Acts 19:39
But if you inquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(39) It shall be determined in a lawful assembly.—Better, in the lawful assembly. The argument is that, should the alleged grievance be one that called for legislative rather than judicial action, the matter would have to be referred to the regular meeting of the ecclesia, which the town-clerk had probably the right to summon. There they could present their gravamen, and petition for redress. Here also the inscriptions discovered by Mr. Wood (vi. 6, p. 50) give an interesting illustration of the official phraseology. An image of Athena is to be placed “above the bench where the boys sit,” at “every lawful (or regular) ecclesia.”

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.But if we inquire - If you seek to determine any other matters than that pertaining to the alleged wrong which Demetrius has suffered in his business.

Other matters - Anything respecting public affairs; anything pertaining to the government and the worship of Diana.

In a lawful assembly - In an assembly convened, not by tumult and riot, but in conformity to law. This was a tumultuous assemblage, and it was proper in the public officer to demand that they should disperse; and that, if there were any public grievances to be remedied, it should be done in an assembly properly convened. It may be remarked here that the original word rendered assembly is what is usually in the New Testament rendered church - ἐκκλησία ekklēsia. It is properly rendered by the word "assembly" - not denoting here "a mixed or tumultuous assemblage, but one called out, or convened in the legal manner." The proper meaning of the word is "what is called out." "The church, the Christian assembly ἐκκλησία ekklēsia of the faithful," is made up of those who are called out from the world.

39. if ye inquire—"have any question."

concerning other matters—of a public nature.

Other matters; relating to the good government of the city, or maintaining the established religion, which ought not in such a confused manner to be treated of, but in an assembly called by lawful authority, which the Romans did usually call, at least, three times every month. But if ye inquire anything concerning other matters,.... Than what belongs to the craft and business of Demetrius, and the artificers:

it shall be determined in a lawful assembly; that is, called together according to law, and who have a right to hear, try, and judge causes, which such a confused lawless assembly as this in the theatre had not.

But if ye enquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a {r} lawful assembly.

(r) He speaks of a lawful assembly not only to speak against the disordered tumult of the people, but also against all meeting and coming together which was not by order: for there were certain days appointed to call people together in.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 19:39-40. But if you desire anything further thereupon (beyond matters of private law), it will be discussed (cleared up) in the lawful assembly of the people (“qui a magistratu civitatis convocatur et regitur,” Grotius; in contrast to this illegal concourse, comp. on Acts 19:32; Acts 19:30). On περαιτέρω (see the critical remarks), comp. Plat. Phaed. p. 107 B: οὐδὲν ζητήσετε περαιτέρω.

καὶ γὰρ κινδυν.] for we even run the risk of being charged with tumult (στάσεως: genitive of accusation) on account of this day. γάρ gives the reason why the speaker in the latter case (Acts 19:39) has relegated the matter to the ἔννομος ἐκκλησ. τῆς σήμερον is not to be connected with στάσεως (Vulgate, Luther, Calvin, and others).[105]

μηδενὸς αἰτίουταύτης] there being no reason, on the ground of which we shall be in a position to give account of this concourse. μηδ. αἰτίου, taken as masculine (Vulgate), would less accord with the prudence of the speaker, who with wise forbearance clothes the threatening in a form embracing others, including his own responsibility.

Very wisely, on the whole, has the politically adroit man of business, in the first instance, by way of capitatio benevolentiae praised the Ephesian worship of Diana in its unendangered world-wide fame (Acts 19:35); then from this inferred the unseemliness of such a hasty proceeding (Acts 19:36-37); further, pointed Demetrius and his companions to the legal form of procedure in their case (Acts 19:38-39); and finally, put on the people the lasting curb of the fear of Roman punishment (Acts 19:40).

καὶ ταῦτα εἰπὼν κ.τ.λ.] οὕτως ἔσβεσε τὸν θυμόν· ὥσπερ γὰρ ῥαδίως ἐξάπτεται, οὕτω καὶ ῥαδίως σβέννυται, Chrysostom.

How lightly Baur deprives this whole history of its historical character, may be seen in his Paulus, I. p. 217, ed. 2.

[105] So also Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 154 [E. T. 177]. Certainly the στάσεως στάσεως is in keeping with ἐγκαλεῖσθαι περί τινος, Acts 23:29, Acts 26:7. But it may he urged, on the other hand, that such a position of the preposition after the noun (Krüger, § lxviii. 4. 2; Kühner, § 626) is not usual in the N.T., and also that the γραμματεύς in his speech was too diplomatically prudent to designate, on his part, the affair exactly as a tumult (στάσις). In his mouth it is only a concourse (συστροφή).—We may add, that in Greek writers προσκαλεῖσθαι, with the simple genitive, is the usual expression.Acts 19:39. εἰ δέ τι περὶ ἑτέρων: if we read περαιτέρω, cf. Plato, Phædo, p. 107 B, the meaning is anything further than an accusation against an individual, a public and not a personal matter: if they desired to get any resolution passed with regard to the future conduct of citizens and of resident non-citizens in this matter, see Ramsay, Expositor, February, 1896, reading περαιτ.—ἐπιλυθήσεται (cf. Mark 4:34), nowhere else in N.T. (the verb is found in LXX, Aquila, Genesis 40:8; Genesis 41:8; Genesis 41:12; Th., Hos., Acts 3:4; Philo., Jos.).—τῇ ἐννόμῳ ἐκκλησίᾳ: “the regular assembly,” R.V. Mr. Wood, Ephesus, App., p. 38, quotes an inscription in which it was enjoined that a statue of Minerva should be placed in a certain spot, κατὰ πᾶσαν ἔννομον ἐκκλησίαν. But A.V. has “the lawful assembly”: which is the better rendering? “regular” seems to restrict us to νόμιμοι ἐκκλησίαι held on stated customary days, and to exclude from the secretary’s statement any reference to extraordinary meetings, meetings summoned for special business, whereas he would be likely to use a term which would cover all legal meetings. But on the other hand Blass quotes the phrase given above from the inscriptions, and explains ἔννομοι ἐκκλησίαι sunt, quæ ex lege certis diebus fiebant (so too Wendt, Lightfoot); and if this is correct, “regular” would be the more appropriate rendering, ἔννομος = νόμιμος. But in Ephesus we have to consider how far the old Greek assembly ἐκκλησία was or was not under the control of the imperial government. In considering this with reference to the special incident before us, Ramsay, with whom Wendt agrees, p. 321 (1899), gives good reason for regarding the “regular” as equivalent to the “lawful” assemblies: i.e., extraordinary assemblies which in the Greek period had been legal, but were now so no longer through the jealous desire of Rome to control popular assemblies, abroad as at home. The ἐκκλησία could not be summoned without the leave of the Roman officials, and it was not at all likely that that sanction would be extended beyond a certain fixed and regular number, Ramsay, Expositor, February, 1896: “The Lawful Assembly,” and “Ephesus,” Hastings’ B.D., p. 723.39. But if ye inquire any thing concerning other matters] Rev. Ver. But if ye seek anything about other matters. The “seeking” which the townclerk means is by a legal process. If the matter were of such a character as to come before the proconsul, there he was, ready to hear the cause. It was, as we might say, “assize time.” But if the question was of another kind, one for the jurisdiction of the ordinary city courts, then they could apply at the proper time and place.

it shall be determined in a lawful assembly] This conveys a wrong idea to the English reader. Of course the court where the proconsul sat was a “lawful assembly,” though the contrary might be inferred from A.V. The word rendered “lawful” signifies “appointed by law.” The days and time of the meeting of the city courts were defined by law. Thus the Rev. Ver.it shall be settled in the regular assembly” is a better rendering, and distinguishes the ordinary, legal, appointed days of hearing in the regular courts, from the assize of the proconsul.Acts 19:39. Τῆ) the ordinary lawful assembly.Verse 39. - Seek for inquire, A.V.; about for concerning, A.V.; settled for determined, A.V.; the regular for a lawful, A.V. If ye seek, etc (ἐπιζητεῖτε). Ἐπιζητεῖν means either "to make inquiry" or" to desire earnestly." The verb in the next clause, ἐπιλυθήσεται, it shall be "settled," or "solved," favors the first sense: "If you wish to inquire further into the spread of Paul's doctrine, and the best way of dealing with it, the question should be decided in an assembly of the δῆμος, legally convened." For περὶἑτέρων, about other matters, some manuscripts read περαιτέρω, further. The regular assembly. That summoned by a magistrate in the constitutional way. The Greek cities under the Roman government preserved their rights and liberties, and the privilege of popular assemblies. The town clerk, therefore, gave them their choice of either having the case tried before the proconsuls or having it laid before the ecclesia of the demos, if they wished it to be gone into on wider and deeper grounds.
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