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St. Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen

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St. Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen
St. Paul the Traveller and the
Roman Citizen
BY
W.M. RAMSAY, D.C.L., LL.D.
PROFESSOR OF THE HUMANITY, ABERDEEN
ORD. MITGLIED D. KAIS. DEUTSCH. ARCH˜OLOG. GESELLSCH. 1884
HON. MEMBER, ATHENIAN ARCH˘OLOG. SOC., 1895; FORMERLY PROFESSOR OF
CLASSICAL ARCH˘OLOGY AND FELLOW OF EXETER AND OF LINCOLN COLLEGE,
OXFORD LEVERING LECTURER IN JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY, 1894
TENTH EDITION
HODDER AND STOUGHTON
LONDON MCMVII
To
ANDREW MITCHELL, Esq.,
THE WALK HOUSE, ALLOA
My Dear Uncle,
In my undergraduate days, a residence in Gttingen during the Long Vacation of 1874
was a critical point in my life. Then for the first time, under the tuition of Professor THEODORE
BENFEY, I came into close relations with a great scholar of the modern type, and gained some
insight into modern methods of literary investigation; and my thoughts have ever since turned
towards the border lands between European and Asiatic civilisation. That visit, like many other
things, I owe to you; and now I send you the result, such as it is, the best that I can do, asking
that you will allow it to go forth with your name attached to it.
I remain always, your affectionate nephew,
WILLIAM MITCHELL RAMSAY.
King’s college, Aberdeen,
17th September, 1895
PREFACE
WHEN I was honoured by the invitation of Auburn Theological Seminary, I referred the
matter to my friends, Dr. Fairbairn and Dr. Sanday, who knew what were my circumstances and
other duties. On their advice the invitation was accepted; and it included the condition that the
lectures must be published. In revising the printed sheets I have felt strongly the imperfections of
the exposition; but I can feel no doubt about the facts themselves, which seem to stand out so
clear and distance, that one has only to look and write. Hence I have not withdrawn from any of
the positions maintained in my Church in the Roman Empire before 170 (apart from incidental
imperfections). The present work is founded on the results for which evidence is there
accumulated; but, in place of its neutral tone, a definite theory about the composition of Acts is
here maintained (see p.383 f.). Many references were made, at first, to pages of that work, and of
my Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia (1895), where views here assumed were explained and
defended; but they had an egotistic appearance, and , on the advice of a valued friend, have been
cut out from the proof-sheets.
I use in Acts the canons of interpretation which I have learned from many teachers
(beyond all others from Mommsen) to apply to history; and I have looked at Paul and Luke as
men among men. My aim has been to state the facts of Paul’s life simply, avoiding argument and
controversy so far as was possible in a subject where every point is controverted. I have
sometimes thought of a supplementary volume of Elucidations of Early Christian History, in
which reasons should be stated more fully.
It is impossible to find anything to say about Acts that has not been said before by
somebody. Doubtless almost everything I have to say might be supported by some quotation. But
if a history of opinion about Acts had been desired, I should not have been applied to. Where I
was conscious of having learned any special point from any special scholar I have mentioned his
name; but that, of course does not exhaust half my debt. The interpretation of one of the great
ancient authors is a long slow growth; one is not conscious where he learned most of his ideas;
and, if he were, their genesis is a matter of no interest or value to others. Not merely the writers
quoted, but also Schurer, Meyer-Wendt, Zckler, Holtzmann, Clemen, Spitta, Zeller, Everett,
Paley, Page, and many others, have taught me; and I thankfully acknowledge my debt. But
specially Lightfoot, Lewin’s Fatsi Sacri, and the two greatest editors of Acts, Wetstein and Blass,
have been constant companions.
Discussions with my wife, and with my friends, Professor W. P. Paterson, Rev. A. F.
Findlay, and above all, Prof. Rendel Harris, have cleared my ideas on many points, beyond what
can be distinctly specified. The book has been greatly improved by criticisms from Prof. Rendel
Harris, and by many notes and suggestions from Rev. A. C. Headlam, which were of great value
to me. Mr A. Souter, Caius College, Cambridge, has aided me in many ways, and especially by
compiling Index I. But it would be vain to try to enumerate all my obligations to many friends.
I wish to mention two facts about the genesis of my studies in this subject: (1) Dr.
Fairbairn proposed to me the subject of "St. Paul as a Citizen"long ago; and I long shrank from it
as too great and too difficult; (2) Dr. Robertson Nicoll (mindful of early acquaintance in
Aberdeen) urged me in 1884 to write, and gave me no peace, until I published a first article
,Expositor, Oct., 1888.
An apology is due for the variations, often harsh, from the familiar translation of Acts;
but a little insertion or change often saved a paragraph.
Lectures which I had the honour to give before the Harvard University, Johns Hopkins
University (the Levering Lectures), and Union Seminary, New York, are worked up in this
volume.
ABERDEEN, 23rd September, 1895
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION
THERE are many sentences and paragraphs which I should have liked to rewrite, had it
been possible, not in order to alter the views expressed, but to improve the inadequate
expression.
In the new edition, however, it was not possible to introduce any alterations affecting the
arrangement of the printed lines; but some corrections and improvements have been made
through the aid of valued correspondents and critics, especially Rev. F. Warburton Lewis, Rev.
G. W. Whitaker, and the Athenaeum reviewer. Slight, but not insignificant verbal changes have
been made in p. 18, 1. 8, 10, 11; 19, 1. 10; 27, 1. 14; 34, 1. 8; 62, 1. 15; 98, 1. 16; 1455, 1. 5; 146,
1. 6-7; 211, 1. 11; 224, 1. 6; 227, 1. 3; 242, 1. 31; 263, 1. 12; 276, 1. 27; 282, 1. 1(footnote
deleted); 307 n. 2 (Matt. XXVII 24, added); 330 1. 13-14; 363, 1. 5. The punctuation has been
improved in p. 28, 1. 19, 21; and anobscure paragraph p. 160, 1. 10-17 has been rewritten.
Besides correcting p. 141, 1. 9, I must apologise for having there mentioned Dr. Chase
incorrectly. I intended to cut out his name from the proof, but left it by accident, while hesitating
between two corrections; and I did not know that it remained on that page, till he wrote me on the
subject. On p. 27, 1. 14, I quoted his opinion about the solitary point on which we seem to agree;
but, as he writes that my expression "makes him responsible for what he has never maintained,"I
have deleted the offending words. He adds, "may I very earnestly ask, if your work reaches a
second edition, that, if you refer to me, you will give in some conspicuous place a reference to
my papers in the Expositor, that those interested in the subject may have the chance of seeing
what I have really said."See "The Galatia of the Acts,"Expositor, Dec., 1893, and May, 1894 the
title shows deficient geographical accuracy on the part of my distinguished opponent, for Luke
never mentions "Galatia,"but only "the Galatic Territory,"and there lies one of the fine points of
the problem. After finishing the Church in the Roman Empire before 170, I had no thought of
troubling the world with anything further on this subject; but Dr. Chase’s criticism roused me to
renewed work, and then came the Auburn invitation. With the Galatian question the date and
authorship of Acts are bound up: the more I study, the more clearly I see that it is impossible to
reconcile the "North-Galatian theory"with the first-century origin and Lukan authorship of Acts:
that theory involves so many incongruities and inconsistencies, as to force a cool intellect to the
view that Acts is not a trustworthy contemporary authority. But, on the "South-Galatian
theory,"the book opens to us a fresh chapter in the history and geography of Asia Minor during
the first century.
The form of Index II was suggested, and the details were collected in great part by Rev.
F. Warburton Lewis (formerly of Mansfield College), and Indices III and IV were compiled,
amid the pressure of his own onerous duties, by Rev. F. Wilfrid Osborn, Vice-Principal of the
Episcopal College, Edin burgh; and my warmest gratitude is due for their voluntary and valuable
help.
I add notes on some contested points.
1. Reading the Agricola berfore a college class in 1893-4, I drew a parallel between its
method and that of Luke in respect of careful attention to order of events, and inattention to the
stating of the lapse of time; but in each case knowledge acquired from other sources, and
attention to the author’s order and method, enable us to fix the chronology with great accuracy;
on p. 18 my lecture on this topic is summarized in a sentence.
2. The chronology established in this book is confirmed by the statement in an oration
falsely ascribed to Chrysostom (Vol. VIII, p. 621, Paris, 1836), that Paul served God thirty-five
years and died at the age of sixty-eight. As there can be little doubt that his martyrdom took place
about A. D. 67 this fourth century authority (which bears the stamp of truth in its matter-of fact
simplicity) proves that he was converted in 33 A. D., as wee have deduced from the statements of
Luke and Paul (p. 376, and my article in Expositor, May, 1896). If Paul died in the year
beginning 23rd Sept., 67, his birth was in 1 A.D. (before 23rd Sept.). Now he evidently began
public life after the Crucifixion, but before the death of Stephen; and he would naturally come
before the public in the course of his thirtieth year; therefore his birth falls later than Passover
A.D. 1.
3. The punctuation of Gal. II 1-4, for which an argument was advanced in Expositor, July,
1895, p. 105 ff., is assumed in the free translation on p. 55. The view taken my me of Gal. II 1-14
is controverted by the high authority of Dr. Sanday in Expositor, Feb., 1896, and defended
March, 1896. Mr Vernon Bartlet informs me that Zhan dates Gal. II 11-14 between Acts XII 25
and XV 4 (as I do, p. 160), see Neue Kirchl. Zft., 1894, p. 435 f.
4. The phrase "the God"(p. 118, 1. 5) refers, of course to v. 15.
5. While grateful for the publication of such essays by Lightfoot as that quoted on p. 199,
I cannot hold that great scholar (of whose spirit in investigation I should be satisfied if I dared
hope to have caught a little) responsible for them in the same way as for works published by
himself. (1) His lectures were not written out, but in great part spoken, and the notes taken by
pupils are not a sufficient basis: a slight verbal change in the hurry of writing often seriously
modifies the force of a lecturer’s statement: moreover a speaker trusts to tone for many effects,
which it requires careful study to express in written words. (2) Even those parts which were
written out by himself, belong to an early stage in his career, and were not revised by himself in
his maturity. (3) A writer often materially improves his work n proof: I know that some changes
were made on the proofs even of the Ignatius, his maturest work. Hencethe reader finds pages in
Lightfoot’s finest style side by side with some paragraphs, which it is difficult to believe that he
expressed in this exact form, and impossible to believe that he would ever have allowed to go
forth in print. The analogy with Acts I-V (see below, p. 370) is striking.
6. It seems to me one of the strangest things that almost all interpreters reject the
interpretation which Erasmus’s clear sense perceived to be necessary in XVI 22 (p. 217). Some of
the many difficulties involved in the interpretation that the praetors rent the clothes of Paul and
Silas are exposed by Spitta, Apostelgesch., p. 218 f. To discuss the subject properly would need a
chapter. It is not impossible that the title "praetors"may have been even technically accurate; but
I have not ventured to go beyond the statement that it was at least employed in courtesy.
7. The short paragraph about the poitarchs should be transferred from p. 227 to p. 229, 1.
6 ff.
8. The fact that Paul’s friends were permitted free access to him in Rome and Caesareis
(Acts XXVIII 30 and XXIV 23) cannot be taken as a proof of what would be the case in a
convoy, which must have been governed with strict Roman discipline. The argument on P. 315 f.
is consistent with the supposition that Julius learned that the two attendants of Paul were friends
acting as slaves; but their presence in the convoy was legalized only under the guise of slavery.
9. My friend and former pupil, Mr. A. A. G. Wright, sends me a good note on p. 329,
confirming the interpretation (adopted from Smith) of calavsantes to; skeu’os from the practice of
the herring boats in the Moray Firth; these boats, fitted with a large lug-sail, are a good parallels
to the ancient sailing ships. In Paul’s ship the sailors "slackened the sail-tackle,"and thus lowered
the yard some way, leaving a low sail, which would exercise less leverage on the hull (p. 328).
ABERDEEN, 25th March, 1896
PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION
I AM partly glad, partly sorry, to have little change to make in this edition-glad, because
the words printed, however inadequate I feel them to be, have on the whole, stood the test of
further thought and growing knowledge-sorry, because so few of the faults which must exist
have revealed themselves to me. On p. 275 a change is made in an important detail. The
following notes are confirmatory of arguments in the text:1. The examination of the development of Christianity in Phrygia, contained in Chapters
XII and XVII of my Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia (Part II, 1897), shows that Christianity
spread with marvelous rapidity at the end of the first and in the second century after Christ in the
parts of Phrygia that lay along the road from Pisidian Antioch to Ephesus, and in the
neighborhood of Iconium, whereas it did not become powerful in those parts of Phrygia that
adjoined North Galatia till the fourth century. Further, in a paper printed in Studia Biblica IV, I
have pointed out that Christianity seems to have hardly begun to affect the district of North
Galatia which lies on the side of Phrygia until the fourth century. The first parts of North Galatia
to feel the influence was so strong as in some parts of Phrygia. These facts obviously are fatal to
the theory that St. Paul’s Galatian Churches were founded in the part of North Galatia adjoining
Phrygia.
2. On p. 43, 1. 1, it should be stated more clearly that Cornelius was a "Godfearing"proselyte.
3. On p. 46, 1. 12 ff., the limits are stated beyond which Paul’s work in the eight years
(not ten), 35-43, was not carried; and the rather incautious words on p. 46, 1. 10, do not imply
that he was engaged in continuous work of preaching during that time. It is probable that quiet
meditation and self-preparation filled considerable part of these years. The words of XI 26
(compare Luke II 24) suggest that he was in an obscure position, and Gal. I 23 perhaps describes
mere occasional rumors about a personage who was not at the time playing a prominent part as a
preacher, as the Rev. C. E. C. Lefroy points out to me in an interesting letter (which prompts this
note). But the facts, when looked at in this way, bring out even more strongly than my actual
words do, that (as is urged on p. 46) Paul was not yet "fully conscious of his mission direct to the
Nations, and that his work is rightly regarded in Acts as beginning in Antioch.
4. On p. 212, as an additional example of the use of the aorist participle, Rev. F. W.
Lewis quotes Heb. IX 12, eijsh’lqen ejfavpax eijs ta; a{fia, aijwnivan luvtrwsin eujravmenos,
"entered and obtained."I add from a Phrygian inscription quoted in my Cities and Bishroprics of
Phrygia, Part II, 1897, p.790a[stesi d j ejn polloi’sin ijqagenevwn lavce teima;s, levifas kai; kouvrous oujde;n
ajfaurotevrous,
"He was presented with the freedom of many cities, and left sons as good as himself."
5. P. 264. The safe passage of the Jewish pilgrims from the west and north sides of the
Aegean to Jerusalem was ensured by letters of many Roman officials, especially addressed to the
cities of Cos and Ephesus. It is obvious that these cities lay on the line of the pilgrims’voyage;
and as the pilgrims were the subject of so much correspondence they must have been numerous,
and pilgrim ships must have sailed regularly at the proper season.
6. P. 271. To illustrate the view that Paul used the School of Tyrannus in the forenoon
and no later, Mr. A. Souter quotes Augustine Confess., VI, 11,18, antemeridianis horis discipuli
occupant (of the School of Rhetoric at Milan), while the scholars were free in the afternoon, and
Augustine considers that those free hours ought to be devoted to religion.
7. I have changed p. 275, 1. 2 ff. The words of 2Cor. XII 14; XIII 1, would become,
certainly, more luminous and more full of meaning if there had occurred an unrecorded visit of
Paul to Corinth. The only time that is open for such a visit is (as Rev. F. W. Lewis suggests) after
he left Ephesus and went to Troas; and the balance of probability is that such a visit was made,
probably in March, 56 (as soon as the sailing season began), by ship from Philippi. The
paragraph, XX, 1-4, is confessedly obscure and badly expressed; and it is probable that, if the
book had been carried to its final stage by the author, both v. 4 would have been added between
vv. 1and 2.
8. P. 341. Mr. Emslie Smith, Aberdeen, sends me a valuable note, the result of personal
inspection of St. Paul’s Bay, in which he completely clears up the difficulty which I had to leave.
It will, I hope, form the subject of an early article in the Expositor.
9. P. 389, note 2. With the words of Eusebius compare the exactly parallel expression of
Aristides, Sebh’ros tw’n ajpo; th’s a[nwqen Frugivas (Vol. 1, p. 505, ed. Dind.), which means that
this Roman officer belonged to a Jewish family connected with Upper Phrygia (and also, as we
know from other sources, with Ancyra in Galatia), but certainly does not imply that he was
Phrygian by birth or training. It is practically certain that a Roman consul, with a career like that
of Severus, must, at the period when he flourisheed, have been educated nearer to Rome, and
probably in the metropolis. The scion of a Phrygian family, growing up amid Phrygian
surroundings in the early part of the second century, would not have been admitted to the Roman
senatorial career, as Severus was in his youth. His family, while retaining its Phrygian
connection, had settled amid strictly Roman surroundings; and its wealth and influence procured
for the heir immediate entry into the highest career open to a Roman. The quotation from
Aristides shows that the interpretation of Eusebius’s expression given on p. 389 is on the right
lines. The history of Severus’s family in Asia Minor is sketched in Cities and Bishoprics of
Phrygia, Pt. II, p. 649 f.
Chapter I. THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
1. TRUSTWORTHINESS. The aim of our work is to treat its subject as a department of
history and of literature. Christianity was not merely a religion, but also, a system of life and
action; and its introduction by Paul amid the society of the Roman Empire produced changes of
momentous consequence, which the historian must study. What does the student of Roman
history find in the subject of our investigation? How would an observant, educated, and
unprejudiced citizen of the Roman Empire have regarded that new social force, that new
philosophical system, if he had studied it with the eyes and the temper of a nineteenth century
investigator?
As a preliminary the historian of Rome must make up his mind about the trustworthiness
of the authorities. Those which we shall use are:(1) a work of history commonly entitled the Acts
of the Apostles (the title does not originate from the author), (2) certain Epistles purporting to be
written by Paul. Of the latter we make only slight and incidental use; and probably even those
who dispute their authenticity would admit that the facts we use are trustworthy, as being the
settled belief of the Church at a very early period. It is, therefore, unnecessary to touch on the
authenticity of the Epistles; but the question as to the date, the composition, and the author of the
Acts must be discussed. If the main position of this book is admitted, it will furnish a secure basis
for the Epistles to rest on.
Works that profess to be historical are of various kinds and trustworthy in varying
degrees. (1) There is the historical romance, which in a framework of history interweaves an
invented tale. Some of the Apocryphal tales of the Apostles are of this class, springing apparently
from a desire to provide Christian substitutes for the popular romances of the period. (2) There is
the legend, in which popular fancy, working for generations, has surrounded a real person and
real events with such a mass of extraneous matter that the historical kernel is hardly discernible.
Certain of the Apocryphal tales of the Apostles may belong to this class, and many of the Acta of
martyrs and saints certainly do. (3) There is the history of the second or third rate, in which the
writer, either using good authorities carelessly and without judgment, or not possessing
sufficiently detailed and correct authorities, gives a narrative of past events which is to a certain
degree trustworthy, but contains errors in facts and in the grouping and proportions, and tinges
the narrative of the past with the colour of his own time. In using works of this class the modern
student has to exercise his historical tact, comparing the narrative with any other evidence that
can be obtained from any source, and judging whether the action attributed to individuals is
compatible with the possibilities of human nature. (4) There is, finally, the historical work of the
highest order, in which a writer commands excellent means of knowledge either through personal
acquaintance or through access to original authorities. and brings to the treatment of his subject
genius, literary skill, and sympathetic historical insight into human character and the movement
of events. Such an author seizes the critical events, concentrates the reader’s attention on them by
giving them fuller treatment, touches more lightly and briefly on the less important events, omits
entirely a mass of unimportant details, and makes his work an artistic and idealised picture of the
progressive tendency of the period.
Great historians are the rarest of writers. By general consent the typical example of the
highest class of historians is Thucydides, and it is doubtful whether any other writer would be by
general consent ranked along with him. But all historians, from Thucydides downwards, must be
subjected to free criticism. The fire which consumes the second-rate historian only leaves the real
master brighter and stronger and more evidently supreme. The keenest criticism will do him the
best service in the long run. But the critic in his turn requires high qualities; he must be able to
distinguish the true from the false; he must be candid and unbiased and open-minded. There are
many critics who have at great length stated their preference of the false before the true; and it
may safely be said that there is no class of literary productions in our century in which there is
such an enormous preponderance of error and bad judgment as in that of historical criticism. To
some of our critics Herodotus is the Father of History, to others he is an inaccurate reproducer of
uneducated gossip: one writer at portentous length shows up the weakness of Thucydides,
another can see no fault in him.
But, while recognising the risk, and the probable condemnation that awaits the rash
attempt, I will venture to add one to the number of the critics, by stating in the following chapters
reasons for placing the author of Acts among the historians of the first rank.
The first and the essential quality of the great historian is truth. What he says must be
trustworthy. Now historical truth implies not merely truth in each detail, but also truth in the
general effect, and that kind of truth cannot be attained without selection, grouping, and
idealisation.
So far as one may judge from books, the opinion of scholars seems to have, on the whole,
settled down to the conclusion that the author of Acts belongs either to the second- or the thirdrate historians. Among those who assign him to the third rate we may rank all those who consider
that the author clipped up older documents and patched together the fragments in a more or less
intelligent way, making a certain number of errors in the process. Theories of this kind are quite
compatible with assigning a high degree of trustworthiness to many statements in the book; but
this trustworthiness belongs not to the author of the work, but to the older documents which he
glued together. Such theories usually assign varying degrees of accuracy to the different older
documents: all statements which suit the critic’s own views on early Church history are taken
from an original document of the highest character; those which he likes less belong to a less
trustworthy document; and those which are absolutely inconsistent with his views. are the work
of the ignorant botcher who constructed the book. But this way of judging, common as it is,
assumes the truth of the critic’s own theory, and decides on the authenticity of ancient documents
according to their agreement with that theory; and the strangest part of this medley of uncritical
method is that other writers, who dispute the first critic’s theory of early Church history, yet
attach some value to his opinion upon the spuriousness of .documents which he has condemned
solely on the ground that they disagree with histheory.
The most important group among those who assign the author to the second rank of
historians, consists of them that accept his facts as true, although his selection of what he should
say and what he should omit seems to them strangely capricious. They recognise many of the
signs of extraordinary accuracy in his statements; and these signs are so numerous that’they feel
bound to infer that the facts as a whole are stated with great accuracy by a personal friend of St.
Paul. But when they compare the Acts with such documents as the Epistles of Paul, and when
they study the history as a whole, they are strongly impressed with the inequalities of treatment,
and the unexpected and puzzling gaps; events of great importance seem to be dismissed in a brief
and unsatisfactory way; and, sometimes, when one of the actors (such as Paul) has left an
account of an event described in Acts , they find difficulty in recognising the two accounts as
descriptions of the same event. Bishop Lightfoot’s comparison of Gal. II 1-10with Acts XV=rAC
15:1may be quoted as a single specimen out of many: the elaborate process whereby he explains
away the seeming discrepancies would alone be sufficient, if it were right, to prove that Acts was
a second-rate work of history. We never feel on firm historical ground, when discrepancies are
cleverly explained away: we need agreements to stand upon. Witnesses in a law court may give
discrepant accounts of the same event; but they are half-educated, confused, unable to rise to
historical truth. But when a historian is compared with the reminiscences of an able and highly
educated actor in the same scenes, and when the comparison consists chiefly in a laboured proof
that the discrepancies do not amount to positive contradiction, the conclusion is very near, that, if
the reminiscences are strictly honest, the historian’s picture is not of the highest rank.
But there is a further difficulty. How does it come that a writer, who shows himself
distinctly second-rate in his historical perception of the comparative importance of events, is able
to attain such remarkable accuracy in describing many of them? The power of accurate
description implies in itself a power of reconstructing the past, which involves the most delicate
selection and grouping of details according to their truth and reality, i.e., according to their
comparative importance. Acts , as Lightfoot pictures it, is to me an inconceivable phenomenon;
such a mixture of strength and weakness, of historical insight and historical incapacity, would be
unique and incredible. If the choice for an intelligible theory of Acts lay between Lightfoot’s
view and that which is presented in different forms by Clemen, Spitta, and other scholars, I could
only adopt the same point of view as these critics. Lightfoot, with all his genius, has here led
English scholarship into a cul de sac: we can make no progress, unless we retrace our steps and
try a new path. But my belief is, that all the difficulties in which Lightfoot was involved spring
from the attempt to identify the wrong events. In this attempt he naturally found
discrepancies;but by a liberal allowance of gaps in the narrative of Acts , and the supposition of
different points of view and of deficient information on Luke’s part, it was possible to show why
the eye-witness saw one set of incidents, while Acts described-quite a different set.
The historian who is to give a brief history of a great period need not reproduce on a
reduced uniform scale all the facts which he would mention in a long history, like a picture
reduced by a photographic process. If a brief history is to be a work of true art, it must omit a
great deal, and concentrate the reader’s attention on a certain number of critical points in the
development of events, elaborating these sufficiently to present them in life-like and clearly
intelligible form. True historical genius lies in selecting the great crises, the great agents, and the
great movements, inmaking these clear to the reader in their real nature, in passing over with the
lightest and slightest touch numerous events and many persons, but always keeping clear before
the reader the plan of composition.
The historian may dismiss years with a word, and devote considerable space to a single
incident. In such a work, the omission of an event does not constitute a gap, but is merely a proof
that the event had not sufficient importance to enter into the plan. A gap is some omission that
offends our reason and our sense of harmony and propriety; and where something is omitted that
bears on the author’s plan, or where the plan as conceived by the author does not correspond to
the march of events, but only to some fanciful and subjective view, there the work fails short of
the level of history.
I may fairly claim to have entered on this investigation without any prejudice in favour of
the conclusion which I shall now attempt to justify to the reader. On the contrary, I began with a
mind unfavourable to it, for the ingenuity and apparent completeness of the Tubingen theory had
at one time quite convinced me. It did not lie then in my line of life to investigate the subject
minutely; but more recently I found myself often brought in contact with the book of Acts as an
authority for the topography, antiquities, and society of Asia Minor. It was gradually borne in
upon me that in various details the narrative showed marvellous truth. In fact, beginning with the
fixed idea that the work was essentially a second-century composition, and never relying on its
evidence as trustworthy for first-century conditions,. I gradually came to find it a useful ally in
some obscure and difficult investigations. But there remained still one serious objection to
accepting it as entirely a first-century work. According to the almost universally accepted view,
this history led Paul along a path and through surroundings which seemed to me historically and
topographically self-contradictory. It was not possible to bring Paul’s work in Asia Minor into
accordance with the facts of history on the supposition that an important part of that work was
devoted to a district in the northern part of the peninsula, called Galatia. It may appear at first
sight a mere topographical subtlety whether Paul travelled through North Galatia or through
Lycaonia; but, when you consider that any details given of his journeys must be false to the one
side just in proportion as they are true to the other, you will perceive that, if you try to apply the
narrative to the wrong side of the country, it will not suit the scene, and if it does not suit, then it
must appear to be written by a person ignorant of what he pretends to know. The case might be
illustrated from our own experience. Suppose that an unknown person came to Auburn from
New York, and you wished to find out whether he was an impostor or not. In our country we are
exposed to frequent attempts at imposition, which can often be detected by a few questions; and
you would probably ask him about his experiences on his journey from New York to Auburn.
Now suppose you had been informed that he had come not along the direct road, but by a long
detour through Boston, Montreal, and Toronto, and had thus arrived at Auburn; and suppose that
you by questioning elicited from him various facts which suited only a route through
Schenectady and Utica, you would condemn the man as an impostor, because he did not know
the road which he pretended to have travelled. But suppose further that it was pointed out by
some third party that this stranger had really travelled along the direct road, and that you had
been misinformed when you supposed him to have come by the-round-about way, your opinion
as to the stranger’s truthfulness would be instantly affected. Precisely similar is the case of Acts
as a record of travel; generations and centuries have been attempting to apply it to the wrong
countries. I must speak on this point confidently and uncompromisingly, for the facts stand out
so clear and bold and simple that to affect to hesitate or to profess any doubt as to one’s judgment
would be a betrayal of truth.
I know the difficulties of this attempt to understand rightly a book so difficult, so
familiar, and so much misunderstood as Acts . It is probable that I have missed the right turn or
not grasped the full meaning in some cases. I am well aware that I leave some difficulties
unexplained, sometimes from inability, sometimes from mere omission.But I am sustained by the
firm belief that I am on the right path, and by the hope that enough of difficulties have been
cleared away to justify a dispassionate historical criticism in placing this great writer on the high
pedestal that belongs to him.
2. DEVELOPMENT OF MODERN CRITICISM ON ACTS With regard to the
trustworthiness of Acts as a record of events, a change is perceptible in the tendency of recent
criticism. Setting aside various exceptional cases, and also leaving out of sight the strictly
"orthodox"view, which accepts Acts as truth without seeking to compare or to criticise (a view
which in its simplicity and completeness needs neither defence nor examination), we may say
that for a time the general drift of criticism was to conceive the book as a work composed in the
second century with the intention of so representing (or rather misrepresenting) the facts as to
suit the writer’s opinion about the Church questions of his own time. All theories of this class
imply that the atmosphere and surroundings of the work are of the second-century type; and such
theories have to be rounded on a proof that the details are represented in an inaccurate way and
coloured by second-century ideas. The efforts of that earlier school of critics were directed to
give the required proof; and in the attempt they displayed a misapprehension of the real character
of ancient life and Roman history which is often astonishing, and which has been decisively
disproved in the progress of Roman historical investigation. All such theories belong to the preMommsenian epoch of Roman history: they are now impossible for a rational and educated
critic; and they hardly survive except in popular magazines and novels for the semi-religious
order.
But while one is occasionally tempted to judge harshly the assumption of knowledge
made by the older critics where knowledge was at the time difficult or impossible, it is only fair
also to emphatically acknowledge the debt we owe them for practising in afearless and
independent spirit the right and much-needed task of investigating the nature and origin of the
book.
Warned by the failure of the older theories, many recent critics take the line that Acts
consists of various first century scraps put together in the book as we have it by a second-century
Redactor. The obvious signs of vivid accuracy in many of the details oblige these critics to
assume that the Redactor incorporated the older scraps with no change except such as results
from different surroundings and occasional wrong collocation. Some hold that the Redactor
made considerable additions in order to make a proper setting for the older scraps. Others reduce
the Redactor’s action to a minimum; Spitta is the most remarkable example of this class. In the
latter form the Redaction-theory is the diametrical opposite of the old tendency theories; the
latter supposed that the second century author coloured the whole narrative and put his own
views into every paragraph, while, according to Spitta, the Redactor added nothing of
consequence to his first century materials except some blunders of arrangement. The older
theories were rounded on the proof of a uniformity of later style and purpose throughout the
book; the later theories depend on the proof of differences of style between the different parts.
The old critics were impressed by the literary skill of the author, while the later critics can see no
literary power or activity in him. Any argument in favour of the one class of theories tells against
the other; and, if we. admit (as I think we must admit), that each view is rounded on a correct but
one-sided perception of certain qualities in this remarkable book, we may fairly say that each
disproves the other.
Certain theorists, and especially Clemen in his extraordinarily ingenious and bold work
Chronologie der Paulinischen Briefe, see clearly that such a bald scissors-and-paste theory as
Spitta’s is quite inadequate to explain the many-sided character of this history. Dr. Clemen
supposes that three older documents, a history of the Hellenistic Jews, a history of Peter, and a
history of Paul, were worked into one work by a Judaist Redactor, who inserted many little
touches and even passages of considerable length to give a tone favourable to the Judaising type
of Christianity; and that this completed book was again worked over by an anti-Judaist Redactor
II, who inserted other parts to give a tone unfavourable to the Judaising type of Christianity, but
left the Judaistic insertions. Finally, a Redactor III of neutral tone incorporated anew document
(VI 1-6), and gave the whole its present form by a number of small touches.
When a theory becomes so complicated as Clemen’s, the humble scholar who has been
trained only in philological and historical method finds himself unable to keep pace, and toils in
vain behind this daring flight. We shall not at present stop to argue from examples in ancient and
modern literature, that a dissection of this elaborate kind cannot be carried out. Style is seen in
the whole rather than in single sentences, still less in parts of sentences; and a partition between
six authors, clause by clause, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, of a work that
seemed even to bold and revolutionary critics like Zeller and Baur in Germany and Renan in
France to be a model of unity and individuality in style, is simply impossible. Moreover, the plan
of this study is not to argue against other theories, but to set forth a plain and simple
interpretation of the text, and appeal to the recognised principle of criticism that, where a simple
theory of origin can be shown to hold together properly, complicated theories must give way to
it.
One feature in Dr. Clemen’s theory shows true insight. No simple theory of gluing
together can exhaust the varied character of the Acts : a very complex system of junctures is
needed to explain its many-sidedness. But Dr. Clemen has not gone far enough. There is only
one kind of cause that is sufficiently complex to match the many-sided aspects of the book, and
that cause is themany-sided character of a thoughtful and highly educated man.
Dr. Clemen seems to assume that every instance where Paul adopts an attitude of
conciliation towards the Jews is added by a Judaistic Redactor, and every step in his growing
estrangement from them is due to an anti-Judaistic Redactor. He does not, I venture to think,
allow due scope to the possibility that an historian might record both classes of incidents in the
interests of truth. It is admitted that a dislocation occurred in the early Church, and that the
contention between the Judaising and the Universalising (to adopt a convenient designation)
parties was keen for a time. It is natural that the estrangement should be gradual; and the
historian sets before us a gradual process. He shows us Paul acting on the principle that the Jews
had the first claim (XIII 46=rAC 13:46), and always attempting to conciliate them; but he also
shows us that Paul did not struggle against the facts, but turned his back on the Jews when they
rejected him (as their Whole history proves, even without the evidence of Acts , that they were
sure to do}.It is hard to find a sufficient foundation for Dr. Clemen’s theory without the
preliminary assumption that an early Christian must necessarily be incapable of taking a broad
and unbiased view of history as: a whole. Grant that assumption, and his theory is built up with
marvellous skill, patience and ingenuity.
3. WORKING HYPOTHESIS OF THE INVESTIGATION. Our hypothesis is that Acts
was written by a great historian, a writer who set himself to record the facts as they occurred, a
strong partisan, indeed, but raised above partiality by his perfect confidence that he had only to
describe the facts as they occurred, in order to make the truth of Christianity and the honour of
Paul apparent. To a Gentile Christian, as the author of Acts was, the refusal of the Jews to listen
to Paul, and their natural hatred of him as untrue to their pride of birth, must appear due to pure
malignity; and the growing estrangement must seem to him the fault of the Jews alone. It is not
my object to assume or to prove that there was no prejudice in the mind of Luke, no fault on the
part of Paul; but only to examine whether the facts stated are trustworthy, and leave them to
speak for themselves (as. the author does). I shall argue that the book was composed by a
personal friend and disciple of Paul, and if this be once established there will be no hesitation in
accepting the primitive tradition that Luke was the author.
We must face the facts boldly. If Luke wrote Acts , his narrative mustagree in a striking
and convincing way with Paul’s: they mustconfirm, explain and complete one another. This is not
a case of two commonplace, imperfectly educated, and not very observant witnesses who give
divergent accounts of certain incidents which they saw without paying much attention to them.
We have here two men of high education,one writing a formal history, the other speaking under
every obligation of honour and conscience to be careful in his words: the subjects they speak of
were of the most overpowering interest to both: their points of view must be very similar, for
they were personal friends, and one was the teacher of the other, and naturally had moulded to
some extent his mind during long companionship. If ever there was a case in which striking
agreement was demanded by historical criticism between two classes of documents, it is between
the writings of Paul and of Luke.
There is one subject in particular in which criticism demands absolute agreement. The
difference of position and object between the two writers, one composing a formal history, the
other writing letters or making speeches, may justifiably be invoked to account for some
difference in the selection of details. But in regard to the influence of the Divine will on human
affairs they ought to agree. Both firmly believed that God often guided the conduct of His
Church by clear and open revelation of His will; and we should be slow to believe that one of
them attributed to human volition what the other believed to be ordered by direct manifestation
of God (p. 140). We shall try to prove that there is a remarkable agreement between them in
regard to the actions which they attribute to direct revelation.
Further, we cannot admit readily that peculiarities of Luke’s narrative are to be accounted
for by want of information: in his case this explanation really amounts to an accusation of
culpable neglect of a historian’s first duty, for full information was within Luke’s reach, if he had
taken the trouble to seek it. We shall find no need of this supposition. Finally, it is hard to believe
that Paul’s letters were unknown to Luke; he was in Paul’s company when some of them were
written; he must have known about the rest, and could readily learn their contents in the intimate
intercommunication that bound together the early Churches. We shall try to show that Luke had
in mind the idea of explaining and elucidating the letters.
In maintaining our hypothesis it is not necessary either to show that the author made no
mistake, or to solve every difficulty. From them that start with a different view more may be
demanded; but here we are making a historical and literary investigation. The greatest historians
of other periods are not above error; and we may admit the possibility that a first-century
historian has made errors. We shall not make much use of this proviso; but still the conditions of
the investigation must be clearly laid down.
Again, in almost every ancient writer of any value there remain unsolved problems by the
score. Where would our philological scholars be, if every question were satisfactorily disposed
of? The plan and the date of Horace’s longest work, the Art of Poetry, are unsolved and
apparently insoluble; every theory involves
serious difficulties; yes that does not make its
authenticity doubtful. That there remain some difficulties not explained satisfactorily in Acts
does not disprove its first-century origin.
Further, it is necessary to study every historian’s method, and not to judge him according
to whether or not he uses our methods. For example, Thucydides makes a practice of putting into
the mouths of his character speeches which they never delivered; no modern historian would do
this: the speeches of Thucydides, however, are the greatest and most instructive part of his
history. They might be truly called unhistorical; but the critic who summed up their character in
that epithet would only show his incapacity for historical criticism. Similarly the critic must
study Luke’s method, and not judge him according to whether he writes exactly as the critic
considers a history ought to be written.
Luke’s style is compressed to the highest degree; and he expects a great deal from the
reader. He does not , attempt to sketch the surroundings and set the whole scene like a picture
before the reader; he states the bare facts that seem to him important, and leaves the reader to
imagine the situation. But there are many cases in which, to catch his meaning properly, you
must imagine yourself standing with Paul on the deck of the ship, or before the Roman official;
and unless you reproduce the scene in imagination, you miss the sense. Hence, though his style is
simple and clear, yet it. often becomes obscure from its brevity; and the meaning is lost, because
the reader has an incomplete, or a positively false idea of the situation. It is always hard to
recreate the remote past; knowledge, imagination, and, above all, sympathy and love are all
needed. But Asia Minor, in which the scene is often laid, was not merely little known, but
positively wrongly known.
I know of no person except Bishop Lightfoot who has seriously attempted to test or revise
or improve the traditional statements (often, the traditional blunders) about Asian antiquities as
bearing on Acts ; but the materials were not at his disposal for doing this successfully. But it is
bad method to found theories of its composition on wrong interpretations of its meaning: the
stock misconceptions should first be cleared away, and the book studied in relation to the
localities and the antiquities.
Luke was deficient in the sense for time; and hence his chronology is bad. It would be
quite impossible from Acts alone to get a true idea of the lapse of time. That is the fault of his
age; Tacitus, writing the biography of Agricola (about 98 A.D.), makes no chronological
statement, until in the last paragraph he gives a series of statistics. Luke had studied the sequence
of events carefully, and observes it in his arrangement minutely, but he often has to carry forward
one thread of his narrative, and then goes back in time to take up another thread; and these
transitions are sometimes rather harsh. Yet, in respect of chronology, he was, perhaps, less
careless than would appear: see p. 23.
His plan leads him to concentrate attention on the critical steps. Hence he often passes
lightly over a long period of gradual development marked by no striking incident; and from his
bad chronological sense he gives no measure of the lapse of time implied in a sentence, a clause,
or even a word. He dismisses ten years in a breathe and devotes a chapter to a single incident. His
character as an historian, therefore, depends on his selection of topics. Does he show the true
historian’s power of seizing the great facts, and marking dearly the stages in the development of
his subject? Now, what impresses me is the sense of proportion in Acts , and the skill with which
a complex and difficult subject is grouped to bring out the historical development from the
primitive Church (ch. I-V=rAC 1-5) through the successive
steps associated with four great
names, Stephen, Philip, Peter, Paul. Where the author passes rapidly over a period or a journey,
we shall find reason to believe that it was marked by no striking feature and no new foundation.
The axiom from which we start must be that which is assumed in all literary investigationspreference is to be given to the interpretation which restores order, lucidity, and sanity to the
work. All that we ask in this place is the admission of that axiom, and a patient hearing,and
especially that the reader, before condemning our first steps as not in harmony with other
incidents, will wait to see how we can interpret those incidents.
The dominant interpretation rests avowedly on the principle that Acts is full of gaps, and
that "nothing is more striking than the want of proportion". Those unfortunate words of Bishop
Lightfoot are worked out by some of his successors with that "illogical consistency"which often
leads the weaker disciples of a great teacher to choose his errors for loving imitation and
emphasis. With such a theory no historical absurdity is too gross to be imputed to Luke. But our
hypothesis is that Luke’s silence about an incident or person should always be investigated as a
piece of evidence, on the principlethat he had some reason for his silence; and in the course of
this study we shall in several cases find that omission is a distinct element in the effect of his
narrative.
There is a contrast between the early chapters of Acts and the later. In the later chapters
there are few sentences that do not afford some test of their accuracy by mentioning external
facts of life, history, and antiquities. But the earlier chapters contain comparatively few such
details; the subject in them is handled in a vaguer way, with a less vigorous and nervous grasp;
the facts are rarely given in their local and historical surroundings, and sometimes seem to float
in air rather than to stand on solid ground.
This fundamental difference in handling must be acknowledged; but it can be fairly
attributed to difference of information and of local knowledge. The writer shows himself in his
later narrative to be a stranger to the Levant and familiar with the Aegean; he could not stand
with the same confidence on the soil of Syria and Palestine, as on that of Asia Minor or Greece.
Moreover, he was dealing with an earlier period; and he had not the advantage of formal
historical narratives, such as he mentions for the period described in his First Book (the Gospel).
Luke was dependent on various informants in the earlier chapters of Acts (among them Paul and
Philip); and he put together their information, in many cases reproducing it almost verbatim.
Sometimes the form of his record gives a clue to the circumstances in which he learned it. That
line of investigation is liable to become subjective and fanciful; but modern historical
investigation always tries to get behind the actual record and to investigate the ultimate sources
of statements.
4. THE AUTHOR OF ACTS AND HIS HERO. It is rare to find a narrative so simple and
so little forced as that of Acts . It is a mere uncoloured recital of the important facts in thebriefest
possible terms. The narrator’s individuality and his personal feelings and preferences are almost
wholly suppressed. He is entirely absorbed in his work; and he writes with the single aim to state
the facts as he has learned them. It would be difficult in the whole range of literature to find a
work where there is less attempt at pointing a moral or drawing a lesson from the facts. The
narrator is persuaded that the facts themselves in their barest form are a perfect lesson and a
complete instruction, and he feels that it would be an impertinence and even an impiety to intrude
his individual views into the narrative.
It is, however, impossible for an author to hide himself completely. Even in the selection
of details, his personality shows itself. So in Acts , the author shows the true Greek feeling for
the sea. He hardly ever omits to name the harbors which Paul sailed from or arrived at, even
though little or nothing in the way of incident occurred in them. But on land journeys he confines
himself to missionary facts, and gives no purely geographical information; where any statements
of a geographical character occur, they serve a distinct purpose in the narrative, and the reader
who accepts them as mere geographical specifications has failed to catch the author’s purpose
(see p. 205 f.).
Under the surface of the narrative, there moves a current of strong personal affection and
enthusiastic admiration for Paul. Paul is the author’s hero; his general aim is to describe the
development of the Church; but his affection and his interest turn to Paul; and after a time his
narrative groups itself round Paul. He is keenly concerned to show that Paul was in perfect
accord with the leaders among the older Apostles, but so also was Paul himself in his letters. That
is the point of view of a personal friend and disciple, full of affection, and jealous of Paul’s
honour and reputation.
The characterisation of Paul in Acts is so detailed and individualised as to prove the
author’s personal acquaintance. Moreover, the Paul of Acts is the Paul that appears to us in his
own letters, in his ways and his thoughts, in his educated tone of polished courtesy, in his quick
and vehement temper, in the extraordinary versatility and adaptability which made him at home
in every society, moving at ease in all surroundings, and everywhere the centre of interest,
whether he is the Socratic dialectician in the agora of Athens, or the rhetorician in its University,
or conversing with kings and proconsuls, or advising in the council on shipboard, or cheering a
broken-spirited crew to make one more effort for life. Wherever Paul is, no one present has eyes
for any but him.
Such a view could not have been taken by a second century author. The Church in the
second century had passed into new circumstances and was interested in quite different
questions. The catastrophe of the persecution of Domitian, and the effect produced for the time
on the attitude of the Church by the deliberate attempt to suppress and destroy it on the part of
the imperial government, made a great gulf between the first century and the second century of
Christian history.*Though the policy of the great emperors of the second century came back to
somewhat milder measures, the Church could not recover the same feeling that Paul had, so long
as Christianity continued to be a proscribed religion, and a Christian was in theoryat least an
outlaw and a rebel. Many questions that were evidently vital to the author of Acts were buried in
oblivion during the persecution of Domitian, and could not have been present in the mind of a
later author. Our view classes Acts with 1 Peter=r1 PE, intermediate between the Pauline letters
and the literature of the last decade of the century (such as Revelation). Luke shows the same
attitude as Paul, but he aims at proving what Paul feels.
The question must be fairly considered whether Luke had completed his history. There is
one piece of evidence from his own hand that he had not completed it, but contemplated a third
book at least. His work is divided into two books, the Gospeland the Acts , but in the opening
line of the Acts he refers to the Gospel as the First discourse (prw’to"Had he not contemplated a
third book, we expect the term Former Discourse(provtero") In a marked position like the
opening of a book, we must take the word firststrictly (Note, p. 27).
We shall argue that the plan of Acts has been obscured by the want of the proper climax
and conclusion, which would have made it clear, and also that the author did not live to put the
final touches to his second book. Perhaps we may thus account for the failure of chronological
data. In Book I there are careful reckonings of dates (in one case by several different eras) at the
great steps of the narrative. In Book II there are no such calculations (except the vague "under
Claudius"in XI 28, in itself a striking contrast to "the fifteenth year of Tiberius,"Luke III 1=rLK
3:1). Tacitus, as we saw, appends the dates to his Agricola: Luke incorporates his dates, but they
have all the appearance of being put into an already finished narrative. If other reasons prove that
Acts wants the finishing touches, we may reckon among the touches that would have been added
certain calculations of synchronism, which would have furnished a chronological skeleton for the
narrative.
If the work was left incomplete, the reason, perhaps,. lay in the author’s martyrdom under
Domitian.
5. THE TEXTS OF ACTS. It was my wish to take no notice here of differences of
reading, but simply to follow Westcott and Hort (except in two impossible cases, XI 20,=rAC
11:20XII 25=rAC 12:25). This, however, proved impracticable; for there are some cases in
which over-estimate of the two great MSS. (the Sinaitic and the Vatican) has led to the adoption
of a reading that obscures history. In several places I have been driven back on the Received
Text and the Authorised Version, and in others the Bezan Text either contains or gives the clue
to the original text; and wherever the Bezan Text is confirmed by old-Versions and by certain
Greek MSS., it seems to me to deserve very earnest consideration, as at least pointing in the
direction of an original reading subjected to wide-spread corruption.
It is universally admitted that the text of Acts was exposed to very careless or free
handling in the second century. This came about in various ways, for the most part
unintentionally, but partly by deliberate action. At that time great interest was taken in gathering
from trustworthy sources supplementary information, beyond what was contained in the Gospels
and Acts . Eusebius, III 39, quotes a passage from Papias describing his eager inquiries after such
information from those who had come into personal relations with the Apostles, and another, V
20, from Irenaeus, describing how Polycarp used to tell of his intercourse with John and the rest
that had seen the Lord. Now there was a natural tendency to note on the margin of a MS.
additional information obtained on good authority about incidents mentioned in the text; and
there is always a danger that such notes may be inserted in the text by a copyist, who takes them
for parts accidentally omitted. There is also a certain probability that deliberate additions might
be made to the text (as deliberate excisions are said to have been made by Marcion). The balance
of evidence is, on the whole, that Mark XVI 9-20 is a later composition, designed to complete a
narrative that had all the appearance of being defective. Again, explanatory notes on the margin
of a MS. are often added by a reader interested in the text; there is no doubt that in some books
such glosses have crept into the text through the errors of the copyist; and there are on our view
three such cases at least in the generally accepted text of Acts .
But, beyond this, when translations were made into Syriac and Latin (the former
certainly, the later probably, as early as the middle of the second century), the attention of
scholars was necessarily directed to the difficulties in interpretation of the text, with its
occasional archaic expressions, obscure words, and harsh constructions; and the practical
usefulness of a simplified and modernised text was thus suggested. Tatian’s Harmony of the Four
Gospels, and Marcion’s doctored editions, show how attempts were made from different points of
view and in different ways to adapt the sacred narrative for popular use: Tatian changed the
order, Marcion altered the text by excision or worse. Thus the plan of a simplified text was quite
in keeping with the custom of the second century; and the Bezan Text seems to be of that kind.
As a whole it is not Lukan: it has a fatal smoothness, it loses the rather harsh but very individual
style of Luke, and it neglects some of the literary forms that Luke observed. But it has a high
value for several reasons: (1) it preserves with corruptions a second-century witness to the text,
and often gives valuable, and sometimes conclusive, evidence of readings; (2) it shows what
view was held as to the meaning of various passages in the second century; (3) it adds several
pieces of information which probably rest on good evidence, though they were not written by
Luke. Thus we can often gather from the Bezan comment what was the original reading
commented on; and it vindicates the great MSS. in XVI 12 against Dr. Hort’s conjecture. It
reveals to us the first beginnings of Pauline legend (p. 106); and in this respect it stands on much
the same level as the original text of the Acta of Paul and Thelka, where also it is hard to
distinguish where history ends and romance begins. With the help of these two authorities,
combined with early Christian inscriptions (which begin only about 190, but give retrospective
evidence), we can recover some faint idea of the intellectual life of the second-century Christians
in Asia Minor and North Syria.
The Bezan Text will, indubitably, afford much study and some discoveries in the future.
Its explanatory simplifications often show the influence of the translations which first suggested
the idea of a simplified text. When the need for an explanation arose in connection with a
rendering in Latin, or in Syriac, the simplification took a Latin or Syriac colour; but this was
consciously adopted as a simplification, and not through mere blundering.
While the Bezan Text has gone furthest from the original Lukan Text, there is no MS.
which has not suffered seriously from the various causes of depravation. Several of the errors
that have affected the two great MSS. look like changes made intentionally in order to suit a
mistaken idea of the meaning of other passages; but there is always a possibility that in these
cases an editor was making a choice between varieties of reading . that had been produced
unintentionally. Only in the Bezan Text can we confidently say that deliberate alterations were
made in the text. I believe that the Bezan Reviser made many skillful changes in passages
relating to Asia Minor and some foolish changes inEuropean passages. In some of these cases,
the view remains open that the Bezan reading is the original; but evidence is as yet not sufficient
to give certainty. The home of the Revision is along the line of intercourse between Syrian
Antioch and Ephesus, for the life of the early Church lay in intercommunication, but the Reviser
was connected with Antioch, for he inserts "we"in XI 28.=rAC 11:28
Note. to;n prw’ton lovgon. The commentators universally regard this as an example of the
misuse of prw’to"; but they give no sufficient proof that Luke elsewhere misused that word. In
Stephen’s speech (VII 12) the adverb prw’ton misused for provteron occurs, but a dispassionate
consideration of the speeches in Acts must convince every reader that they are not composed by
the author, but taken verbatim from other authorities (in this case from Philip at Caesareia, XXI
8). Blass, p. 16, points out with his usual power, that the character and distinction of the
comparative and superlative degrees was decaying in the Greek of the N.T., and that in many
adjectives one of the two degrees played the part of both. But such changes do not affect all
words simultaneously; and the distinction between provtero" and prw’to" might be expected to
last longer than that between most other pairs. We observe that Paul uses both, and distinguishes
them correctly (though he blurs the distinction in other words): to; provteron as the former of two
visits Gal. IV 13, th;n protevran ajnastroqhvn Eph. IV 22. Blass, with the grammarian’s love for
making absolute rules, conjectures the last example away, in order to lay down the law that the
adjective provtero" is not employed in N.T.; but we follow the MSS., and find in them the proof
that the distinction was only in process of decay, and that the pair provtero"-prw’to" still survived
among the more educated writers in N.T. So long as Paul could distinguish provtero" and
prw’to", there is a probability that Luke would not utterly confuse them; and the fact that John
uses prw’to" in the most glaring way for provtero" has no bearing on Luke, who was a far better
master of Greek. We find several instances where Luke uses prw’to" correctly: in Acts XII 10
there were obviously three gates and three wards to pass (Peter was allowed to pass the first and
the second, being taken presumably as a servant; but no servant would be expected to pass
beyond the outermost ward at night, and a different course was needed there): in Luke II 2 a
series of census are contemplated as having occurred, p. 386: in Luke XI 26 the man is described
as passing through several stages: cp. XIII 30, XIV 18, XVI 5, XIX 16, XX 29. And, if there
survived in Luke the slightest idea of any difference between comparative and superlative, the
opening of a book is the place where we should expect to find the difference expressed. We
conclude, then, that the use of prw’to" there is more easily reconcilable with the plan of three
books, than of two; but certainty is not attainable, as provtero" does not actually occur in his
writings.
Chapter . II. THE ORIGIN OF ST. PAUL
1. PAUL’S NATIONALITY. In the growth of Christianity we observe that all the threads
of development which had been formed in the life of the great races of older history are gathered
together into one complex whole. Hence we have just the same assurance of the truth of
Christianity that we have of the trustworthiness of earlier history: the earlier works into the later,
the later grows out of the earlier, in such a way that all must be taken together. The
correspondence is in itself a guarantee of truth. Each exists for the other: each derives its full
comprehensibility from the other. We must accept the general outline of early history as a whole,
or we must reject it as a whole on the plea of insufficient evidence. There is not a fact of early
history, whether Christian or pre-Christian, which is not susceptible of being disputed with a fair
show of rational and logical argument: the evidence is nowhere such as would convince a man
whose mind is made up against the trustworthiness of ancient history. Let any one test the
evidence for any point in regard to the battles of Salamis or of Marathon; and he will find that
everywhere he is reduced to a balance of evidence, and frequently to a balance so delicate that no
one can feel any assured confidence on the point. Yet our confidence in the general facts
regarding each battle and its results is not, as a rule, affected by our uncertainty as to the details.
Doubtless there will always be some who argue that the trustworthiness of the whole must be
proportionate to the trustworthiness of the parts, and conclude that, where all details are so
uncertain, the whole is unworthy of study; and those who cannot see-or rather feel-for
themselves the fallacy of the argument will not be convinced by any reasoning that can be
adduced. But for those who do not adopt the extreme agnostic position, there is no other logical
position except that of accepting the. general scheme of ancient history, in which Christianity is
the crowning factor that gives unity and rational plan to the whole.
The life of Paul partakes of the uncertainty that envelopes all ancient history. As regards
every detail we shall find ourselves in the position of balancing evidence; as to almost every
detail we shall find ourselves amid a bewildering variety of opposite opinion and assertion
among modern scholars of every school and shade; and, strangest of all, in regard to two or three
points where there exists the nearest approach to a general agreement between all the various
schools, we shall find ourselves unable to agree. Owing to the peculiar character of the evidence,
we shall find it best to begin in the middle of Paul’s life and study the events of the years 44 to
61, and thereafter to sketch in outline the first half of his life.
At present, however, we must emphasise the complex influences amid which Paul grew
up. According to the law of his country, he was first of all a Roman citizen. That character
superseded all others before the law and in the general opinion of society; and placed him amid
the aristocracy of any provincial town. In the first century, when the citizenship was still
jealously guarded, the civitas may be taken as a proof that his family was one of distinction and
at least moderate wealth. It also implies that there was in the surroundings amid which he grew
up, a certain attitude of friendliness to the Imperial government (for the new citizens in general,
and the Jewish citizens in particular, were warm partisans of their protector, the new Imperial
regime), and also of pride in a possession that ensured distinction and rank and general respect in
Tarsus. As a Roman, Paul had a nomen and prnomen, probably taken from the Roman officer
who gave his family civitas; but Luke, a Greek, had no interest in Roman names. Paulus, his
cognomen, was not determined by his nomen: there is no reason to think he was an ˘milius (as
some suggest). Paul was, in the second place, a "Tarsian, a citizen of a distinguished city"(XXI
39, IX 11). He was not merely a person born in Tarsus, owing to the accident of his family being
there: he had a citizen’s rights in Tarsus. We may confidently assume that Paul was careful to
keep within demonstrable law and custom, when he claimed to be a Tarsian citizen in describing
himself to the Tribune. According to the strict interpretation of the Roman law, the civitas
superseded all other citizenship, but this theoretical exclusiveness was op- posed to the Imperial
spirit; and it is clear that Roman cives in a provincial city commonly filled the position of highclass citizens, and even had magistracies pressed upon them by general consent. Now, if Paul’s
family had merely emigrated to Tarsus from Judea some years before his birth, neither he nor his
father would have been "Tarsians,"but merely "residents"(incol). It is probable, but not certain,
that the family had been planted in Tarsus with full rights as part of a colony settled there by one
of the Seleucid kings in order to strengthen their hold on the city. Such a re-foundation took
place at Tarsus, for the name Antiocheia was given it under Antiochus IV (175-164 B.C.). The
Seleucid kings seem to have had a preference for Jewish colonists in their foundations in Asia
Minor. Citizenship in Tarsus might also have been presented to Paul’s father or grandfather for
distinguished services to the State; but that is much less probable.
In the third place, Paul was "a Hebrew sprung from Hebrews ". The expression is a
remarkable one. It is used not to a Jewish audience, but to a Greek Church (Phil. III 5), and it is
similar to a familiar expression among the Greeks: "a priest sprung from priests"is a term
commonly applied to members of the great sacerdotal families which play so important a part in
the society of Asian cities. He was a Jew at least as much as he was a Tarsian and a Roman, as
regards his early surroundings; and it is obvious that the Jewish side of his nature and education
proved infinitely the most important, as his character developed. But it is a too common error to
ignore the other sides. Many interpreters seem to think only of his words, XXII 3, "I am a Jew
born in Tarsus,"and to forget that he said a few moments before, "I am a Jew, a Tarsian, a citizen
of no mean city". To the Hebrews he emphasises his Jewish character, and his birth in Tarsus is
added as an accident: but to Claudius Lysias, a Greek-Roman, he emphasises his Tarsian
citizenship (after having told of his Roman citizenship). Now, there is no inconsistency between
these descriptions of himself. Most of us have no difficulty in understanding that a Jew at the
present day may be a thoroughly patriotic English citizen, and yet equally proud of his ancient
and honourable origin. In the extraordinarily mixed society of the Eastern provinces, it was the
usual rule in educated society that each man had at least two nationalities and two sides to his
character. If we would clearly understand the society in which Paul worked, and the mission of
Rome to make the idea of cosmopolitanism and universal citizenship a practical reality-an idea
that had been first conceived by the Stoic philosophy in its attempt to fuse Greek and oriental
thought into a unified system-we must constantly bear in mind that double or even triple
character, which was so common.
To the Hebrew of that period it was specially easy to preserve the Hebraic side of his life
along with his Greek citizenship; for the Jewish colony in a Seleucid city preserved as a body its
double character. It was not merely a part of the city, whose members were citizens, but it was
also recognised by the Seleucid Empire and afterwards by the Roman Empire as "the Nation of
the Jews in that city". Thus arose a strange and often puzzling complication of rights, which
caused much heart-burning and jealousy among the non-Jewish citizens of the city, and which
was at last terminated by the action of Vespasian in A.D. 70, when he put an end to the legal
existence of a "Jewish nation,"and resolved the Jews into the general population of the Empire.
From this wide and diversified training we may understand better Paul’s suitability to
develop the primitive Judaic Church into the Church of the Roman World (for beyond that he
never went in practice, though in theory he recognised no limit short of universal humanity), his
extraordinary versatility and adaptability (which evidently impressed Luke so much, p. 22), and
his quickness to turn the resources of civilisation to his use. The Jew in his own land was rigidly
conservative; but the Jew abroad has always been the most facile and ingenious of men. There
are no stronger influences in education and in administration than rapidity and ease of travelling
and the postal service; Paul both by precept and example impressed the importance of both on his
Churches; and the subsequent development of the Church was determined greatly by the constant
intercommunication of its parts and the stimulating influence thereby produced on the whole.
2. PAUL’S FAMILY. If Paul belonged to a family of wealth and position, how comes it
that in great part of his career (but not in the whole, p. 312) he shows all the marks of poverty,
maintaining himself by his own labour, and gratefully acknowledging his indebtedness to the
contributions of his Philippian converts, in Rome, in Corinth, and twice in Thessalonica (Phil. IV
15, II Cor. XI 9; see p. 360)? It was not simply that he voluntarily worked with his hands in order
to impress on his converts the dignity and duty of labour, for he conveys the impression, II Cor.
XI 8 f., I Thess. II 9, that he had to choose between accepting help from his’converts, and making
his own living. But it often happens in our own experience that a member of a rich family is in a
position of poverty. It would be enough simply to accept the fact; but, as Paul in his later career
is found in a different position, and as the same conjecture about his poverty must arise in every
one’s mind, we may glance for a moment at the relations in which Paul would stand to his own
family after his conversion.
The relations between Paul and his family are never alluded to by himself, and only once
by Luke, who tells how his sisters son saved his life in Jerusalem by giving private information
of the secret conspiracy against him, XXIII 16. How could this young man get immediate
information about a conspiracy, which was concocted by a band of zealots, and arranged in
private with the high priests and elders? In absolute secrecy lay the sole hope of success; and the
conspiracy must therefore have been imparted only to a few, and probably only the leaders of the
extreme Jewish party were aware of it. We must, I think, infer that the nephew acquired his
information in the house of some leading Jew (to which he had access as belonging to an
influential family), and that he was himself not a Christian, for in the heated state of feeling it
may be taken as practically certain that a Christian would not have had free and confidential
entry to the house of one of the Jewish leaders. But, further, if Paul’s nephew were trusted with
such a secret, it must have been assumed that he was hostile to Paul.
Now, as Paul himself says, he had been brought up in strict Judaic feeling, not as a
Sadducee, accepting the non-Jewish spirit, but as a Pharisee; and we must infer that the spirit of
his family was strongly Pharisaic. The whole history of the Jews shows what was likely to be the
feeling among his parents and brothers and sisters, when he not merely :became a Christian, but
went to the Gentiles. Their pride was outraged; and we should naturally expect that such a family
would regard Paul as an apostate, a foe to God and the chosen race, and a disgrace to the family;
his own relatives might be expected. to be his most bitter enemies. Looking at these probabilities,
we see a special force in Paul’s words to the Philippians, III 8, that he had given up all for Christ,
"for whom I suffered the loss of all things and do count them but refuse". These emphatic words
suit the mouth of one who had been disowned by his family, and, reduced from a position of
wealth and influence in his nation to poverty and, contempt.
Perhaps it is some terrible family scene that made Paul so keenly alive to the duty owed
by a father to his children. Probably nothing in family life makes a more awful and lasting
impression on a sensitive mind than a scene where a respected and beloved parent makes a
demand beyond what love or duty permits, and tries to enforce that demand by authority and
threats. If Paul had to face such a scene, we can appreciate the reason why he lays so much stress
on the duty of parents to respect their children’s just feelings: "ye fathers, provoke not your
children to wrath; but bring them up in the education and admonition of the Lord"(VI 4):
"fathers, provoke not your children, lest they lose heart"(Col. III 21). Not every person would
think this one of the most important pieces of advice to give his young societies in Asia Minor.
But, according to our conjecture, Paul had good cause to know the harm that parents may do
bynot reasonably considering their children’s desires and beliefs. At the same time he strongly
emphasises in the same passages the duty of children to obey their parents, and sets this before
the duty of parents to their children. That also is characteristic of one who had been blameless as
touching all the commandments (Phil. III 6), and who therefore must have gone to the fullest
extreme. in compliance with his father’s orders before he announced that he could comply no
further.
3. PERSONALITY. While Luke is very sparing of personal details, he gives us some few
hints about Paul’s physical characteristics as bearing on his moral influence. As an orator, he
evidently used a good deal of gesture with his hands; for example, he enforced a point to the
Ephesian Elders by showing them "these hands"(XX 34). When he addressed the audience at
Pisidian Antioch, or the excited throng of Jews in Jerusalem, he beckoned with the hand; when
he addressed Agrippa and the distinguished audience in the Roman governor’s hail, he "stretched
forth his hand". This was evidently a characteristic and hardly conscious feature of his more
impassioned oratory; but, when more quiet and simple address was suitable (as in the opening of
his speech to the Ephesian EIders, before the emotion was wrought up), or when a purely
argumentative and restrained style was more likely to be effective (as in addressing the critical
and cold Athenian audience, or the Roman procurator’s court), no gesture is mentioned. On the
other hand, in the extreme excitement at Lystra he "rent his garments"; and in the jailor’s critical
situation, XVI 28, Paul called out with a loud voice. Wherever any little fact is mentioned by
Luke, we can always observe some special force in it, and such details must have had real
importance, when an author so brief and so impersonal as Luke mentions them; and they are very
rare in him. Alexander tried to obtain a hearing from the Ephesian mob by such a gesture; and the
din, as they howled like a lot of dervishes, is set before us strongly by the fact that speaking was
impossible and gesture alone could be perceived. Peter, when he appeared to his astonished
friends in Mary’s house after his escape, beckoned to them to make no noise that might attract
attention and betray his presence. Otherwise such gestures are mentioned only where the hand is
stretched out to aid or to heal or to receive help.
Two of the most remarkable instances of Paul’s power over others are prefaced by the
statement that Paul "fixed his eyes on"the man (XIII 9, XIV 9, cp. XXIII 1); and this suggests
that his fixed, steady gaze was a marked feature in his personality, and one source of his
influence over them that were brought into relations with him. Luke frequently notes this trait.
Peter tells that he fixed his gaze on the heavenly vision, XI 6; and he fixed his eyes on the lame
man, III 4. Stephen turned his fixed gaze towards heaven, and saw it open to disclose the vision
of glory to him. In these cases the power of the eye is strongly brought out. The same trait is
alluded to where intense astonishment or admiration is involved, as when the bystanders gazed at
Peter and John after they had healed the lame man, or Stephen’s auditors stared on him as they
saw his face suffused with glory, or the disciples gazed upwards as Jesus was taken away from
them, or Cornelius stared at .the Angel. In the third Gospel, IV 20, the stare of the congregation
in Nazareth at Jesus, when He first spoke in the synagogue after His baptism, suggests that a new
glory and a new consciousness of power in Him were perceived by them. The power which looks
from the eyes of an inspired person attracts and compels a corresponding fixed gaze on the part
of them that are brought under his influence; and this adds much probability to the Bezan reading
in III 3, where the fixed gaze of the lame man on Peter seems to rouse the power that was latent
in him. The Greek word is almost peculiar to Luke, and occurs chiefly in Acts . Elsewhere in
N.T. it is used only by Paul in II Cor. III 7, 13; and it has often seemed to me as if there were
more of Lukan feeling and character in II Cor. than in any other of Paul’s letters. A consideration
of these passages must convince every one that the action implied by the word (ajtenivzein) is
inconsistent with weakness of vision: in fact, Paul says that the Jews could not gaze fixedly on
the glory of Moses’face, implying that their eyes were not strong enough. The theory which
makes Paul a permanent sufferer in his eyes, unable to see distinctly persons quite near him, and
repulsive to strangers on account of their hideous state (Gal. IV 13 f.), is hopelessly at variance
with the evidence of Luke. In that word, as he uses it, the soul looks through the eyes.
The word twice occurs in the Third Gospel, once in a passage peculiar to Luke, and once
when the servant maid stared at Peter and recognised him, where her fixed gaze is not mentioned
by Matthew or Mark.
Chapter III. THE CHURCH IN ANTIOCH
1.THE GENTILES IN THE CHURCH. (XI 19) THEY THEN THAT WERE
SCATTERED THROUGH THE TRIBULATION THAT AROSE ON ACCOUNT OF
STEPHEN TRAVELLED (i.e., made missionary journeys) AS FAR AS PHNICE AND
CYPRUS AND ANTIOCH, SPEAKING .THE WORD TO JEWS AND NONE SAVE JEWS.
(20) BUT THERE WERE SOME OF THEM, MEN OF CYPRUS AND CYRENE, WHO
WHEN THEY ARE COME TO ANTIOCH, USED TO SPEAK TO GREEKS ALSO, GIVING
THE GOOD NEWS OF THE LORD JESUS. (21) AND THE HAND OF THE LORD WAS
WITH THEM, AND A GREAT NUMBER THAT BELIEVED TURNED UNTO THE LORD.
When Acts was written, the Church of Antioch was only about fifty years old, but already
its beginning seems to have been lost in obscurity. It had not been founded, it had grown by
unrecorded and almost unobserved steps. In the dispersion of the primitive Churchat Jerusalem,
during the troubles ensuing on the bold action of Stephen, certain Cypriote and Cyrenaic Jews,
who had been brought up in Greek lands and had wider outlook on the world than the Palestinian
Jews, came to Antioch. There they made the innovation of addressing not merely Jews but also
Greeks. We may understand here (1) that the words used imply successful preaching and the
admission of Greeks to the Christian congregation, and (2) that such an innovation took place by
slow degrees, and began in the synagogue, where Greek proselytes heard the word. The Cypriote
and Cyrenaic Jews began pointedly to include these Greeks of the synagogue in their invitations,
and thus a mixed body of Jews and Greeks constituted the primitive congregation of Antioch; but
the Greeks had entered through the door of the synagogue (see pp. 62, 85, 156).
In verses 19-21=rAC 11:19-21the narrative for the moment goes back to a time earlier
than X and XI 1-18, and starts a new thread of history from the death of Stephen (VII 60=rAC
7:60). That event was a critical one in the history of the Church. The primitive Church had clung
to Jerusalem, and lived there in a state of simplicity and almost community of goods, which was
an interesting phase of society, but was quite opposed to the spirit in which Jesus had said, "Go
ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation". For the time it seemed that the
religion of Christ was stagnating into a sociological experiment. Stephen’s vigour provoked a
persecution, which dispersed itinerant missionaries over Judea and Samaria (VIII 1-4=rAC 8:14), first among whom was Philip the colleague of Stephen. New congregations of Christians were
formed in many towns (VIII 14=rAC 8:14, 25=rAC 8:25, 40=rAC 8:40, IX 31, 32,=rAC 9:313235,42,X 44); and it became necessary that, if these were to be kept in relation with the central
body in Jerusalem, journeys of survey should be made by delegates from Jerusalem. The first of
these journeys was made by Peter and John, who were sent to Samaria, when the news that a
congregation had been formed there by Philip reached Jerusalem (VIII 14=rAC 8:14).This may
be taken as a specimen of many similar journeys, one of which is recorded (IX 32 f.=rAC 9:32)
on account of the important development that took place in its course. It appears from Acts that
Peter was the leading spirit in these journeys of organisation, which knit together the scattered
congregations in Judea and Samaria. Hence the first great question in the development of the
Church was presented to him, viz., whether Hebrew birth was a necessary condition for entrance
into the kingdom of the Messiah and membership of the Christian Church. That question must
necessarily be soon forced on the growing Church; for proselytes were not rare, and the Christian
doctrine, which was preached in the synagogues, reached them. It was difficult to find any
justification for making the door of the Church narrower than the door of the synagogue, and
there is no record that any one explicitly advocated the view that Christianity should be confined
to the chosen people, though the condition and regulations on which non-Jews should be
admitted formed the subject of keen controversy in the following years.
According to Acts , this great question was first presented definitely to Peter in the case
of a Roman centurion named Cornelius; and a vision, which had appeared to him immediately
before the question emerged, determined him to enter the house and thesociety of Cornelius, and
set forth to him the good news, on the principle that "in every nation he that feareth God and
worketh righteousness is acceptable to Him"(X 35=rAC 10:35). Peter’s action was immediately
confirmed by the communication of Divine grace to the audience in Cornelius’s house; and,
though it was at first disputed in Jerusalem, yet Peter’s defence was approved of by general
consent.
But this step, though an important one, was only the first stage in a long advance that was
still to be made. Cornelius was a proselyte; and Peter in his speech to the assembly in his house
laid it down as a condition of reception into the Church that the non-Jew must approach by way
of the synagogue (X 35=rAC 10:35), and become "one that fears God".
Without entering on the details of a matter which has been and still is under discussion,
we must here allude to the regulations imposed on strangers who wished to enter into relations
with the Jews. Besides the proselytes who came under the full Law and entered the community of
Moses, there was another class of persons who wished only to enter into partial relations with the
Jews. These two classes were at a later time distinguished as "Proselytes of the Sanctuary"and
"of the Gate"; but in Acts the second class is always described as "they that fear God"* The Godfearing proselytes were bound to observe certain ceremonial regulations of purity in order to be
permitted to come into any relations with the Jews; and it is probable that these rules were the
four prohibitions enumerated in XV 28, to abstain from the flesh of animals sacrificed to idols,
and from blood, and from animals strangled, and from marriage within the prohibited degrees
(many of which were not prohibited by Greek or Roman law). These prohibitions stand in close
relation to the principles laid down in Leviticus XVII, XVIII, for the conduct of strangers
dwelling among the Israelites; and it would appear that they had become the recognised rule for
admission to the synagogue and for the first stage of approximation to the Jewish communion.
They stand on a different plane from the moral law of the Ten Commandments, being rules of
purity.
While no one, probably, urged that the Church should be confined to born Hebrews, there
was a party in the Church which maintained that those non-Jews who were admitted should be
required to conform to the entire "Law of God ": this was the party of "champions of the
circumcision,"* which played so great a part in the drama of subsequent years. This party was
silenced by Peter’s explanation in the case of Cornelius, for the preliminary vision and the
subsequent gift of grace could not be gain-. said. But the main question was not yet definitely
settled; only an exceptional case was condoned and accepted.
The Church Of Antioch then was in a somewhat anomalous condition. It contained a
number of Greeks, who were in the position of "God-fearing proselytes,"but had not conformed
to the entire law; and the question was still unsettled what was their status in the Church.
2. THE COMING OF BARNABAS AND THE SUMMONING OF SAUL. (XI 22) AND
THE REPORT CONCERNING THEM CAME TO THE EARS OF THE CHURCH IN
JERUSALEM; AND THEY SENT FORTH BARNABAS AS FAR AS ANTIOCH: (23) WHO
WHEN HE WAS COME, AND HAD SEEN THE GRACE OF GOD, WAS GLAD; AND HE
EXHORTED THEM ALL THAT WITH PURPOSE OF HEART THEY SHOULD CLEAVE
UNTO THE LORD (24) (FOR HE WAS A GOOD MAN, AND FULL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
AND OF FAITH); AND MUCH PEOPLE WAS ADDED UNTO THE LORD. (25) AND HE
WENT FORTH TO TARSUS TO SEEK FOR SAUL; (26) AND WHEN HE HAD FOUND
HIM, HE BROUGHT HIM UNTO ANTIOCH. AND IT CAME TO PASS THAT EVEN FOR A
WHOLE YEAR THEY MET IN THE ASSEMBLY, AND TAUGHT MUCH PEOPLE; AND
THAT THE DISCIPLES WERE CALLED "CHRISTIANS"FIRST IN ANTIOCH.
As in previous cases, an envoy was sent from the Church in Jerusalem to survey this new
congregation, and judge of its worthiness; and Barnabas was selected for the purpose. The same
test that had been convincing in the case of Cornelius satisfied Barnabas in Antioch: he saw the
grace of God. Then he proceeded to exhort and encourage them, which he was qualified to do
because the Divine Spirit was in him. Sparing as Luke is of words, he feels bound to state that
Barnabas was qualified by grace for the work (see p. 174). The result of his course of
ministration* was a great increase to the congregation.
Mindful of his former short experience of Saul, Barnabas bethought himself that he was
well suited to the peculiar circumstances of the Antiochian congregation: and he accordingly
went to Tarsus, and brought Saul back with him to Antioch. This journey must apparently have
been made in the early months of A.D. 43; and the rest of that year was spent by the two friends
in Antioch. The date shows that the early stages of Christian history in Antioch were slow. The
congregation must have grown insensibly, and no marked event occurred, until the attention of
the Church in Jerusalem was called to its existence. The one important fact about it was that it
came into existence in this peculiar way. But with the advent of Barnabas and Saul,
its history
enters on a new phase. It became the centre of progress and of historical interest in the Church.
It lies in Luke’s style to give no reason why Barnabas summoned Saul to Antioch. This
historian records the essential facts as they occurred; but he does not obtrude on the reader his
own private conception as to causes or motives. But we cannot doubt that Barnabas, who became
Saul’s sponsor at Jerusalem (IX 27), and related to the Apostles the circumstances of his
conversion, knew that God had already called him "to preach Him among the Gentiles"(Gal. I
16), and recognised that this congregation of the Gentiles was the proper sphere for Saul’s work.
We find in Barnabas’s action the proof of the correctness of Paul’s contention in Epist. Gal., that
his aim as an Apostle had been directed from the first towards the Gentiles; his sphere was
already recognised.
As we shall see later, Paul must have spent nearly eight years at Tarsus. Why are these
eight years a blank? Why were they such a contrast to the crowded hours of the period that was
just beginning? On our hypothesis as to the meaning of Luke’s silence, we conclude that Paul
was still not fully conscious of the full meaning of his mission; he was still bound in the fetters of
Judaic consistency, and acted as if the door of the synagogue was the portal through which the
Nations must find their way into the Church. He had not yet learned, or at least he had not yet so
fully shaken himself free from the prejudices of education and tradition as to act on the
knowledge, that God "had opened a door of faith unto the nations"(XIV 27, p. 85).
A point in Luke’s style here deserves note. He has mentioned in IX 30 that Saul was sent
away to Tarsus; and he now takes up the thread from that point, saying that Barnabas went to
Tarsus to seek for Saul. He implies that the reader must understand Tarsus to have been Saul’s
head-quarters during the intervening period. Not merely. does XI 25 require one to look back, but
also IX 30 requires one to look forward; each is the complement of the other, and the two
together hit off a long period during which no critical event had to be recorded. The same period,
together with the following year in Antioch, is described by Paul himself, Gal. I 21, 22: "Then I
came into the climes of Syria and Cilicia: and I continued to be unknown by face to the churches
of Judea, but they only heard say, ’He that once persecuted us now preacheth the faith’". Paul and
Luke complete each other, and make up a picture of over ten years of quiet work within the range
of the synagogue and its influence.
The words of v. 25 seem harsh until one takes them as a direct backward reference to IX
30, and as implying a statement about the intervening period. The Bezan Commentator, not
catching the style of Luke, inserts an explanatory clause, "hearing that Saul is in Tarsus,"which
rounds off the sense here by cutting away the necessity of finding in XI 25 the completion of a
period of history whose beginning is recorded in IX 30.
The term "Christians"attests that the congregation became a familiar subject of talk, and
probably of gossip and scandal, in the city; for obviously the name originated Outside the
brotherhood. The Brethren, then, were talked of in popular society as "they that are connected
with Christos": such a title could not originate with the Jews, to whom "the Christ"was sacred.
The name Christos therefore must have been the most prominent in the expressions by which the
Greek Brethren described or defined their faith to their pagan neighbours. The latter, doubtless,
got no clear idea of what this Christos was: some took Christos as one of the strange gods whom
they worshipped (XVII 18); others took him as their leader (p. 254). In any case the name
belongs to popular slang.
In accordance with the tendency of popular language to find some meaning for strange
words, the strange term Christos was vulgarly modified to ChrŒstos, the Greek adjective meaning
"good, useful,"which seemed to popular fancy a more suitable and natural name for a leader or a
deity. "ChrŒstians"was the form in which the name was often used; and it occurs in inscriptions.
3. THE ANTIOCHIAN COLLECTION FOR THE POOR OF JERUSALEM. (XI 27 A)
AND AT THIS PERIOD THERE CAME DOWN FROM JERUSALEM PROPHETS TO
ANTIOCH. (28A) AND THERE STOOD UP ONE OF THEM, AGABUS BY NAME, AND
SIGNIFIED BY THE SPIRIT THAT THERE SHOULD BE GREAT FAMINE OVER ALL
THE WORLD; WHICH CAME TO PASS IN THE DAYS OF CLAUDIUS. (29A) AND THE
DISCIPLES ACCORDING TO. THE MEANS OF THE INDIVIDUAL ARRANGED TO SEND
CONTRIBUTIONS FOR RELIEF TO THE BRETHREN SETTLED IN JUDEA. (30A) AND
THIS TOO THEY DID, AND DESPATCHED the relief TO THE ELDERS BY THE HAND OF
BARNABAS AND SAUL. (XII 25A) AND BARNABAS AND SAUL FULFILLED THE
MINISTRATION OF RELIEF, AND RETURNED FROM JERUSALEM BRINGING AS
COMPANION JOHN SURNAMED MARK.
Luke’s brief statement about the famine is declared by Dr. Schurer to be unhistorical,
improbable, and uncorroborated by other evidence.* Opinions differ widely; for the famine
seems to me to be singularly well attested, considering the scantiness of evidence for this period.
Suetonius alludes to assidu sterilitates causing famine- prices under Claudius, while Dion
Cassius and Tacitus speak of two famines in Rome, and famine in Rome implied dearth in the
great corn-growing countries of the Mediterranean; Eusebius mentions famine in Greece, and an
inscription perhaps refers to famine in Asia Minor.* Thus wide-spread dearth over the Roman
world is fully attested independently; beyond the Roman world our evidence does not extend. Dr.
Schurer seems to require a distinct statement that a famine took place in the same year all over
Europe, Asia, and Africa. But that is too hard on Luke, for he merely says that famine occurred
over the whole (civilised) world in the time of Claudius: of course the year varied in different
lands.
The great famine in Palestine occurred probably in A.D. 46. The commentators as a rule
endeavour, by straining Josephus, or by quoting the authority of Orosius, to make out that the
famine took place in 44, and even that it occasioned the persecution by Herod.
The eagerness to date the famine in 44 arises from a mistake as to the meaning and order
of the narrative of Acts . Between XI 30 and XII 25 there is interposed an account of Herod’s
persecution and his miserable death, events which belong to the year 44; and it has been
supposed that Luke conceives these events as happening while Barnabas and Saul were in
Jerusalem. But that is not the case. Luke describes the prophecy of Agabus, and the assessment
imposed by common arrangement on the whole congregation in-proportion to their individual
resources. Then he adds that this arrangement was carried out and the whole sum sent to
Jerusalem. The process thus described was not an instantaneous subscription. The money was
probably collected by weekly contributions, for the congregation was not rich, and coin was not
plentiful in Syrian cities. This collection would take a considerable time, as we gather both from
the analogy of the later Pauline contribution (p. 288), and from the fact that the famine was still
in the future, and no necessity for urgent haste existed. The arrangements were made beforehand
in full reliance on the prophecy; but there is no reason to think that the money was used until the
famine actually began, and relief was urgently needed. The manner of relief must, of course,
have been by purchasing and distributing corn, for it would have shown criminal incapacity to
send gold to a starving city; and the corn would not be given by any rational person, until the
famine was at its height. When Sir Richard Wallace relieved the distress in Paris after the siege,
he did not content himself with telegraphing money from London, nor yet with distributing gold
to the starving people in Paris. He brought food and gave it. As he did, so we may be sure did the
Antiochian delegates do; and no rational person will suppose that the corn was brought to
Jerusalem until the famine was actually raging. But in a land where transport was difficult,
preparations took time; and Luke states at the outset the genera] course of the preparations which
the Divine revelation aroused.
Thereafter, before describing the actual distribution of relief in Jerusalem, the author’s
method requires him to bring down the general narrative of events in Jerusalem and Judaea to the
point when the famine began; and then at last he mentions the actual administering of the relief.
He, therefore, tells about the persecution of Herod (which took place near the time when Agabus
prophesied), and about Herod’s death; and then at last he mentions the execution of the
Antiochian design and the return of the delegates to their own city.
As thus interpreted, Luke’s chronology harmonises admirably with Josephus. Agabus
came to Antioch in the winter of 43-44; and in the early part of 44 Herod’s persecution occurred,
followed by his death, probably in the autumn. In 45 the harvest was probably not good, and
provisions grew scarce in the country; then, when the harvest of 46 failed, famine set in, and
relief was urgently required, and was administered by Barnabas and Saul. It is an interesting
coincidence that relief was given liberally in Jerusalem by Queen Helena (mother of Izates, King
of Adiabene), who bought corn in Egypt and figs in Cyprus, and brought them to Jerusalem for
distribution. She came to Jerusalem in 45, and her visit lasted through the season of famine; she
had a palace in Jerusalem. The way in which she imparted relief to the starving people illustrates
the work that Barnabas and Saul had to perform.
The service in Jerusalem must have occupied Barnabas and Saul for. a considerable time.
They acted as administrators (diavkonoi) of the relief; and it becomes evident how much is
implied in the words of XI 29, XII 25 from the comparison of VI 1 "the daily ministration"of
food to the poor. The same term (diakoniva) that is used in these casesis applied (with lovgou
understood) to the steady constant work of a missionary or an apostle, XX 24, XXI 19, I 17,25,
VI 4. The Antiochian delegates did not merely act as carriers of money; they stayed in Jerusalem
through the famine and acted as providers and distributors, using all the opportunity of
encouraging and comforting the distressed that was thus afforded. In this way Saul’s second visit
to Jerusalem was an important moment in the development of the Church, and is related as such
by Luke: it united far-distant parts of the Church at a great crisis; it gave to the poor in Jerusalem
the sense of brotherhood with the Antiochian brethren, and to the Antiochian congregation that
consciousness of native life and power which comes only from noble work nobly done. But for
this end it was necessary that the work should be done from first to last by the Antiochian
congregation, and that every starving disciple in Jerusalem should realise that he owed his relief
to his brethren at Antioch. Great part of the effect would have been lost, if the delegates had
merely handed a sum of money to the leaders in Jerusalem to distribute; and the author, who is so
sparing of words, does not fail to assure us that the two delegates "completed the
ministration"before they returned to Antioch.
It must be noticed that only the Elders at Jerusalem are here mentioned, whereas in XV
Paul and Barnabas were sent to the Apostles and Elders. The marked difference may probably be
connected with the author’s conception of the appropriate duties of each. In XV, when a matter of
conduct and principle was in question, the Apostles were primarily concerned; but when it was a
matter of the distribution of food, the Apostles were not concerned, for it was right that they
should not "serve tables,"but "continue in the ministry of the word"(VI 2-4). It would have been
quite natural to say that the contributions were sent to the congregation, or to the Brethren, in
Jerusalem; and it is apparent that here the Elders represent the congregation of Jerusalem as
directors of its practical working, while in XV the Apostles and Elders represent the Church in
every aspect. The omission of the Apostles in XI 29 commonly explained on other grounds, not
very honourable to them. Even Lightfoot says: "the storm of persecution had broken over the
Church of Jerusalem."One leading Apostle had been put to death; another, rescued by a miracle,
had fled for his life. It is probable that every Christian of rank had re-tired from the city. No
mention is made of the Twelve; the salutations of the Gentile Apostles are received by ’the
Elders’. They arrived charged with alms for the relief of the poor brethren of Jerusalem. Having
deposited these in trustworthy hands, they would depart with all convenient speed. But Luke
expressly says that the administration of the relief was performed in detail by the two Antiochian
delegates (XII 25); and one can only marvel that Light-foot ever stooped to the idea that they
sneaked into the city and sneaked out hastily again, leaving the poor without a single "Christian
of rank"to minister to them. Nor is there any good reason to think that the Apostles all fled from
Jerusalem, and left the disciples to look after themselves. It was not men like that who carried
Christianity over the empire within a few years. Such an act of cowardice should not be
attributed to the Apostles without distinct evidence; and here the evidence tells in the opposite
direction: (1) at the far more serious persecution following the death of Stephen, "all scattered
abroad except the Apostles"(VIII 1): (2) it is implied that "James and the Brethren"were in
Jerusalem, when Peter escaped from prison and retired (XII 17); and immediately after, Herod
went away and the persecution was at an end. The author of Acts evidently had the impression
that the guidance of affairs rested with the Apostles in Jerusalem; and they are conceived by him
as being there permanently, except when absent on a special mission.
It is not mere accidental collocation, that immediately on the return of Barnabas and Saul
comes the record of the flourishing state of the Church in Antioch, with its band of prophets and
teachers (XIII 1): the result of their noble work in Jerusalem was apparent in the fuller and more
perfect manifestation of Divine power and grace to the Church in Antioch.
Further, when Paul had founded a group of new churches in the four provinces, Galatia,
Asia, Macedonia, Achaia, he, as the crowning act of organisation, instituted a general collection
among them for the poor at Jerusalem; and arranged that representatives should go up along with
himself to Jerusalem bearing the money. His object was both to strengthen the separate
congregations by good work, and to strengthen the whole Church by bringing its scattered parts
into personal relations of service and help. We cannot doubt that it was his experience of the
immense effect produced by the first Divinely ordered contribution which led Paul to attach such
importance and devote so much trouble to the organisation of the second general contribution;
and he uses the same word to indicate the management of the second fund that Luke uses of the
first (diakonei’n, II Cor. VIII 19).*
The preceding notes have shown how much is contained in the brief record of Luke: all
the main points in the execution of the scheme of relief are touched in the few words XI 29, 30,
XII 25. But we are not reduced to this single account of the mission to Jerusalem. Paul, in writing
to the Galatians, also mentions it; his reason for alluding to it lay in certain incidental and
unessential facts that occurred at Jerusalem; but he tells enough to show what was the primary
object of the visit. In describing his intercourse with the older Apostles, he mentions his second
visit to Jerusalem in the following terms (I expand the concise language of Paul to bring out the
close-packed meaning):(Gal. II 1) THEN IN THE FOURTEENTH YEAR after it pleased God to call me, I
WENT UP AGAIN TO JERUSALEM WITH BARNABAS, AND TOOK TITUS ALSO AS A
COMPANION. (2) NOW I may explain that I WENT UP ON AN ACCOUNT OF A
REVELATION (which shows how completely my action was directly guided by the Divine will,
and how independent it was of any orders or instructions from the Apostles). AND I
COMMUNICATED TO THEM WITH A VIEW TO CONSULTATION THE GOSPEL WHICH
I CONTINUE PREACHING AMONG THE GENTILES, BUT I did so PRIVATELY TO
THOSE WHO WERE RECOGNISED AS THE LEADING SPIRITS, not publicly to the whole
body of Apostles; since the latter course would have had the appearance of consulting the official
governing body, as if I felt it a duty to seek advice from them; whereas private consultation was a
purely voluntary act. MY PURPOSE IN THIS CONSULTATION WAS TO CARRY WITH ME
THE LEADING SPIRITS OF THE CHURCH, SINCE MISUNDERSTANDING OR WANT OF
COMPLETE APPROVAL ON THEIR PART MIGHT ENDANGER OR FRUSTRATE MY
EVANGELISTIC WORK WHETHER IN THE FUTURE OR THE PAST, if doubt or dispute
arose as to the rights of my converts to full membership in the Church without further ceremony.
(3) NOW, as I have touched on this point, I may mention parenthetically that NOT EVEN WAS
MY COMPANION TITUS, GREEK AS HE WAS, REQUIRED TO SUBMIT TO
CIRCUMCISION, much less was the general principle laid down that the Jewish rite was a
necessary preliminary to the full membership of the Church. (4) FURTHER, THE OCCASION
of my consulting the leading Apostles WAS BECAUSE OFCERTAIN INSINUATING FALSE
BRETHREN, WHO ALSO CREPT INTO OUR SOCIETY IN AN UNAVOWED WAY TO
ACT THE SPY ON OUR FREEDOM (WHICH WE FREE CHRISTIANS CONTINUE
ENJOYING THROUGHOUT MY MINISTRY), IN ORDER TO MAKE US SLAVES to the
ritual which they count necessary. (5) BUT NOT FOR AN HOUR DID WE YIELD TO THESE
FALSE BRETHREN BY COMPLYING WITH THEIR IDEAS, OR EXPRESSING
AGREEMENT WITH THEM; AND OUR FIRMNESS THEN WAS INTENDED TO SECURE
THAT THE GOSPEL IN ITS TRUE FORM SHOULD CONTINUE IN LASTING FREEDOM
FOR YOU to enjoy. (6) BUT FROM THE RECOGNISED LEADERS-HOW DISTINGUISHED
SOEVER WAS THEIR CHARACTER IS NOT NOW THE POINT; GOD ACCEPTETH NOT
MAN’S PERSON-THE RECOGNISED LEADERS, I SAY, IMPARTED NO NEW
INSTRUCTION TO ME; (7) BUT, ON THE CONTRARY, PERCEIVING THAT I
THROUGHOUT MY MINISTRY AM CHARGED SPECIALLY WITH THE MISSION TO
FOREIGN (NON-JEWISH) NATIONS AS PETER IS WITH THE JEWISH MISSION-(8) FOR
HE THAT WORKED FOR PETER TO THE APOSTOLATE OF THE CIRCUMCISION
WORKED ALSO FOR ME TO BE THE MISSIONARY TO THE GENTILES-(9) AND
PERCEIVING from the actual facts THE GRACE THAT HAD BEEN GIVEN ME, THEY,
JAMES AND CEPHAS AND JOHN, THE RECOGNISED PILLARS OF THE CHURCH,
GAVE PLEDGES TO ME AND TO BARNABAS OF A JOINT SCHEME OF WORK, OURS
TO BE DIRECTED TO THE GENTILES, WHILE THEIRS WAS TO THE JEWS. (10) ONE
CHARGE ALONE THEY GAVE US, TO REMEMBER THE POOR brethren at Jerusalem. A
DUTY WHICH AS A MATTER OF FACT I atthat time MADE IT MY SPECIAL OBJECT TO
PERFORM.
As is pointed out elsewhere in full detail, the concluding sentence defines the object
which Paul carried out in Jerusalem: other events were incidental. This journey, therefore, is
declared in Epist. Gal. to have been made according to revelation, and in Acts the exact
circumstances of the revelation are narrated; the object of the visit is described in Acts as being
to relieve the distress of the poor brethren in Jerusalem, and in Epist. Gal. Paul says he directed
his attention specially to helping the poor brethren; another purpose is said in Epist. Gal. to have
been achieved on this journey, v. 3, but Paul immediately adds that this other purpose was carried
out as a mere private piece of business, and implies thereby that it was not the primary or official
purpose of the journey.
How graceful and delicate is the compliment which the older Apostles paid to Paul! "the
only advice and instruction which we have to give is that you continue to do what you have been
zealously doing,"so they spoke at the conclusion of his visit. And in what a gentlemanly spirit
does Paul refer to that visit! His object is to prove to the Galatians that, on his visits to Jerusalem,
he received nothing in the way of instruction or commission from the older Apostles; and to do
this he gives an account of his visits. When he comes to the second visit he might have said in
the tone of downright and rather coarse candour, "So far from receiving on this occasion, I was
sent .by Divine revelation to be the giver". But not even in this hot and hasty letter does he
swerve from his tone of respect and admiration, or assume in the slightest degree a tone of
superiority to Peter and James. The facts are all there to show the real situation; but they are put
so quietly and allusively (the revelation in verse 2, the object in verse 10), as to avoid all
appearance of boasting in what was really a very legitimate cause of satisfaction; and even of
self-gratulation. It is precisely because on his second visit Paul was so obviously not the
recipient, that he appeals to it with such perfect confidence as proving his independence.
Here as everywhere we find that Acts supplements and explains the incidents and
arguments used by Paul in his letter. And we see that the influence which we have just ascribed
to the visit in promoting the unity and solidarity of the whole Church is fully confirmed by Paul
in verse 9; it resulted in a formal recognition by the older Apostles of the co-ordinate Apostolate
of the two Antiochian delegates.
The same party in the Church which had criticised Peter’s conduct to Cornelius, was
discontented with the conduct of Barnabas and Saul to their companion, Titus; but in the
circumstances their discontent did not take public action, though it was so apparent as to put Saul
on his guard, and once more they seem to have acquiesced in an exceptional case, as they did in
that of Cornelius. But it was now becoming evident that two distinct and opposed opinions
existed in the Church, and were likely to come to open conflict; and Saul privately satisfied
himself that the leaders were in agreement with himself on the subject of difference.
But why is Acts silent about this? Simply because it never came to an open discussion,
and therefore did not reach the proper level of importance. Luke confines himself to the great
steps in development. Nor is it strange that Titus is not mentioned by Luke. In carrying the relief
to Jerusalem, it is obvious that Barnabas and Saul must have had assistants. The work was one of
considerable magnitude, and involved a good deal of organisation. We may gather from Luke
that the two envoys were entrusted with the management; but the whole details of purchase,
transport, and distribution lie outside of his conception and plan. The essential fact for his
purpose was that relief was sent by the congregation in Antioch (XI 30), and its distribution
personally carried out by Paul and Barnabas in Jerusalem (XII 25); and he tells us no more. In his
letter Paul says that Titus was privately selected associate and not an official; and we may
confidently add that he was one of the assistants who were needed to carry out the work
described in Acts (see also the omission is made on p. 170.
The only strange fact in reference to Titus, is that he nowhere appears in Acts ; and that is
equally hard to explain on every theory. Clearly he played a considerable part in the early history
of the Church (as Luke himself did); and, on our hypothesis of Luke’s historical insight and
power of selecting and grouping details, the complete omission of Titus’s name must be
intentional, just as the silence about Luke is intentional. A suggestion to explain the omission is
made on p. 390.
The situation on this visit is strikingly different from that described in Acts XV as
existing at the next visit (see Chap. VII). Paul has here private communications with the three
leading Apostles in prudent preparation against future difficulties. In the later stage, public
meetings to hear the recital of his and Barnabas’s experiences among the Gentiles are followed
by a formal Council, in which "the leading Apostles stand forth as the champions of Gentile
liberty".
We find ourselves obliged to regard this visit as more important than is generally
believed. Canon Farrar, who may be quoted as a clear and sensible exponent of the accepted
view, calls it "so purely an episode in the work of St. Paul, that in the Epistle to the Galatians he
passes it over without a single allusion ". According to our view, if it had been a mere episode
without influence on the development of the Church, Luke would have passed it unmentioned;
but it was a step of great consequence in the development of the Antiochian congregation and of
the Church as a whole; and therefore it required a place in this history.
The wonderful revelation described by Paul himself in his second letter to the Corinthians
XII 2-4 took place in the fourteenth year before A.D. 56, when that letter was written; and
therefore probably occurred in 43 or 44. This brings us near the period when Agabus came to
Antioch; but all speculation is barred by the description: he "heard unspeakable words which it is
not lawful for man to utter". Another revelation, however, can with certainty be ascribed to this
visit, and, specially, to its concluding days.
4. THE RETURN FROM JERUSALEM TO ANTIOCH. (XXII 17) WHEN I HAD
RETURNED TO JERUSALEM, AND WHILE I PRAYED IN THE TEMPLE, I FELL INTO A
TRANCE, (18) AND SAW HIM SAYING UNTO ME, "MAKE HASTE, AND GET THEE
QUICKLY OUT OF JERUSALEM; BECAUSE THEY WILL NOT RECEIVE OF THEE
TESTIMONY CONCERNING ME". (19) AND I SAID, "LORD, THEY THEMSELVES
KNOW THAT I IMPRISONED AND BEAT IN EVERY SYNAGOGUE
THEM THAT
BELIEVED ON THEE: (20) AND WHEN THE BLOOD OF STEPHEN THY WITNESS WAS
SHED, I ALSO WAS STANDING BY, AND CONSENTING, AND KEEPING THE:
GARMENTS OF THEM THAT SLEW HIM (and therefore they must see that some great thing
has happened to convince me)". (21) AND HE SAID UNTO ME, "DEPART: FOR I WILL
SEND THEE FORTH FAR HENCE UNTO THE NATIONS ".
Let us clearly conceive the probable situation at that time. In the famine-stricken city it is
not to be supposed that Barnabas and Saul confined their relief to professing Christians, and let
all who were not Christians starve. Christian feeling, ordinary humanity, and policy (in the last
respect Paul was as little likely to err as in the others), alike forbade an absolute distinction. The
Antiochian delegates must have had many opportunities of siding their Jewish brethren, though
they addressed their work specially to their Brethren in the Church; and the result must have been
that they occupied a position of peculiar advantage for the time, not merely in the Church (where
the respect and honour paid them shines through Gal. II 1-10), but also in the city as a whole.
Now it was part of Paul’s missionary method not to insist where there was no opening, and not to
draw back where the door was open. It might well seem that the remarkable circumstances of his
mission to Jerusalem, the revelation by which it was ordered, and the advantage it secured to him
in the city, were the opening of a door through which he might powerfully influence his own
people. The thought could not fail to occur to Paul; and the remarkable incident described in
XXII 17-21 shows that it was in his mind.
This incident is usually assigned to the first visit which Paul paid to Jerusalem after his
conversion. But he does not say or even imply that it was his first visit; and we must be guided
by the suitability of the circumstances mentioned to the facts recorded about the various visits.
Now Luke gives a totally different reason for his departure from Jerusalem at the first visit: he
attributes it to the prudence of the Brethren, who learned that a conspiracy was made to slay him,
and wished both to save him and to avoid the general danger that would arise for all, if
persecution broke out against one. The revelation of XXII 18, to which Paul attributes his
departure, suits the first visit very badly; but such discrepancy does not count for much with the
modern interpreters, orthodox and "critical"alike, who, having achieved the feat of identifying
the second visit of Gal. II 1-10 with the third visit of Acts XV (pp. 59, 154 f.), have naturally
ceased to expect agreement between Luke and Paul on such matters. Accordingly, Lightfoot
actually quotes the discrepancy between XXII 18 f. and IX 29 . to illustrate and defend the
discrepancy between Gal. II 2 and Acts XV 4.
Again, the reasoning of XXII 20, 21, is not suitable to the first visit. Paul argues that
circumstances make him a peculiarly telling witness to the Jews of the power of Jesus: and the
reply is that Jesus will send him far hence to the Nations. Now, the first visit was followed, not
by an appeal to the Nations, but by many years of quiet uneventful work in Cilicia and Antioch,
within the circle of the synagogue and its influence. But this revelation points to the immediate
"opening of a door of belief to the Nations"; and that did not take place until Paul went to Paphos
and South Galatia (XIV 27, pp. 41, 85).
To place this revelation on the first visit leads to hopeless embarrassment, and to one of
those discrepancies which the orthodox historians, like Lightfoot, labour to minimise, while the
critical historians naturally and fairly argue that such discrepancies prove Acts to be not the work
of Paul’s pupil and friend, but a work of later origin. On this point I can only refer to what is said
on p. 15; on the principle there laid down, we cannot connect XXII 17 f. withIX 28 f.
On the other hand this revelation suits excellently the state of matters. which we have just
described at the conclusion of the second visit. Paul was tempted by the favourable opportunity
in Jerusalem; and his personal desire always turned strongly towards his Jewish brethren (Rom.
IX 1-5). He prayed in the temple: he saw Jesus: he pleaded with Jesus, representing his fitness
for this work: and he was ordered to depart at once, "for I will send thee forth far hence to the
Nations". Thereupon he returned to Antioch; and in a few days or weeks a new revelation to the
Antiochian officials sent him on his mission to the West, and opened the door of belief to the
Nations.
One objection to this view is likely to be made. Many infer from XXII 18 that the visit
was short. But there is no implication as to the duration of the visit. The words merely show that
Paul was thinking of a longer stay, when the vision bade him hasten away forthwith. The second
visit, according to Lightfoot’s supposition, was even shorter than the first, but on our view it
began when the failure of harvest in 46 turned scarcity into famine, and it probably lasted until
the beginning of 47. Our reference of XXII 17 to the second visit is corroborated by the reading
of the two great uncial MSS. in XII 25, "returned to Jerusalem": this seems to be an alteration
made deliberately by an editor, who, because these passages referred to the same visit, tampered
with the text of XII 25 to bring it into verbal conformity with XXII 17.
5. THE MISSION OF BARNABAS AND SAUL. (XIII 1) NOW THERE WAS AT
ANTIOCH, CONNECTED WITH "THE CHURCH,"l A BODY OF PROPHETS AND
TEACHERS, BARNABAS, SYMEON (SURNAMED NIGER), AND LUCIUS (HE OF
CYRENE), WITH MANA¸N (FOSTER-BROTHER OF HEROD THE TETRARCH) AND
SAUL. (2) AS THESE WERE: LEADING A LIFE OF RELIGIOUS DUTIES AND FASTS,
THE: HOLY SPIRIT SAID, "SEPARATE ME BARNABAS AND SAUL FOR THE WORK
WHEREUNTO I HAVE CALLED THEM". (3) THEN THEY (i.e., the Church) HELD A
SPECIAL FAST, AND PRAYED, AND LAID THEIR HANDS UPON THEM, AND GAVE
THEM LEAVE TO DEPART.
A new stage in the development of the Antiochian Church is here marked. It was no
longer a mere "congregation"; it was now "the Church"in Antioch; and there was in it a group of
prophets and teachers to whom the grace of God was given.
There is indubitably a certain feeling that a new start is made at this point; but it is only
through blindness to the style of a great historian that some commentators take this as the
beginning of a new document. The subject demanded here a fresh start, for a great step in the
development of the early Church was about to be narrated, "the opening of a door to the
Gentiles"(XIV 27). The author emphasised this step beyond all others, because he was himself a
Gentile; and the development of the Church through the extension of Christian influence was the
guiding idea of his historical work.
Probably the variation between the connecting particles (kaivv and te) marks a distinction
between three prophets, Barnabas, Symeon and Lucius, and two teachers, Manaen and Saul. In
Acts VI 5, the list of seven deacons is given without any such variation; and it seems a fair
inference that the variation here is intentional.* The distinction between the qualifications
required in prophets and in teachers is emphasised by Paul in I Cor. XII 28. As regards Barnabas
and Saul their difference in gifts and qualifications appears clearly in other places. Everywhere
Saul is the preacher and teacher, Barnabas is the senior and for a time the leader on that account.
There is a marked distinction between the general rule of life in v. 2, and the single
special ceremony in v. 3. An appreciable lapse of time is implied in 2: after the two envoys
returned from Jerusalem, the regular course of Church life went on for a time and, so long as
everything was normal, the historian finds nothing to relate. The prophets and teachers had
regular duties to which their energies were devoted; and they practised in their life a certain
regular rule of fasting. They were not like the Elders, who were chosen as representative
members of the congregation; they were marked out by the Divine grace as fitted for religious
duties in the congregation. The "work"in v. 2 is defined in the subsequent narrative (XIII 41,
XIV 26, XV 3, 38, etc.) as preaching the Gospel in new regions outside of the province Syria and
Cilicia, in which there already existed Christian communities.
What is the subject in v. 3? It cannot be the five officials just mentioned, because they
cannot be said to lay their hands on two of themselves. Evidently some awkward change of
subject takes place; and the simplest interpretation is that the Church as a whole held a special
service for this solemn purpose. Codex Bez makes all clear by inserting the nominative
"all"(pavnte"); and on our view this well-chosen addition gives the interpretation that was placed
in the second century on a harsh and obscure passage. Similarly in XV 2 it is meant that the
congregation appointed the delegates to Jerusalem; and the reader is expected to supply the
nominative, though it has not occurred in, the immediately preceding sentence. It seemed to the
author so obvious that such action was performed by universal consent, that he did not feel any
need to express the nominative. Such a way of thinking was possible only at a very early time.
During the second century (if not even earlier) the action of officials began to supersede that of
the whole congregation in such matters; and, when even a beginning had been made, it could no
longer be assumed as self-evident that such actions as XIII 3, XV 2, were performed by the
congregation; and the writer would necessarily express the nominative. The Bezan Reviser
belonged to the period when the change had begun and the need of expressing the nominative
was felt; but he lived before the time when official action had regularly superseded that of the
congregation, for in that case he would have taken the officials in this case to be the agents (as
many modern commentators understand the passage).
What was the effect of the public ceremony described in v. 3 ? The high authority of
Lightfoot answers that it constituted Barnabus and Saul as Apostles. He acknowledges that Saul’s
"conversion may indeed be said in some sense to have been his call to the Apostleship. But the
actual investiture, the completion of his call, took place some years later at Antioch (Acts XIII
2)."He considers that Barnabas and Saul were only prophets before this, and did not become
Apostles until they were elevated to that rank by their "consecration to the office"at Antioch (Ed.
Galat. p. 96).
Our view, on the contrary, is that Barnabas and Saul were Apostles before this. The
Apostle was always appointed by God and not by the Church. The proof of Apostleship lay in
the possession of apostolic message and powers, conversion of others and performance of signs.
It is an historical anachronism to attribute to this period such belief in the efficacy of a Churchceremony. Moreover, in XXII 17, 21, and XXVI 17, Paul claims to have been an Apostle from
his conversion, and represents his work in Cilicia and Syria as an Apostolate. In Gal. I he
declares that his message came direct from God at his conversion. Further, there is no sign in
XIII 2, 3, that this "consecration"by the Church was more efficacious than the original Divine
call: the ceremony merely blessed Barnabas and Saul for a special work, which was definitely
completed in the next three years. In XIV 26 the work for which they had been committed to the
grace of God in XIII 2 is declared to be fulfilled; and they returned to their ordinary circle of
duties in the Church at Antioch.
The last word in verse 3 should not be "sent them away"(as in the Authorised and
Revised Versions). The Spirit sent them away (verse 4); and the Church released them from their
regular duties and bade them "God-speed". The Greek verb (ajpevlusan, like the Latin dimittere)
is used of the superior giving his visitor leave to depart (for a visitor in the East is considered to
be paying his respects, and does not presume to depart without formal permission to go), or of a
host allowing his guests to depart, or of a commanding officer giving soldiers honourable
dismissal after their term of service. The correct rendering of this term will prove important at a
later stage (p. 155).
Note. Date of the famine. Orosius VII 6 puts it in the fourth year of Claudius, which
began January 25, A.D. 44. But Orosius’s dates at this point are put one year too early owing to a
mistake in adapting to Claudius’s years a series of events arranged in his authority according to a
different system of chronology; this kind of mistake is known to have been frequently made by
ancient chroniclers, and is proved in Orosius’s case by the fact that he assigns to the tenth year of
Claudius a famine at Rome which Tacitus Ann. XII 43 places in A.D. 51 We therefore take
Orosius as an authority for dating the commencement of the famine in 45. Josephus mentions the
famine as having occurred while Tiberius Alexander was procurator of Judea; and there is
general agreement that Alexander’s administration lasted from 46 to 48: though the time when it
began was not absolutely certain, July 45 is the earliest admissible date, and 46 is far more
probable: his predecessor Cuspius Fadus was sent by Claudius in 44, and a good deal occurred
during his office. But Josephus also mentions the famine in connection with Queen Helena’s
arrival in 45. Helena, however, seems to have remained a considerable time, and Josephus’s
words are in perfect accord with our view that scarcity began with a bad harvest in 45.
In the preceding chapter, Lightfoot’s view is quoted according to his edition of
Gal.=rGAL, where he says that Barnabas and Saul had come to Jerusalem and returned to
Antioch before Herod’s death. Since the chapter was in type, I notice that in a posthumous essay
"printed from lecture notes"he dates the famine 45; but that seems hardly consistent with his
edition, and as he republished his edition without change throughout his life, it must represent his
mature opinion. Perhaps he means that Paul and Barnabas brought the famine-money to
Jerusalem a year or more before the famine began, which we cannot accept as a natural or a
useful procedure.
Chapter IV. THE MISSIONARY JOURNEY OF BARNABAS AND SAUL
1 CYPRUS AND SALAMIS. (XIII 4) THEY ACCORDINGLY, BEING SENT FORTH
BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, CAME DOWN TO the harbour SELEUCEIA, AND THENCE
SAILED AWAY TO CYPRUS; (5) AND WHEN THEY REACHED SALAMIS THEY BEGAN
TO PROCLAIM THE WORD OF GOD IN THE SYNAGOGUES OF THE JEWS; AND THEY
HAD JOHN ALSO AS A SUBORDINATE. (6) AND THEY MADE A missionary PROGRESS
THROUGH THE WHOLE ISLAND UNTIL they reached PAPHOS.
The harbour is mentioned, according to Luke’s common custom (XIV 25, XVIII 18, XVI
11). When he has once mentioned the harbour of any city, he omits it on a subsequent occasion
(cp. XX 6 with XVI 11). The failure to name the harbour of Berea is remarkable (XVII 14);
doubtless there is some reason for it.
As they were able to make the harbour of Salamis, on the south coast, they were not
impeded by westerly winds, which commonly blew throughout the summer (see p. 298). With
such winds, they would have run for the Cilician coast, and worked along it westward with the
aid of land breezes and the current (p. 299), till they could run across to the north coast of
Cyprus, as Barnabas had to do on his next journey (if the Periodoi Barnab can be trusted). But
they probably started on the opening of the sailing season (March 5).
John Mark is brought before the reader’s notice here in a curiously incidental way. He
came with Barnabas and Saul from Antioch (see XII 25); why should he not be mentioned at the
outset? A superficial view might see want of method in this apparently haphazard reference to
the third traveller. But surely the object is to emphasise the secondary character of John Mark, in
view of what was to happen in Pamphylia: he was not essential to the expedition; he had not
been selected by the Spirit; he had not been formally delegated by the Church of Antioch; he was
an extra hand, taken by Barnabas and Saul on their own responsibility. This obviated the
criticism that the delegation consisted of three persons, and that Mark’s retirement from
Pamphylia was fatal to the official and representative character of the rest of the mission-a
criticism which may probably have been actually used in the subsequent rather bitter controversy
described in XV. This might have been formally and. expressly set forth at an earlier stage; but
the historian briefly expresses it by saying nothing about John Mark until he appears incidentally
as a supernumerary and subordinate. The silence is singularly expressive, and therefore carefully
calculated.
There must have been a large Jewish colony in Salamis, with more synagogues than one.
Cypriote Jews are often mentioned in Acts IV 36, XI 20, XXI 16); and Barnabas himself was a
Cypriote. The practice of Saul always had been to go first to the synagogues; and up to the
present time there is no reason to think that he had directly addressed the Gentiles except as
hearers in the synagogue.
His procedure here is exactly as at Damascus, where he proceeded to preach in the
synagogues immediately after his conversion (IX 20). It was right that the first offer should be
addressed to the Jews (XIII 46). Moreover he was always sure of a good opening for his Gentile
mission among the "God-fearing,"who formed part of his audience in every synagogue.
In v. 6 how briefly the work of a considerable period is summed up! Four Greek words
(dielqovnte" o{lhn th;n nh’son) contain all that is said about a missionary journey throughout the
island. We understand from this brevity that there was no important fact for the historian’s
purpose. The passage is a typical one: the same formula occurs with slight variations in many
later parts of the narrative; and in this first case its meaning is specially clear, so that it throws its
light on all the subsequent examples (which is, of course, intended by the historian). Doubtless
the process which has just been described at Salamis is intended to apply everywhere. In each
city where there was a settlement of Jews, the missionaries preached in the synagogue.
Further, the Cypriote Jews were not unfavourable to the new teaching. The influence and
example of Barnabas were naturally effective with his fellow-countrymen. Moreover, the Word
had already been preached in Cyprus not long after Stephen’s martyrdom XI 19=rAC 11:19, and
converts had been made. There was therefore a small audience ready to listen to the travelling
preachers in several, perhaps in all, of the Cyprian cities. Finally, the doctrine that was preached
was probably not such as to rouse strong feeling among the Jews; and, so long as the Gentiles
were not specially appealed to and set on an equality with the Jews, the early Pauline teaching is
not said to have caused more ill-will than the preaching of the older Apostles.
But we may also probably make some negative inferences. There was no specially
marked effect; no sign of the Divine guidance or power was manifested; and the address was
made only through the synagogues and nowhere directly to the Gentiles. These are the points on
which the historian always lays special stress; signs of the Divine power were the guarantee of
Paul’s Divine mission, and the steps by which Paul turned more and more decidedly to the
Gentiles marked the stages in history as Luke conceived it.
We conclude, then, that thesilence observed with regard to the Cyprian evangelisation is
not due to mere ignorance on the part of the historian or to want of authorities, but to deliberate
plan. On the scale on which his work was planned, and his incidents selected, there was nothing
more to say.
The Apostles are said to have made a preaching tour through the whole island. In a writer
so sparing of words as Luke, the addition of the word "whole"is important. We cannot press it so
far as to suppose that they went through every place in the island. Its force may probably be best
seen by supposing it were omitted: in that case the Greek (dielqovntes th;n nh’son a[cri Pavfou)
would permit the interpretation that after landing at Salamis they went along the direct road to
Paphos, preaching at convenient places. The word "whole"is probably intended to bring out
clearly that they made a complete tour of the Jewish communities in the island, preaching in each
synagogue.
2. PAPHOS. (XIII 6=rAC 13:6) AND WHEN THEY HAD GONE THROUGH THE
WHOLE ISLAND UNTO PAPHOS, THEY FOUND A CERTAIN MAN, MAGlAN, PROPHET
OF LIES, JEW, BY NAME BAR-JESUS, (7=rAC 13:7) WHO WAS IN THE COMPANY OF
THE PROCONSUL, SERGIUS PAULUS, A MAN OF UNDERSTANDING. THE
PROCONSUL SUMMONED TO HIS PRESENCE BARNABAS AND SAUL, AND SOUGHT
*TO HEAR THE WORD OF GOD. (8=rAC 13:8) AND THERE STOOD FORTH AGAINST
THEM THE MAGlAN, ETOIMAS (Son Of the Ready), FOR SO IS THIS NAME
TRANSLATED, SEEKING TO DIVERT THE PROCONSUL FROM THE FAITH. (9=rAC
13:9) BUT SAUL, OTHERWISE PAUL, FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, LOOKED
FIXEDLY AT HIM, (10=rAC 13:10) AND SAID, "O FULL OF ALL GUILE AND ALL
VILLANY, THOU SON OF THE DEVIL, THOU ENEMY OF ALL RIGHTEOUSNESS, WILT
THOU NOT CEASE TOPERVERT THE RIGHT WAYS OF THE LORD? (11=rAC 13:11)
AND NOW, BEHOLD THE HAND OF THE LORD IS UPON THEE, AND THOU SHALT BE
BLIND, NOT SEEING THE SUN FOR A SEASON."AND IMMEDIATELY THERE FELL ON
HIM A MIST AND A DARKNESS; AND HE WENT ABOUT SEEKING SOME TO LEAD
HIM BY THE HAND. (12=rAC 13:12) THEN THE PROCONSUL, WHEN HE SAW WHAT
WAS DONE, BELIEVED, BEING STRUCK TO THE HEART AT THE TEACHING OF THE
LORD.
We notice, first, the accuracy of the title proconsul, applied to the governor of Cyprus.
The remarkable incident that follows is connected with a definite individual, who is named and
characterised. He was Sergius Paulus, a man of ability.*f11A Greek inscription of Soloi*f12on
the north coast of Cyprus is dated "in the proconsulship of Paulus,"who probably is the same
governor that played a part in the strange and interesting scene now to be described.
The order and style of narrative adopted in this incident is noteworthy in itself, and
instructive in regard to the author’s plan and his conception of history. He directs the reader’s
attention first to the prominent figure round whom the incident is centred: "in Paphos they found
a certain Bar-jesus ". Nothing is said about the length of residence in Paphos, nor about the
conduct of the missionaries in the earlier part of their visit. Before anything else is mentioned
about Paphos, Bar-jesus is named, and then it is explained who he was and how the missionaries
came in contact with him. The order of narrative does not follow the order of time, but is guided
by the special interest felt by the .author, i.e., he seizes first the detail or the personage that is
most important in his eyes.
If we attempt, to follow the order of development in time, the incident might be thus
described. The missionaries came to Paphos. There they began preaching in the synagogues as
they had done in other cities. They soon acquired notoriety and were talked about
through the
city; and the report about these strangers who were teaching a new kind of philosophy reached
the Roman governor’s ears. The governor was a highly educated man, interested in science and
philosophy; and his attention was caught by the report of the two strangers, who were giving
public teaching in rhetoric and moral philosophy (p. 271).
Travellers of that class were well known at the time. Those who aimed at high rank and
fame as teachers of philosophy often travelled through the great cities of the Empire, giving
public demonstrations of their skill: thus they became famous, and were accepted finally in some
of the great universities as established teachers and Professors of Philosophy or Morals.
The governor, Sergius Paulus, then invited or commanded a Roman proconsul’s invitation
was equivalent to a command-the two travellers to his court, and sought to hear a specimen of
their skill and a demonstration of their philosophy on the subject which, as he had been
informed, was their favourite topic, the nature of God and His action towards human beings. The
exposition which they gave seemed to him striking and excellent; and the marked effect which it
produced on him was apparent to all who were in his train (who in Roman language would be
termed his comites). Among these was a Jew, Etoimas Bar-jesus by name, a man skilled in the
lore and the uncanny arts and strange powers of the Median priests or . On v. 6=rAC 13:6see p.
115.
It is often said that the governor was "under the influence of"the Magian; implying the
view that the mind of Sergius Paulus was dominated by Bar-jesus, but that the Roman, deeply
impressed by the way in which Paul seemed to overpower the Magian, recognised the new
master as more powerful than the old, and thus passed under the influence of a better teacher.
This account seems to me not to be consistent with the text, and to give a far too unfavourable
conception of the governor’s character; while it certainly conveys rather a vulgar idea of the way
in which Paul’s teaching first affected the Roman world. According to the conception of Luke’s
method as a historian, which guides us in this attempt to realise the facts, the words of Acts
require a different interpretation. The author, who is singularly delicate, concise, and appropriate
in his use of language, would not have praised Sergius Paulus as "a man of understanding,"when
describing the relation in which the Magian stood to him, if he had understood that the Roman
was "under the influence of"the false prophet. Either we must say that the author scatters his
words heedlessly on the page, or we must understand that these words of praise coming at that
precise point exclude any idea of weak submission to the strong personality of the Magian.
Moreover the Greek words express the simple fact that the Magian was one of the train of
comiteswho always accompanied a Roman governor. Some of these were personal friends who
came with him from Rome, others were young Romans of rank who thus gained an insight into
administrative life (which as yet they were too young to enter on), others were in official
attendance on the governor, and others were provincials, men of letters or of scientific
knowledge or of tastes and habits that rendered them agreeable or useful to the great man.
There is also no reason to think that the Magian was an inmate of the proconsul’s house.
The words do not imply that; and the facts in no way suggest it.
3. THE MAGIAN AND THE APOSTLE. To us the Roman governor is the prominent
figure in this scene; and his attitude towards the new teaching is what interests us most. But in
the estimation of Luke, the Magian is the most important character, next to Paul; and therefore
the reader’s attention is directed first upon him. His prominence is perhaps due to different
estimate of historical importance: ancient views on this subject differ from modern. But is it not
more probable that Luke is justified in his view? It is clear that the Magian was here the
representative of a System and a religion; and that his discomfiture was in itself a wide-reaching
triumph. He is Commonly said to be a magician, a mere "Jewish impostor"; and he is compared
to the modern gipsy teller of fortunes. Such comparisons, while having a certain element of truth,
are misleading, and give a false idea of the influence exerted on the Roman world by Oriental
personages like this Magian. The Magian represented in his single personality both the modern
fortune-teller and the modern man of science; and he had a religious as well as a merely
superstitious aspect to the outer world.
No strict line could then be drawn between lawful honourable scrutinising of the secret
powers of Nature and illicit attempts to pry into them for selfish ends, between science and
magic, between chemistry and alchemy, between astronomy and astrology. The two sides of
investigation passed by hardly perceptible degrees into one another: and the same man might be
by times amagician, by times the forerunner of Newton and Thomson (Lord Kelvin). It was not
possible in the infancy of knowledge to know where lay the bounds between the possible and the
impossible, between the search for the philosopher’s stone or the elixir of life and the
investigation of the properties of argon or the laws of biology. It was not possible then: he would
be rash who would say that it is possible now. A writer may venture on many prophecies about
the future of science today, for which he would have been ridiculed as an impostor or a dreamer
twenty years ago; and doubtless there are things he must not say now, which will be said soon.
It is certain that the priests of some Eastern religions possessed very considerable
knowledge of the powers and processes of nature; and that they were able to do things that either
were, or seemed to be, marvellous. Which of these alternatives was trueis a point on which
individual judgments will vary widely; but ray own experience makes me believe that, sofar as
influence over human or animal nature and life was concerned, their powers were wonderful. It is
natural that the Magian’s knowledge and powers should have made him a striking and interesting
personality; and a person like the proconsul, keenly interested in nature and philosophy, would
enjoy his society.
The influence of this Eastern religion-one nature with many varieties-was widely spread;
and it was inevitable that the new religion, which was strongly opposed to its methods of
dominating itsvotaries and crushing their personality and individuality, should often be brought
in collision with its teachers. Bar-jesus represented the strongest influence on the human will that
existed in the Roman world, an influence which must destroy or be destroyed by Christianity, if
the latter tried to conquer the Empire. Herein lies the interest of this strange scene; and we cannot
wonder that to Luke, familiar with the terrible power of that religion, the Magian seemed the
prominent figure round whom the action moved.
At Philippi, and at Ephesus also, collisions took place between the two influences, of
slavery and of freedom for the human mind; but neither was so impressive as this at Paphos.
It is characteristic of the simple and natural evolution of the incidents, that no calculation
of these great issues is represented as influencing the drama. Human action is swayed for the
most part by trivial motives; and the Magian here was actuated chiefly by the fear of losing his
prominent place in the governors train. His position as friend and associate (amicus and comes
were the technical terms to denote his position) of the governor was an honourable one,
gratifying at once to ambition, to vanity, and to worse passions. In this position he could learn a
great deal about people and events. In the East it is always believed that the governor’s friend
may influence his judgment; and every suppliant, every litigant, and every criminal tries to
propitiate or to bribe the friend. We cannot tell in what proportion the more noble and the baser
motives were mixed in the Magian’s mind; but they all lie on the surface of the situation, and
each had doubtless some effect on him. He saw in the new teachers mere rivals trying to supplant
him; and human nature could not accept defeat without a struggle.
Another point of method to note in the narrative is that no reason is stated for the
Magian’s opposition. It is a general rule throughout Acts that facts alone are stated, and causes
left to the reader to gather from the facts: the author sees the causes so clearly that he does not
think of stating them. In this case he even omits part of the sequence of facts: he does not say that
the Apostles expounded their views, but leaves the reader to understand that the proconsul’s
desire was obeyed; and the words of verses 8, 10 ("seeking to turn aside the proconsul from the
faith,"and "pervert the right ways of the Lord") imply that the exposition was made. Then we
may be certain that the Magian would not so far violate politeness and the
respect due to the
proconsul as to interrupt them, unless he had seen that a marked effect was produced on the
governor’s mind; and he interfered from fear that, if he did not put the strangers down or turn
them into ridicule, they might supplant himself in the governors society.
This view of the situation lies implicit in the text; and it is put explicitly by the Bezan
Reviser, who makes. Bar-jesus "stand forth in opposition to them, seeking to divert the proconsul
from the faith, because he was listening with much pleasure to them". If the added words are a
gloss, they are inserted with great skill and judgment. But to me they appear to be
an addition,
inserted to make the narrative simpler and easier: the author, as usual, left the reason unstated.
4. SAUL, OTHERWISE PAUL. The name Paul, here applied for the first time by the
historian to the person whom he has hitherto called Saul, has given rise to much discussion and
many theories. We shall not begin by theorising as to the names of this individual, but by
inquiring what was the meaning of that very common formula, "Saul, otherwise Paul"in the
society of the Eastern provinces; and shall then apply the results to this case.
The custom which was thus expressed seems to have originated in the bilingual
governments and countries of the later centuries B.C. (or, at least, to have become common and
familiar then). At that time Greece had gone forth to conquer the East; and a varnish of Greek
culture was spread over many non-Greek races, affecting the richer and the educated classes of
the natives, but hardly reaching the mass of the people. Then it was the fashion for every Syrian,
or Cilician, or Cappadocian, who prided himself on his Greek education and his knowledge of
the Greek language, to bear a Greek name; but at the same time he had his other name in the
native language, by which he was known among his countrymen in general. His two names were
the alternative, not the complement, of each other; and the situation and surroundings of the
moment, the rle which he was playing for the time being, determined which name he was called
by. In a Greek house he played the Greek, and bore the Greek name: in a company of natives, he
was the native, and bore the native name. He did not require both to complete his legal
designation, as a Roman required both nomen and prnomen. His Greek name, taken alone, was
a full legal designation in a Greek court.
This has an obvious bearing on the case of Saul, otherwise "Paul". In the earlier part of
this book he has been a Jew among Jews; and we have seen only his Hebrew name. Nothing has
hitherto transpired to show that he was anything but "Hebrew sprung from Hebrews". In Cyprus
he went through the country city by city, synagogue by synagogue: and he was the Jew in all. But
here he is in different surroundings: he stands in the hall of the proconsul, and he answers the
questions of the Roman official. The interview, doubtless, began, as all interviews between
strangers in the country still begin, with the round of questions: What is your name? (or who are
you? ) Whence come you? What is your business? The type is seen in the question of the
Cyclops to Ulysses (Odyssey IX 252): "Strangers, who are ye? Whence sail ye over the wet
ways? On some trading enterprise, or at adventure do ye rove? "
To these questions how would Saul answer? After his years of recent life as a Jew, filled
with the thought of a religion that originated among Jews, and was in his conception the
perfected form of Jewish religion, did he reply: "My name is Saul, and I am a Jew from Tarsus"?
First, let us see what he himself says as to his method of addressing an audience (I Cor. IX 20 f.),
"to the Jews I made myself as a Jew that I might gain Jews; to them that are under the law as
under the law (though not myself under the law); to them that are without the law as without the
law; I am become all things to all men; and I do all for the Gospel’s sake". We cannot doubt that
the man who wrote so to the Corinthians replied to the questions of Sergius Paulus, by
designating himself as a Roman, born at Tarsus, and named Paul. By a marvellous stroke of
historic brevity, the author sets before us the past and the present in the simple words: "Then
Saul, otherwise Paul, fixed his eyes on him and said"
The double character, the mixed personality, the Oriental teacher who turns out to be a
freeborn Roman, would have struck and arrested the attention of any governor, any person
possessed of insight into character, any one who had even an average share of curiosity. But to a
man with the tastes of Sergius Paulus, the Roman Jew must have been doubly interesting; and the
orator or the preacher knows how much is gained by arousing such an interest at the outset.
Coming forward in this character and name, Paul was taking a momentous step, the
importance of which was fully marked in the narrative. In the first place, he was taking the
leading place and guiding the tone of the interview instead of being, as heretofore, the
subordinate following Barnabas. Hence in the narrative we find that Barnabas introduced Saul to
the Apostles; Barnabas brought Saul to Antioch; Barnabas and Saul carried the Antiochian aims
to Jerusalem; Barnabas and Saul brought back John Mark with them from Jerusalem; Barnabas
was first and Saul last in the body of prophets and teachers of the Church at Antioch; Barnabas
and Saul were selected by the Spirit; and Barnabas and Saul were invited to the proconsul’s
presence. But now Paul took this new departure, and Paul and his company sailed away from
Paphos to Pamphylia; Paul and Barnabas addressed the Gentiles in Antioch; Paul and Barnabas
disputed with the Judaising party on their return to Syrian Antioch; and henceforth the regular
order places Paul first. There are only two exceptions to this rule, and these serve to bring out its
true character more clearly.
(1) In the Council at Jerusalem, and in the letter of the Apostles and Elders, XV 12, 25,
the order is Barnabas and Paul; but there we are among Jews, who follow the order of seniority
and Jewish precedence. The only surprising thing here is that they use the name Paul, not the
Hebrew Saul. We can only infer from that that the Greek-speaking Jews generally used the name
Paul (compare p. 169), and that the historian’s use of the name Saul in the earlier part of this
narrative was deliberately chosen to emphasise the contrast between Paul’s earlier and his later
manner.
(2) In the episode where the two Apostles were worshipped at Lystra, Barnabas is named
first as Zeus the chief god, and Paul next as Hermes the messenger. But the same qualities which
mark out Paul to us as the leader, marked him out to the populace of Lycaonia as the agent and
subordinate. The Western mind regards the leader as the active and energetic partner; but the
Oriental mind considers the leader to be the person who sits still and does nothing, while his
subordinates speak and work for him. Hence in the truly Oriental religions the chief god sits
apart from the world, communicating with it through his messenger and subordinate. The more
statuesque figure of Barnabas was therefore taken by the Orientals as the chief god, and the
active orator, Paul, as his messenger, communicating his wishes to men. Incidentally, we may
notice both the diametrical antithesis of this conception of the Divine nature to the Christian
conception, and also the absolute negation of the Oriental conception in Christ’s words to His
Disciples, "whosoever would become great among you shall be your minister;
and whosoever
would be first among you shall be your servant"(Matt. XX 26).
How delicate is the art which by simple change in the order of a recurring pair of names,
and by the slight touch at the critical. moment, "Saul, otherwise Paul,"suggests and reveals this
wide-reaching conception in Luke’s mind of historical development!
In the second place, when Paul thus came forward under his new aspect and personality,
he was inaugurating a new policy. He was appealing direct for the first time to the Grco-Roman
world as himself a member of that world. This is put plainly in XIV 27 as the great innovation
and the great fact of the journey: as soon as Paul and Barnabas returned to Syrian Antioch, they
made a report to the assembled Church "of all things that God had done with them, and how He
had opened a door of faith unto the Gentiles". The first Stage in the admission of the Gentiles to
the Christian Church was taken long before this journey. But the full implication of the
Apostolate to the Gentiles was not even by Paul himself realised for many years. The second
stage was achieved on this journey, and the historian fixes the psychological moment precisely at
the point where the Apostles faced the Magian in the presence of the proconsul of Cyprus. Amid
the conflict of the two religions before the Roman governor, Paul stepped forward in his
character of citizen of the Empire; and his act was followed by that transport of power, which
attested the grace that was given to the bold innovator, and the Divine approval and confirmation
of his step. On former occasions the grace that was evident in Antioch confirmed the high
character of the Antiochian Brotherhood in the eyes of Barnabas (Acts XI 23, and the grace that
was given Paul had justified his apostolate in the eyes of James, Peter and John (Gal II 9).
Such is the situation in which we stand when we transport ourselves in thought to the
time and the country where the events took place, and take the few brief words of Luke in the
sense which they bore to the men of his time. But now let us turn from this picture to see what is
made of the scene by the critic, who sits in his study and writes as if the men of this book were
artificial figures and not real human beings. Weizscker, one of the most distinguished of modern
German scholars, finds in this delicacy of language nothing but a sign of double authorship. The
late author, he says, used two earlier authorities, one of whom employed the name Saul, while the
other designated the Apostle as Paul, and by a mere conjecture he puts the change at this point.
Weizscker emphasises this view that the point was selected by an arbitrary conjecture, and that
any other point might have been chosen equally well. It might almost seem that, in a statement
like this, the learned professor is taking his fun off us, and is experimenting to see how much the
world will accept at the mouth of a deservedly famous scholar without rebelling.
Mr. Lewin states better than almost any other the force of this passage when he says:
"The dropping of the Jewish, and the adoption of a Roman name, was in harmony with the great
truth he was promulgating-that henceforth the partition between Jew and Gentile was broken
down". Hethen asks, "Why is not the name of Paul introduced when
he first left Antioch to
commence his travels?" and after he has in a rather hesitating way suggested some quite
unsuitable occasions as possible for the change, he rightly concludes, "It occurs more naturally
immediately after-wards when Saul stands forth by himself and becomes the principal actor"The
marvels described in Acts concern my present purpose only in so far as they bear upon the
historical effect of the narrative. In themselves they do not add to, but detract from its
verisimilitude as history. They are difficulties; but my hope is to show first that the narrative
apart from them is stamped as authentic, second that they are an integral part of it. To study and
explain them does not belong to me. Twenty years ago I found it easy to dispose of them; but
now-a-days probably not even the youngest among us finds himself able to maintain that we
have mastered the secrets of nature, and determined the limits which divide the unknown from
the impossible. That Paul believed himself to be the recipient of direct revelations from God, to
be guided and controlled in his plans by direct interposition of the Holy Spirit, to be enabled by
the Divine power to move the forces of nature in a way that ordinary men cannot, is involved in
this narrative. You must make up your own minds to accept or to reject it, but you cannot cut out
the marvellous from the rest, nor can you believe that either Paul or this writer was a mere victim
of hallucinations. To the men of that age only what was guaranteed by marvellous
accompaniments was true; to us unusual accompaniments tend to disprove truth. The contrast
between the ages is himmelweit.
The marvellous is indissolubly interwoven-for good or for bad-with this narrative, and
cannot be eliminated. Do the marvellous adjuncts discredit the rest of the narrative, or does the
vividness and accuracy of the narrative require us to take the marvels with the rest and try to
understand them? Every one must answer the question for himself.
Chapter V. FOUNDATION OF THE CHURCHES OF GALATIA
1. PAMPHYLIA. (XIII 13) AND PAUL AND HIS COMPANY SET SAIL FROM
PAPHOS AND CAME TO PERGA IN the province PAMPHILIA. AND JOHN DEPARTED
FROM THEM, AND RETURNED TO JERUSALEM; (14) BUT THEY WENT ACROSS
FROM PERGA AND ARRIVED AT PISIDIAN ANTIOCH.
The phrase "Perga of Pamphylia"is not intended to distinguish this Perga from others (cp.
XXI 39): there was no other city of the same name. Nor is it a mere piece of geographical
information: this historian has no desire .to teach the reader geography. The sense is "they
proceeded to Pamphylia, to the special point Perga"; and the intention is to define their next
sphere of work as being Pamphylia. This sense would have naturally been understood by every
one, were it not that no missionary work was actually done in Pamphylia, for the next fact
mentioned is that John left the party, and the others went on to Pisidian Antioch; and the
conclusion has sometimes been drawn hastily that Pamphylia had never been contemplated as a
mission-field, and was merely traversed because it lay between Cyprus and Antioch. But the
plain force of the words must be accepted here, for it lies in the situation that Pamphylia was the
natural continuation of the work that had been going on, first in Syria and Cilicia for many years,
and next in Cyprus. They went to Pamphylia to preach there, and, as they did not actually preach
there, something must have occurred to make them change their plan. Further, the reason for this
change of plan must have been merely a temporary one, for they preached in Pamphylia on their
return journey.
We are justified in connecting with this change of plan the one fact recorded about the
missionary party in Pamphylia: John left them in circumstances that made a deep and painful
impression on Paul, and remained rankling in his mind for years (XV 38). The historian places
together in a marked way the departure of John and the onward journey of the others without
preaching in Pamphylia. Now, as we have seen, it does not lie in this historian’s manner to state
reasons; he rarely says that one event was the cause of another, but merely states the facts side by
side, and leaves the reader to gather for himself the causal connection between them.
Other reasons, which need not be repeated here, point to the same conclusion, that a
change of plan was the reason why John abandoned the expedition. He conceived that the new
"proposal was a departure from the scheme"with which they had been charged, "carrying their
work into a region different in character and not contemplated by the Church".
Further, we observe that the country between Perga and Pisidian Antioch is not
mentioned; the journey is not even summed up briefly as the Cyprian journey between Salamis
and Paphos was described (XIII 6): it is simply said that "they went across (the intervening
mountain lands of Taurus) to Antioch,"as in XVIII 27 Apollos "conceived the intention to go
across (the intervening ˘gean Sea) to Achaia". On our hypothesis that the narrative is singularly
exact in expression, and that the slightest differences are significant, we gather that the journey to
Antioch was a mere traversing of the country without preaching, with the view of reaching
Antioch. On the other hand, it is stated that the return journey some years later from Antioch to
Perga was a preaching journey, though no marked effects are recorded on it.
Again, it is a rule in this historian’s clear and practical style, that when Paul is entering (or
intending, even though unsuccessfully, to enter) a new field of missionary enterprise, the field is
defined (as in v.4); and the definition usually takes the form of a Roman provincial district. This
will become apparent as the narrative proceeds, and the inferences that can be drawn from the
form of definition or absence of definition in each case will illustrate and give precision to the
rule. It is, I believe, a fair inference from the want of any indication of a wider sphere that when
the travellers went to Pisidian Antioch, they had not in mind a wider field of work than the city:
they went to Pisidian Antioch and not to the province Galatia, in which it was included.
The name is rightly given as Pisidian Antioch in the great MSS.; the form "Antioch of
Pisidia"is a corruption. Besides other reasons, Antioch was not considered by Luke to be in
Pisidia (p. 124).
The facts, then, which can be gathered from the narrative of Acts are these. Paul and his
companions came to Perga with the view of evangelising the next country on their route, a
country similar in character to and closely. connected in commerce and racial type with Cyprus
and Syria and Cilicia. For some reason the plan was altered, and they passed rapidly over the
Pamphylian lowlands and the Pisidian mountain-lands to Antioch, postponing the evangelisation
of these districts till a later stage of their journey. They went to Antioch for some reason which
concerned only that city, and did not contemplate as their object the evangelisation of the
province to which it belonged. John, however, refused to participate in the changed programme,
presumably because he disapproved of it. His refusal seems to have been felt as a personal slight
by Paul, which suggests that the change of plan was in some way caused by Paul. What then was
the reason? Is any clue to it given in any other part of Acts or in the words of Paul himself?
In passing from Perga to Pisidian Antioch, the travellers passed from the Roman province
Pamphylia to the Roman province Galatia, and the rest of their journey lay in Galatia until they
returned to Perga. Now, we possess a letter written by Paul to the Churches of Galatia, in which
he says: "Ye know that it was by reason of physical infirmity that I preached the Gospel unto you
on the first-of-my-two visits; and the facts of my bodily constitution which were trying to you
were not despised nor rejected by you, but ye received me as a messenger of God". We learn,
then, from Paul himself that an illness (we may confidently say a serious illness) was the
occasion of his having originally preached to the churches of Galatia. The words do not
necessarily imply that the illness began in Galatia; they are quite consistent with the
interpretation that the illness was the reason why he came to be in Galatia and had the
opportunity of preaching there; but they imply that the physical infirmity lasted for some
considerable time, and was apparent to strangers, while he was in Galatia.
Here we have a reason, stated by Paul himself, which fully explains all the curious
phenomena of the text of Acts . Paul had a serious illness in Pamphylia, and on that account he
left Perga and went to Antioch. It is unnecessary to repeat the argument that this is in perfect
agreement with the known facts. Any constitutional weakness was liable to be brought out by
"the sudden plunge into the enervating atmosphere of Pamphylia"after the fatigue and hardship
of a journey on foot through Cyprus, accompanied by the constant excitement of missionary
work, culminating in the intense nervous strain of the supreme effort at Paphos. The natural and
common treatment for such an illness is to go to the higher ground of the interior; and the
situation of Antioch (about 3600 ft. above the sea, sheltered by mountains on the north and east,
and overlooking a wide plain to the south and south-west), as well as its Jewish population, and
commercial connection with the Pamphylian coast-cities, made it a very suitable place for Paul’s
purpose.
But why then did the historian not state this simple fact? It lies out of his purpose and
method to notice such personal details. He states in the briefest possible form the essential facts
of the evangelisation of the world; and everything else he passes over as of ephemeral nature. We
are dealing with a first century, and not a nineteenth century historian,-one who had not the eager
desire to understand causes and reasons which characterises the present day, one who wrote for a
public that was quite satisfied with a statement of facts without a study of causes. There is too
much tendency to demand from the first century writers an answer to all the questions we should
like to put.
Moreover, Luke passes very lightly over the sufferings and the dangers that Paul
encountered; many he omits entirely, others he mentions without emphasising the serious nature
of the case (p. 279 f.).
It is plain that Paul at the moment felt deeply wounded. The journey which he felt to be
absolutely necessary in the interests of future work was treated by Mark as an abandonment of
the work; and his sensitive nature would consider Mark’s arguments, plausible as they were in
some respects, as equivalent to a declaration of want of confidence. But that feeling, though it
lasted for some years, was not of the permanent nature which would put it on the same plane as
the facts recorded by Luke. Who can think that Paul would have desired permanent record of his
illness and Mark’s desertion? And his desire on a matter personal to himself would be Luke’s law.
2.THE "THORN IN THE FLESH". The character of the Pamphylian country, not merely
in its modern half-cultivated condition, but at all times, must have been enervating and calculated
to bring out any latent weakness of constitution. Now it is a probable and generally accepted
view that the "physical weakness,"which was the occasion why Paul preached to the Galatians,
was the same malady which tormented him at frequent intervals. I have suggested that this
malady was a species of chronic malaria fever; and, in view of criticisms, it is necessary to dwell
on this point; for I have incurred the blame of exaggerating an ephemeral attack. The question is
put whether such an illness "could reasonably have called forth their contempt and loathing.*
A physical weakness, which recurs regularly in some situation that one is regularly
required by duty to face, produces strong and peculiar effect on our human nature. An attentive
student of mankind has caught this trait and described it clearly in one of the characters whom
his genius has created. I quote from Charles Reade’s description of a clergyman engaged in
warfare against the barbarity of prison discipline, upon whom every scene of cruelty which he
had often to witness produced a distressing physical effect, sickness and trembling. "His
hightuned nature gave way. He locked the door that no one might see his weakness; and, then,
succumbing to nature, he fell first into a sickness and then into a trembling, and more than once
hysterical tears gushed from his eyes in the temporary prostration of his spirit and his powers.
Such are the great. Men know their feats, but not their struggles. The
feeling of shame at this
weakness is several times described in the course of the narrative (It is Never too Late to Mend);
and, when at last nature, on the verge of a more serious physical prostration, ceased to relieve
itself in this painful way, "he thanked Heaven for curing him of that contemptible infirmity, so he
called it". Yet that weakness did not prevent the sufferer from facing his duty, but only came on
as a consequence; and it could be hidden within the privacy of his chamber. Let the reader
conceive the distress and shame of the sufferer, if the weakness had prostrated him before his
duty was finished, and laid him helpless before them all when he required his whole strength.
Surely he would have "besought the Lord that it might depart from"him, and regarded it as "a
messenger of Satan sent to buffet him"(II Cor. XII 7, 8).
Now, in some constitutions malaria fever tends to recur in very distressing and prostrating
paroxysms, whenever one’s energies are taxed for a great effort. Such an attack is for the time
absolutely incapacitating: the sufferer can only lie and feel himself a shaking and helpless
weakling, when he ought to be at work. He feels a contempt and loathing for self, and believes
that others feel equal contempt and loathing.
Charles Reade’s hero could at least retire to his room, and lock the door, and conceal his
weakness from others; but, in the publicity of Oriental life, Paul could have no privacy. In every
paroxysm, and they might recur daily, he would lie exposed to the pity or the contempt of
strangers. If he were first seen in a Galatian village, or house, lying in the mud on the shady side
of a wall for two hours shaking like an aspen leaf, the gratitude that he expresses to the
Galatians, because they "did not despise nor reject his infirmity,"was natural and deserved.
Fresh light is thrown on this subject by an observation of Mr. Hogarth, my companion in
many journeys. In publishing a series of inscriptions recording examples of punishment inflicted
by the God on those who had approached the sanctuary in impurity, he suggests that malarial
fever was often the penalty sent by the God. The paroxysms, recurring suddenly with
overpowering strength, and then passing off, seemed to be due to the direct visitation of God.
This gives a striking effect to Paul’s words in Gal. IV 14, "you did not despise nor reject my
physical infirmity, but received me as an angel of God": though the Galatians might have turned
him away from their door as a person accursed and afflicted by God, they received him as God’s
messenger. The obvious implication of this passage has led many to the view that Paul’s malady
was epilepsy, which was also attributed to the direct visitation of God.
A strong corroboration is found in the phrase: "a stakein the flesh,"which Paul uses about
his malady (II Cor. XII 7)- That is the peculiar headache which accompanies theparoxysms:
within my experience several persons, innocentof Pauline theorising, have described it as "like a
red-hotbar thrust through the forehead". As soon as fever con-neeted itself with Paul in my mind,
the "stake in the flesh"impressed me as a strikingly illustrative metaphor; and theoldest tradition
on the subject, quoted by Tertullian andothers, explains the"stake in the flesh "as headache.
The malady was a "messenger of Satan". Satan seemsto represent in Pauline language any
overpowering obstacleto his work, an obstacle which it was impossible to struggleagainst: so
Satan prevented him from returning to Thessalonica, in the form of an ingenious obstacle, which
made his return impossible for the time (p. 230). Thewords "messenger sent to buffet me,"imply
that it camefrequently and unexpectedly, striking him down with the power of the Enemy.
The idea that the malady was an affection of the eyes, resulting from blinding at his
conversion, seems inadequate in itself, unsuitable to his own words, and contradicted bythe
evidence as to the power of his eyes (p. 38).
Paul describes the malady as sent to prevent him from "being exalted overmuch by reason
of the exceedinggreatness of the revelations"which had been granted tohim; and he clearly
implies that it came later than thegreat revelation, when "he was caught up even to the
thirdheaven"about 43 A.D. (p. 60). The malady certainly didnot begin long before this journey;
and the attack in Pam-phylia may perhaps have been the first
3. THE SYNAGOGUE IN PISIDIAN ANTIOCH. (XIII 13) JOHN DEPARTED FROM
THEM AND RETURNED TO JERUSALEM; (14) BUT THEY WENT ACROSS FROM
PERGA AND ARRIVED AT PISIDIAN ANTIOCH. AND THEY WENT INTO THE
SYNAGOGUE ON THE SABBATH DAY, AND SAT DOWN; (15) AND AFTER THE
READING OF THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS, THE ARCHISYNAGOGOI SENT TO
THEM SAYING, "GENTLEMEN, BRETHREN, IF THERE IS IN YOU A WORD OF
ENCOURAGEMENT TO THE PEOPLE, SAY ON". (16) AND PAUL STOOD UP AND
MADE A GESTURE WITH HIS HAND AND SPOKE ( (42) AND AS THEY WENT OUT,
THEY BESOUGHT THAT THESE WORDS MIGHT BE SPOKEN TO THEM THE NEXT
SABBATH. (43) NOW, WHEN THE SYNAGOGUE BROKE UP, MANY OF THE JEWS
AND OF THE GOD-FEARING PROSELYTES FOLLOWED PAUL AND BARNABAS:
WHO, SPEAKING TO THEM, URGED THEM TO CONTINUE IN THE GRACE OF GOD.
(44) AND THE NEXT SABBATH ALMOST THE WHOLE CITY WAS GATHERED
TOGETHER TO HEAR THE WORD OF GOD. (45) BUT WHEN THE JEWS SAW THE
MULTITUDES, THEY WERE FILLED WITH JEALOUSY, AND CONTRADICTED THE
THINGS WHICH WERE SPOKEN BY PAUL, AND BLASPHEMED. (46) AND PAUL AND
BARNABAS SPAKE OUT BOLDLY AND SAID, "IT WAS NECESSARY THAT THE
WORD OF GOD SHOULD FIRST BE SPOKEN TO YOU. SEEING YE THRUST IT FROM
YOU, AND JUDGE YOURSELVES UNWORTHY OF ETERNAL LIFE, LO, WE TURN TO
THE GENTILES.". . . (48) AND AS THE GENTILES HEARD THIS, THEY WERE GLAD
AND GLORIFIED THE WORD OF GOD: AND AS MANY AS WERE ORDAINED TO
ETERNAL LIFE BELIEVED. (49) AND THE WORD OF THE LORD WAS SPREAD
ABROAD THROUGHOUT ALL THE REGION.( 50) BUT THE JEWS URGED ON THE•
DEVOUT WOMENOF HONOURABLE ESTATE, AND THE CHIEF MEN OF THE CITY,
AND STIRRED UP A PERSECUTION AGAINST PAUL AND BARNABAS, AND CAST
THEM OUT OF THEIR BORDERS. (51) BUT THEY SHOOK OFF THE DUST OF THEIR
FEET AGAINST THEM, AND CAME UNTO ICONIUM. (52) AND THE DISCIPLES WERE
FILLED WITH JOY AND WITH THE HOLY GHOST.
The route between Perga and Pisidian Antioch, with its perils of rivers, perils of robbers,
and the later legend connected with the journey across the Pisidian mountains by the city which
still bears the Apostle’s name, is described elsewhere, and need not here detain us.
The usual punctuation of vv. 13, 14, seems to arise from the idea that Paul’s sermon was
delivered on the first Sabbath after he reached Antioch. So, Conybeare and Howson say, "a
congregation came together at Antioch on the Sabbath which immediately succeeded the arrival
of Paul and Barnabas". It seems, however, not possible that such powerful effect as is described
in v. 44 should have been produced on the whole city within the first ten days after they arrived
in Antioch. Moreover, when Paul’s teaching had become more definite and pronounced, he
preached three successive Sabbaths to the Jews at Thessalonica (p. 228), and it seems implied
that the rupture took place there unusually soon; hence, at this time, when he had been preaching
for years in the Jewish synagogues of Cilicia, Syria and Cyprus, it is improbable that the quarrel
with the Jews of Antioch took place on the second Sabbath.
But, when the passage is properly punctuated, there remains nothing to show that Paul’s
speech was delivered on his first Sabbath in Antioch. Nothing is said as to the first days of the
Apostles’stay in the city. We are to understand, according to the rule already observed (p. 72 f.),
that the usual method was pursued, and that some time passed before any critical event took
place. As at Paphos, the fame of the new teachers gradually spread through the city. The
historian gives an address to the synagogue with an outline of the teaching which produced this
result; the address delivered on a critical Sabbath, after feeling had already been moved for some
time, may well have remained in the memory or in the manuscript diary of some of the interested
hearers, and thus been preserved. We make it part of our hypothesis that Luke took his task as a
historian seriously, and obtained original records where he could.
Paul’s address to the assembled Jews and proselytes was doubtless suggested by the
passages, one from the Law, one from the Prophets, which were read before he was called to
speak. It has been conjectured that these passages were Deut. I and Isaiah I, . which in the
Septuagint Version contain two marked words employed by Paul: the Scriptures were probably
read in Greek in this synagogue of Grecised Jews (see pp. 84, 169). Deut. I naturally suggests the
historical retrospect with which Paul begins; and the promise of remission of sins rises naturally
out of Isaiah I 18. Dean Farrar mentions that "in the present list of Jewish lessons, Deut. I-III 22
and Isaiah I 1-22 stand forty-fourth in order". That list is of decidedly later origin; but probably it
was often determined by older custom and traditional ideas of suitable accompaniment.
The climax of the address passed from the historical survey (with its assurance of
unfailing Divine guidance for the Chosen People) to the sending of Jesus, who had been slain by
the rulers of Jerusalem ("because they knew Him not, nor the voices of the prophets which are
read every Sabbath,"v. 27), but whom God had raised from the dead. Then follow the promise
and the peroration(XIII 38) BE IT KNOWN UNTO YOU THEREFORE, BRETHREN, THAT THROUGH
THIS MAN IS PROCLAIMED UNTO YOU REMISSION OF SINS; (39) AND BY HIM
EVERY ONE THAT BELIEVETH IS JUSTIFIED FROM ALL THINGS, FROM WHICH YE
COULD NOT BE JUSTIFIED BY THE LAW OF MOSES. (40) BEWARE, THEREFORE,
LEST THAT COME UPON YOU, WHICH IS SPOKEN IN THE PROPHETS; "BEHOLD, YE
DESPISERS, AND WONDER, AND PERISH; FOR I WORK A WONDER IN YOUR DAYS".
This outspoken declaration that the Judaic system was superseded by a higher message
from God is not said to have hurt the feelings of the Jews who were present. Paul was invited to
continue his discourse on the following Sabbath; many of the audience, both Jews and
proselytes, followed the Apostles from the synagogue; and both Paul and Barnabas addressed
them further, and emphasised the effect of the previous address.
There must have been something in the situation or in the supplementary explanations
given by Paul and Barnabas, which made his words specially applicable to the Gentiles; and a
vast crowd of the citizens gathered to hear Paul on the following week. Paul’s address on this
occasion is not given. It was in all probability addressed pointedly to the Antiochians, for violent
opposition and contradiction and jealousy were roused among the Jews. We may fairly infer that
the open door of belief for the whole world irrespective of race was made a prominent topic; for
the passion which animated the Jewish opposition is said to have been jealousy. The climax of a
violent scene was the bold declaration of Paul and Barnabas that they "turned to the Gentiles,
since the Jews rejected the Gospel".
In this scene the same fact that was observed at Paphos came out prominently. The eager
interest and the invitation of the general population stimulated Paul; and his ideas developed
rapidly. The first thoroughly Gentile congregation separate from the synagogue was established
at Pisidian Antioch. Where he saw no promise of success, he never persisted; but where "a door
was opened unto him,"he used the opportunity (I Cor. XVI 9, II Cor. II 12). The influence
attributed to the women at Antioch, v. 50, is in perfect accord with the manners of the country. In
Athens or in an Ionian city, it would have been impossible (p. 252).
4. THE CHURCH AT PISIDIAN ANTIOCH. The deep impression that had already been
produced on the general population of Antioch was intensified when the preaching of Paul and
Barnabas began to be addressed to them directly and exclusively. The effect was now extended
to the whole Region. This term does not indicate the lands immediately around the fortifications
of Antioch, and belonging to that city. The free population of those lands were citizens of
Antioch; and the term "city,"according to the ancient idea, included the entire lands that belonged
to it, and not the mere space covered by continuous houses and a fortified wail. "A city was not
walls, but men;"and the saying had a wider and more practical meaning to the ancients than is
generally taken from it in modern times. The phrase that is here used, "the whole
Region,"indicates some distinct and recognised circle of territories.
Here we have a fact of administration and government. assumed in quiet undesigned
fashion:Antioch was the centre of a Region. This is the kind of allusion which affords to students
of ancient literature a test of accuracy, and often a presumption of date. I think that, if we put this
assumption to the test, we shall find (1) that it is right, (2) that it adds a new fact, probable in
itself but not elsewhere formally stated, about the Roman administration of Galatia, (3) that it
explains and throws new light on several passages in ancient authors and inscriptions. Without
discussing the subject too elaborately, we may point out the essentials.
My friend Prof. Sterrett, of Amherst, Massachusetts, has discovered and published an
inscription of Antioch, which speaks of a "regionary centurion"(eJkatontavrchn rJegewnavrion),
evidently a military official charged with certain duties (probably in the maintenance of peace
and order) within a certain Regio of which Antioch was the centre.
Partly to guard against a possible objection, partly to show how much may depend on
accuracy in a single letter, it may be added that Prof. Sterrett in publishing this inscription makes
a conjectural alteration, which would deprive us of the help that the inscription gives. He prints
(l)egewnavrion but this is an arbitrary change in violation of his own copy.
Thus we have epigraphic authority to prove that Antioch under the Roman administration
was the centre of a Region. Further, we can determine the extent and the name of that Region,
remembering always that in a province like Galatia, where evidence is lamentably scanty, we
must often be content with reasonable probability, and rarely find such an inscription as Prof.
Sterrett’s to put us on a plane of demonstrated certainty.
It is natural in the administration of so large a province as Galatia, and there are some
recorded proofs, that a certain number of distinct Regiones (or cw’rai) existed in Southern
Galatia. To quote the exact names recorded, we have Phrygia or Frugiva cwvra,Isauria or j
jIsaurikh; (cwvra), Pisidia, Lycaonia or Galatikh; cwvra (with th’" Lukanoivas understood,
denoting the Roman part of Lycaonia in contrast with Lycaonia Antiochiana or jAntiocianh;
cwvra the part of Lycaonia ruled by King Antiochus). There can be no doubt that Pisidian
Antioch (strictly "a Phrygian city towards Pisidia") was the centre of the Region called Phrygia
in inscriptions enumerating the parts of the province, and "the Phrygian Region of (the province)
Galatia"in Acts XVI 6, or "the Phrygian Region"XVIII 23. This central importance of Antioch
was due to its position as a Roman Colony, which made it the military and administrative centre
of the country.
Thus, without any formal statement, and without any technical term, but in the course of a
bare, simple and brief account of the effects of Paul’s preaching, we find ourselves unexpectedly
(just as Paul and Barnabas found themselves unintentionally) amid a Roman provincial district,
which is moved from the centre to the extremities by the new preaching. It is remarkable how the
expression of Luke embodies the very soul of history (p. 200).
A certain lapse of time, then, is implied in the brief words of v. 49. The process whereby
the whole region was influenced by the Word must have been a gradual one. The similar
expression used in XIX 10 may serve as a standard of comparison: there, during a period of two
years in Ephesus, "all they which dwelt in Asia heard the Word". The sphere of influence is
immensely wider in that case; but the process is the same. Persons from the other cities came to
Antioch as administrative centre, the great garrison city, which was often visited by the Roman
governor and was the residence of some subordinate officials: they came for law-suits, for trade,
for great festivals of the Roman unity (such as that described in the Acta of Paul and Thekla).* In
Antioch they heard of the new doctrine; some came under its influence; the knowledge of it was
thus borne abroad over the whole territory; probably small knots of Christians were formed in
other towns.
How long a period of time is covered by v. 49 we cannot tell with certainty; but it must be
plain to every one that the estimate of the whole residence at Antioch as two to six months, is, as
is elsewhere said, a minimum.
It may be observed that in the Antiochian narrative a period of some weeks is passed over
in total silence, then thirty-three verses are devoted to the epoch-making events of two successive
Sabbaths, and then another considerable period is summed up in v. 49.
The action by which Paul and Barnabas were expelled from Antioch has been fully
described elsewhere. The expulsion was inflicted by the magistrates of the city, and was justified
to their minds in the interests of peace and order. It was not inflicted by officials of the province,
and hence the effect is expressly restricted by the historian to Antiochion territory. Slight as the
details are, they suit the circumstances of the time perfectly.
A slight addition made in Codex Bez at this point presents some features of interest. In
the Approved Text the Jews "roused persecution"against the Apostles; but in the Codex they
roused "great affliction and persecution" The additional words are not characterised by that
delicate precision in the choice of terms which belongs to Luke. "Affliction"(qlivyi")refers more
to the recipient, "persecution"(diwgmovs) to the agent; hence the "to rouse persecution"is a wellchosen phrase, but "to rouse affliction "is not. The words of Codex Bez have been added under
the influence of the enumeration of his sufferings given by Paul in II Cor. XI 23 (cp. II Tim. III
11). The disproportion between that list and the references to physical sufferings in Acts led to a
series of additions, designed to bring about a harmony between the two authorities.
In the additions of this kind made to Codex Bez we have the beginnings of a Pauline
myth. There is nothing in which popular fancy among the early Christians showed itself so
creative as the tortures of its heroes. The earliest Acta of martyrs contain only a moderate amount
of torture, such in kind as was inseparable from Roman courts of justice; as time passed, these
tortures seemed insufficient, and the old Acta were touched up to suit what the age believed must
have taken place. Where we possess accounts of a martyrdom of different dates, the older are less
filled with sufferings than the later. A similar process of accretion to Acts was actually
beginning, but was checked by the veneration that began to regard its text as sacred.
Luke passes very lightly over Paul’s sufferings: from II Tim. III 11, we see that he must
have endured much. He was three times beaten with the rods of lictors before A.D. 56 (II Cor. XI
25). Now, since the Roman governors whom he met were favourable to him, these beatings must
have taken place in "colonies,"whose magistrates were artended by lictors. It is probable that the
persecution which is mentioned in Antioch, and hinted .at in Lystra, included beating by lictors.
It is noteworthy that the magistrates of these two cities are not expressly mentioned, and
therefore there was no opportunity for describing their action. The third beating by lictors was in
Philippi, also a colony.
Similarly it can hardly be doubted that some of the five occasions on which Paul received
stripes from the Jews were in the Galatian cities, where some Jews were so active against him.
5. ICONIUM. (XIV 1) AND IT CAME TO PASS IN ICONIUM AFTER THE SAME
FASHION as in Antioch THAT THEY ENTERED INTO THE SYNAGOGUE OF THE JEWS
AND SO SPAKE THAT A GREAT MULTITUDE, BOTH OF JEWS AND OF GREEKS,
BELIEVED. (2) BUT THE DISAFFECTED AMONG THE JEWS STIRRED UP AND
EXASPERATED THE MINDS OF THE GENTILES AGAINST THE BRETHREN. (4) AND
THE POPULACE WAS DIVIDED; AND PART HELD WITH THE JEWS AND PART WITH
THE APOSTLES. (5) AND WHEN THERE WAS MADE AN ONSET BOTH OF THE
GENTILES AND OF THE JEWS WITH THEIR RULERS, TO ENTREAT THEM
SHAMEFULLY, AND TO STONE THEM, (6) THEY BECAME AWARE OF IT, AND FLED
INTO LYCAONIA.
According to the reading of the MSS., the narrative of these incidents is obscure; and it is
hard to believe that the text is correct. In v. 1 the great success of the preaching is related, while
in v. 2 the disaffected Jews rouse bitter feeling against the Apostles (the aorists implying that the
efforts were successful). Then in v. 3 we are astonished to read, as the sequel of the Jewish
action, that the Apostles remained a long time preaching boldly and with marked success: and
finally, in v. 4, the consequences of the Jewish action are set forth. It is therefore not surprising
that the critics who look on Acts as a patchwork have cut up this passage. It must be conceded
that appearances in this case are in their favour, and that the correctness and originality of the
narrative can hardly be defended without the supposition that some corruption has crept into it;
but the great diversity of text in the various MSS. and Versions is, on ordinary critical principles,
a sign that some corruption did take place at a very early date.
The close relation of vv. 2 and 4 is patent; and Spitta’s hypothesis of a primitive
document containing vv. 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, gives a clear and excellent narrative. Only, in place of
his improbable theory that v. 3 is a scrap from an independent and complete narrative, I should
regard it as an early gloss, similar to the many which have crept into the Bezan Text. The
emphasis laid on the marvel at Lystra, which perhaps implies that it was the first sign of special
Divine favour in the Galatian work (p. 115), may corroborate this view to some extent. Marvels
and tortures are the two elements which, as time goes on, are added to the story of every saint
and martyr; the Bezan Text of this passage shows a further addition of the same type (p. 113),
and is distinguished by numerous additions telling of the Divine intervention in Paul’s work. All
such additions, probably, grew in the popular belief, and then became attached as true facts to the
original text.
The Bezan Text of 2, 3, is a good example of its character as a modernised and
explanatory edition of an already archaic and obscure text. The discrepancy between v. 2 and v. 3
called for some remedy, which was found in the supposition that there were two tumults in
Iconium: on this supposition v. 2 was interpreted of the first tumult, and a conclusion, "and the
Lord soon gave peace,"was tacked on to it. The narrative then proceeds, after the renewed
preaching of v. 3, to the second tumult of vv. 4, 5 (p.113). The double tumult lent itself well to
the growing Pauline myth, which sought to find occasion for the sufferings and persecutions of II
Cor. XI.
But, if there were two stages in the Iconian narrative in its original uncorrupted form, we
might reasonably argue from the words "in the same way (as at Antioch),"that the two stages
were (1) successful preaching in the synagogue, brought to a conclusion by the jealousy and
machinations of the Jews; (2) Paul and Barnabas turned to the Gentile population exclusively and
were remarkably successful among them. But conjectural alteration of the text would be required
to elicit that meaning; and we cannot spend more time here on this passage.
It is to be noted that no effect on the Region around Iconiurm is mentioned. According to
our hypothesis we must recognise the difference from the narrative at Antioch, where the widespread effect is emphasised so strongly. The difference is natural, and the reason is clear, when
we consider the difference between the two cities: Antioch was the governing centre of a wide
Region which looked to it for administration, whereas Iconium was a comparatively insignificant
town in the Region round Antioch.
Again, when Paul and Barnabas went from Antioch to Iconium, they were not going to a
new district, but to an outlying city of the same district; hence there is no definition of their
proposed sphere of duty. They were expelled from Antioch, and they came to Iconium. The case
was very different when they found it expedient to leave Iconium. They then had to cross the
frontier to a new Region of the same province, which began a few miles south and east from
Iconium. The passage to a new Region and a new sphere of work is clearly marked in the text.
6. THE CITIES OF LYCAONIA. (XIV 6) Paul and Barnabas FLED UNTO THE CITIES
OF LYCAONIA, LYSTRA AND DERBE, AND THE SURROUNDING REGION; (7) AND
THERE THEY WERE ENGAGED IN PREACHING THE GOSPEL.
The expression used in XIV 6 is remarkable (p. 90): "they fled into Lycaonia, especially
to the part of it which is summed up as the cities, Lystra and Derbe, and the surrounding
Region". To understand this we must bear in mind that the growth of cities in Central and Eastern
Asia Minor was connected with the spread of Greek civilisation; and in the primitive pre-Greek
condition of the country there were no cities organised according to the Greek system, and hardly
any large settlements, except the governing centres, which were, however, Oriental towns, not
Greek cities. Now, in v. 6 a Region comprising part of Lycaonia is distinguished from the rest as
consisting of two cities and a stretch of cityless territory (i.e., territory organised on the native
pre-Greek village system).
Here, as in XIII 14, we have one of those definite statements, involving both historical
and geographical facts, which the student of ancient literature pounces upon as evidence to test
accuracy and date. Is the description accurate? If so, was it accurate at all periods of history, or
was it accurate only at a particular period? To these questions we must answer that it was
accurate at the period when Paul visited Lycaonia; that it was accurate at no other time except
between 37 and 72 A.D.; and that its only meaning is to distinguish between the Roman part of
Lycaonia and the non-Roman part ruled by Antiochus. It is instructive as to Luke’s conception of
Paul’s method, and about Luke’s own ideas on the development of the Christian Church, that he
should here so pointedly define the Roman part of Lycaonia as the region to which Paul went and
where he continued preaching.
In modern expression we might call this district Roman Lycaonia; but that would not be
true to ancient usage. Territory subject to Rome was not termed ager Romanus (p. 347), but was
designated after the province to which it was attached; and this district was Galatica Lycaona,
because it was in the province Galatia. It was distinguished from "ang265 Lycaonia
Antiochiana," which was ruled by King Antiochus.
Such was official usage; but we know the capriciousness of popular nomenclature, which
often prefers someother name to the official designation. The inhabitants of the Roman part
spoke of the other as "the Antiochian Region"(jAntiociznh; cwvra), and the people of the latter
spoke of the Roman part as the Galatic Region (Galatikh; cwvra) It was unnecessary for persons
who were living in the country to be more precise. Now this Region of Roman or Galatic
Lycaoniais three times mentioned in Acts. (1) In XIV 7 it is defined by enumerating its parts; and
as Paul goesto it out of Phyrgia, it is necessary to express that he went into Lycaonia: the advice
which the Iconians gave him would be to go into Lycaonia. (2) In XVI 1-3 the writer does not
sum up the district as a whole, for his narrative requires a distinction between the brief visit to
Derbe and the long visit to Lystra. (3) In XVIII 23, as he enters the Roman Region from the
"Antiochian Part,"the writer uses the name which Paul would use as he was entering it, and calls
it "the Galatic Region". This is characteristic of Acts : it moves amid the people, and the author
has caught his term in many a case from the mouth of the people. But this is done with no
subservience to vulgar usage; the writer is on a higher level of thought, and he knows how to
select those popular terms which are vital and powerful, and to reject those which are vulgar and
inaccurate: he moves among the people, and yet stands apart from them.
The subsequent narrative makes it clear that Paul visited only Lystra and Derbe. Why,
then, should the author mention that Paul proceeded "to Lystra and Derbe and the Region in
which they lie"? The reason lies in his habit of defining each new sphere of work according to
the existing political divisions of the Roman Empire.
It is characteristic of Luke’s method never formally to enunciate Paul’s principle of
procedure, but simply to state the facts and leave the principle to shine through them; and here it
shines clearly through them, for he made the limit of Roman territory the limit of his work, and
turned back when he came to Lystra. He did not go on to Laranda, which was probably a greater
city than Derbe at the time, owing to its situation and the policy followed by King Antiochus.
Nor did he go to the uncivilised, uneducated native villages or towns of Roman Galatia, such as
Barata.
Accordingly, the historian in the few words (XIV 6, 7) assumes and embodies the
principle which can be recognised as guiding Paul’s action, viz., to go to the Roman world, and
especially to its great cities. There is no more emphatic proof of the marvellous delicacy in
expression that characterises the selection of words in Acts ,-a delicacy that can spring only from
perfect knowledge of the characters and actions described.
But the passage, not unnaturally, caused great difficulties to readers of the second
century, when the bounds of Galatia had changed, and the remarkable definition of XIV 6 had
become unintelligible. It was then gathered from these words that some preaching took place in
"the region round about,"and the explanation was found in the later historical fact (which we may
assume unhesitatingly as true), that converts of Paul carried the new religion over the whole
region. This fact, got from independent knowledge, was added to the text, and thus arose the
"Western"Text, which appears with slight variations in different authorities. In Codex Bez the
result is as follows (alterations being in italics):"(4) AND THE POPULACE remained divided, SOME TAKING PART WITH THE
JEWS, AND SOME WITH THE APOSTLES, cleaving to them through the ward of God. (5)
And again the Jews, along with the Gentiles, roused perucution far the second time, and having
stoned them they cast them out of the city; (6) and fleeing tiny came into Lycaonia, to a certain
city called LYSTRA, AND DERBE, AND THE whole SURROUNDING REGION; (7) AND
THEY WERE THERE ENGAGED IN PREACHING, and the entire population was moved at
the teaching; but Paul and Barnabas continued in Lystra."
In this text the Pauline myth has been considerably developed. The disciples cling to the
Apostles, are persecuted with them, accompany their flight, and preach in the surrounding
Region, while Paul and Barnabas spent their time at Lystra. But the enlarged text moves in the
atmosphere of the second century. It gives us an idea of the difficulties besetting the study of
Acts even then, owing to the changes that had occurred in the surroundings of the events
narrated; and it shows that these difficulties were not ignored and the text accepted as inspired
and above comprehension, but facts of history were applied to explain the difficulties.
In v. 8 we observe the marked emphasis laid on the real physical incapacity of the lame
man. ThoughLuke, as a rule, carries brevity even to the verge ofobscurity, here he reiterates in
three successive phrases,with growing emphasis, that the man was really lame. The three phrases
are like beats of a hammer: there is nofine literary style in this device, but there is real force,
whicharrests and compels the readers attention. Luke uses the triple beat in other places for the
same purpose, e.g. XIII 6,"Magian, false prophet, Jew,"and XVI 6, 7 (according to the true text,
p. 196).
The author therefore attached the utmost mportanceto this point. The man was no
mendicant pretender, but one whose history from infancy was well known.The case could not be
explained away: it was an incontestable proof of the direct Divine power workingthrough Paul
and guaranteeing his message to theGalatic province as of Divine origin. The sign has extreme
importance in the author’s eyes as a proof thatPaul carried the Divine approval in his new
departurein Galatia, and we can better understand its mportance he had to record in his eyes if it
were the first which on distinct evidence (p. 108); but he attributes to it noinfluence in turning
the people to Christianity. The result was only to persuade the populace that the deifieswhom
they worshipped had vouchsafed to visit theirpeople; and at Malta the same result followed
fromthe wonders which Paul wrought. The marvels recorded in Acts are not, as a rule, said to
have been efficaciousin spreading the new religion; the marvel at Philippicaused suffering and
imprisonment; to the raising of Eutychus no effect is ascribed. The importance of these events
lies rather in their effect on the mind of the Apostles themselves, who accepted them as an
encouragement and a confirmation of their work. But the teaching spread by convincing the
minds of the hearers (XIII 12).
The Bezan Text adds several details which have theappearance of truth. The most
important is that the lame man was "in the fear of God,"i.e., he was a pagan of Lystra who had
been attracted to Judaism before he came under Paul’s influence: after some time Paul recognised
him as a careful hearer (h[kouen, corrupted h[kousen in the Bezan Text) and a person inclined
towards the truth. Several other authorities give the same statement at different points and in
varying words; and it therefore has the appearance of a gloss that has crept into the text in
varying forms. It has however all the appearance of a true tradition preserved in the Church; for
the idea that he was a proselyte is not likely to have grown up falsely in a Gentile congregation,
nor is it likely to have lasted long in such a congregation, even though true. It is therefore a very
early gloss.
8. THE APOSTLES AS GODS. (11) AND THE MULTITUDE, SEEING WHAT PAUL
DID, LIFTED UP THEIR LIFTED IP THEIR VOICE IN THE LYCAONIAN TONGUE,
SAYING, "THE GODS HAVE TAKEN THE FORM OF MEN AND HAVE COME DOWN TO
US"; (12) AND THEY CALLED BARNABAS ZEUS, AND PAUL HERMES.
Accepted Text
Bezan Text.
(13) AND THE PRIEST OF ZEUS, THE GOD BEFORE THE CITY BROUGHT OXEN
AND GARLANDS TO THE GATES, AND INTENDED TO OFFER SACRIFICE ALONG
WITH THE MULTITUDES. (14) AND HEARING, THE APOSTLES BARNABAS AND
PAUL RENT THEIR GARMENTS AND RAN HASTILY OUT AMONG THE CROWD, (15)
SHOUTING AND SAYING, "SIRS, WHAT IS THIS YE DO? WE ALSO ARE MEN OF LIKE
NATURE TO YOU, BRINGING YOU THE GLAD NEWS TO TURN FROM THESE VAIN
ONES TO GOD THE LIVING, WHICH MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE
SEA AND EVERYTHING IN THEM.
(13) AND THE PRIESTS OF THE GOD, "ZEUS BEFORE THE CITY"BROUGHT
OXEN AND GARLANDS TO THE GATES, AND INTENDED TO MAKE SACRIFICE
BEYOND the usual ritual ALONG WITH THE MULTITUDES. (14) AND HEARING, THE
APOSTLES BARNABAS AND PAUL RENT THEIR GARMENTS AND RAN HASTILY
OUT AMONG THE CROWD, (15) SHOUTING AND SAYING, "SIRS, WHAT IS THIS YE
DO? WE ARE MEN OF LIKE NATURE TO YOU, BRINGING YOU THE GLAD NEWS OF
THE GOD, THAT YOU MAY TURN FROM THESE VAIN ONES TO THE GOD, THE
LIVING, WHICH MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA AND
EVERYTHING IN THEM.
(16) WHO IN THE BYGONE GENERATIONS LEFT ALL NATIONS TO GO IN
THEIR OWN WAYS. (17) AND YET HE LEFT NOT HIMSELF WITHOUT WITNESS, IN
THAT HE DID GOOD, GIVING YOU FROM HEAVEN RAINS AND FRUITFUL SEASONS,
FILLING YOUR HEARTS WITH FOOD AND GLADNESS."(18) AND, SAYING THIS,
THEY SCARCE RESTRAINED THE MULTITUDES FROM DOING SACRIFICE UNTO
THEM.
In v. 12 the Accepted Text contains a gloss, which is rightly omitted in one old Latin
Version (Fl.).
Paul is here the Messenger of the Supreme God (p. 84): he says in Gal. IV 14, "ye
received me as a Messenger of God". The coincidence, as Prof. Rendel Harris points out, is
interesting.
The Bezan Text has in several details the advantage of local accuracy-the plural
"priests,"the title "Zeus before the city,"the phrase "the God,"the "extra-sacrifice". Dr. Blass
rejects the Bezan reading "priests"on the ground that there was only one priest of a single god;
but there was regularly a college of priests at each of the great temples of Asia Minor. The "God
before the city"had in almost every case been seated in his temple when there was no city; and he
remained in his own sacred place after civilisation progressed and a Greek or Roman city was
rounded in the neighbourhood. According to the Bezan Text the proposed sacrifice was an extra
beyond the ordinary ritual which the priests performed to the God. This sense of ejpiquvein does
not occur elsewhere, but seems to lie fairly within the meaning of the compound.
Dr. Blass, who is usually so enthusiastic a supporter of the Western Text, rejects these
three variations; but they add so much to the vividness of the scene, that one cannot, with him,
regard them as mere corruptions.
In Asia Minor the great God was regularly termed by his worshippers "the God"; and
Paul, who introduces the Christian God to his Athenian audience as "the Unknown God,"whom
they have been worshipping, might be expected to use the familiar term "the God"to the Lystran
crowd. Here, probability favours the originality of the Bezan Text.
There remain some serious difficulties in this episode: Dr. Blass rejects the idea of some
commentators that the sacrifice was prepared at the gates of the temple; and explains that the
priests came from the temple before the city to the gates of the city. But in that case Lukan usage
would lead us to expect puvlh. (cp. IX 24, XVI 13), rather than pulwvn (cp. X 17, XII 13, 14).
Another difficulty occurs in v. 14. Dr. Blass’s explanation is that the Apostles had gone home
after healing the lame man, and there heard what was going on and hurried forth from their
house. This explanation is not convincing. Probably a better knowledge of the localities might
make the narrative clearer:it has been for years a dream of mine to make some excavations at
Lystra, in the hope of illustrating this interesting episode. One suggestion, however, may be
made. The college of priests probably prepared their sacrifice at the outer gateway of the templegrounds, because, being no part of the ordinary ritual, it could not be performed on one of the
usual places, and because they wished the multitudes to take part; whereas sacrifice at the citygates seems improbable for many reasons. Then as the day advanced, the Apostles, who were
continuing their missionary work, heard that the priests and people were getting ready to
celebrate the Epiphany of the Gods; and they hurried forth from the city to the temple.
The use of the Lycaonian language shows that the worshippers were not the Roman
coloni, the aristocracy of the colony, but the natives, the less educated and more superstitious
part of the population (incol, p. 218).
9. DERBE. (XIV 19) AND THERE CAME JEWS FROM ANTIOCH AND ICONIUM;
AND THEY PERSUADED THE MULTITUDES AND STONED PAUL AND DRAGGED his
body OUT OF THE CITY, CONSIDERlNG THAT HE WAS DEAD. (20) BUT, WHEN THE
DISCIPLES ENCIRCLED HIM, HE STOOD UP AND WENT INTO THE CITY; AND ON
THE MORROW HE WENT FORTH WITH BARNABAS TO DERBE. (21) AND THEY
PREACHED THE GLAD NEWS TO THAT CITY AND MADE MANY DISCIPLES.
It is interesting to observe the contrast between the emphasis of XIV 8 and the
cautiousness of statement in XIV 19. The writer considered that there was full evidence as to the
real condition of the lame man; but all that he can guarantee in XIV 19 is that his persecutors
considered Paul to be dead; and beyond that he does not go. As usual, he simply states the facts,
and leaves the reader to judge for himself. A writer who tried to find marvels would have found
one here, and said so.
In Derbe nothing special is recorded: the same process went on as in previous cases. Here
on the limits of the Roman province the Apostles turned. New magistrates had now come into
office in all the cities whence they had been driven; and it was therefore possible to go back.
10. ORGANISATION OF THE NEW CHURCHES. (XIV 21) THEY RETURNED TO
LYSTRA AND TO ICONIUMANDTO ANTIOCH, (22) CONFIRMING THE SOULS
OFTHEDISCIPLES, EXHORTING THEM TO CONTINUE INTHEFAITH, AND THAT
THROUGH MANY TRIBULATIONS WE MUST ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
(23) AND WHEN THEY HAD APPOINTED FOR THEM ELDERS IN EVERY CHURCH,
AND HAD PRAYED WITH FASTING, THEY COMMENDED THEM TO THE LORD, ON
WHOM THEY HAD BELIEVED.
On the return journey the organisation of the newly rounded churches occupied Paul’s
attention. It is probable that, in his estimation, some definite organisation was implied in the idea
of a church; and until the brotherhood in a city was organised, it was not in the strictest sense a
church. In this passage we see that the fundamental part of the Church organisation lay in the
appointment of EIders (presbuvteroi). In XIII 1 we found that there were prophets and teachers in
.the Antiochian church; here nothing is said about appointing them, but the reason indubitably is
that prophets and teachers required Divine grace, and could not be appointed by men: they were
accepted when the grace was found to have been given them.
Paul used the word Bishops (ejpivskopoi) as equivalent to Elders. This is specially clear
in XX, where he summoned the Ephesian Elders, v. 17, and said to them: "the Holy Spirit hath
made you Bishops," verse 28. It is therefore certain that the "Bishops and Deacons"at Philippi
(Phil. I 1) are the Elders and Deacons, who were the constituted officials of the Church. The
Elders are also to be understood as "the rulers"(proistavmenoi) at Rome and Thessalonica (Rom
XII 8, I Thess. V 12). Both terms, Elders and Bishops, occur in the Epistles to Titus and
Timothy; but it is plain from Tit. I 5-7 that they are synonymous.
It is clear,therefore, that Paul everywhere instituted Elders in his new Churches; and on
our hypothesis as to the accurate and methodical expression of the historian, we are bound to
infer that this first case is intended to be typical of the way of appointment followed in all later
cases. When Paul directed Titus (I 5) to appoint Elders in each Cretan city, he was doubtless
thinking of the same method which he followed here. Unfortunately, the term used
(ceirotonhvsante") is by no means certain in meaning; for, though originally it meant to elect by
popular vote, yet it came to be used in the sense to appoint or designate (e.g., Acts X 41). But it
is not in keeping with our conception of the precise and often pragmatically accurate expression
of Luke, that he should in this passage have used the term ceirotonhvsante", unless he intended
its strict sense. If he did not mean it strictly, the term is fatally ambiguous, where definiteness is
specially called for. It must, I think, be allowed that the votes and voice of each congregation
were considered; and the term is obviously used in that way by Paul, II Cor. VIII 19.
It is also apparent that a certain influence to be exercised by himself is implied in the
instructions given to Titus (I 5); but those instructions seem only to mean that Titus, as a sort of
presiding officer, is to instruct the people what conditions the person chosen must satisfy, and
perhaps to reject unsuitable candidates. Candidature, perhaps of a merely informal character, is
implied in I Tim. III 1; but, of course, if election has any scope at all, candidature goes along
with it.
The procedure, then, seems to be not dissimilar to Roman elections of magistrates, in
which the presiding magistrate subjected all candidates to a scrutiny as to their qualifications,
and had large discretion in rejecting those whom he considered unsuitable.
Finally, it is stated in XX 28 that the Holy Spirit made men Bishops; but this expression
is fully satisfied by what may safely be assumed as the final stage of the appointment, viz. the
Bishops elect were submitted to the Divine approval at the solemn prayer and fast which
accompanied their appointment. This meeting and rite of fasting, which Paul celebrated in each
city on his return journey, is to be taken as the form that was to be permanently observed (cp.
XIII 3).
The use of the first person plural in v. 22 is not personal, but general; Paul impressed on
them the universal truth that "we Christians"can enter the kingdom of God by no other path than
that of suffering. At the same-time the author, by using the first person, associates himself with
the principle, not as one of the audience at the time, but as one who strongly realised its truth.
This is one of the few personal touches in Acts ; and we must gather from it that, at the time
when he was writing, the principle was strongly impressed on him by circumstances. I can
understand this personal touch, in comparison with the studious suppression of personal feelings
and views throughout Acts , in no other way than by supposing that Luke was composing this
history during a time of special persecution. On that supposition the expression is luminous; but
otherwise it stands in marked contrast to the style of Acts . Now evidence from a different line of
reasoning points to the conclusion that Luke was writing this second book of his history under
Domitian, the second great persecutor (Ch. XVII).
11. PISIDIA AND PAMPHYLIA. (XIV 24) AND HAVING MADE A MISSIONARY
JOURNEY THROUGH PISIDIA, THEY CAME INTO PAMPHYLIA; (25) AND AFTER
HAVING SPOKEN THE WORD IN PERGA, THEY CAME DOWN TO the harbour
ATTALEIA; (26) AND FROM THENCE THEY SAILED AWAY TO ANTIOCH, WHENCE
THEY HAD BEEN COMMITTED TO THE GRACE OF GOD FOR THE WORK WHICH
THEY FULFILLED. (27) AND REACHING ANTIOCH, AND HOLDING A MEETING OF
THE CHURCH, THEY PROCEEDED TO ANNOUNCE ALL THAT GOD DID WITH THEM,
AND THAT HE OPENED TO THE NATIONS THE GATE OF BELIEF (See p. 85).
Next, the journey goes on from Antioch (v. 21), leadingfirst into Pisidia, a Region of the
province Galatia, andthen into the province Pamphylia. It is clearly implied,that Pisidian Antioch
was not in Pisidia; and, strange asthat seems, it is correct (p. 104). Any Church founded in
Pisidia would rank along with those founded in Galatic Phrygia and Galatic Lycaonia as one of
"the Churches of Galatia"; but neither Pisidia nor Pamphylia plays any further part in early
Christian Hstory.There was, how-ever, a Pauline tradition at Adada.
Attaleia seems to be mentioned here solely as the port of departure (though they had
formerly sailed direct up the Cestrus to Perga). Not catching Luke’s fondness for details
connected with the sea and harbours (p. 20), the Bezan Reviser reads: "they came down to
Attaleia, giving them the good news".
12. THE CHURCHES. In Lukan and Pauline language two meanings are found of the
term Ecclesia. It means originally simply "an assembly"; and, as employed by Paul in his earliest.
Epistles, it may be rendered "the congregation of the Thessalonians". It is then properly
construed with the genitive, denoting the assembly of this organised society, to which any man of
Thessalonica may belong if he qualifies for it. The term Ecclesia originally implied that the
assembled members constituted a self-governing body like a free Greek city (povli"). Ancient
religious societies were commonly organised on the model of city organisation. The term was
adopted in the Septuagint, and came into ordinary use among Grecian Jews.
Gradually Paul’s idea of "the Unified Church"became definite; and, with the true
philosophic instinct, he felt the need of a technical term to indicate the idea. Ecclesia was the
word that forced itself on him. But in the new sense it demanded a new construction; it was no
longer "the church of the Thessalonians,"but "the Church in Corinth"; and it was necessarily
singular, for there was only one Church.
The new usage grew naturally in the mind of a statesman, animated with the instinct of
administration, and gradually coming to realise the combination of imperial centralisation and
local home rule, which is involved in the conception of
a self-governing unity, the Universal
Church, consisting of many parts, widely separated in space. Each of these parts must govern
itself in its internal relations, because it is distant from other parts, and yet each is merely a piece
carved out of the homogeneous whole, and each finds its justification and perfect ideal in the
whole. That was a conception analogous to the Roman view, that every group of Roman citizens
meeting together in a body (coventus Civium Romanorum) in any part of the vast Empire formed
a part of the great conception "Rome,"and. that such a group was not an intelligible idea, except
as a piece of the great unity. Any Roman citizen who came to any provincial town where such a
group existed was forthwith a member of the group; and the group was simply a fragment of
"Rome,"cut off in space from the whole body, but preserving its vitality and self-identity as fully
as when it was joined to the whole, and capable of re-uniting with the whole as soon as the
estranging space was annihilated. Such was the Roman constitutional theory, and such was the
Pauline theory. The actual working of the Roman theory was complicated by the numberless
imperfect forms of citizenship, such as the provincial status (for the provincials were neither
Romans nor foreigners; they were in the State yet not of the State), and other points in which
mundane facts were too stubborn; and it was impeded by failure to attain full consciousness of its
character. The Pauline theory was carried out with a logical thoroughness and consistency which
the Roman theory, could never attain in practice; but it is hardly doubtful that, whether or not
Paul himself was conscious that the full realisation of his idea could only be the end of a long
process of growth and not the beginning, his successors carried out his theory with a disregard of
the mundane facts of national and local diversity that produced serious consequences. They
waged relentless war within the bounds of the Empire against all provincial distinctions of
language and character, they disregarded the force of associations and early ties, and aimed at an
absolute uniformity that was neither healthy nor attainable in human nature. The diversities
which they ejected returned in other ways, and crystallised in Christian forms, as the local saints
who gradually became more real and powerful in the religious thought and practice of each
district than the true Christian ideas; and, as degeneration proceeded, the heads of the Church
acquiesced more and more contentedly in a nominal and ceremonial unity that had lost reality.
As is natural, Paul did not abandon the old and familiar usage of the term Ecclesia, when
the new and more technical usage developed in his mind and language. The process is apparent
in Gal. I 13, where the new sense occurs, though hardly as yet, perhaps,with full consciousness
and intention. Elsewhere in that letter the term is used in the old sense, "the Churches of Galatia
". In I Cor. I 2 the new sense of Ecclesia is deliberately and formally employed. The term
Ecclesia is used in Acts in both these ways, and an examination of the distinction throws some
light on the delicacy of expression in the book. It occurs in the plural. sense of "congregations"or
"every congregation"in XIV 23, XV 41, XVI 5.In each of these eases it is used about Paul’s work
in the period when he was employing the term in its earlier sense; and there is a fine sense of
language in saying at that period that Paul went over the congregations which he had rounded in
Syria and Cilicia and in Galatia. In all other cases (in the Eastern Text at least), Luke uses
Ecclesia in the singular, in some cases markedly in the sense of the Unified Church (e.g., IX 31),
in some cases as "the Church in Jerusalem"(VIII 1), and in some cases very pointedly,."the
Church in so far as it was in Jerusalem"or "in Antioch"(XI 22, XIII 1); and in some cases where
the sense "congregation"might be permitted by the context, the sense of "the Church"gives a
more satisfactory meaning. The author, therefore, when he speaks in his own person, stands on
the platform of the developed Paulineusage, and uses Ecclesia in the sense of "the single Unified
Church,"but where there is a special dramatic appropriateness in employing the earlier Pauline
term to describe Paul’s work, he employs the early term.
An exception occurs to this rule, in an addition of the Bezan Text, according to which
Apollos went to Achaia and contributed much to strengthening the congregations (tai’"
ejkklhsivai"). We have here not the original words of Luke, but an addition (as I believe,
trustworthy in point of fact) made by a second century Reviser, imitating passages like XV 41,
XVI 5, Gal. I 2, 22. This case stands in close analogy to IX 31, where many authorities have
(Codex Bez is defective) "the Ecclesiai throughout the whole of Judea and Galilee and
Samaria,"but the singular is used in the Accepted Text founded on the great MSS.
Note 1. Date. On our view this journey began in March 47, and ended about July or
August 49.
Note 2. Declension of Lystra. The variation in the declension of the word Lystra * is
sometimes taken as a sign that the author employed two different written authorities (in one of
which the word was declined as feminine singular and in the other as neuter plural), and followed
them implicitly, using in each case the form employed in the authority whom he was following at
the moment. This suggestion has convinced neither Spitta nor Clemen, who both assign XVI 1-3
to one author. Only the most insensate and incapable of compilers would unawares use the
double declension twice in consecutive sentences. The author, whoever he was and whenever he
lived, certainly considered that the proper declension of the name was Luvstroi", Luvstran; and
the only question is this: was that variation customary in the Lystran Greek usage? If it was
customary, then its employment in Acts is a marked proof of first-hand local knowledge, and if it
was not customary, the opposite. We have unfortunately no authorities for the Lystran usage: the
city name occurs in the inscriptions only in the nominative case, Lustra. It is certain that many
names in Asia Minor, such as Myra, etc., occur both in feminine singular and in neuter plural; but
there is no evidence as to any local usage appropriating certain cases to each form. Excavations
on the site may yield the needed evidence to test the accuracy of this detail.
One indirect piece of evidence may be added. Myra is an analogous name. Now the local
form of accus. was Muvran for the Turkish Dembre comes from th;n Mbra(n)i.e. (eij") th;n
Muvran. [It is most probable that in XXVII 5 Muvran (or Muvrran) should be read, not Muvra.] I
know no evidence as to the local form of the dative; but the genitive appears as Muvrwn in the
signatures of bishops.
Incidentally we notice that the name of the city is spelt Lustra, not Lystra (like
Prymnessos), on coins and inscriptions. That is an indication of Latin tone, and of the desire to
make the city name a Latin word. People who called their city Lustra would have distinguished
themselves pointedly from the Lycaonians, the subjects of King Antiochus and mentioned in that
way on his coins.
Chapter VI. ST. PAUL IN GALATIA
1. THE IMPERIAL AND THE CHRISTIAN POLICY When Paul passed out of
Pamphylia into Galatia, he went out of a small province, which was cut off from the main line of
historical and political development, into a great province that lay on that line. The history of
Asia Minor at that time had its central motive in the transforming and educative process which
the Roman imperial policy was trying to carry out in the country. In Pamphylia that process was
languidly carried out by a governor of humble rank; but Galatia was the frontier province, and
the immense social and educational changes involved in the process of romanising an oriental
land were going on actively in it. We proceed to inquire in what relation the new Pauline
influence stood to the questions that were agitating the province.
What, then, was the character of Roman policy and the line of educational advance in the
districts of Galatic Phrygia and Galatic Lycaonia; and what were the forces opposing the Roman
policy?
The aim of Roman policy may be defined as the unification and education in Roman
ideas of the province; and its general effect may be summed up under four heads, which we shall
discuss in detail, comparing in each case the effect produced or aimed at by the Church. We
enumerate the heads, not in order of importance, but in the order that best brings out the relation
between Imperial influence and Church influence: (1) relation to Greek civilisation and
language: (2) development of an educated middle class: (3)growth of unity over the Empire: (4)
social facts.
(1) The Roman influence would be better defined as "Grco-Roman ". Previous to
Roman domination, the Greek civilisation, though fostered in the country by the Greek kings of
Syria and Pergamos, who had successively ruled the country, had failed to affect the people as a
body; it had been confined to the coast valleys of the Hermus, Cayster, Mander and Lycus, and
to the garrison cities rounded on the great central plateau by the kings to strengthen their hold on
the country. These cities were at the same time centres of Greek manners and education; their
language was Greek; and, in the midst of alien tribes, their interests naturally coincided with
those of the kings who had rounded them.
The Roman Government, far from being opposed to Greek influence, acted in steady
alliance with it. It adopted the manners of Greece, and even recognised the Greek language for
general use in the Eastern provinces. Rome was so successful, because she almost always yielded
to the logic of facts. The Greek influence was, on the whole, European and Western in character;
and opposed to the oriental stagnation which resisted Roman educative efforts. Rome accepted
the Greek language as her ally. Little attempt was made to naturalise the Latin language in the
East; and even the Roman colonies in the province of Galatia soon ceased to use Latin except on
state occasions and in a fewformal documents. A Grco-Roman civilisation using the Greek
language was the type which Rome aimed at establishing in the East.
The efforts of Rome to naturalise Western culture in Asia Minor were more successful
than those of the Greek kings had been; but still they worked at best very slowly. The evidence
of inscriptions tends to show that the Phrygian language was used in rural parts of the country
during the second and even the third century. In some remote and rustic districts it persisted even
until the fourth century, as Celtic did in parts of North Galatia.
The Christian influence was entirely in favour of the Greek language. The rustics clung
longest to Paganism, while the Greek-speaking population of the cities adopted Christianity. It is
not probable that any attempt was made to translate the Christian sacred books into Phrygian or
Lycaonian; there is not even any evidence that evangelisation in these languages was ever
attempted. The Christians seem to have been all expected to read the Scriptures in Greek. That
fact was sufficient to put the Church, as regards its practical effect on society, on the same side as
the romanising influence; and the effect was quite independent of any intentional policy. The
most zealous enemy of the imperial Antichrist was none the less effective in aiding the imperial
policy by spreading the official language. In fact, Christianity did far more thoroughly what the
emperors tried to do. It was really their best ally, if they had recognised the facts of the case; and
the Christian Apologists of the second century are justified in claiming that their religion was
essentially a loyal religion.
(z) The Empire had succeeded in imposing its languages on the central districts of Asia
only so far as education spread. Every one who wrote or read, wrote and read Greek; but those
who could do neither used the native language. Hence inscriptions were almost universally
expressed in Greek, for even the most illiterate, if they aspired to put an epitaph on a grave, did
so in barbarous (sometimes unintelligible) Greek; the desire for an epitaph was the first sign of
desire for education and for Greek.
In education lay the most serious deficiency of the imperial policy. Rome cannot be said
to have seriously attempted to found an educational system either in the provinces or in the
metropolis. "The education imparted on a definite plan by the State did not go beyond instituting
a regular series of amusements, some of a rather brutalising tendency"(Church in R.E., p. 360).
And precisely in this point, Christianity came in to help the Imperial Government, recognising
the duty of educating, as well as feeding and amusing, the mass of the population. The theory of
universal education for the people has never been more boldly and thoroughly stated than by
Tatian (ibid. p. 345). "The weak side of the Empire-the cause of the ruin of the first Empire was
the moral deterioration of the lower classes: Christianity, if adopted in time, might have
prevented this result."
Now, the classes where education and work go hand in hand were the first to come under
the influence of the new religion. On the one hand the uneducated and grossly superstitious
rustics were unaffected by it. On the other hand, there were "not many wise, not many mighty,
not many noble"in the Churches of the first century, i.e., not many professional teachers of
wisdom and philosophy, not many of the official and governing class, not many of the
hereditarily privileged class. But the working and thinking classes, with the students, if not the
Professors, at the Universities, were attracted to the new teaching; and it spread among them with
a rapidity that seemed to many modern critics incredible and fabulous, till it was justified by
recent discoveries. The enthusiasm of the period was on the side of the Christians; its
dilettantism, officialism, contentment and self-satisfaction were against them.
In respect of education Christianity appears as filling a gap in the imperial policy,
supplementing, not opposing it-a position which, though it earns no gratitude and often provokes
hatred, implies no feeling of opposition in the giver.
(3) Again, the main. effort of Roman policy was directed towards encouraging a sense of
unity and patriotism in the Empire. It discouraged the old tribal and national divisions, which
kept the subject population in their pre-Roman associations, and substituted new divisions.
Patriotism in ancient time was inseparable from religious feeling, and Roman policy fostered a
new imperial religion in which all its subjects should unite, viz., the worship of the divine
majesty of Rome incarnate in human form in the series of the emperors and especially in the
reigning emperor. Each province was united in a formal association for this worship: the
association built temples in the great cities of the province, held festivals and games, and had a
set of officials, who were in a religious point of view priests and in a political point of view,
officers of the imperial service. Everything that the imperial policy did in the provinces during
the first century was so arranged as to encourage the unity of the entire Roman province; and the
priests of the imperial religion became by insensible degrees a higher priesthood, exercising a
certain influence over the priests of the other religions of the province. In this way a sort of
hierarchy was created for the province and the empire as a whole; the reigning emperor being the
religious head, the Supreme Pontiff of the State, and a kind of sacerdotal organisation being
grouped under him according to the political provinces.
As time passed, gradually the Christian Church grouped itself according to the same
forms as the imperial religion, -not indeed through conscious imitation, but because the Church
naturally arranged its external form according to the existing facts of communication and
interrelation. In Pisidian Antioch a preacher had unique opportunities for affecting the entire
territory whose population resorted to that great centre (p. 105). So Perga was a centre for
Pamphylia, Ephesus for Asia. But the direct influence
of these centres was confined to the
Roman district or province. In this way necessarily and inevitably the Christian Church was
organised around the Roman provincial metropolis and according to the Roman provincial
divisions.
The question then is, when did this organisation of the Church begin? I can see no reason
to doubt that it began with Paul’s mission to the West. It grew out of the circumstances of the
country, and there was more absolute necessity in the first century than later, that, if the Church
was organised at all, it must adapt itself to the political facts of the time, for these were much
stronger in the first century. The classification adopted in Paul’s own letters of the Churches
which he rounded is according to provinces, Achaia, Macedonia, Asia, and Galatia. The same
fact is clearly visible in the narrative of Act,: it guides and inspires the expression from the time
when the Apostles landed at Perga. At every step any one who knows the country recognises that
the Roman division is implied. There is only one way of avoiding this conclusion, and that is to
make up your mind beforehand that the thing is impossible, and therefore to refuse to admit any
evidence for it.
The issue of events showed that the Empire had made a mistake in disregarding so
completely the existing lines of demarcation between tribes and races in making its new political
provinces. For a time it succeeded in establishing them, while the energy of the Empire was still
fresh, and its forward movement continuous and steady. But the differences of tribal and national
character were too great to be completely set aside; they revived while the energy of the Empire
decayed during the second century. Hence every change in the bounds of the provinces of Asia
Minor from 138 onwards was in the direction of assimilating them to the old tribal frontiers; and
at last in 295 even the great complex province Asia was broken up after 428 years of existence,
and resolved into the old native districts, Lydia, Caria, Phrygia, etc.; and the moment that the
political unity was dissolved there remained nothing of the Roman Asia. But the ultimate failure
of the Roman policy must not blind us to the vigour and energy with which that policy was
carried out during the first century. "Asia"and "Galatia"were only ideas, but they were ideas
which the whole efforts of Roman government aimed at making into realities.
(4) There was another reason why the power of the new religion was necessarily thrown
on the side of the Roman policy. Greek civilisation was strongly opposed to the social system
that was inseparably connected with the native religion in all its slightly varying forms in
different localities. The opposition is. as old as the landing of the earliest Greek emigrants on the
Asian coasts: the colonists were the force of education, and progress and freedom, the priests
arrayed against them the elements that made for stagnation and priest-ridden ignorance and
slavery. Throughout Greek history the same opposition constantly appears. The Phrygian religion
was always reckoned as the antithesis of Hellenism. That is all a matter of history, one might say
a commonplace of history. But the same opposition was necessarily developed in the
Romanisation of the provinces of Asia Minor. The priests of the great religious centres were
inevitably opposed to the Roman policy; but their power was gone, their vast estates had become
imperial property, and their influence with the population was weakened by the growth of the
Greek spirit. This subject might be discussed at great length; but I must here content myself with
referring to the full account of the districts in my Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia.
In this conflict there can be no doubt on which side the Christian influence must tell.
When we consider the social system which was inculcated as a part of the native religion, it is
evident that every word spoken by Paul or Barnabas must tell directly against the prevalent
religion, and consequently on the side of the Roman policy. It is true that in moral tone the Greek
society and religion were low, and Christianity was necessarily an enemy to them. But Greek
religion was not here present as the enemy. The native religion was the active enemy; and its
character was such that Greek education was pure in comparison, and the Greek moralists,
philosophers, and politicians inveighed against the Phrygian religion as the worst enemy of the
Greek ideals of life. Greek society and life were at least rounded on marriage; but the religion of
Asia Minor maintained as a central principle that all organised and settled social life on the basis
of marriage was an outrage on the free unfettered divine life of nature, the type of which was
found in the favourites of the great goddesses, the wild animals of the field and the mountains.
The Greek and Roman law which recognised as citizens only those born from the legitimate
marriage of two citizens had no existence in Phrygian cities.
Thus in Galatia the Grco-Roman education, on the side of freedom, civilisation and a
higher social morality, was contending against the old native religious centres with their
influential priestly colleges, on the side of ignorance, stagnation, social anarchy, and
enslavement of the people to the priests. Christian influence told against the latter, and therefore
in favour of the former.
In all these ways Christianity, as a force in the social life of the time, was necessarily
arrayed on the side of the Roman imperial policy. "One of the most remarkable sides of the
history of Rome is the growth of ideas which found their realisation and completion in the
Christian Empire. Universal citizenship, universal equality of rights, universal religion, a
universal Church, all were ideas which the Empire was slowly working out, but which it could
not realise till it merged itself in Christianity." "The path of development for the Empire lay in
accepting the religion which offered it the possibility of completing its organisation."
With the instinctive perception of the real nature of the case that characterises the genius
for organisation, Paul from the first directed his steps in the path which the Church had to tread.
He made no false step, he needed no tentatives before he found the path, he had to retract nothing
(except perhaps the unsuccessful compromise embodied in the Decree of the Apostolic Council,
pp. 172, 182). It is not necessary to assert or to prove that he consciously anticipated all that was
to take place; but he was beyond all doubt one of those great creative geniuses whose policy
marks out the lines on which history is to move for generations and even for centuries
afterwards.
It is apparent how far removed we are from a view, which has been widely entertained,
"that there was an entire dislocation and discontinuity in the history of Christianity in Asia Minor
at a certain epoch; that the Apostle of the Gentiles was ignored and his teaching repudiated, if not
anathemarised"; and that this anti-Pauline tendency found in "Papias a typical representative".
Like Lightfoot, whose summary we quote, we must reject that view. We find in the epitaph of the
second-century Phrygian saint, Avircius Marcellus, a proof of the deep reverence retained in
Asia Minor for St. Paul: when he travelled, he took Paul everywhere with him as his guide and
companion.
These considerations show the extreme importance of the change of plan that led Paul
across Taurus to Pisidian Antioch. So far as it is right to say that any single event is of
outstanding importance, the step that took Paul away from an outlying corner and put him on the
main line of development at the outset of his work in Asia Minor, was the most critical step in his
history. It is noteworthy that the historian, who certainly understood its importance, and whose
sympathy was deeply engaged in it, does not attribute it to Divine suggestion, though he
generally records the Divine guidance in the great crises of Paul’s career; and it stands in perfect
agreement with this view, that Paul himself, when he impresses on the Galatian Churches in the
strongest terms his Divine commission to the Gentiles, does not say that the occasion of his
going among them was the Divine guidance, but expressly mentions that an illness was the cause
why he preached among them at first.
Now, every reader must be struck with the stress that is laid, alike by Paul and by Luke,
throughout their writings, on the Divine guidance. They both find the justification of all Paul’s
innovations on missionary enterprise in the guiding hand of God. We demand that there should
be a clear agreement in the occasions when they discerned that guidance; and in this case the
South Galatian theory enables us to recognise a marked negative agreement.
Further, there is evidently a marked difference between the looser way of talking about
"the hand of God"that is common in the present day, and the view entertained by Paul or Luke.
Where a great advantage results from a serious illness, many of us would feel it right to recognise
and acknowledge the "guiding hand of God"; but it is evident that, when Luke or Paul uses such
language as "the Spirit suffered them not,"they refer to some definite and clear manifestation, and
not to a guidance which became apparent only through the results. The superhuman element is
inextricably involved in Luke’s history and in Paul’s letters.
All that has just been said is, of course, mere empty verbiage, devoid of any relation to
Paul’s work and policy in Galatia, if the Churches of Galatia were not the active centres of
Roman organising effort, such as the colonies Antioch and Lystra, or busy trading cities like
Claud-Iconium and Claudio-Derbe, but Pessinus and some villages in the wilderness of the
Axylon (as Professor Zckler has quite recently maintained). Lightfoot saw the character of
Paul’s work, and supposed him to have gone to the great cities of North Galatia, and specially the
metropolis Ancyra; but the most recent development of the North-Galatian theory denies that
Paul ever saw the Roman central city.
2. THE JEWS IN ASIA AND SOUTH GALATIA. In Cyprus, Barnabas and Saul had
confined themselves within thecircle of the synagogue, until Paul stepped forth from it to address
the Roman proconsul. In entering Galatia Paul was passing from Semitic surroundings into a
province where Greek was the language of all even moderately educated
persons, and where
Grco-Roman manners and ideas were being actively disseminated and eagerly assimilated by
all active and progressive and thoughtful persons. How then did Paul, with his versatility and
adaptability, appear among the Galatians, and in what tone did he address them?
At first he adhered to his invariable custom of addressing such audience as was found
within the synagogue. There was a large Jewish population in the Phrygian district of Galatia, as
well as in Asian Phrygia (which Paul entered and traversed at a later date XIX 1). According to
Dr. Neubauer (GØographie du Talmud, p. 315), these Jews had to a considerable extent lost
connection with their country, and forgotten their language; and they did not participate in the
educated philosophy of the Alexandrian Jews: the baths of Phrygia and its wine had separated
the Ten Tribes from their brethren, as the Talmud expresses it: hence they were much more
readily converted to Christianity; and the Talmud alludes to the numerous converts.
It is much to be desired that this distinguished scholar should discuss more fully this
subject, which he has merely touched on incidentally. The impression which he conveys is
different from that which one is apt to take from the narrative in Acts ; and one would be glad to
have the evidence on which he relies stated in detail. But my own epigraphic studies in Phrygia
lead me to think that there is much in what Dr. Neubauer has said; and that we must estimate
Luke’s account from the proper point. Luke was profoundly interested in the conflict between
Paul and the Judaising party; and he recounts with great detail the stages in that conflict. That
point of view is natural in one who had lived through the conflict, before the knot was cut by the
destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70; but, though short, the struggle was far more severe than later
scholars, who see how complete was Paul’s triumph, are apt to imagine. Even to a writer of the
second century, the conflict with the Judaisers could not have bulked largely in Church history.
But to Luke that conflict is the great feature in the development of the Church. Hence he
emphasises every point in the antagonism between Paul and the Judaisers; and his readers are apt
to leave out of notice other aspects of the case. The Jews of Pisidian Antioch are not represented
as opposed to Paul’s doctrines, but only to his placing the Gentiles on an equality with
themselves (p. 101, XIII 45=rAC 13:45). A great multitude of the Iconian Jews believed (XIV
1=rAC 14:1). The few Jews of Philippi seem to have been entirely on Paul’s side: they were
probably to a great extent settlers who had come, like Lydia, in the course of trade with Asia
Minor. In Berea the Jews in a body were deeply impressed by Paul’s preaching. In Thessalonica,
however, the Jews were almost entirely opposed to him; and in Corinth it was nearly as bad,
though the archisynagogos followed him. In Corinth the Jewish colony would certainly be in
close and direct communication with Syria and Palestine by sea, more than with the Phrygian
Jews of the land road; and it is probable that the same was the case in Thessalonica, though no
facts are known to prove it.
From the recorded facts, therefore, it would appear that the Jews in central Asia Minor
were less strongly opposed to Pauline Christianity than they were in Palestine. Further, the Asian
and Galatian Jews had certainly declined from the high and exclusive standard of the Palestinian
Jews, and probably forgotten Hebrew. In Lystra we find a Jewess married to a Greek, who cannot
have come into communion with the Jews, for the son of the marriage was not submitted to the
Jewish law (XVI 1-3=rAC 16:1-3). The marriage of a Jewess to a Gentile is a more serious thing
than that of a Jew, and can hardly have come to pass except through a marked assimilation of
these Jews to their Gentile neighbours. In Ephesus the sons even of distinguished priests
practised magic, and exorcised demons in the name of Jesus (XIX 14=rAC 19:14); and Dr.
Schrer has shown that gross superstitions were practised by the Jews of Thyatira. There seems,
therefore, to be no real discrepancy between the evidence of Luke and Dr. Neubauer’s inference
about the Phrygian Jews from the Talmud.
Naturally the approximation between Jews and Gentiles in Phrygia had not been all on
one side. An active, intelligent, and prosperous minority like the Jews must have exercised a
strong influence on their neighbours. Evidence to that effect is not wanting in inscriptions (see
Cities and Bishoprics, Chap. XIV); and we may compare the readiness with which the
Antiochians flocked to the synagogue, XIII 43-4=rAC 13:43-44, and at a later time yielded to the
first emissaries of the Judaising party in the Church (Gal. I 6=rGAL 1:6). The history of the
Galatian Churches is in the closest relation to their surroundings (p. 183).
3. TONE OF PAUL’S ADDRESS TO THE GALATIAN AUDIENCES. The only
recorded sermon of Paul in Galatia was delivered in the synagogue at Antioch (p. 100).
Thereafter he "turned to the Gentiles,"and appealed direct to the populace of the city. Now Paul
was wont to adapt himself to his hearers (p. 82). Did he address the people of Antioch as
members of a nation (Phrygians, or, as Dr. Zckler thinks, Pisidians), or did he regard them as
members of the Roman Empire? We cannot doubt that his teaching was opposed to the native
tendency as one of mere barbarism and superstition; and that he regarded them as members of the
same Empire of which he was a citizen. Moreover, the Antiochians claimed to be a Greek
foundation of remote time by Magnesian settlers: that is, doubtless, a fiction (of a type
fashionable in the great cities of Phrygia), but it showsthe tendency to claim Greek origin and to
regard national characteristics as vulgar. Finally, Antioch was now a Roman colony, and its rank
and position in the province belonged to it as the representative of old Greek culture and modern
Roman government amid uncultured rustic Pisidians and Phrygians. But some North Galatian
theorists resolutely maintain that Paul could never appeal to its population as "men of the
province Galatia,"but only as "Pisidians".
We possess a letter which Paul addressed to the Galatian Churches; but it was addressed
to congregations which had existed for five years or more, and was written on a special occasion
to rebuke and repress the Judaising tendency: it moves in a series of arguments against that
tendency, and gives us little information as to the line Paul would take in addressing for the first
time a pagan audience in one of the Galatian cities (see Ch. VIII=rAC 8:1).
In writing to the Corinthian Church Paul mentions that he had adopted a very simple way
of appealing to them, and that his simple message was by some persons contrasted unfavourably
with the more philosophical style of Apollos and the more ritualistic teaching of the Judaising
Christians. But it is apparent (see p. 252) that Paul made a new departure in this respect at
Corinth; and we must not regard too exclusively what he says in that letter. Though the main
elements of his message were the same from first to last (Gal. III 1=rGAL 3:1, I Cor. II 2=r1 CO
2:2), yet it is natural and probable that there should be a certain degree of development in his
method; and in trying to recover the tone in which he first appealed to his Galatic audiences, we
are carried back to a period in his careerearlier than any of his extant letters.
The passages in Acts that touch the point are the address to his worshippers at Lystra, the
speech before the Areopagus at Athens, and, at a later time, the account which the Town-clerk at
Ephesus gave of his attitude as a preacher.
The Town-clerk of Ephesus reminded the rioters that Paul had not been guilty of
disrespect, either in action or in language, towards the patron and guardian goddess of the city.
Chrysostom in the fourth century remarks that this was a false statement to suit the occasion and
calm the riot; it seemed to him impossible that Paul should refrain from violent invective against
the false goddess, for the later Christians inveighed in merciless terms against the Greek gods,
and (as every one who tries to understand ancient religion must feel) the Apologists from the
second century onwards give a one-sided picture of that religion, describing only its worst
features, and omitting those germs of higher ideas which it certainly contained. But we cannot
suppose with Chrysostom that the clerk misrepresented the facts to soothe the popular tumult.
The effect of his speech depended on the obviousness of the facts which he appealed to; and it
would defeat his purpose, if his audience had listened to speeches in which Paul inveighed
against the goddess. If this speech is taken from real life, the clerk of Ephesus must be appealing
to well-known facts (see p. 281 f.).
Next we turn to the speech at Athens. So far was Paul from inveighing against the objects
of Athenian veneration that he expressly commended the religious feelings of the people, and
identified the God whom he had come to preach with the god whom they were blindly
worshipping. He did not rebuke or check their religious ideas, but merely tried to guide them; he
distinctly set forth the principle that the pagans were honestly striving to worship "the God that
made the world and all things therein"(p. 251 f.).
In this speech Paul lays no emphasis on the personality of the God whom he sets forth:
"what ye worship in ignorance, this set I forth unto you,"and "we ought not to think that the
Divine natureis like unto gold or silver or stone, graven by art and device of man". The popular
philosophy inclined towards Pantheism, the popular religion was Polytheistic; but Paul starts
from the simplest platform common to both there exists some- thing in the way of a Divine
nature which the religious try to please and the philosophers try to understand. That is all he
seeks as a hypothesis to start from. At Athens the speech was more philosophical in tone,
catching the spirit of a more educated populace. At Lystra it was more simple, appealing to the
witness they had of the God "who gives from heaven rain and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts
with gladness". But the attitude is the same in both cases. "God who made the heaven and the
earth in the generations gone by suffered all the nations to walk in their own ways"; and "we
bring you the good news that you should repent". That is the same tone in which at Athens he
said, "The times of ignorance God overlooked; but now He commandeth men that they should all
everywhere repent"
There is one condition, however, on which Paul insisted from the first, at Athens and at
Lystra and everywhere. The worship of idols and images was absolutely pernicious, and
concealed from the nations the God whom they were groping after and trying to find: they must
turn from these vain and dead gods to the God that lives. Hence the riot at Ephesus was got up by
the tradesmen who made images of the Goddess Artemis in her shrine, and whose trade was
threatened when the worship of images was denounced. But the denunciation of images was a
commonplace of Greek philosophy; and the idea that any efficacy resided in images was widely
regarded among the Greeks as a mark of superstition unworthy of the educated man. Paul stands
here on the footing of the philosopher, not contravening the State laws by introducing new gods,
but expounding to the people the true character of the living God whom they are seeking after.
Such was the way in which Paul introduced his Good Tidings to the peoples of the
province Galatia. From this he went on .step by step, and his method is summed up by himself,
Gal. III 1, =rGAL 3:1"Christ had been placarded before their eyes". Now was the opportunity
granted them; "through this Man is proclaimed remission of sins"(XIII 38=rAC 13:38). But if
they despised the opportunity they must beware (XIII 40-1=rAC 13:40-41), "inasmuch as He
hath appointed a day in the which He will judge the world"(XVII 31=rAC 17:31).
Paul’s teaching thus was introduced to his pagan audiences in the language of the purest
and simplest theology current among educated men. He started from those thoughts which were
familiar to all who had imbibed even the elements of Greek education. But even in the more
advanced stage of his teaching he did not cut it off from the philosophy of the time. He never
adopted that attitude of antagonism to philosophy which became customary in the second
century, springing from the changed circumstances of that period. On the contrary, he says (Col.
IV 5-6=rCOL 4:5-6, cf.Eph. V 16=rEPH 5:16): "Regulate with wisdom your conduct towards the
outside world, making your market to the full from the opportunity of this life. Let your
conversation be always gracious, seasoned with the salt and the refinement of delicacy, so as to
know the suitable reply to make to every individual."As Curtius says, with his own grace and
delicacy of perception, the Attic salt is here introduced into the sphere of Christian ethics.
Polished courtesy of address to all, was valued by Paul as a distinct and important element in the
religious life; and he advised his pupils to learn from the surrounding world everything that was
worthy in it, "making your market fully from the occasion"(a thought very inadequately
expressed in the English Version, "redeeming the time,"Col. IV 6=rCOL 4:6). But it is in Phil. IV
8=rPHP 4:8that his spirit is expressed in the fullest and most graceful and exquisite form,
"whatsoever is true, whatsoever is holy, whatsoever is just, whatsoever is pure, whatsoever is
courteous, whatsoever is of fine expression, all excellence, all merit, take account of
these,"wherever you find these qualities, notice them, consider them, imitate them.
It is not the Jew who speaks in these and many other sentences; it is the educated citizen
of the Roman world attuned to the most gracious and polished tone of educated society. We can
faintly imagine to ourselves the electrical effect produced by teaching like this on the population
of the Galatian cities, on a people who were just beginning to rise from the torpor of oriental
peasant life and to appreciate the beauty of Greek thought and the splendour of Roman power.
They found in Paul no narrow and hard bigot to dash from their lips the cup of education; they
found one who guided into the right channel all their aspirations after culture and progress, who
raised them into a finer sphere of thought and action, who showed them what wealth of meaning
lay in their simple speculations on the nature of God, who brought withintheir grasp all that they
were groping after. We can imagine how sordid and beggarly were the elements that Jewish
ritual had to offer them in comparison; and we can appreciate the tone of Paul’s letter to them,
where his argument is to recall to their minds the teaching which he had given them on his
former visit, to contrast with this freedom and graciousness and progress which he offered them
the hard cut and dry life of Jewish formalism, and to ask who had bewitched them into preferring
the latter before the former.1f16
It is remarkable that, alike at Lystra and Athens, there is nothing in the reported words of
Paul that is overtly Christian, and nothing (with the possible exception of "the man whom he hath
ordained") that several Greek philosophers might not have said. That is certainly not accidental;
the author of Acts must have been. conscious of it; and it is a strong proof of their genuineness:
no one would invent a speech for Paul, which was not markedly Christian. That remarkable
omission is explained by some commentators in the speech at Athens (e.g., Meyer-Wendt) as due
to the fact that the speech was not completed; and yet they acknowledge that the speech is a
rounded whole, and that all the specially Pauline ideas are touched in it. To look for an addition
naming the Saviour is to ignore the whole character of the speech and the scene where it was
delivered.
The same mark of genuineness occurs in the central episode of the romance of Thekla,
when we disentangle the tale of her trials at Pisidian Antioch from the incongruous and vulgar
additions by which it is disfigured. In the beautiful story as it was originally written, probably in
the latter part of the first century, Thekla appeared to the mass of the Antiochian populace to be a
devotee of "the God,"bound by a rule of service given her by direct Divine command; and she
commanded their sympath, in so far as she represented their own cause; whereas, if she had been
seen to be severing herself absolutely from their life and their religion, their sympathy would be
incredible. In this character lies the proof of its early date: the episode in its original form is
contrary to the tone of the second century.
Incidentally we notice what an anachronism it is to suppose that the attitude attribbuted in
Acts to Paul could have been conceived by a second-century author! The tone of these speeches
is of the first century, and not of the time when the Apologists were writing. In the first century
Christianity and the cerrent philosophy alike were disliked andreqressed by the Flavian
emperors, as favouring the spirit of unrest and dissatisfaction. But during the second, the Inperial
Government and the popular philosophy were in league against the increasing power of the
Church; and the tone of the speeches in incredible in a composition of that time.
Chapter VII. THE APOSTOLIC COUNCIL
1 ORIGIN OF THE COUNCIL. (XIV 27=rAC 14:27) WHEN PAUL AND BARNABAS
WERE COME TO ANTIOCH AND HAD GATHERED THE CHURCH TOGETHER, THEY
REHEARSED ALL THINGS THAT GOD HAD DONE WITH THEM, AND HOW THAT HE
HAD OPENED A DOOR OF BELIEF UNTO THE NATIONS. (28=rAC 14:28) AND THEY
TARRIED NO LITTLE TIME WITH THE DISCIPLES. (XV 1=rAC 15:1) AND CERTAIN
PERSONS CAME DOWN FROM JUDEA, AND TAUGHT THE BRETHREN, THAT
"EXCEPT YE BE CIRCUMCISED, AFTER THE CUSTOM OF MOSES, YE CANNOT BE
SAVED". (2=rAC 15:2) AND WHEN PAUL AND BARNABAS HAD NO SMALL
DISSENSION AND QUESTIONING WITH THEM, THEY (i.e.,the Brethren) APPOINTED
THAT PAUL AND BARNABAS AND CERTAIN OTHER OF THEM SHOULD GO UP TO
JERUSALEM ABOUT THIS QUESTION. (3=rAC 15:3) THEY, THEREFORE, BEING
BROUGHT ON THEIR WAY BY THE CHURCH, PASSED THROUGH BOTH PHNICE
AND SAMARIA, DECLARING THE CONVERSION OF THE NATIONS; AND THEY
CAUSED GREAT JOY UNTO ALL
THE BRETHREN.
A considerable lapse of time isimplied in v.28=rAC 14:28, during which Paul and
Barnabas resumed their former duties at Antioch (III 1=rAC 3:1). Luke, as usual, states the lapse
of time very vaguely, and it is impossible to estimate from his words the interval between Paul’s
return and the arrival of the envoys from Jerusalem (V 1=rAC 5:1). If v.28=rAC 14:28includes
only that interval, the Apostolic Council cannot have occurred before A.D. 50; but if, as is more
likely (p. 256), v.28=rAC 14:28refers to the whole residence of Paul at Antioch before and after
the Council, then probably the Council took place in the end of 49.
A difficulty (which is described in §2) occurred at Antioch as to the obligation of the
Gentile members of the Church to come under the full ceremonial regulations of the Jewish Law;
and it was resolved to send delegates to the governing body of the Church in Jerusalem about this
question. We cannot doubt that this resolution was acquiesced in by Paul; probably he even
proposed it. Now, the resolution clearly involved the recognition that Jerusalem was the
administrative centre of the Church; and this is an important point in estimating Paul’s views on
administration. With the vision of a statesman and organiser, he saw that the Church as a unified
and organised body must have an administrative centre, and that a Church of separate parts could
not be unified without such a centre, which should be not a governor over subordinates, but the
head among equals; and his whole history shows that he recognised Jerusalem as necessarily
marked out for the centre. Hence he kept before the attention of his new foundations their
relation and duty to Jerusalem; and he doubtless understood the solitary injunction given him by
the older Apostles on his second visit to Jerusalem (p. 57), as involving a charge to remember
that duty.
Moreover, he had already communicated privately with the recognised leaders in.
Jerusalem, and knew that their sentiments agreedwith his own; and he must have been fully alive
to the great step in organisation which would be made, if Antioch set the example of referring
such a question to authoritative decision in Jerusalem at a meeting where it was represented by
delegates.
In the mission of Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem it is noteworthy that the Divine action
plays no part. The Church in Antioch resolved, and the Church sent them to Jerusalem, escorting
them on their way. This is not accidental, but expresses the deliberate judgment of Paul and of
Luke. The action that led up to the Council in Jerusalem and the ineffective Decree did not
originate in Divine revelation.
The accepted view is different. There is a practically universal agreement among critics
and commentators of every shade of opinion that the visit described as the third in Acts XV=rAC
15:1 is the one that Paul describes as the second in Gal. II 1-10.=rGAL 2:1-10 Scholars who
agree in regard to scarcely any other point of early Christian history are at one in this. Now, Paul
says in his letter to the Galatians that he made his second visit in accordance with revelation.
Lightfoot tries to elude the difficulty of identifying this second visit by revelation with the third
visit without revelation recorded in Acts XV: he says (Gal., p. 125), "here there is no
contradiction. The historian naturally records the external impulse which led to the mission: the
Apostle himself states his inward motive."He quotes "parallel cases which suggest how the one
motive might supplement the other". But the parallels which he quotes to support his view seem
merely to prove how improbable it is. (1) He saysthat in Acts XIII 2, 4=rAC 13:2-4, Barnabas
and Paul were sent forth by the Holy Spirit through a direct command; while in XIII 3 they are
sent away by the Church of Antioch. But that is not the proper force of XIII 3=rAC
13:3(p. 67
f.): the Church merely gave Barnabas and Saul freedom from their duties and leave to depart,
while the Spirit "sent them out". In XV 3,=rAC 15:3on the contrary, the Church is said to have
initiated and completed the action. (2)
He founds another parallel on the mistaken idea that XXII 17=rAC 22:17and IX 29
f.=rAC 9:29refer to the same visit (p. 62).
The journey to Jerusalem occupied some time; for in Phnice and in Samaria the envoys
took the opportunity of "describing in detail the turning of the Nations to God". Here, evidently,
the newly accomplished step, "the opening of the door of faith to the Nations,"is meant. The
recital of the circumstances and results of the new step caused great joy. Now, Luke pointedly
omits Judea; and his silence is, as often elsewhere, eloquent: the recital would cause no joy in
Judea. Accordingly, we are not to suppose thatthe joy was merely caused by sympathy with the
spread of Christianity, in which the Judean Brethren would doubtless rejoice as much as any. The
joy of the people of Phnice and Samaria was due to the news of free acceptance of Gentile
converts: Paul, as he went, preached freely to all and invited all. When he did this in Phnice
and Samaria, it follows that he had been doing the same in Antioch since his return from Galatia:
the door which had once been opened, XIV 27=rAC 14:27, remained permanently open.
2. THE DISPUTE IN ANTIOCH. The new departure in Galatia and Antioch-the opening
of the door of faith to the Nations-forced into prominencethe question of the relations of Gentile
to Jewish Christians.
There had already been some prospect that this question would be opened up during
Paul’s second visit to Jerusalem (p. 56 f.); but for the moment the difficulty did not become acute.
The older Antiochian converts, as we have seen, had all entered through the door of the
synagogue; and had necessarily accepted certain prohibitions as a ruleof life. But the newly
rounded Galatian Churches contained large numbers who had joined Paul directly, without any
connection with the synagogue; in the face of Luke’s silence on such a crucial point we cannot
think that Paul imposed on them any preliminary conditions of compliance with Jewish rules;
and, if so, we must understand that the same interpretation of "the open door"characterised his
action in Antioch, Phnice and Samaria.
The Jews who had been settled for generations in the cities of Syria and Asia Minor had
lost much of their exclusiveness in ordinary life (p. 143). Moreover, the development of events in
Antioch had been gradual; and no difficulty seems to have been caused there at first by this last
step. We learn from Paul himself (Gal. II 12 f.=rGAL 2:12) that even Peter, already prepared to
some extent by his own bold action in the case of Cornelius, had no scruple in associating freely
with the Antiochian Christians in general. But the Jews of Jerusalem were far more rigid and
narrow; and when some ofthem came down on a mission to Antioch from the Church in
Jerusalem, they were shocked by the state of things which they found there. They could not well
take the ground that one Christian should not associate with another; they put their argument in a
more subtle form, and declared that no one could become in thefull sense a member of the
Church, unless he came under the Jewish Law, and admitted on his body its sign and seal: the
Nations could be received into the Church, but in the reception they must conform to the Law
(XV 2=rAC 15:2). The question, it must be clearly observed, was not whether non-Jews could be
saved, for it was admitted by all parties that they could, but how they were saved: did the path of
belief lie through the gate of the Law alone, or was there a path of belief that did not leadthrough
that gate? Had God made another door to Himself outside of the Law of Moses? Had He
practically set aside that Law, and declared it of no avail, by admitting as freely them that
disregarded it as them that believed and followed it?
When the question was put in this clear and logical form, we can well believe that Jews as
a rule shrank from all the consequences that followed from free admission of the Nations. We
can imagine that some who had answered practically by associating with the GentileChristians,
repented of their action when its full consequences were brought before them. Only rare and
exceptional natures could have risen unaided above the prejudices and the pride of generations,
and have sacrificed their Law to their advancing experience. The record confirms what we see to
be natural in the circumstances. Paul stood immovably firm; and he carried with him, after some
wavering, the leaders (but not the mass) of the Jewish Christians. This point requires careful
study.
The occasion of the dissension at Antioch is thus described by our three authorities,Luke, the Apostles at Jerusalem, and Paul himself.
Acts XV 1.=rAC 15:1
Acts XV 24.=rAC 15:24
Gal. II 12.=rGAL 2:12
CERTAIN PERSONS CAME DOWN FROM JUDEA AND TAUGHT THE
BRETHREN, THAT "IF YE BE NOT CIRCUMCISED AFTER THE MANNER OF MOSES,
YE CANNOT BE SAVED
WE HAVE HEARD THAT CERTAIN PERSONS WHICH WENT FORTH FROM US
HAVE TROUBLED YOU WITH WORDS, SUBVERTING YOUR SOULS [AND (as v.
28=rAC 14:28 implies) LAYING ON YOU GREATER BURDEN THAN THE FOUR
NECESSARY POINTS OF RITUAL].
BEFORE THAT CERTAIN PERSONS CAME FROM JAMES, PETER USED TO EAT
WITH THE GENTILES; BUT, WHEN THEY CAME, HE BEGAN TO DRAW BACK AND
SEPARATE HIMSELF, FEARING THE CHAMPIONS OF CIRCUMCISION. (14=rGAL 2:14)
BUT I SAID UNTO CEPHAS BEFORE THEM ALL, "HOW COMPELLEST THOU THE
NATIONS TO CONFORM TO JEWISH CEREMONIAL? "
It is noteworthy that Luke used the vague expression that "persons came down from
Judea,"which is made more definite in v. 24=rAC 14:24: the champions of circumcision who
caused the dissension in Antioch had come on a mission from the Apostles in Jerusalem. Luke
pointedly avoids any expression that would connect the leading Apostles with the action of these
emissaries. They had been sent from Jerusalem: but in v. 24=rAC 14:24 the Apostles disclaim all
responsibility for their action. While Luke gives all the materials for judging, the substitution of
Judea for Jerusalem in his narrative is very significant of his carefulness in the minutiof
expression. Itis in no sense incorrect (it puts the general name of the whole land in place of the
city name), and it guards against a probable misconception in the briefest way.
The incidents described in Gal. II 11-14 =rGAL 2:11-14are not usually referred to this
period; and it is therefore advisable to elicit from the words of Paul the precise situation as he
conceives it. Certain persons had come to Antioch from James: James, the head of the Church in
Jerusalem, here stands alone as "the local representative"of that Church (to borrow a phrase from
Lightfoot, Ed. Gal., p. 365).These persons had found in Antioch a situation that shocked them,
and they expressed their disapproval so strongly and effectively, that Peter shrank from
continuing the free intercourse with Gentile Christians which he had been practising. What do we
learn from the context as to their attitude? They are styled "they of the circumcision"; and this
phrase (as distinguished from the mere general expression of disagreement and dislike used
about persons of the same class in Gal. II 4) implies that they actively championed that cause
against Peter. The exact form of the argument which moved Peter is not stated explicitly by Paul
in his hurried and impassioned narrative; but we gather what it was from the terms of his
expostulation with Peter. He said to him in public: "how compellest thou the Nations to Judaise?
"The words have no force unless Peter, convinced by the Judaistic envoys, had begun to declare
that compliance with the Law was compulsory, before Gentiles could become members of the
Church fully entitled to communion with it. Accordingly, the situation described in (Gal. II 11-14
=rGAL 2:11-14is that which existed in Antioch after Paul’s return from the Galatian Churches. In
the first part of his letter to the Galatians, Paul recapitulates the chief stages in the development
of the controversy between the Judaising party in the Church, the premonitory signs on his
second visit to Jerusalem, and the subsequent open dispute with Peter in Antioch. The dispute
occurred after Paul’s second, but before his third, visit to Jerusalem, i.e., either between Acts XII
25=rAC 12:25 and XIII 1=rAC 13:1, or between XIV 26=rAC 14:26 and XV 4=rAC 15:4. Now
in XV 1=rAC 15:1(cp. v. 24=rAC 14:24) envoys from James caused strife in Antioch; and we
can hardly think that envoys also came from James after XII 25=rAC 12:25, and caused exactly
similar strife, which was omitted by Luke but recorded in Gal. II 12=rGAL 2:12. When the
question was put distinctly in all its bearings and consequences before Peter, he was unable to
resist the argument that Christians ought to observe the Law, as Christ had done, and as the
Twelve did. On one or two occasions, indeed, Christ had been taunted with permitting breaches
of the Law; but His actions could be so construed only by captious hypercriticism. It is quite
clear that Peter and the older Apostles did not for a time grasp the full import of Christ’s teaching
on this subject: the actual fact that He and they were Jews, and lived as such, made more
impression on them than mere theoretical teaching. Barnabas, even, was carried away by the
example of Peter, and admitted the argument that the Gentile Christians ought "to live as do the
Jews". Paul alone stood firm. The issue of the situation is not described by Paul; he had now
brought down his narrative to the situation in which the Galatian defection arose; and his
retrospect therefore came to an end, when he reached the familiar facts (p. 185 f.). We must
estimate from the context the general argument and what was the issue. Obviously, the rebuke
which Paul gavemust have been successful in the case of Peter and Barnabas; the immediate
success of his appeal to their better feelings constitutes the whole force of his argument to the
Galatians. The power of his letter to them lies in this, that the mere statementof the earlier stages
of the controversy is sufficient to show the impregnability of his position and the necessity of his
free and generous policy: the narrow Judaising tyranny was self-condemned; Peter was wholly
with him, and so was Barnabas; but the victory had been gained, not by listening to the older
Apostles, but by obeying "the good pleasure of God, who called me by His grace to preach Him
among the Gentiles". If the hesitation of Peter and Barnabas had resulted in an unreconciled
dispute, the force of Paul’s argument is gone: he has urged at great length that the older Apostles
were in agreement with him, and accepted him as the Apostle called to the Foreign Mission, as
they were to the Jewish Mission; and, as the climax of his argument for equality of privilege, he
says: "Peter and even Barnabas wavered for a moment from their course, when the gravity of its
consequences, viz., the supersession of the Judaic Law, was set plainly before them by some of
their friends; but I pointed out Peter’s error in one brief appeal from his present wavering to his
own past action". From this analysis we see that the issue of the situation implied in Gal. II 1114=rGAL 2:11-14 is described in Acts XV 2=rAC 15:2, 7:=rAC 15:7Barnabas joined Paul in
combating the Judaising party, and Peter championed the cause in emphatic and noble terms at
the subsequent Council in Jerusalem. That follows naturally on the interrupted narrative of the
Epist.le: the history as related in Acts completes and explains the Epist.le, and enables us to
appreciate the force of Paul’s argument and its instantaneous effect on the Galatian Churches.
It is an interesting point, that Peter used at the Council the argument in favour of freedom
with which Paul had pressed him in Antioch. Paul said to him, "In practice thou, a Jew, livest as
do the Gentiles; how then compellest thou the Gentiles to act according to the Jewish Law?
"Struck with this argument, Peter puts it in a more general form to the Council,
"Why put a yoke on them which neither we nor our fathers could bear? "It is true to
nature that he should employ to others the argument that had convinced himself.
It must, however, be confessed that while Galatians leads up excellently to Acts, and
gains greatly in force from the additional facts mentioned there, Acts is silent about the facts
narrated in Galatians. The eyewitness’s narrative gains from the historian and stands out in new
beauty from the comparison; but here Acts seems to lose by being brought into juxtaposition
with the narrative of the eye-witness. To our conception the omission of all reference to the
wavering of Barnabas and Peter appears almost like the sacrifice of historic truth, and certainly
loses a picturesque detail. But thedifference of attitude and object, I think, fully explains the
historian’s selection amid the incidents of the controversy. For him picturesque details had no
attraction; and the swerving of all the Jews except Paul from the right path seemed to him an
unessential fact, like hundreds and thousands of others which he had to leave unnoticed. The
essential fact which he had to record was that the controversy raged, and that Paul and Barnabas
championed the cause of freedom.
But, it may be objected, Barnabas had wavered, and it is not accurate to represent him as
a champion along with Paul. We reply that Paul does not make it clear how far Barnabas had
gone with the tide: the matter was one of tendency, more than of completeseparation. Peter began
to withdraw and separate himself 1f17from familiar communion with the Gentile Christian: the
resident Jews joined him in concealing their real sentiment and their ordinary conduct towards
the non-Jewish members of the Church: even Barnabas was carried off his feet by the tide of
dissembling. These words would be correct, if Barnabas had merely wavered, and been
confirmed by Paul’s arguments in private. Paul’s public rebuke was not addressed to Barnabas,
but only to Peter. There is a certain difficulty in the record; but I confess that, after trying
honestly to give full emphasis to the difficulty, I see no reason why we should not, as the issue of
the facts in Gal. II 11-14=rGAL 2:11-14conceive Barnabas to have come forward as a thoroughgoing advocate of the Pauline doctrine and practice.
Moreover, the difficulty remains, and becomes far more serious, on the ordinary view that
the incidents of Gal. II 11-14occurred after the Council in Jerusalem. According to that view,
Barnabas, when delegates came from Jerusalem (Acts XV 2, 24=rAC 15:24), resisted them
strenuously, represented the cause of freedom as an envoy to Jerusalem, and obtained an
authoritative Decree from the Apostles disowning the action of the delegates, and emphatically
condemning it as "subverting your souls"thereafter delegates came again from James, the same
Apostle that had taken the foremost part in formulating the recent Decree;1f18 but this time
Barnabas, instead of resisting, weakly yielded to their arguments.
Worse, almost, is the conduct of Peter in that view. When the ease came up before the
Council to be considered in all its bearings and solemnly decided, he, "after there had been much
discussion"(in which we may be sure that the consequences were fully emphasised by the
Judaising party), appeared as the most outspoken advocate of freedom, and declared that "we
must not demand from them what we ourselves have been
unable to endure"Shortly after the
Council (onthat view), Peter went to Antioch and put in practice the principle of freedom for
which he had contended at the Council. But "certain persons came from James"the same Apostle
that had supported him in the Council; these persons reopened the controversy; and Peter
abandoned his publicly expressed conviction, which in a formal letter was declared with his
approval to be the word of the Holy Spirit.
We are asked to accept as a credible narrative this recital of meaningless tergiversation,
which attributes to Peter and to Barnabas, not ordinary human weakness and inability to answer a
grave issue at the first moment when it is presented to them, but conduct devoid of reason or
sanity. Who can wonder that many who are asked to accept this as history, reply that one of the
two authors responsible for the two halves of the recital has erred and is untrustworthy? For the
truth of history itself one must on that theory distrust one of the two documents. That is not the
faith, that is not the conduct, which conquered the world! The only possible supposition would
be that the Apostles were men unusually weak, ignorant, and inconstant, who continually went
wrong, except where the Divine guidance interposed to keep them right. That theory has been
and is still held by some; but it removes the whole development of Christianity out of the sphere
of history into the sphere of the supernatural and the marvellous, whereas the hypothesis on
which this investigation is based is that it was a process intelligible according to ordinary human
nature, and a proper subject for the modern historian.
It is true that Peter once before denied his own affirmed principles, but that was when he
was younger, when he was a mere pupil, when a terrible strain was put on him; but this denial is
supposed to have been made when he was in the maturity of his power, after he had experienced
the quickening sense of responsibility as a leader of the Church for many years, and after his
mind and will had been enlarged and strengthened at the great Pentecost (see p. 365).
Further, according to the view stated by Lightfoot, the feeble action of Peter and
Barnabas in Antioch produced lasting consequences: it "may have prepared the way for the
dissension between Paul and Barnabas which shortly afterwards led to their separation. From this
time forward they never appear again associated together."If it was so serious, the total omission
of it by Luke becomes harder to understand and reconcile with the duty of a historian; whereas, if
it was (as we suppose) a mere hesitation when the question was first put explicitly, it was not of
sufficient consequence to demand a place in his history.
Peter’s visit to Antioch was not of the same character as his visits to Samaria and other
Churches at an earlier time, in which he was giving the Apostolic approval to the congregations
established there. The first visit of Barnabas to Antioch, followed by theAntiochian delegation
toJerusalem (XI 28,=rAC 11:28XII 25=rAC 12:25), and
the recognition of Paul and Barnabas as Apostles (Gal. II 9), had placed Antioch on a
recognised and independent basis (XIII 1=rAC 13:1). In Luke’s view, therefore, as in
Paul’s, Peter’s visit was not a step in the development of the Church in Antioch, as
Barnabas’s had been.
3. THE COUNCIL. (XV 4=rAC 15:4) AND WHEN THEY WERE COME TO
JERUSALEM, THEY WERE RECEIVED BY THE CHURCH AND THE APOSTLES AND
THE ELDERS, AND THEY REHEARSED ALL THINGS THAT GOD HAD DONE WITH
THEM. (5=rAC 15:5) BUT THERE ROSE UP CERTAIN OF THE SECT OF THE
PHARISEES WHO BELIEVED, SAYING, "IT IS NEEDFUL TO CIRCUMCISE THEM, AND
TO CHARGE THEM TO KEEP THE LAW OF MOSES". (6=rAC 15:6) AND THE APOSTLES
AND THE ELDERS WERE GATHERED TOGETHER TO CONSIDER OF THIS MATTER.
(7=rAC 15:7) AND WHEN THERE HAD BEEN MUCH DISCUSSION, PETER ROSE AND
SPOKE. (12=rAC 15:12) AND ALL THE MULTITUDE KEPT SILENCE; AND THEY
HEARKENED UNTO BARNABAS AND PAUL, WHO REHEARSED WHAT SIGNS AND
WONDERS GOD HAD WROUGHT AMONG THE NATIONS BY THEM. (13=rAC 15:13)
AND AFTER THEY HAD CEASED, JAMES SPOKE.
At Jerusalem there occurred in the first place a general meeting of the Church as a whole
to receive and welcome the delegates. The Apostles and the Elders are specified as taking part in
the meeting; and the separate article before each name implies distinct action
of each body. At this meeting the delegates explained the circumstances which had
caused their mission; and the extreme members of the Judaising party, who are described here as
Pharisees, stated their view forthwith.
A mark of the developed situation since Paul’s last visit must be noted in v. 4=rAC 15:4.
Paul and Barnabas now expound in a formal and public way all their missionary experience; but
on their previous visit, Paul privately submitted to the leaders of the Church his views as to
missionary enterprise.
Thereupon, a special meeting of the Apostles and the Elders was held to consider the
matter, and a long discussion took place. Peter delivered a speech in favour of complete freedom
for the new converts; and the effect which he produced was shown by the patienthearing
accorded to Barnabas and to Paul, as they recounted the proofs of Divine grace and Divine action
in the test that God was with them. Thus, the course of the meeting was very similar to the
discussion that followed after the conversion ofCornelius (XI 1-18=rAC 11:1-18). The general
sense was clearly against the claim of the extreme Judaistic party (called "them of the
circumcision"XI 2,=rAC 11:2Gal. II 12=rGAL 2:12).
But, while the champions of circumcision were clearly in the minority, apparently a
decided feeling was manifest in favour of some concessions to the Jewish feeling and practice:
the Nations were to be received into the Church, but the widened Church was not to be apart
from and independent of the old Jewish community: it was to be "a rebuilding of the tabernacle
of David". To render possible a real unanimity of feeling, the Nations must accept the
fundamental regulations of purity. The chairman’s speech summed up the sense of the meeting in
a way that was universally accepted. James, the recognised head of the Church in Jerusalem,
said:(XV 14=rAC 15:14) SYMEON HATH REHEARSED HOW FIRST GOD TOOK CARE
TO GATHER FROM AMONG THE NATIONS A PEOPLE FOR HIS NAME. (15=rAC 15:15)
AND TO THIS AGREE THE WORDS OF THE PROPHETS: AS IT IS WRITTEN, (16=rAC
15:16) "I WILL BUILD AGAIN THE TABERNACLE OF DAVID, (17=rAC 15:17) THAT
THE RESIDUE OF MEN MAY SEEK AFTER THE LORD, AND ALL THE NATIONS,
OVER WHOM MY NAME IS PRONOUNCED,"SAITH THE LORD, .WHO MAKETH
THESE THINGS (18=rAC 15:18) KNOWN FROM THE BEGINNING OF TIME.1f19(19=rAC
15:19) WHEREFORE MY VOICE IS THAT WE TROUBLE NOT THEM WHICH FROM
AMONG THE NATIONS TURN TO GOD; (20=rAC 15:20) BUT SEND INSTRUCTIONS TO
THEM TO ABSTAIN FROM THE POLLUTIONS OF IDOLS AND FROM MARRIAGE
WITHIN THE DEGREES FORBIDDEN BY THE LAW, AND FROM WHAT IS
STRANGLED, AND FROM the use ofBLOOD as food. (21=rAC 15:21) FOR MOSES FROM
ANCIENT GENERATIONS HATH IN EVERY CITY THEM THAT PREACH HIM, AS HE IS
READ IN THE SYNAGOGUES EVERY SABBATH.
James grounds his advice for partial conformity on the fact, v. 21=rAC 15:21, that the
Mosaic Law had already spread widely overthe cities of the empire, and that the existing facts
which facilitated intercourse between Jews and "God-fearing"pagans should be continued.
He grounds his advice for freedom from the rest of the Law on the declared will of God,
first by prophecy in time long past, and afterwards by revelation to Peter, that the Nations should
be admitted to the tabernacle of David, from which he infers that their own duty is to make
admission easy.
Incidentally we observe that James used the Septuagint Version, quoting loosely from
Amos IX 11, 12,=rAM 9:11-12a passage where the telling point for his purpose occurs only in
the Greek and not in the Hebrew Version.
Another point of development since Paul’s second visit to Jerusalem must be noticed here.
On the second visit, as Paul declares, the recognised leaders in Jerusalem gave him no advice and
no instruction, except to remember the poverty of the brethren there. It would. be hard to put that
in more emphatic terms than he uses (p. 56). But on the thirdvisit, the delegates bring a question
for settlement, and receive from the recognised leaders in Jerusalem an authoritative response,
giving a weighty decision in a serious matter of practical work. a decision that would have been
epoch-making, if it had been permanently carried into effect. On the second visit the difficulty
could be foreseen; between the second and third visit it became acute; at the third visit it was
settled in a way that was a distinct rebuff to the Judaising party, but notacomplete triumph for the
party of freedom. It would not be honest to use the words of Gal. II 10 =rGAL 2:10about the visit
described in Acts XV=rAC 15:1
Another contrast between the second and the third visit must be observed. The Church
sent forth several delegates along with Paul and Barnabas on the third journey; but on the second
they were the sole delegates. The common view, which identifies the second visit of Gal. II 1-10
=rGAL 2:1-10with the third visit of Acts XV=rAC 15:1, is defended by its supporters on the
ground that Titus, who went along with Paul (Gal. II 1=rGAL 2:1), was one of the additional
delegates mentioned, XV 2.=rAC 15:2 This argument sins against the facts. In Gal. II 1=rGAL
2:1Titus is defined as a subordinate, and not as one of the delegates;*we have no reason to think
that any subordinates went up to the Council, whereas it was necessary for the work of the
second visit to use assistants. Moreover, wemay be certain that, if Paul did take any subordinates
with him to the Council, he was too prudent and diplomatic to envenom a situation already
serious and difficult by taking. an uncircumcised Greek with him. It was different on a later visit,
when the authoritative decree had decided against circumcision, or on an earlier visit, before the
question was raised; but when that question was under discussion, it would have been a harsh
and heedless hurt to the susceptibilities of the other party, to take Titus with him; and Paul never
was guilty of such an act. The example of Timothy shows how far he went about this time in
avoiding any chance of hurting Jewish feeling.
4. THE DECREE. (XV 22=rAC 15:22) THEN IT SEEMED GOOD TO THE
APOSTLES AND ELDERS, WITH THE WHOLE CHURCH, TO CHOOSE MEN OUT OF
THEIR COMPANY, AND SEND THEM TO ANTIOCH WITH PAUL AND BARNABAS,
namely, JUDAS CALLED BARSABBAS, AND SILAS, CHIEF MEN AMONG THE
BRETHREN. (23=rAC 15:23) AND THEY SENT A LETTER BY THEIR MEANS: "THE
APOSTLES AND THE ELDERS [BRETHREN]*f21UNTO THE BRETHREN WHICH ARE
OF THE NATIONS IN ANTIOCH AND SYRIA AND CILICIA, GREETING. (24=rAC 15:24)
FORASMUCH AS WE HAVE HEARD THAT CERTAIN WHICH WENT OUT FROM US
HAVE TROUBLED YOU WITH WORDS, SUBVERTING YOUR SOULS; TO WHOM WE
GAVE NO COMMANDMENT; (25=rAC 15:25) IT SEEMED GOOD UNTO US, HAVING
COME TO ONE ACCORD, TO CHOOSE OUT MEN AND SEND THEM UNTO YOU WITH
OUR BELOVED BARNABAS AND PAUL, (26=rAC 15:26) MEN THAT HAVE
HAZARDED THEIR LIVES FOR THE NAME OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. (27=rAC
15:27) WE HAVE SENT THEREFORE JUDAS AND SILAS, WHO THEMSELVES ALSO
SHALL TELL YOU THE SAME THINGS BY WORD OF MOUTH. (28=rAC 15:28) FOR IT
SEEMED GOOD TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, AND TO US, TO LAY UPON YOU NO GREATER
BURDEN THAN THESE NECESSARY THINGS. (29=rAC 15:29) THAT YE ABSTAIN
FROM THINGS SACRIFICED TO IDOLS, AND FROM BLOOD, AND FROM THINGS
STRANGLED, AND FROM MARRIAGE WITHIN THE DEGREES; FROM WHICHYE
KEEP YOURSELVES, IT SHALL BE WELL WITH YOU. FARE YE WELL."
The Decree is, as Lightfoot says, a compromise. On the one hand the extreme Judaising
party is entirely disowned and emphatically condemned, as "subverting the souls"of the Gentiles.
But, on the other hand, part of the Law is declared to be obligatory; and the word selected is very
emphatic (ejpavnagkes). If this word be taken in its full sense, the Decree lacks unity of purpose
and definiteness of principle; it passes lamely from side to side. Now it seems impossible to
suppose that Paul could have accepted a Decree which declared mere points of ritual to be
compulsory; and one of them he afterwards emphatically declared to be not compulsory (I Cor.
VIII 4 f.=r1 CO 8:4). But those who had listened to the speeches of Peter and James, and were
familiar with the situation in which the question had emerged, were prepared to look specially at
the exordium with its emphatic condemnation of the Judaising party; and thereafter, doubtless,
they took the concluding part as a recommendation, and regarded the four points as strongly
advised in the interests of peace and unity.
But the real power of a law lies in its positive enactment; and most people would look
only to what the Decree ordered. Now, whether or not the last sentences mustbear the sense, they
certainly maynaturally bear the sense, that part of the Law was absolutely compulsory for
salvation, and that the Nations were released from the rest as a concession to their weakness: "we
lay on you no greater burden than these necessary conditions". This seemed to create two grades
of Christians: a lower class of weaker persons, who could not observe the whole Law, but only
the compulsory parts of it, and a higher class, who were strong enough to obey the whole Law.
The Gentile Christians were familiar in the pagan religions with distinctions of grade; for stages
of initiation into the Mysteries existed everywhere. It was almost inevitable that a Decree, which
lays down no clear and formal principle of freedom, should in practice be taken as making a
distinction between strong and weak, between more and less advanced Christians; and it is
certain that it was soon taken in that sense.
The question is often asked, why this letter was not addressed also to the Churches of
Galatia; and several answers are suggested. But the answer which seems obvious from our point
of view is that the letter was addressed only to those who asked the question. The provincial
organisation of the Church began through the compulsion of circumstances (p. 135): there must
either be a provincial organisation or no organisation. The principle, when it has been once
stated, is self-evident. Circumstances made Antioch the centre of the Church in the province
Syria and Cilicia; and the address of this letter attests the recognition of that fact and its
consequences.
Hence, when Paul went forth on his next journey, he did not communicate the Decree to
the Churches in Syria and Cilicia, XV 41=rAC 15:41, because they had already received it, when
it was first sent out. But, when he and Silas reached Galatia, "they delivered them the decrees for
to keep, which had been ordained of the Apostles and Elders,"XVI 4. But the Bezan Reviser, not
understanding this delicate distinction, interpolated the statement in XV 41=rAC 15:41, that Paul
and Silas "delivered the instructions of the Apostles and EIders".
5. THE RETURN TO ANTIOCH. (XV 30=rAC 15:30) SO THEY, BEING SET FREE
TO DEPART, CAME DOWN TO ANTIOCH; AND HAVING GATHERED THE
MULTITUDE TOGETHER, THEY DELIVERED THE LETTER. (31=rAC 15:31) AND
WHEN THEY HAD READ IT, THEY REJOICED AT THE ENCOURAGEMENT. (32=rAC
15:32) AND JUDAS AND SILAS ON THEIR OWN ACCOUNT ALSO, INASMUCH AS
THEY WERE PROPHETS, ENCOURAGED THE BRETHREN AT GREAT LENGTH, AND
CONFIRMED THEM. (33=rAC 15:33) AND AFTER THEY HAD SPENT SOME TIME,
THEY WERE SET FREE BY THE BRETHREN TO DEPART IN PEACE TO THEM THAT
SENT THEM FORTH; (34=rAC 15:34) But it pleased Silas to abide there still. (35=rAC 15:35)
AND PAUL AND BARNABAS TARRIED IN ANTIOCH, TEACHING AND PREACHING
THE WORD OF THE LORD, WITH MANY OTHERS ALSO. (36=rAC 15:36) AND AFTER
CERTAIN DAYS PAUL SAID . . .
As in XI 24=rAC 11:24, so here, v. 32=rAC 15:32, the qualification of Judas and Silas
for exhorting the congregation is carefully stated. Luke lays such evident stress on proper
qualification, that he seems to have considered Divine gifts necessary in any one that was to
address a congregation (p. 45).
After the Council, Paul and Barnabas returned to their ordinary duties in Antioch, where
the number of qualified prophets and teachers was now larger than in XIII 1=rAC 13:1. They
remained there a short time (v. 36=rAC 15, cp. IX 19=rAC 9:19, 23=rAC 9:23). The second
journey began probably in the spring of the year 50.
At some period v.34=rAC 15:34was deliberately omitted from the next, from the
mistaken idea that v. 33=rAC 15:33, declared the actual departure of Judas and Silas: but the
officials of the Church in Antioch (the Elders? ) simply informed Judas and Silas that their duties
were concluded and they were free to return home, and Silas did not avail himself of the
permission. Considering how XII 25=rAC 12:25 prepares the way for XIII 5=rAC 13:5, we must
hold that XV 34 =rAC 15:34is genuine and prepares for XV 40=rAC 15:40; and the fact that the
Bezan Reviser found 34=rAC 15:34 is the text and added to it the comment "and Judas went
alone,"constitutes a distinct proof of its genuineness. It is not that any difficulty need be found in
Paul selecting Silas from Jerusalem, for Barnabas here takes Mark from Jerusalem (XIIl 13=rAC
13:13). But it is one of the points of Luke’s style to furnish the material for understanding a new
departure, and the very marked statement that Silas voluntarily remained, when his official duty
was declared to be at an end, makes the next event much more intelligible (p. 176). There is in
the sequence of thought 33-4=rAC 15:33-34a certain harshness (characteristic of Luke when he
wants to draw attention to a point); and this led to the omission of 34=rAC 15:34in the great
MSS. and by many modern editors.
6. THE SEPARATION OF PAUL AND BARNABAS. (xv 36=rAC 15:36) AND AFTER
SOME DAYS PAUL SAID UNTO BARNABAS, "LET US RETURN NOW AND VISIT THE
BRETHREN IN EVERY CITY WHEREIN WE PROCLAIMED THE WORD OF THE LORD,
HOW THEY FARE". (37=rAC 15:37) AND BARNABAS WAS MINDED TO TAKE WITH
THEM JOHN ALSO, WHO WAS CALLED MARK. (38=rAC 15:38) BUT PAUL THOUGHT
NOT GOOD TO TAKE WITH THEM HIM THAT WITHDREW FROM THEM FROM
PAMPHYLIA AND WENT NOT WITH THEM TO THE WORK. (39=rAC 15:39) AND
THERE AROSE A SHARP CONTENTION, SO THAT THEY PARTED ASUNDER ONE
FROM THE OTHER; AND BARNABAS TOOK MARK WITH HIM, AND SAILED AWAY
UNTO CYPRUS; (40=rAC 15:40) BUT PAUL CHOSE SILAS AND WENT FORTH, BEING
COMMENDED BY THE BRETHREN TO THE GRACE OF THE LORD: AND HE WENT
THROUGH SYRIA AND CILICIA, CONFIRMING THE CHURCHES.
Barnabas here passes out of this history. The tradition, as stated in the apocryphal
Periodoi Barnab, a very late work, was that he remained in Cyprus till his death; and the fact
that Mark reappears at a later stage without Barnabas, is in agreement. At any rate his work,
wherever it was carried on, did not, in Luke’s estimation, contribute to work out the idea of the
organised and unified Church. That idea was elaborated in Paul’s work; and the history is guided
by Paul’s activity from the moment when he began to be fully conscious of the true nature of his
work. Others contributed to the earlier stages, but, as it proceeded, all the other personages
became secondary, and Paul more and more the single moving genius.
The choice of Silas was, of course, due to his special fitness for the work, which had been
recognised during his ministration in Antioch. Doubtless he had shown tact and sympathy in
managing the questions arising from the relations of the Gentile Christians to the Jews. His
sympathies had also been shown by his preferring to remain in the mixed and freer congregation
in Antioch, when he had been at liberty to return to Jerusalem.
The name Silas is a familiar diminutive of Silvanus; and the full and more dignified form
is employed in the superscription of the two letters to the Thessalonians. Silvanus is a Latin
name; and Silas is implied in XVI 37=rAC 16:37 to have been a Roman citizen. It may, however,
be looked on as certain that he was a Hebrew, for only a Hebrew would have been a leading man
among the
Brethren at Jerusalem (XV 22=rAC 15:22). His double character,
Hebrew and Roman, was in itself a qualification for a coadjutor of Paul; and, doubtless,
the Roman side of his character caused that freedom from narrow Judaistic prejudice which
shines through his action.
It appears from the term employed in v. 40=rAC 15:40 that Silas took the place of
Barnabas, not of Mark. The latter was a mere unofficial companion in every case, as is shown by
the word used.*f22The verbs in the next few verses are all singular; though it is clear that Silas is
concerned in many of the actions. The singular was preferred by Luke because certain of the
actions were special to Paul, the choosing of Silas and of Timothy. There is a decided harshness
in the narrative that follows, owing to the variation between the singular and the plural. At some
points in the action Paul monopolises the author’s attention; and probably the expression, harsh
though it be grammatically, corresponds to the facts. At the opening of the journey Paul alone is
the subject: now at the opening the new comrade was untrained to the work. After a time the
plural begins, XVI 4, and, wherever travelling is described, it is employed; but, when the
direction given to missionary work is alluded to, Silas disappears, and Paul alone is the subject,
XVII 2.=rAC 17:2
Chapter VIII. HISTORY OF THE CHURCHES OF GALATIA
1. THE VISIT OF PAUL AND SILAS. (XVI 1) AND HE CAME ALSO TO DERBE
AND TO LYSTRA; AND BEHOLD A CERTAIN DISCIPLE WAS THERE NAMED
TIMOTHY, THE SON OF A JEWESS WHICH BELIEVED; BUT HIS FATHER WAS A
GREEK. (2) THE SAME HAD A GOOD REPUTATION AMONG THE BRETHREN THAT
WERE IN LYSTRA AND ICONIUM. (3) HIM WOULD PAUL HAVE TO GO FORTH WITH
HIM; AND HE TOOK AND CIRCUMCISED HIM BECAUSE OF THE JEWS THAT WERE
IN THOSE PARTS, FOR THEY ALL KNEW THAT HIS FATHER WAS A GREEK. (4) AND
AS THEY WERE PASSING THROUGH THE CITIES, THEY in each DELIVERED THEM
THE DECREES FOR TO KEEP, WHICH HAD BEEN ORDAINED OF THE APOSTLES AND
ELDERS THAT WERE AT JERUSALEM. (5) THE CHURCHES THEN WERE
STRENGTHENED IN THE FAITH, AND INCREASED IN NUMBER DAILY. (6) AND
THEY MADE A MISSIONARY PROGRESS THROUGH THE PHRYGIAN REGION OF the
province GALATIA (the Phrygo-Galatic Region.)
In v. 1 it is implied that Derbe and Lystra are a pair, constituting a district (p. 110). The
work of this journey is divided according to districts: (1) Syria and Cilicia, a single Roman
province; (2) Derbe and Lystra, a region of the province Galatia, which is here indicated by its
two cities as the most convenient way, because in one. of them a considerable halt had to be
described; (3) the Phrygian region of the province Galatia; (4) Asia, where preaching was
forbidden, was traversed transversely to its northwestern point after an unsuccessful effort to
enter the province Bithynia for missionary purposes. Between Cilicia and Derbe the great realm
of Antiochus is omitted from the narrative, as being a non-Roman territory and out of Paul’s
plans.
Derbe and Lystra are grouped together as a Region, but the author dwells only on Lystra.
The only reason why they are grouped together and separated from the districts that precede and
follow, lies in the Roman classification, which made them a group. But in order to mark that
Lystra alone is referred to in the sequel, the historian repeats the preposition before it: "he came
to Derbe and to Lystra".
In v. 2 Lystra and Iconium are grouped together as the district where Timothy was well
known. It is implied that he was not known at Derbe. This again is true to the facts of commerce
and intercourse. Lystra is much nearer Iconium than it is to Derbe; and geographically, Lystra
goes along with Iconium, while Derbe goes with Laranda and that part of Lycaonia. Neither
blood nor Roman classification could prevent commerce from running in its natural channels
(XIV 19). The nearest city to Iconium was Lystra, and the nearest to Lystra was Iconium; and the
relations between them must always be close.
The historian is careful to add in this case, as he does about the Seven Deacons (VI 3),
about Cornelius (X 22, cp.2), and as Paul does about Ananias (XXII 12), and as is implied in I
21, that Timothy had so lived as to bear a good character in the district where he was known. It is
not meant that Paul went about taking the opinion of Lystra and Iconium about Timothy, any
more than it is meant in X 22 that Cornelius’s messengers went collecting evidence about him all
over Palestine: we may be sure that in such a selection Paul depended on his own insight, guided
perhaps by Divine approval. The author adds this information about the good repute of Timothy,
because he considered good repute one of the conditions of appointment to any office however
humble in the Church. He is interested in all questions of organisation, and we may compare
what he says about the qualification of preachers (pp. 45, 174). As a point of literary style we
note that the event of a new and important character is marked by an unusually detailed account
of him.
We infer from the expression that in vv. 1-3 Paul and Silas have not gone beyond Lystra;
and that it is a misconception to think that in v. 2 Paul is in Iconium. At Lystra Paul felt that,
along the route which he intended to take, the Jews knew Timothy’s father to be a Greek: he was
going along a frequented route of trade, on which were colonies of Jews in communication with
each other, for there can be no doubt that his plan was to go by Iconium and Antioch into Asia.
The opinion has sometimes been held that at this point Paul abandoned the visitation of his
Churches as contemplated in XV 36; and that "the fact that God put this companion in his way
served as a warning to him to go direct from Lykaonia to a new mission-field"(see Weiss’s note
on XVI 2). But, on the contrary, our view is that, when Luke records any deliberately formed
intention on Paul’s part, he leaves us to understand that it was carried out, if no intimation to the
contrary is given (p. 342); and that Timothy here was taken as companion for the route as first
planned, to fill the place of John Mark on the previous journey. There seems no reason to think
(as Blass does) that one or more subordinates accompanied Paul from Syrian Antioch. It is not
improbable that Paul, owing to previous experience, thought of Timothy as a companion even
before he left Antioch.
Paul then proceeded on his intended route through the Phrygian Region of the province,
whose two cities visited on the previous journey were Iconium and Pisidian Antioch. The cities
are not specially named, as nothing striking or important occurred in either. It is implied that no
Church had been rounded on the former journey in Pisidia or Pamphylia; and hence Paul had no
Churches to review and confirm there. The reference to Pisidia (a Region of the province
Galatia) in XIV 24 does not suggest that any success was attained there; and we may find in the
list of I Peter I 1 a clear proof that there was no Church in Pamphylia at a date considerably later.
That list is clearly intended to exhaust the Church in Asia Minor; and it mentions every province
except Lycia and Pamphylia (which, therefore, did not yet contain any Churches, and seem to
have long resisted Christianity), and Cilicia, which was part of Syria. The list, incidentally,
shows that already in the first century a certain coherence was perceptible between the various
Churches of Asia Minor, as distinguished from Syria and Cilicia. That springs naturally from the
political conditions, and it grew stronger as time passed, until the two divisions became the
patriarchates of Constantinople and of Antioch.
At this point Luke inserts an account of Paul’s action in the cities through which he was
making his way. It is in his style to put this account near the beginning and expect the reader to
apply it in all subsequent cases (p. 72). It does not apply to Cilicia (p. 173), and could not
therefore be given sooner. In each city Paul and Silas delivered the Decree, and urged the Gentile
converts to observe the necessary points of Jewish ritual; and everywhere the congregations were
vigorous and growing. We cannot mistake the emphasis laid by the historian on Paul’s loyal
determination to carry out the Apostolic Decree. and his anxiety to go as far as was honestly
possible in the way of conciliating the Jews: that is in keeping with his view that the entire blame
for the rupture between Paul and the Jews lay with the latter. But, if Paul was so anxious at this
time to recommend the Decree to his converts, why does he never refer to it in any of his
subsequent letters, even where he touches on points that were formally dealt with in the Decree,
and why does he give advice to the Corinthians about meat offered to idols, which certainly
strains the Decree to the utmost, if it be not actually inconsistent with it? The explanation lies in
the immediate consequences of his action in the Galatian Churches.
2. THE DESERTION OF GALATIANS. Soon after Paul left the province Galatia, there
came to it missionaries of the Judaising party, who taught the Galatian Churches to take that
view of the Apostolic Decree which we have described on p. 172 f. They pointed out that Paul
himself recognised the principle that circumcision was needed for the higher grade of Christian
service; for when he selected Timothy for a position of responsibility in the Church, he, as a
preliminary, performed the rite on him; and they declared that thereby he was, in effect,
"preaching circumcision"(Gal. V 11). Further, they threw doubt on his sincerity in this act; and
insinuated that he was reluctantly complying with necessity, in order to "conciliate and ingratiate
himself with"the mass of the Church (see Lightfoot on Gal. I 10). Above all they insisted on the
existence of the two grades of Christians; they pointed out that Paul had himself delivered and
recommended the Apostolic Decree which recognised the distinction of weaker and stronger
Brethren; and they urged the Galatians to strive to attain to the higher, and not rest content with
the lower grade, which was a mere concession to weakness.
Such teaching found a ready response in the minds of the Galatian Christians. Many of
them had first heard Paul preaching in the synagogue, many had come under the influence of
Judaism to some extent even before Paul entered Galatia; all were ready to accept the belief that,
as the Jews were always the first in Paul’s own plans, and as Christianity came from the Jews,
therefore it was right to imitate the Jews (p. 144). It was precisely the most enthusiastic and
devoted, who would be eager to rise to the highest and most difficult stage of Christian life.
Further, the Judaistic emissaries urged that Paul was merely the messenger and
subordinate of the Twelve, that these original Apostles and leaders of the Church must be
accepted as the ultimate guides. and that where Paul swerved from their teaching he was in error;
and they claimed likewise to be the messengers come direct from the Twelve to communicate
their latest views. Paul had recently delivered the Decree of the older Apostles; and now later
messengers supplemented and elucidated the Decree.
3. LETTER TO THE CHURCHES OF GALATIA. Paul saw that his vision of the Church
that should unite the civilised world was a vain dream, if it were to be bound by the fetters of
Judaism; and he felt, as soon as he heard of this defection, that it must be met at once. If these
Churches, his first foundations towards the west, were to pass under the party of slavery, his
work was ruined at its inception: the blow to his policy and his influence was ruinous. One of the
arguments by which the change had been produced was especially galling to him: his efforts at
conciliation were taken advantage of to distort his motives, and to represent him as inconsistent
and temporising, and his attempts to soothe the prejudices of the Judaistic party were treated as
attempts at compromise. Hence he bursts forth at the outset in a strain of terrific vehemence
(which I purposely give as far as possible in Lightfoot’s language): "Though we (i.e., Silas and
1), or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we
preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we have told you before, so now once more I say, if
any man preacheth unto you any gospel other than that which ye received, let him be anathema.
What! does my boldness startle you? Is this, I ask, the language of a time-server? Will any one
say now that, careless of winning the favour of God, I seek to conciliate men, to ingratiate myself
with men? I speak thus strongly, for my language shall not be misconstrued, shall wear no
semblance of compromise"(Gal. I 8-10). And towards the end of his letter he returns to the same
point: "What! do I who have incurred the deadly hatred of the Judaisers, who am exposed to
continual persecution from them, do I preach circumcision? If so, why do they persecute me?
Surety what scandalises them in my teaching, the crucifixion with its atonement for sin, has been
done away with, if I have, as they say, taken to their method, and begun to preach
circumcision"(V 11).
Satisfied with the vehemence of the first outburst, and the sarcasm .of the second, Paul
wastes no argument to prove that he has been consistent throughout. He knows that the Galatic
Churches cannot really believe that part of his adversaries’arguments: they feel in their hearts that
he has always been true to the first Gospel; and he proceeds to remind them of its origin and its
hold on them, in order to enforce the conclusion that they must cling to the first Gospel, whoever
it be that preaches any other. His argument, therefore, is directed to show that he came among
them in the beginning with a message direct from God: "the Gospel which was preached by me is
not after man"(I 11): "it came to me through revelation of Jesus". Then he proceeds to show, by
appealing to the facts, that he had not had the opportunity of learning anything from the
recognised pillars of the Church. When it pleased God to reveal Jesus in him, bitter enemy of the
Church as he was, he "conferred not with flesh and blood,"but went away for solitary meditation
into Arabia. He was made by God His Apostle to the Nations years before he conferred with any
of the Apostles. Twice at a later date did he go up to Jerusalem, in one case remaining fifteen
days and seeing only Peter and James, in the second going up at the Divine command to help the
poor at Jerusalem (II 10)-on which occasion, as a matter of fact, no injunction was laid on his
Greek assistant Titus to accept the Judaic rite-and receiving the recognition of his Apostleship,
but no instruction, from the heads of the Church (p. 56 f.).
Here in passing let us ask the question, Did Paul in this autobiographical sketch, given in
such solemn yet vehement style, with the oath by God that he is not deceiving them-did Paul, I
say, omit to mention that he had paid another visit to Jerusalem between the two that he
describes? The question seems almost an insult; yet many scholars of the highest order consider
that he here leaves out of sight the visit described by Luke, XI 28-30, and XII 25. I confess that,
after studying all that the orthodox scholars say on this point I find a higher conception of Paul’s
character and truthfulness in the position of the critics who conclude that Luke utterly
misconceived the sequence of events in early Christian history and interpolated an intermediate
visit where no visit occurred, than in Bishop Lightfoot’s position that "of this visit Paul makes no
mention here". Paul ’s argument is rounded on the rarity of his visits, and his aim is to show that
on these visits he received no charge from the Twelve. Reason and truth rebel against the idea
that he left out the middle visit. If he passed over part of the facts here, what situation can be
imagined in which he would feel obliged to tell all the facts? And on that supposition, that Paul
omitted a fact so essential to his purpose and to honest autobiography, the entire body of
orthodox scholars have built up their theory of early Church history! It cannot be! Luke’s second
visit must be Paul’s second visit; and when we build boldly on that plain foundation, the history
rises before us in order and symmetry.
But further, it is obvious that Paul appeals with absolute confidence to this second visit as
proving his ease: he evidently conceives that he has merely to recall the facts to the Galatians in
order to make all clear. Now, there is one situation in which a man is obviously not receiving
from others, and that is when he is actually giving to them: that was the situation on the second
visit according to Luke, and that explains Paul’s confidence in appealing to his second visit.
Again, Paul knew that he had clever and skillful arguers to contend against. How could
he expose himself to the retort that he was missing out the intermediate visit to Jerusalem? How
could he feel confident that the Galatians, who had already shown themselves so liable to be
deceived by specious arguments, would be able at once to reply to that obvious retort?
Finally, Paul, as an honest and rational man, could not appeal to the events of the third
visit according to Luke, as proving beyond question that he received on that occasion no charge
from the Apostles. He did receive a charge then, and he delivered that charge to the Churches.
Why, then, it may be objected, does Paul not mention his third visit? The answer is
obvious. He is engaged in proving that, when he gave his first message to the Churches of
Galatia, he had never received any charge from the older Apostles. His whole point is: "Cleave to
my first message, which came direct from God: if Silas and I afterwards said anything
inconsistent with that message, we are accursed". The third visit to Jerusalem did not take place
until after the Galatian Churches were rounded, and therefore it could find no place in the
autobiographical retrospect of I 12-II 10; but it is clearly implied in the scornful and impetuous
sentence, I 8: "Even if Silas and I (as these emissaries have been telling you), if an angel from
heaven, should preach to you a Gospel contrary to that which we originally preached to you, a
curse be upon us".
After this autobiographical sketch, Paul refers to an instance which showed very strongly
his independence in face of the leading Apostle Peter, and then passes on to the third and main
argument of his adversaries, rounded on the supposed grades in Christian life. His line of reply is
to bring out in various ways the truth that the Judaistic form is the lower stage, and the Gospel of
freedom which had been delivered to the Galatians the higher stage. The Law alone was not
sufficient for salvation, inasmuch as Christ had died to supplement its deficiency; therefore life
according to the Law could not be the highest stage of Christian life. How could the Galatians be
so foolish as to think that, having begun in the Spirit, their higher stage of development would be
in the flesh (III 3)? The Christians who have entered through the Spirit are the children of the
free woman, but the Judaistic Christians are the children of the bond woman and lower in rank
(IV 31). The latter may rise to be free, but, if the former sink under bondage to the Law, they
sacrifice their Christianity. The Judaistic Christians are children under care of a pedagogue, who
have to be raised by Christ to the full growth and freedom (III 23-4). In a variety of other striking
and impressive figures the superiority of the free to the Judaistic Christians is illustrated. It
cannot be said that there is any reasoning or argument: illustrations are used to bring the
Galatians to a clear consciousness of what they have in their own minds. Argument is too
external a process; Paul merely points out to the Galatians that "they already know".
As a whole, the letter is an eloquent and powerful claim for freedom of life, freedom of
thought, freedom of the individual from external restrictions and regulations, freedom for all to
work out their own salvation and develop their own nature: "Ye were called for freedom"(V 13).
And towards the conclusion this turns to a glorification of love. Their freedom is freedom to do
right, not freedom to do everything; "the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: Thou
shalt love thy neighbour as thyself"(V 14). Selfishness, i.e., "the flesh,"is the absolute antithesis
of love, i.e., "the Spirit "; and the receiving of Christ is "crucifying the flesh with the passions
thereof"(V 24). The essence of the true life lies neither in observing the Law nor in being above
the Law, but in building anew one’s nature (VI 15).
4. THE DATE OF THE GALATIAN EPISTLE, though out of chronological order, may
be considered here. The defection of the Galatians occurred shortly after Paul’s second visit (not
shortly after his first visit, as Lightfoot strangely takes it, I 6, p. 42). He spent the summer of 50
among them; and the Judaie emissaries may have come in the summer of 51 or 52. But, amid the
sudden changes of plan on his journey, Paul could not receive many letters from Galatia.
Moreover, his epistle seems to imply the possession of full knowledge, such as could not be
gained from a mere letter: if the Galatians wrote to him, it is most improbable that they explained
their changed attitude and all the reasons for it. No! Paul’s information comes from the personal
report of a trusty messenger; and the obvious suitability of Timothy for the duty occurs at once to
one’s mind. Further, it is clear that Timothy was with Paul during a considerable part of the stay
in Corinth, for he joined in the greeting at the opening of both letters to Thessalonica. It is
therefore hardly possible that he could have gone home, visited his friends, satisfied himself as to
the condition of the Churches, and returned to Corinth before Paul left that city. Moreover, if
Paul heard at that time, it is not probable that he would have spent so much time on a voyage to
Jerusalem and a visit to Syrian Antioch before visiting personally the wavering Churches.
We conclude, then, that Timothy went to pay a visit to his friends, not before the latter
part of Paul’s stay in Corinth; and, when he found out the real state of affairs in South Galatia, he
went to meet Paul with the news. Owing to Paul’s movements, there are only two places where
Timothy could have met him,-Ephesus and Syrian Antioch. The former is most unlikely, for, if
Timothy left Corinth some months before Paul, he could have no assurance of meeting him there,
where he merely called in passing. It is probable, then, that he brought his report to Paul at Syrian
Antioch after the fourth visit to Jerusalem (p. 265). With the entire want of definite evidence, we
cannot get beyond this estimate of probabilities; and it is most likely that Timothy stayed with
Paul during the whole of his residence at Corinth, sailed with him as far as Ephesus, and landed
there in order to go home on a visit to his friends, while Paul went on to Jerusalem. We shall at a
later stage find that Paul often sent deputies to inspect his Churches; and their reports often drew
forth an Epistle to correct an erring Church (pp. 275, 284).
In this way, when Paul reached Syrian Antioch, or immediately after he reached it, at the
end of his visit to Caesareia and Jerusalem, he found Timothy waiting with the disheartening
news, in the summer of 53: and at once he sat down and wrote the letter which has been
preserved to us.
One question remains. Why was Paul content with writing? Why did he not start at once
himself? Personal intervention is always more effective in such cases. But, in the first place, a
letter would certainly travel faster than Paul could get over the ground; and he would not lose a
moment in letting the Galatians hear what he thought. In the second place, he could hardly
sacrifice the opportunity of reviewing the Churches in Syria and Cilicia that lay on his way:
everywhere he would be besieged with entrearies to stay for a little, and he could not well hurry
past them without at least a brief stay of one or two days in each. Finally there are frequently
reasons which make it impossible to hurry away on a serious journey like that from Syria to
South Galatia. Paul was only human.
When Paul wrote the letter he must, on our view, have been intending to arrive very soon
after his letter. It may be asked why he makes no reference to this intention. But we should rather
ask, if, according to the ordinary view, he were not coming immediately, why he did not make
some explanatory statement of the reasons that compelled him at such a crisis to be content with
a letter and to do without a visit (p. 275 f.). The messenger who carried the letter carried also the
news that Paul was following close after, as fast as his necessary detentions at Antioch and other
cities on the way permitted; and part of the effect of the letter lay in the fact that the writer was
going to be present in person very soon.
The Epistle to the Galatians, therefore, belongs to A.D. 53, and was written just when he
was starting on his third journey, but before he had begun that scheme of a general contribution
among all his new Churches which is so prominent in the three following letters, I, II Cor. and
Rom.
To this date one objection may perhaps be urged: in IV 10, Paul asks, "Are ye observing
days and months and seasons and years?" It has been urged that this implies that the Sabbatical
year 54-55 was observed by the Galatians when the letter was written. But Lightfoot has rightly
rejected this argument: Paul asks in sarcasm: "Are ye observing the whole series of institutions?
are ye taking up anew a ritual like that of paganism from which you were set free?"
5. THE LATER HISTORY OF THE CHURCHES OF GALATIA is obscure. They took
part in the contribution raised by the Pauline Churches for the poor brethren at Jerusalem (p. 286
f.), and were represented in the delegation that carried it to Jerusalem. Thereafter history ends,
and tradition alone preserves some scraps of information about Antioch, Iconium and Lystra.
Derbe alone is not mentioned either in the tradition (so far as my knowledge extends) or in the
history of the Church until we come down to A.D. 381, when its bishop Daphnus was present at
the Council of Constantinople. The only hope of further information about the four Churches lies
inarchology; but unless the spade can be brought to supplement the too scanty records that
remain above ground, little can be hoped for.*
Chapter IX. THE COMING OF LUKE AND THE CALL INTO MACEDONIA
1. ACROSS ASIA. (XVI 6) AND THEY, HAVING MADE PROGRESS THROUGH
THE PHRYGIAN REGION OF the province GALATIA, AND HAVING BEEN PREVENTED
BY THE HOLY SPIRIT FROM SPEAKING THE WORD IN the Province ASIA, (7) AND
HAVING REACHED A POINT OVER AGAINST MYSIA (or perhaps, on the skirts of Mysia),
WERE ATTEMPTING TO MAKE THEIR WAY INTO the province BITHYNIA; AND THE
SPIRIT OF JESUS SUFFERED THEM NOT; (8) AND, NEGLECTING MYSIA, THEY CAME
DOWN TO the harbour TROAS. (9) AND A VISION APPEARED TO PAUL BY NIGHT:
THERE WAS A CERTAIN MAN, A MACEDONIAN, STANDING, AND EXHORTING HIM
AND SAYING, "COME OVER TO MACEDONIA, AND HELP US". (10) AND WHEN HE
SAW THE VISION, IMMEDIATELY WE SOUGHT TO GO OUT from Asia INTO the
province MACEDONIA, ASSUREDLY GATHERING THAT "GOD HAS SUMMONED US
TO BRING THE GOOD NEWS TO THEM".
Paul and his companions made a missionary progress through the Phrygian Region of the
province Galatia (p. 104), and then crossed the frontier of the province Asia: but here they were
prevented from preaching, and the prohibition was made absolute for the entire province. They
therefore kept to the north across Asian Phrygia with the intention of entering the adjoining
Roman province Bithynia; but when they came opposite Mysia, and were attempting to go out of
Asia into Bithynia, the Spirit of Jesus suffered them not. They therefore kept on towards the west
through Mysia, without preaching in it (as it was part of Asia), until they came out on its western
coast at the great harbour of Alexandria Troas.
The expression marks clearly the distinction between the prohibition to preach in Asia,
while they were actually in it, and the prohibition even to set foot in Bithynia. It was necessary
for them to cross Asia in order to fulfill the purpose. for which they were about to be called.
The geographical facts of this paragraph are stated with great clearness in the text
followed by the Authorised Version and the older editions; but the reading which they give is
rounded on Manuscripts of an inferior class (while the great MSS. have a different text), and is
characterised by the sequence of three participial clauses, a sequence almost unique in Luke’s
writings, and therefore suspected and altered. But the strange form of construction by a
succession of participles suits so perfectly the strange and unique character, the hurry, and the
deep-lying emotion of the passage (see § 2) that, as Lightfoot’s judgment, Bibl Essays, p.
237,perceived, the inferior MSS. must here be followed. The text of the great MSS., though it
does not quite conceal the feeling of the passage, yet obscures it a little, and, by approximating
more to Luke’s ordinary form of sentence, loses that perfect adaptation of form to sense, which so
often strikes us in this history. We have already noticed, p. 115, that Luke loves the triple
iteration of successive words or clauses to produce a certain effect in arresting attention.
The reading of the inferior MSS. suits the South-Galatian theory admirably; but that fact
never weighed with me for a moment in the choice. As long as the question between the two
theories was alone concerned, the thought of following the inferior MSS. did not even present
itself: I followed the great MSS. and interpreted them in the best way possible, neither looking
aside nor feeling the slightest wish to adopt the rival text. But when the question of literary
feeling came up, after the delicate adaptation of expression to emotion throughout Acts gradually
revealed itself, it became clear that here the choice lay between a cast of sentence unusual in this
author, and one that was quite in his ordinary style, in a place where the feeling and the facts
were strange and unique: hesitation was then impossible: the unusual emotion demanded the
unusual expression. See note, p. 211 f.
In this passage the distinction observed by Luke between Roman provincial designations
and the older national names is specially clear. Wherever he mentions districts of mission work,
he classifies according to the existing political (Roman) divisions (as here, the Phrygo-Galatic
Region, Asia, Bithynia, Macedonia); but where he is simply giving geographical information, he
either uses the pre-Roman names of lands (e.g., Mysia), or omits the land from his narrative.
The "neglecting"of Mysia is a remarkable expression, one of those by which Luke
compels attention at a critical point. As a rule he simply omits a country where no preaching
occurred (p. 90 f.); but here he accumulates devices to arrest the reader. His effects are always
attained, not by rhetorical devices, but by order and marshalling of facts; and here, in a
missionary tour, the "neglecting"of a great country is a fact that no one can pass over. Not
catching the intention, many understand "passing without entering"(parelqovnte"): Dr. Blass
rightly sees that a traveller cannot reach Troas without crossing Mysia; but he goes on to alter the
text, following the Bezan reading (dielqovnte"; see p. 235).
The journey across Mysia led naturally down the course of the river Rhyndacos, and past
the south shore of the great lakes. A tradition that Paul had travelled by the sacred town of the
goddess Artemis at the hot springs of the river Aisepos can be traced as early as the second
century, accompanied with the legend that he had rounded a chapel in the neighbourhood. If he
went down the Rhyndacos, it is practically certain that he must have passed close to, or through,
Artemaia on his way to the great harbour. Under the influence of this tradition, the Bezan Reviser
changed the text of v. 8, reading "making a progress through Mysia ". But evangelisation on the
journey across Mysia was forbidden,v. 6. The tradition, however, is interesting, and there is
further trace of very early foundations in this quarter, which will be treated elsewhere.
The rapid sweep of narrative, hurrying on from country to country, is the marked feature
of this paragraph; yet it merely places before us the facts, as Paul’s missionary aims found no
opening, and he was driven on and on. But. on the current North-Galatian theory, this effect,
which is obviously intended, is got, not by simply stating facts, but by slurring over one of Paul’s
greatest enterprises, the evangelisation of North Galatia and the rounding of several Churches in
a new mission district. But the first words of v. 6 describe a progress marked by no great events,
a steady continuance of a process fully described in the context (p. 72).
2. THE CALL INTO MACEDONIA. This is in many respects the most remarkable
paragraph in Acts . In the first place the Divine action is introduced three times in four verses,
marking and justifying the new and great step which is made at this point. In XIII 1-11 also the
Divine action is mentioned three times, leading up to the important development which the
author defines as "opening the door of belief to the Nations"; but in that case there were only two
actual manifestations of the Divine guidance and power. Here on three distinct occasions the
guidance of God was manifested in three different ways-the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, and
the Vision-and the three manifestations all lead up to one end, first forbidding Paul’s purpose of
preaching in Asia, then forbidding his purpose of entering Bithynia, and finally calling him
forward into Macedonia. Now, amid "the multitude of the revelations"(II Cor. XII 7) granted to
Paul, Luke selects only those which have a distinct bearing on his own purpose as an historian,
and omits the vast majority, which were all important in their influence on Paul’s conduct and
character. What is the reason for his insistence in this case?
It is not easy to account on strictly historical grounds for the emphasis laid on the passage
to Macedonia. Lightfoot, in his fine essay on "the Churches of Macedonia,"recognises with his
usual insight that it is necessary to acknowledge and to explain that emphasis; but his attempt
cannot be called successful. As he himself acknowledges, the narrative gives no ground to think
that the passage from Troas to Philippi was ever thought of by Luke as a passage from Continent
to Continent. A broad distinction between the two opposite sides of the Hellespont as belonging
to two different Continents, had no existence in the thought of those who lived in the ˘gean
lands, and regarded the sea as the path connecting the ˘gean countries with each other; and the
distinction had no more existence in a political point of view, for Macedonia and Asia were
merely two provinces of the Roman Empire, closely united by common language and character,
and divided from the Latin-speaking provinces further west.
After an inaccurate statement that Macedonia was "the natural highroad between the East
and the West"(the ˘gean was the real highroad, and Corinth was "on the way of them that are
being slain to God,"Church in R. E., p. 318 f.), Lightfoot finds in Alexander the Great the proof
of the greatness of the step which Luke here records in Paul’s work, and even says that "each
successive station at which he halted might have reminded the Apostle of the great services
rendered by Macedonia as the pioneer of the Gospel!"That is mere riot of pseudo-historical
fancy; and it is hardly possible to believe that Lightfoot ever composed it in the form and with
the suggestion that it has in this essay. This is one of not a few places in his Biblical Essays in
which the expansion of his own "briefest summary"by the aid of notes of his oral lectures taken
by pupils has not been thoroughly successful. The pages of the essay amount to a practical
demonstration that, on mere grounds of historical geography alone, one cannot explain the
marked emphasis laid on this new departure.
In the second place, the sweep and rush of the narrative is unique in Acts: point after
point, province after province are hurried over. The natural development of Paul’s work along the
great central route of the Empire was forbidden, and the next alternative that rose in his mind was
forbidden: he was led across Asia from the extreme south-east to the extreme north-west corner,
and yet prevented from preaching in it; everything seemed dark and perplexing, until at last a
vision in Troas explained the purpose of this strange journey. As before (p. 104), we cannot but
be struck with the fact, that in this paragraph the idea seems to clothe itself in the natural words,
and not to have been laboriously expressed by a foreign mind. And the origin of the words
becomes clear when we look at the concluding sentence: "immediately we sought to go forth into
Macedonia, assuredly gathering that ’God has called us for to preach the Gospel unto them’". The
author was with Paul in Troas; and the intensity of this paragraph is due to his recollection of the
words in which Paul had recounted the vision, and explained the whole Divine plan that had
guided him through his perplexing wanderings. The words derive their vivid and striking
character from Paul, and they remained indelibly imprinted on Luke’s memory.
3. THE COMING OF LUKE. The introduction of the first person at this striking point in
the narrative must be intentional. This is no general statement like XIV 22 (though even there the
first person has a marked effect, p. 123). Every one recognises here a distinct assertion that the
author was present. Now the paragraph as a whole is carefully studied, and the sudden change
from third to first person is a telling element in the total effect: if there is any passage in Acts
which can be pressed close, it is this. It is almost universally recognised that the use of the first
person in the sequel is intentional, marking that the author remained in Philippi when Paul went
on, and that he rejoined the Apostle some years later on his return to Philippi. We must add that
the precise point at which the first-personal form of narrative begins is also intentional; for, if
Luke changes here at random from third to first person, it would be absurd to look for purpose in
anything he says. The first person, when used in the narrative of XVI, XX, XXI, XXVII,
XXVIII, marks the companionship of Luke and Paul; and, when we carry out this principle of
interpretation consistently and minutely, it will prove an instructive guide. This is the nearest
approach to personal reference that Luke permits himself; and he makes it subservient to his
historical purpose by using it as a criterion of personal witness.
Luke, therefore, entered into the drama of the Acts at Troas. Now it is clear that the
coming of Paul to Troas was unforeseen and unforeseeable; the whole point of the paragraph is
that Paul was driven on against his own judgment and intention to that city. The meeting,
therefore, was not, as has sometimes been maintained, pre-arranged. Luke entered on the stage of
this history at a point, where Paul found himself he knew not why. On the ordinary principles of
interpreting literature, we must infer that this meeting, which is so skillfully and so pointedly
represented as unforeseen, was between two strangers: Luke became known to Paul here for the
first time. Let us, then, scrutinise more closely the circumstances. The narrative pointedly brings
together the dream and the introduction of the first-personal element, "when he saw the vision,
straightway we sought to go"; and collocation is everywhere one of the most telling points in
Luke’s style.
When we examine the dream, we observe that in it "a certain man of Macedonia"was seen
by Paul. Paul did not infer his Macedonian origin from his words, but recognised him as a
Macedonian by sight. Now, there was nothing distinctive in the appearance or dress of a
Macedonian to mark him out from the rest of the world. On the contrary, the Macedonians rather
made a point of their claim to be Greeks; and undoubtedly they dressed in the customary Greek
style of the ˘gean cities. There was, therefore, only one way in which Paul could know the man
by sight to be a Macedonian-the man in the dream was personally known to him; and, in fact, the
Greek implies that it was a certain definite person who appeared (ajnhvr ti", Latin quidam, very
often followed by the person’s name; V 1, VIII 9, IX 10, 33, 36, X 1, etc.).
In the vision, then, a certain Macedonian, who was personally known to Paul, appeared,
and called him over into Macedonia. Now, it has been generally recognised that Luke must have
had some connection with Philippi; and we shall find reason to think that he had personal
knowledge of the city. Further, Paul, whose life had been spent in the eastern countries, and who
had come so far west only a few days past, was not likely to be personally acquainted with
natives of Macedonia. The idea then suggests itself at once, that Luke himself was the man seen
in the vision; and, when one reads the paragraph with that idea, it acquires new meaning and
increased beauty. As always, Luke seeks no effect from artifices of style. He tells nothing but the
bare facts in their simplest form; and leaves the reader to catch the causal connection between
them. But we can imagine how Paul came to Troas in doubt as to what should be done. As a
harbour, it formed the link between Asia and Macedonia. Here he met the Macedonian Luke; and
with his view turned onwards he slept, and beheld in a vision his Macedonian acquaintance
beckoning him onward to his own country.
Beyond this we cannot penetrate through the veil in which Luke has enveloped himself.
Was he already a Christian, or did he come under the influence of Christianity through meeting
Paul here? for the prohibition against preaching in Asia would not preclude Paul from using the
opportunity to convert an individual who was brought in contact with him. No evidence remains;
"something sealed the lips of that evangelist,"so far as he himself is concerned. But we have
gathered from the drift of the passage that they met as strangers; and in that case there can be no
doubt where the probability lies. The inference that they met accidentally as strangers is
confirmed by the fact that Luke was a stranger to the Levant (p. 317). In one of the many ways in
which men come across one another in travelling, they were brought into contact at Troas: Luke
was attracted to Paul; and the vision was taken by Luke, as well as by Paul, for a sign. He left all,
and followed his master.
All this he suggests to us only by the same kind of delicate and subtle literary devices,
consisting merely in collocation of facts, order of words, and slight changes of form, by which he
suggested the development of Paul’s method and the change in his relation to Barnabas (p. 82 f.).
Luke always expects a great deal from his readers, but some critics give too little attention to
literary effect. These will ask me for proofs; but proofs there are none. I can only point to the
facts: they that have eyes to see them know; they that have not eyes to see them will treat this
section (and others) as moonstruck fancy. All that can be said is that, if you read the book
carefully, observing these devices, you recognise a great work; if you don’t, and follow your
denial to its logical consequences, you will find only an assortment of scraps. Probably there will
always be those who prefer the scraps.
It is quite in Luke’s style to omit to mention that Paul related the vision to his
companions. So also he omitted in XIII 7, 8, to mention that Paul expounded the doctrine to the
proconsul. Luke always expects a great deal from his readers. But here the Bezan Reviser inserts
the missing detail, as he so often does (e.g.,XIII 9).
While there is no authority for the circumstances of the meeting, conjecture is tempting
and perhaps permissible. It will appear that Luke, though evidently acquainted with Philippi and
looking to it as his city, had no home there. His meeting with Paul, then, did not take place
merely on an excursion from Philippi; and he was probably one of the many Greeks in all ages
who have sought their fortune away from home. His acquaintance with medicine is certain from
the words of Paul himself, "Luke, the beloved physician"(Col. IV 14), and from the cast of his
language in many places; * and it is quite natural and probable that the meeting might have been
sought by Paul on that account, if Luke was resident in Troas and well known there.
4. THE ENTRANCE INTO MACEDONIA. (XVI 1l) WE SET SAIL THEN FROM
TROAS, AND MADE A STRAIGHT RUN TO SAMOTHRACE; AND THE DAY
FOLLOWING we came TO the harbour NEAPOLIS, (12) AND THENCE TO PHILIPPI,
WHICH IS THE LEADING CITY OF ITS DIVISION OF MACEDONIA, AND having the rank
of A ROMAN COLONY: AND WE WERE IN THIS CITY TARRYING CERTAIN DAYS.
It is remarkable with what interest Luke records the incidents from harbour to harbour.
He has the true Greek feeling for the sea, a feeling that must develop in every race possessing
any capacity for development, and any sensitiveness to the influences of nature, when settled
round the ˘gean coasts; for the ˘gean sea is so tempting, with its regular winds and regular
sunset calm, when the water lies dead, with a surface which looks like oil, dense and glistening
and dark, that it seems to invite one to walk upon it.
To a certain extent the wealth of maritime details might be accounted for by the loving
interest with which Luke dwelt on his journeys in company with Paul; but caution that the author
recognises as needful. this does not fully explain the facts. Every one who compares Luke’s
account of the journey from Csareia to Jerusalem (which might be expected to live in his
memory beyond others), or from Puteoli to Rome, with his account of any of the voyages, must
be struck by the difference between the scanty matter-of-fact details in the land journeys, and the
love that notes the voyage, the winds, the runs, the appearance of the shores, Cyprus rising out of
the sea, the Cretan coast close in by the ship’s side, the mountains towering above it from which
the blast strikes down. At the same time, it is quite clear that, though he reported nautical matters
with accuracy, he was not a trained and practised sailor. His interest for the sea sprang from his
natural and national character, and not from his occupation.
Philippi was an inland city, and Neapolis was its harbour. Having once mentioned the
port, Luke leaves it to be understood in XX 6. As usual, Paul goes on to the great city, and does
not preach in the port (cp. XIV 26, XVIII 18).
The description of the dignity and rank of Philippi is unique in Acts; nor can it be
explained as strictly requisite for the historian’s proper purpose. Here again the explanation lies
in the character of the author, who was specially interested in Philippi, and had the true Greek
pride in his own city. Perhaps he even exaggerates a little the dignity of Philippi, which was still
only in process of growth, to become at a later date the great city of its division. Of old
Amphipolis had been the chief city of the division, to which both belonged. Afterwards Philippi
quite outstripped its rival; but it was at that time in such a position, that Amphipolis was ranked
first by general consent, Philippi first by its own consent. These cases of rivalry between two or
even three cities for the dignity and title of "First"are familiar to every student of the history of
the Greek cities; and though no other evidence is known to show that Philippi had as yet began to
claim the title, yet this single passage is conclusive. The descriptive phrase is like a lightning
flash amid the darkness of local history, revealing in startling clearness the whole situation to
those whose eyes are trained to catch the character of Greek city-history and city-jealousies.
It is an interesting fact that Luke, who hides himself so completely in his history, cannot
hide his local feeling; and there every one who knows the Greek people recognises the true
Greek! There lies the strength, and also the weakness, of the Greek peoples; and that quality
beyond all others has determined their history, has given them their strength against the
foreigner, and their weakness as a united country.
Nationality is more conspicuous in the foibles and weaknesses of mankind, whereas great
virtues and great vices have a common character in all nations. Luke shows himself the Greek
when he talks of the Maltese as "the barbarians"; when he regards the journey to Jerusalem as a
journey and nothing more; when he misrepresents the force of a Latin word (p. 225); when he is
blind to the true character of the Roman name (the tria nomina); when he catches with such
appreciation and such ease the character of Paul’s surroundings in Athens. His hatred of the Jews
and his obvious inability to feel the slightest sympathy for their attitude towards Paul, are also
Greek. On the other hand, his touches of quiet humour are perhaps less characteristically Greek;
but he was not the old Greek of the classical period: he was the Greek of his own age, when
Greece had been for centuries a power in Asia; when Macedonia had long been the leading
Greek country; when Stoicism and Epicureanism were the representative philosophies (XVII
18);and when the Greek language was the recognised speech of many eastern Roman provinces,
along with the Latin itself. To appreciate Luke, we must study the modern Greek, as well as the
Greek of the great age of freedom.
I know that all such mundane characteristics are commonly considered to be non-existent
in "the early Christian "! But an "early Christian"did not cease to be a man, and a citizen.
Christianity has not taught men to retire from society and from life; and least of all did Pauline
Christianity teach that lesson. It has impressed on men the duty of living their life better, of
striving to mould and to influence society around them, and of doing their best in the position. in
which they were placed. When Luke became a Christian, he continued to be a Greek, and
perhaps became even more intensely a Greek, as his whole life became more intense and more
unselfish. It is a complete and ruinous error for the historical student to suppose that Luke broke
with all his old thoughts, and habits, and feelings, and friends, when he was converted. He lived
in externals much as before; he observed the same laws of politeness and good breeding in
society (if he followed Paul’s instructions); his house, his surroundings, continued much the
same; he kept up the same family names; and, when he died, his grave, his tombstone, and his
epitaph, were in the ordinary style. It took centuries for Christianity to disengage itself from its
surroundings, and to remake society and the rules of life. Yet one rarely finds among modern
historians of Christianity in the first two centuries of its growth, any one who does not show a
misconception on this point; and the climax, perhaps, is reached in one of the arguments by
which Dr. Ficker attempts to disprove the Christian character of the epitaph of the
Phrygian
second-century saint, Avircius Marcellus, on the ground that a Christian epitaph would not be
engraved on an attar. I presume his point is that the altar-shaped form of tombstone was avoided
by the Christians of that time, because it was connected with the pagan worship. But a Pauline
Christian would hold that "a gravestone will not commend us to God; neither, if we use it not, are
we the worse, nor if we use it, are we the better"(I Cor. VIII 8); and Avircius Marcellus mentions
Paul, and Paul alone among the Apostles, in his epitaph. In fact, almost all the early Christian
epitaphs at Eumeneia are engraved on altars, because there that shape was fashionable; whereas
at Apameia they are rarely on altars, because there that shape was not in such common use.
Our view that the author of Acts was a Macedonian does not agree with a tradition
(which was believed to occur in Eusebius, see p. 389) that Luke was an Antiochion. The modern
authorities who consider this tradition to be rounded on a confusion between Lucas and Lucius,
an official of the Antiochion Church (XIII 1), seem to have strong probability on their side. The
form Lueas may very well be a vulgarism for Lucius; but, except the name, these two persons
have nothing in common. The name Lucas is of most obscure origin: it may be a shortened form
of Lucius, or Lucilius, or Lucianus, or Lucanus, or of some Greek compound name. The Latin
names, Lucius, Lucilius, etc., were spelt in earlier Greek Leuvkio", in later Greek Louvkio"; and
the change may roughly be dated about A.D. 50-75, though Leuvkio" in some rare cases occurs
later, and possibly .Louvkio" sometimes earlier. It is noteworthy that Louka’" has the later form.
The Bezan "we"in XI 28 will satisfy those who consider the Bezan Text to be Lukan; but
to us it appears to condemn the Bezan Text as of non-Lukan origin. The warmth of feeling,
which breathes through all parts of Acts dealing with the strictly Greek world, is in striking
contrast with the cold and strictly historical tone of the few brief references to Syrian Antioch. If
the author of Acts was a native bred up in Antioch, then we should have to infer that there lay
behind him an older author, whose work he adapted with little change. But our view is that the
Reviser had an Antiochian connection, and betrays it in that insertion, which to him recorded a
historical fact, but to us seems legend in an early stage of growth.
Note 1. th;n Frugivan kai; Galatikh;n cwvran. The use of to connect two epithets of the
same person or place is regular in Greek (so Sau’lo" oJ kai Pau’lo", Saul alias Paul); e.g., Strabo
speaks of a mouth of the Nile as to; Kanwbiko;n kai; Jhraklewtikovn, the mouth which is called
by both names, Canopic and Heracleotic, where we should say, "the Canopic or Heracleotic
mouth". I need not dwell on such an elementary point. Another point
of Greek construction
comes up in XVIII 23: when a list is given in Greek, the items of which are designated by
adjectives with the same noun, the regular order is to use the noun with the first alone. Strabo has
numberless examples: 767, tw’n parakeimevnwn jArabivwn ejqnw’n Nabataivwn te kai’
Caulotopaivwn kai’ jAgraivwn; 751, oJ jArkeuvqh" potamo;" kai; oJ jOrovnth" kai; oJ
Labwvta"; 802, to; Mendhvsion stovma kai; to; Tanitikovn (there are some interesting and
delicate examples in Strabo, on which we cannot here dwell, of the distinction between the
double epithet and the double item); Herodotus, II 17, to; de; Bolbitino;n stovma kai; to;
Boukoliko;n; and so Luke groups two Regiones as th;n Galatikh;n cwvran kai; Frugivan, XVIII
23. The North-Galatian theorists insist that Frugivan in XVI 6 must be a substantive; but they
have not quoted any case in which a noun with its adjective is coupled anarthrously by kaiv to a
preceding noun with the article. Dr. Chase quoted Luke III 1, th’" jItouraiva" kai; Tracwnivtido"
cwvra"; but the case tells against him, for Luke’s intention to use jItouraiva" here as an adjective
is proved by the following reasons:(1) Eusebius and Jerome repeatedly interpret Luke III 1 in that way (see Expositor, Jan.
1894, p. 52; April, p. 289). (2) jItouraiva is never used as a noun by the ancients, but is pointedly
avoided, even where hJ jItouraivwn was awkward: the reason was that jItoupaiva, as a noun,
would indicate a political entity, whereas the Ituri were a wandering nomadic race, who had not
a definite and organised country. As my other reasons have been disputed, I do not append them
here; though I consider them unshaken. [Mr. Arnold’s attempt to find one instance of jItoupaiva
as a noun in Appian seems to refute itself, Engl. Hist Rev., 1895, p. 553.]
Note 2. dih’lqon th;n F. k. G. cwvpan kwluqevnte". Many are likely to rest on the
authority of the great MSS., and prefer this reading. It may be understood, by an ellipse common
in Greek, "they made a missionary progress through the Phrygian land, viz., the Galatic part of it,
inasmuch as they were prevented from preaching in Asia, and could not, therefore, do missionary
work in the Asian part of it". But, if this were the writing of Luke, I should prefer to hold that he
meant dih’lqon kai; ejkwluvqhsan. using a construction which he has in (1) XXIII 35 e[fh
keleuvsa"he said, "I will hear thee, when thy accusers arrive,"and ordered him to be imprisoned:
(2) XXV 13 kathvnthsan ajspasavmenoi "they arrived at Csareia and paid their respects to
Festus": (3) XVII 26ejpoivhsen ejx eJnov", oJrivsa" "he madeall nations of one blood, and
assignedto them limits and bounds" (here the unity of all nations is the initial idea, and the fixing
of limits and distinctions is later). Blass, who thus explains XXIII 35, gives in his preface, p. 20,
many examples of the present infinitive used in the same way (XVIII 23 ejxh’lqn diercovmenos
he went forth and made a progress through the Galatic Region, cp. VI 9 ajnevsthsan
sunzhtou’nte" they rose up and disputed with Stephen, VI 11 uJpevbalon a[ndras levgontas they
suborned men which said [also VI 13], VIII 10 prosei’con levgontes they hearkened and said, V.
36 ajnevsth levgwn he stood up and said, VIII 18, XlV 22, etc.); and he accepts and prints in his
text the reading of inferior authority in XXVIII 14 pareklhvqhmen par j aujtoi’s, ejtimeivnantes
we were cheered among them, and remained seven days. The usage is common in Paul. The use
of aorist or present participle corresponds to the tense which would be used if the sentence were
constructed in the fuller fashion, e[fh kai; ejkeleusen but ejxh’lqen kai; dihvrceto (Blass differs in
regard to XXI 16, which he says = sunh’lqon kai; h[gagon).
Chapter X. THE CHURCHES OF MACEDONIA
1. PHILIPPI. (XVI 13) ON THE SABBATH DAY WE WENT FORTH WITHOUT THE
GATE BY THE RIVER SIDE, WHERE THERE WAS WONT TO BE HELD A MEETING
FOR PRAYER; AND WE SAT DOWN, AND SPARE UNTO THE WOMEN THAT CAME
TOGETHER. (14) AND A CERTAIN WOMAN NAMED LYDIA, A SELLER OF PURPLE,
OF THE CITY OF THYATIRA, A GOD-FEARING proselyte WAS A HEARER; AND THE
LORD OPENED HER HEART TO GIVE HEED UNTO THE THINGS THAT WERE SPOKEN
BY PAUL. (15) AND WHEN SHE WAS BAPTISED AND HER HOUSEHOLD, SHE
BESOUGHT US, SAYING, "IF YE HAVE JUDGED ME TO BE. FAITHFUL TO THE LORD,
COME INTO MY HOUSE AND ABIDE THERE"; AND SHE CONSTRAINED US.
The omission of the article before the word "river"(potamovn ) is one of the touches of
familiarity which show the hand of one who knew Philippi well. As we say "I’m going to town,"
the Greeks omitted the article with familiar and frequently mentioned places or things. In this
phrase the commentators in general seem to understand that the Greek words mean "ang1033
along a river," which is the form of expression that a complete stranger might use about a city
and a river that he had only heard of.
The text of the next clause is uncertain; but we hold that the Authorised Version is right,
following the inferior MSS. (see note, p. 235). On the first Sabbath they went along the riverbank to the regular place where the Jews in Philippi, and those non-Jews who had been attracted
to Jewish customs, were wont to meet in prayer. There seems to have been no proper synagogue,
which shows that the Jewish community was very small; and in the rest of the narrative no Jew is
mentioned.
Lydia, the Thyatiran woman, settled at Philippi, is an interesting person in many respects.
Thyatira, like the Lydian land in general, was famous for its dyeing; and its guild of dyers is
known from the inscriptions. Lydia sold the purple dyed garments from Thyatira in Philippi; and
she had, no doubt, a regular connection with a firm in her native city, whose agent she was. In
ancient time many kinds of garments were woven in their perfect shape; and there was much less
cutting and sewing of cloth than at the present day. Lydia, of course, sold also the less expensive
kinds of garments; but she takes her trade-name from the finest class of her wares, indicating that
she was a first-class dealer. She must have possessed a considerable amount of capital to trade in
such articles. As her husband is not mentioned, and she was a householder, she was probably a
widow; and she may be taken as an ordinary example of the freedom with which women lived
and worked both in Asia Minor and in Macedonia.
Lydia had probably become addicted to Jewish religious practices in her native city.
There had been a Jewish colony planted in Thyatira, which had exercised considerable influence
on the city; and a hybrid sort of worship had been developed, half Jewish, half pagan, which is
called in Revelation II 20, "the woman Jezebel".*
It is not to be inferred that Lydia and her household were baptised on the first Sabbath. A
certain interval must be admitted in v. 14, which shows Luke’s looseness about time. Lydia was
present on the first Sabbath, and became a regular hearer; and finally her entire household came
over with her.
2. THE VENTRILOQUIST. (XVI 16) AND IT CAME TO PASS, AS WE WERE
GOING TO THE PLACE OF PRAYER, THAT A CERTAIN SLAVE-GIRL, POSSESSED OF
A SPIRIT PYTHON, i.e., a ventriloquist, MET US, WHICH BROUGHT HER MASTERS
MUCH GAIN BY SOOTHSAYING. (17) THE SAME, FOLLOWING AFTER PAUL AND US,
KEPT CRYING OUT SAYING, "THESE MEN ARE THE SLAVES OF THE GOD THE
HIGHEST, WHICH ANNOUNCE TO YOU THE WAY OF SAFETY ". (18) AND THIS SHE
DID FOR MANY DAYS. BUT PAUL, BEING SORE TROUBLED, TURNED AND SAID TO
THE SPIRIT, "I CHARGE THEE IN THE NAME OF JESUS THE ANOINTED TO GO OUT
FROM HER"; AND IT WENT OUT THAT VERY MOMENT.
The idea was universally entertained that ventriloquism was due to superhuman
influence, and implied the power of foretelling the future. The girl herself believed this; and in
her belief lay her power. Her words need not be taken as a witness to Christianity. "God the
Highest" was a wide-spread pagan expression, and "salvation" was the object of many vows and
prayers to that and other gods. We need not ask too curiously what was her motive in thus calling
out at Paul’s company. In such a case there is no distinct motive; for it is a poor and false view,
and one that shows utter incapacity to gauge human nature, that the girl was a mere impostor.
That her mind became distorted and diseased by her belief in her supernatural possession, is
certain; but it became thereby all the more acute in certain perceptions and intuitions. With her
sensitive nature, she became at once alive to the moral influence, which the intense faith by
which the strangers were possessed gave them, and she must say what she felt without any
definite idea of result therefrom; for the immediate utterance of her intuitions was the secret of
her power. She saw in Paul what the populace at Pisidian Antioch saw in Thekla, "a devotee,
bound by some unusual conditions, an inspired servant of ’the God,’who differed from the usual
type"of "God-driven"devotees.
When Paul turned on her, and ordered the spirit to come forth from her in the name of his
Master, the girl, who had been assiduously declaring that Paul and his companions were Godpossessed, and fully believed it, was utterly disconcerted, and lost her faith in herself and with it
her power. When next she tried to speak as she had formerly done, she was unable to do so; and
in a few days it became apparent that she had lost her power. Along with her power, her hold on
the superstitions of the populace disappeared; and people ceased to come to her to have their
fortunes read, to get help in finding things they had lost, and so on. Thus the comfortable income
that she had earned for her owners was lost; and these, knowing who had done the mischief,
sought revenge. This was by no means a rare motive for the outbreak of persecution against the
Church in later time; and at this stage, when Christianity was an unknown religion, it was only
through its interference with the profits of any individual or any class (p. 277) that it was likely
to arouse opposition among the pagans.
3. ACCUSATION AND CONDEMNATION IN PHILIPPI. (XVI 19) BUT, WHEN HER
MASTERS SAW THAT THEIR HOPE OF GAIN HAD DEPARTED, THEY SEIZED PAUL
AND SILAS [AND DRAGGED THEM INTO THE AGORA BEFORE THE MAGISTRATES],
(20) [AND BRINGING THEM TO THE PRESENCE OF THE PR˘TORS], THEY SAID,
"THESE MEN DO EXCEEDINGLY DISTURB OUR CITY, JEWS AS THEY ARE, (21) AND
RECOMMEND CUSTOMS, WHICH IT IS ILLEGAL FOR US TO RECEIVE OR TO
OBSERVE, AS WE ARE ROMANS". (22) AND THE POPULACE ROSE IN A BODY
AGAINST THEM; AND THE PR˘TORS, RENDING THEIR GARMENTS in horror, BADE
the lictors BEAT THEM, (23) AND WHEN THEY HAD LAID MANYSTRIPES ON THEM,
THEY CAST THEM INTO PRISON, CHARGING THE JAILOR TO KEEP THEM SAFELY:
(24) AND HE HAVING RECEIVED SUCH A CHARGE, CAST THEM INTO THE INNER
PRISON, AND MADE THEIR FEET FAST IN THE STOCKS.
It is hardly possible that vv. 19, 20 have the final form that the writer would have given
them. The expression halts between the Greek form and the Latin, between the ordinary Greek
term for the supreme board of magistrates in any city (a[rconte"), and the popular Latin
designation (strathgoiv.prtores), as if the author had not quite made up his mind which he
should employ. Either of the clauses bracketed is sufficient in itself; and it is hardly possible that
a writer, whose expression is so concise, should have intended to leave in his text two clauses
which say exactly the same thing.
The title Prtors was not technically accurate, but was frequently employed as a courtesy
title for the supreme magistrates of a Roman colony; and, as usual, Luke moves on the plane of
educated conversation in such matters, and not on the plane of rigid technical accuracy. He
writes as the scene was enacted.
It is impossible and unnecessary to determine whether the slave-girl’s owners were
actually Roman citizens. They speak here as representatives of the general population. The actual
coloni planted here by Augustus when he rounded the colony, were probably far outnumbered by
the Greek population (incol); and it is clear that in the colonies of the Eastern provinces, any
Italian coloni soon melted into the mass of the population, and lost most of their distinctive
character, and probably forgot even their language. The exact legal relation of the native Greek
population to the Roman coloni is uncertain; but it is certain that the former occupied some kind
of intermediate position between ordinary provincials and Romans or Latins (when the colony
was a Latin colony like Antioch). These colonies were one of the means whereby Rome sought
to introduce the Roman spirit and feeling into the provinces, to romanise them; and the
accusation lodged against Paul, with the whole scene that followed, are a proof, in this vivid
photographic picture, that the population prided themselves on their Roman character and
actually called themselves Romans, as they called their magistrates Prtors.
Paul on other occasions claimed his right of citizen ship; why not here? It is evident that
the Prtors made a great to-do over this case: they regarded it as a case of treason, or, as it was
termed in Greek, "impiety"(ajsevbeia), rent their clothes in loyal horror, with the fussy,
consequential airs that Horace satirises in the would-be Prtor of a country town (Sat. I 5, 34):
the fabric of the Empire was shaken to its foundations by this disgraceful conduct of the accused
persons; but the Prtors of Philippi stood firm, and the populace rose as one man, like true
Romans, to defend their country against her insidious enemies. In such a scene what chance was
there that Paul’s protest should be listened to? Perhaps it was made and not listened to, since the
whole proceedings were so disorderly and irregular.
The first person ceases at this point; the author was not arrested, and therefore could not
speak in the first person of what happened in the prison. He did not accompany Paul further; but
remained at Philippi as his headquarters, till Paul returned there, XX 6, when the first person is
resumed. It is only natural to understand that he was left in Philippi, because of his obvious
suitability for the work of evangelising that city; and his success was so striking that his "praise
in the preaching of the good news was through all the Churches,"II Cor. VIII 18 (a passage
which is understood by early tradition as referring to Luke). At the same time it is clear that he
had not been a householder in Philippi previously, for he went with Paul to enjoy Lydia’s
hospitality.
4. THE PRISON AND THE EARTHQUAKE. (XVI 25) BUT ABOUT MIDNIGHT
PAUL AND SILAS WERE PRAYING AND SINGING HYMNS UNTO GOD, AND THE
PRISONERS WERE LISTENING TO THEM; (26) AND SUDDENLY THERE WAS A
GREAT EARTHQUAKE, SO THAT THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE PRISON-HOUSE WERE
SHAKEN; AND IMMEDIATELY ALL THE DOORS WERE OPENED; AND EVERY ONE’S
FETTERS WERE SHAKEN OUT. (27) AND THE JAILOR, BEING ROUSED FROM SLEEP,
AND SEEING THE PRISON-DOORS OPEN, DREW HIS SWORD, AND WAS ABOUT TO
KILL HIMSELF, CONSIDERING THAT THE PRISONERS HAD ESCAPED. (28) BUT
PAUL CRIED OUT WITH A LOUD VOICE, "DO THYSELF NO HARM, FOR WE ARE ALL
HERE ". (29) AND CALLING FOR LIGHTS, HE RAN HASTILY IN, AND TREMBLING
FOR FEAR THREW HIMSELF BEFORE PAUL AND SILAS, (30) AND BROUGHT THEM
OUT [WHEN HE HAD MADE THE REST FAST], AND SAID, "SIRS ! WHAT MUST I DO
TO BE SAVED?" (31) AND THEY SAID, "BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS, AND THOU
SHALT BE SAVED, THOU AND THY HOUSE ". (32) AND THEY SPAKE THE WORD OF
THE LORD TO HIM, WITH ALL THAT WERE IN HIS HOUSE. (33) AND HE TOOK THEM
AT THAT HOUR OF THE NIGHT AND WASHED THEM OF THEIR STRIPES; AND WAS
BAPTISED, HE AND ALL HIS IMMEDIATELY. (34) AND HE BROUGHT THEM UP INTO
HIS HOUSE, AND SET MEAT BEFORE THEM, AND REJOICED GREATLY, WITH ALL
HIS HOUSE, HAVING CONCEIVED FAITH IN GOD.
There are several difficulties which occur to every one on first reading this passage. (1)
The opening of the doors and the undoing of the bonds by the earthquake seem incredible to one
who thinks of doors like those in our prisons and of handcuffed prisoners. But any one that has
seen a Turkish prison will not wonder that the doors were thrown open: each door was merely
closed by a bar, and the earthquake, as it passed along the ground,
forced the door posts apart
from each other, so that the bar slipped from its hold, and the door swung open. The prisoners
were fastened to the wall or in wooden stocks, v. 24; and the chains
and stocks were detached
from the wall, which was shaken so that spaces gaped between the stones. In the great
earthquakes of 1880 at Smyrna, and 1881 at Scio, I had the opportunity of seeing and hearing of
the strangely capricious action of an earthquake, which behaves sometimes like a playful, goodnatured sprite, when it spares its full terrors.
(2) Why did not the prisoners run away when their fetters were loosed? The question is
natural to those who are familiar with the northern races, and their self-centred tenacity of
purpose and presence of mind. An earthquake strikes panic into the semi-oriental mob in the
˘gean lands; and it seems to me quite natural that the prisoners made no dash for safety when
the opportunity was afforded them. Moreover, they were still only partially free; and they had
only a moment for action. The jailor was also roused by the earthquake, and came to the outer
door; he was perhaps a soldier, or at least had something of Roman discipline, giving him
presence of mind; his call for lights brought the body of diogmitai or other class of police who
helped to guard the prisoners; and the opportunity was lost.
(3) It was midnight, and the jailor had to call for lights: how could Paul from the inner
prison see that the jailor was going to kill himself? We must understand that the inner prison was
a small cell, which had no window and no opening, except into the outer and larger prison, and
that the outer prison, also, had one larger door in the opposite wall; then, if there were any faint
starlight in the sky, still more if the moon were up, a person in the outer doorway would be
distinguishable to one whose eyes were accustomed to the darkness, but the jailor would see only
black darkness in the prison.
The jailor was responsible with his life for the safety of his prisoners; and, concluding
from the sight of the open door that they had managed to set themselves free, and open the door,
and escape, he preferred death by his own hand, to exposure, disgrace, and a dishonourable
death.
The Bezan Text preserves in v. 30 a little detail, which is so suggestive of the orderly
well-disciplined character of the jailor, that we are prompted to accept it as genuine. The jailor
first attended to his proper work, and secured all his prisoners; and thereafter he attended to Paul
and Silas, and brought them forth. It seems highly improbable that a Christian in later time would
insert the gloss that the jailor looked after his prisoners before he cared for his salvation; it is
more in the spirit of a later age to be offended with the statement that the jailor did so, and to cut
it out.
In his subsequent action to Paul and Silas, the jailor was not acting illegally. He was
responsible for producing his prisoners when called for; but it was left to himself to keep them as
he thought best.
5. RELEASE AND DEPARTURE FROM PHILIPPI. (XVI 35) AND WHEN DAY WAS
COME THE PR˘TORS SENT THE LICTORS, WITH THE MESSAGE to the jailor: "LET
THOSE MEN GO". (36) AND THE JAILOR REPORTED THE MESSAGE TO PAUL THAT
"THE PR˘TORS HAVE SENT orders THAT YOU BE SET FREE. NOW, THEREFORE, GO
FORTH AND TAKE YOUR WAY IN PEACE]" (37) BUT PAUL SAID UNTO THEM: "THEY
FLOGGED US IN PUBLIC without investigation, ROMAN CITIZENS AS WE ARE, AND
CAST US INTO PRISON; AND NOW DO THEY TURN US OUT SECRETLY? NOT SO;
BUT LET THEM COME IN PERSON AND BRING US OUT." (38) AND THE LICTORS
REPORTED TO THE PR˘TORS THESE WORDS; AND THEY WERE TERRIFIED ON
HEARING THAT "THEY ARE ROMAN CITIZENS"; (39) AND THEY WENT AND
BESOUGHT THEM, AND BROUGHT THEM OUT, AND ASKED THEM TO GO AWAY
FROM THE CITY. (40) AND THEY WENT OUT FROM THE PRISON AND ENTERED
INTO LYDIA’S HOUSE; AND THEY SAW AND EXHORTED THE BRETHREN, AND
WENT AWAY.
The sudden change of attitude on the part of the Prtors is remarkable. One day they sent
the prisoners for careful custody: the next morning they send to release them. The Bezan Reviser
felt the inconsequence, and inserts an explanation: "And when day was come the Prtors
[assembled together in the agora, and remembering the earthquake that had taken place, they
were afraid, and]sent the lictors". But, though this is modelled on Luke’s language (cp. I 15, etc.),
it is hardly in his style of narrative. It is more characteristic of him to give no explanation, but
simply to tell the facts. Perhaps the earthquake had roused their superstitious fears on account of
the irregular and arbitrary proceedings of yesterday. Perhaps they felt some misgivings about
their action. if we are right in thinking that Paul and Silas had appealed vainly to their rights as
Romans.
Whatever be the reason, there can be no mistake as to Luke’s intention to bring out the
contrast (1) between the orders sent to the jailor in the morning, and the charge given to him at
night; (2) between the humble apology of the Prtors in the morning, and their haughty action on
the previous day; (3) between the real fact, that the Prtors had trampled on Roman order and
right, and their fussy pretense of vindicating the majesty of Rome. And so the same Prtors who
had ordered them to be beaten and imprisoned now begged them to go away from the city. In the
Bezan Text the request of the Prtors is put at greater length, and with obvious truth: "the
magistrates, being afraid lest there should be another conspiracy against Paul, and distrusting
their own ability to keep order, said, ’Go forth from this city, lest they, again make a riot and
inveigh loudly against you to us’". The weakness of municipal government in the cities of the
˘gean lands was always a danger to order; and the Bezan Text hits off admirably the situation,
and brings out with much skill the naive desire of the magistrates to avoid an unpleasant ease by
inducing the innocent and weaker parties to submit to injustice and withdraw from the city. One
would gladly think this Lukan.
In v. 37 the rendering (A.V. and R.V.) "uncondemned"does not fairly represent Paul’s
meaning, for it suggests that it would have been allowable for the Prtors to condemn Paul after
fair trial to be flogged. But the Prtors could not in any circumstances order him to be flogged;
in fact, formal trial would only aggravate their crime, as making it more deliberate. The crime
might be palliated by pleading that it was done in ignorance: and Paul would naturally cut away
the plea by saying that they had made no attempt to investigate the facts. Yet the Greek is clear,
and can only be translated "uncondemned". A parallel case occurs XXII 25, where Paul asks the
centurion: "is it lawful for you to flog a man that is a Roman citizen, and him uncondemned?"
Here there is the same false implication that the act would be aggravated by being done without
the proper formal condemnation.
Yet Paul, as a Roman citizen, must have known his rights; and it seems clear that he
could not have used the exact words which Luke reports. Now, when we consider the facts, we
see that it must be so. No civis Romanus would claim his rights in Greek; the very idea is
ludicrous. Paul claimed them in the Roman tongue; and we may fairly understand that the
officials of a Roman colony were expected to understand Latin; for the official language even of
far less important colonies in Asia Minor was Latin. The phrase which Paul used was most
probably re incognita, "without investigating our case". Luke, however, had the true Greek
inability to sympathise with the delicacies of Roman usage, and. translates the Latin by a term,
which would in some circumstances be a fair representative, but not here, nor in XXII 25.
The whole residence of Paul at Philippi seems to have been short: it is defined by Luke as
being "for certain days,"and apparently not much seems to have been accomplished before the
incident of the ventriloquist and the resulting imprisonment. If the party was at Troas in October
A.D. 50, they probably left Philippi before the end of the year. It seems probable from v. 40 that
there were some other Christians besides those in Lydia’s house. It is, however, remarkable that
Luke makes no explicit reference to any other converts.
Doubtless, before Paul left, the question was discussed what should be his next centre;
and Thessalonica was suggested, probably on account of its Jewish settlers, whose synagogue
offered a good opening for work. The directions which were given the travellers at starting were
to make their way along the Roman road through Amphipolis and Apollonia to Thessalonica
(XVII 1, where diodeuvsante" is the verb, oJdov" denoting the Roman road).
6. THESSALONICA. (XVII 1) AND THEY WENT ALONG THE Roman ROAD
THROUGH AMPHIPOLIS AND APOLLONIA, AND CAME TO THESSALONICA, WHERE
WAS A SYNAGOGUE OF THE JEWS. (2) AND, AS WAS CUSTOMARY WITH PAUL, HE
WENT IN TO ADDRESS THEM, AND FOR THREE SABBATHS HE REASONED WITH
THEM FROM THE SCRIPTURES, (3) OPENING THEIR MEANING, AND QUOTING TO
PROVE THAT IT WAS PROPER THAT THE ANOINTED ONE SHOULD SUFFER AND
RISE AGAIN FROM THE DEAD, AND THAT "THE ANOINTED ONE IS THIS man, THE
very JESUS WHOM I AM PROCLAIMING TO YOU". (4) AND SOME OF THEM WERE
PERSUADED; AND THERE WERE IN ADDITION GATHERED TO PAUL AND SILAS
MANY OF THE GODFEARING proselytes, AND A GREAT MULTITUDE OF THE
GREEKS, AND OF THE LEADING WOMEN NOT A FEW.*
The curious and rare title "politarchs"was given to the supreme board of magistrates at
Thessalonica, as is proved by inscriptions.
This passage is full of difficulty both in text and in interpretation. Our text, agreeing with
many MSS. and Versions, recognises three classes of hearers besides the Jews; whereas the
Approved Text, resting on the great MSS., unites the "God-fearing"and "the Greeks"into the
single class "God-fearing Greeks". In this case many reasons combine to show the error of the
latter reading, and the falseness of the principle that has led Tischendoff, Westcott and Hort, and
others to set almost boundless confidence in those MSS. (see note 2, p. 235).
In v. 4 Paul goes on to a wider sphere of influence than the circle of the synagogue; and a
lapse of time is implied in the extension of his work over the general population of the city
(called here by the strictly correct term, Hellenes). Between the two opposite groups, the Jews
and the Hellenes, there is interposed the intermediate class of God-fearing proselytes; and there
is added as a climax a group of noble ladies of the city. In Macedonia, as in Asia Minor, women
occupied a much freer and more influential position than in Athens; and it is in conformity with
the known facts that such prominence is assigned to them in the three Macedonian cities.
In this journey a more pointed distinction than before between the short period of
synagogue work, and the longer period of general work, may be noticed. The three Sabbaths of v.
2 must be taken as the entire period of work within the circle of the synagogue; and the precise
statement of time may also be taken as an indication that the usual quarrel with the Jews took
place earlier at Thessalonica than in former cases.
That a considerable time was spent in the wider work is proved both by its success, and
by the language of I Thess. I, II, which cannot reasonably refer only to work in the synagogue or
to a short missionary work among the general population. Paul clearly refers to a long and very
successful work in Thessalonica. His eagerness to return, and his chafing at the ingenious
obstacle preventing him, are explained by his success: he was always eager to take advantage of
a good opening. Further Paul mentions that the Philippians, IV 16, "sent once and again unto my
need in Thessalonica". It is reasonable to think that some interval elapsed between the gifts
(especially as Paul had to work to maintain himself, I Thess. II 9). Dec. 50-May 51 seems a
probable estimate of the residence in Thessalonica.
7. THE RIOT AT THESSALONICA. (XVII 5) AND THE JEWS BECAME JEALOUS;
AND WITH SOME WORTHLESS ASSOCIATES OF THE LOWER ORDERS THEY
GATHERED A MOB AND MADE A RIOT; AND, ASSAULTING THE HOUSE OF JASON,
THEY SOUGHT TO BRING Paul and Silas BEFORE A PUBLIC MEETING. (6) AND WHEN
THEY FOUND THEM NOT, THEY BEGAN TO DRAG JASON AND CERTAIN
BRETHREN BEFORE THE POLITARCHS, SHOUTING, "THESE THAT HAVE TURNED
THE CIVILISED WORLD UPSIDE DOWN HAVE COME HITHER ALSO, (7) AND JASON
HATH RECEIVED THEM; AND THE WHOLE OF THEM ARE VIOLATING THE
IMPERIAL LAWS, ASSERTING THAT THERE IS ANOTHER EMPEROR, JESUS". (8) AND
THEY TROUBLED THE PEOPLE AND THE POLITARCHS, WHO HEARD THIS. (9) AND
THE POLITARCHS TOOK SECURITIES FOR GOOD BEHAVIOUR FROM JASON AND
THE OTHERS, AND LET THEM GO.
The description of this riot is more detailed than any of the preceding. The lower classes,
the least educated, and the most enslaved to paganism on its vulgarest and most superstitious
side, were the most fanatical opponents of the new teaching; while the politarchs were by no
means inclined to take active measures against it, and the better educated people seem to have
supplied most of the converts. Men of all classes were impressed by the preaching of Paul, but
only women of the leading families; and the difference is obviously due to the fact that the
poorer women were most likely to be under the sway of superstition. A similar distinction is
mentioned at Berea (XVII 12), where not a few of the high-born Greek ladies and of the male
population in general were attracted by the new teaching.
It would appear that this riot was more serious than the words of Luke would at first sight
suggest. The language of Paul in his first letter to the Thessalonians, II 14-16, shows that a
powerful, dangerous, and lasting sentiment was roused among the classes which made the riot.
The charge brought against Paul was subtly conceived and most dangerous. The very
suggestion of treason against the Emperors often proved fatal to the accused; and it compelled
the politarchs to take steps, for, if they failed to do so, they became exposed to a charge of
treason, as having taken too little care for the honour of the Emperor. Many a man was ruined by
such a charge under the earlier Emperors.
The step taken by the politarchs was the mildest that was prudent in the circumstances:
they bound the accused over in security that peace should be kept. This was a penalty familiar in
Roman law, from which it must have been adopted in the ordinary practice of provincial towns
like Thessalonica.
Paul evidently felt very deeply his sudden and premature separation from the Church of
Thessalonica: it was at once so promising and so inexperienced, that he was unusually eager to
return to it; and as he says, "we endeavoured the more exceedingly to see your face with great
desire; because we would fain have come to you, I Paul once and again; and Satan hindered us".
What is the meaning of the strange expression, "Satan hindered us"? How did Paul, who was so
eager to go back to Thessalonica, find an insurmountable obstacle in his way? Was it mere
personal danger that prevented him, or was it some more subtle device of Satanic craft that kept
him out of Thessalonica?
It is not in keeping with Paul’s language to interpret "Satan"in this case as the mob, which
had brought him into danger and was still enraged against him. He alludes by a very different
metaphor to the opposition which he often. experienced from the vulgar, uneducated, and grossly
superstitious city populace. In I Cor. XV 32 he describes his relations with the Ephesian mob as
"fighting with beasts". This term is an interesting mixture of Greek and Roman ideas, and
corresponds well to Paul’s mixed education, as a Roman citizen in a Greek philosopher’s lectureroom. In the lecture room he became familiar with the Platonic comparison of the mob to a
dangerous beast; and amid the surroundings of the Roman Empire he became familiar with the
death-struggle of criminals against the wild beasts of the circus. But a person .who designates the
mob in this contemptuous way, uses the term "Satan"only of some more subtle and dangerous
enemy, far harder to overcome.
Now, security against any disturbance of the peace had been exacted from Jason and his
associates, the leading Christians of Thessalonica; and clearly this implied that they were bound
over to prevent the cause of disturbance, Paul, from coming to Thessalonica. This ingenious
device put an impassable chasm between Paul and the Thessalonians (ejnevkoyen is the strong
term used). So long as the magistrates maintained this attitude, he could not return: he was
helpless, and Satan had power. His only hope lay in an alteration of the magistrates’policy. They
would not be long in power; and perhaps their successors might act differently. But the politarchs
doubtless thought that they treated the case mildly and yet effectually; they got rid of the cause,
without inflicting any punishment on any person.
This interpretation of the term "Satan,"as denoting action taken by the governing power
against the message from God, is in keeping with the figurative use of the word throughout the
New Testament.
8. BEROEA. (XVII 10) AND THE BRETHREN IMMEDIATELY SENT AWAY PAUL
AND SILAS BY NIGHT UNTO BEREA; AND WHEN THEY WERE COME HITHER THEY
WENT INTO THE SYNAGOGUE OF THE JEWS. (11) NOW THESE WERE MORE NOBLE
THAN THOSE IN THESSALONICA, IN THAT THEY RECEIVED THE WORD WITH ALL
READINESS OF MIND, EXAMINING THE SCRIPTURES DAILY WHETHER THESE
THINGS WERE SO. (12) MANY OF THEM THEREFORE BELIEVED; AS DID ALSO NOT
A FEW OF THE HIGH-BORN GREEK LADIES AND OF THE MALE POPULATION. (13)
BUT WHEN THE JEWS OF THESSALONICA LEARNED THAT IN BEREA ALSO THE
WORD OF GOD WAS PREACHED BY PAUL, THEY CAME THERE ALSO EXCITING
AND DISTURBING THE MULTITUDES. (14) THEN FORTHWITH PAUL WAS SENT
FORTH BY THE BRETHREN TO GO TOWARDS THE SEA; BUT SILAS AND TIMOTHY
REMAINED THERE. (15) AND THEY THAT CONDUCTED PAUL BROUGHT HIM AS
FAR AS ATHENS; AND RECEIVING DIRECTIONS FOR SILAS AND TIMOTHY THAT
THEY SHOULD COME TO HIM WITH ALL SPEED, THEY DEPARTED.
Here, just as at Thessalonica, a wider influence than the circle of the synagogue is
distinctly implied, so that we must understand that Paul preached also to the Greek population.
The nobler conduct of the Berean Jews consisted in their freedom from that jealousy, which
made the Jews in Thessalonica and many other places enraged when the offer of salvation was
made as freely to others as to themselves.
The process that compelled Paul’s departure from Berea was evidently quite similar to
that at Thessalonica; and probably that is the reason why the riot and the accusation of treason
against the Emperor are not mentioned more particularly (p. 72). As usual, we notice how lightly
Luke passes over the difficulties and dangers which drove Paul from place to place.
In v. 15 we must understand that Silas and Timothy obeyed the directions, and came on to
rejoin Paul. There is no point in mentioning such an order, unless it were obeyed. It is in the style
of Luke to mention an intention and leave the reader to gather that it was carried into effect (p.
181). Moreover, we learn from I Thess. III 1 that Timothy was sent by Paul away from Athens to
Thessalonica, which implies that he rejoined him. It is undeniable that the statement in XVIII 5,
"when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia,"seems at first sight to imply that they
arrived from Berea only after Paul had left Athens, and followed him on to Corinth, and met him
there for the first time since his departure from Berea. But the calculation of time shows that that
could hardly be the case: it would not take nearly so long to perform the journey, and we shall
see that Silas and Timothy rejoined Paul in Corinth after a mission from Athens to Thessalonica
and Philippi (p. 241). In that case the narrative is very awkward and badly constructed; and we
can hardly suppose that it has received the final touches from the author’s hand. It is not
unnatural that the Philippian author, writing about facts with which he and his nearest audience
were specially familiar, and making his narrative as brief as possible, should have omitted to
mention the mission from Athens to Macedonia. But it is probable that, if he had lived to put the
finishing touch to his work, he would not have left this awkwardness.
Another possible indication of incompleteness is the emission of the harbour of Berea, a
unique omission in this history (p. 70).
The question naturally occurs, why did Paul go on from Berea alone, leaving Silas and
Timothy behind, and yet send orders immediately on reaching Athens that they were to join him
with all speed? There seems at first sight some inconsistency here. But again comparison
between Acts and Thess. solves the difficulty. Paul was eager "once and again"to return to
Thessalonica; and was waiting for news that the impediment placed in his way was removed.
Silas and Timothy remained to receive the news (perhaps about the attitude of new magistrates);
and to bring it on to Paul. But they could not bring it on to him until they received his message
from Athens; Paul left Berea with no fixed plan,"sent forth by the brethren to go to the coast,"and
the further journey to Athens was resolved on at the harbour.
We must allow several months for the residence at Berea, with the preaching in the
synagogue and the city, and the riot. Paul must have reached Athens some time in August 51, as
is shown by the dates of his residence in Corinth (p. 264).
There is an interesting addition made to the Bezan Text of v. 15: "and they which
conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens; [and he neglected Thessalia, for he was prevented
from preaching the word unto them]". Here we meet a difficult question in provincial bounds.
Where should Paul go from Bercea? The one thing clear to him was that he was called to
Macedonia. If Thessaly was part of that province,* Larissa was the natural completion of his
Macedonian work; and we could readily believe that he thought of it and was prevented by a
revelation. But, in that case, why is "the revelation"left out? Such an omission is unique in Acts.
On the other hand, if Thessaly was part of Achaia, Paul could not think at that time of beginning
work in a new province. In Athens he was merely waiting for the chance of returning to
Thessalonica (p. 240). But, in that case, we might understand, "he was prevented (by the call
restricting him to Macedonia)". Perhaps the Reviser, having eliminated parh’lqen from XVI 8,
thought that XVII 15 was a suitable place for the idea, which he wished to preserve.
Note 1. The Place of Prayer at Philippi. We take our stand upon the fact that the Bezan
Text, "where there seemed to be a prayer-place"(ejdovkei proseuch; ei\nai), appears to be an
explanation of our text (ejomivzeto proseuch; ei\nai): it is therefore clear that in the middle of the
second century our text was read, and was found difficult, and was misunderstood to mean "there
was thought to be a prayer-place ". This misunderstanding led to other attempts at correction, one
of which appears in the great MSS. (ejnomivzomen proseuchVn ei\nai).
Note 2. The Synagogue at Thessalonica. The true reading of XVII 4 results from a
comparison of A with D. The reading of the great MSS. is impossible for these reasons: (1) It
restricts Paul’s converts to Jews. proselyte Greeks, and a few ladies, taking no notice of any work
outside the circle of the synagogue. I Thess. gives the impression that converts direct from
heathenism were the mass of the Church. (2) It restricts Paul’s work to three Sabbaths, which is
opposed to all rational probability, to Thess. and to Phil.; whereas our text restricts the work
within the circle of the synagogue to three Sabbaths, but adds a second stage much more
important, when a great multitude of the general population of the city was affected. (3) The
contrast drawn between the Jews of Berea and of Thessalonica, v. 11, is very unfair to the latter,
if, as the great MSS. put it, three Sabbaths produced such vast effect within the circle of the
synagogue. (4) That reading speaks of "a great multitude of God-fearing Greeks,"implying that
the synagogue had exercised an astonishing influence on the population. Lightfoot quotes the
fact that Salonica is still mainly a Jewish city, as a proof that Judaism gained and kept a strong
hold on the city throughout Christian history; but a visit to Salonica would have saved him from
this error. The Jews of Salonica speak Spanish as their language, and are descended from
Spanish Jews, expelled by Ferdinand and Isabella, who found in Turkey a refuge denied or
grudged them in most European countries. There is no reason known to me for thinking that
Judaism was strong in the city under the Byzantine Empire; and the strong antipathy of the
Greeks to the Jews makes it improbable. The Thessalonian Jews were protected by the Roman
government; but one may doubt if they maintained their ground under the Christian Empire.
Chapter XI. ATHENS AND CORINTH
1. ATHENS. (XVII 16) NOW WHILE PAUL WAS WAITING FOR THEM IN
ATHENS, HIS SOUL WAS PROVOKED WITHIN HIM AS HE BEHELD THE CITY FULL
OF IDOLS. (17) SO HE REASONED IN THE SYNAGOGUE WITH THE JEWS AND THE
PROSELYTES, AND IN THE MARKETPLACE EVERY DAY WITH CHANCE COMERS . . .
. (23) "AS I WENT THROUGH THE CITY SURVEYING THE MONUMENTS OF YOUR
RELIGION, I FOUND ALSO AN ALTAR WITH THIS INSCRIPTION ’TO UNKNOWN
GOD’."
The picture of Paul in Athens, which is given in the ensuing scene, is very characteristic
of Athenian life. Luke places before us the man who became "all things to all men,"and who
therefore in Athens made himself like an Athenian and adopted the regular Socratic style of
general free discussion in the agora; and he shows him to us in an atmosphere and a light which
are thoroughly Attic in their clearness, delicacy, and charm.
It is evident from v.23, and our conception of Paul’s character forces the same view on us,
that he was not indifferent even to the "sights"of the great university city of the world, which
united in itself so many memorials of history and of education. The feelings which would rise in
the mind of an American scholar from Harvard, seeing Oxford for the first time, were not alien to
Paul’s spirit The mere Jew could never have assumed the Attic tone as Paul did. He was in
Athens the student of a great university, visiting an older but yet a kindred university, surveying
it with appreciative admiration, and mixing in its society as an equal conversing with men of like
education.
This extraordinary versatility in Paul’s character, the unequaled freedom and ease with
which he moved in every society, and addressed so many races within the Roman world, were
evidently appreciated by the man who wrote this narrative, for the rest of Chapter XVII is as
different in tone from XIII as Athens is different from Phrygia. Only a writer who was in perfect
sympathy with his subject could adapt his tone to it so perfectly as Luke does. In Ephesus Paul
taught "in the school of Tyrannus"; in the city of Socrates he discussed moral questions in the
market-place. How incongruous it would seem if the methods were transposed! But the narrative
never makes a false step amid all the many details, as the scene changes from city to city; and
that is the conclusive proof that it is a picture of real life.
Athens in Paul’s time was no longer the Athens of Socrates; but the Socratic method had
its roots in the soil of Attica and the nature of the Athenian people. In Athens Socrates can never
quite die, and his spirit was in Paul’s time still among the people, though the learned lecturers of
the university felt already the coming spirit of Herodes Atticus more congenial to them. Among
the people in the agora, then, Paul reasoned in the Socratic fashion; but when the Professors
came upon the scene, they soon demanded of him a display in the style of the rhetorician.
As Paul wandered through Athens, the interest in its monuments and its university was
soon overpowered by the indignation roused by the idols with which it was crowded. In this
centre of the world’s education, amid the lecture-rooms where philosophers had taught for
centuries that it was mere superstition to confuse the idol with the divine nature which it
represented, the idols were probably in greater numbers than anywhere else in Paul’s experience.
Though he was only waiting for the message to go back to Thessalonica, and resume the work in
Macedonia to which he had been called, yet indignation would not let him keep silence during
the short stay which he anticipated in Athens. He began to discourse in the synagogue, and to
hold Socratic dialogue in the agora with any one whom he met.
Here we observe the same double mission as in Berea, Thessalonica, and elsewhere; and,
as in other cases, the Jewish mission is mentioned first. There is one marked difference between
this passage and the corresponding descriptions at Berea and Thessalonica. In those cases great
results were attained; but in Athens no converts are mentioned at this stage, either in the
synagogue or in the agora. The lack of results at this stage is, however, fully explained by the
shortness of the time. Paul’s stay in Athens can hardly have been longer than six weeks, and was
probably less than four; and the process described in v. 17 was brought to a premature close by
the great event of his visit, which the historian describes very fully.
The time spent in Athens may be deduced approximately from the following
considerations. Probably less than a fortnight elapsed before Silas and Timothy joined him there,
according to his urgent directions. They brought with them no favourable news: it was still
impossible for him to return to Thessalonica, and he "thought it good to be left in Athens alone,
and sent Timothy to comfort the Thessalonians concerning their faith"(I Thess. III 1, 2).
Since Paul remained alone, Silas also must have been sent away from Athens; and as,
some two months later, Silas with Timothy rejoined Paul from Macedonia, he was probably sent
to Philippi, for frequent communication was maintained at this time between Paul and his first
European Church (Phil. IV 15 f.).
Paul was still looking forward to a return to his proper work in Macedonia; and it is clear
that he intended to remain in Athens until Silas and Timothy came back from their mission,
which makes it probable that their absence was not intended to be a long one. Doubtless they
travelled to Thessalonica together, and Timothy waited there while Silas went to Philippi,
discharged his mission, and returned; and then they came to Athens together. They found Paul no
longer there, for he had in the meantime gone to Corinth. Circumstances that happened in Athens
had forced him to abandon the city and go to Corinth: "after this he departed from Athens and
came to Corinth"(XVIII 1). In this sentence it might seem that the words "departed from
Athens"are wasted; and that it would have been sufficient to say after this he came to Corinth";
but our principle is that every minute fact stated in Acts has its own significance, and the
departure from Athens (cwrisqei;" ejk tw’n jAqhnw’n) is emphasised, because it was a violation
of the intended plan under the compulsion of events.
The same word is used in XVIII 1 to describe Paul’s departure from Athens, and in 2 to
describe Aquila’s enforced departure from Rome. On our view (p. 252) the idea of sudden,
premature departure is contained in each.
Further, it is clear that Paul had been in Corinth for some time and attained a certain
measure of success, before Silas and Timothy arrived; and, if we allow seven weeks for their
mission, which seems ample, he must have spent altogether about three or four weeks in Athens
and five or six in Corinth.
2. IN THE UNIVERSITY AT ATHENS. (XVII 18 AND CERTAIN ALSO OF THE
STOIC AND EPICUREAN PHILOSOPHERS ENGAGED IN DISCUSSIONS WITH HIM;
AND SOME SAID, "WHAT WOULD THIS SPERMOLOGOS [ignorant plagarist] SAY?"
AND OTHERS, "HE IS APPARENTLY AN EXPONENT OF FOREIGN
DIVINITIES"[BECAUSE HE WAS GIVING THE GOOD NEWS OF "JESUS"AND
"RESURRECTION "]. (19) AND THEY TOOK HOLD OF HIM AND BROUGHT HIM
BEFORE THE Council of AREOPAGUS, SAYING, "MAY WE LEARN WHAT IS THIS NEW
TEACHING WHICH IS SPOKEN BY THEE? (20) FOR THOU BRINGEST SOME THINGS
OF FOREIGN FASHION TO OUR EARS; WE WISH THEREFORE TO LEARN WHAT IS
THEIR NATURE." (21) BUT THE WHOLE crowd of ATHENIANS AND RESIDENT
STRANGERS who formed the audience WERE INTERESTED ONLY IN SAYING OR
HEARING SOMETHING NEW and smart. (22) AND PAUL STOOD IN THE MIDST OF THE
Council of AREOPAGUS AND SAID . . . (33) THUS PAUL WENT FORTH FROM THE
MIDST OF THEM.
The explanatory clause in v. 18 is wanting in the Bezan Text and an old Latin Version,
and is foreign to Luke’s fashion of leaving the reader to form his own ideas with regard to the
scene. It is apparently a gloss, suggested by v. 32, which found its way into the text of almost all
MSS.
The different opinions of the philosophers in v. 18 are purposely placed side by side with
a touch of gentle sarcasm on their inability, with all their acuteness, to agree in any opinion even
about Paul’s meaning. The first opinion is the most interesting. It contains a word of
characteristically Athenian slang, Spermolgos, and is clearly caught from the very lips of the
Athenians (as Dr. Blass happily puts it). This term was used in two senses-(1) a small bird that
picks up seeds for its food, and (2) a worthless fellow of low class and vulgar habits, with the
insinuation that he lives at the expense of others, like those disreputable persons who hang round
the markets and the quays in order to pick up anything that falls from the loads that are carried
about. Hence, as a term in social slang, it connotes absolute vulgarity and inability to rise above
the most contemptible standard of life and conduct; it is often connected with slave life, for the
Spermolgos was near the type of the slave and below the level of the free man; and there clings
to it the suggestion of picking up refuse and scraps, and in literature of plagiarism without the
capacity to use correctly. In ancient literature plagiarism was not disapproved when it was done
with skill, and when the idea or words taken from another were used with success: the literary
offence lay in the ignorance and incapacity displayed when stolen knowledge was improperly
applied.
To appreciate fully a term of social slang requires the greatest effort to sympathise with
and recreate the actual life of the people who used the term. Probably the nearest and most
instructive parallel in modern English life to Spermolgos is "Bounder,"allowing for the
difference between England and Athens. In both there lies the idea of one who is "out of the
swim,"out of the inner circle, one who lacks that thorough knowledge and practice in the rules of
the game that mould the whole character and make it one’s nature to act in the proper way and
play the game fair. The English term might be applied to a candidate for a professorship, whose
life and circumstances had lain in a different line and who wanted knowledge and familiarity
with the subject; and that is the way in which St. Paul is here called a Spermolgos, as one who
aped the ways and words of philosophers. Dean Farrar’s rendering, "picker-up of learning’s
crumbs,"is happy, but loses the touch of slang.
The general tendency of recent opinion is that Paul was taken to the Hill of Ares, in order
to give an address in quiet surroundings to a crowd of Athenians on the spot where the Council
that derived its name from the hill sat to hold solemn trials for murder; and the view taken in the
Authorised Version and the ancient authorities, such as Chrysostom and Theophylact, that Paul
was subjected to a trial before the Council, is rejected on the ground that in the proceedings there
is nothing of a judicial type, no accuser, no accusation, and no defensive character in Paul’s
speech, which is addressed not to a court but to a general Athenian audience. These reasons quite
disprove the view that the scene described in vv. 19-34 was a trial. But the idea that the assembly
of Athenians went up to the hill-top as a suitable place for listening to an address is even more
unsatisfactory. The top of the little hill is a most unsuitable place from its small size and its
exposed position; and it is quite out of keeping with the habits of the people to go to such a place
for such a purpose. Curtius has led the way to a proper view of the whole incident, which lies
wholly in the agora.
Further, it is inconsistent with the patriotism and pride of the Athenians that they should
conduct a foreigner for whom they expressed such contempt to the most impressive seat of
Athenian religious and national history, in order that he might there talk to them. The Athenians
were, in many respects, flippant; but their flippancy was combined with an intense pride in the
national dignity and the historic glory of the city, which would have revolted at such an insult as
that this stranger should harangue them about his foreign deities on the spot where the Athenian
elders had judged the god Ares and the hero Orestes, where the goddess Athena had presided in
the highest court of her chosen people, and where still judgment on the most grave cases of
homicide was solemnly pronounced.
Nor would it be a permissible interpretation that a small number of philosophic inquirers
retired to this quiet spot for unimpeded discussion. The scene and the speech breathe the spirit of
the agora, and the open, free, crowded life of Athens, not the quiet atmosphere of the philosophic
study or class-room; while the tone of the opinions expressed in v. 18 is not one of philosophic
interest and careful discussion, but of contempt, dislike, and jealousy. Moreover, it would be an
insult to address philosophic inquirers in the language of vv. 22-3. The philosophers did not
dedicate altars to an Unknown God, but regarded all such proceedings as the mere superstition of
the vulgar. Paul’s speech is an exceedingly skillful one, if addressed to a popular audience; but to
philosophers it would be unskillful and unsuitable.
But the language shows clearly that Paul was brought before the Council and not simply
conducted to the Hill. He stood "in the midst of the Areopagus,"v. 22, and "he went forth from
the midst of them": he that went forth from the midst of them must have been standing in the
midst of them. In this scene, full of the Attic spirit and containing typical words of Athenian
slang like Spermolgos, we require some distinctly Greek sense for each detail; and "Paul stood
in the middle of the Hill"is in Greek an absurdity. He stood in the middle of the Council, a great
and noble, but not a friendly assembly, as in IV 7 Peter stood "in the midst"of the Sanhedrim; and
in Acts and the Gospels many similar expressions occur. (See note, p. 260.)
The philosophers took hold of Paul. When a man, especially an educated man, goes so far
as to lay his hands on another, it is obvious that his feelings must be moved; and the word must
have some marked sense in a writer whose expression is so carefully studied as Luke’s. It occurs
as a sign of friendly encouragement to a person in a solitary and difficult position, IX 27, XXIII
19; but more frequently it denotes hostile action, as XXI 30, XVIII 17, XVI 19. There must have
been some stronger feeling among the philosophers than mere contempt mingled with some
slight curiosity, before they actually placed their hands on Paul. Now they certainly did not act as
his friends and sponsors in taking him before the Council, therefore we must understand that they
took him there from dislike and with malice.
What then was their object? Every attempt to explain the scene as a trial has failed, and
must fail (p. 243). Even the idea of a preliminary inquiry is unsuitable; for, if it were so, none of
the marked features of the scene are preserved in the narrative, which would be contrary to our
experience in Luke’s descriptions. In estimating the situation, we must remember that in vv. 18,
19, Paul is among the lecturers and professors of the university. Therein lies the chief interest of
the scene, which is unique in Acts. We have seen Paul in various situations, and mixing in many
phases of contemporary life. Here alone he stands amid the surroundings of a great university,
disputing with its brilliant and learned teachers; and here, as in every other situation, he adapts
himself with his usual versatility to the surroundings, and moves in them as to the manner born.
Two questions have to be answered in regard to the scene that follows: why was Paul
taken before the Council? and what were the intentions of the philosophers in taking him there?
It is clear that Paul appeared to the philosophers as one of the many ambitious teachers who came
to Athens hoping to find fame and fortune at the great centre of education. Now, certain powers
were vested in the Council of Areopagus to appoint or invite lecturers at Athens, and to exercise
some general control over the lecturers in the interests of public order and morality. There is an
almost complete lack of evidence what were the advantages and .the legal rights of a lecturer thus
appointed, and to what extent or in what way a strange teacher could find freedom to lecture in
Athens. There existed something in the way of privileges vested in the recognised lecturers; for
the fact that Cicero induced the Areopagus to pass a decree inviting Cratippus, the Peripatetic
philosopher, to become a lecturer in Athens, implies that some advantage was thereby lectured to
him. There certainly also existed much freedom for foreigners to become lecturers in Athens, for
the great majority of the Athenian professors and lecturers were foreign. The scene described in
vv. 18-34 seems to prove that the recognised lecturers could take a strange lecturer before the
Areopagus, and require him to give an account of his teaching and pass a test as to its character.
When they took him to the court to satisfy the supreme university tribunal of his
qualifications, they probably entertained some hope that he would be overawed before that
august body, or that his teaching might not pass muster, as being of unsettling tendency (for no
body is so conservative as a University Court).
The government in Greek cities exercised a good deal of control over the entire system of
education, both for boys and for young men, who were trained in graduated classes and passed
on from one to another in regular course. There is good reason for thinking that in Athens this
control was exercised by the Council of Areopagus, in the case both of boys and of young men: it
rises naturally out of their ancient charge of the manners and morals of the citizens, of the public
hygiene and the state physicians, and of offences against religious ritual (though serious charges
of impiety and of introducing foreign religion were not tried before the Areopagus but before the
popular courts);and it is, in ancient view, related to the control of peace and order which they
exercised in the Roman period. Moreover, Quintilian mentions that the Areopagus punished a
boy who used to pluck out the eyes of quails, which implies their jurisdiction over the young.
In the rhetorical displays of that period, the general audience (corona) was an important
feature. The influence of the audience is familiar to every reader of the literature of that time; and
the younger Pliny says that even the lawyers of his time spoke more to gain the approval and
applause of the audience than to influence the opinion and judgment of the court. Owing to the
difficulty in multiplying copies of literary productions, public opinion could not be so well
appealed to or expressed in any other way; and the applause or disapproval of the circle of
hearers came to represent to a great extent the public verdict on all intellectual achievements.
Luke, therefore, could not well omit the audience, even in this brief account; and he touches it
off in v. 21, where the force of the imperfect tense is important: Luke is not describing the
general character of the Athenian people (which would require a present tense): he places another
element in the scene alongside of those already described. While the philosophers insisted with
some malevolent intention on having a test applied, the general crowd of Athenians and resident
strangers were merely moved by curiosity.
The unmistakable tone of contempt in the description suits a Macedonian describing an
Athenian crowd (for the two peoples always disliked and despised each other); and it is not
undeserved. As Mr. Capes says in his University Life in Ancient Athens: "the people commonly
was nothing loath to hear: they streamed as to a popular preacher in our own day, or to an actor
starring in provincial towns: the epicures accepted the invitation to the feast of words, and
hurried to the theatre to judge as critics the choice of images, and refinement of the style, and all
the harmony of balanced periods ". As Luke says, they were as eager to make smart criticisms as
to listen.
3. THE SPEECH BEFORE THE COUNCIL OF AREOPAGUS. (XVII 22) AND PAUL
STOOD IN THE MIDST OF THE COUNCIL AND SAID, "YE MEN OF ATHENS, IN ALL
RESPECTS I OBSERVE THAT YOU ARE MORE than others RESPECTFUL OF WHAT IS
DIVINE. (23) FOR AS I WAS GOING THROUGH your city AND SURVEYING THE
MONUMENTS OF YOUR WORSHIP, I FOUND ALSO AN ALTAR WITH THE
INSCRIPTION TO UNKNOWN GOD. THAT divine nature, THEN, WHICH YOU WORSHIP,
NOT KNOWING what it is, I AM SETTING FORTH TO YOU. (24) THE GOD THAT MADE
THE WORLD AND ALL THINGS THEREIN, HE, LORD AS HE IS OF HEAVEN AND
EARTH, DWELLETH NOT IN SHRINES MADE WITH HANDS, (25) AND IS NOT
SERVED BY HUMAN HANDS AS THOUGH HE NEEDED ANYTHING, SINCE HE
HIMSELF GIVETH TO ALL LIFE AND BREATH AND ALL THINGS. (26) AND HE MADE
OF ONE nature EVERY RACE OF MEN TO DWELL ON ALL THE FACE OF THE EARTH;
AND FIXED DEFINED TIMES AND BOUNDS OF THEIR HABITATION, (27) THAT THEY
SHOULD SEEK THE GOD, IF HAPLY THEY MIGHT FEEL AFTER HIM AND FIND HIM,
BEING AS INDEED HE IS NOT FAR FROM EACH ONE OF US. (28) FOR IN HIM WE
LIVE AND MOVE AND ARE, AS CERTAIN ALSO OF YOUR POETS HAVE SAID, FOR
WE ARE ALSO HIS OFFSPRING. (29) BEING THEN THE OFFSPRING OF GOD, WE
OUGHT NOT TO THINK THAT THE DIVINE NATURE IS LIKE UNTO GOLD OR SILVER
OR STONE, GRAVEN BY ART AND DEVICE OF MAN. (30) NOW THE TIMES OF
IGNORANCE GOD OVERLOOKED, BUT AT PRESENT HE CHARGETH ALL MEN
EVERYWHERE TO REPENT, (31) INASMUCH AS HE HATH SET A DAY ON WHICH, IN
the person of THE MAN WHOM HE HATH ORDAINED, HE WILL JUDGE THE WORLD IN
RIGHTEOUSNESS; AND HE HATH GIVEN ALL A GUARANTEE BY RAISING HIM
FROM THE DEATH."(32) AND WHEN THEY HEARD OF "RAISING FROM THE
DEAD,"SOME MOCKED, AND OTHERS SAID, "WE WILL HEAR THEE CONCERNING
THIS YET AGAIN". (33) THUS PAUL WENT OUT FROM THE MIDST OF THEM. (34)
BUT CERTAIN MEN CLAVE UNTO HIM AND BELIEVED; AMONG WHOM ALSO WAS
DIONYSIUS, A MEMBER OF THE COUNCIL, AND A WOMAN NAMED DAMARIS, AND
OTHERS WITH THEM. (XVIII 1) AND THEREAFTER HE LEFT ATHENS, AND WENT TO
CORINTH.
The influence of Paul’s Athenian surroundings may be traced in the "philosophy of
history"which he sketches briefly in his address. In the Socratic position the virtue
of"knowing"was too exclusively dwelt on, and in some of the earlier Platonic dialogues the view
is maintained that virtue is knowledge and vice ignorance; and Greek philosophy was never clear
about the relation of will and permanent character to "knowing". The Greek philosophers could
hardly admit, and could never properly understand, that a man may know without carrying his
knowledge into action, that he may refuse to know when knowledge is within his grasp, and that
the refusal exercises a permanent deteriorating influence on his character. Now Paul, in his
estimate of the relation of the pre-Christian world to God, adopts a different position in the
Athenian speech from that on which he afterwards took his stand in his letter to the Romans, I
19-32. In the latter place he recognises (to quote Lightfoot’s brief analysis) that the pagan world
"might have seen God through His works. They refused to see Him. They disputed, and they
blinded their hearts. Therefore they were delivered over to impurity. They
not only did those
things; but they took delight in those who did them."Here we have a full recognition of that
fundamental fact in human nature and life, which ˘schylus expressed in his greatest drama * a
conception of his own differing from the common Greek view:"the impious act breeds more, like
to its own kind: it is the nature of crime to beget new crime, and along with it the depraved
audacious will that settles, like an irresistible spirit of ill, on the house". But to the Athenians
Paul says, "the times of ignorance, therefore, God overlooked"; and those times are alluded to as
a period, when men were doing their best to find and to worship "God Unknown". We must not,
of course, demand that the entire theology of Paul should be compressed into this single address;
but yet there is a notable omission of an element that was unfamiliar and probably repugnant to
his audience, and an equally notable insistence on an element that was familiar to them. The
Stoic ring in 23 f. is marked (pp. 147, 150).
One woman was converted at Athens; and it is not said that she was of good birth, as Was
stated at Berea and Thessalonica and Pisidian Antioch. The difference is true to life. It was
impossible in Athenian society for a woman of respectable position and family to have any
opportunity of hearing Paul; and the name Damaris (probably a vulgarism for damalis, heifer)
suggests a foreign woman, perhaps one of the class of educated Hetairai, who might very well be
in his audience.
It would appear that Paul was disappointed and perhaps disillusioned by his experience in
Athens. He felt that he had gone at least as far as was right in the way of presenting his doctrine
in a form suited to the current philosophy; and the result had been little more than naught. When
he went on from Athens to Corinth, he no longer spoke in the philosophic style. In replying
afterwards to the unfavourable comparison between his preaching and the more philosophical
style of Apollos, he told the Corinthians that, when he came among them, he "determined not to
know anything save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified"(I Cor. I 12); and nowhere throughout his
writings is he so hard on the wise, the philosophers, and the dialecticians, as when he defends the
way in which he had presented Christianity at Corinth. Apparently the greater concentration of
purpose and simplicity of method in his preaching at Corinth is referred to by Luke, when he
says, XVIII 5, that when Silas and Timothy rejoined him there, they found him wholly possessed
by and engrossed in the word. This strong expression, so unlike anything else in Acts , must, on
our hypothesis, be taken to indicate some specially marked character in the Corinthian preaching.
4. CORINTH. (XVIII 1) AFTER THESE EVENTS HE LEFT ATHENS AND WENT
TO CORINTH. (2) AND, FINDING A CERTAIN JEW NAMED AQUILA, A MAN OF
PONTUS BY BIRTH, WHO HAD LATELY COME FROM ITALY, AND PRISCILLA HIS
WIFE, BECAUSE CLAUDIUS HAD COMMANDED ALL THE JEWS TO LEAVE ROME,
HE ACCOSTED THEM. (3) AND BECAUSE HE WAS OF THE SAME CRAFT, HE ABODE
WITH THEM, AND WROUGHT AT HIS TRADE [FOR THEY WERE TENTMAKERS BY
THEIR CRAFT]. (4) AND HE USED TO DISCOURSE IN THE SYNAGOGUE EVERY
SABBATH, AND TRIED TO PERSUADE JEWS AND GREEKS. (5) AND WHEN SILAS
AND TIMOTHY ARRIVED FROM MACEDONIA, HE WAS WHOLLY ABSORBED IN
PREACHING, ATTESTING TO THE JEWS THAT THE ANOINTED ONE IS JESUS.
Almost all MSS. add to v. 3 the explanation which we have given in parentheses; but it
comes in very awkwardly, for Luke, who said at the beginning of the verse, "because he was of
the same craft,"did not intend to say at the end, "for they were tentmakers by craft". The Bezan
Text and an old Latin Version (Gig.) omit this detail; and they must here represent the original
state of the text. In order to make the explanation a little less awkward, the two great MSS. read,
"he abode with them and they wrought". The explanation is a gloss, which crept from the margin
into the text. It is doubtless very early, and perfectly trustworthy: its vitality lies in its truth, for
that was not the kind of detail that was invented in the growth of the Pauline legend.
Aquila, a man of Pontus, settled in Rome bears a Latin name; and must therefore have
belonged to the province and not to non-Roman Pontus. This is a good example of Luke’s
principle to use the Roman provincial divisions for purposes of classification (pp. 91, 196).
There is here a reference to Imperial history. Aquila and Priscilla had come recently from
Rome, on account of an edict of Claudius expelling the Jews from Rome. Suetonius says that the
expulsion was caused by a series of disturbances "due to the action of Chrestus"; and in all
probability this Chrestus must be interpreted as "the leader of the Chrestians"(p. 47 f.), taken by a
popular error as actually living. In the earliest stages of Christian history in Rome, such a mistake
was quite natural; and Suetonius reproduces the words which he found in a document of the
period. As Dion Cassius mentions, it was found so difficult to keep the Jews out of Rome on
account of their numbers, that the Emperor did not actually expel them, but made stricter
regulations about their conduct. It would therefore appear that the edict was found unworkable in
practice; but Suetonius is a perfect authority that it was tried, and it is quite probable that some
Jews obeyed it, and among them Aquila. Neither Suetonius nor Dion gives any clue to the date;
but Orosius says that it occurred in Claudius’s ninth year, 49. I believe that this date is a year
wrong, like that of the famine (p. 68), and for the same reason: the edict must be placed in the
end of 50, and thus Aquila arrived in Corinth six or seven months before Paul came in Sept. 51.
The careful record of Aquila’s antecedents must, on our hypothesis, be taken as not a
mere picturesque detail; Luke mentioned his Roman residence, because it had some bearing on
his subject. After some time (during most of which Paul had been in Aquila’s company at Corinth
and at Ephesus), a journey to Rome is announced as Paul’s next intention, XIX 21. Aquila was
able to tell him of the events that had occurred in Rome "at the action of Chrestus"; and his
experience showed him how important it was to go direct to the great centres of Roman life. The
connection of Luke with the Macedonian journey (p. 203) is an interesting parallel.
Paul mentions in writing to the Romans, XV 24, that he intended to go on from Rome to
Spain. Such an intention implies in the plainest way an idea already existent in Paul’s mind of
Christianity as the religion of the Roman Empire. Spain was by far the most thoroughly
romanised district of the Empire, as was marked soon after by the act of Vespasian in 75, when
he made the Latin status universal in Spain. From the centre of the Roman world Paul would go
on to the chief seat of Roman civilisation in the West, and would thus complete a first survey, the
intervals of which should be filled up by assistants, such as Timothy, Titus, etc.
5. THE SYNAGOGUE AND THE GENTILES IN CORINTH. (XVIII 6) AND WHEN
THEY BEGAN TO FORM A FACTION AGAINST HIM AND BLASPHEME, HE SHOOK
OUT HIS GARMENTS AND SAID UNTO THEM, "YOUR BLOOD ON YOUR OWN HEAD!
I ON MY SIDE AM CLEAN! FROM HENCEFORTH I WILL GO UNTO THE
GENTILES,"i.e., in this city. (7) AND HE CHANGED HIS PLACE from the synagogue, AND
WENT INTO THE HOUSE OF A CERTAIN MAN NAMED TITIUS JUSTUS, A GODFEARING proselyte, WHOSE HOUSE JOINED HARD TO THE SYNAGOGUE. (8) BUT
CRISPUS, THE ARCHISYNA GOGOS, BELIEVED IN THE LORD WITH ALL HIS HOUSE;
AND MANY OF THE PEOPLE OF CORINTH USED TO HEAR AND BELIEVE AND
RECEIVE BAPTISM. (9) AND THE LORD SAID IN THE NIGHT BY A VISION UNTO
PAUL, "BE NOT AFRAID, BUT SPEAK ON, .AND HOLD NOT THY PEACE; (10)
BECAUSE I AM WITH THEE, AND NO MAN SHALL SET ON THEE TO HARM THEE;
BECAUSE I HAVE MUCH PEOPLE IN THIS CITY". (11) AND HE SETTLED A YEAR
AND SIX MONTHS, TEACHING AMONG THEM THE WORD OF GOD.
The distinction between the period of work in the synagogue, and that of direct preaching
to the populace, is expressed with marked emphasis at Corinth. Corinth stood on the highroad
between Rome and the East; and was therefore one of the greatest centres of influence in the
Roman world. Macedonia was in this respect quite secondary, though one of the routes to the
East passed across it; and hence Paul was ordered to sit down for a prolonged stay when he
reached Corinth. It is characteristic of Luke to define the entire stay before relating some
incidents that occurred in it (pp. 153, 289).
It must be acknowledged that Paul had not a very conciliatory way with the Jews when he
became angry. The shaking out of his garments was undoubtedly a very exasperating gesture;
and the occupying of a meetinghouse next door to the synagogue, with the former
archisynagogos as a prominent officer, was more than human nature could stand. Probably he
found unusual opposition here, pp. 143, 287; but it is not strange that the next stage of
proceedings was in a law-court.
Titius Justus was evidently a Roman or a Latin, one of the coloni of the colony Corinth.
Like the centurion Cornelius, he had been attracted to the synagogue. His citizenship would
afford Paul an opening to the more educated class of the Corinthian population.
It seems to be implied by vv. 8, 17, that there was only one archisynagogos in the
Corinthian synagogue; and, when Crispus became a Christian, a successor was appointed. At
Pisidian Antioch there were several archisynagogoi. M.S. Reinach has shown from a Smyrn an
inscription that the title in Asia Minor did not indicate an office, but was a mere expression of
dignity, "a leading person in the synagogue"; and the Bezan Text of XIV 2 distinguishes clearly
between the archons of the synagogue (officials, probably two in number), and the
archisynagogoi.
6. THE IMPERIAL POLICY IN ITS RELATION TO PAUL AND TO CHRISTIAN
PREACHING. (XVIII 12) BUT WHILE GALLIO WAS PROCONSUL OF ACHAIA, THE
JEWS WITH ONE ACCORD ROSE UP AGAINST PAUL, AND BROUGHT HIM BEFORE
THE TRIBUNAL, SAYING, (13) "THIS MAN PERSUADETH PEOPLE TO WORSHIP GOD
CONTRARY TO THE LAW"(14) BUT WHEN PAUL WAS ABOUT. TO OPEN HIS MOUTH,
GALLIO SAID UNTO THE JEWS, "IF A MISDEMEANOUR OR A CRIME WERE IN
QUESTION, YE JEWS, REASON WOULD THAT I SHOULD BEAR WITH YOU; (15) BUT
IF THEY ARE QUESTIONS OF WORD, not deed, AND OF NAMES, not things, AND OF
YOUR LAW, not Roman law, YE YOUR- SELVES WILL LOOK TO IT: TO BE A JUDGE OF
THESE MATTERS for my part HAVE NO MIND". (16) AND HE DROVE THEM FROM THE
TRIBUNAL. (17) AND ALL THE GREEKS SEIZED SOSTHENES, THE
ARCHISYNAGOGOS, AND PROCEEDED TO BEAT HIM BEFORE THE TRIBUNAL; AND
GALLIO TOOK NO NOTICE OF THIS CONDUCT.
Achaia was governed by a proconsul from B.C. 27 to A.D. 15, and from A.D. 44
onwards. It was a province of the second rank, and was administered by Roman officials, after
holding the prtorship, and generally before the consulship. Corinth had now become the chief
city of Achaia, and the residence of its governors (as Marquardt infers from this passage).
Here we have another point of contact with Roman history. Gallio was a brother of the
famous Seneca, and shared his fortunes. Seneca was in disgrace from 41 to 49; but in 49 he was
recalled from banishment and appointed prtor for A.D. 50. Pliny mentions that Gallio attained
the consulship, which was probably after his proconsulship in Achaia. In his career of office
Gallio must have been prtor not less than five years before he went to Achaia; but no evidence
survives to show in what year he held the prtorship (except that it cannot have been between 41
and 49):as the elder brother, he probably held it before Seneca. There is no other evidence that
Gallio governed Achaia; but the statement of Luke is corroborated by the fact, which Seneca
mentions, that Gallio caught fever in Achaia, and took a voyage for change of air.
Either the Jews at Corinth did not manage their accusation so well as those of
Thessalonica, or Gallio elicited the true character of their complaints against Paul as being really
matters of mere Jewish concern. It is clear that Gallio’s short speech represents the conclusion of
a series of inquiries, for the accusation, as it is quoted, does not refer to words or names, but only
to the Law. But it is reasonable to suppose that the Jews put their accusation at first in a serious
light, with a view to some serious penalty being inflicted; and Gallio, on probing their
allegations, reduced the matter to its true dimensions as a question that concerned only the selfadministering community of "the Nation of the Jews in Corinth". It would have been interesting
to know more about this case, for it seems to show that Gallio shared the broad and generous
views of his brother about the policy of Rome in regard to the various religions of the provinces.
The Greeks, who always hated the Jews, took advantage of the marked snub which the governor
had inflicted on them, to seize and beat Sosthenes, who had been appointed to replace Crispus as
Archisynagogos, and who doubtless was taking a prominent part in the proceedings. Gallio took
no notice of this piece of "Lynch law,"which probably seemed to him to be a rough sort of
justice.
The fact that Sosthenes (whether the same or another) joined with Paul in writing to the
Corinthians, I 1, caused an early misapprehension of the scene. It was understood that Gallio,
after deciding against the Jews, allowed them to console themselves by beating a Christian; and
the word "Greeks"is omitted in the great MSS. under the influence of this mistake. But such
action is inconceivable in the Roman governor; and the text of the inferior MSS. which
substitutes a lifelike and characteristic scene for one that is utterly foolish, must undoubtedly be
preferred. Probably two persons at Corinth named Sosthenes were brought into relations with
Paul, one a Jew, the other a prominent Christian; or perhaps the Jew was converted at a later date.
This action of the Imperial government in protecting him from the Jews, and (if we are
right) declaring freedom in religious matters, seems to have been the crowning fact in
determining Paul’s line of conduct. According to our view, the residence at Corinth was an epoch
in Paul’s life. As regards his doctrine he became more clearly conscious of its character, as well
as more precise and definite in his presentation of it; and as regards practical work he became
more clear as to his aim and the means of .attaining the aim, namely, that Christianity should be
spread through the civilised, i.e., the Roman, world (not as excluding, but as preparatory to, the
entire world, Col. III 11), using the freedom of speech which the Imperial policy as declared by
Gallio seemed inclined to permit. The action of Gallio, as we understand it, seems to pave the
way for Paul’s appeal a few years later from the petty outlying court of the procurator of Judea,
who was always much under the influence of the ruling party in Jerusalem, to the supreme
tribunal of the Empire (p. 306 f.).
The letters to the Thessalonians belong to the earlier part of his stay in Corinth, before he
had definitely reached the new stage of thought and aim. To the new stage, when he had attained
full consciousness and full dominion over his own plans, belong the four great letters, Gal, I and
II Cor., Rom.
Note 1. oJ [Areios Pavgos was often used, in a conversational way, in place of the
cumbrous technical form, hJ ejx jAreivou Pavgou boulhv. The decisive passages are pointed out
to me by two friends and old pupils, Mr. A. Souter and Rev. A.F. Findlay. Cicero says to Atticus,
I 14, 5, Senatus [Areio" Pavgo". "our Senate is a veritable Areopagus". Cicero picked up the
conversational usage during his six months residence in Athens; and hence he uses Areopagus to
denote the Court, Nat. D. II 29, 74, Rep. I 27, 43. Again in an inscription of A.D. 50-100
(Cavvadias, Fouilles d’Epidaure I p. 68, No. 206) we find [Areio" Pavgo" ejn jEleusi’ni lovgous
ejpoihvsato. (Pape quotes other cases, which are not so clear, and are denied by some
authorities.) Here, as everywhere, we find Luke using the language of educated conversation.
Note 2. Gallio. One of the many difficulties in which Dr. Clemen’s theory involves him is
that he has to deny the identity of Luke’s Gallio with Seneca’s brother. Gallio’s voyage from
Achaia, undertaken on account of a local fever (Seneca, Ep. Mor.. 104, 1), was not the same as
his voyage from Rome to Egypt after his consulship on account of phthisis (Pliny, XXXI 33),
though probably the first also was to Egypt.
Chapter XII. THE CHURCH IN ASIA
1. THE SYRIAN VOYAGE AND THE RETURN TO EPHESUS. (XVIII 18) AND
PAUL TOOK HIS LEAVE OF THE BRETHREN, AND SAILED * THENCE FOR SYRIA,
AND WITH HIM PRISCILLA AND AQUILA; AND HE SHORE HIS HEAD IN CENCHRE˘,
FOR HE HAD A VOW. (19) AND THEY REACHED EPHESUS, AND HE LEFT THE
OTHERS THERE. AND FOR HIMSELF, HE WENT INTO THE SYNAGOGUE, AND
DELIVERED A DISCOURSE UNTO THE JEWS. (20) AND WHEN THEY ASKED HIM TO
ABIDE A LONGER TIME, HE CONSENTED NOT; (21) BUT HE TOOK HIS LEAVE OF
THEM, AND SAID, ["I MUST BY ALL MEANS PASS THE COMING FEAST IN
JERUSALEM]; IF GOD PLEASE, I WILL RETURN UNTO YOU;"AND HE SET SAIL FROM
EPHESUS. (22) AND, REACHING C˘SAREIA, HE WENT UP to Jerusalem, SALUTED THE
CHURCH, AND then WENT DOWN TO ANTIOCH. (23) AND, HAVING SPENT SOME
TIME there, HE WENT FORTH, AND MADE A PROGRESS IN ORDER from first to last
THROUGH THE GALATIC REGION AND THE PHRYGIAN Region, CONFIRMING ALL
THE DISCIPLES. . . . (XIX 1) AND IT CAME TO PASS THAT PAUL, MAKING A
MISSIONARY PROGRESS THROUGH THE HIGHER-LYING QUARTERS of Asia, CAME
TO the capital of the province EPHESUS (Expositor, July, 1895, p. 39).
Just as in XX 6 the company sailed away from Philippi (Neapolis, where they really
embarked, being omitted, p. 70), so here Paul sailed from Corinth, the harbour being left out of
sight. Then the harbour is brought in as an afterthought: before actually embarking at Cenchre,
the eastern port of Corinth, Paul cut his hair, marking the fulfilment of a vow which apparently
was connected with safe embarkation from Corinth. Though the grammatical construction of v.
18 would suggest that Aquila made the vow, and one old Latin Version makes this sense explicit,
yet the natural emphasis marks Paul as the subject here.
Aquila and Priscilla remained in Ephesus until the end of 55 (I Cor. XVI 19);but in 56
they returned to Rome, where they were in the early part of A.D. 57 (Rom. XVI 3). We may
fairly suppose that Timothy came with Paul to Ephesus, and went up on a mission from thence to
his native city and the other Churches of Galatia. This is an important passage for dating the
journey. If we accept the longer reading of v. 21 (which appears in the Bezan Text, and
elsewhere), it is certain that Paul was hurrying to Jerusalem for the coming feast, which may be
confidently understood as the Passover. But even with the shorter reading of the great MSS., it
would be highly probable that the reason why he postponed accepting the invitation to work in
Ephesus and hurried on to Csareia, could lie only in his desire to be present at Jerusalem on
some great occasion; and the Passover is the feast which would attract him. Paul seems to have
made a practice of beginning his journeys in the spring.
According to our view the whole journey took place thus. Paul was always eager to.
profit by any "open door,"and an invitation from his own people to preach to them in Ephesus
must have been specially tempting to him. Nothing but some pressing duty, which seemed to him
to imperatively require his presence in Jerusalem at the feast, was likely to hurry him away from
them. Further, the feast must have been close at hand, otherwise he could have waited some
weeks before going on. Now, in A.D. 53, Passover fell on March 22; and navigation began as a
rule only on March 5. But Paul took an early ship for Csareia, probably a pilgrim ship, carrying
from Corinth and Ephesus many Jews for the coming Passover, and directing its course
accordingly. In these circumstances he could not lose a day on the road, and could merely
promise to return, "if God will ".
On reaching Csareia, he went up and saluted the Church. Dr. Blass considers that he
went up from the harbour to the city of Csareia and saluted the Church there, and then "went
down"to Antioch. That interpretation is impossible for several reasons. (1) It is impossible to use
the term "went down"of a journey from the coast-town Csareia to the inland city Antioch. On
the contrary, one regularly "goes down"to a coast-town (XIII 4, XIV 25, XVI 8, etc.). (2) The
terms "going up"and "going down"are used so frequently of the journey to and from Jerusalem as
to establish this usage. Usually the phrase is given in full, "they went up to Jerusalem"; but Dr.
Blass accepts as Lukan a reading in XV 6, in which "to go up to the Elders"is used in the sense of
"to go up to Jerusalem to the Elders". If he admits that sense in XV 6, why not also in XVIII 22?
Conversely, the phrase "to go down"is used XXIV 22, where the reader has to understand "from
Jerusalem to Csareia". Now, the aim of Paul’s journey to Jerusalem, having been put in the
reader’s mind by the words of v. 21, is readily and naturally supplied in v. 22.
The shipload of pilgrims to Jerusalem, with Paul among them, landed at Csareia, and
went up to Jerusalem to the Passover in regular course. Paul exchanged greetings with the
Church (this phrase implies that he made only a brief stay), and went down to Antioch. There he
received serious news about the Galatian Churches (p. 190); and with all convenient speed he
went by the land route through Cilicia, to Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, and Pisidian Antioch. With the
shortest stay that can be supposed, when he was seeing old and loved friends after years of
absence, Paul can hardly have reached Derbe before July 53. We cannot allow less than two
months for confirming the wavering Churches of Galatia, especially as on this visit (I Cor. XVI
1) he probably planned the collection for the poor in Jerusalem, which was made universal
throughout his new Churches during the following three years. Thus he would have completed
his work in Galatia by the beginning of September. Then he went on to Ephesus, taking the
higher-lying and more direct route, not the regular trade route on the lower level down the Lycus
and Mander valleys. As he made a missionary progress through the upper lands, he can hardly
have reached Ephesus before the end of September, .A..D. 53, and October is a more probable
time. Such a journey must have occupied much time, even if we cut it down to the shortest
possible limits. The distances are very great, and progression was very slow; and even on a rapid
journey many interruptions must be allowed for (as any one who travels in these countries knows
only too well).
In interpreting v. 22, we had to understand that the thought of Jerusalem as Paul’s aim had
been suggested to the reader’s mind by v. 21. That is the case when the longer form of v. 21 is
accepted; but with the shorter text it becomes too harsh and difficult to supply the unexpressed
thought in v. 22. We conclude that the longer form is the original text, and the shorter form is a
corruption. But how did the corruption originate? A curious error appears in Asterius (c. 400,
A.D.), and in Euthalius (probably c. 468), and therefore was probably part of the early tradition,
according to which Pisidian Antioch, not Syrian Antioch, was alluded to in v. 22. By that
misconception the whole journey is obscured, and especially a visit to Jerusalem in v. 22
becomes impossible. Two ways of curing the difficulty were tried. The Bezan Text retained the
allusion to Jerusalem and the feast in v. 22, and explained the supposed failure to pay the visit by
interpolating in XIX 1 the statement, "now when Paul wished according to his own plan to go to
Jerusalem, the Spirit bade him turn away into Asia". On the other hand, in the text of the great
MSS., the reference to the intended visit to Jerusalem is cut out of v. 21. Each of these seems a
deliberate and conscious effort made by some editor to eliminate a difficulty from the passage as
it stood originally
2. APOLLOS, PRISCILLA AND AQUILA. During the time that Paul was absent from
Ephesus, there came thither an Alexandrian Jew named Apollos, a good speaker, and well read in
the Scriptures. He had learned in Alexandria the doctrine of John the Baptist and his prophecy of
the immediate coming of Christ; and this he preached in Ephesus with great fervour and detailed
proof from Scripture. Priscilla and Aquila, having heard his preaching, instructed him with
regard to the fulfilment of John’s prophecy. Afterwards he conceived the intention of crossing
over to Achaia; and the Brethren gave him letters of recommendation to the disciples in Corinth.
When he settled there he became an effective preacher, and a powerful opponent of the Jews,
showing how in Jesus the prophecies with regard to the Anointed One were fulfilled.
This episode is obviously introduced, not so much for its own intrinsic importance, as for
the sake of rendering the opening of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians clear and intelligible. A
contrast is drawn there between the more elaborate and eloquent style of Apollos and the simple
Gospel of Paul; and it is implied that some of the Corinthian Brethren preferred the style and
Gospel of Apollos. The particulars stated here about Apollos have clearly been selected to throw
light on the circumstances alluded to, but not explained in the letter.
In the Bezan Text the account of Apollos appears in a different form, which has all the
marks of truth, and yet is clearly not original, but a text remodelled according to a good tradition.
The name is given in the fuller form Apollonius; but Paul uses the diminutive Apollos; and Luke,
to make his explanation clearer would naturally use the same form. Moreover, Luke regularly
uses the language of conversation, in which the diminutive forms were usual; and so he speaks of
Priscilla, Sopatros and Silas always, though Paul speaks of Prisca, Sosipatros and Silvanus. On
that principle we must prefer the form Apollos.
Again, the text of almost all MSS. mentions Priscilla first; but the Bezan Text alters the
order, putting Aquila first. Elsewhere also the Bezan Reviser shows his dislike to the prominence
assigned to women in Acts . In XVII 12 he changes "not a few of the honourable Greek women
and of men"into "of the Greeks and the honourable many men and women". In XVII 34 he cuts
out Damaris altogether. In XVII 4 he changes the "leading women"into "wives of the leading
men"These changes show a definite and uniform purpose, and therefore spring from a deliberate
Revision of the original Received Text.
The unusual order, the wife before the husband (so XVIII 18), must be accepted as
original; for there is always a tendency among scribes to change the unusual into the usual. Paul
twice (II Tim. IV 19, Rom. XVI 3) mentions Prisca before Aquila; that order was, therefore, a
conversational custom, familiar in the company among whom they moved; though it must have
seemed odd to strangers in later generations.
Probably Prisca was of higher rank than her husband, for her name is that of a good old
Roman family. Now, in XVIII 2 the very harsh and strange arrangement of the sentence must
strike every reader. But clearly the intention is to force on the reader’s mind the fact that Aquila
was a Jew, while Priscilla was not; and it is characteristic of Luke to suggest by subtle
arrangement of words a distinction which would need space to explain formally (pp. 85, 204).
Aquila was probably a freedman. The name does indeed occur as cognomen in some Roman
families; but it was also a slave name, for a freedman of Mcenas was called (C. Cilnius) Aquila.
There is probably much to discover with regard to this interesting pair, but in this place we
cannot dwell on the subject.
The order in which the different threads of the narrative here succeed one another exactly
recalls the method of XI 27-XII 25. There vv. 27-30 narrate the events in Antioch, and bring
Barnabas and Saul to the gates of Jerusalem; next, the events in Jerusalem are brought up to date;
and then the action of the envoys in Jerusalem is described. So here Paul’s journey is narrated,
and he is brought to the frontier of Asia; next, the events in Ephesus are brought up to date; and
then Paul’s entrance into Asia and his action at Ephesus are described.
3. EPHESUS. (XIX 1) AND IT CAME TO PASS, THAT, WHILE APOLLOS WAS AT
CORINTH, PAUL, HAVING PASSED THROUGH THE UPPER DISTRICTS, CAME TO
EPHESUS. (8) AND HE ENTERED INTO THE SYNAGOGUE, AND SPAKE BOLDLY FOR
THE SPACE OF THREE MONTHS, REASONING AND PERSUADING AS TO WHAT
CONCERNS THE KINGDOM OF GOD. (9) BUT WHEN SOME WERE HARDENED AND
DISOBEDIENT, SPEAKING EVIL OF THE WAY BEFORE THE MULTITUDE, HE
DEPARTED FROM THEM AND SEPARATED THE DISCIPLES, REASONING DAILY IN
THE SCHOOL OF TYRANNUS [FROM THE FIFTH TO THE TENTH HOUR]. (10) AND
THIS CONTINUED FOR THE SPACE OF TWO YEARS.
The distinction between the period of preaching in the synagogue and the direct address
to the Ephesian population is very clearly marked, and the times given in each case. In vv. 2-7 a
strange episode is related before Paul entered the synagogue. He found twelve men who had
been baptised by the baptism of John, and induced them to accept re-baptism. This episode I
must confess not to understand. It interrupts the regular method of Luke’s narrative; for in all
similar cases, Paul goes to the synagogue, and his regular efforts for his own people are related
before any exceptional cases are recorded. The circumstances, too, are difficult. How had these
twelve escaped the notice of Aquila, Priscilla, and Apollos, and yet attracted Paul’s attention
before he went to the synagogue? Perhaps the intention is to represent Paul as completing and
perfecting the work begun by Apollos; re-baptism was, apparently, not thought necessary for
Apollos, and now Paul lays down the principle that it is required in all such cases. But that seems
distinctly below the level on which Luke’s conception of Paul is pitched. If there were any
authority in MS. or ancient Versions to omit the episode, one would be inclined to take that
course. As there is none, I must acknowledge that I cannot reconcile it with the conception of
Luke’s method, founded. on other parts of the narrative, which is maintained in this book.
Possibly better knowledge about the early history of the Ephesian Church might give this episode
more significance and importance in the development history than it seems to possess.
We should be glad to know more about the lecture room of Tyrannus. It played the same
part in Ephesus that the house of Titius Justus adjoining the synagogue did in Corinth. Here Paul
regularly taught every day; and the analogy which we have noticed in other cases (pp. 75, 243)
between his position, as it would appear to the general population, and that of the rhetors and
philosophers of the time, is very marked. There is one difference, according to the Bezan Text of
v. 9: Paul taught after the usual work of the lecture-room was concluded, i.e., "after business
hours ". Doubtless he himself began to work (XX 34, I Cor. IV 12) before sunrise and continued
at his trade till closing time, an hour before noon. His hours of work are defined by himself, I
Thess. II 9, "ye remember our labour and toil, working day and night "; there, as often in ancient
literature, the hours before daybreak are called "night,"and his rule at Thessalonica may be
extended to Ephesus. Public life in the Ionian cities ended regularly at the fifth hour; and we may
add to the facts elsewhere stated a regulation at Attaleia in Lydia that public distribution of oil
should be "from the first to the fifth hour"*. Thus Paul himself would be free, and
the lectureroom would be disengaged, after the fifth hour; and the time, which was devoted generally to
home-life and rest, was applied by him to mission-work.
In the following narrative the powers of Paul are brought into competition with those of
Jewish exorcists and pagan dabblers in the black art, and his superiority to them demonstrated.
Ephesus was a centre of all such magical arts and practices, and it was therefore inevitable that
the new teaching should be brought in contact with them and triumph over them. There can be no
doubt that, in the conception of Luke, the measure of success lay in the extent to which Divine
power and inspiration was communicated to a new Church; and perhaps the whole description
may be defended as the extremist example of that view. But it seems undeniable that, when we
contrast this passage with the great scene at Paphos, or the beautiful though less powerful scene
with the ventriloquist at Philippi, there is in the Ephesian description something like vulgarity of
tone, together with a certain vagueness and want of individuality, very different from those other
scenes. Such details, too, as are given, are not always consistent and satisfactory. The seven sons
in v. 14 change in an unintelligible way to two in v. 16 (except in the Bezan Text); and the
statement that the seven were sons of a chief priest, looks more like a popular tale than a
trustworthy historical statement. There is no warrant in the text for the view sometimes
advocated, that Sceva was merely an impostor who pretended to be a chief priest. The money
value of the books that were destroyed is another touch that is thoroughly characteristic of the
oriental popular tale. The inability of the vulgar oriental mind to conceive any other aim, object,
or standard in the world except money, and its utter slavery to gold, are familiar to every one
who has seen the life of the people, or studied the Arabian Nights: in the West one sees nothing
like the simple, childish frankness with which the ordinary oriental measures all things by gold,
and can conceive of no other conscious aim except gold. So far as the oriental peasant is natural
and unconscious, he is interesting and delightful, and his complete difference of nature at once
attracts and holds at a distance the man of Western thoughts; but so far as he consciously
attempts to conceive motives and form plans, gold is his sole standard of value.
In this Ephesian description one feels the character, not of weighed and reasoned history,
but of popular fancy; and I cannot explain it on the level of most of the narrative The writer is
here rather a picker-up of current gossip, like Herodotus, than a real historian. The puzzle
becomes still more difficult when we go on to v. 23, and find ourselves again on the same level
as the finest parts of Acts . If there were many such contrasts in the book as between vv. 11-20
and 23-41, I should be a believer in the composite character of Acts . As it is, I confess the
difficulty in this part; but the existence of some unsolved difficulties is not a bar to the view
maintained in the present treatise (p. 16).
4. THE CHURCH IN THE PROVINCE OF ASIA. (XIX 10) THIS CONTINUED FOR
THE SPACE OF TWO YEARS, SO THAT ALL THEY THAT DWELT IN ASIA HEARD THE
WORD.... (21) NOW AFTER THESE THINGS WERE ENDED, PAUL PURPOSED IN THE
SPIRIT, WHEN HE HAD MADE A PROGRESS THROUGH MACEDONIA AND ACHAIA,
TO GO TO JERUSALEM, SAYING, "AFTER I HAVE BEEN THERE, I MUST ALSO SEE
ROME". (22) AND, HAVING SENT INTO MACEDONIA TWO OF THEM THAT ASSISTED
HIM, TIMOTHY AND ERASTUS, HE HIMSELF STAYED IN ASIA FOR A WHILE.
The work in Asia, which had been Paul’s aim in A.D. (p. 198), was now carried out. The
long residence suits the greatness of the work, for Asia was the richest. one of the largest, and in
many ways the leading province of the East.
Ephesus, as the seat of government, was the centre from which the whole province of
Asia could best be affected (p. 104); and the effect of Paul’s long work there extended far over
that vast province, but chiefly, of course, along the great lines of communication. For example,
Churches arose in three cities of the Lycos Valley, Laodiceia, Colossai, and Hierapolis, though
Paul himself did not go there. All the seven Churches mentioned in the Revelation were probably
rounded during this period, for all were within easy reach of Ephesus, and all were great centres
of trade. It is probable that they, being the first foundations in the province, retained a sort of
representative character; and thus they were addressed in the Revelation (perhaps as heads over
districts), when there were certainly other Churches in the province.
In the ordinary communication between the capital and the other cities of the province,
the influence from Ephesus would be carried to these cities; but that was not the only way in
which these other Churches grew. Paul had with him a number of subordinate helpers, such as
Timothy, Erastus, Titus, etc. The analogy of many other cases in the early history of the Church
would leave no room to doubt that helpers were often employed in missions to the new
Churches; and, as Timothy joined with Paul in the letter to the Colossians, it may be inferred that
he had been working in that city.
The clear conception of a far-reaching plan revealed in v. 21 is confirmed by Rom. XV
24 (see p. 255).
It has been argued by some (and notably by Lightfoot) that Paul made a short visit to
Corinth, during his Ephesian mission. But this conjectural visit (II Cor. XII 14, XIII 1) is more
likely to have been made from Philippi, (p. 283), for clearly (Acts XIX 9, 10) Paul resided in
Ephesus throughout the period Oct. 53 to Jan. 56. In the latter part of autumn 55 he sent to
Corinth the First Epistle; and at that time his intention was to remain in Ephesus till Pentecost 56
(XVI 8), and then to go through Macedonia to Corinth. But this was an alteration of a previous
plan to sail direct from Ephesus to Corinth, thence going to Macedonia, and returning to Corinth,
from whence he should sail for Jerusalem (II Cor. I 16). That intention was abandoned, and a
letter, I Cor., was sent instead: the full knowledge of the state of things in Corinth, which is
revealed in that letter, was gained by the report of some envoys (XVI 17, compare p. 284). The
abandonment of the plan was doubtless due to the conviction that the success of the work in Asia
demanded a longer residence. He, therefore, cut out of his programme the first of these two
proposed visits to Corinth, and restricted himself to one, which he should pay after a progress
through Macedonia (I Cor. XVI 5). He sent Timothy and Erastus to Macedonia, instructing the
former to go on to Corinth, and he told the Corinthians, IV 17, that Timothy was coming, "who
shall put you in remembrance of my ways which be in Christ". Finally, when his Asian work was
cut short, he went from Philippi to Corinth, April 56 (see Preface).
The analogy of this case strengthens our interpretation of the Galatian letter (p. 190). In
each case Paul had to encounter a serious and dangerous situation in a distant Church. In the case
of Corinth, he could not go, but sent a substitute and a letter explaining that the substitute was on
the way, and the bearer would give the reason why Paul could not go then; but he adds in the
letter a promise to go later, though "some of them fancied that he was not coming". In the case of
Galatia he was able to go immediately, and sent off a hasty letter in front, the bearer of which
would announce that he was following. But on the usual theory, Paul, in that serious emergency
In Galatia, neither thought of going there, nor of explaining that he could not go.
No allusion to Timothy occurs between XVIII 5 (where he rejoined Paul at Corinth) and
XIX 22. According to the analogy of Luke’s method (p. 46 f.), this shows that he was understood
by the author to have been attached to Paul’s service during the intervening period, ready for any
mission, such as that to Galatia, or this to Macedonia. According to I Cor. IV 17, Timothy was to
go on to Corinth: Luke speaks only of Macedonia. Both are correct; it becomes clear from II Cor.
that Timothy did not go on to Corinth, and that Paul found him in Macedonia: probably he met
Titus on his way back to report to Paul the result of the first letter, and waited instructions before
going on. See p. 285.
The plan of staying in Ephesus till Pentecost was interrupted by a popular riot. Already in
the autumn of 55 Paul spoke of the difficulties in Ephesus caused by the opposition of the vulgar
populace (p. 230, I Cor. XV 32); and the character of the city shows how inevitable that was. The
superstition of all Asia was concentrated in Ephesus. Throughout the early centuries the city
mob, superstitious, uneducated, frivolous, swayed by the most commonplace motives, was
everywhere the most dangerous and unfailing enemy of Christianity, and often carried the
imperial officials further than they wished in the way of persecution. Moreover, round the great
Ephesian temple, to which worshippers came from far, many tradesmen got their living from the
pilgrims, supplying them with victims and dedicatory offerings of various kinds, as well as food
and shelter. During the year 55, the tension in Ephesus grew more severe: the one hand, the
teaching spread so fast that Paul was tempted to remain longer than he had intended (p. 275): on
the other hand, his success only enraged and alarmed the opposing forces. "A great door and
effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries"(I Cor. XVI 9): "after the manner of
men I fought with beasts in Ephesus"(ib. XV 32, p. 230).
The most sensitive part of "civilised"man is his pocket; and it was there that opposition to
Christian changes, or "reforms,"began. Those "reforms"threatened to extinguish some ancient
and respectable trades, and promised no compensation; and thus all the large class that lived off
the pilgrims and the temple service was marshalled against the new party, which threatened the
livelihood of all.
5. DEMETRIUS THE SILVERSMITH. The scene which follows is the most instructive
picture of society in an Asian city at this period that has come down to us. It is impossible here to
treat it so fully as it deserves; and we can only enumerate the more striking points, and refer to
previous discussions. A certain Demetrius was a leading man in the associated trades, which
made in various materials, terra-cotta, marble and silver, small shrines (naoi) for votaries to
dedicate in the temple, representing the Goddess Artemis sitting in a niche or naiskos, with her
lions beside her. Vast numbers of these shrines were offered to the goddess by her innumerable
votaries. The rich bought and offered them in more expensive materials and more artistic form,
the poor in simple rude terra-cotta. The temple and the sacred precinct were crowded with
dedications; and the priests often cleared away the old and especially the worthless offerings to
make room for new gifts. The richer tradesmen made shrines in the more expensive material, and
silver was evidently a favourite material among the wealthy. Demetrius, then, must have had a
good deal of capital sunk in his business. He called a meeting of the trades, doubtless in a guild
house where they regularly met, and pointed out that Paul, by teaching the worthlessness of
images, was seriously affecting public opinion and practice over almost the whole province
Asia,* and endangering their business as well as the worship of the goddess. The tradesmen were
roused; they rushed forth into. the street;* a general scene of confusion arose, and a common
impulse carried the excited crowd into the great theatre. The majority of the crowd were ignorant
what was the matter; they only knew from the shouts of the first rioters that the worship of
Artemis was concerned; and for about two hours the vast assembly, like a crowd of devotees or
howling dervishes, shouted their invocation of "Great Artemis". In this scene we cannot mistake
the tone of sarcasm and contempt, as Luke tells of this howling mob; they themselves thought
they were performing their devotions, as they repeated the sacred name; but to Luke they were
merely howling, not praying.
A certain Alexander was put forward by the Jews to address the mob; but this merely
increased the clamour and confusion. There was no clear idea among the rioters what they
wanted: an anti-Jewish and an anti-Christian demonstration were mixed up, and probably
Alexander’s intention was to turn the general feeling away from the Jews. It is possible that he
was the worker in bronze, who afterwards did Paul much harm (II Tim. IV 14).
Our conception of the scene assumes that the Bezan reading in 28, 34 (megavlh [Artemi")
is original. The accepted text, "Great is Artemis,"gives a different tone to the scene: that is the
quiet expression in which a worshipper recognises and accepts a sign of the goddess’s power,
drawing an inference and expressing his respect and gratitude. "Great Artemis"was a common
formula of devotion and prayer, as is attested by several inscriptions; and it gives a more natural
and a far more effective tone to the scene.
Two of Paul’s companions in travel, Gaius and Aristarchus, had been carried into the
theatre with the crowd; and he himself was on the point of going there, but the disciples would
not allow him, and his friends among the Asiarchs sent urging him not to risk himself among the
mob. It is noteworthy that Luke, as usual, adds no comments or reflections of his own as to the
danger in which Paul was placed. But the slightest consideration suffices to show that he must
have been at this period in the most imminent danger, with the mob of a great Ionian coast-city
raging against him. In the speech of Demetrius are concentrated most of the feelings and motives
that, from the beginning to the end, made the mob so hostile to the Christians in the great oriental
cities. Paul himself says, "concerning our affliction which befell in Asia, that we were weighed
down exceedingly, beyond our power, insomuch that we despaired even of life"(II Cor. I 8). His
immediate withdrawal from Ephesus, in the midst of his promising work, was forced on him.
It is a question whether the reading of some few MSS., "Gaius and Aristarchus a
Macedonian,"should not be followed. Gaius, in that case, would be the native of Derbe
mentioned in XX 4. Luke, himself a Macedonian, does not omit the little touch of national pride
in Aristarchus; but he was not so interested in the nationality of Gaius. The peculiar phraseology,
with the ethnic in singular (Makedovna) following two names, and preceding sunekdhvmou", led
naturally to the change (Makedovna"), which appears in most MSS. The epithet, "travelling
companions,"seems to point forward to XX 4, as we have no reason to think that either Gaius or
Aristarchus had hitherto been companions of Paul on a journey. Prof. Blass, recognising the
probability that Gaius is the travelling companion of XX 4, accepts Valckenaer’s alteration of the
text in that place, making Gaius a Thessalonian, and Timothy a man of Derbe; and that alteration
would be very tempting, were it not for the insurmountable statement, XVI 1, that Timothy was a
Lystran.
The reference to the Asiarchs is very important, both in respect of the nature of that office
(on which it throws great light, though that opens up a wide and disputed field), and as a fact of
Pauline history. The Asiarchs, or High Priests of Asia, were the heads of the imperial, politicalreligious organisation of the province in the worship of "Rome and the Emperors"(p. 134); and
their friendly attitude is a proof both that the spirit of the imperial policy was not as yet hostile to
the new teaching, and that the educated classes did not share the hostility of the superstitious
vulgar to Paul. Doubtless, some of the Asiarchs had, in the ordinary course of dignity, previously
held priesthoods of Artemis or other city deities; and it is quite probable that up to the present
time even the Ephesian priests were not at all hostile to Paul. The eclectic religion, which was
fashionable at the time, regarded new forms of cult with equanimity, almost with friendliness;
and the growth of each new superstition only added to the influence of Artemis and her priests.
My friend, Mr. J. N. Farquhar, Principal of the L.M.S. College, Calcutta, writes that he is struck
with similar facts in the situation of mission work in India, and its relation to the priests and
people.
Luke, having stated the accusation against Paul, does not fail to show up its utter
groundlessness in the eyes of responsible officials. The speech of the Town-clerk, which is given
at length, is a very skillful and important document, in its bearing on the whole situation, and on
Luke’s plan (p. 304 f.). The Clerk was probably the most important official in Ephesus, and
therefore in close contact with the court of the proconsul, who generally resided in that city; and
his speech is a direct negation of the charges commonly brought against Christianity, as
flagrantly disrespectful in action and in language to the established institutions of the State. He
points out that the only permissible method of procedure for those who have complaints against a
Christian is action before the courts of the province, or the assembly of the municipality; and he
warns the rioters that they are bringing themselves into danger by their disorderly action.
This address is so entirely an apologia of the Christians that we might almost take it as an
example of the Thucydidean type of speech, put into the mouth of one of the actors, not as being
precisely his words, but as embodying a statesmanlike conception of the real situation. At any
rate, it is included by Luke in his work, not for its mere Ephesian connection, but as bearing on
the universal question of the relations in which the Church stood to the Empire (p. 306). The
well-known rescripts of Hadrian to Fundanus, and of Antoninus Pius to the Greek cities, take
their stand on the same permanent and obvious ground, which at all times formed the one
statesmanlike principle of action, and the basis for the Church’s claim to freedom and toleration.
Chapter XIII. THE VOYAGE TO JERUSALEM
1. THE SECOND EUROPEAN JOURNEY. (XX 1) AND AFTER THE RIOT CEASED,
PAUL, HAVING SENT FOR THE DISCIPLES AND EXHORTED THEM, BADE THEM
FAREWELL, AND DEPARTED TO MAKE HIS WAY INTO MACEDONIA. (2) AND
HAVING MADE A PROGRESS THROUGH THOSE QUARTERS, AND EXHORTED THEM
WITH MUCH PREACHING, HE WENT INTO GREECE. (3) AND HE SPENT THREE
MONTHS there.
Paul took a coasting vessel from Ephesus, we may be sure; and, as was often the case, he
had to transship in Troas. Here "a door was opened to him"(II Cor. II 12). Doubtless he had to
wait some time for a passage to Macedonia; for, though in January a passage could be easily
obtained along the safe Asian coast, it was more difficult to find opportunity for the longer
voyage over the open sea to Macedonia; perhaps none was found till general navigation began,
March 5. It is probable that already in the voyages between Ephesus and Macedonia, the new
teaching had effected a lodging in Troas (XIX 10);and in the delay there, Paul had a good
opening. In Troas Paul had expected to meet Titus; and was much disappointed that he was not
there. At the same time he was greatly dispirited by the strong opposition which had driven him
prematurely from Ephesus (II Cor. I 8 f.); and was in a depressed frame of mind owing to illhealth (ib. IV 7 f.).
Titus is the most enigmatic figure in early Christian history. His omission from Acts has
been alluded to (P. 59). He enters on the stage of history for a short time in A.D. 45-6, and then
we hear nothing of him, until we learn that Paul expected to find him in Troas in January or
February 56. He was now on his way from Corinth to Macedonia; and he joined Paul after he had
arrived at Philippi in February or March, bringing a detailed report of the state of the Corinthian
Church. Now in II Cor. Titus is prominent to a degree unique in Paul’s letters; he is named nine
times, and always with marked affection and distinction. Why, then, is he never mentioned in I
Cor.? . There is one satisfactory reason, and only one, so far as I can judge: he was the bearer of
the first letter.* His special interest in Corinth is mentioned, VII 15, VIII 16. He was eager to
return on a second mission to Corinth, VIII 17, and along with him Paul sent the Brother whose
praise in the delivery of the good tidings was spread over all the Churches (Luke, according to an
early tradition), and another, who was selected on account of the confidence that he felt in the
Corinthians. It may be safely assumed that the Titus of II l Cor. is the same Titus that is
mentioned in Gal II 1.
Titus, then, had been sent on his first mission to Corinth in autumn 55, probably by direct
ship. He could not come back across the open sea during the winter (Nov. 10 to March 5), and
must take a coasting voyage by Macedonia. Paul expected to find him in Troas; but he was
detained too long, and met Paul in Philippi in February or early March 56; and he returned thence
on a second mission to Corinth.
As Titus was at hand in Ephesus about October 55, it is hardly open to doubt that he had
been in Paul’s company on the whole of the third journey. It is equally clear that he had not been
with Paul on the first or the second journey, for he is mentioned in Gal. II 1as a stranger to the
Galatians, whose Greek birth had to be explained to them. Probably it was his Greek origin that
had prevented Paul from taking him as a companion on earlier journeys. We have seen how
careful Paul was to conciliate the Jews on his second journey; and we may fairly consider that
the grumbling of the Jews in Jerusalem in 46 (even when Titus was bringing food to them) had
warned Paul that it was not expedient to have Titus with him when he entered the synagogues of
strange cities. For his companions on the second journey he selected Silas, a Jewish Roman, and
Timothy, half-Greek, half-Jew. Finally, on his third journey, when he was putting down the
Judaising tendency in Galatia, he took Titus with him by a carefully-planned stroke of policy:
one of the arguments by which the Judaisers proved that Judaic Christianity was the higher stage
was that Paul had circumcised Timothy before promoting him to an office of trust. He replied by
taking Titus with him to Galatia; and from II Cor. we gather that Titus proved one of the most
congenial and useful of his assistants. The space which he fills in II Cor.* is a unique fact in
Paul’s letters; and in the loving and tender sympathy of Paul’s language about him we may read a
wish to compensate for the neglect that had during many years sacrificed him to the thankless
policy of conciliating the Jews.
The importance of Titus in subsequent years confirms the impression derived from II Cor.
He seems to have remained in Europe when Paul went to Jerusalem in March 57. At a later time
he was sent to Dalmatia, II Tim. IV 10; and near the end of Paul’s career he was entrusted with
the general oversight of the Churches in Crete, Tit. I 5.
Paul spent the summer and autumn of 56 in Macedonia. He found Timothy waiting him
either in Thessalonica or in Bercea; and they joined in addressing the second letter to the
Corinthians, enforcing in a more personal way the instructions already sent through the three
envoys who had come from Philippi. The common view (which is as old as the subscription
added in some MSS. to the letter), that the envoys carried with them II Cor., seems improbable.
In winter Paul went on to Hellas (the Greek term for the country forming the main part of the
Roman province), and spent December, January. and February in Corinth.
2. THE CONTRIBUTION OF THE FOUR PROVINCES. (3) AND WHEN HE HAD
SPENT THREE MONTHS, AND A PLOT WAS LAID AGAINST HIM BY THE JEWS
WHILE HE WAS ON THE POINT OF SETTING SAIL FOR SYRIA, HE ADOPTED THE
PLAN OF MAKING HIS RETURN JOURNEY to Jerusalem THROUGH MACEDONIA. (4)
AND THERE ACCOMPANIED HIM on the journey to Jerusalem SOPATER, SON OF
PYRRHUS OF BEREA, AND on the part OF THE THESSALONIANS ARISTARCHUS AND
SECUNDUS, AND GAIUS OF DERBE AND TIMOTHY, AND THE ASIANS TYCHICUS
AND TROPHIMUS (NOW THESE Asian delegates, COMING TO MEET US, AWAITED US
IN TROAS). (5) AND WE SAILED AWAY FROM PHILIPPI AFTER THE DAYS OF
UNLEAVENED BREAD, AND CAME UNTO THEM TO TROAS.
At the opening of navigation, Paul had arranged to sail from Corinth to Jerusalem,
obviously with the intention of celebrating the Passover there; but the discovery of a Jewish plot
to kill him altered his plans. The style of this plot can be easily imagined. Paul’s intention must
have been to take a pilgrim ship carrying Achaian and Asian Jews to the Passover (p. 264). With
a shipload of hostile Jews, it would be easy to find opportunity to murder Paul. He therefore
abandoned the proposed voyage and sailed for Macedonia, where he easily arrived in time to
celebrate the Passover in Philippi.
It is clear that the plot was discovered at the last moment, when delegates from the
Churches had already assembled. The European delegates were to sail from Corinth, the Asian
from Ephesus, where doubtless the pilgrim ship would call (as in 53, P. 264). When the plan was
changed, word was sent to the Asian delegates; and they went as far as Troas to meet the others,
for in ancient voyages it could be calculated with certainty that Paul’s company would put in at
that harbour.
The purpose of this numerous company is not stated in this part of the text; but in XXIV
17, Paul says: "I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings,"and the reason is often alluded
to in the Epistles to Corinth and Rome. In Rom. XV 25, written from Corinth about Jan. 57, Paul
says: "Now I go unto Jerusalem, acting as an administrator of relief to the saints". The scheme of
a general contribution collected week by week for a long time in all the Pauline Churches of
Galatia, Asia, Macedonia, and Achaia, has been well described by Mr. Rendall (Expositor, Nov.
1893, p. 321). The great importance which Paul attached to this contribution, and to the personal
distribution of the fund (daikoniva), is attested, not merely by the long and careful planning of
the scheme, and by the numerous body of delegates who carried it to Jerusalem, but also by his
determination to conduct the delegates personally, in spite of all the dangers which, as he knew,
awaited him there: "I go constrained by the Spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing what shall befall
me there, save that the Holy Spirit testifieth unto me in every city, saying that bonds and
afflictions await me". It is evident that he thought this scheme the crowning act of his work in
these four provinces; and as soon as it was over, his purpose was to go to Rome and the West (p.
255), and cease for the time his work in the Eastern provinces (XX 25).
The scheme is not alluded to in the letter to the Galatian Churches: but it seems to have
been inaugurated there by oral instructions during the third visit (I Cor. XVI 1). The mission of
Timothy and of Titus in 56 doubtless helped to carry it out in Europe. Luke evidently took it up
with special zeal, and he was from an early date selected as one of the administrators who were
to carry it to Jerusalem (II Cor.VIII 19). In the list, v. 4, Luke omits his own name, but suggests
his presence by his familiar device. No representative from Achaia is on the list; but perhaps we
may understand that the Corinthians had asked Paul himself to bear their contribution, the
amount of which he praises (II Cor. IX 2).
In v. 4 we have probably a case like XVI 19 f., in which the authority hesitated between
two constructions, and left an unfinished sentence containing elements of two forms. The facts
were probably as stated in our rendering; and it would lead too far to discuss the sentence, which
perhaps never received the author’s final revision.
3. THE VOYAGE TO TROAS.. (XX 6) WE SAILED AWAY FROM PHILIPPI AFTER
THE DAYS OF UNLEAVENED BREAD, AND CAME UNTO THEM TO TROAS IN FIVE
DAYS; AND THERE WE TARRIED SEVEN DAYS. (7) AND ON THE FIRST DAY OF THE
WEEK WHEN WE WERE GATHERED TOGETHER TO BREAK BREAD, PAUL
DISCOURSED WITH THEM, BEING ABOUT TO DE- PART ON THE MORROW; AND HE
PROLONGED HIS SPEECH UNTIL MIDNIGHT. . . (13) AND WE, GOING BEFORE TO
THE SHIP, SET SAIL FOR ASSOS.
In A.D. 57 Passover fell on Thursday, April 7. The company left Philippi on the morning
of Friday, April 15, and the journey to Troas lasted till the fifth day, Tuesday, April 19. In Troas
they stayed seven days, the first of which was April 19, and the last, Monday, April 25. Luke’s
rule is to state first the whole period of residence, and then some details of the residence (see pp.
153, 256, and XIX 10). On the Sunday evening just before the start, the whole congregation
4. EUTYCHUS. (XX 7) AND UPON THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK, WHEN WE
WERE GATHERED TOGETHER TO BREAK BREAD, PAUL DISCOURSED TO THEM,
INTENDING TO GO AWAY ON THE MORROW; AND HE PROLONGED HIS SPEECH
UNTIL MIDNIGHT. (8) AND THERE WERE MANY LIGHTS IN THE UPPER CHAMBER,
WHERE WE WERE GATHERED TOGETHER. (9) AND THERE SAT IN THE WINDOW A
CERTAIN YOUNG MAN NAMED EUTYCHUS, WHO WAS GRADUALLY OPPRESSED
BY SLEEP AS PAUL EXTENDED HIS DISCOURSE FURTHER, AND BEING BORNE
DOWN BY HIS SLEEP HE FELL FROM THE THIRD STORY TO THE GROUND, AND
WAS LIFTED UP DEAD. (10) AND PAUL WENT DOWN AND FELL ON HIM, AND
EMBRACING HIM SAID, "MAKE YE NO ADO; FOR HIS LIFE IS IN HIM". (11) AND HE
WENT UP, AND BROKE BREAD AND ATE, AND TALKED WITH THEM A LONG
WHILE, EVEN TILL BREAK OF DAY; AND THUS HE DEPARTED. (12) AND THEY
BROUGHT THE LAD ALIVE, AND WERE NOT A LITTLE COMFORTED. (13) BUT WE,
GOING BEFORE TO THE SHIP, SET SAIL FOR ASSOS, INTENDING TO TAKE PAUL ON
BOARD FROM THENCE; FOR SO HE HAD ARRANGED, INTENDING HIMSELF TO GO
BY LAND.
In this case the author vouches that Eutychus was dead, implying apparently that, as a
physician, he had satisfied himself on the point In XIV 19 he had no authority for asserting that
Paul was dead, but only that his enemies considered him dead.
The sequence of the narrative is remarkable: the young man fell: Paul declared he was not
dead: Paul went upstairs again, partook of the common meal (conceived here as a sacrament),
and conversed till break of day: they brought the young man living. But the interruption of the
story of Eutychus’s fate is intentional. The narrator was present in the upper chamber,
and saw
Eutychus fall, and heard Paul declare that he was not dead; but he does not claim to have been a
witness of the man’s recovery, and he marks the difference by a break in the narrative. The ship,
having to round the projecting cape Lectum, would take longer time to reach Assos than the land
journey required; and Paul stayed on to the last moment, perhaps to be assured of Eutychus’s
recovery, while the other delegates went on ahead in the ship. Thus the fact that Eutychus
recovered is in a sense the final incident of the stay at Troas. The Bezan reading makes the
sequence clearer: "and while they were bidding farewell, they brought the young man living, and
they were comforted".
There is a very harsh change of subject in v. 12; the persons who brought the youth are
not those who were comforted (as Dr. Blass points out). A similar change of subject, but not
quite so harsh, occurs in XIII 2-3. The word "brought,"not "carried,"implies that Eutychus was
able to come with some help.
5. THE VOYAGE TO CAESAREIA. (14) AND WHEN HE MET US AT ASSOS, WE
TOOK HIM BOARD, AND CAME TO MITYLENE; (15) AND SAILING FROM THENCE
ON THE FOLLOWING DAY, WE REACHED a point on the mainland OPPOSITE
CHIOS;
AND ON THE MORROW WE STRUCK ACROSS TO SAMOS, AND [AFTER MAKING A
STAY AT TROGYLLIA] ON THE NEXT DAY WE CAME TO MILETUS. (16) FOR PAUL
HAD DECIDED TO SAIL PAST EPHESUS, TO AVOID SPENDING TIME IN ASIA;1 FOR
HE WAS HASTENING, IF IT WERE PENTECOST. (17) AND FROM MILETUS HE SENT
TO EPHESUS, AND SUMMONED THE ELDERS OF THE CHURCH. (18) AND WHEN
THEY WERE COME TO HIM, HE SAID UNTO THEM... (36) AND WHEN HE HAD THUS
SPOKEN, HE KNEELED DOWN WITH THEM ALL, AND PRAYED. (37) AND THEY ALL
WEPT SORE, AND FELL ON PAUL’S NECK, AND KISSED HIM, SORROWING MOST OF
ALL FOR THE WORD WHICH HE HAD SPOKEN, THAT THEY WILL BEHOLD HIS
FACE NO MORE. (38) AND THEY BROUGHT HIM ON HIS WAY UNTO THE SHIP. (XXI
1) AND WHEN IT CAME TO PASS THAT WE, TEARING OURSELVES FROM THEM, SET
SAIL, WE MADE A STRAIGHT RUN TO COS, AND THE NEXT DAY TO RHODES, AND
FROM THENCE TO PATARA [and Myra]. (2) AND, FINDING A SHIP GOING OVER SEA
TO PHNICE, WE WENT ON BOARD AND SET SAIL. (3) AND, HAVING SIGHTED
CYPRUS, LEAVING IT ON OUR LEFT, WE SAILED UNTO SYRIA, AND LANDED AT
TYRE; FOR THERE THE SHIP WAS TO UNLADE. (4) AND HAVING FOUND THE
DISCIPLES, WE TARRIED THERE SEVEN DAYS; AND THESE SAID THROUGH THE
SPIRIT TO PAUL NOT TO SET FOOT IN JERUSALEM. (5) AND WHEN IT CAME TO
PASS THAT WE HAD FINISHED OUR TIME, WE DEPARTED AND WENT ON OUR
JOURNEY; AND THEY ALL, WITH WIVES AND CHILDREN, BROUGHT US ON OUR
WAY TILL WE WERE OUT OF THE CITY. AND KNEELING DOWN ON THE BEACH,
WE PRAYED, (6) AND BADE EACH OTHER FAREWELL; AND WE WENT ON BOARD
SHIP, BUT THEY RETURNED HOME AGAIN. (7) AND FINISHING THE short RUN FROM
TYRE, WE REACHED PTOLEMAIS; AND WE SALUTED THE BRETHREN AND ABODE
WITH THEM ONE DAY.
The ship evidently stopped every evening. The reason lies in the wind, which in the
˘gean during the summer generally blows from the north, beginning at a very early hour in the
morning; in the late afternoon it dies away; at sunset there is a dead calm, and thereafter a gentle
south wind arises and blows during the night. The start would be made before sunrise; and it
would be necessary for all passengers to go on board soon after midnight in order to be ready to
sail with the first breath from the north.
In v. 14 our translation (agreeing with Blass) assumes that the reading sunevbalen is
correct; but the great MSS. read sunevballen, and perhaps the imperfect may be used, implying
that Paul did not actually enter Assos, but was descried and taken in by boat as he was nearing
the city. On Monday, April 25, they reached Mitylene before the wind fell; and on Tuesday
afternoon they stopped at a point opposite Chios (probably near Cape Argennum). Hence on
Wednesday morning they ran straight across to the west point of Samos, and thence kept in
towards Miletus; but when the wind fell, they had not got beyond the promontory Trogyllia at the
entrance to the gulf, and there, as the Bezan Text mentions, they spent the evening. Early on
Thursday, April 28, they stood across the gulf (which is now in great part filled up by the silt of
the river Mander) to Miletus. Here they found that they could reckon on a stay of some days,
and Paul sent a messenger to Ephesus. The messenger could not reach Ephesus that day, for the
land road round the gulf made a vast circuit, and the wind would prevent him from sailing across
to Priene in the forenoon. Moreover, it would take some time to land, and to engage a messenger.
In the early afternoon there would arise a sea-breeze blowing up the gulf (called in modern times
Imbat, ejmbavth"), which would permit the messenger to sail to the north side of the gulf. He
would probably land at Priene, cross the hills, and thereafter take the coast road to Ephesus,
which he might reach during the night. Some time would be required to summon the presbyters;
and they could not travel so fast as a single chosen messenger. They would show good speed if
they reached Priene in the evening and were ready to sail to Miletus with the morning wind. The
third day of Paul’s stay at Miletus, then, was devoted to the presbyters; and we cannot suppose
that the ship left Miletus before Sunday morning, May 1, while it is possible that the start took
place a day later.
On that day they reached Cos, on May 2 Rhodes, May 3 Patara, May 4 Myra, and,
probably, May 7 Tyre.
In Tyre they stayed seven days, and sailed on May 13 for Ptolemais, where they spent the
day, and on May 14 they reached Csareia. As Pentecost was on May 28, they had still a
considerable time before them. If Paul remained several days in Csareia, then, the reason must
be that there was still plenty of time to do so without endangering his purpose.
We reach the same conclusion from observing the author’s concise style. After stating the
object of the journey in v. 16, he leaves the reader to gather from his silence that the object was
attained. The fact was clear in his own mind, and he was content with one single incidental
allusion to it, not for its own sake (he as a Greek felt little interest in Jewish festivals), but to
explain a point in which he was interested, viz., the sailing past Ephesus without touching there.
The statement in v. 16 has led to a common misconception that Paul was sailing in a
vessel chartered by himself, whose stoppages he could control as he pleased. But if Paul had
been able to fix where the vessel should stop, it was obviously a serious waste of time to go to
Miletus and summon the Ephesian elders thither; the shorter way would have been to stop at
Ephesus and there make his farewell address. Clearly the delay of three days at Miletus was
forced on him by the ship’s course, and the facts of the journey were these. From Neapolis they
sailed in a ship bound for Troas. Here they had to transship; and some delay was experienced in
finding a suitable passage. Paul would not voluntarily, have spent seven days at Troas: the length
of a coasting voyage was too uncertain for him to waste so many days at the beginning, when he
was hastening to Jerusalem. After a week, two chances presented themselves: one ship intended
to make no break on its voyage, except at Miletus, the other to stop at Ephesus. The latter ship
was, for some reason, the slower; either it was not to sail further south than Ephesus (in which
case time might be lost there in finding a passage); or it was a slow ship, that intended to stop in
several other harbours. The shortness of the time determined Paul to choose the ship that went
straight to Miletus, and "to sail past Ephesus"; and the pointed statement proves that the question
had been discussed, and doubtless the Ephesian delegates-begged a visit to their city.
To Luke the interest of Pentecost lay not in itself, but in its furnishing the reason why
Paul did not go to Ephesus. There, as in so many other touches, we see the Greek, to whom the
Jews were little more than "Barbaroi".
We notice that Paul, having been disappointed in his first intention of spending Passover
at Jerusalam, was eager at any rate to celebrate Pentecost there. For the purpose which he had at
heart, the formation of a perfect unity between the Jewish and the non-Jewish sections of the
Church, it was important to be in Jerusalem to show his respect for one of the great feasts.
Modern discussion of the voyage to Csareia illustrates the unnecessary obscurity in
which a remarkably accurate narrative has been involved by over-subtlety, want of experience of
rough-and-ready travel, and inattention to the peculiar method of Luke as a narrator. As we have
seen, only two numbers are at all doubtful: the length of the stay at Miletus, and the duration of
the over-sea voyage to Tyre; but in each case a day more or less is the utmost permissible
variation. We find that Paul had fully thirteen days to spare when he reached Csareia. Yet many
excellent scholars have got so far astray in this simple reckoning of days as to maintain that Paul
was too late. Even Weiss, in his edition (in many respects excellent), so lately as 1893, concludes
that already in Tyre Paul found that it was impossible to reach Jerusalem in time. Yet, at a pinch,
the journey from Tyre to Jerusalem could have been performed in four days.
The farewell speech to the Ephesians, simple, pathetic, and characteristic of Paul as it. is,
contains little that concerns our special purpose. Paul intimates clearly that this is his farewell
before entering on his enterprise in the West: "Ye all shall no longer see my face". With a
characteristic gesture he shows his hands: "these hands ministered unto my necessities".
Incidentally we notice the ancient custom of reckoning time: the residence in Asia, which
can hardly have been more than two years six months at the most, is estimated loosely as "three
years".
The clinging affection which is expressed in the farewell scene, and in the "tearing
ourselves away"of XXI 1, makes a very pathetic picture.
Myra is mentioned on this voyage in the Bezan Text, and there can be no doubt that the
ship on which the company was embarked either entered the harbour of Myra, or, at least, went
close to it before striking across the open sea west of Cyprus to the Syrian coast. The voyage
may be taken as typical of the course which hundreds of ships took every year,
along a route
familiar from time immemorial. It had been a specially frequented route since the age of the
earlier Seleucid and Ptolemaic kings, when, as Canon Hicks remarks, "there must have been
daily communication between Cos and Alexandria ".*
The harbour of Myra seems to have been the great port for the direct cross-sea traffic to
the coasts of Syria and Egypt. It was the seat of the sailors god, to whom they offered their
prayers before starting on the direct long course, and paid their vows on their safe arrival; this
god survived in the Christianised form, St. Nicholas of Myra, the patron-saint of sailors, who
held the same position in the maritime world of the Levant as St. Phokas of Sinope did in that of
the Black Sea (where he was the Christianised form of Achilles Pontarches, the Ruler of the
Pontos).
Myra is termed by the pilgrim Sawulf (as I learn from Dr. Tomaschek) "the harbour of the
Adriatic Sea, as Constantinople is of the ˘gean Sea"; and this importance is hardly intelligible
till we recognise its relation to the Syrian and Egyptian traffic. The prevailing winds in the
Levant throughout the season are westerly; and these westerly breezes blow almost with the
steadiness of trade-winds. Hence the ancient ships, even though they rarely made what sailors
call "a long leg"across the sea, were in the habit of running direct from Myra to the Syrian, or to
the Egyptian coast. On the return voyage an Alexandrian ship could run north to Myra, if the
wind was nearly due west; but, if it shifted towards north-west (from which quarter the Etesian
winds blew steadily for forty days from July 20), the ships of Alexandria ran for the Syrian coast.
The same steady winds, which favoured the run from Myra to Tyre, made the return voyage
direct from Tyre to Myra an impossibility. Hence the regular course for ships from Syria was to
keep northwards past the east end of Cyprus till they reached the coast of Asia Minor; and then,
by using the land winds which blow off the coast for some part of almost every day, and aided
also to some extent by the current which sets steadily westward along the Karamanian coast (as it
is now called), these traders from Syria worked their way along past Myra to Cnidos at the
extreme south-western corner of Asia Minor.
It may, then, be safely assumed that Myra was visited by Paul’s ship, as the Bezan Text
asserts. But the addition of "and Myra"is a mere gloss (though recording a true fact), for it
implies that the transshipment took place at Myra. We need not hesitate to accept the authority of
the great MSS. that Paul and his company found at Patara a ship about to start on the direct
Syrian course, and went on board of it (probably because their ship did not intend to make the
direct voyage, or was a slower vessel). Luke then hurries over the direct voyage, mentioning only
the fact which specially interested him, that they sighted the western point of Cyprus. He did not
mention Myra; he was giving only a brief summary of the voyage, and for some reason the visit
to Myra did not interest him.
Many circumstances might occur to deprive the visit of interest and to make Luke omit it
(as he omits many other sights) from his brief summary of the voyage. Formerly I illustrated this
by my own experience. I was in the port of Myra in the course of a voyage; yet I never saw either
the town or the harbour, and would probably omit Myra, if I were giving a summary description
of my experiences on that voyage.
At Tyre the vessel stayed seven days unloading; it must therefore have been one of the
larger class of merchant vessels; and probably only that class ventured to make the direct sea
voyage from Lycia by the west side of Cyprus. Small vessels clung to the coast. As the same
ship* was going on as far as Ptolemais, and as there was still abundant time for the rest of the
journey, Paul remained until the allotted time of its stay was over, v. 5. None of the party seems
to have known Tyre, for they had to seek out the Brethren there. The hearty welcome which they
received from strangers, whose sole bond of union lay in their common religion, makes Luke
dwell on this scene as showing the solidarity of feeling in the Church. There took place a kindly
farewell on the shore at Tyre, as at Miletus; but the longing and sorrow of long personal
friendship and love could not here be present to the same extent as there. The scenes are similar,
and yet how different! Such touches of diversity amid resemblance could be given only by the
eye-witness.
The ship completed the short voyage to Ptolemais early; and the party spent the day with
the Brethren; and went on to Csareia next day. Probably they went in the same ship. The
emphasis laid on "finishing the voyage"from Tyre to Ptolemais is due to the fact that it was
probably over about 10 A.M.
6. CAESAREIA AND JERUSALEM. (XXI 8) ON THE MORROW WE DEPARTED,
AND CAME INTO C˘SAREIA. AND, ENTERING INTO THE HOUSE OF PHILIP THE
EVANGELIST, WHO WAS ONE OF THE SEVEN, WE ABODE WITH HIM. (9) NOW THIS
MAN HAD FOUR DAUGHTERS, VIRGINS, WHICH DID PROPHESY. (10) AND, AS WE
TARRIED THERE SOME* DAYS, THERE CAME DOWN FROM JUDEA A CERTAIN
PROPHET NAMED AGABUS. (11) AND COMING TO US AND TAKING PAUL’S GIRDLE,
HE BOUND HIS OWN FEET AND HANDS AND SAID: "THUS SAITH THE HOLY SPIRIT,
’SO SHALL THE JEWS BIND AT JERUSALEM THE MAN THAT OWNETH THIS GIRDLE,
AND DELIVER HIM INTO THE HANDS OF THE. GENTILES’".... (15) AND AFTER THESE
DAYS, WE, HAVING EQUIPPED horses, PROCEEDED ON OUR WAY TO JERUSALEM.
(16) AND THERE WENT WITH US ALSO some OF THE DISCIPLES FROM C˘SAREIA,
CONDUCTING US TO the house OF ONE MNASON, AN EARLY DISCIPLE,
WHERE WE SHOULD FIND ENTER-TAINMENT. (17) AND WHEN WE ARRIVED AT
JERUSALEM, THE BRETHREN RECEIVED US GLADLY.
and these conducted us where we should find entertainment; and reaching a certain
village, we were in the house of Mnason, an early disciple; and going out thence we came to
Jerusalem, and the Brethren received us gladly.
The length of the stay at Csareia is concealed, with Luke’s usual defective sense of time,
by the vague phrase, v. 10, hJmevra" pleivou". The sense of this expression varies greatly
according to the situation (cp. XXIV 17, with XIII 31, XXVII 20); but here it is not likely to be
less than nine or ten.
The party was therefore cutting down the time for the journey to the utmost. Evidently
they desired to remain as long as possible with the Brethren; and the plan for the journey was
arranged for them, so that with Csareian guidance and help it could be done with comfort and
certainty when time necessitated departure. Now, it is an elementary principle of prudent living
in Southern countries that one should avoid those great exertions and strains which in Northern
countries we often take as an amusement. The customs of the modern peoples (whom we on
superficial knowledge are apt to think lazy, but who are not so) show that this principle guides
their whole life; and it may be taken as certain that in ancient time the same principle was
followed. Moreover, Paul was accompanied by his physician, who fully understood the
importance of this rule, and knew that Paul, subject as he was to attacks of illness, and constantly
exposed to great mental and emotional strains, must not begin his work in Jerusalem by a hurried
walk of sixty-four miles from Csareia, more especially as it is clear from a comparison of the
Bezan with the Accepted Text that the journey was performed in two days. We conclude, then,
that the journey was not performed on foot; and when we look at the words with this thought in
our minds we find there the verb which means in classical Greek, "to equip or saddle a
horse"Chrysostom took the word in that sense;* but the modern commentators have scorned or
misunderstood him.
Some of the Brethren from Csareia accompanied them as far as a village on the road,
where they stayed for a night with Mnason of Cyprus, one of the earliest Christian converts. The
next day the Brethren returned with the conveyances to Csareia, while Paul and his company
performed the rest of the journey (which was probably not far) on foot. Time had passed rapidly,
when a convert of A.D. 30 or 31 was "ancient"in 57; but the immense changes that had occurred
made the Church of 30 seem divided by a great gulf from these Macedonian and Asian delegates
as they approached Jerusalem.
7. THE CRISIS IN THE FATE OF PAUL AND OF THE CHURCH. From the moment
when Paul was arrested onwards, the narrative becomes much fuller than before. It still continues
true to the old method of concentrating the reader’s attention on certain selected scenes, which
are described in considerable detail, while the intervening periods are dismissed very briefly.
Thus XXI 17-XXIV 23 describes the events of twelve days, XXIV 24-27 of two years, XXV 1XXVIII 7 of about five months, XXVIII 8-11 of three months. But the scenes selected for special
treatment lie closer together than formerly; and it is beyond doubt that, on our hypothesis, the
amount of space assigned to Paul’s imprisonment and successive examinations marks this as the
most important part of the book in the author’s estimation. If that is not the case-if the large space
devoted to this period is not deliberately intended by the author as proportionate to its
importance-then the work lacks one of the prime qualities of a great history. It is essential to our
purpose to establish that we are now approaching the real climax, and that what has hitherto been
narrated leads up to the great event of the whole work. If we fail in that, we fail in the main
object for which we are contending; and we should have to allow that Acts is a collection of
episodic jottings, and not a real history in the true sense of the word.
It must strike every careful reader that Luke devotes special attention throughout his work
to the occasions on which Paul was brought in contact with Roman officials. Generally on these
occasions, the relations between the parties end in a friendly way: the scene with the proconsul of
Cyprus is the most marked case: but Gallio, too, dismissed the case against him, and the formal
decision of a proconsul had such weight as a precedent that the trial practically resulted in a
declaration of religious liberty for the province.
To come to subordinate Roman officials, the "Prtors"of the colony Philippi, though
treating him severely at first, ended by formally apologising and acknowledging his rights, and
only begged of him as a favour to move on-a request which he instantly granted. In the colonies
Antioch and Lystra he was treated severely, but the blame is laid entirely on the Jews, and the
magistrates are not directly mentioned; while in both cases it is brought out in the narrative that
condemnation was not pronounced on fair charges duly proved. But though the reader’s attention
is not drawn to the magistrates, there can be no doubt that, at least in Antioch, the magistrates
took action against Paul; and there is some probability that in each place he was scourged by
lictors (p. 107), though these and many other sufferings are passed over. In the first stages of his
work in Asia Minor. he was in collision with Roman colonial officials; but these events are
treated lightly, explained as due to error and extraneous influence, and the Roman character of
the cities is not brought out. While the picture is not discoloured, yet the selection of details is
distinctly guided by a plan.
The clerk (Grammateus) of the city of Ephesus was not a Roman official, but, as the most
important officer of the capital of the province, he was in closer relations with the Roman policy
than ordinary city magistrates: and he pointedly acquitted Paul of any treasonable design against
the State or against the established order of the city, and challenged the rioters to bring any
charge against Paul before the Roman Courts. The Asiarchs, who were officials of the province,
and therefore part of the Roman political system, were his friends, and showed special care to
secure his safety at that time. Even the jailor at Philippi was an officer of Rome, though a very
humble one; and he found Paul a friend in need, and became a friend in turn.
The magistrates of ordinary Greek cities were not so favourable to Paul as the Roman
officials are represented. At Iconium they took active part against him; and the silence about the
magistrates of the colonies Antioch and Lystra is made more marked by the mention of those of
Iconium. At Thessalonica the magistrates excluded him from the city as a cause of disorder. At
Athens the Areopagus was contemptuous and undecided. The favourable disposition of Roman
officials towards Paul is made more prominent by the different disposition of the ordinary
municipal authorities.
These facts acquire more meaning and more definite relation to the historian’s purpose
when we come to the last scenes of the book. We cannot but recognise how pointedly the
Imperial officials are represented as Paul’s only safeguard from the Jews, and how their friendly
disposition to him is emphasised. Even Felix, one of the worst of Roman officials, is affected by
Paul’s teaching, and on the whole protects Paul, though his sordid motives are not concealed, and
he finally left Paul bound, as "desiring to gain favour with the Jews,"XXIV 27; but at least there
was no official action on the part of Felix against him. Festus, his successor, is described as just
and fair towards Paul; he found in him "nothing worthy of death,"and had difficulty in
discovering any definite charge against him that he could report when sending him for trial
before the supreme court of the Empire. The inferior officials, from the tribune Claudius Lysias,
to the centurion Julius, are represented as very friendly. This is all the more marked, because
nothing is said at any stage of the proceedings o! kindness shown to Paul by any others; yet no
one can doubt that the household of Philip and the general body of Christians in Csareia tried to
do everything possible for him. We see then that the historian, out of much that might be
recorded, selects for emphasis the friendliness of the Roman officials: in the climax of his subject
he concentrates the reader’s attention on the conduct of Romans to Paul,* and on their repeated
statements that Paul was innocent in the eyes of Roman Imperial law and policy.
Throughout the whole book, from the time when the centurion Cornelius is introduced,
great art is shown in bringing out without any formal statement the friendly relations between the
Romans and the new teaching, even before Paul became the leading spirit in its development. To
a certain extent, of course, that lies in the subject matter, and the historian simply relates the facts
as they occurred, without colouring them for his purpose; but he is responsible for the selection
of details, and while he has omitted an enormous mass of details (some of which we can gather
from other informants), he has included so many bearing on this point, as to show beyond all
question his keen interest in it.
Further, when we compare Luke with other authorities in their treatment of the same
subject, we see how much more careful he is than they in bringing out the relations in which
Christianity stood to the Imperial government. In the Third Gospel, Luke alone among the four
historians records formally the attempt made by the Jews to implicate Jesus in criminal practices
against the Roman Empire,* and the emphatic, thrice* repeated statement of Pilate acquitting
Him of all fault (XXIII 2, 4, 14, 22) before the law.
We must conclude, then, that the large space devoted to the trial of Paul in its various
stages before the Roman Imperial tribunals is connected with a strongly marked interest and a
clear purpose running through the two books of this history; and it follows that Luke conceived
the trial to be a critical and supremely important stage in the development of the Church.
The next question that faces us is whether Luke is justified as a historian in attaching
such importance to this stage in the development of Christianity. Perhaps the question may be
best answered by quoting some words used in a different connection and for a different purpose.
"It is both justifiable and necessary to lay great stress on the trial of Paul. With the legal
constructiveness and obedience to precedent that characterised the Romans, this case tried before
the supreme court must have been regarded as a test case and a binding precedent, until some act
of the supreme Imperial authority occurred to override it. If such a case came for trial before the
highest tribunal in Rome, there must have been given an authoritative and, for the time, final
judgment on the issues involved."
But, further, it is obvious that the importance of the trial for Luke is intelligible only if
Paul was acquitted. That he was acquitted follows from the Pastoral Epistles with certainty for all
who admit their genuineness; while even they who deny their Pauline origin must allow that they
imply an early belief in historical details which are not consistent with Paul’s journeys before his
trial, and must either be pure inventions or events that occurred on later journeys. I have
elsewhere argued that the subsequent policy of Nero towards the Church is far more readily
intelligible if Paul was acquitted. But, if he was acquitted, the issue of the trial was a formal
decision by the supreme court of the Empire that it was permissible to preach Christianity: the
trial, therefore, was really a charter of religious liberty, and therein lies its immense importance.
It was, indeed, overturned by later decisions of the supreme court; but its existence was a highly
important fact for the Christians.
The importance of the preliminary stages of the trial lies in its issue; and it is obviously
absurd to relate these at great length, and wholly omit the final result which gives them
intelligibility and purpose. It therefore follows that a sequel was contemplated by the author, in
which should be related the final stages of the trial, the acquittal of Paul, the active use which he
made of his permission to preach, the organisation of the Church in new provinces, and the
second trial occurring at the worst and most detested period of Nero’s rule. That sequel demands
a book to itself; and we have seen that the natural implication of Luke’s expression in Acts I 1,if
he wrote as correct Greek as Paul wrote, is that his work was planned to contain, a least, three
books.
This view of Luke’s historical plan suits well the period at which he wrote. It is argued in
Ch. XVII 2 that he was engaged in composing this book under Domitian, a period of persecution,
when Christians had come to be treated as outlaws or brigands, and the mere confession of the
name was recognised as a capital offence. The book was not an apology for Christianity: it was
an appeal to the truth of history against the immoral and ruinous policy of the reigning Emperor,
a temperate and solemn record, by one who had played a great part in them, of the real facts
regarding the formation of the Church, its steady and unswerving loyalty in the past, its firm
resolve to accept the facts of Imperial government, its friendly reception by many Romans, and
its triumphant vindication in the first great trial at Rome. It was the work of one who had been
trained by Paul to look forward to Christianity becoming the religion of the Empire and of the
world who regarded Christianity as destined not to destroy but to save the Empire.
8. FINANCES OF THE TRIAL. It has been asked where Paul got the money which he
required to pay the expenses of four poor men (XXI 23), purifying themselves in the temple; and
the suggestion has been made that the elders who advised him to undertake this expense,
followed up their advice by giving him back some of the money which the delegates from the
four provinces had just paid over to them. Without laying any stress on the silence of Luke as to
any such action, we cannot believe that Paul would accept that money for his own needs, or that
James would offer it. They were trustees of contributions destined for a special purpose; and to
turn it to any other purpose would have been fraudulent. It is incredible that Paul, after laying
such stress on the purpose of that contribution, and planning it for years (p. 288), should divert
part of it to his own use the day after he reached Jerusalem.
But several other facts show clearly that, during the following four years, Paul had
considerable command of money. Imprisonment and a long lawsuit are expensive. Now, it is
clear that Paul during the following four years did not appear before the world as a penniless
wanderer, living by the work of his hands. A person in that position will not either at the present
day or in the first century be treated with such marked respect as was certainly paid to Paul, at
Csareia, on the voyage, and in Rome. The governor Felix and his wife, the Princess Drusilla,
accorded him an interview and private conversation. King Agrippa and his Queen Berenice also
desired to see him. A poor man never receives such attentions, or rouses such interest. Moreover,
Felix hoped for a bribe from him; and a rich Roman official did not look for a small gift. Paul,
therefore, wore the outward appearance of a man of means, like one in a position to bribe a
Roman procurator. The minimum in the way of personal attendants that was allowable for a man
of respectable position was two slaves; and, as we shall see, Paul was believed to be attended by
two slaves to serve him. At Csareia he was confined in the palace of Herod; but he had to live,
to maintain two attendants, and to keep up a respectable appearance. Many comforts, which are
almost necessities, would be given by the guards, so long as they were kept in good humour, and
it is expensive to keep guards in good humour. In Rome he was able to hire a lodging for himself
and to live there, maintaining, of course, the soldier who guarded him.
An appeal to the supreme court could not be made by everybody that chose. Such an
appeal had to be permitted and sent forward by the provincial governor; and only a serious case
would be entertained. But the case of a very poor man is never esteemed as serious; and there is
little doubt that the citizen’s right of appeal to the Emperor was hedged in by fees and pledges.
There is always one law for the rich man and another for the poor: at least, to this extent, that
many claims can be successfully pushed by a rich man inwhich a poor man would have no
chance of success. In appealing to the Emperor, Paul was choosing undoubtedly an expensive
line of trial. All this had certainly been estimated before the decisive step was taken. Paul had
weighed the cost; he had reckoned the gain which would accrue to the Church if the supreme
court pronounced in his favour; and his past experience gave him every reason to hope for a
favourable issue before a purely Roman tribunal, where Jewish influence would have little or no
power. The importance of the case, as described in the preceding section, makes the appeal more
intelligible.
Where, then, was the money procured? Was it from new contributions collected in the
Churches? That seems most improbable, both from their general poverty, from Paul’s personal
character, and from the silence of Luke on the point. Luke himself was probably a man
dependent on his profession for his livelihood. His name is not that of a man of high position.
There seems no alternative except that Paul’s hereditary property was used in those four years. As
to the exact facts, we must remain in ignorance. If Paul hitherto voluntarily abstained from using
his fortune, he now found himself justified by the importance of the case in acting differently. If,
on the other hand, he had for the time been disowned by his family, then either a reconciliation
had been brought about during his danger (perhaps originating in the bold kindness of his young
nephew), or through death property had come to him as legal heir (whose right could not be
interfered with by any will). But, whatever be the precise facts, we must regard Paul as a man of
some wealth during these years.
He appeared to Felix and to Festus, then, as a Roman of Jewish origin of high rank and
great learning, engaged in a rather foolish controversy against the whole united power of his
nation (winch showed his high standing, as well as his want of good judgment). That is the spirit
of Festus’s words, "Paul! Paul! you are a great philosopher, but you have no common sense".
On the details given of the incidents in Jerusalem and Csareia, I shall not enter. I am not
at home on the soil of Palestine; and it seems better not to mix up second-hand studies with a
discussion of incidents where I stand on familiar ground.
Note. Procuratorship of Felix. The remarkable contradiction between Josephus (who
makes Cumanus governor of Palestine 48-52, Felix being his successor in 52), and Tacitus (who
makes Felix governor of Samaria [and probably of Judea], contemporary with Cumanus as
governor of Galilee, the latter being disgraced in 52, and the former acquitted and honoured at
the same trial), is resolved by Mommsen in favour of Tacitus as the better authority on such a
point; and most students of Roman history will agree with him.
Chapter XIV. THE VOYAGE TO ROME
In describing the voyage from Csareia to Malta, we are guided by the excellent work of
James Smith, Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul (third edition, 1866); but as there are some
points of interest which he has not explained satisfactorily, we shall briefly describe the voyage,
and treat more elaborately such points as need to be added to Smith’s results.
1. CAESAREIA TO MYRA. A convoy of prisoners was starting for Rome under charge
of a centurion of the Augustan cohort, and a detachment of soldiers; and Paul was sent along
with it. He, of course, occupied a very different position from the other prisoners. He was a man
of distinction, a Roman citizen who had appealed for trial to the supreme court in Rome. The
others had been in all probability already condemned to death, and were going to supply the
perpetual demand which Rome made on the provinces for human victims to amuse the populace
by their death in the arena.
The cohorts of the Roman legions never bore surnames, and it would therefore seem that
this "Augustan cohort"was one of the auxiliary cohorts, which had regularly one or more
surnames. But the duty which is here performed by the centurion was never performed by an
auxiliary officer, but only by an officer of a legion. It would therefore appear that an auxiliary
officer is here represented in a position which he could not hold.
But, when we recollect (1) that Luke regularly uses the terms of educated conversation,
not the strict technical names, and (2) that he was a Greek who was careless of Roman forms or
names, we shall not seek in this case to treat the Greek term (spei’ra Sebasthv) as a translation of
a correct Roman name; but we shall look for a body in the Roman service which was likely to be
called "the troop of the Emperor"by the persons in whose society Luke moved at the time. We
give the answer to which Mommsen seems to incline Berlin Akad. Sitzungsber, 1895, p. 501,
adding the evidence of Luke’s style, but otherwise quoting Mommsen. First we ask what officer
would be likely to perform the duty here assigned to Julius. It would naturally be a legionary
centurion on detached service for communication between the Emperor and his armies in the
provinces (as described on p. 348). That the centurion whom Luke alludes to was one of this
body is confirmed by the fact that, when he reached Rome, he handed Paul over to his chief. We
conclude, then, that the "troop of the Emperor"was a popular colloquial way of describing the
corps of officer-couriers; and we thus gather from Acts an interesting fact, elsewhere unattested
but in perfect conformity with the known facts.
Luke uses the first person throughout the following narrative; and he was therefore in
Pauls company. But how was this permitted? It is hardly possible to suppose that the prisoner’s
friends were allowed to accompany him. Pliny mentions a case in point (Epist. III 16). Paetus
was brought a prisoner from Illyricum to Rome, and his wife Arria vainly begged leave to
accompany him; several slaves were permitted to go with him as waiters, valets, etc., and Arria
offered herself alone to perform all their duties; but her prayer was refused. The analogy shows
how Luke and Aristarchus accompanied Paul: they must have gone as his slaves, not merely
performing the duties of slaves (as Arria offered to do), but actually passing as slaves. In this
way not merely had Paul faithful friends always beside him; his importance in the eyes of the
centurion was much enhanced, and that was of great importance. The narrative clearly implies
that Paul enjoyed much respect during this voyage, such as a penniless traveller without a servant
to attend on him would never receive either in the first century or the nineteenth.
In the harbour of Csareia there was no convenient ship about to sail for Rome; and the
convoy was put on board of an Adramyttian ship which was going to make a voyage along the
coast towns of the province Asia. Communication direct with Rome might be found in some of
the great Asian harbours, or, failing any suitable ship in the late season, the prisoners might be
taken (like Ignatius half a century later) by Troas and Philippi and the land road to Dyrrachium,
and thence to Brundisium and Rome.
The direct run from Lycia to the Syrian coast was often made, but it is hardly possible
that a direct run from Syria back to Myra was ever attempted by ancient ships. They never
ventured on such a run except when a steady wind was blowing which could be trusted to last.
But westerly breezes blow with great steadiness through the summer months in the Levant; and it
is certain that ancient ships westward bound sailed east of Cyprus, as the Adramyttian ship now
did. Luke explains why they sailed on this side of Cyprus; and he must, therefore, have expected
to take the other side. Now, a sailor or a person accustomed to these seas would not have thought
of making any explanation, for the course of the ship was the normal one. But Luke had come to
Sidon from Myra by the west side of Cyprus, and he, therefore, was impressed. with the
difference, and (contrary to his. usual custom) he gives a formal explanation; and his explanation
stamps him as a stranger to these seas.
The ship worked slowly along the Cilician and Pamphylian coast, as the sailors availed
themselves of temporary local land breezes and of the steady westward current that runs along
the coast. The description given in the Periodoi of Barnabas of a voyage from Seleuceia in Syria
to Cyprus in the face of a prevailing steady westerly wind, the work of a person familiar with the
circumstances, illustrates perfectly the voyage on this occasion. The Adramyttian ship crept on
from point to point up the coast, taking advantage of every opportunity to make a few miles, and
lying at anchor in the shelter of the winding coast, when the westerly wind made progress
impossible.
Smith in his masterly work collects several other examples of the same course which was
adopted by the Adramyttian ship. Modern sailing ships, even with their superior rig, have several
times been forced by the steady westerly wind towards the north, keeping east of Cyprus, and
using the breezes which blow at intervals from the Caramanian coast.
In this description there is an addition made in the Later Syriac version and some other
authorities, which Westcott and Hort put in the margin as one "which appears to have a
reasonable probability of being the true reading". The ship, in this addition, is said to have spent
fifteen days in beating along the Cyprio-Pamphylian coast. This addition obviously suits the
situation, and may be unhesitatingly accepted as true, whether as written by Luke or as a wellinformed gloss. Most probably it is Lukan, for Luke gives rough statements of the time
throughout this voyage; and an exact estimate at this point is quite in his style. It perhaps
dropped out of most MSS., as wanting interest for later generations.
If we may judge from the Periodoi Barnab, the coasting voyage was accomplished
comparatively rapidly as far as Myra (see also p. 320).
In the harbour of Myra, the centurion found an Alexandrian ship on a voyage towards
Italy. He embarked his convoy on board of this ship. It is characteristic of the style of Luke that
he does not mention the class of ship or the reason of its voyage from Alexandria to Italy; but
simply tells facts as they occur. Now, Egypt was one of the granaries of Rome; and the corn trade
between Egypt and Rome was of the first importance and of great magnitude. There is, therefore,
a reasonable probability that this ship was carrying corn to Rome; and this inference is confirmed
by Luke himself, who mentions in v. 38 that the cargo was grain.
A ship-captain familiar with the Levant informed me that he had known ships going west
from Egypt keep well to the north, in order to avail themselves of the shelter of the Cretan coast.
No ancient ship would have ventured to keep so much out to sea as to run intentionally from
Egypt to Crete direct, and moreover the winds would rarely have permitted it; but it is probable
that this Alexandrian ship had sailed direct to Myra across the Levant. The steady westerly
Breezes which prevented ships from making the direct run from Sidon, were favourable for the
direct run from Alexandria. Probably this course was a customary one during a certain season of
the year from Alexandria to Italy. Any one who has the slightest knowledge of "the way of a ship
in the sea,"will recognise that, with a steady wind near west, this was the ideally best course;
while if the breeze shifted a little towards the north, it would be forced into a Syrian port; and, as
we know from other sources, that was often the case.
As we saw (p. 298), Myra was one of the great harbours of the Egyptian service. It is,
therefore, unnecessary and incorrect to say, as is often done, that the Alexandrian ship had been
blown out of its course. The ship was on its regular and ordinary course, and had quite probably
been making a specially good run, for in the autumn there was always risk of the wind shifting
round towards the north, and with the wind N.W. the Alexandrian ships could only fetch the
Syrian coast.
A voyage which Lucian, in his dialogue The Ship, describes as made by a large Egyptian
corn-ship, may be accepted as a fair description of what might occur in the first or second
century; and it illustrates well the course of both the Alexandrian and the Adramyttian ship.
Lucian’s Ship attempted to run direct from Alexandria to Myra. It was off the west point of
Cyprus (Cape Akamas) on the seventh day of its voyage, but was thence blown to Sidon by a
west wind so strong that the ship had to run before it. On the tenth day from Sidon it was caught
in a storm at the Chelidonian islands and nearly wrecked; ten days from Sidon to the islands
would correspond to fully thirteen from Csareia to Myra. Thereafter its course was very slow; it
failed to keep the proper course to the south of Crete; and at last it reached Pirus on the
seventieth day from Alexandria.
2. FROM MYRA TO FAIR HAVENS. (XXVII 7) AND WHEN WE HAD SAILED
SLOWLY MANY DAYS, AND WERE COME WITH DIFFICULTY OFF CNIDOS, AS THE
WIND DID NOT PERMIT our straight course ONWARDS, WE SAILED UNDER THE LEE
OF CRETE, OFF Cape SALMONE; (8) AND COASTING ALONG IT WITH DIFFICULTY,
WE CAME UNTO A CERTAIN PLACE CALLED FAIR HAVENS, NIGH TO WHICH WAS
A CITY LASEA.
From Myra the course of both the Adramyttian and the Alexandrian ship would coincide
as far as Cnidos. But they found great difficulty in making the course, which implies that strong
westerly winds blew most of the time. After a very slow voyage they came opposite Cnidos; but
they were not able to run across to Cythera (a course that was sometimes attempted, if we can
accept Lucian’s dialogue The Ship, as rounded on possible facts) on account of strong northerly
winds blowing steadily in the ˘gean, and threatening to force any ship on the north coast of
Crete, which was dangerous from its paucity of harbours Accordingly, the choice was open either
to put in to Cnidos, and wait a fair wind, or to run for the east and south coast of Crete. The latter
alternative was preferred in the advanced season; and they rounded the eastern promontory,
Salmone (protected by it from a north-westerly wind), and began anew to work slowly to the
west under the shelter of the land. They kept their course along the shore with difficulty until
they reached a place named Fair Havens, near the city Lasea, which, as Smith has shown
conclusively, is the small bay, two leagues east of Cape Matala, still bearing the same name (in
the modern Greek dialect Limew’na"Kalouv"); and there they lay for a considerable time. It is not
stated in the narrative why they stayed so long at this point, but the reason is clear to a sailor or a
yachtsman: as Smith points out, Fair Havens is the nearest shelter on the east of Cape Matala,
whilst west of that cape the coast trends away to the north, and no longer affords any protection
from the north or north-west winds, and therefore they could go no farther so long as the wind
was in that quarter.
The voyage to Cnidos had been slow and hard, and the course along Crete was made with
difficulty. At the best that part of the voyage must always have been troublesome, and as the
difficulty was unusually great in this case, we cannot allow less time between Myra and Fair
Havens than from September 1 to 25. The arrival at Fair Havens is fixed by the narrative; and
thus we get the approximate date, August 17, for the beginning of the voyage from Csareia.
3. THE COUNCIL. (XXVII 9) AND WHEN A LONG TIME ELAPSED, AND
SAILING WAS NOW DANGEROUS (AS THE FAST ALSO WAS ALREADY OVER), PAUL
OFFERED HIS ADVICE (10) IN THESE WORDS: "SIRS, I PERCEIVE THAT THE
VOYAGE IS LIKELY TO BE ACCOMPANIED WITH HARDSHIP AND MUCH LOSS, NOT
MERELY TO SHIP AND CARGO, BUT ALSO TO OUR LIVES". (11) BUT THE
CENTURION WAS INFLUENCED MORE BY THE SAILING-MASTER AND THE
CAPTAIN THAN BY WHAT PAUL SAID. (12) AND, AS THE HAVEN WAS BADLY
SITUATED FOR WINTERING IN, THE MAJORITY of the council APPROVED THE PLAN
TO GET UNDER WEIGH FROM THENCE, AND ENDEAVOUR TO MAKE PHNIX AS A
STATION TO WINTER IN-A HARBOUR THAT FACES SOUTH-WEST AND NORTHWEST.
The groat Fast fell in 59 on Oct. 5, and, as Paul and Aristarchus observed the Fast, Luke
uses it as an indication of date. The dangerous season for navigation lasted from Sept. 14 to Nov.
11, when all navigation on the open sea was discontinued. The ship reached Fair Havens in the
latter part of September, and was detained there by a continuance of unfavourable winds until
after Oct. 5. We might be disposed to infer that the Feast of Tabernacles, Oct. 10, fell after they
left Fair Havens, otherwise Luke would have mentioned it rather than the Fast, as making the
danger more apparent. The picturesque ceremonies of the Tabernacles would have remained in
Luke’s mind; but at sea they were not possible; and the Fast was therefore the fact that impressed
him, as it was observed by Paul and Aristarchus.
In these circumstances a meeting was held to consider the situation, at which Paul was
present, as a person of rank whose convenience was to some extent consulted, whose experience
as a traveller was known to be great. It is characteristic of Luke’s style not to mention formally
that a council was held. He goes straight to what was the important point in his estimation, viz.,
Paul’s advice; then he explains why Paul’s advice was not taken; and in the explanation it comes
out in what circumstances the advice was given. The whole scene forms, in point of narrative
method, an exact parallel to the interview at Paphos (p. 75). We notice also that Luke as a mere
servant could not have been present at the council, and depended on Paul’s report; and his
account follows the order in which Paul would describe the proceedings. We can imagine that
Paul on coming forth, did not formally relate to his two friends that the council met, that the
chairman laid the business before it, and so on, but burst forth with his apprehension that "they
had made a mistake in not taking the prudent course".
At the council it is implied that the centurion was president, while the captain and sailingmaster were merely advisers. To our modern ideas the captain is supreme on the deck of his ship;
and, even if he held a meeting to decide on such a point as the best harbour to lay up in, or
consulted the wishes of a distinguished officer in the military service, yet the ultimate decision
would lie with himself. Here the ultimate decision lies with the centurion, and he takes the advice
of the captain. The centurion, therefore, is represented as the commanding officer, which implies
that the ship was a Government ship, and the centurion ranked as the highest officer on board.
That, doubtless, is true to the facts of the Roman service. The provisioning of the vast city of
Rome, situated in a country where farming had ceased to pay owing to the ruinous foreign
competition in grain, was the most serious and pressing department of the Imperial
administration. Whatever else the Emperor might neglect, this he could not neglect and live. In
the urban populace he was holding a wild beast by the ear; and, if he did not feed it, the beast
would tear him to pieces. With ancient means of transport, the task was a hundred times harder
than it would be now; and the service of ships on which Rome was entirely dependent was not
left to private enterprise, but was a State department. It is, therefore, an error of the Authorised
and Revised Versions to speak of the owner (nauvklhro") of this Alexandrian ship:* the ship
belonged to the Alexandrian fleet in the Imperial service. The captains of the fleet* made
dedications on account of safe passage at Ostia, and Seneca sat in his house at Puteoli and
watched the advance ships sail in announcing the approach of the Alexandrian fleet (Ep. Mor.
77). Passengers were landed at Puteoli; but cargo was carried on to Ostia. As a general rule the
ships sailed in fleets; but, of course, incidental reasons often kept one ship apart (as we see in
XXVIII 11, and in the opening of Lucian’s dialogue TheShip).
Now, there was not in Rome that strict separation between the naval and the military
services which now exists. There was only one service; the same person was at one moment
admiral of a fleet, at another general of a land army and an officer might pass from one branch to
the other. The land-service, however, ranked higher, and a legionary centurion was certainly of
superior rank to the captain of a vessel of the Alexandrian fleet. In this case, then, the centurion
sat as president of the council. Naturally, he would not interfere in navigation, for his life might
pay the forfeit of any error, but the selection of a port for wintering in was more in his line. Now,
it was the regular practice for all Roman officials, who often had to take responsibility in cases in
which they were not competent alone to estimate all the facts, to summon a council (consilium)
of experienced and competent advisers before coming to a decision. Such was the nature of the
meeting here described.
The centurion, very properly, was guided in this matter, against the advice of Paul, by the
opinion of his professional advisers, who were anxious to get on as far as possible before
navigation ceased on November 11, and it was resolved to take any fair opportunity of reaching
the harbour of Phoenix, which was not only further on, but also better protected.
In the council-scene, then, when we put events in their sequence in time, and add those
facts of the situation which Luke assumes as familiar to his readers, we have a vivid and striking
incident, agreeing with the general type of Roman procedure, and yet giving us information
about life on board a Government transport such as we could not find in any other part of ancient
literature.
There has been a good deal of discussion as to the description of the harbour Phoenix, the
modern Lutro, "the only secure harbour in all winds on the south coast of Crete ". This, however,
faces the east, not the west. Smith tries to interpret the Greek words in that sense; but it must be
observed that Luke never saw the harbour, and merely speaks on Paul’s report of the professional
opinion. It is possible that the sailors described the entrance as one in which inward-bound ships
looked towards N.W. and S.W., and that in transmission from mouth to mouth, the wrong
impression was given that the harbour looked N.W. and S.W.
4. THE STORM. (XXVII 13) AND WHEN A MODERATE SOUTHERLY BREEZE
AROSE, SUPPOSING THAT THEY HAD GOT THEIR OPPORTUNITY,* THEY WEIGHED
ANCHOR AND SAILED ALONG THE CRETAN COAST CLOSE IN. (14) BUT AFTER NO
LONG TIME THERE STRUCK DOWN FROM THE ISLAND A TYPHONIC WIND, WHICH
GOES BY THE NAME EURAQUILO. (15)AND WHEN THE SHIP WAS CAUGHT BY IT,
AND COULD NOT FACE THE WIND, WE GAVE WAY AND LET THE SHIP DRIVE. (16)
AND, WHEN WE RAN UNDER THE LEE OF A SMALL ISLAND, CAUDA BY NAME, WE
WERE ABLE WITH DIFFICULTY TO HAUL IN THE BOAT. (17) AND HAVING
UNDERGIRDING IT; AND BEING IN TERROR LEST THEY BE CAST ON "THE GREAT
QUICKSANDS,"THEY REDUCED SAIL, AND LET THE SHIP DRIFT IN THAT POSITION
(viz., laid-to under storm-sails).
One morning, after the council, their chance came with a moderate south wind, which
favoured their westerly voyage. At this point the writer says that they went close inshore; and
this emphatic statement, after they had been on a coasting voyage for weeks, must in a careful
writer have some special force. Cape Matala projected well out to the south about six miles west
of Fair Havens, and it needed all their sailing power to clear it on a straight course. From Luke’s
emphasis we gather that it was for some time doubtful whether they could weather the point; and
in the bright late autumn morning we can imagine every one gathered on the deck, watching the
wind, the coast and the cape ahead. If the wind went round a point towards the west, they would
fail; and the anxious hour has left its record in the single word of v. 13 (a\sson), while the
inability of some scribes or editors to imagine the scene has left its record in the alteration
(qa’sson).
After passing Cape Matala, they had before them a fair course with a favouring breeze
across the broad opening of the Gulf of Messara. But before they had got halfway across the
open bay,* there came a sudden change, such as is characteristic of that sea, where "southerly
winds almost invariably shift to a violent northerly wind". There struck down from the Cretan
mountains, which towered above them to the height of over 7000 feet, a sudden eddying squall
from about east- north-east. Every one who has any experience of sailing on lakes or bays
overhung by mountains will appreciate the epithet "typhonic,"which Luke uses. As a ship-captain
recently said to me in relating an anecdote of his own experience in the Cretan waters, "the wind
comes down from those mountains fit to blow the ship out of the water".
An ancient ship with one huge sail was exposed to extreme danger from such a blast; the
straining of the great sail on the single mast was more than the hull could bear; and the ship was
exposed to a risk which modern vessels do not fear, foundering in the open sea. It appears that
they were not able to slacken sail quickly; and, had the ship been kept up towards the wind, the
strain would have shaken her to pieces. Even when they let the ship go, the leverage on her hull
must have been tremendous, and would in a short time have sent her to the bottom. Paul, who
had once already narrowly escaped from such a wreck, drifting on a spar or swimming for a night
and a day (II Cor. XI 25), justified in his advice at Fair Havens not to run the risk of coasting
further in the dangerous season on a coast where such sudden squalls are a common feature. In
this case the ship was saved by getting into calmer water under the shelter of an island, Cauda
(now Gozzo), about twenty-three miles to leeward.
At this point Smith notices the precision of Luke’s terminology. In v. 4 they sailed under
the lee of Cyprus, keeping northwards with a westerly wind on the beam (uJpepleuvsamen); here
they ran before a wind under the lee of Cauda (uJpodramovnte").
The sailors knew that their only hope was in the smoother water behind Cauda, and kept
her up accordingly with her head to the wind, so that she would make no headway, but merely
drifted with her right side towards the wind ("on the starboard tack").
Here three distinct operations were performed; and it is noteworthy that Luke mentions
first among them, not the one which was the most important or necessary, but the one in which
he himself took part, viz., hauling in the boat. In the light breeze it had been left to tow behind,
and the squall had come down too suddenly to haul it in. While the other operations required
skill, any one could haul on a rope, and Luke was pressed into the service. The boat was
waterlogged by this time; and the historian notes feelingly what hard work it was to get it in, v.
16.
While this was going on, ropes were got out, and the ship undergirded to strengthen her
against the storm and the straining of her timbers. The scholars who discuss nautical subjects
seem all agreed that undergirders were put longitudinally round the ship (i.e., horizontal girders
passed round stem and stern). If any of them will show how it was possible to perform this
operation during a storm, I shall be ready to accept their opinion; but meantime (without entering
on the question what "undergirders,"uJpozwvmata, were in Athenian triremes) I must with Smith
believe that cables were passed underneath round the ship transversely to hold the timbers
together. This is a possible operation in the circumstances, and a useful one.
Luke mentions last what a sailor would mention first, the most delicate and indispensable
operation, viz., leaving up just enough of sail to keep the ship’s head to the wind, and bringing
down everything else that could be got down. It is not certain that he fully understood this
operation, but perhaps the Greek (calavsantes to; skeu’os) might be taken as a technical term
denoting the entire series of operations, slackening sail, but leaving some spread for a special
purpose.
This operation was intended to guard against the danger of being driven on the great
quicksands of the African coast, the Syrtes. These were still far distant; but the sailors knew that
at this late season the wind might last many days. The wind was blowing straight on the sands;
and it was absolutely necessary, not merely to delay the ship’s motion towards them, but to turn it
in a different direction. In the Gulf of Messara, the wind had been an eddying blast under the
mountains; but further out it was a steady, strong east-north-easterly gale.
Dragging stones or weights at the end of ropes from the stern, which is the meaning
elicited by some German commentators and writers on nautical matters, might be useful in other
circumstances; but how that meaning can be got from the Greek words (calavsante" to; skeu’o"), I
confess that I cannot see. Moreover, as we have said, what the sailors wished was not merely to
delay their course towards the Syrtes, but to turn their course in another direction.
Accordingly, the ship drifted, with her head to the north, steadied by a low sail, making
lee-way proportionate to the power of the wind and waves on her broadside. As Smith shows in
detail, the resultant rate of motion would vary, according to the size of the ship and the force of
the wind, between 3/4 and 2 miles per hour; and the probable mean rate in this case would be
about 11/2 miles per hour; while the direction would approximate to 8” north of west. The ship
would continue to drift in the same way as long as the wind blew the same, and the timbers and
sails held; and at the calculated rates, if it was under Cauda towards evening, it would on the
fourteenth night be near Malta.
5. DRIFTING. (XXVII 18) AND, AS WE LABOURED EXCEEDINGLY WITH THE
STORM, THE NEXT DAY THEY BEGAN TO THROW THE FREIGHT OVERBOARD, (19)
AND ON THE THIRD DAY WE CAST OUT, WITH OUR OWN HANDS ACTUALLY, THE
SHIP’S FURNITURE. (20) AND AS NEITHER SUN NOR STARS WERE VISIBLE FOR
MANY DAYS, AND A SEVERE STORM WAS PRESSING HARD ON US, ALL HOPE
THAT WE SHOULD BE SAVED WAS GRADUALLY TAKEN AWAY. (21) AND WHEN
THERE HAD BEEN LONG ABSTINENCE FROM FOOD, THEN PAUL STOOD FORTH IN
MIDST OF THEM, AND SAID: "THE RIGHT COURSE, GENTLEMEN, WAS TO
HEARKEN TO ME, AND NOT TO SET (22) AND MY ADVICE TO YOU IN THE PRESENT
IS TO TAKE HEART; FOR LOSS OF LIFE THERE SHALL BE NONE AMONG YOU, BUT
OF THE SHIP. (23) FOR THERE STOOD BY ME THIS NIGHT AN ANGEL OF THE GOD
WHOSE I AM, WHOM .ALSO I SERVE, (24) SAYING: ’FEAR NOT, PAUL; THOU MUST
STAND BEFORE C˘SAR; AND, LO ! THERE HAVE BEEN GRANTED THEE BY GOD
ALL THEY THAT SAIL WITH THEE’. (25) WHEREFORE TAKE HEART, GENTLEMEN;
FOR I BELIEVE GOD, THAT IT SHALL BE SO AS IT HATH BEEN SPOKEN UNTO ME.
(26) HOWBEIT WE MUST BE CAST ON SOME ISLAND."
In their situation the great danger was of foundering through leakage caused by the
constant straining due to the sail and the force of the waves on the broadside, which ancient
vessels were not strong enough to stand. To lessen the danger, the sailors began to tighten the
ship, by throwing away the cargo. On the day after, the whole company, Luke among them,
sacrificed the ship’s equipment. V 19 is a climax; "with our own hands we threw away all the
ship’s fittings and equipment,"the extreme act of sacrifice. The first person, used in the
Authorised Version, occurs only in some less authoritative MSS., but greatly increases the effect.
The sailors threw overboard part of the cargo; and the passengers and supernumeraries, in eager
anxiety to do something, threw overboard whatever movables they found, which was of little or
no practical use, but they were eager to do something. This makes a striking picture of growing
panic; but the third person, which appears in the great MSS., is ineffective, and makes no climax.
One of the miserable accompaniments of a storm at sea is the difficulty of obtaining food;
and, if that is so in a modern vessel, it must have been much worse in an ancient merchant ship,
inconveniently crowded with sailors and passengers. Moreover, the sacrifice of the ship’s
furniture must have greatly increased the difficulty of preparing food.
Worse than all, the leakage was steadily growing from the straining of the mast, and yet
they dared not cut the mast away, as it alone helped them to work off the dreaded African sands.
Day after day the crew sat doing nothing, eating nothing, waiting till the ship should sink. In
such a situation the experience of many cases shows that some individual, often one not hitherto
prominent, and not rarely a woman, comes forward to cheer the company to the hope of escape
and the courage of work; and many a desperate situation has been overcome by the energy thus
imparted. In this case Paul stood forth in the midst of the helpless, panic-struck crowd. When
caution was suitable (v. 10), he had been the prudent, cautious adviser, warning the council of
prospective danger. But now, amidst panic and despair, he appears cool, confident, assured of
safety; and he speaks in the only tone that could cheer such an audience as his, the tone of an
inspired messenger. In a vision he has learned that all are to escape; and he adds that an island is
to be the means of safety.
6. LAND. (XXVII 27) BUT WHEN THE FOURTEENTH NIGHT WAS COME, AS WE
WERE DRIVEN TO AND FRO IN THE ADRIA, TOWARDS MIDNIGHT THE SAILORS
SURMISED THAT SOME LAND WAS NEARING THEM; (28) AND THEY SOUNDED,
AND FOUND TWENTY FATHOMS; AND AFTER A LITTLE SPACE THEY SOUNDED
AGAIN, AND FOUND FIFTEEN FATHOMS. (29) AND FEARING LEST HAPLY WE
SHOULD BE CAST ON ROCKY GROUND THEY LET GO FOUR ANCHORS FROM THE
STERN, AND PRAYED THAT DAY COME ON. (30) AND AS THE SAILORS WERE
SEEKING TO MAKE THEIR ESCAPE FROM THE SHIP, AND HAD LOWERED THE
BOAT INTO THE SEA, UNDER PRETENCE OF LAYING OUT ANCHORS FROM THE
BOW, (31) PAUL SAID TO THE CENTURION AND THE SOLDIERS, "UNLESS THESE
ABIDE IN THE SHIP, YOU CANNOT BE SAVED". (32) THEN THE SOLDIERS CUT
AWAY THE ROPES OF THE BOAT AND LET HER FALL AWAY. (33) AND WHILE THE
DAY WAS COMING ON, PAUL BESOUGHT THEM ALL TO TAKE SOME FOOD,
SAYING: "THIS DAY IS THE FOURTEENTH DAY THAT YOU WATCH AND CONTINUE
FASTING, AND HAVE TAKEN NOTHING. (34) WHEREFORE, I BESEECH YOU TO
TAKE SOME FOOD, FOR THIS IS FOR YOUR SAFETY; FOR THERE SHALL NOT A
HAIR PERISH FROM THE HEAD OF ANY OF YOU."(35) AND WHEN HE HAD SAID
THIS HE TOOK BREAD AND GAVE THANKS TO GOD IN THE PRESENCE OF ALL;
AND HE BRAKE IT, AND BEGAN TO EAT. (36) THEN WERE THEY ALL OF GOOD
CHEER, AND THEMSELVES ALSO TOOK SOME FOOD. (37) AND WE WERE IN ALL
ON THE SHIP 276 SOULS. (38) AND WHEN THEY HAD EATEN ENOUGH, THEY
PROCEEDED TO LIGHTEN THE SHIP, THROWING OUT THE WHEAT INTO THE SEA.
Luke seems to have had the landsman’s idea that they drifted to and fro in the
Mediterranean. A sailor would have known that they drifted in a uniform direction; but it seems
hardly possible to accept Smith’s idea that the Greek word (diaferomevnwn) can denote a straight
drifting course.
The name Adria has caused some difficulty. It was originally narrower in application; but
in the usage of sailors it grew wider as time passed, and Luke uses the term that he heard on
shipboard, where the sailors called the sea that lay between Malta, Italy, Greece, and Crete "the
Adria". As usual, Luke’s terminology is that of life and conversation, not of literature. Strabo the
geographer, who wrote about A.D. 19, says that the Ionian sea on the west of Greece was "a part
of what is now called Adria,"implying that contemporary popular usage was wider than ancient
usage. In later usage the name was still more widely applied: in the fifth century "the
Adria"extended to the coast of Cyrene; and medival sailors distinguished the Adriatic, as the
whole Eastern half of the Mediterranean, from the ˘gean sea (see p. 298).
On the fourteenth midnight, the practised senses of the sailors detected that land was
nearing: probably, as Smith suggests, they heard the breakers, and, as an interesting confirmation
of his suggestion, one old Latin version reads "that land was resounding".* was now necessary to
choose where they should beach the vessel; for the sound of the breakers warned them that the
coast was dangerous. In the dark no choice was possible; and they therefore were forced to
anchor. With a strong wind blowing it was doubtful whether the cables and anchors would hold;
therefore, to give themselves every chance, they let go four anchors. Smith quotes from the
sailing directions that in St. Paul’s Bay (the traditional scene of the wreck), "while the cables hold
there is no danger, as the anchors will never start". He also points out that a ship drifting from
Cauda could not get into the bay without passing near the low rocky point of Koura, which
bounds it on the east. The breakers here warned the sailors; and the charts show that after passing
the point the ship would pass over 20 fathoms and then over 15 fathoms depth on her course, W.
by N.
Anchoring by the stern was unusual; but in their situation it had great advantages. Had
they anchored by the bow, the ship would have swung round from the wind; and, when
afterwards they wished to run her ashore, it would have been far harder to manage her when
lying with her prow pointing to the wind and away from the shore. But, as they were, they had
merely to cut the cables, unlash the rudders, and put up a little foresail (v.40); and they had the
ship at once under command to beach her at any spot they might select.
As the ship was now lying at anchor near some land, the sailors were about to save
themselves by the boat and abandon the ship to its fate without enough skilled hands to work it;
but Paul, vigilant ever, detected their design, and prevented it. Then, in order that the company
might have strength for the hard work that awaited them at daybreak, he encouraged them once
more with the assurance of safety, urged them to eat with a view thereto, and himself set the
example. There is perhaps an intention in v.35 to represent Paul as acting like Jesus at the last
Passover; and the resemblance is more pointed if the words added in one MS. and some versions
are original, "giving also to us". But it would be necessary to understand "us"to mean only Luke
and Aristarchus (as Dr. Blass agrees); and this is harsh after the word has been so often used in a
much wider sense. It is characteristic of Christianity in all periods to seek after resemblances
between the Founder and any great hero of the faith at some crisis of history; and this addition
seems a later touch to bring out the resemblance.
7. PAUL’S ACTION ON THE SHIP. The account of the voyage as a whole is commonly
accepted by critics as the most trustworthy part of Acts and as "one of the most instructive
documents for the knowledge of ancient seamanship,"(Holtzmann on XXVII 4, p. 421). But in it
many critics detect the style of the later hand, the supposed second-century writer that made the
work out of good and early documents, and addressed his compilation to Theophilus. Many hold
that this writer inserted vv. 21-26, and some assign to him also vv. 33-35, because the character
there attributed to Paul is quite different from his character in the genuine old document,
especially vv. 10 and 31; in the original parts Paul is represented as a simple passenger, cautious
to a degree, suffering from hunger, apprehensive of the future, keenly alive to prospective
danger, and anxious to provide against it: on the other hand, in vv. 21-26 he knows that their
safety is assured; he speaks as the prophet, not the anxious passenger; he occupies a position
apart from, and on a higher plane than human.
This is a fair hypothesis, and deserves fair and dispassionate consideration; no one whose
mind is not already definitely made up on all questions can pass it by; and only those who feel
that they understand the entire narrative in every turn and phrase and allusion would willingly
pass it by, for every real student knows how frequently his knowledge is increased by changing
his point of view.
We may at once grant that the narrative would go on without any obvious awkwardness if
21-26 were omitted, which is of course true of many a paragraph describing some special
incident in a historical work.
But it is half-hearted and useless to cut out 21-26 as an interpolation without cutting out
33-38; there, too, Paul is represented as the prophet and the consoler on a higher plane, though he
is also the mere passenger suffering from hunger, and alive to the fact that the safety of all
depends on their taking food and being fit for active exertion in the morning. Some critics go so
far as to cut out vv. 33-35. But it is not possible to cut these out alone; there is an obvious want
of sequence between 32 and 36, and Holtzmann therefore seems to accept 33-35. But if they are
accepted I fail to see any reason for rejecting 21-26; these two passages are so closely akin in
purport and bearing on the context that they must go together; and all the mischief attributed to
21-26 as placing Paul on a higher plane is done in 33-35.
Further, the excision of 21-26 would cut away a vital part of the narrative. (1) These
verses contain the additional fact, natural in itself and assumed in v. 34 as already known, that
the crew and passengers were starving and weak. (2) They fit well into the context, for they
follow naturally after the spiritlessness described in v. 20, and Paul begins by claiming attention
on the ground of his former advice (advice that is accepted by the critics as genuine because it is
different in tone from the supposed interpolation). "In former circumstances,"says he, "I gave
you different, but salutary advice, which to your cost you disregarded; listen to me now when I
tell you that you shall escape."The method of escape, the only method that a sailor could believe
to be probable, is added as a concluding encouragement.
But let us cut out every verse that puts Paul on a higher plane, and observe the narrative
that would result: Paul twice comes forward with advice that is cautiously prudent, and shows
keen regard to the chance of safety. If that is all the character he displayed throughout the
voyage, why do we study the man and his fate? All experience shows that in such a situation
there is often found some one to encourage the rest; and, if Paul had not been the man to comfort
and cheer his despairing shipmates, he would never have impressed himself on history or made
himself an interest to all succeeding time. The world’s history stamps the interpolation-theory
here as false.
Moreover, the letters of Paul put before us a totally different character from this prudent
calculator of chances. The Paul of Acts XXVII is the Paul of the Epistles: the Paul who remains
on the interpolation theory could never have written the Epistles.
Finally, the reason why the historian dwells at such length on the voyage lies mainly in
vv. 21-26 and 33-38. In the voyage he pictures Paul on a higher plane than common men,
advising more skillfully than the skilled mariners, maintaining hope and courage when all were
in despair, and breathing his hope and courage into others, playing the part of a true Roman in a
Roman ship, looked up to even by the centurion, and in his single self the saviour of the lives of
all. But the interpolation-theory would cut out the centre of the picture.
There remains no reason to reject vv. 21-26 which I can discover, except that it
introduces the superhuman element. That is an argument to which I have no reply. It is quite a
tenable position in the present stage of science and knowledge to maintain that every narrative
which contains elements of the marvellous must be an unhistorical and untrustworthy narrative.
But let us have the plain and honest reasons; those who defend that perfectly fair position should
not try to throw in front of it as outworks flimsy and uncritical reasons, which cannot satisfy for a
moment any one that has not his mind made up beforehand on that fundamental premise. But the
superhuman element is inextricably involved in this book: you cannot cut it out by any critical
process that will bear scrutiny. You must accept all or leave all.
8. ON SHORE. (XXVII 39) AND WHEN IT WAS DAY THEY DID NOT RECOGNISE
THE LAND; BUT THEY WERE AWARE OF A SORT OF BAY OR CREEK WITH A
SANDY BEACH, AND THEY TOOK COUNSEL, IF POSSIBLE, TO DRIVE THE SHIP UP
ON IT. (40.) AND CASTING OFF THE ANCHORS, THEY LEFT THEM IN THE SEA,
WHILST LOOSING THE FASTENINGS OF THE RUDDERS, AND SETTING THE
FORESAIL TO THE BREEZE, THEY HELD FOR, THE OPEN BEACH. (41) AND
CHANCING ON A BANK BETWEEN TWO SEAS, THEY DROVE THE SHIP
ON IT; AND THE PROW STRUCK AND REMAINED IMMOVABLE, BUT THE
AFTER PART BEGAN TO BREAK UP FROM THE VIOLENCE. (42) AND THE SOLDIERS
COUNSEL WAS TO KILL THE PRISONERS, LEST ANY SHOULD SWIM AWAY AND
ESCAPE; (43) BUT THE CENTURION, WISHING TO SAVE PAUL, STAYED THEM FROM
THEIR PURPOSE, AND BADE THEM THAT COULD SWIM TO LEAP OVERBOARD AND
GET FIRST TO LAND, (44) AND THE REST, SOME ON PLANKS, AND SOME ON PIECES
FROM THE SHIP. AND SO IT CAME TO PASS THAT ALL ESCAPED SAFE TO THE
LAND.
No description could be more clear and precise, selecting the essential points and
omitting all others. Smith quotes some interesting parallels from modern narratives of shipwreck.
Some doubt has arisen whether "the bank between two seas"was a shoal separated from
the shore by deep water, or, as Smith says, a neck of land projecting towards the island of
Salmonetta, which shelters St. Paul’s Bay on the north-west. But the active term "drove the ship
on it"(ejpevkeilan) implies purpose, and decides in Smith’s favour. The fact that they "chanced
on a ridge between two seas"might at the first glance seem to imply want of purpose; but, as
Smith points out, they could not, while lying at anchor, see the exact character of the spot. They
selected a promising point, and as they approached they found that luck had led them to the
isthmus between the island and the mainland. In their situation the main object was to get the
ship close up to the shore, and safe from being rapidly and utterly smashed up by the waves. No
place could have better favoured their purpose. The ship (which probably drew eighteen feet of
water) "struck a bottom of mud, graduating into tenacious clay, into which the fore part would
fix itself, and be held fast, while the stern was exposed to the force of the waves". Thus the
foreship was held together, until every passenger got safe to dry land. Only the rarest conjunction
of favourable circumstances could have brought about such a fortunate ending to their apparently
hopeless situation; and one of the completest services that has ever been rendered to New
Testament scholarship is James Smith’s proof that all these circumstances are united in St. Paul’s
Bay. The only difficulty to which he has applied a rather violent solution is the sandy beach: at
the traditional point where the ship was run ashore there is no sandy beach; but he considers that
it is "now worn away by the wasting action of the sea". On this detail only local knowledge
would justify an opinion,
In v. 41 "the violence"is rate expression used by a person standing on the shore and
watching the waves smash up the ship: he does not need to specify the kind of violence. This
expression takes us on to the beach, and makes us gaze on the scene. The humblest scribe can
supply kumavtwn here, and most of them have done so.
9. MALTA. (XXVIII 1) AND WHEN WE WERE ESCAPED, THEN WE LEARNT
THAT THE ISLAND IS CALLED MELITA. (2) AND THE BARBARIANS SHOWED US NO
COMMON KINDNESS; FOR THEY KINDLED A FIRE, AND WELCOMED US ALL,
BECAUSE OF THE PRESENT RAIN AND BECAUSE OF THE COLD. (3) BUT WHEN
PAUL HAD GATHERED A BUNDLE OF STICKS AND LAID THEM ON THE FIRE, A
VIPER CAME OUT BY REASON OF THE HEAT AND FASTENED ON HIS HAND. (4)
AND WHEN THE BARBARIANS SAW THE BEAST HANGING FROM HIS HAND, THEY
SAID TO ONE ANOTHER, "NO DOUBT THIS MAN IS A MURDERER, WHOM, THOUGH
HE HATH ESCAPED FROM THE SEA, YET JUSTICE WILL NOT SUFFER TO LIVE". (5)
HOWBEIT HE SHOOK OFF THE BEAST INTO THE FIRE, AND TOOK NO HARM. (6)
BUT THEY EXPECTED THAT HE WOULD HAVE SWOLLEN OR FALLEN DOWN DEAD
SUDDENLY; BUT WHEN THEY WERE LONG IN EXPECTATION AND BEHELD
NOTHING AMISS COME TO HIM, THEY CHANGED THEIR MINDS, AND SAID THAT
HE WAS A GOD. (7) NOW IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD OF THAT PLACE WERE LANDS
BELONGING TO THE FIRST man OF THE ISLAND, NAMED POPLIUS, WHO RECEIVED
US AND ENTERTAINED US THREE DAYS COURTEOUSLY. (8) AND IT WAS SO THAT
THE FATHER OF POPLIUS LAY SICK OF A FEVER AND DYSENTERY; AND PAUL
ENTERED IN UNTO HIM, AND PRAYED, AND LAYING HIS HANDS ON HIM HEALED
HIM. (9) AND WHEN THIS WAS DONE THE REST ALSO WHICH HAD DISEASES IN
THE ISLAND CAME AND WERE CURED;(10) WHO ALSO HONOURED US WITH MANY
HONOURS, AND WHEN WE SAILED PUT ON BOARD SUCH THINGS AS WE NEEDED.
The name Poplius is the Greek form of the prnomen Publius; but it is not probable that
this official would be called by a simple prnomen. Poplius might perhaps be the Greek
rendering of the nomen Popilius. Yet possibly the peasantry around spoke familiarly of
"Publius"his prnomen simply; and Luke (who has no sympathy for Roman nomenclature) took
the name that he heard in common use. The title "first"technically correct in Melita: it has
inscriptional authority. Doubtless many of the sailors had been at Malta before, for eastern ships
bound for Rome must have often touched at the island, v. 11. "But St. Paul’s Bay is remote from
the great harbour, and possesses no marked features by which it could be recognised"from the
anchorage in the bay.
The objections which have been advanced, that there are now no vipers in the island, and
only one place where any wood grows, are too trivial to deserve notice. Such changes are natural
and probable in a small island, populous and long civilised.
The term "barbarians,"v. 2, is characteristic of the nationality of the writer. It does not
indicate rudeness or uncivilised habits, but merely non-Greek birth; and it is difficult to imagine
that a Syrian or a Jew or any one but a Greek would have applied the name to the people of
Malta, who had been in contact with Phoenicians and Romans for many centuries.
Chapter XV. ST. PAUL IN ROME
1 THE COMING TO ROME. (XXVIII 11) AFTER THREE MONTHS WE SET SAIL
IN A SHIP OF ALEXANDRIA, WHICH HAD WINTERED IN THE ISLAND, WHOSE SIGN
WAS "THE TWIN BROTHERS". (12) AND TOUCHING AT SYRACUSE, WE TARRIED
THERE THREE DAYS. (13) AND FROM THENCE, BY TACKING, WE ARRIVED AT
RHEGIUM. AND AFTER ONE DAY A SOUTH WIND SPRANG UP, AND ON THE
SECOND DAY WE CAME TO PUTEOLI: (14) WHERE, FINDING BRETHREN, WE WERE
CONSOLED AMONG THEM, REMAINING SEVEN DAYS;* AND THEREUPON WE
CAME TO ROME. (15) AND FROM THENCE THE BRETHREN, HEARING THE NEWS
ABOUT US, CAME TO MEET US AS FAR AS "APPIUS MARKET"AND "THREE
TAVERNS": WHOM, WHEN PAUL SAW, HE THANKED GOD AND TOOK COURAGE.
(16) AND WHEN WE ENTERED INTO ROME [the centurion delivered the prisoners to the
stratopedarch, and] PAUL WAS SUFFERED TO ABIDE BY HIMSELF WITH THE SOLDIER
THAT GUARDED HIM [outside of the camp]. ... (30) HIRED DWELLING, AND RECEIVED
ALL THAT WENT IN UNTO HIM, (31) AND PREACHED THE KINGDOM OF GOD, AND
TAUGHT WHAT CONCERNED THE LORD JESUS CHRIST WITH ALL BOLDNESS,
NONE FORBIDDING HIM (see note, p. 362).
The wreck took place before the middle of November (p. 322); therefore they sailed from
Malta in February. That is earlier than the usual beginning of over-sea navigation; but we may
understand that fovourable weather tempted them to an early start; and as the autumn was
unusually tempestuous, it is probable that fine weather began earrly. Luke does not tell what sort
of wind blew, leaving the reader to understand that it was from a southerly quarter (as otherwise
no ancient ship would attempt the over-sea voyage). The wind fell and they had to wait three
days in Syracuse. Then though the breeze was not from the south, they were able by good
seamanship to work up to Rhegium*. Here, after one day, a south wind arosee; and they sailed
across to Puteoli, arriving there on the second day.
The passage probably took not much over twenty-four hours, beginning one day and
ending the following morning: with a following wind, these large merchant vessels sailed fast.
The passengers landed in Puteoli; but the cargo, doubtless, was carried to Ostia, where it had to
be transshipped to smaller vessels which could go up the Tiber to Rome.
Luke mentions the name of the last vessel, but not of any of the others. The reason lies in
the circumstances. He heard the news about the last vessel before he saw it; but he became
acquainted with the others by seeing them. Probably the news that the Dioscuri, of the
Alexandrian Imperial fleet, was lying in the great harbour, reached the shipwrecked party during
the three days when they were in Poplius’s house; and was so noted in Luke’s memoranda. But he
had not the sailor’s mind, who thinks of his ship as a living friend, and always speaks of her by
her name; hence the other ships were to him only means of conveyance, whereas the name of the
Dioscuri was the first fact which he learned about her.
Puteoli, as a great harbour, was a central point and a crossing of intercourse; and thus
Christianity had already established itself there. All movements of thought throughout the
Empire acted with marvellous rapidity on Rome, the heart of the vast and complicated organism;
and the crossing-places or knots* on the main highways of intercourse with the East-Puteoli,
Corinth, Ephesus, Syrian Antioch-became centres from which Christianity radiated. At Pompeii,
which is not far from Puteoli, the Christians were a subject of gossip among loungers in the street
before it was destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79.
The double expression of arrival at Rome in vv.14 and 16 is remarkable; and has caused
much speculation among commentators. Blass is inclined to seek a change of text, giving the
sense "we proceeded on our way (imperfect) to Rome, then we came to Appii Forum, etc., and
finally we entered Rome ". Others prefer other interpretations. But the double expression seems
due to the double sense that every name of a city-state bears in Greek: the word Rome might
either include the entire territory of the city, the XXXV tribes as they were completed in
B.C.241, i.e., the whole ager Romanus, or be restricted to the walls and buildings. Thus v. 13,
"we reached the state Rome,"the bounds of which were probably pointed out as the party reached
them; in 14, "we passed through two points in the ager Romanus"; and in 15, "we entered the
(walls of) Rome"(see p. 111).
It is evident that Paul, when he reached this crisis of his fate, was feeling dispirited; for
the tendency to low spirits is always one of the most trying concomitants of his chronic disorder,
as described in Ch. V § 2. The allusions to the consolation that he received from meeting
Brethren at Puteoli, Appius’s Forum, and the Three Taverns, must be taken as indications of
some marked frame of mind. We have already observed him in a similar state of depression when
he was in Troas and Philippi (p. 283 f.).
When the party reached Rome, the centurion delivered his charge to his superior officer,
who bears the title Chief of the Camp(Stratopedarch) in the Greek text. This title has always
hitherto been interpreted as denoting the Prefect of the Prtorian Guard, stationed in a large
camp adjoining the wails of Rome. But that interpretation is not well suited either to the natural
character of language or to the facts of the Roman service. The title could not properly designate
an officer of such high rank; and the Prtorian Prefect would hardly be concerned with a
comparatively humble duty like the reception of and responsibility for prisoners. The Greek title
Stratopedarch very rarely occurs; and it remained for Mommsen, aided by the form given in an
old Latin version, Princeps Peregrinorum, to explain who the officer really was, and to place the
whole episode of Paul’s Roman residence in a new light (see p. 315).
Augustus had reduced to a regular system the maintenance of communications between
the centre of control in Rome and the armies stationed in the great frontier provinces. Legionary
centurions, called commonly frumentarii, went to and fro between Rome and the armies; and
were employed for numerous purposes that demanded communication between the Emperor and
his armies and provinces. They acted not only for commissariat purposes (whence the name), but
as couriers, and for police purposes, and for conducting prisoners; and in time they became
detested as agents and spies of Government. They all belonged to legions stationed in the
provinces, and were considered to be on detached duty when they went to Rome; and hence in
Rome they were "soldiers from abroad,"peregrini. While in Rome they resided in a camp on the
Clian Hill, called Castra Peregrinorum; in this camp there were always a number of them
present, changing from day to day, as some came and others went away. This camp was under
command of the Princeps Peregrinorum; and it is clear that Stratopedarch in Acts is the Greek
name for that officer (see p. 315).
This whole branch of the service is very obscure. Marquardt considers that it was first
organised by Hadrian; but Mommsen believes that it must have been instituted by Augustus.
2. THE RESIDENCE IN ROME. Paul was treated in Rome with the utmost leniency. He
was allowed to hire a house or a lodging in the city, and live there at his own convenience under
the surveillance of a soldier who was responsible for his presence when required. A light chain
fastened Paul’s wrist to that of the soldier. No hindrance was offered to his inviting friends into
his house, or to his preaching to all who came in to him; but he was not allowed to go out freely.
After the depression of spirit in which Paul entered Rome, Acts concludes with a distinct
implication of easier and more hopeful circumstances. His work went on unimpeded, while the
rest after the fatigue and hardships of the voyage would be beneficial to his physical health (even
though September might afterwards prove unhealthy); and thus the two chief reasons for his
gloomy frame of mind on landing in Italy were removed. He regarded himself as "an ambassador
in a chain"(Eph. VI 20); he asked for the prayers of the Colossians and the Asian Churches
generally for his success in preaching; his tone is hopeful and full of energy and spirit for the
work (1. c., Col. IV 3, 4); and he looked forward to acquittal and a visit to Colossai (Philem. 22).
We may date these letters to Philemon, to Colossai, and to the Asian Churches generally (Eph.)
near the middle of the long imprisonment; an accurate date is impossible, but for brevity’s sake
we may speak of their date as early in 61.
The presence of many friends in Rome also cheered Paul. He had been permitted to take
two personal attendants with him from Csareia; but though his other companions in Jerusalem
were prevented from accompanying him in his voyage, some of them followed him to Rome.
Timothy was with him during great part of his imprisonment, was sent on a mission to Philippi
about the end of 61 (Phil. II 19), and thereafter seems to have had his headquarters in Asia,
whence he was summoned by Paul to join him during his second imprisonment. Tychicus also
joined Paul in Rome in 60, and was sent on a mission to Asia, and especially to the Churches of
the Lycos valley, early in 61. They probably left Csareia when Paul sailed for Rome, visited on
the way their own homes, and arrived in Rome not long after Paul himself.
Moreover, Mark, who had become reconciled with Paul (probably during his residence at
Jerusalem, or his imprisonment in Csareia), came also to Rome. He left Rome in 61,
contemplating an extended tour in the province Asia, in the course of which he would probably
visit Colossai. Oral instructions had been already sent to the Colossians, and, doubtless, other
Pauline Churches (probably by Onesimus and Tychicus), to welcome him as Paul’s deputy; and
Paul writes to the Colossians a formal recommendation of him (IV 10). The terms in which Paul
speaks suggest that he had not taken any active interest in the new Pauline Churches since the
unfortunate quarrel in Pamphylia, and that there was likely to be some coldness towards him
among the Pauline Christians. From this year, apparently, began a new era in Mark’s life. His
work seems to have lain in Asia during the next few years, for about the close of his life Paul
bids Timothy (IV 11) bring Mark with him to Rome, implying that they were near each other;
and Timothy was in Ephesus at the time. Probably Paul had been informed of Mark’s desire to
rejoin him in his troubles. At a later date Mark is associated with the greeting of I Peter V 13 to
the Churches of the provinces of Asia Minor, in such a way as to imply personal acquaintance
with them; and this wide range of work, though not easily reconcilable with the earlier dates
assigned to that Epistle, suits naturally and well the date about 80 (Church in R.E., p. 280 f). On
this view Mark after Paul’s death must have devoted himself to work in the more easterly
provinces of Asia Minor; and returned to Rome ten or twelve years later.
It is remarkable that Luke has not a word to say about the process by which Christianity
spread to Rome; but, according to the plan which we have already seen to be shadowed forth for
the sequel of this history, the process would form part of the contemplated Third Book. That
Book would naturally open with a brief statement of the western dispersion and the planting of
Christianity in Italy, going back for the moment to an earlier date, just as in XI 27 the historian,
when he has to include Antioch in the stage of his drama, turns back to the movement originating
in Stephen’s work. So here he brings Paul to Rome; and thereafter he would probably have made
a new start with the Churches of the West and the new impulse imparted to them by Paul’s
acquittal. We are compelled to make some conjecture on this point; for no one can accept the
ending ofActs as the conclusion of a rationally conceived history. Such an ending might exist in
a diary, which has no determining idea, but not in a history; and we, who work on the hypothesis
that Acts is a history, must strive to understand the guiding idea of an unfinished work.
According to modern ideas, the rapidity with which every movement in the provinces
influenced Rome is a sign of strong vitality and intimate union of the parts of that vast Empire.
The Imperial policy fostered intercommunication and unity to the utmost; and it is not too much
to say that travelling was more highly developed, and the dividing power of distance was weaker,
under the Empire than at any time before or since, until we come down to the present century.
But that fact, which we estimate as probably the best measure of material civilisation, was
regarded with horror by the party of old Roman thought and manners, which was stubbornly
opposed in mind to the Imperial rule, though it was powerless against it. They saw that the old
Roman character was changed, and the old Roman ideals of life and government were destroyed,
by the influx of provincial thoughts and manners. The Orontes was pouring its waters into the
Tiber; Syrian and Greek vices were substituted for Roman virtues; and prominent among these
vices were Judaism, Christianity, and other "debasing superstitions"
The new movement made marked progress in the vast Imperial household; and Paul, in
sending to the Philippian Church the greetings of the Roman Christians, says, "All the saints
salute you, especially they that are of Caesar’s household ". This is quite to be expected. The
Imperial household was at the centre of affairs and in most intimate relations with all parts of the
Empire; and in it influences from the provinces were most certain to be felt early. There can be
no doubt that Lightfoot is right in considering that Christianity effected an entrance into Cesar’s
household before Paul entered Rome; in all probability he is right also in thinking that all the
slaves of Aristobulus (son of Herod the Great) and of Narcissus (Claudius’s favourite freedman)
had passed into the Imperial household, and that members of these two famililang1050 are
saluted as Christians by Paul (Rom. XVI 10 f.).
3. SENECA AND PAUL. Thee question has been much discussed what relation, if any,
existed between Seneca and Paul at this time. A tradition existed in the fourth century that they
had been brought into close relation. It is, however, exceedingly doubtful whether this tradition
had any other foundation than the remarkable likeness that many of Seneca’s phrases and
sentiments show to passages in the New Testament. But, however striking these extracts seem
when collected and looked at apart from their context, I think that a careful consideration of them
as they occur in the books, must bring every one to the conclusion advocated by Lightfoot, by
AubØ, and by many others, that the likeness affords no proof that Seneca came into such relations
with Paul as to-be influenced in his sentiments by him: resemblances quite as striking occur in
works written before Paul came Rome (according to the received, although not always absolutely
certain, chronology of Seneca’s works), as in those written after. Nor was it among the professed
philosophers that Paul was likely to be listened to: they considered that they knew all he had to
say, and could quote from their own lectures a good moral precept to set alongside of anything he
could tell them.
Yet there can be no doubt that some very striking parallels between Senecan and Pauline
sayings occur; and this is true of Seneca to a greater extent than of any other non-Christian
writer. It is possible that the philosophical school of Tarsus had exercised more influence on Paul
than is commonly allowed; and it’is certain that Seneca was influenced by Athenodorus of
Tarsus. Lightfoot refers especially to the fact that both Paul and Seneca "compare life to a
warfare, and describe the struggle after good as a contest with the flesh ". Seneca makes one long
quotation from Athenodorus (de CIem., 4), and in it the idea that life is a warfare is worked out
elaborately; and the saying (Ep. X), "So live with men, as if God saw you; so speak with God, as
if men heard you,"occurs immediately after a quotation from Athenodorus,* and seems to be a
reflection in Seneca’s words of Athenodorus’s intention. Athenodorus lived much in Rome, and
died there in Cato’s house, 60-50 B.C.; but it is probable both that his system exercised great
influence in the university of his own city, and that Paul’s expression and language may contain
traces of his university training in Tarsus.
But though there is no reason to think that Seneca was influenced by Paul’s language or
thoughts, yet there is every reason to think that the liberal policy of the Empire at this period in
religion was due to Seneca’s broad views. It is certain that he had exercised very great influence
on the Imperial policy, since his pupil Nero became Emperor in 54; and it is highly probable that
the energy with which that policy was carried out in the East, and the generous freedom with
which all religious questions were treated during that period, are due to Seneca’s spirit. He is
perhaps the only distinguished politician of the first century who shows some of the wide views
of Hadrian; and it is remarkable that both Seneca and Hadrian were sprung from Spain, being
thus thoroughly Roman and yet absolutely free from the old narrow Roman spirit. It is clear that,
in the later years of Nero’s reign, the Empire began to fall into dangerous disorganisation, while
in his early years the government at home and abroad seems to have been remarkably successful;
and it is not easy to account for the contrast, except by connecting the success with Seneca’s
guiding spirit. Now, the tone which marks the relations of the State to Paul throughout the period
described in Acts , is quite different from that which began in A.D. 64 and subsequently became
intensified. Surely we can best account for the change by the disgrace and retirement of Seneca
in 62: his spirit departed from the administration by rapid steps after that date. Circumstances had
given him for a few years such influence as perhaps never again was exercised by a private
citizen in the Empire. As a rule, the Emperors held the reins of government tight in their own
hands, and allowed no subordinate to exert any influence on the general conduct of affairs; and
there are many great Emperors, but only one great Minister under the Empire, Seneca.
The household of Seneca during his ascendancy was likely to be brought into close
relations with the great movements that were agitating the Empire. It is therefore natural to
expect that the new religion should affect it in some degree, as it did the Imperial household. Nor
are we left to mere conjecture on this point. A remarkable inscription of somewhat later date has
been found at Ostia, "M. Annaeus Paulus to M. Annaeus Paulus Petrus, his very dear son:"the
name "Paul Peter"must be taken as an indubitable proof of religion. These persons possibly
belong to a family of freed men connected with the household of Seneca; but, assuming that, it is
no more admissible to quote this inscription as corroborating Seneca’s traditional subjection to
Christianity, than it would be to quote the strong leaven of Christianity in Csar’s household in
proof of Cesar’s amenability to the same influence.
4. THE TRIAL. It is doubtful why Paul’s trial was so long delayed. Perhaps his
opponents, despairing of obtaining his condemnation, preferred to put off the trial as long as
possible; and there were then, as there are now, many devices in law for causing delay. Perhaps
the case was being inquired into by the Imperial Office: the trial had to take place before the
Emperor or one of his representatives (probably one of the two Prefects of the Prtorian Guard).
The whole question of free teaching of an oriental religion by a Roman citizen must have been
opened up by the case; and it is quite possible that Paul’s previous proceedings were inquired
into.
The trial seems to have occurred towards the end of A.D. 61 Its earliest stages were over
before Paul wrote to the Philippians, for he says, I 12, "the things which happened unto me have
fallen out rather unto the progress of the Good News; so that my bonds became manifest in
Christ in the whole Prtorium, and to all the rest; and that most of the Brethren in the Lord,
being confident in my bonds, are more abundantly bold to speak the word of God without fear".
This passage has been generally misconceived and connected with the period of imprisonment;
and here again we are indebted to Mommsen for the proper interpretation. The Prtorium is the
whole body of persons connected with the sitting in judgment, the supreme Imperial Court,
doubtless in this case the Prefect or both Prefects of the Prtorian Guard, representing the
Emperor in his capacity as the fountain of justice, together with the assessors and high officers of
the court. The expression of the chapter as a whole shows that the trial is partly finished, and the
issue as yet is so favourable that the Brethren are emboldened by the success of Paul’s
courageous and free-spoken defence and the strong impression which he evidently produced on
the court; but he himself, being entirely occupied with the trial, is for the moment prevented from
preaching as he had been doing when he wrote to the Colossians and the Asian Churches
generally.
That Philippians was written near the end of the imprisonment has been widely
recognised, though the powerful opposition of Lightfoot has carried away the general current of
opinion in England. When Paul was writing to the Church at Philippi, his custom of sending his
subordinates on missions had stripped him of companions; and so he says, "I have no man likeminded (with Timothy) who will show genuine care for your state, for they all seek their own,
not the things of Jesus Christ, but ye recognise his proved character"(Phil II 20 f.). It seems
impossible to believe that Paul could have written like this, if he had had with him Tychicus,
"faithful minister and fellow-servant in the Lord,"Aristarchus, Mark, and above all Luke. Yet, if
anything is sure about that period, it is that Aristarchus and Luke had been with Paul from his
arrival in Rome till after Coloss., Philem. and Eph. were written, while Tychicus probably joined
him with Timothy in 60. On our supposition, Mark and Tychicus had already been sent on
missions to Asia; Luke is either the "true yoke-fellow"addressed in Phil IV 3, or was actually the
bearer of the letter to Philippi; Aristarchus also had been sent on a mission during the summer of
61; and Epaphras naturally had returned to the Lycos valley. There remained some friends with
Paul (IV 21), probably Demas among them (Col. IV 14, Philem. 24); but he did not feel sure of
their thorough trustworthiness, and his doubt about Demas was afterwards justified (II Tim. IV
10). Hence his eagerness to get back to the company of real and trusty friends (II 24 fl.).
Amid the general tone of hopefulness and confidence in Philippians, there are some
touches of depression, which may be attributed to the absence of so many intimate friends, to the
increased strain that the trial now proceeding must have put on his powers (p. 94 f.), and to the
probable closer confinement necessitated by the trial, that he might always be accessible in case
of need. There is more eagerness for the issue of the long proceedings manifest in Phil. than in
the other letters from Rome; but it is part of human nature to be more patient when the end is still
far off, and more excited and eager as the end approaches.
The letter to Philippi was not called forth by any dangerous crisis there, as were the
letters to Colossai and to the Asian Churches generally (Eph.). Hence Col. and Eph."exhibit a
more advanced stage in the development of the Church"than Phil. Lightfoot and others are
indubitably right in that point; but their inference that Phil. was written earlier than the others
does not follow. The tone of Col. and Eph. is determined by the circumstances of the Churches
addressed. The great cities of Asia were on the highway of the world, which traversed the Lycos
valley, and in them development took place with great rapidity. But the Macedonians were a
simple-minded people in comparison with Ephesus and Laodiceia and Colossai, living further
away from the great movements of thought. It was not in Paul’s way to send to Philippi an
elaborate treatise against a subtle speculative heresy, which had never affected that Church. His
letter was called forth by the gifts which had been sent by the Philippians; it is a recognition of
their thoughtful kindness; and hence it has a marked character, being "the noblest reflection of
St. Paul’s personal character and spiritual illumination, his large sympathies, his womanly
tenderness, his delicate courtesy"(to use once more the words of Lightfoot). It is plain that he did
not actually need the help that the), now sent; but his gratitude is as warm and genuine as if he
had been in deep need, and he recurs to the former occasions when his real poverty had been
aided by them. The freedom from anxiety about the development at Philippi, and the hearty
affection for kind friends, make this in many respects the most pleasing of all Paul’s letters.
Though prepared to face death if need be, Paul was comparatively confident of the issue
when he wrote to Philippi: "I have the confident conviction that I shall remain and abide for you
all to your progress and joy of believing,"and "I trust that I shall come to you shortly"That he
was acquitted is demanded both by the plan evident in Acts (p. 308) and by other reasons well
stated by others.
5. LAST TRIAL AND DEATH OF PAUL. His later career is concealed from us, for the
hints contained in the Pastoral Epistles hardly furnish even an outline of his travels, which must
have lasted three or four years, 62-65 A.D. At his second trial the veil that hides his fate is raised
for the moment. On that occasion the circumstances were very different from his first trial. His
confinement was more rigorous, for Onesiphorus had to take much trouble before obtaining an
interview with the prisoner (II Tim. I 17): "he fared ill as far as bonds, like a criminal"(II 9). He
had no hope of acquittal: he recognised that he was "already being poured forth as an offering,
and the time of his departure was come". The gloom and hopelessness of the situation damped
and dismayed all his friends: at his first hearing "all forsook"him; yet for the time he "was
delivered out of the mouth of the lion". In every respect the situation thus indicated is the
opposite of the circumstances described on the first trial. Phil. occupies the same place in the first
as II Tim. in the second trial; but Phil. looks forward to a fresh career among the Churches, while
II Tim. is the testament of a dying man. In one respect, however, the second trial was like the
first. Paul again defended himself in the same bold and outspoken way as before, expounding the
principles of his life to a great audience, "that all the Gentiles might hear".
Yet the circumstances of this second trial are totally different from that "short way with
the dissenters"which was customary under Domitian and Trajan and later Emperors. After his
first examination Paul could still write to Asia bidding Timothy and Mark come to him, which
shows that he looked forward to a considerable interval before the next stage of his trial. He was
charged as a malefactor, crimes had to be proved against him, and evidence brought; and the
simple acknowledgment that he was a Christian was still far from sufficient to condemn him, as
it was under Domitian. It is a plausible conjecture of Conybeare and Howson that the first
hearing, on which he was acquitted and "delivered out of the lion’s mouth,"was on the charge of
complicity and sympathy with the incendiaries, who had burned Rome in 64; and that charge was
triumphantly disproved. The trial in that case did not occur until the first frenzy of terror and rage
against the supposed incendiaries was over; and some other species of crime had to be laid to the
account of the Christians charged before the courts. The second and fatal charge, heard later, was
doubtless that of treason, shown by hostility to the established customs of society, and by
weakening the Imperial authority.
If our conception of the trial is correct, the precedent of the first great trial still guided the
courts of the empire (as we have elsewhere sought to prove). It had then been decided that the
preaching of the new religion was not in itself a crime; and that legal offences must be proved
against Christians as against any other subjects of the empire. That was the charter of freedom (p.
282) which was abrogated shortly after; and part of Luke’s design was, as we have seen (p. 307),
to record the circumstances in which the charter had been obtained, as a protest against the
Flavian policy, which had overturned a well-weighed decision of the supreme court.
Note. Text of XXVIII 16. The failure in the great MSS. of the delivery of Paul to the
Stratopedarch is a very clear case of omitting a Lukan detail, which had only a mundane interest;
and the failure of similar details in XXVII 5, XVI 30, etc., may be estimated by the analogy of
this case.
Chapter XVI. CHRONOLOGY OF EARLY CHURCH HISTORY-30-40 A.D.
1. THE STATE OF THE CHURCH IN A.D. 30. The chronological difficulty has
probably weighed with many, as it has with Lightfoot (Ed. Gal. p. 124), in rejecting the
identification which we advocate of the visit in Acts XI with that in Gal. II 1-10. It is therefore
necessary to glance briefly at the chronology of the early chapters of Acts , in order to show that
there is no real difficulty for those who (like Lightfoot) date the Crucifixion in A.D. 30. Our
identification, if proved, would make it certain that the Death of Christ cannot be dated so late as
33.
Luke’s historical method required him in the opening of his Second Book to give a full
account of the first condition of the Church in Jerusalem, and then to concentrate attention on the
critical steps and persons by whom the Universal Church was moulded to the form it had in his
time.
In I, after a short preamble, connecting the narrative with the preceding book, he
describes how the number of the Apostles was filled up. The organisation of the Church was
always a subject of keen interest to Luke; he "evidently had the impression that the guidance of
affairs rested with the Apostles in Jerusalem"(p. 53); and the appointment of this important
official was in his estimation a matter of great moment. Peter took the lead; two were selected by
common agreement and vote; and out of these the lot showed which was preferred by the Divine
will.
In II 1-42 the events of Pentecost (May 26, A.D. 30), and the effect produced on the
character of the converts, are described; and the general state and conduct of this primitive
Church is summed up in II 43-47.
The second part of II 47, "the Lord added to them day by day those that were being
saved,"is one of those phrases in which Luke often hits off a long, steady, uniform process. It is
to be taken as a general description of subsequent progress in Jerusalem, during the course of
which occurred the events next related.
The space devoted by Luke to Pentecost shows that he considered the events of that day
to be of the highest importance. On that day the Divine grace was given to the Apostles,
qualifying them (p. 45) for the work which they were now required to perform since their Master
had left them.
Luke shows true historical insight in fixing the reader’s attention on Pentecost. For the
permanence of a movement of this kind, much depends on the successors of the first leader; and
the issue is determined in the period following the leader’s removal. Has the leader shown that
electrical creative power that remoulds men and communicates his own spirit to his disciples, or
will the movement be found leaderless and spiritless, when the originator is taken away? While
the leader is with his disciples, they have little or no opportunity of showing independence and
originality and capacity for command. When he is re moved from them, the first effect must be
discouragement and a sense of emptiness, proportionate to the influence exerted by the leader.
Then comes the real test, which determines the vitality and permanence of the movement. Has
the spirit of the founder descended on his followers? With Luke, and with all the great leaders of
the first century, that was the test of every new man and every new congregation: had the Spirit
been granted to them?
In the second month after their leader was taken away, on the day of Pentecost, the test
was fulfilled in the primitive Church; and the capacity of his disciples to carry on his work was
shown. They became conscious of the power that had been given them, and their new power was
recognised by the multitude in their words and in their looks. The same impression of a
transformed and recreated nature was made on the elders and scribes, when they examined Peter
and John (IV 13 f., see § 2).
By virtue of that Divine grace, "many wonders and signs were done by the Apostles,"v.
43, during the following time. But it is vital to Luke’s method not to rest contented with. that
general statement, but to give one special, clear example of the power communicated to the
Apostles and to the Church of which they were the leaders. It would be waste of time to regret
that he passes over so much that we should like to know, and devotes so much space to a marvel
that is to us a difficulty: our present aim is to understand the purpose of what he does say, not to
long after what he omits.
The example is given in III; the subsequent events of the same day are narrated IV 1-4;
and the following day is described IV 5-31, when Peter and John, in whom the proof of Divine
grace had been shown forth. were examined before a meeting of "the rulers and eiders and
scribes". These are represented as realising now for the first time, v. 13, the change that had come
over Peter and John, who from "unlearned and ignorant men"had been transformed into bold and
eloquent preachers. Evidently. the historian conceives that this transformation, wrought at
Pentecost, was now beginning to be generally felt; and therefore he is still (as we have said)
describing the immediate issue of Pentecost. Thereafter comes a second general statement of the
state and character of the primitive Church, startlingly similar to II 43-47.
Thus the whole passage II 43-IV 35 hangs very closely together, and describes the
Church in the period immediately succeeding May 26, A.D. 30. Two episodes of this period,
exemplifying the conduct of the true and the false convert, are described IV 36-V 11; and then
comes a third general description of the state of the Church in this period V 12-16, followed by a
statement of the attempt made by the Jewish leaders to coerce the Apostles into silenceV 17-41.
That at least two accounts by two different authorities underlie Luke’s narrative, and have
been worked up by him with little change, seems clear. It is, of course, obvious that he was
entirely dependent for this period of his history on the authority of other persons; and we see in
the Third Gospel how much he was influenced by the very language of his authorities, and how
little change he made on their words. *
2. TRUSTWORTHINESS OF THE NARRATIVE,Acts I-V. It is obvious that the
trustworthiness of this part of Acts stands on quite a different footing from that of the Pauline
narrative, which we have hitherto discussed. The author had means of knowing the later events
with perfect accuracy (so far as perfection can be attained in history); but the means which
helped him there fail in I-V, and the scene and surroundings were to him strange and remote (p.
19 f.). He was here dependent entirely on others, and it was more difficult for him to control and
make himself master of the evolution of events. We discern the same guiding hand and mind, the
same clear historical insight seizing the great and critical steps, in the early chapters, as in the
later; but the description of the primitive Church wants precision in the outline and colour in the
details. It seems clear that the authorities on which Luke depended were not equally good; and
here second-rate incidents are admitted along with first-rate in a way that has done his reputation
serious injury in the estimation of those who begin to study Acts from this, its necessarily
weakest part. One or two examples will bring out our meaning. First we take an incident related
also by Matthew.
Matthew XX VII 5-8=rAC 7:5-8
Acts I 18-19.=rAC 1:18-19
AND HE WENT AWAY AND HANGED HIMSELF. AND THE CHIEF PRIESTS
TOOK THE PIECES OF SILVER, AND SAID, "IT IS NOT LAWFUL TO PUT THEM INTO
THE TREASURY, SINCE. IT IS THE PRICE OF BLOOD". AND THEY TOOK COUNSEL,
AND BOUGHT WITH THEM THE POTTER’S FIELD, TO BURY STRANGERS IN.
WHEREFORE THAT FIELD WAS CALLED THE FIELD OF BLOOD. UNTO THIS DAY.
NOW THIS MAN OBTAINED A FIELD WITH THE
AND FALLING HEADLONG, HE BURST ASUNDER IN
BOWELS GUSHED. AND IT BECAME KNOWN TO
JERUSALEM; INSOMUCH THAT IN THEIR LANGUAGE
AKELDAMA, THAT IS, THE FIELD OF BLOOD.
REWARD OF HIS INIQUITY;
THE MIDST, AND ALL HIS
ALL THE DWELLERS AT
THAT FIELD WAS CALLED
There can be no hesitation in accepting the vivid and detailed description which Matthew
gives of this incident. But, if so, the account given in Acts cannot be accepted as having any
claim to trustworthiness in any point of discrepancy. The character of this account is marked, and
its origin obvious. It is a growth of popular fancy and tradition, which preserved the main facts,
viz., the connection between the name, Field of Blood, and the price paid to the betrayer. But it is
characteristic of popular tradition, while it preserves some central fact, to overlay it with fanciful
accretions, which often conceal completely the historical kernel. In this case, we have the tale
arrested at an early point in its growth, when its elements are still separable. The name Field of
Blood had to be explained suitably to the remembered fact that it was bought with the betrayer’s
reward; but its meaning was mistaken. Popular fancy always craves for justice; it connected the
name with the betrayer’s punishment, took the Blood, which formed one element of the name, as
the betrayer’s blood, and evolved a myth which united fact and retributory justice in a moral
apologue.
It is a remarkable thing that popular tradition should so soon distort a tale so simple and
so impressive. But oriental tradition never clings to fact with anything like the same tenacity as
Greek tradition; and we know how much even the latter distorts and covers over the facts that it
preserves. The oriental mind has little or nothing of the proper historical tone. It remembers facts,
not for their own value, but for the lesson they can convey. It substitutes the moral apologue for
history in the strict sense of the term, craving for the former, and possessing little regard for the
latter. It acts with great rapidity, transforming the memory of the past within the lapse of a few
years; and probably those who know the East best will find least difficulty in believing that the
stow which Luke here gives might have been told him, when the Field of Blood was pointed out
to him at Jerusalem in 57 A.D.
But in this rapid transformation of fact in Eastern popular tradition lies the best safeguard
of the historical student against it. He rarely needs to doubt, as he often must in Greece, whether
any narrative is history or mere popular tradition. Greek tradition often has such a natural
appearance that it is hard to say where fact ends and fancy begins. But oriental tradition is so free
in its creation, so unfettered by any thought of suitability in the accessories, that it is marked off
from history by a broad and deep gap. By history we mean narrative rounded on documents that
are nearly contemporary with the actual facts, or on the accounts of eye-witnesses, not implying
that "history"must be absolutely true. To give a true account even of a single incident that one
has actually participated in is not within the power of all, for it needs education, skill in selection,
and an eye to distinguish the relative importance of different points. To give a true account of a
long series of incidents is, of course, much more difficult. No history is absolutely true; all give
accounts that are more or less distorted pictures of fact. But the conception of history as an
attempt to represent facts in correct perspective, even when it is poorly and feebly carried out, is
a great and sacred possession, which we owe to the Greeks; and is a generically different thing
from popular tradition, which aims either at the moral apologue, or the glow of an individual or a
family, and regards faithfulness to actual facts as quite a secondary thing.
The episode of Ananias and Sapphira V 1 f. excites reasonable suspicion. That Ananias
should be carried forth and buried unknown to his family, unmourned by his kindred and friends,
is not merely contrary to right conduct, but violates the deepest feelings of oriental life. That a
man should be properly lamented and wept for by his family is and has always been a sacred
right, which even crime does not forfeit. But the desire to bring into strong relief the
unselfishness of the primitive Church has worked itself out in a moral apologue, which has found
here an entrance alongside of real history.
Again in II 5-11 another popular tale seems to obtrude itself. In these verses the power of
speaking with tongues, which is clearly described by Paul as a species of prophesying (I Cor. XII
10 f., XIV 1 f.), is taken in the sense of speaking in many languages. Here again we observe the
distorting influence of popular fancy.
Yet alongside of these suspicious stories we find passages which show strongly the
characteristic method of Luke; and the entire plan of the narrative, concentrating attention on the
successive critical steps, is thoroughly Lukan. We take one example of a Lukan passage.
The incident in IV 13 f. is especially characteristic of Luke’s style; and it has been widely
misunderstood. Zeller, Holtzmann, Meyer-Wendt and others, understand these verses to mean
that the members of the Sanhedrim became aware only during the trial that Peter and John had
been disciples of Jesus: which, as they justly point out, is most unnatural and unsuitable. But the
force of the passage seems to be very different: the Jewish leaders perceived the bold and fluent
speech of Peter and John, and yet they observed from their dress and style of utterance that they
were not trained scholars; and they marvelled (for there was then probably an even more marked
distinction than at the present day between the speech and thought of a fisherman or shepherd
and of an educated person); and they further took cognisance of the fact that they were disciples
of Jesus; and they gazed on the man that had been cured standing along with his preservers.
These were the facts of the case: all were undeniable; and all were vividly brought before them.
What conclusion could be drawn from them? The historian’s point is that there was only one
possible inference; and, as the Jewish leaders were unwilling to draw that inference, they
perforce kept silence, not having wherewithal to dispute the obvious conclusion.
Here, as usual, the historian does not himself draw the inference; but merely states the
main facts, and leaves them to tell their own tale. But in no passage does he state the facts in
more dramatic form. The conclusion lies close at hand, rig., that these illiterate fishermen had
acquired the art and power of effective oratory through their having been the disciples of Jesus,
and through the Divine grace and power communicated to them.
We notice also that John’s speech has not previously been mentioned, yet now it is
assumed that he had spoken. This is characteristic of the writer’s style, as we have seen it in the
second part of the work. It is evident that Peter’s single speech did not exhaust the proceedings at
the trial; but Luke assumes that the reader conceives the general situation and the style of
procedure in such trials; and he quotes the most telling utterance, and leaves the rest to the
reader’s imagination.
We are struck with the marked difference of Acts I-V, not merely from the later chapters,
but also from Luke’sFirst Book, the Gospel. In composing his Book I, he had formal works of a
historical kind to use for his authorities (Luke I 1); and he followed them very closely, not giving
scope to his own method of narration or of grouping. But these formal works seem all to have
ended either with the death or the ascension of the Saviour; and the most obscure and difficult
period for a historian writing about 80-85 A.D. was the time that immediately succeeded the
death of Jesus. Luke was dependent here on informal narratives, and on oral tradition; and, if we
be right in our view that he did not live to put the last touches to his work, we may fairly suppose
that the most difficult period was left the least perfect part of the whole. But we must content
ourselves here with this slight indication of a view that would require much minute argument to
state properly. There is a marked resemblance between I-V and XIX. In both, episodes that
savour of popular fancy stand side by side with Lukan work of the best kind.
3. APPOINTMENT OF STEPHEN AND THE SEVEN. The first distinct step in
development from the primitive condition of the Church, when it was a mere small and almost
unorganised community, was due to the pressure of poverty. In Jerusalem very poor Jews were
numerous, and many of them had become Christian. Hence from the beginning the Church had to
contend against a chronic state of want among its adherents. Probably we are apt to find a more
communistic sense than Luke intended in II 44, IV 32; for II 4, IV 35 indicate judicious charity,
and even the action of Barnabas in IV 37 looks more like charity than communism:* he and
others sold their possessions and gave the money in trust to the Apostles for the good of the
Church. In later years, as the Church spread, the pressure of need in Jerusalem acted as a bond to
unite the scattered congregations in active ministration (pp. 49 f., 288); and at the beginning it
stimulated the primitive Church to originate a better organisation.
The difficulties in which the Church was placed, which would have killed a weakly life,
only stimulated its vigour and its creative energy. This creative vitality is to the historian the
most interesting side of the early Church; it was free from dead conservatism; it combined the
most perfect reverence for its earliest form with the most perfect freedom to adapt that form to
new exigencies; it did not stifle growth on the plea that it must remain exactly as it was. It was
growing so rapidly that it burst through its earliest forms, before they could acquire any binding
force, or fix themselves in the prejudices of its members. This free untrammeled expansion was
the law of its life, and the Divine reality of its being. In later times, on the contrary, many of its
adherents have maintained that its Divine life lies in its preserving unchanged from the beginning
the form that was prescribed for it. Thus the view taken in Acts is that the Church’s Divine
character lies in the free unceasing growth of its form and institutions; but the common view of
later times has been that its Divine character lies in the permanence and unchangeability of its
form from the beginning onwards.
At first Luke represents the superintendence and distribution of these charities as
undertaken solely by the Apostles, who soon found that "it was not meet that they should forsake
preaching and perform the ministration at tables"(VI 2). Moreover, in the pressure of claims and
accumulation of duties, complaint was made that the widows among the Hellenist Jews were
neglected in favour of the native Hebrews. It was therefore arranged that a new class of officers
should be instituted,-for whom no name is here given, but who were the origin out of which the
"Deacons"of the developed Church arose.
It is a remarkable fact that the Elders are not mentioned here; and this is one of the points
which show Luke’s want of proper authorities about the primitive Church. When we come to a
period, where his information was good, we find the Elders prominent, and specially in practical
business matters (pp. 52, 166, 171); and there can be no doubt that this characteristic Jewish
institution existed as a matter of course in the primitive Church. The superintendence of relief
measures was recognised as peculiarly their province (XI 30). It seems clear that in the memory
of tradition the Apostles had survived alone as being the far more prominent figures, while the
first Elders had been almost forgotten.
The new officers are here termed simply "Seven Men in charge of this duty"(i.e., septem
viri mensis ordinandis). It would be easy to find Jewish analogies that would explain the original
idea; but it would not be easy to find any Jewish analogy to explain the vitality and adaptability
of the institution. We must turn to Roman organising methods to find anything that will explain
the importance and lasting effect of this step. Roman ideas were in the air; and the vigorous life
of the Church was shown in its power of seizing and adapting to its own purposes all that was
strong and serviceable in the world. It suited itself to its surroundings, and used the existing
political facts and ideas, "learning from the surrounding world everything that was valuable in
it"(p. 149).
The Seven who were appointed bear purely Greek names; and one was not a Jew, but a
proselyte of Antioch. There can, therefore, be no doubt that a distinct step towards the
Universalised Church was here made; it was already recognised that the Church was wider than
the pure Jewish race; and the non-Jewish element was raised to official rank. Nikolaos was a
proselyte of the higher and completer type (p. 43); and his case was therefore quite different in
character from that of Cornelius (p. 42 f.), who was only God-fearing. In the conferring of office
on Nikolaos a distinct step was made; but it was quite in accordance with the principle of the
extreme Judaistic party in the Church (p. 157). The case of Cornelius was a second and more
serious step.
The consequences of this first step in advance were soon apparent. The wider sympathies
and wider outlook of Hellenistic Jews quickened the life of the young community; and Stephen,
especially, was conspicuous for the boldness with which he advocated the faith and opposed the
narrowness of Judaism, saying, as his accusers alleged, "that this Jesus or Nazareth shall destroy
this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered unto us ". Even though this is a
perversion of Stephen’s meaning, yet the form implies that Stephen had advanced beyond the
previous position of the Apostles as regards their relation to Judaism.
The critical point in chronology is to determine the date or Stephen’s accusation and
martyrdom. Luke gives us no clear evidence as to the length of the two periods that he describes,
viz., (1) between Pentecost and the election of the Seven, (2) between the election and the death
of Stephen. The latest date which our view leaves open is A.D. 33, for Paul’s conversion
followed shortly after Stephen’s death, and in the fourteenth year after his conversion he visited
Jerusalem for the second time, probably in 46 (though 45 is not absolutely excluded, pp. 51, 68).
Can we suppose that the necessity for the admission of the Hellenistic Jews to official rank was
felt already in A.D. 32, and that Stephen’s brief career ended in 33? The space of two years has
seemed sufficient to many scholars; some have been content with one. The difficulties which the
primitive Church had to meet by appointing the Seven faced it from the first; and that step was
probably forced on it very soon. The wider spirit shown in the selection of the Seven was likely
to cause an early collision with Jewish jealousy; and the party which had cut off Jesus was not
likely to suffer His followers to increase so rapidly without an effort to stop the movement. Now
the persecution that caused and followed Stephen’s death was the first attempt at coercion; the
actions described in IV 5 f. and V 17 f. were mere warnings and threats, which naturally resulted
soon in active measures. We cannot easily believe that repressive measures were delayed more
than two or three years at the utmost; we should rather have expected them even sooner.
It is therefore quite fair to date Stephen’s death about two and a half or three years after
the great Pentecost.
4. PHILIP THE EVANGELIST AND PETER. After the death of Stephen, the history
widens, and several threads appear in it. The foundation of a series of Churches over Judea and
Samaria is first described; and the author’s attention is directed chiefly on three steps in the
progress towards the Universalised Church, the foundation of an extra-Judean Church in the city
of Samaria, and the admission of an Ethiopian*and of a Roman centurion as Christians. These
steps are connected with the names of Philip and Peter. The institution of a series of Churches in
Palestine, a process which must have occupied a long time, is briefly but clearly indicated in VIII
40, IX 31-35, 42f; but Luke’s personal interest in the expansion of a still purely Judaic Church
was not great. Yet the episodes of ˘neas and Dorcas,IX 33-42, show that, though the details
seemed to Luke not required for his purpose, the spread of the Church over Palestine was
conceived by him as an important step in history. These episodes are introduced, because they
proved that the Divine power worked in the process whereby the Church of Jerusalem expanded
into the Church of all Palestine. In the utter absence of statement as to Luke’s authority for the
two episodes, they cannot be placed by the historian on a higher level than general belief. It is
remarkable that we have no knowledge whether Luke ever met Peter. The want of any reference
to Peter in XXI 18 must, in our view, be taken as a proof that he was not in Jerusalem at the time.
In the midst of the narrative describing this expansion is interposed an account of Saul’s
life during the three years 33-5;* and this arrangement is obviously intended to bring out the long
period over which that process of expansion was spread. According to our theory it continued
from A.D. 33 until it was checked to some extent by the development of the Pauline idea and the
jealousy roused thereby among almost all Jews except the great and leading minds, which were
able to rise more or less completely above it. Then came the supreme catastrophe of the great
war, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the suppression of "the Nation"of the Jews.
The expansion of the Church beyond Palestine is first alluded to in XI 19, where the
dispersion of missionaries over Phnice, Cyprus, and Syria is mentioned (Ch. III, § 1). It is
remarkable that Luke never alludes to the development of the Church towards the south or east.
Yet the dispersion that followed Stephen’s death must have radiated in all directions; and II 7-11,
and VIII 27 f., lead naturally to some general spread of the new teaching in all directions. It is
obvious that Luke has not made it his object to write the history of the whole expansion of the
Church; but selected the facts that bore on a narrower theme, viz., the steps by which the Church
of Jerusalem grew into the Church of the Empire, and the position of the Church in the Empire.
Egypt, Ethiopia, and the East and South are therefore excluded from his narrative.
5. PAUL IN JUDEA AND ARABIA. The introduction of Paul is connected with the
death of Stephen: he was then a young man, and probably was entering for the first time on
public life. At this point the subjective touch in VIII 1, "Saul was consenting unto his death,"is a
clear indication that Luke’s authority was Paul himself. The phrase is a confession of inward
feeling, not a historian’s account of action; and the words are Paul’s own (XXII 20). A dramatic
touch like this is, on our theory, deliberately calculated. Luke intends to set before his readers the
scene at Csareia, where Philip narrated the story of Stephen and of his own early work, and
Paul interposed the agonised confession of VIII 1 The narrative from VI 9 to VIII 39 probably
reproduces Philip’s words very closely; while Luke has inserted touches, as VII 58, VIII 1, and
adapted the whole to his plan.*
The slight variations in the three accounts of Paul’s conversion do not seem to be of any
consequence. Luke did not seek to modify Paul’s speeches in order to produce verbal conformity
with the account which seemed to him to represent the facts fairly; but the spirit and tone and the
essential facts are the same, IX 3-18, XXII 6-16,XXVI 12-18.
Two difficulties, however, deserve notice in the account of Paul’s conduct during the first
years after his conversion. In the first place, why does Luke say nothing about Paul’s journey into
Arabia? But we have no authority for believing that the journey was of such importance as to
require a place in this history, for Luke does not enumerate all the influences that moulded Paul’s
development. Paul’s reference to the incident (Gal. I 17) is clear and complete in itself, if it was
not a serious journey, but a small episode in his private life. "When it pleased God to call me to
the work of my life, so far was I from needing counsel or instruction from Jerusalem, that I
retired into Arabia, and came back again to Damascus."Damascus was at the time subject to the
King of Arabia Petra; and the natural interpretation is that a person describing incidents of his
experience in Damascus means by Arabia the adjacent country on the east. Had this excursion
been an important step in the development of Paul’s thought (as Lightfoot inclines to think, when
he sees in it a sojourn on Mount Sinai after the style of Moses), Luke might be expected to
mention it and show how much underlies Paul’s words; but, as he does not mention it, the fair
inference is that there was no more in it than Paul says explicitly.
Moreover, Luke divides Paul’s stay in Damascus into two periods, a few days residence
with the disciples IX 19, and a long period of preaching 20-23. The quiet residence in the country
for a time, recovering from the serious and prostrating effect of his conversion (for a man’s life is
not suddenly reversed without serious claim on his physical power), is the dividing fact between
the two periods. The division is certainly very awkwardly and insufficiently indicated; but Luke
everywhere shows similar weakness in indicating the temporal relations of events.
In the second place, the accounts of Paul’s first visit to Jerusalem, in the third year after
his conversion, are obscure. In Gal. I 18 f. Paul says he went up to see Peter (evidently regarding
him as the leading spirit in the development of the Church), and saw no other Apostle, except
James the Lord’s brother. But in Acts IX 28 f. "he was with the Apostles going in and going out
at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. And he spake and disputed against the
Grecian Jews; but they went about to kill him."In weighing this account we must bear in mind
Luke’s intention: he conceived the Apostles as the permanent governing body in Jerusalem (p.
53), and they dwarfed in his estimation any other administrative body in the primitive Church (p.
374). Here, therefore, he speaks loosely of "the Apostles,"meaning the governing body of the
Church, without implying that they were all present in Jerusalem. It was one of his objects to
insist on the agreement between Paul and the leaders of the Church; and he distinctly had, and
communicates, the impression that the opposition of the extreme Judaistic party to Paul was
factious, and was condemned by the leaders. It therefore seemed important to him to emphasise
the harmony between Paul and the Jewish leaders at this first visit; and, though most of the
Apostles were absent, yet the two real leaders were present. We certainly should not naturally
infer from Luke’s words that the visit lasted only fifteen days; but there is no real difficulty in
supposing that Paul’s life was at this time in danger from the first. He had deserted his former
friends, and they would feel towards him the hatred that always pursues a deserter.
On the other hand, XXVI 20 is distinctly in contradiction with all other authorities; but,
as Dr. Blass points out, the Greek is solecistic, and his altered reading, "in every land to both
Jews and Gentiles,"seems to me to carry conviction with it.*
The difficulty with regard to the interval between Paul’s first and second visit to
Jerusalem (which we consider to have been only eleven years, whereas many take it as fourteen,
Gal. II 1) disappears when we take the Greek in its real sense. Paul says to the Galatians, "Then,
in the third year,* I went up to Jerusalem . . . then, when the fourteenth year was ending ". The
two reckonings go together, and are estimated from the same starting-point.
Chapter XVII. COMPOSITION AND DATE OF ACTS.
1. HYPOTHESIS OF "THE TRAVEL DOCUMENT". We have seen that Luke
represents himself as having been an eye-witness of some of the incidents which he describes;
and we have inferred, from the pointed way in which he does this, that he was not an eye-witness
of the rest. In the parts where he had no personal knowledge his trustworthiness depends on his
authority in each case. In a former work I have tried to show that there lies behind the narrative
of Paul’s journeys a document originating "from a person acquainted with the actual
circumstances,"and therefore "composed under St. Paul’s own influence". I was careful "to
express his influence in the most general terms, and to avoid any theorising about the way in
which it was exercised"; and I purposely left the question untouched whether the "TravelDocument"was composed by the author of Acts or by a different person; for my object then was
to show that the document was a trustworthy record of facts, to avoid constructing a system, to
investigate each fact independently on its own evidence, and to give no opening to the criticism
that I was twisting the evidence at any point in order to suit an idea derived from elsewhere.
In the present work the reasons on which the supposition of a "Travel-Document"was
rounded are much strengthened; and we must now put the question in a more precise form. What
is the relation between the "Travel-Document"and the completed text of Acts? To this the answer
must be that the "Travel Document"was Luke’s own written notes (supplemented by memory,
and the education of further experience and reading and research). His diary, where he was an
eye-witness, and his notes of conversation with Paul, and doubtless others also, were worked into
the book of Acts suitably to the carefully arranged plan on which it is constructed. We have
found traces of deep and strong emotion which must be understood as Paul’s own feeling: the
technical term for making a missionary progress through a district* is used only by Paul (I Cor.
XVI 5) and by Luke in describing Paul’s work;* while in describing the precisely similar work of
other missionaries, he uses a different and a more usual Greek construction.* This line of
investigation might be carried much further so as to show that Luke everywhere follows with
minute care the best authority accessible to him; and in Acts especially Paul and Philip. As we
have seen, Ch. XVI, § 2, the period in which he found greatest difficulty was that which
intervened between the conclusion of his formal historical authorities for the life of the Saviour,
and the beginning of the careful narratives which he had noted down from Paul and Philip about
their own personal experiences.
One episode, which bears all the marks of vivid personal witness, comes under neither of
these categories, viz., the story of Peter’s imprisonment and escape, XII. Here some other
authority was used; and the narrative suggests distinctly that the authority was not Peter himself,
but one of those in the house of Mary. John Mark, who is pointedly mentioned as being in
Jerusalem, XII 25, and who was afterwards with Luke and Paul in Rome, was almost certainly (v.
12) the ultimate authority here.
Luke added to these authorities an obvious acquaintance with Paul’s own letters. He
rarely states anything that is recorded in them; he assumes them as known; and he makes it one
of his objects to set them in a clearer light.
The whole of his materials he used with the true historical sense for the comparative
importance of events and for the critical steps in a great movement, and also with a wide and
careful study of the general history of the contemporary world (i.e., the Roman Empire). The
research which Luke applied in the execution of his work is shown with especial clearness in the
chronological calculations which he introduced in Book I (similar to those which he would
probably have added in Book II, see p. 23). These calculations deserve fresh study with a view to
estimate the work which the author has compressed into them. The accuracy of one of them (viz.,
the statement about Philip in Luke III 1) I have defended elsewhere, and, as I believe, on grounds
which would carry conviction to every one, were it not that they are inconsistent with the
dominant North-Galatian theory. Again the census (Luke II 1 )under Quirinius is pointedly called
the first, implying that it was the first of a series of census. A census is known to have been made
in Syria by Quirinius in his second government, about 6 A.D., which suggests that they were
perhaps decennial. We have no other evidence as to a census in 5-4 B.C.; but when we consider
how purely accidental is the evidence* for the second census, the want of evidence for the first
seems to constitute no argument against the trustworthiness of Luke’s statement. It is certain that
the dependent kingdoms paid tribute to Rome exactly as if they had been part of the Empire; and
it is in perfect accord with the methodical character of Augustus’s administration that he should
order such census to be made regularly throughout "the whole world". Incidentally we observe in
this phrase that Luke’s view is absolutely confined to the Roman Empire, which to him is "the
world". Luke investigated the history of this series of census.
2. DATE OF THE COMPOSITION OF ACTS. The elaborate series of synchronisms by
which Luke dates the coming of John the Baptist are especially remarkable; and it is to them we
turn for evidence as to the date of composition. On our view the Crucifixion took place at the
Passover of A.D. 30, the fourth Passover in the public career of Jesus. Now John was six months
older than Jesus; and his career began in his thirtieth year, a little before the coming of Jesus.
Thus we reach the conclusion that the synchronisms of Luke III 1, 2, are calculated for the
summer (say July) of A.D. 26; and he calls this year the fifteenth of the reign of Tiberius,
implying that he reckoned his reign to begin A.D. 12, when Tiberius was associated by Augustus
in the Empire. But such a method of reckoning the reign of Tiberius was unknown. According to
Roman reckoning, Tiberius, in July A.D. 26, was either in his twelfth year (reckoning from the
death of his predecessor) or in his twenty-eighth year (reckoning his tenure of the tribunician
power). No other way of reckoning his reign was ever employed by Romans. How then could
Luke speak of his fifteenth year? There can hardly be any other reason than that the calculation
was made under an Emperor whose years were reckoned from his association as colleague; so
that Luke, being familiar with that method, applied it to the case of Tiberius. Now that was the
case with Titus. His reign began from his association with his father on 1st July A.D. 71.
We thus get a clue, though in itself an uncertain one, to suggest the date when Luke was
at work. His chronological calculations were probably inserted as the finishing touches of Book I
(p. 23), while Titus was reigning as sole Emperor, 79-81 A.D.; and the composition of that book
belongs to the years immediately preceding, while the composition of Book II belongs to the
years immediately following. This argument, taken by itself, would be insufficient; but it is
confirmed by the impression which the book as a whole makes. Acts could not have been written
so late as Trajan, when long persecution had altered the tone and feeling of the Church towards
the State. It is the work of a man whose mind has been moulded in a more peaceful time. and
who has not passed through a time like the reign of Domitian (p. 22). On the other hand, its tone
is not that of assured conviction about the relation to the State, such as we observe in Paul’s
Epistles. It is the tone of one who seeks to prove a position that is doubtful and assailed, but still
of one who believes that it may be proved. As we have seen, there runs through the entire work a
purpose which could hardly have been conceived before the State had begun to persecute on
political grounds. So long as Christians were proceeded against merely on the ground of crimes,
which the accuser sought to prove by evidence (as was the case with Paul, p. 360), there was no
necessity to establish that Christianity was legal. Defence then consisted in disproving the
specific crimes charged against the individual Christian; but, after the Flavian policy had
declared Christianity illegal and proscribed the Name, the first necessity for defence was to claim
legal right.
3. THEOPHILUS. It has an important bearing on Luke’s attitude towards the Roman State
that his work is addressed to a Roman officer,* who had become a Christian. We may safely say
that in the first century a Roman official would hardly bear the name Theophilus; and therefore it
must be a name given to him at baptism, and used or known only among the Christians. The fact
that his public name is avoided, and only the baptismal name used, favours the supposition
(though not absolutely demanding it) that it was dangerous for a Roman of rank to be recognised
as a Christian. In the narrative of Acts there is not the slightest trace of private or baptismal
names. These seem to have been adopted under the pressure of necessity and from the desire for
concealment. Thus the very dedication of the work points to a developed state of the relations
between Church and State, and carries us down to the time of Domitian.
4. THE FAMILY OF LUKE. We have made it an object to collect the scanty traces of
Luke’s personality that remain in Acts; and we may therefore conclude our task by referring to
the tradition about his birthplace. The later tradition, as it appears in Jerome, Euthalius, etc.,
declares that Luke was an Antiochian,* but it is practically certain that the authority for all the
later statements is Eusebius. Eusebius, however, does not say that Luke was an Antiochian; he
merely speaks of him as "being according to birth of those from Antioch".* This curious and
awkward expression is obviously chosen in order to avoid the statement that Luke was an
Antiochian; and it amounts to an assertion that Luke was not an Antiochian, but belonged to a
family that had a connection with Antioch. Eusebius therefore had access to a more detailed and
distinct tradition, which he reproduces in this brief form. The older tradition must have told that
Luke had a family connection with Antioch; and Eusebius carefully restricts himself to that
statement; but the tradition probably set forth the exact connection, and it is perhaps allowable to
conclude our study with a conjecture.
Antioch, as a Seleucid foundation, had almost certainly a Macedonian element in its
population. It is now well established that the military strength of the Seleucid colonies lay
usually in a contingent of Macedonians; and a considerable number of Seleucid cities style
themselves Macedones on coins or inscriptions. It is quite probable that intercourse and
connection may have been maintained between the Macedonian element in Antioch and their
original home; and migrations to and fro are likely to have occurred between Macedonia and
Antioch in the constant and easy intercourse of the centuries following the foundation. Thus it
may very well have happened that Luke was a relative of one of the early Antiochian Christians;
and this relationship was perhaps the authority for Eusebius’s carefully guarded statement.
Further, it is possible that this relationship gives the explanation of the omission of Titus from
Acts, an omission which every one finds it so difficult* to understand. Perhaps Titus was the
relative of Luke; and Eusebius found this statement in an old tradition, attached to II Cor. VIII
18, XII 18, where Titus and Luke (the latter not named by Paul, but identified by an early
tradition) are associated as envoys to Corinth. Luke, as we may suppose, thought it right to omit
his relative’s name, as he did his own name, from his history. There is not sufficient evidence to
justify an opinion; but this conjecture brings together an enigmatic expression in Eusebius and a
serious difficulty in Acts, and finds in each a satisfactory solution of the other.
III.-CHRONOLOGICAL INDEX TO THE LIFE OF ST. PAUL
Entrance on public life (in his thirtieth year); see Preface, Ed. II.A.D. 30 or 31
Events culminating in the death of Stephen pp. 363-37630.33
Journey to Damascus and Conversion 376, 378 note (year ending 2nd Sept.)33
Retirement into Arabia 38034
First visit to Jerusalem 38135
Residence in Tarsus, etc. 4635-43
Barnabas brings Saul to Antioch 4543
The Prophecy of Agabus 49early in 44
The famine in Jerusalem begins with failure of harvest 49-54, 6845
Second visit to Jerusalem 55-62winter 45-46
Return to Antioch 62-64winter 46-47
First journey ordered 64-67 not later than Passover, 29th March, 47In Cyprus 70-88
(Church* p. 60 f.)till July 47
In Pamphylia 89-97 (Church 16-18, 61-65)July 47
In Pisidian Antioch 98-107 (Church 25-27, 66-68)till winter of 47
In Iconium (Church 36-46, 68)till summer 48
In Lystra 110-119, 128 (Church 47-54, 68 f..till autumn 48
In Derbe 120 (Church 54-55, 59)winter 48-49
Return by stages through Lystra, Iconjura, Antioch, and across
Pisidia 120-123 (Church 70-73)Feb.-May 49
Short stay in Perga 124 (Church 72)June-July 49
Return by Attalia to Syrian Antioch 125August 49
Third visit to Jerusalem: the Council 153-174winter 49-50
Second journey begins 176 after the Feast, 25th March to 1st April 50
In Galatia 178-189summer 50
Across Asia to Troas 194-212, 225 f.about Oct. 50
In Philippi 213-226, 235till about Dec. 50
In Thessalonica 227-231, 235 f.Dec. 50-May 51
In Berea 232-234May-July 51
In Athens 234, 237-252, 260 f.August 51
In Corinth 252-261, 264 Sept. 51 to March 53
Arrival of Gallio 258 f.July 52
Fourth visit to Jerusalem 263-266 at the Feast, 22nd-29th March 53
Short visit to Syrian Antioch: epistle to Galatians 265, 184-192May 53
Third Journey begins 265about June 53
In Galatia 265July and August 53
In Ephesus, 265. 269-282Oct. 53 to Jan. 56
Wrote first Epistle to Corinthians 275about Oct. 55
In Troas 283Feb. 56
In Macedonia 286till late autumn 56
Wrote second Epistle to Corinthians 286summer 56
In Achaia three months 285Dec. 56 to Feb. 57
Journey to Philippi 287March 57
Start from Philippi for Troas on the way to Jerusalem 28915th April 57
Fifth visit to Jerusalem: arrival 295(day before) Pentecost, 28th May 57
Imprisonment in PalestineJune 57 to July 59
Voyage to Rome 314-345August 59 to Feb. 60
In Rome 346-360 until end of 61
Epistles to Colossians and Philemon 349 early in 61
Epistle to Philippians 357late in 61
Trial and acquittal 356-360end of 61
Later travels 36062-66
Second trial 300-36267
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