Acts 28:7
In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) The chief man of the island.—Literally, the first man. The term is found both in Greek and Latin inscriptions, at Malta, of the time of Augustus, as an official title. It probably designated the prefect or governor of the island, as distinct from the procurator. In the time of Cicero (In Verr. iv. 18) Melita was included in the “province” of Sicily, and if that arrangement continued, Publius would be the “legate” of the Sicilian proconsul. The Latin name falls in with the supposition of his holding some office of this kind.

Lodged us three days courteously.—We can hardly think of the hospitality of Publius as extended to the whole two hundred and seventy-six who had been on board, and the omission of the word “all,” which meets us in Acts 28:2, probably indicates a limitation to a chosen few, among whom St. Paul and St. Luke, and, most likely, the centurion Julius, were included. It is implied that after the three days they found a lodging for themselves. The word for “courteously” expresses kindliness of feeling rather than of manner.

Acts 28:7-10. In the same quarters — In the neighbourhood of the place where the ship was stranded, and the shipwrecked company had met with such kind treatment; were possessions of the chief man of the island

The chief in wealth, if not in power also; who received and lodged us three days — The first three days of their stay in the island, till they could all be disposed of properly through the island. For such goodness Paul was soon able to make some return. For the father of Publius lay sick of a fever — The providence of God so ordering it, that he should be ill just at this time, that the cure of him might be a present recompense to Publius for his generosity, and the cure of him by a miracle, a recompense particularly for his kindness to Paul. To whom Paul entered in and prayed — Thus showing that he could do nothing of himself, but looked to, and depended on, the living and true God alone for the recovery of the sick person; and laid his hands on him — Thus, not acting as a physician, to restore him by medicines, but as an apostle, to cure him by miracle; and healed him — Made him perfectly well in an instant. Thus, by an extraordinary fact, God recommended the gospel and the ministry of Paul to Publius and his family, and indeed to the whole island. For the news of this miracle was soon spread abroad in all parts of it, so that others also, who had diseases — Of any kind, as many as were able to travel, or could any way be brought; came and were healed — In the same manner, by prayer and the imposition of Paul’s hands. Who also honoured us, &c. — The sick people, who were thus miraculously cured, together with their relations and friends, being grateful to Paul, rewarded him and his company very liberally, performing to them, during their abode in the island, every office of kindness in their power; and, at their departure, lading them with such things as were necessary — For their voyage.28:1-10 God can make strangers to be friends; friends in distress. Those who are despised for homely manners, are often more friendly than the more polished; and the conduct of heathens, or persons called barbarians, condemns many in civilized nations, professing to be Christians. The people thought that Paul was a murderer, and that the viper was sent by Divine justice, to be the avenger of blood. They knew that there is a God who governs the world, so that things do not come to pass by chance, no, not the smallest event, but all by Divine direction; and that evil pursues sinners; that there are good works which God will reward, and wicked works which he will punish. Also, that murder is a dreadful crime, one which shall not long go unpunished. But they thought all wicked people were punished in this life. Though some are made examples in this world, to prove that there is a God and a Providence, yet many are left unpunished, to prove that there is a judgment to come. They also thought all who were remarkably afflicted in this life were wicked people. Divine revelation sets this matter in a true light. Good men often are greatly afflicted in this life, for the trial and increase of their faith and patience. Observe Paul's deliverance from the danger. And thus in the strength of the grace of Christ, believers shake off the temptations of Satan, with holy resolution. When we despise the censures and reproaches of men, and look upon them with holy contempt, having the testimony of our consciences for us, then, like Paul, we shake off the viper into the fire. It does us no harm, except we are kept by it from our duty. God hereby made Paul remarkable among these people, and so made way for the receiving of the gospel. The Lord raises up friends for his people in every place whither he leads them, and makes them blessings to those in affliction.In the same quarters - In that place, or that part of the island,

Possessions - Property. His place of residence.

The chief man - Greek: the first man. Probably he was the governor of the island,

7, 8. possessions of the chief man—"the first man."

of the island—He would hardly be so styled in the lifetime of his father, if his distinction was that of the family. But it is now ascertained that this was the proper official title of the Maltese representative of the Roman prætor to Sicily, to whose province Malta belonged; two inscriptions having been discovered in the island, one in Greek, the other in Latin, containing the same words which Luke here employs.

who received us—of Paul's company, but doubtless including the "courteous" Julius.

and lodged us three days courteously—till proper winter lodgings could be obtained for them.

This Publius is thought to have been governor for the Romans in this island. Howsoever, he was a man of great account and estate, that could provide for so many as were in the ship, and receive them into his own house. In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island,.... Or "the first man of the island"; so the governor of Melita used to be called, as appears by an inscription mentioned by Bochart, wherein a Roman knight is called , "the first of the Melitians"; for this island was under the Roman government, and the very name of this chief man shows it: it was first in the hands of the Africans, when Dido built Carthage, which was eight or nine hundred years before the time of Christ: Battus was king of this island, from whom it was taken by Hiarbas king of Lybia, or of the Getulians, and who also conquered Carthage; and it continued under the power of the Carthaginians, until they were conquered by the Romans; and then it was taken by Titus Sempronius, above two hundred years before Christ, in whose hands it was when the apostle was here; since then it has been taken by the Saracenes, though they held it not, being taken from them by Roger earl of Sicily, in the year 1090; and so it remained in the hands of the Sicilians, until the knights of Rhodes were driven out of that island by the Turks, in 1522; and then this was given them by the Emperor Charles the Fifth seven years after, on condition they would oppose the Turks, and defend that part of Christendom, which they bravely did: in the year 1565, it was besieged by Pialis Bassa, but without success (x); and it is said to be so well fortified, as that it is impossible it should be taken, unless through treachery or famine; it is now in the hands of the said knights: but whether this man was governor of the island or not, it may be reasonably thought that he was the richest man in the island, and in the greatest honour and dignity; and had near the shore, where the ship's company landed, many houses and much land, and farms and vineyards, and the like:

whose name was Publius; or Poplius, as some copies, and the Syriac version read. Publius was a name common with the Romans; it was with them a forename, by which such were called, who were "pupilli", or fatherless, for it is a contraction of "Popilius". There was one of this name who was bishop of Athens, said to succeed Dionysius the Areopagite there; who is thought by some to be the same here mentioned; who they say was first bishop in his own country, which through mistake they make to be Miletus, instead of Melita; and afterwards bishop of Athens, where he suffered martyrdom: but this is not likely, for even though he might be converted by the apostle, of which we have no account; and also became a preacher of the Gospel, of which there is no proof; it is not probable that he should leave his own country, and go to Athens, and take upon him the care of that church there: but whether he was afterwards converted or not, he was very kind to the apostle and the ship's company, as follows:

who received us, and lodged us three days courteously; this was a very considerable instance of humanity and hospitality, to receive so many strangers at once into his houses, as two hundred three score and sixteen; and give them food and lodging, for three days together, and that in such a kind, friendly, and cheerful manner: and thus, as Abraham and Lot, by receiving strangers, entertained angels at unawares, so Publius, though ignorant of it, entertained an apostle of Christ among those strangers; the benefit of which he afterwards enjoyed, and which was a compensation for his liberality and beneficence.

(x) Petav. Rationar. Temp. par. 1. l. 9. c. 11. & 12. p. 501, 507.

{4} In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously.

(4) It never yet was a regret to any man who received the servant of God, were he ever so miserable and poor.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 28:7-10. The otherwise unknown Publius, the πρῶτος τῆς νήσου, is to be considered as the chief magistrate of the island. But this is not so much to be proved from the inscription, discovered in Malta, quoted by Grotius and Bochart, Geogr. ii. 1. 26 (… ΠΡΟΥΔΗΝΖ. ΙΠΠΕΥΣ. ΡΟΜ. ΠΡΩΤΟΣ. ΜΕΛΙΤΑΙΩΝ …), as it may, both in that inscription and in this passage, be justly inferred from the nature of the case itself; for certainly the Roman governor, that is, the legate of the praetor of Sicily, to which praetorship Malta belonged (Cic. Verr. iv. 18), had the first rank on the small island.

ἀναδεξ. ἡμᾶς] Acts 28:10 proves that this ἡμᾶς applies not to the whole ship’s company (so Baumgarten), but to Paul, Luke, and Aristarchus (Acts 27:2). Certainly the wonderful course of things in connection with the bite of the viper had directed the interest of the humane man to Paul. And Paul repaid his kindness by the restoration of his sick father.

Acts 28:8. πυρετοῖς] The plural denotes the varying fever fits; Dem. 1260. 20; Lucian, Philops. 9. Observe how accurately Luke as a technical eye-witness designates the disease.

δυσεντερίᾳ] dysentery, Herod. viii. 115; Plat. Tim. p. 86 A; see Cels. iv. 15. Yet the later neuter form δυσεντερίῳ (see Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 518) is so strongly attested that it has been rightly adopted by Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Bornemann.

Acts 28:9-10. ἐθεραπεύοντο] namely, by Paul, Acts 28:8.[177] The conjecture, based on the following ἩΜᾶς (Acts 28:10), that Luke as a physician was not unconcerned in these cures (Lekebusch, p. 382), is not only against the analogy of Acts 28:8, but altogether against the spirit and tendency of the narrative, and indeed of the book.

ΠΟΛΛΑῖς ΤΙΜΑῖς ἘΤΊΜ. ἩΜᾶς Κ.Τ.Λ.] They honoured us with many marks of honour; and when we set sail (were on the point of sailing), they placed on (the ship) what was necessary (provisions, and perhaps also money and other requisites for the journey). Many expositors render τιμαῖς ἐτίμ., muneribus ornarunt; but in that case, as in Sir 38:1, the context must undoubtedly have suggested this special showing of honour (by rewards). Comp. Xen. Anab. vii. 3. 19. Even in the well-known honos habendus medico (Cic. ad Div. xvi. 9) the general honos is not to be exclusively restricted to the honorarium. In 1 Timothy 5:17 also τιμῆς is quite generally honoris. While the very command of Christ, Matthew 10:8, is antagonistic to the explanation praemiis orna-runt in our passage, the context is also against it, which represents the actual aid (ἐπέθεντο τὰ πρὸς τ. χρείαν) as a proof of gratitude different from that quite general ΠΟΛΛΑῖς ΤΙΜΑῖς ἘΤΊΜ. ἩΜᾶς, both in point of substance (ΤΙΜΑῖςΤᾺ ΠΡῸς ΤῊΝ ΧΡΕΊΑΝ) and in point of time (ἈΝΑΓΟΜΈΝΟΙς).

Tradition makes Publius afterwards bishop of Malta; Martyrolog. 21 Jan.

[177] From the popular representation, ver. 9, it is not to be inferred, with Baumgarten, that not a single sick person remained uncured in the island. This Luke would have known how to bring out with corresponding emphasis, especially if he, like Baumgarten, had thought on the fulfilment of Exodus 15:26, and had conceived to himself Malta in a fanciful manner as emblematic of the completed kingdom of God.Acts 28:7. χωρία: “lands,” R.V. Vulgate, prædia. In this passage τόπος and χωρίον occur together, but whilst the former is used of place indefinitely, the latter is used of a definite portion of space enclosed or complete in itself; cf. John 4:5; Grimm-Thayer’s Syn[427], sub v., τόπος.—τῷ πρώτῳ: an official title technically correct in Malta, Ramsay, St. Paul, p. 343, honoraria appellatio, so too Schmiedel, Encycl. Bibl., i., 47, 1899; as his father was alive, he would not have been called from his estates (see, however, O. Holtzmann, Neutest. Zeitge-schichte, p. 106), but the inscriptional authorities confirm the first view, a Greek inscription giving πρῶτος Μελιταίων καὶ Πάτρων, applied to a Roman Knight, Prudens by name, ἱππεὺς Ῥ., so that Publius may well have been of the same rank, and in a Latin inscription we have municipii Melitensium primus omnium, see Zahn, Einleitung, ii., p. 422; Blass, in loco; Zöckler, Holtzmann, Knabenbauer, also Alford, Lewin, Hackett, Renan; possibly the conjecture may be correct that the Greek and Latin inscriptions give a translation of a title which the Romans already found in vogue in the island. Publius would be naturally the chief authority in the island under the Roman prœtor of Sicily, Cic., Verr., iv., 18.—Ποπλίῳ: Greek form for the prænomen Publius, “nomen a populus derivatum,” Blass; Ramsay, p. 343, thinks that Poplius may = the Greek rendering of the nomen Popilius, but that the peasantry may have spoken of him familiarly by his prætnomen Publius. Tradition makes him bishop of Malta (Felten, Knabenbauer).—ἀναδεξ.: only here of hospitable reception = ὑποδέχεσθαι, Acts 17:7; φιλοφ., 2Ma 3:9, 4Ma 8:5; in the former passage φιλοφ. ἀποδεχθείς, so in Jos., Ant., xiv., 8, 5, φιλοφ. ὑποδέχεσθαι, and instances in Wetstein, see above on Acts 28:2.—ἡμᾶς: some take the word as referring to Paul and his companions, Luke and Aristarchus (as it seems to lead on to what follows), perhaps including Julius, whilst others point out that he may have entertained the whole crew for the short space of time mentioned, as the ἡμέρας τρεῖς indicates that the entertainment was only provisional; probably he had a large number of slaves (Nösgen, Weiss). Publius may well have been officially responsible for the needs of the Roman soldiers and their prisoners, but φιλοφ. indicates that the duty was performed with generous courtesy.—ἐξένισεν: entertained (as his guests), cf. Acts 10:6; Acts 10:23, etc., Hebrews 13:2. The traditional site was at Civita Vecchia, the old capital of the island, where St. Paul spent the three months, and another tradition places it on the way from St. Paul’s Bay to the capital.

[427] synonym, synonymous.7. In the same quarters were possessions of &c.] The A.V. omits the conjunction, and the indefinite word “possessions” is improved on by R. V. “Now in the neighbourhood of that place were lands belonging to, &c.” The nearest place to what is believed to have been the scene of the wreck is the town now called Alta Vecchia.

the chief man of the island] The Greek word is “Protos,” which is known from inscriptions (see Bochart, Geogr. ii. 1. 26) to have been the official title of the governor of Melita. The island of Melita belonged to the province of the Sicilian Prætor (Cicero, Verr. iv. 18), whose legate Publius probably was. Tradition makes him become bishop of Malta.

who received us] This was only natural in the Roman official, for Paul was under the charge of a Roman officer, and had appealed for hearing to the Roman Emperor.

and lodged [R. V. entertained] us three days] This was until arrangements could be made for a more permanent dwelling-place. As they must remain in the island through the stormy weather of winter, before they could start again, it would be needful to provide them with settled quarters. They could not be guests for the whole three months.Acts 28:7. Τοῖς περὶ) in the locality and in the neighbourhood—τῷ πρώτῳ, the chief man) Publius does not seem to have had official authority, but the leading position which wealth gives.—τερῖς ἡμέρας, for three days) at the first time (at the early part) of our stay at Melita.Verse 7. - Now in the neighborhood of that place for in the same quarters, A.V.; lands belonging to for possessions of, A.V.; named for whose name was, A.V.; entertained for lodged, A.V. Lands (χωρία); so John 4:5; Actsi. 18,19; 4:34; 5:3,8. The chief man of the island (τῷ πρώτει τῆς νήσου). It appears that, with his usual accurate knowledge gained on the spot (see Acts 16:22. note), St. Luke here gives to Publius his peculiar official title of primus. For Ciantar (1. 215), quoted by Smith, gives a Greek inscription on a marble, which in his day was standing near the gates of Citta Vecehia, in Malta, in which are the words, Προύδενς ἵππευς Ρωμ πρῶτος Μελιταίων κ.τ.λ., "Prudens, a Roman knight, chief of the Maltese." The Latin inscription, which was discovered in 1747, has the same title, MEL PRIMUS. "chief of the Maltese." It may not improbably be the Greek and Latin translation of the old Phoenician title of the "headman," in Hebrew הָרלֺאשׁ, in Chaldee ראֵשׁ, as in the title ראֵשׂ הַגְלוּתָה, the chief of the Captivity. When the Romans succeeded the Carthaginians in the possession of the island, they would be likely to perpetuate the title of the chief magistrate. In this case the chief was also a Roman, as his name of Publius indicates. Alford says that he was legatus to the Praetor of Sicily, and so 'Speaker's Commentary,' Kuinoel, Meyer, ere.' Received us; ἀναδεξάμενος, only here (and Hebrews 11:17 in a different sense) for the more common ὑποδέχομαι. Kuinoel quotes from AElian, 'Var. Hist.,' 4, 19, the similar phrase, Υπέδεξατο αὐτοὺς. . . φιλοφρόνως: and from 2 Macc. 3:9, Φιλοφρόνως ὑπὸ τοῦ ἀρχιερέως ὑποδεχθείς. Entertained us (ἐξένισεν); see Acts 10:6, 18, 23, 32; Acts 21:16; and in the active voice in Hebrews 13:2. Courteously; φιλοφρόνως, only here in the New Testament, but we find φιλόφρων, courteous, in 1 Peter 3:8. We must understand the "us" probably to include the centurion, St. Paul, St. Luke, Aristarchus, and possibly one or two others, but not the whole two hundred and seventy-six. Hebrews 13:2 had a striking fulfillment here. During the three days they would have opportunity to procure suitable winter quarters. The chief man (τῷ πρώτῳ)

Official title, without reference to his rank and possessions. Though not occurring as the official designation of the governor of Malta in any ancient author, it has been found in two inscriptions discovered in the island.

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