Acts 21:22
What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come.
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(22) The multitude must needs come together.—More accurately, at all events a crowd must needs come together. The report of St. Paul’s arrival was sure to spread, and those who heard of it would be eager to see how he acted. Would he ostentatiously reproduce in Jerusalem that living as a Greek with Greeks (1Corinthians 9:22) of which they heard as his manner at Corinth and Ephesus? The advice which followed was intended to allay the suspicion of the timid, and to disappoint the expectations of more determined adversaries.

Acts 21:22-25. What is it therefore — Which may not be apprehended on such an occasion? Or, what is to be done? the multitude must needs come together — They will certainly be gathered together in a tumultuous manner, unless they be some way pacified. For they will hear that thou art come — And will immediately form their judgment of the truth or falsehood of the information they have received, by what they discover in thy present behaviour, of regard or disregard to the Mosaic ceremonies. Do therefore this, &c. — To show them, how far soever thou art from imposing the Mosaic ceremonies on any Jews or Gentiles, as necessary to salvation, or teaching men to seek justification by them, yet thou dost not think there is any intrinsic evil in them, nor teach it as a matter of duty, that believers in Christ, of Jewish extraction, should disuse and reject them; do this that we say to thee — As the best expedient we can think of, for immediately taking off any ill impressions which might otherwise be apprehended. We have four men — Converts to the gospel; which have a vow on them — Of Nazariteship; take them — As thy companions and partners; and purify thyself with them — According to the Jewish ritual; and be at the necessary charges with, (or, rather, for,) them, that they may shave their heads — And offer the sacrifices which the law has appointed in that case. These sacrifices are specified Numbers 6:13, &c., by which it appears, that the charges of these four would be the price of eight lambs and four rams, besides oil, flour, &c., and it was not uncommon among the Jews; for the rich to assist those Nazarites that were poor in bearing these charges: and all may know — Namely, all that come up to the temple, and see thee in these circumstances; that those things whereof they were informed are nothing — Have no reality or truth in them; but that — Instead of forbidding the observance of these ceremonies to others; thou thyself walkest orderly, and keepest the law — Avoiding all unnecessary occasion of offence. “It is evident from hence, that whatever might have passed between Paul and James on this head in private, (Galatians 2:2,) James and the brethren thought it most regular and convenient, that the Jewish ritual should still be observed by those of the circumcision who believed in Christ; and considering what tribulation the church at Jerusalem must otherwise have been exposed to from the sanhedrim, who, no doubt, would have prosecuted them to the utmost as apostates, and also how soon Providence intended to render the practice of it impossible, and to break the whole power of the Jews, by the destruction of the temple, and city, and nation; it was certainly the most orderly and prudent conduct to conform to it, though it were looked upon by those that understood the matter fully, (which it was not necessary that all should,) as antiquated and ready to vanish away, Hebrews 8:13.” Locke and Doddridge.

21:19-26 Paul ascribed all his success to God, and to God they gave the praise. God had honoured him more than any of the apostles, yet they did not envy him; but on the contrary, glorified the Lord. They could not do more to encourage Paul to go on cheerfully in his work. James and the elders of the church at Jerusalem, asked Paul to gratify the believing Jews, by some compliance with the ceremonial law. They thought it was prudent in him to conform thus far. It was great weakness to be so fond of the shadows, when the substance was come. The religion Paul preached, tended not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it. He preached Christ, the end of the law for righteousness, and repentance and faith, in which we are to make great use of the law. The weakness and evil of the human heart strongly appear, when we consider how many, even of the disciples of Christ, had not due regard to the most eminent minister that even lived. Not the excellence of his character, nor the success with which God blessed his labours, could gain their esteem and affection, seeing that he did not render the same respect as themselves to mere ceremonial observances. How watchful should we be against prejudices! The apostles were not free from blame in all they did; and it would be hard to defend Paul from the charge of giving way too much in this matter. It is vain to attempt to court the favour of zealots, or bigots to a party. This compliance of Paul did not answer, for the very thing by which he hoped to pacify the Jews, provoked them, and brought him into trouble. But the all-wise God overruled both their advice and Paul's compliance with it, to serve a better purpose than was intended. It was in vain to think of pleasing men who would be pleased with nothing but the rooting out of Christianity. Integrity and uprightness will be more likely to preserve us than insincere compliances. And it should warn us not to press men to doing what is contrary to their own judgment to oblige us.What is it therefore? - What is to be done? What is it proper to do to avoid the effects of the evil report which has been circulated? What they deemed it proper to do is suggested in the following verses.

The multitude - The multitude of Jews.

Must needs come together - There will be inevitably a tumultuous assemblage. It will be impossible to prevent that. The reasons were, because the minds of the Jews were exceedingly agitated that one of their own countrymen had, as they understood, been advising apostasy from the religion of their fathers; because this had been extensively done in many parts of the world, and with great success; and because Paul, having, as they believed, himself apostatized from the national religion, had become very conspicuous, and his very presence in Jerusalem, as in other places, would be likely to excite a tumult. It was, therefore, the part of friendship to him and to the cause to devise some proper plan to prevent, if possible, the anticipated excitement.

21. they are informed … that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles—those residing in heathen countries.

to forsake Moses, &c.—This calumny of the unbelieving Jews would find easy credence among the Christian zealots for Judaism.

What is it therefore? It cannot be otherwise; or, what else remains to be done?

The multitude must needs come together; all the faithful must meet; for the magistrates then being pagan, and enemies both to the church and the gospel; in matters of great moment, especially when there was any fear of a schism, the whole multitude of believers were gathered together to consult about it.

What is it therefore?.... Is it true or not? or what must be done in this case? what method must be taken to remove these objections, and reconcile the minds of the people? the multitude must needs come together; either the whole church at Jerusalem, or the great confluence of people, even of believing Jews, that were come from all parts thither; there is no hindering of their coming together, to see the apostle, and to hear what he has to say to the objections against him, and complaints of him;

for they will hear that thou art come: this can never be kept a secret, and as soon as they hear it, they will flock in great numbers; they will come open mouthed, and be loud in their complaints, and it will be difficult to pacify them; there is danger in the case, the consequence may be bad; and therefore something must be done, to remove the opinion they had formed of the apostle, and the prejudice they had entertained against him; and therefore what follows is advised to.

What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come.
Acts 21:22-23. Τί οὖν ἔστι;] What is accordingly the case? How lies then the matter? See on 1 Corinthians 14:15; Romans 3:9. The answer τοῦτο ποίησον has the reason for it in the first instance more precisely assigned by the preliminary remark, πάντωςἐλήλυθας: a multitude (of such Jew-Christians) must (inevitably will) come together (assemble around thee, to hear thee and to observe thy demeanour), for, etc. That James meant a tumultuary concourse, is not stated by the text, and is, on the contrary, at variance with the sanguine δεῖ; but Calvin, Grotius, Calovius, and many others erroneously hold that πλῆθ. συνελθ. refers to the convoking of the church, or (so Lange) to the united body of the different household-congregations (in that case τὸ πλῆθ. must at least have been used).

εὐχὴν ἔχ. ἐφʼ ἑαυτ.] having a vow (Acts 18:18) for themselves. This ἐφʼ ἑαυτῶν represents the having of the vow as founded on the men’s own wish and self-interest, and accordingly exhibits it as a voluntary personal vow, in which they were not dependent on third persons. The use of ἐφʼ ἑαυτῶν in the sense of for oneself, at one’s own hand, and the like,[124] is a classical one (Xen. Anab. ii. 4. 10; Thuc. v. 67. 1, viii. 8. 11), and very common; Hermann, ad Viger. p. 859; Kühner, II. p. 296. A yet more express mode of denoting it would be: ΑὐΤΟῚ ἘΦʼ ἙΑΥΤῶΝ. With this position of the vow there could be the less difficulty in Paul’s taking it along with them; no interest of any other than the four men themselves was concerned in it. Moreover, on account of Acts 21:26, and because the point here concerned a usage appointed in the law of Moses (otherwise than at Acts 18:18), we are to understand a formal temporary Nazarite vow, undertaken on some unknown occasion (Numbers 6, and see on Acts 18:18). See on such vows, Keil, Archäol. I. § 67; Oehler in Herzog’s Encykl. X. p. 205 ff.

[124] א reads ἀφʼ ἑαυτῶν, a gloss substantially correct.

Acts 21:22. τί οὖν ἐστι; cf. 1 Corinthians 14:15; 1 Corinthians 14:26; cf. 1 Corinthians 6:3 in [359] text.—δεῖ πλῆθος συνελθεῖν, see critical note.—ἀκούσονται, i.e., the Judaising Christians referred to in κατηχήθησαν, Acts 21:26. The words refer, not to an assembly of the whole Church, or to a tumultuary assembly, Acts 21:27, but to an assembly of the Judaising Christians as above.

[359] R(omana), in Blass, a first rough copy of St. Luke.

22. What is it therefore?] i.e. How stands the matter? An expression used as introductory to the consideration of what is best to be done.

the multitude must needs come together] The oldest texts omit all but the word here rendered “needs,” giving only, “they will certainly hear that thou art come,” for the rest of the verse. Some keeping the Greek of the Textus Receptus, have translated “A multitude will certainly, &c.” But the reading of the oldest MSS. seems to give the most natural sense. The gathering before whom Paul had been speaking was composed of only the conspicuous members of the Christian body, to hear a report on the day after St Paul’s arrival. The rest of the speech addressed to the Apostle gives no hint of a crowd to be gathered, but recommends a policy by which the Judæo-Christians might learn gradually in their own visits to the temple that the Apostle against whom they had heard such reports was there himself taking part in the observance of the Mosaic customs.

Acts 21:22. Τί οὖν ἐστι; what is it therefore?) A frequent formula.—συνελθεῖν, come together) to hear what God hath done through thee, [and of what kind is thy doctrine.—V. g.]: Acts 21:19; ch. Acts 14:27.

Verse 22. - The R.T. omits the clause in the T.R. rendered the multitude must needs come together in the A.V.; they will certainly hear for they will hear, A.V. and T.R. The πάντως, which in the A.V. belongs to the omitted clause, is rendered "certainly" in the R.T. Acts 21:22What is it therefore?

How does the matter lie? What is to be done?

The multitude must needs come together

Some texts omit. So Rev. If retained, we should read a multitude.

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