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Bible Commentaries

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

Acts 21



Verse 4

That he should not go up; that is, warned him of the danger of going.

Verse 8

We that were of Paul's company; that is, the whole company, including Paul himself.--Seven; seven deacons.

Verse 9

Prophesy. This word, as very often used in such a connection, denotes, here, publicly preaching the gospel.

Verse 10

Agabus; mentioned before, Acts 11:28.

Verse 15

Carriages; used here in the sense of things to be carried.

Verse 16

An old disciple; an early disciple.--With whom we should lodge; that is, at Jerusalem.

Verse 18

James. James seems to have occupied a prominent place among the Christians at Jerusalem at this time. There is a tradition that the church at that place was officially under his charge. (See Acts 12:17,15:13.)

Verse 21

That thou teachest, &c. This was not true. Paul had taught that the Gentiles themselves were not bound to obey the laws of Moses, as a condition of admission to the Christian church; but he had not interfered at all with the continued observance of these laws by the Jews themselves.--To walk after the customs; to observe the customs of the Jewish law.

Verse 24

Purify thyself with them, &c.; that is, they proposed that he should publicly engage in the performance of a Jewish rite, in order that the people might see that he still, himself, adhered to the Jewish law. It is very doubtful, however, whether it was wise for Paul to accede to this proposal. Assuming appearances for the sake of effect, is generally very unsafe policy. It places us in false positions, which are very apt to end in disastrous results, as, in fact, was the case in this instance. We must judge of such an act as this in the history of Paul, upon its own merits, and no, consider it sanctioned by his inspiration. Inspiration can be claimed only for the writings of the apostles. In their acts they were liable to err, as well as Moses, or David, or any other of the sacred penmen. (See Acts 23:3-5.) For the law relating to the ceremonies referred to in this transaction, see Numbers 6:13-21.

Verse 25

We have written and concluded, &c.; on the occasion of the council, as recorded Acts 15:15-29:

Verse 30

The doors were shut; the gates of the temple,--closed by those who had charge of them, from fear of the tumult.

Verse 31

The chief captain. There was a tower near the temple, called the tower of Antonia, where a Roman military force was stationed, especially on all the public festal occasions of the Jews, to guard against public disturbances. The chief captain here mentioned was the commander of this guard. His name, as afterwards appears, was Claudius Lysias. The governor of Judea, whose name was Felix, resided at Cesarea.

Verse 34

Into the castle; the castle or tower of Antonia.

Verse 35

Stairs; leading up the rock on which the castle was built.

Verse 37

Canst thou speak Greek? Paul probably asked the question in the Greek tongue, at which the chief captain was surprised, as it was a mark of cultivation and refinement to understand that language.

Verse 38

That Egyptian. The Egyptian here referred to was, perhaps, one of those false Christs predicted by Jesus, in Mark 13:5,6.

Verse 40

License; liberty.--In the Hebrew tongue. Though he had spoken to the officer in Greek, he addressed the populace in the Hebrew, that being the language of the great mass of the inhabitants of Jerusalem.


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These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Acts 21:4". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". 1878.

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