Chrysostom on Acts 3500
ACTS XVI. 13, 14.—“And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont (Chrys. “was thought likely”) to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.”
See again Paul judaizing. “Where1 it was thought,” it says, both from the time and from the place, “that prayer would be.—Out of the city, by a river side:” for it is not to be supposed that they prayed only where there was a synagogue; they also prayed out of synagogue, but then for this purpose they set apart, as it were, a certain place, because as Jews they were more corporeal—and, “on the sabbath-day,” when it was likely that a multitude would come together.2 “And we sat down, and spake to the women which resorted thither.” Mc again the freedom from all pride. “And a certain woman :” a woman and she of low condition, from her trade too: but mark (in her) a woman of elevated mind (filosofon). In the first place, the fact of God’s calling her bears testimony to her: “And when she was baptized,” it says, “she and her household”—mark how he persuaded all of them—“she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us3 ” (v. 15): then look at her wisdom, how she importunes (duswpei), the Apostles how full of humility her words are, how full of wisdom. “If ye have judged me faithful,” she says. Nothing could be more persuasive. Who would not have been softened by these words? She did not request (or, “claim”) did not entreat simply: but she left them to decide, and (yet) exceedingly forced them: “And she constrained. us,” it says, by those words. And again in a different way: for see how she straightway bears fruit, and accounts it a great gain. “If ye have judged me,” that is, That ye did judge me is manifest, by your delivering to me such (holy) mysteries (i.e. sacraments, see p. 225, note 3): and she did not dare to invite them before this. But why was there any unwillingness on the part of Paul and those with them, that they should need to be constrained? It was either by way of calling her to greater earnestness of desire, or because Christ had said, “Enquire who is worthy, and there abide.” (Lc 10,8). (It was not that they were unwilling), but they did it for a purpose.4 —“And it came to pass,” it says, “as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us,5 which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: the same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation.” (v. 16, 17). What may be the reason that both the demon spoke these words, and Paul forbade him? Both the one acted maliciously, and the other wisely: the demon wished in fact to make himself credible.6 For if Paul had admitted his testimony, he would have deceived many of the believers, as being received by him: therefore he endures to speak what made against himself, that he may establish what made for himself: and so the demon himself uses accommodation (sugkatabasei) in order to destruction. At first then, Paul would not admit it, but scorned it, not wishing to cast himself all at once upon miracles; but when it continued to do this, and pointed to their work (kai to ergon edeiknu) “who preach unto us the way of salvation,” then he commanded it to come out. For it says, “Paul being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. (a)7 And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas.” (v. 18, 19). (d)So then Paul did all, both miracles and teaching, but of the dangers Silas also is partaker. And why says it, “But Paul being grieved?” It means, he saw through the malice of the demon, as he saith, “For we are not ignorant of his devices.” (2Co 2,11). (b) “And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone.” Everywhere money the cause of evils. O that heathen cruelty! they wished the girl to be still a demoniac, that they might make money by her. “They caught Paul and Silas,” it says, “and dragged them into the marketplace unto the rulers, and brought them unto the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city!” (v. 20): by doing what? Then why did you not drag them (hither) before this? “Being Jews:” the name was in bad odor. “And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.” (v. 21). They made a charge of treason of it (epi kaqosiwsin hgagon). (e) Why did they not say, Because they cast out the demon, they were guilty of impiety against God? For this was a defeat to them: but instead of that, they have recourse to a charge of treason (epi kaqosiwsin): like the Jews when they said, “We have no king but Caesar: whoso maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.” (Jn 19,14 Jn 19,12). (c) “And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.” (v. 22). O the irrational conduct! They did not examine, did not allow them to speak. And yet, such a miracle having taken place, ye ought to have worshipped them, ought to have held them as saviors and benefactors. For if money was what ye wished, why, having found so great wealth, did ye not run to it? This makes you more famous, the having power to cast out demons than the obeying them. Lo, even miracles, and yet love of money was mightier. (f) “And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison.”—great was their wrath—“ charging the jailer to keep them safely” (v. 23): “who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.” (v. 24). Observe, he also again thrust them into the “inner” prison: and this too was done providentially, because8 there was to be a great miracle.9
(Recapitulation). “Out of the city.” (v. 13). The place was convenient for hearing the word, aloof from troubles and dangers. (b) “On the sabbath.” As there was no work going on, they were more attentive to what was spoken. (a) “And a certain woman, named Lydia, a seller of purple” (v. 14): observe how the writer of the history is not ashamed of the occupations (of the converts): (c) moreover neither was this city of the Philippians a great one. Having learnt these things, let us also be ashamed of no man. Peter abides with a tanner (ch. 9,43): (Paul) with a woman who was a seller of purple, and a foreigner. Where is pride? “Whose heart the Lord opened.” Therefore we need God, to open the heart: but God opens the hearts that are willing: for there are hardened hearts to be seen.10 “So that she attended to the things which were spoken of Paul.” The opening, then, was God’s work, the attending was hers: so that it was both God’s doing and man’s. And she was baptized (v. 15), and receives the Apostles with such earnestness of entreaty; with more than that used by Abraham. And she speaks of no other token than that whereby she was saved (Gn 18,3): she says not, “If ye have judged me” a great, a devout woman; but what? “faithful to the Lord:” if to the Lord, much more to you. “If ye have judged me:” if ye do not doubt it. And she says not, Abide with me, but, “Come into my house and abide:” with great earnestness (she says it). Indeed a faithful woman!—“A certain damsel possessed with a spirit of Python.” (v. 16). Say, what is this demon? The god, as they call him, Python: from the place he is so called. Do you mark that Apollo also is a demon? And (the demon) wished to bring them into temptation: (therefore) to provoke them, “the same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation.” (v. 17). O thou accursed, thou execrable one! if then thou knowest that it is “His way of salvation” that “they show,” why dost thou not come out freely? But just what Simon wished, when he said, “Give me, that on whomsoever I lay my hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost” (ch. 8,19), the same did this demon: since he saw them becoming famous, here also he plays the hypocrite: by this means he thought to be allowed to remain in the body, if he should preach the same things. But if Christ “receive not testimony from man,” (Jn 5,34), meaning John, much less from a demon. “Praise is not comely in the mouth of a sinner” (Si 15,9), much less from a demon. For11 that they preach is not of men, but of the Holy Ghost. Because they did not act in a spirit of boasting. “And Paul being grieved,” etc. By their clamor and shouting they thought to alarm them (the magistrates): saying, “These men do exceedingly trouble our city.” (v. 18–20). What sayest thou? Dost thou believe the demon? Why not here also? He saith, They are “servants of the most high God;” thou sayest, “They exceedingly trouble our city:” he saith, “They show us the way of salvation;” thou sayest, “They teach customs which are not lawful for us to receive.” (v. 21). Observe, how they do not attend even to the demon, but look only to one thing, their covetousness. But observe them (Paul and Silas), how they do not answer, nor plead for themselves; (b) “For when,” saith he, “I am weak, then am I strong. My grace is sufficient for thee, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2Co 12,9): so that by reason of their gentleness also they should be admired. (a) “And the magistrates,” etc., “charging the jailer to keep them safely” (v. 22): that they may be the means12 of a greater miracle. (c) The stricter the custody, the greater the miracle. It was probably from the wish to cut short the disturbance, that the magistrates did these things; because they saw the crowd urgent, and wished to stay their passion at the instant, therefore they inflicted the stripes: at the same time it was their wish to hear the matter, and that was why they cast them into prison and gave charge “to keep them safely.” And, it says, “he made them fast in the stocks” (v. 24), (to xulon) as we should say, the nervum (nerbon).
What tears do not these things call for! (Think) what they suffer, while we (live) in luxury, we in theatres, we perishing and drowning (in dissolute living), seeking always idle amusement, not enduring to suffer pain for Christ, not even as far as words, not even as far as talk. These things I beseech you let us ever call to mind, what things they suffered, what things they endured, how undismayed they were, how unoffended. They were doing God’s work, and suffered these things! They did not say, Why do we preach this, and God does not take our part? But even this was a benefit to them, even apart13 from the truth, in the thing itself; it made them more vigorous, stronger, intrepid. “Tribulation worketh endurance.” (Rm 5,4). Then let us not seek loose and dissolute living. For as in the one case the good is twofold, that the sufferers are made strong, and that the rewards are great; so in the other the evil is twofold, that such are rendered more enervated, and that it is to no good, but only evil. For nothing can be more worthless than a man who passes all his time in idleness and luxury. For the man untried, as the saying is, is also unapproved; unapproved not only in the contests, but also in everything else. Idleness is a useless thing, and in luxury itself nothing is so unsuited to the end proposed as the leading a luxurious life: for it palls with satiety, so that neither the enjoyment of the viands is so great, nor the enjoyment of relaxation, but all becomes vapid, and runs to waste.
Then let us not seek after this. For if we will consider which has the pleasanter life, he that is toiled and hardworked, or he that lives in luxury, we shall find it to be the former. For in the first place,14 the bodily senses are neither clear nor sound, but dull (kaunai) and languid; and when those are not right, even of health there is plainly no enjoyment. Which is the useful horse, the pampered or the exercised? which the serviceable ship, that which sails, or that which lies idle? which the best water, the running or the stagnant? which the best iron, that which is much used, or that which does no work? does not the one shine bright as silver, while the other becomes all over rusty, useless, and even losing some of its own substance? The like happens also to the soul as the consequence of idleness: a kind of rust spreads over it, and corrodes both its brightness and everything else. How then shall one rub off this rust? With the whetstone of tribulations: so shall one make the soul useful and fit for all things. Else, how, I ask, will she be able to cut off the passions, with her edge turned (anaklwsh") and bending like lead? How shall she wound the devil?—And then to whom can such an one be other than a disgusting spectacle—a man cultivating obesity, dragging himself along like a seal? I speak not this of those who are naturally of this habit, but of those who by luxurious living have brought their bodies into such a condition, of those who are naturally of a spare habit. The sun has risen, has shot forth his bright beams on all sides, and roused up each person to his work: the husbandman goes forth with his spade, the smith with his hammer, and each artisan with his several instruments, and you will find each handling his proper tools; the woman also takes either her distaff or her webs: while he, like the swine, immediately at the first dawn goes forth to feed his belly, seeking how he may provide sumptuous fare. And yet it is only for brute beasts to be feeding from morning to night; and for them, because their only use is to be slaughtered. Nay, even of the beasts, those which carry burdens and admit of being worked, go forth to their work while it is yet night. But this man, rising from his bed, when the (noon-tide) sun has filled the market-place, and people are tired of their several works, then this man gets up, stretching himself out just as if he were indeed a hog in fattening, having wasted the fairest part of the day in darkness. Then he sits there for a long time on his bed, often unable even to lift himself up from the last evening’s debauch, and having wasted (still) more time in this (listlessness), proceeds to adorn himself, and issues forth, a spectacle of unseemliness, with nothing human about him, but with all the appearance of a beast with a human shape: his eyes rheumy from the effect of wine,15 * * * while the miserable soul, just like the lame, is unable to rise, bearing about its bulk of flesh, like an elephant. Then he comes and sits in (various) places, and says and does such things, that it were better for him to be still sleeping than to be awake. If it chance that evil tidings be announced, he shows himself weaker than any girl; if good, more silly than any child; on his face there is a perpetual yawn. He is a mark for all that would do harm, if not for all men, at least for all evil passions; and wrath easily excites such a man, and lust, and envy, and all other passions. All flatter him, all pay court to him, rendering his soul weaker than it is already: and each day he goes on and on, adding to his disease. If he chance to fall into any difficulty of business, he becomes dust and ashes,16 and his silken garments are of no help to him. We have not said all this without a purpose, but to teach you, that none of you should live idly and at random. For idleness and luxury are not conducive to work, to good reputation, to enjoyment.17 For who will not condemn such a man? Family, friends, kinsfolk (will say), He is indeed a very encumbrance of the ground. Such a man as this has come into the world to no purpose: or rather, not to no purpose, but to ill purpose against his own person, to his own ruin, and to the hurt of others. But that this is more pleasant—let us look to this; for this is the question. Well then, what can be less pleasant than (the condition of) a man who has nothing to do; what more wretched and miserable? Is it not worse than all the fetters in the world, to be always gaping and yawning, as one sits in the market-place, looking at the passers by? For the soul, as its nature is to be always on the move, cannot endure to be at rest. God has made it a creature of action: to work is of its very nature; to be idle is against its nature. For let us not judge of these things from those who are diseased, but let us put the thing itself to the proof of fact. Nothing is more hurtful than leisure, and having nothing to do: indeed therefore hath God laid on us a necessity of working: for idleness hurts everything. Even to the members of the body, inaction is a mischief. Both eye, if it perform not its work, and mouth, and belly, and every member that one could mention, falls into the worst state of disease: but none so much as the soul. But as inaction is an evil, so is activity in things that ought to be let alone. For just as it is with the teeth, if one eats not, one receives hurt to them, and if one eats things unfitting, it jars them, and sets them on edge:18 so it is here; both if the soul be inactive, and if inactive in wrong things, it loses its proper force. Then let us eschew both alike; both inaction, and the activity which is worse than inaction. And what may that be? Covetousness,19 anger, envyings, and the other passions. As regards these, let us make it our object to be inactive, in order that we may obtain the good things promised to us, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, be glory, might, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
1 mss. and Edd. place ou en. proseuch einai after apo tou topou, so that it reads, “See Paul again judaizing both from the time and from the place.” Chrys. here explains the enomizeto (in the sense “was thought”): viz. St. Paul expected to find a congregation assembled for prayer, both because the place was set apart for that purpose, and because it was the sabbath.
2 Two variations of text occur in 5,13, which materially affect the meaning. Modern critics read pulh" St). polew"—“they went outside the gate” and enomizomen instead of enomizeto—“where we supposed there was a place of prayer.” (
R.V., Tischendorf, Westcott and Hort). If the reading enomizeto is retained, it more probably means; “where a place of prayer was wont to be” rather than (as Chrys). “where, it was thought, that prayer would be.” The proseucai were places of prayer situated often in the open air, and chosen in the neighborhood of streams on account of the custom of washing the hands before prayer. They served the purposes of synagogues in places where they did not exist.—G.B.S.
3 all` autou" afhke kuriou" einai, kai. Mod. text, ouk afhke k. e. alla kai.
4 `Alla di oikonomian epoioun. B. Cat. “their seeming reluctance was ‘economy.’” A. C., (Ola di oik. ep. Mod. text, Wste panta di oik. ep.
5 Most critical editions read in 5,16). puqwna st). puqwno" (following A). b.c. a
). In this case the word is in apposition with pneuma and has the force of an adjective, “having a Pythonic spirit,” in allusion to the serpent which was said to have guarded Delphi and to have been slain by Apollo. From this feat the God was called Pythius, and in his temple the priestess was called “the Pythian,” as being inspired by Apollo. Hence the term became equivalent to a daimonion mantlkon. In later times the power of the ventriloquist was attributed to such a Pythonic spirit (as by Plutarch) and the LXX. render the word bwa
by eggastrimuqo" in accordance with this view. Meyer maintains that this damsel had the power of ventriloquism which the people attributed to a pneuma puqwna. The apostle did not share this opinion but treated the case as one of demoniacal possession.—G. B. S.
6 B. and Cat). ebouleto loipon axiopiston eauton (B). auton) poiein. The other mss. ebouleto (ebouleueto A.C)). gar mh ax. auton poiein: wished to make him (Paul) not credible. That the former is the true reading, is shown by what follows: ina sthsh ta uper eautou: i.e., to gain credit with the believers in order to deceive them afterwards. In the next clause, we read with Cat. and Sav). ta kaq` eautou, our mss. eautou", and so the other Edd.
7 The scribe has copied the parts in the order 1, 3, 5: 2, 4, 6. See p. 213, note 5.
8 Edd. have AEEpeidh gar, and join this sentence with the following. The compiler of the Catena perceived that the Recapitulation begins with the next sentence, which he therefore ves to 5,13, though he repeats it wrongly under v. 24.—Mod. text, inserts the AEAll; idwmen k. t. l. before Gnuh, f., porfuropwli".
9 This is the first recorded instance of the persecution of Christians by the Roman power. Hitherto the persecutions have proceeded from the Jews and here it is inflicted upon the Christians because they are considered to be Jews who were now under special disfavor, having been shortly before banished from Rome by Claudius.—G.B.S).
10 Here mod. text. “But let us look over again what has been said. ‘A woman,’ it says, ‘a seller of purple,’” etc.
11 mss. and Edd). to gar khruttein ouk anqrwpwn alla IIn. AEEpei oun alazonikw" epoioun bownte" k. t. l. The passage needs emendation. We read ouk for oun. “They did not catch at praise, least of all from a demon: for they were no braggarts, knowing that the power to preach was not of men,” etc.
12 ina meizono" qaumato" aitioi genwntai. B. Cat. Sav. marg. The other mss. read ina meizono" axioi qaum. g., “They forbear to answer, so as to become worthy of more admiration.” Hence this clause has been transposed. We refer it to 5,23. “The magistrates give order for their safe custody, thereby becoming the means of a greater miracle.”
13 b.c., kai cwri" th" alhqeia", en autw tw pragmati. A. and mod. text, kai c. th" bohqeia" autw. tw. pr., “even without the Divine succour, even though that had been withheld, yet their sufferings were ipso facto a benefit.” But this alteration is not necessary. “Even apart from the Truth which they preached,—irrespectively of the fact that they were preachers of the Truth—their sufferings were a benefit. Even though they were deceived, and not preachers of the Truth, they gained by suffering: it made them strong,” etc).
14 As no “secondly” follows this “first,” the scribes have supplied the seeming deficiency: thus N. (Sav. marg)). prwton men oti to swma anepithdeion pro" panta kai ekneneurismenon esti: deuteron de oti kai—. Mod. text IIr. men gar tou toioutou to swma auto ekluton kai pepladhko": epeita kai—.
15 Mod. text, “his eyes watery, his mouth smelling of wine.” It is evident that Chrys. is very imperfectly reported here.
16 tefra kai koni" ginetai. Unless there be an hiatus here, the meaning is, he has no more solidity in him than so much ashes and dust.
17 Mod. text, pro" doxan monon, pro" hdonhn: “but only to vainglory, to pleasure.”
18 poiei antou" brucein kai wmodian (r). wmwdian). In Jer. xxxi. (Gr. xxxviii). 29, the phrase is odonte" twn teknwn hmwdiasan and so Hippocrat. uses the verb). aimwdian. But as Ed. Par. Ben. 2, remarks, the passage of Jr is sometimes cited with wmwdiasan; Synops. Athanas. t. 2,167). Isidor. Pelus. 4,Ep. 4.
19 Here, Edd. before Par. Ben. 2, adopt the amplified peroration of D. F. “Covetings, wrath, envyings, strifes, grudgings, emulations, and all the other passions. In these we ought to aim at being inactive, and with all earnestness to do the work of the virtues, that we may attain,” etc.
ACTS XVI. 25, 26.—“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken, and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.”
What could equal these souls? These men had been scourged, had received many, stripes, they had been misused, were in peril of their lives, were thrust into the inner prison, and set fast in the stocks: and for all this they did not suffer themselves to sleep, but kept vigil all the night. Do you mark what a blessing tribulation is? But we, in1 our soft beds, with none to be afraid of, pass the whole night in sleep. But belike this is why they kept vigil, because they were in this condition. Not the tyranny of sleep could overpower them, not the smart of pain could bow them, not the fear of evil east them into helpless dejection: no, these were the very things that made them wakeful: and they were even filled with exceeding delight. “At midnight,” it says, “and the prisoners listened to them :” it was so strange and surprising! “And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken, and immediately, all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.” (v. 27). There was an earthquake, that the keeper should be roused from sleep, and the doors flew open, that he should wonder at what had happened: but these things the prisoners saw not: otherwise they would all have fled:2 but the keeper of the prison was about to slay himself, thinking the prisoners were escaped. “But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here” (v. 28). (b)“Then he called for lights, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas; and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (v. 29, 30). Do you mark how the wonder overpowered him? (a)He wondered more at Paul’s kindness; he was amazed at his manly boldness, that he had not escaped when he had it in his power, that he hindered him from killing himself.3 (c) “And they said, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.” (v. 31, 35) and (so) immediately gave proof of their kindness towards him. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. (v. 33). He washed them, and was himself baptized, he and his house. “And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. And when it was day, the magistrates sent the sergeants, saying, Let those men go.” (v. 34, 35). It is likely the magistrates had learnt what had happened, and did not dare of themselves to dismiss them. “And the keeper of the prison told these words to Paul, saying, the magistrates have sent to let you go now therefore depart, and go in peace. But Paul said unto them, they have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust as out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out. And the sergeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans. And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city. 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.” (v. 36–40). Even4 upon the declaration of the magistrates Paul does not go out, but for the sake both of Lydia and the rest he puts them in fear: that they may not be supposed to have come out upon their own request, that they may set the rest in a posture of boldness. The impeachment was twofold: that “being Romans,” and “uncondemned,” they had openly cast them into prison. You see that in many things they took their measures as men.
(Recapitulation) “And at midnight,” etc. (v. 25). Let us compare, beloved, with that night these nights of ours, with their revellings, their drunkenness, and wanton excesses, with their sleep which might as well be death, their watchings which are worse than sleep. For while some sleep without sense or feeling, others lie awake to pitiable and wretched purpose, plotting deceits, anxiously thinking about money, studying how they may be revenged upon those who do them wrong, meditating enmity, reckoning up the abusive words spoken during the day:thus do they rake up the smouldering embers of wrath, doing things intolerable.5 Mc how Peter slept. (ch. 12,6). Both there, it was wisely ordered (that he should be asleep); for the Angel came to him, and it behooved that none should see what happened; and on the other hand it was well ordered here (that Paul should be awake), in order that the keeper of the prison might be prevented from killing himself. “And suddenly there was a great earthquake.” (v. 26). And why did no other miracle take place? Because this was, of all others, the thing sufficient for his conversion, seeing he was personally in danger: for it is not so much miracles that overpower us, as the things which issue in our own deliverance. That the earthquake should not seem to have come of itself, there was this concurrent circumstance, bearing witness to it: “the doors were opened, and all their bonds were loosed.” And it appears in the night-time; for the Apostles did not work for display, but for men’s salvation “And the keeper of the prison,” etc. (v. 27). The keeper was not an evil-disposed man that he “thrust them into the inner prison,” (v. 24) was because of his “having received such a command,” not of himself. The man6 was all in a tumult of perturbation. “What shall I do to be saved?” he asks. Why not before this? Paul shouted, until he saw, and is beforehand with him saying, “We are all here. And having called for lights,” it says, “he sprang in, and fell down at the feet” of the prisoner; he, the prison keeper, saying, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (v. 28–30). Why, what had they said? Observe, he does not, on finding himself safe, think all is well; he is overcome with awe at the miraculous power.
Do you mark7 what happened in the former case, and what here? There a girl was released from a spirit, and they cast them into prison, because they had liberated her from the spirit. Here, they did but show the doors standing open, and it opened the doors of his heart, it loosed two sorts of chains; that (prisoner)8 kindled the (true) light; for the light in his heart was shining. “And he sprang in, and fell before them;” and he does not ask, How is this? What is this? but straightway he says, “What must I do to be saved?” What then answers Paul? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thine house.” (v. 31). For this above all, wins men: that one’s house also should be saved. “And they spake the word to him, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes,” etc. (v. 32, 33), washed them and was washed: those he washed from their stripes, himself was washed from his sins: he fed and was fed.9 “And rejoiced,” it says: although there was nothing but words only and good hopes: "having believed in God with all his house (v. 34): this was the token of his having believed—that he was released of all. What worse than a jailer, what more ruthless, more savage? He entertained them with great honor. Not, because he was safe, he made merry, but, having believed God. (a) “Believe on the Lord,” said the Apostle: therefore it is that the writer here says, “Having believed.10 —(d) Now therefore,” it says, “depart, and go in peace” (v. 36):that is, in safety, fearing no man. (b)“But Paul said unto them” (v. 37): that he may not seem to be receiving his liberty as one condemned, and as one that has done wrong: therefore it is that he says, “Having openly beaten us uncondemned,” etc.—that it may not be matter of grace on their part. (e) And besides, they wish the jailer himself to be out of danger, that he may not be called to account for this afterwards. And they do not say, “Having beaten us,” who have wrought miracles: for they (the magistrates) did not even heed these: but, that which was most effectual to shake their minds, “uncondemned, and being Romans.” (c) Observe how diversely grace manages things: how Peter went out, how Paul, though both were Apostles. “They feared,” (v. 38) it says: because the men were Romans, not because they bad unjustly cast them into prison,11 “And besought them to depart out of the city” (v. 39): begged them as a favor. And they went to the house of Lydia, and having confirmed her, so departed. For it was not right to leave their hostess in distress and anxiety. But they went out, not in compliance with the request of those rulers, but hasting to the preaching: the city having been sufficiently benefited by the miracle: for it was fit they should not be there any longer. For in the absence of them that wrought it, the miracle appeared greater, itself crying out more loudly: the faith of the jailer was a voice in itself. What equal to this? He is put in bonds, and looses, being bound: looses a twofold bond: him that bound him, he looses by being bound. These are indeed works of (supernatural) grace.
(f) Let us constantly bear in mind this jailer,12 not the miracle: how, prisoner as he was (the Apostle), persuaded his jailer. What say the heathen? “And of what things,” say they, “was such a man as this to be persuaded—a vile, wretched creature, of no understanding, full of all that is bad and nothing else, and easily brought over to anything? For these, say they, are the things, a tanner, a purple-seller, an eunuch, slaves, and women believed.” This is what they say. What then will they be able to say, when we produce the men of rank and station, the centurion, the proconsul, those from that time to the present, the rulers themselves, the emperors? But for my part, I speak of something else, greater than this: let us look to these very persons of no consideration. “And where is the wonder?” say you. Why, this, I say, is a wonder. For, if a person be persuaded about any common things, it is no wonder: but if resurrection, a kingdom of heaven, a life of philosophic self-command, be the subjects, and, discoursing of these to persons of mean consideration, one persuades them, it will be more wonderful than if one persuaded wise men. For when there is no danger attending the things of which one persuades people, then (the objector) might with some plausibility allege want of sense on their part: but when (the preacher) says—to the slave, as you will have it—“ If thou be persuaded by me, it is at thy peril, thou wilt have all men for thine enemies, thou must die, thou must suffer evils without number,” and yet for all this, convinces that man’s soul, there can be no more talk here of want of sense. Since, if indeed the doctrines contained what was pleasant, one might fairly enough say this: but if, what the philosohers would never have chosen to learn, this the slave does learn, then is the wonder greater. And, if you will, let us bring before us the tanner himself, and see what were the subjects on which Peter conversed with him: or if you will, this same jailer. What then said Paul to him? “That Christ rose again,” say you; “that there is a resurrection of the dead, and a kingdom: and he had no difficulty in persuading him, a man easily led to anything.” How? Said he nothing about the mode of life; that he must be temperate, that he must be superior to money, that he must not be unmerciful, that he must impart of his good things to others? Forit cannot be said, that the being persuaded to these things also was from the want of power of mind; no, to be brought to all this required a great soul. For be it so, that as far as the doctrines went, they were rendered more apt to receive these by their want of intelligence: but to accept such a virtuous, self-denying rule of life, how could that be owing to any defect of understanding? So that the less understanding the person may have, if nevertheless he is persuaded to things, to which even philosophers were unable to persuade their fellow-philosophers, the greater the wonder—when women and slaves are persuaded of these truths, and prove it by their actions, of which same truths the Platos and all the rest of them were never able to persuade any man. And why say I, “any man?” Say rather, not themselves even: on the contrary, that money is not to be despised, Plato persuaded (his disciples) by getting, as he did, such an abundance of property, and golden rings, and goblets; and that the honor to be had from the many is not to be despised, this Socrates himself shows, for all that he may philosophize without end on this point: for in everything he did, he had an eye to fame. And if you were conversant with his discourses, I might go at great length into this subject, and show what a deal of insincerity (eirwneian) there was in them,—if at least we may believe what his disciple says of him,—and how that all his writings have their ground-work in vainglory. But, leaving them, let us direct the discourse to our own selves. For besides the things that have been said, there is this also to be added, that men were persuaded of these things to their own peril. Be not thou therefore shameless, but let us think over that night, the stocks, and the hymns of praise. This let us also do, and we shall open for ourselves—not a prison, but—heaven. If we pray, we shall be able even to open heaven. Elias both shut and opened heaven by prayer. (James 5,17). There is a prison in heaven also. “Whatsoever,” He saith, “ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven.” (Mt 16,19). Let us pray by night, and we shall loose these bonds. For that prayers loose sins, let that widow convince us, let that friend convince us, who at that untimely hour of the night persists and knocks (Lc 11,5): let Cornelius convince us, for, “thy prayers,” it says, “and thine alms are come up before God.” (ch. 10,4). Let Paul convince us, who says, “Now she that is a widow indeed and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications night and day.” (1Tm 5,5). If he speaks thus of a widow, a weak woman, much more would he of men. I have both before discoursed to you on this, and now repeat it: let us arouse ourselves during the night: though thou make not many prayers, make one with watchfulness, and it is enough, I ask no more: and if not at midnight, at any rate at the first dawn. Show that the night is not only for the body, but also for the soul: do not suffer it to pass idly, but make this return to thy Master: nay rather (the benefit) itself returns to thee. Say, if we fall into any difficult strait, to whom do we not make request? and if we soon obtain our request, we breathe freely again. What a boon were it for thee, to have a friend to go to with thy request, who shall be ready to take it as a kindness, and to be obliged to thee for thy asking? What a boon, not to have to go about and seek one to ask of, but to find one ready? to have no need of others through whom thou mayest solicit? What could be greater than this? Since here is One who then does most, when we make not our requests of others than Himself: just as a sincere friend then most complains of us for not trusting in his friendship, when we ask of others to make request to him. Thus also let us act.13 “But what,” you will ask, “if I should have offended Him?” Cease to give offence, and weep, and so draw near to Him, and thou wilt quickly render Him propitious as to thy former sins. Say only, I have offended: say it from thy soul and with a sincere mind, and all things are remitted to thee. Thou dost not so much desire thy sins to be forgiven, as He desires to forgive thee thy sins. In proof that thou dost not so desire it, consider that thou hast no mind either to practice vigils, or to give thy money freely: but He, that He might forgive our sins, spared not His Only-begotten and True Son, the partner of His throne. Seest thou how He more desires to forgive thee thy sins (than thou to be forgiven )? Then let us not be slothful, nor put off this any longer. He is merciful and good: only let us give Him an opportunity.
And (even) this (He seeks), only that we may not become unprofitable, since even without this He could have freed us from them: but like as we (with the same view) devise and arrange many things for our servants to do, so does He in the matter of our salvation. “Let us anticipate His face with thanksgiving.” (Ps 95,2. “Let us come before His presence.” E.V)., since He is good and kind. But if thou call not upon Him, what will He do? Thou dost not choose to say, Forgive; thou wilt not say it from thy heart, but with thy mouth only. What is it, to call in truth? (To call) with purpose of heart, with earnestness, with a sincere mind; just as men say of perfumes, “This is genuine, and has nothing spurious,” so here. He who truly calls on Him, he who truly prays to Him, continually attends to it, and desists not, until he obtain (his request): but he who does it in a merely formal manner (afosioumeno"), and even this only by way of fulfilling a law, does not call in truth. Whosoever thou art, say not only, “I am a sinner,” but be earnest also to rid thyself of this character; say not this only, but also grieve. If thou grievest, thou art in earnest: if thou art not in earnest, thou grievest not: if thou grievest not, thou triflest. What sort of man is he who shall say, “I am sick,” and not to do all to be freed from his sickness? A mighty weapon is Prayer. “If ye,” saith the Lord, “know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more your Father?” (Lc 11,13). Then wherefore art thou unwilling to approach Him? He loves thee, He is of more power than all besides. Both willing is He and able, what is there to hinder? Nothing. But then, on our part, let us draw near with faith, draw near, offering the gifts that He desires, forgetfulness of wrongs, kindness, meekness. Though thou be a sinner, with boldness shalt thou ask of Him forgiveness of thy sins, if thou canst show that this has been done by thyself: but though thou be righteous, and possess not this virtue of forgetfulness of injuries, thou art none the better for it. It cannot be that a man who has forgiven his neighbor should not obtain perfect forgiveness: for God is beyond comparison more merciful than we. What sayest thou? If thou sayest, "I have been wronged, I have subdued my anger, I have endured the onset of wrath because of Thy command, and dost Thou not forgive?14 Full surely He will forgive: and this is plain to all. Therefore let us purge our soul from all resentment. This is sufficient for us, in order that we may be heard; and let us pray with watching and much perseverance, that having enjoyed His bountiful mercy, we may be found worthy of the good things promised, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, be glory, might, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen).
1 Mod. text hmei" de onde en apaloi" k. t. l. but Sav. justly rejects oude, and even Ben. omits it in the Latin.
2 The explanation of Chrys. that Paul and Silas could not have known that the doors were open, else they would have escaped, is clearly out of harmony with the narrative; The unwillingness of Paul (v. 37) to go forth from the prison without an explicit vindication from the authorities who had imprisoned him without just cause, shows that he was not bent upon an escape. This would be all the more true in view of the miraculous interposition in their behalf.—G. B. S).
3 i.e. “The miracle amazed him. but he was more astonished at Paul’s boldness, was more moved to admiration by his kindness.” But besides the transposition marked by the letters, the clauses of (a)may perhaps be better re-arranged thus: “He more marvelled at Paul’s boldness, in not escaping etc., he was amazed at his kindness in hindering,” etc.
4 The report seems to be defective, but the meaning may be, that in taking this high tone with the magistrates the Apostle was not influenced by personal feelings; but acted thus for the assurance of Lydia and the other believers, by letting it be seen that they were not set at liberty upon their own request. In the recapitulation another consideration is mentioned, viz. in respect of the jailer.—Mod. text “perhaps for the sake of Lydia and the other brethren: or also putting them in fear that they may not, etc., and that they may set the others also in a posture of boldness.” Then, Triploun, agaphtoi, k. t. l. the third point being kai dhmosia. We reject this kai though all our mss. have it. We have also transferred the agaphtoi, which is out of place here to the beginning of the recapitulation.
5 ta aforhta ergazomenoi: perhaps, “in imagination wreaking upon their enemies an intolerable revenge.”
6 Mod. text "And why did not Paul shout before this? The man was all in a tumult of perturbation, and would not have received (what was said). Therefore when he saw him about to kill himself, he is beforehand with him, and shouts saying, “We are all here.” Therefore also, “Having asked,” it says. “for lights, he sprang in, and fell before Paul and Silas.” The keeper falls at the feet of the prisoner. And he brings them out, and says, “Sirs,” etc. But the question, Dia ti mh projtoutou; evidently cannot be meant for ebohsen o IIaulo". The meaning is, “Why did he not sooner ask, ‘What shall I do to be saved?’ Observe his first impulse is to kill himself—such was the tumult of his thoughts. Suddennly awaked, he sees the doors open, and supposes the prisoners were escaped. Therefore Paul shouted to him, to reassure him on that point, until he could satisfy himself with his own eyes: as, it says, ‘He called for lights,’ for that purpose: and then indeed, relieved of that fears he is overcome with awe: and falls down at the feet of his prisoner saying, ‘What shall I do to be saved?’ Why, what had they said? Nothing more: but the religious awe now seizes him: for he does not think all is right and no need to trouble himself any further, because he finds himself safe from the temporal danger.” For this is the meaning of ora aupon ouk, epeioh dieswqh, epi toutw stergonta, alla thn dunamin ekplagenta: not as Ben. vide illum non ab hoc diligere quod servatus esset, sed quod de virtute obstupesceret.
7 This is the sequel to what was said above: “It is not so much miracles that overpower or convince us (airei), as the sense of benefits received.” For, they saw the miracle of dispossession wrought upon the girl, and they cast the doers of it into prison: whereas here the jailer sees but the doors open (the prisoners safe, the Apostle’s manliness in not escaping, and their kindness to himself), and he is converted. The doors were open, and the door of his heart (like Lydia’s) was opened: the prisoner’s chains were loosed, and worse chains were loosed from himself: he called for a light, but the true light was lighted in his own heart.
8 hyen ekeino" to fw". Edd. (from D. F)). ekeino.
9 eqreye kai etrafh: probably meaning the Holy Eucharist immediately after the baptism. So above p. 219, tosauta musthria, in the case of Lydia.
10 Edd. “Having believed, that he may not seem to be liberated,” etc., as if this (b)were said of the jailer. (Here again the method of the derangement 1, 3, 5: 2, 4, 6: as in p. 213, note 5, 220, note 2).
11 In two respects the treatment of Paul and Silas at Philippi was unjust. It was contrary to natural justice to punish them “uncondemned”—without a fair and impartial trial. Moreover the Lex Valeria (254 U. C). forbade the punishment of Roman citizens with whips and rods. It was this last violation of law which, upon reflection, the magistrates wished to hush up. Hence their eager desire that Paul and Silas go free forthwith. Every hour of detention was an accusation against themselves.—G. B. S.
12 All our mss. desmofulako", but Savile desmwtou. adopted by Ben. We retain the old reading—Mod. text “What say the heathen? how being a prisoner,” etc. Then: “Kai tina, fhsi, peisqhnai ecrhn, h miaron k. t. l. And what man (say they) was (more) to be persuaded than, etc. Moreover, they allege this also: for who but a tanner ti" gar h burseu"). …believed?”—We take tina to be acc. plur. sc). dogmata. The heathen objection is this, You may see by the character of the first converts, such as this jailer, what is the character of the doctrines: “Since what doctrines behooved (a man like this) to be persuaded of?” St. Chrys. says, “Let us bear in mind this jailer—not to dwell upon the miracle, but to consider how his prisoner persuaded him: how he induced a man like this not only to receive the doctrines, but to submit to the self-denying rule of the Gospel. The heathen raise a prejudice against the Gospel from the very fact, that such men as these were converted. What, say they, must be the teaching to be received by a wretched creature like this jailer? The doctrines were well matched with their first converts, tanner, purple-seller, eunuch,” etc. (So in the remarkable argument on this same subject in the Morale of Hom. vii). in 1 Cor. p. 62, E. “but it is objected: Those who were convinced by them were slaves, women, nurses, eunuchs:” whence it seems, as here, that the case of the eunuch, Ac 8,was made a reproach, as if he must needs be a person of inferior understanding)).
13 outw kai hmei": which mod. text needlessly expands into: “(Thus also we) act in the case of those who ask of us: we then most oblige them, when they approach us by themselves not by others.”
14 kai su ouk afih"; Mod. text, ouk afhei kai auto"; “will not He also forgive?”
Chrysostom on Acts 3500