|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
28:1-10 God can make strangers to be friends; friends in distress. Those who are despised for homely manners, are often more friendly than the more polished; and the conduct of heathens, or persons called barbarians, condemns many in civilized nations, professing to be Christians. The people thought that Paul was a murderer, and that the viper was sent by Divine justice, to be the avenger of blood. They knew that there is a God who governs the world, so that things do not come to pass by chance, no, not the smallest event, but all by Divine direction; and that evil pursues sinners; that there are good works which God will reward, and wicked works which he will punish. Also, that murder is a dreadful crime, one which shall not long go unpunished. But they thought all wicked people were punished in this life. Though some are made examples in this world, to prove that there is a God and a Providence, yet many are left unpunished, to prove that there is a judgment to come. They also thought all who were remarkably afflicted in this life were wicked people. Divine revelation sets this matter in a true light. Good men often are greatly afflicted in this life, for the trial and increase of their faith and patience. Observe Paul's deliverance from the danger. And thus in the strength of the grace of Christ, believers shake off the temptations of Satan, with holy resolution. When we despise the censures and reproaches of men, and look upon them with holy contempt, having the testimony of our consciences for us, then, like Paul, we shake off the viper into the fire. It does us no harm, except we are kept by it from our duty. God hereby made Paul remarkable among these people, and so made way for the receiving of the gospel. The Lord raises up friends for his people in every place whither he leads them, and makes them blessings to those in affliction.
Verse 2. - Barbarians for barbarous people, A.V.; common for little, A.V.; all for every one, A.V. Barbarians; i.e. not Greeks or Romans, or (in the mouth of a Jew) not Jews. The phrase had especial reference to the strange language of the "barbarian." See St. Paul's use of it (Romans 1:14; 1 Corinthians 14:11; Colossians 3:11); and compare Ovid's saying ('Trist.,' 3:10, 37), "Barbarus hic ego sum, quia non intelligor ulli;" and that of Herodotus (2, 158), that the Egyptians call all barbarians who do not speak the Egyptian language(Kuinoel). The word is thought to be formed onomate-poetically, to express the confused sound which a strange language has in a man's ears. Kindness; φιλανθρωπία, here and Titus 3:4 (comp. Acts 27:3). Received us all. The whole party, numbering two hundred and seventy-six. The present rain, and... cold; showing that the gale still continued, and the wind was still north-east. The plight of the shipwrecked party must have been lamentable, drenched to the skin, with no change of clothes, a cold wind blowing. Probably the hearty meal they had taken on beard ship was the means of saving their lives.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the barbarous people showed us no little kindness,.... The inhabitants of this island are called barbarians, not from the country of Barbary, near to which they were; nor so much on account of their manners, for, though Heathens, they were a civil and cultivated people, being, as appears from the name of the chief man of the island, under the Roman government; but because of their language, see 1 Corinthians 14:11, it being neither Hebrew, Greek, nor Latin; for as the inhabitants were originally a colony of the Phoenicians, they spoke their language; and now though it is inhabited by such as are called Christians, they speak the Saracen or Arabic language, and little different from the old Punic or Phoenician language: however, though the inhabitants could not understand their language, they understood their case, and were very civil and humane to them, and showed them extraordinary kindness:
for they kindled a fire; or set fire to a large pile of wood; for a large fire it must be to be of service to such a number of people, in such a condition as they were:
and received us everyone: though their number were two hundred threescore and sixteen;
because of the present rain, and because of the cold; for a violent rain fell on them, as is usual upon a storm, and much wetted them, so that a fire was very necessary; and it being winter or near it, it was cold weather; and especially they having been so long in a storm, and now shipwrecked; and some having thrown themselves into the sea, and swam to the island; and others having been obliged to put themselves on boards and planks, and get ashore, and were no doubt both wet and cold; so that nothing was more needful and more agreeable to them than a large fire.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2. the barbarous people—so called merely as speaking neither the Greek nor the Latin language. They were originally Phonician colonists.
showed us no little—"no ordinary"
kindness, for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain—"the rain that was on us"—not now first falling, but then falling heavily.
and because of the cold—welcomed us all, drenched and shivering, to these most seasonable marks of friendship. In this these "barbarians" contrast favorably with many since bearing the Christian name. The lifelike style of the narrative here and in the following verses gives it a great charm.
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