|<< Acts 13 >>|
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
1Now 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.
Now there were in the church that was at Antioch,.... This was Antioch in Syria, where was a Gospel church, and where the disciples were first called Christians; from whence Saul and Barnabas had been sent to Jerusalem, with a supply for the poor saints there, in a time of famine, and from whence they were now returned: and here were
certain prophets and teachers; who were both prophets and teachers, though these are sometimes distinguished; who had both a gift of foretelling things to come, as Agabus and others, and of explaining the prophecies of the Old Testament, and of teaching the people evangelic truths; these, at least some of them, came from Jerusalem hither, Acts 11:27.
As Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger; the former of these was a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, who sold his land and brought the money to the apostles; and who was first sent hither by the church at Jerusalem, upon hearing that many in this place believed, and turned to the Lord, Acts 4:36 but of the latter no mention is made elsewhere; by his first name he appears to be a Jew, who by the Romans was called Niger; very likely from the blackness of his complexion, for that word signifies "black": and so the Ethiopic version interprets it:
and Lucius of Cyrene; who very probably was one of the synagogue of the Cyrenians, and seems manifestly to be one of the men of Cyrene, that went abroad upon the persecution raised at the death of Stephen, Acts 6:9 he is said to be bishop of Cyrene; some take him to be the same Lucius mentioned in Romans 16:21 and others think he is the same with Luke the Evangelist:
and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch: or his foster brother. The Syriac version calls him Manail, and one of Stephens's copies Manael, and the Ethiopic version Manache, and renders what is said of him, "the son of king Herod's nurse"; which accounts for their being brought up, nourished, and suckled together: the name seems to be the same with Menachem, or Menahem, a name frequent with the Jews; there was one of this name, who was very intimate with Herod the great, and was in his service, though before he was vice president of the sanhedrim: the account that is given of him is this (z):
"Hillell and Shammai received from them (i.e. from Shemaia and Abtalion, who were presidents before them), but at first there were Hillell and Menahem, but Menahem went out, , "into the service of the king", with fourscore men clad in gold---Menahem was a very wise man, and a sort of a prophet, who delivered out many prophecies; and he told Herod when he was little, that he should reign; and after he was king, he sent for him, and he told him again, that he should reign more than thirty years, and he reigned thirty seven years, and he gave him great riches.''
Of this Menahem, and of his going into the king's service, mention is made elsewhere (a): now though this Menahem cannot be the same with Manaen here, yet this Manaen, as Dr. Lightfoot conjectures, might be the son of him, and called after his name; who might be brought up with the son of Herod the great, here called the tetrarch; and who was Herod Antipas, the same that beheaded John the Baptist: and Saul; who afterwards was called Paul.
(z) Juchasin, fol. 19. 1.((a) Misn. Chagiga, c. 2. sect. 2. & Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. & T. Bab. Chagiga, fol. 16. 2.
2As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
As they ministered to the Lord,.... That is, the five prophets and teachers before mentioned; and whose ministry lay in preaching the Gospel, teaching the people the doctrines of it, and expounding prophecies, and also in prayer; to which latter the Syriac version restrains their ministry, rendering it, "as they prayed to God"; but the phrase seems to be more extensive: "and fasted"; which the Jews were much used to, and the believing ones had not yet left it off; their custom was to fast on Mondays and Thursdays: See Gill on Luke 18:12. Whether it was on one of those days, that these men were ministering and fasting, is not certain; but this we may be sure of, it was not on the Jewish sabbath, for on that day they never fasted; very likely that this was a fast appointed and fixed among themselves, on some particular occasion; it may be on account of the famine, which was at this time, Acts 11:28.
The Holy Ghost said; either with an articulate voice, or by an internal impulse, upon the minds of three of the prophets:
separate me Barnabas and Saul, for the work whereunto I have called them; the work which the Holy Ghost had appointed, and called them to before this, was to go and preach the Gospel among the Gentiles, distinct from the Jews, of which we read in the latter part of this chapter; and now he would have them be separated from their brethren, as Aaron and his sons were from theirs, and be sent forth from hence directly, upon that work: this shows the Spirit to be a person, since speaking and commanding in an authoritative way, and calling to a work, are ascribed unto him; and that he is a divine person, and truly God, and equal with God, since calling to a sacred office is attributed to him; and a separation to it is ordered for himself, for his service, honour, and glory; he does not say separate them to the Lord, or to God, but to me.
3And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
And when they had fasted and prayed,.... Not when they had done fasting and praying, at the time the Holy Ghost made an impulse on their minds, to separate two of their brethren to a work they were appointed to; but at another time, which was fixed for that purpose; when they fasted and prayed, not for direction, who they were to set apart and send; for the persons were before pointed out to them, but that they might have every needful gift and qualification for the work, and be succeeded in it:
and laid their hands on them; not as ordaining them, for this was not an ordination; the Apostle Paul particularly was not ordained an apostle by man, but by Jesus Christ; who personally appeared to him, and made and ordained him his minister and apostle; and much less by men inferior to himself, as Simeon, Lucius, and Manaen were; but this was a gesture and ceremony used among the Jews, when they wished any blessing or happiness to attend any persons; and so these prophets, when they separated Paul and Barnabas from their company, and were parting from them, put their hands on them, and wished them all prosperity and success: could this be thought to be an ordination, as it cannot, since both of them were stated and authorized ministers of the word, and one of them an apostle long before this; there might seem some likeness between it and the Jewish ordination of elders, which was done by three (b), as here were Simeon, Lucius, and Manaen; but then this was not done without the land of Israel, as here, nor by imposition of hands (c): now when they had thus prayed for them, and wished them well, they sent them away; to do the work they were called unto; not in an authoritative way, but in a friendly manner they parted with them, and bid them farewell.
(b) Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 1. sect. 3.((c) Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. & Maimon. Hilchot Sanhedrin, c. 4. sect. 2, 3.
4So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.
So they being sent forth of the Holy Ghost,.... This is said, lest it should be thought they were sent by men; it was the Holy Ghost that moved the prophets at Antioch to separate them from them, and to send them away; and who inclined their minds to go, and directed them what course to steer: and accordingly they
departed to Seleucia; which was a city of Syria, called by Pliny, Seleucia Pieria (d); it had its name from Seleucus Nicanor, king of Egypt, who was the builder of it: it was not far from Antioch, it is said to be twenty four miles from it; it is the first city of Syria from Cilicia, and was situated at the mouth of the river Orontes; wherefore Saul and Barnabas made no stay here; and it seems that their coming hither was only in order to take shipping for the island of Cyprus; for Seleucia was upon the sea coast, as appears from:
"King Ptolemee therefore, having gotten the dominion of the cities by the sea unto Seleucia upon the sea coast, imagined wicked counsels against Alexander.'' (1 Maccabees 11:8)
and was the proper place to set sail from to Cyprus. So we read of Apollonius Tyaneus and his companions (e), that
"they went down to the sea by Seleucia, where having got a ship, "they sailed to Cyprus:" and so it follows here,''
and from thence they sailed to Cyprus; an island in the Mediterranean sea, the native country of Barnabas, Acts 4:36 See Gill on Acts 4:36.
(d) L. 5. c. 12, 21. (e) Philostrat. Vita Apollon. l. 3. c. 16.
5And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister.
And when they were at Salamis,.... A chief city of Cyprus; and so Herodotus (f) calls it Salamis of Cyprus; and in this island it is placed by Pliny (g) and Ptolomy (h): it was built by Teucer, the son of Telamon, after his return from the Trojan war; and so called by him, from his native country Salamine, in Greece, as is generally agreed by historians (i): it was the birth place of the famous philosopher Solon, who is from thence called Salaminius; he died in the island of Cyprus, in the eightieth year of his age; and before he died, gave orders to carry his bones to Salamis, and being reduced to ashes, to scatter them throughout the province (k): it was also claimed by the Cyprians, as the birth place of Homer, and is said (l) to be prophesied of that it should be; it was afterwards called Constantia, and now Famagusta, and is in the hands of the Turks; of it Jerom (m) thus writes:
"Salamis, a city in the island of Cyprus, now called Constantia, which, in the time of the Emperor Trajan, the Jews destroyed, having killed all the inhabitants of it:''
which shows what a multitude of Jews dwelt in this island, and even in this place; hence, in this verse, mention is afterwards made of synagogues of Jews in it, where the apostles preached, and which was the reason of their coming hither. This place, with the whole island, was taken from the Venetians by Mustapha, general to Selimus the Second, emperor of the Turks, in the year 1571, after a siege of eleven months; which, when he was possessed of, contrary to the agreement made, he put all the Christians to death; and having cut off the ears and nose of Bragadinus, the governor of it, took off his skin alive (n). Epiphanius, an ancient writer of the fourth century, famous for his books against heresies, was bishop of this place (o), when it was called Constantia, from Constantins Augustus, the emperor; and before him, we read of Gelasius, bishop of this place, who was in the council of Nice; there was a church here in the fifth century; and mention is made of a presbyter of it, in the sixth century, present at the fifth council at Constantinople; and in the seventh century, a bishop of this church was in the sixth council of Constantinople; and in the Nicene synod, in the "eighth" century, John, bishop of this place, assisted (p):
they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews; the Jews being in great numbers in these parts, to them the apostles first preached, though they were sent unto the Gentiles; and this they continued to do, till the Jews put away the Gospel, which made their way more clear and open to the Gentiles:
and they had also John to their minister: this was John Mark, whom they brought with them from Jerusalem, Acts 12:12 who waited upon them, and provided for them the necessaries of life; for this is not to be understood of the ministry of the word, which is peculiarly ascribed to them, or of his being an assistant to them in it; nor can it be understood of his being the minister in any of the synagogues for them, to bring out the book of the law, and direct public service, where it cannot be thought he should have any such office and authority; but of his ministering in civil and secular things to the apostles, or to the poor by their orders.
(f) L. 4. c. 162. (g) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 31. (h) Geograph. l. 5. c. 14. (i) Vellei Patercul. Hist. l. 1. in initio, Isocratis Evagoras, p. 375. Vid. Horat. Carmin. l. 1. ode 7. (k) Laert. Vit. Philosoph. l. 1. p. 30, 41. (l) Pausanias, l. 10. p. 656. (m) De locis Hebraicis, fol. 96. I.((n) Petav. Rational. Temp. par. 1. l. 9. c. 12. p. 507. (o) Epitaph. Paulae, fol. 58. K & Vita Hilarion. fol 82. M. (p) Magdeburg. Hist. Eccles. cent. 4. c. 2. p. 5. cent. 5. c. 2. p. 6. cent. 6. c. 2. p. 5. cent. 7. c. 2. p. 4. cent. 8. c. 2. p. 6.
6And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus:
And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos,.... The Alexandrian copy, and the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions read, "the whole isle"; for through the midst of the whole island they must go, to go from Salarnis to Paphos; for Salamis was on the east, and Paphos on the west of the islands (q): it had its name from the Phoenician word, , "peathpaoth", "the corner of corners"; because both old and new Paphos were situated in the extreme part of the island; and not from Paphus, the son of Pygmalion, by any ivory statue which he had made, whom Venus, at his request, according to the fables of the Heathens, turned into a woman: some say (r), that Cinyras, a king of the Assyrians, coming into Cyprus, built Paphos; but Pausanias (s) affirms, that Agapenor, who came hither after the Trojan war, was the builder of this place, and also of the temple of Venus in it, for which it was famous (t); and in a certain area of which, Pliny (u) says it never rained; and from this place, Venus was called Paphia: according to Chrysostom, it was the metropolis of Cyprus; and it is indeed mentioned by Pliny (w), first of the fifteen cities that were in it; and seems at this time to have been the seat of the Roman deputy Paulus Sergius, afterwards spoken of: concerning this place Jerom says (x),
"Paphus, a city on the sea coast, in the island of Cyprus, formerly famous for the sacred rites of Venus, and the verses of the poets; which fell by frequent earthquakes, and now only shows, by its ruins, what it formerly was:''
so Seneca (y) says, "quotiens in se Paphus corruit?", "how often has Paphus fell within itself?" that is, by earthquakes: the ruins of many goodly churches and buildings are to be seen in it; and the walls of a strong, and almost impregnable tower, situated upon a hill in the middle of the city, supposed to be the habitation of Sergius Paulus; there is also shown, under a certain church, a prison divided into seven rooms, where they say Paul and Barnabas were imprisoned, for preaching the Gospel; what remains of it, is now called Bapho: here
they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus, or the son of Jesus; Jesus was a name frequent among the Jews, and is the same with Joshua, and was in use long before our Saviour's time; there was Jesus the son of Sirach, the author of Ecclesiasticus, and who had a grandfather of the same name, the Syriac version here calls him "Barsuma", which some render "the son of a name"; that is, a man of note, a famous person, of great renown; others, "the son of a swelling", or "the son of ulcers"; he professing to be a physician, and to cure them, with which they make the name of Barjesus to agree, deriving it from a root, which signifies to heal: Jerom (z) pronounces this name Barieu, and observes, that some corruptly read it Barjesu; and he makes it to signify an evil man, or one in evil; and Drusius says, he found the name "Barjeou", in some papers of his; and a very learned man (a) of later years says, it is the same with Bar-Jehu, the son of Jehu; and affirms, that the Greek word is "Barjeus", which others wrongly turn into "Bar-jesus"; the Magdeburgensian Centuriators call him, "Elymas Barjehu"; the reason Beda gives, why it should be so read, and not Bar-jesus, is because that a magician was unworthy to be called the son of Jesus, the Saviour, when he was a child of the devil; but the Greek copies agree in Barjesus; his name shows him to be a Jew, as he is here called: and he was one of those false prophets our Lord said should arise, and deceive many; he pretended to foretell things to come, and practised sorcery, and was given to magic arts.
(q) Ptolom. Geograph. l. 5. c. 14. (r) Apollodorus de deorum orig. l. 3. p. 193. (s) Arcadica, sive l. 8. p. 461. (t) Philostrat. Vita Apollonii, l. 3. c. 16. (u) Nat. Hist. l. 2. c. 96. (w) Ib. l. 5. c. 31. (x) De locis Hebraicis, fol. 96. F. & Vita Hilarion, fol. 86. C. (y) Ephesians 91. (z) De nominibus Hebraicis, fol 105. 1.((a) Hileri Onomasticum Sacrum, p. 760.
7Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.
Which was with the deputy of the country, &c. Or the Roman governor of the island; who very likely dwelt at Paphos, it being a principal, if not the principal city in the island, since Pliny mentions it first of all the cities in it, as before observed: and with this governor, or proconsul, as the word signifies, or rather praetor, Bar-jesus was: either he lived with him, making great pretensions to knowledge and learning, which the governor might be a favourer of, or in quality of a physician; the Ethiopic version adds, "and he was a servant of the governor"; or he might be only with him occasionally and accidentally, just at that time, though the former seems most likely: and the name of this deputy was Sergius Paulus; the name of Paulus was common among the Romans; Pliny the younger speaks (b) of one Passienus Paulus, a famous Roman knight, and very learned, who wrote elegies; and Trajan (c), in an epistle to him, makes mention of Paulus the proconsul; and Pliny the older, among his authors from whom he compiled his history, cites one of this very name, Sergius Paulus (d). The island of Cyprus was at this time in the hands of the Romans, and this man was the governor of it; it was first inhabited by some of the sons of Japhet; Josephus (e) assigns it to Cittim: Cittim, he says,
"had the island Chetima, which now is called Cyprus; and from it all the islands, and most places about the sea, are called Chethim by the Hebrews; and as a proof of what I say, (adds he,) one of the cities in Cyprus still retains the name; for it is called Citium by those who have made it Greek, and not much differing from the name Chethimus.''
After the Trojan war, it came into the hands of the Grecians; and continued with them from the times of Teucer, until Evagoras and his son Nicocles; and then it fell into the hands of the Romans, and through them to the kings of Egypt; and after them became a Roman colony, in the following manner: Clodius Pulcher condemned Cyprus to the Roman people, to possess which Cato being sent, Ptolomy the king of the island, having cast his money into the sea, prevented the ignominy of it by a voluntary death, Anno U. C. 698 (f). The Roman historian says (g), Cyprus being conquered, the glory of it was not assigned to any, seeing it was made a province by the decree of the senate, by the means of Cato, through the death of the king, which he brought upon himself; and from that time, as Strabo says (h), it became a praetorian province, and was now governed by a praetor, though he is called a deputy, or proconsul; the reason of which Dr. Hammond thinks was, because that P. Lentulus, Ap. Claudius, and M. Cicero, being proconsuls of Cilicia, had the administration of Cyprus also granted to them by the senate; hence afterwards the governors of Cyprus were called proconsuls, or deputies. This same Greek word here used, is adopted by the Jewish Rabbins into their language; hence we read of "the deputy", or "proconsul" of Caesarea (i); which is explained by a governor, and a judge (k) or a third from the king (l); and it is refined in the Syriac version: this deputy is said to be a "prudent man". The Arabic version seems to distinguish Paul the prudent man, from Sergius the deputy, or tribune, as it calls him; reading the words thus, "who was by Sergius the tribune, with Paul a prudent man"; but Sergius and Paulus undoubtedly design one and the same man, who was prudent: he is said to be "a prudent man", in the management of his affairs, as a governor; and might be very learned, ingenious, and an understanding man; a man of great sagacity and penetration, who very likely saw through the vain pretensions, and impostures of Bar-jesus, and was desirous to expose him in a public manner; or at least might conclude he would be discovered and exposed by those good men, who were come into the city; and what follows seems to be mentioned as an instance of his prudence:
who called for Barnabas and Saul; sent messengers to them, to desire them to come to him; Barnabas is mentioned first, though the inferior person, because he was a native of the country, and might be best known:
and desired to hear the word of God; whether this was at first from mere curiosity, or from any political view, or from a true desire of knowing the way of life and salvation, which might be wrought in his soul by the Spirit of God, is not certain; though the latter seems most likely, since it issued in his conversion.
(b) L. 6. Ephesians 15. p. 139. (c) Ib. l. 10. Ephesians 68. p. 267. (d) Elenchos Hist. ex autoribus, l. 2. & 1. 18. (e) Antiqu. l. 1. c. 6. sect. 1.((f) Petav. Rationar. Temp. par. 1. l. 4. c. 18. p. 191. (g) Velleius Paterculus, l. 2.((h) Geograph. l. 14. p. 471. (i) T. Hieros. Beracot, fol. 9. 1. Midrash Kohelet, fol. 66. 3. & 82. 2.((k) Arnch apud Mattanot Cehuna in Midrash ib. (l) David de Pomis Lex, Heb. fol. 9. 2.
8But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.
But Elymas the sorcerer, for so is his name by interpretation,.... Not that Magus a sorcerer is by interpretation Elymas; as if Luke was interpreting the Persic word "Magus", which is sometimes used in a good sense, for a wise man, as in Matthew 2:1 by an Arabic word "Elim", which signifies knowing; but "Elymas" is the interpretation of his name "Bar-jesus"; which as that signifies the son of salvation, or of healing, so this, as De Dieu observes, may be derived from "Chalam", which signifies "to heal", or to be sound and in health. Junius thinks the name comes from the Arabic word which signifies "to mutter", as wizards and sorcerers, and such sort of men used to do; and though he rejects the opinion of Tremellius, taking it for an Hebrew name, and to be the same with "Elimaatz", which signifies "divine counsel"; yet this, or what is near to it, is embraced by a late learned man (m) who observes, that Elymas is in Hebrew, "Elmahatz"; the interpretation of which is, God's counsel, or the counsel of God; the name of a man, Maaz, is read in 1 Chronicles 2:27 and that it is the same with Elymoteros, as Olympas is the same with Olympiodorus; and he further observes, that Barjeus, as Jerom or Origen say it was anciently read, and not Bar-jesus, is the same with , "Barjeutz", or Barjeus, the "son of counsel", and so agrees with Elymas: now he
withstood them: Saul and Barnabas, just as Jannes and Jambres, the magicians of Egypt, withstood Moses: he did all he could to prevent their coming into the governor's house, and them from preaching to him, and him from hearing of them; and especially from giving heed to, and embracing the doctrines preached by them; which he opposed and argued against, with all the cunning and sophistry he was master of:
seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith; the doctrine of faith, from hearing and receiving it; and when he had received it, he endeavoured to set him against it, and cause him to deny and reject it with abhorrence; the Ethiopic version calls him "the king", as in the former verse "the prince".
(m) Hilleri Onomasticum Sacrum, p. 803.
9Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him,
Then Saul (who also is called Paul),.... He was called by both these names; as he was a Jew by birth, his parents called him Saul, that was his Jewish name, and by which he went among the Jews; and as he was a citizen of a Roman city, Tarsus in Cilicia, he went among the Romans, or Gentiles, by the name of Paul, a Roman name; and it was usual with the Jews to be called after this manner, that is, to have one name among themselves, and another among the Gentiles: it is a rule with them (n), that
"the Israelites out of the land, their names are as the names of the Gentiles;''
yea, their names differed in Judea and Galilee; a woman went by one name in Judea, and another in Galilee (o): and it is observable, that Luke calls the apostle by his Jewish name Saul, whilst he was among the Jews, and only preached among them; but now he is got among the Gentiles, and was about to appear openly to be their apostle, he all along hereafter calls him by his Gentile name Paul: though some think his name was changed upon his conversion, as it was usual with Jewish penitents to do; when a man repented of his sin, he changed his name (says Maimonides) (p),
"as if he should say, I am another, and not the man that did those (evil) works.''
So when Maachah, Asa's mother, or rather grandmother, was converted, or became right, she changed her name into Michaihu, the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah; that her former name might not be remembered, lest it should be a reproach unto her (q): though others think, that the apostle was so called, from Sergius Paulus the deputy, whose conversion he was the instrument of; and whose family might choose to call him so, because of the nearness in sound between the two names: others think he had his name Paul, or Paulus, from the smallness of his stature and voice, to which he seems to have some respect, in 2 Corinthians 10:10 and there is one Samuel the little, which the Jewish doctors often speak of, and who by some is taken to be the same with the Apostle Paul. This name is by Jerom, or Origen (r), interpreted "wonderful", as if it came from the Hebrew word "pala"; and others derive it from "paul", which signifies to work; and a laborious worker the apostle was, and a workman also which needed not to be ashamed; but since it is certain that Saul was his Hebrew name, it is most likely that this was a Gentile one, and not of Hebrew derivation: the first account of these names, and the reason of them, seems to be the best: now of him it is said,
that he was filled with the Holy Ghost; which does not design the gifts and graces of the Holy Ghost in general, with which he was always filled, and thereby qualified for his work as an apostle; but in particular, that he had by the Spirit, not only a discerning of the wickedness of this man, but of the will of God, to make him at this time a public example of divine wrath and vengeance, for his opposition to the Gospel: wherefore he
set his eyes on him; very earnestly, thereby expressing an abhorrence of him, and indignation against him, and as it were threatening him with some sore judgment to fall upon him.
(n) T. Hieros. Gittin, fol. 43. 2.((o) Ib. fol. 45. 3.((p) Hilchot Teshuva, c. 2. sect 4. (q) Targum in 2 Chronicles 15. 16. (r) De nominibus Hebraicis, fol. 106. H.
10And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?
And said, O full of all subtlety and all mischief,.... Which may have regard both to his general character as a sorcerer, and a false prophet; in acting up to which he used much deceit and cunning among the people, and did much mischief to them; to which there was a promptness and readiness in him, as the word used signifies; and also to the sophistry he used, and the mischief he endeavoured to do in seeking to turn the deputy from the faith. The minds of carnal men are vain and empty, and destitute of all that is good, and full of all that is evil: their character is,
filled with all unrighteousness, Romans 1:29. They have many of them a great deal of wit, but it is wicked wit, and they employ it in an evil and mischievous way, both to the hurt of themselves and others; they are like the old serpent, whose seed they are, who was more subtle than any beast of the field; they are wiser in their generation than the children of light; they are wise to do evil, though they have no knowledge of what is spiritually good; they are able to form very cunning and artful schemes, to commit sin, and do mischief; for all their craft and subtlety are used in such a way; nor can they sleep, or be easy in their minds, unless they are doing mischief.
Thou child of the devil; perhaps alluding to his name, that instead of Bar-Jesus, the son of a saviour, he should have been called Bar-Satan, the son of Satan, or Ben-Belial, a son of Belial. The phrase , "the firstborn of Satan", is used by the Jews, sometimes in a good sense, for one that is acute, sharp, and subtle, and that abides by his doctrine, and does his work (s): but here a child of the devil is used in an ill sense, for being like him in wicked cunning and subtlety; in like sense as the other phrase was used by Polycarp, whom Marcion the heretic met, and said unto him, know us; to whom Polycarp replied, I know thee, the firstborn of Satan (t): thou enemy of all righteousness; a wicked man is an enemy to all righteousness in every branch of it, in whatsoever light it may be considered: he is an enemy, yea, enmity itself against God the righteous being, and who is the fountain of all righteousness; he is an enemy to Jesus Christ the righteous, who is the Lord our righteousness; he is an enemy to that righteousness which he has wrought out; he is an enemy to all righteous persons, and hates their holy and righteous conversation; he is an enemy to the law, and cannot be subject to it, which is the rule of righteousness; and he is an enemy to the Gospel, which reveals the righteousness of God from faith to faith, and teaches men to live soberly, righteously, and godly; in short he is an enemy to all righteousness, moral and evangelical.
Wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? the doctrines and ordinances of Christ, in which he has directed his people to walk; which this man, through his sophistry and wickedness, in which he was industrious and indefatigable, endeavoured to render intricate and obscure, when they were plain, and straight, and easy. "For the ways of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them", Hosea 14:9 they are right, and it is becoming such to walk in them; they are plain to them that have a true knowledge of them, even wayfaring men, though fools shall not err in them; they are entirely consistent with the righteousness and holiness of God, and lead right on to eternal glory and happiness. Christ himself is the true way to eternal life, which is plainly pointed, and clearly directed to in the word of God, and by the ministers of the Gospel, who show unto men the way of salvation; the path of truth is fully described, and such things said of it as are very inviting to walk in it; and good men cannot but choose and delight to walk in it, when led into it by the Spirit of truth: Wisdom's ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths of peace; even all the paths of duty and worship, the ways of righteousness and holiness; but wicked men seek to pervert these ways, to give a false account of them, to set them in a wrong light, and represent them not only as rough and troublesome, but as dangerous, and leading to ruin; and do all they can to hinder persons from entering into them, and to cause those to stumble who are in them; nor will they cease acting this wicked part; they are continually at work to make the ways of Christ odious, to set people against them, to discourage from walking in them by their opposition to them, the false glosses they put upon them, and by their scoffs and jeers at those that walk in them, and by their violent persecutions of them, when it is in their power.
(s) T. Hieros. Yebamot, fol. 3. 1. & T. Rab. Yebamot, fol. 16, 1. & Juchasin, fol. 14. 1. & 55. 1.((t) Irenaeus adv. Haeres. l. 3. c. 3.
11And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.
And now behold the hand of the Lord is upon thee,.... That is, the power of God was just ready to be exerted on him in a way of punishment, by striking him with blindness:
and thou shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a season: so blind as not to see the sun, when it shined ever so brightly: this punishment seems to be but for a time; and some say that Elymas repented, and had his sight restored to him; and after that he returned to his sorcery, and again greatly opposed Barnabas in the island of Cyprus:
and immediately there fell on him a mist and darkness; as soon as ever the apostle had said the above words, a dark mist fell upon his eyes, which began the blindness, and issued in a total one:
and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand; he groped about the room, if he could find, and lay hold on some person to lead him: for he was quickly stone blind, so that he could not guide himself, as the men of Sodom were, when smitten with blindness by the angel; wherefore, though they groped about for the door of the house till they were weary, they could not find it, Genesis 19:11 of which the Jews say, as here, that it was , "a stroke from God" (u). Blind men need one to hold them by the hand, and lead them, as Samson, Judges 16:26 and Saul, Acts 9:8. The striking this man with blindness is an instance of the power the apostles were endued with, for the punishing of offenders: so Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead for telling a lie: and the incestuous person was delivered to Satan to undergo a corporeal punishment for his incest; as Hymenaeus and Alexander were for their blasphemy, Acts 5:5.
(u) Tzeror Hammor, fol. 20. 3.
12Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.
Then the deputy, when he saw what was done,.... That Elymas was struck with blindness immediately, and that the hand of God was manifestly in it, and there was no juggle nor magic art in the case; it was a plain fact, which was certain and visible:
he believed; in the Lord Jesus Christ, whom the apostle preached:
being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord: both at what was contained in it: for there are many astonishing things in the doctrine of faith; as the birth of Christ of a virgin; the union of the two natures, divine and human, in his person; salvation through his crucifixion and death, and the resurrection of the dead, with others: and also at the miracles which attended this doctrine, and confirmed it; though the Alexandrian copy reads the words thus, "being astonished, he believed in the doctrine of the Lord"; which affords a very easy and natural sense, as that being filled with admiration at the striking of Elymas with blindness, he was induced to believe the doctrine of Christ, preached by Paul and Barnabas, and so the Ethiopic version renders it, "he wondered, and believed in our Lord": and Beza's ancient copy, and others read, "he wondered and believed in God". This deputy we hear no more of afterwards; there is no reason to believe that he quitted his government of this island; though some pretend to say that he did, and followed the Apostle Paul, and went with him into Spain; and that he was left by him at Narbonne in Languedoc in France, and became bishop of that place; which office he held till his death. And though we read of no more converted at this time in Paphos, yet it is highly probable there were others, and that a foundation of a Gospel church state was laid in this place, even though Heathenism still continued. The temple of Venus remained in this place in the "second" century; and in the "fourth" century Venus was worshipped here; yet in the beginning of the "fourth" century, in the council of Nice, Cyril, bishop of Paphos, was present; and in the "fifth" century, a bishop of this place was at the synod of Chalcedon: and in the "eighth" century, Michael, bishop of Taphos, was in the Nycene synod (w). Jerom (x) makes mention of Hilarion, an eminent servant of Christ, who was for some time at Paphos, in the fourth century, and of the many miraculous cures he wrought here; but of the church here, or of any number of believers in Christ, he takes no notice, only of one Hesychius, a disciple; though it is certain there must be a church at this time, as before observed.
(w) Magdeburg. Hist. Eccles. cent. 2. c. 15. p. 193. cent. 4. c. 2. p. 5. c. 15. p. 865. cent. 5. c. 2. p. 6. cent. 8. c. 2. p. 6. (x) Vita Hilarion. fol. 86. C.
13Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.
Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos,.... Which was upon the sea coast: so Jerom (y) says, that Paphos was "urbs maritima", a city on the sea coast of the island of Cyprus; it was on the western part of the island, to the west of which lay the sea of Pamphylia, over which the apostle, and his company, sailed to the place next mentioned, which was in Pamphylia; and so Apollonius Tyaneus (z), having got a ship at Seleucia, is said to sail to Paphos in Cyprus; and from hence the apostle, and those that were with him, set sail; and as the Syriac version renders it, "went by sea", or "through the sea"; that is, of Pamphylia; of which mention is made in Acts 27:5.
They came to Perga in Pamphylia which country was before called Mopsopia; See Gill on Acts 2:10 which now, with Cilicia, is called Caramania; and among the cities and towns in it, both Pliny (a) and Ptolomy (b) make mention of Perga; where was a famous temple of Diana, whence she was sometimes called Pergea (c); and every year a great feast was kept here in honour of her: it was the birth place of Apollonius, a very famous geometrician, who wrote eight books of conic sections, four of which are now extant (d); and who, from his native place, is called Apollonius Pergaeus (e). It was situated between two great rivers, Oestros and Catarctes (f); and since "Parag", in the eastern languages, signifies "to delight", perhaps it might be so called from its delightful situation. Hilleras (g) observes, Pargi (or rather Perage), as is the word in the Syriac version of Matthew 23:37 with the Syrians signifies the young of birds, as of hens and doves; and so do Pargiia, Pargiot, and Perigin, with the Jewish Rabbins (h); which writer seems to suggest, that this place was so called from the multitude of fowls that were about it.
And John departing from them returned to Jerusalem; that is, John Mark, whom Paul and Barnabas took with them, and who was a minister to them: but what was the reason of his departure, whether for the sake of seeing his mother at Jerusalem; or because he did not like, but grew weary of the travels, labours, and fatigues of the apostle, and his company; or did not choose to go among the Gentiles, is not certain: however, his departure was resented by Paul; and it laid a foundation for a sharp contention between him and Barnabas, who was uncle to this John Mark, Acts 15:38 from whence it appears that it was not at Paphos in Cyprus, but at Perga in Pamphilia, that he left them, by which the mistake of some interpreters on this text must be corrected.
(y) De locis Hebraicis, fol. 96. F. (z) Philostrat. Vit. Apollon. l. 3. c. 16. (a) Nat. Hist, l. 5. c. 27. (b) Geograph. l. 5. c. 5. (c) Pompon. Mela, l. 1. c. 14. (d) Vid. Fabricii Bibliothec. Graec. l. 3. c. 22. sect. 17, 18, 19. (e) Vitruvius de Architectura, l. 1. c. 1.((f) Mela, ut supra. (Pompon. Mela, l. 1. c. 14.) (g) Onomasticum Sacrum, p. 906. (h) T. Bab Beracot, fol. 39. 1. & Bava Metzia, fol. 24. 2. Bereshit Rabba, sect. 17, fol. 14. 2. Midrash Echa Rabbati, fol. 43. 1.
14But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down.
But when they departed from Perga,.... Where they seemed not to make any long stay; nor is there any account of what they did there; though it is certain here was a church of Christ in after times, and very likely planted by the apostles; for after this Paul and Barnabas preached the word in this place, Acts 14:25 and no doubt with success. In the third century there were martyrs of this church at Perga, which suffered under the Emperor Decius; and in the, fourth century, we read of a famous church in this place, over which Jovinian was bishop or pastor; and in the "fifth" century there was a church here, whose bishop is mentioned in the catalogue of bishops who assisted in the first council at Ephesus; and, in the same century, the church of this place was the metropolitan church of Pamphilia; and, in the "sixth" century, one Epiphanius was bishop of Perga; and, in the "seventh" century, it is spoken of as the metropolitan of Pamphilia; and, in the "eighth" century, we read of Sisinnius as bishop of it (i); so far down can we trace Christianity in this city.
They came to Antioch in Pisidia; so called to distinguish it from Antioch of Syria, from whence they were sent, Acts 13:1 and so this place is called Antioch of Pisidia by Ptolomy (k); and also from another Antioch in Mygdania, before called Nisibis, as Pliny (l) observes, and which is the Antioch in the Apocrypha:
"Afterward departed he in all haste, and returned unto Antiochia, where he found Philip to be master of the city: so he fought against him, and took the city by force.'' (1 Maccabees 6:63)
"Heard that Philip, who was left over the affairs in Antioch, was desperately bent, confounded, intreated the Jews, submitted himself, and sware to all equal conditions, agreed with them, and offered sacrifice, honoured the temple, and dealt kindly with the place,'' (2 Maccabees 13:23)
concerning which Josephus (m) has these words; Nisibis is the name of the country, and in it formerly the Macedonians built Antioch, which they called Mygdonia. Pisidia was a province of Asia; it had Pamphilia on the north, Lycaonia on the east, and Phrygia Pacatiana on the west; and it is mentioned together with Phrygia, Lycaonia, and Pamphilia by Pliny (n): and this Antioch in it, is, by the same writer, called Caesarea (o): his words are, the Pisidians have their seat upon the top (of the valley) formerly called Solymi, whose colony is Caesarea, the same with Antioch. This is the Antioch to which Paul and Barnabas came, when they went from Perga, where were many Jews, and who had a synagogue in it: we read before, in Acts 2:9 of devout Jews that came to Jerusalem, whose native places were Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphilia, to which Pisidia was near: wherefore it follows, and
went into the synagogue on the sabbath day; for though the ceremonial law was abrogated by the death of Christ, it still was observed by the Jews, who had their synagogues open on that day for religious service; wherefore Paul and Barnabas took the opportunity of going in when they were assembled together, in order to preach Christ to them, not having a convenient time on other days:
and sat down: on one of the seats in the synagogue; either as hearers of the law and prophets, which were read every sabbath day in the synagogues; or else to teach the word, expound the Scriptures, and preach the Gospel of Christ, it being usual to sit when this was done; See Gill on Matthew 5:1 and both were true, for they heard a part of the law and prophets read, according to the custom of the Jews; see the following verse, and Acts 15:21 and they also gave a word of exhortation to the people.
(i) Magdeburg. Hist. Eccles. cent. 3. c. 2. p. 2. cent. 4. c. 2. p. 3. cent. 5. c. 2. p. 3, 418. cent. 6. c. 2. p. 3. cent. 7. p. 3, 112, cent. 8. c. 2. p. 4. (k) L. 5. c. 4. (l) Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 13. (m) Antiqu. l. 20. c. 3. sect. 3.((n) Antiqu. l. 5. c. 32. & l. 6. c. 34. & Solin Polyhistor. c. 53. & 57. (o) Plin. ib. l. 5. c. 27.
15And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.
And after the reading of the law and the prophets,.... Which was done every sabbath day, Acts 15:21 The five books of Moses, which are meant by the law, were divided into sections: Genesis was divided into twelve, Exodus into eleven, Leviticus into ten, Numbers into ten, and Deuteronomy into ten, which in all make fifty three sections: and so by reading one on each sabbath, and two on one day, they read through the whole law in the course of a year, and which they finished at the close of the feast of tabernacles; and that day was called "the rejoicing of the law"; it was a day of rejoicing, that the law was read through. Some make fifty four sections, and then two of them must be read together, on two sabbath days, to finish the whole in the year. In some synagogues the section was divided into three parts, and so they finished the law in three years; but this custom was less common (p). The custom of reading the law, the Jews say, was one hundred and seventy years before the time of Jesus Christ; though some say the division of the law, into sections, was made by Ezra; and others refer it to Moses himself: it is certain it obtained in the times of Christ and his apostles, as did also the reading of the prophets, and which was introduced in this way, and upon this account. When Antiochus Epiphanes burnt the book of the law, and forbad the reading of it, the Jews in the room of it selected some passages out of the prophets, which they thought came nearest in words and sense to the sections of the law, and read them in their stead; and when the law was restored again, they still continued the reading of the prophetic sections; and the section for the day was called "the dismission", because usually the people were dismissed upon it, unless anyone stood up, and preached or expounded the word of God unto the people: hence the following message and address to the apostles,
the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them; that is, those who were the principal men in the synagogue, the ruler of it, together with the elders; for there was but one ruler in a synagogue; See Gill on Matthew 9:18 though there were more elders; and so the Syriac version here renders it, "the elders of the synagogue"; but it may be asked, why should they send to the apostles? how did they know that they were teachers, being strangers? this they might conclude from their outward appearance, their gravity and solidity; for as for habit or dress there was no distinction; or from their sitting down when they came into the synagogue, which was the custom of teachers; or they might have had some knowledge of them, and conversation with them, before they came into the synagogue; for it cannot be reasonably thought that they admitted anyone, whether they knew him or not, to teach in their synagogues:
saying, ye men and brethren: which was the common style of the Jews, they used in addresses, and especially to their own countrymen, as they might perceive Paul and Barnabas were; see Acts 2:29.
if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on; the sense is, if they were prepared to preach, or had anything upon their minds to say to the people; or if they had, as it is in the original text, "any word of exhortation or comfort" in them, as they had indeed a rich treasure in their earthen vessels, they had leave and liberty to speak it to the people. "A word of exhortation" designs any doctrine that might be for instruction and comfort, and this was agreeably to the practice of the Jews. For it is said (q).
"on the sabbath day, , "they preach a sermon", or expound to housekeepers (or masters of families), who are employed in business all the days of the week; and in the midst of the sermon they teach them the traditions, concerning what is forbidden, and what is lawful; and it is better for them to hear than to read in the Hagiographa;''
which books they did not read publicly, as is said in the same place, only the law and the prophets; with the latter of which they dismissed the people, unless a sermon was preached; and which, when done, was chiefly for the sake of the common people, men and women: and it is said (r), that
"the women, and the people of the earth (or the common people), come to hear the sermon, and the preachers ought to draw out their hearts;''
speak out their whole mind, and deliver all they know that may be instructive and profitable.
(p) Maimon. Hilchot Tephilla, c. 13. sect. 1. Benjamin Itinerar. p. 114, 115. (q) Gloss. in T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 115. 1.((r) Ib. fol. 30. 2.
16Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.
Then Paul stood up,.... Not so much that he might be heard; or merely out of reverence and respect to the rulers, and the people; but to show that he accepted the invitation; as also in order to take his proper place in the synagogue, and sit down and teach, as was their custom:
and beckoning with his hand; to the people to be silent, and attend to what he had to say:
said, men of Israel; by whom are meant the proper Jews, the natural descendants of Jacob, whose name was Israel; this was accounted a very honourable character, and was a common form of address; see Acts 2:22
and ye that fear God; not as distinguishing some among the Israelites from the rest, as if there were some of them that did not fear God; for by these are meant, not Jews by birth, but proselytes, devout and religious men from among the Gentiles; who were proselyted to the Jewish religion, and attended with them in their synagogues on religious worship; and that there were such in this synagogue, is certain from Acts 13:43 and we find that sometimes the Jews distinguish the proselytes from the Israelites by this very character (s): it is said, Psalm 128:1
"blessed is everyone that feareth the Lord, that walketh in his ways; he does not say blessed are the Israelites, blessed are the priests, blessed are the Levites, but blessed is everyone that feareth the Lord; "these are the proselytes, for they fear the Lord"--of what proselyte is it "said blessed?" of the proselyte who is a proselyte of righteousness, and not of the Cuthites, of whom it is written, 2 Kings 17:33 but of a proselyte who fears the Lord, and walks in his ways;''
so Psalm 22:23 are interpreted by many Jewish writers (t). Now to both these sort of persons, both to the proper Jews, and to the proselytes of righteousness, the apostle addresses himself, and desires they would give audience to what he had to say; which is as follows.
(s) Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 8. fol. 190. 4. (t) Midrash Tillim, Jarchi, & Aben Ezra, in loc.
17The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it.
The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers,.... Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their seed after them, to be a peculiar people to himself; wherefore he is often, as here, styled their God, and whom he distinguished and blessed with many blessings, civil and religious, above all people upon the face of the earth. The apostle seems particularly to address himself to the Gentiles, the inhabitants of Antioch, and the proselytes of righteousness, now in the synagogue, Acts 13:42 and, as it were, with his finger pointed to the native Jews present, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, a part of the people whose God the Lord was:
and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt as they did for many years, and as the Lord foretold to Abraham they should, Genesis 15:13 This refers either to the great honour and dignity Joseph was advanced unto, and to the favours and privileges bestowed on Jacob and his family at the first of their sojourning in that land; or to the great increase of their posterity towards the close of it, even when they were the most oppressed and afflicted.
And with an high arm he brought them out of it out of the land of Egypt, and out of their oppression in it; which was owing to, and was a wonderful display of his mighty power and great strength here expressed by an "high arm" for nothing short of that could have wrought deliverance for them.
18And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness.
And about the time of forty years,.... From their coming out of Egypt, to their entrance into the land of Canaan:
suffered he their manners in the wilderness; which were very perverse and provoking; as their murmuring for water, their rebellion against Moses and Aaron, their idolatry and the ill report brought on the good land by their spies; and yet the Lord fed them, and led them, and kept them as the apple of his eye: some think the true reading is "he bore", or "fed them", as a nurse bears and feeds her children; and so the Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions render it, "he nourished them"; rained manna, and gave them quails from heaven, and furnished a table for them in the wilderness: and indeed, though there were instances of God's patience and forbearance with them, yet certain it is, that as he was tempted and proved by them, so he was grieved with them during the forty years in the wilderness; and often let fall his vengeance upon them, by cutting off great numbers of them; and even the carcasses of all that generation that came out of Egypt fell in the wilderness; nor did any of them enter into the land of Cannan, but Joshua and Caleb.
19And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot.
And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan,.... The Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, Jebusites, and Girgashites; and the name of seven nations is what they are usually called by in Jewish writings; and though they were not utterly destroyed, or everyone of them put to death, or driven out, for some remained to be thorns in the sides of the Israelites; yet they were so wasted and conquered, that they could never recover any more: he divided their land to them; every tribe had its portion of it assigned, by lot; see Joshua 14:1.
20And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.
And after that he gave unto them judges,.... As Othniel, Ehud, Deborah, Gideon, Abimelech, Tola, Jair, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon, Samson, and Eli:
about the space of four hundred and fifty years; not that from the division of the land of Canaan among the tribes, to Samuel the prophet, was such a space of years; for from the coming of the children of Israel out of Egypt, to the year that Solomon began to build the temple, were but four hundred and fourscore years, 1 Kings 6:1 and out of these must be taken the forty years the children of Israel were in the wilderness, and seven years in subduing the land of Canaan, before the division of it, which reduce this number to four hundred and thirty and three; and from hence must be deducted the time of Samuel's judging Israel, the reigns of Saul and David, and three years of Solomon's, which reduced the years of the judges to less than four hundred years; and according to some, the years of the judges were three hundred and fifty seven; and according to others, three hundred and thirty nine, and both fall short of the space of years here assigned. The Alexandrian copy and the Vulgate Latin version read this clause in connection with the preceding words, "he divided their land unto them, about the space of four hundred years, and after that he gave unto them judges"; agreeably hereunto the Ethiopic version renders it, "and after four hundred and fifty years, he set over them governors, &c". So that this account respects not the time of the judges, or how long they were, but refers to all that goes before, and measures out the space of time from God's choice of the Jewish fathers, to the division of the land of Canaan: and reckoning from the birth of Isaac, when the choice took place, and in whom Abraham's seed was called, there was much about such a number of years; for from the birth of Isaac to the birth of Jacob, were sixty years; from thence to his going down into Egypt, an hundred and thirty years; and from thence to the Israelites coming out of Egypt, two hundred and ten years; and from thence to their entrance into the land of Canaan, forty years; and from that time to the division of the land, seven years, which in all make four hundred and forty seven years: so that, according to this account, there were three years wanting of the sum in the text; hence the apostle might with great propriety say, that it was about the space of so many years. It follows,
until Samuel the prophet; the meaning of which, is not that there was such a space of time as before mentioned, from the distribution of the land of Canaan until the times of Samuel the prophet, during which space judges were given; but that after that term of time was expired, God gave them judges, or raised up one after another, until Samuel the prophet, who was the last of them: of his character as a prophet; see Gill on Acts 3:24 and which is a title frequently given him by Jewish writers (u).
(u) Maimon. Cele Hamikdash, c. 4. sect. 3.
21And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years.
And afterward they desired a king,.... 1 Samuel 8:5 which the Jews (w) say, was in the tenth year of Samuel; that is, of his government over Israel, or of his judging them:
and God gave unto them Saul; whose name signifies one that is asked; he was
the son of Cis; so the Septuagint read and pronounce the word "Kish", the name of Saul's father, 1 Samuel 9:1 a man of the tribe of Benjamin; not of Judah, from whence the sceptre was not to depart till Shiloh came; the business of their asking a king being resented by God, he gives them their first king of another tribe:
by the space of forty years. The Jews are very much divided about the years of Saul's reign, some allow him but two years (x), and others three, one year that he reigned with Samuel, and two by himself (y), which they conclude from 1 Samuel 13:1 but others (z) think this too short a time for the things done by him, the wars he fought with many nations, and his persecution of David from place to place; wherefore others (a) allow him, some seventeen, and others twenty years; but our apostle ascribes forty years to him, which must be understood both of him and Samuel; with which Josephus (b) agrees, who says that he reigned eighteen years, during Samuel's life, and twenty two years after his death, which make the space of forty years fixed by the apostle; though the clause, "by the space of forty years", may be read in construction with the latter end of the preceding verse, until Samuel the prophet; who, the Jews (c) own, judged so many years: wherefore the apostle is not to be charged with an error, as he is by a Jewish (d) objector; who observes, that from the beginning of Saul's kingdom, or from the time that he was anointed by Samuel the prophet, until the kingdom was renewed to him by all Israel, was one year, and then Saul chose three thousand men out of Israel after that he reigned two years by the consent of all Israel, until he sinned in the business of the Amalekites, and then he was accounted as a dead man, and the years of his reign were not numbered; at which time David was anointed, who must be about twenty years of age, 1 Samuel 16:18 and yet when he came to the kingdom after the death of Saul, he was but thirty years of age, 2 Samuel 5:4 from whence he thinks it follows that Saul reigned but ten years: in all which he is guilty of several mistakes, and advances things he cannot prove; it was not after Saul had reigned one year, but after he had reigned two years, that he chose three thousand men out of Israel, as is expressly said, 1 Samuel 13:1 and that he had reigned but two years when he sinned in the case of the Amalekites, wants proof; nor is it evident that David was twenty years of age when he was anointed, for it was after his unction that he is said to be a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, 1 Samuel 16:18 nor indeed can it be said in what year of Saul's reign he was anointed; so that nothing can be concluded from the age David was at when he began to reign, concerning the years of the reign of Saul his predecessor; and even according to this man's own reckoning, he must reign thirteen years, one before the consent of all Israel, two after, and before his sin about the Amalekites, and ten from the time of David's unction: but that Saul must reign more years than these, and even as many as the apostle assigns to him, may be concluded, not only from his wars with many nations, and his long persecution of David before observed; but from the number of high priests which were in his time, and who were no less than three, Ahiah, Abimelech, and Abiathar, 1 Samuel 14:3 and from his being a young man when he began to reign, 1 Samuel 9:2 and yet at the end of his reign, or at his death, he had a son, Ishbosheth, that was forty years of age, 2 Samuel 2:10.
(w) T. Bab. Nazir, fol. 5. 1. & Temura, fol. 14. 2.((x) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 13. p. 37. Juchasin, fol. 11. 1. Kabbala, R. Abraham, &c. (y) T. Bab. Temura, fol. 15. 1.((z) R. Levi ben Gersom & R. Isaiah in 1 Samuel 13.1.((a) Shalsheleth Hakabala, fol. 8. 1.((b) Antiqu. l. 6. c. 14. sect. 9. (c) Midrash Tillim apud Broughton's Works, p. 599. Vid. Viccarsium, in Psal xcix. 6. (d) R. Isaac Chizzuk Emuna, par. 2. c. 67. p. 453, 454.
22And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.
And when he had removed him,.... Either by death, or rejected him from being king while he was living; 1 Samuel 15:23
he raised up unto them David to be their king; who was of the tribe of Judah, and who was raised from a very mean condition, from keeping of sheep, to sit upon the throne of Israel:
to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David; a type of the Messiah; he chose him to be king, sent Samuel to anoint him, and at length set him on the throne: the apostle adds, as a further account of him,
the son of Jesse; who lived at Bethlehem, where the Messiah was to be born, and who was a person of no great note and figure in Israel; and this is mentioned as an illustration of the distinguishing goodness of God to David. It follows,
a man after mine own heart; on whom the heart of God was set, and who had an interest in his heart's love, and to whom he was exceeding grateful and acceptable; God took great delight and pleasure in him, in the general course of his life, and in his principles, aims, and designs; he was as he would have him to be:
which shall fulfil all my will; in governing the people, subduing their enemies, settling the order of divine worship and service, and preparing things for the building of the temple; and who also had a regard to all the commandments of God, and walked in them, though he was not without his sins and infirmities: now these words are not to be found together in anyone passage, as they might be thought to be from the manner in which they are produced, they being cited as a testimony delivered by the Lord, saying these concerning David; but where? the first part of them, "I have found David", is expressed in Psalm 89:20 and yet the passage there seems to have respect to David's antitype; and to be understood not literally of David, but mystically and typically of Christ, David's son, with whom the whole psalm agrees; rather therefore this is implied in 1 Samuel 13:14 where also the next words, "a man after mine own heart", are to be met with; where it is thus expressed, though not by the Lord, but by Samuel; "the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart"; and as he sought one, so he found one, which was his servant David; but then what follows, is not recorded there nor any where else, in express terms, concerning David, "which shall fulfil all my will"; what comes nearest to them, are the words of the Lord to Cyrus, Isaiah 44:28 "and shall perform all my pleasure"; and Cocceius is of opinion, that the above words are taken from hence by the apostle, and applied to David, because of his concern in the building of the temple; his heart was set upon it, and he made great preparations for it according to the will of God, and did fulfil all it was the pleasure of God he should, respecting this affair; upon the whole, the apostle seems not to have any reference to anyone particular passage of Scripture, bearing a testimony to David's character, but to what is to be collected from them in general, as a divine testimony in favour of him.
23Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus:
Of this man's seed hath God, according to his promise,.... In 2 Samuel 7:12 raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus; even Jesus of Nazareth, whose name signifies a Saviour, who is the son of David, according to the flesh; the word "Jesus" is left out in some copies, and so it is in the Syriac and Ethiopic versions, which only read, "salvation" or "redemption"; the Alexandrian copy, and the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions, read, "he hath brought forth unto Israel", &c. the sense is, that as God had promised that the Messiah should spring out of David's loins, so in the fulness of time he had sent him, or caused him to come by the assumption of human nature, or by taking flesh of a virgin, who was of the house and lineage of David; and who was sent, and came first to the people of Israel, though they for the most part slighted and rejected him; however, he was raised up for the mystical Israel of God, all the elect, whether Jews or Gentiles; and that to be the Saviour of them, from sin, Satan, and the law, and every enemy, with a spiritual and eternal salvation, and that both of body and soul; and a very able, willing, and suitable Saviour he is, as well as a perfect and complete one. This Saviour, Jehovah, in his infinite wisdom, found, and in his purposes appointed him to be his salvation, and in his covenant provided and settled him as such; and in the prophecies of the Old Testament spoke of him as the Saviour and Redeemer of his people; and in the fulness of time sent him, and raised him up of David's seed, according to his promise to him. The first promise of a Saviour was made to our first parents, under the character of the seed of the woman; he was next promised to Abraham, that he should be of his seed; and then to Judah, that he should be of his tribe; and after that to David, that he should be of his family; and all this has been fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth, the true Messiah, who is sometimes called David and David's son. Now it was for the sake of this, that the apostle begins with the choice of the Jewish fathers, and relates so many favours bestowed upon the people of Israel; his view was to lead on to observe this special mercy promised them, and now fulfilled, on which he intended to enlarge in his discourse, as follows.
24When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.
When John had first preached before his coming,.... Or, "before the face of his entrance"; that is, on his public ministry; for John did not preach before the coming of Christ in the flesh, being born but half a year before him; but before he came forth and was manifest to Israel; before he entered upon his work and office, as a prophet and teacher of the people: and this points out the business of John the Baptist, who was the forerunner of Christ, and went before his face to prepare his way, who gave notice of his coming, and bore testimony to him; and whose testimony the apostle here produces, as being what the Jews could not well reject and deny, he being of so much probity and integrity, and so great a prophet, as he was accounted by all the people; and whom he prepared for the reception of the Messiah, by first preaching;
the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel: he not only administered the ordinance of baptism, but he preached the doctrine of it, opened the nature and design of it, and required repentance and fruits meet for it, in those who came to have it administered to them: for which reason it is called the baptism of repentance; and this he did publicly before all the people, when the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, came unto him; see Mark 1:4.
25And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose.
And as John fulfilled his course,.... Or race, the work of the ministry he was called to; as he was preaching and baptizing, which were the race set before him to run, and in which he ran well; he made full proof of his ministry. The life of every Christian is a race, and especially of a minister of the Gospel, and which requires strength, courage, agility, patience, and perseverance; this world is the place in which they run; and this is only the running time; in heaven they will sit down on the throne with Christ; the way in which they run, is the way of their duty, the way of God's commandments; the mark they have in view, which they keep their eye on, and to which they direct their course, is Christ; and glory is the incorruptible crown they run for, and which, when they have finished their course, will be given them by the chief shepherd and righteous judge; see 2 Timothy 4:7 and this is to be understood, not of the end of John's race, or ministry, but rather of the beginning of it; for it was then, he said,
whom think ye that I am? I am not he; that is the Messiah. The apostle seems to refer to John 1:19 when the Jews asked him who he was, and he freely declared he was not the Christ; there the question is put by them to him, here by him to them; doubtless the questions were put by both; however the sense is the same, that he was not the Messiah, but he bore testimony to him that was:
but behold there cometh one after me; meaning Jesus, who was the Messiah, and who when John spoke these words, was coming after him from Galilee to Jordan to be baptized by him, and who in a little while after that came forth in the public ministry of the word: John was to come forth first, and then Jesus after him, because he was the harbinger of the Messiah, whose coming he was to proclaim and prepare men for, and whose person he was to point out; for though he is said to be after him, he was not in any sense inferior to him: John was born into the world before Christ, as man, was born, yet he as the eternal Son of God was before John, was from the beginning, even from eternity; John entered on the office of his ministry before him, but Christ was not below him; as not in the dignity of his person, so neither in the nature and excellency of his office; and John takes care to secure the honour and glory of Christ, and to prevent any low opinion that might be entertained of him from what he had said, by adding,
whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose; suggesting hereby, that he was unworthy to be his servant, to perform the meanest part of service for him that could be thought of; so far was he from assuming any preference to him on account of his being before him, as his forerunner; see Matthew 3:11. See Gill on Matthew 3:11. See Gill on John 1:27.
26Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.
Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham,.... This address is made to them in the synagogue, who were Jews by birth, and in a form very grateful and pleasing; he calls them "men", perhaps not only from the common nature of mankind in them, but because they took this name peculiarly to themselves, and denied it to the nations of the world; and which they gather from Ezekiel 34:31 and he styles them "brethren", because they were his countrymen; and "children of the stock of Abraham", with respect to their lineage and descent, and of which they gloried:
and whosoever among you feareth God; these were the proselytes among them; See Gill on Acts 13:16.
to you is the word of this salvation sent; meaning either the Lord Jesus Christ himself, the essential and eternal "Logos", or word of God, and whom the Syriac and Ethiopic versions here style, "the word of life", as in 1 John 1:1 who is the author of salvation, and who was in the first place sent unto the Jews; or rather the Gospel, which gives an account of the author of spiritual and eternal salvation, of his person, and of his manner of obtaining it, and of the nature of salvation, and who the persons are to whom it belongs. The Gospel is not a proposal of terms, by complying with which men may be saved, as faith, repentance, and good works, which are not terms of salvation, but either blessings, parts or fruits of it; but it is a declaration of salvation itself, as being a thing done by Christ; it declares him to be the alone able, willing, and all sufficient Saviour, and the salvation he has wrought out to be a great one, complete, spiritual, and everlasting; and that those that believe in him shall be saved with it. It is the word preaching salvation by him, showing, that he has wrought out an everlasting righteousness for the justification of his people; hence it is sometimes called the word of righteousness; and that he has made peace and reconciliation by the blood of his cross, for which reason it is styled the word of reconciliation; and that eternal life is in him, and by him, and therefore it is called the word of life: for the salvation it publishes includes all the blessings of grace, and everlasting glory, and happiness; it is the means of applying the salvation it declares; the Spirit of God comes by it, who, whilst it is preaching, falls upon, and conveys himself into the hearts of men: regeneration is ascribed to the word of truth; faith comes by hearing; and sanctification is promoted and increased by it, as an instrument; and after men believe in it, they are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise; all which shows what a wonderful blessing the Gospel is: and this was now sent not to the Jews only, though to them in the first place, but to the Gentiles also; the Alexandrian copy, in the two last clauses, instead of "you", reads "us".
27For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him.
For they that dwelt at Jerusalem, and their rulers,.... The inhabitants of that city, and the great sanhedrim which sat there: because they knew him not; that is, either Jesus the Saviour, whom God had raised of the seed of David, and to whom John bore witness; and which must be understood, not of all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and members of the sanhedrim; for though some were ignorant, yet there were others that knew that Jesus was the Messiah, and notwithstanding rejected him; but the apostle chooses to take no notice of these, because he would not irritate and provoke, but rather of others, that were really ignorant of Christ: or else this may be understood of the Gospel, the word of salvation, that the Jews knew not "that"; and so the Syriac version renders it; and to which agrees the Ethiopic version, which reads thus, "they knew not this word of the prophets", joining the word of salvation, and what follows, together:
nor yet the voices of the prophets: "or the writings of the prophets", as the Syriac version, and some copies read; their prophecies concerning the Messiah, particularly in Psalm 22:1 which are read every sabbath day; See Gill on Acts 13:15.
they have fulfilled them; the word, of the prophets:
in condemning him; Jesus Christ, for these prophets testified, in the places referred to, of the sufferings and death of Christ, to which he was condemned by them.
28And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain.
And though they found no cause of death in him,.... That is, no crime that deserved death; they sought for such, but could find none; they suborned false witnesses, who brought charges against him, but could not support them; wherefore Pilate, his judge, several times declared his innocence, and would have discharged him:
yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain; they were urgent and importunate with him, that he would order him to be put to death; the power of life and death being then in the hands of the Romans; the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions read, "that they might slay him"; and the Arabic version, "that he might slay him"; and the Ethiopic version renders the whole quite contrary to the sense, "and they gave power to Pilate to hang him"; whereas the power of putting him to death was in Pilate, and not in them: and therefore they were pressing upon him, that he would order his execution, notwithstanding his innocence.
29And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.
And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him,.... When they had vilified and reproached him in the most opprobrious manner; buffeted and scourged him, and pierced his hands and his feet, by nailing him to the cross; when they had crucified him between two thieves, and parted his raiment and cast lots on his vesture; when they had pierced his side, and it was sufficiently evident that his life was taken from the earth; all which were written of him in the Psalms and Prophets:
they took him down from the tree; the cross, on which he was crucified: it may be rendered impersonally, "he was taken down from the tree"; for not the same persons that desired he might be slain, and fulfilled all that was written of him, took him down, but others; though they were some of the rulers, as Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus, yet such as did not consent to his death:
and laid him in a sepulchre; in a new one, in which never man lay; a sepulchre which Joseph had hewed out of a rock for himself, and which was both sealed and guarded.
30But God raised him from the dead:
But God raised him from the dead. Though his life was taken away by man, and it was a clear case that he was certainly dead, and he was taken down from the cross as such, and buried; yet he could not be held with the cords of death, but God the Father raised him from the dead by his power. The Vulgate Latin version adds, "the third day".
31And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people.
And he was seen many days,.... Forty days, at certain times,
of them which came up with him from Galilee; which though true of several women who followed him from Galilee, and to whom he appeared after his resurrection, as Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and Salome the mother of Zebedee's children, and others; yet is chiefly to be understood of the apostles of Christ, who were Galilaeans, and came with Christ from that country to Jerusalem, when he came thither to suffer and die:
who are his witnesses unto the people; not only of his resurrection, though of that chiefly, but of all that he did and suffered in Galilee and Judea.
32And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers,
And we declare unto you glad tidings,.... The whole of the Gospel, concerning the incarnation, obedience, sufferings, death, and resurrection of Christ, and the benefits arising from thence, as peace, pardon, righteousness, life, and salvation; all which are good news and glad tidings to sensible sinners; and which are declared and published by the ministers of the Gospel, according to the commission given them, as here by Paul and Barnabas:
how that the promise which was made unto the fathers; not barely and solely that which respects the resurrection of Christ, but the mission of him, the exhibition of him in human nature, his incarnation, his work and business he was to do, namely, to obtain salvation for his people; it chiefly regards the promise of his coming into the world to do the will of God, which promise was made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah, Genesis 22:18.
33God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.
God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children,.... The natural descendants of them, as Paul and Barnabas, and the Jews in the synagogue, were:
in that he hath raised up Jesus again; which may not be understood of his resurrection from the dead, since the promise made, and now fulfilled, has not a single respect to that; but of his being raised up, and sent forth into the world, to be a Saviour and Redeemer, and to sit upon the throne of David, as in Acts 2:30 of which raising of him up to regal dignity, mention is made in Psalm 2:1, Psalm 6:1 which is produced as a testimony of it; and the rather this seems to be the sense, since the article of the resurrection of the dead is spoken of in the next verse, as distinct from this; and other passages of Scripture are produced, as speaking of it; though admitting that Christ's resurrection from the dead is here intended, as the Alexandrian copy reads, what follows is very applicable to it, without any detriment to the doctrine of Christ's eternal generation and sonship, as will be hereafter made to appear:
as it is written in the second psalm: Beza's most ancient copy, and other very ancient copies, read, "in the first psalm"; for the first and second psalms seem to have been reckoned by the ancient Jews but one psalm, or one section; for so they say (d).
""blessed is the man", &c. and "why do the Heathen rage", &c. , are one "parasha", or section: and they further observe (e), that "every section that was dear to David, he began it with "blessed", and ended it with "blessed"; he began with "blessed", as it is written, Psalm 1:1 "blessed is the man", &c. and he ended it with "blessed", as it is written, Psalm 2:12 "blessed are all they that put their "trust in him":'' though it is elsewhere said (f), "blessed is the man", &c. Psalm 1:1 "and why do the heathen rage", &c. Psalm 2:1 are two sections; and "to the chief musician on Muth Labben", Psalm 9:1) and "why standest thou afar off", &c. (Psalm 10:1-18) are two sections.''
And Kimchi calls (g) this psalm, as the generality of copies here do, saying,
"this psalm is , "the second psalm."''
And that this psalm belongs to the Messiah, is evident from the mention made of him in Psalm 2:2 from the mad counsel, and vain attempts of the kings of the earth against him, Psalm 2:1. God's decree and resolution to make and declare him King of Zion, notwithstanding all their efforts upon him, Psalm 2:4 from his asking and having the Gentiles, and uttermost parts of the earth for his inheritance, which is true of no other, Psalm 2:8 and especially from that reverence, worship, and adoration, which are to be given to him, and that trust and confidence to be placed in him, Psalm 2:10 which can by no means agree with David, nor with any mere creature whatever; and as for Psalm 2:7 which is here cited, what is said in that is inapplicable even to angels, Hebrews 1:5 and much more to David, or any mere man. The whole psalm was, by the ancient Jews, interpreted of the Messiah, as is confessed by some of their later doctors. R. David Kimchi says (h),
"there are that interpret it of Gog and Magog, and the Messiah, he is the King Messiah; and so the Rabbins of blessed memory interpret it.''
And Jarchi confesses the same, and is somewhat more open in giving his reason for interpreting it otherwise.
"Our Rabbins (says he) expound this affair concerning the King Messiah; but according to its literal sense, and for an answer to the heretics (or Christians), it is right to explain it concerning David himself.''
he clause, "and for an answer to the heretics", is left out in later editions, but was in the more ancient ones; it being so open and barefaced, that the Jews did not choose to let it stand. Aben Ezra is in a doubt whether to interpret the psalm of David, or of the Messiah; though he thinks the former is best; and particularly this seventh verse is, by several of their ancient writers, applied to the Messiah; in one of their writings, esteemed very ancient, are these words (i);
"from thence shall come forth, in that day, the Messiah of David; and this is the mystery of, "I will declare the decree, the Lord said unto me, thou art my Son", &c.''
And this is the sense of R. Ame (k), a famous ancient doctor of theirs: upon mention of those words in Jeremiah 31:22 "the Lord hath created a new thing", &c.
"says R. Hone, in the name of R. Ame, this is the King Messiah, as it is said, Psalm 2:7 "this day have I begotten thee".''
And in like manner in the Talmud (l), it is understood of the Messiah, where are these expressions;
"the Rabbins teach, that Messiah, the son of David, who shall be revealed in haste in our days, the holy blessed God said unto him, ask anything of me, and I will give it thee, as it is said, Psalm 2:7 "I will declare the decree, &c. this day have I begotten thee".''
And that this was the sense of the Jews in the times of the apostle, need not be doubted, since the apostle cites these words before a Jewish assembly, in one of their synagogues, and applies them to the Messiah, without any hesitation, or any further reasoning upon it, as being a thing generally agreed on, and out of doubt; wherefore the Jew (m) has no reason to charge the apostle with an error in citing a passage in this psalm, and applying it to Christ, since their ancient doctors have allowed, that it belongs to him, and even the very passage which the apostle produces; which passage Maimonides (n) himself applies to the Messiah. This objector would have it, that David spoke the whole psalm by the Holy Spirit concerning himself, and that he calls himself the Lord's anointed; and that being anointed by the will of the Lord, what was against his kingdom, was against the Lord himself; and that he is called the Son of God, because he attended to the worship of God; and that the begetting of him refers to the time of his unction by Samuel; and that it can by no means agree with Jesus of Nazareth, who never ruled in any place, but others ruled over him, when they condemned him to death as the meanest of the people; and who himself says, that he came not to be ministered unto, Matthew 20:28 especially he thinks those words, "ask of me, and I will give the Heathen", &c. greatly militate against the application of the psalm to Jesus; for if he is God, what need has he to ask of another? But since the Jewish doctors themselves have applied this psalm to the Messiah, the apostle ought not to be blamed for making such an application; and there are many things which cannot be applied to David himself; for whatever may be said of his anointing, begetting, and sonship, the uttermost parts of the earth were never given for his possession; and much less can he be the son the kings of the earth are called upon to kiss and worship, or he be the object of trust and confidence; and though Jesus in the days of his humiliation was not ministered unto, but ministered to others, and ruled not over others, but submitted to the death of the cross; he has since been made and declared Lord of all, and his kingdom has taken place in the nations of the world, and ere long all the kingdoms of it will become his; and though he is God, it is no ways inconsistent with him, as man and Mediator, to ask anything of his Father, and especially what has been agreed between them shall be given: the words cited by the apostle are, "thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee"; in Beza's ancient copy, the verse following these words is added, "ask of me", &c. The words are to be understood of the eternal filiation of Christ, and are produced, to set forth the greatness and dignity of his person; whom God had raised and sent forth in human nature, to be the Saviour and Redeemer of his people: though should they be applied to the resurrection of Christ from the dead, it will no ways prejudice the doctrine of Christ's proper and natural sonship, as being the only begotten of the Father; since the resurrection of Christ is not the cause of his sonship, or the reason why he is called the Son of God, but a manifestation of it; Christ was the Son of God, before his resurrection from the dead; he was declared to be so by a voice from heaven, was believed on by his disciples as such, and confessed by others, both men and devils: besides, if his resurrection was the cause of his sonship, he must beget himself, which is absurd, for he was himself concerned in his resurrection from the dead; more over, his sonship would not be proper, but figurative and metaphorical, whereas he is God's own, or proper son; besides, on this account he could not be called God's only begotten Son, because there are others that have been, and millions that will be raised from the dead besides him: but the reason why these words are applied to the resurrection of Christ, allowing them to be so, is not because he was then begotten as the Son of God, but because he was then manifested to be the eternally begotten Son of God; things are said to be, when they are only manifested to be; so Christ is said to be that day begotten, because he was "declared to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead", Romans 1:4 Hence these words are applicable to any time or thing wherein Christ is manifested to be the only begotten Son of God, and accordingly are applied to different times and things; see Hebrews 1:3.
(d) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 9. 2.((e) Ib. fol. 10. 1.((f) Piske Tosephot in T. Bab. Megilla, art. 34. (g) In Psal. ii. 1. (h) In Psal. ii. 12. Vid. T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 3. 2. (i) Zohar in Numb. fol. 82. 2.((k) In Abarbinel. Mashmia Jeshua, fol. 37. 2.((l) T. Bab. Succa, fol. 52. 1.((m) R. Isaac, Chizzuk Emuna, par. 2. c. 68. p. 454, &c. (n) In Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 11. sect. 1.
34And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.
And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead,.... This, as it is differently expressed from the raising him up, spoken of in the preceding verse, so seems to be a distinct article from it, and is supported by other passages of Scripture: the apostle having shown that God had fulfilled his promise to the fathers, concerning the raising up, or sending the Messiah into the world, who is no other than the eternal Son of God, proceeds to prove his resurrection from the dead, as man, which was in such sort, as
now no more to return to corruption; so as not to die any more, and be laid in the grave, and there corrupted; as was the case of those who were raised from the dead by the prophets, under the Old Testament, or by Christ himself, before his death and resurrection; for these were raised to a mortal life, and died again, and were buried, and saw corruption; but Christ was raised up from the dead, never to die more, but to live forever, having in his hands the keys of hell and death, and being the triumphant conqueror over death and the grave; in proof of which some passages are produced out of the Old Testament, as follow: "he said on this wise"; that is, God said so, or after this manner, Isaiah 55:3 "I will give you the sure mercies of David"; that is, of the Messiah; by which are meant the blessings of the sure and well ordered covenant of grace, which the Messiah by his sufferings and death was to ratify and secure for all his people: now had he only died, and not been raised from the dead, these blessings had not been ratified and made sure unto them; therefore, when God promises his people, that he will give them the sure mercies of David, or the Messiah, he promises that the Messiah shall not only die to procure mercies and blessings for them, but that he shall rise again from the dead, to make them sure unto them; so that these words are pertinently produced in proof of Christ's resurrection. David is a name frequently given to the Messiah, as in Jeremiah 30:9 David being an eminent type of Christ, and the Messiah being a son of his; and who must be meant here; and which is owned by several Jewish commentators (o) of the best note; and which appears from his being called a witness to the people, a leader and a commander of them, in the next verse: the blessings of the covenant are fitly called "mercies", because they spring from the grace and mercy of God, and wonderfully display it, and are in mercy to his people; and these are the mercies of David, or of Christ, because the covenant being made with him, these blessings were put into his hands for them, and come through his blood to them; and hence they are said to be "sure" ones; they are in safe hands; Christ, who is intrusted with them, faithfully distributes them: but then, as by his death he has made way for the communication of them, consistent with the justice of God; so he must rise again, and live for ever, to distribute them, or see that there is an application of them made to the persons for whom they are designed: besides, it is one of the sure mercies promised to David, to the Messiah himself, that though he died, and was laid in the grave, he should not continue there, but rise again, as the next testimony most clearly shows.
(o) Aben Ezra & Kimchi in Isaiah 55.3. Abarbinel. Mashmia Jeshua, fol. 26. 1.
35Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Wherefore he saith also in another psalm,.... Psalm 16:10 or "in another place", as the Syriac version supplies; or "in another section", as the Arabic version; or "elsewhere", as Beza's most ancient copy, the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions, read:
thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption; which cannot be understood of David: the term "Holy One", is not so applicable to him, who was a man subject to infirmities; at least not in such sense as to Christ, who was holy in his nature, and without sin in his life and conversation; besides, David was laid in his grave, and saw corruption, as the apostle afterwards proves: the former part of this passage is not cited, "thou wilt not leave my soul in hell"; which was not absolutely necessary to be mentioned, it being clearly implied in what is produced; for if he should not be suffered to see corruption, then he could not be left in the grave: moreover, the apostle cites that which he intended to reason upon, as he afterwards does, and by it makes it manifestly appear that the words do not belong to David, but the Messiah, and are a clear and pertinent proof of his resurrection from the dead. The Jew (p) objects to the apostle's version of these words, rendering by "corruption", whereas he says it signifies a "pit"; but it ought to be observed, that the word in its first proper, and literal sense, signifies "corruption"; and a pit or grave is only called by this name, because dead bodies, or carcasses, are therein corrupted; and instances may be given, wherein the word cannot be understood in another sense than in that of corruption, as in Leviticus 22:25. See Gill on Acts 2:27.
(p) R. Isaac, Chizzuk Emuna, par. 2. c. 69. p. 456.
36For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:
Or the men of that age and generation in which he lived, the subjects of his kingdom; by governing them with wholesome laws, protecting them in their rights and properties, defending them against their enemies, and regulating and promoting the worship of God among them:
by the will of God; this clause may be read in connection with the preceding words, as it is in the Syriac version thus, "after he had in his own age served the will of God"; acted according to it, fulfilled it, and did what the Lord declared to him, or he knew to be the will of God; or with the following words, as in the Vulgate Latin version, "by the will of God fell on sleep", or died; and then the sense is, that after he had done the work of his generation, which was appointed and cut out for him, he died by the decree and counsel of God, which has set bounds to man's life, and has fixed the time of his death; no man dies before, or lives longer than the time it is the will of God he should. David lived according to the will of God's command, and he died by the will of his decree. Death is expressed by falling asleep; a way of speaking very common with the eastern nations, and which represents it in an easy and familiar manner: it is not an annihilation of men; the dead are only fallen asleep, and will wake again in the resurrection; till which time the grave is their restingplace, and out of which the saints will rise fresh and cheerful; and yet, as a time of sleep is a time of inactivity, so no work is done in the grave; and therefore whatever we find to do, should be done in life. It is a long sleep; David has been many hundred years, even thousands, in it; and there will be no awaking out of it till Christ comes again: but this is to be understood of the body only, which only is capable of sleeping the sleep of death, and not of the soul, which dies not with the body, nor continues with it in the grave in a state of insensibility and inactivity, but immediately returns to God; and being happy, is employed in the vision of God, and Christ, in the fellowship of saints and angels, and in the work of praise and thanksgiving: thus, though David is fallen asleep in his body, he is present in spirit with the Lord; and that sweet psalmist of Israel is singing the songs of God in a much better manner than when here on earth. Blessed are they that sleep in Jesus, for they not only sleep quietly and safely, but shall surely rise again, for God will bring them with him; Christ is the first fruits of them, and they shall awake in his likeness. It is further said of David, "and was laid unto his fathers", or was buried; his sepulchre is said to be in Mount Zion (q), where the kings of the house of David were buried; and his sepulchre Peter says in Acts 2:29 remained till his time.
And saw corruption; his body putrefied in the grave, became the repast of worms, and was reduced to rottenness and dust; and therefore the words could not be spoken of him cited from Psalm 16:10.
(q) Cippi Hebr. p. 24.
37But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.
But he whom God raised again,.... The Vulgate Latin version adds, "from the dead"; meaning the Lord Jesus Christ, who was raised from the dead by God the Father: and
saw no corruption; he did not lie so long in the grave as to corrupt and putrefy, but was raised from the dead the third day; wherefore the passage, before cited, is very applicable to him, and is a clear proof that the Messiah was to rise from the dead, as Jesus did.
38Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:
Be it known unto you, therefore, men and brethren,.... The apostle having discoursed concerning the incarnation of Christ, his death and resurrection, proceeds to take notice of some particular benefits and blessings of grace arising from thence, which are published and made known to the sons of men in the everlasting Gospel, as were now to the Jews by Paul and Barnabas; such as forgiveness of sins through the blood of Christ, and justification by his righteousness; the former of them is mentioned in this verse, the latter in the next:
that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; forgiveness of sins, which is sometimes expressed by a non-imputation of them, a non-remembrance of them, a covering and putting them away, and a blotting them out, is an act of free grace and mercy, and yet is through the blood of Christ; through that believers have it; Christ is exalted as a Prince and a Saviour to give it, having by his blood procured it; and this is a principal doctrine of the Gospel, which is published in his name, and which the light of nature and law of Moses know nothing of, and cannot ascertain; the prophets bear testimony to this truth, that everyone that believes in Christ shall receive the remission of sins, of all his sins. That there is a God is known by the light of nature, and that sin is an offence unto him; but by it is not known in what way offended Deity is appeased; nor does it, nor can it assure any that God will forgive sin on any account whatever; not on account of mercy in him, nor on account of good works, or of repentance in them; God, as the God of nature, does not forgive sin, but as the God of grace: and though the law of Moses declares what is good, and gives knowledge of evil, yet admits not of repentance as a satisfaction for sin committed; nor does it represent God as merciful, but as just, and so accuses, condemns, and kills: the doctrine of forgiveness is a pure doctrine of the Gospel; and when it is preached aright, it is preached through Christ, not through the works of the law, not through repentance, nor through faith, nor through the absolute mercy of God, but through Christ, through the blood of Christ, which was shed to obtain it in a way consistent with the justice of God; and through his hands it is given. When Christ is called a "man", it must not be thought that he is a mere man; he is God as well as man; had he been a mere man, forgiveness of sin could not have been by his blood, or through his name, or for his sake; it is because he is God, truly and properly God, that there is a virtue in his blood to take away sin, and cleanse from it; see 1 John 1:7 Besides, the word "man" is not in the original text, it is only "through this is preached to you"; that is, through this glorious and divine person, who, though he died as man, and was buried, yet saw no corruption, and is now raised from the dead, and is at the right hand of God. Some copies read , because of this, or for this reason; seeing he is raised from the dead, therefore the doctrine of the remission of sins is preached; for if he had died, and had not risen again, there could have been no pardon by his blood, nor justification by his righteousness; see Romans 4:25.
39And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.
And by him all that believe are justified from all things,.... Christ, as God, is not only the justifier of his people, who pronounces them righteous in the sight of God; but his righteousness imputed to them is the matter of their justification, or that by which they are justified; and not the works of the law, or obedience to the Gospel, or internal holiness, either in whole or in part, or the grace of faith, but the object of it, Christ, and his righteousness: and justification by this is complete and perfect; it is from all sin, original and actual, secret and open, greater or lesser sins; sins of presumption and ignorance, of omission or commission; from all things the law can charge with, as breaches of it; from all things which the justice of God can demand satisfaction for; and from all things that Satan, or a man's own conscience, can justly accuse him of. And those that believe in Christ with the heart unto righteousness, are openly and manifestly justified in their own consciences, and can claim their interest in it, and have the comfort of it, as well as they were before secretly justified in the mind of God, and in their head and representative Jesus Christ. And from all sin these are justified of God, as Beza's ancient copy reads, "for it is God that justifies", Romans 8:33 against whom men have sinned, and whose law they have violated, and whose justice they have affronted, by reason of which they are liable to condemnation; but God justifies them, by imputing the righteousness of his Son to them, in which he views them as without fault, unblamable and irreprovable; and though all men are not justified, yet many are; even all the seed of Israel, all the elect of God, everyone that believes in Christ, as all do who are ordained to eternal life; Christ's righteousness is imputed and applied to all these, and therefore they shall never enter into condemnation, but shall be acquitted and discharged from all things,
from which, it is added,
ye could not be justified by the law of Moses; that is, by the works of the law, or by obedience to it, because such obedience is imperfect; and therefore the law cannot justify, discharge, and acquit upon it, but instead thereof, must curse and condemn; as it does everyone, that does not do all things commanded in the law, and in the manner that requires; besides, if righteousness was hereby, the grace of God in justification would be frustrated, the death of Christ would be rendered null and void, and boasting would not be excluded; all which are contrary to the scheme of the Gospel. It may be observed, that pardon of sin and justification are two distinct blessings, or the apostle must be guilty of a great tautology; since having spoken of forgiveness of sin in the preceding verse, he speaks of justification in this, as another blessing enjoyed by and through Christ, and published in the Gospel, styled therefore the word and ministration of righteousness. And indeed they are distinct; in pardon the man is considered as a sinner, in justification as a righteous man; pardon takes away his sin, justification gives him a righteousness; pardon frees from punishment, but justification besides that gives him a title to eternal life; to pardon, the blood of Christ is sufficient; but to justification are required the holiness of Christ's nature, the perfect obedience of his life, as well as his suffering of death; moreover, justification passed on Christ as the head and representative of his people, but not pardon; he may be said to be justified, but not pardoned: these two blessings make a considerable figure in the ministry of the word.
40Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets;
Beware therefore,.... Of rejecting the Gospel, and those excellent truths of it; since forgiveness of sin and a justifying righteousness are said to be had in no other way, but in and through Christ; take heed therefore,
lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the Prophets: some think that the apostle refers to two places in the Prophets, which he puts together, and therefore uses the plural number; the one in Isaiah 28:14 from whence the character of the persons is taken, "ye despisers", or scornful men, who are addressed; and the other in Habakkuk 1:5 where is to be found what is said to them; but rather the latter place is what is only referred to, and is said to be, "in the Prophets", that is, in one of the prophets; See Gill on John 6:45 or in the book of the Prophets, the lesser prophets, which were together in one book, among which Habakkuk stands; the Ethiopic version reads in the singular number, "lest should come upon you the word of the prophet, saying", as follows.
41Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.
Behold, ye despisers,.... In Habakkuk 1:5 from whence these words are taken: we render it with others, "behold ye among the Heathen"; as if the word was compounded of "in", and "nations" or "Heathens"; and so reads the Chaldee paraphrase, "look among the people"; but the Septuagint version renders it, "behold, ye despisers"; which the apostle is thought to follow; wherefore some have imagined a different reading, and that the Septuagint, instead of reads the singular of which is used in Habakkuk 2:5 and there rendered a "despiser" in the same version: but it should be observed, that the Septuagint is not the only version that so renders the word; for the Syriac version renders it, "behold, ye impudent"; and the Arabic version, "behold, ye negligent"; and Dr. Pocock (r) has shown that this word comes from the root which though not to be found in the Bible, yet in the Arabic language, among other things, signifies to behave proudly, or insolently, and so is very properly rendered "despisers", without supposing any different reading or corruption in the text: and as in Habakkuk the proud and haughty Jews are there spoke to, who neglected and despised the law; this is accommodated by the apostle to the Jews in his time, who were very much disposed to despise the Gospel, as they generally did. It follows, "and wonder, and perish"; or disappear, or change countenance, through shame for their sins, and amazement at the judgments of God upon them:
for I work a work in your days, which you shall in no wise believe though a man declare it unto you; which, in Habakkuk, refers to the destruction of the city and temple of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans; and here it is suggested, by the citation and application of it, that in a short time a like work would be done in their days; the city and temple of Jerusalem would be destroyed by the Romans, which when told to the Jews in foreign parts, as here in Pisidia, would not be believed by them, though it should be told them by men of probity and credit.
(r) Not. Misc. in Porta Mosis, c. 3. p. 31, 32. &c.
42And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.
And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue,.... The time of worship there being over; or being offended at the apostle's discourse concerning Jesus: the words will bear to be rendered, "when they were gone out of the synagogue of the Jews"; and the sense be, when Paul and Barnabas were come out from thence, Paul having finished his discourse: the word "Jews", and the phrase, "out of the synagogue", are left out in Beza's ancient copy, and in the Alexandrian copy, and in the Vulgate Latin, and Syriac versions; and so may be interpreted either of the Jews, or of Paul and Barnabas; the Ethiopic version leaves out the whole clause: "the Gentiles besought that these words might be spoken unto them the next sabbath"; that is, the proselytes from among the Gentiles, who attended on the synagogue of the Jews, and who stayed behind when the Jews were gone out, being exceedingly delighted with the apostle's doctrine, most earnestly entreated that the same subject might be insisted upon the next sabbath: or, as Dr. Lightfoot observes, the words may be rendered, "they besought the Gentiles"; that is, the apostles, when they saw the Jews go out, being offended, addressed the Gentiles, and entreated them to come the next sabbath day, and patiently hear these doctrines: though in the above copies and versions there is no mention made of the Gentiles, any more than of the Jews; so that this may be understood either of the rulers of the synagogue, who first invited them to speak a word of exhortation to the people, or of the whole body, Jews and proselytes, who, when they were departing, entreated they might hear them again the next sabbath; about which "next sabbath", there is some difficulty; the words may be rendered, "between the sabbath", and so may regard what we call weekdays, or working days; and which the Jews call , "the intermediate days", or the days between one sabbath and another (s); and on some one of these days it was desired that the apostles would give them another discourse on the same subject; and it may be particularly, that either Monday or Thursday, the second or fifth day of the week, might be pitched upon; since on these days the Jews met together in the synagogue, and read the law, according to the order of Ezra, that they might not be three days without the law (t); and these were the days on which they fasted, Luke 18:12. Others choose to render the words, "on the sabbath day after"; and so the Syriac version renders it, "on the other sabbath"; and the Ethiopic version, "the sabbath following"; and so the Vulgate Latin, with which ours, and others agree; and to this reading and sense, Acts 13:44 greatly inclines; though they might meet together on one of the days between, when being so delighted with what they heard, and of which they so much talked, that the next sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear: but what pleases me best, and which, I think, has never been observed by any, is, that there was one sabbath in the year which was called ; which may be rendered by , "the sabbath between", or the intermediate sabbath; and this sabbath was on one of the ten days before the day of atonement; and was so called, because it was between the first of Tisri, which answers to part of our September, and was the beginning of the year, and the tenth of the same month, which was the day of atonement; and was a sabbath very much taken notice of by the Jews (u): and now this might be the sabbath following, and so all agrees; and a reason may be given for the different phrases in this verse, and Acts 13:44 and if so, this also points out the time of the year that Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch in Pisidia, and when that remarkable period began, that the apostles turned from the Jews, and preached to the Gentiles.
(s) T. Hieros. Gittin, fol. 49. 1. & Bab. Ceritot, fol. 16. 1, 2. & 17. 1.((t) T. Hieros. Megilla, fol. 75. 1. & Bab. Bava Kama, fol. 32. 1.((u) Tzeror Hammor, fol. 85. 4. & 86. 1, 2.
43Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.
Now when the congregation was broken up,.... Or "the synagogue"; not the place, but the people that met in it; when they were "dismissed", as the Vulgate Latin and Arabic versions render it; either in a disorderly manner, through the offence the Jews took at Paul's preaching; or if in an orderly way, this was done by "the interpreter"; so it is said (w), that
"R. Hotzpith the interpreter dismissed the people.''
Many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas; who were converted by this sermon, and believed in Christ, and cordially embraced the doctrines of the Gospel, that had been preached. Piscator thinks that the word "religious" does not belong to the text, but some way or other crept into it, since it supposes some proselytes not to be religious; whereas, though all religious persons were not proselytes, at least proselytes of righteousness, yet all proselytes were religious persons; but it is retained in all copies and versions:
who speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God; meaning, not that the Jews and proselytes spoke to Paul and Barnabas, and entreated and persuaded them to persevere in preaching the doctrine of the grace of God, notwithstanding the offence some might take at it, and the ill usage they might meet with on account of it; but that Paul and Barnabas took notice of them, and by their following them, and by the conversation they had with them, found that the word had reached their hearts, and that they had embraced the doctrine of the Gospel; wherefore they spoke a word of exhortation to them, beseeching them to continue in it, it springing from the grace of God, and being a declaration of it; and particularly in those special doctrines of grace, which had been insisted on, namely, remission of sins, and free justification by the blood of Christ; for it is more likely, and was more necessary, that these should be exhorted by the apostles, and not the apostles by them.
(w) T. Hieros. Taaniot, fol. 67. 4.
44And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.
And the next sabbath day,.... The same which is before called the "sabbath between", which was between the first and tenth of Tisri, or between the beginning of the year, and the day of atonement:
came almost the whole city together. The Syriac and Ethiopic versions leave out the word "almost", and read, the whole city came together; some out of curiosity, having heard much said of these men and their doctrines, others to cavil and quarrel, and others from a true affection to the Gospel, and an earnest desire of knowing more of it, and of receiving more advantage from it: though the end in all was,
to hear the word of God; or "of the Lord", as the Alexandrian copy; that is, the doctrine of the Gospel, which comes from God, and, concerns the Lord Jesus Christ, his person, offices, grace, and righteousness.
45But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.
But when the Jews saw the multitudes,.... The vast number of people, the inhabitants of the city, the Gentiles, that were assembled together to hear the word. This must be understood of the unbelieving Jews, who came with no good design:
they were filled with envy; at the Gentiles, that they should have the word equally preached to them, as to themselves, to whom the oracles of God were committed; or at the popularity of the apostles, that such numbers should follow them; and they might fear many converts might be made by them, from among them:
and spoke against those things which were spoken by Paul; concerning Jesus of Nazareth being the Messiah, which they denied; and concerning free justification by his righteousness, which they affirmed to be by the works of the law: and they went on
contradicting and blaspheming; publicly opposing him, and speaking evil of him, and of his doctrines; and not only so, but belching out their blasphemies against the Lord Jesus Christ. The Alexandrian copy, the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions, leave out the word "contradicting", as redundant, it having been before said, that "they spoke against", or "contradicted" what Paul delivered; though it may not be superfluous, but express their continuance in their contradiction and opposition; and which was attended with, and issued in blasphemy: such a spirit of reproach and blasphemy is with the Jews a sign of the Messiah's coming;
"says R. Jannai (x), when you see generation after generation reproaching and blaspheming, look for the feet of the Messiah, according to Psalm 89:51.''
This they have been doing one age after another, even for many ages; and therefore, according to one of their own signs, the Messiah must be come.
(x) Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 11. 4.
46Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.
Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold,.... They were not at all daunted at the opposition they met with, but rather grew more courageous, and used great liberty of speech, and spoke out freely, plainly, and openly: and said,
it was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you; as it was by Christ and his apostles, whilst he was on earth; and though, after his resurrection, the commission to his apostles ran, to preach the Gospel to all nations, yet they were ordered to begin at Jerusalem, and preach to the Jews first; and this they hitherto strictly observed:
but seeing ye put it from you; with loathing, indignation, and contempt:
and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life; no man is worthy of everlasting life, on account of anything done by him, for it is the free gift of God; and all who are sensible of themselves, and of the just demerit of sin, conclude themselves unworthy to inherit eternal life; but this was not the case of these Jews, nor is it the sense here: but the meaning is, that the Jews, by this act of theirs in rejecting the Gospel, did as it were pass sentence upon themselves, and determine against themselves that they ought not to be saved, since they despised the means of salvation; or that they were not worthy to have the Gospel preached to them any more, which may be called eternal life, because it is brought to light by it, and revealed in it; and because it points out the way unto it, as well as gives some account of it:
lo, we turn to the Gentiles; to preach the Gospel to them only, or chiefly; now the words of Christ began to be fulfilled, Matthew 21:43.
47For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.
For so hath the Lord commanded us,.... For though Christ in his first commission restrained his disciples from going into the Gentiles, and preaching to them, yet when he enlarged their commission after his resurrection, he bid them go into all nations, and preach the Gospel to every creature; and told them, that they should be his witnesses to the uttermost part of the earth; see Matthew 28:19 unless this should rather be thought to refer to what follows:
saying; or "as it is written", as the Syriac version supplies; or "because so saith the Scripture", as the Ethiopic version, namely in Isaiah 49:6.
I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles; to enlighten the Gentiles that sit in darkness, by the preaching of the Gospel to them, and the Spirit of God attending it: this supposes the Gentiles to have been in darkness; as they were about divine things, before the times of the Gospel: they had no true knowledge of God himself; for though they knew there was a God, they did not know, at least but few of them, that there was but one God; and none of them knew anything of him as in Christ; they had not a revelation of his will, they were without the written law, and were strangers to the true manner of worshipping the divine Being; they knew nothing at all of the Messiah, and of his righteousness and salvation by him; nor of the Spirit of God, and the operations of his grace, nor of the resurrection of the dead, and were very ignorant of a future state: it was therefore an unspeakable mercy to them, that Christ was appointed to be a light to them; not in a way of nature, as he is that light which lightens every man that comes into the world; but in a way of grace, through the ministration of the Gospel, and by the special illuminations of the divine Spirit; whereby they see there is a righteous judge, and that there will be a righteous judgment; and that sin is exceeding sinful, and cannot be atoned for by them, and therefore they are in themselves miserable and undone; and they further see, that pardon and righteousness are only by Christ, and that salvation is alone in him. The words are spoken by God the Father to his Son, and express the eternal decree of God, and the designation of Christ to be the light of his people; the mission of him in time as the light of the world, and the exhibition of him in the Gospel, for the illumination of men by his Spirit and grace. In the Hebrew text it is, "I will give thee", &c. for all this springs from the free grace of God; Christ in all respects is the gift of God, as he is the head of the church, and the Saviour of the body, so as he is the light of men; and it is necessary that he should be light, in order to be salvation, as follows; for though men may go to hell in the dark, yet not to heaven; the way of the wicked is darkness, but the path of just is shining light: those whom God rives, he enlightens with the light of life:
that thou shouldest be for salvation to the ends of the earth; impetratively as the author of it, and applicatively by means of the Gospel, which publishes salvation by Christ; and is the power of God unto salvation, to Gentiles as well as Jews, even to all that believe, in what part of the world soever they live: thus what was decreed and resolved on by God the Father, and was declared by him to his Son, is applied to his ministers and ambassadors, who represented him; so that what they did, he may be said to do; and who by them was to go, and did go to the Gentiles, and enlighten them with the light of the Gospel, and became salvation to them; so that this prophecy is produced by the apostles, to vindicate their conduct, as well as to show the agreement between the command of Jesus Christ to his disciples, and the decree of God the Father; as also to illustrate and confirm the particular order, which the Apostle Paul had, to go to the Gentiles, and to which he may have a regard here; see Acts 26:17. In the Hebrew text it is, "my salvation": provided, promised, and sent by God, the Saviour of his people.
48And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
And when the Gentiles heard this,.... That it was the will of God, and the command of Christ, that the Gospel should be preached to them; by whom are to be understood the Pisidians, the inhabitants of Antioch, who had never been proselytes to the Jewish religion:
they were glad; not that the Jews were likely to have the Gospel taken away from them, and be utterly deprived of it, but that it was to be preached to them:
and glorified the word of the Lord; not the Lord Jesus Christ, the essential word of the Lord, whom they might not as yet have such a distinct knowledge of; but rather God himself, for his word, particularly his word of command, Acts 13:47 as the Syriac and Ethiopic versions read; or the sense is, they spake well of the Gospel, and gave glory to God, or the Lord, who had sent it among them: Beza's most ancient copy reads, they "received the word of the Lord", which seems to be a more agreeable reading; to glorify the word of the Lord, is an unusual phrase:
and as many as were ordained unto eternal life believed; faith is not the cause, or condition of the decree of eternal life, but a means fixed in it, and is a fruit and effect of it, and what certainly follows upon it, as in these persons: some would have the words rendered, "as many as were disposed unto eternal life believed"; which is not countenanced by the ancient versions. The Arabic renders it as we do, and the Syriac thus, "as many as were put, or appointed unto eternal life"; and the Vulgate Latin version, "as many as were pre-ordained". Moreover, the phrase of being "disposed unto", or "for eternal life", is a very unusual, if not a very improper, and an inaccurate one; men are said to be disposed to an habit, or to an act, as to vice or virtue, but not to reward or punishment, as to heaven or hell; nor does it appear that these Gentiles had any good dispositions to eternal life, antecedent to their believing; for though they are said, Acts 13:42 to entreat the apostles to preach the same things to them the next sabbath, yet the words as there observed, according to their natural order, may be rendered "they", i.e. the apostles, "besought the Gentiles"; and in some copies and versions, the "Gentiles" are not mentioned at all: and as for their being "glad", and "glorifying the word of the Lord", it is not evident that this was before their believing; and if it was, such things have been found in persons, who have had no true, real, and inward dispositions to spiritual things, as in many of our Lord's hearers; besides, admitting that there are, in some, good dispositions to eternal life, previous to faith, and that desiring eternal life, and seeking after it, be accounted such, yet these may be where faith does not follow; as in the young rich ruler, that came to Christ with such an inquiry, and went away sorrowful: as many therefore as are so disposed, do not always believe, faith does not always follow such dispositions; and after all, one would have thought that the Jews themselves, who were externally religious, and were looking for the Messiah, and especially the devout and able women, were more disposed unto eternal life, than the ignorant and idolatrous Gentiles; and yet the latter believed, and the former did not: it follows then, that their faith did not arise from previous dispositions to eternal life, but was the fruit and effect of divine ordination unto it; and the word here used, in various places in this book, signifies determination and appointment, and not disposition of mind; see Acts 15:2 The phrase is the same with that used by the Jews, , "who are ordained to eternal life" (y); and , "everyone that is written to eternal life"; (z) i.e. in the book of life; and designs no other than predestination or election, which is God's act, and is an eternal one; is sovereign, irrespective, and unconditional; relates to particular persons, and is sure and certain in its effect: it is an ordination, not to an office, nor to the means of grace, but to grace and glory itself; to a life of grace which is eternal, and to a life of glory which is for ever; and which is a pure gift of God, is in the hands of Christ, and to which his righteousness gives a title: and ordination to it shows it to be a blessing of an early date; and the great love of God to the persons ordained to it; and the certainty of enjoying it.
(y) Zohar in Exod. fol. 43. 4. (z) Targum in Isa. iv. 3. Vid Abkath Rocel, p. 5.
49And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.
And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region. That is, of Pisidia, in which Antioch was; not by the Apostles Paul and Barnabas, who seem to go directly to Iconium, after they were expelled the city and suburbs of Antioch; but by some of those who were converted under their ministry, and had gifts bestowed on them, qualifying them to preach the Gospel to others, which they did with success. There were no doubt several churches planted in this country, and particularly there was one at Antioch, of which these new converts were the beginning, and which continued: in the "fourth" century, this church was a patriarchate, for it is said, under Valentinian and Theodosius, Optimus obtained the patriarchate of Antioch in Pisidia; in the "fifth" century, it was the metropolitan of Pisidia; in this age, mention is made of several bishops of this place; Candidianus, bishop of Antioch in Pisidia, was present at two synods, one at Constantinople against Eutyches, and another at Ephesus; Dionysius, bishop of the same place, assisted in the synod at Chalcedon, and Pergamius at that which was at Constantinople, under the Emperor Theodosius, and at another at Chalcedon, under the Emperor Marcianus: there were also in this century, bishops of other churches in Pisidia; as Severus, bishop of Sozopolis in Pisidia, who was present in the council at Ephesus, against Nestorius; and Olympius, bishop of Mount Hem in Pisidia, who was at the Chalcedon council; and Paulinus bishop of Apamea, Eortius bishop of Nicopolis, and Alexander bishop of Seleucia, and Longinus bishop of Talbondana, all in Pisidia: in the "sixth" century, there were churches in Pisidia embracing the truth of Christ; Bacchus was bishop of Antioch, and John of another place, who both were in the fifth synod at Constantinople: in the "seventh" century, we read of the church at Antioch, as the metropolitan of Pisidia, and of a bishop of it in the sixth council at Constantinople: in the eighth "century", Gregory, bishop of this place, condemned in a synod the worship of images, but afterwards recanted; and in the same century, this city was taken by the Turks, and spoiled (a); and after this, we read no more of its church state.
(a) Magdeburg. Hist. Eccles. cent. 4. c. 2. p. 3. cent. 5. c. 7. p. 418. & c. 10. p. 588. cent. 6. c. 2. p. 4. cent. 7. c. 2. p. 3. cent. 8. c. 10. p. 366. & c. 16. p. 515.
50But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.
But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women,.... These seem not to be Jewish women; could they be thought to be such, they might easily be concluded to be of the sect of the Pharisees, which was the strictest and most devout sect among the Jews; for there were women Pharisees, as well as men; so we read of , "a woman Pharisee" (b); but these were Gentile women, proselyted to the Jewish religion, and were in their way very religious and devout, and were also "honourable": the word used signifies, not only that they were of a comely form, of a decent habit, and of good manners, as it is by some interpreted; but that they were persons of figure and distinction, of good families; the Syriac version renders it "rich", whose husbands were the principal men of the city; wherefore the Jews applied to these women, and stirred up them to work upon their husbands, who seem to be those next mentioned:
and the chief men of the city; the magistrates and officers in it:
and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas; raised the mob, and set them upon them:
and expelled them out of their coasts; drove them out of their city and suburbs.
(b) Misn. Sota, c. 3. sect. 4.
51But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.
But they shook off the dust of their feet against them,.... As Christ directed his apostles to do; See Gill on Matthew 10:14.
And came unto Iconium, a city in Lycaonia; here it is placed both by Ptolomy (c) and Strabo (d); Pliny says (e), that
"there was a tetrarchy granted out of Lycaonia, on that part which borders on Galatia, consisting of fourteen cities, the most celebrated city being Iconium.''
It was called by the Syrians , "Ik-ona", which signifies "the bosom of sheep"; the country round about it being famous for feeding great numbers of sheep; and here afterwards was a church of Christ, a bosom for his sheep; it is now in the hands of the Turks, and is called "Conia", or "Cogne".
(c) Geograph. l. 5. c. 6. (d) Ib. l. 12. (e) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 27.
52And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.
And the disciples were filled with joy,.... Meaning either the "apostles", as the Ethiopic version renders it, Paul and Barnabas; who rejoiced, both at the success they had met with, and because they were counted worthy to suffer reproach and persecution for the sake of Christ and his Gospel: or rather the disciples at Antioch, and other parts of Pisidia, the new converts; who were filled with joy at the Gospel being preached unto them, and at the constancy and courage of the apostles in suffering for it:
and with the Holy Ghost; which, with the former, designs the same thing as spiritual joy, or joy in the Holy Ghost; or else the gifts and graces of the Spirit, which they had both for their own comfort, and the advantage of others.