Acts 28:16
And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him.
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(16) And when we came to Rome.—This journey led them through Aricia (now La Riccia), where they would probably either stop for the night or for their noon-tide meal. From that point, as they neared the city, the Appian Road would present more of its characteristic features—the tall milestones, the stately tombs, of which that to Cæcilia Metella, the wife of Crassus, is the most representative example, and which, lining either side, gave to the road the appearance of one long cemetery, and bore their record of the fame or the vanity, the wealth or the virtues, of the dead. As they drew nearer still, St. Paul’s companions would point out to him the Grove and the sacred spring in the valley of Egeria, now let to a. colony of squatters of his own race.

“Hic ubi nocturnæ Numa constituebat amicæ,

Nunc sacri fontis nemus et delubra locantur

Judæis, quorum cophinus fœnumque supellex.”

[“Here, by the sacred scenes of Numa’s love,

We let on lease the shrines, the stream, the grove,

To pauper Jews, who bring their scanty store

Of hay and hamper, and who ask no more.”]

—Juvenal, Sat. iii. 12.

He would pass the cemetery of the Jews of Rome, lying on the east of the Appian Way, which within the last few years has been discovered and explored, in the Vigna Randanini, and the Columbaria (now in the Vigna Codini) of the imperial household, with which, as themselves of the libertini class, many of his friends and disciples were even then so closely connected. He would see, perhaps, even then, the beginning of the Catacombs, where the Christians, who would not burn their dead like the heathen, and who were excluded from the cemetery of the Jews, laid their dead to sleep in peace, in what was afterwards the Catacomb of St. Callistus. It may be noted here that the earliest inscription on any Jewish burial-place in Italy is one found at Naples, of the time of Claudius (A.D. 44) (Garucci, Cimitero degli antichi Ebrei, p. 24; Mommsen, Inscriptt. Neap. Lat. 6467), and the earliest Christian inscription with any note of time, of that of Vespasian (De Rossi, Inscriptt. Christ. No. 1). It lies in the nature of the case, however, that at first both Jews and Christians were likely to bury their dead without any formal record, and had to wait for quieter times before they could indulge in the luxury of tombstones and epitaphs. Continuing his journey, the Apostle and his companions would come within view of the pyramid of Caius Cestius, would pass under the Arch of Drusus, which still stands outside the Porta di S. Sebastiano, and enter the city by the Porta Capena, or Capuan Gate, proceeding thence to the Palace of the Cæsars, which stood on the Palatine Hill, and looked down, on one side upon the Forum, on the other upon the Circus Maximus.

Paul was suffered to dwell by himself.—The centurion, on arriving at the Palace of the Cæsars, would naturally deliver his prisoners to the captain of the division of the Prætorian Guard stationed there as the emperor’s body-guard. The favour shown to St. Paul may fairly be considered as due to the influence of the centurion Julius, from whom he had, from the first, received so many marks of courtesy. The Prefect of the Prætorium was the natural custodian of prisoners sent from the provinces, and about this time that office was filled by Burrus, the friend and colleague of Seneca. Before and after his time there were two prefects, and the way in which St. Luke speaks of “the captain of the guard” may fairly be accepted as a note of time fixing the date of the Apostle’s arrival. The Praetorian camp lay to the north-east of the city, outside the Porta Viminalis. The manner in which St. Luke speaks of his “dwelling by himself” implies that he went at once, instead of accepting the hospitality of any friends, into a hired apartment. Tradition points to the vestibule of, the Church of Santa Maria, at the junction of the Via Lata and the Corso, as the site of his dwelling; but it has been urged by Dr. Philip, at present working as a missionary in the Ghetto at Rome, in a pamphlet, On the Ghetto (Rome, 1874), that this site, forming part of the old Flaminian Way, was then occupied by arches and public buildings, and that it was far more probable that he would fix his quarters near those of own countrymen. He adds that a local tradition points to No. 2 in the Via Stringhari, just outside the modern Ghetto, as having been St. Paul’s dwelling-place, but does not give any documentary evidence as to its nature or the date to which it can be traced back.

With a soldier that kept him.—Better, with the soldier. The arrangement was technically known as a custodia libera. The prisoner, however, was fastened by a chain to the soldier who kept guard over him, and so the Apostle speaks of his “chain” (Acts 28:20), of his being a “prisoner” (Ephesians 3:1; Ephesians 4:1), an ambassador in chains (Ephesians 6:20), of his “bonds” (Philippians 1:7; Philippians 1:13; Philippians 1:17; Colossians 4:18). It was almost a matter of course that the guard would from time to time be relieved, and so the Apostle’s bonds, and the story of his sufferings, and what had brought them on him, would be known throughout the whole Prætorian camp from which the soldiers came. (See Note on Philippians 1:13.)

Acts 28:16. And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard — Or prefect of the pretorian band, according to his commission. It was customary for prisoners who were brought to Rome, to be delivered to this officer, who had the charge of the state prisoners. The person who now held this office was the noted Afranius Burrhus. But Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him — Dr. Lardner proves, from Ulpian, that the proconsul was to judge whether a person, under accusation, was to be thrown into prison, or delivered to a soldier to be guarded, or committed to sureties, or trusted on his parole of honour. The humanity with which Julius all along treated the apostle merits particular attention. At Sidon he allowed him to go ashore to visit his Christian friends. And, when they were shipwrecked on the island of Melita, he kept the soldiers from killing the prisoners that he might save Paul. And because some brethren at Puteoli wished Paul to remain with them a week, he was so good as to grant their desire. And, as this worthy person is said by Luke to have courteously entreated Paul through the whole of the voyage, he may have bestowed on him favours which are not particularly mentioned. Those, however, which are mentioned deserve notice, as proofs of esteem and love from a heathen very honourable to the apostle. Julius’s regard for Paul was founded, at first, on the favourable opinion which Festus, Agrippa, and the tribunes, had formed of his cause, and which no doubt, they made known to Julius before he left Cesarea. But his esteem of the apostle must have increased by what he himself observed in the course of their acquaintance. For, in his conversation, Paul expressed such just views of God and religion, and of the duties of morality; and, in his actions, showed such benevolence to mankind, and such a concern for their real interest, as could not fail to endear him to so great a friend to virtue, as this centurion seems to have been. Besides, if Paul was represented to Julius as one who could work miracles, that circumstance alone would induce him to treat him with great respect. And more especially, when he became himself a witness to the accomplishment of Paul’s prediction concerning their shipwreck, and to the miraculous cures which he performed on the sick, in the island of Melita. Julius, therefore, having so great a friendship for Paul, and, it may be, a favourable opinion of the Christian doctrine, we may suppose that when he delivered the prisoners to Afranius Burrhus, who was then pretorian prefect, he did justice to Paul by representing him, not only as entirely innocent of any real crime, but as a man of singular probity, who was highly favoured of God, and endowed with extraordinary powers. To this representation, as well as to Festus’s letter, the apostle was probably indebted for the indulgence which was shown him immediately on his arrival at Rome. For he was not shut up in a common jail, with the other prisoners, but from the very first was allowed to dwell in his own hired house, with a soldier, who kept him by means of a chain fastened to his right wrist, and to the soldier’s left arm. This is the chain of which Paul so often speaks in his epistles, calling it his bonds; and which he showed to the Jews, when they came to him on the third day after his arrival. Who, that had met Paul in these bonds, would have guessed at his real character, and have imagined him to have been one of the most upright, benevolent, and generous of mankind? Yet such the apostle undoubtedly was. See Macknight and Doddridge.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.The captain of the guard - The commander of the Praetorian cohort, or guard. The custom was, that those who were sent from the provinces to Rome for trial were delivered to the custody of this guard. The name of the prefect or captain of the guard at this time was Burrhus Afranius (Tacitus, History, 12, 42, 1).

But Paul was suffered ... - Evidently by the permission of the centurion, whose favor he had so much conciliated on the voyage. See Acts 27:43.

With a soldier that kept him - That is, in the custody of a soldier to whom he was chained, and who, of course, constantly attended him. See Acts 24:23; Acts 12:6.

16. when we came to Rome—the renowned capital of the ancient world, situated on the Tiber.

the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard—the Prætorian Prefect, to whose custody, as commander of the Prætorian guard, the highest military authority in the city, were committed all who were to come before the emperor for trial. Ordinarily there were two such prefects; but from A.D. 51 to 62, one distinguished general—Burrus Aframus, who had been Nero's tutor—held that office; and as our historian speaks of "the captain," as if there were but one, it is thought that this fixes the apostle's arrival at Rome to be not later than the year 62 [Wies]. But even though there had been two when Paul arrived, he would be committed only to one of them, who would be "the captain" who got charge of him. (At most, therefore, this can furnish no more than confirmation to the chronological evidence otherwise obtained).

but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a—"the"

soldier that kept him—"guarded" him. (See on [2141]Ac 12:6). This privilege was allowed in the case of the better class of prisoners, not accused of any flagrant offense, on finding security—which in Paul's case would not be difficult among the Christians. The extension of this privilege to the apostle may have been due to the terms in which Festus wrote about him; but far more probably it was owing to the high terms in which Julius spoke of him, and his express intercession in his behalf. It was overruled, however, for giving the fullest scope to the labors of the apostle compatible with confinement at all. As the soldiers who kept him were relieved periodically, he would thus make the personal acquaintance of a great number of the Prætorian guard; and if he had to appear before the Prefect from time to time, the truth might thus penetrate to those who surrounded the emperor, as we learn, from Php 1:12, 13, that it did.

The captain of the guard; the praefectus praetorio, being commander-in-chief over the soldiers, and unto whom the prisoners of state were usually committed.

Paul was suffered to dwell by himself; God by this means giving Paul an opportunity to go abroad at his pleasure; though chained, as Acts 28:20, yet he might preach the gospel, and that was not bound, 2 Timothy 2:9. And now God is with Paul, as he was with Joseph, in prison, Genesis 39:21, and procures him favour. And when we came to Rome,.... To the city itself:

the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard; or general of the army; or, as some think, the governor of the "praetorian" band of soldiers, who attended the emperor as his guards: his name is thought to have been Burrhus Afranius; to him Julius the centurion delivered all the prisoners he brought from Caesarea, excepting Paul, to be disposed of by him, in the several prisons, or jails, to whom it belonged to take care of such persons: this clause is wanting in the Alexandrian copy, and in the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions:

but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him: this was owing, either to the letter which Festus sent to Rome concerning him, and his case; by which it appeared, that he was no malefactor, and therefore to be used in a different manner from the rest of the prisoners; or rather to the intercession of the centurion, who had all along used him in a very civil and courteous manner; who requesting this favour had it granted, that Paul should not be put into the common prison with the rest, but should dwell in an apartment by himself; or, as the Ethiopic version renders it, "at his own will"; where he himself pleased, for he dwelt in his own hired house, Acts 28:30; only he was under the care and custody of a soldier, who constantly attended him wherever he went; and which could not be otherwise, seeing he was chained, as in Acts 28:20 and his chain was put on his right hand, and fastened to the left hand of the soldier, that had him under his keeping; so that wherever he was or went, the soldier must be likewise: hence that passage in Seneca (x),

"as the same chain joins together the prisoner and the soldier, so those things which are unlike go together; fear follows hope.''

(x) Epist. 5.

And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by {f} himself with a soldier that kept him.

(f) Not in a common prison, but in a house which he rented for himself.

Acts 28:16. The two praefecti praetorio (commanders of the imperial body-guard) had the duty of providing for the custody of accused persons handed over from the provinces to the Emperor, Plin. Ep. x. 65; Philostr. Vit. scholast. ii. 32. That there was at that time only one praefect, namely Burrus, who died before the beginning of March 62, and after whose death there were again two, does not follow from the singular τῷ στρατοπ. (in opposition to Anger, Wieseler, and others); see Introduction, § 4. It is to be taken as: “to the praefectus praetorio concerned” namely, who then had this duty of receiving (comp. ὁ ἱερεύς Acts 14:13), and to whose dwelling, therefore, the centurion repaired with a view to deliver over the prisoners. This does not suppose (as Wieseler objects) that the praefect received them in person; he had his subalterns.

καθ ̓ ἑαυτόν] for himself, apart from the other prisoners. See Acts 28:23; Acts 28:30. This special favour is explained partly from the report of Festus, which certainly pointed to no crime (Acts 25:25, Acts 26:31), and partly from the influence of the centurion who respected Paul, and would specially commend him as having saved the lives of all on board.

σὺν τῷστρατιώτῃ] This was a praetorian (Grotius in loc.; Krebs, Opusc. p. 151 f.), to whom Paul, after the manner of the custodia militaris, was bound by the arm with a chain (Acts 28:20). See on Acts 24:27.Acts 28:16.—ἤλθομεν, see critical note. They would enter by the Porta Capena. On the words which follow see critical note. They are retained by Blass and Ramsay, although these writers differ as to their interpretation, while Lightfoot, Phil., pp. 7, 8, admitting that the balance of existing authorities is against them, inclines to see in the words a genuine tradition, even if no part of the original text. For Ramsay’s view see above on Acts 27:1. Blass takes the expression τῷ στρατ. to refer to Afranius Burrus (and to this identification Lightfoot attaches much probability). It is striking that both before and after Burrus there were two “prefects,” Tac., Ann., xii., 42, xiv., 51, whereas Luke writes τῷ στρατ., “the captain of the guard”; but on the other hand we can scarcely draw any decisive argument from this, because the writer may refer merely to the “prefect” in charge of this particular case, whether he had a colleague or not.—καθʼ ἑαυτόν, see critical note for addition in [432] text. Not only the goodwill of the centurion, and the services which St. Paul had rendered, but also the terms in which Festus had reported the case in the elogium, would combine to secure this favour. The words do not imply that Paul was kept in prison in the camp apart from the other prisoners, but, as in Acts 28:23; Acts 28:30, that he was allowed to have a house or lodging in the city (Ramsay); he could scarcely have summoned the Jews to the camp, Acts 28:17 (Bethge), see also Lightfoot, Phil., p. 103.—τῷ φυλάσσοντι αὐτὸν στρατ.: custodia militaris, he was still bound to a soldier by a light chain, so that he could not go in and out as he pleased, but the form which his custody took has been well compared to that which Herod Agrippa underwent, who was confined at one time in Rome, Jos., Ant., xviii., 6, 5, at first in the camp, and afterwards on the accession of Gaius in a house of his own, although still under military custody, cf. Acts 24:27.

[432] R(omana), in Blass, a first rough copy of St. Luke.16. And when we came to Rome] There was much that might have been said of this land journey from Puteoli to Rome, and the writer of the Acts was one of the fellow-travellers. But it is foreign to his purpose to dwell on anything which does not concern the spread of the Gospel according to the command of Jesus (Acts 1:8), and so he leaves all the glorious sights and scenery unmentioned, and tells us no word of the many monuments which stood along the Appian Way, only noticing, what his history required, the two little bands, that represented Christ’s cause and the work of the Gospel, in the great city to which they were approaching.

the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but] For these words there is no text in the oldest Greek MSS. which we possess. But the words are not of the same character as many of the sentences which seem introduced into the text of the Acts by later hands. They are entirely independent of anything either in the Acts or the Epistles of St Paul, and it is not easy to understand why they should have been added to the original text. There is moreover such similarity between the ending of the first and last words in the clause, that the eye of an early scribe may have passed over from the one to the other, and thus omitted the clause, and in this way may have originated the text of the MSS. which leave the passage out.

The “Captain of the Guard” here alluded to was probably the “præfectus prætorio,” one of whose duties was to take charge of those persons from the provinces whose causes were to be brought before the Emperor.

Paul was suffered to dwell [R. V. abide] by himself] This lenity was probably due to the commendation of the centurion Julius, who cannot but have found that he had charge of no ordinary prisoner in St Paul, and having been saved and aided by the Apostle’s advice would naturally wish to do something in return.

with a soldier that kept [R. V. guarded] him] The custom was that the prisoner should be chained by one hand to the soldier while he was on guard. And to this chain the Apostle often makes allusion in the Epistles (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon) written during this imprisonment. See also below, Acts 28:20. The frequent change of the person who guarded him would give the Apostle an opportunity of spreading the knowledge of his cause, and the message of the Gospel, very widely among the Prætorian guards who had him in charge, and many things would have been heard by them from the soldiers who had sailed with St Paul, which would make them ready to attend to the narrative of their prisoner.Acts 28:16. Τῷ Παύλῳ) A more recent transcriber has formed a neat paraphrase: ὁ ἑκατόνταρχος παρέδωκε τοὺς δεσμίους τῷ στρατοπεδάρχῃ· τῷ δὲ Παύλῳ, κ.τ.λ.[157] What became of the other prisoners is of no interest to us. We may suppose that Festus had written to Rome in as mild terms as possible; with which comp. ch. 25 and 26—ΚΑΘʼ ἙΑΥΤῸΝ) by himself, wherever he thought fit. He got a lodging, which he hired, Acts 28:23; Acts 28:30.—στρατιώτῃ, a soldier) who was joined to Paul by a chain, as was the custom, and who might thus continually hear his teaching.

[157] Hence the shorter reading both is declared by the margin of Ed. 2 to be the reading better established, and has been received by the Germ. Vers.—E. B.

The words ὁ ἑκατόνταρχοςστρατοπεδάρχῃ are omitted by AB Vulg. Memph.: and so Lachm. Rec. Text and Tisch. support the words without any very old authority save the later Syr.—E. and T.Verse 16. - Entered into for came to, A.V. and T.R.; the words which follow in the T.R. and the A.V., the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but, are omitted in the R.T. and R.V., following א, A, B, and many versions; Alford retains them, Meyer speaks doubtfully; abide for dwell, A.V.; the soldier that guarded him for a soldier that kept him, A.V. The captain of the guard (A.V.); τῷ στρατοπεδάρχῃ: in Latin praefectus praetorio (Στρατόπεδον, was the Greek name for the castra praetoriana). There were usually two great officers so called, and it was their special duty to take charge of prisoners sent from the provinces to be tried at Rome. 'Vinctus mitti ad praefectos praetorii met debet" (Pliny, 'Epist.,' 10:65). It has been argued, from the mention of "the captain of the guard," that Paul's imprisonment must have occurred when Burrus was sole prefect, as related by Tacitus ('Annal.,' 12:42, 1), and that hence we get a precise date for it (so Wieseler, 'Chronologic de Apostolisch. Geshichte'). But this can hardly be depended upon. Luke might speak of "the prefect," meaning the one to whom the prisoners were actually committed, just as we might speak of a magistrate writing to "the secretary of state," or an ambassador calling upon "the secretary of state," the matter in hand determining which of the three secretaries we meant. With the soldier that guarded him. It appears from ver. 20 that St. Paul was subjected to the custodia militaris, i.e. that he was fastened by a single chain to a praetorian (στρατιώτης), but, as a special favor, granted probably on the good report of the courteous Julius, was allowed to dwell in his own hired house (ver. 30); see Acts 24:23. The centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard

The best texts omit.

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