Acts 24:17
Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings.
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(17) Now after many years.—Four years had passed since the previous visit of Acts 18:22. The use of “many” in this instance may be noted as throwing light on Acts 24:10.

To bring alms to my nation, and offerings.—The “alms” were, of course, the large sums of money which St. Paul had been collecting, since his last visit, for the disciples (possibly in part, also, for those who were not disciples) at Jerusalem. It is noticeable that this is the only mention in the Acts of that which occupies so prominent a place in the Epistles of this period. (See Romans 15:25; 1Corinthians 16:1-4; 2Corinthians 8:1-4.) The manifestly undesigned coincidence between the Acts and the Epistles on this point has naturally often been dwelt on by writers on the evidences which each supplies to the other. The “offerings” were the sacrifices which the Apostle was about to offer on the completion of the Nazarite vow with which he had associated himself. There is, perhaps, a refined courtesy in St. Paul’s use of the word “nation” (commonly used only of the heathen) instead of the more usual “people.” He avoids the term which would have implied a certain assumption of superiority to the magistrate before whom he stood. (See Notes on Matthew 25:32; Matthew 28:19.)

Acts 24:17-21. Now after many years, &c. — They have represented me as a profane and lawless person, as if I had thrown contempt upon religion, and done them a great deal of wrong; but so far have I been from doing any thing to injure the Jews, to whom by birth I belong, or from attempting to profane the temple, as these my enemies falsely pretend, that I have given many public and important proofs of my particular regard for the good of my country, and of the veneration that I have for all that is sacred. Accordingly, after several years — Which I had spent in other parts; I came to bring alms to the poor of my nation — Which I had been collecting for them in the Gentile provinces where I had any interest; and offerings — To God, which I proposed to make by assisting some Nazarites to discharge their vow, according to the law; whereupon — At the very time when I was thus employed; certain Jews from Asia — Who raised the first outcry against me; found me purified in the temple — That is, performing such things as the law required, and in which the legal purification of Nazarites consisted; neither with multitude — Attending me; nor with tumult — Made by me; the multitude being of their own gathering together, and the tumult, if any, being made by themselves. So that there was no colour for the charge brought against him, but evidence sufficient against it. And it was very unreasonable and hard, 1st, To accuse him as an enemy to their nation, when, after long absence from Jerusalem, he came to bring alms to it, money which he had collected among his friends for the relief of the poor at Jerusalem; and, 2d, To accuse him of having profaned the temple, when he brought offerings to the temple, and was found purifying himself therein, according to the law, and that in a very quiet and orderly manner. And as to what was, perhaps, suggested to Felix, that he had brought Greeks into the temple contrary to their law, he challenges them to prove it. Those Jews of Asia, says he, who were the causes of all the tumult, confusion, and violent proceedings, ought to have been here before thee — As being the only proper witnesses of the facts, if there were any which could justify their laying violent hands upon me. These, however, were now absent, probably because they knew they could not make good their charge against him, and were conscious of having injured him by their accusation; and doubtless Felix so understood it. As for the other Jews, they could only testify on the report of others, or give hear-say evidence, which could not be sufficient in any cause or court. Or else let these same here say — Paul is willing to allow the validity of the testimony of the Jews present, about such things as they themselves had been eye or ear witnesses of, namely, of what had passed in the council when Paul was brought before it; if they have found any evil-doing in me — Any crime committed by me, or any thing done or said, for which I merit punishment. Except it be for this one voice — As if he had said, Let them object, if they can, any other fault; that I cried, standing among them, Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question — Which, nevertheless, was the real truth. And, if my affirming it be a fault for which I must suffer, I acknowledge it, and there needs no other proof. But as that was one of the great articles of the national faith, he could not be blamed, either for maintaining it, or for asserting that God had given a proof of it, in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

24:10-21 Paul gives a just account of himself, which clears him from crime, and likewise shows the true reason of the violence against him. Let us never be driven from any good way by its having an ill name. It is very comfortable, in worshipping God, to look to him as the God of our fathers, and to set up no other rule of faith or practice but the Scriptures. This shows there will be a resurrection to a final judgment. Prophets and their doctrines were to be tried by their fruits. Paul's aim was to have a conscience void of offence. His care and endeavour was to abstain from many things, and to abound in the exercises of religion at all times; both towards God. and towards man. If blamed for being more earnest in the things of God than our neighbours, what is our reply? Do we shrink from the accusation? How many in the world would rather be accused of any weakness, nay, even of wickedness, than of an earnest, fervent feeling of love to the Lord Jesus Christ, and of devotedness to his service! Can such think that He will confess them when he comes in his glory, and before the angels of God? If there is any sight pleasing to the God of our salvation, and a sight at which the angels rejoice, it is, to behold a devoted follower of the Lord, here upon earth, acknowledging that he is guilty, if it be a crime, of loving the Lord who died for him, with all his heart, and soul, and mind, and strength. And that he will not in silence see God's word despised, or hear his name profaned; he will rather risk the ridicule and the hatred of the world, than one frown from that gracious Being whose love is better than life.Now after many years - After many years' absence. Paul here commences a reply to the charge of Tentullus, that he had endeavored to profane the temple, Acts 24:6. He begins by saying that his design in coming up to Jerusalem was to bring to his countrymen needed aid in a time of distress. It would be absurd to suppose, therefore, that his object in coming was to violate the customs of the temple, and to defile it.

I came to bring - See Acts 11:29-30; compare the notes on Romans 15:25-26.

Alms - Charities; the gift of the churches.

To my nation - Not to all the nation, but to the poor saints or Christians who were in Judea, and who were suffering much by persecutions and trials.

And offerings - The word used here properly denotes "an offering or gift" of any kind; but it is usually applied to an oblation or offering made to God in the temple - "a thank-offering, a sacrifice." This is probably its meaning here. He came to bring aid to his needy countrymen, and an offering to God; and it was, therefore, no part of his purpose to interfere with, or to profane the worship of the temple.

17. Now after many—several

years absence from Jerusalem—I came to bring alms to my of Macedonia and Greece, which he had taken such pains to gather. This only allusion in the Acts to what is dwelt upon so frequently in his own Epistles (Ro 15:25, 26; 1Co 16:1-4; 2Co 8:1-4), throws a beautiful light on the truth of this History. (See Paley's Horæ Paulinæ).

and offerings—connected with his Jewish vow: see Ac 24:18.

After many years; it is thought fourteen years, which we find mentioned, Galatians 2:1; and therefore the more unlike to have any seditious practices there, where he had so little acquaintance.

I came to bring alms to my nation; and he was so far from designing mischief to his nation, that his charity to them put him upon this journey.

And offerings; which in his condescension to the Jews, and hoping to gain their good will, he brought according to the law; as Acts 21:26. For whilst Jerusalem and the temple stood, those offerings were in a sort permitted; but God, in that general destruction of both city and temple, put an end to them all.

Now after many years,.... Absence from Jerusalem; it was now about five and twenty years since his conversion, and most of this time he spent among the Gentiles; three years after it he went up to Jerusalem, and fourteen years after that, Galatians 1:18 but it had now been some years since he had been there:

I came to bring alms to my nation; the collections which were made among the Gentile churches, particularly in Macedonia, for the poor saints at Jerusalem, Romans 15:25.

and offerings; either for the day of Pentecost, according to the usages of that feast, or the offerings on the account of the vow of the Nazarite, Acts 21:26. The Vulgate Latin version adds, "and vows"; unless the spiritual and evangelical sacrifices of prayer and praise can be thought to be meant, since the ceremonial law was now abrogated; though it is manifest the apostle did at some times, and in some cases, comply with the Jews in the observance of it, in order to gain some.

{4} Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings.

(4) Paul in conclusion tells the things thing which was truly done, which Tertullus before him had corrupted in various ways.

Acts 24:17. Δἰ ἐτῶν δὲ πλειόνων] interjectis autem pluribus annis. The δέ leads over to the defence on the special point of accusation in Acts 24:6. Regarding διά, after,[154] see on Galatians 2:1. Paul means the four years, which had elapsed since his last visit to Jerusalem, Acts 18:22. How does the very fact of this long alibi, preceding the short period of my present visit, witness against that accusation!

εἰς τὸ ἔθνος μου] for my nation. What a contrast in this patriotic love to the hostile calumnies of his accusers! And Paul might so speak, for the Greek and Asiatic contributions which he had brought (1 Corinthians 16:1 ff.; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Romans 15:25) were destined for the support of the Jerusalem Christians, who for the most part consisted of native Jews. If he conveyed alms for these, he assisted in them his nation, in doing which he cherished the national point of view, that the Gentiles, having become partakers of the spiritual blessings of the Jews, owed corporeal aid to these in turn (Romans 15:27).

προσφοράς] i.e. festival offerings. The performance of these had been among the objects of the journey. The taking on him the Nazarite offerings was only induced after his arrival by circumstances. Whether Paul defrayed the expenses of the Nazarite offerings from the contribution-moneys (Baumgarten), is neither here nor elsewhere said, and cannot be determined.

[154] Not while (in opposition to Stölting, Beitr. z. Exegese d. Paulin. Briefe, 1869, p. 163 f.), as if Paul would say: while I have done this (the ἀσκεῖν κ.τ.λ.) already for several years; which neither stands in the text, nor would be suitable after the διαπαντός already expressing far more. Bengel gives correctly the practical significance in this statement of time.

Acts 24:17. πλειόνων: “many,” R.V., but margin, “some,” so Rendall: if Acts 18:22 refers to a visit to Jerusalem (see note) at the close of the Apostle’s second missionary journey, the number expressed by πλειόνων would not exceed four or five.—ἐλεημοσύνας ποιήσων, see above on collection for the Saints at Jerusalem. ἐλεη.: not elsewhere used by Paul, who speaks of κοινωνία, διακονία είς τοὺς ἁγίους, see on Acts 10:2.—παρεγενόμην, Lucan, but cf. also 1 Corinthians 16:3, for the word again used by St. Paul.—εἰς τὸ ἔθνος μου: quite natural for St. Paul to speak thus of the Jewish nation, for the Jewish-Christian Church naturally consisted of Jews, cf. Romans 9:3. For this allusion in Acts to the great work of the collection, and its evidential value, as corroborating the notices in the Epistles, see above on p. 422, and Paley, H.P., chap. ii., 1. On this use of εἰς cf. 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2 Corinthians 8:4; 2 Corinthians 9:1; 2 Corinthians 9:13, Romans 15:26, and see Deissmann, Bibelstudien, p. 113.—καὶ προσφοράς: no mention is made of offerings as part of the purpose of St. Paul’s visit to Jerusalem, but we know that he came up to Jerusalem to worship, Acts 24:11, and to be present at the Feast of Pentecost, Acts 20:16, and even if he did not present some offering in connection with that Feast (a thank-offering as Bethge supposes), Dr. Hort’s view may well commend itself that the Apostle wished to make some offering on his own account, or it may be a solemn peace-offering in connection with the Gentile contribution for the Jewish Christians, and its acceptance, see on Acts 21:26, and also Weiss, in loco. The position of προσφ. seems against the supposition that we can take it simply with ἐλεη., and in combination with it, as if both words referred to the collection for the Saints. Jüngst would omit the words καὶ προσφἱερῷ altogether, whilst even Hilgenfeld regards Acts 24:17-21 as an addition of his “Author to Theophilus”.

17. Now after many years] He had come to Jerusalem on the return from his second missionary journey in a.d. 53. It was now a.d. 58, so that his absence had lasted four or five years (see note on Acts 24:10).

I came to bring alms to my nation] These consisted of the money which had been collected in the churches of Macedonia and Achaia at St Paul’s request, and which is often alluded to in his epistles (cp. 1 Corinthians 16:1; Romans 15:26; 2 Corinthians 8:4, &c.). There could be no desire to wound the feelings of the Jews in a man who had come for such a purpose. It is noticeable too that he describes the alms as not for the Christians only, but for his nation, conveying by the word the impression of his great regard for all the Jews.

and offerings] These were the sacrifices connected with the vow which he had undertaken. They must be offered in the Temple, and the offered was not likely to be one who thought of profaning the holy place.

Acts 24:17. Πλειόνων, many) He, who was long away, could not have been planning revolution; but ought to have been received with kindness, especially as he was about to present an offering of alms.

Verse 17. - After many years; or, several years. St. Paul's last visit to Jerusalem was that mentioned in Acts 18:22. Since then he had spent "some time" (χρόνον τινά) at Antioch, had gone over all the country of Phrygia and Galatia, had come to Ephesus, and stopped between two and three years there, had gone through Macedonia, had spent three months at Corinth, had returned to Macedonia, and from thence had come to Jerusalem in about fifty days. All which must have occupied four or five years - from A.D. to A.D. - according to most chronologers. Evidently Paul had not been plotting seditious movements at Jerusalem, where he had only arrived twelve days before, for a purely benevolent and pious purpose, after an absence of four or five years Alms... and offerings. Those of which he speaks in 1 Corinthians 16:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8; Romans 15:25, 26, 31. To this may be added "the charges" for which he made himself answerable for the poor Nazarites (Acts 21:24, 26). Acts 24:17
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