Acts 14:13
Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.
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(13) The priest of Jupiter, which was before their city.—The latter clause probably describes the position of the Temple of Zeus, standing at the entrance of the city, as the shrine of its protecting deity. The identical phrase used by St. Luke is found in Greek inscriptions at Ephesus.

Brought oxen and garlands unto the gates.—The garlands were the well-known vittae, so familiar to us in ancient sculptures, commonly made of white wool, sometimes interwoven with leaves and flowers. The priests, attendants, doors, and altars were often decorated in the same way. The “gates” (the form of the Greek implying that they were the folding-doors of a large entrance) were probably those which led into the atrium, or court-yard, of the house where the Apostles were dwelling. The whole action is well represented in Raphael’s well-known cartoon. Oxen were, in Greek ritual, the right victims for both Zeus and Hermes.

Would have done sacrifice with the people.—This would have involved cutting the throats of the oxen, catching the blood in a patera, or deep dish, and pouring it upon an altar. There may have been such an altar in the atrium, or one may have been improvised for the occasion.

Acts 14:13-17. Then the priest of Jupiter — Who was esteemed the tutelar deity of that place, and whose statue stood just without the gate; brought oxen, or bulls rather, and garlands — To put on the victims; the usual offerings to Jupiter; to the gates — Of the place where Paul and Barnabas were; and would have done sacrifice to them — To acknowledge the obligation they were under to them for this condescending and beneficent visit, and to take this opportunity of imploring their continued protection in their public and private affairs. Which when the apostles heard — As they were leading on the sacrificial procession toward them; they rent their clothes — In token of that mixture of indignation and sorrow with which they beheld this strange abuse of a miracle, wrought to destroy that idolatry, which from thence they took occasion to practise; and ran in among the people, crying — With the greatest vehemence, as in a fire, or other sudden and great danger; Sirs, why do ye these things — With regard to us? We are not what you imagine us to be; but men of like passions with you — Obnoxious to the same common infirmities of human life with yourselves; and preach that ye should turn from these vanities — From worshipping any but the true God. He does not deign to call them gods; unto the living God — Not like these dead idols; who made the heaven, and the earth, and the sea — Each of which they supposed to have its own gods. Who in time past — He prevents their objecting, “But if these things were so, we should have heard them from our fathers;” steered all nations to walk in their own ways — In the idolatries which they had chosen, without instructing them by divinely-inspired teachers; which was an awful, but just judgment upon them. Observe, the multitude of them that err, does not turn error into truth. Though all nations practised idolatry, yet every kind and species of it is founded on a lie. Nevertheless — Though even then; he left not himself without witness — Of his being, perfections, and providence, in any country. Besides the witness for God within them, the dictates of conscience, they had witnesses for God around them, in the bounties of his providence. Their not having inspired teachers among them, nor the Holy Scriptures, did in part excuse them; and therefore God did not destroy them for their idolatry, as he did the Jewish nation. But that did not wholly excuse them; notwithstanding it they were deeply criminal before God: for there were other witnesses for God, sufficient to inform them that he, and he only, was to be worshipped; and that to him they owed all their services, from whom they received all their comforts, and therefore were guilty of the highest injustice and ingratitude imaginable, in alienating their services from him. In that he did good — To all his creatures, with a bountiful hand, and especially to mankind. Even by punishments God testifies of himself: but more peculiarly by benefits. And gave us — All, whether Jews or Gentiles; rain from heaven and fruitful seasons — Which could not come by chance, nor were caused by the vain idols of the heathen. Observe, reader, 1st, All the powers of nature witness to us a sovereign power in the God of nature, from whom they are derived, and on whom they depend. It is not the heaven that gives us rain, but God that gives us rain from heaven. 2d, The benefits which we have, by these powers of nature, witness to us that we ought to make our acknowledgments, not to the creatures that are made serviceable to us, but to the Creator, who makes them so. God seems to reckon the instances of his goodness to be more cogent proofs of his title to our homage and adoration, than the evidences of his greatness; for his goodness is his glory. “As a friend, in sending us frequent presents, expresses his remembrance of us and affection to us, though he neither speak nor write to us; so all the gifts of the divine bounty, which are scattered abroad on every side, are so many witnesses sent to attest the divine care and goodness, and they speak it in very sensible language to the heart, though not to the ear.” And with these sayings — Plain and reasonable as they were; scarce restrained they the people — From their purpose of sacrificing to them. So strongly were idolaters in love with their idolatrous practices!14:8-18 All things are possible to those that believe. When we have faith, that most precious gift of God, we shall be delivered from the spiritual helplessness in which we were born, and from the dominion of sinful habits since formed; we shall be made able to stand upright and walk cheerfully in the ways of the Lord. When Christ, the Son of God, appeared in the likeness of men, and did many miracles, men were so far from doing sacrifice to him, that they made him a sacrifice to their pride and malice; but Paul and Barnabas, upon their working one miracle, were treated as gods. The same power of the god of this world, which closes the carnal mind against truth, makes errors and mistakes find easy admission. We do not learn that they rent their clothes when the people spake of stoning them; but when they spake of worshipping them; they could not bear it, being more concerned for God's honour than their own. God's truth needs not the services of man's falsehood. The servants of God might easily obtain undue honours if they would wink at men's errors and vices; but they must dread and detest such respect more than any reproach. When the apostles preached to the Jews, who hated idolatry, they had only to preach the grace of God in Christ; but when they had to do with the Gentiles, they must set right their mistakes in natural religion. Compare their conduct and declaration with the false opinions of those who think the worship of a God, under any name, or in any manner, is equally acceptable to the Lord Almighty. The most powerful arguments, the most earnest and affectionate addresses, even with miracles, are scarcely enough to keep men from absurdities and abominations; much less can they, without special grace, turn the hearts of sinners to God and to holiness.Then the priest of Jupiter - He whose office it was to conduct the worship of Jupiter by offering sacrifices, etc.

Which was before their city - The word "which" here refers not to the priest, but to Jupiter. The temple or image of Jupiter was in front of their city, or near the gates. Ancient cities were supposed to be under the protection of particular gods; and their image, or a temple for their worship, was placed commonly in a conspicuous place at the entrance of the city.

Brought oxen - Probably brought two one to be sacrificed to each. It was common to sacrifice bullocks to Jupiter.

And garlands - The victims of sacrifice were usually decorated with ribbons and chaplets of flowers. See Kuinoel.

Unto the gates - The gates of the city, where were the images or temple of the gods.

Would have done sacrifice - Would have offered sacrifice to Barnabas and Paul. This the priest deemed a part of his office. And here we have a remarkable and most affecting instance of the folly and stupidity of idolatry.

13. the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city—that is, whose temple stood

before their city, brought oxen and garlands—to crown the victims and decorate, as on festive occasions, the porches.

Before their city; the temple of Jupiter, whom they took for the patron of their city, was in the suburbs.

Garlands; these were usually in the form of crowns put upon the oxen which they intended to sacrifice; and, by this sign, showed that they were dedicated to Jupiter, whom the heathen blasphemously called, The king of kings, and placed him sitting in his chair, or throne, with a crown on his head.

Unto the gates; the gates or doors of the house where the apostles lodged. Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city,.... Not that the priest was before the city, but Jupiter; and the phrase denotes either his presidency over the city, and so the Arabic version renders it, "who was the chief god of their city"; or the place where his image stood, which was out of the city, and so may be said to be before it; accordingly the Syriac version renders it, "who was without the city"; he who officiated as priest to him:

brought oxen and garlands unto the gates; either "of the city", as the Arabic and Ethiopic versions add, where was the statue of Jupiter; or else, and which is most likely, he brought them to the gates of the house, where Paul and Barnabas were; and to this sense the Syriac version renders it, "to the door of the dwelling place where they abode": what the oxen were brought for is easy to conceive, had it not been expressed; but for what should garlands or crowns be brought? These were used in sacrifices, for different purposes; sometimes they crowned the gods (t), to whom they sacrificed, and these might be brought to be put upon the heads of Paul and Barnabas; and sometimes the priests wore them (u), and which seems to be in imitation of the mitre, wore by the high priest among the Jews; and sometimes even those who came to sacrifice, and implore the assistance of their deities, wore them (w); likewise the altars on which they offered sacrifice were crowned with these garlands (x); and the sacrifices themselves, and which last seems to be the case here: the garlands were brought to be put upon the oxen; and these were for the most part made of cypress; sometimes of the pine tree, and sometimes of other leaves and flowers, such as were peculiar to the gods (y): and there was something like this among the Jews, at the offerings of their first fruits, which were done in this manner (z);

"they that were nearest (to Jerusalem) brought green figs and grapes; and they that were more remote brought dried figs and raisins; and an ox went before them, whose horns were covered with gold, , "and a crown of olives" on his head; a pipe sounded before them, till they came near to Jerusalem, and then they sent some before them, who "crowned" their first fruits.''

And would have done sacrifice with the people; that is, the priest and the people with him, would have offered sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas, as to two deities; and the Syriac and Ethiopic versions add, "to them"; to both the apostles, with which agrees the Arabic version.

(t) Baruch vi. 9. Justin. Apolog. 2. p. 57. Tertull. de Corona, c. 10. Alex. ab. Alex. Gen. dier. l. 4. c. 17. (u) Tertull. de Idolatria, c. 18. Alex. ab. Alex. ib. Paschalius de Coronis. l. 4. c. 13. (w) Paschal. ib. (x) Ovid de Tristibus, l. 3. eleg. 13. (y) Paschal. ib. c. 16. (z) Misn. Biccurim, c. 3. sect. 3.

Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.
Acts 14:13. But the priest (then officiating) of the Zeus, who is before the city, i.e. of the Zeus (πολιεύς), who had his seat in a temple in front of the city. ἱεροῦ is not to be supplied, with Kuinoel and others (see Bernhardy, p. 184 f.), as τοῦ Διός is the genitive directly belonging to ἱερεύς; but the expression τοῦ ὄντος πρὸ τῆς πόλ. is explained from the heathen conception that the god himself is present in his temple, consequently is (ὄντος) at the place where his temple stands: hence the classical expressions παρʼ Διΐ (ad fanum Jovis), παρ ̓ Ἥρῃ (Jacobs, ad Del. epigr. p. 229). Wolf thinks that it is spoken “de Jove, cujus simulacrum (and so not templum) ante urbem erectum erat.” But mere statues had no special priests. See Valckenaer, Opusc. II. p. 295, and Schol. I. p. 509. It does not, however, follow from this passage, that there was also a temple of Jupiter in the city (Olshausen).

ταύρους καὶ στέμματα] bulls and garlands. “Taurus tibi, summe Deorum,” Ovid. Metam. iv. 755. Beza, Calovius, Raphel, Erasmus Schmid, Palairet, Morus, Heinrichs, and others, have quite erroneously assumed a hendiadys for ταύρους ἐστεμμένους. This would come back to the absurd idea: bulls and, indeed, garlands. See Fritzsche, ad Matth. p. 856. Winer, p. 585 [E. T. 786]. The destination of the garlands is, moreover, not to be referred to the deified apostles (in opposition to Grotius and Valckenaer), who (like statues, comp. ep. Jerem. 9) were to have been adorned; but to the animals that were to be adorned therewith at the commencement of the sacrifice (see Wetstein and Dougtaeus, Anal. p. 80 ff.; Hermann, gottesd. Alterth. § 24. 7), because the design of the garlands is included in the ἤθελε θύειν.

ἐπὶ τοὺς πυλῶνας] to the gates (doors of the gate), namely, of the city. This reference is required by the correlation in which ἐπὶ τοὺς πυλῶνας stands to τοῦ ὄντος πρὸ τῆς πόλεως. The alleged incarnate gods were in the city, and therefore the sacrifice was to be brought at the gates of the city. The reference to the doors of the temple (οἱ μὲν ἱεροὶ τοῦ νεὼ πυλῶνες, Plut. Tim. 12), or of the house where the apostles lodged, is not in keeping with the context.Acts 14:13. ὁ δὲ ἱερεὺς. Plural in ; strongly rejected by Blass, with other details. Ramsay defends (p. 118), and points out that at each of the great temples in Asia Minor a college of priests would be in regular service: see also Church in the Roman Empire, pp. 52, 53.—τοῦ Διὸς τοῦ ὄντος πρὸ τῆς π. αὐτῶν, see critical notes. R.V., omitting αὐτῶν, renders “whose temple was before the city,” i.e., enshrined in the temple outside the gate as the protecting deity. Zöckler, with Ramsay, compares “Ζωῦς Προάστιος” on an inscription at Claudiopolis, cf. also παρὰ Διΐ (= ad fanum Jovis), παρʼ Ἥρῃ, and modern, the name of a church in Rome, “S. Paolo fuori le mura” (see also Holtzmann and Wendt). Here again the reading of [267] seems to bring out the technical force of the phrase more accurately, τοῦ ὄντος Δ. πρὸ πόλεως (so Blass in [268])—possibly = Προπόλεως (cf. an unpublished inscription of Smyrna with the phrase ἱέρεια πρὸ πόλεως or Προπόλεως). In this phrase, as read in , the force of the participle is retained in a way characteristic of Acts, as almost = τοῦ ὀνομαζομένου: see on Acts 13:1, a characteristic lost by the transposition of ὄντος; see on the whole question Ramsay, Church in the Roman Empire, p. 51 ff., and also on the possible site of the temple. The words cannot refer to the statue of Jupiter (so lately Rendall), to which no priests would be attached. See Blass in Studien u. Kritiken, 1900, p. 27, n. 1.—ταύρους καὶ στέμματα: brought by the ministri who would be included in the generic term priests. On the sacrifice of a bull to Jupiter, Ovid, Met., iv., 755, as also to Mercury, Persius, Sat., ii., 44. On the garlands to wreathe and adorn the victims, Æneid, v., 366; Eur., Heracl., 529, perhaps also for the priests and the altars, the doors, and the attendants; see instances in Wetstein, and cf. Tertullian, De Corona, x. The words do not refer to the Apostles; the aim seems to be indicated in ἤθελε θύειν.—ἐπὶ τοὺς πυλῶνας: some see a reference to the gates of the city, mainly because of the collocation τοῦ ὄντος πρὸ τῆς Π. Blass supposes that the priest came from the temple outside to the city gates, but in that case Ramsay urges that Lucan usage would = πύλη rather than πυλών, cf. Acts 9:24, Acts 16:13. Others take it of the gates of the temple in front of which the altar stood, cf. οἱ μὲν ἱεροὶ τοῦ νεὼ πυλῶνες, Plut., Tim., 12. Ramsay suggests that the priests probably prepared their sacrifices at the outer gateway of the temple grounds, as something beyond the usual ritual, and so not to be performed at one of the usual places, cf. ἐπιθύειν ; St. Paul, p. 119. Others again refer the words to the gates leading into the atrium or courtyard of the house in which the Apostles were lodging, partly on the ground that the word ἐξεπήδησαν is best referred to the house (cf. Jdt 14:17, and Susannah, Acts ver. 39). But the verb may mean that they ran hastily out of the city to the temple, and there mingled with the crowd: in 2Ma 3:18 the same verb is used of a general rush of the people to the temple for supplication to heaven.—ἤθελε θύειν: What was his motive? Was he acting in good faith, or out of complaisant regard to the wishes of the multitude (Ewald), or for the sake of gain? On the attitude of the native priests see Ramsay, Church in the Roman Empire, p. 144. In the present instance it would appear that they had known of the Apostles’ preaching for some time at all events, and also, it may be, of its success, cf. ., Acts 14:7, critical notes, and apparently they were willing to honour the Apostles with divine honours, and to turn the religious revival to their own ends.

[267] Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852.

[268] R(omana), in Blass, a first rough copy of St. Luke.13. the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city] i.e. “whose temple was before their city.” He was their tutelar divinity, and it was to his priest that the people ran with their cry, and brought him, with all the preparations for a sacrifice, to the gate of the house where the Apostles were lodged.

brought oxen and garlands] The latter were sometimes put on the heads of the victims, and sometimes used by the worshippers for their own decorations at religious rites. Probably in this case they were meant to make gay some temporary altar.

unto the gates] The word here used in the original is the same which is used for the porch or vestibule of the house of Mary the mother of John Mark (Mark 12:14), and that is its sense here. The Apostles were within the house, and as it was meet to offer the victims to the supposed gods in their presence rather than on the altar at Jupiter’s temple, it was to the house of their host that the procession came.Acts 14:13. Τοῦ ὄντος πρὸ, which was before) Therefore they had an idol and shrine outside the gate.—ταύρους, bulls) A bull especially used to he immolated to Jupiter.—στέμματα, garlands) to be placed upon the bulls. They were in haste.—θύειν, to sacrifice) to perform divine worship.Verse 13. - And for then, A.V.; whose temple was before the city for which was before their city, A.V. and T.R.; the multitudes for the people, A.V., as in ver. 12. The priest of Jupiter. The words, ὁ δὲ ἱερεὺς τοῦ Διὸς τοῦ ὄντες κ.τ.λ., may be construed in two ways - either as in the A.V., or the priest of the temple of Jupiter, etc., understanding, by a common ellipse, ἱεροῦ, or, ναοῦ, after Διός, as in the Latin phrase," Ubi ad Dianae veneris;" "When you come to the temple of Diana," etc. But it is not a Greek phrase to speak of Jupiter being before the city, meaning the temple of Jupiter. Therefore the proper way of translating is to take the full phrase as being ὁ ἱερεὺς τοῦ Διός ναοῦ or ἰεροῦ, the article τοῦ belonging to ναοῦ, and Διός being, as in so many instances, without the article (see Matthew, 'Gr. Gr.,' 281). The gates; viz. of the city. The temple was just outside the gates; the lame man, it is likely, sat inside near the gates through which men were passing in and out. Paul and Barnabas would address the -people in the square or open space inside the gates. Seeing a stir at the gates, and hearing that it was the priest of Jupiter coming with oxen and garlands to sacrifice to them, they immediately ran forward to prevent it. The ox was the proper sacrifice for Jupiter. Of Jupiter (τοῦ Διὸς)

Properly, the Jupiter, the tutelary deity of Lystra. It is unnecessary to supply temple, as Rev. The god himself was regarded as present in his temple.

The gates (πυλῶνας)

What gates are intended is uncertain. Some say, the city gates; others, the temple gates; and others, the doors of the house in which Paul and Barnabas were residing. See on Acts 12:13.

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