Acts 19:9
We must be conscious, in reading this passage, of something approaching a new point of departure on the part of Paul. He was not the man hitherto to shrink from either the malice of the synagogue or the uproar of the market-hall. But there were reasons why, with so long a stay at Ephesus, the company of the disciples should be "separated, and some foreshadowing be now given, under the continued supervision of Paul, of what should come to be the form of an individual Christian Church. And we have here the nucleus of this. We are reminded of the Church of Christ, as existing in any individual place, that it should be answerable to find -

I. A HOME OF SOME SAFETY FOR DISCIPLES. Such a home should be able to show:

1. Shelter from the "hardened" world; the world that does not believe, and resolutely will not believe; the world that, being thus disposed as to itself, is also manifestly disposed to disturb the belief and peace of those who do believe, seeking to enter in to ravage "the flock" (Acts 20:29). This it was abundantly easy to do in the synagogue by every kind of dishonest quibble and disputatious debate. It should not be by any means so possible within the fold of the Church.

2. Teaching of the truth. The truth should be certain of being obtained here, and the teacher should be competent. He will teach, not by force of authority, but by persuasion of the truth. He will be listened to and esteemed because he shall prove his word, and prove it to be a word of power.

3. Sympathizing companionship. It is needed

(1) for prayer and the exercises of religion;

(2) for daily social life;

(3) for the stimulating of religious purpose and work.


1. Nothing more dishonors the place of the Church of Christ, or disowns all that is most characteristic of his Spirit, than exclusiveness.

2. The door of entrance is to be large enough to admit not only the honest seekers, not only those who already show the signs of penitence, not only those by nature humble and meek, but all who will enter - the worst, the most unpromising. These cannot, indeed, enter into the Church itself of Christ; but even to them welcome may be given to the place of the Church, that "haply they may be born" again therein. If, indeed, they enter and stay to show themselves the disturbers of disciples and the resolutely "hardened," we have here our authority how to proceed. But otherwise let them be free to enter within the walls of Zion. Let them there hear the Word and, if needs be, debate it. Let them be free to hear the prayers and join the songs of disciples; for "much people" for Christ may be amongst them. This is at least one of the ways by which the world is to be gained for Christ. It does not, indeed, exempt the Church from missionary and "aggressive" work - work which probably, in the more settled ecclesiastical state of our own country, has been lamentably overlooked. But it appears that it was the method by which, during "the space of two years, all they which dwelt in Asia heard the Word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks." When the world's turbulent streams dash by that river, full and deep and peaceful, of the city of God, the very contrast will arrest attention and arouse reflection in not a few. - B.

Disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.
The Greek word for "school" had a somewhat interesting history. Originally meaning "leisure," it was applied to leisure as bestowed on study, then, as here, to the place in which study was pursued; lastly, as in our phrase, "the school of Zeno or Epicurus," as a collective term for the followers of a conspicuous teacher. In this case it was probably a lecture room which, as the private property of the owner, was lent or let to the apostle. Of the Tyrannus here mentioned nothing more is known with certainty, but the name is connected with one or two interesting coincidences that are more or less suggestive. Like its Latin equivalent, Rex, it was not uncommon among the class of slaves or freedmen. It is found in the Columbarium of the household of Livia on the Appian Way, and as belonging to one who is described as a Medicus or physician. Both names and professions in this class were very commonly hereditary, and the hypothesis that this Tyrannus was also a physician, and that as such he may have known St. Luke, or possibly may have been among the Jews whom the decree of Claudius (Acts 18:2) had driven from Rome, and so shared the fate of Aquila and Priscilla, fits in with and explains the facts recorded. An unconverted teacher of philosophy or rhetoric was not likely to have lent his class room to a preacher of the new faith.

(Dean Plumptre.)

1. Here is Paul in a school house in which the learning of the day was taught. But Paul makes up his mind they need some religion there, and so he goes into it; and daily for two years he gave lectures on Christianity.

I. IF THE WORD OF GOD WAS APPROPRIATE FOR THE PUBLIC SCHOOL OF EPHESUS, WHY NOT FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS ELSEWHERE? Higher than university, than Legislative hall, than Presidential chair, is the common school of this country, because it provides the orators, the painters, the poets, the legislators, the judges, the presidents; dropping upon a million homes the benediction of light and refinement. So queenly a system must be affianced to the king of books, the Bible. This union has given us all we have of culture and refinement. After you put a building up, it is a poor thing to pull out the cornerstone. Suppose I should go to the architect of this building and say, "You have no right to be here today." "Why," he would reply, "I built it." And people would gather around and say, "If anybody has a right to be here, he has." Now, my friends, the Word of God is the architect, the foundation, the pillars, the capstone of the great common school system, and there shall be no political nor demoniacal power on earth or hell to expel it.

II. YET A DETERMINED EFFORT IS BEING MADE TO EXPEL IT. In support of this it is said —

1. "It does not make any difference. What is the reading of half a dozen verses of a chapter in a school?" I go into an apothecary's store with a prescription. In making it up the chemist takes one liquid, then another, and then a third, and finally he takes out a small phial, and drops into the general admixture one or two drops. I say to him, "Why do you waste time by putting in those drops?" "Oh," he says, "this is the most important part of the prescription. This changes the entire nature of the thing. Without it, it would be death; with it, it will be cure and life." Now you come up to the common school admixture, and you say: "There is a quart of arithmetic, and there are two gills of geography, and a pint of grammar, and what is just one or two drops of Scriptural reading going to do?" I say it is the most important part of the prescription. It changes the whole nature of everything. Untold blessings depend on the Bible staying where it is. Untold disorder follow upon its being thrust out.

2. The common school was intended only to give secular education. I reply that it is to develop our children so that they shall be prepared for the duties of life. Suppose a man should go to a gymnasium, and say to the manager, "I wish you would make that little finger more agile, and strong, and healthy; and develop the toe of the right foot." Why, he would say, "You must be insane. If I take you in my institution, I purpose to develop your entire physical organism, and then of course your hand and foot will get the benefit of it. But I can't undertake to treat just the foot and hand." Now you come up to the common school, and you say, "Give us secular education, but don't give us religious education." In other words, touch only the tip end of this complex nature; don't get up into the region of the soul: give the children reading, writing, and arithmetic. Ah, we cannot educate our children in this infinitesimal manner. Do you think a man is prepared for the duties of life merely because because he can cipher, or is a good penman? The biggest thief in New York understands arithmetic, and can wield a very skilful pen when it is to put somebody else's name at the foot of a money draft. What this country wants is the pressure of a high moral obligation on her young people, and that you can get from no book except the Bible. The rights of our Jewish and Roman Catholic fellow citizens will be invaded. Well, look at that little urchin! Before him stands the teacher, inflicting him with these oppressive words, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God"; "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." Alas! for the defenceless little Jewish and Roman Catholic children, crushed under the Beatitudes. Besides this, the Bible is the most unsectarian Book in the world. Wyckliffe, and Coverdale, and Matthew translated the Bible in the Roman Catholic Church; and our translation is substantially the same thing. The Bible in the schools does not propose to proselyte. The Bible taught in a Presbyterian Church may get a Presbyterian twist, or taught in a Roman Catholic Church may get a Roman Catholic twist; but the Bible as read in our schools without note or comment, will get no such twist. And then neither Romanists nor Jews have any objection to the Bible as such. Who then want it expelled chiefly? Well, the men who are loose in religious notions, or loose in morals, or base politicians, and for good reasons.

(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)

(children's sermon): — Do you not pity the poor children who had to go to the school of one Tyrannus? But whenever a schoolmaster is found to be tyrannous nowadays, people write to the newspapers, and Tyrannus is forced to become a little less tyrannous, and the children have a better time of it. You have all to go to some school, but there are some things you can learn not set down in bill, but are worth a very great deal. There, e.g., is —

I. PUNCTUALITY. Never be late for school or for anything. God is very punctual. If the sun was late all the clocks would be wrong, and people would be greatly put about; and when you are late mother is put about, and teacher, and yourself; and when attendance marks are read, you wish you had been punctual. Learn the habit of being punctual in all things. If you make but a little mistake in multiplication, that mistake goes on multiplying itself. An unpunctual person puts many other people wrong.

II. HONOUR. Honour and honesty come from the same word. Now I daresay you would not steal anything with your hands. But did you never at school look over another and copy his answer? That was not honourable — it was dishonest. Learn to be honourable at school. Your teacher is trusting you. Never do mean things. Even when the teacher does not see you, God does. It is good to be clever, but it is better still to be good.

III. COURAGE. Is not it strange that anyone should need courage to say what is true? You would think it needed more courage to say what was wrong, for he would be very bold who would say that two and two made five. He would not need to be very bold, who said that two and two made four. Yes; but that only shows how far we have all got wrong through sin, that most people are afraid to say what is right. Say boldly when a thing is wrong, that it is wrong, and when it is right, that it is right, and stand by it.

IV. KINDNESS. Think of others; think of teacher; sometimes he is worried and troubled, or sometimes she has a headache. And try to have a kind way with the other children. Learn kindness in the school, and when you come into the world you will find this to be one of the best lessons you ever learnt in your life, for it is in lovingkindness the spirit of Jesus grows up.

(J. R. Howatt.)

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