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Paul and Barnabas are chosen to go to the Gentiles. Of Sergius Paulus, and Elymas the sorcerer. Paul preacheth at Antioch, that Jesus is Christ. The Gentiles believe; but the Jews gainsay, and blaspheme: whereupon they turn to the Gentiles.
Anno Domini 45.
Acts 13:1. Now there were in the church—at Antioch— The last verse of the foregoing chapter ought to have been the first of this; for ch. Act 12:24 finishes the history of Herod's death, and the effects which it had upon the Christian church; and then, Acts 13:25 a new history is begun, which is carried on in the present chapter. Some have conjectured that Niger mentioned in this verse, was Simon the Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus, who was compelled to bear the cross after Christ; for it is very probable that he was called, Niger, as being of a tawny or black complexion, as the Africans generally are. The only objection to this is, that Lucius, who is next mentioned, is called a Cyrenian by way of distinction from the other, as if he had been the only Cyrenian there present. But this Simon, called Niger, might be a native of some other part of Africa. Whoever he was, the Romans most probably had given him the surname of Niger. This is one instance out of many, of St. Luke's Latinizing, where he preserves even the Latin termination. Manaen, probably, from the circumstance here mentioned, was a person of some rank and condition. Josephus mentions one Manaen, an Essene, who had foretold to Herod the Great, while he was a boy, that he should be a king, and who was afterwards in high favour with him; and some have thought this was his son.
Acts 13:2. For the work whereunto I have called them.— If there be any reference to a pastfact in these words, it is probably to some revelation personally made to Paul and Barnabas, to signify that they should take a journey into several counties of Asia Minor, to preach the gospel there. See ch. Acts 11:20-21.
Acts 13:4. Sent forth by the Holy Ghost,— This seems to be added to remind us, that though they were solemnly recommended to God by the prayers of their brethren, theirauthority was not derived from them, but from the Holy Ghost; and consequently affords a further proof of the miraculous conversion of St. Paul. See the Inferences on ch. 9: Selucia lay fifteen miles below Antioch, upon the same river, the Orontes, and was five miles from the place where that river falls into the sea. It had its name from Seleucus Nicator, by whom it was built. From hence they sailed to the island of Cyprus, situated in the eastern part of the Mediterranean sea, being the native country of Barnabas. As this island was not far from Judea, it abounded with Jews. The first place which they arrived at in that island, was the city Salamis, which lay upon the eastern extremity, and was one of the nighest ports to Syria. See the next note.
Acts 13:6-8. Paphos,— The city of Paphos was seated on the western extremity of the island of Cyprus, and famous among the Heathens for the temple and obscene worship of the Paphian Venus. There resided Sergius Paulus, the Roman proconsul, who was a man of good understanding, and well disposed to receive the truth, and obey it; and as he had heard of the character of these two apostles, and, very probably, some imperfect rumour of the Christian religion, he sent for them, and desired that they would give him an account of the Christian doctrine. As he was the first of the idolatrous Gentiles, to whom the gospel was ever preached, Barnabas and Saul did not go to offer it to him; buthe sent for them, as Cornelius, the first-fruits of the devout Gentiles, sent for St. Peter; requesting it as a favour, that he might hear them preach the gospel. But with the proconsul there was one of the magi, a false prophet of the nation of the Jews, whose name was Bar-jesus. He had a great influence over the governor; and when this Bar-jesus (who was otherwise called Elymas, which in the Arabic tongue signifies the magician,) found that the proconsul was inclined to hear and embrace the Christian doctrine; he secretly, and with all his might, endeavoured to dissuade him from it. St. Paul soon detected his malice and wickedness, and severely reprimanded him, denouncing against him the approaching judgments of God; just as St. Peter had reprimanded the hypocrisy and wickedness of Simon the magian, or magician, and by his apostolic power inflicted death upon Ananias and Sapphira for their fraud and lying.
Acts 13:9. Saul, (who also is called Paul,)— The reasons which have been assigned for Saul's taking the name of Paul, are various and many. Some think that he had the name of Paul given him from converting Sergius Paulus, as Scipio was called Africanus from his conquering Africa, and as other Romans had names given them from subduing other countries. Others suppose that he had received at his circumcision the two names of Paul and Saul; that is, Paul as his Roman name, for he was born a freeman of Rome;—and Saul, as his Jewish name; for he was a Jew, and even an Hebrew of the Hebrews. As therefore he used to be called Saul, while he continued among the Jews, that being a more common and acceptable name among them; so henceforth, being to go among the Gentiles, he took the name of Paul, as one which would be better known, and more acceptable to them. For the same reason Silas, who was afterwards St. Paul's great companion, appears to have had also the name of Sylvanus, and to have gone by the former name among the Jews, and by the latter among the Romans; for he seems to have been a freeman of Rome, as well as St. Paul. Beza thinks, that St.Paul having conversed hitherto chiefly with Jews and Syrians, to whom the name of Saul was familiar, and now coming among Greeks and Romans, they would naturally pronounce his name Paul; as one whose Hebrew name was Jochanan, would be called by the Greeks and Latins, Johannes, by the French Jean, by the Dutch Hans, and by the English John; and he thinks that the family of this proconsul might be the first who addressed or spoke to him by the name of Paul.
Acts 13:13. Now when Paul and his company— It is observable, that from this period St. Luke generally mentions Paul before Barnabas, whereas he had hitherto always mentioned him last: nay, in reckoning up the five, who were prophets and teachers in the church at Antioch, he put Barnabas the first, and Saul last; because very probably Barnabas was one of the oldest, andSaul the youngest convert among them: but now, when he became so eminent an apostle, as not to come a whit behind the chief of the apostles, he is mentioned the first, as the principal person of the history, and the most honoured of them all. Loosing with the rest of his company from Paphos, they sailed, most probably, up the river Cestrus, to Perga, a town of Pamphylia, not far from the coast of Asia Minor, near to which was a temple dedicated to Diana. There seems to have been neither a Jewish synagogue, nor proseucha in that town; for we read nothing of their attempting to preach the gospel there at this time. But there it was that John Mark left them, and went back to Jerusalem; as supposing perhaps that St. Peter, in whose company he seems to have delighted most, might be returned thither; especially as king Herod was dead, who had made such an attempt upon the life of that apostle. Whether Mark made any scruple of receiving the idolatrous Gentiles into the Christian church, or was discouraged by the dangers and difficulties of such an attempt; or was prevailed upon to return merely out of his extraordinary regard and affection for St. Peter, cannot now be determined with any certainty.
Acts 13:14-15. But when they departed from Perga, &c.— From Perga, Paul and Barnabas went further into the country, and came to Antioch, a considerable city in the district of Pisidia; which lay north of Pamphylia, and consequently further from the sea. The situation of this place is particularized by the sacred writer, to intimate how carefullyit should be distinguished from Antioch in Syria, so much more frequently mentioned in this history. The apostles, as was usual, entered into the Jewish synagogue at Antioch on the sabbath-day, and sat down most probably in the chairs of the doctors, to intimate their errand. The ancient Jews had divided the law into fifty-three or fifty-four sections, and the prophets into as many; and by usually reading a section of each every sabbath-day, and joining two of the shortest together for two sabbath-days, they read the greatest part of the Old Testament over once every year.
Some say, that the custom was introduced by Ezra, and indeed it appears to have been of an ancient date. Till that reading of the law and the prophets was over, Paul and Barnabas sat as hearers; but after the reading of the Scriptures, the rulers of the synagogue used to permit or desire whom they pleased to explain what had been read, or to make some useful exhortations to the people; and either knowing something of the character of these two apostles, or perhaps merely from their sitting in the chairs of the doctors, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, desiring that if they had any doctrine or pious exhortation to deliver to the people, they would speak freely and openly in the synagogue. See the note on Luke 4:16.
Acts 13:16. Men of Israel, and ye that fear God,— This discourse seems chiefly intended to illustrate the divine oeconomy in opening the gospel gradually, and preparing the Jews by temporal mercies, for others of a yet more important nature. The apostle, in consequence of this, had a very good opportunity of shewing his acquaintancewiththeirscriptures,whichitiswell known they esteemed as the highest part of literature. The expression, ye that fear God, is ambiguous, and would best suit those who had, by embracing the Jewish religion, entered into covenant with the true God; yet so, as not to exclude any others, in whom a filial reverence for the Divine Being was a governing principle.
Acts 13:17. The God of this people— The apostle preached the same God in whom the Jews already believed, and would have persuaded them likewise to have believed in Jesus of Nazareth, the promised Messiah, the eternal Son of God, God over all, blessed for ever. To convince them that he was so, they argued both from facts, and from the prophesies of the Old Testament. This was their usual method of treating both the Jews and devout Gentiles; but when they addressed devout Gentiles alone, they did not recite the history of the Old Testament, and take their rise from the renowned ancestors of the Jewish nation; on the contrary, their language then was, In every nation he that feareth God, and worketh righteousness, is accepted of him: but when the Jews were the only, or the principal persons addressed, then they took their rise from the history of past dispensations, and particularly from Abraham the father of the nation, who was the first that was separated from an idolatrous world, and had the most express promise, that in his Seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed, as they were very eminently in Jesus Christ, his great Descendant. Abraham, for his faith and cheerful obedience, wasentitled, "The father of the faithful;" and pious holy men were stiled, "The children of Abraham." His name was in high esteem among the Jews, and one of the most likely to procure attention. St. Matthew, who wrote his gospel more immediately for the use of the converted Jews, begins our Lord's genealogy with Abraham. St. Peter introduces his discourse to the Jews with the name of that great patriarch, ch. Acts 3:13. So does St. Stephen, ch. Act 7:2 and St.
Paul in this place mentions the name of Israel, takingoccasion from the history of past dispensations to introduce the gospel doctrine; which was in brief, that the great promise made of old to the fathers, was now accomplished, and the Messiah actually come; for the Abrahamic covenant and the gospel had a great affinity, the law of Moses being only an intermediate state, to preserve at least one nation from idolatry, and prepare them for the reception of the Messiah. May we not hence conjecture, whenever they are said to go to the Jewish synagogue, and preach the word, that this was their common method, which they used more largely or briefly, as they saw occasion. Instead of exalted, Dr. Heylin reads signalized; and instead of, brought them out with an high hand, he reads, brought them forth with high demonstrations of his power. The sense of the verse may be expressed thus: "The God of Israel, the one only living and true God, chose our fathers, to bear their testimony against idolatry, and to receive the revelations of his mind and will; and he increased their numbers, and made them considerable: even when they were strangers in the land of Egypt, and when they were oppressed there, he miraculously, and by his mighty power, raised them from their low estate, and brought them out thence."
Acts 13:18. Suffered he their manners— 'Ετροποφορησεν : He endured their behaviour, perverse and ungrateful as it was.
Acts 13:20. And after that, &c.— And after these things, which lasted about four hundred and fifty years, he gave them judges, until Samuel the prophet. Mill in Loc. Carpzov. Introd. part 1: p. 186, &c. According to this, the apostle begins his computation from the birth of Isaac, when Canaan was promised to Abraham and his seed, and carries it down to their getting possession of that land, and its being divided unto them by lot, which was about four hundred and fifty years; so that, according to this interpretation, the time in which the judges reigned in Israel is not hence determined. There are, however, chronologists who settle the matter satisfactorily enough, according to our version. Sir John Marsham, and others after him, have conjectured, that the judges in Israel did not reign over the whole nation one after another, but sometimes more than one reigned at the same time in different parts of the land. However, the reigns of the several judges, when added together, amount exactly to four hundred and fifty years; and it is likely that was the common computation of the Jews in St. Paul's days, from which the apostle had no particular occasion to vary. Dr. Whitby also has the authority of many great names, ancient and modern, to justify him in following the chronology of Josephus, who places the building of the temple in the five hundred and ninety-second year after Israel's going out of Egypt; which would admit of allowing three hundred and thirty-nine years for the administration of the judges, and one hundred and eleven for the years of the several tyrannical oppressions; in all four hundred and fifty years; reserving forty for Samuel and Saul together, forty for David, and four for Solomon, in whose fifth year the temple was begun; and the coincidence of the numbers in the book of Judges is remarkable, as illustrated by Dr. Lightfoot on the place, and Biscoe in his Boyle's Lectures, p. 666. See Lampe's Compendium of Eccles. Hist. lib. 1: cap. 5. Benson, L'Enfant, Whitby, &c.
Acts 13:21. By the space of forty years.— Several very considerable critics are of opinion, that the forty years here spoken of, do not all belong to the actual reign of Saul, but include a considerable part of Samuel's government. Biscoe, who is followed by Bedford, in his Chronology, seems to have proved very satisfactorily, that the reign of Saul continued all these fortyyears. He is far from thinking that Saul's reign is to be reckoned only from Samuel's death; the contrary is most apparent; and he has abundantly proved, that the actions assigned to him must have taken up many years. But of the forty in question, it may well suffice to allow twenty to him from his anointing, and the former twenty (computed from the grand action at Mispeh) to Samuel, who might at that time be past his prime, and so be inclined to associate his sons with him; till, on their miscarriages, the people took occasion to demand a king; who, at first, we are sure, from the history, lived privately, and whose authority was never so great as to swallow up that of so illustrious a prophet and judge. It was a common opinion prevailing among the Jews, that Saul survived Samuel but little more than two years.
Acts 13:22. A man after mine own heart,— Though we have spoken largely on this head in the proper place (1 Samuel 13:13-14.) yet as the expression has been cavilled at by some, we cannot withhold the following observation of Dr. Benson's: "When it is said, that king David was a man after God's own heart, it ought to be understood of his public, not of his private character: he was a man after God's own heart, because he ruled his people Israel according to the divine will. He did not allow of idolatry; he did not set up for absolute power; he was guided in the government of the nation by the law of Moses as the standing rule of government, and by the prophet, or the divine oracle, whereby God gave directions upon particular emergencies. Whatever Saul's private character was, he was not a good king in Israel. He did not follow the law, the oracle, and the prophet, but attempted to be absolute, and thereby to subvert the constitution of the kingdom. That this was the meaning of David's being a man after God's own heart, will early appear from comparing the last-mentioned passage, 1 Samuel 15:28; 1 Samuel 28:17-18. 1 Chronicles 10:13-14.Psalms 78:70; Psalms 78:70, &c. and Psalms 89:20, &c."
Acts 13:24. When John had first preached— St. Paul mentions the preaching of John the Baptist in this incidental manner, as a thing already known to them, because it gave so universal an alarm to the whole Jewish nation, that it might probably be heard of in foreign countries, at least as remote as Pisidia. Raphelius has taken pains to prove, from similar passages in the Greek classics, that both the clauses in the next verse, Whom think ye that I am?—I am not he, may be considered as united in an affirmation, and rendered, "I am not the person whom you suppose me to be, that is, the Messiah." See Annot. ex Herodot. p. 251. The reader will refer for what follows to the passages in the margin.
Acts 13:26. And whosoever among you feareth God,— That is, "You devout proselytes, who worship the true God; and whom we look upon as brethren, as well as the Jews." See Acts 13:16.
Acts 13:27. For they that dwell at Jerusalem, &c.— He here anticipates a strong objection, "Why did not they at Jerusalem, and especially their rulers, believe?"—They knew him not, because they understood not those very prophets whom they read or heard continually. Their very condemning him, innocent as he was, proves that they understood not the prophesies concerning him; though their ignorance was wilful, being caused by their pride.
Acts 13:29. They took him down from the tree,— The apostle was far from being ashamed to mention the most ignominious circumstances of his Master's sufferings to thosewho were strangers to the gospel, knowing how sufficiently he answered all that could be thence objected, by what he added and testified concerning his resurrection. See the next note.
Acts 13:32-33. And we declare unto you glad tidings, &c.— "And we ourselves, having seen the Lord Jesus since his resurrection, readily join in their testimony; and are come hither to proclaim to you the most joyful tidings that ever reached the ears of the sinful sons of men, viz. That God having in former ages made a gracious promise of the Messiah in whom all nations should be blessed, and having often repeated it to the patriarchs our pious ancestors, has now in his faithfulness actually accomplished it to us, their descendants, and the imitators of their faith; forasmuch as he has given the highest proof and demonstration of the divine and office-character of our Jesus, in that he raised him from the dead; and so shewed that he is the very person spoken of in the second psalm, where the eternal Father is broughtin as saying to the Messiah, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee: that is, Thou art my true and proper Son; I, in the unsuccessiveday of my eternity have, in an ineffable manner, begotten thee; and in the day of thy resurrection have I eminently manifested and declared it, and have further notified thee to be Lord and Heir of all, as the first-begotten and first born from the dead, whom I have raised to all the honours of thy kingdom. See Revelation 1:5.Colossians 1:18; Colossians 1:18." Bishop Pearson well observes, that it is with peculiar propriety and beauty that God is said to have begotten Christ on the day of his resurrection, as he seemed then to be born out of the earth anew. See Romans 1:4. Mr. L'Enfant says, that the anointing day of kings is sometimes called their birth-day, for which Heinsius has produced some authorities.
Acts 13:34. Now no more to return to corruption,— As Christ never saw corruption at all, Act 13:37 the Greek word διαφθορα, corruption, must signify the grave, as שׁהת, sheahet, in the Hebrew, also does; (compare Psa 94:13 and Lamentations 4:20.) just as the coffin of a man raised from the dead, as soon as he was put into it, might be called his sarcophagus, though his flesh had not been consumed in it. The blessings of the Messiah's reign may be called the sure mercies of David, either as they were promised to that prince,—to which sense the translation of 1729 determines it, by rendering the passage, I will faithfully perform the promise made to David; or, because the name of David is sometimes given to the Messiah himself, as the great heir of David, of whose victories and glories David's were but a faint shadow: and when Isaiah calls them sure mercies, he may probably refer to the last words of David, in which he uses the same expression with regard to them, 2 Samuel 23:5. The propriety of the application here is evident, as it was the resurrection of Christ which rendered the blessings that he promised sure to his faithful people, who, without that, could have had no hope from him, as the apostle argues at large, 1 Corinthians 15:14; 1 Corinthians 15:58. See Isaiah 55:3.
Acts 13:36. David, after he had served, &c.— After that in his generation he had served the will of God. Blackwall, p. 184.
Acts 13:39. From which ye could not be justified, &c.— The law appointed sin-offerings to expiate smaller offences, so far, as that the offender whooffered them should be free from all further prosecution on account of them; but this very view of them shews how absolutely necessary it was to the being of society, that they should not be admitted in cases of murder, adultery, &c. These crimes therefore were made capital; nor was the dying criminal, however penitent, allowed to offer these sin-offerings, which would have been quite inconsistent with the temporal pardon connected with them: but the expiatory sacrifice of Christ takes away the guilt of all sin: and though it by no means affects the manner in which offenders would stand in human courts, (which the Mosaic sacrifices did,) it delivers from the condemnation of God in the invisible world, with respect to which the others could have no efficacy at all; as it was a very supposable case, that an impenitent sinner might present them in all their exactest forms. See Romans 8:3.Galatians 2:16; Galatians 2:16. Hebrews 10:4.
Acts 13:41. And perish:— And disappear, 'αφανισθητε . See the note on Matthew 6:16. Dr. Heylin reads the sentence, Consider, ye despisers; be amazed and utterly confounded. Instead of shall in no wise, &c. we ought to read, will, &c. The passage may be thus paraphrased: "Behold, ye scornful men who look with haughty contempt on that cornerstone which I lay in Zion, the judgment I will execute upon you is so terrible, that it shall be a vexation only to understand the report. In like manner too the prophet Habakkuk speaks, when he says, ch. Acts 1:5. Behold ye, and regard, and wonder marvellously, turn pale with terror, and disappear, as those that shall perish at once, and vanish (as it were) out of sight, consumed in a moment by the fierceness of my vengeance. For I perform a most amazing work in your days, even a work which ye shall not believe, if any one tell it to you."
Acts 13:42. And when the Jews were gone out— But when the Jews were going out. Heylin and Doddridge. However, Capellus and Whitby have shewn, that the expression, as given in our version, is not an unexampled manner of speaking: nor do I see the least impropriety in supposing, that St. Paul and the Gentiles might continue for a little time in the synagogue after the Jews had retired.
Acts 13:43. In the grace of God.— In that religious disposition which divine grace had produced in them, or in the faith and practice of the gospel, which is often called the grace of God, and the word of his grace, with the utmost propriety, as containing the richest display of his grace, in the free pardon of our sins by Christ, the sanctification of our souls by the Holy Spirit, and the provision he has made for our eternal happiness. See ch. Acts 14:3 Acts 20:24.Romans 6:14; Romans 6:14.Galatians 5:4; Galatians 5:4.Colossians 1:6; Colossians 1:6. Titus 2:11. 1 Peter 5:12.
Acts 13:45. They were filled with envy,— Now that circumstance in the parable, of the elder brother's murmuring at the return of the prodigal son, was remarkably fulfilled. See Luke 15:25; Luke 15:32. The word blasphemy, in this connection with contradicting, must signify their giving them abusive language: Heylin reads,—With abusive language opposed what Paul taught. Probably they charged the apostles to their faces with falsehood and villany, and represented the cause they were carrying on as most contemptible and wicked. It may seem strange, that this did not prevent the conversion of the Gentiles; but through the blessing of God they would easily see it was the regard that Paul and Barnabas expressed for them, which had exasperated the Jews; and it is not improbable, that some miracles might have been wrought during the preceding week, which would see the character of these divine teachers above the danger of being overthrown by the malicious insinuations or confident assertions of those furious opposers.
Acts 13:46. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, &c.— With great freedom of speech said, &c. The words, Judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, plainly shew that persons are said to be self-condemned, who furnish out matter of condemnation from their own words, though they do not actually pass sentence on themselves; for nothing was further from the thoughts of these Jews, than declaring themselves unworthy of eternal life for not believing the gospel. They rather expected that life by rejecting it. See on Acts 13:48. When the apostles say, Behold, we turn to the Gentiles, their meaning is not, that they intended no more to make an offer to the Jews; for we find they continued to address them first, wherever they came; but they openly declared, that while they continued at Antioch, they would lose no more time in fruitless attempts on their ungrateful countrymen, but would employ themselves in doing what they could for the conversion of the Gentiles.
Acts 13:47. For so hath the Lord commanded us,— The mighty have argued this very properly from the passage which they quote, as well as from their very commission itself. Comp. Mat 28:19 and Acts 1:8. But St. Paul had also received a more express command to this purpose. See ch. Act 22:21 Acts 26:17-18.
Acts 13:48. As many as were ordained to eternal life— We observe, 1st, upon this text, that whatever the exact meaning of the word rendered ordained may be, it does not here refer to the decrees of God, but to the disposition of the minds of these Gentiles; as is very evident, from its being used by way of antithesis to the persons mentioned, Act 13:46 that is, to the unbelieving Jews; who, by their obstinacy and wickedness, condemned themselves as unworthy of eternal life; whereas, on the contrary, several of these Gentiles, by their candour and probity of mind, manifested in so readily submitting through grace to truth and evidence, and embracinga religion so different from what they had received, and so contrary to their worldly interests, shewed themselves to be well disposed for the reception of the gospel. And this we observe, 2nd, appears to be the true meaning of the original, the word τεταγμενοι most commonly signifying disposed, or set in order; and hence it is very frequently used as a military term, for the regularly drawing up, or setting in rank and order, an army. Thus it is used by St. Luke, ch. Acts 7:8. I am a man set under authority. And thus it is used by many of the best Greek classics. So that the meaning of the passage seems to be this: As many as were disposed, or determined for eternal life, and brought through preventing grace to a resolution of courageouslyfacing all opposition in the way to it, believed; and openly, as well as experimentally, embraced the Christian religion, as the means to prepare them for an endless life of the greatest purity, as well as of the greatest glory, and most perfect happiness. (See my Annotations on John 6:44; John 6:71.) In this sense the Syriac, one of the most ancient versions of the New Testament, has rendered these words;—which is of great moment, as that translation was made before the sense of this place was disputed by the different sects and parties of Christians. In this sense many of the most learned expositors understand it. Dr. Heylin's translation and glossary upon it is, "As many as were in a fit disposition for eternal life, believed—literally, in a rank, in a fit temper or disposition to enter into that spiritual life, which is rightly called eternal; for justice is immortal. They were ευθετοι, well disposed, Luk 9:62 therefore τεταγμενοι, ranked. Those who think themselves, in their present state, not capable of that experimental knowledge of God and Christ, in which consists eternal life, Joh 17:3 judge themselves unworthy of it, Acts 13:46." That we may leave nothing, which can elucidate and explain this text, we here subjoin Dr. Doddridge's judicious observations upon it, which confirm what has been before advanced: "In the Greek classics, I think it [τεταγμενοι ] in its passive form signifies men who, having been appointed for some militaryexpedition, (and set in their proper offices, as we render it, Luke 7:8.) are drawn up in battle array for that purpose. So that it expresses, or refers at once to, the action of their commander in marshalling them according to the plan he has formed in his own mind, and to their own presentingthemselves in their proper places, to be led on to the intended expedition. This I take to be precisely its sense here, and have therefore chosen the word determined, as having an ambiguity something like that in the original." We observe, 3rdly, that St. Luke does not say προτεταγμενοι, foreordained; for he is not speaking of what was done from eternity, but of what was then done through the preaching of the gospel. He is describing that ordination, or disposition, and that only, which was at the very time of hearing it. "During this sermon, those believed, says the apostle, to whom God then gave the gift of faith." It is as if he had said, "They believed, whose hearts the Lord had opened;" as he expresses it in a clearly parallel place, speaking of the same kind of ordination, ch. Acts 16:14, &c. It is observable, that the original word is not once used in scripture to express eternal predestination of any kind. It is rendered ordained, ordered, determined, addicted, and most frequently appointed.—The sum is, all those, and those only, who were now ordained or disposed, now believed, not that God rejected the rest: it was his will that they also should be saved, but they thrust salvation from them: nor were they who then believed, constrained to believe; but grace was then first copiously offered them, and they, being well inclined, embraced and improved it thankfully. In a word, the expression properly implies a present operation of divine grace, working faith in well-disposed hearts. See particularly Dr. Hammond's note on the place; Raphel. ex Herod. p. 353, &c. Wetstein, and Archbishop Sharpe's Works, vol. 6: p. 348.
Acts 13:50. Devout and honourable women,— As Antioch in Pisidia was a Gentile city, the Jews had not the civil power in their hands; but they were so incensed at the success of the two apostles, and particularly at the reception of the idolatrous Gentiles without requiring them first to become proselytes of righteousness, that they exasperated some women, who were devout Gentiles, and persons of some quality and distinction; and by their means drew their husbands, or such other leading men of the city as they could influence, into their quarrel. If we suppose that these devout women were newly proselyted to Judaism, and full of an opinion of the sanctity and privileges of the people to whom they now belonged, nothing can be more natural than to suppose that they would instigate their husbands and other relations to the warmest resentment against Paul and Barnabas, whom they would look upon as levellers and apostates.
Acts 13:51. And came unto Iconium.— This is at present Coghi. It was formerly the capital of Lycaonia, and lay, not in the middle, as it is often placed, but on the western borders of it; on the confines of Pisidia, Galatia, and Phrygia, to the latter of which it seems once to have belonged.
Inferences.—We, who were once sinners of the Gentiles, and now, by the divine goodness, are brought, at least in speculation, to the knowledge of the gospel, have abundant reason to be thankful, that inspired messengers were sent to teach it, being separated for that purpose by the direct appointment of the Holy Spirit. May they who go out to this sacred work, in all nations, and in all times, maintain a becoming regard to his influences; and may he make their way prosperous!
Wherever the messengers of the gospel go, they must not be surprised if Satan raise up his instruments and children to oppose them; especially where they would endeavour to introduce religion into the hearts of princes, or other great men. Well does the prince of the power of the air know, how dangerous every such blow is to his kingdom. Nor can any of the kings or nobles of the earth shew a more solid and important prudence, than to inquire impartially into the evidence of the gospel, and to give themselves up as rational and accountable beings, to be governed by it: a happy resolution! which they will most probably be disposed to form, in proportion to the degree in which they observe its nature and tendency; for surely every intelligent person that does so, must, like Sergius Paulus, be struck with the doctrine of the Lord, as well as with the miracles which were wrought to confirm it.
Justly might St. Paul pronounce that man who endeavoured to obstruct the progress of divine truth in the world, a child of Satan, and an enemy of all righteousness. Justly might God, who knew all his secret wickedness and perverseness of soul, smite him with a blindness, which, while it rendered him incapable of seeing the light of the meridian sun, seemed but a doleful emblem of that more fatal darkness, which, through the corruption of his heart, had spread itself over his mind, and prevented the light of the gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, from shining upon it. See 2 Corinthians 4:4.
And have not we reason to fear, that God may, in his righteous judgment, punish that iniquity of spirit with which many now rise up against the right ways of the Lord,—not ceasing to pervert and disguise them, that so they may more plausibly and effectually oppose them? And what punishment so likely or so suitable as an internal blindness, a darkness of soul, in which they may wander on through life to their destruction?—And if others stupidly, but wilfully, permit themselves to be guided by them, what can be expected, but that the blind leading the blind, both leaders and followers should fall into the pit?
That the scriptures have been publicly read in Jewish and Christian assemblies from the primitive times, is a noble evidence of their genuine authority, which it will be our undoubted wisdom to transmit to those who may arise after us. From them succeeding generations will be fully informed of that edifying history which the apostle here briefly recounts;—of the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, and their settlement in the land of Canaan, according to the promise of God made to their fathers; and they will also learn the ungrateful returns which they made to the divine goodness, when they rejected the Lord from being king over them.
Were we the greatest princes upon earth, we, like David, must see corruption in the grave, whither we are going. But let us rejoice to think that Jesus, whom God raised up according to his promise, saw no corruption; and that if we will indeed be his faithful people, he will ransom and redeem us from it. See Hosea 13:14.
Nor let us ever forget that this same Jesus, though so outrageously and infamously treated by the Jews, was nevertheless in the most powerful and convincing manner declared to be the Son of God, his only-begotten Son. Such a resurrection as his, proclaimed him to be so: and in consequence of it, the sure mercies of David are now given by him to all the faithful saints of God; and the plenary remission of all the most aggravated transgressions is through him proclaimed. For ever adored be his glorious name; most thankfully accepted be his overflowing grace! which frees genuine believers from the guilt of those offences which the law of Moses condemned without mercy, and takes out the dye of scarlet and crimson sins!
Let us take heed, lest, if we despise so great a salvation, we meet with an astonishing vengeance; the justice of which will be attested and applauded by all the messengers of God. All the prophets, and John the Baptist, superior to them all, who bore witness to Christ, and all the apostles, have concurred to admonish us of our danger; and they will another day rise up together in judgment against us, if all these admonitions are given in vain.
It is a great comfort for the ministers of the gospel, that, amidst the incredulity which too generally prevails, many are found who will credit the gospel—many to whom the arm of the Lord is revealed in conquering their prejudices against it. With these and an increasing number will God support his faithful servants: and may the instances of that consolation be more numerous and more remarkable continually in our days!
It is matter of some encouragement, when numbers crowd to attend upon the preaching of the gospel, for faith cometh by hearing. They who reject the counsel of God against themselves, will no doubt be provoked at such a circumstance; and the malignity and envy of their hearts will stir up opposition and contention. But God knows how to bring good out of evil; nor should his ministers be discouraged by the contradiction of sinners, but rather turn themselves to those who may be more willing to hear. In the mean time, let those that thrust from them the word of God, know, that, in the language of scripture, they adjudge themselves unworthy of everlasting life; and since they will not accept of it on these terms, the great Author thereof will not condescend to give it on any other: and the day is coming, when we shall see, and the whole world shall see, how much reason they have to glory in that height of spirit which they now shew.
Let it be the daily joy of our souls, that the Lord Jesus Christ was given for a light of the Gentiles, and for God's salvation to the ends of the earth. Through the tender mercy of our God, the day-spring from on high hath visited us, Luke 1:78. Let us pray that it may arise, and shine upon the remotest nations, and that the whole earth may be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea! And indeed, if we are entirely unconcerned about its propagation in the world, we have great reason to fear, that we ourselves have no part in the saving benefits which it confers. May the silver trumpet every where sound to awaken the nations to lift themselves in the holy war under Christ, against all the enemies of salvation; and may many champions appear determined for eternal life, and, like these converts at Antioch, courageously set themselves in battle array against every thing which would oppose their progress towards it!
Vain then will all the rage of persecution be, by whomsoever it is excited or maintained, though by persons of the highest rank, or the most honoured characters. If the messengers of Christ be cast out of one place, they will appear with renewed zeal in another; and they who are truly converted to Christianity, though in never so great a fight of afflictions, will have the Spirit of God and glory resting upon them; and be enabled to rejoice, not only in the midst of their trials, but even on account of them. In the mean while, the dust shaken from the shoes of the rejected ambassadors of the Prince of peace; will be recorded as a witness against those who have despised the message, and will expose their souls to a final condemnation in the day of judgment—a condemnation more intolerable than that which was once executed on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, or which their wretched inhabitants are then to expect. See Mark 6:11.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, Though the gospel had now begun to make its entrance into the Gentile world, none had yet been publicly ordained and appointed to that service, till Paul and Barnabas, by the immediate order of the Holy Ghost, were set apart thereunto.
1. The church at Antioch flourished greatly. There were certain prophets, who ranked next to the apostles in the church; and teachers, eminent for their gifts and graces; as Barnabas and Simeon, who, probably from his dark complexion, was called Niger; and Lucius of Cyrene, an African by birth; and Manaen, who had been brought up with Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee, his friend and companion; but now had quitted the honours of a court for the reproach of the gospel; and Saul, so famous in the records of Christianity. These ministered to the Lord, and fasted, diligently employed in the service of immortal souls; and at seasons, in more solemn acts of prayer and fasting, waited upon God for his blessing and direction in their labours.
2. While they were, on a certain day, thus engaged, the Holy Ghost, by his immediate suggestion, and by his own divine authority, said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them, to preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to be chiefly employed in their service. Learn hence, (1.) The personality of the Holy Ghost, and his co-equal glory with the Father and Son. (2.) The true call to the ministry must come from above.
3. Pursuant to this order, Paul and Barnabas were solemnly set apart, with fasting and prayer and imposition of hands, for the peculiar service to which the Holy Ghost had appointed them: and the brethren sent them away, wishing them all success in their arduous undertaking. And henceforward we find them the two great apostles of the Gentiles, spreading the glorious gospel to distant lands, whither the glad tidings had never reached before.
2nd, Being in this solemn manner sent forth, Paul and Barnabas immediately applied themselves to their work.
1. They directed their course to Cyprus the native land of Barnabas, going to Seleucia; and thence sailed for Salamis, the chief town of the eastern part of the island. And first, as was their custom, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews, giving them the preference; and, if they rejected the gospel, leaving them thereby inexcusable: and they had also John to their minister, to assist them in their work, provide necessaries for them, and execute any service which might be appointed him.
2. They travelled through the greatest part of the island, preaching the gospel, till they came to Paphos, the chief city on the western coast. There they met with one Bar-jesus, which signifies the son of Joshua, a Jew by birth, addicted to magic, who set up for a prophet, and had insinuated himself into the favour of Sergius Paulus, the Roman governor of the island, who was a prudent, considerate, thinking man, and who, hearing of the fame of Barnabas and Saul, desired to learn from themselves that new doctrine which they taught as a revelation from God. But the sorcerer, knowing that, if the deputy received the gospel, his influence with him would be at an end, set himself to oppose these ministers of Christ, and to turn away the deputy from the faith. Note; (1.) It is prudence to prove all things, and hold fast that which is good. (2.) Wherever the gospel comes with power, Satan will find some tool to employ, in order to cast stumbling-blocks in the way of those who desire to hear.
3. Saul, who henceforward is always called by his Roman name Paul, as more agreeable to the Gentiles, among whom for the future he chiefly conversed, filled with the Holy Ghost, fired with zeal for the gospel, and under a divine afflatus, set his eyes on him, with indignation and abhorrence of his wickedness, and said, O full of all subtilty, expert in every art of deceit, taught by the great deceiver, and, like him, set on all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, the implacable foe to truth and godliness, and to that gospel which is designed to promote them, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? to misrepresent them, and by every artful and malicious suggestion to prejudice men against the Lord Jesus, and those ways of his grace, which alone can lead to eternal life and glory? And now behold, as an evident token of God's displeasure, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, in righteous judgment; and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season—the emblem and punishment of the wilful blindness of thy heart. Note; (1.) Subtilty, and delight in mischief, united, form the strongest image of the devil. (2.) They who are enemies to the gospel, must be enemies to all righteousness, since this alone can effectually produce true holiness in the heart. (3.) The Lord's ways are all right, and lead direct to happiness and heaven: they who pervert or misrepresent them, as unreasonable, unpleasant, or unprofitable, shall bear their burden.
4. His doom is no sooner pronounced than executed. Immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness, and, his sight being entirely lost, he went about groping his way, and seeking some to lead him by the hand. Struck with the evidence of the miracle, perceiving the sorcerer confounded by the arguments, and unable to stand before the power with which Paul was evidently invested, the deputy believed in Jesus, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord, which came with such convincing power and energy to his heart, and contained such amazing discoveries of God and his great salvation, with which he had been before utterly unacquainted.
5. Having shortly after set sail from Paphos, Paul and his companions directed their course to Perga, a city of Pamphylia. There John, their minister, quitted them, and returned to Jerusalem. A worldly or timid spirit prevailed against him: he wanted perhaps to see his mother; or he was weary of the fatigues of the Gentile mission; or some temporal affair drew off his attention from the ministry of the word: which Paul much resented, and which laid a ground of future contention between him and Barnabas. See the Annotations.
3rdly, How long they stayed, and what success the apostles had at Perga, is not recorded; but more is preserved of their labours at Antioch, the capital of Pisidia, which was their next remove.
1. On the sabbath-day, according to their custom, they went into the synagogue, and sat down, waiting a proper opportunity to deliver the message which they brought.
2. After the reading of the law and the prophets as usual, the rulers of the synagogue, being acquainted perhaps with their public characters, and willing to hear what they had to say, sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on. Note; The preaching of the word, and expounding it with application to the hearts of the hearers, is one most essential end and use of our assembling on the Lord's day.
3. St. Paul declined not the invitation, but gracefully rising, and waving his hand that silence might be kept, he very affectionately and seriously addresses his brethren, entreating a patient and attentive audience.
[1.] He opens with reminding them of the peculiar favour which God had shewn to their fathers. God had chosen the Jewish people in a covenant of peculiarity, and, according to the promise made to their fathers, had wonderfully multiplied and exalted them in Egypt, where they sojourned; and at last, when they were oppressed by Pharaoh, had brought them thence with a high hand. In the wilderness, amidst all their provocations, his patience bore with them, and his bounteous hand fed them forty years. After destroying the accursed nations of Canaan, he gave them the country, by lot, for their inheritance; and for about the space of four hundred and fifty years from their deliverance from Egypt, continued, in their emergencies, to raise them up divinely appointed officers, called judges, to save them from the hands of their enemies, until the times of Samuel the prophet. Afterwards, indulging them in their desire, he appointed Saul the Son of Kis, a Benjamite, their king, whose reign, with Samuel's government, filled the space of forty years. (See the Annotations.) And when he was rejected, then was David anointed to sit on Israel's throne, and raised from his low estate to that high dignity—a man, to whom God bore the most honourable testimony, as one after mine own heart, approved and known to be faithful, which shall fulfil all my will, and answer all my purposes and designs.
Herein the apostle seems to desire to conciliate the Jews to him, and engage their regard to his discourse; when it appears, that far from having any prejudice against the Jewish nation as was suggested by many, or despising their peculiar honours, he dwells upon them with pleasure, in order to introduce the discourse of the Messiah, the son of David; which was the great object that he had in view.
[2.] As God had made to David a promise, that of his seed the Messiah should spring, the glorious hope of Israel—that promise he had now fulfilled in Jesus, the Saviour of all that perseveringly believe in him, from sin, misery, death, and hell; to introduce whose appearing, John had preached the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel, inviting them to turn to that Messiah, whose forerunner he was; that by faith in him they might obtain remission of sins, (Mark 1:4.Luke 3:3; Luke 3:3.) disclaiming that title himself, when the people were in doubt whether he were the Christ or not, but directing them to one presently to appear after him, so far transcending him in dignity, that he should count it an honour of which he was unworthy to perform the meanest offices to him. This being then the main point in view, to bring them acquainted with him, to whom John bore record, he pathetically urges them to consider the matter. Men and brethren, possessed of rational and immortal souls, children of the stock of Abraham, and of the promise made unto our fathers, and whoever among you feareth God, whether Jews or Proselytes, to you is the word of this salvation sent, and you are first called to partake of the inestimable blessings of the redemption which this Jesus hath obtained. Note; (1.) It is among the most invaluable mercies, to have the word of salvation sent to us. (2.) No condemnation will be so great and aggravated as theirs who reject the gospel-word.
[3.] He plainly tells them of the great guilt and wickedness of the Jewish rulers, in rejecting, persecuting, and murdering the Lord's Christ. They knew him not, so fatally and wilfully blinded were their minds by the prejudices which they had entertained, and the expectations they had formed of a temporal Messiah; nor yet the voices of the prophets, which are read every sabbath-day, in which the sufferings and death of the Messiah were at large foretold: but God so over ruled their wickedness, that undesignedly they have fulfilled these scriptures in condemning him: and though, even by the confession of his judge, his innocence was acknowledged, and they found no cause of death in him; yet, so malicious and enraged were they against him, they desired Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, concerning his sufferings and death, even in the most minute particulars, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre; brought to the grave, the lowest step of his humiliation. Note; (1.) Ignorance of the scriptures is often found, where the sound of them in the ears is heard every sabbath-day. (2.) It will not excuse the sins of persecutors, that they committed them ignorantly in unbelief, when they rejected the means of better information.
[4.] He insists at large on the glorious resurrection of Christ, as the grand point, on which all the sure hope of salvation through Jesus depended. His enemies thought they had effectually defeated all his pretensions when they laid him in the grave; but God raised him from the dead, to their confusion, and, as a token of the fullest approbation of his character and undertaking,—a fact attested by a great cloud of witnesses, who had been most intimately acquainted with him before his death, and, during forty days, had many conferences with him, and ate and drank with him after his resurrection; the truth of which some of them had already sealed with their blood, and others in the face of death and danger still continue to declare. And to this resurrection of Jesus we, now present, bear testimony, proclaiming it as the most joyful tidings, that the promise made unto the fathers, of that Messiah in whom all nations of the world should be blessed, God hath now fulfilled unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; whereby it appears that he was the glorious Personage of whom David speaks; as it is written also in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee; from eternity the relation subsisted; and as God bore testimony to the dignity and divine character of his Son in his baptism and transfiguration, so most eminently was Jesus declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:4.). And that God raised him from the dead, no more to see corruption, is evident from Isa 55:3 where he says, I will give you the sure mercies of David. Having there appointed his Son to be the leader and commander of the people, and by an oath confirmed his promise, it became necessary, that he who by his sufferings and death was to ratify the covenant, and obtain these mercies for his faithful saints, should rise again to be eternally the Head of his glorified church. In farther proof of which, he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption, (Psalms 16:10.) which words can only be applicable to the Messiah; for as to David himself, it is evident, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, discharging his high office with great fidelity for his people's good, he fell asleep in the arms of death, resting from all his labours, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption, his corpse, like others, returning unto dust: but he whom God raised, even Jesus, the Messiah, of whom David spake in this psalm, exactly fulfilled it, and, rising on the third day, saw no corruption, nor ever shall, God having exalted him to his own right hand in glory everlasting, to bestow these mercies on all his faithful people, until time shall be no more. Note; (1.) We must learn not to live for ourselves, but for God's glory, and the good of mankind. (2.) To a faithful saint death is but the sleep of the body, while the soul rests from its labours, and is in joy and felicity. (3.) The more we examine the scriptures, the more confirmed shall we be, that Jesus is the Christ, in whom we shall see all the prophesies so eminently and exactly fulfilled.
[5.] He applies what he said to their hearts, as a matter in which they were most nearly concerned. Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; by his sufferings unto death it is obtained, in his name it is declared, and by his authority bestowed: and by him, through the merit of his obedience unto death, all that believe are justified from all things; discharged from the condemnation of the law, and the guilt of all their transgressions, be they never so many, great, or aggravated; from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses, legal or ceremonial, none being able to fulfil the moral law in immaculate perfection, and the ceremonial prescribed no sacrifice for wilful transgression: and therefore all who looked for justification by the deeds of the law, were necessarily left under wrath and condemnation. Note; One of the chief gospel promises and privileges is the forgiveness of sins. In Christ Jesus there is a free and full pardon offered to the miserable and the desperate.
Lastly, He solemnly warns them of the danger of rejecting this salvation. Beware therefore, lest, through your obstinate infidelity, that fearful and alarming threatening come upon you which is spoken of in one of the prophets, (Habakkuk 1:5.) concerning the men of that generation in which he lived; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder at your own obstinacy and stupidity, and my vengeance ready to light upon you; and perish, be covered with shame, and hide yourselves in terrors at the approaching judgments; for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you; such as the destruction of their temple and nation by the Romans, a judgment more terrible than ever before fell upon them by the hand of the Chaldeans. It may also refer to the glorious work of redemption and mercy which should be extended to the Gentiles, while the Jews would be rejected for their wilful unbelief and impenitence; neither of which would they believe, though told them by persons of the most undoubted credit and authority.
4thly, Nothing could be more kindly spoken than this discourse of the apostle, or more respectful to the Jewish people. But we are told,
1. The ill reception that many of the Jews gave to his sermon. They went out of the synagogue, in open contempt of the apostle and of the doctrine of Christ which he preached; intimating thereby an avowed resolution never to hear him again, or regard aught that he could say. And justly are they abandoned to their infidelity, who obstinately reject the counsel of the Lord against their own souls, and will not even give the gospel a candid hearing.
2. The Gentiles hereupon, the proselytes of righteousness, who attended the Jewish worship, besought, that if the Jews refused to receive the gracious message, these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. They longed for that salvation which the others slighted.
3. Though the generality of the Jews turned their backs on the apostles and their preaching, many were affected by what they heard, both of the native Jews, and religious proselytes, and they followed Paul and Barnabas, that they might in private have some farther conference with them on a matter so important: and the apostles, glad to see them thus impressed, conversed freely with them on the subject, to carry on the good work begun on their hearts, warmly exhorting and persuading them by every powerful argument to continue in the grace of God, faithfully embracing, and boldly professing the gospel doctrines, depending on the Spirit's influence, and waiting in the use of all appointed means upon the Lord. Note; They who truly receive the word of Christ, will follow his ministers, and long for farther instruction in righteousness.
4. The next sabbath, the auditory was immense. Probably on the week days, the apostles had improved every opportunity to spread the truths of God; and as the Gentiles were graciously received by them, they flocked together on the sabbath, and not only the religious proselytes, but many of those who were before idolatrous, invited by curiosity, or from better motives, assembled to hear the word of God.
5. When the Jews, who were enemies to the gospel, saw the multitudes, and among them many of the idolatrous Gentiles whom they abhorred, they were filled with envy, that to them the word of God should be spoken, and that these new preachers should grow so popular; and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming; with the utmost rage and passion they disputed against the doctrines of the gospel, abused and vilified the preacher, and blasphemed the holy name of Jesus, who was the great subject of the apostle's discourse. Note; It is no new thing to hear the glorious truths of Christ and his salvation treated with virulence and blasphemy by men of corrupt minds.
6. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold; far from being intimidated by such opposition, they appeared inspired with greater zeal, and shewed more undaunted courage in delivering their message, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you; in respect to the privileges of your birth, and the command of our Master, who sent us forth to publish his gospel, beginning at Jerusalem, and giving the first calls to the lost sheep of the house of Israel: but seeing ye put it from you, and wilfully reject and vilify this great salvation of the Messiah, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, which can only be obtained by that faith in him and his gospel which you despise, and are unworthy to hear any more, lo, we turn to the Gentiles, leaving you Jews of this place to your obstinate impenitence and infidelity, and henceforth proclaiming the salvation which is in Jesus Christ to the heathen: and herein we act by divine warrant, and in exact correspondence with the scriptures. 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, Isaiah 49:6. Note; (1.) The more obstinately sinners oppose the word of God, the more bold and zealous should his ministers be in maintaining the truths of his gospel. (2.) They who reject God's ministers, and their message, pronounce sentence on themselves, as unworthy of everlasting life. (3.) Christ is the sun of righteousness arisen on this benighted world; in him we see the way to present and eternal salvation opened; and all, to the ends of the earth, are invited to look to him, and be saved.
7. When the Gentiles heard this, that the salvation which the apostles preached, extended to them, according to God's express word and warrant, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord, praising him for sending the light of his truth among them; and as many as were ordained to eternal life, believed. See my annotations on this passage. And the word of the Lord, which was with such gracious effect preached in the capital, was published throughout all the region, both by the apostolic labourers, and the Gentile converts, who longed to engage their brethren to share with them in this common salvation. Note; (1.) The gospel is glad news to the sinner who sees and feels the need of that pardon and grace therein promised. (2.) They who have tasted the preciousness of God's word, cannot but glorify him for his unspeakable gift. (3.) If we have ourselves received the knowledge of Jesus, and his rich grace, we shall delight to spread abroad the favour of his name.
8. The unbelieving Jews, filled with malice and enmity against the apostles, stirred up the devout and honourable women who were proselytes, and most zealous for Judaism, and the chief men of the city, probably by their means, representing the apostles as dangerous men; and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts. Note; (1.) Wherever the gospel is preached with success, there the ministers of it may expect the devil's rage. (2.) None persecute so bitterly as bigots, who are apparently devout, and make profession of religion. (3.) The best of men have been expelled with ignominy from places where their successful labours provoked the enmity of those who should have protected and honoured them; but such reproach is their highest honour, such suffering their truest preferment.
Lastly, Being thus violently driven out of the city, they shook off the dust of their feet against them, in detestation of their wickedness, and as a testimony against their persecutors in the judgment-day, according to their Master's order, Luk 9:5 and they came to Iconium, the chief city of Lycaonia, a neighbouring province. And the disciples, whom they left behind, though deprived of these faithful teachers, and beholding these persecutions, far from being disheartened, were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost, blest with the most abundant consolations in their souls, mightily enriched with the gifts and graces of the Spirit, and making a bold and noble profession of their faith amidst all opposition. Note; (1.) Woe to the place against which the rejected ministers of Jesus shake off the dust of their feet; Sodom's vengeance shall be lighter than the doom of that city. (2.) As our tribulations for Christ abound, he can, and usually does, cause our consolations to abound also.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Acts 13". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany