RPM, Volume 18, Number 8, February 14 to February 20, 2016

Barnes' New Testament Notes

Notes on the New Testament Explanatory and Practical
Part 42

By Albert Barnes

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 1

Verse 1. The church that was at Antioch. See Barnes "Ac 2:20".

Certain prophets. See Barnes "Ac 11:27".

And teachers. Teachers are several times mentioned in the New Testament as an order of ministers, 1 Co 12:28,29; Eph 4:11; 2 Pe 2:11.

Their precise rank and duty are not known. It is probable that those here mentioned as prophets were the same persons as the teachers. They might discharge both offices, predicting future events, and instructing the people.

As Barnabas. Barnabas was a preacher, Ac 4:35,36; 9:27; 11:22,26; and it is not improbable that the names "prophets and teachers" here simply designate the preachers of the gospel.

Simeon that was called Niger. Niger is a Latin name meaning black. Why the name was given is not known. Nothing more is known of him than is here mentioned.

Lucius of Cyrene. Cyrene was in Africa. See Barnes "Mt 27:32".

He is afterwards mentioned as with the apostle Paul when he wrote the Epistle to the Romans, Ro 16:21.

And Manaen. He is not elsewhere mentioned in the New Testament.

Which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch. Herod Antipas, not Herod Agrippa. Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, Lu 3:1. The word here translated, "which had been brought up"—suntrofov—denotes one who is educated or nourished at the same time with another. It is not elsewhere used in the New Testament. He might have been connected with the royal family; and being nearly of the same age, was educated by the father of Herod Antipas with him. He was therefore a man of rank and education, and his conversion shows that the gospel was not confined entirely in its influence to the poor.

And Saul. Saul was an apostle; and yet he is here mentioned among the "prophets and teachers." Showing that these words denote ministers of the gospel in general, without reference to any particular order or rank.

{2} "Manean" "Herod's foster brother"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 2

Verse 2. As they ministered to the Lord. It is probable that this took place on some day set apart for fasting and prayer. The expression "ministered to the Lord" denotes, as they were engaged in prayer to the Lord, or as they were engaged in Divine service. The Syriac thus renders the passage.

The Holy Ghost said. Evidently by direct revelation.

Separate me. Set apart to me, or for my service. It does not mean to ordain, but simply to designate, or appoint to this specific work.

For the work whereunto I have called them. Not the apostolic office, for Saul was called to that by the express revelation of Jesus Christ, Ga 1:12, and Barnabas was not an apostle. The "work" to which they were now set apart was that of preaching the gospel in the regions round about Antioch. It was not any permanent office in the church, but was a temporary designation to a missionary enterprise in extending the gospel especially through Asia Minor and the adjacent regions. Accordingly, when, in the fulfillment of this appointment, they had travelled through Seleucia, Cyprus, Paphos, Pamphylia, Pisidia, etc., they returned to Antioch, having fulfilled the work to which they were separated. See Ac 14:26,27.

Whereunto I have called them.

This proves that they received their commission to this work directly from God the Holy Spirit. It is possible that Paul and Barnabas had been influenced by the Spirit to engage in this work, but they were to be sent forth by the concurrence and designation of the church.

{b} "Separate me" Ga 1:13

{c} "for the work" 1 Ti 2:7

{+} "whereunto" "To which"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 3

Verse 3. And when they had fasted. They were fasting when they were commanded to set them apart. Yet this probably refers to an appointed day of prayer, with reference to this very purpose. The first formal mission to the Gentiles was an important event in the church; and they engaged in this appointment with deep solemnity, and with humbling themselves before God.

And prayed. This enterprise was a new one. The gospel had been preached to the Jews, to Cornelius, and to the Gentiles at Antioch. But there had been no solemn, and public, and concerted plan of sending it to the Gentiles, or of appointing a mission to the heathen. It was a new event, and was full of danger and hardships. The primitive church felt the need of Divine direction and aid in the great work. Two missionaries were to be sent forth amongst strangers, to be exposed to perils by sea and land; and the commencement of the enterprise demanded prayer. The church humbled itself; and this primitive missionary society sought, as all others should do, the Divine blessing, to attend the labours of those employed in this work. The result showed that the prayer was heard.

And laid their hands on them. That is, those who are mentioned in Ac 13:1. This was not to set them apart to the apostolic office. Saul was chosen by Christ himself, and there is no evidence that any of the apostles were ordained by the imposition of hands. See Barnes "Ac 1:26" See Barnes "Mt 10:1" See Barnes "Lu 6:12-16".

And Barnabas was not an apostle in the original and peculiar sense of the word. Nor is it meant that this was an ordination to the ministry, to the office of preaching the gospel. For both had been engaged in this before. Saul received his commission directly from the Saviour, and began at once to preach, Ac 9:20; Ga 1:11-17. Barnabas had preached at Antioch, and was evidently recognized as a preacher by the apostles, Ac 9:27; 11:22,23.

It follows, therefore, that this was not an ordination in the doctrinal sense of this term, either Episcopal or Presbyterian, but was a designation to a particular work—a work of vast importance; strictly a missionary appointment by the church, under the authority of the Holy Ghost. The act of laying hands on any person was practised, not only in ordination, but in conferring a favour; and in setting apart for any purpose. See Le 3:2,8,13; 4:4, Le 4:29; 16:21; Nu 8:12; Mr 5:23; 16:18; Mt 21:46.

It means, in this case, that they appointed them to a particular field of labour, and by laying hands on them they implored the blessing of God to attend them.

They sent them away. The church by its teachers sent them forth under the direction of the Holy Ghost. All missionaries are thus sent by the church; and the church should not forget its ambassadors in their great and perilous work.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 4

Verse 4. Being sent forth by the Holy Ghost. Having been called to this work by the Holy Spirit, and being under his direction.

Departed unto Seleucia. This city was situated at the mouth of the river Orontes, where it falls into the Mediterranean. Antioch was also built on this river, some distance from its mouth.

They sailed to Cyprus. An island in the Mediterranean, not far from Seleucia. See Barnes "Ac 4:36".

{*} "Ghost" "Spirit"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 5

Verse 5. And when they were at Salamis. This was the principal city and seaport of Cyprus. It was situated on the south-east part of the island, and was afterwards called Constantia.

In the synagogues of the Jews. Jews were living in all the countries adjacent to Judea; and in those countries they had synagogues. The apostles uniformly preached first to them.

And they had also John to their minister. John Mark, Ac 12:12. He was their attendant; he was with them as a companion, yet not pretending to be equal to them in office. They had been specifically designated to this work. He was with them as their friend and travelling companion; perhaps also employed in making the needful arrangements for their comfort, and for the supply of their wants in their travels.

{+} "minister" "For their attendant"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 6

Verse 6. And when they had gone through the isle. The length of the island, according to Strabo, was one thousand and four hundred stadia, or nearly one hundred and seventy miles.

Unto Paphos. Paphos was a city at the western extremity of the island. It was the residence of the proconsul, and was distinguished for a splendid temple erected to Venus, who was worshipped throughout the island. Cyprus was fabled to be the place of the birth of this goddess. It had, besides Paphos and Salamis, several towns of note—Citium, the birth-place of Zeno; Amathus, sacred to Venus, etc. Its present capital is Nicosia. Whether Paul preached at any of these places is not recorded. The island is supposed formerly to have had a million of inhabitants.

A certain sorcerer. Greek—Magus, or magician. See Ac 8:9.

A false prophet. Pretending to be endowed with the gift of prophecy; or a man, probably, who pretended to be inspired.

Bar-jesus. The word Bar is Syriac, and means son. Jesus, or Joshua, was not an uncommon name among the Jews. The name was given from his father —son of Jesus, or Joshua; as Bar-jonas, son of Jonas.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 7

Verse 7. Which was with the deputy. Or with the proconsul. Cyprus was at this time subject to the Roman empire, and was governed by a proconsul appointed by the emperor. The provinces subject to Rome were governed by persons who held their office originally from the consul, or chief magistrate of the Roman republic. Men of the rank of senators were usually appointed to these offices. See on this subject Lardner's Credibility, part i., chap. i., & 11, where he fully vindicated the accuracy of the appellation which is here given to Sergius by Luke.

Sergius Paulus, a prudent man. The word here rendered prudent means intelligent, wise, learned. It also may have the sense of candid, and may have been given to this man because he was of large and liberal views, of a philosophic and inquiring turn of mind, and was willing to obtain knowledge from any source. Hence he had entertained the Jews; and hence he was willing also to listen to Barnabas and Saul. It is not often that men in office, and men of rank, are thus willing to listen to the instructions of the professed ministers of God.

Who called for Barnabas and Saul. It is probable that they had preached in Paphos, and Sergius was desirous himself of hearing the import of their new doctrine.

And desired to hear, etc. There is no evidence that he then wished to listen to this as Divine truth, or that he was anxious about his own salvation, but rather as a speculative inquiry. It was a professed characteristic of many ancient philosophers to be willing to receive instruction from any quarter. Comp. Ac 17:19,20.

{+} "prudent" "well-informed"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 8

Verse 8. But Elymas the sorcerer, for so is his name by interpretation. Elymas the magician. Elymas is the interpretation, not of the name Bar-jesus, but of the word rendered the sorcerer. It is an Arabic word, and means the same as magus. It seems that he was better known by this foreign name than by his own.

Withstood them. Resisted them. He was sensible that if the influence of Saul and Barnabas should be extended over the proconsul, that he would be seen to be an impostor, and his power be at an end. His interest, therefore, led him to oppose the gospel, His own popularity was at stake; and being governed by this, he opposed the gospel of God. The love of popularity and power, the desire of retaining some political influence, is often a strong reason why men oppose the gospel.

To turn away the deputy from the faith. To prevent the influence of the truth on his mind; or to prevent his becoming the friend and patron of the Christians.

{a} "withstood" 2 Ti 3:8

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 9

Verse 9. Then Saul, (who also is called Paul.) This is the last time that this apostle is called Saul. Henceforward he is designated by the title by which he is usually known, as Paul. When, or why, this change occurred in the name, has been a subject on which commentators are not agreed. From the fact that the change in the name is here first intimated, it would seem probable that it was first used in relation to him at this time. By whom the name was given him—whether he assumed it himself, or whether it was first given him by Christians or by Romans— is not intimated. The name is of Roman origin. In the Latin language the name Paulus signifies little, dwarfish; and some have conjectured that it was given by his parents to denote that he was small when born; others, that it was assumed or conferred in subsequent years because he was little in stature. The name is not of the same signification as the name Saul. This signifies one that is asked, or desired. After all the conjectures on this subject, it is probable,

(1.) that this name was first used here; for before this, even after his conversion, he is uniformly called Saul.

(2.) That it was given by the Romans, as being a name with which they were more familiar, and one that was more consonant with their language and pronunciation. It was made by the change of a single letter; and probably because the name Paul was common among them, and pronounced perhaps with greater facility.

(3.) Paul suffered himself to be called by this name, as he was employed chiefly among the Gentiles. It was common for names to undergo changes quite as great as this, without our being able to specify any particular cause, in passing from one language to another. Thus the Hebrew name Jochanan, among the Greeks and Latins was Johannes, with the French it is Jean, with the Dutch Hans, and with us John.—Doddridge. Thus Onias becomes Menelaus; Hillel, Pollio; Jakim, Alcimus; Silas, Silvanus, etc.— Grotius.

Filled with the Holy Ghost. Inspired to detect his sin; to denounce Divine judgment; and to inflict punishment on him. See Barnes "Ac 2:4".

Set his eyes on him. Looked at him intently.

{*} "Ghost" "Spirit"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 10

Verse 10. O full of all subtilty and mischief. The word subtilty denotes deceit and fraud; and implies that he was practicing an imposition, and that he knew it. The word rendered mischief, radiourgiav denotes, properly, facility of acting, and then sleight of hand; sly, cunning arts, by which one imposes on another, and deceives him with a fraudulent intention. It is not elsewhere used in the New Testament. The art of Elymas consisted probably in sleight of hand, legerdemain, or trick, aided by skill in the abstruse sciences, by which the ignorant might be easily imposed on. See Barnes "Ac 8:9".

Child of the devil. Being under his influence; practicing his arts; promoting his designs by deceit and imposture, so that he may be called your father. See Barnes "Joh 8:44".

Satan is here represented as the author of deceit, and the father of lies.

Enemy of all righteousness. Practicing deceit and iniquity, and thus opposed to righteousness and honesty. A man who lives by wickedness will, of course, be the foe of every form of integrity. A man who lives by fraud will be opposed to the truth; a pander to the vices of men will hate the rules of chastity and purity; a manufacturer or vender of ardent spirits will be the enemy of temperance societies.

Wilt thou not cease to pervert. In what way he had opposed Paul and Barnabas is not known. Probably it might be by misrepresenting their doctrines; by representing them as apostate Jews; and thus by retarding or hindering the progress of the gospel. The expression, "wilt thou not cease," implies that he had been engaged sedulously in doing this, probably from the commencement of their work in the city.

The right ways of the Lord. The straight paths, or doctrines of the Christian religion, in opposition to the crooked and perverse arts of deceivers and impostors. Straight paths denote integrity, sincerity, truth, Jer 31:9; Heb 12:13. Comp. Isa 40:3,4; 42:16; Lu 3:5.

Crooked ways denote the ways of the sinner, the deceiver, the impostor, De 32:5; Ps 125:5; Pr 2:15; Isa 59:8; Php 2:15.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 11

Verse 11. The hand of the Lord is upon thee. God shall punish thee. By this sudden and miraculous punishment, he would be awed and humbled; and the proconsul and others would be convinced that he was an impostor, and that the gospel was true. His wickedness deserved such a punishment; and at the same time that due punishment was inflicted, it was designed that the gospel should be extended by this means. In all this there was the highest evidence that Paul was under the inspiration of God. He was full of the Holy Ghost; he detected the secret feelings and desires of the heart of Elymas, and he inflicted on him a punishment that could have proceeded from none but God. That the apostles had the power of inflicting punishment, in many cases, is apparent from various places in the New Testament, 1 Co 5:5; 1 Ti 1:20. The punishment inflicted on Elymas, also, would be highly emblematic of the darkness and perverseness of his conduct.

Not seeing the sun for a season. For how long a time this blindness was to continue, is nowhere specified. It was, however, in mercy ordained that the blindness should not be permanent and final. Nothing would be more likely to lead him to reflection and repentance than such a state of blindness. It was such a manifest proof that God was opposed to him; it was such a sudden Divine judgment; and it so completely cut him off from all possibility of practicing his arts of deception, that it was adapted to bring him to repentance. Accordingly, there is a tradition in the early church that he became a Christian. Origen says, that "Paul, by a word striking him blind, by anguish converted him to godliness."—Clark.

A mist. The word here used properly denotes a darkness or obscurity of the air; a cloud, etc. But it also denotes an extinction of sight by the drying up or disturbance of the humours of the eye.—Hippocrates, as quoted by Schleusner.

And a darkness. Blindness; night. What was the precise cause or character of this miracle is not specified.

And he went about, etc. This is a striking account of the effect of the miracle. The change was so sudden, that he knew not where to go. He sought some one to guide him in the ways in which he had before been familiar. How soon can God bring down the pride of man, and make him helpless as an infant! How easily can he touch our senses, the organs of our most exquisite pleasures, and wither all our enjoyments! How dependent are we on him for the inestimable blessings of vision! And how easily can he annihilate all the sinner's pleasures, break up all his plans, and humble him in the dust! Sight is his gift; and it is a mercy unspeakably great that he does not whelm us in thick darkness, and destroy for ever all the pleasure that through this organ is conveyed to the soul.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 12

Verse 12. Then the deputy—believed. Was convinced that Elymas was an impostor, and that the doctrine of Paul was true. There seems no reason to doubt that his faith was that which is connected with eternal life; and if so, it is an evidence that the gospel was not always confined to the poor, and to the obscure ranks of life.

At the doctrine of the Lord. The word doctrine here seems to denote, not the teaching or instruction, but the wonderful effects which were connected with the doctrine. It was particularly the miracle with which he was astonished; but he might have been also deeply impressed and amazed at the purity and sublimity of the truths which were now expanded to his view. We learn nothing further respecting him in the New Testament.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 13

Verse 13. Paul and his company. Those with him—Barnabas and John —and perhaps others who had been converted at Paphos; for it was common for man)' of the converts to Christianity to attend on the apostles in their travels. See Ac 9:30.

Loosed from Paphos. Departed from Paphos.

They came to Perga and Pamphylia. Pamphylia was a province of Asia Minor, lying over against Cyprus, having Cilicia east, Lycia west, Pisidia north, and the Mediterranean south. Perga was the metropolis of Pamphylia, and was situated, not on the sea coast, but on the river Cestus, at some distance from its mouth. There was on a mountain near it a celebrated temple of Diana.

And John departing from them, etc. Why he departed from them is unknown. It might have been from fear of danger; or from alarm in travelling so far into unknown regions. But it is plain, from Ac 15:38, that it was from some cause which was deemed blameworthy, and that his conduct now was such as to make Paul unwilling again to have him as a companion.

{a} "John departing from him" Ac 15:38

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 14

Verse 14. They came to Antioch in Pisidia. Pisidia was a province of Asia Minor, and was situated north of Pamphylia. Antioch was not in Pisidia, but within the limits of Phrygia; but it belonged to Pisidia, and was called Antioch of Pisidia to distinguish it from Antioch in Syria. Pliny, Nat. Hist. 5, 27. Strabo, 12, p. 577.— (Kuinoel. Robinson's Calmet.)

Went into the synagogue. Though Paul and Barnabas were on a special mission to the Gentiles, yet they availed themselves of every opportunity to offer the gospel to the Jews first.

{b} "synagogue" Ac 18:4

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 15

Verse 15. And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets. See Barnes "Lu 4:16".

The rulers of the synagogue. These were persons who had the general charge of the synagogue and its service, to keep everything in order, and to direct the affairs of public worship. They designated the individuals who were to read the law; and called on those whom they pleased to address the people, and had the power also of inflicting punishment, and of excommunicating, etc.—(Schleusner.) Mr 5:22,35,36,38; Lu 8:49; Lu 13:14; Ac 18:8,17.

Seeing that Paul and Barnabas were Jews, though strangers, they sent to them, supposing it probable that they would wish to address their brethren.

Men and brethren. An affectionate manner of commencing a discourse, recognizing them as their own countrymen, and as originally of the same religion.

Say on. Greek, Speak.

{d} "word of exhortation" Heb 13:22

{*} "say on" "Speak"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 16

Verse 16. Men of Israel. Jews. The design of this discourse of Paul was to introduce to them the doctrine that Jesus was the Messiah. To do this, he evinced his usual wisdom and address. To have commenced at once on this would have probably excited their prejudice and rage. He therefore pursued a train of argument which showed that he was a firm believer in the Scriptures; that he was acquainted with the history and promises of the Old Testament; and that he was not disposed to call in question the doctrines of their fathers. The passage which had been read, perhaps De 1, had probably given occasion for him to pursue this train of thought. By going over, in a summary way, their history, and recounting the former dealings of God with them, he showed them that he believed the Scriptures; that a promise had been given of a Messiah; and that he had actually come according to the promise.

Ye that fear God. Probably proselytes of the gate, who had not yet been circumcised, but who had renounced idolatry, and were accustomed to worship with them in their synagogues.

Give audience. Hear.

{+} "audience" "hearken"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 17

Verse 17. The God of this people. Who has manifested himself as the peculiar friend and protector of this nation. This implied a belief that he had been particularly their God; a favourite doctrine of the Jews, and one that would conciliate their favour towards Paul.

Of Israel. The Jews.

Chose our fathers. Selected the nation to be a chosen and peculiar people to himself, De 7:6,7.

And exalted the people. Raised them up from a low and depressed state of bondage. He elevated them from a prostrate state of slavery to freedom, and to peculiar privileges as a nation.

When they dwelt as strangers in Egypt. en th paroikia. This properly refers to their dwelling there as foreigners. They were always strangers there in a strange land. It was not their home. They never mingled with the people; never became constituent parts of the government; never united with their usages and laws. They were a strange, separate, depressed people there; not less so than Africans are strangers, and foreigners, and a depressed and degraded people in this land, [U.S.] Ge 36:7; Ex 6:4; 22:21; 23:9; Le 19:34; De 10:19.

And with an high arm. This expression denotes great power. The arm denotes strength, as that by which we perform anything. A high arm, an arm lifted up, or stretched out, denotes that strength exerted to the utmost. The children of Israel are represented as having been delivered with an "outstretched arm," De 26:8; Ex 6:6. "With a strong hand," Ex 6:1. Reference is made in these places to the plagues inflicted on Egypt, by which the Israelites were delivered; to their passage through the Red Sea; to their victories over their enemies, etc.

{a} "our fathers" De 7:6,7

{b} "as strangers" Ps 105:23

{*} "in the land of Egypt" "sojourned"

{c} "high arm" Ex 13:14,16

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 18

Verse 18. And about the time of forty years. They were this time going from Egypt to the land of Canaan, Ex 16:35; Nu 33:38.

Suffered he their manners. This passage has been very variously rendered. See the margin. Syriac, "He nourished them," etc. Arabic, He blessed them, and nourished them," etc. The word is not elsewhere used in the New Testament. The word properly means, to tolerate, or endure the conduct of any one, implying that that conduct is evil, and tends to provoke to punishment. This is doubtless its meaning here. Probably Paul referred to the passage in De 1:31: "The Lord thy God bare thee." But instead of this word, etropoforhsen, many Mss. read etrofoforhsen, he sustained or nourished. This reading was followed by the Syriac, Arabic, and has been admitted by Griesbach into the text. This is also found in the Septuagint, in De 1:31, which place Paul doubtless referred to. This would well suit the connexion of the passage; and a change of a single letter might easily have occurred in a Ms. It adds to the probability that this is the true reading, that it accords with De 1:31; Nu 11:12; De 32:10.

It is furthermore not probable that Paul would have commenced a discourse by reminding them of the obstinacy and wickedness of the nation. Such a course would rather tend to exasperate than to conciliate; but by reminding them of the mercies of God to them, and slowing them that God had been their protector, he was better fitting them for his main purpose—that of showing them the kindness of the God of their fathers in sending to them a Saviour.

In the wilderness. The desert through which they passed in going from Egypt to Canaan.

{d} "forty years" Ex 13:14,16

{1} "suffered he their manners" "etropoforhsen, perhaps for etrofoforhsen, bore or fed them, as a nurse beareth or feedeth her child, De 1:31 according to the Seventy; and so Chrysostam.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 19

Verse 19. And when he had destroyed. Subdued; cast out; or extirpated, as nations. It does not mean that all were put to death, for many of them were left in the land; but that they were subdued as nations—they were broken up, and overcome. De 7:1: "And hath cast out many nations before them," etc.

Seven nations. The Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, De 7:1; Jos 3:10; Ne 9:8.

In the land of Chanaan. The whole land was called by the name of one of the principal nations. This was the promised land; the holy land, etc.

He divided, etc. See an account of this in Jos 14, Jos 15. The lot was often used among the Jews to determine important questions. See Barnes "Ac 1:26".

{e} "seven nations" De 7:1

{f} "Chanaan" Jos 14:1

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 20

Verse 20. He gave unto them judges. Men who were raised up in an extraordinary manner to administer the affairs of the nation, to defend it from enemies, etc. See Jud 2:16.

About the space of our hundred and fifty years. This is a most difficult passage, and has exercised all the ingenuity of chronologists. The ancient versions agree with the present Greek text. The difficulty has been to reconcile it with what is said in 1 Ki 6:1: "And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel .... he began to build the house of the Lord." Now if, to the forty years that the children of Israel were in the wilderness, there be added the four hundred and fifty said in Acts to have been passed under the administration of the judges, and about seventeen years of the time of Joshua, forty for Samuel and the reign of Saul together, and forty for the reign of David, and three of Solomon before he began to build the temple, the sum will be five hundred and ninety years, a period greater by one hundred and ten years than that mentioned in 1 Ki 6:1. Various ways have been proposed to meet the difficulty. Doddridge renders it, "After these transactions, [which lasted] four hundred and fifty years, he gave them a series of judges," etc., reckoning from the birth of Isaac, and supposing that Paul meant to refer to this whole time. But to this there are serious objections.

(1.) It is a forced and constrained interpretation, and one manifestly made to meet a difficulty.

(2.) There is no propriety in commencing this period at the birth of Isaac. That was in no manner remarkable, so far as Paul's narrative was concerned; and Paul had not even referred to it. This same solution is offered also by Calovius, Mill, Lud, and De Dieu. Luther and Beza think it should be read three hundred, instead of four hundred. But this is a mere conjecture, without any authority from Mss. Vitringa and some others suppose that the text has been corrupted by some transcriber, who has inserted this without authority. But there is no evidence of this; and the Mss. and ancient versions are uniform. None of these explanations are satisfactory. In the solution of the difficulty we may remark,

(1.) that nothing is more perplexing than the chronology of ancient facts. The difficulty is found in all writings; in profane as well as sacred. Mistakes are so easily made in transcribing numbers where letters are used, instead of writing the words at length, that we are not to wonder at such errors.

(2.) Paul would naturally use the chronology which was in current, common use, among the Jews. It was not his business to settle such points; but he would speak of them as they were usually spoken of, and refer to them as others did.

(3.) There is reason to believe that that which is here mentioned was the common chronology of his time. It accords remarkably with that which is used by Josephus. Thus (Antiq. b. vii. chap. iii. & 1) Josephus says expressly, that Solomon "began to build the temple in the fourth year of his reign, five hundred and ninety-two years after the Exodus out of Egypt, etc. This would allow forty years for their being in the wilderness, seventeen for Joshua, forty for Samuel and Saul, forty for the reign of David, and four hundred and fifty-two years for the time of the judges and the times of anarchy that intervened. This remarkable coincidence shows that this was the chronology which was then used, and which Paul had in view.

(4.) This chronology has the authority, also, of many eminent names. See Lightfoot, and Boyle's Lectures, chap. xx. In what way this computation of Josephus and the Jews originated, it is not necessary here to inquire. It is a sufficient, solution of the difficulty that Paul spoke in their usual manner, without departing from his regular object by settling a point of chronology.

{g} "judges" Jud 2:16

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 21

Verse 21. And afterward they desired a king. See 1 Sa 8:5; Hos 13:10. It was predicted that they would have a king, De 17:14,15.

Saul the son of Cis. Cis is the Greek mode of writing the Hebrew name Kish. In the Old Testament it is uniformly written Kish; and it is to be regretted that this has not been retained in the New Testament. See 1 Sa 9:1.

By the space of forty years. During forty years. The Old Testament has not mentioned the time during which Saul reigned. Josephus says (Antiq. b. vi. chap. xiv & 9) that he reigned eighteen years while Samuel was alive, and twenty-two years after his death. But Dr. Doddridge (Note in loco) has shown that this cannot be correct, and that he probably reigned, as some copies of Josephus have it, but two years after the death of Samuel. Many critics suppose that the term of forty years here mentioned, includes also the time in which Samuel judged the people. This supposition does not violate the text in this place, and may be probable. See Doddridge and Grotius on this place.

{h} "desired a king" 1 Sa 8:5

{i} "Saul, the son of Cis" 1 Sa 8:5

{+} "space of forty years" "during"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 22

Verse 22. And when he had removed him. This was done because he rebelled against God in sparing the sheep and oxen and valuable property of Amalek, together with Agag the king, when he was commanded to destroy all, 1 Sa 15:8-23. He was put to death in a battle with the Philistines, 1 Sa 22:1-6. The phrase, "when he removed him," refers probably to his rejection as a king, and not to his death; for David was anointed king before the death of Saul, and almost immediately after the rejection of Saul on account of his rebellion in the business of Amalek. See 1 Sa 6:12,13.

He gave testimony. He bore witness, 1 Sa 13:14.

I have found David, etc. This is not quoted literally, but contains the substance of what is expressed in various places. Comp. 1 Sa 13:14, with Ps 89:20; 1 Sa 16:1,12.

A man after mine own heart. This expression is found in 1 Sa 13:14. The connexion shows, that it means simply a man who would not be rebellious and disobedient as Saul was, but would do his will, and keep his commandments. This refers, doubtless, rather to the public than to the private character of David; or to his character as a king. It means, that he would make the will of God the great rule and law of his reign, in contradistinction from Saul, who, as a king, had disobeyed God. At the same time it is true that the prevailing character of David, as a pious, humble, devoted man, was, that he was a man after God's own heart, and was beloved by him as a saint and a holy man. He had faults; he committed sin; but who is free from it? He was guilty of great offences; but he also evinced, in a degree equally eminent, repentance, Ps 51 and not less in his private than his public character did he evince those traits which were prevailingly such as accorded with the heart, i.e., the earnest desires of God.

Which shall fulfil all my will. Saul had not done it. He had disobeyed God in a case where he had received an express command. The characteristic of David would be, that he would obey the commands of God. That David did this—that he maintained the worship of God, opposed idolatry, and sought to promote universal obedience to God among the people—is expressly recorded of him. 1 Ki 14:8,9: "And thou [Jeroboam] hast not been as my servant David, who kept my commandments, and who followed me with all his heart, to do that only which was right in mine eyes," etc., 1 Ki 15:3,5.

{a} "when he had removed him" 1 Sa 31:6

{b} "David to be their king" 2 Sa 5:3

{c} "a man after mine own heart" 1 Sa 13:14

{*} "all my will"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 23

Verse 23. Of this man's seed. Of his posterity.

According to his promise. See Barnes "Ac 2:30"

Raised unto Israel. See Barnes "Ac 2:30"

A Saviour, Jesus. See Barnes "Mt 1:21"

{d} "his promise" Ps 132:11

{e} "a Saviour, Jesus" Mt 1:21

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 24

Verse 24. When John had first preached, etc. After John had preached, and prepared the way, Mt 3.

{f} "John had first preach" Mt 3:1-11

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 25

Verse 25. And as john fulfilled his course. As he was engaged in completing his work. His ministry is called a course or race; that which was to be run or completed.

He said, etc. These are not the precise words which the evangelists have recorded, but the sense is the same. See Barnes "Joh 1:20, See Barnes "Mt 3:11".

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 26

Verse 26. Men and brethren. Paul now exhorts them to embrace the Lord Jesus as the Messiah. He uses, therefore, the most respectful and fraternal language.

Children of the stock of Abraham. Descendants of Abraham; who regard Abraham as your ancestor. He means here to address particularly the native -born Jews; and appellation is used because they valued themselves highly on account of their descent from Abraham, See Barnes "Mt 3:9"

and because the promise of the Messiah had been specially given to him.

And whosoever, etc. Proselytes. See Barnes "Ac 13:16".

Is the word of this salvation sent. This message of salvation. It was sent particularly to the Jewish people. The Saviour was sent to that nation, Mt 15:24 and the design was to offer to them first the message of life. See Barnes "Ac 13:46".

{g} "feareth God, to you" Mt 10:6

{+} "word of this salvation" "Doctrine"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 27

Verse 27. Because they knew him not. The statement in this verse is designed, not to reproach the Jews at Jerusalem, but to introduce the fact that Jesus had died, and had risen again. With great wisdom and tenderness, he speaks of his murderers in such a manner as not to exasperate, but as far as possible to mitigate their crime. There was sufficient guilt in the murder of the Son of God to overwhelm the nation with alarm, even after all that could be said to mitigate the deed. See Ac 2:23,36,37.

When Paul says, "They knew him not," he means, that they did not know him to be the Messiah, (see 1 Co 2:8) they were ignorant of the true meaning of the prophecies of the Old Testament; they regarded him as an impostor. See Barnes "Ac 3:17".

Nor yet the voices of the Prophets. Neither the meaning of the predictions in the Old Testament, respecting the Messiah. They expected a prince, and a conqueror, but did not expect a Messiah poor and despised, and a man of sorrows, and that was to die on a cross.

Which are read every sabbath day. In the synagogues. Though the Scriptures were read so constantly, yet they were ignorant of their true meaning. They were blinded by pride, and prejudice, and preconceived opinions. Men may often m this way read the Bible a good part of their lives, and, for want of attention, or of a humble mind, never understand it.

They have fulfilled them, etc. By putting him to death they have accomplished what was foretold.

{++} "voices of the Prophets" "Words"

{h} "they have fulfilled them" Lu 24:20,44

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 28

Verse 28. And though they found, etc. They found no crime which deserved death. This is conclusively shown by the trial itself. After all their efforts; after the treason of Judas; after their employing false witnesses; still no crime was laid to his charge. The sanhedrim condemned him for blasphemy; and yet they knew that they could not substantiate this charge before Pilate, and they therefore endeavoured to procure his condemnation on the ground of sedition. Comp. Lu 22:70,71, with Lu 23:1,2.

Yet desired they Pilate, etc. Mt 27:1,2; Lu 23:4,6.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 29

Verse 29. They took him down, etc. That is, it was done by the Jews, Not that it was done by those who put him to death, but by Joseph of Arimathea, a Jew, and by Nicodemus, and their companions. Paul is speaking of what was done to Jesus by the Jews at Jerusalem; and he does not affirm that the same persons put him to death and laid him in a tomb, but that all this was done by Jews. See Joh 19:38,39.

{*} "tree" "cross"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 30

Verse 30. But God raised him, See Barnes "Ac 2:23,24". s

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 31

Verse 31. And he was seen. See Barnes "Mt 28:20".

Many days Forty day, Ac 1:3.

Of them which came up. By the apostles particularly. He was seen by others; but they are especially mentioned as having been chosen for this object, to bear witness to him, and as having been particularly qualified for it.

{i} "seen many days" Ac 1:3

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 32

Verse 32. And we. We who are present. Paul and Barnabas.

Declare unto you glad tidings We preach the gospel—the good news. To a Jew, nothing could be more grateful intelligence than that the Messiah had come; to a sinner convinced of his sins, nothing can be more cheering than to hear of a Saviour.

The promises, etc. The promise here refers to all that had been spoken in the Old Testament respecting the advent, sufferings, death, and resurrection of Christ.

{a} "promise" Ro 4:13

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 33

Verse 33. God hath fulfilled. God has completed, or carried into effect, by the resurrection of Jesus. He does not say that all the promise had reference to his resurrection; but his being raised up completed or perfected the fulfillment of the promises which had been made respecting him.

In the second psalm. Ps 2:7.

Thou art my Son. This psalm has been usually understood as referring to the Messiah. See Barnes "Ac 4:25".

This day have I begotten thee. It is evident that Paul uses the expression here as implying that the Lord Jesus is called the Son of God because he raised him up from the dead; and that he means to imply that it was for this reason that he is so called in the psalm. This interpretation of an inspired apostle fixes the meaning of this passage in the psalm; and proves that it is not there used with reference to the doctrine of eternal generation, or to his incarnation, but that he is here called his Son because he was raised from the dead. And this interpretation accords with the scope of the psalm. In Ps 2:1-3, the psalmist records the combination of the rulers of the earth against the Messiah, and their efforts to cast off his reign. This was done, and the Messiah was rejected. All this pertains, not to his previous existence, but to the Messiah on the earth. In Ps 2:4,5, the psalmist shows that their efforts should not be successful; that God would laugh at their designs; that is, that their plans should not succeed. In Ps 2:6,7, he knows that the Messiah would be established as a King; that this was the fixed decree, that he had begotten him for this. All this is represented as subsequent to the raging of the heathen, and to the counsel of the kings against him, and must, therefore, refer not to his eternal generation, or his incarnation, but to something succeeding his death; that is, to his resurrection, and establishment as King at the right hand of God. This interpretation by the apostle Paul proves, therefore, that this passage is not to be used to establish the doctrine of the eternal generation of Christ. Christ is called the Son of God from various reasons. In Lu 1:35, because he was begotten by the Holy Ghost. In this place, on account of his resurrection. In Ro 1:4, it is also said, that he was declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead. See Barnes "Ro 1:4".

The resurrection from the dead is represented as in some sense the beginning of life, and it is with reference to this that the terms Son, and begotten from the dead, are used, as the birth of a child is the beginning of life. Thus Christ is said, Col 1:18, to be "the first, born from the dead" and thus in Re 1:5, he is called "the first-begotten of the dead," and with reference to this renewal or beginning of life he is called a Son. In whatever other senses he is caned a Son in the New Testament, yet it is here proved,

(1.) that he is called a Son from his resurrection; and,

(2.) that this is the sense in which the expression in the psalm is to be used.

This day. The day, in the mind of the psalmist and of Paul, of his resurrection. Many efforts have been made, and much learned criticism has been expended, to prove that this refers to eternity, or to his pre-existence. But the signification of the word, which never refers to eternity, and the connexion, and the obvious intention of the speaker, is against this. Paul understood this manifestly of the resurrection, This settles the inquiry, and this is the indispensable interpretation in the psalm itself.

Have I begotten thee. This evidently cannot be understood in a literal sense. It literally refers to the relation of an earthly father to his children; but in no such sense can it be applied to the relation of God the Father to the Son. It must therefore be figurative. The word sometimes figuratively means to produce, to cause to exist in any way. 2 Ti 2:23: "Unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender [beget] strifes." It refers also to the labours of the apostles in securing the conversion of stoners to the gospel. 1 Co 4:15: "In Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel." Phm 1:10: "Whom [Onesimus] I have begotten in my bonds." It is applied to Christians, Joh 1:13, "Which were born [begotten] not of blood, etc., but of God." Joh 3:3: "Except a man be born [begotten] again," etc. In all these places it is used in a figurative sense to denote the commencement of spiritual life by the power of God attending the truth; raising up sinners from the death of sin; or so producing spiritual life as that they should sustain to God the relation of sons. Thus he raised up Christ from the dead; imparted life to his body; by his own power restored him; and hence is said figuratively to have begotten him from the dead, and hence sustains towards the risen Saviour the relation of Father. Comp. Col 1:18; Re 1:5; Heb 1:5.

{b} "thou art my Son" Ps 2:7.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 34

Verse 34. And as concerning. In further proof of that. To show that he actually did it, he proceeds to quote another passage of Scripture.

No more to return to corruption. The word corruption is usually employed to denote putrefaction, or the mouldering away of a body in the grave; its returning to its native dust. But it is certain Ac 13:35; See Barnes "Ac 2:27"

that the body of Christ never in this sense saw corruption. The word is therefore used to denote death, or the grave, the cause and place of corruption, The word is thus used in the Septuagint. It means here simply that he should not again die.

He said on this wise. He said thus, outwv.

I will give you. This quotation is made from Isa 55:3. It is quoted from the Septuagint, with a change of but one word, not affecting the sense. In Isaiah the passage does not refer particularly to the resurrection of the Messiah; nor is it the design of Paul to affirm that it does. His object in this verse is not to prove that he would rise from the dead; but that being risen, he would not again die. That the passage in Isaiah refers to the Messiah there can be no doubt, Isa 55:1,4. The passage here quoted is an address to the people, an assurance to them that the promise made to David should be performed; a solemn declaration that he would make an everlasting covenant with them through the Messiah, the promised descendant of David.

The sure mercies of David. The word mercies here refers to the promise made to David; the mercy or favour shown to him by promising to him a successor, that should not fail to sit on his throne, 2 Sa 7:16; Ps 89:4,6; 132:11,12.

These mercies and these promises are called "sure," as being true, or unfailing; they should certainly be accomplished. Comp. 2 Co 1:20. The word David here does not refer, as many have supposed, to the Messiah, but to the king of Israel God made to David a promise, a certain pledge; he bestowed on him this special mercy, in promising that he should have a successor who should sit for ever on his throne. This promise was understood by the Jews, and is often referred to in the New Testament, as relating to the Messiah. And Paul here says that that promise here is fulfilled. The only question is, how it refers to the subject on which Paul was immediately discoursing. That point was not mainly to prove his resurrection, but to show particularly that he would never die again, or that he would for ever live and reign. And the argument is, that as God had promised that David should have a successor who should sit for ever on his throne; and as this prediction now terminated in the Messiah, the Lord Jesus, it followed that, as that promise was sure and certain, he would never die again. He must live, if the sure promise was fulfilled. And though he had been put to death, yet under that general promise was the certainty that he would live again. The meaning is, it was impossible that the Messiah, the promised successor of David, the perpetual occupier of his throne, should remain under the power of death. Under this assurance the church now reposes its hopes. Zion's King now lives, ever able to vindicate and save his people.

{*} "this wise" "thus"

{1} ta osia or, just things; which word the Seventy, both in the place of Isa 55:3, and in many others, use for that which in the Hebrew, mercies

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 35

Verse 35. Wherefore did. To the same intent or end. In the proof of the same thing—that he must rise and live for ever.

He saith. God says by David; or David declares the promises made by God.

In another Psalm; Ps 16:10.

Thou shalt not suffer, etc. See Barnes "Ac 2:27".

{c} "in another Psalm" Ps 16:10

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 36

Verse 36. For David, etc. This verse is designed to show that the passage in Ps 16 could not refer to David, and must therefore relate to some other person. In Ac 13:37, it is affirmed that this could refer to no one, in fact, but to the Lord Jesus.

After he had served his own generation. See the margin. Syriac, "David in his own generation having served the will of God, and slept," etc. Arabic, "David served in his own age, and saw God." The margin probably most correctly expresses the sense of the passage. To serve a generation, or an age, is an unusual and almost unintelligible expression.

Fell of sleep. Greek, slept; that is, died. This is the usual word to denote the death of saints. It is used of David in 1 Ki 2:10.

See Barnes "Mt 27:52".

And was laid unto, etc. And was buried with his fathers, etc., 1 Ki 2:10.

And saw corruption. Remained in the grave, and returned to his native dust. See this point argued more at length by Peter, in Ac 2:29-32, and explained See Barnes "Ac 2:29, and Ac 2:30-30.

{2} "after he had served" "after he had in his own age served the will of God"

{d} "fell on sleep" 1 Ki 2:10

{+} "laid" "gathered"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 37

Verse 37. But he, whom God raised again. The Lord Jesus.

Saw no corruption. Was raised without undergoing the usual change that succeeds death. As David had returned to corruption, and the Lord Jesus had not, it followed that this passage in Ps 16 referred to the Messiah.

{a} "raised again" Ac 2:24

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 38

Verse 38. Be it known, etc. Paul, having proved his resurrection, and shown that he was the Messiah, now state the benefits that were to be derived from his death.

Through this man. See Barnes "Lu 24:47".

{b} "through this man" Da 9:24; Lu 24:47; 1 Jo 2:12

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 39

Verse 39. And by him. By means of him; by his sufferings and death.

All that believe. See Barnes "Mr 16:16".

Are justified. Are regarded and treated as if they were righteous. They are pardoned, and admitted to the favour of God, and treated as pardoned sinners, and as if they had not offended. See this point explained in See Barnes "Ro 1:17" See Barnes "Ro 3:24, See Barnes "Ro 3:25" See Barnes "Ro 4:1, and Ro 4:2-8.

From all things. From the guilt of all offences. All will be pardoned.

From which ye could not, etc. The law of Moses commanded what was to be done. It appointed sacrifices and offerings, as typical of a greater Sacrifice. But the same apostle has fully shown, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, that those sacrifices could not take away sin, Heb 9:7-14; Heb 10:1-4,11. The design of the law was not to reveal a way of pardon. That was reserved to be the peculiar purpose of the gospel.

The law of Moses. The commands and institutions which he, under the direction of God, established.

{c} "by him" Isa 53:11; Hab 2:4; Ro 3:28; 8:1

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 40

Verses 40,41. Beware therefore. Avoid that which is threatened. It will come on some; and Paul exhorted his hearers to beware lest it should come on them. It was the more important to caution them against this danger, as the Jews held that they were safe.

Lest that come. That calamity, that threatened punishment.

In the prophets. In that part of the Scriptures called "the prophets." The Jews divided the Old Testament into three parts, of which "the book of the prophets" was one. See Barnes "Lu 24:44".

The place where this is recorded is Hab 1:5. It is not taken from the Hebrew, but substantially from the Septuagint. The original design of the threatening was to announce the destruction that would come upon the nation by the Chaldeans. The original threatening was fulfilled. But it was as applicable to the Jews in the time of Paul as in the time of Habakkuk. The principle of the passage is, that if they held in contempt the doings of God, they would perish. The work which God was to do by means of the Chaldeans was so fearful, so unusual, and so remarkable, that they would not believe it in time to avoid the calamity. In the same way, that which God did in giving a Messiah so little in accordance with their expectation, the manner of the introduction of his kingdom by miracles, and the gift of his Spirit, was so much at variance with their expectations, that they might see it, yet disbelieve it; they might have the fullest proof, and yet despise it; they might wonder, and be amazed and astonished, and unable to account for it, and yet refuse to believe it, and be destroyed.

Behold, ye despisers. Heb. "Behold, ye among the heathen." The change from this expression to "ye despisers" was made by the Septuagint translators, by a very slight change in the Hebrew word—probably from a variation in the copy which they used. It arose from reading HEBREW instead of HEBREW Bogedim instead of Baggoin. The Syriac, the Arabic, as well as the Seventy, follow this reading.

And wonder. Heb. "And regard, and wonder marvellously."

And perish. This is not in the Hebrew, but is in the Septuagint and the Arabic. The word means, literally, to be removed from the sight, to disappear; and then to corrupt, defile, destroy, Mt 6:16,19. The word, however, may mean, to be suffused with shame; to be overwhelmed and confounded, (Schleusner;) and it may perhaps have this meaning here, answering to the Hebrew. The word used here is not that which is commonly employed to denote eternal perdition; though Paul seems to use it with reference to their destruction for rejecting the gospel.

For I work a work. I do a thing. The thing to which the prophet Habakkuk referred was that God would bring upon them the Chaldeans, that would destroy the temple and nation. In like manner Paul says that God in that time might bring upon the nation similar calamities. By rejecting the Messiah and his gospel, and by persevering in wickedness, they would bring upon themselves the destruction of the temple, and city, and nation. It was this threatened destruction, doubtless, to which the apostle referred.

Which ye shall in no wise believe. Which you will not believe. So remarkable, so unusual, so surpassing anything which had occurred. The original reference in Habakkuk is to the destruction of the temple by the Chaldeans—a thing which the Jews would not suppose could happen. The temple was so splendid; it had been built by the direction of God; it had been so long under his protection, that they would suppose that it could not be given into the hands of their enemies to be demolished. And even though it were predicted by a prophet of God, still they would not believe it. The same feelings the Jews would have respecting the temple and city in the time of Paul. Though it was foretold by the Messiah, yet they were so confident that it was protected by God, that they would not believe that it could possibly be destroyed. The same infatuation seems to have possessed them during the siege of the city by the Romans.

Though a man, etc. Though it be plainly predicted. We may learn,

(1.) that men may see, and be amazed at the works of God, and yet be destroyed.

(2.) There may be a prejudice so obstinate that even a Divine revelation will not remove it.

(3.) The fancied security of sinners will not save them.

(4.) There are men who will not believe in the possibility of their being lost, though it be declared by the prophets, by apostles, by the Saviour, and by God. They will still remain in fancied security, and suffer nothing to alarm or rouse them. But

(5.) the fancied security of the Jews furnished no safety against the Babylonians or the Romans. Nor will the indifference and unconcern of sinners furnish any security against the dreadful wrath of God. Yet there are multitudes who live amidst the displays of God's power and mercy in the redemption of sinners; who witness the effects of his goodness and truth in revivals of religion, who live to despise it all; who are amazed and confounded by it; and who shall yet perish.

{d} "in the prophets" Isa 29:14; Hab 1:5

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 41

Verse 41. No Barnes text on this verse.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 42

Verse 42. And when the Jews, etc. There is a great variety in the Mss. on this verse; and in the ancient versions. Griesbach and Knapp read it, "And when they were gone out, they besought them that these words might be spoken," etc. The Syriac reads it, "When they departed from them, they sought from them that these words might be spoken to them on another Sabbath." The Arabic, "Some of the synagogue of the Jews asked of them that they would exhort the Gentiles with them," etc. If these readings be correct, then the meaning is, that some of the Jews exhorted the apostles to proclaim these truths at some other time; particularly to the Gentiles. The MSS. greatly vary in regard to the passage, and it is perhaps impossible to determine the true reading. If the present reading in the English translation is to be regarded as genuine—of which, however, there is very little evidence—the meaning is, that a part of the Jews, perhaps a majority of them, rejected the message, and went out, though many of them followed Paul and Barnabas, Ac 13:43.

The Gentiles besought. This expression is wanting in the Vulgate, Coptic, Arabic, and Syriac versions, and in a great many Mss.—Mill It is omitted by Griesbach, Knapp, etc., and is probably spurious. Among other reasons which may be suggested why it is not genuine, this is one, that it is not evident or probable that the Gentiles were in the habit of attending the synagogue. Those who attended there were called proselytes. The expression, if genuine, might mean, either that the Gentiles besought, or that they besought the Gentiles. The latter would be the more probable meaning.

The next sabbath. The margin has probably the correct rendering of the passage. The meaning of the verse is, that a wish was expressed that these doctrines might be repeated to them in the intermediate time before the next Sabbath.

{1} "next Sabbath" "In the week between; or, in the Sabbath between"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 43

Verse 42. And when the Jews, etc. There is a great variety in the Mss. on this verse; and in the ancient versions. Griesbach and Knapp read it, "And when they were gone out, they besought them that these words might be spoken," etc. The Syriac reads it, "When they departed from them, they sought from them that these words might be spoken to them on another Sabbath." The Arabic, "Some of the synagogue of the Jews asked of them that they would exhort the Gentiles with them," etc. If these readings be correct, then the meaning is, that some of the Jews exhorted the apostles to proclaim these truths at some other time; particularly to the Gentiles. The MSS. greatly vary in regard to the passage, and it is perhaps impossible to determine the true reading. If the present reading in the English translation is to be regarded as genuine—of which, however, there is very little evidence—the meaning is, that a part of the Jews, perhaps a majority of them, rejected the message, and went out, though many of them followed Paul and Barnabas, Ac 13:43.

The Gentiles besought. This expression is wanting in the Vulgate, Coptic, Arabic, and Syriac versions, and in a great many Mss.—Mill It is omitted by Griesbach, Knapp, etc., and is probably spurious. Among other reasons which may be suggested why it is not genuine, this is one, that it is not evident or probable that the Gentiles were in the habit of attending the synagogue. Those who attended there were called proselytes. The expression, if genuine, might mean, either that the Gentiles besought, or that they besought the Gentiles. The latter would be the more probable meaning.

The next sabbath. The margin has probably the correct rendering of the passage. The meaning of the verse is, that a wish was expressed that these doctrines might be repeated to them in the intermediate time before the next Sabbath.

{1} "next Sabbath" "In the week between; or, in the Sabbath between"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 44

Verse 44. And the next sabbath day. This was the regular day for worship, and it was natural that a greater multitude should convene on that day than on the other days of the week.

Came almost the whole city. Whether this was in the synagogue is not affirmed; but it is probable that that was the place where the multitude convened. The news of the presence of the apostles, and of their doctrines, had been circulated doubtless by the Gentiles who had heard them, and curiosity attracted the multitude to hear them. Comp. See Barnes "Ac 13:7".

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 45

Verse 45. They were filled with envy. Greek, zeal. The word here denotes wrath, indignation, that such multitudes should be disposed to hear a message which they rejected, and which threatened to overthrow their religion.

Spake against. Opposed the doctrine that Jesus was the Messiah; that the Messiah would be humble, lowly, despised, and put to death, etc.

Contradicting. Contradicting the apostles. This was evidently done in their presence, Ac 13:46, and would cause great tumult and disorder.

And blaspheming. See Barnes "Mt 9:3".

The sense evidently is, that they reproached and vilified Jesus of Nazareth; they spake of him with contempt and scorn. To speak thus of him is denominated blasphemy, Lu 22:66. When men are enraged, they little regard the words which they utter, and little care how they may be estimated by God. When men attached to sect and party, in religion or politics, have no good arguments to employ, they attempt to overwhelm their adversaries by bitter and reproachful words. Men in the heat of strife, and in professed zeal for peculiar doctrines, and for sect and party, more frequently utter blasphemy than they are aware. Precious and pure doctrines are often thus vilified, because we do not believe them; and the heart of the Saviour is pierced anew, and his cause bleeds by the wrath and wickedness of his professed friends. Comp. Ac 18:6.

{b} "contradicting" Ac 18:6

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 46

Verse 46. Waxed bold. Became bold; spake boldly and openly. They were not terrified by their strife, or alarmed by their opposition. The contradictions and blasphemies of sinners often show that their consciences are alarmed; that the truth has taken effect; and then is not the time to shrink, but to declare more fearlessly the truth.

It was necessary. It was so designed; so commanded. They regarded it as their duty to offer the gospel first to their own countrymen. See Barnes "Lu 24:47".

Ye put it from you. Ye reject it.

And judge yourselves. By your conduct, by your rejecting it, you declare this. The word judge here does not mean they expressed such an opinion, or that they regarded themselves as unworthy of eternal life; for they thought just the reverse; but that by their conduct they CONDEMNED themselves. By such conduct they did in fact pass sentence on themselves, and show that they were unworthy of eternal life, and of having the offer any farther made to them. Sinners by their conduct do in fact condemn themselves, and show that they are not only unfit to be saved, but that they have advanced so far in wickedness that there is no hope of their salvation, and no propriety in offering them, any farther, eternal life. See Barnes "Mt 7:6".

Unworthy, etc. Unfit to be saved. They had deliberately and solemnly rejected the gospel, and thus shown that they were not fitted to enter into everlasting life. When men, even but once, deliberately and solemnly reject the offers of God's mercy, it greatly endangers their salvation. The probability is, that they then put the cup of salvation for ever away from themselves. The gospel produces an effect wherever it is preached. And when sinners are hardened, and spurn the gospel, it may often be the duty of ministers to turn their efforts towards others, where they may have more prospect of success. A man will not long labour on a rocky, barren, sterile soil, when there is near him a rich and fertile valley that will abundantly reward the pains of cultivation.

Lo, we turn, etc. We shall offer salvation to them, and devote ourselves to seeking their salvation.

{c} "first have been spoken" Mt 10:6; Lu 24:47; Ro 1:16

{d} "we turn to the Gentiles" De 32:21; Mt 21:43; Ro 10:19

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 47

Verse 47. For so, etc. Paul, as usual, appeals to the Scriptures in order to justify his course. He here appeals to the Old Testament, rather than to the command of the Saviour, because the Jews recognized the authority of their own Scriptures, while they would have turned in scorn from the command of Jesus of Nazareth.

I have set thee, etc. I have constituted or appointed thee. This passage is found in Isa 49:6. That it refers to the Messiah there can be no doubt. From the fortieth chapter of Isaiah to the end of the prophecies, Isaiah had a primary and main reference to the times of the Messiah.

To be a light. See Barnes "Joh 1:4".

Of the Gentiles. This was in accordance with the uniform doctrines of Isaiah, Isa 42:1; 44:3; 60:3,5,16; 61:6,9; 62:2; 66:12.

Comp. Ro 15:9-12.

For salvation. To save sinners. Unto the ends of the earth, To all lands; in all nations. See Barnes "Ac 1:8".

{e} "saying" Isa 49:6

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 48

Verse 48. When the Gentiles heard this. Heard that the gospel was to be preached to them. The doctrine of the Jews had been, that salvation was confined to themselves. The Gentiles rejoiced that from the mouths of Jews they now heard a different doctrine.

They glorified the word of the Lord.They honoured it as a message from God; they recognized and received it as the word of God. The expression conveys the idea of praise on account of it, and of reverence for the message as the word of God.

And as many as were ordained. osoi hsan tetagmenoi, Syriac, "Who were destined," or constituted. Vulgate, "As many as were foreordained (quotquot erant praeordinati) to eternal life believed." There has been much difference of opinion in regard to this expression. One class of commentators have supposed that it refers to the doctrine of election— to God's ordaining men to eternal life; and another class, to their being disposed themselves to embrace the gospel—to those among them who did not reject and despise the gospel, but who were disposed and inclined to embrace it. The main inquiry is, what is the meaning of the word rendered ordained? The word is used but eight times in the New Testament. Mt 28:16, "Into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them," i.e.,previously appointed, or commanded them—before his death. Lu 7:8. "For I also am a man set under authority"—appointed, or designated, as a soldier, to be under the authority of another. Ac 15:2. "They determined that Paul and Barnabas, etc., should go to Jerusalem." Ac 22:10, "It shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do;" Ac 28:23, "And when they had appointed him a day," etc. Ro 13:1, "The powers that be, are ordained of God." 1 Co 16:15, "They have addicted themselves to the ministry of saints." The word tassw, or tattw, properly means to place; to place in a certain rank or order. Its meaning is derived from arranging or disposing a body of soldiers in regular order; to arrange in military order. In the places which have been mentioned above, the word is used to denote the following things:

(1.) To command, or to designate, Mt 28:16; Ac 22:10; 28:23.

(2.) To institute, constitute, or appoint, Ro 13:1. Comp. 2 Sa 7:11; 1 Sa 22:7.

(3.) To determine, to take counsel, to resolve, Ac 15:2

(4.) To subject to the authority of another, Lu 7:8.

(5.) To addict to; to devote to, 1 Co 16:15. The meaning may be thus expressed:

(1.) The word is never used to denote an internal disposition or inclination arising from one's own self. It does not mean that they disposed themselves to embrace eternal life.

(2.) It has uniformly the notion of an ordering, disposing, or arrangement from without, i.e., from some other source than the individual himself; as of a soldier, who is arranged or classified according to the will of the proper officer. In relation to these persons it means, therefore, that they were disposed or inclined to this from some other source than themselves.

(3.) It does not properly refer to an eternal decree, or directly to the doctrine of election; though that may be inferred from it; but it refers to their being THEN IN FACT disposed to embrace eternal life. They were then inclined by an influence from without themselves, or so disposed as to embrace eternal life. It refers not to an eternal decree, but that then there was such an influence as to dispose them, or incline them, to lay hold on salvation. That this was done by the influence of the Holy Spirit, is clear from all parts of the New Testament, Tit 3:5,6; Joh 1:13.

It was not a disposition or arrangement originating with themselves, but with God.

(4.) This implies the doctrine of election. It was in fact that doctrine expressed. It was nothing but God's disposing them to embrace eternal life. And that he does this according to a plan in his own mind—a plan which is unchangeable as God himself is unchangeable—is clear from the Scriptures. Comp. Ac 18:10; Ro 8:28-30; 9:15,16,21,23

Eph 1:4,5,11.

The meaning may be expressed in few words:— who were THEN disposed, and in good earnest determined, to embrace eternal life, by the operation of the grace of God on their hearts.

Eternal life. Salvation. See Barnes "Joh 3:36".

{f} "as many as were ordained" Ac 2:47; Ro 8:30

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 49

Verse 49. No Barnes text on this verse.

{*} "region" "Country"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 50

Verse 50. But the Jews stirred up. Excited opposition.

Honourable women. See Barnes "Mr 15:43".

Women of influence, and connected with families of rank. Perhaps they were proselytes, and were connected with the magistrates of the city.

And raised persecution. Probably on the ground that they produced disorder and excitement. The aid of "chief men" has often been called in to oppose revivals of religion, and to put a period, if possible, to the spread of the gospel.

Out of their coasts. Out of the regions of their country; out of their province.

{a} "raised persecution" 2 Ti 3:11

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 51

Verse 51. But they shook off the dust, etc. See Barnes "Mt 10:14".

And came into Iconium. This was the capital of Lycaonia. It is now called Cogni, or Lonieh, and is the capital of Caramania.

{b} "shook off the dust" Mr 6:11; Lu 9:5; Ac 18:6

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 13 - Verse 52

Verse 52. And the disciples. The disciples in Antioch. Were filled with joy. This happened even in the midst of persecution, and is one of the many evidences that the gospel is able to fill the soul with joy, even in the severest trials.

{c} "filled with joy" Mt 5:12

{*} "Holy Ghost" "Spirit"


THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 14 - Verse 1


Verse 1. In Iconium. See Barnes "Ac 13:51".

In this place it appears that Timothy became acquainted with Paul and his manner of life, 2 Ti 3:10,11.

So spake. Spake with such power—their preaching was attended so much with the influence of the Spirit,

And also of the Greeks. Probably proselytes from the Greeks, who were in the habit of attending the synagogue.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 14 - Verse 2

Verse 2. But the unbelieving Jews, etc. See Barnes "Ac 13:50".

And made their minds evil affected. Irritated, or exasperated them. Against the brethren. One of the common appellations by which Christians were known.

{+} "affected" "ill-affected"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 14 - Verse 3

Verse 3. Long time therefore. In this city they were not daunted by persecution. It seems probable that there were here no forcible or public measures to expel them, as there had been at Antioch, Ac 13:50, and they therefore regarded it as their duty to remain. God granted them here also great success, which was the main reason for their continuing a long time. Persecution and opposition may be attended often with signal success to the gospel.

Speaking boldly in the Lord. In the cause of the Lord Jesus; or in his name and authority. Perhaps also the expression includes the idea of their trusting in the Lord.

Which gave testimony. Bore witness to the truth of their message by working miracles, etc. Comp. Mr 16:20. This was evidently the Lord Jesus to whom reference is here made; and it shows that he was still, though bodily absent from them, clothed with power, and still displayed that power in the advancement of his cause. The conversion of sinners accomplished by him is always a testimony as decided as it is cheering to the labours and messages of his servants.

Unto the word of his grace. His gracious word, or message.

And granted signs, etc. Miracles. See Barnes "Ac 2:22".

{+} "boldly in the Lord" "concerning"

{*} "which" "who"

{d} "gave testimony" Mr 16:20; Heb 2:4

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 14 - Verse 4

Verse 4. Was divided. Into parties. Greek, There was a schism. escisyh.

And part held with the Jews. Held to the doctrines of the Jews, in opposition to the apostles. A revival of religion may produce excitement by the bad passions of opposers. The enemies of the truth may form parties, and organize opposition. It is no uncommon thing even now for such parties to be formed; but the fault is not in Christianity. It lies with those who form a party against religion, and who confederate themselves, as was done here, to oppose it.

{e} "part held with the Jews" Ac 28:24

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 14 - Verse 5

Verse 5. An assault made. Greek, A rush—ormh. It denotes an impetuous excitement and aggression; a rush to put them to death. It rather describes a popular tumult than a calm and deliberate purpose. There was a violent, tumultuous excitement.

Both of the Gentiles, etc. Of that part of them which was opposed to the apostles.

To use them despitefully. See Barnes "Mt 5:44".

To reproach them; to bring contempt upon them; to injure them.

To stone them. To put them to death by stoning; probably as blasphemers, Ac 7:57-59.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 14 - Verse 6

Verse 6. They were ware of it. They were in some way informed of the excitement and of their danger.

And fled unto Lystra. This was a city of Lycaonia, and was a few miles south of Iconlure. It is now called Latik.

And Derbe. Derbe was a short distance east of Lystra.

Cities of Lycaonia. Lycaonia was one of the provinces of Asia Minor. It had Galatia north, Pisidia south, Cappadocia east, and Phrygia west. It was formerly within the limits of Phrygia, but was erected into a separate province by Augustus.

And unto the region, etc. The adjacent country. Though persecuted, they still preached; and though driven from one city, they fled into another. This was the direction of the Saviour, Mt 10:23.

{|} "ware of it" "aware"

{f} "fled unto Lystra" Mt 10:23

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 14 - Verse 7

Verse 7. No Barnes text on this verse.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 14 - Verse 8

Verse 8. And there sat. There dwelt, Mt 9:1-6; Ac 18:11. (Margin.) The word sat, however, indicates his usual posture; his helpless condition. Such persons commonly sat at the wayside, or in some public place, to ask for alms, Mr 10:46.

Impotent in his feet—adunatov. Without any power. Entirely deprived of the use of his feet.

Being a cripple. Lame.

Who never had walked. The miracle, therefore, would be more remarkable, as the man would be well known, and there could be no plea that there was an imposition. As they were persecuted from place to place, and opposed in every manner, it was desirable that a signal miracle should be performed to carry forward and establish the work of the gospel.

{*} "impotent" "infirm"

{g} "cripple" Ac 3:2

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 14 - Verse 9

Verse 9. Who stedfastly beholding him. Fixing his eyes intently on him. See Barnes "Ac 1:10".

And perceiving. How he perceived this, is not said. Perhaps it was indicated by the ardour, humility, and strong desire depicted in his countenance. He had heard Paul, and perhaps the apostle had dwelt particularly on the miracles with which the gospel had been attested. The miracles wrought also in Iconium had doubtless also been heard of in Lystra.

Had faith to be healed. Compare Notes, See Barnes "Mt 9:21, See Barnes "Mt 9:22, See Barnes "Mt 9:28, See Barnes "Mt 9:29" See Barnes "Lu 7:50" See Barnes "Lu 17:19 See Barnes ""Lu 18:42"

{a} "had faith" Mt 9:28,29

{*} "to be healed" "cured"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 14 - Verse 10

Verse 10. Said with a loud voice. See Barnes "Joh 11:43".

And he leaped. See Barnes "Ac 3:8; comp. Isa 35:6.

{b} "leaped and walked" Isa 35:6

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 14 - Verse 11

Verse 11. They lifted up their voices. They spoke with astonishment, such as might be expected when it was supposed that the gods had come down.

In the speech of Lycaonia. What this language was has much puzzled commentators. It was probably a mixture of the Greek and Syriac. In that region generally the Greek was usually spoken with more or less purity; and from the fact that it was not far from the regions of Syria, it is probable that the Greek language was corrupted with this foreign admixture.

The gods, etc. All the region was idolatrous. The gods which were worshipped there were those which were worshipped throughout Greece.

Are come down. The miracle which Paul had wrought led them to suppose this. It was evidently beyond human ability, and they had no other way of accounting for it than by supposing that their gods had personally appeared.

In the likeness of men. Many of their gods were heroes, whom they worshipped after they were dead. It was common among them to suppose that the gods appeared to men in human form. The poems of Homer, of Virgil etc., are filled with accounts of such appearances; and the only way in which they supposed the gods to take knowledge of human affairs, and to aid men, was by their personally appearing in this form. See Homer's Odyssey, xvii. 485; Catullus, 64, 384; Ovid's Metamorphosis, i. 212. (Kuinoel) Thus Homer says:

For in similitude of strangers oft
The gods, who can with ease all shapes assume,
Repair to populous cities, where they mark
Th'outrageous and the righteous deeds of men.—COWPER

Among the Hindoos, the opinion has been prevalent that there have been many incarnations of their gods.

{+} "lifted up" "raised"

{c} "gods" Ac 18:6

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 14 - Verse 12

Verse 12. And they called Barnabas, Jupiter. Jupiter was represented as the most powerful of all the gods of the ancients. He was represented as the son of Saturn and Ops, and was educated in a cave on Mount Ida, in the island of Crete. The worship of Jupiter was almost universal. He was the Ammon of Africa, the Belus of Babylon, the Osiris of Egypt. His common appellation was, the father of gods and men. He was usually represented as sitting upon a golden or an ivory throne, holding in one hand a thunderbolt, and in the other a sceptre of cypress. His power was supposed to extend over other gods; and everything was subservient to his will, except the fates. There is the most abundant proof that he was worshipped in the region of Lycaonia, and throughout Asia Minor. There was, besides, a fable among the inhabitants of Lycaonia that Jupiter and Mercury had once visited that place, and had been received by Philemon. The whole fable is related by Ovid, (Metam. 8, 611, etc.)

And Paul, Mercarius. Mercury, called by the Greeks Hermes, was a celebrated god of antiquity. No less than five of this name are mentioned by Cicero. The most celebrated was the son of Jupiter and Msia. He was the messenger of the gods, and of Jupiter in particular; he was the patron of travellers and shepherds; he conducted the souls of the dead into the infernal regions; and he presided over orators, and declaimers, and merchants; and he was also the god of thieves, pickpockets, and all dishonest persons. He was regarded as the god of eloquence; and as light, rapid, and quick in his movements. The conjecture of Chrysostom is, that Barnabas was a large, athletic man, and was hence taken for Jupiter; and Paul was small in his person, and was hence supposed to be Mercury.

Because he was the chief speaker. The office of Mercury was to deliver the messages of the gods; and as Paul only had been discoursing, he was supposed to be Mercury.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 14 - Verse 13

Verse 13. Then the priest of Jupiter. He whose office it was to conduct the worship of Jupiter, by offering sacrifices, etc.

Which was before their city. The word" which" here refers not to the priest, but to Jupiter. The temple or image of Jupiter was in front of their city, or near the gates. Ancient cities were supposed to be under the protection of particular gods; and their image, or a temple for their worship, was placed commonly in a conspicuous place at the entrance of the city.

Brought oxen. Probably brought two—one to be sacrificed to each. It was common to sacrifice bullocks to Jupiter.

And garlands. The victims of sacrifice were usually decorated with ribands and chaplets of flowers. See Kuinoel.

Unto the gates. The gates of the city, where were the images or temple of the gods.

Would have done sacrifice. Would have offered sacrifice to Barnabas and Paul. This the priest deemed a part of his office. And here we have a remarkable and most affecting instance of the folly and stupidity of idolatry.

{d} "and would have done" Da 2:46

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 14 - Verse 14

Verse 14. Which when the apostles. Barnabas is called an apostle because he was sent forth by the church on a particular message, Ac 13:3; comp. Ac 14:26; not because he had been chosen to the peculiar work of the apostleship—to bear witness to the life and resurrection of Christ. See Barnes "Ac 1:22"

They rent their clothes. As an expression of their abhorrence of what they were doing, and of their deep grief that they should thus debase themselves by offering worship to men. See Barnes "Mt 26:65".

{e} "rent their clothes" Mt 26:65

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 14 - Verse 15

Verse 15. And saying, Sirs. Greek, Men.

Why do ye these things?

This is an expression of solemn remonstrance at the folly of their conduct in worshipping those who were men. The abhorrence which they evinced at this may throw strong light on the rank and character of the Lord Jesus Christ. When an offer was made to worship Paul and Barnabas, they shrank from it with strong expressions of indignation and abhorrence. Yet when similar worship was offered to the Lord Jesus, when he was addressed by Thomas in the language of worship, "My Lord and my God," (Joh 20:28,) he commended the disciple. For this act he uttered not the slightest reproof. Nay, he approved it, and expressed his approbation of others who should also do it, Joh 20:29; comp. Joh 5:23. How can this difference be accounted for, except on the supposition that the Lord Jesus was Divine? Would he, if a mere man, receive homage as God, when his disciples rejected it with horror?

Of like passions with you. We are men like yourselves. We have no claim, no pretensions to anything more. The word "passions" here means simply that they had the common feelings and propensities of men; we have the nature of men; the affections of men. It does not mean that they were subject to any improper passions, to ill temper, etc., as some have supposed; but that they did not pretend to be gods, We need food and drink; we are exposed to pain and sickness, and death." The Latin Vulgate renders it, "We are mortal like yourselves." The expression stands opposed to the proper conception of God, who is not subject to these affections, who is most blessed and immortal. Such a Being only is to be worshipped; and the apostles remonstrated strongly with them on Comp. Jas 5:17, "Elias [Elijah] was a man subject to like passions as we are," etc.

That ye should turn from these vanities. That you should cease to worship idols. Idols are often called vanities, or vain things, De 32:21; 2 Ki 17:15; 1 Ki 16:13,26; Jer 2:5; 8:19; 10:8; Jon 2:8.

They are called vanities, and often a lie, or lying vanities, as opposed to the living and true God, because they are unreal, because they have no power to help, because confidence in them is vain.

Unto the living God. 1 Th 1:9. He is called the living God to distinguish him from idols. See Barnes "Mt 16:16".

Which made heaven, etc. Who thus showed that he was the only proper object of worship. This doctrine, that there was one God, who had made all things, was new to them. They worshipped multitudes of divinities; and though they regarded Jupiter as the father of gods and men, yet they had no conception that all things had been formed from nothing by the will of one Infinite Being.

{f} "We also" Ac 10:26; Jas 5:17; Re 19:10

{g} "vanities" 1 Sa 12:21; 1 Ki 16:13; Jer 14:22; Jon 2:8; 1 Co 8:4

{h} "the living God" 1 Th 1:9

{i} "which made" Ge 1:1; Ps 33:6; 146:6; Re 14:7

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 14 - Verse 16

Verse 16. Who in times past. Previous to the gospel; in past ages.

Suffered all nations. Permitted all nations; that is, all Gentiles. Ac 17:30, "And the times of this ignorance God winked at."

To walk in their own ways. To conduct themselves without the restraints and instructions of a written law. They were permitted to follow their own reason and passions, and their own system of religion. He gave them no written laws, and sent to them no messengers. Why he did this, we cannot determine. It might have been, among other reasons, to show to the world conclusively,

(1.) the insufficiency of reason to guide men in the matters of religion. The experiment was made under the most favourable circumstances. The most enlightened nations, the Greeks and Romans, were left to pursue the inquiry, and failed no less than the most degraded tribes of men. The trial was made for four thousand years, and attended with the same results everywhere.

(2.) It showed the need of revelation to guide man.

(3.) It evinced, beyond the possibility of mistake, the depravity of man. In all nations, in all circumstances, men had shown the same alienation from God. By suffering them to walk in their own ways, it was seen that those ways were sin, and that some power more than human was necessary to bring men back to God.

{a} "in times past" Ps 81:12; Ac 17:30

{*} "nations" "The Gentiles"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 14 - Verse 17

Verse 17. Nevertheless. Though he gave them no revelation.

He left not himself without witness. He gave demonstration of his existence, and of his moral character.

In that he did good. By doing good. The manner in which he did it he immediately specifies. Idols did not do good, or confer favours, and were therefore unworthy of their confidence.

And gave us rain from heaven. Rain from above, from the clouds, Mr 8:11; Lu 9:54; 17:29; 21:11; Joh 6:31,32.

Rain is one of the evidences of his goodness. Man could not cause it; and without it, regulated at proper intervals of time, and in proper quantities, the earth would soon be one wide scene of desolation. There is scarcely anything that more certainly indicates unceasing care and wisdom than the needful and refreshing showers of rain. The sun and stars move by fixed laws, whose operation we can see and anticipate. The falling of rain and dew is regulated by laws which we cannot trace, and seems therefore to be poured, as it were, directly from God's hollow hand. Ps 147:8, "Who covereth the heaven with clouds; who prepareth rain for the earth."

He sends his showers of blessings down,
To cheer the plains below;
He makes the grass the mountains crown,
And corn in valleys grow.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 14 - Verse 18

Verse 18. And with these saying. With these arguments.

Scarce restrained the people. They were so fully satisfied that the gods had appeared, and were so full of zeal to do them honour.

{+} "sayings" "words"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 14 - Verse 19

Verse 19. And there came thither certain Jews. Not satisfied with having expelled them from Antioch and Iconium, they still pursued them. Persecutors often exhibit a zeal and perseverance in a bad cause, which it would be well if Christians evinced in a holy cause. Men will often travel farther to do evil than they will to do good; and many men show more zeal in opposing the gospel than professed Christians do in advancing it.

Antioch and Iconium. See Barnes "Ac 13:14,51".

Who persuaded the people. That they were impostors; and who excited their rage against them.

And, having stoned Paul. Whom they were just before ready to worship as a god! What a striking instance of the fickleness and instability of idolaters! and what a striking instance of the instability and uselessness of mere popularity. Just before, they were ready to adore him; now they sought to put him to death. Nothing is more fickle than mere popular favour. The unbounded admiration of a man may soon be changed into unbounded indignation and contempt! It was well for Paul that he was not seeking this popularity, and that he did not depend on it for happiness. He had a good conscience; he was engaged in a good cause; he was under the protection of God; and his happiness was to be sought from a higher source than the applause of men, fluctuating and uncertain as the waves of the sea. To this transaction Paul referred when he enumerated his trials, in 2 Co 11:26, "Once was I stoned."

Drew him out of the city. Probably in haste, and in popular rage, as if he was unfit to be in the city, and was unworthy of a decent burial; for it does not appear that they contemplated an interment, but indignantly dragged him beyond the walls of the city to leave him there. Such sufferings and trials it cost to establish that religion in the world which has shed so many blessings on man, and which now crowns us with comfort, and saves us from the abominations and degradations of idolatry here, and from the pains of hell hereafter.

Supposing he had been dead. The next verse shows that he was really not dead, though many commentators, as well as the Jews, have supposed that he was, and was miraculously restored to life. It is remarkable that Barnabas was not exposed to this popular fury. But it is to be remembered that Paul was the chief speaker, and it was his peculiar zeal that exposed him to this tumult.

{d} "stoned Paul" 2 Co 11:25

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 14 - Verse 20

Verse 20. Howbeit. But. Notwithstanding the supposition that he was dead.

As the disciples stood round about him. It would seem that they did not suppose that he was dead; but might be expecting that he would revive.

He rose up, etc. Most commentators have supposed that this was the effect of a miracle. They have maintained that he could not have risen so soon, and entered into the city, without the interposition of miraculous power.—(Calvin, Doddridge, Clark, etc.) But the commentators have asserted that which is not intimated by the sacred penman. Nor is there propriety in supposing the intervention of miraculous agency where it is not necessary. The probability is, that he was stunned by a blow— perhaps a single blow—and after a short time recovered from it. Nothing is more common than thus by a violent blow on the head to be rendered apparently lifeless, the effect of which soon is over, and the person restored to strength. Pricaeus and Wetstein suppose that Paul feigned himself to be dead, and when out of danger rose and

And came into the city. It is remarkable that he should have returned again to the same city. But probably it was only among the new converts that he showed himself. The Jews supposed that he was dead; and it does not appear that he again exposed himself to their rage.

And the next day, etc. The opposition here was such that it was vain to attempt to preach there any longer. Having been seen by the disciples after his supposed death, their faith was confirmed, and he departed to preach in another place.

To Derbe. Ac 14:6

{+} "Howbeit" "But" Ac 14:6

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 14 - Verse 21

Verse 21. Had taught many. Or rather, had made many disciples, (margin.)

To Lystra. Ac 14:6.

And to Iconium, Ac 14:1. We have here a remarkable instance of the courage of the apostles. In these very places they had been persecuted and stoned, and yet in the face of danger they ventured to return, The welfare of the infant churches they deemed of more consequence than their own safety; and they threw themselves again into the midst of danger, to comfort and strengthen those just converted to God. There are times when ministers should not count their own lives dear to them, Ac 20:24, but when they should fearlessly throw themselves into the midst of danger, confiding only in the protecting care of their God and Saviour.

{1} "had taught many" "Had made many disciples"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 14 - Verse 22

Verse 22. Confirming. Strengthening—episthrizontev. The expression, "to confirm," has in some churches a technical signification, denoting "to admit to the full privileges of a Christian, by the imposition of hands."—Johnson. It is scarcely necessary to say that the word here refers to no such rite. It has no reference to any imposition of hands, nor to the thing which is usually supposed to be denoted by the rite of "confirmation." It means simply, that they established, strengthened, made firm, or encouraged by the presentation of truth, and by the motives of the gospel. Whether the rite of confirmation, as practised by some churches, be founded on the authority of the New Testament or not, it is certain that it can receive no support from this passage. The truth was, that these were young converts; that they were surrounded by enemies, exposed to temptations and to dangers; that they had as yet but a slight acquaintance with the truths of the gospel, and that it was therefore important that they should be further instructed in the truth, and established in the faith of the gospel. This was what Paul and Barnabas returned to accomplish. There is not the slightest evidence that they had not been admitted to the full privileges of the church before, or that any ceremony was now performed in confirming or strengthening them.

The souls. The minds, the hearts; or the disciples themselves.

Disciples. They were as yet scholars, or learners, and the apostles returned to instruct them further in the doctrines of Christ.

And exhorting them, etc. Ac 13:43.

In the faith. In the belief of the gospel.

And that we must. kai oti—dei. That it is fit or proper that we should, etc. Not that it is in itself fixed by any fatal necessity; but that such is the nature of religion, and such the wickedness and opposition of the world, that it will happen. We are not to expect that it will be otherwise. We are to calculate on it when we become Christians. Why it is proper, or fit, the apostle did not state. But we may remark that it is proper,

(1.) because such is the opposition of the world to pure religion, that it cannot be avoided. Of this they had had striking demonstration in Lystra and Iconium.

(2.) It is necessary to reclaim us from wandering, and to keep us in the path of duty, Ps 119:67,71.

(3.) It is necessary to wean us from the world; to keep before one's mind the great truth, that we have here "no continuing city, and no abiding place." Trial here, makes us pant for a world of rest. The opposition of sinners makes us desire that world where the wicked shall cease from troubling, and where there shall be eternal friendship and peace.

(4.) When we are persecuted and afflicted, we may remember that it has been the lot of Christians from the beginning. We tread a path that has been watered by the tears of the saints, and rendered sacred by the shedding of the best blood on the earth. The Saviour trod that path; and it is enough that the "disciple be as his master, and the servant as his lord," Mt 10:24,25.

Through much tribulation. Through many afflictions.

Enter into the kingdom of God. Be saved. Enter into heaven. See Barnes "Mt 3:2".

{*} "souls" "minds"

{a} "continue in the faith" Ac 13:43

{b} "that we must through" Ro 8:17

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 14 - Verse 23

Verse 23. And when they had ordained. ceirotonhsantev. The word ordain we now use in an ecclesiastical sense, to denote a setting apart to an office by the imposition of hands. But it is evident that the word here is not employed in that sense. That imposition of hands might have occurred in setting apart afterwards to this office is certainly possible, but it is not implied in the word employed here, and did not take place in the transaction to which this word refers. The word occurs but in one other place in the New Testament, (2 Co 8:19,) where it is applied to Luke, and translated, "who was also chosen of the church, (i.e. appointed or elected by suffrage by the churches,) to travel with us," etc. The verb properly denotes to stretch out the hand; and as it was customary to elect to office, or to vote, by stretching out or elevating the hand, so the word simply means to elect, appoint, or designate to any office. The word here refers simply to an election or appointment of the elders. It is said, indeed, that Paul and Barnabas did this. But probably all that is meant by it is, that they presided in the assembly when the choice was made. It does not mean that they appointed them without consulting the church; but it evidently means that they appointed them in the usual way of appointing officers, by the suffrages of the people. See Schleusner, and the notes of Doddridge and Calvin.

Ordained them. Appointed for the disciples, or for the church. It is not meant that the elders were ordained for the apostles.

Elders. Greek, Presbyters. Literally, this word refers to the aged. See Barnes "Ac 11:30".

But it may also be a word relating to office, denoting those who were more experienced than others, to preside over and to instruct the rest. What was the nature of this office, and what was the design of the appointment, is not intimated in this word. All that seems to be implied is, that they were to take the charge of the churches during the absence of the apostles. The apostles were about to leave them. They were just organized into churches; were inexperienced; needed counsel and direction; were exposed to dangers; and it was necessary, therefore, that persons should be designated to watch over the spiritual interests of the brethren. The probability is, that they performed all the functions that were required in the infant and feeble churches; in exhorting, instructing, governing, etc. The more experienced and able would be most likely to be active in exhorting and instructing the brethren; and all would be useful in counselling and guiding the flock. The same thing occurred in the church at Ephesus. See Barnes "Ac 20:17-28".

It is not improbable that the business of instructing, or teaching, would be gradually confined to the more talented and able of the elders, and that the others would be concerned mainly in governing and directing the general affairs of the church.

In every church. It is implied here that there were elders in each church; that is, that in each church there was more than one. See Ac 15:21, where a similar phraseology occurs, and where it is evident that there was more than one reader of the law of Moses in each city. Tit 1:5, "I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldest ordain elders in every city." Ac 20:17, "And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church." It could not mean, therefore, that they appointed a single minister or pastor to each church, but they committed the whole affairs of the church to a bench of elders.

And had prayed with fasting. With the church. They were about to leave them. They had entrusted the interests of the church to a body of men chosen for this purpose; and they now commended the church and its elders together to God. Probably they had no prospect of seeing them again; and they parted as ministers and people should part, and as Christian friends should part, with humble prayer, commending themselves to the protecting care of God.

They commended them, etc. They committed the infant church to the guardianship of the Lord. They were feeble, inexperienced, and exposed to dangers; but in his hands they were safe.

To the Lord, etc. The Lord Jesus. The connexion shows that he is particularly referred to. In his hands, the redeemed are secure. When we part with Christian friends, we may, with confidence, leave them in his holy care and keeping.

{+} "ordained" "Appointed"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 14 - Verse 24

Verse 24. Throughout Pisidia. See Barnes "Ac 13:14".

They came to Pamphylia. See Barnes "Ac 13:13".

These places they had visited before.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 14 - Verse 25

Verse 25. In Perga. See Barnes "Ac 13:13".

They went down into Attalia. This was a city of Pamphylia, situated on the sea shore. It was built by Attalus Philadelphus, king of Pergamus, who gave it his own name

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 14 - Verse 26

Verse 26. And thence sailed to Antioch. See Barnes "Ac 11:19".

From whence they had been recommended, etc. Where they had been appointed to this missionary tour by the church, Ac 13:1-4.

To the grace of God. His favour and protection had been implored for them in their perilous undertaking.

For the work which they fulfilled. This shows conclusively,

(1.) that they had accomplished fully the work which was originally contemplated. It was strictly a missionary tour among the Gentiles. It was an important and hazardous enterprise; and was the first in which the church formally engaged. Hence so much importance is attached to it, and so faithful a record of it is preserved.

(2.) It shows that the act by which they were set apart to this, (Ac 13:1-3,) was not an ordination to the ministerial office. It was an appointment to a missionary tour.

(3.) It shows that the act was not an appointment to the apostleship. Paul was an apostle before, by the express appointment of the Saviour; and Barnabas was never an apostle in the original and proper sense of the term. It was a designation to a temporary work, which was now fulfilled.

We may remark, also, in regard to this missionary tour,

(1,) that the work of missions is one which early engaged the attention of Christians.

(2.) It entered into their plans, and was one in which the church was deeply interested.

(3.) The work of missions is attended with danger. Men are now no less hostile to the gospel than they were in Lystra and Iconium.

(4.) Missionaries should be sustained by the prayers of the church. And,

(5.) in the conduct of Paul and Barnabas, missionaries have an example in founding churches, and in regard to their own trials and persecutions. If Paul and Barnabas were persecuted, missionaries may be now. And if the grace of Christ was sufficient to sustain them, it is not the less sufficient to sustain those of our own times amidst all the dangers attending the preaching of the cross in pagan lands.

{a} "Antioch" Ac 13:1,3

{b} "the grace of god" Ac 15:40

Verse 27. They rehearsed, etc. Ac 11:4. They related what had happened; their dangers and their success. This they did because they had been sent out by the church, and it was proper that they should give an account of their work; and because it furnished a suitable occasion of gratitude to God for his mercy.

All that God had done, etc. In protecting, guarding them, etc. All was traced to God.

Had opened the door of faith. Had furnished an opportunity of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, 1 Co 16:9; 2 Co 2:12.

{c} "rehearsed all that God" Ac 15:4

{d} "opened the door of faith" 1 Co 16:9

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 14 - Verse 28

Verse 28. And there they abode. At Antioch.

Long time. How long is not intimated; but we hear no more of them until the council at Jerusalem, mentioned in the next chapter. If the transactions recorded in this chapter occurred, as is supposed, about A.D. 45 or 46, and the council at Jerusalem assembled A.D. 51 or 53, as is supposed, then here is an interval of from five to eight years in which we have no account of them. Where they were, or what was their employment in this interval, the sacred historian has not informed as. It is certain, however, that Paul made several journeys, of which we have no particular record in the New Testament; and it is possible that some of those journeys occurred during this interval. Thus he preached the gospel as far as Illyricum, Ro 15:19. And in 2 Co 11:23-27, there is an account of trials and persecutions, of many of which we have no distinct record, and which might have occurred during this interval. We may be certain that these holy men were not idle. And we may learn from their example to fill up our time with usefulness; to bear all persecutions and trials without a murmur; and to acknowledge the good hand of God in our preservation in our travels; in our defence when we are persecuted; in all the opportunities which may be open before us to do good; and in all the success which may attend our efforts. Christians should remember that it is God who opens doors of usefulness; and they should regard it as a matter of much rejoicing and thanksgiving that such doors are opened, and that they are permitted to spread the gospel, whatever toil it may cost, whatever persecution they may endure, whatever perils they may encounter.


THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES — Chapter 15 - Verse 1

Verse 1. And certain men. These were men undoubtedly who had been Jews, but who were now converted to Christianity. The fact that they were willing to refer the matter in dispute to the apostles and elders, Ac 15:2, shows that they had professedly embraced the Christian religion. The account which follows is a record of the first internal dissension which occurred in the Christian church. Hitherto they had been struggling against external foes. Violent persecutions had raged, and had fully occupied the attention of Christians. But now the churches were at peace. They enjoyed great external prosperity in Antioch. And the great enemy of souls took occasion then, as he has often done in similar circumstances since, to excite contentions in the church itself; so that when external violence could not destroy it, an effort was made to secure the same object by internal dissension and strife. The history, therefore, is particularly important, as it is the record of the first unhappy debate which arose in the bosom of the church. It is further important, as it shows the manner in which such controversies were settled in apostolic times; and as it established some very important principles respecting the perpetuity of the religious rites of the Jews.

Came down from Judaea. To Antioch, and to the regions adjacent, which had been visited by the apostles, Ac 15:23. Judea was a high and hilly region; and going from that toward the level countries adjacent to the sea, was represented to be descending or going down.

Taught the brethren. That is, Christians. They endeavoured to convince

Except ye be circumcised. This was the leading or principal rite of the Jewish religion. It was indispensable to the name and privileges of a Jew. Proselytes to their religion were circumcised as well as native-born Jews, and they held it to be indispensable to salvation. It is evident, from this, that Paul and Barnabas had dispensed with this rite in regard to the Gentile converts, and that they intended to found the Christian church on the principle that the Jewish ceremonies were to cease. When, however, it was necessary to conciliate the minds of the Jews and to prevent contention, Paul did not hesitate to practise circumcision, Ac 16:3.

After the manner of Moses. According to the custom which Moses commanded; according to the Mosaic ritual.

Ye cannot be saved. The Jews regarded this as indispensable to salvation. The grounds on which they would press it on the attention of Gentile converts would be very plausible, and such as would produce much embarrassment. For,

(1.) it would be maintained that the laws of Moses were the laws of God, and were therefore unchangeable; and,

(2.) it would doubtless be maintained that the religion of the Messiah was only a completing and perfecting of the Jewish religion; that it was designed simply to carry out its principles according to the promises, and not to subvert and destroy anything that had been established by Divine authority. It is usually not difficult to perplex and embarrass young converts with questions of modes, and rites, and forms of religion; and it is not uncommon that a revival is followed by some contention just like this. Opposing sects urge the claims of their peculiar rites, and seek to make proselytes, and introduce contention and strife into an otherwise peaceful and happy Christian community.

{e} "certain men" Gal 2:3

{f} "be circumcised" Joh 7:22

{g} "after the manner of Moses" Le 12:3

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 2

Verse 2. Had no small dissension and disputation. The word rendered dissension (stasewv) denotes sometimes sedition or intestine war, and sometimes earnest and violent disputation or controversy, Ac 23:7,10. In this place it clearly denotes that there was earnest and warm discussion; but it is not implied that there was any improper heat or temper on the part of Paul and Barnabas. Important principles were to be settled in regard to the organization of the church. Doctrines were advanced by the Judaizing teachers which were false, and which tended to great strife and disorder in the church. Those doctrines were urged with great zeal, were declared to be essential to salvation, and would therefore tend greatly to distract the minds of Christians, and to produce great anxiety. It became therefore necessary to meet them with a determined purpose, and to establish the truth on an immovable basis. And the case shows that it is right to "contend earnestly for the faith," (Jude 1:3;) and when similar cases occur, it is proper to resist the approach of error with all the arguments which may be at our command, and with all the weapons which truth can furnish. It is further implied here, that it is the duty of the ministers of the gospel to defend the truth and to oppose error. Paul and Barnabas regarded themselves as set for this purpose, (comp. Php 1:17, "Knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel;") and Christian ministers should be qualified to defend the truth; and should be willing, with a proper spirit and with great earnestness, to maintain the doctrines revealed.

They determined. There was no prospect that the controversy would be settled by contention and argument. It would seem, from this statement, that those who came down from Judea were also willing that the whole matter should be referred to the apostles at Jerusalem. The reason for this may have been,

(1,) that Jerusalem would be regarded by them as the source of authority in the Christian church, as it had been among the Jews.

(2.) Most of the apostles and the most experienced Christians were there. They had listened to the instructions of Christ himself; had been long in the church; and were supposed to be better acquainted with its design and its laws.

(3.) Those who came from Judea would not be likely to acknowledge the authority of Paul as an apostle: the authority of those at Jerusalem they would recognize.

(4.) They might have had a very confident expectation that the decision there would be in their favour. The question had not been agitated there. They had all been Jews. And it is certain that they continued as yet to attend in the temple-service, and to conform to the Jewish customs. They might have expected, therefore, with great confidence, that the decision would be in their favour, and they were willing to refer it to those at Jerusalem.

Certain other of them. Of the brethren; probably of each party. They did not go to debate; or to give their opinion; or to vote in the case themselves; but to lay the question fairly before the apostles and elders.

Unto the apostles. The authority of the apostles in such a case would be acknowledged by all. They had been immediately instructed by the Saviour, and had the promise of infallible guidance in the organization of the church. See Barnes "Mt 16:19; See Barnes "Mt 18:18".

And elders. See Barnes "Ac 11:30".

Greek, Presbyters. See Barnes "Ac 14:23.

Who these were, or what was their office and authority, it is not easy now to determine. It may refer to the aged men in the church at Jerusalem, or to those who were appointed to rule and to preach in connexion with the apostles. As in the synagogue it was customary to determine questions by the advice of a bench of elders, there is no improbability in the supposition that the apostles would imitate that custom, and appoint a similar arrangement in the Christian church. (Grotius.) It is generally agreed that this is the journey to which Paul refers in Gal 2:1-10. If so, it happened fourteen years after his conversion, Gal 2:1. It was done in accordance with the Divine command, "by revelation," Gal 2:2. And among those who went with him was Titus, who was afterwards so much distinguished as his companion, Gal 2:3.

About this question. The question whether the ceremonial laws of Moses were binding on Christian converts. In regard to the nature and design of this council at Jerusalem, See Barnes "Ac 15:30, See Barnes "Ac 15:31".

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 3

Verse 3. And being brought on their way by the church. Being attended and conducted by the Christian brethren. See Barnes "Ro 15:24".

It was customary for the Christians to attend the apostles in their travels. Comp. 1 Co 16:6,11; 3 Jo 1:6.

Through Phenice. See Barnes "Ac 11:19".

And Samaria. These places were directly on their route to Jerusalem.

Declaring the conversion, etc. Of the Gentiles in Antioch, and in the regions in Asia Minor, through which they had travelled. These remarkable events they would naturally communicate with joy to the Christians with whom they would have intercourse in their journey.

Caused great joy. At the news of the extensive spread of the gospel. It was an indication of their deep feeling in the interest of religion, that they thus rejoiced. Where Christians are themselves awake, and engaged in the service of Christ, they rejoice at the news of the conversion of sinners. Where they are cold, they hear such news with indifference, or with the utmost unconcern. One way of testing our feelings on the subject of religion is by the emotions which we have when we hear of extensive and glorious revivals of religion. Comp. See Barnes "Ac 8:8".

{a} "brought on their way" Ro 15:24; 1 Co 16:6,11; 3 Jo 1:6

{b} "declaring the conversion" Ac 14:27

{c} "great joy" Lu 15:7,10

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 4

Verse 4. They were received of the church. By the church, in a hospitable and friendly manner. They were acknowledged as Christian brethren, and received with Christian kindness. See Gal 2:9.

And they declared. Paul and Barnabas, and those with them. That is, they stated the case; the remarkable conversion of the Gentiles, the evidence of their piety, and the origin of the present dispute.

{*} "received of the church" "by"

{*} "of the apostles" "by"

{d} "they declared" Ac 21:19

{+} "declared" "related"

{*} "with" "by"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 5

Verse 5. But there rose up, etc. It has been doubted whether these are the words of Paul and Barnabas, relating what occurred at Antioch; or whether they are the words of Luke, recording what took place at Jerusalem. The correct exposition is probably that which refers it to the latter. For,

(1.) this seems to be the most obvious interpretation.

(2.) The use of the words "rose up" implies that. Those who disturbed the church at Antioch are said to have come down from Judea, Ac 15:1 and if this place referred to that occurrence, the same words would have been retained.

(3.) The particular specification here of "the sect of the Pharisees," looks as if this was an occurrence taking place at Jerusalem. No such specification exists respecting those who came down to Antioch; but it would seem here, as if this party in Jerusalem resolved still to abide by the law, and to impose those rites on the Christian converts. However, this interpretation is by no means certain.

Which believed. Who maintained, or taught.

That it was needful, etc. See Barnes "Ac 15:1".

{1} "rose up", or "rose up, said they, certain"

{e} "saying" Ac 15:1

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 6

Verse 6. And the apostles and elders, etc. They came together in accordance with the authority in Mt 18:19,20. It would seem, also, that the whole church was convened on this occasion; and that they concurred, at least, in the judgment expressed in this case. See Ac 15:12,22,23.

For to consider this matter. Not to decide it arbitrarily, or even by authority, without deliberation; but to compare their views, and to express the result of the whole to the church at Antioch. It was a grave and difficult question, deeply affecting the entire constitution of the Christian church, and they therefore solemnly engaged in deliberation on the subject.

{f} "together for to consider" Mt 18:20

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 7

Verse 7. Much disputing. Or, rather, much inquiry, or deliberation. With our word disputing, we commonly connect the idea of heat and anger. This is not necessarily implied in the word used here. It might have been calm, solemn, deliberate inquiry; and there is no evidence that it was conducted with undue warmth or anger,

Peter rose up, and said. Peter was probably the most aged, and was most accustomed to speak, Ac 2:14; 3:6,12.

Besides, there was a particular reason for his speaking here, as he had been engaged in similar scenes, and understood the case, and had had evidence that God had converted sinners without the Mosaic rites, and knew that it would have been inexpedient to have imposed these rites on those who had thus been converted.

A good while ago. Ac 10. Some time since. So long since that there had been opportunity to ascertain whether it was necessary to observe the laws of Moses in order to the edification of the church.

God made choice, etc. That is, of all the apostles, he designated me to engage in this work. Comp. See Barnes "Mt 16:18, with Ac 10.

That the Gentiles. Cornelius, and those who were assembled with him at Caesarea. This was the first case that had occurred, and therefore it was important to appeal to it.

{g} "ye know how" Mt 16:18,19; Ac 10:20


Verse 7.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 8

Verse 8. And God, which knoweth the hearts, Ac 1:24. God thus knew whether they were true converts or not, and gave a demonstration that he acknowledged them as his.

Giving them the holy Ghost, etc. Ac 10:45,46.

{h} "which knoweth the hearts" Ac 1:24

{*} "witness" "Bore testimony to them"

{+} "holy Ghost" "Spirit"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 9

Verse 9. And put no difference, etc. Though they had not been circumcised, and though they did not conform to the law of Moses. Thus God showed that the observance of these rites was not necessary in order to the true conversion of men, and to acceptance with him. He did not give us, who are Jews, any advantage over them, but justified and purified all in the same manner.

Purifying their hearts. Thus giving the best evidence that he had renewed them, and admitted them to favour with him.

By faith. By believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. This showed that the plan on which God was now about to show favour to men, was not by external rites and ceremonies, but by a scheme which required faith as the only condition of acceptance. It is further implied here, that there is no true faith which does not purify the heart.

{a} "purifying their hearts by faith" Heb 9:13,14; 1 Pe 1:22

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 10

Verse 10. Why tempt ye God? Why provoke him to displeasure? Why, since he has shown his determination to accept them without such rites, do you provoke him by attempting to impose on his own people rites without his authority, and against his manifest will? The argument is, that God had already accepted them. To attempt to impose these rites would be to provoke him to anger; to introduce observances which he had shown it was his purpose should now be abolished.

To put a yoke. That which would be burdensome and oppressive, or which would infringe on their just freedom, as the children of God. It is, called in Ga 5:1, "a yoke of bondage." See Barnes "Mt 23:4".

A yoke is an emblem of slavery or bondage, 1 Ti 6:1 or of affliction, La 3:27; or of punishment, La 1:14; or of oppressive and burdensome ceremonies, as in this place; or of the restraints of Christianity, Mt 11:29,30. In this place they are called a yoke, because,

(1.) they were burdensome and oppressive; and,

(2.) because they would be an infringement of Christian freedom. One design of the gospel was to set men free from such rites and ceremonies. The yoke here referred to is not the moral law, and the just restraints of religion; but the ceremonial laws and customs of the Jews.

Which neither our fathers, etc. Which have been found burdensome at all times. They were expensive, and painful, and oppressive: and as they had been found to be so, it was not proper to impose them on the Gentile converts, but should rather rejoice at any evidence that the people of God might be delivered from them.

Were able to bear. Which are found to be oppressive and burdensome. They were attended with great inconvenience, and many transgressions, as the consequence.

{b} "a yoke on the neck" Ga 5:1

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 11

Verse 11. But we believe. We apostles, who have been with them; and have seen the evidences of their acceptance with God.

Through the grace, etc. By the grace or mercy of Christ alone, without any of the rites and ceremonies of the Jews.

We shall be saved, even as they. In the same manner, by the mere grace of Christ. So far from being necessary to their salvation, they are really of no use in ours. We are to be saved not by these ceremonies, but by the mere mercy of God in the Redeemer. They should not, therefore, be imposed on others.

{c} "through the grace of the Lord Jesus" Ro 3:24; Eph 2:8; Tit 3:4,5

{+} "even" "In like manner"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 12

Verse 12. Then all the multitude. Evidently the multitude of private Christians who were assembled on this occasion. That it does not refer to a synod of ministers and elders merely, is apparent,

(1.) because the church, the brethren, are represented as having been present, and concurring in the final opinion, Ac 15:22,23; and,

(2.) because the word multitude (to plhyov) would not have been used in describing the collection of apostles and elders merely. Comp. Lu 1:10,11,13; 5:6; 6:17; 19:37; Joh 5:3; 21:6; Ac 4:32; 6:2; Mt 3:7.

Gave audience. Heard; listened attentively to.

Barnabas and Paul. They were deeply interested in it; and they were qualified to give a fair statement of the facts as they had occurred.

Declaring what miracles and wonders, etc. The argument here evidently is, that God had approved their work by miracles; that he gave evidence that what they did had his approbation; and that as all this was done without imposing on them the rites of the Jews, so it would follow that those were not now to be commanded.

{*} "audience" "hearkened to"

{d} "God had wrought" Ac 14:27

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 13

Verse 13. James answered. James the Less, son of Alpheus. See Barnes "Ac 12:1".

Hearken unto me. This whole transaction shows that Peter had no such authority in the church as the Papists pretend, for otherwise his opinion would have been followed without debate. James had an authority not less than that of Peter. It is possible that he might have been next in age, (comp. 1 Co 15:7;) and it seems morally certain that he remained for a considerable part of his life in Jerusalem, Ac 12:17; 21:18 Ga 1:19; 2:9,12.

{|} "peace" "were silent"

{**} "saying" "spoke"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 14

Verse 14. Simeon. This is a Hebrew name. The Greek mode of writing it commonly was Simon. It was one of the names of Peter, Mt 4:18.

To take out of them a people. To choose from among the Gentiles those who should be his friends.

{e} "declared" Lu 2:31,32

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 15

Verse 15. The words of the prophets. Am 9:11,12. It was a very material point with them, as Jews, to inquire whether this was in accordance with the predictions of the Scriptures. The most powerful revivals of religion, and the most striking demonstrations of the Divine Presence, will be in accordance with the Bible, and should be tested by it. This habit was always manifested by the apostles and early Christians, and should be followed by Christians at all times. Unless a supposed work of grace accords with the Bible, and can be defended by it, it must be false, and should be opposed. Comp. Isa 8:20.

{f} "as it is written" Am 9:11,12

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 16

Verse 16. After this. This quotation is not made literally either from the Hebrew or the Septuagint, which differs also from the Hebrew. The 17th verse is quoted literally from the Septuagint; but in the 16th the general sense only of the passage is retained. The main point of the quotation, as made by James, was to show that, according to the prophets, it was contemplated that the Gentiles should be introduced to the privileges of the children of God; and on this point the passage has a direct bearing. The prophet Amos Am 9:8-10 had described the calamities that should come upon the nation of the Jews, by their being scattered and driven away. This implied that the city of Jerusalem, and the temple, and the walls of the city, should be destroyed. But after that (Heb. "on that day," Am 9:11; that is, the day when he should revisit them, and recover them) he would restore them to their former privileges; would rebuild their temple, their city, and their walls, Am 9:11. And not only so—not only should the blessing descend on the Jews, but it should also be extended to others. The "remnant of Edom," "the heathen upon whom" his "name would be called," (Am 9:12,) should also partake of the mercy of God, and be subject to the Jewish people; and the time of general prosperity and of permanent blessings should follow, Am 9:13-15. James understands this as referring to the times of the Messiah, and to the introduction of the gospel to the Gentiles. And so the passage (Am 9:12)is rendered in the Septuagint. See Ac 15:17.

I will return. When the people of God are subjected to calamities and trials, it is often represented as if God had departed from them. This returning, therefore, is an image of their restoration to his favour, and to prosperity. This is not, however, in the Hebrew, in Am 9:11.

And will build again. In the calamities that should come upon the nation, (Am 9:8,) it is implied that the temple and the city should be destroyed. To build them again would be a proof of his returning favour.

The tabernacle of David. The tent of David. Here it means the house, or royal residence of David, and the kings of Israel. That is, he which was the work of Solomon; but to the magnificence and splendour of the dwelling place of David; that is, to the full enjoyment of their former high privileges and blessings.

Which is fallen down. Which would be destroyed by the captivity under the king of Babylon, and by the long neglect and decay resulting from their being carried to a distant land.

The ruins thereof. Hebrew, "Close up the breaches thereof." That is, it should be restored to its former prosperity and magnificence; an emblem of the favour of God, and of the spiritual blessings, that should in future times descend on the Jewish people.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 17

Verse 17. That the residue of men. This verse is quoted literally from the Septuagint, and differs in some respects from the Hebrew. The phrase, "the residue of men," here is evidently understood, both by the Seventy and by James, as referring to others than the Jews— to the Gentiles. The rest of the world—implying that many of them would be admitted to the friendship and favour of God. The Hebrew is, "that they may possess the remnant of Edom." This change is made in the Septuagint by a slight difference in the reading of two Hebrew words. The Seventy, instead of the Hebrew

HEBREW, shall inherit, read

HEBREW, shall seek of thee; and instead of

HEBREW, Edom they read

HEBREW, Man, or mankind, i.e. men. Why this variation occurred, cannot be explained; but the sense is not materially different. In the Hebrew, the word Edom has undoubted reference to another nation than the Jewish; and the expression means, that in the great prosperity of the Jews, after their return, they should extend the influence of their religion to other nations; that is, as James applies it, the Gentiles might be brought to the privileges of the children of God.

And all the Gentiles. Heb., All the heathen; i.e., all who were not Jews. This was a clear prediction that other nations were to be favoured with the light of the true religion, and that without any mention of their conforming to the rites of the Jewish people.

Upon whom my name is called. Who are called by my name, or who are regarded by me as my people.

Who doeth all these things. That is, who will certainly accomplish this in its time.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 18

Verse 18. Known unto God, etc. See Barnes "Ac 1:24".

The meaning of this verse, in this connexion, is this. God sees everything future; he knows what he will accomplish; he has a plan; and all his works are so arranged in his mind, that he sees all things distinctly and clearly. As he foretold these, it was a part of his plan; and as it was a part of his plan long since foretold, it should not be opposed and resisted by us. {a} "Known unto God" Nu 23:19; Isa 46:10

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 19

Verse 19. My sentence. Gr., I judge, (krinw) that is, I give my opinion. It is the usual language in which a judge delivers his opinion; but it does not imply here that James assumed authority to settle the case, but merely that he gave his opinion or counsel.

That we trouble not them. That we do not molest, disturb, or oppress them, by imposing on them unnecessary and burdensome rites and ceremonies.

{*} "my sentence is" "judgment" {b} "turned to God" 1 Th 1:9

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 20

Verse 20. That we write unto them. Expressing our judgment, or our views of the case. This verse has greatly perplexed commentators. The main grounds of difficulty have been,

(1.) why fornication—an offence against the moral law, and about which there could be no dispute—should have been included; and,

(2.) whether the prohibition to abstain from blood is still binding.

That they abstain. That they refrain from these things, or wholly avoid them.

Pollutions of idols. The word rendered pollutions means any kind of defilement. But here it is evidently used to denote the flesh of those animals that were offered in sacrifice to idols. See Ac 15:29. That flesh, after being offered in sacrifice, was often exposed for sale in the markets, or was served up at feasts, 1 Co 10:25-29. It became a very important question whether it was right for Christians to partake of it. The Jews would contend that it was, in fact, partaking of idolatry. The Gentile converts would allege that they did not eat it as a sacrifice to idols, or lend their countenance in any way to the idolatrous worship where it had been offered. See this subject discussed at length in 1 Co 8:4-13. As idolatry was forbidden to the Jews in every form, and as partaking even of the sacrifices to idols, in their feasts, might seem to countenance idolatry, the Jews would be utterly opposed to it; and for the sake of peace, James advised that they be recommended to abstain from this. To partake of that food might not be morally wrong, (1 Co 8:4,) but it would give occasion for scandal and offence; and, therefore, as a matter of expediency, it was advised that they should abstain from it.

And from fornication, The word used here—porneiav— is applicable to all illicit intercourse; and may refer to adultery, incest, and licentiousness in any form. There has been much diversity of opinion in regard to this expression. Interpreters have been greatly perplexed to understand why this violation of the moral law has been introduced amidst the violations of the ceremonial law; and the question is naturally asked, whether this was a sin about which there could be any debate between the Jewish and Gentile converts? Were there any who would practise it, or plead that it was lawful? If not, why is it prohibited here? Various interpretations have been proposed. Some have supposed that James refers here to the offerings which harlots would make of their gains to the service of religion, and that James would prohibit the reception of it. Beza, Selden, and Schleusner, suppose the word is taken for idolatry, as it is often represented in the Scriptures as consisting in unfaithfulness to God, and as it is often called adultery. Heringius supposes that marriage between idolaters and Christians is here intended. But, after all, the usual interpretation of the word, as referring to illicit intercourse of the sexes of any kind, is undoubtedly here to be retained. There is no reason for departing from the ordinary and usual meaning of the word. If it be asked, then, why this was particularly forbidden, and was introduced in this connexion, we may reply,

(1.) that this vice prevailed everywhere among the Gentiles, and was that to which all were particularly exposed.

(2.) That it was not deemed by the Gentiles disgraceful. It was practised without shame, and without remorse.—-Terence, Adelph. 1, 2, 21. See Grotius. It was important, therefore, that the pure laws of Christianity on this subject should be known, and that special pains should be taken to instruct the early converts from paganism in those laws. The same thing is necessary still in heathen lands.

(3.) This crime was connected with religion. It was the practice not only to introduce indecent pictures and emblems into their worship, but also for females to devote themselves to the service of particular temples, and to devote the avails of indiscriminate prostitution to the service of the god, or the goddess. The vice was connected with no small part of the pagan worship; and the images, the emblems, and the customs of idolatry, everywhere tended to sanction and promote it. A mass of evidence on this subject, which sickens the heart—but which would be too long and too indelicate to introduce here-may be seen in Tholuck's Nature and Moral Influence of Heathenism, in the Biblical Repository, for July, 1832, pp. 441—464. As this vice was almost universal; as it was practised without shame or disgrace; as there were no laws among the heathen to prevent it; as it was connected with all their views of idol worship and of religion, it, was important for the early Christians to frown upon and to oppose it, and to set a peculiar guard against it in all the churches. It was the sin to which, of all others, they were the most exposed, and which was most likely to bring scandal on the Christian religion. It is for this cause that it is so often and so pointedly forbidden in the New Testament, Ro 1:29; 1 Co 6:13,18; Ga 5:19; Eph 5:3; 1 Th 4:3.

And from things strangled. That is, from animals or birds that were killed without shedding their brood. The reason why these were considered by the Jews unlawful to be eaten was, that thus they would be under a necessity of eating blood, which was positively forbidden by the law. Hence it was commanded in the law, that when any beast or fowl was taken in a snare, the blood should be poured out before it was lawful to be eaten, Le 17:13.

And from blood. The eating of blood was strictly forbidden to the Jews. The reason of this was that it contained the life, Le 17:11,14. See Barnes "Ro 3:25".

The use of blood was common among the Gentiles. They drank it often at their sacrifices, and in making covenants or compacts. To separate the Jews from them in this respect was one design of the prohibition. See Spencer, De Leg. Hebrm. pp. 144, 145, 169, 235, 377, 381, 594, Ed. 1732. See also this whole passage examined at length in Spencer, pp. 588—626. The primary reason of the prohibition was, that it was thus used in the feasts and compacts of idolaters. That blood was thus drank by the heathens, particularly by the Sabians, in their sacrifices, is fully proved by Spencer, De Leg., pp. 377—380. But the prohibition specifies a higher reason, that the life is in the blood, and that therefore it should not be eaten. See Barnes "Ro 3:25".

This reason existed before any ceremonial law; is founded in the nature of things; has no particular reference to any custom of the Jews; and therefore is as forcible in any other circumstances as in theirs. It was proper, therefore, to forbid it to the early Christian converts; and for the same reason its use should be abstained from everywhere. It adds to the force of these remarks, when we remember that the same principle was settled before the laws of Moses were given; and that God regarded the fact that the life was in the blood as of so much importance as to make the shedding of it worthy of death, Ge 9:4-6. It is supposed, therefore, that this law is still obligatory. Perhaps also there is no food more unwholesome than blood; and it is a further circumstance of some moment that all men naturally revolt from it as an article of food.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 21

Verse 21. For Moses. The meaning of this verse is, that the law of Moses, prohibiting these things, was read in the synagogues constantly. As these commands were constantly read, and as the Jewish converts would not soon learn that their ceremonial law had ceased to be binding, it was deemed to be a matter of expediency that no needless offence should be given to them. For the sake of peace, it was better that they should abstain from meat offered to idols than to give offence to the Jewish converts. Comp. 1 Co 8:10-13.

Of old time. Greek, From ancient generations. It is an established custom; and therefore his laws are well known, and have, in their view, not only the authority of revelation, but the venerableness of antiquity.

In every city. Where there were Jews. This was the case in all the cities to which the discussion here had reference.

Them that preach him. That is, by reading the law of Moses. But in addition to reading the law, it was customary also to offer an explanation of its meaning. See Barnes "Lu 14:16, and Lu 4:17-22.

{*} "old time" "From ancient generations"

{a} "being read" Ac 13:15,27

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 22

Verse 22. Then pleased it. It seemed fit and proper to them.

The apostles and elders. To whom the business had been particularly referred, Ac 15:2. Comp. Ac 16:4.

With the whole Church. All the Christians who were there assembled together. They concurred in the sentiment, and expressed their approbation in the letter that was sent, Ac 15:23. Whether they were consulted, does not particularly appear. But as it is not probable that they would volunteer an opinion unless they were consulted, it seems most reasonable to suppose that the apostles and elders submitted the case to them for their approbation. It would seem that the apostles and elders deliberated on it, and decided it; but still, for the sake of peace and unity, they also took measures to ascertain that their decision agreed with the unanimous sentiment of the church.

Chosen men. Men chosen for this purpose.

Of their own company. From among themselves. Greater weight and authority would thus be attached to their message.

Judas, surnamed Barsabas. Possibly the same who was nominated to the vacant place in the apostleship, Ac 1:23. But Grotius supposes that it was his brother.

And Silas. He was afterwards the travelling companion of Paul, Ac 15:40; 16:25,29; 17:4,10,15.

He is also the same person, probably, who is mentioned by the name of Silvanus, 2 Co 1:19; 1 Th 1:1 2 Th 1:1; 1 Pe 5:12.

Chief men among the brethren. Greek, Leaders. Comp. Lu 22:26. Men of influence, experience, and authority in the church. Judas and Silas are said to have been prophets, Ac 15:32. They had, therefore, been engaged as preachers and rulers in the church at Jerusalem.

{b} "Barsabas" Ac 1:23

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 23

Verse 23. And wrote letters. Greek, Having written. He does not mean that they wrote more than one epistle.

By them. Greek, By their hand.

After this manner. Greek, These things.

Send greeting. A word of salutation, expressing their desire of the happiness (cairein) of the persons addressed. Comp. Mt 26:49; Mt 27:29; Lu 1:28; Joh 19:3.

In Antioch. Where the difficulty first arose.

And Syria. Antioch was the capital of Syria, and it is probable that the dispute was not confined to the capital.

And Cilicia. See Barnes "Ac 6:9".

Cilicia was adjacent to Syria. Paul and Barnabas had travelled through it; and it is probable that the same difficulty would exist there which had disturbed the churches in Syria.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 24

Verse 24. Forasmuch. Since we have heard.

That certain. That some, Ac 15:1.

Have troubled you with words. With doctrines. They have disturbed your minds, and produced contentions.

Subverting your souls. The word here used occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, (anaskeuazontev.) It properly means to collect together the vessels used in a house—the household furniture—for the purpose of removing it. It is applied to marauders, robbers, and enemies, who remove and bear off property; thus producing distress, confusion, and disorder. It is thus used in the sense of disturbing, or destroying; and here denotes that they unsettled their minds—that they produced anxiety, disturbance, and distress—by these doctrines about Moses.

To whom we gave no such commandment. They went, therefore, without authority. Self-constituted and self-sent teachers not unfrequently produce disturbance and distress. Had the apostles been consulted on this subject, the difficulty would have been avoided. By thus saying that they had not given them a command to teach these things, they practically assured the Gentile converts that they did not approve of the course which those who went from Judea had taken.

{+} "certain" "Some"

{c} "which went out" Ac 15:1

{d} "troubled you" Ga 5:12

{e} "subverting your souls" Ga 5:4

{++} "saying" Unsettling your minds"

{f} "To whom we gave" Ga 2:4

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 25

Verse 25. No notes from Barnes on this verse.

{&} "one accord" "one mind"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 26

Verse 26. Men that have hazarded their lives, etc. See Ac 14. This was a noble testimony to the character of Barnabas and Paul. It was a commendation of them to the confidence of the churches, and an implied expression that they wished their authority to be regarded in the establishment and organization of the church.

For the name. In the cause of the Lord Jesus.

{g} "hazarded their lives" Ac 13:50; 14:19

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 27

Verse 27. The same things. The same things that we wrote to you. They shall confirm all by their own statements.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 29

Verse 29. From meats offered to idols. This explains what is meant by "pollutions of idols," Ac 15:20.

Ye shall do well. You will do what ought to be done in regard to the subjects of dispute.

{i} "abstain from meats" Ac 15:20

{k} "keep yourselves" 2 Co 11:9; Jas 1:27; 1 Jo 5:21; Jude 1:20,21

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 31

Verse 31. They rejoiced for the consolation. They acquiesced in the decision of the apostles and elders, and rejoiced that they were not to be subjected to the burdensome rites and ceremonies of the Jewish religion. This closes the account of the first Christian council. It was conducted throughout on Christian principles, in a mild, kind, conciliatory spirit; and is a model for all similar assemblages. It came together, not to promote, but to silence disputation; not to persecute the people of God, but to promote their peace; not to be a scene of harsh and angry recrimination, but to be an example of all that was mild, and tender, and kind. Those who composed it came together, not to carry a point, not to overreach their adversaries, not to be party men; but to mingle their sober counsels to inquire what was right, and to express, in a Christian manner, that which was proper to be done. Great and important principles were to be established, in regard to the Christian church; and they engaged in their work evidently with a deep sense of their responsibility, and with a just view of their dependence on the aid of the Holy Spirit. How happy would it have been if this spirit had been possessed by all professedly Christian councils! How happy, if all had really sought the peace and harmony of the churches; and if none had ever been convened to kindle the fires of persecution, to evince the spirit of party, or to rend and destroy the church of God!

This council has been usually appealed to as the authority for councils in the church, as a permanent arrangement; and especially as an authority for courts of appeal and control. But it establishes neither, and should be brought as an authority for neither. For,

(1.) it was not a court of appeal in any intelligible sense. It was an assembly convened for a special purpose; designed to settle an inquiry which arose in a particular part of the church, and which required the collected wisdom of the apostles and elders to settle.

(2.) It had none of the marks or appendages of a court. The term court, or judicature, is nowhere applied to it, nor to any assembly of Christian men, in the New Testament. Nor should these terms be used now in the churches. Courts of judicature imply a degree of authority, which cannot be proved from the New Testament to have been conceded to any ecclesiastical body of men.

(3.) There is not the slightest intimation that anything like permanency was to be attached to this council; or that it would be periodically or regularly repeated. It will prove, indeed, that when cases of difficulty occur, when Christians are perplexed and embarrassed, or when contentions arise, it will be proper to refer to Christian men for advice and direction. Such was the case here; and such a course is obviously proper. If it should be maintained that it is well that Christian ministers and laymen should assemble periodically, at stated intervals, on the supposition that such cases may arise, this is conceded; but the example of the apostles and elders should not be pleaded as making such assemblies of Divine right and authority, or as being essential to the existence of the church of God. Such an arrangement has been deemed to be so desirable by Christians, that it has been adopted by Episcopalians in their regular annual and triennial conventions; by Methodists in their conferences; by Presbyterians in their general assembly; by Friends in their yearly meetings; by Baptists and Congregationalists in their associations, etc. But the example of the council summoned on a special emergency at Jerusalem should not be pleaded as giving Divine authority to all, or to any, of these periodical assemblages. They are wise and prudent arrangements, contributing to the peace of the church; and the example of the council at Jerusalem can be adduced as furnishing as much Divine authority for one as for another; that is, it does not make all or either of them of Divine authority, or as obligatory on the church of God.

(4.) It should be added, that a degree of authority (compare Ac 16:4) would, of course, be attached to the decision of the apostles and elders of that time, which cannot be to any body of ministers and laymen now. Besides, it should never be forgotten—what, alas, it seems to have been the pleasure and the interests of ecclesiastics to forget—that neither the apostles nor elders asserted any jurisdiction over the churches of Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia; that they did not claim a right to have these cases referred to them; that they did not attempt "to lord it" over their faith or their consciences. The case was a single, specific, definite question, referred to them; and they decided it as such. They asserted no abstract right of such jurisdiction; they sought not to intermeddle with it; they enjoined no future reference to them, to their successors, or to any ecclesiastical tribunal. They evidently regarded the churches as blessed with the most ample freedom; and evidently contemplated no arrangement of a permanent character, asserting a right to legislate on articles of faith, or to make laws for the direction of the Lord's freemen.

{1} "consolation" "exhortation"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 32

Verse 32. Being prophets. See Barnes "Ac 11:27".

This evidently implies that they had been preachers before they went to Antioch. What was the precise nature of the office of a prophet in the Christian church, it is not easy to ascertain. Possibly it may imply that they were teachers of unusual or remarkable ability.

Confirmed them. Strengthened them; that is, by their instructions and exhortations. See Barnes "Ac 14:22".

{*} "prophets" "teachers"

{a} "confirmed them" Ac 14:22

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 33

Verse 33. A space. For some time.

They were let go in peace. An expression implying that they departed with the affectionate regard of the Christians to whom they had ministered, and with their highest wishes for their prosperity, 1 Co 16:11; 2 Jo 1:10. Silas however, it seems, chose to remain.

Unto the apostles. At Jerusalem. Many Mss., however, instead of "unto the apostles," read, "unto those who had sent them." The sense is not materially different.

{+} "tarried" "Abode"

{++} "a space" "For some time"

{|} "let go" "dismissed"

{b} "peace" 1 Co 16:11; 2 Jo 1:10

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 34

Verse 34. Notwithstanding, etc. This whole verse is wanting in many Mss., in the Syriac, Arabic, and Coptic versions; and is regarded as spurious by Mill, Griesbach, and by other critics. It was probably introduced by some early transcriber, who judged it necessary to complete the narrative. The Latin Vulgate reads, "It seemed good to Silas to remain, but Judas went alone to Jerusalem."

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 35

Verse 35. Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch,. How long a time is unknown. It is probable that at this time the unhappy incident occurred between Paul and Peter, which is recorded in Ga 2:11-14.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 36

Verse 36. Let us go again and visit our brethren. That is, in the churches which they had established in Asia Minor, Ac 13, Ac 14. This was a natural wish; and was an enterprise that might be attended with important advantages to those feeble churches.

{c} "in every city" Ac 13:4

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 37

Verse 37. And Barnabas determined. Greek, willed, or was disposed to ebouleusato.

John, etc. See Barnes "Ac 12:12".

He had been with them before as a travelling companion, Ac 12:25; 13:5. He was the son of a sister of Barnabas, Col 4:10; and it is probable that Barnabas' affection for his nephew was the main reason for inducing him to wish to take him with him in the journey.

{|} "determined" "desired"

{d} "John, whose surname" Ac 12:12,25; Col 4:10

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 38

Verse 38. But Paul thought not good. Did not think it proper. Because he could not confide in his perseverance with them in the toils and perils of their journey.

Who departed from them, etc. Ac 13:13. Why he did this is not known. It was evidently, however, for some cause which Paul did not consider satisfactory, and which, in his view, disqualified him from being their attendant again.

To the work. Of preaching the gospel.

{e} "departed" Ac 13:13

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 39

Verse 39. And the contention was so sharp. The word used here— paroxusmov—is that from which our word paroxysm is derived. It may denote any excitement of mind, and is used in a good sense in Heb 10:24. It here means, evidently, a violent altercation that resulted in their separation for a time, and in their engaging in different spheres of labour.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 40

Verse 40. Being recommended. Being commended by prayer to God. See Barnes "Ac 14:26".

{a} "recommended by the" Ac 14:26; 20:32

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 41

Verse 41. Syria and Cilicia. These were countries lying near to each other, which Paul, in company with Barnabas, had before visited.

Confirming the churches. Strengthening them by instruction and exhortation. It has no reference to the rite of confirmation. See Barnes "Ac 14:22".

In regard to this unhappy contention between Paul and Barnabas, and their separation from each other, we may make the following remarks:

(1.) That no apology or vindication of it is offered by the sacred writer. It was undoubtedly improper and evil. It was a melancholy instance in which even apostles evinced an improper spirit, and engaged in improper strife.

(2.) In this contention it is probable that Paul was, in the main, right. Barnabas seems to have been influenced by attachment to a relative; Paul sought a helper who would not shrink from duty and danger. It is clear that Paul had the sympathies and prayers of the church in his favour, Ac 15:40, and it is more than probable that Barnabas departed without any such sympathy, Ac 15:39.

(3.) There is reason to think that this contention was overruled for the furtherance of the gospel. They went to different places, and preached to different people. It often happens that the unhappy and wicked strifes of Christians are the means of exciting their zeal, and of extending the gospel, and of establishing churches. But no thanks to their contention; nor is the guilt of their anger and strife mitigated by this.

(4.) This difference was afterwards reconciled, and Paul and Barnabas again became travelling companions, 1 Co 9:6; Ga 2:9.

(5.) There is evidence that Paul also became reconciled to John Mark, Col 4:10; Phm 1:24; 2 Ti 4:11.

How long this separation continued is not known; but perhaps in this journey with Barnabas, John gave such evidence of his courage and zeal as induced Paul again to admit him to his confidence as a travelling companion, and as to become a profitable fellow-labourer. See 2 Ti 4:11, "Take Mark, and bring him with thee; for he is profitable to me for the ministry."

(6.) This account proves that there was no collusion or agreement among the apostles to impose upon mankind. Had there been such an agreement, and had the books of the New Testament been an imposture, the apostles would have been represented as perfectly harmonious, and as united in all their views and efforts. What impostor would have thought of the device of representing the early friends of the Christian religion as divided, and contending, and separating from each other? Such a statement has an air of candour and honesty, and at the same time is apparently so much again, st the truth of the system, that no impostor would have thought of resorting to it.

{b} "confirming the churches" Ac 16:5

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