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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Acts 21

 

 

Introduction

CHAPTER 21

Acts 21:3. κατήχθημεν] A B E א, 34, Vulg. al. have κατήλθομεν . So Lachm. A gloss.

Acts 21:4. Both ἀνευρ. δέ (Tisch.) and τούς before μαθ. (which Beng. Matth. Rinck condemn) have decided attestation.

αὐτοῦ] A E G, 68, 73 have αὐτοῖς; so Lachm. Alteration to suit οἵτινες. “Ubicunque in s. s. αὐτοῦ repertum est, scrupulum legentibus injecit,” Born.

ἀναβ.] Lachm. Tisch. read ἐπιβ., according to important testimony. Rightly; the more usual word was inserted.

Acts 21:5-6. προσηυξάμεθα. καὶ ἀσπασάμενοι] Lachm. and Tisch. read προσευξάμενοι ἁπησπασάμεθα, and then καί before ἐπεβ. So A B C E א, min. Rightly. The Recepta has arisen partly through a simplifying resolution of the participle προσευξάμενοι, and partly through offence at the compound ἀπασπάζεσθαι not elsewhere occurring.

Acts 21:6. ἐπέβημεν] Lachm. reads ἐνέβ., and Tisch. ἀνέβ. The witnesses are much divided. As, however, a form with N is at all events decidedly attested, A C א * having ανεβ., and B E א ** ενεβ.; ἀνέβημεν is to be preferred, instead of which ἐυέβ., the more usual word for embarking, slipped in, and ἐπεβ. was inserted from Acts 21:2, comp. Acts 28:2.

Acts 21:8. After ἐξελθ. Elz. has οἱ περὶ τ. παῦλον (comp. Acts 13:13), against decisive testimony. With ἐξελθ. there begins a church-lesson.

Acts 21:10. ἡμῶν] is condemned by A B C H, min., as an addition.

Acts 21:11. τε αὑτοῦ] A B C D E א, min. have ἑαυτοῦ . Approved by Griesb. Rinck, and adopted by Lachm. Tisch. Born., and rightly on account of the decisive testimony. Orig. also testifies for it ( ἑαυτὸν χειρῶν κ. τ. λ.).

τὰς χεῖρας κ. τ. πόδας] Lachm. Tisch. Born. read τ. πόδ. κ. τ. χ., preferred also by Rinck, following important witnesses (not A), but evidently a transposition, in accordance with the natural course of the action.

ἐν ἱερουσ.] Born, reads εἰς ἱερουσ., but only according to D, min. Chrys. Epiph. It arose from a gloss (Orig.: ἀπελθόντα εἰς ἱερουσ.).

Acts 21:14. On decisive evidence read with Lachm. and Tisch. τοῦ κυρίου τὸ θέλημα γινέσθω.

Acts 21:15. ἐπισκ.] Elz. Scholz read ἀποσκ., only according to min.; so that it must be regarded as a mere error of transcription. The decidedly attested ἐπισκ. is rightly approved or adopted by Mill, Beng. Griesb. Matthaei, Knapp, Rinck, Lachm. Tisch. The readings παρασκ. (C, 7, 69, 73) and ἀποταξάμ. (D, Born.) are interpretations.

Acts 21:20. θεόν] Approved by Griesb., and adopted by Lachm. Tisch., according to A B C E G א, min. Chrys. Theophyl. and most vss. Elz. Scholz, Born. read κύριον, against these decisive witnesses.

ἰουδαίων] Lachm. Tisch. read ἐν τοῖς ἰουδαίοις, which is to be adopted, according to A B C E, min. Vulg. Aeth. Copt. The ἐν τῇ ἰουδαίᾳ in D, Syr. Sahid. Jer. Aug. speaks also for this (so Born.). The Recepta was occasioned by the following τῶν πεπιστευκότων, after which accordingly in some Fathers ἰονδαίων has found its place. א, Oec. and some min. have merely τῶν πεπιστ., which makes all these additions suspicious, yet the testimony is not sufficiently strong for their deletion.

Acts 21:21. πάντας] deleted by Lachm., according to A D* E, 13, Vulg. Copt. Jer. Aug. The omission appears to be a historical emendation.

Acts 21:24. γνώσονται] Elz. reads γνῶσι, in opposition to A B C D E א, min. Aug. Jer. and some vss. A continuation of the construction of ἵνα .

Acts 21:25. ἐπεστείλαμεν] Lachm. Born, read ἀπεστείλαμεν, according to B D, 40, and some vss. Rightly; the Recepta is from Acts 15:20.

μηδέν to μή is wanting in A B א, 13, 40, 81, and several vss. Condemned by Mill and Bengel, and deleted by Lachm. But if it had been added, the expressions of Acts 15:28 would have been used. On the other hand, the omission was natural, as the direct instruction μηδὲν τοιοῦρον τηρεῖν is not contained in the apostolic decree.

Acts 21:28. The form πανταχῆ is, with Lachm. and Tisch., to be adopted according to decisive evidence; it is not elsewhere found in the N.T.

Acts 21:31. συγκέχυται] Lachm. and Born. read συγχύνεται, according to A B D א (in C, Acts 21:31 to Acts 22:30 is wanting). With this preponderating testimony (comp. Vulg.: confunditur), and as, after Acts 21:30, the perfect easily presented itself as more suitable, the present is to be preferred.

Acts 21:32. παραλαβ.] Lachm. reads λαβών, only according to B.

Acts 21:34. ἐβόων] Lachm. Tisch. Born read ἐπεφώνουν, according to A B D E א, min., which witnesses must prevail.

μὴ δυνάμενος δέ] Lachm. Tisch. Born, (yet the latter has deleted δέ) read μὴ δυναμένου δὲ αὐτοῦ, according to decisive testimony. The Recepta is a stylistic emendation.

So κρᾶζον, Acts 21:36, is to be judged, instead of which κράζοντες is, with Lachm. and Tisch., to be preferred.


Verse 1-2

Acts 21:1-2. ἀποσπασθ.] denotes the painful separation, wrung from them by the consciousness of necessity. See on Luke 22:41.

On the small island Cos, now Co, or Stanchio in the Aegean Sea, celebrated for its wine and manufacture of costly materials for dress, see Küster, de Co insula, Hal. 1833. On the accusative form, see Locella, ad Xen. Eph. p. 165 f.

τὰ πάταρα] a great seaport of Lycia, with an oracle of Apollo active only during the six winter months. For its ruins, see Fellows, Asia Minor, p. 219 f.

διαπερῶν] which was in the act of sailing over. For ἀναχθῆναι, comp. on Acts 13:13.


Verse 3

Acts 21:3. ἀναφανέντες δὲ τὴν κύπρ.] but when we had sighted Cyprus. The expression is formed analogously to the well-known construction πεπίστευμαι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον and the like. Winer, p. 244[E. T. 326]; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 164 [E. T. 189].

εὐώνυμον] an adjective to αὐτήν. See Kühner, § 685, and examples in Wetstein.

εἰς συρίαν] towards Syria. See on Galatians 1:21.

κατάγεσθαι, to run in, to land, the opposite of ἀνάγεσθαι (Acts 21:1-2), Acts 27:2, Acts 28:12; Luke 5:11; often with Greek writers since the time of Homer.

ἐκεῖσε γὰργόμον] for thither the ship unladed its freight; ἐκεῖσε denotes the direction (toward the city) which they had in view in the unlading (in the harbour).

ἀποφορτιζ.] does not stand pro futuro (in opposition to Grotius, Valckenaer, Kuinoel, and others), but ἦν ἀποφ. means: it was in the act of its unlading. Comp. Winer, p. 328 [E. T. 439].


Verse 4

Acts 21:4. ἀνευρόντες] See on Luke 2:16. The Christians there ( τοὺς μαθ.) were certainly only few (see Acts 11:19, Acts 15:3), so that they had to be sought out in the great city of Tyre. πάντωντέκνοις, Acts 21:5, also points to a small number of Christians.

διὰ τοῦ πνεύματος] so that the Holy Spirit (speaking within them) was the mediating occasion. The Spirit had testified to them that a fate full of suffering awaited Paul in Jerusalem, and this in their loving zealous care they took as a valid warning to him not to go to Jerusalem. But Paul himself was more fully and correctly aware of the will of the Spirit; he was certain that, in spite of the bonds and sufferings which the Spirit made known to him from city to city, he must go to Jerusalem (Acts 20:22).


Verse 5-6

Acts 21:5-6. ἐξαρτίσαι] cannot here denote to fit out (Lucian, V. H. i. 33; Joseph. Antt. iii. 2. 2; comp. 2 Timothy 3:17), to provide the necessaries for the journey, partly because the protasis: “but when we fitted out in those days” (not: had fitted out), would not suit the apodosis, and partly because in general there was no reason for a special and lengthened provisioning in the case of such a very short voyage. Hence we must adhere to the rendering usual since the Vulgate (expletis diebus) and Chrysostom ( πληρῶσαι): but when it happened that we completed the (seven) days of our residence there, i.e. when we brought these days to a close. And that ἐξαρτίζειν was really so used by later writers, is to be inferred from the similar use of ἀπαρτίζειν (Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 447).

σὺν γυναιξὶ κ. τεκν.] the more readily conceivable and natural in the case of the small body of Christians after so long a stay. Baumgarten finds here the design of a special distinction of the church.

ἐπὶ τὸν αἰγιαλ.] on the shore, because this was the place of the solemn parting. Hammond, overlooking this natural explanation, imagined quite arbitrarily that there was a προσευχή (see on Acts 16:13) on the shore.

ἀπησπασάμεθα (see the critical remarks): we took leave of one another, Himerius, p. 184. Lachmann, Praef. p. IX., unnecessarily conjectures ἀντησπασάμεθα.

εἰς τὰ ἴδια] to their habitations. Comp. on John 16:32; John 16:27; and see Valckenaer, p. 581 f.

Whether the ship prepared for the voyage ( τὸ πλοῖον) was the same in which they had arrived, cannot be determined.


Verse 7

Acts 21:7. διανύειν] to complete entirely, only here in the N.T., but very often in classical writers, particularly of ways, journeys, and the like. But we, entirely bringing to an end ( διανύσαντες is contemporaneous with κατηντήσαμεν) the voyage, arrived from Tyre (from which we had sailed for this last stage) at Ptolemais (from which we now continued our journey by land).

τ. πλοῦν] from Macedonia, Acts 20:6. πτολεμάϊς, the ancient עַכּוֹ (even yet called by the Arabs عكد, by the Europeans St. Jean d’ Acre), on the Mediterranean Sea, belonging to the tribe of Asher (Judges 1:13), but never possessed by the Jews (hence Hiros. Gittin. f. 43. 3 : “In Acone est terra Israelitica, et non”), reckoned by the Greeks as belonging to Phoenicia (Ptol. v. 15; Strabo, xvi. p. 758; Plin. N. H. v. 17), and endowed by Claudius with the Roman citizenship.


Verse 8-9

Acts 21:8-9. καισάρ.] See on Acts 8:40.

What induced the travellers to make their journey by way of Caesarea? Baumgarten thinks that, as representatives of the converted Gentiles, they wished to come in contact on the way only with Gentile churches. No; simply, according to the text, because Philip dwelt in Caesarea, and with this important man they purposed to spend some time in the interest of their vocation.

τοῦ εὐαγγ. ὄντος ἐκ τῶν ἑπτά] Since it was not his former position as overseer of the poor, but his present position as evangelist, that made him so important to the travellers, namely, through his participation in the calling of a teacher, the words are not to be rendered: because he was one of the seven, Acts 6:5 (comp. Winer, p. 127[E. T. 168], de Wette); but the comma after εὐαγγ. is to be deleted (so also Tisch. Born.), and the whole is to be taken together: who was the evangelist out of the seven. He was that one of the seven, who had embraced and prosecuted the calling of an evangelist. The fact that he now dwelt at Caesarea presupposes that he no longer filled the office which he held in Jerusalem. Perhaps the peculiar skill in teaching which he developed as an emigrant (Acts 8:5 ff., Acts 8:26 ff.) was the reason why he, released from his former ministry, entered upon that of an evangelist. To regard the words ὄντος ἐκ τ. ἑπτά as an addition of the compiler (Zeller), and also to suspect εὐαγγελιστής (Steitz in the Stud. u. Krit. 1868, p. 510), there is no sufficient reason. Evangelists were assistant-missionaries, who, destined exclusively for no particular church, either went forth voluntarily, or were sent by the apostles and other teachers of apostolic authority now here and now there, in order to proclaim the εὐαγγέλιον of Jesus Christ, and in particular the living remembrances of what He taught and did,(117) and thereby partly to prepare the way for, and partly to continue, the apostolic instruction, Ephesians 4:11; Eus. H. E. iii. 37.

Euseb. iii. 31, 39, v. 24, following Polycrates and Caius, calls this Philip an apostle, which is to be regarded as a very early confusion of persons, going back even to the second century and found also in the Constitt. ap. vi. 7. 1, and is not to be disposed of, with Olshausen, to the effect that Eusebius used ἀπόστολος in the wider sense, which, considering the very sameness in name of the apostle and evangelist, would be very inappropriate. But Gieseler’s view also (Stud. u. Krit. 1829, p. 139 ff.), that the apostle Philip had four daughters, and that Acts 21:9 is an interpolation by one who had confounded the apostle with the deacon, is to be rejected, as the technical evidence betrays no interpolation, and as at all events our narrative, especially as a portion of the account in the first person plural, precedes that of Eusebius.

θυγατέρες παρθένοι] virgin (intactae) daughters. On the adjective παρθένος, comp. Xen. Mem. i. 5. 2 : θυγατέρας παρθένους, Cyrop. iv. 6. 9; Lobeck, ad Aj. 1190.

προφητ.] who spoke in prophetic inspiration, had the χάρισμα of προφητεία. See on Acts 11:27.

The whole observation in Acts 21:9 is an incidental remarkable notice, independent of the connection of the history;(118) to the contents of which, however, on account of its special and extraordinary character, the precept in 1 Corinthians 14:34, 1 Timothy 2:12, is not to be applied; nor yet is any justification of the life of nuns to be founded on it, with the Catholics (see Cornelius a Lapide). Comp. Luke 2:36. Baumgarten thinks that the virginity of the daughters corresponds to the condition of the church, which looks forward to her betrothal only in the future. This is exegetical trifling.(119)


Verse 10-11

Acts 21:10-11. ἐπιμενόντων] without a subject (see the critical remarks); Matthiae, § 563; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 271 [E. T. 316].

ἄγαβος] There is no reason against the assumed identity of this person with the one mentioned in Acts 11:28. Luke’s mode of designating him, which does not take account of the former mention of him, admits of sufficient explanation from the special document giving account of this journey, which, composed by himself before his book, did not involve a reference to earlier matters, and was left by him just as it was; nor did it necessarily require any addition on this point for the purpose of setting the reader right.

ἄρας] he took it up, from the ground, or wherever Paul had laid it.

δήσαςπόδας] as also the old prophets often accompanied their prophecies with symbolic actions; Isaiah 20; Jeremiah 13; Ezekiel 4, al. See Grotius; Ewald, Proph. I. p. 38. On the symbol here, comp. John 21:18.

ἑαυτοῦ] his own; for it was not his girdle, but Paul’s. This self-binding is to be conceived as consisting of two separate acts.

τὸ πν. τ. ἅγ.] whose utterance I, namely, as His organ express.


Verses 12-14

Acts 21:12-14. οἱ ἐντόπιοι] the natives (the Christians of Caesarea), only here in the N.T., but classical.

τί ποιεῖτε κλαίοντες;] What do ye, that ye weep? Certainly essentially the same in sense with τί κλαίετε, but the form of the conception is different. Comp. Mark 11:5, also the classical οἷον ποιεῖς with the participle (Heind. ad Plat. Charm. p. 166 C).

κ. συνθρ. μ. τ. καρδ.] and break my heart, make me quite sorrowful and disconsolate. The συνθρύπτειν had actually commenced on the part of those assembled, but the firm ἑτοίμως ἔχω κ. τ. λ. of the apostle had immediately retained the upper hand over the enervating impressions which they felt. “Vere incipit actus, sed ob impedimenta caret eventu.” Schaefer, ad Eur. Phoen., Pors. 79. Comp. on Romans 2:4. The verb itself is not preserved elsewhere, yet comp. θρύπτειν τὴν ψυχήν, and the like, in Plutarch and others.

γάρ] refers to the direct sense lying at the foundation of the preceding question: “do not weep and break my heart,” for I, I for my part, etc. Observe the holy boldness of consciousness in this ἐγώ.

εἰς ἱερουσ.] Having come to Jerusalem. Comp. Acts 8:40. Isaeus, de Dicaeog. hered. p. 55: πολέμου, εἰς ὃνἀποθνήσκουσι. Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 287 [E. T. 334]. ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀν.] See on Acts 5:41, Acts 9:16.

ἡσυχάσαμεν] we left off further address. Comp. Acts 11:18.

τ. κυρίου] not “quod Deus de te decrevit” (Kuinoel and de Wette, following Chrysostom, Calvin, and others), hut the will of Christ. The submission of his friends expresses itself with reference to the last words of the apostle, Acts 21:13, in which they recognised his consciousness of the Lord’s will.


Verse 15-16

Acts 21:15-16. ʼεπισκευασ.] after we had equipped ourselves (praeparati, Vulg.), made ourselves ready; i.e. after we had put our goods, clothes, etc., in a proper state for our arrival and residence in Jerusalem.(120) The word, occurring here only in the N.T., is frequent in Greek writers and in the LXX. Such an equipment was required by the feast, and by the intercourse which lay before them at the holy seat of the mother church and of the apostles. Others arbitrarily, as if ὑποζύγια stood in the text (Xen. Hell. vii. 2. 18); “sarcinas jumentis imponere,” Grotius.

τῶν μαθητ.] sc. τινές. Winer, p. 548 [E. T. 737]; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 138 [E. T. 158].

ἄγοντες παρʼ ξενισθῶμεν ΄νάσ.] who brought us to Mnason, with whom we were to lodge in Jerusalem. So correctly Luther. The dative ΄νάσ. is not dependent on ἄγοντες (in opposition to Knatchbull, Winer, p. 201 [E. T. 268 f.], and Fritzsche, Conject. I. p. 42; and see on Acts 2:33), but to be explained, with Grotius, from attraction, so that, when resolved, it is: ἄγοντες παρὰ ΄νάσονα, παρʼ ξενισθ. See on Romans 4:17. Bornemann, Schol. in Luc. p. 177 (comp. on Rosenmüller, Repert. II. p. 253); Buttmann, p. 244 [E. T. 284]; Dissen, ad Dem. de cor. p. 233 f. The participle ἄγοντες indicates what they by συνῆλθ. σ. ἡμῖν not merely wished (infinitive), but at the same time did: they came with us and brought us, etc. See Hermann, ad Viger. p. 773; Bernhardy, p. 477.

Others (Vulgate, Erasmus, Castalio, Beza, Calvin, Wolf) take the sense of the whole passage to be: adducentes secum apud quem hospitaremur Mnasonem. Likewise admitting of justification linguistically from the attraction (Kühner, II. 508; Valckenaer, Schol. I. p. 586; Hermann, ad Soph. El. 643. 681); but then we should have to suppose, without any indication in the context, that Mnason had been temporarily resident at Caesarea precisely at that time when the lodging of the travellers in his house at Jerusalem was settled with him.

Nothing further is known of Mnason himself. The name is Greek (Ael. V. H. iii. 19; Athen. vi. p. 264 C, 272 B Lucian, Philops. 22), and probably he was, if not a Gentile Christian, at any rate a Hellenist. Looking to the feeling which prevailed among the Jewish Christians against Paul (Acts 21:20-21), it was natural and prudent that he should lodge with such a one, in order that he should enter into further relations to the church.

ἀρχαίῳ μαθ.] So much the more confidently might Paul and his companions be entrusted to him. He was a Christian from of old (not a νεόφυτος, 1 Timothy 3:6); whether he had already been a Christian from the first Pentecost, or had become so, possibly through connection with his countryman Barnabas, or in some other manner, cannot be determined.


Verses 17-19

Acts 21:17-19. γενομ.] having arrived at; Acts 3:5.

οἱ ἀδελφοί] the Christians, to whom we came,

Mnason and others who were with him. It was not until the following day, Acts 21:18, that they, with Paul at their head, presented themselves to the rulers of the church. Accordingly, there is not to be found in this notice, Acts 21:17, any inconsistency with the dissatisfaction towards Paul afterwards reported (Baur); and οἱ ἀδελφ. is not to be interpreted of the apostles and presbyters (Kuinoel).

σὺν ἡμῖν] witnesses to the historical truth of the whole narrative down to Acts 21:26 : those who combat it are obliged to represent this σὺν ἡμῖν as an addition of the compiler, who wished “externally to attach” what follows to the report of an eye-witness (Zeller, p. 522). See, in opposition to this wretched shift, Ewald, Jahrb. IX. p. 66.

πρὸς ἰάκωβον] the Lord’s brother, Acts 12:17, Acts 15:13. Neither Peter nor any other of the Twelve can at this time have been present in Jerusalem; otherwise they would have been mentioned here and in the sequel of the narrative.(121)

ὧν] τούτων . Usual attraction.


Verse 20-21

Acts 21:20-21. The body of presbyters—certainly headed by its apostolic (Galatians 1:19) chief James as spokesman—recognises with thanksgiving to God the merits of Paul in the conversion of the Gentiles, but then represents to him at once also his critical position toward the Palestinian Jewish-Christians, among whom the opinion had spread that he taught all the Jews living in the διασπορά among the Gentiles, when preaching his gospel to them, apostasy from the law of Moses. This opinion was, according to the principles expressed by Paul in his Epistles (see especially Rom., Gal., and 1 Cor.), and according to his wisdom in teaching generally, certainly erroneous; but amidst the tenacious overvaluing of Mosaism on the part of the Judaists, ever fomented by the anti-Pauline party, it arose very naturally from the doctrine firmly and boldly defended by Paul, that the attainment of the Messianic salvation was not conditioned by circumcision and the works of the law, but purely by faith in Christ. What he had taught by way of denying and guarding against the value put on Mosaism (so as to secure the necessity of faith), was by the zealous Judaists taken up and interpreted as a hostile attack, as a direct summons to apostasy from the Mosaic precepts and institutions. See Ewald, p. 563 ff., on these relations, and on the greatness of the apostle, who notwithstanding, and in clear consciousness of the extreme dangers which threatened him, does not sever the bond with the apostolic mother-church, but presents himself to it, and now again presents himself precisely amidst this confluence of the multitude to the feast, like Christ on His last entrance to Jerusalem.

θεωρεῖς] is not, with Olshausen, to be referred to the number of the presbyters present, who might represent, as it were, the number of believers: for only the presbyters of Jerusalem were assembled with James (Acts 21:18), but to the Judaean Christians themselves (Christians of the Jewish land), the view of whose many myriads might present itself to Paul at Jerusalem in the great multitude of those who were there, especially at the time of the feast.

ποσαι μυριάδες] a hyperbolical expression(122) of a very great indefinable number (comp. Luke 12:1), the mention of which was to make the apostle the more inclined to the proposal about to be made; hence we are not, with Baur (I. p. 230, ed. 2), to understand orthodox Jews as such (believing or unbelieving). The words, according to the correct reading (see the critical remarks), import: how many myriads among the Jews there are of those who are believing, i.e. to how many myriads those who have become believers among the Jews amount.

ζηλωταὶ τ. νόμου] zealous observers and champions of the Mosaic law. Comp. Galatians 1:14.

κατηχήθησαν] they have been instructed (Luke 1:4; Acts 18:25; Romans 2:18; 1 Corinthians 14:19; Galatians 6:6; Lucian, Asin. 48) by Judaistic anti-Pauline teachers. Actual instruction (comp. Chrysostom), not generally audierunt (Vulg.), nor bare suspicion (Zeller), is expressed.

μὴ περιτέμνειν αὐτοὺς κ. τ. λ.]

[123] according to the notion of commanding, which is implied in λέγων; see on Acts 15:24.

τοῖς ἔθεσι] observing the Mosaic customs. Comp. τὸν νόμου φυλάσσων, Acts 21:23. The dative is as in Acts 9:31.

The antagonism of Judaism to Paul is in this passage so strongly and clearly displayed, that the author, if his book were actually the treatise with a set purpose, which it has been represented as being, would, in quite an incomprehensible manner, have fallen out of his part. In the case of such a cunning inventor of history as the author, according to Baur and Zeller, appears to be, the power of historical truth was not so great as to extort “against his will” (Baur) such a testimony at variance with his design.


Verse 22-23

Acts 21:22-23. τί οὖν ἔστι;] What is accordingly the case? How lies then the matter? See on 1 Corinthians 14:15; Romans 3:9. The answer τοῦτο ποίησον has the reason for it in the first instance more precisely assigned by the preliminary remark, πάντωςἐλήλυθας: a multitude (of such Jew-Christians) must (inevitably will) come together (assemble around thee, to hear thee and to observe thy demeanour), for, etc. That James meant a tumultuary concourse, is not stated by the text, and is, on the contrary, at variance with the sanguine δεῖ; but Calvin, Grotius, Calovius, and many others erroneously hold that πλῆθ. συνελθ. refers to the convoking of the church, or (so Lange) to the united body of the different household-congregations (in that case τὸ πλῆθ. must at least have been used).

εὐχὴν ἔχ. ἐφʼ ἑαυτ.] having a vow (Acts 18:18) for themselves. This ἐφʼ ἑαυτῶν represents the having of the vow as founded on the men’s own wish and self-interest, and accordingly exhibits it as a voluntary personal vow, in which they were not dependent on third persons. The use of ἐφʼ ἑαυτῶν in the sense of for oneself, at one’s own hand, and the like,(124) is a classical one (Xen. Anab. ii. 4. 10; Thuc. v. 67. 1, viii. 8. 11), and very common; Hermann, ad Viger. p. 859; Kühner, II. p. 296. A yet more express mode of denoting it would be: αὐτοὶ ἐφʼ ἑαυτῶν. With this position of the vow there could be the less difficulty in Paul’s taking it along with them; no interest of any other than the four men themselves was concerned in it. Moreover, on account of Acts 21:26, and because the point here concerned a usage appointed in the law of Moses (otherwise than at Acts 18:18), we are to understand a formal temporary Nazarite vow, undertaken on some unknown occasion (Numbers 6, and see on Acts 18:18). See on such vows, Keil, Archäol. I. § 67; Oehler in Herzog’s Encykl. X. p. 205 ff.


Verse 24

Acts 21:24. These take to thee (bring them into thy fellowship) and become with them a Nazarite ( ἀγνίσθητι, be consecrated, LXX. Numbers 6:3; Numbers 6:8, corresponding to the Hebrew הַוִּיר ), and make the expenditure for them ( ἐπʼ αὐτοῖς, on their account, see Bernhardy, p. 250), namely, in the costs of the sacrifices to be procured (Numbers 6:14 ff.). “More apud Judaeos receptum erat, et pro insigni pietatis officio habebatur, ut in pauperum Nasiraeorum gratiam ditiores sumtus erogarent ad sacrificia, quae, dum illi tonderentur, offerre necesse erat,” Kypke. See Joseph. Antt. xix. 6. 1, Bell. ii. 15. 1; Mischn. Nasir ii. 5. 6; Wetstein in loc.; also Oehler, l.c. p. 210. The attempt of Wieseler, p. 105 ff., and on Gal. p. 589, to explain away the taking up of the Nazarite vow on the part of the apostle, is entirely contrary to the words, since ἁγνίζεσθαι, in its emphatic connection with σὺν αὐτοῖς, can only be understood according to the context of entering into participation of the Nazarite vow, and not generally of Israelitish purification by virtue of presenting sacrifices and visiting the temple, as in John 11:55.

ἵνα ξυρήσ.] contains the design of δαπάν. ἐπʼ αὐτ., in order that they (after the fulfilment of the legal requirement had taken place) might have themselves shorn (and thus be released from their vow). The shearing and the burning of the hair of the head in the fire of the peace-offering, was the termination of the Nazaritic vow. See Numbers 6:18.

καὶ γνώσονται κ. τ. λ.] and all shall know: not included in the dependence on ἵνα, as in Luke 22:30.

ὧν] as in Acts 21:19.

οὐδὲν ἔστι] that nothing has a place, is existent, so that all is without objective reality. Comp. on Acts 25:11.

καὶ αὐτός] also for thy own person, whereby those antinomistic accusations are practically refuted. On στοιχεῖν, in the sense of conduct of life, see on Galatians 4:25.


Verse 25

Acts 21:25. “Yet the liberty of the Gentile Christians from the Mosaic law remains thereby undiminished; that is secured by our decree” (chap. 15). The object of this remark is to obviate a possible scruple of the apostle as to the adoption of the proposal.

ἡμεῖς ἀπεστείλαμεν (see the critical remarks), we, on our part, have despatched envoys, after we had resolved that they have to observe no such thing (nothing which belongs to the category of such legal enactments). The notion of δεῖν (see Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 753 ff.; Schoem. ad Is. p. 397 f.) is implied in the reference of κρίναντες (necessarium esse censuimus). Comp. Acts 21:21.

εἰ μὴ φυλάσσεσθαι κ. τ. λ.] except that they should guard themselves from, etc. See Acts 15:28. On ( φυλάσσεσθαί τι or τινα, to guard oneself from, comp. 2 Timothy 4:15; Wisdom of Solomon 1:11; Sirach 19:9; Herod. i. 108, vii. 130.

This citation of the decree of the apostolic synod told Paul what was long since accurately known to him, but was here essentially pertinent to the matter. And for Paul himself that portion of the contents of the decree which was in itself indifferent was important enough, in view of those whose consciences were weak (1 Corinthians 8:1 ff.; Romans 14:1 ff.), to make him receive this reminiscence of it now without an express reservation of his higher and freer standpoint, and of his apostolic independence,—a course by which he complied with the δουλεύειν τῷ καιρῷ, Romans 12:11.


Verse 26-27

Acts 21:26-27. James had made his proposal to Paul—by a public observance of a custom, highly esteemed among the Jews, and consecrated by Moses, practically to refute the accusation in question—in the conviction that the accusation was unfounded, and that thus Paul with a good conscience (without contradiction of his principles) could accept the proposal.(125) And Paul with a good conscience accepted it; in which case it must be presumed that the four men also did not regard the Nazarite vow as a work of justification;(126) otherwise Paul must at once on principle have rejected the proposal, in order not to give countenance to the fundamental error (opposed to his teaching) of justification by the law, and not to offer resistance to Christ Himself as the end of the law (Romans 10:4). In fact, he must have been altogether convinced that the observance of the law was not under dispute, by those who regarded him as an opponent of it, in the sense of justification by the law; otherwise he would as little have consented to the proposal made to him as he formerly did to the circumcision of Titus; and even the furnishing of explanations to guard his action (which Schneckenburger, p. 65, supposes that we must assume) would not have sufficed, but would rather have stamped his accommodation as a mere empty show. Moreover, he was precisely by bis internal complete freedom from the law in a position, without moral self-offence, not only to demean himself as, but really to be, a φυλάσσων τὸν νόμον, where this φυλάσσειν was enjoined by love, which is the fulfilment of the law in the Christian sense (Romans 13:8; Romans 13:10), as here, seeing that his object was—as μὴ ὢν αὐτὸς ὑπὸ νόμον, but as ἔννομος χριστοῦ—to become to the Jews ὡς ἰουδαῖος, in order to win them (1 Corinthians 9:19 ff.). Thus this work of the law—although to him it belonged in itself to the στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου (Galatians 4:3; Colossians 2:8)—became a form, determined by the circumstances, of exercising the love that fulfils the law, which, however different in its forms, is imperishable and the completion of the law (Matthew 5:17). The step, to which he yielded, stands on the same footing with the circumcision of Timothy, which he himself performed (Acts 16:3), and is subject essentially to the same judgment. The action of the apostle, therefore, is neither, with Trip (following van Hengel in the Godgeleerd. Bijdrägen, 1859, p. 981 ff.), to be classed as a weak and rash obsequiousness (this were indeed to Paul, near the very end of his labours, the moral impossibility of a great hypocrisy); nor, with Thiersch, are we to suppose that he in a domain not his own had to follow the direction of the bishop (but see Galatians 2:6); nor, with Baumgarten, II. p. 149, are we to judge that he, by here externally manifesting his continued recognition of the divine law, “presents in prospect the ultimate disappearance of his exceptional standpoint, his thirteenth apostleship” (Romans 11:25 ff.), which there is nothing in the text to point to, and against which militates the fact that to the apostle his gospel was the absolute truth, and therefore he could never have in view a re-establishment of legal customs which were to him merely σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων (Colossians 2:17). Not by such imported ideas of interpreters, but by a right estimate of the free standpoint of the apostle (1 Corinthians 3:21 ff.), and of his love bearing all things, are we prevented from regarding his conduct in this passage, with Baur, Zeller, and Hausrath, as un-Pauline and the narrative as unhistorical. See, on the other hand, Neander, p. 485 ff.; Lekebusch, p. 275 ff.; Schneckenburger in the Stud. u. Krit. 1855, p. 566 ff.

σὺν αὐτοῖς ἁγνισθείς] consecrated with them, i.e. having entered into participation of their Nazarite state, which, namely, had already lasted in the case of these men for some considerable time, as Acts 21:23 shows. They did not therefore only now commence their Nazarite vow (Neander), but Paul agreed to a personal participation in their vow already existing, in order, as a joint-bearer, to bring it to a close by taking upon himself the whole expense of the offerings. According to Nasir i. 3 (comp. Joseph. Bell. ii. 15. 1), a Nazarite vow not taken for life lasted at least thirty days; but the subsequent accession of another during the currency of that time must at least have been allowed in such a case as this, where the person joining bore the expenses.

εἰσῄει εἰς τ. ἱερ.] namely, toward the close of the Nazarite period of these men, with which expired the Nazarite term current in pursuance of the σὺν αὐτοῖς ἁγμισθείς for himself.

διαγγέλλων] notifying, namely, to the priests (comp. Thuc. vii. 73. 4; Herodian, ii. 2. 5; Xen. Anab. i. 6. 2), who had to conduct the legally-appointed sacrifices (Numbers 6:13 ff.), and then to pronounce release from the vow.(127) The connection yields this interpretation, not: omnibus edicens (Grotius), or (Bornemann) with the help of friends spreading the news, which in itself would likewise accord with linguistic usage (Luke 9:60; Romans 9:17).

τὴν ἐκπλήρωσιν τῶν ἡμερ. τ. ἁγν.] i.e. he gave notice that the vowed number of the Nazarite days had quite expired, after which only the concluding offering was required. This idea is expressed by ἕως οὗ προσηνέχθη κ. τ. λ., which immediately attaches itself to τὴν ἐκπλήρωσιν κ. τ. λ.: the fulfilment of the Nazarite days, until the offering for each individual was presented by them, so that ἕως οὗ προσηνέχθη κ. τ. λ. contains an objective more precise definition of the ἐκπλήρωσις added from the standpoint of the author; which fulfilment was not earlier than until there was brought, etc. Hence, Luke has expressed himself not by the optative or subjunctive (comp. Acts 23:12), which Lachmann, Praef. p. ix., has conjectured, but by the indicative aorist (“the fulfilment up to the point that the presentation of the offering took place”). Wieseler arbitrarily (comp. already Erasmus, Paraph.) makes ἕως οὗ dependent on εἰσῄει τὸ ἱερόν, supplying “and remained there.”

Observe, further, that in αὐτῶν Paul himself is now included, which follows from σὺν αὐτοῖς ἁγυισθείς, as well as that ἑνὸς ἑκάστου is added, because it is not one offering for all, but a separate offering for each, which is to be thought of.

Acts 21:27. αἱ ἑπτὰ ἡμέραι] is commonly taken as: the seven days, which he up to the concluding sacrifice had to spend under the Nazarite vow which he had jointly undertaken, so that these days would be the time which had still to run for the four men of the duration of their vow. But against this may be urged, first, that the ἐκπλήρωσις τῶν ἡμ. τ. ἁγν., Acts 21:26, must in that case be the future fulfilment, which is not said in the text; and, secondly and decisively, that the αἱ ἑπτὰ ἡμ., with the article, would presuppose a mention already made of seven days (comp. Judith 8:15; comp. Acts 7:30). Textually we can only explain it as: the well-known seven days required for this purpose,(128) so that it is to be assumed that, as regards the presentation of the offerings (according to Numbers 6:13 ff., very varied in their kind), the interval of a week was usual. Incorrect, because entirely dissociated from the context, is the view of Wieseler, p. 110, and on Gal. p. 587 (comp. Beza), that the seven days of the Pentecostal week, of which the last was Pentecost itself, are meant. So also Baumgarten, and Schaff, p. 243 ff. See, on the other hand, Baur in the theol. Jahrb. 1849, p. 482 ff., who, however, brings out the seven days by the entirely arbitrary and groundless apportionment, that for each of the five persons a day was appointed for the presentation of his offering, prior to which five days we have to reckon one day on which James gave the counsel to Paul, and a second on which Paul went into the temple. On such a supposition, besides, we cannot see why Luke, in reference to what was just said, ὑπὲρ ἑνὸς ἑκάστου αὐτῶν, should not have written: αἱ πέντε ἡ΄έραι.

οἱ ἀπὸ τ. ἀσίας ἰουδ.] “Paulus, dum fidelibus (the Jewish-Christians) placandis intentus est, in hostium (the unconverted Asiatic Jews) furorem incurrit,” Calvin. How often had those, who were now at Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost, persecuted Paul already in Asia!

ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ] To see the destroyer of their ancestral religion in the temple, goaded their wrath to an outbreak.

συνέχεον] Acts 19:32.


Verse 28-29

Acts 21:28-29. τ. τόπον τοῦτ.] Acts 6:14.

ἔτι τε καὶ ἕλληνας κ. τ. λ.] and, besides, he has also (further, in addition thereto) brought Greeks (Gentiles) into the temple. As to τε καί, see on Acts 19:27. That by τὸ ἱερόν we have to understand the court of the Israelites,(129) is self-evident, as the court of the Gentiles was accessible to the Greeks (Lightfoot, ad Matth. p. 58 f.).

ἕλληνας] the plural of category, which Acts 21:29 requires; so spoken with hostile intent.

Acts 21:29 is not to be made a parenthesis.

ἦσαν γὰρ προεωρακότες κ. τ. λ.] there were, namely, people, who had before (before they saw the apostle in the temple, Acts 21:27) seen Trophimus in the city with him. Observe the correlation in which the προεωρ.(130) stands with θεασάμενοι, and the ἐν τῇ πόλει with ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ on the one hand, and with εἰς τὸ ἱερόν on the other. So much the more erroneous is it to change the definite προ, before, into an indefinite formerly, which Otto, Pastoralbr. p. 284 ff., dates back even four years, namely, to the residence in Jerusalem mentioned in Acts 18:22. Beyond doubt the προ does not point back farther than to the time of the present stay in Jerusalem, during which people had seen Trophimus with Paul in the city, before they saw the latter in the temple.

τρόφιμον τὸν ἐφέσιον] see Acts 20:4. Among those, therefore, who accompanied the apostle ἄχρι τῆς ἀσίας, Trophimus must not have remained behind in Asia, but must have gone on with the apostle to Jerusalem. Comp. on Acts 27:2.

ἐνό΄ιζον] The particular accusation thus rested on a hasty and mistaken inference; it was an erroneous suspicion expressed as a certainty, to which zealotry so easily leads!

ὃν ἐνό΄ιζον ὅτι] comp. John 8:54.


Verse 30

Acts 21:30. ἔξω τοῦ ἱεροῦ] in order that the temple enclosure might not be defiled with murder; for they wished to put Paul to death (Acts 21:32). Bengel and Baumgarten hold that they had wished to prevent him from taking refuge at the altar. But the right of asylum legally subsisted only for persons guilty of unintentional manslaughter.(131) See Exodus 21:13-14; 1 Kings 2:28 ff. Comp. Ewald, Alterth. p. 228 f.

ἐκλείσθ.] by the Levites. For the reason why, see above. Entirely at variance with the context, Lange, apostol. Zeitalt. II. p. 306, holds that the closing of the temple intimated the temporary suspension of worship. It referred only to Paul, who was not to be allowed again to enter.


Verses 31-33

Acts 21:31-33. But while they sought to kill him (to beat him to death, Acts 21:32), information came up (to the castle of Antonia, bordering on the north-west side of the temple) to the tribune of the (Roman) cohort (Claudius Lysias, xxiii. 26). On φάσις, comp. Dem. 793. 16, 1323. 6; Pollux, viii. 6. 47 f.; Susannah 55; and see Wetstein.

τῷ χιλιάρχῳ] a simple dative, not for πρὸς τὸν χ. See Bornemann and Rosenmüller, Repert. II. p. 253.

ἐπʼ αὐτούς] upon them. On κατατρέχειν, to run down, comp. Xen. Anab. v. 4. 23, vii. 1. 20.

ἐκέλ. δεθῆναι] because he took Paul to be an at that time notorious insurgent (Acts 21:38), abandoned to the self-revenge of the people. In order, however, to have certainty on the spot, he asked (the crowd): τίς ἂν εἴη καὶ τί ἐστι πεποιηκ.] who he might be (subjective possibility), and of what he was doer (that he had done something, was certain to the inquirer). Comp. Winer, p. 281 [E. T. 375]; Kühner, ad Xen. Anab. i. 3. 14.

εἰς τὴν παρεμβολήν] in castra (see Sturz, Dial. Al. p. 30; Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 377), i.e. to the fixed quarters of the Roman soldiery, the military barracks of the fortress. So Acts 22:24; Acts 23:10; Acts 23:16; Acts 23:32.


Verse 35-36

Acts 21:35-36. ἐπὶ τ. ἀναβαθμ.] when he came to the stairs (leading up to the fortress, Joseph. Bell. Jud. v. 5. 8). See examples of the form βαθμός, and of the more Attic form βασμός, in Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 324.

συνέβη βαστάζ. αὐτόν] brings forward what took place more markedly than the simple ἐβαστάζετο. Either the accusative (as here) or the nominative may stand with the infinitive. See Stallb. ad Plat. Phaed. p. 67 C.

αἷρε αὐτόν] The same cry of extermination as in Luke 23:18. Comp. Acts 22:22. On the plural κράζοντες, see Winer, p. 490 [E. T. 660]. Comp. Acts 5:16.


Verse 37-38

Acts 21:37-38. εἰ ἔξεστι κ. τ. λ.] as in Acts 19:2; Luke 14:3; Mark 10:2. “Modeste alloquitur,” Bengel.

ἑλληνιστὶ γινώσκεις] understandest thou Greek? A question of surprise at Paul’s having spoken in Greek. The expression does not require the usually assumed supplement of λαλεῖν (Nehemiah 13:24), but the adverb belongs directly to the verb γινώσκεις; comp. Xen. Anab. vii. 6. 8, Cyrop. vii. 5. 31: τοὺς συριστὶ ἐπισταμένους, comp. Graece nescire in Cic. p. Flacco, 4.

οὐκ ἄρα σὺ εἶ κ. τ. λ.] Thou art not then (as I imagined) the Egyptian, etc. The emphasis lies on οὐκ, so that the answer would again begin with οὐ. See Klotz, ad Devar. p. 186. Comp. Bäumlein, Partik. p. 281. Incorrectly, Vulgate, Erasmus, Beza, and others: nonne tu es, etc.

The Egyptian, for whom the tribune had—probably from a mere natural conjecture of his own—taken Paul, was a phantastic pseudo-prophet, who in the reign of Nero wished to destroy the Roman government and led his followers, collected in the wilderness, to the Mount of Olives, from which they were to see the walls of the capital fall down. Defeated with his followers by the procurator Felix, he had taken to flight (Joseph. Bell. ii. 13. 5, Antt. xx. 8. 6); and therefore Lysias, in consequence of his remembrance of this event still fresh after the lapse of a considerable time,(132) lighted on the idea that the dreaded enthusiast, now returned or drawn forth from his long concealment, had fallen into the hands of popular fury.

τετρακισχιλ.] Joseph. Bell. l.c. gives the followers of the Egyptian at τρισμυρίους; but this is only an apparent inconsistency with our passage, for here there is only brought forward a single, specially remarkable appearance of the rebel, perhaps the first step which he took with his most immediate and most dangerous followers, and therefore the reading in Josephus is not to be changed in accordance with our passage (in opposition to Kuinoel and Olshausen).(133)

How greatly under the worthless Felix the evil of banditti ( τῶν σικαρίων, the daggermen, see Suicer, Thes. II. p. 957: the article denotes the class of men) prevailed in Jerusalem and Judaea generally, see in Joseph. Antt. xx. 6 f.


Verse 39-40

Acts 21:39-40. I am indeed ( μέν)—not the Egyptian, but—a Jew from Tarsus (and so apprehended by thee through being confounded with another), yet I pray thee, etc.

ἄνθρωπος] In his speech to the people Paul used the more honourable word ἀνήρ (Schaefer, ad Long. p. 408). See Acts 22:3.

οὐκ ἀσήμου] See examples of this litotes in the designation of important cities, in Wetstein ad loc. Comp. Jacobs, ad Achill. Tat. p. 718. A conscious feeling of patriotism is implied in the expression.

κατέσ. τ. χ.] See on Acts 12:17.

πολλῆς δὲ σιγῆς γενομ.] “Conticuere omnes intentique ora tenebant,” Virgil. Aen. ii. 1.

τῇ ἑβρ. διαλ.] thus not likewise in Greek, as in Acts 21:37, but in the Syro-Chaldaic dialect of the country (Acts 1:9), in order, namely, to find a more favourable hearing with the people.

We may add, that the permission to speak granted by the tribune is too readily explainable from the unexpected disillusion which he had just experienced, Acts 21:39, to admit of its being urged as a reason against the historical character of the speech (Baur, Zeller), just as the silence which set in is explainable enough as the effect of surprise in the case of the mobile vulgus. And if the following speech, as regards its contents, does not enter upon the position of the speaker towards the law, it was, in presence of the prejudice and passion of the multitude, a very wise procedure simply to set forth facts, by which the whole working of the apostle is apologetically exhibited.

 


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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Acts 21:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/acts-21.html. 1832.

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