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The Book of ACTS

Chapter 16

THEME: The second missionary journey of Paul

The last verse of chapter 15 gives us the beginning of the journey. Paul and Silas "went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches." From there they will go up into Galatia. Paul will visit the Galatian churches because that is where the problem had arisen with the Judaizers. The Letter to the Galatians is Paul's letter to them, harshly warning them about being led astray by those who are trying to put them under the Mosaic system. It is his strongest declaration and defense of the doctrine of justification by faith. Not only is a sinner saved by grace through faith, but the saved sinner lives by grace. Grace is a way to life and a way of life.

On this second missionary journey we will go with him to Europe (after he has received the vision of the man in Macedonia). We will see that he arrives in Philippi where he ends up in the local jail. At midnight Paul and Silas pray and sing praises! An earthquake shakes the jail, the doors are opened, and the jailer opens his heart to receive Christ as Saviour.

Paul Revisits The Churches Of Galatia (Acts 16:1-5)

Acts 16:1-2 Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: 2 Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. (KJV)

Derbe and Lystra . . . (Acts 14:6). Timotheus . . . who was known to Paul from his childhood (2 Tim.1:5), and accompanied him in many journeys (2 Tim.3:10-11), AND is called by Paul, his work-fellow (Rom.16:21).

A certain woman, called Eunice . . . being one of them that had believed in Christ in Judea, and had a Godly woman as her mother, named Lois.

His father was a Greek . . . of Gentile extraction, and not circumcised; yet he is said to have been a proselyte. Although it was not lawful for a Jew to marry a woman of another nation, some think that a Jewess might marry a stranger, as Esther married Ahasuerus (Est.2:17).

Paul first comes to Derbe, then goes over to Lystra where he finds this young man Timothy. Paul knew his mother and his grandmother, and he had turned this young man to the Lord on his first trip. So Paul takes Timothy with him. The team is now Paul, Silas, and Timothy.

Acts 16:3 Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek. (KJV)

I want to say more about the method of the apostle Paul. When he went up to Jerusalem, he took along Titus, a Gentile, who was not circumcised (Gal.2:3) . . . and Paul was not about to have him circumcised. But, now Paul wants to take Timothy as a fellow missionary. He wants Timothy to go out to reach people for Christ. Since he does not want any kind of argument or any reason for offense, he now has Timothy circumcised. This is NOT because there is any merit in circumcision, but because he does not want it to be an issue. This is what Paul wrote in 1 Cor.9:19-20: "For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law." Paul did this in order to stop all arguments.

There are forms and rituals which are absolutely NOT necessary to salvation. Certainly circumcision had absolutely NO bearing whatsoever on Timothy's salvation, BUT the rite was performed so that the ministry of Timothy with the Jews would not be handicapped.

Acts 16:4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. (KJV)

The decrees . . . what the council had determined in Acts 15:20 . . . Ordained of the apostles and elders . . . by common consent.

Acts 16:5 And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily. (KJV)

And so were the churches established in the faith . . . of Christ, in the grace and doctrine of faith; and that by the preaching of the Gospel by the apostle and his companions. And increased in number daily . . . Paul's visiting the churches had a double benefit. First, it strengthened them that were already converted, and second, it added more unto their number.

Paul Goes To Philippi (Acts 16:6-12)

Acts 16:6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, (KJV)

Phrygia and Galatia were in Asia Minor. They were forbidden of the Holy Ghost for some reason. Although afterwards Paul did preach there about two years together (Acts 19:10). God works in mysterious ways! He orders the candle to be removed from one room unto another, or He sends, or He takes away the light of the Gospel to whom, and as often, as it pleases Him. He certainly knows what He is doing! Our calling and our election is free; and we may say with our Saviour, Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight (Mat.11:26). .

Paul does another great work in Galatia. Not only does he visit the churches which had been founded the first time, but multitudes in other places turn to Christ. New churches are formed and there is an increase in number daily.

The province of Asia is south of where Ephesus is. Ephesus was the chief city of the province of Asia. Paul may have been planning to make a circuit through Asia Minor. This was a heavily populated area in that day, and it was really the center of Greek culture. This was a great commercial area, a great political area, a great educational area. Paul would make a huge circle by going through the Galatian country, then Phrygia, then south into the province of Asia, and then back again to Antioch to report to the home church.

BUT . . . the Holy Spirit had something else in mind. We are told that the Holy Spirit forbade him to preach the Word down in Asia. This is really amazing. Paul wanted to go there, and the Spirit of God wanted the Word of God given out, but the Holy Spirit wanted Paul in a different place at this time. So Paul naturally thought that if he could not go south, he would go north. Bithynia was in the north, along the Black Sea. There was a large population there, and a very heavy concentration of Jews in that area. This would be in Turkey today.

Acts 16:7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. (KJV)

The Holy Spirit told them not to go south into the province of Asia. Now, the Holy Spirit forbids them to go north into Bithynia. They have come from the east. Where will he go? Well, there is only one direction left . . . west.

So Paul kept going west until he came to Troas. He had to stop there because from that point he would need a ship to continue. Paul could not imagine what he was to do or where he was to go from that point.

Acts 16:8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. (KJV)

If we had met Paul during this time of delay in Troas, and asked him, "Paul, where are you going?" I'm sure his reply would have been, "I don't know." Paul does not know what the will of God is. Why? Because the Holy Spirit is leading him. Paul simply waits. What is going to get Paul out of Asia and move him over into Europe?

Acts 16:9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. (KJV)

This is Paul's call into Macedonia. Macedonia is across the Aegean Sea, over in Europe. Paul is in Asia. The Gospel is going to cross from Asia over into Europe. The Holy Spirit is moving him in that direction. Why wasn't Paul not moved east to China? Because the Holy Spirit moved him west to Europe. I thank God that this is the direction he went. Thank God the Gospel crossed over into Europe. This was a great and significant crossing.

Acts 16:10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. (KJV)

We endeavoured to go . . . we have never had "we" before. It has always been "they" or "them" or "he" or "him." Why now "we"? Because Luke has now joined the party. It is really quite a party now . . . 4 of them. There may have been others along too, but we have four who are named: Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke. This is quite a Godly group that crossed over into Europe.

Acts 16:11 Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; (KJV)

Neapolis is just a little inland from the coast.

Acts 16:12 And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days. (KJV)

Philippi was a colony in Macedonia, which means it was a Roman colony. This would be where the Roman governor lived. The people had Roman customs and spoke Latin. It would be a city where they would "do as the Romans do."

This is their first destination in Europe. Paul went to a strategic center to begin his ministry in Europe. That alone makes the church in Philippi a remarkable church. For other reasons, which we will learn when we get to the Epistle to the Philippians, we will see that this church was close to the heart of Paul. This was the church which loved him; and Paul loved this church. There were wonderful saints in this church.

Paul's Ministry In Philippi (Acts 16:13-40)

Acts 16:13 And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. (KJV)

Just outside the city, down by the river, there was a prayer meeting. I wonder whether that prayer meeting had anything to do with Paul coming over to Europe and the vision of the man of Macedonia! We will find that the "man of Macedonia" is a woman by the name of Lydia who was holding this prayer meeting.

Acts 16:14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. (KJV)

Thyatira (Rev.2:24) is in Asia Minor. It is the place where one of the seven churches was located which received admonition from our Lord in the second chapter of the Book of Revelation. This woman had come from over there. She worshiped the living and true God, but she had very little knowledge. Lydia was quite a remarkable person. She was a dominant person and a leader. Apparently she was the leader of the prayer meeting. She will be the first convert to Christ in Europe.

Acts 16:15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us. (KJV)

We do not know anything about Lydia's husband, but he must have been around there somewhere. Apparently Lydia was that was the dominant one in the family. Thank God she was that kind of woman because her entire household turned to God through her witness. We now find Paul and his group staying at her home. I would think that she was a person of means and was able to take care of them.

Acts 16:16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: (KJV)

This girl was actually possessed by a demon. We are seeing a great resurgence of demonism today. People get tied up in spiritism just by fooling around, not thinking there is any danger. BEWARE! There IS danger when you mess with Satan and his demons! Demonism is a reality. This girl in Paul's day was demon possessed. She was a slave girl and her masters were using her to make a profit. The Mafia had already begun back in those days.

Acts 16:17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. (KJV)

The same followed Paul and us . . . Silas, Luke, and Timothy . . . and cried, saying, these men are the servants of the most high God . . . the "Most High"(Gen.14:22). This girl seemed to know that Paul and his partners were serving Almighty god, NOT Satan or some no-account god. Whether she said this of her own accord, or was obliged to it by divine impulse; and whether it was through fear of Paul, and in flattery to him, or was with a good or bad design, is not known, but it is certain that what she said was Truth; and sometimes . . . even the devil himself, the father of lies (John 8:44), is compelled to speak it.

Acts 16:18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. (KJV)

Paul was grieved . . . either for the girl's sake, who suffered so much by her being possessed with this spirit, or, for their sakes who were seduced by him. Paul did as our Saviour had done (Mark 1:25), commanded the demon to come out of her. In the name of Jesus Christ . . . by the power and authority of Christ.

I sometimes wonder why Paul did not do that right away instead of waiting . . . And this did she many days. But since he was in obedience to the Holy Spirit, who am I to question this? There had to be a reason! NO doubt of that!

Acts 16:19 And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, (KJV)

Paul was able to cast out the demon in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. This stopped the profit her masters were making, and when you touch a man's pocketbook, he will begin to move. So now these men really turn against Paul and his group.

Acts 16:20-21 And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, 21 And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. (KJV)

Remember, Philippi was a Roman colony and practiced Roman idolatry. Paul and his men were charged with trying to change things. The real issue was that the girl's masters had lost their source of income.

Acts 16:22 And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. (KJV)

The multitude . . . the people alone could not authorize a mob practice, the rulers had to be behind it. Rent off their clothes . . . Paul's and Silas's clothes, to disgrace them all the more, or to ready them for scourging. Although some think that the magistrates rent their own clothes, in detestation of the pretended blasphemy which was laid to Paul's charge, as the high priest did (Mark 14:63).

Acts 16:23 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: (KJV)

Laid many stripes upon them . . . partly by the executioners, and perhaps some of the furious mob.

The jailer . . . this jailer's name was Stephanas, of whose conversion we read later (1 Cor.1:16; 16:15,17).

Acts 16:24 Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. (KJV)

These men are beaten, their backs ripped open, and they are locked into the stocks. What agony that the early church pastors had to endure!

Acts 16:25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. (KJV)

Think about this! This is midnight, they had been in those stocks for many agonizing hours. These men were singing praises to God after they had endured that horrible mob and while they were in such a miserable situation. No wonder the doors were shaken loose!

Acts 16:26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. (KJV)

Suddenly . . . how soon is prayer answered, when the time is right! God is nigh unto all that call upon him (Ps.34:17; 145:18).

There was a great earthquake . . . an earthquake often preceded some wonderful incident, such as the angel rolling away the stone from the grave (Mat.28:2). Although God could have delivered these His servants without an earthquake, yet, to show how important their deliverance was to Him, and that it was by NO force of their own, God showed His power in this way.

Every one's bands were loosed . . . either by the earthquake, or some secret power of an angel . . . we know not . . . maybe by God Himself.

Acts 16:27 And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. (KJV)

Think about this Philippian jailer. He was responsible for those prisoners. He quite naturally thought that IF the doors were open and the chains were lying loose, the prisoners would be gone. He would be responsible for their escape and he would be killed. So he stands there, ready to fall on his own sword. When a man is in a position like that, he thinks about eternity. This man did just that, as his question to Paul indicates.

Acts 16:28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. (KJV)

But Paul cried with a loud voice . . . knowing by divine revelation, what the jailer was about to do. Paul and Silas were in the innermost part of the prison, in a dark dungeon. Paul could not see him, unless the opening of the doors had let in some light. I think Paul also knew what plan God's grace had towards this man and his family. Saying, do thyself no harm . . . which reveals great tenderness and love, to one that had abused him and his companion so severely and cruelly.

For we are all here . . . not only Paul and Silas, but all the other prisoners as well. The others had been so intent on hearing the prayers and praises of the apostles OR so terrified with the earthquake, that they did not see that their bands were loosed, so they never thought or attempted to make their escape. As for Paul and Silas, all this happened to them, not for their deliverance in this way, as in the case of Peter, but to show the power of God, what He could do, and His Presence with His servants.

Acts 16:29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, (KJV)

Then he called for a light . . . he ordered his servants to bring in candles; and sprang in . . . went in at once, in a hurry, into the inner prison. And came trembling . . . not as before, because of the prisoners and their escape; nor merely or so much on account of the earthquake, but mainly because of the horror of his conscience, and the dreadful sense he had of himself as a sinner. Maybe the Holy Spirit convicted him and had convinced him of his sin before God. (Rom.3:10,23).

And fell down before Paul and Silas . . . not for religious worship, for they would not have permitted that (Acts 10:25-26), but to show the humility and brokenness of the jailer's heart, and I think also he realized these men were of God.

Acts 16:30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? (KJV)

I think the jailer had looked into eternity, and he knew he was a lost man. Brought them out . . . into his own apartment in the prison, or to some more open and free place.

Sirs . . . a term of respect given by the Romans and Grecians to such whom they honored, for now the jailer did honor these seemingly contemptible men.

What must I do to be saved? . . . He might have had some knowledge of a future state, which he here inquires about.

When people are afraid or in danger to the things of this world, they then consider "another world" . . . for instance, every one prays in a bad storm. But friend, it is only when God is pleased to set apart such fears and dangers . . . otherwise all the plagues of Egypt would just harden them all the more (Ex.7:3).

I think the jailer finally had to admit that Paul and Silas were the servants of the most high God, and that they could show him the way of salvation (Acts 16:17). It is his deepest desire that they would acquaint him with it. His language shows that he was sincere and expresses great eagerness and haste.

Acts 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (KJV)

How can a man be saved? By believing on the Lord Jesus Christ! Could he believe for someone else? NO, each person must believe on their own. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, and IF thy household believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, they shall be saved also. That is the meaning here.

Acts 16:32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. (KJV)

And they spake unto him the word of the Lord . . . the Gospel which comes from the Lord Jesus Christ, as the Author and Finisher of it (Heb.12:2). The Gospel concerns Him, He is the Subject of it, and is what was preached by Jesus Himself when on Earth (John 3:15-18). This is the Word, which is called the Word of salvation (Acts 13:26; Eph.1:13), the word of reconciliation (2 Cor.5:19), the word of life (Acts 13:48; Phil.2:16; 1 John 1:1), the word of righteousness (Heb.5:13), and the word of faith (Rom.10:8; 1 Tim.4:6) . . . because it publishes salvation by Christ, peace and reconciliation by His Blood, life by His death, His righteousness for justification, and proposes Him as the Object of faith, and encourages souls to believe in Him. Rom. 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (KJV)

And to all that were in his house . . . his whole family who were all alarmed by the earthquake, and were gathered together in the prison; for it seems that after this, the jailer had them go to his dwelling house (Acts 16:34). These appear to be adult persons, such as were capable of having the word of the Lord spoken to them, and of hearing it, so as to believe in it, and rejoice at it, for faith came to them by hearing.

Acts 16:33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. (KJV)

And he took them the same hour of the night . . . after they had preached the Gospel to him, and to his family. And washed their stripes . . . which were very many and deep, and covered with blood, and by now had begun to fester.

And was baptized, he and all his, straightway . . . by immersion, that being the only way in which baptism was administered, or can be, if it is to be called a baptism. This was done either in the pool near the prison; or in the river near the city, where the oratory was (Acts 16:13). It is not unreasonable to think that they might go out of the prison and be baptized, and then return to the prison again before morning.

What a difference! He had beat these men and put deep, raw, horrible gashes on them . . . now he washes their stripes. He is a changed man.

Acts 16:34 And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. (KJV)

All in one night Paul and Silas were flogged, thrown into jail, freed by the direct intervention of God, and now they are being royally entertained in the home of these rejoicing young converts!

Acts 16:35-36 And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go. 36 And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace. (KJV)

Why did they let them go? Because what they had done was illegal. Now they order the prisoners freed and get them out of town. But . . . Paul objects. He says that he will not leave.

Acts 16:37 But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out. (KJV)

They have beaten us . . . the magistrates, who commanded them to be beaten, are justly charged with the beating of them, as if they had done it themselves.

Openly . . . their injustice was no small matter. These servants of God had been openly scourged. Uncondemned . . . for they were not tried, or permitted to speak for themselves.

Being Romans . . . Paul and Silas had the privilege of Roman citizens and were not to be bound, much less beaten and least of all uncondemned without the consent of the Romans.

Let them come themselves and fetch us out . . . the apostle stands firm, that it might not be spread abroad, that the preachers were NOT wicked and vile men, and did NOT deserve such punishment.

Acts 16:38-40 And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans. 39 And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city. 40 And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed. (KJV)

And departed . . . Paul and Silas departed. It would seem that Luke and Timothy stayed in Philippi, or just did not go with Paul and Silas. For Luke, who, in Acts 16:10, uses the first person, and speaks of himself as with Paul and Silas, speaks of them now in the third person, implying that he was not with them until Paul had arrived at Troas, where Luke joined him from Philippi, Acts 20:5,6.

In Acts 17:14, also, Timothy is mentioned as being at Berea in company with Silas, from which it appears that he did not accompany Paul and Silas to Thessalonica. Paul and Silas, when they departed from Philippi, went to Thessalonica, Acts 17:1.

Book of Acts

Ch.1 . . Ch.2 . . Ch.3 . . Ch.4 . . Ch.5 . . Ch.6 . . Ch.7 . . Ch.8 . . Ch.9 . . Ch.10 . . Ch.11 . . Ch.12 . . Ch.13 . . Ch.14 . . Ch.15 . . Ch.16 . . Ch.17 . . Ch.18 . . Ch.19 . . Ch.20 . . Ch.21 . . Ch.22 . . Ch.23 . . Ch.24 . . Ch.25 . . Ch.26 . . Ch.27 . . Ch.28

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