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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Acts 28

Verse 1

Acts 28:1 . Τότε ) then at last . ἐπέγνωμεν ) So the most ancient authorities read. Ἐπέγνωσαν [154] is the reading of the more recent copies, from ch. Acts 27:39 . The sailors did not know the land, says Luke, sooner than all the rest of us. ΜΕΛΊΤΗ ) Melita , below Sicily: comp. ch. Acts 27:17 ( the Syrtis , off Africa); nor is the Act 28:27 there an objection ( up and down in Adria ), for the name of the Adriatic Sea was used in a comprehensive sense among the ancients, extending towards the Ionian Sea.

[154] Ἐπέγνωμεν is read by ABC Vulg. both Syr. Memph. Rec. Text has ἐπέγνωσαν without any very old authority. E. and T.

Verse 2

Acts 28:2 . Βάρβαροι , the Barbarians ) A word of a middle sense between good and bad, not in itself a name of reproach. Drusius derives it from the Syriac bar , outside: so that barbarus should be said of one who uses an unknown tongue. γὰρ , for ) Much praise is given to their prompt kindness towards strangers, who were many in number, though that kindness did not cost them much.

Verse 3

Acts 28:3 . Συστρέψαντος , when Paul had gathered ) An example of his working with his own hands ( αὐτουργία ): ch. Acts 27:19 . He did the office of a prisoner submissively, helping others also thereby. φρυγάνων , of sticks, brushwood ) in which the viper lay hid in the cold season. τὶ πλῆθος ) τὶ is omitted by more modern copies. [155] ἀπὸ ) ἐκ is the reading of more recent copies. [156] Ἀπὸ τῆς θέρμης , from the heat [ owing to the heat], is considered by Grotius to be clearer. So, saith he, ἀπὸ τοῦ ἰοῦ , ἀπὸ τῆς λύπης , are often used among the Greeks in signifying a cause. καθῆψς ) viz. ἑαυτὴν , attached itself to his hand. See Suicer’s Thesaurus. Presently there follows κρεμάμενον , hanging , Acts 28:4 .

[155] ABC support τί . Vulg. Amiat. MS. omits it. as also later Syr. and Rec. Text. E. and T.

[156] ABC, ἀπό . Rec. Text, ἐκ . E. and T.

Verse 4

Acts 28:4 . Ἔλεγον , they said ) forming a hasty judgment. They saw his chains. φονεὺς , a murderer ) A most inhuman crime, murder, which of all crimes is most openly punished in this life. ἡ δίκη , Vengeance ) They recognise the fact, that there is some vengeance; but they account her as a goddess, and do not know who is ὁ Δίκαιος , the Just avenger . How feeble is the light of nature! ζῆν , to live ) They recognise the law of retribution in kind. οὐκ εἴασεν , hath not suffered ) They suppose Paul to be already dead.

Verse 5

Acts 28:5 . Ἀποτινάξας , having shaken off ) Quintinus Hæduus, in the book concerning the Melitensian war, as quoted in Flacius, observes in this passage, “No poisonous kind of serpent either is born in Melita, or hurts any there, when introduced from elsewhere. The natives of that isle are, as it were, a terror to serpents. Scorpions, a deadly animal elsewhere, are seen harmless in the hands of children in sport. I have seen a person who ate them; which, they say, is due to Paul, when bitten, having shaken off the viper hanging to his finger without hurt. If this be true, subjoins Illyricus , we must no doubt suppose that it is the peculiar blessing of GOD, who, as it were, left an eternal memorial of the Gospel having been preached there, and so many miracles performed; even as the Scripture often testifies that GOD makes lands cither worse or better on account of the sins of men, or even, on the other hand, on account of His own extraordinary compassion. Even as evident experience testifies that the soil and clime itself of Germany, and of all the northern regions, are far milder, and more salubrious and fertile, than they were formerly before the birth of Christ, as is clear from writers worthy of credit,” etc.

Verse 6

Acts 28:6 . Προσεδόκων , they were expecting ) They knew what were wont to be the effects of such bites. μεταβαλλόμενοι , being changed ) The instability of human reasoning is herein showed. He is either an assassin, say they, or a god. So at one time bulls were about to be sacrificed to Paul at Lystra, and presently after stones were thrown at him: ch. Acts 14:13 ; Acts 14:19 . There is a third alternative admissible: he is a man of GOD. As to no class of men do natural men commit greater errors, than as to the saints.

Verse 7

Acts 28:7 . Τοῖς περὶ ) in the locality and in the neighbourhood τῷ πρώτῳ , the chief man ) Publius does not seem to have had official authority, but the leading position which wealth gives. τερῖς ἡμέρας , for three days ) at the first time (at the early part) of our stay at Melita.

Verse 8

Acts 28:8 . Ἐγένετο , It came to pass ) There is described a disease most serious, in respect to the age of the patient and the complication of the maladies. πυρετοῖς , fevers ) A complicated fever; or one of such a kind that he often fell into it. The Plural has this force.

Verse 10

Acts 28:10 . Τὰ πρὸς τὴν χρείαν , such things as were necessary ) after the shipwreck. [Paul afresh was of benefit to his companions. V. g.]

Verse 11

Acts 28:11 . Τρεῖς μῆνας , three months ) So Paul obtained rest: [ and the inhabitants of the island, through Paul, reaped an abundant harvest of blessings. V. g.] παρασήμῳ ) The sign of a ship was in the prow, and it was from it that ships took their names. Διοσκούροις , the Twin-Sons of Jove ) These were Castor and Pollux, or the Castors, esteemed to be sons of Jupiter , whom the sailors thought to be propitious to them.

Verse 13

Acts 28:13 . Περιελθόντες , coasting around ) along the curve. νότου , the south wind ) An appropriate and pleasant termination to their voyage.

Verse 14

Acts 28:14 . Παρεκλήθημεν ἐπʼ αὐτοῖς ) The sight of brethren was a consolation to us [Engl. Vers. takes παρεκλήθημεν differently]; and it led us to stay seven days. Here also the kindness of the centurion gave indulgence to Paul. εἰς τὴν Ῥώμην ἤλθομεν , we came to Rome ) a remarkable place, earnestly wished for. Here there is an Emphasis on τὴν Ῥώμην , (the) Rome , that it may be marked as the city long desired: but in Acts 28:16 , ἤλθομεν εἰς Ῥώμην , we came to Rome , the emphasis is on ἤλθομεν , we came , that the entry itself may be marked.

Verse 15

Acts 28:15 . Οἱ ἀδελφοὶ , the brethren ) Christians. ἀπάντησιν , to meet us) Offices of kindness towards foreigners are implied in προπέμπειν , ἀπαντᾶν , to escort on the way, and to go to meet . ἄχρις , even to ) He met with some in Appii Forum, others afterwards at the Three Taverns. εὐχαριστήσας , having given thanks ) for having obtained his wish, to see Rome: ch. Acts 19:21 ; Romans 1:11 , “For I long to see you;” Acts 15:23 . ἔκαβε θάρσος , took courage ) actively. He saw that Christ is even at Rome. There was not always the same degree of confident energy even in Paul. He already forgets the troubles of his journey. Ammonius says that θράσος is an unreasonable impulse ; but θράσος , a rational impulse .

Verse 16

Acts 28:16 . Τῷ Παύλῳ ) A more recent transcriber has formed a neat paraphrase: ὁ ἑκατόνταρχος παρέδωκε τοὺς δεσμίους τῷ στρατοπεδάρχῃ · τῷ δὲ Παύλῳ , κ . τ . λ . [157] What became of the other prisoners is of no interest to us. We may suppose that Festus had written to Rome in as mild terms as possible; with which comp. ch. 25 and 26 ΚΑΘʼ ἙΑΥΤῸΝ ) by himself , wherever he thought fit. He got a lodging , which he hired , Acts 28:23 ; Acts 28:30 . στρατιώτῃ , a soldier ) who was joined to Paul by a chain, as was the custom, and who might thus continually hear his teaching.

[157] Hence the shorter reading both is declared by the margin of Exodus 2:0 to be the reading better established, and has been received by the Germ. Vers. E. B.

The words ὁ ἑκατόνταρχος στρατοπεδάρχῃ are omitted by AB Vulg. Memph.: and so Lachm. Rec. Text and Tisch. support the words without any very old authority save the later Syr. E. and T.

Verse 17

Acts 28:17 . Μετὰ τρεῖς ἡμέρας , after three days ) which were given to rest and prayer. συγκαλέσασθαι , called together ) to himself, Acts 28:23 . Being bound, he could less conveniently go about to visit them. τῶν Ἰουδαίων πρώτους , the chief of the Jews ) possessed of especial authority among them. He always sought out the Jews in the first instance. οὐδὲν , nothing ) They might have taken up a false suspicion from his very chains: Paul obviates this (anticipates and meets this objection).

Verse 18

Acts 28:18 . Ἐδούλοντο ἀπολῦσαι , were wishing to let me go ) ch. Acts 24:23 , etc.

Verse 19

Acts 28:19 . Ἀντιλεγόντων , when the Jews spake against it) He speaks mildly: for they had tried, by a plot for murdering Paul, to put an end to his speaking in Palestine.

Verse 20

Acts 28:20 . Ἔνεκεν , on account of this) In the beginning he speaks with them as a brother, not as an apostle.

Verse 21

Acts 28:21 . Οὔτε , neither ) It had been the winter time: and Paul had not long before appealed to Cæsar. τῶν ἀδελφῶν , of the brethren ) Jews. ἀπήγγειλεν , hath announced ) professedly and formally. ἐλάλησε , hath spoken ) viz. in every-day conversation.

Verse 22

Acts 28:22 . Γιωστὸν , it is known to us) Paul retorts the expression on them, in Acts 28:28 , “Be it known to you.” πανταχοῦ ἀντιλέγεται , it is everywhere spoken against ) This is the indication of a good cause, rather than of a bad one.

Verse 23

Acts 28:23 . Πείθων , persuading ) most sweetly. ἀπὸ πρωῒ ἕως ἑσπέρας , from morning even till evening ) Who would not wish to have been present?

Verse 24

Acts 28:24 . Ἐπείθοντο , some assented [believed]) with the understanding and the will. And so others ἠπίστουν , believed not .

Verse 25

Acts 28:25 . Ὄντες , when they were not agreeing) viz. the Jews. πρὸς ἀλλήλους ) among themselves . ἀπελύοντο , they departed ) The middle voice. εἰποντος , Paul having spoken ) in reference to them, as they were going away. ἕν ) one word, which was in the highest degree appropriate and serious. [Often from one word or deed one lays hold of occasion for starting back from what is good: nay, indeed, this very thing happens to all, who, though they hear the word, are not saved. Most lamentable turning-points in the history of such persons! V. g.]

Verse 26

Acts 28:26 . Πορεύθητι , go ) This verb Paul might apply to himself: for he had just come to Rome.

Verse 27

Acts 28:27 . Καὶ ἰάσομαι , and I shall [should] heal them ) The indicative after the subjunctive; concerning which com? the note on Mark 3:27 , ἐὰν μὴ δήσῃ , καὶ τότε διαρπάσει . And the former (the indicative) is the better established here, because in Isaiah the Hebrew accent makes the fullest stop of the hemistich after ἐπιστρέψωσι , should be converted [and so ἰάσομαι becomes distinguished from the contingent relation of the previous verbs, and is made a positive assertion].

Verse 28

Acts 28:28 . Τοῖς ἔθνεσιν , to the Gentiles ) whose capital was Rome. He had declared to the contumacious Jews his going to the Gentiles, at Antioch, ch. Acts 13:46 ; at Corinth, ch. Acts 18:6 ; and now in the third instance at Rome; and so also in Asia, Greece, and Italy. ἀπεστάλη , is sent ) by the apostle. Before this time no apostle, not even Peter, had come to Rome. τὸ σωτήριον τοῦ Θεοῦ , the salvation of God ) The root of the name Jesus . Comp. note, Luke 3:6 ; Luke 2:30 . αὐτοὶ , these very persons) although ye will not hear it. καὶ ) even : not only is it sent to them, [but also they will hear it.] ἀκούσονται , they will hear ) The Jews ought to have repented by reason of the event of this very prediction.

Verse 29

Acts 28:29 . Πολλὴν , much ) as persons are wont, who are unable to resist the truth.

Verse 30

Acts 28:30 . Ἕμεινε δὲ , but Paul remained ) whatever the Jews might think of his so doing. διετίαν ὅλην ) the very two years , after which had elapsed this book was written; having been published long before the martyrdom of Paul, and without doubt by the wish of Paul. Luke was with Paul also at the last time (in the prison at Rome just before Paul’s martyrdom), 2 Timothy 4:11 . “Perhaps Luke was meditating a third book, in which he would repeat the acts of those two years: even as in Acts 1:0 he set forth some things which were not narrated in the last chapter of the Gospel.” Estius . πάντας , all ) without distinction of nation.

Verse 31

Acts 28:31 . Βασιλείαν , the kingdom ) in the very seat of the empire (kingdom) of the whole earth. So presently, περὶ τοῦ Κυρίου , concerning the Lord . Comp. Acts 28:23 . The mention of the kingdom had been a matter of odium in the eyes of Pilate: now Rome bears its being publicly stated. παῤῥησίας , confidence ) internally. ἀκωλύτως , without hindrance ) externally, after having overcome so many hindrances. The Victory of the Word of God. Paul at Rome forms the climax (crowning point) of the Gospel preaching, and the end of the Acts; which Luke otherwise ( 2Ti 4:11 ) might have easily brought on to the death of Paul. He began at Jerusalem; he ends at Rome. [And at the close of this very period of two years the fourth thousand years from the Creation of the world was completed. V. g.] Thou hast, O Church, thy form given to thee. It is thine to preserve it, and to keep the deposit committed to thee. In the Old Testament, Isaiah, the volume of the Twelve Prophets, Ecclesiastes and Lamentations, have a close threatening and severe; whence the Jews are wont to subjoin the penultimate verses, of a more joyful character, without the vowel points. But in the system of the books of the New Testament all the endings of books have all that is favourable and joyous. [158]

[158] Bengel, J. A. (1860). Vol. 2 : Gnomon of the New Testament (M. E. Bengel & J. C. F. Steudel, Ed.) (A. R. Fausset, Trans.) (692 732). Edinburgh: T&T Clark.

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Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Acts 28". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.