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Acts 16 Commentary - Witness at Philippi -

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Bible Study - Acts 16

Three easy steps to start your free trial subscription to Bible Gateway Plus. Create or log in to your Bible Gateway account. Enter your credit card information to ensure uninterrupted service following your free trial. Begin reading God's Word ad-free with instant access to your new online study library. Want more information about Bible Gateway Plus? She is twice bound, spiritually and economically, for her masters are making quite a profit by exploiting her occult powers.

Verse 12:34

Yet what engages Paul with her is her spiritual opposition to his mission. Day after day she follows Paul and his team, shouting literally, "crying out repeatedly" , "These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved" literally, "a way of salvation".

This announcement both helps and hinders the mission. To Jewish ears it rings of truth, using terminology "Most High God," el-selyon that they considered the Gentile way of referring to the one true God Gen ; Num ; Dan ; ; , But to polytheistic pagans, who were henotheists as opposed to monotheists, there were many "highest gods"; the title had been attached to Zeus, Isis the mother-goddess of the kingdom of Lydia in Asia, and Baal. A pagan hearer would understand the term to refer to whatever deity he or she considered supreme Trebilco ; contrast Levinskaya And "a way of salvation"?

For the pagan it was release from the powers governing the fate of humankind and the material world Longenecker So though initially this declaration may seem a help to Paul as it attracts crowds and provides a good starting point for discussing the gospel with pagans, it has to be corrected each time and thus soon becomes an annoyance compare Acts That a demon-possessed girl is the source of this true but potentially ambiguous statement is another difficulty compare Lk , 41; Such Satanic tactics have not changed in two thousand years.

To counter them the message of salvation must always be proclaimed in clarity and fullness, with its divine source unambiguously credited. The exorcism occurs via direct confrontation. He turned around and said to the spirit authoritative command , "In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her! As at Jerusalem and Judea Acts and in Samaria , so now in a move across the sea toward the end of the earth, the advance of the gospel means the extension of the kingdom of God through a liberation of those under Satan's authority Experience the liberating power of the Lord Jesus Christ, who not only opens but also cleanses hearts This exorcism is both similar to and different from Jesus' ministry of exorcism.

Christians confronting the forces of evil today can find guidance here. Persons who were certifiably demon-possessed, as indicated by their talk and action, attacked Jesus and Paul in order to hinder the preaching of the kingdom of God. Both Jesus and Paul dealt authoritatively with the demon-possessed using the simple command "Come out! There the similarities end. Jesus' authority is personal and direct. The demons fear Jesus and what he can do to them, though they still seem to taunt Lk and parallels.

He rebukes them. Paul's authority and ours is christocentric and derived.

In the name of Jesus Christ. Exorcism must be approached today, then, with much care, humility and prayer. But there must also be bold confidence that Jesus is still bringing release to the captives Lk Whenever the gospel threatens vested interests, especially economic interests, it is bound to meet opposition compare So the slave girl's handlers, far from being pleased with her liberation, can think only of their loss of revenue. They seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities compare The four large stone steps that led up to the bema, "speaker's platform or judgment seat" where the authorities held court, at the midpoint on the north side of the marketplace forum, are still there today Finegan Roman local administration of civil and criminal cases was the responsibility of the duoviri.

Luke terms them strategoi , the equivalent of the honorable title praetor by which they often preferred to be called. Each was assigned two lictors, police escorts who carried the fasces et secures, the symbol of their authority, a bundle of rods bound together with thongs and often accompanied by an ax. Paul and Silas are brought before these magistrates and charged with disturbing the peace and introducing customs unlawful for Roman citizens to accept. The handlers appeal to law-and-order nationalism, anti-Semitic prejudice and ethnic traditionalism.

At the same time there is actually a kernel of truth in their words. In the Roman Republic a cult of Apollo centered on healing and prophecy, and under Augustus a magnificent temple to Apollo was erected on the Palatine. Preaching the way of salvation in the Lord Jesus, in whose name the "spirit Python," inspired by Apollo, was cast out, might certainly be viewed as advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.

The crowd rises up against the missionaries, and the magistrates seem to apply rough summary justice by having the lictors use their rods to beat them compare 2 Cor ; 1 Thess Such punishment was certainly within the magistrates' rightful power, though it was not to be used on a Roman citizen see below, vv. Since prisons functioned in ancient times more as places of detention for those awaiting trial than as places of punishment, the praetors' consignment of Paul and Silas to the jailer for safekeeping is not part of the summary justice contrast Marshall but precedes handing them over for trial before the proconsul Sherwin-White Security seems to have been of the utmost concern, for these pagan minds must have wondered, If they can cast out a soothsaying spirit, what will prevent them from using their magical powers to escape incarceration?

So delivered into the keeping of a jailer probably a retired military man , placed in the innermost part of the prison archaeology has identified a probable site adjacent to the forum; Finegan and with feet fastened in wooden stocks there is no indication that it was for torture, as Bruce [] contends; compare Polhill , the missionaries are left for the night.

As Christians have found throughout history, the state is often an instrument of persecution. A Jailer with a Hungry Soul At midnight the missionaries follow their Lord's example, now embodied in the church and especially its leadership Lk ; ; Acts ; ; ; ; compare Lk They lift hymns of praise as they pray. This joy in the midst of undeserved suffering manifests again the power of true salvation, which is victorious whatever the circumstances compare Acts ; Phil As a result their fellow prisoners--most if not all with a polytheistic mindset--are listening to a praise service exalting the excellencies of the one true God, whose word alone can show the way of salvation compare Acts , The Lord "made his praise glorious" when suddenly compare "the rocks cried out" as the foundations of the prison were shaken by a powerful earthquake, a phenomenon common in that region.

The prison doors flew open and the chains came loose, literally "came unfastened. Now therefore depart, and go in peace : If Paul and Silas were released the day after their beating, arrest, and imprisonment, why did God send the earthquake?

Acts 16-17

We see that the earthquake had absolutely nothing to do with freeing Paul and Silas from prison. But it had everything to do with the salvation of a certain prison guard and his household. Act Paul and Silas reveal their Roman citizenship. But Paul said to them, "They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison.

And now do they put us out secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out.

Then they came and pleaded with them and brought them out, and asked them to depart from the city. They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans : Because Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they had recognized civil rights, which were grievously violated by the Philippian magistrates. Upon learning this, the magistrates are filled with fear, because it was a grave offense to treat Roman citizens as Paul and Silas had been treated. Why didn't Paul and Silas reveal their Roman citizenship earlier? It is possible that they didn't have the opportunity, but it is more likely that the Holy Spirit was directing them to not reveal it until a certain time.

Our rights are not as important as our obedience to the will of God. God may ask us to lay down our rights for the good of another in this case, for the good of the Philippian jailer.

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How could Paul and Silas have proved their Roman citizenship? These were convenient in size … To claim Roman citizenship falsely was punishable by death. They came and pleaded with them and brought them out, and asked them to depart from the city : The magistrates act like any politicians act by instinct. They try to make their problem go away quietly by sweeping them under the rug. Act Paul and Silas leave Philippi on their own terms.

So they went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them and departed. They agree to go, but only after they had seen the brethren and encouraged them. Paul and Silas would not be hurried out of town until they had brought their work there to a conclusion. In Philippi, Paul and Silas left behind two notable converts: Lydia and the prison guard.

Each of these two had their lives touched by Jesus in very different ways. Lydia was a churchgoer; the guard was not.

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Lydia was prospering in business; the guard was about to kill himself. Lydia's heart was gently opened; the guard's heart was violently confronted. The guard had a remarkable sign - an earthquake, but all Lydia had was the move of the Holy Spirit in her heart. Both heard the gospel and believed, and through each of them their whole families were touched! The great missionary David Livingstone summarized the spirit of Paul when he said, "I am prepared to go anywhere, so long as it is forward. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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