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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Acts 21

 

 

Verse 1

5. From Miletus to Cesarea, Acts 21:1-8.

1. We came—It was about the middle of spring (April 24, A.D. 58) when Paul’s ship cut its quiet and prosperous way through the “isles of Greece,” celebrated in poetry for their romantic beauty, and in history for wonderful events. But Paul journeys in a spirit of ever-increasing sadness. The lying in wait of the Jews (Acts 20:3) had interrupted the very commencement of his journey; at Miletus premonitions of a disastrous result weighed upon his own spirit, (Acts 20:22-23;) at Tyre a presaging warning from others forbade him to proceed, (Acts 21:4,) and at Cesarea an explicit prophecy foretold his surrender to the Romans, and the tears of all his friends implored him to proceed no farther. But he is “bound in spirit” to be in Jerusalem at the feast of Pentecost.

With a straight course—Favoured by the strong wind from the northwest, the ship cuts through the strait dividing Cos from the mainland point of Cnidus, and on Tuesday, April 25, might arrive at Rhodes. From its ever-shining sun and perpetual bloom of foliage, both the emblem and Greek name of this island are Rose.

Patara—The day following, (Wednesday, April 26.)


Verse 2

2. Finding a ship—Their course takes them from their previous ship, but they are so fortunate as to find a ship waiting for them, as it were, at Patara, direct for Tyre. This, apparently, secures Paul the ample time for arriving at Jerusalem at Pentecost, occurring on May 9, A.D. 58, twenty-five years after the first Christian Pentecost.


Verse 3

3. Cyprus—Through whose length Paul with Barnabas had preached Christianity.

Left hand—From Patara they emerged from all the insular straits and launched “O’er the glad waters of the dark blue sea.” In these fresh days of spring, the snows still lingered on the rounded summits of Cyprus, but the shores were clad in rich verdure. The breeze was evidently fair and strong, and their sail now by night as well as by day, through a voyage of three hundred and forty miles, at a rate a little more than seven knots an hour, would land them on Monday, the thirtieth day of April, at Tyre.


Verse 4

4. Finding disciples—Literally, searching out the disciples. Paul well knew that there was a Church there, and perhaps he inquired at the synagogue for its locality, or for the residue of the elders.

Seven daysOne week, as at Troas, (Acts 20:6.)

Through the Spirit—Through the Spirit they learned the danger, and so warned Paul against going.


Verse 5

5. Brought us on our way—But one short week had Paul been with these Tyrian Christians, and yet men, women, and children attend him on his way to the shore. There they prayed and parted. There was no chapel or proseucha; but they kneeled by the sea beneath the open sky.


Verse 7

7. Ptolemais—The ancient Accho and the modern Acre. Lying between Tyre and Cesarea, it is older than either, and has outlasted them both.


Verse 8

8. Departed—Left first the ship, and then the city, and took the land route to Cesarea. “Issuing from the southeastern gate, in ten minutes they would cross the Belus, now the Nahmen; then for three hours would proceed along the beach with the surf breaking at their feet; at the base of Carmel would ford the mouth of the Kishon, (El-mukatta,) and, turning that headland, follow the line of the coast of Cesarea. The distance hither from Akka (Ptolemais) is about forty miles.”Hackett.

Cesarea—(See note on Acts 8:40.)

Philip the evangelist—(See notes on Acts 8:26-40.) Residing at Cesarea, Philip may have still performed the work of an evangelist, or Gospel-preacher, wherever he was providentially called.


Verse 9

6. At CesareaPhilip and DaughtersAgabus, Acts 21:9-14.

9. Virgins—Not nuns, devoted by a vow to celibacy. “Their virginity is probably referred to only as a reason for their being still at home, and not as having any necessary connection with their inspiration. We read of prophetesses under the old economy, not only wives of prophets, (Isaiah 8:3,) but themselves inspired, from Miriam (Exodus 15:20) and Huldah (2 Kings 22:14) to Noadiah (Nehemiah 6:14) and Anna, (Luke 2:36.) Joel’s promise of extraordinary spiritual gifts was to servants of both sexes, and to daughters as well as sons.”—Alexander. The prophetic character of the company now at Philip’s house providentially, especially after the arrival of Agabus, attests how high at this time, more than twenty years since the Ascension, was the spiritual life in the Church.


Verse 10

10. Many days—At Cesarea Paul’s distance from Jerusalem was about seventy-five miles, or three days’ journey. So rapid under propitious gales had been his voyage that he has nine days to spare before Pentecost, which he can spend either at Jerusalem or at Cesarea. From motives of prudence, perhaps, he prefers the latter.

Came down from Judea—Doubtless on having heard of Paul’s arrival at Cesarea, and, belonging to the Pauline section of the Jerusalem Church, anxious to welcome the apostle.


Verse 11

11. Bound his own hands—Impressing the mind most vividly by impressing the eyes, after the Old Testament prophetic fashion. “As Isaiah (chap. 20) loosed the sackcloth from his loins, and put off his shoes from his feet, to declare how the Egyptian captives should be led away into Assyria naked and barefoot, or as the girdle of Jeremiah, (ch. 13,) in its strength and its decay, was made a type of the people of Israel in their privilege and their fall.”—Conybeare & Howson.

Jews bind the man— Agabus’ prophecy was not fulfilled in the letter, for the Jews did not themselves bind the man; but it is fulfilled in spirit, for they bound him with their muscular force, and delivered him into Roman custody and chains.


Verse 12

12. We—Luke and the other attendants of Paul, joined by the Cesarean Christians. Philip and his inspired daughters, in lovely and loving human weakness, joined in the grief and the entreaties that Paul would avoid Jerusalem.


Verse 13

13. What mean ye?—What do ye? or, What are you doing? A question of surprise, yet tenderness.

Break my heart—In all their agony he could share; but not for a moment in their readiness to shrink from the duty and the suffering.

Die… for… Jesus—They saw the danger and the death; he saw also the duty. Had they seen, even for themselves, the same duty and the same cause, doubtless they too, like him, would have moved on to danger and death: for it is a company of rare spirits who are here clustered by affinity around this holy apostle.


Verse 15

To Jerusalem, Acts 21:15-17.

15. Carriages—The things that were carried; their baggage, or luggage.

Up to Jerusalem—Paul now goes “bound in spirit” from Cesarea up to Jerusalem; he will soon return, bound in Roman chains, from Jerusalem to Cesarea. His journey will best be illustrated, geographically, on his return. (See notes on Acts 23:31-33.)


Verse 16

16. Brought with them—More correctly, brought us to Mnason, with whom, etc. These certain Cesarean disciples or Christians did not bring Mnason from Cesarea, but brought Paul and friends to Mnason’s house.

An old disciple—An ancient Christian. He may have been one of Christ’s own hearers and followers, a probability not contradicted by his being of Cyprus.

The retinue with which Paul now entered Jerusalem was very large. Besides the original seven from Europe, (Acts 20:4,) there were Luke and a number of brethren from Cesarea. They came apparently as an embassy from the Church of the Gentiles, headed by the apostle of the Gentiles, to James, the representative of Christian Judaism at the capital of the religious world. It came bearing the money collections effected by Paul. (See note on Acts 19:21, and Acts 24:27.) We doubt not that the number was large in order to be impressive and weighty. Paul had a “sister’s son” now in Jerusalem, (Acts 23:16;) and there might have been a sister whose home was too small to entertain so large a body of guests.


Verse 17

17. Come to Jerusalem—The terminus of Paul’s third missionary tour, begun at Acts 18:23. where see notes.

Brethren… gladly—It was doubtless cheering to Paul, saddened with the dark predictions of change and death at Jerusalem, to meet the face of smiling friends. These were the friends of his Cesarean friends, the progressive party of the Church, sympathizers with Christian Gentilism and its apostle.

HISTORIC REVIEW—Paul’s entrance into Jerusalem calls for a brief history of Judea from the death of Herod Agrippa, whose history is given in our note on Acts 12:1; Acts 12:21-25.

§ 1. Herod Agrippa left two daughters, who are mentioned in Acts, namely, Bernice and Drusilla, and an only son, AGRIPPA II. (See Herod’s family table in note on Matthew 2:1.) Bernice married her uncle Herod of Chalcis; and, on account of Agrippa’s extreme youth, the kingdom of his father was reduced to a province under procurators, subordinate to the Prefect of Syria resident at Antioch, while the treasury of the temple and the appointment of the high priests were intrusted to King Herod of Chalcis. The boy Agrippa was kept at the Roman court as the favourite of the Emperor Claudius.

CUSPIUS FADUS (A.D. 44) was the first and one of the wisest of the procurators, under whose administration the robber bands infesting the country were repressed and public peace secured.

TIBERIUS ALEXANDER, an apostate from Judaism to paganism, succeeded A.D. 46. During the four years of these two procurators occurred the great famine foretold by Agabus, (xi, 27.)

§ 2. VENTIDIUS CUMANUS, the third procurator, (A.D. 49,) ruled with a rashness that filled the province with commotion and bloodshed.

Soon after his accession Herod, king of Chalcis, died, and young Agrippa II., though still remaining at Rome, succeeded to his crown, and to his control over the temple treasury and the high priesthood. Bernice, wife of this Herod and sister to Agrippa, returned to Rome; and such was the relation there between the brother and sister that the Roman poet Juvenal satirized them an incestuous barbarians.

During Cumanus’ rule some Galileans, in passing through Samaria to the Passover at Jerusalem, were assaulted by the Samaritans, and a number slain. The Jews forthwith appealed to Cumanus, who, bribed by the Samaritans, refused all justice. The indignant Jewish people resorted to arms, in which they were countenanced by the high priest, Ananias. Cumanus met a large body of the insurgents, and Roman discipline obtained an easy victory. Cumanus sent an exciting account of the rebellion to the Emperor Claudius; and it was in consequence of this that the frightened Claudius decreed the banishment of the Jews from Rome mentioned by Luke.

Meantime the Prefect of Syria, Quadratus, at Antioch, thought it due time for himself to interpose. Upon examination he found Cumanus guilty of bribery and Ananias guilty of rebellion, and sent them both to Rome, the latter in chains, for trial before the emperor. The eloquent Jewish Jonathan went to defend the case of his nation. And now there appears upon the stage a person with whom Paul came in important contact.

§ 3. Pallas and Felix (the latter subsequently procurator) were two Greek slaves imported by Antonia, mother of Claudius, probably from Arcadia. Their manners and talents won her confidence, and they both became favourite courtiers. When the emperor’s wife was executed, Pallas was so fortunate as to advocate the claims of Agrippina (Nero’s mother) to succeed her. Agrippina became empress, and Pallas and Felix were all-powerful. Through young King Agrippa a compact was formed, by which Jonathan should petition the Jewish nation that Felix might be appointed procurator, and Pallas and Felix, combined with Agrippa and Agrippina, should secure the Emperor’s decision in favour of Ananias and the Jews against Cumanus and the Samaritans. They gained the case, and it is probable that Jonathan was appointed to the high priesthood vacated by Ananias.

FELIX now became procurator, (A.D. 51,) and, though Tacitus tells us that “he ruled with the cruelty and lust of a despot and the meanness of a slave,” his administration, at first, had its merits. He destroyed the robber bands, and gave so much peace and prosperity to the country that Tertullus (see note on Acts 24:2) was not wholly a false flatterer.

Two years after Felix’s appointment Agrippa II., now aged twenty-six, left Rome, having been transferred from Chalcis to the former tetrarchy of Philip, comprising Trachonitis, Gaulonitis, Batanea, Iturea, and Abilene.

He fixed his court at Cesarea Philippi, (Matthew 16:13;) but he also had an ancestral palace at Jerusalem. Thither he made frequent visits, and at one of them heard the celebrated defence of Paul. Bernice accompanied him to Palestine with unimproved reputation. (See note on Acts 25:23.) She then in order to terminate the scandal, married Polemo, king of Cilicia, on condition that he would be circumcised, but afterward deserted him. Bernice some years later won the heart of the Emperor Titus, became the inmate of the palace, and would have become his wife but for the opposition of the Roman public, which compelled the emperor to dismiss her.

Drusilla, the other sister of Agrippa above mentioned, married Asisus, king of Emesa; but as both of these attractive ladies often accompanied Agrippa to Rome, Felix became enamoured with Drusilla. By the arts, it is said, of a second Simon Magus, (see note on Acts 8:24,) who was employed for the purpose by Felix, she was induced to desert the king and marry the procurator. Agrippa and Felix were, therefore, brothers-in-law.

§ 4. When Paul arrived at Rome, in A.D. 58, Felix had been six or seven years in office. Claudius had died, NERO was emperor, (see notes on Acts 9:31, and Acts 19:10,) and Agrippa was in royal favour. Jonathan, who had procured the appointment of Felix, had so often and so boldly presumed to rebuke him, that the procurator employed an assassin to murder him at Jerusalem with a poinard concealed under his vestments.

From the Latin name of the poniard used, sica, the word sicarii became the term for a class of assassins who subsequently became fearfully multitudinous. They entered the most sacred places, and so skilfully committed their murders in the crowd that detection was impossible. The high priesthood, now vacated by the assassination of Jonathan, was for a long time vacant, and Ananias, as named in Acts xxii, was perhaps no genuine high priest. This lengthened vacancy arose from the fact that Agrippa, who had the appointing power, was absent, by Nero’s order, in a distant war.

§5. Shortly before Paul’s arrival occurred the overthrow of the Egyptian false prophet mentioned in Acts 21. Though a native of Egypt, he was probably a Jew lately landed in Judea. Announcing himself as the messenger of God to restore the kingdom of Israel, he drew four thousand followers into the Judean wilderness. His soldiers so increased that he took possession of the Mount of Olives with a force of thirty thousand to put down the Roman power. Felix bravely attacked him with horse and foot, aided by the Jerusalemites, who detested the impostor, slew four hundred insurgents, captured others, and routed the whole. The Egyptian escaped; but the whole city was in search of him, and Lysias was in hopes that he was caught in the person of Paul. (Acts 21:38.)


Verse 18

V. PAUL IN COUNCIL WITH JAMES—ARREST—SENT TO CESAREA, Acts 21:18 to Acts 23:35.

1. Paul, James, and Elders, Acts 21:18-25.

18. Went in with us—As principal with his followers. This is a formal and fully appointed assemblage on both sides.

James—Our readers may trace him through our notes on Matthew 10:3; John 7:3; Acts 1:14-15 entire. A fuller portraiture of his remarkable character we hope to furnish introductory to the Epistle of James. No contemporaneous proof whatever exists that he was ever ordained to an official order above the eldership. If, however, there was any man living at this primitive day who could claim to be a pope, a universal pontiff and bishop of the Christian Church, it was this brother of Christ, this spiritual potentate to whom the embassy and the tribute are paid, this prince of the house of David in David’s ancient capital.

Elders were present—As Paul is attended by his full suite, so the presbytery of James receive them in full session. The two bodies, therefore, meet, headed by the two illustrious personages whom, perhaps, the unanimous vote of each of the two great sections of the Church, the Judaic and Gentilic, would have recognised as the representative men. The great question of the Church of that age is before them as stated in notes on Acts 10:1; Acts 11:19 and Acts 15:6.


Verse 19

19. He… saluted… declared—It was seven years before this that young Paul, as second to Barnabas, yet fresh in his unproved apostolate, had appeared at the Jerusalem Council to discuss the same question. He had now grown in years, in labours, and achievements, and in a widespread and singular renown. Where were the twelve? Save Peter, little is heard of their labours or names. But this Christian hero, now grown a veteran, comes, relating his own wonderful history, pointing to the monuments of his success, yet meekly bearing a peace-offering in his hand.


Verse 20

20. Glorified the Lord—With James and the eldership the question is clear and settled. How can they presume to set a repressing foot upon this magnificent outspread of Christianity over the Gentile world?

How many thousands—It was Pentecost, a Christian as well as a Jewish anniversary, and the assembled Christian attendants from Judea, Galilee, and Samaria were doubtless present. The Greek word for thousands is in the original myriads or tens of thousands. Yet its ordinary use is that of an indefinite, but large number. The word is so used in 1 Corinthians 4:15; 1 Corinthians 14:19. (See note on Luke 12:1.)

Zealous—Greek, zealots. A word at that day appplied to the most fanatical section of Jews, whose rebellion brought about the destruction of Jerusalem. It is here applied to the ultra Jewish Christians, and, perhaps, somewhat disapprovingly. James and the elders fully recognised Paul. But the less informed masses suspected him, and we are now to have a final proposition for conciliating them.


Verse 22

22. What—What is, therefore, the true course before us?

The multitude… together—This clause is, without due reason, rejected by some critics from the text. The intelligence of Paul’s arrival, it means, will collect together a body of the believers inquisitive about Paul, and discussing adversely his views and character.


Verse 23

23. We say—It is the body of the elders who give this advice, James doubtless concurring, and being perhaps spokesman.

We have—This implies that the four Nazarites belong to the Christian body.


Verse 24

24. Them take—The elders here advise Paul to adopt the expedient of Herod Agrippa, who had not long since, in order to give a public attestation of his Judaism, when he came to Jerusalem from Rome, laid out a considerable sum in defraying the expense of absolving several Nazarites of their vow. Paul had himself lately finished a vow at Cenchrea by the cutting of his hair, but probably without any Jewish ablutions or expressive sacrifices. (For the vow of a Nazarite, see Numbers 6:1-21.)

Shave— Or shear or cut the hair. The wearing long hair was a part of the vow; the cutting the hair was its termination. Paul consented to this proposal, with the hope that it would give him the very object of his visit, access to the ears of these Judaic Christians fully to explain his course, and bring them also to the true position. How glorious a prospect did it open of so bringing the Christianity of Jerusalem into harmony with his own expanded views, and thus put a stop at the fountain head to the Judaizing schism by which he was perpetually assailed and Christianity endangered! What a blessed harmony would be attained! But for the interference, as we soon shall see, of the Antichristian Jews, this would have doubtless been the result.


Verse 25

25. We have written—The elders here refer to the decree of the Jerusalem Council, (Acts 15:28-29,) in order to show that not even this compliance would be necessary for Paul’s Gentile attendants, or for any other Gentiles.


Verse 26

2. Paul’s ArrestRescue by Romans, Acts 21:26-40.

26. Then Paul—One of the most momentous turning points of Paul’s life has now arrived. He is to become for years an apostle in bonds. He now marches as a victim to the scene of his arrest.

Paul enters, doubtless through Solomon’s portico, on the east, into the court of the Gentiles; and, within finds himself walking on a beautiful pavement of variegated stone. He next passes, ascending, as up a terrace, through the Beautiful Gate into the court of the women, where are rooms for the ceremony of release from a Nazarite vow. Here Paul, with his four, is to signify, or announce to the priests there waiting, the accomplishment (now to be accomplished in a period of seven days) of the purification.


Verse 27

27. The seven days—During this period Paul either stays in the temple or daily visits it; probably the latter, as he in seen meantime walking the streets with Trophimus, Acts 21:29.

Of Asia—And especially of Ephesus, (Acts 21:29,) where for three years Paul had thinned the synagogue, and depreciated the commerce of the great temple. Gentiles had endeavoured then to destroy Paul in their theatre; Jews have him now in the temple.


Verse 28

28. Men of Israel—A popular patriotic war cry.

Brought Greeks—(See note on John 2:14.) To the inscription upon the wall of this court Titus, the Roman destroyer of Jerusalem, once made a most indignant reference: Have ye not, O ye accursed, by our permission put up this partition wall before your sanctuary? Have not you been allowed to put up the pillars thereto belonging at due distances, and on it to engrave in Greek, and in your own letters, this prohibition, that no foreigner should go beyond that wall? Have we not given you leave to kill such as go beyond it, though he were a Roman?”—Wars, Acts 4:2; Acts 4:4.


Verse 29

29. Trophimus—(See note on Acts 20:4.)


Verse 30

30. All… moved—That four Gentiles, led by a noted renegade, should be committing the capital crime of entering the holy precinct, was enough to startle all Jerusalem. A general rush is made at the outcry, and a mob pours into the immense court to seize and destroy the profane intruders.

Drew him out of the temple—From the women’s court into the court of the Gentiles.

Doors were shut—The folds of the Gate Beautiful, being of solid Corinthian brass, opening from the women’s court to the court of the Gentiles. Of this gate Josephus relates the following supernatural event as occurring shortly before the destruction of the city: “Moreover, the eastern gate of the inner, (court of the temple,) which was of brass, and vastly heavy, and had been with difficulty shut by twenty men, and which rested upon a basis armed with iron, and had bolts fastened very deep into the firm floor, which was there made of one entire stone, was seen to be opened of its own accord about the sixth hour of the night. Now those that kept watch in the temple came hereupon running to the captain of the temple, and told him of it, who then came up thither, and not without great difficulty was able to shut the gate again. This also appeared to the vulgar to be a very happy prodigy as if God did thereby open them the gate of happiness. But the men of learning understood it: that the security of their holy house was dissolved of its own accord, and that the gate was opened for the advantage of their enemies.” The gate is now witnessing one sin, or rather one part of the great sin for which that predicted ruin was sent, the rejection of the Gospel of Christ. The door was closed at this moment to shut out the tumult and prevent bloodshed in the holier place. (See note on Acts 4:1-2.)


Verse 31

31. Went about to kill him—Were seeking to kill him; that is, dragging him to a place where bloodshed was permissible, and beating him. The surprise of some commentators that the Christians did not come to the rescue of Paul is absurd. Nothing could have been more rash than thus to have drawn on their own heads the vengeance of the Jewish government and people.

Tidings came unto—The commotion would be visible to the Roman sentries stationed on the cloisters at the Fort Antonia, and report would be instantly made to the commander. (See note on Matthew 21:12.)

Chief captain of the band—The χιλιαρχος, chiliarch, or commander of a thousand men, nearly equivalent to our colonel. Forthwith a large share of his force (which in full would consist of a thousand soldiers led by ten centurions) is upon the mob in the court of the Gentiles near the gate.


Verse 32

32. Left beating—The sight of the approaching military, even before its arrival, checks the violence of the mob. Wonderfully swift of wing is the Roman eagle lighting down upon his prey!


Verse 33

33. Two chains—(See note on Acts 12:6.)


Verse 34

34. Cried one thing—It was difficult for the mob to make out a charge against the prisoner which would be intelligible to the Roman. If a Greek had entered into the holy place he was liable to death; but Paul was notoriously a Jew; nor was there any Greek to be found on the spot. The incoherent maledictions flung out upon Paul would therefore simply perplex the chiliarch.

Castle—Literally, the pretorium, or camp; probably the barracks of the soldiers within the court of the castle Antonia. These barracks, or soldiers’ lodgings were in the interior area enclosed by the wall of the castle, and afforded rooms for at least a thousand men, kept as guard over the temple grounds. But the “whole cohort,” (Matthew 27:27,) was probably kept in the “pretorium,” (of John 18:28,) in the western part of the city.

Paul was now taken in custody by the soldiers, and, with the chains fastened on his wrists, was led to the northwest corner of the Gentile court, where by a flight of stairs he would ascend to the gallery, and, entering the gate of the fort, would pass down into the barracks within its area.


Verse 35

35. Borne… of—In ascending the stairs leading from the Gentile court up into the tower of Antonia, (which stood against the northwest corner of the temple,) so rapid was the rush of the populace behind, and yet so prompt the exertion of the soldiers to rescue him, that Paul is seen by Luke (probably gazing on the scene) as lifted from his feet and carried upward in their hands! So did unconscious Gentilism on that day, in the hands of Providence, rapidly rescue her great apostle from Judaism and death.


Verse 36

36. Away with him—The apostle is rejected in the same fierce terms as was his Master by the same Jerusalem more than twenty years ago. (Luke 28:18; John 19:15.) Yet in the midst of this wild storm of human passions a Divine result is being worked out. Paul had foreseen that his mission was to go to Jerusalem, and after to see Rome. He has now been to Jerusalem, and he is yet to see Rome; yet not, as he had expected, at his own cost. The iron arm of the Roman power will take him, and at its own expense place him in Rome; but with sufferings and martyrdoms that shall enable him to be a pattern for the Church, to all ages, of heroism for Christ.


Verse 37

37. Thou speak Greek?—Paul, amid the storm, is the self-possessed master of his position. He avails himself, with undisturbed skill, of every advantage within reach, first to assuage the chiliarch, and then the people, in order to attain both safety for himself and triumph for the truth. The very dialect of the first words he utters wins the chiliarch.


Verse 38

38. Art not thou—The question, as put in the English translation, implies that an affirmative answer is expected. It should imply a negative answer. Thou art not, then, that Egyptian, as I supposed? (For this Egyptian, see our Hist. Revelation at Acts 21:17, § 5.)


Verse 39

39. A citizen—Implying a full possession of all the civil rights of a great free city.

No mean city—The metropolis of Cilicia, rich by commerce, and noted for its schools of philosophy. It was open by good roads, to the north by the Cilician Gates, and into Palestine by the Syrian Gates. The graceful Greek, the honourable origin, and the impressive manner of the apostle, are producing their effect upon the chiliarch. He doubts his first impression that a criminal or culprit is before him; and, by the very boldness of Paul’s request, put with the unconscious air of conscious power, he is inspired with the idea that the prisoner may be able to appease and sway the angry mob, and explain his own mysterious case.


Verse 40

40. On the stairs—From this precarious rostrum, with fetters upon both wrists, does this apostle make his, perhaps, last appeal to this people of Jerusalem. As he stands above their reach and beyond their power there is a pause, and the very beckon of his fettered hand secures a silence. He addresses them as a Hebrew in their ancestral dialect, the very syllables of which had a charm to subdue their unwilling ears. While he then talks as a Jew, he is allowed to talk as long as he will of Jesus; but his mouth is shut as soon as he utters the fatal word, Gentiles! Jesus, at any rate, was a Jew; and if, as those Jerusalem Nazarenes who attend the temple and keep the law declare, he is to come again and completely fulfil all prophecy, he may after all give supremacy to Israel. But for this renegade and traitor, who talks of giving the kingdom of God to the Gentiles, αιρε αυτον! Away with him!

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Acts 21:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/acts-21.html. 1874-1909.

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