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Bible Commentaries
Acts 16

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New TestamentRobertson's Word Pictures

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Verse 1

And he came also to Derbe and Lystra (κατηντησεν δε κα εις Δερβην κα εις Λυστραν). First aorist active of κατανταω, late verb to come down to, to arrive at. He struck Derbe first of the places in the first tour which was the last city reached then.

Timothy (Τιμοθεος). Apparently a native of Lystra ("there," εκε), his Hebrew mother named Eunice and grandmother Lois (2 Timothy 1:5) and his Greek father's name not known. He may have been a proselyte, but not necessarily so as Timothy was taught the Scriptures by his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 3:15), and, if a proselyte, he would have had Timothy circumcised. It is idle to ask if Paul came on purpose to get Timothy to take Mark's place. Probably Timothy was about eighteen years of age, a convert of Paul's former visit a few years before (1 Timothy 1:2) and still young twelve years later (1 Timothy 4:12). Paul loved him devotedly (1 Timothy 1:3; 1 Timothy 5:23; 2 Timothy 3:15; Philippians 2:19). It is a glorious discovery to find a real young preacher for Christ's work.

Verse 2

Was well reported of (εμαρτυρειτο). Imperfect passive. It was a continuous witness that was borne the young disciple both in his home town of Lystra and in Derbe. Already he had so borne himself that his gifts and graces for the ministry were recognized. It is a wise precaution that the approval of the local church is necessary for the licensing and the ordaining of a preacher. If God has called a man for the work signs of it will be manifest to others.

Verse 3

Him would Paul have to go forth with him (τουτον ηθελησεν ο Παυλος συν αυτω εξελθειν). This one (note emphatic position) Paul wanted (first aorist active indicative of θελω with temporal augment as if from εθελω the old form). Here was a gifted young man who was both Jew and Greek.

He took and circumcised him (λαβων περιετεμεν αυτον). Any one could perform this rite. Paul had stoutly resisted circumcision in the case of Titus, a pure Greek (Galatians 2:3; Galatians 2:5), because the whole principle of Gentile liberty was at stake. But Timothy was both Jew and Greek and would continually give offence to the Jews with no advantage to the cause of Gentile freedom. So here for the sake of expediency, "because of the Jews" (δια τους Ιουδαιους), Paul voluntarily removed this stumbling-block to the ministry of Timothy. Otherwise Timothy could not have been allowed to preach ln the synagogues. Idem non est semper idem. But Timothy's case was not the case of Titus. Here it was a question of efficient service, not an essential of salvation. Hovey notes that Timothy was circumcised because of Jewish unbelievers, not because of Jewish believers.

Was a Greek (Hελλην υπηρχεν). Imperfect active in indirect assertion where ordinarily the present υπαρχε would be retained, possibly indicating that his father was no longer living.

Verse 4

They delivered them (παρεδιδοσαν αυτοις). Imperfect active, kept on delivering to them in city after city. This is a proof of Paul's loyalty to the Jerusalem compact (Knowling). The circumcision of Timothy would indicate also that the points involved were under discussion and that Paul felt no inconsistency in what he did.

The decrees (τα δογματα). Old word from δοκεω, to give an opinion. It is used of public decrees of rulers (Luke 2:1; Acts 17:7), of the requirements of the Mosaic law (Colossians 2:14), and here of the regulations or conclusions of the Jerusalem Conference. Silas was with Paul and his presence gave added dignity to the passing out of the decrees, a charter of Gentile freedom, since he was one of the committee from Jerusalem to Antioch (Acts 15:22; Acts 15:27; Acts 15:32).

Which had been ordained (τα κεκριμενα). Perfect passive articular participle of κρινω, to judge, emphasizing the permanence of the conclusions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem.

For to keep (φυλασσειν). This present active infinitive likewise accents that it is a charter of liberty for continual living, not a temporary compromise.

Verse 5

Were strengthened (εστερεουντο). Imperfect passive of στερεοω, old verb to make firm and solid like the muscles (Acts 3:7; Acts 3:16), these three the only examples in the N.T.

Increased (επερισσευον). Imperfect active of the old and common verb περισσευω from περισσος (overplus). The blessing of God was on the work of Paul, Silas, and Timothy in the form of a continuous revival.

Verse 6

The region of Phrygia and Galatia (την Φρυγιαν κα Γαλατικην χωραν). This is probably the correct text with one article and apparently describes one "Region" or District in The Province of Galatia which was also Phrygian (the old-ethnographic name with which compare the use of Lycaonia in Acts 14:6). Strictly speaking Derbe and Lystra, though in the Province of Galatia, were not Phrygian, and so Luke would here be not resumptive of the record in verses Acts 16:1-5; but a reference to the country around Iconium and Antioch in Pisidia in North Galatia is not included. This verse is hotly disputed at every point by the advocates of the North Galatian theory as represented by Chase and the South Galatian theory by Ramsay. Whatever is true in regard to the language of Luke here and in Acts 18:23, it is still possible for Paul in Galatians 1:2 to use the term Galatia of the whole province of that name which could, in fact, apply to either South or North Galatia or to both. He could, of course, use it also in the ethnographic sense of the real Gauls or Celts who dwelt in North Galatia. Certainly the first tour of Paul and Barnabas was in the Province of Galatia though touching only the Regions of Pisidia, Phrygia, and Lycaonia, which province included besides the Gauls to the north. In this second tour Lycaonia has been already touched (Derbe and Lystra) and now Phrygia. The question arises why Luke here and in Acts 18:23 adds the term "of Galatia" (Γαλατικην) though not in Acts 13:14 (Pisidian Antioch) nor in Acts 14:6 (cities of Lycaonia). Does Luke mean to use "of Galatia" in the same ethnographic sense as "of Phrygia" or does he here add the province (Galatia) to the name of the Region (Phrygia)? In itself either view is possible and it really matters very little except that the question is raised whether Paul went into the North Galatian Region on this occasion or later (Acts 18:23). He could have done so and the Epistle be addressed to the churches of South Galatia, North Galatia, or the province as a whole. But the Greek participle κωλυθεντες ("having been forbidden") plays a part in the argument that cannot be overlooked whether Luke means to say that Paul went north or not. This aorist passive participle of κωλυω, to hinder, can only express simultaneous or antecedent action, not subsequent action as Ramsay argues. No example of the so-called subsequent use of the aorist participle has ever been found in Greek as all Greek grammarians agree (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 860-63, 1112-14). The only natural meaning of κωλυθεντες is that Paul with Silas and Timothy "passed through the region of Phrygia and Galatia" because they were hindered by the Holy Spirit from speaking the word in Asia (the Province of Asia of which Ephesus was the chief city and west of Derbe and Lystra). This construction implies that the country called "the region of Phrygia and Galatia" is not in the direct line west toward Ephesus. What follows in verse Acts 16:7 throws further light on the point.

Verse 7

Over against Mysia (κατα την Μυσιαν). This was an ill-defined region rather north and west of Phrygia. The Romans finally absorbed most of it in the Province of Asia.

They assayed to go into Bithynia (επειραζον εις την Βιθυνιαν πορευθηνα). Conative imperfect of πειραζω and ingressive aorist passive infinitive of πορευομα. Now Bithynia is northeast of Mysia and north of Galatia (province). Clearly Luke means to say that Paul had, when hindered by the Holy Spirit from going west into Asia, gone north so as to come in front of Bithynia. This journey would take him directly through Phrygia and the North Galatian country (the real Gauls or Celts). This is, to my mind, the strongest argument for the North Galatian view in these verses Acts 16:6; Acts 16:7. The grammar and the topography bring Paul right up to Bithynia (north of the old Galatia). It is verses Acts 16:6; Acts 16:7 that make me pause before accepting the plausible arguments of Ramsay for the South Galatian theory. In itself the problem is nothing like so important or so determinative as he makes it. But shall we smash Luke's grammar to pieces to bolster up a theory of criticism?

And the Spirit of Jesus suffered them not (κα ουκ ειασεν αυτους το πνευμα Ιησου). The same Spirit who in verse Acts 16:6 had forbidden going into Asia now closed the door into Bithynia. This expression occurs nowhere else, but we have the spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9) and the Spirit of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:19). Ειασεν is first aorist active indicative of εαω, old verb to allow.

Verse 8

Passing by Mysia (παρελθοντες την Μυσιαν). Literally, passing alongside or skirting Mysia, neglecting it without preaching there. Strictly they passed through part of it to reach Troas.

To Troas (εις Τροιαδα). This city, named Alexandria Troas after Alexander the Great, was the seaport of Mysia, though a Roman colony and not counted as part of either Asia or Bithynia. New Ilium, on the site of the old Troy, was four miles farther north. It was the place to take ship for Philippi. Twice again Paul will be here (2 Corinthians 2:12; Acts 20:6).

Verse 9

A vision (οραμα). Old word, eleven times in Acts, once in Matthew 17:9. Twice Paul had been hindered by the Holy Spirit from going where he wanted to go. Most men would have gone back home with such rebuffs, but not so Paul. Now the call is positive and not negative, to go "far hence to the Gentiles" (Acts 22:21). He had little dreamed of such a call when he left Antioch. Paul's frequent visions always came at real crises in his life.

A man of Macedonia (ανηρ Μακεδων). Ramsay follows Renan in the view that this was Luke with whom Paul had conversed about conditions in Macedonia. Verse Acts 16:10 makes it plain that Luke was now in the party, but when he joined them we do not know. Some hold that Luke lived at Antioch in Syria and came on with Paul and Silas, others that he joined them later in Galatia, others that he appeared now either as Paul's physician or new convert. Ramsay thinks that Philippi was his home at this time. But, whatever is true about Luke, the narrative must not be robbed of its supernatural aspect (Acts 10:10; Acts 22:17).

Was standing (ην εστως). Second perfect active participle of ιστημ, intransitive, periphrastic imperfect. Vivid picture.

Help us (βοηθησον ημιν). Ingressive first aorist active imperative of βοηθεω (βοη, θεω), to run at a cry, to help. The man uses the plural for all including himself. It was the cry of Europe for Christ.

Verse 10

We sought (εζητησαμεν). This sudden use of the plural, dropped in Acts 17:1 when Paul leaves Philippi, and resumed in Acts 20:5 when Paul rejoins Luke in Philippi, argues conclusively that Luke, the author, is in the party ("we" portions of Acts) and shows in a writer of such literary skill as Luke that he is not copying a document in a blundering sort of way. Paul told his vision to the party and they were all ready to respond to the call.

Concluding (συνβιβαζοντες). A very striking word, present active participle of συνβιβαζω, old verb to make go together, to coalesce or knit together, to make this and that agree and so to conclude. Already in Acts 9:22 of Paul's preaching. This word here gives a good illustration of the proper use of the reason in connection with revelation, to decide whether it is a revelation from God, to find out what it means for us, and to see that we obey the revelation when understood. God had called them to preach to the Macedonians. They had to go.

Verse 11

Setting sail (αναχθεντες). Same word in Acts 13:13 which see.

We made a straight course (ευθυδρομησαμεν). First aorist active indicative of compound verb ευθυδρομεω (in Philo) from adjective ευθυδρομος (in Strabo), running a straight course (ευθυσ, δρομος). In the N.T. only here and Acts 21:1. It is a nautical term for sailing before the wind. Luke has a true feeling for the sea.

To Samothrace (εις Σαμοθραικην). A small island in the Aegean about halfway between Troas and Neapolis.

The day following (τη επιουση). Locative case of time with ημερα (day) to be supplied (Acts 7:26; Acts 20:15; Acts 21:18; Acts 23:11). With adverse winds it took five days to make the run of 125 miles (Acts 20:6).

To Neapolis (εις Νεαν Πολιν). To New Town (Newton, Naples, Neapolis). The port of Philippi ten miles distant, Thracian, but reckoned as Macedonian after Vespasian.

Verse 12

To Philippi (εις Φιλιππους). The plural like Αθηνα (Athens) is probably due to separate sections of the city united (Winer-Moulton, Grammar, p. 220). The city (ancient name Krenides or Wells) was renamed after himself by Philip, the father of Alexander the Great. It was situated about a mile east of the small stream Gangites which flows into the river Strymon some thirty miles away. In this valley the Battle of Philippi was fought B.C. 42 between the Second Triumvirate (Octavius, Antonius, Lepidus) and Brutus and Cassius. In memory of the victory Octavius made it a colony (κολωνια) with all the privileges of Roman citizenship, such as freedom from scourging, freedom from arrest save in extreme cases, and the right of appeal to the emperor. This Latin word occurs here alone in the N.T. Octavius planted here a colony of Roman veterans with farms attached, a military outpost and a miniature of Rome itself. The language was Latin. Here Paul is face to face with the Roman power and empire in a new sense. He was a new Alexander, come from Asia to conquer Europe for Christ, a new Caesar to build the Kingdom of Christ on the work of Alexander and Caesar. One need not think that Paul was conscious of all that was involved in destiny for the world. Philippi was on the Egnatian Way, one of the great Roman roads, that ran from here to Dyrrachium on the shores of the Adriatic, a road that linked the east with the west.

The first of the district (πρωτη της μεριδος). Philippi was not the first city of Macedonia nor does Luke say so. That honour belonged to Thessalonica and even Amphipolis was larger than Philippi. It is not clear whether by μερις Luke means a formal division of the province, though the Koine has examples of this geographical sense (papyri). There is no article with πρωτη and Luke may not mean to stress unduly the position of Philippi in comparison with Amphipolis. But it was certainly a leading city of this district of Macedonia.

We were tarrying (ημεν διατριβοντες). Periphrastic imperfect active.

Verse 13

By a river side (παρα ποταμον). The little river Gangites (or Gargites) was one mile west of the town. Philippi as a military outpost had few Jews. There was evidently no synagogue inside the city, but "without the gates" (εξω της πυλης) they had noticed an enclosure "where we supposed" (ου ενομιζομεν, correct text, imperfect active), probably as they came into the city, "was a place of prayer" (προσχυχην εινα). Infinitive with accusative of general reference in indirect discourse. Προσευχη is common in the LXX and the N.T. for the act of prayer as in Acts 2:42 then for a place of prayer either a synagogue (III Macc. 7:20) or more often an open air enclosure near the sea or a river where there was water for ceremonial ablutions. The word occurs also in heathen writers for a place of prayer (Schurer, Jewish People, Div. II, Vol. II, p. 69, Engl. Tr.). Deissmann (Bible Studies, p. 222) quotes an Egyptian inscription of the third century B.C. with this sense of the word and one from Panticapaeum on the Black Sea of the first century A.D. (Light from the Ancient East, p. 102). Juvenal (III. 296) has a sneering reference to the Jewish προσευχα. Josephus (Ant. XIV. 10, 23) quotes a decree of Halicarnassus which allowed the Jews "to make their prayers (προσευχας) on the seashore according to the custom of their fathers." There was a synagogue in Thessalonica, but apparently none in Amphipolis and Apollonia (Acts 17:1). The rule of the rabbis required ten men to constitute a synagogue, but here were gathered only a group of women at the hour of prayer. In pioneer days in this country it was a common thing to preach under bush arbours in the open air. John Wesley and George Whitfield were great open air preachers. Paul did not have an inspiring beginning for his work in Europe, but he took hold where he could. The conjecture was correct. It was a place of prayer, but only a bunch of women had come together (ταις συνελθουσαις γυναιξιν), excuse enough for not preaching to some preachers, but not to Paul and his party. The "man of Macedonia" turned out to be a group of women (Furneaux). Macedonian inscriptions show greater freedom for women in Macedonia than elsewhere at this time and confirm Luke's story of the activities of women in Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea.

We sat down and spake (καθισαντες ελαλουμεν). Having taken our seats (aorist active participle of καθιζω) we began to speak or preach (inchoative imperfect of λαλεω, often used for preaching). Sitting was the Jewish attitude for public speaking. It was not mere conversation, but more likely conversational preaching of an historical and expository character. Luke's use of the first person plural implies that each of the four (Paul, Silas, Timothy, Luke) preached in turn, with Paul as chief speaker.

Verse 14

Lydia (Λυδια). Her birthplace was Thyatira in Lydia. She may have been named after the land, though Lydia is a common female name (see Horace). Lydia was itself a Macedonian colony (Strabo, XIII. 4). Thyatira (note plural form like Philippi and one of the seven churches of Asia here Revelation 2:18) was famous for its purple dyes as old as Homer (Iliad, IV. 141) and had a guild of dyers (ο βαφεις) as inscriptions show.

A seller of purple (πορφυροπωλις). A female seller of purple fabrics (πορφυρα, πωλις). Late word, masculine form in an inscription. There was a great demand for this fabric as it was used on the official toga at Rome and in Roman colonies. We still use the term "royal purple." See on Luke 16:19. Evidently Lydia was a woman of some means to carry on such an important enterprise from her native city. She may have been a freed-woman, since racial names were often borne by slaves.

One that worshipped God (σεβομενη τον θεον). A God-fearer or proselyte of the gate. There was a Jewish settlement in Thyatira which was especially interested in the dyeing industry. She probably became a proselyte there. Whether this was true of the other women we do not know. They may have been Jewesses or proselytes like Lydia, probably all of them employees of hers in her business. When Paul writes to the Philippians he does not mention Lydia who may have died meanwhile and who certainly was not Paul's wife. She was wealthy and probably a widow.

Heard us (ηκουεν). Imperfect active of ακουω, was listening, really listening and she kept it up, listening to each of these new and strange preachers.

Opened (διηνοιξεν). First aorist active indicative of διανοιγω, old word, double compound (δια, ανα, οιγω) to open up wide or completely like a folding door (both sides, δια, two). Only the Lord could do that. Jesus had opened (the same verb) the mind of the disciples to understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:45).

To give heed (προσεχειν). To hold the mind (τον νουν understood), present active infinitive. She kept her mind centred on the things spoken by Paul whose words gripped her attention. She rightly perceived that Paul was the foremost one of the group. He had personal magnetism and power of intellect that the Spirit of God used to win the heart of this remarkable woman to Christ. It was worth coming to Philippi to win this fine personality to the Kingdom of God. She will be the chief spirit in this church that will give Paul more joy and co-operation than any of his churches. It is not stated that she was converted on the first Sabbath, though this may have been the case. "One solitary convert, a woman, and she already a seeker after God, and a native of that very Asia where they had been forbidden to preach" (Furneaux). But a new era had dawned for Europe and for women in the conversion of Lydia.

Verse 15

And when she was baptized (ως δε εβαπτισθη). First aorist passive indicative of βαπτιζω. The river Gangites was handy for the ordinance and she had now been converted and was ready to make this public declaration of her faith in Jesus Christ.

And her household (κα ο οικος αυτης). Who constituted her "household"? The term οικος, originally means the building as below, "into my house" and then it includes the inmates of a house. There is nothing here to show whether Lydia's "household" went beyond "the women" employed by her who like her had heard the preaching of Paul and had believed. "Possibly Euodia and Syntyche and the other women, Philippians 4:2; Philippians 4:3, may have been included in the family of Lydia, who may have employed many slaves and freed women in her trade" (Knowling). "This statement cannot be claimed as any argument for infant baptism, since the Greek word may mean her servants or her work-people" (Furneaux). In the household baptisms (Cornelius, Lydia, the jailor, Crispus) one sees "infants" or not according to his predilections or preferences.

If ye have judged me (ε κεκρικατε με). Condition of the first class, assumed to be true (ε and the indicative, here perfect active of κρινω). She had confessed her faith and submitted to baptism as proof that she was "faithful to the Lord" (πιστην τω κυριω), believing on the Lord. "If she was fit for that, surely she was fit to be their hostess" (Furneaux). And Paul and his party had clearly no comfortable place to stay while in Philippi. The ancient hotels or inns were abominable. Evidently Paul demurred for there were four of them and he did not wish to sacrifice his independence or be a burden even to a woman of wealth.

And she constrained us (κα παρεβιασατο ημας). Effective first aorist middle of παραβιαζομα, late word, in the N.T. only here and Luke 24:29. Some moral force (βια) or hospitable persuasion was required (cf. 1 Samuel 28:23), but Lydia had her way as women usually do. So he accepted Lydia's hospitality in Philippi, though he worked for his own living in Thessalonica (2 Thessalonians 3:8) and elsewhere (2 Corinthians 11:9). So far only women have been won to Christ in Philippi. The use of "us" shows that Luke was not a householder in Philippi.

Verse 16

A spirit of divination (πνευμα πυθωνα). So the correct text with accusative (apparition, a spirit, a python), not the genitive (πυθωνος). Hesychius defines it as δαιμονιον μανικον (a spirit of divination). The etymology of the word is unknown. Bengel suggests πυθεσθα from πυνθανομα, to inquire. Python was the name given to the serpent that kept guard at Delphi, slain by Apollo, who was called Πυθιος Απολλο and the prophetess at Delphi was termed Pythia. Certainly Luke does not mean to credit Apollo with a real existence (1 Corinthians 8:4). But Plutarch (A.D. 50-100) says that the term πυθωνες was applied to ventriloquists (εγγαστριμυθο). In the LXX those with familiar spirits are called by this word ventriloquists (Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:6; Leviticus 20:27, including the witch of Endor 1 Samuel 28:7). It is possible that this slave girl had this gift of prophecy "by soothsaying" (μαντευομενη). Present middle participle of μαντευομα, old heathen word (in contrast with προφητευω) for acting the seer (μαντις) and this kin to μαινομα, to be mad, like the howling dervishes of later times. This is the so-called instrumental use of the circumstantial participles.

Brought (παρειχεν). Imperfect active of παρεχω, a steady source of income.

Much gain (εργασιαν πολλην). Work, business, from εργαζομα, to work.

Her masters (τοις κυριοις αυτης). Dative case. Joint owners of this poor slave girl who were exploiting her calamity, whatever it was, for selfish gain, just as men and women today exploit girls and women in the "white slave" trade. As a fortune-teller she was a valuable asset for all the credulous dupes of the community. Simon Magus in Samaria and Elymas Barjesus in Cyprus had won power and wealth as soothsayers.

Verse 17

The Most High God (του θεου του υψιστου). Pagan inscriptions use this language for the Supreme Being. It looks like supernatural testimony like that borne by the demoniacs to Jesus as "son of the Most High God" (Luke 8:28. Cf; also Mark 1:24; Mark 3:11; Matthew 8:29; Luke 4:41, etc.). She may have heard Paul preach about Jesus as the way of salvation.

The way of salvation (οδον σωτηριας). A way of salvation, strictly speaking (no article). There were many "ways of salvation" offered to men then as now.

Verse 18

She did (εποιε). Imperfect active, kept it up for many days. The strange conduct gave Paul and the rest an unpleasant prominence in the community.

Being sore troubled (διαπονηθεις). First aorist passive of διαπονεω, old verb, to work laboriously, then in passive to be "worked up," displeased, worn out. In the N.T. only here and Acts 4:2 which see (there of the Sadducees about Peter's preaching). Paul was grieved, annoyed, indignant. He wanted no testimony from a source like this any more than he did the homage of the people of Lystra (Acts 14:14).

That very hour (αυτη τη ωρα). Locative case of time and familiar Lukan idiom in his Gospel, "at the hour itself." The cure was instantaneous. Paul, like Jesus, distinguished between the demon and the individual.

Verse 19

Was gone (εξηλθεν). Was gone out of the slave girl, second aorist active indicative of εξερχομα. "The two most important social revolutions worked by Christianity have been the elevation of woman and the abolition of slavery" (Furneaux). Both are illustrated here (Lydia and this slave girl). "The most sensitive part of 'civilized' man is the pocket" (Ramsay).

Laid hold on (επιλαβομενο). Second aorist middle participle of επιλαμβανω as in Acts 9:27; Acts 17:19, but here with hostile intent.

Dragged (ειλκυσαν). First aorist active indicative of ελκυω, late form of the old verb ελκω (also in James 2:6) to draw as a sword, and then to drag one forcibly as here and Acts 21:30. It is also used of spiritual drawing as by Jesus in John 12:32. Here it is by violence.

Into the marketplace (εις την αγοραν). Into the Roman forum near which would be the courts of law as in our courthouse square, as in Acts 17:17. Marketing went on also (Mark 7:4), when the crowds collect (Mark 6:56), from αγειρω, to collect or gather.

Unto the rulers (επ τους αρχοντας). General Greek term for "the magistrates."

Verse 20

Unto the magistrates (τοις στρατηγοις). Greek term (στρατοσ, αγω) for leader of an army or general. But in civic life a governor. The technical name for the magistrates in a Roman colony was duumviri or duumvirs, answering to consuls in Rome. Στρατηγο here is the Greek rendering of the Latin praetores (praetors), a term which they preferred out of pride to the term duumviri. Since they represented consuls, the praetors or duumvirs were accompanied by lictors bearing rods (verse Acts 16:35).

These men (ουτο ο ανθρωπο). Contemptuous use.

Being Jews (Ιουδαιο υπαρχοντες). The people of Philippi, unlike those in Antioch (Acts 11:26), did not recognize any distinction between Jews and Christians. These four men were Jews. This appeal to race prejudice would be especially pertinent then because of the recent decree of Claudius expelling Jews from Rome (Acts 18:2). It was about A.D. 49 or 50 that Paul is in Philippi. The hatred of the Jews by the Romans is known otherwise (Cicero, Pro Flacco, XXVIII; Juvenal, XIV. 96-106).

Do exceedingly trouble (εκταρασσουσιν). Late compound (effective use of εκ in composition) and only here in the N.T.

Verse 21

Customs which it is not lawful for us to receive, or to observe, being Romans (εθη α ουκ εστιν ημιν παραδεχεσθα ουδε ποιειν Ρωμαιοις ουσιν). Note the sharp contrast between "being Jews" in verse Acts 16:20 and "being Romans" here. This pose of patriotism is all sound and fury. It is love of money that moves these "masters" far more than zeal for Rome. As Roman citizens in a colony they make full use of all their rights of protest. Judaism was a religio licita in the Roman empire, only they were not allowed to make proselytes of the Romans themselves. No Roman magistrate would pass on abstract theological questions (Acts 18:15), but only if a breach of the peace was made (εκταρασσουσιν ημων την πολιν) or the formation of secret sects and organizations. Evidently both of these last points are involved by the charges of "unlawful customs" by the masters who are silent about their real ground of grievance against Paul and Silas. Εθος (kin to ηθος, 1 Corinthians 15:33) is from εθω, to be accustomed or used to a thing. The Romans granted toleration to conquered nations to follow their religious customs provided they did not try to win the Romans. But the Jews had made great headway to favour (the God-fearers) with increasing hatred also. Emperor worship had in store grave peril for both Jews and Christians. The Romans will care more for this than for the old gods and goddesses. It will combine patriotism and piety.

Verse 22

Rose up together (συνεπεστη). Second aorist (ingressive) active of the double compound συνεφιστημ, intransitive, old verb, but only here in the N.T. (cf. κατεπεστησαν in Acts 18:12). There was no actual attack of the mob as Paul and Silas were in the hands of the officers, but a sudden and violent uprising of the people, the appeal to race and national prejudice having raised a ferment.

Rent their garments off them (περιρηξαντες αυτων τα ιματια). First aorist active participle of περιρηγνυμ, old verb, to break off all around, to strip or rend all round. Here only in the N.T. The duumvirs probably gave orders for Paul and Silas to be stripped of their outer garments (ιματια), though not actually doing it with their own hands, least of all not stripping off their own garments in horror as Ramsay thinks. That would call for the middle voice. In II Macc. 4:38 the active voice is used as here of stripping off the garments of others. Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2:2 refers to the shameful treatment received in Philippi, "insulted" (υβρισθεντας). As a Roman citizen this was unlawful, but the duumvirs looked on Paul and Silas as vagabond and seditious Jews and "acted with the highhandedness characteristic of the fussy provincial authorities" (Knowling).

Commanded (εκελευον). Imperfect active, repeatedly ordered. The usual formula of command was: "Go, lictors; strip off their garments; let them be scourged."

To beat them with rods (ραβδιζειν). Present active infinitive of ραβδιζω, old verb, but in the N.T.=virgis caedere only here and 2 Corinthians 11:25 where Paul alludes to this incident and two others not given by Luke (τρις εραβδισθην). He came near getting another in Jerusalem (Acts 22:25). Why did not Paul say here that he was a Roman citizen as he does later (verse Acts 16:37) and in Jerusalem (Acts 22:26)? It might have done no good in this hubbub and no opportunity was allowed for defence of any kind.

Verse 23

When they had laid (επιθεντες). Second aorist (constative) active participle of επιτιθημ, to place upon.

Many stripes (πολλας πληγας). The Jewish law was forty stripes save one (2 Corinthians 11:24). The Roman custom depended on the caprice of the judge and was a terrible ordeal. It was the custom to inflict the stripes on the naked body (back) as Livy 2.5 says: "Missique lictores ad sumendum supplicium, nudatos virgis caedunt." On πληγας (from πλησσω, to strike a blow) see on Luke 10:30; Luke 12:47.

The jailor (τω δεσμοφυλακ). Late word (δεσμοσ, φυλαξ, keeper of bonds), in the N.T. only here (verses Acts 16:23; Acts 16:27; Acts 16:36). The LXX has the word αρχιδεσμοφυλαξ (Genesis 39:21-23). Chrysostom calls this jailor Stephanus, he was of Achaia (1 Corinthians 16:15).

To keep safely (ασφαλως τηρειν). Present active infinitive, to keep on keeping safely, perhaps "as dangerous political prisoners" (Rackham). He had some rank and was not a mere turnkey.

Verse 24

Into the inner prison (εις την εσωτεραν φυλακην). The comparative form from the adverb εσω (within), Ionic and old Attic for εισω. In the LXX, but in the N.T. only here and Hebrews 6:19. The Roman public prisons had a vestibule and outer prison and behind this the inner prison, a veritable dungeon with no light or air save what came through the door when open. One has only to picture modern cells in our jails, the dungeons in feudal castles, London prisons before the time of Howard, to appreciate the horrors of an inner prison cell in a Roman provincial town of the first century A.D.

Made their feet fast (τους ποδας ησφαλισατο αυτων). First aorist (effective) middle of ασφαλιζω, from ασφαλης (safe), common verb in late Greek, in the N.T. only here and Matthew 24:64. The inner prison was safe enough without this refinement of cruelty.

In the stocks (εις το ξυλον). Ξυλον, from ξυω, to scrape or plane, is used for a piece of wood whether a cross or gibbet (Acts 5:30; Acts 10:39; Acts 13:29; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24) or a log or timber with five holes (four for the wrists and ankles and one for the neck) or two for the feet as here, ξυλοπεδη, Latin vervus, to shackle the feet stretched apart (Job 33:11). This torment was practiced in Sparta, Athens, Rome, and Adonirom Judson suffered it in Burmah. Ξυλον is also used in the N.T. for stick or staff (Matthew 26:47) and even a tree (Luke 23:31). Tertullian said of Christians in the stocks: Nihil crus sentit in vervo, quum animus in caelo est (Nothing the limb feels in the stocks when the mind is in heaven).

Verse 25

About midnight (κατα δε μεσονυκτιον). Middle of the night, old adjective seen already in Mark 13:35; Luke 11:5 which see.

Were praying and singing (προσευχομενο υμνουν). Present middle participle and imperfect active indicative: Praying they were singing (simultaneously, blending together petition and praise). Hυμνεω is an old verb from υμνος (cf. Isaiah 12:4; Daniel 3:23). Paul and Silas probably used portions of the Psalms (cf. Luke 1:39; Luke 1:67; Luke 2:28) with occasional original outbursts of praise.

Were listening to them (επηκροωντο αυτων). Imperfect middle of επακροαομα. Rare verb to listen with pleasure as to a recitation or music (Page). It was a new experience for the prisoners and wondrously attractive entertainment to them.

Verse 26

Earthquake (σεισμος). Old word from σειω, to shake. Luke regarded it as an answer to prayer as in Acts 4:31. He and Timothy were not in prison.

So that the foundations of the prison house were shaken (ωστε σαλευθηνα τα θεμελια του δεσμωτηριου). Regular construction of the first aorist passive infinitive and the accusative of general reference with ωστε for actual result just like the indicative. This old word for prison house already in Matthew 11:2; Acts 5:21; Acts 5:23 which see. Θεμελια is neuter plural of the adjective θεμελιος, from θεμα (thing laid down from τιθημ). So already in Luke 6:48; Luke 14:29. If the prison was excavated from rocks in the hillside, as was often the case, the earthquake would easily have slipped the bars of the doors loose and the chains would have fallen out of the walls.

Were opened (ηνεωιχθησαν). First aorist passive indicative of ανοιγω (or -νυμ) with triple augment (η, ε, ω), while there is no augment in ανεθη (first aorist passive indicative of ανιημ, were loosed), old verb, but in the N.T. only here and Acts 27:40; Ephesians 6:9; Hebrews 13:5.

Verse 27

Being roused out of sleep (εξυπνος γενομενος). Becoming εξυπνος (rare word, only here in N.T., in LXX and Josephus). An earthquake like that would wake up any one.

Open (ανεωιγμενος). Perfect passive participle with double reduplication in predicate position, standing open.

Drew his sword (σπασαμενος την μαχαιραν). First aorist middle participle of σπαω, to draw, as in Mark 14:47, drawing his own sword himself. Our word spasm from this old word.

Was about (ημελλεν). Imperfect active of μελλω with both syllabic and temporal augment and followed here by present infinitive. He was on the point of committing suicide as Brutus had done near here. Stoicism had made suicide popular as the escape from trouble like the Japanese harikari.

Had escaped (εκπεφευγενα). Second perfect active infinitive of εκφευγω, old verb with perfective force of εκ, to flee out, to get clean away. This infinitive and accusative of general reference is due to indirect discourse after νομιζων. Probably the prisoners were so panic stricken by the earthquake that they did not rally to the possibility of escape before the jailor awoke. He was responsible for the prisoners with his life (Acts 12:19; Acts 27:42).

Verse 28

Do thyself no harm (μηδεν πραξηις σεαυτω κακον). The usual construction (μη and the aorist subjunctive) for a prohibition not to

begin to do a thing. The older Greek would probably have used ποιησηις here. The later Greek does not always preserve the old distinction between ποιεω, to do a thing, and πρασσω, to practice, though πρασσετε keeps it in Philippians 4:9 and ποιεω is rightly used in Luke 3:10-14. As a matter of fact πρασσω does not occur in Matthew or in Mark, only twice in John, six times in Luke's Gospel, thirteen in Acts, and elsewhere by Paul.

Sprang in (εισεπηδησεν). First aorist active of εισπηδαω, old verb, but here only in the N.T. Cf. εκπηδαω in Acts 14:14. The jailor was at the outer door and he wanted lights to see what was inside in the inner prison.

Verse 29

Trembling for fear (εντρομος γενομενος). "Becoming terrified." The adjective εντρομος (in terror) occurs in N.T. only here and Acts 7:32; Hebrews 12:21.

Fell down (προσεπεσεν). Second aorist active indicative of προσπιπτω, old verb. An act of worship as Cornelius before Peter (Acts 10:25), when προσεκυνησεν is used.

Verse 30

Brought them out (προγαγων αυτους εξω). Second aorist active participle of προαγω, to lead forward. He left the other prisoners inside, feeling that he had to deal with these men whom he had evidently heard preach or had heard of their message as servants of the Most High God as the slave girl called them. There may have been superstition behind his fear, but there was evident sincerity.

Verse 31

To be saved (ινα σωθω). Final clause with ινα and first aorist passive subjunctive. What did he mean by "saved"? Certainly more than escape from peril about the prisoners or because of the earthquake, though these had their influences on him. Cf. way of salvation in verse Acts 16:17.

Believe on the Lord Jesus (Πιστευσον επ τον κυριον Ιησουν). This is what Peter told Cornelius (Acts 10:43). This is the heart of the matter for both the jailor and his house.

Verse 32

They spake the word of God (ελαλησαν τον λογον του θεου). So Paul and Silas gave fuller exposition of the way of life to the jailor "with all that were in his house." It was a remarkable service with keenest attention and interest, the jailor with his warden, slaves, and family.

Verse 33

Washed their stripes (ελουσεν απο των πληγων). Deissmann (Bible Studies, p. 227) cites an inscription of Pergamum with this very construction of απο and the ablative, to wash off, though it is an old verb. This first aorist active indicative of λουω, to bathe, succinctly shows what the jailor did to remove the stains left by the rods of the lictors (verse Acts 16:22). Νιπτω was used for washing parts of the body.

And was baptized, he and all his, immediately (κα εβαπτισθη αυτος κα ο αυτου απαντες παραχρημα). The verb is in the singular agreeing with αυτος, but it is to be supplied with ο αυτου, and it was done at once.

Verse 34

He brought them up (αναγαγων). Second aorist active participle of αναγω. It looks as if his house was above the prison. The baptism apparently took place in the pool or tank in which he bathed Paul and Silas (De Wette) or the rectangular basin (impluvium) in the court for receiving the rain or even in a swimming pool or bath (κολυμβηθρα) found within the walls of the prison (Kuinoel). Meyer: "Perhaps the water was in the court of the house; and the baptism was that of immersion, which formed an essential part of the symbolism of the act."

Set meat (παρεθηκεν τραπεζαν). Set a "table" before them with food on it. They had probably had no food for a day.

With all his house (πανοικε). Adverb, once in Plato, though usually πανοικια. In LXX, but here alone in the N.T. It is in an amphibolous position and can be taken either with "rejoiced" (ηγαλλιασατο) or "having believed" (πεπιστευκως, perfect active participle, permanent belief), coming between them. The whole household (family, warden, slaves) heard the word of God, believed in the Lord Jesus, made confession, were baptized, and rejoiced. Furneaux considers the haste in baptism here "precipitate" as in the baptism of the eunuch. But why delay?

Verse 35

The serjeants (τους ραβδουχους). Fasces-bearers, regular Greek word (ραβδοσ, εχω) for Latin lictores though Cicero says that they should carry baculi, not fasces. Was this message because of the earthquake, the influence of Lydia, or a belated sense of justice on the part of the magistrates (praetors)? Perhaps a bit of all three may be true. The Codex Bezae expressly says that the magistrates "assembled together in the market place and recollecting the earthquake that had happened they were afraid."

Verse 36

Now therefore (νυν ουν). Note both particles (time and inference). It was a simple matter to the jailor and he was full of glee over this happy outcome.

Verse 37

Unto them (προς αυτους). The lictors by the jailor. The reply of Paul is a marvel of brevity and energy, almost every word has a separate indictment showing the utter illegality of the whole proceeding.

They have beaten us (δειραντες ημας). First aorist active participle of δερω, old verb to flay, to skin, to smite. The Lex Valeria B.C. 509 and the Lex Poscia B.C. 248 made it a crime to inflict blows on a Roman citizen. Cicero says, "To fetter a Roman citizen was a crime, to scourge him a scandal, to slay him--parricide." Claudius had "deprived the city of Rhodes of its freedom for having crucified some citizen of Rome" (Rackham).

Publicly (δημοσια). This added insult to injury. Common adverb (οδω) supplied with adjective, associative instrumental case, opposed to ιδια or κατ' οικους, Acts 20:20)

Uncondemned (ακατακριτους). This same verbal adjective from κατα-κρινω with α privative is used by Paul in Acts 22:25 and nowhere else in the N.T. Rare in late Greek like ακαταγνωστος, but in late Koine (papyri, inscriptions). The meaning is clearly "without being tried." Paul and Silas were not given a chance to make a defence. They were sentenced unheard (Acts 25:16). Even slaves in Roman law had a right to be heard.

Men that are Romans (ανθρωπους Ρομαιους υπαρχοντας). The praetors did not know, of course, that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens any more than Lysias knew it in Acts 22:27. Paul's claim is not challenged in either instance. It was a capital offence to make a false claim to Roman citizenship.

Have cast us into prison (εβαλαν εις φυλακην). Second aorist active indicative of βαλλω, old verb, with first aorist ending as often in the Koine (-αν, not -ον). This was the climax, treating them as criminals.

And now privily (κα νυν λαθρα). Paul balances their recent conduct with the former.

Nay verily, but (ου γαρ, αλλα). No indeed! It is the use of γαρ so common in answers (γε+αρα) as in Matthew 27:23. Αλλα gives the sharp alternative.

Themselves (αυτο). As a public acknowledgment that they had wronged and mistreated Paul and Silas. Let them come themselves and lead us out (εξαγαγετωσαν, third person plural second aorist active imperative of εξαγω). It was a bitter pill to the proud praetors.

Verse 39

They feared (εφοβηθησαν). This is the explanation. They became frightened for their own lives when they saw what they had done to Roman citizens.

They asked (ηρωτων). Imperfect active of ερωταω. They kept on begging them to leave for fear of further trouble. The colonists in Philippi would turn against the praetors if they learned the facts, proud as they were of being citizens. This verb in the Koine is often used as here to make a request and not just to ask a question.

Verse 40

Into the house of Lydia (προς την Λυδιαν). No word in the Greek for "house," but it means the house of Lydia. Note "the brethren" here, not merely Luke and Timothy, but other brethren now converted besides those in the house of the jailor. The four missionaries were guests of Lydia (verse Acts 16:15) and probably the church now met in her home.

They departed (εξηλθαν). Paul and Silas, but not Luke and Timothy. Note "they" here, not "we." Note also the -αν ending instead of -ον as above. The movements of Timothy are not perfectly clear till he reappears at Beroea (Acts 17:15). It seems unlikely that he came to Thessalonica with Paul and Silas since only Paul and Silas obtained security there (Acts 17:9) and were sent on to Beroea (Acts 17:10). Probably Timothy was sent to Thessalonica from Philippi with gifts of which Paul spoke later (Philippians 4:15). Then he followed Paul and Silas to Beroea.

Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Acts 16". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/acts-16.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.
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