Acts 18:21
But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that comes in Jerusalem: but I will return again to you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) I must by all means keep this feast that Cometh.—Literally, the coming, or, the next feast. This was, probably, as has been said, the Feast of Pentecost. (See Note on Acts 18:18.) If he missed that, there would be no other feast till that of Tabernacles; and then, in October, travelling, whether by sea or land, became dangerous and difficult. (See Note on Acts 27:9.)

If God will.—In this resting in the thought of the will of the Father as ordering all things well—even in their use of almost the same formula, to them much more than such a formula as the Deo volente has often become in the lips of Christians—we find another point of agreement between St. Paul and St. James (James 4:15).

18:18-23 While Paul found he laboured not in vain, he continued labouring. Our times are in God's hand; we purpose, but he disposes; therefore we must make all promises with submission to the will of God; not only if providence permits, but if God does not otherwise direct our motions. A very good refreshment it is to a faithful minister, to have for awhile the society of his brethren. Disciples are compassed about with infirmity; ministers must do what they can to strengthen them, by directing them to Christ, who is their Strength. Let us earnestly seek, in our several places, to promote the cause of Christ, forming plans that appear to us most proper, but relying on the Lord to bring them to pass if he sees good.Keep this feast - Probably the Passover is here referred to. Why he was so anxious to celebrate that feast at Jerusalem, the historian has not informed us. It is probable, however, that he wished to meet as many of his countrymen as possible, and to remove, if practicable, the prejudices which had everywhere been raised against him, Acts 21:20-21. Perhaps, also, he supposed that there would be many Christian converts present, whom he might meet also.

But I will return ... - This he did Acts 19:1, and remained there three years, Acts 20:31.

21. I must … keep this feast—probably Pentecost, presenting a noble opportunity of preaching the Gospel.

but I will return—the fulfilment of which promise is recorded in Ac 19:1.

This feast; the feast of the passover; which is meant where feast is put absolutely, unless some after expression qualifies it: not that this holy man did out of conscience to the feast intend to observe it, for Christ is the end of the law to them that believe, Romans 10:4; but because of the vast concourse from all places to Jerusalem at that time, which would give him an opportunity of making Christ known to such multitudes, and to gain their souls unto him.

If God will; though he was an apostle, and had the Spirit of prophecy, and might know whether he should return or no, yet he does not absolutely promise them to return to them, but conditionally, if the Lord will; to teach us what caution we should use in all our promises and resolutions, as Jam 4:15, being we know not what a day may bring forth. Besides, in our owning of God’s will and pleasure, we acknowledge a providence of God in all things, especially in our concerns, which we desire to refer all unto. But bade them farewell, saying,.... As follows:

I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem; which perhaps was the passover, since that often went by the name of the feast: the why he must by all means keep it, was not because it was obligatory upon him; nor did he always observe it, as appears from his long stay at Corinth, and other places; and besides, as a Christian, he had nothing to do with it; but either because of his vow, Acts 18:18 or because he knew he should have an opportunity of preaching the Gospel to great numbers; the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions omit this clause:

but I will return again unto you, if God will; he promises to return to them, but not peremptorily as knowing that he was altogether subject to the will of God, who disposes and orders all things according to his sovereign pleasure; see James 4:15 and he sailed from Ephesus; which was near the Aegean sea: such was the situation of Ephesus, according to Apollonius (f); who says, that it stood out to the sea, which encompassed the land on which it was built; so Pausanias (g) relates, that Lysimachus passing into Asia by shipping, took the kingdom of Antigonus from him, and built the city the Ephesians now inhabit near the sea; so Josephus (h) reports of Herod and Agrippa, that travelling by land to Phrygia Major, they came to Ephesus, and again, "they sailed from Ephesus" to Samos.

(f) Philostrat. Vita Apollonii, l. 8. c. 3.((g) Attica sive, l. 1. p. 16. (h) Antiqu. l. 16. c. 2. sect. 2.

But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, {m} if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus.

(m) So we should promise nothing without this clause, for we do not know what the following day will bring forth.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 18:21. What feast was meant by τὴν ἑορτὴν τὴν ἐρχομ. must remain undetermined, as δεῖ με πάντως does not allow us absolutely to exclude the winter season dangerous for navigation, and as the indefinite ἡμέρας ἱκανάς, Acts 18:18—which period is not included in the one and a half years (see on Acts 18:11)—prevents an exact reckoning. It is commonly supposed to be either Easter or Pentecost. The latter by Anger, de temp. rat. p. 60 ff., and Wieseler, p. 48 ff. The former (Ewald) is at least not to be inferred from the use of the article “the feast,” which in general (Fritzsche, ad Matth. p. 804), and here specially on account of the addition τὴν ἐρχομ., would be an uncertain ground. The motive, also, of the determination indicated by δεῖ is completely unknown.

ποιεῖν] as in Acts 18:23; see on Acts 15:33.

εἰς Ἱεροσόλ.] see Winer, p. 387 [E. T. 518].

πάλιν δὲ κ.τ.λ.] which took place, Acts 19:1.Acts 18:21. See critical note. The Feast, as Ramsay maintains, St. Paul, p. 264 (so Ewald, Renan, Zöckler, Rendall, Blass and others), was the Passover, the one which seems most reconcilable with the chronology; others maintain Pentecost, so Anger, Alford, Wieseler, Plumptre—see Alford, in loco, and Turner, Chron. of the N. T., p. 422; Lewin favours Tabernacles.—ἀνακάμψω, cf. Acts 19:1 : used by St. Luke, Luke 10:6, Matthew 2:12, Hebrews 11:15; used also several times in LXX, Jud.ges11:39 A, 2 Samuel 8:13, 1 Kings 12:20, Job 39:4, Sus. 14, and other instances, so in classical Greek, to return to a place, Herod., ii. 8.—τοῦ Θ. θέλ., cf. 1 Corinthians 4:19; 1 Corinthians 16:17, Jam 4:15. Not only amongst Jews and Arabs but amongst Greeks and Romans similar phrases were in vogue, see Meyer’s note on Jam 4:15; see critical note on β.—ἀνήχθη, see above on Acts 13:13.21. but bade them farewell] This is the same verb as in Acts 18:18, and should be rendered in the same way. “But took his leave of them.” The oldest authorities and the best modern editors, followed by the Revised Version, omit a large portion of the verse, reading thus: “but taking his leave of them, and saying, I will return again unto you, if God will, he set sail from Ephesus.” The words thus omitted are deemed to have been an insertion suggested by Acts 20:16. It is not only on the authority of a small number of uncials that the words are rejected; their omission is supported by several cursives, as well as by the Vulgate and some other versions.

There has been much discussion on the question whether it was the feast of the Passover or the Pentecost which the Apostle desired to keep in Jerusalem. If we accept the omission, as the authorities seem fully to warrant, the question is not raised.

I will return again unto you] Having the opportunity, he soon redeemed his promise, see Acts 19:1.Acts 18:21. Εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα, in Jerusalem[110]) To this is to be referred Acts 18:22. The particular feast is not expressed in this passage: several years after (from Miletus) he hastened thither to keep Pentecost: ch. Acts 20:16.—ἀνακάμψω), I will return) He did so: ch. Acts 19:1. In the interim their longings for him increased.

[110] The larger Ed. had preferred the shorter reading in this place; but Ed. 2 and Germ. Vers. agree with the Gnomon.—E. B.

ABEe Vulg. Memph. Theb. omit from δεῖ με to εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα. Dd, with the Rec. Text, support the words.—E. and T.Verse 21. - Taking his leave of them, and saying for bade them farewell, saying, A.V.; I will return for I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem; but I will return, A.V. and T.R.; he set sail for and he sailed, A.V. and T.R. Taking his leave; as in ver. 18, note. I must by all means, etc. This clause is not found in א, A, B, E, and several versions, and is omitted in the R.T. But Alford, Meyer, Wordsworth, and others consider it to be genuine. It is certainly difficult to account for such words being inserted in the text if they were not genuine; whereas it is easy to account for their omission, either by accident or from the fact that the brevity of the allusion to his visit to Jerusalem in ver. 22 might easily mislead a copyist into thinking that St. Paul did not go to Jerusalem at this time, and therefore that the words were misplaced. Observe how St. Paul's fixed purpose to reach Jerusalem as soon as possible tallies with the account of his vow. This feast (A.V.). It is not clear what feast is meant. Alford, Wordsworth, ' Speaker's Commentary,' and others, following Wieseler, think it was the Feast of Pentecost, being influenced by the consideration that sailing was dangerous and very unusual so early as before the Passover. But Meyer thinks it uncertain. But the expression, "I must by all means," would cover the risk of a voyage in the stormy season. I will return again. The fulfillment of this promise is related in Acts 19:1, etc. If God will (see James 4:13-15). I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem

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