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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies

Acts 28

Verse 1

They knew

The best texts read we knew: ascertained or recognized: with a reference to ver. 39.

Verse 2

Barbarous people

From the Roman point of view, regarding all as barbarians who spoke neither Greek nor Latin. Not necessarily uncivilized. It is equivalent to foreigners. Compare Romans 1:14; 1 Corinthians 14:11. The inhabitants of Malta were of Carthaginian descent. “Even in the present day the natives of Malta have a peculiar language, termed the Maltese, which has been proved to be essentially an Arabic dialect, with an admixture of Italian” (Gloag).

No little ( οὐ τυχοῦσαν )

See on special, Acts 19:11. Rev., much better, “no common kindness.”

Kindness ( φιλανθρωπίαν )

See on the kindred adverbcourteously, Acts 27:3.

Present rain ( ὑετὸν τὸν ἐφεστῶτα )

Lit., which was upon us, or had set in. No mention of rain occurs up to this point in the narrative of the shipwreck. The tempest may thus far have been unattended with rain, but it is hardly probable.

Verse 3

Of sticks ( φρυγάνων )

Only here in New Testament. From φρύγω , to roast or parch. Hence, dry sticks.

Out of ( ἐκ )

The best texts read ἀπό , by reason of.

Verse 4

Justice ( Δίκη )


Suffereth not ( οὐκ εἴασεν )

The aorist tense: did not suffer. His death is regarded as fixed by the divine decree.

Verse 5

The beast ( τὸ θηρίον )

Luke uses the word in the same way as the medical writers, who employed it to denote venomous serpents, and particularly the viper; so much so that an antidote, made chiefly from the flesh of vipers, was termed θηριακή . A curious bit of etymological history attaches to this latter word. From it came the Latin theriaca, of which our treacle (molasses) is a corruption. Treacle, therefore, is originally a preparation of viper's flesh, and was used later of any antidote. Thus Coverdale's translation of Jeremiah 8:22has, “There is no more treacle in Gilead.” Gurnall (“Christian in Complete Armor”) says: “The saints' experiences help them to a sovereign treacle made of the scorpion's own flesh (which they through Christ have slain), and that hath a virtue above all other to expel the venom of Satan's temptations from the heart.” So Jeremy Taylor' “We kill the viper and make treacle of him.”

Verse 6

Swollen ( πίμπρασθαι )

Only here in New Testament. The usual medical word for inflammation.

Looked ( προσδοκώντων )

Occurring eleven times in Luke, and only five times in the rest of the New Testament. Frequent in medical writers, to denote expectation of the fatal result of illness.

No harm ( μηδὲν ἄτοπον )

Lit., nothing out of place. The word ἄτοπος occurs three times in Luke, and only once elsewhere in the New Testament (2 Thessalonians 3:2). Used by physicians to denote something unusual in the symptoms of disease, and also somethingfatal or deadly as here. Rev., nothing amiss. Compare Luke 23:41; and Acts 25:5, where the best texts insert the word.

Said ( ἔλεγον )

The imperfect, denoting current talk.

A god

Observe, says Bengel, “the fickleness of human reasoning. He is either an assassin, say they, or a god. So, at one time bulls, at another stones (Acts 14:13, Acts 14:19).

Verse 7

The chief man ( τῷ πρώτῳ )

Official title, without reference to his rank and possessions. Though not occurring as the official designation of the governor of Malta in any ancient author, it has been found in two inscriptions discovered in the island.

Verse 8

Sick ( συνεχόμενον )

Lit., taken or holden. See on taken, Luke 4:38.

Fever ( πυρετοῖς )

Lit., fevers. This peculiarly medical use of the plural is confined to Luke in the New Testament. It denotes successive and varying attacks of fever.

Bloody flux ( δυσεντερίᾳ )

Only here in New Testament. Our word dysentery is nearly a transcript of it. Hippocrates often speaks of the two complaints in combination.

Healed ( ἰάσατο )

See on Luke 6:19.

Verse 10

Honors ( τιμαῖς )

The word was applied to payments for professional services, and that fact may have influenced Luke in selecting it; but it is evidently not used in that sense here.

Verse 11


Answering to the ship's name in modern times. It was the image of a god, a man, a beast, or of some other object, sculptured or painted on the prow. The figure of the guardian deity was affixed to the stern.

Castor and Pollux

Known as the twin brothers and the Dioscuri, or sons of Jove. They were regarded as tutelary deities of sailors.

Verse 16

The centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard

The best texts omit.

Verse 20

I am bound ( περίκειμαι )

Lit., compassed.

Verse 22

We desire ( ἀξιοῦμεν )

Rather, we think it. Compare Acts 15:38.


See on heresies, 2 Peter 2:1.

Verse 25

Agreed not

See on agreed together, Acts 5:9.

Verse 27

Waxed gross

See on Matthew 13:15.

Their ears are dull of hearing

Lit., with their ears they heard heavily.


See on Matthew 13:15.

Verse 30

Hired house ( μισθώματι )

Probably different from the ξενία , or lodging-place, where he resided for the first few days, perhaps as the guest of friends, though under custody, and where he received the Jews (Acts 28:23).

Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Acts 28". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.