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The New Oxford Annotated Bible New Revised Standard Study Bible that provides essential scholarship and guidance for Bible readers.

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Commentary on The Acts of the Apostles

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Commentary spanning earlier chapters

15.36–16.5 : Paul revisits the churches of the previous mission.

37–38 :

John called Mark … had deserted, see 12.12n.; 13.13 .

39 :

Compare the disagreement here over John Mark with the report in Gal 2.11–13 that Barnabas disagreed with Paul over the legitimacy of Jews and Gentiles eating together. According to Acts, this problem had already been dealt with in 10.1–11.18 , although the apostolic decree ( 15.20,29 ) may have been intended to make association over meals acceptable for Jewish Christians. Barnabas and Mark revisit Cyprus ( 13.4–12 ), which had been omitted on the return journey to Antioch described in 14.24–26 .

40 :

Paul now sets out as an “independent” missionary, accompanied by Silas (v. 22 ). Paul's ties with Antioch may have been strained at this point (see Gal 2.11–14).

16.1 :

Derbe and … Lystra, 14.6n. Timothy ( 17.14–15; 18.5; 19.22; 20.4 ) was a more important companion of Paul than the picture in Acts suggests (see Rom 16.21; 1 Cor 16.10; 2 Cor 1.1,19; Phil 1.1; 1 Thess 1.1); he is referred to as Paul's “child in the Lord” at 1 Cor 4.17 . The pseudonymous letters 1 and 2 Timothy are ostensibly addressed to him. Timothy's mother (see 2 Tim 1.5 ) is said to be Jewish, while his father was a Greek.

3 :

That Paul … had him circumcised seems unimaginable in view of passages such as 1 Cor 7.18 and Gal 5.2 . Paul stresses in Gal 2.3 that Titus “was not compelled to be circumcised, though he was a Greek.” Timothy's case might be different because his mother was Jewish (v. 1 ), yet the principle of matrilineal descent (the ethnicity of the child is determined by the mother) does not appear to have been in effect at this time. Luke may have allowed his theme of Paul's faithfulness to the law in all respects ( 21.23–24; 22.3 ) to color the narrative here and refute the charge raised in 21.21 in advance.

4 :

The decisions, the apostolic decree of 15.20 . The apostles are mentioned here for the last time—their age is now over.

16.6–10 : Directed by the Spirit through Asia Minor to Troas.

Journey through the interior to the Aegean.

6 :

The region is probably the country northwest of Iconium where both Phrygians and Galatians lived. Asia, the Roman province of that name in western Asia Minor ( 6.9 ).

7 :

Opposite Mysia, a north‐western part of the province of Asia; Bithynia was to its east. Spirit of Jesus, equivalent to the Holy Spirit in v. 6 .

8 :

Troas, on the western coast of Mysia.

9 :

Macedonia, a Roman province in Europe including the cities of Philippi, Thessalonica, and Beroea.

10 :

The “we” passages ( 16.10–17; 20.5–15; 21.1–18; 27.1–28.16; see Introduction) begin here and bring additional vividness to the story.

16.11–40 : Paul and Silas in Philippi.

11 :

Samothrace, an island in the northern Aegean, midway between Troas and Neapolis, the seaport of Philippi.

12 :

Philippi was a leading city, but not the capital, of Macedonia. It was populated by discharged soldiers who received grants of land and enjoyed the special civic rights that pertained to a Roman colony (freedom from taxation, Roman legal procedures).

13 :

The Gk word normally rendered “prayer” in the New Testament can also mean a place of prayer, as here, which may or may not imply a building (synagogue). By the river, some evidence suggests that Diaspora synagogues were frequently located near water. As usual in Acts, Paul seeks out the Jewish community in a new place.

14 :

Worshiper of God, the same word is used to describe proselytes in 13.43 but is applied to “women of high standing” in 13.50 in contradistinction to Jews. The term might simply describe Lydia as pious or suggest that she is a Jewish sympathizer. Thyatira (Rev 2.18–29 ), a city of Lydia, a country in western Asia Minor, was a center for the dyeing industry.

15 :

She and her household were baptized, dependents followed the head of the household in religious matters (v. 31; 10.2; 1 Cor 1.16 ).

17 :

In Lk 8.28 the Gerasene demoniac identifies Jesus as Son of the Most High God. The epithet is common for God in the Psalms of the Septuagint. The “we” passage (v. 10n. ) stops here and resumes at 20.5 .

19 :

Acts frowns on making money by magical or supernatural means (see 8.18–24; 19.25n. ).

20 :

Magistrates, Gk “generals”; here probably not a military but a civic term (apparently to be distinguished from the “authorities,” v. 19 ).

21 :

It was not lawful for Jews to make converts of Romans.

22–23 :

Cf. 2 Cor 11.23–25 (“imprisonments…floggings … beaten with rods”).

24 :

The familiar motif of escape‐proof security ( 5.19–20; 12.6 ).

26 :

An earthquake, here a supernatural event (see 4.31 ). Doors open and bonds are loosened for Dionysus in Euripides’ Bacchae 447–448 ; see also Ovid, Metamorphoses 15.669–671. See 12.6–11n.

27 :

Drew his sword, a Roman jailer whose prisoner escaped was liable to forfeit his life (cf. 12.19; 27.42 ).

30 :

The question is elicited by the supernatural circumstances.

33 :

The entire household is baptized (v. 15 ).

35 :

Police, lictors, officials who enforced the decisions of a magistrate.

37–38 :

With dramatic flair the reader suddenly learns that both Paul and Silas are Roman citizens protected by law against scourging ( 22.25; contrast 2 Cor 11.23–25 ). This increase in Paul's credentials strongly endorses the theme of the compatibility of Christianity with Roman life (see 10.1n.; 13.7n.).

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