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Peter is delivered out of

THE ACTS.

prison by an angel.

A i^cir.4W8. 5 peter therefore was kept in pri

A. D. cir. 44. r"

Au. oiymp. son: but * prayer was made without at. ccv. 4. ceasmg 0f tne church unto God

for him.

6 And when Herod would have brought him fofth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.

7 And, behold, b the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.

8 And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did.

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• Or, instant and earnest prayer teas made. 2 Cor. 1. 11. Eph. 6.18. 1 Thes. 5.17 » ch. 6. 19. • Ps. 126.1 * ch. 10. 3,17. & 11. 5.

And he saith unto him, Cast thy gar- A.m.cu-.4ms. ment about thee, and follow me. An. oiymp.

9 And he went out, and followed *•ccv"4" him; and c wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought d he saw a vision.

10 When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that

i leadeth unto the city; e which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.

11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that f the Lord hath sent his angel, and shath delivered me out

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Verse 5. Prayer was made without ceasing] The Greek word sxrevrjs signifies both fervour and earnestness, as well as perseverance. These prayers of the church produced that miraculous interference mentioned below; and without which, Peter could not have thus escaped from the hands of this ruthless king.

Verse 6. Sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains'] Two soldiers guarded his person; his right hand being bound to the left hand of one; and his left hand bound to the right hand of the other. This was the Roman method of guarding their prisoners; and appears to be what is intimated in the text.

Verse 7. Smote Peter on the side] He struck him in such a way, as was just sufficient to awake him from his sleep.

His chains fell off from his hands.] The chains mentioned above, by which he was bound to the two soldiers.

Verse 8. Gird thyself] It seems Peter had put off the principal part of his clothes that he might sleep with more comfort. His resuming all that he had thrown off, was a proof that every thing had been done leisurely. There was no evidence of any hurry; nor of any design to elude justice, or even to avoid meeting his accusers in any legal way. It appears that the two soldiers were overwhelmed by a deep sleep, which fell upon them from God.

Verse 9. Hewist not] He knew not; from the AngloSaxon, pirtan, to know. He supposed himself to be in a dream.

Verse 10. The first andsecond ward] It is supposed that ancient Jerusalem was surrounded by three walls: if so, then passing through the gates of these three walls succes

sively, is possibly, what is meant by the expression in the text. The prison in which he was confined might have been that which was at the outer wall.

Iron gate] This was in the innermost wall of the three; and was strongly plated over with iron, for the greater security. In the East, the gates are often thus secured to the present day. Pitts says so of the gates of Algiers; and Pocock, of some near Antioch. Perhaps this is all that is meant by the iron gate. One of the quaternions of soldiers was placed at each gate.

Which openedof his own accord] Influenced by the unseen power of the angel.

The angel departed from him.] Having brought him into a place in which he no longer needed his assistance. What is proper to God, he always does : what is proper to man, he requires him to perform.

Verse 11. When Peter was come to himself] Every thing he saw astonished him; he could scarcely credit his eyes; he was in a sort of ecstacy; and it was only when the angel left him, that he was fully convinced that all was real.

Now I knowthat the Lord hath sent his angel] The poor German divine is worthy of pity, who endeavoured to persuade himself and his countrymen, that all this talk about the angel was mere illusion: that Peter was delivered in a way which he could not comprehend, and therefore was led to attribute to a particular providence of God, what probably was done by the preefect of the prison, who favoured him! But it is the study of this writer to banish from the word of God all supernatural influence; and to reduce even the miracles of Christ to simple operations of nature, or to the workings of imagination and the prejudices of a weak and credulous

He comes to the house of Mary,

CHAP. XII.

where the disciples are praying.

A.M.cir.*H8. of the hand of Herod, and from all

A. D. cir. 44. * i - .

An.oi>oip. the expectation of the people of the 5CC^4- Jews.

12 And when he had considered the thing, * he came to the house of Mary the mother ofb John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together c praying.

13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came d to hearken, named Rhoda.

14 And when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness; but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.

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people. Such men should at once cast off the mask which so thinly covers their infidelity; and honestly avow themselves to be what they are, the enemies of revelation in general; and of the Christian religion in particular. Peter could say, Now I twos of a certainly that the Lord hath tent hit angel, and delivered me, o/c. No such thing, says Mr. E. Peter was deceived; it was not the Lord, it was the prafect or some other person.—Now we know that Peter spake by the Holy Ghost: but we have no such testimony of Mr. E. nor of any of his associates.

And all the expectation of theJews.'] It seems they had built much on the prospect of having him sacrificed, as they already had James.

Verse 12. And when he had considered] When he had weighed every thing, and was fully satisfied of the divine interposition; he went to the house of Mary the mother of John Mark, the author of the Gospel, where it appears many were gathered together making prayer and supplication, and probably for Peter's release.

Verse 13. As Peter knocked] The door was probably shut for fear of the Jews: and as most of the houses in the East have an area before the door, it might have been at this outer gate, that Peter stood knocking.

A damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.] She came to inquire who was t li re. Rhoda signifies a rose; and it appears to have been customary with the Jews, as Grotius and others remark, to give the names of flowers and trees to their daughters: thus Susannah signifies a lily, Hadassah, a myrtle, Tanar, a palm tree, &c. &c.

Verse 15. It is his angel.] It was a common opinion among the Jews that every man has a guardian angel: and in the popish church, it is an article of faith. The Jews also believed that angels often assumed the likeness of particular persons. They have many stories of the appearance of Elijah

15 And they said unto her, Thou AM.dr.4048.

J 'A. D. cir. 44.

art mad. But she constantly affirmed An. oiy»p. that it was even so. Then said they, cir- ccv- *• 8 It is his angel.

16 But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.

17 But he, 'beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place.

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in the likeness of different Rabbins. As a.yl'tXo; signifies in general, a messenger, whether divine or human; some have thought that the angel or messenger here, means a servant or person which the disciples supposed was sent from Peter to announce something of importance to the brethren: it was also an opinion among the Jews, even in the time of the apostles, as appears from Philo, that the departed souls of good men officiated as ministering angels: and it is possible that the disciples at Mary's house, might suppose that Peter had been murdered in the prison; and that his spirit was now come to announce this event, or give some particular warning to the church.

Verse 17. Declaredhots the Lord had brought him out of the prison] He still persisted in the belief, that his deliverance was purely supernatural. It seems that some modern critics could have informed him of his mistake. See ver. 11.

Shew these things unto James, and to tiie brethren] That is. in one word, shew them to the church, at the head of which, James undoubtedly was; as jwe may clearly understand by the part he took in the famous council held at Jerusalem, relative to certain differences between the believing Jews and Gentiles. See chap. xv. 13—21. There is still no supremacy for Peter. He who was bishop or overseer of the church at Jerusalem, was certainly at the head of the whole church of God at this time; but James was then bishop or inspector of the church at Jerusalem, and consequently, was the only visible head then upon earth.

He departedinto another place.] Some popish writers say that he went to Rome, and founded a Christian church there. Those who can believe any thing, may believe this. Where he went we know not; but it is probable that he withdrew for the present into a place of privacy, till the heat of the inquiry was over, relative to his escape from the prison: for he saw that Herod was intent on his death.

The people of Tyre and

THE ACTS.

Sidon displease Herod,

A.M.cir.4W8. Jg J^QW ag goon ag ;t vyag d tn
A. D. cir. 44. *'

Aw. oiymp. was no small stir among- the soldiers, f!rlc_Y"_l: what was become of Peter.

19 And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judea to Caesarea, and there abode.

20 H And Herod a was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with

* Or, bare an hostile mind, intending iror. * Gr. that ita» over the king's

bed chamber.

Verse 19. Commanded that they should be put to death.'] He believed, or pretended to believe, that the escape of Peter was owing to the negligence of the keepers: jailers, watchmen, &c. ordinarily suffered the same kind of punishment which should have been inflicted on the prisoner, whose escape they were supposed to have favoured.

He Kent dozen from Judea to Caesarea] How soon he went down, and how long he staid there, we know not.

Verse 20. Highly displeased icith them of Tyre] On what account Herod was thus displeased, is not related by any historian, as far as I have been able to ascertain. Josephus who speaks of this journey of Herod to Caesarea, says nothing of it; and it is useless for us to conjecture.

Having made Blastustheir friend] Blastus was probably an eunuch, and had considerable influence over his master Herod ; and to reach the master, it is likely they bribed the chamberlain.

Desired peace] The Tyrians and Sidonians being equally subjects of the Roman government, with the inhabitants of Galilee, Herod could not go to war with them; but being irritated against them, he might prevent their supplies: they therefore endeavoured to be on peaceable, i. e. friendly terms with him.

Their country was nourished by the Icing's country.] That is, they had all their supplies from Galilee; for Tyre and Sidon being places of trade and commerce, with little territory; were obliged to have all their provisions from the countries under Herod's jurisdiction. This had been the case even from the days of Solomon, as we learn from 1 Kings v. 11. where it is said, that, Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand measures of wheat, for food to his household; and itaenty measures of pure oil: thus gave Solomon to Hiram year by year. See also Ezek. xxvii. 17.

Verse 21. Upon a set day, S{c.] A day on which games, &c. were exhibited in honour of the Roman emperor. What this refers to, we learn from Josephus. "Herod havjng reigned three years over All Judea, (he had reigned over the

one accord to him; and, having A-m.cu-.4om.

I V>i k i i' . , A. D. cir. 44.

made iilastus the king's chamber- An. oiymp. lain their friend, desired peace; be- eif- ccv-4cause c their country was nourished by the king's country.

21 And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them.

22 And the people gave a shout, saying, It i$ the voice of a god, and not of a man.

• 1 Kings 5. 9, 11. Ezek. 27.17.

tetrarchy of his brother Philip, four years before this) went down to Ca'sarea and there exhibited shows and games in honour of Claudius, and made vows for his health. On the second day of these shows, he put on a garment made wholly of silver, and of a contexture most truly wonderful; and came into the theatre early in the morning; at which time the silver of his garment being illuminated by the first reflexion of the sun's rays, shone out after a surprising manner; and was so resplendent as to spread a horror over those who looked intently upon him: and presently his flatterers cried out, one from one place, and another from another, "He is a god:" and they added, "Be thou merciful to us, for although we have hitherto reverenced thee only as a man, yet shall we henceforth own thee as superior to mortal nature." Nor did the king rebuke them, nor reject their impious flattery. But looking up he saw an owl on a certain rope over his head, and immediately conceived that this bird was to him a messenger of ill-tidings; and he fell into the deepest sorrow; a severe pain also arose in his bowels, and he died after five days' severe illness." This is the sum of the account given by Josephus, Ant. lib. xix. cap. viii. sect. 2. [See Winston's Edition.] Notwithstanding the embellishments of the Jewish historian, it agrees in the main surprisingly, with the account given here by St. Luke. Josephus, it is true, suppresses some circumstances which would have been dishonourable to this impious king; and according to his manner, puts a speech in Herod's mouth, when he found himself struck with death, expressive of much humility and contrition. But this speech is of no authority. When Josesephus takes up and pursues the thread of mere historical narration, he may be safely trusted: but whenever he begins to embellish, or put speeches in the mouths of his actors, he is no longer to be credited. He even here, transforms an angel of the Lord, into an Oki; and introduces it most improbably into his narration: as if an owl, a bird of all others that can least bear the light, should come and perch on the pavillion of the king, when the sun was shining Kith the most resplendent rays!

Herod full ofarrogance, is smitten of CHAP. XII. God, and dies a most miserable death.

A.M.cir.4048. 23 And immediately the angel of

A.D.cir.44. , . , k ,

An.oijTnp. the Lord 'smote him, because he cir. ccv. 4. gaye not Q^ tne g]ory: anti he was

eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost. 24 1 But c the word of God grew and multiplied.

»1 Sam. 25. 38. 2 Sam. 24. 17. b Ps. 115. 1. «Isai. 56. 11.

ch. 6, 7. & 19. 20. Col. 1. 6.

Verse 23. The angel of the Lord smote him] His death was most evidently a judgment from God.

Because he gave not God the glory] He did not rebuke his flatterers, but permitted them to give him that honour that was due to God alone. See on ver. 21.

And was eaten of worms] Whether this was the morbus pedieularis, or whether a violent inflammation of his bowels, terminating in putrefaction, did not actually produce norms, which for several days, swarmed in his infected entrails, we cannot tell. It is most likely that this latter was the case; ind this is at once more agreeable to the letter of the text, and to the circumstances of the case, as related by Josephus.

And gave up the ghost.'] That is, he died of the disorder by which he was then seized, after having lingered in excruciating torments, for five days, as Josephus has stated. Antiochu* F-piphanes, and Herod the Great, died of the same kind of disease. See the observations at the end of chap. i. relative to the death of Judas.

Verse 24. But the word of God] The Christian doctrine preached by the apostles, grew and multiplied; became more cxident, and had daily accessions; for the spirit of revelation rested on those men, and God was daily adding to that word as circumstances required, in order to complete that testimony of his, which we now find contained iu the New Testament. As there is in the original, an allusion to the vegetation of grain, (r/*£z.-/s, it grew, as corn grows, the stalk and the ear; y.iiix>.rfihvtra, it teas multiplied,** the corn is in the full ear,) there is probably a reference to the parable of the Sower and his Seed; for the seed is the word of God, and the doctrine of the kingdom. It was liberally sown; it grew vigorously; and became greatly multiplied. And why? because it was the word, the doctrine of God, there was no corruption in it: and because God watered it with the dew of heaven from on high.

Verse 25. Returned from Jerusalem] That is, to Antioch, after the death of Herod.

When they had fulfdled their ministry] When they had carried the alms of the Christians at Antioch, to the poor saints at Jerusalem, according to what is mentioned, chap, xi. 29, 30. to support them in the time of the coming famine.

And took Kith them John, whose surname was Mark.] This

25 I And Barnabas and Saul re- A; ":*•*»».•■

A. D. nr. 44.

turned from Jerusalem, when they An. oiymp. had fulfilled their d ministry, and cirCCV:4.: 'took with them f John, whose surname was Mark.

« Or, charge, ch. 11. 29, 30. • ch. 13. 5,13. & 15. 37.

6 'ver. 12.

was the son of Mary, mentioned ver. 12. He accompanied the apostles to Cyprus, and afterwards in several of their voyages till they came to Perga'in Vamphylia. Finding them about to take a more extensive voyage, he departed from them. See the case chap. xiii. 13. and xv. 37—40.

1. When the nature, spirit, and tendency of Christianity are considered, we may well be astonished that it should ever find a persecutor among the souls it was designed to instruct and save! Devils can have no part in it, and therefore we may naturally expect them, through envy and malice, to oppose it; but that men, for whose use and salvation the wisdom and mercy of God made it, should reject its offers of

I mercy, and persecute to death those who proclaimed it, is the most unaccountable thing that can be conceived. What a proof is this of mere maliciousness, where the persecutor not only serves no self-interest by it, but destroys, as far as he can, all that could promote his own present and eternal happiness! This argues such blindness of understanding, hardness of heart, and derangement of mind, as can be accounted for only on the supposition of a nature totally fallen from God, righteousness, and truth. The Jews crucify Christ, and martyr Stephen; and Herod murders James; and both join together to persecute the followers of Christ and destroy his cause. Reader, consider the consequences: this bad people were permitted to remain till they had filled up the measure of their iniquity; and were then cut off by a most terrible judgment: and Herod was visited for his transgressions in such a most awful way, as strongly marked the displeasure of God against persecutors. If a man contend with a man, the contest is in a certain way equal: the potsherds strive with the potsherds of the earth: but when a man enters the lists against his Maker, as every persecutor does, woe unto that man I he must be torn in pieces, when there is none to deliver.

2. How true is the saying, there is neither counsel nor might against the Lord. In the midst of all troubles and afflictions, that kingdom of heaven which is like a grain of mustard seed, grew and increased, and became a mighty tree which is now filling the whole earth ; and fowl of every wing, are flying to lodge in its branches. Ride on and be thou prosperous, O Christ! we wish thee good luck with thine honour.

Names of certain prophets

THE ACTS.

and teachers at Antioch.

CHAPTER XIII.

Of the prophets and teachers in the church of Antioch, 1. By command of the Holy Spirit, the church appoints Saul and Barnabas to a particular work, 2, 3. They depart and travel to Seleucia, Cyprus, and Salamis, preaching in the Jewish synagogues, 4, 5. At Paphos they meet with Barjesus or Elymas a Jewish sorcerer, who endeavoured to prevent the Deputy of the island, from receiving the Christian faith, 6—8. Saul, for the first time called Paul, denounces the judgments of God upon him, and he is struck blind, 9—11. The Deputy serin" this, is confirmed in the faith, 12. Paul and his company leave Paphos, and come to Pamphylia, where John Mark leaves them, and returns to Jerusalem, 13. Paul and Barnabas proceed to Antioch; and coming into a synagogue of the Jews, are requested by the rulers of it to preach to the people, 14, 15. Paul preaches, and proves that Jesus is the Christ, 16—41. The Gentiles desire the sermon to be preached to them the next sabbath, and many of the Jews and proselytes receive the Christian faith, 42, 43. The next sabbath the whole city attend; and the Jews, filled with envy, contradict and blaspheme, 44,45. Paul and Barnabas with great boldness shew, that by the order of God the gospel was to be preached first to them; but seeing they had rejected it, it should now be taken from them, and sent to the Gentiles, 46, 47. The Gentiles rejoice and receive the truth, 48, 49. The Jews raise a persecution against the apostles, and expel them, 50. 'They come to Iconium, full of joy and the Holy Ghost, 51, 52.

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NOTKS ON CHAP. XIII.

Verse 1. Certain prophets and teachers] Tlpo^rui xai $i$a.<rx.a.XGi. It is probable that these were not distinct offices: both might be vested in the same persou. By prophets we are to understand, when the word is taken simply, persons who were frequently inspired to predict future events; and by teachers, persons whose ordinary office was to instruct the people in the Christian doctrine. These also, to be properly qualified for the office, must have been endued with the influence of the Holy Spirit; for as but a very small portion of the scriptures of the New Testament could have as yet been given, it was necessary that the teachers should derive much of their own teaching by immediate revelation from God. On prophets and teachers, see the note on chap. ii. 27.

Barnabas] Of whom see before, chap. xi. 22—24.

SimeonNiger] Or Simeon the Black, either because of his complexion, or his hair. It was on reasons of this kind that surnames, surnonis, name upon name, were first imposed. Of this Simeon nothing farther is kuown. ,

Lucius of Cyrene] See chap. xi. 20.

Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod] Our margin has given the proper meaning of the original word ervytpotpof a foster-brother; i. e. Manaen was the son of the

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woman who nursed Herod Antipas; and the son also, whose milk the young Herod shared. Of a person whose name was Manaen or Menahem, and who was in the court of Herod, we read several things in the Jewish writers. They say that this man had the gift of prophecy, and that he told Herod when he was but a child, that he would be king. When Herod became king he sent for him to his court; and held him in great estimation. It might have been the son of this Menahem, of whom St. Luke here speaks. Dr. Lightfoot has shewn this to be at least possible.

Verse 2. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted] On Mondays and Thursdays it was usual with the more pious Jews to attend the public service in their synagogues, and to fast: the former is what we are to understand by ministering to the Lord. On the sabbaths they attended the service in the synagogue, but did not fast. The Greek word, XeirovpymivruiY, signifies performing the office of praying, supplicating, rendering thanks, &c. hence the word keiTepyta liturgy, the work of prayer, &c. from Ainj supplication, according to some; or rather from Aeitoc common, and tpyor voork, the common or public work in which all the people were engaged.

The Holy Ghost said] A revelation of the divine will was made to some person then present; probably to either Simeon, or Lucius, or Manaen mentioned before.

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