You Can Provide Clean Water to Persecuted Christians

Acts 16

1 Sha'ul came down to Derbe and went on to Lystra, where there lived a talmid named Timothy. He was the son of a Jewish woman who had come to trust, and a Greek father.
2 All the brothers in Lystra and Iconium spoke well of Timothy.
3 Sha'ul wanted Timothy to accompany him; so he took him and did a b'rit-milah, because of the Jews living in those areas; for they all knew that his father had been a Greek.
4 As they went on through the towns, they delivered to the people the decisions reached by the emissaries and the elders in Yerushalayim for them to observe.
5 Accordingly, the congregations were strengthened in the faith and increased in number day by day.
6 They traveled through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, because they had been prevented by the Ruach HaKodesh from speaking the message in the province of Asia.
7 When they came to the frontier of Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia; but the Spirit of Yeshua would not let them.
8 So, after passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas.
9 There a vision appeared to Sha'ul at night. A man from Macedonia was standing and begging him, "Come over to Macedonia and help us!"
10 As soon as he had seen the vision, we lost no time getting ready to leave for Macedonia; for we concluded that God had called us to proclaim the Good News to them.
11 Sailing from Troas, we made a straight run to Samothrace; the next day we went to Neapolis;
12 and from there, we went on to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that part of Macedonia. We spent a few days in this city;
13 then on Shabbat, we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we understood a minyan met. We sat down and began speaking to the women who had gathered there.
14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in fine purple cloth. She was already a "God-fearer," and the Lord opened up her heart to respond to what Sha'ul was saying.
15 After she and the members of her household had been immersed, she gave us this invitation: "If you consider me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay in my house." And she insisted till we went.
16 Once, when we were going to the place where the minyan gathered, we were met by a slave girl who had in her a snake-spirit that enabled her to predict the future. She earned a lot of money for her owners by telling fortunes.
17 This girl followed behind Sha'ul and the rest of us and kept screaming, "These men are servants of God Ha'Elyon! They're telling you how to be saved!"
18 She kept this up day after day, until Sha'ul, greatly disturbed, turned and said to the spirit, "In the name of Yeshua the Messiah, I order you to come out of her!" And the spirit did come out, at that very moment.
19 But when her owners saw that what had come out was any further prospect of profit for them, they seized Sha'ul and Sila and dragged them to the market square to face the authorities.
20 Bringing them to the judges, they said, "These men are causing a lot of trouble in our city, since they are Jews.
21 What they are doing is advocating customs that are against the law for us to accept or practice, since we are Romans."
22 The mob joined in the attack against them, and the judges tore their clothes off them and ordered that they be flogged.
23 After giving them a severe beating, they threw them in prison, charging the jailer to guard them securely.
24 Upon receiving such an order, he threw them into the inner cell and clamped their feet securely between heavy blocks of wood.
25 Around midnight, Sha'ul and Sila were praying and singing hymns to God, while the other prisoners listened attentively.
26 Suddenly there was a violent earthquake which shook the prison to its foundations. All the doors flew open and everyone's chains came loose.
27 The jailer awoke, and when he saw the doors open he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, for he assumed that the prisoners had escaped.
28 But Sha'ul shouted, "Don't harm yourself! We're all here!"
29 Calling for lights, the jailer ran in, began to tremble and fell down in front of Sha'ul and Sila.
30 Then, leading them outside, he said, "Men, what must I do to be saved?"
31 They said, "Trust in the Lord Yeshua, and you will be saved - you and your household!"
32 Whereupon they told him and everyone in his household the message about the Lord.
33 Then, even at that late hour of the night, the jailer took them and washed off their wounds; and without delay, he and all his people were immersed.
34 After that, he brought them up to his house and set food in front of them; and he and his entire household celebrated their having come to trust in God.
35 The next morning, the judges sent police officers with the order, "Release those men."
36 The jailer told Sha'ul, "The judges have sent word to release both of you. So come out, and go on your way in peace."
37 But Sha'ul said to the officers, "After flogging us in public when we hadn't been convicted of any crime and are Roman citizens, they threw us in prison. Now they want to get rid of us secretly? Oh, no! Let them come and escort us out themselves!"
38 The officers reported these words to the judges, who became frightened when they heard that Sha'ul and Sila were Roman citizens.
39 They came and apologized to them; then, after escorting them out, requested them to leave the city.
40 From the prison they went to Lydia's house, and after seeing and encouraging the brothers they departed.

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Acts 16 Commentary

Chapter 16

Paul takes Timothy to be his assistant. (1-5) Paul proceeds to Macedonia, The conversion of Lydia. (6-15) An evil spirit cast out, Paul and Silas scourged and imprisoned. (16-24) The conversion of the jailer at Philippi. (25-34) Paul and Silas released. (35-40)

Verses 1-5 Well may the church look for much service from youthful ministers who set out in the same spirit as Timothy. But when men will submit in nothing, and oblige in nothing, the first elements of the Christian temper seem to be wanting; and there is great reason to believe that the doctrines and precepts of the gospel will not be successfully taught. The design of the decree being to set aside the ceremonial law, and its carnal ordinances, believers were confirmed in the Christian faith, because it set up a spiritual way of serving God, as suited to the nature both of God and man. Thus the church increased in numbers daily.

Verses 6-15 The removals of ministers, and the dispensing the means of grace by them, are in particular under Divine conduct and direction. We must follow Providence: and whatever we seek to do, if that suffer us not, we ought to submit and believe to be for the best. People greatly need help for their souls, it is their duty to look out for it, and to invite those among them who can help them. And God's calls must be complied with readily. A solemn assembly the worshippers of God must have, if possible, upon the sabbath day. If we have not synagogues, we must be thankful for more private places, and resort to them; not forsaking the assembling together, as our opportunities are. Among the hearers of Paul was a woman, named Lydia. She had an honest calling, which the historian notices to her praise. Yet though she had a calling to mind, she found time to improve advantages for her soul. It will not excuse us from religious duties, to say, We have a trade to mind; for have not we also a God to serve, and souls to look after? Religion does not call us from our business in the world, but directs us in it. Pride, prejudice, and sin shut out the truths of God, till his grace makes way for them into the understanding and affections; and the Lord alone can open the heart to receive and believe his word. We must believe in Jesus Christ; there is no coming to God as a Father, but by the Son as Mediator.

Verses 16-24 Satan, though the father of lies, will declare the most important truths, when he can thereby serve his purposes. But much mischief is done to the real servants of Christ, by unholy and false preachers of the gospel, who are confounded with them by careless observers. Those who do good by drawing men from sin, may expect to be reviled as troublers of the city. While they teach men to fear God, to believe in Christ, to forsake sin, and to live godly lives, they will be accused of teaching bad customs.

Verses 25-34 The consolations of God to his suffering servants are neither few nor small. How much more happy are true Christians than their prosperous enemies! As in the dark, so out of the depths, we may cry unto God. No place, no time is amiss for prayer, if the heart be lifted up to God. No trouble, however grievous, should hinder us from praise. Christianity proves itself to be of God, in that it obliges us to be just to our own lives. Paul cried aloud to make the jailer hear, and to make him heed, saying, Do thyself no harm. All the cautions of the word of God against sin, and all appearances of it, and approaches to it, have this tendency. Man, woman, do not ruin thyself; hurt not thyself, and then none else can hurt thee; do not sin, for nothing but that can hurt thee. Even as to the body, we are cautioned against the sins which do harm to that. Converting grace changes people's language of and to good people and good ministers. How serious the jailer's inquiry! His salvation becomes his great concern; that lies nearest his heart, which before was furthest from his thoughts. It is his own precious soul that he is concerned about. Those who are thoroughly convinced of sin, and truly concerned about their salvation, will give themselves up to Christ. Here is the sum of the whole gospel, the covenant of grace in a few words; Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. The Lord so blessed the word, that the jailer was at once softened and humbled. He treated them with kindness and compassion, and, professing faith in Christ, was baptized in that name, with his family. The Spirit of grace worked such a strong faith in them, as did away further doubt; and Paul and Silas knew by the Spirit, that a work of God was wrought in them. When sinners are thus converted, they will love and honour those whom they before despised and hated, and will seek to lessen the suffering they before desired to increase. When the fruits of faith begin to appear, terrors will be followed by confidence and joy in God.

Verses 35-40 Paul, though willing to suffer for the cause of Christ, and without any desire to avenge himself, did not choose to depart under the charge of having deserved wrongful punishment, and therefore required to be dismissed in an honourable manner. It was not a mere point of honour that the apostle stood upon, but justice, and not to himself so much as to his cause. And when proper apology is made, Christians should never express personal anger, nor insist too strictly upon personal amends. The Lord will make them more than conquerors in every conflict; instead of being cast down by their sufferings, they will become comforters of their brethren.

Acts 16 Commentaries

Complete Jewish Bible Copyright 1998 by David H. Stern. Published by Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.