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Bible Commentaries
Acts 16

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

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Verses 1-8

B.—ON THE ROAD PAUL ASSOCIATED TIMOTHEUS WITH HIMSELF, and, after visiting the congregations which had been recently established, travels rapidly though asia minor, to troas.

Acts 16:1-8

1Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain [om. certain]1 woman, which [who] was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: 2Which [Who] was well reported of by the brethren that were at [brethren in] Lystra and Iconium. 3Him would Paul have to [Paul desired, ἠθέλησεν, that this man should] go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which [who] were in those quarters [places]: for they knew all that his father [for all knew of his father, that he] was a Greek. 4And as they went [But as they journeyed] through the cities, they delivered2 them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of [delivered to them for their observance the decrees which had been made by] the apostles and elders which were at [elders in] Jeru salem. 5And so [Thus, then, μὲν οὖν] were the churches [congregations] established in the faith, and increased in number daily. 6Now [But] when they had gone throughout3 [through] Phrygia and the region of Galatia [the Galatian region], and were forbidden of [restrained by] the Holy Ghost to preach [from preaching] the word in Asia, 7After they were come to [And came towards] Mysia, they assayed to go into [they attempted to journey to]4 Bithynia: but [and, καὶ] the Spirit [of Jesus]5 suffered them not. 8And [Then, δὲ] they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.


Acts 16:1-2. Then came he to Derbe and Lystra.—Timotheus [whose name is “sometimes written in our Bible with an English termination, Timothy” (Alex. ad. loc).—Tr.] was, without doubt, a native of Lystra and not of Derbe, for the former name is the nearest antecedent to ἐκεῖ. This view is supported by Acts 16:2, in which Lystra is again mentioned, along with Iconium, while Derbe is not named. This is also the opinion of de Wette, Winer, and Meyer, although, according to the usual supposition (which Neander also entertains), Derbe was his native city.—Timotheus was already a μαθητής, when Paul, in the course of the present journey, came to this region; it may therefore be assumed that he had been converted during the first missionary journey [through the agency of Paul, who calls him his son in the Lord, 1Co 4:17; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2, perhaps in Antioch in Pisidia; see 2 Timothy 3:10-11 (Alford).—Tr.]. He was the offspring of a mixed marriage, inasmuch as his mother (named Eunice, 1 Timothy 1:5), was a Judæo-Christian, while his father was a Ἕλλην, a pagan. [“Ἰουδαίας is an adjective (John 3:22), as well as Ἕλληνος.” (Meyer).—Tr.]. There is no indication whatever here found that the latter had embraced the Christian religion; it may, on the contrary, be inferred from the words: ὁτι Ἕλλην ὑπῆρχεν, Acts 16:3, that he was still a pagan at that time, and that he had neither become a Jewish proselyte, nor been converted to Christ, (Luther’s version: ’ his father had been a Greek, conveys a wrong sense).

Acts 16:3. a. Him would Paul have to go forth with him.—Paul resolved (ἠθέλησεν) that Timotheus should leave the house of his parents (ἐξελθεῖν), and proceed with him on his missionary journey. The motives which influenced him in selecting precisely this individual, are not stated in direct terms. The connection, however, indicates that one motive, at least, was furnished by the high regard (ἐμαρτυρεῖτο) which the Christians in Lystra and Iconium entertained for Timotheus—a regard which was doubtless justified alike by his character, by his godly and upright walk, and by his gifts. Moreover, the very circumstance that, on account of his descent, he was equally allied to the Jews and to the pagans, may have aided in determining the apostle’s choice. [“Supposing Timothy to have been converted during Paul’s first visit to Lystra, he had now been a disciple three or four years.” (Hackett, ad. loc.); see, further, 1Ti 4:14; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 1:6.—Tr.]

b. And took and circumcised him (Timotheus).—The expression λαβ. περιέτ. seems to indicate that the apostle did it personally, and not through the agency of a third party (Neander); like every Israelite, he was fully authorized to do it. It must necessarily be supposed that Timotheus voluntarily submitted to circumcision. What was the apostle’s motive in performing this act? It had a reference to the Jews of those cities, who well knew that the father of Timotheus was a pagan. Accordingly, the motive cannot be traced to any disposition to yield to Christians who entertained Pharisaic or Judaistic views, and still less to any belief on the part of the apostle that circumcision was per se necessary to salvation. He was influenced solely by considerations connected with the unconverted Jews of that region, who would unquestionably have taken offence, and been less accessible, if Timotheus, as the son of a pagan, and uncircumcised, had actively engaged with Paul in the work. [Paul conformed to the principle stated in 1 Corinthians 9:20. (de Wette).—Tr.]. Besides, a Jewess was not at liberty, according to strict Jewish views, to marry a pagan, and the children who were the issue of such marriages, were regarded as bastards; see Ewald, Gesch. d. a. Z. p. 445, and, below, Doctr. etc. no. 1. [“Intermarriage with the heathen was forbidden by the law (see Deuteronomy 7:3; Ezra 10:2; Ezra 10:44; Nehemiah 13:23); but some suppose a distinction between strange wives and strange husbands, founded on the cases of Esther and Drusilla (Acts 24:24).” (Alexander, ad. loc.).—Tr.]

Acts 16:4-6. a. And as they went through the cities.—Paul delivered the decrees of Jerusalem which were to be observed, when he revisited the cities of Pisidia, Lycaonia, and Pamphylia; he was accompanied, on this occasion, by Silas and Timotheus. These decrees and the renewed intercourse of the congregations with the apostle, strengthened the believers spiritually, and promoted their external growth. Bengel here makes the happy remark: rarum incrementum, numero simul et gradu.

b. The party continued their missionary journey; after leaving Pisidia, they crossed the mountain range of Taurus, and, proceeding in a northerly direction, went to the midland districts of Asia Minor. They visited Phrygia (the Phrygia Major of the ancient geographers) and Galatia; the latter received its name from certain Gaulish or Celtic tribes, which, during the third century before the Christian era, had left Thrace, and, after inundating Asia, had established themselves in this region. [For Galatia, see Conyb. and H., Life etc. of St. Paul, I. 262. London. 1854.—Tr.]. Although the narrative mentions these provinces only in a cursory manner, we can, nevertheless, assume that, during the present journey, Paul established those congregations in several Galatian cities, to which, about the year 55 A. D., he. addressed his important Epistle. [“This very cursory notice of a journey in which we have reason to think so much happened (see Acts 18:23; Galatians 4:13 ff.), seems to show that the narrator was not with him (Paul) during this part of the route; an inference which is remarkably confirmed by the sudden resumption of circumstantial detail with the use of the first person, at Acts 16:10.” (Alf.)—Tr.].

Acts 16:7-8. But the Spirit suffered them not.—Paul intended, as it seems, to proceed at once from Galatia and Phrygia, in a westerly direction, to Asia, i.e., Asia proconsularis, or, to the western coast, namely, to Mysia, Lydia, and Caria. But he and his attendants were restrained by the Holy Ghost(by some intimation or internal direction) from entering this region, and there preaching the Gospel. When they had, therefore, reached the eastern boundary of the latter, they continued their journey in a northerly direction as far as Mysia, where this northwest angle of Asia Minor touches Bithynia and the coast of the Bosphorus and the Black Sea, intending to enter the latter district; but, here again, they were turned back by the Spirit of Jesus [see note 5, appended to the text.—Tr.], and were restrained from preaching the Gospel there. [“Under these circumstances they perceived that they were directed to proceed to the west, to Greece, and it was this course which the Spirit really indicated.” (Meyer).—Tr.].—With respect to the grammatical construction, the most simple method seems to us to be that of regarding the three participles in Acts 16:6-7, διελθόντες—κωλυθέντες—ἐλθόντες, as expressing a certain sequence in the order of time; and this interpretation is also the most natural, in a geographical point of view. They were, accordingly, induced to pass along the borders of Mysia, Acts 16:8, i.e., along the southern borders of Mysia Minor, and down the coast of the Ægean sea to the sea-port of Troas, on the south of the promontory of Sigæum. [“Little Mysia belonged to Bithynia, Great Mysia, on the other hand, belonged to the province of Asia.” (de Wette).—“Troas … as a district, though geographically a part of Mysia, and politically a part of the province of Asia, was yet usually spoken of as distinguished from both. … Thus Ptolemy treats it as distinct from Great Mysia and Little Mysia. He calls it also by the name of Little Phrygia.” (Conyb. and H. I. 300, and no. 4.)—Tr.].


1. The circumstance that Paul should have circumcised Timotheus, while, as he himself states in Galatians 2:3, he would not, when he was in Jerusalem, permit his attendant Titus to be circumcised, has given very great offence to some writers. They suppose that if the statement in the present passage were true, the apostle would have betrayed great weakness and inconsistency of character, and they therefore assert that the present narrative is absolutely incredible. (Baur, Paulus, p. 129 ff. note; Zeller, Apostgesch., p. 239 ff.). But the two cases differ so widely in their whole nature, that they cannot possibly be placed in the same category. In Jerusalem, Paul found Judaizing Christians before him, to whom he was not at liberty to yield; here, on the other hand, he had respect to the unconverted Jews of Asia Minor, whom he was apprehensive of repelling, if an uncircumcised missionary assistant had stood at his side, but to whom the circumcision of the latter might open an avenue for the Gospel. Moreover, circumcision was demanded in the former indispensable to salvation; the language employed, admitted of no other construction. Under such circumstances, it became a duty which Paul owed to the truth of the Gospel, not to yield. But here, the motive which actuated him proceeded from the peculiar circumstances in which he was placed, and was not derived from any supposed religious necessity. (Comp. my [Lechler’s] Apost. u. nachap. Zeitalter, 2d ed. p. 419. note 1). [This note of the author, exhibits the foregoing views, and is chiefly occupied with remarks on the objections of Baur and Zeller.—Tr.]. The Formula Concordiæ (p. 792, ed. Rech.) already explains the distinction with accuracy:—Circumcisionem Paulus alias (in libertate tamen Christiana et spirituali) observare aliquoties solebat, Acts 16:3. Cum autem pseudoapostoli circumcisionem ad stabiliendum falsum suum dogma (quod opera legis ad justitiam et salutem necessaria essent) urgerent, eaque ad confirmandum suum errorem in animis hominum abuterentur, ingenue affirmat Paulus, quod ne ad horam [Galatians 2:5] quidem ipsis cesserit, ut veritas evangelii sarta tectaque permaneret.

2. Paul was guided by the Spirit of God, when he directed his steps from the interior of Asia Minor to the sea-coast, opposite to Europe. Πνεῦμα ἅγιον, (Acts 16:6) cannot mean the holy spirit of prudence which judged correctly of the circumstances (de Wette), but designates, in accordance with the doctrine and language of the whole book, the objective Spirit of God, whose communications, however, are received within the sphere of the human spirit, and who can announce His will, His divine and holy determination, positively or negatively, to the soul. The guidance of the Holy Ghost is not, in the present case, of a positive nature—He does not command, (as, for example, in Acts 13:2; Acts 13:4); His influence assumes a negative form—He hinders, keeps away from, (κωλυθέντες—οὐκ εἴασεν αὐτός); the latter act seems to have been even more earnest and energetic in character than the former.—The Spirit is, in a single case, Acts 16:7, [see note 5, appended to the text.—Tr.], named τὸ πνεῦμα Ἰησοῦ. The Spirit of the glorified Redeemer, who truly lives and reigns, directly interposed on this occasion, when the Gospel was to be carried beyond the confines of one quarter of the globe, and brought to Europe; He restrained by his irresistible intimations, so that ultimately no other route remained open, except the one which conducted to the sea-coast, and thence to Europe.


Acts 16:1. Then came he to Derbe and Lystra.—This was the soil which Paul had moistened with his blood, Acts 14:19; but how abundant were those fruits of his sufferings, which God afterwards enabled him to witness with joy. He here finds a number of disciples, when he revisits the spot, and among them, his own Timotheus—the trophies of his sufferings, the seals of his apostleship. (Ap. Past).—Timotheus, the son of … Greek.—Who could have expected such a blessing from this unequal marriage? It is probable that his father either was already dead or had forsaken his wife, so that the believing mother enjoyed the more freedom in bringing up her son in the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. She had not, on the other hand, been able to effect his circumcision in his infancy. How many an orphan might be found in the world, bedewed with the tears of a devout mother, and growing up as a plant of the Lord! (Rieger).—The true disciples and servants of Jesus, are not in every case the sons of learned and devout fathers.—It was often only the prayer or blessing of a godly mother or grandmother, which first enkindled the flame of a living knowledge of Jesus in a youthful heart. (Ap. Past.).

Acts 16:2. Well reported of by the brethren.—This is far more honorable than a testimonium which a candidate obtains by low arts from people of the world. (Ap. Past.).—The child Jesus increased in favor not only with God, but also with man [Luke 2:52]; so God often prepares his agents by the formal testimony which a young man receives from others, and which often exercises a great influence on his future career. (Rieger).

Acts 16:3. Him would Paul have to go forth with him.—Besides the favorable testimony of others, Paul must have had a presentiment “that he would find no one who was so entirely like minded as Timotheus” [Philippians 2:19-20]. (Rieger).—When we deny ourselves, and consequently seem to sustain a loss, but when our motives are pure, God provides a recompense in another and a better object. Paul declined, from a pure motive, to take Mark with him; God now gives him Timotheus, who is both more competent, and more steadfast. (Starke).—Circumcised him, because of the Jews.—This act was not contrary to the apostolic decree of Jerusalem, for the latter only declared that circumcision should not be forced on any one, as if it were necessary to salvation. Paul acted in each case solely in the interest of the Gospel. When he had reason to apprehend that the latter would suffer injury, he resisted the attempt to enforce the law of circumcision; but when he hoped that the cause of the Gospel would be promoted by it, he could direct another to be circumcised; and in other respects also, he could become to the Jews as a Jew. The act of an individual may often seem to proceed from carnal wisdom, or provoke the charge of fickleness, and may, nevertheless, have been performed in accordance with the same principle of faith or love. (Rieger).—“Paul circumcised Timotheus, in order to abolish circumcision,” that is, in order to open an avenue for the Gospel to the Jews. (Chrysostom).—“It is just as if I should now go among the Jews in order to preach the Gospel, and should find that they were weak; I might, in that case, be willing to submit to circumcision, and to eat or to abstain, even as they do. But I would do all this in no other case, and no longer than while I could be with them and labor for the Gospel.” (Luther).—Thus, in our own day, Gützlaff, the missionary, became a Chinese among the Chinese.

Acts 16:4. Delivered them the decrees for to keep.—Salutary decrees and ordinances should be diligently observed, or else they resemble a bell without a clapper. (Starke).—He became as a Jew unto the Jews [1 Corinthians 9:19 ff.], until faith was awakened in their souls; he took a deep interest in the believing Gentiles, announced their perfect freedom from the Jewish law, and directed their attention solely to the grace of the Lord Jesus, until he saw both Jews and Gentiles united in the same spirit of faith. (Ap. Past.).

Acts 16:5. And so were the churches established in the faith.—It is often only necessary that a single difficulty should be removed, in order to see the divine blessing widely diffused.—The progress of the Gospel was checked, as long as the dread of the burdensome law of Moses prevailed among the congregations. They exhibited a vigorous growth, as soon as Paul removed this obstacle. Let us diligently watch over Our congregations, and ascertain the particular false opinion, or the prevailing folly or sin, in consequence of which our sermons seem to be unattended by a blessing.—And increased in number daily.—A rare increase—in numbers, and, at the same time, in the measure of faith. (Bengel).

Acts 16:6. And were forbidden of the Holy Ghost.—Although the grace of God in Christ Jesus is intended for all men, He has, nevertheless, appointed a particular day of visitation for every country, every city, every individual.—It is, consequently, our duty, to submit, in all humility and faith, the appointment of the seasons of the awakening of countries and nations, to the wisdom of God; but it is also our duty, in our particular office, to walk in the path in which God goes before us, that is, to consider whether there be not some soul near us that specially needs our aid or exhortations, and ascertain the spot in which we may labor with the greatest success. And yet we are not to be guided by our own wishes, but to obey the directions of the Spirit of God. (Ap. Past.).—He who is resolved on succeeding, in opposition to the drawing of God, and the call of his Spirit, exhibits an indiscreet activity, which may often receive the praise of men, but which is of less avail before His searching eye. (Rieger).—The apostle was here restrained by the Holy Ghost; at another time, he was hindered by Satan, 1 Thessalonians 2:18. Hence, any unwillingness which may be felt to preach the Gospel in a particular place, cannot always be traced to the Spirit of God. (Ap. Past.).—It is very desirable that all the preachers and candidates for the ministry, should give heed to the restraints and to the intimations of the Holy Ghost; the church would then obtain the services of the right men in the right places. (Besser).

Acts 16:8. And they … to Troas.—The restraint to which, apparently, the cause of Christ was subjected, was the means of promoting its progress anew, although the manner in which such a result would be produced, was still unknown to them. This exact statement is of special importance to us who are Europeans. It appears that the act of transplanting the Gospel to our part of the world, was not in conformity to a plan devised by men, and one which the Lord simply permitted; the apostles were, on the contrary, impelled to it against their own purpose—it proceeded in a direct manner from the authoritative will of the Lord. (Williger).—The name Troas (Troy) reminds us of the first famous contest between Europe and Asia, in hoary antiquity. From the places where the heroes of Greece once fought, the soldiers of Christ now go forth to the holy war, the object of which is the conquest of Greece and the whole world. (Besser).


Timotheus a model, as a youth on whom grace has been bestowed: I. The grace bestowed upon him: (a) his mother, a devout Christian, Acts 16:1; (b) his associates, believing disciples, Acts 16:2; (c) his teacher, Paul the apostle. II. The change wrought in him by grace: he became (a) the joy and comfort of his mother, as contradistinguished from her unbelieving husband, Acts 16:1; (b) an ornament and a blessing to the Church, 1 and 2 Tim.; 2 Corinthians 1:19; Philippians 2:22; 1 Corinthians 16:10; (c) the hope and support of the apostle, 1Th 3:2; 2 Timothy 1:4.Philippians 2:20 ff.

The blessing which attends religion in the young.
The elevated position of devout mothers in the kingdom of God:
(Hannah, the mother of Samuel; Salome, the mother of Zebedee’s children; Eunice, the mother of Timotheus; Monica, the mother of Augustine, etc.).

The mother’s prayers, the guardian angels of her children.
Timotheus, the well trained up son, or, The joyful harvest which follows after a mother’s tears
: I. His mother’s tears, no doubt, flowed (a) while she educated him, at a time when he was under the control of a heathen father; (b) when, as a youth, he departed from her in order to engage in a dangerous missionary service. But, II. A joyful harvest arrived: (a) the cheering progress which he made at home, (Acts 16:2) in his early years; (b) his subsequent noble ripening for the service of the Lord.

Paul and Timotheus, or, The blessed bond which unites a noble teacher and a faithful disciple: it is blessed, I. For the disciple; II. For the master; III. For the world.

By what means can we, in the service of the divine word, be lawfully made all things to all men [1 Corinthians 9:22]? Acts 16:3. I. When we carefully consider the spiritual wants of the hearers before us; but also, II. When human considerations do not cause us to be unfaithful to divine truth. (Lisco).

Seasons of grace in the kingdom of God (for nations, congregations, individual souls, Acts 16:6-7): I. The coming of such seasons, not hastened by the will of man; II. Not retarded by any power of man.

To every thing there is a season” [Ecclesiastes 3:1], illustrated in the history of the kingdom of God on earth.

Compulsion is of no avail in the kingdom of the Spirit.
Apparent obstacles in the kingdom of God, in reality the means by which its progress is promoted

“A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9; Proverbs 21:2).


Acts 16:1; Acts 16:1. [τινος after γυν., of text. rec., from G. H., fathers, etc. is omitted by Lach., Tisch., and Alf., in accordance with A. B. C. D. E. Cod. Sin., many minuscules, versions, and fathers.—Tr.]

Acts 16:4; Acts 16:4. [For παρεδίουν, of text. rec., Lach., Tisch., and Alf. read παρεδοσαν, with A. B. C. (—δουςαν). E., and Cod. Sin. The reading of D., in the whole verse, varies considerably from that of the other MSS.—See Winer: Gr. N. T. § 14, 1. c—Tr.]

Acts 16:6; Acts 16:6. [Lach. and Tisch., with whom Meyer concurs, read, not διελθόντες, as in text. rec. from G. H. and most minuscules, but διῆλθον, with A. B. C. D. E. and also Cod. Sin., etc. Alford, with whom de Wette is inclined to concur, rejects the latter as an “emendation to avoid the repeated participial clauses.” Lach. and Tisch. also insert δὲ after ἐλθόντες in Acts 16:7, with A. B. C. D. E. and Cod. Sin., which Alf. omits in accordance with G. H.—Tr.]

Acts 16:7; Acts 16:7. a. εἰς τὴν Bιθυνίαν is fully attested [by A. B. C. D. E. Cod. Sin., fathers], whereas κατά τ. B. [of text. rec.] is supported by only two later manuscripts [G. H.—Eἰς is adopted by all the recent editors; “κατά τ.B is either an error of the copyists, occasioned by κατὰ τ.M. M. which precedes, or is an intentional explanatory alteration.” (Meyer).—Tr.]

Acts 16:7; Acts 16:7. b. The text. rec. has merely τὸ πνεῦμα [in accordance with G. H.], while the five oldest manuscripts [A. B. C (corrected).: κυριου, (original). D. E. and Cod. Sin., with Syr. Vulg. etc.] exhibit τὸ πν. ̓Iησοῦ, which is undoubtedly the genuine reading. [̓Iησοῦ is inserted by recent editors generally, and unhesitatingly acknowledged by Meyer, de Wette, etc.—Tr.]

Verses 9-40


Acts 16:9-40

9And a vision appeared to Paul in [during, διὰ] the night: There stood a man of Macedonia [a Macedonian man], and prayed [besought] him, saying, Come [Cross] over into [to] Macedonia, and help us. 10And [But] after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured [sought] to go [to journey] into [to] Macedonia, assuredly gathering [as we concluded] that the Lord6 had called us [thither, προζκέ] for to preach the gospel unto them. 11Therefore loosing [sailing] from Troas, we came with [by] a straight course to Samothracia [Samothrace], and the next day to Neapolis; 12And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief [the first]7 city of that part [city of the district] of Macedonia, and [om. and] a colony: and we were in that [this] city abiding certain days.

13And on the sabbath [day]8 we went out of the city [went out before the gate]9 by a river side [to the river], where prayer was wont to be made [where there was commonly a place of prayer]; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither [who had assembled]. 14And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of [dealer in] purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped [who feared] God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of [by] Paul. 15And [But] when she was baptized, and her household [house], she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to [judged that I am one that believest in] the Lord, come into my house, and abide [continue] there. And she constrained us [to enter]. 16And [But] it came to pass, as we went to prayer, [to the place of prayer, that] a certain damsel [a female slave] possessed with a spirit of divination [who possessed (ἔχουσαν) a soothsaying spirit.]10 met us, which [who] brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: 17The same [This (one)] followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew [who proclaim] unto us [you]11 the way of salvation. 18And this did she [for] many days. But Paul, being grieved [displeased], turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out at the same hour.

19And [But] when her masters saw that the hope of their gains [gain] was gone, they caught [seized] Paul and Silas, and drew [dragged] them into [to] the market-place12 unto the rulers, 20And brought them to [before] the magistrates [commanders], saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city [These men create disturbances in our city; they are Jews], 21And teach customs, which are not [which it is not] lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being [as we are] Romans 2:0; Romans 2:02And the multitude rose up together [at the same time rose up] against them; and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them [and the commanders directed that their clothes should be torn off, and that they should be beaten with rods]. 23And when they had laid [inflicted] many stripes [blows] upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely: 24Who, having received such a charge [command], thrust [cast] them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. 25And at [But about] midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto [and praised] God: and the prisoners heard [listened to] them. 26And suddenly there was [occurred] a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands [the bands of all] were loosed [loosened]. 27And [But] the keeper of the prison [jailer] awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his [open, drew a] sword, and would have killed [intended to kill] himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled [had escaped]. 28But Paul cried [called] with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. 29Then he called for a light [for light, (φῶτα, pl.)], and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before [at the feet of] Paul and Silas, 30and brought [led] them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be [do, in order that I may be] saved? 31And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ [om. Christ]13, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. 32And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to [together with]14 all that were in his house. 33And he took them [along] the same [in that] hour of the night, and washed [off] their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. 34And when he had brought [led] them into his house, he set meat [food] before them, and rejoiced15, believing in God with all his house [rejoiced with all his house that he now believed in God].

35And [But] when it was day, the magistrates [commanders] sent the Serjeants [lictors], saying, Let these men go [Dismiss these men]. 36And the keeper of the prison told this saying [the jailer reported these words] to Paul, The magistrates [commanders] have sent to let you go [that ye should be dismissed]: now therefore depart, and go in [go out, and depart in] peace. 37But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly [publicly] uncondemned [without right or trial], being [although we are] Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do [will] they thrust [cast] us out privily [secretly]? nay verily [No]; but let them [they shall] come themselves and fetch [lead] us out. 38And [Then, δὲ] the Serjeants [lictors] told [reported] these words unto the magistrates [commanders]: and they feared [were afraid], when they heard that they were Romans 3:0; Romans 3:09And they came and besought them, and brought [led] them out, and desired [asked] them to depart out of the city. 40And [But after] they went out of the prison, and [prison, they] entered into the house of [went to]16 Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted [exhorted] them, and departed [left the city].


Acts 16:9. And a vision … night.—A vision in the night directs the apostle to proceed to Macedonia; (ὅραμα is not a dream, of which no trace appears, and which is by no means necessarily indicated by the words διὰ τ. νυκτός.). The appearance was of the following description: a man stood before Paul, whose words made him known as a Macedonian, and as a representative of his nation (Μακεδονίαν—ἡμῖν). Perhaps also Paul ascertained his origin from his national dress; it is true that he had never yet been in Europe, but he may have frequently seen Macedonian seamen in Tarsus, his birth-place, which was a flourishing commercial city. This man entreated him, in the vision, to cross over the sea to Macedonia, and come to the aid of the inhabitants. [The distance from Troas to Macedonia, on the opposite side of the Ægean Sea, was somewhat more than one hundred miles.—Tr.].—It cannot be maintained that an angel appeared to the apostle, in the form of a Macedonian (Grotius); it is as little necessary here to suppose that ὄραμα designates something objective or real, as it is in the case mentioned in Acts 10:11-12; Acts 10:17; Acts 10:19, when Peter, while on a house-top in Joppa, saw a vision. [“It was an unreal apparition.” (Alf.).—Tr.]

Acts 16:10. a. And after he had seen the vision.—Paul and his companions at once decided, in consequence of this vision, to proceed to Macedonia, and sought (ἐζητήσαμεν, etc.) for an opportunity to sail thither; for, on considering all the circumstances of the case in their connection, they became convinced (συμβιβάζοντες, comp. Acts 9:22) that the Redeemer called them to Macedonia in order to preach the Gospel to that nation. The considerations which, in their combination, fully established them in this opinion, were the following:—a. The Spirit of Jesus had restrained them from preaching the word of God in the western maritime region of Asia Minor (ἡ Ασία, Acts 16:6). b. They were restrained, in the same manner, from laboring in Bithynia, Acts 16:7. c. And now, on arriving at Troas, and thus reaching the coast of the Ægean Sea, the vision invites them to pass over to Macedonia. But all these circumstances, in such a sequence, cannot have been merely accidental; the help which Paul is asked to bring, is, surely, no other than that which the word of God, and the saving grace of Christ, afford. ‘And therefore’—as they now conclude—‘it is He himself who calls us by the vision to Macedonia, after having previously hindered us from preaching the Gospel on the borders of Asia Minor.’

b. Immediately we endeavored (sought).—The pronoun “we,” and the verb in the first person, are abruptly introduced, from which we discover that the narrator is an eye-witness, and that he accompanied Paul from Troas as a travelling companion. It has, consequently, always been assumed that Luke had joined the company at Troas, or, rather, that Paul had, at that point, associated him with himself. Of this circumstance he makes no mention whatever, because it was, like his personal relations in general, already known to Theophilus and the original readers. This opinion is by no means directly met and disproved by the objections which have, in more recent times, been advanced against it, for the purpose of sustaining the hypothesis that one of the other attendants of the apostle was the writer of this narrative of travel (beginning at Acts 16:10), as well as of all the other sections of the Acts, in which “we” occurs (namely, Timotheus, according to Schleiermacher, Bleek, de Wette—or Silas, according to Schwanbeck). It would, on the contrary, be very singular, and, indeed, inexplicable, if the writer, after having been for some time in Paul’s company, should now only employ the first person, Silas having already accompanied Paul from Antioch, and Timotheus at least from Lystra. And the only difficulty which has been specially found in the present passage—namely, that the part which the narrator personally took in the deliberations and ultimate decision, is unsuited to one who had just joined the company—is altogether imaginary. If Paul met with Luke here in Troas, and, as one who had without doubt previously been a Christian, attached him to the company of travellers, it was quite appropriate that he should counsel and decide in common with Silas and Timotheus.

Acts 16:11. Therefore loosing [sailing] from Troas.—The second part of this missionary journey, embracing Macedonia, begins with the embarkation of the company, which now consists of four persons. After a rapid and successful voyage in a direct course (εὐθυδρομήσαντες), they reach the island of Samothrace, in the Ægean sea, to the north-west of Troas, and only 38 Roman miles from the Thracian coast. They proceeded, on the next day, to Neapolis, a sea-port of Thrace, situated on the Strymonic Gulf, the modern name of which is Kavalla [Cavallo; Conyb. and H. Life etc. of St. Paul I. 309.—Tr.]. As they were aware that duty called them to Macedonia, they continued their journey without delay, until they reached the Macedonian city of Philippi, about 10 miles [Conyb., etc.] distant from Neapolis, to the north-west. This city was built and fortified by the father of Alexander the Great, on the site of a village called Krenides, on the Thracian boundary, and accordingly hears his name. Luke describes it in a twofold manner. (a) as the first city of that part of Macedonia; (b) as a colony. The latter fact is confirmed by other accounts, according to which Octavianus [Augustus] established the partisans of Antony there, gave the city the character of a colony, and invested it with colonial privileges (jus Italicum). [On this subject see Conyb. and H. I. 313 ff.—Tr.]. But the former remark has created various difficulties. The words πρώτη τῆς μερίδος, etc., might at first suggest the thought that Philippi was intended to be described as the capital of that district of Macedonia. But the classic writers furnish the names of the capitals of the four districts into which Macedonia was divided, with great precision; Philippi is not mentioned in the list, but Amphipolis was, on the contrary, the capital of that district to which Philippi belonged (Macedonia prima). [Thessalonica was the “chief city” of the whole province of Macedonia.—Tr.]. Accordingly, πρώτη cannot be taken in such a sense [as chief city, capital], and still less can it be supposed, with Ewald, that Philippi had been made the capital of the whole province of Macedonia, because the Roman governor perhaps resided there at that time. Further, the interpretation that πρώτη is a title of honor, referring to special privileges granted to the city (Hug; Kuinoel), can claim no consideration, as no facts are on record which sustain it. The same remark applies to the combination of πρώτη πόλις with κολωνία, i.e., the first, the most eminent colonial city, of the region (Meyer); for the arrangement of the words certainly suggests that πρώτη τῆς μερίδος is a second and independent predicate (eademque colonia, van Hengel: Comm. in Ep. ad Phil.). We can, therefore, adopt no other method than to take πρώτη τῆς μερίδος in a topographical sense, viz., ‘which is the first city of the province of Macedonia’ [‘to which we came in that district,’ as Neapolis properly belongs to Thrace. (Alf.).—Tr.]. Meyer objects to this view that Luke cannot have had any conceivable motive for departing from his usual method, by making such a precise geographical statement. But an examination of the context, beginning with Acts 16:8, the more carefully it is conducted, will the more successfully remove this difficulty, and also recommend our interpretation as the only one that is correct. The apostle clearly understood, after he had seen that vision in the night, that the Redeemer called him to Macedonia, in order to preach the Gospel there. From that moment he and his companions resolved to continue their missionary journey in a direct course to Macedonia, and they immediately sought for the earliest opportunity to proceed to that country. After they had found a ship and embarked at Troas, they rapidly proceeded, with favorable winds (εὐθυδρομήσαντες), past Samothrace, to Neapolis. [“On a later occasion (Acts 20:6) we are told that five days were spent on the passage from Philippi to Troas. On the present occasion the same voyage, in the opposite direction, was made in two.” (Conyb. and H. I. 306.—Tr.]. Now Neapolis was a Thracian city, whereas they had been directed to go to Macedonia. Hence they made no delay, but continued their journey until they reached Philippi, “which is the first city [which we reached] in the province of Macedonia.” According to this interpretation ἥτις retains its sense, as indicating the motive [viz. to reach Macedonia, while Meyer suggests, as the motive indicated by ἥτις, the distinctive character of Philippi, as the most important colonial city of the district.—Tr.]; and our explanation is confirmed by the fact that it is now established (since Rettig published his Quæst. Philippenses, p. 3 ff. 1831), that Neapolis actually belonged at that time to Thrace, and was not attached to Macedonia until the reign of Vespasian.—Erasmus had already given the following interpretation: ea civitas colonia, prima occurrit a Neapoli petentibus Macedoniam, and recent interpreters have adopted the same view, e. g. Olshausen, de Wette [also Alford; Conyb. and H. Life, etc. of St. Paul, p. 309, and 311, note 9.—Tr.]

Acts 16:12-13. a. Philippi, which is the chief [the first] city (i.e., in Europe, in which the messengers of Jesus Christ paused, and preached the Gospel).—It was on a sabbath when this first occurred, and on the bank of a river, at a spot which had been assigned and consecrated by custom (ἐνομίζετο) to meetings for prayer (προςευχή, a place of prayer, as a substitute for a synagogue). [“There was no synagogue at Philippi, but only one of those buildings called Proseuchæ, which were distinguished from the regular places of Jewish worship by being of a more slight and temporary structure, and frequently open to the sky.” (Conyb. and H., Life etc. of St. Paul, I. 315.)—Tr.]. This river has hitherto been supposed to be the Strymon, and such is the opinion of Neander, de Wette, and Meyer, 2d ed. [But Meyer now says, in the 3d ed. Acts 1861: “Not the Strymon—but the small stream Gangas, or some other one—.”—Tr.]. These writers are, however, in error, for the Strymon is more than a day’s journey distant from Philippi, to the west [“The nearest point on the Strymon was many miles distant.” (Conyb. etc., as quoted above.)—Tr.]. The wide plain on which the celebrated battle was fought, in which the army of the republicans was defeated by Antony and Octavius (B. C. 42), lay between this river and the city. Another river must, consequently, be meant, which flowed past the city at a distance of, at most, five or six stadia, that is, a sabbath day’s journey. It was, perhaps, the stream which Appian calls the Gangas or Gangites. Dr. Hackett, the same American divine who wrote a Commentary on the Acts, found, on a visit to the place, which, it is true, occurred in the winter (Dec. 13, 1858), a considerable stream flowing on the east side of the ruins of Philippi. [Dr. Hackett, without referring in the last edition, 1863, to his visit, remarks: “In summer the Gangas is almost dry, but in winter or after rains may be full and swollen.” (Com. at Acts 16:13).—Tr.]. Now it was precisely on the banks of rivers, or on the seashore, that acts of worship were performed by way of preference, since the water needed for sacred ablutions, was thus furnished at the same time [“as it was customary to wash the hands before prayer.” (Meyer).—Josephus (Antiq. xiv. 10, 23) quotes from a public decree: “they may make their proseuchæ at the sea-side, according to the customs of their forefathers.”—Tr.].

b. And on the sabbath, etc.—The day and the place alike show that the apostle and his companions had Israelites and proselytes primarily in view. It seems, however, that there were, at that time, no Jewish men in the city. [“The number of the Jews at Philippi was small. This is sufficiently accounted for, when we remember that it was a military, and not a mercantile, city.” (Conyb. and H., I. p. 315.—Tr.]. Paul and his companions could speak, in that rural place of prayer, only to the women who had there assembled. And even they may have been few in number, as the speakers could not deliver addresses, but only engage in familiar conversation: καθίσαντες ἐλαλοῦμεν. This expression, as contradistinguished from λέγειν, διαλέγεσθαι, etc. describes a comparatively free and conversational intercourse; and the circumstance that they did not stand, but, rather, sat, while they spoke, indicates that they did not make their remarks in the formal and solemn manner of a public discourse. [Conyb. and H. (I. 317, and note 1) say: “Assuming at once the attitude of teachers, they ‘sat down,’ etc. Comp. ἐκάθισαν, Acts 13:14; and ἐκάθισε, Luke 4:20.”—Tr.]

Acts 16:14. And a certain woman, etc.—There was one of the hearers who was, in a special degree, open to the influence of the truth, and who listened with earnest attention to all that Paul said. (Διανοίγω signifies to open, to open fully and widely.), [“Luke views this susceptibility of the woman as produced by the influence of the exalted Christ (ὁ κύριος), who promotes the interests of his kingdom, and who opened the heart Of Lydia, διήνοιξε, that is, wrought in her inner vital action a corresponding disposition and adaptation.” (Meyer).—Tr.]. She was a proselyte [“σεβου. τ. θεόν, see Acts 13:16” (Meyer)—Tr.], and a dealer in purple, known as Lydia, of the city of Thyatira.—This city belonged to a district of Asia Minor called Lydia, to the north of Sardis. [Lydia was a part of the province of Asia; see above, Acts 16:7-8, Exeg. etc., and comp. Revelation 1:11; Revelation 2:18.—Tr.]. It is quite possible that she bore the name of “the Lydian woman” in Philippi, only on account of her original home; the name of Lydia was, however, very frequently given to females in ancient times.—The city of Thyatira was celebrated, at a very early period, for its purple dyes and purple fabrics, and thus the circumstance that she was a πορφυρόπωλις, a dealer in cloths that had received a purple dye, agrees with her descent. [“The purple color, so extravagantly valued by the ancients, included many shades or tints, from rose-red to sea-green or blue. Lydia’s occupation may have been the sale of the dye itself, procured from a shell-fish (purpura murex), but more probably was that of cloth or clothes dyed with it, etc.” (Alex.)—Tr.]. And as Thyatira itself was a Macedonian colony, (Strabo), we may the more readily understand that circumstances connected with this woman’s trade, brought her at this time to Philippi.

Acts 16:15. And when she was baptized.—Although it is not probable that the baptism of Lydia and her family was performed on the spot, it occurred, no doubt, on an early occasion. She then urgently invited the apostle and all his companions to enter her house, and remain there as her guests. Παρεβιάσατο, she constrained them to come; the same word, again occurs in Luke 24:29, as descriptive of friendly and repeated requests and importunities; it does not, however, justify the inference that the missionaries had at first resisted (Bengel; Baumgarten). This proffered hospitality furnished direct evidence of her love to the Redeemer, which proceeded from faith and which manifested itself by disinterested and kind attentions to His messengers. She supported her plea by appealing to the judgment which they had themselves pronounced in her case (κεκρίκατε), and without which they would unquestionably have declined to baptize her; they had declared that she was a believer, in reference to the Lord, πιστὴν τῷ κυρίῳ, which does not mean “faithful” to the Lord, for such a judgment would have been manifestly precipitate. That the messengers of the Gospel acceded to the request of Lydia, and entered her house as guests, may be confidently assumed, for παρεβιάσατο expresses, as in Luke 24:29, not merely the conatus, but also the actus.—[She was baptized, and her household.—“The real strength of the argument (viz., that as households include children, we have no right to except them from the general statement) lies not in any one case, but in the repeated mention of whole houses as baptized.” (Alex.)—“Who can believe that not one infant was found in all these families, and that Jews, accustomed to the circumcision, and Gentiles, accustomed to the lustration, of infants, should not have also brought them to baptism?” (Bengel).—“The practice (of infant-baptism) does not rest on inference, but on the continuity and identity of the covenant of grace to Jew and Christian, the sign only, of admission being altered.”—(Alford).—Tr.]

Acts 16:16-18. And it came to pass, etc.—Some days afterwards, and not on the same sabbath (Heinrichs and Kuinoel, whom Meyer has refuted), occurred the expulsion of the soothsaying spirit from a female slave [παιδίσκη in this sense, in the N. T.; see Robinson’s Lex.—Tr.]. She had a πνεῦμα πύθωνα, and practised divination (μαντευομένη), and, indeed, as a ventriloquist, as it may be inferred from the word πύθων. Python was the name of the serpent at Delphi, which was killed by Apollo. The name was afterwards given to any soothsaying δαιμόνιον, and Hesychius specially states that πύθων means a ventriloquist, a soothsaying ventriloquist. Plutarch also mentions incidentally [De def. arac. p. 414. E.—Tr,.] that, in his day, the name πύθων was given to one who, at an earlier period, had been termed an ἐγγαστρίμυθος, or εὐρυκλῆς [“The LXX. usually render אִבוֹת by ἐγγαστρίμυθος, ventriloquist, and correctly; since among the ancients this power of ventriloquism was often misused for the purpose of magic.” (Robinson’s Hebr. Lex. p. 20). Comp. Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:6; Leviticus 20:27, etc. Sept. and see Schleusner: Thes. V. T. ad verb. ἐγγαστρίμυθος.—“Augustine calls this girl ‘ventriloqua foemina’, De Civ. Dei. II. 23. (Conyb. and H. I. 322. n. 1.)—Tr.]. Those persons who placed confidence in the soothsaying of this female, probably believed that a god who prophesied dwelt, in her, but Paul recognized in her one who was possessed by an unclean spirit, that is, she was a demoniac. She was the slave of several joint-owners (πὁ κύριοι), who availed themselves of her soothsaying arts as a source of profit, and who derived large gains from the money paid by the people for her divinations.—This person met Paul and his companions, on a certain occasion, as they were going to the place of prayer, ran after them, and, at the same time, cried to those who passed by, that these men were servants of the most high God, who showed the way of salvation. She accordingly spoke the truth, by means of a clairvoyance and gift, of divination which had been conferred upon her in a supernatural manner. [Without resorting, in this particular case, to ventriloquism and animal magnetism for an explanation, which is no more necessary here than in the analogous cases furnished by the Gospels, e. g., Luke 4:34-35, Mr. Howson remarks: “It is enough to say that we see no reason to blame the opinion of those writers, who believe that a wicked spiritual agency was really exerted in the prophetic sanctuaries and prophetic personages of the heathen world.” (Con. and Howson’s Life etc. of St. Paul. I. 321.—Tr.]. As the woman often repeated the act, Paul felt wounded (διαπονηθείς), because he could not accept of any recommendation and support, or any honor from a spirit which was not of God. Hence, he suddenly turned to the woman who was following him, and commanded the spirit, in the name of Jesus, to come out of her.

Acts 16:19-21. And when her masters saw, etc.—This occurrence created enemies, and even subjected Paul and Silas to corporeal punishment and to imprisonment. [“This is the first persecution proceeding from a purely heathen source, of which we have an account.” (Meyer).—Tr.]. ʼΙδόντες can scarcely imply that the owners of the slave were present at the time when, the expulsion of the spirit took place, but rather refers to a subsequent time, when they became convinced that she had been restored to the ordinary psychic state, that the soothsaying spirit had departed from her, and that, consequently, no prospect of additional gains existed. (ʼΕξῆλθεν [applied alike to the departure of the spirit, and to that of the hope of gain, Acts 16:18-19.—Tr.], is, intentionally used in a double sense.). Self-interest now goaded them on to seek revenge, and they accordingly seized the persons of Paul and Silas in a violent manner. (Timotheus and Luke, as subordinate companions, were not molested.). The two men were dragged to the market-place before the rulers (οἱ ἄρχοντες, is a general term), and presented, as accused persons, specially to the στρατηγοί. The honorable title of στπατηγός, equivalent to the Roman prætor, was gladly accepted by the highest magistrates in Roman colonial cities, although their proper title was Duumviri (“cum ceteris in coloniis duumviri appellentur, hi se prætores appellari volebant.” Cicero: De Lege Agrar. c. 34.). [“The complainants must have felt some difficulty in stating their grievance.—The law had no remedy for property depreciated by exorcism. The true state of the case was therefore concealed, etc.” (Conyb. and H. p. 323.—Tr.]. The charge, assuming a political character, referred to political disturbances which, as it was alleged, had been created (ἐκτάρασσειν, perturbare), and was founded on the circumstance that these men, being Jews, attempted to introduce customs which the citizens, as Roman subjects and colonists, were not permitted to adopt and practise. [For the authorities respecting the intolerance of the Romans, see Conyb. and H. I. 324, notes,—Tr.]. The name. ʼΙουδαῖοι, is not merely the antithesis to ʼPωμαίοις οῦ̓σι, as distinguishing the one nation from the other, but is, at the same time, pronounced in a bitter and contemptuous manner, and is intended to rouse the angry passions of the hearers.—ʼ́Εθη occurs here [as in Acts 6:14] in a wide sense, including customs connected with public worship and the religious life.—It may be added, that these accusers had not yet learned to distinguish Christianity, as such, but still confounded it with Judaism.

Acts 16:22-24. And the multitude rose up together.—The multitude, after having rapidly assembled, at once united with the masters of that slave, in assailing the two Christians (σννεπέστη), probably by tumultuous cries and demands. And the duumviri, doubtless alarmed, and anxious to appease the excited people, immediately proceeded, without any previous trial or judicial process, to inflict a corporeal punishment, by administering many blows on the naked bodies of the accused; (περιῤῥήξαντες τὰ ἱμάτια, comp. Liv. II. 5. 8; lacerantibus vestem lictoribus). The act was unquestionably not performed by the στρατηγοί personally (Bengel), but by the inferior officers of justice (the ῥαβδοῦχοι, Acts 16:35; Acts 16:38, the lictors), who inflicted the blows with rods (virgis cædere). [“Many stripes—there being no such merciful restriction in the Roman practice, as in that of the Jews (2 Corinthians 11:24), or rather in the law of Moses (Deuteronomy 25:3).” (Alex.).—Tr.]. The punishment was, probably, ordered and inflicted with such haste and passion that no protest against it could be audibly made. After this scene, which preceded any form of trial, the two strangers were committed to prison, and special orders were given to the jailer to secure them carefully. He obeyed by consigning them, as if they were dangerous criminals, to a cell which was situated far in the interior of the prison (ἐσωτέραν), and, also, by fastening their feet in the stocks (τὸ ξύλον, nervus). This instrument was a heavy piece of wood with holes, into which the feet were placed in such a manner that they were widely distended; hence it was also an implement of torture.

Acts 16:25-28. And at midnight.The miraculous aid. While Paul and Silas, in this ignominious and painful situation, were nevertheless, engaged, at midnight, in praying to God, and praising him [singing hymns to his praise, ὕμνουν,—Tr.] with loud voices, insomuch that the other prisoners listened in wonder, the foundations of the building were shaken by a violent earthquake; all the doors were thrown open, and not only were their own fetters instantly loosened, but also those of all (παντων) the other prisoners. The jailer, suddenly awaking, supposed at first, when he found the doors open, that his prisoners had escaped, and intended, amid loud cries of despair, to commit suicide. At that moment Paul called to him, and calmed him with the assurance that all were there. [“By the Roman law, the jailer was to undergo the same punishment which the malefactors who escaped by his negligence were to have suffered.” (Conyb. and H. I. 329. n. 2.—Tr.].—The other prisoners had listened to the, prayers of the two men, and when the earthquake occurred, which opened the doors and loosened all bonds, they felt the power of God, and, deeply impressed by the miracle, remained motionless in their cells.

Acts 16:29-34. Then he called for a light.The effect produced by the miracle, in the case of the jailer. He hastily entered with a light into the inner prison (εἰζεπήδησε), and, filled with fear, and trembling from anguish of conscience (ἔντρομος), threw himself at the feet of Paul and Silas; for he was now thoroughly convinced that they were specially protected by the Deity. He then led them out of the ἐσωτέρα φυλακή, (Acts 16:24), and conducted them to the inner court of the prison (προαγ.—ἔξω); here he respectfully addressed them (κύριοι), and asked what he ought to do, in order to obtain that salvation which they preached (Acts 16:17). ["Ινα σωθῶ; he refers to that σωτηρία, that ὁδὸν σωτηρίας, Acts 16:17, which, as he had previously heard, they showed to men; he was now convinced that they spoke the truth. (Meyer).—Tr.]. They require faith in Jesus as the Lord, and assure him that thus he and all the inmates of his house would be saved. They begin at once to proclaim succinctly to him and to all who belong to him, the word concerning Jesus Christ [καὶ ἐλάλησαν]. The result was, that he, together with his whole house (πανοικί scarcely occurs except in the later Greek), believed in God; (the expression οεουστευκώς τῷ θεῷ, because he had been a pagan and polytheist. He and all his were baptized during the same night; the rite was unquestionably administered in the court within the enclosure of the prison, at a well or tank. And we may infer from Acts 16:33, that his baptism, occurred in immediate connection with his own act of washing the bloody marks made by the rods on the persons of Paul and Silas. [Constructio prægnaus in Acts 16:33, ἐλουσν, etc., i.e., he washed and cleansed them from the blows, that is, from the blood with which they were covered in consequence of the blows. (Winer: Gr. N. T. § 47. 5. b. and § 66. 2.—Tr.]. They returned that act of love by another, when they baptized him and his family at the same water. [“Nothing follows as to his immersion, since both ablutions may have been performed at the mouth of a deep well, or even with a bowl of water brought in for the purpose.” (Alexander). A well or cistern may have supplied the bowl with water; facilities for an immersion could scarcely have been found in the interior of an ancient Roman prison. If, on the other hand, Paul had stealthily gone forth during the night, in order to immerse the jailer in a neighboring stream, how could he, as an honest man, have, on the next day, declared that, after having been ignominiously conducted within the prison-walls, he would not leave them, until the magistrates personally led him forth?—Tr.]. And now the jailer provided food in his own dwelling for the two men, who were exhausted by the cruel treatment which they had received, the scourging, and the severe confinement. (The expression άναγαών—εῖ̓ς, does not imply, as Meyer interprets it, that the jailer’s abode was a story higher than the prison, but merely that it was a story higher than the court of the prison, in which the ablution of the prisoners, and his own baptism had occurred). τράπεζαν is both a Hebrew and a Roman mode of expression; ,חַּעְַר̇ךְ לְפָנַי שֻׁלְחָן Psalms 23:5, apposuit mensam, and occurs in Greek as early as the age of Homer. (Od. E. 93).

Acts 16:35-40. a. And when it was day.The honorable dismission of the prisoners. On the next morning, the duumviri, who had, after further reflection during the interval, perceived that they had acted with too much precipitation, and who had probably received tidings of the occurrences in the prison during the night, were willing to dispose of the whole matter at once, by dismissing the prisoners. They accordingly sent an order by the lictors to the jailer, directing him to dismiss those people; (the order is expressed in haughty and contemptuous terms, τ. ἀνθρ. ἐκείνους). The jailer communicated the message to the two men, and supposed that they would now be gratified on recovering their liberty (ἐξελθόντες), and being permitted to continue their journey without molestation (ἐν εἰρήνῃ). But Paul objected to such a course; he represented to the officials before him (πρός αὐτούς, i.e., the jailer and the lictors), that the whole procedure had been contrary to law. He and Silas had, in violation of every sentiment of justice, been punished without a trial and judgment (ἀκατακρίτους); besides, they had both, although as Roman citizens, they could not be subjected to such a punishment, been scourged with rods, in opposition to the Roman law, and, moreover, they had suffered in public (δημοσία), which circumstance was an additional aggravation of the injury. [“By the Lex Valeria, passed A. U. C. 264, and the Lex Porcia, A. U. C. 506, Roman citizens were, exempted from stripes and torture: by the former, till an appeal to the people was decided,—by the latter, absolutely.” (Alford, Meyer). “The violation of the rights of citizens, was regarded as treason, and, as such, severely punished.” (Meyer, on Acts 16:38).—Tr.]. They had then—Paul continues—been imprisoned. And now the magistrates wish to terminate the affair in a secret manner (λάθρα, the antithesis to δημοσία), by driving them abruptly from the prison, as they are already doing (pres. ἐκβάλλουσιν), as far as it depends on them. Paul’s meaning is: ‘All this is wrong;’ hence he peremptorily refuses to go (οὐ γαρ;—γάρ indicates that the direct negative, οὐ, contains the reason for the preceding indignant question [“and αλλά corresponds adversatively to οὐ.” (Meyer). See Winer: Gr. N. T. § 53. 8. a. note 2.—Tr.]). He demands that the duumviri should come personally (αὐτοί, not merely, sending the Motors), for the purpose of conducting them forth from the prison. Any other course might have suggested the thought that the prisoners had not been entirely free from guilt, and Paul’s departure might, at a subsequent period, have been represented as an escape, if he had withdrawn in the informal and quiet manner which had been proposed. [Doubtless, too, he apprehended that such a stain on his own reputation, might be prejudicial to the holy cause for which he labored.—Tr.].—He therefore testifies that he and Silas were Roman citizens (ἄνθρωποι ʼPωμαῖοι). In the ease of Silas, this fact is not known from other sources, but we are informed in Acts 22:25-28, that Paul possessed the privilege of Roman citizenship from his birth. But he did not acquire it as a native of Tarsus, as some have erroneously supposed (Bengel), because that city was an urbs libera. [That is, it was not a colonia or municipium, but had only received the right from Augustus, after the civil war, of being governed by its own magistrates, while it acknowledged the Roman sovereignty; its citizens were not endowed with the privileges attaching to Roman citizenship. (Meyer).—Tr.]. Hence his father, or one of his ancestors must have received the Roman citizenship as a reward for services rendered to the state, or have acquired it by purchase. [See Exeg. etc., notes on Acts 22:24-29.—Tr.]

b. And they feared.—When the authorities of the city received the report respecting Paul’s statements, they were alarmed (φοβηθέντες), particularly as the prisoners enjoyed the rights of Roman citizens. Their illegal proceedings in the case of men invested with this character, might easily subject them to a trial and to punishment. They were consequently induced to proceed in person to the prison, and address the prisoners in terms of entreaty (παρακαλεῖν undoubtedly implies, in this connection, that they made an apology, and entreated the latter to be satisfied); they conducted them in an honorable manner beyond the prison walls (ἐξαγαγόντες), and courteously requested (ἠρώτων) that they would voluntarily leave the city. Paul and Silas complied, without, however, exhibiting great haste; they first visited the house of Lydia (ἐξελθόντες—εἰςῆλθον), and there saw, exhorted [“παρεκάλεσαν, that they should not waver in their Christian confession.” (Meyer).—Tr.], and strengthened the brethren, i.e., both their fellow-travellers, Timotheus and Luke, and also the new converts.—ʼΕξῆλθον refers solely to Paul and Silas, and, as contradistinguished from the use of the first person (Acts 16:16 ff.), implies that at least Luke, and perhaps also Timotheus, remained for the present, in Philippi, [“Timotheus seems to have rejoined Paul and Silas, if not at Thessalonica, at least at Berœa (Acts 17:14). But we do not see St. Luke again in the Apostle’s company till the third missionary journey and the second visit to Macedonia (Acts 20:4-6), where the first person, ‘we’ re-appears.” (Conyb. and H. I. 334.—Tr.]


1. The transition of the Gospel to Europe strikingly illustrates the work and the kingdom of Christ in their incipient state, when they were apparently feeble, and as insignificant as a mustard-seed. When the apostle became conscious that he had received a call to Macedonia, he and his companions found originally, on reaching the first city of that country, no other hearers of the saving truth which they proclaimed, except some females. Nevertheless, these servants of Christ did not regard such a beginning as insignificant. Jesus himself had conversed with a Samaritan woman at a well, and the act surprised his disciples (John 4:27). The apostles of the Gentiles imitate their Master. If they cannot address many hearers, they are willing to speak to a few. Although their communications cannot assume the form of a sermon or public discourse, they are still happy that they are able to speak of Jesus, in a familiar conversation, to those few souls. And yet this apparently insignificant seed, produced a rich and precious harvest—the flourishing congregation of Philippi.

2. There was one individual among the few female hearers, who took to heart the words which Paul spoke, and listened with devout attention. Her susceptibility itself was already an effect of grace. The Lord Jesus Christ had called his messengers to Macedonia, and it was He who opened her heart. Christ has the key of David; he can so open, that no man can shut. (Revelation 3:7). The human heart is closed and barred by sin, so that divine truth cannot enter, enlighten the mind, direct the will, and renew the inner man. Grace opens the heart and converts it into good ground, in which the seed can remain, take root, and grow. The word is the same, but the hearing is twofold: when the Lord opens the heart, Conversion is possible to man, but it is actually effected only when man himself also receives the word with willingness and attention. Chrysostom says: τὸ μὲν οῦ̓ν�, τὸ δὲ προςέχειν αὐτῆς, ῶοτε καὶ θεῖου καὶ�.

3. Baptism is administered on two occasions that are described in this chapter, and each time an entire family is baptized—Lydia and her household, Acts 16:15; the jailer and “all his”, Acts 16:33. This is the first mention which Luke makes in his narrative of the missionary labors of Paul, of the baptism of the converted; and it is a significant circumstance, in both of the cases described in the present chapter, that all who belonged to the two persons named, were baptized along with them. Both passages, Acts 16:15; Acts 16:33, are adduced in favor of Infant-baptism, as an apostolical practice, on the supposition that little children were undoubtedly also counted as members of the family; and Bengel asks: Quis credat, in tot familiis nullum fuisse infantem? It is true that we cannot by any means maintain that this was the fact, with such confidence as to quote it as evidence. The most important feature of the whole subject, however, is not connected with the questions whether there were children in those families, or what their ages may have been. It is rather the indisputable fact, that in both cases the whole household, or all who belonged to the families, were baptized with the respective heads, which is here of a decisive character. It involves the conception of a Christian family, a Christian household. Personal self-determination is indeed a lofty privilege; still, it is not consistent with the truth to isolate the individual; the unity of the family in Christ, the consecration of the household through grace, the entire subjection of all to one Lord—these seem to us to be here required by the will of God. And it is a remarkable fact that this aspect of salvation is prominently exhibited in the apostolical history, first of all, on European ground.

4. The apostle of the Redeemer engages in a conflict with heathenism on a Macedonico-Hellenic soil. The arts of divination had been extensively practised ever since the Peloponnesian war. Polytheism prevailed; the Pythian oracles stood in the closest connection with the worship of Apollo. Even the comparative purity of which the whole system might possibly boast, gradually disappeared, and a superstitious form of soothsaying succeeded; a calculating selfishness, and gross or artful frauds were found in company with superstition. All these features—essentially heathenish as they are—were revealed in a hideous combination, in the case of the soothsaying female slave. The most serious injuries inflicted on the apostles proceeded from men whose interests had suffered. This circumstance does not, however, justify the inference that the whole affair was nothing else than an imposition, since, on this supposition, the exclamation of the slave, recorded in Acts 16:17, would be altogether inexplicable. We must probably assume that the case exhibits a kind of clairvoyance. And in that the apostle recognizes a demoniacal power, and expels the spirit by a powerful command issued in the name of Jesus. Bengel remarks: Erat spiritus non e pessimis; quia non citius commovit Paulum: sed tamen expelli dignus. Any toleration of such exclamations, and, much more, any alliance with such spirits, could have had no other effect than that of dishonoring the Gospel, and hindering the grace and truth of God.

5. But the expulsion of the spirit in the power of Christ, subjects the apostles to a political accusation. In Jerusalem, the ostensible ground for the persecutions to which the apostles (Acts 4:2; Acts 4:7; Acts 5:28) and Stephen (Acts 6:11-14) were exposed, had been uniformly furnished by religion. The sufferers were accused of having invaded the rights of the hierarchical officers and teachers, and of having uttered blasphemies against God and Moses, the temple and the law. In Philippi, persecution assumes a political character; Paul and Silas are charged with having created disturbances, and attempted to introduce customs which were contrary to the Roman customs. Persecutions had been previously endured on a heathen soil (in Antioch of Pisidia, Acts 13:14; Acts 13:50, in Iconium, and in Lystra, Acts 14:4; Acts 14:19), but this is the first instance, in which, besides, the motives of the persecutors really proceeded from a heathenish source alone. The Roman authorities of the colonial city of Philippi, impelled by the covetousness of certain individuals who had sustained a loss, and by the excited but blind passions of the populace, hastily adopted illegal and unjustifiable measures. The whole occurrence may be viewed as a premonition of all those bloody persecutions to which the Roman empire was about to subject the Christians during two centuries (comp. Baumgarten, II. 1. p. 210, 211).—Indeed, the sufferings of Christ Himself, furnish the proper type of all the persecutions which have befallen His church. This is specially the case in so far as He was himself brought before both Jewish and heathen tribunals, and condemned, by the Jewish hierarchy for irreligion, and by the Roman procurator, for a political offence. The experience of his disciples is now the same in both respects: they are accused, at first, of offences of a hierarchical and religious, and, afterwards, of those of a political nature.

6. “By succumbing, we conquer”, is here again the watch-word. The two imprisoned witnesses of Christ have suffered the deepest humiliation; their feet are fastened in the stocks; their backs are lacerated with stripes; they are cast among common criminals. They are, nevertheless, so joyful and happy when they offer prayer to God, in the middle of the night, that they sing hymns of praise with loud voices. Thus the spirit prevails over the flesh; thus faith and patience prevail over tribulation. And the miracle by which their bonds were burst asunder, and the doors opened, is the answer of God to the prayers and praises which they offered to Him. The prison is converted into a church—a place suited for baptism, for gentle ministrations to the suffering (Acts 16:33), and for a cheerful agape (Acts 16:34).

7. The question and the answer in Acts 16:30-31, are both, as it were, classical. Both strike precisely the central point at which they are aimed—the central point of the heart, and also that of the plan of salvation. The question proceeds from the heart, and reaches the heart. On the day of Pentecost, those Jews whose hearts had been so deeply moved by Peter’s discourse, exclaimed: “Brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). Here, in Philippi, the jailer, who had been powerfully affected by the occurrence that had taken place, and who was troubled in his conscience, asked, in most respectful terms: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” His anguish of conscience, the fear of divine punishment, and an ardent desire for salvation, combine to prompt a question expressive not only of a wish for practical instructions, but also of an inward longing to reach the goal (σωθῆναι). The latter feature is not seen in Acts 2:37; but the pagan, whose natural way was dark and conducted neither to peace nor to knowledge, was negatively prepared by this very circumstance for asking such a question; it proceeded from the depths of a heart which was conscious of its own emptiness, and yet thirsted after God and that salvation which is in God. But he does not merely desire to receive or take—he is also willing and resolved to do (ποιεῖν) all that is requisite, in order to reach the goal. And thus a consciousness of his misery, a desire for salvation, a thirst after knowledge, and a willingness to do his duty, are all found in combination in his soul; and “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” [Matthew 12:34]. These are, indeed, the sentiments of a truly awakened soul, which is not far from the kingdom of God, which has been happily reached by preventing grace [gratia præveniens], and which seeks and knocks.—The answer of the two servants of Christ is worthy of the question. They state the means and the way to which the question referred, in brief and appropriate terms; proceeding at once to the main point, they reply: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” They exhibit to this seeking soul the Person of Christ, in whom alone there is salvation, and add no unmeaning phrases. They demand a faith of which His Person is the object—nothing more than faith, and nothing less. “Fide sola” had become the watch-word of the apostle Paul, and, in accordance with his example, was afterwards adopted by the Reformers as their own. The jailer was willing to do (ποιεῖν) all that should be asked; neverthless, they demand, not multiplied services, labors, and works wrought by himself, but solely faith, that is, a cordial acceptance and appropriation of the personal Saviour Himself, and implicit confidence in Him. Still, the faith to which this man attained, impelled him to render all the services which gratitude and love could suggest, and which he could perform; he compassionately washed their stripes, and supplied them, in their state of exhaustion, with food.—He had desired salvation, and to this inquiry, too, the messengers reply. They do not detain him on the road, but at once direct his attention to the goal. In this case again, the grace of God, who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, [Ephesians 3:20], transcends the desires of man. The jailer had spoken only in reference to himself (σωθῶ): the answer is: σωθήσῃ σὺ καὶ ὁ οῖ̓κός σαυ—salvation shall come [Luke 19:9], not to him alone, but also to his whole household. The paternal love of God in Christ is so abundant, that he can grant pardon, salvation, and peace to many at the same time, and bestow his grace on the whole family, as well as on its head. Paul and Silas accordingly continued to speak the word of the Lord to the jailer, and to all that were in his house, and then baptized him and ‘all his.’

8. The change of opinion on the part of the magistrates, the release of the prisoners, and the respectful and honorable manner in which the former conducted the latter forth from the prison, are prophetic signs of the victorious and honorable termination of the humiliations and persecutions to which Christianity would be subjected by the Roman Empire. The sufferings and the crucifixion of Christ were followed by his glorious resurrection. And the Church of Christ, over which the sign of the cross is seen, may, even in seasons of humiliation, that seem to conduct, to defeat and ruin, nevertheless always expect an Easter morning, and a glorious victory—provided that she follows in his footsteps, and never denies Him.


Acts 16:9. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night.—Faithful servants of Jesus walk as in the presence of God continually, by night as well as by day, and conform to his will; when they awake, they are still with him. (Psalms 139:18). (Ap. Past.).—Come over… and help us.—When a teacher properly considers the mournful condition of the unconverted, or the anxious desires of awakened souls, should not his heart be deeply moved, and impel him to hasten to their relief? Had not the Lord Jesus compassion on the multitude, when he saw them as sheep without a shepherd? (Ap. Past).—The great missionary call; “Come over and help us”: I. Addressed by the heathen world to Christendom, and intended (a) to reveal the misery of the heathen, and (b) to rouse our active love; II. Addressed by Christendom to heaven, imploring the Lord (a) to show us the right way (Acts 16:10 ff.), and (b) to open the hearts of heathens (Acts 16:14).—Come over, and help us! I. This call for help was once addressed by the pagan West to the Christian East; II. It is now addressed to Western Christianity by the East, which has relapsed into its former misery; III. This cry for relief may, possibly, be uttered at some future time by lands that still enjoy the blessings of the Gospel, when their ingratitude has caused the candlestick of the Gospel to be removed, and when the word of God (“the passing shower”, as Luther terms it), shall have passed by; IV. Therefore, to-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts [Hebrews 3:7-8].

Acts 16:10. Immediately we endeavored, etc.—Luke introduces himself, in his narrative, in this quiet, modest, and even reserved, manner. While he gazes at the great apostle, he entirely forgets himself; and when the Lord and His cause come into view, he loses sight of all persons.—Assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us.—Hence the Lord was already in Macedonia, and the vision taught them that his presence there had preceded them. (Bengel).—As soon as we are assured of the divine will, let us earnestly endeavor to obey it without delay. (Quesnel).

Acts 16:11. We came with a straight course.—When the ways of man please God, the winds and the weather are often made the agents which assist him. (Starke).—The prosperous voyage increased their confidence. “Ye are truly welcome,” said Europe. (Bengel).

Acts 16:12. Philippi, which is the chief city.—Great cities are frequently marked by great vices; still, we can often do good there, sooner than we could elsewhere.

Acts 16:13. And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, etc.—Paul and his companions had received this extraordinary and divine call to proceed to Macedonia; but now observe the artless and simple manner in which they commence their labors. They remain alone during a few days. Then they proceed, like others, to a common place of devotion, and content themselves with speaking there to a few women; they are calm, full of faith, and willing to follow the leadings of God. They exhibit no intemperate zeal; they form no lofty design. May the Lord conduct us also in such a middle course, between an extravagant zeal (which nature, and not grace, enkindles) on the one hand, and sloth and negligence, on the other; His blessing will be granted at the proper time. (Ap. Past.).—Every place is suited for true prayer—the field, Genesis 24:63; the seashore, Acts 21:5; the prison, Acts 16:25; the belly of a fish, Jonah 2:1-2; the fiery furnace, (the prayer of Azarias) [the apocryphal addition to Daniel 3:23, entitled in the English trans.: “The Song of the three children, etc.”.—Tr.]; 1 Timothy 2:8. (Starke).

Acts 16:14. A … woman named Lydia, … which worshipped God.—We do not see vast numbers before us here, whom the lessons of the apostles won for the cause of the Gospel; Lydia stands alone. When the kingdom of God first comes, it resembles a grain of mustard-seed. This new convert, at first a solitary woman, soon gains associates; the number increases, and the result is, the establishment of that noble congregation at Philippi, to which Paul addresses his admirable Epistle, and which he calls his “crown”. [Philippians 4:1]. (Ap. Past.).—Lydia was in precisely that frame of mind, in which the Macedonian man seemed to be, whom Paul saw in the vision. (Ibid.).—A seller of purple.—She was, consequently, a woman who had engaged in trade, and who possessed a certain amount of property. We can fear God and love his word, whether we are occupied with commercial affairs, or hold any other position in society. Hence Paul does not advise Lydia to abandon her occupation. Still, our business affairs are never to be influenced by unbelief, covetousness, and the cares of this world; the word of God must be more precious in our eyes than all the wealth of the world. (Bogatzky).—Whose heart the Lord opened.—The teacher addresses the ear in vain, unless God opens the heart, but man must consent that it should be opened. (Revelation 3:20).—When the Gospel reaches a hearer’s heart, the circumstance proves, not that the speaker is an excellent preacher, but that the Lord Himself stands before the door, and has opened the internal ear. (Gossner).

Acts 16:15. She besought us, saying, etc.—All her words and acts demonstrate the genuineness of her faith: it is, I. Humble, submitting to the judgment of experienced Christians: “if ye have judged, etc.”; II. Eager to learn, desiring increased power; III. Grateful to God; IV. Rich in works of love (all this is indicated in the words: “come into my house, and abide there.”); V. Influential as an example: “when she was baptized, and her household.”—And her household.—What would Lydia have said, if the preachers of the Lord Jesus had declined to baptize the little children of her household? She would have begun to mistrust her own faith—that gracious gift of God! (Besser).


Acts 16:9-15.). The first planting of the divine word in our part of the world: I. The manner in which it was effected, Acts 16:11-13; II. The success of the work, Acts 16:14-15. (Lisco).—Blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it [Luke 11:28]: I. How should we hear it? (a) With a mind withdrawn from the affairs of the world; Lydia had retired from the city; (b) with a heart consecrated by prayer; Lydia had gone forth to pray; (c) with an earnest desire for all the grace that God is willing to bestow; the Lord opened the heart of Lydia. II. How should we keep it? (a) Not by being satisfied with transient emotions, but by entering into a true communion of life with the Lord; Lydia received baptism; (b) by endeavoring to communicate to others our newly acquired faith; Lydia’s household is baptized with her; (c) by endeavoring to pay our debt of gratitude to the Lord in acts of disinterested love to our neighbor; Lydia constrains her benefactors to receive, her hospitable services. (From Lisco).—The earliest preaching of the Gospel in our part of the world: I. Who sends the preacher? II. Who is the preacher? III. Who is the hearer? (C. Beck: Hom. Rep.).—The guidance of God and the intelligence of man, combined in the work of extending the kingdom of God: I. God grants the vision to Paul, and opens the heart of Lydia; II. Paul understands and intelligently obeys the divine call, and wisely chooses the time and the place of his first discourse at Philippi. (ib.).—Lydia, the first Christian of Europe, a living illustration of the manner in which God opens a door for his word: I. By land and by sea. Paul’s passage to Europe; the distress of the world calls him; the love of Christ constrains him; the hand of the Lord leads him. II. To the ear and the heart. Paul’s first discourse in Philippi; the Lord gives him an opportunity to preach the word, gathers hearers around him, and opens a heart that receives the truth. III. To the family and the church. The fruits of Lydia’s conversion. The Lord opens her mouth for a public confession of Him—the hearts of her family for a devout imitation of her example—her hand for offices of gratitude and love.—The decisive victory at Philippi. The bloody battle of Philippi, a century previously, had laid the foundation of the empire of Augustus; the bloodless victory of Paul now lays the foundation for the kingdom of Christ on earth.

Acts 16:16. Which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying.—It is a common vice of men that they give largely in matters which do not belong to their province, while they will not expend a farthing on the true worship of God and on useful institutions. (Starke).

Acts 16:17. Cried, saying, These men are the servants, etc.—When Satan is transformed into an angel of light [2 Corinthians 11:14], he is most of all dangerous.—The devil often preaches the article of faith concerning God, but applies it to purposes of his own. (Starke).—When the devil cannot actually arrest the progress of the kingdom of God, he endeavors, at least, to make common cause with it, and thus affix a stigma to it. But the Lord Jesus, with his servants, has always carefully guarded against such dangers. Luther, for instance, learned from his experience, that attempts are often made to insnare men by flattering words. (Rieger).—A threefold artifice of the devil is here concealed: 1. He attempted to excite the self-complacency of the apostles, and weaken their zeal for Jesus by worldly praise. Many an upright teacher has already fallen into this snare. 2. He attempted to flatter them by the words of the female slave, so that they might allow him to retain possession of her, and continue his work of deceit. 3. He designed by these means to persuade the people that the apostles were his friends, and thus impair the strength of the Christian religion. (Ap. Past.).

Acts 16:18. But Paul, being grieved.—Christ does not need the praise of the devil, either in His own behalf, or in that of his servants. True Christians should regard the praise of wicked people with suspicion, and feel that it is even a hateful thing. (Starke). (The Grecian sage asked: “What base thing have I done, that this man praises me?”). The Lord grant us purity of sentiment, as the love of praise so easily besets us!—I command thee … out of her.—The powers of falsehood, which had already acquired such influence, the miserable condition of the slave, who might yet be saved, and a well-founded apprehension that Christianity might be regarded as also a magic art, that enveloped itself in darkness, combined to impel Paul to speak and act with such earnestness. (Rieger).

(Acts 16:16-18). The servants of the Most High God shew the way of salvation (Acts 16:17); this witness is true, although it proceeds from a lying mouth: I. Who are the servants of God? Those who serve God and his word alone, and not the false spirit of the world, self-interest, and pride, Acts 16:16; Acts 16:18. II. What is the way of salvation which they teach? The answer in Acts 16:31. (From Lisco).—The Christian’s conduct with respect to that which is wonderful, when the latter neither proceeds from the power of faith, nor is connected with it: I. The apostle’s mode of action; II. The rule with which it furnishes us. (Schleiermacher).—No alliance between the kingdom of truth and falsehood! I. The kingdom of truth does not need it; II. It was never benefited by it.—Distrust, O Christian, the praise of the world! I. It desires to excite thy vanity by means of that which is not thy merit, but a work of grace; II. It desires to check thy zeal, when directed against all ungodliness; III. It desires to allure thee from the service of thy God, and consign thee to the bondage of men.

Acts 16:19. Saw that the hope of their gains was gone.—The Gospel does, indeed, seriously interfere at times with the gains of men, since it forbids and condemns many profitable arts, and involves us in many trials and difficulties. (Starke).

Acts 16:20. These men … do exceedingly trouble our city.—Those who disturb the false peace of sinners, are usually denounced as disturbers of the public peace; 1 Kings 18:17; Amos 7:10. (Starke).—Lupus in fabula! The lamb is accused by the wolf of having troubled the water, and yet the latter drank higher up in the brook.

Acts 16:21. These men being Jews … teach customs … being Romans.—The charge against the servants of Christ is framed with great cunning; the accusers appeal, on the one hand, to the Roman name, the highest badge of distinction; they arouse, on the other, the hatred of the people against the apostles, by applying to them the name of Jews, which was, at that time, a term of reproach. (Calvin).—The devil had borne witness that they proclaimed the way of salvation, and now their teaching is represented as of such a nature that it could not with propriety be received! Perverse world! (Ap. Past.).—Two well-founded charges against the messengers of Christ, before the tribunal of the world: I. They disturb the city, i.e., arouse the sinner from his false repose; II. They are Jews, and teach customs which do not accord with those of the Romans, i.e., they humble the pride of the natural man.

Acts 16:22. Rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.—It is better to suffer for the sake of Jesus, than to be praised by the devil. (Ap. Past.).

Acts 16:23. They cast them into prison.—Since Christ himself was numbered with the transgressors [Isaiah 53:12], it is an honor to his servants to suffer imprisonment for his sake (Starke).—Let us value the writings of the apostle the more highly, on account of the “honorarium” which he received. (Besser). [Honorarium, i, e., the pay for the services of authors, physicians, etc. (Heyse).—Tr.]

Acts 16:24. Who, having received such a charge … the stocks.—Fidelity in discharging the duties of an office, even when unwisely exhibited, does not hinder, but may, at times, promote the conversion of men. (Starke).—The limbs do not feel the stocks, when the heart is in heaven. (Tertullian).—The feet of those who publish peace, are never more beautiful [Isaiah 3:7], than when they are bound in fetters and iron. (Gossner).

Acts 16:25. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, etc.—True Christians can, by their prayers and hymns, convert even a court of death, and a gate of hell, into a sanctuary and a gate of heaven. (Starke).—The place does not sanctify the person, but the person sanctifies the place. (Quenstedt).—It is no difficult art to sing praises in the external church, when it is not only tolerated, but even protected, and when money is paid for such praises; but no one, unless he is a true disciple of Jesus, and endowed with grace, can praise and sing in a prison, in bonds, and after having been scourged. (Gossner).—The wonderful worship of God at night in the prison of Philippi: I. The unusual hour of prayer—midnight; II. The singular temple—a prison; III. The remarkable appearance of those who conduct the services—Paul and Silas in the stocks; IV. The strange congregation—the prisoners in their cells.—Paul and Silas, singing praises by night, or, “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” [1 John 5:4].—The prayer in the prison at night, and the Amen pronounced by heaven (the earthquake).

Acts 16:26. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, etc.—It was the answer to their hymns of praise. (Gossner).—.The prayers of the saints move heaven and earth. (Starke).—It was a great miracle, when all the doors were opened and the bands loosed inconsequence of the earthquake; but it was a still greater miracle when the hearts of the jailer and of all his household were opened, (id.).—Every deliverance that is granted at any time to the servants of God, bears a certain resemblance to the final deliverance, when, at the sound of the last trumpet, even the prisons of the graves will be opened and the bands of corruption be loosed, and when the souls of men, motionless as it were, will anxiously await the things that shall come to pass. (Williger).—The midnight earthquake at Philippi, a miracle wrought by Him who breaks all bonds: I. He bursts the bonds of affliction, when his elect cry day and night unto him [Luke 18:7], (Paul and Silas); II. He breaks the chains of sin, when the soul that is bound, sighs after Him (the jailer); III. He opens a path for His word and kingdom, although the world may attempt to fetter them (the word of God is not bound [2 Timothy 2:9]); IV. He bursts open the prison of the grave, when the hour of eternal redemption arrives.—The midnight hour in the prison at Philippi, an image of the solemn hour of the Lord: I. The world sleeps, but believers await it with watchfulness and prayer; II. The earth trembles, but the Lord is near; III. The servants of sin stand trembling before the tribunal, but the children of the kingdom lift up their heads, for their redemption draweth nigh [Luke 21:28].

Acts 16:27. He drew out his sword, etc.—God permitted this jailer, who was soon afterwards converted, to exhibit the utmost wrath, and even despair; he was thus, in truth, a brand plucked out of the fire [Zechariah 3:2], well suited to demonstrate the power of the Gospel, which can transfer sinners from the borders of hell to the life of heaven. Such cases encourage us to carry the Gospel to the rudest and most barbarous tribes, even under the most unpromising circumstances. Even the man who contemplates suicide, and whose sword is already at his breast, may yet be saved. (Ap. Past.).

Acts 16:28. But Paul cried with a loud voice, etc.—The jailer, in his fright, and in the darkness of the night, cannot see Paul, but the latter sees him, and rescues him from his great danger. While the sinner sits, as a captive, in the deepest night of sin and fear, the eyes of Jesus, who is gracious and merciful, are fixed upon him. (Ap. Past.).—Do thyself no harm, for we are all here.—The command and will of God bind His people more firmly than iron chains and oaken stocks.—“We are all here”—a consolatory assurance given by the messengers of the Gospel to men in despair. Not only Paul and Silas utter the words, but Peter and John, with all the apostles and prophets, unite with them in saying: “We are all here,” I. With the witness of the word; II. With the example furnished by our walk; III. With the interceding prayers of our love.

Acts 16:29. And came trembling.—He did not tremble for his office, his character, or his life, since the danger had passed away, and all the prisoners were there; he trembled in the anguish of his soul, as an awakened sinner standing in the presence of an unknown God.—Fell down before Paul and Silas.—The jailer on his knees before his prisoners—what a wonderful change! It impressively attests the majesty of the true servants of God, and the insignificance of merely secular authorities.

Acts 16:30. And said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?—We are told in Acts 16:27, that “he called for a light”, in order to look for the prisoners. He now calls for the true light, in order to go forth out of his own prison.—The heart of the jailer seems to repeat, and, indeed, to his own great advantage, the words: “Come over, and help us.” When we meet with such an awakened conscience, we can accomplish a great work with a few words; but it is often long before the question is seriously asked: “What must I do to be saved?” (Rieger).

Acts 16:31. And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, etc.—The apostate emperor, Julian, said in mockery to the Christians: “Faith !—This is the whole of your wisdom!” Let us abide by this wisdom. (Besser).—The most important question, and the most important answer, (Lisco).—Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shall be saved, and thy house ! For, with this faith, thou receivest, I. A divine family friend; II. A holy family discipline; III. Undisturbed family peace; IV. A secure family position; V. An infallible family remedy; VI. A heavenly family portion (a wedding sermon).

Acts 16:32. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, etc.—The apostles not only promised salvation to him and his house, but also brought it to them through the preaching of the Gospel. (Williger).

Acts 16:33. And washed their stripes.—When faith enters into the heart, it transforms the individual; the stern jailer is converted into a kind physician, and host. (Starke).—And was baptized, he and all his.—He first removed their bodily uncleanness—the blood which had flowed from their wounds; he could no longer endure the sight of those evidences of the cruel treatment which these servants of God had received; he now asked that he and “all his” might, through them, be cleansed in baptism, and be freed from spiritual uncleanness. (Williger).—The jailer has now become himself a prisoner—a prisoner of Jesus Christ; but these are blessed bonds!

Acts 16:34. He set meat before them, and rejoiced, etc.—This was a genuine marriage feast, in the joy of which the whole family shared. (Bogatzky).—All these details enable us to discern in the jailer, after he had become a believer, the cheerful spirit of Martha, which appropriately reveals itself only when it succeeds the thoughtful silence of Mary, and when the one thing needful is secured. (Williger).—In Philippi, a business-place (Lydia’s house), and then a prison, were the first missionary stations; two families in that city furnished the church with a home. It was necessary that, in the pagan world, the Christian family should become the nursery of congregational life, each household a congregation on a small, and each congregation a family, on a large, scale. (Besser).

(——On Acts 16:25-34.). The conversion of the jailer at Philippi: I. The preparatory circumstances: (a) externally, the earthquake; (b) internally, the alternation of opposite emotions—anguish and despair, peace and joy. II. The means through which it was accomplished: (a) the question, which referred to the way of salvation; (b) the answer, which proclaimed salvation. III. The results: (a) active gratitude towards the apostles; (b) a blessing permanently abiding on the man and his house. (From Lisco).—The miracle of the night of imprisonment (a homily). I. The prayer, Acts 16:25. It is night; all are buried in sleep. A gloomy edifice; an abode of darkness—a prison. But in one of the cells a light, an internal light—the light of faith. Hence, prayer and praise. II. The convulsion, Acts 16:26-28. The earthquake—it convulsed not only the prison-walls, but also the heart of the keeper of the prison. At first, indeed, an agony even unto despair. But eternal love watches and rules. The comforting assurance: “We are all here.” Hope revives; still, the jailer desires to obtain ocular proof, Acts 16:29. III. The great question, Acts 16:30-32. It proceeded from causes that are partially apparent: the praying apostles opened an indistinct view of a higher power; perhaps, too, earlier experiences in his gloomy calling, recurred to his mind. The convulsion brought the slumbering seed to maturity.—The apostles had not fled; how secure and happy they must be! What must I do to be in the same state? The great and vital question receives a great and vital answer. There can be but one answer: “Without Christ, none are saved; through Him, all can be saved—thou, and thy house”. IV. The first love [Revelation 2:4], Acts 16:33-34. What is it? The effort to return that which has been received—to do good to Christ in the person of His servants, the brethren. His heart cannot contain such blessedness—it is a fire enkindled in the house, which reaches all the members of the family. (From Lisco).—The light of the grace of the Lord, arising in the middle of the night: I. Over His friends, (Paul and Silas); II. Over His enemies (the jailer and his house).—The miracles of grace wrought in the prison at Philippi: I. The Lord releases those that are bound: (a) internally free—they pray and sing; b) externally free—the bands are loosed, the doors are opened. II. He binds those that are free: (a) the fetters of agony and fear—the terror and trembling of the jailor; (b) the bands of faith and love [Hosea 11:4]—his conversion and joy.—The purposes to which the Lord can apply a prison; He can convert it into, I. A peaceful chapel of prayer, Acts 16:25; II. An alarming place of judgment, Acts 16:26-29; III. A useful school of repentance and faith, Acts 16:30-31; IV. A hospitable house of Christian love and mercy, Acts 16:32-33; V. A blessed birth-place of the new life, Acts 16:34. (Sermon for a House of correction and a prison).

Acts 16:35. And when it was day, etc.—The apostles had hot spoken in defence of themselves before the magistrates, but the Lord had awakened the conscience of the latter. When His servants suffer and are silent, He defends their cause. (Ap. Past.).—Let those men go.—Such words, which Jesus said to his enemies near the mount of Olives, are now our security: “If ye seek me, lot these go their way” [John 18:8]. For now the world, death and the devil, the judgment and hell, are compelled by the power of Jesus to let his children and servants go. (Ap. Past.).—The unexpected command to dismiss Paul, was, in truth, an act of the tender mercy of God, performed in behalf of the jailer, who was only a beginner in the faith. It would have been a severe trial for him, if ha had received a command to subject these servants of Jesus to additional torments. It was, therefore, with sincere joy that he proclaimed their innocence and release. We should always treat young persons and beginners with gentleness and indulgence, until they have acquired strength. (Ap. Past.).

Acts 16:36. Now therefore depart, and go in peace.—The jailer was already surprised that the magistrates should voluntarily issue such a command; but a still deeper humiliation awaited them. There are times coming when arrogant sinners will address their prayers for pardon, not only to the Lord, but also to his servants; for the saints will be their judges (1 Corinthians 6:2). (Williger).

Acts 16:31. But Paul said unto them, etc.—It is at times both wise and kind, to address, in somewhat bold terms, those who can be restrained from doing evil by nothing but by fear. (Quesnel).—We ought not to yield to malicious men in a single point, not, however, from revengeful motives, but in order that their shame may be revealed, to the honor of the name of Christ; otherwise, they will become still more presumptuous (1 Kings 18:17-18). (Starke).—The world would gladly consign its past acts of injustice to oblivion, but should not always be permitted to adopt this course. The Holy Spirit teaches us that we should not be humble at an improper time, but regulate our conduct in such a manner, that it may conform to the guidance of God. It is necessary that those who are invested with civil offices, should see, at least to some extent, that the course of the Gospel is guided by a higher hand. (Rieger).—Being Romans.—“Our citizenship [πολίτευμα, Philippians 3:20; ‘conversation’, i.e., walk, etc. Engl. Version.—Tr.] is in heaven.” Paul well knew that this privilege was of more value than that of his Roman citizenship. Comp. Philippians 3:8. (Starke).

Acts 16:38. And they feared, etc.—The magistrates were alarmed when they heard that the prisoners were Romans; they did not bestow a thought, on the ill-treatment which Christians had received from them. Thus God at times attaches some badge to the pilgrim’s garb of his children, which may not indeed win the sincere love of others, but which at least avails to prevent further acts of violence. (Rieger).

Acts 16:39. Desired them to depart out of the city.—When unchristian rulers perceive that the Gospel has made a deep impression, they no doubt wish that Christ and his word could be restricted to India or Turkey, so that their repose might not be disturbed. Compare the conduct of the Gergesenes, Matthew 8:34. (Starke).

Acts 16:40. When they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.—Such a departure of these faithful witnesses of Jesus, was honorable to them. They had accomplished the work that had been assigned to them; they had gathered brethren together; they comfort them; and now they depart. God grant that when we leave the world, we also may receive such a testimony from God. (Ap. Past.).

(——On Acts 16:35-40). The unexpected issue: I. The sudden release; II. The bold protest; III. The honorable apology; II. The peaceful departure. (From Lisco.).—The honorable departure of the messengers of God from Philippi: I. The power of the Lord is revealed; II. The shame of his servants is effaced; III. Proud enemies are humbled; IV. Faithful friends are gained.—Under what circumstances may a Christian defend the honor of his name, and insist on his rights ? I. When he is influenced, not by insults offered to his self-love, but by his sense of justice, and his zeal for the honor of God. II. When he does not depend on his own resources, but appeals to justice and to truth; III. When it is his object, not to crush, but to convince and reform the offender.

Acts 16:36. “Go in peace”—the noblest words of farewell which could be addressed to the servants of God: I. By their friends, to whom they had brought salvation and peace (the jailer); II. By their enemies, who could not touch God’s anointed (the magistrates); III. By the Lord, who gives them the testimony: “They have done what they could.” Mark 14:8.—[The conversion of the Philippian jailer: I. The circumstances under which it occurred; (a) the providential visit of the apostles to Philippi; (b) the jailer’s personal knowledge of their doctrine (apparent from ver 31, and acquired, when the divining spirit was expelled, Acts 16:17-18—when they endured the scourging with constancy—when they addressed him, as he fastened their feet in the stocks—never before, such prisoners); (c) the miraculous earthquake, and its immediate effects. II. Its genuineness, proved (a) from the peculiar power of Gospel truth (Romans 1:16; James 1:18; it had already impressed him); (b) from the divine attestation which, as he felt, the preaching of Paul received (the earthquake—to us, e. g., the spread of the Gospel, etc.); (c) from the subsequent course of the apostles (as in Lydia’s case, Acts 16:15; they would not have baptized him, if they had not “judged” that he was a believer). III. Lessons: (a) the solemn duties which the gifts of divine grace impose on us (reflection, self-examination, repentance, faith); (b) the adaptation of the Gospel to the spiritual wants of all men (Jews, Gentiles—the high and the low); (c) the practical value of the doctrine of faith in Christ.—Tr.]


Acts 16:10; Acts 16:10. ὁ κύριος [of text. rec.], the reading found in Cod. D. G. H., in several oriental versions, fathers, etc., is preferable to ὁ θεός, as the latter could have easily been substituted for the former. [ὁ θεος is adopted by Lach. and Tisch., from A. B. C. E. Cod. Sin., Vulg., fathers; Alf. retains κύριος, and regards θεός as a gloss.—Tr.]

Acts 16:12; Acts 16:12. [For chief, the margin offers first, the latter being a literal version of the original. See below, Exeg, note on Acts 16:11—Tr.]

Acts 16:13; Acts 16:13. a. [The margin furnishes the following: “Sabbath: Gr. sabbath-day” (Geneva); the latter is a fuller or more literal rendering of the original (ἡμέρᾳ τῶν σαββάτων), than the one which the translators inserted in the text.—Tr.]

[9] Acts 16:13. b. The text. rec. has πόλεως [from E. G. H.] but the reading πύλης is better attested [by A. B. C. D., Cod. Sin., Vulg., etc., and is adopted by Lach., Tisch., Born., and Alf.—Meyer, on the contrary says: “τ. πύλης is a gloss, which was subsequently inserted in the text in place of τ.πόλεως”—Tr.]

[In the same verse, in place of ἐνομίζετο, Lach. inserts ἐνομίζομεν, from A (corrected). B. C. The accusative, προςευχήν, (also adopted by Lach.), occurs in A (corrected), and C, but not in B. The Vulg. (ubi videbatur oratio esse,) accords with D., which reads ἐδόκει προςευχή, (adopted by Born.). Meyer regards these variations as proceeding from a misunderstanding of the original text.—Cod. Sin., stands alone; it reads ἐνομίζεν προςευχήν—Tr.]

Acts 16:16; Acts 16:16. [The margin furnishes the following: “of divination; or, of Python.”—Tr.]. The text. rec. reads πύθωνος, in accordance with several MSS. [D. E. G. H], while the oldest MSS. [A. B. C.; Cod. Sin.; also Vulg.] exhibit the accusative πύθωνα, which those copyists [who substituted the Gen.] do not appear to have understood. [The accusative is preferred by Lach., Tisch., and Alf.—“In N. T. Acts 16:16, ἔχ. πν. IIύθωνος, having a spirit of Python, i. e., a soothsaying demon.” (Rob. Lex. ad verb.). So also Wahl. See below, Exeg. note on Acts 16:16.—(Wiclif, Geneva: of divination; Rheims: a Pythonical spirit.—Tr.]

Acts 16:17; Acts 16:17. [ὑμῖν is adopted by Lach., Tisch., and Born, from B. D. E. also, Cod. Sin., Vulg., etc., while Alford, in accordance with Meyer’s opinion, reads ἡμῖν, as found in A. C (corrected), G. H., fathers, etc.—Tr.]

Acts 16:19; Acts 16:19. [The margin exhibits the following: “market-place; or, court.”—“̓Aγορά—in N. T., a place, market-place, forum, etc.” (Rob. Lex. N. T.). In the eleven passages in which the word occurs in the N. T., it is, with a single excepception (Mark 6:56, “street”) translated market or market-place, i. e., a place of public resort.—(Tynd. Cranm., Geneva, Rheims: market-place—Tr.]

Acts 16:31; Acts 16:31. The text. rec. inserts Xριστόν, in accordance with most of the MSS. [C. D. E. G. H.]; nevertheless, the word should be cancelled as spurious, according to A. B. [also Cod. Sin., Vulg.], and this has been done by Lach., and Tisch. [and Alf.].

Acts 16:32; Acts 16:32. σύν is supported by decidedly the greater weight of authority [A. B. C. D.; also Cod. Sin., Vulg.], and should be regarded as genuine; καί was substituted for it as a more simple reading, [σύν, by Lach., Tisch., Born., and Alf,—καί, in text. rec., occurs in E. G. II.—Tr.]

Acts 16:34; Acts 16:34. The imperfect, ἠγαλλιᾶτο [adopted by Tisch. and Alf.] appears to have been the original reading, in Cod. C. and occurs also in Cod. Cantabrigiensis [D.], as well as in the writings of Chrysostom, Oecumenius, and Theophylact; it should, hence, be preferred to the aorist ἠγαλλιάσατο. [The aorist, however, of text. rec. is found in A. B. C (first correction,). E. G. H., Cod. Sin., and is adopted by Lachmann.—Tr.]

Acts 16:40; Acts 16:40. [For εἰς τὴν Λυδίαν, of text. rec., (found only in a few minuscules), recent editors substitute πρὸς τ. Λ A. in accordance with A. B. D. E. G. H. Cod. Sin.; Vulg. (ad.) See Winer, Gram. § 49. a.—Tr.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Acts 16". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/acts-16.html. 1857-84.
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