Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Acts
Book: Acts
Chapter: 16

Paul takes Timothy to be his assistant. (1-5) Paul proceeds to
Macedonia, The Conversion of Lydia. (6-15) An evil Spirit cast
out, Paul and Silas scourged and imprisoned. (16-24) The
Conversion of the Jailer at Philippi. (25-34) Paul and Silas
released. (35-40)

1-5 Well may the Church look for much service from youthful
ministers who set out in the same Spirit as Timothy. But when
men will submit in nothing, and oblige in nothing, the first
Elements of the Christian temper seem to be wanting; and there
is great reason to believe that the doctrines and precepts of
the Gospel will not be successfully taught. The design of the
decree being to set aside the ceremonial Law, and its Carnal
ordinances, believers were confirmed in the Christian Faith,
because it set up a spiritual way of serving God, as suited to
the nature both of God and Man. Thus the Church increased in
Numbers daily.

6-15 The removals of ministers, and the dispensing the means of
Grace By them, are in particular under Divine conduct and
direction. We must follow Providence: and whatever we seek to
do, if that suffer us not, we ought to submit and believe to be
for the best. People greatly need help for their souls, it is
their duty to look out for it, and to invite those among them
who can help them. And God's calls must be complied with
readily. A solemn assembly the worshippers of God must have, if
possible, upon the Sabbath Day. If we have not synagogues, we
must be thankful for more private places, and resort to them;
not forsaking the assembling together, as our opportunities are.
Among the hearers of Paul was a Woman, named Lydia. She had an
honest Calling, which the historian notices to her praise. Yet
though she had a Calling to mind, she found time to improve
advantages for her soul. It will not excuse us from religious
duties, to say, We have a trade to mind; for have not we also a
God to serve, and souls to look after? Religion does not Call us
from our business in the world, but directs us in it. Pride,
prejudice, and Sin shut out the truths of God, till his Grace
makes way for them into the understanding and affections; and
the Lord alone can open the Heart to receive and believe his
Word. We must believe in Jesus Christ; there is No coming to God
as a Father, but By the Son as Mediator.

16-24 Satan, though the Father of lies, will declare the most
important truths, when he can thereby serve his purposes. But
much mischief is done to the real servants of Christ, By unholy
and false preachers of the Gospel, who are confounded with them
By careless observers. Those who do good By drawing men from
Sin, may expect to be reviled as troublers of the City. While
they teach men to fear God, to believe in Christ, to forsake
Sin, and to live godly lives, they will be accused of teaching
bad customs.

25-34 The consolations of God to his suffering servants are
neither few nor small. How much more happy are true Christians
than their prosperous enemies! As in the dark, So out of the
depths, we may cry unto God. No place, No time is amiss for
Prayer, if the Heart be lifted up to God. No trouble, however
grievous, should hinder us from praise. Christianity proves
itself to be of God, in that it obliges us to be just to our own
lives. Paul cried aloud to make the Jailer hear, and to make him
heed, saying, Do thyself No harm. All the cautions of the Word
of God against Sin, and all appearances of it, and approaches to
it, have this tendency. Man, Woman, do not ruin thyself; hurt
not thyself, and then none else can hurt thee; do not Sin, for
nothing but that can hurt thee. Even as to the body, we are
cautioned against the sins which do harm to that. Converting
Grace changes people's language of and to good people and good
ministers. How serious the Jailer's inquiry! His Salvation
becomes his great concern; that lies nearest his Heart, which
before was furthest from his thoughts. It is his own precious
soul that he is concerned about. Those who are thoroughly
convinced of Sin, and truly concerned about their Salvation,
will give themselves up to Christ. Here is the sum of the whole
Gospel, the Covenant of Grace in a few words; Believe in the
Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy House. The
Lord So blessed the Word, that the Jailer was at once softened
and humbled. He treated them with kindness and compassion, and,
professing Faith in Christ, was baptized in that name, with his
family. The Spirit of Grace worked such a strong Faith in them,
as did away further doubt; and Paul and Silas knew By the
Spirit, that a work of God was wrought in them. When sinners are
thus converted, they will Love and honour those whom they before
despised and hated, and will seek to lessen the suffering they
before desired to increase. When the fruits of Faith begin to
appear, terrors will be followed By confidence and joy in God.

35-40 Paul, though willing to suffer for the cause of Christ,
and without any desire to avenge himself, did not choose to
depart under the charge of having deserved wrongful Punishment,
and therefore required to be dismissed in an honourable manner.
It was not a mere point of honour that the Apostle stood upon,
but Justice, and not to himself So much as to his cause. And
when proper apology is made, Christians should never express
personal Anger, nor insist too strictly upon personal amends.
The Lord will make them more than conquerors in every conflict;
instead of being cast down By their sufferings, they will become
comforters of their brethren.