ACTS CHAPTER 16
Acts 16:1-3 "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: 2) Which was well
reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. 3) 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."
A. "Then came he to Derbe and Lystra"
1. Paul and Silas had chosen the land route for their travel.
In essence they were beginning at their farthest point in the first missionary
2. Something like between two and four years had passed since
Paul had been there before.
B. "a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus..."
1. Commentators believe that Timothy was a resident of Lystra.
2. His mother and grandmother were both godly women, raising
Timothy up to be true to God.
3. Both mother (Eunice, 2 Timothy 1:5) and son were converts
4. He had a Gentile father, who was surely not a proslyte to
Judaism. Perhaps it show the lack of interest in spiritual things for Timothy
to have never been circumcised.
C. Why did Paul circumcise Timothy and fight so hard to keep
Titus from being circumcised?
1. The leter that Paul was carrying stated that Gentiles were
not bound by circumcision. In other words, circumcision was a matter of
indifference (Galatians 5:6).
2. It would be necessary for Timothy to be circumcised in order
for him to work with Paul in their contact with other Jews who were not
yet believers. The text makes plain that others knew that his father was
Acts 16:4- "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. 5) And so were the churches established in the
faith, and increased in number daily."
3. Titus, however, was different. He was completely Gentile.
Any circumcising of him would cause some to claim that all Gentiles should
A. "And as they went through the cities, they delivered them
the decrees for to keep..."
1. They delivered copies of letters written from the apostles
and the elders of the Jerusalem church concerning circumcision.
2. Notice a couple of points.
a. Their decisions were not the decision of men who had put
their heads together, they were the will of God, through the Holy Spirit.
b. Notice early how the brethren appealed to the written Word
as final authority in religious matters.
B. "And so were the churches established in the faith, and
increased in number daily."
1. With peace among the brethren the church were able to expend
all their energies to reaching out to the lost, instead of dividing time
between evangelism and division within the body of Christ.
Acts 16:6-10 "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, 7) After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia:
but the Spirit suffered them not. 8) And they passing by Mysia came down
to Troas. 9) 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. 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.""
2. It is quite likely that there had been a period of stagnation
in the growth of the congregations which Paul and Barnabas had worked.
It is also possible that they had bee afflicted with the same problem that
Antioch had suffered, Judaising teachers.
A. "...Were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word
1. Phrygia and Galatia were in the central part of Asia Minor.
2. They had desired to travel into thewestern part of Asia
Minor (Asia) to evangelize the larger cities, such as Ephesus, Smyrna,
3. How did the Holy Spirit communicate this to them? Three
a. Providentially - Door were closed for them where they could
not naturally travel there.
b. Perhaps it was a stirring or urging within Paul.
c. Likely the Spirit expressly communicated to Paul. He did
during the age of miracles.
B. Paul's work in Galatia.
1. Some of his best evangelistic work was done in Galatia.
2. Some connect Galatians 4:13 to this period and surmise that
Paul had contracted some illness and stayed here for some period of time.
C. "After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into
1. How did the Holy Spirit communicate with Paul and Silas?
a. We are not told.
b. We know one things for certain. They had no doubt as to
what was his will. This would seem to eliminate this "better felt than
told" nonsense that many will think are messanges from the Holy Spirit
c. From the fact that the Holy Spirit communicated to Christians
through inspired prophets on several occasions (Acts 11:27ff) and from
Luke explanation (Acts 20:23 and 21:10ff) it would seem likely that it
was delivered through prophets.
2. This shows that God's wisdom is often greater and at odds
with man's wisdom.
a. It was only logical to Paul and Silas to go into the uncharted
regions of Asia Minor, with it's teaming populations, to evangelize.
b. But God had a different idea. He wanted Paul and Silas to
go to a far greater work. He wanted them to take the Gospel into Greece,
which would open the way to Rome itself.
D. "And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood
a man of Macedonia..."
1. The message communicating God's desire to go to Macedonia
was given in the form of a vision in the night.
2. This was the method of communication that God chose to relate
that the Gentile should be part of His kingdom (see chapter 10).
3. Paul and his brethren understood without any doubt that
God wanted them to go to Macedonia.
4. Notice that the pronoun changes to "we" here. It is almost
certain that this shows that Luke joined Paul and Silas here. Perhaps Troas
was the hometown of Luke. We do not know for certainty.
Acts 16:11-13 "Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight
course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; 12) 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. 13) 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."
5. Troas [TROH-az] Originally Alexandria Troas, founded on
the coast of Mysia about 300 B.C., following Alexander's conquest of Asia
Minor. It became a leading seaport, by NT times known simply as Troas,
a name derived from its proximity to the ruins of ancient Troy, about 10
miles (16 km) to the SW. The apostle Paul visited this important city on
several occasions. In Troas, he had the vision of "a man of Macedonia,"
calling him to preach in Europe. Here also Paul raised Eutychus, who was
killed in a fall from a window. Acts 16:8-12; Acts 20:5-6; 2 Cor 2:12
A. "Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course
to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis"
1. SAMOTHRACE (sam oh thrayke') Place name perhaps meaning,
"height of Thrace." Mountainous island in northern Aegean Sea thirty-eight
miles south of coast of Thrace with peaks rising 5,000 feet above sea level.
Paul spent a night there on his second missionary journey as he headed
to Philippi (Acts 16:11). A famous mystery cult was practiced there.
2. NEAPOLIS (Nih ap' uh lihs) Name meaning, "new city," of
the seaport of Philippi (Acts 16:11). Neapolis (modern Kavala) is located
about ten miles from Philippi in northeastern Macedonia. The city sits
on a neck of land between two bays, each of which serve as harbors. It
is the beginning point for the Egnation Way, the Roman military road that
Aegean to the Adriatic Sea. It was 490 miles long and was the route that
was taken by travelers from the east who desire to travel overland to Roman.
B. "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
1. Philippi was the most important city in Macedonia, which
was just north of Greece. It sat close to Byzantium, the traditional starting
point for Europe.
2. It was named for Philip II, the father of Alexander. It
was the site of a battle between the forces of Octavius (later the Emperor
Augustos) and Mark Anthony over the forces of Brutus and Cassius (the assassins
of Julius Caesar).
a. A Roman colony of retired soldiers there. It was given many
privileges, including Roman citizenship.
C. "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."
1. It is likely that since Philippi was a Roman colony that
there were few Jews there. That is why women were gathered at the river
for prayer on the Sabbath. It took ten Jewish males in a city to organize
2. It is likely that Paul and his company had made inquiry
concerning if there were Jews worshipping anywhere in Philippi on the Sabbath.
He was probably told that there weren't many but if there were they would
be worshipping down by the river outside of town.
Acts 16:14- "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. 15)
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."
3. There would be fewer Jews in Philippi since, being an Imperial
city, they would have likely honored an earlier edict by the emperor Cladius
expelling all the Jews from Rome.
A. "And a certain woman named Lydia..."
1. Lydia was a business woman who sold an expensive dye made
of murex shells. It was used to dye clothes purple and was very expensive.
It was the color of emperors and the very wealthy.
2. She was visiting Philippi, likely on business and sought
to worship God on the Sabbath.
3. From the phrase "which worshipped God" it is likely that
she was a Gentile who believed in Jehovah but who had not been a full proselyte
B. "whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the
things which were spoken of Paul."
1. There is no doubt that the Lord opened her heart. It is,
however, unnecessary to believe that some miraculous means was used. In
fact, in every case of conversion recorded preaching ws the means that
God used to reach the lost.
2. The heart is affected by the preaching of the Word. See
Romans 10:9-10, 17; Acts 2:37
C. "And when she was baptized, and her household..."
1. In every case in the book of Acts those who wanted to be
come Christians were always baptized immediately.
2. This passage is used by those who practice infant sprinkling
to "prove" that infants were baptized. Ths is arguing from the silence
of the scriptures wrongly.
a. In order to argue from the silence of the scriptures we
must do it in a way that would not read something into them. There is simply
nothing here that would demand that infants be involved.
b. In fact, since the opening of the heart is involved, it
would rule against infants being included here, since infants cannot reason.
c. Verse 13 states that Paul and his company spake to the women
as the basis of baptism. This would surely mean that Lydia's household
were included among them.
Acts 16:16-18 "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: 17) The same followed Paul and us, and
cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which show
unto us the way of salvation. 18) 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."
d. It is not necessary to include infants here. It would be
more natural to include Lydia's travelling "family" i.e. her servants.
A. "And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel
possessed with a spirit of divination..."
1. It is true that demons possessed certain people in the first
century. A clear case can be made that this was for the purpose of confirming
God's actions and truth when the were cast out.
2. One of the gifts of the Spirit given to the apostles was
the casting out of Spirits. See Mark 16:17-20.
3. Literally, this slave girl had a "Python spirit." This was
connected with the fortune telling at Delphi where the ancient would travel
to have their futures told.
B. "The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying..."
1. The motive for here saying what she did can be seen in the
preceeding passage. She brought huge profits to her masters.
2. She likely sought to cash in on identifying Paul and his
company as true servants of God.
3. It is likely that the this demon gave her the information,
hoping to wreak havoc on the apostle's work.
C. "And this did she many days..."
1. This went on for some time. Probably Paul tolerated her
for some time, since she did tell the truth about the. Finally, Paul tired
of her continued badgering, cast out the demon. He had no desire to let
other cash in financially on the truth of the Gospel.
Acts 16:19-21 "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, 20) And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These
men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, 21) And teach customs,
which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans."
2. The same hour is synonomous with instantaneous.
A. "And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was
1. With their ability to make money taken away from them, the
girl's masters had Paul and Silas taken before an imperial magestrate.
B. "And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men,
being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city..."
1. This shows a racial hatred toward Jews here.
Acts 16:22- "And the multitude rose up together against them: and the
magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. 23) And
when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison,
charging the jailor to keep them safely: 24) Who, having received such
a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in
2. The accusation was completely false. They could not, however,
tell the magestrate that it was that Paul and Silas was only guilty of
taking away of their money making ability.
A. "And the multitude rose up together against them: and the
magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them..."
1. Racial hatred is usually an effective tool in stirring up
a mob. The crowd gathered grew restless, wanting Paul and Silas punished
2. The Imperial magistrates, abandoning their legal responsibility,
were carried away with the mob. Without trial, or even hearing, Paul and
Silas were beaten.
3. They were probably beaten with rods that were used as symbols
of office of Imperial officers. DeWelt says that it was a rod similar to
the old fashioned carpet beater. Whatever the tool, it must have been a
4. Paul said that he suffered such beatings three times (2
B. "Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the
inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks."
1. The typical Roman prison would have two sections. The first
was above ground and for those prisoner who were guilty of lesser crimes.
It would be somewhat like our jails today. The second was well below ground,
receive no light, and have stocks to hold their feet securely.
2. The stocks would cause a person to not be able to get into
a comfortable position because they could not either sit of lay down.
Acts 16:25-34 "But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing
hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26) Suddenly there
was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken;
and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed.
27) And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison
doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about
to kill himself. 28) But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, "Do yourself
no harm, for we are all here." 29) Then he called for a light, ran in,
and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30) And he brought them
out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" So they said, "Believe
on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household."
32) Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in
his house. 33) And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their
stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34) Now when
he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced,
having believed in God with all his household."
3. They must have had excruciating pain in these stocks, since
it would stretch they beaten backs.
A. "But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing
hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them."
1. Instead of complaining, or thinking that God had abandoned
them, Paul and Silas were in communion with the Lord by means of prayer
2. This should be a model to us. When we are in pain and hurt
we should draw closer to the Lord, instead of blaming Him for our troubles
and drifting away from Him.
3. James 5:13- "Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.
Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms."
4. The other prisoners could hear the hymns of Paul and Silas.
What greater introduction to Christianity could these prisoners have received
from Paul and Silas than what they heard on that late night in a dark prison.
How many were converted as a result of Paul and Silas's example and the
Jailor's teaching. Only eternity will tell.
B. "Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations
of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and
everyone's chains were loosed."
1. God, as earlier toward the other apostles (Acts 5:19; 12:10),
provided a means of release for Paul and Silas. But it was a means of release
for the purpose of preaching the Gospel, not to run into the night and
2. Not only was Paul and Silas' chains loosed, but all in the
inner regions of the jail.
C. "And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing
the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword
and was about to kill himself."
1. The Jailor lived under a strict code. He was a military
man, and as such, knew that he would have to pay for his "breech of duty"
with his own life. He felt that death at his own hands was preferable to
execution. It was considered the honorable thing.
a. "Suicide to a Roman of that day was very much a matter of
indifference. Brutus and Cassius, models of Roman virtue, had committed
it at or near Philippi...Christianity first taught men to estimate life
and death rightly." (Cook's Bible Commentary)
2. He drew out his Roman short sword and prepared to plunge
it into his chest.
D. "But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, "Do yourself
no harm, for we are all here." 29) Then he called for a light, ran in,
and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas."
1. Paul, being a Roman citizen, was familar with what the Jailor
would do. He cried out for him to not go through with the suicide. There
was no need, every man was secure.
2. The Jailor in some way must have known that Paul and Silas
was responsible for the earthquake. He immediately asked for a light and
came in fearful before Paul and Silas.
3. His falling down at their feet was a sign of reverence and
E. "And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do
to be saved?"
1. It is likely that he was concerned with his spiritual well
2. He probably had seen and heard the young woman crying about
Paul and Silas having the power of God.
3. Adding that with the fact of the earthquake together he
must have believed that Paul and Silas had great spiritual powers.
F. "So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you
will be saved, you and your household."
1. Why did Paul and Silas give him this answer to his question.
2. The same basic question is asked two other times.
a. Acts 2:37 - "What shall we do?" The answer is in verse 38.
b. Acts 22:10 - "What shall I do, Lord?" The answer is in verse
3. The three different answers are given because the ones asking
the question are in different spiritual conditions.
a. Those on Pentecost had faith. They were Jews who had already
heard the truth. They were commanded to repent and be baptized.
b. Saul of Tarsus already believed and had repented. He was
commanded to arise and be baptized.
c. The Philippian Jailor understood very little about Jesus.
It was necessary that he first have faith in Jesus Christ. After he was
taught he was also taught to be baptized.
G. "Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all
who were in his house. ..."
1. They were all taught the gospel, then they were baptized.
They were baptized the same hour of the night.
2. He shows his repentant attitude by taking Paul and Silas
and washing their stripes.
3. In every case in the book of Acts baptism came immediately
following a contact with the gospel.
Acts 16:35- "And when it was day, the magistrates sent the officers,
saying, "Let those men go." 36) So the keeper of the prison reported these
words to Paul, saying, "The magistrates have sent to let you go. Now therefore
depart, and go in peace." 37) But Paul said to them, "They have beaten
us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison. And now
do they put us out secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and get
us out." 38) And the officers told these words to the magistrates, and
they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans. 39) Then they came
and pleaded with them and brought them out, and asked them to depart from
the city. 40) So they went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia;
and when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them and departed."
4. Verse 34 gives the conclusion. Both the Jailer and his whole
family had believed.
A. "And when it was day, the magistrates sent the officers,
saying, "Let those men go."
1. It is interesting to speculate as to why there was this
change of heart concerning Paul and Silas' imprisonment. After all, they
were placed in the "maximum security" part of the prison.
2. Perhaps their sentence was for just a night in jail. This
seems highly unlikely. The tenor of the magistrates' statement to the jailers
seems to suggest that their being there was a mistake.
3. Maybe the magistrates intended to give Paul and Silas a
beating and a night in jail and then release them after the mob had calmed
down and dispersed.
4. Most likely, the magistrates began to have doubts about
the proceedings of the previous day and decided that they need to reverse
B. "So the keeper of the prison reported these words to Paul,
saying, "The magistrates have sent to let you go. Now therefore depart,
and go in peace."
1. This was equivilent to saying, "get out of town."
2. This is an indication that the magistrates thought that
they had been hasty in their judgment and hoped to get Paul and Silas out
of town before anyone heard.
C. "But Paul said to them, "They have beaten us openly, uncondemned
Romans, and have thrown us into prison. And now do they put us out secretly?
No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out."
1. Paul had a bombshell to drop on his keepers! He and Silas
were Roman citizens. This made the entire proceedings of the previous day
illegal and placed the magistrates on shakey ground.
2. Roman law made it a crime to beat any Roman citizen without
due process. Also, every Roman citizen had the option to directly "appeal
to Caesar." This would require his case to be heard by one of the emperor's
legal advisors in Rome and a decision by the emperor himself. It also outlawed
crucifixion for Roman citizens. Beheading would be the mode of execution
for all capitol offenses.
3. Paul was not so willing to go quietly and let the magistrates
off so quickly. He demanded that they come to him and Silas personally
and give a public apology. He had no intention of slipping out of town
and going meekly. He would be vindicated and thus strengthen the smal church
that had begun.
D. "And the officers told these words to the magistrates..."
1. Paul's declaration had it's desired effect. It was the magistrates'
turn to feel discomfort.
2. Their positions, and possibly their lives, were now in jeopardy.
If Paul and Silas pressed charges these men would be in deep legal trouble.
3. This time, the magistrates did not rudely command them to
leave, they begged them to. It is likely that Paul and Silas would have
left soon for another city and field of work. Paul did not want to depart
leaving the impression that they were being "run out of town." This would
have likely killed the church in Philippi.
E. "So they went out of the prison and entered the house of
Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them and departed."
1. Paul and Silas left the prison and went to the house of
Lydia, the first convert in Philippi.
2. Notice that Paul and Silas had been beaten and thrown in
the deep dungeon in Philippi, yet were intent on encouraging the young
Copyright 1999 by Grady Scott
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3. Paul and Silas left Philippi left as they had come, free
servants of the Lord.