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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Acts 28



Verses 1-31

St. Paul a Prisoner at Rome

1. They.. they] RV 'we.. we.' Melita] RM 'Melitene.' Melita is certainly Malta, and not (as has been erroneously supposed) Meleda off the Illyrian coast. Tradition correctly locates the shipwreck in St. Paul's Bay, about 8 m. NW. of Valetta.

2. The barbarous people] RV 'the barbarians.' The Gk. word does not imply that they were uncivilised, but only that they were neither Greeks nor Romans.

3. Cp. Mark 16:18. As St. Paul was arranging the faggot on the fire, the viper, feeling the heat, glided out of the faggot and bit the Apostle's hand. There are now no vipers in Malta, but the clearing of the ancient forests, and the great density of the population, are sufficient to account for their disappearance.

4. Vengeance] rather, 'Justice' (personified as a goddess). A god] cp. the events at Lystra (Acts 14:11), which also illustrate the popular levity of judgment.

7. The chief man] lit. 'the first man.' Inscriptions show that this title is technically correct. Malta was part of the province of Sicily, and Publius was a subordinate of the praetor of Sicily. Tradition places his house at Città-Vecchia.

8. Bloody flux] RV 'dysentery.' Observe in this v. the technical medical language.

9. Others] We have here the firsthand evidence of a competent medical witness to the reality of St. Paul's miraculous cures.

11. After three months] i.e. probably somewhat early in February, before the usual time of navigation. Castor and Pollux] (lit. 'the Dioscuri'), the twin sons of Jupiter, and tutelary deities of sailors.

12. Landing] RV 'touching.' Syracuse] 100 m. N. of Malta, the capital of Sicily, and a Roman colony.

13. Fetched a compass] i.e. made a circuit. Rhegium] an ancient Gk. colony situated on the Italian side of the Straits of Messina, near the dreaded rock of Scylla, and the whirlpool of Charybdis. Puteoli] also called Dicæarchia, was (with Ostia) the great corn mart of Italy, where the Alexandrian cornships discharged their cargoes. It lay on the N. shore of the Bay of Naples, and contained a certain number of Jews.

15. Appii forum] RV 'the Market of Appius,' was 43 Roman m. S. of Rome on the great Appian Road, the main line of communication between Rome and the East. The Three Taverns] 10 Roman miles from the capital.

Verses 16-31

St. Paul in Rome (28:16-31)

16. The captain of the guard] either the captain of the prætorian guard (proefectus proetorio), or, more probably, the captain of the troops called frumentarii, whose camp was on the Coelian hill: see on Acts 27:1. To dwell by himself] This exceptional treatment was due to the favourable report of Festus and the goodwill of the centurion.

17. Called the chief of the Jews together] or, 'called together the Jewish community first,' in accordance with his usual plan of preaching to the Jews before he preached to the Gentiles.

21. It is somewhat strange that the chief priests did not write. Perhaps they did, but the letter was delayed, or miscarried.

22. The Jews profess no first-hand knowledge of the Christians, hence it is evident that at Rome the Church and the Synagogue were already definitely separated. The expulsion of the Jews from Rome by Claudius is probably the cause of this. There being no Jewish community, the infant Church started as a mainly non-Jewish body.

25. See Isaiah 6:9. Our fathers] RV 'your fathers.' St. Paul renounces fellowship with the unbelieving Jews.

29. This v. is omitted by important ancient authorities, but much is to be said for its genuineness.

30. Two whole years] Such delays of justice were not unusual. In this case the delay was apparently caused, (1) by the loss of the official papers in the wreck, (2) by the non-appearance of the accusers, (3) by the difficulty of getting together the witnesses. During this imprisonment St. Paul wrote the Epistles to the Philippians, Colossians, Ephesians, and Philemon. At his first trial he was acquitted, and released. A few years later he was again arrested, brought to trial at Rome, condemned, and executed.

On Rome and the Roman Church, see the Intro, to the Epistle to the Romans.


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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Acts 28:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.

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