WHERE A DISCIPLE...: AV has "And, behold, a certain
disciple..." "Behold" = Gr "idou", a word often associated with providential
intervention (Acts 1:10; 8:27; 12:7).
TIMOTHY: Upon whom Paul laid hands: 1Ti 4:14; 2Ti
WHOSE MOTHER WAS... A BELIEVER: Yet, whatever her
circumstances (divorced, widowed, married to an unbeliever), she taught her son
well: "From infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make
you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" (2Ti 3:15). "Like newborn
babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your
salvation" (1Pe 2:2).
WHOSE FATHER WAS A GREEK: No other information; not a
believer; poss dead by now.
Paul circumcised Timothy -- son of a Jewess -- because of the
Jews (cp 1Co 9:20, to facilitate preaching, allay prejudice) so they could enter
synagogues. Ct Gal 2:3: Paul did not compel Titus, a Gentile, to be circumcised,
so as not to "give place" to false brethren (cp 1Co 7:19; Gal 6:15).
HAVING BEEN KEPT BY THE HOLY SPIRIT FROM PREACHING THE WORD
IN THE PROVINCE OF ASIA: They evidently desire to go to Ephesus, directly to
the west, on the Aegean -- this would take them through the region of "Asia", or
Asia Minor. But they were turned aside and traveled northward instead.
ASIA: In the NT, Asia generally refers to the Roman
province created c 129 BC after Attalus III had earlier (133 BC) willed his
kingdom of Peragomas to Rome. Asia included the countries of Mysia, Lydia,
Caria, and most of Phrygia, plus several islands and coastal cities. At first
Pergamos was the capital, but the seat of government was later moved to Ephesus.
Asia was governed by a procurator or a proconsul appointed by the Senate. The
annual assembly of representatives from all districts was presided over by the
Asiarch. The city of Smyrna also vied with Ephesus for chief honors.
MYSIA: A district of nw Asia Minor. Its borders never
clearly defined, Mysia was mountainous and heavily forested. In 133 BC it became
part of the Roman province of Asia and included such cities as Troas, Assos and
Pergamum. The name occurs only in Acts 16:7,8 in the NT.
THEY TRIED TO ENTER BITHYNIA, BUT THE SPIRIT OF JESUS WOULD
NOT ALLOW THEM TO: And they planned to continue further north, into the
region just south of the Black Sea. But once again they were turned aside, to
Troas -- to the west (the embarkation point for Europe).
BITHYNIA: A Roman province (after 74 BC) of nw Asia
Minor situated near the Bosphorus and the Propontis (modern Sea of Marmara). It
is mentioned only twice in the NT (Acts 16:7; 1Pe 1:1). It is obvious that
Christian work was started in Bithynia before AD 63 since 1Pe is addressed to
believers in this area by that time. It is possible that Christianity was
planted in Bithynia long before Paul attempted to go there. Since Pontus was at
that time connected with Bithynia (after 65-63 BC), Christianity could have been
introduced there shortly after Pentecost (cf Acts 2:9). At an early period Paul
determined not to labor where other missionaries had already laid a foundation
of believing Christians before him (Rom 15:20). In the NT period Bithynia was a
senatorial province (after 27 BC) and its capital was at Nicomedeia. The
propraetor Pliny the Younger was sent by Trajan to Bithynia as Governor (c AD
111-122). He reported that Christianity (which he calls a "superstition") was so
strongly rooted in Bithynia at that time that it "has spread not only in the
cities, but in the villages and rural districts as well." The strength of the
Christian movement then is also shown by the fact that prominent Roman citizens
were included in the fellowship of Christians, and it is significant that many
of the pagan temples in Bithynia were "almost deserted" according to
WENT DOWN: The classic language of theophany, or
Yahweh-manifestation, occurs often in Acts in the context of gospel preaching,
as if the witness to the gospel were another manifestation of the Yahweh-Name:
Act 8:5; 10:21; 13:4; 14:25; 15:30; 16:8; 18:22; 25:6.
TROAS: "The name occurs in four passages in the NT
(Acts 16:8,11; 20:5-6; 2Co 2:12; 2Ti 4:13), all in connection with Paul's life
and travels. A port city in Mysia founded in the 4th century BC by Antigonus, it
was located about ten miles south of the ancient Hellespont (Dardanelles).
Constituted a Roman colony by Augustus, it was a prominent center, even having
been the object of a rumor that Julius Caesar intended to move the seat of
government to Troy or Alexandria. Ruins of a wall six miles in circumference, a
theater, and an aqueduct are still visible. In the NT, Troas was a pivotal point
in Paul's travels. Here he turned to the west (Europe) after having tried to
enter the Roman provinces of Asia and Bithynia (Acts 16:6-8), and it was at this
time that Luke first joined the missionary party (Acts 16:10, notice the 'we')"
A MAN OF MACEDONIA: The Gr text has "a certain man", a
word which implies familiarity. If the man was one whom Paul recognized, it
could well have been Luke, "the beloved physician" (Col 4:14), who seems from
the narrative itself to have been very familiar with the region, and who (we
know) spent a good many years there after this time. (The first "we" passage of
Acts starts with the very next verse, as though Luke is implying: "After he --
Paul -- saw the vision of myself, then I arrived at Troas in person to meet him,
and immediately we began our journey for Macedonia.")
MACEDONIA: "The first part of Europe which received the
Gospel directly from Paul, and an important scene of his subsequent missionary
labors and the labors of his companions. So closely is this region associated
with apostolic journeys, sufferings, and epistles, that it has truly been called
by one of our English travellers a kind of Holy Land... In a rough and popular
description it is enough to say that Macedonia is the region bounded inland by
the range of the Balkans northwards, and the chain of Pindus westwards, beyond
which the streams flow respectively to the Danube and the Adriatic; that it is
separated from Thessaly on the south by the Cambunian hills, running easterly
from Pindus to Olympus and the Aegean; and that it is divided on the east from
Thrace by a less definite mountain-boundary running southwards from Haemus. Of
the space thus enclosed, two of the most remarkable physical features are two
great plains, one watered by the Axius, which comes to the sea at the Thermaic
gulf, not far from Thessalonica; the other by the Strymon, which, after passing
near Philippi, flows out below Amphipolis. Between the mouths of these two
rivers a remarkable peninsula projects, dividing itself into three points, on
the farthest of which Mount Athos rises nearly into the region of perpetual
snow. Across the neck of this peninsula Paul travelled more than once with his
WE: Luke now joins the group: "We" passages: Acts
16:10-17; 20:5--21:18; 27:1--end.
SAMOTHRACE: The KJV spelling is Samothracia. It is a
small island with high mountains (up to 5,250 feet) off the coast of Thrace in
northern Greece; hence, its name, "Samos of Thrace." It lay near a much traveled
sea route from Macedonia to the Hellespont (Dardanelles) on the way to the Black
Sea and therefore was a well-known landmark. The island was important as the
home of a famous mystery cult featuring two pre-Greek deities known as the
Cabiri. These were reverenced as the guides and protectors of sailors. Another
attraction of the cult was the enactment of a ritual drama representing the
sacred marriage of the Great Mother. Numerous prominent personages, including
Philip of Macedon and the Roman emperor Hadrian, were initiated into the
NEAPOLIS: The "new city," modern Kavalla in northern
Greece, which served as the port of Philippi, situated ten miles inland. An
ancient aqueduct and other remains indicate its past importance. It is located
on a neck of land between two bays of the Aegean Sea. Paul landed here from
Troas on his second missionary journey (Acts 16:11), after his call to
PHILIPPI: "A town of Macedonia 13 miles inland from the
Aegean served by its port Neapolis. Philippi was founded by and named after
Philip II of Macedonia in 360 BC. It was significant to the Macedonian as the
chief mining center in the nearby gold fields; these were largely exhausted by
the time Macedonia came under control of Rome in 168 BC. The Romans settled a
colony (Acts 16:12) of Roman veterans at Philippi after 42 BC, when Octavius and
Anthony defeated Brutus and Casius there.
"Paul preached there on his second missionary journey,
speaking first to some devout Jews at a prayer meeting by a riverside (Acts
16:13). Lydia of Thyatira was the first convert (Acts 16:14), and the conversion
of a 'fortune teller' led her exploiters to stir up a riot against Paul and
Silas. The 300-by-150 foot agora where the judgment scene took place prior to
Paul and Silas' imprisonment has been completely excavated by the French School
at Athens. Through the agora ran the Egnatian highway which connected Rome with
Asia. On the north side of the agora stood the podium where magistrates rendered
judgment. Above that towered the 1,000-foot acropolis of the town, on the east
slope of which was a large Gr theater...
"The church at Philippi was the first established in Europe,
and it was very liberal with its founder, sending gifts to him on various
occasions (Phi 4:14-17; 2Co 11:9). The Epistle to the Philippians is in part at
least a thank you note for this kindness. Later Paul visited Philippi and kept
the Passover with the brethren there (Acts 20:6)" (WyC).
THE LEADING CITY: Gr "prote". "This cannot mean that
Philippi was the capital of the province, for Thessalonica held that
distinction; nor does it mean that Philippi was the capital of its district, for
Amphipolis served that function. Evidence from a later period shows that 'prote'
was an honorary title given certain cities, and perhaps this explains Luke's use
of the term" (EBC).
A PLACE OF PRAYER: Evidently, there was no official
Jewish congregation in the city. It was customary for such places of prayer to
be located near running water.
"The Christian faith was, doubtless, introduced into Thyatira
by Lydia, whom Paul and his companions first became acquainted with at Philippi,
a city of Macedonia. She was 'a worshipper of God' belonging to Thyatira, but
for the time being sojourning at Philippi as 'a seller of purple.' Paul met her
at the 'proseuche', by the river side, beyond the city walls. She had gone there
with other devout women to offer prayer to the living and true Deity. It was 'on
the day of the sabbaths,' or, as we say, on Saturday, by which we may infer,
that Lydia was a devout Jewess, or Gentile proselyte, belonging to the synagogue
in Thyatira. Luke, who was present, says, that 'the Lord opened her heart to
assent to the things being spoken by Paul'; and the result was, that she was
baptized. Thus, Paul planted, but the Lord gave the increase; and the case shows
under what conditions the increase was given. Certain things were being spoken
by Paul. The things being spoken were 'the truth,' or 'Gospel of the Deity,
which he had before promised by his prophets in the holy scriptures' (Rom
1:1,2); and that truth, 'as it is in Jesus.' Paul could speak no other things,
and none other would have opened Lydia's heart, or understanding to an
affectionate comprehension such as the Lord would have acknowledged. The truth
spoken is the Lord's instrumentality for the opening of men's hearts; and where
the truth is neither heard nor read, there the hearts of mankind remain
unopened, and are found to be occupied by all 'the depths of the Satan, as they
speak' " (Eur 1:318).
THYATIRA: Thyatira was located 52 miles ne of Smyrna on
a main road joining the Caicus and Hermus river valleys. A great trading city,
its height came about AD 100. There is evidence of more trade guilds there than
in any other Asian city. Lydia, a seller of purple from Thyatira, probably
represented her guild at Philippi (Acts 16:14). The purple she sold was probably
made in the region of Thyatira, which produced the well-known Turkey red,
obtained from the madder root. Perhaps the city was evangelized from Ephesus.
John addressed himself to the church there (Rev 2:18-29), scoring it for too
much conformity to the pagan customs and practices of the day.
A WOMAN NAMED LYDIA: In Macedonia women had generally
greater liberties than elsewhere (Xd 118:415).
A DEALER IN PURPLE CLOTH: Prob very wealthy, with many
employees and servants in her "household".
A WORSHIPER OF GOD: That is, a proselyte.
THE LORD OPENED HER HEART: The word "Sabbath" in v 13
is plural, so Lydia probably heard Paul over several days. They "sat down", so
the preaching was of a prolonged nature. The riverside was a recognized place of
prayer, so the express reason Lydia was there was to pray, demonstrating her
faith in God even before hearing Paul. It was her habit to resort there for
prayer. She was already a "worshipper of God": a specific term for a Gentile who
believed in the Jewish God, without having become a proselyte. Conclusion: THIS
was the kind of person whose heart God opened to receive the gospel: one who
gave God's word entrance to her heart.
"Here no amount of word-spinning can get away from the simple
fact that Lydia had a Bible (she was one of the worshippers), she had the
world's very best expositor to show her its meaning, but in addition the Lord
opened her heart. It is possible to spend a lot of time showing by what
remarkable Holy Spirit constraint and ways of God's providence Paul and Lydia
both got to that particular place at that particular time; but having allowed
for all that, there is still the additional explicit fact that 'God opened her
heart' (her mind) so that she was disposed to take the message seriously. Is the
reader expected to invent out of his own head an extra chapter to explain how it
came about? Or is he intended to read and simply believe what the words say?"
SHE AND THE MEMBERS OF HER HOUSEHOLD WERE BAPTIZED: The
seller of purple-dyed cloth was herself "dyed"!
COME AND STAY AT MY HOUSE: Hospitality of brethren:
Acts 17:7; 18:3,7; 21:8,16; 28:14,15.
AND SHE PERSUADED US: Paul's principle was, insofar as
possible, to support himself (2Co 11:9) and not accept charity. (The Philippian
ecclesia, of which Lydia was the first member, was ever after noted for its
generosity: Phi 4:10,16; 2Co 11:9; cp Rev 2:19.)
Vv 16-40: The events at Philippi were a graphic portrayal of
the last days of the Lord Jesus: (1) Though Paul obviously did a work of God (v
18), certain Philippians moved against him because their own vested interests
were questioned (cp John 15:22). (2) Paul's trial was a travesty. They hated him
without a cause (v 38; Psa 35:19; Joh 15:25). They made false accusations
against him -- that he was inciting rebellion against Rome (vv 20,21; John
19:12; Luk 23:2). Then he was taken "from prison and from judgment" (cp Isa
53:7,8). (3) Paul and Silas were beaten with many stripes (v 23; cp John 19:1;
Isa 53:5). (4) They were cast into prison -- being as good as dead (v 24; cp
Christ put to death: John 19:41). (5) Divine pleasure was indicated by an
earthquake which set them free (v 26; cp Mat 27:51; 28:2). (6) They were set
free as if by resurrection (v 26; cp Mat 28:7; Acts 2:24). (7) They became the
"savour of life" to those with whom they spoke (cp 2Co 2:16; 4:9-12).
Thus, "Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly
portrayed as crucified" (Gal 3:1; cp Gal 1:16).
A SPIRIT BY WHICH SHE PREDICTED THE FUTURE: "A spirit
of divination" (AV). Lit, "pneuma pythona". "The Python was a mythical serpent
or dragon that guarded the temple and oracle of Apollo, located on the southern
slope of Mount Parnassus to the north of the Gulf of Corinth. It was supposed to
have lived at the foot of Mount Parnassus and to have eventually been killed by
Apollo. Later the word python came to mean a demon-possessed person through whom
the Python spoke -- even a ventriloquist was thought to have such a spirit
living in his or her belly. Undoubtedly all who knew the girl regarded her as
neither fraudulent nor insane but as demon possessed and able to foretell the
future. By her fortunetelling, she earned her masters much money"
THEY BROUGHT THEM BEFORE THE MAGISTRATES: This is,
plainly, no proper trial.
THESE MEN, BEING JEWS...: Prob spoken with evident
contempt. Why, of the 4 men (Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke -- cp v 10), were
only these 2 apprehended? Because Luke was not a Jew, and Timothy (although
circumcised: v 3) was not really a "Jew" either -- at least insofar as other
Jews might typically consider it. (Prob, Paul and Silas also took the lead in
all the preaching too.)
The charge laid was that Paul and Silas were advocating a
"religio illicita" and thus disturbing the Pax Romana. But the charge, being
couched in terms that appealed to the latent anti-Semitism of the people ("these
men are Jews") and their racial pride ("us Romans"), ignited the flames of
bigotry and prevented any dispassionate discussion of the issues.
US ROMANS: They were asserting their rights as Roman
citizens. This was a special privilege granted to the people of
BEATEN: "Rhabdizo" means "to beat with a rod
(rhabdos)". Hence LXX usage is for the practice of threshing, which was often
done with a flail or rod: Rth 2:17; Jdg 6:11.
SEVERELY FLOGGED: "We had previously suffered and been
insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell
you his gospel in spite of strong opposition" (1Th 2:2). Cp 2Co 11:25. Notice
that beatings and imprisonment was the direct result of the Spirit's guidance
THEY WERE THROWN IN PRISON: Why didn't Paul assert his
Roman citizenship sooner? Was it because they were given no chance?
Why wasn't Luke imprisoned? (a) because he was a Gentile, and
not a Jew? (b) because he was a professional man, a physician?
INNER: The Gr is "esoteros", a superlative, meaning the
deepest or most hidden.
"Those men at Philippi knew beyond any doubt that they were
not alone. They knew in their deepest hearts that all things were working
together for good under the providential hand of God. Bodily they seemed to be
in the hand of the jailer, but spiritually they knew they were in the hand of
God. As it turned out even the jailer was part of the great purpose: very soon
he is washing their stripes. They had an unalterable conviction that nothing
could separate them from the love of Christ. They trusted in the profound secret
that the city was being built and that one day it would come down out of heaven
from God. They knew that no power on earth could prevent it, and they were part
of it. Sin was defeated; pardon was full and free; death was vanquished. The
King was alive for evermore. This gives cause for joy, and joy gives cause for
THE JAILER WOKE UP: Had he been put to sleep by the
power of God, as had the Roman soldiers that guarded the tomb of Jesus? Thus,
Paul's imprisonment is compared to Christ's burial.
THE JAILER CALLED FOR LIGHTS: And there they were...
Paul and Silas, to bring them the "light" of the world!
SIRS, WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?: He was not so
concerned with securing them as was in securing his own freedom! "But how was it
that the jailer and his household knew sufficient to accept the responsibilities
of the Truth so soon? It is obvious from his question that he was well
acquainted with Paul's preaching. It was now well known and widespread for they
had been there 'many days' (cp vv 17,18,20,21). The calm faithful demeanour of
his prisoners and the singing of praises in jail after cruel stripes no doubt
troubled him. Then came the earthquake which set them free. Were not these men
indeed the 'servants of the Most High God'? But then they had been honest too
and had not made a break for freedom. These men were as different from the
common run of mortals as was their message. He was convinced" (LPh 6).
THE JAILER... WASHED... THEN... HE AND ALL HIS FAMILY WERE
BAPTIZED: Reciprocal washings!
THE JAILER BROUGHT THEM INTO HIS HOUSE: Which probably
adjoined the jail itself.
"Why did Paul do this? Was it an act of self-justification?
Paul could see further than that. He was soon to leave Philippi, and how would
the new little ecclesia fare in that bigoted city? Probably not well. Paul
desired to teach these petty rulers a lesson. When he left, the magistrates
would certainly hesitate to bring further persecution on them. Cp Prov 13:18:
'He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto
him...' " (BPh 7).
AND ENCOURAGED THEM: Or "comforted" (AV). Paul and
Silas, who had been beaten, comforted others!
THEY: Luke does not accompany them (cp "we": v 10). He
stays behind in Philippi, with Timothy, to consolidate the new