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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
Acts 16

 

 

Verse 1

1.] We have Derbe first, as lying nearest to the pass from Cilicia into Lycaonia and Cappadocia. Paul probably travelled by the ordinary road through the ‘Cilician gates,’ a rent or fissure in the mountain-chain of Taurus, extending from north to south through a distance of eighty miles. See various interesting particulars in C. and H. i. p. 301 ff. and notes.

ἐκεῖ] At Lystra: which, and not Derbe, was in all probability the birth-place of Timotheus: see on ch. Acts 20:4. This view is confirmed by Acts 16:2.

He had probably been converted by Paul during his former visit, as he calls him his son in the Lord, 1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; perhaps at Antioch in Pisidia, see 2 Timothy 3:10-11. His mother was Eunice, his grandmother Lois,—both women of well-known piety, 2 Timothy 1:5. Whether his father was a proselyte of the gate or not, is uncertain: he certainly was uncircumcised. He would be, besides his personal aptness for the work, singularly fitted to be the coadjutor to Paul, by his mixed extraction forming a link between Jews and Greeks.


Verse 2

2.] Some of these testimonies were probably intimations of the Spirit respecting his fitness for the work; for Paul speaks, 1 Timothy 1:18, of τὰς προαγούσας ἐπὶ σὲ προφητείας (see ch. Acts 13:1; Acts 13:3). He was set apart for the work by the laying on of the hands of Paul and of the presbytery, 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6, after he had made a good confession before many witnesses, 1 Timothy 6:12.


Verse 3

3. λαβὼν περιέτ.] As E. V. took and circumcised him. Every Israelite might perform the rite; see Winer, Realw., art. ‘Beschneidung.’

διὰ τ. ἰουδ.] That he might not at once, wherever he preached, throw a stumbling-block before the Jews, by having with him one by birth a Jew, but uncircumcised. There was here no concession in doctrine at all, and no reference whatever to the duty of Timotheus himself in the matter. In the case of Titus, a Greek, he dealt otherwise, no such reason existing: Galatians 2:3.


Verse 4

4. τὰς πόλ.] Iconium, and perhaps Antioch in Pisidia. He might at Iconium see the elders of the church of Antioch, as he did afterwards those of Ephesus at Miletus. If he went to Antioch, he might regain his route into Phrygia and Galatia by crossing the hills east of that city.


Verse 5

5.] This general notice, with μὲν οὖν, like those at ch. Acts 9:31, Acts 12:24, marks the opening of a new section.


Verse 6

6. φρυγίαν] There were two tracts of country called by this name: ‘Phrygiam utramque (alteram ad Hellespontum, majorem alteram vocant).… Eumeni restituerunt.’ Livy, xxxviii. 39. It is with ‘Phrygia Major’ that we are here concerned, which was the great central space of Asia Minor, yet retaining the name of its earliest inhabitants, and on account of its being politically subdivided among the contiguous provinces, impossible to define accurately (see C. and H. i. p. 280, note 1).

The Apostle’s route must remain very uncertain. It is probable that he may have followed the great road (according to his usual practice and the natural course of a missionary journey) from Iconium to Philomelium and perhaps as far as Synnada, and thence struck off to the N.E. towards Pessinus in Galatia. That he visited Colossæ, in the extreme S.W. of Phrygia, on this journey, as supposed by some, and maintained with some ingenuity by Mr. Lewin (Life and Epistles of St. Paul i. 191 ff.), is very improbable (see Wieseler, Chron. d. Apostgsch. pp. 28 ff.).

γαλατικὴν χ.] The midland district, known as Galatia, or Gallo-græcia, was inhabited by the descendants of those Gauls who invaded Greece and Asia in the third century B.C., and after various incursions and wars, settled and became mixed with the Greeks in the centre of Asia Minor. They were known as a brave and freedom-loving people, fond of war, and either on their own or others’ account, almost always in arms, and generally as cavalry. Jerome (in the introduction to book ii. of his comm. on Galatians, vol. vii. p. 429) says that their speech was like that of the Germans in the neighbourhood of Treves: and perhaps λυκαονιστί, ch. Acts 14:11, spoken of the neighbouring district, may refer to this peculiardialect. But Greek was extensively spoken. They were conquered by the consul Cn. Manlius Vulso, 189 B.C. (Livy xxxviii. 12, see 1 Maccabees 8:2), but retained their own governors, called as before tetrarchs, and afterwards kings (for one of whom, Deiotarus, a protégé of Pompey’s, Cicero pleaded before Cæsar); their last king, Amyntas, passed over from Antony to Augustus in the battle of Actium. Galatia, after his murder, A.D. 26, became a Roman province. The principal cities were Ancyra,—which was made the metropolis of the province by Augustus,—Tavium, and Pessinus: in all, or some of which, the Apostle certainly preached. He was detained here on account of sickness ( διʼ ἀσθένειαν τῆς σαρκός, Galatians 4:13). See further in Prolegg. to Gal. § ii.

κωλυθέντες] By some special intimation, like that in ch. Acts 13:2.

ἀσίᾳ] This name, applied at first to the district near the river Cayster in Lydia ( ἀσίῳ ἐν λειμῶνι, καϋστρίου ἀμφὶ ῥέεθρα, Hom. Il. β. 461), came to have a meaning more and more widely extended, till at last it embraced, as at present, the whole vast continent, forming one of the quarters of the globe. But we never find this meaning in Scripture. The Asia of the Acts is not even our Asia Minor,—which name is not used till Orosius (i. 2, p. 16) in the fourth century A.D.,—but only a portion of the western coast of that great peninsula. (A full account of the history of the territory and its changes of extent will be found in C. and H., i. pp. 275 ff., and in Wieseler, pp. 32–35. I confine myself to its import in the Acts.) This, which was the Roman province of Asia,—Asia Propria, Plin. Acts 16:28,—as spoken of in the Acts, includes only Mysia, Lydia, and Caria,—excluding Phrygia (ch. Acts 2:9 and here: 1 Peter 1:1 it must be included) as in Pliny l. c.,—Galatia, Bithynia, Cilicia, Pamphylia, Lycia. See ch. Acts 19:26, &c.


Verses 6-9

6–9.] This very cursory notice of a journey in which we have reason to think so much happened,—the founding of the Galatian and Phrygian churches (see ch. Acts 18:23, where we find him, on his second visit, στηρίζων πάντας τοὺς μαθητάς); the sickness of the Apostle alluded to Galatians 4:13; the working of miracles and imparting of the Spirit mentioned Galatians 3:5; the warmth and kindness of feeling shewn to Paul in his weakness, Galatians 4:13-15,—seems to shew that the narrator was not with him 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.


Verse 7

7. βιθυνίαν] At this time a Roman province (senatorial: Hadrian, whose favourite province it was, took it from the senate). When they were come to (i.e. to the borders of) Mysia, they attempted to go into B.

The expression πν. ἰησοῦ is remarkable, as occurring in all the great MSS., and from its peculiarity bearing almost unquestionable trace of genuineness,—the idea being quite untenable that the word ἰησοῦ has been inserted here, and no where else, on doctrinal grounds. If the report of this journey came from an unusual source, an unusual expression would be accountable.


Verse 8

8.] παρελθόντες must from the context mean ‘having passed by,’ i.e. as regarded their work of preaching (cf. ch. Acts 20:16),—and not ‘having passed by’ as avoiding it; for they could not get to the coast without entering Mysia. I adhere to this interpretation, notwithstanding what has been said against it by Dr. Bloomfield (Gr. Test. edn. 9). For this sense of παρέρχομαι, which is not figurative at all, but involved in the literal, cf. Hom. Il. θ. 239: Aristoph. Vesp. 636, 7: Plato, Phædr. p. 278 fin.

τρωάδα] Troas (Alexandria Troas, in honour of Alex. the Great: now Eski Stamboul) was a colony juris Italici (see on Acts 16:12), and a free city, and was not reckoned as belonging to either of the provinces Asia or Bithynia. Whether it was for this reason that Paul and his companions visited it, is uncertain. He may have had the design of crossing to Europe, if permitted, which the subsequent vision confirmed. See ch. Acts 20:5; 2 Corinthians 2:12; 2 Timothy 4:13.


Verse 9

9.] The vision seems to have appeared in the same way as that sent to Peter in ch. 10. It was an unreal apparition, designed to convey a practical meaning. The context precludes our understanding it as a dream.

΄ακεδών] known probably by the affecting words spoken by him. There would hardly be any peculiarity of dress by which a Macedonian could be recognized.


Verse 10

10. ἐζητήσαμεν] by immediate enquiry for a ship. This word is remarkable as the introduction of the first person in the narrative: which however is dropped at Acts 16:40, on Paul’s leaving Philippi, and resumed again, ch. Acts 20:5, on occasion of sailing from Philippi. Thence it continues (in all places where we have reason to expect it: see below) to the end of the book. On the question, what is implied by this, we may remark, (1) That while we safely conclude from it that the writer was in company with Paul when he thus speaks, we cannot with like safety infer that he was not, where the third person is used. This latter must be determined by other features of the history. For it is conceivable that a narrative, even where it concerns all present, might be, in its earlier parts, written as of others in the third person, but might, when more intimacy had been established, or even by preference only, be at any point changed to the first. And again, the episodes where the chief person alone, or with his principal companion or companions, is concerned, would be many, in which the narrator would use the third person, not because he was not present, but because he was not concerned. This has not been enough attended to. If it be thought fanciful, I may refer to an undoubted instance in the episode, ch. Acts 21:17, γενομένων ἡμῶν εἰς ἰερ., to ch. Acts 27:1, ὡς δὲ ἐκρίθη τ. ἀποπλεῖν ἡμᾶς, …; during the whole of which time the writer was with or in the neighbourhood of Paul, and drops the we, merely because he is speaking of Paul alone. (2) One objection raised by De Wette to the common view, that Luke accompanied Paul from this time (except as above), is, that several times Paul’s companions are mentioned, but Luke is never among them. On examining however one of the passages where this is done, we find that after the enumeration of Sopater, Aristarchus, Secundus, Gaius, Timotheus, Tychicus, and Trophimus, we are told, οὗτοι προελθόντες ἔμενον ἡμᾶς ἐν τρωάδι: so that the writer evidently regards himself as being closely associated with Paul, and does not think it requisite to enumerate himself among the companions of the Apostle. This may serve as a key to his practice on other occasions. On the whole, and after careful consideration of the subject, I see no reason to doubt the common view, that Luke here joined the Apostle (whether, as Wieseler suggests, as a physician, on account of his broken health, must of course be matter of conjecture, but is not improbable), and from this time (except from ch. Acts 17:1 to Acts 20:5) accompanies him to the end of the history. See the question of the authorship of the Acts further discussed in the Prolegg. § i. 12–14.


Verse 11

11.] They had a fair wind on this occasion: in ch. Acts 20:6, the voyage in the opposite direction took five days. This is also implied by εὐθυδρομήσαμεν: see ref., where it has the same sense, viz., ran before the wind. The coincidence of their going to Samothrace also shews it: determining the wind to have been from the S. or S.S.E. It is only a strong southerly breeze which will overcome the current southwards which runs from the Dardanelles by Tenedos (C. and H. i. p. 336): and this, combined with the short passage, is another mark of the veracity of our narrative. They seem to have anchored N. of the lofty island of Samothrace, under its lee.

εἱς νεάπολιν] In an E. by N. direction, past the island of Thasos. It was not properly in Macedonia, but in Thrace, and twelve (ten, C. and H. i. 339, from the Jerusalem Itinerary) Roman miles from Philippi, which was the frontier town of Macedonia strictly speaking: see below. It was by Vespasian, together with the whole of Thrace, attached to the province of Macedonia (Winer, Realw.). Some Roman ruins and inscriptions serve to point out the Turkish village of Cavallo as its site.


Verse 12

12. φιλίππους] Philippi was built as a military position on the site of the village Krenides (also called Datos, Appian, Bell. Civ. iv. 105, οἱ δὲ φίλιπποι πόλις ἐστίν, ἣ δάτος ὠνομάζετο πάλαι, καὶ κρηνίδες ἔτι πρὸ δάτου· κρῆναι γάρ εἰσι περὶ τῷ λόφῳ ναμάτων πολλαί), by Philip the Great of Macedon. The plain between the Gangites, on which the town is situate, and the Strymon, was the field of the celebrated battle of Antony and Octavius against Brutus and Cassius (cf. Dio Cassius, xlvii. 41. ff.: Appian, ubi supra): see more below. There is now an insignificant place on its site retaining the name Filiba (or Philippigi?). Winer, Realw.

πρώτη τῆς μερίδος τῆς ΄ακεδονίας πόλις] The first Macedonian city of the district. It was the first Macedonian city to which Paul and his companions came in that district,—Neapolis properly belonging to Thrace. And this epithet of πρώτη would belong to it not only as regarded the journey of Paul and Silas, but as Wieseler remarks (Chron. d. Apgsch. p. 37, note) as lying furthest eastward, for which reason also the district was called Macedonia prima, though furthest from Rome. The other explanations are, (1) ‘chief city,’ as E. V. But this it was not: Thessalonica being the chief city of the whole province, and Amphipolis of the division (if it then subsisted) of Macedonia prima:—(2) πρώτη is taken as a title of honour (Hug, Kuin., De Wette), as we find in the coins of Pergamus and Smyrna (but not in the case of any city out of Asia Minor): (3) πόλις κολων. are united (Grot.),—‘the first city which was a colony.’ But there could be no reason for stating this: whereas there would be every reason to particularize the fact that they tarried and preached in the very first city to which they came, in the territory to which they were sent.

μερίδος would seem to import that the division into Macedonia prima, secunda, &c., made long before this by Æmilius Paulus (Livy, xlv. 29), still subsisted; this however is not necessary: μερίς might be merely a geographical subdivision. Wordsworth finds his solution of the difficulty in “the Hellenistic sense of the word μερίς, viz. a frontier or strip of border land, that by which it (?) is divided from some other adjacent territory: see Ezekiel 45:7.” But this supposed sense may be questioned. Certainly in the place cited μερίς has no such meaning. It there represents חֵלֶק, which is merely a part or portion.

κολωνία] Philippi was made a colonia by Augustus, as a memorial of his victory over Brutus and Cassius, and as a frontier garrison against Thrace. Its full name on the coins of the city was Colonia Augusta Julia Philippensis. A Roman colony was in fact a portion of Rome itself transplanted to the provinces (Aulus Gellius, xvi. 13, calls them ‘ex civitate quasi propagatæ—populi Romani quasi effigies parvæ simulacraque’). The colonists consisted of veteran soldiers and freedmen, who went forth, and determined and marked out their situation, with all religious and military ceremonies. The inhabitants of the coloniæ were Roman citizéns, and were still enrolled in one or other of the tribes, and possessed the privilege of voting at Rome. In them the Roman law was strictly observed, and the Latin language was used on their coins and inscriptions. They were governed by their own senate and magistrates (Duumviri, as the consuls at Rome: see on στρατηγοί below, Acts 16:20), and not by the governor of the province. The land on which they stood was tributary, as being provincial, unless liberated from tribute by the special favour of the jus Italicum, or Quiritarian ownership of the soil. This Philippi possessed, in common with many other coloniæ and favoured provincial towns. The population of such places came in process of time to be of a mixed character: but only the descendants of the original colonists by Roman wives, or women of a people possessing the civitas, were Roman citizens. Hence new supplies of colonists were often necessary. See article ‘Colonia’ in Smith’s Dict. of Antt., and C. and H. i. pp. 341, f.

ἐν ταύτῃ τῇ πόλει] In this city,—as distinguished from the suburban place of prayer to which they afterwards, on the Sabbath, ἐξῆλθον ἔξω τῆς πύλης. Perhaps ταύτῃ may have been changed to αὐτῇ, to make the contrast stronger. ἐν αὐτῇ τῇ πόλει, as distinguished from ἔξω τῆς πύλης, would be too strong an expression for the calm simplicity of St. Luke’s narrative style.


Verse 13

13. ποταμόν] a (or, the) river; viz. the small stream Gangites, or Gangas: Leake, p. 217, cited by C. and H. i. 341; not, as Meyer and De Wette, the Strymon, the nearest point of which was many miles distant. The name Krenides, formerly borne by the city, was derived from the fountains of this stream.

From many sources we learn, that it was the practice of the Jews to hold their assemblies for prayer near water, whether of the sea, or of rivers: probably on account of the frequent washings customary among them. Thus a decree of the Halicarnasseans in Joseph. Antt. xiv. 10. 23, allows the Jews τὰς προσευχὰς ποιεῖσθαι πρὸς τῇ θαλάσσῃ κατὰ τὸ πάτριον ἔθος. Thus Juvenal, speaking of the ‘madida Capena’ at Rome, adds, ‘Nunc sacri fontis nemus, et delubra locantur Judæis,’ iii. 13. And Tertullian, de Jejuniis, ch. 16, vol. ii. p. 976, ‘Judaicum certe jejunium ubique celebratur, quum omissis templis per omne litus quocumque in aperto aliquando jam precem ad cœlum mittunt.’ And ad Nationes, i. 13, vol. i. p. 579, he speaks of the ‘orationes litorales’ of the Jews. See also Philo in Flacc. § 14, vol. ii. p. 535.

οὗ ἐνομ. προς. εἶναι] Where a meeting for prayer was accustomed to be: i.e. ‘where prayer was wont to be made,’ as E. V. That this is the meaning here, is plain from the use of ἐνομίζετο εἶναι, which could certainly not be said if the προσευχή were in this case a building dedicated to prayer. Were there no such qualification, we should understand the word of a προσευκτήριον or synagogue, as frequently used: τινὰς δὲ οἴκους ἑαυτοῖς κατασκευάσαντες ἢ τόπους πλατεῖς φόρων δίκην, προσευχὰς ταύτας ἐκάλουν· καὶ ἦσαν μὲν τὸ παλαιὸν προσευχῶν τόποι ἔν τε τοῖς ἰουδαίοις ἔξω πόλεως, καὶ ἐν τοῖς σαμαρείταις. Epiphanius, Hær. 80, § 1, p. 1067: and again, soon after, ἀλλὰ καὶ προσευχῆς τόπος ἐν σικίμοις, ἐν τῇ νυνὶ καλουμένῃ νεαπόλει, ἔξω τῆς πόλεως, ἐν τῇ πεδιάδι, ὡς ἀπὸ σημείων δύο, θεατροειδής, οὕτως ἐν ἀέρι κ. αἰθρίῳ τόπῳ ἐστὶ κατασκευασθείς, ὑπὸ τῶν σαμαρειτῶν πάντα τὰ τῶν ἰουδαίων μιμουμένων. Josephus, Vita p. 54, says, συνάγονται πάντες εἰς τὴν προσευχήν, μέγιστον οἴκημα πολὺν ὄχλον ἐπιδέξασθαι δυνάμενον.

The προσευχή here was probably one of the open places spoken of in the above extracts from Epiph(79) The close of the verse also agrees best with an open place of resort. There seem to have been few, if any, Jews in Philippi: this assembly consisting merely of women attached to the Jewish faith. We hear of no opposition arising from Jews. There appears (ch. Acts 17:1) to have been no synagogue.


Verse 14

14. πορφυρόπωλις] The guild of dyers ( οἱ βαφεῖς) at Thyatira have left inscriptions, still existing, shewing the accuracy of our narrative. The celebrity of the purple dyeing of the neighbourhood is as old as Homer: ὡς δʼ ὅτε τίς τʼ ἐλέφαντα γυνὴ φοίνικι μιήνῃ ΄ῃονὶς ἠὲ κάειρα, παρήϊον ἔμμεναι ἵππων, Il. δ. 141. So also Claudian, de Raptu Proserp. i. 270: ‘non sic decus ardet eburnum Lydia Sidonio quod fœmina tinxerit ostro’ (Lewin, i. 242). Thyatira was a city of the province of Asia. Thus, although forbidden to preach the word in Asia, their first convert at Philippi is an Asiatic. Lydia is a proper name, not ‘ita dicta a solo natali,’ as Grot.: though its origin may have been that. It was a common female name. See Hor. Od. i. 8; iii. 9.

σεβ. τ. θ.] A proselyte; see reff. N. T.

ἤκουεν, was listening,—when διήνοιξεν, the act of God, took place.

διήνοιξεν] ‘cor clausum per se: sed Dei est id aperire.’ Bengel.

τ. λαλουμένοις] It appears rather to have been a conversation ( ἐλαλοῦμεν, we spoke—and not τὸν λόγον) than a set discourse: the things which Paul was saying.


Verse 15

15. ἐβαπτ., κ. ὁ οἶκος αὐτ.] It may be (as Meyer maintains) that no inference for infant-baptism is hence deducible. The practice, however, 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. The Apostles, as Jews, would have proposed to administer baptism to the children, and Jewish or proselyte converts would, as matter of course, have acceded to the proposal; and that the practice thus by universal consent, tacitly (because at first unquestioned) pervaded the universal church, can hardly with any reason be doubted. See note on 1 Corinthians 7:14.

εἰ κεκρίκατε] If ye have judged me; modestly alluding to the decision respecting her faithfulness implied by their baptizing her, and assuming that such a judgment had been passed. Similarly εἰ ἡμεῖς ἀνακρινόμεθα, ch. Acts 4:9.


Verse 16

16.] This happened on other occasions; not on the same day, as Heinrichs and Kuinoel fancy. In that case (besides other objections), if they had gone back from the house of Lydia to the place of prayer, the word would certainly have been ἐξελθόντων, and not πορευομένων. In Acts 16:15 is implied their taking up their abode with Lydia:—in this verse that they habitually resorted to this place of prayer to teach, and that what follows happened on such occasions.

It may be remarked that the E. V. of πορευομένων εἰς ( τὴν) προσευχήν, ‘as we went to prayer,’ has given rise to a curious abuse of the expression ‘going to prayer,’ in the sense of ‘beginning to pray,’ among the lower classes in England.

ἔχουσαν πνεῦμα πύθωνα] On the whole subject of dæmoniacal possession, see note on Matthew 8:32. This was a case in which the presence of the spirit was a patent fact, recognized by the heathen possessors and consulters of this female slave, and by them turned to account; and recognized also by the Christian teachers, as an instance of one of those works of the devil which their Lord came, and commissioned them, to destroy. All attempt to explain away such a narrative as this by the subterfuges of rationalism (as e.g. in Meyer, and even Lewin, i. 243, and apparently Hackett, p. 222), is more than ever futile. The fact of the spirit leaving the girl, and the masters finding the hope of their gains gone, is fatal: and we may see, notwithstanding all his attempts to account for it psychologically, that Meyer feels it to be so.

πύθωνα] Plut. de Defectu Oracul. p. 414, says ὥσπερ τοὺς ἐγγαστριμύθους εὐρυκλέας (from a prophet, Eurycles), πάλαι, νυνὶ πύθωνας προσαγορευομένους. It is difficult to decide internally between the probabilities of πύθωνα and πύθωνος: I have retained the ancient reading, both from its external authority, and because I find so many Commentators explaining πύθων to be a name of Apollo, or the serpent Python, that the alteration into the gen. may thus be easily accounted for. Bp. Wordsworth has an interesting note on the probable reason for this new term appearing in the narrative, now that St. Paul is brought directly into contact with Greek and Roman divination.


Verse 17

17.] ἔκραζεν, used to cry out: several occasions are referred to. The recognition of Paul and his company here by the spirit is strictly analogous to that of our Lord by the dæmons, Matthew 8:29; Luke 4:34; and the same account to be given of both: viz. that the evil spirit knew and confessed the power of God and His Christ, whether in His own Person or that of His servants.


Verse 18

18. διαπονηθείς] Not mere annoyance is expressed by this word, but rather holy indignation and sorrow at what he saw and heard; the Christian soldier was goaded to the attack, but the mere satisfaction of anger was not the object, any more than the result, of the stroke. It is doubtful here, in mere grammar, whether the dat. τῷ πνεύματι is to be constructed with ἐπιστρέψας or with εἶπεν. But considering 1) that the spirit could hardly be the object of a bodily movement on the part of the Apostle, except as represented by the possessed damsel, and 2) that ἐπιστρέφω is never elsewhere found with a dative, but always with a preposition, εἰς or πρός or ἐπί, it is much the best to take τῷ πνεύματι with εἶπεν, and believe it to be thrown forward before its verb for the sake of emphasis.


Verse 19

19.] Her masters (a partnership of persons, not plur. for sing.

They may have been the hæredes of some one to whom she had belonged) perceived that the hope of their gain had gone out (with the dœmon).

ἐπιλ.… εἵλκ. gives the idea of force having been used. So we have ‘obtorto collo ad prætorem trahor,’ Plaut. Pœn. iii. 5. 45.

Paul and Silas only are apprehended as having been the principal persons in the company. When De Wette says that, if Luke here were the narrator, he must say something of Timotheus, as he mentions him ch. Acts 17:14, Acts 18:5,—and yet holds (on Acts 16:10) that Timotheus himself is the narrator, he forgets that the same reasoning will apply to him also, if it applies at all, which I much doubt. When two persons of a company are described as being apprehended, we do not need an express assertion to assure us that the rest were not.

ἐπὶ τ. ἄρχοντας said generally: they dragged them to the forum to the authorities,—afterwards specified as στρατηγοί.


Verse 20

20. στρατηγοῖς] The Duumviri of the colony, of whom at Capua Cicero says, ‘cum in cæteris coloniis Duumviri appellentur, hi se Prætores ( στρατηγούς) appellari volebant.’ De Leg. Agr. c. 34. ‘Messinenses,’ says Wetstein, ‘etiam nunc (cir. 1750) Prætorem sive Præfectum urbis Stradigo appellant.’ The name, as a rendering of Prætor, had come from the Greek title of similar magistrates: so Aristotle, Politic. vii. 3, ἐν ταῖς μικραῖς πόλεσι μία περὶ πάντων ( ἀρχήκαλοῦσι δὲ στρατηγοὺς καὶ πολεμάρχους.

ἰουδ. ὑπάρχοντες.… ῥωμ. οὖσιν] The distinction between ὑπάρχων and ὤν seems to be, that the former is used of something which the speaker or narrator wishes to put forward into notice, either as unknown to his reader or hearer, or in some way to be marked by him for praise or blame: whereas the latter refers to facts known and recognized, and taken for granted by both. Thus, we may notice that, when the fact of Paul and Silas being Romans is announced to the jailor, it is not ἀνθ. ῥωμαίους ὄντας, but ὑπάρχοντας; whereas here, both parties, the speakers and the addressed, being indisputably Romans, we have ῥωμαίοις οὖσιν. The account of this may be, that ὑπάρχω is predicated of something of which the speaker informs the hearer, some prior knowledge which he possessed and now imparts,— εἰμί being predicated of the bare matter of fact. See ch. Acts 17:27; Acts 17:29; Acts 21:20 (for both); Acts 22:3; Galatians 2:14 al., for ὑπάρχων: and for ὤν, John 3:4; John 4:9 bis; Romans 5:10 al.

‘Versute composita fait hæc criminatio ad gravandos Christi servos: nam ab una parte obtendunt Romanum nomen, quo nihil erat magis favorabile; rursum ex nomine Judaico, quod tunc infame erat (especially if the decree of Claudius, expelling them from Rome, ch. Acts 18:2, had at this time been enacted) conflant illis invidiam: nam, quantum ad religionem, plus habebant Romani affinitatis cum aliis quibuslibet, quam cum gente Judaica.’ Calvin.


Verse 21

21. ἔθη] “Dio Cassius tells us that Mæcenas gave the following advice to Augustus:— τὸ μὲν θεῖον πάντη πάντως αὐτός τε σέβου κατὰ τὰ πάτρια, καὶ τοὺς ἄλλους τιμᾷν ἀνάγκαζε· τοὺς δὲ ξενίζοντάς τι περὶ αὐτὸ καὶ μίσει καὶ κόλαζε· and the reason is alleged, viz. that such innovations lead to secret associations, conspiracies, and cabals, ἅπερ ἥκιστα μοναρχίᾳ συμφέρει.” (C. and H. i. p. 356.) So Julius Paulus, Sentent. v. 21. 2, cited by Wetst., ‘Qui novas et usu vel ratione incognitas religiones inducunt, ex quibus animi hominum moveantur, honestiores deportantur, humiliores capite premuntur.’


Verse 22

22. The multitude probably cried out tumultuously, as on other occasions (see Luke 23:18; ch. Acts 19:28; Acts 19:34; Acts 21:30; Acts 22:22-23),—and the duumviri, without giving them a trial ( ἀκατακρίτους, Acts 16:37), rent off their clothes, scil. by the lictors ( τοῖς ῥαβδούχοις ἐκέλευσαν τὴν ἐσθῆτά τε περικαταῤῥῆξαι καὶ ταῖς ῥάβδοις τὸ σῶμα ξαίνειν, Dion(80). Hal. ix. 39). The form was, ‘Summove, lictor, despolia, verbera,’ Seneca (C. and H. i. 357). See also Livy, ii. 8; Valer. Max(81) ii. 28, in Wetst. Erasmus fancied that the duumviri rent their own clothes from indignation: but, to say nothing of the improbability of such a proceeding on the part of a Roman magistrate, a man could not very well περι ῤῥῆξαι his own garments


Verse 24

24. τὸ ξύλον] Also called κᾶλον, ποδοκάκη, and ποδοστράβη, and in Latin, nervus: so ‘noctu nervo vinctus custodibitur,’ Plaut. Cap. iii. 5. 71. Eusebius (Acts 16:1, vol. ii. p. 16, ed. Heinichen) mentions, speaking of the martyrs in Gaul, τὰς ἐν τῷ ξύλῳ διατάσεις τῶν ποδῶν ἐπὶ πέμπτον διατεινομένων τρύπημα.


Verse 25

25. προσευχ. ὕμν.] Not as E. V., ‘prayed and sang praises,’—but, praying, sang praises, or in their prayers, were singing praises. The distinction of modern times between prayer and praise, arising from our attention being directed to the shape rather than to the essence of devotion, was unknown in these days: see Colossians 4:2.

‘Nihil crus sentit in nervo, quum animus in cœlo est.’ Tertullian ad Martyres, c. 2, vol. i. p. 623.

The imperfects shew that they were singing, and the prisoners (in the outer prison) listening, when the earthquake happened.


Verse 26

26. πάντων τὰ δεσμὰ ἀνέθη] i.e. of all the prisoners in the prison: see below (Acts 16:28), ἅπαντες γάρ ἐσμεν ἐνθάδε. Doubtless there were gracious purposes in this for those prisoners, who before were listening to the praises of Paul and Silas; and the very form of the narrative, mentioning this listening, shews subsequent communication between some one of these and the narrator.

Their chains were loosed, not by the earthquake, but by miraculous interference over and above it. It is some satisfaction to find, that neither Meyer, De Wette, nor Kuinoel have attempted to rationalize this wonderful example of the triumph of prayer. See some excellent remarks on Baur’s attempt to do so, in Neander, Pfl. u. L. p. 302, note 3.


Verse 27

27. ἤμελ. ἑαυτ. ἀναιρ.] The law de Custodia Reorum (Wetst.) says, ‘Ad commentariensem receptarum personarum custodia observatioque pertineat, nec putet, hominem abjectum atque vilem objiciendum esse judici, si reus modo aliquo fuerit elapsus. Nam ipsum volumus hujusmodi pœnæ consumi, cui obnoxius docebitur fuisse, qui fugerit.’ Dean Howson notices, by the examples of Cassius, Brutus, Titinius, and many of the proscribed, after the battle,—that Philippi is famous in the annals of suicide (p. 361).


Verse 29

29. φῶτα] Not as E.V., ‘a light,’ but lights, neut. plur.


Verse 30

30. προαγ. αὐτ. ἔξω] Into the outer prison: not perhaps yet outside the prison, which (from ἀναγαγών, Acts 16:34, when he takes them to his own house) seems to have been underground, or at all events on a lower level in the same building. In this same space they seem to have been joined by the jailor’s family,—to have converted and baptized them, and to have been taken (to the well?) and washed from their stripes; and afterwards to have been led up (by stairs? see ref.) to his house, and hospitably entertained. The circumstantiality of the account shews that some eye-witness related it.

His question, connected with the ὁδὸν σωτηρίας of the dæmoniac in Acts 16:17, makes it necessary to infer, as De Wette well observes, that he had previously become acquainted with the subject of their preaching. He wanted no means of escape from any danger but that which was spiritual: the earthquake was past, and his prisoners were all safe. Bengel admirably remarks: ‘Non audierat hymnos Pauli, nam dormierat, sed tamen vel antea vel postea senserat, quis esset Paulus.’


Verse 31

31. ἐπὶ τ. κύριον] Not without allusion to the κύριοι, by which name he had just addressed them. So Bengel: ‘non agnoscunt se dominos.’

Considering who the person was that asked the question,—a heathen in the depths of ignorance and sin,—and how indisputably therefore the answer embraces all sinners whatever,—there perhaps does not stand on record in the whole book a more important answer than this of Paul:—or, I may add, one more strikingly characteristic of the Apostle himself and his teaching. We may remark also, in the face of all attempts to establish a development of St. Paul’s doctrine according to mere external circumstances,—that this reply was given before any one of his extant epistles was written.

καὶ ὁ οἶκός σου does not mean that his faith would save his household,—but that the same way was open to them as to him: ‘Believe, and thou shalt be saved: and the same of thy household.’


Verse 33

33. ἔλουσεν ἀπό] A pregnant construction: ‘washed them, so that they were purified from the blood occasioned by their stripes:’ see reff. This is much more natural than to take ἀπό (as in ἀπὸ τῆς χαρᾶς (ch. Acts 12:14) and the like) as signifying ‘on account of’ (see Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 225).


Verse 34

34.] ἀνα γ., see reff. and note on Acts 16:30.

πεπιστευκώς] Winer renders ‘as one who has placed his trust in God:’ but, as De W. observes, πεπιστευκώς must give the ground of his rejoicing (see 1 Corinthians 14:18 (rec.), εὐχαριστῶλαλῶν, ‘I give thanks … that I speak’). Thus the meaning will be, rejoiced that he with all his house had been led to believe (and thus as a necessary consequence to believe in) God.

The expression πεπιστ. τῷ θεῷ could only be used of a converted heathen, not of a Jew: in ch. Acts 18:8, of a Jew, we have ἐπίστευσεν τῷ κυρίῳ.


Verse 35

35.] What had influenced the magistrates is not recorded. We can hardly suppose that the earthquake alone (as suggested by the addition in D: see digest) would have done so, as they would not have connected it with their prisoners; they may have heard what had taken place: but that, again, is hardly probable. I should rather set it down to calmer thought, repudiating the tumultuary proceeding of the evening before.

ῥαβδούχους] The lictors,—‘bearers of the rods,’ bacilli; which, and not fasces, were carried before the colonial duumviri: see Cicero, de Leg. Agr. ubi supra, on Acts 16:20.


Verse 36

36.] Paul and Silas had returned to the prison: whither the jailor goes, accompanied by the lictors ( ὁ δὲ π. ἔφη πρ. αὐτούς, Acts 16:37), to announce the order.


Verse 37

37.] δημοσίᾳ and λάθρα are opposed: the injury had been public: the reparation, not to Paul and Silas merely, but to the Gospel of which they were the heralds, must be public also.

ἀνθρ. ῥωμ. ὑπάρχ.] By the Lex Valeria, passed A.U.C. 254, 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. The following passages of Cicero illustrate our text: ‘Porcia lex virgas ab omnium civium Romanorum corpore amovit.’ Pro Rabirio, c. 3. ‘Cædebatur virgis in medio foro Messanæ civis Romanus, judices: cum interea nullus gemitus, nulla vox alia istius miseri, inter dolorem crepitumque virgarum audiebatur, nisi hæc: Civis Romanus sum.’ In Verrem, lib. v. 62, 63. ‘Facinus est vinciri civem Romanum; scelus verberari; prope parricidium, necari.’ Ibid. 66. Many others are given by Kuinoel, Biscoe, &c.

On the question, how Paul came to be born a Roman citizen, see note on ch. Acts 22:28; and on ὑπάρχ., note, Acts 16:20.

Another irregularity had been committed by the duumviri, in scourging them uncondemned: ‘causa cognita multi possunt absolvi: incognita quidem condemnari nemo potest.’ Cic. in Verr. i. 9. ‘Inauditi et indefensi tanquam innocenter perierant.’ Tac. Hist. ii. 10.

ἑκβάλλ.] are they thrusting us out? It does not follow, because ἐκβάλλω has no such sense in ch. Acts 9:40, &c., that therefore it has not here. The circumstances must determine; which here seem to require this sense: the ἐκβάλλειν λάθρα having a tinge of degradation in it, as if said of casting out that of which one is ashamed.

οὐ γάρ] An elliptical answer to a question or position, the negative of which is self-evident: see Hartung, Partikellehre, ii. p. 48: Kühner, Gramm. § 741. 6: Hermann on Viger, p. 462. When it occurs with ἀλλά, it is best written without a stop between: cf. Aristoph. Ran. 58: μὴ σκῶπτέ μʼ, ʼ δέλφʼ· οὐ γὰρ ἀλλʼ ἔχω κακῶς:—ib. 193: μὰ τὸν δίʼ οὐ γὰρ (scil. νεναυμάχηκα) ἀλλʼ ἔτυχον ὀφθαλμιῶν, and 499, φέρε δὴ ταχέως αὔτʼ· οὐ γὰρ ἀλλὰ πειστέον.

Mr. Humphry remarks, ‘St. Paul submitted to be scourged by his own countrymen (five times, 2 Corinthians 11:24): for, though he might have pleaded his privilege as a Roman, to the Jews he “became as a Jew,” observing their ceremonies, and submitting to their law.’


Verse 38

38. ἐφοβ.] For the account which they might have to give at Rome, as in Verres’ case, or even for their popularity with the very mob of Roman citizens who had demanded the punishment.


Verse 39

39. παρεκάλεσαν] Not ‘comforted:’ but, as E. V., besought them: viz. not to make their treatment matter of legal complaint. In the request to depart from the city, the prætors seem to shew fear of a change in the temper of the mob. See the curious addition in the var. readd.


Verse 40

40.] They do not depart hastily, or as though forced, but wait to reassure the brethren. πρός has probably been altered to εἰς, on account of the verb, not because λυδίαν was mistaken (Meyer) for the country of that name.

παρεκ.] exhorted, is better than ‘comforted,’ E. V. The one in this case would imply the other.

 


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Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Acts 16:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/acts-16.html. 1863-1878.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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