Bruce, F.F. The Book of Acts Revised. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988. Kindle Electronic Edition. “V. Paul Leaves Antioch and Moves to the Aegean World (15:36-19:20).” “B. Philippi (16:6-40)” pp. 305-320.
Bruce notes a segment of Acts with Paul and his cohorts in Philippi in 16:6-40. At this time, though Paul has made plans to pursue ministry in Asia Minor, he is overruled in some way by the Holy Spirit (Bruce 1988, 306). Instead, they headed north, then headed west to Troas. Here, their progress is again adjusted by “the Spirit of Jesus” (vv. 7-8, Bruce 1988, 306). Finally, in verse 9, Paul sees a vision of a man from Macedonia asking for help (Bruce 1988, 307). The company, now, in verse 10, including Luke, moved on to Macedonia. Luke provides details about all the stops on the journey. Bruce fills in some history of each location (Bruce 1988, 309).
In Philippi, the company stopped to engage in evangelism. Bruce notes that there does not appear to be a synagogue. They found people together at the river rather than in a synagogue (Bruce 1988, 310). A woman, Lydia, becomes a convert and was baptized with her family (Bruce 1988, 311). In contrast, a slave girl with an evil spirit started stalking Paul. In verse 18 the apostle cast out the spirit (Bruce 1988, 313). When the slave girl’s owner saw she would not tell fortunes any more, he stirred up opposition. Bruce notes the opposition was focused against Paul and Silas, not on the others. The lack of evidence or due process is clear from verse 22. Paul and Silas were arrested, beaten, and locked up (Bruce 1988, 315).
The jailer locked Paul and Silas in stocks, effectively immobilizing them (vv. 23-24). Verses 25-34 describe the release from prison of Paul and Silas. Bruce observes that Paul and Silas would have been in great pain. However, they were singing hymns in the middle of the night (Bruce 1988, 316). This would certainly have attracted the attention of the other prisoners. When an earthquake opened the doors and awakened the jailer, somehow Paul and Silas were able to persuade the prisoners to stay. This, in verse 28, saved the life of the jailer (Bruce 1988, 317). Bruce sees that the jailer’s question about salvation may have been very confused. He was not of a Jewish background. He also had very limited exposure to Christianity. In verses 31-32 Paul and Silas explained the Christian message. He was baptized and provided care for his prisoners (Bruce 1988, 318).
As the chapter ends, the government officials have Paul and Silas released. Paul does remind the officials that he and Silas, as citizens, deserved fair treatment (Bruce 1988, 319). The praetors showed appropriate courtesy, and Paul and Silas left Philippi after encouraging the Christians (vv. 38-40).