Acts 2:10
Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,
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(10) Strangers of Rome . . .—Better, the Romans who were sojourning therei.e., at Jerusalem. The verb is peculiar to St. Luke in the New Testament, and is used by him, as in Acts 17:18, of the strangers and visitors of a city.

Jews and proselytes.—The words may possibly be applicable to the whole preceding list; but they read more like a note specially emphasising the prominence of the Roman proselytes in that mixed multitude of worshippers. It lies in the nature of the case, that they were proselytes in the full sense of the term, circumcised and keeping the Law. Looking to St. Luke’s use of another word (they that worship God,” as in Acts 16:14; Acts 17:4; Acts 17:17) for those whom the Rabbis classed as “proselytes of the gate,” it is probable that he used the term in its strictest sense for those who had been received into the covenant of Israel, and who were known in the Rabbinic classification as the “proselytes of righteousness.”

2:5-13 The difference in languages which arose at Babel, has much hindered the spread of knowledge and religion. The instruments whom the Lord first employed in spreading the Christian religion, could have made no progress without this gift, which proved that their authority was from God.Phrygia, and Pamphylia - These were also two provinces of Asia Minor. Phrygia was surrounded by Galatia, Cappadocia, and Pisidia. Pamphylia was on the Mediterranean, and was bounded north by Pisidia. The language of all these places was doubtless the Greek, more or less pure.

In Egypt - This was that extensive country, well known, on the south of the Mediterranean, watered by the Nile. It extends 600 miles from north to south, and from 100 to 120 miles east and west. The language used there was the Coptic tongue. At present the Arabic is spoken. Vast numbers of Jews dwelt in Egypt, and many from that country would be present at the great feasts at Jerusalem. In this country the first translation of the Old Testament was made, which is now called the Septuagint.

In the parts of Libya - Libya is a general name for Africa. It properly denoted the region which was near to Egypt; but the Greeks gave the name to all Africa.

About Cyrene - This was a region about 500 miles west of Alexandria in Egypt. It was also called Pentapolis, because there were in it five celebrated cities. This country now belongs to Tripoli. Great numbers of Jews resided here. A Jew of this place, Simon by name, was compelled to bear our Saviour's cross after him to the place of crucifixion, Matthew 27:32; Luke 23:26. Some of the Cyrenians are mentioned among the earliest Christians, Acts 11:20; Acts 13:1. The language which they spoke is not certainly known.

Strangers of Rome - This literally means "Romans dwelling or tarrying," that is, at Jerusalem. It may mean either that they were permanently fixed, or only tarrying at Jerusalem - ὁι ἐπιδημοῦντες Ῥωμαῖοι hoi epidēmōuntes Rōmaioi. They were doubtless Jews who had taken up their residence in Italy, and had come to Jerusalem to attend the great feasts. The language which they spoke was the Latin. Great numbers of Jews were at that time dwelling at Rome. Josephus says that there were eight synagogues there. The Jews are often mentioned by the Roman writers. There was a Jewish colony across the Tiber from Rome. When Judea was conquered, about 60 years before Christ, vast numbers of Jews were taken captive and carried to Rome. But they had much difficulty in managing them as slaves. They pertinaciously adhered to their religion, observed the Sabbath, and refused to join in the idolatrous rites of the Romans. Hence, they were freed, and lived by themselves across the Tiber.

Jews - Native-born Jews, or descendants of Jewish families.

Proselytes - Those who had been converted to the Jewish religion from among the Gentiles. The great zeal of the Jews to make proselytes is mentioned by our Saviour as one of the special characteristics of the Pharisees, Matthew 23:15. Some have supposed that the expression "Jews and proselytes" refers to the Romans only. But it is more probable that reference is made to all those that are mentioned. It has the appearance of a hurried enumeration; and the writer evidently mentioned them as they occurred to his mind, just as we would in giving a rapid account of so many different nations.

9-11. Parthians, &c.—Beginning with the farthest east, the Parthians, the enumeration proceeds farther and farther westward till it comes to Judea; next come the western countries, from Cappadocia to Pamphylia; then the southern, from Egypt to Cyrene; finally, apart from all geographical consideration, Cretes and Arabians are placed together. This enumeration is evidently designed to convey an impression of universality [Baumgarten]. Strangers of Rome, who came either to Jerusalem to worship, or for any other business. It is evident that many in or about the city of Rome had embraced the Jewish religion; and of them it may be understood.

Jews: the others, mentioned Acts 2:9, were such as then dwelt in Judea; these were such as lived elsewhere, only now came to worship or sojourn there.

Proselytes; these were of two sorts: the one, such as came over from paganism unto the Jewish religion, and were bound only to observe the precepts of Noah, and enjoyed a liberty to buy and sell, live and converse, amongst the Jews: hence they were called proselytes of the gate. The other were called proselytes of righteousness; for these were circumcised, and took upon them the observation of the whole law of Moses, and had all the privileges belonging to the people of God. Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt,.... Phrygia was a country in Asia, and had part of Galatia on the north, Lycaonia, Pisidia, and Mygdonia on the south, and on the east Cappadocia (x); here the Apostle Paul afterwards travelled, and strengthened the Christians; see Acts 16:6. Pamphylia, now called Setilia, is another country in Asia, formerly called Mopsopia (y); which had on the west Lycia, and part of Asia, on the north Galatia, on the east Cilicia, and part of Cappadocia, and on the south the sea of Pamphylia (z), of which mention is made in Acts 27:5. The chief city in it was Perga, where was a temple of Diana (a), and here the Apostle Paul also was; see Acts 13:13. Others of these sojourning Jews lived in Egypt, which was a large country in Africa; which had on the east the deserts of Arabia, on the west Libya, on the south Ethiopia, and on the north the Mediterranean sea; hither many Jews were carried captive by Ptolomy Lagus, and these spoke the Egyptian language:

and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene; there were others at Jerusalem, which came from hence, The Arabic version reads this clause, "and in the parts of Africa, which is our country"; and Pliny says (b), the Greeks call Africa, Libya. The Jews say (c), Libya in Egypt; and for proselytes from Libya, they wait three generations; that is, before they receive them: Cyrene, or Cyreniaca, which is no other than upper Libya, is called by Pliny (d), the Pentapolitan country, from the five cities in it; Berenice, Arsinoe, Ptolemais, Apollonia, and Cyrene: to these are added,

and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes; that is, as the Syriac version renders it, "those that came from Rome"; to which the Arabic agrees: they were natives and inhabitants of the city of Rome, though now they were at Jerusalem; and some of these were Jews by birth, and lineal descent, though born at Rome; and others were such as were proselytes of righteousness, who were originally Gentiles, but were now circumcised, and had embraced the Jewish religion; concerning such; see Gill on Matthew 23:15. These doubtless spoke in the Roman, or Latin tongue,

(x) Plin. l. 5. c. 32. (y) Ib. c. 27. (z) Ptolom. l. 5. c. 5. (a) Plin. l. 5. c. 27. Ptolom, ib. &. Mela, l. 1. c. 14. (b) Plin. l. 5. in principio. (c) T. Hieros. Kilaim, fol. 31. 3. & Sabbat, fol. 7. 2.((d) L. 5. c. 5.

Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, {f} Jews and proselytes,

(f) By Jews he means those that were both Jews by birth and Jews by profession of religion, though they were born in other places: and these latter ones were proselytes, who were born Gentiles, and embraced the Jewish religion.

Acts 2:10. Αἴγυπτον, Egypt) This region especially abounded in Jews.—τὰ μέρη, the parts) more than one.—Κυρήνην, Cyrene) a city of Libya towards the west, and therefore in a part of Libya even more remote.—οἱ ἐπιδημοῦντες Ῥωμαῖοι, strangers of Rome) Born at Rome, but now having their residence at Jerusalem. These seem to have come to Jerusalem after the rest previously enumerated. The Romans alone of the Europeans are now mentioned.Verse 10. - In Phrygia for Phrygia, A.V.; the parts for in the parts, A.V.; sojourners from for strangers of, A.V.; both Jews for Jews, A.V. Asia; i.e. "the western coast region of Asia Minor, including Caria, Lydia, and Mysia" (Meyer). "Ionia and Lydia, of which Ephesus was the capital, called Proconsular Asia" (Wordsworth and 'Speaker's Commentary.' See Acts 20:16, 18; Revelation 1:4, etc.). Egypt, etc. These represent the third great dispersion, that effected by Ptolemy Lagus. Some of this part of the dispersion are mentioned as very hostile to Stephen (Acts 6:9). "Two-fifths of the population of Alexandria were Jews." "Jews formed one quarter of the population of Cyrene" ('Speaker's Commentary.') See Matthew 27:32 and Acts 13:1). And sojourners from Rome, both Jews and proselytes. The copula and couples the οἱ ἐπιδημοῦντες Ῥωμαῖοι with the οἱ κατοικοῦντες τὴν Μεσοποταμίαν, etc., of ver. 9. It is literally, those of us who are Roman sojourners at Jerusalem, whether Jews by race or proselytes. They were equally Roman sojourners, whether they were Jews whose home was at Rome or whether they were proselytes; and it is an interesting fact that there were such proselytes in the great capital of the heathen world. Sojourners, as in Acts 17:21, the strangers sojourning at Athens. Many good commentators - Alford, Meyer, Lechler (in Lange, 'Bibel Works'), etc. - take the words "Jews and proselytes" as applying to the whole preceding list, not to the Roman sojourners only; but in that case one would not expect Cretans and Arabians to follow. Egypt

Where the Jews were numerous. Two-fifths of the population of Alexandria were said to have been Jews.


In Libya, west of Egypt.

Strangers (ἐπιδημοῦντες)

See on 1 Peter 1:1. Rev., rightly, sojourners.

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