And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.
EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(52) And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Ghost.
—The tense is again that which expresses the continuance of the state. The “joy” expresses what is almost the normal sequence of conversion in the history of the Acts. (See Notes on Acts 8:8
; Acts 8:39
.) The addition of “the Holy Ghost” may imply special gifts like those of tongues and prophecy, but certainly involves a new intensity of spiritual life, of which joy was the natural outcome. As being conspicuous among the Gentile converts, we trace the impression which it then made, in words which St. Paul wrote long years afterwards, “The kingdom of
God is not meat and drink, but righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost”
JEWISH REJECTERS AND GENTILE RECEIVERS
‘FULL OF THE HOLY GHOST’
That joy was as strange as a garden full of flowers would be in bitter winter weather. For everything in the circumstances of these disciples tended to make them sad. They had been but just won from heathenism, and they were raw, ignorant, unfit to stand alone. Paul and Barnabas, their only guides, had been hunted out of Antioch by a mob, and it would have been no wonder if these disciples had felt as if they had been taken on to the ice and then left, when they most needed a hand to steady them. Luke emphasises the contrast between what might have been expected, and what was actually the case, by that eloquent ‘and’ at the beginning of our verse, which links together the departure of the Apostles and the joy of the disciples. But the next words explain the paradox. These new converts, left in a great heathen city, with no helpers, no guides, to work out as best they might a faith of which they had but newly received the barest rudiments, were ‘full of joy’ because they were ‘full of the Holy Ghost.’
Now that latter phrase, so striking here, is characteristic of this book of the Acts, and especially of its earlier chapters, which are all, as it were, throbbing with wonder at the new gift which Pentecost had brought. Let me for a moment, in the briefest possible fashion, try to recall to you the instances of its occurrence, for they are very significant and very important.
You remember how at Pentecost ‘all’ the disciples were ‘filled with the Holy Ghost.’ Then when the first persecution broke over the Church, Peter before the Council is ‘filled with the Holy Spirit,’ and therefore he beards them, and ‘speaks with all boldness.’ When he goes back to the Church and tells them of the threatening cloud that was hanging over them, they too are filled with the Holy Spirit, and therefore rise buoyantly upon the tossing wave, as a ship might do when it passes the bar and meets the heaving sea. Then again the Apostles lay down the qualifications for election to the so-called office of deacon as being that the men should be ‘full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom’; and in accordance therewith, we read of the first of the seven, Stephen, that he was ‘full of faith and of the Holy Ghost,’ and therefore ‘full of grace and power.’ When he stood before the Council he was ‘full of the Holy Ghost,’ and therefore looked up into heaven and saw it opened, and the Christ standing ready to help him. In like manner we read of Barnabas that he ‘was a good man, full of the Holy Ghost and of faith.’ And finally we read in our text that these new converts, left alone in Antioch of Pisidia, were ‘full of joy and of the Holy Ghost.’
Now these are the principal instances, and my purpose now is rather to deal with the whole of these instances of the occurrence of this remarkable expression than with the one which I have selected as a text, because I think that they teach us great truths bearing very closely on the strength and joyfulness of the Christian life which are far too much neglected, obscured, and forgotten by us to-day.
I wish then to point you, first, to the solemn thought that is here, as to what should be-
I. The experience of every Christian,
Note the two things, the universality and the abundance of this divine gift. I have often had occasion to say to you, and so I merely repeat it again in the briefest fashion, that we do not grasp the central blessedness of the Christian faith unless, beyond forgiveness and acceptance, beyond the mere putting away of the dread of punishment either here or hereafter, we see that the gift of God in Jesus Christ is the communication to every believing soul of that divine life which is bestowed by the Spirit of Christ granted to every believing heart. But I would have you notice how the universality of the gift is unmistakably taught us by the instances which I have briefly gathered together in my previous remarks. It was no official class on which, on the day of Pentecost, the tongues of fire fluttered down. It was to the whole Church that courage to front the persecutor was imparted. When in Samaria the preaching of Philip brought about the result of the communication of the Holy Spirit, it was to all the believers that it was granted, and when, in the Roman barracks at Caesarea, Cornelius and his companion listened to Peter, it was upon them all that that Divine Spirit descended.
I suppose I need not remind you of how, if we pass beyond this book of the Acts into the Epistles of Paul, his affirmations do most emphatically insist upon the fact that ‘we are all made to drink into one Spirit’; and so convinced is he of the universality of the possession of that divine life by every Christian, that he does not hesitate to say that ‘if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His,’ and to clear away all possibility of misunderstanding the depth and wonderfulness of the gift, he further adds in another place, ‘Know ye not that the Spirit is in you, except ye be reprobates?’ Similarly another of the New Testament writers declares, in the broadest terms, that ‘this spake he of the Holy Spirit, which’-Apostles? no; office-bearers? no; ordained men? no; distinguished and leading men? No-’they that believe on Him should receive.’ Christianity is the true democracy, because it declares that upon all, handmaidens and servants, young men and old men, there comes the divine gift. The world thinks of a divine inspiration in a more or less superficial fashion, as touching only the lofty summits, the great thinkers and teachers and artists and mighty men of light and leading of the race. The Old Testament regarded prophets and kings, and those who were designated to important offices, as the possessors of the Divine Spirit. But Christianity has seen the sun rising so high in the heavens that the humblest floweret, in the deepest valley, basks in its beams and opens to its light. ‘We have all been made to drink into the one Spirit.’
Let me remind you too of how, from the usage of this book, as well as from the rest of the New Testament teaching, there rises the other thought of the abundance of the gift. ‘Full of the Holy Spirit’-the cup is brimming with generous wine. Not that that fulness is such as to make inconsistencies impossible, as, alas, the best of us know. The highest condition for us is laid down in the sad words which yet have triumph in their sadness-’The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.’ But whilst the fulness is not such as to exclude the need of conflict, it is such as to bring the certainty of victory.
Again if we turn to the instances to which I have already referred, we shall find that they fall into two classes, which are distinguished in the original by a slight variation in the form of the words employed. Some instances refer to a habitual possession of an abundant spiritual life moulding the character constantly, as in the cases of Stephen and Barnabas. Others refer rather to occasional and special influxes of special power on account of special circumstances, and drawn forth by special exigencies, as when there poured into Peter’s heart the Divine Spirit that made him bold before the Council; or as when the dying martyr’s spirit was flooded with a new clearness of vision that pierced the heavens and beheld the Christ. So then there may be and ought to be, in each of us, a fulness of the Spirit, up to the edge of our capacity, and yet of such a kind as that it may be reinforced and increased when special needs arise.
Not only so, but that which fills me to-day should not fill me to-morrow, because, as in earthly love, so in heavenly, no man can tell to what this thing shall grow. The more of fruition the more there will be of expansion, and the more of expansion the more of desire, and the more of desire the more of capacity, and the more of capacity the more of possession. So, brethren, the man who receives a spark of the divine life, through his most rudimentary and tremulous faith, if he is a faithful steward of the gift that is given to him, will find that it grows and grows, and that there is no limit to its growth, and that in its limitless growth there lies the surest prophecy of an eternal growth in the heavens.
A universal gift, that is to say, a gift to each of us if we are Christians, an abundant gift that fills the whole nature of a man, according to the measure of his present power to receive-that is the ideal, that is what God means, that is what these first believers had. It did not make them perfect, it did not save them from faults or from errors, but it was real, it was influential, it was moulding their characters, it was progressive. And that is the ideal for all Christians. Is it our actual? We are meant to be full of the Holy Ghost. Ah! how many of us have never realised that there is such a thing as being thus possessed with a divine life, partly because we do not understand that such a fulness will not be distinguishable from our own self, except by bettering of the works of self, and partly because of other reasons which I shall have to touch upon presently! Brethren, we may, every one of us, be filled with the Spirit. Let each of us ask, ‘Am I? and if I am not, why this emptiness in the presence of such abundance?’
And now let me ask you to look, in the second place, at what we gather from these instances as to-
II. The results of that universal, abundant life.
Do not let us run away with the idea that the New Testament, or any part of it, regards miracles and tongues and the like as being the normal and chiefest gifts of that Divine Spirit. People read this book of the Acts of the Apostles and, averse from the supernatural, exaggerate the extent to which the primitive gift of the Holy Spirit was manifested by signs and wonders, tongues of fire, and so on. We have only to look at the instances to which I have already referred to see that far more lofty and far more conspicuous than any such external and transient manifestations, which yet have their place, are the permanent and inward results, moulding character, and making men. And Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians goes as far in the way of setting the moral and spiritual effects of the divine influence above the merely miraculous and external ones, as the most advanced opponent of the supernatural could desire.
Let us look, and it can only be briefly, at the various results which are presented in the instances to which I have referred. The most general expression for all, which is the result of the Divine Spirit dwelling in a man, is that it makes him good. Look at one of the instances to which we have referred. ‘Barnabas was a good man’-was he? How came he to be so? Because he was ‘full of the Holy Ghost.’ And how came he to be ‘full of the Holy Ghost’? Because he was ‘full of faith.’ Get the divine life into you, and that will make you good; and, brethren, nothing else will. It is like the bottom heat in a green-house, which makes all the plants that are there, whatever their orders, grow and blossom and be healthy and strong. Therein is the difference between Christian morality and the world’s ethics. They may not differ much, they do in some respects, in their ideal of what constitutes goodness, but they differ in this, that the one says, ‘Be good, be good, be good!’ but, like the Pharisees of old, puts out not a finger to help a man to bear the burdens that it lays upon him. The other says, ‘Be good,’ but it also says, ‘take this and it will make you good.’ And so the one is Gospel and the other is talk, the one is a word of good tidings, and the other is a beautiful speculation, or a crushing commandment that brings death rather than life. ‘If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness had been by the law.’ But since the clearest laying down of duty brings us no nearer to the performance of duty, we need and, thank God! we have, a gift bestowed which invests with power. He in whom the ‘Spirit of Holiness’ dwells, and he alone, will be holy. The result of the life of God in the heart is a life growingly like God’s, manifested in the world.
Then again let me remind you of how, from another of our instances, there comes another thought. The result of this majestic, supernatural, universal, abundant, divine life is practical sagacity in the commonest affairs of life. ‘Look ye out from among you seven men, full of the Holy Ghost and of wisdom.’ What to do? To meet wisely the claims of suspicious and jealous poverty, and to distribute fairly a little money. That was all. And are you going to invoke such a lofty gift as this, to do nothing grander than that? Yes. Gravitation holds planets in their orbits, and keeps grains of dust in their places. And one result of the inspiration of the Almighty, which is granted to Christian people, is that they will be wise for the little affairs of life. But Stephen was also ‘full of grace and power,’ two things that do not often go together-grace, gentleness, loveliness, graciousness, on the one side, and strength on the other, which divorced, make wild work of character, and which united, make men like God. So if we desire our lives to be full of sweetness and light and beauty, the best way is to get the life of Christ into them; and if we desire our lives not to be made placid and effeminate by our cult of graciousness and gracefulness, but to have their beauty stiffened and strengthened by manly energy, then the best way is to get the life of the ‘strong Son of God, immortal love,’ into our lives.
The same Stephen, ‘full of the Holy Ghost,’ looked up into heaven and saw the Christ. So one result of that abundant life, if we have it, will be that even though as with him, when he saw the heavens opened, there may be some smoke-darkened roof above our heads, we can look through all the shows of this vain world, and our purged eyes can behold the Christ. Again the disciples in our text ‘were full of joy,’ because ‘they were full of the Holy Spirit,’ and we, if we have that abundant life within us, shall not be dependent for our gladness on the outer world, but like explorers in the Arctic regions, even if we have to build a hut of snow, shall be warm within it when the thermometer is far below zero; and there will be light there when the long midnight is spread around the dwelling. So, dear friends, let us understand what is the main thing for a Christian to endeavour after,-not so much the cultivation of special graces as the deepening of the life of Christ in the spirit.
We gather from some of these instances-
III. The way by which we may be thus filled.
We read that Stephen was ‘full of faith and of the Holy Spirit,’ and that Barnabas was ‘full of the Holy Ghost and of faith,’ and it is quite clear from the respective contexts that, though the order in which these fulnesses are placed is different in the two clauses, their relation to each other is the same. Faith is the condition of possessing the Spirit. And what do we mean in this connection by faith? I mean, first, a belief in the truth of the possible abiding of the divine Spirit in our spirits, a truth which the superficial Christianity of this generation sorely needs to have forced upon its consciousness far more than it has it. I mean aspiration and desire after; I mean confident expectation of. Your wish measures your possession. You have as much of God as you desire. If you have no more, it is because you do not desire any more. The Christian people of to-day, many of whom are so empty of God, are in a very tragic sense, ‘full,’ because they have as much as they can take in. If you bring a tiny cup, and do not much care whether anything pours into it or not, you will get it filled, but you might have had a gallon vessel filled if you had chosen to bring it. Of course there are other conditions too. We have to use the life that is given us. We have to see that we do not quench it by sin, which drives the dove of God from a man’s heart. But the great truth is that if I open the door of my heart by faith, Christ will come in, in His Spirit. If I take away the blinds the light will shine into the chamber. If I lift the sluice the water will pour in to drive my mill. If I deepen the channels, more of the water of life can flow into them, and the deeper I make them the fuller they will be.
Brethren, we have wasted much time and effort in trying to mend our characters. Let us try to get that into them which will mend them. And let us remember that, if we are full of faith, we shall be full of the Holy Spirit, and therefore full of wisdom, full of grace and power, full of goodness, full of joy, whatever our circumstances. And when death comes, though it may be in some cruel form, we shall be able to look up and see the opened heavens and the welcoming Christ.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.And the disciples - The disciples in Antioch.
Were filled with joy - This happened even in the midst of persecution, and is one of the many evidences that the gospel is able to fill the soul with joy even in the severest trials. 52. the disciples—who, though not themselves expelled, had to endure sufferings for the Gospel, as we learn from Ac 14:22.
were filled with joy and with the Holy Ghost—who not only raised them above shame and fear, as professed disciples of the Lord Jesus, but filled them with holy and elevated emotions. The disciples; either Paul and Barnabas in a more especial manner, or, also such as at Perga had believed the gospel, and came with them to Antioch,
were filled with joy, so as no place was left for meaner contentments:
1. By reason of the pardon of their sins.
2. The promise made to them of everlasting life.
3. The gifts of the Holy Ghost which they had, at that time, as an earnest and pledge to assure the other unto them. And the disciples were filled with joy,.... Meaning either the "apostles", as the Ethiopic version renders it, Paul and Barnabas; who rejoiced, both at the success they had met with, and because they were counted worthy to suffer reproach and persecution for the sake of Christ and his Gospel: or rather the disciples at Antioch, and other parts of Pisidia, the new converts; who were filled with joy at the Gospel being preached unto them, and at the constancy and courage of the apostles in suffering for it:
and with the Holy Ghost; which, with the former, designs the same thing as spiritual joy, or joy in the Holy Ghost; or else the gifts and graces of the Spirit, which they had both for their own comfort, and the advantage of others. And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Acts 13:52
. What a simple and significant contrast of the effect produced by the gospel, in spite of the expulsion of its preachers, in the minds of those newly converted! They were filled with joy
(in the consciousness of their Christian happiness), and with the Holy Spirit! Πάθος γὰρ διδασκάλου παῤῥησίαν οὐκ ἐγκόπτει
, ἀλλὰ προθυμότερον ποιεῖ τὸν μαθητήν
, as Chrysostom here says.Acts 13:52
, cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:6
, Romans 14:17
, 2 Timothy 1:4
. the disciples were filled with joy
] Rejoicing in accordance with the Lord’s exhortation (Matthew 5:12
) when men reviled and persecuted them, which was the very treatment which they had received in Antioch.
ON THE JEWISH MANNER OF READING THE SCRIPTURES
The Jewish division of the Scriptures is (1) the Law, i.e. the five Books of Moses. (2) The Prophets, under which title the Jews include Joshua, Judges , 1 and 2 Samuel , 1 and 2 Kings, as well as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the twelve minor prophets. (3) The Hagiographa, containing Psalms, Proverbs, Job, the Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and the two Books of Chronicles. The command which enjoins the reading of the Pentateuch is found Deuteronomy 31:10
, “At the end of every seven years in the solemnity of the year of release in the Feast of Tabernacles, when all Israel is come to appear before the Lord thy God in the place which He shall choose, thou shalt read this Law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men and women and children and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear.”
This appointment which prescribes the reading of the whole
Pentateuch on the Feast of Tabernacles was probably soon found to be impracticable, and it is not unlikely that from a very early time the people arranged to read through the Pentateuch in seven years by taking a small portion on every Sabbath, beginning with the Sabbath after the Feast of Tabernacles in one year of release, and ending with the Feast of Tabernacles in the next year of release. Thus would they in some sort be fulfilling the commandment. That such an early subdivision of the Pentateuch into small portions took place seems likely from what we know of the later arrangements for the reading of the Law. The existence of such a plan for reading would account for some
of the divisions which exist (otherwise unexplained) in various copies of the Jewish Law.
For (1) we learn (T. B. Megillah
29 b) that the Jews of Palestine broke up the Pentateuch into sections for each Sabbath in such a manner as to spread the reading thereof over three years (and a half?). They arranged no doubt that the concluding portions of their second reading should be on the Feast of Tabernacles in the year of release; and they began again on the following Sabbath. In this way they read through the whole Law twice in the seven years, and by concluding it on the Feast of Tabernacles in the year of release observed the commandment, and hereby may be accounted for some other of the unused subdivisions of the copies of the Jewish Law.
 This arrangement is still observed partially in the Jewish “Temple” at Hamburg, founded in 1818, and there is at this moment (see Jewish Chronicle
, Feb. 7, 1879) a movement on foot for introducing a similar arrangement in the West London Synagogue of British Jews.
. The Babylonian Jews in the 4th century after Christ, and probably much earlier, and all Jews down to this day, have the Pentateuch so divided that it is read through once
every year, such reading beginning on the Sabbath after the Feast of Tabernacles, and concluding on the so-called last day of that Feast in the next year, the day really being the day of “rejoicing in the Law” (simkhath Torah
). Thus they bring their reading to an end in each year, and so of course in the release-year, on the day appointed, and observe the command in this manner.
This comparatively modern, though almost universally prevailing arrangement, accounts for the present larger divisions of the Law for reading, and these divisions have each of them its proper name. For the whole Pentateuch has 54 weekly portions, one for each Sabbath. No year however contains 54 Sabbaths, and beside this, some festivals (or rather, holy convocations) may fall on the Sabbath, and when that happens the Scripture appointed for the festival is read, and not the appointed weekly portion in its sequence. In order that the whole Law may still be read through on the Sabbaths, it is provided that occasionally two weekly sections are combined and read on one Sabbath.
 Of course there will be less need for this arrangement in an intercalated year, which will have four sabbaths extra.
These weekly sections of the Pentateuch (Parshioth
) are each divided into seven portions, and seven readers are called up from the congregation. These are to be (1) an Aaronite (and if such be in the congregation he may not be passed over), (2) a Levite, (3) five ordinary Israelites. These must all be males and at least 13 years and one day old. Practically, in Europe at least, though these are still called up in the congregations, they do not themselves read, but a reader is appointed to read to them. There are congregations in which as a mark of honour more than seven are called up, but this is discountenanced by some Rabbis as likely to lead to abuses.
When the reading of the Law in this manner is concluded the seventh section or part thereof is repeated, and any person may be asked to do this. Such reader is called Maphtir
, i.e. the Haphtarist (the person whose reading terminates the reading of the Law). With this is connected the subsequent reading of the selected portions of the Prophets.
In olden times the Haphtarist was also the person invited to be the preacher, and this must have been the position occupied by St Paul at Antioch, and by Jesus in the synagogue at Nazareth.
The sections of the prophets selected for Sabbath reading and called Haphtaroth
have always some bearing upon the appointed portion of the Law for that Sabbath, e. g. with the first section of Genesis (Genesis 1:1
to Genesis 6:8
), which contains the account of the Creation, there is appointed as the prophetical reading the passage (Isaiah 42:5-21
) which begins “Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens,” &c. With the next section of the Law, which contains the history of Noah (Genesis 6:8
to Genesis 11:32
), the prophetical reading is Isaiah 54:1-10
, in which passage is found “This is as the waters of Noah unto me.” The next section of the Law (Genesis 12:1
to Genesis 17:27
) contains the history of Abraham, and the reading from the Prophets begins with Isaiah 40:27
to Isaiah 41:16
, and in the passage there occurs “Who raised up the righteous man from the East, called him to his foot,” &c., and a like arrangement is observed throughout the year.
On the Sabbath afternoons the Jews in their synagogues read, to three people, the first seventh of the portion of the Law which is set apart for the following Sabbath, and do so again on Monday and Thursday mornings. So that during the week this part is read four times over.
No prophetic portions are read along with this, but (T. B. Shabbath
116 b) in the old times, as early as the commencement of the 3rd century, we find that on the Sabbath afternoons portions of the Hagiographa were read along with this smaller section of the Law, and we cannot doubt that the same principle would be observed in their selection, and that passages similar in character to the selections from the Pentateuch would be chosen in these cases also, though we have no indication what they were.
 Thus would be accounted for many still unexplained divisions in the Hagiographa.
Festivals and Fasts had their own portions of the Pentateuch appointed, and therewith corresponding portions of the Prophets.
On quasi-festival Sabbaths the ordinary portions of the Law were read, but beside this occasionally other additional portions of the Law were chosen for the Haphtarist to read with reference to the festival, and instead of the usual prophetical section appointed for these days, such passages from the Prophets were chosen as bore on the nature of the quasifestival.
These quasi-festivals are
(1) Should the Sabbath be (a
) the day before the New Moon, or (b
) the day coincident with the New Moon.
Partaking of the character of a quasi-festival there is also the so-called “great Sabbath,” which is the Sabbath that precedes the Passover. On this day the portion of the Law to be read is neither varied nor increased, but as in (1) the appointed Haphtarah is changed for one of a suitable character. The same sort of change of the Haphtarah, but not of the portion of the Law to be read, takes place for the Sabbath between New Year and the Day of Atonement (1–10 of the month Tishri).
 It may be mentioned that the name “great Sabbath” is by the Italian Jews applied also to the Sabbath preceding Pentecost.
(2) The Maccabæan festival of the Dedication, which as it lasted for 8 days might include two Sabbaths.
(3) Four semi-festivals which are in one string.
. The Sabbath preceding the New Moon of Adar, or coincident with that New Moon. This is called Shekalim
(= the shekels), and the special portion of the Law then additionally read is Exodus 30:11-16
. The Sabbath before Purim (the Haman-festival) called Zacor
= remember, for which the special additional portion of the Law is Deuteronomy 25:17-19
. The Red Heifer Sabbath. This is a moveable semi-festival, but must fall between (b
) and (d
). It is a preparation of Purification for Passover, and its special additional portion of the Law is Numbers 19.
= the month. The Sabbath preceding or coincident with the New Moon of Nisan, for which the special portion of the Law is Exodus 12:1-20
(4) To the above six must be added two Sabbaths if they fall in the middle holidays of the Feasts of Passover and Tabernacles, for such Sabbaths are even of a higher dignity than the other quasi-festivals.
(5) The three Sabbaths before the commemoration of the destruction of the city and Temple (1) by Titus, even as before, (2) by Nebuchadnezzar. On these Sabbaths the portion of the Pentateuch appointed for the day is retained, but prophetic portions are selected which suit the circumstances. These are known as the three “Sabbaths [commemorative] of Punishment and Troubles.”
(6) Besides these there are seven Sabbaths called “Sabbaths of Consolation,” for which, in the same way, special prophetic passages are read, which must all be chosen from the latter part of Isaiah (chap. 40 and after), and in the last of them probably occurred the passage (Isaiah 61:1
), read by Jesus at Nazareth. For although at present the Haphtarah from that chapter is marked to begin at Acts 13:10
there are indications in some MSS. that the selected portion formerly began at an earlier point, and this for coherence could hardly be elsewhere than at Acts 13:1
. It seems probable that in post-Christian times the verses read by our Lord have designedly been cut off from the special prophetic passage. For although any charge against the Jews of altering the words
of Scripture on account of Christianity must be dismissed as utterly unfounded, it is on the other hand beyond question that they abolished the most ancient and hallowed custom of reading the ten words
during the morning prayers daily, “because of the murmuring of the heretics” (minin
), and by this word (minin
) the Jews meant the earliest Judæo-Christians (T. B. Berakhoth
12 a), who, after Christ’s example in the Sermon on the Mount, laid great stress on the ten commandments of the Moral Law to the depreciation of ceremonial regulations.
 That there is no anachronism, in supposing that these “Sabbaths of Consolation” were observed in our Lord’s time, may be inferred from the strict way in which Jewish traditions always identify, in everything but time, the destruction of the two Temples by Nebuchadnezzar and by Titus, and the observances in connection therewith. And we take it as a further proof of the antiquity of this observance that though there are slight variations in the ordinary Haphtaroth in the various Jewish rituals, those for the “Sabbaths of Consolation” are the same in all.
 See a South Arabian (Yemen
) Codex, Brit. Museum, MSS. Oriental
, 1470.Acts 13:52
) when they saw Paul and Barnabas, concerning whom Acts 13:51
treats, full of joy and the Holy Ghost: for these two are not here called disciples
. See note on Matthew 10:1
. [After the advent of the Paraclete, the apostles are never called disciples: that term is thenceforth applied to the learners with, or from, the apostles: after ch. Acts 21:16
, the term does not occur in the New Testament, but brethren, Christians, believers, saints
- And the disciples
, etc. Nothing can be more beautiful than this description. In spite of the persecution, in spite of the danger, in spite of the banishment of their teachers, the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Ghost (see 1 Thessalonians 1:6
; Hebrews 10:34
). With regard to this important incident at Antioch, Renan observes on its powerful influence in turning St. Paul's mind more decisively to the conversion of the Gentiles as the great object of his apostleship. He adds, "The character of that great soul was to have a boundless power of expansion. I know none to be compared with it in respect of its inexhaustible freshness, its unlimited resources of will, and readiness to make the most of every opportunity, except that of Alexander the Great?
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