Acts 16:22
And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.
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(22) Commanded to beat them.—The Greek verb gives the special Roman form of punishment, that of being beaten with the rods of the lictors. This, therefore, takes its place as one of the three instances to which St. Paul refers in 2Corinthians 11:25. The question naturally occurs, why he did not, on these occasions, claim, as he did afterwards at Jerusalem (Acts 22:25), the privileges of a Roman citizen. Some have supposed that the violence of the mob rendered it impossible for his claim to be heard. Others have even questioned the truthfulness of his claim. A more natural supposition is that he would not assert in this instance a right which would only have secured exemption for himself, and left his companion to suffer the ignominious penalty of the law, and that by putting the strategi in the wrong, he sought to secure for his disciples afterwards a more tolerant treatment. As far as the first part of this hypothesis is concerned, it may, perhaps, be accepted (see, however, Note on Acts 16:37); but such of the Philippian disciples as belonged to the colonia, were already protected from outrages of this kind as Roman citizens. Others, however, of the freed-men class, were still liable to them.

Acts 16:22-24. And the multitude rose up against them — Excited and inflamed by these accusations; and the magistrates — Or the pretors; rent off their clothes — That is, the clothes of Paul and Silas; for such was the Roman method of proceeding in such cases. Their magistrates were wont to command the lictors to rend open the clothes of the criminals, and to beat their bodies with rods; as Grotius here observes. And when they had laid many stripes upon them — Had severely scourged them; (either they did not immediately say they were Romans, or in the tumult it was not regarded;) they cast them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely — Lest, among their numerous friends, a rescue should be attempted; who, having received such a charge — A charge so strict, and from persons of such great rank; thrust them into the inner prison — Where he thought them perfectly secure; especially as he also made their feet fast in the stocks — These were probably those large pieces of wood, in use among the Romans, which not only loaded the legs of the prisoner, but kept them extended in a very painful manner. So that it is highly probable the situation of Paul and Silas here was much more painful than that of an offender sitting in the stocks among us, especially if they lay, as it is very possible they did, with their backs, so lately scourged, on the damp and dirty ground. These multiplied injuries, however, these servants of God, conscious of their integrity, and enjoying a sense of the divine favour, bore not only with entire resignation, but with great joy.

16:16-24 Satan, though the father of lies, will declare the most important truths, when he can thereby serve his purposes. But much mischief is done to the real servants of Christ, by unholy and false preachers of the gospel, who are confounded with them by careless observers. Those who do good by drawing men from sin, may expect to be reviled as troublers of the city. While they teach men to fear God, to believe in Christ, to forsake sin, and to live godly lives, they will be accused of teaching bad customs.And the multitude ... - It is evident that this was done in a popular tumult, and without even the form of law. Of this Paul afterward justly complained, as it was a violation of the privileges of a Roman citizen, and contrary to the laws. See the notes on Acts 16:37. It was one instance in which people affect great zeal for the honor of the Law, and yet are among the first to disregard it.

And the magistrates - Acts 16:20. They who should have been their protectors until they had had a fair trial according to law.

Rent off their clothes - This was always done when one was to be scourged or whipped. The criminal was usually stripped entirely naked. Livy says (ii. 5), "The lictors, being sent to inflict punishment, beat them with rods, being naked." Cicero, against Verres, says, "He commanded the man to be seized, and to be stripped naked in the midst of the forum, and to be bound, and rods to be brought."

And commanded to beat them - ῥαβδίζειν rabdizein. To beat them with rods. This was done by lictors, whose office it was, and was a common mode of punishment among the Romans. Probably Paul alludes to this as one of the instances which occurred in his life of his being publicly scourged, when he says 2 Corinthians 11:25, "Thrice was I beaten with rods."

22. the multitude rose up together against them—so Ac 19:28, 34; 21:30; Lu 23:18.

the magistrates rent off their—Paul's and Silas'

clothes—that is, ordered the lictors, or rod-bearers, to tear them off, so as to expose their naked bodies (see on [2035]Ac 16:37). The word expresses the roughness with which this was done to prisoners preparatory to whipping.

and commanded to beat them—without any trial (Ac 16:37), to appease the popular rage. Thrice, it seems, Paul endured this indignity (2Co 11:25).

The multitude; generality and unanimity alone cannot authorize opinions or practices.

Rent off their clothes; Paul’s and Silas’s clothes, to disgrace them the more, or in order unto their being scourged; though some think that the magistrates rent their own clolhes, in detestation of the pretended blasphemy which was laid to Paul’s charge, as the high priest did, Mark 14:63.

And the multitude rose up together against them,.... The crowd of people that were gathered together in the court on this occasion; being no doubt spirited up by the proprietors of the maid, out of whom the spirit of divination was cast, and encouraged by the rulers, and being provoked at the hearing of unlawful customs being introduced among them;

and the magistrates rent off their clothes; not their own clothes, as did the high priest, Mark 14:63 but the clothes of Paul and Silas; and so reads the Arabic version, "and the rulers rent the garments of both of them"; which removes the ambiguity in the words; for at the whipping or beating of malefactors, they did not pluck off their garments, but rent and tore them off, and so whipped or beat them naked: this was the custom with the Jews (m); it is asked,

"how did they whip anyone? his hands are bound to a pillar here and there, and the minister of the synagogue (or the executioner) takes hold of his clothes; and if they are rent, they are rent, and if they are ripped, they are ripped, (be it as it will,) until he has made his breast bare, &c.''

And in like manner the Lectors, or executioners among the Romans, used to tear the garments of malefactors, when they beat them; this the magistrates themselves did here, unless they may be said to do it, because they ordered it to be done, as follows:

and commanded to beat them; that is, with rods: this was one of the three times the apostle was beat in this manner, 2 Corinthians 11:25 and of this shameful treatment at Philippi, he makes mention in 1 Thessalonians 2:2.

(m) Misn. Maccot, c. 3. sect. 12. & Maimon. Hilchot Sanhedrin c. 16. sect. 8.

{14} And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.

(14) An example of evil magistrates, to obey the fury and rage of the people.

Acts 16:22-23. And at the same time (“cum ancillae dominis,” Bengel) the multitude rose up (in a tumultuary manner) against them; therefore the praetors, intimidated thereby, in order temporarily to still the urgency of the mob, commanded the accused to be scourged without examination, and then, until further orders, to be thrown into strict confinement.

περιῤῥήξ. αὐτῶν τὰ ἱμάτια] after having torn off their clothes. The form of expression of Acts 16:23 shows that the praetors did not themselves (in opposition to Bengel) do this piece of work, which was necessary and customary for laying bare the upper part of the body (Grotius and Wolf in loc.), but caused it to be done by their subordinate lictors. Erasmus erroneously desired to read αὑτῶν, so that the praetors would have rent their own clothes from indignation. Apart from the non-Roman character of such a custom, there may be urged against this view the compound περιῤῥ., which denotes that the rending took place all round about the whole body (Plat. Crit. p. 113 D: περιῤῥήγνυσι κύκλῳ, Polyb. xv. 33, 4, al.; comp. Tittmann, Synon. p. 221).

ἐκέλευον] The reference of the relative tense is to the personal presence of the narrator; see Winer, p. 253 [E. T. 337].

Paul and Silas submitted to this maltreatment (one of the three mentioned in 2 Corinthians 11:25) with silent self-denial, and without appealing to their Roman citizenship, committing everything to God; see on Acts 16:37. Men of strong character may, amidst unjust suffering, exhibit in presence of their oppressors their moral defiance, even in resignation. We make this remark in opposition to Zeller (comp. Baur), who finds the brutal conduct of the praetors, and the non-employment by the apostles of their legal privilege in self-defence (which Paul, moreover, renounced not merely on this occasion, 2 Corinthians 11:25), inexplicable. Bengel well remarks: “Non semper omnibus praesidiis omni modo utendum; divino regimini auscultandum.” In a similar plight, Acts 22:25, Paul found it befitting to interpose an assertion of his privilege, which he here only used for the completion of his victory over the persecution, Acts 16:37,—a result which, in Acts 22:25, according to the divine destination which he was aware of, he recognised as unattainable.

Acts 16:22. συνεπέστη: only here in N.T., cf. Acts 18:12, not in LXX, but cf. Numbers 16:3, used in classical Greek, but not in same sense. No reason is given, but the ὄχλος would have been easily swayed by hatred of the Jews, and further incensed perhaps at finding an end put to their love of the revelations of fortune-telling.—περιῤῥήξ. αὐτῶν τὰ ἱμάτια, i.e., they rent off the garments of Paul and Silas; just as there is no change of subject before ἐπιθ., so here probably what was done by the lictors is said to have been done by the magistrates. There is no need to suppose with Bengel that the prætors tore off the prisoners’ clothes with their own hands. Grotius (but see on the other hand Calvin’s note in loco) takes the words as meaning that the prætors rent off their own clothes (reading αὑτῶν); so Ramsay speaks of the prætors rending their garments in horror at the ἀσέβεια, the impiety. But not only would such an act be strange on the part of Roman magistrates, but also the verb seems to make against the interpretation; it means in classical and in later Greek to rend all round, tear off, cf. the numerous instances in Wetstein, and so it expresses the rough way in which the lictors tore off the garments of the prisoners. In 2Ma 4:38 the word is used of tearing off the garments of another, see Wendt’s (1888) note in loco.ῥαβδίζειν: to beat with rods: thrice St. Paul suffered this punishment, 2 Corinthians 11:25, grievous and degrading, of a Roman scourging, cf. his own words in 1 Thessalonians 2:2, ὑβρισθέντες ὡς οἴδατε ἐν Φιλίπποις. Nothing can be alleged against the truthfulness of the narrative on the ground that Paul as a Roman citizen could not have been thus maltreated. The whole proceeding was evidently tumultuary and hasty, and the magistrates acted with the high-handedness characteristic of the fussy provincial authorities; in such a scene St. Paul’s protest may well have been made, but would very easily be disregarded. The incident in Acts 22:25, which shows us how the Apostle barely escaped a similar punishment amidst the tumult and shouts of the mob in Jerusalem, and the instances quoted by Cicero, In Verr., v., 62, of a prisoner remorselessly scourged, while he cried “inter dolorem crepitumque plagarum” Civis Romanus sum, enables us to see how easily Paul and Silas (who probably enjoyed the Roman citizenship, cf. Acts 16:37) might have protested and yet have suffered.

22. the multitude rose up together] i.e. together with the aggrieved proprietors of the damsel.

the magistrates rent off their clothes] i.e. the clothes of Paul and Silas, as is clear from the Greek verb, but not so evident from the A.V. Better, “rent their clothes off them.” (So R. V. only changing clothes into garments.)

and commanded to beat them] The Greek signifies “to beat them with rods,” which was the office of the Roman lictor, who carried rods for the purpose when attending on the magistrates. The use of this special word is an indication that St Luke was aware of the particular kind of beating, and perhaps beheld the infliction. This is one of the occasions, no doubt, to which St Paul alludes (2 Corinthians 11:25), “Thrice was I beaten with rods.”

Acts 16:22. Συνεπέστη) ἐπέστη, the multitude rose up with (σὺν) the masters of the damsel.—περιῤῥήξαντες, having torn off) The magistrates themselves tore off the garments of Paul and Silas: for there follows after this word, and not till then, ἐκέλευον, commanded.—αὐτῶν, their) viz. of Paul and Silas.

Verse 22. - Rent their garments off them for rent off their clothes, A.V.; beat them with rods for beat them, A.V. Beat them; ῤαβδίζειν, marking that they were beaten by the lictors, or ῤαβδοῦχοι (see ver. 35). The phrase rent ... off (περιῥῤήξαντες) is only found here in the New Testament, but it is frequently used of stripping off garments, in classical Greek and in 2 Macc. 4:38; and by Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 6. 14:6) of David rending his garments - a circumstance not mentioned in the Bible narrative (1 Samuel 30:4). Acts 16:22Rent off their clothes (περιῤῥήξαντες)

Only here in New Testament. By the usual formula of command to the lictors: Go, lictors; strip off their garments; let them be scourged!

To beat (ῥαβδίζειν)

From ῥάβδος, a rod. Rev. properly adds, with rods.

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