Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
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:Acts 16:1-12. Paul revisits derbe and lystra, chooses Timothy for a companion in his mission, and circumcises him. They pass through Phrygia and Galatia, and come into Mysia and to Troas. By a vision Paul is called into Macedonia. He crosses the sea and remains some days at Philippi
1. to Derbe and Lystra] Thus beginning the revisiting spoken of in Acts 15:36. See notes on Acts 14:6.
was there] The verb does not make it certain that Lystra, to which ἐκεῖ is most naturally referred, was the birthplace of Timothy, but only his home at the date of Paul’s visit. He must however have resided there a good while to have earned the favourable report of the people both of that place and Iconium.
named Timotheus] The Timothy to whom St Paul addresses two Epistles and who was the companion of his labours in this journey until his return into Proconsular Asia (Acts 20:4). He was the son of a Jewish-Christian mother, and his father was a Greek, whether a proselyte of the gate or not, we are not told. The mother’s name was Eunice (2 Timothy 1:4) and the grandmother’s Lois. Timothy is spoken of as a fellow-worker with St Paul (Romans 16:21). From 1 Corinthians 4:17 we find that he was St Paul’s messenger to that church, and he is joined with that Apostle in the greeting of 2nd Corinthians. He also went to and fro between St Paul and the church in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 3:2; 1 Thessalonians 3:6) and must have been at Rome with St Paul, soon after the Apostle’s arrival there, for he is mentioned in the Epistles to the Philippians (Acts 1:1, Acts 2:19), to the Colossians (Acts 1:1) and to Philemon (Acts 16:1). An imprisonment which he underwent is alluded to (Hebrews 13:23), but we cannot be certain when or where it was. According to tradition (Eus. H. E. iii. 14) he was the first bishop of Ephesus, and is said to have suffered martyrdom at the hands of the populace (Niceph. H. E. iii. 11).
the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed] More strictly and according to the oldest texts, “the son of a Jewess which believed.” (So R. V.) Her earnest education of her son in the holy Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:15) from his early youth marks the character of the woman, and makes it probable that the husband of such a woman was at least a proselyte of the gate. Timothy’s father is so little mentioned that it seems likely he had died early.
a Greek] i.e. a Gentile by birth. The word was used widely of all who were not Jews.
Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium.2. well reported of] The same expression is used of Cornelius (Acts 10:22) and by Paul of Ananias (Acts 22:12).
by the brethren] i.e. the members of the Christian churches. Five or six years had elapsed since the previous visit of St Paul, so that the congregations had become somewhat formed, and the characters of their more earnest members well known.
at Lystra and Iconium] Thus we can see that there was an interchange of kindly offices between the newly-founded churches.
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.3. and circumcised him] It must be remembered that the decree of the synod of Jerusalem only related to the exemption of Gentiles from circumcision. It was a very different thing for a Jew to consent to become a fellow-worshipper in the Christian churches with a Gentile who remained uncircumcised, and to tolerate, at this time, the non-observance of the rite by one who was counted for a Jew. For by the Rabbinical code the child of a Jewish mother was reckoned as a Jew (T. J. Jebamoth, ii. 6). It was because of this prejudice that Timothy was circumcised. It could be no offence to the Gentiles, and would render the labours of Timothy more acceptable to the Jews. Because he was the child of a mixed marriage the rite had been unobserved, and so long as he did not come forward as a teacher, there would be no need felt that it should be enforced, and there would be doubtless many others of a like class. But when he was to take a share in the missionary labours of St Paul all this was altered. He would at once have been met with the objection from the Jews, that he who had been but a bad Jew was not likely to guide others right as a Christian teacher. That St Paul saw no inconsistency in what was done in this matter is clear, for the narrative of St Luke tells us in the next verse that to the churches to which they went forth he delivered the decrees of the synod at Jerusalem.
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 Jerusalem.4. they delivered them] i.e. they gave to the Gentile-Christians the decrees to observe, for there was nothing in them which a Jew would be likely to disregard. All that would be needed for the Jews in such cities would be to explain the terms on which Gentiles were to be admitted to the Christian communion.
And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.5. established in the faith] The verb is peculiar to the Acts, and is used (Acts 3:7; Acts 3:16) of the strengthening of the limbs of the lame man at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple. So its employment here indicates that thus the church was now prepared to make great progress. The barrier to Gentile admission was removed, and so the number of Christians multiplied daily.
Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,6. Now when they had gone throughout] The oldest MSS. merely say and they went through.
Phrygia and the region of Galatia] Scarcely the direction, so far as population was concerned, which would have been chosen by them of their own accord, but the inner admonition of the Holy Ghost kept them from entering Proconsular Asia. The news of the events at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost were known to some in Phrygia already (Acts 2:10), but of Galatia the history has yet made no mention, though we know from St Paul’s Epistle to that church that he afterwards had the warmest interest in and greatest anxiety concerning the Christians there, among whom Judaizers wrought like mischief with that done in Antioch. From some expressions of St Paul (Galatians 4:19) it seems likely that it was from his own preaching at this time that churches in Galatia were founded.
and were forbidden] Better, having been forbidden. As they had been forbidden the one route, they went by the other. Probably St Luke says little about the events in this part of the journey, for his language below (Acts 16:10) seems to shew that he only joined St Paul at Troas.
in Asia] See note on Acts 2:9.
After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.7. were come to Mysia] The Greek scarcely says this. The preposition would be better rendered over against. The course of the journey seems to have been through Galatia and Phrygia, until they got so far to the west as to be opposite to, and on the borders of, Mysia. From this point they were inclined to go north into Bithynia, rather than further to the west, but were again hindered of their intention.
they assayed] i.e. ‘made the attempt,’ ‘tried.’ Cp. Coverdale’s Works (Parker Soc.), p. 113: “As long as the physician hath any hope of the recovery of his patient, he assayeth all manner of means and medicines with him.”
but the Spirit suffered them not] The oldest authorities read “the Spirit of Jesus suffered them not.” In like manner (Romans 8:9) the “Spirit of God” is called also the “Spirit of Christ.” Cp. also Galatians 4:6; Php 1:19; 1 Peter 1:11.
And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.8. And they passing by Mysia] i.e. without preaching in that district, which was a part of Proconsular Asia, where they were not permitted to preach.
came down to Troas] The well-known seaport on the coast of Mysia.
And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.9. a vision appeared] So also to Ananias (Acts 9:10). Cp. also Acts 10:3; Acts 10:17; Acts 10:19, Acts 11:5, Acts 12:9, Acts 18:9. This was a part of the fulfilment of the prophecy of Joel about which St Peter spake on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:17).
a man of Macedonia] The words which he spake made clear his nationality.
And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.10. we endeavoured] More literally and better, we sought. (So R. V.) The steps taken would be in the way of enquiry how and when they could get across the sea to Europe. Here the writer begins to speak in the first person as if at this point he became a sharer in St Paul’s labours. This he continues till Acts 16:17.
to go into Macedonia] The word is stronger than the ordinary verb “to go” and = go forth, an expression very suitable to the first missionary journey from Asia into Europe. This is also as R. V.
assuredly gathering] The verb has the sense of “coming to a conclusion from putting things side by side.” So it is rendered “proving” in Acts 9:22 and elsewhere. Here it means “deeming it to be proved.”
Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis;11. Samothracia] This island lies in the north of the Aegean Sea, opposite to that part of the Thracian coast at which the river Hebrus empties itself.
Neapolis] The port of Philippi. This place is generally identified with the modern Kavalla. On the discussion about its identity, see Dictionary of the Bible (s. v.)
And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.12. and from thence to Philippi] As the same verb is used for the whole description of the journey, it seems that the whole was made by ship.
which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony] Better and more in accord with the oldest MSS. “which is a city of Macedonia, the first of the district, a colony.” (So R. V.) Philippi and the country round had long been famous by reason of the neighbouring gold mines. At the time of St Paul’s visit it was held by the Romans, and a colony had been founded there by Augustus. The civil magistrates and the military authorities were Roman. Hence the fear when they heard that prisoners whom they had scourged were Roman citizens. For a history of Philippi, see Dict. of the Bible.
It should be borne in mind that a Roman colony was not like what we now call a colony. The inhabitants did not settle as they pleased, but were sent out by authority from Rome, marching to their destination like an army with banners, and they reproduced, where they settled, a close resemblance of Roman rule and life. They were planted on the frontiers of the empire for protection, and as a check upon the provincial magistrates. The names of those who went were still enrolled in the lists of the tribes of Rome. Latin was their language, and they used the Roman coinage, and had their chief magistrates sent out or appointed from the mother city. Thus were they very closely united with Rome, and entirely free from any intrusion on the part of the governors of the provinces.
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.13–34. Preaching on the Sabbath at Philippi. Conversion and baptism of Lydia. A spirit of divination cast out by Paul. Anger of those who made gain thereby. Paul and Silas are seized, brought before the authorities, scourged and imprisoned, but the prison doors are opened by a miracle. Conversion and baptism of the jailor and his household
13. where prayer was wont to be made] Proseuche here and in Acts 16:16 is the place of prayer, and, adopting the reading now most accepted, the English would be “where we supposed there was a place of prayer.” (So R. V.) The Jews had such proseuchai sometimes in buildings, sometimes in the open air, as was the case in this instance. The word is found in this sense in Josephus, De vita sua, 54. They are described by Philo (ed. Mang.) ii. 282. They were very numerous in Rome (see Mayor, Juvenal, iii. 296). Because of Jewish ceremonial washings they were, when in the open air, as often as might be, near a river-side or on the sea-shore. Cp. Ezra 8:15; Ezra 8:21. And no doubt the language of Psalm 137:1, “By the rivers of Babylon we sat down” applies to a similar state of things.
we sat down] The attitude adopted by Jewish teachers.
unto the women which resorted thither] Better (as R. V.), “which were come together.” The Greek refers to those gathered together on this particular occasion only. Considering the little regard which the Jews had for women as persons to be conversed with and taught, it is noteworthy how large a part women play both in the Gospel History and in the Acts. It was one effect of Christianity to place woman in her true position.
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.14. named Lydia] This may have been her proper name, or it may only have been that by which she passed among the colonists of Philippi, being from the Lydian town of Thyatira. From inscriptions which have been found on the site of the ancient town, it is clear that dyeing was one of the staple trades of Thyatira, and it was from thence that Lydia brought over the purple which she sold in Philippi.
Thyatira] On the river Lycus in Lydia. To be distinguished from the river of the same name in Phrygia on which were situated Laodicæa, Hierapolis and Colossæ, in all which places the congregations afterwards became objects of St Paul’s great affection and interest. Colossians 4:13.
which worshipped God] i.e. had become a proselyte of the Jewish faith.
whose heart the Lord opened] St Luke recognizes that without this the word would have made no entrance. He probably makes special mention of this here because he had previously stated that the Lord had called them to preach at Philippi. Having pointed out their work, He helps them to perform it.
that she attended] She gave such heed as to be convinced of their truth. The same verb occurs Acts 8:6, and from the context both there and here we see that it implies “gave credence unto.”
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.15. and her household] Of a like baptizing of a household see below (Acts 16:33), and also cp. Acts 11:14. We are not justified in concluding from these passages that infants were baptized. “Household” might mean slaves and freedwomen.
and abide there] Like the two disciples who followed Jesus (John 1:38) Lydia was anxious to have the teachers, whose lessons she found so suited to the needs of her opened heart, near unto her.
she constrained us] Used only by St Luke in N. T. here and Luke 24:29 of the two disciples at Emmaus. The force used was that of a prayer which would hear no “Nay.”
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:16. as we went to prayer] Better, as we were going to the place of prayer, see on Acts 16:13. For though the Greek noun here is without the article it is clearly to be rendered as in the previous verse. This must have been on another occasion than that on which Lydia was converted. For in the expression “she constrained us” it seems implied that they had already taken up their abode there before the events recorded in this verse.
possessed with a spirit of divination] More literally, and according to the oldest MSS. which make the two nouns in apposition, having a spirit, a Python. According to Plutarch (De def. Orac. 9) those persons who practised ventriloquism, called also ἐγγαστρίμυθοι, were named Pythons. But the damsel in this history clearly laid claim to some prophetic power, and was used as a means of foreknowing the future. So that word Python is here better referred to the name of Apollo, the heathen god of prophecy, and the A.V. “spirit of divination” gives the correct idea.
her masters] Some persons, who having found a strange power in the maiden, made use of it, as has oft been done, for their own purposes of gain, and persuaded the people to resort unto her with their questions.
by soothsaying] The word is only found here in the N. T., and wherever it occurs in the LXX. it is always used of the words of lying prophets (Deuteronomy 18:10; 1 Samuel 28:8; Ezekiel 13:6; Ezekiel 13:23; Micah 3:11); so that here we are constrained to take it in the same sense “by pretending to foretell the future.”
The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.17. followed Paul and us, and cried] Whatever the nature of the mental and spiritual malady under which this damsel suffered, it produced on her the like effect which is recorded of evil spirits in the history of Jesus (Mark 1:25; Luke 4:41), and forced her to confess to the true character of the Christian teachers. The devils believe and tremble (James 2:19).
After this verse the writer ceases for a time to indicate by his language that he was with St Paul, but in Acts 20:5, where the Apostle comes once again to Philippi, the first person plural appears in the narrative. It seems therefore not improbable that St Luke was left behind to labour for the spread of the Gospel in Macedonia and only taken away again by St Paul after the work had been well established.
most high God] Cf. the words of the demoniac, Mark 5:7.
shew unto us] The older reading is “unto you.”
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.18. this did she many days] Whether this following took place only on the sabbaths, when the Apostles were going to the place of prayer, in which case the Apostles must have remained in Philippi some weeks, or whether it was on every occasion on which they appeared in public, we are not told.
Paul, being grieved] The Greek verb is somewhat stronger, and signifies “to be thoroughly worn out with annoyance.” It is used (Acts 4:2), and nowhere else but here besides in N. T., of the annoyance of the priests and Sadducees at the teaching of the Apostles.
said to the spirit] As Christ had acted when on earth, so Paul now will not allow the cry of the evil spirit, even though the words proclaim that he and his companions are servants of the Most High God. So in Christ’s name he bids the evil power come forth.
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,19. that the hope of their gains was gone] The verb is exactly the same as in the last clause of the previous verse. When the evil spirit came out, there came out also the chance of more gain. What the damsel herself may have thought of her own power we cannot tell, but probably, for their end of money-making, the masters had persuaded her that her ravings were prophetic.
they caught Paul and Silas] As being the two most prominent members of the mission party.
into the market-place] The great place of concourse, and where, as in the Roman forum, would be the seat of the authorities.
unto the rulers] The Greek word is the general one for rulers, and signifies “the authorities,” the special members thereof being indicated by the next verse.
And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,20. and brought them to the magistrates] These strategoi were the duumviri, the two praetors specially appointed to preside over the administration of justice, in cases where there was no appeal to Rome, in the municipia and colonies of the Romans. The title in the Greek seems to indicate somewhat of a military authority, which could administer summary punishment.
being Jews] On the ways in which Roman aversion was aroused and exhibited towards the Jews, for their religious exclusiveness, see Mayor, Juvenal, xiv. 96–106 notes, with the authorities there given.
do exceedingly trouble] Only found here in the N. T. The kind of trouble is indicated Acts 17:6, “These that have turned the world upside down” is their description.
And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.21. and teach customs] Better, set forth (So R. V.), make proclamation of; the word refers to the preaching of the Apostles.
And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.22. the multitude rose up together] i.e. together with the aggrieved proprietors of the damsel.
the magistrates rent off their clothes] i.e. the clothes of Paul and Silas, as is clear from the Greek verb, but not so evident from the A.V. Better, “rent their clothes off them.” (So R. V. only changing clothes into garments.)
and commanded to beat them] The Greek signifies “to beat them with rods,” which was the office of the Roman lictor, who carried rods for the purpose when attending on the magistrates. The use of this special word is an indication that St Luke was aware of the particular kind of beating, and perhaps beheld the infliction. This is one of the occasions, no doubt, to which St Paul alludes (2 Corinthians 11:25), “Thrice was I beaten with rods.”
And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:23. cast them into prison] So that they should have no chance of teaching any longer. They appear (see Acts 16:35) to have intended to keep them one night in prison and then to turn them out of the city.
Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.24. the inner prison] Necessarily a place dark and without ventilation, and hence foul and loathsome; perhaps underground, like the Tullianum at Rome (Varr. L. L. v. § 161; Lev. 29:22).
their feet fast in the stocks] The stocks (lit. wood) was a means of additional security and additional torture. The feet Passed through holes and held secure made rest almost impossible. The instrument was of early use (cp. Job 13:27; Job 33:11), and the Greeks, as well as ourselves, had also the pillory, and had it made with five apertures for head, hands and feet (Aristoph. Eq. 1049).
And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.25. And at midnight] Sleep being out of the question, they passed the night in devotions. The imperfect tenses of the verbs in this verse imply that the prayers and singing were continued. But it is unnecessary to render (as R. V.) “Paul and Silas were praying … and the prisoners were listening, &c.”
unto God] Whose bondservants the damsel had called them (Acts 16:17). Now they are in bonds for His name, and He gives them His comfort and refreshing in a manner strange to those who are not His servants.
and the prisoners heard them] The inner prison appears to have held more than Paul and Silas, or it may be that bars in the inner walls allowed the sound to pass into other cells. The verb is not the common one for “hearing,” and is rarely found anywhere. It indicates attentive hearkening.
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.26. And suddenly there was a great earthquake] Just as the place wherein the Apostles prayed (Acts 4:31) was shaken, so here God testifies that He is near at hand.
and every one’s bands were loosed] The sense in which these words are to be taken may be gathered from the rest of the description. The chains (δεσμὰ) were made fast to the wall, and the shock which burst asunder the bolts of the doors also released the fastenings which held the chains in the masonry.
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.27. And the keeper of the prison] The word is rendered jailor in 23, and might well be so here (as R. V.), otherwise the English reader supposes the Greek to be varied from this variation of translation.
awaking out of his sleep] The word is only found here in N. T., and has the sense of a startled rousing.
drew out his sword] We now say rather “drew his sword.” He probably slept in such a place that on rising he could observe at a glance whether the prison doors were secure, and had his weapon close at hand so that he might seize and use it on any emergency. He must also have been so near to the open doors before he manifested any design of suicide that the prisoners within could see what he was doing. St Paul out of the dark could observe him before the jailor could see farther than the opened doors.
would have killed himself] He knew what his fate would be. See Acts 12:19; and compare Acts 27:42, for the way in which Roman officials must answer with their lives for the escape of prisoners. Suicide under such circumstances would to the jailor’s mind present the easiest way out of his difficulties, and the teaching of even the greatest minds both of Greece and Rome was that it was justifiable and under some circumstances praiseworthy. The suicide of Cato (Catonis nobile letum) furnished a constant text for such teaching. (Cp. Cic. Tusc. 1. §§ 9–119, Plat. Apol. 40.)
But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.28. But Paul cried] The sound of one voice would arrest the action, for at the sight of the open doors he had concluded that all had made use of the opportunity and had escaped.
Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,29. Then he called for a light] The Greek has “lights.” He would summon all the help he could, and wish to make his inspection as speedy as possible.
and came trembling] Lit. and being terror-stricken. He connected all that had occurred with the two prisoners Paul and Silas, and as they were not fled away, a change of feeling came over him, and he at once judged them to be more than other men. So his attitude becomes one of supplication and worship.
And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?30. and brought them out] There could be no fear that they would flee now who had remained when the open doors made flight easy.
and said. Sirs] The Greek word Κύριοι implies an acknowledgment of great superiority. Those who had been his prisoners are now his “Lords.”
what must I do to be saved?] He had probably heard about the testimony of the possessed damsel, that Paul and Silas shewed the way of salvation, and now without knowing what it fully meant, he cries out (in his misery, when despair had prompted suicide) asking for the teaching which they had to give.
And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.31. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ] The oldest authorities omit Christ. The word would not have the same significance for a Gentile as for a Jew, and may well have been omitted in the address to the jailor. What was asked from Gentile converts was to accept Jesus as their Lord. The men whom he had just called “Lords” point him to the only “Lord.”
and thy house] With the thought that what the head of the family did would be followed by the members. (Cp. Acts 16:15.) They were, we see in the next verse, willing hearers.
And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.32. the word of the Lord] Preached to him the doctrine of Christ, as it was then only possible to do it, by the narrative of His life and its purpose.
And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.33. the same hour of the night] It was midnight, see Acts 16:25. But a new day, a birthday, had already begun for him and it must be kept as a feast, and he does his utmost to shew his rejoicing by care for those who had caused it.
washed their stripes] An act of attendance that had not been bestowed before. They were thrust into the inner prison, with all their wounds bleeding and uncared for.
And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.34. he set meat (Greek, a table) before them] He would not leave them a moment in the dungeon, but testify to them, how the dawning of faith had filled him with joy.
and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house] The Greek adverb which is represented by the last four words in English would be better combined with the first verb, “and rejoiced with all his house.” (So R. V.) The concluding verb gives the reason for the joy, and would be more fully rendered “having believed in God” or “having believed God.” “To believe on the Lord Jesus” was the exhortation in Acts 16:31. By this later expression we understand what was implied in the first. The belief on Jesus is to believe what God has revealed concerning Him. This had been explained in “the word of the Lord” which they had heard—the word which told how Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies, and by His acts on earth shewed that He was the Son of God.
It is scarcely possible to help being struck in this chapter with the account of the effect of the first preaching of the Gospel in Europe. We see at once its universality and its power. The first notable convert is Lydia, the Asiatic settler, a woman evidently of wealth, position and refinement; then the demoniac slave-girl is made an instrument of proclaiming the presence and power of the Most High God; and last, the Roman jailor, of a class, insensible as a rule and hardened by habit, and also disposed to despise the Jews who were the bearers of the message of the Gospel. The converts of Philippi were types and an earnest of how Christ’s cause would make its way.
And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go.35–40. The magistrates would send them away, but Paul refuses to be thus dismissed. He announces that they are Romans, and the magistrates in fear beseech them to depart. They take leave of Lydia and the brethren and leave Philippi
35. the serjeants] These are the lictors, who were the attendants upon the prætors (duumviri), and who probably had on the previous day scourged Paul and Silas. Their Greek name rabdouchoi signifies “rod-bearers.”
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.36. the keeper of the prison] As before, in Acts 16:27, the jailor.
told this saying] The Greek text best supported has no pronoun. Better “reported the words.” (So R. V.) No doubt he came with great joy, and it is evident that Paul and Silas had gone back to their prison after the events at midnight. To make the sentence run smoothly it will be needful to insert the word saying before the next sentence, now that the pronoun is removed.
now therefore depart] Better, “come forth,” as R. V. The verb in the original gives clear indication that they were still in confinement.
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.37. But Paul said unto them] i.e. to the lictors, through the jailor. It is highly probable that the conversation of the Roman officers would be in Latin, and that the proceedings of the previous day may have been conducted in that language. In this way, if Paul and Silas were unfamiliar with the Latin speech, we might account for the non-mention or the disregard of their Roman citizenship. If either the Apostle did not comprehend all that was going on or could not, amid the confusion of such a tumultuous court, make himself understood, the message which he now sends to the magistrates might have had no chance of being heard before the scourging was inflicted.
They have beaten us openly] i.e. publicly. (So R. V.) For no doubt they had been lashed to the palus or public whipping-post in the sight of the people.
uncondemned] For all that had been listened to was the charge of the accusers, who, leaving out all mention of the real reason of their charge, viz., that they had lost a source of money-making, put forward the plea that the missionaries were disturbers of public law and order. The crowd shouted with the accusers, and the magistrates, forgetting their position, joined with the mob (Acts 16:22) in the assault on the Apostles.
being Romans] The Greek is more full=men that are Romans, (so R. V.) and is in marked contrast with the charge of the accusers, which ran, “These men, being Jews.” The laws which had been violated by this act were the Lex Valeria (b.c. 508) and the Lex Porcia (b.c. 300). On the outrage, compare Cicero’s language in the Verrine orations (v. 66), ‘Facinus est vinciri civem Romanum, scelus verberari, prope parricidium necari.’
thrust us out privily] The Apostle would say: let our dismissal from prison be as widely published as was our previous punishment.
And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans.38. and they feared] Because each Roman citizen had the right of appeal to the Emperor, and the penalty for outraging the rights of such a man was severe.
And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city.39. And so finding they had offended in this way, they come in the humblest wise, beseeching that the disciples by departing from Philippi will relieve them of their anxiety.
And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.40. into the house of Lydia] Waiting there probably till they were fit to travel farther. But in the midst of the suffering they still exhort and comfort the Christians whom in their stay they had gathered into a church.
How deep the mutual affection which existed between St Paul and these Philippians, his first European converts, is manifest in every line of the Epistle which he wrote to them from Rome in his first imprisonment. They are his greatest joy, they have given him no cause for sorrow, and from first to last have ministered to his afflictions, and made manifest how they prized their “Father in Christ.” The jubilant language of the letter is marked by the oft-repeated “Rejoice in the Lord.”