Timothy Joins Paul and Silas
1Paul and Silas came to the city of Derbe and then went on to Lystra, # 16:1 Lystra is modern-day Klistra, a city in Turkey. Derbe, also in Turkey, was about sixty miles from Klistra (Lystra). the hometown of a believer named Timothy. His mother was a Jewish follower of Jesus, but his father was not a Jew. # 16:1 The Aramaic is “his father was a Syrian” (an Aramaic speaker). In the time of Paul’s missionary journeys, the Aramaic language was commonly spoken in the region he traveled throughout in the Middle East. The Greek is “his father was a Greek.” 2Timothy was well known and highly respected among all the believers of Lystra and Iconium. 3Paul recognized God’s favor on Timothy’s life and wanted him to accompany them in ministry, but Paul had Timothy circumcised first because of the significant Jewish community living in the region, and everyone knew that Timothy’s father wasn’t a Jew.
4They went out together as missionaries, traveling to different cities where they preached and informed the churches of the decrees of the apostolic council of Jerusalem for the non-Jewish converts to observe. 5All the churches were growing daily and were encouraged and strengthened in their faith.
Paul’s Vision of the Man from Macedonia
6The Holy Spirit had forbidden Paul and his partners to preach the word in the southwestern provinces of Turkey, # 16:6 Or “Asia.” This does not refer to the continent of Asia as we know it today, but to the far western and southwestern provinces of Asia Minor (Turkey). so they ministered throughout the region of central and west-central Turkey. # 16:6 Or “Phrygia” and “Galatia.” The modern-day capital of Turkey, Ankara, is situated in the area known as Galatia. 7When they got as far west as the borders of Mysia, they repeatedly attempted to go north into the province of Bithynia, # 16:7 Both Mysia and Bithynia are northwestern regions of Turkey. but again the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to enter. # 16:7 We do not know how the Holy Spirit kept them from going into Bithynia, but it could have been through a warning given by means of a dream or vision. In any case, it is obvious the Holy Spirit was guiding his missionaries. He is the Lord of the harvest who prepares, imparts gifts, anoints, and sends out his servants to gather the nations to Jesus Christ. The book of Acts is best understood as the book of Activities of the Holy Spirit. Here he is designated “the Spirit of Jesus.” True and lasting fruit in ministry comes through the work and leading of the Spirit of Jesus. 8So instead they went right on through the province of Mysia to the seaport of Troas.
9While staying there Paul experienced a supernatural, ecstatic vision during the night. A man from Macedonia appeared before him, pleading with him, “You must come across the sea to Macedonia and help us!”
10After Paul had this vision, we # 16:10 Apparently, Luke now joins the missionary team going to Macedonia (which includes parts of modern-day Bulgaria and former Yugoslavia). This is the first instance in Acts of the gospel going to Europe. Luke likely left the group later, as he is not included in the team starting in v. 40. Portions of Acts appear to be Luke’s missionary travel journal. immediately prepared to cross over to Macedonia, convinced that God himself was calling us to go and preach the wonderful news of the gospel to them.
Paul Arrives at Philippi
11From Troas we sailed a straight course to the island of Samothrace, and the next day to Neapolis. 12Finally we reached Philippi, a major city # 16:12 The Aramaic is “the capital city.” in the Roman colony of Macedonia, and we remained there for a number of days. # 16:12 The Aramaic can be translated “In a matter of days we were well known in the city.” Other versions of the Aramaic read “We were there over certain holy days.”
13When the Sabbath day came, we went outside the gates of the city to the nearby river, for there appeared to be a house of prayer and worship there. # 16:13 Although implied in the Greek text, it is made explicit in the Aramaic, “We saw it was a house [place] of prayer.” Sitting on the riverbank we struck up a conversation with some of the women who had gathered there. 14One of them was Lydia, a businesswoman from the city of Thyatira who was a dealer of exquisite purple cloth # 16:14 Or “purple dye,” a rare commodity that would only be purchased by the wealthy. and a Jewish convert. While Paul shared the good news with her, God opened her heart to receive Paul’s message. # 16:14 Or “feared [worshiped] God.” The implication is that Lydia was a gentile convert to Judaism. 15She devoted herself to the Lord, and we baptized her and her entire family. Afterward she urged us to stay in her home, saying, “Since I am now a believer in the Lord, come and stay in my house.” So we were persuaded to stay there.
The Python Spirit
16One day, as we were going to the house of prayer, we encountered a young slave girl who had an evil spirit of divination, the spirit of Python. # 16:16 In the religious context of Greek mythology, she was an “oracle,” a medium who had the spirit of the gods speaking through her to foretell the future. The Python spirit was the epithet of Apollo, known as the Greek god of prophecy. An individual (often a young virgin) who became the oracle of Apollo was known as the Python, or Pythia. She had earned great profits for her owners by being a fortune-teller.
17She kept following us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Great High God, and they’re telling us how to be saved!”
18Day after day she continued to do this, until Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit indwelling her, “I command you in the name of Jesus, the Anointed One, to come out of her, now!” At that very moment, the spirit came out of her!
19When her owners realized that their potential of making profit had vanished, they forcefully seized Paul and Silas and dragged them off to the city square to face the authorities.
20When they appeared before the Roman soldiers and magistrates, the slave owners leveled accusations against them, saying, “These Jews are troublemakers. They’re throwing our city into confusion. 21They’re pushing their Jewish religion down our throats. It’s wrong and unlawful for them to promote these Jewish ways, for we are Romans living in a Roman colony.”
22A great crowd gathered, and all the people joined in to come against them. The Roman officials ordered that Paul and Silas be stripped of their garments and beaten with rods on their bare backs.
Miracles Can Come Out of Painful Places
23After they were severely beaten, they were thrown into prison and the jailer was commanded to guard them securely. 24So the jailer placed them in the innermost cell of the prison and had their feet bound and chained. # 16:24 Or “placed in stocks.”
25Paul and Silas, undaunted, prayed in the middle of the night and sang songs of praise to God, while all the other prisoners listened to their worship.
26Suddenly, a great earthquake shook the foundations of the prison. All at once every prison door flung open and the chains of all the prisoners came loose.
27Startled, the jailer awoke and saw every cell door standing open. Assuming that all the prisoners had escaped, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself 28when Paul shouted in the darkness, “Stop! Don’t hurt yourself. We’re all still here.”
29The jailer called for a light. When he saw that they were still in their cells, he rushed in and fell trembling at their feet. 30Then he led Paul and Silas outside and asked, “What must I do to be saved?”
31They answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved—you and all your family.” # 16:31 The implication is “you and anyone in your household who believes.” 32Then they prophesied the word of the Lord # 16:32 Or “spoke the word of the Lord.” This phrase is consistently used in the Old Testament for prophetic utterance of a supernatural origin. over him and all his family. 33Even though the hour was late, he washed their wounds. Then he and all his family were baptized. He took Paul and Silas into his home and set them at his table and fed them. 34The jailer and all his family were filled with joy in their newfound faith in God.
35At daybreak, the magistrates sent officers to the prison with orders to tell the jailer, “Let those two men go.” 36The jailer informed Paul and Silas, “The magistrates have sent orders to release you. So you’re free to go now.”
37But Paul told the officers, “Look, they had us beaten in public, without a fair trial—and we are Roman citizens. # 16:37 Paul didn’t notify them that he and Silas were Romans prior to their beatings, when they could have escaped persecution. Instead, they endured the brutal treatment and ended up leading their jailer to Christ. Do you think we’re just going to quietly walk away after they threw us in prison and violated all of our rights? Absolutely not! You go back and tell the magistrates that they need to come down here themselves and escort us out!”
38When the officers went back and reported what Paul and Silas had told them, the magistrates were frightened, especially upon hearing that they had beaten two Roman citizens without due process. 39So they went to the prison and apologized to Paul and Silas, begging them repeatedly, saying, “Please leave our city.”
40So Paul and Silas left the prison and went back to Lydia’s house, where they met with the believers and comforted and encouraged them before departing.