Romanus sum ,” had Paul wished to make such an appeal.

οὐ γὰρ ἀλλά ] not so, but . It is to be analyzed thus: for they are not to cast us out secretly; on the contrary ( ἀλλά ) they are, etc. γάρ specifies the reason why the preceding (indignant) question is put, and ἀλλά answers adversatively to the οὐ . See Hartung, Partikell. II. p. 48; comp. Devar. p. 169, ed. Klotz; also Stallb. ad Protag. p. 343 D, and the examples in Wetstein.

αὐτοί ] in their own persons they are to bring us out.

Verses 38-39

Acts 16:38-39 . Ἐφοβήθησαν ] The reproach contained in ἀκατακρίτους did not trouble them, but the violation of citizenship was an offence against the majesty of the Roman people, and as such was severely punished, Dion. Hal. xi. p. 725; Grotius in loc .

Acts 16:39 . What a change in the state of affairs: ἐλθόντες … παρεκάλεσαν (namely, to acquiesce) … ἐξαγαγόντες … ἠρώτων !

ἐξέρχεσθαι with the simple genitive, as in Matthew 10:14 . Very frequent with Greek writers since subsequent to Homer. On παρακαλεῖν , to give fair words , comp. on 1 Corinthians 4:13 .

Verse 40

Acts 16:40 . Before they comply with the ἐξελθεῖν τῆς πόλεως (Acts 16:39 ), the apostolic heartfelt longing constrains them first to repair to the house of Lydia, to exhort ( παρεκάλεσαν ) the new converts assembled there that they should not become wavering in their Christian confession. And from this house grew the church, to which, of all that Paul founded, he has erected the most eulogistic monument in his Epistle in this sense also the first church which he established in Europe.

ἐξῆλθον ] Only Paul and Silas, as they alone were affected by the inquiry, appear now to have departed from Philippi. Luke at least, as the use of the third person teaches us, did not go with them. Paul left him behind to build up the youthful church. Whether, however, Timothy (Acts 16:1 ff.) also remained behind, cannot be determined. He is not again named until Acts 17:14 , but he may nevertheless have already departed from Philippi, and need not necessarily have rejoined them till in Beroea or Thessalonica.


In the rejection of the entire history as history Baur and Zeller (comp. Hausrath) essentially agree; it is alleged to be formed in accordance with Acts 12:7 ff., as an apologetic parallelism of Paul with Peter. But as Philippian persecutions are mentioned also in 1 Thessalonians 2:2 , the opinions formed by them concerning the relation of the two passages are opposite. Baur makes 1 Thessalonians 2:2 to be derived from the narrative before us; whereas Zeller, considering the Epistles to the Thessalonians as older, supposes the author of the Acts to have “concocted” (p. 258) his narrative from 1 Thessalonians 2:2 .

Bibliographical Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Acts 16". Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hmc/acts-16.html. 1832.
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