corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.19.10.17
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Acts

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4
Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8
Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12
Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16
Chapter 17 Chapter 18 Chapter 19 Chapter 20
Chapter 21 Chapter 22 Chapter 23 Chapter 24
Chapter 25 Chapter 26 Chapter 27 Chapter 28

Book Overview - Acts

by Charles John Ellicott

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.

The Acts of the Apostles

BY

THE VERY REV. E. H. PLUMPTRE, D.D

INTRODUCTION

TO

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.

I. The Author.—The opening words of the Acts, addressed, like the Gospel of St. Luke, to Theophilus, and referring to a former book, as containing a history of the life and teaching of the Lord Jesus, such as we find in that Gospel, are, at least, primâ facie evidence of identity of authorship. The internal evidence of style, (1) yet more, perhaps, that of character and tendency as shown in the contents of the book, confirm this conclusion. A tradition, going back to the second century, falls in with what has thus been inferred from the book itself. The words of Stephen, “Lay not this sin to their charge,” are quoted in the Epistle of the Churches of Lyons and Vienne to those of Asia and Phrygia (A.D. 177), given by Eusebius (Hist. v. 2). Irenæus and Clement of Alexandria quote from it, the latter citing St. Paul’s speech at Athens (Strom. v. 2); as also does Tertullian (De Jejun. c. 10). The Muratorian Fragment (see Vol. I., p. 13) dwells on its being largely the work of an eye-witness, as seen in its omission of the martyrdom of St. Peter, and St. Paul’s journey to Spain. Eusebius (Hist. iii. 4) ascribes both books to him, in the same terms; and Jerome (De Vir. Illust. c. 8) almost repeats the words of the Fragment: “Luke wrote his Gospel from what he had heard, but the Acts of the Apostles from what he saw.” It will be enough, therefore, as far as the authorship of this book is concerned, to refer for all that is known or conjectured as to the writer to the Introduction to St. Luke. There also will be found all that it is necessary to say as to Theophilus as representing the first readers of the Acts.

II. The Title.—It does not follow that the present title was prefixed to the book by the writer himself. For him, probably, it would only present itself as the “second treatise,” or “book,” which came as a natural sequel to the first. It was not strange, however, especially when the books of the New Testament came to be collected together in a volume, and the “former treatise” took its place side by side with the other Gospels, and was thus parted from its companion, that a distinct title should be given to it. In the title itself the Greek MSS. present considerable variations—“Acts of the Apostles,” “Acts of all the Apostles,” “Acts of the Holy Apostles,” sometimes with the addition of the author’s name, “Written by Luke the Evangelist,” “Written by the Holy and Illustrious Luke, Apostle and Evangelist.” The word “Acts” seems to have been in common use in the first and second centuries after Christ for what we should call “Memoirs” or “Biographies,” and appears conspicuously in the apocryphal literature of the New Testament, as in the Acts of Pilate, the Acts of Peter and Paul, of Philip, of Matthew, of Bartholomew.

III. The Scope of the Book.—It is obvious that the title, whether by the author or by a transcriber, does but imperfectly describe its real nature. It is in no sense a history of the Apostles as a body. The names of the Eleven meet us but once (Acts 1:13). They are mentioned collectively in Acts 2:37; Acts 2:42-43; Acts 4:33-37; Acts 5:2; Acts 5:12; Acts 5:18; Acts 5:29; Acts 6:6; Acts 8:1; Acts 8:14; Acts 8:18; Acts 9:27; Acts 11:1; Acts 15:2; Acts 15:4; Acts 15:6; Acts 15:22-23; Acts 15:33. St. John appears only in Acts 3:1; Acts 4:13; Acts 8:14. Nothing is told us of the individual work of any other. Looking to the contents of the book, it would be better described, if we were to retain the present form at all, as the “Acts of Peter and of Paul,” the former Apostle occupying a prominent place in Acts 1-5, 10-12, 15, the latter being the central figure in Acts 7:58; Acts 7:9; Acts 11:25-30; Acts 13-27. From another point of view a yet more appropriate title would be (using the term in its familiar literary sense) that of the Origines Ecclesiœ—the history of the growth and development of the Church of Christ, and of the mission work of that Church among the Gentiles. The starting-point and the close of the book are in this respect significant. It begins at Jerusalem; it ends at Rome. When it opens, circumcision is required, as well as baptism, of every disciple; the Church of Christ is outwardly but a Jewish sect of some hundred and twenty persons (Acts 1:15). When it ends, every barrier between Jew and Gentile has been broken down, and the Church has become catholic and all-embracing. To trace the stages of that expansion both locally and as affecting the teaching of the Church is the dominant purpose of the book. The “acts” of those who were not concerned in it at all, or played but a subordinate part in it, are, we may venture to say, deliberately passed over. Some principle of selection is clearly involved in the structure of such a book as that now before us, and even without going beyond the four corners of the book itself, we may safely affirm that the main purpose of the writer was to inform a Gentile convert of Rome how the gospel had been brought to him, and how it had gained the width and freedom with which it was actually presented.

IV. Its Relation to the Gospel of St. Luke.—The view thus taken is strengthened by the fact that it presents the Acts of the Apostles as the natural sequel to the Gospel which we have seen sufficient reason to assign to the same writer. For there also, as it has been shown (Vol. I., p. 241), we trace the same principle of selection. It is more than any of the other three a Gospel for the Gentiles, bringing out the universality of the kingdom of God, recording parables and incidents which others had not recorded, because they bore witness that the love of God flowed out beyond the limits of the chosen people on robbers and harlots, on Samaritans and Gentiles. It remained for one who had led his catechumen convert to think thus of the Christ during His ministry on earth, to show that the unseen guidance given by the Christ in Heaven, through the working of the Holy Spirit, was leading it on in the same direction, that, though there had been expansion and development, there had been no interruption of continuity. I have ventured to say (Vol. I., p. 242) that the Gospel of St. Luke might be described as emphatically “the Gospel of the Saintly Life.” The natural sequel to such a Gospel was a record of the work of the Holy Ghost, the Sanctifier. Looking to the prominence given to the work of the Spirit, from the Day of Pentecost onwards, as guiding both the Church collectively and its individual members, it would hardly be over-bold to say that the book might well be called “the Gospel of the Holy Spirit.” At every stage His action is emphatically recognised. Jesus, after His resurrection, had, “through the Holy Ghost, given commandment to the Apostles whom He had chosen” (Acts 1:2). They are to be “baptised with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 1:5), are to “receive power after the Holy Ghost is come upon them” (Acts 1:8). The Holy Ghost had spoken through the mouth of David (Acts 1:16). Then comes the great wonder of the Day of Pentecost, when all the disciples were “filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:4), and spake with tongues, and the prophecy, “I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh” (Acts 2:17), is quoted as on the verge of fulfilment. Jesus has “received from the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:33). Once again all were “filled with the Holy Ghost, and spake the word with boldness” (Acts 4:31). The sin of Ananias is a “lie unto the Holy Ghost” (Acts 5:3). He and his wife have “tempted the Spirit of the Lord” (Acts 5:9). The “Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him,” is a witness that the Christ is exalted at the right hand of God (Acts 5:32). The seven who are chosen in Acts 6 are “full of the Holy Ghost, and of wisdom” (Acts 6:3). Stephen is pre-eminently “full of faith and of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 6:5). His leading charge against priests and scribes is that they “do always resist the Holy Ghost” (Acts 7:51). His vision of the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God is closely connected with his being at the moment “filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 7:55). Peter and John go down to Samaria that those who had been baptised by Philip “might receive the Holy Ghost” (Acts 8:15-17): and the sin of Simon the sorcerer is that he thinks that that gift of God can be purchased with money (Acts 8:18-20). It is the Spirit that impels Philip to join himself to the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:29), and carries him away after his baptism (Acts 8:39). Ananias is to lay his hands on Saul of Tarsus, that he “may be filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 9:17). The churches of Judæa and Galilee and Samaria in their interval of rest are “walking in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 9:31). The admission of the Gentiles is attested when “the gift of the Holy Ghost” is poured out on Cornelius and his friends (Acts 10:44-47), and Peter dwells on that attestation in his address to the Church of Jerusalem (Acts 11:15-17; Acts 15:8). Barnabas, when he is sent to carry on that work among the Gentiles at Antioch, is described, as Stephen had been, as “full of the Holy Ghost and of faith” (Acts 11:24). It is the Holy Ghost who “separates Barnabas and Saul for the work of the ministry,” and they are sent forth by Him (Acts 13:2-4). Saul, roused to indignation by the subtlety of Elymas, is “filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 13:9). It is He who guides the decision of the council assembled at Jerusalem (Acts 15:28), and directs the footsteps of Paul and his companions in their mission journey (Acts 16:6-7). The twelve disciples at Ephesus, baptised before with the baptism of John, “receive the Holy Ghost” when Paul lays his hands on them (Acts 19:6). He it was who witnessed in every city that bonds and imprisonment awaited the Apostle in Jerusalem (Acts 20:23; Acts 21:11). It was the Holy Ghost who had made the elders of Ephesus overseers of the Church of God (Acts 20:28). Well-nigh the last words of the book are those which “the Holy Ghost had spoken by Esaias,” and which St. Paul, in the power of the same Spirit, applies to the Jews of his own time (Acts 28:25).

V. Its Relation to the Controversies of the Time.—I have thought it right to go through this somewhat full induction because it presents an aspect of the book which has hardly been adequately recognised in the critical inquiries to which it has been subjected. But subject to this, as the dominant idea of the Acts of the Apostles, I see nothing to hinder us from recognizing other tendencies and motives, partly as inferred from the book itself, partly as in themselves probable, looking to the circumstances under which it must have been written. An educated convert like Theophilus could hardly have been ignorant of the controversy between St. Paul and the Judaisers, which is so prominent in the Epistle to the Galatians and the Second Epistle to the Corinthians. He would know that the Judaising teachers in the Galatian Church had spoken of the Apostle as a time-server seeking to please men (Galatians 1:10); as having no authority but that which he derived from the Church of Jerusalem (Galatians 1:1; Galatians 1:12; Galatians 1:17; Galatians 1:22); that they used the name of James in support of their exaggerated rigour, and worked upon the mind even of Peter, so as to lead him to, at least, a temporary inconsistency (Galatians 2:11-13); that others of the same school had appeared at Corinth, boasting of their “letters of commendation” (2 Corinthians 3:1); taunting the Apostle with his “bodily presence weak, and speech contemptible” (2 Corinthians 10:10); speaking of him as a “fool” and madman (2 Corinthians 11:16); arrogating to themselves something like an ultra-apostolic authority (2 Corinthians 11:4); boasting that they were Hebrews and ministers of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:22). The language of Romans 14 shows that disputes analogous in their nature had sprung up at Rome even before St. Paul’s arrival; differences as to days and meats (Romans 14:2-6); connected with the very question of eating “things sacrificed to idols,” which had given occasion to one of the canons of the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:20; Acts 15:29) proposed by James, the bishop of that Church, and which had been discussed fully in the Epistle which St. Paul addressed to the Church of Corinth, at a time when its numbers were largely made up of Roman Christians (1 Corinthians 8-10). These facts were patent to any one who had any knowledge of St. Paul’s work. If Theophilus were, as is probable, an Italian, probably even a Roman, convert (see Introduction to St. Luke’s Gospel, Vol. I., p. 241), they would be forced upon his notice.

There are, however, other materials for estimating the attitude of the Judaising party towards St. Paul, and the language they habitually used in reference to him. I do not assume that the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies, Recognitions, and Epistles are of an earlier date than the second century, but it is a legitimate inference that they represent the traditions of the party from which they emanated, and they help us to fill up the outline which has been already sketched. In them, accordingly, we find James, the bishop of Jerusalem, as the centre of all church authority, the “lord and bishop of the holy Church” (Epist. of Peter, c. 1), the “archbishop” (Recogn. c. i. 73). Peter complains that “some among the Gentiles have rejected his preaching, which is according to the Law, and have followed the lawless and insane preaching of the man who is his enemy” (ibid. c. 2. Comp. Galatians 4:16). He complains that he has been misrepresented as agreeing with that “enemy” (ibid.). James declares that circumcision is an essential condition of discipleship (ibid. c. 4). Under cover of the legendary disputes between Peter and Simon the Sorcerer, the personal discipleship of the former is contrasted with that of one who has only heard the doctrine of Jesus through a vision or a dream (Hom. Clem. xvii., c. 14. Comp. Acts 9:3; Acts 9:17; Acts 18:9; Acts 22:18; Acts 23:11; 2 Corinthians 12:1), and it is suggested that one who trusts in those visions and revelations may have been deceived by a demon (ibid. xvii., c. 16). Barnabas is named with praise (ibid. i., c. 9), but the name of Paul is systematically ignored. The opposition to Peter at Antioch, of which we read in Galatians 2:1-14, is represented as the work of the sorcerer (Recogn. x., c. 54). Almost the only direct reference to the Apostle of the Gentiles is an allusion to the “enemy” who had received a commission from Caiaphas to go to Damascus and make havoc of the faithful (Recogn. i., c. 71), and the fact that the “enemy” afterwards preached the faith which he had once destroyed is kept out of sight. With the strange confusion of chronology characteristic of this apocryphal literature, the “enemy” is represented as entering the Temple, disputing with James, attacking him with violence and throwing him down the Temple stairs, so that he lay there as dead (Recogn. i., c. 70).

Representations such as these might be met in two different ways. St. Paul, in the manly indignation of his spirit against such misrepresentations, met them, as in the Epistle to the Galatians, by asserting his entire independence of the Church at Jerusalem (Galatians 1:1-12), by showing that they had learnt from him, not he from them, the fulness and freedom of the gospel which he preached (Galatians 2:2); that the chief leaders of that Church had given to him and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship in their work among the Gentiles (Galatians 2:9); that he had not given way by subjection, no, not for an hour, to the Judaising Pharisee section of the Church (Galatians 2:4-5); that he had not shrunk from rebuking, with the general approval of the Church at Antioch, the inconsistency of Peter and of Barnabas (Galatians 2:11-14). He meets them also, as in 2 Corinthians 11:13-27, by challenging a comparison between his own life and that of his antagonists. St. Luke thought it wise, in writing to a Gentile convert, to lay stress on the fact that the history of the Church of Jerusalem, truly stated, was against the policy and the claims of the Judaisers, that the Apostle of the Gentiles in his turn had shown every disposition to conciliate the feelings of the Jews. With this view, he records the fact that charges like those which were brought against St. Paul had been brought also against the martyr Stephen (Acts 6:14); that the Apostle had been admitted into the Church of Christ by a disciple devout according to the Law (Acts 9:10; Acts 22:12); that he had been received, after the first natural suspicion had been removed by the testimony of Barnabas, by the Apostles at Jerusalem (Acts 9:27); that it had been given to Peter to be, perhaps, the first to act on the essential principle of St. Paul’s gospel, and to throw open the doors of the Church to the uncircumcised Gentiles (Acts 10; Acts 11:1-13); that he and the Church of Jerusalem had sent Barnabas to carry on that work at Antioch (Acts 11:22); that St. Paul had always addressed himself to the Jews whenever there were any to listen to his preaching (Acts 13:5; Acts 13:14; Acts 14:1; Acts 17:2; Acts 17:17; Acts 18:4; Acts 19:8); that he had lost no opportunity of renewing his friendly intercourse with the Church of Jerusalem (Acts 15:2; Acts 18:22; Acts 21:15); and that James, the bishop of that Church, had throughout received him as a beloved brother (Acts 15:4; Acts 15:25-26); that he had shown his willingness to conciliate the Jewish section of the Church by circumcising Timotheus (Acts 16:3), and by his taking on himself the vow of a Nazarite (Acts 18:18; Acts 21:26); and, lastly, that the Council of Jerusalem had solemnly formulated a concordat by which the freedom of the Gentiles was secured (Acts 15:23-29).

A principle of selection such as this is naturally open to the charge that has been pressed by unfriendly critics, that it tends to lead the writer to exaggerate the harmony between the two parties whom it seeks to reconcile; and stress has been laid on the omission of the dispute between Paul and Peter at Antioch (Galatians 2:14), as showing that with this view he slurred over what was an important fact in the history which he undertakes to write. It may fairly be urged, however, on the other side, that there is absolutely no evidence that he was acquainted with that fact. As far as we can gather from his narrative, he was not at Antioch at the time. It was an incident on which St. Paul would naturally be reticent, unless forced to allude to it, as in writing to the Galatians, in vindicating his own independence. And even if he did know it, was this passing, momentary difference of sufficient importance to find a place in a brief compendium of the history of St. Paul’s work? Would the writer of a school history of England during the last fifty years feel bound, in tracing the action of the Conservative or Liberal party as a whole, to notice a single passage at arms, in which sharp words were spoken, in debate in cabinet or Parliament, between two of its leaders? Would a writer of English Church History during the same period think it an indispensable duty to record such a difference as that which showed itself between Bishop Thirlwall and Bishop Selwyn in the Pan-Anglican Conference of 1867? That he did not shrink from recording a personal dispute when important consequences were involved is shown by his treatment of the quarrel between Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:37-40).

VI. Its Evidential Value.—(1) In relation to the Gospels. Had the Acts of the Apostles presented itself as an entirely independent book, its evidence as to the main facts of the Gospel history would obviously have been of the highest value. It assumes those facts throughout as well known. The main work of the Apostles is to bear witness of the resurrection (Acts 4:33). Jesus of Nazareth had been “approved of God by miracles, and wonders, and signs” (Acts 2:22). Against Him “Herod and Pontius Pilate had been gathered together” (Acts 4:27). God had “anointed Him with the Holy Ghost and with power;” and He “went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil, beginning from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached” (Acts 10:37-38). It is obvious, however, that it does not present itself as independent. It looks back to a former book, and that former book is the Gospel according to St. Luke. “It was natural,” it has been said, “that the writer should thus take for granted what he had thus himself recorded. You cannot, in such a case, cite the second volume to bear witness to the veracity of the first.” Admitting this, however—as in all fairness it must be admitted—the Acts present evidence, as has been already pointed out (Vol. I., p. xxxi.), of another kind. If they are shown, by the numerous coincidences which they present with the writings of St. Paul (see infra), by their occasional use of the first personal pronoun (Acts 16:10-15; Acts 20:5; Acts 21:17; Acts 27:1; Acts 28:16), by their stopping at St. Paul’s imprisonment at Rome, instead of going on to the close of his work and life, to be, on any fair estimate of circumstantial evidence, the work of a contemporary, and to have been written before St. Paul’s death, in A.D. 65 or 66, then it follows that the Gospel from the pen of the same author must have been of even earlier date. The reference to the “many” who had “taken in hand” to set forth a narrative of the gospel (Luke 1:1) connects itself with the quotation from “the words of the Lord Jesus” in Acts 20:35, as showing that there was not only a widely diffused oral tradition of the facts of the Gospel history (such as that implied in 1 Corinthians 11:23-25; 1 Corinthians 15:3-7), but that there was also a fairly copious Gospel literature, presenting materials for future editors and compilers. But we may go yet further. It has often been urged, as against the early date of the Gospels in their present form, that they have left so few traces of themselves in the early history and the early writings of the Church. It has been already shown (Vol. I., pp. 27-31) that, as far as the Epistles of the New Testament are concerned, those traces are far from few; but it may be admitted that they do not refer, as we might, perhaps, have expected them to refer, to any individual miracles, or parables, or discourses of our Lord. The same holds good of the Apostolic fathers; and it is not till we come to Justin Martyr that we get any such frequency of citation as to make it certain that he had one of our first three Gospels, or another resembling them, in his hands. (See Vol. I., p. xxvii.) Well, be it so; but here we have a work with the same absence of citation, the same vague generalisation in its reference to the outlines only of the Gospel history; and of this book, whatever view may be taken of its date, it is absolutely certain that the writer knew that history in all its fulness. Had the Acts come down to us without the Gospel of St. Luke, its reticence, and vagueness also, might have been urged as against the credibility of the narratives of the Gospels that bear the names of St. Matthew and St. Mark. As it is, it shows that that reticence and vagueness may be compatible with a full and intimate knowledge of the facts so narrated.

(2) In relation to the Epistles of St. Paul. Here, as Paley has well put the argument in the opening of his Horœ Paulinœ, the case is different. We have a book purporting to be by a contemporary of St. Paul’s. We have thirteen or fourteen documents purporting to be Epistles from him. There is not the shadow of a trace in the Epistles that the writer had read the Acts, or even knew of the existence of the book. There is not the shadow of a trace in the Acts of the Apostles that the writer had read the Epistles, or even knew of their existence. He not only does not compile from them nor allude to them, but he does not even record, as might have been expected, the fact that they had been written. He omits facts which we find in them, and which would have been important as materials for his history. Whatever coincidences the two may present are conspicuously undesigned. So far as they do agree and throw light upon each other, they supply a reciprocal testimony each to the trustworthiness of the other.

The coincidences which thus present themselves are dealt with in the Notes in this Commentary on the Acts and the Epistles, and to state them with any fulness here would be to re-write the Horœ Paulinœ with numerous additions. It will, however, it is believed, be of some advantage to the student to have at least the more important of these coincidences brought under his notice in such a form as to admit of examination without turning to other books, and the following table has accordingly been drawn up with that view. It has been thought expedient to present them as they occur in the Epistles of St. Paul, and to take those Epistles in their chronological order.

1 Thessalonians 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 3:4

St. Paul’s sufferings at Philippi

Acts 16:22-23.

1 Thessalonians 3:4

St. Paul’s sufferings at Thessalonica

Acts 17:5.

1 Thessalonians 2:18; 1 Thessalonians 3:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:6-7

St. Paul left at Athens alone

Acts 17:16.

1 Thessalonians 2:14

Sufferings of the Thessalonians from their own countrymen

Acts 17:5.

1 Thessalonians 1:9

Thessalonian converts turning from idols

Acts 17:4.

1 Thessalonians 2:9-10; 1 Thessalonians 4:11

St. Paul’s precept and practice in working

Acts 18:3.

1 Corinthians 2:1; 1 Corinthians 4:19; 1 Corinthians 16:5

St. Paul’s two visits to Corinth

Acts 18:1; Acts 20:2.

1 Corinthians 15:32

Fighting with wild beasts at Ephesus

Acts 19:29-30.

1 Corinthians 16:19

“Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord”

Acts 18:18; Acts 18:20.

1 Corinthians 16:9

The “effectual door” opened at Ephesus

Acts 19:20; Acts 19:26.

The many adversaries

Acts 19:9; Acts 19:28.

1 Corinthians 4:17-19

Timotheus sent to Corinth from Ephesus

Acts 19:21-22.

1 Corinthians 16:10-11

St. Paul’s doubt as to arrival of Timotheus

Acts 19:22.

1 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 3:6

Work of Apollos at Corinth

Acts 18:27-28.

1 Corinthians 4:11-12

St. Paul’s working for his bread at Ephesus

Acts 20:34

1 Corinthians 9:20

St. Paul’s becoming to Jews as a Jew

Acts 16:3; Acts 18:18; Acts 21:23-26.

1 Corinthians 1:14-17

Baptism of Crispus and Gains

Acts 18:8.

1 Corinthians 16:1

Collection for the saints in Galatia

Acts 18:23.

1 Corinthians 5:7-8

Allusion to the Passover

1 Corinthians 16:8

“Tarrying at Ephesus till Pentecost”

Acts 19:22; Acts 20:3.

1 Corinthians 1:1

Sosthenes with St. Paul

Acts 18:12-17.

1 Corinthians 16:6

St. Paul’s wintering at Corinth

Acts 20:3; Acts 20:6.

1 Corinthians 16:5

St. Paul’s journey through Macedonia

Acts 20:1.

2 Corinthians 1:16; 2 Corinthians 2:13

St. Paul’s journey through Macedonia

Acts 20:1.

2 Corinthians 11:32-33

St. Paul’s escape from Damascus

Acts 9:23-25.

2 Corinthians 1:8

The trouble that came on him in Asia

Acts 19:29-30.

2 Corinthians 11:9

Supplies from the brethren from Macedonia

Acts 18:1; Acts 18:5.

2 Corinthians 1:19

Silvanus and Timotheus as St. Paul’s fellow workers at Corinth

Acts 18:5.

2 Corinthians 11:25

“Once was I stoned”

Acts 14:19.

2 Corinthians 3:1

Letters of commendation

Acts 18:27.

2 Corinthians 10:14-16

Corinth as then the limit of St. Paul’s labours

Acts 18:18.

Galatians 1:17-18

His visit to St. Peter and James the Lord’s brother, after his conversion

Acts 9:28.

Galatians 2:1

The journey with Barnabas to Jerusalem

Acts 15:2.

Galatians 2:13

Barnabas with St. Paul at Antioch

Acts 15:35-37.

Galatians 5:11

Persecutions from the Jews

Acts 13:49; Acts 14:1-19; Acts 17:4-13; Acts 18:12.

Galatians 1:18

The shortness of the first visit to Jerusalem

Acts 22:18.

Galatians 2:9

The authority of James, the brother of the Lord

Acts 12:17; Acts 15:13; Acts 21:18.

Romans 15:25-26

St. Paul’s journey to Jerusalem

Acts 20:6; Acts 24:17.

Romans 16:21-23

Salutations from Sosipater, Timotheus, and Gains

Acts 20:4.

Romans 16:3

Aquila and Priscilla at Corinth and Rome

Acts 18:2.

Romans 16:27

Phœbe of Cenchreæ

Acts 18:18.

Romans 1:13; Romans 15:23

St. Paul’s desire to visit Rome

Acts 19:21.

Romans 15:19

The gospel preached in Illyricum

Acts 20:2.

Romans 15:30

Apprehension of coming danger

Acts 20:22-23.

Philippians 2:19

Timotheus known to the Philippians

Acts 16:4; Acts 17:14.

Philippians 1:29-30; Philippians 2:1-2

St. Paul’s sufferings at Philippi

Acts 16:22.

Philippians 4:2-3

Euodia, Syntyche, and the other women at Philippi

Acts 16:13.

Ephesians 6:21

Tychicus as known to the Ephesians

Acts 20:4.

Ephesians 6:19-20

St. Paul as an ambassador in a chain

Acts 28:16-20.

Colossians 4:10

Mark as sister’s son (better, cousin) to Barnabas

Acts 15:37-40; Acts 12:12.

Aristarchus, St. Paul’s fellow-prisoner

Acts 19:29; Acts 27:2.

1 Timothy 5:9

Provision for the maintenance of widows

Acts 6:1.

1 Timothy 1:13-16

The persecutor converted

Acts 8:3; Acts 9:1-10.

1 Timothy 1:6-7; 1 Timothy 4:1-4

State of the Church at Ephesus

Acts 20:29-30.

Titus 3:13

Apollos in Crete

Acts 18:24.

2 Timothy 1:16

Onesiphorus and St. Paul’s chain

Acts 28:20.

2 Timothy 4:20

Trophimus left at Miletus

Acts 20:4.

2 Timothy 1:4-5

The mother of Timotheus

Acts 16:1.

2 Timothy 3:15

His education in the Holy Scriptures

Acts 16:2.

2 Timothy 3:10-11

Persecutions at Antioch, Iconium, Lystra

Acts 13, 14

2 Timothy 4:11

Mark profitable in ministering

Acts 13:5.

2 Timothy 4:14

Alexander the coppersmith

Acts 19:33.

It ought to be stated that the comparison of the Acts and the Pauline Epistles brings to light also some real or apparent difficulties. Of these the most conspicuous are:—

(1) The omission in Acts 9:19-23 of the journey to Arabia mentioned in Galatians 1:17.

(2) The omission in Galatians 2:1-10 of any notice of the journey to Jerusalem in Acts 11:30, or of the decrees of the council of Apostles and elders in Acts 15

(3) The omission in the Acts of any record of the dispute between St. Peter and St. Paul at Antioch (Galatians 2:11).

These are examined in detail in the Notes on the several passages connected with them.

This method of inquiry may be extended, with similar results, to the Epistle to the Hebrews, and to the two Epistles of St. Peter. It is in the account of Apollos, in Acts 18:24-28, that we get what many critics since Luther’s time have looked upon as the only satisfactory explanation of the phenomena presented by the first of these Epistles. Assuming the authorship of Apollos as at least a probable hypothesis, the spiritual condition described in Hebrews 5:11; Hebrews 6:2, as that of some of those who had been under the teaching of the writer, may be compared with that of the twelve disciples at Ephesus who knew only the baptism of John (Acts 19:1-7). In the reference to the “saints of Italy” in Hebrews 13:24—apparently as distinct from Roman Christians—we may, perhaps, see a reference to the Church of Puteoli, the only Italian town, besides Rome, mentioned in the Acts as containing “brethren” (Acts 28:14).

I note, further, a few coincidences of some interest between the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles of St. Peter:—

1 Peter 1:11

The tone in which prophecy is spoken of, as compared with

Acts 2:16-17; Acts 2:30-31.

1 Peter 1:17

God no respecter of persons

Acts 10:34.

1 Peter 1:22

Purity by faith and obedience

Acts 15:9.

1 Peter 2:7

The stone which the builders rejected

Acts 4:11.

1 Peter 4:16

The name of Christian

Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28.

1 Peter 5:12

Mention of Silvanus as accounting for St. Peter’s knowledge of St. Paul’s Epistles (2 Peter 3:15)

Acts 15:32; Acts 15:40.

1 Peter 5:13

“Marcus my son”

Acts 12:12.

(3) In relation to External History.—It is obvious that the Acts of the Apostles take a wider range, both in space and time, than any other narrative book of the New Testament. They cover a period of more than thirty years. The scene is shifted from Jerusalem to Samaria, Cæsarea, Damascus, Antioch, Cyprus, Asia Minor, Greece, and finally ends in Italy. The writer is constantly brought across some of the events of contemporary history, and the scenes which earlier or later travellers have described. Does he show himself in these respects an accurate observer, faithful in his reports, correct in his language? Does he fall into the blunders which would be natural in a man writing a fictitious narrative a century or so after the events which he professes to relate? For a full answer to these questions the reader is referred to the Notes that follow; but it may be well to indicate briefly some of the more important of these points of contact with the contemporary history of the outer world.

Acts 5:37.

Judas of Galilee.

Acts 6:9.

The synagogue of the Libertines.

Acts 8:9.

Simon the sorcerer.

Acts 8:27.

Candace, queen of the Ethiopians.

Acts 9:36.

Dorcas.

Acts 10:1.

The centurion of the Italian band.

Acts 11:26.

The name of Christian at Antioch.

Acts 11:28.

The famine under Claudius.

Acts 12:23.

Death of Herod Agrippa I.

Acts 13:7.

Sergius Paulus of Cyprus.

Acts 14:11.

Paul and Barnabas taken for Zeus and Hermes.

Acts 16:12.

Philippi a colonia.

Acts 16:14.

The purple-seller of Thyatira.

Acts 16:16.

The damsel with a Python spirit.

Acts 16:22.

The strategi of Philippi.

Acts 16:37.

St. Paul’s Roman citizenship,

Acts 17:6.

The politarchs of Thessalonica.

Acts 17:19.

The court of the Areopagus.

Acts 17:21.

Character of the Athenians.

Acts 17:28.

Quotation from Aratus.

Acts 18:2.

Jews banished from Rome by Claudius.

Acts 18:12.

Gallio pro-consul of Achaia.

Acts 19:9.

The school of Tyrannus.

Acts 19:24.

The silver shrines of Artemis.

Acts 19:27-29.

The temple and theatre at Ephesus.

Acts 19:31-35.

The Asiarchs and town-clerk of Ephesus.

Acts 19:38-39.

The pro-consuls and the lawful assembly.

Acts 21:38.

The Egyptian rebel.

Acts 22:28.

St. Paul’s Roman citizenship.

Acts 23:2.

The high priest Ananias.

Acts 23:24.

Felix the governor.

Acts 24:24.

Drusilla.

Acts 24:27.

Porcius Festus.

Acts 25:13.

Agrippa and Bernice.

Acts 25:11.

Appeal to Cæsar.

Acts 27

The details of the narrative throughout.

Acts 28:7.

The “chief man” of Melita.

Acts 28:15.

Appii Forum and the Three Taverns.

Under this head also it is right to notice that which appears to make against, rather than for, the credibility of the narrative, and I accordingly name the chronological difficulty connected with the name of Theudas in Gamaliel’s speech (Acts 5:36).

(4) Internal Evidence of Credibility.—The internal consistency of any book is not necessarily evidence of more than the skill of the writer. Every writer of fiction aims more or less at producing the impression of verisimilitude by touches that have the effect of coincidences between one part of the narrative and another; and the art that conceals art will produce, according to the skill of the author, the impression that the coincidences are undesigned. On the other hand, we feel, as we read some stories, that they contain, in the naturalness of their style, the absence of any sensational dove-tailing of incidents, primâ facie testimony to their own veracity. And it is submitted to the reader whether instances such as the following may not fairly claim consideration, as coming under the latter category rather than the former.

(1) Hostility of the high priests, as Sadducees, to the preaching of the resurrection (Acts 4:1-2; Acts 5:17).

(2) Barnabas of Cyprus going twice to his own country (Acts 4:36; Acts 13:4; Acts 15:39).

(3) The complaints of the Hellenistae (Grecians), leading to the election of seven men with Greek names (Acts 6:1-5).

(4) The Cilicians disputing with Stephen (Acts 6:9). The young man named Saul (Acts 7:58); afterwards described as of Tarsus (Acts 9:11).

(5) Philip’s arrival at Cæsarea (Acts 8:40). No further mention of him till we find him again at Cæsarea (Acts 21:8).

(6) Mark’s return to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13) explained by his mother’s being there (Acts 12:12) and the pressure of the famine (Acts 11:28).

(7) Agabus prophesying the famine (Acts 11:28); again appearing in the character of a prophet sixteen years later (Acts 21:10).

(8) The speech of Lycaonia as accounting for the surprise of Paul and Barnabas at the preparations for sacrifice (Acts 14:11-14).

(9) Conversion of Samaritans (Acts 8:14). Incidental mention of the brethren in Samaria (Acts 15:3).

(10) Men of Cyprus and Cyrene found the Church at Antioch (Acts 11:20). Barnabas of Cyprus sent to carry on the work (Acts 11:22). Lucius of Cyrene among the prophets of the Church (Acts 13:1).

(11) Philippi a colonia (Acts 16:12). Philippians speak of themselves as Romans (Acts 16:21).

(12) Trophimus the Ephesian (Acts 21:29) recognised by Jews of Asia, i.e., from Ephesus and its neighbourhood.

VII. Sources of the History.—It will be assumed here that the use of the first person in parts of the history implies that the writer was then the companion of the Apostle whose labours he records. We have seen, in the Introduction to St. Luke, how far the facts that are thus implied brought the writer into contact with persons who could give him trustworthy information as to what he relates in his Gospel; it remains to be seen how far they point to the probable sources of his knowledge as to the events recorded in the Acts.

Acts 1-5. Philip the Evangelist (Acts 21:8-10), or Mnason of Cyprus (Acts 21:16), or others—and, in particular, the “women” of Luke 8:2—at Jerusalem.

Acts 6, 7. Philip or St. Paul.

Acts 8. Philip.

Acts 9. St. Paul.

Acts 10-11. 18. Philip.

Acts 11:19-30. St. Paul, or, probably, personal knowledge gained at Antioch.

Acts 12:1-19. John surnamed Mark (Colossians 4:10-14).

Acts 13:1-13. St. Paul, or Mark, or Mnason of Cyprus.

Acts 13:14-52; Acts 14. St. Paul; or, possibly, knowledge gained by Luke in person on his journey to Troas, or afterwards from Timotheus.

Acts 15, Acts 16:1-7. St. Paul, or, probably, personal knowledge, as staying at Antioch, and, possibly, going up to Jerusalem.

Acts 16:8-40. Personal knowledge.

Acts 17, 18. Probable communications from the brethren who came from Philippi to Thessalonica (Philippians 4:16), and again to Corinth (2 Corinthians 11:9). General intercourse between the Romans of Philippi and the Roman Jews at Corinth.

Acts 19. St. Paul; or possibly Aristarchus and Gaius of Macedonia, or Tyrannus.

Acts 20-28. Personal knowledge.

Looking to the manner in which the Gospel begins with what has the character of a distinct document, so strongly marked by Hebraisms that it could scarcely have been written by a Greek writer, it is probable that the first five chapters of the Acts may, in like manner, have been incorporated from an earlier document, recording, like the later history of Hegesippus, the history of the Church of Jerusalem with a special fulness. It will, at any rate, be clear that at every step in the narrative we are able, in the Acts, as in the Gospel of the same writer, to point with a very high degree of probability to those who here also were “eye-witnesses and ministers of the Word” (Luke 1:2).

VIII. Its Bearing on the Mission - work, Organisation, and Worship of the Church.—(1) Mission-work. It will not, it is believed, be unprofitable to look at the records of the Acts of the Apostles as presenting the type and pattern for all future labours in the work of evangelising the world. It is obvious that the preaching of the Apostles is something very different from that of those who offer to men’s acceptance simply a lofty ideal of virtue or high-toned ethical precepts. The central fact of all their teaching is the resurrection of Christ (Acts 2:32-33; Acts 4:10; Acts 10:40-41; Acts 13:32-37; Acts 17:31; Acts 26:23). Upon that proclamation of a fact in the past they build their assurance that He will come again as the Judge of the living and the dead (Acts 3:21; Acts 10:42; Acts 17:31); that in the meantime He calls men to repent and believe in Him (Acts 2:38; Acts 5:31; Acts 10:43; Acts 13:38-39; Acts 14:15; Acts 17:30-31); and that thus they may receive remission of their sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38; Acts 8:15; Acts 10:45; Acts 19:2). They are naturally brought into contact, as they preach this gospel, with men of very different habits of thought, varying in their training, their knowledge, and their culture; and they adapt themselves, as far as lies in their power, to all these variations in their hearers. With the Jews of Jerusalem, Antioch in Pisidia, Corinth, and Rome, they draw their arguments almost exclusively from the correspondence between the acts and death and resurrection of Jesus with what had been written in the Law and Prophets as pointing to the coming Christ (Acts 2:14-36; Acts 3:19-26; Acts 7:2-53; Acts 13:17-41; Acts 28:23). With peasants, such as those at Lystra, they lay their foundation on what we should call the broad lines of a simple natural theology, and appeal to the goodness of God as manifested in the order of nature, in rain from heaven and fruitful seasons (Acts 14:15-17). With the Stoics and Epicureans of Athens, St. Paul (he alone, it may be, of the glorious company of the Apostles was fitted for that work) rises to the level of the occasion, and meets the thinkers on their own grounds, appeals to the witness of their own poets, and sets before them what we have ventured to call the outlines of a philosophy at once of worship and of human history (Acts 17:22-31).

And it may be noted how carefully in all these cases the preachers abstain from the weapons of terror and of ridicule which men have sometimes used in dealing with the heathen whom they were seeking to convert. There are no statements that the world outside the range of the gospel was sentenced to hopeless condemnation—that the forefathers of those to whom they preached were for ever in the dark prison of Gehenna. They recognised, on the contrary, that in every nation he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted with Him. (See Note on Acts 10:35). They speak of the times of ignorance which God “winked at” (Acts 17:30). They are no “blasphemers” even of the worship which they are seeking to supplant (Acts 19:37). They present the gospel to men’s minds as realising at once the conscious prophecies of Israel and the unconscious prophecies of heathenism. They come, it is true, with some weapons in which modern missionaries are wanting. They claim to work signs and wonders as attestations of their divine mission (Acts 3:6-7; Acts 5:15; Acts 6:8; Acts 8:13; Acts 9:34-40; Acts 14:10; Acts 19:12; Acts 28:5-8); but they lay far less stress on these than on the “demonstration of the Spirit”—the prophecy that reveals the secrets of the heart, the conscious experience of the power of that Spirit to give a new peace and a new purity to souls that had been alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that was in them (Acts 2:38-39; Acts 11:17-18; Romans 8:23-26; 1 Corinthians 2:4).

(2) Organisation and Worship. And, it may be noted further, they do not rest satisfied with the conversion of individuals as such, nor with leaving with each believer a book or a rule of life for his own personal guidance. Everywhere they seek to organise a society: the “brethren,” the “disciples,” the “saints,” are formed into a church—i.e., an ecclesia, or congregation; and that society receives a distinct and definite constitution. Elders, otherwise known as bishops (Acts 20:28; Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:5; Titus 1:7), are appointed in every city (Acts 11:30; Acts 14:23; Acts 20:17), to teach, and preside in worship, and administer the discipline and laws of the congregation. There are ministers or deacons under them, who assist in baptising, in the subordinate offices of worship, in the relief of the sick and poor, and, if they have special gifts, in preaching the gospel to Jews and heathen, and teaching converts also (Acts 6:3-6; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:8). The Apostles appoint both elders and deacons, with the consent—and therefore the implied right of veto—of the congregation, and exercise over them an authority analogous to that of the later bishops (Acts 14:23; Acts 20:17). There is an organisation of the charity of the Church on the basis of systematic almsgiving; and the Apostles, and, in their absence, the bishop-elders of the Church, act, where necessary, with the help of others as representing the laity of the Church, as treasurers and almoners (Acts 4:37; Acts 5:2). The disciples meet to break bread, as their Lord had commanded, on the evening of every day; afterwards, as the Church included men of various classes and employments, on that of the first day of the week—probably, i.e., on Saturday evening (Acts 2:46; Acts 20:7); and the history of the institution of what came to be known as the Supper of the Lord formed the centre of the celebration of that feast (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). The feast itself was preceded by a solemn blessing, and closed with a solemn thanksgiving. Psalms, hymns, and unpremeditated bursts of praise, chanted in the power of the Spirit, such as those of the gift of tongues, were the chief elements of the service (Acts 4:24-30; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). The right of utterance was not denied to any man (women even seem at first to have been admitted to the same right; Acts 21:9; 1 Corinthians 11:5) who possessed the necessary gifts (1 Corinthians 14:26-33) and was ready to submit them to the control of the presiding elder or Apostle. There were in the unwritten traditions of the Church; in its oral teaching as to our Lord’s life and teaching (1 Corinthians 11:23; 1 Corinthians 15:1-8); as in its rules of discipline and worship (2 Thessalonians 2:15; 2 Thessalonians 3:6); in the “faithful sayings” which were received as axioms of its faith (1 Timothy 1:15; 1 Timothy 4:9; 2 Timothy 2:11; Titus 3:8), the germs at once of the creeds, the canons, the liturgies, the systematic theology of the future. It is, lastly, instructive and suggestive to note that throughout the history there is no record of any effort to set apart a separate place of worship for the members of the new society. They meet in private houses (Acts 2:46; Acts 20:8; Romans 16:5; Romans 16:15; Romans 16:23; 1 Corinthians 16:19), or in a hired class-room (Acts 19:9), as opportunities present themselves. There would apparently have been no difficulty in their claiming the privilege which Roman rulers conceded freely to other Jews and proselytes, of erecting a synagogue of their own; but they left this to come in due course afterwards. Their own work was of a different and higher kind. They were anxious rather to found and edify the society which, as built of “living stones,” was to be the temple of the living God, than, in the modern sense of the term, to be the builders of churches.

IX. Its Bearing on the Church History of the Future.—Nor is the record which we owe to St. Luke less instructive considered as the first volume of the history of Christendom. Fairly considered, while it brings before us the picture of primitive Christianity as a pattern to be followed in its essential features, it is as far as possible from presenting it as a golden age of unalloyed and unapproachable perfection. It tells us of men who were of like passions with ourselves, not free from the bitterness of personal quarrels (Acts 15:39), or from controversies in which party was arrayed against party on a question on which each held that it was contending for a vital truth (Acts 15:1-5). It records, as if with an unconscious prevision of future? controversies, how that dispute ended in an amicable compromise, each party making concessions, within certain well-defined limits, to its opponents, neither insisting on what an inexorable logic might have looked on as the necessary conclusion from its premises (Acts 15:23-30). The writer tends, partly by his natural instincts, partly of deliberate purpose, to dwell on the points of agreement between men rather than on their points of difference; to bring out the good which was to be found in men of different degrees of culture and very varied training. Peter, James, Apollos, Paul, are not for him what they were for so many others—leaders of parties, rivals for allegiance. He is able to recognise in each and all men who are ministers of Christ, fitted for the work of that ministry by the gift of the Holy Ghost. And in striking contrast to the martyrologists and other annalists of the Church who followed him, he avoids what we may call the sensational element of history; does not dwell (with the one marked exception of St. Stephen) on the deaths and sufferings of the disciples; understates the work, the hardships, and the perils of the Apostle who is the chief figure in his history; aims rather at presenting the results of the actual contest between the new and the old societies, now favourable and now quite otherwise, than at representing the two as in irreconcilable enmity. There is, so to speak, a hopefulness and healthiness of tone, which contrasts favourably with that of later writers after the sword of systematic persecution had been unsheathed, or even in some measure with that of the later writings of the New Testament, such as the Epistles of St. Peter and the Apocalypse, and which may fairly be allowed some weight as evidence for the early date of its composition.

CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE OF APOSTOLIC HISTORY.

It will, it is believed, be helpful to the reader to have before him something like a general survey of the history of the Apostolic Age, indicating, at least approximately, the probable succession of events, and the relation which they bore to what then occupied the minds of men as the prominent facts in the history of the world in which they lived; and with this view the following Table has been compiled. Where the dates are uncertain, and have therefore been variously placed, the doubt is indicated by a note of interrogation (?).

A.D.

EMPERORS.

APOSTOLIC HISTORY.

CIVIL RULERS.

HIGH PRIESTS.

CONTEMPORARY EVENTS.

A.D.

28

Tiberius, from A.D. 14.

The Day of Pentecost, May (?). (Other dates, varying from A. D. 30-33, have been assigned for this.)

Pontius Pilate, Procurator of Judæa from A.D. 26.

Caiaphas from A.D. 25, son-in-law of Annas, or Ananus.

28

29

29

30

30

31

Death of Sejanus.

31

32

The growth of the Church as described in Acts 2-5. may be referred to this period, but there are no data for going further into detail.

Tiberius at Capreæ. New Sibylline books brought under notice of Senate.

32

33

Drusus, son of Germanicus, starved to death

33

34

Vitellius, Prefect of Syria.

Phœnix reported to have been seen in Egypt.

34

35

Vitellius in Mesopotamia.

35

36

Martyrdom of Stephen (?).

Philo at Alexandria.

36

37

Caligula.

Peter and John in Samaria. Conversion of Saul.

Herod Agrippa I.

Jonathan, son of Ananus.

Aretas in possession of Damascus.

37

38

Conversion of Cornelius. Saul at Damascus.

Theophilus, son of Ananus.

Philo’s mission to Rome.

38

39

Saul at Damascus.

Herod Antipas goes to Rome, and is banished to Gaul. Birth of Lucan.

39

40

Paul at Jerusalem and Tarsus.

Petronius, Prefect of Syria.

Caligula orders his statue to be set up in the Temple of Jerusalem. Philo at Rome.

40

41

Claudius.

Barnabas sent to Antioch. See of Rome founded by St. Peter (??).

Simon Cantheras.

Birth of Titus.

41

42

Paul at Antioch. Disciples called Christians.

Matthias, son of Ananus.

Herod Agrippa made King of Judæa by Claudius.

42

43

Paul and Barnabas go to Jerusalem. The Gospel according to St. Matthew (??).

Elionæus, son of Cantharas.

Claudius conquers Britain.

43

44

Death of James the son of Zebedee. Peter imprisoned.

Cuspius Fadus, Procurator of Judæa.

Death of Herod Agrippa at Cæsarea. Plautius in Britain.

44

45

Paul and Barnabas in Cyprus. Epistle of St. James (?).

Joseph, son of Canis.

Apollonius of Tyana in India and Persia.

45

46

Paul and Barnabas in Pisidia and Lycaonia.

Tiberius Alexander, Procurator of Judæa.

40

47

Paul and Barnabas return to Antioch.

Ventidius Cumanus, Procurator of Judæa.

Ananias, son of Nebedius.

Ludi sœculares at Rome. Plautius returns from Britain.

47

48

Death of Messalina. Claudius under the influence of Narcissus and Pallas.

48

49

Paul’s dispute with Peter (??).

Herod Agrippa II., King of Chalcis.

Herod. Agrippa II. made King of Chalcis. Seneca appointed as Nero’s tutor. Jews banished from Rome.

49

50

Council at Jerusalem. Paul and Barnabas return with Silas to Antioch.

Caractacus captive in Rome. Foundation of Cologne by Agrippina.

50

51

Paul and Silas start on another mission. Paul’s dispute with Peter (?).

Felix, Procurator of Judæa.

Burrus made Prefect of the Praetorian Guards. Astrologers expelled from Italy.

51

52

Paul at Philippi, Thessalonica, Berœa, Athens, Corinth.

Herod. Agrippa II., King of Batanæa and Trachonitis.

Herod Agrippa II. made King of Batanæa and Trachonitis.

52

53

Paul at Corinth. First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians·

Marriage of Nero with Octavia.

53

54

Nero.

Paul’s journey to Ephesus, Cæsarea, Jerusalem, Antioch. Apollos at Ephesus. Dispute with Peter (?).

:

Narcissus put to death by Nero.

54

55

Apollos at Corinth. Paul in Asia.

55

56

Tumult at Ephesus (May). First Epistle to the Corinthians. Paul in Macedonia. Epistle to the Galatians. Second Epistle to the Corinthians.

Tumult in Judæa, headed by the Egyptian of Acts 21:38, Birth of Trajan.

56

57

Paul at Corinth. Epistle to the Romans. Journey to Jerusalem (April, May). Trial before Felix.

Trial of Pomponia Graecina.

57

58

59

Paul at Cæsarea.

Paul at Cæsarea.

Ishmael, son of Phabi.

Poppæa Sabina, Nero’s mistress. Agrippina, Nero’s mother, put to death.

58

59

60

Paul at Cæsarea. Appeal to Cæsar. Voyage to Italy.

Porcius Festus, Procurator of Judæa.

60

61

Paul at Melita. Arrives at Rome (April), Lives in his own house.

Joseph Cabi.

Revolt in Britain, under Boadicea, Queen of the Iceoni. Apollonius of Tyana at the Olympic Games.

61

62

Paul at Borne. Epistle to the Philipplans.

Albinus, Procurator of Judæa.

Ananas.

Burrus dies, and is succeeded by Tigellinus. Persius dies. Josephus at Rome.

62

63

Paul at Rome. Epistles to the Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon. Release. First Epistie of St. Poter.

Jesus, son of Damnæus.

Earthquakes in Asia Minor.

63

64

Paul in Spain (?), Asia (?), Nicopolis (?). First and Second Epistles to Timothy. The Gospel according to St. Luke and Acts of the Apostles (?). Epistle to Titus. Second Epistle of St. Peter.—Jude.

Gessius Florus, Procurator of Judæa.

Great fire at Rome. Persecution of Christians.

64

65

Death of Paul and Peter (?) at Rome. Linus Bishop of Rome (?).

Seneca and Lucan put to death by Nero. Death of Poppæa,

65

66

Epistle to the Hbrews (?). The Gospel according to St. Matthew (?).

Nero in Greece. Apollonius of Tyana ordered to leave Rome. Martial at Rome.

66

67

Death of Peter and Paul (?).The Gospel according to St. Mark. Epistle of St. James (??).

Josephus gains favour with Vespasian after the capture of Jotapata.

67

68

Galba.

St. John in Patmos (?). The Apocalypse (?).

Vespasian takes Jericho.

68

69

Otho. Vitellius. Vespasian.

Death of James, the Bishop of Jerusalem (?).

69

70

Simeon Bishop of Jerusalem; Ignatius of Antioch (?).

The Capitol rebuilt by Vespasian. Jerusalem taken by Titus (Aug. 31). Josephus released.

70

71

Temple of Janus closed. Destruction of the Onias Temple in Egypt. Triumph of Titus and Vespasian.

71

72

72

73

73

74

Berenice at Rome with Vespasian and Titus. Philosophers banished from Rome.

74

75

76

Temple of Peace at Rome dedicated by Vespasian.

Coliseum begun. Birth of Hadrian.

75

76

77

77

78

Cletus Bishop of Rome (?).

Britain conquered by Agrícola.

78

79

Titus.

Pompeii and Herculaneum destroyed. Death of Pliny the Elder.

79

80

Epistle of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians (??)

Coliseum finished. Pestilence and fire at Rome. Baths of Titus built.

80

81

Domitian,

81

82

82

83

Domitian banishes all philosophers from Rome.

83

84

Agricola in Caledonia.

84

85

85

80

Antoninus Pius born.

86

87

87

88

Quintilian at Rome from A.D. 68

88

89

89

90

Philosophers again banished from Rome, Epictetus among them.

90

91

Clement Bishop of Rome.

91

92

92

93

St. John thrown into boiling oil before the Latin Gate (??).

Death of Agricola and Josephus.

93

94

Juvenal banished.

94

95

Epistle of Clement (?). The Apocalypse (??). Flavius Clemens put to death. Domitilla banished.

Grandsons of the brethren of the Lord brought before Domitian.

95

96

Nerva.

The three Epistles of St. John (?).

96

97

The Gospel according to St. John (?).

Death of Apollonius of Tyana.

97

98

Trajan.

Cerdon Bishop of Alexandria; Ignatius of Antioch; Simon of Jerusalem.

Pliny and Plutarch in favour with Trajan.

98

99

Death of St. John (?).

99

100

Death of St. John (?).

Pliny’s Panegyric on Trajan. Martial retires to Spain.

100

EXCURSUS ON NOTES TO THE ACTS.

EXCURSUS ON THE LATER YEARS OF ST. PAUL’S LIFE.

And connected with Pomponia there were probably two other converts. The names of Claudia and Pudens are coupled together in the salutation of 2 Timothy 4:21. They are coupled together as husband and wife in the epigrams of Martial. And the Pudens of Martial bears the name of Aulus, and he is married to Claudia, and Claudia is descended from the blue-eyed and fair-haired Britons (Epig. xi. 53). Martial, usually so scurrilous in his jests, treats them both with a marked respect. He writes an epithalamium on their union, and, instead of licentious innuendoes, utters his wishes thus:—

“O Concord, bless their couch for evermore,

Be with them in thy snow-white purity,

Let Venus grant, from out her choicest store,

All gifts that suit their married unity;

When he is old may she be fond and true,

And she in age the charms of youth renew.”

—Epig. iv. 13.

A child is born to them, and he is again ready with his salutations to the father—

“Grant, O ye gods, that she may ever prove

The bliss of mother over girl and boy;

Still gladdened by her pious husband’s love,

And in her children And perpetual joy.”

—Epig. xi. 53.

He jestingly remonstrates with Pudens for objecting to the coarseness of his epigrams—

“You urge me, Pudens, to take pen in hand,

And prune and purge these epigrams of mine;

How much thou lov’st them now I understand,

When thou would’st have each quip a faultless line.”

—Epig. vii. 11.

He has been ill while Pudens was absent in the north, and has sighed for his presence—

“Yea, all but snatched where flow the gloomy streams,

I saw the clouds that shroud the Elysian plain;

Still for thy face I groaned in weary dreams,

And cold lips ‘Pudens, Pudens’ cried in vain.”

—Epig. vi. 58.

The juxtaposition of the two names, and the character thus assigned to those who bore them, justify us, I believe, here also, in spite of some difficulties that have been raised on chronological or other grounds, in identifying them with those whom St. Paul mentions.

The chronological difficulty lies in the fact that Martial, born in Spain, circ. A.D. 40, did not come to Rome till A.D. 66, nor collect his epigrams till A.D. 86. It is clear, however, that the former date, the very year after St. Paul’s death, is certainly not incompatible with his knowing St. Paul’s Claudia and Pudens, and the collected poems may well have ranged over the whole period of his stay in Rome. It is perfectly inconceivable that such a man could have lived in Rome for twenty years without writing epigrams. It may be added that the identification does not assume that Pudens and Claudia were married when St. Paul wrote the Second Epistle to Timothy (A.D. 66), but only that both were then disciples of Christ. If Martial came to Rome in A.D. 66 he might, therefore, have known the young officer before his marriage, and written his congratulatory lines shortly afterwards. The insertion of the name of Linus between Pudens and Claudia is, as far as it goes, against the hypothesis that they were at that period husband and wife.

Further coincidences connect themselves with an inscription discovered in Chichester in A.D. 1723, which runs thus:—

To Neptune and Minerva

This Temple

For the welfare of the Divine (i.e., the Imperial) House,

By the authority of

Tiberius Claudius Cogidubnus

Legate of Augustus (i.e., the Emperor) in Britain,

The Guild of Smiths and those in it

Who minister in sacred things, have

At their own cost dedicated,

The site being given by

Pudens the son of Pudentinus.

It may be well to mention another, though less probable, coujecture, that Claudia was the daughter of Caractacus, who had been brought to Rome, with his wife and children, under Claudius, and that Linus was identical with the Llin who appears in Welsh hagiography as the son of Caractacus (Lewin, St. Paul, ii. 397).

Leaving these interesting, even if they are also precarious, inferences, we pass to the more solid ground of the statements in St. Paul’s own writings.

If we accept the PASTORAL EPISTLES as genuine, we are led partly by their style, partly by the difficulty of fitting them into any earlier period of St. Paul’s life, partly by the traces they present of a later stage of development both of truth and error, to assign them to a date subsequent to the two years of the imprisonment of Acts 28:30. This leads, in its turn, to the conclusion that he was released from that imprisonment, and started on a fresh journey. How his release was brought about we do not know. His appeal may have come on for hearing, after the long two years’ delay, and, in the absence of any “respondents appearing, personally or by counsel, against it, have been allowed. This seems, at any rate, more probable than the picture drawn by some writers (Conybeare and Howson, St. Paul, c. xxvii.; Lewin, ii., p. 380) of a formal trial before the emperor, with priests from the Sanhedrin, and Alexander the coppersmith as prosecutor, Jews from Asia as witnesses, and an advocate like Tertullus to conduct the case against him. A curious synchronism, however, suggests the thought that there may have been wheels within wheels, working to bring about this result. Josephus, the Jewish historian, then in his twenty-seventh year, came to Rome about the close of the second year of St. Paul’s confinement. He was shipwrecked, on his voyage, picked up by a ship of Cyrene, landed at Puteoli, and made his way to Rome. His main object in coming was, he says, to obtain the release of certain priests who had been sent to Home by Felix as prisoners, and he accomplished his purpose through the influence of Poppæa, to whom he was introduced by Aliturius, the Jewish actor, already mentioned (Jos. Life, c. 3). May we not think it probable that St. Paul reaped the benefit of a general order for the release of Jewish prisoners sent by the Procurator of Palestine obtained through this instrumentality? The reticence of Josephus in regard to the Christian Church, the Gamaliel-like tone in which he speaks (not to dwell on passages of doubtful genuineness) of John the Baptist and of James the Bishop of Jerusalem (Ant. xviii. 5, § 2; xx. 9, § 1), his avowed Pharisaism, the tone in which he speaks of Ananias of Damascus (see Note on Acts 9:10), all make it probable that he would, at least, not be unwilling that the Apostle, “a Pharisee and son of a Pharisee,” should share in the freedom which he had obtained for others.

As regards the details of this last journey we are again dependent upon inferences more or less precarious. It is clear that, if he left Rome at all, it must have been before the great fire and the persecution of the Christians which followed on it, and from which a prisoner in St. Paul’s position could scarcely have escaped—probably, therefore, about the close of A.D. 63 or the beginning of 64. A vague phrase of Clement of Rome (1 Ep. ad Cor. c. 5), stating that he travelled to the “furthest limits of the West,” has given rise to wild conjectures. On the one hand, looking to the connection with natives of Britain already traced, and to the fact that the epithet ultimi was commonly applied to them, it has been contended that he preached the gospel in this island. A more probable hypothesis is that he started, on his release, to carry into effect his long-intended journey to Spain, to which the epithet “limit of the West” would be nearly as applicable. There, especially at Corduba (now Cordova), he would find many Jews, and Luke, as we have seen (Introduction to St. Luke’s Gospel), had probably earlier points of contact with it. Of such a journey to Spain we find traces in the Muratorian Fragment (see Vol. I., p. xiii.), which speaks of St. Paul as ab urbe ad Spaniam proficiscentis, and the language of Jerome, who echoes Clement’s phrase, stating that he had been set free that he might preach the gospel in Occidentis quoque partibus (Cat. Script. Illusi. “Paulus”), and of Chrysostom (on 2 Timothy 4), who says that “after being in Rome he went on for Spain,” shows that the tradition was widely accepted. In our own time it has been received even by some critics who do not admit the genuineness of the Pastoral Epistles (Ewald, Geschichte Israel, vi. 621, 631; Renan, L’Antechrist, p. 106). We have seen reason to fix the liberation of St. Paul in A.D. 63 or 64, i.e., in the tenth or eleventh year of the reign of Nero. The date of his death is fixed by Jerome in the emperor’s fourteenth year, i.e., in A.D. 66 or 67. We have, therefore, a period of between two or three years towards which we have only the scanty materials furnished—assuming their genuineness—by the Pastoral Epistles. To these, accordingly we turn. They indicate, as might have been expected, that St. Paul was eager to revisit the Greek and Asiatic churches from which he had so long been separated. Timotheus and Luke, who were with him towards the close of his first imprisonment, were probably his companions in travel. They came—if from Corduba, probably by sea from Gades, and through the Straits of Gibraltar, probably taking Crete on the way (Titus 1:5)—to Ephesus. The state of things there was altered greatly for the worse. The grievous wolves, some of them in sheep’s clothing, had done their worst. Hymenæus, and Philetus, and Alexander were conspicuous as the teachers of heresies that led practically to a denial of the Christian’s hope, and the Apostle felt that he had no alternative but to pronounce the sentence which cut them off from Christian fellowship and exposed them to the supernatural chastisements in which lay the only hope of their reformation (1 Timothy 1:20; 2 Timothy 2:17-18). Alexander the coppersmith, probably altogether distinct from the heretic of the same name, succeeded in stirring up the passions of men against him (2 Timothy 4:14), and “wrought him much evil.” Everywhere in Asia (the proconsular province of that name) he met averted glances, even, where, as in the case of Phygellus and Hermogenes, he might have expected better things (2 Timothy 1:15). In Onesiphorus, who had ministered so faithfully to him at Rome, alone, or all but alone, had he found the loyal and loving care which had once been general, and he had to think of him as having passed away, with the prayer that “he might find mercy with the Lord in that day” (2 Timothy 1:16-17; 2 Timothy 4:19), The inspired utterances of the prophets foretold dark and evil times, times at once of apostasy, and heresy, and persecution (1 Timothy 4:1-4). The churches had lost their first love and their first purity. Their very organisation of charity was becoming the source of great evils, leading some to shift on others the burden of the duties which of right devolved on them, and encouraging a systematic pauperised idleness in others (1 Timothy 5:3-8). The women of the Christian Church, even its deaconesses, widows, virgins, were sinking to the old level of their heathen lives in dress and scandals, in idleness and frivolity (1 Timothy 5:11-13; 2 Timothy 3:6). It seemed necessary to the Apostle to meet these dangers by asking his true son in the faith—half-shrinking, it would seem, from so grave a responsibility—to remain at Ephesus clothed with a larger measure of authority than before, while he continued his journey and went to Macedonia (1 Timothy 1:3). If we were to receive the note attached in the Authorised version to the FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY, he passed on from Macedonia to Laodicea, but these foot-notes are of too late a date and too uncertain an authority to be relied on. We must treat them, then, as though they were non-existent, and proceed with our inferences from St. Paul’s own words. What his actual movements and plans were we are informed in the EPISTLE TO TITUS. There we learn that either before or after he went to Asia—more probably the former—he had visited Crete. There also the same evils were showing themselves as at Ephesus. Jewish fables and lives “abominable” and “reprobate” were bringing scandal on the name of Christians, and they were aggravated by the proverbial untruthfulness and sensuality of the national character (Titus 1:5; Titus 1:12; Titus 1:16). Apollos, it is true, was there, and with him Zenas, a “lawyer,” in the Gospel sense of the term (see Note on Matthew 22:35), a Christian teacher, i.e., like Apollos, mighty in the Scriptures, a trained interpreter of the Law of Moses in a Christian sense (Titus 3:13); but their influence was confined within the narrow circle of their own immediate followers, and those of whom St. Paul speaks as “ours” (Titus 3:14) needed more direct superintendence. For this purpose, Titus (possibly the Justus of Corinth; see Note on Acts 18:7), who had once before brought a like special mission to a successful issue (2 Corinthians 7:13-14; 2 Corinthians 8:6; 2 Corinthians 8:23), was despatched with a delegated authority which made him what we might fairly call a “vicar apostolic” rather than a bishop. When St. Paul wrote to him he was himself apparently travelling, or intending to travel, in Macedonia, revisiting, we may believe, in accordance with the promise of Philippians 2:24, the churches of Philippi, Thessalonica and Berœa, and was intending to winter at Nicopolis. It is a natural inference from this, and from the urgency with which he entreats Titus to come to him quickly (Titus 3:12), that the Epistle was written in the autumn. The name of Nicopolis ( = “the city of victory”), to which, we may believe, he now directed his course, was borne by three cities, one on the borders of Thrace and Macedonia, one in Cilicia, and a third, more conspicuous than the others, on the Bay of Actium, which had been built by Augustus to commemorate his great victory there over the combined fleets of Antonius and Cleopatra.

In a previous journey through Macedonia to the Illyrian frontier, probably that of Acts 20:2 (comp. Romans 15:19), he had already laid the foundations of a church in that region of Greece, and may well have been anxious to revisit it.

“Dar’st thou to speak of Tigellinus’ guilt?

Thou too shalt flare as they did, whom we saw,

Standing and burning, throat impaled, in smoke,

And make wide furrows in the thirsty sand.”

—Sat. i. 155.

That of Martial shows that they suffered as Christians, and might have purchased safety by apostasy, He refers to the well-known story of Mucius Scævola thrusting his hand into the fire, which apparently had been dramatised under Nero, and received with much. applause—

“You saw, enacted on the stage of sand,

How Mucius thrust into the flames his hand;

Think ye that act true hero’s deed to be?

Is it not more, when robe of flame is nigh,

To say, ‘I will not sacrifice,’ and die,

Than with the order ‘Burn thy hand,’ comply?”

—Epig. x. 25.

The populace, excited, as the Athenians had been by the mutilation of the Hermæ busts, as that of England was by the Fire of London in 1666, rushed upon the members of the “sect everywhere spoken against” with a ferocious eagerness, and beheld their sufferings at first without a shudder. Only in a few, like Juvenal and Tacitus, did a touch of pity mingle with their aversion. All the old calumnies were revived, and the presence of the Christians at Rome was looked on as a reproach to be got rid of with all convenient speed.

It was under these conditions that the warrant was issued, as we must believe, by Tigellinus, for the arrest of St. Paul. It lies in the nature of the case that the charge could not have been the original accusation brought against him by Tertullus (Acts 24:1-8), for that was simply a question of Jewish law, a charge of having profaned the Jewish Temple. But Tigellinus must have known that for two years he had been the central figure among the Christians of Rome—that he was on terms of friendship with officers of the Augustan band and of the Prætorian Guard. True, he had left the city before the fire; but what if he had planned it, or even suggested the idea, and left others to work it out?

I have thought it best to lay before the reader as clear and connected a narrative as the imperfect data allowed, without entering on the difficult and perplexing questions which have been raised as to the year of the martyrdom of the two Apostles. It is right, however, to state that a very considerable divergency of views prevails on this point, in part connected with the question of the genuineness of the Pastoral Epistles, and that the year has been variously fixed between the limits of A.D. 64 on the one hand, and A.D. 68 on the other. The above has been based on the assumption of the later rather than the earlier date being, at least, approximately true. The Western Church has for many centuries dedicated the 29th and 30th of June (two days being appointed so that due honour might be rendered to each) to the commemoration of the martyrdom of the two Apostles. The calendar of the Reformed Church of England follows that of Koine in assigning June 29th to St. Peter, but contents itself with commemorating the Conversion of St. Paul on January 25th without assigning any day as the anniversary of his death.

What picture, we ask, are we to draw of the man who plays so prominent a part in the history of the Apostolic Church? What was he like? What impression did he make on men at first sight? What when they had learnt to know him? The nearest approximation to an authentic portrait is the medal (an engraving from which may be seen in Lewin’s St. Paud, ii. p. 411) found in the cemetery of Domitilla, one of the Flavian family, and assigned by archæologists to the close of the first or beginning of the second century. Closely cut hair (comp. Acts 18:18), slightly projecting eyes, a high forehead, a nose and mouth that indicate intellectual vigour, moustache, and a beard full rather than long,—this was what the artist gave in his attempt to reproduce a face which he may have seen himself or heard described by others. In stature, it is obvious, he was below the middle height (2 Corinthians 10:10). The suffering which he describes as the thorn in the flesh, showed itself in weak eyes, probably in the nervous trembling of one who is constantly liable to severe attacks of pain. (See Notes on 2 Corinthians 12:7.) He went about as one who had the sentence of death on him (2 Corinthians 1:9). With this, however, there was great vigour of body. He could travel on foot some thirty miles a day (Acts 17:1), or ride on horseback (Acts 23:24), or swim rivers, or keep himself floating for many hours at sea (Acts 27:43). The indomitable energy of the man sustained him under hardships and privations of all kinds. He spoke, not with the rhetorical cadences in which Greek rhetoricians delighted, but with words that went home like an arrow to their mark, and pierced men’s hearts (2 Corinthians 11:25). The voice was, perhaps, untuneable, but the words were full of life (1 Corinthians 14:25; 2 Corinthians 10:10). As men saw him in his artisan’s dress, living the life of the poor, they might have taken him for what he appeared to be; but when they came to know him they found a culture that surprised them, and a marvellous readiness to adapt himself to different natures. He became “all things to all men;” won the respect of proconsuls, chiliarchs, centurions, of the wild emotional Galatians, of the runaway slave Onesimus. He would listen to any tale of sorrow, and yet a keen sense of humour mingled with his earnestness and tenderness. He did not disdain to mingle an occasional pun (Philippians 4:2; Philippians 4:18; Philemon 1:10-11) with serious counsel, nor to paint the weaknesses of silly women and charlatans with a pen that almost reminds us of the caustic sarcasm of Juvenal (1 Timothy 5:11-13; 2 Timothy 3:6-7). And yet when the hour of prayer came, sometimes when he was alone, sometimes when in company with others, he would be absorbed as in ecstatic adoration (1 Corinthians 14:18). Strange mysterious utterances of praise, doxologiee, alleluiahs, and the like, in half-musical intonations, would pour forth from his lips. He would seem as one caught up to the third heaven, to the paradise of God (2 Corinthians 12:1-4), and then, again, would speak, as a prophet of the Lord, with thoughts that breathed and words that burnt. And in his prayers there was an almost terrible earnestness. Groans mingled with words, and name after name of churches and beloved disciples passed from his lips, as he laid his intercessions for them before his Father in heaven (Romans 1:9; Romans 8:26; 1 Thessalonians 3:10). Such are the outlines of the man as he was—very unlike to Raphael’s idealised representation of him,—which are given to us indirectly through his own writings, and each reader must fill up those outlines according to his power. The attempt has been made, not without success, by many word-painters and masters of style. Without disparaging other representations of this kind, I venture to lay before the reader two such portraits.

“I dreamed that, with a passionate complaint,

I wished me born amid God’s deeds of might,

And envied those who saw the presence bright

Of gifted prophet and strong-hearted saint

Whom my heart loves and fancy strives to paint:

I turned, when straight a stranger met my sight,

Came as my guest, and did a while unite

His lot with mine, and lived without restraint;

Courteous he was and grave;—so meek in mien,

It seemed untrue, or told a purpose weak;

Yet in the mood, he could with aptness speak,

Or with stern force, or show of feelings keen,

Marking deep craft, methought, or hidden pride:—

Then came a voice—‘St. Paul is at thy side!’ ”

—J. H. Newman, Lyra Apostolica.

The other is by a less known author:—

“The third who journeyed with them, weak and worn,

Blear-eyed, dim-visioned, bent and bowed with pain,

We looked upon with wonder.—Not for him

The praise of form heroic, supple limbs,

The glory of the sculptor as he moulds

The locks of Zeus, o’erspreading lofty brows,

Apollo, the far-darter, in the pride

Of manhood’s noblest beauty, or the grace

Of sandalled Hermes, messenger of gods:

Not thus he came, but clad in raiment worn,

Of roughest texture, bearing many stains

Of age and travel. In his hand he bore

A staff on which he leant, as one whose limbs

Have lost before their time the strength of youth;

And underneath his arm a strange old book,

Whose mystic letters seemed for him the words

Of wisdom and of truth. And oft he read

In solemn cadence words that thrilled his soul,

And, lighting that worn face with new-born joy,

Bade him go on rejoicing.

So they came;

So entered he our town; but, ere the sun

Had lit the eastern clouds, a fever’s chill

Fell on him; parched thirst and darting throbs

Of keenest anguish racked those weary limbs;

His brow seemed circled with a crown of pain;

And oft, pale, breathless, as if life had flea,

He looked like one in ecstasy, who sees

What others see not; to whose ears a voice

Which others hear not, floats from sea or sky:

And broken sounds would murmur from his lips,

Of glory wondrous, sounds ineffable,

The cry of ‘Abba, Father,’ and the notes

Of some strange solemn chant of other lands.

So, stricken, prostrate, pale, the traveller lay,

So stript of all the comeliness of form,

Men might have spurned and loathed him, passing on

To lead their brighter life.—And yet we stayed;

We spurned him not, nor loathed; through all the shrouds.

Of poverty and sickness we could see

The hero-soul, the presence as of One

Whom then we knew not. When the pain was sharp.

And furrowed brows betrayed the strife within.

Then was he gentlest. Even to our slaves

He spoke as brothers, winning all their hearts

By that unwonted kindness.”

Such in outward form, such in manner and character, was the man to whom the Church of Christ owes so much. We are reminded as we read his own account of himself, what others said of him in his lifetime, the traditions that survived after his death, of such a one as Socrates, with his Silenus face, his ecstatic trances, his playful irony and humour, his earnest thought, his deep enthusiasm, his warm affection for the young, his indifference to wealth and ease. There were, of course, distinctive features, rising in part out of differences of race and culture—the difference between the Aryan and the Semitic types of character—in part out of the higher truths which had been revealed to the Apostle and not to the sage; but there is enough in the general features of the life and character of each to help us to understand the words which tell us that “Wisdom in all ages entering into holy souls maketh them friends of God and prophets.”

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, October 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
ADVERTISEMENT
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology