Home First
Covenant
Second
Covenant
Topical
Studies
Table of
Contents

 


ACTS
The continued Life of Jesus through the Apostles

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

Key Verse = Acts 16:25

  1. Timothy Joins Paul 4. Paul & Silas Imprisoned at Philippi
  2. The Call to Macedonia 5. The Philippian Jailer Saved
  3. Lydia Baptized at Philippi    



TIMOTHY  JOINS  PAUL

Top
Next Section


Acts 16:1 & 2
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(1)  Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek.

Then he arrived at the city of Derbe and Lystra; there was there a disciple whose name was Timothy, the son of a Jewess convert, but whose father was an Aramean.

(2)  He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium.

And all the disciples of Lystra and Iconium gave good testimony concerning him.


He came to Derbe and Lystra
See the notes on Acts 14:6 and 14:20

Paul and Silas approached their destination from the east so they came first to Derbe and then to Lystra, just the reverse of the first journey (Acts 14:6-20).  The preachers went from church to church, delivering the decrees and helping establish the believers in the faith.  It was certainly a most successful tour, but I wonder if any of the believers asked about Barnabas?  And what did Paul tell them?
(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

Timothy
Greek: Timótheos -
The first of Paul's missionary journeys reached its furthest limit at Lystra -- the most uncivilized place he ever visited. Even here, however, he left a Church which he now found standing steadfast, and among its members a youth of peculiar promise, who bore the now famous name of Timothy.
(from The Biblical Illustrator Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2006 Ages Software, Inc. and Biblesoft, Inc.)
At this time Timothy must have been very young; for, several years after, when appointed to superintend the church at Crete, he appears to have been then so young that there was a danger of its operating to the prejudice of his ministry: 1 Timothy 4:12 ( "Let no one despise your youth").  This occurred approximately 51 AD, so it was at lease 10 years or more after this that 1 Timothy was written.
Young Timothy undoubtedly witnessed Paul's sufferings in Lystra (Acts 14:19-20; 2 Timothy 3:10-11) and was drawn by the Lord to the apostle. Timothy was Paul's favorite companion and coworker (Philippians 2:19-23), perhaps the son Paul never had but always wanted.
(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

A certain Jewish woman
This is Eunice, and his grandmother was Lois (2 Timothy 1:5).
His mother and grandmother were evidently converted on Paul’s first trip (Acts 14:6, 7) for Paul calls him his "son in the faith" (1 Timothy 1:2).
Since his mother was a Jewess he was trained in the Old Testament from childhood (2 Timothy 3:15  " and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures"),  but his father was Greek, so he was uncircumcised.
On his mother's side Timothy was a Jew.  Both his mother and grandmother were devout,  and it is therefore surprising that "his father was a Greek," and probably a heathen. Mixed marriages were held in horror by orthodox Jews.  At Lystra,  however,  Jews were  few,  and the rigor of custom must have been relaxed.
Ramsay says ‘that in Phrygia the Jews married into the dominant families.’

Well spoken of
Emartureito (NT:3140) -  Imperfect passive.
It was a continuous witness that was borne the young disciple. Already he had so borne himself that his gifts and graces for the ministry were recognized.
(from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament. Copyright © 1985 by Broadman Press.)

He was a young man, possibly in his early teens, yet was of such character that he was well spoken of, now only in his home town among friends and family, but as far away as Iconium.

From the Amplified Bible
(1)  And [Paul] went down to Derbe and also to Lystra. A disciple named Timothy was there, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer [she had become convinced that Jesus is the Messiah and the Author of eternal salvation, and yielded obedience to Him]; but [Timothy's] father was a Greek.
(2)  He [Timothy] had a good reputation among the brethren at Lystra and Iconium.

Acts 16:3
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(3)  Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek.

Paul wanted to take this man with him, so he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region; for they all knew that his father was an Aramean.


Circumcised him
Paul had two sufficient reasons for circumcising Timothy before inducting him into the ministry:
1. The chief reason was that as an uncircumcised Jew Timothy could not be admitted into the synagogues, nor listened to with respect by the unconverted Jews.
2. Besides this positive necessity, the principle was compromised in the case of Timothy. Further, Paul was willing to avail himself of this opportunity to correct certain misrepresentations that his enemies had made against him – that he had despised and blasphemed the Law of Moses.
It is to be noted that Paul’s refusal to circumcise Titus while at Jerusalem (Gal. 2:3-5), was perfectly consistent with his action here. For Titus was a Greek – a heathen born; with no claim to the Jewish rite or privilege. Those who demanded his circumcision did it upon the express grounds that the Gentiles must become Jews before they could become Christians.
(From Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

Timothy's circumcision had nothing to do with salvation (Galatians 2:1-4). This was not an act of disobedience toward the council (Acts 15:1 ff). Rather, it was done to remove a stumbling block from the Jews to whom Paul and Timothy would be ministering.

Being the son of a Gentile father and Jewish mother, Timothy did not have to be circumcised;

but being a child of God, he wanted to do nothing that would cause the Jews to stumble.

(from Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the New Testament. Copyright © 1992 by Chariot Victor Publishing, an imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved.)

The Jewish New Testament Commentary has:
Legal responsibilities and entitlements
are passed from father to son
(see Matthew 1:1 ff on “Son of” and “Son of Avraham,” Matthew 1:24-25, Luke 3:23-38)
Jewish and non-Jewish descent
are invariably traced through the mother, not the father
The child of a Jewish mother and a Gentile father is Jewish (as far as descent is concerned)
The child of a Gentile mother and a Jewish father is Gentile
If a Gentile woman converts to Judaism, she is a Jew, and her subsequent children are likewise Jewish.
Among the supportive biblical passages is Ezra 10:2-3:
“And Shechanyah...answered Ezra, ‘We have trespassed against our God and taken foreign wives from the people living in the Land....So, let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives and such as are born to them....’”
The phrase,  “and such as are born to them,”  implies that the children of Jewish fathers and Gentile mothers are Gentiles and not Jews; otherwise they would not be excluded from the Jewish people in this covenant.
(from Jewish New Testament Commentary Copyright © 1992 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)
 
It in case of Titus Paul was intolerant in defense of vital principles and refused to have Titus (a Gentile convert) circumcised.
In the case of Timothy Paul was tolerant of mere prejudices, that he might help the more effectually to remove them.
 
1 Corinthians 9:19-23
I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.      (NKJV)

From the Amplified Bible
(3)  Paul desired Timothy to go with him [as a missionary]; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews that were in those places, all of whom knew that his father was a Greek.

 Acts 16:4 & 5
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(4)  And as they went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem.

And as they went through the cities, they preached and taught the people to obey the decrees which the apostles and elders had written at Jerusalem.

(5)  So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily.

And so the churches were established in the faith, and increased in number daily.


As they went through the cities
The cities of Syria, Cilicia, etc.
Delivered
Paredidosan (NT:3860)   Imperfect active,  kept on delivering to them in city after city.
Decrees
Dogmata (NT:1378)   To give an opinion. It is used of
Public decrees of rulers (Luke 2:1; Acts 17:7) - "A decree from Caesar Augustus"
Requirements of the Mosaic law (Colossians 2:14) - "handwriting of requirements"
Regulations or conclusions of the Jerusalem Conference (Acts 16:4)
To keep
Fulassein (NT:5442)   This present active infinitive likewise accents that it is a charter of liberty for continual living, not a temporary compromise.
Determined
Kekrimena (NT:2919)  Perfect passive - to judge, emphasizing the permanence of the conclusions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem.
(from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament. Copyright © 1985 by Broadman Press.)

The decrees
The decrees in regard to the four things specified in Acts 15:20, 29.
It properly means a law or edict of a king or legislature. In this instance it was the decision of the council in a case submitted to it, and implied an obligation on the Christians to submit to that decision, since they had submitted the matter to them. The same principles, also, would be applicable everywhere, and the decision, therefore, at Jerusalem became conclusive. It is probable that a correct and attested copy of the letter (Acts 15:23-29) would be sent to the various churches of the Gentiles.

Strengthened in Faith - Increased in Number - DAILY
The close of the 10th great attempt of Satan to destroy the new Church in the book of Acts.

Strengthened = estereounto (NT:4732)
"They were made firm in the faith,"   The word is used in its physical sense in Acts 3:7,  "His feet and anklebones received strength," became fast and firm instead of being loose and vacillating.
(from The Pulpit Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

The churches were hereby established in the faith.  They were confirmed particularly in their opinion against the imposing of the ceremonial law upon the Gentiles; the great assurance and heat wherewith the judaizing teachers pressed the necessity of circumcision, and the plausible arguments they produced for it, had shocked them, so that they began to waver concerning it. But when they saw the testimony, not only of the apostles and elders, but of the Holy Ghost in them, against it, they were established, and did not longer waver about it.
(from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible, PC Study Bible Formatted Electronic Database Copyright © 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All Rights reserved.)

But being strengthened, or established was only half of the story - they also increased daily, which is the sign of a truly healthy body.

The blessing of God was on the work of Paul, Silas, and Timothy in the form of a continuous revival.
(from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament. Copyright © 1985 by Broadman Press.)

From the Amplified Bible
(5)  So the churches were strengthened and made firm in the faith, and they increased in number day after day.



THE  CALL  TO  MACEDONIA

Top
Next Section
Previous Section


Acts 16:6-8
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(6)  Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.

Then they traveled through the countries of Phrygia and Galatia, and the Holy Spirit forbade them to speak the word of God in Asia Minor.

(7)  After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.

And when they came to the country of Mysia, they wanted to go from thence to Bithynia; but the spirit of Jesus permitted them not.

(8)  So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas.

And when they had left Mysia, they came to the country of Troas.


Phrygia
This was the largest province of Asia Minor. It had Bithynia north; Pisidia and Lycia south; Galatia and Cappadocia east; and Lydia and Mysia west.

Region of Galatia
This province was directly east of Phrygia. The region was formerly conquered by the Gauls. They settled in it, and called it, after their own name, Galatia. The Gauls invaded the country at different times, and no less than three tribes or bodies of Gauls had possession of it. Many Jews were also settled there. It was from this cause that so many parties could be formed there, and that so much controversy would arise between the Jewish and Gentile converts. See the Epistle to the Galatians.

Asia
This was doubtless the region of proconsular Asia. It was also called Ionia. Of this region Ephesus was the capital; and here were situated also the cities of Smyrna, Thyatira, Philadelphia, etc., within which the seven churches mentioned in Rev 1-3 were established. Cicero speaks of proconsular Asia as containing the provinces of Phrygia, Mysia, Carla, and Lydia. In this entire region the gospel was afterward preached with great success. But now a more important and a wider field was opened before Paul in the extensive country of Macedonia.
(See also Acts 2:9)

Mysia - Bythinia
Mysia A country in the northwestern part of Asia Minor, which formed an important part of the Roman province of Asia. Though its boundaries were always vague, it may be said to have extended on the North to the Sea of Marmora on the East to Bithynia and Phrygia, on the South to Lydia, and on the West to Hellespont. According to some authors it included the Troad. Its history is chiefly that of important cities, of which Assos, Troas, and Adramyttium on the border of Lydia, are mentioned in the New Testament. When Mysia became a part of the Roman province of Asia in 190 B.C., its old name fell into disuse, and it was then generally known as the Hellespontus.
(from International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Electronic Database Copyright © 1996, 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)
Bythinia A coast province in northwestern Asia Minor on the Propontis and the Euxine. Its narrowest compass included the districts on both sides of the Sangarius, its one large river, but in prosperous times its boundaries reached from the Rhyndacus on the west to and beyond the Parthenius on the east. The Mysian Olympus rose in grandeur to a height of 6,400 ft. in the southwest, and in general the face of Nature was wrinkled with rugged mountains and seamed with fertile valleys sloping toward the Black Sea.
(from International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Electronic Database Copyright © 1996, 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)
  This region was eventually evangelized.  The letters of Pliny to the emperor Trajan show that the presence of so many Christians in the province embarrassed him, and Peter included them in his first letter (1 Peter 1:1 "To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,").

Forbidden - the Spirit did not permit them
vs. 6 forbidden kooluthéntes (NT:2967) prevent, hinder
vs. 7 did not permit ouk  eíasen (NT:3756 & 1439)  not allow
The Greek verbs in question are different (one is positive and the other negative), but the meaning is essentially the same and should be handled in the same general manner.
(from the UBS New Testament Handbook Series. Copyright © 1961-1997, by United Bible Societies.)

The Greek word used for forbidden appears 23 times in the NT.  Its meaning in most cases is hinder,  occasionally with the nuance oppose (someone) or place an obstacle in the way (of someone).
(from Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament © 1990 by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. All rights reserved.)

This suggests 3 questions:
First Question - How did the Spirit forbid him and not allow him to go in the direction he chose?
Answer - We don't know.
God does not tell us how He communicated this to Paul.  All we are told is that when Paul first tried to go to Phrygia and Galatia, he was forbidden, and then when he tried to into Bythinia he was not allowed.
  The Bible Knowledge Commentary suggests that it may have been circumstances, a word of prophecy, a vision, or some other phenomenon.
Second Question - Why did the Spirit forbid him and not allow him to go in the direction he chose?
Answer - We don't know.
God does not tell us why He did not want Paul to go to Phrygia, Galatia or Bythinia..  All we are told is that He did not let Paul go in these directions.
  Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary suggests that probably,  first,  because Europe was ripe for the labors of our missionary party; and,  secondly,  because other instruments were to have the honor of establishing the Gospel in the eastern regions of Asia Minor-especially the apostle Peter, if we may gather so much from 1 Peter 1:1.
Third Question - Why didn't the Spirit of Jesus tell Paul where he should go?
Answer - We don't know.
God does not tell us why He didn't give Paul any positive direction to tell him where to go.
  However, we are given some "hints" throughout Scripture that helps us understand this point.
  This trip began with a severe unresolved falling out between Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:39-41).  Jesus said in Matthew 5:23-24  "if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift."
  Paul later spoke of his ministry and service as a drink offering.
First in Philippians 2:17-18  "I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith"
And again in 2 Timothy 4:6-7  "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering."
  And finally, he later realized what a hindrance to the Gospel and the believer's life this kind of strife can cause, and he said in Philippians 4:2-3  "I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel."
It must have been disappointing as well as humiliating for Paul to set out with his new protégé and each time he went in a new direction, they were not allowed, but not told directly where to go.  And he could not go south, because Barnabas was there.  So he went in the only direction left - toward Troas.

Troas
A seaport of Mysia, founded by Antigonus, one of Alexander’s successors who called it Antigonia. After his death his opponent Lysimachus, king of Thrace, altered its name to Alexandria, and Troas was added to distinguish it from Alexandria in Egypt (because it was in the region around Troy).

This was a city of Phrygia or Mysia, on the Hellespont, between Troy north, and Assos south. Sometimes the name Troas or Troad is used to denote the WHOLE country of the Trojans, the province where the ancient city of Troy had stood. This region was much celebrated in the early periods of Grecian history. It was here that the events recorded in the Iliad of Homer are supposed to have occurred. The city of Troy has long since been completely destroyed. Troas is several times mentioned in the New Testament, 2 Corinthians 2:12; 2 Timothy 4:13; Acts 20:5.

From the Amplified Bible
(6)  And Paul and Silas passed through the territory of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Word in [the province of] Asia.
(7)  And when they had come opposite Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them.
(8)  So passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.

Acts 16:9 & 10
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(9)  And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us."

And, in a vision of the night, there appeared to Paul a man resembling a Macedonian, standing and begging him, saying, Come over to Macedonia and help us.

(10)  Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.

And after Paul had seen this vision, we were desirous to leave for Macedonia at once, because we understood that our Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.


A vision
Horama (NT:3705) something gazed at, i.e. a spectacle.

This word means "what is to be seen," "spectacle," "appearance," "vision."
The LXX uses it 43 times,  often for "vision" (cf. Daniel).
In the New Testament it occurs in Matthew 17:9 for what the disciples have seen at the transfiguration.  In ten instances in Acts (9:10,12; 10:3,17,19; 11:5; 12:9; 16:9-10; 18:9) it means "vision."
(from Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, abridged edition, Copyright © 1985 by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. All rights reserved.)

Some have suggested that this was actually a dream, since it was during the night.  However, if it had been a dream, the word "enupniazomai" would most likely have been used as in Acts 2:17: "Your young men shall see visions (horama),  your old men shall dream dreams (enupniazomai)."

Macedonia
A country lying immediately to the north of Greece. It was previously a prominent kingdom of ancient Greece, and its cities had not received the culture of Athens, or shared the commercial prosperity of Corinth.

Macedonia had been a Roman province since 146 B.C.  It was strategically more important to Rome than Achaea (most of Greece) was,  because it was the link between Rome and the whole eastern part of the empire along the Via Egnatia (the Egnatian Way), a road originally constructed about 148 B.C.  The narrow body of water between Troas and Thrace was the famous divider of Asia and Europe . Because deities in Greek religion used visions to send people on missions, even unconverted Gentile readers would understand Luke's point here.
(from IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.)

It is supposed that it was populated by Kittim, son of Javan, Gen 10:4.  The kingdom rose into celebrity chiefly under the reign of Philip and his son, Alexander the Great.  It was the first region in Europe in which we have any record that the gospel was preached.

Help us
That is, by preaching the gospel.  This was a call to preach the gospel in an extensive pagan land, amid many trials and dangers.  To this call, notwithstanding all this prospect of danger, Paul and Silas cheerfully responded, and gave themselves to the work.  Their conduct was thus an example to the church.  From all portions of the earth a similar call is now coming to the churches.  Openings of a similar character for the introduction of the gospel are presented in all lands.  Appeals are coming from every quarter, and all that seems now necessary for the speedy conversion of the world is for the church to enter into these vast fields with the self-denial, the spirit, and the zeal which characterized the apostle Paul.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

We sought to go
Here is the first of the “we” sections of the book of Acts.
Whether Luke was practicing as a physician in Troas at the time or was there for some other purpose we have no means of discovering; at any rate, he joined Paul, Silas and Timothy and went over to Macedonia with them, for, as he says, when Paul related the vision to his companions, “immediately WE sought to go on into Macedonia … concluding that the Lord had called US to preach…”

From the Amplified Bible
(9)    [There] a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man from Macedonia stood pleading with him and saying, Come over to Macedonia and help us!
(10)  And when he had seen the vision, we [including Luke] at once endeavored to go on into Macedonia, confidently inferring that God had called us to proclaim the glad tidings (Gospel) to them.



LYDIA  BAPTIZED  AT  PHILIPPI

Top
Next Section
Previous Section


Acts 16:11 & 12
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(11)  Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and the next day came to Neapolis,

When we sailed from Troas, we came in a direct course to Samothracia, and from thence on the following day, we came to the city Neapolis;

(12)  and from there to Philippi, which is the foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony. And we were staying in that city for some days.

And from thence to Philippi, which is the capital of Macedonia, and is a colony; and we were in that city on certain holidays.


Samothrace
An island of the Aegean Sea, contiguous to Thrace, and hence, called Samothracia, or the Thracian Samos.  It was a mountainous island, rising to 5,000 feet, which forms a conspicuous landmark.  In religious history the chief importance of Samothrace is the fact that it was the seat of the famous mystery cult, the worship of the Cabiri.  It was about 20 miles in circumference, and was an asylum for fugitives and criminals.

The next day - The wind was favorable for the voyage across the north Aegean, and they finished it in two days, (the reverse journey from Neapolis to Troas, recorded in Acts 20:6, took 5 days).

Neapolis
There were many cities of this name; but this was a sea-port town of Macedonia, a few miles eastward of Philippi.  It was about 10 miles from Philippi.

Philippi
Foremost city
Thessalonica, not Philippi, was Macedonia's capital, but Philippi was considered in the "first part" or "first district" (TEV) of Macedonia, which was divided into four districts.
Philippi was also a "first" or "leading" city of the province in the sense that it was one of the most eminent there (alongside Thessalonica).
(from IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.)
Colony
In ancient times the site was in a gold mining area. After 400 B.C., Philip II of Macedon seized the mines, fortified the city, and named it for himself.  Philippi, along with the rest of Macedonia, came under Roman control after 200 B.C. In 42 B.C., Philippi was the site of a decisive battle that sealed the fate of Rome as a republic and set the stage for the establishment of an empire.  The forces of Octavian (later to be Augustus Caesar, the first emperor) and Antony defeated the army of Brutus and Cassius . In honor of the victory, Antony settled some Roman soldiers there and made Philippi a Roman colony.  After defeating Antony at the Battle of Actium in 31 B.C., the victorious Octavian dispossessed the supporters of Antony from Italy, but he allowed them to settle in places like Philippi.  Octavian refounded Philippi as a Roman colony.
(from Holman Bible Dictionary. Copyright © 1991 by Holman Bible Publishers. All rights reserved.)
Philippi was a Roman colony, Which meant that it was a "Rome away from Rome."  The emperor organized "colonies" by ordering Roman citizens, especially retired military people, to live in selected places so there would be strong pro-Roman cities in these strategic areas.  Though living on foreign soil, the citizens were expected to be loyal to Rome, to obey the laws of Rome, and to give honor to the Roman emperor.  In return, they were given certain political privileges, not the least of which was exemption from taxes.  This was their reward for leaving their homes in Italy and relocating elsewhere.
(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)
And a (Roman) colony - that is, possessing all the privileges of Roman citizenship, and, as such, both exempted from scourging and (in ordinary cases) from arrest, and entitled to appeal from the local magistrate to the emperor.
(from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Staying...for some days
Diatriboo (NT:1304) - to pass time

Reconnoitering the ground and waiting until the Sabbath should come round. As their rule was to begin with the Jews and religious proselytes, they would have nothing probably to do until the time when they knew that they would convene for public worship.
(from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

From the Amplified Bible
(11)  Therefore, setting sail from Troas, we came in a direct course to Samothrace, and the next day went on to Neapolis.
(12)  And from there [we came] to Philippi, which is the chief city of the district of Macedonia and a [Roman] colony. We stayed on in this place some days;

Acts 16:13-15
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(13)  And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there.

And on the sabbath day we went outside the city gate to the river side because a house of prayer was seen there, and when we were seated, we spoke to the women who had gathered there.

(14)  Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.

And a certain woman, named Lydia, a seller of purple of the city of Thyatira, feared God; her heart was so touched by our Lord that she listened to what Paul said.

(15)  And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." So she persuaded us.

And she was baptized together with her household, and she begged us, saying, If you are sincerely convinced that I believe in our Lord, come and stay in my house; and she urged us strongly.


The Greek words “proseucheén einai” mean “where a prayer-place was”;  here it is translated “where a minyan met.” Proseucheén often denotes a synagogue building, and synagogues were frequently built by running water in order to eliminate the need for constructing a mikveh for ritual immersion.  But in this instance there is reason to suppose that there was no synagogue at the river's edge.  For when the Roman Emperor Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome (18:2&N), the Roman-controlled city of Philippi followed suit.  In consequence, it is likely that a few Jews passed over by the expulsion order, along with other Jews who formerly lived in Philippi but now lived outside it nearby, did not have a building in which to meet and instead gathered together at the river's edge.  A minyan (“quorum” of ten men) would have been enough for a regular synagogue service, and a modified version of the service could proceed with fewer men, or even with no men and only women, as is the case here, since Sha’ul and his companions spoke to the women who had gathered there.
(from Jewish New Testament Commentary Copyright © 1992 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

Paul and his friends did not plunge immediately into evangelizing the city, even though they knew God had called them there. No doubt they needed to rest and pray and make their plans together.

It is not enough to know where God wants us to work;

we must also know when and how He wants us to work.


Paul had seen a man in the vision at Troas, but here he was ministering to a group of women!  "It is better that the words of the Law be burned than be delivered to a woman!" said the rabbis;  but that was no longer Paul's philosophy.  He had been obedient and the Lord had gone before to prepare the way.
(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

Lydia
A seller of purple
The name "Lydia," though common, would be especially natural for a woman from Thyatira, which was in the region of ancient Lydia. Thyatira was known for its dyers' guilds and textiles, and inscriptions show that other Thyatiran business agents also sold purple dye in Macedonia, becoming prosperous (although Macedonians, like inhabitants of most of the Empire, were generally poor, Macedonia had historically been one of the more prosperous provinces). Her name and trade may indicate that she was a *freedwoman (former slave); many traders in purple dye were freedwomen who continued to work as agents of their former masters' businesses.
(from IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.)
The art of dyeing was early cultivated in the neighborhood of Thyatira, as we learn from Homer (Iliad, iv. 141), and as is confirmed by in inscriptions found in that city - a circumstance which may be referred to as confirming the veracity of the statements of Luke even in his casual allusions.  Several of these inscriptions have been published. See the Life and Epistles of Paul, i. 295.

From Thyatira
Lydia was a successful businesswoman from Thyatira, a city renowned for its purple dye. She probably was in charge of a branch office of her guild in Philippi. God brought her all the way to Greece so that she might hear the Gospel and be converted.
(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)
A city of the province of Lydia in western Asia Minor (modern Turkey) situated on the road from Pergamos to Sardis. The city was on the southern bank of the Lycus River, a branch of the Hermus River.
Although never a large city, Thyatira was a thriving manufacturing and commercial center during New Testament times. Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of many trade guilds and unions here. Membership in these trade guilds, necessary for financial and social success, often involved pagan customs and practices such as superstitious worship, union feasts using food sacrificed to pagan gods, and loose sexual morality.
The Book of Revelation refers to a certain woman known as "Jezebel" who taught and beguiled the Christians at Thyatira to conform to the paganism and sexual immorality of their surroundings (Revelation 2:18-29).
(from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright © 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

Worshipped God
She was "a worshiper of God," a Gentile who was not a full Jewish proselyte but who openly worshiped with the Jews. She was seeking truth.
(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)
Paul’s first convert in Europe was from Thyatira, a city in the very province (Lydia) of Asia Minor to which the Spirit of the Lord forbade him to go.

The Lord opened her heart
Dianoigo  (NT:1272) to open up completely, thoroughly open
Again Luke stressed the sovereignty of God in salvation (cf. Acts 13:48).
Observe here,
(1) The author of this work:
it was the Lord, — the Lord Christ, to whom this judgment is committed,—the Spirit of the Lord, who is the sanctifier.  Note, Conversion-work is God's work; it is he that works in us both to will and to do (Philippians 2:13);  not as if we had nothing to do, but ... without God's grace, we can do nothing.
(2) The seat of this work:
it is in the heart that the change is made, it is to the heart that this blessed turn is given; it was the heart of Lydia that was wrought upon. Conversion-work is heart-work; it is a renewing of the heart, the inward man, the spirit of the mind.
(3) The nature of the work:
she had not only her heart touched, but her heart opened. An unconverted soul is shut up, and fortified against Christ, straightly shut up, as Jericho against Joshua, Joshua 6:1.  Christ, in dealing with the soul, knocks at the door that is shut against him (Revelation 3:20);  and, when a sinner is effectually persuaded to embrace Christ, then the heart is opened for the King of glory to come in — the understanding is open to receive the divine light, the will opened to receive the divine law, and the affections opened to receive the divine love. When the heart is thus opened to Christ, the ear is opened to his word, the lips opened in prayer, the hand opened in charity, and the steps enlarged in all manner of gospel obedience.
(from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible, PC Study Bible Formatted Electronic Database Copyright © 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All Rights reserved.)

She was baptized
Apparently without any delay.  Compare Acts 2:41; 8:38.  It was usual to be baptized immediately on believing.

And her household
Oikos  (NT:3624)  the family consisting of those related by blood and marriage, as well as slaves and servants, living in the same house or homestead.
(from Greek-English Lexicon Based on Semantic Domain. Copyright © 1988 United Bible Societies, New York. Used by permission.)
Lydia was then baptized, apparently soon after her faith in Christ. The members of her household probably refer to servants as well as to her children, if she was a widow. Other persons in the New Testament who along with their "household" members came to Christ include
Cornelius (Acts 10:24,44) In Caesarea
Philippian jailer (Acts 16:31) In Philippi
Crispus (Acts 18:8) In Corinth
Aristobulus (Romans 16:10) In Rome
Narcissus (Romans 16:11) In Rome
Stephanas (1 Corinthians 1:16) In Achaia
(from Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament Copyright © 1983, 2000 Cook Communications Ministries. All rights reserved.)

She persuaded us
Paul and his companions may have been staying at an inn till the sabbath, but Lydia immediately offers the proper Jewish hospitality and invites the apostles into her home, thus serving as a patron of their work (cf. 1 Kings 17:13-24; especially 2 Kings 4:8-11). She appears to be the head of a household consisting mainly of servants, but it is also possible that she is married to a husband who simply leaves her religious activities alone (contrast the usual custom in Acts 16:31-32; cf. 2 Kings 4:8-23).
(from IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.)

From the Amplified Bible
(13)  And on the Sabbath day we went outside the [city's] gate to the bank of the river where we supposed there was an [accustomed] place of prayer, and we sat down and addressed the women who had assembled there.
(14)  One of those who listened to us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a dealer in fabrics dyed in purple. She was [already] a worshiper of God, and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.
(15)  And when she was baptized along with her household, she earnestly entreated us, saying, If in your opinion I am one really convinced [that Jesus is the Messiah and the Author of salvation] and that I will be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay. And she induced us [to do it].



PAUL  &  SILAS  IMPRISONED  AT  PHILIPPI

Top
Next Section
Previous Section

Acts 16:16 & 17
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(16)  Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling.

And it came to pass, as we went to the house of prayer, we were met by a young girl who was possessed of a spirit, and who brought her masters great gain by fortunetelling.

(17)  This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, "These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation."

And she followed Paul and us, crying and saying, These men are the servants of the Most High God, and they preach to you the way of salvation.


As we went to prayer
Greek: as we were going to the proseuche, 'the place of prayer, Acts 16:13. Whether this was on the same day in which the conversion of Lydia occurred, or at another time, is not mentioned by the historian.

Spirit of divination

Literally “a spirit, a Python,” or “a Pythoness.”

She is described by Luke as a “pythoness,” i.e. as a person inspired by Apollo, the god particularly associated with the giving of oracles, who was worshipped as the “Python” god at the oracular shrine of Delphi (otherwise called Pytho) in central Greece.  Her involuntary utterances were regarded as the voice of the god, and she was thus much in demand by people who wished to have their fortunes told.

Python, or Pythios, was one of the names of Apollo, the Grecian god of the fine arts, of music, poetry, medicine, and eloquence. Of these he was esteemed to have been the inventor. He was reputed to be the third son of Jupiter and Latona. He had a celebrated temple and oracle at Delphi, which was resorted to from all parts of the world, and which was perhaps the only oracle that was in universal repute. The name Python is said to have been given him because, as soon as he was born, he destroyed with arrows a serpent of that name that had been sent by Juno to persecute Latona; hence, his common name was the Pythian Apollo.

He had temples on Mount Parnassus, at Delphi, Delos, Claros, Tenedos, etc., and his worship was almost universal. In the celebrated oracle at Delphi, the priestess of Apollo pretended to be inspired; became violently agitated during the periods of pretended inspiration; and during those periods gave such responses to inquirers as were regarded as the oracles of the god. Others, it is probable, would also make pretensions to such inspiration; and the art of fortune-telling, or of jugglery, was extensively practiced, and was the source of much gain. See the notes on Acts 8:8-10. What was the cause of this extensive delusion in regard to the oracle at Delphi it is not necessary now to inquire. It is plain that Paul regarded this as a case of demoniacal possession, and treated it accordingly.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Literally, "a spirit, a Python." Python, in the Greek mythology, was the serpent which guarded Delphi. According to the legend, as related in the Homeric hymn, Apollo descended from Olympus in order to select a site for his shrine and oracle. Having fixed upon a spot on the southern side of Mount Parnassus, he found it guarded by a vast and terrific serpent, which he slew with an arrow, and suffered its body to rot (puthein) in the sun. Hence, the name of the serpent Python (rotting); Pytho, the name of the place, and the epithet Pythian, applied to Apollo.

The name Python was subsequently used to denote a prophetic demon,
and was also used of soothsayers who practiced ventriloquism, or speaking from the belly.
(from Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Fortune-telling
Manteuomai (NT:3132) - The word is allied to mainomai, "to rave," and mania, "fury" displayed by those who were possessed by the evil spirit (represented by the pagan god or goddess) while delivering their oracular messages.
(from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

Followed Paul
Why she did this, or under what presence, the sacred writer has not informed us. It may have been:
(1) That as she prophesied for gain, she supposed that Paul and Silas would reward her if she publicly proclaimed that they were the servants of God. Or,
(2) Because she was conscious that an evil spirit possessed her, and she feared that Paul and Silas would expel that spirit, and by proclaiming them to be the servants of God she hoped to conciliate their favor. Or,
(3) More probably it was because she saw evident tokens of their being sent from God, and that their doctrine would prevail; and by proclaiming this she hoped to acquire more authority, and a higher reputation for being herself inspired. Compare Mark 5:7.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Servants
Doulos (NT:1401) Slave
Pertaining to a state of being completely controlled by someone or something - 'subservient to, controlled by.'
(from Greek-English Lexicon Based on Semantic Domain. Copyright © 1988 United Bible Societies, New York. Used by permission.)

Most High God
A common designation for God in Jewish texts but also occurs in pagan sources for Zeus or for the Jewish God with whom pagans sometimes identified Zeus. Magical texts show that pagans respected this supreme God, typically identified with the Jewish God, as the most powerful.
:
The title “Most High God" was one which provided Jews and Gentiles with a convenient common denominator for the Supreme Being.  In Jewish circles it was the equivalent of the Hebrew word “El Elyon,” the divine title found in Genesis 14:18.  Among pagans it was a title of Zeus.

Salvation:
Salvation, in the religious sense, was as eagerly sought by Gentiles as by Jews.  Among pagans salvation was the object of many prayers and vows to the “most high God” and other “savior gods,” and was held out for the attainment of initiates in the mystery cults.

From the Amplified Bible
(16)  As we were on our way to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who was possessed by a spirit of divination [claiming to foretell future events and to discover hidden knowledge], and she brought her owners much gain by her fortunetelling.
(17)  She kept following Paul and [the rest of] us, shouting loudly, These men are the servants of the Most High God! They announce to you the way of salvation!

Acts 16:18
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(18)  And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And he came out that very hour.

And she did this for many days. So Paul was indignant and said to the spirit, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.  And it left her the same hour.


Many days
Polus (NT:4183)  much
Of multitude, number, etc.-  many, numerous.
(from Thayer's Greek Lexicon, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2000, 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

We don't know how many days she followed them, but we do know, by the use of "polus" that it was more than just two or three days.

Greatly annoyed
Diaponeetheis  (NT:1278)  "worn out."  Both grieved at the sad condition of the woman, and thoroughly annoyed and indignant at the continued demonstrations of the evil spirit which possessed her.
(from Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Being molested, troubled, and offended. Paul was grieved, probably:
(A) Because her presence was troublesome to him;
(B) Because it might be said that he was in alliance with her, and that his pretensions were just like hers;
(C) Because what she did was for the sake of gain, and was a base imposition;
(D) Because her state was one of bondage and delusion, and it was proper to free her from this demoniacal possession; and
(E) Because the system under which she was acting was a part of a scheme of delusion and imposture, which had spread over a large portion of the pagan world, and which was then holding it in bondage.
Throughout the Roman Empire the inspiration of the priestesses of Apollo was believed in, and temples were everywhere reared to perpetuate and celebrate the delusion. Against this extensive system of imposture and fraud Christianity must oppose itself; and this was a favorable instance to expose the delusion, and to show the power of the Christian religion over all the arts and powers of imposture.

The mere fact that in a very few instances - of which this was one - they spoke the truth, did not make it improper for Paul to interpose. That fact would only tend to perpetuate the delusion, and to make his interposition more proper and necessary. The expulsion of the evil spirit would also afford a signal proof of the fact that the apostles were really from God a far better proof than her noisy and troublesome proclamation of it would furnish.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

In the name of Jesus Christ
"The name of the Lord Jesus" is the expression of his authority as "Lord."  In His name (by His authority), the believers:
Baptized new believers (Acts 2:3819:522:16)
Taught the people (Acts 4:185:40)
Preached the Gospel (Acts 9:27)
Cast out the demon (Acts 16:18)
See also Acts 3:6.

Philippians 2:9-11
Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

From this passage we learn:
(1) (v. 16) Demons can perform apparently useful services
(2) (v. 17) They can tell the truth if it serves their purpose, even though their ruler, Satan, is “the inventor of the lie” (John 8:44)
(3) (v. 18) Nevertheless, their object is to interfere with the Gospel.
(4) (v. 18) Powerful and remarkable as they are, demons must submit to the authority of Yeshua the Messiah  (Mk 1:23-27)
Note that in expelling the demon Sha’ul
does not address the girl but he addresses the demon,
does not rely on his own authority but the authority of Yeshua.
(from Jewish New Testament Commentary Copyright © 1992 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

From the Amplified Bible
(18)  And she did this for many days. Then Paul, being sorely annoyed and worn out, turned and said to the spirit within her, I charge you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her! And it came out that very moment.

Acts 16:19-21
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(19)  But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.

And when her masters saw that the hope for their business was lost with her power, they seized Paul and Silas and beat them and brought them to the market place.

(20)  And they brought them to the magistrates, and said, "These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city;

And they brought them before the soldiers and the city magistrates and said, These men are Jews, and they create disturbances in our city.

(21)  and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe."

And they preach customs to us which are not lawful for us to accept and practice, because we are Romans.


The hope of their profit was gone
It was this that troubled and enraged them. Instead of regarding the act as proof of divine power, they were intent only on their profits. Their indignation furnishes a remarkable illustration of the fixedness with which people will regard wealth; of the fact that the love of it will blind them to all the truths of religion, and all the proofs of the power and presence of God; and of the fact that any interposition of divine power that destroys their hopes of gain, fills them with wrath, and hatred, and complaining.
1 Timothy 6:9-10
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.     (NKJV)

Many a man has been opposed to God and his gospel because, if religion should be extensively prevalent, his hopes of gain would be gone. Many a slave-dealer, and many a trafficker in ardent spirits, and many a man engaged in other unlawful modes of gain, has been unwilling to abandon his employments simply because his hopes of gain would be destroyed. No small part of the opposition to the gospel arises from the fact that, if embraced, it would strike at so much of the dishonorable employments of people, and make them honest and conscientious.

The marketplace
The court or forum. The marketplace was a place of concourse, and the courts were often held in or near those places.

The rectangular agora at the center of a Greek town, was the center of all civic activity.

Seized Paul and Silas
The charge of the slave girl's owners against Paul and Silas was obviously prejudicial.
Shortly before this incident the Emperor Claudius had expelled the Jews from Rome (18:2). Philippi, a Roman colony, would have caught this flavor of anti-Semitism.
This also helps explain why Timothy and Luke were not taken before the authorities. Timothy was a half-Gentile (16:1) and Luke was probably a Gentile.
(from Bible Knowledge Commentary/Old Testament Copyright © 1983, 2000 Cook Communications Ministries; Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament Copyright © 1983, 2000 Cook Communications Ministries. All rights reserved.)

The authorities...magistrates
Authorities archon (NT:758) "a ruler, a local authority, a magistrate," acting in the capacity of one who received complaints, and possessing higher authority than the judge, to whom the "magistrate" remits the case.
Magistrates strategos (NT:4755) the chief legal official of a city - 'magistrate, ruler of a city.'

Each Roman colony was governed by two leaders called douviri in Latin.  The term magistrates translates
strategois, the Greek equivalent for the Latin word.

The military rulers strateegois  or praetors.  Philippi was a Roman colony, and it is probable that the officers of the army exercised the double function of civil and military rulers.

Trouble our city
In what way they did it they specify in the next verse.
The charge which they wished to substantiate was that of being disturbers of the public peace. All at once they became conscientious. They forgot the subject of their gains, and were greatly distressed about the violation of the laws. There is nothing that will make people more hypocritically conscientious than to denounce, and detect, and destroy their unlawful and dishonest practices.
People who are thus exposed -
become suddenly filled with reverence for the Law or for religion, 
and they who have heretofore cared nothing for either -
become greatly alarmed lest the public peace should be disturbed.
People slumber quietly in sin -
and pursue their wicked gains; they hate or despise all law and all forms of religion;
but the moment their course of life is attacked and exposed, they become full of zeal for laws that they would not themselves hesitate to violate, and for the customs of religion which in their hearts they thoroughly despise.
Worldly-minded people -
often thus complain that their neighborhoods are disturbed by revivals of religion; and the preaching of the truth, and the attacking of their vices, often arouses this hypocritical conscientiousness, and makes them alarmed for the laws, and for religion, and for order, which they at other times are the first to disturb and disregard.

Philippi was extremely Romanized; despite its location, over 80 percent of its inscriptions are in Latin (twice the percentage in Pisidian Antioch, also a Roman *colony). As a Roman colony, the citizens enjoyed Roman rights, used Roman law, were exempt from tribute and modeled their constitution on that of Rome. Foreigners and non-citizen residents did not acquire Roman rights simply by settling in Philippi.

Teach customs
The word "customs" here - ethee (NT: 1485) - refers to "religious rites or forms of worship."  They meant to charge the apostles with introducing a new religion which was unauthorized by the Roman laws. This was a cunning and artful accusation. It is perfectly evident that they cared nothing either for the religion of the Romans or of the Jews. Nor were they really concerned about any change of religion. Paul had destroyed their hopes of gain; and as they could not prevent that except by securing his punishment or expulsion, and as they had no way of revenge except by endeavoring to excite indignation against him and Silas for violating the laws, they endeavored to convict them of such violation.

This is one among many instances, where wicked and unprincipled people will endeavor to make religion the means of promoting their own interest. If they can make money by it, they will become its professed friends or if they can annoy Christians, they will at once have remarkable zeal for the laws and for the purity of religion.

Which are not lawful for us
There were laws of the Roman Empire under which they might shield themselves in this charge, though it is evident that their zeal was; not because they loved the laws more, but because they loved Christianity less. Thus, Servius on Virgil, Aeneid, viii. 187, says, "Care was taken among the Athenians and the Romans that no one should introduce new religions. It was on this account that Socrates was condemned, and the Chaldeans or Jews were banished from the city." Cicero ("DeLegibus," ii. 8) says, "No person shall have any separate gods, or new ones; nor shall he privately worship any strange gods, unless they be publicly allowed."

Wetstein (in loco) says,
"The Romans would indeed allow foreigners to worship their own god, but not unless it were done secretly, so that the Worship of foreign gods would not interfere with the allowed worship of the Romans, and so that occasion for dissension and controversy might be avoided. Neither was it lawful among the Romans to recommend a new religion to the citizens, contrary to what was confirmed and established by the public authority, and to call off the people from that. It was on this account that there was such a hatred of the Romans against the Jews" (Kuinoel).
Tertullian says that
 "there was a decree that no god should be consecrated unless approved by the senate" (Grotius).
See many other authorities quoted in Dr. Watson's "Apology (Defense) for Christianity."

Their only recourse was the Roman law, and they thought they had a pretty good case because
1. The missionaries were Jewish
2. They were propagating a religion not approved by Rome.

Vincent has:
The Romans granted absolute toleration to conquered nations to follow their own religious customs, and took the gods of these countries under their protection. Otho, Domitian, Commodus, and Caracalla were zealous partisans of the worship of Isis; Serapis and Cybele were patronized at Rome
In the reign of Nero the religious dilettanti at Rome affected Judaism, and professed to honor the name of Moses and the sacred books. Poppaea, Nero's consort, was their patroness, and Seneca said, "the Jewish faith is now received on every hand.  The conquered have given laws to the conquerors."
On the other hand, there were laws which forbade the introduction of strange deities among the Romans themselves.
It was contrary to strict Roman law for the Jews to propagate their opinions among the Romans, though they might make proselytes of other nations.
(from Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Moved by both religious and racial prejudices, the magistrates acted rashly and did not investigate the matter fully. This neglect on their part later brought them embarrassment. Why didn't Paul and Silas plead their Roman citizenship?
Perhaps there was not time
Or perhaps Paul was saving that weapon for better use later on.
(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

From the Amplified Bible
(19)  But when her owners discovered that their hope of profit was gone, they caught hold of Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities in the forum (marketplace), [where trials are held].
(20)  And when they had brought them before the magistrates, they declared, These fellows are Jews and they are throwing our city into great confusion.
(21)  They encourage the practice of customs which it is unlawful for us Romans to accept or observe!

Acts 16:22-24
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(22)  Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods.

And a large crowd gathered against them.  Then the soldiers stripped them of their clothes and gave command to scourge them.

(23)  And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely.

And when they had flogged them severely, they cast them into prison, charging the jailer to watch them carefully.

(24)  Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

He, having received the charge, brought them in and put them into the inner chamber of the prison, and fastened their feed in the stocks.


The multitude
It is evident that this was done in a popular tumult, and without even the form of law. Of this Paul afterward justly complained, as it was a violation of the privileges of a Roman citizen, and contrary to the laws. It was one instance in which people affect great zeal for the honor of the Law, and yet are among the first to disregard it.

Tore off their clothes
This was always done when one was to be scourged or whipped. The criminal was usually stripped entirely naked. Livy says (ii. 5),
"The lictors, being sent to inflict punishment, beat them with rods, being naked."
Cicero, against Verres, says,
 "He commanded the man to be seized, and to be stripped naked in the midst of the forum, and to be bound, and rods to be brought."

Beaten...Many stripes
Beat them with rods, which was the Roman method of treating a criminal. Paul said he had received stripes beyond measure, or moderation (2 Corinthians 11:23).

Unless the accused were Roman citizens, they were normally beaten before the trial as a means of securing evidence (this was called the coercitio); in practice, lower-class persons had few legal protections. Roman magistrates' attendants, called lictors, carried rods in bundles, and with these rods they beat the foreigners here. Sometimes, as here, the accused were stripped first. Public beatings served not only to secure evidence but also to humiliate those beaten and to discourage their followers.

Probably Paul alludes to this as one of the instances which occurred in his life of his being publicly scourged, when he says (2 Corinthians 11:25), "Thrice was I beaten with rods."

The Jews were by law prohibited from inflicting more than 40 stripes, and usually inflicted but 39  (2 Corinthians 11:24). But there was no such law among the Romans. They were unrestricted in regard to the number of lashes, and probably inflicted many more. Perhaps Paul refers to this when he says (2 Corinthians 11:23), "In stripes above measure." that is, beyond the usual measure among the Jews, or beyond moderation.

Threw them into prison
Ballo  (NT:906)  to throw, hurl (more or less violent or intense)

The magistrates did this partly as a punishment, and partly with a view hereafter of taking vengeance on them more according to the forms of law.

The jailer
The job of jailer may have been assigned to a retired soldier settled in this Roman colony.  Veterans often settled in such colonies. The evidence for the jailer's being a veteran is ambiguous, however; veterans were also often given land, diminishing their need for other resources.

Inner prison
Barnes:
Into the most retired and secure part of the prison. The cells in the interior of the prison would be regarded as more safe, being doubtless more protected, and the difficulty of escape would be greater.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Robertson::
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.
(from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament. Copyright © 1985 by Broadman Press.)

USB Handbook::
It is not necessary to assume, as some commentators have done, that the inner cell was an underground cell. The inner cell was simply "the farthest cell in prison." This may be translated in some instances as "the most guarded cell of the prison," since one would need to pass through several other cells in order to arrive at this inner cell.
(from the UBS New Testament Handbook Series. Copyright © 1961-1997, by United Bible Societies.)

Stocks

Stocks were often used for torture as well as detention, with extra holes so the legs could be forced into painful positions.
(from IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press. All
rights reserved.)

Roman stocks were not only made to keep one from escape, but were made with holes wide enough apart so as to stretch the legs and bruise the feet to cause great pain and injury. This with the stripes beyond moderation made them suffer agony.
(from Dake Annotated Reference Bible © 2007 by Dake Publishing. All rights reserved in U.S.A. and Other Countries.)

From the Amplified Bible
(22)  The crowd [also] joined in the attack upon them, and the rulers tore the clothes off of them and commanded that they be beaten with rods.
(23)  And when they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely.
(24)  He, having received [so strict a] charge, put them into the inner prison (the dungeon) and fastened their feet in the stocks.



THE  PHILIPPIAN  JAILER  SAVED

Top
Previous Section


Acts 16:25 & 26
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(25)  But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.

Now at midnight Paul and Silas prayed and glorified God; and the prisoners heard them.

(26)  Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed.

And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken, and immediately all the doors were opened and the bands of all were loosed.


At midnight

Probably their painful posture, and the sufferings of their recent scourging, prevented their sleeping.

Jewish sources praised the ability to glorify God amidst suffering and shame.
Greco-Roman philosophers praised the wisdom of being content and thankful in one's situation.
Most people were usually well into their sleep around midnight, which was not a customary time for Jewish prayers; the other prisoners listening to Paul and Silas must either be upset at the missionaries' timing or glad for some distraction from jail monotony.
(from IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press. All
rights reserved.)

Praying and Singing Hymns
'As they prayed,' or 'kept singing praises unto God;'  that is, while engaged in pouring out their hearts in prayer, had broken forth into singing, and were hymning loud their joy.
As the word here employed [humnoun] is that used to denote the Paschal hymn sung by our Lord and His disciples after their last Passover,  and which we know to have consisted of Psalms 113-118, which was chanted at that festival, it may have been portions of the psalms - so rich in such matter - which our joyous sufferers chanted forth.
Nor could any be more seasonable and inspiring to them than those very six psalms, which every devout Jew would no doubt have by heart. "He giveth songs in the night" (Job 35:10).
Though their bodies were still bleeding and tortured in the stocks, their spirits, under 'the expulsive power of a new affection,' rose above suffering, and made the prison walls resound with their song.
'In these midnight hymns (says Neander), by the imprisoned witnesses for Jesus Christ, the whole might of Roman injustice and violence against the Church is not only set at naught, but converted into a foil to set forth more completely the majesty and spiritual power of the Church, which as yet the world knew nothing of. And if the sufferings of these two witnesses for Christ are the beginning and the type of numberless martyrdoms which were to flow upon the Church from the same source, in like manner the unparalleled triumph of the spirit over suffering was the beginning and the pledge of a spiritual power which we afterward see shining forth so triumphantly and irresistibly in the many martyrs of Christ who were given up as a prey to that same imperial might of Rome.'
(from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

The prisoners were listening
And doubtless with astonishment.
Prayer and praise are not common in a prison. The song of rejoicing and the language of praise is not usual among men lying bound in a dungeon. From this narrative we may learn:
(1) That the Christian has the sources of his happiness within him.
External circumstances cannot destroy his peace and joy. In a dungeon he may find as real happiness as on a throne. On the cold earth, beaten and bruised, he may be as truly happy as on a bed of down.
(2) The enemies of Christians cannot destroy their peace.
They may incarcerate the body - but they cannot bind the spirit,
they may exclude from earthly comforts - but they cannot shut them out from the presence and sustaining grace of God.
(3) We see the value of a good conscience.
Nothing else can give peace; and amidst the wakeful hours of the night, whether in a dungeon or on a bed of sickness, it is of more value than all the wealth of the world.
(4) We see the inestimable worth of the religion of Christ.
It fits for all scenes; supports in all trials; upholds by day or by night; inspires the soul with confidence in God; and puts into the lips the songs of praise and thanksgiving.
(5) We have here a sublime and holy scene which sin and infidelity could never furnish.
What more sublime spectacle has the earth witnessed than that of scourged and incarcerated men, suffering from unjust and cruel inflictions, and anticipating still greater sorrows; yet, with a calm mind, a pure conscience, a holy joy, pouring forth their desires and praises at midnight, into the ear of the God who always hears prayer!
The darkness, the stillness, the loneliness, all gave sublimity to the scene, and teach us how invaluable is the privilege of access to the throne of mercy in this suffering world.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Great earthquake
An earthquake severe enough to split the staples of prisoners' bonds from the wall could have brought down the roof as well but miraculously does not.
(from IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press. All
rights reserved.)

Earthquakes in Scripture:
A number of earthquakes are mentioned in the Scriptures:
(1) (Exodus 19:18) At Mount Sinai
(2) (Numbers 16:31) Korah and companions destroyed in fissure and sinking ground
(3) (1 Samuel 14-15) In the Philistine camp in the days of Saul
(4) (1 Kings 19:11) After Elijah's flight
(5) (Amos 1:1) In the reign of Uzziah, between 790 and 740 B.C.
Zechariah 14:5 probably refers to the same
(6) (Matthew 27:51-54) At Christ's death
(7) (Matthew 28:2) At Christ's resurrection
(8) (Acts 16:26) At Philippi when Paul and Silas were freed from prison
Symbolic Use: In the Scriptures earthquakes are mentioned as tokens of
(1) (Job 9:6) God's power
(2) (Psalms 68:8; 18:7;
Isaiah 13:13)
God's presence and anger:  "She shall be visited of Yahweh of hosts .... with earthquake, and great noise" (Isaiah 29:6)
(3) (Matthew 24:3-7
Revelation 11:13,19; 16:18)
Christ's "coming, and of the end of the world"
(from International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Electronic Database Copyright © 1996, 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Earthquakes are used symbolically in the Bible.
Many times God's judgment or visitation is described using the imagery of an earthquake
(Psalms 18:7; Isaiah 29:6; Nahum 1:5; Revelation 6:12; 8:5; 11:13; 16:18)
It is often seen as a sign of the end of time
Many times an earthquake is a sign of God's presence or of God's revelation of Himself
(1 Kings 19:11-12; Psalms 29:8; Ezekiel 38:19-20; Joel 2:10; 3:16; Acts 4:31; Revelation 11:19)
At times the whole universe is described as being shaken by God
(Isaiah 13:13; 24:17-20; Joel 3:16; Haggai 2:6-7; Matthew 24:29; Hebrews 12:26-27; Revelation 6:12; 8:5)
Even though earthquakes were usually seen in the Bible as things to escape (Isaiah 2:19,21; possibly Amos 2:13-16; 9:1-4), they could be used by God for good purposes (Acts 16:26).
The earth quaked in revulsion at the death of Jesus
The earth quaked to move the stone from Jesus' tomb
Those who love God and are faithful to Him have no need to fear the trembling of the earth (Psalms 46:2-3).
(from Holman Bible Dictionary. Copyright © 1991 by Holman Bible Publishers. All rights reserved.)

[And immediately all the doors were opened] An effect that would naturally follow from the violent concussion of the earthquake. Compare Acts 5:19.

Chains were loosed
Some have supposed that their chains were dissolved by electric fluid; but the narrative gives no account of any such fluid, even supposing such an effect to be possible.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Prayer and praise are powerful weapons (2 Chronicles 20:1-22; Acts 4:23-37). God responded by shaking the foundations of the prison, opening all the doors, and loosening the prisoners' bonds.
(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

Notice the totality of God's response:
ALL the doors were opened
EVERYONE'S chained were loosed

From the Amplified Bible
(25)  But about midnight, as Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the [other] prisoners were listening to them,
(26)  Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the very foundations of the prison were shaken; and at once all the doors were opened and everyone's shackles were unfastened.

Acts 16:27-29
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta
(27)  And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself.

When the keeper of the prison awoke and saw that the prison doors were open, he took a sword and would have killed himself, for he thought the prisoners had escaped.

(28)  But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, "Do yourself no harm, for we are all here."

But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying to him, Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.

(29)  Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.

Then he lighted a lamp and sprang in, trembling, and threw himself at the feed of Paul and Silas.


About to kill himself
This was done in the midst of agitation and alarm.
He supposed that the prisoners had fled.
He presumed that their escape would be charged on him.
It was customary to hold a jailor responsible for the safe keeping of prisoners, and to subject him to the punishment due them if he suffered them to escape.  It should be added that it was common and approved among the Greeks and Romans for a man to commit suicide when he was encompassed with dangers from which he could not escape.
Thus, Cato was guilty of self-murder in Utica.
Thus, at this very place - Philippi - Brutus and Cassius, and many of their friends, fell on their own swords, and ended their lives by suicide.
The custom was thus sanctioned by the authority and example of the great; and we are not to wonder that the jailor, in a moment of alarm, should also attempt to destroy his own life. It is not one of the least benefits of Christianity that it has proclaimed the evil of self-murder, and has done so much to drive it from the world.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

It was a Roman law that if a guard lost a prisoner, he was given the same punishment the prisoner would have received; so there must have been some men in the prison who had committed capital crimes. The jailer would rather commit suicide than face shame and execution.
(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

Do yourself no harm
This is the solemn command of religion in his case, and in all others. It enjoins upon people to do themselves no harm by self-murder, whether by the sword, the pistol, the halter; by intemperance, by lust, or by dissipation.
In all cases, Christianity seeks the true welfare of man.
In all cases, if it were obeyed, people would do themselves no harm.
They would promote their own best interests here and their eternal welfare hereafter.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

They had just before heard them singing and praying; they were aware, doubtless, of the cause for which they were imprisoned;
they saw evident tokens that they were the servants of the Most High, and under his protection;
and their own minds were impressed and awed by the terrors of the earthquake, and by the fact of their own liberation. It renders this scene the more remarkable, that though the doors were opened, and the prisoners loosed, yet no one made any attempt to escape.

The other prisoners may have remained for fear of the guards (the jailer "calls for" torches — v. 29 - hence he has subordinates) or because of the missionaries' witness (v. 25).
(from IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.)

Fell down trembling
Alarmed at the earthquake
Amazed that the prisoners were still there
Confounded at the calmness of Paul and Silas
Overwhelmed at the proof of the presence of God

From the Amplified Bible
(27)  When the jailer, startled out of his sleep, saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was on the point of killing himself, because he supposed that the prisoners had escaped.
(28)  But Paul shouted, Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!
(29)  Then [the jailer] called for lights and rushed in, and trembling and terrified he fell down before Paul and Silas.

Acts 16:30 & 31
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(30)  And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"

And he brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

(31)  So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.

And they said to him, Believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, and both you and your household will be saved.


What must I do to be saved?
A similar question was asked by the people in Acts 2:37.

This is the cry of lost people worldwide, and we had better be able to give them the right answer. The legalists in the church would have replied, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved" (Acts 15:1, NKJV). But Paul knew the right answer - faith in Jesus Christ. In the Book of Acts, the emphasis is on faith in Jesus Christ alone (Acts 2:38-39; 4:12; 8:12,37; 10:10-43; 13:38-39).

Asking how to be saved is a motif in Luke-Acts (Luke 3:10; 10:25; 18:18; Acts 2:37);  the jailer in this case may view Paul and Silas as representatives of the gods, who can "save/deliver/heal" (all potentially implied in the same Greek word);  more likely, he is familiar with their teaching of the one true God known in Judaism.
(from IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.)

Never was a more important question asked than this. It is clear that by the question he did not refer to any danger to which he might be exposed from what had happened. For:
The apostles evidently understood him as referring to his eternal salvation, as is manifest from their answer, since to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ would have no effect in saving him from any danger of punishment to which he might be exposed from what had occurred.
He could scarcely now consider himself as exposed to punishment by the Romans. The prisoners were all safe; none had escaped, or showed any disposition to escape; and besides, for the earthquake and its effects he could not be held responsible. It is not improbable that there was much confusion in his mind. There would be a rush of many thoughts; a state of agitation, alarm, and fear; and in view of all, he would naturally ask those whom he now saw to be men sent by God, and under His protection, what he should do to obtain the favor of that great Being under whose protection he saw that they manifestly were. Perhaps the following thoughts might have tended to produce this state of agitation and alarm:
(1) They had been designated by the Pythoness (Acts 16:17) as religious teachers sent from God, and appointed to "show the way of salvation," and in her testimony he might have been disposed to put confidence, or it might now be brought fresh to his recollection.
(2) He manifestly saw that they were under the protection of God. A remarkable interposition-an earthquake-an event which the entire pagan regarded as ominous of the presence of the divinity-had showed this.
(3) The guilt of their imprisonment might rush upon his mind; and he might suppose that he, the agent of the imprisonment of the servants of God, would be exposed to his displeasure.
(4) His guilt in attempting his own life might overwhelm him with alarm.
(5) The whole scene was suited to show him the need of the protection and friendship of the God that had thus interposed. In this state of agitation and alarm, the apostles directed him to the only source of peace and safety - the blood of the atonement.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

The feelings of an awakened sinner are often strikingly similar to those of this jailor.
He is agitated, alarmed, and fearful; he sees that he is a sinner, and trembles
The sins of his life rush over his memory, and fill him with deep anxiety, and he inquires what he must do to be saved
Often too, as here, the providence of God is the means of awakening the sinner and of leading to this inquiry.
Some alarming dispensation convinces him that God is near, and that the soul is in danger. The loss of health, or property, or of a friend, may thus alarm the soul; the ravages of the pestilence, or any fearful judgment, may arrest the attention, and lead to the inquiry, "What must I do to be saved?"
 
Reader, have you ever made this inquiry?
Have you ever, like the pagan jailor at Philippi, seen yourself to be a lost sinner, and been willing to ask the way to life?

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ
This was a simple, a plain, and an effectual direction.

They did not direct him to use the means of grace, to pray, or to continue to seek for salvation.
They did not advise him to delay, or to wait for the mercy of God.
They told him to believe at once; to commit his agitated, and guilty, and troubled spirit to the Savior, with the assurance that he should find peace. They presumed that he would understand what it was to believe, and they commanded him to do the thing. And this was the uniform direction which the early preachers gave to those inquiring the way to life.

And your household
The phrase "and thy house" does not mean that the faith of the jailer would automatically bring salvation to his family.
Each sinner must trust Christ personally in order to be born again, for we cannot be saved "by proxy."
The phrase means "and your household will be saved if they will also believe." We must not read into this statement the salvation of infants (with or without baptism) because it is clear that Paul was dealing with people old enough to hear the Word (Acts 16:32), to believe, and to rejoice (Acts 16:34).

So-called "household salvation" has no basis in the Word of God - that is, that the decision of the head of the household brings salvation to the members of the household. The people in the household of Cornelius were old enough to respond to his call (Acts 10:24) and to understand the Word and believe (Acts 10:44; 11:15-17; 15:7-9).
(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

And thy family. That is, the same salvation is equally adapted to, and offered to your family.
It does not mean that his family would be saved simply by his believing, but that the offers had reference to them as well as to himself; that they might be saved as well as he. His attention was thus called at once, as every man's should be, to his family. He was reminded that they needed salvation, and he was presented with the assurance that they might unite with him in the peace and joy of redeeming mercy.
It may be implied here that the faith of a father may be expected to be the means of the salvation of his family. It often is so in fact; but the direct meaning is, that salvation was offered to his family as well as himself, implying that if they believed they should also be saved.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

In this narrative we see the contrast which exists in periods of distress and alarm between Christians and sinners.
The Jailer --------------------------- The Apostles -----------------------
all agitation, fear, distress, and terror all peace, calmness, joy
filled with thoughts of self-murder intent on saving life and doing good
This difference is to be traced to religion. It was confidence in God that gave peace to them; it was the want of what led to agitation and alarm in him it is so still. In the trying scenes of this life the same difference is seen. In bereavement, in sickness, in times of pestilence, in death, it is still so. The Christian is calm; the sinner is agitated and alarmed.

Romans expected the whole household to follow the religion of its head; they also expected the head to lead his household to the worship of Roman gods. Here conversion is not automatic; the whole household must hear the word.

There are five conditions for the salvation of individuals stated in the New Testament:
(1) Believing that Yeshua is Lord and trusting in him  (Acts 16:31, Romans 10:9)
(2) Acknowledging him publicly  (Romans 10:9, Matthew 10:32)
(3) Turning from sin to God  (Mark 1:15, Acts 2:38)
(4) Being immersed   (Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16)
(5) “Holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
A person who meets the first four conditions but leads an ungodly life gives public evidence that he is not saved.
Sha’ul names only the first condition, the touchstone, sensing that the jailer is ready to meet all of the conditions as soon as they have been explained, which Sha’ul then does (v. 32).
In the Bible a man and his family are considered as a unit far more than in the individualistic twentieth-century West; and some use this verse in advocating infant baptism. Nevertheless, the jailer's faith will not save the members of his household. Rather, Sha’ul is stating a general principle: if one trusts in Yeshua, one will be saved. This principle applies not only to the jailer, says Sha’ul, but also to his household.
Another view:  “and your household”  is a word of knowledge (1 Corinthians 12:8-10),  a correct prediction given Sha’ul by the Holy Spirit,  that the jailer's entire household would come to faith after hearing the Gospel (v. 32).
(from Jewish New Testament Commentary Copyright © 1992 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

From the Amplified Bible
(30)  And he brought them out [of the dungeon] and said, Men, what is it necessary for me to do that I may be saved?
(31)  And they answered, Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ [give yourself up to Him, take yourself out of your own keeping and entrust yourself into His keeping] and you will be saved, [and this applies both to] you and your household as well.

Acts 16:32-34
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(32)  Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.

And they spoke to him the word of the Lord and to all who were of his household.

(33)  And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized.

And he took them at that hour of the night and washed their wounds; and then was baptized in that very hour, he and all his household.

(34)  Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.

And when he had brought them up into his house, he set food before them; and he and all the members of the household rejoiced, believing in God.


The jailer risks getting in serious trouble here. If he is a retired soldier (which is not clear — v. 23), he may have young children (soldiers were not permitted to marry officially until retirement); but this is far from certain and therefore cannot be used to prove infant baptism (as some have attempted). (IVP)
(from IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.)

And he took them to a convenient place for washing. It is evident from this that,
though the apostles had the gift of miracles,
they did not exercise it in regard to their own sufferings or to heal their own wounds.
They restored others to health, not themselves.

Two evidences of true conversion
Compassion
The wounds which had been inflicted by the severe scourging which they had received the night before. We have here a remarkable instance of the effect of religion in producing humanity and tenderness. This same man, a few hours before, had thrust them into the inner prison, and made them fast in the stocks. He evidently had then no concern about their stripes or their wounds. But no sooner was he converted than one of his first acts was an act of humanity.
He saw them suffering; he pitied them, and hastened to minister to them and to heal their wounds. Until the time of Christianity there never had been a hospital or an almshouse. Nearly all the hospitals for the sick since have been reared by Christians. They who are most ready to minister to the sick and dying are Christians. They who are most willing to encounter the pestilential damps of dungeons to aid the prisoner are, like Howard, Christians. Who ever saw an infidel attending a dying bed if he could help it? and where has infidelity ever reared a hospital or an almshouse, or made provision for the widow and the fatherless? Often one of the most striking changes that occurs in conversion is seen in the disposition to be kind and humane to the suffering. Compare James 1:27.
Rejoicing
This was the effect of believing. Religion produces joy. He was free from danger and alarm; he had evidence that his sins were forgiven, and that he was now the friend of God. The agitating and alarming scenes of the night had passed away; the prisoners were safe; and religion, with its peace, and pardon, and rejoicings, had visited himself and his family.
What a change to be produced in one night! What a difference between the family when Paul was thrust into prison, and when he was brought out and received as an honored guest at the very table of the renovated jailor! Such a change would Christianity produce in every family, and such joy would it diffuse through every household.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

From the Amplified Bible
(32)  And they declared the Word of the Lord [the doctrine concerning the attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God] to him and to all who were in his house.
(33)  And he took them the same hour of the night and bathed [them because of their bloody] wounds, and he was baptized immediately and all [the members of] his [household].
(34)  Then he took them up into his house and set food before them; and he leaped much for joy and exulted with all his family that he believed in God [accepting and joyously welcoming what He had made known through Christ].

Acts 16:35-37
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(35)  And when it was day, the magistrates sent the officers, saying, "Let those men go."

In the morning, the soldiers sent the lictors to tell the prison warden to release those men.

(36)  So the keeper of the prison reported these words to Paul, saying, "The magistrates have sent to let you go. Now therefore depart, and go in peace."

And when the keeper of the prison heard this, he went in and told Paul, saying, The soldiers have send orders to release you; now therefore depart and go in peace.

(37)  But Paul said to them, "They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison. And now do they put us out secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out."

But Paul said to him, Not having committed any offense, they flogged us, Roman citizens, and in the presence of the people, and they cast us into prison; and now do they let us out secretly? No verily; let them come themselves and take us out.


The officers
Rabdouchous (NT: 4465).  Literally, those having rods; the lectors.
These were public officers who walked before magistrates with the emblems of authority.  In Rome they bore before the senators the fasces; that is, a bundle of rods with an axe in its center, as a symbol of office. They performed somewhat the same office as a beadle in England, or as a constable in our courts (America).

Let these men go

It is evident from the narrative that it was not contemplated at first to release them so soon, Acts 16:22-24. But it is not known what produced this change of purpose in the magistrates.

The magistrates could have
regarded the earthquake as a sign, perhaps from the gods or dangerous magicians;
then again, the intercession of wealthy Lydia may have helped;
or perhaps the magistrates felt that public humiliation would have been sufficient to silence the troublemakers.
It is probable, however,
that they had been brought to reflection, somewhat as the jailor had, by the earthquake,
and that their consciences had been troubled by the fact, that in order to please the multitude, they had caused strangers to be beaten and imprisoned without trial and contrary to the Roman laws.

An earthquake is always suited to alarm the guilty; and among the Romans it was regarded as an omen of the anger of the gods, and was therefore adapted to produce agitation and remorse. The agitation and alarm of the magistrates were shown by the fact that they sent the officers as soon as it was day. The judgments of God are eminently suited to alarm sinners. Two ancient MSS. read this, "The magistrates who were alarmed by the earthquake, sent, etc." (Doddridge). Whether this reading is genuine or not, it doubtless expresses the true cause of their sending to release the apostles.

Uncondemned Romans
Roman citizenship in the provinces in this period was a mark of high status (especially because Paul's family was from Tarsus, not a Roman colony, and thus must have received it for special service or as freed-persons of a well-to-do Roman). The Julian law forbade binding or beating Roman citizens without trial. Falsely claiming citizenship was a capital offense.

*Cicero and *Quintilian tell of a Roman citizen who cried out that he was a citizen during a scourging, thereby humiliating his oppressors, who had not properly recognized his high status. By waiting until after the beating (cf. 22:29) to inform the authorities that they were citizens, the missionaries had placed the magistrates themselves in an awkward legal position: now the magistrates, not the missionaries, are forced to negotiate. Reports of their deed could even disqualify them from office and (in theory, at least) deprive Philippi of its status as a Roman colony. This strategy would help secure the future safety of the fledgling Christian community.

The magistrates had no legal authority to expel Roman citizens without trial, but a trial would bring up their own breach of law; thus they are reduced to pleading.
 
*Cicero - A famous Roman orator and statesman who wrote on a variety of subjects and flourished in the first century B.C.
*Quintilian - An influential first-century Roman *rhetorician.
*Rhetoric - The art or study of proper forms and methods of public speaking, highly emphasized in antiquity. Although only the well-to-do had much training in it, the rhetorical forms and ideas they used filtered down to the rest of urban society through public speeches, in a manner similar to that in which television permeates modern Western society.
(from IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.)

Believers in Yeshua Jesus are sometimes expected to be “meek and mild” and behave like “doormats.”
While we are not to sue each other (1 Corinthians 6:1-8),  and we are to turn the other cheek and go the second mile (Matthew 5:39-42),
there is one situation where we are expected to stand adamantly, refusing to give ground; and that is where the Gospel itself is at stake.
If the Gospel can be served better by fighting back, we should fight back — the fighting, of course, to be conducted ethically and by spiritual means (2 Corinthians 10:3-5, Ephesians 6:10-18). We are to obey God rather than people (Acts 4:19, 5:29).
In these verses we see Sha’ul Saul or Paul using several legitimate means:
1. He mentions his own Roman citizenship,
2. He points out the officials' illegal behavior—public flogging and imprisonment without a trial or conviction of any crime — and
3. He demands public redemption of public insults.
4. He does all this to insure his proper treatment,
5. But not because of personal pride.
6. His concern is for the Gospel only:
7. He wants to ensure that no one in Philippi will come away from the incident with the impression given by Sha’ul's accusers (vv. 20-23), that the message of the Messiah is not for Romans.
(From Jewish New Testament Commentary Copyright © 1992 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

The release should be as public as the unjust act of imprisonment.  As they have publicly attempted to disgrace us, so they should as publicly acquit us. This was a matter of mere justice; and as it was of great importance to their character and success, they insisted on it.

It was proper that they should be required to do this:
(A) Because they had been illegally imprisoned, and the injustice of the magistrates should be acknowledged.
(B) Because the Roman laws had been violated, and the majesty of the Roman people insulted, and honor should be done to the laws.
(C) Because injustice had been done to Paul and Silas, and they had a right to demand just treatment and protection.
(D) Because such a public act on the part of the magistrates would strengthen the young converts, and show them that the apostles were not guilty of a violation of the laws.
(E) Because it would tend to the honor and to the furtherance of religion. It would be a public acknowledgement of their innocence, and would go far toward lending to them the sanction of the laws as religious teachers. We may learn from this also:
(1) That though Christianity requires meekness in the reception of injuries, yet that there are occasions on which Christians may insist on their rights according to the laws. Compare John 18:23.
(2) That this is to be done particularly where the honor of religion is concerned, and where by it the gospel will be promoted.
A Christian may bear much as a man in a private capacity, and may submit, without any effort to seek reparation; but where the honor of the gospel is concerned; where submission, without any effort to obtain justice, might be followed by disgrace to the cause of religion, a higher obligation may require him to seek a vindication of his character, and to claim the protection of the laws. His name, and character, and influence belong to the church.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Chrysostom: Homily 36 - Acts 16:39
Even upon the declaration of the magistrates Paul does not go out, but for the sake both of Lydia and the rest he puts them in fear: that they may not be supposed to have come out upon their own request, that they may set the rest in a posture of boldness. The impeachment was twofold: that "being Romans," and "un-condemned," they had openly cast them into prison. You see that in many things they took their measures as men.
(from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series 1, Volume 11, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

A WHOLE HOUSEHOLD AT WORK FOR GOD
They all did something.
The father called for a light.
The servants bring the torches.
Here is work for himself, and for gentle hands to do: to wash out the grit that had come there through their lying on their backs on the dungeon floor, and to mollify and bind up their wounds.
There was suitable occupation for the mother and for the servants, for they set meat before the holy men.
The kitchen was sanctified to supply the needs of the ministers of Christ.
Even our children when they are saved can do something for the Master. The little hand that drops its halfpence into the offering-box, out of love to Jesus, is accepted of the Lord. The young child trying to tell its brother or sister of the dear Saviour who has loved it is a true missionary of the Cross.
A FAMILY ALL REJOICING
1. If the family had been left a fortune they would have rejoiced, but they had found more than all the world's wealth at once in finding a Saviour, therefore were they glad.
2. Though their joy sprang mainly from their believing, it also arose from their being baptized, for the Ethiopian, after he was baptized, "went on his way rejoicing." "In keeping His commandments there is great reward."
3. They rejoiced, no doubt, because they had an opportunity of serving the Church in waiting upon the apostle. They felt glad to think that Paul was at their table. And Christian people are never so happy as when they are busy for Jesus
4. I have no doubt that their joy was permanent. There would not be any quarrelling in that house now, no disobedient children, no short-tempered father, no fretful mother, no purloining servants, no eye servers.
Conclusion: That household is now in glory. With some of you the father is in heaven, and the mother is on the road, but the children! With others, your little ones have gone before you, and your grandsire is also in glory; but, ah! husband and wife, your faces are turned towards the ways of sin. There will be broken households around the throne, and if it could mar their joy -- if anything could -- it would be the thought that a son or husband is absent while the wife and mother sing the endless song. This is the last question, "Will my family be there?" Will yours be there?                               (C. H. Spurgeon.)
(from The Biblical Illustrator Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2006 Ages Software, Inc. and Biblesoft, Inc.)

From the Amplified Bible
(35)  But when it was day, the magistrates sent policemen, saying, Release those fellows and let them go.
(36)  And the jailer repeated the words to Paul, saying, The magistrates have sent to release you and let you go; now therefore come out and go in peace.
(37)  But Paul answered them, They have beaten us openly and publicly, without a trial and uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now thrust us out secretly? No, indeed! Let them come here themselves and conduct us out!

Acts 16:38-40
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(38)  And the officers told these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans.

And the lictors went and told the magistrates these words which were told to them; and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were afraid.

(39)  Then they came and pleaded with them and brought them out, and asked them to depart from the city.

And they came to them and urged them to get out and depart from the city.

(40)  So they went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them and departed.

And they went out of the prison and entered into the house of Lydia where they saw the brethren and comforted them, and departed.


They were afraid
They were apprehensive of punishment for having imprisoned them in violation of the laws of the empire. To punish unjustly a Roman citizen was deemed an offence to the majesty of the Roman people, and was severely punished by the laws.
Dionysius Hal. (Ant. Rom., ii.) Says, "The punishment appointed for those who abrogated or transgressed the Valerian law was death, and the confiscation of his property."
The emperor Claudius deprived the inhabitants of Rhodes of freedom for having crucified some Roman citizens (Dio Cass., lib. 60). See Kuinoel and Grotius.

They pleaded with them
A most humiliating act for Roman magistrates, but in this case it was unavoidable. The apostles had them completely in their power, and could easily affect their disgrace and ruin. Probably they besought them by declaring them innocent; by affirming that they were ignorant that they were Roman citizens, etc.

Probably:
(1) To save their own character, and be secure from their taking any further steps to convict the magistrates of violating the laws; and
(2) To evade any further popular tumult on their account.
This advice Paul and Silas saw fit to comply with, after they had seen and comforted the brethren. They had accomplished their main purpose in going to Philippi;
they had preached the gospel;
they had laid the foundation of a flourishing church (compare the Epistle to the Philippians);
and they were now prepared to prosecute the purpose of their agency into surrounding regions.
Thus, the opposition of the people and the magistrates at Philippi was the occasion of the founding of the church there, and thus their unkind and inhospitable request that they should leave them was the means of the extension of the gospel into adjacent regions.

When they had seen the brethren
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 and probably the church now met in her home.
(from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament. Copyright © 1985 by Broadman Press.)

It would appear probable that Luke and Timothy remained in Philippi, or, at least, did not attend Paul and Silas. For Luke, who, in Acts 16:10, uses the first person, and speaks of himself as with Paul and Silas, speaks of them now in the third person ("they"), implying that he was not with them until Paul had arrived at Troas, where Luke joined him from Philippi. Paul and Silas, when they departed from Philippi, went to Thessalonica, Acts 17:1.
(From Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

In this section, we see three wonderful "openings."
(vv. 6-12) God opened the way
(vv. 13-15) God opened Lydia's heart
(vv. 16-40) God opened the prison doors
(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

From the Amplified Bible
(38)  The police reported this message to the magistrates, and they were frightened when they heard that the prisoners were Roman citizens;
(39)  So they came themselves and [striving to appease them by entreaty] apologized to them. And they brought them out and asked them to leave the city.
(40)  So [Paul and Silas] left the prison and went to Lydia's house; and when they had seen the brethren, they warned and urged and consoled and encouraged them and departed.



(End of Chapter Sixteen)

  

Bibliography
 

 


Home First
Covenant
Second
Covenant
Topical
Studies
Table of
Contents
Top