Acts 21
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
God has so made us and so related us that we find ourselves closely and tenderly attached, one to another, in various bonds. It is impossible that these should not have great influence on our minds as the children and servants of God, great effect on our lives as co-workers with Christ. What is that effect?

I. HUMAN AFFECTION WAS A LARGE CONTRIBUTION TO OFFER TO SACRED SERVICE. We find it inciting all the disciples, including "the wives and the children," to accompany Paul on his way, to pray with and for him, and thus to cheer and hearten him (ver. 5). We find it leading Philip (vers. 5-7), and afterwards Mnason (ver. 16) and "the brethren" (ver. 17), to entertain the ambassador of Christ with open-handed and full-hearted friendship. And we find it now constantly leading men and women

(1) to educate and train,

(2) to entertain,

(3) to shelter,

(4) to influence by example,

(5) to evangelize the sons and daughters of men.

II. HUMAN AFFECTION SOMETIMES FORCIBLY INTERPOSES BETWEEN MEN AND THE SACRED SERVICE THEY WOULD RENDER. It did so here. Paul and his party had to tear themselves away from the elders of Ephesus (ver. 1). It required a very great effort to "get away." Clearly the entreaties of affection produced a very strong impression indeed on the susceptible heart of the apostle, and called forth the tender and touching remonstrance of the text (ver. 13). It had a like effect on the mind of the Master himself, and evoked a rebuke of no ordinary strength (Matthew 16:21-23). When conjugal, or parental, or filial, or fraternal love lays its detaining hand on the shoulder and says, "Go not on this perilous mission; stay with us in these pleasant places of affection," it is hard for the human soul to resist that gentle but powerful pressure.

III. HUMAN AFFECTION HAS OFTEN MUCH TO URGE ON ITS OWN BEHALF. The disciples at Tyre claimed to found their counsels on communications which they had from God himself. They said "through the Spirit" that Paul "should not go up," etc. (ver. 4). Undoubtedly the disciples at Caesarea based their dissuasions on the announcements of Agabus (ver. 11), and they probably pleaded, with no little force, that the Divine intimation of danger was given on purpose that the impending evil might be averted. Often with us, now, human affection has much to say that is plausible, and even powerful. It makes out a strong case why special spiritual faculty should refrain from sacrificing itself by presumptuous confidence, why it should "not tempt the Lord its God" by running into needless danger, why it should reserve itself for other paths of usefulness where it could walk with equal fruitfulness and without the threatening injury.

IV. CHRISTIAN DEVOTEDNESS RISES ABOVE THE STRONG. TEMPTATION. With Paul it "will not be persuaded" (ver. 14); with him it says, "I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die... for the Name of the Lord Jesus" (ver. 13). The Huguenot will not have the white ribbon bound round his arm even by the tender hand of the sweetest human love. Men will walk to the stake, and women to the open grave wherein their living bodies are to be enclosed, even though there are voices, gentle and strong, calling them to the home of affection. The will of the Divine Savior has been found, and will be found to the end of time, mightier than even these forces of affection.

V. HUMAN AFFECTION WILL RECOGNIZE ITS DUTY AND ACCEPT THE WILL OF GOD. It still says, after a while, "The will of the Lord be done" (ver. 14). - C.

I. THE POWER OF CHRISTIAN LOVE TO BRING THE UNKNOWN NEAR. At Tyre Christian disciples, loving Christian hearts, are found. They warn Paul against possible coming dangers, they entertain the little band, and dismiss them with commendatory prayer. "The finding of disciples must have been a main feature in the diaries of the apostle." To meet with welcome, with hospitality, with congenial discourse upon journeys, - how refreshing! Well may it remind us of the universal providence, and the living love which is ever at work to overcome strangeness, and to bring the far-off near! Delays in business need be no delays in the work of the kingdom of God. While the departure from Tyre was delayed, Paul found time to instruct the disciples at Tyre.

II. PHILIP THE EVANGELIST. The name is an excellent one for a true teacher. It means one who carries the good news. All that we know of him from Acts 6:5; Acts 8:5; Acts 26, 46, and his earnest preaching of Jesus, bears out this character. It seems to have been his object and his peculiar gift to make clear from the Old Testament Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. The gift of his daughters seemed to be a fulfillment of Joel's prophecy (Joel 3:1). They present the type of the calling of all Christian women to appropriate forms of Christian service.

III. AGABUS AND THE GIRDLE OF PAUL. He gives a symbolic prophecy of coming trial. The girdle might be a symbol of complete dedication to the service of the Lord Jesus and of his gospel - of Christian duty. The loins once girt up must not be relaxed. Only when the will has been subdued to God and his service are we truly free; and this even when others would use compulsion upon us. "Then the strong band encircles our life and girds us for eternity." It is a blessing when our eyes are opened to the coming trial, and our hearts are at the same time strengthened to meet it. This gives assurance that all that occurs is according to the blessed will, and must work together for good.

IV. "THE WILL OF THE LORD BE DONE." Often it is harder to contend with the weaknesses of others than with one's own. See Millais's touching picture of the 'Huguenot.' Some silken band of dearest affection would detain us as we are preparing to march to the post of duty (cf. Genesis 43:3, 4). Love means well, but does not always point in God's way (John 20:17). When Luther was on his way to Worms, at place after place warning friends met him; and close to the town his beloved Spalatin sent to him to beg he would not venture into the scene of danger. "Were there as many devils in Worms as tiles on the roofs, I would go in," was his reply. Paul's heart is touched; he feels the spring of manly strength giving way. But with a strong effort of faith and will he overcomes. "I am ready to die at Jerusalem for the Name of the Lord Jesus." "Not the cross for the cross's sake, but the cross for the sake of Christ;" to be made like to his death (Philippians 3:10); - these were the ideals of his life. And so the love of the Christian flock to the pastor must give way to the pastor's love for Christ. "The will of the Lord be done!" It is the best concluding word of all our deliberations. It silences all objections to God's ways; our thoughts must be suppressed before the thought of the Only Wise, and our power bow before that of the Omnipotent. Our affection for others must withdraw its claims in favor of his, whose we are and whom we serve. This motto may well suit the servant of God in all the changes of his pilgrimage, against all the opposition of his foes, against the temptations of flesh and blood, of near and dear affection, and the weakness of his own heart. - J.

I. THE TRIAL OF PAUL'S FAITH. In the separation from dear brethren and the prospects of suffering. The long days of quiet thought, sailing through the Greek Archipelago to Cos, Rhodes, Patara, and round the south-west of Cyprus to Tyre, deepened the resolution of his heart and prepared him to encounter the temptations from weaker brethren. At Tyro the great crisis of his faith came much nearer. Disciples said, "Set no foot in Jerusalem." The conflict was between the voice of the Spirit in the purpose of his heart, and the prophetic warnings of coming danger which he could not doubt. It was not that one command contradicted another command; but that, like Abraham, he had to obey, although to obey must be to suffer. Faith conquered.

II. The trials that are borne in the spirit of humble confidence work out BLESSING IS THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. Sympathy and affection. Prayer. Simplicity and reality. Mutual encouragement - Paul strengthened by the interview; the Christians of Tyro helped to aim at a higher life by contact with such an example of spiritual heroism. Influence on the homes and families. Christianity was already accomplishing a great work in social life. Tyre was commercially decaying, but here was a new principle of prosperity, better than the worldly one. The position of such a port made its Christianity a blessing to the whole world. The visit of Paul would be remembered and spread abroad. - R.

The narrative given of the apostle's progress toward Jerusalem suggests some serious and difficult questions. We now consider one of them. Once and again it appears as if the Divine Spirit sent messages which should have stopped the apostle, and prevented his going on to the holy city; and St. Paul evidently resisted these attempted hindrances. Then was he right in so doing? If he was right, how can we explain his conduct? The circumstances may be carefully compared with those narrated concerning the prophet who was unfaithful to the commission distinctly entrusted to himself (see 1 Kings 13:1-25). "It seems at first somewhat startling that St. Paul should reject what is described as an inspired counsel; or, if we believe him also to have been guided by the Spirit, that the two inspirations should thus clash. We remember, however, that men received the Spirit 'by measure,' and the prophets of the Churches at Tyre, as elsewhere, though foreseeing the danger to which the apostle was exposed, might yet be lacking in that higher inspiration which guided the decision of the apostle." This explanation is given in a simpler form in the ' Speaker's Commentary.' "The foreknowledge was inspired; the advice based upon it was merely a human inference. St. Paul accepted the information, but did not yield to the warning. Christ's approval of his conduct is implied in Acts 23:11." This suggestion in explanation of the difficulty may be fully considered and illustrated.


(1) those which were general to his apostolic work; and

(2) those which were special to particular occasions, as e.g. at Troas (Acts 16:9). We may, therefore, be quite sure that he knew perfectly well when he was under Divine lead; and, on this occasion, we have evidence that he knew what God's will for him was, and that he was taking the path of duty in going up to Jerusalem. In Acts 20:22 he distinctly says, "Now I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem." No doubts or questions disturbed his own mind. He knew that God led; and he knew that, regardless of consequences, it was his simple duty to follow. It may be shown that still, in our day, a man may have a full and clear knowledge of God's will for him, and then he is bound to do that will, however men's prophecies and advice and warnings may entice him aside. When a man has inward conviction of what is right for him, all prophesying of consequences becomes temptation to be resisted.

II. OTHERS HAD INTIMATIONS OF FACTS THAT WOULD OCCUR. These came by the Spirit. But carefully note the distinction - no one was commanded, in the Name of the Lord, to tell St. Paul that he must not go up to Jerusalem. We have only the fact noticed that certain persons, in the exercise of their prophetic gift, foresaw the consequences of his so going, and stated what they anticipated. This comes out plainly in the fuller account of what Agabus did and said (ver. 11). His intimation was simply of facts. Agabus does not seem to have felt entitled to add any personal persuasions. This distinction between the leadings of the Spirit in St. Paul and the leadings of the Spirit in the prophets and prophetesses, removes all difficulty of antagonistic inspirations. In the apostle the leadings concerned duty; in the prophets it concerned only facts. What relation the knowledge of the facts had to the doing of duty we shall presently see.

III. OTHERS ADDED PERSUASIONS BASED ON THEIR OWN PROPHETIC KNOWLEDGE. But the persuasions were their own, not the inspiration of God's Spirit, and St. Paul was in no sense bound to follow them. No conceivable authority could lie in them. The character of the attempts to hinder the apostle are clearly seen in ver. 12: "And when we heard these things, both we [St. Paul's companions], and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem." Manifestly the apostle would have been altogether wrong if he had yielded to these kind friends, and resisted the inward monitions and leadings of God's Spirit. Oftentimes in Christian life we find that our most anxious work is to resist the importunities and affectionate entreaties of those who would keep us from the work to which God plainly calls us. Illustration: keeping men back from consecration to ministerial and missionary life.

IV. SUCH PERSUASIONS TESTED ST. PAUL'S LOYALTY TO THE SPIRIT'S INWARD LEADINGS. And this is the reason why the prophetic intimations of coming facts were given. How deeply the apostle felt both the prophecies and the persuasions is seen in ver. 13. Would he be drawn aside from the plain path of duty by them? They made it hard to be faithful to God's will as he knew it; but he did not yield. Well he knew that mere consequences resulting from action, as men see them, never can decide the right or the wrong of the action. A man must always act upon the light and lead which God gives him, and accept the issues which Divine providence is pleased to bring out of his conduct. A man is always fight who is true to the witness that God makes in his own heart. Show how much of Christian failure is really due to yielding under the temptations that would remove us from following out our convictions. So St. Peter tried to hinder his Lord and Master, and received this severe answer, "Get thee behind me, Satan." Distinguish, however, very clearly between mere self-willedness and the conviction of an inward Divine leading such as open and trusting hearts need never fail to recognize. This example of the great apostle should impress upon us that, if we distinctly know what God would have us do, then no kind of peril of circumstances or fear of consequences may be permitted to lead us aside from the plain path of duty. We must ever be loyal to the "inward lead." - R.T.

The contents of this verse are almost unique for the day to which they belong. And at the same time they seem to link together some of the best of their own time with some of the best of modern time. The scene is familiar to us, which was once strange enough, and Tyre will be held in remembrance, wheresoever the gospel shall be preached, for one bright, redeeming trait. For we have here a significant token of what Christianity will avail to do, without any direct aim at it for the time being, in and with family life.



III. IT HAS HALLOWED THE COMBINED EFFECT OF THE UNITED LIFE OF THE FAMILY. Nature itself does not make a whole family so really one as Christianity does. Many a time we read of a whole family being baptized, when presumably not only the wife but little children were embraced in the number. And now wives and children of the "disciples," in helpful company, cheer the steps of the departing Paul and his special fellow-laborers. True as we feel this was to nature, it is true to a nature that had long become disaccustomed to its better self, in those days of Tyre. And Christianity and Christian occasion have now begun to enable nature to "lift its head again?'

IV. IT HAS FOUND A NEW WAY OF LINKING FAMILY WITH FAMILY. How often is the family unit a wonderfully selfish unit! It is truly something larger than the individual, and so is the selfishness somewhat larger also - larger in its sphere of exposure, and larger in its spreading mischief, and larger in its shame. There are not a few who would be astonished to think they could be taxed with selfishness as individuals, who nevertheless may be powerful factors in making, sanctioning, keeping, the selfishness of the family. This latter covers itself also under many a more sacred name. And because the family should be the very shrine of one affection, those who compose it "do this," but mournfully "leave the other undone." But now family with family attended the departing steps of Paul. And had they never caught the idea before, now they see or begin to see that it takes many a family of men to number up the one family of the "Father," "from whom every family in heaven and earth is named" (Ephesians 3:14, 15, see Revised Version).

V. IT FINDS THE GENUINE LARGER FAMILY CIRCLE IN PRAYER. They all "kneeled down on the shore, and prayed." It was a prayer of pilgrim apostles, pilgrim fathers and mothers, and young pilgrim children.

1. Well did they kneel on the sands.

2. Well did they pray in sight of life's sea.

3. Well did all lift their eyes and thoughts from sand and sea to heaven in prayer; but meantime, forgot selves awhile, that all might pray for others. Paul prayed for them of Tyre, fathers and mothers and children, that they might love and do and keep the faith. And if no tongue spoke it, who can doubt that the loving, regretful group, who so grudged losing Paul into the midst of the dangers that were waiting for him at Jerusalem, commended him also to God and the Word of his grace? and commended that Word itself to God? - B.

The scene described here may be compared with that at Miletus (Acts 20:26, 27). The impression that it was the last time they would see the great apostle among them intensified the expression of feeling, but it could hardly be said to increase the affection which the disciples cherished towards St. Paul. That strong personal attachment the apostle won wherever he went. Some men are remarkable for the power of drawing forth the affection and love of those whom they seek to serve for Christ's sake. Some men are never more or other than officials, valued and trusted only for "their work's sake." Others are beloved "for their own sakes," and the work they do is glorified by the beauty which, to men's eyes, they put upon it in the doing of it. Some think that personal affection for a pastor or a teacher is rather a hindrance to him, as the truth he teaches may come to be valued for his sake, and not for its own. Others urge that truth never really reaches them and sways them until it comes with the persuasions of one whom they wholly trust and whom they intensely love. Every true pastor will dread putting himself in any sense between souls and Christ; but every pastor will rejoice if, by winning the love of men, he can bring them to love Christ. Picturing the scene of out text, Canon Farrar says, "When the week was over St. Paul left them; and so deeply in that brief period had he won their affections, that all the members of the little community, with their wives and children, started with him to conduct him on his way. Before they reached the vessel, they knelt down side by side, men and women and little ones, somewhere on the surf-beat rocks near which the vessel was moored, to pray together - he for them, and they for him - before they returned to their homes; and he went once more on board for the last stage of the voyage from Tyre to Ptolemais, the modern Acre." We dwell on the following points: -

I. ST. PAUL'S POWER TO COMMAND AND TO WIN AFFECTION. This was a part of his natural gifts. It belonged to his disposition and character. But we may especially note two things:

(1) he freely gave love to others, and only those who can love can win love;

(2) he had a singular power of spiritual insight, and wherever that is found men have unusual charm to the view of others.

II. THE KIND OF FAREWELL BROUGHT OUT THE EXPRESSIONS OF AFFECTION. All farewells test friendship and love. This was peculiar,

(1) as being a last farewell;

(2) as taken immediately before anticipated scenes of sorrow and affliction. Compare our Lord's view of Mary's act, anointing his feet with nard. It was a preparatory anointing for burial, and so an unusual expression of love.


(1) its power to constrain him to do his very best;

(2) the gracious and tender tone which it puts on all his teaching and relations;

(3) the adaptations it enables him to make of the truth to individuals, since love is the greatest revealer of men to their fellows; and

(4) the hopefulness it leads him to cherish concerning those for whom he labors.

IV. THE INFLUENCE WHICH SUCH AFFECTION HAS ON THOSE WHO FEEL IT. Especially notice that it opens their hearts to receive instruction and counsel as nothing else can; and it constantly acts as an inspiring force, moving them to be worthy of those whom they love. The minister's great appeal is to men's hearts. If he can win their love, he will not fail to instruct their minds and sway their wills. - R.T.

As the days went on, the pressure upon the heart of Paul increased. The house of Philip the evangelist the scene of the last great test of his preparation for the future. The four virgin daughters, and Agabus from Jerusalem, repeated the prophetic warnings; but no one said by the voice of the Spirit, "Go not." Human voices must sometimes be resisted. Weeping may break a heart, but it ought not to break a resolution formed in the sight of God and by his Spirit.

1. An example of lofty spiritual discernment. Distinguishing between human voices and Divine; between a prospect of suffering and a prospect of defeat; between being bound in body and being bound in spirit - Paul was rejoicing in the liberty of his soul, it was of little consequence to him what they might do with his limbs - between the plots and enmity of men and the victorious grace of God.

2. An encouragement to steadfastness in doing the Divine will. We must not listen to persuasions when God calls us on. We must be ready for all; but, the course being once clearly opened to us, then a humble fixedness of heart is the best preparation for the path of duty.

3. An instance of the controlling influence of character in the Christian Church. The weaker yield to the stronger if the stronger remain firm. Those that think much of external difficulties and dangers have to be lifted out of their weakness by the words and example of the loftier and more heroic souls. - R.

It might be thought that Paul had already sufficiently run the gauntlet of warnings touching the consequences of going to Jerusalem (Acts 19:21; Acts 20:16, 22, 23; Acts 21:4, 11). If his resolution could have been altered, or his conscience stilled an hour, this was the hour. But, instead of showing any symptom of being "in a strait betwixt two," even in an hour of such tenderness, it is now that "his heart is fixed." The needle points unerringly and without a quivering deflection, and moral resolution touches the point of moral sublimity. And we may justly sound here the praise of conscience; for in advancing degrees, we see -




IV. THE PERFECTION OF THE CONSCIENCE IN ITSELF, WHEN IT OWNS TO NO TREMBLING, NO WAVERING. There was no coldness, no hardness, no unrelentingness of heart, in that grand hour, when Paul's heart was ready to break for human affection's sake, but was a very tower of strength toward Christ as in him. - B.

This strong declaration, "I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the Name of the Lord Jesus," sounds very much like the language of St. Peter to his Master. "Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake." And yet there is the most vital distinction between the spirit and tone and temper of the two sayings, and the difference comes fully out in the actions that followed. Self-trusting Peter failed in the testing hour. Christ trusting Paul went on to win the martyr's crown. This is the subject before us; but in introducing it there should be some estimate of the blended strength and weakness of Peter's character before his fall. The boldness and forwardness were valuable qualities for one who was to be a leading gospel witness and missionary; but before the humbling experience of his fall, Peter's forwardness meant undue self-reliance. So our Lord had on one occasion to speak more sternly to him than to any other of his disciples, even saying, "Get thee behind me, Satan." There should be also a due estimate of the highly wrought condition of Paul's feeling when he uttered the seemingly boastful words of our text. "The intense sensitiveness of St. Paul's nature shows itself in every syllable. It was with no Stoic hardness that he resisted their entreaties. They were positively crushing to him. He adhered to his purpose, but it was as with a broken heart. In spite of this, however, his martyr-like, Luther-like nature carried him forward. Bonds and imprisonment! - these he had heard of when he was yet at Corinth and Ephesus, before he had started on his journey; but what were they to one who was ready to face death?" The comparison may take three forms.

I. ST. PETER'S BOASTING WAS THAT OF INEXPERIENCE, He talked about dying with Jesus, but he did not know what dying was. He had not suffered much in his discipleship. Persecutions nor shame had yet touched him. He talked about dying as we all do until God has taken us and set us down at the very edge of the borderland. Many of us feel very confident that we can master temptation, endure affliction, and face death; while the truth may be that we know nothing of the force or the subtlety of either, and may well be humble, and look on to untried scenes saying, "Lead thou me on."

II. ST. PAUL'S BOASTING WAS THAT OF EXPERIENCE. He had fully proved what he could do, and what he could bear, for Christ's sake. He had been sick and ill; he had faced death by shipwreck; he had been stoned by the mob, and left for dead. He was always bearing about in the body the "dying of the Lord Jesus." He might speak strongly and confidently; for there could be nothing in his coming lot that had not been represented in his past experiences. He knew well that he labored day by day with his life, as it were, in his hands. There is all the difference between his words and St. Peter's that we find between the confident utterance of a youth and the calm expressions Of the aged. And St. Paul's has really no boastfulness in it. It is but the fixed and settled purpose of his life pressed out into intense language.

III. ST. PETER'S BOASTING WAS THAT OF PASSIONATE FEELING. He did love the Master, and was sincere in expressing his love; but he did not think about his words before speaking, so they bear the character of the impulsive man that St. Peter was. Under excitement we may easily promise too much. Under self-restraint we shall find that what we would and what we can seriously differ from each other. When feeling is calmed, judgment will not always support what feeling has said.

IV. ST. PAUL'S BOASTING WAS THAT OF SETTLED CONVICTION. The result, not of resolve alone, but of resolve tested, renewed, and established. Sober, settled conviction breathes in that first chapter of the Epistle to the Philippians. It is quiet, calm writing. And it reads thus: "With all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." The same tone of settled conviction is on his glowing words so simply written in his letter to Timothy: "I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness." Such expressions can never be mistaken for boasting; they are only signs of a soul that is sublimely uplifted in the strength of its faith, and in the fullness of its experience.

V. ST, PETER'S BOASTING WAS THAT OF SELF-CONFIDENCE. This being the more familiar view taken of St. Peter's words, the mode of treating it may be left. The point to impress is that he spoke relying in himself, and with no question of his own ability to carry out what he said. He that leaneth on himself leaneth on a reed that will too surely bend beneath his weight. "It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." And St. Peter's own Master thus solemnly warned both him and his fellow-disciples: "Without me ye can do nothing." Then and now, self-confidence is only vain confidence.

VI. ST. PAUL'S BOASTING WAS THAT OF FULL SUBMISSION. St. Peter thought of "dying with Christ" as something to do. St. Paul thought of it as something to bear. Christ did not ask St. Peter to die with him. He pushed himself into the place. Christ (lid ask St. Paul to suffer and to die for him, and the tender grace of his seeming boasting lies in its being his full acceptance of God's will for him, and his assurance that, however hard to flesh and blood, his will is love. St. Paul's spirit took his confidence altogether away from self, and made it rest altogether on Christ. St. Peter said, "I can do all things." St. Paul said, "I can do all things through him that strengtheneth me." After his humiliation, St. Peter was converted to the better mind; and illustration of his humble and trustful spirit may be taken from his Epistles. Especially notice 1 Peter 5:6, 7, "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." - R.T.

Notice -


1. They gladly welcomed Paul, and heard his narrative of missionary work, which included labor among the Gentiles. They glorified God for it.

2. They made no demand upon Paul as to renouncing his advanced position, but acquiesced in it.

3. They must have resisted the extreme Judaistic party in order to do so.

II. THE CONTRAST BETWEEN THE TIMID POLICY OF THE JAMES PARTY AND PAUL HIMSELF. They feared for him. He feared nothing for himself. Their advice was dictated by prudence, but it wrought more evil than good in result.

III. THE NOBLE EXAMPLE OF SELF-ABNEGATION AND CONCILIATION. Paul yielded to their advice, to show that the reports about him were false, and that his free position allowed him both to observe the Law and not to observe it, as expediency might dictate, because he regarded it as no longer necessary to salvation. He became a Jew to the Jews, to save the Jews. The true firmness is not obstinacy, prejudice, self-assertion, bigotry, but distinguishes between the essential and non-essential. Perhaps it was the wiser way to let the weaker brethren be convinced by the facts how hopeless it was to save Judaism.

IV. GREAT PURPOSES OF GOD ARE FULFILLLED THROUGH THE ERRORS AND INFIRMITIES OF HIS PEOPLE. Paul would meet Jewish accusations all the more firmly though his appearance in the temple put the torch to the pile. - R.

The slight obscurity attaching to the rendering of this verse diminishes in nothing its interest and instructiveness. Whether the verse purports to say that the disciples of Caesarea journeying with Paul and his companions brought them to Mnason as their host, when they arrived at Jerusalem; or that, picking up Mnason himself at Caesarea, who afterwards became the host of Paul at Jerusalem, they rendered him also the help of their escort thither, - does not alter its special significance. This lies in the fact that Mnason's name, as soon as mentioned, is dispatched with two remarks, never again to be referred to in the sacred history; and yet those two remarks are felt to be worth more than two volumes. Wherein, then, we may ask, does their special significance hide?






There must have been some peculiarity in the case of Mnason for St. Luke to remark that he was an" old disciple," which may mean that he was an "old man and a disciple," or that he was one of the earliest disciples, possibly one who was led to accept Christ as the Messiah on the day of Pentecost. He was a "man of Cyprus," but he may have been visiting Jerusalem at Pentecost. Mention is made of him in connection with St. Paul's journey to explain the care which the Christian disciples took to secure the apostle's safety and comfort in the holy city. The crowd at the feast-times was so immense that the ordinary stranger might fail to find accommodation. Mnason had a house at Jerusalem, and there St. Paul was sheltered. There are two senses in which a man may be spoken of as an" old disciple:"

(1) he may be old in years;

(2) he may be old in experience.

No Christian disciple could at that time have been very old in experience of Christian life. There are four possible suppositions concerning the discipleship of Mnason.

(1) He may have been, like Simeon, one of those who looked for redemption in Israel, and so was prepared at once to welcome Christ.

(2) He may have been one of the disciples who attached themselves to Christ while he was with men in the flesh.

(3) He may have been converted at the day of Pentecost.

(4) He may have been a first fruit of St. Patti's missionary labors in Cyprus. The subject suggested by the reference to Mnason is - the mission in the Church of old disciples; and three points may receive full treatment and illustration.

I. Old disciples may prove what Divine grace can do in keeping us unspotted from the world.

II. Old disciples may illustrate "patient continuance in well-doing."

III. Old disciples may exert a gracious influence by the tone and character of their religious experience, as corrective of the mistakes and practical errors that may prevail, and as guiding to the solution of practical difficulties in doctrine and in conduct. The Church has often good reason to rejoice in the wisdom and prudence of her "old disciples." - R.T.

Paul's gospel was that of salvation by Christ Jesus alone, as contrasted with the principle of salvation by legal obedience. But he did not contend against the Law and against Mosaism as such - only against the doctrine that the observance was indispensable to salvation. The spirit of evangelical freedom made him tolerant of the observance in the case of born Jews, while at the same time he contended for the emancipation of the Gentile Christians from the claims of the Law (1 Corinthians 7:18, 19).

I. As EXAMPLE OF CHRISTIAN PRUDENCE IN GENERAL. It is necessary to study and consider human nature as it is. No acting as if in a vacuum, no trying to carry out abstract principles, regardless of men's habit of thinking and acting, can be either right or successful. The followers of Christ were to be "wise as serpents, yet harmless as doves." Want of tact is often a greater hindrance to success than want of greater gifts of head and heart. Men are repelled by disregard of their feelings, and often won over by trifling concessions, which cost nothing important to those who make them or to the cause of truth. But serious cases of conscience may arise under these conditions; and prudence ceases to be a virtue whenever it is practiced at the expense of truth or of truthfulness.

II. AN EXAMPLE OF CONCESSION TO THE PREJUDICES OF THE WEAK, In these difficult cases love must be the great guiding principle (Romans 15:1). Christian love "endureth all things." It has a delicate intelligence of the needs of the weak; it practices a fine self-denial, condescends to the lowlier in word and in deed. In such weakness there is true strength. It demands intellectual strength, to distinguish between form and contents, between the shell and the kernel; and firmness of character, to hold fast to the main matter, while those of subordinate importance are given up; constancy and faithfulness, not to deny the law of Christ, while promoting love amongst his disciples. In things indifferent we may take a part, provided we clearly see the way to promote the kingdom of God in so doing; but at the same time, we must do nothing to favor the opinion that such things are necessary to salvation. In the whole episode we may see the victory of love that "seeketh not her own" over bigotry and narrow-mindedness; thus a forecast of the union of Israel and the heathen world in Christ, and a triumph of the Divine counsel in the extension of his kingdom and the diffusion of his thoughts of salvation. With reference to Paul, it illustrates his saying, "To the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to those under the Law, as under the Law, that I might gain those under the Law." - J.

Our Lord has said, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35). It was of the very last importance that, in the early days of Christianity, there should be inward harmony and outward concord among the disciples of Jesus. Division would have been grave disaster, if not irreparable defeat. But with the strongest reasons for desiring unanimity and a complete understanding, we have to face -

I. GREAT DELICACY OF POSITION AMONG CHRISTIAN BRETHREN, then as now. There is a great deal really contained in the simple statement, "Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present" (ver. 18). It was a meeting of two streams, differently composed. It was a meeting of those who believed in the Law with the addition of faith in Jesus Christ, and of those who believed in Jesus Christ with a high regard for the Law as a venerable but passing institution. Between these and those the Mosaic Law held a very different position, seriously affecting their views of doctrine, of religious activity, and of daily behavior. It required the utmost charity and forbearance on the part of both to maintain positively friendly relations. There must have been no little constraint, there was probably some discomfort in the opening interview. Thus is it now, and for a long time will be, between Christian disciples. Differences of social standing, of pecuniary position, of education and refinement, of ecclesiastical connection, of intellectual tendency (to liberalism on the one hand, or conservatism on the other), will interpose between Christian disciples and make their relations delicate, difficult, strained.

II. THE RECONCILING ASPECT. Very wisely indeed Paul passed immediately from the introductory salutation to a full narration of "all that God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry" (ver. 19). This was striking the true note, - the note that brought peace and concord; "when they heard it, they glorified the Lord" (ver. 20). It is certain that if Paul had spoken in an argumentative strain they would not have been thus unanimous; but they all rejoiced to know that through his instrumentality - though he had worked with different weapons from those in their hands - men and women had been turned from dumb idols to serve the living God. This is the reconciling aspect in which to present our cause. However our distinctive views may differ from those of the men whom we meet in conference, or before whom we lay our case, if we can relate a true and simple story of souls converted, of lives transformed, of families or tribes or islands altogether changed and renewed "in the spirit of their mind," we go a long way - if not all the way - to convince those who hear that we are "disciples of Christ indeed;" they will glorify God in us.

III. CONFORMITY AND NONCONFORMITY. It remains in doubt whether the expedient of James and of his friends was wise or unwise (vers. 20-24). Certainly it failed in its object. It is also in doubt whether Paul, with his views, was right in yielding to the wish of the elders (Ver. 26); certainly by doing so he endangered his life and lost his liberty without securing his end. But there are some certainties here.

1. That it is right to look at the question before us from our opponent's point of view.

2. That it is wise to conform as far as possible to our opponent's wishes.

3. That we should always be ready to offer or accept an honorable compromise (ver. 25).

4. That the utmost scrupulousness cannot prevent ill-natured or bigoted misunderstanding (ver. 21).

5. That nonconformity may be as honorable and advantageous as conformity (Romans 14:4-7). - C.

With great determination Paul had made his way to Jerusalem. The public ways terminating in the city were frequented, and the city itself would soon be filled with visitors. Paul knew well in the spirit that stern conflicts and no imaginary dangers awaited him. But before he encountered these he had to count with some other dangers, and which were in some aspects justly more formidable. Paul does not shirk them. He had not come up to desert his colors at the last, nor to prove his faithfulness gone. That a disunited Church should meet the crowd of the world, and even of various ecclesiastical parties, was a thing not to be thought of, certainly not to be allowed. It is the very thing that, times without number, since Paul showed the illustrious example to the contrary now, has been the weakness of the Church and the strength of the great foe. It is evident from the passage now before us that Paul's course was a course that meant practically that so far things should be "en regle," and that nothing should be wanting on his part in order to secure a firm and united front. How many throw the hindrances of sell-will and of crotchets into the way at moments the most critical, most inopportune! It is with some particularity that we are here shown how Paul did the opposite. Let us notice -

I. THE FORMAL VISIT OF PAUL TO THE CONSTITUTED CHURCH. It is a visit to the Church as represented by James (who was evidently at present acting as its chief pastor in Jerusalem) and by the elders. There might have been plausible excuse for it if Paul had not thus reported himself to the Church, but he does not put any to the need of searching for its warrant. He comes to the Church; recognizes its reality as a power; recognizes its unity; recognizes it as the source and the depository of much possible future knowledge and wisdom; and recognizes it as the one earthly bar of judgment (so far as there can he one at all) before which either Christian disciple or Christian apostle may stand without infringing the allegiance due either to individual conscience or to the great bar of judgment above, invisible, but ever open and effective.

II. THE SALUTATION OF PAUL. What this salutation was we may gather sufficiently from a comparison of the instances, in all about seventy, in which reference is made to it in the New Testament. In the English Version the thing intended appears under the description of "saluting," "greeting," "embracing," and "taking leave." There can be little doubt that, in the case of persons present with one another, the outward act of recognition, whether of a more or less intimate kind, was accompanied by some expression of Christian wish, or prayer, or gratitude; while in the case of messages, so many of which are found conveyed in the Epistles, the essence of the salutation consisted generally in the ever-grateful significance that lay in the fact Of the remembrance of the absent. All the rest, Christian wish, prayer, or thanksgiving, would be readily taken as "understood." In the present instance the special mention of the salutation reminds us justly of the humane and inartificial characteristics of Christianity. In sketches of its history of the most solemn import, nothing forbids, conceals, or even obscures their entering in as constituent elements of the whole scene. Even prominence is given to them, and they are not infrequently the light and color of the history. The unmeasured steadfastness of Christian principle and truth, is a thing utterly different from unfeeling severity and the expression of the natural instincts of human hearts.

III. THE ADDRESS OF PAUL. It consisted of a faithful - we might almost call it also a dutiful - report of his own mission to the Gentile world. We can see, but, perhaps, can scarcely enter into, the exceeding interest of the subject at Jerusalem. So much hinged on exactly what had taken place, and upon the exact statement by one competent and trustworthy of what had taken place. Hence we may observe the particularity with which even the history rehearses and repeats it.

1. Paul gives God, indeed, the glory of what had been done, but probably also means to make a very pronounced affirmation before the Church at Jerusalem, that the work was indeed the work of God, to stop the unbelieving mouth or mind.

2. Paul speaks of the work of his own ministry. It is no hearsay, no impression, no hopefulness with which he entertains the listeners. There was not a statement he made, nor an incident he described "particularly," for the full weight and force of which he was not prepared to become guarantor.

3. Paul's subject of address was specially kept to the things that had been accomplished among the Gentiles. Yet we very well know how much of thrilling interest he had met with in his associations with his own people, in addition to the occasions when their fortunes were inevitably linked with the things that happened to the Gentiles. Throughout it is evident what the returned ambassador of Jesus Christ had in his eye and on his heart. In a sense, he staked all on accrediting the Gentiles as heirs of the grace of God, and to be acknowledged as fellow-heirs with himself and the Church he was addressing. His own singleness of eye and purity of mind and fidelity to his original call appear in bright and bold relief in all this.

IV. THE RECEPTION ACCORDED TO PAUL'S REPORT. Paul's character was no longer the thing it was when, some years ago, he had first visited the Church at Jerusalem as a convert. This is his fifth visit since his conversion. Now for him to testify, and to testify "particularly," was to secure a ready hearing and a trusted attention.

1. They believe him.

2. And they "glorify" God. Envy, and bigotry, and pride, and exclusiveness are falling away from that typical Church, "the mother of us all," Length and breadth are seen and are acknowledged in the gospel of Christ. The world's day has dawned, and the light of it, refused by so many, is entering into the eyes of that meeting of the chief pastor at the time at Jerusalem, and the elders. And they did well to "glorify the Lord" because of it. - B.

There may be considered to be some uncertainty as to the exact merits of the remarkable case which the history reproduces in this passage, but without rendering any verdict, pronouncing any opinion, or even offering any suggestion. In the room that is accordingly allowed for option, it is believed that the following positions, as they are certainly maintainable in themselves, are also to be impressed on us by the present history: -

I. THE ADVICE OF THE BEST-INTENTIONED POLICY, ON THE LIPS OF THE LEADERS OF A CHRISTIAN CHURCH, IS DISTANT FROM THE ADVICE OF CLEAR CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLE AND TRUTH, AS THE POLES ARE DISTANT FROM ONE ANOTHER. There was not a little in the exact tone of those who urged on Paul a certain course (ver. 20) and in the exact time which they used for pressing their suit, which invests it with suspicion, and which may very possibly have done so with Paul.

II. THE PRESSURE OF THE ADVICE OF MANY, AND THOSE MANY THE KNOWN LEADERS OF THE CHURCH, WILL NOT ABSOLVE THE INDIVIDUAL CONSCIENCE OR JUDGMENT. It is quite possible that the present was an occasion which Paul would have described as one of those when he would make himself all things to all men. It is also quite possible that this was a right occasion of observing that practice. And lastly, for that very reason the more, it may seem quite possible, that Paul's judgment was in no degree hoodwinked, nor his conscience eclipsed, when he yielded to the advice urged upon him. As no whisper of censure seems breathed upon him, the providence of God, nay, the Spirit himself, may have been his Guide now, to the end that facts should teach those who were responsible for the advice, while Paul would feel, ay, genuinely feel, that the compensation that was given to him for his sufferings consisted in the audience of Jew and Gentile of all sorts, of Roman governors and officers and soldiers, which he had in consequence the opportunity of addressing (ver. 39). If Paul were mistaken and at fault now, he reaps his punishment, though still he rescues some advantage out of all for Christ and the gospel. And he is taught that not even the kindness of his heart and willingness "to be persuaded" by the skilful representations in affection's hour of others, can be a substitute for the individual, steady, regulated judgment and conscience of the Christian. If he were not mistaken, the same lesson is taught, though by a very different route. He himself held and acted upon the conviction that his individual judgment, under the guidance of the Divine Spirit, should have its way - that judgment going to this that, though himself suffered, the leaders of the Church and "many thousands of zealots of the Law" should be effectually taught.


1. The intended short way out of an apprehended difficulty and danger, suggested with coaxing tones and words (ver. 20, "Thou seest, brother "), proves a very long and painful way. Who can tell what must have been the excited apprehensions of James and the elders as the riot went on, nor stopped in a sense, till Paul set off for Rome itself?

2. For Paul, whose is both the active work and the keen suffering, "the beginning of the end" dates from this very Church meeting at Jerusalem. The road is opened to Rome and to Caesar and to "the palace and all other places" left for Paul's ministry. And the goal of his career comes into sight for the racer of keen vision as well as of keen energy. So the gospel gains fresh wings, and that grace of God which lovingly overrules where perhaps it was not allowed to rule, is made known to vaster numbers, and amongst them to some whom it might not have reached in any other way. - B.

For the details of these verses, reference must be made to the exegetical portion of this Commentary. We should fully understand:

1. The intense enmity of the Judaizing party against St. Paul.

2. The opportunity of increasing that enmity found in the fact that many of St. Paul's enemies from Asia and Europe were present in Jerusalem at this time, attending the feast.

3. The difficulty of the Christian leaders, who had not openly broken with rabbinical Mosaism, and consequently found St. Paul's presence in the city a source of extreme anxiety. They could not openly condemn him; and indeed this they were not prepared to do. They could not openly approve him, for this would be sure to rouse dissension, and it would certainly put St. Paul's life in peril.

4. The spirit and temper of the apostle himself, who was rather bold than cautious, and had on several important occasions (as, e.g, Acts 19:30, 31) to be actually held back from courses of action that were hardly prudent. The leaders of the Church at Jerusalem tried to master the difficulties of the position by compromise, which is usually a sign of conscious weakness, and often rather makes than settles the difficulty with which it deals. "The heads of the Church in Jerusalem dreaded nothing but an uproar, if St. Paul's presence in the city should become known. In order, therefore, to appease the multitude, they proposed to the apostle to observe the sacred usages publicly in the temple, with four men who were paying their vows, and to present an offering for himself - a proposal which he willingly adopted. But although the concession of the apostles to the weak brethren proceeded from a good intention, yet it turned out disastrously. The furious enemies of St. Paul were "only the more exasperated by it" (Olshausen). It was a case of "over-caution," and it well illustrates the weakness and the peril that usually lie in over-cautious schemes.

I. THE PLACE FOR COMPROMISE. Which is the practical expression of extreme caution, and the constant resort of cautious dispositions. It is useful:

1. When the matter in dispute cannot have a full and final adjustment.

2. When such serious interests are at stake that it is important not to keep open the dispute.

3. When both parties have a measure of right on their sides, and the claim of each must be moderated to admit the right of the others.

4. When the intense feeling of the disputants prevents the acceptance of any positive settlement. These may be illustrated both from worldly and from Christian spheres.

II. THE PERILS OF COMPROMISE. They arise from the fact that, as a rule,

1. Compromise settles nothing, but really leaves the old difficulty to find a new expression.

2. It keeps in relation parties who would be much better apart.

3. It gives those who are in the wrong, an impression of weakness in those who suggest the compromise, and so encourages them in the wrong and leads them to take advantage of the weakness; as is illustrated in the case before us of the Judaizing party.

III. THE PRACTICAL IMPORTANCE OF TAKING A FIRM STAND UPON WHAT IS RIGHT. Nothing disarms opposition as this does, and nothing settles disputes as a fine and wise decision. If the apostolic council had simply and firmly accepted St. Paul, given their public testimony to their confidence in him, and explained the relation in which the Gentile Churches and their teacher stood to the Jewish Churches and their teachers, mistakes would have been corrected, opposition would have been checked, and St. Paul's enemies would have failed to make a party. All the calamities that followed, though foreordained of God, are, on their human side, traceable to the over-caution and weak compromise of the Jerusalem apostles. Learn the value of prudence and caution in the practical concerns of life, but learn also the perils of the exaggeration of caution, and the adoption of compromises when we have before us questions of right and wrong. Right is right, and we must stand to it whatever may be the peril. - R.T.

It is impossible not to read these verses with a smile of contempt in view of the folly and guilt of fanaticism, and, at the same time, with a smile of satisfaction in view of the calmness and nobility of Christian zeal.


1. Its folly.

(1) In the first place, it employs a weapon with which it is easily matched. It has recourse to violence (ver. 31); but violence is a usage which others can easily adopt, and it may be with more effect (ver. 32). If religion calls in the aid of the sword, it is likely enough to find the sword directed, at the next turn of events, against itself.

(2) It uses a weapon which is not at all fitted to its hand. Physical force is not the appointed method for regenerating the world; "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal," but spiritual. The "kingdom not of this world" does not want its servants to "fight" with steel and gunpowder.

(3) It assails those who, if it would but consider, are its truest friends. Out of regard for the Law, these fanatical Jews "went about to kill" Paul. The multitude shouted "Away with him!" (ver. 36). But if they had known better they would, out of regard for the Law, have speeded Paul on his mission. For Judaism, pure and simple, would inevitably have perished; but Judaism, as surviving in the truths and institutions of Christianity, is destined to last as long as time itself, and to he universal in its range. Had they thought more and looked further, they would have honored him whom they were in such haste to kill.

2. Its guilt.

(1) It charges a man with a crime of which he is absolutely innocent (vers. 28, 29).

(2) It proceeds to punish without giving a chance of defending (vers. 30, 31).

(3) It denies to a man that which God has bestowed, and which it claims for itself - a right to his convictions.

(4) It dashes itself blindly and vehemently against the purposes of God. At this time it was striking at Christ's chosen ambassador, and, without exception, the most useful servant of God then living. At many times since then, it has stricken the men who represented the truth of Christ, and has done sore evil to the Church, and so to the world.

II. THE EXCELLENCY OF CHRISTIAN DEVOTEDNESS. How admirably the attitude of Paul contrasts with the movements of this excited, tumultuous, sanguinary mob! We admire

(1) his courage in placing himself in the position;

(2) his calmness throughout (vers. 37-39);

(3) his readiness (ver. 40) - he was prepared at any emergency to speak the needful word. We admire it because we are sure that it all rested upon

(4) his consecration to the cause, and his assurance of the presence of his Divine Master. - C.


1. He is represented as an enemy of the Law, like Stephen before him. He has to confront the blind and murderous storm of human passion, more dreadful than the waves of the sea, presently to be encountered. Now is the warning concerning the things to be expected in Jerusalem about to be fulfilled. The sincerest friends of religion have often to incur the charge of being its enemies, the truest worshippers of God are denounced as atheists.

2. As a violator of the temple, he was said to have "made the holy place common." There is a close parallel between this mode of attack and that on Jesus. Great must have been his consolation to find himself treading in the footsteps of his Lord, as his great desire was to be conformable to him. The greatest honor lies in bearing the cross of Jesus, becoming partaker of his sufferings, being "as he was in the world."

II. FURTHER PARALLELS BETWEEN THE TREATMENT OF HIM AND THAT OF THE SAVIOR. The whole city was in an uproar. He was rejected by his own countrymen - cast out of the temple. They desired to slay him, and yet not stain the sacred place; straining at gnats and swallowing camels. They thought they would do God service in slaying him. At Ephesus, pagan superstition and the love of gain were against him; here, Jewish bigotry and fanaticism. Both scenes are warnings against the misdirection of religious feeling. We need reflection and knowledge to purify the religious instinct, which is like fire, pernicious if not watched and kept under control. The murder of Jesus, and all judicial murders of teachers and leaders, are, considered from the human side, both crimes and blunders.

III. THE IMPRISONMENT OF PAUL. The light and shade mingle in the deed. On the one hand we see human passion, blind folly, wicked hatred, on the part of the Jews; on the other, a bright picture of Christian heroic courage, self-possession, and sweet patience on the part of the apostle. And over and above all the light of Divine leading shines, like a pillar of fire by night. There is the power which protects the servants of God, the wisdom which employs even its adversaries to carry out its designs, the love which makes a center of light and warmth within the man's "own clear breast." Man proposes, and God disposes. He guides the well-meant counsels of his friends to other ends than they supposed, and the designs of foes to other issues than they had calculated.

IV. THE DELIVERANCE. Rejected by his own people, a friend is raised up for Paul in the person of a heathen. The Roman tribune stills the uproar, saves the apostle's life, gives him the opportunity of clearing himself from the charge against him, affords him liberty of speech. How impressive is the scene with which this chapter closes! There stands the preacher in chains. His pulpit the stairs of the Roman fortress; instead of deacons surrounding and supporting him, rough Roman soldiers. Murderous cries instead of psalms precede his discourse. Instead of a calm audience before him, an enraged mob. But let us draw the veil and look within his heart. There is the spirit of faith and of love, of wisdom and of strength. There is that courage which the consciousness of right and truth inspires, a "good conscience toward God." There was that whole devotion which ever makes its impression on the rudest hearts, and alone gives freedom and joy. Above all, the knowledge of a Savior and a God, to whom in life or death he belongs, from whom neither life nor death can separate. - J.

Bonds and imprisonment,

I. THE TUMULT EXCITED BY ASIATIC JEWS, probably seeking for Paul, with predetermination to destroy him. It was his faithful missionary labors, therefore, which lay at the root of the trouble; he knew it, and it helped him to be strong in faith. Christ would protect his own ambassador.

II. THE CHARGES AGAINST HIM WERE UTTERLY FALSE. He raised no opposition to the Law. He never defiled the temple. Trophimus the Gentile had not been brought there. The enemies of truth always depend on lies. False accusation has been always the resort of fanaticism and bigotry when it is afraid for itself.

III. ROMAN DISCIPLINE, as before, is called in to suppress MOB VIOLENCE, and thus help the gospel. So in after times Roman law prepared the way for the spread of Christianity. (See Maurice's 'Lectures on the Religion of Rome,' delivered at Edinburgh 1854, published 1855.)

IV. THE SPEEDY RESULT OF THE WEAK ADVICE of the Jewish believers is seen in the apostle within seven days, in imprisonment. The brave policy always the safest. Compromise is danger. - R.

Explain the points of view of the Judaizing party. Zeal for the purity of Mosaism can be commended. The binding character of Mosaic Law on all born Jews may be recognized. We cannot wonder that many of the Jews should regard Christianity as a reform of Judaism, rather than what such men as St. Paul saw it to be - the completion and perfection of Judaism. Regarding it as reformed Judaism, they would plead that its claims rested on all Gentiles who became Christian Jews. The first indications of the existence of this Judaizing party within the Christian community we find in Acts 15:1. Then the matter occasioned so much dispute that the advice of the apostolic council had to be sought. Their judgment was virtually against the Judaizing party, and this intensified their opposition, made them cling even more closely to their party prejudices, and led them to regard St. Paul more distinctly as the leader of the more liberal views which they hated. They followed the apostle everywhere; they tried to undermine his influence and destroy his work; and it even seems that they resolved not to rest until they had secured his death. They are striking examples of the worst phases of the sectarian spirit, which blinds to truth, hardens from conviction, destroys a man's tenderness, and makes cruelty and crime possible to him. Scarcely any evil force has exerted in history so baneful an influence as that of the party spirit. It was an ideal time which the poetical historian describes, "when none was for a party, but all were for the state." Still the sectarian and party spirit is the gravest trouble afflicting Christ's Church, and the most serious hindrance to the perfecting of Christ's kingdom. But we need to make a careful distinction between party spirit and party action. Sectional action may be an important element in working. More can be accomplished by sections devoting their attention to parts. But party spirit, which means jealous feeling separating the sections, is always bad, for those who feel the jealousy and for those who suffer from its schemes. Taking illustration from what is narrated of these Judaizing teachers, we notice that party prejudice -

I. BLINDS TO FACT AND TRUTH. If the party has a piece of truth, it is but a piece, and yet it often prevents the apprehension of any other related or higher truth. And even worse is its power to distort or deny facts. The party man will see or admit nothing that does not tell for his party. Show that St. Paul had facts and truths, but these opponents would give him no calm consideration. They really shouted him down, as did the excited Ephesians, who cried all day, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians." If we find an unwillingness to admit facts or to calmly consider phases of truth presented for our consideration, then we may gravely fear lest we be giving place to party prejudices.

II. INVOLVES INJUSTICE. In dealing with individuals. For the partisan associates the holder of an objectionable theory with the theory, and is easily led to vent his annoyance at the theory upon the holder and propounder of it. The sectional and party spirit is at the root of all religious persecution. Men are not unjust when they contend for God's truth, but only when they contend for some ism of their own, which they persuade themselves is God's truth. Christ says to all who think of using external forces for him, "Pat up thy sword into its sheath."

III. PARTY PREJUDICES ARE MOST DIFFICULT TO REMOVE. Seen in the difficulty of correcting the mistakes on which sects now divide from each other. The "common ground" is little regarded, and the points of difference are unduly exaggerated, and men stand to their little peculiarities and special points as if the whole gospel gathered up into their side and piece of doctrine. And if any try to free them from their prejudice, and let in on them a little generous light, they only retire further in and hold their party sentiment tighter than ever. Surely the full warning of these Judaizers in St. Paul's time has not been sufficiently recognized in these days of a divided Church and unduly magnified theological and ecclesiastical differences. - B. T.

The heathen, notwithstanding his ignorance, was more open to reason than the Jew, blinded by fanaticism and bigotry. Religion corrupted by priestcraft is worse than skepticism. Courtesy and chivalry may be made to serve higher purposes. The providential appointment of the history of Judaism opened the way for a free gospel. Jews were filling up their cup. - R.

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