Acts 13:50
But the Jews stirred up the devout and honorable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(50) The Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women.—The fact stated brings before us another feature of the relations between Jews and Gentiles at this period. They “compassed sea and land to make one proselyte” (Matthew 23:15). They found it easier to make proselytes of women. Such conversions had their good and their bad sides. In many cases there was a real longing for a higher and purer life than was found in the infinite debasement of Greek and Roman society, which found its satisfaction in the life and faith of Israel. (See Notes on Acts 17:4; Acts 17:12.) But with many, such as Juvenal speaks of when he describes (Sat. vi. 542) the Jewish teacher who gains influence over women—

“Arcanam Judæa tremens mendicat in aurem

Interpres legum Solymarum”—

[“The trembling Jewess whispers in her ear,

And tells her of the laws of Solymse,”][3][3] Solymæ, of course, stands for Jerusalem.

the change brought with it new elements of superstition and weakness, and absolute submission of conscience to its new directors, and thus the Rabbis were often to the wealthier women of Greek and Roman cities what Jesuit confessors were in France and Italy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Here we get the darker side of the picture. The Jews stir up the women of the upper class, and they stir up their husbands. The latter were content apparently to acquiesce in their wives accepting the Judaism with which they had become familiar, but resented the intrusion of a new and, in one sense, more exacting doctrine.

Raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas.—It lies in the nature of the case that they were not the only sufferers. From the first the Christians of Antioch in Pisidia had to learn the lesson that they must “through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). The memory of these sufferings came back upon St. Paul’s mind, even in the last months of his life, as something never to be forgotten (2Timothy 3:11).

13:42-52 The Jews opposed the doctrine the apostles preached; and when they could find no objection, they blasphemed Christ and his gospel. Commonly those who begin with contradicting, end with blaspheming. But when adversaries of Christ's cause are daring, its advocates should be the bolder. And while many judge themselves unworthy of eternal life, others, who appear less likely, desire to hear more of the glad tidings of salvation. This is according to what was foretold in the Old Testament. What light, what power, what a treasure does this gospel bring with it! How excellent are its truths, its precepts, its promises! Those came to Christ whom the Father drew, and to whom the Spirit made the gospel call effectual, Ro 8:30. As many as were disposed to eternal life, as many as had concern about their eternal state, and aimed to make sure of eternal life, believed in Christ, in whom God has treasured up that life, and who is the only Way to it; and it was the grace of God that wrought it in them. It is good to see honourable women devout; the less they have to do in the world, the more they should do for their own souls, and the souls of others: but it is sad, when, under colour of devotion to God, they try to show hatred to Christ. And the more we relish the comforts and encouragements we meet with in the power of godliness, and the fuller our hearts are of them, the better prepared we are to face difficulties in the profession of godliness.But the Jews stirred up - Excited opposition.

Honourable women - See the notes on Mark 15:43. Women of influence, and connected with families of rank. Perhaps they were proselytes, and were connected with the magistrates of the city.

And raised persecution - Probably on the ground that they produced disorder. The aid of "chief men" has often been called into oppose revivals of religion, and to put a period, if possible, to the spread of the gospel.

Out of their coasts - Out of the regions of their country; out of their province.

50. the devout and honourable women—female proselytes of distinction, jaundiced against the new preachers by those Jewish ecclesiastics to whom they had learned to look up. The potent influence of the female character both for and against the truth is seen in every age of the Church's history.

expelled them—an easier thing than to refute them.

The devout; sebomenoi, as was said of the men, such as had relinquished the idolatry of their country and ancestors, and acknowledged the true God, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Honourable women; of great repute and esteem; women being accounted more earnest in what way soever they take; and to be sure Eve was first seduced, and in the transgression.

The chief men of the city; in some cities there were but five, in some ten, in others twenty, in whose hands the government of the city was ordinarily put; and these the persecutors (knowing what an influence their authority must needs have) by all means labour to seduce. But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women,.... These seem not to be Jewish women; could they be thought to be such, they might easily be concluded to be of the sect of the Pharisees, which was the strictest and most devout sect among the Jews; for there were women Pharisees, as well as men; so we read of , "a woman Pharisee" (b); but these were Gentile women, proselyted to the Jewish religion, and were in their way very religious and devout, and were also "honourable": the word used signifies, not only that they were of a comely form, of a decent habit, and of good manners, as it is by some interpreted; but that they were persons of figure and distinction, of good families; the Syriac version renders it "rich", whose husbands were the principal men of the city; wherefore the Jews applied to these women, and stirred up them to work upon their husbands, who seem to be those next mentioned:

and the chief men of the city; the magistrates and officers in it:

and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas; raised the mob, and set them upon them:

and expelled them out of their coasts; drove them out of their city and suburbs.

(b) Misn. Sota, c. 3. sect. 4.

{20} But the Jews stirred up the {u} 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.

(20) Such is the craft and subtlety of the enemies of the Gospel, that they abuse the simplicity of some who are not altogether evil men, in order to execute their cruelty.

(u) Those who embraced the Law of Moses.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 13:50. Παρώτρυναν τ. σεβ. γυν. τ. εὐσχ.] they stirred up (Pind. Ol. iii. 38; Lucian, Tox. 35) the female proselytes, of genteel rank (see Acts 17:12, and on Mark 15:43). Heinrichs interprets σεβ. otherwise: “religiosas zeloque servandorum rituum ethnicorum ferventes.” Against this may be urged the stated use of σεβ. in this narrative (Acts 13:16; Acts 13:43), as well as the greater suitableness of the thing itself, that the crafty Jews should choose as the instruments of their hatred the female proselytes, who were sufficiently zealous for the honour of their adopted religion to bring about, by influencing their Gentile husbands, the intended expulsion of the apostles.Acts 13:50. παρώτρυναν: “urged on,” R.V.; only here in N.T., not in LXX or Apocrypha; so in Pind., Lucian, and so too in Josephus, Ant., vii., 6, 1, and also in Hippocrates and Aretaeus.—ἐπήγειραν, cf. Acts 14:2; nowhere else in N.T., several times in LXX, and also frequently in Hippocrates and Galen, Hobart, pp. 225, 226. On the addition in Codex [266] see critical notes, and Ramsay, St. Paul, pp. 105, 106.—τὰς εὐσχ.: “of honourable estate,” R.V.; not of character, but of position, cf. Mark 15:43. This influence assigned to women at Antioch, and exerted by them, is quite in accordance with the manners of the country, and we find evidence of it in all periods and under most varying conditions. Thus women were appointed under the empire as magistrates, as presidents of the games, and even the Jews elected a woman as an Archisynagogos, at least in one instance, at Smyrna, Ramsay, St. Paul, p. 102; Church in the Roman Empire, p. 67; C. and H., p. 144; “Antioch,” Hastings’ B.D.; Loening, Die Gemeindeverfassung des Urchristenthums, p. 15.—τοὺς πρώτους: perhaps approaching them through their wives. On the addiction of women to the Jewish religion cf. Jos., B. J., ii., 20, 2; Strabo, vii., 2; Juvenal, vi., 542; see Blass, Felten, Plumptre, in loco, and instances in Wetstein.—ἐξέβαλον αὐτοὺς, see Acts 14:21.

[266] Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852.50. the devout and honourable women] The conjunction is omitted in the best texts. Read, “the devout women of honourable estate.” We read that in Damascus, and we may suppose that it was likely to be the case in other large towns and cities in which Jews abounded, the wives of the men in high position among the heathen were much inclined to the Jewish religion (Josephus, B.J. ii. 20. 2). These would be easily moved by the Jews to take action against the Apostles.

and the chief men of the city] As the Jews in Jerusalem had appealed to Pilate and the Roman power to carry out their wishes at the Crucifixion, so the Jews in Antioch excite their heathen magistrates against Paul and Barnabas.

out of their coasts] i.e. “from their borders.” Antioch and all Pisidia was inland. But the old English “coast” was used for any borderland, and not as now for the “sea-board.”Acts 13:50. Γυναῖκας) Through women many obstructions, or else furtherances, are often caused to the kingdom of GOD.Verse 50. - Urged on for stirred up, A.V.; the devout women of honorable estate for the devout and honorable women, A.V. and T.R.; stirred up a for raised, A.V.; cast them out of their borders for expelled them out of their coasts, A.V. Urged on (παρώτρυναν). The word only occurs here in the New Testament, and is not common elsewhere. The devout women of honorable estate: εὐσχήμων is, literally, well-formed; then decent, becoming; and then honorable, well-to-do (comb. Acts 17:4, γυναικῶν τῶν πρώτων). See Mark 15:43, where Joseph of Arimathaea is described as εὐσχήμων βουλευτής, "an honorable counselor." The devout women (αι} σεβόμεναι) were the Gentile proselytes who worshipped God, as in ver. 43. So of Lydia (Acts 16:14), and of "the devout Greeks" (Acts 17:4, 17; Acts 18:7). The chief men (τοὺς πρώτους), as in Acts 17:4 Honorable (εὐσχήμονας)

See on Mark 15:43. Women of rank, or, as Rev., of honorable estate.

Coasts (ὁρίων)

Not a good rendering, because it implies merely a sea-coast; whereas the word is a general one for boundaries.

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