Verse 30. "He-commanded-all their council to appear" - Instead of elqein, to come, which we translate, to appear, sunelqein, to assemble, or meet together, is the reading of ACE, nearly twenty others, the AEthiopic, Arabic, Vulgate, Chrysostom, and Theophylact: this reading Griesbach has received into the text; and it is most probably the true one: as the chief captain wished to know the certainty of the matter, he desired the Jewish council, or Sanhedrin, to assemble, and examine the business thoroughly, that he might know of what the apostle was accused; as the law would not permit him to proceed against a Roman in any judicial way, but on the clearest evidence; and, as he understood that the cause of their enmity was something that concerned their religion, he considered the Sanhedrin to be the most proper judge, and therefore commanded them to assemble; and there is no doubt that he himself, and a sufficient number of soldiers, took care to attend, as the person of Paul could not be safe in the hands of persons so prejudiced, unprincipled, and enraged.
This chapter should end with the twenty-ninth verse, and the following should begin with the thirtieth; this is the most natural division, and is followed by some of the most correct editions of the original text.
1. IN his address to the council, Paul asserts that he is a Jew, born of and among Jews; and that he had a regular Jewish education; and he takes care to observe that he had early imbibed all the prejudices peculiar to his countrymen, and had given the fullest proof of this in his persecution of the Christians. Thus, his assertions, concerning the unprofitableness of the legal ceremonies, could neither be attributed to ignorance nor indifference.
Had a Gentile, no matter how learned or eminent, taught thus, his whole teaching would have been attributed to ignorance, prejudice, and envy.
God, therefore, in his endless mercy, made use of a most eminent, learned, and bigoted Jew, to demonstrate the nullity of the whole Jewish system, and show the necessity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
2. At the close of this chapter, Dr. Dodd has the following judicious remark:-"As unrighteous as it was in the Roman officer, on this popular clamour, to attempt putting this holy apostle to the torture, so reasonable was St. Paul's plea, as a Roman citizen, to decline that suffering. It is a prudence worthy the imitation of the bravest of men, not to throw themselves into unnecessary difficulties. True courage widely differs from rash and heedless temerity; nor are we under any obligation, as Christians, to give up our civil privileges, which ought to be esteemed as the gifts of God, to every insolent and turbulent invader. In a thousand circumstances, gratitude to God, and duty to men, will oblige us to insist upon them; and a generous concern for those who may come after us should engage us to labour to transmit them to posterity improved rather than impaired." This should be an article in the creed of every genuine Briton.