Acts of the Apostles

Chapter 16

Blaine Robison, M.A.

Published 14 October 2019; Revised 23 December 2019

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Scripture Text: The Scripture text used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. See my web article The Jewish New Testament. Scripture quotations may be taken from different versions. Click here for abbreviations of Bible versions. Quotations marked with the initials "BR" indicate the translation of the commentary author.

Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Important Jewish sources include the following:

DSS: Citations marked as "DSS" are from the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish manuscripts of Scripture and sectarian documents found in the Qumran caves. Most of the Qumran MSS belong to the last two centuries B.C. and the first century A.D. Online DSS Bible and DSS Docs. Click here for DSS abbreviations.

LXX: The abbreviation "LXX" ("70") stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, which was in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C. Online.

Josephus: Citations for Josephus, the first century Jewish historian (Yosef ben Matityahu), are from The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.) trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.

MT: The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Tanakh for Rabbinic Judaism. Work on developing a uniform Hebrew Bible began in the 2nd century under Rabbi Akiva, but completed by Jewish scholars known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D. The oldest extant manuscripts date from around the 9th century. Online.

Talmud: Unless otherwise indicated references to the Talmud are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); available online at The Jerusalem Talmud, identified with "TJ," may be found here. Click here for Talmud abbreviations.

Targums: The targums are early Aramaic translations of the Hebrew text with commentary: Targum Jerusalem (1st c. AD), Targum Neofiti (1st c. AD), Targum Onkelos (c. 35–120 AD) and Targum Jonathan (2nd c. AD). See an index of targum texts here.

Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations and pronunciation of Greek words. Parsing data for Greek words is from Anthony J. Fisher, Greek New Testament. The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.

Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms ADONAI (for 'LORD' when quoting a Tanakh source), Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), Tanakh (Old Testament), and Besekh (New Testament).

See the article Witnesses of the Good News for background information on Acts. See a suggested timeline of Acts at All dates are estimates.

Chapter Summary

In Chapter Sixteen Luke continues his narrative of the second journey of Paul into the Diaspora, initially accompanied by Silas. After visiting congregations in Syria and Cilicia the duo headed for Lycaonia. In Lystra, Paul enlisted a young disciple named Timothy who would become a life-long fellow-worker in the kingdom. Then they continued into the province of Galatia. From there Paul purposed to launch new ministry in the province of Asia, but being strangely but providentially hindered by the Holy Spirit, they arrived in Troas, where Paul met Luke.

While in Troas Paul received a divine vision calling him to continue the journey into Macedonia (now Greece). Obeying the vision the ministry team crossed the Aegean Sea and arrived in Philippi. The remainder of the chapter chronicles their ministry and adventures in that city. The narrative includes encounters with three striking personalities: a wealthy business-woman named Lydia, a demonically oppressed slave-girl and the keeper of the local jail. Paul's ministry in Philippi was met with both great success and considerable opposition.

Chapter Outline

Ministry in Lycaonia and Galatia, 16:1-5

Closed Doors, 16:6-8

The Call to Macedonia, 16:9-12

Encounter with Lydia, 16:13-15

Demonic Distraction and Deliverance, 16:16-18

False Accusation and Mistreatment, 16:19-22

Paul and Silas in Prison, 16:22-26

Philippian Jailer Saved, 16:27-34

Release and Departure, 16:35-40

Second Diaspora Journey (cont.)

Acts 15:40−18:22

A.D. 50


Rome: Caesar Claudius (AD 41-54)

Procurator of Judaea: Ventidius Cumanus (AD 48-52)

Jewish High Priest: Ananias, son of Nebedaius (AD 47-55)

Ministry in Lycaonia and Galatia, 16:1-5

1 Now he came also to Derbe and to Lystra. And behold a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a believing traditional Jewish woman, but his father was a Hellenistic Jew.

Luke continues the narrative of Paul's second journey into the Diaspora. See the map of the journey here.

Now: Grk. de, conj., used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). The second meaning applies here. The conjunction continues the narrative from the previous chapter. he came: Grk. katantaō, aor., used of coming or arriving at a destination in the course of travel; come to, arrive at, reach. Departing the province of Cilicia Paul may well have taken the Roman road that passed through the Cilician Gates (Latin Pylae Ciliciae), the most famous mountain pass north of Tarsus, which provided access through the Taurus Mountains into Cappadocia and then into Lycaonia.

also: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. There are over 50 conjunctions in biblical Greek, but kai is by far the most common in the Besekh The excessive use of conjunctions is evidence of either an original Hebrew text or Jewish Greek. See my note on the significance of conjunctions in the Besekh.

to: Grk. eis, prep. that focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to direction and limit, and in composition may be translated as "into, in, to, towards, or for" (DM 103). Derbe: Grk. Derbē, a city in southeastern Lycaonia, some 60 miles southeast of Lystra. The city lay on the eastern frontier of the province of Galatia near to the western border of Cappadocia and on the northern border of Cilicia Trachea. According to the lexicographer Stephen of Byzantium, its name in the Lycaonian dialect meant "juniper tree" (Longenecker). In 25 B.C. Augustus incorporated it into the province of Galatia. The town had apparently been honored by Caesar Claudius because a few coins have been found inscribed to Claudio-Derbe (Polhill 96). Paul and Barnabas had ministered in Derbe on their first journey and made many disciples there (Acts 14:20-21).

and: Grk. kai. to: Grk. eis. Lystra: Grk. Lustra, a prominent city of Lycaonia about 18 miles south-southwest of Iconium. Lystra was established as a colony by Caesar Augustus in 6 BC (Polhill 93). Lystra served as a base for the more effective suppression of marauders from the Taurus mountains who threatened the Roman peace (Bruce). Paul and Barnabas had ministered in Lystra on their first journey about three years earlier where an invalid was miraculously healed and the people considered Paul and Barnabas to be the gods Hermes and Zeus and attempted to offer sacrifices in their honor. Afterward, Paul was stoned (Acts 14:6-19). Yet they had made many disciples there also.

And: Grk. kai. behold: Grk. idou, aor. imp., demonstrative interjection (derived from eidon, "to see"), that arouses the attention of hearers or readers. The Greek verb, like its corresponding Heb. word hinneh (SH-2009, e.g., Gen 1:29), serves to enliven divine monologues and narratives, particularly as a call to closer consideration and contemplation of something, to introduce something new or to emphasize the size or importance of something; (you) see, look, behold (BAG).

a certain: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun; a certain one, someone, anyone, anything. This pronoun is often used to distinguish someone in a class or in contrast to others. disciple: Grk. mathētēs (from manthanō, to learn), one who learns through instruction from a teacher. In the Besekh the noun occurs only in the apostolic narratives and corresponds to the Heb. talmid (SH-8527), a scholar or pupil of a Jewish Sage or Torah scholar (Heb. rabbi). The term occurs 30 times in Acts and always refers to followers of Yeshua, those who not only believed in Yeshua but sought to imitate his character and conduct. For a full discussion of this term see my article Disciples of Yeshua.

was: Grk. eimi, impf., to be, a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG). there: Grk. ekei, adv., 'in that place,' as opposed to here or another place; i.e., Lystra. named: Grk. onoma is used in its central sense of identifying someone with a proper name. In Hebrew literature "name" also carries the extended sense of qualities, powers, attributes or reputation.

Timothy: Grk. Timotheos (from timaō, honor, and theos, God"), "one who honors God." The name occurs 24 times in the Besekh. Gill notes that the name of Timothy was much used in the Hellenistic world, including two notable military leaders. Yet, the meaning of the name might reflect the hope of the mother in contrast to the character of the father. Many mothers in Scripture gave names to their sons (Gen 29:33, 35; 30:6, 8, 11, 13, 18, 20, 24; 35:18; 38:4-5; Ex 2:10; Jdg 13:24; 1Sam 1:20; 1Chr 4:9; 7:16). the son: Grk. huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry, the former in this instance. In the LXX huios renders Heb. ben (SH-1121, "son," "son of"), which is generally used of a male child by direct paternity or male descendant of a distant ancestor.

of a believing: Grk. pistos, adj., may mean (1) characterized by constancy and therefore worthy of trust; or (2) believing or trusting with commitment. Both meanings can have application here, but the second would be primary. In the LXX pistos translates the participle of the Heb. verb aman (SH-539), made firm or sure, lasting (first in Num 12:7). Bible versions and commentators treat the adjective as indicative of belief in Yeshua as Messiah and Savior. traditional Jewish: Grk. Ioudaios, Jew, Jewish, Jewess or Judean (BAG). Danker notes that the term may be used as an adjective (Judean, Jewish) or a noun (Jew, Judean). Ioudaios designates a person by belief and practice (cf. John 4:9). In the first century the term had a particular sectarian meaning to distinguish observant Jews from non-observant Jews (Acts 2:5).

Indeed the noun Ioudaismos, "Judaism," first appears in the Maccabean writings for a way of life devoted to observance of Torah laws (2Macc 2:21; 8:1; 14:38; 4Macc 4:26), and then used by Paul to describe his religion before his life-changing encounter with Yeshua (Gal 1:13-14) (DNTT 2:310). Moreover, the tenets of their Judaism were governed by the Great Sanhedrin and the Pharisees, whose traditions they followed (cf. Matt 23:2-3; Mark 7:3; Acts 10:28). Traditional Jews revered Moses (John 9:28-29; Acts 6:11) and recognized the authority of the written Torah (John 7:23; Acts 21:20) and the traditions of the Sages (Matt 15:2; Gal 1:14; Col 2:8). For more information on the Ioudaioi see my note on the term in 9:22.

woman: Grk. gunē, an adult female person, without respect to age, marital or social status except as defined in the context. In the LXX gunē renders the Heb. ishshah ("woman, wife"). ISV has "wife." The name of Timothy's mother was Eunice (Grk. Eunikē, "good victory"), and he had a grandmother Lois (Grk. Lōis), both of who, were godly influences (2Tim 1:5; 3:15). Eunice had apparently embraced Yeshua as Messiah on Paul's first visit to Lystra, since she is here spoken of as a believer. but: Grk. de, conj. his father: Grk. patēr, normally used of a male biological parent, someone who fulfilled the role of a father or an ancestor. In the LXX patēr renders ab (SH-1, "av"), father, with the same range of meaning (Gen 2:24) (DNTT 1:616f).

was a Hellenistic Jew: Grk. Hellēn, lit. "Hellene" or "Hellenist," and may mean (1) a person who spoke or wrote Hellenistic Greek; or (2) a person of Hellenistic culture as opposed to traditional Israelite culture (BAG). My translation of "Hellenistic Jew" is based on history and usage of the term in the Besekh. After Alexander the Great (356−323 BC) conquered the world he and his successors sought to assimilate people in all the nations in the Greek way of life. All who spoke the Greek language and adopted or accommodated Greek culture in varying degrees were counted as Hellenist (DNTT 2:124). All the lexicons recognize that Hellēn is a cultural term and not restricted to persons born to ethnic Greek families or Gentiles in general.

The lexicons inexplicably exclude Jews from this definition and assume that Ioudaios is the only Greek word that can refer to Jews. This omission reflects a major blind spot in Christian scholarship. Almost all Bible versions, including Messianic versions, translate the noun here as "Greek" (a few have 'Gentile'). Hellēn literally means "Hellenist," and a Hellenist might be a Gentile or he might be a descendant of Jacob. There is no evidence that Timothy's father was an ethnic Greek or from any Gentile nation. Of interest is that the CJB translates the plural form of the same noun (Hellēnés) in John 7:35 and in John 12:20 as "Greek-speaking Jews." DHE has a marginal note on the latter passage that Hellēnés may mean "Hellenistic Jews" (384). Why is that definition not applied here?

There were thousands of Hellenistic Jews in the Diaspora. Hellenistic Jews had a tendency toward universalism and they tolerated religions around them. In some places Hellenistic Jews accepted mixed marriage, dropped circumcision, and adopted Greek cults (Tarn & Griffith 223-227; Skarsaune 34). Hellenistic Jews could be completely secular, ascetic like the Essenes, or devout worshippers as the Greek-speaking Jews that Luke describes in Acts 6:1. For a detailed discussion of the term Hellēn and the arguments for the usage of Hellēn in the Besekh representing "Hellenistic Jews" see my article Hellenism and the Jews.

Scripture provides no information on the name or the religious orientation of Timothy's father. When Paul writes to Timothy the names of his mother and grandmother are mentioned with honor. The mention of the father here clearly contrasts with the mother and therefore he did not practice Jewish traditions and he was not a believer in Yeshua. The omission of the father's name by Luke and Paul likely reflects a Jewish practice to shame an Israelite for willful failure to fulfill divine expectations (cf. Deut 9:14; 29:20; Ps 9:5; 109:13).

Additional Note: Jewish Identity

Since Bible commentators assume that Timothy's father was a Gentile, then Timothy's status as a Jew is discussed. Marshall comments that Jews were not supposed to marry Gentiles, but if this did happen, the children were regarded as Jewish and therefore liable to be circumcised (275). Bruce also states that by Jewish law (without citing one) Timothy was a Jew, because he was the son of a Jewish woman. Stern asserts that in the first century Jewish and non-Jewish descent were traced through the mother and concludes that Timothy was Jewish.

However, there is no definitive evidence that matrilineal descent was the determinative principle in the first century. Gilbert, a non-Messianic Jewish scholar, admits that matrilineal descent may not have been established at this time (230). Another non-Messianic Jewish scholar, Shaye J. D. Cohen, asserts that the status of the offspring of mixed marriages in Bible times was determined patrilineally (The Beginnings of Jewishness. University of California Press, 1999; pp. 305-306). The Bible does not actually address the matter of Jewish identity, which became an issue after the Bar Kokhba revolt against the Romans (AD 132-136) resulted in the Jews being removed from the land of Israel.

The Torah does provide instruction on covenantal rights. The promises made to the patriarchs were formally granted to the nation of Israel at Sinai (Ex 6:8; 19:5-6; 29:45; Deut 29:1-15). God promised that Israel would be a favored nation, a blessing to the rest of the nations and recipients of inheritance in the land of Canaan. Best of all only Israel would have God dwelling in their midst and experienced in corporate worship. Children considered mamzer (illegitimate) were denied these blessings to the tenth generation, an idiomatic expression for all time (Deut 23:2). The Targum explains the mamzer as one born of fornication or of an unclean Gentile. Basically a mamzer was one born of any connection forbidden in the Torah or forbidden under penalty of extinction (Jastrow 794).

Israelite men were forbidden to marry women of nine specific groups in the land of Canaan: Ammonites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, Hittites, Hivites, Jebusites, Moabites, and Perizzites (Ex 34:11-16; Deut 7:1-3; 20:17; Ezra 9:1). Rahab and Ruth were accepted because they chose to worship the God of Israel and identify with His people. The exclusionary rule was applied rigorously in the time of Ezra to over a hundred Israelite men who had married women from the prohibited list (Ezra 9:1-2; 10:2, 18-44; cf. Neh 13:23-25). However, God did allow intermarriage with groups not on the prohibited list (Deut 20:10-14; 21:10-14; Jdg 5:30; cf. Rom 4:15). Moses is the prime example of permissible intermarriage since he married a Midianite (Ex 2:21) and a black African Cushite (Num 12:1). Samson married a Philistine (Jdg 14:1-4) and David married a Geshurite (2Sam 3:3).

Israelite women were prohibited from marrying men of Ammon, Moab, Edom or Egypt (Deut 23:3, 7-8). No Ammonite or Moabite man married to an Israelite woman could ever be accepted into the congregation of Israel and this judgment passed to their offspring. However, offspring resulting from marriage with an Edomite or Egyptian man could be admitted to the congregation in the third generation. Israelite women mentioned in the Tanakh as married to Gentile men include an unnamed woman to an Egyptian (Lev 24:10-11), Caleb's mother to Jephunneh, a Kenizzite (Num 13:6; 32:12), Shamgar's mother to Anath, a Canaanite (Jdg 3:31), Jael to Heber, a Kenite (Jdg 4:17), Bathsheba to Uriah the Hittite (2Sam 11:3), and Queen Esther to King Ahasuerus, a Persian (Esth 2:17).

Once Jewish law (Mishnah) was codified in writing by Rabbinic scholars (c. 200 AD), the ruling of Ezra became the guiding principle for intermarriage.

"MISHNAH: There is a principle with regard to the halakhot of lineage: Any case where there is betrothal, i.e., where the betrothal takes effect, and the marriage involves no transgression by Torah law, the lineage of the offspring follows the male, his father. ... And any case where there is a valid betrothal and yet there is a transgression, the offspring follows the flawed parent." (Kiddushin 66b, The William Davidson Talmud,

Thus, the "flawed parent," that is, the one who did not satisfy the Torah as an acceptable marriage partner, determined the status of the children of the marriage. The Mishnah made it even more explicit in declaring that if a daughter of Israel married an idolater and bore a son, the son would be considered mamzer (Yebamot 69b; cf. fn 26 on 47a). Moreover, the ineligibility of the mamzer for covenantal rights would be for all time (Yeb. 78b). We should note that illegitimacy in this instance is only a religious category and does not mean "born out of lawful wedlock" as currently defined. If Timothy's father was a heathen Greek as commentators claim, then Timothy had no covenantal rights. He would have been regarded as a Gentile (Brown).

2 who was well spoken of by the brothers in Lystra and Iconium.

who: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that. The antecedent of the pronoun is Timothy rather than his father. was well spoken of: Grk. martureō, impf. pass. to attest or testify to a fact or truth, often in a legal context. Here the verb has the meaning of to utter honorable testimony or give a good report about someone (Thayer). The same expression is used of Cornelius (Acts 10:22) and by Paul of Ananias (Acts 22:12). by: Grk. hupo, prep., may be used to indicate (1) agent or cause; by; (2) a position that is relatively lower; below, under; (3) time, equivalent to 'about;' or (4) being subject to the power or authority of someone, under. The first meaning applies here.

the brothers: pl. of Grk. adelphos, lit. "of the same womb," and in secular Greek meant a male sibling; brother. In the Jewish context the term primarily refers to blood siblings or fellow Israelites. In the LXX adelphos renders Heb. ach (SH-251), a male sibling (Gen 4:2; 20:5), a male relative of the same tribe (Gen 13:8; Num 16:10) or the people of Israel (Ex 2:11; 4:18). Here the plural noun denotes disciples of Yeshua. in: Grk. en, prep. generally used to mark position, lit. "in" or "within," and in composition may be translated "among, at, in, on, by, or with." Lystra: See the previous verse.

and: Grk. kai, conj. Iconium: Grk. Ikonion, the eastern-most city of Phrygia in southern Galatia, although some ancient authorities considered it a principal city of Lycaonia. Iconium was about 18 miles north-northeast of Lystra. Iconium was a very ancient city and like Damascus was one of the oldest continually occupied cities in the world, owing its longevity to being located on the main east-west trade route between Asia and Syria (Polhill 92). The city was a prosperous market town with a population of about 30,000, including a Jewish quarter evidenced by the mention of a synagogue that included both traditional Jews and Hellenistic Jews (Acts 14:1).

Luke's cryptic comment does not explain how Timothy, being a young man (cf. 1Cor 4:17; 1Tim 1:18; 4:12), gained such a stellar reputation. Gilbert, assuming that Timothy was of mixed parentage, believes he was not raised as a Jew (230). However, Paul notes the godly influences of Timothy's mother and grandmother who raised him with knowledge of Scripture (2Tim 1:5; 3:14-15). Very likely Timothy's family attended synagogue services in Iconium, since there was none in Lystra. Once Timothy and his mother joined the ranks of disciples they would have had opportunity for fellowship with them in Iconium as well as in Lystra.

3 This one Paul wanted to go forth with him, and having received him he circumcised him because of the traditional Jews, the ones being in those parts, for they knew altogether that his father was a Hellenistic Jew.

This one: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this. The pronoun refers to Timothy. Paul: Grk. Ho Paulos, which transliterates the Latin proper name Paulus ("small" or "humble"). As a Roman citizen (Acts 22:28) Paulus was probably taken from the patron who freed Paul's ancestors from slavery (Polhill 16). Paul was born in Tarsus of Cilicia, a Roman city (Acts 9:11; 21:39) of a Jewish family belonging to the tribe of Benjamin (Php 3:5). He was "set apart from his mother's womb" for a sacred life (Gal 1:15). Having received advanced education under Gamaliel the Elder (Acts 5:34; 22:3), Paul was a devout Pharisee (Acts 23:6; 26:5). Paul was called personally by Yeshua while traveling to Damascus to persecute disciples. From that point on he was an apostle to Israel and the nations. For a biography of Paul see my article The Apostle from Tarsus.

Of special interest among Bible versions is that the Complete Jewish Bible and Orthodox Jewish Bible consistently translate Paulos with the Hebrew Sha'ul. Stern explains his persistence in using Sha'ul for the apostle "to highlight the Jewishness of the New Testament and its major figures" (267). In contrast Paul apparently did not feel any loss of Jewish identity by using his Roman name, which is the only name by which the apostle refers to himself in his letters, and the only name Luke uses from Acts 13:13 to the end of the book. In addition, the OJB adds the title "Rav" in direct violation of Yeshua's instruction (Matt 23:8). Paul never used the honorific of himself and no one addressed Paul as "Rabbi."

wanted: Grk. thelō, aor., to have a desire for something or have a purpose for something; will, wish, desire. to go forth: Grk. exerchomai, aor. inf., to move away from a place or position, to go or come out. with: Grk. sun, prep. used to denote association or close identification. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun used to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another, or to give him (it) emphatic prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. The second meaning applies here. Timothy's good reputation likely influenced Paul's decision to recruit him for ministry. Timothy would serve as a co-laborer with Paul, sharing a number of crucial missions. Timothy later received two of Paul's fourteen letters and is mentioned in nine others.

and: Grk. kai, conj. having received him: Grk. lambanō, aor. part., to lay hold of by actively accepting what is offered (HELPS), to take or receive. Most versions translate the participle as "took," and connect it with the following action of Paul. Translating the verb as "took" might imply a forcible action or personal insistence. Some versions avoid such a negative impression by either omitting the verb completely or treating it as an infinitive clarifying the clause "wanted to go forth with him." I believe the intention of lambanō here is "having received Timothy as a ministry associate." Indeed, Timothy was ordained to ministry by the laying on of hands by Paul and the elders of the congregation (1Tim 4:14; 2Tim 1:6), which no doubt occurred at this time.

he circumcised: Grk. peritemnō, aor., the act of surgically removing the male foreskin by a knife. In the LXX peritemnō translates Heb. mul (SH-4135), circumcise. God commanded that circumcision be performed on the eighth day after birth for all male descendants of Isaac (Gen 17:12; Lev 12:3), regardless of the day of week. Adult circumcision was normally only done to proselytes (Ex 12:43-48), although there were two occasions in biblical history when God directed adult circumcision: (1) the initial circumcision of Abraham, his son Ishmael and the men in his household (Gen 17:10-27), and (2) the uncircumcised men among the nation of Israel born in the wilderness years (Josh 5:2-5). Circumcision was widely practiced by Semitic peoples. Indeed, the Arabians circumcised after the thirteenth year, because Ishmael, the founder of their nation, was circumcised at that age (Josephus, Ant. I, 12:2). In Hellenistic culture circumcision was viewed as mutilation.

him: Grk. autos. Timothy had not been circumcised in infancy, which Luke does not explain. Gloag, assuming Timothy's father to be a Gentile, asserts that being uncircumcised Timothy would have been regarded as a Gentile or perhaps an apostate from Judaism (2:103). Bruce concurs with this view. Longenecker suggests that in Greek law the father dominates in the home and the Jewish community at Lystra was too weak or lax to interfere with Greek custom. Liberman suggests that Eunice was not an observant Jew (224). Yet, Luke calls her Ioudaios (see verse 1 above). This is not a label used in the Besekh of non-observant Jews. In reality there could have been any number of circumstantial factors that prevented Eunice from fulfilling the Torah, not the least of which is her husband deciding against it.

Once the eighth day passed without circumcision, the uncircumcised Israelite was subject to being "cut off from his people" (Gen 17:14). There was no punishment prescribed in the Torah for failure to circumcise babies, but no uncircumcised male could participate in the mandatory pilgrim festivals. Thus, Timothy was not eligible to participate in Passover in Jerusalem. Stern suggests Paul may have had an expert mohel ("circumciser") to perform the operation, since circumcising an adult is not a simple operation and normally requires a specialist. However, the straightforward meaning of "he circumcised" is that Paul did the surgery. Consider, too, that Abraham performed the first adult circumcision in the Bible and (Gen 17:23) afterwards fathers among the Ishmaelites circumcised their sons during their teen years. Also Joshua performed adult circumcision among the Israelites before they entered the land (Josh 5:3).

Luke does not intend to say that Paul forced Timothy into circumcision, but it was done with Timothy's full agreement and perhaps request. Paul may have been disposed toward performing the circumcision because he viewed Timothy as a son and himself in loco parentis (1Cor 4:17; Php 2:22; 1Tim 1:2). Luke then provides the compelling rationale for Timothy to be circumcised.

because of: Grk. dia, prep. used as a prefix to a statement, which may express (1) instrumentality; through, by means of; or (2) causality; on account of, because of. The second usage applies here. the traditional Jews: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 1 above. Circumcision was personally important to Timothy to affirm his own covenantal identity as a Jew. In addition, the fact that Timothy lived among traditional Jews and would be ministering to traditional Jews was an important incentive. Moreover, Timothy did not want to be thought of as having denied his Jewish identity by becoming Messianic. Timothy became the example for Paul's later stated principle, "To the traditional Jews I became as a traditional Jew, so that I might win traditional Jews" (1Cor 9:20 BR). Timothy purposed to be like his mother, not his father.

the ones: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a relative pronoun. being: Grk. eimi, pres. part. See verse 1 above. in: Grk. en, prep. those: pl. of Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun typically used to refer to a noun (person or thing) immediately preceding in the Greek text; that, that one there. parts: pl. of Grk. topos, a spatial area, generally used of a geographical area. The term may allude to Lycaonia or more generally to southern Galatia. In the narrative of the first journey Only Antioch and Iconium are mentioned as having synagogues. Yet, Timothy's residence in Lystra is indicative that there was a Jewish presence in the region and the Jews in this area knew of Timothy.

for: Grk. gar, conj., a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that; for." The conjunction has four uses: (1) explanatory, (2) expressive of astonishment, (3) causal and, (4) inferential. The first use is intended here. they knew: Grk. eidō, plperf., derived from oida, to know and denotes experiential knowledge. altogether: pl. of Grk. hapas, adj., a totality of something; all, the whole, everything, all things. that: Grk. hoti, conj., is used to (1) define a demonstrative pronoun; that; (2) introduce a subordinate clause as complementary of a preceding verb; (3) introduce a direct quotation, functioning as quotation marks; and (4) indicate causality with an inferential aspect. The second usage applies here.

his: Grk. autos. father: Grk. patēr. See verse 1 above. was: Grk. huparchō, impf., to function or be in a state as determined by circumstance; to be or exist. The imperfect tense denotes continuous action in past time, so Timothy's father may not have been alive. The force of the verb in this context is to point out an existence different from birth. a Hellenistic Jew: Grk. Hellēn. See verse 1 above. The last clause completes the rationale for the circumcision. If Timothy's father was a heathen Greek, then by Jewish law of the time Timothy was illegitimate with no claim on covenantal rights. Circumcision in this situation would give Timothy the status of a proselyte and a proselyte possessed no inheritance rights in the Land as promised to the Israelites.

However, I maintain that Timothy's father was an ethnic Jew, but he had chosen to exist or live as a Hellenist. He had neglected his most basic covenantal duty as a Jewish parent. Everyone knew it, and that is Luke's point. Therefore, the failure of the parents meant that responsibility for circumcision fell on Timothy and Paul could respect the necessity of Timothy fulfilling the sign of God's covenant with Israel.

Additional Note: Timothy vs. Titus

Some commentators in the past accused Paul of inconsistency since he circumcised Timothy but not Titus (cf. Gal 2:3). Timothy and Titus are both supposed to have been Gentiles. Commentators resolve the supposed conflict by asserting that Timothy was actually a Jew by virtue of his mother. We know nothing of the parents of Titus. Paul's comment in Galatians 2:3 supposedly reflects his refusal to submit to the Judaizer demand that Titus be circumcised. However, I submit that Titus was in fact a Hellenistic Jew. See my commentary on Titus 1:4.

Let's consider the actual wording of Paul's statement about Titus: "But not even Titus, who was with me, being a Hellēn, was compelled to be circumcised" (Gal 2:3 BR). If Paul had intended to label Titus as a Gentile he would have used the word ethnos, and if he had used ethnos the statement would make no sense. Paul would never have compelled a Gentile to be circumcised, since adult circumcision of Gentiles was thoroughly repugnant to him (cf. Acts 15:1-2; 1Cor 7:18; Gal 5:2, 12; Php 3:2-3). The negative adverb "not even" (Grk. oude) points to an exception to a rule. In other words, Paul did not insist that a rule that normally applied would be required of Titus. Therefore, Titus was a Hellenistic Jew. He had not been circumcised as an infant, but Paul was not going to insist on the covenantal sign be required in his case. Why?

Paul made decisions based on spiritual expediency, which is the quality of being appropriate to the goal of the decision consistent with biblical values. The duty for circumcision belongs to Jewish parents and there is no command in the Torah for adults to circumcise themselves (cf. Rom 4:15). Luke explains that the circumcision of Timothy was done for practical reasons, not because Timothy was in a state of sin while uncircumcised. Titus was likely much older than the youthful Timothy, who may have only been in his teens when Paul circumcised him.

In the case of Titus there was also no compelling reason for circumcision. As events transpired his ministry was among Hellenistic people in Corinth, Crete and Dalmatia. Moreover, Titus had experienced circumcision of the heart (cf. Rom 2:29). In Yeshua he was equal to circumcised Messianic Jews (cf. Gal 5:6; 6:15; Col 3:11) and being a recipient of God's grace made him a co-heir with them (Titus 3:7).

4 And as they were passing through the cities, they were delivering to them the decrees to be keeping, having been determined by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem.

And: Grk. de, conj. as: Grk. hōs, adv. with the primary function of connecting narrative components, used here introduce the manner of activity. they were passing through: Grk. diaporeuomai, impf. mid., 3p-pl., make a way through, pass through. The ministry team now included Paul, Silas and Timothy. the cities: pl. of Grk. ho polis, a population center whose size or number of inhabitants could range broadly, a city or town. they were delivering: Grk. paradidōmi, impf., 3p-pl., may mean (1) to deliver, hand over, or entrust; (2) to deliver a person to a custodial procedure and judicial process; (3) to hand down, pass on, transmit or relate, and used of oral or written tradition (BAG). The third meaning applies here. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The pronoun alludes to followers of Yeshua.

the decrees: pl. of Grk. dogma, a pronouncement or declaration with binding force; decree, edict or ordnance. Danker treats the noun here as an "administrative resolution" and a number of versions reduce the force of the term with "decisions." The plural form of the noun alludes to the four restrictions expected of uncircumcised believers. to be keeping: Grk. phulassō, pres. inf., may mean (1) serve as sentinel; guard, watch; (2) ensure that something remains intact; keep safe, preserve, watch; (3) 'be on guard against' or 'be on the alert against;' avoid (4) 'keep something from being violated;' keep, observe. The fourth meaning applies here. The decrees were issued with an expectation of obedience.

having been determined: Grk. krinō, perf. pass. part., judge or decide and may mean (1) make a selection between options; (2) subject to scrutiny and evaluation of behavior; or (3) draw a conclusion or come to a decision. The third meaning applies here. In the LXX krinō is used to translate three Hebrew words: din, rib and shaphat, generally in a legal context (DNTT 2:363). by: Grk. hupo, prep., signifying agency. See verse 2 above. The preposition also implies "by the authority of."

the apostles: pl. of Grk. ho apostolos, one who is sent on a mission or assignment; messenger, delegate. The term was used in Greek and Roman culture for a delegate, ambassador, envoy, emissary or official representative. Apostolos occurs one time in the LXX where it translates shaluach, Qal pass. part. of the verb shalach (SH-7971), "sent," in 1Kings 14:6 of Ahijah the prophet. Josephus also uses apostolos one time of a group of Jewish ambassadors sent to Rome to complain about the appointment of Archelaus (Ant. XVII, 11:1). The office of apostle (Heb. shaliach) was used in first century Judaism for an official messenger who acted with the full authority of the sender (Ber. 5:5).

Usually the shaliach's mission was "limited in scope and duration by definite commission and terminating on its completion" (DNTT 1:128). In the Besekh the term "apostle" is specifically applied to the original Twelve disciples (Matt 10:2), then Mattathias (Acts 1:26), Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:14) and Jacob, the half-brother of Yeshua (Gal 1:19). All the apostles named in the Besekh were Jewish. The apostles of Yeshua were so named because they had "seen the Lord," i.e., they were witnesses of his resurrected form (John 20:25; Acts 9:27; 1Cor 9:1; 15:5-9; 1Jn 1:1). The apostles spoke with the full authority of Yeshua.

and: Grk. kai, conj. elders: pl. of Grk. presbuteros may mean (1) ranked as superior in age, older, older one; or (2) ranked in terms of official responsibility, elder. The second meaning applies here. In first century Jewish culture the term was used for officers in a synagogue (Luke 7:3), of which there were usually seven (Moseley 9). Messianic congregations naturally imitated synagogue organization. Elders were chosen to give oversight to the administration and ministries of the congregation. The number of elders was variable in proportion to the size of the congregation.

in: Grk. en, prep. Jerusalem: Grk. Hierosoluma, a rough transliteration of the Heb. Yerushalayim (SH-3389), which means "possession" or "foundation of peace" (BDB 436). Hierosoluma is one of two forms of Jerusalem in Greek, the other Ierousalēm. The spelling of Hierosoluma occurs 22 times in Acts. This spelling was used for the city in the Roman province of Judea and found in the secular writings of Strabo and Dio Cassius and the Jewish writings of Philo and Josephus (BAG).

The clause "apostles and elders in Jerusalem" qualifies those present at the conference discussing the issue posed by the Judaizers. The "apostles" may intend the Eleven or just the chief apostles, such as Peter, John and Jacob. Since the Messianic congregation was viewed as all the believers in a city, the number of elders could have been based on the historic formula of appointing leaders of thousands, hundreds and possibly fifties (Ex 18:21). The Jerusalem congregation could have had as many as a thousand members, which would mean at least eleven elders. The act of sharing the contents of the letter from the Jerusalem conference to congregations beyond Syrian Antioch underscores the binding authority of the banned behavior on all followers of Yeshua.

Bruce notes that Paul's letter to the congregations of Galatia contains no mention of these edicts and suggests that this verse may not have been part of the original text of Acts. The Galatian epistle was written before the second journey began and in reaction to disturbing news from that region (Gal 1:6-7). Paul likely did not mention the Jerusalem letter in his letter to the Galatian congregations, because it was not his to share. That commission belonged to Silas. However, Paul does address the issues that necessitated the Jerusalem letter and he goes beyond the Jerusalem edicts by strongly warning about the eternal consequences for engaging in idolatry and sexual immorality (Gal 5:19-21).

5 Therefore indeed the congregations were being strengthened in faithfulness, and they were increasing in number every day.

Therefore: Grk. oun, inferential conj., used here as an indication of taking account of something in the narrative immediately preceding; therefore, now then, accordingly so. indeed: Grk. mén, a particle of affirmation; indeed, verily, truly. Many versions do not translate the particle. the congregations: pl. of Grk. ekklēsia, assembly, gathering, meeting, or congregation, used here to denote a grouping of Yeshua's disciples. In the LXX ekklēsia renders the Heb. qahal (DNTT 1:292-295), which means assembly, convocation, or congregation (BDB 874).

The noun qahal denotes the people of God in a corporate sense, often in the context of being gathered for worship or instruction (Deut 4:10; 31:30; Ps 35:18). Christian Bibles almost unanimously translate ekklēsia in this verse as "church." The word "church" is clearly an ecclesiastical term of Christianity. (See my background note on this subject here.) Four versions have "congregations" (CJB, JUB, MSG, and NMB), and the MW and TLV have "communities."

were being strengthened: Grk. stereoō, impf. pass., to make firm, establish, strengthen, make stable or steadfast. in faithfulness: Grk. ho pistis, (from peithō, "to persuade, be persuaded"), incorporates two primary facets of meaning, (1) that which causes trust and faith, i.e., faithfulness or reliability, and (2) trust or confidence in an active sense (BAG). Almost all versions translate the noun as "in the faith," which is generally taken to mean the content of the good news or apostolic doctrine. In the LXX pistis translates Heb. emunah (SH-530), firmness, steadfastness, or fidelity, mainly of men's faithfulness (1Sam 26:23; 2Kgs 12:15; 22:7; Jer 5:1, 3; 7:28; 9:3; Hos 2:20), but also of God's faithfulness (Ps 33:4; Lam 3:23; Hab 2:4).

The LXX usage emphasizes that the intended meaning of pistis is faithfulness. True faith begins with confidence or trust (Heb 11:6; cf. Heb 4:2) and then progresses into commitment, constancy or faithfulness, which includes following God's direction for life and producing works of righteousness (cf. Eph 2:8-10; Col 2:5; Jas 2:17-18). Thus, the phrase "strengthened in faithfulness" would be equivalent to "making disciples" (cf. Acts 14:21). and: Grk. kai, conj. they were increasing: Grk. perisseuō, impf., 3p-pl., may mean (1) be above or beyond in number, amount, or quality; or (2) cause to abound. The first meaning applies here, thus growing or increasing.

in number: Grk. arithmos, number or total, and may refer to a fixed or definite quantity, or an indefinite number equivalent to a multitude. every: Grk. kata, prep., the root meaning is 'down' (DM 107), but in composition may mean 'down from,' 'according to,' 'against" or 'throughout.' The preposition is used here in a distributive sense of "among." day: Grk. hēmera may refer to (1) the daylight hours from sunrise to sunset, (2) the civil or legal day that included the night, (3) an appointed day for a special purpose or (4) a longer or imprecise period (BAG). The second meaning applies here. About half the versions translate kata hēmera as "daily" and the other half "every day."

The clause may mean that the number of congregations was increasing or the membership of existing congregations was increasing, probably the latter, since all the believers in a city constituted one congregation. The body of Messiah experienced consistent numerical growth.

Closed Doors

6 Then they went through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been prevented by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.

Then: Grk. de, conj. they went through: Grk. dierchomai, aor., 3p-pl., to go through, go about. They were traveling in a northwesterly direction. the Phrygian: Grk. ho Phrugia, an ethnic district in central Asia Minor, the north-western part of which was in the Roman province of Asia and the south-eastern part in the Roman province of Galatia. Gill notes that the origin of the name Phrygia has been attributed to the river Phryx, or from the word Phrygios, which signifies "dry;" this being a very dry and sandy country. Phrygia was famous for marble stone, of which pillars and statues were made. Its principal cities were Colossae, Hierapolis, and Laodicea. Antiochus the Great transferred 2,000 Jewish families from Mesopotamia and Babylonia to Phrygia and Lydia (Josephus, Ant. XII, 3:4). Jews from Phrygia are mentioned as being present for Peter's Pentecost sermon (Acts 2:10).

and: Grk. kai, conj. Galatian: Grk. Galatikos, adj., belonging to the Roman province of Galatia in central Asia Minor, which included the districts of Paphlagonia, Galatian Pontus, Galatian Phrygia, Lycaonia, and Pisidia (Atlas 91). The ethnic Galatians were descended from Gomer, the grandson of Noah (Josephus, Ant. I, 6:1). The name "Galatians" came from the Greeks. region: Grk. chōra may refer to (1) a stretch of territory as contrasted with owned property or open country contrasted with city, region, area; or (2) an area under a proprietor, landed property or fields. The first meaning applies here. Phrygia and Galatia are mentioned in the sense of historic geographical areas rather than Roman provinces. (See the map of Phrygia and Galatia.)

having been prevented: Grk. kōluō, aor. part., to stop someone from doing something; hinder, prevent. The participle could be causal and the action is simultaneous or antecedent with the main verb (Robertson). Many versions translate the verb as "forbidden," which would imply to prohibit by command. Thus, Luke's narrative is misinterpreted. by: Grk. hupo, prep. the Holy: Grk. Ho Hagios has two distinctive uses in Scripture: (1) as an adj., meaning set apart for dedication to the interests or expectations of deity; and (2) as a pure substantive to refer to that which has been set apart (BAG). The term is used of sacred things, places, people, angels and God. In the LXX hagios translates Heb. qadosh (SH-6918), which means separate, sacred, holy, and first used of God in Leviticus 11:44.

Spirit: Grk. Pneuma (for Heb. ruach, Resh-Vav-Chet), wind, breath or spirit; here referring to the Holy Spirit. Pneuma is used for the human spirit and transcendent beings (Matt 8:16; Heb 1:14), particularly the Spirit as God's self-expression (Gen 1:2; Mark 1:10). In Scripture "holy" is only used as an adjective of "spirit" to refer to the Holy Spirit, a name or face of God. "Holy Spirit" is not the title of a separate being, because God is Spirit (John 4:24), just as God is the Word (John 1:1). All of the passages indicate that the Holy Spirit is divine, not less or other than God.

Ordinarily, one might assume that hindering of ministry is caused by hostile men or Satan (cf. 1Th 2:14-18), but on this occasion God had different plans for the ministry team. Commentators suggest that Paul received guidance from the Spirit by prophetic utterance or inward prompting. Yet, Luke makes no mention of such direct revelation, which leads to the conclusion that the "prevention" was entirely circumstantial. Paul made a practice of submitting his decisions to the sovereign will of God (Rom 1:10, 13; 15:32; 1Cor 4:19; cf. Jas 4:15), so that he was not discouraged when his plans did not succeed.

to speak: Grk. laleō, aor. inf., to make an oral statement and to exercise the faculty of speech; assert, proclaim, report, say, speak, talk about, utter. the word: Grk. logos, a vocalized expression, word, discourse, statement, message or speech. In the LXX logos stands principally for Heb. dabar, which has a range of meaning, including "speech, word, report, command, advice, counsel, thing, matter" (Gen 29:13; BDB 182) (DNTT 3:1087). "The word" is shorthand for the good news of God's grace and salvation through the atonement of Yeshua presented in a form appropriate to the audience, whether Jew or Gentile.

in: Grk. en, prep. Asia: Grk. Asia, the Roman proconsular province of Asia, roughly the western third of Asia Minor, of which Ephesus was the capital. The province of Asia included the districts of Mysia, Lydia, Caria and Phrygia and its principal cities are addressed in Revelation 1:11. The mention of Asia may hint of Paul intending to go to Ephesus, due west of Pisidian Antioch, where there was a significant Jewish population. Luke's description summarizes God's sovereign control of circumstances. There is no intention of God saying to Paul, "I don't want you telling anyone in that heathen country about Yeshua." Such supposed instruction would be contrary to the Great Commission.

Rather, while traveling through Galatia and Phrygia there must have been unusual circumstantial events that were regarded as providential warnings of trouble on the route to Ephesus, whether civil strife in the region against the Romans or harsh weather. Whatever the reason Paul decided to head north instead of west and there was no checking of the Spirit for this change in direction. As events unfolded God clearly had a providential appointment for Paul elsewhere and the evangelization of Asia was reserved for his third journey.

7 And having come down to Mysia, they were attempting to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Yeshua did not allow them.

And: Grk. de, conj. having come: Grk. erchomai, aor. part., 'to come or arrive' with focus on a position from which action or movement takes place. down to: Grk. kata, prep. Mysia: Grk. Musia, a district of the north-west part of the province of Asia. Among its cities are Pergamum, Troas, and Assos. they were attempting: Grk. peirazō, impf., may mean (1) make an effort to do something in the face of uncertainty about the outcome; try, attempt; or (2) make a trial of the quality or state of someone's character or claims as an inducement for producing some kind of action, whether positive or negative; tempt, test. The first meaning applies here.

to go: Grk. poreuomai, aor. pass. inf., may mean (1) to move from one area to another; go, journey, make one's way, transport, travel; or (2) in an ethical sense, to conduct oneself, live, walk. The first meaning is intended here. In the LXX poreuomai renders mainly Heb. halak (SH-1980), to go, come, or walk, with the same range of meaning (DNTT 3:946). into: Grk. eis, prep. Bithynia: Grk. Bithunia, a Roman province, north-west of the province of Asia and south-west of the Black Sea. The full name of the province was Bithynia and Pontus. See the map here. There were Jewish settlements in Bithynia and Pontus (Philo, On the Embassy to Gaius, 281). Jewish pilgrims from Pontus were present for Peter's Pentecost sermon (Acts 2:9) and Peter addressed disciples in Pontus and Bithynia in his first letter (1Pet 1:1).

but: Grk. kai, conj. the Spirit: Grk. Pneuma. See the previous verse. of Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("Jesus" in Christian Bibles). Yeshua is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y’hoshua ("Joshua"), which means "YHVH [the LORD] is salvation" (BDB 221). The meaning of his name is explained to Joseph by an angel of the Lord, "You shall call his name Yeshua, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matt 1:21). For more information on the meaning our Lord's name, his Jewish identity, and his principal titles see my web article Who is Yeshua? Luke affirms that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Yeshua, an expression that occurs in only one other verse (Php 1:19). The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to carry out the will of the Son.

did not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in an unqualified denial or negation; not. allow: Grk. eao, aor., to let something happen or take place or to permit someone to do as he wishes. The basic idea is the removal of a perceived impediment to desired action. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Paul, Silas and Timothy. Apparently the apostles decided to go into Bithynia as a test of the Spirit's guidance, but this time the hindrance is described in more personal terms. Luke essentially says, "Yeshua did not allow them," implying direct guidance.

8 So, having passed by Mysia, they came down to Troas.

So: Grk. de, conj. having passed by: Grk. parerchomai, pl. aor. part., may mean either (1) to move spatially from one position to another, to go past or pass by, (2) or to come to an end and so no longer be on the scene, to pass away. The first meaning applies here. Mysia: Grk. Musia, a district in the northwest part of the province of Asia. The first clause describes the team as traveling through the district without stopping in order to reach their destination. they came down: Grk. katabainō, aor., to proceed in a direction that is down; go down, come down, descend. The verb vividly depicts the change of elevation from hilly terrain to the coastal plain.

to: Grk. eis, prep. Troas: Grk. Trōas, "Alexandria Troas," a harbor city of Mysia. Troas was founded at the end of the fourth century BC and remained a free city until Caesar Augustus gave it the status of a Roman colony. It was a regular port of call for vessels journeying between proconsular Asia and Macedonia, and an important center in the Roman system of communication (Bruce). The chief city of northwest Asia Minor would become the gateway to Europe for the good news of Yeshua.

The Call to Macedonia, 16:9-12

9 And during the night a vision appeared to Paul: a certain Macedonian man was standing and urging him and saying, "Cross over into Macedonia; help us."

And: Grk. kai, conj. during: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 3 above. The preposition is used here as a reference to continuing time. the night: Grk. nux, night as a chronological period, sunset to sunrise. The noun alludes to the Jewish day beginning at sunset. a vision: Grk. horama, something that is seen by virtue of a transcendent or revelatory experience; vision. The term refers to a pictographic image seen with the eyes, not a mental insight. In the LXX horama translates six different Hebrew words that mean "vision," generally in regard to divine revelatory experiences of the patriarchs and the prophets. Previously in Acts visions were experienced by Moses (7:31), Ananias (9:10), Saul (9:12), Cornelius (10:3) and Peter (10:17).

appeared: Grk. horaō, aor. pass., to perceive physically with the eye, or in a fig. sense to experience something or to have extraordinary mental or inward perception. The verb is intended in the literal sense. to Paul: See verse 3 above. Paul may have already been awake, perhaps in prayer, or he was awakened by God. a certain: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun, a certain one, someone, anyone, anything. This pronoun is often used to distinguish someone in a class or in contrast to others. Most versions don't translate the pronoun. Macedonian: Grk. Makedōn, an inhabitant of Macedonia. man: Grk. anēr, an adult man without regard to marital status. In the LXX anēr renders several Heb. words, primarily Heb. ish (SH-376), man (Gen 2:23) (DNTT 2:562).

The Greek word order "anēr Makedōn tis" imitates Hebrew syntax. Luke does not explain how Paul knew the man was Macedonian. The suggestion of some commentators that Paul recognized Macedonian dress raises more questions than answers. More likely is the suggestion of a number of commentators that the man was in fact an angel assigned to Macedonia. In Scripture angels do not have wings but appear as ordinary men, although sometimes in bright clothing (Gen 18:1, 22; 19:1-8; Jdg 13:6-9; Dan 9:15, 21; 10:16, 18; Mark 16:5; Luke 24:4). Also, some angels seem to have territorial or national oversight as Michael is the prince of Israel (Dan 10:21; 12:1; Jude 1:9).

was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. standing: Grk. histēmi, perf. part., may mean (1) cause to be in a place or position; (2) to be in an upright position; (3) to set or place in a balance; (4) fig. to stand ready, to be of a steadfast mind. The second meaning applies here. and: Grk. kai. urging: Grk. parakaleō, pres. part.. may mean (1) call to be at one's side or summon to one's aid, with a connotation of urgency; invite, entreat, urge; (2) hearten in time of trouble; comfort, console; or (3) to motivate performance; exhort, encourage. The first meaning is intended here. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Paul. and: Grk. kai. saying: Grk. legō, pres. part., to make a statement or utterance, whether oral or in written form; say, tell, declare. In the LXX legō renders Heb. amar (SH-559), to utter, say, command or think.

Cross over: Grk. diabainō, aor. part., to step across a spatial area; cross over. Since the verb is prefaced by the participle "urging," then diabainō is being used for an entreaty. into: Grk. eis, prep. Macedonia: Grk. Makedonia, a Roman province north of Achaia. Prior to Roman occupation Macedonia was the strongest military power in the region and under Alexander the Great the Macedonians conquered the Persians and spread Hellenistic culture throughout the world. The Roman province of Macedonia was established in 146 BC. Principal cities included Neapolis, Philippi, Amphipolis, Apollonia, Thessalonica, and Berea, with Thessalonica as the capital and Berea as the seat of the provincial assembly. See the map here. The entreaty hints at the fact that the Aegean Sea separated Troas from Macedonia. Also, the call was to claim the entire province for the Messiah, not just one city.

help: Grk. boētheō, aor. imp., come to aid of; help, assist. The verb has emotional content and denotes an appeal to run and meet an urgent need, to give immediate aid (HELPS). The verb is equivalent to dialing 9-1-1. us: pl. of Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. The appeal likely represented actual intercessory prayer to God, perhaps by a certain women's prayer group (verse 13 below). Angels sometimes facilitate communication from God, either directly or through dreams and visions (Gen 31:11; Matt 1:20; 2:12-13, 19; Luke 1:11-17, 26-37; Acts 8:26; 10:3-6; 27:22-23; Rev 1:1; 10:1-2; 14:6-8; 17:1). In this instance the request likely reflects the prayers of seekers in Philippi (verse 13 below).

10 And after he saw the vision, immediately we sought to go forth into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.

And: Grk. de, conj. after: Grk. hōs, adv. See verse 4 above. The adverb has a temporal meaning here. he saw: Grk. horaō, aor. See the previous verse. the vision: Grk. ho horama. See the previous verse. immediately: Grk. eutheōs, adv., immediately, forthwith, or right away. The adverb is a dramatic device that energizes the narrative, often shifting the reader's attention to another scene. we sought: Grk. zēteō, aor., to seek or search for. In this context the verb indicates seeking a ship bound for the destination. The first person plural of the verb alludes to the fact that while in Troas Paul's team was joined by Luke, the physician (Col 4:14) and author of The Acts. The name of Luke appears only three times in the Besekh (Col 4:14; 2Tim 4:11; Phm 1:24), and none at all in the Acts.

Three pieces of information come from the church fathers. First, Eusebius said that Luke was from Syrian Antioch (Church History, Book III, §4:7), as does Jerome (Lives of Illustrious Men, Chap. 7). Second, according to Hippolytus (170-236; On the Seventy Apostles) Luke was one of the seventy disciples Yeshua sent on a special mission (Luke 10:1). Yeshua would not have sent any Gentiles. Luke alludes to his association with Yeshua by referring to "the things accomplished among us" (Luke 1:1). Luke does not say "among the Jews" or "in Israel." He clearly means "us" as including himself as among those whom Yeshua conducted his ministry. And, Luke is the only one to record the mission of the Seventy.

Third, Clement of Alexandria (200 A.D.) said that Paul wrote the epistle "Hebrews" in Hebrew and Luke translated it into Greek for Hellenists (Eusebius, Church History, VI, 14:2). The ease with which Luke introduces himself into the narrative suggests that he had met Paul on some prior occasion, perhaps even before Paul's first Diaspora journey. Certainly from this point on Luke will be more or less a constant companion of Paul. The "we" passages in Acts continue until 16:17, resume at 20:5 and continue to the end of the book. No more is known of Luke after Paul's mention of him in his last letter to Timothy.

to go forth: Grk. exerchomai, aor. inf. See verse 3 above. into: Grk. eis, prep. Macedonia: See the previous verse. concluding: Grk. sumbibazō, pl. pres. part., to make a case for, to prove; demonstrate. HELPS explains the verb means to grasp a truth by intertwining ideas needed to come to the necessary judgment or conclusion. Paul's team accepted that Paul had been given supernatural revelation and they should act upon it. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 3 above. God: Grk. ho theos. In the LXX theos primarily renders Heb. El and Elohim ("God," over 2500 times) (DNTT 2:67-70). The only God in existence is the triune God who created the heavens and the earth (Gen 1:1) and who chose Israel for a covenantal relationship (Ex 19:5). In the Besekh theos is used overwhelmingly for the God of Israel.

had called: Grk. proskaleō, perf. mid., call to one's presence; call for, invite, summon. The verb is used here of a divine appointment and assignment. The perfect tense points to a time in the past when the appointment occurred, and reflects the sovereign planning of God. us: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. The "us" now includes Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke. to proclaim the good news: Grk. euangelizō, aor. mid. inf., to announce the good message, specifically God's salvation, to "not-yet-believers." In the LXX euangelizō stands for Heb. basar, to publish or bring news or a report, whether good or bad (DNTT 2:108-109). to them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., the people of Macedonia.

For Jewish audiences the proclamation of the good news included (1) the promise and preparation for the coming of the Messiah with a review of biblical history; (2) the fulfillment of Messianic promises made to the patriarchs and Israel; (3) the narrative of the servant ministry, crucifixion, burial, resurrection and exaltation of Yeshua; and (4) an application to the audience and an appeal to repent in order to receive the forgiveness of God (cf. Acts 2:14-39; 13:16-41). For God-fearing Gentiles the message omitted the first two elements and focused on the last two (cf. Acts 10:34-43). For pagan Gentiles the message begins by declaring that the God of Israel is the only true God and the creator of the heavens and the earth and includes an appeal to turn from idols to the God of Israel (cf. Acts 14:15-17).

And: Grk. de, conj. after: Grk. hōs, adv. See verse 4 above. The adverb has a temporal meaning here. he saw: Grk. horaō, aor. See the previous verse. the vision: Grk. ho horama. See the previous verse. immediately: Grk. eutheōs, adv., immediately, forthwith, or right away. The adverb is a dramatic device that energizes the narrative, often shifting the reader's attention to another scene. we sought: Grk. zēteō, aor., to seek or search for. In this context the verb indicates seeking a ship bound for the destination. The first person plural of the verb alludes to the fact that while in Troas Paul's team was joined by Luke, the physician (Col 4:14) and author of The Acts. The name of Luke appears only three times in the Besekh (Col 4:14; 2Tim 4:11; Phm 1:24), and none at all in the Acts.

Three pieces of information come from the church fathers. First, Eusebius said that Luke was from Syrian Antioch (Church History, Book III, §4:7), as does Jerome (Lives of Illustrious Men, Chap. 7). Second, according to Hippolytus (170-236; On the Seventy Apostles) Luke was one of the seventy disciples Yeshua sent on a special mission (Luke 10:1). Yeshua would not have sent any Gentiles. Luke alludes to his association with Yeshua by referring to "the things accomplished among us" (Luke 1:1). Luke does not say "among the Jews" or "in Israel." He clearly means "us" as including himself as among those whom Yeshua conducted his ministry. And, Luke is the only one to record the mission of the Seventy.

Third, Clement of Alexandria (200 A.D.) said that Paul wrote the epistle "Hebrews" in Hebrew and Luke translated it into Greek for Hellenists (Eusebius, Church History, VI, 14:2). The ease with which Luke introduces himself into the narrative suggests that he had met Paul on some prior occasion, perhaps even before Paul's first Diaspora journey. Certainly from this point on Luke will be more or less a constant companion of Paul. The "we" passages in Acts continue until 16:17, resume at 20:5 and continue to the end of the book. No more is known of Luke after Paul's mention of him in his last letter to Timothy.

11 So, having put out to sea from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and the next day to Neapolis,

So: Grk. de, conj. having put out to sea: Grk. anagō (from ana, "up," and agō, "lead or bring"), aor. part., to lead up or bring up, but used here as a nautical technical term; put to sea, set sail. from: Grk. apo, prep., used generally as a marker of separation; from, away from. Troas: Grk. Trōas. See verse 8 above. The ship sailed in a northwesterly direction. See the map here. we ran a straight course: Grk. euthudromeō, aor., 1p-pl., a nautical term that means to sail swiftly across the water toward the destination without deviation, equivalent to running before the wind. to: Grk. eis, prep. Samothrace: Grk. Samothrakē, "Samos of Thrace," an island in the Aegean, south of the province of Thrace. The island, about 20 miles in circumference, took its name from being populated by inhabitants from Samos and Thrace. It was an asylum for fugitives and criminals (Barnes). Samothrace was also the seat of a mystery cult, worship of Cabiri (Bruce).

and: Grk. kai, conj. the next day: Grk. epiousa, pres. part., the following day. After the manner of the navigation of the time, the mariners had put into harbor for the night (Ellicott). The apostolic team did not remain at Samothrace to proclaim the good news, but pressed on in obedience to go to Macedonia. to: Grk. eis. Neapolis: Grk. Neapolis (from neas, "new," and polis, "city"), a seaport located about twelve miles from Philippi in northeastern Macedonia. The city sits on a neck of land between two bays, each of which serves as harbors. A Roman aqueduct, columns, and Greek and Latin inscriptions remain to attest the former importance of the city. The travel time from Troas to Neapolis, thanks to the wind and current took two days, whereas the return trip in 20:6 took five days.

12 and from there to Philippi, which is a city of the first district of Macedonia, a Roman colony. Now we were in this city, staying some days.

and from there: Grk. kakeithen, conj., (derived from kai, "and," and ekeithen "from there, from that place"), a marker of movement from a position of place or time, here of the former. The adverb alludes to the mention of Neapolis in the previous verse. to: Grk. eis, prep. Philippi: Grk. Philippoi, a prominent city of Macedonia. Situated between the rivers Strymon and Nestus, the city was near the cities of Neapolis and Amphipolis. The city was named for Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great. which: Grk. hostis, relative pronoun used as a generalizing reference to the subject of a verb or a preceding entity; who, which. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. a city: Grk. polis. See verse 4 above.

of the first: Grk. prōtos, adj., having to do with beforeness, whether (1) indicating primary position in sequence; first, earlier, earliest; (2) standing out in significance or importance, or (3) adverbially denoting first of all, at the first. The first meaning applies here. Most versions opt for the second meaning treating the adjective as modifying "city," but the Greek sentence has the adjective modifying the following noun. district: Grk. ho meris, portion, here as a portion of an entity that has been divided. of Macedonia: See verse 9 above. The description "first district" or Macedonia Prima, alludes to the four districts of Macedonia into which the former Hellenistic kingdom had been divided (Bruce). The boundaries of the four districts are described by the Roman historian Titus Livius (History of Rome, 45:29).

a Roman colony: Grk. kolōnia, a Roman city settlement. A Roman colony was like a piece of Rome or Italy transplanted abroad (Rienecker). In 42 B.C., Philippi was the site of a decisive battle that determined the future of the Roman empire. The forces of Octavian (later to be Augustus Caesar, the first emperor) and Antony defeated the army of Brutus and Cassius. In honor of the victory, Antony settled some Roman soldiers there and made Philippi a Roman colony. After defeating Antony at the Battle of Actium in 31 B.C., the victorious Octavian dispossessed the supporters of Antony from Italy, but he allowed them to settle in places like Philippi. Octavian continued the status of Philippi as a Roman colony.

Now: Grk. de, conj. we were: Grk. eimi, impf., 1p-pl. The first person verb indicates the team of Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke. in: Grk. en, prep. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 3 above. city: Grk. polis; i.e. Philippi. staying: Grk. diatribō, pres. part., to spend time, to continue or stay in a place. The verb implies residence of an extended stay. some: pl. of Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 9 above. days: pl. of Grk. hēmera. See verse 5 above. The time reference of "some days" is another of Luke's indefinite time periods and considering the narrative of this chapter it may have lasted several weeks.

Encounter with Lydia, 16:13-15

13 And on the day of the Sabbath we went outside the gate by a river, where prayer was accustomed to be, and having sat down we began speaking to the women having gathered.

And: Grk. te, conj. used to connect an idea closely to another in a manner that is tighter than with kai; also, both. on the day: Grk. ho hēmera. See verse 5 above. of the Sabbath: pl. of Grk. sabbaton, a transliteration of Heb. shabbath (DNTT 3:405), which is derived from the verb shabath ("cease, desist, rest" BDB 991). In the commandments given at Sinai (Ex 20:8) and Moab (Deut 5:12) the instruction to rest is set in contrast to the work that provides one's livelihood. Sabbaton occurs 68 times in the Besekh, generally of the seventh day of the week (e.g. Matt 12:5; Mark 2:27; Luke 4:16; John 19:31). As faithful traditional Jews Paul and his team observed the Sabbath (Saturday), not to be confused with the Lord's day (Sunday). For the biblical background and Torah instructions regarding Sabbath observance see my web article Remember the Sabbath.

The plural form of the noun used here often denotes seven days or a week (cf. Matt 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1; Acts 20:7). Thus, the phrase "the day of the Sabbaths" may allude to the Jewish practice of numbering the days of the week from the Sabbath as (1) echad Shabbat, first day of the week; (2) teren Shabbat, second day of the week; (3) shelishi Shabbat, third day of the week; (4) b'rebii Shabbat, fourth day of the week; (5) chamishi shabbat, fifth day of the week; (6) erev Shabbat, the sixth day of the week and the eve of the Sabbath (Lightfoot 2:375-376). So, "the day of the Sabbaths" (yom Shabbat) would mean the last, or seventh day of the week.

we went: Grk. exerchomai, aor. See verse 3 above. outside: Grk. exō, adv. of place, outside, used of a position that beyond a limit or boundary. the gate: Grk. pulē may refer to a large door or door-gate or an entrance-gate to a city. The latter usage is intended here. by: Grk. para, prep., close beside, alongside of. a river: Grk. potamos, a river, torrent or stream. A small river, the Gangites which flows into the Strymon, was situated about a 1½ miles west of the city (Longenecker). where: Grk. hou, adv., in what place. a place of prayer: Grk. proseuchē is used to mean (1) a petition to deity, often appearing in contexts of worship, personal requests and intercession for others; and (2) a place of prayer, especially among Jews and nearly always equivalent to "synagogue" (BAG). The second usage applies here.

In the LXX proseuchē renders Heb. tephillah (SH-8605), prayer or petition, typically directed to the one true God, the God of Israel (DNTT 2:863). Proseuchē also occurs in Jewish literature to denote a synagogue building (3Macc. 7:20; Philo, Flaccus §VII.48-49, §XIV.122; On the Embassy to Gaius §XX, XLIII, XLIV; and Josephus, Autobiography §54). was accustomed: Grk. nomizō, impf., may mean (1) to practice what is customary; or (2) to determine on the basis of ordinary reasoning. The first meaning is intended here (AMPC, JUB, MEV, NKJV, NMB, RGT). to be: Grk. eimi, pres. inf. See verse 1 above. Synagogues were frequently built by running water in order to eliminate the need for constructing a mikveh for ritual immersion (Stern).

and: Grk. kai, conj. having sat down: Grk. kathizō, aor. part., to sit or to take one's seat. In Jewish settings sitting is the posture for learning. Given the location and the lack of a building the men sat on the ground. Pallets would have been spread on the ground for the sake of cleanliness. we began speaking: Grk. laleō, impf., 1p-pl., to make an oral statement and to exercise the faculty of speech; proclaim, report, say, speak, tell, utter. Luke includes himself in the speaking. Apparently, the apostolic team shared by turns. to the women: pl. of Grk. gunē, an adult female person, without respect to age, marital or social status except as defined in the context. In the LXX gunē renders the Heb. ishshah ("woman, wife"). The plural noun could include wives and widows.

having gathered: Grk. sunerchomai, aor. part. (derived from sun, "with" and erchomai, "to come or arrive"), to come together, here with the focus on the gathering of a collection of persons. Since Luke mentions no synagogue in Philippi, the general assumption is that there were not the minimum ten men to form an official congregation. In Judaism a minyan, a quorum of at least ten men, is required for certain religious obligations, particularly public prayer services (Mishnah, Megillah 3:2, 23b). Stern comments that the lack of Jewish men probably owed to the order of Caesar Claudius who expelled the Jews from Rome in AD 49/50. Being a Roman-controlled city, Philippi followed suit. (The Jews were not allowed to return to Rome until 54 at the accession of Nero.)

In consequence, it is likely that a few Jews were passed over by the expulsion order, along with other Jews who formerly lived in Philippi but now lived outside it nearby, did not have a building in which to meet and instead gathered together at the river’s edge. So Luke's report does not mean there were no Jewish men in the area, but this gathering was composed predominately of women. Longenecker suggests the women were gathered to recite the Shema, to pray the Shemoneh Esreh, to read from the Law and the Prophets, to discuss what they had read, and, if possible, to hear from a traveling Jewish teacher an exposition or exhortation and receive a blessing. These are characteristics of a Sabbath service

One other matter is important to consider. The apostolic team would have arrived sometime during the week, since as observant Jews they would not travel on the Sabbath unless there was no other alternative. Upon arrival they would seek out friendly residents for the sake of providing lodging for the four men and an introduction to the Jewish community in accordance with Yeshua's instruction (Matt 10:11). Luke informs us in verse 15 and 40 below that they found such a household. A number of versions translate the verb nomizō to mean "supposed," which implies that Jews typically held prayer meetings by rivers and Paul went hunting for this gathering. This translation misses the point. Paul would have learned the location of the place of prayer from his hostess.

14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple of the city of Thyatira, one worshipping God, was listening, of whom the Lord opened her heart to attend to the things being spoken by Paul

And: Grk. de, conj. a certain: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 9 above. woman: Grk. gunē, an adult female person, without respect to age, marital or social status except as defined in the context. In the LXX gunē renders the Heb. ishshah ("woman, wife"). named: Grk. onoma. See verse 1 above. Lydia: Grk. Ludia, a name meaning "from Lydia," a region on the west coast of Asia Minor. a seller of purple: Grk. porphuropōlis, a seller of purple fabrics. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. The description indicates that Lydia was a business woman, not a common occurrence in ancient Greece. of the city: Grk. polis. See verse 4 above.

of Thyatira: Grk. Thuateira, a city of the old district Lydia, in the Roman province of Asia. The city was located on the road from Pergamum to Sardis and situated on the south bank of the Lycus River. The city was a thriving manufacturing and commercial center in the first century. Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of many trade guilds and unions. Thyatira was famous for its dyeing and there was a great demand for this fabric as it was used for the official toga at Rome and in Roman colonies (Robertson). one worshipping: Grk. sebō, pres. mid. part., have a worshipful reverence for, worship. Some versions have "devout" or "God-fearing." As a participle sebō describes both the action and the nature of the subject. God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 10 above. Lydia rejected the idol worship of the culture and worshipped only the God of Israel.

Bible commentators assume Lydia was a Gentile, but the description does not make such identification certain. The verb sebō is used of traditional Jews (Matt 15:9; Mark 7:7), Hellenistic Jews (Acts 17:4) and proselytes of the gate (Acts 13:48). The expression "worshipping God" might imply she was equivalent to a female Pharisee (Sotah 3:4) and thus be Jewish, but most likely she was a Gentile after the manner of the "gate proselytes" in Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:43). She could have been the widow of a gate proselyte and thus inherited the business from her husband. She probably learned about Judaism in Thyatira where there was a strong Jewish community.

was listening: Grk. akouō, impf., to hear aurally, often with the focus on willingness to listen or to heed the substance of what is said. In the LXX akouō consistently stands for Heb. shama, which not only means to apprehend, but also to accept and to act upon what has been apprehended (DNTT 2:173). of whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. the Lord: Grk. ho kurios may mean either (1) 'one in control through possession,' and therefore owner or master; or (2) 'one esteemed for authority or high status,' thus lord or master. In the LXX kurios occurs over 9,000 times, the great majority of times to replace Heb. YHVH (DNTT 2:511). Luke probably intends the title as a reference to Yeshua. Generally Luke uses kurios to refer to Yeshua, because he is the owner-master of his disciples. In this context "Lord" might allude to ADONAI.

opened: Grk. dianoigō, aor., to open up, from dia ("through") and anoigō, "open." The verb is used here of spiritual illumination and inspiration. her heart: Grk. ho kardia, the pumplike organ of blood circulation, used fig. of selfhood or the combination of character, emotion, intelligence and the will. In the LXX kardia renders Heb. lebab (SH-3824), inner man, mind, heart, will (DNTT 2:181). to attend: Grk. prosechō, pres. inf., be on the alert, which may be used of (1) putting up one's guard; beware, take heed; or (2) of giving attention to personal obligation; take care, pay attention to. The second usage applies here. The verb indicates a readiness for the message being proclaimed.

to the things: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. The pronoun alludes to the various elements of the good news. being spoken: Grk. laleō, pres. mid. part. See verse 6 above. by: Grk. hupo, prep. Paul: See verse 3 above. Luke indicates that Paul was the main spokesman for the team. He took the opportunity afforded by the prayer meeting to proclaim the good news of Yeshua.

15 And after she was immersed, and her household, she urged, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, having entered into my house, remain." And she persuaded us.

And: Grk. de, conj. after: Grk. hōs, adv. See verse 4 above. The adverb is used here with a temporal sense. she was immersed: Grk. baptizō, aor. pass., means to dip, soak, or immerse into a liquid. There is no pronoun so the subject is assumed. Baptizō occurs only three times in the LXX in relation to water: 2Kings 5:14 (re: Naaman); Sirach 34:25; and Judith 12:7. These three passages report incidents of self-immersion in water (DNTT 1:144). In Scripture baptizō never means a rite performed by sprinkling or pouring water on someone. Also, the immersion is conducted in a body of water deep enough that by squatting one is fully submerged.

The passive voice of the verb (which denotes receiving action) does not mean that anyone personally put hands on Lydia to accomplish the immersion. No direct agent is mentioned. The passive voice alludes to Lydia receiving instruction to be immersed and complying with that instruction (cf. Acts 2:38; 8:12; 10:47-48). As a convert to Judaism Lydia would have followed the Jewish rules for immersion. First, Jewish immersion was (and is) self-immersion. No one from the apostolic team assisted her under the water. Moreover, no Jewish man would put his hands on a woman who was not his wife.

We can't even be sure that any of the apostolic team witnessed the immersion, because Jewish immersion is gender-specific. That is, men are not present when women immerse and vice versa for the sake of modesty (Gerim 60b). Lydia may have simply reported its accomplishment. Christian baptism would greatly benefit from adopting this practice. Lydia might have conducted her immersion in the river, but being a wealthy woman she could also have had a mikveh (pool) at her house for bathing and ritual purification purposes.

and: Grk. kai, conj. her: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. household: Grk. ho oikos, a structure for habitation; house, home and by extension the household of that dwelling. In the LXX oikos translates Heb. bayit (SH-1004) with the same range of meaning. Since the phrase follows the verb "immersed" then oikos refers to those that made up Lydia's household, whether family members and/or servants. There is no implication that the members of Lydia's household were compelled to immerse, but voluntarily immersed on the ground of belief in the good news. Among Jews ablutions of all kinds are not performed by people under bar/bat mitzvah age when a boy or girl became fully accountable to the Torah and considered to be adult. Thus, only adults were immersed. (See Ron Moseley, The Jewish Background of Christian Baptism.)

she urged: Grk. parakaleō, aor. See verse 9 above. saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 9 above. The verb "urged" emphasizes that a verbal entreaty was made and "said" introduces the quotation. If: Grk. ei, conj., a contingency marker, generally used to introduce a circumstance assumed to be valid for the sake of argument. you have judged: Grk. krinō, perf., may mean (1) make a selection between options; (2) subject to scrutiny and evaluation of behavior; or (3) draw a conclusion. The third meaning applies here. In the LXX krinō is used to translate three Hebrew words: din, rib and shaphat, generally in a legal context (DNTT 2:363). me: first person pronoun. to be: Grk. eimi, pres. inf. See verse 1 above.

faithful: Grk. pistos, adj., may mean (1) characterized by constancy and therefore worthy of trust; or (2) believing or trusting with commitment. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX pistos translates the participle of the Heb. verb aman (SH-539), made firm or sure, lasting (first in Num 12:7). to the Lord: Grk. ho kurios. See the previous verse. Lydia may have meant "Yeshua." having entered: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. part., to go or enter into a geographical area, manufactured structure or other place defined in the context. The aorist tense points to the past of the apostolic team entering Lydia's house for lodging upon their arrival in the city. into: Grk. eis, prep. my: first person pronoun. house: Grk. ho oikos. The noun refers here to the structure. remain: Grk. menō, aor. imp., to be in a situation for a length of time, to remain or stay. The verb stresses constancy (DNTT 3:224).

And: Grk. kai. she persuaded: Grk. parabiazomai, aor., to compel, using words that powerfully "hit home" and hence are persuasive or successful (HELPS). us: pl. first person pronoun, which includes the entire team of Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke. Lydia was a strong woman and her argument may have been a little manipulative. Her premise "If you consider me faithful" sets up a logical argument. If Paul refused to remain under her roof he would be declaring her to be unfaithful. Lydia's argument also points out that Paul and his team had benefited from her hospitality, so they owe her something. She desired payment in the form of fellowship and further instruction in the faith.

Demonic Distraction and Deliverance, 16:16-18

16 Now it happened in our going to the place of prayer, a certain slave girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing much profit to her masters fortune-telling.

Now: Grk. de, conj. it happened: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid., to transition from one state or condition to another, to become. The verb is used here to mean something coming to pass or taking place. in our: pl. first person pronoun. going: Grk. poreuomai, pres. mid. part. See verse 7 above. to the place of prayer: Grk. ho proseuchē. See verse 13 above. The four members of the apostolic team were walking through the city from their place of lodging to go place of prayer by the river. There is no necessary implication that the women conducted prayer services on weekdays as would be typical if there were ten men. Yet, Paul and his team members, may have determined to keep the practice of a daily prayer service in order to intercede for their mission. There was something highly symbolic about going to the place where a synagogue might have been constructed and treat that place as holy ground.

a certain: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. slave girl: Grk. paidiskē, a female slave. having: Grk. echō, pres. part., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. a spirit: Grk. pneuma. See verse 6 above. The term is not used of the girl's own spirit or a personal attitude, but a foreign evil spirit. of divination: Grk. puthōn, an oracular daemon which transmits messages through a person. Such a spirit claimed to foretell the future and to discover hidden knowledge (AMP). The term originated from Python, a serpent said to have guarded the oracle at Delphi and been slain by Apollo. The term came to designate a spirit of divination, then also a ventriloquist, who was believed to have such a spirit dwelling in his belly (BAG).

met: Grk. hupantaō, aor. inf., draw up close for encounter; meet, go to meet. us: pl. first person pronoun. The grammatical construction implies that the girl sought out the apostolic team. This was no chance encounter. who: Grk. hostis, relative pronoun used as a generalizing reference to the subject of a verb or a preceding entity; who, which. was bringing: Grk. parechō, impf., to cause something to be present for the other, to bring about or to furnish. much: Grk. polus, adj., extensive in scope, here denoting quantity. profit: Grk. ergasia may refer to (1) engagement in act of production, business, trade; or (2) benefit derived from work, gain, profit. The second meaning applies here. to her: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. owners: pl. of Grk. ho kurios. See verse 14 above. Being a slave meant being the property of someone, and the plural noun indicates joint ownership. The girl was a victim of double bondage.

fortune-telling: Grk. manteuomai, pres. mid. part., to communicate knowledge through contact with a transcendent source, to soothsay, to give an oracle. The term is employed in the LXX of lying prophets (Rienecker). Many modern people regard fortune telling as a form of entertainment, an item of pop culture with no connection to the occult. Fortune telling is dismissed by the scientific community and scientific skeptics as being based on magical thinking and superstition. However, the Bible tells the truth when it describes the dangers of evil spirits in the world and prohibits practices that involve evil spirits (Lev 19:26; Deut 18:10-12; Mic 5:12; Gal 5:20). According to Kurt Koch the practice of fortune-telling includes five different practices that date well into ancient times (19):

1. Divination with a rod and pendulum: practices in which the seeker employs a swinging pendulum or some other device to find a lost or hidden object, to dowse for water, to foretell the future or to request guidance from the spirit world.

2. Astrology: use of horoscopes and related practices to divine information about human affairs and events by studying the movements and relative positions of celestial objects. Astrology was widely practiced in all the ancient empires.

3. Palmistry: the claim of characterization and foretelling the future through the study of the palm. This art was invented by the Babylonian priests.

4. Card-laying: a form of fortune-telling. The Romans were the first to use this form of fortune-telling, the cards they used being in the form of small wax tablets.

5. Psychometric clairvoyance: a form of extrasensory perception characterized by the claimed ability to make relevant associations from an object of unknown history by making physical contact with that object. This practice began in the time of the Romans.

All of these types of fortune-telling were sources of significant income to practitioners. People were eager to believe that those guided by spirits could provide answers to troubling questions. Little did people realize that involvement in the spirit world provided the opportunity for Satan to gain a foothold in their lives, leading to bondage and oppression. That danger still exists today.

17 She, having followed Paul and us, was crying out, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation."

She: Grk. autos, fem. personal pronoun. having followed: Grk. katakoloutheō, aor. part., follow along or follow after. This verb occurs only twice in the Besekh (also Luke 23:55). Paul: See verse 3 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. us: pl. pronoun of the first person, alluding to the apostolic team. was crying out: Grk. krazō, impf., may mean (1) to utter a loud cry; scream, cry out, or (2) express something with a vigorous voice; call out, which fits this situation. In the LXX krazō renders five different Hebrew verbs with variations of meaning from a shout of war, the cry of childbirth, the wild call of a bird or cries of individuals to God in distress (DNTT 1:409). The young woman was yelling at the people in the street as the apostolic team made their way through the city.

These: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this. men: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos, human being, man or mankind, used here of an adult male. In the LXX anthrōpos renders three Hebrew words: (1) adam, SH-444, a human male (e.g., Gen 1:26-27); (2) ish, SH-376, adult male or husband (Gen 2:23-24) and (3) enosh, SH-582, man or mankind (Ps 8:4-5) (DNTT 2:564). Two versions inexplicably opt for a gender neutral translation of "people" (CEB, NABRE) and two versions omit the noun completely (NJB, NLV).

are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. servants: pl. of Grk. doulos can mean either slave or servant, and in Greek and Roman culture viewed as owned property totally and unquestioningly at the behest of the owner. In the LXX doulos translates the Heb. ebed, which did include the meaning of doulos but with a much broader application. In the Tanakh ebed is especially used of household servants, those who worked for the King and those who served God, especially service in the temple (DNTT 3:593). Applied to Paul and his companions the term does not indicate employment but religious devotion.

of the Most High: Grk. ho hupsistos, adj., a superlative that means being positioned at the uttermost upward point in status, generally translated as "Most High" as a name for God. In the LXX hupsistos renders the Heb. Elyon. In the Tanakh the Hebrew name Elyon occurs often as a synonym of Elohim and YHVH (e.g. Num 24:16). God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 10 above. God is first called El Elyon ("God most high") in Genesis 14:18-20, where Abraham tithed to the Melchizedek, the priest of El Elyon. This name of God emphasizes that He dwells in the highest heavens (Deut 10:14; Ps 68:33; 148:4). The term was also used by non-Israelite peoples (Num 24:16; Isa 14:14; Dan 3:26). In Gentile culture the title "God Most High" was a common way of referring to the supreme being (Bruce).

The spirit spoke the truth about Paul and his team members. The great Hebrew and Jewish heroes of the faith were distinguished in Scripture with the honorific "servant of the Lord," including Abraham (Gen 18:3; 26:24), Isaac (Gen 24:14), Jacob (Deut 9:27), Job (Job 1:8), Moses (Ex 4:10), Joshua (Josh 24:29), Samuel (1Sam 3:10), David (2Sam 3:18), Elijah (2Kgs 9:36), Jonah (2Kgs 14:25), Hezekiah (2Chr 32:16), Nehemiah (Neh 1:11), Isaiah (Isa 20:3), Daniel (Dan 6:20) and all the Hebrew prophets (Jer 25:4). In his earthly ministry Yeshua was the preeminent servant of the Lord (Php 2:7), other notable spiritual leaders are named, including Miriam (Luke 1:38), Simeon (Luke 2:29), Apollos (1Cor 3:5), Timothy (Php 1:1), Epaphras (Col 1:7), Tychicus (Col 4:7), Peter (2Pet 1:1), John (Rev 1:1) and particularly the apostle Paul (Rom 1:1).

who: Grk. hostis, relative pronoun. See verse 12 above. proclaim: Grk. katangellō, pres., 3p-pl., to proclaim, with connotation of broad dissemination; announce, declare, proclaim. The verb alludes to teaching in a public place. to you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person, used of the public or those passing by. the way: Grk. hodos, the word typically has the sense of a route for traveling, hence a way, a road or a highway. It can also refer to the act of traveling; journey, way, trip. Then, hodos is used fig. of conduct or a manner of life, or the procedure for accomplishing something, which is the intention here. In the LXX hodos occurs frequently and is used to render 18 Hebrew equivalents, but mostly Heb. derek (SH-1070), a way, road, or journey (Ps 1:6) (DNTT 3:937).

of salvation: Grk. sōtēria, rescue, deliverance or salvation from physical harm, but often from God's wrath (Rom 5:9; 1Cor 5:5). In the LXX sōtēria translates primarily nouns derived from the verb yasha, to deliver (DNTT 3:206). These nouns include yeshu'ah (Gen 49:18; Ex 14:13; 15:2; 1Sam 2:1), teshu'ah (Jdg 15:18; 1Sam 11:9, 13), and yesha (2Sam 22:3; Ps 18:2), each of which can mean deliverance, salvation or victory. In the Tanakh "salvation" typically meant deliverance from enemies (Ex 14:13; cf. Luke 1:71; Acts 7:35), whether personal or national. In the Besekh "salvation" carries the same meaning with the added benefit of deliverance from the consequences of sin by the atoning sacrifice of Yeshua and a guarantee of future redemption when Yeshua returns to establish his eternal kingdom (Heb 9:28).

The demonic-inspired declaration, although factually correct, was obviously intended as a taunt, to mock the apostles and prevent people from being saved. By their evil nature demons are not candidates for salvation (cf. Job 4:12-18) and can expect to spend eternity in hell (cf. 2Pet 2:4; Jude 1:6; Rev 20:10, 15).

18 And this she kept doing for many days. Then Paul, having become greatly fatigued, and having turned said to the spirit, "I order you in the name of Yeshua the Messiah to come out from her." And it came out the same moment.

And: Grk. de, conj. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun, alluding to the girls declaration in the previous verse. she kept doing: Grk. poieō, impf., a verb of physical action that may refer to (1) producing something material; or (2) to be active in bringing about a state of condition. The second meaning applies here. for: Grk. epi, prep. used primarily as a marker of position or location, upon, over, but used here in relation to time, "for the space of," or "for as long as." many: pl. of Grk. polus, adj. See verse 16 above. days: pl. of Grk. hēmera. See verse 5 above. The time of "many days" is indefinite and ambiguous, which could mean every occasion on which they appeared in public, or on successive Sabbaths when the apostolic team went to the place of prayer. The latter application could imply remaining in Philippi a number of weeks.

Then: Grk. de. Paul: See verse 3 above. having become greatly fatigued: Grk. diaponeomai, aor. pass. part., lit. "to toil through." I believe the common translation of "being annoyed" completely mischaracterizes the situation. Paul would not bring healing to a suffering person because he was irritated. "You're bothering me, so I'm going to heal you to make you go away." Versions with "grieved" (KJV, YLT) or the CJB with "greatly troubled" offer a better interpretation. However, the literal meaning of the verb should be considered. By etymology the verb is formed from dia, "through," which intensifies poneō, "to labor, toil," and thus to bring on exhausting, depleting grief which results in "piercing fatigue" (HELPS).

and: Grk. kai, conj. having turned: Grk. epistrephō, aor. part., to turn or return, and is used here to mark a physical turn from the direction in which he was walking to face his tormentor. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 9 above. to the spirit: Grk. ho pneuma. See verse 6 above. The term is used here of an evil spirit. I order: Grk. parangellō, pres., to give authoritative direction; order, instruct, direct. Many versions have "I command." In the Besekh the verb is used of a wide variety of instructions, whether practical or ethical. In the LXX parangellō renders Heb. shama (SH-8085), to hear, and meaning to cause to hear, assemble, proclaim, or summon (DNTT 1:340). It is used of the authoritative proclamations of leaders, generals and kings (Josh 6:7; 1Kgs 15:22; 2Chr 36:22; 1Macc 5:58; 2Macc 13:10).

you: pronoun of the second person. in: Grk. en, prep. the name: Grk. onoma. See verse 1 above. The term is used here of authority. of Yeshua: See verse 7 above. the Messiah: Grk. Christos, the expected fulfiller of the hopes of Israel for an end-time deliverer, the Messiah. Christian versions translate the title as if it were a last name. The English "Christ" transliterates the Greek title, but does not translate it. Jewish translators of the LXX chose Christos to render Heb. Mashiach (SH-4899), Anointed One, and in so doing infused new meaning into the Greek word. Mashiach is used in the Tanakh for the Messiah (Ps 2:2; Dan 9:25-26) and this usage defined the term among Jews in the first century. For a discussion of Jewish hope and expectation of the Messiah see my article The Messiah.

to come out: Grk. exerchomai, aor. inf. See verse 3 above. from: Grk. apo, prep. her: Grk. autos, fem. personal pronoun. Paul's directive implies the girl was indwelt by the demonic spirit. Most of the mentions of demons or spirits in the apostolic narratives pertain to possession rather than oppression (e.g. Matt 8:16; Luke 22:3). Paul addressed the spirit since the girl had no control over it. Paul did not plead with the spirit or try to reason with it, but spoke as one who had the right to command obedience. And: Grk. kai. it came out: Grk. exerchomai, aor. the same: Grk. autos. hour: Grk. ho hōra may mean (1) a short space of time, the twelfth part of a day; hour; (2) fig. for a period of time in the day; or (3) fig. for a point of time as occasion for action or for an event. The third usage applies here as there was no delay in time. As Stern comments, demons must submit to the authority of Yeshua the Messiah.

False Accusation and Mistreatment, 16:19-22

19 Now her owners having seen that their hope of profit was gone, having seized Paul and Silas they dragged them into the public square before the rulers.

Now: Grk. de, conj. her: Grk. autos, fem. personal pronoun. owners: pl. of Grk. kurios. See verse 14 above. having seen: Grk. horaō, aor. part. See verse 9 above. The verb has a two-fold meaning of physically witnessing the exorcism and mentally concluding its effect on them. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 3 above. their: pl. of Grk. autos. hope: Grk. elpis may refer to (1) a state of looking forward to something that is desirable, or (2) the basis of firm expectation. The second usage applies here. In the LXX elpis translates several different words with the meaning to hope (DNTT 2:239). of profit: Grk. ergasia. See verse 16 above. was gone: Grk. exerchomai, aor. See verse 3 above. These men could add and knew that their business relied on help from the spirit world.

having seized: Grk. epilambanomai, aor. part., to  take or lay hold of with the hands, here with adversarial intent. Paul: See verse 3 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. Silas: Grk. Silas, a contracted from the Latin name Silvanus. The CJB and OJB have "Sila." The website says it is possible that Silas was in fact a Greek form of the Hebrew name "Saul" (via Aramaic). NASBEC also says the name is of Aramaic origin. The Greek form of the name appears 13 times in the Besekh, all in Acts. Silvanus occurs four times in the Besekh (2Cor 1:19; 1Th 1:1; 2Th 1:1; 1Pet 5:12). According to patristic records Silas was one of the seventy disciples Yeshua sent out in Luke 10:1 (Hippolytus, 170-235, On the Seventy Apostles).

Luke identifies Silas was a leader in the congregation of Syrian Antioch (Acts 15:22) and a prophet (15:32). Silas was chosen by Paul to accompany him on his Diaspora journey to replace Barnabas (15:40). Luke and Timothy apparently were not with Paul and Silas on this occasion and so were not seized. It's also possible that Luke and Timothy did not draw the attention of adversaries because they did not engage in public speaking.

they dragged them: Grk. helkō, aor., cause to move toward, draw, as of a pulling motion. into: Grk. eis, prep. the public square: Grk. agora, a public place for gathering, a town square, often of a marketplace, but here of a forum where legal proceedings occurred. The forum of Philippi lay on the south side of the Egnatian Way (Bruce). before: Grk. epi, prep. the rulers: pl. of Grk. archōn, one who has eminence in a ruling capacity or one who has administrative authority. Among Jews the term was used of Gentile rulers (Matt 20:25; Rom 13:3). They were charged with maintaining peace and security in the community. In the Roman judicial system the archōn fulfilled a minor judicial office, having jurisdiction to conduct preliminary examinations of persons charged with serious crimes, such as the modern grand jury.

20 And having brought them to the chief magistrates, they said, "These men are disturbing our city, being traditional Jews.

And: Grk. kai, conj. Having satisfied the "rulers" of a bona fide breach of the peace, the accusers were then entitled to take their complaint to the next level of the judicial system. having brought: Grk. prosagō, pl. aor. part., to bring to or lead to. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e. Paul and Silas. to the chief magistrates: pl. of Grk. stratēgos, chief magistrate, was used originally of a leader or commander of an army, a general; and then a Roman praetor, provincial magistrate (BAG). In the Besekh the term occurs only in the writings of Luke. After the pattern of the consuls at Rome, the chief magistrates of a Roman colony were two in number and their official title was in Latin duoviri, that is "the two men" (Rienecker).

they said: Grk. legō, aor., 3p-pl. See verse 8 above. The subject of the verb is the men who had the divination business. These: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 3 above. men: Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 17 above. are disturbing: Grk. ektarassō, pres., cause great disturbance of the established order, disturb, upset. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. our: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. city: Grk. ho polis. See verse 4 above. being: Grk. huparchō, pl. pres. part., lit. "existing as." See verse 3 above. Use of the verb indicates ignorance of descent from Jacob. traditional Jews: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 1 above. The opening argument of the accusers reflects the antisemitism prevalent in Roman culture. It is noteworthy that the accusers recognized Paul and Silas as Jews, not "Christians."

21 And they are proclaiming customs that are not lawful for us to accept nor to practice, being Romans."

And: Grk. kai, conj. they are proclaiming: Grk. katangellō, pres. See verse 17 above. The accusers use the same verb as the demonic spirit, which in that verse referred to the "way of salvation." customs: pl. of Grk. ethos, a way of doing things marked by recurring procedure; custom or practice. The mention of "customs" might refer to Jewish practices that pagan Gentiles considered stupid if not offensive, such as circumcision, observing the Sabbath and maintaining a kosher diet. that: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. are not: Grk. ou, adv. lawful: Grk. exesti, pres., it is allowable, permitted, right, or possible. for us: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person, perhaps meaning the citizens of Philippi. The accusers likely included the magistrates in "us."

to accept: Grk. paradechomai, pres. mid. inf., receive with a positive attitude; accept, acknowledge, receive. nor: Grk. oude, negative particle that links a negative statement as complementary to a preceding negative; neither, not even, nor. to practice: Grk. poieō, pres. inf., lit. "to do." See verse 18 above. being: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. Use of the verb emphasizes status by virtue of birth. Romans: pl. of Grk. Rhōmaios, adj., derived from Rhōmē, the capital of Italy and the Roman empire. The adjective is used (1) in reference to imperial Roman authorities; and (2) in reference to persons having the right of citizenship in imperial Rome, which is the meaning here. The accusers could claim rights that residents of other Macedonian cities did not possess. See verse 12 regarding the history of Philippi. The second part of the charge is both vague and an outright lie.

Vincent points out that the Romans granted absolute toleration to conquered nations to follow their own religious customs. On the other hand, there were laws which forbade the introduction of strange deities as well as Jewish opinions among the Romans themselves. However, Jews in general never tried to force their customs on non-Jews in the Diaspora, although they did make proselytes of other nations. And, Paul and Silas only addressed matters of lifestyle to followers of Yeshua. They did not try to impose their customs or ethics on non-believers.

22 And the crowd rose up together against them, and the magistrates, having torn off their garments, were commanding that they be beaten with rods.

And: Grk. kai, conj. the crowd: Grk. ho ochlos, an aggregate of people or an assembled company of people; crowd, multitude, great number. In many passages the term denotes common people in contrast to the ruling classes and religious elite. The noun denotes residents of Philippi already in the town square. The singular form indicates unity as one man. rose up together: Grk. sunephistēmi, aor., rise together, here in the sense of attacking. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. against: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 5 above. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun, which alludes to Paul and Silas. The sentiments of the crowd to violently oppose the apostles was motivated by the false accusation, but there had to be an attitude that could be influenced by the accusation. Throughout history antisemitism has often been the result of mob action.

and: Grk. kai. the magistrates: pl. of Grk. stratēgos. See verse 20 above. having torn off: Grk. perirēgnumi, aor. part., tear off and thus remove completely. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. their: pl. of Grk. autos, used of Paul and Silas. garments: pl. of Grk. himation, a covering for the body, generally refers to clothing or apparel, but in this context it means an outer garment without reference to its quality. In the LXX himation rendered the Heb. beged, meaning both the outer garment and the clothes as a whole (DNTT 1:316). For the average Jewish man the beged was a simple rectangular cloak or robe, typically made of wool, with openings for the head and arms, and worn loosely over the under-tunic.

This is an extraordinary act for the magistrates to personally take action, since normally it was done by someone that performed punishments for the court. The garments were probably torn down the back so as to expose their naked flesh for punishment. were commanding: Grk. keleuō, impf., give an authoritative order; command, order, direct. that they be beaten with rods: Grk. rhabdizō, pres. inf., punish with a rod or stick; beat with rods. The magistrates ordered the punishment without conducting a trial or hearing evidence. Official attendants worked for the magistrates, called lictors, that carried as symbols of office bundles of rods to denote the right of the magistrates to inflict corporal punishment as they deemed necessary. Stern notes that when antisemitic feelings run high, as in this city which had already ejected its Jews, justice also flees.

Paul and Silas in Prison, 16:23-26

23 And many blows having been laid on them, they threw them into prison, having charged the jailer to keep them securely.

And: Grk. te, conj. See verse 13 above. many: pl. of Grk. polus, adj. See verse 16 above. blows: pl. of Grk. plēgē, physical damage inflicted by forceful application and is used for the blow of hitting someone, a wound from a blow. having been laid: Grk. epitithēmi, aor. part., to put, place or lay upon or transfer to. on them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e. Paul and Silas. More precisely the blows would have landed on their backs. Jewish law limited beatings to 39 stripes (Deut 25:3), but the Romans had no limit. This was one of the three times the Paul was beat in this manner (2Cor 11:25), and he will later make mention of this shameful treatment at Philippi (1Th 2:2).

they threw: Grk. ballō, aor., 3p-pl., cause movement toward a position, which may be used of a vigorous action and be translated as "cast, throw or hurl," or of a more subdued action and be translated as "put, place, lay or bring" (BAG). The first usage is probably intended here. them into: Grk. eis, prep. prison: Grk. phulakē may mean (1) a place for detaining a law-breaker, not a place for carrying out a specified period of detention; (2) a sentry station with a contingent of guards; or (3) a period of time for mounting guard, watch. The first meaning applies here. In ancient times imprisonment for a specified period of time was not a typical form of punishment. The place of confinement was only to keep someone until disposition was made of his case (cf. Acts 4:3; 5:18).

There are a small number of cases previously mentioned in Scripture of innocent Israelites being imprisoned: Joseph (Gen 39:20), Joseph's brother Simeon (Gen 42:16–19, 24), Samson (Jdg 16:21), Hanani the seer (2Chr 16:10); the prophet Micaiah (1Kgs 22:27), Jeremiah (Jer 37:15–16; 38:4–14) and Yochanan the Immerser (Mark 6:17).

having charged: Grk. parangellō, aor. part. See verse 18 above. the jailer: Grk. ho desmophulax, the keeper of a prison or jailer. to keep: Grk. tēreō, pres. inf., may mean (1) to maintain in a secure state with a focus on personal interest or obligation; keep; or (2) to be in compliance in regard to instruction; keep, observe. The second meaning applies here. them: pl. of Grk. autos. securely: Grk. asphalōs, adv., in a manner that is certain; securely. The jailer was responsible to insure that no prisoner could escape.

24 Who, having received such an order, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

Who: Grk. hos, relative pronoun, referring to the jailer in the previous verse. having received: Grk. lambanō, aor. part. See verse 3 above. such: Grk. toioutos, demonstrative pronoun, of such a kind, such. an order: Grk. parangelia, pronouncement designed to provide guidance; command, injunction, instruction, order. threw: Grk. ballō, aor. See the previous verse. Translations of Bible versions differ, some interpreting the action as vigorous and others interpreting the action as subdued. The "vigorous" interpretation provides a greater contrast to the jailer's later actions toward the apostles. The jailer was probably not gentle in how he treated prisoners. His assumption would be that these Jews wouldn't have been sent to the prison unless they were bad men.

them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. into: Grk. eis, prep. the inner: Grk. ho esōteros, adj., the part that is within, inner, inmost. prison: Grk. phulakē. See the previous verse. The "inner prison" denotes an interior cell that did not share a portion of the outer wall and was essentially a subterranean dungeon, being nothing more than a large hole in the ground. See the UNRV article on Roman prisons. and: Grk. kai, conj. fastened: Grk. asphalizō, aor., to make firm or secure, used here of fastening or locking into place. their: pl. of Grk. autos. feet: pl. of Grk. pous, the body part that is used for walking or running; the foot.

in: Grk. eis. the stocks: pl. of Grk. ho xulon, lit. "wood" or "tree." The term was used for various instruments made of wood for punishment and/or torture: (1) a cudgel or club, (2) a wooden collar, (3) stocks in which feet were confined, (4) gallows from which someone was hung, and (5) a stake or cross on which someone was impaled (LSJ). The term refers here to stocks. The Roman stocks was made with more than two holes so that the legs could be forced widely apart into a position which soon became quite painful (Rienecker).

25 Now toward midnight Paul and Silas, praying, were singing praises to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,

Now: Grk. de, conj. toward: Grk. kata, prep., lit. "against." midnight: Grk. mesonuktion, midnight, the middle of the period between sunset and sunrise. The term is not intended to be an exact time measurement, since there were no clocks. By Jewish reckoning midnight was the end-point of the second watch at the Temple in Jerusalem, which lasted about 9 pm to midnight. Paul: See verse 3 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. Silas: See verse 19 above. praying: Grk. proseuchomai, pl. pres. mid. part., to petition deity for some personal desire. In the LXX proseuchomai renders Heb. palal (SH-6419), to intervene, mediate, intercede or pray. The verb refers to earnestly petitioning God for His help with respect to an urgent need. Luke does not reveal the content of their prayers, but they could have covered a variety of subjects.

Most versions insert "and" after "praying" to couple it with the following verb, but the Greek text has no conjunction in that position. The content of their prayer might include (1) protection for the small congregation in the house of Lydia; (2) justice for the wrong done to them; (3) release from prison and vindication; (4) opportunities to share the good news; and (5) salvation for their adversaries and fellow prisoners. We could also assume that the fledgling congregation that met in the house of Lydia was also praying, just as the disciples were praying on the occasion of Peter being incarcerated (Acts 12:12). As on that occasion imprisonment of Yeshua's apostles represented spiritual warfare. The combined spiritual power of many disciples engaging in intercessory prayer can produce miraculous results.

were singing praises: Grk. humneō, impf., utter in celebratory song, sing in praise of or to. to God: Grk. theos. See verse 10 above. The book of Psalms (Heb. Sefer Tehillim, "Book of Praises"), many of which were written by David, was the hymnbook of Jews. The Talmud notes that the book of Psalms was written with ten synonyms of praise, the greatest of which is 'hallelujah,' "because it embraces the Divine Name and praise simultaneously" (Pesachim 117a). Usually selected psalms were only sung by Levitical choirs at temple festivals. Singing did not develop as a typical activity in synagogue services until long after destruction of the Jerusalem temple. Paul and Silas could very well have been singing portions of the Great Hallel (Ps 113–118), commonly sung during Passover (cf. Mark 14:26). The closing Psalm (118) would have been special because while it portends suffering and death of the Messiah it ends in glorious victory.

and: Grk. de. the prisoners: pl. of Grk. desmios, one who is bound as a captive or prisoner. Paul and Silas were not the only prisoners in the inner cell. were listening: Grk. epakroaomai, impf., to listen attentively, to hearken. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. The verb is not common in Greek literature, but it is found in the Jewish work Testament of Joseph 8:5 where it is used in parallel circumstances. Luke's knowledge of Jewish literature in Greek was extraordinary. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Luke does not indicate whether Paul and Silas were praying and singing in Greek or Hebrew. Arguments could be made for either possibility, but the listening by the other prisoners may give greater weight to Greek. They would have been amazed because they heard no complaining.

26 Then suddenly a great earthquake happened, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and the bonds of all were loosed.

Then: Grk. de, conj. suddenly: Grk. aphnō, adv., suddenly, unexpectedly. There was no prior warning or indication of what was about to happen. a great: Grk. megas, adj., exceeding a standard and therefore impressive, used here of intensity. earthquake: Grk. seismos, a shaking, used here for a ground temblor. happened: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. See verse 16 above. so that: Grk. hōste, conj. which connects cause to necessary effect and emphasizes the result; so that, therefore, so then, so as to. Three specific consequences occurred as a result of the divinely caused phenomenon.

the foundations: pl. of Grk. themelion, a structure serving as a firm base. Foundations of important structures in ancient cities were usually formed of rows of huge stones that made up the wall, down to the bedrock. of the prison: Grk. desmōtērion, a place for keeping bound prisoners; prison or jail. were shaken: Grk. saleuō, aor. pass. inf. (from salos, "disturbance"), cause to waver or totter, referring here to violent physical movement directly underneath the prison.

And: Grk. de. immediately: Grk. parachrēma, adv., instantly, immediately, straightway. all: fem. pl. of Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every, whole. the doors: pl. of Grk. thura, a device for opening and closing an entranceway; door, gate. were opened: Grk. anoigō, aor. pass., to open, often used of doors and gates. The description probably refers to both interior and exterior doors.

and: Grk. kai, conj. the bonds: pl. of Grk. desmos, a medium or device used for restraining someone, bond or fetter. Many versions have "chains," which is more interpretation than translation. of all: masc. pl. of Grk. pas. The masculine adjective refers to the prisoners. were loosed: Grk. aniēmi, aor. pass., to cause to be separate; loosen, let go, unfasten. The stocks had to have been attached to the building for them to be affected by the shaking. However, the bonds could have loosed by divine intervention independent of the building being shaken.

Earthquakes are common on every continent and have always existed, but only in modern times could they be measured. The Richter scale, developed in 1935, calculates the intensity of earthquakes on a ten-point scale. Detectable earthquakes (2.0 and greater) routinely occur around the world, but most cannot be felt and cause no damage. Quakes measuring 5.0 or greater are considered significant due to the potential for property damage and loss of life. By the effects described the quake may have been a six or seven on the Richter scale, since the prison did not collapse on the prisoners. Luke does not mention whether the temblor effected the whole city or just the prison, but probably the latter. Environmental or structural shaking is associated in Scripture with the presence of God (Ex 19:18; Jdg 5:5; Matt 27:51; Acts 4:31).

Philippian Jailer Saved, 16:27-34

27 Now the jailer having become awakened and having seen the doors of the prison had been opened, having drawn his sword he was about to kill himself, supposing the prisoners to have escaped.

Now: Grk. de, conj. the jailer: Grk. desmophulax. See verse 23 above. having become: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. part. See verse 16 above. awakened: Grk. exupnos, adj., roused from sleep. The jailer was jarred awake by the shaking of the temblor. Luke does not explain the proximity of the jailer's residence in relation to the prison, although an upper floor is suggested in verse 34. The upper floor would be accessed by an outside stairway attached to the building. The jailer reacted immediately, being dressed and armed, to check on the condition of the prison and is occupants. and: Grk. kai, conj. having seen: Grk. horaō, aor. part. See verse 9 above. the doors: pl. of Grk. thura. See the previous verse. of the prison: Grk. phulakē. See verse 23 above. had been opened: Grk. anoigō, perf. pass. part. See the previous verse.

At this point the jailer only had the light of the moon and could see that the outer door was open and he deduced that the inner doors were also open. having drawn: Grk. spaō, aor. mid. part., to draw out, to draw. his sword: Grk. ho machaira refers to a relatively short weapon with a sharp blade, mainly used for stabbing and close quarters combat. The term is used for a dagger and the Roman short sword. he was about: Grk. mellō, impf., a future oriented verb with a pending aspect, being in the offing, be about to, be going to. to kill: Grk. anaireō, pres. inf., lit. "to take up," and used here to mean to remove by causing death; kill, slay. himself: Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun of the third person.

supposing: Grk. nomizō, pres. part., to determine on the basis of ordinary reasoning, to conclude or to suppose. the prisoners: pl. of Grk. desmios. See verse 25 above. to have escaped: Grk. ekpheugō, perf. inf., to seek safety in flight, to flee out of, flee away, escape. Roman law prescribed severe punishment, even death, for a jailer who allowed prisoners to escape. Suicide seemed the honorable solution in these circumstances.

28 But Paul called out in a loud voice, saying, "Do to yourself no harm, for we are all here."

But: Grk. de, conj. Paul: See verse 3 above. called out: Grk. phōneō, aor., may mean either (1) to utter a sound designed to attracted attention, cry out or proclaim with emphasis; (2) call to oneself; summon, call for, or invite; or (3) to identify in personal address. The first meaning applies here. in a loud: Grk. megas, adj. See verse 26 above. The adjective is used here of volume. voice: Grk. phōnē , a voice or a sound, and used here of the faculty of producing speech. In the LXX phōnē generally renders Heb. qôl (SH-6963), sound, voice; first of God's voice (Gen 3:8), and second the human voice (Gen 3:17) (DNTT 3:113). Paul must seen the jailer in the dim light, deduced what he was about to do, and yelled loud enough to be heard.

saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 9 above. The Greek verb "say" functions here as quotation marks for the following statement. Do: Grk. prassō, aor. subj., to engage in activity with focus on productivity; do, perform, engage in, carry out. Sometimes the verb prassō is associated with works that might be either good or bad (Rom 9:11; 2Cor 5:10), but most often this verb is associated with evil or harmful conduct (e.g., Luke 23:41; John 3:20; Rom 1:32; 2:1-3; 7:15, 19; 13:4). to yourself: Grk. seautou, reflexive pronoun of the second person, used of bringing action back on yourself. no: Grk. mēdeis, adj. (from , "not" and heis, "one"), no, not even one, nothing, none.

harm: Grk. kakos, adj., may mean (1) morally or socially reprehensible and contrary to Torah standards; bad, wrong, wicked, evil; or (2) causing harm, with focus on personal or physical injury; harmful, bad. The second meanings is intended here, but the first is primary. In the LXX kakos is used to render Heb. ra (SH-7451), which has the same dual meaning (DNTT 1:562). for: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 3 above. we are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 26 above. here: Grk. enthade, adv., a position relatively near the speaker; lit. 'here.'

Paul demonstrated Yeshua's dictum to love one's enemies. Perhaps at one time Paul might have kept quiet, but now he sought the salvation of this Roman in spite of his cruelty. Some commentators view Paul's instruction is a warning against suicide. Barnes comments, "This is the solemn command of religion in his case, and in all others. It enjoins upon people to do themselves no harm by self-murder." For the jailer suicide was an honorable solution to his assumed liability for escaped prisoners.

Additional Note: Suicide

There are seven incidents recorded in Scripture in which a man brought about his own death. In the Tanakh there are four men who killed themselves or asked someone else to kill them after suffering a military defeat and to avoid being killed by the enemy: Abimelech (Jdg 9:53-54); King Saul (1Sam. 31:3-4); King Saul's armor-bearer (1Sam 31:5); and Zimri (1Kgs 16:18). One man killed himself after being rejected (2Sam 17:23). Samson caused a building collapse in order to destroy the Philistines and he was willing to die to achieve that goal (Jdg 16:28-30). Samson is considered one of the faithful Israelite heroes (Heb 11:32-34). In the Besekh Judas Iscariot hanged himself after returning the price of his betrayal (Matt 27:5; Acts 1:18).

A distinction should be made between common suicide because of depression or evasion of responsibilities and self-sacrifice of one's own life. Death resulting from defending one's comrades in military combat, defending a loved one or friend from an attacker or dangerous situation (cf. John 15:13), and endangering one's life by conducting ministry in dangerous areas (cf. 2Cor 4:7–18; 11:16–23) is considered honorable. Yeshua declared in advance of his death that it was voluntary and meritorious (John 10:15, 18). While Christianity has historically viewed suicide as a sin, there is no specific divine prohibition or condemnation of suicide in Scripture. Even so, there are sound biblical reasons to discourage and prevent suicide, since after death we will face God for judgment (Heb 9:27). Judas is a case in point (John 17:12). See Suicide from a Christian Perspective, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, October 14, 2014. See also Paul Middleton, Suicide in the Bible,, 2019.

29 Then having called for lights he rushed in, and having become terrified he fell down before Paul and Silas.

Then: Grk. de, conj. having called for: Grk. aiteō, aor. part., to ask in expectation of a response; ask, ask for, petition, request. The verb implies asking another person for assistance. The jailer probably had a servant that followed him down the stairs. lights: pl. of Grk. phōs, that which serves as a revealing or disclosing medium; light. The plural noun probably refers to torches or possibly lamps that relied on wick and oil to produce light. he rushed in: Grk. eispēdaō, aor., leap into, rush into. and: Grk. kai, conj. having become: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. part. See verse 16 above. terrified: Grk. entromos, trembling with fear, terrified.

he fell down before: Grk. prospiptō, to fall down or forward, fall prostrate before. Paul and Silas: See verse 19 above. Luke does not explain why the jailer trembled in fear. Nicoll suggests that perhaps the words of the maiden had made an impression on him (verse 17 above), and he recognized their truth in the earthquake, and in the calmness and demeanor of Paul. Moreover, he had mistreated the servants of the Most High God and was in danger of divine displeasure.

30 And having brought them out he was saying, "Sirs, what is necessary for me to do so that I may be saved?"

And: Grk. kai, conj. having brought: Grk. proagō, aor. part., may mean (1) to bring from one position to another by taking charge, to lead out; or (2) to go or come before, to precede. The first meaning is intended here. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. out: Grk. exō, adv. of place, outside, used of a position that beyond a limit or boundary. he was saying: Grk. phēmi, impf., to make known one's thoughts through verbal communication; declare, say. As indicated by the previous verse the jailer had a serious matter on his mind. Sirs: pl. of Grk. kurios, voc. See verse 14 above. The jailer used the title as a greeting of respect. what: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why.

is necessary: Grk. dei, pres., impersonal verb from deō ('lack, stand in need of') and thus conveys the idea of necessity or an expected outcome, something that must happen or something one is obligated to do, which may arise in a variety of circumstances, here the necessity for attaining the stated result. for me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. to do: Grk. poieō, pres. inf. See verse 18 above. so that: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed, in order that, so that, that.

I may be saved: Grk. sōzō, aor. pass. subj., to deliver, or rescue from a hazardous condition; save, rescue. The verb is used in the Besekh primarily of rescue from spiritual peril (Matt 1:21; Luke 13:23; 19:10; Acts 4:12; 11:12), frequently in relation to the judgment on the day of God's wrath (Joel 2:32; Matt 24:13; Rom 5:9; 1Cor 5:5, 10). In the LXX sōzō translates no less than 15 different Hebrew verbs to describe rescue from death and deliverance from external evils, especially enemies (DNTT 3:206). The jailer wanted to be spared the wrath of the Most High God. Since he did not know the Most High God he might have expected Paul to require some religious deed or financial restitution such as might be required to appease an angry pagan deity.

31 And they said, "Trust on the Lord Yeshua, and you will be saved, you and your household."

And: Grk. de, conj. they said: Grk. legō, aor., 3p-pl. See verse 9 above. Both Paul and Silas encouraged the jailer. Trust: Grk. pisteuō, aor. imp., to have confidence in the trustworthiness of some thing or someone. In the LXX pisteuō renders the Heb. 'aman (SH-539), to confirm or support, and in application may mean, believe, trust, be true, reliable or faithful (BDB 52; DNTT 1:595). The great majority of Bible versions have "believe," but a few have "trust" (CJB, MSG, NEB, NLV, TLV). The verb does not denote an intellectual confirmation of a creedal statement, but a heart response of believing-trust. on: Grk. epi, prep. See verse 18 above. The preposition is used here to denote direction toward (Thayer). Trust is not the only action to obtain salvation (cf. Acts 2:21, 38; Rom 10:9), but it is the first step (Isa 30:15).

the Lord: Grk. kurios. See verse 14 above. The mention of Kurios as a divine title contrasts with the jailer's use of kurios to address the apostles. Yeshua: See verse 8 above. It is very likely that the jailer had heard Paul proclaim Yeshua as the Jewish Messiah and Savior of the world. Yeshua is the only way of salvation (John 10:9; Acts 15:11; 1Th 5:9; 2Tim 2:10). and: Grk. kai, conj. you will be saved: Grk. sōzō, fut. pass. See the previous verse. We can experience present assurance of salvation by the witness of the Spirit (John 3:5-8; 10:14; Rom 8:16; 1Jn 5:11-13), but it is ultimately determined at the last judgment (John 12:48; 2Cor 5:10).

you: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. and: Grk. kai. your: Grk. su. household: Grk. oikos. See verse 15 above. The jailer's household likely included a wife and servants. The jailer had been concerned about himself, but the apostles assure the jailer that the means of salvation also applies to those close to him. The addition of "and your household" could even be prophetic.

32 And they spoke to him the word of the Lord with all those in his house.

And: Grk. kai, conj. they spoke: Grk. laleō, aor., 3p-pl. See verse 6 above. to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., the jailer. the word: Grk. logos. See verse 6 above. of the Lord: Grk. kurios. See verse 14 above. The title is used of Yeshua here. "The word of the Lord," occurring several times in Acts (8:25; 12:24; 13:44, 48-49; 15:35-36), is shorthand for the good news of God's grace and salvation through the atonement of Yeshua presented in a form appropriate to the audience, whether Jew or Gentile. For a discussion of the content of the good news as proclaimed by the apostles see my article The Original Gospel.

with: Grk. sun, prep. See verse 3 above. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 26 above. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a relative pronoun. in: Grk. en, prep. his: Grk. autos. house: Grk. oikia may mean either (1) a habitable structure, house; or (2) fig. of a group within a house, household or family. The first meaning applies here. The other residents of the jailer's house also heard the word of the Lord. It's not clear whether the presentation of the word of the Lord took place in the jailer's house or simply that those residing in the jailer's house had come outside because of the earthquake and in that setting heard the good news.

33 And having taken them in that hour of the night, he washed from their wounds. And at once he was immersed, he and all those of him.

And: Grk. kai, conj. having taken: Grk. paralambanō, aor. part., to receive to one's side; take, receive; or to cause to go along; take. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. in: Grk. en, prep. that: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 3 above. hour: Grk hōra. See verse 18 above. of the night: Grk. nux. See verse 9 above. The time was after midnight and "hour" is probably only intended as a general reference of a time period before sunrise. he washed: Grk. louō, aor., to cleanse with water; bathe, wash. from: Grk. apo, prep. their wounds: pl. of Grk. plēgē. See verse 23 above. The washing may well have occurred in a public bath house, because it was not until after the action described in this verse that the apostles were brought into the jailer's house.

And: Grk. kai, conj. at once: Grk. parachrēma, adv. See verse 26 above. he was immersed: Grk. baptizō, aor. pass. See verse 15 above. The immersion of the jailer followed the washing of the apostles' wounds. The location of the immersion is not disclosed. It could have taken place at the public bath house or the nearby river. As in the case of Lydia there is no evidence that the apostles laid hands on the jailer to immerse him. They simply supervised the immersion to insure he went completely under the water. he: Grk. autos. and: Grk. kai. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 26 above. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. of him: Grk. autos. The grammatical construction seems to exclude a wife and relatives. "Those of him" would allude to household servants and employees of the jail.

34 Also having brought them into his house, he prepared a table. And he rejoiced with his entire household, having trusted God.

Also: Grk. te, conj. See verse 13 above. having brought: Grk. anagō, aor. part. See verse 11. The verb is used of an upward motion here, depicting the jailer's residence being above the jail. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. into: Grk. eis, prep. his: Grk. autos. house: Grk. oikos. See verse 15 above. The term is used here of the dwelling. he prepared: Grk. paratithēmi, aor., may mean (1) to place something beside, set before; or (2) assign for security or safekeeping, entrust, commend. The first meaning applies here. a table: Grk. trapeza, a surface on which something can be placed. In the LXX trapeza renders Heb. shulchan (SH-7979), table, generally a surface on which food is placed for eating (Ex 25:23; BDB 1020).

In the Besekh trapeza is used of a dining table from which crumbs fall (Matt 15:27), a table for money transactions (Matt 21:12; Mark 11:15; Luke 19:23; John 2:12), and a table for the showbread in the tabernacle (Heb 9:2). Dining tables in most ancient homes were low in relation to the floor and in Roman homes persons would recline or sit on couches or benches to eat. Considering the time of day the jailer prepared a breakfast meal for Paul and Silas, which could have consisted of bread, cheese, olives, and wine. There could have also been some kind of meat or fish and fresh fruit or vegetable in season. A wet towel would have been provided to clean hands after eating.

And: Grk. kai, conj. he rejoiced: Grk. agalliaō, aor. mid., to be exuberantly joyful; rejoice, exult. with his entire household: Grk. panoikei (from pas, "all," and oikos, "house"), adv. The adverb occurs only here in the Besekh. having trusted: Grk. pisteuō, perf. part. See verse 31 above. The verb is singular and could refer to the jailer or the action could be of the jailer and his servants viewed as a shared experience, probably the latter. God: Grk. theos. See verse 31 above. The jailer and his household now believed and trusted in the reality of the God of Israel being the only true God.

Release and Departure, 16:35-40

35 Now day having come, the magistrates sent the officers, saying, "Release those men."

Now: Grk. de, conj. day: Grk. hēmera. See verse 5 above. The noun is used here of daylight hours. having come: Grk. ginomai, aor. part. See verse 16 above. The working day of a Roman official began at the earliest hour of daylight (Lane 549). the magistrates: pl. of Grk. ho stratēgos. See verse 20 above. These were the ones who gave the order to confine Paul and Silas. sent: Grk. apostellō, aor., 3p-pl., to cause to move from one position to another, but often to send as an authoritative personal representative. In the LXX apostellō translates Heb. shalach ("stretch out" or "send"), often in contexts of sending a messenger (DNTT 1:128). the officers: pl. of Grk. rhabdouchos, a holder of the rods, a lictor, Roman officer. See verse 22 above. The noun occurs in the Besekh only in this context. These were the men that had beaten Paul and Silas. saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 8 above.

Release: Grk. apoluō, aor. imp., may mean (1) to set free from a condition or obligation, to release or to free; or (2) to cause to depart from a place, to send off or dismiss. The first meaning applies here. The order was directed to the jailer. those: pl. of Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun. men: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 17 above. The plural noun refers to Paul and Silas. The motivation for giving the release order after the previous cruel treatment is not given. There is no evidence the earthquake impacted the homes of the magistrates, and there is no indication that the magistrates had received any information concerning the miraculous occurrences at the jail. Longenecker suggests the magistrates had probably only wanted to teach these Jews a lesson about the peril of disturbing the peace in a Roman colony and felt that a public flogging and a night in the city's jail would be sufficient to do that. Bruce concurs with this view.

The narrative is not explicit as to the physical location of all the parties when the officers arrived at the prison. In the previous verse Paul and Silas are in the jailer's residence and it would be reasonable to assume that they were still there when the officers arrived. However, the daylight having come the jailer had probably returned to the jail to check on his other prisoners and there the officers found him.

36 And the jailer reported these words to Paul, that, "The magistrates have sent that you may be released. Now, therefore, having come out, go in peace."

And: Grk. de, conj. the jailer: Grk. ho desmophulax. See verse 23 above. reported: Grk. apangellō, aor., may mean (1) to report back in response to a directive ; or (2) to relate as the result of personal experience, observation or other source of information; relate, report, declare. The second meaning applies here. The jailer returned to his house to deliver the good news. these: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 3 above. words: pl. of Grk. logos. See verse 6 above. to: Grk. pros, prep., lit. "near or facing" and conveys motion toward (DM 110); to, toward, with. Paul: See verse 3 above. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 3 above. The conjunction is used here to introduce a quotation. The magistrates: pl. of Grk. ho stratēgos. See verse 20 above. have sent: Grk. apostellō, perf., 3p-pl. See the previous verse.

that: Grk. hina, conj. you may be released: Grk. apoluō, aor. pass. subj., 2p-pl. See the previous verse. Now: Grk. nun, adv., marker of time in the present; now or just now. therefore: Grk. oun, conj. See verse 5 above. having come out: Grk. exerchomai, aor. part. See verse 3 above. go: Grk. poreuomai, pres. mid. imp. See verse 7 above. in: Grk. en, prep. peace: Grk. eirēnē, peace, which may refer to either (1) a state of harmony as a result from cessation of hostilities, whether in political or personal relationships; or (2) a state of well-being, a characteristic of the Messianic age and divine favor. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX eirēnē translates Heb. shalom (SH-7965), peace, generally denoting (1) personal welfare, health, or prosperity; (2) peace and tranquility in the community; or (3) contentment, peace, and friendship in human relations.

The jailer went back upstairs to his house and informed Paul and Silas that they were officially free men, so they could leave the jail assured that no further legal action would be taken against them. However, Paul decided he wanted to speak to the officers, so he and Silas returned downstairs with the jailer to the prison and they went inside.

37 But Paul was saying to them, "Having beaten us publicly, uncondemned men, being Roman citizens, they cast us into prison; and now secretly remove us? No indeed! Instead, having come themselves, let them escort us out."

But: Grk. de, conj. Paul: See verse 3 above. was saying: Grk. phēmi, impf. See verse 30 above. The verb indicates that Paul, after quickly discerning the situation, decided he was not going to allow the injustice against him and Silas to go unopposed. to: Grk. pros, prep. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun, i.e., the officers. Having beaten: Grk. derō, pl. aor. part., mistreat or punish in a violent manner; hit, strike. The verb does not accurately convey the degree of physical violence. The same verb is used of someone being beaten with many blows (Luke 12:47-48) and of Yeshua being slapped by the high priest's servant (John 18:23). us: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. publicly: Grk. dēmosios, adj., belonging to the people or state; used adverbially here to mean in view of all or publicly.

uncondemned: Grk. akatakritos, adj., without determination of guilt, not yet tried. men: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 17 above. Paul points out that there had been no due process, no actual trial and no opportunity for the presentation of defense evidence. being: Grk. huparchō, pl. pres. part. See verse 3 above. Roman citizens: pl. of Grk. Rhōmaios. See verse 21 above. Paul's declaration here implies that Silas was also a Roman citizen (Bruce). Paul would not claim for himself civic privileges in the circumstances that Silas could not share. they cast us: Grk. ballō, aor., 3p-pl. See verse 23 above. into: Grk. eis, prep. prison: Grk. phulakē. See verse 23 above. Noteworthy is that Paul does not blame the jailer for his actions of casting the apostles into the dungeon. He was only following orders.

and: Grk. kai, conj. now: Grk. nun, adv. See the previous verse. secretly: Grk. lathra, adv., without public knowledge; privately, secretly. remove: Grk. ekballō, aor., 3p-pl., to cause to move out from a position, state or condition; to put out, drive out, send out, bring out, cast out. us: Grk. hēmeis. No: Grk. ou, adv. indeed: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 3 above. The conjunction is used here as expressive of astonishment. Instead: Grk. alla, conj., adversative particle used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand. having come: Grk. erchomai, aor. part. See verse 7 above. themselves: 3p-pl. of Grk. autos. let them escort us: Grk. hēmeis. out: Grk. exagō, aor. imp., 3p-pl., to bring, lead or take out. Paul insists that the magistrates must personally correct the injustice and demonstrate the innocence of the apostles.

38 And the officers reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid, having heard that they were Roman citizens.

And: Grk. de, conj. the officers: pl. of Grk. ho rhabdouchos. See verse 35 above. reported: Grk. apangellō, aor., 3p-pl. See verse 36 above. these: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. words: pl. of Grk. ho rhēma, a communication consisting of words, often with the implication of importance or special significance. In secular Greek literature rhēma referred to a statement, discourse or explanation. In the LXX rhēma renders Heb. dabar (SH-1697), word, whether a discourse, counsel, or utterance of a sentence (DNTT 3:1119f). to the magistrates: pl. of Grk. ho stratēgos. See verse 20 above. and: Grk. de. they were afraid: Grk. phobeō, aor. pass., 3p-pl., be in a state of apprehension; be afraid, fear. having heard: Grk. akouō, aor. part. See verse 14 above.

that: Grk. hoti, conj. they were: Grk. eimi, pres., 3p-pl. See verse 1 above. Roman citizens: pl. of Grk. Rhōmaios. See verse 21 above. The magistrates were probably surprised at first by the news that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens. They might reasonably assume that Jews would not be citizens. But, having accepted the truth of the claim, they immediately feared repercussions should the two citizens lodge a complaint with the governor. They could lose their jobs, if not their heads.

40 Then having gone out from the prison, they came to Lydia. And having seen them, they encouraged the brothers and departed.

Then: Grk. de, conj. having gone out: Grk. exerchomai, aor. part. See verse 3 above. from: Grk. apo, prep. the prison: Grk. ho phulakē. See verse 23 above. they came: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. See verse 15 above. The verb implies entering the house of their hostess. to: Grk. pros, prep. Lydia: See verse 14 above. And: Grk. kai, conj. having seen them: Grk. horaō, pl. aor. part. See verse 9 above. they encouraged: Grk. parakaleō, aor. See verse 9 above. the brothers: pl. of Grk. adelphos. See verse 2 above. The plural noun implies that the objects of the apostolic encouragement were men who had believed in the good news and joined the group of disciples, two of whom Paul mentions in his later letter to this congregation: Epaphroditus (Php 2:25; 4:18) and Clement (Php 4:3).

and: Grk. kai. departed: Grk. exerchomai, aor. As requested the apostolic team left Philippi. When Paul, Silas and Timothy departed, Luke remained in the city, perhaps to provide leadership to the fledgling congregation. Luke will not see Paul again until he returns to Philippi four years later (Acts 20:4).

Additional Note: Defense of Religious Liberty

In the United States the first amendment to the Constitution provides this important right: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." Christianity as a religion had a significant influence on early American culture and well into the 20th century. In many parts of the country Christians brought life, love, and compassion. Christians built universities, hospitals, and orphanages, brought food to the hungry, medicine to the sick, work to the destitute, and hope to the hopeless. In large measure Christianity was a conserving force for morality in American culture and an influence for justice in American government.

In spite of the past influence of Judeo-Christian values the United States has become religiously pluralistic. The culture is increasingly secular and even hostile to followers of Yeshua, largely because of opposing abortion and affirming traditional marriage. Christians and Jews face increasing legal restrictions that infringe on their religious liberty. Even though our Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, liberal politicians and liberal judges invent ways to infringe the rights of people to practice Yeshua's religion according to their conscience. The secular culture is united in its effort to restrict, if not silence, the voice of faith in the public sector.

Does this mean that believers should obey edicts of the government that amount to infringements of religious conscience? The answer is no, as Peter declared, "we must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). Yeshua had commanded his disciples to obey Pharisee leaders (Matt 23:1-3) and the apostles were law-abiding citizens. The only matter in which they were passively non-compliant was in the matter of witnessing for Yeshua. The laws of the country are to be obeyed, but when the will of the State and the will of God directly conflict, then disciples must stand for the will of God. History is replete with the stories of both Jews and Christians who paid with their lives when they refused to compromise their loyalty to God.

Works Cited

BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.

Barnes: Albert Barnes (1798-1870), Notes on the Whole Bible (1834). Baker Book House, 1949. Online.

BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981.

Brown: David Brown (1803-1897), The Acts, in Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (1871). Online.

Bruce: F.F. Bruce, The Book of the Acts. Rev. ed. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1988. (New International Commentary on the New Testament)

Danker: Frederick William Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. The University of Chicago Press, 2009.

DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.

DHE: Franz Delitzsch (1813-1890), The Delitzsch Hebrew-English Gospels. Vine of David, 2011. [English translation by the Messianic Jewish publisher]

DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 vols., ed. Colin Brown. Zondervan Pub. House, 1975.

Edmundson: Charles Edmundson, The Church in Rome in the First Century. Longmans, Green and Co., 1913. Online.

Ellicott: Charles John Ellicott (1819–1905), Commentary for English Readers (1878). Online.

Gilbert: Gary Gilbert, Annotations on "The Acts of the Apostles," Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Oxford University Press, 2011.

Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online.

Gloag: Paton James Gloag (1823-1906), A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on The Acts of the Apostles. 2 vols. T&T Clark, 1870. Online.

HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at

Jastrow: Marcus Jastrow, Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud and Midrashic Literature. G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1903, 1926. Online.

Lane: William L. Lane, The Gospel According to Mark. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1974. [New International Commentary on the New Testament]

Liberman: Joel Liberman, The Acts of the Emissaries: Practical Sermons on the Spirit-filled Birth & Explosive Growth of Messianic Judaism. Tree of Life, Inc., 2014.

Lightfoot: John Lightfoot (1602-1675), Hebrew and Talmudical Exercitations upon the Acts, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (1859 ed.), Vol. 4. Hendrickson Pub., 1989.

Longenecker: Richard D. Longenecker, The Acts of the Apostles, Vol. 9, Expositor's Bible Commentary, Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp, 1989-1999.

LSJ: Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon (1889). rev. by Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online

Moseley: Ron Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Yeshua and the Original Church. Lederer Books, 1996.

NASBEC: New American Standard Bible Exhaustive Concordance, Updated Edition. Foundation Publications, Inc., 1998.

Nicoll: W. Robertson Nicoll (1851–1923), The Expositor's Greek Testament (1897), 5 vols. Online.

Polhill: John B. Polhill, Paul and His Letters. B & H Academic, 1999.

Robertson: Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, 6 Vols. Broadman Press, 1933. (Parsons CD-ROM Version 2.0, 1997) Online.

Santala: Risto Santala, Paul: The Man and the Teacher in the Light of Jewish Sources. Trans. Michael G. Cox. Keren Ahvah Meshihit, 1995. Online.

Skarsaune: Oskar Skarsaune, In the Shadow of the Temple: Jewish Influences on Early Christianity. InterVarsity Press, 2002.

Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.

Tarn & Griffith: Sir William Tarn and G.T. Griffith, Hellenistic Civilization. 3rd Edition. Edward Arnold Publishers, Ltd., 1952.

Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Harper Brothers, 1889.

Vincent: Marvin R. Vincent (1834-1922), The Word Studies in the New Testament. 4 vols. Hendrickson Pub., 1886. Online.

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