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Bible Commentaries
Acts 16

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

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Verse 1

1 Act 16:1. Paul had been in this city before and taught many people (chapter 14:20, 21). Timothy is the other form of this disciple's name, of whom we will hear later.

Verse 2

2 Act 16:2. This disciple had a good reputation at Lystra and Iconium.

Verse 3

3 Act 16:3. Circumcism was a Jewish rite, and the national blood was in the veins of Timothy which made it right for him to be circumcized. Because of the Jews. The rite was not necessary to salvation (Gal 5:6), but Paul performed it on Timothy on the principle of 1Co 9:20.

Verse 4

4 Act 16:4. The decrees refers to the requirements stated in chapter 15:29. Note that they were ordained by the apostles and the elders of the Jerusalem church, hence not a decision of a "council of churches" as Rome teaches.

Verse 5

5 Act 16:5. Churches established. The starting of a church is not the same as establishing one. That has to be done by additional instruction concerning Christian duties.

Verse 7

7 Act 16:7. Mysia and Bithynia were in another part of Asia Minor than the Asia of the preceding verse. Paul assayed or made plans to do some work in those parts but was not permitted to do so because the Lord had other work for them to do.

Verse 8

9 Act 16:8-9. In obedience to the divine orders, Paul journeyed on until he came to Troas, the Troy of history. This is the time and place where the familiar Macedonian call was made upon Paul in a vision. The Gospel had never been preached in Macedonia, hence this will be new territory and the real start of his "second missionary journey."

Verse 10

0 Act 16:10. Vision is from HOROMA which Thayer defines, "That which is seen, a sight, spectacle; a sight divinely granted in an ecstacy, a vision." We endeavored means they made preparations for the voyage. The first personal pronoun we denotes that Luke was in the group with Paul. Assuredly gathering means that they concluded with certainty.

Verse 11

2 Act 16:11-12. Samothracia was an island where Paul made his first stop over night. Next day he sailed on and landed at Neapolis on the coast of Macedonia. He went on to Philippi for the first stop of some days. This place was important because of its being a Roman colony. That means a commu nity of Roman citizens located there in Macedonia, but remaining subject to the mother country. (See verse 21.)

Verse 13

3 Act 16:13. The sabbath did not mean anything special to Paul except as an opportunity to preach to some people. Out by a river side some women were wont (accustomed) to conduct a prayer meeting on the sabbath, day. Paul entered into the group and began talking to them about the Gospel.

Verse 14

4 Act 16:14. Smith's Bible Dictionary says Lydia was a Jewish proselyte, which accounts for her being present at the prayer meeting on the sabbath day, and also explains why she worshipped God. One meaning of opened is to have things explained so that the heart (mind) could understand what is said. The Lord did this for Lydia through the preaching of Paul, and the result was that she attended or accepted it.

Verse 15

5 Act 16:15. When she was baptized. The wording of this phrase takes it for granted that a penitent believer in the Gospel will obey it. Her household. One part of the lexicon definition of this word is, "the inmates of a house"; it does not necessarily mean that they are related to each other. The inmates of Lydia's house were able to attend to the things spoken by Paul. Judged me to be faithful means that they regarded her as a true convert, and would be pleased to be her guests for some time.

Verse 16

6 Act 16:16. This damsel did not possess anything supernatural as a bestowal from God. She had some kind of factulty by which she bewitched her patrons and made them think she could foretell events. She was somewhat like the modern "fortunetellers," and brought a good income for her sponsors.

Verse 17

7 Act 16:17. All that the girl said was the truth concerning Paul and his group, but the Lord will not accept testimony from such characters as she.

Verse 18

8 Act 16:18. Paul became tired of being hounded by this troublesome person. Said to the spirit. Whatever faculty she had -of an extraordinary kind was what Paul commanded to leave the damsel, so that she would not have ability to mislead the people.

Verse 19

9 Act 16:19. The love of money is a strong sentiment (1Ti 6:10), and it caused these wicked masters of the girl to plan the persecution of Paul and Silas. They drew them by force into the marketplace, "a place where assemblies are held. Thayer.

Verse 20

1 Act 16:20-21. They were not fair enough to state their true grievance, that they had been shorn of their means of unrighteous gain. Instead, they dealt only in generalities, and made false charges against Paul and Silas about their teaching. Being Romans is explained at verse 12.

Verse 22

2 Act 16:22. Rent off their clothes in order to administer a scourging. That was done by requiring the victim to lie down with his naked back exposed to the scourger, and a heavy thong of leather or ropes was lashed across the body.

Verse 23

3 Act 16:23. Stripes means wounds made by blows inflicted with a heavy whip. The original for safely is defined "assuredly" in Thayer's lexicon, which denotes to take every precaution possible to prevent the prisoners from escaping.

Verse 24

4 Act 16:24. Such a charge indicated that the jailor felt a special responsibility for keeping of the prisoners. Stocks is from XULON and the primary definition is, "that which is made of wood." Thayer describes the instrument as follows: "A log or timber with holes in which the feet, hands, neck of prisoners were inserted and fastened with thongs." Inner prison means a cell with its own door locked, on the inside of the general prison which is also enclosed with locked doors.

Verse 25

5 Act 16:25. Persecution can torture and hamper the body, but it cannot affect the spirit of a devoted servant of God, except to stir it to greater praises to Him who always hears the prayers of the righteous. Those of Paul and Silas were expressed at an hour of the night when men are usually asleep. The righteous men here were tortured into sleeplessness, but their songs of praise to God rang out into the midnight darkness and awakened the other prisoners.

Verse 26

6 Act 16:26. The power that loosened the doors and bands was the same that released Peter in chapter 12:7-10. With God one miracle is as easy as another.

Verse 27

7 Act 16:27. The Lord would not interfere with the Just operation of secular government. Doubtless the other prisoners were being held lawfully, and God would not perform a "jail delivery" in opposition to the law. Hence he unfastened all the fetters but saw to it that no one escaped. It was sure death to a jailor to let his prisoners escape, especially after receiving such a charge (verse 24). He thought he would prefer suicide to the shame of being executed for failure in his duties.

Verse 28

8 Act 16:28. All was darkness, yet Paul knew the jailor was about to kill himself. Loud noise was necessary to overcome the frenzy of the officer. We are all here was spoken by divine knowledge, for Paul could not have seen all the conditions naturally.

Verse 29

9 Act 16:29. Called for a light was necessary because it was utter darkness in the cell where Paul and Silas were held. Sprang in means he rushed in excitedly and with trembling. He fell down before Paul and Silas because the miracle convinced him these men had been imprisoned unjustly.

Verse 30

0 Act 16:30. Brought them out indicates the preachers were taken outside the jail. What must I do to be saved? The jailor knew that Paul and Silas were religious men, and that their imprisonment was in connection with their religious belief. But being a heathen, he knew nothing of the merits of their teachings. Now the miraculous demonstration on behalf of them convinced him that they represented some great and righteous Being, whose law it would be dangerous to ignore. That also made him realize that he was due to suffer some kind of punishment unless something was done to prevent it, hence the question he asked of Paul and Silas.

Verse 31

2 Act 16:31-32. The jailor was a heathen and knew only the worship of idol gods. Paul's answer to his question meant only to cite him to the proper source of salvation. It was like telling an inquiring patient to put his trust in Doctor Blank, with the understanding, of course, that he would show confidence by doing what the doctor told him to do. We know that was all the statement of Paul meant, for he immediately spake unto him the word of the Lord, which would have been unnecessary had the answer in verse 31 been all the jailor needed to do to be saved.

Verse 33

4 Act 16:33-34. Here was a situation similar to that in chapter 8:35, 36. In one verse Philip preached Jesus and in the next the eunuch asked to be baptized. In our present case the preachers spoke the word of the Lord, then the hearer arranged to be baptized. All of this shows that "the word of the Lord" means the commandments of the Lord including baptism. Act 16:30 says the jailor brought them out, and then verse 34 says he brought them into his house. The baptizing took place between the two movements, which is explained by the act of immersion which requires their going to some place where there was plenty of water. Washed their stripes means the jailor bathed the wounds that the magistrates had inflicted on Paul and Silas, as a means of giving them some relief from their injuries. After the baptism the jailor served food to the preachers, while he and his household rejoiced in their newly-found religion.

Verse 35

6 Act 16:35-36. The officers evidently had learned something of the situation, and knew they had violated the law by their brutal treatment of the missionaries. They wished to get rid of them in as quiet a manner as possible. The jailor passed the word on to Paul and Silas and told them they might go.

Verse 37

7 Act 16:37. Paul felt that such an unjust treatment as had been publicly inflicted on them should be reversed in as public a manner also. He refused to go in such a humiliating manner and demanded the responsible officers come in person and release them.

Verse 38

8 Act 16:38. Being a Roman citizen entitled one to special consideration, and Paul and Silas had been denied such favors.

Verse 39

9 Act 16:39. In their anxiety over the unlawful treatment of the prisoners, the officers came in person and very respectfully requested them to leave.

Verse 40

0 Act 16:40. Paul and Silas did not leave the city until they had first visited the church in the house of Lydia, the first convert they had made in the place. It is remarkable that the very ones who had been the victims of cruel persecution were the ones to offer comforting words to others.
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Acts 16". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/acts-16.html. 1952.
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