Acts 16

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Timothy Joins Paul and Silas

1 Paul[a] came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named 1Timothy, 2the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek.
2 He was well spoken of by 3the brothers[b] at Lystra and Iconium.
3 Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he 4took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.
4 As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance 5the decisions 6that had been reached by 7the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem.
5 8So the churches were strengthened in 9the faith, and they increased in numbers 10daily.

The Macedonian Call

6 And 11they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.
7 And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but 12the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.
8 So, passing by Mysia, they went down 13to Troas.
9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us."
10 And when Paul[c] had seen the vision, immediately 14we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

The Conversion of Lydia

11 So, setting sail from Troas, we 15made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis,
12 and from there to 16Philippi, which is a leading city of the[d] district of Macedonia and 17a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days.
13 And 18on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate 19to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we 20sat down and spoke to the women who had come together.
14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, 21who was a worshiper of God. The Lord 22opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.
15 And after she was baptized, 23and her household as well, she urged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." And she 24prevailed upon us.

Paul and Silas in Prison

16 As we were going to 25the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had 26a spirit of 27divination and 28brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling.
17 She followed Paul and us, 29crying out, "These men are 30servants[e] of 31the Most High God, who proclaim to you 32the way of salvation."
18 And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, 33"I command you 34in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And 35it came out that very hour.
19 But 36when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and 37dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers.
20 And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, "These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city.
21 They 38advocate customs that are not lawful for us 39as Romans to accept or practice."
22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders 40to beat them with rods.
23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely.
24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner 41prison and fastened their feet in 42the stocks.

The Philippian Jailer Converted

25 43About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,
26 and suddenly 44there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately 45all the doors were opened, and 46everyone's bonds were unfastened.
27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and 47was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.
28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, "Do not harm yourself, for we are all here."
29 And the jailer[f] called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he 48fell down before Paul and Silas.
30 Then he brought them out and said, "Sirs, 49what must I do to be 50saved?"
31 And they said, 51"Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you 52and your household."
32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.
33 And he took them 53the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he 54was baptized at once, he and all his family.
34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he 55rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.
35 But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, "Let those men go."
36 And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, "The magistrates have sent to let you go. Therefore come out now and go in peace."
37 But Paul said to them, "They have beaten us publicly, 56uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out."
38 The police reported these words to the magistrates, and 57they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens.
39 So they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and 58asked them to leave the city.
40 So they went out of the prison and visited 59Lydia. And when they had seen 60the brothers, they encouraged them and 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.

Cross References 60

  • 1. Acts 17:14; Acts 18:5; Acts 19:22; Acts 20:4; Romans 16:21; 1 Corinthians 4:17; Philippians 2:19; Colossians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Timothy 1:2, 18; 2 Timothy 1:2
  • 2. 2 Timothy 1:5; 2 Timothy 3:15
  • 3. See John 21:23
  • 4. [Galatians 2:3]
  • 5. Acts 17:7
  • 6. Acts 15:28, 29
  • 7. See Acts 15:2
  • 8. [Acts 9:31]
  • 9. See Acts 6:7
  • 10. Acts 2:47
  • 11. Acts 18:23; [Galatians 4:13]
  • 12. Romans 8:9; Galatians 4:6; Philippians 1:19; 1 Peter 1:11; [ver. 6; Acts 8:29]
  • 13. Acts 20:5, 6; 2 Corinthians 2:12; 2 Timothy 4:13
  • 14. ver. 11-17; Acts 20:5-8, 13-15; Acts 21:1-18; Acts 27:1 - 28:16
  • 15. Acts 21:1
  • 16. Philippians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:2
  • 17. [ver. 21]
  • 18. See Acts 13:14
  • 19. [Ezra 8:15, 21; Psalms 137:1]
  • 20. Matthew 5:1
  • 21. Acts 18:7
  • 22. See Luke 24:45
  • 23. See Acts 11:14
  • 24. Genesis 19:3; Luke 24:29
  • 25. ver. 13
  • 26. Luke 13:11
  • 27. See Leviticus 19:31
  • 28. ver. 19
  • 29. See James 2:19
  • 30. Daniel 3:26
  • 31. See Mark 5:7
  • 32. [Acts 9:2; Matthew 7:14]
  • 33. [Mark 1:25, 34]
  • 34. See Mark 9:38
  • 35. [Matthew 17:18]
  • 36. ver. 16; [Acts 19:25, 26]
  • 37. Acts 17:6-8; Acts 21:30; James 2:6; [Acts 8:3; Acts 18:12; Matthew 10:18]
  • 38. [Esther 3:8]
  • 39. [ver. 12]
  • 40. 2 Corinthians 6:5; 2 Corinthians 11:23-25; 1 Thessalonians 2:2
  • 41. See Luke 21:12
  • 42. Job 13:27; Job 33:11; Jeremiah 20:2, 3; Jeremiah 29:26
  • 43. Job 35:10; Psalms 42:8; Psalms 77:6; Psalms 119:62
  • 44. See Acts 4:31
  • 45. Acts 5:19; Acts 12:10
  • 46. Acts 12:7
  • 47. [Acts 12:19; Acts 27:42; 1 Kings 20:39]
  • 48. Acts 10:25
  • 49. Acts 2:37; Acts 22:10; Luke 3:10, 12, 14; [John 6:28, 29]
  • 50. [ver. 17]
  • 51. See Mark 16:16
  • 52. See Acts 11:14
  • 53. ver. 25
  • 54. See Acts 8:12
  • 55. Psalms 9:14; Psalms 13:5; Isaiah 25:9; Luke 1:47; 1 Peter 1:6, 8; [Acts 2:46]
  • 56. Acts 22:25, 29
  • 57. [See ver. 37 above]
  • 58. [Matthew 8:34]
  • 59. ver. 14
  • 60. See John 21:23

Footnotes 6

Acts 16 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.