Acts 28:15
And from there, when the brothers heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) And from thence, when the brethren heard of us . . .—Better, the brethren having heard about us. The seven days at Puteoli had given ample time for the news of the Apostle’s arrival to reach the disciples at Rome. Among these “brethren” were many, we may believe, of those whom he had known at Corinth, and to whom he had sent messages of greeting in Romans 16 : Aquila and Epænetus, Andronicus and Junias, Herodion, and those of the household of Narcissus. Most of these were Jews by birth, of the libertini or freed-man class. All had probably read or heard the Epistle to the Romans. They were yearning, some for the presence of the friend whom they had known seven years before at Corinth, some for a glimpse of one whom, though they had not known him, they had learnt to love. It is clear, from the salutations sent to Aquila and Priscilla and the rest in Romans 16, that the decree of Claudius banishing the Jews from Rome had been rescinded or allowed to lapse. The influence of Poppæa, now dominant at Rome, was probably in their favour, and secured their protection. Herself a proselyte to Judaism, after the fashion of her class she would extend her protection to the Jews of Rome, as she did, about the same time, to those of Jerusalem. (See Note on Acts 26:32.)

They came to meet us.—The practice of going some miles from the city to meet one whom men delighted to honour was a common one. So the Jews of Rome had gone out to meet the Pseudo-Alexander who claimed to be a son of Herod (Jos. Ant. xvii. 12, § 1). So the Romans had poured forth to meet Germanicus (Sueton. Calig. c. 4) when he lived, and to do honour to his remains after his death (Tacit. Ann. iii. 5). So in earlier days, Cicero had been welcomed on his return from exile, journeying from Brundusium on the self-same Appian Way on which St. Paul was now travelling, senate and people alike going forth to meet him (Cic. pro Sext. 63, in Pison. 22).

Appii forum.—There was an obvious reason for their not going further than this, as they could not tell whether the Apostle and his companions would come by the canal or the road. The town took its name probably from the Appius under whom the road had been made, and was so called as being a centre of local jurisdiction—an assize-town, as it were. So we have Forum Julium (now Friuli), Forum Flaminium, &c. Horace (Sat. i. 5, i. 4), had condemned the town to a perpetual infamy, as

“Inde Forum Appî,

Differtum nautis, cauponibus atque malignis.”

[“With sailors filled, and scoundrel publicans.”]

Now, we must believe, on the evening when the two parties met, the wretched little town, notorious for its general vileness, was the scene of a prayer-meeting, thanksgivings and praises pouring forth from rejoicing hearts.

The three taverns.—Better, the Three Tabernœ. The Latin word has a wider range than the English, and is applied to a booth or shop of any kind, requiring the addition of an adjective such as “diversoria” or “cauponaria” before it becomes a “tavern” in the modern sense. The Roman itineraries place this town at a distance of ten miles from Appii Forum, and therefore thirty-three from Rome, Aricia forming a kind of half-way stage between the Three Tabernæ and the capital. It is mentioned more than once by Cicero in his letters, and appears to have been on the Via Appia, at a point where a road from Antium fell into it (Ad Att. ii. 10). It was accordingly a town of considerable importance. No traces of the name are found now near that position, but it could not have been far from the modern Cisterna. The transfer of traffic from the old Via Appia to the new road of the same name (the Via Appia Nuova), which takes a more circuitous route from Castella to Terracina, probably deprived it of its importance and led to its decay. A local tradition, indeed, but probably of very late date, finds the name of Tre Taberne at a distance of about twelve miles from Rome, on the old Via Appia. Here, it is clear, a second detachment of friends met him, who had either started later than the others or had felt unequal to the additional ten miles.

He thanked God, and took courage.—The words imply a previous tendency to anxiety and fear. There had been no possibility of any communication with Rome since he had left Caesarea, and questions more or less anxious would naturally present themselves. Would he find friends there who would welcome him, or would he have to enter Rome as a criminal, with no escort but that of the soldiers who kept him? Were those Roman disciples to whom he had written so warmly still safe and well, and sound in the faith? Had persecution driven them from their homes, or had the Judaisers perverted their belief? The language of Romans 1:10-12, shows how prominent they were in his thoughts and prayers. To these questions the arrival of the disciples was a full and satisfying answer, and the Apostle resumed his journey with an eager and buoyant hope.

28:11-16 The common events of travelling are seldom worthy of being told; but the comfort of communion with the saints, and kindness shown by friends, deserve particular mention. The Christians at Rome were so far from being ashamed of Paul, or afraid of owning him, because he was a prisoner, that they were the more careful to show him respect. He had great comfort in this. And if our friends are kind to us, God puts it into their hearts, and we must give him the glory. When we see those even in strange places, who bear Christ's name, fear God, and serve him, we should lift up our hearts to heaven in thanksgiving. How many great men have made their entry into Rome, crowned and in triumph, who really were plagues to the world! But here a good man makes his entry into Rome, chained as a poor captive, who was a greater blessing to the world than any other merely a man. Is not this enough to put us for ever out of conceit with worldly favour? This may encourage God's prisoners, that he can give them favour in the eyes of those that carry them captives. When God does not soon deliver his people out of bondage, yet makes it easy to them, or them easy under it, they have reason to be thankful.And from thence - From Puteoli.

When the brethren heard of us - The Christians who wore at Rome.

As far as the Appii Forum - This was a city about 56 miles from Rome. The remains of an ancient city are still seen there. It is on the borders of the Pontine Marshes. The city was built on the celebrated Appian Way, or the road from Rome to Capua. The road was made by Appius Claudius, and probably the city was founded by him also. It was called the forum or market-place of Appius, because it was a convenient place for travelers on the Appian Way to stop for purposes of refreshment. It was also a famous resort for peddlers and merchants. See Horace, book i. Sat. 5, 3.

And the Three Taverns - This place was about 8 or 10 miles nearer Rome than the Appii Forum (Cicero, a.d. Art., ii. 10). It undoubtedly received its name because it was distinguished as a place of refreshment on the Appian Way. Probably the greater part of the company of Christians remained at this place while the remainder went forward to meet Paul, and to attend him on his way. The Christians at Rome had doubtless heard much of Paul. His Epistle to them had been written about the year of our Lord 57 a.d., or at least five years before this time. The interest which the Roman Christians felt in the apostle was thus manifested by their coming so far to meet him, though he was a prisoner.

He thanked God - He had long ardently desired to see the Christians of Rome, Romans 1:9-11; Romans 15:23, Romans 15:32. He was now grateful to God that the object of his long desire was at least granted, and that he was permitted to see them, though in bonds.

And took courage - From their society and counsel. The presence and counsel of Christian brethren is often of inestimable value in encouraging and strengthening us in the toils and trials of life.

15. And from thence, when the brethren—of Rome

heard of us—by letter from Puteoli, and probably by the same conveyance which took Julius' announcement of his arrival.

they came to meet us as far as Appii Forum—a town forty-one miles from Rome.

and the Three Taverns—thirty miles from Rome. Thus they came to greet the apostle in two parties, one stopping short at the nearer, the other going on to the more distant place.

whom when Paul saw, he thanked God—for such a welcome. How sensitive he was to such Christian affection all his Epistles show (Ro 1:9, &c.).

and took courage—his long-cherished purpose to "see Rome" (Ac 19:21), there to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ, and the divine pledge that in this he should be gratified (Ac 23:11), being now about to be auspiciously realized.

Appii forum; a place about one and fifty miles, or seventeen leagues, from Rome; so called from Appius Claudius, who made a way from Rome thither, called from his name: The Appian Way; and had his statue there set up; which is the reason why it is called thus: for the Romans did call those places fora, were such statues were placed. (The concourse to see those statues might bring them to become markets).

The three taverns; as that was a place of resort for the buying and selling of other commodities, so this for the affording of necessary provision; a little town, hence so called, about three and thirty miles, or eleven leagues, from Rome. So that some came a greater, some a lesser way to meet with Paul, and show their respect unto him. These brethren are thought to have been converted by such as at the day of Pentecost were present when those miracles were wrought, Acts 2:10, it being expressly said, that there were strangers from Rome.

Took courage; God moving so many not to be ashamed of his bonds. And from thence,.... That is, from Rome, whither they were going:

when the brethren heard of us; when the Christians at Rome heard that the apostle and his friends were landed at Puteoli, and were on their journey to Rome: these were the members of the church at Rome; for there was a church state here before this time. The apostle had before this written a letter to them, called the Epistle to the Romans, in which he treats them as a church. The Papists say that the Apostle Peter was the first bishop of it, and pretend an uninterrupted succession from him; though it is questionable whether he ever was at Rome; and if he was, it is not probable that he should take upon him the care of a single church, which was not consistent with his office as an apostle: in the "first" century, the bishops or pastors of this church were as follow; after the martyrdom of Paul and Peter, Eusebius (l) says, Linus was the first bishop of it, the same that is mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:21 and according to the same writer (m), Anencletus succeeded him, and then Clement, a fellow labourer of the Apostle Paul's, Philippians 4:3; who wrote two epistles to the Corinthians, which are still extant; though Eusebius (n), not consistent with himself, makes Clement in another place to succeed Linus; and some make Clement even to be before him; and some place one Cletus before Anencletus and him: such an uncertainty is there, and such a puzzle attends the first account of this uninterrupted succession; and which seems designed in Providence to bring it into contempt: in the "second" century, Euarestus succeeded Clement; and then followed him Alexander, Sixtus, or Xystus, Telesphorus, Hyginus, Pius, Anicetus, Soter, Eleutherius, and Victor: in the "third" century, Victor was succeeded by Zephyrinus; and after him were Calixtus, Urbanus, Pontianus, Anterus, Fabianus, Cornelius, Lucius, Stephanus, Sixtus, or Xystus II, Dionysius, Felix, Eutychianus, and Gaius: in the "fourth" century, Marcellinus succeeded Gaius; who was followed by Marcellus, Eusebius, Miltiades, Sylvester, Julius, Liberius, Felix II, Damasus, and Siricius (o); and further than this age, it is not worth while to follow them; the man of sin began to grow apace, and in a century or two afterwards, proclaimed himself universal bishop:

they came to meet us as far as Appii Forum and the Three Taverns; these were both of them towns that lay in the Appian way to Rome; the former of these Horace (p) makes mention of, in the account of his journey from Rome to Brundusium; first he says, he came to Aricia, or Rizza, which is about 160 furlongs, or 21 miles from Rome, and from thence to Appii Forum: that Appii Forum was further from Rome than the Three Taverns, appears from what Cicero says (q), who dates his letter to Atticus from Appii Forum, at four o'clock, and tells him, that be had sent him another a little before from "Tres Tabernae", or the Three Taverns; and indeed, Appii Forum was one and fifty miles from Rome, and the Three Taverns but three and thirty: so that the sense must be, that some of the brethren from Rome came as far as the Three Taverns, and others as far as Appii Forum; which, as before observed, were two towns upon the road: hence the former of these was not a statue of Appius, near the city of Rome, as some have (r) said; nor a market in the city itself, as says Jerom (s), or a writer under his name; whose words are, Appii Forum is the name of a market at Rome, from Appius, formerly a consul, and from whom the Appian way had its name: but this was a town at some distance; there were several towns in Italy of a like appellation; as Julii Forum, Cornelii Forum, now Imola, Livii Forum, now Forli: Pliny (t) makes mention of an Appii Forum; and there was a town in Calabria, called Taberna: and as the one was not a mere market place, so the other does not design three houses for public entertainment; for the words should not be translated "three taverns", nor indeed translated at all; nor are they by Luke, who retains the Latin name, as the name of a place; and here it was that Severus, the Roman emperor, was killed by Herculius Maximianus (u); and this, in Constantine's time, was the seat of a bishop; for among the bishops assembled on account of Donatus, mention is made of one "Felix a Tribus Tabernis" (w), or Felix bishop of Tres Tabernae, the same place we call "the Three Taverns":

whom when Paul saw, he thanked God and took courage; that is, when he saw the brethren that came to meet him, he gave thanks to God for the sight of them, which he had so much desired; and he took heart and courage, and went on cheerfully, and in high spirits, towards Rome; in hope of seeing the rest, and believing that God had some work for him to do there.

(l) Eccl. Hist. l. 3. c. 2.((m) Ib. c. 13. (n) Ib. c. 4. 15. (o) Magdeburg. Eccl. Hist. cent. 2. c. 10. p. 165, &c. cent. 3. c. 10. 193, &c. cent. 4. c. 10. p. 736, &c. (p) Sermonum, l. 1. Satyr 5. (q) Ad Atticum, l. 2. ep. 11. (r) Isidor. Pelusiot. Ep. l. 1. ep. 337. (s) De locis Hebraicis, fol. 95. K. (t) Nat. Hist. l. 14. c. 6. (u) Aurel. Victor. Epitome, p. 346. (w) Optat. de Schism Donat. l. 1. p. 26.

{9} And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as {e} Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage.

(9) God never allows his own to be afflicted beyond their strength.

(e) Appius was a paved road made by Appius the blind, with the help of his soldiers, long and broad, and it ran out towards the sea, and there were three taverns on it.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 28:15. Οί ἀδελφοί] Considering the largeness which we must assume the church at Rome to have attained, according to Romans 16:3 ff., probably a numerous representation of it is to be conceived as present.

ἡμῖν] appropriating dative of the pronoun. See Bernhardy, p. 98. Comp. John 12:13. Matthew 8:34; Jdt 5:4.

ἄχρις Ἀππίου φ. κ. Τριῶν ταβ.] καί: and, respectively. Luke narrates from the standpoint of the travellers. These came first to Forum Appii, a village on the Via Appia, 43 miles from Rome, and then to Tres-tabernae (Three-booths), an inn ten miles nearer to Rome; in both places they were received by the brethren (who thus went to meet them in two detachments). As they had tarried seven days at Puteoli, the Roman Christians might have obtained information timeously enough in order to come so far to meet them with the speed of love and reverence.

εὐχαρ. τ. Θεῷ ἔλαβε θάρσος] How natural was it that Paul, to whom Rome, this ἐπιτομὴ τῆς οἰκουμένης (Athen. Deipnos. i. 20), had for so long been in view as a longed-for goal of his labours (Acts 19:21, Acts 23:11; Romans 1:9 ff.), should now, at the sight of the brethren, who had thus from Rome carried their love forth to meet him, glow with gratitude to God, and in this elevated feeling receive confidence as to the development of his fate and as to his new sphere of work! According to Baumgarten, it is true, he saw at the same time in the Roman church, not founded by any apostle, “the identity and continuity” of the Pentecostal church—of all which the text contains not a hint, as, indeed, such a fancy as to the founding of the church is by no means justified by the circumstances of the case being unknown to us.Acts 28:15. κἀκεῖθεν, see on Acts 14:26. τὰ περὶ ἡμῶν: phrase only in Luke and Paul, see above on p. 481. The natural supposition is that there were two companies; one met them in advance at Appii Forum, and the other nearer Rome at the Tres Tabernæ.—εἰς ἀπάντησιν, cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:17, Matthew 25:6; Matthew 27:32 (W.H[431] margin), frequent in LXX, cf. Polyb., v., 26, 8. See Plumptre’s note on the meeting of Cicero on this same road on his return from exile, Senate and people going out to meet him; for St. Paul’s friends in Rome see Lightfoot, Philippians, Introd., and p. 171 ff.; Sanday and Headlam, Romans, 18, 27, 34, 40, etc., Godet, L’Épître aux Romains, ii., 599 ff. Aquila and Priscilla would be amongst them.—Ἀππίου φόρου: situated on the great Appian Way, near the modern Treponti, 43 miles from Rome, Cic., Ad Att., ii., 10; Hor., Sat., i., 5, 3, and for the distance, Itin. Ant., p. 107, Itin. Hier., p. 611 (see however on this point Encycl. Bibl., p. 267, 1899). Probably its name was due to Appius Claudius as the constructor of this part of the road, Livy, ix., 29, and even in the time of St. Paul it seems to have been connected in some way with the Appian family. It was situated at the northern end of a canal which ran thither from a few miles apparently above Terracina through the district of the Pomptine Marshes. The boatmen of whom Horace speaks in his lively description, u. s., were employed in conveying passengers in boats towed by mules along this canal. The Appian Way itself was parallel with the canal, so that the centurion and the Apostle might have travelled by either, and this uncertainty as to the route no doubt made the Roman Christians wait at Appii Forum. Night travellers apparently preferred the boat. The R.V. renders “The Market of Appius” (really the Greek is a transliteration of the Latin Appii forum, as the words stood in 1611, “forum” (not Forum), Hastings’ B.D.). The word apparently implied what we should call a borough or assize town, cf. Forum Julium, etc. The picture drawn by Horace suggests a sharp contrast between the holy joy of the Christian meeting and the coarse vice and rude revelry which so often filled the wretched little town (Plumptre, C. and H.).—Τριῶν Ταβ.: Tres Tabernæ, frequent halting-place, deversorium, about 33 miles from Rome on the Via Appia, probably at the point where the road from Antium crosses it, near the modern Cisterna. At this time it was a place of some importance, cf. Cic., Ad Att., ii., 12. The Latin tabernæ = a shop of any kind, and would require an adjective like deversoria (sc. taberna) to be equivalent to a tavern in the modern sense, Lewin, Saint Paul, ii. 224.—εὐχ. τῷ Θεῷ ἔλαβε θάρσος, cf. Job 17:9, whether Ramsay is correct in connecting this encouragement with the chronic disorder of the Apostle, which would often occasion fits of depression, it is evident that St. Paul, who was so full of sympathy, “the heart of the world,” and craved for sympathy from others, may well have felt that he was still a prisoner, and the recent perilous voyage may also have left its mark upon him. Anyhow, the meeting with Christian friends, and the thought that these Christians were not ashamed either of the Gospel of Christ, or of Paul the prisoner, even in Rome, may well have endued his soul with much strength. Bishop Lightfoot, Phil., pp. 16, 17 (so too Hort, Judaistic Christianity, p. 113), thinks that the words may intimate that it was a relief to St. Paul to find that some members at least of the Roman Church were favourably disposed towards him; but, as Zöckler points out, there is certainly no proof here, at least, that the Church was composed preponderatingly of Jewish Christians, or that Paul was glad that he received a welcome in a Church so composed, and we have no direct evidence of the existence of an anti-Pauline Jewish party among the Roman Christians; but in the presence of the brethren St. Paul would see a proof that this love was not merely in word or in letter, but in deed and in truth: “videbat Christum etiam Romæ esse,” Bengel.

[431] Westcott and Hort’s The New Testament in Greek: Critical Text and Notes.15. when the brethren heard of us] Between Puteoli and Rome there was constant communication, and the seven days of the Apostle’s sojourn in the port were amply sufficient to make the whole Christian body in Rome aware of his arrival in Italy and of the time when he would set out towards the city.

they came to meet us] If it were quite certain that the sixteenth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans was part of the letter which was sent to that Church we might make sure of the names of some who would be of the party which started from Rome to welcome St Paul on his arrival in Italy. Aquila and Priscilla, Epænetus; Andronicus and Junias, who are both spoken of as having been formerly fellow-prisoners with the Apostle; Rufus, Herodion and Apelles, who are mentioned there in terms of the greatest affection, could hardly have failed to be among the company at Appii Forum. But the whole closing chapter of the Epistle to the Romans appears to apply better to some Asiatic Church, probably Ephesus, than to Rome, and so it is unsafe to conclude that the Christians there mentioned were those who now met St Paul and cheered him on his way.

as far as Appii forum] [R. V. the Market of Appius] The name ‘Forum’ seems to have been given by the Romans to places such as we should now call Borough-towns. The town here mentioned was situated on the Appian Way, the great road from Rome to Brundusium. Both road and town owed their name to the famous Appius Claudius, the Roman Censor, and this town is mentioned by Horace as crowded with sailors, and abounding in tavernkeepers of bad character (Sat. i. 5. 4). It was distant rather more than forty miles from Rome, and as the Appian Way was only one of two ways by which travellers could go from Appii Forum to the Imperial City, it was natural that the deputation from Rome should halt here and wait for the Apostle’s arrival.

The three taverns] The name “Tabernæ” had in Latin a much wider signification than the English “Taverns” and was applied to any shop whatever, not as the English word to one where refreshments are sold. The site of this place has not been identified, but it is said to have been about ten miles nearer to Rome than Appii Forum; and the body of Christians who came as far as this had perhaps set out from Rome later than their brethren. The whole distance from Puteoli to Rome was about 140 miles. “Tres Tabernæ” is placed 33 miles from Rome.

he thanked God, and took courage] When thinking and writing about his coming to Rome, Paul had never thought that his first visit to it would be as a prisoner. He had hoped (Romans 1:11-12) to come as the bearer of some spiritual blessing, and to be comforted himself by the faith of the Roman brethren. How different was the event from what he had pictured. But yet here were some of the brethren, and their faith and love were made manifest by their journey to meet the Apostle, and no doubt they brought with them the salutations of all the Church. This was somewhat to be thankful for. The prisoner would not be without sympathy, and the spiritual gift might be imparted even though Paul was no longer free. The cause of Christ was advancing; and cheered by the evidence of this the Apostle’s heart revived.Acts 28:15. Οἱ ἀδελφοὶ, the brethren) Christians.—ἀπάντησιν, to meet us) Offices of kindness towards foreigners are implied in προπέμπειν, ἀπαντᾶν, to escort on the way, and to go to meet.—ἄχρις, even to) He met with some in Appii Forum, others afterwards at the Three Taverns.—εὐχαριστήσας, having given thanks) for having obtained his wish, to see Rome: ch. Acts 19:21; Romans 1:11, “For I long to see you;” Acts 15:23.—ἔκαβε θάρσος, took courage) actively. He saw that Christ is even at Rome. There was not always the same degree of confident energy even in Paul. He already forgets the troubles of his journey. Ammonius says that θράσος is an unreasonable impulse; but θράσος, a rational impulse.Verse 15. - The brethren, when, etc., came for when the brethren, etc., they came, A.V.; The Market of Appius for Appii forum, A.V. The brethren, when they heard of us. During the seven days' stay at Putcoli, the news of the arrival of the illustrious confessors reached the Church at Rome. The writer of that wonderful Epistle which they had received some three years before, and in which he had expressed his earnest desire to visit them, and his hope that he should come to them in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ (Romans 1:11, 12, 15; Romans 15:22, 24, 28-32), was now almost at their gates as a prisoner of state, and they would soon see him face to face. They naturally determined to go and meet him, to honor him as an apostle, and show their love to him as a brother. The younger and more active would go as far as Appii Forum, "a village on the Via Appia, forty-three miles from Rome" (Meyer). The rest only came as far as The Three Taverns, ten miles nearer to Rome. Alford quotes a passage from Cicero's letters to Atticus (it. 10), in which he mentions both "Appii Forum" and the "Tres Tabernae;" and refers to Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 17. 12:1) for a similar account of Jews at Rome, who, on hearing of the arrival of the pretended Alexander at Puteoli, went out in a body to meet him (πᾶν τὸ Ιουδαίων πλῆθος ὑπαντιάζοντες ἐξῄεσαν). He also quotes from Suetonius the passage in which he tells us that, on Caligula's return from Germany, "populi Romans sexum, aetatem, ordinem omnem, usque ad Vicesimum lapidem effadisse se" ('Calig.,' c. 4). Appii Forum was not far from the coast, and was a great place for sailors and innkeepers (Horace, 'Sat.,' 1:5, 3). The Via Appia was made by Appius Claudius, B.C. 442. It led from the Ports Capena in Rome through the Pontino marshes to Capua.
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