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"The jailor called for lights, and sprang in, and, trembling for fear, fell down before Paul and Silas, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house"—Acts xvi. 29-31.

"When they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: and Paul, as his custom was, went in unto them, and for three Sabbath days reasoned with them from the Scriptures.... And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night into Berœa: who when they were come thither went into the synagogue of the Jews."—Acts xvii. 1, 2, 10.

Troas was at this time the termination of St. Paul's Asiatic travels. He had passed diagonally right through Asia Minor, following the great Roman roads which determined his line of march. From Troas he proceeded to Philippi, and for exactly the same reason. All the great roads formed under the emperors down to the time of Constantine the Great led to Rome. When the seat of empire was moved to Constantinople, all the Asiatic roads converged upon that city; but in St. Paul's day Rome was the world's centre of attraction, and thither the highways all tended. This fact explains St. Paul's movements. The Egnatian Road was one of the great channels of communication established for State purposes by Rome, and this road ran from Neapolis, where St. Paul landed, through Philippi on272 to Dyrrachium, a port on the Adriatic, whence the traveller took ship to Brundusium, the modern Brindisi, and thence reached Rome. What a striking commentary we find in this simple fact upon the words of St. Paul in Galatians iv. 4: "When the fulness of the time came God sent forth His Son." Roman dominion involved much suffering and war and bloodshed, but it secured the network of communication, the internal peace, and the steady, regular government which now covered Europe as well as Asia, and thus for the first time in the world's history rendered the diffusion of the gospel possible, as St. Paul's example here shows. The voyage from Troas to Neapolis was taken by the Apostle after the usual fashion of the time.142142   Both Lewin and Conybeare and Howson in their Lives of St. Paul enter into great details about the scenery and other circumstances of St. Paul's voyage from Troas to Neapolis, which would be out of place in this commentary, even if space did allow their insertion. Mr. Lewin's account is specially interesting, as he gives the impressions made upon himself when going over the ground. These writers all point out that St. Paul must have travelled with a fair wind; Conybeare and Howson even try to determine its exact direction, which they maintain was from the southward. Otherwise he could not have made the passage in two days, or followed the course actually taken. On a subsequent occasion (Acts xx. 6) St. Paul took five days in sailing from Philippi to Troas. Neapolis was the port of Philippi, whence it is distant some eight miles. Travellers from the East to Rome always landed there, and then took the Egnatian Road which started from Neapolis. If they were official persons they could use the public postal service, post-houses being established at a distance of six miles from one another, where relays of horses were kept at the public expense, to carry persons travelling on the imperial service.143143   Posts for the conveyance of intelligence were established by Augustus (see Suetonius, Aug., 49). Gibbon, in the second chapter of his History, has much information on this point. The reader curious in such matters will find a learned account of the Roman postal service in Godefroy's Commentary on the Theodosian Code, vol. ii., p. 526, where he traces the system down from Augustus to the year 400 A.D. It was somewhat similar to that which now prevails in Russia. An interesting story is told concerning Constantine the Great, which illustrates the system. During the Diocletian persecution Constantine, whose leanings towards Christianity were suspected, was residing in Asia Minor with the Emperor Galerius, the determined enemy of Christianity. Constantine knew that there was a plot against him, so, having obtained the authority necessary to use the post, he fled secretly one night, and as he rode along took fresh horses, and at the same time brought the tired animals with him. When his enemies followed him next day, they found the post stables empty, and their prey escaped without any possibility of pursuit. See Dict. Christ. Biog., vol. i., p. 526, Art. Constantinus I., and De Broglie, L'Église et L'Empire, vol. i., p. 192. Paul and Silas, Timothy and273 Luke, must, however, have travelled on foot along the Egnatian Road from Neapolis to Philippi, which was their first objective point, according to St. Paul's usual policy, of attacking large and important centres of population, and then leaving the sacred leaven to work out into the surrounding mass of paganism. Philippi amply rewarded the wisdom of his plan, and the Philippian Church became notable for its zeal, its faith, its activity, among the Churches which owed their origin to the Apostle, as we learn from the Epistles addressed to the Corinthians and to the Philippians themselves a short time after the foundation of the Philippian Church.

Now let us look at the circumstances under which that foundation was laid. To understand them we must go back upon the course of history. Philippi was a city built by King Philip, the father of Alexander the Great. After the conquest of Macedonia by the Romans, it became famous as the scene of the great battle between Brutus and Cassius on the one hand,274 and Mark Antony and Augustus on the other, which decided the fate of the empire and influenced the course of the world's history as few other battles have done. At the time of St. Paul's visit the memory of that battle was fresh, and the outward and visible signs thereof were to be seen on every side, as indeed some of them are still to be seen, the triumphal arches, for instance, erected in memory of the victory and the mound or rampart of earth raised by Brutus to hinder the advance of the opposing forces.144144   The remains of this rampart still exist. They are described in the Mission Archéologique de Macédoine, p. 103, carried out under the direction of M. Leon Heuzey, by order of Napoleon III., and published at Paris between 1864 and 1876. But these things had for the holy travellers a very slight interest, as their hearts were set upon a mightier conflict and a nobler war far than any ever before waged upon earth's surface. There is no mention made in the sacred narrative of the memories connected with the place, and yet St. Luke, as an honest writer setting down facts of which he had formed an important part, lets slip some expressions which involve and throw us back upon the history of the place for an explanation, showing how impossible it is to grasp the full force and meaning of the sacred writers unless we strive to read the Bible with the eyes of the people who lived at the time and for whom it was written. St. Luke calls Philippi "a city of Macedonia, the first of the district, a colony." Now this means that in that time it was situated in the Roman province of Macedonia, that it was either the capital of the division of Macedonia, in which it was situated, Macedonia being subdivided into four distinct divisions which were kept perfectly separate, or else that it was the275 first city the traveller met upon entering Macedonia from Asia, and further that it was a Roman colony, and thus possessed peculiar privileges. When we read in the Bible of colonies we must not understand the word in our modern sense. Colonies were then simply transcripts of the original city whence they had come. Roman colonies were miniatures or copies of Rome itself transplanted into the provinces, and ruling as such amid the conquered races where they were placed. They served a twofold purpose. They acted as garrisons to restrain the turbulence of the neighbouring tribes; and if we study Roman geography carefully we shall find that they were always placed in neighbourhoods where their military importance is plainly manifest; and further still, they were used as convenient places to locate the veteran soldiers of Italy who had served their time, where they were rewarded with grants of land, and were utilising at the same time the skill and experience in military matters which they had gained, for the general benefit of the State.

Augustus made Philippi into a colony, erecting a triumphal arch to celebrate his victory over Brutus, and placing there a large settlement of his veterans who secured for him this important outpost. The colonies which were thus dispersed along the military frontier, as we should put it in modern language, were specially privileged. All the settlers were Roman citizens, and the government of the colony was like that of the mother city itself, in the hands of two magistrates, called in Greek Strategoi, or in Latin Prætors,145145   The proper official title of the highest magistrates of a colony was Duumviri. The colonies where a Greek spirit prevailed did not like this title, and called themselves Prætors, or Στρατηγοί, as in the case of Philippi. In exact accordance with St. Luke's usage Cicero, a century earlier, tells us in one of his Epistles, speaking of the vanity of Capua, which was thoroughly Greek in spirit, and therefore very vain: "While in other colonies the magistrates are called Duumviri, these wish themselves to be styled Prætors," a weakness laughed at in Horace's Satires, lib. i., v. 34-6. Dion Chrysostom, a Greek rhetorician of St. Paul's day, mocks the Greeks for the same flashy spirit. who ruled276 according to the laws of the Twelve Tables and after Roman methods, though perhaps all the neighbouring cities were still using their ancient laws and customs handed down from times long prior to the Roman Conquest. The details given us by St. Luke are in the strictest accordance in all these respects with the facts which we know independently concerning the history and political status of Philippi.

St. Paul and his companions arrived in Philippi in the early part of the week. He was by this time a thoroughly experienced traveller. Five years later, when writing his Second Epistle to Corinth, he tells us that he had been already three times shipwrecked; so that, unless peculiarly unfortunate, he must have already made extended and repeated sea voyages, though up to the present we have only heard of the journeys from Antioch to Cyprus, from Cyprus to Perga, and from Attaleia back to Antioch.146146   The common pronunciation of Attaleia, or as it is spelt in the Authorised Version, Attalia, is with the ι short. The "i" represents, however, the Greek diphthong ει, and is long. A two days' voyage across the fresh and rolling waters of the Mediterranean, following by a steep climb over Mountain Pangæus which intervenes between Philippi and its port Neapolis, made, however, a rest of a day or two very acceptable to the Apostle and his friends. St. Paul never expected too much from his own body, or from the bodies of his companions; and though he knew the work of a world's salvation was pressing, yet he could take277 and enjoy a well-earned holiday from time to time. There was nothing in St. Paul of that eternal fussiness which we at times see in people of strong imaginations but weak self-control, who, realising the awful amount of woe and wickedness in the world, can never be at rest even for a little. The men of God remained quiet therefore (ch. xvi. 12, 13) till the Sabbath Day, when, after their usual custom, they sought out in the early morning the Jewish place of worship, where St. Paul always first proclaimed the gospel. The Jewish colony resident at Philippi must have been a very small one. The Rabbinical rule was that where ten wise men existed there a synagogue might be established.147147   See Dr. John Lightfoot's Horæ Hebraicæ on Matt. iv. 23; Works (London, 1684), vol. ii., pp. 132-34, for the Rabbinical legislation on Synagogues and their erection. There cannot therefore have been ten learned, respectable, and substantial Jews in Philippi competent to act as a local sanhedrin or court. Where, however, the Jews could not establish a synagogue, they did not live without any external expression of religion. They knew how easily neglect of public worship is followed by practical atheism, as we often see. Men may say indeed that God can be realised, and can be worshipped anywhere,—a very great truth and a very precious one for those who are unavoidably cut off from the public worship of the Most High; but a truth which has no application to those who wilfully cut themselves off from that worship which has the covenanted promise of His presence. It is not a good sign for the young men of this generation that so many of them utterly neglect public worship; for as surely as men act so, then present neglect will be followed by a total forgetfulness of the Eternal, and278 by a disregard of the laws which He has established amongst men. The Jews at Philippi did not follow this example; when they could not establish a synagogue they set apart an oratory or Place of Prayer, whither they resorted on the Sabbath Day to honour the God of their fathers, and to keep alive in their children's hearts the memory of His laws and doings.148148   A local illustration of this typical Church history occurs to me. Oliver Cromwell planted Ireland, especially the golden vale of Tipperary, with his Puritan soldiers. They were strong Nonconformists, and refused therefore after the Restoration to worship according to the forms of the Established Church. Their children after a generation or two almost universally fell into the arms of the Church of Rome, and now many of the leading members of the National League are Roman Catholic descendants of Cromwell's Puritans, and display still the same vigorous qualities which adorned their Protestant ancestors in the copious abuse they pour upon the memory of the men from whom they are descended.

The original name of Philippi was Crenides, or Place of Streams.149149   I am here reminded of a place with exactly the same name which became as famous in the history of the Celtic Church as Philippi did in that of the Macedonian Church. Fore, in the county of Westmeath, means Place or Valley of Streams. It was celebrated in the seventh century as a great missionary establishment, at the head of which stood St. Fechin, a primitive Celtic missionary. His oratory, cell, and ancient church are still to be seen. I have described them in a paper contributed to the Journal of the Society of Irish Antiquaries for this year (1892). A comparison of St. Paul's missionary methods with those of St. Fechin would be interesting. They are fully described in Colgan's Acts of the Irish Saints. Beside one of these streams the Jews had placed their oratory, and there St. Paul preached his first sermon in Europe and gained Lydia, his first European convert, a Jewess by blood, a woman of Thyatira in Asia Minor by birth, of Philippi in Macedonia by residence, and a dyer in purple by trade.279150150   The guild of dyers at Thyatira is celebrated in the inscriptions belonging to that city found in Bœckh's Corpus Inscriptionum Græcarum. The congregation of women assembled at that oratory must have been a very small one. When Philippi did not afford a sufficient Jewish population for the erection of a synagogue such as was found among the smaller towns of Asia Minor, and such as we shall in the course of the present tour find to have existed at towns and cities of no great size in Greece and Macedonia, then we may be sure that the female population, who assembled that Sabbath morning to pray and listen to the Scriptures, must have been a small one. But St. Paul and his companions had learned already one great secret of the true evangelist's life. They never despised a congregation because of its smallness. I have read somewhere in the writings of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop of Geneva, a remark bearing on this point. De Sales was an extreme Roman Catholic, and his mind was injured and his mental views perverted in many respects by the peculiar training he thus received. But still he was in many respects a very saintly man, and his writings embody much that is good for every one. In one of his letters which I have read he deals with this very point, and speaks of the importance of small congregations, first, because they have no tendency to feed the preacher's pride, but rather help to keep him humble; and secondly, because some of the most effective and fruitful sermons have been preached to extremely small congregations, two or three persons at most, some one of whom has afterwards turned out to be a most vigorous soldier of the Cross of Christ. The most effective sermon perhaps that ever was preached was that delivered to Saul of Tarsus when to him alone came the voice, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" And here again, in the Philippian Oratory, the congregation was but a small one, yet the Apostle280 despised it not. He and his companions bent all their powers to the work, threw their whole hearts into it, and as the result the Lord rewarded their earnest, thorough, faithful service as He rewards such service in every department of life's action. The Lord opened the heart of Lydia so that she attended to the apostolic teaching, and she and all her household when duly instructed became baptized disciples of Jesus of Nazareth.

This was an important incident in the history of the Philippian Church, and was attended by far-reaching results. Lydia herself, like so many others of God's most eminent saints, disappears at once and for ever from the scene. But her conversion was a fruitful one. St. Paul and his friends continued quietly but regularly working and teaching at the oratory. Lydia would seem to have been a widow, and must have been a woman of some position in the little community; for she was able to entertain the Apostle and his company as soon as she embraced the faith and felt its exceeding preciousness. When inviting them, too, she uses the language of a woman independent of all other control. "If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and abide there," are words with the tone of one who as a widow owned no superior, and whose will was law within her own household; as well as the language of a woman who felt that the gospel she had embraced demanded and deserved the consecration to its service of all her worldly possessions. Previously to this conversion St. Paul had lived in hired lodgings, but now he moved to Lydia's residence, abiding there, and thence regularly worshipping at the Jewish oratory. The presence of these Jewish strangers soon attracted attention. Their teaching too got noised abroad, exaggerated doubtless281 and distorted after the manner of popular reports. And the crowd were ready to be suspicious of all Eastern foreigners. The settlers in the colony of Philippi belonged to the rural population of Italy, who, after the manner of countrified folk of every generation, were a good way behind, for good or ill, their city brethren. The excavations made at Philippi have brought to light the fact that the colonists there were worshippers of the primitive Italian rustic gods, specially of the god Silvanus, eschewing the fashionable Greek deities, Jupiter, Juno, Venus, Diana, Apollo, and such like. A temple of Silvanus was erected at Philippi for the hardy Italian veterans, and numerous inscriptions have been found and have been duly described by the French Mission in Macedonia to which we have already referred, telling of the building of the temple and of the persons who contributed towards it.151151   See Leon Heuzey's Mission Archéologique de Macédoine, p. 71 (Paris, 1864-76). One tablet found furnishes a list of benefactions. One man gives a bronze statue of the deity, another helps to roof the building. Another tablet gives a list of the officials of the temple worship. Curiously enough among these officials occur names well known to us from St. Paul's Epistles, as Crescens, Secundus, Trophimus, Aristarchus, Pudens, Urbanus, and Clemens: cf. the Philippian inscriptions in the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, vol. iii., par. i., pp. 120-28. Among these rude Italian veterans, unspoilt by the glitter and vices of Greek idolatry and civilisation, the Cross may have found out many true soldiers of Jesus Christ: see Lewin's St. Paul, vol. i., p. 210. It is interesting to notice that a similar set of tablets commemorating the benefactors of the temple of Diana at Ephesus was discovered in the excavations made twenty years ago at that place. The inscriptions are translated in the Appendix to Wood's Ephesus. These simple Western soldiers were easily prejudiced against the Eastern strangers by reports spread concerning their doctrines, and specially282 concerning the Jewish King, of whose kingdom they were the heralds. Political considerations were at once raised. We can scarcely now realise the suspicions which must have been roused against the early preachers of Christianity by the very language they used. Their sacramental language concerning the body and blood of Christ, the language of Christian love and union which they used, designating themselves brethren and sisters, caused for more than two centuries the dissemination of the most frightful rumours concerning the horrible nature of Christian love-feasts. They were accused of cannibalism and of the most degraded and immoral practices; and when we take up the Apologists of the second century, Justin Martyr and such like, we shall find that the efforts of these men are largely directed to the refutation of such dreadful charges.152152   See, for instance, Justin Martyr's First Apology, ch. xxix., Second Apology, ch. xii., and Athenagoras' Apology, chs. xxxi.-xxxv. These passages will be found in Justin Martyr and Athenagoras as translated in T. & T. Clark's Ante-Nicene Series, pp. 32, 81, 415-19. And as it was in morals so was it too in politics. The sacred and religious language of the Christians caused them to be suspected of designs hostile to the Roman Government. The apostles preached about a King who ruled the kingdom of God. Now the Romans abhorred the very name and title of king, which they associated with the cruel acts of the early tyrants who reigned in the times of Rome's fabulous antiquity. The hostility to the title was so great that, though the Roman people endured a despotism much worse and crushing at the hands of the Cæsars, they never would allow them to assume the title of kings, but simply called them emperors, imperators or commanders of the army, a name which283 to their ears connoted nothing savouring of the kingly office, though for moderns the title of emperor expresses the kingly office and much more. The colonists in Philippi, being Italians, would feel these prejudices in their full force. Easterns indeed would have had no objection to the title of king, as we see from the cry raised by the mob of Jerusalem when they cried in reference to Christ's claim, "We have no king but Cæsar." But the rough and rude Roman veterans, when they heard vague reports of St. Paul's teaching to the Jews who met at the oratory by the river-side, quite naturally mistook the nature of his doctrine, and thought that he was simply a political agitator organising a revolt against imperial authority.153153   This political prejudice against Christianity lasted into the second century: see the First Apology of Justin Martyr, ch. xi.: "When you hear that we look for a kingdom, you suppose, without making any inquiry, that we speak of a human kingdom; whereas we speak of that which is with God, as appears also from the confession of their faith made by those who are charged with being Christians, though they know that death is the punishment awarded to him who so confesses"; words which imply that in Justin's day many had been martyred on mere political accusations. An incident which then occurred fanned the slumbering embers into a flame. There was a female slave the property of some crafty men who by her means traded on the simplicity of the colonists. She was possessed with a spirit of divination. What the nature of this spirit was we have not the means of now determining. Some would resolve it into mere epilepsy, but such an explanation is not consistent with St. Paul's action and words. He addressed the spirit, "I charge thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And the spirit, we are told, came out that very hour. The simple fact is that psychology is at the best a very obscure science,284 and the mysteries of the soul a very puzzling region, even under the Christian Dispensation and surrounded by the spiritual blessings of the kingdom of God. But paganism was the kingdom of Satan, where he ruled with a power and freedom he no longer enjoys, and we can form no conception of the frightful disturbances Satanic agency may have raised amid the dark places of the human spirit. Without attempting explanations therefore, which must be insufficient, I am content to accept the statement of the sacred writer, who was an eye-witness of the cure, that the spirit of divination, the spirit of Python, as the original puts it, yielded obedience to the invocation of the sacred Name which is above every name, leaving the damsel's inner nature once more calm and at union within itself. This was the signal for a riot. The slave owners recognised that their hopes of gain had fled. They were not willing to confess that these despised Jews possessed a power transcending far that which dwelt in the human instrument who had served their covetous purposes. They may have heard, it may be, of the tumults excited about this same time by the Jews at Rome and of their expulsion from the capital by the decree of the Emperor, so the owners of the slave-girl and the mob of the city dragged the Apostles before the local Duumvirs and accused them of like disturbances: "These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, and set forth customs which it is not lawful for us to receive or to observe, being Romans." The accusation was sufficient. No proof was demanded, no time for protest allowed. The magistrates with their own hands dragged the clothes off the backs of the Apostles, and they were flogged at once by the lictors or sergeants, as our translation calls them, in attendance upon the Duumvirs,285 who then despatched their victims to the common prison. Here a question may be raised, Why did not St. Paul save himself by protesting that he was a Roman citizen, as he did subsequently at Jerusalem when he was about to be similarly treated? Several explanations occur. The colonists were Italians and spoke Latin. St. Paul spoke Hebrew and Greek, and though he may have known Latin too, his Latin may not have been understood by these rough Roman soldiers. The mob again was excited, and when a mob gets excited it is but very little its members attend to an unfortunate prisoner's words. We know too, not only from St. Paul's own words, but from the testimony of Cicero himself, in his celebrated oration against Verres, that in remote districts this claim was often disregarded, even when urged by Italians, and much more when made by despised Jews. St. Paul tells us in 2 Cor. xi. 25, that he received three Roman floggings notwithstanding his Roman citizenship, and though the Philippian magistrates were afraid when they heard next day of the illegal violence of which they had been guilty, the mob, who could not be held accountable, probably took right good care that St. Paul's protest never reached the official ears to which it was addressed. These considerations sufficiently account for the omission of any notice of a protest on the Apostle's part. He simply had not the opportunity, and then when the tumultuous scene was over Paul and Silas were hurried off to the common dungeon, where they were secured in the stocks and thrust into the innermost prison as notorious and scandalous offenders.

No ill-treatment could, however, destroy that secret source of joy and peace which St. Paul possessed in his loved Master's conscious presence. "I take pleasure286 in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake," is his own triumphant expression when looking back a few years later over the way by which the Lord had led him, and therefore at midnight the astonished prisoners heard the inner dungeon ringing with unwonted songs of praise raised by the Jewish strangers. An earthquake, too, lent its terrors to the strange scene, shaking the prison to its foundations and loosing the staples to which the prisoners' chains were fastened. The jailor, roused from sleep, and seeing the prison doors opened wide, would have committed suicide were it not for Paul's restraining and authoritative voice; and then the astonished official, who must have heard the strange rumours to which the words of the demoniac alluded—"These men are the servants of the Most High God, which proclaim unto you the way of salvation"—rushed into the presence of the Apostles crying out in words which have ever since been famous, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" to which the equally famous answer was given, "Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house." The jailor then took the Apostles, bathed their bruised bodies, set food before them, gathered his household to listen to the glad tidings, which they received so rapidly and grasped so thoroughly that they were at once baptized and enabled to rejoice with that deep spiritual joy which an experimental knowledge of God always confers. The jailor, feeling for the first time in his life the peace which passeth all understanding, realised the truth which St. Augustine afterwards embodied in the immortal words: "Thou, O God, hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee."154154   Augustine's Confessions, i. 1.


Let us look for a little at the question of the jailor and the answer of the Apostle. They are words very often used, and very often misused. The jailor, when he rushed into St. Paul's presence crying out "What must I do to be saved?" was certainly not the type of a conscience-stricken sinner, convinced of his own sin and spiritual danger, as men sometimes regard him. He was simply in a state of fright and astonishment. He had heard that these Jewish prisoners committed to him were preaching about some salvation which they had to offer. The earthquake seemed to him the expression of some deity's wrath at their harsh treatment, and so in his terror he desires to know what he must do to be saved from this wrath. His words were notable, but they were not Christian words, for he had yet much to learn of the nature of sin and the nature of the salvation from it which the Apostles were preaching. The Philippian jailor was a specimen of those who are saved violently and by fear. Terror forced him into communion with the Apostles, broke down the barriers which hindered the approach of the Word, and then the power of the Holy Ghost, working through St. Paul, effected the remainder, opening his eyes to the true character of salvation and his own profound need of it. St. Paul's words have been misunderstood. I have heard them addressed to a Christian congregation and explained as meaning that the jailor had nothing to do but just realise Christ Jesus as his Saviour, whereupon he was perfect and complete so far as the spiritual life was concerned; and then they were applied to the congregation present as teaching that, as it was with the jailor, so was it with all Christians; they have simply to believe as he did, and then they have nothing more to do,—a kind of teaching which infallibly produces288 antinomian results.155155   See more on this point in vol. i., pp. 134-37, where I have given conclusive proofs of the misuse of this text from the writers of the seventeenth century. Such an explanation ignores the fact that there is a great difference between the jailor, who was not a Christian in any sense and knew nothing about Christ when he flung himself at St. Paul's feet, and a Christian congregation, who know about Christ and believe in Him. But this explanation is still more erroneous. It misrepresents what St. Paul meant and what his hearers understood him to mean. What did any ordinary Jew or any ordinary pagan with whom St. Paul came in contact understand him to mean when he said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved"? They first had to ask him who Jesus Christ was, whence He had come, what He had taught, what were the obligations of His religion. St. Paul had to open out to them the nature of sin and salvation, and to explain the obligation and blessing of the sacrament of baptism as well as the necessity of bodily holiness and purity. The initial sacrament of baptism must have held a foremost place in that midnight colloquy or conference concerning Christian truth. St. Paul was not the man to perform a rite of which his converts understood nothing, and to which they could attach no meaning. "Believe on the Lord Jesus" involved repentance and contrition and submission to Christian truth, and these things involved the exposition of Christian truth, history, doctrines, and duties.

This text, "Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved," is often quoted in one-sided and narrow teaching to show that man has nothing to do to be saved. Of course in one sense this is perfectly289 true. We can do nothing meritoriously towards salvation; from first to last our salvation is all of God's free grace; but then, viewing the matter from the human side, we have much to do to be saved. We have to repent, to seek God for ourselves, to realise Christ and His laws in our life, to seek after that holiness without which no man shall see the Lord. There were two different types of men who at different times addressed practically the same inquiry to the Apostles. They were both outside the Church, and they were both seekers blindly after God. The Jews on the day of Pentecost said, "Brethren, what shall we do?" and Peter replied, "Repent ye, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, unto the remission of your sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Such was apostolic teaching to the Jews of Jerusalem. The jailer demanded, "What must I do to be saved?" and St. Paul replied, "Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved." Such was apostolic teaching to an ignorant pagan at Philippi; more concise than the Jerusalem answer, but meaning the same thing, and involving precisely the same doctrines in the hands of such a great master of the spiritual life as was the Apostle of the Gentiles.156156   Mr. Sadler, in his Commentary on the Acts, treating of this passage has a long explanation identical in meaning with that which we have above urged. He says, for instance, p. 314: "This statement of the way of salvation is one of the most important in the New Testament. It contains the seed of the whole body of apostolic doctrine respecting salvation by Christ. When I say apostolic, I mean the doctrine of SS. Peter and John, as well as of St. Paul; for all being full of the Holy Ghost preached the same. Few places have been more perverted in order to uphold a heresy which, if St. Paul had been alive now, he would have abhorred, and denounced as fatal to the whole revelation of the Son of God, and that is antinomianism.... The Philippian jailor to whom the words were first addressed had never in all probability heard the name of Jesus Christ before.... 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ' then meant to him, 'Believe on Him whom we are now about to set forth to thee.' And they there and then began to set Him forth, for they spake unto him 'the word of the Lord.'... This Word must have shown him how—on what principle—he could exercise faith in Him so as to be saved. But did they call on him in his then state to believe anything respecting the Church and the sacraments of Christ? Unquestionably; for St. Paul would certainly not baptize a man who was totally ignorant of the grace of union with Christ which he would receive, and the obligations to serve Christ which he would come under, by being baptized."


The remainder of the story is soon told. When the morning came there came quiet reflection with it as far as the magistrates were concerned. They became conscious of their illegal conduct, and they sent their lictors to order the release of the Apostles. St. Paul now stood upon his rights. His protest had been disregarded by the mob. He now claimed his rights as a Roman citizen. "They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned men, that are Romans, and have cast us into prison; and do they now cast us out privily? Nay, verily; but let them come themselves and bring us out." These are St. Paul's words, and they are brave, and at the same time wise words. They were brave words because it took a strong man to send back such an answer to magistrates who had treated him so outrageously only the day before. They were wise words, for they give us an apostle's interpretation of our Lord's language in the Sermon upon the Mount concerning the non-resistance of evil, and show us that in St. Paul's estimation Christ's law did not bind a man to tolerate foul injustice. Such toleration, in fact, is very wrong if it can be helped; because it is simply an encouragement to the wicked doers to treat others in the same scandalous manner. Toleration of outrage and injustice is291 unfair and uncharitable towards others, if they can be lawfully redressed or at least apologised for. It is a Christian man's duty to bring public evil-doers and tyrants, instruments of unrighteousness like these Duumvirs of Philippi, to their senses, not for his own sake, but in order that he may prevent the exercise of similar cruelties against the weaker brethren. We may be sure that the spirited action of St. Paul, compelling these provincial magnates to humble themselves before the despised strangers, must have had a very wholesome effect in restraining them from similar violence during the rest of their term of office.

Such was St. Paul's stay at Philippi. It lasted a considerable time, and made its mark, as a flourishing Church was established there, to which he addressed an Epistle when he lay the first time a captive at Rome. This Epistle naturally forms a most interesting commentary on the notices of the Philippian visit in the Acts of the Apostles, a point which is worked out at large in Bishop Lightfoot's Commentary on Philippians and in Paley's Horæ Paulinæ. The careful student of Holy Writ will find that St. Paul's letter and St. Luke's narrative when compared illuminate one another in a wondrous manner. We cannot afford space to draw out this comparison in detail, and it is the less necessary to do so as Dr. Lightfoot's writings are so generally accessible. Let us, however, notice one point in this Epistle to the Philippians, which was written about the same time (a few months previously, in fact) as the Acts of the Apostles. It corroborates the Acts as to the circumstances under which the Church of Philippi was founded. St. Paul in the Epistle refers again and again to the persecutions and afflictions of the Philippian Church, and implies that he was a fellow-sufferer292 with them.157157   Bishop Lightfoot (Philippians, p. 57) says: "St. Paul's first visit to Philippi closed abruptly amid the storm of persecution. It was not to be expected that where the life of the teacher had been so seriously endangered, the scholars would escape all penalties. The Apostle left behind him a legacy of suffering to this newly born Church. This is not a mere conjecture; the affliction of the Macedonian Christians, and of the Philippians especially, are more than once mentioned in St. Paul's Epistles (cf. 1 Thess. ii. 2). If it was their privilege to believe in Christ, it was equally their privilege to suffer for Him." St. Paul dwells on this in the beginning of the Epistle in words whose force cannot be understood unless we grasp this fact. In the sixth verse of the first chapter he expresses himself as, "Confident of this very thing, that He which began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ: even as it is right for me to be thus minded on behalf of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as, both in my bonds and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers with me of grace." St. Paul speaks of the Philippians as personally acquainted with chains and sufferings and prison-houses for Christ's sake, and regards these things as a proof of God's grace vouchsafed not only to the Apostle, but also to the Philippians; for St. Paul was living at that high level when he could view bonds and trials and persecutions as marks of the Divine love. In the twenty-eighth verse of the same chapter he exhorts them to be in no wise "affrighted by the adversaries," and in the next two describes them as persons to whom "it hath been granted in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer in His behalf: having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me," words which can only refer to the violence and afflictions which they witnessed as practised against himself, and which they293 were now themselves suffering in turn. While to complete St. Paul's references we notice that in an Epistle written some five years later than his first visit to Philippi he expressly refers to the persecutions which the Philippian Church in common with all the Macedonian Churches seems to have suffered from the very beginning. In 2 Cor. viii. 1, 2, he writes: "Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God which hath been given in the Churches of Macedonia; how that in much proof of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality." Now all these passages put together confirm for us what the Acts expressly affirms, that from the very outset of their Christian career the Philippian Church had endured the greatest trials, and experienced a fellowship in the Apostle's sufferings. And surely we may see in the character of the Philippian Epistle something eminently characteristic of this experience! It has been remarked that the Philippian Epistle is the only Epistle addressed to a Church in which there is no trace of blame or reproof. Temptation and trial and chastisement had there worked their appointed purpose. The Philippian Church had been baptized in blood, and grounded in afflictions, and purified by the cleansing fires of persecution, and consequently the tried Church gathered itself closer to its Divine Lord, and was perfected above all others in His likeness, and profited above all others in the Divine life.158158   Bishop Lightfoot, in his Commentary on Philippians, l.c., dwells on this point: "The unwavering loyalty of his Philippian converts is the constant solace of the Apostle in his manifold trails, the one bright ray of happiness piercing the dark clouds which gather ever thicker about the evening of his life. They are his 'joy and crown, his brethren beloved and eagerly desired.' From them alone he consents to receive alms for the relief of his personal wants. To them alone he writes in language unclouded by any shadow of displeasure or disappointment."

After the terrible experience of Philippi Paul and294 Silas passed on to other towns of the same province of Macedonia. The Apostle, however, when quitting Philippi to do the same evangelistic work, breaking up the ground in other towns after the manner of a pioneer, did not leave the Church of Philippi devoid of wisest pastoral care. It is most likely, as Dr. Lightfoot points out in the Introduction to his Commentary on Philippians, that St. Luke was left behind to consolidate the work which had been thus begun by such a noble company. Then Paul and Silas and Timotheus proceeded to Thessalonica, one hundred miles west, the capital of the province, where the proconsul resided, and where was a considerable Jewish population, as we see, not only from the fact that a synagogue is expressly said to have existed there, but also because the Jews were able to excite the city pagan mob against the Apostles and drag them before the local magistrates.159159   Thessalonica is to this day the abode of a large Jewish population. Tozer, in his Highlands of Turkey, vol. i., p. 146, says: "Of the sixty thousand inhabitants of Salonica two-thirds are Jews, the rest being Turks and Greeks.... From early times the Hebrew race seem to have been attracted by the commercial advantages of Salonica. Thus when St. Paul preached there he found a considerable Jewish community.... A large number of the Salonica Jews are rich merchants, and a great part of the wealth of the place is in their hands." Mr. Lewin, in his St. Paul, vol. i., p. 222, gives a table of the distances all along St. Paul's route. St. Paul at Philippi had for the first time experienced a purely pagan persecution. He had indeed previously suffered at the hands of the heathen at Lystra, but they were urged on by the Jews. At Philippi he gained295 his first glimpse of that long vista of purely Gentile persecution through which the Church had to pass till Christianity seated itself in the person of Constantine on the throne of the Cæsars. But as soon as he got to Thessalonica he again experienced the undying hostility of his Jewish fellow-countrymen using for their wicked purposes the baser portion of the city rabble.160160   Mr. Findlay, in a little work lately published, The Epistles of Paul the Apostle, has many valuable observations on the subject of the Jewish opposition experienced by the Apostle at Thessalonica. St. Paul remained three weeks in Thessalonica teaching privately and publicly the gospel message, without experiencing any Jewish opposition. It is an interesting fact that to this day St. Paul's visit to Thessalonica is remembered, and in one of the local mosques, which was formerly the Church of Sancta Sophia, a marble pulpit is shown, said to have been the very one occupied by the Apostle, while in the surrounding plains trees and groves are pointed out as marking spots where he tarried for a time. The Jews were at last, however, roused to opposition, possibly because of St. Paul's success among the Gentiles, who received his doctrines with such avidity that there believed "of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few." In Thessalonica, as elsewhere, the spirit of religious selfishness, desiring to have gospel promises and a Messiah all to themselves, was the ruin of the Jewish people. The Jews therefore, assisted by the pagans, assaulted the residence of Jason, with whom St. Paul and his friends were staying. They missed the Apostles themselves, but they seized Jason and some of the apostolic band, or at least some of their converts whom they found in Jason's house, and brought them before the town magistrates, who, acting296 under the eye of the resident proconsul, did not lend themselves to any irregular proceedings like the Philippian prætors. A charge of treason was formally brought against the prisoners: "These all act contrary to the decrees of Cæsar, saying that there is another King, one Jesus"; in the words of which charge we get a glimpse of the leading topic on which the Apostles insisted. Jesus Christ, the crucified, risen, glorified King and Head of His people, was the great subject of St. Paul's teaching as it struck the heathen. The Thessalonian magistrates acted very fairly. They entered the charge which was a serious one in the eye of Roman law. Bail was then taken for the accused and they were set free. The Apostles, however, escaped arrest, and the local brethren determined that they should incur no danger; so while the accused remained to stand their trial, Paul and Silas and Timotheus were despatched to Berœa, where they were for a time welcomed, and free discussion permitted in the synagogue concerning the truths taught by the Evangelists. After a time, however, tidings having reached Thessalonica, agents were despatched to Berœa, who stirring up the Jewish residents, St. Paul was despatched in charge of some trusty messengers who guided the steps of the hunted servant of God to the city of Athens. We see the physical infirmities of St. Paul, the difficulties he had to contend with, hinted at in the fourteenth and fifteenth verses of the seventeenth chapter. "Then immediately the brethren sent forth Paul," and "They that conducted Paul brought him to Athens," words which give us a glimpse of his fearfully defective eyesight. His enemies might be pressing upon him and danger might be imminent, but he could make no unaided effort to save himself. He depended upon the297 kindly help of others that he might escape his untiring foes and find his way to a place of safety.

Thus ended St. Paul's first visit to Thessalonica so far as the Acts of the Apostles is concerned; but we have interesting light thrown upon it from an Epistle which St. Paul himself wrote to the Thessalonians soon after his departure from amongst them. A comparison of First Thessalonians with the text of the Acts will furnish the careful student with much information concerning the circumstances of that notable visit, just as we have seen that the text of the Philippian Epistle throws light upon his doings at Philippi. The Thessalonian Epistles are more helpful even than the Philippians in this respect, because they were written only a few months after St. Paul's visit to Thessalonica, while years elapsed, eight or ten at least, before the Philippian Epistle was indited. First Thessalonians shows us, for instance, that St. Paul's visit to Thessalonica lasted a considerable time. In the Acts we read of his discussing in the synagogue three Sabbath days, and then it would appear as if the riot was raised which drove him to Berœa and Athens. The impression left on our minds by St. Luke's narrative is that St. Paul's labours were almost entirely concentrated upon the Jews in Thessalonica, and that he bestowed very little attention indeed upon the pagans. The Epistle corrects this impression. When we read the first chapter of First Thessalonians we see that it was almost altogether a church of converted idolaters, not of converted Jews. St. Paul speaks of the Thessalonians as having turned from idols to serve the living God; he refers to the instructions on various points like the resurrection, the ascension, the second coming of Christ, which298 he had imparted, and describes their faith and works as celebrated throughout all Macedonia and Achaia. A large and flourishing church like that, composed of former pagans, could not have been founded in the course of three weeks, during which time St. Paul's attention was principally bestowed on the Jewish residents. Then too, when we turn to Philippians iv. 16, we find that St. Paul stayed long enough in Thessalonica to receive no less than two remittances of money from the brethren at Philippi to sustain himself and his brethren. His whole attention too was not bestowed upon mission work; he spent his days and nights in manual labour. In the ninth verse of the second chapter of First Thessalonians he reminds them of the fact that he supported himself in their city, "For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: working night and day, that we might not burden any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God." When we realise these things we shall feel that the Apostle must have spent at least a couple of months in Thessalonica. It was perhaps his tremendous success among the heathen which so stirred up the passions of the town mob as enabled the Jews to instigate them to raise the riot, they themselves keeping all the while in the background. St. Paul, in First Thessalonians, describes the riots raised against the Christians as being the immediate work of the pagans: "Ye, brethren, became imitators of the Churches of God which are in Judæa in Christ Jesus. For ye also suffered the same things of your own countrymen as they did of the Jews"; a statement which is quite consistent with the theory that the persecution was originally inspired by the Jews. But we cannot further pursue this interesting line of inquiry299 which has been thoroughly worked out by Mr. Lewin in vol. ii., ch. xi., by Conybeare and Howson in ch. ix., and by Archdeacon Farrar, as well as by Dr. Salmon in his Introduction to the New Testament, ch. xx. The careful student will find in all these works most interesting light reflected back upon the Acts from the apostolic letters, and will see how thoroughly the Epistles, which were much the earlier documents, confirm the independent account of St. Luke, writing at a subsequent period.

Before we terminate this chapter we desire to call attention to one other point where the investigations of modern travel have helped to illustrate the genuineness of the Acts of the Apostles. It has been the contention of the rationalistic party that the Acts was a composition of the second century, worked up by a clever forger out of the materials at his command. There are various lines of proof by which this theory can be refuted, but none appeal so forcibly to ordinary men as the minute accuracy which marks it when describing the towns of Asia Minor and Macedonia. Macedonia is a notable case. We have already pointed out how the Acts give their proper title to the magistrates of Philippi and recognise its peculiar constitution as a colony. Thessalonica forms an interesting contrast to Philippi. Thessalonica was a free city, like Antioch in Syria, Tarsus, and Athens, and therefore, though the residence of the proconsul who ruled the province of Macedonia, was governed by its own ancient magistrates and its own ancient laws, without any interference on the part of the proconsul. St. Luke makes a marked distinction between Philippi and Thessalonica. At Philippi the Apostles were brought before the prætors, at Thessalonica they were brought300 before the politarchs,161161   This case of Thessalonica is an interesting illustration of Bishop Lightfoot's statement:—"The government of the Roman provinces at this time was peculiarly dangerous ground for the romance-writer to venture upon" (Essays on Supernatural Religion, p. 291). If the Roman provinces were a dangerous ground for a romance-writer, such as some critics would make the author of the Acts, the government of the large Græco-Roman towns and cities was still more dangerous, as scarcely any two successive ones were alike. Thessalonica is a good instance of this. St. Luke calls the magistrates politarchs, and the triumphal arch at Thessalonica calls them politarchs; a title which seems to have been a very rare one, as only one other instance of its occurrence has been discovered. Monastir, in the north-west of Macedonia, is an important town, and there an inscription belonging to the ancient Deuriopus, twelve miles distant, was found more than twenty years ago containing the same title, politarchs. Surely the stones out of the walls of Thessalonica and of Monastir cry out in defence of St. Luke's accuracy! See Mr. Tozer's Highlands of Turkey, vol. i., p. 145, and vol. ii., p. 358, Append. B; Bœckh's Corp. Ins. Græc., No. 1967; articles by the Abbé Belley in the Acad. des Inscript., xxxviii., p. 125, and by Mr. Vaux in the Trans. of Roy. Soc. of Literature, vol. viii., new series. a title strange to classical antiquity, but which has been found upon a triumphal arch which existed till a few years ago across the main street of the modern city of Thessalonica. That arch has now disappeared; but the fragments containing the inscription were fortunately preserved and have been now placed in the British Museum, where they form a precious relic proving the genuineness of the sacred narrative.

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