Acts 20:3
And there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia.
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(3) When the Jews laid wait for him . . .—In sailing for Syria, Cenchreæ would naturally be the port of embarkation, and St. Paul’s presence there may reasonably be connected with the mention of Phœbe, the deaconess of that church, in Romans 16:1. His intention was, however, frustrated. The malignant Jews of Corinth watched their opportunity. At Cenchreæ, amid the stir and bustle of a port, they might do what they had failed to do before. Here there was no Gallio to curb their fury, and throw the ægis of his tolerant equity over their victim. Their plans were laid, and their victim was to be seized and made away with as he was on the point of embarking. On hearing of the plot, the Apostle had to change his plans, and started with his companions for Macedonia, either travelling by land or taking a ship bound for one of its ports, instead of the one bound for Cæsarea, or Tyre, or Joppa. It is clear that the latter course would have baffled his murderers quite as much as the former.

Acts 20:3. And there — Namely, in Greece; he abode three months — Meeting, it seems, with business there as he often did in other places, which detained him longer than he expected. During this time, he received from the churches of Achaia the money which they had collected for the saints in Judea, agreeably to his direction to the Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 16:1-3. At this time also he wrote his epistle to the Romans, of whose affairs he had heard by Aquila and Priscilla. For, it plainly appears, that epistle was written before his imprisonment at Rome; and in it he speaks of a collection made by the churches of Macedonia and Achaia, with which he was hastening to Jerusalem, Romans 15:25-27; a circumstance which fixes it to this time. It appears, also, from Romans 16:21, that Timothy and Sosipater (or Sopater, one of the noble Bereans) were with him when that epistle was written, which agrees with verse four of this chapter, by which we find they both attended him into Asia. And when the Jews had laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he — Upon this account; purposed Εγενετο γνωμη, the thought, or design, occurred, or he conceived the intention; to return through Macedonia — The fact seems to be, that having finished all his matters in Greece, he had proposed to sail directly into Syria. But the Jews, who had heard of the money he was carrying to Jerusalem; and who, besides, hated him as an enemy to their religion, lying in wait for him in Cenchrea, the eastern port of Corinth, where he was to embark, he changed his resolution. So that avoiding that port, which was about nine miles from Corinth, he returned by land, through Macedonia, in such time that he left Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and so began his voyage into Syria.

20:1-6 Tumults or opposition may constrain a Christian to remove from his station or alter his purpose, but his work and his pleasure will be the same, wherever he goes. Paul thought it worth while to bestow five days in going to Troas, though it was but for seven days' stay there; but he knew, and so should we, how to redeem even journeying time, and to make it turn to some good account.And there abode - Why he remained here is unknown. It is probable that while in Greece he wrote the Epistle to the Romans. Compare Romans 15:25-27.

And when the Jews laid wait for him - There was a design formed against him by the Jews, which they sought to execute. Why they formed this purpose the historian has not informed us.

As he was about to sail - It would seem from this, that the design of the Jews was to attack the ship in which he was about to sail, or to arrest him on shipboard. This fact determined him to take a much more circuitous route by land, so that the churches of Macedonia were favored with another visit from him.

Into Syria - On his way to Jerusalem.

He purposed ... - He resolved to avoid the snare which they had laid for him, and to return by the same way in which he had come into Greece.

3. And there abode three months—Though the province only is here mentioned, it is the city of Corinth that is meant, as the province of "Macedonia" (Ac 20:1) meant the city of Philippi. Some rough work he anticipated on his arrival at Corinth (2Co 10:1-8, 11; 13:1-10) though he had reason to expect satisfaction on the whole; and as we know there were other churches in Achaia besides that at Corinth (2Co 1:1; 11:10), he would have time enough to pay them all a brief visit during the three months of his stay there. This period was rendered further memorable by the despatch of the Epistle to the Romans, written during his stay at Corinth and sent by "Phœbe, a servant [deaconess] of the Church at Cenchrea" (see on [2068]Ac 18:3), a lady apparently of some standing and substance, who was going thither on private business. (See on [2069]Ro 16:1 and see [2070]Introduction to Romans).

And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria—He had intended to embark, probably at Cenchrea, the eastern harbor of the city, for Palestine, on his route to Jerusalem, the third part of his plan (Ac 19:21). But having detected some conspiracy against his life by his bitter Jewish enemies as at Damascus (Ac 9:22-25) and Jerusalem (Ac 9:29, 30), he changed his plan and determined "to return" as he had come, "through Macedonia." As he was never more to return to Corinth, so this route would bring him, for the last time, face to face with the attached disciples of Berea, Thessalonica, and Philippi.

The Jews laid wait for him; some have thought that their laying in wait might be to rob him of the collections which he carried with him for the saints at Jerusalem; but most likely it was rather to take away his life, whom they hated for his zeal and diligence in the gospel.

He purposed to return; slunning their treachery and plotting against him. He would not tempt God by running into dangers, though his cause were never so good.

Through Macedonia; being the same way that he had come to Corinth.

And there abode three months,.... In Greece:

and when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria; from some part of Greece, in order to go to Jerusalem; which the Jews in the parts of Greece understanding, laid wait for him, either by sea or land, with an intention either to take the money from him, which he had collected in Macedonia, and in Greece, for the poor saints at Jerusalem, or to take away his life, or both; of which lying in wait for him, the apostle had some notice, either by divine revelation, or from somebody who was in the secret, or had got knowledge of it from such as were: upon which he

purposed to return through Macedonia; through which he came from Ephesus to Greece: this wicked design being made known to him, obliged him, in point of prudence, and both for his own safety, and the good of the churches, to alter his scheme, and steer his course another way, to the disappointment of his enemies; in which the wisdom of providence, the care of God over his ministers, and his concern for his churches manifestly appeared.

{2} And there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia.

(2) A perverse zeal is the guider and instructor to murderers: and we are not excluded by the wisdom of God to prevent the endeavours of wicked men.

Acts 20:3. ποιήσας τε μῆνας τρεῖς, cf. Acts 15:33, Acts 18:23.—ἐπιβουλῆς: only in Acts in N.T., see above on Acts 9:24; the plot may have been formed in the anticipation that it would be easy to carry it through on a pilgrim ship crowded with Jews of Corinth and Asia, hostile to the Apostle; or it may have been the purpose of the conspirators to kill Paul in a crowded harbour like Cenchreæ before the ship actually started.—μέλλ. ἀνάγ., see on Acts 13:13. If we read ἐγέν. γνώμης (genitive) (cf. 2 Peter 1:20), nowhere else in N.T., cf. Thuc., i., 113, ὅσοι τῆς αὐτῆς γνώμης ἦσαν, see also Winer-Schmiedel, p. 269.—τοῦ ὑποσ., i.e., the return journey to Jerusalem (Ramsay), but see also Wendt (1899), p. 323.

3. and there abode three months] More literally, with Rev. Ver., “and when he had spent three months there,” connecting it, as the Greek does, with what follows.

and when the Jews laid wait for him] The English of the A.V. defines too precisely the form of the danger. Read “And when a plot was laid against him by the Jews.” The Jews, who had tried to engage Gallio in their matters on St Paul’s last visit to Corinth, now take a secret instead of a public means of wreaking their vengeance on him. And we may judge that St Paul anticipated some trouble from the Judaizing party at Corinth by the tone of the latter portion (after chap. 9) of his second Epistle written to them while he was on his way, but detained in Macedonia. There were persons in Corinth who spoke slightingly of the Apostle. His bodily presence was weak and his speech contemptible. And in opposition to the remarks of these opponents, the Epistle concludes with an assertion of St Paul’s equality to the chiefest Apostles, a recital more full than in any other place of his sufferings for the Gospel, and an account of revelations divinely made unto him. It is clear therefore that among those who would be counted as Christians St Paul was not everywhere accepted. The Jews under such circumstances would have some abettors in their animosity even among the Judæo-Christians, and seem to have planned some means whereby St Paul might be attacked on his sea-voyage to Syria. No doubt the intention was to kill him. The word in the original is that used (Acts 9:24) when the Jews watched the gates of Damascus night and day to kill him.

as he was about to sail into Syria] The rendering of the Rev. Ver. gives the sense more vividly “as he was about to set sail for Syria.” He had apparently gone so far as to arrange for his passage and go on board, and was nearly departed, before he got the warning news. Perhaps some heart, among the people to whom the plot was known on shore, was moved to give a hint of the great peril at the last moment. This is the more probable if we suppose some previous communications between the Jews and the Judaizers among the Christians.

he purposed to return through Macedonia] Better, he determined, with Rev. Ver. As the scheme for killing him had been meant to be carried out at sea, the choice of an overland journey and a prompt departure made the forming of a new plan impossible to the conspirators.

Acts 20:3. Ποιήσας) The nominative was employed by Luke before that the predicate (ἐγένετο γνώμη) occurred to him, which requires the oblique case (viz. αὐτῷ). Such constructions are found not only in Hebrew, but also in Greek and Latin writers.—μῆνας τρεῖς, three months) at which time also he seems to have seen the Corinthians, but only in passing: 1 Corinthians 16:7.—αὐτῷμέλλοντι ἀνάγεσθαι, for him, as he was about to sail) They were laying plots for Paul against this very journey to Syria.—εἰς τὴν Συρίαν, into Syria) ch. Acts 21:3.—ἐγένετο γνώμη, he determined) Sometimes they relied on a, general, sometimes on a special call.—ὑποστρέφειν, to return) Even a holy purpose can sometimes be changed. Comp. ch. Acts 19:21, where Paul is represented as having once wished to go through Macedonia. It appears that Paul had wished, after journeying through Macedonia and Achaia, to go forward to Jerusalem. But at that time, indeed, lie did not get to Jerusalem, but again returned through Macedonia. His journey to Jerusalem, and to Rome afterwards, proceeded (was accomplished) by another way: the order merely of his course being changed.

Verse 3. - When he had spent ... there for there abode, A.V.; a plot was laid against him by the Jews for when the Jews laid wait for him, A.V.; for for into, A.V.; determined for purposed, A.V. (ἐγένετο γνώμης, R.T.). When he had spent three months. For this use of ποιεῖν, see Acts 15:33; Acts 18:33. See also 2 Corinthians 11:25, where the R.V. varies the rendering, and seems to take ποιεῖν as a verb neuter, as the A.V. does here, the accusative (μῆνας τρεῖς) being taken as that of time how long. And a plot, etc. There is no "and" in the Greek. It is better to take the T.R., and to consider ποιήσας as a nominative pendens as ἐπιγνόντες is in Acts 19:34, according to the reading of Meyer, Alford, etc. A plot was laid against him by the Jews. It appears from this that Apollos had not succeeded in subduing the bigoted hatred of the Corinthian Jews. But probably the desperate measure of a plot against his life (ἐπιβουλή, as in Acts 9:23, 24; ver. 19 of this chapter, and Acts 23:30) is an indication that many of their number had joined the Church; and that the unbelieving remnant, being foiled in argument, had recourse to violence. He determined; literally, according to the R.T., he was of opinion. But the T.R. has ἐγένετο γνώμη, "his opinion was," the construction of the sentence being changed. The three months were probably chiefly spent at Corinth, according to the intention expressed in 1 Corinthians 16:6, though it would seem that he had stayed a longer time in Macedonia than he anticipated. It was during his sojourn at Corinth that the Epistle to the Romans was written. Acts 20:3Sail (ἀνάγεσθαι)

Better, as Rev., set sail. See on Luke 8:22; and compare Luke 5:3.

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