Acts 24:14
But this I confess to you, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) After the way which they call heresy.—Better, which they call a sect. The Greek noun is the same as in Acts 24:5, and ought, therefore, to be translated by the same English word. As it is, the reader does not see that the “way” had been called a heresy. In using the term “the way,” St. Paul adopts that which the disciples used of themselves (see Note on Acts 9:2), and enters an implied protest against the use of any less respectful and more invidious epithet.

So worship I the God of my fathers.—Better, perhaps, so serve I, the word being different from that in Acts 24:11, and often translated by “serve” elsewhere (Acts 7:7; Hebrews 8:5). The “service” includes worship, but is wider in its range of meaning.

Believing all things which are written . . .—This was a denial of the second charge, of being a ring leader of a sect. His faith in all the authoritative standards of Judaism was as firm and full as that of any Pharisee. The question whether that belief did or did not lead to the conviction that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ, was one of interpretation, with which Felix, at all events, had nothing to do, and which St. Paul, when making a formal apologia before a Roman ruler, declines to answer.

Acts 24:14-16. But — As to what they have alleged against me with regard to the Nazarenes; this I confess unto thee — And am not ashamed publicly to avow it in the presence of the greatest personages upon earth; that after the way which they call αιρεσιν, a sect; (so the same word is properly rendered, Acts 24:5;) so worship I the God of my fathers — And am authorized by our sacred writings so to do; believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets — On which every part of the religion which I profess is founded, and which I should not either understand or believe if I worshipped or served the God of my fathers any other way, or did not believe in and receive Jesus Christ as the true Messiah, to whom both the law and the prophets bear witness. And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow — All the Pharisees allowed it; that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust — In a public court, this was peculiarly proper to be observed. The pious Jews expected a resurrection, as Paul did, on the foundation of the promises of God, delivered by Moses and the prophets. This was a very proper defence before a Roman magistrate, who, by the laws of the empire, was bound to allow every man to worship God according to the religion of his country. And herein Εν τουτω, on this account, because I believe all things written in the law and the prophets, and expect a future resurrection and an eternal state; I exercise myself — And make it the continual care and study of my life; to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward man — That so, whatever accusations are brought against me, my own heart may not condemn me, but I may always find internal support amidst all the external injuries I may receive from mankind.24:10-21 Paul gives a just account of himself, which clears him from crime, and likewise shows the true reason of the violence against him. Let us never be driven from any good way by its having an ill name. It is very comfortable, in worshipping God, to look to him as the God of our fathers, and to set up no other rule of faith or practice but the Scriptures. This shows there will be a resurrection to a final judgment. Prophets and their doctrines were to be tried by their fruits. Paul's aim was to have a conscience void of offence. His care and endeavour was to abstain from many things, and to abound in the exercises of religion at all times; both towards God. and towards man. If blamed for being more earnest in the things of God than our neighbours, what is our reply? Do we shrink from the accusation? How many in the world would rather be accused of any weakness, nay, even of wickedness, than of an earnest, fervent feeling of love to the Lord Jesus Christ, and of devotedness to his service! Can such think that He will confess them when he comes in his glory, and before the angels of God? If there is any sight pleasing to the God of our salvation, and a sight at which the angels rejoice, it is, to behold a devoted follower of the Lord, here upon earth, acknowledging that he is guilty, if it be a crime, of loving the Lord who died for him, with all his heart, and soul, and mind, and strength. And that he will not in silence see God's word despised, or hear his name profaned; he will rather risk the ridicule and the hatred of the world, than one frown from that gracious Being whose love is better than life.But this I confess ... - The next specification in the charge of Tertullus was Acts 24:5 that he was "a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes." To this, Paul replies in this and the two following verses. Of this reply we may observe:

(1) That he does not stoop to notice the contempt implied in the use of the word "Nazarenes." He was engaged in a more important business than to contend about the name which they chose to give to Christians.

(2) he admits that he belonged to that sect or class of people. That he was a Christian he neither denied, nor was disposed to deny.

(3) he maintains that in this way he was still worshipping the God of his fathers. Of this, the fact that he was engaged in worship in the temple was sufficient proof.

(4) he shows them that he believed only what was written in the Law and the prophets; that this involved the main doctrine of their religion the hope of the resurrection of the dead, Acts 24:15; and that it was his constant and earnest desire to keep a pure conscience in all things, Acts 24:16. These are the points of his defense to the second charge, and we shall see that they fully meet and dispose of the accusation.

After the way - After the manner or mode of worship.

Which they call heresy - This translation does not express to us the force of the original. We have attached to the word "heresy" an idea which is not conveyed by the Greek word, since we now commonly understand by it error of doctrine. In Paul's answer here, there is an explicit reference to their charge which does not appear in our version. The charge of Tertullus was, that he was the ringleader of the sect (τἦς αἱρέσεως tēs haireseōs) of the Nazarenes, Acts 24:5. To this Paul replies, "After the way which they call "sect" ἁιρεσιν hairesin, not error of doctrine, but after a way which they affirm is producing division or schism), so worship I the God of my fathers." Paul was hot ashamed to be called a follower of that sect or party among the Jewish people. Nor should we be ashamed to worship God in a mode that is called heresy or schism, if we do it in obedience to conscience and to God.

So worship I-- I continue to worship. I have not departed from the characteristic of the Jewish people, the proper and public acknowledgment of the God of the Jews.

The God of my fathers - My father's God, Yahweh; the God whom my Jewish ancestors adored. There is something very touching in this, and suited to find its way to the heart of a Jew. He had introduced no new object of worship (compare Deuteronomy 13:1-5); he had not become a follower of a false or foreign God; and this fact was really a reply to their charge that he was setting up a new sect in religion. The same thing Paul affirms of himself in 2 Timothy 1:3; "I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with a pure conscience."

Believing all things ... - Particularly respecting the Messiah. So he more fully explains his meaning in his speech before King Agrippa, Acts 26:23.

In the law and in the prophets - Commanded in the Law of Moses, and foretold by the prophets. That Paul had ever disbelieved any of these things they could not prove; and his whole course had shown that he fully credited the sacred records. Most of his arguments in defending Christianity had been drawn from the Jewish writings.

14, 15. But this I confess to thee—in which Felix would see no crime.

that after the way they call heresy—literally, and better, "a sect."

so worship I the God of my fathers—the ancestral God. Two arguments are contained here: (1) Our nation is divided into what they call sects—the sect of the Pharisees, and that of the Sadducees—all the difference between them and me is, that I belong to neither of these, but to another sect, or religious section of the nation, which from its Head they call Nazarenes: for this reason, and this alone, am I hated. (2) The Roman law allows every nation to worship its own deities; I claim protection under that law, worshipping the God of my ancestors, even as they, only of a different sect of the common religion.

believing all, &c.—Here, disowning all opinions at variance with the Old Testament Scriptures, he challenges for the Gospel which he preached the authority of the God of their fathers. So much for the charge of heresy.

But this I confess; he makes here a good confession, and is indeed a follower of Christ, who before Pontius Pilate is said to have witnessed a good confession, 1 Timothy 6:13.

Heresy: this word is of a middle signification, being sometimes taken in a good sense, as Acts 26:5, and thus the Greeks did use it sometimes when they spake of their philosophers; though the Jews called the doctrine of Christ so in the worst acceptation of the word; which doctrine this blessed apostle is not ashamed to own. Yet he does withal truly assert, that he worshipped no other God than the God of his fathers, but worshipped him whom Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (whom they so much gloried in) had worshipped; and that he had no other religion than what was taught in the law and the prophets, from whom they themselves had received theirs. But this I confess unto thee,.... What was truth he was not ashamed of, but ready to own, and bear his testimony for, whatever was the consequence of it:

that after the way which they call heresy; referring to the charge of his being a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes, Acts 24:5 and meaning by the way the Christian religion, or the doctrines of Christianity, which the Jews called heresy; and as early as this were the Christians, by them, called heretics: so we read (r) of , "a prayer against the heretics", which Samuel (the little) composed before, or in the presence of R. Gamaliel the elder, he approving of it; which R. Gamaliel was Paul's master; and some have thought, that Samuel the little, the composer of this prayer, was Saul himself; so that he knew very well that the Christian doctrine was called heresy, and the Christians heretics, for he had called them so himself in the time of his unregeneracy; but now he was not ashamed to profess that way, and walk in it, and according to it worship God, as follows:

so worship I the God of my fathers; even Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, suggesting, that by embracing Christianity, he had not denied, and gone off from the worship of the one, only, living, and true God, the God of Israel; and that there was an entire agreement between the saints of the Old Testament, and the Christians of the New, in the object of worship; the Vulgate Latin version reads, "so serve I the Father, and my God"; that is, God the Father, who is the Father of Christ, and the God and Father of believers in him:

believing all things which are written in the law and the prophets; which the Sadducees did not; and strictly adhering to these, and not to the traditions of the elders, as did the Scribes and Pharisees; so that since he believed whatever was contained in the sacred writings, he could not be charged justly with heresy; and as he believed, so he taught nothing but what was agreeably to the Scriptures of the Old Testament.

(r) Ganz Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 25. 2. Vid. T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 28. 2. & 29. 1. Maimon. Hilch. Tephilla, c. 2. sect. 1.

{3} But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call {i} heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:

(3) Paul proceeds in the case of religion from a conjectural state to a practical state, not only admitting of the religion which he was accused of, but also proving it to be true, to be heavenly and from God, and to be the oldest of all religions.

(i) Here this word heresy or sect is taken in a good sense.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 24:14-15. Δέ] opposes the positive confession, which now follows, to the preceding merely negative assurance (Acts 24:12-13): but, doubtless, I confess: “As a Christian I reverence the same God with the Jews, follow the same rule of faith, and I have the same hope on God, that there shall be a resurrection,” etc. Thus, notwithstanding that malicious πρωτοστάτην τῆς τῶν Ναζ. αἱρ., I am in nowise an enemy of the existing religion (protected by the roman laws!). And with full truth could this “confessio ingenua, voluntaria, plena” (Bengel) be furnished by Paul (in opposition to Baur and Zeller; also Schneckenburger, p. 147 f.), as he recognised in Christianity the completion of the divine law and the fulfilment of the prophets; and this recognition, as regards the law, necessarily presupposes the belief in all that is written in the law, namely, in its connection with the fulfilment effected by Christ (comp. Romans 3:31; Romans 13:8 ff.; Galatians 3:24), although the law as a rule of justification has reached its end in Christ (Romans 10:4).

κατὰ τὴν ὁδὸν κ.τ.λ.] according to the way, which, etc., according to the Christian mode of life (Acts 22:4, Acts 9:2, Acts 19:23).

ἣν λέγ. αἵρεσιν] for Tertullus had, Acts 24:5, used αἵρεσις, in itself a vox media (school, party, see Wetstein on 1 Corinthians 11:19), in a bad sense (a schismatic party, sect).

τῷ πατρῴῳ Θεῷ] the God worshipped by the ancestors of my nation and from them received (Acts 22:3). How inviolable were even to the heathen their ancestral gods! See Wetstein and Kypke, II. p. 122 f.; and on the expression very common also among the Greeks, Lobeck, Aglaoph. p. 1206, 769 ff.; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. 533 f.

πιστεύων κ.τ.λ] is now that which is emphatically indicated by οὕτω: in this way: (namely) believing all things, etc. Comp. Bornemann in Rosenmüller, Repert. II. p. 277; Bernhardy, p. 284.

κατὰ τὸν νόμον] throughout the law (-book).

ἐλπίδα ἔχων] contains a characteristic circumstance accompanying πιστεύων πᾶσι κ.τ.λ.

καὶ αὐτοὶ οὗτοι] even they themselves there, is spoken δεικτικῶς to those present as the representatives of the nation in the transaction. It was natural that this point of view in its generality should admit no reference to the Sadducean deviation from the national belief of the resurrection, or at all to special differences concerning this dogma. It is just as certain that Paul understood δικαίων and ἀδίκων morally, and not according to the sense of the self-conceit of the descendants of Abraham (Bertholdt, Christol. pp. 176 ff., 203 ff.). Comp. on Luke 14:14.

προσδέχονται] expectant. The hope is treated as objective (see on Romans 8:24). Comp. Eur. Alc. 131; Job 2:9; Isaiah 28:10; Titus 2:13; and comp. on Galatians 5:5.Acts 24:14. ὁμολ.: “verbum forense idemque sacrum,” Bengel. “Unum crimen confitetur,” viz., that of belonging to the sect of the Nazarenes, “sed crimen non esse docet”.—κατὰ τὴν ὁδὸν ἢν λέγ. αἴρεσιν: “according to the way which they call a sect,” R.V. For ὁδὸν see Acts 9:2, and for the reading in [381] text critical note. αἵρεσιν: a word of neutral significance, which Tertullus had used in a bad sense. For St. Paul Christianity was not αἵρεσις, a separation from the Jewish religion, but was rather πλήρωσις, cf. Acts 13:32.—τῷ πατρ. Θεῷ, cf. Acts 22:3. The Apostle may have used the expression here as a classical one which the Roman might appreciate, cf. θεοὶ πατρῷοι, Thuc., ii., 71; Æn., ix., 247, and instances in Wetstein. (On the distinctions between πατρῷος and πατρικός, Galatians 1:14, see Syn[382], Grimm-Thayer.) Moreover St. Paul could appeal to the fact that liberty had been given to the Jews by the Romans themselves to worship the God of their fathers (see Alford’s note, in loco).—λατρεύω: “so serve I,” R.V., see on Acts 7:42; if it is true that the word always describes a divine service like λατρεία, and that this idea appears to spring from the conception of complete devotion of powers to a master which lies in the root of the word (Westcott), no verb could more appropriately describe the service of one who called himself δοῦλος of God and of Christ.—πᾶσι το͂ις κατὰ τὸν ν. κ.τ.λ.: “all things which are according to the law,” R.V., “iterum refutat Tertullum, Acts 24:6,” Bengel; “and which are written in the prophets,” R.V. The mention of the prophets as well as of the law shows that a reference to the Messianic hopes is intended.

[381] R(omana), in Blass, a first rough copy of St. Luke.

[382] synonym, synonymous.14. after the way which they call heresy] Better (with Rev. Ver.) “after the Way which they call a sect.” The word is the same which is used in Acts 24:5 for the “sect” of the Nazarenes. St Paul employs the expression “the Way,” in that sense in which it soon became well known, to signify “the Christian religion.” See note on Acts 9:2.

so worship I the God of my fathers] Better, as Rev. Ver., “so serve I the God of our fathers.” The verb is not the same as in Acts 24:11. Here the notion is of service which a man is bound to pay. The Apostle means that he has cast off no morsel of his old allegiance. The adjective can equally be rendered by “my fathers” or “our fathers,” but St Paul’s aim is to shew that he has not severed himself from the ancestral faith of the whole nation, and so his thought would include himself with them.

believing all things which are written in the law and the prophets] The Rev. Ver. gives very literally “all things which are according to the Law, and which are written in the Prophets.” The Apostle thus testifies to his complete acceptance of all the Jewish Scriptures. Sometimes the division is given as “the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44), but more frequently, as in the text, only two sections are named (cp. Matthew 7:12; Matthew 11:13; Matthew 22:40; Luke 16:16; John 1:45).Acts 24:14. Ὁμολογῶ, I confess) A forensic word, and one also used in sacred things, and appropriately employed here. A confession ingenuous, voluntary, full; having respect to faith in this verse; to hope, in the following verse; to love, in Acts 24:17. They who assent to this confession are accused of being a sect (heresy), with the same injustice as Paul was.—ὁδὸν, way) He confesses that he is one of those whom Tertullus had termed “Nazarenes.”—λέγουσιν αἴρεσιν, they call a sect, heresy) This appellation (Acts 24:5) Paul corrects, not that it was at the time an odious term (as sect or heresy is now), but because it is not a sufficiently worthy one. Αἵρεσις, a sect, is a thing of human caprice (humour): the way (ὁδὸς) is a thing divinely ordained. He had said all that was required for his defence; but now, skilfully making a handle of the opportunity, he adds a confession of faith.—πατρῷῳ) Paul confutes the prejudice as to the newness of Christianity.—νόμον, in the law) Again he refutes Tertullus, Acts 24:6.—γεγραμμένοις, written) concerning Jesus of Nazareth, Acts 24:5.Verse 14. - A sect for heresy, A.V.; serve for worship, A.V.; our for my, A.V. (my is better, as following "I serve," and addressed to a Roman judge); which are according to the Law, and which are written in the prophets for which are written in the Law and in the prophets, A.V. A sect, This, of course, refers to this expression of Tertullus in verse 5, Πρωτοστάτης τῆς τῶν Ναζωραίων αἱρέσεως, "Ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes." The word αἵρεσις, which means primarily "choice," has not necessarily or even ordinarily a bad sense. In classical Greek its secondary sense was a "sect" or "school" of philosophy, Academics, Peripatetics, Stoics, Epicureans, etc. The Jews applied it to their own different schools of thought. So in Acts 5:17 we read, Αἵρεσις τῶν Σαδδουκαίων, "The sect of the Sadducees;" in Acts 15:5, Αἵρεσις τῶν Φαρισαίων, "The sect of the Pharisees;" in Acts 26:5 St. Paul speaks of himself as having been a Pharisee, Κατὰ τὴν ἀκριβεστάτην αἵρεσιν τῆς ἡμετέρας θρησκείας, "After the straitest sect of our religion" (see too Acts 28:22). It begins to have a bad sense in St. Paul's Epistles (1 Corinthians 11:19; Galatians 5:20; and 2 Peter 2:1, αἱρέσεις ἀπωλείας, where, however, it gets its bad sense from the ἀπωλείας joined to it). In ecclesiastical writers it came to have its worst sense of "heresy" as something worse even than "schism." In this reference to Tertullus's phrase, St. Paul seems hardly to admit that Christianity was properly called "a sect" by the Jews, but gives it the milder term of "the Way" (see Acts 9:2, note). The God of our [my] father (τῷ πατρῳ Θεῷ); comp. Galatians 1:14; and Acts 22:3; Acts 28:17. Observe how St. Paul throughout insists that, in becoming a Christian, he had not been disloyal to Moses, or the Law, or the prophets, or to the religion of his fathers, but quite the contrary. According to the Law. Κατὰ τὸν νόμον may mean either, as in the R.V., "according to the Law," or, as Meyer takes it, "throughout the Law," and then is better coupled, as in the A.V., with τοῖς γεγραμμένοις. The Law, and... the prophets (as Matthew 5:17; Luke 24:27, 44). The way

See on Acts 9:2.

A sect

See on Acts 24:5. The word is commonly used in an indifferent sense, as signifying merely a school or party. So Acts 15:5; Acts 28:22. Here, however, in a bad sense - schismatic sect, as in 1 Corinthians 11:19.

Worship (λατρεύω)

Better, as Rev., serve. See on Luke 1:74.

God of my fathers (τῷ πατρώῳ Θεῷ)

A familiar classical phrase, and therefore well known to Felix. Thus Demosthenes calls Apollo the πατρῷος (ancestral god) of Athens. Socrates is asked (Plato, "Euthydemus," 302), "Have you an ancestral Zeus (Ζεὺς πατρῷος)?" So, frequently, in the classics. Similarly, the Roman phrase, Di patrii, "the gods of the forefathers." On the Roman reverence for the ancestral religion, see note on Acts 16:21. The Roman's own sentiment would prepare him to respect Paul's.

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