Acts 28:8
And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him.
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(8) Lay sick of a fever and a bloody flux.—Literally, with fevers and dysentery, both words being used by St. Luke with professional precision. The plural, “fevers,” probably indicates the attacks of a recurrent fever, and its combination with dysentery would, according to Hippocrates, who also uses the plural form (Aph. vi. 3), make the case more than usually critical. The disease is said to be far from uncommon in Malta.

Prayed, and laid his hands on him.—The union of the two acts reminds us of the rule given in James 5:14-15; and the close sequence of the work of the healing upon the escape from the serpent’s bite, of the juxtaposition of the two promises of Mark 16:18.

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.A bloody flux - Greek: dysentery.

And laid his hands on him ... - In accordance with the promise of the Saviour, Mark 16:18. This miracle was a suitable return for the hospitality of Publius, and would serve to conciliate further the kindness of the people, and prepare the way for Paul's usefulness.

8. the father of Publius lay sick of a fever—"fevers." The word was often thus used in the plural number, probably to express recurring attacks.

and of a bloody flux—"of dysentery." (The medical accuracy of our historian's style has been observed here.)

to whom Paul entered in, and prayed—thereby precluding the supposition that any charm resided in himself.

and laid his hands on him, and healed him—Thus, as our Lord rewarded Peter for the use of his boat (Lu 5:3, 4, &c.), so Paul richly repays Publius for his hospitality. Observe the fulfilment here of two things predicted in Mr 16:18—the "taking up serpents," and "recovering of the sick by laying hands on them."

A bloody flux; a painful and dangerous disease; the torment in the bowels frequently causing a fever.

And prayed; Paul could do nothing of himself, and therefore begs of God the recovery of Publius’s father. It is God only that kills and makes alive, 1 Samuel 2:6.

Laid his hands on him; this imposition of hands was commonly used in miraculous cures, as Matthew 9:18 Mark 6:5; and is joined with prayer, Matthew 19:13, which it might be a symbol of. Thus Publius was well paid for what he did for Paul and his company. Relieving of the poor and distressed is frequently rewarded in this world, and not only in the world to come. And God now recommends the gospel and the ministry of Paul by this miracle also: for none could do such things as these, unless God were with him. And it came to pass that the father of Publius,.... So that Publius was not an old man, though of so much dignity and wealth: the Arabic version, contrary to all copies, and other versions, reads, "the son of Publius":

lay sick of a fever; or fevers, of different sorts, a complication of them, which sometimes is the case; unless this was an intermitting fever, and the several fits of it are intended; or rather the plural number is put for the singular, to denote the vehemence of it, and which was attended with another disorder, and might be brought on by it:

and of a bloody flux; or dysentery, a pain of the bowels, as the Syriac version renders it; or an ulceration of the bowels, as the Arabic version; which occasioned a discharge of blood, so that his case was very threatening. This disease, according to modern writers (y), is attended with a fever. The word "dysentery" here used properly signifies that kind of flux of the belly, characterized by the frequency of stools, or dejections, mixed with blood, and accompanied with gripes: the fever, ulcer, &c. which attend it, are not essential to the disease; though many both of the ancients and moderns think the ulcer is.--There are three kinds of "dysenteries"; the "first" when a laudable blood is evacuated from a mere plethora, or plenitude, without any disorder of the intestines, as in the haemorrhoidal flux; the "second" when a thin watery blood is evacuated, called the "hepatic" flux, though really arising from haemorrhoidal vessels; the "third" kind, which is that that is properly called the dysentery, is when blood is cast out, mixed with a purulent matter in the excrements: this is either "benign", i.e. without a fever, and not contagious; or "malignant", which is attended with a pestilential fever, and frequently ravages whole cities and provinces, happening most commonly in armies; in the last stage, a sort of caruncles are frequently ejected along with the purulent matter, which are difficult to be accounted for, unless from an excoriation and ulceration of the intestines: sometimes the intestines are even gangrened: this seems to have been the case of the father of Publius, which makes the following cure the more remarkable:

to whom Paul entered in; into the room where he was, no doubt with the consent and leave, if not at the request of Publius; the Ethiopic version adds, "and he entreated him to put his hand upon him"; that is, either Publius asked this favour of the apostle for his father, having heard of the affair of the viper, from whence he concluded there was something divine and extraordinary in him; or the father of Publius asked this for himself:

and prayed and laid his hands on him, and healed him; when Paul had entered the room, and found in what a bad condition the sick man was, he either kneeled down and prayed by him, or stood and prayed over him, and for him, that God would restore him to his health; and this he did, to let them know that he himself was not a god; and that the cure that would now be wrought would be from God, and not from himself, and therefore all the glory should be given to God; and he laid his hands on him, as a sign or symbol, or rite that was used in extraordinary cases, and agreeably to the direction and promise of Christ, Mark 16:18; and upon this a cure followed; both the diseases left him at once, and he was restored to health.

(y) See Chambers's Cyclopaedia in the word "Dysentery".

And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him.
Acts 28:8. πυρετοῖς: the use of the plural for a fever is peculiar to St. Luke in N.T., and quite medical, Hobart, J. Smith, Zahn (cf. Luke 4:38-39); although the plural is found in Dem., Lucian in the sense of “intermittent attacks of fever,” but Hobart shows that the term was very common in Hipp., and he also quotes from Aretæus and Galen. Each of the other Evangelists uses πυρετός, but in the singular, never in the plural. The disease was common in Malta (J. Smith and C. and H.).—δυσεντερίᾳ, see critical note, “dysentery,” R.V.; “Lucas medicus morbos accuratius describere solet,” Wetstein; another medical term, peculiar to St. Luke in N.T., often joined with πυρετός by Hippocrates (Hobart, Zahn).—συνεχ., cf. Luke 4:38, συνεχομένη πυρετῷ μεγάλῳ, where St. Luke not only speaks of πυρ. μέγας, where Matthew and Mark (Matthew 8:14 and Mark 1:30) have simply πυρετός, but also introduces the term συνεχ. where they have πυρέσσουσα; ἔχεσθαι and συνέχ. are both used by the medical writers as in these passages, although no doubt συνέχεσθαι is sometimes found with a word like νοσήματι in classical Greek (cf. Grotius. in loco, Hobart, Zahn, Weiss), so in Hippocrates, ὑπὸ δυσεντερίης ἐχομένῳ, and τοῖσιν ὑπὸ τῆς ἡρακλείης νόσου συνεχομένοισιν; nine times in St. Luke, elsewhere only three times in N.T., and once in St.Matthew 4:24, in a way similar to St. Luke, but joined there not only with νόσοις, but with a word (βασάνοις) which the medical writers (so St. Luke) never employ of bodily disease.—Ιάσατο αὐτόν, cf. Mark 16:18, the word is more frequently used by the medical writers for “healing” than any other (Hobart), and it occurs in St. Luke’s writings fourteen times and once figuratively, in St. Matthew four times and once figuratively, once in St. Mark, three times in St. John, once figuratively, and in the rest of the N.T. three times, but in each case figuratively. In answer to the attempts to regard the miraculous element as an addition to the narrative here, as in the previous chapter, it may be sufficient to quote the remarks of Weizsäcker: “The stormy voyage and shipwreck form the central point of the narrative: to this is appended the residence at Malta. In the former, Paul reveals himself as a prophet; in the latter, as the possessor of miraculous power. We should make a vast mistake, however, if we were to infer from this that the simple travel-record had here been revised by a writer intent upon artificially glorifying the Apostle as a worker of miracles. The narrative is an indivisible whole; it is impossible to disentangle the mere history of travel from it, or to strip away the miraculous additions,” Apostolic Age, ii., p. 126, E.T.8. And it came to pass, that] [R.V. “and it was so, that”]. The R. V. is the better modern rendering. The expression means “It happened that, &c.,” not that after the arrival of St Paul the father fell ill, which might be taken as the meaning of the A. V.

of a fever and of a bloody flixe] [R. V. “of fever and dysentery”]. The words are technical such as a physician, as St Luke is reputed to have been, would be likely to use in describing the disease. The first, which is in the plural number, implies the fits of fever which occur at intervals in such diseases as ague.Acts 28:8. Ἐγένετο, It came to pass) There is described a disease most serious, in respect to the age of the patient and the complication of the maladies.—πυρετοῖς, fevers) A complicated fever; or one of such a kind that he often fell into it. The Plural has this force.Verse 8. - It was so for it came to pass, A.V.; fever for a fever, A.V.; dysentery for of a bloody flux, A.V.; unto for to, A.V.; and laying, etc., healed for and laid, etc., and healed, A.V. The father of Publius. The fact of the father of Publius being alive and living in Malta is a further indication that the term ὁ πρῶτος τῆς νήσου ισ an official title. Lay sick. Συνέχεσθαι ισ also the usual medical expression for being taken sick of any disease (see the numerous passages quoted by Hobart, pp. 3, 4, from Galen and Hippocrates). It is used by St. Luke, with πυρετῴ (Luke 4:38), and in the same sense in Matthew 4:24. Lay. Κατακεῖσθαι is used especially of lying in bed from sickness (see Mark 1:30; Mark 2:4; Luke 5:25; Acts 9:33). It answers to decumbo in Latin. Sick of fever and dysentery (πυρετοῖς καὶ δυσεντερία συνεχόμενον). The terms here used are all professional ones. Πυρετός, in the plural, is of frequent occurrence in Hippocrates, Aretaeus, and Galen, but elsewhere in the New Testament always in the singular; δυσεντερία, only found here in the New Testament, is the regular technical word for a "dysentery," and is frequently in medical writers coupled with πυρετοί or πυρετός, as indicating different stages of the same illness. Laying his hands on him. So Mark 16:18, "They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover" (see also Matthew 9:18; Matthew 19:13, 15; Mark 5:23; Mark 6:5; Mark 7:32; Mark 8:23, 25; Luke 4:40; Luke 13:13; Acts 9:12). It is also spoken of as an accompaniment of prayer in confirmation, ordination, etc. It has been remarked as curious that the two actions of taking up serpents and healing the sick by the laying on of hands should be in such close juxtaposition both here and in Mark 16:18. It suggests the thought whether Luke had seen the passage in St. Mark; or whether the writer of Mark 16:18 had seen Acts 28:8. Or is the coincidence accidental, arising out of the facts? Sick (συνεχόμενον)

Lit., taken or holden. See on taken, Luke 4:38.

Fever (πυρετοῖς)

Lit., fevers. This peculiarly medical use of the plural is confined to Luke in the New Testament. It denotes successive and varying attacks of fever.

Bloody flux (δυσεντερίᾳ)

Only here in New Testament. Our word dysentery is nearly a transcript of it. Hippocrates often speaks of the two complaints in combination.

Healed (ἰάσατο)

See on Luke 6:19.

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