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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Acts 14

 

 

Verse 1

1 And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.

Ver. 1. And it came to pass in Iconium] {See Trapp on "Acts 8:1"}


Verse 2

2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren.

Ver. 2. Made their minds evil affected] Envenomed ( εκακωσαν) their minds with rage against the brethren, but God made peace, as the ancient copies add here, Beza from Beda. His peace that passeth all understanding guarded their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.


Verse 3

3 Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.

Ver. 3. Which gave testimony to the word] It is usual with St Luke to oppose the good success of the gospel to the malicious actings of the mad world against it; that God’s people might not be discouraged.


Verse 4

4 But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles.

Ver. 4. But the multitude was divided] εσχισθη, Scinditur incertum studia in contraria vulgus. Christ came not to send peace, but a sword. Yet is not he the cause of division, but the occasion only, and that by accident. (So sin is the occasion, not the cause, that grace aboundeth.) They that quarrel at God’s ordinances for this may as well quarrel at the Lord’s supper; which though a sacrament of love, a communion, yet hath occasioned much dissension: witness that bellum Sacramentarium, than the which never any kindled sooner is quenched slower.


Verse 5

5 And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them,

Ver. 5. And to stone them] Stephen had the maidenhead of this kind of death: as that martyr, who was threatened with whipping, wished that he might have the maidenhead of that kind of suffering (for he had not heard of any that had been so served): and as Basil, threatened by Valens with death, cried out, ειθε γενοιτο μοι, I would it might be so.


Verse 6

6 They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about:

Ver. 6. Fled unto Lystra] They had their Lord’s good leave to do so, Matthew 10:23. He had made them, not as butts, to be perpetually shot at; but as the marks of rovers, movable, as the wind and sun may best serve.


Verse 7

7 And there they preached the gospel.

Ver. 7. And there they preached the gospel] Which shows that their flying proceeded from prudence, and not from inconstance, lightness, or cowardice.


Verse 8

8 And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked:

Ver. 8. And there sat a certain man] This was (likely) one of those many miracles done at Lystra; a signal one, and therefore instanced.


Verse 9

9 The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed,

Ver. 9. Perceiving that he had faith] Not by any skill he had in physiognomy, {a} but by special revelation; without the which, strong confidence one may have of another man’s true grace, but no certainty either of sense or of science.

{a} The foretelling of destiny or future fortune from the features and lines of the face, ŒD


Verse 10

10 Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.

Ver. 10. And he leaped and walked] Together with Paul’s word there went forth a power: so there doth in all holy ordinances; Psalms 146:8; "The Lord giveth sight to the blind, he raiseth up the crooked, he loveth the righteous." This cripple might be very well one of those righteous, whom God out of his special love restored to the use of his limbs. A favour that he granteth sometimes to the wicked, whom yet he loveth not.


Verse 11

11 And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.

Ver. 11. The gods are come down] See the force of an evil custom, and of a vain conversation, received by tradition from the fathers, 1 Peter 1:18 : these Lycaonians had heard out of the fables of their poets that Jupiter and Mercury came down of old to visit Lycaon their progenitor, and that for the discourtesy he offered them, they transformed him into a wolf. Hereupon they used to offer sacrifice to those dunghill deities, and now they suppose they have them in human shape among them.


Verse 12

12 And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker.

Ver. 12. He was the chief speaker] Gr. ηγουμενος του λογου, a master of speech. Paul was another Pericles, who thundered and lightened in his orations; {a} another Phocion, who was ειπειν δεινοτατος, saith Plutarch, a most powerful speaker; another Cyneas, who conquered more cities by his eloquence than his master Pyrrhus did by his puissance. In Rogers and Bradford, martyrs, it was hard to say whether there were more force of eloquence and utterance in preaching (saith Mr Fox) or more holiness of life and conversation. Paul was eminent in both.

{a} Intonabat, fulgurabat, totam Graeciam permiscebat. Cic.


Verse 13

13 Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.

Ver. 13. And would have done sacrifice] So the savages of Nova Albion, as they were very much taken with our singing of Psalms and other holy exercises (saith Sir Francis Drake) while we were among them; so when they could not prevail with us to stay longer there, they stole upon us a sacrifice, and set it on fire ere we were aware. We laboured by all means to withhold or withdraw them, but could not prevail; till at last we fell to prayers and singing of Psalms, whereby they were allured immediately to forget their folly, and leave their sacrifice unconsumed (for they supposed us to be gods indeed): suffering the fire to go out, and imitating us in all our actions, they fell a lifting up their hands and eyes to heaven, as they saw us to do.


Verse 14

14 Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,

Ver. 14. They rent off their clothes] In token of their holy indignation and utter detestation; they knew the Lord’s jealousy would soon smoke against any that shall but cast a lustful look at his glory (which is as his wife, and which he will "by no means give unto another," Isaiah 42:8). By this act of theirs therefore they show how they abhorred the motion or mention of any such matter.


Verse 15

15 And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:

Ver. 15. Of like passions, &c.] Passions are here put for whatsoever differenceth man from the Divine nature.


Verse 16

16 Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.

Ver. 16. Suffered all nations, &c.] That we walk not as other Gentiles, in our own ways, but know and serve the true God, is of his singular grace and favour. The ancient inhabitants of this land were as barbarous and brutish as any under heaven. Cicero ( De Nat. Deorum) parallels the Britons and Scythians. Jerome ever sets them in opposition to some other nation that is most tamed and civilized. Sed Britannorum inaccsssa Romanis loca Christo tamen subdita, saith Tertullian. Christ subdued those whom the Romans could never come at to conquer.


Verse 17

17 Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.

Ver. 17. He left not himself] Here they might object, that God in suffering men so to wander, showed not himself so kind and bountiful. The apostle answers, that God had sufficiently sealed up his general love and goodness, in doing good, giving rain from heaven, &c. Stars are the storehouses of God’s good treasure, which he openeth to our profit, Deuteronomy 28:12. By their influence they make a scatter of riches upon the earth, which good men gather, bad men scramble for. Every of the heavenly bodies is a purse of gold, out of which God throws down riches and plenty upon the earth.

And fruitful seasons] If St Paul had thought well of the Sibyl’s oracles (saith learned Beza) it was wonder he had not here mentioned them. Casaubon and Obsopaeus reckon them for no better than officious lies.


Verse 18

18 And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.

Ver. 18. Scarce restrained they the people] See Acts 14:13. Man’s nature is marvellously prone to idolatry, and the devil helps after; for he is ειδωλοχαρης, saith Synesius; for he knows that creature worship is devil worship, Psalms 106:37; Revelation 9:20.


Verse 19

19 And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.

Ver. 19. And there came thither] The devil, when he is driven to his last shift, stirs up his instruments to use violence, which yet prevaileth not.

And having stoned Paul] At Athens, if the comedians pleased not the people, they were overwhelmed with stones. This was hard measure; yet such as ministers many times meet with. But what a strange change was here on a sudden! was there no mean between deifying and stoning? How soon turns the wind into a contrary corner! Varium et mutabile vulgus. Neutrum mode; mas mode vulgus.


Verse 20

20 Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.

Ver. 20. He rose up] He starts up when stoned with a sic, sic oportet intrare; so heaven is gotten by pains, by patience, by violence, persecution being our inseparable companion. Sic petitur caelum.


Verse 21

21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,

Ver. 21. They returned again to Lystra] The love of Christ constrained them to imperil themselves for his glory; for the promoting whereof they loved not their lives unto the death, Revelation 12:11. The lodestone, we know, draweth iron; yea, sendeth forth his attractive virtue to the absent needle, through the box of wood, wherein it is inclosed; and pierceth through the table to the iron under it. Let our love to Jesus Christ break through all.


Verse 22

22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

Ver. 22. We must through much tribulation] Plana via ad patriam coelestem est crux, saith Malcolm. If there be any way on horseback to heaven, surely this is the way, said another martyr (Bradford.) If any think to go to heaven without tribulation, he must (as the emperor Constantine told the heretic Acesias) Erigito scalam et solus ascendito, erect a ladder, and go up alone. Some there are that take up a delicate profession; they would divide between Christ and his cross, but they are fairly mistaken. Some think to go to heaven in a whirlwind, or as the passengers at sea, be brought to the haven sleeping. But what saith Zanchy, Non decet ut sub capite spinis coronate vivant membra in deliciis. Neque frumenta in horreum reponuntur, nisi flabellis bene a paleis, aristis, et glumis repurgata. Neque lapides in temple Solomonis collocantur, nisi scalpellis et malleis bene coesi. If the head were crowned with thorns, the members must not dream of a delicacy. The stones were not set into Solomon’s temple till hewn, neither is the corn brought into the garner till winnowed.


Verse 23

23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

Ver. 23. Ordained them elders] Giving their votes by lifting up their hands, after the fashion of the Greeks, χειροτονησαντες; whence that of Cicero, porrexerunt manus, psephisma natum est. Or else laying on their hands, as the apostles used to do in ordaining of ministers. Stephanus saith, that this word when it governeth an accusative case (as here it doth) signifies not to "give suffrage," but to "create, ordain, elect."


Verse 24

24 And after they had passed throughout Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia.

Ver. 24. And after they had passed through Pisidia] At Antioch in this country they had planted a Church before. {See Acts 13:14-15, &c.} Now being to return to the other Antioch in Syria (whence they had been sent out at first), they pass through Pamphylia, a country that lay toward the mountain Taurus.


Verse 26

25 And when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia:

26 And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled.

Ver. 26. Recommended to the grace of God] This shows that they set not upon the work in their own strength, but wholly depended upon the free grace of God, qua nolentem praevenit ut velit, volentem subsequitur, ne frustra velit, saith holy Augustine, who was a great advancer of grace, and abaser of nature; as being wholly of St Paul’s spirit, for which the Papists sharply censure him. (Stapleton, Sixt. Senens.)


Verse 27

27 And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.

Ver. 27. Preached the word in Perga] A city of Pamphylia, much addicted to the worship of Diana, who was therehence called Pergea. Gratea nullo modo est gratia, quae non est gratuita, saith Augustine. Note this against the doctrine of merits foreseen, and freewill.

And how he had opened the door of faith] Indeed of heaven, by the preaching of the doctrine of faith: there being no other ordinary way of attaining salvation either for Jews or Gentiles, as St Paul proves in his Epistle to the Romans; {a} as in that to the Colossians, he determineth, that the soul is spoiled by philosophy, if it be not after Christ, Colossians 2:8. Those school divines, therefore, qui salutem spondet absque Christi cognitione (as Acosta hath it), who open a door to heaven without faith in Christ, were much mistaken. And so were those Collen divines too, that wrote a book of the salvation of Aristotle; whom they make to be Christ’s forerunner in naturals, like as John Baptist was in supernaturals.

{a} Song of Solomon 8:9; "If she be a door," i.e. if she have faithful ministers, which, as a door, open the way to Christ.


Verse 28

28 And there they abode long time with the disciples.

Ver. 28. There they abode] As in a receptacle of rest, a place of free profession; such as Geneva hath been for many years to the persecuted Protestants, which makes the wicked Papists give out, that it is a professed sanctuary of all manner of roguery; that the people there are blasphemers of God and all his saints, yea, that they are grown barbarous, and eat young children, &c. And this the common people are taught to believe as gospel.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Acts 14:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/acts-14.html. 1865-1868.

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