Acts 16

The movements of God’s servants and the dispensing of the means of grace by them are in a particular manner under a divine guidance and direction, and those who are under the check and conduct of the Spirit, though they be called upon to suffer much for Jesus’ sake, may be sure God will in some way get glory to Himself by their testimony and persecutions.

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:

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

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.

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.

5 And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.

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,

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

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.

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.

11 Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis;

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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

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.

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.

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,

20 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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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,

30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.

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

34 And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.

35 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.

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.

38 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.

Acts 16:1-13 – ​Guided to New Fields

   Paul had a wonderful influence over young men. Timothy, Titus, and Mark bore his impress. When circumcision was insisted upon, as in the previous chapter, no one opposed it more stoutly than Paul; when it conciliated Jewish prejudice, he was quite willing to concede it, since in itself it was a matter of perfect indifference. As the stoning of Stephen was the first step toward winning Paul, so his own stoning at Lystra on the former occasion, as we have noted, probably gave him Timothy.
   Our path through life will often be indicated by the fact that the doors which lead off the straight track are barred and bolted, so that we have no option save to go on. Paul was blocked first on the left, that he should not go into the province of Asia; then on the right, that he should not go into Bithynia. Finally he reached Troas, and stood face to face with the ocean that lay between him and Europe.
   Here he had a vision which made a deep impression upon him. He saw a man of Macedonia standing in an attitude of entreaty and saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. Note that word, assuredly, Acts 16:10. God often leaves us to infer our course. He does not ignore His own great gift of reason. —Through the Bible Day by Day

Acts 16:14, 27—A certain woman named Lydia…. The Keeper of the prison.

   These are typical cases, put here in juxtaposition for the teaching and comfort of believers in every age. Each of them needed Christ, and each was brought into his true light; but each came in a different way. Lydia’s heart opened as a flower beneath the touch of the sun, so gradually and imperceptibly that it was impossible to say the precise moment of her new life. The jailer came to Christ suddenly, startlingly, amid the crash of an earthquake. The one was drawn by love; the other driven by fear. A distinguished missionary says, “The Lord awakened me with a kiss”—it was so that Lydia’s heart was won. Another tells us that the Lord sprang on him like a lion—it was thus with the jailer.
   Lydia.—Do not always be looking out for signs and manifestations, for marked experiences. We do not notice the lines of longitude and latitude as we cross the ocean of life. Without knowing it, your character may be in the process of transfiguration. By insensible gradations the work of God may be proceeding in your heart. The tide is rising daily by tiny wavelets that appear to recede as fast as they advance. Do not measure progress by experiences; only be yielded to God, and let Him do his will.
   The Jailer.—Do not undervalue the influence of fear. There are some natures that never will be awakened unless they are startled by being brought face to face with the consequences of sin. If men will not come by the highest motives, be thankful that they come by any. Remember it is not belief about Christ, about his death or resurrection, but trust in Him as a living Person, that saves from the power and penalty of sin. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 16:31). He is a living Person. Trust Him now. —Our Daily Homily

Acts 16:14-24 – ​Welcomed; Attested; Imprisoned

   This was an epoch-making moment, but how quietly it is recorded. There was no heralding of the gospel which was to transform Europe. The need for it was unspoken and unfelt. It stole in like the dawn.
   Paul’s first experiences in Europe were not promising. In most cities there was a Jewish synagogue; but here only a small group of pious women in an arbor by the riverside. Let none despise the day of small things. What a contrast between Lydia, who had come over from Asia Minor, and employed a number of hands in the dyeing trade, and the poor girl who was possessed by the demon! Yet each of them recognized the divine ministry of the newly arrived messengers. What a contrast, also, between the gradual response of Lydia’s heart in the revelation of the risen Christ, to whom it opened as a flower to the sun, and the sudden awakening of the jailor!
   When Christ touches the pockets of worldly men, He arouses their direct opposition. The world is troubled when it loses its gains; the saints are troubled when they see Christ’s property being injured! See Acts 16:18. —Through the Bible Day by Day

Acts 16:25-40 – ​Salvation in the Jail

   Some, as we have seen, are converted by the gentle opening of the heart; others amid the convulsions of the storm. The first knowledge of salvation may have reached the heart of the jailer through the saving of the possessed girl, Acts 16:17. If only the heart is right with Christ, it can sing in the darkest night; and the impression of those holy songs must have wrought still further upon the conscience of this rough Roman official, who had treated his prisoners with uncommon severity, Acts 16:24. The inner prison! Perhaps some of our readers have been in it! They have come to an end of themselves and their feet are fastened!
   But God has His own way of deliverance and never forsakes His own. Art thou in the stocks today? Then pray and sing praises! Choose, for instance, Psalm 103. God will be thy very present help. Thou shalt win thy jailer, and become a monument of God’s saving mercy. There is no course for the convicted sinner but to trust in the salvation wrought upon the Cross; or still better, in Him who wrought it.
   Paul was perfectly justified in insisting upon his civil rights when he had the opportunity, Acts 16:37. It made the way easier for his new converts. —Through the Bible Day by Day