corner graphic

Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

Acts 16



Verses 9-34

Acts 16:9. 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.

Our dreams often follow the leading thoughts of the day; or, if not of the day, yet the chief thoughts that are upon the mind. Paul dreams about mission work, for his heart is in it. I should not wonder if some before me, who are deeply engaged in earnest Christian work, have often dreamt about their Sunday-school, or their mission-station. Where the mind goes when we are awake, it often goes when we are asleep. This vision that appeared to Paul was supernatural; and was an indication of what God wanted him to do.

Acts 16:10. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.

In the vision, the man prayed, “Come over into Macedonia, and help us.” The best help that Paul could render to the Macedonians was “to preach the gospel unto them.” The best help you can give men socially is to help them religiously; and the best religious help is to preach the gospel to them.

Acts 16:11-12. Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; 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.

Waiting to know what they were to do. In God’s work, we are not to go on in blundering haste. Sometimes, a little waiting may be good for us; and by waiting, we may find out the true path of success.

Acts 16:13. And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made;

Some quiet corner, where good people were wont to gather by the brook to pray.

Acts 16:13. And we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.

This was probably the first religious meeting of Christians that was ever held in Europe. It is remarkable that it was a prayer-meeting, a prayer-meeting attended by women, a prayer-meeting to which two ministers came, and preached the gospel to the women who resorted thither. To be able to be present at a prayer-meeting ought always to be reckoned a great privilege to all of us who are Christians. In this way the gospel first came to us; in this way the gospel will be best preserved to us; and in this way we may best obtain guidance from God as to how we may carry the gospel to others.

Acts 16:14-15. 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. And when she was baptized,

She seems to have become a believer in Christ, and to have been baptized at once.

Acts 16:15. 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.

Lydia was evidently a woman of some property. The purple which she sold was an expensive article. She seems to have been engaged in business on her own account; and when Paul met with her, she was far off from her workshop and her home. She had a house, therefore, in the place to which she had come to sell her purple; and she “constrained” the men of God to make use of her house, and to tarry there. Thus was Christianity brought into Europe, for which we praise the name of the Lord.

Acts 16:16. 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.

She professed to tell fortunes, and to speak under inspiration. She was really “possessed” by an evil spirit.

Acts 16:17-18. 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. 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.

Here was an evil spirit bearing witness to the truth of God, and it grieved Paul. When you hear a bad man ridiculing religion, do not be surprised; what else could you expect from him? But if you heard the devil recommending Christ, then you ought to be grieved, for the Lord Jesus does not want patronage or praise from Satan. Men would begin to suspect that Christ was in league with Satan, if Satan began to speak well of Christ. Dread to be spoken well of by ungodly men; for there is great danger in such praise. There may be a motive at the bottom of the flattery, which may be full of mischief. Paul, being grieved, silenced the demon, and cast him out of the damsel. Like his Lord, he would not allow the devil to testify concerning himself and his mission.

Acts 16:19-20. And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the market-place unto the rulers, and brought them to the magistrates,

They dragged them into the Forum, the place where the courts usually sat, and brought them before the magistrates, “saying “-what? “These men have cured a demoniac, they have performed a miracle, and cast a devil out of a young woman”? Oh! no; there would have been no wrong in that, so they must invent a charge. What do they say?

Acts 16:20-21. Saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, and teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.

They did not know that Paul himself was a Roman citizen, or they surely would not have brought such a charge as that against him.

Acts 16:22. And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.

They beat them first, and tried them afterwards. That is often the rule with those who persecute God’s people: let them be hanged out of the way, and then we will enquire what they teach.

Acts 16:23-25. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God:

Another prayer-meeting, and a praise-meeting, too. There were only two persons at it; but they “prayed, and sang praises unto God.”

Acts 16:26. And the prisoners heard them.

Paul and Silas were in the lower prison. The sound of their prayer and praise rose up through the different tiers of cells where other prisoners were confined.

Acts 16:26. 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.

This was no common earthquake. An ordinary earthquake might have brought the prison down about their ears; but it would not have loosed the bands of the prisoners.

Acts 16:27. 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.

For the law was that, if a jailer lost a prisoner, he was to suffer whatever penalty the prisoner would have suffered. He therefore knew that, in all probability, his own life would be taken; and, strange to say, to save his life he would kill himself. Suicide is ever absurd and unreasonable. The worst that could happen to him would be to die by the sword of justice; and to escape from that, he tries to die by the sword of a suicide.

Acts 16:28. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.

Every prisoner was loosed from his bands, but not one had escaped; nor had any even attempted to escape, which was another miracle; for men who see their bands broken, and the prison doors open, are pretty sure to run away. These men did not, for a heavenly charm was upon them. They kept in their cells, so that Paul could cry out to the jailor, ‘-Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.”

Acts 16:29. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling

Conscious of the supernatural, compelled to feel the hand which he had never perceived before, he hastened into the inner prison, where he had thrust the servants of Christ;

Acts 16:29. And fell down before Paul and Silas,

Whom he had handled so roughly just now;

Acts 16:30. And brought them out, and said, Sirs,

What a word to address to those who were still in his charge as prisoners!

Acts 16:30-34. What must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.

May God give to many of us to know the happy experience of that believing, baptized, and blessed household!


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Acts 16:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". 2011.

Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology