ACTS CHAPTER 16
I) [Acts 16:16-21]:
(v. 16) "Once when we [Paul and Silas] were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling."
[Bible Knowledge Commentary, Walvoord and Zuck Eds., Victor Books, USA, 1988, p. 399]:
"Some men were exploiting a demon-possessed slave girl for her ability to predict the future. The English words a spirit by which she predicted the future, translate two Greek words, 'a spirit, a python.' This concept goes back to the Greek city of Delphi where the god Apollo was believed to be embodied in a python snake. The original priestess at Delphi was purported to be possessed by Apollo and thereby able to predict the future; therefore anyone possessed by the python spirit could foretell coming events [so the legend went]... Demons took advantage of people's worship of false gods (cf. 17:23; 1 Cor 10:20)"
Demons do not possess the capacity to predict the future but did have the ability to spy on others and move about as spiritual beings such that they could gather extraordinary amounts of information, overhear conversations everywhere and make highly accurate guesses as to what might occur - so accurate as to appear to predict the future. This information was then passed on to their human hosts.]
(v. 17) This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, 'These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.'
(v. 18) She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, 'In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!' At that moment the spirit left her."
"The girl attached herself to Paul and the others and was shouting (imperf. tense) who they were (servants of the Most High God) and what they preached (the way to be saved). Though here statements were true, the gospel of Christ would be damaged by an association with a demon-possessed slave girl. So after many days....Paul exorcised the demon, speaking directly to the spirit. (Other cases of victory over the occult in Acts are recorded in 8:9-24; 13:6-12; 19:13-20.)"
Notice that the gospel was clearly proclaimed as the way to be saved, implying from earlier verses in Acts that there was such a thing as everlasting life as opposed to eternal damnation and how one was to receive it]
(v. 19) When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities.
(v. 20) They brought them before the magistrates and said, 'These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar
(v. 21) by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.' "
"The charge of the slave girl's owners against Paul and Silas was obviously prejudicial. Shortly before this incident the Emperor Claudius had expelled the Jews from Rom (18:2). Philippi, a Roman colony, would have caught this flavor of anti-Semitism....
Furthermore, Paul and Silas were accused of disrupting the city...by advocating customs unlawful for... Romans to accept or practice. Rome permitted the peoples of its colonies to have their own religions but not to proselytize Roman citizens. The civil leaders could not distinguish between Judaism and Christianity (cf. 18:14-15), so they would see the preaching of Paul and Silas as a flagrant infraction of imperial law."
Finally, the key motivation appears to be the loss of income by the slave girl's owners. There is reported no uproar caused by Paul and Silas until the slave girl's owners entered the scene and caused it themselves.
Notice the false accusations which twisted the facts and did not take steps to discover and take into account Paul and Silas's Roman citizenship, (v. 37)]
II) [Acts 16:22-24]:
(v. 22) "The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten.
(v. 23) After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully.
(v. 24) Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks."
[So Paul and Silas suffered severe flogging as a result of their preaching the gospel and casting out a demon in a slave girl who made money for her owners via appearing to predict the future by that demon. As a result of losing their capacity to make money through their slave girl, the owners falsely accused Paul and Silas of causing an uproar which they actually instigated themselves and accused them of advocating unlawful customs before the magistrate without proper trial. They were thrown into prison after their flogging under tight security: careful guarded, in an inner cell, in stocks! ]
III) [Acts 16:25]:
"About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them."
[Notice that the other prisoners were listening to Paul and Silas praying and singing of hymns to God]
IV) [Acts 16:26]:
"Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose."
V) [Acts 16:27-28]:
(v. 27) "The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped.
(v. 28) But Paul shouted, 'Don't harm yourself! We are all here!' "
"Because the jailer was responsible for any escaped prisoners (cf. 12:19), he drew his sword... to kill himself. But Paul, seeing what was about to happen, reassured him that the prisoners had not escaped. Perhaps the other prisoners were so impressed with the God of Paul and Silas that they did not dare flee!"
[Notice that since the prisoners were all there, the jailer did not have to face execution. So fear of physical death for the moment was not the issue once Paul made it clear that no prisoner had escaped - that all had evidently decided to remain in prison with Paul and Silas. This implies that Paul and Silas had not decided to escape but rather wait in prison for a purpose that unfolded in the following verses]
A) [Compare Acts 12:18-19]:
(v. 18) "In the morning, there was no small commotion among the soldiers as to what had become of Peter.
(v. 19) After Herod had a thorough search made for him and did not find him, he cross-examined the guards and ordered that they be executed. Then Herod went from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there a while."
[Notice that the penalty for letting Peter escape from their custody was execution for the guards. Hence the fear of physical death was as a result of this rule of executing guards for letting their prisoners escape]
VI) [Acts 16:29-30]:
(v. 29) "The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas.
(v. 30) He then brought them out and asked, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' "
[Notice that the jailer evidently had been paying attention to Paul and Silas. It is implied that he understood that they had information as to what it took to be saved - not from physical death, for that had been remedied by all the prisoners being present - but from eternal condemnation and unto eternal life. We can infer that his moment of confronting the possible end of his mortality due to losing prisoners provoked him to consider where he was going to be when he died. So the jailer asked them what he must do to be saved from that fate when he died.]
VII) [Acts 16:31]:
"They replied, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household.' "
"believe" = "pisteuson", imperative mood = a command; aorist tense, not present tense = a completed action of a moment of believing and one will - at that moment - be saved unto eternal life. Thus continuous action of believing is not in view, nor any kind of commitment in order to be saved unto eternal life. "Pisteuson" = comes from the Greek infinitive "pisteuO", to believe.
The New Analytical Greek Lexicon which is a dictionary of the koine Greek language of the Bible, (Wesley J. Perschbacher, Editor, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Ma; 1992, p. 329), states as the meaning of the word pisteuo which is translated believe in the English Bible translations as follows:
"(4100)... [pisteuo] 1 pers. sg. pres. act. indic., fut... [pisteuso] ...to believe, give credit to, Mark 1:15; 16:13; Luke 24:25; intrns. to believe, have a mental persuasion, Matt. 8:13; 9:28; James 2:19; to believe, be of opinion, Rom. 14:2; in N.T. [pisteuein en, eis] to believe in or on, Matt. 18:6; 27:42; John 3:15, 16, 18; absol. to believe, be a believer in the religion of Christ, Acts 2:44; 4:4, 32; 13:48; trans. to intrust, commit to the charge or power of, Luke 16:11; John 2:24; pass. to be intrusted with, Rom. 3:2; 1 Cor. 9:17"
[ ... on the topic of saving faith ]
So the Greek word used in the Bible which is translated into forms of the verb 'to believe' relative to salvation unto eternal life is defined according to the bible, usage and New Testament Greek dictionaries to mean to trust, believe or exercise a moment of faith in the information presented that Jesus Christ will save you from your sins and provide eternal life for you, i.e., a mental assent - devoid of additional actions on the part of an individual other than the mental agreement. This is why salvation unto eternal life is stipulated in Scripture as a gracious free gift through a moment of faith, (perfect tense) which is not of yourselves, not by works so that no one can boast - no strings attached:
A) [Eph 2:8-9]:
(v. 8) "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God --
(v. 9) not by works, so that no one can boast."
on this verse
"you will be saved" = "sOthEsE", indicative mood = a statment of fact; future tense = signifying being instantly saved unto eternal life whenever the individual expresses, (it is future until the moment one believes), a moment of faith alone in Christ alone + nothing else.
Notice that the indicative mood is a statement of fact by definition, making emphatic the result of a moment of believing on the Lord Jesus Christ to be eternal life at that moment. It is by faith alone + nothing else that this is accomplished in an instant and forever because the result of it is stipulated as being saved, the duration implied as eternal relative to the previous teaching of the Apostle Paul in Acts 13:46-48.
B) [Compare Acts 13:46-48]:
(v. 46) "Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: "We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.
(v.47) For this is what the Lord has commanded us: " 'I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'
(v. 48) When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed."
"you and your household" = This phrase does not imply that if the jailer believed that the rest of his family would be saved, but it does imply that the jailer and any one in his household who believes in the Lord Jesus will be saved. It further implies that anyone who believes in the Lord Jesus will be saved.
In view of the normative rules of language, context and logic by which God's Word must be read and interpreted, the integrity of this passage cannot be violated or added to by imposing what other passages might or might not stipulate relative to salvation unto eternal life or any topic. Hence Acts 16:31 remains a message that all who express a moment of faith alone, (aorist tense), in Jesus Christ alone + nothing else will assuredly be saved unto eternal life, no matter what - because there are no conditions stipulated except the moment of faith. No where in this passage can it be inferred that anything else but a moment of believing in the Lord Jesus Christ's capacity to save one is required to be saved unto eternal life.
On the other hand, the once and forever saved believer is commanded to live a faithful life; but not in order to be saved or prove out that he is saved to himself or anyone. Severe disciplinary and eternal consequences will be suffered when and if the believer is unfaithful, but never will he lose what Acts 16:31 so clearly declares: "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved"
VIII) [Acts 16:31-34]:888866667777