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An Exposition Of The Acts Of The Apostles

ANALYSIS

In this Chapter, we have an account of the ordination of Saul and Barnabas in accordance with Divine instructions (1–3). Their mission in Cyprus (4, 5). The signal punishment of the magician, Bar-jesu, who sought to oust them and prevent the conversion of Sergius Paulus (5–11). The conversion of Sergius Paulus (12). The eloquent address of Saul in the synagogue at Perge, in which, after summing up the benefits conferred by God on the Jews, he comes to the death of our Lord and His resurrection, in accordance with the predictions of the Prophets (16–37). The necessity for faith in Him for justification (39–41). The invitation to the Apostles to continue the same subject on the next Sabbath day (42–44). The joy of the Gentiles—envy and opposition on the part or the Jews (45–52).

Commentary

1. Prophets” (c. 11:27).

“Doctors.” These wise men endowed with the spiritual gift of teaching the truths of faith in a plain intelligible manner. In the catalogue of spiritual gifts enumerated by St. Paul (1 Cor 12:28), “Doctors” are placed third in order. As the “Prophets” explained the truths of faith under the influence of sudden inspiration for the moment; “So did Doctors” do, in a calm, intelligible manner.

“Lucius of Cyrene.” Whether it is to him St. Paul alludes (Rom. 16:21) is uncertain.

“Niger,” so called, probably, from his complexion.

“Foster-brother.” The word, probably, here means, the associate, playmate. It was usual with Princes to select children of the same age, as associates or playmates for their children. This was regarded as a high honour.

“Herod” (Antipas). The same who beheaded the Baptist; mocked our Lord. He was, at this time, after being deposed by Claudius, exiled at Lyons. “Tetrarch,” called by his former name, though no longer such.

2. “Ministering.” The Greek—λειτουργούντων—literally means engaged in a public work, which the words, “unto the Lord,” would point to a work in the service of God, or Divine worship, The words refer to the engagement in public Divine worship, and not merely in prayer or instruction. It would thus, by implication, if not directly, indicate the Sacrifice of the New Law, the chief part of the Liturgy, or of Divine worship. It reference were made merely to prayers, a different form would be used, thus, “while they were praying.” Nor could it refer to preaching, which is addressed to the people and not “to the Lord.”

“Fasting,” is also significant. For the ancient Fathers, Augustine, Basil, &c., tell us, fasting always preceded the offering of sacrifice; but, fasting was not necessarily connected with prayer in general (Beelen). Erasmus renders the Greek word, sacrificantibus. Kenrick prefers rendering it, officiating. Whatever may be the probability of this opinion, no Catholic could think of recurring to a text so dubious, in proof of the sacrifice of the New Law, when there are clear texts, plenty and to spare, from which the existence of the holy sacrifice is proved decretorially and satisfactorily.

“The Holy Ghost said to them,” either by internal inspiration, or possibly in an audible tone, to some of them, which they communicated to the others.

“Separate.” Set apart by some solemn act, as in next verse indicated by the imposition of hands. What this latter ceremony means is disputed. Some say as Saul was undoubtedly an Apostle called by our Lord Himself before this (Gal. 1:1–15; Acts 9:20, &c.) the ceremony here could not mean conferring the Episcopal office; that it was only meant to show the communion of pastors and the unity of ministry in the Church. Thus it was ratified by some exernal ceremony; the mission was already divinely confided to them.

Others (and this is more generally held) say that there is questions of Episcopal consecration. They may have been already priests. They had already exercised the functions of priests, and are numbered with those, who discharged sacred functions; or, it may be that Priesthood and Episcopacy were conferred at the same time, which Bellarmine holds to be possible (De Sac. Ord. c. 5) and Petavius (Dissert. Eccles., Lib. i., c. 2) says it was done at that age of the Church. The words of next verse regarding some imposition of hands, fasting, praying, would seem to be confirmatory of this view, although the difficulties and objections against are very great and hard to be answered.

“Saul and Barnabas.” The order is inverted in the Greek. However, the Vulgate reading is well sustained by versions; and especially the Syriac.

“For the work.” The conversion of the Gentile world “taken,” chosen them.

3. The Greek means “after having fasted and prayed” &c. This solemn mode of proceeding points to the great work before them, of deputing two men, to begin on an organized scale, the conversion of the heathen.

“Sent them away,” on their mission, guided and influenced by the Holy Ghost.

4. “By the Holy Ghost.” Under whose direction the preparatory ceremony was carried out. It was He who ordered them to be set apart and, as some understand it, ordained or consecrated for the purpose.

“Seleucia” on the Mediterranean, situated at the mouth of the Orontes. It was about sixteen miles from Antioch, situated inland, higher up the Orontes.

“Cyprus.” The well-known island on the Mediterranean not far from Seleucia. It was the birth-place of Barnabas. The Gospel had been preached there already by others (9:19).

5. “Salamina.” The chief city of Cyprus, on its eastern shore, destroyed by an earthquake. It was rebuilt by Constantine. Hence, called Constantia.

“Synagogue of the Jews.” To the Jews they preached the word of God, in the first instance. “John” surnamed Mark (c. 12:12). He did not claim to be their equal, who were specially designated by the Holy Ghost to the high office of preaching the Gospel. He held an inferior position. He acted as their travelling companion; probably, making provision for their temporal necessities, so that they might attend uninterruptedly to the preaching of the Word. He may also have assisted them in their spiritual ministry, acting as catechist, &c.

6. “Paphos,” on the western coast, the residence of the Proconsul. Hence, they traversed the entire Island from east to west; no doubt, preaching the Gospel as they went along.

“Magician.” For meaning of (see 8; Matthew 2)

“False Prophet.” Pretending to the gift of foretelling future events, and of being inspired with a knowledge of the Divine will. “A Jew,” who pretended to be a Divine Legate of some sort.

“Bar-Jesu.” The son of Jesu or Joshue, a name in common use among the Jews.

7. “With.” In the suite, or in attendance on.

“Proconsul.” Governor of Cyprus himself. In the days of the Republic, the governors of provinces were appointed directly by the Consuls. Hence, termed Proconsuls, which title they held even in the days of the Empire. Among the provinces given over by Augustus to the Senate and people of Rome was Cyprus. To other provinces, he claimed to appoint governors directly himself.

“Prudent.” Intelligent, anxious to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

“Sending for Barnabas and Saul.” The rumour of whose preaching something novel reached this intelligent, liberal-minded governor, anxious for information.

“The Word of God.” This was what they announced, though likely, at first, the governor only regarded it as a subject of speculative knowledge.

8. “Elymas.” The name by which the imposter was commonly known. Signifying, wise, corresponding with the Persian term, Magus.

“Withstood them.” No doubt, he was present at Saul’s, &c., exposition of the Christian faith, and seeing the impression made on the governor, he, probably, by attempting to show the falsity of the reasons advanced, and in the exercise of his pretended science, endeavoured to dissuade the governor from embracing the faith and showing favour to the Christians.

9. Some say he had both names from his infancy. Others, considering that this was the first time that St. Luke uses the term, “Paul,” in connection with the conversion of Sergius Paulus say it was assumed to mark the great spiritual triumph of the Apostle, who took the name of his distinguished convert, just as Scipio took the name of Africanus, Metellus, Creticus, &c. (St. Jerome in Ep. ad Philem). This is the last time St. Luke calls him “Saul.” Henceforward, as he was about to devote his labours to the conversion of the Gentile world, he calls him exclusively “Paul,” a Roman name familiar to the Gentiles.

“Filled with the Holy Ghost” indicates the habitual state of his soul, filled with the inspirations of the Holy Ghost which stimulated him to administer to this wretched man and inflict on him, on the part of God, well merited punishment. The words here denote active impulse for the moment and for the occasion. Hence, “looking on him,” sternly and steadfastly.

10. He said, “full of all guile.” Knowingly practising all kinds of delusion, “and of all deceit.” The Greek word conveys the idea of all kinds of sleight of hand, sly acts, calculated to impose on simple, ignorant people. The word “all” is very emphatic.

“Child of the devil,” faithful imitator of him who is the father of lies, and of all deceit (John 8:44); “enemy of all justice,” actively opposed to and hating every thing just and upright. Wicked men hate in others the virtues opposed to their own vices. Hence, it is said in Scripture “opprimamus justum, contrarius est operibus nostris.”

“To pervert,” &c. To make men turn aside from walking in the ways of the Lord, which are always straight, to turn them away from embracing the Gospel, and enter on a course of life crooked and perverse, only suited to imposters and hypocrites.

11. “Now behold.” Mind you, the just punishment from God is soon to overtake you.

“Thou shalt be blind.” Blindness was an appropriate punishment indicating the dark perversity of his conduct.

“Not seeing the sun.” Which clearly indicates his total blindness.

“A mist and darkness.” Show the gradual privation of sight, first a film came on his eyes—St. Luke. a physician, uses a term of art—then, “darkness,” until it ended in total privation, “and going about,” &c., groping in the dark, for a guide to conduct him (as in Genesis 19:11).

12. “Believed.” Embraced the faith, confirmed by such a remarkable miracle. This also showed him that Elymas was an impostor.

13. “Paul,” &c., and his colleagues. “Perge,” the capital of Pamphylia, distinguished for the famous temple of Diana. Whatever John’s reasons were for not accompanying them beyond Perge, they did not satisfy Paul, who refused afterwards to have him associated with them. This gave rise to the difference between the Apostle and Barnabas, the latter was kinsman of John Mark. This difference ended in their separation. John, it seems, was afterwards taken into the Apostle’s friendship (2 Tim. 4:11; Col. 4:10.)

14. They made no slay this time, at Perge. Not so, however, on their return (14:25).

“Antioch of Pisidia.” Different from the well-known Antioch of Syria (11:19).

“Entering into the Synagogue.” There must have been a good many Jews there.

“Sat down.” Assuming the position of Doctors, and conveying that they would be glad to address the congregation. Although specially marked out by the Holy Ghost himself for the conversion of the Gentile world, they deemed it right to attend to the Divine mandate of preaching to the Jews, first, “Judæo primum.”

15. “And after the reading,” &c. A portion of the Pentateuch—“the Law”—was marked off to be read for the assembly, each Sabbath day, in the synagogue. To this was added an appropriate passage from “the Prophets,” bearing in sense on the passage read from the Law, or Pentateuch.

“The rulers of the Synagogue.” The officers, whose duty it was to see that all things were conducted decorously at the meeting. To them it belonged to call on whom they pleased to address the people. “If ye have any word,” &c. Their position and intelligent appearance gave grounds for assuming this.

“Men, brethren.” Showed they have regarded them as fellow-country-men and of the same religion

16. “And you that fear God.” By those are most probably meant the class termed, Proselytes of the gate, who had not been as yet incorporated with the Jews, by circumcision; but, having renounced the worship of idols, adored Jehovah, and were admitted to the Synagogues. There was another class of Proselytes, viz., Proselytes of justice. This latter class were incorporated with the Jews by circumcision. They were bound to the observance of the entire Mosaic Law. Not so, the Proselytes of the gate, who were bound only by the precepts given to Noah.

17. This is the first discourse recorded by St. Luke in the Acts, as uttered by St. Paul. Every word of it is thoroughly in harmony with his writings in his Epistles. Between it and the discourse of St. Peter and St. Stephen addressed to the Jews, who had not at the time, embraced the Faith, the greatest analogy is clearly discernible. St. Paul seems to adopt the same course that they followed in order to bring around their conversion. In this disourse, instead of proclaiming at once the Divinity of our Lord and the necessity of believing in Him, which might occasion a cry of opposition against Him, he gives a brief account of the History of the Jews, their special election by God, till he comes down to the time of King David, from whose seed our Saviour had sprung. Then briefly alluding to His Death and Resurrection—all in accordance with the ancient prophecies—he points out what he intended to be the main object of his discourse, viz.: the necessity of believing in Him, in order to obtain Salvation (38, 39). He also warns them against the disastrous consequences of unbelief (vv. 40, 41).

“The God,” &c. This exordium was calculated to secure him an attentive hearing.

“Exalted the people.” By multiplying them, asserting them into liberty from a state of degrading bondage, working great prodigies of power in their behalf, humbling their enemies

“And with a high arm,” &c. All this is fully detailed in the Book of Exodus.

18. “Endured their manners,” &c. Patiently bearing with their perversity and frequent rebellions against him (Psalm 94:10).

The above is the reading commonly adopted. Others—and they are neither few nor inconsiderable—adopt a different reading. They maintain that instead of ετροποφορησεν “Endured,” it should be ετροφοφορησεν nourished, fed, as a nurse feeds her young. This latter reading is found in several excellent MSS. and versions. There is only the difference of one letter φ and π in both. If we consult history it is against the former reading, as it testifies that God did not patiently endure their perversity; but, rather frequently reproached, threatened, and punished them severely. Moreover, does it not seem unlikely that St. Paul in recounting the benefits bestowed on their fathers, would mention their perversity, which God had patiently to bear with? More likely, he would refer to their having been miraculously nourished by God, with Manna in their passage, for forty years, through the wilderness.

19. “Destroying” them, as nations (Deut. 7:1), extirpating them as such, several individuals survived.

“Land of Chanaan.” The whole country went by the name of the principal nation. This is the land promised their fathers.

“By lot,” a process frequently resorted to among the Jews, for determining the most important affairs.

20. “As it were,” &c. We have great chronological difficulties connected with this verse. There are two readings of it, both well supported by MSS. and versions. One, the ordinary Greek reading, according to which “the four hundred and fifty years” are to be connected with what follows, and determine the period or duration of the government of the people by judges.

“After these things,” or after the sortition of the lands, some time subsequent to the entrance into the Land of Promise, He gave them judges who ruled for “four hundred and fifty years until Samuel the Prophet,” Samuel’s own administration included. This is not easily reconciled with 3 Kings, c. 6:1, where it is stated four hundred and eighty years (480) elapsed between the Exodus and the fourth (4th) year of the reign of Solomon, the date of the building of the Temple.

The other reading followed by the Vulgate, and supported by some of the chief MSS. and versions connects the “four hundred and fifty (450) years” not with what follows, but with the preceding, and computes them from the call and special election of the Jewish people, which began at the birth of Isaac, the heir of the promises, to the sortition of the lands in Chanaan. In this reading there is no need for reconciling this passage with 3 Kings 6:6, which speaks of a period commencing with the Exodus.

The passage will, then, mean that God gave the children of Israel the land of Chanaan four hundred and fifty (450) years after He had chosen our fathers and their posterity to be His peculiar people.

In this computation, the forty (40) years wandering in the desert, and seven (7) years before the distribution of the land are added to the four hundred (400) from the time of the promise till the Exodus or end of their bondage.

Commentators generally remark in connection with this and such like passages that Chronological details regarding facts, long since past, are very perplexing. They, moreover, remark that the Chronology here mentioned was commonly held at the time; and that St. Paul, without entering into any disputes about Chronological accuracy or attempting to settle every point regarding it, gave expression to the opinion on the subject usually adopted by the Jews at the time.

21. “Forty years.” In Book of Kings, there is no mention of the duration of Saul’s reign.

The Apostle must have learned it from Tradition. This number perfectly accords with the narrative of Josephus (Antiq. vii. 11) who says Saul reigned eighteen (18) years before the death of Samuel, and twenty-two after it.

22. “Removed.” Deprived him of the Royal dignity (1 Kings 31:1–6).

“Giving testimony”—“according to my own heart,” very pleasing to me, such a man as my heart desires and wishes for. “My wills execute my mandates.” This testimony is found substantially in (1 Kings 13:14, 16:1; Psl 38). David may have deflected from the right path betimes; but, his public kingly life was uniformly good; and, after he fell, his repentance was remarkable. His reign, as king, was good, obedient to God’s will, unlike Saul, who proved to be perverse.

David is commended for having promoted the worship of God among the people (3 Kings 14:8, 9; 15:3–5) and contrasted with Jeroboam and Abias.

23. “Seed,” posterity. Our Lord is everywhere known by the designation, “Son of David.”

“God, according to His promise,” viz., the promises generally made to Abraham and David, that the Messiah would be born of their seed (Gal. 3:15) which he confirms in v. 32.

“Hath raised up to Israel, a Saviour, Jesus.” Instead of “raised up,” the reading best supported by a preponderance of MSS., and generally preferred, has, “brought forth to Israel.” It refers not to our Lord’s Incarnation; but, to his having been publicly declared by God, at the commencement of his ministry, at his Baptism, by John, to be the Saviour of all Israel. Hence, aptly called Jesus. The reference here made to the precursory ministry and testimony of John shows there is question of our Lord’s coming forth to exercise His ministry.

24. “John preaching,” or, as the Greek has it, “having previously preached,” “before his coming,” or His public appearance to exercise His ministry.

In v. 23, the Apostle introduces the chief point of his discourse, that Jesus was the promised Messiah, who was to redeem the world. The mention of the word Jesus, so odious to the Jews, and calculated to beget a prejudice, is introduced with great judgment, the promises regarding which, already laid before them, the Jews could not gainsay. With great tact he avails himself of the allusion to David to introduce the mention of the Messiah, who was to be of the seed of David.

The meaning of vv. 23, 24, then, is: God, conformably to His promise has declared, pointed out unto Israel Jesus as Saviour, the descendant of King David, after John had prepared the ways for His entry into the functions of His ministry, by preaching the Baptism of Penance unto all the people.

25. “Fulfilling his course.” When in the act of discharging his duties as precursor, he said “I am not he,” (see Gospels Matthew 3; Luke 3:15; John 1:27).

26. “Stock of Abraham,” native born Jews, his natural descendants through Isaac.

“Fear God.” Proselytes. The Apostle earnestly exhorts his countrymen, whether Jews or Proselytes, to accept the message of Salvation, which is the fulfilment of the promises made to their fathers.

“To you,” is emphatic. To them was the Saviour first sent. “This salvation” indicated in v. 23.

27. “For they that inhabited Jerusalem,” &c. The object of the Apostle here would seem to be to explain more fully how this salvation was brought about, and the humiliations and sufferings, in the first instance, of the Saviour, and His subsequent glory and exaltation in fulfilment of “voices” or oracles of “the Prophets” who had minutely predicted them beforehand. “For” is regarded here by Commentators not as causal but expletive, as if the Apostle was about to explain how “the word of salvation” was effected, viz., through the crimes and ingratitude of the Jews of Jerusalem.

Others (among them Patrizzi) say “for” conveys a reason not for what is expressed but what is understood, as if he revolved in his mind reproachfully and sorrowfully what a sad subject of reproach, what a grievous crime is involved in this work of Redemption.

For the Jews of Jerusalem not knowing Him to be their Messiah as well “as their rulers,” members of the Sanhedrim or Supreme Council of the Nation, blindly shutting their eyes against all evidence, utterly ignored him.

“Read every Sabbath,” which rendered their rejection of Him more culpable and blameworthy.

“Judging.” Condemning Him; pronouncing Him worthy of death.

28. Handed Him over to Pilate, who, out of fear of the Emperor, before whom he might be charged with allowing a man, however unjustly charged with sedition to pass unpunished, regardless of justice, condemned him to death. The Roman procurator alone had at this time the power to do so.

29. This proved the reality of his death. The words express the fact of His burial by whomsoever killed. They may be said to have buried Him by means of others; for, having compassed His death, they brought about His burial. Besides, some members of the Sanhedrim, who disapproved of the sentence, Nicodemus and Joseph, had him buried.

30. “But,” implying that these expectations regarding his utter extinction in the grave were frustrated.

“God.” Christ who is God, raised Himself up, as He repeatedly promised (c. 2:24). St. Paul did not deem it expedient to proclaim, at this stage, the fundamental truth that Christ is God. It is not denied, however prudently passed over in silence.

31. “Seen” not only by the Apostles, but by several other disciples (1 Cor. 15, &c.).

32, 33. The witnesses referred to in the preceding verse declared this fundamental truth to the people of Palestine. The same we now declare to you, the Jews of the dispersion; “and we declare that the promise made to our fathers,” Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, regarding the salvation and redemption of mankind is brought about by one of their seed.

“God hath fulfilled.” Completely carried out in the Resurrection of Jesus, which perfected the accomplishment of all the promises that concerned Him. The Resurrection of our Lord with all its circumstances was the most undeniable proof, the undoubted seal of His Divinity, which embraced every other truth and promise and prediction that concerned Him.

“Raising up Jesus” from the dead.

“As in second Psalm.” In some versions it is “in first Psalm. But in this it is supposed that first Psalm is merely an introduction to the whole Psalter. The first and second Psalms were by some regarded as one. However, the Vulgate reading is better sustained by the chief MSS.

“Thou art My Son,” &c. These words are regarded by many Expositors as having reference to the Eternal generation of the Son “before all ages.” These explain its connection with our Lord’s Resurrection, thus: In our Lord’s Resurrection, His human nature which was always even in its separated state, during the interval between His death and Resurrection, united to the Person of the Word, received, as it were, a new existence when His sacred body now glorified was united to His soul. In reference to this state of new existence, God the Father declares Him anew to be His Eternal Son, perpetuating His generation from eternity, which was not a mere passing, but a continuous, permanent act ever abiding from eternity unto eternity. This is in accordance with the teaching of St. Paul (Rom. 1:4), where he says Christ was predestinated: (in Greek, declared) to be the Son of God by His Resurrection, &c.

The vv. 32 and 33 should be interpreted and joined together, as they convey that God had fulfilled for the children the promises made to their fathers. These promises He completely “fulfilled” by raising up His son from the dead, which followed as a necessary consequence of His being the Eternal, consubstantial, natural Son of God, begotten of Him eternally by a permanent, abiding generation.

Some interpreters say vv. 32, 33 should be included in a parenthesis, thus, v. 34 would be immediately connected with v. 31, following up the arguments directly in proof of Christ’s Resurrection.

In the two vv. 32, 33 is contained the point which the Apostle wishes to establish all along, viz., that the Jews had the promises of salvation fulfilled, which was now tendered to them.

“As in the second Psalm.” In some versions we have, “as in the first Psalm.” This discrepancy arose from the different divisions of the Psalms at different times and in different versions. Moreover, some looking on the first Psalm, as merely an introduction to the whole Psalter, made only one of the first and second Psalms.

“Thou art My son,” &c. Some hold that these words directly refer to Christ’s Resurrection, in which He was begotten and born into a new and immortal life which God communicated to Him; and thus became His Father, and he became a son, as earthly parents are termed such when their children are born.

Others maintain that there is question directly of the eternal generation of the Son, born of the Father “before all ages.” In order to show its connexion with the Resurrection, these say that St. Paul adduces the Eternal generation of Christ, His identity with the Father, as His Eternal Son, to prove that having died by His Father’s will, He could not but rise again; impossible, He would remain in death. Just as St. Peter proves (c. 2:24) that it is impossible for Him not to rise in order to fulfil the prophecies, so here, the impossibility of His not rising is derived from His Divine sonship, which would not allow of His mouldering in the grave.

“This day have I begotten Thee.” “This day.” God’s day, determines no particular time. With God there is no past or future. All is present. And the generation of His Son in eternity was not a mere passing act, but continuous, permanent, abiding from eternity unto eternity.

Some say these words convey the idea expressed by St. Paul (Rom. 1:4) that in His Resurrection God declared him to be Son in the new and glorified existence conferred on His humanity, which was always since the Incarnation inseparably united to the Divine Person of the Word.

34. Having in the preceding proved the fact of Christ’s Resurrection, the Apostle now in this and following proceeds to point out its chief quality, viz., permanency, “rising from the dead He shall die no more,” &c. (Rom. 6:9). He is never again to die.

“The holy things of David,” &c. These words are taken from Isaias (4:3) according to the Septuagint, with some slight change, which does not affect the substance or meaning of the passage. St. Jerome renders it from the Hebrew “the faithful mercies of David.” The words mean the holy and merciful promises made to David, of benefits to be conferred on him, especially those having reference to the glorious and ever-enduring reign of His Son, whose throne was to be established for ever (2 Kings 7:19; Psalm 88:36–38).

“Faithful.” Unfailing. Sure to be carried out. Now, these promises would not be abiding and ever enduring, unless the Resurrection of our Lord were permanent and enduring.

35. A further corroboration of the same argument (see c. 2:27).

36. He shows the words of the Psalm could not apply to David himself.

“In his generation.” Age or period of life. “Served according to the will of God.” Obeyed God’s Commandments during his lifetime among the men or generation with whom he lived. “Slept,” died in consequence, a holy and happy death (2:29–31).

37. Here he shows the passage from the Psalm could apply to one only, viz, our Lord Jesus Christ, who alone did not see corruption, being raised to a glorious and immortal life.

38. Here commences the peroration and practical conclusion of the discourse, wherein the Apostle earnestly exhorts them to have recourse, for justification and the remission of sin, to their long-expected Messiah, who alone is the fountain of salvation. This they will obtain by embracing His faith and observing His commandments. By Him comes forgiveness of the sins they committed, and absolution “from all other things,” that is, all other sins, which the Law of Moses could not of itself confer. Whatever sins were remitted under “the Law of Moses” were remitted owing to the retrospective merits of Christ.

39. This justification which comes through faith, all other conditions being supplied, a justification of which “faith is the root and foundation,” is confined to no particular class or nation. It embraces “every one.”

40. He finally closes the oration with a threat against the incredulous, similar to that menaced by the Prophet Habacuc (1:5–7) on their fathers, through the instrumentality of the Chaldeans who were swift in inflicting vengeance on them. God will visit them also, if they continue to be incredulous, with the severest punishment. This He did in the destruction of Jerusalem, under Titus, which exhibited a scene of carnage and suffering unexampled in the history of human misery. “In the Prophets,” that is in that division of the Books of Sacred Scripture, called “the Prophets,” (see Luke 24:44 for a description of the division of the Scriptures made by the Jews into “the Law” (Pentateuch) “the Prophets,” and the “Hagiographa”). Here, there is question of Habacuc alone.

“Ye despisers.” The Hebrew means “ye, among the nations.” The Septuagint translators, who are followed here, rendered the word “despisers.” The copy used by them had Bogedim in place of Boggoim. The Syriac and Arabic have “wonder and perish,” become annihilated through stupor and terror, “despisers.”

“I work a work,” &c. Do a thing. Habacuc refers to the destruction of the temple and nation by the Chaldeans, which the Jews deemed impossible, as if a house built by God’s order could be destroyed. This they “could not believe,” even though a prophet—“if any man,”—were to announce it. On their temple they reposed a blind reliance (Jeremias 7:4). In the days of the Apostles the Jews could not believe in the possibility of the destruction of their temple. This sense of fatal security lasted even during the final siege of Jerusalem.

The Apostle only quotes the first part of the threat in Habacuc (1:6) who says that the Chaldeans would come swift upon them. He only quotes the first part, and refrains from quoting the entire passage, as by quoting one part, the Jews knew the rest of the passage.

This threat of the Apostle was fearfully realised in the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus.

42. As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the place of meeting or synagogue. “They,” that is the congregation, Jews and Proselytes, “Next sabbath”—the Greek word μεταξυ, between, frequently means next. The words, v. 44, make it likely whatever may be the Greek construction here, that by the Sabbath between, το μεταξν σαββατον, there is question of “the next Sabbath.” For the Greek, the reading of this verse runs thus: “and when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached,” &c. The Vulgate reading, however, is best sustained by MSS. and more in accordance with the usual synagogue attendance. Not clear that the Gentiles attended synagogue meetings.

43. “Broken up. Dismissed or concluded in the usual way. “Many of the Jews,” native Jews, “and strangers,” &c. Proselytes (see v. 16) accompanied them to their lodgings.

“The grace of God,” The doctrine of the Gospel and faith.

44. “Whole city.” Most of the population, including Gentiles. “came together.” Where? Not said, possibly several audiences were given, as no one synagogue could contain all together; or, in some open space around the synagogue.

45. “Were filled with envy.” Felt great indignation on seeing the Gentiles admitted on such easy terms.

“Contradicted.” Denounced as false, the teaching “of Paul,” the chief speaker. “Blaspheming.” Adding some reproaches, which were so many blasphemies against our Lord.

46. “Boldly.” Spiritedly, with courageous intrepidity, disregarding their anger and jealously.

“To you it behoved,” &c. According to the precept of our Lord (Luke 24 v. 47).

“Judge yourselves,” &c. By rejecting the means of salvation offered to you. Not that they deemed themselves unworthy of salvation; but rather the opposite. Their conduct, however, in rejecting the means of salvation was a practical judgment on the subject, though they thought the reverse.

47. “So the Lord commanded,” &c. He does not here refer to the express command of our Lord himself, which the Jews would undervalue; but, to the commands contained in their own highly-prized Scriptures of the Old Testament.

“I have set Thee,” &c. These words, as is universally admitted, directly refer to the Messiah. They are found in Isaias (49:6). They implicitly refer to the Apostles, who were to act in His name, and by preaching him to the Gentiles, were to be instrumental in carrying out in his regard, what he was appointed to be “The Light of the Gentiles,” whom he was to draw forth from the darkness of error and ignorance, and become the source of “salvation” to all mankind, even unto the utmost parts of the earth.

48. Hearing from the mouths of the Jews themselves that they were to be sharers equally with the Jews in salvation, who would fain confine salvation to themselves. “Glorified the Word of God.” Speaking of it with reverence and thankfulness, as a message from God. They are contrasted with the Jews who rejected God’s word (v. 46).

“As were ordained.” Does not refer to a decree, as some understand it, on the part of God predestinating men to Eternal Life, in consequence of which decree they believed and embraced the faith. There is no question at least immediately and directly of any predestinating decree at all. The Greek word for “ordained” (τεταγμενοι) is probably allusive to military dicipline, wherein men are arranged by their officers under their proper peculiar standard. The words mean, that such as were disposed and divinely directed under the influence of God’s preventing graces, inspiring and strengthening them, to aspire after life everlasting, freely embraced the faith, “believed”—as one of the most essential means of attaining the object they had in view.

49. The entire district of Antioch of Pisidia embraced the faith, owing to the influence and preaching of Paul and Barnabas. There is question of the Gentile population, to whom Paul and Barnabas addressed themselves, after having been rejected and resisted by the Jews.

50. Honourable women.” Women of high rank, connected with high families of influence.

“Chief men,” &c. The civil magistrates, who exercised civil authority.

“Cast them,” &c. Had a decree enacted, banishing them. This does not imply violence. Likely, they had men employed to see them depart from their country.

51. For the meaning of this symbolical mode of acting, prescribed by our Lord, in certain circumstances, to his Apostles (see Matthew 10:14, Commentary on).

52. Joy infused by the Holy Ghost in communicating His gifts.








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