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he must then have a consummate knowledge of ev?ry Christian doctrine. To this day, «e find that even the genuine Christian convert has a thousand things to learn; and for his instruction he h phiced in the church of Christ, where he is bui'.t up on his most holy faith, by the ministry and experience of the disciples. Without the communion of saints, who is likely to make a steady and consistent Christian; even though his conversion should have been the most sincere, and the most remarkable?
Verse 20. Preached Christ in the synagogues'] Instead of Xsifjv Christ, Irpwv Jesus, is the reading of ABCK. several others of high importance, together with the Syriac, Coptic, JEthiopic, Armenian, Slavonic, and Vulgate.
The great question to be determined for the conviction of the Jews, was, that Jesus was the Son of God. That the Christ, or Messiah, was to be the Son of God, they all believed. Saul was now convinced that Jesus, whom they had crucified, and who had appeared to him on the way, was the Son of God, or Messiah•■; awl therefore as such he proclaimed him. The word Christ should be changed for Jerus, as the latter is, without doubt, the genuine reading.
The first offers of the grace of the gospel were uniformly made to the Jews. Saul did not at first offer Jesus to the heathens at Damascus; but to the synagogues of the Jews.
Verse 41. Is not this he that destroyed them] 'O vopir^x;. The verb ro/jflsiv has three acceptations in the Greek writers. 1. To treat one <ra an enemy, to spoil him of kis goods. 2. To lead atcay captive, to imprison. 3. To slay. Paul was properly xofSitv a destroyer, in all these senses. 1. He acted as the most determined enemy of the Christians: Being exceedingly mad against them, he persecuted them to strange cities, chap. xxvi. 11. 2. He shut up many of the saints in prison, chap. vKi. 3. ix. 14. xxvi. 10. 3. He persecuted them unto death; gave his voice against them, that they might be destroyed; ami was a principal instrument in the ■murtyrtlom of Stephen. He breathed threatening! and
slaughter. See chap. vli. 58. till. 1. ix. 1. xxvi. 10, 11. Therefore these three meanings of the original word are all exemplified in the conduct of Saul.
Verse 22. Confounded the Jezts] ^viyjjvt ; overwhelmed them so with his arguments, that they were obliged to blush for the weakness of their own cause.
Proving that this] Ouro; this person, viz. Jesus, it very Christ; friv i Xctro* is The Christ, or Messiah. See on ver. 41.
Verse 23. And after that many days icere fulfilled] What follows relates to transactions which took place about three years after his conversion; when he had come a second time to Damascus, after having been in Arabia. See Gal. i. 17, 18. AVhat he did in Arabia, we know not; he probably preached Christ in different Jewish synagogues; but with what fruit, we are not told. St. Luke, who could not have been ignorant of this part of his history, passes it over in silence; aud any assertion, at this distance of time, relative to his employment in Arabia for those three years, most be both foolish and impertinent.
Verse 24. Tliey Hatched the gates day atld night to kill him.] At this time Damascus was u'nder the government or Aretas, king of Arabia; who was now at war with Herod, his son-in-law, who had put away his daughter, in order to marry Herodias, his brother Philip's wife. As Herod was supported by the Romans, Saul's enemies might intimate that he was in league with them or Herod; and as the gates of the city were constantly Watched and shut, that no spy might enter, and no fugitive get away, they thought it would be easy to apprehend him; and "doubtless got orders for the different officers at the gates to be on the look-out, that he might not be permitted to escape.
Verse 25. Let him doxen by the wait] Favoured, probably, by a house built against or upon the wall, through the window of which they, could lower htm in a basket; and by this means he made his escape. His escape was something similar to that of the spies at Jericho, Josh. ii. IS.
Saul escapes to Jerusalem, preaches THE ACTS. Christ there, and is again persecuted.
Verse 26. He assayed to join himself to the disciples'] Eireipxro xoAAacrSa<, he endeavoured to get closely united to them, to be in religions fellowship with them.
Believed not that he teas a disciple.] They did not suppose it possible that such a person could be converted to the faith of Christ. The full power of divine grace, in the conversion of the soul, was not yet completely known.
Verse 27. Barnabas—brought him to the apostles'] That is, to Peter and James; for others of the apostles he saw none, Gal. i. 19. It appears that he went up at this time to Jerusalem, merely to see Peter, with whom he abode fifteen days, Gal. i. 18. How it came that the apostles and church at Jerusalem had not heard of Saul's conversion, which had taken place three years before, is not easy to be accounted for. The following considerations may help: 1. It is certain that intelligence did not travel speedily in those primitive tiroes; there were few open roads, and no regular posts, except those between military stations. 2. Though there were many Jews in Damascus, and several Christians,- yet the city was heathen, and under a heathen king, with whom the Jews at Jerusalem could have little commerce. 3. Though Herod had married the daughter of Aretas; yet, as he had put her away, there were great animosities between the two courts, which at last broke out into an open war: this must have prevented all social and commercial intercourse. 4. The Christians were at that time greatly persecuted by the Jews; and therefore the few that dwelt at Damascus could have little connection, if any, with their brethren at Jerusalem. 5.It might be the interest of the Jews at Jerusalem, supposing they had heard of it, to keep the fact of Saul's conversion as quiet as possible, that the Christian cause might not gain credit by it. 6. They might have heard of his conversion; but either did not fully credit what they had heard, or were not satisfied that the person who now presented himself was the man; for it is not likely that all the Christians at Jerusalem had been personally acquainted with Saul.
Verse 38. He teas with them, coming in and going out]
Freely conversing and associating with them ; but this seems to have continued only fifteen days. See Gal. i. 18.
Verse 29. Disputed against the Grecians] That is, the Hellenistic Jews, viz. those who lived in Grecian cities, spoke the Greek language, and used the Septuagint Version for their scriptures. And thus the Syriac Version has interpreted this place. See the note on chap. vi. 1. where this subject is largely explained.
Verse 30. They brought him down to Ccesarea] Calmet contends that this was Versanti of Palestine, and not Casarea Philippi; it being his opinion, and indeed that of others, that where this word occurs without any addition, in the New Testament, Ccesarea of Palestine is meant; and not Ccesarea Philippi. See on chap. viii. 40.
Sent him forth to Tarsus.] This was his own city; and it iwas right that he should proclaim to his. own countrymen and relatives that gospel, through which he was become wise to salvation.
Verse 31. Then had the churches rest] Instead of a» txxX^omi, the churches, ABC. several others, the Syriac, Coptic, JEthiopic, Armenian, and Vulgate, have i; £xxA.ijo-ia, the church. Every assembly of God's people was a church; the aggregate of these assemblies was, The Church. The word tterjvyv, which we translate rest, and which literally signifies peace, evidently means, in this place, prosperity; and in this sense, both it, and the Hebrew Dv?i? shalom are repeatedly used. But what was the cause of this rest or success? Some say, the conversion of Saul, who, before, made havoc of the church: but this is not likely, as he could not be a universal cause of persecution and distress, however active and virulent he might have been, during the time of his enmity to the Christian church. Besides, his own persecution, related above, shews that the opposition to the gospel continued with considerable virulence three years after his conversion: therefore, it was not Saul's ceasing to be a persecutor, that gave this rest to the churches. Dr. Lirdner, with a greater show of probability, maintains that this ro*l
wis owing to the following circumstance: Soon after Caligula's accession to the imperial dignity, the Jews at Alexandria suffered very much from the Egyptians in that city; and at length their oratories were all destroyed. In the third year of Caligula, A. D. 39. Petronius, who was made president of Syria in the place of Vitellius, was sent by the emperor to set up his statue in the temple at Jerusalem. This was a thunder-stroke to the Jews, and so occupied them, that they had no time to think of any thing else; apprehending that their temple must be defiled, and the national religion destroyed, or themselves run the risk of being exterminated, if they rebelled against the imperial decree.
The account given by Josephus will set this in a clear point of view. "Caligula sent Petronius to go with an army to Jerusalem, to set up his statues in the temple; enjoining him, if the Jews opposed it, to put to death all that made resistance, and to make all the rest of tiie nation slaves. Petronius therefore marched from Antioch into Judea, with three legions, and a large body of auxiliaries raised in Syria. All were hereupon filled with consternation, the army being come as far as Ptolemais. The Jews then gathering together, went to the plain near Ptolemais, and entreated Petronius in the first place for their laws, in the next place for themselves. Petronius was moved with their solicitations; and,' leaving his army and the statues, went into Galilee, and called an assembly of the heads of the Jews, at Tiberias ; | and having exhorted them, without effect, to submit to the j emperor's orders, said, 'Will ye then fight against Caesar ?' | They answered, that they offered up sacrifices twice every j day for the emperor and the Roman people; but that if he would set up the images, he ought first of all to sacrifice the! whole Jewish nation; and that they were ready to submit themselves, their wives and children, to the slaughter.'' Philo gives a similar account of this transaction. Sue Lardner's Credibility, Works, Vol. I. p. 97, &c.
It appears, therefore, that as these transactions took place about the time mentioned in the text, that their persecution from the Romans, diverted them from persecuting tho Christians; and Then had the churches rest throughout all Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria; the terror occasioned by the imperial decree having spread itself through all those places.
Were edified] Oixofyuou^iyaj; a metaphor taken from a building. 1. The ground is marked out ; 2. the ichnograph, or dimensions of the building asceitained; 3. the foundation is digged; 4. the foundation-stone laid; 5. the walls builded
b throughout all quarters, he came A.M.cir.404i
down also to the saints which dwelt
33 And there he found a certain man named
up, with course upon course; 6. the top-stone brought on; 7. the roof raised, and the whole covered in ; and, 8. the interior part fitted up and adorned, and rendered convenient for the intended inhabitant. This figure frequently occurs in the sacred writings, especially in the New Testament. It has its reason in the original creation of man: God made the first human being as a shrine or temple, in which himself might dwell. Sin entered, and the heavenly building was destroyed. The materials, however, though all dislocated, and covered with rubbish, and every way defiled, yet exist; no essential power or faculty of the soul having been lost. The work of redemption consists in building up this house as it was in the beginning; and rendering it a proper habitation for God. The various powers, faculties, and passions, are all to be purified and refined by the power of the Holy Spirit; and order and harmony restored to the whole soul. All this is beautifully pointed out by St. Peter, 1 Epist. chap, ii. 4, 5. To whom (Jesus Christ) coming as unto a Living Stone, chosen of God and precious, ye also as Living Stones, are Built Up a spiritual Bouse, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God by Jesus Christ. And St. Paul, who, from his own profession as a tent-maker, could best seize on the metaphor, and press it into this spiritual service, goes through the whole figure at large, in the following inimitable words: Ye are the Household of God, and are Built upon the Foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief Corner-stone, in ichom all the Building, Fitly Framed together, growetk unto a Holy Temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are Builded together for a Habitation of God, through the Spirit, Eph. ii. 19—22. Edification signifies, therefore, an increase in the light, life, and power of God; being founded on the doctrine of Christ crucified, having the soul purified from all unrighteousness, a«d fitted, by increasing holiness, to be a permanent residence for the ever blessed Ged.
Walking in the fear of the Lord] Keeping a continually lender conscience; abhorring all sin; having respect to every divine precept; dreading to oflend him, from whom the soul has derived its being and its blessings. Without this salutary fear of God, there never can be any circumspect walking.
1h the comfort of the Holy Ghost] In a consciousness of | their acceptance and union with God, through his Spirit; by i which, solid peace and happiness are brought into the soul j i the truly religious man knowing and feeling that he is of God|
Peter heals Mneas, whe had been
ill of a palsy eight years.
A-M.cir.4o*i. Eneas, which had kept his hed eight
A. D. cir. 37. . _ _ .
An.oiymp. years, and was sick of the palsy.
cir. cciv. l. 34 And peter gaid unto hifnj Eneas,
'Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately.
■ Ch. 3. 6, 16. & 4.10.
by the Spirit which is given him: nothing less can be implied in the comfort of the Holy Ghost.
Were multiplied.'] No wonder that the church of God increased, when such lights as these shone among men. This is a short, but full and forcible description of the righteousness, purity, and happiness of the primitive church.
Verse 32. As Peter passed through all quarters] Aia varruiv, Bp. Pearoe thinks, should be translated not through nil quarters, but through all the saints. The churches having rest, the apostles made use of this interval of quiet, to visit the different congregations, in order to build them up on their most holy faith. Of Saul, we hear no more till chap. x\. SO. which is supposed to be about Jive years after this time; eight in all, from his conversion. Peter, it seems, had coutinued in Jerusalem, all the time that the churches were in a state of persecution throughout the whole land. Great as he was, he never evidenced that steady, determinate courage, by which St. Paul was so eminently distinguished; nor did he ever suffer half so much for God and his truth.
To the saints'] The Jetcs, who had been converted to Christianity.
Which dwelt at Lydda.] A town in the tribe of Ephraim almost on the border of Judea, and nigh unto Joppa: it was about ten leagues from Jerusalem, and was afterwards known by the name of Diospolis, or the city of Jupiter.
Verse 33. A certain man named Eneas] This name has been celebrated in the annals of heathen poetry, in that beautiful work of the poet Virgil, called the vEneid; which gives an account of the misfortunes, travels, wars, &c. of a Trojan prince of this name, after the destruction of his native city Troy. On the difference of names which so frequently occurs in some parts of the Scriptures, Calmet makes the following judicious remarks: As both Greek and Hebrew, or Syriac, were commonly spoken in Palestine, most persons had two names, one Greek and the other Hebrew. Thus Peter was called Cephas in Hebrew, and Petros in Greek. Paul was called Saul in Hebrew, and Paulos in Greek. The person in ver. 36. Tabitha in Hebrew, and Dorcas in Greek. And the paralytic person cured by Peter, Hananiah in Hebrew, and Aineas in Greek. So Thomas was the Hebrew name of the apostle, who in Greek was called Didymus.
Had kept his bed eight years] This was occasioned by a palsy; and now inveterate and hopeless, through its long standing.
Verse 34. Jesus Christ nttdceth tJiee whole] Not Peter, for he had no power, but what was given him from above. And as an instrument, any man could heal with this power, as well as Peter: but God chose to pat honour upon those primitive preachers of his word, that men might see that they were commissioned from heaven.
Arise, and make thy bed.] Give now full proof that Jesus Christ Has made thee whole, by arising, and by making thy bed. He was at home, and therefore was not commanded, as the paralytic person, to take up his bed; but he was ordered to make it, that all might see that the cure was perfect.
Vorse 35. All that dwelt in Lydda ami Saron saw him] Saron was that champaign country that lay between Joppa and Lydda. The long affliction of this man had been well known, and his cure, consequently, became a subject of general examination: it was found to be real. It was known to have been performed by the grace and mercy of Christ; and the consequence of all this conviction was, that all these people became Christians.
Verse 36. Now there was at Jojrpa] This was a sea-port town on the coast of the Mediterranean sea, about a day's journey from Jerusalem. It is supposed to be the same which is called in the Old Testament Japho, which belonged to the tribe of Dan, Josh. xix. 46. It is at present called Jaffa; and is still a place of considerable note.
A certain disciple named Tabitha] This word is more properly Syriac, than Hebrew, j /-*-».r lebitho is the word in the Syriac Version, and is their manner of writing the Hebrew '3S tsebi; the B tcth being changed for the a: IsaddL The word ]-■->; labio, and the feminine )/.■»' tabitho, have
the same meaning as the Hebrew '3X tsebi, and the Greek Aopxcci Dorcas, and signify the gatel or antelope: and it is still customary in the Kast, to give the names of beautiful animals to young women. The comparison of fine eyes to those of the antelope, is continually occurring in the writings of the Arabic and Persian poets. The person in the text probaby had her name in the same way. Stie was very beau*, tiful, and was therefore called Tabitha and Dvreas.
This woman was full of good zcorks] She spent her Irfe in acts of kindness and charity. Her soul was full of love to God and man; and her whole time was filled up with work* of piety and mercy.
Verse 37. She was sick, and died] Even her holiness »nd usefulness could not prevent her from sickness and death. Dust thou art, and to dust thou shall return, is a decree that oast be fulfilled, even on the saints ; for the body is dead, sentenced to death, because of sin, though the Spirit be life because of righteousness.
Whom zchen they had washed] Having the fullest proof that she was dead, they prepared her for her interment. In most nations of the world, it was customary to wash their dead before they buried them ;' and before they laid them out, to lie in stale, as Homer tells us, was the case with the body of Patroclus:
£1; zivuiY-, srap'juriv t-n.tx.Xirr, Su>( A%t\X£v;,
Iliad. xviii. 343.
"So saying, he bade his train surround with fire
A tripod huge, that they might quickly cleanse
Patroclus, from all stains of clotted gore.
Tbey on the blazing hearth a tripod placed,
Iafus'd the water, thrust dry wood beneath,
And soon the flames encompassing around
Its ample belly, warmed the flood within.
Soon as the water in the singing brass
Siromer'd, they balh'd him, and with limpid oil
From head to feet with linen texture light,
And with a wide unsullied mantle last."
The leaking or watching of the dead, was also practised among the ancient Greeks, as we learn from a preceding paragraph, where Achilles, addressing his dead friend Patroclus, tells him,
Tolsx St juii irapa vr,v<ri xcpwvw xettreou ewrwf
Aaifj h i-t Tpuoai Y.a.i AapSayiSsg /sataxoAiroi
KXato-svraj, Vvhto^ re xcu r^arx $a.x.pv%sovroti.
11. xviii. 338. "Mean time, among
My lofty gallies thou shalt lie, with tears
Mourned day and night, by Trojan captives fair
And Dardan, compassing thy bier around."—Cowpeb.
A similar description is given by Virgil of the funeral obsequies of Misenus, j^ueid vi. ver. 212.
Nee minus interea Misenum in litlore Teucri
Pars calidos lathes et ucna undantia jiummis
These rites, in many respects, resemble those still used among the native Irish. See the accouut of the funeral ceremonies of the Egyptians, in the notes on Gen. chap. 1. 2. The primitive Christians washed the bodies of their dead, not only out of decency and affectionate respect to them ; but as a token of f heir iirm belief in the resurrection of tlve dead.
Verse 38. Sent to Peter—desiring that he would not delay to come'] Tabitha died at Joppa, and Peter was at Lydda, about four leagues distant. But why did they send for Peter? We cannot tell. It is not likely that they had any expectation that he should raibe her from the dead; for none of the apostles had as yet raised any: and if God did not cliuso to restore Stephen to life, this favour could not be reasonably expected, in behalf of inferior persons. However, they might hope that he who cured Eneas at Lydda, might cure Dorcas; for it is probable that they had sent for Peter before she died : and in this sense we might understand the axreretXzv of the text.
Verse 39. Shewing the coals and garments'] Xirtvwcj Xm