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1 And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita.
Ver. 1. And when they were escaped ] Some of them escaped perhaps as narrowly as did Sir Thomas Challoner, who when he was young, served under Charles V in the expedition of Algiers; where being shipwrecked, after he had swam till his strength and his arms failed him, at the length catching hold of a cable with his teeth, he escaped, not without the loss of some of his teeth. He was afterwards knighted for his valour at Mussleborough field, and died A. D. 1566. (Camd. Britan.)
2 And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.
Ver. 2. And the barbarous people ] So the Grecians (and afterwards the Romans) called all other nations besides themselves. But now the Grecians, having lost their ancient liberty and glory, by means of the Turkish oppression, are become no less barbarous than those rude nations whom they before scorned. Which misery, with a thousand more, they may justly impute to their own ambition and discord.
3 And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand.
Ver. 3. And fastened on his hand ] Thus, many are the troubles of the righteous; but out of them all the Lord delivereth them. No country hath more venomous creatures than Egypt, none more antidotes; so godliness hath many troubles, and as many helps against trouble. The devil’s design here was to have destroyed Paul, but he was deceived. So he desired to have Peter, Luke 22:31 , sc. to hell, but that was more than he could do.
4 And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live.
Ver. 4. Yet vengeance suffereth not, &c. ] Nemo scelus gerit in pectore, qui non idem habet Nemesin in tergo. The fall of Blackfriars slew nearly a hundred, whereof two were priests; a third having taken water, together with many others that had escaped, purposing to go into Flanders, were drowned at London bridge shortly after, the boat being overturned.
5 And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.
Ver. 5. And he shook off the beast ] So should we do false and slanderous reports; or rather make a good use of them; as the skilful apothecary of the flesh of this poisonous beast makes a wholesome theriacle ( θηριακα ), or treacle, a as we call it.
And felt no harm ] No more did Queen Elizabeth, when Squier, the traitor, sent by Walpool the Jesuit, had poisoned the pummel of her saddle. The vigour of the poison (said the Jesuit) is such as neither continuance of times nor subtilty of air could check or unvirtuate. And yet, albeit the season were hot, and the veins open to receive any malign tinture, her body thereupon felt no distemperature, nor her hand felt no more hurt (saith Speed) than Paul’s did when he shook off the viper into the fire.
a A medicinal compound, originally a kind of salve, composed of many ingredients, formerly in repute as an alexipharmic against and antidote to venomous bites, poisons generally, and malignant diseases. Obs. ŒD
6 Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.
Ver. 6. That he should have swollen ] Or, have been inflamed, πιμπρασθαι , viz. with the viper’s venom. The devil’s darts are called fiery for the dolour and distemper they work, Ephesians 6:16 ; in allusion likely to the poisoned darts that the Scythians of old and other nations now use in war, dipped in the blood and gall of vipers, the venomous heat of which, like a fire in their flesh, killed the wounded with torments; the likest hell of any other, saith one. These fiery darts sting the wicked, as the fiery serpents did the Israelites. The saints shake them off without hurt, though not always without smart.
7 In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously.
Ver. 7. Who received us and lodged us three days courteously ] Gr. φιλοφρονως , of a friendly mind. As he is the best Christian that is most humble, so is he the truest gentleman that is most courteous. And as fair flowers in the spring draw passengers’ eyes, so doth courtesy in high degrees win men’s affections.
8 And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him.
Ver. 8. Sick of a fever ] Which hath its name both in Greek and Latin from the fire that is in it, πυρετος . Febris a fervore. The difference is not so great whether a man broil in the bed, or at a stake by frying a faggot: fear it not.
9 So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed:
Ver. 9. Came and were healed ] On both sides (likely), and hence their forwardness and freeheartedness,Acts 28:10; Acts 28:10 .
10 Who also honoured us with many honours; and when we departed, they laded us with such things as were necessary.
Ver. 10. Who also honoured us ] Perraro grati reperiuntur, saith Cicero. A thankful man is worth his weight in gold, saith Mr Ward. The Italian hath a proverb, Seiapato il morbo, fraudato il santo; when the disease is departed, the saint is defrauded, viz. of the honour that was vowed to be done to him. Not so here.
11 And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux.
Ver. 11. Whose sign was Castor and Pollux ] Seamen say that if these two stars arise not together, it is a sign of an ensuing tempest. Dissension is a forerunner of destruction.
12 And landing at Syracuse, we tarried there three days.
Ver. 12. Syracuse ] The metropolis of Sicily, where lived and died that famous mathematician Archimedes; who by his art so long held out the city against Marcellus the Roman general, that beleaguered it. (Plut.)
13 And from thence we fetched a compass, and came to Rhegium: and after one day the south wind blew, and we came the next day to Puteoli:
Ver. 13. Came to Rhegium ] Which hath its name of breaking, from ρηγνυμι , rumpo; because, say some, there the sea broke off Sicily from Italy, which was before but one continent. The like they report concerning France and England.
14 Where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days: and so we went toward Rome.
Ver. 14. Seven days ] For mutual enjoyment of one another; there being no such comfort upon earth, next to communion with God, as the communion of saints, 2 John 1:12 , that our joy may be full. This, heathens knew, and therefore relegated Christians and confined them to isles and mines, where they could not have access one to another. (Cyprian, Epist.)
15 And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage.
Ver. 15. They came to meet us ] So Paul entered Rome as a long-looked-for triumpher.
16 And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him.
Ver. 16. Paul was suffered to dwell ] So Bradford, prisoner in the King’s Bench, was in so good credit with his keeper, that he had license to go all about the city without a keeper, &c. Yea, to ride into Oxfordshire to a merchant’s house of his acquaintance, &c.
17 And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.
Ver. 17. After three days ] Ministers should free themselves as much and as soon as may be from sinister suspicions. For they must never think to do good on those that have conceived an incurable prejudice against them.
18 Who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me.
Ver. 18. Because there was no cause ] See Acts 25:25 .
19 But when the Jews spake against it , I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar; not that I had ought to accuse my nation of.
Ver. 19. To accuse my nation of ] But to defend Christ’s cause and mine own innocence, with as little reflex on the Jews as may be. It is an ill business to defame a whole nation (one’s own especially), as Scaliger, that proud hypercritic, who gave this base and unmannerly character, Gothi belluae, Scoti non minus, Angli perfidi, inflati, feri, contemptores, stolidi, amentes, inertes, inhospitales, immanes. The Goths are beasts, so are the Scots. As for the English, they are perfidious, proud, fierce, scornful, fools, madmen, sluggards, inhospitable, cruel.
20 For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you , and to speak with you : because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.
Ver. 20. For the hope of Israel ] That is, for the resurrection of the dead and that eternal life that Israel hopes and looks for. Hallucinantur philosophi, qui sapientem non metu solum sed et spe vacare vellent. Spes in terrenis incerti nomen boni, spes in divinis nomen est certissimi,Hebrews 11:1; Hebrews 11:1 . Hope in God, saith every David to himself, Psalms 43:5 .
I am bound with this chain ] At Rome, such prisoners as had liberty to go abroad, had a long chain, the one end whereof was fastened to their right hand, and the other end was tied to a soldier’s left hand, who was to be his keeper. Thus was St Paul bound, likely.
21 And they said unto him, We neither received letters out of Judaea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came shewed or spake any harm of thee.
Ver. 21. We neither received letters ] Not because the priests and elders were now grown better minded toward Paul than they were wont to be (for malice is like the crocodile, that groweth as long as it liveth; and, as we used to say of cheeze, the older it is, the stronger), but that they could not so well deal with him at such a distance; and besides, being so far off them, he could be no such eye sore to them.
22 But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against.
Ver. 22. Everywhere it is spoken against ] Nomen in Christianis damnabatur, non crimen, saith Tertullian. When Attalus the martyr was put to death at Lyons, a table was set up over his head with this inscription, Hic est Attalus Christianus, This is Attalus the Christian; that was all they had to charge him with. So when Polycarp was martyred, all the crime objected against him was that he confessed himself to be a Christian. Nero made this cruel edict, Whosoever confessed himself to be a Christian, let him be presently put to death without any more ado, as a convicted enemy of mankind. a
a Sine ulteriore sui defensione capite plectitur.
23 And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.
Ver. 23. There came into his lodging ] Tertullian telleth us that it was forbidden the primitive Christians by a public statute, to have temples or places of public meetings. It is yet better with us, blessed be God. We have, as Joseph provided them in Egypt, a granary or storehouse in every city, and village for the most part.
24 And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.
Ver. 24. And some believed not ] The word, as Moses, slays the Egyptian, saves the Israelite. It is to some the savour of life, to others of death, as Obededom was blessed for the ark, the Philistines cursed.
25 And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers,
Ver. 25. And when they agreed not ] They jarred. It is a metaphor from musical instruments that make no harmony, ασυμφωνοι .
Had spoken one word ] A terrible stinging word, that would stick in their souls and flesh, as the envenomed arrows of the Almighty, throughout all eternity.
26 Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:
Ver. 26. Hearing, ye shall hear, &c. ] A heavy ear is a singular judgment. Antagoras, cum Thebaidos librum apud Boeotos recitaret, nec quisquam recitanti applauderet, complicato volumine, Merito, inquit, Boeoti vocamini, quia boum habetis aures. (Erasm. Chiliad.) The Greeks have a proverb, Asino quispiam narrabat fabulam, ac ille movebat aures.
Seeing, ye shall see ] Speculatively.
And not perceive ] i.e. Practically, as given over for their wilfulness to spiritual blindness.
27 For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
Ver. 27. Is waxed gross ] "Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in thy law," saith David, Psalms 119:70 . Naturalists tell us that fat-hearted men are dull-witted. Γαστηρ παχεια λεπτον ου τικτει νοον . It is a heavy case when men have got a kind of hoof over their hearts, callum obductum, corneas fibras, brawny breasts, horny heart strings.
Their eyes have they closed ] Gr. εκαμμυσαν . They have winked, they shut the windows, lest the light should come in. Ut liberius peccent, libenter ignorant, saith Bernard. Sponte quidem reluctantur veritati, non tamen fortuito, saith Beza.
28 Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.
Ver. 28. That the salvation of God ] i.e. The gospel, that "grace of God that bringeth salvation," Titus 2:11 , and is the power of God to salvation to as many as believe,Romans 1:16; Romans 1:16 ; therefore called the word of this life, that is able to save souls; and hath heaven in it, potentially, as the kernel hath the tree, or the seed the harvest.
29 And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves.
Ver. 29. Had great reasoning, &c. ] It is not the gospel, but the contempt of the gospel, that breedeth questions and quarrellings.
30 And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him,
Ver. 30. And received all that came in unto him ] Being a genuine child of the Church, set forth by that πανδοχειον , Luke 10:34 , that inn that receives and helps all sin-sick visitors. Christ himself (saith one) was therefore born in an inn, to signify that in the Church there is lodging for all. Let our houses be little churches and receptacles for the righteous, as Paul’s was, Colossians 2:5 ; so that a stranger coming thither, may behold our holy order, and say, as Jacob did of Bethel, "This is the house of God, this is the gate of heaven," Genesis 28:17 .
31 Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.
Ver. 31. Preaching the kingdom, &c. ] Mr Bradford, during the time of his imprisonment, preached twice a day continually, unless sickness hindered him; where also the sacrament was often ministered. And through his means (the keeper so well did bear with him) such resort of good people was daily at his lecture, and ministration of the sacrament, that commonly his chamber was well nigh filled.
" Deus dedit his quoque finem. "
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Acts 28". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29