And there they stayed long time with the disciples.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)There they abode long time.—The words probably cover an interval of more than a year, during which it is reasonable to suppose that the preaching of the two Apostles drew together a large number of Gentile converts.
Long time - How long is not intimated; but we hear no more of them until the council at Jerusalem, mentioned in the next chapter. If the transactions recorded in this chapter occurred, as is supposed, about 45 a.d. or 46 a.d., and the council at Jerusalem assembled 51 a.d. or 53 a.d., as is supposed, then here is an interval of from five to eight years in which we have no account of them. Where they were, or what was their employment in this interval, the sacred historian has not informed us. It is certain, however, that Paul made several journeys of which we have no particular record in the New Testament, and it is possible that some of those journeys occurred during this interval. Thus, he preached the gospel as far as Illyricum, Romans 15:19. And in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27, there is an account of trials and persecutions, of many of which we have no distinct record, and which might have occurred during this interval. We may be certain that these holy men were not idle. From the example of Paul and Barnabas as recorded in this chapter, we may learn to bear all persecutions and trials without a complaint, and to acknowledge the good hand of God in our preservation in our travels; in our defense when we are persecuted; in all the opportunities which may be open before us to do good; and in all the success which may attend our efforts. Christians should remember that it is God who opens doors of usefulness; and they should regard it as a matter of thanksgiving that such doors are opened, and that they are permitted to spread the gospel, whatever toil it may cost, whatever persecution they may endure, whatever perils they may encounter.
Long time - How long is not intimated; but we hear no more of them until the council at Jerusalem, mentioned in the next chapter. If the transactions recorded in this chapter occurred, as is supposed, about 45 a.d. or 46 a.d., and the council at Jerusalem assembled 51 a.d. or 53 a.d., as is supposed, then here is an interval of from five to eight years in which we have no account of them. Where they were, or what was their employment in this interval, the sacred historian has not informed us. It is certain, however, that Paul made several journeys of which we have no particular record in the New Testament, and it is possible that some of those journeys occurred during this interval. Thus, he preached the gospel as far as Illyricum, Romans 15:19. And in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27, there is an account of trials and persecutions, of many of which we have no distinct record, and which might have occurred during this interval. We may be certain that these holy men were not idle. From the example of Paul and Barnabas as recorded in this chapter, we may learn to bear all persecutions and trials without a complaint, and to acknowledge the good hand of God in our preservation in our travels; in our defense when we are persecuted; in all the opportunities which may be open before us to do good; and in all the success which may attend our efforts. Christians should remember that it is God who opens doors of usefulness; and they should regard it as a matter of thanksgiving that such doors are opened, and that they are permitted to spread the gospel, whatever toil it may cost, whatever persecution they may endure, whatever perils they may encounter.Acts 14:22; and also, as our Saviour withdrew himself from the multitudes, they chose there to refresh themselves a while, out of the heat of contention and persecution. And there they abode long time with the disciples.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Acts 14:28. χρόνον οὐκ ὀλίγον: only in Acts, where it occurs eight times, cf. Acts 12:18, etc.; on the length of time thus spent see “Chronology of the N.T.,” Hastings’ B.D., and also Ramsay, Church in the Roman Empire, p. 74, with which cf. Lewin, Fasti Sacri, p. 288.
Additional Note.—In chapters 13 and 14 many critics find the commencement of a new source, a belief based to a great extent upon the view that Barnabas and Saul are here introduced as if they had not been previously mentioned. But whilst some description is given of each of the remaining persons in the list (Acts 13:1), nothing is added to the name of Barnabas or of Saul, so that it seems quite permissible to argue that these two are thus simply mentioned by name because they were already known. It is therefore not surprising to find that some writers, e.g., Hilgenfeld, regard these chapters as part of a previous source, so too Wendt, Spitta, Jüngst. Others see in these chapters a separate document, possibly not used again by the author of Acts; a document composed by a different hand from that to which we owe the “We” sections, and incorporated by the author of the whole book into his work (McGiffert). Others again see in these same chapters the commencement of a Travel-Document, containing not only these two chapters, but also the later journeys of St. Paul, coming to us from the same hand as the “We” sections, and from the same hand as the rest of the book (Ramsay). It is disappointing to find how Clemen, while referring 13, 14 to his good source, Historia Pauli, goes even further than Spitta in breaking up the different parts of the narrative: e.g., Acts 14:8-11, we owe to the Redactor Judaicus, and Acts 14:19-20; Acts 14:22 b, 23 in the same chapter to the Redactor Anti-Judaicus. (See on the whole question Hilgenfeld, Zeitschrift für wissenschaft. Theol., 1e Heft, 1896; Wendt (1899), p. 225, note; Zöckler, Apostelgeschichte, pp. 243, 244 (second edition).) It is no wonder in face of the unsatisfactory attempts to break up these chapters, or to separate their authorship from that of the rest of the book, that Zahn should maintain that a man like Luke needed for the composition of chapters 13–28 no other source than his recollections of the narratives recited by St. Paul himself, or of the events in which he, as St. Paul’s companion, had participated, Didache 1 N. T., ii., 412 (1899), cf. Nösgen, Apostelgeschichte, pp. 25, 26. Certainly the unity of authorship between the two chapters under consideration and the rest of the book seems most clearly marked in language and style: e.g., κατασείειν, Acts 13:6, only found elsewhere in N.T., Acts 12:17; Acts 19:33; Acts 21:40; ἐπαίρειν τὴν φωνήν, Acts 14:11, only elsewhere in N.T., Luke 11:27, Acts 2:14; Acts 22:22; παραχρῆμα, Acts 13:11, elsewhere in N.T., ten times in Luke’s Gospel (only twice in St. Matthew, and not at all in the other Evangelists), Acts 3:7; Acts 5:10; Acts 12:23; Acts 12:16 :(26), 33; ἧ, with participle, Acts 13:48, Acts 14:7; Acts 14:12; Acts 14:26; δή Acts 13:2; ἄχρι, Acts 13:6; Acts 13:11; ἱκανός with χρόνος, Acts 14:3, elsewhere in N.T. in Luke only, and eight times in Acts in all parts; ἀτενίζειν in Acts 13:9 and Acts 14:9 and the frequent recurrence of τέ in both chapters. It is also perhaps worthy of observation that out of some twenty-one words and phrases found only in the “We” sections, and in the rest of Acts (Hawkins, Horæ Synopticæ, p. 151), six occur in these two chapters, and two of them twice: ἀποπλέω, Acts 13:4, Acts 14:26; διατρίβω with accusative of time, Acts 14:3; ἔξειμι, Acts 13:42; ἡμέραι πλείους, Acts 13:31; προσκέ κλημαι with accusative, Acts 13:2; Acts 13:7; ὑπονοέω, Acts 13:25. On the position of these two chapters relatively to chap. 15 see below.
Additional note on Acts 14:23.—On the rapid spread of Christianity in Asia Minor see Ramsay, Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia, i., pp. 87, 94, 95, 135–137, and Church in the Roman Empire, pp. 161, 397. The old nature religion with its negation of moral distinctions and family ties was doomed, a religion which on the one hand made woman the head of the family, and on the other hand compelled her to a so-called sacred service which involved the surrender of all which in a civilised community womanhood held most dear. The strength of the old ritual, however, was so great that it seems to have been maintained in Phrygia even after a higher type of society became known in the Roman period. But with the growth of Roman organisation and educational influences the minds of men were at least prepared for new ideas, and at this juncture St. Paul came preaching a gospel of home life, of Christian purity; and wherever higher social ideas had already penetrated he found converts disposed to follow his teaching as “a more excellent way”. In connection with the wide spread of Christianity in Asia Minor see also Orr, Some Neglected Factors in the Study of the Early Progress of Christianity, p. 48 ff. (1899).28. And there they abode long time with the disciples] The oldest MSS. omit “there.” Render literally, “And they abode no little time with the disciples.” St Paul was naturally more attached to Antioch than to Jerusalem, for here was the centre where Gentiles had first formed a Church, and where consequently he found most sympathy with his special labours.
The termination of St Paul’s first missionary journey seems no unfitting place for a notice of the character of the Apostle’s labours. We must assign a space of three or four years to this first mission, and as the district traversed was but small, a considerable time must have been spent at each place chosen for a centre of labour. The narrative of St Luke indicates this very clearly. He tells us (Acts 13:49) how from Antioch “the word of the Lord was published throughout all the religion.” Again he speaks (Acts 13:52, Acts 14:22) of “the disciples” as though converts had been made in no small numbers. Then at Iconium he mentions (Acts 14:1) that “a great multitude both of Jews and Greeks believed,” and (Acts 14:3) that “long time” was spent there in striving to overcome the opposition of the “unbelieving Jews,” and at last the whole city appears to have been divided into two great factions. Such a result was not produced by two unknown Jewish missionaries, except after the lapse of a long time. So too at Lystra they abode long enough to gain many adherents, and form a congregation of earnest disciples. And the abundant fruit of the labours of the missionaries is clearly seen in the need for the ordination of elders, and in the provisions made for orderly church government. The language of St Paul too (Acts 15:36) when he speaks of revisiting “the brethren in every city where they had before preached the word of the Lord” indicates that he felt that a good foundation had been laid in the different places where they had ministered. It seems from this that the course adopted by the Apostle was to tarry in some centre of population, and continue his preaching till a sufficient number of converts had been gained to carry on the work after he left them, and till some of these were so far instructed as to be able to take oversight of the infant churches.
But it is when we read of the Christian congregations that the narrative of St Luke becomes most full of interest. St Paul had been by a revelation (Acts 22:21) sent to be the Apostle of the Gentiles, and he testifies himself to this statement of St Luke in his Epistle to the Galatians (Galatians 2:7). Yet the history shews him to us quite in harmony with the feelings expressed in his letter to the Romans (Acts 10:1) as one whose heart’s desire for Israel is that they may be saved; and in full accord with that language in which in the same epistle (Acts 11:1) he identifies himself with the children of Israel. Throughout all this missionary journey St Paul never neglects to publish the message of salvation first to his own people. No, not even after repeated rejections of his teaching. In Cyprus he and Barnabas are mentioned as going first to the synagogue at Salamis. To the Gentiles they preached with much effect, but the Jews had heard their doctrine first. At Antioch they began their mission work in the synagogue, where they took their places as members of the Jewish congregation, and were invited by the rulers to address the assembly as being brethren and of the same faith. This address, which St Luke has preserved for us in substance, echoes more than once the language of the Epistle to the Romans. If in the epistle (Acts 3:18) St Paul says “We conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the Law,” St Luke relates (Acts 13:39) how he said to the Jews of Antioch in precisely similar terms, “By Him all that believe are justified from all things from which ye could not be justified by the Law of Moses.” So too just as the Apostle explains to the Romans (Acts 10:19) that the purpose of God had been to rouse His ancient people to jealousy by them that are no people, so to the Antiochene Jews (Acts 13:46) is he represented as saying, “It was necessary that the word of God should have been first spoken to you, but seeing ye judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” And the action is just in the same spirit as the language which is used in Romans 1:16. There the Gospel is proclaimed to be the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth, but the order in which it is offered is “to the Jew first and afterwards to the Gentiles.”
To compare in this way the language of St Paul’s chief epistle with the abstracts of his speeches in the Acts is of much importance. For some have been found to maintain that the St Paul of the Epistles is a very different teacher from the Apostle whose history is recorded in the Acts. Those passages in the letters where St Paul speaks so severely of the opposition which he experienced from the Jews have been unduly dwelt on, and the theory of two sections in the early Church (a Pauline and a Petrine party) has been widely accepted, and the Acts described as a work of late date written with a view to bring about harmony between them. We cannot therefore dwell too often on all those points in the narrative of St Luke which find a counterpart in the letters of St Paul. And the farther such a comparison be carried on the more will it be apparent that the agreement between the Apostle and the historian exists because the latter is faithful to what he saw and heard, and so his record cannot but harmonize with the spirit and words of the chief actor in the history.Verse 28. - They tarried for there they abode, A.V.; no little for long, A.V. Bishop Pearson reckons it a little more than a year; Lewin, "about a year;" Renan, "several months." No accurate statement can be gathered from St. Luke;s indefinite expression. With this chapter closes the account of St. Paul's first missionary tour. Cony-beare and Howson (pp. 177, 213) assign to it a duration of about nine months, from early spring, March, to November, when the sea would be closed; bringing him to Perga in May, and thence for the next five or six months into the mountains of Pisidia, where it was the custom for the inhabitants of the lowlands to congregate during the hot months. Others, however, as Lewin (pp. 156, 157), think the circuit must have occupied "about two years;" Wieseler (p. 224), "more than one year;" but Renan assigns to it "five years" (" Saint Paul," p. 55). "Conjectural estimates vary between two and eight years" ('Speaker's Commentary'). Lewin's estimate is, perhaps, the most probable. Whatever the exact period may have been, it was a time fruitful in consequences to the immortal interests of mankind.
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