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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Acts 16

Verse 1

Acts 16:1 . [ Μαθητής τις , a certain disciple ) Paul already previously had preached the Gospel in that place. V. g.] Ἕλληνος , a Greek ) There is not added, a believer .

Verse 3

Acts 16:3 . Λαβὼν ) This is redundant. διὰ τοὺς Ἰουδαίους , on account of the Jews ) For there was no longer need to do so on account of believers [because of the Jerusalem ordinance]: Acts 16:4 .

Verse 4

Acts 16:4 . Αὐτοῖς , to them ) to the brethren .

Verse 5

Acts 16:5 . Ἐστερεοῦντο , were strengthened ) now that the disputation as to circumcision has been done away with: ch. Acts 15:1 . A rare increase, at once in numbers, and in the degree of faith.

Verse 6

Acts 16:6 . Διελθόντες ) when they had travelled through , the Spirit not forbidding them: for the Galatian region was not a part of the Asia that is here named. Phrygia was a part of Asia, and in it already they had spoken all that was necessary. κωλυθέντες , having been forbidden ) by some internal dictation (suggestion). Often the reluctance of the mind, the cause of which the ungodly cannot see, is not to be despised. Again, as to the impulse to any course of action, see ch. Acts 18:5 , Acts 17:16 . λαλῆσαι , to speak ) Not yet was it the ripe time: they were now appointed to make Macedonia their destination: other preachers might come to the people of Asia; nay, even Lydia was one belonging to Asia, Acts 16:14 . And afterwards it was done most abundantly: ch. Acts 19:10 .

Verse 7

Acts 16:7 . Μυσίαν , Mysia ) as being a part of Asia. [ ἐπείραζον , they tried ) If they had been accustomed to use casting of lots, they would not have neglected to try the matter (put it to the proof) in this way, at least in this place. V. g.] Βιθυνίαν , Bithynia ) a province distinct from Asia: 1 Peter 1:1 . Otherwise they would not have tried [ assayed : viz. after having been forbidden by the Holy Ghost to preach in Asia ]. οὐκ εἴασε , suffered them not ) just as in Asia.

Verse 9

Acts 16:9 . Ὅραμα διὰ τῆς νυκτὸς , a vision in the night ) It is not said to have been a dream; although it was the night. So ch. Acts 18:9 . No other dream is mentioned in the New Testament, except the dreams which were vouchsafed to Joseph in those earliest times, Matthew 1:2 , and the dream of the wife of Pilate, a Gentile. In Acts 2:17 , the words are repeated from Joel. The night is seasonable for learning the Divine will. ἀνὴρ , a man ) Who represented not Lydia, nor perhaps the gaoler of Philippi, but rather all from among the Macedonians who were about to believe, even though they themselves did not yet know the fact; for the man says, Help US. He was an angel, or a kind of apparition, as in ch. Acts 10:11 . Μακεδὼν , a Macedonian ) whom, from his costume, or language, or some other indication, Paul distinguished; the fact (event) afterwards corresponding thereto. As yet Paul had not come into Europe. βοήθησον , help ) by (preaching) the Gospel, Acts 16:10 , against Satan against blindness.

Verse 10

Acts 16:10 . Εἶδε , he saw ) Paul alone saw it: all however are guided by his direction. ἐζητήσαμεν , we sought ) having sought out a ship. Here the language begins in the first person, plural number. Therefore the writer of this itinerary, Luke, was present on the occasion. From Troas he accompanied Paul to Philippi: and afterwards from Philippi to Troas, ch. Acts 20:6 , and still farther. συμβιβάζοντες , feeling assured ) They felt, owing to this vision, as much assured as they needed to be for undertaking the journey. Justus Jonas says, “Now even though such a vision is not vouchsafed, each one will be taught by his own faith and by the Spirit, even though his call be through the instrumentality of men, whether his call be of GOD, and whether he pleases GOD.” προσκέκληται , hath called to, summoned us) Therefore the Lord was already there; and the vision in Act 16:9 adumbrated His previous (anticipatory) presence among the Macedonians.

Verse 11

Acts 16:11 . Εὐθυδρομήσαμεν , we came with a straight course ) The favourable voyage increased their confidence. But even to this day Europe saith, All hail to you (the first preachers of the Gospel in Europe).

Verse 12

Acts 16:12 . Πρώτη τῆς μερίδος , first of that part ) The Hither (nearer) part of Macedonia, towards Asia, contained Neapolis: the more remote part contained Philippi: the river Strymon flowed between. No cause is assigned why they passed by Neapolis: perhaps there was no synagogue there, at least no reason for stopping there. The first town after that, which was also, according to the order of their way, in that part of Macedonia, was Philippi. The article has a demonstrative force. It is a needless conjecture, to propose reading πρώτης for πρώτη τῆς . See Baumg. I. H. E., 318. κολωνία ) A colony , viz. a Roman one. [95] Xiphilinus acutes the penult, κολωνία . [96]

[95] And therefore the Greek term ἀποικία is not used, but the Latin, colonia . E. and T.

[96] So ACDE; and so Lachm. But B has κολώνεια , acuted on the antepenult. E. and T.

Verse 13

Acts 16:13 . Ἔξω , outside ) The Jews, either by their own wish or that of others (the nations among whom they sojourned), used to hold their meetings removed away from the Gentiles. παρὰ ποταμὸν , by a river side ) Often sacred rites were performed, and temples were built, near waters. This was convenient for purification of the body. Even independently of this cause, a shore, or land near water, is more suitable and pleasant as a place of meeting, than the middle of an open plain. ἐνομίζετο ) That νομίζεται , which is a matter of law, right, or custom. προσευχὴ , prayer ) Neither the house, nor the act of praying, is here signified, but the ordinance: Acts 16:16 . There a meeting used to be held for the sake of prayer; whether there was a building there, or not. As to the house of the synagogue meeting, it is not said, οὗ ἐιομίζετο συιαγωγὴ εἶναι . καθίσαντες , having sat down ) They did not at once betake themselves to teaching. γυναιξὶ , unto the women ) If other men had been present to address them, Paul would not immediately have begun to speak: ch. Acts 13:14-15 [In the synagogue of Antioch in Pisidia, he waited until he was called on by the rulers of the synagogue].

Verse 14

Acts 16:14 . Λυδία , Lydia ) The name of this woman, or else her surname, which was better known than her name. The city, Thyatira , is in Lydia , as most of the cities, which also occur in the Apocalypse. πορφυρόπωλις , a seller of purple ) The women of Lydia were celebrated for the art of purple-dyeing: thence also arose their merchandise. πόλεως , of the city ) Either the native city simply, or also the commerce of the city (its staple manufacture), which Lydia was engaged in, is indicated. σεβομένη τὸν Θεὸν , who worshipped GOD) She had imbibed some knowledge from the prophets. διήνοιξε , opened ) Διανοίγεσδαι , to be opened , is properly said of the eyes: and the heart (understanding) has eyes. Ephesians 1:18 , “The eyes of your understanding ( καρδίας , heart) being enlightened.” The heart is in itself closed; but it is the prerogative of GOD to open it. So Malachi 1:4; Malachi 1:4 , διανοίξαι ( ὁ Θεὸς ) τὴν καρδίαν ὑμῶν , may God open your heart .

Verse 15

Acts 16:15 . Οἶκος , her household ) Who can believe that in so many families there was not a single infant? and that the Jews, who were accustomed to circumcise their infants, and the Gentiles, to purify their infants by washings (lustrations), did not also present them for baptism? παρεκάλεσε , she besought ) The mind of believers clings to those by whom they have been converted. εἰ , if, seeing that ) It expresses in this passage, not doubt, but the force of making petition. κεκρίκατε , ye have judged ) They had so judged, in the fact that they had conferred baptism on her. παρεβιάσατο , she constrained ) For the sake of avoiding appearance of evil, they did not immediately comply, lest they should seem to have come into Macedonia for the sake of livelihood.

Verse 16

Acts 16:16 . Πύθωνα ) Hesychius explains πύθεν as ὁ ἐγγαστρίμυθος , ventriloquist diviner : although πύθων in a wider sense denotes any one whatsoever, from whom one may πυθέσθαι , inquire . ἐργασίαν ) Fraud nourishes such gain : true religion does away with it.

Verse 17

Acts 16:17 . Κατακολουθήσασα , having followed close after ) near, much, and from behind. Comp. the ἐπιστρέψας , having turned , in Acts 16:18 . οὗτοι , these ) Noble words; but there was no need of such a testimony, but rather need of repressing it, lest Paul should seem to have dealings with this spirit. It was not one of the worst spirits, inasmuch as it did not sooner move Paul to restrain it: but yet it deserved to be expelled.

Verse 18

Acts 16:18 . Διαπονηθεὶς , being grieved ) in reference to his own honour, through his shrinking from it: in reference to the Divine honour, through love of it. ἀπʼ αὐτῆς , out of her ) It is probable that this maid was converted.

Verse 19

Acts 16:19 . Ἴδοντες , having seen ) But they ought to have thought thus: The Pythoness’ spirit either with truth praised Paul, or not with truth. If not with truth, it is a false spirit; if with truth, why should we oppose Paul?

Verse 20

Acts 16:20 . Στρατηγοῖς , to the magistrates ) These administered at once the civil and military power: however, they were inferior to the rulers , οἱ ἄρχοντες , Acts 16:19 , with which comp. Acts 16:22 , note [wherein it appears that these στρατηγοὶ , magistrates , stripped off the clothes of Paul, an act which the ἄρχοντες would not have been likely to have stooped to]. ἐκταράσσουσιν , exceedingly trouble ) They mean to say, These men bring the city from ( ἐκ ) a state of peace into disturbances. πόλιν , city ) Their private interest was the real motive hidden beneath; the public interest is made the ostensible plea. Ἰουδαῖοι , Jews ) An invidious appellation [they employ it to excite odium against them]. The antithesis is Romans .

Verse 21

Acts 16:21 . Ἔθη , customs ) The world has either admitted, or adopted, all the dogmas of all the philosophers; but this is the characteristic of the truth of the Gospel, that it has in it something singularly both hostile to and hated by human corruption. ἃ οὐκ , which not ) But is it lawful to hold fast ungodly customs? Ῥωμαίοις , being Romans ) A frequent objection of the community of the world against the kingdom of GOD. Even in our days Romanism is repugnant to (opposes) Paul.

Verse 22

Acts 16:22 . Συνεπέστη ) ἐπέστη , the multitude rose up with ( σὺν ) the masters of the damsel. περιῤῥήξαντες , having torn off ) The magistrates themselves tore off the garments of Paul and Silas: for there follows after this word, and not till then, ἐκέλευον , commanded . αὐτῶν , their ) viz. of Paul and Silas.

Verse 23

Acts 16:23 . Ἐπιθέντες , when they had laid upon them) They do not immediately say that they are Romans; or else in the tumult they were not heard. We are not always to use all helps (safeguards against ill-treatment) in every way: we must give ear to the Divine direction. παραγγείλαντες , having charged ) More for the sake of appeasing the crowd, as it seems probable, than that they thought Paul and Silas guilty: Acts 16:35 .

Verse 25

Acts 16:25 . Μεσονύκτιον , at midnight ) a customary hour with them for singing hymns and praying, as is probable. This is the night occupation of the saints in their waking moments. προσευχόμενοι , praying ) macerated (worn) as they were with scourging, with loss of blood, and with hunger. ἐπηκροῶντο , were listening ) with delight. οἱ δέσμιοι , the prisoners ) To them it was a novel entertainment to hear (acroama).

Verse 26

Acts 16:26 . Πάντων , of all ) even of the prisoners, in whose minds a great change (conversion) ensued.

Verse 27

Acts 16:27 . Ἔξυπνος , awaking out of sleep ) suddenly.

Verse 28

Acts 16:28 . Μεγάλῃ , a loud ) so as to restrain the man from his purpose. μηδὲν , no harm) The Christian faith throws open to view the life to come, and yet it has most effectually called men back from αὐτοχειρία , inflicting violence on themselves (suicide). ἅπαντες , for we all [without exception]) There were many more weighty reasons why he ought not to commit suicide; but Paul lays hold of that one which was most seasonable at the time.

Verse 29

Acts 16:29 . Φῶτα , lights ) Plural: that the whole prison might be lighted up.

Verse 30

Acts 16:30 . Κύριοι , Sirs [a respectful appellation]) So in John 12:21 . He had not so addressed them on the day before. He had not heard the hymns of Paul, Acts 16:25 ; for he was asleep, Acts 16:27 : but yet, either before or afterwards, he had become sensible who Paul was. σωθῶ , that I may be saved ) He adopted the term salvation either from the language of the damsel, as well as from his conscience, Acts 16:17 , or solely from being conscience-stricken.

Verse 31

Acts 16:31 . Κύριον , the Lord ) They do not acknowledge themselves as Κύριοι , lords (the title which he had addressed them by). οἶκος , house ) The mention of his household the more raises the spirits of the trembling gaoler. The master is often followed by his house.

Verse 33

Acts 16:33 . Ἔλουσεν , washed : ἐβαπτίσθη , he was baptized ) A beautiful interchange (correspondence) of offices of love. παραχεῆμα , straightway ) A wonderful turning-point of time (momentum).

Verse 34

Acts 16:34 . Τράπεζαν , a table ) Faith makes a man full of alacrity, prudent, and liberal.

Verse 35

Acts 16:35 . Ἀπόλυσον , let go ) A great change of sentiment. Comp. ἀσφαλῶς , safely , in Acts 16:23 . Furthermore in this way the gaoler was both confirmed in the faith and released from great anxiety. For what could he have done, had it not been so? So David was providentially prevented from having to wage war against Israel, 1 Samuel 29:0 ἐκείνους , those ) They speak of them as aliens.

Verse 37

Acts 16:37 . Ῥωμαίους , Romans ) The citizens of Tarsus had the rights of Roman citizenship. Paul does not use the plea of his being a Roman as his principal argument, but for another reason, viz. to serve as a consideration which would have weight with his adversaries ( κατʼ ἄνθρωπον ). In the region which he now for the first time visited, a more specious persecution might have created the opinion that he was one of a wicked life, and this would have raised a prejudice in the way of the spreading of the Gospel. Wherefore Paul makes a solemn protestation once for all, that he is innocent. The innocence of the apostles was known at Jerusalem; for which reason they bore all things there in silence. οὐ γὰρ ) This expresses a degree of just ἀποτομία , severity , and sternness. For bitterness had no place in the apostle’s mind, especially at so gracious a season: Acts 16:26 ; Acts 16:33 . αὐτοὶ , themselves ) not by the sergeants or attendants.

Verse 40

Acts 16:40 . Ἐκ τῆς φυλακῆς , out of the prison ) out of the place or state of imprisonment whither they had betaken themselves ( Act 16:34 ), in order not to cause danger to the gaoler (by staying in his house): or else from the higher part of the house. ἴδοντες , having seen ) They show thereby that they were not forced to be in a hurry. τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς , the brethren ) the companions of their journey, or those recently converted. παρεκάλεσαν , they comforted them) that they should not be offended (caused to stumble) at adversities.

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Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Acts 16". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.