LABOR AMONG THE
FORTH BY THE
The first seven chapters of this book might be entitled, The Church
among the Jews; the next five (chapters eight through twelve),
The Church in Transition from Jews to Gentiles; and the last
sixteen (chapters thirteen through twenty-eight), The Church among
the Gentiles [BAUMGARTEN]. "Though
Christianity had already spread beyond the limits of Palestine, still
the Church continued a stranger to formal missionary effort.
Casual occurrences, particularly the persecution at Jerusalem
had hitherto brought about the diffusion of the Gospel. It was from
Antioch that teachers were first sent forth with the definite purpose of
spreading Christianity, and organizing churches, with regular
1. there were . . . certain prophets--(See on
and teachers; as Barnabas, &c.--implying that there were others there,
besides; but, according to what appears the true reading, the meaning is
simply that those here mentioned were in the Church at Antioch as
prophets and teachers.
Simeon . . . Niger--of whom nothing is known.
Lucius of Cyrene--
He is mentioned, in
as one of Paul's kinsmen.
Manaen--or Menahem, the name of one of the kings of Israel
which had been brought up with--or, the foster brother of.
Herod the tetrarch--that is, Antipas, who was himself "brought
up with a certain private person at Rome" [JOSEPHUS, Antiquities, 17.1,3]. How differently
did these two foster brothers turn out--the one, abandoned to a
licentious life and stained with the blood of the most distinguished of
God's prophets, though not without his fits of reformation and seasons
of remorse; the other, a devoted disciple of the Lord Jesus and prophet
of the Church at Antioch! But this is only what may be seen in every
age: "Even so, Father, for so it seemeth good in Thy sight.' If the
courtier, whose son, at the point of death, was healed by our Lord
was of Herod's establishment, while Susanna's husband was his steward
his foster brother's becoming a Christian and a prophet is something
and Saul--last of all, but soon to become first. Henceforward this
book is almost exclusively occupied with him; and his impress on the New
Testament, on Christendom, and on the world is paramount.
2. As they ministered to the Lord--The word denotes the performance of
official duties of any kind, and was used to express the priestly
functions under the Old Testament. Here it signifies the corresponding
ministrations of the Christian Church.
and fasted--As this was done in other cases on special occasions
(Ac 13:3, 14, 23),
it is not improbable that they had been led to expect some such
prophetic announcement at this time.
the Holy Ghost said--through some of the prophets mentioned in
for the work whereunto I have called them--by some communication,
perhaps, to themselves: in the case of Saul at least, such a designation
was indicated from the first
Note.--While the personality of the Holy Ghost is
manifest from this language, His supreme divinity will appear
equally so by comparing it with
3. laid their hands on them--(See on
--"recommending them to the grace of God for the work which they had to
sent them away--with the double call--of the Spirit first, and next
of the Church. So clothed, their mission is thus described: "They being
sent forth by the Holy Ghost." Have we not here for all time the true
principle of appointment to sacred offices?
PREACH IN THE
BLIND, AND THE
GOVERNOR OF THE
4, 5. departed unto Seleucia--the seaport of Antioch, from which it
lay nearly due west fifteen miles, and five from the Mediterranean
shore, on the river Orontes.
thence sailed to Cyprus--whose highmountain summits are easily
seen in clearweather from the coast [COLONEL
reasons may have induced them to turn in first to this island: (1) Its
nearness to the mainland; (2) It was the native place of Barnabas, and
since the time when Andrew found his brother Simon, and brought him to
Jesus, and "Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus," familyties had not been without effect on the progress of the Gospel. (3) It
could not be unnatural to suppose that the truth would be welcomed in
Cyprus when brought by Barnabas and his kinsman Mark, to their own
connections or friends. The Jews were numerous in Salamis. By sailing
to that city, they were following the track of the synagogues; and
though their mission was chiefly to the Gentiles, their surest course
for reaching them was through the proselytes and Hellenizing Jews. (4)
Some of the Cypriotes were already Christians. Indeed, no one place
out of Palestine, except Antioch, had been so honorably associated with
the work of successful evangelization" [HOWSON].
5. and when they were at Salamis--the Grecian capital of the island,
on the eastern side, and not many hours' sail from Seleucia. At this
busy mercantile port immense numbers of Jews were settled, which
accounts for what is here said, that they had more than one synagogue,
in which Barnabas and Saul preached, while other cities had one only.
they had . . . John--Mark.
to their minister--"for their officer". (See on
With what fruit they preached here is not said. Probably their feeling
was what Paul afterwards expressed at Antioch in Pisidia
6. when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos--on the opposite or
west side of the island, about one hundred miles by land, along the
south coast; the Roman capital, where the governor resided.
they found a . . . sorcerer--one of a numerous class of impostors who,
at this time of general unbelief, were encouraged even by cultivated
7. Which was with the deputy--properly, "the proconsul." This name
was reserved for the governors of settled provinces, which were placed
under the Roman Senate, and is never given in the New Testament to
Pilate, Felix, or Festus, who were but procurators, or subordinate
administrators of unsettled, imperial, military provinces. Now as
Augustus reserved Cyprus for himself, its governor would in that case
have been not a proconsul, but simply a procurator, had not the emperor
afterwards restored it to the Senate, as a Roman historian [DIO
expressly states. In most striking confirmation of this minute accuracy
of the sacred historian, coins have actually been found in the island,
stamped with the names of proconsuls, both in Greek and
Numismatic Illustrations of the New Testament].
BENGEL, not aware of this, have missed the mark here).
Sergius Paulus, a prudent man--an intelligent man, who thirsting for
truth, sent for Barnabas and Saul, desiring ("earnestly desiring") to
hear the Word of God.
8-12. But Elymas--or "the wise."
for so is his name by interpretation--the word is from the Arabic. -
withstood them--perceiving, probably, how eagerly the proconsul was
drinking in the word, and fearing a dismissal. (Compare
9. Then Saul . . . also . . . called Paul--and henceforward Paul only;
a softening of his former name, in accommodation to Roman ears, and (as
the word signifies "little") probably with allusion as elsewhere to his
insignificance of stature and appearance
(2Co 10:1, 10)
filled with the Holy Ghost--the Spirit coming mightily upon him.
set his eyes on him and said--Henceforward Barnabas sinks into the
background. The whole soul of his great colleague, now drawn out, as
never before, shoots, by the lightning gaze of his eye, through the dark
and tortuous spirit of the sorcerer. What a picture!
10. full of all subtlety--referring to his magicarts.
and all malice--The word signifies "readiness for anything," knavish
thou child of the devil . . . enemy of all righteousness--These were
not words of passion, for immediately before uttering them, it is said
he was "filled with the Holy Ghost" [CHRYSOSTOM].
wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord--referring
to his having to that hour made a trade of leading his fellow creatures
11. the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind for a
season--the judgment being mercifully designed to lead him to
repentance. The tradition that it did is hardly to be depended on.
there fell on him a mist, &c.--This is in Luke's medical style.
12. Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being
astonished at the doctrine of the Lord--so marvellously attested;
What fruit, if any, followed this remarkable conversion, or how long
after it the missionaries remained at Paphos, we know not.
13. they came to Perga in Pamphylia--The distance from Paphos to
Attalia, on the Gulf of Pamphylia (see on
sailing in a northwest direction, is not much greater than from
Seleucia to Salamis on the east. Perga was the metropolis of Pamphylia,
on the river Cestrus, and about seven miles inland from Attalia.
and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem--As Paul afterwards
peremptorily refused to take Mark with him on his second missionary
journey, because he "had departed [or 'fallen off'] from them and had
not gone with them to the work"
there can be no doubt that he had either wearied of it or been deterred
by the prospect of the dangers which lay before him. (But see on
14. departed from Perga--apparently without making any stay or doing
any work: compare the different language of
and see immediately below.
came to Antioch in Pisidia--usually so called, to distinguish it
from Antioch in Syria, from which they had started, though it actually
lies in Phrygia, and almost due north from Perga. It was a long journey,
and as it lay almost entirely through rugged mountain passes, while
"rivers burst out at the base of huge cliffs, or dash down wildly
through narrow ravines," it must have been a perilous one. The whole
region was, and to this day is, infested by robbers, as ancient history
and modern travels abundantly attest; and there can be but little doubt
that to this very journey Paul many years after alludes, when he speaks
amidst his "journeyings often," of his "perils of rivers"
(as the word is),
and his "perils of robbers"
If this journey were taken in May--and earlier than that the passes
would have been blocked up with snow--it would account for their not
staying at Perga, whose hot streets are then deserted; "men, women, and
children, flocks, herds, camels, and asses, all ascending at the
beginning of the hot season from the plains to the cool basin-like
hollows on the mountains, moving in the same direction with our
15-17. Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand--as was his
manner on such occasions
Men of Israel, and ye that fear God--by the latter expression meaning
religious proselytes, who united with the Jews in all acts of ordinary
and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in Egypt--by
marvellous interpositions for them in their deepest depression.
18-22. forty years suffered he their manners--rather, according to what
appears the true reading, "cherished he them" (as a nurse the infant in
20. after that he gave . . . judges . . . about
the space of four hundred and fifty years--As this appears to
various solutions have been proposed. Taking the words as t