Acts 18:2
And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came to them.
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(2) And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus.—The name presents some interesting associations. Strictly speaking, the Greek form is Ahylas, but this is undoubtedly the transliterated form of the Latin Aquila (= Eagle). The name appears in a yet more altered form in Onkelos, the traditional writer of one of the Targums, or Paraphrases of the Law, then current among the Jews. In Aquila, one of the later translators of the Old Testament into Greek, himself also born in Pontus, and possibly (but see Mr. Deutsch’s Remains, p. 339) identical with Onkelos, we get the Greek form again. In the well-known chief Rabbi of the synagogues of the Jews of London, Dr. Adler, we have it reappearing in a German form (Adler=Eagle). The tendency of Jews to take names derived from animals when sojourning in heathen countries, may be noted as not uncommon. Ursulus, Leo, Leopardus, Dorcas, which appear in the early Christian inscriptions in the Vatican and Lateran Museums, present analogous instances. His birth in Pontus indicates that he belonged to the dispersion of the Jews of that province (1Peter 1:1) which, as the north-eastern region of Asia Minor, lay between Bithynia and Armenia. Some from that province had been present at Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:9). As the Jews at Rome consisted largely of freed-men, the libertinum genus of Latin writers (see Note on the Libertines in Acts 6:9), it is probable that Aquila belonged to that class.

With his wife Priscilla.—The name appears in some MSS., both here and elsewhere, in the form of Prisca, of which it is the diminutive. So we have Lucilla from Lucia, Domitilla from Domitia, Atticilla (in an inscription in the Museum of Perugia) from Attica. The name Prisca probably indicates a connection with the gens of the Prisci, who appear in the earliest stages of Roman history, and supplied a long series of prætors and consuls. The marriage was probably, therefore, an example of the influence gained by educated Jews over the higher class of women at Rome. It was, perhaps, a natural consequence of her higher social position that her name is sometimes placed before Aquila’s (Acts 18:18; Romans 16:3; 2Timothy 4:19). The fact that she took part in the instruction of Apollos (see Note on Acts 18:26), indicates that she was a woman of more than ordinary culture, a student and interpreter of the Old Testament Scriptures.

The question naturally suggests itself, whether the husband and wife, who were afterwards so prominent in the Apostolic Church, were, at this stage of their career, converted by St. Paul to the faith in Christ. The answer to that question must, it is believed, be a distinct and decisive negative. (1) There is no mention of their listening to St. Paul, and believing, as, e.g., in the case of Lydia (Acts 16:14); and it is hardly conceivable that St. Luke, who relates that case so fully, would have omitted a fact of such importance. (2) He joins himself to them, as able to share his thoughts and hopes, even before he begins preaching in the synagogue, as in Acts 18:4. (3) An unbelieving Jew was not likely to have admitted St. Paul into a partnership in his business. The question how and by whom the Church of Christ had been first brought to Rome will be discussed in the next Note.

Because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome.—The account of the expulsion is given by Suetonius (Claudius, c. 25) in words which are in many ways suggestive—“Claudius, Judœos, impulsore Chresto, assidue tumultuantes, Româ expulit” (“Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome on account of their continual tumults, instigated by Chrestus”). The Jews, at this period, were settled mainly in the Transtiberine region of Rome, at the base of the Janiculum, opposite the present Ghetto, or Jewry, of the city. They exercised considerable influence over the upper classes, had synagogues and oratories (proseuchæ, see Notes on Acts 16:13; Luke 6:12) of their own, were tolerated as possessing a relligio licita, had their own cemeteries on the Appian Way. Suddenly there is a change in their relations to the civil power, and the name of Chrestus is connected with it. Of the man whom he so mentions, Suetonius tells us nothing further. But we know that the sounds of the Greek “i” and “ē” were hardly distinguishable. Tertullian (Apol. c. 3) says that the name of Christus was almost invariably pronounced Chrēstus, and, as that word signifies “good,” “useful,” “honest,” founds a kind of argumentum ad hominem on the prevalent mistake. So in Jewish inscriptions in the Lateran Museum, Alfius appears as the equivalent for the Greek form Alphæus. The probable explanation of Claudius’s decree, accordingly, is that men had come to Rome after the Day of Pentecost proclaiming Jesus as the Christ, that this had been followed by tumults like those of which we read in the Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:50), and Lystra (Acts 14:19), and Thessalonica (Acts 17:5), and Berœa (Acts 17:13), and that as the name of Christus was much in the mouths both of those who received and those who rejected His claim to be the Messiah, the Roman magistrates, like Gallio, careless as to questions about names and words (Acts 18:15), naturally inferred that he was the leader of one of the parties, probably assuming, as at Thessalonica (Acts 17:7), that he claimed the title of king after the manner of the pretenders to an earthly throne. If we ask who were the first preachers of the new faith, the answer, though we may be unable to identify individuals, is not far to seek. (1) It was scarcely likely that twenty-three years should have passed since the Day of Pentecost, without bringing to the ears of the Jews of Rome some tidings of what was going on in Palestine. (2) In the list of those who were present at the Pentecostal wonder are strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes (Acts 2:10). (3) Among the Hellenistic Jews who disputed with Stephen were libertini, or freed-men of Rome, and Stephen himself, we saw reason to believe, belonged to the same class. (See Notes on Acts 6:5; Acts 6:9.) (4) Andronicus and Junias (contracted from Junianus, as Lucas from Lucanus), who are among those to whom St. Paul sends messages of affection at Rome, were “in Christ” before him (Romans 16:7). To these, then, and not to St. Peter, we may probably look as among the real founders of the Church of Rome. The facts all indicate that the theology of the disciples of Rome was likely to be based upon the same great principles as that of Stephen, and this explains the readiness with which Aquila and Priscilla received the gospel as St. Paul preached it. It is obvious that many more of those who had been expelled from Rome were likely to have accompanied them from Rome to Corinth, and the long list of names in Romans 16:3-15 probably consists for the most part of those who had thus come within the range of St. Paul’s personal acquaintance, and had returned to Rome in the interval. The names in that list are many of them identical with those in the Columbaria, or burial-place, on the Appian Way, which contains the names of the men and women of the freed-man class who belonged to the household of the Empress Livia, and make it almost certain that they were of the same class; and that when St. Paul speaks (Philippians 4:22) of the “saints of Caesar’s household” he is referring to such as these, and not to persons of high official rank. (See Notes on Romans 16) The name of Priscus occurs, it may be added, in a Christian inscription of uncertain date in the Collegio Romano. We need not wonder that Greek should be the medium of intercourse even with these Roman Jews. The inscriptions in the recently discovered Jewish cemetery in the Vigna Randanini, at Rome, show a strange blending of the two languages, Greek words appearing sometimes in Latin characters, and Latin words in Greek. Hebrew does not appear, but the symbol of the seven-branched candlestick of the Temple recurs frequently.

(2) We cannot exclude from the probable motives the strong feeling of thankfulness for deliverance from danger, following upon fear which, as in nearly all phases of the religious life, has been the chief impulse out of which vows have grown. We have seen the fear, and the promise, and the deliverance, in the record of St. Paul’s work at Corinth, and the vow of self-consecration, for a season, to a life of special devotion was the natural result. St. Paul had not learnt to despise or condemn such expressions of devout feeling.

Acts 18:2-3. And found a certain Jew — Afterward converted to the faith of Christ, (Acts 18:26,) doubtless by the instrumentality of Paul; born in Pontus — A province of the Lesser Asia, not far from Galatia and Cappadocia; lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla — Who also became an eminent Christian; because that Claudius — The Roman emperor; had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome — All who were Jews by birth; whether they were Jews or Christians by religion, the Romans were too stately to regard; and came unto them, because he was of the same craft — Namely, that of tent-making. It being a rule among the Jews (and why is it not also among Christians?) to bring up all their children to some trade, were they ever so rich and noble. Paul, though intended to have a better education than ordinary, had learned this when young, and being now capable of exercising it, he found it of great use to him on many occasions, particularly at this time. For by the profits of his labour therein, he maintained himself all the while he abode at Corinth, without burdening the Corinthians in the least. The same course he had followed some time before this, while he preached in Thessalonica; (1 Thessalonians 2:9;) and afterward at Ephesus, where, as also probably in many other places, he supported not only himself, but his assistants likewise, by his labour. See Acts 20:34. The tents, or pavilions, which Paul and these his friends were employed in making, and which were formed of linen or skins, were much used, not only by soldiers and travellers, but by others in those hot countries.18:1-6 Though Paul was entitled to support from the churches he planted, and from the people to whom he preached, yet he worked at his calling. An honest trade, by which a man may get his bread, is not to be looked upon with contempt by any. It was the custom of the Jews to bring up their children to some trade, though they gave them learning or estates. Paul was careful to prevent prejudices, even the most unreasonable. The love of Christ is the best bond of the saints; and the communings of the saints with each other, sweeten labour, contempt, and even persecution. Most of the Jews persisted in contradicting the gospel of Christ, and blasphemed. They would not believe themselves, and did all they could to keep others from believing. Paul hereupon left them. He did not give over his work; for though Israel be not gathered, Christ and his gospel shall be glorious. The Jews could not complain, for they had the first offer. When some oppose the gospel, we must turn to others. Grief that many persist in unbelief should not prevent gratitude for the conversion of some to Christ.And found a certain Jew - Aquila is mentioned elsewhere as the friend of Paul, Romans 16:3; 2 Timothy 4:19; 1 Corinthians 16:19. Though a Jew by birth, yet it is evident that he became a convert to the Christian faith.

Born in Pontus - See the notes on Acts 2:9.

Lately come from Italy - Though the command of Claudius extended only to Rome, yet it was probably deemed not safe to remain, or it might have been difficult to procure occupation in any part of Italy.

Because that Claudius - Claudius was the Roman emperor. He commenced his reign 41 a.d., and was poisoned 54 a.d. At what time in his reign this command was issued is not certainly known.

Had commanded ... - This command is not mentioned by Josephus, but it is recorded by Suetonius, a Roman historian ("Life of Claudius," chapter 25), who says that "he expelled the Jews from Rome, who were constantly exciting tumults under their leader, Chrestus." Who this Chrestus was is not known. It might have been a foreign Jew, who raised tumults on some occasion of which we have no knowledge, as the Jews in all pagan cities were greatly prone to excitements and insurrections. Or it may be that Suetonius, little acquainted with Jewish affairs, mistook this for the name Christ, and supposed that he was the leader of the Jews. This explanation has much plausibility; for:

(1) Suetonius could scarcely be supposed to be intimately acquainted with the affairs of the Jews.

(2) there is every reason to believe that, before this, the Christian religion was preached at Rome.

(3) it would produce there, as everywhere else, great tumult and contention among the Jews.

(4) Claudius, the emperor, might suppose that such tumults endangered the peace of the city, and resolve to remove the cause at once by the dispersion of the Jews.

(5) a Roman historian might easily mistake the true state of the case; and while they were contending about Christ, he might suppose that it was under him, as a leader, that these tumults were excited. All that is material, however, here, is the fact, in which Luke and Suetonius agree, that the Jews were expelled from Rome during his reign.

2. a Jew … Aquila … with his wife Priscilla—From these Latin names one would conclude that they had resided so long in Rome as to lose their Jewish family names.

born in Pontus—the most easterly province of Asia Minor, stretching along the southern shore of the Black Sea. From this province there were Jews at Jerusalem on the great Pentecost (Ac 2:9), and the Christians of it are included among "the strangers of the dispersion," to whom Peter addressed his first Epistle (1Pe 1:1). Whether this couple were converted before Paul made their acquaintance, commentators are much divided. They may have brought their Christianity with them from Rome [Olshausen], or Paul may have been drawn to them merely by like occupation, and, lodging with them, have been the instrument of their conversion [Meyer]. They appear to have been in good circumstances, and after travelling much, to have eventually settled at Ephesus. The Christian friendship now first formed continued warm and unbroken, and the highest testimony is once and again borne to them by the apostle.

Claudius, &c.—This edict is almost certainly that mentioned by Suetonius, in his life of this emperor [Lives of the Cæsars, "Claudius," 25].

Pontus; a country between Cappadocia and the Black Sea, Acts 2:9, whither the progenitors of Aquila, in one of the dispersions, might flee from Judea to inhabit there.

Claudius; the Roman emperor, who, at the beginning of his reign, gave liberty to the Jews freely to exercise their religion, but about eight years after took away that privilege from them; which Suetonius makes mention of, though very much mistaking the reason. With the Jews, it is thought that the Christians were banished too; for the pagan Romans did not care to distinguish between them, they both worshipping but one God, and agreeing in opposing their idolatry. And found a certain Jew named Aquila,.... This seems to have been his Roman name, which he had took, or was given him, while he was at Rome; very likely his Jewish name was "Nesher", which signifies an eagle, as "Aquila" does: unless it should rather be thought to be a Greek name; and as "Olympas" is from "Olympios", and "Nymphas" from Nymphios"; so "Akilas", as it in the Greek text, from Akylios", and this from "Akylos", which signifies an acorn. There was a Jewish proselyte of this name, who translated the Bible into Greek, who is called by the Jewish writers "Akilas" (a); and Eusebius (b) calls him , or "Akylas" or "Aquila" of Pontus, as here, but cannot be the same; for one was a Jew, the other a Gentile, then a Christian, and afterwards a Jewish proselyte, and lived after the destruction of Jerusalem many years, even in the times of Adrian: nor is it the same name with Onkelos, the famous Chaldee paraphrast, as some have thought, and much less the same person; for though their age better agrees, yet neither their name, nor their nation; for Onkelos was only a proselyte, not a Jew, as this man was; and the agreement the names of these proselytes may be thought to have with this, does but confirm it to be a Roman name; and in a decree of Claudius the Roman emperor, mention is made of Akylas, or Aquila, a Roman governor of Alexandria (c): and in the reign of Caius Caligula, there was a consul of Rome whose name was M. Aquila Julianus. This is said to be afterwards bishop of Heraclea; but that is not to be depended upon:

born in Pontus; a country in Asia; See Gill on Acts 2:9 where many Jews lived; though he was born in an Heathen country, his parents were Jews:

lately come from Italy; a famous and well known country in Europe: See Gill on Hebrews 13:24.

with his wife Priscilla; she and her husband are both highly spoken of in Romans 16:3; see Gill on Romans 16:4,

because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome; of which edict Suetonius (d) makes mention, who says, that Claudius

"expelled the Jews from Rome, who were continually making tumults, being moved thereunto by one Chrestus,''

who is generally understood to be Christ; and it is thought that the reason of this edict was, that the Jews in Rome continually opposing and disputing with the Christians, about Jesus being the Messiah, Claudius, who was of a timorous disposition, was afraid of a tumult, and that it might issue in his detriment, and therefore banished all the Jews, with whom the Christians were involved; for by the Heathens they were all called Jews, the first Christians being Jews: though others say the reason was, that the Jews had contracted an acquaintance with Agrippina, the wife of Claudius, and had drawn her into Judaism: but be it as it will, such an edict was made, on account of which Aquila and Priscilla were obliged to leave Rome, and come to Corinth. It must be something that was very provoking to him, otherwise before he had shown much favour to the Jews; for he not only granted to the Jews at Alexandria, that they should continue in the observance of their laws and customs, but permitted the same to them in all parts of the empire, by a special decree, which runs thus (e);

"Tiberius Claudius Caesar, &c. decrees, seeing the Kings Agrippa and Herod, my dearest friends, have entreated me that I would suffer the Jews in every government under the Romans, to observe their laws as in Alexandria; I most willingly grant it, not only for the sake of gratifying those who ask it, but judging that those are worthy, for whom it is asked, because of their faithfulness and friendship to the Romans; especially accounting it most just that no Grecian city should be deprived of these rights, seeing they were kept for them by the divine Augustus; wherefore it is right also that the Jews throughout all our empire should observe the customs of their country without any hinderance, whom I now command that in love to us they would behave more moderately, and not despise the religion of other nations, but keep their own laws; and I will that governors of cities, and colonies, and freedoms, both in Italy and without, have this my edict transcribed, and also kings and princes by their ambassadors, and that it be put in such a place in less than thirty days, from whence it may be plainly read.''

This Claudius was the "fifth" emperor of Rome; and this decree passed in the "ninth", or, as others, in the "eleventh" year of his reign, and about the year of Christ 51, or, as others, 54.

And came unto them: that is, the apostle, having found out Aquila and Priscilla, he came and visited them, and took up his lodging with them.

(a) Ganz Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 28. 2.((b) Eccl. Hist. l. 5. c. 8. (c) Joseph. Antiqu. l. 19. c. 5. sect. 2.((d) In Vita. Cluadii, c. 25. (e) Joseph. ib. sect. 3.

And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that {a} Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them.

(a) Suetonius records that Rome banished the Jews because they were never at rest, and that because of Christ.

Acts 18:2. Ἀκύλαν, cf. Acts 18:18, Romans 16:3, 1 Corinthians 16:19, 2 Timothy 4:19 : the Latin Aquila in its Greek form; the name may have been assumed, as often the case, in place of the Jewish name. It is altogether unreasonable to suppose that Luke made a mistake and that this Aquila’s name was Pontius Aquila, which he bore as a freedman of the Gens Pontia, a distinguished member of which was called by the same two names, Pontius Aquila, Cic., Ad Fam., x., 33; Suet., Jul. Cæs., 78. The fact that another Aquila, who is famous as giving us the earliest version A.D. of the O.T. in Greek, is also described as from Pontus goes far to show that there is nothing improbable in St. Luke’s statement (Schürer, Jewish People, div. ii., vol. ii., p. 226, E.T.). The name, moreover, was also a slave name (Ramsay, p. 269), as a freedman of Mæcenas was called (C. Cilnius) Aquila. But it is probable that as the greater part of the Jews in Rome were freedmen, Aquila may also have belonged to this class, see Schürer, u. s., p. 234, and also further, Sanday and Headlam, Romans, p. xxvii., 418; Lightfoot, Philippians, p. 173.—τῷ γένει: “by race,” R.V., cf. Acts 4:36, of Barnabas, and Acts 18:24, of Apollos; the word need not mean more than this.—Ἰουδαῖον: The word has been pressed sometimes to indicate that Aquila was still unconverted to Christianity. But the fact that he is called a Jew may simply refer to the notice which follows “that all Jews,” etc. Whether Aquila was a Christian before he met St. Paul is very difficult to determine. He is not spoken of as a disciple, and similarity of employment rather than of Christian belief may account for the Apostle’s intercourse with him and Priscilla, Zahn, Einleitung, i., 189. But the suspicion with which most of his countrymen regarded St. Paul rather indicates that Aquila and Priscilla must at least have had some leanings towards the new faith, or they would scarcely have received him into their lodgings. It is quite possible that, as at the great Pentecost Jews from Rome had been present, cf. Acts 2:10, Christianity may have been carried by this means to the imperial city, and that such tidings may have predisposed Aquila and Priscilla to listen to St. Paul’s teaching, even if they were not Christians when they first met him. If they were converted, as has been supposed, by St. Paul at Corinth, it is strange that no mention is made of their conversion. That they were Christians when St. Paul left them at Ephesus seems to be beyond a doubt. Renan describes them as already Christians when they met the Apostle, so too Hilgenfeld, on the ground that their conversion by St. Paul could scarcely have been passed over, see further “Aquila,” B.D.2, and Hastings’ B.D.; Wendt, in loco; Lightfoot, Phil., pp. 16 and 17, Hort, Rom. and Ephes., p. 9.—προσφάτως: here only, lit[317], lately slaughtered or killed; hence recent, fresh; Latin, recens (Grimm). In LXX, Deuteronomy 24:5, Ezekiel 11:3, Jdg 4:3; Jdg 4:5, 2Ma 14:36, so too in Polybius, Westcott on Hebrews 10:20 πρόσφατος regards all derivations from σφάω (σφάζω) φάω (φένω) φάω (φημί) as unsatisfactory.—Πρίσκιλλαν: in Epistles, Romans 16:3, 1 Corinthians 16:19, 2 Timothy 4:9, Prisca, R.V., W.H[318], Priscilla, perhaps the diminutive, cf. Lucilla, Domitilla. Probably St. Luke used the language of conversation, in which the diminutive forms were usually employed, St. Paul, p. 268. On Bezan text see critical note, Ramsay, u. s., and Church in the Roman Empire, p. 158. In Acts 18:18; Acts 18:26 we have Priscilla mentioned before her husband, and so by St. Paul, except in 1 Corinthians 16:19. The reason may be that she was of higher social status, and indeed not a Jewess at all, as this seems the best way of accounting for the curious arrangement of the sentence here, the point being to emphasise the fact that Aquila was a Jew. Her name may indicate some connection with the Priscan Gens; whilst Sanday and Headlam, Romans, p. 420, in an interesting discussion find reasons to connect both her (and possibly her husband) with the Acilian Gens. That she was a woman of education is evident from Acts 18:26, and it is possible that her marriage with Aquila may afford us another proof amongst many of the influence of the Jewish religion over educated women in Rome, Jos., Ant., xviii., 3, 5. But many commentators from St. Chrysostom have referred the precedence of Priscilla not to social rank, but to her greater fervency of spirit or ability of character; or it may be simply due to the fact that she was converted first.—διὰ τὸ διατεταχέναι: St. Luke’s statement is fully corroborated by Suet., Claudius, 25: “Judæos impulsore Christo assidue tumultuantes Roma expulit”. But Dio Cassius, lx. 6, in referring to what is most probably the same edict, states that the Jews were not expelled, because of the difficulty in carrying such an order into effect on account of their great numbers. Another passage in Suet., Tiberius, 36, gives us the probable explanation: “expulit et mathematicos sed deprecantibus veniam dedit”: an instance of a contemplated expulsion, afterwards abandoned. If we thus interpret the meaning of Suetonius with reference to the edict of Claudius by giving the same force to “expulit,” it explains the silence of Tacitus and Josephus, who do not mention the edict, while the words of Dio Cassius emphasise the fact that although no expulsion took place the assemblies of the Jews were prohibited, and on that account, we may fairly suppose, that many Jews would leave the city, Schürer, u. s., p. 237. On any view the edict could not have remained in force very long, cf. Acts 28:15, and also the return of Aquila and Priscilla to Rome, Romans 16:3. Ramsay dates the edict at the end of 50 A.D. on the ground that although Orosius, Hist., vii., 6, 15, states that it occurred in the ninth year of Claudius, 49 A.D., the historian here, as elsewhere (e.g., cf. the famine) in connection with the events of this reign, is a year too early. Wendt (1899), p. 59, gives 49–50 as the year of the edict. But it must be remembered that the authority of Orosius is not altogether reliable in this case, as there is no proof that he had any direct reference to Josephus, to whom he appeals for his date; see O. Holtzmann, Neutest. Zeitgeschichte, p. 129; Blass, Proleg., 23, and Turner, “Chronology of the New Testament” Hastings’ B.D. McGiffert, p. 362, maintains that as the date of the edict is thus unknown, we cannot base any chronological conclusions upon it, cf. Zahn, Einleitung, ii., 634. Meyer maintained that by Chrestus Suetonius meant a Jewish agitator so called, but it is more probable that the historian confused Christus with Chrestus—an unfamiliar name with one in use among both Greeks and Romans. This Chrestus Suetonius speaks of as actually living, as the historian might have heard enough to lead him to regard the commotions between Jews and Jewish Christians in Rome as instigated by a leader bearing this name, commotions like those excited in the Pisidian Antioch, in Thessalonica, and elsewhere; or it may be that he thus indicates the feverish hopes of the Messiah amongst the Jews resident in Rome, hopes so often raised by some pretentious deliverer. But Lightfoot makes the important remark that even in this case we may fairly suppose that the true Christ held a prominent place in these reports, for He must have been not less known at this time than any of the false Christs (Philippians, p. 16, note). Such indifference on the part of a Roman of the period is surely not surprising, and the probability is more generally maintained that this Chrestus was really Christ, the leader of the Christians, see Weiss, Didache 1 N. T., p. 227; Wendt (1899), in loco; Ramsay, St. Paul, pp. 47, 254; McGiffert, Apostolic Age, p. 362, note, but, on the other hand, Zahn, Einleitung, i., p. 306.

[317] literal, literally.

[318] Westcott and Hort’s The New Testament in Greek: Critical Text and Notes.2. a certain Jew named Aquila] The name Aquila is a Latin word, and it is not likely that this was the man’s Jewish name, but as the custom was among the Jews, he had probably assumed a Roman name during his dwelling in Italy and in his intercourse with the Gentiles. See above on Acts 13:9. The name is identified, by the Jews, with that of Onkelos, who wrote a Targum on the Pentateuch, and some make that Onkelos to be the same with Aquila who translated the Old Testament into Greek, of which translation part is preserved to us in Origen’s Hexapla.

born in Pontus] Lit. a man of Pontus by race. The provinces of Asia Minor abounded with Jewish families of the Dispersion, as we may see from the whole history in the Acts. In Acts 2:9-10 many of these districts are mentioned as contributing to the number of worshippers who had come to Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost. Pontus came under Roman sway when its king Mithridates was conquered by Pompey, and this connexion may have led Aquila to leave his native country for Italy. Aquila and his wife are mentioned Romans 16:3 as though they were again in Rome, so that probably they had formed ties there which were only temporarily severed by the Claudian edict mentioned in this verse. (It is however questioned whether the salutations in Romans 16 form part of the Epistle as it was sent to the Romans.) They were with St Paul when he wrote the first Epistle to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 16:19), and were so far settled in Ephesus, where that Epistle was written, as to have a house which they could place at the service of the Christians there, as a place to worship in. And if (as is most probable) Timothy was in Ephesus when the second Epistle (2 Timothy 4:19) was addressed to him, they were in that city again at this later date (for Priscilla is only the diminutive form of Prisca as the name of the wife is there written). More than this is not known of their changes of abode.

Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome] The Jews were often objects of persecution in Rome, but this particular occasion is probably that mentioned by Suetonius, Claud. 25, where we read that by reason of Jewish tumults at the instigation of one Christus (or Chrestus) they were driven out of the city. Whether this was the name of some Jew then resident in Rome, or whether it is a reference to some disturbance that had arisen from the Jewish expectation of “the Christ” or Messiah, and the name Christus is mistakenly used by Suetonius as though it were that of some agitator actually present, we cannot tell. Or it may have been some movement of the Jews against the Christians because they taught that the “Christ” was already come. In that case the name “Christus” would come into great prominence, and might give rise to the statement of Suetonius that a person of that name had been the instigator of the disturbances.Acts 18:2. Προσφάτως) So the LXX., Deuteronomy 24:5.—ἐληλυθότα, who had come) They afterwards returned to Rome, Romans 16:3, after various travels.—τοὺς Ἰουδαίους, the Jews) The Romans, in their proud contempt of both, did not care to distinguish between Jews and Christians. He expelled all who were Jews by nation.Verse 2. - He found for found, A.V.; a man of Pontus by race for born in Pontus, A.V.; because for because that, A.V.; the Jews for ,[ewe, A.V.: he came for came, A.V. Aquila. A Roman name, Graecized into Ἀκύλας. Knights and tribunes and others of the name occur in Roman history. Whether the Jewish family residing in Pontus took the name of Aquila from any of these Romans is not known. Aquila, the translator of the Old Testament into Greek about A.D. , was also a Jew of Pontus, the old kingdom of Mithridates. That there was a considerable colony of Jews in Pontus appears also from 1 Peter 1:1 and Acts 2:9. Priscilla. Also called Prison (2 Timothy 4:19). So in classical authors, Livia and Livilla, Drusa and Drusilla, are used of the same persons (Howson, p. 415). Prisca is a not uncommon name for Roman women. The masculine Priscus occurs very frequently. Aquila and Priscilla were among the most active Christians, and the most devoted friends of St. Paul (vers. 18, 26; Romans 16:3, 4, 5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; 2 Timothy 4:19); and were evidently persons of culture as well as piety. Lately; προσφάτως (i.q. πρόσφατον, Pindar, etc.), only found here in the New Testament. But it occurs in the LXX. of Deuteronomy 24:5 and Ezekiel 11:3, and in the apocryphal books repeatedly, and in Polybius. The adjective πρόσφατος, which is also used by the LXX. and the Apocrypha and in classical Greek for "new," is used only once in the New Testament, in Hebrews 10:20. It means properly "newly killed," hence anything "recent," "fresh, or "new." Both the adjective and the adverb are very common in medical writings. Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome. Suetonius mentions the fact, but unfortunately does not say in what year of Claudius's reign it took place. His account is that, in consequence of frequent disturbances and riots among the Jews at the instigation of Chrestus, Claudius drove them from Rome. It seems almost certain, as Renan says, especially combining Tacitus's account ('Annal.,' 15:44) of the spread of Christianity in the city of Rome before the time of Nero, that Chrestus (Greek Ξρηστός,) is only a corruption of the name Christ, similar to that found on three or four inscriptions before the time of Constantine, where Christians are called Ξρηστιανοί, and to the formation of the French word Chretien - in old French Chrestien; and that the true account of these riots is that they were attacks of the unbelieving Jews upon Christian Jews, similar to these at Jerusalem (Acts 8.), at Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13:50), at Iconium and Lystra (Acts 14.), and at Thessalonica and Beraea (Acts 17.). The Romans did not discriminate between Jews and Christian Jews, and thought that those who called Christ their King were fighting under his leadership (comp. Acts 17:7; Luke 23:2; see Renan, 'St. Paul,' p. 101). Tertullian and Lactantius (quoted by Lewin, p. 274) both speak of the vulgar pronunciation, Chres-tianus and Chrestus. Howson also adopts the above explanation. But Meyer thinks that Chrestus was, as Suetonius says, a Jewish leader of insurrection at Rome. The question bears on the passage before us chiefly as the solution does or does not prove the existence of Christians at Rome at this time, and affects the probability of Aquila and Priscilla being already Christians when they came to Corinth, before they made St. Paul's acquaintance. Lately (προσφάτως)

Only here in New Testament, though the kindred adjective, rendered new, is found in Hebrews 10:20. It is derived from φένω, to slay, and the adjective means, originally, lately slain; thence, fresh, new, recent. It is quite common in medical writings in this sense.

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