Acts 19:38
Why if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them accuse one another.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(38) The law is open.—Literally, the court, or forum, days are going on. The words may either indicate that the proconsul was then actually sitting to hold trials in the agora or forum, or may be taken as a colloquial idiom for “there are court days coming.”

There are deputies.—The Greek word is (as in Acts 13:7; Acts 18:12) the equivalent for proconsul. Strictly speaking, there was only one proconsul in each province, and we must therefore assume either that here also the expression is colloquial, or that the assessors (consiliarii) of the proconsul were popularly so described, or that some peculiar combination of circumstances had led to there being two persons at this time at Ephesus clothed with proconsular authority. There are some grounds for adopting the last alternative. Junius Silanus, who was Proconsul of Asia when St. Paul arrived in Ephesus (A.D. 54), had been poisoned by Celer and Helius, the two procurators, at the instigation of Agrippina; and it seems probable that they for a time held a joint proconsular authority.

Let them implead one another.—The English word exactly expresses the technical force of the Greek. Demetrius and his followers were to lodge a formal statement of the charge they brought against the accused. They in their turn were to put in a rejoinder, and so joining issue, each side would produce its witnesses.

19:32-41 The Jews came forward in this tumult. Those who are thus careful to distinguish themselves from the servants of Christ now, and are afraid of being taken for them, shall have their doom accordingly in the great day. One, having authority, at length stilled the noise. It is a very good rule at all times, both in private and public affairs, not to be hasty and rash in our motions, but to take time to consider; and always to keep our passions under check. We ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly; to do nothing in haste, of which we may repent at leisure. The regular methods of the law ought always to stop popular tumults, and in well-governed nations will do so. Most people stand in awe of men's judgments more than of the judgement of God. How well it were if we would thus quiet our disorderly appetites and passions, by considering the account we must shortly give to the Judge of heaven and earth! And see how the overruling providence of God keeps the public peace, by an unaccountable power over the spirits of men. Thus the world is kept in some order, and men are held back from devouring each other. We can scarcely look around but we see men act like Demetrius and the workmen. It is as safe to contend with wild beasts as with men enraged by party zeal and disappointed covetousness, who think that all arguments are answered, when they have shown that they grow rich by the practices which are opposed. Whatever side in religious disputes, or whatever name this spirit assumes, it is worldly, and should be discountenanced by all who regard truth and piety. And let us not be dismayed; the Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters; he can still the rage of the people.Have a matter against any man - Have a complaint of injury; if injustice has been done them by anyone.

The law is open - See the margin. Ἀγόραιοι Agoraioi ἄγονται agontai, that is, ἡμέραι hēmerai. There are court-days; days which are open, or appointed for judicial trials, where such matters can be determined in a proper manner. Perhaps the courts were then held, and the matter might be immediately determined.

And there are deputies - Roman proconsuls. See the notes on Acts 13:7. The cause might be brought before them with the certainty that it would be heard and decided. The Syriac reads this in the singular number "Lo, the proconsul is in the city."

Let them implead one another - Let them accuse each other in the court. The laws are equal, and impartial justice will be done.

38. if Demetrius have a matter—of complaint.

against any man, the law is open—rather, "the court days are being held."

and there are deputies—literally "proconsuls" (see on [2063]Ac 13:7); that is, probably, the proconsul and his council, as a court of appeal.

The law is open; which is fittest to determine all questions and controversies; for men would be partial to their own cause, and every one challenge to be in the right.

Deputies; who, under the Roman emperors or consuls, had power to hear and determine of all matters.

Let them implead one another; that so both parties may be heard. Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him,.... Who were the ringleaders and encouragers of this tumult:

have a matter against any man; any accusation, or charge, any crime to accuse him of, and charge him with:

the law is open; or court days are kept; there are certain times fixed for the hearing and trying of causes, where and when such an affair should be regularly brought; and not use such disorderly methods, and throw a city into confusion, and break the peace as these men had done: the Syriac version renders it, "they are artificers"; that is, Demetrius and the craftsmen with him; they are tradesmen, and it does not belong to them, nor should they take upon themselves to judge and determine what is right or wrong:

and there are deputies; or "proconsuls"; the proconsul and his deputy, to whom such matters appertain, and who are judges in such cases, and to whom application should be made, and before whom such cases should be brought, and heard, and tried: the Syriac version reads in the singular number, "and there is a proconsul in the city"; a Roman governor and judge, whose province it is to determine such matters:

let them implead one another; let the plaintiff bring his accusation, and charge, and let the others defend themselves, and let things proceed in a due course of law, and so issue.

Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a {o} matter against any man, the {p} law is open, and there are {q} deputies: let them implead one another.

(o) Have anything to accuse any man of.

(p) For there are certain days appointed for civil causes and matters of judgment, and the deputies sit on those days.

(q) By the deputies are meant also the deputies' substitutes, that is, those who sat for them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 19:38. Οὖν] accordingly, since these men are neither robbers of temples, etc. On ἔχειν πρός τινα λόγον (an utterance, i.e. complaint), see examples in Kypke, II. p. 103.

ἀγοραῖοι] by Griesbach, Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Bornemann, following Suidas, accented ἀγόραιοι (but see on Acts 17:5), are judicial assemblies (in construing it, σύνοδοι is to be conceived as supplied). Comp. Strabo, xiii. p. 629; Vulg.: conventus forenses.

καὶ ἀνθύπατοι εἰσίν] and there are proconsuls. The plural is here also (comp. Acts 17:18) the plural indefinite of the category. Arbitrarily Calvin and Grotius hold that the proconsul and his legate are meant. Bengel correctly says: “de eo quod nunquam non esse soleat.”Acts 19:38. λόγον ἔχουσιν: no exact equivalent elsewhere in N.T., but Grimm (so Kypke) compares Matthew 5:32 (see also Colossians 3:13).—ἀγοραῖοι ἄγονται: “the courts are open,” R.V., perhaps best to understand σύνοδοι, “court-meetings are now going on,” i.e., for holding trials (in the forum or agora); Vulgate, conventus forenses aguntur, the verb being in the present indicative. Or ἡμέραι may alone be supplied = court days are kept, i.e., at certain intervals, not implying at that particular time, but rather a general statement as in the words that follow: “there are proconsuls,” see Page, in loco. For ἄγειν, cf. Luke 24:21, Matthew 14:6, 2Ma 2:16, cf. Strabo, xiii., p. 932, Latin, conventus agere. Alford, so Wendt (1888), speaks of the distinction drawn by the old grammarians between ἀγοραῖος and ἀγόραιος as groundless, but see also Winer-Schmiedel, p. 69.—ἀνθύπατοί εἰσιν: the plural is used: “de eo quod nunquam non esse, soleat,” Bengel (quoted by Blass and Wendt), although strictly there would be only one proconsul at a time. There is no need to understand any assistants of the proconsul, as if the description was meant for them, or, with Lewin, as if there were several persons with proconsular power. It is quite possible that in both clauses the secretary is speaking in a mere colloquial way, as we might say, “There are assizes and there are judges”. Lightfoot calls it “a rhetorical plural” Cont. Rev., p. 295, 1878, and quotes Eur., I. T., 1359, κλέπτοντες ἐκ γῆς ξόανα καὶ θυηπόλους, though there was only one image and one priestess.—ἐγκαλείτωσαν ἀλλήλοις: “accuse,” R.V. The verb need not have a technical legal sense as is implied by “implead” in A.V. So in LXX it may be used quite generally, or of a criminal charge, and so in classical Greek, cf. Wis 12:12 and Sir 46:19. In the N.T. it is used six times in Acts with reference to judicial process, and only once elsewhere by St. Paul in Romans 8:33 in a general sense. The verb only occurs in the second part of Acts in accordance no doubt with the subject-matter; see Hawkins, Horæ Synopticæ, p. 147, note, and Weiss, Einleitung in das N. T., p. 570, note.38. Wherefore if … have a matter against any man] i.e. have any charge which they wish to bring. For the concerns in which they are interested will be such as the legal tribunals can attend to.

the law is open] This gives the general sense. The words are in the plural number and mean either “court-days are appointed,” i.e. there are proper times fixed when such causes can be heard; or perhaps better, because of the verb which seems to imply that the opportunity of legal action is even now open, “court-meetings are now going on.” This the Rev. Ver. appears to have adopted by rendering “the courts are open.”

and there are deputies] The word is the same which in Acts 13:7-8; Acts 13:12 should be rendered “proconsul,” and that word is rightly given here by the Rev. Ver., for Asia was a proconsular province (see on this matter Conybeare and Howson, ii. 78). The difficulty in the present verse has arisen from the use of the plural number, for there was only one proconsul over a province at the same time, and there could only be one in Ephesus when the townclerk was speaking. But if we consider that he is speaking merely of the provision made by the institutions of the empire for obtaining justice in a case of wrong, we can see that his words need not occasion much trouble. “Proconsuls are (he says) an imperial institution. In every province like ours there exists such a supreme magistrate, and so there is no fear about obtaining redress for real injuries.” Another explanation (due to Basnage, and alluded to in the notes of Conybeare and Howson, u. s.) is that after the poisoning of Silanus the proconsul, (as related Tac. An. xiii. 1) Celer and Ælius, who governed the province of Asia as procurators, might be intended by this plural title. Others have thought that there might be present in Ephesus some other proconsul from a neighbouring province, as Cilicia, Cyprus, Bithynia or elsewhere; but what was first said seems the easier explanation.

let them implead one another] Implead is somewhat antiquated now, and the Rev. Ver. substitutes accuse. Of course the accusations would be only from the one side, which the other would be called on to answer.Acts 19:38. Πρός τινα, against any man) The clerk prudently does not name Paul.—ἀγοραῖοι) viz. ἡμέραι.—ἀνθύπατοι, proconsuls) There was but one proconsul at the one time: but the clerk speaks in the plural of that which is wont never to cease to be [a permanent institution, such as the proconsulate].Verse 38. - If therefore for wherefore if, A.V.; that for which, A.V.; the courts are for the law is, A.V.; proconsuls for deputies, A.V.; accuse for implead, A.V. Against any man. Mark the skill with which the town-clerk passes from the concrete to the abstract, and avoids the mention of Paul's name. The courts are open; ἀγοραῖοι (or ἀγόραιοι) ἄγονται. Some supply the word σύνοδοι, and make the sense "judicial assemblies," "sessions," coming round at proper fixed intervals. But the verb ἄγονται, more naturally suggests ἡμέραι, as Bengel says (ἄγειν γενέσια τὰς ἡμέρας τῆς σκηνοπηγίας: Ὀλύμπια: γενέθλιον, etc.), and then the meaning is, "The regular court-days are kept, when the proconsul attends to try causes;" there is no need to have an irregular trial. So Suidas explains it, Ἡμέρα ἐνῇ ἡ ἀγορὰ. There are proconsuls. Bengel, with whom Meyer agrees, thinks the plural denotes the unbroken succession of proconsuls. But Lewin thinks it may mark the exact time of these transactions as being immediately after the poisoning of the Proconsul Junius Silanus by order of Agrippina, when the two procurators, Celer and AElius, exercised the proconsular power till the appointment of another proconsul, according to a law of Claudius to that effect. Others have other explanations. The law is open (ἀγοραῖοι ᾶγονται)

Lit., the court-days are being kept. Rev., the courts are open. Compare Revelation 17:5.

Deputies (ἀνθύπατοι)

Proconsuls, by whom Asia, as a senatorial province, was governed. See Introduction to Luke.

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