Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita.B.—EXPERIENCES AND ACTS OF THE APOSTLE AT MALTA
1And when they [we] were escaped [ashore], then they [we1] knew [ascertained]that the island was [is, χαλεῖται] called Melita [Malta]. 2And the barbarous people [the strangers, βάρβαροι] shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled2 a fire, and received us every one [us all, πάντας], because of the present rain [of the rain which had set in], and because of the cold. 3And [But] when Paul had gathered a3 bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire [on the pile of wood], there came a viper out of [there came forth a viper because of, ἀπὸ,4] the heat, and fastened on his hand. 4And [But] when the barbarians [the strangers] saw the venomous beast [the beast, θηρίον] hang [hanging] on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance [retribution] suffereth.not to live. 5And he [But he,δ μὲν οὖν] shook off the beast [threw the beast off from himself, ὰποτιν.5] into the fire, and felt [suffered, ἒπαθεν] no harm. 6Howbeit [But, δὲ ] they looked when he should have [they expected that he would become] swollen, or fallen [or would fall] down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while [as they, however, waited long], and saw no harm come to [saw that nothing amiss befell] him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.In the same quarters [But in the neighborhood of that place] were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius [the first man of the island, named Publius, possessed an estate]; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously.8And [But] it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux [a dysentery6]; to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him. 9So [Now, οὖν ] when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, [done, the others (οἱ λοιπ .) also, on the island, who had diseases,] came, and were healed: 10Who also honored us with many [showed us manifold] honours; and when we departed [we again put out to sea], they laded [supplied] us with such things as were necessary7.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
ACTS 28:1. And when they [we] were escaped [ashore].—Ἐπέγνωμεν [see note 1 above, appended to the text. We ascertained]. They probably learned the name by inquiring of the inhabitants, many of whom were doubtless drawn to the spot by the wreck of the ship. The name of the island was Melite. At a former period, Malta was not believed by every interpreter, without exception, to be the island in question; there were some who supposed that an island, now called Meleda, in the northern part of the Adriatic Sea, off the coast of Dalmatia, and not far from Ragusa, was meant. This opinion was advocated, after the example of a Byzantine writer, Constantine Porphyrogenitus, at first by a Venetian, named Giorgi, and subsequently by de Rhoer of Holland, several Englishmen, especially Bryant, and also Paulus. The first argument which was advanced in favor of this opinion, proceeded from an erroneous interpretation of the name Adria, in Acts 27:27. But it can no longer be doubted that Malta, on the south of Sicily, must be meant, especially when the following circumstances are duly considered:—first, that Malta lies in the track of a vessel driven by a north-east wind from Crete; secondly, that the Alexandrian ship on which Paul was afterwards placed [ch. 28:11], would naturally winter at Malta, and not at Meleda; thirdly, that the voyage to [Rhegium, Acts 28:13, and] Puteoli, does not suit a ship sailing from Meleda, but is far more intelligible, if the ship proceeded from Malta: see Hackett [Comm. on THE ACTS, new ed. 1863, p. 445.—For a full discussion of the whole subject, and a detailed examination and refutation of the arguments of the emperor Const. Porphyr.; Giorgi, the Benedictine, of Ragusa; Bryant, Coleridge, etc., see Conyb. and H., II. p. 351–357.—TR.]. The island of Malta lies in the Mediterranean, about 60 miles south from Cape Passaro, the southern point of Sicily, and about 200 miles from the coast of Africa. [“It is 17 miles in length, 9 miles in its greatest breadth, and 60 miles in circumference.” (Hackett).—TR.].
ACTS 28:2. And the barbarous people [the strangers]. Luke terms the islanders βάρβαροι, in reference to their language, as they spoke neither Greek nor Latin. [“Βάρβαρος,—a barbarian, i. e., pr. simply a foreigner, one who does not understand or speak the language of a particular people, etc.” ROB. Lex. N. T.—Comp. Rom. 1:14; 1 Cor. 14:11; Col. 3:11.—TR.]. That the term is not intended to indicate moral rudeness [i.e., as to character and disposition], or a want of culture, may be distinctly seen in Acts 28:2, especially in the words: οὐ τὴν τυχ. φιλανθρωπίαν.—In reference to the language, these islanders were of Phoenician descent, and their mother-tongue was, without doubt, a Punic dialect.
ACTS 28:3–6. There came a viper out of the heat.—The serpent [ἔχιδνα designating the female, ἔχις the male [but see Passow on the latter word.—TR.]) was, without doubt, a species of adder or viper. When the temperature falls considerably below the mean temperature of the region which they inhabit, these reptiles become torpid. This serpent was probably in such a state, but was roused and irritated by the heat, and hence darted at the hand of Paul. Luke does not, it is true, say in express terms that it had bitten the apostle, and hence some interpreters assume that such was, accordingly, not the case, and that it had merely twined itself around his hand. The narrative, however, seems to assume or imply that he had actually been bitten, for it introduces the following facts: καθῆψε τῆς χειρός, Acts 28:3 (it attached itself to, fastened on, his hand)—κρεμάμενον ἐκ τ. χ., Acts 28:4 (it was seen hanging on his hand [holding fast to the wound by its mouth (Meyer)])—and, the islanders expected that he would swell, or fall down dead, Acts 28:6; besides, their opinion was sustained by their knowledge, derived from experience, that the bite of this viper caused death. If, nevertheless, the apostle did not suffer the least injury, we must believe that the result was due to the divine protection granted to him, in accordance with the promise of Jesus, Mark 14:18.—No venomous adders are at present found in any part of the island of Malta, and the modern Maltese believe that since the time when Paul threw into the fire the one which had bitten him, the whole race has lost its poison. The general fact is, indeed, well known, that in other regions also, in the same proportion in which the woods are cleared, and the cultivation of the soil extends, poisonous reptiles disappear. For example, the viper was gradually expelled from the Isle of Arran, on the west coast of Scotland, in proportion to the increase of the population (James Smith). But it would be difficult to find elsewhere a surface or soil of equal extent, which is so skilfully prepared by the hand of man, and is in such a high state of cultivation, as the modern Malta. [No doubt … murderer. “It was a rash judgment formed when they saw his chains.” (Bengel).—“He was perhaps still fastened to a soldier.” (Alex.). Comp. Acts 12:6; 24:23; 27:3; 28:16.—Ἡ δίκη; “Vengeance, literally, justice, either as an act or an attribute of God (compare 2 Thess. 1:9; Jude 7). There is no need of supposing a personification, or a reference to the Nemesis, or goddess of retributive justice, represented by the Greek mythology as the daughter and avenger of the supreme Deity.” (Alex.).—TR.]
ACTS 28:7–10. Publius, the Roman, is introduced as ὁ πρῶτος τῆς νήσου, Acts 28:7. This description cannot be intended to indicate any precedence in rank, on account of birth and wealth; for if the writer had intended to state such a fact, it would not have been Publius, but his father (who was still living, Acts 28:8), who would have been represented as the first or chief man of the island. Hence the expression must necessarily be intended to specify the rank and authority of a ruler or magistrate. Publius was, without doubt, the Roman commander, that is, the legate of the prætor of Sicily to whose province Malta belonged. There is not a single passage known in any ancient writer, in which this designation is found, and from which Luke might possibly have borrowed it. But, on the other hand, two inscriptions have since been discovered in Malta, the one in Greek, the other in Latin (the latter, in the year 1747, at the foot of a pillar in Citta Vecchia), which contain the same honorary title, and from which it may be inferred that the latter was an established and official title, viz.,πρῶτος Μελιταίων—princeps; thus the propriety of the title which Luke gives to this man, and which is otherwise unusual, is confirmed.—It is not distinctly stated whom this man of rank received so hospitably. The word ἡμεῖς, which occurs in Acts 28:7, is no doubt the term by which the narrative usually designates the entire company of travellers, and it is chiefly for this reason, as well as on account of the shortness of the time (only three days, Acts 28:7, whereas the abode on the island extended to three months, Acts 28:11) that Baumgarten concludes that Publius entertained all the 276 persons, (Acts 27:37). But the word ἡμεῖς in Acts 28:10, must obviously be restricted to Paul and his personal friends, inasmuch as the remark that they were “honored with many honors” by the islanders, becomes intelligible only when it is referred to them, and not to the whole number of 276 persons; thus, too, ἡμεῖς, in Acts 28:7, will not be properly understood unless it is interpreted as also referring only to the former (Meyer). Besides, when Luke does mean the whole number, as in Acts 28:2, he expressly says: πάντες ἡμεῖς, and it may reasonably be supposed that the same word (πὰντες) would have occurred in Acts 28:7, if all were meant; indeed, the reception and entertainment of 276 persons at a farm in the country, would be far more astonishing than the gathering of the same number of persons around a fire in the open air. It is, therefore, more probable that Publius hospitably entertained for several days none but Paul, Aristarchus and Luke, and, perhaps, also the centurion Julius.—With regard to the sickness of the father of Publius, the remark which others have made, may be here adduced, viz., that no writer of the New Testament employs technical terms in reference to diseases, with such precision as Luke, who is, indeed, represented as having been a physician [“Luke, the beloved physician.” Col. 4:14.—E. g., πυρετοῖς; “Hippocrates also uses the plural. It probably indicates the recurrence of fever fits.” (Alford).—TR.]. It was formerly asserted that a dry climate like that of Malta, would not generate dysentery and inflammation of the bowels; but physicians resident in that island have recently furnished the testimony that these diseases are by no means uncommon there at the present day. (Hackett [New edition, 1863, p. 450.—TR.])
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. God offered a twofold testimony in favor of his servant Paul—first, by preventing the venomous serpent from injuring him personally—and, secondly, by enabling him to aid and heal others. The honors which were, in return, paid to him and his associates, were virtually paid to his Lord.
2. There is a certain amount of moral and religious truth, which resides in the soul of every human being. That there is a Δίκη or Nemesis, i.e., a moral government of the world, from which the criminal cannot escape, is ineffaceably engraved on the conscience.—But, on the other hand, the truth is also most sadly distorted in the natural man. The islanders at first regard Paul as a murderer, because one misfortune after the other befalls him; afterwards, they deify him, because the bite of a serpent does not harm him. [“The change in this case was the opposite of that undergone by the idolaters at Lystra, who first tried to worship Paul, and then to kill him, or at least consented to his being stoned, Acts 14:11, 13, 19. (Alex.).—TR.]. The further man departs from the truth, the more easily he falls into extremes.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
ACTS 28:1. And when they [we] were escaped, etc.—The ship is lost, but Paul and his companions are saved; empires and kingdoms may perish, but the Christian Church continues to float, and is wonderfully preserved. (Starke).
ACTS 28:2. And the barbarous people [the strangers] shewed us no little kindness.—We often receive the greatest favors from those, from whom we had least of all expected them. (Starke).—Sympathy, compassion, and kindness, are such precious virtues, that when they are practised even by pagans and barbarians, they are noticed and commended by the Spirit of God; especially when, in addition, as in the present case, the Lord had, in his gracious providence, provided an alleviation of the distress of his exhausted children and servants. If God does not fail to reward him who furnishes them with a cup of cold water only [Mt. 10:42], how greatly should we, who are Christians, and to whom the kindness and love of God [Tit. 3:4] have appeared, excel all heathens in the practice of these virtues! (Ap. Past.).—These strangers can teach Christians who live on the coast, how they should imitate the Good Samaritan. (Besser).
ACTS 28:3. A viper … fastened on his hand.—When the Lord designed to introduce his apostle to these strangers, He previously permitted an evil to befall him, which Paul overcame by faith; thereby he made an impression on the hearts of all who surrounded him. Our afflictions are thus intended, like a bell, to attract to us the eyes and attention of men; the faith which we exhibit under such circumstances, or the victory which we gain by the grace of Christ, is designed to induce others to imitate us. (Ap. Past.).—The serpent hanging on the hand of Paul, was a beautiful bracelet—a badge of honor. (Lindhammer).—O how many benevolent Christian hands are wounded by the bites of serpents! Nevertheless, God designs in this manner to manifest his glory in them; for Christians cannot be poisoned. (Besser).
ACTS 28:4. This man is a murderer, whom, etc.—Even heathens are taught by the light of nature that God is unchangeable in his justice. (Starke).—Although the truth respecting retribution remains inscribed on the conscience of men, they repeatedly fail to apply it judiciously. (Rieger).
ACTS 28:5. And he shook off the beast into the fire.—God often exemplifies in his servants that Christ has recovered for us also the dominion over the beasts, which had been lost; Gen. 1:26, 28; 9:2; 1 Sam. 17:34, 35. (Starke).—O that we could deal with sin, that old serpent [Rev. 12:9], which, with God’s permission, so often fastens even on believers, as Paul here deals with the viper! (id.).—Then was fulfilled the promise of the Lord: “I give you power to tread on serpents, etc.” Luke 10:19; Mark 16:18. No poisonous serpents are at present found in the island of Malta; and, according to the tradition of the knights of Malta, vipers and adders which are brought to the island, lose their poison. We, too, hope to reach an island at the end of our voyage, where no viper will inflict a wound (Isai. 11:8); until that period arrives, let us exercise our power as Christians, and hurl the venomous beast, sin, into the fire, to which it belongs.—Paul knew that he would be conducted to Rome as a witness of Him who bruised the head of the serpent [Gen. 3:15], and, by faith, he deprived the serpent of its venom; Hebr. 11:33. (Besser).
ACTS 28:6. They changed their minds, and said that he was a god.—The multitude observes no reasonable bounds; it either exalts an individual to heaven, or thrusts him down to hell; Acts 14:12, 13. (Starke).—Truly, the apostle received honor, and was subjected to dishonor [2 Cor. 6:8]; at one moment, he is regarded as a murderer; at another, he is called a god. But it is remarkable that the passage before us does not indicate that in either case the slightest emotion was produced in Paul. Such a frame of mind it is our duty to strive to acquire, so that neither the honors which the world may offer, nor the dishonor to which it may subject us, can disturb our internal repose. (Ap. Past.).
ACTS 28:8. The father of Publius lay sick … whom Paul … healed.—The kindness which men show to the beloved children and faithful servants of God, is always rewarded, temporarily and spiritually; Matth. 10:42.—(Starke).
ACTS 28:9. When this was done, others also … came, and were healed.—It is a serious matter that no mention is here made of any communication of the special blessings of the Gospel, during Paul’s abode on the island, or of any offer of salvation in Christ. We merely read that many came in order to regain their bodily health, although favorable opportunities were afforded, when they might, and, indeed, should, have inquired after the way of salvation. (Rieger).—Men are willing to employ means for recovering their bodily health, but are often too slothful to seek a remedy for the disease of their souls. (Starke).—A willing servant of the Lord is not only ready to speak, but he also observes silence, when the occasion requires it. As to every thing else, so there is also a season or time to the Gospel [Eccl. 3:1]. (Williger).
ON THE WHOLE SECTION, Acts 28:1–10.—The foolish judgment of the world: I. Foolish, when it judges uncharitably, Acts 28:4; II. Foolish, when it judges favorably, Acts 28:6; therefore, III. Let it be thy object to fulfil thy duty and to do good, without being disturbed by the judgment of the world, Acts 28:7–10. (Lisco).
The virtue of hospitality; I. It is esteemed and practised even by pagans; II. It is still more becoming and blessed, when it is practised by Christians. (id.).
The baseness of superstition: I. It is combined with all manner of uncharitableness, Acts 28:1–4; II. It promotes all manner of idolatrous practices, Acts 28:5, 6. (id.).
That the Christian every where finds a home: I. He experiences the love of God every where; II. He finds loving hearts every where; III. He has an opportunity for manifesting love every where. (id.).
The people of Melita, a striking image of the heathen world: I. In their need of redemption; (a) gloomy superstition, Acts 28:4, 6; (b) manifold misery, Acts 28:8, 9; II. In their capability of redemption; (a) kind hospitality, Acts 28:2; (b) indistinct consciousness of God, Acts 28:4. (c) lively susceptibleness for impressions made by divine things, Acts 28:6; (d) earnest desire for help, Acts 28:9. (e) childlike gratitude for benefits received, Acts 28:10.
Paul, and the viper, or, The servant of God, viewed as a conqueror of serpents: in the power of his Lord (Mark 16:18), he casts from him, I. The poisonous viper of slander, Acts 28:3, 4; II. The deceitful adder of flattery, Acts 28:6; III. The dangerous serpents of worldly anxieties and cares, Acts 28:8, 9; IV. The old serpent of sin (here applying Acts 28:4, “a murderer.”).
Paul’s arrival at Melita, a fulfilment of the divine promise: ‘He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways,’ Ps. 91:11; I. The angel of the Lord draws him out of the waves of the sea; II. Protects him from the poison of serpents; III. Wins for him the hearts of barbarous people; IV. Blesses the healing acts of his hands.
Paul the traveller, at Melita: his travels exhibit, I. The lights and shadows of the heathen world; II. The sorrows and joys of the apostolic office; III. The wonderful and gracious ways of the Lord.
“By evil report and good report,” 2 Cor. 6:8: such is the result, in consequence of, I. The way of the world; II. The avocation of the Christian; III. The will of the Lord.
Acts 28:1. ἐπἐγνωμεν [of text. rec.] is better attested [viz. by A. B. C. Cod. Sin.; Vulg. (cognorimus)] than ἐπέγνωσαν [which is found in C (second correction-margin). G. H.—The first person is adopted by Lach., Tisch., Born., and Alf., the third, by Griesb., Knapp, Hahn, Theile, etc. The third person was perhaps substituted, as Meyer and Alford conjecture, in order to suit Acts 27:39.—TR.]
Acts 28:2. ἀνάψαντες [of text. rec.] is found, it is true, only in two manuscripts [G. H. most minuscules, etc.], while in the majority [of the uncials, A. B. C. Cod. Sin., and some minuscules] the simple form, ἄψαντες, is exhibited; however, the preposition ἀνα was probably only dropped [by transcribers.—Lach. Born. and Alf. omit the preposition. Meyer is inclined to regard it as original, and supposes that the final letter of the preceding ἡμῖν, was the cause of the omission of it.—TR.]
Acts 28:3. a. [τι is inserted before πλῆθος by Lach., Tisch., and Alf., in accordance with A. B. C.Vulg. (aliquantam); it is omitted in text. rec. and by Griesb. and Knapp, etc. on the authority of G. H.—Tisch. introduces it in the printed edition of Cod. Sin. in smaller type, and remarks: “τι nescio an prima manu suppletum dicam.”—TR.]
Acts 28:3. b. ἐκ [after ἕχιδνα, of text. rec.] is found only in minuscules [and church fathers, e. g., Chrys., Theod., Oecum.]; all the uncial manuscripts [A. B. C. G. H.. with many minuscules] exhibit ἀπό. [This is now found also in Cod. Sin., and is the reading which Lach., Tisch., Born., and Alf. adopt.—In the same verse, for ἐξελθοῦσα, of text. rec., with B (e sil). C. and Cod. Sin., the form διεξελθοῦσα is substituted by Lach., Tisch., Born., and Alt., on the authority of A. G. H.; the latter compound is not elsewhere found in the New Test., and as an unusual and more expressive form (διά. “the serpent glided out through the sticks.” Alford), is regarded also by de Wette and Meyer as the original reading.—TR.]
Acts 28:5. [Instead of ἀποτινἀξας, of text. rec., with B (e sil). and also Cod. Sin. which Lach. and Alf. adopt, Scholz and Tisch. read ἀποτιναξάμενος, on the authority of A. G. H., minuscules, and fathers. “The middle is a correction to suit Acts 13:51; Acts 18:16.” (de Wette).—TR.]
Acts 28:8. [Instead of the form δυςεντερία, as in text. rec. and many minuscules, Lach., Tisch., and Alf. adopt δυςεντερίω, which is exhibited by A. B. G. H., and also Cod. Sin.—The neuter form belongs to the later Greek. (Meyer).—TR.]
Acts 28:10. [Instead of the singular, of text. rec., with G. H., the plural form, τὰς χρείας is adopted by Lach., Tisch., and Alf., on the authority of A. B.: it is also found in Cod. Sin.—“The plural is a correction, as the wants were supposed to be many, and also in order to suit Acts 20:34.” (de Wette, with whom Meyer concurs: “the plural is a gloss.)—TR.]
And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux.C.—CONCLUSION OF THE JOURNEY FROM MALTA TO ROME
11And [But] after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux [isle, having the navalsign of the Dioscuri]. 12And landing at Syracuse, we tarried there three days8.13And from thence we fetched a compass, and came to [we came around, and arrived at] Rhegium: and after one day the south wind blew, and [as a south wind sprang up,] we came the next [on the second, δευτεραῖοι] day to Puteoli: 14Where [There] we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them9 seven days: and so we wenttoward [and thus (οὕτως) we came to] Rome. 15And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came10 to meet us as far as Appii Forum, and the Three Taverns [and Tres Tabernæ]; whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage [gained confidence].
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
ACTS 28:11. And after three months.—If the travellers commenced the voyage after the autumnal equinox (Acts 27:9), and if, accordingly, they spent the months of November, December and January at Malta, they could not have continued the voyage until the month of February, A.D. 62. The ship in which they now embarked, also belonged to Alexandria [comp. Acts 27:6], and exhibited the sign of the Dioscuri, that is, a painted or carved representation of Castor and Pollux, at the prow; these hero-twins were regarded by Greek and Roman sailors as their tutelar deities. The ship’s sign is designated by the term παράσημος. The word, however, appears to be an adjective, equivalent to: Dioscurorum effigiebus insignita. Meyer’s objection to this view, namely, that the adjectiveπαράσημος is always used in an unfavorable sense [e. g., notorious, exhibiting a spurious mark or impress, etc.—TR.], is unfounded; for in the later Greek writers, e. g., Plutarch, παράσημος often occurs in a good sense, equivalent to insignis, conspicuus.
ACTS 28:12–14. The voyage was continued until Syracuse was reached; this city was situated on the south-east coast of Sicily, about eighty miles distant from Malta in a north-easterly direction. The next point was Rhegium, in southern Italy, opposite to the north-eastern angle of Sicily; the vessel at length reached Puteoli, the modern Pozzuoli, about seven miles west of Naples. It had, without doubt, been detained three days at Syracuse for commercial purposes.—The meaning of περιελθεῖν is doubtful. The word can in no case be understood as stating that the vessel had sailed entirely around Sicily (de Wette); it may, with greater probability mean that, on account of unfavorable winds, the vessel had repeatedly been compelled for short distances to take a circuitous route. [Mr. Howson remarks in a note (Conyb. and H. Vol. II., p. 358): “Mr. Smith’s view that περιελθόντες means simply ‘beating’ is more likely to be correct than that of Mr. Lewin, who supposes that ‘as the wind was westerly, and they were under shelter of the high mountainous range of Etna on their left, they were obliged to stand out to sea in order to fill their sails, and so come to Rhegium by a circuitous sweep.’ ”—TR.]. The rapid passage from Reggio [the modern name of Rhegium] to Pozzuoli—a distance of 182 miles—in less than two days may be explained by the circumstance that a favorable wind (the south wind, Acts 28:13) attended the vessel. The port of Puteoli was, during the centuries which immediately preceded and followed the birth of Christ, the most important of all those found on the coast of Lower Italy, and was especially frequented by vessels from the East. Those that brought grain from Egypt, generally discharged their cargoes at that port. Travellers from Syria also usually disembarked at the same point, and thence proceeded to Rome by land; see JOSEPHUS, Antiq. xvii. 12. 1, xviii. 7. 2, where, however, Josephus employs the Greek name Dikæarchia [Δικαίαρχεια].
ACTS 28:15. And so we went toward [thus we came to] Rome, that is, without delaying in any spot, after leaving Puteoli. This remark is made proleptically; the supplementary verse (Acts 28:15) adds that, on the road, Paul had been met and saluted by Christians who came from Rome. This occurred both at Appii Forum, and at Tres Tabernæ. The former was a small town, about forty-three Roman miles from the city, on the Via Appia, which led from Rome to Capua, and which was named after Appius Claudius Caecus, who had constructed it; the town was situated on the northern border of the Pontine Marshes. [“Cicero mentions both in the letters to Atticus, II. 11: ‘Ab Appii Foro hora quarta: dederam aliam paullo ante Tribus Tabernis.’ (Alf.).—TR.]. Tres Tabernæ was a place of entertainment for travellers, about ten miles nearer to Rome than Appii Forum. As Paul had tarried seven days in Puteoli, the Christians of this place no doubt at an early period communicated the intelligence of his arrival to those at Rome, so that it was possible for some of the latter to go forward and meet him at a distance of thirty Roman miles from the city, and for others to proceed even forty miles, in order to welcome him. [Took courage; θάρσος. “Both encouragement as to his own arrival, as a prisoner, in the vast metropolis,—in seeing such affection, to which he was of all men most sensible; and encouragement as to his great work so long contemplated, and now about to commence in Rome,—in seeing so promising a beginning for him to build on.” (Alf.)—TR.]
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
It was a result of the unity and relationship of men in Jesus Christ, who, although personally unacquainted, are nevertheless well known and closely allied to each other, that this meeting (Acts 28:14) filled the heart of Paul with joy, and so greatly increased his courage, Acts 28:15; comp. Rom. 1:12.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
ACTS 28:11. A ship … whose sign was Castor and Pollux [the Dioscuri].—The Dioscuri [i.e., Castor and Pollux, in heathen mythology, the sons of Jupiter and Leda.—TR.] were regarded as the protectors of seafaring men; but the banner under which Paul really sailed, was the banner of the cross of Jesus Christ, on which the words are written: “By this sign thou shalt conquer” [an allusion to the vision which, as Eusebius relates (Vita Constant. I. 27 f.), the emperor Constantine saw at mid-day, viz., a cross in the sky, exhibiting in brilliant letters the inscription: τούτῳ νίκα.—TR.].—Castor and Pollux are nothing, 1 Cor. 8:4, but all the ships that sail are the Lord’s, and those who sail in them with thanksgiving, suffer no harm from any idolatrous banner. Herein those who succeed the apostle of the Gentiles find consolation, when they set forth with the banner of the cross, but sail in vessels that bear as their banner the golden calf of “Money-making.” (Besser).
ACTS 28:13. And from thence … to Rhegium.—The narrative before us states that the apostle visited many places, but does not add that a special blessing attended these visits. He was a prisoner, could not choose his own course, humbly submitted to the Lord, and waited for his instructions. Nevertheless, the divine promise was fulfilled: “When this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them.” Ezek. 33:33. This was the case with Melita; and the other places also, which are here mentioned, afterwards received the Gospel. We have, therefore, no reason to despond, if the divine blessing does not immediately become visible in every spot in which the Lord employs us. Let us submit the result of our labors to Him; for although the seed may be buried for a season, the fruit will in due time appear. Many a servant of Jesus descends into the grave, and the seed which he had sown by his preaching, his tears, and his sufferings, begins to come forth and flourish only after his departure. (Ap. Past.).
ACTS 28:14. Where we found brethren.—The people of God are every where, although they may be concealed from public view. Let no one say: “I only am left.” 1 Kings 19:14–18. (Starke).—Christians are spiritual brethren, whom the same Father begat with the word of truth [Jam. 1:18]; they have the same brother—Christ [Heb. 2:11], and they look for the same inheritance, Rom. 8:16. Hence we should all regard each other with brotherly love.—(id.).—The hearts of Luke and Paul were filled with joy, when they found brethren at Puteoli. The honors which were paid to them at Melita were of little account, but when they met with children of God, they deemed that they had found a rich treasure. It is a sure sign that our hearts possess the true power of faith, when we love the brethren, desire communion with them, and are strengthened by their faith. Paul gained new courage, when, after having been long surrounded by rude [heathen] seamen, he again met with brethren; he remained seven days with them, no doubt in order that he might pass a Sunday with them, proclaim the word of God, and commemorate the Lord’s death in the Holy Supper, in company with them. May God, by His Holy Spirit, maintain in us such genuine brotherly love. (Ap. Past.).—And so we went toward Rome.—No doubt the apostle and his companions surveyed that pagan imperial city with deep emotion and anxious expectations, when its lofty buildings met their view. But the heart of the Roman emperor in his palace would have also been deeply moved, if he could have had a presentiment that at this moment a power, in the servile form of a Jewish prisoner, was entering by the gates, before which the Roman Empire, and, indeed, the whole heathen world, would sink into the dust. That was a far more decisive moment than when, on a former occasion, the cry was heard; Hannibal ante portas!
ACTS 28:15. From thence … the brethren … came to meet us.—The brethren of Rome, who thus cheered the heart of Paul by coming to meet him, displayed by that act a considerate love, which was itself one of the fruits of the Epistle that had previously been directed to them. We can thus perform many an act, which, without occasioning expense, will comfort and soothe the hearts of others during the wearisome journey of life. (Rieger).—Whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage.—The Spirit of God here indicates, that although Paul had hitherto furnished so many proofs of the power of his faith, he nevertheless continued to be a feeble human being. Now, when he was so near the city, his feelings may have somewhat resembled those of a delinquent who is approaching the place of execution. What thoughts and fears he may have entertained! What traces of a weak faith may have then appeared! Hence God strengthened and encouraged him anew through the believers at Rome. (Ap. Past.). This entrance of Paul into the city, in order to appear as an accused person before the imperial tribunal, after having been welcomed and conducted by his friends, naturally reminds us of Luther’s entrance into the city of Worms, where he, too, was to appear before the emperor [in the year 1521]. (Williger).
ON THE WHOLE SECTION.
The blessings of Christian fellowship, Acts 28:14, 15. (Lisco).
Christianity forms mankind into one family of God: I. It was the original purpose, at the creation, that mankind should constitute one family; II. Through sin, enmity entered into the world; III. Through Christ, peace is to be restored to the earth. (id.).
‘Here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come’ [Hebr. 13:14]. (id.).
Paul before the gates of Rome: I. As a homeless stranger—and yet welcomed by loving brethren; II. As an evil-doer in bonds—and yet bearing in his heart the gracious testimony of God; III. As a man appointed unto death (for, at an earlier or later period, he was to surrender his life within those walls), —and yet, as a conqueror, triumphantly planting the banner of the cross of Christ in the very citadel of heathenism.
The arrival of Paul at Rome—the deep import of the event: I. With respect to the apostle; (a) the mission of his life is accomplished; (b) the mark toward which he pressed, is fixed [Phil. 3:14]. II. With respect to the heathen world; (a) the day of its gracious visitation arrives; (b) but also the day of the departure of its glory. III. With respect to Judaism; (a) the apostle of the Gentiles turns to his own people in Rome, for the last time; (b) the kingdom now passes over to the Gentiles [Acts 28:28], and Rome takes the place of Jerusalem. IV. With respect to Christianity; (a) bloody contests await it in Rome; (b) but also most glorious victories.
Paul’s entrance into Rome, and Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem: I. Each enters in the form of a servant; II. Each is received with joyful acclamations [Matt. 21:9]; III. Each subsequently suffer a violent death.
The fraternal reception of the apostle Paul at Rome, a beautiful illustration of the communion of saints: I. It unites the children of God; II. It subdues the kingdoms of the world; III. It proclaims the honor of the Lord.
[Acts 28:14, 15. Friends and enemies: I. We meet with both in the world; (a) such was the experience of the servants of God mentioned in the Scriptures; (b) such is still the experience of His servants. II. The causes which attract the friendship or enmity of others; (a) sometimes our own personal acts; (b) sometimes the peculiar circumstances in which we are placed. III. The conduct which the Christian observes; (a) towards friends; (b) towards enemies. IV. The lessons which the subject teaches; (a) the disordered state of the world which sin has produced; (b) the perfect peace which true faith in Christ would produce in the world.—TR.].
Acts 28:12. [Instead of the accusative plur. of text. rec., Lach. reads ἡμἐραις τρισίν, on the authority of B. Other editors generally adhere to the reading of the text. rec., which also Cod. Sin. sustains.—TR.]
Acts 28:14. [Instead of ἐπʼ αὐτοις of text. rec., with G. H., Lach., Tisch. and Born. read παῤ αὐτ., with A. B., and also Cod. Sin. Alf., who retains the former reading, regards the latter as a “correction to the more usual expression.”—TR.]
Acts 28:15. [Instead of ἐξῆλθον of text. rec., with G. H., Lach, and Tisch. read ἦλθον. Alf. retains the compound. A. exhibits ἦλθον; B. and also Cod. Sin. read ἦλθαν; for the latter form see Winer, § 13.1.a.—TR.]
And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him.SECTION V
THE ABODE AND LABORS OF THE APOSTLE PAUL IN ROME
A.—THE DISCUSSIONS OF THE APOSTLE WITH THE JEWS AT ROME TERMINATE WITH THE REJECTION OF THE GOSPEL BY THEM
16And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but [Acts 28:16. But when we arrived at Rome,11] Paul was suffered [permitted] to dwell by himself with a [the, τῷ] soldier that kept [who guarded] him.17And [But] it came to pass, that [om. that] after three days Paul [days, that he12] called the chief of [among] the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren [Ye men, brethren], though I have committed nothing against the people, or [the] customs of our [the] fathers, yet was I delivered [asa] prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans: 18Who, when they had examined me, would have [were minded (ἐβούλοντο) to] let me go, because there wasno cause [was no guilt worthy] of death in me. 19But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Cesar [unto the emperor]; not that I had aughtto accuse13 my nation of. 20For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with [to address] you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with [I bear on me] this chain.
21And [But] they said unto him, We neither received letters out of Judea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came shewed or spake any harm of thee [nor did any one of the brethren come, who shewed or spake any evil thing (τι—πονηρόν)concerning thee.]. But [Nevertheless, δὲ] we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against [that it every where meets with contradiction]. 23And when they had [But they] appointed him a day, [and then] there came14 many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them [and whom he sought to convince] concerning Jesus15, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets,from [early in the] morning till evening. 24And some believed the things which were spoken [And some were convinced (ἐπείθοντο) by that which he spake], and some [but others] believed not [οἱ δὲ ὴπίστουν]. 25And when they agreed not [But as they did not agree] among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one [ONE ἕν] word, Well [Very appropriately, χαλῶς] spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias [Isaiah]the prophet unto our16 fathers, 26Saying, Go unto this people, and say17, Hearing ye shall [will] hear, and shall [will] not understand; and seeing [with the eyes] ye shall [will] see, and not perceive: 27For the heart of this people is waxed gross [has become fat], and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should [so that they should not] see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should [not] be converted18, and I should [not] healthem. 28Be it known therefore unto you, that the [that this19] salvation of God issent unto the Gentiles, and that they will [Gentiles; they will also] hear it. 29And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves [omit the whole of Acts 28:29.20].
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
ACTS 28:16. a. And when we came to Rome.—Paul entered the city by the Via Appia through the Porta Capena, not far distant from the Castrum Prætorium, which was built by Sejanus, the favorite of Tiberius, and was situated to the east. It is true that the words ὁ ἑκατόνταρχος … στρατοπεδάρχῃ are spurious [see note 1 above, appended to the text]; still, they are undoubtedly correct in point of fact. For the Præfecti Prætorio, besides having the supreme command of the imperial guard, held in custody all those prisoners from the provinces who were to be tried before the emperor. [Trajan says (PLIN. Ep. X. 65) of such a prisoner: “vinctus mitti ad præfectos prætorii mei debet.” Quoted in Conyb. and H. II. 373. n. 11.—TR.].—The point is of very little importance that Luke speaks only of one [τῷ στρατ.] commander, (whereas there were usually two who held command, and it was only during the reign of Claudius that Burrus Afranius, held the appointment as sole prefect [TAC. Ann. XII. 52; XIV. 51.]; for we assume here that the passage in question, Acts 28:16, as just stated above, is an interpolation. For the same reason that reckoning of the apostolic chronology (especially in the respective works of Anger [Temp. rat. p. 101] and Wieseler) loses a part of its force, which assumes as a guide the fact that Burrus died in the beginning of the year 62, or in the month of March of that year, after which the command was again shared by two generals; for the statement of Luke, which is combined with that date, when viewed as an interpolation, ceases to be evidence. [“Some have inferred that as only one (commander) is here mentioned, it must have been this person (Burrus). … It is evident, however, that no such conclusion can be drawn from the use of the singular number, which may just as well denote the one on duty, or be taken as equivalent to one of the prefects or commanders.”(Alex.). This is also the interpretation of Meyer, who adds: “The language does not imply that the commander in question personally took charge of the prisoners.”—TR.]
b. For the favor which was granted to Paul, namely, that he could dwell καθ̓ ἑαυτόν, i.e., not only apart from the other prisoners, but also, as it appears from Acts 28:17 and Acts 28:30, in a private house, which was very probably in the immediate vicinity of the prætorium, he was no doubt indebted to the accompanying report of the procurator Festus, and also to the personal intercession of the centurion Julius. But a prætorian soldier unquestionably always attended him as a guard, who was, according to the Roman custom, attached to his arm by a chain, Acts 28:20. [“Different soldiers relieved each other in the performance of this office. Hence, as Paul states in Phil. 1:13, he became, in the course of time, personally known to a great number of the prætorian soldiers, and through them to their comrades, etc.”(Hackett).—TR.]. Eadem catena et custodiam et militem copulat. (SENECA, Ep. 5.)
ACTS 28:17–20. a. Three days after Paul’s arrival, he invited those who presided over the Jewish community at Rome, to visit him. During the first three days he, partly, sought repose, after the severe journey which he had accomplished, and he may have, partly, devoted the time to the Christians in the city, some of whom had gone forward to meet him, and with all of whom he had for some years longed to have personal intercourse, Rom. 1:11 ff. But his first steps on passing beyond the comparatively narrow circle of those who were already converts, were directed, in accordance with his established principle and his common practice, towards Israel. And as the circumstances in which he was placed, did not allow him to seek the Jews, and to enter their synagogue, as he had done in other places in Asia and Europe, no other course remained than that he should request the representatives of the Jewish congregation to come to his lodging. These chief men of the Jews were, without doubt, partly, the rulers of the synagogue, and, partly, others whose position in social life was conspicuous. They accordingly complied with his request, and came to him. [In reply to an objection made by Zeller to the historical character of the narrative, Meyer says: “It cannot surprise us that Luke furnishes no details respecting the Roman congregation, for it is the object of the book to relate the acts of the apostles.”—“With regard to είς τὴν ξενίαν, Acts 28:23, we are convinced, with Wieseler, that it is to be distinguished from τὸ ἴδιον μίσθωμα mentioned below, Acts 28:30. The latter was a hired lodging, which he took for his permanent residence; and the mention of the money he received from the Philippians (Phil. Acts 4) serves to show that he would not need the means of hiring a lodging. The ξενία (hospitium) implies the temporary residence of a guest with friends, as in Philemon 22. Nothing is more likely than that Aquila and Priscilla were his hosts at Rome, as formerly at Corinth.” (Conyb. and H. II. 382. n. 1.)—TR.]
b. Men and brethren, etc.—This address to the assembled Jews is essentially of a personal nature, and is intended to counteract certain prejudices which the Roman Jews might entertain, in consequence, partly, of Paul’s imprisonment in general, partly, of the fact that he had appealed to the emperor, and, partly, of any slanders which were possibly brought from Judea. In order to justify himself, he assures them, in the first place, that his imprisonment and the delivery of his person to the Romans, did not proceed from any offence which he had committed against the people of Israel or the Mosaic institutions, Acts 28:17. He makes this declaration with perfect propriety, for no one could believe that he had been guilty of any offence against his nation. But the assertion that Paul, by proclaiming his doctrine concerning Christ as the end of the law [Rom. 10:4], had assailed the fundamental principles of the law, can be made by those alone, who form an erroneous opinion respecting his real position in reference to the law; for he entertains the utmost reverence for it, as an actual revelation of God, and he does not assail the Mosaic institutions themselves, but only maintains that they are not competent to justify and save men. Hence these statements of Paul are in perfect accordance with the truth.
c. Paul declares, in the second place, Acts 28:18, 19, that his appeal to the emperor had become indispensably necessary, only because the Jews protested against his acquittal, to which the Roman authorities judged him to be entitled. [“This may have been at Acts 25:8. The possibility of such a release is asserted by Agrippa, ch 26:32.” (Alf.)—TR]. He adds that, in making this appeal, it had not been his intention to bring forward any accusation against his own people before the emperor. Here Paul terms Israel, not ὁ λαός, as in Acts 28:17, but τὸ ἐθνος μου, because, in this respect, he viewed Israel, not as the people of God, but as the nation to which he himself belonged, and to which, in view of the Roman head of the government, he owed certain duties of patriotism.—Paul declares, in the last place, that these causes, namely, the honest and upright sentiments with which he regarded his people, combined with the fact that he had been bound with a chain solely for the Messianic hope of Israel, had induced him to invite them, in order that he might see and speak with them. [The hope of Israel; see Acts 26:6–8.—TR.]. ΙΙερίκειμαι alludes to the circumstance that his arm was encircled by the chain. [“For περίκειμαι with the accusative, comp. Hebr. 5:2; KYPKE: Obs. II. p. 147; JACOBS ad Anthol. IX. p. 75.”(Meyer)—TR.]
ACTS 28:21, 22. And they said, etc.—The historical character of the reply of the Jews, viz., that they had received neither any written nor verbal communications which were unfavorable to Paul personally, has been frequently and harshly impugned. It has been asserted that such a reply could not possibly have been made by them, and that, hence, the whole statement is incredible. Those who adopt this view, think it just and proper to assume that the Roman Jews must necessarily have received information respecting Paul from the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem. Others have, however, in opposition to this view, insisted with great justice on the following considerations:—Before the appeal of Paul was made, the leaders of the Sanhedrin could have had no reason for writing to the Jewish community at Rome in reference to him, for they had not even remotely expected such an issue (Meyer). But after the appeal was made, they no longer had time to convey intelligence to the Roman Jews previously to the personal arrival of Paul (Bengel, Meyer), as he probably commenced his journey soon after the appeal was made [ch. 25:12; 27:1. “Had any (messengers of the Sanhedrin) left within a few days, the same storm would have in all probability detained them over the winter, and they could not certainly have made a much quicker voyage than Paul’s ship to Puteoli.” (Alf.)—TR.].—There is, however, another circumstance, which may seem surprising, namely, that these Roman Jews do not appear to have received even privately and incidentally, any information respecting Paul from Jews of Palestine, who were passing through Rome. Now it must be admitted, that they do not distinctly say that they had not hitherto heard any thing whatever concerning Paul: indeed, they themselves acknowledged, Acts 28:22, that Christianity every where met with contradiction. Hence they had heard of Christianity, and of the disputes which, in consequence of it, had arisen in various places; and they had assuredly also heard of the individuals who proclaimed the Gospel, especially of Paul himself. All that they deny is, simply, that they had heard “any thing evil” [τι - - πονηρόν], that is, any thing that was morally bad, concerning him. They may have expressed themselves in this manner, partly, from prudential considerations; in view of the imperial court and authority, from which the Roman Jews had already greatly suffered, and, partly, from a desire to encourage Paul to speak to them without reserve. If they observe silence with respect to the Christian congregation itself which existed in the capital, this circumstance, when we consider the peculiar state of affairs in a great city like Rome, can the less surprise us, as it is apparent that they are intentionally reserved in their remarks. [Meyer here adds: “However cautious and officially reserved they are, the Jewish contempt of Christianity may be plainly seen.”—TR.]. If there actually were a contradiction between the fact of the existence of a Christian congregation at Rome, on the one hand, and this act of ignoring it, on the other, the narrator must have been extremely short-sighted, if in this place, Acts 28:22, he forgot that he had, a few verses above [Acts 28:15], spoken of the Christian congregation of the city.
ACTS 28:23. There came many, etc.—At the second meeting, not only the chief among the Jews, but also a much larger number [πλείονες] came to Paul. And on this occasion he delivered a comprehensive discourse, which occupied the whole day. He furnished a twofold exposition (ἐξετίθετο): he, first, testified the kingdom of God (διαμαρτύρεσθαι), i.e., he announced the facts of redemption and of the establishment of the kingdom of God through Jesus Christ; he furnished, in the second place, certain explanations concerning Jesus, which were derived from the Old Testament, and were intended to convince the minds of his hearers (πείθειν). Thus he first delivered his testimony in favor of the historical Jesus of Nazareth, and then demonstrated that He was the Messiah promised under the Old Covenant: the latter constituted his main argument.
ACTS 28:24–27. And some believed, etc.—Paul succeeded in convincing some of his hearers (ἐπείθοντο), but others resisted, and refused to believe. Their conflicting opinions were doubtless audibly expressed (ἀσύμφωνοι). It was the language of unbelief, uttered by some of those who were present, to which the concluding remark of the apostle referred; it was one word, ῥῆμα ἕν, pronounced after many others had been spoken, but it was a word of the very deepest import. It consisted simply in the quotation of a prophetic declaration respecting Israel’s hardness of heart, which the apostle obviously applies to his own times, and to the unbelievers who were then present. That this is the correct interpretation, appears from the context, especially Acts 28:28, and from the word καλῶς, which, precisely as in Matth. 15:7, describes a declaration or prophecy that may, with the utmost propriety, be applied to the present case. It was, indeed, the purpose of God that the word which He addressed to the prophet, should be proclaimed to the people (Isai. 6:9, 10), and in so far the words: ἐλάλησε … πρὸς τ. πατέρας are fitly chosen. The passage, from ἀκοῇ to the end, is taken verbatim from the Septuagint. The divine command: πορεύθητι, etc., Paul applied to himself and his mission; comp. Acts 26:17. [Well spake the Holy Ghost, etc.—Quod Spiritum sanctum loquentem inducit potius quam prophetam, ad fidem oraculi valet: nam quum Deus se unum audiri postulet, non aliter potest constare doctrinæ auctoritas, quam si ab eo sciamus profectam esse, non in hominum capite natam. (Calvin).—Celebris est hic locus, quia sexies citatur in Novo Testamento (id.), namely, besides the present chapter, in Matth. 13:14 (comp. Vol. I. p. 240); Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10; John 12:40; Rom. 11:8.—TR.]
ACTS 28:28. Be it known therefore unto you.—The consequence of this hardness of heart of Israel, which was manifested also in Rome, is, that this salvation of God (τοῦτο [comp. note 9, appended to the text, above] τὸ σωτ. i.e., which is this day proclaimed), is sent unto the Gentiles for their benefit. Ἀπεστάλη, like πορεύθητι in Acts 28:26, refers to the apostolic mission of Paul. The word “also” [καὶ], connected with “they will hear,” contrasts (in addition to the offer of salvation by God) the acceptance of this salvation by the Gentiles, with the οὐ συνιένοι, βαρέως ἀκούειν, etc., of Israel; i.e., the Gospel will not only be sent to them, but they will also hear it.
[ACTS 28:29. See note 10, above, appended to the text. “It (the verse) contains a natural though not necessary close of this transaction with the Jews at Rome, etc.”—“This is in one sense the conclusion of Paul’s ministry, i.e., so far as it extended both to Jews and Gentiles, etc.”—(Alexander).—TR.]
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The apostle of the Gentiles, who has now reached the end of his course at Rome, directs his attention, first of all, to the Israelites, before he proclaims the kingdom of God to all without exception, that is, also to the Gentiles. Instead of taking offence at this course of the apostle, as some have done, and representing it as inconceivable, in an historical point of view, in the case of Paul, who was “so little bound by the law, so truly evangelical, and so ready to communicate the Gospel to all without exception,” we have rather reason to honor him for his consistency (Ἰουδαίῳ τε πρῶτον καὶ Ἕλληνι, Rom. 1:16), and his pitying love and fidelity to his own people (comp. Rom. 9:4 ff.), with which he was inspired by the Spirit of Christ. It is not merely a natural and patriotic feeling, but in reality true love for Christ’s sake—a genuine love of enemies,—which here controls Paul; although he had suffered so much from his own people, he entertains no wish to appear as their accuser, Acts 28:19, but, on the contrary, desires first of all to offer to them the salvation of Christ.
2. Paul first explains and justifies his personal acts, and it is only afterwards that he proclaims the Gospel to the Jews. This course was very judicious, as he could not expect that they would listen to his words with favor, in case they entertained prejudices against his personal character. He not only exhibited wisdom by obviating any reproach which they might suppose that his character deserved, but he also thus fully conformed to the moral character of Christ and Christianity; for “a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit.” Matth. 7:18.
3. Paul experiences once more, in Rome, that the Jews are decidedly opposed to the Gospel. And once more he turns from the unbelieving Jews to the Gentiles, by whom the word is more favorably received.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
ACTS 28:16. Paul was suffered to dwell by himself.—We can be happy in any spot, if the grace of God abides with us. (Starke).—When a man’s ways please God, He inclines the hearts even of enemies to show him favor.—(id.).—The arm of that God who had guided the apostle to Jerusalem, and during all his difficult journeys, according to His own counsel, sustains that faithful servant also at Rome. (Ap. Past.).
ACTS 28:17. After three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together.—It requires no little effort to retain our attachment to our people and our mother-church, when men of authority in the latter treat us with gross injustice. (Rieger).—He who composed the incomparable hymn in praise of that charity which “beareth all things, and hopeth all things,” did not merely extol such charity, but also exemplified it in his life and conduct; as often as he encountered the deadly enmity of his brethren, and suffered agony of body and spirit amid their cruel persecutions, so often, too, did he exhibit patience and hope. (Baumgarten).—It may be doubted whether any teacher who ever came to a strange place, appeared under circumstances more humiliating than were those of Paul at the time when he entered Rome. Nevertheless, no one ever accomplished as much as this witness of Jesus, who was bound with a chain. For a fire glowed within him—an ardent desire to testify of Jesus, and to win the souls even of imbittered foes; and the divine call which he had received, guided all his steps, made his paths straight, opened, at his approach, the hearts of men, and caused “his paths to drop fatness.” [Ps. 65:11]. It is, therefore, by no means necessary that a teacher should present himself in an imposing manner, or be received at a new place with great parade. But it is of vital consequence that he should be a servant of Jesus, that he should take up his cross and follow the Saviour, that God should have called him to that place, and that his heart should burn with the love of Jesus and with a desire for the salvation of men. (Ap. Past.).
ACTS 28:19. Not that I had aught to accuse my nation of.—All the malice of his enemies failed to create in him a thirst for revenge, or even to awaken unfriendly sentiments. It was not his wish to accuse them; he desired, on the contrary, to be the instrument of their conversion. Thus his conduct furnished the evidence that his whole nature was controlled by divine grace, and that the love of Jesus had suppressed all sensitiveness, all self-will, and all desire to exalt himself. (Ap. Past.).
ACTS 28:20. Because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.—When this hope is established in the heart, we can the more easily and joyfully bear our chains. And the thorn, too, in the flesh, the messenger of Satan, with all his buffeting [2 Cor. 12:7], may thus be vanquished. (Ap. Past.).—The iron chains which a true Israelite bears for the hope of Israel, are a more honorable badge in the eyes of the God of Israel, than all the chains of gold which the world admires. (Lindhammer).
ACTS 28:21, 22. We neither received letters … concerning thee, etc. But … as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against.—This, then, was the result among the Jews, after a gracious visitation of thirty years! They spoke against the Gospel every where; the “sign”of Christ, concerning which Simeon had prophesied (Luke 2:34), was seen wherever Jews dwelt, from Jerusalem even to the ends of the earth. (Besser).—The poor Jews at Rome knew nothing more of the matter which Paul presented to their attention, than that the doctrine of Christ, which they called a “sect,” met with contradiction in every place. This is the evil which results, when we repose too much confidence in the judgment of men—either implicitly believing that which others believe, and entertaining the “collier’s blind faith,” or rashly and impetuously rejecting that which the multitude rejects. (Ap. Past.).—The aged Simeon had already understood that Christ was set for a sign which should be spoken against. Such is the characteristic feature by which genuine Christians may be recognized—they are every where spoken against. (Gossner).—And yet, the doctrine of this feeble “sect” has become the religion of the world, and has overcome the enmity of Israel and of Rome, without sword or bow, solely by the Davidic sling of the divine word. (Leonh. and Sp.).
ACTS 28:23. Persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets.—No better method for convincing the Jews that Jesus is the true Messiah, can be adopted, than that of conducting them to the law and the prophets. (Starke).—From morning till evening.—Should not this faithful and unwearied effort of the apostle put to shame the lukewarmness of those teachers, who restrict their official labors to the pulpit, and regard it as a sin to open their houses to awakened persons who seek instruction? (Ap. Past.).—If we desire to know Jesus according to the truth, and to enter through him into the kingdom of God, we must diligently search the Scriptures, and not speedily discontinue that work; we should rather exhibit the utmost diligence, even as Paul here preaches concerning the word till evening comes. (Bogatzky).
ACTS 28:24. And some believed, etc.—The seed of the word here fell, in some cases, by the wayside, in others, upon stony places or among thorns; nevertheless, some fell into good ground [Matth. 13:4 ff.].—To some the Gospel is the savour of life unto life; to others, the savour of death unto death. [2 Cor. 2:16]. (Starke).
ACTS 28:25. And when they agreed not among themselves.—If Christ, who is our peace and the sole bond of holy union, occasions contention even among those who had previously been intimate friends, the true cause must be traced to the malice and corrupt nature of unbelievers. When these Jews assemble for the purpose of hearing Paul, they are of one mind; but after listening to the preaching of the Atonement, they begin to differ, and form two hostile parties. Still, we ought not to suppose that this dissension did not arise until the Gospel was preached; such discord, on the contrary, already existed in secret in the hearts of men, but was not made manifest until the present, moment had arrived. So, too, the light of the sun does not create new colors, but only exhibits the difference between them, which did not appear while darkness reigned. (Calvin).
ACTS 28:26.Hearing ye shall bear, and shall not understand, etc.—In a similar manner John draws a general inference in his Gospel, Acts 12:37 ff., from the discourses of Jesus. (Williger).
ACTS 28:27. For the heart of this people is waxed gross, etc.—When the apostles speak of the divine judgment of the hardening of the heart, they always intend to teach that the destruction of those who thus harden themselves is by no means to be ascribed to God as the primary cause. This hardening is not only the natural result of a contemptuous neglect of divine grace, but is, at the same time, a divine judgment which befalls those who held the truth in unrighteousness. Like every other doctrine, that of the hardening of the heart should be publicly proclaimed, but we should be on our guard lest we speak irreverently of God and discourage benighted minds. (Ap. Past.).
ACTS 28:28. That the [this] salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, etc.—Thus, while we are gazing at the dark scene of the rejection of Israel, the light of the heaven of grace again appears, as a sign that the Lord is not always wroth [Isai. 57:16], but remembers his covenant, and the sure mercies of David [Acts 13:34]. (Leonh. and Sp.).—Although our hearers may become displeased, we are not permitted to “sew pillows to all armholes” (Ezek. 13:18). If the Jews will not come to the great supper of God, the Gentiles will fill his house, Luke 14. 16,18,23. (Starke).—They will [also] hear it.—We, too, are here included. God be praised! (Besser).
ON THE WHOLE SECTION.—Paul’s farewell sermon, addressed to the Jews at Rome: I. His last testimony to his innocence, Acts 28:17–20; II. His last confession of Jesus Christ as the Messiah, Acts 28:23; III. The last effusion of his love to his people, Acts 28:17, 19, 20; IV. The last blow of his hammer on hardened hearts, Acts 28:25–28.
The chains of Paul, Acts 28:20: I. A badge of infamy for his deluded people; II. A badge of honor for this faithful servant of the Lord; III. A precious consolation for all those who suffer for the sake of the truth.
The sect which is every where spoken against (Acts 28:22), demonstrated precisely by the opposition of the world, to be the chosen people of God: for, I. The charges which are every where made against Christianity, refute each other—a proof of its undeniable truth; II. In the midst of so many enemies on the right hand and on the left, the little flock of confessors increased, until it became a church that rules the world—a proof of its indestructible vital power.
The twofold lot of the divine word, wherever it may be preached, even to the end of time, Acts 28:24: I. To some it proves to be the savour of life unto life; II. To others, the savour of death unto death. [2 Cor. 2:16].
The awful judgment of hardness of heart: I. Inflicted, not by an unmerciful Creator, but by a righteous Judge; II. Merited, not by particular and heinous sins, but by an obstinate resistance to saving grace; III. Proclaimed, not for the purpose of driving men to despair, but for that of awakening a salutary fear.
“Be it known unto you that the [this] salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it,” (Acts 28:28) —a warning addressed to Christians of modern times; it is intended, I. To rebuke them for being cold and ungrateful; II. To put them to shame, by exhibiting the eagerness with which pagans seek salvation; III. To remind them of the impending judgments of God, Rev. 2:5.
[Acts 28:29. The private discussions of Paul’s Jewish hearers at Rome, or, The conversion of the Jews: I. The circumstances which occasioned these discussions (the address of Paul, etc.); II. The subjects (the Messiahship of Jesus—the character, conduct, etc., of Paul); III. The probable course of argument of each party; IV. The influences by which some were conducted to faith in Christ; V. The causes of the continued blindness of others; VI. The means which the Christian should employ in laboring (or, The spirit in which the Christian should labor) for the conversion of the Jews.—TR.]
Acts 28:16. The following words [in text. rec.] are probably spurious: ὁ ἑκατόνταρχος παρέδωκε τοὺς δεσμίους ιῷ στρατοπεδάρχῃ.They are wanting in the oldest manuscripts [A. B. and also Vulg.], and were, for this reason, regarded as. spurious already by Mill, Bengel and Griesbach; they have, since, been cancelled by Lachmann and Tischendorf. No reason can be assigned for the omission of them, if they were genuine, whereas they may have easily been interpolated. Meyer maintains that they are genuine, without, however, adducing convincing arguments. Here, too, the testimony of the recently discovered Sinaitic Codex sustains the results of criticism [by also omitting the whole.—The text. rec. continues after the above thus: τῷ δε Παύλῳ ἐπετράπη, while Lach., as in Cod. Sin., reads: Ῥώμην, ἐπετράπη τ. Π.—The words are found in G. H., and most of the minuscules, and also in Theophyl., Oecum.—Alf., who adopts the opinion of de Wette and Meyer, retains the words as genuine.—TR.]
Acts 28:17. αὐτόν is far better attested [by A. B. Cod. Sin., Vulg.] than τὸν Παῦλον [which reading is found in G. H Recent editors generally adopt αὐτόν.—TR.]
Acts 28:19. [Instead of κατηγορῆσαι, of text. rec., with G. H. (and retained by Alf.), Lach., Tisch., and Born., with A. B., and also Cod. Sin., read κατηγορεῖν. “The aorist is a mechanical correction to suit ἐπικαλέσασθαι.” (Meyer).—TR.]
Acts 28:23. a. ἦκον [of text. rec.] is not better sustained by external testimony [by G. H.] than ἦλθον [which is found in A. B. and Cod. Sin., and is adopted by Lach. and Alf.]; but on account of the internal evidence, (precisely because ἤκω is less usual in the New Test.), it should be preferred to the latter. [It does not elsewhere occur in the ACTS.—“Besides,”—adds de Wette, quoting from Passow, ad verb.—“as the present tense of ἥκω already has the sense of the imperfect (Luke 15:27), careful (Attic) writers do not employ the imperfect tense.” He regards ἦλθον, accordingly, as a later correction.—TR.]
Acts 28:23. b. [τὰ, before περὶ τ. Ἰησ., of text. rec., with G., is dropped by Lach., Tisch., Born., and Alf., in accordance with A. B. H., and also Cod. Sin.—“Compare Acts 8:12; 19:8.” (Meyer).—TR.]
Acts 28:25. The external authorities in favor, respectively, of ἡμῶν (text. rec.), and of ὑμῶν, are of equal weight. Lach and Tisch. prefer ὑμῶν, [with whom Alf. concurs]; it is found in the Alex. [A.], Vat. [B.] and Sinaitic manuscripts. Still it may have easily occurred, that, as the address unequivocally assumes a tone of rebuke, copyists may have supposed that they ought to substitute the second for the original first person. [Ἠμῶν is found in G. H., and Vulg. (nostros), and some church fathers, while others of the latter, and the Syr. version exhibit ὑμῶν. According to de Wette, neither external nor internal evidence entitles ὑμῶν to the preference. Lechler’s observation, above, that copyists may have substituted the second person, is in accordance with the view of Born. and Meyer; the latter refers, for an illustration, to Acts 7:51, 52.—TR.]
Acts 28:26. [Instead of εἰπέ, (text. rec.), which is the more usual form of the 2 aor. imperative, the less usual form εἰπόν (for which see WINER; Gram. N. T. § 6.1. k., and § 15, under εἰπεῖν) has been substituted by later critics generally, in accordance with A. B. E. G. H. and Cod. Sin., most minuscules, etc. Comp. the critical editions on Mark 13:4; Luke 10:40.—TR.]
Acts 28:27. [Instead of the readings of text. rec., viz. ἐπιστρέψωσι, and ἰάσωμαι, A. and E. exhibit ἐπιστρέψουσι; A. B. G. H. ἰάσομαι. Cod. Sin. reads ἐπιστρέψωσιν (subj.), but ἰάσομαι (indic.), and this accords with the usual printed text of the Sept. (Isai. 6:10), although the Complut. Polyg., and several manuscripts of the Alex. version, exhbit ἰάσωμαι. Comp. the critical editions on John 12:40.—TR.]
Acts 28:28. τοῦτο τὸ σωτ. is the reading of the three oldest manuscripts, including the Sinaitic Codex, and should, in accordance with the opinion of Lach. and Tisch., be regarded as genuine; for the omission of τοῦτο can be more easily explained than the insertion of it in the text by a later hand. [Τοῦτο is omitted in text. rec., with E. G. H., but is inserted as stated above, by Lach. and Tisch., and also by Born. and Alf., on the authority of A. B. Vulg. (hoc), and Meyer concurs with them. The pronoun is found in the original text of Cod. Sin., but Tischendorf remarks on it: “C improbavit.”—TR.]
Acts 28:29. The whole of Acts 28:29 is spurious, namely: Καἰ ταῦτα αὐτοῦ εἰπόντος, ἀπῆλθον οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι, πολλὴν ἕχοντες ἐν ἑαυτοῖς συζήτησιν. This reading is wanting in A. B. E., as well as in the Sinaitic Codex, and is also omitted by some minuscules and versions. It is found in the same manuscripts, namely G. H., which exhibit the interpolation in Acts 28:16 above. The whole was added by copyists with the intention of appending a fitting conclusion to the scene. [The whole verse is omitted by Lach. and Tisch.; Alford inserts it in brackets. It is not found in A. B. E., as Lechler remarks above, and, although inserted in the common editions of the Vulgate, is not found in Cod. Amiatinus.—De Wette is disposed to receive the verse as genuine; Meyer remarks that the strongest argument for its genuineness, is the occurrence of only very unimportant various readings in those manuscripts which contain it.—TR.]
And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him,B.—PAUL PROCLAIMS THE KINGDOM OF GOD DURING TWO YEARS AT ROME, WITHOUT HINDERANCE, ALTHOUGH HE IS A PRISONER
CHAPTER 28:30, 31
30And [But] Paul21 dwelt [remained, ἔμεινε] two whole years in his own hired house,and received all the came in unto him, 31Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern [teaching concerning] the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him [confidence, without hinderance, ἀκωλύτως].
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
ACTS 28:30, 31. a. As Paul was a prisoner, he could earn no money by manual labor; the rent of his own hired house was, doubtless, paid by the Christians of Rome, although other congregations also, like that at Philippi [Phil. Acts 4], assisted in supporting him.
b. This book was, unquestionably, not left unfinished, as Schleiermacher supposed, in consequence of some hinderance which Luke accidentally encountered; it is equally improbable that the concluding part of the book should have been lost, as Schott conjectured. The remark, on the other hand, which Meyer here makes, corresponds to all the circumstances, and is in accordance with the truth, viz. that the last two verses, as far as the style is concerned, are rounded and sonorous, and constitute a fitting conclusion of the whole narrative. For precisely as at the close of Luke’s Gospel, Acts 24:52, 53, the occupations of the apostles during a certain period, are described in a sentence exhibiting a participial construction, so here, too, the account of the labors of Paul during a still longer period, terminates with two clauses, in which a similar participial construction is introduced. [See INTRODUCTION, § 2.—On the subsequent history of Paul, his supposed journey to Spain, etc., the time of the composition of the three Pastoral Epistles (Tit.; I. and II. Tim.) etc. etc., see, in addition to J. J. van Oosterzee’s Commentary on these Epistles, in a subsequent volume, also CONYB and H.: Life, etc. of St. Paul, Vol. II. p. 450, Acts 27 (written by Conyb.), and p. 551, APPENDIX.—See, especially, among the most recent authorities, WIESINGER’S General Introduction to the Pastoral Epistles, and the special Introductions to each one of the three—in his Commentary, constituting Vol. V. 1 Abth. of the continuation of Olshausen’s Commentary on the New Testament.—TR.]
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
It is true that, as far as the facts are concerned, we painfully feel the want of all positive and direct information with regard to the manner in which the case of Paul was ultimately decided. However, while he exhibited a noble spirit and great fidelity as an apostle, still, he was merely the herald, and not the Lord and King Himself. Jesus Christ reigns as the King—such is the conclusion of this book. While we contemplate the great fact that the kingdom of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ are proclaimed by the apostle of the Gentiles during so long a period, and with no hinderance whatever, in Rome, the central city of the world, the person of Paul himself imperceptibly recedes from our view.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
ACTS 28:30. And Paul dwelt two whole years … and received all that came in unto him.—If Paul was permitted to hire a house for himself, and enjoyed the privilege of remaining in it, we may regard the whole circumstance as one of the favorable results of the full reports which Festus had made of his case, and as a blessing which followed his faithful testimony to the truth, at Cesarea. At the same time, he was subjected to expense, which, however, the voluntary contributions of the Philippians assisted him in bearing, Phil. 4:10–14. (Rieger).—There are no hardships which can justify us in neglecting the duties of our calling; Matth. 11:2; 1 Cor. 7:20. (Starke).—Received all that came in unto him.—What a noble character that servant of Christ possesses, who is made all things to all men [1 Cor. 9:22], who kindly receives all that seek counsel and comfort for their souls, and who opens his house and his heart to all who desire to be saved! It is not well, when it is reported of a pastor, that he is difficult of access. Our Lord Jesus often encountered hypocrites and deceivers; nevertheless, he always sought their spiritual welfare, and his language was: “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” [John 6:37]. (Ap. Past.).
ACTS 28:31. Preaching the kingdom of God, etc.—God opens a door for his word in a wonderful and unexpected manner, Acts 14:27; Col. 4:3. When the church enjoys peace, we should the more diligently proclaim the truth, and prepare for future trials, Acts 9:31. After Christ had sent the Holy Spirit, he caused his Gospel to be made known to the whole world, not, however, with the aid of carnal weapons, but by the preaching of the word, and He has, even to the present time, been its almighty Protector. May He continue to cause His word to be every where proclaimed, “no man forbidding,” unto the salvation of many souls, and unto the glory of His great name! (Starke).—Teaching … with all confidence.—Of this confidence of the apostle at Rome, we have additional evidence in the Epistles to the Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, and to Philemon, which were written in that city; they are all fragrant with the oil of joy, wherewith Jesus had anointed him. (Besser).—No man forbidding him.—It was, in those times, considered a very great mercy, when the Gospel could be preached without hinderance; it was a source of comfort to teachers, and they diligently employed the time during which they could enjoy it. But we, on the contrary, whose liberty has so long been established, have well nigh forgotten how great this mercy is. As we have therefore opportunity, let us labor, and do good! [Gal. 6:10]. (Ap. Past.)—What a noble theme—the progress of the Gospel from Jerusalem to Rome—the writer of the book of THE ACTS has chosen! When will it be carried back to Jerusalem? God employed even his most richly endowed servants in doing His will only in their own sphere. It was given to no one to survey the whole field of labor; that knowledge the Lord reserved unto Himself. O God! Thy kingdom come! (Rieger).—Notwithstanding all these persecutions, the Gospel advanced with such success, that Luke is enabled to conclude his narrative of THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES in these terms, which resemble an “Amen!” appended to all the promises of God. Thus this reference at the close of the book to the “kingdom of God”, most happily corresponds to the beginning, Acts 1:3. (Williger).—In the vast and wealthy capital of that great empire, Paul proclaims the might and glory of the kingdom of God, as a kingdom of the Spirit, whose “fruit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” [Gal. 5:22, 23]. The tidings concerning Christ, the Prince of peace, around whom all things in the kingdom of God, both small and great, revolve, penetrate even into the palace of the emperor (Phil. 1:13). Thus Paul employed the time during which he was a prisoner, in establishing that important congregation at Rome, which was destined to be the mother-church and, indeed, the missionary church of all the congregations which, after this period, were gathered among the Gentiles. (Leonh and Sp.).—Luke does not speak of subsequent events, as it was not his intention to write a biography of St. Paul. He had now exhibited the riches of divine grace, and the power of the Lord Jesus, as revealed in the progress of the Church, from the Mount of Olives to the city of the seven hills; greater things he could not relate, and Theophilus had now read enough in order to close with “Hallelujah.” (Besser).—Let us, then, imitate Paul, and take his noble, adamantine, soul as our pattern, so that, following in his wake, we may safely sail over the stormy ocean of life, and enter the waveless haven of peace, and thus obtain that salvation which God has prepared for those who love him, through the grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with the, Father and the Holy Ghost, in like majesty and glory, blessed forever. (Chrysostom, quoted by Leonh. and Sp.).
ON THE WHOLE SECTION.—Paul, preaching the kingdom of God in Rome: I. A glorious fulfilment of the promise which the Lord had, at the beginning, given to his servant, Acts 9:15; II. A solemn and impressive prediction of the future victories of the kingdom of God on earth.
Paul, at Rome: I. A living monument of divine mercy; II. A shining example of apostolic fidelity; III. A joyful herald of Christ’s reign over the whole world; IV. A messenger, addressing the effete heathenism of the times, and uttering solemn warnings respecting the judgments of God.
Paul’s ministry of two years at Rome, the crown of his apostolic labors: I. In the centre of the heathen world he erects the cross of Christ, before which all heathen temples are to sink into the dust; II. Although subjected to bodily restraint, he provides with true pastoral fidelity and love even for his distant congregations (the Epistles written during this imprisonment); III. While waiting for the call of his Lord, he prepares to seal the work of his life with his blood.
From Jerusalem to Rome! Such was the course of the Gospel, as described in THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES. Its path was marked, I. By the sufferings and ignominy of its heralds; II. By their heroic faith and ardent love; III. By the victories gained through mighty deeds, and divine miracles; IV. By the diffusion of the blessings of grace and salvation, designed for the present and future generations.
Paul, the preacher bound with a chain, or, The word of God is not bound [2 Tim. 2:9]: I. Bound to no one spot on earth; when it was cast out of Jerusalem, the ancient city of God, Paul erected his pulpit in the capital of the Gentile world; II. Restrained by no earthly power; the power of Rome was as little able as the hatred of the Jews, to close the mouth of the apostle; III. Confined to no particular individual; even after Paul had finished his course, and sealed his testimony with his blood, the preaching of the cross continued its victorious course over the world.
Paul, still a prisoner at Rome—to-day, as well as 1800 years ago: although his imprisonment may now, as well as formerly, under the Roman emperor, be mild and not ignominious, still, he continues to be a prisoner under the spiritual ruler in Rome; for, I. Paul, the herald of evangelical liberty, is bound with the chain of human traditions; II. Paul, the preacher of that righteousness which is by faith, is bound by the law of righteousness by outward works; III. Paul, the man of apostolic poverty and humility, is bound by the pomp and display of papal claims to the government of the world.
“No man forbidding him [without hinderance]” —the significant concluding words of the book of the Acts of the Apostles: I. They are words proclaiming the victory gained over ancient Rome—a victory alike over hostile Jews and hostile Gentiles; II. They are words of warning, addressed to modern Rome, warning it against any impious and vain attempt to quench the word of God; III. They are words of admonition, addressed to the Evangelical Church, exhorting it to apply with a grateful spirit the free and unhindered word of God; IV. They are words of promise, intended for the church of the future, directing attention to the time of consummation, when the Gospel will have subdued the world.
The Book of the Acts of the Apostles, not a mere fragment! It is true that we reach the end sooner than we would have desired, for there are many interesting subjects of which it does not speak in detail; at the same time it furnishes us with all that we really need. I. It exhibits the founding of a Church against which the gates of hell cannot prevail; II. It describes the wonderful works of an exalted Saviour, who is with his people alway, even unto the end of the world; III. It is a rich mine, furnishing wholesome doctrine, efficient consolations, and encouraging examples for the church in all ages.
The transition from the history of the Apostles, to the history of the Church: I. It is, undoubtedly, a retrogression from the pentecostal season of the first miracles’ of the Spirit—from the period when faith began to flourish—from the early period of the first love [Rev. 2:4]; II. It is, nevertheless, according to the divinely appointed order, an advance from a patriarchal, narrow, sphere, to the length and breadth of the world—from the joy and animation of a festival, to the labor and toil of common life—and, through the struggle of thousands of years, to a final victory, when, in the church triumphant, the primitive pentecostal congregation will re-appear, glorified, enlarged, and perfected.
The silent disappearance of the apostle Paul at the conclusion of THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES: it directs our attention, I. To the exalted Lord of the Church, who abides, even when His servants disappear; “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.” [Hebr. 13:8]; II. To that happy rest, into which the faithful servants of God may enter, when they have completed the work assigned to them; III. To that labor of faith and of love [1 Thess. 1:3], which those witnesses who were first chosen, have left behind for us; IV. To that great day of eternity, which will bring to light all that still remains dark in the divine guidance of the children of God, and in the history of His kingdom.
[Paul now ceases to preach the Gospel; nevertheless, that Gospel abides; “the word of the Lord endureth for ever.” (1 Pet. 1:25; Isai. 40:8). The permanence of the Gospel: I. Illustrations of this permanence; (a) the ravages of time; (b) the assaults of its enemies; (c) the corruption of its friends—are alike unable to affect it. II. The causes of this permanence of the Gospel; (a) its truth; (b) its correspondence to the wants of men; (c) the divine protection. III. The effect which it should produce on the minds of men; (a) to awaken a salutary alarm in those who reject it; (b) to convince the minds of those who doubt; (c) to strengthen the faith of the humble believer.TR.]
Acts 28:30 [The words ὁ ΙΙαῦλος, of text. rec., with G.H., Syr., etc. are omitted in A.B.E. Vulg., and are dropped by Lach., Tisch., and Alf., as a “supplementary insertion.”—Cod.Sin., which omits ὁ ΙΙαῦλ., originally read ενεμιναν; the letter ε, smaller in size, appears above—α—in ναν. Tisch. says; “ε prima manu suprascriptum videtur.”—C corrected the word to εμινεν.—TR.]