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Bible Commentaries

Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Acts 20

Verse 1

Acts 20:1 . Μετὰ ταῦτα ) Demetrius did not succeed in his attempt. Paul remained until all was quiet.

Verse 2

Acts 20:2 . Ἐκεῖνα , those ) parts of Macedonia. λόγῳ πολλῷ , with much exhortation ) Paul was especially abounding (overflowing with edifying speech; at this time, Acts 20:7 ; Acts 20:9 ; Acts 20:11 ; wherefore also he at that time wrote several epistles. Ἑλλάδα , Greece ) that part of Greece which was between Macedonia and Achaia.

Verse 3

Acts 20:3 . Ποιήσας ) The nominative was employed by Luke before that the predicate ( ἐγένετο γνώμη ) occurred to him, which requires the oblique case (viz. αὐτῷ ). Such constructions are found not only in Hebrew, but also in Greek and Latin writers. μῆνας τρεῖς , three months ) at which time also he seems to have seen the Corinthians, but only in passing : 1 Corinthians 16:7 . αὐτῷ μέλλοντι ἀνάγεσθαι , for him, as he was about to sail ) They were laying plots for Paul against this very journey to Syria. εἰς τὴν Συρίαν , into Syria ) ch. Acts 21:3 . ἐγένετο γνώμη , he determined ) Sometimes they relied on a, general, sometimes on a special call. ὑποστρέφειν , to return ) Even a holy purpose can sometimes be changed. Comp. ch. Acts 19:21 , where Paul is represented as having once wished to go through Macedonia. It appears that Paul had wished, after journeying through Macedonia and Achaia, to go forward to Jerusalem. But at that time, indeed, lie did not get to Jerusalem, but again returned through Macedonia. His journey to Jerusalem, and to Rome afterwards, proceeded (was accomplished) by another way: the order merely of his course being changed.

Verse 4

Acts 20:4 . Συνείπετο , there accompanied him) A delightful retinue. ἄχρι τῆς Ἀσίας , as far as to Asia ) In Asia a part of them departed, a part remained with Paul: Acts 20:6 ; Acts 20:13-14 . Trophimus went along with him to Jerusalem, as appears from ch. Acts 21:29 ; Aristarchus accompanied him to Rome, ch. Acts 27:2 . Θεσσαλονικέων , of the Thessalonians ) So Aristarchus and Secundus are called. For Gaius was of Derbe: the country of Timothy was already marked, viz. Lystra, near Derbe. Ἀσιανοὶ , of Asia ) from Asia strictly so called.

Verse 5

Acts 20:5 . Ἐν Τρωάδι , in Troas ) The name of the region and town.

Verse 6

Acts 20:6 . Ἡμεῖς , we ) Again the writer of the book was present with Paul.

Verse 7

Acts 20:7 . Συνηγμένων ἡμῶν , when we were met together ) as already at that time they were wont, on the Lord’s day . Therefore it is probable that by the breaking of bread is denoted here a feast of the disciples conjoined with the Eucharist, especially since it was so solemn a taking of leave. διελέγετο , preached to them) Spiritual teachers ought not to be too strictly tied down to a given time (ad clepsydram), especially on a solemn and rare occasion.

Verse 8

Acts 20:8 . Λαμπάδες ἱκαναὶ , many lights ) in order that all suspicion of scandal might be obviated.

Verse 9

Acts 20:9 . Νεανίας ) παῖς in Acts 20:12 . καταφερόμενος · κατενεχθεὶς ) One and same participle, but in a different tense: although even the theme ἐνέγκω expresses more than φέρω . Sleep surprised (came unawares on) him whilst sitting: being “sunk down with sleep,” he fell.

Verse 10

Acts 20:10 . Ἐπέπεσεν , lay on him) Christ did not use this gesture; but Elijah, Elisha, and Paul used it. μὴ θορυβεῖσθε , trouble not yourselves ) In the case of the greatest matters undue agitation was forbidden: Exodus 14:13 ; 1 Kings 6:7 ; Isaiah 8:6 . The temple was constructed without noise. In time of war, tranquillity was required on the part of the people. ἐν αὐτῷ ἐστιν , is in him ) Paul speaks in such a way as to remove sudden terror (fright): therefore his words are not to be pressed too closely (strictly). He does not add as yet , nor again ; but simply affirms that the youth is alive: just the same as if he had not even fallen. The miracle was evident. Comp. the same mode of speaking in Jesus’ raising the ruler’s daughter, “The maid is not dead, but sleepeth,” Matthew 9:24 .

Verse 11

Acts 20:11 . Κλάσας ἄρτον , having broken bread ) This breaking of bread was the particular act of Paul, when about to set out on his journey, and was distinct from that which had occurred the day before, Acts 20:7 . ὁμιλήσας , having spoken with them) in more familiar discourse, after the more solemn address, of which Act 20:9 treats. οὕτως , so ) No taking of rest intervening.

Verse 12

Acts 20:12 . Ἤγαγον ) they brought , or led , not carried : he was not at all enfeebled by his fall. ζῶντα , alive ) Not even by the accident did they receive any damage from Paul: 2 Corinthians 7:9 .

Verse 13

Acts 20:13 . Ἦν διατεταγμένος ) In a middle signification. See Bud. comm. col. 898. So he had determined concerning himself . πεζεύειν ) he preferred to go on foot , although he had passed the night without sleep, and although Assos was a town of difficult and dangerous approach, as Eustathius observes.

Verse 15

Acts 20:15 . Τρωγυλλίῳ ) The name of a place, as in Wirtemberg, a village is called Korb (a basket) with the same signification. ἤλθομεν , we came ) with rapid course.

Verse 16

Acts 20:16 . Ἔκρινε ) determined . For Ephesus was in the rear. χρονοτριβῆσαι ) Not even in Asia would Paul have wasted time without fruit: but he considered that he would have been nevertheless wasting time, if (though obtaining some fruit) he neglected thereby greater fruits. τὴν ἡμέραν , the day ) The Accusative of time. Πεντηκοστῆς , of Pentecost ) Time was urgent: Acts 20:6 . At the feast there were great concourses of people; and therefore a great opportunity of winning souls.

Verse 18

Acts 20:18 . Ὑμεῖς ἐπίστασθε , ye know ) Happy the minister who can thus begin his address, appealing to the conscience of his hearers as attesting what he says. ἐπέβην , I entered ) This denotes more than I came to ; for it signifies, I set foot on . πῶς ) There follows ὡς , Acts 20:20 , which is equivalent to an Anaphora (the repetition of the same word in beginnings, thereby marking them). τὸν ) Relative [ the whole time that I was with you].

Verse 19

Acts 20:19 . Δουλεύων , serving ) A noble idea of the servant of the Lord. τῶ Κυρίῳ ) the Lord , whose is the Church. μετὰ , with ) Humility of mind, tears , and temptations , are the concomitants (of service ): the act of serving itself is described in the foll. verse. ταπεινοφροσύνης , humility of mind ) This he recommends to the Ephesians also in Ephesians 4:2 , “with all lowliness ,” ταπεινοφροσύνης . δακρύων , tears ) Acts 20:31 ; 2 Corinthians 2:4 ; Philippians 3:18 . A characteristic trait of Paul. Holy tears shed by men and heroes, who seldom if ever weep for things in the ordinary course of nature, furnish a specimen of the efficacy, and an argument for the truth, of Christianity. Yet joy is compatible with these tears: Acts 20:24 . Add the note, Acts 20:37 . πειρασμῶν , temptations ) The plots of the Jews in various ways truly tried and exercised the mind of Paul. τῶν Ἰουδαίων , of the Jews ) The apostle of the Gentiles speaks of them now as if they were alien (foreigners) to him.

Verse 20

Acts 20:20 . Οὐδὲν ὑπεστειλάμην , I have withheld or kept back ) Acts 20:27 . There were considerations, which might have induced others to keep back many things, or at least some things; fear, the favour of men, etc. τῶν συμφερόντων , of things profitable ) These are to be taught: the other things are to be avoided (cut off). ἀναγγεῖλαι , but have announced or showed ) To this refer the δημοσίᾳ , publicly. δίδαξαι , have taught you) To this refer the κατʼ οἴκους [“from house to house”], throughout your houses, privately . Not even the apostolical office, widely extended as it was in its sphere of operations, had its duties fully discharged by merely public preaching. What then ought pastors to do?

Verse 21

Acts 20:21 . Τὴν ) The sum of those things which are profitable is the sum of Christian doctrine, the sum of the Divine counsel, Repentance and Faith. εἰς , towards ) repentance, whereby men betake themselves to God . Refer this to the Greeks , who were mentioned just before; and refer the word faith to the Jews who betake themselves to Christ , mentioned a little before. It is a Chiasmus, as in Philem. Acts 20:5 , where see the note. [The Jews ( [115] ); the Greeks ( [116] ); Repentance ( [117] ); Faith ( [118] ): [119] refers to [120] ; [121] to [122] : inverted Chiasmus. See Append. on the distinction of Immediate Relation, Direct Chiasmus, and Inverted .]

[115] the Alexandrine MS.: in Brit. Museum: fifth century: publ. by Woide, 1786 1819: O. and N. Test. defective.

[116] the Vatican MS., 1209: in Vat. Iibr., Rome: fourth cent.: O. and N. Test. def.

[117] Ephræmi Rescriptus: Royal libr., Paris: fifth or sixth cent.: publ. by Tisch. 1843: O. and N. T. def.

[118] Bezæ, or Cantabrig.: Univ. libr., Cambridge: fifth cent.: publ. by Kipling, 1793: Gospels, Acts, and some Epp. def.

[119] the Alexandrine MS.: in Brit. Museum: fifth century: publ. by Woide, 1786 1819: O. and N. Test. defective.

[120] Bezæ, or Cantabrig.: Univ. libr., Cambridge: fifth cent.: publ. by Kipling, 1793: Gospels, Acts, and some Epp. def.

[121] the Vatican MS., 1209: in Vat. Iibr., Rome: fourth cent.: O. and N. Test. def.

[122] Ephræmi Rescriptus: Royal libr., Paris: fifth or sixth cent.: publ. by Tisch. 1843: O. and N. T. def.

Verse 22

Acts 20:22 . Καὶ νῦν ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ , and now behold I ) These words are weightily repeated by Anaphora, in Acts 20:25 [See Append. on Anaphora , the frequent repetition of words to mark beginnings]. δεδεμένος τῷ πνεύματι , bound in spirit ) Paul knew that he was about to be bound: and now already he was so affected in mind as one who is bound, nor could he induce his mind to think anything else but that he would be bound. μὴ εἰδὼς , not knowing ) We ought not to suppose that the apostles were omniscient. They depended by faith on the Divine guidance. Paul knew concerning others, Acts 20:25 ; Acts 20:29 ; concerning himself he was obliged to exercise implicit faith.

Verse 23

Acts 20:23 . [ Πλὴν ὅτι , except that ) In general terms, bonds and afflictions were indicated to Paul. V. g.] κατὰ πόλιν , in every city ) It was for the good of all to know, and all profited in seeing the obedience of Paul, and in hearing him with the greater eagerness, as not being about to see him any more. Hence too was made evident the greatness of (his and their) afflictions. Those which appertained to Paul himself were indicated to Paul by others. [Comp. ch. Acts 21:4 ; Acts 21:11 , Agabus’ prophecy, with the symbolical binding with Paul’s girdle.]

Verse 24

Acts 20:24 . Οὐδενὸς ) of no adverse occurrence. ἐμαυτῷ , unto myself ) as concerns myself [ch. Act 21:13 ]; Philippians 1:21-22 . The denial of self. ὡς , as ) viz. I count it dear [I do not count my life so dear, as I count it a dear object to finish my course with joy]. τελειῶσαι , to finish ) He finished after it that a very long time had intervened: 2 Timothy 4:7-8 , τὸν δρόμον τετέλεκα , “I have finished my course.” δρόμον , course ) a speedy one. τῆς χάριτος , of the grace ) of the New Testament. τοῦ Θεοῦ , of God ) This name is repeated with great force in Acts 20:25 ; Acts 20:27 .

Verse 25

Acts 20:25 . Οὐκέτι ὄψεσθε , shall see no more ) Paul wisely inserts this now in this place. For so the other things which he has to say the more impressively affect the minds of his hearers. ὑμεῖς , ye ) The explanation of this word follows, viz. all , etc. The apostle returned from Rome to Asia several years after: but in the interim almost all these persons died or removed elsewhere. At all events the sense is this: I know that such things are about to befall me as, without a peculiar Divine guidance, and that a miraculous one, must cut off from you the power (opportunity) of seeing me. A Metalepsis (as in ch. Act 21:4 ). [A double trope. Ex. gr. here, there is a double METONYMY of the Consequent for the Antecedent : 1) Such things are about to befall me, as that I am hardly, and not even hardly (scarcely is there in the case the possibility expressed by “hardly”), likely to return: 2) If even I were ever so sure of returning, yet you yourselves, after so long an interval of time, will almost all be either dead or removed elsewhere. Instead of these two Antecedents the Consequent is put: Ye shall not see my face . Append.]

Verse 26

Acts 20:26 . Διὀ , wherefore ) This is deduced from Acts 20:20 . μαρτύρομαι , I take you to record ) Your conscience will be a witness to me . This is the force of the middle verb. σήμερον , this day ) This expression has a great explanatory power. καθαρὸς , pure ) This ought to be the chief care of one taking leave.

Verse 27

Acts 20:27 . Γὰρ , for ) Therefore he who kept back what he ought to have announced or showed, is not pure from the blood of his hearers.

Verse 28

Acts 20:28 . Προσέχετε , take heed ) This care I devolve from myself on you, Acts 20:31 . ἑαυτοῖς ) first to yourselves , then to the flock . τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ Ἅγιον , the Holy Ghost ) The Holy Spirit mediately, through the instrumentality of Paul, appointed them. Comp. ch. Acts 14:23 . But a call which has not been given by the Holy Spirit really, does not deserve to be termed even a mediate call. ἐπισκόπους , overseers or bishops ) At this time the appellation, “bishops,” was not yet the customary and peculiar one (applied to those subsequently bearing that name): but here it has the meaning which the force of its etymological derivation requires, and is applicable to all presbyters , whose title (“Presbyter”) was a more customary one, owing to its existence in the Jewish Church. Afterwards Timothy and Titus, whom the apostles had set over the presbyters in a certain peculiar manner, were entitled bishops: and yet the bishops also did not cease to be entitled presbyters: Titus 1:7 ; Titus 1:5 , where he who is called a bishop in Acts 20:7 , is called an elder in Acts 20:5 ; 1Pe 5:2 ; 1 Peter 5:1 ; Philippians 1:1 . τὴν ἐκκλησίαν τοῦ Θεοῦ , the Church of God ) Others read τὴν ἐκκλησίαν Κυρίου ; many, with the Slavonic Version, τὴν ἐκκλησίαν Κυρίου καἰ Θεοῦ . Paul often uses the appellation, the Church of God , in the Ep. to the Thess. Cor. Gal. Tim., never the Church of the Lord . Nor does he use the expression at all, Lord and God , interposing the particle and between. Therefore it remains that we read the Church of GOD: although, if in this passage Paul used the expression, Church of the Lord , according to the parallelism of the Old Testament it would be the Church of Jehovah . [123] ἣν περιεποιήσατο , which He hath purchased ) This therefore is a most precious flock [as having cost so dearly]. ἰδίου , His own ) For it is the blood of the Son of GOD: 1 John 1:7 , “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

[123] Τοῦ Θεοῦ is supported by B Vulg. (oldest MSS.), Harclean Syriac, Cyril of Alexandria, Epiphanius. Τοῦ Κυρίου is read by ACDE de Memph. Theb. Iren. (Latin) 201, Eusebius, Lucifer 226, Jerome. Τοῦ Κυρίου καὶ Θεοῦ , the common reading of MSS., is supported by none of the oldest authorities: the Slavonic Version of the 9th cent. is no good authority. Τοῦ Θεοῦ , in connection with “blood,” is the more difficult reading, and therefore so far less likely to be an interpolation. But ἡ ἐκκλησία τοῦ Κυρίου is a still less likely reading to be interpolated, as the phrase is found nowhere else in the N. Test., so that a transcriber would readily change it into τοῦ Θεοῦ , as in 1 Corinthians 1:2 : and 1 Peter 5:2 , ποίμνιον τοῦ Θεοῦ , might also suggest the change. Even if the preponderance of testimony lead to the reading Κυρίου , still the infinite value of Christ’s own blood , as alone equal to meet the justice of an infinite God, is clearly brought out. B, the oldest MS. is weighty authority for τοῦ Θεοῦ . Alford shows that there was greater reason for Arians to change the text to Κυρίου , than for the orthodox to change it to τοῦ Θεοῦ . The latter, if left untouched, would be fatal to Arianism; the former, if untouched, does not militate against orthodoxy in the least. E. and T.

Verse 29

Acts 20:29 . Ἐγὼ , I ) A sure and confident prediction. εἰσελεύσονται , enter in ) from elsewhere. In antithesis to, from among your own selves , Acts 20:30 . Concerning both kinds of pestilential evils among the Ephesians, see Revelation 2:2 ; Revelation 2:6 . μετὰ , after ) Immediately after the departure and death of the apostles, the Church lost a great part of its purity, as is evident from their (the apostles’) predictions, warnings, and complaints. As to the Church of the Ephesians, see the Epp. to Tim. and the writings of John. μετὰ τὴν ἄφιξίν μου ) Hesychius says, ἄφιξις , i.e. ἔφοδος , παρουσία , arrival, presence . Comp. Romans 16:19 , “Your obedience is come ( ἀφίκετο ) unto all men;” where see the note. Nor does ἄφιξις signify departure . Zosimus, lib. v.: μετὰ τὴν Ὀνωρίου εἰς τὴν Ῥάβευναν ἄφιξιν , i.e. after Honorius had set out from Ravenna to Bononia (not after his departure to Ravenna). Eusebius, lib. vi. Demonstr. Evang. last chapter: μετὰ τὴν εἰς ἡμᾶς ἄφιξιν ( τοῦ Χριστοῦ ) ὁ νεὼς ἐπυρπολεῖτο . Therefore the sense is, “First Paul came : then afterwards shall come wolves.” Comp. John 5:43 . λύκοι , wolves ) Allegorical. μὴ φειδόμενοι , not sparing ) A Meiosis , i.e. (not only) not spring , but) most baneful. It is the part of a pastor φείδεσθαι , to spare .

Verse 30

Acts 20:30 . Ἀποσπᾷν ) to draw away , from their simplicity towards Christ, and from the unity of the body. This is the characteristic of a false teacher, to wish that the disciples should depend (hang) on himself alone.

Verse 31

Acts 20:31 . Γρηγορεῖτε , watch ) A pastoral expression. νύκτα ἓκαστον , by night every one ) This was great watchfulness. [And if this was becoming in an apostle, how much more is it so in a pastor! V. g.]

Verse 32

Acts 20:32 . Τῷ λόγῳ τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ , to the word of His grace ) A description of the Gospel occurs in Acts 20:24 . τῷ δυναμένῳ , who is able ) [not as Engl. Vers. which is able ]. Refer the words to God , τῷ Θεῷ . Often the power of GOD is appealed to; for concerning the Father’s willingness believers are sure: They shall have experience of His power. Men who are saints desire it; GOD is able. Romans 16:25 ; Ephesians 3:10 ; Jude Acts 20:24 ; 2 Timothy 1:12 . ἐποικοδομῆσαι , to build you up ) GOD, by Paul, had built them in the faith: God also, (even) without Paul, could build them up additionally [the ἐπὶ implying additional edification, or building up]. δοῦναι , give ) The end of faith. ἐν , among or in ) Implying the communion of the saints: 2 Thessalonians 2:1 . ἡγιασμένοις , those who are sanctified ) So believers from among the Gentiles are called, not excluding Jewish believers, ch Acts 26:18 . On this account the expression used is ἐν in or among , not σὐν , with , so that the Ephesians may be included. In the same sense they are termed κλητοὶ ἅγιοι , called saints , Rom 1:7 ; 1 Corinthians 1:2 . Moreover, believing Jews, not to the exclusion of the Gentiles, are termed ἅγιοι , saints ( holy or dedicated to the Lord ) peculiarly: Romans 15:25-26 ; Romans 15:31 ; 1 Corinthians 16:1 ; 1 Corinthians 16:15 ; Ephesians 2:19 ; Ephesians 3:8 ; 2 Thessalonians 1:10 ; Psalms 148:14 . See Romans 11:16 . πᾶσιν , all ) Paul had a very great knowledge and remembrance of these. He therefore embraces (comprises) all.

Verse 33

Acts 20:33 . Ἀργυρίου , silver ) The second portion of his parting address. Paul brings forth all things. So Samuel, 1 Samuel 12:3 .

Verse 34

Acts 20:34 . Αὗται , these ) which are hardened with labour, as ye see.

Verse 35

Acts 20:35 . Πάντα ὄτι ) i.e. I have showed you, as all things , so also this, that , etc. If I had not showed you this, I should not have showed you all things. ὑπέδειξα , I have shown ) by actual example. ὑμῖν , you ) the bishops. He admonishes these by his own example, courteously, without precept. Therefore in Act 20:33 he does not say, the silver, etc., of none of you , which was evident of itself (without needing that he should say so); but of no man , viz. of no one even of my hearers. τῶν ἀσθενούντων , the weak ) viz. in the faith, 1 Corinthians 9:6 ; 1 Corinthians 9:22 . μνημονεύειν , to remember ) accompanied with actual obedience. τοῦ λόγου , the saying ) So the ancient MSS., and with them the Latin Vulg. It is a reading midway between the extremes. Others read τὸν λόγον . Most read τῶν λόγων , which reading has arisen from the alliteration to the preceding τῶν . John 15:20 , μνημονεύετε τοῦ λόγου . αὐτὸς ) Himself. εἶπε , said ) Without a doubt the disciples kept in memory many sayings of JESUS, which are not to be read in our Scriptures in the present day. μακάριον ) blessed , divine. To give, is to imitate the blessed God, and to have recompense, Luke 14:14 . δίδοναι , to give ) A specimen of the Divine giving occurs at Acts 20:32 . λαμβάνειν ) to receive , although in a lawful way. The sentiment of the world is the very reverse, as expressed by an old poet in Athenæus, lib. viii. ch. 5, in the following Senarian Iambics:

Δημοσθένης τάλαντα πεντηκοντʼ ἔχει ·

Μακάριος , εἴπερ μεταδίδωσι μηδενί .

Καὶ Μετροκλῆς εἴληφε χρύσιον πολύ .

Ἀνόητοςδιδοὺς , εὐτυχὴς δʼ ὁ λαμβάνων .

Verse 36

Acts 20:36 . Θεὶς γόνατα , having knelt down ) His spirit kindling into a glow, in public, ch. Acts 21:5 .

Verse 37

Acts 20:37 . Ἱκανὸς , great ) The tenderest and sweetest affections reign here. No book in the world equals Scripture, even as regards τὰ ἤθη καὶ πάθη , the manners and affections . πάντων , of all ) Even tears are a proof of how much the successive ages of men degenerate. Formerly both men and good men, and heroes themselves (even among the Gentiles), were readily moved to tears, even in a body collectively. Judges 2:4-5 ; 1 Samuel 30:4 . Now when all things are more effeminate than they were then, yet the giving way to tears is permitted only in women and boys. John Hornbeck, l. 6, Theol. pract. c. 8, beautifully discusses the subject of pious tears.

Ὀδυνώμενοι , grieving ) How great hereafter will be the grief (of the lost), to be deprived of the sight of GOD, of the angels, and of the elect! [124]

[124] Bengel, J. A. (1860). Vol. 2 : Gnomon of the New Testament (M. E. Bengel & J. C. F. Steudel, Ed.) (A. R. Fausset, Trans.) (621 692). Edinburgh: T&T Clark.

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Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Acts 20". Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.