Acts 16:40

ESV So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed.
NIV After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia's house, where they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them. Then they left.
NASB They left the prison and entered the house of Lydia, and when they saw the brothers and sisters, they encouraged them and departed.
CSB After leaving the jail, they came to Lydia's house, where they saw and encouraged the brothers and sisters, and departed.
NLT When Paul and Silas left the prison, they returned to the home of Lydia. There they met with the believers and encouraged them once more. Then they left town.
KJV And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.

What does Acts 16:40 mean?

It is time for Paul and Silas to leave Philippi. Some time before, they and Timothy had considered their next location to plant churches. They assumed they would stay in modern-day Asia Minor, either in the province of Asia in the west or in Bithynia in the north. But the Holy Spirit did not allow them, so they traveled to the port of Troas. There, Paul had a vision of a man inviting them to Macedonia. They seem to have also met Luke in Troas, and the four of them crossed the Aegean Sea to Philippi (Acts 16:6–12).

Unlike most of the cities and towns in Galatia, Philippi apparently did not have enough Jews to make a synagogue. The team knew that in that situation, Jews and God-followers typically met out of town by a river. There, they found a group of women, including Lydia, who gathered to pray on the Sabbath. Lydia eagerly accepted Jesus as her Savior and insisted the men stay at her house (Acts 16:13–15).

While Paul and Silas planted a church, they also made enemies. After businessmen with a grudge accurately accused them of teaching an unauthorized religion, city magistrates illegally beat and imprisoned the two (Acts 16:20–24). The next morning, when the magistrates arranged for their exile from the city, Paul and Silas revealed they are Roman citizens. The magistrates were terrified: it was a great crime to even bind a Roman citizen without a fair trial, let alone beat, imprison, and exile one from a Roman city. Paul and Silas have no need to see them punished. They demanded a public apology and enough time to say goodbye to Lydia (Acts 16:35–39).

Paul and Silas's time in Philippi shows the believers' fluid relationship with civil law. When a law goes against God's instruction—such as a ban on preaching Jesus' offer of salvation—we are obligated to break it. When our legal rights, like the right to a fair trial, are withheld, we are free to demand the law be fairly applied. At the same time, when we break a law—such as when illegally preaching Christ—we should expect to pay the cost.

Paul and Silas are only halfway through their missionary voyage. From here they will go to Thessalonica. That city has enough traditionally-minded Jews to grow jealous of the missionaries' following and chase them out of Thessalonica and Berea (Acts 17:1–15). Paul will flee to Athens, where he will have the quintessential philosophical debate (Acts 17:16–34) and meet up with the rest of his team in Corinth (Acts 18:1–17). Corinth will prove a difficult place to maintain a church, but Paul's frustration is for our benefit as his letters to the Corinthians give us much to think about.
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