4. Gospel expansion into Greece, 16:1-20:38

i] The call to Macedonia


Luke now moves to give his account of the evangelisation of the Aegean shores. In v1-5 Paul and his mission team revisit many of the Gentile churches established during the first missionary journey. Luke makes a point of noting that Paul seeks to instruct his mission churches with respect to the decisions of the Jerusalem Council, cf., chapter 15. Luke goes on to tell us that Paul and his mission team wanted to head deeper into Asia, but are forbidden by the Holy Spirit. It is in this context that Paul has his vision of a man from Macedonia begging him to come over to "help us." So, the team heads across the Hellespont to Neapolis and then to Philippi. It is at Philippi where Paul meets Lydia, "a worshiper of God", and is able to lead her, and her household, to Christ.


The progress of gospel from Jerusalem to the ends of the world / Rome, is divinely authorised and managed.


i] Context: See 15:36-41


ii] Background:


iThe movement of the gospel from Jerusalem to Rome, 1:1-11;

iThe theological structure of the gospel; 3:11-26;

iSalvation by households, 10:44-48;

iWater Baptism in Acts, 2:37-41;

iContextualising the gospel: The business of making the gospel relevant to the culture of the listener.

As the gospel increasingly extended beyond the synagogue to the wider Gentile community, it became necessary to reshape its distinctive Jewish nature for Gentile ears. The most significant example of the contextualisation of the gospel in Acts is found in Paul's Areopagus sermon, 17:22-31. In this sermon we have a gospel presentation to Gentile non-believers who have virtually no understanding of the Bible.

A possible key to this process of contextualising the gospel is found in 8:12 where Luke first reminds the reader of the historic gospel first announced by the Baptist and Jesus, "the important news of the kingdom", cf., Lk.4:43 - "the time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the important news", Mk.1:15. Luke then goes on to explain the sense of this message for his readers: the message concerns "the name = person of Jesus, Christ / God's anointed one / Lord."


As indicated in the background study The theological structure of the gospel message, the structure of the gospel presents as follows:


Setting up a contextual frame;

i] The time is fulfilled;

ii] The kingdom of God is at hand;

Now: Blessings / Cursings;

Not yet: Blessings / Cursings;

iii] Repent and believe.


Consider the example of Paul's Areopagus sermon:

iPaul spends most of his time on the Introduction, establishing the nature of God and mankind, and of mankind's failed relationship with God, v22-29.

iThe announcement that The time is fulfilled, in the terms of the fulfilment of prophecy, is not mentioned - Greeks would have little interest in the supposed fulfilment of Jewish prophecy. Yet, Paul contextualises this truth by pointing out that the age when "God shut his eyes to human folly" has come to an end, v30a.

iPaul brings forward the call to Repent, v30b (a hortatory technique enabling him to conclude with his punch-line - the coming kingdom).

iPaul concludes by contextualising the announcement that The kingdom of God is at hand, v31: The day of judgment is set, given that Jesus is risen from the dead, ie., he is Lord.


From Paul's Areopagus sermon we can get a general idea of the shape of the gospel communicated to non-Jews during Paul's Aegean mission, and thence to the Empire beyond.

iThe provision of background information:

a) Who God is;

b) Why the world is in a mess. Note how Paul establishes the person of God, and our wrong dealings with God, in the Areopagus sermon.

iJewish ideas of fulfilled prophecy are not evident. In particular, the crucifixion of Jesus presented in the terms of a sacrifice for sin, the lamb of God, suffering servant. Jews, waiting for the dawning of the kingdom, can understand such imagery; Gentiles have little understanding of it. So with Gentile unbelievers, the focus is more on the resurrection of Jesus, on the empty tomb, rather than on Calvary. Note again the Areopagus sermon. There is no mention of Jesus' crucifixion or the fulfilment of prophecy, but rather only a mention of Jesus' resurrection as a sign of the end of the age and of judgement, and thus of Jesus' lordship.

iBiblical concepts are avoided. In the Areopagus sermon, Paul uses the language and literature of the day. Today, when talking with an unbeliever, we usually keep the vocabulary down to grade 6 - the Good News Bible standard.

iThe focus of the gospel is on the person of Jesus - who he is, what he has done and what he is offering.

i There will be an accounting. Again, in the Areopagus sermon, Paul certainly hit the negative aspect of the coming kingdom by speaking of the end of the age and of judgement - to ignore so great a salvation is to face eternal loss.

iAn expected response. Obviously, when Paul called on his Greek audience to "repent", they had some understanding of the word's religious significance, in the sense of a turning to commit to. Today it simply means being sorry. Similarly with the word "faith / belief", this too, in the NT, is a commitment-word with the sense of to depend on, rather than intellectually ascribe to. Today, as then, the expected response involves a person response to Jesus as the Lord of the universe.


iii] Structure: The call to Macedonia:

Paul revisits his mission churches, v1-5;

Paul's mission plans disrupted by the Holy Spirit, v6-8;

The vision of the man from Macedonia, v9;

The journey across the Hellespont, v10-11;

The conversion of Lydia, v12-15.


iv] Interpretation:

Luke's account of Paul's move to Macedonia and his mission in Philippi is quite detailed, running to the end of chapter 16. Whereas Paul's mission has, up to this point, been synagogue focused, here it is focused on Gentile individuals and households. Paul's vision of the Way is shifting from a Jewish church to a Gentile church. "Salvation, rather than the kingdom of God or eternal life, is highlighted as the message proclaimed in this city", Peterson D.

The geographical significance of Paul's move into Europe is quite limited. The language and culture is similar on both sides of the Hellespont and all the related provinces are united under the power of Rome. None-the-less, for Luke, there is significance, and this is found in the steady movement of the gospel from Jerusalem to the ends of the world, or better, to its centre, Rome. Again, Luke relates this movement as divinely directed, even to the point of frustrating the plans of Paul's missionary team.


v] Homiletics: The gospel and Baby Boomers

[Map] Lydia was a self-motivated merchant, a representative of the affluent middle-class in Philippi, and above all, a seeker after truth - a God-botherer.

If you look around you, you will realise that Father Time is finally catching up with our middle-class baby boomers, and as you would expect, the funeral industry is gearing up to service the Boomers boom. Funeral homes know well that a memorial service read from a book by a robed official of organised religion does little to satisfy the longings of this peculiar generation. A flowery religious service is no longer welcome; "OK for dad and mum, but not for me". A baby boomer wants their life celebrated, not mourned.

Middle-class baby boomers in Western society were a group once greatly influenced by the gospel, but today they are rarely found in church; they view organised religion as an anachronism. For the Christian church they are the lost generation, and there is little evidence that their children, and grandchildren, Generation X, Y, Z etc. will ever set foot in a church.

In the 80's, when the baby boomers were coming into their own, organised religion had retreated from the real world and internalised religious experience. Baby boomers are modernists, they are focused on objective concerns rather than inner tranquillity. The drug of the 80's was Cocaine, not LSD. By the time the church caught up in the 90's, baby boomers had all but severed their links with the church.

The objective concerns of baby boomers are easy enough to identify:

iFamily. Marriage stability and permanency was expressed in formal marriage, although as we move through the 10's, marriage breakdown has become endemic. For their children, education was paramount. This is evidenced in the growth of privately funded schools.

iMorality. Although initially socialist, egalitarian, the trend for baby boomers is toward a conservative, rather than radical morality.

iPolitics. The politics of the middle ground. Swinging allegiance is the name of the game for baby boomers.

iPreservation. Anti-nuclear, anti-union, anti-multinational, and an interest in "futures".

How then do we evangelise this lost generation to the church. Most were churched, some even attended a Billy Graham crusade, but now they are churched out. Maybe the best we can hope for is that like Lydia, the seeker in them will blossom. For this to bear fruit we need to redouble our efforts to communicate the gospel, and communicate it in a relevant and meaningful way. Baby boomers are children of the box, TV, and happily dabble in new media. So, the pathway for the gospel is via the media, and this before Father Time has his way.

Text - 16:1

The call to Macedonia, v1-15. i] Paul revisits his mission churches, v1-5. Luke specifically mentions that Paul revisits Derbe and Lystra. Luke then takes a moment to explain an issue which can easily be misunderstood, namely, the circumcision of Timothy. Although Timothy's mother is a believing Jew, Timothy is not circumcised, probably down to his Greek father. The Jerusalem council has just resolved that Gentiles need not be circumcised, and yet Paul requires that Timothy be circumcised for him to join his mission team. Luke explains that this evident hypocrisy is dia touV IoudaiouV, "because of the Jews", ie., it is a social issue, not a salvation issue. Believing Jews in the congregations that Paul and Timothy will minister in, may find the ministrations of an uncircumcised Jew offensive, disrupting the Christian fellowship, so, in order to maintain table fellowship, in line with the regulations of the Jerusalem council, Paul circumcises Timothy. Paul applies the principle, "to the Jews I become a Jew, in order to win Jews", 1Cor.9:20. For Paul, circumcision remains "an indifferent ceremony", Calvin.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative.

kai ..... kai "and" - [he came] and = both [into derbe] and [into lystra, and behold a certain disciple was there]. Forming a correlative construction, "both ..... and."

onomati (a atoV) dat. "named [Timothy]" - by name [timothy]. The dative is adverbial, reference / respect; "with respect to his name, Timothy."

gunaikoV (h koV) gen. "whose mother" - [the son] of a [faithful jewish] woman. The genitive is adjectival, relational. The genitive noun "woman" is modified by two genitive adjectives, "faithful" and "Jewish".

EllhnoV (oV) gen. "a Greek" - [but/and the son] of a greek]. The genitive is adjectival, relational.


emartureito (marturew) imperf. pas. "spoke well of him" - [who] was [witnessed to by the brothers in lystra and iconium]. In the passive voice, the verb "to witness" takes the sense "to be spoken well of, accredited, to be identified as a person of good reputation." The use of the imperfect here may indicate that Timothy was so regarded over a long period of time, although it is more likely that the imperfective aspect of this verb, as well as the verb to-be in v1b ("his mother was a Jewish believer, but ....."), serves within the discourse narrative to indicate background information essential for a proper understanding of the main action of Paul coming (aorist) to Lystra, wanting to take (aorist) Timothy with him and so consequently circumcising (aorist) him.


Given that Luke's account is now the Acts of the Apostle Paul, he clears up an issue which has tainted Paul's ministry, namely, the hypocrisy associated with his requirement that Timothy be circumcised - on the one hand, Paul advocates freedom from the Law of Moses, but on the other hand, he requires Timothy to obey the Law. Luke resorts to short-talk (semantic density) to explain why Paul found it necessary to circumcise Timothy. Luke obviously didn't need to go into the details for his readers at the time, but he has left us up in the air. With a causal dia, Luke tells us why Paul "took him and circumcised him", namely, "because of the Jews who lived in that region." Then, with an explanatory gar", he explains why it is, "because of the Jews", that Paul circumcised Timothy, namely, "because they all knew that his father was a Greek who had refused to circumcise him as a child, and, given that his mother was a Jew, Jews, believing or otherwise, would find the ministrations of an uncircumcised Jew offensive."

exelqein (exercomai) aor. inf. "to take him along" - [paul wanted this one] to come out [with him]. The infinitive may be classified as complementary, or serving to introduce an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what Paul wanted; "Paul wanted Timothy as his companion (sun, "with [him]") when he left for his next missionary journey, and so ......"

kai "so" - and. Consecutive use of the conjunction; "and so consequently ....."

labwn (lambanw) aor. part. "[he circumcised him]" - having taken him [he circumcised him]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to circumcise."

dia + acc. "because" - because of [the jews]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Paul circumcised Timothy.

touV ontaV (eimi) pres. part. "who" - the ones [in those places]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "Jews"; "the Jews who were living in those parts", Cassirer.

gar "for" - for [everyone had known]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why it is "because of the Jews" that Paul circumcised Timothy

oJti "[knew] that" - that [the father of him was a greek]. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what everyone knew.


Luke notes that as Paul revisits his mission churches, he passes on the determinations of the Jerusalem Conference. The circular letter produced by the apostles and elders of the Jerusalem church was intended for those churches under their charge in Syria and Cilicia, but Paul is intent on making ta dogmata, "the decrees", widely known. He encourages the churches falassein, "to keep", them, namely, to not force Gentiles to submit to the Law of Moses, but at the same time, for the sake of table fellowship, to consider sensitive cultural issues relevant to Jews. By placing this note next to his explanation as to why Paul circumcised Timothy, Luke indicates that Paul's actions fulfil the intent of the instructions from the Jerusalem Conference.

wJV "as" - [but/and] as [they were passing through the cities]. Temporal use of the conjunction, as NIV.

ta kekrimena (krinw) perf. mid. part. "[decisions] reached" - [they were passing on the decrees] having been judged = decided. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "decrees"; "the resolutions which the apostles and the presbyters in Jerusalem had reached", Moffatt.

uJpo + gen. "by" - by [the apostles and elders]. Expressing agency.

twn "-" - the ones [in jerusalem]. The article serves as an adjectivizer, turning the prepositional phrase "in Jerusalem" into an attributive modifier of "the apostles and elders"; "who were in Jerusalem", ESV.

fulassein (fulassw) pres. inf. "obey" - [and instructed, enjoined, told them] to keep. An assumed verb is required for this infinitive, The infinitive introduces an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what he instructed them, namely, that they keep / obey the decrees"; "and told them to observe them", Barclay / "with instructions that they should be obeyed", TNT.

autoiV dat. pro. "-" - them. Dative of direct object after to verb "to keep, obey"; "with instructions to observe them", Cassirer.


Luke gives us another recap of the progress of the gospel before he moves on to his account of Paul's second missionary journey, cf., 2:41, 4:4, 5:14, 6:1, ....... Given the ever widening spread of the gospel, the churches of the Way estereounto, "were strengthened, (given the wherewithal to persevered, infused with fortitude, made solid, firm in attitude and belief)", with respect to th/ pistei, "their personal faith in Jesus / the Christian faith" (it is often unclear which sense is intended - "their faith", CEV; "the faith", TNT), and increased with respect to "numbers."

men oun "so" - for on the one hand. Transitional, see 1:6

th/ pistei (iV ewV) dat. "[were strengthened] in the faith" - [the churches were made strong] in the faith [and were increasing in number]. As for "in number", the dative is adverbial, reference / respect.

kaq (kata) + acc. "daily" - according to [the day]. Distributive use of the preposition; "day by day, daily."


ii] Paul's mission is disrupted by the Holy Spirit, v6-8: Paul, along with Silas and Timothy, visits Lystra, Iconium and Pisidian Antioch, but they are restrained by the Holy Spirit from heading into the province of Asia, ie., going north into Bithynia (there is some debate on the actual sense of Luke's geographical notes, given that the regions Phrygia and Galatia were a movable feast at the time, so his route to Troas is unclear). Luke again recounts how the Holy Spirit administers the outward movement of the gospel, and of Paul's sensitivity to the leadings of the Spirit, either through an inward prompting, a prophetic word, or some physical, social or political restraint.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional link with men oun, v5.

kwluqenteV (kwluw) part. "having been kept" - [they travelled through the phrygian and galatian country] having been prevented. The participle is adverbial, probably causal, "because". We would love to answer the how and why questions, but the text gives little away. Was one of the other apostles working in this area? Paul's team seems to be heading for Ephesus, but the Spirit has another mission for them. "They made a tour of the Phrygian and Galatian districts, because they had been prevented by the Holy Spirit from telling the message in Asia", Barclay.

uJpo + gen. "by" - by [the holy spirit]. Expressing agency.

lalhsai (lalew) "from preaching" - to speak [the word]. Usually classified as complementary, completing the sense of the verbal aspect of the participle "having been prevented", although technically it serves to introduce an object clause / dependent statement of cause expressing what the mission team was prevented from doing.

en + dat. "in [the province of Asia]" - in [the asia]. Local, expressing space. Asia was an important Roman province bounded by Bithynia in the north, Lycia in the south, and Galatia in the east.


We have an interesting change here from the Holy Spirit, v6, to "the Spirit of Jesus". Some commentators suggest that the different way the travellers were prevented prompts the different title. It is more likely that the titles are interchangeable, although without intending to blur the individuality of the Spirit and Jesus; ultimately, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus. On the issue of closed doors, it is good to remember that Satan is the great deceiver, such that when it comes to guidance, we always have to ask, who is opening, or closing, the door? Sometimes, doing the opposite is the pathway to success!!!

elqonteV (ercomai) aor. part. "when they came" - [but/and] having come. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal, as NIV.

kata + acc. "to" - according to = up to, toward. Here with a spatial sense; "up against."

thn Musian "the boarder of Mysia" - the mysia. Mysia was originally a separate cultural and geographic region, but had been incorporated into the province of Asia. Boarder / frontier is assumed. "In the region of / in the latitude of", are other possibilities.

poreuqhnai (poreuomai) aor. pas. inf. "to enter" - [they were trying] to go [into bithynia]. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "were trying". Culy suggests that the imperfect of the verb "to try" is used to indicate background information.

kai "but" - and = but. Here with an adversative edge, as NIV.

Ihsou (ouV ou) gen. "[the Spirit] of Jesus" - [the spirit] of jesus [did not permit them]. The genitive is adjectival, possessive. A rare phrase in the NT, but likely used here by Luke for a "variety of expression", Barrett. Luke is simply making the point that "the Christians did what they did under the instruction and guidance of God, who worked through his Spirit, here more narrowly defined as the Spirit of Jesus", Barrett


The geographical pointers remain unclear, with the Western text changing the participle parelqonteV "passing by", to dielqonteV, "passing through." "So they traversed Mysia and and went down to the sea at Troas", Cassirer.

parelqonteV (parercomai) aor. part. "so they passed by" - [but/and] having passed by [mysia]. The participle is adverbial, best treated as consecutive, expressing result, "so as a result, ....."; "So they passed Mysia by", Moffatt.

Trw/ada (aV adoV) "Troas" - [they came down into] troas. An ancient Greek city known as Alexandria Troas, now a Roman colony and important port.


iii] The vision of the man from Macedonia, v9: In a vision, the Spirit leads Paul to journey to Macedonia, and so the gospel makes its way into Europe. Luke probably intends us to understand that it was that night, during that night, the first night on their arrival in Troas, that Paul had his vision. The presence of the article in thV nuktoV "the night", makes this point, although the article is not found in all manuscripts. Without an article, the instrumental sense becomes dominant; "by night", so Moule IB.

dia + gen. "during [the night]" - [and a vision appeared] through [the = that night]. Here adverbial, with a temporal sense; "during, in". "Vision" in the sense of "an apparition", rather than "a dream", ie., Paul is awake.

tw/ Paulw/ (oV) dat. "Paul" - to paul. Dative of direct object after the passive verb "to appear to."

h\n estwV (iJsthmi) perf. part. "standing" - [a certain macedonian man] had been standing [and begging him]. The verb iJsthmi, "to stand", is not used in the present tense, and so given that the participle "begging" takes a present tense, then both participles are best treated as present, such that with the imperfect verb to-be they together form an imperfect periphrastic construction; "a Macedonian man was standing there and urging him." The word "begging" carries a negative sense in English. The sense is carried better with a word like "urging", even "pleading".

legwn (legw) pres. part. "-" - [and] saying. The presence of kai may indicate that this participle is part of the periphrastic construction, but it is more likely attendant on the periphrastic construction, semi-redundant, serving to introduce direct speech; "a Macedonian man stood and pleaded with him, ' Come into Macedonia and help us.'"

diabaV (diabainw) aor. part. "come over [to Macedonia]" - having come over [into macedonia help]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the imperative verb "help"; "come over .... and help us."

hJmin dat. pro. "us" - us. Dative of direct object after the verb "to offer help to."


iv] The journey across the Hellespont, v10-11: Paul immediately arranges transport to Macedonia. The change from "they" to "we" seems to indicate that Luke now joins the missionary team. Luke's use of "we" is often viewed by critical commentators as a literary device rather than a historical reality, but this seems unlikely. Luke carefully notes the route taken to reach Macedonia.

wJV "after" - [but/and] when [he saw the vision]. Adverbial, best treated as temporal, Introducing a temporal clause, as NIV. "After" carries the sense better in English than "when".

ezhthsamen (zhtew) aor. "we got ready" - [immediately] we sought. They sought to act upon Paul's vision by immediately heading for Macedonia, ie., "we got ready." Note the "we". Has Luke joined the mission team?

exelqein (exercomai) aor. inf. "to leave" - to go out [into macedonia]. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "seek / got ready".

sumbibazonteV (sumbibazw) pres. part. "concluding" - putting together, showing for certain, proving = concluding. The participle is adverbial, probably causal; "for we concluded that God had called us", Barclay.

oJti "that" - that. Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what they concluded.

proskeklhtai (proskaleomai) perf. "had called" - [god] has summoned [us]. The significance of "called" in English is losing its impact due to secularisation. A word like "instructed" or "summoned" carries more meaning.

euaggelisasqai (euaggelizomai) aor. inf. "to preach the gospel" - to proclaim, preach, communicate. The infinitive may be treated as adverbial, final, expressing the purpose of the calling; "in order to preach the gospel to them", or treated as introducing a dependent statement, indirect speech, expressing what God had called them to do, namely, that they preach the gospel to the Macedonians. This word in the NT carries the sense "to communicate important news", and most often means "to communicate the gospel."

autouV "to them" - them. The accusative may be adverbial, reference / respect, "to preach the gospel with respect to the Macedonians", although Culy suggests it has advanced to the position of direct object, and is therefore accusative, a move that serves to emphasise the object of the preaching, namely, the Macedonians.


They sailed to the island of Samothrace in the Aegean sea, and then to the Neapolis, the port for Philippi.

anacqenteV (anagw) aor. pas. part. "we put out to sea" - having set sail, put out to sea [from troas, we set a straight course into samothrace]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "we made a straight run / before a favourable wind", as NIV. "Samothrace was a good day's sail from Troas, as was Neapolis form Samothrace", Bruce.

th/ ... epioush/ dat. pres. part. "the next day" - [but/and] the remaining / set upon [into new town = neapolis]. Compounded word epi eimi. The dative participle is adverbial, temporal; "on the next day."


v] The conversion of Lydia, v12-15. Disembarking at Neapolis, the missionaries travel to Philippi. Philippi was a Roman city colonised primarily by veteran soldiers who had served in the great battles of the era (42BC: Antony and Octavian's defeat of Brutus and Cassius. 31BC: Octavian's defeat of Antony and Cleopatra).

kakeiqen adv. "from there we traveled" - and from there [into philippi]. Compounded word kai ekeiqen (an adverb of place), "and from there."

thV meridoV thV MakeoniaV "of that district of Macedonia" - [which is a leading city, a colony] of the district of macedonia. Both genitives are adjectival, the first is idiomatic, local, "located in the district", and the next is partitive, "of Macedonia. "A colony", kolwnia, stands in apposition to "city". The Greek is unclear: First, prwth, variant genitive, prwthV, "first, chief, leading", is a problem because Philippi is not the first city of Macedonia, that honour goes to the capital, Thessalonica. Nor is Philippi the first city in its district, that honour goes to Amphipolis. Yet, it is a prominent / leading city, if not the chief city; Second, thV meridoV, variants meriV, meridoV, "the portion, share", is not thought to mean "the district". The TEV has a stab at the meaning with "a city of the first district (portion?) of Macedonia", but such a contortion is unnecessary.

hmen .... diatribonteV (diatribw) pres. part. "we stayed" - [but/and] we were staying. The imperfect verb to-be and the present participle form an imperfect periphrastic construction, probably emphasising aspect - the length of stay.

en + dat. "there" - in [that city]" - in [that city certain days]. Locative, expressing space.


Paul follows his usual practice and seeks out the local synagogue (proseuchn , "a house of prayer", presumably used by Luke here for a synagogue). There was a large Jewish population in Macedonia at the time, so we would expect there to be a local synagogue in Philippi. It is often assumed that Paul found no synagogue, just an unofficial gathering of Jewish women. Yet, it seems more likely that Paul assumed that the synagogue was beside the river, didn't find it, but found a group of women instead, and got talking to them.

te "-" - and, so, ... Coordinative conjunction; "and on the Sabbath day."

th/ ... hJmera/ dat. "on"- on the day. The dative is adverbial, temporal.

twn sabbatwn (on) gen. "the Sabbath" - of the sabbath. The genitive is adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic / identification; "the day which is called / known as the Sabbath."

exw + gen. "outside [the city gate]" - [we went out] outside [the gate]. The preposition is virtually redundant given the ek prefix of the verb exhlqomen, "we went out." "Outside the city" makes the point.

para + acc. "to" - beside [a river]. Spatial; "beside, alongside, near." They went out of the city to the nearby river, .

einai (eimi) "[we expected] to [find]" - [where we were supposing a house of prayer] to be. The infinitive introduces an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what they "expected / supposed", namely, "that there would be there a house of prayer." The word proseuch "prayer" is not normally used of "a place of prayer", but that is obviously the intention here, presumably a synagogue. The TEV "a place for prayer" is a possible translation.

kaqisanteV (kaqizw) aor. part. "we sat down" - having sat down. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "we were speaking"; "we sat down and spoke to the women who were assembled there." Culy suggests that it is adverbial, temporal; "when we sat down, we spoke with the women who had gathered there."

taiV sunelqousaiV (sunercomai) aor. part. "[to the women] who had gathered there" - [to the women] the ones having gathered together. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "women", dative in agreement with the dative of indirect object "women".


One of the women listening to Paul was a merchant who traded in textiles and dyes, obviously a woman of means. As it turned out, she was a sebomenh, "a person who held God in high regard." It is unclear what Luke means by this word. It could mean that she was a Jew, but if this gathering wasn't an informal synagogue, then she would be at the local synagogue at this time. It may mean that she was a God-fearer / proselyte, but then the same would apply. If the gathering is nothing more than a group of women relaxing beside the river, then the word probably means that she was a seeker, a person whose heart is open to God. This seems the likely option, and if correct, then Luke is making the point that Paul's first gospel outreach in Europe is with Gentiles, rather than Jews. The church of the Way has made its final shift from Jew to Gentile.

polewV (iV ewV) gen. " from the city" - [and a certain woman was listening, a merchant who sells purple cloth] of city. The genitive is adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic / source, as NIV. The noun porfuropwliV, "a merchant who sells purple cloth", stands in apposition to "woman".

Quateirwn (a) gen. "of Thyatira" - of thyatira. The genitive is adjectival, of identification; "from a city called / known as Thyatira."

onomati (a atoV) dat. "named" - by name [lydia]. The dative is adverbial, reference / respect; "with respect to her name, Lydia" = "called Lydia." A common name for a slave, although she is obviously a free-woman marketing dyed cloth from Thyatira. A purple dye, at this time, came from processing a particular fish, while a red-purple dye came from the madder-root (called today "Turkey red").

sebomenh (sebw) pres. part. "who was a worshiper of [God]" - worshiping [god]. The participle serves as a substantive, standing in apposition to "Ludia"; "Ludia , ..... a person with a positive attitude toward / allegiance toward God." The expression is unclear - see above.

dihnoixen (dianoigw) aor. "[opened" - [the lord] opened. The phrase "opened her heart" is quaint in English, and given that the word "heart" is used here to express the seat of understanding, and not the seat of emotion, we could say "enabled her to understand." If we try to update the language to "made her receptive", or even worse, "caused her to accept", we move beyond a form of figurative language which both recognises divine sovereignty and human free-will.

h|V "her [heart]" - [the heart] of whom. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, as NIV.

prosecein (prosecw) pres. inf. "to respond" - to pay attention to. The infinitive is adverbial, final, expressing purpose; "in order to enable her to understand what Paul said." Both Culy and Kellum suggest result. It is taking the meaning of this word too far to translate it as "respond" or worse, "accept" or "believe". "To listen eagerly", NRSV, is better. If a person is a seeker, the Lord makes sure that not only do they hear the gospel, but that they can understand it and so properly respond to it. Lydia is obviously a seeker, given that she is a sebomenh ton qeon, and so the Lord not only shuffles the missionaries over to Macedonia to speak with her, but provides her with the wherewithal for her to understand.

toiV laloumenoiV (lalew) pres. mid. part. "[Paul's] message" - the things being spoken [by paul]. Dative of direct object after the proV prefix infinitive "to pay attention to." The preposition uJpo, "by", expresses agency.


On hearing the good news of the kingdom, Lydia puts her trust in Jesus. Both she and her family (household) are "baptized". She offers hospitality to the missionaries and her home soon becomes the centre for a new church in Philippi. The seed sown, now bears fruit.

Again we see this interesting feature, found in the New Testament church, where the household (family members, possibly also staff) is included in the conversion of the head of the home. The faith of the head of the home seems to cover the members of the family. We are probably witnessing the high status given to the family in the scriptures. God has designed the family as the basic unit of human association and it is therefore only natural that the promised blessings of kingdom extend to the family unit. None-the-less, it is going too far to suggest that salvation is realised in family units; It is often the case, but is not the rule. We may be able to go so far as to argue that children are covered by the faith of their parents until they choose to reject Christ, but it is a matter long debated. See notes "Salvation by households", 10:44-48.

wJV "when" - [but/and] when. Here as a temporal conjunction introducing a temporal clause, as NIV.

ebaptisqh (baptizw) aor. pas. "were baptized" - she was immersed [and the house of her]. The oft figurative use of this word means that we cannot just assume that water baptism is intended. In this context it may mean immersed / baptised in teaching / the gospel (immersed in the Name), even immersed / baptised with/in the Spirit, but then again, it may just mean immersed / baptised in water as an outward expression of repentance and faith, and the reception of the Holy Spirit.

legousa (legw) pres. part. "[she invited us to her home]" - [she urged, exhorted, begged] saying. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "urged", semi-redundant, serving to introduce direct speech.

ei + ind. "if" - if. Introducing a conditional clause, 1st. class, where the condition is assumed to be true, here with a perfect tense in the protasis, "if, as is the case ..... then ......" It takes a stative, or true-to-fact sense. "If you judge me to be faithful ....... stay." "If you are really convinced", Barclay.

einai (eimi) "-" - [you consider me] to be. The infinitive of the verb to-be introduces an object clause / dependent statement of perception, expressing what they have decided / judged, with respect to her; "If you have decided / determined that I am a true believer." The subject of the infinitive me is accusative; "me to be" = "that I am."

tw/ kuriw/ (oV) dat. "in the Lord" - [faithful] to the lord. The dative is locative, "in the Lord", or possibly a dative of direct object / interest, "faithful to the Lord" = "a true believer."

eiselqonteV (eisercomai) aor. part. "come [and stay]" - having entered [into the house of me, stay]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the imperative verb "stay/remain/abide"; "come and stay", as NIV.

parebiasato (parabiazomai) aor. "she persuaded" - [and] she pressed against [us]. The sense is better expressed, "she prevailed upon us", ESV.


Acts Introduction

Exegetical Commentaries



[Pumpkin Cottage]