Acts 16:35
And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go.
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeChrysostomClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBVWSWESTSK
(35) The magistrates sent the serjeants.—Literally, the rod-bearers, or lictors. They would probably be the very officers who had inflicted the stripes. We are not told what led to this sudden change of action. Possibly, as has been suggested, the earthquake had alarmed the strategi; more probably they felt that they had acted hastily in ordering the accused to be punished with no regular trial, and without even any inquiry as to their antecedents. They had an uneasy sense of having done wrong, and they wanted to wash their hands of the business as quietly as possible.

Acts 16:35-39. When it was day, the magistrates — Or pretors, being terrified, probably, by the earthquake, which had been felt all over the city, and having been informed of the miraculous opening of the prison-doors, which had changed their opinion of Paul and Silas; sent the sergeants Ραβδουχους, the rod-bearers, or lictors; saying — To the jailer; Let these men go — How different from the charge given a few hours before, and how great an ease to the mind of the jailer! And the keeper told this saying to Paul — Being glad that he might release them; adding, Now therefore depart, and go in peace — He does not say this as being desirous to be rid of them, but showing that they were at full liberty to go whenever they pleased, to preach the gospel and fulfil their ministry. But Paul said — Judging it proper to animadvert on the manner in which they had been used; They have beaten us openly, uncondemned, being Romans — Free citizens, as well as themselves; and now they thrust us out privily — Without making us any reparation for the injury they have done us. Nay, verily, but let them come themselves and fetch us out — And, by their dismissing us openly, let them show the people that they imprisoned us unjustly. Paul does not always plead this privilege of being a Roman; but in a country where they were entire strangers, such treatment, if suffered without animadversion, might have brought upon them a suspicion of their having been guilty of some uncommon crime; and so have hindered the success of the gospel. Now when the pretors heard that they were Romans, they were afraid of being called to an account for their conduct toward them, well knowing that even to have torn the garments of a citizen, and much more to have scourged him, especially thus publicly, and without hearing his defence, was a crime which might have exposed them to very high penalties, if the person injured had entered a complaint against them in the legal forms. They came — Therefore, in their own persons, to the prison where Paul and Silas were, and besought them — Not to resent the injury that had been done them, or, as the word παρεκαλεσαν, here rendered besought, is rendered in the next verse, they comforted them, namely, by acknowledging their innocence, and commending the patience and fortitude with which they had borne the punishment so rashly inflicted upon them, as well as by other kind and conciliating speeches. And brought them out — With the most respectful treatment; and desired them to depart out of the city — With all convenient speed, to prevent any of those popular tumults which might be the consequence of their longer abode in it.

16:35-40 Paul, though willing to suffer for the cause of Christ, and without any desire to avenge himself, did not choose to depart under the charge of having deserved wrongful punishment, and therefore required to be dismissed in an honourable manner. It was not a mere point of honour that the apostle stood upon, but justice, and not to himself so much as to his cause. And when proper apology is made, Christians should never express personal anger, nor insist too strictly upon personal amends. The Lord will make them more than conquerors in every conflict; instead of being cast down by their sufferings, they will become comforters of their brethren.And when it was day ... - It is evident from the narrative that it was not contemplated at first to release them so soon, Acts 16:22-24. But it is not known what produced this change of purpose in the magistrates. It is probable, however, that they had been brought to reflection, somewhat as the jailor had, by the earthquake, and that their consciences had been troubled by the fact, that in order to please the multitude, they had caused strangers to be beaten and imprisoned without trial and contrary to the Roman laws. An earthquake is always suited to alarm the guilty; and among the Romans it was regarded as an omen of the anger of the gods, and was therefore adapted to produce agitation and remorse. The agitation and alarm of the magistrates were shown by the fact that they sent the officers as soon as it was day. The judgments of God are eminently suited to alarm sinners. Two ancient mss. read this, "The magistrates who were alarmed by the earthquake, sent, etc." (Doddridge). Whether this reading be genuine or not, it doubtless expresses the true cause of their sending to release the apostles.

The serjeants - ῥαβδούχους rabdouchous. Literally, those having rods; the lictors. These were public officers who walked before magistrates with the emblems of authority. In Rome they bore before the senators the fasces; that is, a bundle of rods with an axe in its center, as a symbol of office. They performed somewhat the same office as a beadle in England, or as a constable in our courts (America).

35, 36. when it was day, the magistrates sent the sergeants, saying, Let those men go—The cause of this change can only be conjectured. When the commotion ceased, reflection would soon convince them of the injustice they had done, even supposing the prisoners had been entitled to no special privileges; and if rumor reached them that the prisoners were somehow under supernatural protection, they might be the more awed into a desire to get rid of them. The serjeants; their messengers, or officers, which did carry a mace, or a rod, from whence they had their name.

Saying, Let those men go; probably being terrified with the earthquake, which if it had not been general, they could not yet have heard of. Their consciences might also accuse them for having unjustly punished them for a good deed which they had done, only to gratify the rage of the multitude; as also because they had acted against the custom of the Romans, (though they did not yet know that they had the privilege of Roman citizens), and had beaten strangers without any legal trial, or form of law.

And when it was day,.... In one copy Beza says, these words are added,

"the magistrates came together in one place in the court, and remembering the earthquake that was made, they were afraid, and sent the sergeants;''

but they seem to be no other than a gloss, which crept into the text; however, it seems reasonable to suppose, that in the morning the magistrates met together, to consider what was further to be done with Paul and Silas; when upon cooler thoughts, they judged it best to be content with what punishment they had inflicted on them, and dismiss them; and if they had felt anything of the earthquake, or had heard of it in the prison, and of the converts that had been made there, they might be the more induced to let them go:

the magistrates sent the sergeants, saying, let these men go; the Arabic version reads, "these two men"; that is, Paul and Silas: who these sergeants were, is not very certain; they seem to be so called in the Greek language, from their carrying rods, or little staves in their hands, and were a sort of apparitors; by these the magistrates sent orders, either by word of mouth, or in writing, to the jailer, to let Paul and Silas out of prison, and set them at liberty, to go where they would; the same power that shook the foundations of the prison, and loosed the bands of the prisoners, wrought upon the hearts of the magistrates, to let the apostles go free.

{19} And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go.

(19) Shame and confusion is in due time the reward of wicked and unjust magistrates.

Acts 16:35-36. The news of the miraculous earthquake, perhaps also the particulars which they might in the meantime have learned concerning the two prisoners, may have made the praetors have scruples concerning the hasty maltreatment. They consider it advisable to have nothing further to do with them, and to get rid of them forthwith by releasing them. Curtly and contemptuously (τοὺς ἀνθρ. ἐκείνους), in order to maintain at least thereby their stern official attitude, they notified the order by their lictors (ῥαβδούχους, bearers of the fasces) to the jailor, who, with congratulatory sympathy, announces it to the prisoners. According to Baumgarten, the motives for the severity of the previous day had lost their force with the praetors during the night,—a point in which there is expressed a distinction from the persistent enmity of the Sanhedrists in Jerusalem. But this would not furnish an adequate ground for a proceeding running so entirely counter to the course of criminal procedure. The praetors must have become haunted by apprehension and ill at ease, and they must therefore have received some sort of information concerning the miraculous occurrences.

ἐν εἰρήνῃ] happily. See on Mark 5:34; comp. on Acts 15:33.

Acts 16:35. ἀπέσ. οἱ στρατηγοὶ: we are not told the reason of this sudden change in the action of the prætors, and no doubt the omission may fairly account for the reading in , see critical notes. At the same time it is quite characteristic of St. Luke to give the plain facts without entering upon explanations. Meyer thinks that they were influenced by the earthquake, while Wendt rather inclines to the view that they were incited to this action, so inconsistent with their former conduct, by fresh intelligence as to their own hasty treatment of the missionaries; Ramsay combines both views, and see also St. Paul, p. 224, on the contrast brought out by St. Luke, and also on the Bezan text; see to the same effect Zöckler, in loco. Blass accounts for the change of front on the part of the prætors by supposing that they saw in the earthquake a sign that they had insulted a foreign deity, and that they had therefore better dismiss his servants at once, lest further mischief should result.—τοὺς ῥαβ.: “the lictors” R.V. margin, apparently as the duoviri aped the prætors, so the lictors carried the fasces and not the baculi, cf. Cicero, De Leg. Agr., ii., 34; Farrar, St. Paul, i., 493; Grimm-Thayer, sub v., and references in Wetstein: διὰ τί λικτώρεις τοὺς ῥαβδούχους ὀνομάζουσι; Plut., Quæst. Rom. 67.

35–40. The magistrates would send them away, but Paul refuses to be thus dismissed. He announces that they are Romans, and the magistrates in fear beseech them to depart. They take leave of Lydia and the brethren and leave Philippi

35. the serjeants] These are the lictors, who were the attendants upon the prætors (duumviri), and who probably had on the previous day scourged Paul and Silas. Their Greek name rabdouchoi signifies “rod-bearers.”

Acts 16:35. Ἀπόλυσον, let go) A great change of sentiment. Comp. ἀσφαλῶς, safely, in Acts 16:23. Furthermore in this way the gaoler was both confirmed in the faith and released from great anxiety. For what could he have done, had it not been so? So David was providentially prevented from having to wage war against Israel, 1 Samuel 29—ἐκείνους, those) They speak of them as aliens.

Verse 35. - But for and, A.V. The magistrates; i.e. the printers or duumviri, as in ver. 22 (where see note). The sergeants; i.e. the lictors (ver. 22, note). Acts 16:35Serjeants (ῥαβδούχους)

Lit., those who hold the rod. The Roman lictors. They were the attendants of the chief Roman magistrates.

"Ho, trumpets, sound a war-note !

He, lictors, clear the way!

The knights will ride, in all their pride,

Along the streets to day."

Macaulay, Lays of Ancient Rome.

They preceded the magistrates one by one in a line. They had to inflict punishment on the condemned, especially on Roman citizens. They also commanded the people to pay proper respect to a passing magistrate, by uncovering, dismounting from horseback, and standing out of the way. The badge of their office was the fasces, an axe bound up in a bundle of rods; but in the colonies they carried staves.

Those men


Acts 16:35 Interlinear
Acts 16:35 Parallel Texts

Acts 16:35 NIV
Acts 16:35 NLT
Acts 16:35 ESV
Acts 16:35 NASB
Acts 16:35 KJV

Acts 16:35 Bible Apps
Acts 16:35 Parallel
Acts 16:35 Biblia Paralela
Acts 16:35 Chinese Bible
Acts 16:35 French Bible
Acts 16:35 German Bible

Bible Hub

Acts 16:34
Top of Page
Top of Page