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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Acts 21



Verse 1

Were parted from them (αποσπαστεντας απ αυτωνapospasthentas ap' autōn). First aorist passive participle of αποσπαωapospaō same verb as in Acts 20:30; Luke 22:41.

Had set sail (αναχτηναιanachthēnai). First aorist passive of αναγωanagō the usual verb to put out (up) to sea as in Acts 20:2 (ανηχτημενanēchthēmen).

We came with a straight course (ευτυδρομησαντες ηλτομενeuthudromēsantes ēlthomen). The same verb (aorist active participle of ευτυδρομεωeuthudromeō) used by Luke in Acts 16:11 of the voyage from Troas to Samothrace and Neapolis, which see.

Unto Cos (εις την Κοeis tēn Ko). Standing today, about forty nautical miles south from Miletus, island famous as the birthplace of Hippocrates and Apelles with a great medical school. Great trading place with many Jews.

The next day (τηι εχηςtēi hexēs). Locative case with ημεραιhēmerāi (day) understood. The adverb εχηςhexēs is from εχωechō (future εχωhexō) and means successively or in order. This is another one of Luke‘s ways of saying “on the next day” (cf. three others in Acts 20:15).

Unto Rhodes (εις την οδονeis tēn Rhodon). Called the island of roses. The sun shone most days and made roses luxuriant. The great colossus which represented the sun, one of the seven wonders of the world, was prostrate at this time. The island was at the entrance to the Aegean Sea and had a great university, especially for rhetoric and oratory. There was great commerce also.

Unto Patara (εις Παταραeis Patara). A seaport on the Lycian coast on the left bank of the Xanthus. It once had an oracle of Apollo which rivalled that at Delphi. This was the course taken by hundreds of ships every season.

Verse 2

Having found a ship (ευροντες πλοιονheurontes ploion). Paul had used a small coasting vessel (probably hired) that anchored each night at Cos, Rhodes, Patara. He was still some four hundred miles from Jerusalem. But at Patara Paul caught a large vessel (a merchantman) that could sail across the open sea.

Crossing over unto Phoenicia (διαπερων εις Ποινικηνdiaperōn eis Phoinikēn). Neuter singular accusative (agreeing with πλοιονploion) present active participle of διαπεραωdiaperaō old verb to go between (διαdia) and so across to Tyre.

We went aboard (επιβαντεςepibantes). Second aorist active participle of επιβαινωepibainō f0).

Verse 3

When we had come in sight of Cyprus (αναπαναντες την Κυπρονanaphanantes tēn Kupron). First aorist active participle of αναπαινωanaphainō (Doric form παναντες̇phanēntes rather than the Attic πηναντες̇phēnantes), old verb to make appear, bring to light, to manifest. Having made Cyprus visible or rise up out of the sea. Nautical terms. In the N.T. only here and Luke 19:11 which see.

On the left hand (ευωνυμονeuōnumon). Compound feminine adjective like masculine. They sailed south of Cyprus.

We sailed (επλεομενepleomen). Imperfect active of common verb πλεωpleō kept on sailing till we came to Syria.

Landed at Tyre (κατηλτομεν εις Τυρονkatēlthomen eis Turon). Came down to Tyre. Then a free city of Syria in honour of its former greatness (cf. the long siege by Alexander the Great).

There (εκεισεekeise). Thither, literally. Only one other instance in N.T., Acts 22:5 which may be pertinent = εκειekei (there).

Was to unlade (ην αποπορτιζομενονēn apophortizomenon). Periphrastic imperfect middle of αποπορτιζωapophortizō late verb from αποapo and πορτοςphortos load, but here only in the N.T. Literally, “For thither the boat was unloading her cargo,” a sort of “customary” or “progressive” imperfect (Robertson, Grammar, p. 884).

Burden (γομονgomon). Cargo, old word, from γεμωgemō to be full. Only here and Revelation 18:11. in N.T. Probably a grain or fruit ship. It took seven days here to unload and reload.

Verse 4

Having found (ανευροντεςaneurontes). Second aorist active participle of ανευρισκωaneuriskō to seek for, to find by searching (αναana). There was a church here, but it was a large city and the number of members may not have been large. Probably some of those that fled from Jerusalem who came to Phoenicia (Acts 11:19) started the work here. Paul went also through Phoenicia on the way to the Jerusalem Conference (Acts 15:3). As at Troas and Miletus, so here Paul‘s indefatigible energy shows itself with characteristic zeal.

Through the Spirit (δια του πνευματοςdia tou pneumatos). The Holy Spirit undoubtedly who had already told Paul that bonds and afflictions awaited him in Jerusalem (Acts 20:23).

That he should not set foot in Jerusalem (μη επιβαινειν εις Ιεροσολυμαmē epibainein eis Ierosoluma). Indirect command with μηmē and the present active infinitive, not to keep on going to Jerusalem (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1046). In spite of this warning Paul felt it his duty as before (Acts 20:22) to go on. Evidently Paul interpreted the action of the Holy Spirit as information and warning although the disciples at Tyre gave it the form of a prohibition. Duty called louder than warning to Paul even if both were the calls of God.

Verse 5

That we had accomplished the days (εχαρτισαι ημας τας ημεραςexartisai hēmās tas hēmeras). First aorist active infinitive of εχαρτιζωexartizō to furnish perfectly, rare in ancient writers, but fairly frequent in the papyri. Only twice in the N.T., here and 2 Timothy 3:17. Finish the exact number of days (seven) of Acts 20:4. The accusative of general reference ημαςhēmās is the usual construction and the infinitive clause is the subject of εγενετοegeneto We departed and went on our journey (εχελτοντες επορευομεταexelthontes eporeuometha). Sharp distinction between the first aorist active participle εχελτοντεςexelthontes (from εχερχομαιexerchomai to go out) and the imperfect middle επορευομεταeporeuometha from πορευωporeuō (we were going on).

And they all, with wives and children, brought us on our way (προπεμποντων ημας παντων συν γυναιχι και τεκνοιςpropempontōn hēmās pantōn sun gunaixi kai teknois). No “and” in the Greek, simply genitive absolute, “They all with wives and children accompanying us,” just as at Miletus (Acts 20:28), same verb προπεμπωpropempō which see. The first mention of children in connection with the apostolic churches (Vincent). Vivid picture here as at Miletus, evident touch of an eyewitness.

Till we were out of the city (εως εχω της πολεωςheōs exō tēs poleōs). Note both adverbial prepositions (εως εχωheōs exō) clear outside of the city.

Verse 6

Beach (αιγιαλονaigialon). As in Matthew 13:2 which see. This scene is in public as at Miletus, but they did not care.

Bade each other farewell (απεσπασαμετα αλληλουςapespasametha allēlous). First aorist middle of απασπαζομαιapaspazomai Rare compound, here alone in the N.T. Tender scene, but “no bonds of long comradeship, none of the clinging love” (Furneaux) seen at Miletus (Acts 20:37.).

Home again (εις τα ιδιαeis ta idia). To their own places as of the Beloved Disciple in John 19:27 and of Jesus in John 1:11. This idiom in the papyri also.

Verse 7

Had finished (διανυσαντεςdianusantes). First aorist active participle of διανυωdianuō old verb to accomplish (ανυωanuō) thoroughly (διαdia), only here in the N.T.

From Tyre (απο Τυρουapo Turou). Page takes (Hackett also) with κατηντησαμενkatēntēsamen (we arrived) rather than with “τον πλουνton ploun ” (the voyage) and with good reason: “And we, having (thereby) finished the voyage, arrived from Tyre at Ptolemais.” Ptolemais is the modern Acre, called Accho in Judges 1:31. The harbour is the best on the coast of Palestine and is surrounded by mountains. It is about thirty miles south of Tyre. It was never taken by Israel and was considered a Philistine town and the Greeks counted it a Phoenician city. It was the key to the road down the coast between Syria and Egypt and had successively the rule of the Ptolemies, Syrians, Romans.

Saluted (ασπασαμενοιaspasamenoi). Here greeting as in Acts 21:19 rather than farewell as in Acts 20:1. The stay was short, one day (ημεραν μιανhēmeran mian accusative), but “the brethren” Paul and his party found easily. Possibly the scattered brethren (Acts 11:19) founded the church here or Philip may have done it.

Verse 8

On the morrow (τηι επαυριονtēi epaurion). Another and the more common way of expressing this idea of “next day” besides the three in Acts 20:15 and the one in Acts 21:1.

Unto Caesarea (εις Καισαριανeis Kaisarian). Apparently by land as the voyage (πλουνploun) ended at Ptolemais (Acts 21:7). Caesarea is the political capital of Judea under the Romans where the procurators lived and a city of importance, built by Herod the Great and named in honour of Augustus. It had a magnificent harbour built Most of the inhabitants were Greeks. This is the third time that we have seen Paul in Caesarea, on his journey from Jerusalem to Tarsus (Acts 9:30), on his return from Antioch at the close of the second mission tour (Acts 18:22) and now. The best MSS. omit οι περι Παυλουhoi peri Paulou (we that were of Paul‘s company) a phrase like that in Acts 13:13.

Into the house of Philip the evangelist (εις τον οικον Πιλιππου του ευαγγελιστουeis ton oikon Philippou tou euaggelistou). Second in the list of the seven (Acts 6:5) after Stephen and that fact mentioned here. By this title he is distinguished from “Philip the apostle,” one of the twelve. His evangelistic work followed the death of Stephen (Acts 8) in Samaria, Philistia, with his home in Caesarea. The word “evangelizing” (ευηγγελιζετοeuēggelizeto) was used of him in Acts 8:40. The earliest of the three N.T. examples of the word “evangelist” (Acts 21:8; Ephesians 4:11; 2 Timothy 4:5). Apparently a word used to describe one who told the gospel story as Philip did and may have been used of him first of all as John was termed “the baptizer” (ο βαπτιζωνho baptizn Mark 1:4), then “the Baptist” (ο βαπτιστηςho baptistēs Matthew 3:1). It is found on an inscription in one of the Greek islands of uncertain date and was used in ecclesiastical writers of later times on the Four Gospels as we do. As used here the meaning is a travelling missionary who “gospelized” communities. This is probably Paul‘s idea in 2 Timothy 4:5. In Ephesians 4:11 the word seems to describe a special class of ministers just as we have them today. Men have different gifts and Philip had this of evangelizing as Paul was doing who is the chief evangelist. The ideal minister today combines the gifts of evangelist, herald, teacher, shepherd. “

We abode with him” (εμειναμεν παρ αυτωιemeinamen par' autōi). Constative aorist active indicative. Παρ αυτωιPar autōi (by his side) is a neat idiom for “at his house.” What a joyful time Paul had in conversation with Philip. He could learn from him much of value about the early days of the gospel in Jerusalem. And Luke could, and probably did, take notes from Philip and his daughters about the beginnings of Christian history. It is generally supposed that the “we” sections of Acts represent a travel document by Luke (notes made by him as he journeyed from Troas to Rome). Those who deny the Lukan authorship of the whole book usually admit this. So we may suppose that Luke is already gathering data for future use. If so, these were precious days for him.

Verse 9

Virgins which did prophesy (παρτενοι προπητευσαιparthenoi prophēteusai). Not necessarily an “order” of virgins, but Philip had the honour of having in his home four virgin daughters with the gift of prophecy which was not necessarily predicting events, though that was done as by Agabus here. It was more than ordinary preaching (cf. Acts 19:6) and was put by Paul above the other gifts like tongues (1 Corinthians 14:1-33). The prophecy of Joel (Joel 2:28.) about their sons and daughters prophesying is quoted by Peter and applied to the events on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:17). Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:5 gives directions about praying and prophesying by the women (apparently in public worship) with the head uncovered and sharply requires the head covering, though not forbidding the praying and prophesying. With this must be compared his demand for silence by the women in 1 Corinthians 14:34-40; 1 Timothy 2:8-15 which it is not easy to reconcile. One wonders if there was not something known to Paul about special conditions in Corinth and Ephesus that he has not told. There was also Anna the prophetess in the temple (Luke 2:36) besides the inspired hymns of Elizabeth (Luke 1:42-45) and of Mary (Luke 1:46-55). At any rate there was no order of women prophets or official ministers. There were Old Testament prophetesses like Miriam, Deborah, Huldah. Today in our Sunday schools the women do most of the actual teaching. The whole problem is difficult and calls for restraint and reverence. One thing is certain and that is that Luke appreciated the services of women for Christ as is shown often in his writings (Luke 8:1-3, for instance) before this incident.

Verse 10

As we tarried (επιμενοντων ημωνepimenontōn hēmōn). Genitive absolute. Note επιepi (additional) with μενωmenō as in Acts 12:16.

Many days (ημερας πλειουςhēmeras pleious). More days (than we expected), accusative of time.

A certain prophet named Agabus (προπητης ονοματι Αγαβοςprophētēs onomati Agabos). A prophet like the daughters of Philip, mentioned already in connection with the famine predicted by him (Acts 11:28), but apparently not a man of prominence like Barnabas, and so no allusion to that former prophecy.

Verse 11

Coming (ελτωνelthōn second aorist active participle of ερχομαιerchomai), taking (αραςaras first aorist active participle of αιρωairō to take up), binding (δησαςdēsas first aorist active participle of δεωdeō to bind). Vivid use of three successive participles describing the dramatic action of Agabus.

Paul‘s girdle (την ζωνην του Παυλουtēn zōnēn tou Paulou). Old word from ζωννυμιzōnnumi to gird. See note on Acts 12:8.

His own feet and hands (εαυτου τους ποδας και τας χειραςheautou tous podas kai tas cheiras). Basis for the interpretation. Old Testament prophets often employed symbolic deeds (1 Kings 22:11; James 2:2; Jeremiah 13:1-7; Ezekiel 4:1-6). Jesus interpreted the symbolism of Peter‘s girding himself (John 21:18).

So (ουτωςhoutōs). As Agabus had bound himself. Agabus was just from Jerusalem and probably knew the feeling there against Paul. At any rate the Holy Spirit revealed it to him as he claims.

Shall deliver (παραδωσουσινparadōsousin). Like the words of Jesus about himself (Matthew 20:19). He was “delivered” into the hands of the Gentiles and it took five years to get out of those hands.

Verse 12

Both we and they of that place (ημεις τε και οι εντοπιοιhēmeis te kai hoi entopioi). Usual use of τε καιte kai (both--and). ΕντοπιοιEntopioi old word, only here in N.T.

Not to go up (του μη αναβαινεινtou mē anabainein). Probably ablative of the articular present active infinitive with redundant negative μεme after παρεκαλουμενparekaloumen (imperfect active, conative). We tried to persuade him from going up. It can be explained as genitive, but not so likely: We tried to persuade him in respect to not going up. Vincent cites the case of Regulus who insisted on returning from Rome to Carthage to certain death and that of Luther on the way to the Diet of Worms. Spalatin begged Luther not to go on. Luther said: “Though devils be as many in Worms as tiles upon the roofs, yet thither will I go.” This dramatic warning of Agabus came on top of that in Tyre (Acts 21:4) and Paul‘s own confession in Miletus (Acts 20:23). It is small wonder that Luke and the other messengers together with Philip and his daughters (prophetesses versus prophet?) joined in a chorus of dissuasion to Paul.

Verse 13

What are you doing weeping? (Τι ποιειτε κλαιοντεσTi poieite klaionteṡ) Strong protest as in Mark 11:5.

Breaking my heart (συντρυπτοντες μου την καρδιανsunthruptontes mou tēn kardian). The verb συντρυπτωsunthruptō to crush together, is late Koiné{[28928]}š for αποτρυπτωapothruptō to break off, both vivid and expressive words. So to enervate and unman one, weakening Paul‘s determination to go on with his duty.

I am ready (Εγω ετοιμως εχωEgō hetoimōs echō). I hold (myself) in readiness (adverb, ετοιμωςhetoimōs). Same idiom in 2 Corinthians 12:14.

Not only to be bound (ου μονον δετηναιou monon dethēnai). First aorist passive infinitive of δεωdeō and note ου μονονou monon rather than μη μονονmē monon the usual negative of the infinitive because of the sharp contrast (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1095). Paul‘s readiness to die, if need be, at Jerusalem is like that of Jesus on the way to Jerusalem the last time. Even before that Luke (Luke 9:51) said that “he set his face to go on to Jerusalem.” Later the disciples will say to Jesus, “Master, the Jews were but now seeking to stone thee; and goest thou thither?” (John 11:8). The stature of Paul rises here to heroic proportions “for the name of the Lord Jesus” (υπερ του ονοματος του κυριου Ιησουhuper tou onomatos tou kuriou Iēsou).

Verse 14

When he would not be persuaded (μη πειτομενου αυτουmē peithomenou autou). Genitive absolute of the present passive participle of πειτωpeithō Literally, “he not being persuaded.” That was all. Paul‘s will (καρδιαkardia) was not broken, not even bent.

We ceased (ησυχασαμενhēsuchasamen). Ingressive aorist active indicative of ησυχαζωhēsuchazō old verb to be quiet, silent.

The will of the Lord be done (του κυριου το τελημα γινεστωtou kuriou to thelēma ginesthō). Present middle imperative of γινομαιginomai There is a quaint naivete in this confession by the friends of Paul. Since Paul would not let them have their way, they were willing for the Lord to have his way, acquiescence after failure to have theirs.

Verse 15

We took up our baggage (επισκευασαμενοιepiskeuasamenoi). First aorist middle participle of επισκευαζωepiskeuazō old verb to furnish (σκευοσ επιskeuosανεβαινομενepi) with things necessary, to pack up, saddle horses here Ramsay holds. Here only in the N.T.

Went up (αναβαινωanebainomen). Inchoative imperfect active of anabainō we started to go up.

Verse 16

Certain of the disciples (των ματητωνtōn mathētōn). The genitive here occurs with τινεςtines understood as often in the Greek idiom, the partitive genitive used as nominative (Robertson, Grammar, p. 502).

Bringing (αγοντεςagontes). Nominative plural participle agreeing with τινεςtines understood, not with case of ματητωνmathētōn

One Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we should lodge (παρ ωι χενιστωμεν Μνασωνι τινι Κυπριωι αρχαιωι ματητηιpar hōi xenisthōmen Mnasnōi tini Kupriōi archaiōi mathētēi). A thoroughly idiomatic Greek idiom, incorporation and attraction of the antecedent into the relative clause (Robertson, Grammar, p. 718). ΜνασωνιMnasōni is really the object of αγοντεςagontes or the accusative with παραpara or προςpros understood and should be accusative, but it is placed in the clause after the relative and in the same locative case with the relative ωιhōi (due to παρpar' beside, with). Then the rest agrees in case with ΜνασωνιMnasōni He was originally from Cyprus, but now in Caesarea. The Codex Bezae adds εις τινα κωμηνeis tina kōmēn (to a certain village) and makes it mean that they were to lodge with Mnason at his home there about halfway to Jerusalem. This may be true. The use of the subjunctive χενιστωμενxenisthōmen (first aorist passive of χενιζωxenizō to entertain strangers as in Acts 10:6, Acts 10:23, Acts 10:32 already) may be volitive of purpose with the relative (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 955, 989). The use of αρχαιωιarchaiōi for “early” may refer to the fact that he was one of the original disciples at Pentecost as Peter in Acts 15:7 uses ημερων αρχαιωνhēmerōn archaiōn (early days) to refer to his experience at Ceasarea in Acts 10. “As the number of the first disciples lessened, the next generation accorded a sort of honour to the survivors” (Furneaux).

Verse 17

When we were come (γενομενων ημωνgenomenōn hēmōn). Genitive absolute again, “we having come.”

Received (απεδεχαντοapedexanto). ΑποδεχομαιApodechomai to receive from. This old compound only in Luke in the N.T.

Gladly (ασμενωςasōmens). Old adverb ησμενωςhēsōmens from ηδομαιhēdomai to be pleased. Here only in the N.T. Perhaps this first glad welcome was from Paul‘s personal friends in Jerusalem.

Verse 18

The day following (τηι επιουσηιtēi epiousēi). As in Acts 20:15 which see.

Went in (εισηιειeisēiei). Imperfect active of εισειμιeiseimi old classic verb used only four times in the N.T. (Acts 3:3; Acts 21:18, Acts 21:26; Hebrews 9:6), a mark of the literary style rather than the colloquial Koiné{[28928]}š use of εισερχομαιeiserchomai Together with us to James (συν ημιν προς Ιακωβονsun hēmin pros Iakōbon). So then Luke is present. The next use of “we” is in Acts 27:1 when they leave Caesarea for Rome, but it is not likely that Luke was away from Paul in Jerusalem and Caesarea. The reports of what was done and said in both places is so full and minute that it seems reasonable that Luke got first hand information here whatever his motive was for so full an account of these legal proceedings to be discussed later. There are many details that read like an eye witness‘s story (Acts 21:30, Acts 21:35, Acts 21:40; Acts 22:2, Acts 22:3; Acts 23:12, etc.). It was probably the house of James (προςpros and παραpara so used often).

And all the elders were present (παντες τε παρεγενοντο οι πρεσβυτεροιpantes te paregenonto hoi presbuteroi). Clearly James is the leading elder and the others are his guests in a formal reception to Paul. It is noticeable that the apostles are not mentioned, though both elders and apostles are named at the Conference in Acts chapter 15. It would seem that the apostles are away on preaching tours. The whole church was not called together probably because of the known prejudice against Paul created by the Judaizers.

Verse 19

He rehearsed (εχηγειτοexēgeito). Imperfect middle of εχηγεομαιexēgeomai old verb to lead out, to draw out in narrative, to recount. So Paul is pictured as taking his time for he had a great story to tell of what had happened since they saw him last.

One by one (κατ ενα εκαστονkath' hena hekaston). According to each one (item) and the adverbial phrase used as an accusative after the verb εχηγειτοexēgeito as Demosthenes does (1265), though it could be like κατ ενα εκαστοςkath' hena hekastos in Ephesians 5:33.

Which (ωνhōn). Genitive attracted from αha (accusative) into the case of the unexpressed antecedent τουτωνtoutōn

God had wrought (εποιησεν ο τεοςepoiēsen ho theos). Summary constative aorist active indicative that gathers up all that God did and he takes pains to give God the glory. It is possible that at this formal meeting Paul observed an absence of warmth and enthusiasm in contrast with the welcome accorded by his friends the day before (Acts 21:17). Furneaux thinks that Paul was coldly received on this day in spite of the generous offering brought from the Gentile Christians. “It looks as though his misgiving as to its reception (Romans 15:31) was confirmed. Nor do we hear that the Christians of Jerusalem later put in so much as a word on his behalf with either the Jewish or the Roman authorities, or expressed any sympathy with him during his long imprisonment at Caesarea” (Furneaux). The most that can be said is that the Judaizers referred to by James do not appear actively against him. The collection and the plan proposed by James accomplished that much at any rate. It stopped the mouths of those lions.

Verse 20

Glorified (εδοχαζονedoxazon). Inchoative imperfect, began to glorify God, though without special praise of Paul.

How many thousands (ποσαι μυριαδεςposai muriades). Old word for ten thousand (Acts 19:19) and then an indefinite number like our “myriads” (this very word) as Luke 12:1; Acts 21:20; Judges 1:14; Revelation 5:11; Revelation 9:16. But it is a surprising statement even with allowable hyperbole, but one may recall Acts 4:4 (number of the men--not women--about five thousand); Acts 5:14 (multitudes both of men and women); Acts 6:7. There were undoubtedly a great many thousands of believers in Jerusalem and all Jewish Christians, some, alas, Judaizers (Acts 11:2; Acts 15:1, Acts 15:5). This list may include the Christians from neighbouring towns in Palestine and even some from foreign countries here at the Feast of Pentecost, for it is probable that Paul arrived in time for it as he had hoped. But we do not have to count the hostile Jews from Asia (Acts 21:27) who were clearly not Christians at all.

All zealous for the law (παντες ζηλωται του νομουpantes zēlōtai tou nomou). Zealots (substantive) rather than zealous (adjective) with objective genitive (του νομουtou nomou). The word zealot is from ζηλοωzēloō to burn with zeal, to boil. The Greek used ζηλωτηςzēlōtēs for an imitator or admirer. There was a party of Zealots (developed from the Pharisees), a group of what would be called “hot-heads,” who brought on the war with Rome. One of this party, Simon Zelotes (Acts 1:13), was in the number of the twelve apostles. It is important to understand the issues in Jerusalem. It was settled at the Jerusalem Conference (Acts 15; Galatians 2) that the Mosaic ceremonial law was not to be imposed upon Gentile Christians. Paul won freedom for them, but it was not said that it was wrong for Jewish Christians to go on observing it if they wished. We have seen Paul observing the passover in Philippi (Acts 20:6) and planning to reach Jerusalem for Pentecost (Acts 20:16). The Judaizers rankled under Paul‘s victory and power in spreading the gospel among the Gentiles and gave him great trouble in Galatia and Corinth. They were busy against him in Jerusalem also and it was to undo the harm done by them in Jerusalem that Paul gathered the great collection from the Gentile Christians and brought it with him and the delegates from the churches. Clearly then Paul had real ground for his apprehension of trouble in Jerusalem while still in Corinth (Romans 15:25) when he asked for the prayers of the Roman Christians (Romans 15:30-32). The repeated warnings along the way were amply justified.

Verse 21

They have been informed concerning thee (κατηχητησαν περι σουkatēchēthēsan peri sou). First aorist passive indicative of κατηχεωkatēcheō A word in the ancient Greek, but a few examples survive in the papyri. It means to sound (echo, from ηχωēchō our word) down (καταkata), to resound, re-echo, to teach orally. Oriental students today (Arabs learning the Koran) often study aloud. In the N.T. only in Luke 1:4 which see; Acts 18:25; Acts 21:21; 1 Corinthians 14:19; Galatians 6:6; Romans 2:18. This oral teaching about Paul was done diligently by the Judaizers who had raised trouble against Peter (Acts 11:2) and Paul (Acts 15:1, Acts 15:5). They had failed in their attacks on Paul‘s world campaigns. Now they try to undermine him at home. In Paul‘s long absence from Jerusalem, since Acts 18:22, they have had a free hand, save what opposition James would give, and have had great success in prejudicing the Jerusalem Christians against Paul. So James, in the presence of the other elders and probably at their suggestion, feels called upon to tell Paul the actual situation.

That thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses (οτι αποστασιαν διδασκεις απο Μωυσεως τους κατα τα ετνη παντας Ιουδαιουςhoti apostasian didaskeis apo Mōuseōs tous kata ta ethnē pantas Ioudaious). Two accusatives with διδασκειςdidaskeis (verb of teaching) according to rule. Literally, “That thou art teaching all the Jews among (καταkata) the Gentiles (the Jews of the dispersion as in Acts 2:9) apostasy from Moses.” That is the point, the dreadful word αποστασιανapostasian (our apostasy), a late form (I Macc. James 2:15) for the earlier αποστασιςapostasis (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:3 for αποστασιαapostasia). “In the eyes of the church at Jerusalem this was a far more serious matter than the previous question at the Conference about the status of Gentile converts” (Furneaux). Paul had brought that issue to the Jerusalem Conference because of the contention of the Judaizers. But here it is not the Judaizers, but the elders of the church with James as their spokesman on behalf of the church as a whole. They do not believe this false charge, but they wish Paul to set it straight. Paul had made his position clear in his Epistles (I Corinthians, Galatians, Romans) for all who cared to know.

Telling them not to circumcise their children (λεγων μη περιτεμνειν αυτους τα τεκναlegōn mē peritemnein autous ta tekna). The participle λεγωνlegōn agrees with “thou” (Paul), the subject of διδασκειςdidaskeis This is not indirect assertion, but indirect command, hence the negative μηmē instead of ουou with the infinitive (Robertson, Grammar, p.1046). The point is not that Paul stated what the Jewish Christians in the dispersion do, but that he says that they (αυτουςautous accusative of general reference) are not to go on circumcising (περιτεμνεινperitemnein present active infinitive) their children. Paul taught the very opposite (1 Corinthians 7:18) and had Timothy circumcised (Acts 16:3) because he was half Jew and half Greek. His own practice is stated in 1 Corinthians 9:19 (“to the Jews as a Jew”).

Neither to walk after the customs (μηδε τοις ετεσιν περιπατεινmēde tois ethesin peripatein). Locative case with infinitive περιπατεινperipatein The charge was here enlarged to cover it all and to make Paul out an enemy of Jewish life and teachings. That same charge had been made against Stephen when young Saul (Paul) was the leader (Acts 6:14): “Will change the customs (ετηethē the very word used here) which Moses delivered unto us.” It actually seemed that some of the Jews cared more for Moses than for God (Acts 6:11). So much for the charge of the Judaizers.

Verse 22

What is it therefore? (Τι ουν εστινTi oun estiṅ). See this form of question by Paul (1 Corinthians 14:15, 1 Corinthians 14:26). What is to be done about it? Clearly James and the elders do not believe these misrepresentations of Paul‘s teaching, but many do.

They will certainly hear (παντως ακουσονταιpantōs akousontai). ΠαντωςPantōs is old adverb, by all means, altogether, wholly, certainly as here and Acts 28:4; Luke 4:23; 1 Corinthians 9:10. This future middle of ακουωakouō is the usual form instead of ακουσωakousō There was no way to conceal Paul‘s arrival nor was it wise to do so. B C and several cursives omit δει πλητος συνελτεινdei plēthos sunelthein (The multitude must needs come together).

Verse 23

Do therefore this (τουτο ουν ποιησονtouto oun poiēson). The elders had thought out a plan of procedure by which Paul could set the whole matter straight.

We have (εισιν ημινeisin hēmin). “There are to us” (dative of possession as in Acts 18:10). Apparently members of the Jerusalem church.

Which have a vow on them (ευχην εχοντες απeuchēn echontes aph' -- or επ εαυτωνeph' heautōn). Apparently a temporary Nazarite vow like that in Numbers 6:1-21 and its completion was marked by several offerings in the temple, the shaving of the head (Numbers 6:13-15). Either Paul or Aquila had such a vow on leaving Cenchreae (Acts 18:18). “It was considered a work of piety to relieve needy Jews from the expenses connected with this vow, as Paul does here” (Page). The reading απ εαυτωνaph' heautōn would mean that they had taken the vow voluntarily or of themselves (Luke 12:57; 2 Corinthians 3:5), while επ εαυτωνeph' heautōn means that the vow lies on them still.

Verse 24

These take (τουτους παραλαβωνtoutous paralabōn). Second aorist active participle of παραλαμβανωparalambanō Taking these alone.

Purify thyself with them (αγνιστητι συν αυτοιςhagnisthēti sun autois). First aorist passive imperative of αγνιζωhagnizō old verb to purify, to make pure (αγνοςhagnos). See the active voice in James 4:8; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 Jo 1 Peter 3:3. It is possible to see the full passive force here, “Be purified.” But a number of aorist passives in the Koiné{[28928]}š supplant the aorist middle forms and preserve the force of the middle (Robertson, Grammar, p. 819). That is possible here. Hence, “Purify thyself” is allowable. The word occurs in Numbers 6:1 for taking the Nazarite vow. The point is that Paul takes the vow with them. Note αγνισμουhagnismou in Acts 21:26.

Be at charges for them (δαπανησον επ αυτοιςdapanēson ep' autois). First aorist active imperative of old verb δαπαναωdapanaō to incur expense, expend. Spend (money) upon (επep') them. Ramsay (St. Paul the Traveller, etc., p. 310) argues that Paul had use of considerable money at this period, perhaps from his father‘s estate. The charges for five men would be considerable. “A poor man would not have been treated with the respect paid him at Caesarea, on the voyage, and at Rome” (Furneaux).

That they may shave their heads (ινα χυρησονται την κεπαληνhina xurēsontai tēn kephalēn). Note την κεπαληνtēn kephalēn the head (singular). Future middle indicative of χυραωxuraō late form for the old χυρεωxureō to shave, middle to shave oneself or (causative) to get oneself shaved. This use of ιναhina with the future indicative is like the classic οπωςhopōs with the future indicative and is common in the N.T. as in the Koiné{[28928]}š (Robertson, Grammar, p. 984).

And all shall know (και γνωσονταιkai gnōsontai). This future middle indicative of γινωσκωginōskō (cf. ακουσονταιakousontai in Acts 21:22) may be independent of ιναhina or dependent on it like χυρησονταιxurēsontai though some MSS. (H L P) have γνωσινgnōsin (second aorist subjunctive, clearly dependent on ιναhina).

Of which (ωνhōn). Genitive plural of the relative αha (accusative) object of the perfect passive verb κατηχηνταιkatēchēntai (cf. Acts 21:21 κατηχητησανkatēchēthēsan) attracted into the case of the omitted antecedent τουτωνtoutōn The instruction still in effect.

But that thou thyself walkest orderly (αλλα στοιχεις και αυτοςalla stoicheis kai autos). ΣτοιχειςStoicheis is an old verb to go in a row (from στοιχοςstoichos row, rank, series), to walk in a line or by rule. In the N.T. only here and Galatians 5:25; Romans 4:12; Philemon 3:16. The rule is the law and Paul was not a sidestepper. The idea of the verb is made plain by the participle πυλασσων τον νομονphulassōn ton nomon (keeping or observing the law).

Verse 25

We wrote (επεστειλαμενepesteilamen). First aorist active of επιστελλωepistellō to send to and so to write like our epistle (επιστοληepistolē). Old verb, but in the N.T. only here and Acts 15:20; Hebrews 13:22. It is the very word used by James in this “judgment” at the Conference (Acts 15:20, επιστειλαιepisteilai). B D here read απεστειλαμενapesteilamen from αποστελλωapostellō to send away, to give orders. Wendt and Schuerer object to this as a gloss. Rather is it an explanation by James that he does not refer to the Gentile Christians whose freedom from the Mosaic ceremonial law was guaranteed at the Jerusalem Conference. James himself presided at that Conference and offered the resolution that was unanimously adopted. James stands by that agreement and repeats the main items (four: anything sacrificed to idols, blood, anything strangled, fornication, for discussion see note on Acts 15) from which they are to keep themselves (direct middle πυλασσεσταιphulassesthai of πυλασσωphulass indirect command after κριναντεςkrinantes with accusative, αυτουςautous of general reference). James has thus again cleared the air about the Gentiles who have believed (πεπιστευκοτωνpepisteukotōn perfect active participle genitive plural of πιστευωpisteuō). He asks that Paul will stand by the right of Jewish Christians to keep on observing the Mosaic law. He has put the case squarely and fairly.

Verse 26

Took the men (παραλαβων τους ανδραςparalabōn tous andras). The very phrase used in Acts 21:24 to Paul.

The next day (τηι εχομενηιtēi echomenēi). One of the phrases in Acts 20:15 for the coming day. Locative case of time.

Purifying himself with them (συν αυτοις αγνιστειςsun autois hagnistheis first aorist passive participle of αγνιζωhagnizō). The precise language again of the recommendation in Acts 21:24. Paul was conforming to the letter.

Went into the temple (εισηιει εις το ιερονeisēiei eis to hieron). Imperfect active of εισειμιeiseimi as in Acts 21:18 which see. Went on into the temple, descriptive imperfect. Paul joined the four men in their vow of separation.

Declaring (διαγγελλωνdiaggellōn). To the priests what day he would report the fulfilment of the vow. The priests would desire notice of the sacrifice. This verb only used by Luke in N.T. except Romans 11:17 (quotation from the lxx). It is not necessary to assume that the vows of each of the five expired on the same day (Rackham).

Until the offering was offered for every one of them (εως ου προσηνεχτη υπερ ενος εκαστου αυτων η προσποραheōs hou prosēnechthē huper henos hekastou autōn hē prosphora). This use of εως ουheōs hou (like εωςheōs alone) with the first aorist passive indicative προσηνεχτηprosēnechthē of προσπερωprospherō to offer, contemplates the final result (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 974f.) and is probably the statement of Luke added to Paul‘s announcement. He probably went into the temple one day for each of the brethren and one for himself. The question arises whether Paul acted wisely or unwisely in agreeing to the suggestion of James. What he did was in perfect harmony with his principle of accommodation in 1 Corinthians 9:20 when no principle was involved. It is charged that here on this occasion Paul was unduly influenced by considerations of expediency and was willing for the Jewish Christians to believe him more of a Jew than was true in order to placate the situation in Jerusalem. Furneaux calls it a compromise and a failure. I do not so see it. To say that is to obscure the whole complex situation. What Paul did was not for the purpose of conciliating his opponents, the Judaizers, who had diligently spread falsehoods about him in Jerusalem as in Corinth. It was solely to break the power of these “false apostles” over the thousands in Jerusalem who have been deluded by Paul‘s accusers. So far as the evidence goes that thing was accomplished. In the trouble that comes in Jerusalem and Caesarea the Judaizers cut no figure at all. The Jewish Christians do not appear in Paul‘s behalf, but there was no opportunity for them to do so. The explosion that came on the last day of Paul‘s appearance in the temple was wholly disconnected from his offerings for the four brethren and himself. It must be remembered that Paul had many kinds of enemies. The attack on him by these Jews from Asia had no connexion whatever with the slanders of the Judaizers about Paul‘s alleged teachings that Jewish Christians in the dispersion should depart from the Mosaic law. That slander was put to rest forever by his following the advice of James and justifies the wisdom of that advice and Paul‘s conduct about it.

Verse 27

The seven days (αι επτα ημεραιhai hepta hēmerai). For which Paul had taken the vow, though there may be an allusion to the pentecostal week for which Paul had desired to be present (Acts 20:16). There is no necessary connexion with the vow in Acts 18:15. In Acts 24:17 Paul makes a general reference to his purpose in coming to Jerusalem to bring alms and offerings (προσποραςprosphoras sacrifices). Paul spent seven days in Troas (Acts 20:6), Tyre (Acts 21:4), and had planned for seven here if not more. It was on the last of the seven days when Paul was completing his offerings about the vows on all five that the incident occurred that was to make him a prisoner for five years.

When they saw him in the temple (τεασαμενοι αυτον εν τωι ιερωιtheasamenoi auton en tōi hierōi). First aorist middle participle of τεαομαιtheaomai (from τεαthea a view, cf. theatre) to behold. In the very act of honouring the temple these Jews from Asia raise a hue and cry that he is dishonouring it. Paul was not known by face now to many of the Jerusalem Jews, though once the leader of the persecution after the death of Stephen and the outstanding young Jew of the day. But the Jews in Ephesus knew him only too well, some of whom are here at the pentecostal feast. They had plotted against him in Ephesus to no purpose (Acts 19:23-41; Acts 20:19), but now a new opportunity had come. It is possible that the cry was led by Alexander put forward by the Jews in Ephesus (Acts 19:33) who may be the same as Alexander the coppersmith who did Paul so much harm (2 Timothy 4:14). Paul was not in the inner sanctuary (ο ναοςho naos), but only in the outer courts (το ιερονto hieron).

Stirred up all the multitude (συνεχεον παντα τον οχλονsunecheon panta ton ochlon). Imperfect (kept on) active of συνχεωsuncheō or συνχυνωsunchunō (υννω̇unnō), to pour together, to confuse as in Acts 2:6; Acts 9:22; Acts 19:31, Acts 19:32; Acts 21:31 and here to stir up by the same sort of confusion created by Demetrius in Ephesus where the same word is used twice (Acts 19:31, Acts 19:32). The Jews from Ephesus had learned it from Demetrius the silversmith.

Laid hands on him (επεβαλαν επ αυτον τας χειραςepebalan ep' auton tas cheiras). Second aorist (ingressive, with endings of the first aorist, αν̇an) active indicative of επιβαλλωepiballō old verb to lay upon, to attack (note repetition of επιepi). They attacked and seized Paul before the charge was made.

Verse 28

Help (βοητειτεboētheite). Present active imperative of βοητεωboētheō to run (τεωtheō) at a cry (βοηboē), as if an outrage had been committed like murder or assault.

All men everywhere (παντα πανταχηιpanta pantachēi). Alliterative. ΠανταχηιPantachēi is a variation in MSS., often πανταχουpantachou and here only in the N.T. The charges against Paul remind one of those against Stephen (Acts 6:13) in which Paul had participated according to his confession (Acts 22:20). Like the charges against Stephen and Jesus before him truth and falsehood are mixed. Paul had said that being a Jew would not save a man. He had taught the law of Moses was not binding on Gentiles. He did hold, like Jesus and Stephen, that the temple was not the only place to worship God. But Paul gloried himself in being a Jew, considered the Mosaic law righteous for Jews, and was honouring the temple at this very moment.

And moreover also he brought Greeks also into the temple (ετι τε και ελληνας εισηγαγεν εις το ιερονeti te kai Hellēnas eisēgagen eis to hieron). Note the three particles (ετι τε καιeti te kai), and (τεte) still more (ετιeti) also or even (καιkai). Worse than his teaching (διδασκωνdidaskōn) is his dreadful deed: he actually brought (εισηγαγενeisēgagen second aorist active indicative of εισαγωeisagō). This he had a right to do if they only went into the court of the Gentiles. But these Jews mean to imply that Paul had brought Greeks beyond this court into the court of Israel. An inscription was found by Clermont-Ganneau in Greek built into the walls of a mosque on the Via Dolorosa that was on the wall dividing the court of Israel from the court of the Gentiles. Death was the penalty to any Gentile who crossed over into the Court of Israel (The Athenaeum, July, 1871).

Hath defiled this holy place (κεκοινωκεν τον αγιον τοπον τουτονkeKoinōken ton hagion topon touton). Present perfect active of κοινοωKoinoō to make common (See note on Acts 10:14). Note vivid change of tense, the defilement lasts (state of completion). All this is the substance of the call of these shrewd conspirators from Ephesus, Jews (not Jewish Christians, not even Judaizers) who hated him for his work there and who probably “spoke evil of the Way before the multitude” there so that Paul had to separate the disciples from the synagogue and go to the School of Tyrannus (Acts 19:9.). These enemies of Paul had now raised the cry of “fire” and vanish from the scene completely (Acts 24:19). This charge was absolutely false as we shall see, made out of inferences of hate and suspicion.

Verse 29

For (γαρgar). Luke adds the reason for the wild charges made against Paul.

They had before seen (ησαν προεωρακοτεςēsan proeōrakotes). Periphrastic past perfect of προοραωprooraō old verb to see before, whether time or place. Only twice in the N.T., here and Acts 2:25 quoted from Psalm 16:8. Note the double reduplication in εω̇eō̇ as in Attic (Robertson, Grammar, p. 364).

With him in the city Trophimus the Ephesian (Τροπιμον τον Επεσιον εν τηι πολει συν αυτωιTrophimon ton Ephesion en tēi polei sun autōi). The Jews from Asia (Ephesus) knew Trophimus by sight as well as Paul. One day they saw both of them together (συνsun) in the city. That was a fact. They had just seized Paul in the temple (ιερονhieron). That was another fact.

They supposed (ενομιζονenomizon). Imperfect active of νομιζωnomizō common to think or suppose. Perfectly harmless word, but they did, as so many people do, put their supposed inference on the same basis with the facts. They did not see Trophimus with Paul now in the temple, nor had they ever seen him there. They simply argued that, if Paul was willing to be seen down street with a Greek Christian, he would not hesitate to bring him (therefore, did bring him, εισηγαγενeisēgagen as in Acts 21:28) into the temple, that is into the court of Israel and therefore both Paul and Trophimus were entitled to death, especially Paul who had brought him in (if he had) and, besides, they now had Paul. This is the way of the mob-mind in all ages. Many an innocent man has been rushed to his death by the fury of a lynching party.

Verse 30

All the city was shaken (εκινητη η πολις οληekinēthē hē polis holē). First aorist passive of κινεωkineō common verb for violent motion and emotion. See note on Acts 24:5 where the word is used by Tertullus of Paul as the stirrer up of riots!

The people ran together (εγενετο συνδρομη του λαουegeneto sundromē tou laou). Rather, There came a running together (συνδρομηsuṅdromē from συντρεχωsuṅtrechō) of the people. The cry spread like wildfire over the city and there was a pell-mello4 scramble or rush to get to the place of the disturbance.

They laid hold on Paul (επιλαβομενοι του Παυλουepilabomenoi tou Paulou). Second aorist middle participle of επιλαμβανομαιepilambanomai with the genitive (cf. επεβαλανepebalan in Acts 21:27).

Dragged (ειλκονheilkon). Imperfect active of ελκωhelkō (and also ελκυωhelkuō), old verb to drag or draw. Imperfect tense vividly pictures the act as going on. They were saving the temple by dragging Paul outside. Curiously enough both επιλαβομενοιepilabomenoi and ειλκυσανheilkusan occur in Acts 16:19 about the arrest of Paul and Silas in Philippi.

Straightway the doors were shut (ευτεως εκλειστησαν αι τυραιeutheōs ekleisthēsan hai thurai). With a bang and at once. First aorist (effective) passive of κλειωkleiō The doors between the inner court and the court of the Gentiles. But this was only the beginning, the preparation for the real work of the mob. They did not wish to defile the holy place with blood. The doors were shut by the Levites.

Verse 31

As they were seeking to kill him (ζητουντων αυτωνzētountōn autōn). Genitive absolute of ζητεωzēteō to seek, without αυτωνautōn (they). This was their real purpose.

Tidings (πασιςphasis). From παινωphainō to show. Old word for the work of informers and then the exposure of secret crime. In lxx. Here only in the N.T.

Came up (ανεβηanebē). Naturally in the wild uproar. The Roman guard during festivals was kept stationed in the Tower of Antonia at the northwest corner of the temple overlooking the temple and connected by stairs (Acts 21:35).

To the chief captain (τωι χιλιαρχωιtōi chiliarchōi). Commander of a thousand men or cohort (Mark 15:16). His name was Claudius Lysias.

Of the band (της σπειρηςtēs speirēs). Each legion had six tribunes and so each tribune (chiliarch) had a thousand if the cohort had its full quota. See note on Acts 10:1; and note on Acts 27:1. The word is the Latin spira (anything rolled up). Note the genitive σπειρηςspeirēs instead of σπειραςspeiras (Attic).

Was in confusion (συνχυννεταιsunchunnetai). Present passive indicative of συνχυννωsunchunnō (see Acts 21:27, συνεχεονsunecheon). This is what the conspirators had desired.

Verse 32

Forthwith (εχαυτηςexautēs). Common in the Koiné{[28928]}š (εχ αυτηςexō autēs supply ωραςhōras hour).

He took (παραλαβωνparalabōn). See Acts 21:24, Acts 21:26.

Centurions (εκατονταρχαςhekatontarchas). See note on Luke 7:2 for discussion. Plural shows that Lysias the chiliarch took several hundred soldiers along (a centurion with each hundred).

Ran down (katedramen). Effective second aorist active indicative of katatrechō From the tower of Antonia, vivid scene.

And they (κατεδραμενhoi de). Demonstrative use of κατατρεχωhoi The Jewish mob who had begun the work of killing Paul (Acts 21:31).

Left off beating Paul (οι δεepausanto tuptontes ton Paulon). The participle with οιpauomai describes what they were already doing, the supplementary participle (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1121). They stopped before the job was over because of the sudden onset of the Roman soldiers. Some ten years before in a riot at the passover the Roman guard marched down and in the panic several hundred were trampled to death.

Verse 33

Came near (εγγισαςeggisas). First aorist active participle of εγγιζωeggizō to draw near, Koiné{[28928]}š verb from εγγυςeggus near, and common in the N.T.

Laid hold on him (επελαβετο αντουepelabeto antou). See same verb in Acts 21:30.

To be bound (δετηναιdethēnai). First aorist passive infinitive of δεωde (see Acts 21:11).

With two chains (αλυσεσι δυσιhalusesi dusi). Instrumental case of αλυσιςhalusis old word from αa privative and λυωluō (not loosing, i.e. chaining). With two chains as a violent and seditious person, probably leader of a band of assassins (Acts 21:38). See Mark 5:4.

Inquired (epunthaneto). Imperfect middle of punthanomai old and common verb used mainly by Luke in the N.T. Lysias repeated his inquiries.

Who he was (επυντανετοtis eiē). Present active optative of πυντανομαιeimi changed from τις ειηestin (present indicative) in the indirect question, a change not obligatory after a past tense, but often done in the older Greek, rare in the N.T. (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1043f.).

And what he had done (ειμιkai tōi estin pepoiēkōs). Periphrastic perfect active indicative of εστινpoieō here retained, not changed to the optative as is true of και τι εστιν πεποιηκωςeiē from ποιεωestin in the same indirect question, illustrating well the freedom about it.

Verse 34

Some shouting one thing, some another (αλλοι αλλο τι επεπωνουνalloi allo tōi epephōnoun). Same idiom of αλλοι αλλοalloi allo as in Acts 19:32 which see. The imperfect of επιπωνεωepiphōneō to call out to, suits well the idiom. This old verb occurs in the N.T. only in Luke and Acts (already in Acts 12:22).

When he could not know (μη δυναμενου αυτου γνωναιmē dunamenou autou gnōnai). Genitive absolute of present middle participle of δυναμαιdunamai with negative μηmē and second aorist active infinitive of γινωσκωginōskō

The certainty (το ασπαλεςto asphales). Neuter articular adjective from αa privative and σπαλλωsphallō to make totter or fall. Old word, in the N.T. only in Acts 21:34; Acts 22:30; Acts 25:26; Philemon 3:1; Hebrews 6:19.

Into the castle (εις την παρεμβοληνeis tēn parembolēn). Koiné{[28928]}š word from παρεμβαλλωparemballō to cast in by the side of, to assign soldiers a place, to encamp (see note on Luke 19:43). So παρεμβοληparembolē comes to mean an interpolation, then an army drawn up (Hebrews 11:34), but mainly an encampment (Hebrews 13:11, Hebrews 13:13), frequent in Polybius and lxx. So here barracks of the Roman soldiers in the tower of Antonia as in Acts 21:37; Acts 21:22: Acts 21:24; Acts 23:10, Acts 23:16, Acts 23:32.

Verse 35

Upon the stairs (επι τους αναβατμουςepi tous anabathmous). From αναana up, and βαινωbainō to go. Late word, in lxx and Koiné{[28928]}š writers. In the N.T. only here and Acts 21:40.

So it was (συνεβηsunebē). Second aorist active of συμβαινωsumbainō to happen (See note on Acts 20:18) with infinitive clause as subject here as often in the old Greek.

He was borne (βασταζεσται αυτονbastazesthai auton). Accusative of general reference with this subject infinitive, present passive of βασταζωbastazō to take up with the hands, literally as here.

Violence (βιανbian). See note on Acts 5:26. Biazō to use force, is from bia f0).

Verse 36

Followed after (ηκολουτειēkolouthei). Imperfect active of ακολυτεωakolutheō was following. Cheated of their purpose to lynch Paul, they were determined to have his blood.

Crying out (κραζοντεςkrazontes). Construction according to sense, plural masculine participle agreeing with neuter singular substantive πλητοςplēthos (Robertson, Grammar, p. 401).

Away with him (Αιρε αυτονAire auton). The very words used by the mob to Pilate when they chose Barabbas in preference to Jesus (Luke 23:18, Αιρε τουτονAire touton). He will hear it again from this same crowd (Acts 22:22). It is the present imperative (αιρεaire) as in Luke 23:18, but some may have used the urgent aorist active imperative as also in the case of Jesus John 19:15, αρον αρονāronσταυρωσονāron with staurōson added). Luke does not say that this mob demanded crucifixion for Paul. He was learning what it was to share the sufferings of Christ as the sullen roar of the mob‘s yells rolled on and on in his ears.

Verse 37

May I say something unto thee? (Ει εχεστιν μοι ειπειν τι προς σεEi exestin moi eipein tōi pros sė). On this use of ειei in a direct question, see note on Acts 1:6. The calm self-control of Paul in the presence of this mob is amazing. His courteous request to Lysias was in Greek to the chiliarch‘s amazement.

Dost thou know Greek? (ελληνιστι γινωσκεισHellēnisti ginōskeiṡ). Old Greek adverb in ι̇i from ελληνιζωHellēnizō meaning “in Greek.” “Do you know it in Greek?” In the N.T. only here and John 19:20.

Art thou not then the Egyptian? (Ουκ αρα συ ει ο ΑιγυπτιοσOuk ara su ei ho Aiguptioṡ). Expects the answer Yes and αραara argues the matter (therefore). The well-known (οho) Egyptian who had given the Romans so much trouble.

Stirred up to sedition (αναστατωσαςanastatōsas). First aorist active participle of αναστατοωanastatoō a late verb from αναστατοςanastatos outcast, and so to unsettle, to stir up, to excite, once known only in lxx and Acts 17:6 (which see); Acts 21:38; Galatians 5:12, but now found in several papyri examples with precisely this sense to upset.

Of the Assassins (των σικαριωνtōn sikariōn). Latin word sicarius, one who carried a short sword σιχαsica under his cloak, a cutthroat. Josephus uses this very word for bands of robbers under this Egyptian (War II. 17, 6 and 13, 5; Ant. XX. 8, 10). Josephus says that there were 30,000 who gathered on the Mount of Olives to see the walls of Jerusalem fall down and not merely 4,000 as Lysias does here. But Lysias may refer to the group that were armed thus (banditti) the core of the mob of 30,000. Lysias at once saw by Paul‘s knowledge of Greek that he was not the famous Egyptian who led the Assassins and escaped himself when Felix attacked and slew the most of them.

Verse 39

I am (Εγω μεν ειμιEgō men eimi). In contrast with the wild guess of Lysias Paul uses μενmen and δεde He tells briefly who he is:

a Jew (ΙουδαιοςIoudaios) by race,

of Tarsus in Cilicia (Ταρσευς της ΚιλικιαςTarseus tēs Kilikias) by country, belonging to Tarsus (this adjective ΤαρσευςTarseus only here and Acts 9:11), and proud of it, one of the great cities of the empire with a great university.

A citizen of no mean city (ουκ ασημου πολεως πολιτηςouk asēmou poleōs politēs). Litotes again, “no mean” (ασημοςasēmos old adjective, unmarked, αa privative and σημαsēma mark, insignificant, here only in the N.T.). This same litotes used by Euripides of Athens (Ion 8). But Paul calls himself a citizen (πολιτηςpolitēs) of Tarsus. Note the “effective assonance” (Page) in πολεως πολιτηςpoleōs politēs Paul now (δεde) makes his request (δεομαιdeomai) of Lysias.

Give me leave (επιτρεπσον μοιepitrepson moi). First aorist active imperative of επιτρεπωepitrepō old and common verb to turn to, to permit, to allow. It was a strange request and a daring one, to wish to speak to this mob howling for Paul‘s blood.

Verse 40

When he had given him leave (επιτρεπσαντος αυτουepitrepsantos autou). Genitive absolute of aorist active participle of the same verb επιτρεπωepitrepō

Standing on the stairs (εστως επι των αναβατμωνhestōs epi tōn anabathmōn). Second perfect active participle of ιστημιhistēmi to place, but intransitive to stand. Dramatic scene. Paul had faced many audiences and crowds, but never one quite like this. Most men would have feared to speak, but not so Paul. He will speak about himself only as it gives him a chance to put Christ before this angry Jewish mob who look on Paul as a renegade Jew, a turncoat, a deserter, who went back on Gamaliel and all the traditions of his people, who not only turned from Judaism to Christianity, but who went after Gentiles and treated Gentiles as if they were on a par with Jews. Paul knows only too well what this mob thinks of him.

Beckoned with the hand (κατεσεισε τηι χειριkateseise tēi cheiri). He shook down to the multitude with the hand (instrumental case χειριcheiri), while Alexander, Luke says (Acts 19:33), “shook down the hand” (accusative with the same verb, which see). In Acts 26:1 Paul reached out the hand (εκτεινας την χειραekteinas tēn cheira).

When there was made a great silence (πολλης σιγης γενομενηςpollēs sigēs genomenēs). Genitive absolute again with second aorist middle participle of γινομαιginomai “much silence having come.” Paul waited till silence had come.

In the Hebrew language (τηι Εβραιδι διαλεκτωιtēi Ebraidi dialektōi). The Aramaean which the people in Jerusalem knew better than the Greek. Paul could use either tongue at will. His enemies had said in Corinth that “his bodily presence was weak and his speech contemptible” (2 Corinthians 10:10). But surely even they would have to admit that Paul‘s stature and words reach heroic proportions on this occasion. Self-possessed with majestic poise Paul faces the outraged mob beneath the stairs.


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Acts 21:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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