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Jesus Fish 3

Acts: Chapter 16

Written By: Steve Shirley

     Let’s begin by reading (Acts 16:1-10).

     (Verses 1-2)(NKJV) “Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek. (2) He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium.”

     “Lystra” – Lystra was a city located in the Roman province of Lycaonia. It was built on a small hill (which is still visible) in what is today modern Turkey. No mention is made of a synagogue in Lystra, which may indicate it had a small Jewish population. During Paul’s first missionary trip, he was stoned to death (or unconsciousness) at Lystra (Acts 14:19).

     “Derbe” – Like Lystra, Derbe was also located in the Roman province of Lycaonia, and built on a small hill, which is still visible today. It was located about 18 miles southeast of Lystra, and was the home of Gaius (Acts 20:4).


***Biography of Timothy***

     “Timothy” (Gr. “Timotheus”) – His name means “honoring God” or “revering God.” He is mentioned by name 27 times in the New Testament. As we learn here, he was from Lystra (in the province of Galatia: modern Turkey), and his mother was Jewish, and his father Greek. In (2 Tim 1:5), we learn that his mother’s name was “Eunice,” and his grandmother’s name was “Lois” (we do not know his father’s name). The fact that Paul says here his father “was Greek” implies that he may have died by this time. In (2 Tim 3:15), Paul tells us that his mother and grandmother instructed him in the Scriptures from childhood.

     Being both Jew (mother) and Gentile (father) made him of mixed blood, which was abhorrent to many Jews (just like the Samaritans). However, he was “well spoken of by the brethren” in his hometown.

     It is quite likely that Timothy, as well as Eunice and Lois, were converted to Christianity during Paul’s 1st missionary journey when he visited Lystra (Acts 14:6-23). 

     Paul calls Timothy:

his “son in the faith” (1 Tim 1:2)
“son” (1 Tim 1:18)
“my dearly beloved son” (2 Tim 1:2)
“my beloved son” (1 Cor 4:17)

     Most scholars believe that this implies that Paul led Timothy to the Lord. (Paul also calls Onesimus his “son” in Phlie 1:10, and Peter calls Mark his “son” in 1 Pet 5:13.)

***Fun fact: Timothy is the only 3rd generation Christian mentioned by name in the New Testament.

     Between Paul’s first visit and second visit (his 2nd missionary journey here) to Lystra (about 7 years between visits), Timothy had reached his late teens or early 20’s (1 Tim 4:12). Paul chose him to be his assistant at this time, and had him circumcised (indicating that his Greek father certainly prevented it when he was an infant).

     He was ordained to the office of an evangelist by the “presbytery” (a board of elders) (1 Tim 4:14)(2 Tim 1:6)(2 Tim 4:5).

     Timothy then accompanied Paul on this 2nd missionary journey, going to Phrygia and Galatia to Troas, Samothrace, Neapolis, Philippi, Amphipolis, Apollonia, Thessalonica, Berea, and Athens. From Athens, Paul sent Timothy back to Thessalonica (1 Th 3:1-5). He later rejoined him at Corinth (1 Th 3:6).

     After these events, Timothy passes out of sight for about 5 years, at which time we find him “ministering to” Paul at Ephesus (Acts 19:22). From there, Paul sent him ahead to Macedonia and Corinth (1 Cor 4:17)(1 Cor 16:10). He was with Paul when he wrote 2nd Corinthians and Romans from Corinth at this time (2 Cor 1:1)(Rom 16:21). He then accompanied Paul to Asia (Acts 20:4).

     When Paul was a prisoner at Rome, Timothy joined him. We can see that he was with Paul when he wrote the “Prison Epistles” from prison in Rome (Col 1:1)(Phil 1:1)(Phile 1:1). It is also possible he may have suffered imprisonment for a time as well (Heb 13:23). Some time after Paul’s release from prison, it is believed that he and Timothy revisited Ephesus, with Paul leaving a weeping Timothy behind (2 Tim 1:4) and going on to Macedonia where he sent this letter to him.

     We last hear of Timothy when, during Paul’s second and final imprisonment in Rome, he wrote (2nd Timothy), asking Timothy to rejoin him as soon as possible (2 Tim 4:9-13). Paul was martyred soon after this letter.

     Eusebius (writing in about 325 A.D.) reported that Timothy later became the first bishop of the church at Ephesus. Early versions of the King James Bible also stated this in their footnotes. However, a number of scholars today do not believe this to be so.

     Tradition holds that Timothy died a martyr’s death under Domitian or Nerva. Foxe, on the other hand, states that “as pagans were about to celebrate a feast called Catagogion, Timothy, meeting the procession, severely reproved them for their ridiculous idolatry, which so exasperated the people that they fell upon him with their clubs, and beat him in so dreadful a manner that he expired of the bruises two days later.”

     Due to his youth, it appears that Timothy may have struggled with people looking down on him (1 Tim 4:12), and also possibly with “youthful lusts” (2 Tim 2:22). He may also have had problems with being fearful (2 Tim 1:7)(1 Cor 16:10-11), and being strong (2 Tim 2:1).

     However, Paul considered Timothy more “like-minded” and compassionate than anyone (Phil 2:19-20). He had “proven character” (Phil 2:22). Submitting to circumcision as an adult certainly showed his commitment and dedication. He continued serving the Lord in spite of many physical ailments (1 Tim 5:23). In addition, Paul trusted Timothy enough to send him as his personal representative on several key missions (1 Th 3:1-5)(Acts 19:22).


     (Verse 3)(NKJV) “Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek.”

     We have just left the decision of the “Jerusalem Council” (Acts ch. 15), which stated that Gentiles did not need to be “circumcised.” So, why has Paul decided immediately after this that Timothy needs to be “circumcised?”

     While God had called Paul to be a missionary to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15)(Gal 1:15-16)(Gal 2:7), he followed a tradition of taking the “word of God” to the Jews first (i.e. see: Mt 10:5-6, Mk 15:24, Lk 24:47, Rom 1:16). Over and over, we see him going first to Jewish “synagogues” when entering a new city (Acts 13:5,14)(Acts 14:1)(Acts 17:1-3,10,17)(Acts 18:4,19)(Acts 19:8)

     As Paul continues this pattern going forward, he would be taking Timothy with him. “Knowing Timothy’s father was a Greek,” and that Timothy was uncircumcised, it would lead the Jews to believe that Timothy had embraced his Gentile heritage rather than his Jewish heritage. This would affect his witness to them, and might also limit his access to Jewish synagogues (and the Temple). Therefore, Timothy chose circumcision, so that it would eliminate a barrier that could prevent him from fully reaching the Jews with the Gospel. I believe Paul clearly describes what Timothy did in (1 Cor 9:19-23). Let’s turn to this.

     The question may also asked, “Why then did Paul not allow Titus to be circumcised in (Gal 2:1-5)?”

     The difference is that the Judaizers insisted that Titus had to be circumcised in order to be saved (become a Christian). The Jerusalem Council declared that this teaching was wrong, and decreed it to be stopped. However, in the case of Timothy, his circumcision was “not” tied in any way to salvation, but rather, to aid in his witness to the Jews.


     (Verses 4-5) “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.”

     The “decrees” spoken of here are the contents of the “letter” that was sent out from the Jerusalem Council regarding the Gentiles and their salvation (Acts 15:23-29).

     Do you remember what those “decrees” were?



     Notice in verse 5 that the CHURCHES (not new converts) “increased in number daily!” So many people were sharing the Gospel, and leading people to salvation, that they had to open new churches “daily” for them!


     (Verses 6-8)(NKJV) “Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. (7) After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. (8) So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas.”

     These verses are SO interesting! When you look at this on a map, you will see that they came from the “east.” They tried to head “south” in Asia (they were actually in northern Asia) to cities like Ephesus, Philadephia, Laodicea, but were “forbidden by the Holy Spirit.”  So, they continued going northwest until they got to Mysia. Then, they tied to head “north” to Bithynia, but “the Spirit did not permit them.” So, they kept going west, and came to Troas. There was nowhere left to go! All that laid to the west was the Aegean Sea. What do we do?

     Before we go on, how might the Holy Spirit have “forbidden,” and “not permitted” the missionaries to go to these places?


     (Verses 9-10)(NASB) “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and pleading with him, and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” (10) When he had seen the vision, we immediately sought to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”

     After a period of time (we aren’t told how long), Paul received a “vision” in the night, with man from Macedonia asking him to “help” them. An answer! They must travel west, across the Aegean Sea to Macedonia! The Gospel was being taken into Europe!

***Note: This was 1 of 5 visions that Paul received from God: see: (Acts 9:11-12)(Acts 16:9-10: here)(Acts 18:9-10)(Acts 22:17-21)(2 Cor 12:1-4).

     “Macedonia” (from “Unger’s Bible Dictionary”) – “A country lying N of Greece, whose rivers were the Strymon and the Axius, and whose mountains included Olympus and Athos. Some of its chief cities were Amphipolis, Apollonia, Berea, Neapolis, Philippi, and Thessalonica. It was conquered by the Romans, 168 B.C. Under the famous Philip II and his son, Alexander the Great, it attained the summit of its power (359-323 B.C.).”

     Notice in verse 10 that there is a change from the 3rd person “they” (see verses 6-8) to “we.” This indicates that the author, Luke, has now joined Paul, Silas, and Timothy. He will continue with them until verse 17. “We” sections are also found in (Acts 20:5-15)(Acts 21:1-18)(Acts 27:1-28:16).


     Next, let’s read (Acts 16:11-15).

     (Verses 11-12)(NKJV) “Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and the next day came to Neapolis, (12) and from there to Philippi, which is the foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony. And we were staying in that city for some days.”

     “Samothrace” – About 70 miles from Troas, it was a small island (with very high mountains) in the Aegean Sea. It was commonly used as a stopping place for travel from Troas to Neapolis.

     “Neapolis” – About 120 miles (no stopping) from Troas, it was the port city of Philippi. From there, it was about 10 miles inland to Philippi. Today, it is called Kavalla, and has about 50,000 residents.

     “Philippi” (from “Nelson’s NKJV Study Bible”) – “Named after the father of Alexander the Great, Philippi was a Roman Colony loyal to the empire. The city itself was organized by the state of Rome and functioned as a military outpost. The people who settled the city were probably army veterans, who were given the rights of Roman citizens. Typically such a colony would possess an autonomous government and be immune from tribute and taxation. Because of its proximity to the sea as well as to one of the major roads to Europe (the Egnatian Way), Philippi was a commercial city in Macedonia. Its influence throughout the region made it a good place to begin preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

     (From the “Life Application Bible”) – “Philippi was the key city in the region of Macedonia (northern Greece today). Paul founded a church there during this visit (A.D. 50-51). Later Paul wrote a letter to the church, the book of Philippians, probably from a prison in Rome A.D. 61). The letter was personal and tender, showing Paul’s deep love and friendship for the believers there. In his letter to them he thanked them for a gift they had sent, alerted them to a coming visit by Timothy and Epaphroditus, urged the church to clear up any disunity, and encouraged the believers not to give into persecution.”


     (Verse 13)(NKJV) “And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there.”

     From the “MacArthur Study Bible” – “Evidently, the Jewish community did not have the minimum of 10 Jewish men who were heads of households required to form a synagogue. In such cases, a place of prayer under the open sky and near a river or sea was adopted as a meeting place. Most likely this spot was located where the road leading out of the city crossed the Gangites River. (women who met there) In further evidence of the small number of Jewish men, it was women who met to pray, read from the OT law, and discuss what they read.”


     (Verse 14)(NASB) “A woman named Lydia was listening; she was a seller of purple fabrics from the city of Thyatira, and a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.”

     “Lydia” – Thyatira was a city in the Roman province of Lydia. In Bible times, people were generally given names that had a personal meaning. Since the meaning of “Lydia” is unknown (other than the name of the province she was from), it is “possible” that this was not her “actual name,” but rather, it just meant “the one from Lydia.”

     “A seller of purple fabrics” – Purple dye was very rare, and therefore, very expensive. It was harvested from a certain type of shellfish. Lydia used this dye to color different types of fabric. Because of its expense, purple fabric was usually found only on royalty, or the wealthy. 

     Because of her trade, there is evidence that Lydia was also wealthy. Her “household” likely included servants (verse 15), and she had a house big enough to accommodate the 4 missionaries (verse 15), and possibly a church as well (verse 40). (There is no indication that she was married.)

***Note: While Jesus was being beaten and mocked before His crucifixion, a “purple robe” was placed on Him (Mk 15:17,20)(Jn 19:2,5). “Purple thread” was used in the construction of the Tabernacle (Ex 26:1,31,36), and the clothing of the High Priest (Ex 28:6,8). In the story of the “Rich Man and Lazarus” (Lk 16:19-31), the “rich man” was “clothed in purple.”

     “Thyatira” – A thriving manufacturing and commercial center in New Testament times, it was also known for its worship of Apollo. It is one of the “seven churches which are in Asia” which are mentioned in (Rev 1:11)(Rev 2:18-29). Today it is called Akhisar (meaning “white castle”), and it has a population of about 50,000. Several sources say that archaeologists have found inscriptions in the ruins there which confirm that it was known for its dyeing.

     “A worshiper of God” – Similar to Cornelius in (Acts Ch. 10), she was likely a Gentile who had converted to the Jewish faith (a “proselyte”). (Thereby, forsaking the worship of Apollo her city was known for.)


     “The Lord opened her heart to respond” – Another controversial verse in the “election” debate. We won’t get into this debate again here. However, let me give the short version of my view.

     The Bible is clear that “no one” can come to Jesus unless they are first drawn by the Father (Jn 6:44), and convicted by the Holy Spirit (Jn 16:8). God desires that ALL men would be saved (1 Tim 2:3-4)(2 Pet 3:9)(Ezek 18:23,32)(Titus 2:11)(Mt 18:14), and He draws ALL men. Jesus gave His life for ALL men (Jn 1:29)(1 Jn 2:2)(Jn 12:32)(Heb 2:9)(1 Tim 4:10). However, we can refuse this drawing and conviction (Jn 5:40)(Mt 23:37)(Lk 13:34)(Acts 7:51)(Mt 21:42). Those who do so until the end of their lives will spend eternity in Hell.

     In this instance in (verse 14), when the Lord “opened her heart to respond,” she was being “drawn” and “convicted” by the Lord. She had the option “not” to respond. However, as we see in the next verse, she “did” respond, and therefore, she (and her household) was baptized.


     (Verse 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.”

     The first Christian baptism in all of Europe!

     The Greek word for “constrained” here is “parabiazomai,” which means: “As a verb. primarily denotes “to employ force contrary to nature and right, to compel by using force” (Strong’s Concordance). In other words, Lydia REALLY wanted them to stay at her house! This word is used only one other time in the New Testament; when Jesus was on the road to Emmaus with the two men (Lk 24:29).


     Next, let’s read (Acts 16:16-24).

     (Verses 16-18) “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 (fortune-telling): (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.”

     “A certain damsel” – A young lady, who was being used as a slave by her “masters.” Sadly, she was demonically “possessed,” and without any care for her well-being, they used that to make money for themselves.

     “Divination” / “Soothsaying” (“fortune-telling”) – The practice of these things is condemned by God (Deut 18:9-12)(2 Kin 17:17(Mic 5:12). Those who practice such things are being directed by demons. For more on this, see:

     “A spirit of divination” (From the “Zondervan NIV Study Bible”) – “A demonic “python” spirit. The python was a mythical snake worshiped at Delphi and associated with the Delphic oracle. The term “python” came to be used of the persons through who the python spirit supposedly spoke. Since such persons spoke involuntarily, the term “ventriloquist” was used to describe them.”

     What the “damsel” kept saying about Paul, and the missionaries was true. So, why did this “grieve” Paul, and in turn cause him to cast a demon out of her?


     Can what happened in these verses still happen today?


     (Verses 19-21)(NKJV) “But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities. (20) And they brought them to the magistrates, and said, “These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; (21) and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe.” “

     It is interesting that there is no mention of Timothy and Luke being seized too. Why? MacArthur mentions in his Study Bible that: “The Emperor Claudius issued an order around that time expelling the Jews from Rome (18:2). This may explain why they apprehended only Paul and Silas, since Luke was a Gentile and Timothy half-Gentile.”

     The “magistrates” (Gr: “strategos“) were military leaders, who served as judges within Roman colonies. Each colony had two of them.

     The “masters” of the “slave girl” were not upset about the things that they were accusing Paul and Silas of, but rather, they were upset that they had lost their source of income. They brought up the accusations to make sure that Paul and Silas paid for taking their income from them.

     The accusations that the “masters” brought against Paul and Silas were partly true, and partly false. The “Life Application Bible” says, “inscribed on the arches outside the city of Philippi was a prohibition against bringing an unrecognized religion into the city.” This being the case, Paul and Silas were “teaching what was not lawful,” however, they were not “exceedingly troubling the city,” or “causing an uproar” as some versions say.


     (Verse 22)(NKJV) “Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods.”

     “The multitude rose up” – For similar instances, see: (Acts 19:28-34)(Acts 21:30-36)(Lk 23:18-25)

     Most scholars agree that it was not the “magistrates” themselves who performed the “beating,” but rather it was done by “lictors,” men that worked under them (see v 35 – “officers”). The “Liberty Bible Commentary” says that “Each lictor carried a bundle of rods and an axe, symbolizing power to inflict capital punishment.”

     It was against Roman law to “beat,” or punish someone without that person first receiving a trial, and then being found guilty of committing a crime. Therefore, the “magistrates” were breaking Roman law in what they were doing here.

     The “rods” that were used to “beat” someone consisted of several long, thin strips of wood, which were tied together in a bundle. Paul mentions in (2 Cor 11:25) that he had received this punishment 3 different times (also see: 1 Th 2:2). History (i.e. Livy, Cicero) tells us that the person receiving the beating was indeed totally naked.


      (Verses 23-24) “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.”

     “many stripes” – We are not told how many “stripes” Paul received here, but in (2 Cor 11:23) Paul mentions that he received “stripes above measure.”

     The “inner prison” was the most secure part of the prison. It had no windows, and was cold and damp, with a terrible stench.

     These “stocks” were made of two pieces of wood, with holes cut into them. The each ankle was placed into a bottom half hole, and then a top half hole was attached to the bottom half hole, and locked into place. These holes were often put at a distance from each other, so as to spread the legs apart, and cause painful cramping for the victim. In some instances, but apparently not here, there were also “stocks” for a person’s head and wrists.

     By placing Paul and Silas in the “inner prison,’ in “stocks,” the “jailor” was “keeping them as safely” as was possible. Escape would be very unlikely.


     Finally, let’s read (Acts 16:25-40).

     (Verses 25-26) “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them (“were listening to 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.”

     Rejoicing in the midst of our trials and persecutions is mentioned over and over in the Bible:

(James 1:2-4)(NASB) Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials. (3) knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. (4) And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

(2 Cor 12:9-10) And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (10) Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

(Mt 5:10-12) Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (11) Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. (12) Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

     Also see: (Rom 5:3-4)(Jn 16:33)(2 Cor 4:8-9)(Jn 15:18-20)(Acts 5:41)(1 Pet 1:6-7)(1 Pet 3:14)

     The Greek word used here for “heard / listening” is “epakroaomai.” The “NKJV Study Bible” defines this as: “to listen with pleasure,” as if listening to beautiful music.” This Greek word is used nowhere else in the Bible.

     The JFB Commentary says this about verse 25: “As the word here employed is that used to denote the Paschal hymn sung by our Lord and His disciples after their last Passover (Mt 26:30), and which we know to have consisted of Ps 113:1-118:29, which was chanted at that festival, it is probable that it was portions of the Psalms, so rich in such matter, which our joyous sufferers chanted forth; nor could any be more seasonable and inspiring to them than those very six Psalms, which every devout Jew would no doubt know by heart.”

     Some other earthquakes mentioned in the Bible: (Ex 19:18)(1 Sam 14:15)(1 Kin 19:11-12)(Amos 1:1)(Zech 14:5)(Mt 27:51,54)(Mt 28:2).


     (Verses 27-28) “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.”

     Under Roman law, the penalty for a guard allowing a prisoner to escape was death (Acts 12:19 – tie to: Acts 27:42). Rather than face the humiliation of a public execution (and possible torture), the guard here viewed suicide as the better option.

     It is interesting to note that no one attempted to escape. Why do you think this is?


     (Verses 29-32)(NASB) “And the jailer asked for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear, he fell down before Paul and Silas; (30) and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (31) They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (32) And they spoke the word of God to him together with all who were in his house.”

     “Trembling with fear” – The jailer had likely heard (or seen) the demon possessed lady call Paul and Silas “servants of the Most High God.” He saw the change in that lady after her demon was cast out. He saw Paul and Silas rejoicing and praising God after being beaten and imprisoned.  He realized that their God had sent an earthquake. He realized they could have escaped, and did not, likely to keep him from killing himself. It was all too much for him. He fell to his knees “trembling,” knowing that their God was the true God.

     Let’s discuss these verses in more depth. Does “believe” here simply mean that we need to believe that Jesus existed in order to be saved? Is there more to it? If there is more, what else is there?



     “and your household” – This does not mean that if the jailer “believed,” then his whole household would be saved as well. Each member of the “household” also needed to “believe” as well. 


     (Verse 33)(NASB) “And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household.”

     The very first act the newly saved jailer performed was to “wash the wounds” of Paul and Silas.

     Two important things can be found in (verses 29-33) in relation to baptism.

First, some churches who practice “infant baptism” use these verses to justify this practice, saying that since the “whole household” was baptized, this must have included infants as well. This is clearly refuted by noting that “all” of those in the “household” who were baptized first heard “the word of God,” and “believed” it. For more on this, you can go here: “

Secondly, these verses (among many others) refute the teaching that “baptism” is necessary for salvation. Note that Paul and Silas do not say here that “belief” AND “baptism” are necessary to be saved, but rather “belief.” “Baptism” follows salvation, and is an outward sign to others of an inward decision we have made. “Baptism” is a “work,” and no physical act that we perform can save us (Eph 2:8-9)(Rom 4:5)(Rom 11:6)(Gal 2:16). For more on this, you can go here:


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

     The new convert had “joy,” which comes through Jesus Christ (Jn 15:11)(Jn 16:24)(Jn 17:13). 

***Note: Again, notice that (Verse 31) says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved,” and this verse says that their “joy” came from “believing in God.” Do you see the connection?


     (Verses 35-37)(NASB) “Now when day came, the chief magistrates sent their officers, saying, “Release those men.” (36) And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The chief magistrates have sent word that you be released. So come out now and go in peace.” (37) But Paul said to them, “After beating us in public without due process – men who are Romans -they threw us into prison; and now they are releasing us secretly? No indeed! On the contrary, let them come in person and lead us out.”

     Overnight, the magistrates changed their minds, and decided to set Paul and Silas free the next morning. However, when the jailer reported this news to Paul, he got upset, and refused to leave!

     As we mentioned above, the “magistrates” had broken Roman law by “beating” and imprisoning Paul and Silas without first giving them a fair trial, and then finding them guilty of committing a crime. Now, Paul adds a BIG detail! The “magistrates” had done this to Roman citizens! Not only was this forbidden by Roman law, but it could end their careers, and maybe even their lives if word of it got back to Rome!

     A big question here is: “Why didn’t Paul and Silas mention that they were Roman citizens “before” the beating and imprisonment, and therefore save themselves the pain and suffering?”


     In addition, why did Paul refuse to leave when given the chance? Let me share two similar views from two of my study Bibles:

The “NKJV Study Bible” says, “Paul refused to leave when he had the opportunity because he was protecting the infant church in Philippi. Because Paul and Silas were beaten in public, people probably believed that they had done something wrong. If Paul left quietly, then the perception would be that those associated him, in particular the members of the Philippian church, had also done something wrong.”

The “Life Application Study Bible” says, “Paul refused to take his freedom, and run, in order to teach the rulers in Philippi a lesson and to protect the other believers from the treatment he and Silas had received. The word would spread that Paul and Silas had been found innocent and freed by the leaders, and that believers should not be persecuted – especially if they were Roman citizens.”


     (Verses 38-39)(NKJV) “And the officers told these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans. (39) Then they came and pleaded with them and brought them out, and asked (KJV – “desired”) them to depart from the city.”

     Upon hearing the words of Paul, the magistrates were terrified! Paul told them to “come in person and lead us out,” and they did exactly that. They “pleaded with them, and brought them out,” asking (probably “begging”) them to leave the city.

***Note: The Greek word for “asked / desired” is “erotao.” Strong’s gives this definition: “Erotao more frequently suggests (1) that the petitioner is on a footing of equality or familiarity  that lends authority to the request with the person whom he intreats. It is used (1A) of a king in making request from another king (Lk. 14:32).” It is interesting that the magistrates are using this word in making their request of Paul!


     (Verse 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.”

     They did leave leave the city, and headed for Thessalonica (see Ch. 17), but first they went to Lydia’s house one more time to “see the brethren” and “comfort” (Gr. “parakaleo“) them.

     As Paul and Silas “depart,” they leave behind a “church” that will support Paul and his missions more than any other. They later send him money twice while he is at Thessalonica (Phil 4:16), and another time during his first imprisonment in Rome (Phil 4:18).

Copyright: © Steve Shirley