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Sunday, July 21st, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Acts 16

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

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Verse 1

Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek:

Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there - that is, at Lystra, not at Derbe (as some conclude from Acts 20:4). See the note at Acts 16:2.

Named Timotheus. As Paul styles this youth his "own son in the faith" (1 Timothy 1:2), and as he had attained to some standing among the Christians of that region before the apostle's second visit, it must have been at his first missionary visit that he was gained to Christ, and in all likelihood in those critical moments and trying circumstances related in Acts 14:19-20. His would be one of 'the souls of the disciples confirmed' by the apostle on his return home by the same route, 'exhorted to continue in the faith,' and warned "that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:21-22).

The son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed. 'The unfeigned faith which dwelt first in his grandmother Lois' descended from her to 'his mother Eunice;' thence it passed to this dear youth (2 Timothy 1:5), who 'from a child knew the Holy Scriptures' (2 Timothy 3:15). His gifts and destination to the ministry seem to have been supernaturally attested before this (1 Timothy 1:18), or at least at the time of his ordination (1 Tim. 4:18 ). But his father was a Greek. Such mixed marriages (as Howson observes), though seldom occurring in Palestine, and disliked by the stricter Jews (being forbidden by the Mosaic law, Deuteronomy 7:3), must have been very frequent among the Jews of the dispersion, especially in remote districts, where but few of the scattered people were settled.

Verse 2

Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium.

Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. The mention of Lystra here, and not of Derbe, favours the belief that Timothy belonged to Lystra. As the apostle speaks of him some ten years after this as still young (1 Timothy 4:12), he must have been a mere youth at the time here spoken of. Yet had he already gained a reputation (as we here learn) among all the Christians, not only of his own place, but of Iconium, where his spiritual father had met with the like ill-treatment.

Verse 3

Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.

Him would Paul have to go forth with him. Though Silas took the place of Barnabas, it is consistent with all that we know of the great apostle that he should set his heart upon the society and services of a youth like Timothy, on whose love and devotedness, as his son in the Gospel, he could thoroughly and always reckon; whose character and gifts had been already proved; and whom he could employ on errands which he might not feel warranted in imposing upon Silas. And a treasure to him he proved to be-the most attached and serviceable of all his associates. (See Philippians 2:19-23; 1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 16:10-11; 1 Thessalonians 3:1-6.) His double connection-with the Jews by the mother's side, and by the father's with the Gentiles-would strike the apostle as a special qualification for his own sphere of labour. Wieseler remarks that 'Timothy, so far as appears, is the first Gentile who after his conversion comes before us as a regular missionary; for what is said of Titus, in Galatians 2:3, refers to a later period.' Though we differ from that distinguished chronologer, when he ascribes the visit which Titus paid to Jerusalem in company with Paul to a later period than this, his remark about Timothy is nevertheless correct, as we think; for we have no evidence that Titus was 'a regular missionary' at the time of that visit.

And took and circumcised him. This act-which any Israelite might perform-seems to have been done by Paul himself.

Because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek. From this one would infer that his father (who perhaps was now dead) had never become a proselyte to Judaism; for against the wishes of a Gentile father (as the Jews themselves say) no Jewish mother was permitted to circumcise her son. And this will explain why all the religion of Timothy is traced (2 Timothy 1:5) to the female side of the family. The circumcision of Timothy, before being taken into this missionary party, was an indispensable step. For if the mere report that Paul at a later period had brought a Greek into the temple occasioned an uproar in Jerusalem, and endangered the apostle's life (Acts 21:27-31), how could he expect to make any progress in this missionary tour to preach Christ - "to the Jew first," and only after that to the Gentiles-if his principal assistant and constant companion had not been a circumcised person? On the one hand, in refusing to compel Titus to be circumcised, at the mere bidding of Judaizing Christians, as necessary to salvation (Galatians 2:3), he only vindicated "the truth of the Gospel" (Galatians 2:5): in circumcising Timothy, on the other hand, "to the Jews he became as a Jew, that he might gain the Jews." It is probable that the ordination of Timothy (1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6) took place now; and as it was done "before many witnesses" (1 Timothy 6:12), it was probably a solemn service, and attracted a considerable concourse.


(1) The stability of the first Christian missions, as well as their rapid progress, must be ascribed in a large degree to the wise union of the conservative with the aggressive principle on which the apostle conducted them. The first Gentile converts must have been extremely rude in knowledge, and all inexperienced in the management of a Christian congregation, even of the smallest dimensions. But besides the instructions which they would receive at their first reception of the Gospel, it will be remembered that they were revisited on the apostle's return, confirmed in the faith, exhorted to stedfastness, and faithfully warned of the cost of discipleship; that elders were ordained over every cluster of believers; and that on parting with them they were solemnly commended to the Lord with prayer and fasting (Acts 14:21-23). Then, after a long interval, during which the hearts of the missionaries yearned after them, a fresh journey was projected and carried out, for the express purpose of revisiting their converts; and doubtless this visit would contribute largely to the consolidation and growth of those young churches.

In like manner, the churches which were afterward gathered out of Corinth, Ephesus, etc., were revisited once and again, and to them were addressed those Epistles which, though they have become the heritage of all the churches of Christ, were designed in the first instance for the instruction and direction of the churches whose names they bear. Thus anxiously did the first great missionaries of the Cross watch over and cherish the work of their hands, "lest in any way the tempter should have tempted them, and their labour have been in vain" (1 Thessalonians 3:5); and if one would see into the very heart of those model missionaries, as they "travailed in birth again" for their converts, let him read the second and third chapters of the First Epistle to the Thessalonians. And should not the churches of our day-with all their missionary agents abroad, and missionary directors or committees at home-study to imbibe the same spirit, and act upon the same principle in the case of their converts?

(2) The account here given of the circumcision of Timothy, in contrast with the non-circumcision of Titus, has furnished the Tubingen school (Baur, Zeller, Schwegler) with a fitting occasion for the display of their special criticism. It suits their views to contend for the genuineness of the Epistle to the Galatians; but it does not suit their views-or rather it is fatal to them-to admit the genuineness of the Acts of the Apostles. Accordingly, as Paul tells us in the Galatians (Galatians 2:3), that he would not compel Titus to be circumcised, because he was a Greek, while in the Acts he is represented as taking and circumcising Timothy, "because of the Jews of those quarters" where he was going, though everyone "knew that his father was a Greek" - this is made out to be a flat and clumsy contradiction, such as shows the book that contains it to be no genuine production. According to this style of criticism, why have they not discovered the Epistle to the Galatians itself to be spurious, since it makes the apostle to say in one chapter, "Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised Christ shall profit you nothing" (Galatians 5:2); and in the very next chapter (Galatians 6:15), "In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature"? Men who cannot see, or will not admit, that a change of circumstances may warrant and even demand a change of procedure, are not fit to be critics of the New Testament or of any sensible writings. That the circumstances were different in the cases of Titus and of Timothy here-sufficiently so to justify, if not to require, a different line of action-is so plain, that after what we have said on Acts 16:3, it is not necessary to add a word. To a thorough critic, who penetrates beneath the surface of the facts, the apparent contradiction, so far from being staggering, is just what would corroborate the genuineness of both the productions in which the two statements are contained.

(3) The 'undesigned coincidence' between the account given of Timothy in this narrative of his accession to the missionary party and that of the apostle himself in his Second Epistle to Timothy (Acts 1:5), is a striking confirmation of the truth of both works. (See Paley's 'Horae Paulinae,' 12:, No. 2:) In the Epistle all the religion of this admirable Christian is traced to the female side. The "unfeigned faith" which dwelt first in his grandmother Lois passed down (as we have seen) from her to his mother Eunice; and thence, like the precious ointment upon the head of Aaron, that ran down upon the beard, and went down to the skirts of his garments (Psalms 133:2), it descended to the youth who proved such a treasure to the apostle, both in his travels, when he was preaching Christ with burning zeal amid difficulties and hardships, and afterward when he became a prisoner of Jesus Christ-from his first association with him to the very close of his career in martyrdom for Christ. Here, in the History, the impression one naturally forms of his Greek father is, that he had not been a proselyte to the Jewish Faith, else lie would probably have had Timothy circumcised in infancy; and from its being said that Paul now "took and circumcised him," the probability is that his Greek father was either dead by this time, or that he had deserted his wife-as was not uncommon in the case of such unequal marriage. At all events, while the Epistle trace all the religion of Timothy to the mother's side, the History traces none of it to the father's. But this suggests another remark:

(4) The strength and preciousness of the maternal influence in the religious training of the young is seen all the more in this case from the disadvantages on the father's side under which Timothy laboured. If the mother's piety was decided before she formed a matrimonial connection with an unconverted Gentile, it was a step which cannot be justified, and one that must have cost her many a trial. But if her religions training had not taken decisive hold of her heart up to the time of her marriage, that step-especially in a region where Jewish families were few-was not so unnatural, nor would it be so injurious to conscience. At the same time, as she certainly was a woman of "unfeigned faith," and was honoured to transmit the same to this child of hers, she must have had to struggle into it through adverse influences and deadening conversation with an irreligious husband. Perhaps the contrast between her mother's hallowed house and the withering secularity of her husband's, drove her to the God of her fathers, and disclosed to her spiritual necessities which she had never felt under the parental roof.

And if this was the means of deciding for the first time her choice of "the good part," all her early training would then come back upon her, and turn to more precious account than it had ever done before. So, at any rate, it has often been in the experience of Christian mothers. And how did all this tell upon Timothy? Had he been a raw convert at the time of his first reception of the Gospel-like the other disciples who stood round about the apparently lifeless body of Paul at Lystra (Acts 14:20) - he had not so quickly risen to reputation among the brethren at Lystra and Iconium (Acts 16:2); nor would he have had in him probably those qualities which drew him to the greatest of the apostles, and which, when matured, made him the greatest treasure of his apostolic life. All this must be traced instrumentally to the training he had received, the example he had witnessed, and the prayers and tears which doubtless watered both, under the parental roof. Probably the mixture of Gentile blood was an advantage to him intellectually; but to his mother we certainly owe all that hallowed and directed his natural endowments. And what Christian mother or guardian of the young may not well be encouraged amid all her struggles, and stimulated to put forth her best energies, to train up her children "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord," by the blessed result in this case of Timothy!

Progress through the Cities-Entrance into Phrygia and Galatia-The Mysterious Double Arrest, and the Journey to Troas (16:4-8)

Verse 4

And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.

And as they went through the cities they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.

Verse 5

And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.

And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number (that is, the number of their members) daily. If the views of these young Gentile churches were enlarged and their love warmed by the written evidence laid before them of the triumph of Christian liberty at Jerusalem, and the wise measures there taken to preserve the unity of the Jewish and Gentile converts, this would naturally tend to inflame their zeal to gather in others; for any increase of spiritual life, whether in an individual or in a church, begets missionary zeal. Thus would the 'establishing of the churches in the faith' lead to the "daily increase of their numbers," as cause and effect.

Verse 6

Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,

Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia - proceeding in a northwesterly direction, across mount Taurus, and entering Asia Minor,

And the region of Galatia - lying to the north of Phrygia. At this time must have been formed "the churches of Galatia" (Galatians 1:2; 1 Corinthians 16:1), which were founded by our apostle, as he tells us himself in his Epistle to them some years afterward (particularly Acts 4:19), and which were already in existence when he was on his third missionary journey-as we learn from Acts 18:23, where it appears that he was no less successful in Phrygia. Why these proceedings-so interesting, we should think-are not here detailed, it is not easy to say. The reasons which critics have suggested do not appear to us very satisfactory: such as that the historian had not joined the party (so Alford), for he is minute enough on many things which occurred long before he joined the party; that the main stream of the Church's development was from Jerusalem to Rome, and the apostle's labours in Phrygia and Galatia lay quite out of the line of that direction (so Baumgarten), for his labours in regions quite as much out of it on his former journey are minutely detailed; and that the historian was now in haste to bring the apostle to Europe (so Olshausen).

This last reason probably comes the nearest to the true cause of the historian's brevity here. But even this is not quite satisfactory; since long after the principal European churches had been established, when relating the proceedings of the apostle's third and last missionary journey, he begins his narrative with these few words, "And after he had spent some time there (at Antioch), he departed (for the third and last time), and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, confirming the churches" (Acts 18:23) - not only implying that churches had been formed in those regions of which he neither before nor there gives any detailed account, but omitting all particulars of this visit and of those important movements of the Judaizers to which reference is made in the Epistle to the Galatians. We must then just conclude, that as some things behoved to be omitted to bring this book within the required limits, the particulars of the formation of churches in Phrygia and Galatia (possibly communicated to the historian with less fullness) were designedly passed over.

And were forbidden of the Holy Spirit - speaking unmistakeably by some prophet (see the note at Acts 11:27).

To preach the word in Asia - not the great Asiatic continent, of course, nor even the rich peninsula now called Asia Minor (for they had already laboured and had much fruit there), but only that strip of its western coast which constituted the Roman province of Asia, usually termed Proconsular Asia. Nor were they excluded from this region except for the time; for we shall find the apostle afterward labouring here with much success. (See the note at Acts 18:19, etc.)

Verse 7

After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.

After they were come to Mysia - lying north westward of Phrygia, but where, as being part of Roman Asia, they had been forbidden to labour,

They assayed (or 'attempted') to go into Bithynia, [not kata (G2596) teen (G3588) B., as in the Received Text, with G H, etc., but teen (G3588) B., with 'Aleph (') A B C D E, etc., and most of the Greek fathers: so Lachmann and Tischendorf]. The meaning seems to be, that they made their arrangements with the view of entering this province, lying to the northeast of Mysia, on the southern shore of the Black Sea.

But the Spirit - `the Spirit of Jesus' would seem to be the true reading here [so 'Aleph (') A B C ** D E, etc., the Vulgate, both Syriac versions, etc., and several of the fathers. So Lachmann and Tischendorf]. This reading, however, is so special that one cannot but stand in doubt of it. Yet compare the last words of Acts 16:10.

Suffered them not - speaking authoritatively by some prophet. But why, it may be asked, did the Spirit not suffer them to preach the Gospel in those regions? Probably, first, because Europe was ripe for the labours of our missionary party; and, secondly, because other instruments were to have the honour of establishing the Gospel in the eastern regions of Asia Minor-especially the apostle Peter, if we may gather so much from 1 Peter 1:1. By the end of the first century, as we learn from the celebrated Epistle of Pliny the Roman Governor to the Emperor Trajan, Bithynia was filled with Christians. There seems much force in the following remarks of Baumgarten:-`This is the first time that the Holy Spirit is expressly spoken of as determining the course they were to follow in their efforts to evangelize the nations, and it was evidently designed to show that whereas hitherto the diffusion of the Gospel had been carried on in unbroken course, connected by natural points of junction, it was now to take a leap to which it could not be impelled but by an immediate and independent operation of the Spirit; and though primarily this intimation of the Spirit was only negative, and referred but to the immediate neighbourhood, we may certainly conclude that Paul took it for a sign that a new epoch was now to commence in his apostolic labours.'

Verse 8

And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.

And they passing by Mysia, [ Parelthontes (G3928)] - or 'going through' it without stopping,

Came down to Troas - a city on the northeast coast of the AEgean Sea, the boundary of Asia Minor on the west, on the theater of the great Trojan war. Why did they come there? Because (we doubt not) the successive prohibitions to labour any longer in the East had led the capacious spirit of the great apostle to feel that some entirely new field was now to be opened for him; and by coming to the nearest port from which he might take shipping, he would there be in readiness to go wherever he might be ordered.

Divinely Directed, They Proceed Westward to Macedonia, Accompanied by our Historian Himself, and Reach Philippi-Conversion and Baptism of Lydia and her Household (16:9-15)

Verse 9

And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.

And a vision appeared to Paul in the night - but while awake; otherwise it would have been called a dream.

There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.

Stretching his eye across the AEgean Sea from Troas, on the northeast, to the Macedonian Hills, visible on the northwest, the apostle could hardly fail to think this the destined scene of his future labours; and if he retired to rest with this thought, he would be thoroughly prepared for the remarkable intimation of the divine will now to be given him. This visional Macedonian discovered himself in part, it may be, by his dress, but certainly by what he said. And yet it was a cry, not of conscious desire for the Gospel, but of deep need of it, and unconscious preparedness to receive it, not only in that region, but, we may well say, throughout all that western empire, which Macedonia might be said to represent. Yes! The literature and the arts of Greece, and the all-subduing and nobly-ruling power of Rome have failed to reach the deadly maladies of our fallen nature; and all Heathendom, in the person of this Macedonian, is crying for its only effectual cure, which these missionaries of the Cross possess and are only waiting for this call to administer.

Verse 10

And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.

And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured, [ ezeeteesamen (G2212)] - 'we sought;' that is, probably, made the necessary inquiries how and when they could set sail for Europe.

To go into Macedonia. The "WE," here first introduced into this History, is a modest intimation that the historian himself had now joined the missionary party-thus making four in number. The modern objections to this ancient and natural application of the change to the first person plural ("We"), are frivolous; and the attempts of DeWette and others, after Schleiermacher, to show that Timotheus is the person meant-and of some, that Silas is intended-are very weak. Whether (as Wieseler conjectures) Paul's broken health had anything to do with this arrangement for having "the beloved physician" with him, can never be known with certainty; but that be would deem himself honoured in taking care of so precious a life, there can be no doubt.

Assuredly gathering that the Lord - the Lord Jesus, who, by His Spirit, was the glorious Director of all their movements, and specially in the present case: compare the special reading of Acts 16:7; "but the Spirit of Jesus suffered them not."

Verse 11

Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis;

Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course, [ euthudromeesamen (G2113)] - literally, 'we ran straight;' that is, in nautical phrase, 'ran before the wind,'

To Samothracia - a lofty island in the AEgean sea, north westward from Troas, and about midway between this and Neapolis. Howson observes that the wind must have set in strong from the south or south-southeast, to bring them there so soon, as the current is strong in the opposite direction; and they afterward took five days to what they now did in two (Acts 20:6).

And the next day to Neapolis - on the Macedonian, or rather Thracian, coast, about 65 miles from Samothracia.

Verse 12

And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.

And from thence to Philippi - about 10 miles inland, to the westward, and so called after Philip of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great, who built and fortified it.

Which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, [ heetis (G3748) estin prootee (G4413) tees (G3588) meridos (G3310) tees (G3588) Makeedonias (G3109) polis (G4172)] - or, 'which is the first' or 'a chief city of the district of Macedonia.' In the former sense-`the first city' (as in the margin) - the meaning will be, the first city one comes to in Macedonia, proceeding from Neapolis. (So Bengel, Winer, Olshausen, Alford, Lechler.) But there seem decisive objections to this. If 'a chief city' (urbs primaria) be the meaning, it is to tell us that it had the distinction which that word, attached to certain places, conferred. (So DeWette, Humphry, Hackett, etc.) The former sense at one time seemed to us the preferable; but we now incline rather to the latter, which the next clause seems to favour.

And a (Roman) colony - that is, possessing all the privileges of Roman citizenship, and, as such, both exempted from scourging and (in ordinary cases) from arrest, and entitled to appeal from the local magistrate to the emperor. Since the Pisidian Antioch and Troas were also 'colonies,' and yet are not so called by our historian, the fact is probably mentioned here of Philippi on account of the frequent references to Roman privileges and duties in the sequel of the chapter.

And we were in that city abiding certain days - reconnoitring the ground and waiting until the Sabbath should come round. As their rule was to begin with the Jews and religious proselytes, they would have nothing probably to do until the time when they knew that they would convene for public worship.

At Philippi, Lydia is Gained, and, with her Household, Baptized (16:13-15)

Verse 13

And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.

And on the sabbath - the first after their arrival, as the words imply,

We went out of the city - or, according to what is clearly the true reading, 'outside the (city) gate' [ poleoos (G4172) is the received reading, according to E G H, etc. But 'Aleph (') A B C D, and the Vulgate, and other versions, have pulees (G4439)].

By a river-side - not the Strymon, as some good critics think, for this was too far away, but one of the small streams which gave name to the place ere the city was founded. The Gangas is that which recent travelers judge most likely to be the one intended.

Where prayer was wont to be made - not, 'where was wont to be a place of prayer' (as Neander, DeWette, Meyer, Humphry, Hackett, Lechler); for what sense is there in this, as applied either to a building or to a place of any kind? but 'where a prayer-meeting was wont to be held.' It is plain there was no synagogue at Philippi (contrast Acts 17:1), the number of the Jews being small. The meeting appears to have consisted wholly of women, and these not all Jewish by birth. The neighbourhood of streams was preferred, on account of the ceremonial washings used on such occasions.

And we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted there - a humble congregation, and a simple manner of preaching. But here and thus were gathered the first fruits of Europe unto Christ, and they were of the female sex, of whose accession and services honourable mention will again and again be made.

Verse 14

And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.

And a certain woman named Lydia - a common name among the Greeks and Romans,

A seller of purple (purple dyes or fabrics), of the city of Thyatira - on the confines of Lydia and Phrygia. The Lydians, and particularly the inhabitants of Thyatira, were celebrated for their dyeing, in which they inherited the reputation of the Tyrians. Inscriptions to this effect, yet remaining, confirm the accuracy of our historian. This woman appears to have been in good circumstances, having an establishment at Philippi large enough to accommodate the missionary party (Acts 16:15), and receiving her goods from her native town.

Which worshipped God - a familiar expression for proselytes from among the Gentiles, the outward evidence of which was their uniting in the public worship of the Jews. As such, this woman was one of this small congregation of worshippers.

Heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, [ dieenoixen (G1272)] - 'thoroughly opened.' It is the Lord Jesus who is here meant: see Acts 16:15, and compare Luke 24:45; Matthew 11:27.

That she attended, [ prosechein (G4337 ), or 'gave heed,'] unto the things which were spoken of Paul - `showing (says Olshausen) that the inclination of the heart toward the truth originates not in the will of man. The first disposition to turn to the Gospel is a 'work of grace.' Observe the place here assigned to 'giving heed' to the truth-that kind of attention which consists in having the whole mind engrossed with it, and in apprehending and drinking it in, in its vital and saving character.

Verse 15

And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.

And when she was baptized, and her household - probably without much delay. The mention of baptism here (for the first time in connection with the labours of Paul, though it was doubtless performed on all his former converts) indicates a special importance in this first European baptism. Here also is the first mention of a Christian household. Whether it included children-also in that case baptized-is not explicitly stated; but the presumption, as in other cases of households baptized, certainly is that it did. Yet the question of Infant Baptism must be determined on other grounds; and such incidental allusions form only part of the historical materials for ascertaining the practice of the Church.

She besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord - that is, if ye deem me a genuine believer in the Lord Jesus (as her baptism implied that they did). There is a beautiful modesty in this plea, but there was a constraining force in it:

Come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us, [ parebiasato (G3849)]. The word (as in Luke 14:29) implies that she would take no denial.


(1) What regions should be selected at any given time for missionary operations, and by whom they should be undertaken, is a question involving such mysterious elements, that the most honest solution of it may sometimes prove to be wrong. But even then, "unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness;" and "the meek will He judge in judgment, the meek will He teach His way" (Psalms 112:4; Psalms 25:9). Paul and Silas doubtless exercised their best judgment, and probably cherished high hopes of success, after their fruitful progress "throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia," in moving westward toward Proconsular "Asia;" and yet they "were forbidden of the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia." No reason appears to have been assigned, nor any other field for their labours as yet pointed out. So, again thrown on their own judgment, they deem it advisable to proceed northward to Bithynia; but "the Spirit (again interposing) suffered them not." What now is to be done? The East seems decisively shut out from them: can it be that they are now to cross the sea and penetrate into Europe? Perhaps that word in his original call - "far hence unto the Gentiles" (Acts 22:21) - was borne in emphatically upon the great apostle; and the East being now tolerably dotted with the Gospel, the question perhaps arose, What if the great Western seats of civilization, literature, art, and power, should now be our destination? Certainly, if this was his actual thought, the course which the missionary party now took was just what they would naturally adopt; for by "going through Mysia," without stopping to labour in it, and "coming down to Troas," they would put themselves in readiness to take shipping in whatever direction they might there be divinely instructed to proceed. And is there not here encouragement for missionary churches and missionary servants of the Lord Jesus, as to the choice of their fields of foreign labour? Divine light and guidance are not to supersede the exercise of our own prayerful judgment, but may be expected just as we are faithful in the use of it, and simple in all the steps we take for the furtherance of our Master's cause.

(2) If we could but pierce deep enough into the spiritual necessities of this fallen world, what Macedonian cries for help might we not hear from all quarters night and day-enough to rouse all the churches of Christendom, and call forth missionaries in clouds to say, Here am I, send me! Never, certainly, does the Church rightly engage in the missionary enterprise, nor any of its agents go forth aright, except in response to this Macedonian cry-in which the human heart sets its unconscious seal to the last command of the Risen Saviour, to make disciples of all nations.

(3) How noiseless was the first triumph of the Gospel in Europe, as brought to it by the great apostle! Though there was no synagogue of the Jews at Philippi, he would conclude there must be Jews there, who would meet for worship somewhere on the Sabbath day; and finding on inquiry that there was a spot by a river-side where some Jewish women were wont to meet for prayer on that day, he would "assuredly gather" that there he would be able to feel his way to the work which the Lord had for him to do. Accordingly, on the arrival of the hallowed day, he is found, with his missionary companions, in the midst of this humble gathering of devout females. What passed between them at their first meeting-whether, as being Jews themselves, they were requested, or volunteered, to conduct the devotions usual in such circumstances-we know not. All we know is, that instead of standing up formally before them and discoursing to them, as in a synagogue, they simply "sat down" - probably on the slope of the river's bank - "and spake (or talked) unto the women which resorted there." Such were the circumstances-the least formal that can well be conceived-in which the first soul was won to Christ on European soil by the instrumentality of Paul.

And wherever an open door can be gotten-whether on the hill-side or in the city, where pours the busy crowd; in temple, synagogue, cathedral, meeting-house, or on the slope of a river's bank; to thousands, hundreds, tens (as here), or to one (as when Philip was sent to the Ethiopian eunuch) - there are the time and the circumstances for preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ; and miserable is the system of thought which would restrict this to certain consecrated times and places, to the loss of opportunities never to be recalled of reaching the souls of men! "Preach the word in season," says Paul to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:2), but "out of season" too-as his blessed Master had done before him. (See the notes at Matthew 4:12-25, Remark 3, at the close of that section, p. 23).

(4) By what trivial circumstances are one's whole life, character, and destiny, even for eternity, affected and determined! Had Lydia's business as a purple-seller not brought her in contact with Jewesses-to whom she would expose her wares, and the more zealous of whom would draw her into religious conversation-she had never, perhaps, embraced the Jewish Faith; and had she not been led, in prosecution of her evidently thriving business, to set up house at Philippi, and been among the Jewish worshippers on this Sabbath day by the river-side, she had not had her "heart opened to attend to the things which were spoken by Paul." Thus were the very conditions of her conversion furnished by circumstances in her history quite unconnected with religion. So was it with the Centurion at Capernaum (see the notes at Luke 7:1-10; Remark 1, at the close of that section, p. 248); and so in numberless other cases from age to age. And if so much for all eternity depends on so little in time-and that little often so trivial, and but very partially under our own control-what need in every step to commit our way to Him "of Whom, and through Whom, and to Whom are all things!"

(5) To "give heed" to the preaching of the Gospel seems a very simple thing; and none who enter our modern places of worship can doubt that multitudes do listen with thoughtful and reverent attention to the discourses which are delivered there, without any divine operation opening their hearts to do so. Thus probably listened all the women to whom Paul spake by the river-side. But since Lydia's "attention" is expressly ascribed to an operation of the Lord Himself, opening her heart to give heed to the things which Paul spake, it must have been something very different from the interest with which the other women heard what the apostle had to say, and with which the generality even of attentive hearers still listen to their preachers. Of this the results are the best proof. That any of the other women were drawn to Christ, we have no evidence; but on the mind of Lydia was worked an entire revolution. She rested not until she was baptized, and her household; she insisted on the missionaries-if they judged her a genuine disciple of the Lord Jesus-taking up their abode in her house; the voice of rejoicing and salvation was heard in that house forthwith (Psalms 118:15), and it was sanctified by the word of God and prayer; on the liberation of Paul and Silas from prison, their bent their steps to this Christian house as their natural home so long as they remained at Philippi; and on their departure, Timothy and Luke appear to have made her house their headquarters, staying to form what proved the thriving Philippian church. Such were the blessed fruits of the opening of one woman's heart to "give heed to" the words of eternal life, spoken to others as well as her by a river-side. And so it still is, that one is taken and another left: Even so, Father, for so it seemeth good in thy sight. Come from the four winds, O Breath, and breathe upon the slain, that they may live!

(6) 'Baptism (says Lechler) occurs twice in this chapter, and both times a whole family is baptized (Acts 16:15; Acts 16:33). For the first time since Luke records the missionary acts of Paul does he mention the baptism of the converted; and it is significant that in both instances here all belonging to the parties concerned are baptized along with them. Both passages (Acts 16:15; Acts 16:33) have been quoted in favour of infant baptism, as an apostolic custom, on the supposition that the family certainly numbered little children, (as Bengel asks, Quis, credat, in tot familiis nullum fuisse infantem?-`Who can believe that in so many families there was not one infant?') But this cannot be so surely maintained as that an argument can be founded on it. The chief importance of the transaction rests not on whether there were children in the family, and how young they may have been, but on the indisputable fact, that in both cases the whole house-all belonging to the families-were baptized along with the head of the house. This at once suggests the idea of a Christian family-a Christian household. Personal decision is a great matter, but the mere salvation of isolated individuals is not Biblical teaching. The unity of the family in Christ, the consecration of the household by grace-all belonging to one Lord-is here represented to us as something well-pleasing to God. And it is a remarkable fact, that this side of salvation in the apostolic history is first prominently brought before us on European ground.' This extract, though it may not convey the whole truth on this important subject, expresses what we conceive to be a great principle-the domestic character which these transactions stamp upon the earliest Christianity.

A Soothsaying Spirit, Striving to Mar their Work, is Expelled by Paul and Silas, in consequence of which They are Seized, Scourged, Imprisoned, and Manacled (16:16-24)

Verse 16

And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:

And it came to pass, and we went to prayer, [ poreuomenoon (G4198) heemoon (G2257) eis (G1519) proseucheen (G4335)] It was not as they were proceeding to pray in Lydia's house, but (as the words imply), as they were on their way to the usual prayer-place-probably by the same river-side-that this took place; therefore not on the same day with what had just occurred.

A certain damsel - `a female servant,' and in this case (as appears by Acts 16:19) a slave:

Possessed with a spirit of divination, [ pneuma (G4151) Puthoonos (G4436), but Puthoona (G4436) is the preferable reading] - that is, a spirit supposed to be inspired by the Pythian Apollo, or of the same nature. The reality of this demoniacal possession is as undeniable as that of any in the Gospel history.

Met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:

Verse 17

The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.

The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation. Glorious testimony this, but given for a hellish end: see the note at Mark 4:24.

Verse 18

And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.

And this did she many days - that is, on many successive occasions when on their way to their usual place of meeting, or when engaged in religious services.

But Paul being grieved - for the poor victim; grieved to see such power possessed by the enemy of man's salvation, and grieved to observe the malignant design with which this high testimony was borne to Christ.

Verse 19

And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,

And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas - as the leading men of the party,

And drew them into the market place, [ eis (G1519) teen (G3588) agora (G58)] - the place of public assembly, the Forum, where the courts were held, "unto the rulers" (in general),

Verse 20

And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,

And brought them to the magistrates, [ strateegois (G4755)] - the Duumviri, who in the colonies went by the name of the Praetors;

Saying ... We have here a full and independent confirmation of the reality of this supernatural cure, since on any other supposition such conduct would be senseless.

These men, being Jews - objects of dislike, contempt, and suspicion by the Romans, and at this time of more than usual prejudice;

Do exceedingly trouble our city. See similar charges, Acts 17:6; Acts 24:5; 1 Kings 18:17. There is some colour of truth in all such accusations, in so far as the Gospel-and generally the fear of God as a reigning principle of human action-is in a godless world a thoroughly revolutionary principle. How far external commotion and change will in any case attend the triumph of this principle depends on the breath and obstinacy of the resistance it meets with.

Verse 21

And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.

And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. Here also there was a measure of truth, as the introduction of new gods was forbidden by the laws, and this might be thought to apply to any change of religion. But the whole charge was pure hypocrisy; for as these men would have let the missionaries preach what Religion they pleased, if they had not dried up the source of their gains, so they conceal the real cause of their rage under colour of a zeal for religion, and law, and good order: so Acts 17:6-7; Acts 19:25; Acts 19:27.

Verse 22

And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.

And the multitude rose up together against them. So Acts 19:28; Acts 19:34; Acts 21:30; Luke 23:18.

And the magistrates rent off their clothes (that is, Paul and Silas' clothes); ordering the lictors or rod-bearers to tear them off, so as to expose their naked bodies (see the note at Acts 16:37). The word [ perireexantes (G4048)] expresses the roughness with which this was done to prisoners, preparatory to [ perireexantes (G4048)] expresses the roughness with which this was done to prisoners, preparatory to whipping.

And commanded to beat them - without any trial (Acts 16:37), to appease the popular rage. Thrice, it seems, Paul endured this indignity (2 Corinthians 11:25).

Verse 23

And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:

And when they had laid many stripes upon them - the bleeding wounds from which were not washed off until it was done by the converted jailor Acts 16:33), "they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:"

Verse 24

Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.

Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison - pestilential cells (to use the words of Howson), damp and cold, from which the light was excluded, and where the chains rusted on the prisoners. One such place may be seen to this day on the slope of the Capitol at Rome.

And made their feet fast in the stocks, [ eis (G1519) to (G3588) xulon (G3586)] - 'to the wood;' an instrument of torture as well as confinement, made of wood bound with iron, with holes for the feet, which were stretched more or less apart, according to the severity intended. (Origen, at a later period, besides having his neck thrust into an iron collar, lay extended for many days with his feet four holes on the rack.) Though jailors were proverbially unfeeling, the manner in which the order was given in this case would seem to warrant all that was done.

Paul and Silas are miraculously set free, and the Jailor, with all his household, converted and baptized (16:25-34)

Verse 25

And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.

And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God, [ proseuchomenoi (G4336) humnoun (G5214) ton (G3588) Theon (G2316)] - 'as they prayed,' or 'kept singing praises unto God;' that is, while engaged in pouring out their hearts in prayer, had broken forth into singing, and were hymning loud their joy. As the word here employed [ humnoun (G5214)] is that used to denote the Paschal hymn sung by our Lord and His disciples after their last Passover (Matthew 26:30), and which we know to have consisted of Psalms 113:1-9; Psalms 114:1-8; Psalms 115:1-18; Psalms 116:1-19; Psalms 117:1-2; Psalms 118:1-29, which was chanted at that festival, it may have been portions of the psalms-so rich in such matter-which our joyous sufferers chanted forth. Nor could any be more seasonable and inspiring to them than those very six psalms, which every devout Jew would no doubt have by heart. "He giveth songs in the night" (Job 35:10). Though their bodies were still bleeding and tortured in the stocks, their spirits, under 'the expulsive power of a new affection,' rose above suffering, and made the prison walls resound with their song. 'In these midnight hymns (says Neander), by the imprisoned witnesses for Jesus Christ, the whole might of Roman injustice and violence against the Church is not only set at nought, but converted into a foil to set forth more completely the majesty and spiritual power of the Church, which as yet the world knew nothing of. And if the sufferings of these two witnesses for Christ are the beginning and the type of numberless martyrdoms which were to flow upon the Church from the same source, in like manner the unparalleled triumph of the spirit over suffering was the beginning and the pledge of a spiritual power which we afterward see shining forth so triumphantly and irresistibly in the many martyrs of Christ who were given up as a prey to that same imperial might of Rome.'

And the prisoners heard them, [ epeekrooonto (G1874)] - 'kept listening to them,' so that the prisoners, instead of being asleep, were wide awake, and, no doubt, rapt in wonder at what they heard in such circumstances.

Verse 26

And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.

And suddenly there was a great earthquake - in answer, doubtless, to the prayers and expectations of the sufferers, that, for the truth's sake and the honour of their Lord, some interposition might take place.

So that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bands (the bands of all the prisoners) were loosed - not, of course, by the earthquake, but by a miraculous energy accompanying it. By this and the joyous strains which they had heard from the sufferers-not to speak of the change worked upon the jailor-these prisoners could hardly fail to have their hearts in some measure opened to the truth; and this part of the narrative seems the result of information afterward communicated by one or more of these men.

Verse 27

And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.

And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled - knowing that his life was a forfeited one in that case (see Acts 12:19; Acts 27:42).

Verse 28

But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.

But Paul cried with a loud voice - the better to arrest the fatal deed,

Do thyself no harm; for we are all here. What divine calmness and self-possession! No elation at their miraculous liberation, or haste to take advantage of it: but one thought filled the apostle's mind at that moment-anxiety to save a fellow creature from sending himself into eternity, ignorant of the only way of life; and his presence of mind appears in the assurance which he so promptly gives to the desperate man, that his prisoners had none of them fled, as he feared. But how, it has been asked by recent sceptical critics, could Paul in his inner prison know what the jailor was about to do? In many conceivable ways, without supposing any supernatural communication. Thus, if the jailor slept at the door of "the inner prison," which suddenly flew open when the earthquake shook the foundations of the building; if, too, as may easily be conceived, he uttered some cry of despair on seeing the doors open; and if the clash of the steel, as the frightened man drew it hastily from the scabbard, was audible but a few yards off, in the dead midnight stillness-increased by the awe inspired in the prisoners by the miracle-what difficulty is there in supposing that Paul, perceiving in a moment how matters stood, after crying out, stepped hastily to him, uttering the noble entreaty here recorded? Not less flat is the question, why the other liberated prisoners did not make their escape;-as if there were the smallest difficulty in understanding how, under the resistless conviction that there must be something supernatural in their instantaneous liberation without human hand, such wonder and awe should possess them as to take away for the time not only all desire of escape, but even all thought on the subject.

Verse 29

Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,

Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,

Verse 30

And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

And brought them out, and said. How graphic this rapid succession of minute details, evidently from the parties themselves-the prisoners and the jailor-who would talk over every feature of the scene once and again, in which the hand of the Lord had been so marvelously seen!

Sirs, what must I do to be saved? If this question should seem in advance of any light which the jailor could be supposed to possess, let it be considered, first, that the "trembling" which came over him could not have arisen from any fear for the safety of his prisoners, for they were all there; and if it had, he would rather have proceeded to secure them again, than leave them and fall down before Paul and Silas. For the same reason, it is plain that his trembling had nothing to do with any account he would have to render to the magistrates. Only one explanation of it can be given-that he had become all at once alarmed about his spiritual state, and that though, a moment before, he was ready to plunge into eternity with the guilt of self-murder on his head-without a thought of the sin be was committing and its awful consequences-his unfitness to appear before Cod and his need of salvation now flashed full upon his soul, and drew from the depths of his spirit the cry here recorded.

If still it be asked how it could take such definite shape, let it be considered, secondly, that the jailor could hardly be ignorant of the nature of the charges on which these men had been imprisoned, seeing they had been publicly whipped by order of the magistrates, which would fill the whole town with the facts of the case, including that strange cry of the demoniac from day to day - "These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation" - words proclaiming not only the divine commission of the preachers, but the news of salvation they were sent to tell, the miraculous expulsion of the demon, and the rage of her masters. All this, indeed, would go for nothing with such a man, until roused by the mighty earthquake which made the building to rock; despair then seizing him at the sight of the open doors, the sword of self-destruction was suddenly arrested by words from one of those prisoners such as he would never imagine could be spoken in their circumstances-words evidencing something divine about them. Then would flash across him the light of a new discovery: 'That was a true cry which the Pythoness uttered, "These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation!" This I now must know, and from them-as divinely sent to me-must I learn that "way of salvation!"'

Verse 31

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. [Lachmann and Tischendorf omit Christon (G5547) from their texts, with 'Aleph (') A B, etc. But the majority of manuscripts have it; and internal evidence, we think, favours it, as the apostle would probably give the saving name in its fullest form in such circumstances.]

And thou shalt be saved. The brevity, simplicity, and directness of this reply are, in the circumstances, And thou shalt be saved. The brevity, simplicity, and directness of this reply are, in the circumstances, singularly beautiful. Enough at that moment to have his faith directed simply to the Saviour, with the assurance that this would bring to his soul the needed and sought salvation-the how being a matter for after teaching.

And thy house. See the note at Luke 19:9; and Remark 4, at the close of that section.

Verse 32

And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.

And they spake unto him the word of the Lord - unfolding now, doubtless, more fully what "the Lord Jesus Christ" was, to whom they had pointed his faith, and what the 'salvation' was which this would bring him.

And to (or 'with,' according to another reading) all that were in his house - who from their own dwelling (under the same roof no doubt with the prison) had crowded round the apostles, aroused first by the earthquake. From their addressing the Gospel message "to all that were in the house," it is not necessary to infer that it contained no children, But merely that as it contained adults besides the jailor himself, so to all of these-as alone of course fit to be addressed-they preached the word.

Verse 33

And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.

And he took them, [ anagagoon (G321)]; the word implies removal to another place:

The same hour of the night, and washed their stripes - `in the well (says Howson) or fountain, which was within or near the precincts of the prison.' The mention of "the same hour of the night" seems to imply that they had to go forth into the open air, and that unseasonable as the hour was, they did so. These bleeding wounds had never been thought of by the indifferent jailor. But now, when his whole heart was opened to his spiritual benefactors, he cannot rest until be has done all in his power for their bodily relief.

And was baptized, he and all his, straightway - probably at the same fountain, since it took place "straightway," the one washing on his part being immediately succeeded by the other on theirs.

Verse 34

And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.

And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, [ paretheeken (G3908) trapezan (G5132)] - literally, 'prepared (or 'set out') a table; a familiar classical expression, used also in Hebrew, Psalms 23:5.

And rejoiced, believing - literally, 'exulted, having believed;' that is, was full of joy in the consciousness of his new state as a believer.

Believing in God - as a converted pagan; for (as Alford correctly notes) the faith of a Jew would not be so expressed.

With all his house - the wondrous change on himself and the whole house filling his soul with joy. It is a good remark of Baumgarten that 'this is the second house which in the Roman city of Philippi was consecrated by faith in Jesus, and of which the inmates, by hospitable entertainment of the Gospel witnesses, were sanctified to a new beginning of domestic life, pleasing and acceptable to God. The first result came to pass in consequence simply of the preaching of the Gospel; the second was the fruit of a testimony sealed and ennobled by suffering.

Next morning the magistrates order their release-Paul and Silas, standing upon their violated rights as Roman citizens, decline to be thus dismissed, and oblige the affrighted magistrates to come personally to conduct them forth out of the prison, and solicit their departure from the city-They then comply, go to Lydia's house, and having seen and comforted the brethren, depart (16:35-40)

Verse 35

And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go.

And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, [ tous (G3588) rabdouchous (G4465)] - 'rod-bearers;' 'lictors' was their technical name:

Saying, Let those men go. The cause of this change can only be conjectured. When the commotion ceased, reflection would soon convince them of the injustice they had done, even supposing the prisoners had been entitled to no special privileges; and if rumour reached them that the prisoners were somehow under supernatural protection, they might be the more awed into a desire to get rid of them.

Verse 36

And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace.

And the keeper - overjoyed to have such orders to execute,

Told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace. Very differently does Paul receive these orders:

Verse 37

But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out.

But Paul said unto them - to the serjeants, who had entered the prison with the jailor, that they might be able to report that the men had departed.

They have beaten us openly, [ deirantes (G1194) heemas (G2248) deemosia (G1219)] - 'have scourged us in public' (in designed contrast to the proposed dismissal of them "privily"). The publicity of the injury done to them, exposing their naked and bleeding bodies to the rude populace, was evidently the most stinging feature of it to the apostle's delicate feelings, and to this accordingly he alludes to the Thessalonians-probably a year after - "even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated," or 'insulted' [ hubristhentes (G5195)], "as ye know, at Philippi" (1 Thessalonians 2:2).

Uncondemned (that is, without being put on trial and convicted), being Romans - in whose case both the scourging and the imprisonment without trial were illegal. From this it would appear that Silas was a Roman citizen as well as Paul.

And now do they thrust us out privily, [ ekballousin (G1544)]? Something more than 'hurrying out' this word expresses: it is 'driving out.'

Nay verily ('no indeed'); but let them come themselves and fetch us out - by an open and formal act, which would be equivalent to a public declaration of their innocence.

Verse 38

And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans.

And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans.

Verse 39

And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city.

And they came (in person, not now sending the lictors), and besought them - to forgive the wrong done to them, and not to inform upon them. What a contrast this suppliant attitude of the praetors of Philippi to their tyrannical conduct the day before. See Isaiah 60:15; Revelation 3:9.

And brought them out, [ exagagontes (G1806)] - 'conducted them forth' from the prison into the open street, which the missionaries had demanded,

And desired, [ eerootoon (G2065 ), or 'requested'] them to depart out of the city - perhaps fearing, lest their longer stay should afresh excite the populace.

Verse 40

And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.

And they went out of the prison. Having attained their object-to vindicate their civil rights, by the infraction of which in this case the Gospel in their persons had been illegally affronted-they had no mind to carry the matter further. Their citizenship was valuable to them only as a shield against unnecessary injuries to their Master's cause. What a beautiful mixture of dignity and meekness is this!

And entered into the house of Lydia - as if to show by this leisurely proceeding that they had not been made to leave, but were at full liberty to consult their own convenience.

And when they had seen the brethren - not only her family and the jailor's, but probably others now gained to the Gospel,

They comforted them, [ parekalesan (G3870)] - rather, perhaps, 'exhorted' them, which would include comfort,

And departed - but not all; for two of the party appear to have remained behind at Philippi (see the note at And departed - but not all; for two of the party appear to have remained behind at Philippi (see the note at Acts 17:14): Timotheus, 'of whom (to use the words of Howson) the Philippians learned the proof, "that he honestly cared for their state, and was truly like-minded with Paul, serving with him in the Gospel as a son with his father" (Philippians 2:19-23); and Luke, "whose praise is in the Gospel," though he never praises himself or relates his own labours, and though we only trace his movements in connection with Paul, by the change of a pronoun or the unconscious variation of his style.' Here, accordingly, and onwards, the narrative is again in the third person, nor is the pronoun changed to the second until we come to Acts 20:5. 'The modesty with which Luke leaves out all mention of his own labours need hardly be pointed out. We shall trace him again when he rejoins Paul in the same neighbourhood. His vocation as a physician may have brought him into connection with these contiguous coasts of Asia and Europe; and he may (as Mr. Smith suggests, 'Shipwreck,' etc.) have been in the habit of exercising his professional skill as a surgeon at sea.'


(1) Christianity is essentially revolutionary, bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. It casts out devils, exposes every religious cheat, and tolerates no compromise of truth and error, good and evil. No wonder, then, that it is felt by all the powers of evil, both in hell and on earth, as an enemy to be put down by whatever means-whether by pretended friendship (as in the testimony borne by this soothsaying spirit to Paul and Silas) or by false charges of hostility to the peace of society, as a plea for putting it down by force-charges which have just enough of truth in them to give them plausibility-as when Paul and Silas were charged by the enraged masters of that wretched slave girl with turning everything upside down. But the quarrel of Christianity is only with what is ungodly and evil, and it is revolutionary only as it is in deadly hostility to all that is so. It expels only the poison from humanity, and infuses into it only what is healthful and ennobling. Even this it does by an internal and noiseless operation. And thus is it the only true and divine Panacea for the ills under which our nature languishes.

(2) How different is the carriage of Paul and Silas in the dungeon of Philippi from that stoical endurance of agony unmoved, which is all that heroism without religion can rise to! How deeply they felt the violation of their rights, and the insult, shame, and pain of a public exposure of their naked backs to the scourge, we know well; for their complaint of it made the magistrates to tremble, and the touching allusion to it long after to the Thessalonian Church, showed how the apostle still felt it (1 Thessalonians 2:2). Nor would the torture of the stocks, and the smarting of their bleeding backs on the earthen floor of that dismal hole go less acutely through their sensitive frames. And doubtless this was what the authorities of Philippi intended. But just in these circumstances-to the flesh of extreme wretchedness-and at the season of deepest darkness (the midnight hour), while they were pouring out their souls in prayer to God, the light of heaven irradiates their darkness, they pass irresistibly from the minor into the major tone, breaking forth into songs of praise so loud that the other prisoners 'kept listening to them,' in rapt astonishment (we may be sure) at sounds so unusual issuing from a dungeon. This is not impassive stoicism; it is the transport of the soul triumphing over both shame and pain; it is the sense of God's presence deadening the sense of everything else-`the expulsive power of a new affection,' in the noblest sense of the phrase.

(3) As the question of the trembling jailor - "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" - is substantially the cry of every awakened sinner, though the degree of light and the depth of anxiety which it expresses will vary in every case; so the reply to it - "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house" - is to all alike the one true and all-satisfying answer. 'They place the Person of Christ,' says Lechler, 'in whom alone is salvation, directly and without circumlocution, before the inquiring soul. They demand faith in Him-nothing more, but also nothing less. Fide sola-By faith only-is the motto of the apostle Paul, as it was of the Reformers after his example. They do not require of the jailor-ready and willing to do anything-various performances and works, but simply faith, that is, cordial acceptance and appropriation of the personal Saviour, along with absolute confidence. But the faith to which the jailor attained constrained him also to all possible services and works of love and gratitude,' etc. (4) How beautifully are the deadened affections quickened into life, so soon as the Gospel of a present salvation through faith in a crucified Saviour takes possession of the heart. As Lydia, so soon as the Lord opened her heart to the grace of the Gospel and she had been received into the fellowship of believers by baptism, would have Paul and Silas to take up their abode in her house; so the jailor, as soon as his heart was won to the Saviour, took the liberated apostles "the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes, and (after being baptized) brought them into his house, set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house."

(5) The carriage of Paul and Silas toward the magistrates of Philippi affords a noble example for all ages. They submitted meekly to the shameful violation of their rights as Roman citizens, by those whose duty it was to see them respected. But when an astounding interposition of Heaven in their behalf, inspired their persecutors with dread of them, and caused them to give an order for their liberation and departure; then came the time for those injured servants of Christ to assert their rights. With calmness and dignity, declining to be thus ordered out stealthily, they require the magistrates who had wronged them to come in person, and opening the prison doors, themselves to conduct them forth. Galling as this must have been, they have nothing for it but to comply. So coming in person, they beg the forgiveness of the injured missionaries, and conducting them forth request their departure. And this being all that those servants of Christ desired, they at once comply. Nothing secular, social, or political, which may be turned to the account of the Gospel, is by these men of sober faith disregarded; but in any other view nothing of that nature is set any store by.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Acts 16". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/acts-16.html. 1871-8.
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