Acts 16:19

Spotsylvania County. “I vant to vash your clothes.”

Sunday, 30 April 2023

But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities. Acts 16:19

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

The previous verse told of Paul commanding in the name of the Lord for the spirit of Python to come out of the girl. That came about as commanded. Now, Luke next records, “But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone.”

The word translated as “profit” is ergasia. It is a singular noun meaning work, trade, craft, business, etc. As such, the word as used by Luke indicates the result of the work, thus the profit. This is another sure indication that the spirit really had hold of the girl. If she was just faking her words, she could continue to do that without any change having taken place in her. But she is now unable to do what she had previously done. Being a slave girl, her profit belonged to her owners. They were now deprived of that.

They looked at her ability as a source of income, just as they would a plumber or a chairmaker. She was no longer able to conduct her affairs as she previously had, and this meant they would have to look elsewhere to replace whatever money she brought in. As this was so, it became a legal issue for them. Therefore, “they seized Paul and Silas.”

These were obviously the two main perpetrators in their eyes. The others who accompanied them, such as Luke and Timothy, were not deemed responsible for what had occurred. Having laid their hands on these two, it next says, “and dragged them into the marketplace.”

The marketplace is called the Agora. It was not just a marketplace, but the center of social life as found in all Greek cities. Charles Ellicott notes –

“In Philippi, as a colonia, reproducing the arrangements of Rome, it would answer to the Forum, where the magistrates habitually sat. What had taken place would naturally cause excitement and attract a crowd.” It is to this location that they were dragged “to the authorities.”

Of this, the Pulpit Commentary next states –

“Philippi, being a colony, was governed by Roman magistrates called duumviri, corresponding to the two consuls at Rome. But we learn from Cicero that in his time the duuraviri in the colonies were beginning to be called praetors, a [title] previously used only at Rome (‘De Leg. Agrar.,’ 34), and to be preceded by lictors… Two inscriptions have been found in which the duumviri of Philippi are mentioned.”

Life application: Today in various countries, pastors and preachers are being arrested for disturbances as they go about spreading the gospel. Some of them are deserved. Other than bringing attention to self, there are those who stand in marketplaces and other areas and yell at people while telling them they are going to hell. Nothing of value is brought about by such actions. They set about to incite people and the conflicts that arise are sometimes of their own making.

Some go into areas that are privately owned and expect that they will be free from arrest when they pass out tracts. But privately owned malls and businesses are allowed to set policies for the conduct of those who come into their establishments.

However, there are those who go into the public square where freedom of speech has fewer restrictions, and they are not in violation of any codes or ordinances. And yet, they are treated as offenders and arrested. If the same treatment is not given to all others who are doing the same thing, then they have a legitimate case for redress against the authorities.

If you are planning on evangelizing in various areas, be sure to know what the laws of the area you are going to are. If you are arrested, it very well may be your own fault. If so, you should not be held as a martyr for the faith. Rather, you are just like any other miscreant who needs to be penalized for your actions. Be sure that what you do is not going to bring discredit upon the name of the Lord who you are supposedly trying to exalt.

Lord God, give us the wisdom to know when and where it is appropriate to share our faith in You. Help us not to work in a manner contrary to bringing You glory through the preaching of the gospel. Rather, may our actions be seen as faithful people who are willing to expend themselves to bring the good news to those who truly need it. Amen.