Acts 21



1 “And it came to pass, that after we were gotten from them, and had launched,

we came with a straight course unto Coos, and the day following unto Rhodes,

and from thence unto Patara:”  When it came to pass that we were parted from

them, and had set sail for it came to pass, that after we were gotten from them,

and had launched, Authorized Version; Cos for Coos, Authorized Version and

Textus Receptus; next day for day following, Authorized Version. Parted from them

(ἀποσπασθέντας  - apospasthentas – being pulled away). "Non sine desiderio magno"

(Bengel). "He shows the violence of the parting by saying, ' Having torn ourselves

away '" (Chrysostom). The word is properly applied to those who have been

unwillingly torn away from their friends (Schleusner and Kuinoel); "denotes the

painful separation wrung from them by necessity" (Meyer) In ch. 20:30 it was

used in the active voice of false teachers "drawing away" the disciples, i.e.

Christians, after them. In II Maccabees 12:10 it means simply “withdrawn,"

and so perhaps also in Luke 22:41, though Meyer thinks that Luke chose the

unusual word to denote the urgent emotion by which our Lord was as it were

compelled to leave the companionship of the apostles, and be alone. Σπᾶν

Span (whence spasm) and its derivatives, of which Luke uses four - two of

which are peculiar to him - are much employed by medical writers, as Hippocrates,

Galen, Antaeus, etc. (Hobart, on Luke 22.). Had set sail (ἀναχθῆναι ἡμᾶς

anachthaenai haemas – we set out). The word means" to go up to the sea from the

land," as ch. 13:13; 16:11; 27:12;  Luke 8:22; just as, on the contrary, κατάγειν –

katagein -  and κατάγεσθαι – katagesthai - are used of coming down

to land from the sea (see v. 3 in the Textus Receptus, and ch. 27:3; 28:12).

The same conception of putting out to sea being a going up, led to the phrase

μετέωρος  - meteoros - high up) being applied to ships out at sea. From μετέωρος

comes, of course, our word "meteor." Cos, or Coos, for it is written both ways,

now called by the Turks Stanko (ἐς τὰν Κῶ - es tan Ko), a beautiful island, nearly

opposite the Gulf of Halicarnassus, and separated from Cnidus by a narrow strait,

about six hours' sail from Miletus. There is a city of the same name on its eastern

coast. It was one of the six Dorian colonies which formed the confederation called

the Dorian Hexapolis. It was famous for its wine and its textile fabrics (Howson,

and Lewin, and 'Dict. of Geog.'). Rhodes (Ρόδος); perhaps the "Isle of Roses;"

the well-known mountainous island in the AEgean Sea, which lies nine or ten miles

from the coast of Caria. Its inhabitants were Dorians, and it was one of the places

which claimed the honor of being the birthplace of Homer. The towns are all situated

on the seacoast, "Rhodes was the last Christian city to make a stand against the

Saracens" (Howson). Patara ([τὰ] Πάταρα). A flourishing commercial city on the

south-west coast of Lycia, with a good harbor. It was the port of Xauthus, the capital

of Lycia. The name Patera is still attached to some extensive ruins on the seashore

not far from the river Xanthus.


2 “And finding a ship sailing over unto Phenicia, we went aboard, and set forth.”

Having found a ship crossing for finding a ship sailing, Authorized Version;

Phoenieia for Phenicia, Authorized Version; set sail for set forth, Authorized Version.

Having found a ship. The ship in which Paul and his companions had hitherto sailed

was probably a coasting-vessel, intending to continue its course all along the south

coast of Asia Minor. But at Patara they found a ship on the point of sailing across

the open sea direct to Tyre, by which the voyage would be shortened many days.

They accordingly immediately took their passage by it, and put out to sea

(ἀνήχθημεν – anaechthaemen – we set out, v. 1, note). A glance at the map will

show what a great corner was thus cut off. A straight line from Patara to Tyre

leaves Cyprus just on the left.



3 “Now when we had discovered Cyprus, we left it on the left hand, and sailed

into Syria, and landed at Tyre: for there the ship was to unlade her burden.”

And for when, Authorized Version; come in sight of for discovered, Authorized

Version; leaving it... we sailed for we left it... and sailed, Authorized Version;

unto for into, Authorized Version. Had come in sight of; literally, had been

shown Cyprus; had had Cyprus made visible to us; i.e. had sighted Cyprus.

It is a nautical expression. Meyer compares the phrase πεπίστευμαι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον

pepisteumai to euaggelion - for the grammatical construction. The verb ἀναφαίνω

(appear suddenly) is peculiar to Luke, occuring elsewhere in the New Testament

only in Luke 19:11. It is, however, used repeatedly in the Septuagint of Job.

Landed; κατήχθημεν – kataechthaemen - , Textus Receptus, just the opposite

to the ἀνήθημεν (setting out) of v. 2; but the Received Text. has κατήλθομεν –

kataelthomen - , with the same meaning, "we came to shore." At Tyre, which

they may have reached in about forty-eight hours from Patara with a fair wind

(Howson). Tyre at this time was still a city of some commercial importance, with

two harbors, one north and one south of the causeway which connected the island

with the mainland (see ch. 12:20). Howson thinks the ship in which  Paul sailed

may have brought wheat from the Black Sea, and taken up Phoenician wares in

exchange. The sight of Cyprus as he sailed by must have brought many and very

various memories to the apostle's mind, of Barnabas, of Sergius Paulus, of Elymas,

and many others.


4 “And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through

the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.”  Having found the disciples

for finding disciples, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; and these for who,

Authorized Version; set foot in for go up to, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus.

Having found the disciples, If the Received Text is right, the meaning is that they had

sought out the Christians, apparently not a large body, scattered in the city, and

perhaps with some difficulty found them and their place of meeting. This would

look as if they were not Jews, as the synagogue was always known. He should

not set foot in Jerusalem. The Received Text reads ἐπιβαίνεινepibainein - for

ἀναβαίνειν – anabainein – to be stepping on . It is true that, in the Septuagint of

Deuteronomy 1:36, Τὴν γῆν ἐφ ἣν ἐπέβη – Taen gaen eph’ haen epebae - means

"The land that he hath trodden upon;" and that in Joshua 1:3 again, ποδῶν ὑμῶν

podon humon - means "Every place on which you shall tread with the sole of your

feet;" but the phrase ἐπιβαίνειν εἰς Ιερουσαλήμ – epibainein eis Ierousalaem - must

surely mean simply "to go to Jerusalem." Through the Spirit. The Holy Spirit

revealed to them, as He did to many others (v. 11 and ch. 20:23), that bonds and

affliction awaited Paul at Jerusalem. The inference that he should not go to Jerusalem

was their own.  At Tyre the great crisis of his faith came much nearer. The disciples

said, “Set no foot in Jerusalem.” The conflict was between the voice of the Spirit

in the purpose of his heart, and the prophetic warnings of the coming danger

which he could not doubt. It was not that one command contradicted another

command; but that, like Abraham, he had to obey, although to obey must

be to suffer. Faith conquered.  The influence on the homes and families

by Christianity was already accomplishing a great work in social life.

Tyre was commercially decaying, but here was a new principle of

prosperity, better than the worldly one. The position of such a port as Tyre

made Christianity a blessing to the whole world. The visit of Paul would be

remembered and spread abroad.


5 “And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way;

and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out

of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed.”  It came to pass

that we had accomplished for we had accomplished, Authorized Version; the days

for those days, Authorized Version; on our journey for our way, Authorized Version;

they all, with wives and children, brought us on our way for they all brought us on

our way, with wires and children, Authorized Version; kneeling down on the beach

we prayed for we kneeled down on the shore and prayed., Authorized Version and

Textus Receptus. Accomplished the days. There is no other example of this use of

the word ἐξαρτίζειν – exartizein - , which always means "to fit out, to equip

thoroughly," as e.g. Josephus, 'Ant. Jud.,' 3. 2:2, where he speaks of soldiers

τοῖς ἅπασι καλῶς ἐξηρτισμένουςtois hapasi kalos exaertismenous - well equipped

in all respects; and in the only other passage in the New Testament where it occurs,

II Timothy 3:17, where it is rendered "thoroughly furnished," or "furnished

completely." Revised Version. Hence some would render the passage here "when

we had refitted (the ship) during these days." But this is a very harsh construction,

and it is better, with the glossaries, lexicons, the Vulgate, and most commentators,

to take the word here in the unusual sense of "to complete," applied to time. The

days are the seven days mentioned in v. 4, which were probably determined by

the time it took to unlade the ship and get the new cargo on board.



 Widening Streams of Christian Love (v. 5)


The contents of this verse are almost unique for the day to which they

belong. And at the same time they seem to link together some of the best

of their own time with some of the best of modern time. The scene is

familiar to us, which was once strange enough, and Tyre will be held in

remembrance, wheresoever the gospel shall be preached, for one bright,

redeeming trait. For we have here a significant token of what Christianity

will avail to do, without any direct aim at it for the time being, in and with

family life.












UNITED LIFE OF THE FAMILY. Nature itself does not make a whole

family so really one as Christianity does. Many a time we read of a whole

family being baptized, when presumably not only the wife but little children

were embraced in the number. And now wives and children of the

disciples,” in helpful company, cheer the steps of the departing Paul and

his special fellow-laborers. True as we feel this was to nature, it is true to a

nature that had long become disaccustomed to its better self, in those days

of Tyre. And Christianity and Christian occasion have now begun to enable

nature to “lift its head again?’



FAMILY. How often is the family unit a wonderfully selfish unit! It is truly

something larger than the individual, and so is the selfishness somewhat

larger also — larger in its sphere of exposure, and larger in its spreading

mischief, and larger in its shame. There are not a few who would be

astonished to think they could be taxed with selfishness as individuals, who

nevertheless may be powerful factors in making, sanctioning, keeping, the

selfishness of the family. This latter covers itself also under many a more

sacred name. And because the family should be the very shrine of one

affection, those who compose it “do this,” but mournfully “leave the other

undone.” But now family with family attended the departing steps of Paul.

And had they never caught the idea before, now they see or begin to see

that it takes many a family of men to number up the one family of the

“Father,” “from whom every family in heaven and earth is named”

(Ephesians 3:14-15, see Revised Version).



PRAYER. They all “kneeled down on the shore, and prayed.” It was a

prayer of pilgrim apostles, pilgrim fathers and mothers, and young pilgrim



Ø      Well did they kneel on the sands.

Ø      Well did they pray in sight of life’s sea.

Ø      Well did all lift their eyes and thoughts from sand and sea to heaven in

prayer; but meantime, forgot selves awhile, that all might pray for

others.  Paul prayed for them of Tyre, fathers and mothers and children,

that they might love and do and keep the faith. And if no tongue spoke

it, who can doubt that the loving, regretful group, who so grudged

losing Paul into the midst of the dangers that were waiting for him at

Jerusalem, commended him also to God and the Word of His grace?

and commended that Word itself to God?




The Influence of Personal Affection on Christian Ministers

                                                     (V. 5)


The scene described here may be compared with that at Miletus (ch. 20:26-27).

The impression that it was the last time they would see the

great apostle among them intensified the expression of feeling, but it could

hardly be said to increase the affection which the disciples cherished

towards Paul. That strong personal attachment the apostle won

wherever he went. Some men are remarkable for the power of drawing

forth the affection and love of those whom they seek to serve for Christ’s

sake. Some men are never more or other than officials, valued and trusted

only for “their work’s sake.” Others are beloved “for their own sakes,” and

the work they do is glorified by the beauty which, to men’s eyes, they put

upon it in the doing of it. Some think that personal affection for a pastor or

a teacher is rather a hindrance to him, as the truth he teaches may come to

be valued for his sake, and not for its own. Others urge that truth never

really reaches them and sways them until it comes with the persuasions of

one whom they wholly trust and whom they intensely love. Every true

pastor will dread putting himself in any sense between souls and Christ; but

every pastor will rejoice if, by winning the love of men, he can bring them

to love Christ. Picturing the scene of out text, Canon Farrar says, “When

the week was over Paul left them; and so deeply in that brief period had

he won their affections, that all the members of the little community, with

their wives and children, started with him to conduct him on his way.

Before they reached the vessel, they knelt down side by side, men and

women and little ones, somewhere on the surf-beaten rocks near which the

vessel was moored, to pray together — he for them, and they for him —

before they returned to their homes; and he went once more on board for

the last stage of the voyage from Tyre to Ptolemais, the modern Acre.” We

dwell on the following points: —



This was a part of his natural gifts. It belonged to his disposition and

character. But we may especially note two things:


Ø      he freely gave love to others, and only those who can love can win


Ø      he had a singular power of spiritual insight, and wherever that is

found men have unusual charm to the view of others.



OF AFFECTION. All farewells test friendship and love. This was peculiar:


Ø      as being a last farewell;

Ø      as taken immediately before anticipated scenes of sorrow and



Compare our Lord’s view of Mary’s act, anointing his feet with nard. It

was a preparatory anointing for burial, and so an unusual expression of






Ø      its power to constrain him to do his very best;

Ø      the gracious and tender tone which it puts on all his teaching and


Ø      the adaptations it enables him to make of the truth to individuals,

since love is the greatest revealer of men to their fellows; and

Ø      the hopefulness it leads him to cherish concerning those for whom

he labors.



WHO FEEL IT. Especially notice that it opens their hearts to receive

instruction and counsel as nothing else can; and it constantly acts as an

inspiring force, moving them to be worthy of those whom they love. The

minister’s great appeal is to men’s hearts. If he can win their love, he will

not fail to instruct their minds and sway their wills.


6 “And when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship; and they

returned home again.”  And bade each other farewell; and we went on board

the ship, but, etc., for and when we had taken our leave one of another, we took

ship; and, etc., Authorized Version and Textus Receptus. The ἀπασπάζεσθαι

apaspazesthai – when we had taken our leave -  of the Received Text occurs

nowhere else, except in Himerius in the fourth century after Christ. Went on board;

ἐπέβημες εἰς – epebaemes eis – we stepped on board into, the same phrase as

ἐπιβαίνειν εἰς Ἱερουσαλήμ in v. 4.


7 “And when we had finished our course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and

saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day.  The voyage for our course,

Authorized Version; arrived at for came to, Authorized Version; we saluted for saluted,

Authorized Version. When we had finished; διανύσαντες – dianusantes – finished;

terminating; quitting, only found here in the New Testament, but not uncommon in

classical Greek for finishing a voyage, or a journey, or a race-course (Euripides,

Hesiod, Xenophon, etc.). Luke seems to indicate by the phrase that the sea-voyage

ended here. Arrived at; κατηντήσαμεν – kataentaesamen, a favorite word of Luke's

for arriving at a place (ch. 16:1; 18:19, 24; 20:15;  25:13; 27:12, etc.), Ptolemais.

The ancient Accho of Judges 1:31, then a Canaanite city in the tribe of Asher, but

not subsequently mentioned in the Old Testament. In I Maccabees 5:15, 22 and

elsewhere it is called, as here, Ptolemais, having received the name from one of

the Ptolemies, probably either Soter or Lagi; but in the Middle Ages it appears

as St. Jean d'Acre, and is now commonly called Acre. It lies on the north side of

the spacious bay of Carmel, but is not in all weathers very safe harborage. It is an

easy day's sail, under thirty miles, from Tyre. When Paul was there it had recently

been made a Roman colony by the Emperor Claudius, and was important as a

commercial city. Saluted the brethren. The Christians there. We have no account

of the evangelization of Ptolemais. Perhaps the gospel was first preached there to

the Jewish colony by those who traveled "as far as Phoenice," after "the persecution

that arose about Stephen" (ch.11:19); for Ptolemais was reckoned as belonging to

Phenicia (Ptol., 5:15; Strabo, 16. p. 758; Pliny, 'Nat. Hist.,' 5:17; all quoted by Meyer).


8 “And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came

unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist,

which was one of the seven; and abode with him.”  On the morrow for the next

day Authorized Version; we for we that were of Paul's company, Authorized Version

and Textus Receptus; entering we for we entered... and, Authorized Version; who for

which, Authorized Version.  Unto Caesarea. They seem to have come from Ptolemais

to Caesarea by land, a two days' journey; the word. ἐξελθόντες – exelthontes –

departed; coming away, as Howson justly remarks, pointing to a land-journey.

Philip the evangelist. When last we heard of him (ch. 8:40

) he had just reached

Caesarea; apparently he had been working there as an evangelist ever since. His old

home at Jerusalem (ch. 6:5) had been broken up by the persecution (ch. 8:5), and

thus the deacon had become an evangelist (ibid. v. 12). Evangelists are mentioned

by Paul (Ephesians 4:11) as one of the higher orders of the Christian ministry;

and Timothy is bid "do the work of an evangelist" (II Timothy 4:5). In later times

the term was restricted to the four writers of the Gospels. Philip's old association

with Stephen in the diaconate must have been keenly remembered by Paul. We abode

with him. This seems to imply that Philip was well to do, and had a good house.

9 “And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.”

Now this man for and the same man, Authorized Version.  Virgins. This certainly

conveys the impression that they had dedicated their lives to the service of God

(1 Corinthians 7:34-38). Which did prophesy. The question arises - Did they

exercise their gift of prophecy in the Church or in private? The passage

I Corinthians 11:5 seems to indicate that in the Church of Corinth women

did pray and prophesy in the congregation, while, on the other hand,  I Corinthians

14:34-35 seems peremptorily to forbid women to speak or teach in Church, as does

I Timothy 2:11-12. How, then, is this apparent contradiction to be reconciled?

It must be either by supposing

(1) that the gift of prophecy spoken of here and in I Corinthians 11:5 was exercised

in private only; or

(2) that the prohibition did not apply to the extraordinary operation of the Holy Spirit

speaking by prophet or prophetesses as the case might be. The latter seems the most

probable (see ch. 13:1, note). On the office of prophets in the early Church, see

ch.11:27; 13:1; 15:32; 19:6; Romans 12:6; I Corinthians 12:10, 28-29; 13:2, 8;

14:6, 29, etc.; Ephesians 3:5; 4:11; I Thessalonians 5:20 (see Alford, on ch.11:27).

As regards these daughters of Philip, there are conflicting statements in early Church

writers. Eusebius ('Eccl. Hist.,' 3:30) quotes Clement of Alexandria as saying that

both Peter and Philip among the apostles were married and had children, and that

Philip moreover gave his daughters in marriage to husbands. But in the next chapter

(3) he quotes Polycrates, Bishop of Ephesus at the end of the second century, as

saying that Philip the apostle and his two daughters, who had grown old in their

virginity, were buried at Hierapolis; and that another daughter of his, "who had

her conversation in the Holy Spirit," was buried at Ephesus. Eusebius himself

thinks that these daughters of Philip the evangelist were meant. If they were,

it does not necessarily follow that those who, according to Clemens Alexandrinus,

were married were of the four mentioned here. They might be sisters. Polycrates

seems to speak of three sisters who lived a religious life (in the technical sense);

the fourth may have died young. But it is quite possible that Clemens may really

be speaking of Philip the apostle, and Polycrates also; the more so as Philip the

apostle, according to the tradition recorded by Nicephorns, suffered martyrdom

at Hierapolis. However, the confusion between the two Philips is quite certain

in the Menaeum (or Calendar) of the Greek Church, where we read, "On the

4th of September is the commemoration of Saint Hermione, one of the four

daughters of the Apostle Philip, who baptized the eunuch of Candace. She and

her sister Eutychis came into Asia after the death of the Apostle John. She was

buried at Ephesus." A fragment of Caius (in Eusebius, 'Eccl. Hist.,' 3:31)

increases the confusion by speaking of" the four daughters of Philip,

prophetesses, who were buried in Hierapolis" (see Routh's 'Reliq. Sac.,'

vol. 1. pp. 378-380).

10 “And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a

certain prophet, named Agabus.”  Many days (ἡμέρας πλείους – haemeras pleious).

In ch.13:31 ἐπὶ ἡμέρας πλείους – epi haemeras pleious - is applied to the forty days

between the Resurrection and the Ascension. In ch.18:20 πλείονα χρόνον pleiona

chronon - is a longer time - longer, viz. than he had intended. In ch. 25:6 ἡμέρας

πλείους η δέκα is "more than ten days." Here, therefore, it is too strong an

expression to say "many days." According to Lewin's calculation, he was only

five days at Caesarea - from May 10 to May 15. Howson's "some days,"

which is the rendering also in the margin of the Received Text, is much better

than "many." Renan has "quelques jours." Agabus (see ch. 11:28).

11 “And when he was come unto us, he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own

hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at

Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into

the hands of the Gentiles.”  Coming to for when he was come unto, Authorized

Version; and taking for he took, Authorized Version; he bound for and bound,

Authorized Version; feet and hands for hands and feet, Authorized Version and

Textus Receptus. Bound his own feet, etc. The Received Text has ἑαυτοῦ - heautou –

his - which leaves no doubt that Agabus bound his own hands and feet. The reading

of the Textus Receptus, αὐτοῦ - autou – of him, would rather indicate Paul's hands

and feet, as Grotius, Hammond, and others take it, though less conformably to the

context. (For similar symbolical actions of the old prophets, see Isaiah 20:2-3;

Jeremiah 13:1-7; I Kings 22:11; Ezekiel 4:1-6; 12:3-7; 24:16-24, etc.) Shall

deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. Nearly the same words as those in

which our Lord foretold His own betrayal (Matthew 20:19; Mark 10:33;

Luke 18:32).



     The Spirit in Paul, and the Spirit in Others (vs. 4 and 11)

The narrative given of the apostle’s progress toward Jerusalem suggests

some serious and difficult questions. We now consider one of them. Once

and again it appears as if the Divine Spirit sent messages which should

have stopped the apostle, and prevented his going on to the holy city; and

Paul evidently resisted these attempted hindrances. Then was he right in

so doing? If he was right, how can we explain his conduct? The

circumstances may be carefully compared with those narrated concerning

the prophet who was unfaithful to the commission distinctly entrusted to

himself (see I Kings 13:1-25). “It seems at first somewhat startling that

Paul should reject what is described as an inspired counsel; or, if we

believe him also to have been guided by the Spirit, that the two inspirations

should thus clash. We remember, however, that men received the Spirit ‘by

measure,’ and the prophets of the Churches at Tyre, as elsewhere, though

foreseeing the danger to which the apostle was exposed, might yet be

lacking in that higher inspiration which guided the decision of the apostle.”

This explanation is given in a simpler form in the ‘ Speaker’s

Commentary.’ “The foreknowledge was inspired; the advice based upon it

was merely a human inference. Paul accepted the information, but did

not yield to the warning. Christ’s approval of his conduct is implied in

ch. 23:11.” This suggestion in explanation of the difficulty may be

fully considered and illustrated.

Ø      those which were general to his apostolic work; and

Ø      those which were special to particular occasions, as e.g. at Troas

(ch. 16:9).

We may, therefore, be quite sure that he knew perfectly well when he was

under Divine lead; and, on this occasion, we have evidence that he knew

what God’s will for him was, and that he was taking the path of duty in

going up to Jerusalem. In ch. 20:22 he distinctly says, “Now I go

bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem.” No doubts or questions disturbed his

own mind. He knew that God led; and he knew that, regardless of

consequences, it was his simple duty to follow. It may be shown that still,

in our day, a man may have a full and clear knowledge of God’s will for

him, and then he is bound to do that will, however men’s prophecies and

advice and warnings may entice him aside. When a man has inward

conviction of what is right for him, all prophesying of consequences

becomes temptation to be resisted.

12 “And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place,

besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.”  They of that place; οἱ ἐντόπιοι –

hoi entopioi – the ones in the place, a word found only here in the New Testament,

and not found in the Septuagint or the Apocrypha, but good classical Greek

(for the sentiment, see v. 4).   

13 “Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart?

for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the

name of the Lord Jesus.”  What do ye, weeping and breaking my heart?

for what mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? Authorized Version 

(the same sense only a more modern idiom). Breaking. Συνθρύπτοντες

Sunthruptontes – unnerving, occurs only here in the New Testament, or

indeed in any Greek writer, though the simple form, θρύπτω thrupto,

is common in medical writers, and ἀποθρύπτω occurs in Plato. It has the

force of the Latin frangere animum, to crush and weaken the spirit. I am ready.

Paul's answer reminds us of Peter's saying to our Lord, "Lord, I am ready to go

with thee both into prison, and to death" (Luke 22:33). But Peter's resolve was

made in his own strength, Paul's in the strength of the Holy Ghost; and so the

one was broken, and the other was kept.



A Tender Heart to a Strong Conscience (v. 13)


It might be thought that Paul had already sufficiently run the gauntlet of warnings

touching the consequences of going to Jerusalem (ch.19:21; 20:16, 22-23; 21:4, 11).

If his resolution could have been altered, or his conscience stilled an hour, this was

the hour. But, instead of showing any symptom of being “in a strait betwixt two,”

even in an hour of such tenderness, it is now that “his heart is fixed.” The needle

points unerringly and without a quivering deflection, and moral resolution touches

the point of moral sublimity. And we may justly sound here the praise of

conscience; for in advancing degrees, we see:














coldness, no hardness, no unrelenting of heart, in that grand hour,

when Paul’s heart was ready to break for human affection’s sake, but was a

very tower of strength toward Christ as in Him.



Peter and Paul Compared in Boasting (v. 13)


This strong declaration, “I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die

at Jerusalem for the Name of the Lord Jesus,” sounds very much like the

language of Peter to his Master. “Lord, why cannot I follow thee now?

I will lay down my life for thy sake.” (John 13:37)  And yet there is the most

vital distinction between the spirit and tone and temper of the two sayings,

and the difference comes fully out in the actions that followed. Self-trusting

Peter failed in the testing hour. Christ trusting Paul went on to win the

martyr’s crown. This is the subject before us; but in introducing it there

should be some estimate of the blended strength and weakness of Peter’s

character before his fall. The boldness and forwardness were valuable

qualities for one who was to be a leading gospel witness and missionary;

but before the humbling experience of his fall, Peter’s forwardness meant

undue self-reliance. So our Lord had on one occasion to speak more

sternly to him than to any other of His disciples, even saying, “Get thee

behind me, Satan.” (Matthew 16:23)  There should be also a due estimate

of the high wrought condition of Paul’s feeling when he uttered the seemingly

boastful words of our text. “The intense sensitiveness of Paul’s nature shows

itself in every syllable. It was with no Stoic hardness that he resisted their

entreaties. They were positively crushing to him. He adhered to his

purpose, but it was as with a broken heart. In spite of this, however, his

martyr-like, Luther-like nature carried him forward. Bonds and

imprisonment! these he had heard of when he was yet at Corinth and

Ephesus, before he had started on his journey; hut what were they to one

who was ready to face death?” The comparison may take three forms.



talked about dying with Jesus, but he did not know what dying was. He

had not suffered much in his discipleship. Persecutions nor shame had yet

touched him. He talked about dying as we all do until God has taken us

and set us down at the very edge of the borderland. Many of us feel very

confident that we can master temptation, endure affliction, and face death;

while the truth may be that we know nothing of the force or the subtlety of

either, and may well be humble, and look on to untried scenes saying,

“Lead thou me on.”



fully proved what he could do, and what he could bear, for Christ’s sake.

He had been sick and ill; he had faced death by shipwreck; he had been

stoned by the mob, and left for dead. He was always bearing about in the

body the “dying of the Lord Jesus.” (II Corinthians 4:10)  He might speak

strongly and confidently; for there could be nothing in his coming lot that

had not been represented in his past experiences. He knew well that he

labored day by day with his life, as it were, in his hands. There is all the

difference between his words and Peter’s that we find between the

confident utterance of a youth and the calm expressions Of the aged.

And Paul’s has really no boastfulness in it. It is but the fixed and settled

purpose of his life pressed out into intense language.



He did love the Master, and was sincere in expressing his love;

but he did not think about his words before speaking, so they bear the

character of the impulsive man that Peter was. Under excitement we

may easily promise too much. (We should never let the mouth promise

what the heart heart cannot guarantee.  CY – 2018)  Under self-restraint

we shall find that what we would and what we can seriously differ

from each other. When feeling is calmed, judgment will not always

support what feeling has said.



The result, not of resolve alone, but of resolve tested,

renewed, and established. Sober, settled conviction breathes in that first

chapter of the Epistle to the Philippians. It is quiet, calm writing. And it

reads thus: “With all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be

magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death. For to me to

live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)  The same tone of

settled conviction is on his glowing words so simply written in his letter

to Timothy: “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure

is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have

kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of

righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me

at that day:  and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His

appearing.”   (II Timothy 4:6-8).  Such expressions can never be

mistaken for boasting; they are only signs of a soul that is sublimely

uplifted in the strength of its faith, and in the fullness of its experience.



This being the more familiar view taken of Peter’s words, the mode of

treating it may be left. The point to impress is that he spoke relying in

himself, and with no question of his own ability to carry out what he said.

He that leaneth on himself leaneth on a reed that will too surely bend

beneath his weight.  (Isaiah 36:6)  “It is not in man that walketh to direct

his steps.”  (Jeremiah 10:23)  And Peter’s own Master thus solemnly

warned both him and his fellow-disciples:  “Without me ye can do

nothing.” (John 15:5)  Then and now, self-confidence is only vain




Peter thought of “dying with Christ” as something to do. Paul thought

of it as something to bear. Christ did not ask  Peter to die with him. He

pushed himself into the place. Christ (did ask Paul to suffer and to die

for Him, and the tender grace of his seeming boasting lies in its being his

full acceptance of God’s will for him, and his assurance that, however hard

to flesh and blood, His will is love. Paul’s spirit took his confidence

altogether away from self, and made it rest altogether ON CHRIST!

Peter said, “I can do all things.” Paul said, “I can do all things through

Him that strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13)  After his humiliation,

Peter was converted to the better mind; and illustration of his humble

and trustful spirit may be taken from his Epistles. Especially notice

I Peter 5:6-7, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand

of God, that He may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon

 Him; for He careth for you.”

14 “And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of

the Lord be done.”  The will of the Lord, etc. A beautiful application of the

petition in the Lord's prayer, "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven"

(compare Luke 22:42).   Here is an example of lofty spiritual discernment.

Distinguishing between human voices and Divine; between a prospect of

suffering and a prospect of defeat; between being bound in body and being

bound in spirit — Paul was rejoicing in the liberty of his soul, it was of little

consequence to him what they might do with his limbs — between the plots

and enmity of men and the victorious grace of God.


The Steadfast Purpose (vs. 1-14)

One of the most difficult problems of practical life is to know what are the

fixed points on which we must not give way, and to which all other

considerations must yield, and what are the points which may be yielded

under the pressure of conflicting circumstances. A man may be very

conscientious, and yet most grievously mistaken, if by his obstinacy on

indifferent matters he imperils or defeats great and important results which

are incompatible with those smaller matters on which he insists. And again,

a man may be very conscientious, and yet may do much practical mischief

if he weakly gives way on vital points on which he ought to insist with

inflexible steadfastness of purpose. Moreover, without steadfastness and

persistence of purpose a man’s course is so vacillating as to be practically

useless. He is ever beginning and never finishing; starting on his course and

never reaching the end of it; wasting time and energy on purposes which

are never fulfilled; incapable of joint action because he can never be

depended upon — not from insincerity and falseness. but merely from

weakness and instability of will and infirmity of judgment. It is a very

important function of true wisdom in the practical business of life to

discern clearly what are the purposes that ought to yield to the pressure of

adverse circumstances, and what are those that must be carried out to their

end at all risks and at any cost; and it is the true test of manliness and

Christian principle to adhere to these last in spite of the persuasions of

friends or the vituperation of enemies. The section before us contains the

successive steps by which Paul carried out the purpose which he had

formed of going to Jerusalem and arriving there in time for the Feast of

Pentecost. The first distinct announcement of this purpose is made in

ch. 20:16, but it had probably been formed before he left Corinth, as

related in ibid. v. 3. What were the exact reasons for it we are left to

gather from scattered and incidental notices. It seems to have been

connected with his deep love for the Jewish nation (Romans 9:1-5),

and with the hope to which he clung that, by patience and continuance in

well doing, he should eventually overcome their obduracy of heart and win

them to the faith of the gospel. The line which he had marked out for

himself was to show himself a true Jew in all things; to respect the Law and

the observances of the temple and the customs connected with it; and to

bind all the Gentile Churches to the mother Church of Jerusalem in bonds

of filial love, of which the offerings collected from the Gentile converts and

sent to the poor saints at Jerusalem were the token and the result. In this

spirit he came up to Jerusalem “for to worship” (ch. 24:11); in this

spirit he brought “alms to his nation and offerings” (ibid. v.17); and in

this spirit he purified himself and entered into the temple (ibid. v. 18).

If his hope was by these means to win his countrymen to Christ, and bring

about the predicted salvation of all Israel, this was a purpose to which all

else must yield. And so when the Holy Ghost witnessed in every city that

bonds and imprisonment abode him at Jerusalem,” when he was warned by

prophetic voices at Tyre and at Caesarea that every onward step was

bringing him nearer to some great affliction, he never flinched one moment

from his purpose, but went forward with a willing mind that “the will of the

Lord might be done.” Being deeply convinced, probably by the

constraining voice of the Holy Ghost within him (ch. 20:22), that it

was the will of God that he should go to Jerusalem, and there witness to

the Name of the Lord Jesus, he went, not careful whether he were going to

bonds or to death; he went, neither yielding to fear nor allowing his will to

be broken by the tears and entreaties of those whom he loved best; he

went, to accomplish in prison, and at last under the tyrant’s sword, the

noblest mission that was ever committed to a son of man, and to win for

himself a crown which will surely be one of the most bright and glorious

that will glitter in the kingdom of heaven. And in doing so he has left us the

priceless example of a steadfast purpose.

15 “And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem.”

These for those, Authorized Version; baggage for carriages, Authorized Version.

We took up, etc. Απισκευασάμενοι Apiskeuasamenoi – taking up our baggage,

is the reading of the Received Text, as of Mill, Bengel, Griesbach, Lachmann,

Tischendorf, Meyer, Alford, etc. It occurs only here in the New Testament, but

is common in classical Greek, in the sense of "fitting out for a journey,"

"lading a ship" or "beasts of burden" with baggage, "collecting baggage,"

and the like. The ἀποσκευάζεσθαι – aposkeuazesthai - of the Authorized

Version means “to unload," "to get rid of baggage," and thence generally

"to remove," which gives no good sense here.

16 “There went with us also certain of the disciples of Caesarea, and brought

with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple, with whom we should lodge.”

And there went for there went, Authorized Version; from for of, Authorized Version;

bringing for and brought, Authorized Version; early for old, Authorized Version.

Mnason of Cyprus; only mentioned here. He may very probably be one of those

Cypriots mentioned in ch. 11:19-20, and so have been a disciple before the death

of Stephen, and hence properly called an old or early disciple. If he had been one

of Paul's converts in the visit to Cyprus recorded in ch.13, Paul would have needed

no introduction to him. The construction of the sentence is involved, and the exact

meaning consequently obscure. Kuincel, Meyer, Howson (in 'Dict. of Bible'), and

many more, translate it "conducting us to Mnason," etc., which seems the better

translation; not, however, so as to make ἄγειν Μνάσωνι – agein Mnasoni equivalent

to ἄγειν πρὸς Μνάσωνα – agein pros Mnasona, which Greek usage will not admit of,

but explaining the dative by attraction of the relative ω΅ - ho – whom,                                                                                                                                          which is governed by παρὰ - para - with. If it had not been for the intervening

παρ ω΅ι ξενισθῶμεν – par ho Xenisthomen – with whom we should be being lodged,

the sentence would have run ἄγοντες πρὸς τὸν Μνάσωνα, κ.τ.λ.agontes pros ton

Mnasona, k.t.l. – brought besides one Mnason, etc.  If Mnason, who, consistently

with ch. 11:19, had a house at Jerusalem, had been at Caesarea at this time, it would

be quite unmeaning that disciples from Caesarea should bring Mnason with them.

The sentence would rather have run "among whom was Mnason," etc. But if he

was at Jerusalem, it was quite proper that any Christians of Caesarea who knew

him should conduct Paul to his house, and introduce him and his party to him.

Mnason, like Philip (v. 6, note), was evidently a man of substance, Should lodge;

should be hospitably entertained (Hebrews 13:2; I Peter 4:9; see ch.10:6, 18).



Incidents by the Way (vs. 1-16)



NEAR. At Tyre Christian disciples, loving Christian hearts, are found.

They warn Paul against possible coming dangers, they entertain the little

band, and dismiss them with commendatory prayer. “The finding of

disciples must have been a main feature in the diaries of the apostle.” To

meet with welcome, with hospitality, with congenial discourse upon

journeys, — how refreshing! Well may it remind us of the universal

providence, and the living love which is ever at work to overcome

strangeness, and to bring the far-off near! Delays in business need be no

delays in the work of the kingdom of God. While the departure from Tyre

was delayed, Paul found time to instruct the disciples at Tyre.


  • PHILIP THE EVANGELIST. The name is an excellent one for a true

teacher. It means one who carries the good news. All that we know of him

from ch.  6:5; 8:5; 26, 46, and his earnest preaching of Jesus, bears out

this character. It seems to have been his object and his peculiar gift to make

clear from the Old Testament Scriptures THAT JESUS WAS THE CHRIST!

The gift of his daughters seemed to be a fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy (Joel

2:28). They present the type of the calling of all Christian women to

appropriate forms of Christian service.


  • AGABUS AND THE GIRDLE OF PAUL. He gives a symbolic

prophecy of coming trial. The girdle might be a symbol of complete

dedication to the service of the Lord Jesus and of His gospel — of Christian

duty. The loins once girt up must not be relaxed. Only when the will has

been subdued to God and His service are we truly free; and this even when

others would use compulsion upon us. “Then the strong band encircles our

life and girds us for eternity.” It is a blessing when our eyes are opened to

the coming trial, and our hearts are at the same time strengthened to meet

it. This gives assurance that all that occurs is according to the blessed will,

and must work together for good.  (Romans 8:28)


  • “THE WILL OF THE LORD BE DONE. Often it is harder to

contend with the weaknesses of others than with one’s own. See Millais’s

touching picture of the ‘Huguenot.’ Some silken band of dearest affection

would detain us as we are preparing to march to the post of duty (compare

Genesis 43:3-4). Love means well, but does not always point in God’s

way (John 20:17). When Luther was on his way to Worms, at place

after place warning friends met him; and close to the town his beloved

Spalatin sent to him to beg he would not venture into the scene of danger.

“Were there as many devils in Worms as tiles on the roofs, I would go in,”

was his reply. Paul’s heart is touched; he feels the spring of manly strength

giving way. But with a strong effort of faith and will he overcomes. “I am

ready to die at Jerusalem for the Name of the Lord Jesus.” “Not the cross

for the cross’s sake, but the cross for the sake of Christ;” to be made like

to His death (Philippians 3:10); — these were the ideals of his life. And

so the love of the Christian flock to the pastor must give way to the

pastor’s love for Christ. “The will of the Lord be done!” It is the best

concluding word of all our deliberations. It silences all objections to God’s

ways; our thoughts must be suppressed before the thought of the Only

Wise, and our power bow before that of the Omnipotent. Our affection for

others must withdraw its claims in favor of His, whose we are and whom

we serve. This motto may well suit the servant of God:


Ø      in all the changes of his pilgrimage,

Ø      against all the opposition of his foes,

Ø      against the temptations of flesh and blood, of near and dear

affection, and the weakness of his own heart.




A Biography of Honor, Written in a Name and Title Only

(v. 16)


The slight obscurity attaching to the rendering of this verse diminishes in

nothing its interest and instructiveness. Whether the verse purports to say

that the disciples of Caesarea journeying with Paul and his companions

brought them to Mnason as their host, when they arrived at Jerusalem; or

that, picking up Mnason himself at Caesarea, who afterwards became the

host of Paul at Jerusalem, they rendered him also the help of their escort

thither, — does not alter its special significance. This lies in the fact that

Mnason’s name, as soon as mentioned, is dispatched with two remarks,

never again to be referred to in the sacred history; and yet those two

remarks are felt to be worth more than two volumes. Wherein, then, we

may ask, does their special significance hide?


























Old Disciples (v. 16)


There must have been some peculiarity in the case of Mnason for Luke

to remark that he was an “old disciple,” which may mean that he was an

old man and a disciple,” or that he was one of the earliest disciples,

possibly one who was led to accept Christ as the Messiah on the day of

Pentecost. He was a “man of Cyprus,” but he may have been visiting

Jerusalem at Pentecost. Mention is made of him in connection with

Paul’s journey to explain the care which the Christian disciples took to

secure the apostle’s safety and comfort in the holy city. The crowd at the

feast-times was so immense that the ordinary stranger might fail to find

accommodation. Mnason had a house at Jerusalem, and there Paul was

sheltered. There are two senses in which a man may be spoken of as an

old disciple:”


(1) he may be old in years;

(2) he may be old in experience.


No Christian disciple could at that time have been very old in experience of

Christian life. There are four possible suppositions concerning the

discipleship of Mnason.


(1) He may have been, like Simeon, one of those who looked for

redemption in Israel, and so was prepared at once to welcome Christ.

(2) He may have been one of the disciples who attached themselves to

Christ while He was with men in the flesh.

(3) He may have been converted at the day of Pentecost.

(4) He may have been a first fruit of Patti’s missionary labors in Cyprus.

The subject suggested by the reference to Mnason is — the mission in the

Church of old disciples; and three points may receive full treatment and



·         Old disciples may prove what Divine grace can do in keeping us

unspotted from the world.  (James 1:26-27)

·         Old disciples may illustrate “patient continuance in well-doing.”

(Romans 2:7)

·         Old disciples may exert a gracious influence by the tone and character

of their religious experience, as corrective of the mistakes and practical

errors that may prevail, and as guiding to the solution of practical

difficulties in doctrine and in conduct. The Church has often good

reason to rejoice in the wisdom and prudence of her “old disciples.”

17 “And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.




Human Affection and Sacred Service (vs. 1-17)



God has so made us and so related us that we find ourselves closely and

tenderly attached, one to another, in various bonds. It is impossible that

these should not have great influence on our minds as the children and

servants of God, great effect on our lives as co-workers with Christ. What

is that effect?


OFFER TO SACRED SERVICE. We find it inciting all the disciples,

including “the wives and the children,” to accompany Paul on his way, to

pray with and for him, and thus to cheer and hearten him (v. 5). We find

it leading Philip (vs. 5-7), and afterwards Mnason (v. 16) and “the

brethren” (v. 17), to entertain the ambassador of Christ with openhanded

and full-hearted friendship. And we find it now constantly leading

men and women:


Ø      to educate and train,

Ø      to entertain,

Ø      to shelter,

Ø      to influence by example,

Ø      to evangelize the sons and daughters of men.



RENDER. It did so here. Paul and his party had to tear themselves away

from the elders of Ephesus (v. 1). It required a very great effort to “get

away.” Clearly the entreaties of affection produced a very strong

impression indeed on the susceptible heart of the apostle, and called forth

the tender and touching remonstrance of the text (v. 13). It had a like

effect on the mind of the Master Himself, and evoked a rebuke of no

ordinary strength (Matthew 16:21-23). When conjugal, or parental, or

filial, or fraternal love lays its detaining hand on the shoulder and says, “Go

not on this perilous mission; stay with us in these pleasant places of

affection,” it is hard for the human soul to resist that gentle but powerful



OWN BEHALF. The disciples at Tyre claimed to found their counsels on

communications which they had from God Himself. They said “through the

Spirit” that Paul “should not go up,” etc. (v. 4). Undoubtedly the

disciples at Caesarea based their dissuasions on the announcements of

Agabus (v. 11), and they probably pleaded, with no little force, that the

Divine intimation of danger was given on purpose that the impending evil

might be averted. Often with us, now, human affection has much to say

that is plausible, and even powerful. It makes out a strong case why special

spiritual faculty should refrain from sacrificing itself by presumptuous

confidence, why it should “not tempt the Lord its God” by running into

needless danger, why it should reserve itself for other paths of usefulness

where it could walk with equal fruitfulness and without the threatening



TEMPTATION. With Paul it “will not be persuaded” (v. 14); with him it

says,I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die… for the Name of

the Lord Jesus” (v. 13). The Huguenot will not have the white ribbon

bound round his arm even by the tender hand of the sweetest human love.

Men will walk to the stake, and women to the open grave wherein their

living bodies are to be enclosed, even though there are voices, gentle and

strong, calling them to the home of affection. The will of the Divine Savior

has been found, and will be found to the end of time, mightier than even

these forces of affection.


ACCEPT THE WILL OF GOD. It still says, after a while, “The will of the

Lord be done” (v. 14).


18 And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders

were present.”  Went in with us unto James. Nothing can mark more distinctly

the position of James as Bishop of Jerusalem than this visit of Paul to him, and the

finding him surrounded with all the elders of Jerusalem. It is a most distinct

evidence of the apostolic origin of the episcopal office.

19 “And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God

had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.”  Rehearsed one by one for

declared particularly, Authorized Version; the things which for what things,

Authorized Version. The things which God had wrought, etc. (compare ch. 15:12).

It was a noble account to render. Since he had saluted the Church (ch.18:22), when

he had probably seen James last, he had labored at Antioch, in Galatia and Phrygia,

and had wrought a mighty revolution in Asia. He had consolidated his work in

Macedonia and Achaia; he had held his visitation of Gentile elders in Miletus;

he had visited Tyre, Ptolemais, and Caesarea, great Gentile cities, and had seen

everywhere astonishing tokens of the grace of God which was with him. And

now he pours his tale into the ears of the chief pastor of the mother Church

of Jerusalem, and those of the Jewish elders. A tale of wonder indeed!

20 “And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him,

Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe;

and they are all zealous of the law:”  They, when they heard it for when they

heard it, they, Authorized Version; God for the Lord, Authorized Version and

Textus Receptus; they said for said, Authorized Version; there are among the

Jews of them which have believed for of Jews there are which believe, Authorized

Version and Textus Receptus; for the Law for of the Law, Authorized Version.

They... glorified God. There is not the slightest symptom on the part of James

and the elders of unfriendliness towards Paul, or jealousy or opposition to his

work among the Gentiles (compare Galatians 2:7-9). The appellation brother

is another indication of friendly feeling. Thousands (Greek μυριάδες – muriades –

myriads, tens of thousands). These need not be deemed to be all Jerusalem Jews;

if applied to the Church at Jerusalem only, such a word would be probably a

gross exaggeration; but there were great numbers of Jews of the dispersion

assembled at Jerusalem for Pentecost - probably all the Christian Jews of

Judaea, and many from Syria, Galatia, Pontus, and the various countries

enumerated in ch. 2:9-11. So that there might be several myriads of converted

Jews altogether. All zealous for the Law. This is a remarkable testimony to the

unanimity of the Christian Jews in their attachment to the Law of Moses, and

throws light upon the Epistle to the Galatians and many other passages in Paul's

Epistles. It explains the great difficulty experienced in the early Church in dealing

with converts from Judaism. Zealous (ζηλωταὶ - zaelotai). So the fierce sect of

Zealots were called at the time of the Jewish wars (see Josephus, ' Bell. Jud.,'

4. 6:1, and elsewhere).




The Advocate of the Gentiles (vs. 18-20)


With great determination Paul had made his way to Jerusalem. The public

ways terminating in the city were frequented, and the city itself would soon

be filled with visitors. Paul knew well in the spirit that stern conflicts and

no imaginary dangers awaited him. But before he encountered these he had

to count with some other dangers, and which were in some aspects justly

more formidable. Paul does not shirk them. He had not come up to desert

his colors at the last, nor to prove his faithfulness gone. That a disunited

Church should meet the crowd of the world, and even of various

ecclesiastical parties, was a thing not to be thought of, certainly not to be

allowed. It is the very thing that, times without number, since Paul showed

the illustrious example to the contrary now, has been the weakness of the

Church and the strength of the great foe. It is evident from the passage

now before us that Paul’s course was a course that meant practically that

so far things should be “en regle” (according to the rules) and that nothing

should be wanting on his part in order to secure a firm and united front.

How many throw the hindrances of sell-will and of crotchets into the way at

moments the most critical, most inopportune! It is with some particularity

that we are here shown how Paul did the opposite. Let us notice:



CHURCH. It is a visit to the Church as represented by James (who was

evidently at present acting as its chief pastor in Jerusalem) and by the

elders. There might have been plausible excuse for it if Paul had not thus

reported himself to the Church, but he does not put any to the need of

searching for its warrant. He comes to the Church; recognizes its reality as

a power; recognizes its unity; recognizes it as the source and the

depository of much possible future knowledge and wisdom; and recognizes

it as the one earthly bar of judgment (so far as there can be one at all)

before which either Christian disciple or Christian apostle may stand

without infringing the allegiance due either to individual conscience or to

the great bar of judgment above, invisible, but ever open and effective.


  • THE SALUTATION OF PAUL. What this salutation was we may

gather sufficiently from a comparison of the instances, in all about seventy,

in which reference is made to it in the New Testament. In the English

Version the thing intended appears under the description of “saluting,”

greeting,” “embracing,” and “taking leave.” There can be little doubt that,

in the case of persons present with one another, the outward act of

recognition, whether of a more or less intimate kind, was accompanied by

some expression of Christian wish, or prayer, or gratitude; while in the case

of messages, so many of which are found conveyed in the Epistles, the

essence of the salutation consisted generally in the ever-grateful

significance that lay in the fact of the remembrance of the absent. All the

rest, Christian wish, prayer, or thanksgiving, would be readily taken as

understood.” In the present instance the special mention of the salutation

reminds us justly of the humane and inartificial characteristics of

Christianity. In sketches of its history of the most solemn import, nothing

forbids, conceals, or even obscures their entering in as constituent elements

of the whole scene. Even prominence is given to them, and they are not

infrequently the light and color of the history. The unmeasured

steadfastness of Christian principle and truth, is a thing utterly different

from unfeeling severity and the expression of the natural instincts of human



  • THE ADDRESS OF PAUL. It consisted of a faithful — we might

almost call it also a dutiful — report of his own mission to the Gentile

world. We can see, but, perhaps, can scarcely enter into, the exceeding

interest of the subject at Jerusalem. So much hinged on exactly what had

taken place, and upon the exact statement by one competent and

trustworthy of what had taken place. Hence we may observe the

particularity with which even the history rehearses and repeats it.


Ø      Paul gives God, indeed, the glory of what had been done, but probably

also means to make a very pronounced affirmation before the Church at

Jerusalem, that the work was indeed the work of God, to stop the

unbelieving mouth or mind.


Ø      Paul speaks of the work of his own ministry. It is no hearsay, no

impression, no hopefulness with which he entertains the listeners. There

was not a statement he made, nor an incident he described “particularly,”

for the full weight and force of which he was not prepared to become



Ø      Paul’s subject of address was specially kept to the things that had been

accomplished among the Gentiles. Yet we very well know how much of

thrilling interest he had met with in his associations with his own people, in

addition to the occasions when their fortunes were inevitably linked with

the things that happened to the Gentiles. Throughout it is evident what the

returned ambassador of Jesus Christ had in his eye and on his heart. In a

sense, he staked all on accrediting the Gentiles as heirs of the grace of

God, and to be acknowledged as fellow-heirs with himself and the Church

he was addressing. His own singleness of eye and purity of mind and

fidelity to his original call appear in bright and bold relief in all this.



character was no longer the thing it was when, some years ago, he had first

visited the Church at Jerusalem as a convert. This is his fifth visit since his

conversion. Now for him to testify, and to testify “particularly,” was to

secure a ready hearing and a trusted attention.


Ø      They believe him.

Ø      And they “glorify” God. Envy, and bigotry, and pride, and

exclusiveness are falling away from that typical Church,

the mother of us all,” Length and breadth are seen and are

acknowledged in the gospel of Christ. The world’s day has

dawned, and the light of it, refused by so many, is entering

into the eyes of that meeting of the chief pastor at the time at

Jerusalem, and the elders. And they did well to “glorify the Lord”

because of it.

21 “And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are

among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise

their children, neither to walk after the customs.”  Have been for are, Authorized

Version; concerning for of, Authorized Version; telling them not for saying that

they ought not, Authorized Version. Have been informed (κατηχήθησαν

kataechaethaesanthey were instructed - see ch. 18:25; Luke 1:4; Romans 2:18, etc.

The verb properly means to instruct by word of mouth, whence our "catechism."

The customs (τοῖς ἔθεσιν – tois ethesin); see ch. 6:14, both for the phrase and

the sentiment, and ch.15:1, note; 26:3; 28:17. Ἔθος is a favorite word of Luke's,

occurring ten times in his Gospel and in the Acts, and only twice in the New

Testament elsewhere (John 19:40; Hebrews 10:25; see Hobart, on Luke 2:27).

22 “What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they

will hear that thou art come.”  The Received Text omits the clause in the Textus

Receptus rendered the multitude must needs come together in the Authorized Version;

they will certainly hear for they will hear, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus.

The πάντως – pantos - undoubtedly, which in the Authorized Version belongs to the

omitted clause, is rendered "certainly" in the Received Text.

23 “Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow

on them;”  Which have a vow; meaning emphatically the vow of a Nazarite.

24 “Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them,

that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof

they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also

walkest orderly, and keepest the law.”  These for them, Authorized Version;

for them for with them, Authorized Version; shall know for may know, Authorized

Version; there is no truth in the things, etc., for those things... are nothing,

Authorized Version; have been for were, Authorized Version; keeping for and

keepest, Authorized Version. As regards the transaction recommended by James,

Kypke (quoted by Meyer) says, "It was a received thing among the Jews, and was

reckoned an act of eminent piety, for a rich man to undertake to bear, on behalf of

poor Nazarites, the expense of those sacrifices which they had to offer when they

shaved their heads at the expiration of their vow." Josephus seems to allude to the

custom, and to speak of King Agrippa as acting in accordance with it, when he

 says of him that he ordered great numbers of Nazarites to be shaved ('Ant. Jud.,'

19. 6:1). The sacrifices were costly, consisting of "three beasts, one for a burnt

offering, another for a sin offering, and a third for a peace offering" (Lightfoot,

vol. 9. p. 307). Alexander Jannaeus is said to have contributed nine hundred

victims for three hundred Nazarites ('Dict. of Bible,' under "Nazarite;" compare

I Maccabees 3:49). Purify thyself; ἁγνίσθητι – hagnisthaeti – be you being purified,

the word used in the Septuagint of Numbers 6:2-3, 8 (with its compound

ἁφαγνίσασθαι – haphagnisasthai - , and co-derivatives ἁγνεία – hagneia, and

ἅγιος hagios for the corresponding Hebrew הַזִּיד, to take the Nazarite vow. Paul,

therefore, became a Nazarite of days for seven days, intending at the end of the time

to offer the prescribed sacrifices for himself and his four companions (see, however,

note on v. 26, at the end). Be at charges for them (δαπάνησον ἐπ αὐτοῖς – dapanaeson

ep hautois – you bear their expenses). Make the necessary expenditure on their account,

that they may shave their heads, which they could not do till the prescribed sacrifices

were offered.

25 “As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that

they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things

offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.”

But as for as, Authorized Version; have believed for believe, Authorized Version;

wrote giving judgment for have written and concluded, Authorized Version; the

Received Authorized Version Text omits the clause rendered that they observe

no such thing, save only, in the Authorized Version; should keep for keep,

Authorized Version; sacrificed for offered, Authorized Version; what is strangled

for strangled, Authorized Version. As touching the Gentiles, etc. What follows is,

of course, a quotation from "the decrees that had been ordained of the apostles

and elders that were at Jerusalem" (ch. 16:4), of which the text is given in

ch.15:19-20, 28. Observe the use of the identical words - κρίναντεςkrinantes –

judging; deciding, in ch.15:19;  16:4; and in this verse; and of ἐπεστείλαμεν

episteilamendispatch an epistle, in this verse and in ch.15:20, with its cognate

διεστειλάμεθα – diesteilametha -  we gave assignment; commandment and

ἀπεστάλκαμεν – apestalkamen – we have commissioned, ch. 15:24, 27. This

reference on the part of James to the decrees was very important as a

confirmation of "the gospel which Paul preached among the Gentiles"

(Galatians 2:2). It also marks distinctly the upright and honorable conduct

of James, and the concord of the apostles.



The Perils of Over-Caution  (vs. 20-25)


For the details of these verses, reference must be made to the exegetical

portion of this Commentary. We should fully understand:


1. The intense enmity of the Judaizing party against Paul.

2. The opportunity of increasing that enmity found in the fact that many of

Paul’s enemies from Asia and Europe were present in Jerusalem at this

time, attending the feast.

3. The difficulty of the Christian leaders, who had not openly broken with

rabbinical Mosaism, and consequently found Paul’s presence in the city

a source of extreme anxiety. They could not openly condemn him; and

indeed this they were not prepared to do. They could not openly approve

him, for this would be sure to rouse dissension, and it would certainly put

Paul’s life in peril.

4. The spirit and temper of the apostle himself, who was rather bold than

cautious, and had on several important occasions (as, e.g.  ch. 19:30-31)

to be actually held back from courses of action that were hardly

prudent. The leaders of the Church at Jerusalem tried to master the

difficulties of the position by compromise, which is usually a sign of

conscious weakness, and often rather makes than settles the difficulty with

which it deals. “The heads of the Church in Jerusalem dreaded nothing but

an uproar, if Paul’s presence in the city should become known. In

order, therefore, to appease the multitude, they proposed to the apostle to

observe the sacred usages publicly in the temple, with four men who were

paying their vows, and to present an offering for himself — a proposal

which he willingly adopted. But although the concession of the apostles to

the weak brethren proceeded from a good intention, yet it turned out

disastrously. The furious enemies of Paul were “only the more

exasperated by it” (Olshausen). It was a case of “over-caution,” and it well

illustrates the weakness and the peril that usually lie in over-cautious



  • THE PLACE FOR COMPROMISE. Which is the practical expression

of extreme caution, and the constant resort of cautious dispositions. It is



Ø      When the matter in dispute cannot have a full and final adjustment.

Ø      When such serious interests are at stake that it is important not to keep

open the dispute.

Ø      When both parties have a measure of right on their sides, and the claim

of each must be moderated to admit the right of the others.

Ø      When the intense feeling of the disputants prevents the acceptance

of any positive settlement. These may be illustrated both from

worldly and from Christian spheres.


  • THE PERILS OF COMPROMISE. They arise from the fact that, as a



Ø      Compromise settles nothing, but really leaves the old difficulty to find

a new expression.

Ø      It keeps in relation parties who would be much better apart.

Ø      It gives those who are in the wrong, an impression of weakness in

those who suggest the compromise, and so encourages them in the

wrong and leads them to take advantage of the weakness; as is

illustrated in the case before us of the Judaizing party.



UPON WHAT IS RIGHT. Nothing disarms opposition as this does, and

nothing settles disputes as a fine and wise decision. If the apostolic council

had simply and firmly accepted Paul, given their public testimony to

their confidence in him, and explained the relation in which the Gentile

Churches and their teacher stood to the Jewish Churches and their

teachers, mistakes would have been corrected, opposition would have been

checked, and Paul’s enemies would have failed to make a party. All the

calamities that followed, though foreordained of God, are, on their human

side, traceable to the over-caution and weak compromise of the Jerusalem

apostles. Learn the value of prudence and caution in the practical concerns

of life, but learn also the perils of the exaggeration of caution, and the

adoption of compromises when we have before us questions of right and

wrong. RIGHT is RIGHT, and we must stand to it whatever may be

the peril.

26 “Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them

entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of

purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.” 

Went for entered, Authorized Version; declaring the fulfillment for to signify

the accomplishment, Authorized Version; the offering was for that an offering

should be, Authorized Version.   Paul took the men. Paul's acquiescence in

James's advice is an instance of what he says of himself (I Corinthians 9:20),

and is in accordance with his conduct in circumcising Timothy (ch. 16:3).

But that he did not attach any intrinsic importance even to circumcision, and

much less to the minor Jewish ceremonies, is clear from such passages as

Romans 2:28-29; I Corinthians 7:19; Galatians 5:6; 6:15; Philippians 3:3, etc.

Purifying himself with them, etc. (ἁγνισθεὶς – hagnistheis – being purified); see

note on v. 24. James's advice had been Τούτους παραλαβὼν ἁγνίσθητι σὺν αὐτοῖς: -

Toutous paralabon hagnisthaeti sun autois – these take along and be you being

purified with them: in obedience to that advice Paul now Παραλαβὼν τοὺς ἄνδρας

σὺν αὐτοῖς ἁγνισθεὶς εἰσήει εἰς τὸ ἱερόν – Paralabon tous andras sun autois

hagnistheis eisaeei eis to hieron – taking along the men with him the next day

into the sanctuary. What was the particular form by which a person who wished

to associate himself with others under a Nazaritic vow (note on v. 24) did so is

not known; nor how long before the expiration of the vow such association must

be made. But from the mention of "seven days" in v. 27 (which is the number

named in Numbers 6:9, in case of an accidental uncleanness), it seems highly

probable that "seven days" was the term during which a person must have

conformed to the Nazaritic vow to entitle him to "be at charges," as well, perhaps,

as the time during which Nazarites, at the end of their vow, had to undergo special

purification. Declaring the fulfillment, etc. The vow of the four men had been for

at least thirty days (the minimum period of such vow); but whatever length of time

it had been for, such time would have expired by the end of the seven days, and

probably long before. We know not how long they might have been waiting for

some one to "be at charges" for them, and provide the sacrifices, without which

they could not shave their heads and accomplish their vow. But it is obvious that

some notice must be given to the priests in the temple of the day when one or

more Nazarites would present themselves at "the door of the tabernacle of the

congregation," to offer the prescribed offerings. And this accordingly Paul and

the four did. Διαγγέλλων – Diaggellon - means "notifying," or "declaring," to the

priests (Exodus 9:16 [Septuagint, answering to the Hebrew סַפֵּר]; Romans 9:27;

Joshua 6:9, Septuagint [Joshua 6:10, Authorized Version, "bid"]). Until the

offering was offered, etc. This is interpreted in two ways. Meyer makes "until"

depend upon "the fulfillment of the days," so as to define that fulfillment as not

taking place till the offering was offered. Wieseler makes "until" depend upon

"he entered into the temple," with the idea supplied, "and remained there,"

or "came there daily;" supposing that it was the custom for Nazarites to finish

up their time of separation by passing the last seven days, or at least being

present daily, in "the court of the women, where was the apartment appropriated

to the Nazarites" (Lewin, it. p. 142). If, however, with Howson, Lewin and

others, we understand the word ἀγνίζεσθαι – hagnizesthai - , in vs. 24 and 20,

not generally of taking the Nazarite vow, but of certain special purifications at

the close of a Nazaritic vow, which lasted seven days immediately before the

offerings were made and the head shaven, then a very easy and natural rendering

of the words follows: "Notifying their intention of now completing the seven

days of their purification, until the offering for each of them was offered." Alford,

in loc., justifies by examples the aorist indicative προσηνέχθη – prosaenechthae –

was offered, instead of the subjunctive, which is more usual. Lewin thinks that

Paul had taken a Nazaritic vow after his escape from death at Ephesus, or at Corinth;

but there is no evidence of this, and it is hardly consistent with James's advice. Renan

thinks it doubtful whether or not Paul took the Nazaritic vow at all, but inclines to

this as the best interpretation ('St. Paul,' p. 518, note).




Paul and the Levitical Usages (vs. 17-26)


Paul’s gospel was that of SALVATION BY JESUS CHRIST ALONE, as

contrasted with the principle of salvation by legal obedience. But he did not

contend against the Law and against Mosaism as such — only against the

doctrine that the observance was indispensable to salvation. The spirit of

evangelical freedom made him tolerant of the observance in the case of born

Jews, while at the same time he contended for the emancipation of the Gentile

Christians from the claims of the Law (I Corinthians 7:18-19).



necessary to study and consider human nature as it is. No acting as if in a

vacuum, no trying to carry out abstract principles, regardless of men’s

habit of thinking and acting, can be either right or successful. The followers

of Christ were to be “wise as serpents, yet harmless as doves.”  (Matthew

10:16)  Want of tact is often a greater hindrance to success than want of

greater gifts of head and heart. Men are repelled by disregard of their feelings,

and often won over by trifling concessions, which cost nothing important to

those who make them or to the cause of truth. But serious cases of conscience

may arise under these conditions; and prudence ceases to be a virtue

whenever it is practiced at the expense of truth or of truthfulness.



WEAK, In these difficult cases love must be the great guiding principle

(Romans 15:1). Christian love “endureth all things.” (I Corinthians 13:7)

It has a delicate intelligence of the needs of the weak; it practices a fine self-

denial, condescends to the lowlier in word and in deed. In such weakness

there is true strength. It demands intellectual strength, to distinguish between

form and contents, between the shell and the kernel; and firmness of character,

to hold fast to the main matter, while those of subordinate importance are

given up; constancy and faithfulness, are not to deny the law of Christ, while

promoting love amongst His disciples. In things indifferent we may take a

part, provided we clearly see the way to promote the kingdom of God in so

doing; but at the same time, we must do nothing to favor the opinion that

such things are necessary to salvation. In the whole episode we may see the

victory of love that “seeketh not her own” (ibid. v. 5) over bigotry and narrow

mindedness; thus a forecast of the union of Israel and the heathen world in

Christ, and a triumph of the Divine counsel in the extension of His kingdom

and the diffusion of His thoughts of salvation. With reference to Paul, it

illustrates his saying, “To the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the

Jews; to those under the Law, as under the Law, that I might gain those

under the Law.”   (I Corinthians 9:20-22)




Relations Between Disciples (vs. 18-26)


Our Lord has said, By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples,

if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). It was of the very last

importance that, in the early days of Christianity, there should be inward

harmony and outward concord among the disciples of Jesus. Division

would have been grave disaster, if not irreparable defeat. But with the

strongest reasons for desiring unanimity and a complete understanding, we

have to face:




BRETHREN, then as now. There is a great deal really contained in the

simple statement, “Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were

present” (v. 18). It was a meeting of two streams, differently composed.

It was a meeting of those who believed in the Law with the addition of

faith in Jesus Christ, and of those who believed in Jesus Christ with a high

regard for the Law as a venerable but passing institution. Between these

and those the Mosaic Law held a very different position, seriously affecting

their views of doctrine, of religious activity, and of daily behavior. It

required the utmost charity and forbearance on the part of both to maintain

positively friendly relations. There must have been no little constraint, there

was probably some discomfort in the opening interview. Thus is it now,

and for a long time will be, between Christian disciples. Differences of

social standing, of pecuniary position, of education and refinement, of

ecclesiastical connection, of intellectual tendency (to liberalism on the one

hand, or conservatism on the other), will interpose between Christian

disciples and make their relations delicate, difficult, strained.


  • THE RECONCILING ASPECT. Very wisely indeed Paul passed

immediately from the introductory salutation to a full narration of “all that

God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry” (v. 19). This was

striking the true note, — the note that brought peace and concord; when

they heard it, they glorified the Lord” (v. 20). It is certain that if Paul had

spoken in an argumentative strain they would not have been thus

unanimous; but they all rejoiced to know that through his instrumentality

— though he had worked with different weapons from those in their hands

men and women had been turned from dumb idols to serve THE

LIVING GOD! This is the reconciling aspect in which to present our cause.

However our distinctive views may differ from those of the men whom we

meet in conference, or before whom we lay our case, if we can relate a true

and simple story of souls converted, of lives transformed, of families or tribes

or islands altogether changed and renewed “in the spirit of their mind,” we

go a long way — if not all the way — to convince those who hear that we

are “disciples of Christ indeed;” they will glorify God in us.



whether the expedient of James and of his friends was wise or unwise

(vs. 20-24). Certainly it failed in its object. It is also in doubt whether

Paul, with his views, was right in yielding to the wish of the elders (v. 26);

certainly by doing so he endangered his life and lost his liberty without

securing his end. But there are some certainties here.


Ø      That it is right to look at the question before us from our opponent’s

point of view.

Ø      That it is wise to conform as far as possible to our opponent’s wishes.

Ø      That we should always be ready to offer or accept an honorable

compromise (v. 25).

Ø      That the utmost scrupulousness cannot prevent ill-natured or bigoted

misunderstanding (v. 21).

Ø      That nonconformity may be as honorable and advantageous as

conformity (Romans 14:4-7).

27 “And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia,

when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him,”

Completed for ended, Authorized Version; from for which were of, Authorized Version;

multitude for people, Authorized Version. The seven days; showing clearly that some

customary term of preparation for the offerings and shaving of the head is meant.

This shows also that "the days" in the preceding verse meant the "seven days" of

preparation rather than "the days" of the whole Nazaritic vow. The Jews from Asia;

come up for Pentecost. How hostile the Asiatic Jews were appears from ch. 19:9.

When they saw him in the temple, whither he had come to complete the seven days

of preparation. It was apparently the fifth day (see ch. 24:11, note). How often the

best meant attempts at conciliation fail through the uncharitable suspicions of a

man's opponents! The temple. It must be remembered throughout that it is τὸ ἱερόν

to hieron - that is spoken of, which embraces the temple courts, not the ναός – naos –

house (see ch. 3:2, note). Stirred up. Συγχέω – Sugcheo - is found only here in the

New Testament. Properly "to confuse," like the kindred συγχύνω – sugchuno -  

(ch. 2:6; 19:32; v.31, here); and σύγχυσις – sugchusis - confusion (ch. 19:29);

hence "to stir up." It is of frequent use in medical writers (Hobart, 79.).


The tumult was excited by Asiatic Jews who were predetermined to destroy Paul.

It was his faithful missionary labors, therefore, which lay at the root of the trouble;

he knew it, and it helped him to be strong in faith. Christ would protect His own

ambassador.  The charges against him were utterly false.   Paul raised no opposition

to the Law. He never defiled the temple. Trophimus the Gentile had not been brought

there. The enemies of TRUTH always depend on LIES.   False accusation has been

always the resort of fanaticism and bigotry when it is afraid for itself.  Roman

discipline is called in to suppress mob violence and thus help the gospel. So in

after times Roman law prepared the way for THE SPREAD OF CHRISTIANITY!

(See Maurice’s ‘Lectures on the Religion of Rome,’ delivered at Edinburgh 1854,

published 1855.)


28 “Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every

where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought

Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.”  Moreover he for

further brought, Authorized Version; defiled for polluted, Authorized Version.

(For the accusation, compare on ch. 6:13, and above, v. 21.) Brought Greeks also,

etc. No uncircumcised person might go beyond the court of the Gentiles, which

was not in the ἅγιον – hagion – holy place; sanctuary. The ἱερόν – hieron –

temple, which is often used in a wider sense of the whole area, is here restricted

to the ἅγιον (see ch. 3:1, note). But the accusation was utterly false, the offspring

of their own fanatical suspicions. Defiled (κεκοίνωκε – kekoinoke - literally,

made common - see ch. 10:15; 11:9).

 29 (For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian,

whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)

Before seen for seen before, Authorized Version; the Ephesian for an Ephesian,

Authorized Version. Trophimus (see ch.20:4). Having seen him with Paul in

the city, they concluded that he had come with him into the temple.

30 “And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took

Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut.”

Laid hold on for took, Authorized Version; dragged for drew, Authorized Version;

straightway for forth with, Authorized Version. The doors wore shut. The doors

of the gates which separated the ἅγιον, or as Luke here styles it the ἱερόν, from

the court of the Gentiles. They turned Paul out of the ἱερόν, intending to kill him,

and shut the doors, lest, in the confusion and the swaying to and fro of the crowd,

the precincts of the temple should chance to be defiled with blood, or even with

the presence of any who were unclean (see the passages from Josephus, quoted

by Lewin, vol. it. p. 142, note 11). (see v. 28 for Greek)



Party Prejudices (vs. 27-30)


Explain the points of view of the Judaizing party. Zeal for the purity of

Mosaism can be commended. The binding character of Mosaic Law on all

born Jews may be recognized. We cannot wonder that many of the Jews

should regard Christianity as a reform of Judaism, rather than what such

men as Paul saw it to be — the completion and perfection of Judaism.

Regarding it as reformed Judaism, they would plead that its claims rested

on all Gentiles who became Christian Jews. The first indications of the

existence of this Judaizing party within the Christian community we find in

ch. 15:1. Then the matter occasioned so much dispute that the advice

of the apostolic council had to be sought. Their judgment was virtually

against the Judaizing party, and this intensified their opposition, made them

cling even more closely to their party prejudices, and led them to regard

Paul more distinctly as the leader of the more liberal views which they

hated. They followed the apostle everywhere; they tried to undermine his

influence and destroy his work; and it even seems that they resolved not to

rest until they had secured his death. They are striking examples of the

worst phases of the sectarian spirit, which blinds to truth, hardens from

conviction, destroys a man’s tenderness, and makes cruelty and crime

possible to him. Scarcely any evil force has exerted in history so baneful an

influence as that of the party spirit. It was an ideal time which the poetical

historian describes, “when none was for a party, but all were for the state.”

Still the sectarian and party spirit is the gravest trouble afflicting Christ’s

Church, and the most serious hindrance to the perfecting of Christ’s

kingdom. But we need to make a careful distinction between party spirit

and party action. Sectional action may be an important element in working.

More can be accomplished by sections devoting their attention to parts.

But party spirit, which means jealous feeling separating the sections, is

always bad, for those who feel the jealousy and for those who suffer from

its schemes. Taking illustration from what is narrated of these Judaizing

teachers, we notice that party prejudice:


  • BLINDS TO FACT AND TRUTH. If the party has a piece of truth, it is

but a piece, and yet it often prevents the apprehension of any other related

or higher truth. And even worse is its power to distort or deny facts. The

party man will see or admit nothing that does not tell for his party. Paul

had facts and truths, but these opponents would give him no calm

consideration. They really shouted him down, as did the excited

Ephesians, who cried all day, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians.”

If we find an unwillingness to admit facts or to calmly consider phases

of truth presented for our consideration, then we may gravely fear lest

we be giving place to party prejudices.


  • INVOLVES INJUSTICE. In dealing with individuals. For the partisan

associates the holder of an objectionable theory with the theory, and is

easily led to vent his annoyance at the theory upon the holder and

propounder of it. The sectional and party spirit is at the root of all

religious persecution. Men are not unjust when they contend for

God’s truth, but only when they contend for some ism of their own,

which they persuade themselves is God’s truth. Christ says to all

who think of using external forces for him, “Put up thy sword into

its sheath.”  (John 18:11)



It is seen in the difficulty of correcting the mistakes on which sects now

divide from each other. The “common ground” is little regarded, and

the points of difference are unduly exaggerated, and men stand to their

little peculiarities and special points as if the whole gospel gathered

up into their side and piece of doctrine. And if any try to free them

from their prejudice, and let in on them a little generous light, they

only retire further in and hold their party sentiment tighter than ever.

Surely the full warning of these Judaizers in Paul’s time has not been

sufficiently recognized in these days of a divided Church and unduly

magnified theological and ecclesiastical differences.

31 “And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain

of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar.”  Were seeking for went about,

Authorized Version; up to for unto, Authorized Version; confusion for an uproar,

Authorized Version.  Tidings; φάσιςphasis – allegation - only here in the New

Testament. (εὐαγγελίζω euangelizo – tidings, bring, declare, preach, show good

or glad tidings – is used of any message designed to cheer those who receive it –

Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words – CY – 2018)  The legal

use of the word in Greek is an "information" against any one laid before a

magistrate. Here it is the information conveyed to the tribune by

the sentinels on guard (Lange; see Hist. of Susanna 55). Came up; viz. to the

castle of Antonia, to which steps led up from the temple area on the northwest

side (see vs. 32 and 35). The chief captain; the chiliarch, or tribune; literally,

the commander of a thousand men (see John 18:12). The band (τῆς σπείρης –

taes speiraes – the band; the squadron); the cohort which formed the Roman

garrison of Antonia (see ch.10:1, note; also vs. 32-33, etc.; 22:24, 26, etc.).

32 “Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto

them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left

beating of Paul.”  And forthwith he for who immediately, Authorized Version;

upon for unto, Authorized Version; and they, when, etc., left off for and when

they, etc., they left, Authorized Version; beating for beating of, Authorized

Version. Ran down upon (κατέδραμεν ἐπ’ – katedramen ep’ – ran down on).

Κατατρέχω only occurs here in the New Testament, but is used in the Septuagint

of I Kings 19:20, followed by ὀπίσω – opizo - to run after. In classical Greek it

governs an accusative or genitive of the person or thing attacked. Here the force

of κατά - kata seems to be merely the running down from the castle of Antonia,

and therefore the Authorized Version’s unto seems preferable to the Revised

Version’s upon.

33 “Then the chief captain came near, and took him, and commanded him to be

bound with two chains; and demanded who he was, and what he had done.:

Laid hold on for took, Authorized Version; inquired for demanded, Authorized

Version. Laid hold on (ἐπελάβετο – epelabeto – got hold); see ch. 17:19, note.

Bound with two chains; as Peter was (ch. 12:6). Ἄλυσινalusin – chains

and in the singular means properly "a chain on the hands" as opposed to πέδη

pedae -  a fetter (Mark 5:4); and therefore the two chains are not to be understood

of chains on his hands and feet, with Kuinoel, but, as in the case of Peter, of

chains fastening him to a soldier on both hands.

34 “And some cried one thing, some another, among the multitude: and

when he could not know the certainty for the tumult, he commanded him

to be carried into the castle.”  Shouted for cried, Authorized Version and Textus

Receptus; crowd for multitude, Authorized Version; uproar for tumult, Authorized

Version; brought for carried, Authorized Version. The certainty. He could not get

at the truth because of the tumult and the different accounts given first by one and

then by another. The Greek word τὸ ἀσφαλέςto asphales - certainty  and its


·         ἀσφαλεία – asphaleia – safely; securely – ch. 5:23

·         ἀσφαλῶς – asphalos  - assuredly; certainly – ch. 2:36

·         ἀσφαλίζω – aphalizo – to make safe or sure – Matthew 27:64-66) and

·         ἐπισφαλής – episphalaes -  dangerous; uncertain – ch. 27:9

are of frequent use by Luke (ch. 2:36; 5:23; 16:23-24; 22:30; 25:26; 27:9; Luke 1:4).

These words are all very much used by medical writers, and specially the last

(ἐπισφαλής), which is used by Luke alone in the New Testament. The castle

(τὴν παρεμβολήν – taen parembolaen – the citadel; camp), "the camp or

barracks attached to the tower of Antonia" (Alford); ch. 22:24;  23:10, 16, 32.

It means the castle-yard within the fortifications, with whatever buildings were in it.

35 “And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the

soldiers for the violence of the people.”  Crowd for people, Authorized Version.

Borne of the soldiers. Lifted off his legs and carried up the steps. The stairs from

the temple area at the northwest corner to the castle of Antonia (see v. 31, note,

and v. 32). Alford quotes the description of the fort Antonia in Josephus, 'Bell.

Jud.,' 5. 5:8, in which he says (Traill's translation), "Its general appearance was

that of a tower with other towers at each of the four corners. That at the

southeast angle rose to an elevation of seventy cubits, so that from thence there

was a complete view of the temple. Where it adjoined the colonnades of the

temple it had passages leading down to both, through which the guards - for

in the fortress there always lay a Roman legion - descended and disposed

themselves about the colonnades in arms at the festivals, to watch the people,

and repress any insurrectionary movement."

36 “For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, Away with him.”

Crying out for crying, Authorized Version. Away with him. The cry of those

who thirsted for the blood of Jesus Christ (Luke 23:18; see also here ch. 22:22,

where the sense comes out fully).

37 “And as Paul was to be led into the castle, he said unto the chief captain,

May I speak unto thee? Who said, Canst thou speak Greek?”  About to be

brought for to be led, Authorized Version; saith for said, Authorized Version;

say something for speak, Authorized Version; and he for who, Authorized Version;

dost thou know for canst thou speak, Authorized Version. About to be brought into

the castle. He had nearly reached the top of the stairs, and there was, perhaps, a

brief halt while the gates of the castle yard were being opened. Paul seized the

opportunity to address Lysias in Greek. Dost thou know Greek? (Ἑλληνιστὶ

γινώσκειςHellaenisti ginoskeis). According to some, λαλεῖν – lalein – speak is

to be understood, "Dost thou know how to speak Greek?" after the analogy of

Λαλοῦντες Ἀζωτιστί - Dalountes Azotisti -  and Οὐκ εἰσὶν ἐπιγινώσκοντες

λαλεῖν Ιουδαι'στ - Ouk eisin epiginoskontes lalein Ioudai’sti – could not

speak in the Jews language, in Nehemiah 13:24. But others (Meyer, Alford, etc.)

say that there is no ellipse of λαλεῖν, but that Ἐλληνιστὶ γινώσκειν Συριστὶ

ἐπισταμένους Hellaenissti ginoskein Suristi epistamenous - (Xenophon),

"Graece nescire" (Cicero), mean to know or not to know the Greek and

Syrian languages.

38 “Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar,

and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers?”

Art thou not then the for art not thou that, Authorized Version; stirred up to

sedition for madest an uproar, Authorized Version; led for leddest, Authorized

Version; the four thousand men of the Assassins for four thousand men that were

murderers, Authorized Version. Art thou not then, etc.? or as Meyer, "Thou art

not then;" either way implying that Lysias had concluded that he was the Egyptian,

but had now discovered his mistake. The Egyptian, etc. He whom Josephus calls

(' Bell. Jud.,' it. 13:5) "the Egyptian false prophet," and relates that, having

collected above thirty thousand followers, he advanced from the desert to the

Mount of Olives, intending to overpower the Roman garrison and make himself

tyrant of Jerusalem, with the help of his δορυφόροι – doruphoroi - body-guard,

who might very probably be composed of the Assassins or Sicarii, mentioned

in the text. Stirred up to sedition (ἀναστατώσας – anastatosas – raising an

insurrection) The difference between the Authorized Version and the Revised

Version is that the former takes the verb in an intransitive sense, "to make an

uproar," the latter in a transitive sense, governing the "four thousand men."

In the only two other places where it occurs in the New Testament (ch. 17:6;

Galatians 5:12) it is transitive. It is not a classical word. The four thousand men.

Josephus, in the above-cited passage, reckons the followers of the Egyptian

impostor at above thirty thousand. But such discrepancies are of no account,

partly because of the known looseness with which numbers are stated, and

Josephus's disposition to exaggerate; partly because of the real fluctuation in the

numbers of insurgents at different periods of an insurrection; and partly because

it is very possible that a soldier like Lysias would take no count of the mere rabble,

but only of the disciplined and armed soldiers such as these Sicarii were. It may

be added that Josephus himself seems to distinguish between the rabble and the

fighting men, because, though in the 'Bell. Jud.,' it. 13:5 he says that Felix attacked

or took prisoners "most of his followers," in the 'Ant. Jud.,' 20. 8:6 he makes the

number of slain "four hundred," and of prisoners "two hundred" - a very small

proportion of thirty thousand. The Egyptian had promised his deluded followers

that the walls of Jerusalem would fall down like those of Jericho. It is not known

exactly in what year the insurrection took place, but it was, as Renan says, "pen de

temps auparavant" ('St. Paul,' p. 525). The Egyptian himself contrived to run away

and disappear; hence the thought that he was the author of this new tumult at

Jerusalem. The Sicarii were a band of fanatical murderers, who, in the disturbed

times preceding the destruction of Jerusalem, went about armed with daggers, and

in broad daylight and in the public thoroughfares murdered whoever was obnoxious

to them. (This violence sounds familiar in our own day!  CY – 2018)   Among others

they murdered the high priest Jonathan at the instigation of Felix (Josephus, 'Ant.

Jud.,' 20. 6:7; 'Bell. Jud.,' 2, 13:3).

39 “But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia,

a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the

people.”  I am a Jew for I am a man which am a Jew, Authorized Version;

in for a city in, Authorized Version; give me leave for suffer me, Authorized Version.

A citizen of no mean city; οὐκ ἀσήμου πόλεως – ouk asaemou poleos – not an

Insignificant city, an elegant classical expression. Οκ ἄσημος Ἐλλήνων πόλις

Ouk asaemos Hellaenon polis – not an insignificant Greek city - (Euripides, 'Ion.,' 8).



The Pastor and Elders of the Church not Infallible (vs. 29-30)


There may be considered to be some uncertainty as to the exact merits of

the remarkable case which the history reproduces in this passage, but

without rendering any verdict, pronouncing any opinion, or even offering

any suggestion. In the room that is accordingly allowed for option, it is

believed that the following positions, as they are certainly maintainable in

themselves, are also to be impressed on us by the present history:






There was not a little in the exact tone of those who urged on Paul a

certain course (v. 20) and in the exact time which they used for pressing

their suit, which invests it with suspicion, and which may very possibly

have done so with Paul.





quite possible that the present was an occasion which Paul would have

described as one of those when he would make himself all things to all

men. It is also quite possible that this was a right occasion of observing

that practice. And lastly, for that very reason the more, it may seem quite

possible, that Paul’s judgment was in no degree hoodwinked, nor his

conscience eclipsed, when he yielded to the advice urged upon him. As no

whisper of censure seems breathed upon him, the providence of God, nay,

the Spirit Himself, may have been his Guide now, to the end that facts

should teach those who were responsible for the advice, while Paul would

feel, ay, genuinely feel, that the compensation that was given to him for his

sufferings consisted in the audience of Jew and Gentile of all sorts, of

Roman governors and officers and soldiers, which he had in consequence

the opportunity of addressing (v. 39). If Paul were mistaken and at fault

now, he reaps his punishment, though still he rescues some advantage out

of all for Christ and the gospel. And he is taught that not even the kindness

of his heart and willingness “to be persuaded” by the skilful representations

in affection’s hour of others, can be a substitute for the individual, steady,

regulated judgment and conscience of the Christian. If he were not

mistaken, the same lesson is taught, though by a very different route. He

himself held and acted upon the conviction that his individual judgment,

under the guidance of the Divine Spirit, should have its way — that

judgment going to this that, though himself suffered, the leaders of the

Church and “many thousands of zealots of the Law” should be effectually








Ø      The intended short way out of an apprehended difficulty and danger,

suggested with coaxing tones and words (v. 20, “Thou seest, brother “),

proves a very long and painful way. Who can tell what must have been the

excited apprehensions of James and the elders as the riot went on, nor

stopped in a sense, till Paul set off for Rome itself?


Ø      For Paul, whose is both the active work and the keen suffering, “the

beginning of the end” dates from this very Church meeting at Jerusalem.

The road is opened to Rome and to Caesar and to “the palace and all other

places left for Paul’s ministry. And the goal of his career comes into sight

for the racer of keen vision as well as of keen energy. So the gospel gains

fresh wings, and that grace of God which lovingly overrules where perhaps

it was not allowed to rule, is made known to vaster numbers, and amongst

them to some whom it might not have reached in any other way.  

40 “And when he had given him license, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned

with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence,

he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying,”  Leave for license, Authorized

Version; standing for stood...and, Authorized Version; language for tongue;

Authorized Version. The Hebrew language; i.e. the Syro-Chaldaic which was

the vernacular of the Hebrew Jews at that time.




The Compromise (vs. 15-40)

The introduction of Christianity into the world while the temple was still

standing, and the Law of Moses with all its Levitical and ceremonial

ordinances was still in force, might have issued in three ways.

1. All converts to the faith of Jesus Christ from among the Gentiles might

have been forced to become Jews, as far as submission to the whole Law

was concerned.  The first of these issues was that which was contended for

by the bigoted Jews of Jerusalem. They wished that all Christians should

be as it were proselytes to Moses, only with the addition of faith in Jesus

as the promised and long looked-for Christ.

2. Or the Old Testament might then and there have been superseded by the

New, and the Jewish believers as well as the Gentile converts have been

brought at once into the possession of Christian liberty and immunity from

the whole body of ceremonial observances.  The second seems to be that

toward which Paul’s own opinion gravitated, and which the inexorable

logic of the forcible suppression of the Mosaic institutions by the destruction

of Jerusalem confirmed as being according to the mind of God.

3. Or it might have been provided that, while Jewish believers were still

subject to the Law of Moses, those who believed from among the Gentiles

should be wholly free from the bondage of the Law, and only subject to the

institutions and precepts of Christ.  This third way was a complete compromise

accepted by Paul. In deference to the prejudices of the Jewish people, and in

a charitable consideration for opinions and feelings which were almost a part

of their being, he was willing that the Christian Jews should still observe the laws

their fathers, provided that the Gentile disciples were left absolutely flee.

And he was willing as a Jew himself to conform to his brethren’s practice

in this matter. Whatever may have been his speculative opinion, he was

willing to give to the Jewish community the public proof asked for by

James, that “he himself also walked orderly and kept the Law,” and

actually joined the four Nazarites in their vow and was at charges with

them, and went through the legal ceremonies in the temple with them

(v. 26, and ch. 24:18; 25:8).

 The practical lesson, therefore, plainly is

that compromises are lawful and right, provided no essential truth is

sacrificed. In the diversity of the human mind, and the diversity of

influences to which different minds are subject, it frequently happens, as a

matter of fact, that conscientious and upright men, who agree upon many

vital and essential truths, disagree upon others which are less important,

disagree sharply and pointedly. If both parties are to maintain their own

views with unbending rigidity, there can be no common action, no

harmony, no peace. A compromise by which both parties, without giving

up their own belief, agree to keep the points of difference in the

background, and to concede something to each other in practice, is the

only possible way of preserving unity and concord. It is the way sanctioned

and recommended by the great example of Paul. Only we must not

forget to notice the further instructive lesson conveyed by this section, that

the most laudable and best-planned efforts at conciliation are often doomed

to failure by the unreasonable and fanatical violence of those who are most

in the wrong. Compromises imply a measure of humility and a sincere love

of peace. Where there is an arrogant assumption of infallibility, and an

overbearing spirit of domination, men prefer the forcing their own opinion

upon others to an equitable compromise, and love subjugation more than

peace. The highest wisdom and most exalted piety will propose

concessions, which fanatical bigotry will fling back in their teeth. It is in

religion as in politics.  There will always be a party of irreconcilables. 

A Paul in the depth of his love may offer a compromise to which the Jewish

fanatic in his blind bigotry will reply by blows and conspiracies unto death.

And yet in the end the love will triumph, and the violence will be laid in the


Fanaticism and Devotedness (vs. 27-40)

It is impossible not to read these verses with a smile of contempt in view of

the folly and guilt of fanaticism, and, at the same time, with a smile of

satisfaction in view of the calmness and nobility of Christian zeal.

Ø      Its folly.

o        In the first place, it employs a weapon with which it is easily matched.

It has recourse to violence (v. 31); but violence is a usage which others

can easily adopt, and it may be with more effect (v. 32). If religion calls

in the aid of the sword, it is likely enough to find the sword directed, at

the next turn of events, against itself.

o        It uses a weapon which is not at all fitted to its hand. Physical force is

not the appointed method for regenerating the world; “the weapons

of  our warfare are not carnal,” but spiritual.   (II Corinthians 10:4) 

The “kingdom not of this world” does not want its servants to “fight”

with steel and gunpowder.

o        It assails those who, if it would but consider, are its truest friends. Out

of regard for the Law, these fanatical Jews “went about to kill” Paul.

The multitude shouted “Away with him!” (v. 36). But if they had

known better they would, out of regard for the Law, have speeded

Paul on his mission. For Judaism, pure and simple, would inevitably

have perished; but Judaism, as surviving in the truths and institutions

of Christianity, is destined to last as long as time itself, and to be

universal in its range. Had they thought more and looked further,

they would have honored him whom they were in such haste

to kill.

Ø      Its guilt.

o        It charges a man with a crime of which he is absolutely innocent

(vs. 28-29).

o        It proceeds to punish without giving a chance of defending

(vs. 30-31).

o        It denies to a man that which God has bestowed, and which it claims

for itself — a right to his convictions.

o        It dashes itself blindly and vehemently against the purposes of God.

At this time it was striking at Christ’s chosen ambassador, and,

without exception, the most useful servant of God then living.

At many times since then, it has stricken the men who represented

the truth of Christ, and has done sore evil to the Church, and so

to the world.

admirably the attitude of Paul contrasts with the movements of this excited,

tumultuous, bloody mob! We admire:

Ø      his courage in placing himself in the position;

Ø      his calmness throughout (vs. 37-39);

Ø      his readiness (v. 40) — he was prepared at any emergency to speak

the needful word.

Ø      We admire it because we are sure that it all rested upon

his consecration to the cause, and his assurance of the presence of his

Divine Master.

Danger and Deliverance at Jerusalem (vs. 27-40)

Ø      He is represented as an enemy of the Law, like Stephen before him. He

has to confront the blind and murderous storm of human passion, more

dreadful than the waves of the sea, presently to be encountered. Now is the

warning concerning the things to be expected in Jerusalem about to be

fulfilled. The sincerest friends of religion have often to incur the charge of

being its enemies, the truest worshippers of God are denounced as heretics.

Ø      As a violator of the temple, he was said to have “made the holy place

common.” There is a close parallel between this mode of attack and that on

Jesus. Great must have been his consolation to find himself treading in the

footsteps of his Lord, as his great desire was to be conformable to Him.

(Philippians 3:10)  The greatest honor lies in bearing the cross of Jesus,

becoming partaker of His sufferings, being “as He was in the world.”

          (I John 4:17)

AND THAT OF THE SAVIOR. The whole city was in an uproar. He was

rejected by his own countrymen — cast out of the temple. They desired to

slay him, and yet not stain the sacred place; straining at gnats and

swallowing camels. They thought they would do God service in slaying

him. At Ephesus, pagan superstition and the love of gain were against him;

here, Jewish bigotry and fanaticism. Both scenes are warnings against the

misdirection of religious feeling. We need reflection and knowledge to

purify the religious instinct, which is like fire, pernicious if not watched and

kept under control. The murder of Jesus, and all judicial murders of

teachers and leaders, are, considered from the human side, both crimes and


deed. On the one hand we see human passion, blind folly, wicked hatred,

on the part of the Jews; on the other, a bright picture of Christian heroic

courage, self-possession, and sweet patience on the part of the apostle.

And over and above all the light of Divine leading shines, like a pillar of

fire by night. There is the power which protects the servants of God, the

wisdom which employs even its adversaries to carry out its designs, the

love which makes a center of light and warmth within the man’s “own clear

breast.” Man proposes, and God disposes. He guides the well-meant

counsels of his friends to other ends than they supposed, and the designs of

foes to other issues than they had calculated.

up for Paul in the person of a heathen. The Roman tribune stills the uproar,

saves the apostle’s life, gives him the opportunity of clearing himself from

the charge against him, affords him liberty of speech. How impressive is

the scene with which this chapter closes! There stands the preacher in

chains. His pulpit the stairs of the Roman fortress; instead of deacons

surrounding and supporting him, rough Roman soldiers. Murderous cries

instead of psalms precede his discourse. Instead of a calm audience before

him, an enraged mob. But let us draw the veil and look within his heart.

There is the spirit of faith and of love, of wisdom and of strength. There is

that courage which the consciousness of right and truth inspires, a “good

conscience toward God.” (ch. 24:16)  There was that whole devotion which

ever makes its impression on the rudest hearts, and alone gives freedom and

joy.  Above all, the knowledge of a Savior and a God, to whom in life or

death he belongs, from whom neither life nor death can separate.

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