Acts 16



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

Derbe and Lystra, see Acts 14 and notes. This time Paul visited Derbe first, whereas

before he came from Lystra to Derbe (ch. 14:6, 8, 21). Was there; viz. at Lystra (see

II Timothy 3:11). A certain disciple; i.e. a Christian (ch. 11:26). From Paul's speaking

of Timothy as "my own sou in the faith" (I Timothy 1:2; II Timothy 1:2), and from

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). Timothy. 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

quoted, Romans 16:21; I Corinthians 4:17; 16:10; Philippians 2:19-22; and the

general tone of the Epistles to Timothy). A Jewess; viz. Eunice (II Timothy 1:5),

also a Greek name (equivalent to Victoria), though borne by a Jewess. A Greek;

i.e. a Gentile (see Mark 7:26; here ch. 14:1; 17:4; 19:10; Romans 1:16; 2:9;

I Corinthians 10:32, etc.; Colossians 3:11). Had his father been a proselyte, it

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conveyed by historical references in the Acts and Epistles, and by the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 at Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra

(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)

This involved:


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 well reported of. For the phrase, ὅς

ἐμαρτυοεῖτο hos emartuoeitowho was attested - see ch. 6:3; 10:22; Luke 4:22.

At Lystra and Iconium; coupled together, as in II Timothy 3:11. It appears, too,

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. Circumcised him. 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. Because of the Jews; 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 Jerusalem.”

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

of their members (compare ch. 2:47; 5:14; 6:7; 11:21). For the phrase, Ἐστερεοῦντο

τῇ πίστει Estereounto tae pisteiwere made stable to the faith; they were made

firm in the faith," compare Colossians 2:5, Τὸ στερέωμα τῆς εἰς Ξριστὸν πίστεως

ὑμῶνTo 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 kingdom of God. The lessons for us to

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

usefulness. The Church of Christ seldom does better than when it nourishes

youthful piety, and paves the way for the exercise and development of

growing talent.


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 Jerusalem; the people of Asia

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.


  • THE REWARD OF THE CHURCH. This is twofold.


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

and crown.


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

expressed by the Churches of Antioch and Jerusalem lifted up Paul’s spirit

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.




There was no despotism of Jerusalem over the Gentile Churches, but these

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

Spirit, whether we hear it from Jerusalem or from any other quarter. A

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,

then, that:















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.






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 Galatia, and

were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,:  And they went for

now when they had gone, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; through the

region of Phrygia and Galatia for throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia,

Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; having been for and were, Authorized

Version; speak for preach, Authorized Version. The region of Phrygia and Galatia.

But Phrygia is always a noun substantive, and cannot be here taken as an adjective

belonging to χώρανchoranspace; 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 ΦρυγίανTaen Galatikaen choran kai Phrugian

The Galatian province and Phrygia.  Even if the τὴν is properly omitted, as in the

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

invaded Asia in the third century B.C. This passage seems to show conclusively that

Derbe and Lystra and Iconium were not comprehended by Paul under Galatia, and

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. Asia is here used in its restricted sense

of that district on the western coast of Asia Minor, of which Ephesus was the capital.

It is in this sense that it is used also in  ch. 2:9; 6:9; 19:10, etc.; Revelation 1:11. Paul

apparently wished to go to Ephesus. But the time was not yet come. It was the purpose

of the Holy Ghost that the Galatian Churches should be founded first, and then the

Churches of Macedonia and Achaia. The apostles were sent, did not go anywhere

of their own accord (compare Matthew 10:5-6).


7 “After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit

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 Troas.”  Passing... they came for

they passing... came, Authorized Version. They would have gone north to Bithynia,

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 Macedonia.

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.


  • THE YOUNG DISCIPLE. His case shows:


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 Macedonia,

and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.”  There was a

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 Jerusalem

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

(ibid. v. 12; 3; 18:9). A vision (ὅραμαhorama - vision) is distinguished from

a dream (ἐνύπνιονenupnion - 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.


  • HUMANITY WITHOUT THE GOSPEL. The Macedonian life



Ø      The social failure of Rome. The corrupt state of society. The loss of

liberty. The lack of real advancement. Help required in every department of

men’s lives.


Ø      The intellectual failure of Greece. Contradictions of philosophy. Neglect

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 Africa

is open, then follow his lead, even though at great cost, and let there be no

looking back.


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 Jerusalem. A larger Christianity has been taking

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

Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the

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. Concluding;

συμβιβάζοντεςsumbibazontes - deducing, only here in the sense of "concluding

or "gathering." In ch. 9:22 it is "proving." In Ephesians 4:16 and Colossians 2:2 it

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 Paul at Troas.  He

went with him to Philippi (v. 12), and there he appears to have stopped till

Paul returned there in his third missionary journey on his way from Achaia to

Jerusalem (ch. 20:5-6), where we find him still with the apostle (ibid. vs. 17-18).

We again find him with Paul at Caesarea, while he was a prisoner there (ch.27:1),

and he accompanied him on the voyage to Rome, which is the last place where

we here of him (ibid. vs. 2-3. etc.; ch. 28:2, 11, 14-16; Colossians 4:14; Philemon

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

him to Troas, how he became a companion of Paul, whether as his medical

adviser or otherwise, we know not. His Christian modesty forbade his speaking

about himself.




The Call of God and the Appeal of Man: A Missionary Sermon

(vs. 6-10)


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:


  • THE CALL OF GOD. Paul and Silas went whithersoever they were

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 APPEAL FROM MAN. (v. 9.) This vision “appeared to Paul In

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

help us!”




    A True Epoch in the History of the Gospel: Advance from Asia to Europe

     (vs. 6-10)




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 Europe. Possibly the Jewish

element was powerful in Asia, and therefore some religious basis to work

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

misunderstood. Troas was reached in a waiting, inquiring state of mind.


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 Asia Minor — where great as the

success was, it would be necessarily almost limited to the region where it

was obtained. To touch Greece was to open a thousand doors to the world

at large.


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 visited Europe, we should not have

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

not go into Mysia, etc.



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      wait,

Ø      watch, and

Ø      pray,


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 Troas, we came with a straight course to

Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis;”  Setting sail therefore for therefore

loosing, Authorized Version; made for came with, Authorized Version.

(εὐθυδρομήσαμενeuthudromaesamen we run straight, elsewhere only in ch.

21:1); Samothrace for Samothracia, Authorized Version; day following for next day,

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 Macedonia,

and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.”  A city of Macedonia,

the first of the district, a Roman colony for the chief city of that part of Macedonia,

and a colony, Authorized Version: this for that, Authorized Version; tarrying for

abiding, Authorized Version. A city of Macedonia, 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 kingdom of Macedonia into four districts (regiones

or partes), Amphipolis was made the capital of the district in which Philippi was

situated. But the epithet πρώτηprotaeforemost - 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 Philippi, with its gold-mines and its

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 Macedonia was divided into two provinces, Philippi became the

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

κολωνίαkolonia - with πόλις – polis -, "which is the first colony-city," etc, Others

take πρώτη in a local sense, "the first city you come to in Macedonia" (Conybeare and

Howson, Alford, Bengel, etc.). The Revised Version seems to take ἥτις ἐστὶ...

Μακεδονίας πόλιςhaetis esti.....Makedonias polis – which is the Macedonian city –

together, and πρώτη τῆς μερίδος - protae taes meridosforemost 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

knew Philippi intimately, was strictly accurate in calling it "the chief city of the

district of Macedonia," i.e. the district in which it was situated. That μέριςmeris

part; district - is the technical name of the division of a province appears from the

title μεριδάρχηςmeridarchaes -  applied by Josephus to a certain Apollonius,

governor, under Antiochus Epiphanes, of the district in which Samaria was included

('Ant. Jud.,' 12. 5:5). The ancient name of Philippi was Dates first, then Krenides

the springs, or wells; and the word used by Livy of the districts of Macedonia, pars

prima, secunda, etc., is an exact translation of μέρις.  It received the name of Philippi,

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

Philippi, in which the republican party, under Brutus and Cassius, received its

death-blow from Octavius and Antony. (For a full description of Philippi, and of

the privileges of a colony, see Conybeare and Howson, vol. 1:311, etc., and Lewin,

vol. 1. Acts 11.) This. Alford, following certain manuscripts, reads αὐτῇ - autae

 "in the city itself," as distinguished from the place outside the city, where the

προσευχή - proseuchaethe prayer was. But, perhaps, Luke uses the word "this"

from Philippi being the place of his own residence, and where he may have drawn

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:


















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

now come direct to Europe, and there preach and plant the gospel. And 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 pulaesgate  for πολέως poleoscity ); 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 a river side. 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 Philippi, but probably a small stream called the Gangas or

Gangites, which is crossed by the Via Eguatia, about a mile out of Philippi. The

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 εῖναιhou 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 Philippi met for prayer. It also

appears from Epiphanius (' Hear.,' 80, § 1, quoted by Alford) that the Jews usually

had their προσευχαί - proseuchaiprayer meeting - whether buildings, or open

spaces, ἔξω πολέως exo poleos - outside the city. The wayside crosses are of

the nature of προσευχαί.


Acts 16:14


14 “And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira,

which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended

unto the things which were spoken of Paul.”  One that for which, Authorized

Version; to give heed for that she attended, Authorized Version; by for of, Authorized

Version.  A certain woman, etc. Whether her personal name was Lydia, or whether

she was commonly so called on account of her native country and her trade, must

remain uncertain. Thyatira was in Lydia. Lydian women, from the time of Homer

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). One that worshipped God (σεβομένη τὸν Θεὸν

sebomenae ton Theonone 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 γυναῖκεςhai 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 Θεὸνeusebaes

kai phoboumenos ton Theondevout 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 Lydia. There is certainly a coincidence between the

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 Macedonia, etc.

Explain that Philippi was the first city, regarded geographically, not

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

made in Europe was a woman, and a most important part of the work of

Christianity in Europe has been the elevation of woman. Fixing attention on

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 Lydia

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:


Ø      penitence,

Ø      humility,

Ø      faith;


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





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.


Ø      Shepherds from the Bethlehem plains were guided to the infant Savior

by direction of the holy angels (Luke 2);

Ø      star-gazing Magi were guided by the sign of the heavenly light.

(Matthew 2)

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

of Nazareth the Messiah-Savior of Old Testament prophecy.

(ch. 8)

Ø      Paul was brought to faith by a sudden and overwhelming revelation

suited to convince a man of so impulsive a character. (ch. 9)

Ø      The jailor at Philippi was broken down by terror, and plucked from

the very edge of a self-inflicted death. (here)

Ø      And Lydia felt the constraining power of the story of the Crucified.



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.”  When she was baptized; showing that



·         as Peter (ch. 2:38, 41; 10:47),

·         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).

And her household (compare v. 33; I Corinthians 1:16; II Timothy 4:19). This

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

Ephesians 6:1-2, and Colossians 3:20, lead to the same inference. Come into my

house, etc. A beautiful specimen of true hospitality; compare I Peter 4:9; Hebrews

13:2; I Timothy 5:10; III John 1:5-8; also II Kings 4:8-10, where, however, the

Greek word for "constrained" is ἐκράτησενekrataesen - , not as here παρεβίασατο

parebiasatoshe urges, which only occurs elsewhere in the New Testament in

Luke 24:29. In the Septuagint it is used in I Samuel 28:23; Genesis 19:3 (Codex

Alexandrinus) 9 (in a different sense); II Kings 2:17; 5:16. Her large hospitality

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 Israel were. In

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:


  1. the rushing wind,
  2. the tongues of fire,
  3. the leaping cripple,
  4. the down-stricken liars,
  5. the heavenly visions,
  6. the opening of the prison doors,
  7. the angelic ministrations,
  8. the blinded sorcerer, and
  9. all the other putting forth of the power of Christ.


Hence, too, the immediate orders of the Holy Ghost:


  1. “Separate me Barnabas and Saul;” (ch. 13:2)
  2. “Preach not the Word in Asia;”  (v, 6; here)
  3. “Go not into Bithynia;” (v. 7)
  4. “Preach the gospel in Macedonia;” (vs. 9-10)
  5. “Be not afraid; hold not thy peace, for I am with thee, and no man

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

devoted work.


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

went to Antioch, and Cyprus, and Pisidia, and Galatia, and Macedonia, and Achaia,

and preached the Word there, and everywhere there sprang up flourishing

Churches, the countless disciples at Antioch, and Lystra, and Iconium, and

Philippi, and Thessalonica, and Corinth were so many distinct witnesses

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 Macedonia: The Happy Beginning

(vs. 9-15)


The transplantation of the gospel into Europe was a great epoch. We see

the seed-corn of the kingdom germinating and growing from small beginnings.


  • THE PROVIDENTIAL INDICATIONS. It came, as on many occasions

to prophets and men called and sent of God, in a vision of the night. The

Macedonian appears and cries, “Cross into Macedonia, and come to our

aid!” From the ‘Confessions’ of St. Patrick, the evangelist of Ireland, a

dream is cited, in which, by a letter addressed to him, with the inscription,

“The voice of the Irish,” he was called as a missionary to Ireland, where he

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 Macedonia, and the vision assured them of this. Here is a

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” (Bengal).


Ø      The arrival. They came to Philippi, the chief city of that part of

Macedonia. The arrival at a great city for the first time is an impressive

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 womans heart conquered to Christ. Not by conversion en masse,

but by gaining the hearts of individuals, does the gospel proceed. The

kingdom of God is like seed sown in the ground. When it takes root in but

one life, how great may be the results! The noble Church at Philippi, which

gave the apostle so much joy, sprang from the conversion of Lydia. How

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        teachableness,

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

(vs. 11-15)


Promptly obedient to the heavenly vision, Paul and Silas went “with a

straight course to Samothracia,” and by Neapolis to Philippi. There,

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 Lydia: going to render the homage of a pure heart, she

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.


  • THE WAY IN WHICH HE WORKS. God opens our hearts in

different ways.


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)


  • THE MEANS BY WHICH HE WORKS. These are manifold:


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.


  • THE EXCELLENCY OF HIS WORK. Some may suppose that they

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

children, etc.;

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 Lydia,”






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. The place of

prayer. The προσευχήν  - hae proseuchaen -  prayer - of the Received Text

undoubtedly means  "the place of prayer," the proseuche. They went there, doubtless,

every sabbath. What follows happened on one occasion after Lydia's baptism. A spirit

of divination  (πνεῦμα Πύθωνοςpneuma Puthonos - spirit of python, Authorized

Version; ΠύθωναPuthona, 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. Delphi itself, where his chief oracle

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,

and Leviticus 20:27; Deuteronomy 18:11; I Samuel 28:3; for the second). In some

passages, as II Kings 21:6 and Isaiah 29:4, it is doubtful whether אוב means the

ventriloquist or the spirit. The feminine plural אובות (Leviticus 19:31; 20:6;

I Samuel 28:3, 9; Isaiah 8:19) seems always to denote the women, who, like

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

eggastrimuthosone that hath a familiar spirit.  Gain (ἐργασία - ergasia), literally,

work, craft, or trade; then, by metonymy, the gain proceeding from such trade

(ch.19:24-25). By soothsaying (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 Son of God" (Mark 1:23-26; 3:11; Luke 4:34-35); and Paul's dealing with

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 Philippi spoke of the maiden,

or else that he recognized in her phenomena identical with those of the

priestesses of Delphi, the wild distortions, the shrill cries, the madness of

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. Command (παραγγέλλωparaggello

I am charging, as in ch. 1:4; 5:28; and v. 23 of this chapter, etc.). The only other

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)


  • THE SOOTHSAYING DAMSEL. Here was a girl living upon

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.


  • HER WITNESS TO THE TRUTH. It was doubtless involuntary,

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.


  • THE CONDUCT OF THE APOSTLES. It gives a rule to us. There

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.



The Kingdom of Light Revealing Itself (vs. 16-18)


On the borders of Europe there were many false spirits at work.  Divination and

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 -

ergasiasincome -  as ver. 16); laid hold on for caught, Authorized Version;

dragged for drew, Authorized Version; before for unto, Authorized Version.

The rulers (οἱ ἄρχοντες – hoi archontesthe 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 ἀρχώνarchon – 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 Athens the general term ἄρχοντες was applied to inferior

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.

The magistrates; στρατηγοί, i.e. the praetors. Philippi, being a colony, was governed

by Roman magistrates called duumviri, corresponding to the two consuls at Rome.

But we learn from Cicero that in his time the duumaviri in the colonies were

beginning to be called praetors, a little previously used only at Rome ('De Leg.

Agrar.,' 34), and to be preceded by lictors (ῤάβδουχαοιrabdouchaoiconstables;

sergeants -  of v. 35). Two inscriptions have been found in which the duumviri of

Philippi are mentioned (Lewin, p. 26).


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. Romans; 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. Beat them; ῤαβδίζεινrabdizeinto be flogging with

rods -  marking that they were beaten by the lictors, or ῤαβδοῦχοι (see ver. 35).

The phrase rent ... off (περιῥῤήξαντεςperirraexantestearing 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

(I Samuel 30:4).


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.


24 “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.

In the stocks; Greek τὸ ξύλον – to xulon - stocks, sometimes called ξυλοπέδη

 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 ξύλονpentesuriggon 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. Prayed, 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. Were listening to them;

ἐπακροάομαιepakaroaomailistened to, found only here in the New Testament.

But the substantive, ἐπακρόασιςepakroasis -  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 Philippi (vs. 16-25)


We learn:



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 Philippi.


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.



EXTINGUISH TRUTH BY FORCE. The magistracy of Philippi, well

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

(Philippians 1:12-14).



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 —

in such a prison as that of Philippi, and after such lacerating blows as they

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:


  • THE UNITY OF BODY AND SOUL. A unity so complete that the one

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



  • THE DIVORCE OF BODY AND SOUL. It can be said that “as the

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.




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

Israel, thy Saviour!”  (Isaiah 43:2-3)  And in the New Testament as,

“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.

All the doors were opened. This would be the natural effect of the earthquake. Bands

(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

masculine (Philippians 1:13; see Jeremiah 2:20; 5:5; Habakkuk 3:13). In many

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 photalights; 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





like Lot — they will not do just what the angel-messenger commands, they

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.




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.


  • To the blind man He said, “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?”

(John 9:35)

  • To the Syrophoenician woman He said, “O woman, great is thy

faith:  be it unto thee even as thou wilt.”  (Matthew 15:28)

  • Of the centurion He said, I have not found so great faith, no, not in

Israel.”  (Luke 7:9)

  • Of the men who let the sufferer down through the roofing, it is

said, “When Jesus saw their faith.”  (Mark 2:5)

  • Of the people at Capernaum the sad remark is made, “He did not,

many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” (Matthew 13:58)


And the apostles also required faith.


  • “All that believed... had all things common.”  (ch. 2:44)
  •  “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.”  (ch. 8:37)
  • “Faith cometh by hearing.” (Romans 10:17)
  • “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness.”  (ibid. v. 10)
  • “The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17; Hebrews 10:38)
  • “Perceiving that he had faith to be healed.”  (ch. 14:9)


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.



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:


  1. not any scheme of doctrine;
  2. not any historical record;
  3. not any finished work,


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:


  • Jesus was the promised Messiah;
  • Jesus lived a life of innocence and self-denial;
  • Jesus died on the cross, a sacrifice for sin;
  • Jesus rose from the grave that He might have power to redeem; and
  • Jesus lives, able to save us now.


It is CHRIST HIMSELF  lifted up who draws all men unto him.



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”?


  • See Him taking the children in His arms.  (Mark 10:16)
  • See Him speaking so tenderly to the woman who was bathing His feet

with her tears.   (Luke 7:38)

  • See him talking to Mary in the Bethany home, whose “eyes were

homes of silent prayer.”   (Luke 10:39)

  • See Him standing up on the great day of the feast, and yearning

over the multitude, and calling them to come to Him, and drink,

and live forever. (John 7:37-38)

  • See Him on His very cross praying for His murderers.   (Luke 23:34)

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. Washed their stripes. Mark the jailor's faith working by love.

He and all his. 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 (ἠγαλλιάσατοhagalliasatoexults; rejoice greatly;

a stronger word than χαίρεινchaireinbe ye rejoicing -  Matthew 5:12; I Peter 1:6);

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 America.  Bring in the low estate of David 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

Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.”  (Isaiah 66:8; see vs. 5-14)




  • A rapid spread of religion when household faithfulness is maintained.
  • Education is the basis of Christian teaching.



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

this at Philippi was one of the most significant. Here, too, was one of the places

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.



LIBERTY IN BONDS AND PRISON. At midnight Paul and Silas were

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

to Paradise.Tis not the place that sanctifies the spirit, but the spirit that

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

in heaven.




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,






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.




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.  The magistrates; i.e. the praetors or

duumviri, as in v. 22 (where see note). The sergeants; i.e. the lictors (v. 22, note).


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 –

ch. 18:28; 20:20); men that are for being, Authorized Version; do they now cast

for now do they thrust, Authorized Version; bring for fetch, Authorized Version.

Men that are Romans. We have exactly the same phrase in ch. 22:25, on a similar

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

and violence.


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,

Authorized Version.




An Illustrious Triple Triumph of Christianity (16-39)


Soft as the step with which Christianity entered the fair fields of Europe,

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 Philippi had ever

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 Philippi of

Europe, when he disenthralled the body and the mind of the slave, when he

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 Lydia:

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,

ξελθόντεςexelthontes – to be coming out -  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 Lydia's house, which they had "entered into." It appears

from the first verse of ch.17. ("they had passed," etc.) that Luke stopped at Philippi,

and probably made it his headquarters till Paul's last journey from Macedonia to

Jerusalem, some six or seven years later (ch. 20:6). What became of Timothy we

are not expressly told, only we find him at Berea in ch.17:14 and I Thessalonians 3:2;

and at Corinth (I Thessalonians 1:1; 3:6; II Thessalonians 1:1). Probably he

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

17:20) into Europe. To the silence, modesty, and unostentatiousness of its first

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

in Europe. Observe:



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

which Providence offered. With how many is it the case that opportunity is

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      Landed in Europe, some “certain days” seem to have counted for little at

Philippi; the only record of them this: “We were in that city abiding certain



Ø      The sabbath day comes, and there is no fine building into which to enter

to preach; there is no respectable synagogue — Judaea is far away now;

there is no excited and eager crowd as at Antioch to be harangued, with all

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.


  • THE FIRST SHOW OF RESULTS. There is one woman among the

little group who is to become the first known Christian convert in Europe.

And she came from Asia. By all appearance she was a proselyte, and knew

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      Lydia is a woman not altogether shut off from light and knowledge.

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

state of Lydia. Nature had closed her heart, or nature had not availed

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

of Lydia — opened it so that “she attended to the things which

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

baptized speedily.




Ø      A generous heart is unlocked. More than one prophet’s chamber is

found, and more than a meal or a day’s entertainment.

Ø      A very graceful way of showing generosity is exampled. Lydia does not

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.

Ø      Lydia becomes installed in that place as one who may be “counted

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

Europe should ere long be destined to witness, and which has been just due

to one presence the presence of Christianity. Since the time of Lydia,

what influences for good in the Church of Christ, what very Saviors and

leaders of the Church, humanly speaking, have women been, whose “hearts

the Lord has opened”! Thus the gospel began its course in Europe, thus

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 Rome the mistress of the world? Is not Philippi a Roman

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 Rome, and contrary to the duty of Roman

citizens? Out upon such lawless insolence! In the name of the majesty of

Rome, rise up, ye people, and put these intruders down. In the name of

holy law, rise up, ye magistrates, and chastise these presumptuous

offenders against the law! Vindicate the fair fame of Philippi, and silence

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 Church of God, all the while leading lives of:


  • blameless purity,
  • quietness, and
  • order.


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 Antioch. The Master whom they

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

use it?


  • In preaching the same truth to their jailor,
  • in repeating it to the house of Lydia,
  • in carrying it forth from city to city, and
  • being never silent,


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 in Europe,

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.

(Psalm 76:10)


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.


  • THE PROTEST OF THE APOSTLES. To slink out of prison at the

bidding of the jailor, as if they were escaped convicts, was not agreeable to

Paul’s sense of right. They were Roman citizens. Cicero, in eloquent

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 HONORABLE DISMISSAL. Alarmed at the attitude of Paul,

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:


  • THE PITIFUL END OF RASHNESS. (vs. 35, 38-39.) These

magistrates of Philippi had hastily adopted the opinion of the clamorous

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 Philippi had now broken, and which Paul claimed

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.


  • THE DIGNITY OF INNOCENCE. These magistrates will always

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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