1 “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:” And he came also for then came he, Authorized Version
and Textus Receptus; to Lystra for Lystra, Authorized Version; Timothy for Timotheus,
Authorized Version; of a Jewess for of a certain woman which was a Jewess,
Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; which for and, Authorized Version. For
and , see Acts 14 and notes. This time Paul visited Derbe first, whereas
before he came from Lystra to Derbe (ch. 14:6, 8, 21). ; viz. at Lystra (see
his special mention of Timothy's mother Eunice (II Timothy 1:5), it is probable
that both mother and son were converted by Paul at his first visit to Lystra,
some years before (ch. 14:7). . It is a Greek name, meaning "one who
honors God" (formed, like Timoleon, Timolaus, Timocrates, etc.). It was a not
uncommon name, and occurs repeatedly in the Books of the Maccabees (I Macc.
5:6; 2 Macc. 8:30, etc.). Another form is Timesitheos. Timothy is uniformly spoken
of by Paul in terms of eulogy and warm affection (see, besides the passages above
general tone of the Epistles to Timothy). Eunice (II Timothy 1:5),; viz.
also a Greek name (equivalent to
would probably have been said that he was.
The Character of Timothy (v. 1)
This young man was so closely associated with the Apostle Paul, and with
such complete sympathy shared his thoughts and his work, that he deserves
a careful study, and his character will be found to have points of interest
from which important practical lessons may be drawn. He is introduced to
us in this passage, but we must assume the fuller knowledge of him that is
conveyed by historical references in the Acts and Epistles, and by the
letters of counsel addressed by Paul to him personally. Of him Canon
Farrar says, “He was, in fact, more than any other, the alter ego of the
apostle. Their knowledge of each other was mutual; and one whose
yearning and often lacerated heart had such deep need of a kindred spirit
on which to lean for sympathy, and whose distressing infirmities rendered
necessary to him the personal services of some affectionate companion,
must have regarded the devoted tenderness of Timothy as a special gift of
God to save him from being crushed by overmuch sorrow.” Timothy was
brought to Christ by Paul’s preaching, and the way in which the apostle
reminds Timothy of his sufferings
(II Timothy 3:10-11), suggests that Timothy was an actual “witness of
Paul’s injurious treatment; and this at a time of life when the mind receives
its deepest impressions from the spectacle of innocent suffering and
undaunted courage. And it is far from impossible that the generous and
warm-hearted youth was standing in that group of disciples who
surrounded the apparently lifeless body of the apostle at the outside of the
wails of Lystra.”
is certain that he was of a naturally amiable and affectionate disposition,
and had this advantage from his birth. His mother, and her mother before
her, were amiable and pious women, and transmitted their natural grace to
this young man. It is often observed that children bear the disposition of
their mothers; and just such a gentle tone of character as Timothy showed
has often been traceable to such a godly ancestry as he had. It may seem as
if women had but little work to do; but what a noble mission is theirs if
their patient culture of natural disposition gives their children the
vantage-ground of amiable and attractive character! Few blessings resting
on our life surpass that of the hereditary influence of good and godly
TRAINING. “Of a child he had known the Scriptures.” (II Timothy 3:15)
Ø an early awakening of the intelligence;
Ø a guardianship of his youth and young manhood from folly and
Ø a preparedness for the fuller light and truth brought to him by the
Ø a fitness for the Christian ministry to which he subsequently became
It may also be shown how the influence of his early teachers tended to
Ø a studious habit;
Ø a cultivation of the passive graces almost to the disadvantage of the
No more beautiful characters are found on earth than those who are
naturally amiable, and whose amiability is sanctified by Divine grace.
MANHOOD. From the Epistles written by Paul to him we gather what
were the leading features of his character.
Ø Great affectionateness of disposition, which made him cleave closely to
any one he loved, and enabled him to make cheerful sacrifices for them.
Ø Great steadfastness and trustworthiness, so that Paul found he could
always rely on him. He acted from principle, not mere impulse; and had
a strong sense of duty.
Ø A studious habit of mind, which, no doubt, made him valuable to Paul
Ø for his writing work, but became a snare to him, as unfitting him, to
some extent, for public ministerial duties. Out of this, and the
consequent frailty of his health, came a shyness and timidity which
Paul urges him to overcome. It has been well said that Timothy is a
beautiful example for young men, as “one of those simple, faithful
natures which combine the glow of courage with the bloom of
2 “Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium.”
The same for which, Authorized Version. This is an improvement, as making it plain
that it was Timothy, not his father, who was ὅς. For the phrase,
II Timothy 3:11. It appears, too,; coupled together, as in
from ch. 14:19, that there was close communication between Iconium and Lystra.
The brethren at Iconium would, therefore, naturally know all about young Timothy
(compare I Timothy 3:7).
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. He took for took, Authorized Version; that for which,
Authorized Version; parts for quarters, Authorized Version; all knew for knew all,
Authorized Version.. The Jewish origin of Timothy on his mother's
side was a sufficient reason for circumcising him, according to the maxim, Partus
sequitur ventrem (the offspring follow the condition of the mother). And it could
be done without prejudice to the rights of Gentile converts as established in the
decrees of which Paul was bearer.; not the Christian Jews, who
ought to know better than trust in circumcision, but the unbelieving Jews, who
would be scandalized if Paul had an uncircumcised man for his fellow-laborer.
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
Went on their way for went, Authorized Version; which had been for that were,
Authorized Version; that for which, Authorized Version.
5 “And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number
daily.” So for and so, Authorized Version; the Churches were strengthened for
were the Churches established, Authorized Version. In number; i.e. in the number
τῇ πίστει – Estereounto tae pistei – were made stable to the faith; they were made
firm in the faith," compare Colossians 2:5, Τὸ στερέωμα τῆς εἰς Ξριστὸν πίστεως
ὑμῶν – To stereoma taes eis Christon pisteos humon - The steadfastness;
stability of your faith in Christ. The word is used in its physical sense in ch. 3:7,
Ἐστερεώθησαν αὐτοῦ αἱ βάσεις κ.τ.λ. – Estereothaesan autou hai baseis k.t.l. –
Were given the stability of him the insteps, etc. - His feet and anklebones received
strength; became fast and firm instead of being loose and vacillating.
The Choice of a Fit Person (vs. 1-5)
The ordination of Timothy to be a minister of God, and Paul’s fellow-laborer
in the gospel of Christ (I Timothy 4:14; II Timothy 1:6; I Thessalonians 3:2),
was a great event in the Church’s history. The character of her individual
bishops and priests has always been a matter of paramount importance, and in
nothing do we see the wisdom of the great apostle more conspicuous than in the
choice of his fellow-laborers, He who refused Mark, because he was not sure of
him, discerned in Timothy, young as he was, that simplicity of purpose, and that
sober and docile zeal in the service of Christ, which made him a fit instrument for
the most arduous missionary work. Many qualifications concurred in Timothy.
There was his thorough grounding in the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures
through the pious care of his mother and grandmother, which gave strength
to his own faith, and made him capable of reasoning with the Jews. There
was his Jewish birth on his mother’s side, which, when he was circumcised,
would make him acceptable to the circumcision; and there was his Gentile
birth on his father’s side, which would enable him to sympathize with the
Greeks, and would dispose them to listen to him. There was his early
acquaintance with the afflictions of the gospel, which he had seen so
bravely borne by the apostle at Iconium and at Lystra, and which he had
dared to share by taking upon himself the Christian profession in the very
heat of the persecution; and there was his warm attachment to Paul as
of a son to his father. All this Paul saw in him, and foresaw that, of all his
missionary band, none would exceed Timothy in devotedness to the Lord’s
work, and in singleness of aim for the Church’s good (Philippians 2:19-22).
The event fully justified his expectations. Not Luke, the beloved
physician; not Silas, the faithful brother and indefatigable evangelist; not
Titus, his “own son after the faith,” were greater helps and comforts to him
than this young disciple from the rude community of Lystra. In him he had
one like-minded with himself — always ready for work, always seeking the
things that are Jesus Christ’s; never ashamed of the gospel, ready to endure
afflictions as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. The great day will reveal the
value of Timothy’s service in the
learn are: for the bishops of the Church, to give their utmost care to make
choice of fit persons to serve in the sacred ministry of the Church; for the
persons chosen, to throw their whole heart and soul into the work, that it
may be well and worthily done; for the Church at large, to pray very
earnestly that God would raise up faithful, wise, and earnest men to preach
his gospel, to feed his flock, and so to build up his kingdom that the
Churches may be “established in the faith, and increase in numbers daily.”
The Church’s Duty and Reward (vs. 1-5)
Ø To encourage and develop Christian talent. When Paul went to Lystra
he found the Church there speaking well of a young disciple, Timotheus.
This convert was “well reported of by the brethren” (v. 2), and “him Paul
would have to go forth with him” (v. 3). The Church praised him who
was praiseworthy; and the minister trusted and encouraged him who was
trustworthy, leading him on to higher things, and placing him in a position
in which his consecrated powers would have freer range and extended
youthful piety, and paves the way for the exercise and development of
Ø To make timely concession. “Him Paul took and circumcised because of
the Jews” (v. 3). Paul thought these men wrong in their views, but he
consulted their sensibilities for the sake of concord and progress. The true
triumph is, not to work well with those with whom we are in full sympathy,
but to co-operate, without friction, with those between whom and
ourselves there is variance of view or difference of disposition. There is no
possibility of rendering any considerable service in the cause of Church
organization, without a large measure of the conciliatory spirit, and
without a considerable amount of actual concession. Not the man who
carries his point by obstinate persistency, but he who yields at the right
time and in the right spirit is commended of his Lord.
Ø To be faithful to all compacts. (v. 4.) Probably Paul and Silas might
have safely said nothing about the decision at
Minor would have heard nothing about that. But they were scrupulous to
carry out the compromise in all its particulars. Fidelity to an undertaking is
a clear and urgent Christian duty; the Church or the minister who should
slight it would be doing something which is not only unworthy but
discreditable, displeasing to Christ, injurious to itself or himself.
Ø To keep in view consolidation and extension: to preserve a fair and wise
proportion between these different branches of Christian work. Under the
hand of Paul and Silas the Chinches of Asia “were established in the faith,
and increased in number” (v. 5). The missionaries were not more
desirous of extending the line of active evangelization than of securing the
ground which they had taken. This is Christian wisdom. The two
complementary works should always go together; one will minister to the
other; one cannot shine without the other.
Ø To glean individual results. True and keen must have been Paul’s
gratification to find such a disciple as Timothy at Lystra. Well was he
recompensed for the cruel stoning he received in that town by gaining such
a “beloved son” and valuable helper in his work of faith and love. And it is
the individual results of the Christian teacher’s labor which are his most
appreciated reward now. The recovery of that lost one; the decision of that
vacillating one; the consecration of that promising one; — these are his joy
Ø To witness general progress. To find that “the Churches are
established,” and that they are “increasing in number;” to know that the
cause of Christ is advancing, that His kingdom is coming, that His name is
being honored, and His praises sung by those who had been ignorant of His
dying love; — what joy, what intense and pure satisfaction, is this! Other
sources of delight may pass, or they may leave a stain rather than a tint
behind them; but this is a gladness that abides, and which purifies and
ennobles the heart of him who is made happier thereby.
Paul’s Second Missionary Journey Commenced (vs. 1-5)
Ø In his own spirit — by faithful service and abundant grace received.
Ø In his higher standing among his brethren. The sympathy and confidence
by the Churches of
to a higher level.
Ø In the clearer course opened by the settlement of the controversy as to
the position of the Gentile converts.
Timothy was specially gifted to be Paul’s companion. His Greek education.
His mother’s and grandmother’s piety. His father possibly a proselyte. He
himself Paul’s son in the faith. Silas more Jewish. The Holy Spirit guides us
when we seek out helpers in dependence on higher wisdom. The young
minister had the confidence of the Churches, where probably he had
exercised his gifts. Those who are selected as candidates for the ministry
should be approved and well reported of, and in some degree tried. Paul’s
own judgment was sustained by that of others.
SHUNNED, even at the cost of suppressing personal feeling. When it was
a question of maintaining principle, Paul would not consider Jewish
prejudice; when it was a question of conciliating and preparing the way for
the gospel, he would put his own broader views in the background. An
example showing that promises and conciliation can be mingled in the same
character; a warning against self-assertion.
ON THE STABILITY AND PROSPERITY OF SPIRITUAL WORK.
was no despotism of
were decrees ordained; not the decrees of those who sought dominion over
the faith of others, but the decisions of wise, good, inspired men, who
spoke under the influence of the Spirit. We should obey the will of the
whether we hear it from
true, humble, and zealous desire to be strengthened and to increase will be
the best preservative against schism. There is no inconsistency between
liberty and reverence. They support one another.
Apostolic Devotion Owned (vs. 1-5)
The opening two little words of the fifth verse must not be neglected. The
fifth verse does not merely summarize the incidents narrated in the
preceding four verses. It connects them as effects with their just causes, or
with that which was in part, and as matter of fact, their just cause. Observe,
THE HEARTS OF OTHERS AND INCREASES THE SPREAD OF IT.
KNOWLEDGE, AND WHO HAVE BEEN SET AND CALLED OF
GOD, AS LEADERS, ESTABLISHES THE FAITH OF WHOLE
CHURCHES AND INCREASES THEIR NUMBER.
LEADERS IN SEEKING AND ENCOURAGING YOUNG RECRUITS
THROWS ENERGY INTO EXISTING FAITH AND PROVIDES
DIRECT MEANS FOR PROPAGATING IT.
Ø Paul selects Timothy, observing him to be the right sort.
Ø Paul recognizes the need of new blood and young blood, and lets the
Churches see that he does so.
Ø Paul suggests the circumcision of Timothy, as son of a Jewish mother,
that no time should be unnecessarily lost in removing objections on the
part of the Jewish elements in the Churches he was visiting.
THE “APOSTLES AND ELDERS,” AND A JUST ATTENTION TO
ECCLESIASTICAL ORDER, STEADIES THE FAITH RESIDENT IN
THE CHURCH AND PROMOTES THE GROWTH OF IT
ELSEWHERE. (v. 4.) To try to “put a yoke upon the neck” of any
Church is to “tempt God” (ch. 15:10). To give it true liberty is like
giving it air and light.
6 “Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of
were forbidden of the
Holy Ghost to preach the word in
now when they had gone, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; through the
of Phrygia and
Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; having been for and were, Authorized
Version; speak for preach, Authorized Version. .
belonging to χώραν – choran – space; region; province: and we have in ch.18:23
exactly the same collation as that of the Authorized Version here, only in an inverted
order: Τὴν Γαλατικὴν χώραν καὶ Φρυγίαν – Taen Galatikaen choran kai Phrugian
The Galatian province and
Received Text, before Γαλατικὴν, the passage must equally be construed as in the
Authorized Version. The Galatians were Celts, the descendants of those Gauls who
Derbe and Lystra
and Iconium were not comprehended by Paul under
were not the Churches to whom the Epistle to the Galatians was addressed; and
forcibly suggest that the Galatian Churches were founded by Paul in the course of
the visit here so briefly mentioned by Luke.
of that district on the western coast of Asia Minor, of
apparently wished to go to
of the Holy Ghost that the Galatian Churches should be founded first, and then the
of their own accord (compare Matthew 10:5-6).
7 “After they were come to Mysia,
they assayed to go into
suffered them not.” And when for after, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus;
come over against (κατὰ - kata) for come to, Authorized Version; and the Spirit of
Jesus for but the Spirit, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus. But the phrase,
"the Spirit of Jesus," occurs nowhere in the New Testament, and is on that account
very improbable here, though there is considerable manuscript authority for it.
8 “And they passing by Mysia
came down to
passing... came, Authorized Version. They would have gone north
where, we know from I Peter 1:1, there were many Jews. But the Spirit ordered them
westwards, to the seacoast of Troas, that they might be
ready to sail for
In like manner Abraham went out not knowing whither he went (Hebrews 11:8).
Truly the footsteps of God's providence are not known! (Until He reveals them! –
CY – 2017)
Paul and Timothy (vs. 1-8)
In the interaction of the great apostle with Timothy, and the history of the
latter, we have an interesting episode.
Ø The blessing of a pious mother. The mother’s love gives force to all her
lessons, sanctity to the earliest of life’s recollections. “Knowing of whom
thou hast learned them.” (II Timothy 3:13-15)
Ø The blessing of Christian society. He enjoyed the testimony of the
brethren in Lystra and Iconium. Not only the good influences we receive
from Christian brethren, but the certificate which their good will and
commendation affords us, is to be considered.
Ø The blessing of sound instruction. He had an apostle for his teacher.
There were things he had “heard and been assured of” from those weighty
Ø These advantages turned to account, he was the pride and consolation
of his mother, and the more so as her husband was an unbeliever. He was
an ornament to his community, as we may see from the Epistles to
Timothy, from Philippians 2:22 and I Corinthians 16:10; and a joy
and support of the apostle.
Ø How many examples have we not of devout mothers in the Old and New
Testaments! Hannah, the mother of Samuel; Mary, the mother of Jesus;
Salome, the mother of Zebedee’s children; Eunice, the mother of Timothy.
And with these may be compared Monica, the mother of Augustine.
(and don’t forget my mother! CY – 2017)
Ø A mother’s prayers are as guardian angels about the life of her child; and
the godly son possesses the happy harvest of a mother’s tears.
Ø The mother’s early influence is the best preparation for future service.
Paul laid stress upon it; and the happy connection between himself and the
disciple — so fruitful for both and for the world — rested upon the early
foundation laid by the mother.
9 “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There
stood a man of
and prayed him,
saying, Come over into
man... standing, beseeching him, and saying for there stood a man... and prayed him,
saying, Authorized Version. Thus was ushered in the most momentous event in the
history of Europe, the going forth of the Word of the Lord from
to enlighten the nations of the West, and bring them into the fold of Jesus Christ.
Paul saw and heard this in a vision in the night. It is net called a dream (Bengel),
but was like the vision seen by Ananias (ch. 9:10), and those seen by Paul
a dream (ἐνύπνιον – enupnion - ch. 2:17). It is applied to things of a marvelous
character seen objectively, as to the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:9)and to the
burning bush (ch. 7:31).
The Cry of a Perishing World after Christ (v. 9)
“And a vision,” etc.
The social failure of
liberty. The lack of real advancement. Help required in every department of
The intellectual failure of
of the poor and ignorant. Follies of heathenism. Worship of human nature
itself. (secular humanism – CY – 2017) Awful vices by the side of wonderful
development of mental faculties.
Ø The spiritual destitution of the world. Idea of God. Degradation of the
masses. Comparison between the state of the Greek world and the state of
the Jewish. Nothing like synagogues.
Ø The Macedonian a type of THE MORAL HELPLESSNESS OF MEN,
both in heathen nations and in the heathenish portion of Christendom.
“Come over and help us.”
Ø We must shut our ears to all other voices but that of the Holy Ghost; as,
e.g. reasonings about the future destiny of the heathen; attempts unduly to
exalt the uninspired books of heathen religions; exaggerations of difficulties
and discouragements; pretended special regard to home claims. “Look to
the marching orders.” “Go over and help them.”
Ø As God speaks to his most eminent servants, let the voice of the Spirit
command us through them. If they tell us an enterprise is charged upon
them, we must support them with all our might. If Livingstone says
is open, then follow his lead, even though at great cost, and let there be no
Ø The missionary enterprise is a great lesson to the Church to find its
blessedness in listening to the cries of needy souls. An extended sphere
demands a deepened faith and zeal. If we cannot go over with a true gospel
and with a self-denying spirit, let us stay at home; if we carry the power of
God with us, then we shall find, in the fullness of the Gentiles brought in,
not only the reward of a satisfied conscience, but the elevation of our own
faith and the glory of our
the place of the old and narrow religion of former days, since the Spirit was
poured out, and we sent the Word forth to the ends of the earth. We help
ourselves when we help others. Wonderful signs of the times, showing that
God is opening the minds of men to the universal claims of the gospel. All
things uniting to say, “Go into all the world and PREACH THE GOSPEL!”
10 “And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into
gospel unto them.” When for after, Authorized Version; straightway for
immediately, Authorized Version; sought for endeavored, Authorized Version;
go forth for go, Authorized Version; concluding for assuredly gathering, Authorized
Version; God for the Lord, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus. ;
συμβιβάζοντες – sumbibazontes - deducing, only here in the sense of "concluding
means to "join together." In classical Greek to "bring together" in the sense of
“reconciling," sometimes of “agreeing" to a proposition. In the Septuagint, to
“instruct," "teach" (I Corinthians 2:16). In this verse we first remark the very
important introduction of the pronoun we into the narrative, marking the presence
of the historian himself, and showing that he first joined
went with him to
Paul returned there in his third missionary journey on his way from Achaia to
We again find him with Paul at
and he accompanied him on the voyage to
1:24). It is quite characteristic of Holy Scripture that things are told, or appear on
the face of the narrative, without any explanation. Who Luke was, what brought
adviser or otherwise, we know not. His Christian modesty forbade his speaking
The Call of God and the Appeal of Man: A Missionary Sermon
Christian life, when it has any strength and vigor, is an expansive thing. It
pushes out in all directions. It asks what it can do to extend the kingdom of
God, what is the sphere in which it can best exercise its missionary zeal. It
must be guided by two things:
directed. They forebore to go to some places because the way was closed
by the Divine hand (vs. 6-7); they went to others because “they assuredly
gathered that God had called them” (v. 10). God does not vouchsafe to
us now such plain and indubitable signs of His will as He granted in
apostolic days; we have no such visions and voices as they had to guide
them. Nevertheless He does direct our steps (and in just as assuring ways –
CY – 2017). He either calls us or “suffers us not” to go where we had
designed to work, by some method, of HIS DIVINE PROCEDURE!
Ø He may enlighten our minds by enlarging our faculties; so that, though
we are not conscious of any special influence, we see clearly what is the
right and wise course to pursue.
Ø He may inspire us with such promptings that we feel assured that we are
being moved by His own hand.
Ø He may, by His providential ordering, shut us out from, or shut us up to,
the path in which He would not, or would, have us walk. It is for us to
inquire reverently WHAT IS HIS WILL, which way He does not desire
us to take, when He calls us to preach the gospel, and then promptly and
cheerfully to obey.
the night.” We need not wait for the night in order to have a vision and to
hear a voice, in which men will cry, “Come over and help us.” If we had
but the ear to hear “the still, sad music of humanity,” we should have borne
to us on every wind the pitiful plaint of the sin-stricken children of men.
We should hear:
Ø The cry of conscious spiritual distress. There are those who know the
hollowness of their old superstitions, or are vainly looking out for the
truth; from those who are groping in the darkness, we may well hear the
cry, “Who will lead us into the light of life?”
Ø The prayer of inarticulate distress. There are countless multitudes that
hunger and thirst for they know not what. They have empty, aching,
longing hearts, with boundless-capacities. These hearts are unfilled,
unsatisfied, and they are inarticulately but earnestly pleading for the bread
of life, of which if any man eat he shall never hunger more. There are also
the vast multitudes of the suffering — of the sick, of the lonely, of the
disappointed, of the bereaved. These are praying us, with silent but strong
supplication, to send the knowledge of the Divine Comforter, of him who
alone can bind up the broken heart and heal its wounds.
Ø The appeal of pitiful degradation. The advocates of slavery used to
contend — for lack of better argument — that those who were in bonds
were contented with their condition. As if this were not the very heaviest
indictment against the cause they pleaded! Surely the fact that slavery made
men and women satisfied with degradation and dishonor was the most
damaging impeachment which could be framed! And it is the fact that so
many thousands of those who were created for purity, wisdom, worship,
righteousness, ETERNAL LIFE, are satisfied with the darkness and
death of sin, it is this which constitutes the most eloquent appeal to take
them that enlightening truth which will awake them from their
SHAMEFUL APATHY, inspire them with:
o a manlier and nobler hope, and
o satisfy them with a treasure which cannot fade,
o a joy that abides FOR EVER,
o with a life which is eternal and Divine.
Unchristianized humanity stands ever before the eyes of a living Church
and pleads with a powerful if not a passionate entreaty, “Come over and
True Epoch in the History of the Gospel: Advance from Asia to
Ø The messengers naturally inclined to continue their work within
narrower limits. Much against advancing West. Unknown region. Great
demands in the more educated heathenism of
element was powerful in
upon. But all such considerations put aside when the mind of the Spirit
Ø The Spirit of Jesus clearly pointed the way Westward, whether by
miraculous indications, or by providential circumstances too plain to be
Ø The decisive commandment was given by vision to Paul. Not a mere
dream, but a prophetic vision, which, being accompanied by a supernatural
impression of its Divine origin and meaning, left no doubt on the mind.
Ø On the Gentile world — in the direct assault on heathenism in its
Ø On the character of Paul himself. He was fitted for a higher work than
preaching to the semi-barbarous tribes of
success was, it would be necessarily almost limited to the region where it
was obtained. To touch
Ø On the development of the Christian Church. It was necessary that
Christianity should reveal to the world its superiority to all merely human
systems of philosophy; that it should satisfy the intellectual as well as the
spiritual wants of man. Had Paul never
had his Epistles to the Romans and Corinthians, nor probably that to the
Ephesians; for his own views of the Church were raised to a higher level by
his contact with the larger world of thought and life.
The Leadings of the Holy Ghost (vs. 6-10)
Apart from any doctrine of the personality and work of the Holy Spirit,
there is a practical realization of His presence, and gracious working in us
and by us, which is a source of continuous strength and comfort to the
believer. It is this which we find illustrated in the passage now before us.
The apostolic conception of the Holy Ghost has not been adequately
studied apart from doctrinal theories. It is forgotten that the apostles were
Jews, and that help towards the apprehension of this Divine gift and
indwelling they must have sought in their Old Testament associations. The
Spirit of God in the prophets must have been to them the model and the
foreshadowing of their larger gift. And this must have been their chief
thought. All Christ’s people are prophets; the Spirit of God dwells in them
all, and is the Inspiration of all they say and the Guide of all they do. Their
idea of the old prophets is well expressed by Peter (I Peter 1:21),
“Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost;” and his
words precisely convey the idea which is to be entertained concerning the
apostles and first missionaries. In the passage before us the Holy Ghost as
the actual present Guide of the apostles, directing them where they may go
and where they may not go, is presented to us. Lives that are truly and fully
consecrated to the service of the Lord Jesus Christ are taken out of men’s
own control and committed to the charge of the Holy Spirit; and those who
realize such a full consecration find no practical difficulty in following the
Divine lead. Reviewing the incidents narrated in these verses, it will be seen
that Paul expected no external revelations and no miraculous guidances. In
whatever way he realized the presence and the guidance of the Holy Spirit,
it was a way in which we may realize it too; and we may set forth two of
the ways which are common features of Divine leading in all generations.
actions are decided upon more subtle motives and considerations than they
usually imagine. Perhaps it would be found that very few of them depended
upon decisions of the intellect. Some result from careful judgment; some
from self-will or passion; some from emotion; and into many men are led
by the passing influences of the hour. Men are acted upon by many
influences, which reach the mind, the heart, or the will. But the supreme
inward influence is that of the Divine Spirit. He has access to every part
of our inward being. He can:
Ø suggest thought for consideration;
Ø direct the judgment to wise decisions;
Ø move the will to fitting resolves;
Ø tone the feelings to right harmonies;
Ø and preside over the plans which are formed.
It is by missing this relation of the Holy Ghost to the very springs of action
within us, that men — Christian men — so often doubtingly ask, “But how
can we know that we are doing what God would have us do?” Openness to
God’s inward lead is surely followed by God’s response in an inward
leading; and when we are set right towards God we may feel sure that the
decisions of our judgment and the resolves of our will are divinely
controlled and ordered. Paul followed the inward feeling that he must
CIRCUMSTANCES. These will always be found to match the inward
leadings, and they help to give us assurance that we are following in the
way that we should go. Nothing is more surprising in our lives than the
opening of providential doors. If we will but:
Ø watch, and
the path will surely clear before us, and the Divine finger point us, and the
Divine voice in circumstances say, “This is the way, walk ye in it.” (Isaiah
We may, on this matter, fall into errors which may seriously depress us.
Ø We may mistake providences for accidents, and so fail to see God in
Ø We may cherish the unbelieving notion that God does not work by
Ø We may take up notions of natural law which deprive us of faith in
God’s living working.
Ø And we may fail to wait for God’s providential openings, and try to
force our own way; so grieving that Holy Spirit which dwelleth in us
11 “Therefore loosing from
Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis;” Setting sail therefore for therefore
loosing, Authorized Version; made for came with, Authorized Version.
( – euthudromaesamen – we run straight, elsewhere only in ch.
Authorized Version. In the New Testament this latter phrase only occurs in the Acts.
12 “And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief
city of that part of
and a colony:
and we were in that city abiding certain days.”
A city of
first of the district, a Roman colony for the
chief city of that part of
and a colony, Authorized Version: this for that, Authorized Version; tarrying for
abiding, Authorized Version. , etc. This is a difficult sentence.
The natural way of construing the words undoubtedly is, as in the Authorized Version,
"which is the chief city of the [or, ' that'] district of Macedonia, and a colony." The only
difficulty in the way of so taking it is that when AEmilius Paulus, as related by Livy
(45:29), divided the conquered
Amphipolis was made the capital of the district in
situated. But the epithet πρώτη – protae – foremost - does not necessarily mean the
capital; it is found on coins applied to cities which were not capitals. Besides, in the
interval of above two hundred years between Aemilius Paulus and Paul (from B. C.
167 to A.D. ), it is very probable that the city of
privileges as a colony, may have really become the capital. And so Lewin, following
Wetstein, understands it (vol. it. p. 209). We know that in the reign of Theodosius
the Younger, when
ecclesiastical head of Macedonia Prima. It had been made a colony by Augustus Caesar,
with the name "Col. Jul. Aug. Philip.," i.e. Colonia Augusta Julia Philippensis ('Dict.
of Greek and Roman Geog.'). It must, therefore, anyhow have been a place of first-rate
importance at this time. Those, however, who do not accept this explanation, couple
κολωνία – kolonia - with πόλις – polis -, "which is the first colony-city," etc, Others
take πρώτη in a
local sense, "the first city you
come to in
Howson, Alford, Bengel, etc.). The Revised Version seems to take ἥτις ἐστὶ...
Μακεδονίας πόλις – haetis esti.....Makedonias polis – which is the Macedonian city –
together, and πρώτη τῆς μερίδος - protae taes meridos – foremost of the part - as a
further description of it - a most awkward construction. Alford renders it, "which is
the first Macedonian city of the district.' But the natural way of construing a passage
is almost always the best, and nothing prevents us from believing that Luke, who
district of Macedonia," i.e. the district in which it was situated. That μέρις – meris –
part; district - is the technical name of the division of a province appears from the
title μεριδάρχης – meridarchaes - applied by Josephus to a certain Apollonius,
governor, under Antiochus Epiphanes,
of the district in which
the springs, or wells; and the word used by Livy of the districts of
etc., is an exact translation of μέρις. It received the name of
from Philip, the father of Alexander the Great, who extracted a great revenue from
its gold-mines. Its great historical celebrity arises from the battle in the plain of
death-blow from Octavius and
the privileges of a colony, see Conybeare and Howson, vol. 1:311, etc., and Lewin,
vol. 1. Acts 11.) . Alford, following certain manuscripts, reads αὐτῇ - autae –
"in the city itself," as distinguished from the place outside the city, where the
προσευχή - proseuchae – the prayer was. But, perhaps, Luke uses the word "this"
up the narrative on the spot.
The Spirit’s Course (vs. 6-12)
It may be laid down as a canon, that the facts marking periods of special
gifts and special inspiration and special “dispensations” point to principles
available for other periods in the whole history of the Church and the
world. What might otherwise seem among the driest historical or
sometimes almost geographical statements are accordingly threaded
together by an invisible bond of connection, which lends them abundant
interest. And here, from the apparently bare narration that is given us of
where Paul and Silas went, where they did not go, and where they wished
to go but were overruled, we may learn:
NOT FOLLOWING, THE TRACKS OF THE SPIRIT.
GIVE TO A REALLY FERVENT LOVE, EARNEST PURPOSE, AND
WEAKNESS OF A MERE HUMAN HEART, IN THE UNERRING
AND UNFAILING ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE SPIRIT.
SURRENDER THEIR GOINGS AND THEMSELVES TO HIS
LEADING. Devout musings, holy feelings, and right resolves will be as
much and more to them than “vision” or dream? Nor would that comfort
be least gratefully felt and acknowledged, when across the famed straits
Paul heard an unusual voice, in the accents of an all too unusual prayer. At
a moment’s glance he saw why he had been prevented from halting, nor
suffered to turn to the right hand or to the left, that he might the rather
come direct to
see the meaning of all was comfort and “joy of faith” for him.
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.” Sabbath day for sabbath, Authorized Version; we went forth
without the gate for we went out of the city, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus
(πύλης – pulaes – gate for πολέως – poleos – city ); we supposed there was a place
of prayer for prayer was wont to be made, Authorized Version; were come together
for resorted thither, Authorized Version. . By the river side is the
natural way of expressing it in English. The river is not the Strymon, which is a day's
journey distant from
Gangites, which is crossed by the
Via Eguatia, about a mile out of
neighborhood of water, either near a stream or on the seashore, was usually
preferred by the Jews as a place for prayer, as affording facility for ablutions
(see Josephus, 'Ant. Jud.,' 14:10, 23; and other passages quoted by Alford).
The phrase, οϋ ἐνομίζετο προσευχὴ εῖναι – hou enomizeto proseuchae einai –
where it was inferred that prayer to be made - should be rendered, not as in the
Revised Version, but more nearly as the Authorized Version, where a prayer-meeting
(of the Jews) was accustomed to be held; i.e. this particular spot was the usual place
where such Jews or proselytes as happened to be at
appears from Epiphanius (' Hear.,' 80, § 1, quoted by Alford) that the Jews usually
had their προσευχαί - proseuchai – prayer meeting - whether buildings, or open
spaces, ἔξω πολέως – exo poleos - outside the city. The wayside crosses are of
the nature of προσευχαί.
14 “And a certain woman named
which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended
unto the things which were spoken of Paul.” One that for which, Authorized
Version; to give heed for that she attended, Authorized Version; by for of, Authorized
Version. , etc. Whether her personal name was
she was commonly so called on account of her native country and her trade, must
remain uncertain. Thyatira was in
downwards, were famous for their purple dyes; and it appears from an inscription
found in Thyatira, that there was there a guild of dyers, called οἱ βαφεῖς – hoi
bapheis – (Lewin, 2:214). (σεβομένη τὸν Θεὸν –
sebomenae ton Theon – one revering the God); i.e. a proselyte. So in ch. 13:43,
we find οἱ σεβόμενοι προσήλυτοι – hoi sebomenoi prosaelutoi - the devout or
religious proselytes. And so αἱ σεβόμεναι γυναῖκες – hai sebomenai gunaikes –
the devout women. And so, in ch. 18:7, Justus is described as σεβόμενος τὸν
Θεὸν – sebomenos ton Theon - one who worshipped God (see too ch. 17:4, 17).
In ch.10:1 Cornelius is spoken of as εὐσεβὴς καὶ φοβούμενος τὸν Θεὸν – eusebaes
kai phoboumenos ton Theon – devout and fearing the God. It has been suggested
that possibly Euodias and Syntyche (Philippians 4:2) were of the same class, and
converted at the same time as
mention of the women in v. 13 and the prominence given to the Philippian
women in Philippians 4:2-3. It is well observed by Chrysostom, on the latter part
of this verse, "The opening of the heart was God's work, the attending was hers:
so that it was both God's doing and man's" (compare Philippians 2:12-13).
To open (διανοίγειν – dianoigein) is applied as here:
· to the heart (II Maccabees 1:4);
· to the eyes (Luke 24:31);
· to the ears (Mark 7:34, 35);
· to the understanding (Luke 24:45);
· to the Scriptures (Luke 24:32);
"Corclausum per se. Dei est id aporire "(Bengel).
The Opened Heart (v. 14)
“Whose heart the Lord opened.” Describe the joy that Paul must have
felt in this first sign of the Divine blessing attending his labors in a new
sphere. If God was with him, opening the hearts of the people, then his
labor could not be in vain. Review the circumstances under which the
apostle had been brought to
Philippi — the night vision at
politically. Show the distinction between a synagogue and a proseucha
(a place of prayer). Commend Paul’s sabbath habits; and describe the
scene at the river’s side. It is interesting to note that the first Christian convert
the sentence taken for a text, we notice:
SPIRIT. The Lord, the Spirit, is the Opener of hearts. Such opening is the
necessary beginning of the work of grace. Mother, friend, minister, have
the simple power of agency; none of them can, by any endeavors, reach to
the heart and effect the saving change. Illustrate by the way in which the
florist produces new colors and new varieties of flower. He carefully puts
the pollen grains on the top of the pistil, but he cannot get them down the
pistil to fructify the seeds below. The mysterious power of nature can alone
accomplish that. Or illustrate by the peculiar kind of stone which may be
smashed to pieces, but, if set aright to the blow, will split into useful slabs.
God alone can set men right for the influence of the preached Word. It is
our duty to bring saving truth and sinful souls together, but with the Lord
alone is the opening to receive. Show how this may become an
encouragement to all Christian workers who can see that God is working
with them, and that in some of those whom they seek to bless the work of
grace is evidently begun.
TO CHRIST. That which describes the work of grace in the heart of
is not said of any one else it was just the way in which the Spirit was
pleased to deal with her. We find that in creation God always acts on fixed
principles, but He is never trammeled by the necessity for expressing those
principles in fixed forms. Landscapes, plants, trees, countenances, minds,
all take form upon definite and invariable vegetable, or animal, or mental
laws; but no two of them are alike in their form. Infinite diversity is quite
compatible with vital unity. It is equally true in THE NEW CREATION.
God has laid down certain principles on which the return of souls to Him
must be arranged. There must be:
but the exact way in which these are to find expression is left undefined.
Show, then, how improper it must be to make any one man’s experience a
necessary model for another man; and consequently how injurious
Christian biographies may become to young seekers after God, if such
seekers take up the idea that they must think and feel and act precisely as
others have done. The workings of the Divine Spirit in man are divinely
ARE SEEN IN THE ADAPTATION OF METHODS OF CONVERSION
TO INDIVIDUALS. Some can only hear God when He speaks in the loud
tones of earthquake, storm, or fire. But it is equally true that others pay no
heed until there comes to them the “still small voice,” and therefore the
voices of God are so graciously varied to men. Illustrations of the variety
and adaptation of God’s methods may be taken from Scripture.
Shepherds from the
by direction of the holy angels (Luke 2);
Ø star-gazing Magi were guided by the sign of the heavenly light.
Ø godless and persecuting King Manasseh was humbled in the
dust, put in a prison-house, and prepared by affliction to listen to his
fathers’ God. (II Chronicles 33:11-13)
Ø The eunuch of Queen Candace was led by Divine providence,
and prepared by studious and meditative habit, to see in Jesus
Ø Paul was brought to faith by a sudden and overwhelming revelation
suited to convince a man of so impulsive a character. (ch. 9)
The jailor at
the very edge of a self-inflicted death. (here)
In each case the grace of Divine dealing may be shown in the adaptation to
character and circumstances. Apply to:
1. Those who have long known the power of God opening their hearts to
the truth. What is now needed is the full acceptance of faith.
2. Those just conscious of new feelings and desires. Whence do they
come? They must be the Spirit working in you. Whither do they tend?
Surely to the faith in Christ that saves.
3. Those who fear that they have had no inward movings of the Spirit of
God. Perhaps they are only unnoticed. Maybe that even now you are ready
to hear of Christ, the living Savior, who wants your love and trust.
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.” ; showing that
· as Philip (ch.8:38),
· as Ananias (ch. 22:16),
· as our Lord himself (Mark 16:16),
had put holy baptism in the very forefront of His teaching (compare Hebrews 6:2).
frequent mention of whole households as received into the Church seems necessarily
to imply infant baptism. The exhortations to children as members of the Church in
Greek word for "constrained" is ἐκράτησεν – ekrataesen - , not as here παρεβίασατο –
parebiasato – she urges, which only occurs elsewhere in the New Testament in
does not bear out Chrysostom's remark as to her humble station of life.
The Call (vs. 6-15)
The great difference between sacred and profane history is not so much
that the events are different, or the human motives of the actors are
different, or even that God’s providence works differently, but that the
secret springs of the will of God, directing, controlling, and overruling, are
in sacred history laid bare to view by that Holy Spirit of God who knows
the things of God. In ordinary life the servant of God believes that his steps
are ordered of God (Psalm 37:23), and that the providence of God, which
ordereth all things in heaven and earth, orders them for his good. But he is not
preceded in his own goings out and in his comings in by a pillar of cloud by
day and of fire by night, as the
journeys of the children of
like manner, when we read the history of the marvelous diffusion of the
everlasting gospel among the various nations of the earth, and mark how in
one part of the globe the successful missionary has selected some particular
country for his evangelizing labors, and has founded there Churches full of
light and love, while other countries have either been untrodden by the foot
of the evangelist, or have yielded no return to the labors of the preacher of
glad tidings, we recognize the directing will of Almighty God, albeit, no
visible sign or word indicated where the net was to be cast into the deep
waste of waters, and no voice of the Holy Ghost erected a barrier of
prohibition. If we ask for some reasons why this difference should exist —
say in the case of Paul, it will not be difficult to find several satisfactory
1. It was of great importance to establish in the Church with certainty the
conviction that the Lord Jesus Christ was still carrying on from His throne
in heaven the work for which He left the bosom of the Father, and was
incarnate, and suffered, and rose again. In the terrible odds under which a
handful of simple, unlearned men had to contend against:
a. all the powers,
b. all the intellect, and
c. all the vice, in the world,
it was of infinite moment that the voice and the wisdom and the power of their
exalted but unseen Lord should be manifested from time to time working with
them and for them, and thus assuring them of the victory. Hence:
Hence, too, the immediate orders of the Holy Ghost:
shall hurt thee in this city.” (ch. 18:10)
But these tokens of Christ’s close watch over His Church in the fulfillment of
her mission were not for Paul and Barnabas only; they were for the
servants of Christ in all ages and in every place. They needed not to be
repeated. They have established forever the truth of the Lord’s promise,
“Lo! I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20)
2. We have intimated above that the ordinary mode by which the purpose
of God is manifested, that such or such a country should not be
evangelized at such or such a time, is by the failure of the missionary’s
effort. It is a good discipline for the Lord’s servants to work here and there
without knowing where their labors will be blest, and where they will be
fruitless; and to learn by such experiences how entirely ineffectual their
best exertions are UNLESS THE LORD GIVE THE INCREASE! But in the
case of one like Paul, whose immense labors were to be crowded into a short
space of time, this ordinary process may have seemed to the Divine wisdom too
slow, and withal too wasteful. No other Paul would be forthcoming, when
his life dropped, to take up and carry on his apostolic work; and therefore
we may suppose that, to economize Paul’s labors, God dealt with him in
the extraordinary way of direct injunctions and prohibitions. He was sent at
once to sow the seed in the ground that would receive it. He was
peremptorily hindered from sowing it where it would not bear fruit. And
thus the Church derived the largest possible amount of benefit from his
3. We may note one more reason. The great harvest of souls reaped by
Paul in the very places where he was sent is another proof of the
omniscience of the Holy Ghost, and that the apostle’s several missions
were really ordered and directed by Him. When Simon Peter, at the Lord’s
bidding, after a night of fruitless toil, let down the net and enclosed such a
multitude of fishes that the net brake, and the over-laden ships were in
danger of sinking, it was manifest that he who had given the command was
indeed the Lord (Luke 5:4-7). And so, when at the call of the Holy Ghost Paul
and preached the Word there, and everywhere there sprang up flourishing
Churches, the countless disciples
Philippi, and Thessalonica, and
that he had indeed a call, and that He who called him was with him whereever
he went. It is an immense encouragement to us to be assured by the
success of so many of our missions at the present time that those who labor
in them have received their secret call from Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Journey to
The transplantation of the gospel
the seed-corn of the kingdom germinating and growing from small beginnings.
to prophets and men called and sent of God, in a vision of the night. The
appears and cries, “Cross into
aid!” From the ‘Confessions’ of St. Patrick, the evangelist of
dream is cited, in which, by a letter addressed to him, with the inscription,
voice of the Irish,” he was called as a missionary to
had spent some years of his youth, having been captured and enslaved by
pirates. Let us regard this vision as an allegory of the constant cry of the
heathen world, “sitting in darkness and the shadow of death,” to the
loving sympathy of Christian hearts. “Christians, help poor Patagonians!”
is the refrain of a plaintive mission song. It is a cry that rises from the lands
of the West to the lands of the East in this narrative; and again it becomes,
in the course of history, a cry from the East to the West. It may sound again
from now so-called Christian lands, should our candlestick be removed from
its place (Christians Beware! – CY – 2017), and the gospel light pass over
to those who prove themselves more worthy to enjoy it. May we know the
day of our visitation!
Ø There was quick apprehension of the Divine command. They gathered
(Luke glides into the narrative) that God had called them to preach. The
presence of the Divine Leader, manifesting Himself in such clear indications,
is everything in these new enterprises. “Jesus, still lead on!” He was already
before them in
great lesson. So soon as we are assured of the direction of the Divine will,
let us be prompt to obey.
Ø They enjoyed a straight course to their destination. If a man’s ways are
pleasing to the Lord, he makes his enemies to be at peace with him
(Proverbs 16:7), and the winds and waves to be calm as he proceeds.
Their confidence grew at every step of their cruise. “‘Hearty welcome!
‘ cried Europe” (
The arrival. They came to
moment in one’s life. Who can see the dome of St Peter’s in the distance
the first time without a thrill? The city is the epitome of mankind. Great
cities have great vices, but likewise contain eminent virtues and flowers of
piety. Poets, prophets, and apostles have generally found their sphere in the
busy town life.
Ø The leading of events. The sabbath day came, and the Christian
missionary band repaired to the banks of the river. How good the simple
devotional habit! We are ever in the way of getting good and doing good
when in the way to prayer. How simple and natural the true method of
fulfilling a Divine call!
“The trivial round, the common task,
Will furnish all we ought to ask.”
We do not need to create opportunities; they lie to our hand. Work is
always waiting for willing and called workers. All places are suitable for
prayer: the field (Genesis 24:63), the shore (ch. 21:5), the prison
(v. 25, and here the river.
Ø The woman’s heart conquered to Christ. Not by conversion en masse,
but by gaining the hearts of individuals, does the gospel proceed. The
one life, how great may be the
results! The noble Church at
gave the apostle so much joy, sprang from the conversion of
beautiful is the description: “Her heart the Lord opened!” The teacher’s
voice strikes vainly upon the ear, until God opens the heart. But the heart
may refuse to open and the word runs, “Behold, I stand at the door, and
knock; if any man will,” etc. (Revelation 3:20) True works of a heart
divinely and graciously opened are named. Here is:
o humility — she submits herself to the judgment of Christians more
o thankfulness to God,
o busy love and kindness,
o the setting of a good example.
She dedicates her house, with herself, to THE SERVICE OF CHRIST!
The Opened Heart; or, the Power of Divine Gentleness
Promptly obedient to the heavenly vision, Paul and Silas went “with a
straight course to Samothracia,” and by Neapolis to
eagerly awaiting a sacred opportunity, they “abode certain days.” They
availed themselves of the weekly gathering “at the river-side,” where
women, who everywhere are the most devout, were wont to meet for
prayer. The whole narrative suggests the by-truths:
1. That we should instantly carry out the will of Christ when we are
distinctly assured of it.
2. That we should choose the largest and likeliest sphere — “the chief
city” (v. 12) — for our activity.
3. That those who are least honored of man are they who find most solace
in the service of God.
4. That those who go reverently to worship are in the way to secure a
greater blessing than they seek. God reveals Himself in unexpected ways to
us, as now to
returned with a new faith in her mind, a new hope and love in her soul, a
new song in her mouth.
5. That holy gratitude to God will show itself in a generous, constraining
kindness toward man — a kindness that will not be refused (v. 15). But
the lesson of our text is the truth which we learn concerning the gentle
power of God in opening the closed heart of man: “Whose heart the Lord
opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul” (v.14).
We may regard:
to our own consciousness we find that it is the case. Often God’s Spirit so
touches and moves the human soul, that it is only just aware, at the time,
that it is being wrought upon; or He so operates that we can only tell, by
comparing past things with present, that we have changed our spiritual
position. It is found by us to be the fact that the Lord is not in the storm,
nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but rather in the “still small voice.”
(I Kings 19)
“Silently, like morning light,
Putting mists and chills to flight;”
He lays His hand upon us and touches the deepest springs of our nature.
Any faith which does not include the action of God’s gentle power in
awakening, enlightening, renewing, reviving, the souls of men is utterly
inadequate and completely fails to cover the facts of human experience.
Ø Sometimes it is by making us gradually sensible of our own
unworthiness, and therefore of our need of a Divine Savior.
Ø Sometimes by drawing our thought and love upward, higher and
higher, from the true and pure and gracious that are found in the
human, to Him who is the true and pure and gracious Friend Divine.
Ø Sometimes by constraining us to feel dissatisfied with the seen and
temporal, and to seek our joy and our treasure in the unseen and eternal.
(II Corinthians 4:18)
Ø the sacred Scriptures;
Ø the services of the sanctuary;
Ø the friendship of the holy;
Ø the opening, enlarging experiences of life;
Ø the trial which, though not startling and terrible, is yet
arresting and revealing.
have more to be thankful for when they can point to one quickening and
arousing circumstance in their life, sent of God to awaken and change
them. But there is as much of the Divine in the opening of the flower by the
light of the morning as in the upheaval of the lava by the fires beneath the
crust of the earth; and there is as much of Divine power in its gentler action
on the soul as there is in its more palpable and more terrible manifestations.
It is open to us to think that there is even greater kindness shown in the
former than in the latter. It behooves us:
Ø to recognize the reality of His gentle power;
Ø to bless Him most gratefully for His exercise of it upon ourselves;
Ø to seek that He would put it forth on those with whom we have to do
Ø to watch for its operation in them, and to cooperate with God therein.
The Opened Heart (vs. 11-15)
“And a certain woman named
Paul preached; the Lord opened the heart. The opened heart is the
prerequisite to the changed and consecrated life.
16 “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:” Were going to the place of prayer for went to prayer,
Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; that a certain maid for a certain damsel,
Authorized Version; having for possessed with, Authorized Version.
ἡ προσευχήν - hae proseuchaen - prayer - of the Received Text. The
undoubtedly means "the place of prayer," the proseuche. They went there, doubtless,
every sabbath. What follows
happened on one occasion after
(πνεῦμα Πύθωνος – pneuma Puthonos - spirit of python, Authorized
Version; Πύθωνα – Puthona, Received Text). "Πύθων - denotat quemlibet ex quo
πύθωσθαι datur," "any one of whom inquiry may be made" (Bengel). It was a name
of Apollo in his character of a giver of oracles.
was, was sometimes called Pytho (Schleusner, s.v.), and Pythius was a common
epithet of Apollo. The name Python (Plut.,' De Defect. Orac.,' cap. 9) came thence
to be applied to a ventriloquist (Hebrew אוב), or to the spirit that was conceived to
dwell in ventriloquists and to speak by them, just as in Hebrew the ventriloquist
was sometimes called בְעַל אוב (or בַעֻלַת if a woman), the owner of a spirit of
divination, or simply אוב, a diviner (see I Samuel 28:7 (twice) for the first use,
passages, as II Kings 21:6 and Isaiah 29:4, it is doubtful whether אוב means the
the damsel in the text, practiced the art of ventriloquistic necromancy, whether really
possessed by a spirit or feigning to be so. The word πύθων is only found here in the
New Testament. The Septuagint usually render אובות by ἐγγαστρίμυθος –
eggastrimuthos – one that hath a familiar spirit. (ἐργασία - ergasia), literally,
work, craft, or trade; then, by metonymy, the gain proceeding from such trade
(ch.19:24-25). (μαντευομένη – manteuomenae - divining).
So one name of these ventriloquists was ἐγγαστρίμαντις – eggastrimantis –
one with a familiar spirit.
17 “The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants
of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. Following after...
cried out for followed... and cried, Authorized Version; servants for the servants,
Authorized Version; proclaim unto you for show unto us, Authorized Version
and Textus Receptus. This testimony of the spirit of divination to the doctrine of
Paul is analogous to that of the unclean spirits who cried out to Jesus, "Thou art
the spirit of divination was similar to that of our Lord's with the evil spirits in the
cases referred to. What was the motive of the damsel, or the spirit by which she
was possessed, for so crying out, or Paul's for so silencing her, we are not told.
Perhaps she interrupted him, and diverted the minds of those to whom he was
preaching. And he did not like the mixture of lies with truth. The motive of
secrecy which was one cause of our Lord's rebuke to the spirits would not
apply in the case of Paul.
The Witness of Evil Spirits to Christ (v. 17)
This poor slave-girl was subject to some kind of convulsive or epileptic
fits. Brain-disease, and the various forms of hysteria, were very imperfectly
understood in the olden times. “Nothing was less understood in antiquity
than these obscure phases of mental excitation, and the strange flashes of
sense, and even sometimes of genius, out of the gloom of a perturbed
intellect, were regarded as inspired and prophetic utterances.” General
opinion associated such forms of disease with possession of some spirit,
good or bad; and it is curious to note that the great physician Hippocrates
attributed epileptic diseases to possession by Apollo, Cybele, Poseidon,
etc. “At this period, and long before, people of this class — usually women
— were regarded as prophetesses, inspired by the Pythian Apollo.” “As a
fortune-teller and diviner, this poor girl was held in high esteem by the
credulous vulgar of the town.” “The fact that Luke, who in his Gospel
describes like phenomena as coming from doemonia, evil spirits, unclean
spirits, should here use this exceptional description, seems to imply that
either this was the way in which
the people of
or else that he recognized in her phenomena identical with those of the
an evil inspiration. After the manner of sibyls, sorceresses, and clairvoyants
of other times, the girl was looked on as having power to divine and
predict, and her wild cries were caught up and received as oracles.”
Remembering the well-established doctrine that the Bible is not given as a
revelation of science, medical or other, we are able to recognize in this
narrative simply the general opinion of the age concerning spirit possessions,
and we need not affirm that either our Lord, or the apostles, in
dealing with such cases, seal for us the truth of this explanation of them. In
view of the common sentiment, it was not well that such persons should be
allowed to witness to the Christian teachers. Their witness may have been
true enough, but it was certainly liable to be misunderstood. no wholly
satisfactory explanation has yet been given of the devil-possessions
recorded in the New Testament, but this much we may fully admit — there
was a remarkable accession of spiritual-evil force in the early Christian age.
(And at the end of the age – “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in
the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing
spirits, and doctrines of devils;” - I Timothy 4:1 – No doubt, drug abuse
and use in our age are a part of this – CY – 2017)
apostles followed the example of their Lord. One striking instance may be
referred to (Matthew 8:28-34). Our Lord:
Ø delivered the victims from the evil power; making this an illustration of
His moral and spiritual mission; and
Ø resisted the association of His work with the witness of disease, mania,
hysteria, or evil possession. It was necessary that every association
of the conjurer should be dissociated from Christianity. Its appeal is to
the sober reasoning of the mind and the normal and natural demands of
the heart. The gospel is for men in their senses; and it properly refused
then, and refuses still, all testimony from ecstasy, spiritualism, jugglery,
oracle, or any unnatural forms of excitation. A truth may be sadly
disgraced and misrepresented and prejudiced by its champions, though
it does not therefore cease to be the truth. The witness of evil spirits too
certainly bears for men an evil tone, so Christ refused to permit it.
Something may be due to Paul’s personal annoyance at the constant
repetition of these clamorous cries, which hindered his work, and very
possibly disturbed him when talking in the proseucha (prayer meeting).
He may also have felt great pity for the poor suffering girl; but no doubt his
chief reason for putting forth the miraculous power entrusted to him was the
misapprehension of his character and his work which her witness was likely
to produce. Men might be led by her to think that he was possessed by
some of the gods, or was a messenger of some of the idols, and so his
work would be hindered, as it had been at Lystra. We must remember that
the apostles’ message was directly antagonistic to paganism and idolatry,
and they were right in jealously guarding it from so perilous an association
with it. Impress, in conclusion, that Christianity makes its appeal to the
intelligence, conscience, and affections; and, then and now, it needs, and it
will bear with, no chance or questionable aids.
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.” She did for did she, Authorized Version;
for many for many, Authorized Version; sore troubled for grieved, Authorized
Version; charge for command, Authorized Version; it for he, Authorized Version;
that very for the same, Authorized Version. (παραγγέλλω – paraggello –
instances of exorcism by Paul are these recorded in ch.19:12 and 15. The question
of possession by spirits is too large a one to be discussed here. It must suffice to
notice that Paul in his action (as our Lord before him had done), and Luke in his
narrative, distinctly treat possession, and expulsion by the power of Christ, as real.
The Witness of Evil to the Good (vs. 16-18)
imposture, and bringing gain to her masters out of traffic in fancies and
lies. Magic and soothsaying trades upon the imagination and wishes of the
popular mind. Instead of leading the mind to the truth, it leads the mind to
the habit of postponing truth to device and interest. This the very opposite
temper to that of true Christianity.
extorted from her by overpowering conviction. So does the truth not
seldom come from strange lips. The girl felt the contrast in these men to
herself. Here were servants of God; she was the servant of lucre and self-
interest. They with truth upon their lips, and their lives in their hands; she
with cunning lies and deceits, framed to defraud men of their substance and
injurious to their souls. They lead on the way to salvation and blessedness;
she, to disappointment and ruin.
can be no fellowship, and therefore no pact nor even momentary
compromise, between light and darkness. Truth needs no such help, and
never have such devices been known to forward its course. Compliments
are to be distrusted by the worker for God. The tinder of vanity is ever
ready to be inflamed. The temptation is to put down to our own merit that
which is the work of Divine grace. Jealousy against evil is disarmed,
watchfulness relaxed. Good men may thus be seduced from the service of
God into that of men, or worse. Before firmness and loyalty to conscience
the evil and seducing spirits flee.
On the borders of
soothsaying, the resort of men in their blindness — these a testimony at once to
their moral helplessness and their recognition of a higher power.
WAIT. “After many days” the spirit was cast out.
19 “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,”
But for and, Authorized Version; gain for gains, Authorized Version (ἐργασίας -
ergasias – income - as ver. 16); laid hold on for caught, Authorized Version;
dragged for drew, Authorized Version; before for unto, Authorized Version.
οἱ ἄρχοντες – hoi archontes – the chiefs; the magistrates); the archons.(
Meyer thinks these were the city judges, or magistrates (who always had their court
in the ἀγορά - agora - agora; forum), by whom Paul and Silas were sent to the
praetors (στρατηγοί - strataegoi - magistrates) for judgment. So in Luke 12:58, the
litigants go to the ἀρχών – archon – ruler; chief; prince, first, and he sends them on
to the κριτής – kritaes - , or judge, who orders them for punishment. This seems a
more probable explanation than that commonly adopted (Howson, Alford, Renan,
Lewin, etc.), that the ἄρχοντες and the στρατηγοί mean the same officers. No reason
can be conceived for Luke's calling them ἄρχοντες if he meant στρατηγοί, or for
naming the office's twice over when once was sufficient. Nor is it likely that officers
of such high rank as the duumviri, or proctors, as they had come to be called, should
be always in the forum, to try every petty case (see articles "Colonia, Duumviri," and
"Praetor," in 'Dict. of Greek and Roman Antiquities'). It seems, therefore, that Meyer's
explanation is right. At
magistrates, as well as to the nine archons ('Dict. of Greek and Roman Antiquities'
20 “And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do
exceedingly trouble our city,” When they had brought for brought, Authorized
Version; unto for to, Authorized Version; they said for saying, Authorized Version.
i.e. the praetors.
by Roman magistrates called
duumviri, corresponding to the two consuls at
But we learn from
beginning to be called praetors, a
little previously used only at
Agrar.,' 34), and to be preceded by lictors (ῤάβδουχαοι – rabdouchaoi – constables;
sergeants - of v. 35). Two inscriptions have been found in which the duumviri of
21 “And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe,
being Romans.” Set forth for teach, Authorized Version; it is for are, Authorized
Version; or for neither, Authorized Version. ; in a special sense, as
members of a colony.
22 “And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates
rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.” Rent their garments off
them for rent off their clothes, Authorized Version; beat them with rods for beat
them, Authorized Version. ; ῤαβδίζειν – rabdizein – to be flogging with
rods - marking that they were beaten by the lictors, or ῤαβδοῦχοι (see ver. 35).
The phrase rent ... off (περιῥῤήξαντες – perirraexantes – tearing off) is only found
here in the New Testament, but it is frequently used of stripping off garments, in
classical Greek and in II Maccabees 4:38; and by Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 6. 14:6)
of David rending his garments - a circumstance not mentioned in the Bible narrative
23 “And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison,
charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust
them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.
Cast for thrust, Authorized Version.
τὸ ξύλον – to xulon - stocks, sometimes called ξυλοπέδη –; Greek
xulopedae . The ξύλον was of different forms, and used as a punishment.
Sometimes it was a kind of heavy wooden collar put on the neck of a prisoner,
whence the phrase, Χύλῳ φιμοῦν τὴν αὐχένα Xulo phimoun taen auchena –
(Aristoph., 'Nubes,' 592), "To make fast his neck in the pillory." Sometimes it
was what Aristophanes calls πεντεσύριγγον ξύλον – pentesuriggon xulon –
"stocks with five holes," two for the feet, two for the hands, and one for the
neck. Here, as in Job 13:27 (where the Septuagint word is ἐν κυλύματι – en kulumati –
in the stocks - Hebrew סֵד, a stake, or log), it is simply "the stocks." Thus Paul and
Silas, first stripped and beaten, then put in the inner prison, and further made fast
in the stocks, were treated with the utmost possible rigor and severity. See Paul's
vivid reminiscence of the outrage (I Thessalonians 2:2, ὑβρισθέντες – hubristhentes –
shamefully treated; being outraged).
25 “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the
prisoners heard them.” But about for and at, Authorized Version; were praying and
singing hymns for prayed and sang praises, Authorized Version; were listening to
(imperfect) for heard, Authorized Version. , etc. Their proseuche (prayer
meeting place) was now the dungeon and the stocks. But, though they were but two,
the Lord was in the midst of them, according to His promise, and manifested His
gracious presence in the striking deliverance which follows.;
ἐπακροάομαι – epakaroaomai – listened to, found only here in the New Testament.
But the substantive, ἐπακρόασις – epakroasis - hearkening; to hearken,
Authorized Version), occurs in the Septuagint of I Samuel 15:22. What a scene!
The dark inner dungeon; the prisoners fast in the stocks, their backs still bleeding
and smarting from the stripes; the companionship of criminals and outcasts of
society; the midnight hour; and not groans, or curses, or complaints, but joyous
trustful songs of praise ringing through the vault! while their companions in the jail
listened with astonishment to the heavenly sound in that place of shame and sorrow.
Five Truths from
LIPS. (v. 17.)
Ø Sometimes in mockery, as with this poor Philippian slave. She probably
caught up the words she heard Paul use, and in the spirit of ribaldry uttered
them again. So men have sometimes preached or sung in the spirit of mere
raillery and indecent mirth.
Ø Sometimes in insincerity; when those who have no care to secure a
livelihood by honorable means resort to religion as a source of income. It is
melancholy to think of the thousands who have adopted the preacher’s
function as a worldly calling, on whose lips the sacred truths of the gospel
would be as ill placed as on those of this damsel of
Ø Sometimes in inconsiderate enthusiasm; when they who are animated by
a desire to do good, but allow themselves to act without due thought, use
the most sacred terms with a freedom which is very near to flippancy. In all
cases the irreverent use of Divine names and heavenly truths is to be
strongly and sternly deprecated.
WHICH TO HIDE ITS UGLINESS. (vs. 18-21.) The masters of this
poor woman, when they found that “the hope of their gains was gone,”
determined to rid themselves of men who were actually sacrificing their
temporal interests to the cause of truth and of humanity! So they incited
the mob, and brought Paul and Silas before the magistrates, and played the
part of indignant citizens, whose religious equanimity was being
shamelessly disturbed (vs. 20-21). They would not have ventured to
show themselves as they were, in the nakedness and ugliness of utter
selfishness; so they borrowed the flag of patriotism to cover themselves
withal. The worst of this kind of sophistry is that men in no great time
deceive themselves, even if they do not deceive their neighbors. Sin soon
imposes on itself; it thinks itself benevolent and humane when it is
mercenary and cruel.
BY FORCE. The magistracy of
sustained by the violence of the mob (v. 22), caused truth, in the person
of its advocates, to be beaten and imprisoned. It doubtless imagined that
there would be an end of this new and “pestilent” doctrine. But as the
names of these prisoners were to be honored long ages after those of their
judges had been forgotten, so the truths which they proclaimed were to be
preached and sung many centuries after those bonds were broken and those
dungeon walls had crumbled. How vain the magistrates’ court, the
scourge, the jail, the scaffold, when it is the living truth of the Divine
Redeemer of mankind which men are trying to stifle or to slay
EVERYWHERE. Songs in the sanctuary are as natural as they are
common; that is to say, when we are worshipping that God who is our
God, even the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Their devotees
could not praise the “gods of the nations,” because THERE WAS
NOTHING in their character to call forth reverence, trust, gratitude. But the
followers of Jesus Christ find in Him everything for which to pay homage
and to present thanksgiving; But it is not only in the act of Divine worship,
but AT ALL TIMES that “His praise is in our mouth.” Even in prison —
a prison as
had endured — Paul and Silas “sang praises unto God.” They rejoiced that
they were “counted worthy to suffer shame for His Name” (ch. 5:41; see
Matthew 5:10-12). And if the faithful servants of Christ could “lift up
to God the voice of praise” in the dungeon, those who are engaged in His
service now should carry about with them everywhere the spirit of sacred
song. We should, we can, cherish the spirit of gratitude and holy joy:
Ø in the home,
Ø in the place of business,
Ø in the social circle, and
Ø in every sphere of our activity.
For as there is no engagement in which we should not be honoring
Christ, in which we should not be realizing His presence and enjoying a
sense of His Divine favor, so is there none in which we may not find a
source of satisfaction, in which we may not find a reason for holy song.
BENEFIT OF ALL. “And the prisoners heard them” (v. 25). Not that
Paul and Silas sang for their benefit, but that abounding happiness in
suffering for Christ overflowed and made itself felt by all around. How
these men, whose mouths, if opened at all, doubtless poured forth oaths
and curses, must have been struck with surprise, and perhaps smitten with
shame, to hear these two prisoners singing psalms of praise! If our
Christian life be not the poor, ill-fed, shallow streamlet it may be, but the
well-fed, strong, swift, ever-flowing river IT SHOULD BE, then shall
we live to bless others even when we are only acting to express our own
Christian Triumph Over Circumstances (v. 25)
It is hardly possible to exaggerate in describing the sufferings of Paul
and his companion on this occasion. The frailty of Paul’s frame and the
sensitiveness of his nervous constitution must be taken into account.
Moreover, he appears to have hardly recovered from a very serious illness.
Canon Farrar says, “It was the first of three such scourgings with the rods
of Roman lictors which Paul endured, and it is needless to dwell even for a
moment on its dangerous and lacerating anguish. We, in these modern
days, cannot read without a shudder even of the flogging of some brutal
garotter, and our blood would run cold with unspeakable horror if one
such incident, or anything which remotely resembled it, had occurred in the
life of a Henry Martyn or a Coleridge Patteson. But such horrors occurred
eight times at least in the story of one whose frame was more frail with
years of suffering than that of our English missionaries.” With their wounds
untended, Paul and Silas were roughly thrust into the inner prison, a
foul and loathsome dungeon, there to sit for hours with cramped limbs,
shivering in the dampness and cold. Everything in their circumstances was
against them, and yet “with heroic cheerfulness they solaced the long black
hours of midnight with prayer and hymns.” They would doubtless sing
well-known psalms, and selections may readily be made of such as would
precisely suit their purpose. It is a remarkable incident. It is a triumph of
character; a triumph of grace; a sublime declaration of what Christ’s
realized presence can be to the suffering believer. He can give “songs in the
night.” Making the incidents the subject of meditation, we observe:
never can suffer without the sympathetic suffering of the other. If the soul
be depressed or distressed, the nervous condition of the body is sure to
respond. Vigorous bodily health can never be known when the mind is
diseased or the soul worn-out and troubled. And, on the other hand,
depression of soul comes oftentimes out of pain of body; and as long as the
pain is limited the depression continues. It is singular to note that a
prolonged little frailty is more trying to the spirit than a sudden and intense
distress or pain. The soul seems to make a great effort to meet a great
occasion, but fails to resist a continuous wearying influence. Illustration
may be taken from various classes of physical and mental sufferers. It may
be shown how often spiritual doubt and distress are found to be due to the
sympathy between the body and the soul. And, in view of this, the infinite
tenderness of God’s dealings with us may be urged. Most gracious God,
“He knoweth our frame, He remembereth that we are dust!” (Psalm
outward man perishes, the inward man is renewed day by day.”
(II Corinthians 4:16) The records of the afflicted will bear out the statement
that, under two circumstances or conditions, the soul may force itself free of
the body and rise above bodily reach in the power of its own life.
1. When pain is extreme. Illustrate from martyrology, or from records of
great sufferers. There seems to be a possibility of pain reaching such an
extreme as to swing the body loose from the soul, and leave the soul free
to sing. This we may, perhaps, see in the case of Paul; the very intensity
of his suffering in part explains his triumph.
2. When the soul-life is strong. Swelling into power under sudden impulse,
as in the martyrs; nourished into a holy fullness of vigor, as in the afflicted
and diseased, and as in Paul.
MASTERY OF THE SOUL OVER THE BODY. Such promises in the
Old Testament as, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with
thee, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou
walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned: neither shall the
flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of
“Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew
28:20) What a holy witness is made for God by all Christian sufferers
who can win calmness, submission, and peace, and even sing their
“songs in the night!”
26 “And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the
prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's
bands were loosed.” Prison-house for prison, Authorized Version, as ch. 5:21, 23.
. This would be the natural effect of the earthquake.
(δεσμά - desma - bonds). Luke always follows the Attic usage of δεσμόν, in the neuter
(compare ch. 20:23; Luke 8:29). Paul follows the Hellenistic usage of δεσμός, in the
instances (genitive and dative) it is, of course, impossible to determine whether
the word is masculine or neuter.
27 “And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison
doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing
that the prisoners had been fled.” The jailor being roused for the keeper of the
prison awaking, Authorized Version; sleep for his sleep, Authorized Version;
drew for he drew out, Authorized Version; was about to kill for would have killed,
Authorized Version; escaped for been fled, Authorized Version. This readiness to
kill himself rather than incur the disgrace of failure in his charge is characteristic
of the Roman soldier (compare ch. 27:43).
28 “But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all
here. 29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell
down before Paul and Silas,” And he called for lights for then he called for a light,
Authorized Version. (φῶτα – phota – lights; a light - is the accusative plural, though
not a very common form; φῶς – phos - is often used in the sense of "a lamp," or, as
we say, "a light"); trembling for fear for came trembling and, Authorized Version.
30 “And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,
and thy house.” Jesus for Jesus Christ, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus;
thou and thy house for and thy house, Authorized Version. Doubtless “the way of
salvation” (v. 17), of which the city had heard, was something definitely before
his mind as something to be found. Why is not such earnestness universal?
The Jailor’s Question (v. 30)
It puts into a single sentence the great cry of the human soul, “What must I
do to be saved?” And yet see how difficult it is to get the soul to realize this
its greatest need, and to utter this its greatest cry.
TO BE SAVED. That is the gravest hindrance to the preaching of Christ to
you. You attach very little meaning to the expression. You say, “Saved!
Saved from what?” You need to be saved from two things:
Ø the penal consequences of your sin; and
Ø the moral power of your sinfulness.
That is, you need to be saved from all that is gathered up in the word HELL
and from all that is gathered up in the word SELF! You are not your own;
you are a creature of God’s. Your first duty is to love, trust, and obey
God. To help you God has made His will known with sanctions. Do you
think He will fail to keep His sanctions? His “Law is holy, His commandment
is holy, and just, and good” (Romans 7:12), and The soul that sinneth, it
shall die. (Ezekiel 18:20) Moreover, you are as one stricken with a foul
disease, the leprosy of sinfulness, You need to be saved from a foulness
that pollutes you, from delusions which vainly seek to shatter you, and
from bondages which you are powerless to break. How can a man be just
before God, a sinful man be clean in the presence of his Maker? VERILY
YOU NEED TO BE SAVED!
ANYWHERE FOR REFUGE RATHER THAN TO CHRIST. Many are
will seek for some little city near to which they may flee (Genesis 19:19-20);
but there are no zones now for seeking sinners, they must flee to the mountain.
Some of the subtle refuges in which awakened souls try to find shelter and rest
Ø waiting for deeper conviction;
Ø an intenser effort to make themselves good;
Ø devotion to the externalities of religion; or
Ø expecting to get more feeling, etc.
LED TO CHRIST, MANY OF US CAN SCARCELY BE SATISFIED
WITH “ONLY BELIEVE.” The very simplicity of the gospel terms of
salvation we turn into a hindrance. Yet this is the gospel — God, of His
free mercy, is willing to pardon, deliver, and receive all who seek Him,
solely on the ground of what His Son has done for them, and is in relation
to them. And God is pleased to make their justification depend on their
believing in His Son. “God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his
Son. He that hath the Son hath life,” (I John 5:11-12) “By this Man is
preached unto us the forgiveness of sins.” (ch. 13:38) Does any man
now ask, “What must I do to be saved?” The old answer is ever new,
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”
The Faith that Saves (v. 31)
Both the prisoners and the jailor heard the songs and prayers of the apostles; and
the jailor had in all probability heard of the testimony of the Pythoness (v. 17),
so he was in a measure prepared for sudden conviction. There are
historical hints of a serious earthquake occurring in this district at this time,
and the effects described, — loosening doors from their jambs and staples
from the walls, — are quite such as might be caused by earthquake. The
anxiety of the jailor was aroused by the certainty that his own life would be
forfeited if any of his prisoners had escaped. No allowance would be made
for the extraordinary cause of such escape. Suicide was the Roman’s way
of escaping from what he esteemed to be disgrace. Paul’s words, “We
are all here,” exactly met the occasion, and removed the man’s fears. Then
came a tumult of emotions. The man seemed to feel that God was there,
and these men were His servants. In a sudden impulse he called for a light,
and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,
and brought them out, and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
Paul sets before him Jesus, and says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,
and thou shalt be saved.” What is this faith that saves? We observe that our
Lord always asked for it, or expected to find it, or reproached men for the
lack of it.
faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” (Matthew 15:28)
said, “When Jesus saw their faith.” (Mark 2:5)
many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” (Matthew 13:58)
And the apostles also required faith.
Faith is seldom won by mere descriptions of what faith is. Such descriptions
too often only hinder and bewilder. Faith is most surely won by setting forth
the great Object of faith, Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, and able to save
unto the uttermost them that come to God through Him. From the text
we note two points.
I. THE FAITH THAT SAVES IS FAITH IN A PERSON. Illustrate from
the appeal at Pentecost. “That same Jesus... both Lord and Christ”
(ch. 2:36). The application of the sermon connected with the healing
of the lame man is, “God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless
you.” ch. 3:26). Philip drew near to the eunuch, and “preached unto
him Jesus.” Peter said to the sick AEneas, “Jesus Christ maketh thee
whole.” To Paul of Tarsus the Person Jesus appeared and spoke. At
Athens Paul declared that God would judge the world by one Man whom
he had appointed. (ch. 17:31) The object of saving faith is:
conceived as distinct from a living person with a present power. A
salvation that was a mental apprehension of a form of truth could not suit
everybody. Trust in a person is possible to everybody. So Christ’s own
way of salvation is this: “He that hath the Son of God hath life.” And the
apostles’ way is: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be
saved.” But it may be urged that we must know something about Jesus if
we are to trust Him. It may be answered that the essentials of a saving
knowledge are very few and very simple. They are these:
It is CHRIST HIMSELF lifted up who draws all men unto him.
II. THE FAITH THAT SAVES IS FAITH WITH THE HEART. Minds
believe doctrines, hearts trust persons. It is necessary to distinguish
carefully between faith in a thing and faith in a person. We believe things
on reasons which can be submitted to the intellect. We believe persons
because we feel their goodness, their character. Illustrate by the trust of a
child in a father; of a patient in his physician; of a wife in her husband. It is
that kind of faith or trust which the Lord Jesus seeks to win as the
condition in us to which He may respond with His saving grace. If we
“know Him” well, we shall find in Him just the goodness which will make
our faith in Him easy. Do you say, “Is the Lord Jesus really one whom I
may fully trust”?
with her tears. (Luke 7:38)
homes of silent prayer.” (Luke 10:39)
over the multitude, and calling them to come to Him, and drink,
and live forever. (John 7:37-38)
Surely we can trust Him. Our hearts respond to such goodness. He is worthy
of our love. Jesus is really God manifest, God revealing Himself to your soul.
He would win your love. What will your response to Him be?
32 “And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in
his house.” They spake the Word, etc., unto him for they spake unto him the Word,
etc., Authorized Version; with for and to, Authorized Version. Observe that Paul
and Silas preached the Word of God's saving health to the penitent and contrite
jailor before they thought of having their own smarting wounds washed and
dressed. Observe, too, that they spake the Word of life to illuminate his soul
before they administered the sacrament of baptism.
33 “And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes;
and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.” Immediately for straightway,
Authorized Version.. Mark the jailor's faith working by love.
. The phrase seems purposely adapted to include family, slaves, and
all under his roof. If the conversion of the jailor and his house was sudden, the
circumstances which led to it were of unusual power:
· the earthquake,
· the loosing of the prisoners' bands,
· the midnight hour,
· the words of grace and love and life from the apostle's mouth.
34 “And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them,
and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. He brought them up... and set
for when he had brought them... he set, Authorized Version; rejoiced greatly for
rejoiced, Authorized Version ( – hagalliasato – exults; rejoice greatly;
with all his house, having believed in God for believing in God with all his house,
Authorized Version. The word πανοικί - panoiki - rendered "with all his house,"
occurs only here in the New Testament. But it is used by the Septuagint in
Exodus 1:1 and elsewhere, and by Josephus, etc. The more classical form is
πανοικεσίᾳ or πανοικησίᾳ. The Authorized Version gives the meaning better
than the Revised Version. The faith and the joy were both common to the jailor
and his house.
Household Salvation (v. 34)
“And when he had brought them into his house.” The family is greatly honored
in the Bible. Patriarchal religion was the religion of families. The household was
the unit of the Jewish nation and IS OF ANY NATION! (Thus the low estate
of the family and religion today in
December 17, 2017 lesson – CY – 2017) All true redemption of society is much
easier through individual conversion, by way of natural relationship. “Who hath
heard such a thing? Who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made
to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as
THE HOPE OF THE WORLD IS:
Joy in Tribulation (vs. 19-34)
“All that will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution.” (II Timothy
3:12), “We must through much tribulation enter the kingdom.” (ch. 14:22)
The truth of these Pauline sayings had often been tested by experiences, of which
where he learned to say, “Thanks be to God, who always maketh us to triumph!
(II Corinthians 2:14)
especially in our day — are men’s interests and profits on the same side
with Christianity; we need to be reminded that godliness and gain (in the
immediate and lower sense) are not identical.
Ø The root of opposition to the truth. They saw their hope of gain was
gone. Wherever men strike a blow against pure morality, sound and
unrefuted principles of teaching, we may rely upon it some “vested
interest” is at bottom the cause. The progress of the gospel has put an end
to many false callings, and, let us hope, will put an end to many more.
Ø The weapons of falsehood. False accusations, misrepresentations. Malice
knows that the most effective mode of attack is the indirect. If you cannot
disprove a man’s arguments, you may blacken his character. If his private
life is blameless, try to show that his principles are dangerous to society. If
he speaks unwelcome truth, accuse him of breaking up the general peace
and good feeling (I Kings 18:17; Amos 7:10). The wolf in the
fable! Crafty use of catch-cries is another instrument of passion and malice.
The great Roman name and power is assailed, and that by hated and
despicable Jews! This the first time that Roman law is invoked against the
Christian. Observe the half-truth in the arguments of malice. Christianity
does make men restless — it frightens the evil out of false repose. It does
unhinge old customs, and was destined to overthrow the Roman pride.
Thus was the multitude excited, as often under such circumstances, and,
amidst howls of rage and gusts of indignation, the apostles are roughly
handled, their garments torn; they are beaten and cast into close
confinement.. So do malice and passion often appear to gain their will,
while they are preparing for themselves a defeat.
praying and singing hymns. What seems to be the gate of death and of hell
may be converted by prayer and song into the gate of heaven, the avenue
sanctifies the place. Great the triumph of the spirit, to sing, not within the
safe walls of the church, but behind the barred doors of the dungeon!
Sweet are “songs in the night”! It is suffering which wrings the very soul of
music from the heart; and to the prayers thus uttered, a deep Amen echoes
Ø The earthquake. This was the outward answer to the prayer and song.
Heaven and earth are moved at the prayer of the holy. As it trembled
awfully through the prison, opening doors and loosening bonds, hearts
also were smitten and flew open at the touch of God.
Ø The agitation of the soul. The jailor wakes, at first to anguish and
despair. The prisoners have escaped; he is a lost man! There is a sudden
temptation to suicide, and at the eleventh hour crime is averted and
salvation received. “Do thyself no harm: for we are all here!” Those who
love allegorical treatment of texts may find matter here. Duty and the will
of God are firmer bonds than handcuffs and the stocks. “We are all here”
cry the servants of God, with the witness of our word, the pattern of our
life, the intercessory prayer of our love. But a new fear, more awful than
the former, seizes on the jailor’s soul: “What must I do to be saved?”
When it comes to this question in earnest, the soul is ripe for salvation.
One such cry brings all the mercy of Heaven down.
Ø The great question. It is not unprepared for. He had heard the apostles
praying. Doubtless seeds of truth, dropped into his mind on some former
occasion, now germinated and swiftly broke into life. As the earth breaks
forth into greenness after a thunderstorm, so was new life born in the
man’s soul in the midst of the dread earthquake.
Ø The great answer. Believe! “‘Faith’ is all your wisdom,” said the
skeptical emperor Julian. True! and let us abide by it. Affiance in the
Holiest and Divinest, for time and for eternity; this and this alone is
wisdom. Faith in the ever-blessed One makes blessed. In Him we obtain a
Divine Friend in the home; a holy domestic order; sweet domestic peace;
assured domestic stability; a portion in the heavenly home.
Ø The great decision. It is rather implied than expressed; shown by
practical results than by words. Faith works in the jailor’s heart by love.
His thankfulness to Christ is shown by attentions of thoughtful kindness to
His servants. The stern keeper of the stocks is transformed by the magic of
love into the physician and the host. The jailor has become a “prisoner of
Jesus Christ.” Having washed his now honored guests from the stains of
outward defilement, he receives at their hands the baptism of spiritual
purity. The scene closes amidst purest joy. Thus do the darkest places and
most repulsive associations become glorified and idealized by the Spirit of
the living and loving God. The prison becomes a chapel; a dread place of
judgment; a school of penitence and faith; a home of love and kindness; a
place of new birth and new life.
God in the Earthquake (vs. 26-34)
God does not always manifest Himself “in the still small voice” (1 Kings
19:12-13); there are times when He makes Himself known in other forms. We
learn from our text:
(v. 26.) “By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God
of our salvation” (Psalm 65:5), as well as by gracious things in mercy
and in love, does He answer us. He is in the earthquake and
in the fire and in the great and strong wind, sometimes. He was, here. The
earthquake was the moving of His hand, the utterance of His voice, the
expression of His mind. It was his condemnation of human injustice and
cruelty; it was His declaration on behalf of human innocence and worth. As
in nature we have the solemn as well as the pleasant, the fearful as well as
the delightful, the storm as well as the sunshine, so in God’s providential
dealings with us, and also in His revelation of Himself in Jesus Christ, we
Ø the awful and the stern as well as
Ø the benignant and the merciful,
Ø the rebuke as well as the invitation,
Ø punishment as well as reward,
Ø death as well as life.
SLUMBERING SOUL. “The keeper of the prison awaking out of his
sleep” (v. 27). It was the sleep of sin from which this earthquake called
him, rather than from bodily slumber. God aroused his spirit thus; and from
a guilty, deadly unconsciousness of all that is most precious in the human
heart, he awoke to “newness of life.” (Romans 6:4) “God doeth it that men
should fear before Him” (Ecclesiastes 3:14). God sends the earthquake; He
shakes the very ground under men’s feet (and how insignificant one feels
when the earth under him is unstable – CY – 2017) “.....whose voice then
shook the earth: but now He hath promised, saying, Yet once more I
shake not the earth only, but also the heaven. And.....Yet once more,
signifying the removing of those things that are shaken, as of thing
that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.”
(Hebrews 12:26-27); He makes their life-prospects to rock and
quiver; He threatens with loss, or He permits terrible bereavements, to
compel men to think of those things which otherwise they would continue
to disregard, to make men see the solemn realities which are about them,
TO PLACE JUDGMENT AND ETERNITY IN FULL VIEW BEFORE
QUESTION AND RECEIVES THE OLD REPLY. Let men say what they
will about “refined selfishness,” it will always remain true that a man’s first
duty to God is the duty he owes to himself; that the first thing a man
awakened by God has to do is to consider how he can come into a right
and happy relation to the God with whom he has to do; in other words, to
ask Him how he can “be saved,” how his sin can be forever and himself be
taken back into the favor and the service of the living God. And the answer
of Paul will always be the reply of the Christian teacher. The earnest seeker
after salvation must be directed to a Divine Savior, in whom he can
“believe.” For us to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ is to accept Him .for
all that He offers to be to us — to accept Him
Ø as the Savior in whom we trust for Divine mercy;
Ø as the Friend to whom we give our heart;
Ø as the Lord to whom we dedicate our life.
FOLLOWED BY DISCIPLESHIP AND PROFESSION. The converted
jailor, so far from being satisfied with his first change, gave his mind to the
further and fuller understanding of the truth (v. 32); moreover, he
showed the sincerity of his conversion by being baptized into the Christian
faith (v. 33), by carrying with him all the members of his household, and
by offering hospitality to those whom he had treated as criminals and now
welcomed as friends. We, too, if our faith be genuine, shall:
Ø be eager to learn more of Christ and of His holy will;
Ø make profession of our change of heart and life;
Ø do all we can to befriend and further those who are the
ambassadors of Christ.
ABIDING JOY. “He rejoiced” (v. 34). He had often laughed and been
merry before; now joy takes up its home in his heart. “Blessed are all they
that put their trust in Him.”
35 “And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those
men go.” But for and, Authorized Version. ; i.e. the praetors or
duumviri, as in v. 22 (where see note). lictors (v. 22, note).; i.e. the
36 “And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates
have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace.
Jailor for keeper of the prison, Authorized Version, as v. 27; reported the
words... saying for told this saying, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus;
come forth for depart, Authorized Version.
37 “But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned,
being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us
out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out.”
Publicly for openly Authorized Version δημοσίᾳ - daemosia - publicly –
for now do they thrust, Authorized Version; bring for fetch, Authorized Version.
ch. 22:25, on a similar. We have exactly the same phrase in
occasion, where also is the only other example of the word ἀκατάκριτος –
akatakritos - uncondemned. Ἄκριτος - Akritos - with a like meaning
("untried," "without trial"), is common in classical Greek. The Latin phrase is
indicta causa. By the Lex Valeria (A.U.C. 254), "No quis magistratus civem
Romanum adversus provocationem necaret neve verberaret," every Roman citizen
had a right to appeal (provocare) to the populace against any sentence of death or
stripes pronounced by the consuls or any other magistrate; and by the Lex Porcia
(A.U.C. 506), no Roman citizen could be scourged. Silas, it appears from the phrase,
"us... men that are Romans," was also a civis Romanus. But nothing more is known
about it. It does not appear why their exemption as Roman citizens was not made
good before; but probably the magistrates refused to listen to any plea in their haste
38 “And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared,
when they heard that they were Romans.” Reported for told, Authorized Version.
39 “And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them
to depart out of the city.” When they had brought them out they asked for brought
them out and desired, Authorized Version; to go away from for to depart out of,
An Illustrious Triple Triumph of Christianity (16-39)
Soft as the step with which
Christianity entered the fair fields of
and kindly as the welcome given to it then, its uniform lot was not long in
making its appearance. It soon wakens close attention, it rouses strong
opposition, it vindicates its genius and rights, and the luster of its moral
victory must often have been felt by the faithful apostles enough of itself to
compensate for the persecutions and sufferings they encountered. Rarely
was there a more consummate instance of the kind than that here recorded.
Let us notice:
first note of discord was sounded by an agent unusual but not altogether
unknown, and it was unintentionally occasioned by that actor in the whole
Ø The damsel possessed by the spirit of divination, possibly responsible in
the first instance for being thus the victim of evil powers, may be held to be
not responsible in her present conduct.
Ø The utterances of spirits of evil by means of her bodily organs of speech
need not be supposed to be necessarily the utterances of mockery, or of
any evil design to prejudice those who might have listened to Paul, had he
and his companions not been advertised by an agent of so unwelcome a
kind. It is said Christ “suffered not the devils to speak because they knew
Him.” (Mark 1:34) And the possessed slave spoke what she spoke because
she was under the influence of those who really discerned and knew of what
sort Paul and Silas were.
Ø The objection of Paul may have been due:
o to a repetition, which of itself might turn seriousness into mockery;
o to the deep grief, that he would inevitably feel that the words of truth
should be now, not the utterance of intelligent and converted human
beings, as such, but of human powers usurped, and though under the
domination of superior power, not under the governance of superior
goodness, but the contrary.
Ø Paul is empowered to speak the command of dispossession, with which
the “many days” cry stopped, and the evil spirit went, and her “right
mind” returned to the slave. And from the barest facts of the painful but
wonderful incident we learn how tyrannical is the usurpation of the powers
of evil; how nevertheless the powers of evil do sometimes press into the
service of the truth; how their unsought aid (if aid it be) is refused by the
Spirit of truth and by the true themselves, who will not encourage the evil
that good may come; on the other hand, how their designed injury is
balked; but finally how, from all the humbling mournful scene, a victory
“in the Name of the Lord Jesus” was won by Paul. Whatever it was that
was most offensive in what had been taking place was summarily ended,
human powers were disenthralled, a whole market of human iniquity was
soon closed, if not bankrupt, and the true power was exalted and magnified.
Ø The opposition was not on account of the religious views or preaching
and teaching of Paul and Silas. They were Gentiles and Romans who were
the opponents now, not, as so often hitherto, Jews. The cause of the
opposition was most radical to the human heart. The miserable slave had
been gain to cruel masters, never so cruel as when cruel to humanity, and
as her gainfulness was gone their opposition was come, and was decided
and determined and bitter, and withal disingenuous. They pleaded they
were Romans, and they forgot to make sure that there was not a sense in
which Paul and Silas were Romans to whom it was yet more necessary to
show respect. But the cause was stated to consist in what Paul taught as a
Ø The opposition was conducted in every sort of disregard of justice and
order. Angry people and rulers, and magistrates and multitude, are mingled
together against a couple of men who had brought a possessed slave to her
right mind; and stripes and imprisonment, and innermost prison and stocks,
are their punishment, and, it is supposed, the silencing of them.
Ø The opposition, instead of silencing them, had taken the means to keep
them awake even at midnight, when perhaps every one of their enemies
slept. What can they do but pray? But prayer sometimes brings very ready,
very present help, and they sang praises, and though the jailor heard them
not, other suffering prisoners did. And God above heard, and brought
speedy and full deliverance. No stone of the prison building but it moved,
no locked door but it opened, no fetter but it was loosed. And immediately
the second great victory began to be apparent.
o The cause of Paul and Silas is one for which miracle and earthquake
and Heaven will appear.
o The jailor’s life is saved by prisoners forsooth — those whom be had
fastened so securely and so hastily a few hours before.
o A greater, better life is roused in that jailor, so that his hands to wash
the stripes, and his house and his meat and his very heart, are all at the
feet of his prisoners, and “he and all his” numbered among the
followers of Christ! Wonders like these passed all
dreamed of before.
Ø When God’s judgments are abroad in the earth, the very air is rife of
their rumor. The magistrates, before ever day dawned, had heard, if it were
only a whisper, what moved them more than the earthquake. They send
simplest order that the men be “let go.” It is not only humble hearts moved
to salvation, that own to the interposition of Paul’s God and Savior; hearts
proud, unchanged, and haply unchangeable quake to their center, and will
try the shortest way and the least-observed way or any way, if they may
feel free again to breathe, and free from what is to them the most dread
Ø But the hour of the supreme triumph of the servants of Christ had
arrived. They show no hurry to go. They have been silent when the market
place howled around them. But when an almost deathly stillness prevailed
that day-dawn, and those who were about spoke with hushed and bated
breath, a very few, very quiet, but very authoritative words of Paul’s lips
finally complete the transformation of the scene. What a contrast, and what
a proud hour for truth, when Paul pronounces on certain magistrates a
sentence of more moral grandeur and far-reachingness, than all the
sentences they for centuries have pronounced! You can hear those words,
and the climax of them, “Nay verily!” Certainly all the rest “went indeed by
saying.” Nor can we doubt that to God Paul and Silas gave the glory; to
Jesus, Master, King, Captain, they gave the glory; to the energetic Spirit of
light and power and conversion, they gave the glory; nor took one atom of
the proud satisfaction to themselves when the “magistrates came” in
person, “and besought” them and brought them out, and desired them to
depart out of the city.” What triple triumph Jesus won in
made the jailor’s heart and life all his own, and when he sent the
magistrates on their knees to the scourged, imprisoned, but now dictating
Paul and Silas!
40 “And they went out of the prison, and entered
into the house of
and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.”
This is much clearer in the Authorized Version and Textus Receptus
than in the Revised Text and Revised Version, because the same word,
ξελθόντες is used in both places. The R.T.
in v. 39 – ἀπελθεῖν ἀπὸ - apelthein apo - destroys the reference, and rather suggests
that they merely “went out "of
from the first verse of ch.17.
("they had passed," etc.) that Luke stopped
and probably made it his
headquarters till Paul's last journey from
accompanied Paul, but is not named, being still only a subordinate person in the
The Day that Looked like the Day of Small Things
(vs. 14-15, 40)
It may be said, indeed, that “the kingdom came not with observation” (Luke
steps, nothing seems wanting. The notoriety came, again, not from the studied
purpose of its heralds, who did their bidding in so pacific a manner, but
from the vain attempt to crush them. Let us notice in some detail what we
know from the present passage of Christianity’s very first rooting of itself
We must judge that there was little or no choice open to him.
We are glad even to take up the position that this, too, was of God. It may
be worded, therefore, in this way, that the opportunity Paul used was that
the very thing which is slighted, unheeded, altogether ignored! The
opportunities that life offers, that our existing position offers, that God
therein offers, are those that we despise, dreaming of others, which for
that very reason, if for no other, may well be withheld! Let us honor, then,
the God who sent and the servant who faithfully used this opportunity, by
looking at it somewhat minutely.
Ø The sabbath day comes, and there is no fine building into which to enter
to preach; there is no respectable synagogue —
there is no excited and eager crowd as at
the skill of the inspired logician and the Heaven-born orator and the faithful
gospel preacher. Dull will the hours of this sabbath pass compared with
those of many other of late years fresh in the recollection of Paul.
Ø The day is nevertheless to be made use of and to be turned to account.
And Paul and his companions resolve to join the humble prayer-meeting of
a party of women, outside the city and by the river-side. The occasion is
unique, pretty nearly as much so as could be. It must be taken from the
tenor of the narrative that there were few, if any, men there. But Paul and
his companions neither seem to view themselves nor to be viewed as
intrusive. And they sat down and in a most informal manner “spake to the
women.” It were the essence of preaching sometimes rather to speak; and
to speak to a few, and to speak appropriately to them and pointedly and
unassumingly and kindly. This was the day, and this was the place, and
these were the persons, and this was the manner of Paul and his friends,
which made up the opportunity that looked so humble.
group who is to become the first known
Christian convert in
and worshipped one God, according to her light and scanty opportunity,
among a mere disunited remnant of Jewesses, if it were so indeed. And she
was presumably a woman who did a good business, and had a ‘house,’ to
the hospitality of which she could pressingly invite the new-comers, and
invite them to stay there, too, days together (vs. 15, 18, 40).
Ø She is a woman who owns to her own conscience and does “worship
Ø She is one of no bigoted conservative prejudice, and she “listens”
patiently, respectfully, to what the strangers said.
Ø For all that, her heart was as yet sealed, shut. There may be some light,
some knowledge, some movement and life of conscience in a person, and
yet the heart itself be shut to the pure truth of God and of the soul.
o Sin may keep shut the heart.
o The pride of nature may obstruct it.
o Stolid habit may fearfully close it.
o The simple “love of the world” may effectually exclude all better,
higher things from the heart. And something of this kind was the
to open it, and at this time it was in some material sense shut. And
the one first result of this occasion was now seen. “The Lord,” with
His omnipotent power and with His facile grace, “opened the heart
were spoken of Paul.” It is evident that the change that took place
within, under the touch of the Lord, led her to attend with ear, with
mind, with heart, and with life. For “she and her household” are
Ø A generous heart is unlocked. More than one prophet’s chamber is
found, and more than a meal or a day’s entertainment.
A very graceful way of showing
generosity is exampled.
proffer hospitality in any patronizing tone. She begs to be allowed to
render it; and rests her urgency on Paul’s faith in her sincerity.
faithful” to give an asylum for the persecuted, and a home to the released
prisoners (v. 40).
Ø A strangely significant type is given of that elevation of women which
to one presence — the
presence of Christianity. Since the time of
what influences for good in the
leaders of the Church, humanly speaking, have women been, whose “hearts
the Lord has opened”! Thus the gospel began its course in
for “many days” silently, thus condescendingly. And as the Master himself
seldom more significantly marked the character of His own
condescendingness than in condescending to do the apparently little, to
heal only one out of a multitude, to “choose” only a “few,” to fill for a long
time but a small space in the eye of the world, so has His true Church and
its humbler history rejoiced to share His lot; and when it has done so, has
then most testified its own approximation in likeness to Him.
Truth and Falsehood (vs. 16-40)
The domains of truth and falsehood are in their own nature entirely
distinct. This cannot be more emphatically expressed than in the inspired
words which speak of God as the God of truth, and of Satan as the father
of lies. The two realms are not only distinct, but contrary the one to the
other. No greater injury has been done to the cause of truth than by the
employment of weapons of falsehood in its defense. And, on the other
hand, the most effective weapons used in defense of falsehood have been
those which were taken from the armory of truth. The section before us
exhibits a remarkable example of the champions of truth and falsehood, and
of the characteristic weapons of each. To take first the case of the masters
of the soothsaying girl. With them it was a simple matter of gain. What
their Pythoness taught, what direction her soothsaying took, whether her
divination supported Judaism, or heathenism, or Christianity, was all one to
them, so that their own gains were great. They were good friends and
well-wishers to Paul and Silas as long as their own profits were consistent with
the spread of the gospel. But when the damsel was silenced, and the silver
stream of the rewards of divination was dried up, their anger knew no
bounds. With the keen fury of disappointed avarice they turn against those
whom before they seemed to honor and respect. But how shall they wreak
their vengeance against these “servants of the most high God”? It would
not do to speak the simple truth and say, “These men who ‘ show unto us
the way of salvation,’ have robbed us of our gains in the name of Jesus
Christ. Help us to punish them.” It would not do to say, “The only fault we
have to find with them and their teaching is that we are no longer able to
delude simple people, and cheat them out of their money.” And so they
look about for some nobler, and thereby more effective plea. “Are we not
Romans? Is not
colony? Is it fitting that the imperial majesty of the city should be despised
and insulted here in the midst of the fasces of the lictors, and in the very
presence of the praetor? Or again, Is not law the very bond which binds the
world together? Is not law that which all good men honor and obey? Are
not the noble Roman people a law-abiding people? And shall a few ignoble
and despicable Jews dare to teach customs and persuade men to observe
laws contrary to the laws of
citizens? Out upon such lawless insolence! In the name of the majesty of
holy law, rise up, ye magistrates, and chastise these presumptuous
offenders against the law!
Vindicate the fair fame of
these blasphemers against the truth!” So spake these lying champions of
their own sordid interests; and with the weapons of righteousness wielded
by their unrighteous hands, they gained a short-lived victory. And now for
the champions of truth. Paul and Silas, as they are portrayed in the simple,
lucid narrative of the Acts of the Apostles, stand before us as two men of
transparent integrity, living for one object — the presentation of truth to
the minds of men for their present and ETERNAL GOOD! We cannot detect in
them one single selfish purpose — neither the love of gain, nor the love of
power, nor the love of praise, nor the love of ease. What we can detect —
it stares us in the face — is an intense love of God, an entire devotion to
the Lord Jesus Christ, an unquenchable charity for the souls of their fellowmen,
both Jews and Gentiles, and a calm, steady hope of the appearing and
kingdom of their unseen Lord. We see also a sense of duty urging them to
every step they take, and prompting every word they speak. Well, they
preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. They convince, they convert, they
receive their converts into the
Then they are seized, they are ignominiously beaten with many stripes, they are
dragged off to prison, their feet are made fast in the stocks, and they are left alone
in the dark. But it was no darkness to them. In the exercises of prayer and praise
the light of Heaven illuminated their souls. The gospel which they believed and
preached was no less precious in its promises, its hopes, its power, its
present light and joy, in that inner dungeon, than it had been by the waterside
or in the crowded synagogues of
served was no less glorious, no less worthy of all their love and all their
service, than He had ever been. They knew that His truth would endure
from generation to generation. They were not moved from their
steadfastness. Then came their wonderful deliverance. And how did they
but continuing to bear witness to the truth as long as their life endured.
And are they silent now? I trow not. THE TRUTH HAS NOT CHANGED,
but in heaven it is seen more fully, in more unclouded luster, in fuller proportions
of breadth, and length, and height, and depth; and they that know it there
have fuller powers of thought and speech with which to magnify it than the
most gifted of them possessed on earth.
The First European Persecution (vs. 19-40)
It was in no way instigated by Jews, but it proceeded from RULERS AND
MAGISTRATES, under the instigation of HEATHENISH ERROR. Christianity,
when it enlarged its sphere of operations, had to encounter the opposition of:
1. The state.
2. False philosophy regarding it as folly.
3. Heathen priestcraft, fearing the loss of their profitable superstitions.
The method of persecution was generally through LAWLESSSESS AND
UPROAR. There was no trial, no proper charge. Only the multitude against them.
Roman order and discipline is here distinctly on the side of the persecuted, and the
persecutors are afraid. So henceforth, when the gospel is seen at work
we find the Roman law serving it.
The conversion of the Philippian jailor was a GLORIOUS CONSUMMATION
OF THE PERSECUTION. So always — the wrath of man praises God.
“The earth helped the woman” (Revelation12:16). God is doing much under the
surface of events. Streams of providential government unite with streams of spiritual
influence. The revival of intelligence and humanism preceded the Reformation. The
two great currents of the eighteenth century were spiritual and political; and now
science helps the advancement of Christianity.
Unexpected Deliverance (vs. 35-40)
POWER. The decision of the magistrates to let the apostles go free is not
explained. Paul and Silas had given no account of themselves. But the
conscience of the magistrates had been smitten. While his servants suffer in
silence, God conducts their affairs. The coincidence must have struck the
jailor, and filled his heart with joy. Sore would have been the trial to the
jailor’s new faith had he received command to throw his now honored
guests into stricter confinement. Such coincidences, although nothing can
be demonstrated from them, may nevertheless well convey to the believing
heart the sense of an ever-working Divine love.
bidding of the jailor, as if they were escaped convicts, was not agreeable to
sense of right. They were Roman citizens.
words, had said that it was a crime to flog a Roman. In this case they had
been beaten, imprisoned, thrust into the stocks, treated with every
harshness and indignity. Paul stands upon his rights as a Roman citizen:
“Let them... fetch us out!” Christian meekness requires us to reserve our
strength, to subdue our anger, and to prefer the good of another to our
own pleasure; but not to connive at injustice and submit to wrong. The
Christian ought to maintain his honor and insist upon his rights, when his
reason is not wounded self-love, but injured sense of right and zeal for
God’s honor; when his course is not that of a rude independence, but that
of right and calm self-vindication; and if his object is not the overthrow of
the oppressor, but his conviction and improvement.
the magistrates send to beg the apostles to depart. Thus they receive their
dismissal, “Go in peace!” from the lips of friend and foe alike — from the
friends to whom they have brought peace and salvation; from the foes who
dare not touch the anointed of God; from the Master Himself, who has been
with them in their trouble, whose promises have sustained, and whose
providence has watched over and delivered them.
Christian Protest (vs. 35-40)
We may learn:
multitude; they had made no sufficient investigation; they had not
ascertained the citizenship of the prisoners at the bar; and now they have to
pay for their precipitance. They send a sneaking message to the prison,
“Let those men go; ‘ thus virtually confessing themselves in the wrong.
Then when Paul refused to be thus dismissed, and placed himself in the
position of one whose legal rights had been violated, they were fain to
come in person, and beg of their own prisoners to go on their way! To
such dishonor did a hasty and unfaithful use of their power bring these
men. They who are in any office, whether in sacred or secular affairs,
should remember that rashness is certain to suffer in the end, that
precipitancy in judgment conducts to the shame of him who judges, that
we should take ample time and make full inquiry before we condemn and
punish. Otherwise judging others, we condemn ourselves and bring down
the blow on our own head.
ignominiously dismissed, having first been illegally punished. He uttered an
indignant, a fervent remonstrance (v. 37). He declined, being innocent
and wronged, to be treated as if he were guilty and as if he had nothing of
which righteously to complain. It is often our Christian duty to act in the
same way. In this matter there are:
Ø Two laws to which we may make our appeal: either the law of man,
which the magistrates of
they should have regarded; or the law of God, the law which makes its
demand on every human conscience, requiring truth, equity, respect, etc.
When this is palpably violated, we may make our appeal to it against the
iniquity and ill usage of our fellows.
Ø Three laws by which we must be limited.
o The law of purity. We are not at liberty to indulge in protest if there
is nothing in our mind but self-assertion; the spirit by which we must
be animated is a sense of wrong having been done, and of a righteous
resentment of that wrong. A remonstrance which is nothing more than
an attempt to recover something for ourselves, into which the feeling
of pure indignation against evil does not largely enter, is not worthy
of the name; that is only a contention.
o The law of innocence. We must take care that we have clean hands, or
we shall not be in a position to upbraid others. Too often there are faults
on both sides, and those who use the language of remonstrance are open
to damaging retort. Only the innocent are at liberty to “reprove, rebuke,
and exhort” (see Romans 2:17-23).
o The law of considerateness. We must consider what is the probable
effect of protesting. If the outpouring of our indignation, though it
would relieve our own mind, would endanger the comfort, the liberty,
or even (as is possible) the life of others, then we should restrain
ourselves and be silent. If remonstrance, though it should bring
down bitterness or even blows on ourselves, is likely to benefit
others, then it becomes our Christian duty to let loose our tongue
and give play to our indignation. The question to be considered is
— Will utterance honor Christ and benefit our fellows? According
to that verdict let our behavior be.
present to the Christian eye the picture of undignified officialism; first
hastily condemning, and then ignominiously retreating. Paul and Silas will
ever be to us the types of true dignity; first patiently suffering, then loftily
refusing to be secretly dismissed, then composedly uniting and comforting
the disciples, and then quietly departing. They who have God on their side
are in a position to be above the fretting and fuming of the world, to
possess their souls in patience and in calmness. (Luke 21:19)
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