Acts 16

The Macedonian Vision

1 Paul came also to 1Derbe and to 2Lystra. And a disciple was there, named 3Timothy, the son of a 4Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek,
2 and he was well spoken of by 5the brethren who were in 6Lystra and 7Iconium.
3 Paul wanted this man to go with him; and he 8took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.
4 Now while they were passing through the cities, they were delivering 9the decrees which had been decided upon by 10the apostles and 11elders who were in Jerusalem, for them to observe.
5 So 12the churches were being strengthened in the faith, and were 13increasing in number daily *.
6 They passed through the 14Phrygian and 15Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in 16Asia;
7 and after they came to 17Mysia, they were trying to go into 18Bithynia, and the 19Spirit of Jesus did not permit them;
8 and passing by 20Mysia, they came down to 21Troas.
9 22A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of 23Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us."
10 When he had seen 24the vision, immediately 25we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to 26preach the gospel to them.
11 So putting out to sea from 27Troas, we ran 28a straight course to Samothrace, and on the day following to Neapolis;
12 and from there to 29Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of 30Macedonia, 31a Roman colony; and we were staying in this city for some days.
13 And on 32the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside *, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled.

First Convert in Europe

14 A woman named Lydia, from the city of 33Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, 34a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord 35opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.
15 And when she and 36her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay." And she prevailed upon us.
16 It happened that as we were going to 37the place of prayer, a slave-girl having 38a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortune-telling.
17 Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, "These men are bond-servants of 39the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation."
18 She continued doing this for many days. But Paul was greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, "I command you 40in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!" And it came out at that very moment.
19 But when her masters saw that their hope of 41profit was gone, they seized 42Paul and Silas and 43dragged them into the market place before the authorities,
20 and when they had brought them to the chief magistrates, they said, "These men are throwing our city into confusion, being Jews,
21 and 44are proclaiming customs which it is not lawful for us to accept or to observe, being 45Romans."

Paul and Silas Imprisoned

22 The crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order them to be 46beaten with rods.
23 When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding 47the jailer to guard them securely;
24 and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in 48the stocks.
25 But about midnight 49Paul and Silas were praying and 50singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them;
26 and suddenly 51there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately 52all the doors were opened and everyone's 53chains were unfastened.
27 When 54the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about 55to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.
28 But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!"
29 And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before 56Paul and Silas,
30 and after he brought them out, he said, "Sirs, 57what must I do to be saved?"

The Jailer Converted

31 They said, "58Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and 59your household."
32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house.
33 And he took them 60that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household.
34 And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with 61his whole household.
35 Now when day came, the chief magistrates sent their policemen, saying, "Release those men."
36 And 62the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, "The chief magistrates have sent to release you. Therefore come out now and go 63in peace."
37 But Paul said to them, "They have beaten us in public without trial, 64men who are Romans, and have thrown us into prison; and now are they sending us away secretly? No indeed! But let them come themselves and bring us out."
38 The policemen reported these words to the chief magistrates. 65They were afraid when they heard that they were Romans,
39 and they came and appealed to them, and when they had brought them out, they kept begging them 66to leave the city.
40 They went out of the prison and entered the house of 67Lydia, and when they saw 68the brethren, they encouraged them and departed.

Images for Acts 16

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 68

  • 1. Acts 14:6
  • 2. Acts 14:6
  • 3. Acts 17:14; Acts 18:5; Acts 19:22; Acts 20:4; Romans 16:21; 1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 16:10; 2 Corinthians 1:1, 19; Philippians 1:1; Philippians 2:19; Colossians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:2, 6; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Timothy 1:2, 18; 1 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 1:2; Philemon 1; Hebrews 13:23
  • 4. 2 Timothy 1:5; 2 Timothy 3:15
  • 5. Acts 16:40
  • 6. Acts 14:6
  • 7. Acts 13:51
  • 8. Galatians 2:3
  • 9. Acts 15:28
  • 10. Acts 15:2
  • 11. Acts 11:30
  • 12. Acts 9:31
  • 13. Acts 2:47
  • 14. Acts 2:10; Acts 18:23
  • 15. Acts 18:23; 1 Corinthians 16:1; Galatians 1:2; Galatians 3:1; 2 Timothy 4:10; 1 Peter 1:1
  • 16. Acts 2:9
  • 17. Acts 16:8
  • 18. 1 Peter 1:1
  • 19. Luke 24:49; Acts 8:29; Romans 8:9; Galatians 4:6; Philippians 1:19; 1 Peter 1:11
  • 20. Acts 16:7
  • 21. Acts 16:11; Acts 20:5; 2 Corinthians 2:12; 2 Timothy 4:13
  • 22. Acts 9:10
  • 23. Acts 16:10, 12; Acts 18:5; Acts 19:21f, 29; Acts 20:1, 3; Acts 27:2; Romans 15:26
  • 24. Acts 9:10
  • 25. [we] Acts 16:10-17; Acts 20:5-15; Acts 21:1-18; Acts 27:1-28:16
  • 26. Acts 14:7
  • 27. Acts 16:8; Acts 20:5; 2 Corinthians 2:12; 2 Timothy 4:13
  • 28. Acts 21:1
  • 29. Acts 20:6; Philippians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:2
  • 30. Acts 16:9, 10; Acts 18:5; Acts 19:21f, 29; Acts 20:1, 3; Acts 27:2; Romans 15:26
  • 31. Acts 16:21
  • 32. Acts 13:14
  • 33. Revelation 1:11; Revelation 2:18, 24
  • 34. Acts 13:43; Acts 18:7
  • 35. Luke 24:45
  • 36. Acts 11:14
  • 37. Acts 16:13
  • 38. Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:6, 27; Deuteronomy 18:11; 1 Samuel 28:3, 7; 2 Kings 21:6; 1 Chronicles 10:13; Isaiah 8:19
  • 39. Mark 5:7
  • 40. Mark 16:17
  • 41. Acts 16:16; Acts 19:25
  • 42. Acts 15:22, 40; Acts 16:25, 29
  • 43. Acts 8:3; Acts 17:6; Acts 21:30; James 2:6
  • 44. Esther 3:8
  • 45. Acts 16:12
  • 46. 2 Corinthians 11:25; 1 Thessalonians 2:2
  • 47. Acts 16:27, 36
  • 48. Job 13:27; Job 33:11; Jeremiah 20:2; Jeremiah 29:26
  • 49. Acts 16:19
  • 50. Ephesians 5:19
  • 51. Acts 4:31
  • 52. Acts 12:10
  • 53. Acts 12:7
  • 54. Acts 16:23, 36
  • 55. Acts 12:19
  • 56. Acts 16:19
  • 57. Acts 2:37; Acts 22:10
  • 58. Mark 16:16
  • 59. Acts 11:14; Acts 16:15
  • 60. Acts 16:25
  • 61. Acts 11:14; Acts 16:15
  • 62. Acts 16:27
  • 63. Acts 15:33
  • 64. Acts 22:25-29
  • 65. Acts 22:29
  • 66. Matthew 8:34
  • 67. Acts 16:14
  • 68. Acts 1:15; Acts 16:2

Footnotes 17

Acts 16 Commentaries

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