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Bible Commentaries

The Bible Study New Testament
Acts 16

 

 

Verses 1-3

Paul traveled on to Derbe and Lystra. Compare Acts 14:6-21. A believer named Timothy. Born of a Jewish mother and a Greek father, and had been taught the Scriptures from childhood (2 Timothy 3:15) by his devout mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5). J. G. Malphurs thinks Timothy's father was a "Gentile converted to Judaism," and that he was in the crowd on Pentecost and was baptized into Christ. Timothy's mother and grandmother were Christians as well, and this explains why such devout people had not circumcised Timothy. 1 Corinthians 4:17 shows us that Paul brought Timothy to Christ. Timothy could not have been more than fifteen at that time. Here he is probably sixteen or seventeen. So he circumcised him. Timothy was part Jewish, so Paul did this to prevent trouble with the Jews. Because Timothy was a descendant of Abraham, he could be circumcised as a civil rite. Since circumcision is without meaning (1 Corinthians 7:18-19), this could be done on the principle of 1 Corinthians 9:20. But in the case of Titus, who was a Gentile, the case was different. To have allowed him to be circumcised would have damaged the messianic community (Galatians 2:1-5), At this time Timothy was also "identified" [ordained] (1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6). Compare notes on Acts 13:2-3.


Verse 4-5

As they went through the towns. They delivered the message from the Jerusalem church (Acts 15:23-29) to the churches [groups of believers] in the towns along the way.


Verses 6-10

Through the region of Phrygia and Galatia. McClintock and Strong's Cyclopedia says the Province of Phrygia did not yet exist, but the name referred to the area south of Galatia. In the province of Asia. Ephesus was the capital. The Holy Spirit, also called the Spirit of Jesus, had other plans for them at this time. These other areas were not excluded from the gospel, but Paul's mission was to be in Macedonia. Paul had a vision. This is the way the Holy Spirit's message was communicated to him. Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea were all in Macedonia. We got ready to leave. We are not told they preached in Troas at this time. But a few years later we find a church here (Acts 20:6-12). From here on, Luke speaks as an eyewitness, which implies that he joined Paul and the others at Troas and went with them.


Verse 11-12

And sailed straight across. Samothrace is an island at the half-way point. Neapolis is the seaport, just a few miles from Philippi. A Roman colony. Emperor Augustus had planted this colony. It was a miniature Rome, with its own government. Note the apostles planted the Good News FIRST in the population centers, from which it would be taken home to the rural areas.


Verses 13-15

To the riverside. The Gangas, a small river. A Jewish place for prayer. Evidently, there was no synagogue. A few devout Jews, mostly women, met on the river banks to worship God. And talked to the women. Some of these may have been "Gentiles converted to Judaism." Lydia is a Greek name. Thyatira is in the province of Asia, some hundreds of miles distant. Purple goods were valuable luxury items. Since Thyatira was a Macedonian colony. Lydia may have had relatives here in Philippi. And the Lord opened her mind. "The Holy Spirit produces faith through the message." To open is the Lord's part; to pay attention was her part (Romans 10:17). Compare Ephesians 1:18 : Acts 17:3. Were baptized. This was always done immediately. Early Christians viewed baptism as participating in the death of Christ (see note on Colossians 2:12). The people of her house would be her servants and friends. She was a business woman who sold purple goods, therefore wealthy. Then she invited us. This is an offer of support. Paul did not usually take financial help from his converts (Acts 20:33; 2 Corinthians 12:17), but this time he was persuaded (compare Luke 8:1-3).


Verses 16-18

We were met by a slave girl. She was possessed by a demon, who gave her supernatural abilities. These men are servants. The demon knew who they were (James 2:19). Compare Mark 3:12; Luke 4:34-35. In the name of Jesus Christ. Compare Mark 16:17; Acts 19:13-16.


Verses 19-22

They grabbed Paul and Silas. Nothing angers men more than seeing their greed defeated. These men are Jews. That fact alone would incriminate them. Compare Acts 18:2 and note. Tore the clothes off. It was the custom to strip convicted prisoners and whip the bare body.


Verse 23-24

After a severe beating. The Law of Moses regulated whipping (Deuteronomy 25:3; 2 Corinthians 11:24). Romans had no such restriction. The inner cell. A damp cell, with no source of light, used for "solitary confinement."


Verses 25-28

About midnight. Note they were praying and singing in spite of their physical condition and the place where they were! Suddenly there was a violent earthquake. This was God's answer. Compare Acts 4:31; Acts 5:19. And was about to kill himself. Guards who allowed prisoners to escape forfeited their own lives (Acts 12:19). A Roman would commit suicide under these circumstances. But Paul shouted. Paul could see out of the darkness through the now opened doors. He and Silas were still there, and the other prisoners were probably too shocked to move.


Verses 29-34

And fell trembling. He is convinced they are under divine protection! What must I do? Paul's answer to this question shows the jailer knew they preached a new religion. Believe in the Lord Jesus. This was the point of beginning for this man. To those who already believed, Peter said "repent and be baptized" (Acts 2:38). To one who already believed and had repented, Ananias said "be baptized" (Acts 22:16). Faith reaches out to God (compare Hebrews 11:4). You and your family. This does not mean the family would be saved as a unit. The same WAY open to him, was also open to them. Then they preached the word. They could not believe what they did not know. Paul presents the Good News of God's act in Christ to set men free. This implies all who heard could understand and believe, And washed off their wounds. They were covered with blood, dust, and bruises. Howson thinks they were washed in a large tank or reservoir in the prison courtyard, which was kept full by rainwater from the roof. Were baptized at once. Paul and Silas Were washed from fleshly wounds; the jailer and his family were washed from the deeper wounds and stains of sin (compare Titus 3:4-5; 1 Peter 3:21). [No trace of the baptism of infant children of Christians is found in the New Testament.] Up into his house. The house may have been built on the wall above the prison. This shows his thankfulness. Were filled with Joy. The joy of the Holy Spirit which followed his baptism. Although the text of Acts 16:34 speaks directly of the jailer, Acts 16:33 shows they had all believed and been baptized.


Verses 35-40

The Roman authorities. It may have been fear of the earthquake, or "second-thoughts" about their cruel treatment of "holy men" which influenced them to order the release. But Paul said. Roman law said no Roman citizen could be whipped or tortured. Paul makes an issue of this, probably to benefit the church at Philippi. Paul was born a Roman citizen. (Acts 22:25-29). He did not hesitate to call on the Roman government to help him, when it would promote the cause of Christ to do so. And when they heard. Paul could have demanded their punishment and dismissal. And went to Lydia's house. The small group of believers was meeting there. Later they would become a large group, and Paul would address a letter to them. And left. They go on to Thessalonica. Philippi was the first place (so far as we know) in Europe where the gospel was preached; the first one to obey the truth was a woman; the preachers of the Good News were severely beaten and jailed; but through God's grace and power, a great victory was won. This young church sent aid to Paul at Thessalonica (Philippians 4:15-16).

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Acts 16:4". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/acts-16.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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