Acts 21 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)

Acts 21
Pulpit Commentary
And it came to pass, that after we were gotten from them, and had launched, we came with a straight course unto Coos, and the day following unto Rhodes, and from thence unto Patara:
Verse 1. - When it came to pass float we were parted from them, and had set sail for it came to pass, that after we were gotten from them, and had launched, A.V.; Cos for Coos, A.V. and T.R.; next day for day following, A.V. Parted from them (ἀποσπασθέντας). "Non sine desiderio magno" (Bengel). "He shows the violence of the parting by saying, ' Having torn ourselves away '" (Chrysostom). The word is properly applied to those who have been unwillingly torn away from their friends (Schleusner and Kuinoel); "denotes the painful separation wrung from them by necessity" (Meyer) In Acts 20:30 it was used in the active voice of false teachers "drawing away" the disciples, i.e. Christians, after them. In 2 Macc. 12:10 it means simply" withdrawn," and so perhaps also in Luke 22:41, though Meyer thinks that St. Luke chose the unusual word to denote the urgent emotion by which our Lord was as it were compelled to leave the companionship of the apostles, and be alone. Σπᾶν (whence spasm) and its derivatives, of which Luke uses four - two of which are peculiar to him - are much employed by medical writers, as Hippocrates, Galen, Antaeus, etc. (Hobart, on Luke 22.). Had set sail (ἀναχθῆναι ἡμᾶς). The word means" to go up to the sea from the land," as Luke 8:22; Acts 13:13; Acts 16:11; Acts 27:12; just as, on the contrary, κατάγειν and κατάγεσθαι αρε υσεδ of coming down to land from the sea (see ver. 3 in the T.R., and Acts 27:3; Acts 28:12). The same conception of putting out to sea being a going up, led to the phrase μετέωρος (high up) being applied to ships out at sea. From μετέωρος comes, of course, our word "meteor." Cos, or Coos, for it is written both ways, now called by the Turks Stanko (ἐς τὰν Κῶ), a beautiful island, nearly opposite the Gulf of Halicarnassus, and separated from Cnidus by a narrow strait, about six hours' sail from Miletus. There is a city of the same name on its eastern coast. It was one of the six Dorian colonies which formed the confederation called the Dorian Hexapolis. It was famous for its wine and its textile fabrics (Howson, and Lewin, and 'Dict. of Geog.'). Rhodes (Ρόδος); perhaps the "Isle of Roses;" the well-known mountainous island in the AEgean Sea, which lies nine or ten miles from the coast of Carts. Its inhabitants were Dorians, and it was one of the places which claimed the honor of being the birthplace of Homer. The towns are all situated on the seacoast, "Rhodes was the last Christian city to make a stand against the Saracens" (Howson). Patara ([τὰ] Πάταρα). A flourishing commercial city on the south-west coast of Lycia, with a good harbor. It was the port of Xauthus, the capital of Lycia. The name Patera is still attached to some extensive ruins on the seashore not far from the river Xanthus.
And finding a ship sailing over unto Phenicia, we went aboard, and set forth.
Verse 2. - Having found a ship crossing for finding a ship sailing, A.V.; Phoenieia for Phenicia, A.V.; set sail for set forth, A.V. Having found a ship. The ship in which St. Paul and his companions had hitherto sailed was probably a coasting-vessel, intending to continue its course all along the south coast of Asia Minor. But at Patara they found a ship on the point of sailing across the open sea direct to Tyre, by which the voyage would be shortened many days. They accordingly immediately took their passage by it, and put out to sea (ἀνήχθημεν, ver. 1, note). A glance at the map will show what a great corner was thus cut off. A straight line from Patara to Tyro leaves Cyprus just on the left.
Now when we had discovered Cyprus, we left it on the left hand, and sailed into Syria, and landed at Tyre: for there the ship was to unlade her burden.
Verse 3. - And for when, A.V.; come in sight of for discovered, A.V.; leaving it... we sailed for we left it... and sailed, A.V.; unto for into, A.V. Had come in sight of; literally, had been shown Cyprus; had had Cyprus made visible to us; i.e. had sighted Cyprus. It is a nautical expression. Meyer compares the phrase πεπίστευμαι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον for the grammatical construction. The verb ἀναφαίνω is peculiar to St. Luke, occur-tug elsewhere in the New Testament only in Luke 19:11. It is, however, used repeatedly in the LXX. of Job. Landed; κατήχθημεν, T.R., just the opposite to the ἀνήθημεν of ver. 2; but the R.T. has κατήλθομεν, with the same meaning, "we came to shore." At Tyre, which they may have reached in about forty-eight hours from Patara with a fair wind (Howson). Tyre at this time was still a city of some commercial importance, with two harbors, one north and one south of the causeway which connected the island with the mainland (see Acts 12:20). Howson thinks the ship in which St. Paul sailed may have brought wheat from the Black Sea, and taken up Phoenician wares in exchange. The sight of Cyprus as he sailed by must have brought many and very various memories to the apostle's mind, of Barnabas, of Sergius Paulus, of Elymas, and many others.
And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.
Verse 4. - Having found the disciples for finding disciples, A.V. and T.R.; and these for who, A.V.; set foot in for go up to, A.V. and T.R. Having found the disciples, If the R.T. is right, the meaning is that they had sought out the Christians, apparently not a large body, scattered in the city, and perhaps with some difficulty found them and their place of meeting. This would look as if they were not Jews, as the synagogue was always known. He should not set foot in Jerusalem. The R.T. reads ἐπιβαίνειν for ἀναβαίνειν. It is true that, in the LXX. of Deuteronomy 1:36, Τὴν γῆν ἐφ η}ν ἐπέβη means "The land that he hath trodden upon;" and that in Joshua 1:3 again, ποδῶν ὑμῶν means "Every place on which you shall tread with the sole of your feet;" but the phrase ἐπιβαίνειν εἰς Ιερουσαλήμ must surely mean simply "to go to Jerusalem." Through the Spirit. The Holy Spirit revealed to them, as he did to many ethers (ver. 11 and Acts 20:23), that bonds and affliction awaited St. Paul at Jerusalem. The inference that he should not go to Jerusalem was their own.
And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed.
Verse 5. - It came to pass that we had accomplished for we had accomplished, A.V.; the days for those days, A.V.; on our journey for our way, A.V.; they all, with wives and children, brought us on our way for they all brought us on our way, with wires and children, A.V.; kneeling down on the beach we prayed for we kneeled down on the shore and prayed., A.V. and T.R. Accomplished the days. There is no other example of this use of the word ἐξαρτίζειν, which always means "to fit out, to equip thoroughly," as e.g. Josephus, 'Ant. Jud.,' 3. 2:2, where he speaks of soldiers τοῖς ἅπασι καλῶς ἐξηρτισμένους well equipped in all respects; and in the only other passage in the New Testament where it occurs, 2 Timothy 3:17, where it is rendered "thoroughly furnished," or "furnished completely." R.V. Hence some would render the passage here "when we had refitted (the ship) during these days." But this is a very harsh construction, and it is better, with the glossaries, lexicons, the Vulgate, and most commentators, to take the word here in the unusual sense of "to complete," applied to time. The days are the seven days mentioned in ver. 4, which were probably determined by the time it took to unlade the ship and get the new cargo on board.
And when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship; and they returned home again.
Verse 6. - And bade each other farewell; and we went on board the ship, but, etc., for and when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship; and, etc., A.V. and T.R. The ἀπασπάζεσθαι of the R.T. occurs nowhere else, except in Himerius in the fourth century after Christ. Went on board; ἐπέβημες εἰς, the same phrase as ἐπιβαίνειν εἰς Ἱερουσαλήμ in ver. 5.
And when we had finished our course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day.
Verse 7. - The voyage for our course, A.V.; arrived at for came to, A.V.; we saluted for saluted, A.V. When we had finished; διανύσαντες, only found here in the New Testament, but not uncommon in classical Greek for finishing a voyage, or a journey, or a race-course (Euripides, Hesiod, Xenophon, etc.). St. Luke seems to indicate by the phrase that the sea-voyage ended here. Arrived at; κατηντήσαμεν, a favorite word of St. Luke's for arriving at a place (Acts 16:1; Acts 18:19, 24; Acts 20:15; Acts 25:13; Acts 27:12, etc.), Ptolemais. The ancient Accho of Judges 1:31, then a Canaanite city in the tribe of Asher, but not subsequently mentioned in the Old Testament. In 1 Macc. 5:15, 22 and elsewhere it is called, as here, Ptolemais, having received the name from one of the Ptolemies, probably either Sorer or Lagi; but in the Middle Ages it appears as St. Jean d'Acre, and is now commonly called Acre. It lies on the north side of the spacious bay of Carmel, but is not in all weathers very safe harborage. It is an easy day's sail, under thirty miles, from Tyre. When St. Paul was there it had recently been made a Roman colony by the Emperor Claudius, and was important as a commercial city. Saluted the brethren. The Christians there. We have no account of the evangelization of Ptolemais. Perhaps the gospel was first preached there to the Jewish colony by those who traveled "as far as Phoenico," after "the persecution that arose about Stephen" (Acts 11:19); for Ptolemais was reckoned as belonging to Phenicia (Ptol., 5:15; Strabo, 16. p. 758; Pliny, 'Nat. Hist.,' 5:17; all quoted by Meyer).
And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.
Verse 8. - On the morrow for the next day A.V.; we for we that were of Paul's company, A.V. and T.R.; entering we for we entered... and, A.V.; who for which, A.V. Unto Caesarea. They seem to have come from Ptolemais to Caesarea by land, a two days' journey; the word. ἐξελθόντες, as Howson justly remarks, pointing to a land-journey. Philip the evangelist. When last we heard of him (Acts 8:40) he had just reached Caesarea; apparently he had been working there as an evangelist ever since. His old home at Jerusalem (Acts 6:5) had been broken up by the persecution (Acts 8:5), and thus the deacon had become an evangelist (Acts 8:12). Evangelists are mentioned by St. Paul(Ephesians 4:11) as one of the higher orders of the Christian ministry; and Timothy is bid "do the work of an evangelist" (2 Timothy 4:5). In later times the term was restricted to the four writers of the Gospels. Philip's old association with Stephen in the diaconate must have been keenly remembered by St. Paul. We abode with him. This seems to imply that Philip was well to do, and had a good house.
And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.
Verse 9. - Now this man for and the same man, A.V. Virgins. This certainly conveys the impression that they had dedicated their lives to the service of God (1 Corinthians 7:34-38). Which did prophesy. The question arises - Did they exercise their gift of prophecy in the Church or in private? The passage 1 Corinthians 11:5 seems to indicate that in the Church of Corinth women did pray and prophesy in the congregation, while, on the other hand, 1 Corinthians 14:34, 35 seems peremptorily to forbid women to speak or teach in Church, as does 1 Timothy 2:11, 12. How, then, is this apparent contradiction to be reconciled? It must be either by supposing

(1) that the gift of prophecy spoken of here and in 1 Corinthians 11:5 was exercised in private only; or

(2) that the prohibition did not apply to the extraordinary operation of the Holy Spirit speaking by prophet or prophetesses as the case might be. The latter seems the most probable (see Acts 13:1, note). On the office of prophets in the early Church, see Acts 11:27; Acts 13:1; Acts 15:32; Acts 19:6; Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 12:10, 28, 29; 1 Corinthians 13:2, 8; 1 Corinthians 14:6, 29, etc.; Ephesians 3:5; Ephesians 4:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:20 (see Alford, on Acts 11:27). As regards these daughters of Philip, there are conflicting statements in early Church writers. Eusebius ('Eccl. Hist.,' 3:30) quotes Clement of Alexandria as saying that both Peter and Philip among the apostles were married and had children, and that Philip moreover gave his daughters in marriage to husbands. But in the next chapter

(3) he quotes Polycrates, Bishop of Ephesus at the end of the second century, as saying that Philip the apostle and his two daughters, who had grown old in their virginity, were buried at Hierapolis; and that another daughter of his, "who had her conversation in the Holy Spirit," was buried at Ephesus. Eusebius himself thinks that these daughters of Philip the evangelist were meant. If they were, it does not necessarily follow that those who, according to Clemens Alexandrinus, were married were of the four mentioned here. They might be sisters. Polycrates seems to speak of three sisters who lived a religious life (in the technical sense); the fourth may have died young. But it is quite possible that Clemens may really be speaking of Philip the apostle, and Polycrates also; the more so as Philip the apostle, according to the tradition recorded by Nicephorns, suffered martyrdom at Hierapolis. However, the confusion between the two Philips is quite certain in the Menaeum (or Calendar) of the Greek Church, where we read, "On the 4th of September is the commemoration of Saint Hermione, one of the four daughters of the Apostle Philip, who baptized the eunuch of Candace. She and her sister Eutychis came into Asia after the death of the Apostle John. She was buried at Ephesus." A fragment of Caius (in Eusebius, 'Eccl. Hist.,' 3:31) increases the confusion by speaking of" the four daughters of Philip, prophetesses, who were buried in Hierapolis" (see Routh's 'Reliq. Sac.,' vol. 1. pp. 378-380).
And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus.
Verse 10. - Many days (ἡμέρας πλείους). In Acts 13:31 ἐπὶ ἡμέρας πλείους is applied to the forty days between the Resurrection and the Ascension. In Acts 18:20 πλείονα χρόνον is a longer time - longer, viz. than he had intended. In Acts 25:6 ἡμέρας πλείους η} δέκα is "more than ten days." Here, therefore, it is too strong an expression to say "many days." According to Lewin's calculation, he was only five days at Caesarea - from May 10 to May 15. Howson's "some days," which is the rendering also in the margin of the R.T., is much better than "many." Renan has "quelques jours." Agabus (see Acts 11:28).
And when he was come unto us, he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.
Verse 11. - Coming to for when he was come unto, A.V.; and taking for he took, A.V.; he bound for and bound, A.V.; feet and hands for hands and feet, A.V. and T.R. Bound his own feet, etc. The R.T. has ἑαυτοῦ which leaves no doubt that Agabus bound his own hands and feet. The reading of the T.R., αὐτοῦ, would rather indicate Paul's hands and feet, as Grotius, Hammond, and others take it, though less conformably to the context. (For similar symbolical actions of the old prophets, see Isaiah 20:2, 3; Jeremiah 13:1-7; 1 Kings 22:11; Ezekiel 4:1-6; Ezekiel 12:3-7; Ezekiel 24:16-24, etc.) Shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. Nearly the same words as those in which our Lord foretold his own betrayal (Matthew 20:19; Mark 10:33; Luke 18:32).
And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.
Verse 12. - They of that place; οἱ ἐντόπιοι, a word found only here in the New Testament, and not found in the LXX. or the Apocrypha, but good classical Greek (for the sentiment, see ver. 4).
Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.
Verse 13. - What do ye, weeping and breaking my heart? for what mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? A.V. (the same sense only a more modern idiom). Breaking. Συνθρύπτοντες occurs only here in the New Testament, or indeed in any Greek writer, though the simple form, θρύπτω, is common in medical writers, and ἀποθρύπτω occurs in Plato. It has the force of the Latin frangere animum, to crush and weaken the spirit. I am ready. Paul's answer reminds us of Peter's saying to our Lord, "Lord, I am ready to go with thee both into prison, and to death" (Luke 22:33). But Peter's resolve was made in his own strength, Paul's in the strength of the Holy Ghost; and so the one was broken, and the other was kept.
And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.
Verse 14. - The will of the Lord, etc. A beautiful application of the petition in the Lord's prayer, "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (comp. Luke 22:42).
And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem.
Verse 15. - These for those, A.V.; baggage for carriages, A.V. We took up, etc. Απισκευασάμενοι, is the reading of the R.T., as of Mill, Bengel, Griesbach, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer, Alford, etc. It occurs only here in the New Testament, but is common in classical Greek, in the sense of "fitting out for a journey," "lading a ship" or "beasts of burden" with baggage, "collecting baggage," and the like. The ἀποσκευάζεσθαι of the A.V. means" to unload," "to get rid of baggage," and thence generally "to remove," which gives no good sense here.
There went with us also certain of the disciples of Caesarea, and brought with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple, with whom we should lodge.
Verse 16. - And there went for there went, A.V.; from for of, A.V.; bringing for and brought, A.V.; early for old, A.V. Mnason of Cyprus; only mentioned here. He may very probably be one of those Cypriots mentioned in Acts 11:19, 20, and so have been a disciple before the death of Stephen, and hence properly called an old or early disciple. If he had been one of St. Paul's converts in the visit to Cyprus recorded in Acts 13, St. Paul would have needed no introduction to him. The construction of the sentence is involved, and the exact meaning consequently obscure. Kuincel, Meyer, Howson (in 'Dict. of Bible'), and many more, translate it "conducting us to Mnason," etc., which seems the better translation; not, however, so as to make ἄγειν Μνάσωνι equivalent to ἄγειν πρὸς Μνάσωνα, which Greek usage will not admit of, but explaining the dative by attraction of the relative ω΅ι, which is governed by παρὰ. If it had not been for the intervening παρ ω΅ι ξενισθῶμεν, the sentence would have run ἄγοντες πρὸς τὸν Μνάσωνα, κ.τ.λ. If Mnason, who, consistently with Acts 11:19, had a house at Jerusalem, had been at Caesarea at this time, it would be quite unmeaning that disciples from Caesarea should bring Mnason with them. The sentence would rather have run "among whom was Mnason," etc. But if he was at Jerusalem, it was quite proper that any Christians of Caesarea who knew him should conduct Paul to his house, and introduce him and his party to him. Mnason, like Philip (ver. 6, note), was evidently a man of substance, Should lodge; should be hospitably entertained (Hebrews 13:2; 1 Peter 4:9; see Acts 10:6, 18).
And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.
And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.
Verse 18. - Went in with us unto James. Nothing can mark more distinctly the position of James as Bishop of Jerusalem than this visit of Paul to him, and the finding him surrounded with all the elders of Jerusalem. It is a most distinct evidence of the apostolic origin of the episcopal office.
And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.
Verse 19. - Rehearsed one by one for declared particularly, A.V.; the things which for what things, A.V. The things which God had wrought, etc. (comp. Acts 15:12). It was a noble account to render. Since he had saluted the Church (Acts 18:22), when he had probably seen James last, he had labored at Antioch, in Galatia and Phrygia, and had wrought a mighty revolution in Asia. He had consolidated his work in Macedonia and Achaia; he had held his visitation of Gentile eiders in Miletus; he had visited Tyre, Ptolemais, and Caesarea, great Gentile cities, and had seen everywhere astonishing tokens of the grace of God which was with him. And now he pours his tale into the ears of the chief pastor of the mother Church of Jerusalem, and those of the Jewish elders. A tale of wonder indeed!
And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:
Verse 20. - They, when they heard it for when they heard it, they, A.V.; God for the Lord, A.V. and T.R.; they said for said, A.V.; there are among the Jews of them which have believed for of Jews there are which believe, A.V. and T.R.; for the Law for of the Law, A.V. They... glorified God. There is not the slightest symptom on the part of James and the elders of unfriendliness towards St. Paul, or jealousy or opposition to his work among the Gentiles (comp. Galatians 2:7-9). The appellation brother is another indication of friendly feeling. Thousands (Greek μυριάδες, tens of thousands). These need not be deemed to be all Jerusalem Jews; if applied to the Church at Jerusalem only, such a word would be probably a gross exaggeration; but there were great numbers of Jews of the dispersion assembled at Jerusalem for Pentecost - probably all the Christian Jews of Judaea, and many from Syria, Galatia, Pontus, and the various countries enumerated in Acts 2:9-11. So that there might be several myriads of converted Jews altogether. All zealous for the Law. This is a remarkable testimony to the unanimity of the Christian Jews in their attachment to the Law of Moses, and throws light upon the Epistle to the Galatians and many other passages in St. Paul's Epistles. It explains the great difficulty experienced in the early Church in dealing with converts from Judaism. Zealous (ζηλωταὶ). So the fierce sect of Zealots were called at the time of the Jewish wars (see Josephus, ' Bell. Jud.,' 4. 6:1, and elsewhere).
And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.
Verse 21. - Have been for are, A.V.; concerning for of, A.V.; telling them not for saying that they ought not, A.V. Have been informed (κατηχήθησαν); see Acts 18:25; Luke 1:4; Romans 2:18, etc. The verb properly means to instruct by word of mouth, whence our "catechism." The customs (τοῖς ἔθεσι); see Acts 6:14, both for the phrase and the sentiment, and Acts 15:1, note; Acts 26:3; 28:17. Ἔθος is a favorite word of St. Luke's, occurring ten times in his Gospel and in the Acts, and only twice in the New Testament elsewhere (John 19:40; Hebrews 10:25; see Hobart, on Luke 2:27).
What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come.
Verse 22. - The R.T. omits the clause in the T.R. rendered the multitude must needs come together in the A.V.; they will certainly hear for they will hear, A.V. and T.R. The πάντως, which in the A.V. belongs to the omitted clause, is rendered "certainly" in the R.T.
Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them;
Verse 23. - Which have a vow; meaning emphatically the vow of a Nazarite.
Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.
Verse 24. - These for them, A.V.; for them for with them, A.V.; shall know for may know, A.V.; there is no truth in the things, etc., for those things... are nothing, A.V.; hare been for were, A.V.; keeping for and keepest, A.V. As regards the transaction recommended by James, Kypke (quoted by Meyer) says, "It was a received thing among the Jews, and was reckoned an act of eminent piety, for a rich man to undertake to bear, on behalf of poor Nazarites, the expense of those sacrifices which they had to offer when they shaved their heads at the expiration of their vow." Josephus seems to allude to the custom, and to speak of King Agrippa as acting in accordance with it, when he says of him that he ordered great numbers of Nazarites to be shaved ('Ant. Jud.,' 19. 6:1). The sacrifices were costly, consisting of" three beasts, one for a burnt offering, another for a sin offering, and a third for a peace offering" (Lightfoot, vol. 9. p. 307). Alexander Jannaeus is said to have contributed nine hundred victims for three hundred Nazarites ('Dict. of Bible,' under "Nazarite;" comp. 1 Macc. 3:49). Purify thyself; ἁγνίσθητι, the word used in the LXX. of Numbers 6:2, 3, 8 (with its compound ἁφαγνίσασθαι, and co-derivatives ἁγνεία and ἅγιος) for the corresponding Hebrew הַזִּיד, to take the Nazarite vow. St. Paul, therefore, became a Nazarite of days for seven days, intending at the end of the time to offer the prescribed sacrifices for himself and his four companions (see, however, note on ver. 26, at the end). Be at charges for them (δαπάνησον ἐπ αὐτοῖς). Make the necessary expenditure on their account, that they may shave their heads, which they could not do till the prescribed sacrifices were offered.
As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.
Verse 25. - But as for as, A.V.; have believed for believe, A.V.; wrote giving judgment for have written and concluded, A.V.; the R.T. omits the clause rendered that they observe no such thing, save only, in the A.V.; should keep for keep, A.V.; sacrificed for offered, A.V.; what is strangled for strangled, A.V. As touching the Gentiles, etc. What follows is, of course, a quotation from "the decrees that had been ordained of the apostles and elders that were at Jerusalem" (Acts 16:4), of which the text is given in Acts 15:19, 20, 28. Observe the use of the identical words - κρίνω, in Acts 15:19; Acts 16:4; and in this verse; and of ἐπιστέλλω, in this verse and in Acts 15:20, with its cognate διεστειλάμεθα and ἀπεστάλκαμεν, Acts 15:24, 27. This reference on the part of James to the decrees was very important as a confirmation of "the gospel which Paul preached among the Gentiles" (Galatians 2:2). It also marks distinctly the upright and honorable conduct of James, and the concord of the apostles.
Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.
Verse 26. - Went for entered, A.V.; declaring the fulfillment for to signify the accomplishment, A.V.; the offering was for that an offering should be, A.V. Paul took the men. St. Paul's acquiescence in James's advice is an instance of what he says of himself (1 Corinthians 9:20), and is in accordance with his conduct in circumcising Timothy (Acts 16:3). But that he did not attach any intrinsic importance even to circumcision, and much less to the minor Jewish ceremonies, is clear from such passages as Romans 2:28, 29; 1 Corinthians 7:19; Galatians 5:6; Galatians 6:15; Philippians 3:3, etc. Purifying himself with them, etc. (ἁγνισθεὶς); see note on ver. 24. James's advice had been Τούτους παραλαβὼν ἁγνίσθητι σὺν αὐτοῖς: in obedience to that advice St. Paul now Παραλαβὼν τοὺςἄνδρας σὺν αὐτοῖς ἁγνισθεὶς εἰσήει εἰς τὸ ἱερόν. What was the particular form by which a person who wished to associate himself with others under a Nazaritic vow (note on ver. 24) did so is not known; nor how long before the expiration of the vow such association must be made. But from the mention of "seven days" in ver. 27 (which is the number named in Numbers 6:9, in case of an accidental uncleanness), it seems highly probable that "seven days" was the term during which a person must have conformed to the Nazaritic vow to entitle him to "be at charges," as well, perhaps, as the time during which Nazarites, at the end of their vow, had to undergo special purification. Declaring the fulfillment, etc. The vow of the four men had been for at least thirty days (the minimum period of such vow); but whatever length of time it had been for, such time would have expired by the end of the seven days, and probably long before. We know not how long they might have been waiting for some one to "be at charges" for them, and provide the sacrifices, without which they could not shave their heads and accomplish their vow. But it is obvious that some notice must be given to the priests in the temple of the day when one or more Nazarites would present themselves at "the door of the tabernacle of the congregation," to offer the prescribed offerings. And this accordingly Paul and the four did. Διαγγέλλων means "notifying," or "declaring," to the priests (Exodus 9:16 [LXX., answering to the Hebrew סַפֵּר]; Romans 9:27; Joshua 6:9, LXX. [Joshua 6:10, A.V., "bid"]). Until the offering was offered, etc. This is interpreted in two ways. Meyer makes "until" depend upon "the fulfillment of the days," so as to define that fulfillment as not taking place till the offering was offered. Wieseler makes "until" depend upon "he entered into the temple," with the idea supplied, "and remained there," or "came there daily;" supposing that it was the custom for Nazarites to finish up their time of separation by passing the last seven days, or at least being present daily, in "the court of the women, where was the apartment appropriated to the Nazarites" (Lewin, it. p. 142). If, however, with Howson, Lewin and others, we understand the word ἀγνίζεσθαι, in vers. 24 and 20, not generally of taking the Nazarite vow, but of certain special purifications at the close of a Nazaritic vow, which lasted seven days immediately before the offerings were made and the head shaven, then a very easy and natural rendering of the words follows: "Notifying their intention of now completing the seven days of their purification, until the offering for each of them was offered." Alford, in loc., justifies by examples the aorist indicative προσηνέχθη, instead of the subjunctive, which is more usual. Lewin thinks that St. Paul had taken a Nazaritic vow after his escape from death at Ephesus, or at Corinth; but there is no evidence of this, and it is hardly consistent with James's advice. Renan thinks it doubtful whether or no Paul took the Nazaritic vow at all, but inclines to this as the best interpretation ('St. Paul,' p. 518, note).
And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him,
Verse 27. - Completed for ended, A.V.; from for which were of, A.V.; multitude for people, A.V. The seven days; showing clearly that some customary term of preparation for the offerings and shaving of the head is meant. This shows also that "the days" in the preceding verse meant the "seven days" of preparation rather than "the days" of the whole Nazaritic vow. The Jews from Asia; come up for Pentecost. How hostile the Asiatic Jews were appears from Acts 19:9. When they saw him in the temple, whither he had come to complete the seven days of preparation. It was apparently the fifth day (see Acts 24:11, note). How often the best meant attempts at conciliation fail through the uncharitable suspicions of a man's opponents! The temple. It must be remembered throughout that it is τὸ ἱερόν that is spoken of, which embraces the temple courts, not the ναός, or house (see Acts 3:2, note). Stirred up. Συγχέω ισ found only here in the New Testament. Properly "to confuse," like the kindred συγχύνω (Acts 2:6; Acts 19:32; Acts 21:31); and σύγχυσις, confusion (Acts 19:29); hence "to stir up." It is of frequent use in medical writers (Hobart, 79.).
Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.
Verse 28. - Moreover he for further brought, A.V.; defiled for polluted, A.V. (For the accusation, comp. on. 6:13, and above, ver. 21.) Brought Greeks also, etc. No uncircumcised person might go beyond the court of the Gentiles, which was not in the ἅγιον. The ἱερόν, which is often used in a wider sense of the whole area, is here restricted to the ἅγιον (see Acts 3:1, note). But the accusation was utterly false, the offspring of their own fanatical suspicions. Defiled (κεκοίνωκε); literally, made common (see Acts 10:15; Acts 11:9).
(For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)
Verse 29. - Before seen for seen before, A.V.; the Ephesian for an Ephesian, A.V. Trophimus (see Acts 20:4). Having seen him with St. Paul in the city, they concluded that he had come with him into the temple.
And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut.
Verse 30. - Laid hold on for took, A.V.; dragged for drew, A.V.; straightway for forth with, A.V. The doors wore shut. The doors of the gates which separated the ἅγιον, or as Luke here styles it the ἱερόν, from the court of the Gentiles. They turned Paul out of the ἱερόν, intending to kill him, and shut the doors, lest, in the confusion and the swaying to and fro of the crowd, the precincts of the temple should chance to be defiled with blood, or even with the presence of any who were unclean (see the passages from Josephus, quoted by Lewin, vol. it. p. 142, note 11).
And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar.
Verse 31. - Were seeking for went about, A.V.; up to for unto, A.V.; confusion for an uproar, A.V. Tidings; φάσις, only here in the New Testament. The legal use of the word in Greek is an "information" against any one laid before a magistrate. Here it is the information conveyed to the tribune by the sentinels on guard (Lange; see Hist. of Susanna 55). Came up; viz. to the castle of Antonia, to which steps led up from the temple area on the north-west side (see vers. 32 and 35). The chief captain; the chiliarch, or tribune; literally, the commander of a thousand men (see John 18:12). The band (τῆς σπείρης); the cohort which formed the Roman garrison of Antonia (see Acts 10:1, note; also vers. 32, 33, etc.; Acts 22:24, 26, etc.).
Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul.
Verse 32. - And forthwith he for who immediately, A.V.; upon for unto, A.V.; and they, when, etc., left off for and when they, etc., they left, A.V.; beating for beating of, A.V. Ran down upon (κατέδραμεν ἐπὶ). Κατατρέχω only occurs here in the New Testament, but is used in the LXX. of 1 Kings 19:20, followed by ὀπίσω, to run after. In classical Greek it governs an accusative or genitive of the person or thing attacked. Here the force of κατά seems to be merely the running down from the castle of Antonia, and therefore the A.V. unto seems preferable to the R.V. upon.
Then the chief captain came near, and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and demanded who he was, and what he had done.
Verse 33. - Laid hold on for took, A.V.; inquired for. demanded, A.V. Laid hold on (ἐπελάβετο); see Acts 17:19, note. Bound with two chains; as St. Peter was (Acts 12:6). Ἄλυσις means properly "a chain on the hands" as opposed to πέδη, a fetter (Mark 5:4); and therefore the two chains are not to be understood of chains on his hands and feet, with Kuinoel, but, as in the case of Peter, of chains fastening him to a soldier on both hands.
And some cried one thing, some another, among the multitude: and when he could not know the certainty for the tumult, he commanded him to be carried into the castle.
Verse 34. - Shouted for cried, A.V. and T.R.; crowd for multitude, A.V.; uproar for tumult, A.V.; brought for carried, A.V. The certainty. He could not get at the truth because of the tumult and the different accounts given first by one and then by another. The Greek word τὸ ἀσφαλές, and its kindred ἀσφαλεία ἀσφαλῶς ἀσφαλίζω, and ἐπισφαλής, are of frequent use by St. Luke (Acts 2:36; Acts 5:23; Acts 16:23, 24; Acts 22:30; Acts 25:26; Acts 27:9; Luke 1:4). These words are all very much used by medical writers, and specially the last (ἐπισφαλής), which is used by St. Luke alone in the New Testament. The castle (τὴν παρεμβολήν), "the camp or barracks attached to the tower of Antonia" (Alford); Acts 22:24; Acts 23:10, 16, 32. It means the castle-yard within the fortifications, with whatever buildings were in it.
And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the people.
Verse 35. - Crowd for people, A.V. Borne of the soldiers. Lifted off his legs and carried up the steps. The stairs from the temple area at the northwest corner to the castle of Antonia (see ver. 31, note, and ver. 32). Alford quotes the description of the fort Antonia in Josephus, 'Bell. Jud.,' 5. 5:8, in which he says (Traill's translation), "Its general appearance was that of a tower with other towers at each of the four corners. That at the southeast angle rose to an elevation of seventy cubits, so that from thence there was a complete view of the temple. Where it adjoined the colonnades of the temple it had passages leading down to both, through which the guards - for in the fortress there always lay a Roman legion - descended and disposed themselves about the colonnades in arms at the festivals, to watch the people, and repress any insurrectionary movement."
For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, Away with him.
Verse 36. - Crying out for crying, A.V. Away with him. The cry of those who thirsted for the blood of Jesus Christ (Luke 23:18; see also Acts 22:22, where the sense comes out fully).
And as Paul was to be led into the castle, he said unto the chief captain, May I speak unto thee? Who said, Canst thou speak Greek?
Verse 37. - About to be brought for to be led, A.V.; saith for said, A.V.; say something for speak, A.V,; and he for who, A.V.; dost thou know for canst thou speak, A.V. About to be brought into the castle. He had nearly reached the top of the stairs, and there was, perhaps, a brief halt while the gates of the castle-yard were being opened. Paul seized the opportunity to address Lysias in Greek. Dost thou know Greek? (Ἑλληνιστὶ γινώσκεις;). According to some, λαλεῖν is to be understood, "Dost thou know how to speak Greek?" after the analogy of Λαλοῦντες Ἀζωτιστί, and Οὐκ εἰσὶν ἐπιγινώσκοντες λαλεῖν Ιουδαι'στί, in Nehemiah 13:24. But others (Meyer, Alford, etc.) say that there is no ellipse of λαλεῖν, but that Ἐλληνιστὶ γινώσκειν Συριστὶ ἐπισταμένους (Xenophon), "Graece nescire" (Cicero), mean to know or not to know the Greek and Syrian languages.
Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers?
Verse 38. - Art thou not then the for art not thou that, A.V.; stirred up to sedition for madest an uproar, A.V.; led for leddest, A.V.; the four thousand men of the Assassins for four thousand men that were murderers, A.V. Art thou not then, etc.? or as Meyer, "Thou art not then;" either way implying that Lysias had concluded that he was the Egyptian, but had now discovered his mistake. The Egyptian, etc. He whom Josephus calls (' Bell. Jud.,' it. 13:5) "the Egyptian false prophet," and relates that, having collected above thirty thousand followers, he advanced from the desert to the Mount of Olives, intending to overpower the Roman garrison and make himself tyrant of Jerusalem, with the help of his δορυφόροι, or body-guard, who might very probably be composed of the Assassins or Sicarii, mentioned in the text. Stirred up to sedition (ἀναστατώσας) The difference between the A.V. and the R.V. is that the former takes the verb in an intransitive sense, "to make an Uproar," the latter in a transitive sense, governing the "four thousand men." In the only two other places were it occurs in the New Testament (Acts 17:6; Galatians 5:12) it is transitive. It is not a classical word. The four thousand men. Josephus, in the above-cited passage, reckons the followers of the Egyptian impostor at above thirty thousand. But such discrepancies are of no account, partly because of the known looseness with which numbers are stated, and Josephus's disposition to exaggerate; partly because of the real fluctuation in the numbers of insurgents at different periods of an insurrection; and partly because it is very possible that a soldier like Lysias would take no count of the mere rabble, but only of the disciplined and armed soldiers such as these Sicarii were. It may be added that Josephus himself seems to distinguish between the rabble and the fighting men, because, though in the 'Bell. Jud.,' it. 13:5 he says that Felix attacked or took prisoners "most of his followers," in the 'Ant. Jud.,' 20. 8:6 he makes the number of slain "four hundred," and of prisoners "two hundred" - a very small proportion of thirty thousand. The Egyptian had premised his deluded followers that the walls of Jerusalem would fall down like those of Jericho. It is not known exactly in what year the insurrection took place, but it was, as Renan says, "pen de temps auparavant" ('St. Paul,' p. 525). The Egyptian himself contrived to run away and disappear; hence the thought that he was the author of this new tumult at Jerusalem. The Sicarii were a band of fanatical murderers, who, in the disturbed times preceding the destruction of Jerusalem, went about armed with daggers, and in broad daylight and in the public thoroughfares murdered whoever was obnoxious to them. Among others they murdered the high priest Jonathan at the instigation of Felix (Josephus, 'Ant. Jud.,' 20. 6:7; 'Bell. Jud.,' 2, 13:3).
But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people.
Verse 39. - I am a Jew for I am a man which am a Jew, A.V.; in for a city in, A.V.; give me leave for suffer me, A.V. A citizen of no mean city; οὐκ ἀσήμου πόλεως, an elegant classical expression. Οὐκ ἄσημος Ἐλλήνων πόλις (Euripides, 'Ion.,' 8).
And when he had given him licence, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying,
Verse 40. - Leave for license, A.V.; standing for stood...and, A.V.; language for tongue. A.V. The Hebrew language; i.e. the Syro-Chaldaic which was the vernacular of the Hebrew Jews at that time.

Courtesy of Open Bible