And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And some of them . . .—Obviously but a few in comparison with the “great multitude of the Greek proselytes of the gate. The Thessalonian Church was predominantly Gentile, some, apparently, won from idolatry without passing through Judaism (1Thessalonians 1:9). Some good MSS., indeed, express this, by reading, devout persons and Greeks.
Of the chief women not a few.—These, like the women in the Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:50), had probably come previously under Jewish influence. Here, However, they were attracted by the higher teaching of the Apostles.Acts 17:4. And some of them believed — Notwithstanding Paul’s arguments were all taken out of the Scriptures, his discourse did not make such an impression on the Jews as might have been expected; for only a few of them believed, and consorted with or adhered to, Paul and Silas. Of the religious proselytes, indeed, a great multitude were converted, among whom were many women of the first distinction in the city. Our freethinkers pique themselves upon observing, that women are more religious than men; and this, in compliment both to religion and good manners, they impute to the weakness of their understandings. And indeed, as far as nature can go in imitating religion by performing the outward acts of it, this picture of religion may make a fairer show in women than in men, both by reason of their more tender passions and their modesty, which will make those actions appear to more advantage. But in the case of true religion, which always implies taking up the cross, especially in time of persecution, women lie naturally under a great disadvantage, as having less courage than men. So that their embracing the gospel in such circumstances, was a stronger evidence of the power of Him whose strength is perfected in weakness, as a greater assistance of the Holy Spirit was needful for them to overcome their natural fearfulness.
This is Luke’s account of the success of the gospel at Thessalonica: but we learn from Paul himself, (1 Thessalonians 1:9,) that multitudes of the idolaters also believed, being greatly struck with the miracles which he wrought, and with the miraculous gifts which he conferred on the believers. We may therefore suppose, that when he found the Jews averse to his doctrine he left the synagogue, and preached to the idolatrous Gentiles, with whom he had great success, on account of his disinterestedness, as well as of his miracles. For neither he nor any of his assistants, all the time they were in Thessalonica, took the least reward, either in money or goods, from the disciples; but wrought with their hands, and by the profits of their labours maintained themselves, without being burdensome to any person, 1 Thessalonians 2:9. None of the Thessalonians, therefore, could suspect that either Paul or his assistants had come to make game of them, by converting them to the Christian faith.
And of the devout Greeks - Religious Greeks; or, of those who worshipped God. Those are denoted who had renounced the worship of idols, and who attended on the worship of the synagogue, but who were not fully admitted to the privileges of Jewish proselytes. They were called, by the Jews, proselytes of the gate.
And of the chief women - See the notes on Acts 13:50.
with Paul and Silas—Compare 2Co 8:5.
of the chief women—female proselytes of distinction. From the First Epistle to the Thessalonians it appears that the converts were nearly all Gentiles; not only such as had before been proselytes, who would be gained in the synagogue, but such as up to that time had been idolaters (1Th 1:9, 10). During his stay, while Paul supported himself by his own labor (1Th 2:9; 2Th 3:7-9), he received supplies once and again from the Philippians, of which he makes honorable acknowledgment (Php 4:15, 16).Consorted with Paul and Silas; were so affected towards them, as that they were willing to take the same part or lot with them. The word imports the nearest and most intimate friendship and union; even such as is conjugal.
Devout Greeks; such of that nation as were become proselytes, who had renounced the idolatry and wicked conversation of the heathen, amongst whom they lived; and had joined themselves to the Jews; at least so far as to hear the law and the prophets read and expounded in their synagogues; and did worship but one God, and did injury unto none. Of these we frequently read in this book; as Acts 17:17 13:42,43.
Of the chief women not a few; a considerable number of these believed; yet, Acts 13:50, such had stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas.
and consorted with Paul and Silas; associated with them, and privately conversed with them, as well as publicly attended their ministry; for when souls are converted, they love to be in company with believers, and especially with the ministers of the Gospel, to hear their discourses, and learn from them the doctrines of grace:
and of the devout Greeks a great multitude; these were Gentiles who were proselytes to the Jewish religion; and these in greater numbers believed, and joined themselves to the apostles, and became followers of them, than there were of the Jews, who were the most averse to the Gospel, and were more hardened, and incredulous:
and of the chief women not a few; some of the wives of the principal men of the city were become proselytes to the Jews, and these attending synagogue worship, and hearing the discourses of Paul from time to time, were convinced and converted, and professed faith in Christ Jesus; and these converts laid the foundation of a Gospel church in Thessalonica, of which church Silvanus is said to be the first bishop; See Gill on Luke 10:1. In the "second" century there were martyrs for Christ here; and to the inhabitants of this place, Antonintus Pius the emperor wrote in behalf of the Christians there, to give them no disturbance (f): in the "third" century there was a church here; Tertullian (g) makes mention of it: in the "fourth" century (h) Theodosius the emperor was baptized at Thessalonica, by Acholius bishop of that place; who first asked him what faith he professed, to which he replied, that he embraced and professed that faith which the churches in Illyricum, who were not yet infected with the Arian heresy, namely the same which was of old delivered by the apostles, and afterwards confirmed at the synod at Nice; in this century Ireminus, Paulinus, and Alexander, were bishops of Thessalonica: in the "fifth" century it was a metropolitan of Macedonia, and Anysius was bishop of it, and so were Rufus and Anastasius: and that there was a church here in the "sixth" century is manifest from hence, that their bishops, for fear of the emperor Anastasius, agreed with Timothy bishop of Constantinople, whom the council at Chalcedon had anathematized; and in this age Pope Gregory, among others, wrote to Eusebius bishop of Thessalonica, that he would not receive any of a military habit into monasteries within three years: in the "seventh" century a bishop of this place assisted at the sixth council at Constantinople; and in the same age it was the seat of an archbishop: in the "eighth" century there was one Thomas bishop of this place, and also Theophilus, who was present at the Nicene synod; in the ninth century a bishop of Thessalonica was beaten with two hundred stripes, for being against image worship.
(f) Euseb. Eccles. Hist. l. 4. c. 26. (g) De Praescript. Heret. c. 36. (h) Magdeburg. Hist. Eccl. cent. 4. c. 3. p. 82. & c. 10. p. 659. cent. 5. c. 2. p. 6. c. 7. p. 418. cent. 6. c. 2. p. 7. cent. 7. c. 2. p. 5. c. 7. p. 115. cent. 8. c. 2. p. 7. cent. 9. c. 3. p. 15.And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Acts 17:4. προσεκληρώθησαν: “there were in addition gathered to them” (Ramsay), giving the verb a passive meaning answering to its form; or “these were allotted to them, associated with them, as disciples [by God],” cf. Ephesians 1:11. The verb is often used in Philo, also found in Plutarch, Lucian, but only here in N.T. Mr. Rendall, while pointing out that the A.V. and R.V. “consorted” gives the impression of outward association only, regards the passive aorist as a middle in meaning, and renders “threw in their lot with Paul and Silas”. According to A.V. and R.V., W. H., Weiss, and Hort, Judaistic Christianity, p. 89, two classes seem to be mentioned besides the Jews, viz., devout Greeks, and some of the chief women. According, however, to Ramsay, comparing A and (see p. 235, St. Paul), we have three classes besides the Jews, viz., proselytes, Greeks, chief women (added as a climax), see critical note, but also McGiffert, Apostolic Age, p. 247. The difficulty in T.R. and authorities first mentioned is that their rendering restricts St. Paul’s work not only to three Sabbaths or weeks, but to the synagogue and its worshippers, whereas from 1 Thessalonians 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 2:14, it would appear that the Church contained a large number of converted heathens. McGiffert thinks it possible that St. Luke may have only recorded the least important of Paul’s labours, just as he only mentions his work in three Macedonian towns, whereas he may easily have laboured over a wider area, 1 Thessalonians 1:7; but see Paley, Horæ Paulinæ, ix., 6, and on the reading, Zahn, Einleitung, i., p. 152. In any case it would seem that a small minority of Jews is contrasted with a large number of born Gentiles, so that the Thessalonian Church may have been spoken of by St. Paul as one of Gentile Christians, who had been opposed not only to Christianity, but earlier still to Judaism, 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10.—γυν. τε τῶν πρώτων οὐκ ὀλίγαι: here, as at Philippi and Berœa, the three Macedonian towns, the prominence assigned to women quite in accordance with what we know from other sources; see above. The mention both here and in Acts 17:12 that the women were the leading high-born women intimates that the poorer women would follow the men of the lower orders, Acts 17:5. Dr. Hort regards the women here as the Jewish wives of heathen men of distinction, as in Acts 13:50, Judaistic Christianity, p. 89, but in Acts 13:50 the opposition to the Apostles proceeds from these women of the higher classes, and it seems much more likely that those mentioned here were Macedonian women.4. And some of them believed (were persuaded)] For St Paul’s teaching was by arguments of which they all were able to form an estimate.
and consorted with] The notion conveyed by the Greek and by the English so far as its derivation is concerned is of “casting in their lot with the disciples,” deciding to join their community.
and of the devout Greeks] These were proselytes of the gate, heathens by birth, who had embraced in part the Jewish faith. (Cp. Acts 13:43; Acts 13:50, and below, Acts 17:17.)
a great multitude] For these had not the prejudices which clung so close about the born Jews.Acts 17:4. Ἐπείσθησαν, believed) In antithesis to οἱ ἀπειθοῦντες, who believed not, Acts 17:5.—προσεκληρώθησαν, attached themselves to [consorted with]) A remarkable verb: became their lot or heritage; whence a church is called κλῆρος, a heritage, 1 Peter 5:3.—τῶν τε σεβομένων, and of the devout) A frequent term in this book, especially applied to religious Greeks: ch. Acts 13:43; Acts 13:50, Acts 16:14, Acts 18:7; but applied to those Greeks who used to frequent the synagogues, Acts 17:17. All are in themselves wild olive trees: but one wild olive is less unsuited for grafting than another; and where there is less natural unsuitableness, there the transition to faith is more easy.—γυναικῶν, of the women) These more than the men were wont to take an interest in religious subjects. Cic. ad Terentiam, says, “Dii quos tu castissimè coluisti; hominesque, quibus ego semper servivi.”—πρώτων, the chief) who thereby gave a noble example.Verse 4. - Were persuaded for believed, A.V. (ἐπείσθησαν). Consorted with; προσεκληρώθησαν a word only found here in the New Testament, but, like so many other words in St. Luke's vocabulary, found also in Pintarch, in the sense of being "associated with," or "attached to" any one; literally, to be assigned to any one by lot (comp. the use of the simple verb ἐκληρώθημεν, Ephesians 1:11). Of the devout Greeks. Observe the frequent proofs of the influence the synagogues had in bringing heathen to the knowledge of the true God (see ver. 12; Acts 10:2; Acts 11:21; Acts 13:48; Acts 14:1, etc.). The chief women (τῶν πρώτων). So in Acts 13:50 τοὺς πρώτους τῆς πολέως means "the chief men of the city." And Lake 19:49, οἱ πρῶτοι τοῦ λαοῦ are "the chief of the people" (" the principal men," R.V.) It has been already remarked that St. Lake especially notices the instances of female piety. In ver. 12 we have τῶν εὐσχημόνων in the same sense as the τῶν πρώτων in this verse.
Only here in New Testament. More strictly, "were added or allotted to."
The position of women in Macedonia seems to have been exceptional. Popular prejudice, and the verdict of Grecian wisdom in its best age, asserted her natural inferiority. The Athenian law provided that everything which a man might do by the counsel or request of a woman should be null in law. She was little better than a slave. To educate her was to advertise her as a harlot. Her companions were principally children and slaves. In Macedonia, however, monuments were erected to women by public bodies; and records of male proper names are found, in Macedonian inscriptions, formed on the mother's name instead of on the father's. Macedonian women were permitted to hold property, and were treated as mistresses of the house. These facts are borne out by the account of Paul's labors in Macedonia. In Thessalonica, Beroea, and Philippi we note additions of women of rank to the church; and their prominence in church affairs is indicated by Paul's special appeal to two ladies in the church at Philippi to reconcile their differences, which had caused disturbance in the church, and by his commending them to his colleagues as women who had labored with him in the Lord (Philippians 4:2, Philippians 4:3).
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