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Bible Commentaries
Acts 13

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

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Verse 1

And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.

1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

Now there were, … — Bishop Ridley expounded the Acts and Paul’s Epistles every morning in his family, giving to every man a New Testament, hiring them besides with money to learn by heart certain principal chapters, but especially this thirteenth chapter of the Acts.

Herod’s foster brotherPuer collactaneus, συντροφος , one that had sucked of the same milk with Herod Antipas, who beheaded the Baptist. The love of foster brothers in Ireland (saith Camden) far surpasseth all the loves of all men. But Manaen hated all for Christ.

Verse 2

As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.

As they ministered — λειτουργαυντων . The Greek Scholiast hath it, κηρυττοντων , "as they preached," which is the chief office of a minister, and his highest honour. Others interpret it, "as they prayed," so the Syriac and Arabic. The Papists only, "as they sacrificed," to countenance their abominable idol of the mass.

Verse 3

And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

Laid their hands on them — So separating and consecrating them to the work, as they did of old the beast for sacrifice, by laying their hands thereon.

Verse 4

So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.

Sailed to Cyprus — This island was anciently for its wealth called Macaria, that is, The Blessed. The people therein generally lived so at ease and pleasure, that thereof the island was dedicated to Venus, who was at Paphos especially worshipped, and much filthiness committed; yet thither are these apostles directed by the Holy Ghost, and a great man (with many others) converted to the faith. The Romans were invited by the wealth of the place to overrun it, Ita ut ius eius insulae avarius magis quam iustius simus assequuti, saith Sextus Rufus. But Christ (of his free grace) without any such motive, seized upon it by his gospel, and gathered a Church in it.

Verse 5

And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister.

At Salamis — A city of Cyprus, at the east side of it, over against Syria.

Verse 6

And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus:

Whose name was Barjesus — The son of Jesus; so he had called himself, as if of nearest alliance to our Saviour. The Syriac hath it Barshuma, the son of name or renown.

Verse 7

Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.

Which was with the deputy — The greater opposites to the truth have been ever the greatest courtiers. The Arians in their age. And of them the Jesuits learned it, and of them the Arminians, as Utenbogardus in the Low Countries, and Canterbury here.

Verse 8

But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.

But Elymas — Elymais is a part of Persia, the proper country of the magicians given to devilish arts. The devil daily commits the sin against the Holy Ghost, by opposing the known truth.

Verse 9

Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him,

Who also is called Paul — Here Saul is first called Paul, for memory (it is probable) of the first spoils he brought into the Church, not the head, but the heart of this Sergius Paulus. The popes likewise change their names at their enthronization, to show, saith the Gloss, ad permutationem nominis, factam mutationem hominis. But if they change at all, it is for the worse, as Pius Secundus, Sextus Quintus, & c. Pope Marcellus would needs retain his old name, to show his constancy, and that in his private estate he had thoughts worthy of the popedom.

Set his eyes on him — As if he would have looked through him. After which lightning followed that terrible thunder crack,Acts 13:10; Acts 13:10 . Bajazet, of his fiery looks, was surnamed Gilderun, or lightning. In Tamerlane’s eyes sat such a rare majesty, as a man could hardly endure to behold them without closing his own; and many with talking with him, and often beholding them, became dumb. The like is reported of Augustus. And of St Basil it is reported that when Valens the Arian emperor came unto him, while he was in his holy exercises, it struck such a terror into the emperor that he reeled and had fallen had he not been upheld by those that were near him. Greg. Orat. de Laudib. Basilii. Godly men have a daunting presence.

Verse 10

And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?

O full of all subtilty and all mischief — Gr. ραδιουργια , maleficiency, thou that by long dealing hast gotten a dexterity in evil doing. This was plain dealing, such as Master Philpot, martyr, used to Morgan, and other popelings that set upon him; such as Maris, the blind bishop of Bithynia, used to Julian the Apostate. For when Julian had said to him, Behold, thou art blind; thinkest thou that the Galilean thy God careth for thee? Maris replied, O tu impie Apostata! gratias ago Deo meo, qui me caecum reddidit, ne vultum tuum videam ita ad impietatem prolapsum: O thou wicked apostate! I bless my Lord Christ who hath made me blind, that I might not see thy cursed countenance. When Servetus condemned Zuinglius for his harsh handling of him, he answers, In aliis mansuetus ero; in blasphemiis in Christum non ita: In other things I will use mildness, but not in dealing with those that blaspheme Christ. Epist. in Servet. Mihi sane Auxentius erit diabolus quamdiu Arianus, said Hilary, I shall think Auxentias to be no better than a devil so long as he continues an Arian.

Enemy of all righteousness — The adulterer is an enemy to chastity, the drunkard to sobriety, …, but he that hindereth others from heaven is an enemy to all righteousness.

To pervert the right ways — To dig them up, to ditch them over ( διαστρεφων ), so as they are not passable. The conversion of great men is of great consequence. Hence Paul was so loth to lose the proconsul.

Verse 11

And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.

Not seeing the sun — A philosopher being asked whether it were not a pleasant thing to see the sun? answered, that is τυφλου το ερωτημα , a blind man’s question. Life without light is a lifeless life.

Verse 12

Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.

Being astonished, … — The word worketh not kindly till it be received with admiration.

Verse 13

Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.

John departing from — Being weary of the work, he showed them a slippery trick. Many will do something for God that will suffer little or nothing for him. The king of Navarre told Beza he would launch no further into the sea than he would be sure to return safe to the haven. Pelago non ita commissurus esset, quin quando liberet, pedem referre posset. Though he showed some countenance to religion, yet he would be sure to save himself.

Verse 14

But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down.

They sat down — Bullinger’s note here is very good. Non importune nec impudenter se ingerunt Paulus et Barnabas, nec more Anabaptistarum clamitant, Audite verbum Domini, poenitentiam agile; sed silentes expectant dicendi occasionem. Paul and Barnabas do not importunately and impudently thrust themselves into the pulpit, nor do they cry out (after the manner of the Anabaptists), Hear the word of the Lord, repent of your sins, …, but they wait in silence for a fit opportunity, and till they are called to speak.

Verse 15

And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.

And after the reading — In the synagogues, the Scripture was first read, and then opened and applied; so it ought to be in the Christian churches.

If ye have any word of exhortationSee Trapp on " Acts 9:15 "

Verse 16

Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.

And ye that fear God — This is the proper character of an Israelite indeed.

Verse 17

The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it.

Chose our fathers — Separating them by a wonderful separation, as the Hebrew word signifieth, Exodus 33:16 .

Verse 18

And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness.

Suffered he their manners — ετροποφορησεν , As a mother bears with her child’s frowardness; or as a husband bears with his wife’s crossness, which yet he liketh not, Uxoris vitium, aut tollendum nut tolerandum, saith Varro in Agellius.

Verse 19

And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot.

And when he had destroyed seven nations — Who had "filled the land from one end to another with their uncleanness," Ezra 9:11 ; so that God was forced to sweep it with the besom of destruction; like as, before that, the face of the old world was grown so foul that God was fain to wash it with a flood.

Verse 20

And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.

About the space, … — It was not all out so long; therefore he saith, "about the space," ωσει ; thereby teaching us in doubtful things to deliver ourselves doubtfully, and not to be overconfident. See John 4:6 .

Verse 21

And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years.

By the space of forty years — Taking into the account the days of Samuel’s government.

Verse 22

And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.

Fulfil all my will — Gr. θεληματα "all my wills," to note the universality and sincerity of his obedience. We should therefore strive to do all the wills of God, because we have done heretofore all the wills of the flesh, Ephesians 2:2 .

Verse 23

Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus:

A Saviour, Jesus — The Greek word here rendered Saviour is so emphatic, that other tongues can hardly find a fit word to express it, as Cicero noteth. Sotera inscriptum vidi Syracusis. Hoc quantum est? Ita magnum ut Latino nno verbo exprimi non possit.

Verse 24

When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.

The baptism of repentanceSee Trapp no " Luke 3:3 "

Verse 25

And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he . But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose.

John fulfilled his course — From this word ( δρομον ) rendered "course," the dromedary hath his name, who is marvellously swift, and will run a hundred miles a day. But the Germans call a dull and slow man a dromedary, per antiphrasin. (Minshew.)

Verse 26

Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.

The word of this salvation — Salvation is potentially in the word, as the harvest is in the seed.

Verse 27

For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him .

Read every sabbath — Many live in places of great knowledge, and yet remain grossly ignorant, understand no more what they read or hear than a cowherd doth the most abstruse precepts of astronomy.

Verse 28

And though they found no cause of death in him , yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain.

See Trapp on " Matthew 27:22 "

Verse 29

And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.

And when they had fulfilled — Though no thank to them, no excuse to their wickedness. Divinum consilium dum devitatur, impletur. But whereas all is fulfilled that was foretold, that plainly proves that Jesus was the Christ, and that our redemption by Christ was a plot of God’s own laying.

Verse 30

But God raised him from the dead:

See Trapp on " Matthew 28:6 "

Verse 31

And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people.

Who are his witnesses to the people — Of our Saviour’s resurrection there were many witnesses, both living (as the angels, the women, the soldiers, the apostles, those 500 brethren at once, 1 Corinthians 15:6 ) and dead (such as were the earthquake, the empty grave, the stone rolled away, the clothes wrapt up together, …), and all little enough. But "why should it be thought a thing incredible that God should raise the dead?" Acts 26:8 . See Trapp on " Acts 26:8 "

Verse 32

And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers,

And we declare unto you glad tidings — Even the sum of all the good news in the world, and that which should swallow up all discontents. The old Church had επαγγελιαν , the promise only; but we now have ευαγγελιαν , the joyful tidings, good news from heaven.

Verse 33

God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

In the second Psalm — Erasmus testifieth, that some ancient copies here have it, "in the first Psalm;" either because the first and second were of old but one Psalm, or because the first is not properly a Psalm, but a preface to the Psalms; like as the 119th Psalm is set (saith one) as a poem of commendation before the book of God, mentioning it in every verse, testimonies, laws, statutes, word, …

This day have I begotten thee — That is, I have this day of thy manifestation in the flesh made known that thou art my Son, as well by my testimony of thee as by thine assumption of humun nature.

Verse 34

And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.

To return to corruption — That is, to the grave, that house of corruption; which yet the Hebrews call Beth chajim, the house of the living, because of the promise "thy dead men shall live," … The Germans call the place of burial God’s Acre, because the dead body, though sown there in corruption, yet riseth again in incorruption.

Verse 35

Wherefore he saith also in another psalm , Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

See Trapp on " Acts 2:31 "

Verse 36

For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:

After he had servedMartinus decumbens, Domino, dixit, si adhuc populo tuo sum necessarius, non recuso laborem. Lord, serve thyself upon me, and then let me depart in peace. (Sever. Epist. iii.)

Verse 37

But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.

Saw no corruption — No consumption of the flesh, much less of the bones too, καταφθοραν ; only he saw φθοραν , a separation of soul and body for a season, διαφθοραν ; though neither soul nor body was at all by death sundered from the Deity. But as a man that draws a knife, and holds still the knife in one hand and the sheath in the other, the knife and sheath are separated the one from the other, but neither of them is sundered from him that holdeth them, so here.

Verse 38

Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:

Be it known unto you thereforeq.d. It is a shame for any not to take knowledge of this which is so fundamental. Of other things a man may be ignorant without danger of damnation; but not of this. This is a principal piece of Quicunque vult.

Verse 39

And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

And by him all that believe are justified — This saying of St Paul is the more to be heeded, saith an interpreter, because it is the very basis, foundation, and state of Christian religion, whereby it is distinguished from all other religions whatsoever. Jews, Turks, Pagans, and Papists explode an imputed righteousness; as if we could not be justified by the righteousness of Christ apprehended by faith. The Papists (as Saul) forbid us to eat of this honey, this precious comfort in Christ (viz. justification by faith alone), as if hereby we should be hindered in our pursuit against sin; whereas indeed it is the only strength and help against it. Hold fast therefore the faithful word; and transmit this doctrine safe and sound to posterity. It was Luther’s great fear, that when he was dead it would be lost again out of the world.

Verse 40

Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets;

Beware therefore lest — Ministers must mix law and gospel together in their discourses. Sour and sweet make the best sauce.

Verse 41

Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.

Behold, ye despisers — These the Scripture makes to be the worst sort of men; those that jeer when they should fear, and despise what they should give greatest regard unto; hell even gapes for such, though they will not be persuaded so, till it be all too late; as Pliny saith of moles, that they begin not to see till pangs of death are upon them. He that despiseth his way shall perish, saith Solomon.

Verse 42

And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.

The Gentiles besought — Where a powerful ministry is settled, there some souls are to be converted. A master that sets up a light hath some work to be done thereby.

Be preached to them the next sabbath — Or in the interim between the two sabbaths. A warrant for week day lectures, Intra proxime sequens sabbatum, interiectum tempus significatur, saith Beza.

Verse 43

Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.

To continue in the grace — The end is better than the beginning, saith Solomon. Non quaeruntur in Christianis initia sed finis, saith Jerome.

Verse 44

And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.

And the next sabbath day — The apostles had been busy with them on the foregoing week days, the better to prepare them to hear with profit on the sabbath, that queen of days, as the Hebrews call it.

Verse 45

But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.

Contradicting and blaspheming — Intemperate tongues cause God many times to take away the word.

Verse 46

Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.

But seeing ye put it from you — Gr. απωεθισθε . Ye shove and thrust it from you, as it were with sides and shoulders; noting their desperate incredulity and obstinace. And this was the very period of that day of grace spoken of by our Saviour, Luke 19:42 ; "Oh, if thou hadst known, at the least in thy day," … Now that the offer was made so fully and clearly, how could they escape that neglected so great salvation?

Verse 47

For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying , I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.

I have set thee — This, spoken at first to Christ, is here applied to his messengers and ministers, who are labourers together with Christ, 1 Corinthians 3:9 , and are in Scripture called both lights and saviours, Matthew 5:14 ; Obadiah 1:21 1 Timothy 4:16 .

Verse 48

And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.

Glorified in the word — That is, received it into their hearts (as some copies read this text, εδεξαντο ), suffering it to indwell richly in them (as becometh such a guest), Colossians 3:16 ; yea, to rule and bear sway, yielding thereunto the obedience of faith, which is the greatest honour that can be done to the word; as the contrary is, to despise prophesying, 1 Thessalonians 5:19 , to cast God’s word behind our backs, Psalms 50:17 , to trample on it; which the very Jews and Turks are so far from, that they carefully take up any paper that lieth on the ground, lest it should be any part of the Scripture, or have the name of God written in it. (Paraeus, Proleg. in Gen.)

As many as were ordained, … — Election therefore is the fountain, whence faith floweth; men are not elected of faith foreseen, and because they believe, as the Arminians would have it.

Verse 49

And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.

And the word of the Lord — It ran and was glorified, as the apostle hath it. So fitly is it compared to leaven, for its spreading property, Matthew 13:33 . See Trapp on " Matthew 13:33 "

Verse 50

But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.

The devout and honourable womenSatan per costam tanquam per scalam ad cor ascendit. (Gregory.) The devil breaketh many a man’s head with his own rib. When the hen is suffered to crow, much evil ensueth. Satan makes use of women still to hinder men from heaven.

But the Jews — Stirred up by Satan, who cannot brook the dilatation of Christ’s curtains.

Verse 51

But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.

See Trapp on " Matthew 10:14 "

Verse 52

And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.

With joy, and with the Holy Ghost — There must needs be music in the Spirit’s temple, and at that continual feast: its deserts are the assurance of heaven, as Father Latimer phraseth it. 2 Thessalonians 3:1 ; Proverbs 15:15 .

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Acts 13". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/acts-13.html. 1865-1868.
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