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  • VINCENT'S NEW TESTAMENT
    WORD STUDIES - ACTS 16

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    CHAPTER XVI

    3. To go forth (exelqein). The word is used of going forth as a missionary in Luke ix. 6; 3 John 7.

    5. Were established (estereounto). Rather, were strengthened. Another word is used for established. See ch. xiv. 22; xv. 32, 41; xviii. 23. There is a difference, moreover, between being strengthened and established. See 1 Peter verse 10.

    6. Asia. See on ch. ii. 9.

    8. Passing by Mysia. Not avoiding, since they could not reach Troas without traversing it; but omitting it as a preaching-place.

    Came down. From the highlands to the coast.

    10. We sought. Note the introduction, for the first time here, of the first person, intimating the presence of the author with Paul.

    Assuredly gathering (sumbibazontev). See on proving, ch. ix. 22.

    11. Came with a straight course (euqudromhsamen). Lit., we ran a straight course. A nautical term for sailing before the wind.

    12. Chief (prwth). Some explain, the first city to which they came in Macedonia.

    A colony (kolwnia). Roman towns were of two classes: municipia, or free towns, and colonies. The distinction, however, was not sharply maintained, so that, in some cases, we find the same town bearing both names. The two names involved no difference of right or of privilege. The historical difference between a colony and a free town is, that the free towns were taken into the state from without, while the colonies were offshoots from within. "The municipal cities insensibly equaled the rank and splendor of the colonies; and in the reign of Hadrian it was disputed which was the preferable condition, of those societies which had issued from, or those which had been received into, the bosom of Rome" (Gibbon, "Decline and Fall").

    The colony was used for three different purposes in the course of Roman history: as a fortified outpost in a conquered country; as a means of providing for the poor of Rome; and as a settlement for veterans who had served their time. It is with the third class, established by Augustus, that we have to do here. The Romans divided mankind into citizens and strangers. An inhabitant of Italy was a citizen; an inhabitant of any other part of the empire was a peregrinus, or stranger. The colonial policy abolished this distinction so far as privileges were concerned. The idea of a colony was, that it was another Rome transferred to the soil of another country. In his establishment of colonies, Augustus, in some instances, expelled the existing inhabitants and founded entirely new towns with his colonists; in others, he merely added his settlers to the existing population of the town then receiving the rank and title of a colony. In some instances a place received these without receiving ally new citizens at all. Both classes of citizens were in possession of the same privileges, the principal of which were, exemption from scourging, freedom from arrest, except in extreme cases, and, in all cases, the right of appeal from the magistrate to the emperor. The names of the colonists were still enrolled in one of the Roman tribes. The traveler heard the Latin language and was amenable to the Roman law. The coinage of the city had Latin inscriptions. The affairs of the colony were regulated by their own magistrates named Dumviri, who took pride in calling themselves by the Roman title of praetors (see on verse 20).

    13. Out of the city (exw thv polewv). The best texts read pulhv, the gate.

    River. Probably the Gangas or Gangites.

    Where prayer was wont to be made (ou enonizeto proseuch einai). The best texts read ejnomizomen proseuchn, where we supposed there was a place of prayer. The number of Jews in Philippi was small, since it was a military and not a mercantile city; consequently there was no synagogue, but only a proseucha, or praying-place, a slight structure, and often open to the sky. It was outside the gate, for the sake of retirement, and near a stream, because of the ablutions connected with the worship.

    14. Lydia. An adjective: the Lydian; but as Lydia was a common name among the Greeks and Romans, it does not follow that she was named from her native country.

    A seller of purple. On purple, see note on Luke xvi. 19.

    Thyatira. The district of Lydia, and the city of Thyatira in particular, were famous for purple dyes. So Homer:

    "As when some Carian or Maeonian 22 dame Tinges with purple the white ivory, To form a trapping for the cheeks of steeds" Iliad, iv., 141.

    An inscription found in the ruins of Thyatira relates to the guild of dyers. Heard (hkouen). Imperfect, was hearing while we preached.

    15. Constrained (parebiasato). Only here and Luke xxiv. 29, on which see note. The constraint was from ardent gratitude.

    16. Damsel. See on ch. xii. 13.

    Spirit of divination (pneuma Puqwna). Lit., a spirit, a Python. Python, in the Greek mythology, was the serpent which guarded Delphi.

    According to the legend, as related in the Homeric hymn, Apollo descended from Olympus in order to select a site for his shrine and oracle. Having fixed upon a spot on the southern side of Mount Parnassus, he found it guarded by a vast and terrific serpent, which he slew with an arrow, and suffered its body to rot (puqein) in the sun. Hence the name of the serpent Python (rotting); Pytho, the name of the place, and the epithet Pythian, applied to Apollo. The name Python was subsequently used to denote a prophetic demon, and was also used of soothsayers who practiced ventriloquism, or speaking from the belly. The word ejggastrimuqov, ventriloquist, occurs in the Septuagint, and is rendered having a familiar spirit (see Lev. xix. 31; xx. 6,27; 1 Sam. xxviii. 7, 8). The heathen inhabitants of Philippi regarded the woman as inspired by Apollo; and Luke, in recording this case, which came under his own observation, uses the term which would naturally suggest itself to a Greek physician, a Python-spirit, presenting phenomena identical with the convulsive movements and wild cries of the Pythian priestess at Delphi. Soothsaying (manteuomenh). Akin to mainomai, to rave, in allusion to the temporary madness which possessed the priestess or sibyl while under the influence of the God. Compare Virgil's description of the Cumaean Sibyl:

    "And as the word she spake Within the door, all suddenly her visage and her hue Were changed, and all her sleeked hair and gasping breath she drew, And with the rage her wild heart swelled, and greater was she grown, Nor mortal-voiced; for breath of God upon her heart was blown As he drew nigher." Aeneid, vil, 45 sq.

    18. Grieved (diapomhqeiv). Not strong enough. Rather, worn out. Both grieved at the sad condition of the woman, and thoroughly annoyed and indignant at the continued demonstrations of the evil spirit which possessed her. Compare ch. iv. 2.

    19. Was gone (exhlqen). Went out with the evil spirit.

    20. Magistrates (strathgoiv). Their usual name was duumviri answering to the consuls of Rome; but they took pride in calling themselves strathgoi, or praetors, as being a more honorable title. This is the only place in the Acts where Luke applies the term to the rulers of a city. See Introduction to Luke.

    Jews. Who at this time were in special disgrace, having been lately banished from Rome by Claudius (see Acts xviii. 2). The Philippians do not appear to have recognized the distinction between Christians and Jews.

    21. Being Romans. The Romans granted absolute toleration to conquered nations to follow their own religious customs, and took the gods of these countries under their protection. Otho, Domitian, Commodus, and Caracalla were zealous partisans of the worship of Isis; Serapis and Cybele were patronized at Rome; and in the reign of Nero the religious dilettante at Rome affected Judaism, and professed to honor the name of Moses and the sacred books. Poppaea, Nero's consort, was their patroness, and Seneca said, "the Jewish faith is now received on every hand. The conquered have given laws to the conquerors." On the other hand, there were laws which forbade the introduction of strange deities among the Romans themselves. In 186 B.C., when stringent measures were taken by the government for the repression of Bacchanalian orgies in Rome, one of the consuls, addressing an assembly of the people, said: "How often in the ages of our fathers was it given in charge to the magistrates to prohibit the performance of any foreign religious rites; to banish strolling sacrificers and soothsayers from the forum, the circus, and the city; to search for and burn books of divination; and to abolish every mode of sacrificing that was not conformable to the Roman practice" (Livy, xxxix., 16) It was contrary to strict Roman law for the Jews to propagate their opinions among the Romans, though they might make proselytes of other nations.

    22. Rent off their clothes (perirrhxantev). Only here in New Testament. By the usual formula of command to the lictors: Go, lictors; strip off their garments; let them be scourged!

    To beat (rabdizein). From rJabdov, a rod. Rev. properly adds, with rods.

    23. Prison. See on ch. verse 21.

    24. The inner prison. Some have supposed this to be the lower prison, being misled by the remains of the Mamertine prison at Rome, on the declivity of the Capitoline, and near the Arch of Septimius Severus. This consists of two chambers, one above the other, excavated in the solid rock. In the center of the vault of the lower chamber is a circular opening, through which it is supposed that prisoners were let down into the dungeon. Modern excavations, however, have shown that these two chambers were connected with a series of large chambers, now separated by an alley from the prison of St. Peter. The opening into the passage leading to these was discovered in the lower dungeon. Under this passage ran a drain, which formed branch of the Cloaca Maxima, or main sewer. Six of these chambers have been brought to light, evidently apartments of a large prison in the time of the Roman kings. Mr. John Henry Parker, from whose elaborate work on the primitive fortifications of Rome these details are drawn, believes that the prison of St. Peter now shown to tourists formed the vestibule and guard-room of the great prison. It was customary to have a vestibule, or house for the warder, at a short distance from the main prison. Thus he distinguished the inner prison from this vestibule. With this agrees the description in the Rev. John Henry Newman's "Callista:" "The state prison was arranged on pretty much one and the same plan through the Roman empire, nay, we may say throughout the ancient world. It was commonly attached to the government buildings, and consisted of two parts. The first was the vestibule, or outward prison, approached from the praetorium, and surrounded by cells opening into it. The prisoners who were confined in these cells had the benefit of the air and light which the hall admitted. From the vestibule there was a passage into the interior prison, called Robur or Lignum, from the beams of wood which were the instruments of confinement, or from the character of its floor. It had no window or outlet except this door, which, when closed, absolutely shut out light and air. This apartment was the place into which Paul and Silas were cast at Philippi. The utter darkness, the heat, and the stench of this miserable place, in which the inmates were confined day and night, is often dwelt upon by the martyrs and their biographers."

    Stocks (xulon). Lit., the timber. An instrument of torture having five holes, four for the wrists and ankles and one for the neck. The same word is used for the cross, ch. v. 30; x. 39; Gal. iii. 13; 1 Pet. ii. 24.

    25. Prayed and sang praises (proseucomenoi umnoun). Lit., praying, they sang hymns. The praying and the praise are not described as distinct acts. Their singing of hymns was their prayer, probably Psalms.

    27. Would have killed (emellen anairein). Rev., more correctly, was about to kill. Knowing that he must suffer death for the escape of his prisoners.

    29. A light (fwta). Rev., more correctly, lights. Several lamps, in order to search everywhere.

    Sprang in. See on ran in, ch. xiv. 14.

    33. He took (paralabwn). Strictly, "took them along with (para) him:" to some other part of the prison.

    Washed their stripes (elousen apo twn plhgwn). Properly, "washed them from (apo) their stripes." The verb louein expresses the bathing of the entire body (Heb. x. 23; Acts ix. 37; 2 Pet. ii. 22); while niptein commonly means the washing of a part of the body (Matt. vi. 17; Mark viii. 3; John xiii. 5). The jailer bathed them; cleansing them from the blood with which they were besprinkled from the stripes.

    34. Brought (anagagwn). Lit., "brought up (ana)." His house would seem to have been above the court of the prison where they were. See on took, verse 33.

    Believing (pepisteukwv). More correctly, having believed; assigning the reason for his joy: "in that he had believed."

    35. Serjeants (rabdoucouv). Lit., those who hold the rod. The Roman lictors. They were the attendants of the chief Roman magistrates.

    "Ho, trumpets, sound a war-note! Ho, lictors, clear the way! The knights will ride, in all their pride, Along the streets today." MACAULAY, Lays of Ancient Rome.

    They preceded the magistrates one by one in a line. They had to inflict punishment on the condemned, especially; on Roman citizens. They also commanded the people to pay proper respect to a passing magistrate, by uncovering, dismounting from horseback, and standing out of the way. The badge of their office was the fasces, an ax bound up in a bundle of rods; but in the colonies they carried staves.

    Those men. Contemptuous

    37. They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men that are Romans. Hackett remarks that "almost every word in this reply contains a distinct allegation. It would be difficult to find or frame a sentence superior to it in point of energetic brevity." Cicero in his oration against Verres relates that there was a Roman citizen scourged at Messina; and that in the midst of the noise of the rods, nothing was heard from him but the words, "I am a Roman citizen." He says: "It is a dreadful deed to bind a Roman citizen; it is a crime to scourge him; it is almost parricide to put him to death."

    40. They went out. Note that Luke here resumes the third person, implying that he did not accompany them.

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