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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Acts 13

 

 

Verse 1

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

'The first seven chapters of this book (says Baumgarten) might be entitled, The Church among the Jews; the next five (Acts 8:1-40; Acts 9:1-43; Acts 10:1-48; Acts 11:1-30; Acts 12:1-25), The Church in Transition from Jews to Gentiles; and the last sixteen (Acts 13:1-52; Acts 14:1-28; Acts 15:1-41; Acts 16:1-40; Acts 17:1-34; Acts 18:1-28; Acts 19:1-41; Acts 20:1-38; Acts 21:1-40; Acts 22:1-30; Acts 23:1-35; Acts 24:1-27; Acts 25:1-27; Acts 26:1-32; Acts 27:1-44; Acts 28:1-31.), The Church among the Gentiles.' Though Christianity had already spread beyond the limits of Palestine, still the Church (to use the words of Olshausen) continued a stranger to formal missionary effort. Casual occurrences, particularly the persecution at Jerusalem (Acts 8:2), had hitherto brought about the diffusion of the Gospel. It was from Antioch that teachers were first sent forth with the definite purpose of spreading Christianity, and organizing churches with regular institutions (Acts 14:23).

State of the Church at Antioch-Call, Ordination, and Dismission of Barnabas and Saul as Missionaries to the Pagan People ()

Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. This whole verse should read thus: 'Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there [ Eesan (Greek #2258) de (Greek #1161) tines (Greek #5100) en (Greek #1722) Antiocheia (Greek #490) kata (Greek #2596) teen (Greek #3588) ousan (Greek #5607) ekkleesian (Greek #1577)], prophets and teachers; both Barnabas and Simeon called Niger, and Lucius the Cyrenaean [ ho (Greek #3588) Kureenaios (Greek #2956)], and Manaen, foster-brother of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.' The word "certain" [ tines (Greek #5100)] is with reason excluded from the text by Lachmann and Tischendorf. It is at least unnecessary. Our version, by prefixing "as" to the five names given in this verse, conveys to the English reader the impression that there were more prophets and teachers at Antioch than these five; whereas the historian's phrase [ ho (Greek #3739) te (Greek #5037)] is intended to express the reverse of this-namely, that these five were the whole number: just as in Acts 1:13, where the same phrase is rendered "both" (though in modern English we apply "both" only to two).

The word we have rendered 'foster-brother' [ suntrofos (Greek #4939)], though sometimes used in the wide sense of 'a comrade in youth,' ordinarily denotes 'one suckled at the same breast;' and the best critics so understand it here. These five names deserve notice. Barnabas is named first, no doubt as occupying the chief place at that time in the church of Antioch, while Saul-as having come last on this field, and possibly also as the youngest of the five-is last named. Of the three intermediate names, just enough is said to enable us with tolerable certainty to identify them. To begin with the middle one - "Lucius," the same probably to whom Paul sends a salutation in his Epistle to the Romans (Acts 16:21), here called "the Cyrenaean," as if by that name he would be at once recognized-this man must have been one of those "Cypriots and Cyrenaeans," by whom the Gospel was first brought to Antioch (Acts 11:20).

Though but a simple "disciple," when persecution drove him from Jerusalem, he had given evidence, when associated with Barnabas and Saul in the care of the church at Antioch, of capacity for the higher departments of the Christian ministry, and having "purchased to himself a good degree," had been at length endowed from on high with the prophetic gift. Coming next to "Simeon" (of whom we know nothing beyond what is here stated), if he was called "Niger" from his tawny complexion, may we not conclude that he also was from the warm south, and one of those to whom Antioch first owed the Gospel? In connection with the remaining name, "Manaen," the same as "Menahem," one of the kings of Israel (2 Kings 15:14), a singular fact is added. One wonders to find that among the prophets and teachers of a Christian church at Antioch was the 'foster-brother' of so licentious and cruel a character as Herod the tetrarch.

But is it much more surprising than to find among the blessed women who accompanied the Lord Jesus Himself, in one of His preaching tours through Galilee, and ministered to Him of their substance, "Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward?" (See the notes at Luke 8:1-3.) If this Manaen was attracted to Peraea after his foster-brother's accession to power, he might have heard the Gospel from the lips of Christ Himself when He sojourned there, or from one of His disciples; and if he came to Jerusalem among the multitudes who flocked to it at Pentecost, and was one of the thousands of converts during those first days of the Gospel, remaining with them until driven thence by persecution, he may just as well have joined the small party who found their way to Antioch as have gone anywhere else, and may have been honoured, along with them, to plant the standard of the Cross there. And if so, then in the five men here named we have just the original founders of the church at Antioch (three of them at least), with Barnabas, to whom all would look up, and Saul, who was soon to eclipse even him.

How differently did these two foster-brothers turn out-the one, abandoned to a licentious life and stained with the blood of the most distinguished of God's prophets, though not without his fits of reformation and seasons of remorse; the other, a devoted disciple of the Lord Jesus, and prophet of the Church at Antioch! But this is only what may be seen in every age: "Even so, Father, for so it seemeth good in thy sight." With respect to the two offices here mentioned, the "prophets" of the New Testament, as we have seen (on Acts 11:27), did not necessarily predict future events, though they often did so. They were simply inspired persons, immediately revealing by the Spirit the mind of the great Head of the Church. Hence, in the lists of the New Testament offices, they stand always next to the apostles, as along with them giving law to the Christian Church - "First, apostles; secondarily, prophets," (1 Corinthians 12:28): "Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets" (Ephesians 2:20): "And he gave some, apostles, and some, prophets" (Ephesians 4:11).

Compare also Revelation 18:20. (The reader must be careful not to confound the "prophets" in these passages with those of the Old Testament, to whom there is no reference.) The "teachers," as the name imports, addicted themselves to the second great department of the Christian ministry - "teaching them" (as Christ gave it forth on Mount Olivet just before His ascension), "to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:20). While the prophets seem to have acted as teachers also, it does not appear that the teachers were necessarily prophets. To which of the two offices the five here named are to be respectively assigned, we cannot be certain; but if, as we can hardly doubt, Barnabas and Saul were the distinguished "teachers," we cannot be far wrong in presuming that the other three, while acting as their assistants in the teaching department, were endued with the prophetic gift also; a presumption confirmed by the fact that the prophetic call, to which we are next to come - "Separate me Barnabas and Saul" - must have proceeded from others than themselves; and if so, surely from one or other of the remaining three.

We now come to the memorable incident which gate birth to by far the most important movement in the Christian Church, next to its first formation on the Day of Pentecost.


Verse 2

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

As they ministered to the Lord , [ leitourgountoon (Greek #3008)]. This word, though in classical Greek signifying to perform any public duties, is used in the Septuagint to denote the exercise of the priestly functions (compare Hebrews 10:11, Gr.), and in the New Testament expresses the corresponding functions in the Christian Church.

And fasted, the Holy Spirit said - said how? speaking, no doubt, through one of the "prophets" named in Acts 13:1.

Separate me , [ aforisate (Greek #873) moi (Greek #3427)]. It is worthy of notice that the apostle himself uses the same word to express two divine acts (the one of providence, the other of grace) toward himself, designed to prepare him for the great work to which he was called-the one at his birth, the other at his conversion to Christ: "When it pleased God (says he), who separated me [ aforisas (Greek #873)] from my mother's womb, and called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me," etc. (Galatians 1:15-16); and again, "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated [ aforismenos (Greek #873)] unto the Gospel of God," etc. (Romans 1:1). Those who deny the Personality of the Holy Spirit must find it hard to make any tolerable sense of the command which He is here said to have issued; while His supreme and proper divinity is evident on the face of it; because who could suppose a mere creature saying, "Separate unto Me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have summoned them?" The authenticity of this history may be called in question; but if that be admitted, it speaks for itself as to the faith of the early Church regarding the Holy Spirit.

Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them , [ proskekleemai (Greek #4341), here used in a middle sense] - rather 'summoned them;' probably by some explicit communication made through one of the "prophets" named in Acts 13:1. This is the more probable, as it will be observed that the express purpose of this summons is not at all mentioned in the terms of it; and yet the whole church at Antioch, as if quite understanding that the purpose of it was to carry the Gospel to the pagan, immediately proceeded to set them apart to that work. And since fasting was an exercise observed on occasions of unusual solemnity, is it not altogether probable that the church at Antioch had assembled on this occasion for special prayer with fasting, on the subject of its duty toward the great pagan world, in the hope that some definite intimation of the divine will in this matter might be vouchsafed to them? Certain it is that the conversion of the Gentiles had been laid upon Saul as his special vocation from the very time of his conversion (Acts 26:16-18; Acts 9:15); nor would his capacious spirit deem any field that had yet opened to him sufficiently wide to meet such a destination; and since frequent communications on this subject could hardly fail to pass between him and Barnabas, in the course of their work at Antioch, we may be very sure that Barnabas, whom the Lord himself had destined to be his companion, would cordially enter into the desire for some wider field, and offer to accompany his young coadjutor as soon as the mind of their common Lord should be made known to them.

Probably, as the Lord's time for sending them forth drew near, the subject would be borne in upon the minds of both with increasing force, and, spreading from them to the other "prophets and teachers" at Antioch, would go from them to the brethren at large, to whose Gentile nationality and enterprising spirit the proposal to go on a mission to the pagan would present lively attractions. Such, or something very like this, we may well suppose, would be the object of that meeting which we are now considering, at which the Lord, by one of those prophets, said, "Separate unto me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have summoned them." Nor was the church at Antioch "disobedient unto the heavenly vision;" for, adds the historian,


Verse 3

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

And when they had fasted and prayed. As they were ministering to the Lord and fasting when this supernatural direction came to them, so now, in fulfilling it, they engage in the same exercises.

And laid their hands on them (see the note at Acts 6:6) - "recommending them (as we afterward learn that they did, Acts 14:26) to the grace of God for the work which they had to fulfil."

They sent them away - that is, this church itself did so. And thus did they go forth with a double call: they were summoned forth to this work by the Holy Spirit, and by the church at Antioch they were 'sent away.' Accordingly, the historian adds --


Verse 4

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

So they, being sent forth by the Holy Spirit, departed.

Remarks:

(1) How little mere critical acumen, especially when tainted by unhappy rationalistic prejudice, suffices to throw light on such a history as this-or rather, how it often darkens what is perfectly clear-appears strikingly in the argument of Schleirmacher against the historical accuracy of this book, drawn from the order in which the five persons are named in Acts 13:1. He thinks it incredible that, in any authentic narrative of these events, the last place should have been assigned to Saul. Even Bengel and Baumgarten, who set this down to the apostle's modesty and humility, have not taken such a natural view of the passage as they might have done. In the light of the simple explanation we have given, we venture to think that the historian has arranged the names just as the circumstances of the case at the time would naturally suggest. Be this, however, as it may, can anything more painfully show how critical sagacity can distort what it seeks to illustrate, than this petty cavil of the great German?

(2) The distinction between what is official and what is purely spontaneous in the work of the Church, comes instructively out in this short section. Not to speak of the labours of Stephen at Jerusalem and of Philip at Samaria-though holding no official position, that we know of, beyond that of deacons for the distribution of temporal provisions-it was surely good substantial missionary work which was done, all spontaneously, by those persecuted disciples who found their way to Antioch; and a rare seal it was which the Lord put upon it, when out of it He made to stand forth that new thing in Christianity-a church of the uncircumcised, and one which so won the admiration of Barnabas that he was constrained to throw himself into it as a congenial field of labour, and found it rich beyond his unaided power of cultivation. But when something more systematic, more continuous, more difficult was required in the missionary field, and Barnabas and Saul were to be honoured to undertake it, an express order of the Spirit comes through prophetic men to "Separate unto Him" those two men for the missionary work whereunto He had summoned them. Yet this being done by the laying on of hands, with prayer and fasting, they are said to have been "sent forth," not by the church that set them apart, but "by the Holy Spirit." It is impossible not to see in this an evidence that there was designed to be in the Church a work of ministry of a higher and more formal character than the spontaneous evangelistic efforts of private Christians, which the Church should nevertheless develop and encourage, and on which the Lord will assuredly smile.

And further, from this incident it will be seen to be the will of the great Head of the Church that those whom He has called to such official work should not go forth to it of themselves, but should by the Church, through its recognized organs, be taken by the hand and solemnly set apart to it. These two spheres of Christian labour-the official and the non-official-agree well together, and each is fitted to strengthen the other. On the one hand, those private Christians whose gifts and impulses for evangelistic labour will not suffer them to keep silence, but constrain them to speak the things which they have seen and heard, should be content to occupy their own sphere, and be satisfied with the success-sometimes astonishing-which attends their casual, scattered, miscellaneous efforts, without intruding into the higher spheres of the Christian ministry; which when they do, they make it painfully evident to all discerning persons that they are out of their proper walk.

But those, on the other hand, who have been solemnly set apart to official service in the Church, should beware of frowning down the work of such as have received no formal 'separation' to it, and viewing its results with suspicion, as irregular and disorderly. In times of spiritual lethargy there will be few such efforts to put down. But when the dry bones of an apathetic Christian community begin to be shaken, and the breath of the Spirit of God enters into a multitude of souls in different places, then it is that quickened Christians, rejoicing in a felt salvation, speak, because they believe, wherever they have an open door; and while in general confining themselves to very limited spheres and quiet modes of operation, some discover themselves to possess rare preaching gifts, whose fervid addresses are listened to by gathering thousands, and hundreds are turned through them from darkness to light, as they move about from place to place.

Such work it will be the wisdom of the true ministers of Christ to recognize and to hail. The solid fruit of it, when the workmen have departed to another place, remains for them to gather, in the accession to their flocks of souls added to the Lord, to be by them built up on their most holy Faith, in a deepened earnestness, diffusing itself perhaps over the entire worshipping community, and in a quickened tone imparted to their own ministry. It is only when such zealous labourers, lifted off their feet by the success they have had, begin to think of settling down in some one place, and setting up for themselves as pastors of a flock, that they are to be blamed. But neither in this case need the ministers of Christ disturb themselves; because the most effectual way of dealing with such persons is to leave them to themselves, until their folly becomes manifest to all men, and they themselves are fain to leave a field which the result has proved their incapacity to cultivate.

(3) The strength and activity into which this Antiochene church appears to have risen so rapidly may furnish materials for thought as to how the energies of young Christian communities may be developed. The special way in which the Gospel first reached them, and the novelty at that time of a church composed, as theirs was, of the uncircumcised, tended no doubt to stamp upon it a certain freedom from traditional trammels, and a simplicity and freshness of character all its own. But even when Barnabas came to them from Jerusalem, and remained to labour among them, aided afterward by Saul from Tarsus, no jarring seems to have occurred between what may be called the official and the non-official elements, but both seem to have worked harmoniously, and the Gospel to have made steady progress. Then, when the predicted famine brought distress upon their Jewish brethren in Palestine, they raised a contribution for them, thinking probably that if the Jews had sown unto them spiritual things, it was no great thing if they in turn should reap of their carnal things (1 Corinthians 9:11).

And as this act appears to have been self-prompted on the part of the Gentile Christians at Antioch, rather than done in compliance with the suggestions of Barnabas and Saul, we are disposed to think that the very absence of apostles and apostolic men, at the first formation of this church, tended to develop a spirit of self-reliance and spontaneous activity, which rose into vigour when they were more fully organized. Certain it is that, in proportion as the people in Christian churches are overlaid by ecclesiastical machinery, and are accustomed to have all things done for them by men officially set apart for such purposes, their own energies either lie dormant or are greatly cramped; whereas, when they are taught and encouraged from the first to show practically what they owe to the Lord who bought them, to their fellow-believers scattered abroad, and to the vast outlying world, they are not slow to learn the lesson. What beautiful illustrations of this are afforded by the religious activities of young Christian communities that have sprung up within our own time in various parts of the world-in the South Seas, in the revived Nestorian Church, and in some parts of India!

(4) The special fitness of the two men selected by the Spirit to inaugurate the grand Missionary Enterprise must strike every intelligent reader. Barnabas, as a Levite, a man of substance and a Cypriot, already of mature years, would carry a certain weight with him; his largeness of heart (Acts 11:24), and persuasiveness of address (Acts 4:36), would find him ready audience for his Master's message; while that fullness of the Spirit and of faith by which he was distinguished would raise him above hardships and dangers, draw forth his compassion for perishing souls, and enable him to hold up to them the sovereign remedy with unction and power. It may surprise us that we have no such specimens of his preaching as of Saul's, nor indeed any express mention of his having ever addressed the people whom they visited; but, perhaps, that is owing to the particular department of the work which he selected. If we put together all that we read of him, we shall probably not err in supposing that while Saul undertook the more public proclamation of the Gospel, and disputed with those who opposed themselves, the less prominent but scarcely less important department of private conversation-answering inquiries, filling up the outlines and enlarging on the topics rapidly touched by his companion-fell to the lot of 'the son of exhortation.' As for Saul, his wonderful power of adapting himself equally to Jewish and Gentile audiences, to the refined Greeks of Athens and the rude barbarians of Lycaonia, to crowds in the streets of Jerusalem and to a few women assembled for prayer on the green bank of a river at Philippi, to a sanhedrim of Jewish ecclesiastics, and to the civil tribunal before Agrippa and Festus, has impressed every thoughtful reader of his history; while his heroic devotedness to Him whose Gospel he had once hoped to root out from the earth, and that rare combination of intellectual power, energy of purpose, and womanly tenderness, which make his addresses go to the stoutest heart, stamp him as a man of an age.

We speak not here of his writings, but of his qualities by nature and his gifts by grace as a missionary preacher and teacher of Christianity, in which he stands forth confessedly unmatched. But if each of these men was richly endowed for the work entrusted to them, their adaptation to each other is not less observable. The service which Barnabas rendered to Saul on his first visit to Jerusalem after his conversion, in removing the scruples of the apostles as to his real character, would never be forgotten; and his going to Tarsus for him, and the harmony and success with which they laboured together at Antioch, went together to Jerusalem with a contribution for their necessitous brethren, and together returned to renew their labours, until they received the divine call to go forth on this great mission-all go to show them well matched, probably by nature, and certainly by long association in the work of the Lord.

Finally, it ought not to escape notice that those who were divinely selected to begin the great missionary enterprise were not novices-however gifted, however devoted-but men already inured to work of that very kind, both in the Jewish field and in the Gentile; while the younger of them, who was to eclipse not only his senior but all others in the service of Christ, had already endured no little hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ, his life having more than once been in imminent peril from the enemies of the Gospel. Is there no lesson here to the churches of our own day, as to the choice of men for the missionary work? We may, indeed, be glad to take what materials we have, rather than neglect the great duty of making disciples of all nations until men of high capacity and Christian attainments volunteer their services. But if there is one truth which more clearly than another stands out on the face of this narrative, it is this, that the Lord of the Church deems the missionary work a field for the highest endowments both of nature and of grace; and that as those who possess them should be prepared to consecrate them to this work, when the divine will to that effect is sufficiently indicated, so the Church should count it an honour and privilege to give away to this service the best of its sons.

Sailing to Cyprus, They Preach in the Synagogues of Salamis-At Paphos Elymas Is Struck Blind, and the Proconsul Is Converted ()

So they, being sent forth by the Holy Spirit, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus - in order to take ship there (see the account of Antioch and Cyprus on Acts 11:19). 'The two apostles (says Baumgarten beautifully) are now standing on the shore of that great sea which washes the islands and the coasts on which are situated the central interests of the nations and languages of the earth. Shall they then at once set off for the ultimate object of their labours, or only attempt gradually to draw near to that their highest but remotest aim? To their spiritual eye, piercing into the remote distance, the great island of Cyprus is the first object that presents itself. It was the birthplace of Barnabas, and the native country of all those who had especially contributed to the formation of the first church of the Gentiles in Antioch. How could they ever pass this island, which possessed so many ties and attractions to them? Such considerations induced them to make Cyprus their first landing-place, and the first scene of their labours.'


Verse 5

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

And when they were at Salamis - the Grecian capital of the island, situated on its eastern side, and not many hours' sail from Seleucia,

They preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. At this busy mercantile port immense numbers of Jews were settled; which accounts for its being here said that they had more than one synagogue, in which Barnabas and Saul preached, while other cities had one only. Zeller (of the Tubingen school of critics) makes a miserable attack on the authenticity of this book, grounded on their being sent forth to preach to the Gentiles while yet they are represented as beginning their mission by doing just the reverse-preaching to the Jews and neglecting the Gentiles. But who knows not that the apostles in this matter acted throughout on a principle? - "To the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16). See the notes at Acts 13:46-47.

And they had also John (John Mark, Acts 12:25) to their minister , [ hupeereteen (Greek #5257)] - or, 'as their officer.' With regard to the official so called in the Jewish synagogue, see the note at Luke 4:20. But Mark, no doubt, was their 'assistant' in a more general sense, performing all the subordinate services of the mission. With what fruit they now preached is not said; and as success is always noticed in this book, its silence here is ominous.


Verse 6

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

And when they had gone through the isle - `the whole isle,' according to what is clearly the true reading. ['Aleph (') A B C D E, etc., and most ancient versions, have holeen (Greek #3650) before teen (Greek #3588) neeson (Greek #3520); and so Lachmann and Tischendorf.]

Unto Paphos - on the opposite or west side of the island, a distance of a hundred miles along its southern shore; the Roman capital of the island, where the proconsul resided.

They found a certain sorcerer - `a certain man, a sorcerer' or 'magian,' is the true reading [ andra (Greek #435) tina (Greek #5100) magon (Greek #3097)],

A false prophet, a Jew (better, 'a Jewish false prophet'), whose name was Bar-jesus , [= bar (Hebrew #1247) Y


Verse 7

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

Which was with the deputy of the country , [ sun (Greek #4862) too (Greek #3588) anthupatoo (Greek #446)]. It should have been rendered, 'with the proconsul,' or (retaining the original word) 'with the Anthupatos;' for this name was reserved for the governors of settled provinces, that were placed under the Roman Senate, and is never given in the New Testament to Pilate, Festus, or Felix, who were but procurators, or subordinate administrators of unsettled, imperial, military provinces. Now, since Augustus had reserved Cyprus for himself, its governor would in that case have been not a proconsul, but simply a procurator, had not the emperor afterward restored it to the senate-as a Roman historian (Dio Cassius, 53: 12; 54: 4) expressly states. 'That the title which Dion Cassius employed as well as Luke, really did belong to the Roman governors of Cyprus, appears from an inscription on a Greek coin belonging to Cyprus itself, and struck in the very age in which Sergius Paulus was governor of that island. It was struck in the reign of Claudius Caesar, whose head and name are on the face of it; and in the reign of Claudius Caesar Paul visited Cyprus. On this coin the same title [ anthupatos (Greek #446)] is given to Cominius Proclus which is given by Luke; and the coincidence which it shows is of that description that it is sufficient of itself to establish the authenticity of the work in which the coincidence is found' (Dr. Marsh's 'Lectures on the Authenticity of the New Testament,' quoted by Akerman in 'Numismatic Illustrations of the Narrative Portions of the New Testament'). Grotius and Bengel, not aware of these facts, have missed the mark here.

Sergius Paulus, a prudent man , [ andri (Greek #435) sunetoo (Greek #4908)] - 'an intelligent man;'

Who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired, [ epizeeteesen (G1934), 'earnestly desired'] to hear the word of God. Baumgarten supposes, from the manner in which this verse is expressed, that 'the apostles had fallen in with this Jew in Paphos, and informed him of their object and the message they were charged with,' and that he had 'subsequently reported this to the proconsul as a remarkable piece of news.' But this is neither required by the historian's language nor probable in itself. As an impostor like this was not likely to carry to the proconsul tidings of the arrival of other teachers at all, much less of such teachers, so the public position of the proconsul would ensure his hearing soon enough of the arrival of such men, the more especially if his thirst for truth was known to those about him; and that thirst-evinced by the eagerness with which he drank in the testimony of our missionaries-would naturally induce him to send for them.


Verse 8

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

But Elymas the sorcerer (or 'the wise') (for so is his name by interpretation). It is an Arabic word, signifying 'wise.'

Withstood them - perceiving probably with what avidity the proconsul was drinking in the word, and fearing a dismissal of himself in consequence, "seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith."


Verse 9

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

Then Saul, (who also is [called] Paul) - and henceforward Paul only. The practice of giving second names, which sometimes absorbed the first, is of old standing. Many explanations have been given of the change in this case from Saul to Paul. Jerome's one (adopted by Augustine and several modern critics) - that it was designed to commemorate the conversion of the proconsul, whose surname was Paulus-seems to us a poor one; nor does the historian mention the change in connection with this, but rather with the withering address to Elymas. That it was intended (as Bengel and others think) as an allusion to his insignificance of stature and appearance (2 Corinthians 10:1) - the word signifying 'little'-is, in our judgment, not probable. The most natural explanation seems to be, that by this slight change in the first letter of the name, it was not only converted from a Hebrew to a Roman name, and a quite common one, but rendered smoother-though the coincidence between the sense of the word and his personal appearance would occur to most people.

Filled with the Holy Ghost - the spirit of inspiration coming mightily upon him,

Set his eyes on him. (Our English version properly omits the 'and' before this clause, which is not well attested.) It has been remarked that our historian, both in his Gospel and in the Acts, is given to noticing the attitude in which anything of striking interest was said or done.


Verse 10

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

And said. Henceforward Barnabas sinks into the background, and Paul is the great figure on the historic canvass. His whole soul, now drawn out as never before, shoots, by the lightning-gaze of his eye, through the dark and tortuous spirit of the sorcerer. What a picture!

O full of all subtilty and all mischief , [ radiourgias (Greek #4468)]. The word signifies 'readiness for anything,' knavish dexterity.

Child , [ huie (Greek #5207)] ('son') of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness. These words were not (as Chrysostom well says) words of passion; for immediately before uttering them it is said he was "filled with the Holy Spirit."

Wilt, thou not cease to pervert the right (or straight) ways of the Lord? - so called in contrast with his own, which were both perverse and perverting, and pointing to his having up to that hour made a trade of leading his fellow-creatures astray.


Verse 11

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

And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing , [ mee (Greek #3361) blepoon (Greek #991): see the note at Acts 9:9] the sun for a season - the temporary character of the judgment being mercifully designed to lead him to repentance. But the tradition that it did so is hardly to be depended on.

And immediately there fell on him a mist (as the consequence of this) and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand - a graphic way of representing the reality of the miracle and his helplessness in consequence. There is a medical precision here which comports well with the profession of our historian.


Verse 12

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

Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord - thus so marvelously attested. Compare Mark 1:27. What fruit, if any, followed this remarkable conversion, or how long after it the missionaries remained at Paphos, we live no means of knowing.

At Perga John Mark Deserts Them, and Returns to Jerusalem ()


Verse 13

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

Now when Paul and his company loosed , [ anachthentes (Greek #321)] - 'had set sail' "from Paphos." Observe the mode of expression here, showing clearly that henceforward our historian has to do chiefly with Paul. Barnabas is already in the background.

They came to Perga in Pamphylia. The distance, in a north westerly direction, from Paphos; on the west side of the island of Cyprus, to Attaleia, on the Gulf of Pamphylia (see the note at Acts 14:25) is not much greater than from Seleucia to Salamis, on the east side of the island. What induced our missionaries now to proceed there, we can only conjecture. But we may naturally suppose that Barnabas having persuaded Paul to begin at Cyprus, with which he was so well acquainted, Paul, in turn, might plead for their trying next the regions lying westward of his own Cilicia, as he himself had already broken ground to the east of it. At all events, the issues of this movement abundantly justified it. Perga was the metropolis of the region of Pamphylia, situated on the river Cestrus, about seven miles due north from Attaleia.

And John departing from them returned to Jerusalem. Since Paul afterward peremptorily refused to take Mark with him on his second missionary journey, because he had departed (or 'fallen off') from them from Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work (Acts 15:38), we must infer that he had either wearied of it, or been deterred by the difficulties and dangers which he anticipated in it. This unhappy affair was the occasion of the separation of Paul and Barnabas when they resolved on a second missionary journey. (See the notes at Acts 15:37-40.)

At Antioch, in Pisidia, Paul Preaches in the Synagogue-His Discourse ()


Verse 14

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

But when they departed from Perga - apparently without making any stay, or doing anything evangelistic there. So, at least, we naturally infer from the silence of the historian in this place, and his expressly stating that on their way back "they preached the word in Perga" (Acts 14:25). There must have been a reason for this; and the probable one (as given by Howson) will appear immediately.

They came to Antioch in Pisidia (or 'of Pisidia') - almost due north from Perga, and so called to distinguish it from the Syrian Antioch, from which they had set out. It was a long and rugged journey; and lying as it did almost through entirely rugged mountain-passes, while 'rivers burst out at the bases of huge cliffs, or dash down wildly through narrow ravines,' it must have been a perilous one. The whole region was, and to this day is, infested by robbers, as ancient history and modern travels abundantly attest; and there can be little doubt that to this very journey Paul many years after alludes, when he speaks amidst his "journeyings often," of his 'perils of rivers' (as the word is), and his "perils of robbers" (2 Corinthians 11:26). If this journey were taken in May-and much earlier than that the passes would have been blocked up with snow-it would account for their not staying at Perga, whose hot streets are then deserted-`men, women, and children (to use the words of Howson, to whom we are indebted for these remarks), flocks, herds, camels, and donkeys, all ascending at the beginning of the hot season from the plains to the cool basin-like hollows on the mountains, moving in the same direction with our missionaries.'


Verse 15

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

And after the reading of the law and the prophets - a current phrase from the Old Testament Scriptures, which it was the invariable practice (as it still is) to read at public worship.

The rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on. [The Received Text omits the "any" here; but the tis (Greek #5100) of our version is well supported.] The missionaries had either taken their places where the rabbis usually sat, on purpose to be invited to address the assembly, or their arrival as teachers had become known, and that would be enough.


Verse 16

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

Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand - as his manner was (Acts 21:40; Acts 26:1).

Said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God - meaning by the latter expression such religious proselytes as were present. These were in the habit of uniting with the Jews in all acts of ordinary worship. [The article before foboumenoi (Greek #5399) shows that a different class from andres (Greek #435) Israeelitai (Greek #2475) is intended.]


Verse 17

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

The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt - by marvelous interpositions in their behalf, when in their deepest depressions.

And with an high arm (by a signal exercise of His power), brought he them out of it.


Verse 18

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

And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness , [ etropoforeesen (Greek #5159)]. This reading has indeed excellent support, ['Aleph (') B C D G H, etc.; the Vulgate; the Peshito Syriac (margin); and of the fathers, Chrysostom, Theophylact, etc.] But the other reading-given in the margin of our English Bible, and differing from the former by only one letter [ etrofoforeesen (Greek #5159)], which means: 'carried,' 'tended,' or 'cherished' them (as a nurse the infant in her bosom) - has nearly equal external evidence [A C E, a number of cursives, and both Syriac versions], while the internal evidence in its favour seems conclusive. For the apostle is not here setting forth (as was Stephen's great object) the ingratitude and rebellion of Israel in the wilderness, but making it his object in every verse to point out how much God had done for them. Besides, in Deuteronomy 1:31 - where Moses says, "thou hast seen how that the Lord thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son" - the word used by the Septuagint is the very one here employed by the apostle, according to the corrected text (compare Numbers 11:12). We confidently conclude, therefore, with nearly all good critics, that this is the true reading.


Verse 19

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

And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan - namely, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites" (Deuteronomy 7:1).

He divided their land to them by lot , [ katekleeronomeesen (Greek #2624); but the true rendering clearly is-onomeesen, used actively, as in Numbers 34:18, and 1 Kings 2:8 : the sense is the same].


Verse 20

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

And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years. Since this appears to contradict 1 Kings 6:1, various solutions have been proposed. Taking the words as they stand in the Greek-thus, 'after that, by the space of four hundred and fifty years, he gave judges'-the meaning may be, that about 450 years elapsed from the time of the covenant with Abraham until the period of the judges; which is historically correct, the word "about" showing that chronological exactness was not aimed at. But taking the sense to be as in our version-that it was the period of the judges itself which lasted about 450 years-this statement also will appear historically correct, if we include in it the interval of subjection to foreign powers which occurred during the period of the judges, and understand it to describe the whole period from the settlement of the tribes in Canaan to the establishment of royalty.

Thus, from the exodus to the building of the temple, were 592 years (Josephus, Ant. 8: 31): from this period deduct 40 years in the wilderness, 25 years of Joshua's rule (Josephus, Ant. 5: 1. 29), 40 years of Saul's reign (Acts 13:21), 40 of David's, and the first four years of Solomon's reign (1 Kings 6:1); and there will remain just 443 years; or, in round numbers, "about 450 years" "until Samuel the prophet."


Verse 21

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

And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin - a casual coincidence in the name and in the tribe to which the speaker himself belonged, which would probably flash across his mind while speaking;

By the space of forty years. With this duration of Saul's reign (not mentioned in the Old Testament) Josephus coincides (Ant. 6: 14. 9).


Verse 22

And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will. The apostle gives in a few words the substance of Psalms 89:20; 1 Samuel 13:14; and (perhaps also of) Psalms 78:70-72; because he is hastening rapidly from David to Christ.


Verse 23

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

Of this man's seed hath God, according to his promise, raised , [ eegeiren (Greek #1453)] - or, according to the preferable reading, 'brought forth' [ eegagen (Greek #71)]

Unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus. This reading [that of 'Aleph (') A B E G H, etc., both Egyptian versions, and several fathers] gives the very word (as Alford observes) which is employed by the Septuagint in Zechariah 3:8, "behold, I will bring forth [ agoo (Greek #71), meebiy'] my Servant the Branch." The emphasis of the statement lies, first, in the seed from which Christ sprang-that of David-and the promise that He should do so, which was thus fulfilled; and next, in the character-that of a SAVIOUR-in which this promised Messiah was at length given, His personal name JESUS being added just to express this saving character (see the note at Matthew 1:21).


Verse 24

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

When John had first preached before his coming , [ pro (Greek #4253) prosoopou (Greek #4383) = lipneey (Hebrew #6440) tees (Greek #3588) eisodou (Greek #1529) autou (Greek #846)] - rather, 'before His entrance' or introduction to public life, "the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel."


Verse 25

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

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


Verse 26

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

Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God - both Israelites and proselytes to the Israelite Faith (see the note at Acts 13:16).

To you (of both classes), is the word of this salvation sent - or, 'sent forth' [the compound exapestalee (Greek #1821) is manifestly the true reading].


Verse 27

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

For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the Prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. The structure of this sentence is a little obscure. What our translators have rendered "knew Him not" [ touton (Greek #5126)] seems plainly to mean 'knew it not,' meaning "the word of this salvation," spoken of in the preceding verse. In this case the sense will run thus: 'For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, being ignorant of this [word], and the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, have fulfilled [them] by condemning Him.' The apostle here speaks as if the more immediate guilt of Christ's death lay with the rulers and people of the metropolis, to which he fondly hoped that those residing at such a distance as Antioch would not set their seal.


Verse 28

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

And though they found no cause of death in him - anxiously as they sought it (Matthew 26:59-60), "yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain."


Verse 29

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

And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. Though the burial of Christ was an act of honour and love to Him by the disciples to whom the body was committed, yet, since his enemies looked after it, and obtained a guard of soldiers to keep watch over it, as the remains of their own victim, the apostle regards this as the last manifestation on their part of enmity to the Saviour, that his hearers might see how God had laughed their precautions to scorn by undoing their act-as about to be mentioned.


Verse 30

But God raised him from the dead:

But God raised him from the dead:


Verse 31

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

And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem - that is, by those who, having gone out and in with Him in closest intimacy during all His public ministry, which lay chiefly in Galilee, and having accompanied Him on his last journey to Jerusalem, could not possibly be mistaken as to the identity of the risen One.

Who (therefore) are his (unexceptionable and sufficient) witnesses unto the people. The word 'now' [ nun (Greek #3568) after hoitines (Greek #3748)], 'who are now His witnesses,' seems on the whole the true reading.


Verse 32

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

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


Verse 33

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

God hath fulfilled , [ ekpepleerooken (Greek #1603)] - rather, 'completely fulfilled,'

The same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again , [ anasteesas (Greek #450)] - rather, "in that He hath raised up Jesus;" though our translators have rightly (as we think) taken this to mean, from the dead. The word has not indeed that sense, unless when associated with some word or words fixing it to that meaning (as at Acts 2:26); and so some good critics take the meaning here to be, 'in that he sent' or 'brought forward Jesus.' So Calvin [excitato Jesu], Beza [suscitato], Grotius [exhibens], Bengel [quum suscitavit]; also Olshausen, Humphry, Alexander, Lechler. But the two following verses seem to fix the meaning here to resurrection from the dead. So the Vulgate [resuscitatus], and Luther [auferwecket hat]: also Meyer, DeWette, Alford, Hackett, Webster and Wilkinson.

As it is also written in the second psalm - or, according to another reading, 'the first psalm;' that psalm being regarded as a general introduction to the whole Psalter, in which view the one that followed would be reckoned the first, as indeed it is numbered in several Hebrew manuscript. Still the evidence in favour of the received reading immensely preponderates. [In favour of prootoo (Greek #4413) are D only of extant manuscript, though Origen and other early fathers must have so read it: in favour of deuteroo (Greek #1208) are 'Aleph (') A B C E G H, etc.; the Vulgate and most ancient versions; with Chrysostom and other fathers. The only argument in favour of prootoo (Greek #4413) is, that it might more naturally have been corrected into deuteroo (Greek #1208) than the reverse. Accordingly, Lachmann and Tischendorf adopt it; and it is preferred by Erasmus, Meyer, Olshausen, Alford, Lechler. But this consideration is hardly sufficient to outweigh the preponderating evidence in favour of deuteroo (Greek #1208)].

Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. Augustine, with some moderns, apply this to Christ's external generations from the Father. 'The expression (says Alexander) "I have begotten thee" means, I am thy Father: "Today" refers to the date of the decree itself: but this, as a divine act, was eternal, and so must be the Sonship it affirms.' This, however, is a forced way of interpreting the words, and not at all consistent with the context, which clearly connects the Sonship with the resurrection of Christ. Does the apostle, then; mean to say that Christ became God's Son-for the first time and in the only sense in which He was the Son of God-by His resurrection from the dead? That cannot be; for, besides that it would contradict the whole, strain of the New Testament regarding Christ's relation to the Father, it is in direct contradiction to the apostle's own statements in Romans 8:32, where he reasons on the Sonship of Christ as one of eternal essence; and even still more in Romans 1:4, where he says of the resurrection of Christ, that he was thereby only "declared (defined or determined) to be the Son of God with power" - in other words, the resurrection of Christ was merely the manifestation of a Sonship which existed before, but was only then "declared with power." Are we not warranted, then, on the apostle's own authority, in understanding his meaning here to be the same - "Today," meaning that memorable day of His resurrection from the dead, when God, by an act not to be misunderstood, proclaimed that He whom men killed, by hanging Him on a tree, was none other than His own Son. As Meyer happily expresses, it 'it was the divine legitimation of His Sonship;' Such declarative meaning of the verb 'to be' is familiar to every reader of the Bible (see, for example, John 10:15; Acts 15:8); and in this sense verb 'to be' is familiar to every reader of the Bible (see, for example, John 10:15; Acts 15:8); and in this sense nearly all good interpreters agree that this verse is to be understood.


Verse 34

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

And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption - that is, to the grave, where death reigns: compare Romans 6:9, "Christ being raised from the dead, dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him." Christ went to the place, but not the state of corruption (Acts 13:37).

He said on this wise (or 'thus') - namely in Isaiah 55:3,

I will give you the sure mercies of David , [ ta (Greek #3588) hosia (Greek #3741) Dauid (Greek #1138) = chacdeey (Hebrew #2617) Dawiyd (Hebrew #1732), ta (Greek #3588) pista (Greek #4103)] - literally, 'the sure sanctities of David.' The word, however, is sometimes used in the sense of "mercies" in the Old Testament. The whole riches of the everlasting covenant-its varied "grace" or "mercies" - are here meant; and they are characterized in the prophecy, first, as 'sanctities,' to signify that, as they quite transcend the sphere of things seen and temporal, so they separate to a holy character all such as receive them; but they are further characterized as "sure," to denote the certainty with which they would at length, through David's Seed, be all substantiated (see more on this subject at John 1:14, p. 349). But how do these words prove the resurrection of Christ? 'They presuppose it (as Olshausen says); for since an eternal kingdom was promised to David, the Ruler of this kingdom could not remain under the power of death. But to strengthen the indefinite prediction by one more definite, the apostle adduces Psalms 16:10, of which Peter had given the same explanation (see the notes at Acts 2:27; Acts 2:30-31); both apostles denying the possibility of its proper reference to David.


Verse 35

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

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 36

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

For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God , [ idia (Greek #2398) genea (Greek #1074) hupeereteesas (Greek #5256) tee (Greek #3588) tou (Greek #3588) Theou (Greek #2316) boulee (Greek #1012)] - rather, 'served for his own generation the counsel' or 'purpose of God' (so the Vulgate, Luther, Beza, Grotius, Bengel, Olshausen, DeWette, Meyer, Bloomfield, Alford, Webster and Wilkinson, Lechler). The rendering of our King James Version, however, has good support (as Erasmus, Calvin, Hackett). The meaning (as we understand it) is, that this "man after God's own heart" yielded himself an instrument for the accomplishment of God's high, designs, contributing 'for his own generation' that portion of the preparations for the kingdom of His Son which was assigned him, which, when he had completed, he

Fell on sleep ([ ekoimeethee (G2837)] simply, 'fell asleep,') and was laid unto his fathers - rather, 'was added unto his fathers' [ prosetethee (Greek #4369) pros (Greek #4314) = ne'ecpuw (Hebrew #622) 'el (Hebrew #413) '


Verse 37

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

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 38

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

Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins. As this is the first necessity of the sinner, so it is the first experienced blessing of the Gospel. The expression "through this Person" [ dia (Greek #1223) toutou (Greek #5127)] is of course to be connected with "forgiveness" (not the 'preaching' of it), and the meaning is, 'forgiveness through this Person is preached unto you.'


Verse 39

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

And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which [ oon (G5607) = af'oon by attr.] ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. The sense of this verse requires a pause to be made after "all things," and the next clause is to be viewed not as an exceptional clause, but as explanatory of the former one-thus: 'By Him the believer is justified from all things (all the charges of the broken law); a thing which the law of Moses is so far from being able to do, that it justifies from nothing.' It is a mere perversion of this great announcement to make it mean, 'The law, though it met most cases, had no provision for the pardon of some sins; but it is otherwise under Christianity.' It will be observed that the deeper sense of justification-its positive side-is reserved for the Epistles, addressed to the justified themselves; also, whereas it is the resurrection of Christ which is chiefly dwelt upon here and throughout the Acts-because the first thing in order to bring peace to the guilty through Christ was to establish His Messiahship by the fact of His resurrection from the dead-in the Epistles, it is His death, as the way of reconciliation, which is chiefly unfolded.


Verse 40

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

Beware therefore, lest that come upon you which is spoken of in the Prophets. Though the following quotation is from Habakkuk 1:5 (and nearly as in the Septuagint), this is held forth as the general strain of all "the prophets."


Verse 41

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

Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you - that is, 'even though announced on unexceptionable testimony.' The words, as originally uttered, were a merciful but fruitless warning against the approaching destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans and the Babylonian captivity. As such, nothing could more fitly describe the more awful calamity impending over the generation which the apostle addressed. The Congregation Solicit another Hearing of such Truths; and many of them, Following Paul and Barnabas, being Already Won to the truth, are now Counseled to Persevere ()


Verse 42

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

And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath - [ Exiontoon (Greek #1826) de (Greek #1161) ek (Greek #1537) ... ton (Greek #3588) Ioudaioon (Greek #2453), parekaloun (Greek #3870) ta (Greek #3588) ethnee (Greek #1484) ... ] The Received Text here cannot be correct, and is almost void of any authority. [It has no manuscript support at all, except some cursives; though G has ta (Greek #3588) ethnee (Greek #1484), and one or two others.] It suggests the staggering question, How came these Gentiles to be in the synagogue? for they were not religions proselytes; this class being expressly named in the following verse. The genuine text, beyond all doubt [being supported by 'Aleph (') A B C D E, etc., the Vulgate and most ancient versions. Chrysostom and other fathers, and adopted by Lachmann and Tischendorf] is this: 'Now when they (the apostles) were going out (of the synagogue), they (the congregation) besought that these words might be spoken to them the next sabbath' [ Exiontoon (Greek #1826) de (Greek #1161) autoon (Greek #846) parekaloun (Greek #3870) eis (Greek #1519) to (Greek #3588) metaxu (Greek #3342) sabbaton (Greek #4521) laleetheenai (Greek #2980) autois (Greek #846) ta (Greek #3588) reemata (Greek #4487) tauta (Greek #5023)]. The marginal rendering of the last words in the week between,' or 'in the sabbath between,' though according to the classical sense of the original phrase, is less agreeable to our historian's manner than that of our King James Version, which is that of Josephus also and is confirmed by Acts 13:44, where "the next sabbath" [ too (Greek #3588) echomenoo (Greek #2192) sabbatoo (Greek #4521) or erchomenoo (Greek #2064), as in the Received Text] evidently means the day referred to in the previous verse.


Verse 43

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

Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes - won to the Gospel, and clinging to their spiritual benefactors,

Followed Paul and Barnabas - these names being now and henceforward, with one exception inverted (see the note at Acts 14:14),

Who speaking to them - following up the discourse in the synagogue by some further words of counsel and Who speaking to them - following up the discourse in the synagogue by some further words of counsel and encouragement,

Persuaded [ epeithon (G3982), or 'urged'] them (as in Acts 19:8; Acts 28:23)

To continue in the grace of God - not in 'the Gospel' (objectively), as the fruit of God's undeserved favour (as Hackett takes it), but 'in the (experienced) grace of God,' which through the Gospel had taken possession of them (subjectively-as Calvin and Bengal view it).

Next sabbath nearly all the city flock to hear the word of God -Enraged at this, the Jews oppose and malign the truth-whereupon Paul and Barnabas, with solemn protestation turn to the Gentiles, and with such success that the rage of their Jewish enemies causes their expulsion-They shake off the dust of their feet against them, while the new converts are filed with joy and with the Holy Spirit ()


Verse 44

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

And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God - or 'of the Lord,' according to another reading; but the evidence for both is pretty equal. The intervening days had evidently been spent in further inquiry on the part of the congregation, and further instruction in private to such as sought it; and the excitement communicating itself to the Gentiles, they now for the first time crowded along with the stated worshippers into the synagogue.


Verse 45

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

But when the Jews - meaning the zealots for exclusive Judaism, saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy}, [ zeelou (Greek #2205)] - rather, 'with indignation,'

And spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. There is nothing more awful even to this day, than Jewish fury and execration of the name of Jesus of Nazareth, when thoroughly roused.


Verse 46

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

Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and - rising into the highest style of a last and lofty protestation

Said, it was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you - necessary, both because of the position which the Jews occupied in the immediate terms of the promise, and in obedience to the express injunctions of their Master (Luke 24:47 : see the note at Acts 13:5).

But seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life - `passing sentence, as it were, upon yourselves of exclusion from eternal life'-a mode of expression not so uncommon as Hackett represents, and intelligible to everyone. "All they that hate me (says Wisdom, Proverbs 8:36) love death."

Lo, we turn to the Gentiles - not as if they were never again to preach to the Jews, hut to signify that their message was only in the first instance to them, and that their rejection of it but opened the way for its being carried to the Gentiles.


Verse 47

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

For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying (Isaiah 49:6), I have set thee (the Messiah) to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. From this Paul inferred that he was but following out this destination of his Lord, in transferring to the Gentiles those unsearchable riches which were now by the Jews rejected and despised. These and other predictions must have been, long before this brought vividly home to Paul's mind in connection with his special vocation to the Gentiles.


Verse 48

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

And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad - glad to perceive that their accession to Christ was matter of divine arrangement as well as apostolic effort,

And glorified the word of the Lord (Jesus) - by a cordial reception of it, giving to it the obedience of faith. Compare John 3:33, "He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true; and 2 Thessalonians 3:1, "Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified."

And as many as were ordained [ tetagmenoi (G5021), or 'appointed,'] to eternal life believed. A very remarkable statement, which cannot, without force, be interpreted of anything lower than this-that a divine ordination to eternal life is the cause, not the effect, of any man's believing. Grotius (and after him many others, as Humphry) plead ingeniously for a middle sense of the verb, and translate thus: 'As many as disposed (or 'addicted') themselves to eternal life'-referring to 1 Corinthians 16:15. But this, besides having very much of a strained appearance, is vapid, and almost tautological. In favour of the King James Version are such critics as Bengel, Olshausen, Meyer, DeWette, Winer, Alford, Hackett, Webster and Wilkinson. 'In the words, "as many as were ordained to eternal life," we must reckon (says Olshausen, himself a Lutheran) the idea which pervades the whole Scriptures of a predestination of saints. The attempts which have been, made to evade it are in the highest degree forced.'


Verse 49

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

And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region - implying some stay in Antioch and missionary activity in its vicinity, if this was done by Paul and Barnabas; but it may have been owing to the missionary zeal of the new converts (Acts 13:52) that the Gospel penetrated to the surrounding parts.


Verse 50

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

But the Jews stirred up the devout [and] honourable women. The bracketed word and is an addition to the genuine text. The class meant is one-the female proselytes of distinction, unhappily jaundiced against the new preachers by those Jewish ecclesiastics to whom they had learned to look up as the interpreters of the lively oracles in which they had found the only true repose. The potent influence of the female character, both for against the truth, may be seen in the Church history of every age.

And the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts - an easier thing than to refute them.


Verse 51

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

But (As a solemn protest against this treatment, and repudiation of all responsibility for the consequences)

They shook off the dust of their feet against them - as directed by the Lord Himself (see the note at Matthew 10:14),

And came unto Iconium - a populous city about 45 miles southeast from Pisidian Autioch, at the foot of mount Taurus, on the borders of Lycaonia, Phrygia, and Pisidia, and in later times largely contributing to the consolidation of the Turkish empire.


Verse 52

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

And the disciples - who, though not themselves expelled, had to endure sufferings for the Gospel, as we learn from Acts 14:22.

Were filled with joy, and with the Holy Spirit - Who not only raised them above shame and fear, as professed disciples of the Lord Jesus,but filled them with joy in His salvation. 'Luke on several occasions (says Humphry, pertinently), after mentioning events which might be thought disheartening, notices the joy and elevation of spirit by which they were followed. So it was after Herod's persecution (Acts 12:24), after the scourging in presence of the Sanhedrim (Acts 5:41), and after the Ascension (Luke 24:52).

Remarks:

(1) The scene at Paphos bears a striking analogy (as Baumgarten remarks) to that of the magicians, Jannes and Jambres, withstanding Moses when he stood before Pharaoh in Egypt. Their conduct is described by Paul himself in terms very similar to those here employed: "Now as James and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth" (2 Timothy 3:8). But the analogy only serves to awaken our attention to the great difference between the two periods. The magicians were Egyptians and pagans: Elymas was a Jew, his real name being Bar-Jesus. Further, Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, surrenders himself to the unholy influence of his sorcerers, and allows himself to be taken captive by it. Sergius Paulus, the Roman lord of the island of Cyprus, is so far from allowing himself to be ruled by his sorcerer Elymas, that he defies all his powers of resistance, and gives his fullest confidence to the messengers of God. The fact which has already forced itself on our notice in its different elements-namely the turning of the Jews from God and the turning of the Gentiles to Him-is here brought before us in a highly significant manner and comprised in a single instance.

(2) As the blindness inflicted on Elymas was the first miracle of Paul (it is at least the first recorded one) - performed, too, upon a Jew when the apostle was just beginning his work among the Gentiles, and followed by the conversion of a Gentile in high official position, the first fruits of a harvest to follow; as the historian's language implies that the soul of the apostle was drawn out on this occasion as never before; and as it is at this stage of the history that the new name of 'Paul is first given to him, to be thence-forward the name by which he was ever to be known-we can hardly doubt that his actual call to be an apostle of Jesus Christ was now for the first time sealed, and his great gifts for the apostolic service of Christ for the first time revealed to his own consciousness; and since Barnabas never once comes forward as a public speaker in the record of this missionary tour, we may take it for granted that he also now perceived, and (as might be expected) generously acquiesced in the manifest design of the great Lord of both, that the prominent position should henceforth be taken by his gifted colleague, while he aided the work in other ways, hardly less important in their own place.

(3) On comparing Paul's address to the Jews at Antioch, and his other recorded addresses in Jewish synagogues, with those of Peter at Jerusalem, it will appear that he was at least quite as well qualified to deal with his own countrymen as "the apostle of the circumcision" himself. But how different the bearing of these two honoured apostles toward the Gentiles! We have but one recorded address of Peter to a Gentile audience-that to Cornelius and his friends. And what is its character and complexion? He begins it apologetically; he cannot open his proper subject until he has first explained how he comes to occupy so novel a position as that of a preacher to the Gentiles: even when he has done this, he still seems to feel himself on new ground; nor, in holding forth Christ to these Gentiles, does he ever stretch beyond the Jewish point of view, exhibiting Him, even to them, simply as the great Burden of prophetic testimony to the children of Israel, though designed for all.

True, Cornelius as a devout proselyte to the Jewish Faith, must have been well prepared for this way of preaching Christ. Still, it is impossible not to perceive, both in the speaker himself and in his discourse, the Jew throughout. Now, compare this with Paul's way of addressing both the barbarians of Lycaonia and the Greeks of Athens, and it will at once be seen that the speaker addresses Gentiles on Gentile ground-Jewish associations and Jewish phraseology being studiously, yet quite naturally and easily, avoided. In short, while quite as much at home with his own countrymen as if his whole ideas had been exclusively Jewish, he is to Gentile audiences as Gentile, in the point of view from which he presents the Gospel, as if he had been a converted Pagan. This flexibility of mind in dealing with men-this power of presenting the grandest truths in forms adapted to all classes, constitutes one chief feature of his superiority to all the other apostles; a feature which-as one conscious of possessing it, and determined to turn it to the best account for the Gospel-be has himself described in language the most impressive: "Unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; to them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some" (1 Corinthians 9:20-22).

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Acts 13:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/acts-13.html. 1871-8.

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