The following background biblical text - pericope (below section one) and its akin strands (below section two) have been selected for your new and/or refreshed biblical learning(s.) My hope is that each strand (below eight subsections within section two) by the Holy Spirit spiritually feeds your mind(s) and spirit(s) in some nurturing manner. To God, through Christ Jesus, be the glory. Love you all in Christ, Charles L. Robinson Jr.
I. Background Biblical Text: Acts Chapter 16
Selected Biblical Pericope: Acts Chapter 16: 35-40
"And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants saying, Let those men go. And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace. But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out. And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans. And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desiresd them to depart out of the city. And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethern, they comforted them, and departed".
II. Akin Strands of the above biblical text - pericope:
Background of Biblical Text:
- Pagan religion began as religion of farmers. It grew out of sacrifices and ceremonies
invented to bless fields.
- The religion of Greeks and Romans were contracted religion based on mutual trust
between gods and humankind.
- The religion of Greeks and Romans arose a body of rules telling what had to be done
or avoided inorder to influence the gods. The rules were not codes of behavior, but
governed the proper performance of rituals such as how to say a blessing or sacrifice
- Greeks and Romans could believe whatever they liked, as long as they performed the
- Romans were obsessed with performing the rituals in certain precise ways.
By the time of Jesus and Paul:
-Philosophers had long questioned the existence of gods. Political leaders, even the
priest of these gods, were often motivated by social and political goals rather than
personal religion beliefs.
- Romans, at first, did not think of their gods as persons with histories and human
passions but Etruscan and Greek influence changed this. Once Romans came into
contact with Greek colonies of southern Italy, Romans began fusing much of Greek
religion with thier own.
- Romans believed, as did most polytheists of the day, there was always room for one
- In general, Romans readily accepted foreign deities because things were not going
well for Rome and its war against Carthaginians and Rome felt they needed to seek
additional divine help.
- State religions (Jupiter, later Zeus) of Greeks and Romans proved unsatisfying to some, therefore, for a sense of salvation and for more personal connection with a
deity, some looked to the mystery religions. Mystery religions started to become
popular in the New Testament era (first centuty A.D.)
- The educated and wealthy did not give up state religion primarily due to the state
religion intertwind with politics of Rome.
- Mystery religions encompassed secret ceremonies. They were initiated into cult secret
rights and bound thier fellow adherents.
- Greeks and Romans usually felt that thier lives were not threatened by mystery
religions but they suspected behind the secret meetings and cultic vows lurked
political conspiracy, threats to public order, traditional morality, and even treason.
- Offices of the high priest of state religion became purely political offices from sought
after political climbers like Julius Caesar and Caesar Augustus. Many turned to
Astrology for guidance even in the midst of public worship of Roman gods.
- Caesar Augustus began a systematic religious restoration. In Rome alone, he
restored eighty-two temples, reinstated many forgotten rites and festivals and
filled vacant priestly offices.
- For Augustus, this was not about restoring religious faith and practices, it was about
using Roman traditions to mask his assumptions of power that no person had done
before. He made changes to Roman religion to weaken and eliminate the
independent power of religious leaders. He deprived priestly colleges of their
influence over political decisions. Instead, colleges were reoriented to serve the
- The Roman state normally did not have problems incorporating a new religion
into its system. In the period of the empire, Rome received adoption of worship of
the emperor (emperor worship.) This required submitting to to gods of Rome and to
Roman sovreignty. The gods of allied nations were thought to have friendly relations
with Roman gods.
- So long as the supremecy of Roman religion was maintained, the state did not feel
threateded and so tolerated other religions.
- A number of Romans experienced distaste for Christianity. The roman historian
Tacitus called first century Christianity "a deadly superstition" and "mischief" and
asserted Christians were "notoriously depraved'.
- Romans usually left Christians alone. The Apostle Paul's status as a roman citizen
was more important to Rome than his religion.
- Paul occurred largely among Jews and non-romans and his churches in his day were
small and few, therefore, authorities sensed no threat to publuic order from first
- However, early Christians were persecuted because:
Romans were not successful in controlling religious innovation.
Romans lacked controlling Christianity.
Christianity refused to take an oath by the emperors (Chrisitans were easy victims because they did not bow down to emperors which led to emperors suspicion of Christians not wanting to support earthly supremecy.) Chrisitans were actually viewed as athiest by Roman religious adherents.
Jews rejected the gods of Rome also but Jews were a known commodity to Romans.
In contrast, Christians were a mysterious combination of Jews, Greeks, and
Romans. Christians acted like a single people even though they represented many
nations. To Romans, the Christian nature was unnatural.
Christianity simply did not fit the Roman's heartbeat: Christianity was monotheism;
Christianity was not single conquered (did not jointly adhere to Roman's request to
honor their state god); Chrisitans refused to respect rituals of Roman religion;
Therefore, Christianity was not regarded as an official - legal religon to Rome in the
*** The above strands are primarily identified to help acknowledge the development of ingrained Roman mentalities and culture. Keep in mind the development of background Roman mentalities, Roman culture, and Roman setting as your study deals with surficial Roman authorities (magistrates, serjeants), the jailer, Lydia, and Paul and Silas circumstance (imprisonment Philippi) in the above biblical pericope (Acts 16:35-40.)
2. Themes of Biblical Text (Acts):
- Ministy of Apostle Paul
- Enduing men with power to carry on the work of Jesus Christ.
- Demonstration of the Holy Spirit.
- Truth not spread with human power and secular authority. Acts illustrates
the true model of propagating truth.
- Depicts the practical outwork of the church.
- Opposition became a catalyst for spreading Christianity.
- Working through opposition was an indication of the presence of God.
- The New Testamernt Book (Acts) that records the history of the early church from
the ascension of Christ to Paul's imprisonment in Rome.
- Acts is an important source of history of the early church documenting the
accomplishments of the tasks given to the Apostles by the risen Christ.
- The difference between Acts and the Gospels is that Jesus acted on his own
but the Apostles acted on the behalf of Jesus in Acts.
- Although the Book of Luke is closely related to the Book of Acts, thier
theologies should be separated.
- Acts is a narrative theology: It communicates through narrative movement through repetition and running themes.
*** Keep in mind the above overall themes as you study the surficial Roman authorities
(magistrates, serjeants), the jailer, Lydia, and Paul and Silas circumstance
(imprisonment in Philippi) within the above biblical pericope (Acts 16: 35-40)
3. Proposition of Selected Pericope (Acts 16:35-40):
- Paul and Silas imprisoned in Philippi.
- Paul and Silas released from prison in Philippi.
- Paul refuses to leave Philippi as an accused common criminal.
- Prison ministry
*** Keep in mind the above propositions of the selected pericope as you study the
surficial Roman authorites (magistrates, serjeants), the jailer, Lydia, and Paul and
Silas circumstance (imprisonment in Philippi) within the above bilical pericope
4. People in Selected Pericope (Acts 16:35-40):
The Apostle Paul:
- A pharisee (as Saul) who zelously persecuted Christians.
- As Saul, he was on his way to Damascus and was converted to Christianity.
- Missionary, theologian, and writer of the early church.
- Wrote thirteen Epistles that comprises of one-fourth of the New Testament.
- Born of the tribe of Benjamin.
- Born a Roman citizen
- Various speculation regading being a Roman citizen: father or grandfather
honored with citizenship because of special service rendered to military to
Paul's parents carried as prisoners of war from Gischaia to Tarsus enslaved to
Roman citizenship that freed and granted citizenship.
- Irrelevant of how Paul received his citizenship, the Book of Acts states three times
that he possessed Roman citizenship.
- Travel missionary trips (this particular study represents his second missionary
- Leader in early Jerusalem Church.
- A Roman citizen.
- Accompanied Peter and Paul on missionary trips.
- Served as Peter's scribe writing the first letter from Peter and perhaps others.
- Not labeled specifically in Acts 16:35-40, however, Luke (the author of Acts)
spent spent great time digging up evidence to present to Theopolis.
- Theopolis was a Roman official who wanted to know more about Christianity
and Luke wanted to assure to Theopolis the things that he had been taught
(the Book of Acts is addressed to Theopolis.)
- Theopolis was suggested as a title rather than a proper name. However,
is identified as "Most excellent" which generally implies an individual with
- Gentile woman who was converted to Christianity by the preaching of Paul
- She was from the city of Thyatria in the region of Lydia in western part of
Roman province Asia (commonly known as Asia Minor.)
- A business woman: a dealer of purple dye - costly dye that was extracted from
marine mulex trunculus, a marine mollusk. The shell was broken so the small
gland in the neck of the mollusk might be removed and crushed. The crushed
gland gave a milk like fluid that turned purple or scarlet upon contact of the air.
It was an identification of royalty due to it's costliness (Jesus was mocked by
wearing a purple robe - put a purple robe on him but did not believe he was
- She labored with Paul.
- She hosted Paul and Silas while in Philippi.
- In the case at Philippi (city in Rome), strategoi serves as the Greek equivalent
of the Latin duumuri which serves as chief judicial officials of a Roman city or
- Highest officials in the government of a colony and had the power to
administrative justice in less important cases.
- Roman lictors (functionary who carried fasces- bundle of rod representing
authority) or officers who attended magistrates when appearing in public to
punishment that had been pronounced.
Keeper of prison:
- A jailer; an attendant guard; a person in charge of another person (in prison.)
*** Keep in mind th facts regarding the above people as you study the above
selected pericope (Acts 16:35-40.)
5. Place (geography) of the selected pericope (Acts 16:35-40.)
- Named after King Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great.
- Located on the Egnatian way - the main transportation route in Macedonia. An
extension of the Appian way which joined the eastern empire with Italy.
- Originally known as Krenides (the litle fountains) because of numerous nearby
- A prosperous Roman colony.
- Citizens of Philippi were also citizens of the city of Rome.
- Many citizens of Philippi adopted Roman customs.
- Many citizens of Philippi were military men and their families who had been
given land in the vicinity and in return served as a military presence.
- The church in Philippi was the first church that Paul founded in Europe.
*** Keep in mind the facts of Philippi as you study the above selected pericope of
6. Definitions of Key words in above selected pericope (Acts 16:35-40)
- Peace: Eirene which means harmony, tranquility, safety, welfare, health, and
oftentimes with an emphasis on lack of strife or reconciliation in relationship. As
when one has peace with God.
- Openly: Demosios which means publicly.
- Uncondemned: Akatakritos which means without proper trial.
- Feared: Phobeo which means to be afraid, alarmed, in some contexts improper
as an impediment (hindrance) to faith, love, reverence, respect, and worship.
Other contexts meaning a proper fear for God, deep reverence and awe.
*** Keep in mind the definitons of the above key words as you study the above
selected pericope (Acts 16:35-40.)
7. Exposition of Selected Periciope (Acts 16:35-40):
- Holy Spirit changed Paul's physical path from Bithynia to Troas to Philippi.
- Holy Spirit instructed to temporarily evade territory of closed hearts-minds
towards Christ (Bithynia) to entering territory of open hearts-minds towards Christ
- Holy Spirit delivers a woman from a fortune telling demon.
- Businessmen take Paul and Silas to rulers accusing them of teaching against
- Multitudes rose up against Paul and Silas
- Magistrates command Paul and Silas to be beaten.
- Magistrates imprison Paul and Silas.
- Paul and Silas pray and sing praises unto God in prison.
- God miraculously opens the prison doors and frees Paul and Silas.
- Jailer feared of what will happen to him because Paul and Silas is freed.
- Paul ministers to jailer and jailer and his household converts to Christianity.
- Jailer shows hospitality to Paul and Silas.
- Lydia (a business woman now converted to Christ) shows hospitality to Paul and Silas.
- Magistrates approve Paul and Silas to depart secretly because they are afraid of the consequences of their wrongs (an uproar due to mistakenly beating and imprisoning thier own - a Romas citizen without a proper trial.)
- Paul openly - publicly rebukes the magistrates. He fefuses to leave secretly
because he wants the public to be aware of the magistrates mistake for the
betterment of the magistates and citizens subjected to the authority of the
magistrates. Help the local authorities to be delivered from the spirit of fear (and
pride) when making mistake; an offical apology creates humility; reconciliation in relationships and ultimately turn to the one true God. The jailer, who was in the magistates circle, turned from non Christianity to Christianity so the magistates can turn from non Christianity to Christianity. The pericope does not mention any mutual communication between the magistates and Paul and/or Silas regarding the magistrates coming to Christianity. The Holy Spirt had divinely sent Paul and Silas to bring people to Christ in Philippi, some in Philippi came to Christ, Christ desires all to come to him. Who can say that Jesus does not want the magistrates? Who can say that Paul does not desire the magistrates to come to Jesus? Who can say that Pauls presence alone (exampled life consisting of spirit filled works) has not been means ACTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT to bring people to Christ.
8. Current relevant lessons from the selected pericope (Acts 16:35-40):
- Be sensitive and flexible to the Holy Spirit ( change of directions.)
- The Holy Spirit leads to all manners of truth (knows beyond man.)
- The Holy Spirit is greater than all other spirits ( cast out demons, fear, etc.)
- Success, satisfaction, and needs (personally and in business) are provided
through God-willed means (Paul, Silas, Theopolis, keeper of prison, Lydia,
magistartes, and serjeants all provided for.)
- Persecution for Christ sake is not in vain (beatings and imprisonment was a
platform for Paul and Silas to offer salvation through Christ Jesus.)
- True joy can exist in challenges (Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises in
- Genuine purpose to help someone through Christ Jesus can be misunderstood.
(Paul could have simply departed without seeing the magistraates which would
have been more peaceful in the eyes of the magistrates and some other Romans.
He stayed in the circumstance, he did not want hostility, he simply wanted to
help towards the betterment of the people.)
- You can minister without spoken words of Christ (Christ exampled spirit filled
life ministers for you.)
- Renconciliation is possible with both man and God when fear is not present( the
keeper of the prison had the same Roman mentality within the Roman culture as
the magistrates, but the keeper of the prison reconciled with Paul and Sials and
the one true God.)
- Reconciliation oftentimes requires direct-transparent communication (Paul did not
request to deal with the magistates foot soldier - the jailer, Paul demanded direct-
transparent communication from the magistates.)
- Trust that God will provide you help; see the help God brings you; and receive
the help God gives you (God brought help to Paul and Silas through magistrates - they realesed them, and Lydia and the jailor encouraged and
Again, my hope is that the Holy Spirit spiritually feeds your mind(s) and spirit(s) in some nurturing manner through the above ECP new and/or refreshed biblical learning(s.)