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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
Acts 20

 

 

Verse 1

1.] παρακαλέσας has probably been omitted on account of the two participles coming together: or perhaps on account of the same word occurring again in Acts 20:2.


Verses 1-16

Acts 20:1 to Acts 21:16.] JOURNEY OF PAUL TO MACEDONIA AND GREECE, AND THENCE TO JERUSALEM.


Verse 2

2.] Notices of this journey may be found 2 Corinthians 2:12-13; 2 Corinthians 7:5-6. He delayed on the way some time at Troas, waiting for Titus,—broke off his preaching there, though prosperous, in distress of mind at his non-arrival, 2 Corinthians 2:12-13,—and sailed for Macedonia, where Titus met him, 2 Corinthians 7:6. That Epistle was written during it, from Macedonia (see 2 Corinthians 9:2, καυχῶμαι, ‘I am boasting’). He seems to have gone to the confines at least of Illyria, Romans 15:19.

αὐτούς] The Macedonian brethren: so ch. Acts 16:10 al., see reff., and Winer, edn. 6, § 22.3.

ἑλλάδα] Achaia, see ch. Acts 19:21.


Verse 3

3. ποιήσας] This stay was made at Corinth, most probably: see 1 Corinthians 16:6-7; and was during the winter, see below on Acts 20:5. During it the Epistle to the Romans was written: see Prolegg. to Rom. § iv.

μέλλοντι ἀνάγεσθαι] This purpose, of going from Corinth to Palestine by sea, is implied ch. Acts 19:21, and 1 Corinthians 16:3-7.

τοῦ ὑποστρ.] The genit. is not (as Meyer) governed directly by γνώμης, which would be more naturally followed by εἰς τὸ ὑπ.: but denotes the purpose, as in reff.


Verse 4

4. ἄρχι τ. ἀσίας] It is not hereby implied that they went no further than to Asia: Trophimus (ch. Acts 21:29) and Aristarchus (ch. Acts 27:2), and probably others, as the bearers of the alms from Macedonia and Corinth (1 Corinthians 16:3-4), accompanied him to Jerusalem.

σώπατρος πύῤῥου βεροιαῖος] This mention of his father is perhaps made to distinguish him (?) from Sosipater, who was with Paul at Corinth (Romans 16:21). The name πύῤῥου has been erased as that of an unknown person, and because the mention of the father is unusual in the N. T.:—no possible reason can be given for its insertion by copyists.

ἀρίσταρχος] See ch. Acts 19:29; Acts 27:2; Colossians 4:10; Philemon 1:24.

Secundus is altogether unknown.

The Gaius here is not the Gaius of ch. Acts 19:29, who was a Macedonian. The epithet δερβαῖος is inserted for distinction’s sake. Timotheus was from Lystra, which probably gives occasion to his being mentioned here in close company with Gaius of Derbe. All attempts to join δερβαῖος with τιμόθεος in the construction are futile. Timotheus was not of Derbe, see ch. Acts 16:1-2; and the name Caius ( γάϊος, Gr.) was far too common to create any difficulty in there being two, or three (see note, ch. Acts 19:29) companions of Paul so called. With conjectural emendations of the text ( δερβ. δὲ τιμοθ., Kuin., Valck.) we have no concern.

ἀσιανοὶ τ. κ. τ.] Tycbicus is mentioned Ephesians 6:21, as sent (to Ephesus from Rome) with that Epistle. He bore also that to the Colossians, Colossians 4:7, at the same time. See also 2 Timothy 4:12; Titus 3:12.

Trophimus, an Ephesian, was in Jerusalem with Paul, ch. Acts 21:29; and had been, shortly before 2 Tim. was written, left sick at Miletus. (See Prolegg. to 2 Tim. § i. 5.)


Verse 5

5. οὗτοι] The persons mentioned in Acts 20:4; not only Tychicus and Trophimns. The mention of Timotheus in this list, distinguished from ἡμᾶς, has created an insuperable difficulty to those who suppose Timotheus himself to be the narrator of what follows: which certainly cannot be got over (as De Wette) by supposing that Timotheus might have inserted himself in the list, and then tacitly excepted himself by the ἡμᾶς afterwards. The truth is apparent here, as well as before, ch. Acts 16:10 (where see note), that the anonymous narrator was in very intimate connexion with Paul; and on this occasion we find him remaining with him when the rest went forward.

προελθ. κ. τ. λ.] For what reason, is not said: but we may well conceive, that if they bore the contributions of the churches, a better opportunity, or safer ship, may have determined Paul to send them on, he himself having work to do at Philippi: or perhaps, again, as Meyer suggests, Paul may have remained behind to keep the days of unleavened bread. But then why should not they have remained too? The same motive may not have operated with them; but in that case no reason can be given why they should have been sent on, except as above. It is not impossible that both may have been combined:—before the end of the days of unleavened bread, a favourable opportunity occurs of sailing to Troas, of which they, with their charge, avail themselves: Paul and Luke waiting till the end of the feast, and taking the risk of a less desirable conveyance. That the feast had something to do with it, the mention of μετὰ τ. . τ. ἀζ. seems to imply: such notices being not inserted ordinarily by Luke for the sake of dates. The assumption made by some (see, e.g. Mr. Lewin, p. 587), that the rest of the company sailed at once for Troas from Corinth, while Paul and Luke went by land to Philippi, is inconsistent with συνείπετο, Acts 20:4. From the notice here, we learn that Paul’s stay in Europe on this occasion was about three-quarters of a year: viz. from shortly after Pentecost, when he left Ephesus (see on ch. Acts 19:10), to the next Easter.


Verse 6

6. ἄχρ. ἡμ. πέντε] in five days, see reff. The wind must have been adverse: for the voyage from Troas to Philippi (Neapolis) in ch. Acts 16:11, seems to have been made in two days. It appears that they arrived on a Monday.

Compare notes, 2 Corinthians 2:12, ff.


Verse 7

7. ἐν τῇ μιᾷ τ. σαββ.] We have here an intimation of the continuance of the practice, which seems to have begun immediately after the Resurrection (see John 20:26), of assembling on the first day of the week for religious purposes. (Justin Martyr, Apol. i. 67, p. 83, says, τῇ τοῦ ἡλίου λεγομένῃ ἡμέρᾳ πάντων κατὰ πόλεις ἢ ἀγροὺς μενόντων ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ συνέλευσις γίνεται.) Perhaps the greatest proof of all, that this day was thus observed, may be found in the early (see 1 Corinthians 16:2) and at length general prevalence, in the Gentile world, of the Jewish seven-day period as a division of time,—which was entirely foreign to Gentile habits. It can only have been introduced as following on the practice of especial honour paid to this day. But we find in the Christian Scriptures no trace of any sabbatical observance of this or any day: nay, in Romans 14:5 (where see note), Paul shews the untenableness of any such view under the Christian dispensation. The idea of the transference of the Jewish sabbath from the seventh day to the first was an invention of later times.

κλάσαι ἄρτον] See note on ch. Acts 2:42. The breaking of bread in the Holy Communion was at this time inseparable from the ἀγάπαι. It took place apparently in the evening (after the day’s work was ended), and at the end of the assembly, after the preaching of the word (Acts 20:11).

αὐτοῖς, in the third person, the discourse being addressed to the disciples at Troas: but the first person is used before and after, because all were assembled, and partook of the breaking of bread together. Not observing this, the copyists have altered ἡμῶν above into τῶν μαθητῶν, and ἦμεν, into ἦσαν to suit αὐτοῖς.


Verse 8

8. λαμπάδ. ἱκ.] This may be noticed, as Meyer observes, to shew that the fall of the young man could be well observed: or, perhaps, because many lights are apt to increase drowsiness at such times. Calvin and Bengel suppose,—in order that all suspicion might be removed from the assembly (‘ut omnis abesset suspicio scandali,’ Beng.); Kuin. and partly Meyer,—that the lights were used for solemnity’s sake,—for that both Jews and Gentiles celebrated their festal days by abundance of lights. But surely the adoption of either Jewish or Gentile practices of this kind in the Christian assemblies was very improbable.


Verse 9

9.] Who Eutychus was, is quite uncertain. The occurrence of the name as belonging to slaves and freedmen (Rosenm. and Heinrichs, from inscriptions), determines nothing.

ἐπὶ τῆς θυρίδος] On the window-seat. The windows in the East were (and are) without glass, and with or without shutters.

καταφερόμενος ὕπν.] Wetstein gives many instances of the use of καταφέρομαι, either absolute, or with εἰς ὕπνον, signifying ‘to be oppressed with, borne down towards, sleep’. Thus Aristotle, de somn. et vig(103) iii. p. 466. b. 31, ed. Bekk.: τὰ ὑπνωτικὰπάντακαρηβαρίανποιεῖκαὶ καταφερόμενοι καὶ νυστάζοντες τοῦτο δοκοῦσιν πάσχειν, καὶ ἀδυνατοῦσιν αἴρειν τὴν κεφαλὴν καὶ τὰ βλέφαρα: and Diod. Sic. iii. 57, κατενεχθεῖσαν εἰς ὕπνον ἰδεῖν ὄψιν.

I believe the word is used here and below in the same sense, not, as usually interpreted, here of the effect of sleep, and below of the fall caused by the sleep. It implies that relaxation of the system, and collapse of the muscular power, which is more or less indicated by our expressions ‘falling asleep,’ ‘dropping asleep.’ This effect is being produced when the first participle is used, which is therefore imperfect,—but as Paul was going on long discoursing, took complete possession of him, and, having been overpowered,—entirely relaxed in consequence of the sleep, he fell.

In the ἤρθη νεκρός here, there is a direct assertion, which can hardly be evaded by explaining it, ‘was taken up for dead,’ as De Wette, Olsh.;—or by saying that it expresses the judgment of those who took him up, as Meyer. It seems to me, that the supposition of a mere suspended animation is as absurd here as in the miracle of Jairus’s daughter, Luke 8:41-56. Let us take the narrative as it stands. The youth falls, and is taken up dead: so much is plainly asserted. (First, let it be remembered that Luke, a physician, was present, who could have at once pronounced on the fact.) Paul, not a physician, but as Apostle,—gifted, not with medical discernment, but with miraculous power, goes down to him, falls on him and embraces him,—a strange proceeding for one bent on discovering suspended animation, but not so for one who bore in mind the action of Elijah (1 Kings 17:21) and Elisha (2 Kings 4:34), each time over a dead body,—and having done this, not before, bids them not to be troubled, for his life was in him. I would ask any unbiassed reader, taking these details into consideration, which of the two is the natural interpretation,—and whether there can be any reasonable doubt that the intent of Luke is to relate a miracle of raising the dead, and that he mentions the falling on and embracing him as the outward significant means taken by the Apostle to that end?


Verse 11

11.] The intended breaking of bread had been put off by the accident.

τὸν ἄρτ., as ch. Acts 2:42. Were it not for that usage, the article here might import, ‘the bread which it was intended to break,’ alluding to ἄρτ. above.

γευσάμενος] having made a meal, see reff. The agape was a veritable meal. Not ‘having tasted it,’ viz. the bread which he had broken;—though that is implied, usage decides for the other meaning.

οὕτως] ‘After so doing:’see reff.


Verse 12

12.] As in the raising of Jairus’s daughter, our Lord commanded that something should be given her to eat, that nature might be recruited, so doubtless here rest and treatment were necessary, in order that the restored life might be confirmed, and the shock recovered. The time indicated by αὐγή must have been before or about 5 A.M.: which would allow about four hours since the miracle. We have here a minute but interesting touch of truth in the narrative. Paul, we learn afterwards, Acts 20:13, intended to go afoot. And accordingly here we have it simply related that he started away from Troas before his companions, not remaining for the reintroduction of the now recovered Eutychus in Acts 20:12.


Verse 13

13. ἄσσον] A sea-port (also called Apollonia, Plin. Acts 20:32) in Mysia or Troas, opposite to Lesbos, twenty-four Roman miles (Peutinger Table) from Troas, built on a high cliff above the sea, with a descent so precipitous as to have prompted a pun of Stratonicus, the musician (see Athen(104) viii., p. 352), on a line of Homer, Il. ζ. 143, ἄσσον ἴθʼ, ὥς κεν θᾶσσον ὀλέθρου πείραθʼ ἵκηαι. Strab. xiii. 1, p. 126, Tauchn.

Paul’s reason is not given for wishing to be alone: probably he had some apostolic visit to make.


Verse 14

14. ΄ιτυλήνην] The capital of Lesbos, on the E. coast of the island, famed (Hor. Od. i. 7. 1: Epist. i. 11.17) for its beautiful situation. It had two harbours: the northern, into which their ship would sail, was μέγας κ. βαθύς, χώματι σκεπαζόμενος, Strabo, xiii. 2, p. 137.


Verse 15

15. παρεβάλ] we put in: so Charon, in the Frogs, to his boatman, ὠόπ, παραβαλοῦ, 180; and 271, παραβαλοῦ τῷ κωπίῳ: see many examples in Wetst. Then they made a short run in the evening to Trogylium, a cape and town on the Ionian coast, only forty stadia distant, where they spent the night. He had passed in front of the bay of Ephesus, and was now but a short distance from it.

΄ίλητον] The ancient capital of Ionia (Herod, i. 142). See 2 Timothy 4:20, and note.


Verse 16

16. κεκρίκει] We see here that the ship was at Paul’s disposal, and probably hired at Philippi, or rather at Neapolis, for the voyage to Patara (ch. Acts 21:1), where he and his company embark in a merchant vessel, going to Tyre. The separation of Paul and Luke from the rest at the beginning of the voyage may have been in some way connected with the hiring or out-fit of this vessel. The expression κεκρίκει (or ἔκρινε, which will amount to the same thing, only it must not be taken ‘for the pluperfect,’ here or any where else) is too subjectively strong to allow of our supposing that the Apostle merely followed the previously determined course of a ship in which he took a passage.

παραπλ. τ. ἔφ.] He may have been afraid of detention there, owing to the machinations of those who had caused the uproar in ch. 19 F. M., in his notes, gives another reason: “He seems to have feared that, had he run up the long gulf to Ephesus, he might he detained in it by the westerly winds, which blow long, especially in the spring.” But these would affect him nearly as much at Miletus.


Verse 17

17.] The distance from Miletus to Ephesus is about thirty miles. He probably, therefore, stayed three or four days altogether at Miletus.

τοὺς πρεσβ.] called, Acts 20:28, ἐπισκόπους. This circumstance began very early to contradict the growing views of the apostolic institution and necessity of prelatical episcopacy. Thus Irenæus, iii. 14. 2, p. 201: ‘In Mileto convocatis episcopis et presbyteris, qui erant ab Epheso et a reliquis proximis civitatibus.’ Here we see (1) the two, bishops and presbyters, distinguished, as if both were sent for, in order that the titles might not seem to belong to the same persons,—and (2) other neighbouring churches also brought in, in order that there might not seem to be ἐπίσκοποι in one church only. That neither of these was the case, is clearly shewn by the plain words of this verse: he sent to Ephesus, and summoned the elders of the church (see below on διῆλθον, Acts 20:25). So early did interested and disingenuous interpretations begin to cloud the light which Scripture might have thrown on ecclesiastical questions. The E. V. has hardly dealt fairly in this case with the sacred text, in rendering ἐπισκόπους, Acts 20:28, ‘overseers;’ whereas it ought there as in all other places to have been bishops, that the fact of elders and bishops having been originally and apostolically synonymous might be apparent to the ordinary English reader, which now it is not.


Verse 18

18.] The evidence furnished by this speech as to the literal report in the Acts of the words spoken by Paul, is most important. It is a treasure-house of words, idioms, and sentiments, peculiarly belonging to the Apostle himself. Many of these appear in the reff., but many more lie beneath the surface, and can only be discovered by a continuous and verbal study of his Epistles. I shall point out such instances of parallelism as I have observed, in the notes.

The contents of the speech may be thus given: He reminds the elders of his conduct among them (Acts 20:18-21): announces to them his final separation from them (Acts 20:22-25): and commends earnestly to them the flock committed to their charge, for which he himself had by word and work disinterestedly laboured (Acts 20:26-35).

ἀπὸ πρ. ἡμ.] These words hold a middle place, partly with ἐπίστασθε, partly with ἐγενόμην. The knowledge on their part was coextensive with his whole stay among them: so that we may take the words with ἐπίστασθε, at the same time carrying on their sense to what follows.

μεθʼ ὑμ. ἐγεν.] So 1 Thessalonians 1:5, οἴδατε οἷοι ἐγενήθημεν ἐν ὑμῖν,—Acts 2:10, ὑμ. μάρτυρεςὡς ὁσίωςὑμῖν τοῖς πιστεύουσιν ἐγενήθημεν. See 1 Corinthians 9:20; 1 Corinthians 9:22.


Verse 19

19. δουλεύων τῷ κυρ] With the sole exception of the assertion of our Lord, ‘Ye cannot serve God and mammon,’ reff. Matt., Luke, the verb δουλεύω for ‘serving God’ is used by Paul only, and by him seven times, viz. besides reff., Romans 12:11; Romans 14:18; Romans 16:18; [Philippians 2:22(?)] Colossians 3:24; 1 Thessalonians 1:9.

μετ. π. ταπ.] Also a Pauline expression, 2 Corinthians 8:7; 2 Corinthians 12:12.

πειρασμῶν] See especially Galatians 4:14.


Verse 20

20. ὑπεστειλάμην] So again Acts 20:27. The sense in Galatians 2:12 is similar, though not exactly identical—‘reserved himself,’ withdrew himself from any open declaration of sentiments. In Hebrews 10:38 it is different.

τῶν συμφερ.] See reff.


Verse 21

21. εἰς θ εἰς τ. κύρ ἰ.] This use of εἰς is mostly Pauline: and in ch. Acts 24:24 it seems to be taken from his own expression.


Verse 22

22. δεδεμένος τῷ πνεύματι] bound in my spirit. This interpretation is most probable, both from the construction, and from the usage of the expression τὸ πνεῦμα repeatedly by and of Paul in the sense of his own spirit. See ch. reff., where the principal instances are given. The dative, as here, is found Romans 12:11, τῷ πν. ζέοντες,—1 Corinthians 5:3, παρὼν τῷ πνεύμ. (1 Corinthians 14:15-16?),—2 Corinthians 2:13, οὐκ ἔσχηκα ἄνεσιν τῷ πν. μου, and al., see also ch. Acts 19:21. How he was bound in the spirit is manifest, by comparing other passages, where the Holy Spirit of God is related to have shaped his apostolic course. He was bound, by the Spirit of God leading captive, constraining, his own spirit.

As he went up to Jerusalem δεδεμένος τῷ πνεύματι, so he left Judæa again δεδεμένος τῇ σαρκί,—a prisoner according to the flesh.

He had no detailed knowledge of futurity—nothing but what the Holy Spirit, in general forewarning, repeated at every point of his journey ( κατὰ πόλιν; see ch. Acts 21:4; Acts 21:11, for two such instances), announced, viz., imprisonment and tribulations. That here no inner voice of the Spirit is meant, is evident from the words κατὰ πόλιν. (Two of the three other places where this phrase occurs are from the mouth or pen of Paul.)


Verse 23

23. τὸ πν. διαμαρτύρ.] Compare Romans 8:16, τὸ πνεῦμα συμμαρτυρεῖ τῷ πν. ἡμῶν


Verse 24

24.] The reading in the text, amidst all the varieties, seems to be that out of which the others have all arisen, and whose difficulties they more or less explain. The first clause is a combination of two constructions, οὐδενὸς λόγου ποιοῦμαι τὴν ψυχὴν ἐμαυτοῦ, and οὐ ποιοῦμαι ( ἡγοῦμαι, Philippians 3:7-8) τὴν ψυχὴν τιμίαν ἐμαυτῷ. The best rendering in English would be, I hold my life of no account, nor precious to me. Then again the confused construction of the former clause shews itself in the ὡς of the latter, which is not ‘so that,’ but ‘as,’ q. d. before, ‘so precious.’ ‘I do not value my life, in comparison with the finishing my course.’ Render then the whole verse: But I hold my life of no account, nor is it so precious to me, as the finishing of my course.

τελειῶσαι] See the same image, with the same word, remarkably expanded, Philippians 3:12-14. There in Acts 20:12 he has used τετελείωμαι,—and,—as is constantly the case when we are in the habit of connecting certain words together,—the δρόμος immediately occurs to him, which he works into a sublime comparison in Acts 20:14.

δρόμον] A similitude peculiar to Paul: occurring, remarkably enough, in his speech at ch. Acts 13:25. He uses it without the word δρ., at 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, and Philippians 3:14

καὶ τ. δ.] and (i.e. even) the ministry, &c. καί in this sense gives that which, in matter of fact, runs parallel with the metaphorical expression just used,—stands beside it as its antitype.

ἔλαβον] Compare Romans 1:5, διʼ οὗ ἐλάβομεν χάριν κ. ἀποστολήν.


Verse 25

25.] It has been argued from ἐν οἷς διῆλθον, that the elders of other churches besides that of Ephesus must have been present. But it might just as well have been argued, that every one to whom Paul had there preached must have been present, on account of the word πάντες. If he could regard the elders as the representatives of the various churches, of which there can be no doubt, why may not he similarly have regarded the Ephesian elders as representatives of the churches of proconsular Asia, and have addressed all in addressing them? Or may not these words have even a wider application, viz., to all who had been the subjects of his former personal ministry, in Asia and Europe, now addressed through the Ephesian elders? See the question, whether Paul ever did see the Asiatic churches again, discussed in the Prolegg. to the Pastoral Epistles, § ii. 18 ff. I may remark here, that the word οἶδα, in the mouth of Paul, does not necessarily imply that he spoke from divine and unerring knowledge, but expresses his own conviction of the certainty of what he is saying: see ch. Acts 26:27, which is much to our point, as expressing his firm persuasion that king Agrippa was a believer in the prophets: but certainly no infallible knowledge of his heart:—Romans 15:29, where also a firm persuasion is expressed:—Philippians 1:19-20, where οἶδα, Acts 20:19, is explained to rest on ἀποκαραδοκία καὶ ἐλπίς in Acts 20:20. So that he may here ground his expectation of never seeing them again, on the plan of making a journey into the west after seeing Rome, which he mentions Romans 15:24; Romans 15:28, and from which, with bonds and imprisonment and other dangers awaiting him, he might well expect never to return. So that what he here says need not fetter our judgment on the above question.


Verse 26

26.] The use of μαρτύρομαι is peculiar to Paul, see reff.


Verse 28

28. προσέχ. ἑαυτοῖς] If we might venture to trace the hand of Luke in the speech, it would be perhaps in this phrase: which occurs only as in reff.

τ. ποιμνίῳ] This similitude does not elsewhere occur in Paul’s writings. We find it (reff.) where we should naturally expect it, used by him to whom it was said, ‘Feed my sheep.’ But it is common in the O. T. and sanctioned by the example of our Lord Himself.

τὸ πν. τ. ἅγ.] See ch. Acts 13:2

ἔθετο] So Paul, reff. 1 Cor.

ἐπισκόπους] See on Acts 20:17, and Theodoret on Philippians 1:1, ἐπισκόπους τοὺς πρεσβυτέρους καλεῖ· ἀμφότερα γὰρ εἶχον κατʼ ἐκεῖνον τὸν καιρὸν τὰ ὀνόματα (Olsh.).

The question between θεοῦ and κυρίου rests principally on internal evidence—which of the two is likely to have been the original reading. The manuscript authority, now that it is certain that (105) has θεοῦ a prima manu, as also (106), is weighty on both sides. The early patristic authority for the expression αἷμα θεοῦ is considerable. Ignat. Ephesians 1, p. 644, has ἀναζωπυρήσαντες ἐν αἵματι θεοῦ. Tertull. ad Uxor. ii. 3, vol. i., p. 1293, “pretio empti, et quali pretio? sanguine Dei.” Clem(107) Alex., ‘Quis dives salvus,’ c. 34, vol. ii., p. 344, has δυνάμει θεοῦ πατρός, κ. αἵματι θεοῦ παιδός, κ. δρόσῳ πνεύματος ἁγίου. On the other hand Athanasius (contra Apol. ii. 14, vol. ii., p. 758) says, οὐδαμοῦ δὲ αἶμα θεοῦ δίχα σαρκὸς παραδεδώκασιν αἱ γραφαί, ἢ θεὸν δίχα σαρκὸς παθόντα ἢ ἀναστάντα. In attempting to decide between the two readings, the following alternatives and considerations may be put: (I.) IF κυρίου WAS THE ORIGINAL, it is very possible (1) that some busy scribe may have written at the side, as so often occurs, θεοῦ. This having been once done, the interests of orthodoxy would perpetuate the gloss, and by degrees it would be adopted into the text and supersede the original word, or become combined with it, as is actually the case in (108) (109) and a vast body of mss. Or, continuing supposition I., it may have been (2) that the expression ἐκκλησίαν τοῦ κυρίου, not found any where else, may have been corrected into the very usual one, ἐκκλ. ( τοῦ) θεοῦ, which occurs eleven times in the Epistles of Paul. Or (3), which I consider exceedingly improbable (see below), the alteration may have been made solely in the interest of orthodoxy. Such are possible, and the two former not improbable, contingencies.

On the other hand (II.) IF θεοῦ WAS THE ORIGINAL, but one reason can be given why it should have been altered to κυρίου, and that one was sure to have operated. It would stand as a bulwark against Arianism, an assertion which no skill could evade, which must therefore be modified. If θεοῦ stood in the text originally, it was sure to be altered to κυοίου. The converse was not sure, nor indeed likely, from similar reasons, the passage offering no stumbling-block to orthodoxy. (III.) PAULINE USAGE must be allowed its fair weight in the enquiry. It must be remembered that we are in the midst of a speech, which is (as observed in the Prolegg. to Acts, § ii. 17 a) a complete storehouse of Pauline words and expressions. Is it per se probable, that he should use an expression which no where else occurs in his writings, nor indeed in those of his contemporaries? Is it more probable, that the early scribes should have altered an unusual expression for an usual one, or that a writer so constant to his own phrases should here have remained so? Besides,—in most of the places where Paul uses ἐκκλησία τοῦ θεοῦ, it is in a manner precisely similar to this,—as the consummation of a climax, or in a position of peculiar solemnity, cf. 1 Corinthians 10:32; 1 Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:13; 1 Timothy 3:5; 1 Timothy 3:15; and, cæteris paribus, I submit that the present passage loses by the substitution of κυρίου the peculiar emphasis which its structure and context seem to require in the genitive, introduced as it is by προσέχετεποιμαίνειν, and followed by the intensifying clause ἣν περιεποιήσατο διὰ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ ἰδίου. (IV.) On the whole then, weighing the evidence on both sides,—seeing that it is more likely that the alteration should have been to κυρίου than to θεοῦ,—more likely that the speaker should have used θεοῦ than κυρίου, and more consonant to the evidently emphatic position of the word, I have decided for the rec. reading, which in Edd. 1, 2 I had rejected. And this decision is confirmed by observing the habits of the great MSS. respecting the sacred names. It appears that (110) has no bias for θεός where the others have κύριος: we find it thus reading in Luke 2:38 (so (111) (112) (113)1(114) (115)); ch. Acts 16:10 (so (116) (117) (118) (119)); Acts 17:27 (so (120) (121) (122) (123)); Acts 21:20 (so (124) (125) (126) (127) (128)); Colossians 3:16 (so (129) (130)1D1F(131)); while on the other hand it has κ̅ υ̅ ι̅ υ̅ in Romans 15:32, where the others have θ̅ υ̅ or χ̅ υ̅ ι̅ υ̅; χ̅ υ̅ in Ephesians 5:21, where rec. has θ̅ υ̅; κ̅ υ̅ in ch. Acts 8:22, with ACDE(132), where rec. and the mss. have θ̅ υ̅: similarly in ch. Acts 10:33, and Acts 15:40; in Romans 10:17 χ̅ υ̅, with (133) (134)1(135)1, for θ̅ υ̅: Acts 14:4, κ̅ ς̅ with (136) (137)1(138), for θ̅ ς̅. This evidence seems to remove further off the chance of deliberate alteration here to θεοῦ, and leaves the above considerations their full weight. (V.) Of course any reading which combines the two, κυρίου and θεοῦ, is by the very first principles of textual criticism inadmissible. (VI.) The principal names on either side are—for the rec. θεοῦ, Mill, Wolf, Bengel, Matthäi, Scholz: for κυρίου, Grotius, Le Clerc, Wetst., Griesb., Kuin., De Wette, Meyer, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles.

περιεπ.] Luke and Paul (in pastoral Epp. only), see reff.


Verse 29

29.] ἄφιξις is here used in an unusual sense. An instance is found, Jos. Antt. iv. 8. 47, where Moses says, ἐπεὶ πρὸς τοὺς ἡμετέρους ἄπειμι προγόνους, καὶ θεὸς τήνδε μοι τὴν ἡμέραν τῆς πρὸς ἐκείνους ἀφίξεως ὥρισε … which is somewhat analogous, but more easily explained. That in Herod. ix. 77 (init.) also seems analogous. In Demosth. de Pace, p. 58 (fin.), we have τὴν τότε ἄφιξιν εἰς τοὺς πολεμίους ἐποιήσατο, which is most like the usage here. Perhaps, absolutely put, it must signify ‘my death;’ see the above passage of Josephus.

λύκοι βαρεῖς] not persecutors, but false teachers, from the words εἰσελ. εἰς ὑμᾶς, by which it appears that they were to come in among the flock, i.e. to be baptized Christians. In fact Acts 20:30 is explanatory of the metaphoric meaning of Acts 20:29.

φείδομαι is only used by Paul, except 2 Peter 2:4-5.


Verse 30

30.] ὑμῶν αὐτ. does not necessarily signify the presbyters: he speaks to them as being the whole flock.


Verse 31

31.] μνημ. ὅτι is only (retf.) used by Paul.

νύκτα κ. ἡμέραν] This expression is remarkable: we have it (see reff.) in Mark, but Luke always uses the genitive, except in the speeches of Paul: and so Paul himself, except as in reff.

νουθετῶν (reff.) is used only by Paul.

On the three years spoken of in this verse, see note, ch. Acts 19:10. We may just remark here (1) that this passage being precise and definite, must be the master key to those others (as in ch. 19) which give wide and indefinite notes of time: and (2) that it seems at first sight to preclude the idea of a journey (as some think) to Crete and Corinth having taken place during this period. But this apparent inference may require modifying by other circumstances: cf. Prolegg. to 1 Cor. § Acts 20:4.


Verse 32

32. τ. λόγ. τῆς χάρ. αὐτ.] I should be inclined to attribute the occurrence of this expression in ch. Acts 14:3, to the narrative having come from Paul himself, or from one imbued with his words and habits of thought. See Acts 20:24.

τῷ δυν.] Clearly spoken of God, not of the word of His grace, which cannot be said δοῦναι κληρον., however it might οἰκοδομῆσαι.

The expression κληρον. ἐν τ. ἡγ. πᾶς. is strikingly similar to τῆς κληρονομίας αὐτοῦ ἐν τοῖς ἁγίοις, Ephesians 1:18, addressed to this same church. See also ch. Acts 26:18.


Verse 33

33.] See 1 Samuel 12:3; and for similar avowals by Paul himself, 1 Corinthians 9:11-12; 2 Corinthians 11:8-9; 2 Corinthians 12:13.


Verse 34

34.] See 1 Corinthians 4:12, which he wrote when at Ephesus.

χρεία with a gen. of the person in want, is an expression of Paul only; see among reff.

ὑπηρετεῖν is used only twice more; once by Paul, ch. Acts 13:36, once of Paul, ch. Acts 24:23.

The construction is varied in this sentence.

ταῖς χρ. μου, καὶ (not τῶν ὄντων, but) τοῖς οὖσιν μετʼ ἐμοῦ. This is not without meaning—his friends were among his χρεῖαι—he supplied by his labour, not his and their wants, but his wants and them.

αἱ χ. αὗται] also [strikingly] in Paul’s manner: compare τῶνδεσμῶν τούτων, ch. Acts 26:29,—and ch. Acts 28:20.


Verse 35

35. πάντα] In all things: so Paul (only), see reff.

κοπιῶντας] A word used by Paul fourteen times, by Luke once only (Luke 5:5 (Luke 12:27 v. r.)).

τῶν ἀσθενούντων] Not here the weak in faith (Romans 14:1. 1 Corinthians 8:9), as Calvin, Beza, Grot., Bengel, Neander, Meyer, Tholuck,—which the context both before and after will not allow:—but the poor ( τοὺς πένητας ἀσθενοῦντας, Aristoph. Pac(139) 636. ὅ τε γὰρ ἀσθενέστερος ὁ πλούσιός τε τὴν δίκην ἴσην ἔχει, Eurip. ap. Stob. cxv. (Wetst.)), as Chrys., Theoph., Heinrichs, Kuin., Olsh., De Wette.

΄ακ. ἐστιν κ. τ. λ.] This saying of our Lord is one of very few not recorded in the Gospels, which have come down to us. Many such must have been current in the apostolic times, and are possibly preserved, unknown to us, in such epistles as those of James, Peter, and John. Bengel remarks, ‘alia mundi sententia est:’ and cites from an old poet in Athenæus, viii. 5, ἀνόητος ὁ διδούς, εὐτυχὴς δʼ ὁ λαμβάνων But we have some sayings the other way: not to quote authors who wrote after this date, and might have imbibed some of the spirit of Christianity, we find in Aristotle, Eth. Nicom. iv. 1, μᾶλλόν ἐστιν τοῦ ἐλευθερίου τὸ διδόναι οἷς δεὶ ἢ λαμβάνειν ὅθεν δεῖ, καὶ μὴ λαμβάνειν ὅθεν οὐ δεῖ. τῆς ἀρετῆς γὰρ μᾶλλον τὸ εὖ ποιεῖν ἢ τὸ εὖ πάσχειν.

 


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Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Acts 20:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/acts-20.html. 1863-1878.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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