And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void to offense toward God, and toward men.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And herein do I exercise myself . . .—The “herein” seems equivalent to “in this belief.” Because he held that doctrine of a resurrection as a stern and solemn reality, the one law of his life was to keep his conscience clear from wilful sin. (See Note on Acts 23:1.) The words must have been almost as bitter to Felix as to Ananias; but he has, at all events, the decency to listen in silence.
Do I exercise myself - ἀσκῶ askō. I accustom or employ myself; I make it my constant aim. Paul often appeals to his conscientiousness as the leading habit of his life. Even before his conversion he endeavored to act according to the dictates of conscience. See Acts 26:9; compare Philippians 3:5-6.
To have always a conscience ... - To do what is right, so that my conscience shall never reproach me.
Void of offence - ἀπρόσκοπον aproskopon. That which is inoffensive, or which does not cause one to stumble or fall. He means that he endeavored to keep his conscience so enlightened and pure in regard to duty, and that he acted according to its dictates in such a way that his conduct should not be displeasing to God or injurious to man. To have such a conscience implies two things:
(1) That it be enlightened or properly informed in regard to truth and duty; and,
(2) That what is made known to be right should be honestly and faithfully performed. Without these two things no man can have a conscience that will be inoffensive and harmless.
Toward God - In an honest endearour to discharge the duties of public and private worship, and to do constantly what he requires believing all that he has spoken; doing all that he requires; and offering to him the service which he approves.
Toward men - In endeavoring to meet all the demands of justice and mercy; to advance their knowledge, happiness, and salvation; living so that I may look back on my life with the reflection that I have done all that I ought to have done, and all that I could do to promote the welfare of the whole human family. What a noble principle of conduct was this! How elevated and how pure! How unlike the conduct of those who live to gratify debasing sensual appetites, or for gold or honor; of those who pass their lives in such a manner as to offer the grossest offence to God and to do the most injury to man. The great and noble aim of Paul was to be pure; and no slander of his enemies, no trials, persecutions, perils, or pains of dying could take away the approving voice of conscience. Alike in his travels and in his persecutions; among friends and foes; when preaching in the synal gogue, the city, or the desert; or when defending himself before governors and kings, he had this testimony of a self-approving mind. Happy they who thus frame their lives. And happy will be the end of a life where this has been the grand object of the journey through this world.
I exercise myself—The "I" here is emphatic; "Whatever they do, this is my study."
to have always a conscience void of offence, &c.—See Ac 23:1; 2Co 1:12; 2:17, &c.; that is, "These are the great principles of my life and conduct—how different from turbulence and sectarianism!"And herein; or at this time, and in this business; or for this reason, to wit, because I believe the resurrection.
I exercise myself; I am altogether taken up with it; this is my one thing necessary, Luke 10:42.
To have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men; that I may not offend God or man in any thing; but that I may be without blame at the judgment seat of God or man. They only are blessed and happy, whose belief concerning another world makes them endeavour after holiness in this world. 1 Corinthians 15:32 The apostle studied, and laboured, and bent himself, and employed his thought, care, and time,
to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward man; that is, to discharge every duty which God requires, and to give to every man what is due to him; so as to please God, and not offend men, neither Jew nor Gentile, nor the church of God; and so as that conscience may be clear of guilt, and may not be defiled with sin, being purged and purified by the blood of Christ. By a "conscience void of offence", is meant a good conversation; which as it respects God, lies in a carefulness not to offend him, but to do his will; and as it respects men, a shunning what may give offence, or be a stumbling to them; and though this cannot be perfectly attained to in each of its branches, yet there is in every good man a concern to have such a conscience; and the consideration of the resurrection of the dead, the general judgment, and a future state, induce him to it.And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void to offence toward God, and toward men.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Acts 24:16. Ἐν τούτῳ] on this account, as in John 16:30. It refers to the whole contents of the confession just expressed in Acts 24:14-15, as that on which the moral striving, which Paul constantly (διαπαντ.) has, has its causal basis.
καὶ αὐτός] et ipse, like other true confessors of this faith and this hope.
ἀσκῶ] I exercise myself, i.e. in eo laboro, studeo (Stallb. ad Plat. Rep. p. 389 C); often also in classical writers with the infinitive. See Sturz, Lex. Xen. I. p. 439.
πρὸς τὸν Θεὸν κ.τ.λ.] ethical reference (Romans 5:1). The good conscience (Acts 23:1) is conceived as having suffered no offence (ἀπρόσκ., here passive, comp. on Php 1:10), i.e. as unshaken, preserved in its unimpaired equilibrium.Acts 24:16. ἐν τούτῳ: “herein” is rather ambiguous, A. and R.V.; the expression may be used as = propterea, as the result of the confession of faith in Acts 24:14-15, cf. John 16:30 (Xen., Cyr., i., 3, 14). Rendall takes it = meanwhile (so apparently Wetstein), sc. χρόνῳ, i.e., in this earthly life; “hanc spem dum habeo,” Bengel. If we read καί, not δέ, perhaps best explained “non minus quam illi,” Blass, “I also exercise myself,” R.V., ἀσκῶ, cf. 2Ma 15:4; ἄσκησις, 4Ma 13:22; ἀσκητής, 4Ma 12:11; so in classical Greek, laborare, studere, Soph., Elect., 1024.—ἀπρόσκοπον: only by Paul in N. T., cf. 1 Corinthians 10:32, where used actively, and cf. Sirach 32(35):21, 3Ma 3:8. In Php 1:10 Lightfoot points out that the word may be taken either transitively or intransitively, although he prefers the latter. Mr. Page in his note on the word in this passage commends A.V. “void of offence” as including the two images, not offending, upright, ἀπροσ. πρὸς τὸν Θεόν; not causing offence, ἀπροσ. πρὸς τοὺς ἀνθρώπους. “Ad Deum et homines congruit quod sequitur eleemosynas et oblationes,” Bengel.—διὰ παντός, see Plummer on Luke 24:53, cf. Acts 2:25; Acts 10:2, Matthew 18:10, Mark 5:5, Hebrews 2:15, emphatic here at the end of sentence, implying that the Apostle’s whole aim in life should free him from the suspicion of such charges as had been brought against him.16. And herein do I exercise myself] “Herein” i.e. in the worship, faith and hope spoken of in the two last verses. While holding this belief, and because I hold it, I try to keep my conscience clear. “I exercise myself” that I may, by constant training and striving, at length get near to what I aim after.
to have always a conscience void of offence, &c.] The Rev. Ver., to preserve the Greek order, puts “alway” at the end of the verse. A man who strove for such an object was neither likely to be a profaner of the Temple, nor a pestilent mover of sedition. His religion was worked into his life.Acts 24:16. Ἐν τούτῳ, herein) whilst I have this hope.—αὐτὸς, I myself) whatever others do.—ἀσκῶ, I exercise myself, I aim) This verb forms an allegory, with the word αἴρεσις, sect. Both words occur in the history of philosophical sects.—πρὸς τὸν Θεὸν καὶ τοὺς ἀνθρώπους, toward God and men) What follows accord with this, viz. alms and offerings.Verse 16. - Herein... also for and hereby, A.V. and T.R.; to have a conscience... always for to have always, etc., A.V.; and men for and toward men, A.V. (For the sentiment, comp. Acts 23:1.) Herein (ἐν τόυτῳ); i.e. on this account, under these circumstances supplying the ground and cause of my action (comp. John 16:30). So, too, Matthew 6:7, Ἐν τῇ πολυλογίᾳ αὐτῶν means "On account of their much speaking." I exercise myself; ἀσκῶ, here only in the New Testament, but frequent in medical writers for "to practice" the medical art.
Originally, to work raw material, to form: hence, to practise, exercise, discipline; and so, in ecclesiastical language, to mortify the body. Of the kindred adjective ἀσκητικός our word ascetic is a transcript.
Void of offence (ἀπτόσκοπον)
Lit., without stumbling; unshaken. The word is used thus in a passive sense here, as in Philippians 1:10. In 1 Corinthians 10:32, it occurs in the active sense of giving offence to others, or causing them to stumble.
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