Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger…
It would be natural to expect that children who grew up together under the same examples and instruction should appear in the same religious character in after life. But in this case the result was otherwise. One became a minister, the other a libertine. Manaen was a man eminent for faith and virtue, learning and ability, or he would not so soon have become a prophet in this celebrated Church. Herod was vicious and debauched in private life; haughty, cruel, and tyrannical in his government, and was the murderer of the Baptist. Herod made no virtuous improvement of his early advantages; Manaen early became religious and escaped the corruptions of the world. Men's lives are not always answerable to the advantages they enjoy. The same gospel which is a savour of life and a rock of salvation to some, is a savour of death and a rock of offence unto others. The difference between these two men is observed in other families. How is this?
I. THERE IS A GREAT DIVERSITY IN NATURAL TEMPER.
1. There is in all an inclination to evil, but in a different degree.
2. It is the wisdom of parents to watch the various tempers and propensities of their children.
II. DIFFERENT WORLDLY PROSPECTS OFTEN MAKE A GREAT DIFFERENCE IN CHARACTER AND CONDUCT.
1. Herod was of royal descent, and had early prospects of a throne. Manaen had no such object, and was more at liberty to admit the sober concerns of religion.
2. Different passions and capacities put young men on different pursuits. Some through natural indolence and diffidence fall so low in their designs that they never rise. Others are animated by an ambition that proves a snare. Others, again, set out with a governing aim to please God.
III. THE SOVEREIGN GRACE OF GOD MUST BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT. Men are dependent on the Holy Spirit. He strives with them. Some resist, others yield.
1. The particular care which was taken in apostolic times to secure men of learning and ability as public teachers. The unlettered men whom Christ called were trained by the Master Himself. Paul was brought up at the feet of Gamaliel. Timothy from a child had known the Scriptures; Apollos was mighty in them. Luke, Stephen, and others appear to have had superior literary abilities. The apostles cautioned ministers to lay hands suddenly on no man who had not had time to furnish his mind.
2. The duty of parents to pay particular attention to the different dispositions of their children. Some must be ruled with great rigour, others with more lenity.
3. The young may here see that no worldly connections, temptations, etc., will excuse them in the neglect of religion.
4. The young are here cautioned not to abuse the grace of God.
5. Let the young be rational and discreet in forming their worldly prospects.
(J. Lathrop, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.