Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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ACTS - Chapter 16

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Acts 16

Supplemental Commentary:

THE MISSIONARY JOURNEYS OF ST. PAUL  13, 1 -- 28, 31 (continued)

2.  Second Missionary  Journey  15, 36 -- 18, 22 (continued)

[16, 1-5:  Timothy.  Cf. Supplemental Commentary's Introduction to the First Epistle to Timothy.]

16, 6-10:  Departure for Macedonia.  Lengthy disputes have been carried on over the meaning of through Phrygia and the Galatian country.  Galatia had a restricted and a wide meaning; its restricted meaning refers to the region originally occupied by the conquering Gauls and called Galatia after them, while the wide meaning refers to the Roman Province of Galatia which embraced also the districts to the south and west of that region.  Special importance attaches to the question because St. Paul wrote an Epistle to the Galatians.  The "North Galatian theory" holds that the churches addressed in that letter were in the original Galatian territory; the "South Galatian theory" places them in the southern part of the Roman Province which was evangelized by St. Paul on his first journey.  A third theory, claiming that both sections were addressed, has found few advocates, since the crisis which called forth the letter seems to have affected a rather restricted area.  There are two questions here: did St. Paul ever preach in Northern Galatia? and did he send his letter to North or to South Galatia?  There seems to be no great difficulty in separating these two questions.

St. Luke's narrative seems to call clearly for preaching in the northern region.  St. Paul had already visited Derbe and Lystra (16, 1) and, it would seem (from cities in 16, 4), also Iconium and Antioch of Pisidia.  The Greek text, accepted by nearly all critics, reads: "They passed through Phrygia and the Galatian country, after having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia."  Asia is the Roman Province of Asia to the west of the regions through which St. Paul had been traveling.  Excluded from Asia, he went through Phrygia and the Galatian country.  The Province of Galatia cannot be meant, for he had been in that province all the way from Derbe.  The reference must then be to Galatia proper, the northern part of the province.  This need not imply a long stay there nor an extended journey to the more remote parts; the population was scattered and St. Paul may have pushed on as well as he could.  On reaching the northern part of this Galatian territory he was east of Mysia, a part of the Province of Asia, and he thought of continuing northward into Bithynia.  Being forbidden by the Holy Spirit once more he turned west and went through Mysia to Troas on the coast.  This gives an intelligible itinerary.  On his third journey St. Paul visited these regions in reverse order; starting as usual from Antioch in Syria, he "went through the Galatian country and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples" (18, 23).  This shows that converts had been made on the earlier journey.  No difficulty is caused by the omission in 18, 23 of Derbe and the other cities of the south, because St. Luke tries to be brief and usually calls attention only to new features in the apostolic ministry.  The new feature in 18, 23 is the strengthening of those lately converted, the older churches having already had a second visit and a strengthening of their faith in 16, 5.

16, 35-40:  Freedom.    37.  It was unlawful to scourge a Roman citizen.

Confraternity Bible:

Timothy  1 And he reached Derbe and Lystra.  And behold, a certain disciple was there named Timothy, son of a believing Jewess, but of a Gentile father.  2 And he was highly thought of by the brethren in Lystra and Iconium.  3 This man Paul wished to go forth with him, and he took and circumcised him on account of the Jews who were in those parts, for they all knew that his father was a Gentile.  4 And as they passed through the cities, they delivered to the brethren for their observance the decisions arrived at by the apostles and presbyters in Jerusalem.  5 So the churches grew stronger and stronger in the faith and increased in numbers daily.

Departure for Macedonia  6 Passing through Phrygia and the Galatian country, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in the province of Asia.  7 And when they came to Mysia, they tried to get into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; 8 so passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.  9 And Paul had a vision one night; a Macedonian was standing, appealing to him and saying, "Come over into Macedonia and help us."  10* As soon as he had the vision, straightway we made efforts to set out for Macedonia, being sure that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

Preaching at Philippi  11 So sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and the next day to Neapolis, 12 and thence to Philippi, the principal city of a part of Macedonia, a Roman colony.  We stayed some days in this city; 13 and on the Sabbath we went outside the gate to the bank of the river, where there seemed to be a place of prayer.  And we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there.  14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple from the city of Thyatria, who worshipped God, was listening; and the Lord touched her heart to give heed to what was being said by Paul.  15 And when she and her household had been baptized, she appealed to us and said, "If you have judged me to be a believer in the Lord, come into my house and stay there."  And she insisted upon our coming.

A Girl Possessed  16 Now it came to pass as we were going to the place of prayer that a girl met us who possessed a divining spirit and brought her master much profit by soothsaying.  17 She followed Paul and ourselves and kept crying out, saying, "These men are servants of the most high God and they proclaim to you a way of salvation."  18 This she did for many days; until Paul, being very much grieved, turned and said to the spirit, "I order thee in the name of Jesus Christ to go out of her."  And it went out that very moment.

Arrest of Paul and Silas  19 But on seeing that their hope of profit was gone, her masters seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the market place to the rulers; 20 and bringing them to the magistrates, they said, "These men are making a great disturbance in our city; they are Jews, 21 and are advocating practices which it is against the law for us to adopt or observe, since we are Romans.  22 And the people joined in the attack against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and ordered them to be beaten with rods; 23 and after inflicting many lashes upon them they cast them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely.  24 On receiving such orders, he cast them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

25 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying, singing the praises of God, and the prisoners were listening to them; 26 and suddenly there was such a great earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken.  And at once all the doors flew open, and everyone's chains were unfastened.  27 And the jailer, roused out of sleep and seeing that the doors of the prison were open, drew his sword and was about to kill himself, thinking that the prisoners had escaped.  28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, "Do thyself no harm, for we are all here."  29 Then calling for a light, he ran in and trembling for fear fell down before Paul and Silas; 30 and bringing them out, he said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"  31 And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, and thy household."  32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his household.  33 And he took them at that very hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he and all his family were baptized immediately.  34 And taking them into his house, he set food before them, and rejoiced with all his household over his faith in God.

Freedom  35 But when day came, the magistrates sent the lictors with the instructions, "Let these men go."  36 And the jailer reported these words to Paul: "The magistrates have sent word that you are to be released; now therefore come forth and go in peace."  37 But Paul said to them, "They have beaten us publicly and without trial, although we are Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now are they going to put us out secretly?  By no means, but let them come themselves and take us out."  38 The lictors reported these words to the magistrates, and on hearing that they were Romans they were alarmed 39 and came and appealed to them; and taking them out, besought them to leave the city.  40 And leaving the prison they went to Lydia's house, and after seeing the brethren and encouraging them, they departed.


10: We: St. Luke is now accompanying the Apostle.