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Bible Commentaries

Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

Acts 25

Verse 1

Acts 25:1 .] The term ἐπαρχία is properly used of a province , whether imperial or senatorial (see note on ch. Act 13:7 ), but is here loosely applied to Judæa, which was only a procuratorship, attached to the province of Syria. So also Josephus calls Festus ἔπαρχος , Antt. xx. 8. 11; as also Albinus, ib. 9. 1.

Verses 1-27

CHAP. Act 24:1 to Acts 26:32 . ] PAUL’S IMPRISONMENT AT CÆSAREA.

Verse 2

2. οἱ ἀρχ .] It has been imagined, that ὁ ἀρχ . of the rec. has been a correction to suit the former part of the narrative. But it may be that οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς has been substituted for it, to suit the assertion of Festus, Acts 25:15 . So Meyer and De Wette. The High Priest now was Ishmael the son of Phabi, Jos. Antt. xx. 8. 11 [see chronological table in Prolegg.].

πρῶτοι is more general than πρεσβύτεροι , though most of the first men must have been members of the Sanhedrim. Festus, relating this application, Acts 25:15 , calls them πρεσβύτεροι .

Verse 3

3. ] χάριν = καταδίκην , Acts 25:15 .

ποιοῦντες , not for ποιήσοντες : they were making, contriving , the ambush already. The country was at this time, as may be seen abundantly in Jos. Antt. xx., full of sicarii; who were hired by the various parties to take off their adversaries.

Verse 5

5. οἱ δυνατοί ] not, as in E. V., those among you that are able (to go down?): but, the powerful among you: those who from their position and influence are best calculated to represent the public interests. See Meyer and Wordsworth.

Verse 6

6 .] The number of days is variously read: which has probably arisen from the later MSS., which have η for the ὀκτώ of the more ancient ones: thus η has been omitted on account of the η following. It is possible, as Meyer also observes, that a perverted notion of the necessity of an absolute precision in details in the inspired text, may have occasioned the erasure of one of the numbers.

Verse 7

7. περιέστησαν ] Without the αὐτόν , as in rec., this might mean round the βῆμα , or round Festus: and perhaps the insertion has been made to clear this up.

καταφέροντες , bringing against him: see var. readd. and ref.

Verse 8

8. ] These were the three principal charges to which the πολ . κ . βαρ . αἰτ . of the Jews referred (Meyer).

Verse 9

9. ] κριθῆναι , the aor., refers to the one act , of deciding finally concerning these charges. This not having been seen, the later MSS. have substituted κρίνεσθαι , which is more ‘ going to law,’ ‘being involved in a trial.’

The question is asked of Paul as a Roman citizen, having a right to be tried by Roman law: and more is contained in it, than at first meets the eye. It seems to propose only a change of place ; but doubtless in the ἐκεῖ κριθῆναι was contained by implication a sentence pronounced by the Sanhedrim. ἐπ ʼ ἐμοῦ may mean no more than ἐπὶ σοῦ , ch. Acts 26:2 , viz., that the procurator would be present and sanction the trial: so Grot., “visne a synedrio judicari me præsente?” Otherwise, a journey to Jerusalem would be superfluous. Festus may very probably have anticipated the rejection of this proposal by Paul, and have wished to make it appear that the obstacle in the way of Paul being tried by the Sanhedrim arose not from him , but from the prisoner himself.

Verse 10

10. ] Paul’s refusal has a positive and a negative ground 1. ‘ Cœsar’s tribunal is my proper place of judgment : 2. To the Jews I have done no harm, and they have therefore no claim to judge me ’ (De W.).

ἐπ . τ . β . Καίς . ] Meyer quotes from Ulpian, “Quæ acta gestaque sunt a procuratore Cæsaris sic ab eo comprobantur, atque si a Cæsare ipso gesta sint.” In οὗ με δεῖ κρίνεσθαι , Wordsworth has again fallen into the mistake of supposing με (and again in Act 25:11 ) to be emphatic (see note, Mat 16:18 ), which it cannot possibly be under any circumstances. The form of the sentence which would express the sense built by him on this error, would be, οὗ δεῖ ἐμὲ κριθῆναι , or οὗ ἐμὲ δεῖ κριθῆναι . But the sense, when thus given, surely is wholly alien from the person speaking and from the situation: as is also the understanding δεῖ as alluding to divine intimation made to him. The δεῖ is simply of his right as a Roman citizen: the με simply enclitic, and of no rhetorical force at all.

κάλλιον ] Not ‘for the superlative,’ here or any where else: the comparative is elliptical, requiring ‘than …’ to be supplied by the hearer: so also in reff. Here, the ellipsis would be readily supplied from Festus’s own speech, which appeared to assume that there was some ground of trial before the Sanhedrim. κάλλιον will therefore mean, better than thou choosest to confess . We have an ellipsis of the same kind in our phrase ‘ to know better .’ Or it may be in this case as in 2 Timothy 1:18 , ‘ better, than that I need say more on it :’ but I prefer the other interpretation.

Verse 11

11. ] Both readings, εἰ μὲν γάρ , and εἰ μὲν οὖν , will suit the sense. In the former case, it is, ‘ For if I am an offender , …:’ in the latter, If, now, I am an offender …, taking up the supposition generally , after having denied the particular case of his having offended the Jews . Meyer and De Wette are at issue about the internal probability of these readings: I am disposed to agree with Meyer that a difficulty was felt in the οὖν (no expression is more frequently misunderstood and altered than μὲν οὖν ) and it was corrected into γάρ . This εἰ assumes the conviction after proof; as the following εἰ does the acquittal .

οὐ . με δύν . ] Said of legal possibility: ‘non fas est aliquem.…’ The dilemma here put by Paul is, “ If I am guilty, it is not by them, but by Cœsar, that I must be ( and am willing to be ) tried, sentenced, and punished. If I am innocent, and Cœsar acquits me, then clearly none will be empowered to give me up to them: therefore, at all events, guilty or innocent, I am not to be made their victim .”

Καίς . ἐπικαλ .] I call upon , i.e. appeal to (provoco ad) Cæsar . This power (of ‘provocatio ad populum ’) having existed in very early times (e.g. the case of Horatius, Livy i. 26), was ensured to Roman citizens by the Lex Valeria (see Livy ii. 8, U.C. 245), suspended by the Decemviri, but solemnly re-established after their deposition (Liv. iii. 55, U.C. 305), when it was decreed that it should be unlawful to make any magistrate from whom there did not lie an appeal. When the emperors absorbed the power of the populus and the tribunitial veto in themselves, the ‘provocatio ad populum’ and ‘appellatio ad tribunos’ were both made to the princeps . See Smith’s Dict. of Antt. art. Appellatio. In Pliny’s celebrated Epistle respecting the Bithynian Christians (x. 97), we read, “Fuerunt alii similis amentiæ: quos, quia cives Romani erant, adnotavi in urbem remittendos.”

Verse 12

12. συμβουλίου ] The ‘ conventus ,’ or σύνοδος of citizens in the provinces, assembled to try causes on the ἀγοραῖοι ( ἡμέραι ), see ch. Acts 19:38 . A certain number of these were chosen as judices, for the particular causes, by the proconsul, and these were called his ‘ consiliarii ’ (Suet. Tib. 33), or ‘ assessores ’ ( πάρεδροι , Suet. Galba 19). So in Jos. (B. J. ii. 16. 1), Cestius, on receiving an application from Jerusalem respecting the conduct of Florus, μετὰ ἡγεμόνων ἐβουλεύετο , i.e. with his assessors, or συμβούλιον . He consulted them to decide whether the appeal was to be conceded, or if conceded, to be at once acted on. (Mr. Lewin cites from the Digests, xlix. 5. 7: ‘Si res dilationem non recipiat, non permittitur appellare.’)

The sense is stronger and better without a question at ἐπικέκλησαι . Thus were the two the design of Paul (ch. Act 19:21 ), and the promise of our Lord to him (ch. Act 23:11 ) brought to their fulfilment, by a combination of providential circumstances. We can hardly say, with De W. and Meyer, that these must have influenced Paul in making his appeal; that step is naturally accounted for, and was rendered necessary by the difficulties which now beset him; but we may be sure that the prospect at length, after his long and tedious imprisonment, of seeing Rome , must at this time have cheered him, and caused him to hear the ἐπὶ Καίσαρα πορεύσῃ of Festus with no small emotion.

Verse 13

13. ] HEROD AGRIPPA II., son of the Herod of ch. 12 (see note on Act 25:1 there), was at Rome, and seventeen only, when his father died (Jos. Antt. xix. 9. 1). Claudius (ib. 9. 2) was about to send him to succeed to the kingdom, but was dissuaded by his freedmen and favourites, and sent Cuspius Fadus as procurator instead. Soon after, Claudius gave him the principality of Chalcis, which had been held by his uncle Herod (Antt. xx. 5. 2), the presidency of the temple at Jerusalem and its treasures (Antt. xx. 1. 3), and the appointment of the High Priest. Some years after the same emperor added to his jurisdiction the former tetrarchy of Philip, and Batanæa, Trachonitis, and Abilene (Antt. xx. 7. 1), with the title of King (B. J. ii. 12. 8). Nero afterwards annexed Tiberias, Tarichea, Julias, and fourteen neighbouring villages to his kingdom (Antt. xx. 8. 4). He built a large palace at Jerusalem (ib. 8. 11); but offended the Jews by constructing it so as to overlook the temple (ib.), and by his capricious changes in the high priesthood, and was not much esteemed by them (B. J. ii. 17. 1). When the last war broke out, he attached himself throughout to the Romans. He died in the third year of Trajan, and fifty-first of his reign, aged about seventy (Winer, Realw.).

Βερνίκη ] The Macedonian form ( Βερενίκη or Βερονίκη ) for Φερενίκη . She was the eldest daughter of Herod Agrippa I., and first married to her uncle Herod, prince of Chalcis (Antt. xix. 5. 1). After his death she lived with Agrippa her brother, but not without suspicion ( φήμης ἐπισχυούσης , ὅτι τῷ ἀδελφῷ συνῄει , Antt. xx. 7. 3; see also Juv. Sat. vi. 156 ff.); in consequence of which ( οὕτως γάρ ἐλέγξειν ᾤετο ψευδεῖς τὰς διαβολάς , Antt. ib.) she married Polemo, king of Cilicia. The marriage was, however, soon dissolved (ib.), and she returned to her brother. She was afterwards the mistress of Vespasian (Tac. Hist. ii. 81), and of Titus (Suet. Tit [150] 7; Winer, Realw.).

[150] Titus, Bp. of Bostra, cir. 360 377

ἀσπασάμενοι ] on his accession to the procuratorship, to gain his favour.

Verse 14

14. ἀνέθετο ] laid before , so reff. He did this, not only because Agrippa was a Jew, but because he was (see above) governor of the temple .

Verse 15

15. ] It seems more probable that the unusual word καταδίκη should have been changed to δίκην , especially as κατά precedes, than the converse. Luke never uses δίκη , except as personified , ch. Acts 28:4 ; and in the only two places besides where it occurs in the N. T. (2 Thessalonians 1:9 ; Jud 1:7 ), it has the sense of condemnation or punishment ; and in neither place is there any various reading.

Verse 16

16. χαρίζεσθαι ] The words inserted in the rec., εἰς ἀπώλειαν , are a correct supplement of the sense; to give up , i.e. to his enemies, and for destruction .

De W. remarks, that the construction of πρίν with an opt. without ἄν , is only found here in the N. T. (not that it occurs with ἄν ). Hermann, on Viger, p. 442, restricts the opt. with πρὶν ἤ to cases where ‘res narratur ut cogitatio alicujus:’ so Paus., μὴ πρότερον φάναι ζητοῦντι μηνύσειν πρὶνοἱ καὶ ἐν Ἀκροκορίνθῳ γένοιτο ὕδωρ .

On the practice of the Romans, here nobly and truly alleged, see citations in Grot. and Wetst. in loc.

τόπον ] This use of τόπος as the Lat. ‘locus,’ is not found in good Greek.

Verse 18

18. περὶ οὗ σταθ . ] See Acts 25:7 ; E. V., ‘ against whom ,’ supposing περὶ οὗ to refer to ( ἐπ ) έφερον , is wrong. The word πονηράν or πονηρών , added in the best MSS. at the end of this verse, looks very like a gloss to explain ὧν or αἰτίαν , and this suspicion is strengthened by the variations in its form and place. ‘Hinc iterum conjicere licet, imo aperte cognoscere, adeo futiles fuisse calumnias ut in judicii rationem venire non debuerint, perinde ac si quis convicium temere jactet.’ Calv.

Verse 19

19. ] δεισιδαιμ . is used by Festus in a middle sense, certainly not as = ‘ superstition ,’ E. V., speaking as he was to Agrippa, a Jew.

Verse 20

20. ] See the real reason why he proposed this, Acts 25:9 . This he now conceals, and alleges his modesty in referring such matters to the judgment of the Jews themselves. This would be pleasing to his guest Agrippa.

ἀπορ . εἰς ] so σὺ δ ʼ εἰς τὰ μητρὸς μὴ φοβοῦ νυμφεύματα , Soph. Œd. Tyr. 980; and ἀμφινοῶ ἐς τέρας , Antig. 372.

ἔλεγον ] There is a mixed construction between ‘ I said, wilt thou ?’ as in Acts 25:9 , and ‘ I asked him whether he would .…’

Verse 21

21. ] τηρηθῆναι is not for εἰς τὸ τηρ . (as Grot. and De W.), but follows directly on ἐπικαλεσαμένου . The construction is again a mixed one between ‘ appealing so as to be kept ,’ and ‘ demanding to be kept .’

σεβαστοῦ ] This title, = Augustus, was first conferred by the senate on Octavianus ( αὐτὸς γενόμενος ἀρχὴ σεβασμοῦ καὶ τοῖς ἔπειτα , Philo de Legat. ad Caium, 21, vol. ii. p. 566), and borne by all succeeding emperors. Dio Cassius (liii. 16) says: Αὔγουστος , ὡς καὶ πλεῖόν τικατὰ ἀνθρώπους ὤν , ἐπεκλήθη . πάντα γὰρ τὰ ἐντιμότατα καὶ τὰ ἱερώτατα αὔγουστα προσαγορεύεται . ἐξ οὗπερ καὶ σεβαστὸν αὐτὸν καὶ ἑλληνίζοντές πως , ὥσπερ τινὰ σεπτόν , ἀπὸ τοῦ σεβάζεσθαι , προσεῖπον . On ἀναπέμψω , Bornemann cites Lucian, Tox. § 17: ὁ δὲ βασιλεῖ τῷ μεγάλῳ ἀναπέμπει αὐτόν .

Verse 22

22. ] ἐβουλόμην does not (as Calv.) imply any former wish of Agrippa to hear Paul. It is, as Meyer explains it, a modest way of expressing a wish, formed in this case while the procurator was speaking, but spoken of by Agrippa as if now past by, and therefore not pressed. We say somewhat similarly, ‘ I was wishing .’ See ref. Rom. and note there. Cf. Aristoph. Av. 1027: ἐκκλησιάσαι δ ʼ οὖν ἐδεόμην οἴκοι μένων : and see other examples in Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 373 ff. Agrippa, as a Jew, is anxious to hear Paul’s defence, as a matter of national interest. The procurator’s ready consent is explained, Acts 25:26 .

Verse 23

23. ] φαντασία is of frequent use in this sense in Polybius and later Greek writers. Herodotus uses the verb φαντάζεσθαι for ‘ superbire ,’ vii. 201: ὁρᾷς ὡς τὰ ὑπερέχοντα ζῶα κεραυνοῖθεός , οὐδ ʼ ἑᾷ φαντάζεσθαι . See Wetst., who finely remarks on the words, ‘In eadem urbe, in qua pater ipsorum a vermibus corrosus ob superbiam perierat.’

ἀκροατήριον ] after the Latin ‘ auditorium :’ perhaps no fixed hall of audience, but the chamber or saloon set apart for this occasion.

χιλιάρχοις ] Jos. (B. J. iii. 4. 2), speaking of Titus’s army, says, προσεγένοντο δὲ καὶ ἀπὸ Καισαρείας πέντε (σπεῖραι ). These, then, were the tribunes of the cohorts stationed at Cæsarea. Stier remarks (Red. der Apostel, ii. 397), “Yet more and more complete must the giving of the testimony in these parts be, before the witness departs for Rome. In Jerusalem, the long-suffering of the Lord towards the rejectors of the Gospel was now exhausted. In Antioch, the residence of the Præses of Syria, the new mother church of Jewish and Gentile Christians was flourishing; here, in Cæsarea, the residence of the procurator, the testimony which had begun in the house of Cornelius the centurion, had now risen upward, till it comes before this brilliant assembly of all the local authorities, in the presence of the last king of the Jews.”

Verse 24

24. ἅπαν τὸ πλ .] At Jerusalem ( Act 25:1 ) literally, by the popular voice (probably) of some tumultuous outcry: here, by their deputation.

Verse 25

25. αὐτοῦ δὲ τούτου ] he himself moreover . These reasons did really coexist as influencing his determination. Mr. Lewin cites, on Acts 25:12 , Dig. xlix. 1. 16: ‘Constitutiones quæ de recipiendis, necnon, appellationibus loquuntur, ut nihil novi fiat, locum non habent in eorum persona quos damnatos statim puniri publici interest, ut sunt insignes latrones, vel seditionum concitatores, vel duces factionum .’

Verse 26

26. ἀσφαλές ] fixed, definite . The whole matter had been hitherto obscured by the exaggerations and fictions of the Jews.

τῷ κυρίῳ ] viz. Nero. Augustus and Tiberius refused this title; Caligula and (apparently) all following bore it. “Thus Tertullian, Apol. xxxiv. vol. i. p. 450: ‘Augustus imperii formator ne dominum quidem dici se volebat;’ and Suet. Aug [151] 53: ‘Dominum se appellari ne a liberis quidem aut nepotibus vel serio vel joco passus est;’ ami Tib. 27: ‘Dominus appellatus a quodam denuntiavit ne se amplius contumeliæ causa nominaret.’ Caligula accepted the title, according to Victor, ap. Eckhel, viii. 364. Herod Agrippa had applied it to Claudius (Philo ap. Spanheim. Numism. ii. 482); but it was not a recognized title of any emperor before Domitian . Suet. Deuteronomy 13:0 : ‘Martial, Edictum Domini Deique nostri.’ ” Mr. Humphry.

[151] Augustine, Bp. of Hippo , 395 430

γράψω has apparently been altered to γράψαι to suit the τί γράψαι above.

Olsh. remarks, that now first was our Lord’s prophecy Matthew 10:18 , Mar 13:9 fulfilled. But Meyer answers well, that we do not know enough of the history of the other Apostles to be able to say this with any certainty. James the greater, and Peter, had in all probability stood before Agrippa I. See ch. Acts 12:2-3 .

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Acts 25". Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.