RPM, Volume 18, Number 9, February 21 to February 27, 2016

Barnes' New Testament Notes

Notes on the New Testament Explanatory and Practical
Part 43

By Albert Barnes

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 1

Verse 1. Then came he. That is, Paul, in company with Silas. Luke does not give us the history of Barnabas, but confines his narrative to the journey of Paul.

To Derbe and Lystra. See Barnes "Ac 14:6

And behold a certain disciple—named Timotheus. It was to this disciple that Paul afterwards addressed the two epistles which bear his name. It is evident that he was a native of one of these places, but whether of Derbe or Lystra it is impossible to determine.

The son of a certain woman, etc. Her name was Eunice, 2 Ti 1:5.

And believed. And was a Christian. It is evident also that her mother was a woman of distinguished Christian piety, 2 Ti 1:5. It was not lawful for a Jew to marry a woman of another nation, or to give his daughter in marriage to a Gentile, Ezr 9:12. But it is probable that this law was not regarded very strictly by the Jews who lived in the midst of heathen nations. It is evident that Timothy, at this time, was very young; for when Paul besought him to abide at Ephesus, to take charge of the church there, 1 Ti 1:3, he addressed him then as a young man: 1 Ti 4:12, "Let no man despise thy youth."

But his father was a Greek. Evidently a man who had not been circumcised—for had he been, Timothy would have been also.

{c} "Derbe and Lystra" Ac 14:6

{d} "Timotheus" Ac 19:22

{e} "certain woman" Ac 14:5

{*} "Greek" "A Gentile"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 2

Verse 2. Which. That is, Timothy. The connexion requires us to understand this of him. Of the character of his father nothing is known. Was well reported of. Was esteemed highly as a young man of piety and promise. See Barnes "Ac 6:3" comp. 1 Ti 5:10. Timothy had been religiously educated. He was carefully trained in the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, and was therefore the better qualified for his work, 2 Ti 3:15.

{f} "well reported" Ac 6:3

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 3

Verse 3. Him would Paul have, etc. This was an instance of Paul's selecting young men of piety for the holy ministry. It shows,

(1.) that he was disposed to look up and call forth the talent that might be in the church, that might be usefully employed. It is quite evident that Timothy would not have thought of this, had it not been suggested by Paul. The same thing education societies are attempting now to accomplish.

(2.) That Paul sought proper qualifications, and valued them. Those were,

(a.) that he had a good reputation for piety, etc., Ac 16:2
This he demanded as an indispensable qualification for a minister of the gospel. 1 Ti 3:7. "Moreover he (a bishop) must have a good report of them which are without." Comp. Ac 22:12.

(b) Paul esteemed him to be a young man of talents and prudence.
His admitting him to a partnership in his labours, and his entrusting to him the affairs of the church at Ephesus, prove this.

(c) He had been carefully trained in the Holy Scriptures. A foundation was thus laid for usefulness. And this qualification seems to have been deemed by Paul of indispensable value for the right discharge of his duties in this holy office.

And he took and circumcised him. This was evidently done to avoid the opposition and reproaches of the Jews. It was a measure not binding in itself, (comp. Ac 15:1,28,29) but the neglect of which would expose to contention and opposition among the Jews, and greatly retard or destroy his usefulness. It was an act of expediency for the sake of peace, and was in accordance with Paul's uniform and avowed principle of conduct. 1 Co 9:20, "And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews." Comp. Ac 21:23-26.

{g} "circumcised him, because" Ga 2:3-8; 5:1-3

{h} "Jews which were" 1 Co 9:20

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 4

Verse 4. And as they went through the cities. The cities of Syria, Cilicia, etc.

They delivered them. Paul and Silas delivered to the Christians in those cities.

The decrees. ta dogmata. The decrees in regard to the four things specified in Ac 15:20,29. The word translated decrees occurs in Lu 2:1, "A decree from Caesar Augustus;" in Ac 17:7, "The decrees of Caesar;" in Eph 2:15 and in Col 2:14. It properly means, a law or edict of a king or legislature. In this instance it was the decision of the council in a case submitted to it; and implied an obligation on the Christians to submit to that decision. The laws of the apostles would, and ought to be, in such cases, esteemed to be binding. It is probable that a correct and attested copy of the letter, Ac 15:23-29 would be sent to the various churches of the Gentiles.

To keep. To obey, or to observe.

That were ordained. Gr., That were adjudged, or determined.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 5

Verse 5. Established in the faith. Confirmed in the belief of the Gospel. The effect of the wise and conciliatory measure was to increase and strengthen the churches.

{k} "churches established" Ac 15:41

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 6

Verse 6. Throughout Phrygia. This was the largest province of Asia Minor. It had Bithynia, north; Pisidia and Lycia, south; Galatia and Cappadocia, east; and Lydia and Mysia, west.

And the region of Galatia. This province was directly east of Phrygia. The region was formerly conquered by the Gauls. They settled in it, and called it, after their own name, Galatia. The Gauls invaded the country at different times, and no less than three tribes or bodies of Gauls had possession of it. Many Jews were also settled there. It was from this cause that so many parties could be formed there, and that so much controversy would arise between the Jewish and Gentile converts. See the Epistle to the Galatians.

And were forbidden. Probably by a direct revelation. The reason of this was, doubtless, that it was the intention of God to extend the gospel farther into the regions of Greece than would have been done if they had remained in Asia Minor. This prohibition was the means of the first introduction of the gospel into Europe.

In Asia. See Barnes "Ac 2:9".

This was doubtless the region of proconsular Asia. This region was also called Ionia. Of this region Ephesus was the capital; and here were situated also the cities of Smyrna, Thyatira, Philadelphia, etc., within which the seven churches, mentioned in Revelation chapters 1-3, were established. Cicero speaks of proconsular Asia as containing the provinces of Phrygia, Mysia, Carla, and Lydia. In all this region the gospel was afterwards preached with great success. But now a more important and wider field was opened before Paul and Barnabas, in the extensive country of Macedonia.

{l} "Galatia" Ga 1:2; 1 Pe 1:1

{m} "forbidden of the Holy Ghost" Am 8:11,12; 1 Co 12:11

{+} "Ghost" "Spirit"

{n} "in Asia" Re 1:4,11

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 7

Verse 7. Mysia. This was a province of Asia Minor, having Propontis on the north, Bithynia on the east, Lydia on the south, and the AEgean Sea on the west.

They assayed. They endeavoured; they attempted.

Into Bithynia. A province of Asia Minor, lying east of Mysia.

{*} "assayed" "attempted"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 8

Verse 8. Came down to Troas. This was a city of Phrygia or Mysia, on the Hellespont, between Troy north, and Assos south. Sometimes the name Troas, or Troad, is used to denote the whole country of the Trojans, the province where the ancient city of Troy had stood. This region was much celebrated in the early periods of Grecian history. It was here that the events recorded in the Iliad of Homer are supposed to have occurred. The city of Troy has long since been completely destroyed. Troas is several times mentioned in the New Testament, 2 Co 2:12; 2 Ti 4:13; Ac 20:5.

{a} "Troas" 2 Co 2:12

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 9

Verse 9. And a vision. See Barnes "Ac 9:10".

There stood a man, etc. The appearance of a man, who was known to be of Macedonia, probably, by his dress and language. Whether this was in a dream, or whether it was a representation made to the senses while awake it is impossible to tell. The will of God was at different times made known in both these ways. Comp. Mt 2:12; See Barnes "Ac 10:3".

Grotius supposes that this was the guardian angel of Macedonia, and refers for illustration to Da 10:12,13,20,21.

But there seems to be no foundation for this opinion.

Of Macedonia. This was an extensive country of Greece, having Thrace on the north, Thessaly south, Epirus west, and the AEgean Sea east. It is supposed that it was peopled by Kittim, son of Javan, Ge 10:4. The kingdom rose into celebrity chiefly under the reign of Philip and his son Alexander the Great. It was the first region in Europe in which we have any record that the gospel was preached.

And help us. That is, by preaching the gospel. This was a call to preach the gospel in an extensive heathen land, amidst many trials and dangers. To this call, notwithstanding all this prospect of danger, they cheerfully responded, and gave themselves to the work. Their conduct was thus an example to the church. From all portions of the earth a similar call is now coming to the churches. Openings of a similar character, for the introduction of the gospel, are presented in all lands. Appeals are coming from every quarter; and all that seems now necessary for the speedy conversion of the world, is for the church to enter into these vast fields with the self-denial, spirit, and zeal which characterized the apostle Paul.

{b} "man of Macedonia" Ac 10:30

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 10

Verse 10. We endeavoured. This is the first instance in which Luke refers to himself as being in company with Paul. It is hence probable that he joined Paul and Silas about this time; and it is evident that he attended him in his travels, as recorded throughout the remainder of the Acts.

Assuredly gathering. Being certainly convinced.

{c} "go into Macedonia" 2 Co 2:13

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 11

Verse 11. Loosing from Troas. Setting sail from this place.

To Samothracia. This was an island in the AEgean Sea, not far from Thrace. It was peopled by inhabitants from Samos and from Thrace, and hence called Samothracia. It was about twenty miles in circumference; and was an asylum for fugitives and criminals.

And the next day to Neapolis.This was a maritime city of Macedonia, near the borders of Thrace. It is now called Napoli.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 12

Verse 12. And from thence to Philippi. The former name of this city was Dathos. It was repaired and adorned by Philip, the father of Alexander the Great, and after him was called Philippi. It was famous for having been the place where several battles were fought in the civil wars of the Romans; and, among others, for the decisive battle between Brutus and Antony. At this place Brutus killed himself. To the church in this place Paul afterwards wrote the epistle which bears its name.

Which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia. This whole region had been conquered by the Romans under Paulus Emilius. By him it was divided into four parts or provinces. (Livy.) The Syriac version renders it, "a city of the first part of Macedonia;" and there is a medal extant which also describes this region by this name. It has been proposed, therefore, to alter the Greek text in accordance with this, since it is known that Amphipolis was made the chief city by Paulus Emilius. But it may be remarked, that although Amphipolis was the chief city in the time of Paulus Emilius, it may have happened that in the lapse of two hundred and twenty years from that time, Philippi might have become the most extensive and splendid city. The Greek here may also mean simply that this was the first city to which they arrived in their travels.

And a colony. This is a Latin word, and means that this was a Roman colony. The word denotes a city or province which was planted or occupied by Roman citizens. On one of the coins now extant, it is recorded that Julius Caesar bestowed the advantages and dignity of a colony on Philippi, which Augustus afterwards confirmed and augmented. See Rob. Cal., Art. Philippi.

Certain days. Some days.

{d} "Philippi, which is the chief city" Php 1:1

{1} "the chief city" "the first"

{+} "certain days" "Some"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 13

Verse 13. And on the sabbath. There is no doubt that in this city there were Jews. In the time of the apostles they were scattered extensively throughout the known world.

By a river side. What river this was is not known. It is known, however, that the Jews were accustomed to provide water, or to build their synagogues and oratories near water, for the convenience of the numerous washings before and during their religious services.

Where prayer. Where there was a proseuchae, or place of prayer; or where prayer was commonly offered. The Greek will bear either; but the sense is the same. Places for prayer were erected by the Jews in the vicinity of cities and towns, and particularly where there were not Jewish families enough, or where they were forbidden by the magistrate to erect a synagogue. These proseuchae, or places of prayer, were simple enclosures made of stones in a grove, or under a tree, where there would be a retired and convenient place for worship.

Was wont. Was accustomed to be offered; or where it was established by custom.

And spake unto the women, etc. This was probably before the regular service of the place commenced.

{2} "the sabbath" "Sabbath day"

{e} "was wont" Ac 21:5

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 14

Verse 14. A seller of purple. Purple was a most valuable colour, obtained usually from shell-fish. It was chiefly worn by princes, and by the rich; and the traffic in it might be very profitable.

The city of Thyatira. This was a city of Lydia, in Asia Minor, now called Ak-hisar. The art of dying was particularly cultivated, as appears from an inscription found there. (See Kuinoel.)

Which worshipped God. A religious woman; a proselyte. See Barnes "Ac 13:16"

Whose heart the Lord opened. See Barnes "Lu 24:45".

{a} "the Lord opened" Lu 24:45

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 15

Verse 15. And when she was baptized. Apparently without any delay. Comp. Ac 2:41; 8:38. It was usual to be baptized immediately on believing.

And her household. Gr., Her house, (o oikov authv.) Her family. No mention is made of their having believed. And the case is one that affords a strong presumptive proof that this was an instance of household or infant baptism. For,

(1.) her believing is particularly mentioned.

(2.) It is not intimated that they believed. On the contrary, it is strongly implied that they did not.

(3.) It is manifestly implied that they were baptized because she believed. It was the offering of her family to the Lord. It is just such an account as would now be given of a household or family that were baptized on the faith of the parent.

If ye have judged me to be faithful. If you deem me a Christian, or a believer.

And she constrained us. She urged us. This was an instance of great hospitality, and also an evidence of her desire for further instruction in the doctrines of religion.

{b} "besought us" Heb 13:2

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 16

Verse 16. As we went to prayer. Greek, As we were going to the proseuchae, the place of prayer, Ac 16:13. Whether this was on the same day in which the conversion of Lydia occurred, or at another time, is not mentioned by the historian.

A certain damsel. A maid; a young woman.

Possessed with a spirit of divination. Greek, Python. See the margin. Python, or Pythios, was one of the names of Apollo, the Grecian god of the fine arts, of music, poetry, medicine, and eloquence. Of these he was esteemed to have been the inventor. He was reputed to be the third son of Jupiter and Latona. He had a celebrated temple and oracle at Delphi, which was resorted to from all parts of the world, and which was perhaps the only oracle that was in universal repute. The name Python is said to have been given him, because, as soon as he was born, he destroyed with arrows a serpent of that name, that had been seen by Juno to persecute Latona; hence his common name was the Pythian Apollo. He had temples on Mount Parnassus, at Delphi, Delos, Claros, Tenedos, etc., and his worship was almost universal In the celebrated oracle at Delphi, the priestess of Apollo pretended to be inspired; became violently agitated during the periods of pretended inspiration; and during those periods gave such responses to inquirers as were regarded as the oracles of the god. Others would also make pretensions to such inspiration; and the art of fortune-telling, or of jugglery, was extensively practised, and was the source of much gain. See Barnes "Ac 8:8-10".

What was the cause of this extensive delusion in regard to the oracle at Delphi, it is not necessary now to inquire. It is plain that Paul regarded this as a case of demoniacal possession, and treated it accordingly.

Her masters. Those in whose employ she was.

By soothsaying. Pretending to foretell future events.

{c} "possessed with" 1 Sa 28:7

{1} "divination" "Python"

{d} "gain by soothsaying" Ac 19:24

{*} "soothsaying" "Divining"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 17

Verse 17. The same followed Paul, etc. Why she did this, or under what pretence, the sacred writer has not informed us. Various conjectures have been formed of the reason why this was done. It may have been,

(1.) that as she prophesied for gain, she supposed that Paul and Silas would reward her if she publicly proclaimed that they were the servants of God. Or,

(2.) because she was conscious that an evil spirit possessed her, and that she feared that Paul and Silas would expel that spirit; and that, by proclaiming them to be the servants of God, she hoped to conciliate their favour. Or,

(3.) more probably, it was because she saw evident tokens of their being sent from God, and that their doctrine would prevail; and by proclaiming this she hoped to acquire more authority, and a higher reputation for being herself inspired. Comp. Mr 5:7.

{e} "most high God" Ge 14:18-22

{f} "way of salvation" Ac 18:26; Heb 10:20

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 18

Verse 18. But Paul, being grieved. Being molested, troubled, offended. Paul was grieved, probably,

(1.) because her presence was troublesome to him;

(2.) because it might be said that he was in alliance with her, and that his pretensions were just like hers;

(3) because what she did was for the sake of gain, and was a base imposition;

(4.) because her state was one of bondage and delusion, and it was proper to free her from this demoniacal possession; and,

(5.) because the system under which she was acting was a part of a vast scheme of delusion and imposture, which had spread over a large portion of the pagan world, and which was then holding it in bondage. Throughout the Roman empire, the inspiration of the priestesses of Apollo was believed in; and temples were everywhere reared to perpetuate and celebrate the delusion. Against this extensive system of imposture and fraud, Christianity must oppose itself; and this was a favourable instance to expose the delusion, and to show the power of the Christian religion over all the arts and powers of imposture. The mere fact that in a very few instances—of which this was one—they spoke the truth, did not make it improper for Paul to interpose. That fact would only tend to perpetuate the delusion, and to make his interposition more proper and necessary.

The expulsion of the evil spirit would also afford a signal proof of the fact that the apostles were really from God. A far better proof than her noisy and troublesome proclamation of it would furnish.

In the name of Jesus Christ. Or, by the authority of Jesus Christ. See Barnes "Ac 3:6".

{g} "said to the spirit" Mr 1:25,34

{h} "he came out" Mr 16:17

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 19

Verse 19. The hope of their gains was gone. It was this that troubled and enraged them. And this is as likely to enrage men as anything. Instead of regarding the act as proof of Divine power, they were intent only on their profits. And their indignation furnishes a remarkable illustration of the fixedness with which men will regard wealth; of the fact that the love of it will blind them to all the truths of religion, and all the proofs of the power and presence of God; and of the fact that any interposition of Divine power that destroys their hopes of gain, fills them with wrath and hatred and murmuring. Many a man has been opposed to God and his gospel, because, if religion should be extensively prevalent, the hopes of gain would be gone. Many a slave-dealer, and many a trafficker in ardent spirits, and many a man engaged in other unlawful modes of gain, have been unwilling to abandon their employments, simply because the hopes of their gain would be destroyed. No small part of the opposition to the gospel arises from the fact, that, if embraced, it would strike at so much of the dishonourable employments of men, and make them honest and conscientious.

The marketplace. The court, or forum. The market-place was a place of concourse; and the courts were often held in or near those places.

The rulers. The term used here refers commonly to civil magistrates.

{i} "gains was gone" Ac 19:24,27

{2} "market-place" "court"

{k} "rulers" Mt 10:18

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 20

Verse 20. And brought them to the magistrates. To the military rulers, (strathgoiv) or praetors. Philippi was a Roman colony; and it is probable that the officers of the army exercised the double function of civil and military rulers.

Do exceedingly trouble our city. In what way they did it, they specify in the next verse. The charge which they wished to substantiate was that of being disturbers of the public peace. All at once they became conscientious. They forgot the subject of their gains, and were greatly distressed about the violation of the laws. There is nothing that will make men more hypocritically conscientious, than to denounce, and detect, and destroy their unlawful and dishonest practices. Men who are thus exposed become suddenly filled with reverence for the law, or for religion; and they, who have heretofore cared nothing for either, become greatly alarmed lest the public peace should be disturbed. Men slumber quietly in sin, and pursue their wicked gains; they hate or despise all law and all forms of religion; but the moment their course of life is attacked and exposed, they become full of zeal for laws that they would not themselves hesitate to violate, and for the customs of religion, which in their hearts they thoroughly despise. Worldly-minded men often thus complain that their towns, and cities, and villages, are disturbed by revivals of religion; and the preaching of the truth, and attacking vice, often arouses this hypocritical conscientiousness, and makes them alarmed for the laws, and for religion, and for order, which they at other times are the first to disturb and disregard.

{l} "our city" 1 Ki 18:17; Ac 17:6

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 21

Verse 21. And teach customs. The word customs here (eyh) refers to religious rites or forms of worship. See Barnes "Ac 6:14".

They meant to charge the apostles with introducing a new mode of worship and a new religion, which was unauthorized by the Roman laws. This was a cunning and artful accusation. It is perfectly evident that they cared nothing either for the religion of the Romans or of the Jews. Nor were they really concerned about any change of religion. Paul had destroyed their hopes of gain; and as they could not prevent that except by securing his punishment or expulsion, and as they had no way of revenge except by endeavouring to excite indignation against him and Silas for violating the laws, they endeavoured to convict them of such violation. This is one, among many instances, where wicked and unprincipled men will endeavour to make religion the means of promoting their Own interest. If they can make money by it, they will become its professed friends; or if they can annoy Christians, they will at once have remarkable zeal for the laws and for the purity of religion. Many a man opposes revivals of religion and the real progress of evangelical piety, from professed zeal for truth and order.

Which are not lawful for us to receive, There were laws of the Roman empire under which they might shield themselves in this charge, though it is evident that their zeal was not because they loved the laws more, but because they loved Christianity less. Thus Servius on Virgil, AEnead, viii. 181, says, "Care was taken among the Athenians and the Romans, that no one should introduce new religions. It was on this account that Socrates was condemned, and the Chaldeans or Jews were banished from the city." Cicero (de Legibus ii. 8) says, "No person shall have any separate gods, or new ones; nor shall he privately worship any strange gods, unless they be publicly allowed." Wetstein (in loco) says, "The Romans would indeed allow foreigners to worship their own gods, but not unless it were done secretly, so that the worship of foreign gods would not interfere with the allowed worship of the Romans, and so that occasion for dissension and controversy might be avoided. Neither was it lawful among the Romans to recommend a new religion to the citizens, contrary to that which was confirmed and established by the public authority, and to call off the people from that. It was on this account that there was such a hatred of the Romans against the Jews." (Kuinoel.) Tertullian says, that "there was a decree that no god should be consecrated, unless approved by the senate." (Grotius.) See many other authorities quoted in Bishop Watsoh's "Apology for Christianity."

To observe. To do.

Being Romans. Having the privileges of Roman citizens. See Barnes "Ac 16:12".

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 22

Verse 22. And the multitude, etc. It is evident that this was done in a popular tumult, and without even the form of law. Of this, Paul afterwards justly complained, as it was a violation of the privileges of a Roman citizen, and contrary to the laws. See Barnes "Ac 16:37".

It was one instance in which men affect great zeal for the honour of the law, and yet are among the first to disregard it.

And the magistrates. Ac 16:20. They who should have been their protectors, until they had had a fair trial according to law.

Rent off their clothes. This was always done when one was to be scourged or whipped. The criminal was usually stripped entirely naked. Livy says, (ii. 5,) "The lictors, being sent to inflict punishment, beat them with rods, being naked." Cicero against Vetres says, "He commanded the man to be seized, and to be stripped naked in the midst of the forum, and to be bound, and rods to be brought."

And commanded to beat them. Rabdizein. To beat them with rods. This was done by lictors, whose office it was, and was a common mode of punishment among the Romans. Probably Paul alludes to this when he says, (2 Co 11:25,) "Thrice was I beaten with rods."

{*} "rent off" "tore"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 23

Verse 23. And when they had laid many stripes upon them. The Jews were by law prohibited from inflicting more than forty stripes, and usually inflicted but thirty-nine, 2 Co 11:24. But there was no such law among the Romans. They were unrestricted in regard to the number of lashes; and probably inflicted many more. Perhaps Paul refers to this when he says, (2 Co 11:23,) "In stripes above measure," i. e., beyond the usual measure among the Jews, or beyond moderation.

They cast them into prison. The magistrates, Ac 16:36,37, as a punishment; and probably with a view hereafter of taking vengeance on them, more according to the forms of law.

{a} "many stripes" 2 Co 6:5; 11:23,25; 1 Th 2:2

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 24

Verse 24. Thrust them into the inner prison. Into the most retired and secure part of the prison. The cells in the interior of the prison would be regarded as more safe, being doubtless more protected, and the difficulty of escape would be greater.

And made their feet fast in the stocks. Greek, And made their feet secure to wood. The word stocks, with us, denotes a machine made of two pieces of timber, between which the feet of the criminals are placed, and in which they are thus made secure. The account here does not imply necessarily that they were secured precisely in this way, but that they were fastened or secured by the feet, probably by cords, to a piece or beam of wood, so that they could not escape. It is supposed that the legs of the prisoners were bound to large pieces of wood, which not only encumbered them, but which often were so placed as to extend their feet to a considerable distance. In this condition it might be necessary for them to lie on their backs; and if this, as is probable, was on the cold ground, after their severe scourging, their sufferings must have been very great. Yet in the midst of this they sang praises to God.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 25

Verse 25. And at midnight. Probably their painful posture, the sufferings of their recent scourging, prevented their sleeping. Yet, though they had no repose, they had a quiet conscience, and the supports of religion.

Prayed. Though they had suffered much, yet they had reason to apprehend more. They sought, therefore, the sustaining grace of God.

And sang praises. Nothing but religion would have enabled them to do this. They had endured much, but they had cause still for gratitude. A Christian may find more true joy in a prison, than the monarch on his throne.

And the prisoners heard them. And doubtless with astonishment. Prayer and praise were not common in a prison. The song of rejoicing and the language of praise is not usual among men lying bound in a dungeon, From this narrative we may learn,

(1.) that the Christian has the sources of his happiness within him. External circumstances cannot destroy his peace and joy. In a dungeon he may find as real happiness as on a throne. On the cold earth, beaten and bruised, he may be as truly happy as on a bed of down.

(2.) The enemies of Christians cannot destroy their peace. They may incarcerate the body, but they cannot bind the spirit. They may exclude from earthly comforts, but they cannot shut them out from the presence and sustaining grace of God.

(3.) We see the value of a good conscience. Nothing else can give peace; and amidst the wakeful hours of the night, whether in a dungeon or on a bed of sickness, it is of more value than all the wealth of the world.

(4.) We see the inestimable worth of the religion of Christ. It fits for all scenes; supports in all trims; upholds by day or by night; inspires the soul with confidence in God; and puts into the lips the songs of praise and thanksgiving.

(5.) We have here a sublime and holy scene, which sin and infidelity could never furnish. What more sublime spectacle has the earth witnessed than that of scourged and incarcerated men, suffering from unjust and cruel inflictions, and anticipating still greater sorrows; yet, with a calm mind, a pure conscience, a holy joy, pouring forth their desires and praises at midnight, into the ear of the God, who always hears prayer! The darkness, the stillness, the loneliness, all give sublimity to the scene, and teach us how invaluable is the privilege of access to the throne of mercy in this suffering world.

{b} "prayed" Jas 5:13

{c} "praises" Ps 34:1

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 26

Verse 26. And suddenly. While they were praying and singing. A great earthquake. Mt 28:2. An earthquake, in such circumstances, was regarded as a symbol of the presence of God, and as an answer to prayer. See Barnes "Ac 4:31".

The design of this was, doubtless, to furnish them proof of the presence and protection of God, and to provide a way for them to escape. It was one among the series of wonders by which the gospel was established, and the early Christians protected amidst their dangers.

And immediately all the doors were opened. An effect that would naturally follow from the violent concussion of the earthquake. Comp. Ac 5:19.

Every one's bands were loosed. This was evidently a miracle. Some have supposed that their chains were dissolved by electric fluid; but the narrative gives no account of any such fluid, even supposing such an effect to be possible. It was evidently a direct interposition of Divine power. But for what purpose it was done is not recorded. Grotius supposes it was that they might know that the apostles might be useful to them and to others, and that by them their spiritual bonds might be loosed. Probably the design was to impress all the prisoners with the conviction of the presence and power of God, and thus to prepare them to receive the message of life from the lips of his servants Paul and Silas. They had just before heard them singing and praying; they were aware, doubtless, of the cause for which they were imprisoned; they saw evident tokens that they were the servants of the Most High, and under his protection; and their own minds were impressed and awed by the terrors of the earthquake, and by the fact of their own liberation. It renders this scene the more remarkable, that though the doors were opened, and the prisoners loosed, yet no one made any attempt to escape.

{a} "all the doors were opened" Is 42:7; Ac 5:19; 12:7,10

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 27

Verse 27. Would have killed himself. This was all done in the midst of agitation and alarm. He supposed that the prisoners had fled. He presumed that their escape would be charged on him. It was customary to hold a jailer responsible for the safe keeping of prisoners, and to subject him to the punishment due to them, if he suffered them to escape. See Ac 12:19. It should be added, that it was common, and approved among the Greeks and Romans, for a man to commit suicide when he was encompassed with dangers from which he could not escape. Thus Cato was guilty of self-murder in Utica; and thus, at this very place at Philippi—Brutus and Cassius, and many of their friends, fell on their own swords, and ended their lives by suicide. The custom was thus sanctioned by the authority and example of the great; and we are not to wonder that the jailer, in a moment of alarm, should also attempt to destroy his own life. It is not one of the least benefits of Christianity, that it has proclaimed the evil of self-murder, and that it has done so much to drive it from the world.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 28

Verse 28. Do thyself no harm. This is the solemn command of religion in his case, and in all others. It enjoins on men to do themselves no harm—by self-murder, whether by the sword, the pistol, the halter; or by intemperance, and lust, and dissipation. In all cases Christianity seeks the true welfare of man. In all cases, if it were obeyed, men would do themselves no harm. They would promote their own best interests here, and their eternal welfare hereafter.

{b} "Paul cried" Pr 24:11,12; 1 Th 5:15

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 29

Verse 29. Then he called for a light. Greek, Lights, in the plural. Probably several torches were brought by his attendants.

And came trembling. Alarmed at the earthquake, and amazed that the prisoners were still there, and probably not a little confounded at the calmness of Paul and Silas, and overwhelmed at the proof of the presence of God. Comp. Jer 5:22, "Fear ye not me, saith the Lord? will ye not tremble at my presence?" etc.

And fell down, etc. This was an act of profound reverence. See Barnes "Mt 2:11".

It is evident that he regarded them as the favourites of God, and was constrained to recognize them in their character as religious teachers.

{d} "and fell down before Paul" Jer 5:22

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 30

Verse 30. And brought them out. From the prison.

Sirs. Greek, kurioi, lords—an address of respect; a title usually given to masters, or owners of slaves.

What must I do to be saved? Never was a more important question asked than this. It is evident that by this question he did not refer to any danger to which he might be exposed from what had happened. For,

(1.) the apostles evidently understood him as referring to his eternal salvation, as is manifest from their answer; since to believe on the Lord Jesus would have no effect in saving him from any danger of punishment to which he might be exposed from what had occurred.

(2.) He could scarcely consider himself as exposed to punishment by the Romans. The prisoners were all safe; none had escaped, or showed any disposition to escape: and besides, for the earthquake and its effects he could not be held responsible. It is not improbable that there was much confusion in his mind. There would be a rush of many thoughts; a state of agitation, and alarm, and fear; and in view of all he would naturally ask those whom he now saw to be men sent by God, and under his protection, what he should do to obtain the favour of that great Being under whose protection he saw that they manifestly were. Perhaps the following thoughts might have gone to produce this state of agitation and alarm:

(1.) They had been designated by the Pythoness Ac 16:17 as religious teachers sent from God, and appointed to "show the way of salvation;" and in her testimony he might have been disposed to put confidence, or it might now be brought fresh to his recollection.

(2.) He manifestly saw that they were under the protection of God. A remarkable interposition—an earthquake—an event which all the heathen regarded as ominous of the presence of the Divinity—had showed this.

(3.) The guilt of their imprisonment might rush upon his mind; and he might suppose that he, the agent of the imprisonment of the servants of God, would be exposed to his displeasure.

(4.) His own guilt in attempting his own life might overwhelm him with alarm.

(5.) The whole scene was fitted to show him the need of the protection and friendship of the God that had thus interposed. In this state of agitation and alarm, the apostles directed him to the only source of peace and safety—the blood of the atonement. The feelings of an awakened sinner are often strikingly similar to those of this jailer. He is agitated, alarmed, and fearful; he sees that he is a sinner, and trembles; the sins of his life rush over his memory, and fill him with deep anxiety, and he inquires what he must do to be saved. Often too, as here, the Providence of God is the means of awakening the sinner, and of leading to this inquiry. Some alarming dispensation convinces him that God is near, and that the soul is in danger. The loss of health, property, or of a friend, may thus alarm the soul; or the presence of the pestilence, or any fearful judgment, may arrest the attention, and lead to the inquiry, "What must I do to be saved?" Reader, have you ever made this inquiry? Have you ever, like the heathen jailer at Philippi, seen yourself to be a lost sinner, and been willing to ask the way to life?

In this narrative we see the contrast which exists in periods of distress and alarm between Christians and sinners. The guilty jailer was all agitation, fear, distress, and terror; the apostles all peace, calmness, joy. The one was filled with thoughts of self-murder; the others intent on saving life and doing good. This difference is to be traced to religion. It was confidence in God that gave peace to them; it was the want of that which led to agitation and alarm in him. It is so still. In the trying scenes of this life the same difference is still seen. In bereavements, in sickness, in times of pestilence, in death, it is still so. The Christian is calm, the sinner is agitated and alarmed. The Christian can pass through such scenes with peace and joy; to the sinner they are scenes of terror and of dread. And thus it will be beyond the grave. In the morning of the resurrection the Christian will rise with joy and triumph; the sinner with fear and horror. And thus at the judgment-seat. Calm and serene, the saint shall witness the solemnities of that day, and triumphantly hail the Judge as his friend: fearful and trembling, the sinner shall regard these solemnities, and with a soul filled with horror, shall listen to the sentence that consigns him to eternal woe! With what solicitude, then, should we seek, without delay, an interest in that religion which alone can give peace to the soul!

{e} "must I do?" Jer 5:22

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 31

Verse 31. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. This was a simple, a plain, and an effectual direction. They did not direct him to use the means of grace, to pray, or to continue to seek for salvation. They did not advise him to delay, or to wait for the mercy of God. They told him to believe at once; to commit his agitated, and guilty, and troubled spirit to the Saviour, with the assurance that he should find peace. They presumed that he would understand what it was to believe; and they commanded him to do the thing. And this was the uniform direction which the early preachers gave to those inquiring the way to life. See Barnes "Mt 16:16" comp. See Barnes "Ac 8:22".

And thy house. And thy family. That is, the same salvation is equally adapted to, and offered to your family. It does not mean that his family would be saved simply by his believing; but that the offers had reference to them as well as to himself; that they might be saved as well as he. His attention was thus called at once, as every man's should be, to his family. He was reminded that they needed salvation; and he was presented with the assurance that they might unite with him in the peace and joy of redeeming mercy. Comp. Ac 2:39. It may be implied here that the faith of a father may be expected to be the means of the salvation of his family. It often is so, in fact. But the direct meaning of this is, that salvation was offered to his family as well as himself; implying that if they believed, they should also be saved.

{f} "on the Lord Jesus Christ" Hab 2:4; Joh 3:16,36; 6:47; Ac 13:39

{g} "house" Ac 2:39

{*} "house" "Household"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 32

Verse 32. To all that were in his house. Old and young. They instructed them in the doctrines of religion, and doubtless in the nature of the ordinances of the gospel, and then baptized the entire family.

{a} "all that were in" Ro 1:14,16

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 33

Verse 33. And he took them. To a convenient place for washing. It is evident from this, that though the apostles had the gift of miracles, that they did not exercise it in regard to their own sufferings, or to heal their own wounds. They restored others to health, not themselves.

And washed their stripes. The wounds which had been inflicted by the severe scourging which they had received the night before. We have here a remarkable instance of the effect of religion in producing humanity and tenderness. This same man, a few hours before, had thrust them into the inner prison, and made them fast in the stocks. He evidently had then no concern about their stripes or their wounds. But no sooner was he converted, and his heart changed, than one of his first acts was an act of humanity. He saw them suffering; he pitied them, and hastened to minister to them, and to heal their wounds. Till the time of Christianity there never had been an hospital or an almshouse. Nearly all the hospitals for the sick since have been reared by Christians. They who are most ready to minister to the sick and dying are Christians. They who are willing to encounter the pestilential damps of dungeons to aid the prisoner, are, like Howard, Christians. Who ever saw an infidel attending a dying bed, if he could help it? and where has infidelity ever reared a hospital or an almshouse, or made provision for the widow and the fatherless? Often one of the most striking changes that occurs in conversion is seen in the disposition to be kind and humane to the suffering. Comp. Jas 1:27.

And was baptized. This was done straightway; that is, immediately. As it is altogether improbable that either in his house or in the prison there would be water sufficient for immersing them, there is every reason to suppose that this was performed in some other mode. All the circumstances lead us to suppose that it was not by immersion. It was at the dead of night, in a prison, amidst much agitation, and evidently performed in haste.

{*} "straightway" "immediately"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 34

Verse 34. He set meat before them. Food. Gr., He placed a table. The word meat formerly meant food of all kinds.

And rejoiced. This was the effect of believing. Religion produces joy. See Barnes "Ac 8:8".

He was free from danger and alarm; he had evidence that his sins were forgiven, and that he was the friend of God. The agitating and alarming scenes of the night had passed away, the prisoners were safe; and religion, with its peace, and pardon, and rejoicings, had visited his family. What a change to be produced in one night! What a difference between the family when Paul was thrust into prison, and when he was brought out and received as an honoured guest at the very table of the renovated jailer! Such a change would Christianity produce in every family, and such joy would it diffuse through every household.

With all his house. With all his family. Whether they believed before they were baptized, or after, is not declared. But the whole narrative would lead us to suppose, that as soon as the jailer believed, he and all his family were baptized. It is subsequently added, that they believed also. The joy arose from the fact that they all believed the gospel; the baptism appears to have been performed on account of the faith of the head of the family.

{b} "meat before them" Lu 5:29 {c} "rejoiced, believing" Ro 5:11

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 35

Verse 35. And when it was day, etc. It is evident, from the narrative, that it was not contemplated at first to release them so soon, Ac 16:22-24. But it is not known what produced this change of purpose in the magistrates. It is probable, however, that they had been brought to reflection, somewhat as the jailer had, by the earthquake; and that their consciences had been troubled by the fact, that, in order to please the multitude, they had caused strangers to be beaten and imprisoned without trial, and contrary to the Roman laws. An earthquake is always fitted to alarm the guilty; and among the Romans it was regarded as an omen of the anger of the gods, and was therefore fitted to produce agitation and remorse. Their agitation and alarm were shown by the fact that they sent the officers as soon as it was day. The judgments of God are eminently adapted to alarm sinners. Two ancient Mss. read this, "The magistrates, who were alarmed by the earthquake, sent," etc.— (Doddridge.) Whether this reading be genuine or not, it doubtless expresses the true cause of their sending to release the apostles.

The sergeants. Rabdoucouv. Literally, those having rods; the lictors. These were public officers, who went before magistrates with the emblems of authority. In Rome they bore before the senators the fasces; that is, a bundle of rods with an axe in its centre, as a symbol of office. They performed somewhat the same office as a beadle in England, or as a constable in our courts, [America.]

{+} "serjeants" "officers"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 36

Verse 36. No Barnes text on this verse.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 37

Verse 37. They have beaten us openly uncondemned. There are three aggravating circumstances mentioned, of which Paul complains.

(1.) That they had been beaten, contrary to the Roman laws.

(2.) That it had been public; the disgrace had been in the presence of the people, and the reparation ought to be as public. And

(3) that it had been done without a trial, and while they were uncondemned and therefore the magistrates ought themselves to come and release them, and thus publicly acknowledge their error. Paul knew the privileges of a Roman citizen; and at proper times, when the interests of justice and religion required it, he did not hesitate to assert them. In all this he understood and accorded with the Roman laws. The Valerian law declared, that if a citizen appealed from the magistrate to the people, it should not be lawful for the magistrate to beat him with rods, or to behead him. (Plutarch, Life of P. Valeflus Publicola. Livy, ii. 8.) By the Porcian law, it was expressly forbidden that a citizen should be beaten, (Livy, iv. 9.) Cicero (Pro. Rabir. chap. 4) says, that the body of every Roman citizen was inviolable. "The Porcian law," he adds, "has removed the rod from the body of every Roman citizen." And in his celebrated oration against Verres, he says, "A Roman citizen was beaten with rods in the forum, O judges; where, in the mean time, no groan, no other voice of this unhappy man was heard, except the cry, 'I am a Roman citizen'—Take away this hope," he says, "take away this defence from the Roman citizens—let there be no protection in the cry, I am a Roman citizen—and the praetor can with impunity inflict any punishment on him who declares himself a citizen of Rome," etc.

Being Romans. Being Romans, or having the privilege of Roman citizens. They were born Jews, but they claimed that they were Roman citizens, and had a right to the privilege of citizenship. On the ground of this claim, and the reason why Paul claimed to be a Roman citizen, See Barnes "Ac 22:28".

Privily. Privately. The release should be as public as the unjust act of imprisonment. As they have publicly attempted to disgrace us, so they should as publicly acquit us. This was a matter of mere justice; and as it was of great importance to their character and success, they insisted on it.

Nay, verily; but let them come, etc. It was proper that they should be required to do this,

(1.) because they had been illegally imprisoned, and the injustice of the magistrates should be acknowledged.

(2.) Because the Roman laws had been violated, and the majesty of the Roman people thus insulted and honour should be done to the laws.

(3.) Injustice had been done to Paul and Silas, and they had a right to demand just treatment and protection.

(4.) Such a public act on the part of the magistrates would strengthen the young converts, and show them that the apostles were not guilty of a violation of the laws.

(5.) It would tend to the honour and to the furtherance of religion. It would be a public acknowledgment of their innocence; and would go far towards lending to them the sanction of the laws as religious teachers. We may learn from this also,

(1.) that though Christianity requires meekness in the reception of injuries, that there are occasions where Christians may insist on their rights according to the laws. Comp. Joh 18:23.

(2.) That this is to be done, particularly where the honour of religion is concerned, and where by it the gospel will be promoted. A Christian may bear much as a man in a private capacity, and may submit, without any effort to seek reparation; but where the honour of the gospel is concerned—where submission, without any effort to obtain justice, might be followed by disgrace to the cause of religion—a higher obligation may require him to seek a vindication of his character, and to claim the protection of the laws. His name, and character, and influence, belong to the church. The laws are designed as a protection to an injured name, or of violated property and rights, and of an endangered life. And when that protection can be had only by an appeal to the laws, such an appeal, as in the case of Paul and Silas, is neither vindictive nor improper. My private interests I may sacrifice, if I choose; my public name, and character, and principles belong to the church and the world; and the laws, if necessary, may be called in for their protection.

{++} "openly" "Publicly"

{d} "being Romans" Ac 22:25

{|} "privily" "privately"

{&} "verily" "truly"

{e} "themselves" Da 6:18,19; Mt 10:16

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 38

Verse 38. They feared, when they heard, etc. They were apprehensive of punishment for having imprisoned them in violation of the laws of the empire. To punish unjustly a Roman citizen was deemed an offence to the majesty of the Roman people, and was severely punished by the laws. Dionysius Hall. (Ant. Rom. 2) says, that "the punishment appointed for those who abrogated or transgressed the Valerian law was death, and the confiscation of his property." The emperor Claudius deprived the inhabitants of Rhodes of freedom for having crucified some Roman citizens. Dio. Cuss. lib. 60. (See Kuinoel and Grotius.)

{*} "serjeants" "officers"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 39

Verse 39. And they came and besought them. A most humiliating act for Roman magistrates; but in this case it was unavoidable. The apostles had them completely in their power, and could easily effect their disgrace and ruin. Probably they besought them by declaring them innocent; by affirming that they were ignorant that they were Roman citizens, etc.

And desired them to depart, etc. Probably,

(1.) to save their own character, and to secure from their taking any further steps to convict the magistrates of violating the laws; and;

(2.) to evade any further popular tumult on their account. This advice they saw fit to comply with, after they had seen and comforted the brethren, Ac 16:40. They had accomplished their main purpose in going to Philippi; they had preached the gospel; had laid, the foundation of a flourishing church, (comp. the Epistle to the Philippians;) and they were now prepared to prosecute the purpose of their agency into surrounding regions. Thus the opposition of the people and the magistrates at Philippi was the occasion of the founding of the church there; and thus their unkind and inhospitable request that they should leave them, was the means of the extension of the gospel into adjacent regions.

{a} "besought them" Ex 11:8; Re 3:9

{b} "desired them" Mt 8:34

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 16 - Verse 40

Verse 40. They comforted them. They exhorted them, and encouraged them to persevere, notwithstanding the opposition and persecution which they might meet with.

And departed. That is, Paul and Silas departed. It would appear probable that Luke and Timothy remained in Philippi, or, at least, did not attend Paul and Silas. For Luke, who, in Ac 16:10, uses the first person, and speaks of himself as with Paul and Silas, speaks of them now in the third person, implying that he was not with them until Paul had arrived at Troas, where Luke joined him from Philippi, Ac 20:5,6. In Ac 17:14, also, Timothy is mentioned as being at Berea in company with Silas, from which it appears that he did not accompany Paul and Silas to Thessalonica. Comp. Ac 17:1,4. Paul and Silas, when they departed from Philippi, went to Thessalonica, Ac 17:1.

{c} "and when they had seen the brethren" Ac 16:14


THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 1

Verse 1. Amphipolis. This was the capital of the eastern province of Macedonia. It was originally a colony of the Athenians; but under the Romans it was made the capital of that part of Macedonia. It was near to Thrace, and was situated not far from the mouth of the river Strymon, which flowed around the city, and thus occasioned its name, around the city. In the middle ages it was called Chrysopolis. The village which now stands upon the site of the ancient city is called Empoli, or Yamboli, a corruption of Amphipolis. (Rob. Cal.)

And Apollonia. This city was situated between Amphipolis and Thessalonica, and was formerly much celebrated for its trade.

They came to Thessalonica. This was a seaport of the second part of Macedonia. It is situated at the head of the bay Thermaicus. It was made the capital of the second division of Macedonia by AEmilius Paulus, when he divided the country into four districts. It was formerly called Therma, but afterwards received the name of Thessalonica, either from Cassander, in honour of his wife Thessalonica, the daughter of Philip, or in honour of a victory which Philip obtained over the armies of Thessaly. It was inhabited by Greeks, Romans, and Jews. It is now called Saloniki, and is a wretched place, though it has a population of near sixty thousand. In this place a church was collected, to which Paul afterwards addressed the two epistles to the Thessalonians.

Where was a synagogue. Greek, Where was THE SYNAGOGUE (h sunagwgh) of the Jews. It has been remarked by Grotius and Kuinoel, that the article used here is emphatic, and denotes that there was probably no synagogue at Amphipolis and Apollonia. This was the reason why they passed through those places without making any delay.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 2

Verse 2. His manner was. His custom was to attend on the worship of the synagogue, and to preach the gospel to his countrymen first, Ac 9:20; 13:5,14.

Reasoned with them. Discoursed to them, or attempted to prove that Jesus was the Messiah. The word used here (dielegeto) means often no more than to make a public address or discourse. See Barnes "Ac 24:25".

Out of the Scriptures. By many critics this is connected with the following verse, "Opening and alleging from the Scriptures, that Christ must needs have suffered," etc. The sense is not varied materially by the change.

{d} "went in unto them" Lu 4:16; Ac 9:20; 13:5,14

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 3

Verse 3. Opening. Dianoigwn. See Lu 24:32. The word means, to explain, or to unfold. It is usually applied to that which is shut, as to the eyes, etc. Then it means to explain that which is concealed or obscure. It means here, that he explained the Scriptures in their true sense.

And alleging. Paratiyemenov. Laying down the proposition; that is, maintaining that it must be so.

That Christ must needs have suffered. That there was a fitness and necessity in his dying, as Jesus of Nazareth had done. The sense of this will be better seen by retaining the word Messiah. "That there was a fitness or necessity that the Messiah expected by the Jews, and predicted in their Scriptures, should suffer." This point the Jews were unwilling to admit; but it was essential to his argument in proving that Jesus was the Messiah, to show that it was foretold that he should die for the sins of men. On the necessity of this, See Barnes "Lu 4:26".

Have suffered. That he should die.

And that this Jesus. And that this Jesus of Nazareth, who has thus suffered and risen, whom, said he, I preach to you, is the Messiah.

The arguments by which Paul probably proved that Jesus was the Messiah were,

(1.) that he corresponded with the prophecies respecting him, in the following particulars:

(a.) He was born at Bethlehem, Mic 5:2

(b.) He was of the tribe of Judah, Ge 49:10

(c.) He was descended from Jesse, and of the royal line of David, Isa 11:1,10

(d.) He came at thetime predicted Da 9:24-27

(e.) His appearance, character, work, etc., corresponded with the predictions of Isa 53.

(2.) His miracles proved that he was the Messiah, for he professed to be, and God would not work a miracle to confirm the claims of an impostor.

(3.) For the same reason, his resurrection from the dead proved that he was the Messiah.

{&} "Opening and alleging" "Explaining them"

{e} "needs have suffered" Lu 24:26,46; Ac 18:28; Ga 3:1

{1} "whom I preach" "whom, said he, I preach"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 4

Verse 4. And consorted. Literally, had their lot with Paul and Silas; that is, they united themselves to them, and became their disciples. The word is commonly applied to those who are partakers of an inheritance.

And of the devout Greeks. Religious Greeks; or, of those who worshipped God. Those were so denoted who had renounced the worship of idols, and who attended on the worship of the synagogue, but who were not fully admitted to the privileges of Jewish proselytes. They were called, by the Jews, proselytes of the gate.

And of the chief women. See Barnes "Ac 13:50".

{a} "some of them" Ac 28:24

{b} "and consorted" 2 Co 8:5

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 5

Verse 5. Moved with envy. That they made so many converts, and met with such success.

Certain lewd fellows of the baser sort. This is an unhappy translation. The word lewd is not in the original. The Greek is, "And having taken certain wicked men of those who were about the forum," or market-place. The forum, or market-place, was the place where the idle assembled, and where those were gathered together that wished to be employed, Mt 20:3. Many of these would be of abandoned character —the idle, the dissipated, and the worthless; and, therefore, just the materials for a mob. It does not appear that they felt any particular interest in the subject; but they were, like other mobs, easily excited, and urged on to any acts of violence. The pretence on which the mob was excited was, that they had everywhere produced disturbance, and that they violated the laws of the Roman emperor, Ac 17:6,7. It may be observed, however, that a mob usually regards very little the cause in which they are engaged. They may be roused either for or against religion, and become as full of zeal for the insulted honour of religion as against it. The profane, the worthless, and the abandoned, thus often become violently enraged for the honour of religion, and fun of indignation and tumult against those who are accused of violating public peace and order.

The house of Jason. Where Paul and Silas were, Ac 17:7. Jason appears to have been a relative of Paul, and for this reason it was, probably, that he lodged with him, Ro 16:21.

{c} "Jason, and sought" Ro 16:21

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 6

Verse 6. These that have turned the world upside down. That have excited commotion and disturbance in other places. The charge has been often brought against the gospel, that it has been the occasion of confusion and disorder.

{*} "Drew" "Dragged"

{d} "These that turned the world" Lu 23:5; Ac 16:20

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 7

Verse 7. Whom Jason hath received. Has received into his house, and entertained kindly.

These all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar. The charge against them was that of sedition and rebellion against the Roman emperor. Grotius on this verse remarks, that the Roman people, and after them the emperors, would not permit the name of king to be mentioned in any of the vanquished provinces, except by their permission.

Saying that there is another king. This was probably a charge of mere malignity. They probably understood, that when the apostles spoke of Jesus as a king, they did not do it as of a temporal prince. But it was easy to pervert their words, and to give plausibility to the accusation. The same thing had occurred in regard to the Lord Jesus himself, Lu 23:2.

{e} "contrary to the decrees of Caesar" Lu 23:2; Joh 19:12

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 8

Verse 8. And they troubled the people. They excited the people to commotion and alarm. The rulers feared the tumult that was excited, and the people feared the Romans, when they heard the charge that there were rebels against the government in their city. It does not appear, that there was a disposition in the rulers or the people to persecute the apostles; but they were excited and alarmed by the representations of the Jews, and by the mob that they had collected.

{+} "troubled" "alarmed"

{f} "the people" Mt 2:3; Joh 11:48

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 9

Verse 9. And when they had taken security of Jason. This is an expression taken from courts, and means that Jason and the other gave satisfaction to the magistrates for the good conduct of Paul and Silas, and became responsible for it. Whether it was by depositing a sum of money, and by thus giving bail, is not quite Clear. The sense is, that they did it in accordance with the Roman usages, and gave sufficient security for the good conduct of Paul and Silas. Heuman supposes that the pledge given was, that they should leave the city. Michaelis thinks that they gave a pledge that they would no more harbour them; but that if they returned again to them, they would deliver them to the magistrates.

And of the other. The other brethren Ac 17:6 who had been drawn to the rulers of the city.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 10

Verse 10. And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas. Comp. Ac 9:25. They did this for their safety. Yet this was not done until the gospel had taken deep root in Thessalonica. Having preached there, and laid the foundation of a church; having thus accomplished the purpose for which they went there, they were prepared to leave the city. To the church in this city Paul after- wards addressed two epistles.

Unto Berea. This was a city of Macedonia, near Mount Cithanes. There is a medal of Berea extant, remarkable for being inscribed, "of the second Macedonia."

{g} "sent away Paul and Silas" Ac 17:14; 9:25

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 11

Verse 11. These were more noble. Eugenesteroi. This literally means more noble by birth; descended from more illustrious ancestors. But here the word is used to denote a quality of mind and heart; they were more generous, liberal, and noble in their feelings; more disposed to inquire candidly into the truth of the doctrines advanced by Paul and Silas. It is always proof of a noble, liberal, and ingenuous disposition, to be willing to examine into the truth of any doctrine presented. The writer refers here particularly to the Jews.

In that. Because.

They received the word, etc. They listened attentively and respectfully to the gospel. They did not reject and spurn it, as unworthy of examination. This is the first particular in which they were more noble than those in Thessalonica.

And searched the Scriptures. That is, the Old Testament. See Barnes "Joh 5:39".

The apostles always affirmed that the doctrines which they maintained respecting the Messiah were in accordance with the Jewish Scriptures. The Bereans made diligent and earnest inquiry in respect to this, and were willing to ascertain the truth.

Daily. Not only on the Sabbath, and in the synagogue; but they made it a daily employment. It is evident from this, that they had the Scriptures; and this is one proof that Jewish families would, if possible, obtain the oracles of God.

Whether those things were so. Whether the doctrines stated by Paul and Silas were in accordance with the Scriptures. The Old Testament they received as the standard of truth, and whatever could be shown to be in accordance with that they received. On this verse we may remark,

(1.) that it is proof of true nobleness and liberality of mind to be willing to examine the proofs of the truth of religion. What the friends of Christianity have had most cause to lament and regret is, that so many are unwilling to examine its claims; that they spurn it as unworthy of serious thought, and condemn it without hearing.

(2.) The Scriptures should be examined daily. If we wish to arrive at the truth, they should be the object of constant study. That man has very little reason to expect that he will grow in knowledge and grace, who does not peruse, with candour and With prayer, a portion of the Bible every day.

(3.) The constant searching of the Scriptures is the best way to keep the mind from error. He who does not do it daily may expect to be "carried about with every wind of doctrine," and to have no settled opinions.

{4) The preaching of ministers should be examined by the Scriptures. Their doctrines are of no value unless they accord with the Bible. Every preacher should expect his doctrines to be examined in this way, and to be rejected if they are not in accordance with the word of God. The church, in proportion to its increase in purity and knowledge, will feel this more and more; and it is an indication of advance in piety when men are increasingly disposed to examine everything by the Bible. How immensely important then is it, that the young should be trained up to diligent habits of searching the word of God. And how momentous is the duty of parents, and of Sabbath-school teachers, to inculcate just views of the interpretation of the Bible, and to form the habits of the rising generation so that they shall be disposed and enabled to examine every doctrine by the sacred oracles. The purity of the church depends on the extension of the spirit of the noble-minded Bereans; and that spirit is to be extended mainly by the instrumentality of Sabbath-schools.

{h} "more noble" Ps 119:99,100

{i} "readiness of mind" Jas 1:21; 1 Pe 2:2

{k} "Scriptures daily" Isa 34:16; Lu 16:29; 24:44; Joh 5:39

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 12

Verse 12. Therefore. As the result of their examination. They found that the doctrines of Paul and Silas accorded with the Old Testament. This result will commonly follow when people search the Scriptures. Much is gained when men can be induced to examine the Bible. We may commonly take it for granted that such an examination will result in their conviction of the truth. The most prominent and invariable cause of infidelity is found in the fact that men will not investigate the Scriptures. Many infidels have confessed that they had never carefully read the New Testament. Thomas Paine confessed that he wrote the first part of the "Age of Reason" without having a Bible at hand; and without its being possible to procure one where he then was, (in Paris.) "I had," says he, "neither Bible nor Testament to refer to, though I was writing against both; nor could I procure any."—Age of Reason, p. 65, Edin. 1831. Also p. 33. None have ever read the Scriptures with candour, and with the true spirit of prayer, who have not been convinced of the truth of Christianity, and been brought to submit their souls to its influence and its consolations. The great thing which Christians desire their fellow-men to do, is candidly to search the Bible; and when this is done, they confidently expect that they will be truly converted to God.

Of honourable women. See Barnes "Ac 13:50".

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 13

Verse 13. Stirred up the people. The word used here saleuontev, denotes, properly, to agitate, or excite, as the waves of the sea are agitated by the wind. It is with great beauty used to denote the agitation and excitement of a popular tumult, from its resemblance to the troubled waves of the ocean. The figure is often employed by the classic writers, and also occurs in the Scriptures. See Ps 65:7; Isa 17:12,13; Jer. 46:7,8.

{a} "stirred up" Lu 12:51

{*} "the people" "Multitudes"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 14

Verse 14. The brethren. Those who were Christians.

Sent away Paul. In order to secure his safety. A similar thing had been done in Thessalonica, Ac 17:10. The tumult was great; and there was no doubt, such was the hostility of the Jews, that the life of Paul would be endangered, and they therefore resolved to secure his safety.

As it were. Rather, "even to the sea," for that is its signification. It does not imply that there was any feint or sleight in the case, as if they intended to deceive their pursuers. They took him to the sea coast, not far from Berea, and from that place he probably went by sea to Athens.

{b} "sent away Paul" Mt 10:23

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 15

Verse 15. Unto Athens. This was the first visit of Paul to this celebrated city; and perhaps the first visit of a Christian minister. His success in this city, for some cause, was not great. But his preaching was attended with the conversion of some individuals. See Ac 17:34. Athens was the most celebrated city of Greece, and was distinguished for the military talents, learning, eloquence, and politeness of its inhabitants. It was founded by Cecrops and, an Egyptian colony, about 1556 years before the Christian era. It was called Athens in honour of Minerva, who was chiefly worshipped there, and to whom the city was dedicated. The city, at first, was built on a rock in the midst of a spacious plain; but in process of time the whole plain was covered with buildings, which were called the lower city. No city of Greece, or of the ancient world, was so much distinguished for philosophy, learning, and the arts. The most celebrated warriors, poets, statesmen, and philosophers, were either born or flourished there. The most celebrated models of architecture and statuary were there; and for ages it held its pre-eminence in civilization, arts, and arms. The city still exists, though it has been often subject to the calamities of war, to a change of masters, and to the mouldering hand of time. It was twice burnt by the Persians; destroyed by Philip IX. of Macedon; again by Sylla; was plundered by Tiberius; desolated by the Goths in the reign of Claudius; and the whole territory ravaged and ruined by Alaric. From the reign of Justinian to the thirteenth century, the city remained in obscurity, though it continued to be a town at the head of a small state. It was seized by Omar, general of Mohammed the Great, in 1455; was sacked by the Venetians in 1464; and was taken by the Turks again in 1688. In 1812, the population was 12,000; but it has since been desolated by the sanguinary contests between the Turks and the Greeks, and left almost a mass of ruins. It is now free; and efforts are making by Christians to restore it to its former elevation in learning and importance, and to impart to it the blessings of the Christian religion. Two American missionaries are labouring in the place where Paul preached almost two thousand years ago; and schools, under their immediate superintendence and care, are established by American Christian missionaries, in the place that was once regarded as "the eye of Greece," and the light of the civilized world. In the revolutions of ages it has been ordered that men should bear the torch of learning to Athens from a land unknown to its ancient philosophers, and convey the blessings of civilization to them by that gospel which in the time of Paul they rejected and despised.

And receiving a commandment. They who accompanied Paul received his commands to Silas and Timothy.

With all speed. As soon as possible. Perhaps Paul expected much labour and success in Athens, and was therefore desirous, of securing their aid with him in his work.

{c} "Timotheus" Ac 18:5

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 16

Verse 16. Now while Paul waited. How long he was there is not intimated; but doubtless some time would elapse before they could arrive. In the mean time, Paul had ample opportunity to observe the state of the city.

His spirit was stirred in him. His mind was greatly excited. The word used here parwxuneto denotes any excitement, agitation, or paroxysm of mind, 1 Co 13:5. It here means that the mind of Paul was greatly concerned, or agitated, doubtless with pity and distress, at their folly and danger.

The city wholly given to idolatry. Greek, kateidwlon. It is well translated in the margin, "full of idols." The word is not elsewhere used in the New Testament. That this was the condition of the city is abundantly testified by profane writers. Thus Pausanias (in Attic. i. 24) says, "The Athenians greatly surpassed others in their zeal for religion" Lucian (T. i. Prometh. p. 180) says of the city of Athens," On every side there are altars, victims, temples, and festivals." Livy (45, 27) says, that Athens "was full of the images of gods and men, adorned with every variety of material, and with all the skill of art." And Petronius (Sat. xvii.) says humourously of the city, that "it was easier to find a god than a man there." See Kuinoel. In this verse we may see how a splendid, idolatrous city will strike a pious mind. Athens then had more that was splendid in architecture, more that was brilliant in science, and more that was beautiful in the arts, than any other city in the world; perhaps more than all the rest of the world united. Yet there is no account that the mind of Paul was filled with admiration; there is no record that he spent his time in examining the works of art; there is no evidence that he forgot his high purpose in an idle and useless contemplation of temples and statuary. His was a Christian mind; and he contemplated all this with a Christian heart. That heart was deeply affected in view of the amazing guilt of a people that were ignorant of the true God, and that had filled their city with idols reared to the honour of imaginary divinities; and who, in the midst of all this splendour and luxury, were going down to the gates of death. So should every pious man feel who treads the streets of a splendid and guilty city. The Christian will not despise the productions of art; but he will feel, deeply feel, for the unhappy condition of those who, amidst wealth and splendour and adorning, are withholding their affections from the living God, bestowing them on the works of their own hands, or on objects degraded and polluting, and who are going unredeemed to eternal woe. Happy would it be if every Christian traveller who visits cities of wealth and splendour would, like Paul, be affected in view of their crimes and dangers; and happy if, like him, men could cease their unbounded admiration of magnificence and splendour in temples and palaces and statuary, to regard the condition of mind, not perishable like marble; and of the soul, more magnificent even in its ruins than all the works of Phidias or Praxiteles.

{d} "his spirit" Ps 119:136; 2 Pe 2:8

{1} "wholly given to idolatry" "full of idols"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 17

Verse 17. Therefore disputed he. Or reasoned. He engaged in an argument with them.

With the devout persons. Those worshipping God after the manner of the Jews. They were Jewish proselytes, who had renounced idolatry, but who had not been fully admitted to the privileges of the Jews. See Barnes "Ac 10:2".

And in the market. In the forum. It was not only the place where provisions were sold, but was also a place of great public concourse. In this place the philosophers were not unfrequently found engaged in public discussion.

{a} "devout persons" Ac 8:2

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 18

Verse 18. Then certain philosophers. Athens was distinguished, among all the cities of Greece and the world, for the cultivation of a subtle and refined philosophy. This was their boast, and the object of their constant search and study, 1 Co 1:22.

Of the Epicureans. This sect of philosophers was so named from Epicurus, who lived about 300 years before the Christian era. They denied that the world was created by God, and that the gods exercised any care or providence over human affairs, and also the immortality of the soul. Against these positions of the sect, Paul directed his main argument, in proving that the world was created and governed by God. One of the distinguishing doctrines of Epicurus was, that pleasure was the summum bonum, or chief good, and that virtue was to be practised only as it contributed to pleasure. By pleasure, however, Epicurus did not mean sensual and grovelling appetites, and degraded vices, but rational pleasure, properly regulated and governed. See Good's Book of Nature. But whatever his views were, it is certain that his followers had embraced the doctrine that voluptuousness and the pleasures of sense were to be practised without restraint. Both in principle and practice, therefore, they devoted themselves to a life of gaiety and sensuality, and sought happiness only in indolence, effeminacy, and voluptuousness. Confident in the belief that the world was not under the administration of a God of justice; they gave themselves up to the indulgence of every passion; the infidels of their time, and the exact example of the gay and fashionable multitudes of all times, that live without God, and that seek pleasure as their chief good.

And of the Stoics. These were a sect of philosophers, so named from the Greek stoa, stoa, porch, or portico, because Zeno, the founder of the sect, held his school and taught in a porch, in the city of Athens. Zeno was born in the island of Cyprus, but the greater part of his life was spent at Athena in teaching philosophy. After having taught publicly forty-eight years, he died at the age of ninety-six, two hundred and-sixty-four years before Christ. The doctrines of the sect were, that the Universe was created by God; that all things were fixed by fate; that even God was under the dominion of fatal necessity; that the fates were to be submitted to; that the passions and affections were to be suppressed and restrained; that happiness consisted in the insensibility of the soul to pain; and that a man should gain an absolute mastery over all the passions and affections of his nature. They were stern in their views of virtue, and, like the Pharisees prided themselves on their own righteousness. They supposed that matter was eternal, and that God was either the animating principal or soul of the world, or that all things were a part of God. They fluctuated much in their views of a future state; some of then holding that the soul would exist only until the destruction of the universe, and others that it would finally be absorbed into the Divine Essence, and become a part of God. It will be readily seen, therefore, with what pertinency and address Paul discoursed to them. The leading doctrines of both sects were met by him.

Encountered him. Contended with him; opposed themselves to him.

And some said. This was said in scorn and contempt. He had excited attention; but they scorned the doctrines that should be delivered by an unknown foreigner from Judea.

What will this babbler say? Margin, base fellow. Greek, spermologov. The word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It properly means one who collects seeds; and was applied by the Greeks to the poor persons who collected the scattered grain in the fields after harvest, or to gleaners; and also to the poor, who obtained a precarious subsistence around the markets and in the streets. It was also applied to birds that picked up the scattered seeds of grain in the field, or in the markets. The word came hence to have a two-fold signification.

(1.) It denoted the poor, needy, and vile; the refuse and offscouring of society; and,

(2,) from the birds which were thus employed, and which were troublesome by their continual unmusical sounds, it came to denote those who were talkative, garrulous, and opinionated; those who collected the opinions of others, or scraps of knowledge, and retailed them fluently, without order or method, It was a word, therefore, expressive of their contempt for an unknown foreigner who should pretend to instruct the learned men and philosophers of Greece. Doddridge renders it, "retailer of scraps." Syriac, "collector of words."

Other some. Others.

He seemeth to be a setter forth. He announces or declares the existence of strange gods. The reason why they supposed this was, that he made the capital points of his preaching to be Jesus and the resurrection, which they mistook for the names of divinities.

Of strange gods. Of foreign gods, or demons. They worshipped many gods themselves; and as they believed that every country had its own peculiar divinities, they supposed that Paul had come to announce the existence of some such foreign, and to them unknown divinities. The word translated gods daimoniwn, denotes, properly, the genii, or spirits who were superior to men, but inferior to the gods. It is, however, often employed to denote the gods themselves; and is evidently so used here. The gods among the Greeks were such as were supposed to have that rank by nature. The demons were such as had been exalted to divinity from being heroes and distinguished men.

He preached unto them Jesus. He proclaimed him as the Messiah. The mistake which they made, by supposing that he was a foreign divinity, was one which was perfectly natural for minds degraded like theirs by idolatry. They had no idea of a pure God; they knew nothing of the doctrine of the Messiah; and they naturally supposed, therefore, that he of whom Paul spoke so much must be a god of some other nation, of a rank similar to their own divinities. And the resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus, and through him the resurrection of the dead. It is evident, I think, that by the resurrection (thn anastasin) they understood him to refer to the name of some goddess. Such was the interpretation of Chrysostom. The Greeks had erected altars to Shame, and Famine, and Desire, (Paus. i. 17,) and it is probable that they supposed "the resurrection," or the Anastasis, to be the name also of some unknown goddess who presided over the resurrection. Thus they regarded him as a setter forth of two foreign or strange gods.—Jesus, and the Anastasis, or resurrection.

{b} "of the Epicureans" Col 2:8

{1} "babbler" "base fellow"

{*} "strange" "Foreign"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 19

Verse 19. And brought him unto Areopagus. Margin, or Mars' hill. This was the place or court in which the Areopagites, the celebrated supreme judges of Athens, assembled. It was on a hill almost in the middle of the city; but nothing now remains by which we can determine the form or construction of the tribunal. The hill is almost entirely a mass of stone, and is not easily accessible, its sides being steep and abrupt. On many accounts this was the most celebrated tribunal in the world. Its decisions were distinguished for justice and correctness; nor was there any court in Greece in which so much confidence was placed. This court took cognizance of murders, impieties, and immoralities; they punished vices of all kinds, including idleness; they rewarded the virtuous; they were peculiarly attentive to blasphemies against the gods, and to the performance of the sacred mysteries of religion. It was, therefore, with the greatest propriety that Paul was questioned before this tribunal, as being regarded as a setter forth of strange gods, and as being supposed to wish to introduce a new mode of worship. See Potter's Antiquities of Greece, b. i. chap. 19; and Travels of Anacharsis, vol. i. pp. 136, 185; ii. pp. 292—295.

May we know. We would know. This seems to have been a respectful inquiry; and it does not appear that Paul was brought there for the sake of trial. There are no accusations; no witnesses; none of the forms of trial. They seem to have resorted thither because it was the place where the subject of religion was usually discussed, and because it was a place of confluence of the citizens and judges and wise men of Athens, and of foreigners. The design seems to have been not to try him, but fairly to canvass the claims of his doctrines. See Ac 17:21. It was just an instance of the inquisitive spirit of the people of Athens, willing to hear before they condemned, and to examine before they approved.

{2} "Areopagus" "Mars Hill" It was the highest court in Athens

{c} "new doctrine" Joh 13:34; 1 Jo 2:7,8

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 20

Verse 20. Certain strange things. Literally, something pertaining to a foreign country or people. Here it means something unusual, remarkable, to which we are not accustomed to hear from their philosophers and religious teachers.

What these things mean. We would understand more clearly what is affirmed respecting Jesus and the resurrection.

{a} "certain strange" Jos 8:12

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 21

Verse 21. For all the Athenians. This was their general character.

And strangers which were there. Athens was greatly distinguished for the celebrity of its schools of philosophy. It was at that time at the head of the literary world. Its arts and its learning were celebrated in all lands. It is known, therefore, that it was the favourite resort of men of other nations, who came there to become acquainted with its institutions, and to listen to its sages.

Spent their time in nothing else. The learned and subtle Athenians gave themselves much to speculation, and employed themselves in examining the various new systems of philosophy that were proposed. Strangers and foreigners who were there, having much leisure, would also give themselves to the same inquiries.

But either to tell or to hear some new thing. Greek, something newer. Kainoteron. The latest news; or the latest subject of inquiry proposed. This is well known to have been the character of the people of Athens at all times. "Many of the ancient writers bear witness to the garrulity, and curiosity, and intemperate desire of novelty, among the Athenians, by which they inquired respecting all things, even those in which they had no interest, whether of a public or private nature." —Kuinoel. Thus Thucyd. (3,38) says of them, "You excel in suffering yourselves to be deceived with novelty of speech." On which the old Scholiast makes this remark, almost in the words of Luke: "He (Thucydides) here blames the Athenians, who care for nothing else but to tell or to hear something new." Thus AElian (15, 13) says of the Athenians, that they are versatile in novelties. Thus Demosthenes represents the Athenians "as inquiring in the place of public resort if there were any NEWS?" ti newteron. Meursius has shown, also, that there were more than three hundred public places in Athens of public resort, where the principal youth and reputable citizens were accustomed to meet for the purpose of conversation and inquiry.

{1} "Mars Hill" "the court of the Areopagites"

{b} "too superstitious" Jer 50:38

{+} "superstitious" "Much addicted to the worship of demons"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 22

Verse 22. Then Paul. This commences Paul's explanation of the doctrines which he had stated. It is evident that Luke has recorded but a mere summary or outline of the discourse; but it is such as to enable us to see clearly his course of thought, and the manner in which he met the two principal sects of their philosophers.

In the midst of Mars' hill. Greek, Areopagus. This should have been retained in the translation.

Ye men of Athens. This language was perfectly respectful, notwithstanding his heart had been deeply affected by their idolatry. Everything about this discourse is calm, grave, cool, and argumentative. Paul understood the character of his auditors, and did not commence his discourse by denouncing them, or suppose that they would be convinced by mere dogmatical assertion. No happier instance can be found, of cool, collected argumentation, than is furnished in this discourse.

I perceive. He perceived this by his observations of their forms of worship, in passing through their city, Ac 17:23. In all things. In respect to all events.

Ye are too superstitious. deisidaimonesterouv. This is a most unhappy translation. We use the word superstitious always in a bad sense, to denote being over scrupulous and rigid in religious observances, particularly in smaller matters; or to a zealous devotion to rites and observances which are not commanded. But the word here is designed to convey no such idea. It properly means reverence for the gods or demons. It is used in the classic writers in a good sense, to denote piety towards the gods, or suitable fear and reverence for them; and also in a bad sense, to denote improper fear or excessive dread of their anger; and in this sense it accords with our word superstitious. But it is altogether improbable that Paul should have used it in a bad sense. For,

(1.) it was not his custom needlessly to blame or offend his auditors.

(2.) It is not probable that he would commence his discourse in a manner that would only excite their prejudice and opposition.

(3.) In the thing which he specifies, Ac 17:23, as proof on the subject, he does not introduce it as a matter of blame, but rather as a proof of their devotedness to the cause of religion, and of their regard for God.

(4.) The whole speech is calm, dignified, and argumentative—such as became such a place, such a speaker, and such an audience. The meaning of the expression is, therefore, "I perceive that you are greatly devoted to reverence for religion; that it is a characteristic of the people to honour the gods, to rear altars to them, and to recognize the Divine agency in times of trial." The proof of this was the altar reared to the unknown God; its bearing on his purpose was, that such a state of public sentiment must be favourable to an inquiry into the truth of what he was about to state.

{1} "Mars Hill" "the court of the Areogapites"

{b} "too superstitious" Jer 50:35

{+} "superstitious" "much addicted to the worship of demons"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 23

Verse 23. For as I passed by. Greek, "For I, coming through, and seeing," etc.

And beheld. Diligently contemplated; attentively considered— anayewrwn. The worship of an idolatrous people will be an object of intense and painful interest to a Christian.

Your devotions. ta sebasmata. Our word devotions refers to the act of worship—to prayers, praises, etc. The Greek word here used means, properly, any sacred thing; any object which is worshipped, or which is connected with the place or rites of worship. Thus it is applied either to the gods themselves, or to the temples, altars, shrines, sacrifices, statues, etc., connected with the worship of the gods. This is its meaning here. It does not denote that Paul saw them engaged in the act of worship, but that he was struck with the numerous temples, altars, statues, etc., which were reared to the gods, and which indicated the state of the people. Syriac, "The temple of your gods." Vulgate, "your images." Margin, "gods that ye worship?'"

I found an altar. An altar usually denotes a place for sacrifice. Here, however, it does not appear that any sacrifice was offered; but it was probably a monument of stone, reared to commemorate a certain event, and dedicated to the unknown God.

To the unknown God. agnwstw yew. Where this altar was reared, or on what occasion, has been a subject of much debate with expositors. That there was such an altar in Athens, though it may not have been specifically mentioned by the Greek writers, is rendered probable by the following circumstances:

(1.) It was customary to rear such altars. Minutius Felix says of the Romans, in his Philopatria, uses this form of an oath: "I swear by the unknown God at Athens"—the very expression used by the apostle. And again he says, (chap. xxix. 180,) "We have found out the unknown God at Athens, and worshipped him with our hands stretched up to heaven," etc.

(3.) There were altars at Athens inscribed to the unknown gods. Philostratus says, (in Vita. Apollo. vi. 3,) "And this at Athens, where there are even altars to the unknown gods," Thus Pausanina (in Attic. chap. 1) says, that at Athens there are altars of gods which are called the UNKNOWN ones." Jerome, in his commentary, (Epistle to Titus 1:12,) says that the whole inscription was, "to the gods of Asia, Europe, and Africa; to the unknown and strange gods."

(4.) There was a remarkable altar reared in Athens in a time of pestilence, in honour of the unknown god which had granted them deliverance. Diogenes Laertius says that Epimenides restrained the pestilence in the following manner: "Taking white and black sheep, he led them to the Areopagus, and there permitted them to go where they would, commanding those who followed them to sacrifice (tw proshkonti yew) to the god to whom these things pertained, [or who had the power of averting the plague, whoever he might be, without adding the name,] and thus to allay the pestilence. From which it has arisen, that at this day, through the villages of the Athenians, altars are found without any name. (Dioge. Laer. b. i. &§ 10.) This took place about 600 years before Christ, and it is not improbable that one or more of those altars remained until the time of Paul. It should be added, that the natural inscription on those altars would be, "To the unknown god." None of the gods to whom they usually sacrificed could deliver them from the pestilence. They therefore reared them to some unknown Being who had the power to free them from the plague.

Whom therefore. The true God, who had really delivered them from the plague.

Ye ignorantly worship. Or worship without knowing his name. You have expressed your homage for him by rearing to him an altar.

Him declare I unto you. I make known to you his name, attributes, etc. There is remarkable address and tact in Paul's seizing on this circumstance; and yet it was perfectly fair and honest. God only could deliver in the time of the pestilence. This altar had, therefore, been really reared to him, though his name was unknown. The same Being who had interposed at that time, and whose interposition was recorded by the building of this altar, was he who had made the heavens; who ruled over all; and whom Paul was now about to make known to them. There is another feature of skill in the allusion to this altar. In other circumstances it might seem to be presumptuous for an unknown Jew to attempt to instruct the sages of Athens. But here they had confessed and proclaimed their ignorance. By rearing this altar they acknowledged their need of instruction. The way was, therefore, fairly open for Paul to address even these philosophers, and to discourse to them on a point on which they acknowledged their ignorance.

{2} "devotions" "much addicted to the worship of demons"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 24

Verse 24. God that made the world. The main object of this discourse of Paul is to convince them of the folly of idolatry, Ac 17:29, and thus to lead them to repentance. For this purpose he commences with a statement of the true doctrine respecting God as the Creator of all things. We may observe here,

(1.) that he speaks here of God as the Creator of the world—thus opposing indirectly their opinions that there were many gods.

(2.) He speaks of him as the Creator of the world, and thus opposes the opinion that matter was eternal; that all things were controlled by fate; and that he could be confined to temples. The Epicureans held that matter was eternal, and that the world was formed by a fortuitous concourse of atoms. To this opinion Paul opposed the doctrine that all things were made by one God. Comp. Ac 14:15.

Seeing that, etc. Gr., "He being Lord of heaven and earth."

Lord of heaven and earth. Proprietor and Ruler of heaven and earth. It is highly absurd, therefore, to suppose that He who is present in heaven and in earth at the same time, and who rules over all, should be confined to a temple of an earthly structure, or dependent on man for anything.

Dwelleth not, etc. See Barnes "Ac 7:48".

{a} "that made the world" Ac 14:15

{b} "Lord of heaven" Mt 11:25

{c} "not in temples" Ac 7:48

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 25

Verse 25. Neither is worshipped with men's hands. The word here rendered worshipped—yerapeuetai—denotes to serve; to wait upon; and then to render religious service or homage. There is reference here, undoubtedly, to a notion prevalent among the heathen, that the gods were fed or nourished by the offerings made to them. The idea is prevalent among the Hindoos, that the sacrifices which are made, and which are offered in the temples, are consumed by the gods themselves. Perhaps, also, Paul had reference to the fact that so many persons were employed in their temples in serving them with their hands; that is, in preparing sacrifices and feasts in their honour. Paul affirms that the great Creator of all things cannot be thus dependent on his creatures for happiness; and consequently that that mode of worship must be highly absurd. The same idea occurs in Ps 50:10-12:

or every beast of the forest is mine;
And the cattle upon a thousand hills.
I know all the fowls of the mountain;
And the wild beasts of the field are mine.
If I were hungry, I would not tell thee;
For the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.

Seeing he giveth. Gr., He having given to all, etc.

Life. He is the Source of life; and therefore he cannot be dependent on that life which he has himself imparted.

And breath. The power of breathing, by which life is sustained. He not only originally gave life, but he gives it at each moment; he gives the power of drawing each breath by which life is supported. It is possible that the phrase "life and breath" may be the figure hendyades, by which one thing is expressed by two words. And it is highly probable that Paul here had reference to Ge 2:7: "And the LORD God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life."

The same idea occurs in Job 12:10:

In whose hand is the life
of every living thing;
And the breath of all mankind.

And all things. All things necessary to sustain life. We may see here how dependent man is on God. There can be no more absolute dependence than that for every breath. How easy it would be for God to suspend our breathing! How incessant the care, how unceasing the providence by which, whether we sleep or wake —whether we remember or forget him—he heaves our chest, fills our lungs, restores the vitality of our blood, and infuses rigour into our frame! Comp. See Barnes "Ro 11:36".

{d} "needed anything" Ps 50:8

{e} "giveth to all life" Job 12:10; Zec 12:1

{f} "all things" Ro 11:36

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 26

Verse 26. And hath made of one blood. All the families of men are descended from one origin, or stock. However different their complexion, features, language, etc., yet they are derived from a common parent. The word blood is often used to denote race, stock, kindred. This passage completely proves that all the human family are descended from the same ancestor; and that, consequently, all the variety of complexion, etc., is to be traced to some other cause than that there were originally different races created. See Ge 1; comp. Mal 2:10. The design of the apostle in this affirmation was, probably, to convince the Greeks that he regarded them all as brethren; and that, although he was a Jew, yet he was not enslaved to any narrow notions or prejudices in reference to other men. It follows also from this, that no one nation, and no individual, can claim any pre-eminence over others in virtue of birth or blood. All are in this respect equal; and the whole human family, however they may differ in complexion, customs, and laws, are to be regarded and treated as brethren. It follows, also, that no one part of the race has a right to enslave or oppress any other part, on account of difference of complexion. Nor has man a right, because

He finds his fellow guilty of a skin
Not coloured like his own, and having power
T' enforce the wrong, for such a worthy cause to
Doom and devote him as his lawful prey.

For to dwell, etc. To cultivate and till the earth. This was the original command, Ge 1:28; and God, by his providence, has so ordered it that the descendants of one family have found their way to all lands, and have become adapted to the climate where he has placed them.

And hath determined. Gr. orisav. Having fixed or marked out a boundary. See Barnes "Ro 1:4".

The word is usually applied to a field, which is designated by a boundary. It means here, that God hath marked out, or designated in his purpose, their future abodes.

The times before appointed. This evidently refers to the dispersion and migration of nations. And it means that God had, in his plan, fixed the times when each country should be settled; the time of the location, the rise, the prosperity, and the fall of each nation. It implies,

(1.) that these times had been before appointed; and,

(2.) that it was done in wisdom. It was his plan; and the different continents and islands had not, therefore, been settled by chance, but by a wise rule, and in accordance with his arrangement and design.

And the bounds of their habitation. Their limits and boundaries as a people. He has designated the black man to Africa; the white man to northern regions; the American savage he fixed in the wilds of the western continent, etc. By customs, laws, inclinations, and habits, he fixed the boundaries of their habitations, and disposed them to dwell there. We may learn,

(1.) that the revolutions and changes of nations are under the direction of infinite wisdom;

(2.) that men should not be restless and dissatisfied with the place where God has located them;

(3.) that God has given sufficient limits to all, so that it is not needful to invade others; and,

(4.) that wars of conquest are evil. God has given to men their places of abode, and we have no right to disturb those abodes, or to attempt to displace them in a violent manner. This strain of remark by the apostle was also opposed to all the notions of the Epicurean philosophers; and yet so obviously true and just, that they could not gainsay or resist it.

{g} "blood" Mal 2:10

{h} "before appointed" Ps 31:15

{i} "bounds of their habitation" Isa 14:21

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 27

Verse 27. That they should seek the Lord. Gr., To seek the Lord. The design of thus placing them on the earth—of giving them their habitation among his works—was that they should contemplate his wisdom in his works, and thus come to a knowledge of his existence and character. All nations, though living in different regions and climates, have thus the opportunity of becoming acquainted with God, Ro 1:19,20. The fact, that the nations did not thus learn the character of the true God, shows their great stupidity and wickedness. The design of Paul in this was, doubtless, to reprove the idolatry of the Athenians. The argument is this: "God has given to each nation its proper opportunity to learn his character. Idolatry, therefore, is folly and wickedness; since it is possible to find out the existence of the one God from his works."

If haply. ei arage. If perhaps—implying that it was possible to find God, though it might be attended with some difficulty. God has placed us here that we may make the trial; and has made it possible thus to find him.

They might feel after him. The word used here—qhlafhseian means, properly, to touch, to handle, Lu 24:39; Heb 12:18; and then to ascertain the qualities of an object by the sense of touch. And as the sense of touch is regarded as a certain way of ascertaining the existence and qualities of an object, the word means to search diligently, that we may know distinctly and certainly. The word has this sense here. It means to search diligently and accurately for God, to learn his existence and perfections. The Syriac renders it, "that they may seek for God, and find him from his creatures."

And find him. Find the proofs of his existence. Become acquainted with his perfections and laws.

Though he be not far, etc. This seems to be stated by the apostle to show that it was possible to find him; and that even those who were without a revelation need not despair of becoming acquainted with his existence and perfections. He is near to us,

(1.) because the proofs of his existence and power are round about us everywhere, Ps 19:1-6.

(2.) Because he fills all things in heaven and earth by his essential presence, Ps 139:7-10; Jer 23:23,24; Am 9:2-4; 1 Ki 8:27.

We should learn then,

(1.) to be afraid to sin. God is present with us, and sees all.

(2.) He can protect the righteous. He is ever with them.

(3.) He can detect and punish the wicked. He sees all their plans and thoughts, and records all their doings.

(4.) We should seek him continually. It is the design for which he has made us; and he has given us abundant opportunities to learn his existence and perfections.

{*} "haply" "possible"

{**} "feel after him" "search"

{a} "he be not far" Ac 14:16

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 28

Verse 28: For in him we live. The expression "in him" evidently means by him; by his originally forming us, and continually sustaining us. No words can better express our constant dependence on him. He is the original Fountain of life; and he upholds us each moment. A similar sentiment is found in Plautus, (5, 4; 14:) "O Jupiter, who dost cherish and nourish the race of man; by whom we live, and with whom is the hope of the life of all men."—(Kuinoel.) It does not appear, however, that Paul intended this as a quotation; yet he doubtless intended to state a sentiment with which they were familiar, and with which they would agree.

And move. Kinoumeya. Doddridge translates this, "And are moved." It may, however, be in the middle voice, and be correctly rendered as in our version. It means that we derive strength to move from him; an expression denoting constant and absolute dependence. There is no idea of dependence more striking than that we owe to him the ability to perform the slightest motion.

And have our being. kai esmen. And are. This denotes that our continued existence is owing to him. That we live at all is his gift; that we have power to move is his gift; and our continued and prolonged existence is his gift also. Thus Paul traces our dependence on Him from the lowest pulsation of life to the highest powers of action and of continued existence. It would be impossible to express in more emphatic language our entire dependence on God.

As certain also. As some. The sentiment which he quotes was found substantially in several Greek poets.

Of your own poets. He does not refer particularly here to poets of Athens, but to Greek poets—poets who had written in their language.

For we are also his offspring. This precise expression is found in Aratus, (Phaenom. v. 5,) and in Cleanthus in a hymn to Jupiter. Substantially the same sentiment is found in several other Greek poets. Aratus was a Greek poet of Cilicia, the native place of Paul, and flourished about 277 years before Christ. As Paul was a native of the same country, it is highly probable he was acquainted with his writings. Aratus passed much of his time at the court of Antigonus Gonatas, king of Macedonia. His principal work was the Phaenomena, which is here quoted, and was so highly esteemed in Greece that many learned men wrote commentaries on it. The sentiment here quoted was directly at variance with the views of the Epicureans; and it is proof of Patti's address and skill, as well as his acquaintance with his auditors, and with the Greek poets, that he was able to adduce a sentiment so directly in point, and that had the concurrent testimony of so many of the Greeks themselves. It is one instance among thousands where an acquaintance with profane learning may be of use to a minister of the gospel.

{b} "in him" Col 1:17

{+} "him" "deity"

{c} "certain" Tit 1:12

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 29

Verse 29. Forasmuch then. Admitting or assuming this to be true. The argument which follows is drawn from the concessions of their own writers.

We ought not to think. It is absurd to suppose. The argument of the apostle is this: "Since we are formed by God; since we are like him, living and intelligent beings; since we are more excellent in our nature than the most precious and ingenious works of art, it is absurd to suppose that the original Source of our existence can be like gold, and silver, and stone. Man himself is far more excellent than an image of wood or stone; how much more excellent still must be the great Fountain and Source of all our wisdom and intelligence!" See this thought pursued at length in Isa 40:18-23.

The Godhead. The Divinity—to yeion—the Divine Nature, or Essence. The word used here is an adjective employed as a noun, and does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament.

Is like unto gold, etc. All these things were used in making images, or statues of the gods. It is absurd to think that the Source of all life and intelligence resembles a lifeless block of wood or stone. Even degraded heathen, one would think, might see the force of an argument like this.

Graven. Sculptured; wrought into an image.

{d} "to think" Isa 40:18

{++} "Godhead" "Deity"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 30

Verse 30. And the times of this ignorance. The long period when men were ignorant of the true God, and when they worshipped stocks and stones. Paul here refers to the times preceding the gospel.

God winked at. uperidwn. Overlooked, connived at; did not come forth to punish. In Ac 14:16, it is expressed thus: "Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways." The sense is, he passed over those times without punishing them, as if he did not see them. For wise purposes he suffered them to walk in ignorance, and to make the fair experiment to show what men would do; and how much necessity there was for a revelation to instruct them in the true knowledge of God. We are not to suppose that God regarded idolatry as innocent, or the crimes and vices to which idolatry led as of no importance; but their ignorance was a mitigating circumstance, and he suffered the nations to live without coming forth in direct judgment against them. Comp. See Barnes "Ac 3:17" See Barnes "Ac 14:16".

But now commandeth. By the gospel, Lu 24:47.

All men. Not Jews only, who had been favoured with peculiar privileges, but all nations. The barrier was broken down, and the call to repentance was sent abroad into all the earth.

To repent. To exercise sorrow for their sins, and to forsake them. If God commands all men to repent, we may observe,

(1.) that it is their duty to do it. There is no higher obligation than to obey the command of God.

(2.) It can be done. God would not command an impossibility.

(3.) It is binding on all. The rich, the learned, the great, the gay, are as much bound as the beggar and the slave. There is no distinction made. It pertains to all people, in all lands.

(4.) It must be done, or the soul lost. It is not wise, and it is not safe, to neglect a plain law of God. It will not be well to die reflecting that we have all our life neglected and despised his plain commands.

(5.) We should send the gospel to the heathen. God calls on the nations to repent, and to be saved. It is the duty of Christians to make known to them the command, and to invite them to the blessings of pardon and heaven.

{e} "winked at" Ro 2:16

{f} "commandeth all men" Lu 24:47; Tit 2:11,12

{&} "winked at" "overlooked"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 31

Verse 31. Because he hath appointed a day. This is given as a reason why God commands men to repent. They must be judged; and if they are not penitent and pardoned, they must be condemned. See Barnes "Ro 2:16".

Whom he hath ordained. Or whom he has constituted or appointed as judge. See Barnes "Ac 10:42".

See Barnes "Joh 5:25".

Hath given assurance Has afforded evidence of this. That evidence consists,

(1.) in the fact that Jesus declared that he would judge the nations, Joh 5:25,26; Mt 25, and

(2.) God confirmed the truth of his declaration by raising him from the dead, or gave his sanction to what the Lord Jesus had said, for God would not work a miracle in favour of an imposter.

{g} "a day" Ro 2:16

{*} "ordained" "Appointed"

{1} "given assurance" "offered faith"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 32

Verse 32. Some mocked. Some of the philosophers derided him. It was believed by none of the Greeks; it seemed incredible; and they regarded it as so absurd as not to admit of an argument. It has not been uncommon for even professed philosophers to mock at the doctrines of religion, and to meet the arguments of Christianity with a Sneer. The Epicureans particularly would be likely to deride this, as they denied altogether any future state. It is not improbable that this derision by the Epicureans produced such a disturbance as to break off Paul's discourse, as that of Stephen had been by the clamour of the Jews, Ac 7:54.

And others said. Probably some of the Stoics. The doctrine of a future state was not denied by them; and the fact, affirmed by Paul, that one had been raised up from the dead, would appear more plausible to them, and it might be a matter worth inquiry to ascertain whether the alleged fact did not furnish a new argument for their views. They, therefore, proposed to examine this further at some future time. That the inquiry was prosecuted any further does not appear probable; for,

(1.) no church was organized at Athens.

(2.) There is no account of any future interview with Paul.

(3.) He departed almost immediately from them, Ac 18:1. Men who defer inquiry on the subject of religion seldom find the favourable period arrive. Those who propose to examine its doctrines at a future time, often do it to avoid the inconvenience of becoming Christians now; and as a plausible and easy way of rejecting the gospel altogether, without appearing to be rude, or to give offence.

{a} "some mocked" Ac 26:8

{+} "mocked" "scoffed"

{b} "of this matter" Lu 14:18

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 33

Verse 33. So Paul departed. Seeing there was little hope of saving them. it was not his custom to labour long in a barren field, or to preach where there was no prospect of success.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 34

Verse 34. Clave unto him. Adhered to him firmly; embraced the Christian religion.

Dionysius. Nothing more is certainly known of this man than is here stated.

The Areopagite. Connected with the court of Areopagus, but in what way is not known. It is probable that he was one of the judges. The conversion of one man was worth the labour of Paul; and the secret influence of that conversion might have had an extensive influence on others.

In regard to this interesting account of the visit of Paul to Athens —probably the only one which he made to that splendid capital— we may remark,

(1.) that he was indefatigable and constant in his great work.

(2.) Christians, amidst the splendour and gaieties of such cities, should have their hearts deeply affected in view of the moral desolations of the people.

(3.) They should be willing to do their duty, and to bear witness to the pure and simple gospel in the presence of the great and the noble.

(4.) They should not consider it their main business to admire splendid temples, and statues, and paintings—the works of art; but their main business should be, to do good as they may have opportunity.

(5.) A discourse, even in the midst of much wickedness and idolatry, may be calm and dignified; not an appeal merely to the passions, but to the understanding. Paul reasoned with the philosophers of Athens; he did not denounce them; he endeavoured calmly to convince them, not harshly to censure them.

(6.) The example of Paul is a good one for all Christians. In all places —cities, towns, or country; amidst all people—philosophers, and the rich, and the poor; among friends and countrymen, or among strangers and foreigners, the great object should be to do good, to instruct mankind, and to seek to elevate the human character, and promote human happiness, by diffusing the mild and pure precepts of the gospel of Christ.

{++} "clave" "Joined themselves"


THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 18 - Verse 1

Verse 1. After these things. After what occurred at Athens, as recorded in the previous chapter.

Came to Corinth. Corinth was the capital of Achaia, called anciently Ephyra, and was seated on the isthmus which divides the Peloponnesus from Attica. The city itself stood on a little island; it had two ports, Lechaeum on the west, and Cenchrea on the east. It was one of the most populous and wealthy cities of Greece; and, at the same time, one of the most luxurious, effeminate, proud, ostentatious, and dissolute. Laciviousness here was not only practised and allowed, but was consecrated by the worship of Venus; and no small part of the wealth and splendour of the city arose from the offerings made by licentious passion in the very temples of this goddess. No city of ancient times was more profligate. It was the Paris of antiquity; the seat of splendour, and show, and corruption. Yet even here, notwithstanding all the disadvantages of splendour, gaiety, and dissoluteness, Paul entered on the work of rearing a church; and here he was eminently successful. The two epistles which he afterwards wrote to this church show the extent of his success; and the well-known character and propensities of the people will account for the general drift of the admonitions and arguments in those epistles. Corinth was destroyed by the Romans, 146 years before Christ; and during the conflagration, several metals in a fused state, running together, produced the composition known as Corinthian brass. It was afterwards restored by Julius Caesar, who planted in it a Roman colony. It soon regained its ancient splendour, and soon relapsed into its former dissipation and licentiousness. Paul arrived there A.D. 52 or 53.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 18 - Verse 2

Verse 2. And found a certain Jew. Aquila is elsewhere mentioned as the friend of Paul, Ro 16:3; 2 Ti 4:19; 1 Co 16:19.

Though a Jew by birth, yet it is evident that he became a convert to the Christian faith.

Born in Pontus. See Barnes "Ac 2:9".

Lately come from Italy. Though the command of Claudius extended only to Rome, yet it was probably deemed not safe to remain, or it might have been difficult to procure occupation in any part of Italy.

Because that Claudius. Claudius was the Roman emperor. He commenced his reign A.D. 41, and was poisoned A.D. 64. At what time in his reign this command was issued is not certainly known.

Had commanded, etc. This command is not mentioned by Josephus; but it is recorded by Suetonius, a Roman historian, (Life of Claudius, chap. 26,) who says, that "he expelled the Jews from Rome, who were constantly exciting tumults under their leader, Chrestus." Who this Chrestus was, is not known. It might have been a foreign Jew, who raised tumults on some occasion, of which we have no knowledge—as the Jews in all heathen cities were greatly prone to excitements and insurrections. Or it may be that Suetonius, little acquainted with Jewish affairs, mistook this for the name Christ, and supposed that he was the leader of the Jews. This explanation has much plausibility; for,

(1.) Suetonius could scarcely be supposed to be intimately acquainted with the affairs of the Jews.

(2.) There is every reason to believe that, before this, the Christian religion was preached at Rome.

(3.) It would produce there, as everywhere else, great tumult and contention among the Jews.

(4.) Claudius, the emperor, might suppose that such tumults endangered the peace of the city, and resolve to remove the cause at once by the dispersion of all the Jews.

(5.) A Roman historian might easily mistake the true state of the case; and while they were contending about Christ, he might suppose that it was under him, as a leader, that these tumults were excited. All that is material however, here, is the fact, in which Luke and Suetonius agree, that the Jews were expelled from Rome during his reign.

{c} "Aquila" Ro 16:3

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 18 - Verse 3

Verse 3. The same craft. Of the same trade, or occupation.

And wrought. And worked at that occupation. Why he did it, the historian does not affirm; but it seems pretty evident that it was because he had no other means of maintenance. He also laboured for his own support in Ephesus, Ac 20:34 and also at Thessalonica, 2 Th 3:9,10. The apostle was not ashamed of honest industry for a livelihood; nor did he deem it any disparagement that a minister of the gospel should labour with his own hands.

For by their occupation. By their trade; that is, they had been brought up to this business. Paul had been designed originally for a lawyer, and had been brought up at the feet of Gamaliel. But it was a regular custom among the Jews to train up their sons to some useful employment, that they might have the means of an honest livelihood. Even though they were trained up to the liberal sciences, yet they deemed a handicraft trade, or some honourable occupation, an indispensable part of education. Thus Maimonides (in the Tract Talmud. Tors, c. i. & 9) says, that "the wise generally practise some of the arts, lest they should be dependent on the charity of others." See Grotius. The wisdom of this is obvious; and it is equally plain that a custom of this kind now might preserve the health and lives of many professional men, and save from ignoble dependence or vice, in future years, many who are trained up in the lap of indulgence and wealth.

They were tentmakers. Skhnopoioi. There have been various opinions about the meaning of this word. Many have supposed that it denotes a weaver of tapestry. Luther thus translated it. But it is probable that it denotes, as in our translation, a manufacturer of tents, made of skin or cloth. In eastern countries, where there was much travel, where there were no inns, and where many were shepherds, such a business might be useful, and a profitable source of living. It was an honourable occupation, and Paul was not ashamed to be employed in it.

{&} "craft" "occupation"

{d} "wrought" Ac 20:34

{|} "wrought" "worked"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 18 - Verse 4

Verse 4. And he reasoned. See Barnes "Ac 17:2".

{*) "reasoned" "discoursed"

{a} "synagogue" Ac 17:2

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 18 - Verse 5

Verse 5. And when Silas and Timotheus, etc. They came to Paul according to his request, which he had sent by the brethren who accompanied him from Thessalonica, Ac 17:16.

Paul was pressed. Was urged; was borne away by an unusual impulse. It was deeply impressed on him as his duty.

In spirit. In his mind, in his feelings. His love to Christ was so great, and his conviction of the truth so strong, that he laboured to make known to them the truth that Jesus was the Messiah.

That Jesus was Christ. That Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah. Comp. Ac 17:16. The presence of Silas and Timothy animated him; and the certainty of aid in his work urged him to zeal in making known the Saviour.

{1} "was Christ" "is the Christ"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 18 - Verse 6

Verse 6. And when they opposed themselves. To him and his message.

And blasphemed. See Barnes "Ac 13:4".

He shook his raiment. As an expressive act of shaking off the guilt of their condemnation. Comp. Ac 13:45. He shook his raiment to show that he was resolved henceforward to have nothing to do with them; perhaps, also, to express the fact that God would soon shake them off, or reject them. (Doddridge.)

Your blood, etc. The guilt of your destruction is your own. You only are the cause of the destruction that is coming upon you. See Barnes "Mt 27:25".

I am clean. I am not to blame for your destruction. I have done my duty. The gospel had been fairly offered, and deliberately rejected; and Paul was not to blame for their ruin, which he saw was coming upon them.

I will go, etc. See Ac 13:46.

{c} "opposed themselves" 2 Ti 2:25

{d} "shook his raiment" Ne 5:13

{e} "Your blood be" Eze 28:4

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 18 - Verse 7

Verse 7. A certain man's house. Probably he had become a convert to the Christian faith.

Joined hard. Was near to the synagogue.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 18 - Verse 8

Verse 8. And Crispus. He is mentioned, in 1 Co 1:14, as having been one of the few whom Paul baptized with his own hands. The conversion of such a man must have tended greatly to exasperate the other Jews, and to further the progress of the Christian faith among the Corinthians.

With all his house. With all his family, Ac 10:2.

And many of the Corinthians. Many even in this voluptuous and wicked city. Perhaps the power of the gospel was never more signal than in converting sinners in Corinth, and rearing a Christian church in a place so dissolute and abandoned. If it was adapted to such a place as Corinth —if a church, under the power of Christian truth, could be organized there—it is adapted to any city; and there is none so corrupt that the gospel cannot change and purify it.

{f} "Crispus" 1 Co 1:14

{+} "with all his house" "with his hold household"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 18 - Verse 9

Verse 9. By a vision. See Barnes "Ac 9:10, See Barnes "Ac 16:9".

Be not afraid. Perhaps Paul might have been intimidated by the learning, refinement, and splendour of Corinth; perhaps embarrassed in view of his duty of addressing the rich, the polite, and the great. To this he may allude in 1 Co 2:3: "And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling." In such circumstances it pleased God to meet him, and disarm his fears. This he did by assuring him of success. The fact that God had much people in that city, Ac 18:10, was employed to remove his apprehensions. The prospect of success in the ministry, and the certainty of the presence of God, will take away the fear of the rich, the learned, and the great.

{&} "Hold not thy peace" "Be not silent"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 18 - Verse 10

Verse 10. For I am with thee. I will attend, bless, and protect you. See Barnes "Mt 28:20".

No man shall set on thee. No one who shall rise up against thee shall be able to hurt thee. His life was in God's hands, and he would preserve him, in order that his people might be collected into the church.

For I have. Greek, There is to me; i.e., I possess, or there belongs to me.

Much people. Many who should be regarded as his true friends, and who should be saved.

In this city. In that very city that was so voluptuous, so rich, so effeminate, and where there had been already so decided opposition shown to the gospel. This passage evidently means that God had a design or purpose to save many of that people; for it was given to Paul as all encouragement to him to labour there, evidently meaning that God would grant him success in his work. It cannot mean that the Lord meant to say that the great mass of the people, or that the moral and virtuous part, if there were any such, was then regarded as his people; but that he intended to convert many of those guilty and profligate Corinthians to himself, and to gather a people for his own service there. We may learn from this,

(1.) that God has a purpose in regard to the salvation of sinners.

(2.) That that purpose is so fixed in the mind of God, that he can say that those in relation to whom it is formed are his. There is no chance; no hap-hazard; no doubt in regard to his gathering them to himself.

(3.) This is the ground of encouragement to the ministers of the gospel. Had God no purpose to save sinners, they could have no hope in their work.

(4.) This plan may have reference to the most gay, and guilty, and abandoned population; and ministers should not be deterred by the amount or the degree of wickedness from attempting to save them.

(5.) There may be more hope of success among a dissolute and profligate population, than among proud, and cold, and skeptical philosophers. Paul had little success in philosophic Athens; he had great success in dissolute Corinth. There is often more hope of converting a man openly dissolute and abandoned, than one who prides himself on his philosophy, and is confident in his own wisdom.

{g} "I am with thee" Mt 28:20.

{%} "set on thee" "Lay hands on"

{|} "much people in this city" "many"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 18 - Verse 11

Verse 11. And he continued. etc. Paul was not accustomed to remain long in a place. At Ephesus, indeed, he remained three years, Ac 20:31; and his stay at Corinth was caused by his success, and by the necessity of placing a church, collected out of such corrupt and dissolute materials, on a firm foundation.

{2} "he continued there" "sat there"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 18 - Verse 12

Verse 12. And when Gallio. After the Romans had conquered Greece, they reduced it to two provinces, Macedonia and Achaia, which were each governed by a proconsul. Gallio was the brother of the celebrated philosopher Seneca, and was made proconsul of Achaia, A.D. 53. His proper name was Marcus Annaeus Novatus; but having been adopted into the family of Gallio, a rhetorician, he took his name. He is described by ancient writers as having been of a remarkably mild and amiable disposition. His brother Seneca (Pref. Quest. Natu. 4) describes him as being of the most lovely temper: "No mortal," says he, "was ever so mild to any one, as he was to all; and in him there was such a natural power of goodness, that there was no semblance of art or dissimulation."

Was the deputy. See this word explained in Ac 13:7. It means, here, proconsul.

Of Achaia. This word, in its largest sense, comprehended the whole of Greece. Achaia Proper, however, was a province of which Corinth was the capital. It embraced that part of Greece lying between Thessaly and the southern part of the Peloponnesus.

The Jews made insurrection. Excited a tumult, as they had in Philippi, Antioch, etc.

And brought him to the judgment seat. The tribunal of Gallio; probably intending to arraign him as a disturber of the peace.

{a} "judgment seat" Jas 2:6

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 18 - Verse 13

Verse 13. Contrary to the law. Evidently intending contrary to all law—the laws of the Romans and of the Jews. It was permitted to the Jews to worship God according to their own views in Greece; but they could easily pretend that Paul had departed from that mode of worshipping God. It was easy for them to maintain that he taught contrary to the laws of the Romans, and their acknowledged religion; and their design seems to have been, to accuse him of teaching men to worship God in an unlawful and irregular way, a way unknown to any of the laws of the empire.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 18 - Verse 14

Verse 14. About to open his mouth. In self-defence; ever ready to vindicate his conduct.

A matter of wrong. Injustice, or crime; such as could be properly brought before a court of justice.

Or wicked lewdness. Any flagrant and gross offence. The word used here occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It denotes, properly, an act committed by him who is skilled, facile, or an adept in iniquity—an act of a veteran offender. Such crimes Gallio was willing to take cognizance of.

Reason would, etc. Greek, "I would bear with you according to reason." There would be propriety or fitness in my hearing and trying the ease. That is, it would fall within the sphere of my duty, as appointed to guard the peace, and to punish crimes.

(*} "wicked lewdness" "injustice or wicked mischief"

{b} "O ye Jews, reason" Ro 13:3

{+} "bear with you"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 18 - Verse 15

Verse 15. Of words. A dispute about words; for such he would regard all their controversies about religion to be.

And names. Probably he had heard something of the nature of the controversy, and understood it to be a dispute about names; i.e., whether Jesus was to be called the Messiah or not. To him this would appear as a matter pertaining to the Jews alone, and to be ranked with their other disputes arising from the difference of sect and name.

Of your law. A question respecting the proper interpretation of the law, or the rites and ceremonies which it commanded. The Jews had many such disputes, and Gallio did not regard them as coming under his cognizance as a magistrate.

Look ye to it. Judge this among yourselves; settle the difficulty as you can. Comp. Joh 18:31.

For I will be no judge, etc. I do not regard such questions as pertaining to my office, or deem myself called on to settle them.

{++} "words and names" "Doctrines"

{c} "look ye to it" Joh 18:31; Ac 23:29; 22:11,19

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 18 - Verse 16

Verse 16. And he drave them, etc. He refused to hear and decide the controversy. He commanded them to depart from the court. The word used here does not denote that there was any violence used by Galio, but merely that he dismissed them in an authoritative manner.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 18 - Verse 17

Verse 17. Then all the Greeks. The Greeks who had witnessed the persecution of Paul by the Jews, and who had seen the tumult which they had excited.

Took Sosthenes, etc. As he was the chief ruler of the synagogue, he had probably been a leader in the opposition to Paul, and in the prosecution. Indignant at the Jews—at their bringing such questions before the tribunal—at their bigotry, and rage, and contentious spirit—they probably fell upon him in a tumultuous and disorderly manner as he was leaving the tribunal. The Greeks would feel no small measure of indignation at these disturbers of the public peace, and they took this opportunity to express their rage.

And beat him. Etupton. This word is not that which is commonly used to denote a judicial act of scourging. It probably means that they fell upon him, and beat him with their fists, or with whatever was at hand.

Before the judgment seat. Probably while leaving the tribunal. Instead of "Greeks" in this verse, some Mss. read "Jews," but the former is probably the true reading. The Syriac, Arabic, and Coptic read it "the Gentiles." It is probable that this Sosthenes afterwards became a convert to the Christian faith, and a preacher of the gospel. See 1 Co 1:1,2: "Paul, and Sosthenes our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth."

And Gallio cared, etc. This has been usually charged on Gallio as a matter of reproach, as if he were wholly indifferent to religion. But the charge is unjustly made; and his name is often most improperly used to represent the indifferent, the worldly, the careless, and the skeptical. But by the testimony of ancient writers, he was a most mild and amiable man; and an upright and just judge. Nor is there the least evidence that he was indifferent to the religion of his country, or that he was of a thoughtless and skeptical turn of mind. All that this passage implies is,

(1.) that he did not deem it to be his duty, or a part of his office, to settle questions of a theological nature that were started among the Jews.

(2.) That he was unwilling to make this subject a matter of legal discussion and investigation.

(3.) That he would not interfere, either on one side or the other, in the question about making proselytes either to or from Judaism. So far certainly his conduct was exemplary and proper.

(4.) That he did not choose to interpose, and rescue Sosthenes from the hands of the mob. From some cause he was willing that he should feel the effects of the public indignation. Perhaps it was not easy to quell the riot; perhaps he was not unwilling that he who had joined in a furious and unprovoked persecution should feel the effect of it in the excited passions of the people. At all events, he was but following the common practice among the Romans, which was to regard the Jews with contempt, and to care little how much they were exposed to popular fury and rage. In this he was wrong; and it is certain also that he was indifferent to the disputes between Jews and Christians; but there is no propriety in defaming his name, and making him the type and representative of all the thoughtless and indifferent men on the subject of religion in subsequent times. Nor is there propriety in using this passage as a text applicable to this class of men.

{d} "Sosthenes" 1 Co 1:1

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 18 - Verse 18

Verse 18. And sailed thence into Syria. Or set sail for Syria. His design was to go to Jerusalem to the festival which was soon to occur, Ac 18:21.

Having shorn his head. Many interpreters have supposed that this refers to Aquila, and not to Paul. But the connexion evidently requires us to understand it of Paul, though the Greek construction does not with certainty determine to which it refers. The Vulgate refers it to Aquila, the Syriac to Paul.

In Cenchrea. Cenchrea was the eastern port of Corinth. A church was formed in that place, Ro 16:1.

For he had a vow. A vow is a solemn promise made to God respecting anything. The use of vows is observable throughout the Scripture. Jacob, going into Mesopotamia, vowed the tenth of his estate, and promised to offer it at Bethel to the honour of God, Ge 28:22. Moses made many regulations in regard to vows. A man might devote himself or his children to the Lord. He might devote any part of his time or property to his service. The vow they were required sacredly to observe, (De 23:21,22) except in certain specified cases they were permitted to redeem that which had been thus devoted. The most remarkable vow among the Jews was that of the Nazarite; by which a man made a solemn promise to God to abstain from wine and all intoxicating liquors, to let the hair grow, and not to enter any house polluted by having a dead body in it, or to attend any funeral. This vow generally lasted eight days, sometimes a month, sometimes during a definite period fixed by themselves, and sometimes during their whole lives. When the vow expired, the priest made an offering of a he-lamb for a burnt-offering, a she-lamb for an expiatory sacrifice, and a ram for a peace-offering. The priest then, or some other person, shaved the head of the Nazarite at the door of the tabernacle, and burnt the hair on the fire of the altar. Those who made the vow out of Palestine, and who could not come to the temple when the vow was expired, contented themselves with observing the abstinence required by the law, and cutting off the hair where they were. This I suppose to have been the case with Paul. His hair he cut off at the expiration of the vow at Cenchrea, though he delayed to perfect the vow by the proper ceremonies until he reached Jerusalem, Ac 21:23,24. Why Paul made this vow, or on what occasion, the sacred historian has not informed us, and conjecture perhaps is useless. We may observe, however,

(1,) that it was common for the Jews to make such vows to God, as an expression of gratitude or of devotedness to his service, when they had been raised up from sickness, or delivered from danger or calamity. See Josephus, b. i. 2, 15. Vows of this nature were also made by the Gentiles on occasions of deliverance from any signal calamity. Juvenal Sat. 12, 81. It is possible that Paul may have made such a vow in consequence of signal deliverance from some of the numerous perils to which he was exposed. But,

(2.) there is reason to think that it was mainly with a design to convince the Jews that he did not despise their law, and was not its enemy. See Ac 21:22-24. In accordance with the custom of the nation, and in compliance with the law which was not wrong in itself, he might have made this vow, not for a time-serving purpose, but in order to conciliate them, and to mitigate their anger against the gospel. But where nothing is recorded, conjecture is useless. Those who wish to see the subject discussed, may consult Grotius and Kuinoel in loco, and Spencer de Legibus Hebrae. p. 862, and Calmet's Dic. art. Nazarite.

{&} "tarried" "remained"

{e} "having shorn his head" Nu 6:18; Ac 21:24

{f} "for he had a vow" Ro 16:1

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 18 - Verse 19

Verse 19. And he came to Ephesus. This was a celebrated city in Ionia, in Asia Minor, about forty miles south of Smyrna. It was chiefly famous for the temple of Diana, usually reckoned one of the seven wonders of the world. Pliny styles this city the ornament of Asia. In the times of the Romans it was the metropolis of Asia. This city is now under the dominion of the Turks, and is almost in a state of ruin. Dr. Chandler, in his travels in Asia Minor, says—"The inhabitants are a few Greek peasants, living in extreme wretchedness, dependence, and insensibility; the representatives of an illustrious people, and inhabiting the wreck of their greatness; some in the substructions of the glorious edifices which they raised; some beneath the vaults of the stadium, once the crowded scene of their diversions; and some in the sepulchres which received their ashes."—Travels, p. 131, Oxford, 1775. The Jews, according to Josephus, were very numerous in Ephesus, and had obtained the privilege of citizenship.

Left them there. That is, Aquila and Priscilla, Ac 18:24-26.

Reasoned with the Jews. See Barnes "Ac 17:2".

{*} "reasoned" "Discoursed"

{a} "reasoned with the Jews" Ac 17:2

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 18 - Verse 20

Verse 20. No Barnes text on this verse.

{+} "tarry" "Abide"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 18 - Verse 21

Verse 21. Keep this feast. Probably the passover is here referred to. Why he was so anxious to celebrate that feast at Jerusalem, the historian has not informed us. It is probable, however, that he wished to meet as many of his countrymen as possible, and to remove, if practicable, the prejudices which had everywhere been raised against him, Ac 21:20,21. Perhaps, also, he supposed that there would be many Christian converts present, whom he might meet also.

But I will return, etc. This he did, Ac 19:1, and remained there three years, Ac 20:31.

{b} "Jerusalem" Ac 19:21; 20:16

{c} "if God will" 1 Co 4:19; Jas 4:15

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 18 - Verse 22

Verse 22. Caesarea. See Barnes "Ac 8:40".

And gone up. From the ship.

And saluted the church. Having expressed for them his tender regard and affection.

To Antioch. In Syria. See Barnes "Ac 11:19".

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 18 - Verse 23

Verse 23. The country of Galatia and Phrygia. He had been over these regions before, preaching the gospel, Ac 16:6

Strengthening. Establishing then by exhortation and counsel. See Barnes "1 Co 1:12".

{d} "Galatia" Ga 1:2

{e} "strengthening" Ac 14:22; 15:32,41

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 18 - Verse 24

Verse 24. And a certain Jew named Apollos. Apollos afterwards became a distinguished and successful preacher of the gospel, 1 Co 1:12; 1 Co 3:5,6; 4:6; Tit 3:13.

Nothing more is known of him than is stated in these passages.

Born at Alexandria. Alexandria was a celebrated city in Egypt, founded by Alexander the Great. There were large numbers of Jews resident there. See Barnes "Ac 6:9".

An eloquent man. Alexandria was famous for its schools; and it is probable that Apollos, in addition to his natural endowments, had enjoyed the benefit of these schools.

Mighty in the Scriptures. Well instructed, or able in the Old Testament. The foundation was thus laid for future usefulness in the Christian church. See Barnes "Lu 24:19".

{f} "named Apollos" 1 Co 1:12; 3:5,6; Tit 3:13

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 18 - Verse 25

Verse 25. This man was instructed. Greek, was catechised. He was instructed, in some degree, into the knowledge of the Christian religion. By whom this was done, we have no information. See Barnes "Ac 2:9-11".

In the right way of the Lord. The word way often refers to doctrine, Mt 21:32. It means here that he had been correctly taught in regard to the Messiah; yet his knowledge was imperfect, Ac 18:26. The amount of his knowledge seems to have been:

(1.) He had correct views of the Messiah to come—views which he had derived from the study of the Old Testament. He was expecting a Saviour that should be humble, obscure, and a sacrifice, in opposition to the prevailing notions of the Jews.

(2.) He had heard of John; had embraced his doctrine; and probably had been baptized with reference to him that was to come. Comp. Mt 3:2; Ac 19:4. But it is clear that he had not heard that Jesus was the Messiah. With his correct views in regard to the coming of the Messiah, he was endeavouring to instruct and reform his countrymen. He was just in the state of mind to welcome the announcement that the Messiah had come, and to embrace Jesus of Nazareth as the hope of the nation.

Being fervent in the spirit. Being zealous and ardent. See Barnes "Ro 12:11".

Taught diligently. Defended with zeal and earnestness his views of the Messiah.

The things of the Lord. The doctrines pertaining to the Messiah, as far as he understood them.

Knowing only the baptism of John. Whether he had heard John, and been baptized by him, has been made a question, and cannot now be decided. It is not necessary, however, to suppose this, as it seems that the knowledge of John s preaching and baptism had been propagated extensively into other nations besides Judea, Ac 19:1-3. The Messiah was expected about that time. The foreign Jews would be waiting for him; and the news of John's ministry, doctrine, and success, would be rapidly propagated from synagogue to synagogue into the surrounding nations. John preached repentance, and baptized with reference to him that was to come after him, Ac 19:4; and this doctrine Apollos seems to have embraced.

{g} "fervent" Ro 12:11; Jas 5:16

{h} "knowing" Ac 19:3

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 18 - Verse 26

Verse 26. And expounded. Explained.

The way of God. Gave him full and ample instructions respecting the Messiah as having already come, and respecting the nature of his work.

{i} "more perfectly" He 6:1

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 18 - Verse 27

Verse 27. Into Achaia. See Barnes "Ac 18:12".

The brethren wrote. The brethren at Ephesus. Why he went, the historian does not inform us. But he had heard of the success of Paul there; of the church which he had established; of the opposition of the Jews; and it was doubtless with a desire to establish that church, and with a wish to convince his unbelieving countrymen that their views of the Messiah were erroneous, and that Jesus of Nazareth corresponded with the predictions of the prophets. Many of the Greeks at Corinth were greatly captivated with his winning eloquence, 1 Co 1:12; 3:4,5

and his going there was the occasion of some unhappy divisions that sprung up in the church. But in all this, he retained the confidence and love of Paul, 1 Co 1; 1 Co 3. It was thus shown that Paul was superior to envy, and that great success by one minister need not excite the envy, or alienate the confidence and good-will of another.

Helped them much. Strengthened them, and aided them in their controversies with the unbelieving Jews.

Which had believed through grace. The words "through grace" may refer either to Apollos, or to the Christians who had believed. If to him, it means that he was enable by grace to strengthen the brethren there; if to them, it means that they had been led to believe by the grace or favour of God. Either interpretation makes good sense. Our translation has adopted that which is most natural and obvious.

{a} "helped" 1 Co 3:6

{b} "believed" Eph 2:8

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 18 - Verse 28

Verse 28. For he mightily convinced the Jews. He did it by strong arguments; he bore down all opposition, and effectually silenced them. And that publicly. In his public preaching in the synagogue and elsewhere.

Showing by the Scriptures. Proving from the Old Testament. Showing that Jesus of Nazareth corresponded with the account of the Messiah given by the prophets. See Barnes "Joh 5:39".

That Jesus was Christ. See the margin. That Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah.

{*} "convinced" "earnestly confuted"

{c} "by the Scriptures" Joh 5:39

{1} "Jesus was Christ" "is the Christ" Ac 18:5

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