The Gospel Carried into Europe.
SUMMARY.--Paul at Troas.
The Call to Macedonia in a Vision.
The Journey to Philippi.
The Conversion of Lydia and Her Household.
The Damsel with the Spirit of Divination Healed.
The Rage of Her Masters.
Paul and Silas Seized, Scourged, Placed in Prison in the Stocks.
The Events at Midnight.
The Jailer and Household Baptized.
An Appeal to Rights of Romans.
1-3. He came to Derbe and Lystra. Compare
Behold, a certain disciple was there. A member of the church at
Lystra, converted on the previous missionary tour.
Timotheus. Born of a Jewish mother, but of a Greek father. The
name is Greek and means one who fears God. Following his father, he
was uncircumcised and, hence, regarded as a Greek instead of a Jew. Yet
he had been taught the Scriptures from childhood
(2 Tim. 3:15)
by his pious mother and grandmother
(2 Tim. 1:5).
These, Eunice and Lois by name, were Christians also.
1 Cor. 4:17
shows that Paul converted him. Compare
Well reported. As an active, efficient Christian. He had
evidently labored for Christ in both places, and given such proofs as
to show his fitness for the missionary work.
Go forth with him. As a traveling companion.
And circumcised him. Not because he thought it necessary to
because of the Jews. Wherever Paul traveled, he first labored in
the Jewish synagogues. If one of his traveling companions was a
Gentile, it would arouse Jewish prejudices so as to close their ears.
Hence, since "neither circumcision nor uncircumcision was anything"
(1 Cor. 7:19),
he complied with the principle that he states in
1 Cor. 9:19, 20.
it is stated that when Titus, a Greek, went up to Jerusalem, he was not
compelled to be circumcised. Had he been, it would have been a
concession to the Judaizing Christians who insisted that circumcision
was necessary to salvation. Here the case was different. No Judaizing
party made such a demand, and the act was one of pure expediency, in
order to reach more readily unconverted Jews. These examples teach us
to accommodate ourselves to the prejudices of others as far as we can
without the sacrifice of principle. From other passages
(1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6),
we learn that, at this time probably, Timothy was ordained by the
elders, and received special gifts by the imposition of the hands of
4, 5. They went through the cities. Where churches were already
planted. As they went, they "delivered the decrees on circumcision and
the law of Moses" decided upon at Jerusalem
6-10. When they had gone throughout Phrygia. This was a Roman
province west of Lycaonia in Asia Minor, running down to the seacoast
of the Ægean Sea.
Galatia lay on the north of Lycaonia, and was entirely in the
interior. It received its name from a settlement of Gauls, an offshoot
of a Gallic invasion of Greece in the third century before Christ. It
became a Roman province in A. D. 26. No record is made here of the
results of this tour, but as we elsewhere learn of numerous churches in
Galatia shortly after this, we are justified in the inference that they
were planted at this time.
Forbidden . . . to preach the word in Asia. By Asia is
meant, not the great quarter of the world so named, but the province so
called by the Romans, of which Ephesus was the capital. The Spirit now
had other work for them. In the same way they were kept from going into
Bithynia, the province on the Black or Euxine sea, north of Galatia,
and hence turned westward through Mysia to the sea-coast at Troas. This
city was about four miles from the site of ancient Troy, and was a
transit harbor for those who crossed from Asia to Macedonia, or
A vision appeared. Like Peter's vision at Joppa, it was a
revelation. Like Peter's, it called him to labor in fields before
A man of Macedonia. Macedonia proper lies to the north of the
Ægean Sea, within a few hours sail of Troas. This ancient kingdom,
under Philip and Alexander, had first absorbed all Greece, then
conquered Persia and spread the Grecian language and customs over all
western Asia. In turn it had fallen before the Romans, and was now a
Roman province. It had a number of large cities, but Thessalonica was
the Roman capital.
10. We endeavored to go into Macedonia. Sought to find a ship to
carry them across. There is no intimation that they preached at this
time of Troas, but a few years later we find here a church
Here, first, the writer of Acts speaks of himself as one of the company
and adopts the style of an eye witness. It is supposed that Luke
joined the missionary band at Troas.
11, 12. We came with a straight course. Before the wind.
To Samothracia. An island about halfway between Troas and
Neapolis, the European port where they landed.
And from thence to Philippi. Only a few miles distant. They
sought it at once, because it was
the chief city of that part of Macedonia.
The apostles tried to leaven the centers of influence with the Gospel.
The city had been rebuilt about 400 years before this by Philip, the
father of Alexander the Great, who named it after himself. It was
famous as the place of the decisive battle between Brutus and Cassius
on the one hand, and Mark Antony and Octavius, afterwards Augustus
Cæsar, upon the other.
A colony. A Roman
colony was a settlement of Romans in a foreign country, with all the
privileges of Romans. The colony had its own senate, its own
magistrates, observed all the Roman forms, and was a miniature Rome.
This colony had been established by Augustus Cæsar, who settled
at this place a multitude of the partisans of his rival, Mark Antony,
after the death of the latter. Philippi is now a small village named
13-15. Went out . . . by a river side. The Gangas, a small river
which flows by the city.
Where prayer was wont to be made. Where there was a praying
place. There seems to have been no synagogue, but a few pious Jews,
women at least in great part, met on the river banks, out of the city,
We . . . spake unto the women. Either Jewish women,
or proselytes to the Jewish faith.
Lydia. The name is Greek. She was probably a convert to Judaism.
A seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira. Thyatira,
afterwards one of the seven churches of Asia, was beyond the
Ægean Sea, hundreds of miles away. It was on the borders of
Lydia, which was famous for its purple cloths. She was at this distant
place for purposes of trade. Thyatira was a Macedonian colony, and
Lydia probably had acquaintances or kinsmen in Macedonia itself.
Whose heart the Lord opened. How, it is not stated. Possibly
some of his providences especially fitted her for the reception of the
And when she was baptized. In the apostolic period baptism
always at once followed acceptance of the gospel.
And her household. Some have held that this implies the baptism
of infants. It rather implies that her servants and friends also
accepted the gospel. There is no ground for the inference that she was
even married, or had children. Meyer (Acts, p. 311), himself a
German Lutheran, says: "If, in the Jewish and Gentile families which
were converted to Christ there were children, their baptism is to be
assumed in those cases, when they were so far advanced
that they could and did confess their faith on Jesus as the Messiah;
for this was the universal, absolutely necessary qualification for the
reception of baptism. . . . Therefore the baptism of the children of
Christians, of which no trace is found in the New Testament is not
to be held as an apostolic ordinance." Olshausen and Neander, also
Pedobaptists, take the same view. Lydia's household was probably
composed of women who assisted her in her business.
She constrained us. Paul did not usually accept aid from his
(Acts 20:33; 2 Cor. 12:17),
but it seems that her urgent entreaty prevailed.
16-18. As we went to prayer. To the place of prayer.
A certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination.
Literally, "The spirit of a Pythoness." This meant, among the Greeks, a
prophetic spirit, Pythias being one of the names of Apollo, the god of
prophecy. The account shows that the damsel was "possessed," that her
strange power gave her value in that it was superhuman, that she was a
slave, owned by several masters, and brought them
much gain by soothsaying. Luke does not say that she foretold
the future, but the people thought she did. She was a demoniac. See
These men are the servants of the most high God. For similar
testimony of the evil spirits to the work and power of Christ, see
Mark 3:12; Luke 4:34.
The Lord silenced them, and Paul followed the example. He delayed for
many days, for reasons we cannot explain, possibly on account of
something connected with the afflicted damsel herself.
In the name of Jesus Christ to come out. "In my name," said
the risen Lord, "shall they cast out devils"
19-24. When her masters saw that the hope of their gains was
gone. Nothing inflames the rage of men more than to see their hope
of ill-gotten gains taken away. In our country more than one man has
fallen a victim to the rage of rum-sellers who have seen their hope of
gain taken away.
Caught Paul and Silas. As the leaders of the missionary band.
Drew them into the market-place. The forum, or open square where
meetings were held and the magistrates held their courts.
To the magistrates. Roman officers, two in number, called
duumviri, or prætors.
These men, being Jews. A great prejudice against Jews at this
time existed in Europe. Near this time, Claudius Cæsar expelled
all Jews from Rome
Do trouble our city. Raise disturbances.
Teach customs . . . not lawful. Roman law sternly
forbade one not a Jew to be circumcised.--Howson. Paul and Silas
did not teach this, but it was a safe charge to make, they being
The multitude rose . . . against them. Inflamed with
The magistrates. Without inquiry, influenced by the outcries of
Rent off their clothes. They ordered them at once to be
scourged. The lictors, the executioners, were at hand. The Roman custom
was to lay bare the body and to beat it with the rods borne by the
lictors. Paul says
(2 Cor. 11:25),
"Thrice was I beaten with rods."
Laid many stripes upon them. Moses
mercifully restricted the number of stripes; hence, Paul says: "Five
times I received of the Jews forty stripes, save one"
(2 Cor. 11:24).
With the Romans there was no such restriction.
Thrust them into the inner prison. A damp interior cell from
which all light was excluded.
The stocks. An instrument of torture as well as confinement. The
feet, stretched wide apart, were thrust through holes in a wall of
wood, and the prisoner was fastened there.
25-34. Prayed, and sang praises. Never before had such sounds at
midnight been heard from that inner dungeon. Bound, fettered, tortured,
the spirit still had liberty, could pray, and praise
God. God heard them, too, for there was
a great earthquake. See
It was God's angel to loose their bonds, open the prison doors, and
magnify their work.
The keeper . . . drew out his sword. He was
responsible with his life for the safety of his prisoners. Fancying
them gone, he determined, like a Roman, to anticipate disgrace by
death. Right there at Philippi, Brutus and Cassius had each inflicted
self-death. Self-murder was very common among the Romans.
We are all here. Paul and Silas had no inclination of
escape; the other prisoners were probably too much astounded.
Called for a light. "Lights" in the Revision. All was darkness.
Fell down before Paul and Silas. Awed, believing that they were
under Divine protection.
Brought them out. Of the inner prison, probably into the prison
What must I do to be saved? Saved from suicide, no danger of
death because the prisoners are there, awed by the wonderful events,
aware that these men preached a new religion and salvation, he asks
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. He was a heathen. Faith was
the first essential step. To Jews, on the day of Pentecost, already
believing Peter's proposition, he said, in answer to the same question,
"Repent and be baptized;"
but the heathen jailer was not ready for this. Faith must first be
wrought, and then that faith, leading to the acceptance of Christ,
would save. His faith would save, because it would be the power that
would lead him to follow Christ.
And thy house. We learn from the
that "his house" could listen the
word of the Lord, hence were not infants. It was needful to
preach the word, for this heathen knew almost nothing of the
gospel. In preaching it, Paul preached baptism, for that follows in
Washed their stripes. They were all covered with bruises, blood
and dust. His heart is now changed and filled with the spirit of mercy.
Howson suggests that they were washed in the tank or reservoir within
the prison court, supplied by the water from the roof. Here also all
baptized straightway. On the baptism of his household, see notes
Brought them into his house. The Revision says "up;" that is,
from the court below where he washed their stripes, and was baptized.
They were "brought out"
the word was preached "in his house"
they were then "taken" to
the place of baptism
after he "brought them into his house"
Believing in God with all his house. All his household were,
35-40. The magistrates sent the serjeants. The lictors are
meant. It is possible that the magistrates had, in some way, heard that
Paul and Silas were Roman citizens. They wished, therefore, to quietly
get rid of them. The Porcian and Valerian laws exempted all Roman
citizens from stripes or torture. They had broken the law.
Let them come themselves and fetch us out. They had been
publicly scourged and tortured as evil doers, in violation of law. Paul
insisted that they should be as publicly vindicated, not for their own
honor, but for the sake of the church at Philippi.
Being Romans. We learn from
that Paul was born a Roman citizen. His father, or some remoter
ancestor, had been admitted to Roman citizenship, a great privilege and
They feared. Had Paul insisted, the magistrates could
have been severely punished. They might abuse aliens, but "to be a
Roman was greater than to be a king." Hence, they humbled themselves,
and "came, and besought them, and desired them to depart out of that
When they had seen the brethren. Who now met at the house of
Lydia. The church thus planted grew and was afterwards honored with an
Departed. To another field of labor. The reader should pause to
reflect that Philippi was the first place, so far as we know, where the
gospel was preached in Europe,
that a woman was the first convert,
that the messengers of the cross were met with blows, torture, and the
but through grace and the power of God triumphed gloriously.
While Paul was in his next field of labor, Thessalonica, this young
church of Philippi twice sent contributions to sustain him
(Phil. 4:15, 16).