Acts 16


Paul, coming to Derbe and Lystra, meets with Timothy, the son of

a Jewess by a Greek father, whom he circumcises and takes with

him into his work, 1-3.

As they pass through the different cities, they deliver the

apostles' decrees to the Churches; and they are established in

the faith, and daily increase in numbers, 4, 5.

They travel through Phrygia, Galatia, Mysia, and to Troas, 6-8.

Where Paul has a vision, relative to his preaching in

Macedonia, 9, 10.

Leaving Troas, he sails to Samothracia and Neapolis, and comes

to Philippi in Macedonia, 11, 12.

Lydia, a seller of purple, receives the apostles teaching; and

she and her family are baptized, 13-16.

A young woman, with a spirit of divination, dispossessed by St.

Paul, 16-18.

Her masters, finding their gain by her soothsaying gone, make an

attack upon Paul and Silas, drag them before the magistrates,

who command them to be beaten, thrust into the closest prison,

and their feet made fast in the stocks, 19-24.

Paul and Silas singing praises at midnight, the prison doors

are miraculously opened, and all the bonds of the prisoners

loosed, 25, 26.

The keeper being alarmed, supposing that the prisoners were

fled, is about to kill himself, but is prevented by Paul,


He inquires the way of salvation, believes, and he and his

whole family are baptized, 29-34.

The next morning the magistrates order the apostles to be

dismissed, 35, 36.

Paul pleads his privilege as a Roman, and accuses the

magistrates of injustice, who, being alarmed, come themselves

to the prison, deliver them, and beg them to depart from the

city, 37-39.

They leave the prison, enter into the house of Lydia, comfort

the brethren, and depart, 40.


Verse 1. A certain disciple] Bishop Pearce would read the latter

part of this verse and the beginning of the next thus-A certain

disciple named Timotheus, (the son of a certain Jewish woman that

believed, but of a father who was a Greek,) who was well reported

of by the brethren, &c.

This Timothy was the same person to whom St. Paul wrote those

two noble epistles which are still extant. His mother's name was

Eunice, as we learn from 2Ti 1:5. What his father's name was we

know not; he was either a mere heathen, or, at most, only a

proselyte of the gate, who never submitted to circumcision: had

he submitted to this rite, he would, no doubt, have circumcised

his son; but the son being without it is a proof that the father

was so too. Some MSS. state that Timothy's mother was now a widow;

but this does not appear to be well founded.

Verse 2. Which was well reported of] These words are spoken of

Timothy, and not of his father. At this time Timothy must have

been very young; for, several years after, when appointed to

superintend the Church at Crete, he appears to have been then so

young that there was a danger of its operating to the prejudice of

his ministry: 1Ti 4:12,

Let no man despise thy youth. He had a very early religious

education from his godly mother Eunice, and his not less pious

grandmother Lois; and, from his religious instructions, was well

prepared for the work to which God now called him.

Verse 3. Took and circumcised him] For this simple reason, that

the Jews would neither have heard him preach, nor would have any

connection with him, had he been otherwise. Besides, St. Paul

himself could have had no access to the Jews in any place, had

they known that he associated with a person who was uncircumcised:

they would have considered both to be unclean. The circumcision of

Timothy was a merely prudential regulation; one rendered

imperiously necessary by the circumstances in which they were then

placed; and, as it was done merely in reference to this, Timothy

was lain under no necessity to observe the Mosaic ritual, nor

could it prejudice his spiritual state, because he did not do it

in order to seek justification by the law, for this he had before,

through the faith of Christ. In Ga 2:3-5, we read that Paul

refuses to circumcise Titus, who was a Greek, and his parents

Gentiles, notwithstanding the entreaties of some zealous

Judaizing Christians, as their object was to bring him under the

yoke of the law: here, the case was widely different, and the

necessity of the measure indisputable.

Verse 4. They delivered them the decrees for to keep] τα

δογματατακεκριμεναυποτωναποστολων. Bishop Pearce contends

that ταδογματα, the decrees, is a gloss which was not in the text

originally; and that the τακεκριμενα, the judgments or

determinations of the apostles, was all that was originally

written here. He supports his opinion by a reference to the word

κρινω, I judge, used by James, Ac 15:19, whence the whole

decision, as it referred-1. to the inexpediency of circumcising

the Gentiles; and, 2. to the necessity of observing the four

precepts laid down, was called τακεκριμενα, the things that were

judged, or decided on; the judgments of the apostolic council.

Instead of γεγραμμενα, the Syrian has a word that answers to

γεγραμμενα, the decrees that were written. The word δογμα, from

δοκεω, to think proper, determine, decree, signifies an

ordinance or decree, properly and deliberately made, relative to

any important point, and which, in reference to that point, has

the force of law. Our term dogma, which we often abuse, is the

Greek word in English letters.

Verse 5. And so were the Churches established] The disputations

at Antioch, relative to circumcision, had no doubt spread far and

wide among other Churches, and unhinged many. The decrees of the

apostles came in good time, and prevented farther mischief: the

people, saved from uncertainty, became established in the faith;

and the Church had a daily accession of converted souls.

Verse 6. Were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in

Asia.] The Asia mentioned here could not be Asia Minor in general,

for Galatia, Phrygia, Pisidia, Lycaonia, and Pamphylia, were

provinces of it, and in these the apostles preached; but it was

what was called Proconsular Asia, which included only Ionia,

AEolia, and Lydia. The apostles were not suffered to visit these

places at this time; but they afterwards went thither, and

preached the Gospel with success; for it was in this Proconsular

Asia that the seven Churches were situated. God chose to send his

servants to another place, where he saw that the word would be

affectionately received; and probably those in Proconsular Asia

were not, as yet, sufficiently prepared to receive and profit by


Verse 7. After they were come to Mysia] They passed through

Phrygia into Mysia, which lay between Bithynia on the north,

Phrygia on the east, AEolia on the south, and the Mediterranean on

the west.

But the Spirit suffered them not] God saw that that was not the

most proper time to preach the word at Bithynia; as he willed them

to go immediately to Macedonia, the people there being ripe for

the word of life. Instead of τοπνευμα, the Spirit merely, το

πνευμαιησου, the Spirit of JESUS, is the reading of ABCDE,

several others, with both the Syriac, the Coptic, AEthiopic,

Armenian, Vulgate, Itala, and several of the fathers. The reading

is undoubtedly genuine, and should be immediately restored to the


Verse 8. Came down to Troas.] The Troad, or part of Phrygia

Minor in which the celebrated city of Troy was formerly situated.

This city was first built by Dardanus, who was its king, and from

whom it was called Dardania; from Tros, his grandson, it was

called Troja, or Troy; and from his son, Ilus, it was called

Ilium. It has been long so completely destroyed that no

ascertainable vestige of it remains; insomuch that some have even

doubted of its existence. Those who contend for the reality of the

history of Troy suppose it to have stood on the site of the modern

village Bounarbachi, about twelve miles from the sea, on an

eminence, at the termination of a spacious plain.

Verse 9. A vision appeared to Paul in the night] Whether this

was in a dream, or whether a representation made to the senses

of the apostle, we cannot tell. A man of Macedonia appeared to

him, and made this simple communication, Come over into Macedonia,

and help us.

Some suppose that the guardian angel of Macedonia appeared to

St. Paul in a human shape; others, that it was a Divine

communication made to his imagination in a dream.

Verse 10. We endeavoured to go into Macedonia] This is the first

place that the historian St. Luke refers to himself: WE

endeavoured, &c. And, from this, it has been supposed that he

joined the company of Paul, for the first time, at Troas.

Assuredly gathering] συμβιβαζοντες, Drawing an inference from

the vision that had appeared.

That the Lord had called us for to preach] That is, they

inferred that they were called to preach the Gospel in Macedonia,

from what the vision had said, come over and help us; the help

meaning, preach to us the Gospel. Instead of οκυριος, the Lord,

meaning JESUS, several MSS., such as ABCE, several others, with

the Coptic, Vulgate, Theophylact, and Jerome, have οθεος, GOD.

Though this stands on very reputable authority, yet the former

seems to be the better reading; for it was the SPIRIT of JESUS,

Ac 16:7, that would not suffer them to go into

Bithynia, because he had designed that they should immediately

preach the Gospel in Macedonia.

Verse 11. Loosing from Troas] Setting sail from this place.

With a straight course to Samothracia] This was an island of the

AEgean Sea, contiguous to Thrace, and hence called Samothracia, or

the Thracian Samos. It is about twenty miles in circumference, and

is now called Samandrachi by the Turks, who are its present


And the next day to Neapolis.] There were many cities of this

name; but this was a sea-port town of Macedonia, a few miles

eastward of Philippi. Neapolis signifies the new city.

Verse 12. And from thence to Philippi] This was a town of

Macedonia, in the territory of the Edones, on the confines of

Thrace, situated on the side of a steep eminence. It took its name

from Philip II., king of Macedon. It is famous for two battles,

fought between the imperial army, commanded by Octavianus,

afterwards Augustus, and Mark Antony, and the republican army,

commanded by Brutus and Cassius, in which these were successful;

and a second, between Octavianus and Antony on the one part, and

Brutus on the other. In this battle the republican troops were

cut to pieces, after which Brutus killed himself. It was to the

Church in this city that St. Paul wrote the epistle that still

goes under their name. This place is still in being, though much

decayed, and is the see of an archbishop.

The chief city of that part of Macedonia] This passage has

greatly puzzled both critics and commentators. It is well known

that, when Paulus AEmilius had conquered Macedonia, he divided it

into four parts, μερη, and that he called the country that lay

between the rivers Strymon and Nessus, the first part, and made

Amphipolis its chief city, or metropolis; Philippi, therefore, was

not its chief city. But Bishop Pearce has, with great show of

reason, argued that, though Amphipolis was made the chief city of

it by Paulus AEmilius, yet Philippi might have been the chief city

in the days of St. Paul, which was two hundred and twenty years

after the division by P. AEmilius. Besides, as it was at this

place that Augustus gained that victory which put him in

possession of the whole Roman empire, might not he have given to

it that dignity which was before enjoyed by Amphipolis? This is

the most rational way of solving this difficulty; and therefore I

shall not trouble the reader with the different modes that have

been proposed to alter and amend the Greek text.

And a colony] That is, a colony of Rome; for it appears that a

colony was planted here by Julius Caesar, and afterwards enlarged

by Augustus; the people, therefore, were considered as freemen of

Rome, and, from this, call themselves Romans, Ac 16:21. The

Jewish definition of kolonia (for they have the Latin word

in Hebrew letters, as St. Luke has it. here, κολωνια, in Greek

letters) is, a free city, which does not pay tribute.

Verse 13. By a river side, where prayer was wont to be made] ου

ενομιζετοπροσευχηειναι, where it was said there was a proseucha.

The proseucha was a place of prayer, or a place used for

worship, where there was no synagogue. It was a large building

uncovered, with seats, as in an amphitheatre. Buildings of this

sort the Jews had by the sea side, and by the sides of rivers. See

this subject considered at large in Clarke's note on "Lu 6:12". It

appears that the apostles had heard from some of the Gentiles, or

from some of the Jews themselves, that there was a place of prayer

by the river side; and they went out in quest of it, knowing that,

as it was the Sabbath, they should find some Jews there.

Spake unto the women] Probably this was before the time of their

public worship, and while they were waiting for the assembling of

the people in general; and Paul improved the opportunity to speak

concerning Christ and salvation to the women that resorted


Verse 14. Lydia, a seller of purple] She probably had her name

from the province of Lydia, in which the city of Thyatira was

situated. The Lydian women have been celebrated for their

beautiful purple manufactures.

Which worshipped God] That is, she was a proselyte to the Jewish

religion; as were probably all the women that resorted hither.

Whose heart the Lord opened] As she was a sincere worshipper of

God, she was prepared to receive the heavenly truths spoken by

Paul and his companions; and, as she was faithful to the grace she

had received, so God gave her more grace, and gave her now a

Divine conviction that what was spoken by Paul was true; and

therefore she attended unto the things-she believed them and

received them as the doctrines of God; and in this faith she was

joined by her whole family, and in it they were all baptized.

Verse 15. If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord] The

meaning seems to be this: If my present reception of the Gospel of

Christ be a proof to you that I have been faithful to the Lord, in

the light previously imparted, and that I am as likely to be

faithful to this new grace as I have been to that already

received, and, consequently, not likely by light or fickle conduct

to bring any discredit on this Divine work, come into my house,

and abide there. It is wrong to suppose that this woman had not

received a measure of the light of God before this time.

And she constrained us.] She used such entreaties and

persuasions that at last they consented to lodge there.

Verse 16. As we went to prayer] ειςπροσευχην, Into the

proseucha: See Clarke on Ac 16:13, and

See Clarke on Lu 6:12. The article,

την, is added here by ABCE, several others, Origen and

Theophylact: thus makes the place more emphatic, and seems to

determine the above meaning of προσευχην to be right-not the act

of prayer or praying to God, but the place, the oratory, in

which these proselytes assembled for the purpose of praying,

reading the law and the prophets, and such like exercises of

devotion. It appears that the apostles spent dome time here; as it

is evident, from this and the following verses, that they often

resorted to this place to preach the Gospel.

Possessed with a spirit of divination] εχουσανπνευμαπυθωνος,

Having a spirit of Python, or of Apollo. Pytho was, according to

fable, a huge serpent, that had an oracle at Mount Parnassus,

famous for predicting future events; Apollo slew this serpent, and

hence he was called Pythius, and became celebrated as the

foreteller of future events; and all those, who either could or

pretended to predict future events, were influenced by the spirit

of Apollo Pythius. As often-times the priestesses of this god

became greatly agitated, and gave answers apparently from their

bellies, when their mouths remained close, πυθων was applied to

the εγγαστριμυθοι, or ventriloquists. Hesychius defines πυθων

δαιμονιονμαντικον, a divining demon; and it was evidently such a

one that possessed this young woman, and which Paul expelled,

Ac 16:18. See on this subject, Clarke's notes on "Le 19:31", and

See Clarke on De 18:11.

Brought her masters much gain by soothsaying] μαντευουενη, By

divination, or what we call telling fortunes. Our term soothsaying

coming from the Anglo-Saxon [A.S.], truth; and [A.S.], to say,

i.e. truth saying, or saying the truth. For, as it was supposed

among the heathen that such persons spoke by the inspiration of

their god, consequently what they said must be true. However, our

translators might have used a term here that would not have been

so creditable to this Pythoness; for, what she said concerning the

apostles excepted, she certainly could not be supposed to tell the

truth, while her inspiration came from him who is the father of

lies. But Satan will sometimes conceal himself under the guise of

truth, that he may the more effectually deceive. See below.

Verse 17. These men are the servants, &c.] It is astonishing how

such a testimony could be given in such a case; every syllable of

it true, and at the same time full, clear, and distinct. But mark

the deep design and artifice of this evil spirit: 1. He well knew

that the Jewish law abhorred all magic, incantations, magical

rites, and dealings with familiar spirits; he therefore bears

what was in itself a true testimony to the apostles, that by it he

may destroy their credit, and ruin their usefulness. The Jews, by

this testimony, would be led at once to believe that the apostles

were in compact with these demons, and that the miracles they

wrought were done by the agency of these wicked spirits, and that

the whole was the effect of magic; and this, of course, would

harden their hearts against the preaching of the Gospel. 2. The

GENTILES, finding that their own demon bore testimony to the

apostles, would naturally consider that the whole was one system;

that they had nothing to learn, nothing to correct; and thus the

preaching of the apostles must be useless to them. In such a

predicament is this, nothing could have saved the credit of the

apostles but their dispossessing this woman of her familiar

spirit, and that in the most incontestable manner; for what could

have saved the credit of Moses and Aaron, when the magicians of

Egypt turned their rods into serpents, had not Aaron's rod

devoured theirs? And what could have saved the credit of these

apostles but the casting out of this spirit of divination, with

which, otherwise, both Jews and Gentiles would have believed them

in compact?

Verse 18. Paul, being grieved] Probably for the reasons assigned


Turned-to the spirit] Not to the woman; she was only the organ

by which the spirit acted.

I command thee, in the name of Jesus] Jesus is the Saviour;

Satan is Abaddon and Apollyon, the destroyer. The sovereign

Saviour says to the destroyer, Come out of her; and he came out

in the same hour. Every circumstance of this case proves it to

have been a real possession. We have already had several

opportunities of remarking the great accuracy of St. Luke in his

accounts of demoniacs: his education as a physician gave him

advantages to detect imposture of this kind where it subsisted;

but he sees none in this case. He speaks of the spirit and the

damsel as distinct persons. The damsel had a spirit of

divination. Paul turned to the spirit, and said, I command THEE to

come out of HER; and he came out in the same hour. Had not St.

Luke considered this as a real case of diabolic possession, he has

made use of the most improper language he could choose; language

and forms of speech calculated to deceive all his readers, and

cause them to believe a lie. But it is impossible that the holy

apostle could do so, because he was a good man; and it is not

likely he could be deceived by a parcel of charlatans, because he

was a wise man; and it would be absurd to suppose that, while he

was under the influence of the Holy Spirit, he could be imposed on

by the cunning of even the devil himself.

Verse 19. When her masters saw] It appears she was maintained by

some men, who received a certain pay from every person whose

fortune she told, or to whom she made any discovery of stolen

goods, &c., &c.

The hope of their gains was gone] ηελπις, This hope; viz.

the spirit. So completely was this spirit cast out that the girl

could divine no more; and yet she continued a heathen still, for

we do not hear a word of her conversion. Had she been converted,

got baptized, and been associated with the apostles, the family of

Lydia, &c., there would have been some show of reason to believe

that there had been no possession in the case, and that the spirit

of divination coming out of her meant no more than that, through

scruple of conscience, she had left off her imposing arts, and

would no longer continue to pretend to do what she knew she could

not perform. But she still continued with her masters, though now

utterly unable to disclose any thing relative to futurity!

Drew them into the market-place] This was the place of public

resort, and, by bringing them here, they might hope to excite a

general clamour against them; and probably those who are here

called τουςαρχοντας, the rulers, were civil magistrates, who

kept offices in such public places, for the preservation of the

peace of the city. But these words, the rulers, are suspected to

be an interpolation by some critics: I think on no good ground.

Verse 20. Brought them to the magistrates] στρατηγοις, The

commanders of the army, who, very likely, as this city was a Roman

colony, possessed the sovereign authority. The civil magistrates,

therefore, having heard the case, as we shall soon find, in which

it was pretended that the safety of the state was involved, would

naturally refer the business to the decision of those who had the

supreme command.

Exceedingly trouble our city] They are destroying the public

peace, and endangering the public safety.

Verse 21. And teach customs] εθη, Religious opinions, and

religious rites.

Which are not lawful for us to receive] The Romans were very

jealous of their national worship. Servius, on the following lines

of Virgil, has given us correct information on this point; and has

confirmed what several other writers have advanced:-

Rex Evandrus ait: Non haec solemnia nobis

______ ______ ______ ______

Vana superstitio, veterumque ignara deorum,

Imposuit. AEn. viii. v. 185, &c.

King Evander said:-It is not vain superstition, ignorant of the

ancient worship of the gods, which has imposed these rites on us.

Duo dicit, says Servius: non ideo Herculem colimus; aut quia

omnem religionem veram putamus; aut quia deos ignoramus antiquos.

Cautum enim fuerat, et apud Athenienses, et apud Romanos; ne quis

NOVAS introduceret RELIGIONES: unde et Socrates damnatus est: et

Chaldaei et Judaei unt urbe depulsi.

"He says two things: we do not worship Hercules because we

believe every religion to be true; nor are we ignorant of the

ancient gods. Great care was taken, both among the Athenians and

Romans, that no one should introduce any new religion. It was on

this account that Socrates was condemned, and on this account the

Chaldeans and the Jews were banished from Rome."

CICERO, De Legibus, lib. ii. c. 8, says: Separatim nemo habessit

deos; neve NOVOS; sed nec ADVENAS, nisi publice ADSCITOS, PRIVATIM

colunto. "No person shall have any separate gods, nor new ones;

nor shall he privately worship any strange gods, unless they be

publicly allowed." The whole chapter is curious. It was on such

laws as these that the people of Philippi pleaded against the

apostles. These men bring new gods, new worship, new rites; we are

Romans, and the laws forbid us to worship any new or strange god,

unless publicly allowed.

Verse 22. The multitude rose up together] There was a general

outcry against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes,

and delivered them to the mob, commanding the lictors, or beadles,

to beat them with rods, ραβδιζειν. This was the Roman custom of

treating criminals, as Grotius has well remarked.

Verse 23. Laid many stripes upon them] The Jews never gave more

than thirty-nine stripes to any criminal; but the Romans had no

law relative to this: they gave as many as they chose; and the

apostles had, undoubtedly, the fullest measure. And perhaps St.

Paul refers to this, where he says, 2Co 11:23: ενπληγαις

υπερβαλλοντως, in stripes beyond measure or moderation.

Verse 24. The inner prison] Probably what we would call the

dungeon; the darkest and most secure cell.

Made their feet fast in the stocks.] The τοξυλον, which we here

translate stocks, is supposed to mean two large pieces of wood,

pierced with holes like our stocks, and fitted to each other,

that, when the legs were in, they could not be drawn out. The

holes being pierced at different distances, the legs might be

separated or divaricated to a great extent, which must produce

extreme pain. It is this circumstance to which it is supposed

Prudentius refers, in speaking of the torments of St. Vincent:-

Lignoque plantas inserit,

Divaricatis cruribus.

"They placed his feet in the stocks, his legs greatly

distended!" If the apostles were treated in this way, lying on the

bare ground with their flayed backs, what agony must they have

suffered! However, they could sing praises notwithstanding.

Verse 25. At midnight Paul and Silas-sang praises] Though these

holy men felt much, and had reason to fear more, yet they are

undismayed, and even happy in their sufferings: they were so fully

satisfied that they were right, and had done their duty, that

there was no room for regret or self-reproach. At the same times

they had such consolations from God as could render any

circumstances not only tolerable, but delightful. They prayed,

first, for grace to support them, and for pardon and salvation for

their persecutors; and then, secondly, sang praises to God, who

had called them to such a state of salvation, and had accounted

them worthy to suffer shame for the testimony of Jesus. And,

although they were in the inner prison, they sang so loud and so

heartily that the prisoners heard them.

Verse 26. There was a great earthquake] Thus God bore a

miraculous testimony of approbation to his servants; and, by the

earthquake, and loosing the bonds of the prisoners, showed, in a

symbolical way, the nature of that religion which they preached:

while it shakes and terrifies the guilty, it proclaims deliverance

to the captives, and the opening of the prison-doors to them that

are bound; and sets at liberty them that are bruised.

Every one's bands were loosed.] And yet so eminently did God's

providence conduct every thing, that not one of the prisoners made

his escape, though the doors were open, and his bolts off!

Verse 27. The keeper of the prison-would have killed himself]

Every jailor was made responsible for his prisoner, under the same

penalty to which the prisoner himself was exposed. The jailor,

awaking, and finding the prison-doors open, taking it for granted

that all the prisoners had made their escape, and that he must

lose his life on the account, chose rather to die by his own hand

than by that of others. For it was customary among the heathens,

when they found death inevitable, to take away their own lives.

This custom was applauded by their philosophers, and sanctioned by

some of their greatest men.

Verse 28. Do thyself no harm] As it was now dark, being

midnight, St. Paul must have had a Divine intimation of what the

jailor was going to do; and, to prevent it, cried out aloud, Do

thyself no harm, for we are all here.

Verse 29. He called for a light] That he might see how things

stood, and whether the words of Paul were true; for on this his

personal safety depended.

Came trembling] Terrified by the earthquake, and feeling the

danger to which his own life was exposed.

Fell down before Paul and Silas] The persons whom a few hours

before he, according to his office, treated with so much asperity,

if not cruelty, as some have supposed; though, by the way, it does

not appear that he exceeded his orders in his treatment of the


Verse 30. Brought them out] Of the dungeon in which they were


What must I do to be saved?] Whether this regard personal or

eternal safety, it is a question the most interesting to man. But

it is not likely that the jailor referred here to his personal

safety. He had seen, notwithstanding the prison doors had been

miraculously opened, and the bonds of the prisoners all loosed,

that not one of them had escaped: hence he could not feel himself

in danger of losing his life on this account; and consequently it

cannot be his personal safety about which he inquires. He could

not but have known that these apostles had been preaching among

the people what they called the doctrine of salvation; and he knew

that for expelling a demon they were delivered into his custody:

the Spirit of God had now convinced his heart that he was lost,

and needed salvation; and therefore his earnest inquiry is how he

should obtain it. The answer of the apostles to the jailor shows

that his inquiry was not about his personal safety; as his

believing on Jesus Christ could have had no effect upon that, in

his present circumstances. Men who dispute against this sense of

the word are not aware that the Spirit of God can teach any thing

to a heart, which the head of a person has not previously learned.

Therefore, they say it was impossible that a heathen could make

such an inquiry in reference to his eternal state, because he

could know nothing about it. On this ground, how impertinent would

the answer of the apostles have been: Believe on the Lord Jesus

Christ, and thou shalt be put in a state of PERSONAL SAFETY, and

thy family! I contend that neither he nor his family were in any

danger, as long as not one prisoner had escaped; he had,

therefore, nothing from this quarter to fear; and, on the ground

against which I contend, his own question would have been as

impertinent as the apostles' answer.

Verse 31. Believe on the Lord Jesus] Receive the religion of

Christ, which we preach, and let thy household also receive it,

and ye shall be all placed in the sure way to final salvation.

Verse 32. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord] Thus, by

teaching him and all that were in his house the doctrine of the

Lord, they plainly pointed out to them the way of salvation. And

it appears that he and his whole family, who were capable of

receiving instructions, embraced this doctrine, and showed the

sincerity of their faith by immediately receiving baptism. And, by

the way, if he and all his were baptized straightway, παραχρημα,

immediately, instantly, at that very time, dum ipsa res agitur, it

is by no means likely that there was any immersion in the case;

indeed, all the circumstances of the case, the dead of the night,

the general agitation, the necessity of despatch, and the words of

the text, all disprove it. The apostles, therefore, had another

method of administering baptism besides immersion, which, if

practised according to the Jewish formalities, must have required

considerable time, and not a little publicity. As the Jews were

accustomed to receive whole families of heathens, young and old,

as proselytes, by baptism, so here the apostles received whole

families, those of Lydia and the jailor, by the same rite. It is

therefore pretty evident that we have in this chapter very

presumptive proofs: 1. That baptism was administered without

immersion, as in the case of the jailor and his family; and 2.

That children were also received into the Church in this way; for

we can scarcely suppose that the whole families of Lydia and the

jailor had no children in them; and, if they had, it is not likely

that they should be omitted; for the Jewish practice was

invariably to receive the heathen children with their proselyted


Verse 33. Washed their stripes] ελουσεναποτωνπληγων, He

washed from the stripes: i.e. he washed the blood from the wounds;

and this would not require putting them into a pool, or bath, as

some have ridiculously imagined.

Verse 34. He set meat before them] They were sufficiently

exhausted, and needed refreshment; nor had the apostles any such

inherent miraculous power as could prevent them from suffering

through hunger, or enable them to heal their own grounds. As they

were the instruments of bringing health to his soul, he became the

instrument of health to their bodies. Genuine faith in Christ

will always be accompanied with benevolence and humanity, and

every fruit that such dispositions can produce. The jailor

believed-brought them into his house-washed their stripes-and

set meat before them.

Verse 35. And the magistrates sent the sergeants] The original

word, παβδουχους, means the lictors, persons who carried before

the consul the fasces, which was a hatchet, round the handle of

which was a bundle of rods tied. Why the magistrates should have

sent an order to dismiss the apostles, whom they had so

barbarously used the preceding evening, we cannot tell, unless we

receive the reading of the Codex Bezae as genuine, viz. ημεραςδε



τουςραβδουχουςκτλ And when it was day, the magistrates came


HAPPENED, they were afraid, and they sent the sergeants, &c. The

Itala version of this same MS. has the same reading: so has also

the margin of the later Syriac. If this MS. be correct, the cause

of the dismissal of the apostles is at once evident: the

earthquake had alarmed the magistrates; and, taking it for granted

that this was a token of the Divine displeasure against them for

their unprincipled conduct towards those good men, they wished to

get as quietly rid of the business as they could, and therefore

sent to dismiss the apostles. Whether this reading be genuine or

not, it is likely that it gives the true cause of the magistrates'


Verse 37. They have beaten us openly-being Romans] St. Paul well

knew the Roman laws; and on their violation by the magistrates he

pleads. The Valerian law forbade any Roman citizen to be bound.

The Porcian law forbade any to be beaten with rods. "Poreia lex

virgas ab omnium civium Romanorum corpore amovit." And by the

same law the liberty of a Roman citizen was never put in the power

of the lictor. "Porcia lex libertatem civium lictori eripuit." See

CICERO, Orat. pro Rabirio. Hence, as the same author observes, In

Verrem, Orat. 5: "Facinus est vinciri civem Romanum, scelus

verberari." It is a transgression of the law to bind a Roman

citizen: it is wickedness to scourge him. And the illegality of

the proceedings of these magistrates was farther evident in their

condemning and punishing them unheard. This was a gross violation

of a common maxim in the Roman law. Causa cognita, possunt multi

absolvi; incognita, nemo condemnari potest. Cicero. "Many who are

accused of evil may be absolved, when the cause is heard; but

unheard, no man can be condemned." Every principle of the law of

nature and the law of nations was violated in the treatment these

holy men met with from the unprincipled magistrates of this city.

Let them come themselves and fetch us out.] The apostles were

determined that the magistrates should be humbled for their

illegal proceedings; and that the people at large might see that

they had been unjustly condemned, and that the majesty of the

Roman people was insulted by the treatment they had received.

Verse 38. They feared when they heard-they were Romans.] They

feared, because the Roman law was so constituted that an insult

offered to a citizen was deemed an insult to the whole Roman

people. There is a remarkable addition here, both in the Greek and

Latin of the Codex Bezae. It is as follows: "And when they were

come with many of their friends to the prison, they besought them

to go out, saying: We were ignorant of your circumstances, that ye

were righteous men. And, leading them out, they besought them,

saying, Depart from this city, lest they again make an

insurrection against you, and clamour against you."

Verse 40. Entered into the house of Lydia] This was the place of

their residence while at Philippi: see Ac 16:15.

They comforted them, and departed.] The magistrates were

sufficiently humbled, and the public at large, hearing of this

circumstance, must be satisfied of the innocency of the apostles.

They, therefore, after staying a reasonable time at the house of

Lydia, and exhorting the brethren, departed; having as yet to go

farther into Macedonia, and to preach the Gospel in the most

polished city in the world, the city of Athens. See the succeeding


GREAT and lasting good was done by this visit to Philippi: a

Church was there founded, and the members of it did credit to

their profession. To them the apostle, who had suffered so much

for their sakes, was exceedingly dear; and they evidenced this by

their contributions to his support in the times of his necessity.

They sent him money twice to Thessalonica, Php 4:16, and once to

Corinth, 2Co 11:9, and long afterwards, when he was prisoner in

Rome, Php 4:9, 14, 18. About five or six years after this, St.

Paul visited Philippi on his way to Jerusalem, and he wrote his

epistle to them about ten years after his first journey thither.

The first members of the Church of Christ in this place were Lydia

and her family; and the next in all probability were the jailor

and his family. These doubtless became the instruments of bringing

many more to the faith; for the false imprisonment and public

acquittal of the apostles by the magistrates must have made their

cause popular; and thus the means which were used to prevent the

sowing of the seed of life in this city became the means by which

it was sown and established. Thus the wrath of man praised God;

and the remainder of it he did restrain. Never were these words

more exactly fulfilled than on this occasion.

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