Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at sacred-texts.com
act 16:3He took and circumcised him because of the Jews - The unbelieving Jews, to whom he designed he should preach. For they would not have conversed with him at all, so long as he was uncircumcised.
act 16:6And having gone through Phrygia - And spoken there what was sufficient, as well as in the region of Galatia, being forbid by the Spirit (probably by an inward dictate) to speak as yet in the proconsular Asia, the time for it not being come.
act 16:7Coming to Mysia, and passing it by, as being a part of Asia, they attempted to go into Bithynia; but the Spirit suffered them not - Forbidding them as before. Sometimes a strong impression, for which we are not able to give any account, is not altogether to be despised.
act 16:9A vision appeared to Paul by night - It was not a dream, though it was by night. No other dream is mentioned in the New Testament than that of Joseph and of Pilate's wife. A man of Macedonia - Probably an angel clothed in the Macedonian habit, or using the language of the country, and representing the inhabitants of it. Help us - Against Satan, ignorance, and sin.
act 16:10We sought to go into Macedonia - This is the first place in which St. Luke intimates his attendance on the apostle. And here he does it only in an oblique manner. Nor does he throughout the history once mention his own name, or any one thing which he did or said for the service of Christianity; though Paul speaks of him in the most honourable terms, Col 4:14; Ti2 4:11; and probably as the brother whose praise in the Gospel went through all the Churches, Co2 8:18. The same remark may be made on the rest of the sacred historians, who every one of them show the like amiable modesty.
act 16:11We ran with a straight course - Which increased their confidence that God had called them.
act 16:12The first city - Neapolis was the first city they came to in that part of Macedonia which was nearest to Asia: in that part which was farthest from it, Philippi. The river Strymon ran between them. Philippi was a Roman colony.
act 16:13We went out of the gate - The Jews usually held their religious assemblies (either by choice or constraint) at a distance from the heathens: by a river side - Which was also convenient for purifying themselves. Where prayer was wont to be made - Though it does not appear there was any house built there. We spake - At first in a familiar manner. Paul did not immediately begin to preach.
act 16:14A worshipper of God - Probably acquainted with the prophetic writings whose heart the Lord opened - The Greek word properly refers to the opening of the eyes: and the heart has its eyes, Eph 1:18. These are closed by nature and to open them is the peculiar work of God.
act 16:15She was baptized and her family - Who can believe that in so many families there was no infant? Or that the Jews, who were so long accustomed to circumcise their children, would not now devote them to God by baptism? She entreated us - The souls of the faithful cleave to those by whom they were gained to God. She constrained us - By her importunity. They did not immediately comply, lest any should imagine they sought their own profit by coining into Macedonia.
act 16:17These men are - A great truth: but St. Paul did not need, nor would accept, of such testimony.
act 16:19The magistrates - The supreme magistrates of the city. In the next verse they are called by a title which often signifies pretors. These officers exercised both the military and civil authority.
act 16:20Being Jews - A nation peculiarly despised by the Romans.
act 16:21And teach customs which it is not lawful for us to receive - The world has received all the rules and doctrines of all the philosophers that ever were. But this is a property of Gospel truth: it has something in it peculiarly intolerable to the world.
act 16:23They laid many stripes upon them - Either they did not immediately say they were Romans, or in the tumult it was not regarded. Charging the jailer - Perhaps rather to quiet the people than because they thought them criminal.
act 16:24Secured their feet 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 also kept them extended in a very painful manner.
act 16:25Paul and Silas sung a hymn to God - Notwithstanding weariness, hunger stripes, and blood. And the prisoners heard - A song to which they were not accustomed.
act 16:28But Paul cried - As they were all then in the dark, it is not easy to say, how Paul knew of the jailer's purpose; unless it were by some immediate notice from God, which is by no means incredible. With a loud voice - Through earnestness, and because he was at some distance. Do thyself no harm - Although the Christian faith opens the prospect into another life, yet it absolutely forbids and effectually prevents a man's discharging himself from this.
act 16:30Sirs - He did not style them so the day before. What must I do to be saved? - From the guilt I feel and the vengeance I fear? Undoubtedly God then set his sins in array before him, and convinced him in the clearest and strongest manner that the wrath of God abode upon him.
act 16:31Thou shalt be saved and thy household - If ye believe. They did so, and were saved.
act 16:33He washed their stripes - It should not be forgot, that the apostles had not the power of working miraculous cures when they pleased, either on themselves, or their dearest friends. Nor was it expedient they should, since it would have frustrated many wise designs of God, which were answered by their sufferings.
act 16:34He set a table before them and rejoiced - Faith makes a man joyful, prudent, liberal.
act 16:35The pretors sent - Being probably terrified by the earthquake; saying, Let those men go - How different from the charge given a few hours before! And how great an ease of mind to the jailer!
act 16:37They have beaten us publicly, being Romans - St. Paul does not always plead this privilege. But in a country where they were entire strangers, such treatment might have brought upon them a suspicion of having been guilty of some uncommon crime, and so have hindered the course of the Gospel.
act 16:40When they had seen the brethren, they comforted them and departed - Though many circumstances now invited their stay, yet they wisely complied with the request of the magistrates, that they might not seem to express any degree of obstinacy or revenge, or give any suspicion of a design to stir up the people.