Acts Chapter Sixteen
Read Acts 16:1-13
v1. “THEN CAME HE TO DERBE AND LYSTRA: AND BEHOLD, A CERTAIN DISCIPLE WAS THERE, NAMED TIMOTHEUS, THE SON OF A CERTAIN WOMAN, WHICH WAS A JEWESS, AND BELIEVED; BUT HIS FATHER WAS A GREEK:”
traveling overland on this journey and moves up through the city of
Acts “SO HE SENT INTO
I Corinthians 4:17 “FOR THIS CAUSE HAVE I SENT UNTO YOU TIMOTHEUS, WHO IS MY BELOVED SON, AND FAITHFUL IN THE LORD, WHO SHALL BRING YOU INTO REMEMBRANCE OF MY WAYS WHICH BE IN CHRIST, AS I TEACH EVERY WHERE IN EVERY CHURCH.”
Timothy’s mother was a Jewess, his father was an unbelieving Greek. He had been taught in the Old Testament scriptures by his mother and grandmother and Timothy was one:
v2. “WHICH WAS WELL REPORTED OF BY THE BRETHREN THAT WERE AT LYSTRA AND ICONIUM.”
Timothy was well thought of and apparently a willing worker known to the congregations in both Lystra and Iconium. The Greek translated “well reported of” means a “continuous witness”. That would be one that lived the Christian life in such a fashion that he was consistent in his living habits, he was a righteous and faithful young man.
v3. “HIM WOULD PAUL HAVE TO GO FORTH WITH HIM; AND TOOK AND CIRCUMCISED HIM BECAUSE OF THE JEWS WHICH WERE IN THOSE QUARTERS: FOR THEY KNEW ALL THAT HIS FATHER WAS A GREEK.”
Paul wanted Timothy to go with him. Perhaps he saw in Timothy the makings of a preacher, needed him to help in his work and perhaps the providence of God played a part in them being united to work together. It’s not unusual even today for an older preacher to take a younger one under his wing to help learn the things that he needs to know. In fact, there needs to be a lot more of that kind of one on one relationship and perhaps we wouldn’t have the as many of the digressions in the church today if this was done.
Now brother Paul takes Timothy and has him circumcised, even though he’s half Jewish, apparently he had never been circumcised. In view of the lessons studied in Acts chapter 15 should Paul be accused of compromise because of his actions? Is he guilty of compromise? If not, why not? Because he did not have Timothy circumcised to answer any religious requirement. Because:
I Corinthians 7:18-19 “IS ANY MAN CALLED BEING CIRCUMCISED? LET HIM NOT BECOME UNCIRCUMCISED. IS ANY CALLED IN UNCIRCUMCISION? LET HIM NOT BE CIRCUMCISED. CIRCUMCISION IS NOTHING, AND UNCIRCUMCISION IS NOTHING, BUT THE KEEPING OF THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD.”
It doesn’t matter, Paul tells us, whether we’re circumcised or not. But Paul did have Timothy circumcised to keep down controversy and maintain peace with the Jews of that region.
I Corinthians 9:20 “AND UNTO THE JEWS I BECAME AS A JEW, THAT I MIGHT GAIN THE JEWS; TO THEM THAT ARE UNDER THE LAW, AS UNDER THE LAW, THAT I MIGHT GAIN THEM THAT ARE UNDER THE LAW;”
Paul simply lived under the customs of the people he was trying to reach with the gospel message. We can be equally sure that as an inspired apostle of Jesus Christ he also did not participate in anything that violate the law of Christ.
v4. “AND AS THEY WENT THROUGH THE CITIES, THEY
DELIVERED THEM THE DECREES FOR TO KEEP, THAT WERE
ORDAINED OF THE APOSTLES AND ELDERS WHICH WERE AT
Silas, Timothy and whoever else was traveling with them went back to the
churches established on the first journey they carried the letter from the
apostles and elders at
v5. “AND SO WERE THE CHURCHES ESTABLISHED IN THE FAITH, AND INCREASED IN NUMBER DAILY.”
This is the simple result of successful evangelism. “the churches were established in the faith and increased in number daily.” We told that the Greek word translated “strengthened” literally means to “make firm and solid” and is used only three times in the New Testament.
v6. “NOW WHEN THEY HAD GONE THROUGHOUT
Now we get
a little geography lesson about that part of the world called
v7. “AFTER THEY WERE COME TO
find God intervening with their plans through the Holy Spirit. Since the Spirit turned them away from the
western, southwestern part of the region they tried to turn north and preach in
the region of
Jeremiah “O LORD, I KNOW THAT THE WAY OF MAN is NOT IN HIMSELF: it is NOT IN MAN THAT WALKETH TO DIRECT HIS STEPS.”
In this case, even an inspired apostle of Jesus Christ needs divine guidance for his footsteps. God has a plan, a purpose for these preachers so they are influenced to go in the direction he wants them to go.
v8. “AND THEY PASSING BY
couldn’t go southwest, they couldn’t go north so they worked their way west
II Corinthians “FURTHERMORE, WHEN I
v9. “ AND A VISION
APPEARED TO PAUL IN THE NIGHT; THERE STOOD A MAN OF
v10. “AND AFTER HE HAD SEEN THE VISION,
IMMEDIATELY WE ENDEAVOURED TO GO INTO
understood what his purpose was here.
His vision left no more doubt in his mind; he was to go to
v11. “THEREFORE LOOSING FROM TROAS, WE CAME WITH A STRAIGHT COURSE TO SAMOTHRACIA, AND THE NEXT day TO NEAPOLIS.”
a straight course, they now knew their purpose and they were anxious to get on
with their work. Samothracia is an
island of northeastern
v12. “AND FROM THENCE TO
from the seaport of Neapolis to the primary city of the area, or chief city of
that part of
So they stay certain days, how long we don’t know but less than a week because the next verse implies that the events described in the next few verses occurred on the first Sabbath they were in town.
v13. “AND ON THE SABBATH WE WENT OUT OF THE CITY BY A RIVER SIDE, WHERE PRAYER WAS WONT TO BE MADE; AND WE SAT DOWN, AND SPAKE UNTO THE WOMEN WHICH RESORTED thither.”
rule of the rabbis required ten men to establish a synagogue apparently there
is no Jewish synagogue for them to go to and preach, so they do the next best
thing. They go were people gather to pray and that happens to be down by the
riverside. We’re told that the city of
Read Acts 16:14-15
v14. “AND A CERTAIN WOMAN NAMED LYDIA, A SELLER OF PURPLE, OF THE CITY OF THYATIRA, WHICH WORSHIPPED GOD, HEARD us: WHOSE HEART THE LORD OPENED, THAT SHE ATTENDED UNTO THE THINGS WHICH WERE SPOKEN OF PAUL.”
v15. “AND WHEN SHE WAS BAPTIZED, AND HER HOUSEHOLD, SHE BESOUGHT us, SAYING, IF YE HAVE JUDGED ME TO BE FAITHFUL TO THE LORD, COME INTO MY HOUSE, AND ABIDE there. AND SHE CONSTRAINED US.”
Read Acts 16:16-18
v16. AND IT CAME TO PASS, AS WE WENT TO PRAYER, A CERTAIN DAMSEL POSSESSED WITH A SPIRIT OF DIVINATION MET US, WHICH BROUGHT HER MASTERS MUCH GAIN BY SOOTHSAYING.”
his traveling companions visited this place by the river where prayer and
worship were conducted fairly often. I’m
sure that after the conversion of
v17. “THE SAME FOLLOWED PAUL AND US, AND CRIED, SAYING, THESE MEN ARE THE SERVANTS OF THE MOST HIGH GOD, WHICH SHOW UNTO US THE WAY OF SALVATION.”
We were told that she had a spirit of divination; that is she understood by special powers things that ordinary people would not or could not understand. She, or the spirit that possessed her, recognized Paul and his companions for who they really were, servants of the most high God. The spirit also understood about the way of salvation, a concept that is totally foreign to these pagan worshippers. At this juncture she’s drawing a lot of attention, creating a disturbance and generally making a pest of herself.
v18. “AND THIS DID SHE MANY DAYS. BUT PAUL, BEING GRIEVED, TURNED AND SAID TO THE SPIRIT, I COMMAND THEE IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST TO COME OUT OF HER. AND HE CAME OUT THE SAME HOUR.”
This girl just keeps this up, for many days we’re told. Paul is being very patient but even the apostle runs out of patience after a so long a time. He turns to the girl but he doesn’t speak to her does he? He speaks to the spirit that possesses the girl, the one who controls her and commands the spirit to leave her. How is it that Paul has this power? Jesus promised it didn’t he:
Mark “AND THESE SIGNS SHALL FOLLOW THEM THAT BELIEVE; IN MY NAME SHALL THEY CAST OUT DEVILS; THEY SHALL SPEAK WITH NEW TONGUES.”
and Paul casts out the spirit, devil, or demon that possessed this girl.
Read Acts 16:19-24
v19. “AND WHEN HER MASTERS SAW THAT THE HOPE OF THEIR GAINS WAS GONE, THEY CAUGHT PAUL AND SILAS, AND DREW them INTO THE MARKETPLACE UNTO THE RULERS.”
These men are not happy about losing their source of income. They caught Paul and Silas and another translation says they dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. We’re told that this marketplace was much like our courthouse square in the towns near were many of us grew up. In my day was the gathering place for all manner of people, where the men visited while the women shopped on Saturday, which was usually the only day we went to town. Here the rulers gathered there as well; so Paul and Silas have been brought before the magistrates for trial for what they’ve done.
v20. “AND BROUGHT THEM TO THE MAGISTRATES, SAYING, THESE MEN, BEING JEWS, DO EXCEEDINGLY TROUBLE OUR CITY.”
They are accused before the magistrates of being trouble makers. What was the first trouble? They were Jews, their accusers aren’t prejudiced much are they? And they’re also troublemakers because they took away these men’s means of making money. But, as is common, that’s not what they’re accused of is it? No, they’re accused of troubling the whole city. The men of God are charged with being trouble makers –their accusers are sort of like old Ahab aren’t they?
I Kings 18:17-18
“AND IT CAME TO PASS, WHEN AHAB SAW ELIJAH, THAT AHAB
SAID UNTO HIM, art THOU HE THAT TROUBLETH ISRAEL? AND HE ANSWERED, I HAVE NOT TROUBLED
Just as in the case of Ahab, it wasn’t Elijah that troubled
v21. “AND TEACH CUSTOMS, WHICH ARE NOT LAWFUL FOR US TO RECEIVE, NEITHER TO OBSERVE, BEING ROMANS.”
The accusation is made that Paul and Silas are teaching customs that it was unlawful for a Roman to follow, why? We’re told that Roman law forbade a Roman citizen from practicing anything but the official Roman religion. The Romans were pagan, they worshipped pagan gods, and they also worshipped the Caesar didn’t they? The Jews were allowed to worship as they chose and could do so as long as they stayed in their proper place and didn’t try to convert anyone. Most of them weren’t Roman citizens anyway. But Paul and Silas, preaching Jesus, are teaching a new religion; a religion that apparently under their civil law at that place and time was illegal.
v22. “AND THE MULTITUDE ROSE UP TOGETHER AGAINST THEM: AND THE MAGISTRATE RENT OFF THEIR CLOTHES, AND COMMANDED TO BEAT them.”
There is no mob in this particular situation, but rather the people rise up and cause the magistrates or the rulers of the city to enact this punishment. They tear the clothes off Paul and Silas and command that they be beaten. Another translation says that they were to be beaten with rods, and this is probably one of the instances that Paul refers to in II Corinthians11:25 where he tells us that “THRICE WAS I BEATEN WITH RODS.”
v23. “AND WHEN THEY HAD LAID MANY STRIPES UPON THEM, THEY CAST them INTO PRISON, CHARGING THE JAILOR TO KEEP THEM SAFELY.”
How many stripes are many stripes? We don’t know, do we? The Jews’ custom was to give thirty-nine, no more, but the Romans had no such custom and the beating was administered at the whim of the rulers or magistrates that gave the order and we don’t know how many. After being beaten they were turned over to the jailor to be put in prison and the jailor was charged to keep them safety. Now are these rulers concerned about the well being of Paul and Silas in that they want them kept safely? No, they want them kept in such a fashion that there is no danger of them escaping or being allowed to leave this city.
v24. “WHO, HAVING REVEIVED SUCH A CHARGE, THRUST THEM INTO THE INNER PRISON, AND MADE THEIR FEET FAST IN THE STOCKS.”
This jailor takes his job seriously, why? Wasn’t it the custom that if someone lost a prisoner or allowed a prisoner to escape that they were in danger of having to take that prisoner’s place? So this jailer puts them in the inner prison, where they’re surrounded by more than one wall. We’re told by scholars that the Roman prisons had usually had three sections, a courtyard where the prisoners could get light and air, an inner section where they were locked behind iron bars with locks and the innermost section which was a dungeon where only the most dangerous were placed. Apparently Paul and Silas are placed within the innermost section of this prison. Just to make sure that they don’t go anywhere, he puts their feet into stocks. We’ve seen pictures of stocks in our study of the early history of this country and those were probably much like what was used to restrain Paul and Silas.
Read Acts 16:25-40
v25. “AND AT
PAUL AND SILAS PRAYED, AND SANG PRAISES UNTO GOD: AND THE PRISONERS HEARD
Paul and Silas are suffering from their beating, the loss of blood, hunger and they’re locked in stocks in the dungeon and what are they doing? Praying and singing praises unto God. Their spirits aren’t broken, their faith in God isn’t hampered; their praying and singing praises to God is probably a great comfort to them and I think we could understand that. I’m not sure I could do that in those circumstances but do definitely understand that that could be a great source of strength. The other prisoners heard them, but they weren’t the only ones that heard them were they. God heard them as well.
v26. “AND SUDDENLY THERE WAS A GREAT EARTHQUAKE, SO THAT THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE PRISON WERE SHAKEN: AND IMMEDIATELY ALL THE DOORS WERE OPENED, AND EVERY ONE’S BANDS WERE LOOSED.”
God has intervened hasn’t he? This is not the only time that the earth shaking is a manifestation of God’s presence is it?
Acts “AND WHEN THEY HAD PRAYED, THE PLACE WAS SHAKEN WHERE THEY WERE ASSEMBLED TOGETHER; AND THEY WERE ALL FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST, AND THEY SPAKE THE WORD OF GOD WITH BOLDNESS.”
The earthquake was so strong that the very foundations of the prison are shaken. The door frames are moved enough that the bars locking the doors don’t hold the doors closed and they come open. In addition everyone’s bands or stocks were loosed.
v27. “AND THE KEEPER OF THE PRISON AWAKING OUT OF HIS SLEEP, AND SEEING THE PRISON DOORS OPEN, HE DREW OUT HIS SWORD, AND WOULD HAVE KILLED HIMSELF, SUPPOSING THAT THE PRISONERS HAD BEEN FLED.”
The jailer is roused out of his sleep, the prison doors are open and he immediately assumes that all the prisoners that have been left as his responsibility have escaped. He’s in the position of perhaps having to answer for all of them, murderers, thieves, or whoever else may have been in this Philippian prison. He chooses to die rather than face the possibility of the punishment that he will have to endure.
v28. “BUT PAUL CRIED WITH A LOUD VOICE, SAYING, DO THYSELF NO HARM: FOR WE ARE ALL HERE.”
Paul stops the jailer from doing himself harm. They’re all there, no one has escaped and there’s no need for the jailer to do himself in.
v29. “THEN HE CALLED FOR A LIGHT, AND SPANG IN, AND CAME TREMBLING, AND FELL DOWN BEFORE PAUL AND SILAS.”
The jailer calls for a light so that he might see for himself, leaps into the prison cell were Paul and Silas are and falls down in front of them, perhaps to plead for mercy because of the power that he attributes to Paul. Paul is apparently no stranger to this jailer, he may even have known of Paul’s curing of the possessed girl.
v30. “AND BROUGHT THEM OUT, AND SAID, SIRS, WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?”
Again we see that Paul and Paul’s preaching of spiritual salvation is no stranger to the jailer. Perhaps the jailer had even heard Paul preach. He’s faced with this tremendous manifestation of God’s power in behalf of Paul and Silas and asks the obvious question; just like those who asked Peter at Pentecost:
Acts “NOW WHEN THEY HEARD this, THEY WERE PRICKED IN THEIR HEART, AND SAID UNTO PETER AND TO THE REST OF THE APOSTLES, MEN and BRETHREN, WHAT SHALL WE DO?”
Paul himself has been in this position hasn’t he?
Acts 9:6 “AND HE TREMBLING AND ASTONISHED SAID, LORD, WHAT WILT THOU HAVE ME TO DO? AND THE LORD said UNTO HIM, ARISE, AND GO INTO THE CITY, AND IT SHALL BE TOLD THEE WHAT THOU MUST DO.”
So what did Paul tell the jailer? Just give your heart to the Lord? Just believe on Jesus Christ and accept Him as your personal saviour? Just fall down and pray the sinner’s prayer as some of our brethren are starting to preach?
v31. “AND THEY SAID, BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, AND THOU SHALT BE SAVED, AND THY HOUSE.”
They both answer, they said, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, just believe? Of course, we know better. We know from other study that our belief must be an active working belief that leads us to obedience and if we attempt to make this passage teach belief or faith only we violate a number of other scriptures that lay out the entire plan of salvation and misuse and abuse the Word of God.
v32. “AND THEY SPAKE UNTO HIM THE WORD OF THE LORD, AND TO ALL THAT WERE IN HIS HOUSE.”
They continued by teaching him and his household the word of the Lord, the Word of God. Our commentator tells us that the reason that they spake the word of the Lord unto the jailer and his household is because they could not truly believe until they had heard. The implication is that the jailer has simply reacted to the finding of Paul, Silas and the rest of the prisoners had not escaped. That he has professed to believe without understanding what he needs to understand. Therefore they need to teach him the word of the Lord to them more perfectly before the jailor and his household would be ready to accept the commandments of Jesus and put him on in baptism.
v33. “AND HE TOOK THEM THE SAME HOUR OF THE NIGHT, AND WASHED their STRIPES; AND WAS BAPTIZED, HE AND ALL HIS, STRAIGHTWAY.”
He’s taken them from the prison to someplace where their wounds could be tended. And their baptism is tended too immediately as well wasn’t it? They didn’t wait; they were baptized “straightway” or right away.
Sunset church of Christ,
Acts Chapter Sixteen
v34. “AND WHEN HE HAD BROUGHT THEM INTO HIS HOUSE, HE SET MEAT BEFORE THEM, AND REJOICED, BELIEVING IN GOD WITH ALL HIS HOUSE.”
The jailer now does all that he can for Paul and Silas. He brings them into his house, feeds them, as they probably had not been fed in the prison. He’s still responsible for these prisoners, isn’t he? So he carries out that responsibility and does so very well.
v35. “AND WHEN IT WAS DAY, THE MAGISTRATES SENT THE SERJEANTS, SAYING, LET THESE MEN GO.”
The magistrates don’t know what has taken place during the night. They simply send their sergeants to tell the jailer to let these men go.
v36. “AND THE KEEPER OF THE PRISON TOLD THIS SAYING TO PAUL, THE MAGISTRATES HAVE SENT TO LET YOU GO: NOW THEREFORE DEPART, AND GO IN PEACE.”
The jailer receives this information with joy since these men that are now his friends will not have to endure any further punishment. They are to simply be let go and he tells them to depart and go in peace. But Paul is not quite ready to do that just yet. He’s got some things that he wants people, especially these magistrates to understand.
v37. “BUT PAUL SAID UNTO THEM, THEY HAVE BEATEN US OPENLY UNCONDEMNED, BEING ROMANS, AND HAVE CAST us INTO PRISON; AND NOW DO THEY THRUST US OUT PRIVILY? NAY VERILY; BUT LET THEM COME THEMSELVES AND FETCH US OUT.”
Paul makes some serious charges against these magistrates doesn’t he?
They’ve beaten him and Silas publicly, openly in the KJV, publicly in other translations.
They’ve beaten them not as condemned men but rather uncondemned under Roman law.
They’ve beaten men who are Roman citizens. Now wayfaring Jews wouldn’t typically be expected to be Roman citizens would they? The magistrates thought that they could please the people who supported them politically (the owners of the slave girl, who made money from her gift.) and get away with beating these troublesome Jews.
put these men in prison after beating them; in prison without any trial or
formal condemnation by law. Why was this a problem?
Weren’t these men just some troublesome Jews. Not really, apparently both Paul and Silas were
Roman citizens with the full rights of Roman citizens. We know that Paul was; because in
Acts “THEN STRAIGHTWAY THEY DEPARTED FROM HIM WHICH SHOULD HAVE EXAMINED HIM: AND THE CHIEF CAPTAIN ALSO WAS AFRAID, AFTER HE KNEW THAT HE WAS A ROMAN, AND BECAUSE HE HAD BOUND HIM.”
but now we know that Silas was also.
Paul has a legitimate complaint, that his rights as a Roman citizen have been violated, and he makes that complaint. What would be one of the reasons that he should do this? They’re preachers of the gospel. How well would the gospel be received in this Gentile city if Paul and Silas are beaten and as we might phrase it in more modern times “ridden out of town on a rail”? Let the magistrates come and ask us to leave, let them come and fetch us out.
v38. “AND THE SERJEANTS TOLD THESE WORDS UNTO THE MAGISTRATES: AND THEY FEARED, WHEN THEY HEARD THAT THEY WERE ROMANS.”
these magistrates fear Paul and Silas? They
have violated their civil rights as Roman citizens. These magistrates could be hauled, as it were,
into federal court in
v39. “AND THEY CAME AND BESOUGHT THEM, AND BROUGHT them OUT, AND DESIRED them TO DEPART OUT OF THE CITY.”
They came and besought them; the implication is that they begged them to leave the city. These magistrates were still fearful that Paul and Silas would bring some harm to them because of their beating. They are anxious to get them gone, so they bring them out of the prison and beseech them to leave the city.
v40. “AND THEY WENT OUT OF THE PRISON, AND ENTERED
leave the prison, go to