Acts 19:40
For we are in danger to be called in question for this day's uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse.
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(40) We are in danger to be called in question.—The “we” as used to include the rioters. The “called in question” is the same verb as that rendered “implead” in Acts 19:38. There was a risk of which Demetrius and his party had to be reminded, that they might find themselves defendants, and not plaintiffs, in a suit. A riotous “concourse” (the town-clerk uses the most contemptuous word he can find, “this mob meeting”) taking the law into its own hands was not an offence which the proconsuls were likely to pass over lightly. It would hardly be thought a legitimate excuse that they had got hold of two Jews and wanted to “lynch” them.

An interesting inscription of the date of Trajan, from an aqueduct at Ephesus, gives nearly all the technical terms that occur in the town-clerk’s speech, and so far confirms the accuracy of St. Luke’s report: “This has been dedicated by the loyal and devoted Council of the Ephesians, and the people that serve the temple (Neôkoros), Peducæus Priscinus being proconsul, by the decree of Tiberius Claudius Italicus, the town-clerk of the people.”

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.To be called in question - By the government; by the Roman authority. Such a tumult, continued for so long. a time, would be likely to attract the attention of the magistrates, and expose them to their displeasure. Popular commotions were justly dreaded by the Roman government; and such an assembly as this, convened without any good cause, would not escape their notice. There was a Roman law which made it capital for anyone to be engaged in promoting a riot. Sui coetum, et concursum fecerit, capite puniatur: "He who raises a mob, let him be punished with death." 40. For we—the public authorities.

are in danger of being called in question—by our superiors.

He wisely minds them of their danger; for being under the power of the Romans, it was no less than the loss of their liberties to abet any faction or sedition; and to make a concourse or meeting tumultuously together, was capital, unless it were upon the sudden invasion of an enemy, or to but out some raging fire. For we are in danger of being called in question,.... Or are liable to be called to an account, reproved, and punished by the Roman proconsul, appointed over this city, or by the Roman emperor, or the Roman senate: for this day's uproar; it being capable of being interpreted as a riot, tumult, and sedition:

there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse: or no reason can be assigned, why such a number of people should gather together; none can be given that will justify it, or that can be alleged in favour of it.

For we are in danger to be called in question for this day's uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse.
Acts 19:40. ἐγκαλεῖσθαι στάσεως περὶ τῆς σήμερον, A.V., “to be called in question for this day’s uproar,” but R.V., “to be accused concerning this day’s riot,” rendering ἐγκαλ., as in Acts 19:38, and στάσεως, as in Mark 15:7. θόρυβος being rather the word for uproar or tumult, cf. Vulgate: “argui seditionis hodiernæ”. But a further question arises from the marginal rendering of R.V., “to be accused of riot concerning this day”: so Page, Meyer-Wendt, Zöckler. But Blass, Weiss, Rendall, so Ram say: “to be accused of riot concerning this day’s assembly,” sc., ἐκκλησία, although Blass thinks it still better to omit περὶ τῆς altogether, and to connect σήμερον with ἐγκαλ., cf. Acts 4:9.—μηδενὸς αἰτίου ὑπάρχοντος: with this punctuation R.V. renders “there being no cause for it,” taking αἰτίου as neuter, and closely connecting the phrase with the foregoing, so W. H. Overbeck (so Felten, Rendall) takes αἰτίου as masculine: “there being no man guilty by reason of whom,” etc., and Wendt considers that the rendering cannot be altogether excluded. Vulgate has “cum nullus obnoxius sit”. But αἰτίου may be strictly a noun neuter from αἴτιον = αἰτία, and not an adjective as the last-mentioned rendering demands, cf. Plummer on Luke 23:4; Luke 23:14; Luke 23:22, and nowhere else in N.T., so Moulton and Geden, who give the adjective αἴτιος only in Hebrews 5:9.—περὶ οὗ δυνησόμεθα: Ramsay (so Meyer and Zöckler) follows T.R. and Bezan text in omitting the negative οὐ before δυν., but see on the other hand Wendt (1899), p. 322; and critical note. R.V. (introducing negative οὐ, so Weiss and Wendt) renders “and as touching it we shall not be able to give account of this concourse”.—συστροφῆς, Polyb., iv., 34, 6, of a seditious meeting or mob. In Acts 23:12 used of a conspiracy; cf. LXX, Psalm 63:2, Amos 7:10.40. For we are in danger to be called in question for this day’s uproar. The A. V. seems here to be incorrect. ‘The word for “uproar” ought not to be joined with “this day.” The construction is contrary to N. T. usage, and the adoption of it has caused some violence to be done to the other words. The verb rendered “called in question” is the verb used in Acts 19:38 in the sense of “accuse,” while the word for “uproar” means “riot,” “sedition.” So the Rev. Ver. gives, as an alternative version, “For indeed we are in danger to be accused of riot concerning this day.” Of course the town-clerk did not want himself to call it riot, but he intimates to them that other people may do so. He only styles it a “concourse.”

there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse] Here the readings of the oldest MSS. raise a considerable difficulty. Their repetition of οὐ after περὶ οὖ gives another form to the sentence altogether. But it is not possible to decide with certainty whether the two letters in question should or should not be part of the text. Westcott and Hort place them in their text, but do not think that thus the reading is correct. The rendering of the Received Text is that of the A.V. The text with the additional οὐ is translated in the Rev. Ver.there being no cause for it: and as touching it we shall not be able to give account of this concourse.”

But the alternative rendering of the Rev. Ver. given above for the first clause of the verse may be taken, with the rendering of the Text, Recept. in the second clause. The Rev. Ver. adheres to “this day’s riot,” but this involves a transposition of the preposition in the Greek, of which no other example is found in the N. T.Acts 19:40. Τῆς σήμερον) viz. ἡμέρας: ch. Acts 20:26, ἐν τῇ σήμερον.—αἰτίου) The Vulgate takes this in the masculine gender: but the neuter in this book is frequent.—περὶ οὗ οὐ δυνησόμεθα) A double negation: ch. Acts 10:47, κωλῦσαι τοῦ μὴ βαπτισθῆναι τούτους.—συστροφῆς) which has the appearance of a στάσις, insurrection. The mild term is prudently used by the clerk.Verse 40. - For indeed for for, A.V.; accused for called in question, A.V.; concerning for for, A.V.; riot for uproar, A.V.; for it for whereby, A.V.; and as touching it we shall not be able to for we may, A.V. and T.R.; account for an account, A.V. We are in danger (κινδυνεύομεν: see ver. 27, note). To be accused concerning this day's riot. The Greek cannot well be so construed. The margin is right; ἐγκαλεῖσθαι στάσεως is "to be charged with sedition;" περὶ τῆς σήμερον is for τῆς σήμερον ἡμέρας, "this day," as in Acts 20:26, τῇ σήμερον ἡμέρᾳ: only in English we should say, "on account of this day," i.e. what has been done this day. The R.T. places a stop after μηδενὸς αἰτίου ὑπάχοντοςρ As touching it. But "it" must mean "the riot," which is feminine, whereas οϋ is masculine; so that the R.T. is impossible to construe. It is much better, therefore, to adhere to the T.R., which has good manuscript authority, and to construe as the A.V. Whereby, equivalent to "on the ground of which" (Meyer). With regard to the great tumult to which the foregoing narrative relates, it is certain that St. Luke has by no means exaggerated its importance. In his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, written from Macedonia shortly after his departure from Ephesus, St. Paul speaks as one still smarting under the severity of his sufferings. In the language of trust, yet of a trust sorely tried, he speaks of the Father of mercies" who comforteth us in all our tribulation." He speaks of the sufferings of Christ as abounding in him. And then, referring directly to the trouble which came upon him in Asia, he says, "We were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: but we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: who delivered us from so great a death" (2 Corinthians 1:4-10). And the same tone breaks out again in 2 Corinthians 4:7-18; 2 Corinthians 6:4-10; 2 Corinthians 11:23-27; 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10. It is also very probable that it was on this occasion that Priscilla and Aquila saved St. Paul's life at the risk of their own, to which he alludes in Romans 16:3, 4, written after he had reached Corinth from Macedonia, i.e. before Easter of the year So that it is certain that the riot and the danger to St. Paul's life were even greater than we should have inferred from St. Luke's narrative alone. It should be added, with reference to the three years residence at Ephesus (Acts 20:21) which this nineteenth chapter describes, that one or two important incidents which occurred are not related by St. Luke. The first is that encounter with a savage rabble to which St. Paul refers in 1 Corinthians 15:32, but of which we have no account in the Acts. It must have happened in the early part of his sojourn at Ephesus. Another is a probable visit to Corinth, inferred from 2 Corinthians 2:1; 2 Corinthians 12:14, 21; 2 Corinthians 13:1, 2; and thought to have been caused by bad accounts of the moral state of the Corinthian Church, sent to him at Ephesus. It was probably a hasty visit, and in contrast with it he says, in 1 Corinthians 16:7, with reference to his then coming visit, "I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you." It is also thought that there was another letter to the Corinthians, written from Ephesus, soon after that second visit, which is now lost, but is alluded to in 1 Corinthians 5:9. The First Epistle to the Corinthians was manifestly written at this time from Ephesus (see 1 Corinthians 16:8, 19). Some think that the Epistle to the Galatians was also written from Ephesus, a little before the First Epistle to the Corinthians (see 1 Corinthians 16:1; Galatians 2:10); but Renan thinks it was written from Antioch, before he came to Ephesus.

Concourse (συστροφῆς)

Lit., a twisting together: hence of anything which is rolled or twisted into a mass; and so of a mass of people, with an underlying idea of confusion: a mob. Compare Acts 23:12.

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