Then Paul answered, What mean you to weep and to break my heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart?—Better, What mean ye weeping and breaking . . .? The intense sensitiveness of St. Paul’s nature shows itself in every syllable. It was with no Stoic hardness that he resisted their entreaties. They were positively crushing to him. He adhered to his purpose, but it was as with a broken heart. In spite of this, however, his martyr-like, Luther-like nature carried him forward. Bonds and imprisonment!—these he had heard of when he was yet at Corinth and Ephesus, before he had started on his journey; but what were they to one who was ready to face death? The pronouns are throughout emphatic. “You are breaking my heart. I, for my part, am ready . . .”
To weep and to break mine heart? - To afflict me, and distract my mind by alarms, and by the expressions of tenderness. His mind was fixed on going to Jerusalem; and he felt that he was prepared for whatever awaited him. Expressions of tenderness among friends are proper. Tears may be inevitable at parting from those whom we love. But such expressions of love ought not to be allowed to interfere with the convictions of duty in their minds. If they have made up their minds that a certain course is proper, and have resolved to pursue it, we ought neither to attempt to divert them from it, nor to distract their minds by our remonstrances or our tears. We should resign them to their convictions of what is demanded of them with affection and prayer, but with cheerfulness. We should lend them all the aid in our power, and then commend them to the blessing and protection of God. These remarks apply especially to those who are engaged in the missionary enterprise.
It is trying to part with a son, a daughter, or a beloved friend, in order that they may go to proclaim the gospel to the benighted and dying pagan. The act of parting - for life, and the apprehension of the perils which they may encounter on the ocean, and in pagan lands, may be painful; but if they, like Paul, have looked at it calmly, candidly, and with much prayer; if they have come to the deliberate conclusion that it is the will of God that they should devote their lives to this service, we ought not to weep and to break their hearts. We should cheerfully and confidently commit them to the protection of the God whom they serve, and remember that the parting of Christians, though for life, will be short. Soon, in a better world, they will be united again, to part no more; and the blessedness of that future meeting will be greatly heightened by all the sorrows and self-denials of separation here, and by all the benefits which such a separation may be the means of conveying to a dying world. That mother will meet, with joy, in heaven, the son from whom, with many tears, she was sundered when he entered on a missionary life; and, surrounded with many ransomed pagan, heaven will be made more blessed and eternity more happy.
But also to die - This was the true spirit of a martyr. This spirit reigned in the hearts of all the early Christians.
I am ready not to be bound only—"If that is all, let it come."
but to die, &c.—It was well he could add this, for he had that also to do.What mean ye to weep, and to break mine heart? a strange strife, who should overcome by loving most, as in that betwixt David and Jonathan, 1 Samuel 20:41,42. This undaunted champion, who did not seem to feel any of his own afflictions and miseries, yet grieves for the grief and sympathy of others, and bears a double weight in his burdens; one directly and immediately from them, as lying upon himself; the other mediately, as recoiling from others (who suffered with him) unto him again.
But also to die; as Christ’s love for us was stronger than death, Song of Solomon 8:6, so must our love be to him again, or it is not of the same nature with his, nor begotten by it.
For the name of the Lord Jesus; his truth, and glory.
and to break my heart? for though he was resolved to go to Jerusalem, and nothing could move him from it, his heart was firm as a rock; there was no shaking him, or making impressions upon him that way; yet their tears and importunity greatly afflicted him, and the more because he could by no means comply with their request:
for I am ready not to be bound only, but to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus; for as yet, he knew not but he should die there; it was revealed to him that he should be bound there, but it was not yet suggested to him where he should suffer death, whether there or elsewhere; and since he knew not but it might be there, he was ready for it; bonds were so far from distressing his mind, and deterring him from his intended journey, that death itself could not do it; which showed great intrepidity, courage, and firmness of mind.Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Acts 21:13. τί ποιεῖτε κλαί.: what do ye, weeping? (as we might say “what are you about?” etc.), cf. Mark 11:5 (Acts 14:15).—συνθ.: in Attic Greek, to break, to break in pieces, and so ἀποθρύπτω is used of (1) breaking in pieces, (2) breaking in spirit, enervating τὰς ψυχάς, cf. Plat., Rep., 495 E.; here συνθ. means to weaken the Apostle’s purpose rather than to break his heart in sorrow.—ἐγὼ, emphatic, I for my part.—οὐ μόνον in N.T., rather than μὴ μόνον with the infinitive, Burton, p. 183.—ἑτοίμως ἔχω: the exact phrase only once elsewhere in N.T., and there used by St. Paul, 2 Corinthians 12:14 (cf. 1 Peter 4:5): “qui paratus est, ei leve onus est,” Bengel. Ewald compares this firm determination and courage of St. Paul with our Lord’s last journey to Jerusalem, cf. Luke 9:51.13. Then Paul answered. What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart] Better (with Rev. Ver.), “What do ye, weeping and breaking my heart?” The sentence is little more than an emphatic question, “Why do ye weep?” implying, of course, the exhortation, “Don’t weep, &c.” The verb for “break” is found only here in N. T., and signifies the weakening of purpose in any one. So the Apostle intimates not that they intended, as we should say “to break his heart” by adding to his sorrow, but to weaken his determination, and deter him from his journey.
for … Jesus] The pronoun “I” stands emphatically in the Greek, and shews that the Apostle had long ago counted the cost of Christ’s service, and found the sufferings of this present time not worthy to be compared with the glory that was to be revealed.Acts 21:13. Συνθρύπτοντες, breaking, afflicting) The apostles were not altogether void of human affections (feelings).—δεθῆναι) to be bound: Acts 21:11.—ἑτοίμως ἔχω, I am ready, I am in a state of readiness) The burden is light to him who is ready.Verse 13. - What do ye, weeping and breaking my heart? for what mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? A.V. (the same sense only a more modern idiom). Breaking. Συνθρύπτοντες occurs only here in the New Testament, or indeed in any Greek writer, though the simple form, θρύπτω, is common in medical writers, and ἀποθρύπτω occurs in Plato. It has the force of the Latin frangere animum, to crush and weaken the spirit. I am ready. Paul's answer reminds us of Peter's saying to our Lord, "Lord, I am ready to go with thee both into prison, and to death" (Luke 22:33). But Peter's resolve was made in his own strength, Paul's in the strength of the Holy Ghost; and so the one was broken, and the other was kept.
Lit., I hold myself in readiness.
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