Isaiah 29:18… And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book,
A welcomed addition
“A Welcomed Addition” Acts 16:1
In our last study of the “Acts of the Apostles,” we seen Barnabas and Paul having a heated discussion about whether John Mark should go with them to Pamphylia.
Yes, Satan was also among the apostles trying to create strife. It is what Satan loves to do the most…disrupt the work of God and God’s children to snuff out the gospel of Jesus Christ being delivered to the heathen.
In the event of Acts 15:39-41, we seen Barnabas take Mark to Cyprus while Paul took Silas through Syria and Cilicia.
Now as we continue the journey of Paul and Silas we see an addition to the mission…
I. The Addition of Timothy
A) A certain disciple
Acts 16:1…Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek:
Let us examine this verse in its details that Luke brings to light…
“Then came he to Derbe and Lystra:” Of course this is talking about Paul coming to Derbe and Lystra. The reason for the focus of this verse to be on Paul is because the person Paul is about to meet will be his long time traveling companion, friend, and assistant. Timothy here is said to be in his late teens to early 20’s in age.
“…and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus,” Note that Timothy was “a certain disciple.” Not a “a certain man.” A certain man typically describes a lost person, or a non believer in Jesus Christ.
“…the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek:” It is amazing the minor details that Luke gives us here about Timothy. The reason I say “minor” detail is that he did not elaborate on name of “a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed.” We know for a fact that this “certain woman” was his mother Eunice. It is also clear here that she was a believer in Jesus Christ and already deceased. Luke also mentions the fact that Timothy’s father was Greek (meaning a gentile). This would work well for Timothy as he was well taught in both Jewish and Gentile cultures and beliefs that would later help him in his ministry with Paul
B) Of honest report
Acts 16:2…Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium.
In the KJV, the term here “well reported” means that they had a good report by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium.
The report of Timothy was better than the report of Paul from Lystra as you remember Paul was stoned and left for dead at Lystra. It is said that Timothy was more than likely part of the group that stood around Paul after his stoning as he was Paul’s “son in the faith.” Furthermore Timothy was baptized by Paul before the stoning.
I am sure you remember our study back in Acts 6:3…Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
If business is to be done in the church or any ministerial work to be performed, a man must be of honest report.
Men who make mistakes, lack knowledge, or sin while conducting business or perform their ministerial duties are expected to be honest in their repentance and not try to hide their sin or mistakes or failures.
Timothy was a young man, and young people make many mistakes. I am sure Timothy made many but he was honest in his character, his heart, his behavior, and his speech.
This is why he got a “thumbs up” from the men at Lystra and Iconium.
C) Timothy Circumcised
Now look at 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.
As you know from our study of the Jews and Gentiles in the Bible, Jews were circumcised while the Gentiles were not.
This is why Paul took Timothy and circumcised him. Remember Timothy’s father was a Greek (Gentile).
The reason for Timothy to be circumcised was so that he would be more readily accepted by the Jews and it would also allow Timothy better access to the Synagogues he would be visiting and preaching in with Paul and Silas.
I guess basically Timothy’s circumcision was a way that the Jews would look at Timothy as accepting Jewish heritage and denounce his Greek heritage.
The idea is to help the people you are ministering to in believing what you are preaching.
Did Timothy need to be circumcised? No. But he followed his mentor’s advice. If anyone knew how people would reject your ministry or your heart’s desire to preach the gospel…it was Paul.
D) Setting up officers in the church
Now let us look at 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.
What we must note first is that the only officers of the church at this time were the apostles. The churches were small to start out with and the only large church was at Jerusalem.
You will note that verse 4 states… “they delivered them the decrees for to keep,” meaning that the apostles gave to the churches that they passed through some “By-Laws” to follow.
Women were not allowed (as you should already know) to speak or vote in the church business. It is still that way today in most all Jewish congregations in the Middle East and here in the states.
It was true of the United States until the women’s liberation movement struck the heart of the churches through weak church leaders.
According to church historians, the decrees (laws) given to these churches were generally laws to keep the peace in the church between New Jewish and Gentile converts.
The laws were to allow “unity” among the brethren whether they be of Jewish or Gentile families.
The laws were further set to keep the Gentiles from bringing in idols and their customs or beliefs into the house of God to contaminate what God had ordained concerning worship.
The laws also were established to keep the Jews from manipulating the Gentiles because they were considered as God’s chosen people, or God’s anointed, or a peculiar people.
The perspective the apostles brought was that of Christ in John 3:16 (KJV) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
The “whosoever” is Gentile or Jew. Circumcised or uncircumcised.
Note the last part of Acts 16, and verse 4b “…that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.”
This tells us clearly who first ordained the laws of the church of Jesus Christ. It was the apostles and elders which resided and led the church at Jerusalem.
I also believe that the reason for them to make the bi-laws for the church was because they had more people, more experience, more diversified men to make a more well rounded rebuke during meetings and discussions concerning the laws.
E) The growth of the church
Look at verse 5… And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.
As the churches were established in the faith of Jesus Christ as their Lord and head of the church, let us discuss openly what may have caused the churches to increase daily… (Use the lines below to write ideas in discussion)
F) Forbidden to preach the gospel
Now note verse 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,
The apostles had exhausted their ministry with the churches in Galatia. Paul’s intentions were to go minister in Asia Minor (Turkey) and to cities which include Ephesus, Smyrna, Philadelphia, Laodicea, Colosse, Sardis, Purgamos, and Thyatira.
The interesting thing here is that the “Holy Ghost” had forbid the apostles to preach the word in Asia. WHY?
God always has a specific time for everything. I believe that the people there were not ready to receive what God was to give them.
A heart that needs God, a heart that needs repentance, a heart that needs fulfillment must be prepared first. The heart must be softened, and the person must acknowledge the fact that they need a savior.
The time was not now for Turkey’s residents.
Acts 16:7…After they were come to Mysia, they assayed (tried) to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered (allowed) them not.
This is the second time now that the Holy Spirit would not allow the apostles to go where they desired to go, or rather where they felt it necessary to go.
Again, we must realize the fact that many times we feel that what we are doing is the right thing until the Holy Spirit advises us otherwise.
I can remember several instances in my life where I had pressed towards the mark of what I wanted to do and paid dearly (punished greatly) for it.
In verse 7 we can know that God had not prepared the hearts of those who lived in Bithynia to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.
How do you think the Holy Spirit let the apostles know that God did not want them to go to Bithynia or Asia?
I wonder myself how the apostles come about knowing the Holy Spirit’s conviction and intensions. I know how the Spirit deals with me from time to time.
For me, I know the Spirit is talking with me when I keep getting interference with what I feel God wants me to do. My stubbornness many times cause me pain. I feel like Satan is trying to hinder God’s work in allowing me to do what I feel needs to be done, when all of the while I struggle doing what I feel is right. Then God finally has to slap me upside the head and say “Ron pay attention to Me… I am not ready for you to do that right now.”
Every single time I wonder why the Spirit doesn’t want me to do what I want to do… I realize exactly why. Because all of a sudden God reveals what it is that He wanted me to do.
In the next couple of verses (Vrs. 8, 9) we will find out “why” the Holy Spirit wanted the apostles to not go to Asia and Bithynia.
G) The Macedonian call
Now look at Acts 16:8…And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. 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.
Ah Ha! The reason the Holy Spirit was holding the apostles back from going to Asia and Bithynia was because there was a specific need in Macedonia that was more pressing.
I don’t know for sure, but I wonder if Paul was really ranting and raving about what He felt was necessary in their endeavor to spread the gospel throughout Asia and so he needed to receive a vision to calm him down.
So he gets this vision of a man from Macedonia asking Paul to come help him.
This is the 2nd of 6 visions that Paul is to receive from God.
Macedonia was where the cities of Thessalonica and Philippi were located.
Look closely at verse 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.
We know that Luke is writing Acts …correct? Yes. Note that Luke pens “after he (Paul) had seen the vision,” Luke must have been traveling with Paul and Silas because he includes himself by saying afterwards “…immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia,” The “we” is Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke including himself.
“…assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach” meaning that the four apostles had shared their convictions that was given them by the Holy Spirit as to their calling and decisions concerning the journey.
Now let us look into Acts 16:11…Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis;
These four were on a ministry mission. “…loosing from Troas” meaning that they set sail in their boat towards Troas.
Then let us note that they “came with a straight course to Samothracia” which is a small island 20 miles in circumference where they could rest for the night and not get off their course wasting time.
They got up the next day and traveled to Neapolis. No dilly-dally.
Note verse 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.
Philippi was about 10 miles inland from Neapolis. All this travel left them weary so when they came to Philippi they stayed several days.
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.
Evidently the Jewish community did not have the minimum of 10 Jewish men who were heads of their household that were required to form a synagogue.
Apparently, this is why they went out of the city and held a service by the riverside. Most of the prayer service was by women.
Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke all decided to stay and speak to these ladies.
H) One specific woman
Now let us get into the testimony of this specific woman in 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.
I believe that it is important to notice how God worked in this woman…
“…a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira,” She was a “saleswoman” who was popular among the ladies who enjoyed sewing. It is said that she may have carried the name “Lydia” because she was from the city of Lydia which produced much of the cloth material in the color purple. It was considered to be an exotic fabric worn specifically by kings and queens and the more prominent folk in that area.
“…which worshipped God,” Luke was very descriptive here in telling us that she “worshipped God.”This means that she was like most all Jews in that she worshipped in the synagogues and offered sacrifices, and prayed to God. But Jesus was not a part of their vocabulary. Jesus name was expelled by many Jews and considered to be a false prophet. (Like Cornelius in Acts 10:2, who believed in God, but lacked conversion from Judaism to Christianity)
“… heard us:” She paid close attention to what they had to say. The word “heard” is a past tense of the word “hear” meaning that she had intently listened to the words of the apostles as they spoke like no other. Do you know why? They spoke as if they had been with Jesus. E.F. Hutton had nothing on Jesus. Jesus was the first one that could be truly said about… “When He spoke, people listened.”
“… whose heart the Lord opened,” This phrase right here means that God opened the door of opportunity to this woman. This is the “grace” of God. God does not open the door to everyone. As Paul said in Ephesians 1:4 “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:” God chose us. He chose this woman named Lydia, by opening her heart. In contrast, he hardened the heart of Pharaoh. This is the grace of God. Aren’t you thankful for that grace offered to us, a Gentile nation? I am. I might also add that when God opens your heart, it means that He has opened up your understanding of the scriptures as mentioned in Luke 24:45.
“… that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.” The word “attended” means that she paid attention to and responded appropriately and immediately.
Acts 16:15…And when she was baptized, It was common practice by the new church that immediately following a person’s repentance and conversion to Jesus Christ, they were baptized. (see Acts 2:41, and 8:38)
“…and her household,” This too is like the Cornelius conversion.
“… 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. The true heart of conversion is evidenced by an immediate desire for fellowship, hospitality, and urgency (constrained) in order to obtain more wisdom of the gospel of Jesus Christ in which these men of God seemed to have an abundance of knowledge.
II. Paul and Silas Put in Prison
A) It started with a slave girl
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:
I would like to note first of all the first part of verse 16 “…as we went to prayer.” When Satan or his demons see the people of God trying to strengthen themselves through prayer, bible reading or worship to God, they feel it is their duty to hinder it and try to discourage God’s people. If Satan and his scoundrels cannot hinder or discourage, he will try to delay or get God’s men to be sidetracked and lose their focus on the work of God.
In this case (verse 16), we see where Satan is trying to interrupt the prayers to be offered in their worship at the synagogue.
Let us notice how Satan has learned the weakness of men in verse 16b… “a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us,”
The word “damsel” means a young woman (not always but many times a maid).
Also note the description of this young woman given by Luke as being a woman “possessed with a spirit of divination.” “divination” is …
A python spirit – It is an expression from Greek mythology. It is a group of believers of Apollo the Grecian god of fine arts, music, poetry, medicine and eloquence.
Python was a snake that guarded the oracle (temple) at Delphi.
This young woman was a medium in contact with demons who supposedly could predict the future.
The last part of verse 16…which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:” …tells us of how good she was at her divination. She made her masters (those who controlled the business) a lot of money because she was very good at it. What was their business? “” In other words, fortunetelling.
The Most High God is acknowledged – Look at verse 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.
What we must understand is that people of this time (Mainly Gentiles) believed that the more gods that you possessed and tried to please the more protected and blessed you would be. This is why many of the churches at this time worshiped the “Most High God (El Elyon, God of Abraham).”
Did you notice in verse 17…The same followed Paul and us” meaning that these fortunetellers continued to follow Paul and the disciples of Christ.
You should also notice that these fortunetellers recognized the fact that Paul and the disciples were “…servants of the most high God.”
How did they recognize Paul and the disciples as being servants of God? Because Paul and the disciples possessed a different Spirit within them that was exampled in their behavior, their thinking and of course as it was mentioned here “…which shew unto us the way of salvation.” They were soul winners!
Every study, every message, every conversation, every lesson taught, everything they did and said was pointing to Christ as to being the ONLY WAY of salvation.
B) The action that led to Paul’s imprisonment
Look now in 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.
IMPORTANT TO KNOW…The world does not judge as God does. The world’s perspective on God’s Law and what is right is not the same as God’s perspective and expectations. Man does not see as God sees.
Remember that the fortunetellers came to Paul and his disciples. They were not invited guests, but rather “visitors” to the church of Jesus Christ.
Let us examine the incident that led to Paul and Silas being thrown in jail.
In examining verse 18 we can see these things take place…
“And this did she many days.” These people (fortunetellers) stayed several days to fellowship and learn of the gospel that was being taught in the church. We must also notice that “she” did not travel alone. We also know that by the verbiage in the next verse that her “masters(men of whom she served and traveled with)” were not mentioned as being there “many days.” I personally believe that Luke left this out to bring the young woman into focus as being the sole believer of what the apostle’s and their disciples were telling. “She” was not skeptic, she was all in on this Jesus movement. Everything that she learned made sense to her and the Holy Spirit convicted her so much that it showed up in her actions that caused Paul to be grieved.
“But Paul, being grieved,” Why was Paul grieved? I believe that he saw this young woman fortuneteller being tormented, struggling with herself, watched her fidget and squirm in her seat, shed a tear or two. Paul witnessed this young woman under conviction of the Holy Spirit and had to respond.
“… turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” Paul became an exorcist. He commanded the demon (the spirit) to come out of her. This was not done by the power of Paul. This action took place by the power “…in the name of Jesus.” The secret to this power can only be exampled by the person’s willingness to repent and believe, and by the disciple’s belief that it can be done “in the name of Jesus.” This is the same “power” Jesus granted the apostles in Acts 1:8.
“And he came out the same hour.” She was immediately relieved of the evil spirit that possessed her and saved from an eternal life in hell by the power in the name of Jesus “…the same hour.”
C) The Capture of Paul and Silas
Do you know what I think? I think that those spirits that left the woman moved into her masters and filled them with GREED.
Look at Acts 16:19a…And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, STOP right here. This right here is the sole purpose in life, the sole reason for their association with this young woman, and the sole reason for Paul and Silas capture… “the hope of their gains was gone,”
This means that the hope of any more money to be made off this young woman’s talent of fortunetelling is wiped out. Their future is bleak and possibly nonexistent.
Like Satan, they cared not for the young woman’s soul, her future, or her well being. They only cared about the money (gains) to be made off of her.
THE GREED of these masters led to this action in verse 19b…they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,
As you remember from previous studies, “the market place” is the place where all the business, courts and legal procedures took place.
Paul, Silas and the disciples went along willingly (as did Christ when He was accused) because they knew that they had done no wrong.
D) The accusers of the brethren
You and I as children of God know who “the accuser of the brethren” is mentioned in Rev. 12:10. We see him now in Acts 16:20.
Let us examine the accusations against the apostles…
“And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, Hold it. What was wrong with being a Jew? Remember, they are where? In Rome. The Emperor of Rom at that time was Claudius. He had previously issued an order that all Jews be expelled from Rome (see Acts 18:2).
“…do exceedingly trouble our city,” Here, Paul and Silas are being accused of being “troublemakers.” Remember that Timothy and Luke were also with Paul and Silas. They were not arrested. WHY? Because Timothy was half Gentile, half Jew while Luke was a full Gentile.
21) And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.”,” What law was broken here? It was technically true that Roman citizens were not to practice any foreign religion that had not been sanctioned by the state. It was however a false charge of the masters to say that they “troubled the city.” I believe that they may have been worried that they might influence others to follow Christ as well and that “troubled” the Emperor.
E) Accusing others always causes pain
In the above verses we seen the apostles going to a prayer meeting on the Sabbath day that was held down by the riverside. There was a woman who was possessed with an evil spirit that visited the prayer group and Paul removed the evil spirit through the power of the Holy Spirit of God.
The magistrates (leaders and business men who employed the young woman) saw that their business was ruined because of Paul’s actions and hauled Paul and Silas to court.
In court, many accusations are made against Paul and Silas. Yes, the Judaizers were correct, the law protecting business was just. Paul and Silas had done only as the young woman had desired of them. She was not happy, and she showed great interest in becoming a child of God by coming to the prayer meetings. Paul had recognized the fact that she was being forced by these men to use her evil fortune telling for their benefit, so he removed the evil Spirit.
But the greater issue at hand here is this… God’s law was violated.
What Law is that? Go to Leviticus 20:7 (KJV) Sanctify (set yourself apart from evil)yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.
This was a Law of God given to Moses for the Jews to observe. This was a Law for all of Israel, and God’s people everywhere to observe.
You may say… “Well, that is O.T. Law and it doesn’t apply to us N.T. Christians.” HAHAHA what a ridiculous and absurd statement.
Go to 1 Peter 1:15…But as he which hath called you(This means you whom God has chosen to be His child, just as God had called this young woman in Acts 16 to be His child by convicting her to come to the prayer services) is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
Note this now in I Peter 1:16) Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
Peter was making a direct quote from Lev. 20:7 in the O.T. Peter is quoting the Mosaic Law given by God Himself that is a requirement meant for ALL PEOPLE, ALL OF GOD’S CREATION!
Anytime that God’s Law is challenged with man’s law, we must choose God’s Law.
This woman had been called of God to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Those business men that owned her could go find another source to suite there divinations should they desire it. The sad thing is that they were so full of greed that they were not convicted to change their ways as the woman was.
So in essence… their accusations against Paul and Silas were false.
Any time you accuse someone of stealing, lying, cheating, making you upset, or wrong doing to your person…you are acting like your father the devil. As Jesus said “…the deeds of your father ye will do.” Satan is the accuser of the brethren and always will be until he is cast into the bottomless pit.
Accusations will cause pain and suffering to the accused and to those associated with the situation.
Now look at the pain and suffering caused by their accusations…
Acts 16:22…And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. 23) And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: 24) Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.
Let us examine the pain caused by the accusations of the magistrates…
Caused everyone present in the court to be upset and angered (with an unrighteous anger) against God’s children.
Caused verbal abuse by the magistrates in their accusations and the angry response of the people of the court.
Threats of beating would cause fear and panic for Paul and Silas.
Paul and Silas was beaten and whipped.
Paul and Silas were thrown in jail.
Paul and Silas were put in shackles inside the jail cell.
All those involved (People angered, the magistrates, the guards, etc.) were now guilty of beating, false accusing and whipping Jesus Christ. You may ask “How?” Because Jesus said… “…Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.Matthew 25:40 (KJV)” Jesus is saying here that when you do something to God’s children, one of the sheep that belong to Jesus Christ… you are doing it to Him (Jesus).
III. Free At Last
A) The Power of Prayer
Now look at Acts 16, and verse 25) And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
Typically, jail cells were nothing but little holes cut out of the rocky earth of that area that were buried deep underground with stairs leading to the ground above.
These cells would also consist of 4 inch thick slabs of wood with heavy gauge hinges and locks that were bolted and anchored to a stone foundation. There was no way of escape, not even for James Bond.
With all of that said… we now realize how loud Paul and Silas were praying and singing if the other prisoners heard them, and the guards above ground, and by the doors heard them.
I am not saying that they were shouting but rather that they were not whispering either because “…the prisoners heard them.”
I believe that Paul and Silas were praying something like “Lord you know that we have done no wrong in your eyes and these jailers are just doing their duty to sustain life. If it is your will Lord, we would like to continue to serve you and lead others to the saving grace of God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Free us Lord, and show these believers thy power to save, thy power to set free the captive, and thy power to protect Thine own.”
Then I believe they may have sung songs like… “Redeemed how I love to proclaim it, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Redeemed through His infinite mercy His child and forever I am…redeemed, redeemed, redeemed by the blood of the lamb, redeemed, redeemed, His child and forever I am!”
B) The power of God to free His own
If God wants His children to be free, they will be free. If God wants His children to be jailed or in prison, they will be. His judgment is swift, and just towards those who claim the Lord as their King.
Let us look at verse 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.
God had a plan for Paul and Silas. God’s plan did not include Paul and Silas to waste away in prison. God’s message about His Son (The gospel) had to be spread throughout Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth.
I further want us to notice the magnitude of the release of these prisoners.
God could have “quietly” turned the locks on the doors, removed the beam lock from its saddles, and then “quietly” unhinged the shackles from the legs of the apostles.
God sent an earthquake that may have registered on the rector scale about 7.5. Then He used that to surgically cut the foundations in the areas that secured the doors and the hoops that were anchored in rock flooring, and unlocked the shackles on the prisoners feet that were spread apart (This was done to create cramps in their legs causing discomfort).
If God wants to show mankind His power by this kind of display, it is not to show off or strut in front of man. God has a purpose for the display of power.
I believe in this case, God wanted the guards to recognize the power of God through Paul and Silas and the God they serve and the Lord of their life.
C) Salvation comes to many
First you will note in verse 26, that God’s children are given salvation from prison, salvation from death (due to their testimonies of being followers of Jesus Christ), and salvation because they are God’s children sworn to obedience and the will of God.
Now look at the salvation that comes to “…the keeper of the prison” in 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.
I am sure that all of us already know the history here of the Roman guards that guard prisoners. The king would automatically kill the guards that allowed prisoners to escape with no trial, no jury, and no questions asked.
This is why the double secured doors, the shackles, little food, guards at the gate and the cell doors, and no daylight that would reach the cells.
It was extremely difficult. This is what magnified the power of God.
Apparently, the quake shook so bad that it knocked everybody for a loop or caused them to lose their consciousness. It must have come to a complete silence after the quake that it caused the guard to think everyone had left.
Now notice the Divine intervention here of God towards a man that has nothing to live for, death is eminent, and his job or source of income has definitely been abolished.
Look at verses 28) But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. 29) Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,
It was pitch black down in the dungeon. All candles and lanterns were snuffed out.
Then out of nowhere a voice (Paul’s voice) billows through the darkness “…saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.” Now I am thinking to myself that it is pitch black where the guard was and maybe throughout the whole cell block. How did Paul know that the guard was going to take his life? How did Paul (who was blind for three days on the road to Damascus) see the sword drawn from the jailer’s sheath ready to do himself harm?
I’ll tell you how he saw it. God gave him the light (if not a physical light a spiritual light known as understanding and knowledge of the things of God).
God’s light is special in that it has a dimmer switch like no other man has invented or ever will invent.
Remember, Paul and Silas were filled with the Holy Spirit of God which gave them power to see in darkness.
We have that same power folks. Power to see in darkness. When the world is blind and ready to end their life, it is God who gives light unto those He has chosen to be His children so that they can conquer death, hell and the grave through His Son Jesus Christ.
This guard in the prison must have known that this was an act of God. He must have known that God was bringing judgment to his house for putting his sheep in prison.
Now look at Acts 16:30…And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
I have said this time and time again…You must recognize your condition before you can do anything about it. (Much like the saying… “you cannot fix it if it is not broke”)
This jailer knew he was lost, knew he needed this salvation that Paul and Silas prayed and sang about.
He asked the same question that the Ethiopian eunuch had asked “…what must I do to be saved?”
Now I want us to look carefully at this next verse and not twist it to make it fit our miserable life…. verses 31) And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
One man’s salvation does not automatically transfer to his family also. Some idiots believe that because one is saved then all are saved that are a relative to the saved.
People also think that all you have to do is believe that Jesus is who He claims to be and that He died, was buried, and arose the third day. That is salvation.
In a sense, this is true. That is the first step. It is a continual desire in your heart to make Jesus Lord of your life, purpose for living, reason for worship, and a desire to see others changed and accept Him as their personal Savior. THAT is salvation.
Satan believes that Jesus is God’s Son, and knows that Jesus died, was buried, and arose from the dead…Satan knows that, believes that. But He has never lived a life that honors God, never allowed Jesus to be Lord of his miserable life, and never, never, never allowed God to rule his mind heart and soul (since he was thrown out of heaven).
The reason Paul told the jailer that “…and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Is because after a person sees… 1) The power of God, 2) The response of a loved one that is sincere, 3) a huge change made in a family member’s life…it causes the others to have a desire to become saved.
On top of that, God gave to all humans several senses that aid us in our life. Anyone can know when a person is scared, frightened, upset, hiding something, lying, and etc. You can also know when someone is sincere and glowing with the light of God at the transformation spiritually made in a body.
Note verse 32…And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.
What do you suppose the apostles “…spake unto him the word of the Lord,” I mean, what was the word of the Lord that they said to the guard and his house?
I personally believe that each apostle gave testimony to what they saw in Christ Jesus because some of them were “eye witnesses” to Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. I believe they further explained how Jesus escaped the grave through His father’s power sending angels to remove the tomb stone.
I believe that this may have struck his heart because he possibly had known the guards of the tomb of Jesus and how they too were afraid for their life.
This guard of the jail over the apostles was not only concerned for his life after the escape but rather more concerned for his soul in the hereafter. He did not want to go to hell.
D) A Baptism Service
Look at what takes place now in verse 33) And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.
Please understand Luke’s writing here in using the word “he.” The word “he” implies the guard.
He (the guard) took the apostles who had been beaten by the hand of the magistrates of Rome.
Every colony had two male magistrates that served as judges.
In this case, these two magistrates were guilty of not upholding Roman justice. What were the Roman laws that were ignored?
The two men (Magistrates/judges) were supposed to investigate the charges. They did not investigate the charges against the apostles.
The magistrates were supposed to conduct a proper hearing. There was no hearing, no jury, no inquest for the apostles.
The magistrates were supposed to also give the accused (the apostles) a chance to defend themselves.
The magistrates had them beaten. This was an illegal punishment because the apostles had not been convicted of a crime. The serjeants(mentioned down in verse 35) were the ones that were commanded by the magistrates to beat Paul and Silas with several rods tied together.
After the guard had taken Paul and Silas out of the jail, found a place suitable for bathing, the guard washed the stripes of the apostles who had been beaten.
I think of this verse in Psalm 89:30…If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; 31) If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; 32) Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes.
God has always judged his children in this manner as we are supposed to judge others likewise (not individually as a vigilante but rather through the courts of law or church elders). God said I will “visit” meaning that God will bring judgment (punishment) on those who transgress (rebel against God) with a rod, and God will bring judgment (punishment) on their iniquity (perversions of the truth) with stripes.
Paul and Silas were not guilty of transgression (rebellion) nor guilty of iniquity (perversion).
The guard realized that and tried to remove or at least heal their wounds.
This also reminds me of the verse in Isaiah 53:5 (KJV) …But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his (Jesus) stripes we are healed.
Looking again at verse 33) And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.
Some commentaries avoid commenting on this verse all together and others claim that the word “straightway” means immediately. This is true. The error of the commentators I have read is that they assume that since they were in a jail/dungeon where and embodiment of water was not available, that they just sprinkled them with water.
I whole heartedly disagree. If this was in today’s lazy society of Americans and many different religions, I would say that is highly probable that they just sprinkled water on them or used a “Super soaker” water gun.
But back in the days of the Acts 16 period…highly unlikely that they would resort to being satisfied with sprinkling. I personally believe that they got away from the prison and went down to a nearby river or the Aegean Sea and were baptized by submersing which was the practice of followers of Jesus Christ because he was baptized in the same fashion to depict his death burial and resurrection as well as our death to sin, burial of past sins, and resurrection of a new body in Christ.
Now look at verse 34) And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.
When someone does something to you that makes you happy, excited or overwhelmed, you want to do something special for them too.
I might add that this is what we as Christians call “fellowship.” 1) Prepare a meal with hands that are willing to do service for the servants of the Lord, 2) Rejoice, by talking about the things that God has done for you recently and what your plans may be in the future for the ministry or worship of the Lord, 3) the whole time believing in God’s grace, His goodness, His power, His glory, His salvation, and His kingdom. This is “fellowship.”
When the Luke wrote “…and was baptized, he and all his, ”
The term “all his” means that all his relatives servants and guests were baptized. NO INFANTS were baptized. It was never a practice of Christians!
Infants are secured under God’s wing of grace until they are able to understand their lost condition.
E) Paul not about to leave quietly
Paul was a different sort of person. His character had been many times challenged by God’s people. He was brash, harsh, bold, loud, obnoxious, threatening, and rude at times. He was a man that got things done no matter the cost.
Paul never ran from a challenge. Paul was a kind of man that would go bear hunting with a switch, or try to tame a lion with a toothpick. Paul was a hot headed person who would ride a dead horse in the ground.
Look at verse 35) And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go.
It is funny that all of a sudden they decide to let these men go without any kind of punishment.
Look at the next two verses 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. 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.
Paul was asked to “…go (leave) in peace.” Paul never left in peace. He was always stirring up the hornet’s nest. Paul, especially here was upset because it was Romans that inflicted pain upon another Roman (Paul and Silas were citizens of Rome), they did not get a fair trial, they were Roman citizens that were beaten by Romans, they were also bound (put in shackles) also against the law for one Roman to do to another.
These magistrates are now faced with the possibility of being removed from office. With Paul wanting to contest their imprisonment and lack of a trial this caused the magistrates to become very concerned.
Now look at the later part of verse 37b “…and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out.”
Paul is saying here… “We are bound and jailed illegally and everyone saw us thrown into prison which brought shame upon us and you want us to sneak out of here quietly with our tails between our legs looking guilty as charged? No my friends… You bring your guilty souls down here and escort us out of jail so that people will see that it is you who made the mistake of jailing and beating innocent people.”
Read verse 38) And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they(Paul and Silas) were Romans. 39) And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city.
Surprisingly enough these magistrates eat “humble pie” and walk down to the prison where Paul and Silas are kept and release the two men of God. I believe that by the verbiage “…and desired them to depart out of the city.” Means that they gave them an escort out of the city to make sure there were no witnesses left behind to give the magistrates a bad name.
Now in closing, look at verse 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.
The place of Lydia was a place where they called “home” while in Philippi. I believe that there were brethren there near the house of Lydia on praying grounds for the imprisonment of Paul and Silas and concerned for their lives.
This is why Luke said that “…they (the apostles) comforted them (the brethren)” and then they left to continue their missionary journey that God had called them to.
The “welcomed addition” to the group of apostles was often silent and more of a background supporter. These kinds of people are very much needed and appreciated in the ministry.
People in the background (Like Timothy) often do much of the work in the ministry that no one notices or sees.
Timothy later becomes Paul’s right hand man becoming a welcomed addition to the Kingdom of Heaven.