And the barbarous people showed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The barbarous people . . .—It has been urged in favour of Meleda that this description is more applicable to the people of that island than to those of Malta, whom Diodorus Siculus (v. 12) describes as “very rich, practising many trades, manufacturing fine clothes, and dwelling in large and splendid houses.” It is obvious, however, that St. Luke uses the term, as St. Paul does (Romans 1:14; 1Corinthians 14:11), and as was then common, as applicable to all races that did not speak Greek, and that such a term as “Scythian” (Colossians 3:11) was used to describe what we should call “barbarians” or “savages.” For him “barbarian” was like the term “native,” which our travellers apply indiscriminately to Fiji Islanders and Cingalese. The language of Malta at the time, if not absolutely Punic, was probably a very bastard Greek. The inscriptions which have been found in the island are, as was natural, in the Greek and Latin, which were used as official languages by their rulers.
No little kindness.—Literally, no common (or average) philanthropy. The idiom is the same as that of the “special miracles” of Acts 19:11.
And received us . . .—The word implies both shelter and hospitality. Warmth, above all things, was needful for those who had been chilled and drenched; and for this purpose, probably in some open space, or atrium, a large fire was lighted.
Because of the present rain . . .—The rain followed naturally on the cessation of the gale. The “cold” shows that the wind was not the Sirocco, which is always accompanied by heat.Acts 28:2. And the barbarous people showed us no little kindness — In our distressed circumstances; for they kindled a fire, &c., because of the present rain — Which had followed the storm; and because of the cold — With which, in our wet clothes, we were ready to perish. It must be observed, that the Romans and Greeks termed all people barbarians that differed from them in their language or customs. All mankind are therefore comprehended by the apostle under the distinction of Greeks and Barbarians, Romans 1:14. The Greeks and Romans, however, were in many respects more barbarous themselves (according to the common meaning of that term) than these islanders, who, as we learn from Diodorus Siculus, (lib. 5. page 204,) were noted for their civility to strangers, and who certainly, on this occasion, gave a striking proof of that civility. They were not, indeed, as here appears, much cultivated, but the generosity which they showed to these shipwrecked strangers was far more valuable in the sight of God, and all good men, than any varnish which the politest education could give, where it did not teach humanity and compassion.Romans 1:14. The Greeks regarded all as barbarians who did not speak their language, and applied the name to all other nations but their own. It does not denote, as it does sometimes with us, "people of savage, uncultivated, and cruel habits, but simply those whose speech was unintelligible." See 1 Corinthians 14:11. The island is supposed to have been populated at first by the Phoecians, afterward by the Phoenicians, and afterward by a colony from Carthage. The language of the Maltese was that of Africa, and hence it was called by the Greeks the language of "barbarians." It was a language which was unintelligible to the Greeks and Latins.
The rain - The continuance of the storm.
showed us no little—"no ordinary"
kindness, for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain—"the rain that was on us"—not now first falling, but then falling heavily.
and because of the cold—welcomed us all, drenched and shivering, to these most seasonable marks of friendship. In this these "barbarians" contrast favorably with many since bearing the Christian name. The lifelike style of the narrative here and in the following verses gives it a great charm.The barbarous people; so the Grecians and Romans called all other nations that did not receive their customs, nor speak their language, 1 Corinthians 14:11; and to this day the African coast over against this island is called Barbary.
For they kindled a fire, &c.: how far is this humanity of heathens beyond that inhumanity which some that are called Christians use towards those that are shipwrecked, and their goods that come on shore! 1 Corinthians 14:11, it being neither Hebrew, Greek, nor Latin; for as the inhabitants were originally a colony of the Phoenicians, they spoke their language; and now though it is inhabited by such as are called Christians, they speak the Saracen or Arabic language, and little different from the old Punic or Phoenician language: however, though the inhabitants could not understand their language, they understood their case, and were very civil and humane to them, and showed them extraordinary kindness:
for they kindled a fire; or set fire to a large pile of wood; for a large fire it must be to be of service to such a number of people, in such a condition as they were:
and received us everyone: though their number were two hundred threescore and sixteen;
because of the present rain, and because of the cold; for a violent rain fell on them, as is usual upon a storm, and much wetted them, so that a fire was very necessary; and it being winter or near it, it was cold weather; and especially they having been so long in a storm, and now shipwrecked; and some having thrown themselves into the sea, and swam to the island; and others having been obliged to put themselves on boards and planks, and get ashore, and were no doubt both wet and cold; so that nothing was more needful and more agreeable to them than a large fire.And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Acts 28:2. Βάρβαροι] from a Roman point of view, because they were neither Greeks nor Romans, but of Punic descent, and therefore spoke a mixed dialect, neither Greek nor Latin. It was not till the second Punic war that Malta came under the dominion of the Romans, Liv. xxi. 51.
οὐ τ. τυχοῦσαν] See on Acts 19:11.
προσελάβ.] they took us to themselves. Comp. on Romans 14:1.
διὰ τ. ὑετὸν τ. ἐφεστ.] on account of the rain which had set in. Comp. Polyb. xviii. 3. 7 : διὰ τὸν ἐφεστῶτα ζόφον.
ψῦχος] thus to be accented, although in opposition to a preponderance of codd. (see Lipsius, gramm. Unters. p. 44), not ψύχος. See Hom. Od. x. 555; Soph. Phil. 17.Acts 28:2. βάρβαροι, i.e., they were not a Greek-speaking population, cf. Romans 1:14 (not barbarians in the modern sense of rude and uncivilised); they were of Phœnician descent, and came under the Roman dominion in the second Punic War, Livy, xxi., 51. Ramsay, St. Paul, p. 343, sees in the title an indication that the writer was himself of Greek nationality. For the use of the term in classical Greek, and by Philo and Josephus, see “Barbarian” (F. C. Conybeare), Hastings’ B.D., Grimm-Thayer, sub v., and Mr. Page’s note. (In 2Ma 2:21 the writer describes Judas Maccabæus as chasing “barbarous multitudes,” τὰ βάρβαρα πλήθη, retorting on the Greeks the epithet habitually applied by them to all nations not their own, Speaker’s Commentary.) See further the evidence of coins and inscriptions in Zahn, Einleitung, ii., 422, proving as against Mommsen that the Phœnician tongue had not died out in the island, and cf. above, Introd., p. 8.—οὐ τὴν τυχ., cf. Acts 19:11, “nocommon kindness,” R.V. (and so A.V. in Acts 19:11).—φιλαν.: see note on Acts 27:3. The word is found in LXX, Esther 8:13, 2Ma 6:22; 2Ma 14:9, 3Ma 3:15; 3Ma 3:18, and in classical Greek, but it was a word which a physician would be very likely to employ, for Hippocrates speaks of “philanthropy” in a physician as ever accompanying a real love of his profession. Galen distinguishes between those who healed through “philanthropy” and those who healed merely for gain, and even a more generous diet for the sick was called φιλανθρωποτέρα τροφή, Hobart, p. 296. The word is used here only and in Titus 3:4 in N.T.—ἀνάψ. γὰρ πυράν, Luke 12:49, Jam 3:5; if we read the simple verb (see critical note) we have it three times with λύχνον in Luke 8:16; Luke 11:33; Luke 15:8, and nowhere else in N.T. (except with meaning “to touch”). πυράν: only here and in Acts 28:3 in N.T., cf. Jdt 7:5, 1Ma 12:28, 2Ma 1:22; 2Ma 10:36 (see H. and R.), and similar phrases in classical Greek.—προσελάβοντο, cf. Acts 17:5, Acts 18:26 for similar use, and five times by St. Paul; cf. 2Ma 10:15, see critical note.—ἐφεστῶτα, cf. Polyb., xviii. 3, 7; in N.T. 2 Timothy 4:6, only in Luke and Paul, præsentem, Wetstein, “present,” A. and R.V. Weiss and De Wette take it as meaning that the rain suddenly came upon them.—ψῦχος: this and the mention of the rain prove that St. Paul’s ship could not have encountered a sirocco wind, i.e., from the south-east, for this only blows for two or three days, and even in November is hot and sultry (Hackett). W.H read ψύχος, but Weiss, Wendt, Blass as above, see Winer-Schmiedel, p. 68.
 Westcott and Hort’s The New Testament in Greek: Critical Text and Notes.2. And the barbarous people] [R. V. barbarians] The word is used in the original, as it was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Those who did not speak their language were to them always “barbarians” not necessarily in our modern sense but as strange and foreign folks. The language spoken in Malta was probably a Phœnician dialect, as the island had received most of its inhabitants from Carthage, but had come under Roman rule in the second Punic war (Livy, xxi. 51).
shewed us no little [R. V. no common] kindness] The same Greek expression is used Acts 19:11 of St Paul’s miracles. There both versions give “special” as the rendering. And we might here read “shewed us especial kindness.”
received us every one] [R. V. all] i.e. took us under their care. At first of course the hospitality would be shewn by kind treatment on the beach, evidenced by their lighting a fire. Afterwards, as the stay was of three months’ duration, the sailors and prisoners would find quarters in the dwellings of the natives. Paul, the centurion, and some others were received into the house of the chief magistrate. The rain continued after they had got ashore, and the storm had so lowered the temperature that the first thing to be done was to make a large fire.Acts 28:2. Βάρβαροι, the Barbarians) A word of a middle sense between good and bad, not in itself a name of reproach. Drusius derives it from the Syriac bar, outside: so that barbarus should be said of one who uses an unknown tongue.—γὰρ, for) Much praise is given to their prompt kindness towards strangers, who were many in number, though that kindness did not cost them much.Verse 2. - Barbarians for barbarous people, A.V.; common for little, A.V.; all for every one, A.V. Barbarians; i.e. not Greeks or Romans, or (in the mouth of a Jew) not Jews. The phrase had especial reference to the strange language of the "barbarian." See St. Paul's use of it (Romans 1:14; 1 Corinthians 14:11; Colossians 3:11); and compare Ovid's saying ('Trist.,' 3:10, 37), "Barbarus hic ego sum, quia non intelligor ulli;" and that of Herodotus (2, 158), that the Egyptians call all barbarians who do not speak the Egyptian language(Kuinoel). The word is thought to be formed onomate-poetically, to express the confused sound which a strange language has in a man's ears. Kindness; φιλανθρωπία, here and Titus 3:4 (comp. Acts 27:3). Received us all. The whole party, numbering two hundred and seventy-six. The present rain, and... cold; showing that the gale still continued, and the wind was still north-east. The plight of the shipwrecked party must have been lamentable, drenched to the skin, with no change of clothes, a cold wind blowing. Probably the hearty meal they had taken on beard ship was the means of saving their lives.
From the Roman point of view, regarding all as barbarians who spoke neither Greek nor Latin. Not necessarily uncivilized. It is equivalent to foreigners. Compare Romans 1:14; 1 Corinthians 14:11. The inhabitants of Malta were of Carthaginian descent. "Even in the present day the natives of Malta have a peculiar language, termed the Maltese, which has been proved to be essentially an Arabic dialect, with an admixture of Italian" (Gloag).
No little (οὐ τυχοῦσαν)
See on special, Acts 19:11. Rev., much better, "no common kindness."
See on the kindred adverb courteously, Acts 27:3.
Present rain (ὑετὸν τὸν ἐφεστῶτα)
Lit., which was upon us, or had set in. No mention of rain occurs up to this point in the narrative of the shipwreck. The tempest may thus far have been unattended with rain, but it is hardly probable.
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