Acts 16 Bible Commentary

The Geneva Study Bible

(Read all of Acts 16)
16:1 Then 1 came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a a Jewess, and believed; but his father [was] a Greek:

(1) Paul himself does not receive Timothy into the ministry without sufficient testimony, and permission of the brethren.
(a) Paul, in his second epistle to Timothy, commends the godliness of Timothy's mother and grandmother.

16:2 Which was b well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium.

(b) Both for his godliness and honesty.

16:3 2 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.

(2) Timothy is circumcised, not simply for any necessity, but in respect of the time only, in order to win the Jews.

16:4 3 And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the c decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.

(3) Charity is to be observed in things indifferent so that regard is had both of the weak, and of the peace of the Church.
(c) These decrees which he spoke of in the former chapter.

16:6 4 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were d forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,

(4) God appoints certain and determinate times to open and set forth his truth, so that both the election and the calling may proceed of grace.
(d) He does not show why they were forbidden, but only that they were forbidden, teaching us to obey and not to enquire.

16:9 5 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.

(5) They are the ministers of the Gospel by whom he helps those who are likely to perish.

16:10 6 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.

(6) The Saints did not easily believe every vision.

16:13 7 And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where e prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted [thither].

(7) God begins his kingdom in Macedonia by the conversion of a woman, and so shows that there is no exception of persons in the Gospel.
(e) Where they customarily assembled themselves.

16:14 8 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.

(8) The Lord opens the heart to hear the word which is preached.

16:15 9 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.

(9) An example of a godly housewife.

16:16 10 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of f divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:

(10) Satan transforms himself into an angel of light, and covets to enter by undermining, but Paul openly stops him, and casts him out.
(f) This is a sure sign of the god Apollo, who would give answers to those that asked him.

16:18 And this did she g 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.

(g) Paul made no haste to do this miracle, for he did all things only as he was led by the Spirit.

16:19 11 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,

(11) Covetousness of evil gain and of profit is an occasion for persecuting the truth. In the meanwhile, God sparing Timothy, calls Paul and Silas as the stronger to battle.

16:20 12 And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,

(12) Covetousness pretends a desire for common peace and godliness.

16:21 13 And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.

(13) It is an argument of the devil to use the authority of ancestors, though not distinguishing exactly which ancestors.

16:22 14 And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat [them].

(14) An example of evil magistrates, to obey the fury and rage of the people.

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

(h) Because he wanted to be more sure that they did not escape, he set them fast in the stocks.

16:25 15 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.

(15) The prayers of the godly do shake both heaven and earth.

16:27 16 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.

(16) The merciful Lord, as often as he desires, draws men to life even through the midst of death, and whereas they justly deserved great punishment, he shows them great mercy.

16:28 17 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.

(17) In means which are especially extraordinary, we should not move our foot forward, unless God goes before us.

16:33 18 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed [their] stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.

(18) God with the very same hand wounds and heals when it pleases him.

16:35 19 And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go.

(19) Shame and confusion is in due time the reward of wicked and unjust magistrates.

16:37 20 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.

(20) We must not render injury for injury, and yet nonetheless it is lawful for us to use such helps as God gives us, to bridle the outrageousness of the wicked, so that they do not hurt others in a similar way.

16:38 21 And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans.

(21) The wicked are not moved with the fear of God, but with the fear of men: and by that means also God provides for his, when it is needed.

16:40 22 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.

(22) We may avoid dangers in such a way that we never neglect our duty.