Acts 11:20
And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus.
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(20) And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene.—Better, But some. These were, from the nature of the case, Hellenistic or Greek-speaking Jews. Who they were we can only conjecture. Possibly Lucius of Cyrene, who appears in the list of prophets in Acts 13:1; possibly Simon of Cyrene, of whom we have seen reason to think as a disciple of Christ. (See Notes on Matthew 27:32; Mark 15:21.) The founders of the Church of Antioch, like those of the Church of Rome, must remain unknown.

Spake unto the Grecians.—The MSS. present the two readings—Hellenistæ Greek-speaking Jews, and Hellenes, Greeks or Gentiles by descent. As far as their authority is concerned, the two stand nearly on the same level, the balance inclining slightly in favour of Hellenistæ, which is found in MSS. B and D, while A gives Hellenes. The Sinaitic has the almost incomprehensible reading “they spake unto the Evangelistœ,” which is obviously wrong, but which, so far as it goes, must be thrown into the scale in favour of Hellenistæ, as the word which the transcriber had before him, and which he misread or misheard. If we receive that reading, then we must suppose St. Luke to lay stress upon the fact that the preachers of whom he speaks, instead of speaking to the Jews at large, many of whom, being Syrians, would speak Aramaic, addressed themselves specially to the Greek-speaking Jews and proselytes, and were thus following in St. Stephen’s footsteps, and indirectly preparing the way for St. Paul—the Hellenistæ being, as a body, the link between the Jews as a race and the Hellenes. On the whole, however, internal evidence seems to turn the scale in favour of the other reading. (1) As the Hellenistæ were “Jews,” though not “Hebrews,” they would naturally be included in the statement of Acts 11:19, and so there would be no contrast, no new advance, indicated in Acts 11:20 in the statement that the word was spoken to them. (2) The contrast between Jews and Hellenes is, on the other hand, as in Acts 14:1; Acts 18:4, a perfectly natural and familiar one, and assuming this to be the true reading, we get a note of progress which otherwise we should miss, there being no record elsewhere of the admission of the Gentiles at Antioch. (3) It does not necessarily follow, however, that the Hellenes who are spoken of had been heathen idolaters up to the time of their conversion. Probably, as in Acts 18:4, they were more or less on the same level as Cornelius, proselytes of the gate, attending the services of the synagogue. (4) The question whether this preceded or followed the conversion of Cornelius is one which we have not sufficient data for deciding. On the one hand, the brief narrative of Acts 11:19 suggests the thought of an interval as long as that between the death of Stephen and St. Peter’s visit to Cæsarea, and it may have been part of the working of God’s providence that there should be simultaneous and parallel advances. On the other, the language of those of the circumcision to Peter in Acts 11:3, implies that they had not heard of such a case before; and that of the Apostle himself, in Acts 15:7, distinctly claims the honour of having been the first (possibly, however, only the first among the disciples at Jerusalem) from whose lips the Gentiles, as such, had heard the word of the gospel. On the whole, therefore, it seems probable that the work went on at Antioch for many months among the Hellenistic and other Jews, and that the men of Cyprus and Cyrene arrived after the case of Cornelius had removed the scruples which had hitherto restrained them from giving full scope to the longings of their heart. We must not forget, however, that there was one to whom the Gospel of the Uncircumcision, the Gospel of Humanity, had been already revealed in its fulness (Acts 20:21; Galatians 1:11-12), and we can hardly think of him as waiting, after that revelation, for any decision of the Church of Jerusalem. His action, at any rate, must have been parallel and independent, and may have been known to, and followed by, other missionaries.

Preaching the Lord Jesus.—As before, preaching the glad tidings of the Lord Jesus.



Acts 11:20 - Acts 11:21

Thus simply does the historian tell one of the greatest events in the history of the Church. How great it was will appear if we observe that the weight of authority among critics and commentators sees here an extension of the message of salvation to Greeks, that is, to pure heathens, and not a mere preaching to Hellenists, that is, to Greek-speaking Jews born outside Palestine.

If that be correct, this was a great stride forward in the development of the Church. It needed a vision to overcome the scruples of Peter, and impel him to the bold innovation of preaching to Cornelius and his household, and, as we know, his doing so gave grave offence to some of his brethren in Jerusalem. But in the case before us, some Cypriote and African Jews-men of no note in the Church, whose very names have perished, with no official among them, with no vision nor command to impel them, with no precedent to encourage them, with nothing but the truth in their minds and the impulses of Christ’s love in their hearts-solve the problem of the extension of Christ’s message to the heathen, and, quite unconscious of the greatness of their act, do the thing about the propriety of which there had been such serious question in Jerusalem.

This boldness becomes even more remarkable if we notice that the incident of our text may have taken place before Peter’s visit to Cornelius. The verse before our text, ‘They which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled, . . . preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only,’ is almost a verbatim repetition of words in an earlier chapter, and evidently suggests that the writer is returning to that point of time, in order to take up another thread of his narrative contemporaneous with those already pursued. If so, three distinct lines of expansion appear to have started from the dispersion of the Jerusalem church in the persecution-namely, Philip’s mission to Samaria, Peter’s to Cornelius, and this work in Antioch. Whether prior in time or no, the preaching in the latter city was plainly quite independent of the other two. It is further noteworthy that this, the effort of a handful of unnamed men, was the true ‘leader’-the shoot that grew. Philip’s work, and Peter’s so far as we know, were side branches, which came to little; this led on to a church at Antioch, and so to Paul’s missionary work, and all that came of that.

The incident naturally suggests some thoughts bearing on the general subject of Christian work, which we now briefly present.

I. Notice the spontaneous impulse which these men obeyed.

Persecution drove the members of the Church apart, and, as a matter of course, wherever they went they took their faith with them, and, as a matter of course, spoke about it. The coals were scattered from the hearth in Jerusalem by the armed heel of violence. That did not put the fire out, but only spread it, for wherever they were flung they kindled a blaze. These men had no special injunction ‘to preach the Lord Jesus.’ They do not seem to have adopted this line of action deliberately, or of set purpose. ‘They believed, and therefore spoke.’ A spontaneous impulse, and nothing more, leads them on. They find themselves rejoicing in a great Saviour-Friend. They see all around them men who need Him, and that is enough. They obey the promptings of the voice within, and lay the foundations of the first Gentile Church.

Such a spontaneous impulse is ever the natural result of our own personal possession of Christ. In regard to worldly good the instinct, except when overcome by higher motives, is to keep the treasure to oneself. But even in the natural sphere there are possessions which to have is to long to impart, such as truth and knowledge. And in the spiritual sphere, it is emphatically the case that real possession is always accompanied by a longing to impart. The old prophet spoke a universal truth when he said: ‘Thy word was as a fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.’ If we have found Christ for ourselves, we shall undoubtedly wish to speak forth our knowledge of His love. Convictions which are deep demand expression. Emotion which is strong needs utterance. If our hearts have any fervour of love to Christ in them, it will be as natural to tell it forth, as tears are to sorrow or smiles to happiness. True, there is a reticence in profound feeling, and sometimes the deepest love can only ‘love and be silent,’ and there is a just suspicion of loud or vehement protestations of Christian emotion, as of any emotion. But for all that, it remains true that a heart warmed with the love of Christ needs to express its love, and will give it forth, as certainly as light must radiate from its centre, or heat from a fire.

Then, true kindliness of heart creates the same impulse. We cannot truly possess the treasure for ourselves without pity for those who have it not. Surely there is no stranger contradiction than that Christian men and women can be content to keep Christ as if He were their special property, and have their spirits untouched into any likeness of His divine pity for the multitudes who were as ‘sheep having no shepherd.’ What kind of Christians must they be who think of Christ as ‘a Saviour for me,’ and take no care to set Him forth as ‘a Saviour for you’? What should we think of men in a shipwreck who were content to get into the lifeboat, and let everybody else drown? What should we think of people in a famine feasting sumptuously on their private stores, whilst women were boiling their children for a meal and men fighting with dogs for garbage on the dunghills? ‘He that withholdeth bread, the people shall curse him.’ What of him who withholds the Bread of Life, and all the while claims to be a follower of the Christ, who gave His flesh for the life of the world?

Further, loyalty to Christ creates the same impulse. If we are true to our Lord, we shall feel that we cannot but speak up and out for Him, and that all the more where His name is unloved and unhonoured. He has left His good fame very much in our hands, and the very same impulse which hurries words to our lips when we hear the name of an absent friend calumniated should make us speak for Him. He is a doubtfully loyal subject who, if he lives among rebels, is afraid to show his colours. He is already a coward, and is on the way to be a traitor. Our Master has made us His witnesses. He has placed in our hands, as a sacred deposit, the honour of His name. He has entrusted to us, as His selectest sign of confidence, the carrying out of the purposes for which on earth His blood was shed, on which in heaven His heart is set. How can we be loyal to Him if we are not forced by a mighty constraint to respond to His great tokens of trust in us, and if we know nothing of that spirit which said: ‘Necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!’ I do not say that a man cannot be a Christian unless he knows and obeys this impulse. But, at least, we may safely say that he is a very weak and imperfect Christian who does not.

II. This incident suggests the universal obligation on all Christians to make known Christ.

These men were not officials. In these early days the Church had a very loose organisation. But the fugitives in our narrative seem to have had among them none even of the humble office-bearers of primitive times. Neither had they any command or commission from Jerusalem. No one there had given them authority, or, as would appear, knew anything of their proceedings. Could there be a more striking illustration of the great truth that whatever varieties of function may be committed to various officers in the Church, the work of telling Christ’s love to men belongs to every one who has found it for himself or herself? ‘This honour have all the saints.’

Whatever may be our differences of opinion as to Church order and offices, they need not interfere with our firm grasp of this truth. ‘Preaching Christ,’ in the sense in which that expression is used in the New Testament, implies no one special method of proclaiming the glad tidings. A word written in a letter to a friend, a sentence dropped in casual conversation, a lesson to a child on a mother’s lap, or any other way by which, to any listeners, the great story of the Cross is told, is as truly-often more truly-preaching Christ as the set discourse which has usurped the name.

We profess to believe in the priesthood of all believers, we are ready enough to assert it in opposition to sacerdotal assumptions. Are we as ready to recognise it as laying a very real responsibility upon us, and involving a very practical inference as to our own conduct? We all have the power, therefore we all have the duty. For what purpose did God give us the blessing of knowing Christ ourselves? Not for our own well-being alone, but that through us the blessing might be still further diffused.

‘Heaven doth with us as men with torches do,

Not light them for themselves.’

‘God hath shined into our hearts’ that we might give to others ‘the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.’ Every Christian is solemnly bound to fulfil this divine intention, and to take heed to the imperative command, ‘Freely ye have received, freely give.’

III. Observe, further, the simple message which they proclaimed.

‘Preaching the Lord Jesus,’ says the text-or more accurately perhaps-’preaching Jesus as Lord.’ The substance, then, of their message was just this-proclamation of the person and dignity of their Master, the story of the human life of the Man, the story of the divine sacrifice and self-bestowment by which He had bought the right of supreme rule over every heart; and the urging of His claims on all who heard of His love. And this, their message, was but the proclamation of their own personal experience. They had found Jesus to be for themselves Lover and Lord, Friend and Saviour of their souls, and the joy they had received they sought to share with these Greeks, worshippers of gods and lords many.

Surely anybody can deliver that message who has had that experience. All have not the gifts which would fit for public speech, but all who have ‘tasted that the Lord is gracious’ can somehow tell how gracious He is. The first Christian sermon was very short, and it was very efficacious, for it ‘brought to Jesus’ the whole congregation. Here it is: ‘He first findeth his brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias.’ Surely we can all say that, if we have found Him. Surely we shall all long to say it, if we are glad that we have found Him, and if we love our brother.

Notice, too, how simple the form as well as the substance of the message. ‘They spake.’ It was no set address, no formal utterance, but familiar, natural talk to ones and twos, as opportunity offered. The form was so simple that we may say that there was none. What we want is that Christian people should speak anyhow. What does the shape of the cup matter? What does it matter whether it be gold or clay? The main thing is that it shall bear the water of life to some thirsty lip. All Christians have to preach, as the word is used here, that is, to tell the good news. Their task is to carry a message-no refinement of words is needed for that-arguments are not needed. They have to tell it simply and faithfully, as one who only cares to repeat what he has had given to him. They have to tell it confidently, as having proved it true. They have to tell it beseechingly, as loving the souls to whom they bring it. Surely we can all do that, if we ourselves are living on Christ and have drunk into His Spirit. Let His mighty salvation, experienced by yourselves, be the substance of your message, and let the form of it be guided by the old words, ‘It shall be, when the Spirit of the Lord is come upon thee, that thou shalt do as occasion shall serve thee.’

IV. Notice, lastly, the mighty Helper who prospered their work.

‘The hand of the Lord was with them.’ The very keynote of this Book of the Acts is the work of the ascended Christ in and for His Church. At every turning-point in the history, and throughout the whole narratives, forms of speech like this occur, bearing witness to the profound conviction of the writer that Christ’s active energy was with His servants, and Christ’s Hand the origin of all their security and of all their success.

So this is a statement of a permanent and universal fact. We do not labour alone; however feeble our hands, that mighty Hand is laid on them to direct their movements and to lend strength to their weakness. It is not our speech which will secure results, but His presence with our words which will bring it about that even through them a great number shall believe and turn to the Lord. There is our encouragement when we are despondent. There is our rebuke when we are self-confident. There is our stimulus when we are indolent. There is our quietness when we are impatient. If ever we are tempted to think our task heavy, let us not forget that He who set it helps us to do it, and from His throne shares in all our toils, the Lord still, as of old, working with us. If ever we feel that our strength is nothing, and that we stand solitary against many foes, let us fall back upon the peace-giving thought that one man against the world, with Christ to help him, is always in the majority, and let us leave issues of our work in His hands, whose hand will guard the seed sown in weakness, whose smile will bless the springing thereof.

How little any of us know what will become of our poor work, under His fostering care! How little these men knew that they were laying the foundations of the great change which was to transform the Christian community from a Jewish sect into a world-embracing Church! So is it ever. We know not what we do when simply and humbly we speak His name. The far-reaching results escape our eyes. Then, sow the seed, and He will ‘give it a body as it pleaseth Him.’ On earth we may never know the fruits of our labours. They will be among the surprises of heaven, where many a solitary worker shall exclaim with wonder, as he looks on the hitherto unknown children whom God hath given him, ‘Behold, I was left alone; these, where had they been?’ Then, though our names may have perished from earthly memories, like those of the simple fugitives of Cyprus and Cyrene, who ‘were the first that ever burst’ into the night of heathendom with the torch of the Gospel in their hands, they will be written in the Lamb’s book of life, and He will confess them in the presence of His Father in heaven.

11:19-24 The first preachers of the gospel at Antioch, were dispersed from Jerusalem by persecution; thus what was meant to hurt the church, was made to work for its good. The wrath of man is made to praise God. What should the ministers of Christ preach, but Christ? Christ, and him crucified? Christ, and him glorified? And their preaching was accompanied with the Divine power. The hand of the Lord was with them, to bring that home to the hearts and consciences of men, which they could but speak to the outward ear. They believed; they were convinced of the truth of the gospel. They turned from a careless, carnal way of living, to live a holy, heavenly, spiritual life. They turned from worshipping God in show and ceremony, to worship him in the Spirit and in truth. They turned to the Lord Jesus, and he became all in all with them. This was the work of conversion wrought upon them, and it must be wrought upon every one of us. It was the fruit of their faith; all who sincerely believe, will turn to the Lord, When the Lord Jesus is preached in simplicity, and according to the Scriptures, he will give success; and when sinners are thus brought to the Lord, really good men, who are full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, will admire and rejoice in the grace of God bestowed on them. Barnabas was full of faith; full of the grace of faith, and full of the fruits of the faith that works by love.Were men of Cyprus and Cyrene - Were natives of Cyprus and Cyrene. Cyrene was a province and city of Libya in Africa. It is at present called Cairoan, and is situated in the kingdom of Barca. In Cyprus the Greek language was spoken; and from the vicinity of Cyrene to Alexandria, it is probable that the Greek language was spoken there also. From this circumstance it might have happened that they were led more particularly to address the Grecians who were in Antioch. It is possible, however, that they might have heard of the vision which Peter saw, and felt themselves called on to preach the gospel to the Gentiles.

Spake unto the Grecians - πρὸς τοὺς Ἑλληνιστὰς pros tous Hellēnistas. To the Hellenists. This word usually denotes in the New Testament "those Jews residing in foreign lands, who spoke the Greek language." See the notes on Acts 6:1. But to them the gospel had been already preached; and yet in this place it is evidently the intention of Luke to affirm that the people of Cyprus and Cyrene preached to those who were not Jews, and that thus their conduct was distinguished from those (Acts 11:19) who preached to the Jews only. It is thus manifest that we are here required to understand the Gentiles as those who were addressed by the people of Cyprus and Cyrene. In many mss. the word used here is Ἕλληνας Hellēnas, "Greeks," instead of "Hellenists." This reading has been adopted by Griesbach, and is found in the Syriac, the Arabic, the Vulgate, and in many of the early fathers. The Aethiopic version reads "to the Gentiles." There is no doubt that this is the true reading; and that the sacred writer means to say that the gospel was here preached to. Those who were not Jews, for all were called "Greeks" by them who were not Jews, Romans 1:16. The connection would lead us to suppose that they had heard of what had been done by Peter, and that, imitating his example, they preached the gospel now to the Gentiles also.

20. some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene—(see on [1993]Lu 23:26); as Lucius, mentioned in Ac 13:1.

spake unto the Grecians—rather, "the Greeks," that is, uncircumcised Gentiles (as the true reading beyond doubt is). The Gospel had, from the first, been preached to "the Grecians" or Greek-speaking Jews, and these "men of Cyprus and Cyrene" were themselves "Grecians." How, then, can we suppose that the historian would note, as something new and singular (Ac 11:22), that some of the dispersed Christians preached to them?

Men of Cyprus and Cyrene; they were such as were born in Cyprus and Cyrene, but had their habitation in Jerusalem, and now upon the persecution there fled unto Antioch; which by this means in time became the Jerusalem of the Gentile Christians, whither their greatest resort was.

Spake unto the Grecians: here they of the dispersion taught not only such Hellenists as are spoken of, Acts 6:1, who were born of Hebrew parents, though living out of the country of Judea; but such also amongst the Gentiles, (who are generally called Greeks since Alexander’s time, who conquered all those nations round about, and brought in his own language amongst them), who, forsaking idolatry, and worshipping the true God, were called sebomenoi, devout or religious persons, such as Cornelius is said to be, Acts 10:2. And thus God by degrees brought in the knowledge of himself, and his Son Jesus Christ.

Preaching the Lord Jesus; which knowledge only is that which is necessary unto salvation, and that only which Saul determined to know, 1 Corinthians 2:2.

And some of them were men of Cyprus,.... That is, some of the preachers, that were scattered abroad, were Jews born at Cyprus: such was Barnabas particularly, Acts 4:36 though he was not among these, as appears from Acts 11:22 "and Cyrene"; such were Simon that carried the cross after Christ, and his sons Alexander and Rufus, Mark 15:21 and others that heard the apostles speak with tongues on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:10

which when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians; or Hellenist Jews, who were born and brought up in Greece, and spoke the Greek language; though the Alexandrian copy, and the Syriac version, read "Greeks", as if they were native Greeks, and properly Gentiles, to whom these ministers spoke the word of the Lord; but the former seems most likely.

Preaching the Lord Jesus; the dignity of his person, as the Son of God; what he did and suffered to obtain salvation for lost sinners; his resurrection from the dead, ascension to heaven, and intercession; the virtue of his blood for peace and pardon of his sacrifice for atonement of sin, and of his righteousness for justification.

{4} And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus.

(4) The church of Antioch, the new Jerusalem of the Gentiles, was extraordinarily called.

Acts 11:20. ἄνδρες Κύπ. καὶ Κυρ., cf. Acts 4:36, Acts 21:16; Acts 2:10, Acts 6:9.—Ἑλληνιστάς, see critical notes.—εὐαγγελιζόμενοι τὸν Κ. .: on construction with accusative of the message, Simcox, Language of the N. T., p. 79. We can scarcely take the phrase given here, instead of “preaching that Jesus was the Christ,” as a proof that the word was preached not to Jews but to Gentiles.—Ἀντιόχειαν: on the Orontes, distinguished as . ἡ πρός, or ἐπὶ Δάφνῃ, and bearing the title μητρόπολις. There appear to have been at least five places in Syria so called under the Seleucids. For the Arabs Damascus was the capital, but the Greeks wanted to be nearer the Mediterranean and Asia Minor. The city built in 500 B.C. by Seleucus Nicator I. became more and more beautiful, whilst all the trade of the Mediterranean was connected with it through its harbour Seleucia. All the varied elements of the life of the ancient world found a home there. From the first there were Jews amongst its inhabitants. But in such a mixed population, whilst art and literature could gain the praise of Cicero, vice as well as luxury made the city infamous as well as famous. Josephus calls it the third city of the empire, next to Rome and Alexandria, but Ausonius hesitates between Antioch and Alexandria, as to the rank they occupied in eminence and vice. The famous words of Juvenal: “in Tiberim defluxit Orontes,” Sat., iii., 62, describe the influences which Antioch, with its worthless rabble of Greeks and parasites, with its quacks and impostors, its rivalries and debaucheries, exercised upon Rome. Gibbon speaks of the city in the days of Julian as a place where the lively licentiousness of the Greek was blended with the hereditary softness of the Syrian. Yet here was the μητρόπολις, not merely of Syria, but of the Gentile Christian Churches, and next to Jerusalem no city is more closely associated with the early history and spread of the Christian faith. See “Antioch” (G. A. Smith) in Hastings’ B.D.; Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chaps. xxiii., xxiv.; Renan, Les Apôtres, chaps. xii., xiii.—ἐλάλουν: “used to speak,” so Ramsay.

20. And [But] some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene] in whose minds, from their more cosmopolitan education, there was less scruple about mixing with Gentiles than existed among the Jews of Palestine, the home of the nation, and by consequence the stronghold of their prejudices.

spake unto the Grecians] The best MSS. have Greeks, and this is clearly the correct reading. The N. T. uses Hellenistæ = Grecians, to mean those Jews who had been born abroad and spoke the Greek language, or else for proselytes, but Hellenes = Greeks, when the heathen population is spoken of. Now it is clear that it would have been no matter of remark had these men preached to Greek-Jews, for of them there was a large number in the Church of Jerusalem, as we see from the events related in chap. Acts 6:1, and most probably these Grecian and Cyprian teachers were themselves Greek-Jews; but what calls for special mention by St Luke is that they, moved perhaps by some spiritual impulse, addressed their preaching in Antioch to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews.

Acts 11:20. Κυρηναῖοι, men of Cyrene) ch. Acts 13:1, Lucius of Cyrene; Acts 2:10, The dwellers in the parts of Libya about Cyrene. These, as well as the Cyprians, were more accustomed to be conversant with Gentiles.—Ἕλληνας) The more common reading is Ἑλληνιστάς.1[66] But the Hellenists are opposed to the Hebrews, ch. Acts 6:1, with which comp. ch. Acts 9:29. The Greeks are opposed in this place to the Jews, as everywhere. [Ἰουδαῖοι are either Hebrews or Hellenists: ch. Acts 6:1.—Not. Crit.] Ussher on A. M. 4045 rightly approves of this reading.

[66] 1 This had been preferred by the larger Ed., but both the 2d Ed. margin and the Germ. Vers. answers to the Gnomon.—E. B.

Ἑλληνιστάς is the reading of B (judging from the silence of the collators) E. But AD corrected have Ἕλληνας. This seems to be required by the sense: for it was nothing new to preach to Hellenists or Grecian Jews; but it was a special “grace of God,” taken particular notice of by the Church, ver. 22, 23, that the Gospel should be preached to idolatrous Gentiles. Even Cornelius had been a devout Gentile, or proselyte of the gate; but these converts were made of Greeks, idolaters. Hence the need of the new name, then first given, Christians, to distinguish them altogether from the Jews; whereas before they might seem to have been a mere sect of Judaism. Vulg. has Græcos, but it does not seem to distinguish Hellenists and Hellenes—E. and T.

Verse 20. But there were some of them... who for and some of them were.., which, A.V.; the Greeks also for the Grecians, A.V. and T.R. This last is a most important variation of reading - Ἑλλῆνας, Greeks for Ἑλληνίστας, Grecians, i.e. Grecian Jews, or Hellenists. It is supported, however, by strong authority of manuscripts, versions, and Fathers, and is accepted by Grotius, Witsius, Griesbach, Lachman, Tischendorf, Meyer, Conybeare and Howson, Alford, Westcott, Bishop Lightfoot, and the 'Speaker's Commentary' (apparently) and most modern critics. It is also strongly argued that the internal evidence proves Ἑλλῆνας to be the right reading, because the statement that the men of Cyprus and Cyrene preached the gospel to them is contrasted with the action of the others, who preached to the Jews only. Obviously, therefore, these Hellenes were not Jews. Moreover, there was nothing novel in the conversion and admission into the Church of Hellenistic Jews (see Acts 2:5, etc.; Acts 9:22, 29). And these very preachers were in all probability Hellenists themselves. Bishop Wordsworth, however, on the contrary, defends, though with doubt, the reading Ἑλληνίστας; and argues that even if Ἑλλῆνας is the right reading, it must mean the same as Ἑλληνίστας. He also hints that it might mean "proselytes" (see Acts 14:1, where the Hellenes attend the synagogue, and Acts 17:4). But there is no evidence that these were proselytes any more than Cornelius was. The Hellenes, or Greeks, here were probably uncircumcised Greeks who feared God, like Cornelius, and attended the synagogue worship (see Meyer on Acts 14:1). It is very likely that in Antioch, where the Jews occupied such a prominent position, some of the Greek inhabitants should be attracted by their doctrines and worship, repelled, perhaps, by the prevalent superstitions and profligate levity of the great city. Acts 11:20The Greeks (Ἕλληνας)

Some, however, read Ἑλληνιστὰς, the Grecian Jews. See on Acts 6:1. The express object of the narrative has been to describe the admission of Gentiles into the church. There would have been nothing remarkable in these men preaching to Hellenists who had long before been received into the church, and formed a large part of the church at Jerusalem. It is better to follow the rendering of A. V. and Rev., though the other reading has the stronger MS. evidence. Note, also, the contrast with the statement in Acts 11:19, to the Jews only. There is no contrast between Jews and Hellenists, since Hellenists are included in the general term Jews.

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