The Macedonian Vision
16 Now Paul traveled to Derbe and also to Lystra. A disciple named Timothy was there, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer [in Christ], however, his father was a Greek. 2 Timothy was well spoken of by the brothers and sisters who were in Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted Timothy to go with him [as a missionary]; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, since they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decrees decided on by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem, for the churches to observe. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they continually increased in number day after day.
6 Now they passed through the territory of Phrygia and Galatia, after being forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in [the west coast province of] Asia [Minor]; 7 and after they came to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; 8 so passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9 Then a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man from [the Roman province of] [a]Macedonia was standing and pleading with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” 10 And when he had seen the vision, [b]we (including Luke) tried to go on into Macedonia at once, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
11 So setting sail from Troas, we ran a direct course to Samothrace, and the next day [went on] to Neapolis; 12 and from there [we came] to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia, a Roman colony. We stayed on in this city for several days; 13 and on the Sabbath day we went outside the city gate to the bank of the [Gangites] river, where we thought there would be a [c]place of prayer, and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had come there.
First Convert in Europe
14 A woman named [d]Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a dealer in [e]purple fabrics who was [already] a worshiper of God, listened to us; and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention and to respond to the things said by Paul. 15 And when she was baptized, along with her household, she pleaded with us, saying, “If you have judged me and decided that I am faithful to the Lord [a true believer], come to my house and stay.” And she persuaded us.
16 It happened that as we were on our way to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave-girl who had [f]a spirit of divination [that is, a demonic spirit claiming to foretell the future and discover hidden knowledge], and she brought her owners a good profit by fortune-telling. 17 She followed after Paul and us and kept screaming and shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God! They are proclaiming to you the way of salvation!” 18 She continued doing this for several days. Then Paul, being greatly annoyed and worn out, turned and said to the spirit [inside her], “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ [as His representative] to come out of her!” And it came out at that very moment.
19 But when her owners saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities in the market place [where trials were held], 20 and when they had brought them before the chief magistrates, they said, “These men, who are Jews, are throwing our city into confusion and causing trouble. 21 They are publicly teaching customs which are unlawful for us, as Romans, to accept or observe.”
Paul and Silas Imprisoned
22 The crowd also joined in the attack against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and ordered that Paul and Silas be beaten with rods.(A) 23 After striking them many times [with the rods], they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely. 24 He, having received such a [strict] command, threw them into the inner prison (dungeon) and fastened their feet in the stocks [in an agonizing position].
25 But about midnight when Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; 26 suddenly there was a great earthquake, so [powerful] that the very foundations of the prison were shaken and at once all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. 27 When the jailer, shaken out of sleep, saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, thinking that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, saying, “Do not hurt yourself, we are all here!” 29 Then the jailer called for torches and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 and after he brought them out [of the inner prison], he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
The Jailer Converted
31 And they answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus [as your personal Savior and entrust yourself to Him] and you will be saved, you and your household [if they also believe].” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord [concerning eternal salvation through faith in Christ] to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their bloody wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. 34 Then he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, since he had believed in God with his entire family [accepting with joy what had been made known to them about the Christ].
35 Now when day came, the chief magistrates sent their officers, saying, “Release those men.” 36 And the jailer repeated the words to Paul, saying, “The chief magistrates have sent word to release you; so come out now and go in peace.” 37 But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us in public without a trial, men who are Romans, and have thrown us into prison; and now they are sending us out secretly? No! Let them come here themselves and bring us out!” 38 The officers reported this message to the chief magistrates, and [g]when they heard that the prisoners were Romans, they were frightened; 39 so they came [to the prison] and appealed to them [with apologies], and when they brought them out, they kept begging them to leave the city. 40 So they left the prison and went to Lydia’s house; and when they had seen the brothers and sisters, they encouraged and comforted them, and left.
- Acts 16:9 Northern Greece.
- Acts 16:10 At this point Luke (the writer) apparently joined the journey and includes himself in the narrative, speaking in the first person.
- Acts 16:13 Apparently there were not enough Jews living in Philippi to establish a synagogue.
- Acts 16:14 The first recorded believer in Europe.
- Acts 16:14 This was an important and valuable fabric, having great demand, being used on the official toga in Rome and its colonies.
- Acts 16:16 Lit a python spirit. In Greek mythology, Python the earth-dragon (serpent goddess), was associated with the oracle at Delphi.
- Acts 16:38 Paul was a Roman citizen because he was born in Tarsus (22:28), capitol of Cilicia and a city that the emperor Augustus had pronounced “free” because of its support of Rome. Nothing is known of Silas’ family background, but if his name is short for “Silvanus,” it is a Roman name (taken from the god of the forest) and it could be that Silas was also born a Roman citizen. Details on Roman citizenship at that time are sketchy at best, but it is clear from Acts that punishing a citizen without a trial and guilty verdict was illegal, probably involving severe penalties for the magistrates in charge. Also, a Roman citizen charged with a crime had the right to go to Rome and be tried in the emperor’s court (25:9-12).