Acts

The later apocryphal works like the second-century Acts of John, Acts of Paul and Acts of Peter, and the third-century Acts of Andrew and Acts of Thomas, were pious romances intended to enhance the reputation of the apostle concerned, especially by legendary miracles, and usually to promote unorthodox views. The traditional title, distinguishing these Acts from the foregoing ones has been the 'Acts of (the) Apostles'. The main Actor and Agent however is the Holy Spirit; others are his instruments. The most encompassing title would be something like, 'The Continuing Words and Deeds of Jesus by his Spirit through his Apostles'. Luke was qualified to write history for he was an educated doctor (there was then, as now, a rigorous training to become a doctor, and Luke's stylish Greek is that of a cultured person). He was qualified as a travelling companion of Paul, and he had lived in Palestine for at least two years (during the time of Paul's imprisonment). It is likely that Luke would have travelled widely in Israel, gathering material for his Gospel and for the early chapters of Acts. As a Gentile he would have familiarized himself with Jewish culture and visited the places of Jesus' earthly ministry. In every description of Israel, Luke writes with the detail that comes from personal experience. Luke would have also interviewed many eyewitnesses, including the elderly Virgin Mary (cf. Lk 1 and 2).

Luke is more than a writer of history; he writes political apologetic, because he is deeply concerned about the attitude of the Roman authorities towards Christianity. First, Luke points out that Roman officials were consistently friendly to Christianity, and some had even become Christians (e.g., the centurion at the cross, the centurion Cornelius, and Sergius Paulus, proconsul of Cyprus). Secondly, the Roman authorities could find no fault in either Jesus or his apostles. Jesus had been accused of sedition, but neither Herod nor Pilate could discover any basis for the accusation. As for Paul, in Philippi the magistrates apologized to him, in Corinth the proconsul Gallio refused to adjudicate, and in Ephesus the town clerk declared Paul and his friends to be innocent. Then Felix, Festus and Agrippa all failed to convict him of any offence - three acquittals corresponding to the three times Luke says Pilate had declared Jesus innocent. Thirdly, the Roman authorities conceded that Christianity was a religio licita because it was not a new religion (which would need to be approved by the state) but rather the purest form of Judaism (which had enjoyed religious freedom under the Romans since the second century BC). Thus Luke's evidence portrays Christianity as harmless, innocent and lawful.

Luke is also diplomatic and reconciling in his presentation of the unity of the church, demonstrating that it was a united church, and that the peril of division between Jewish and Samaritan Christains, and between Jewish and Gentile Christians, was providentially avoided. He also shows that Peter, James and Paul were united in the cause of one gospel and parallels between Peter and Paul's ministries are similar rather than divergent, presenting each with the same commission, gospel and authentication.

The foremost theme of Luke's writing is that of salvation; its being accomplished in the Gospel, and it being proclaimed in the Acts. The universal offer of salvation comes appropriately from the only Gentile contributor to the NT, contributing roughly one quarter at that.



1 1The first book [logon] I wrote, Theophilus [Theophile]

'loved by God' or 'loving God', perhaps kept anonymous due to the persecution of believers. Although the adjective could symbolize every Christian reader, it is likely to be the name of a certain recipient.

, concerned all [pantōn] that Jesus began both to do and to teach, 2until the day in which he was received up, after he had given commandment [entellomai] through the Holy Spirit to the apostles [apostolois]

Apostolos was an envoy, delegate or ambassador, sent out with a message and carrying the authority of the sender.

whom he had chosen [eklegomai]

This verb also used for the appointment of the Twelve. Cf. Lk 6:13; and see also Jn 6:70. Same verb used in 1:24; 9:15; 22:14-15.

. 3To these he also showed himself alive after he suffered [pathein], by many proofs [tekmēriois], appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking about God's Kingdom. 4Being assembled together with them, he commanded them, "Don't depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which you heard from me. 5For John indeed baptized in water, but you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days from now." 6Therefore, when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, are you now restoring [apokathistanō]

This verb shows that the apostles were expecting a political and territorial kingdom; the noun 'Israel' that they were expecting a national kingdom; and the adverbial clause 'at this time' that they were expecting its immediate establishment. The Maccabees had regained national independence in the second century BC for a brief intoxicating period, only to lose it again.

the kingdom to Israel?" 7He said to them, "It isn't for you to know times [chronous] or seasons [kairous] which the Father has set within his own authority [exousia]. 8But you will receive power [dynamin] when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. You will be witnesses [martyres] to me in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth." 9When he had said these things, as they were looking, he was taken up [epairō]

An extravagant description can be found in the conclusion to the 'Epistle to the Apostles', (AD 160): 'there was thunder and lightning and an earthquake, and the heavens parted asunder, and there appeared a bright cloud which bore him up'.

, and a cloud received [hypolambanō] him out of their sight. 10While they were looking steadfastly into the sky as he went, think of it [idou]: two men stood by them in white clothing, 11who also said, "You men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky [ouranon]? This Jesus, who was received up from you into the sky [ouranon] will come back in the same way [hon propon] as you saw him going into the sky [ouranon]." 12Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mountain called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's [sabbatou]

According to the Mishnah 2,000 cubits or about three-quarters of a mile(c.1,100m) the distance beyond which it was considered unlawful for a Jew to travel on the Sabbath day, cf. Ex 16:29. Two thousand cubits was said to be the distance between the Ark and the Israelites when they crossed the Jordan.

journey away. 13When they had come in, they went up into the upper room, where they were staying; that is Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus [Iakōbos Alphaiou; Heb. Ya'akov Ben-Chalfai], Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James [Ioudas Iakōbou; Heb. Y'hudah Ben-Ya'akov]. 14All these with one accord [homothymadon]

A favourite word of Luke's, used ten times and which occurs only once elsewhere in the NT.

continued steadfastly [proskartereō]

The word translated joined … constantly means to be 'busy' or 'persistent' in all activity. Cf. 2:42; 6:4; Ro 12:12 and Col 4:2.

in prayer and supplication, along with the women [gynaixin]

Presumably Mary Magdalene, Joanna (whose husband managed Herod's household) and Susanna (cf. Lk 8:2-3), together perhaps with Mary the mother of James and the others who found the tomb empty.

, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. 15In these days, Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (and the number of names was about one hundred twenty [hōs hekaton eikosin]

In Jewish law a minimum of 120 Jewish men was required to establish a community with its own council. The twelve tribes and the twelve apostles make twelve an obvious symbol of the church.

), and said, 16"Brothers [adelphoi], it was necessary that this Scripture [graphēn; Heb. Tanakh] should be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who was guide to those who took Jesus. 17For he was numbered with us, and received his portion [lagchanō ton klēron] in this ministry [diakonias]. 18Now this man obtained a field with the reward for his wickedness [adikias]

'Infamy', 'villainy' or 'a crime'.

, and falling headlong [prēnēs]

Headlong is the usual meaning. But a different derivation is 'swelled up'.

, his body burst open, and all his intestines [spagchna] gushed out. 19It became known to everyone who lived in Jerusalem that in their language [dialektō]

i.e., Aramaic.

that field was called 'Akeldama,' that is, 'The field of blood.' 20For it is written in the book of Psalms, 'Let his habitation be made desolate [erēmos]. Let no one dwell [katoikōn] therein;' and, 'Let another take his office [episkopēn].' 21"Of the men therefore who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22beginning from the baptism of John, to the day that he was received up from us, of these one must become a witness [martyra] with us of his resurrection." 23They put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas [Barsaban; Heb. Yosef Bar-Sabba], who was surnamed Justus [Ioustos], and Matthias [Matthian; Heb. Mattityahu]. 24They prayed, and said, "You, Lord, who know the hearts [kardiognōsta]

A word Luke uses of God (Ac 14:8' cf. 1 Sa 15:7; Rev 2:23).

of all men [pantōn], show which one of these two you have chosen [eklegō] 25to take part in this ministry [apostolēs] and apostleship [diakonias] from which Judas fell away [parabainō], that he might go to his own place." 26They drew lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles [apostolōn].

2 1Now when the day of Pentecost [Pentēkostēs; Heb. Shavu'ot]

Originally the middle of the three annual Jewish harvest festivals (cf. Dt 16:16) and called either the Feast of Harvest (Ex 23:16), because it celebrated the completion of the grain harvest, or the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost, because it took place seven weeks or fifty days (pentekostos means 'fiftieth') after the Passover, which was when the grain harvesting began (Ex 34:22; Lv 23:15ff; Nu 28:26). Towards the end of the inter-testamental period it also began to be observed as the anniversary of the giving of the law at Mount Sinai, because this was reckoned as having happened fifty days after the Exodus.

had come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2Suddenly there came from the sky a sound like the rushing of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3Tongues [glōssai] like fire appeared and were distributed [diamerizō] to them, and one sat on each of them. 4They were all filled [plēroō] with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other languages [glōssais], as the Spirit gave them the ability to speak. 5Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under the sky. 6When this sound was heard, the multitude came together, and were bewildered, because everyone heard them speaking in his own language. 7They were all amazed and marvelled, saying to one another, "Look [idou], aren't all these who speak Galileans [Galilaioi]

Who were known to have difficulty pronouncing gutturals and had the habit of swallowing syllables when speaking so they earned the reputation of being uncultured and provincial.

? 8How do we hear, everyone in our own native language [dialektō]? 9Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and people from Mesopotamia [Mesopotamian]

These four represent peoples from the Caspian Sea westwards, many of whom will have been descended from the Jewish exiles who had been transported there in the eighth and sixth centuries BC.

, Judea [Ioudaian]

Either the wider area of Palestine and Syria or the Jews inhabiting Mesopotamia and Cappadocia, etc. The strange order of this list of nations has led some to suggest that Luke was following an ancient 'astrological geography' like that of the fourth-century Paul of Alexandria, who tabulated the nations according to the twelve signs of the zodiac.

, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, 10Phrygia, Pamphylia [Pamphylian]

These five areas refer to Asia Minor or Turkey.

, Egypt, the parts of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11Cretans and Arabians: we hear them speaking in our languages [glōssais] the mighty works [megaleia] of God!" 12They were all amazed, and were perplexed, saying one to another, "What does this mean?" 13Others, mocking, said, "They are filled with new wine [gleukous]

Sweet new wine.

." 14But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and spoke out to them, "You men of Judea, and all you who dwell at Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to my words. 15For these aren't drunken, as you suppose, seeing it is only the third hour of the day. 16But this is what [touto estin]

Peter's exposition is similar to what in the Dead Sea Scrolls is called a 'pesher' or 'interpretation' of an OT passage in the light of its fulfilment. The 'this is that' fulfilment motif is distinctive to pesher exegesis and repeatedly found in Jesus' teaching. Pesher interpretation is most characteristic in the apostles' treatment of Scripture.

has been spoken through the prophet Joel: 17'It will be in the last days, says God [Theos; Heb. Adonai], that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh [pasan sarka]. Your sons and your daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions. Your old men will dream dreams. 18Yes, and on my servants [doulos] and on my handmaidens [doulas] in those days, I will pour out my Spirit, and they will prophesy [prophēteuō]. 19I will show wonders [terata] in the sky above, and signs [sēmeia] on the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and billows of smoke. 20The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great [magalēn] and glorious [epiphanē] day of the Lord [kyriou; Heb. Adonai] comes. 21It will be, that whoever will call [epikaleō] on the name of the Lord will be saved [sōzō].' 22"Men of Israel, hear these words! Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved [apodeiknymi] by God to you by mighty works [dynamesi]

Lit. 'powers'.

and wonders [terasi]

Their effect being to arouse astonishment.

and signs [sēmeiois]

Their purpose being to embody or signify spiritual truth.

which God did by him in the midst of you, even as you yourselves know, 23him, being delivered up [ekdotos] by the determined counsel [horizō boulē] and foreknowledge [prongōsei] of God, you have taken by the hand of lawless [anomōn] men, crucified [prospegnymi] and killed; 24whom God raised up, having freed [luō] him from the agony [ōdinas]

Lit. 'birth pains'.

of death, because it was not possible that he should be held [krateō] by it. 25For David says concerning him, 'I saw the Lord always before my face, For he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved [saleuō]. 26Therefore my heart was glad [euphrainō], and my tongue rejoiced [agalliaō]. Moreover my flesh [sarx] also will dwell [kataskēnoō] in hope; 27because you will not leave [psychēn] my soul in Hades [hadēn; Heb. Sh'ol], neither will you allow your Holy One to see decay. 28You made known to me the ways of life. You will make me full of gladness with your presence.' 29"Brothers [adelphoi], I may tell you freely [meta parrēsias] of the patriarch David, that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, he would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, 31he foreseeing this spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was his soul left in Hades [hadēn], nor did his flesh [sarx] see decay [diaphthoran]. 32This Jesus God raised up, to which we all are witnesses [martyres]. 33Being therefore exalted by the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this, which you now see and hear. 34For David didn't ascend into the heavens, but he says himself, 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit by my right hand,35until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet."' 36"Let all the house of Israel therefore know certainly [ginōskō] that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified [stauroō]." 37Now when they heard this, they were cut [katanussomai] to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles [apostolous], "Brothers [adelphoi], what shall we do?" 38Peter said to them, "Repent [metanoeō], and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness [aphesin] of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all who are far off, even as many as the Lord our God will call [proskaleōmai] to himself." 40With many other words he testified [diamartyromai], and exhorted [parakaleō] them, saying, "Save [sōzō] yourselves from this crooked [skolias] generation!" 41Then those who gladly received [apodechomai] his word [logon] were baptized. There were added that day about three thousand souls. 42They continued steadfastly [proskartereō] in the apostles' [apostolōn] teaching and fellowship [koinōnia]

From koinos, 'common'. Koinonia is the word Paul used for the collection he was organizing among the Greek churches, and koinonikos is the Greek for 'generous'. The Essene leaders of the Qumran community were committed to the common ownership of property. To enter into membership the candidate was required to hand over his property and earnings to the Bursar of the Congregation.

, in the breaking of bread, and prayer. 43Fear [phobos] came on every soul, and many wonders and signs [sēmeia] were done through the apostles [apostolōn]. 44All who believed [pisteuontes] were together, and had all things in common [hapanta koina]. 45They sold their possessions and goods, and distributed them to all, according as anyone had need. 46Day by day, continuing steadfastly with one accord [homothymadon] in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness [agalliasei] and singleness of heart, 47praising [aineō] God, and having favour [charin] with all the people. The Lord added to the assembly day by day those who were being saved [sōzō]

The tense of this verb is in the present participle which means either that salvation is timeless or is a progressive experience culminating in final glorification.

.

3 1Peter and John were going up into the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2A certain man who was lame from his mother's womb was being carried, whom they laid daily at the door of the temple which is called Beautiful [Hōraian]

Mostly identified as the Nicanor Gate, which was the main eastern entrance to the temple precincts from the Court of the Gentiles. It is probably the one made of Corinthian brass which Josephus said 'greatly excelled those that were only covered over with silver and gold' ('Wars', V.5.3.). It was about seventy-five feet high and had huge double doors.

, to ask gifts for the needy of those who entered into the temple. 3Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive gifts for the needy. 4Peter, fastening his eyes on him, with John, said, "Look at us." 5He listened to them, expecting to receive something from them. 6But Peter said, "Silver and gold have I none, but what I have, that I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!" 7He took him by the right hand, and raised him up. Immediately his feet and his ankle bones received strength. 8Leaping up, he stood, and began to walk. He entered with them into the temple, walking, leaping, and praising [aineō] God. 9All the people saw him walking and praising God. 10They recognized him, that it was he who used to sit begging for gifts for the needy at the Beautiful Gate of the temple. They were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. 11As the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch [stoa]

This was a cloister or 'portico', formed by a double rows of marbled columns and roofed with cedar, which ran all the way along the eastern wall of the outer court. Jesus had walked and taught in it (Jn 10:23).

that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering. 12When Peter saw it, he responded to the people, "You men of Israel, why do you marvel [thaumazō] at this man? Why do you fasten your eyes on us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made him walk? 13The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his Servant [paida] Jesus, whom you delivered up, and denied [areomai] in the presence of Pilate, when he had determined to release him. 14But you denied [arneomai] the Holy and Righteous [dikaion] One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15and killed the Prince [archēgon]

Could mean either pioneer or giver.

of life, whom God raised from the dead, to which we are witnesses [martyres]. 16By faith [pistei] in his name, his name has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith [pistis] which is through him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. 17"Now, brothers [adelphoi], I know that you did this in ignorance, as did also your rulers [archontes]. 18But the things which God announced by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer [paschō], he thus fulfilled. 19"Repent [metanoeō] therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out [exaleiphō]

Means to wash off, erase, obliterate (cf. Rev 3:5; 7:17; 21:4). Since the ink used then had no acid in it, it did not penetrate the papyrus but just lay on the surface, and could be erased by wiping it with a wet sponge. (Cf. Is 43:25).

, so that there may come times of refreshing [anapsyxeōs]

Can mean rest, relief, respite or refreshment.

from the presence of the Lord, 20and that he may send Christ Jesus, who was ordained [procheirizō] for you before, 21whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration [chronōn apokatastaseōs] of all things [pantōn], which God spoke long ago by the mouth of his holy prophets. 22For Moses indeed said to the fathers, 'The Lord God will raise up [anistēmi] a prophet for you from among your brothers [adelphōn], like me. You shall listen to him in all things whatever he says to you. 23It will be, that every soul [psychē] that will not listen to that prophet will be utterly destroyed from among the people.' 24Yes, and all the prophets from Samuel and those who followed after, as many as have spoken, they also told [katangellō] of these days. 25You are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant [diathēkēs] which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, 'In your seed will all the families [spermati] of the earth be blessed [eulogeō].' 26God, having raised up [anistēmi] his servant [paida], Jesus, sent him to you first, to bless [eulogeō] you, in turning away everyone of you from your wickedness [ponēriōn]."

4 1As they spoke to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple [stratēgos tou hierou] and the Sadducees [Saddoukaioi; Heb. Tz'dukim]

The ruling class of wealthy aristocrats. Politically, they ingratiated themselves with the Romans, and followed a policy of collaboration, so that they feared the subversive implications of the apostles' teaching. Theologically, they believed that the Messianic age had begun in the Maccabean period; so they were not looking for a Messiah. They also did not believe in resurrection, which the apostles proclaimed.

came to them, 2being upset [diaponemai] because they taught the people and proclaimed [katangellō] in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3They laid hands on [epiballō] them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was now evening. 4But many of those who heard the word believed [pisteuō], and the number of the men came to be about five thousand. 5It happened in the morning, that their rulers [archontas], elders [presbyterous], and scribes [grammateis] were gathered together in Jerusalem. 6Annas [Annan]

Although the Romans had deposed him in AD 15, he retained among the Jews his prestige, influence and title (cf. Lk 3:2).

the high priest was there, with Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and as many as were relatives of the high priest. 7When they had stood them in the middle of them, they inquired, "By what power, or in what name, have you done this?" 8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "You rulers [archontes] of the people, and elders [presbyteroi] of Israel, 9if we are examined [anakrinō] today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed [sōzō], 10be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified [stauroō], whom God raised [egeirō] from the dead, in him does this man stand here before you whole [hugiēs]. 11He is 'the stone which was regarded as worthless [exoutheneō] by you, the builders, which has become the head of the corner.' 12There is salvation [sōtēria] in none other, for neither is there any other name under heaven [ouranon], that is given among men, by which we must be saved [sōzō]!" 13Now when they saw the boldness [parrēsian] of Peter and John, and had perceived [katalambanō] that they were unlearned [agrammatoi]

Meaning not that they were illiterate, but that they had received no proper training in Rabbinic theology.

and ignorant [idiōtai]

Laymen or non-professionals; uninstructed.

men, they marvelled. They recognized that they had been with Jesus. 14Seeing the man who was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. 15But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, 16saying, "What shall we do to these men? Because indeed a notable miracle [sēmeion] has been done through them, as can be plainly seen by all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we can't deny it. 17But so that this spreads no further among the people, let's threaten [apeileō] them, that from now on they don't speak to anyone in this name." 18They called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19But Peter and John answered them, "Whether it is right [dikaion] in the sight of God to listen [akouō] to you rather than to God, judge [krinō] for yourselves, 20for we can't help telling the things which we saw and heard." 21When they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people; for everyone glorified [doxazō] God for that which was done. 22For the man on whom this miracle of healing was performed was more than forty years old. 23Being let go, they came to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and the elders [presbyteroi] had said to them. 24When they heard it, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, "O Lord [Despota]

Despotes was a term used of a slave owner and of a ruler of unchallengeable power.

, you are God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all that is in them; 25who by the mouth of your servant [paidos], David, said, 'Why do the nations [ethnē] rage, and the peoples plot [meletaō] a vain thing? 26The kings [archontes] of the earth take a stand, and the rulers take council together [synagō], against the Lord, and against his Christ [christou; Heb. Messiah].' 27"For truly, in this city against your holy servant [paida], Jesus, whom you anointed [chriō], both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles [ethnesin] and the people of Israel, were gathered together 28to do whatever your hand [cheir] and your council foreordained [prooizō] to happen. 29Now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants [doulois] to speak your word with all boldness, 30while you stretch out your hand to heal [eis iasin]; and that signs [sēmeia] and wonders may be done through the name of your holy Servant [paidos] Jesus." 31When they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were gathered together. They were all filled [pimplēmi] with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness [parrēsias]. 32The multitude of those who believed [pisteusantōn] were of one heart and soul [psychē]. Not one of them claimed that anything of the things [hapanta koina]

Cf. 2:44. The Greeks looked back to a golden age in which all property was public, and Pythagoras is said to have practised it with his disciples, and to have coined the epigram 'among friends everything is common' (koina). Plato later incorporated this ideal in his vision of a utopian republic. Then Josephus wrote that the Essenes (Qumran community) 'live the same kind of life as do those whom the Greeks call Pythagoreans' ('Antiquities' XV.10.4). Cf. Dt. 15:4; Lk 4:18; 6:20; 7:22.

which he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. 33With great power [dynamei], the apostles [apostoloi] gave their testimony [martyrion] of the resurrection [anastaseōs] of the Lord Jesus. Great grace [charis te megalē] was on them all. 34For neither was there among them any who lacked, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35and laid them at the apostles' [apostolōn] feet, and distribution was made to each, according as anyone had need. 36Joses [Iōsēs], who by the apostles [apostolōn] was surnamed Barnabas [Barnabas; Heb. Bar-Nabba]

'The Exhorter'.

(which is, being interpreted, Son of Encouragement [huios paraklēseōs]), a Levite [Leuitēs]

According to Numbers 18, Levites were not permitted to be land-owners. Their provision in an agricultural economy was to come through the tithe system. In selling his field, Barnabas is turning his back on financial security. Furthermore, he no longer qualifies for support from the Jewish tithe system, having taken steps towards becoming a champion for the cause of Gentile believers.

, a man of Cyprus by race, 37having a field, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' [apostolōn] feet.

5 1But a certain man named Ananias [Ananias], with Sapphira [Sapphirē], his wife, sold a possession, 2and kept back [nosphizomai]

Means to 'misappropriate'. The same word was used in LXX of Achan's theft (Jos 7:1) and its only other NT occurrence means to steal (Tit 2:10).

part of the price, his wife also being aware [synoida] of it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' [apostolōn] feet. 3But Peter said, "Ananias [Anania], why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back [nosphizō] part of the price of the land? 4While you kept it, didn't it remain your own? After it was sold, wasn't it in your power [exousia]? How is it that you have conceived this thing in your heart [ethou en tē kardia]? You haven't lied to men, but to God." 5Ananias [Ananias], hearing these words, fell down and died. Great fear [phobos megas] came on all who heard these things. 6The young men arose and wrapped him up, and they carried him out and buried him. 7About three hours later, his wife, not knowing what had happened, came in. 8Peter answered her, "Tell me whether you sold the land for so much." She said, "Yes, for so much." 9But Peter asked her, "How is it that you have agreed together [symphōneō] to tempt [peirazō] the Spirit of the Lord? Look [idou], the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out." 10She fell down immediately at his feet, and died. The young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her by her husband. 11Great fear [phobos megas] came on the whole assembly [ekklēsian]

Significantly the first time Luke uses the word (cf. 7:38 and LXX Jos 8:35).

, and on all who heard these things. 12By the hands of the apostles [apostolōn] many signs [sēmeia] and wonders were done among the people. They were all with one accord in Solomon's porch [Stoa]. 13None of the rest dared to join [tolmaō] them, however the people honoured [megalunō] them. 14More believers [pisteuontes] were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women. 15They even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on cots and mattresses, so that as Peter came by, at the least his shadow might overshadow [skia episkiazō]

'Overshadow'; used twice in Luke's gospel of the overshadowing of God's presence (Lk 1:35; 9:34).

some of them. 16Multitudes also came together from the cities around Jerusalem, bringing sick people, and those who were tormented by unclean spirits: and they were all healed [therapeuō]. 17But the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy [zēlou], 18and laid hands on [epiballō tas cheiras] the apostles [apostolous], and put them in public custody [tērēsei]. 19But an angel [angelos] of the Lord opened the prison [phylakēs] doors by night, and brought them out, and said, 20"Go stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words [rhēmata] of this life." 21When they heard this, they entered into the temple about daybreak, and taught. But the high priest came, and those who were with him, and called the council [synedrion] together, and all the senate [gerousian] of the children of Israel [uiōn Israēl], and sent to the prison [desmōtērion] to have them brought. 22But the officers [hypēretai] who came didn't find them in the prison [phylakē]. They returned and reported, 23"We found the prison [desmotērion] shut and locked, and the guards standing before the doors, but when we opened them, we found no one inside!" 24Now when the high priest, the captain of the temple [stratēgos tou ierou], and the chief priests heard these words, they were very perplexed [diaporeō] about them and what might become of this. 25One came and told them, "Look [idou], the men whom you put in prison are in the temple, standing and teaching the people." 26Then the captain [stratēgos] went with the officers [upēretais], and brought them without violence, for they were afraid that the people might stone them. 27When they had brought them, they set them before the council. The high priest questioned [ererōtaō] them, 28saying, "Didn't we strictly command you not to teach in this name? See [idou], you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and intend to bring this man's blood on us." 29But Peter and the apostles [apostoloi] answered, "We must obey God rather than men. 30The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you killed, hanging him on a tree [xylou]. 31God exalted him with his right hand to be a Prince [archēgon] and a Saviour [sōtēra], to give repentance [metanoian] to Israel, and remission [aphesin] of sins. 32We are His witnesses [martyres] of these things; and so also is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him." 33But they, when they heard this, were cut to the heart [diapriomai], and determined to kill them. 34But one stood up in the council [synedriō], a Pharisee [Pharisaios; Heb. Parush] named Gamaliel [Gamaliēl; Heb. Gamli'el]

A Pharisee, so exhibited a more tolerant spirit than the rival party of the Sadducees. Grandson and follower of the famous liberal Rabbi Hillel, he was given the honorific and affectionate title 'Rabban', 'our teacher', and Saul of Tarsus had been one of his pupils (22:3). He had a reputation for scholarship, wisdom and moderation, and was held in high esteem.

, a teacher of the law [nomodidaskalos], honoured by all the people, and commanded to put the apostles out for a little while. 35He said to them, "You men of Israel, be careful concerning these men, what you are about to do. 36For before these days Theudas [Theudas; Heb. Todah]

Josephus mentions men named Theudas and Judas (v.37) ('Anitquities', XX.5.1 and 'Wars', II.8.1' cf. 'Antiquities' XVIII.1.1) but the dates in Josephus and Gamaliel referring to these two do not coincide and therefore reference is made to two men of the same name.

rose up, making himself out to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were dispersed, and came to nothing. 37After this man, Judas [Ioudas; Heb. Y'hudah] of Galilee rose up in the days of the enrollment, and drew away some people after him. He also perished, and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered abroad. 38Now I tell you, withdraw from these men, and leave them alone [aphistamai]. For if this counsel [boulē] or this work [ergon] is of men, it will be overthrown [kataluō]. 39But if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow [kataluō] it, and you would be found even to be fighting against God!" 40They agreed with him. Summoning the apostles [apostolous], they beat them and commanded them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41They therefore departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing [chairō] that they were counted worthy [kataxioō] to suffer dishonour for Jesus' name. 42Every day, in the temple and at home, they never stopped teaching and preaching [euangelizō] Jesus, the Christ.

6 1Now in those days, when the number of the disciples [mathēthōn; Heb. talmidim] was multiplying, a complaint arose [ginomai gongusmos]

The cognate verb is used in LXX to denote the murmuring of the Israelites against Moses (e.g., Ex 16:7; Nu 14:27; 1 Cor 10:10).

from the Hellenists [Hellēnistōn]

Usually supposed to mean that they came from the diaspora, had settled in Palestine and spoke Aramaic. However, Paul called himself Hebraios (e.g., 2 Cor 11:22; Phil 3:5) in spite of the fact that he came from Tarsus and spoke Greek. Therefore Hellenistai is a term that went beyond origin and language to culture; they not only spoke Greek but thought and behaved like Greeks. They were Grecian Jews.

against the Hebrews [Hebraious]

Not only spoke Aramaic but were deeply immersed in Hebrew culture; Hebraic Jews.

, because their widows were neglected [paratheōreō] in the daily service [diakonia]. 2The twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, "It is not appropriate [areston] for us to forsake [kataleipsantas] the word [logon] of God and serve tables [diakonein]. 3Therefore select from among you, brothers [adelphoi], seven men of good report, full of the Holy Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business [chreias]. 4But we will continue steadfastly in prayer and in the ministry [diakonia]

The work of the Twelve and the work of the Seven are alike called diakonia (v1, 4), 'ministry' or 'service'. The former is the ministry of the word or pastoral work, the latter the ministry of tables or social work. The delegation of social welfare to the Seven (v5) is commonly thought to have been the origin of the deaconate although the Seven are not actually called diakonaoi (cf. Rom 16:1; Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 3:8, 12; 4:6).

of the word [logou]." 5These words [logos] pleased the whole multitude [plēthous]. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith [pisteōs] and of the Holy Spirit, Philip [Philippon]

The following seven are all Greek names.

, Prochorus [Prochoron], Nicanor [Nikanora], Timon [Timona], Parmenas [Parmenan], and Nicolaus [Nikolaon], a proselyte [prosēlyton] of Antioch [Antiochea]; 6whom they set before the apostles [apostolōn]. When they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. 7The word [logos] of God increased and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem exceedingly. A great company of the priests were obedient to the faith [pistei]. 8Stephen, full of faith [charitos] and power, performed great wonders [terata] and signs [sēmeia megala] among the people. 9But some of those who were of the synagogue called "The Libertines [Libertinōn]

Libertinoi, a Greek transliteration of a Latin word, were freed slaves and their descendants.

," and of the Cyrenians [Kyrēnaiōn], of the Alexandrians [Alexandreōn], and of those of Cilicia [Kilikias] and Asia [Asias] arose, disputing [syzētountes] with Stephen. 10They weren't able to withstand the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. 11Then they secretly induced [upoballō] men to say, "We have heard him speak blasphemous words [rhēmata blasphēma] against Moses and God." 12They stirred up the people, the elders [presbyterous], and the scribes [grammateis], and came against him and seized [synarpazō] him, and brought him in to the council, 13and set up false witnesses [martyras pseudeis] who said [legō], "This man never stops speaking blasphemous words [rhēmata blasphēma] against this holy place and the law. 14For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy [kataluō] this place, and will change the customs [ethē] which Moses delivered [paradidōmi] to us." 15All who sat in the council, fastening their eyes on him, saw his face like it was the face of an angel [angelou].

7 1The high priest [archiereus] said, "Are these things so?" 2He said, "Brothers [adelphoi] and fathers, listen. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, 3and said to him, 'Get out of your land, and from your relatives, and come into a land which I will show you.' 4Then he came out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and lived in Haran. From there, when his father was dead, God moved him into this land, where you are now living. 5He gave him no inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on. He promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed [spermati] after him, when he still had no child. 6God spoke in this way: that his seed [sperma] would live as aliens [paroikon] in a strange land, and that they would be enslaved [douleuō] and mistreated for four hundred years. 7'I will judge [krinō] the nation to which they will be in bondage,' said God, 'and after that will they come out [exerchomai], and serve [latreuō] me in this place.' 8He gave him the covenant [diathēkēn] of circumcision. So Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day. Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs. 9"The patriarchs, moved with jealousy [zēloō] against Joseph, sold [apodidomi] him into Egypt. God was with him, 10and delivered [exaireō] him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour [charin kai sophion] and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt. He made him governor [hegoumenon] over Egypt and all his house [oikon]. 11Now a famine came over all the land of Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction. Our fathers found no food. 12But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent out our fathers the first time. 13On the second time Joseph was made known [anaginōskō] to his brothers, and Joseph's race was revealed [phaneron ginomi] to Pharaoh. 14Joseph sent, and summoned Jacob, his father, and all his relatives, seventy-five souls. 15Jacob went down into Egypt, and he died, himself and our fathers, 16and they were brought back to Shechem, and laid in the tomb that Abraham bought for a price in silver from the children of Hamor of Shechem. 17"But as the time of the promise came close which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, 18until there arose a different king, who didn't know Joseph. 19The same took advantage [katasophizomai] of our race, and mistreated [kakoō] our fathers, and forced them to throw out [poieō … ektheta] their babies, so that they wouldn't stay alive. 20At that time Moses was born, and was exceedingly handsome. He was nourished three months in his father's house. 21When he was thrown out [ektithēmi], Pharaoh's daughter took him up, and reared him as her own son. 22Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. He was mighty in his words and works. 23But when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel. 24Seeing one of them suffer wrong [adikeō], he defended him, and avenged him who was oppressed, striking the Egyptian. 25He supposed that his brothers [adelphous] understood [syniēmi] that God, by his hand, was giving them deliverance [sōzō]; but they didn't understand. 26"The day following, he appeared to them as they fought, and urged them to be at peace again, saying, 'Sirs, you are brothers [adelphoi]. Why do you wrong [adikeō] one another?' 27But he who did his neighbour wrong pushed him away, saying, 'Who made you a ruler [archonta] and a judge [dikastēn] over us? 28Do you want to kill me, as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?' 29Moses fled at this saying, and became a stranger [paroikos] in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons. 30"When forty years were fulfilled, an angel [angelos] of the Lord appeared to him in the wilderness [erēmō] of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush. 31When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight. As he came close to see, a voice of the Lord came to him, 32'I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' Moses trembled, and dared not look. 33The Lord said to him, 'Take your sandals off of your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. 34I have surely seen the affliction [kakōsin] of my people that is in Egypt, and have heard their groaning. I have come down to deliver [exaireō] them. Now come, I will send [apostellō] you into Egypt.' 35"This Moses, whom they refused [arneomai], saying, 'Who made you a ruler [archonta] and a judge [dikastēn]?'--God has sent him as both a ruler [archonta] and a deliverer [lytrōtēn] by the hand of the angel [angelou] who appeared to him in the bush. 36This man led them out, having worked wonders and signs [sēmeia] in Egypt, in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness [erēmō] for forty years. 37This is that Moses, who said to the children of Israel, 'The Lord our God will raise up a prophet for you from among your brothers, like me.' 38This is he who was in the assembly [ekklēsia] in the wilderness [erēmō] with the angel [angelou] that spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, who received living oracles [logia zōnta] to give to us, 39to whom our fathers wouldn't be obedient, but rejected [apōtheō] him, and turned back in their hearts to Egypt, 40saying to Aaron, 'Make us gods that will go before us, for as for this Moses, who led us out of the land of Egypt, we don't know what has become of him.' 41They made a calf in those days, and brought a sacrifice to the idol [eidōlō], and rejoiced [euphrainō] in the works of their hands. 42But God turned, and gave them up [paradidōmi] to serve [latreuō] the army of the sky [stratia tou ouranou], as it is written in the book of the prophets, 'Did you offer to me slain animals and sacrifices forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? 43You took up the tabernacle [skēnēn] of Moloch, the star of your god Rephan, the figures [typous] which you made to worship [proskynein]. I will carry you away beyond Babylon.' 44"Our fathers had the tabernacle of the testimony [skēnē tou martyriou] in the wilderness [erēmō], even as he who spoke to Moses commanded him to make it according to the pattern [typon] that he had seen; 45which also our fathers, in their turn, brought in with Joshua when they entered into the possession of the nations, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers, to the days of David, 46who found favour [charin] in the sight of God, and asked to find a habitation [skēnōma] for the God of Jacob. 47But Solomon built him a house. 48However, the Most High [hypsistos; Heb. HaElyon] doesn't dwell in temples [katoikeō] made with hands, as the prophet says, 49'heaven is my throne, and the earth a footstool for my feet. What kind of house will you build me?' says the Lord; 'or what is the place of my rest? 50Didn't my hand make all these things?' 51"You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit! As your fathers did, so you do. 52Which of the prophets didn't your fathers persecute [diōkō]? They killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One [dikaiou], of whom you have now become betrayers and murderers. 53You received the law as it was ordained by angels [diatagas angelōn], and didn't keep it!" 54Now when they heard these things, they were cut to the heart [diapriō tais kardiais], and they gnashed at him with their teeth. 55But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory [doxan; Heb. Sh'khinah] of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56and said, "Look [idou], I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!" 57But they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and rushed at him with one accord. 58They threw him out of the city, and stoned him. The witnesses placed their garments [imatia] at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59They stoned Stephen as he called out, saying, "Lord Jesus, receive [dechomai] my spirit!" 60He kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice [phōnē megalē], "Lord, don't hold [histēmi] this sin against them!" When he had said this, he fell asleep [koimaō].

8 1Saul was consenting [syneudokeō] to his death. A great persecution [diōgmos megas] arose against the assembly [ekklēsian] which was in Jerusalem in that day. They were all scattered [diaspeirō] abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except for the apostles [apostolōn]. 2Devout men buried Stephen, and lamented greatly over him. 3But Saul ravaged [lymainomai]

Only NT occurrence; 'cruelly brutal and sadistic'. Used in Ps 80:13 LXX of wild boars devastating a vineyard and elsewhere of a lion or such wild animal mauling its prey.

the assembly [ekklēsian], entering into every house, and dragged both men and women off to prison. 4Therefore those who were scattered [diaspeirō] abroad went around preaching the word [euangelizō]. 5Philip went down to the city [polin]

Some MMS have 'the city', probably meaning the capital which was the OT town of Samaria, which Herod the Great had renamed 'Sebastos' in honour of the emperor Augustus, or the ancient Shechem, which by then was called 'Neapolis' and is now 'Nablus'.

of Samaria [Samareias]

The hostility between Jews and Samaritans had lasted a thousand years. It began with the break-up of the monarchy in the tenth century BC when ten tribes remained loyal to Jerusalem. It became steadily worse when Samaria was captured by Assyria in 722 BC, thousands of its inhabitants were deported, and the country was re-populated by foreigners. In the sixth century BC, when the Jews returned to their land, they refused the help of the Samaritans in the rebuilding of the temple. Not till the fourth century BC, however, did the Samaritan schism harden, with the building of their rival temple on Mount Gerizim and their repudiation of all OT Scripture except the Pentateuch. The Samaritans were despised by the Jews as hybrids in both race and religion, as both heretics and schismatics (cf. Jn 4:9).

, and proclaimed [kērysso]

'To herald'.

to them the Christ. 6The multitudes listened [prosechō] with one accord [homothymadon] to the things that were spoken by Philip, when they heard and saw the signs [sēmeia] which he did. 7For unclean spirits came out of many of those who had them. They came out, crying with a loud voice. Many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed. 8There was great joy [chara] in that city. 9But there was a certain man, Simon by name, who used to practice sorcery in the city, and amazed [existēmi] the people [ethnos] of Samaria, making himself out to be some great one, 10to whom they all listened, from the least to the greatest, saying, "This man is that great power of God [Megalē]

In the middle of the second century Justin Martyr, who himself came from Samaria, described 'a Samaritan, Simon', who 'did mighty acts of magic', so that 'he was considered a god' by 'almost all the Samaritans'. Even in Rome a statue was erected in his honour. ('Apology', I.26). Traditions and legends grew up around Simon Magus.

." 11They listened to him, because for a long time he had amazed [existēmi] them with his sorceries. 12But when they believed [pisteuō] Philip preaching good news [euangelizō] concerning the Kingdom [basileias] of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13Simon himself also believed [pisteuō]. Being baptized, he continued with Philip. Seeing signs [sēmeia] and great miracles occurring, he was amazed. 14Now when the apostles [apostoloi] who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria [Samareia] had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, 15who, when they had come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit; 16for as yet he had fallen on none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of Christ Jesus. 17Then they laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. 18Now when Simon saw that the Holy Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' [apostolōn] hands, he offered them money, 19saying, "Give me also this power, that whoever I lay my hands on may receive the Holy Spirit." 20But Peter said to him, "May your silver perish [apollymi] with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21You have neither part nor lot in this matter [logō], for your heart isn't right [eutheia] before God. 22Repent [metanoēson] therefore of this, your wickedness [kakias], and ask God if perhaps the thought [apinoia] of your heart may be forgiven [aphiēmi] you. 23For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity." 24Simon answered, "Pray for me to the Lord, that none of the things which you have spoken happen to me." 25They therefore, when they had testified and spoken [laleō] the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the Good News [euangelizō] to many villages of the Samaritans [Samareitōn]. 26But an angel [angelos] of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, "Arise, and go toward the south to the way that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza [Gazan]

About sixty miles away, Gaza was the most southerly of the five Philistine cities, and near the Mediterranean coast. The road was well used, continuing past Gaza to Egypt and the African continent.

. This is a desert [erēmos]." 27He arose and went; and consider this [idou]; there was a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace [Kandakēs]

Not a personal name but a dynastic title for the Queen Mother who performed certain functions on behalf of the king. The official was her treasurer or chancellor of the exchequer, presumably a black African, and Jewish either by birth or conversion. Cf. Dt 23:1; Is 56:3-4.

, queen of the Ethiopians, who was over all her treasure, who had come to Jerusalem to worship [proskyneō]. 28He was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29The Spirit said to Philip, "Go near, and join yourself to this chariot." 30Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, "Do you understand what you are reading?" 31He said, "How can I, unless someone explains [hodēgeō] it to me?" He begged [parakaleō] Philip to come up and sit with him. 32Now the passage of the Scripture [graphēs; Heb. Tanakh] which he was reading was this, "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter. As a lamb before his shearer is silent, so he doesn't open his mouth. 33In his humiliation, his judgment [krisis] was taken away. Who will declare [diēgeomai] His generation? For his life is taken from the earth." 34The eunuch answered Philip, "Who is the prophet talking about? About himself, or about someone else?" 35Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture [graphēs; Heb. Tanakh], preached [euangelizomai] to him Jesus. 36As they went on the way, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, "Look [idou], here is water. What is keeping me from being baptized?" 37 38He commanded the chariot to stand still, and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught [harpazō]

Normally means to 'snatch' or 'seize', as at the rapture (1 Thes 4:17).

Philip away, and the eunuch didn't see him any more, for he went on his way rejoicing [chairō]. 40But Philip was found [euriskō] at Azotus [Azōton]. Passing through, he preached the Good News [euangelizō] to all the cities, until he came to Caesarea [Kaisareian].

9 1But Saul, still breathing [emphysaō]

Parallels have been made to the panting or snorting of wild animals (cf. 8:3).

threats and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, 2and asked for letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus [Damaskō]

Their journey of about 150 miles would have taken around a week. Damascus was a beautiful oasis in the middle of a desert.

, that if he found any who were of the Way [tēs hodou], whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3As he travelled, it happened that he got close to Damascus, and suddenly a light from the sky shone around him. 4He fell on the earth, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul [Saoul], Saul [Saoul], why do you persecute [diōkō] me?" 5He said, "Who are you, Lord [kyrios]?" The Lord said, "I am [Egō eimi] Jesus, whom you are persecuting [diōkō]. 6But rise up, and enter into the city, and you will be told what you must do." 7The men who travelled with him stood speechless, hearing the sound, but seeing no one. 8Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened, he saw no one. They led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. 9He was without sight for three days, and neither ate nor drank. 10Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus [Damaskō] named Ananias [Ananias; Heb. Chananyah]

'The LORD is gracious', cf. Da.1:6.

. The Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias [Anania]!" He said, "Look [idou], it's me, Lord." 11The Lord said to him, "Arise, and go to the street which is called Straight [Eutheian]

Still the main east-west thoroughfare in modern day Damascus.

, and inquire in the house of Judah [Iouda; Heb. Y'hudah] for one named Saul [Saulon], a man of Tarsus [Tarsea]. For look [idou], he is praying, 12and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias [Anania] coming in, and laying his hands on him, that he might receive his sight." 13But Ananias [Ananias] answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he did to your saints [agiois] at Jerusalem. 14Here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name." 15But the Lord said to him, "Go your way, for he is my chosen vessel [skeuos eklogēs] to bear my name before the nations and kings, and the children of Israel. 16For I will show him how many things he must suffer [paschō] for my name's sake." 17Ananias [Ananias] departed, and entered into the house. Laying his hands on him, he said, "Brother [adelphe] Saul, the Lord, who appeared to you on the road by which you came, has sent [apostellō] me, that you may receive your sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit." 18Immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he received his sight. He arose and was baptized. 19He took food and was strengthened. Saul stayed several days with the disciples who were at Damascus. 20Immediately in the synagogues he proclaimed [kēryssō] the Christ, that he is the Son of God. 21All who heard him were amazed, and said, "Isn't this he who in Jerusalem made havoc [portheō]

Could be translated 'mauled' (cf. 8:3 and also Gal 1:13; 23).

of those who called on this name? And he had come here intending to bring them bound before the chief priests!" 22But Saul increased more in strength, and confounded [suncheō] the Jews who lived at Damascus, proving [symbibazō] that this is the Christ. 23When many days were fulfilled, the Jews conspired together to kill him, 24but their plot became known to Saul. They watched the gates [pylas]

City gates

In Old Testament times elders sat in the city gates overseeing what was coming in and going out. Nehemiah gave instructions that the gates were not to be opened for traffic till the sun was high. This meant, in the light of day, the inspection of goods and of those who were seeking entrance to the city was relatively easy. Unscrupulous tradesmen would try to smuggle in poor quality or illegal goods, and enemy spies were always looking for ways into the city. There were eleven gates giving access and one, the Dung Gate, through which rubbish was carried out to the tip.

both day and night that they might kill him, 25but his disciples [mathētai; Heb. talmidim] took him by night, and let him down through the wall, lowering him in a basket. 26When Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join himself to the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing [pisteuō] that he was a disciple [mathētēs; Heb. talmid]. 27But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles [apostolous], and declared to them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly [parrhēsiazomai] in the name of Jesus. 28He was with them entering into Jerusalem, 29preaching boldly [parrhēsiazomai] in the name of the Lord Jesus. He spoke and disputed [syzēteō] against the Hellenists [Hellēnistas], but they were seeking to kill him. 30When the brothers knew it, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him off to Tarsus. 31So the assemblies [ekklēsia] throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace, and were built up [oikodomeō]. They were multiplied, walking [poreuō] in the fear [phobō] of the Lord and in the comfort [parakaleō] of the Holy Spirit. 32It happened, as Peter went throughout all those parts, he came down also to the saints [agious] who lived at Lydda [Lydda]. 33There he found a certain man named Aeneas [Ainean], who had been bedridden for eight years, because he was paralyzed. 34Peter said to him, "Aeneas [Ainea], Jesus Christ heals you. Get up [anistēmi]

Used of the resurrection of Christ.

and make your bed!" Immediately he arose [anistēmi]. 35All who lived at Lydda [Lydda] and in Sharon [Sarōna] saw him, and they turned to the Lord. 36Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which when translated, means Dorcas [Dorkas; Heb. Tavita]

Tabitha or Dorcas are the Aramaic and Greek words for a 'gazelle'.

. This woman was full of good works and acts of mercy which she did. 37It happened in those days that she fell sick, and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper chamber. 38As Lydda [Lyddas] was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, imploring [parakaleō] him not to delay in coming to them. 39Peter got up and went with them. When he had come, they brought him into the upper chamber. All the widows stood by him weeping, and showing the coats [chitōnas] and garments [imatia] which Dorcas [Dorkas] had made while she was with them. 40Peter put them all out, and kneeled down and prayed. Turning to the body, he said, "Tabitha, get up [anakathizō]!" She opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up. 41He gave her his hand, and raised her up. Calling the saints [agious] and widows, he presented her alive. 42And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed [pisteuō] in the Lord. 43It happened, that he stayed many days in Joppa with one Simon, a tanner [byrsei].

10 1Now there was a certain man in Caesarea [Kaisareia]

A garrison city named after Augustus Caesar, the administrative capital of the province of Judea, with a magnificent harbour build by Herod the Great.

, Cornelius [Kornēlios] by name, a centurion [ekatontarchēs] of what was called the Italian Regiment [speirēs]

Speira is Greek for 'cohort' or 'band', which consisted of six 'centuries' (100 men), each under the command of a 'centurion'. Ten cohorts made up a legion. Cf. modern equivalent of 'captain' or 'company commander'.

, 2a devout [eusēbes] man, and one who feared [phoboumenos]

He could had accepted the monotheism and ethical standards of Judaism, and attended synagogue services, but had not perhaps become a full proselyte by being circumcised. So he remained a Gentile outsider. No orthodox Jew would enter the home of a Gentile, even a God-fearer, or invite such into his home (v28), let alone sit at a table with a Gentile.

God with all his house [oikō], who gave gifts for the needy generously to the people, and always prayed to God. 3At about the ninth hour of the day, he clearly saw in a vision an angel [angelon] of God coming to him, and saying to him, "Cornelius [Kornēlie]!" 4He, fastening his eyes on him, and being frightened [emphobos], said, "What is it, Lord?" He said to him, "Your prayers and your gifts to the needy have gone up for a memorial [mnēmosynon]

A sacrificial work used in the LXX of the 'memorial portion', of an offering which was burned (see also 10:31).

before God. 5Now send men to Joppa, and get Simon, who is surnamed Peter [Simōna; Heb. Kefa]. 6He lodges with one Simon [Simōni; Heb. Shim'on], a tanner [byrsei], whose house is by the seaside." 7When the angel [angelos] who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants [oiketōn] and a devout soldier [stratiōtēn]

Duty

Duty was highly esteemed by the Romans. Rome's public life was founded on duty. Defeat was no excuse for retiring from the commitments that had made the Republic great. The cardinal virtue for a citizen was to hold one's ground, even to the point of death. Cf. Ac 16:27

of those who waited on him continually. 8Having explained everything to them, he sent them to Joppa. 9Now on the next day as they were on their journey, and got close to the city, Peter went up on the housetop [dōma]

Rooftop prayers were popular among the heathen as well as the Jews. This way privacy was maintained and the direction of Jerusalem temple could be faced.

to pray at about noon. 10He became hungry and desired to eat, but while they were preparing, he fell into a trance. 11He saw heaven opened and a certain container descending to him, like a great sheet [orhonēn]

Could be translated 'sail-cloth'.

let down by four corners on the earth, 12in which were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild animals, reptiles, and birds of the sky. 13A voice came to him, "Rise, Peter, kill and eat!" 14But Peter said, "Not so [mēdamōs], Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common [koinon] or unclean [akatharton]

'Treif'; torn, not kosher.

." 15A voice came to him again the second time, "What God has cleansed [koinou], you must not call unclean [ekatharisen]." 16This was done three times, and immediately the vessel was received up into heaven. 17Now while Peter was very perplexed in himself what the vision which he had seen might mean, consider this [idou]; the men who were sent by Cornelius [Kornēliou], having made inquiry for Simon's house, stood before the gate, 18and called and asked whether Simon, who was surnamed Peter, was lodging there. 19While Peter was pondering [dienthumeomai] the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Look [idou], three men seek you. 20But arise, get down, and go with them, doubting [diakrinō]

This expression (cf. 11:12) can also mean 'making no distinction'.

nothing; for I have sent them." 21Peter went down to the men, and said, "See [idou], I am he whom you seek. Why have you come?" 22They said, "Cornelius [Kornēlios], a centurion [ekatontarchēs], a righteous [dikaios] man and one who fears [phobeō] God, and well spoken of [martyreō] by all the nation of the Jews, was directed by a holy angel [angelou] to invite you to his house, and to listen to what you say." 23So he called them in and lodged them. On the next day Peter arose and went out with them, and some of the brothers [adelphōn] from Joppa accompanied him. 24On the next day they entered into Caesarea. Cornelius [Kornēlios] was waiting for [prosdokaō] them, having called together his relatives and his near friends. 25When it happened that Peter entered, Cornelius [Kornēlios] met him, fell down at his feet, and worshiped [prosekynēsen] him. 26But Peter raised him up, saying, "Stand up! I myself am also a man." 27As he talked with him, he went in and found many gathered together. 28He said to them, "You yourselves know how it is an unlawful [athemiton]

Denotes what is contrary to ancient custom or prescription (themis), rather than to law (nomos). The word describes what is 'taboo' (e.g., Lv 19:15).

thing for a man who is a Jew to join himself [kollaō] or come to [proserchomai] one of another nation [allophylō], but God has shown [deiknymi] me that I shouldn't call any man unholy [koinon] or unclean [akatharton]. 29Therefore also I came without complaint [anantirrētēs] when I was sent for. I ask therefore, why did you send for me?" 30Cornelius [Kornēlios] said, "Four days ago, I was fasting until this hour, and at the ninth hour, I prayed in my house, and look [idou], a man stood before me in bright clothing, 31and said, 'Cornelius [Kornēlie], your prayer is heard [eisakouō], and your gifts to the needy are remembered [mimnēskomai] in the sight of God. 32Send therefore to Joppa, and summon Simon, who is surnamed Peter. He lodges in the house of Simon a tanner [byrseōs], by the seaside. When he comes, he will speak to you.' 33Therefore I sent to you at once, and it was good [kalōs] of you to come. Now therefore we are all here present in the sight of God to hear all things that have been commanded you by God." 34Peter opened his mouth and said, "Truly I perceive [katalambanō] that God doesn't show favoritism [prosōpolēmptēs]

Means 'partiality'. It was forbidden to judges in LXX who were not to pervert justice by discriminating in favour of either rich or poor (e.g., Lv 19:15; cf. 2 Ch 19:7).

; 35but in every nation [ethnei] he who fears [phobeomai] him and works righteousness [dikaiosynēn] is acceptable [dektos] to him. 36The word [logon] which he sent to the children of Israel, preaching good news [euangelizomenos] of peace by Jesus Christ--he is Lord of all--37you yourselves know what happened, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached [kēryssō]; 38even Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed [chriō] him with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39We are witnesses [martyres] of everything he did both in the country of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they also killed, hanging him on a tree [xylou]. 40God raised him up the third day, and gave him to be revealed, 41not to all the people, but to witnesses [martusin] who were chosen before by God, to us, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42He commanded us to preach [kēryssō] to the people and to testify [diamartyromai] that this is he who is appointed [horizō] by God as the Judge [kritēs] of the living and the dead. 43All the prophets testify [martyreō] about him, that through his name everyone who believes [pisteuō] in him will receive remission [aphesin] of sins." 44While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who heard the word [logon]. 45They of the circumcision [pistoi] who believed were amazed, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was also poured out [ekchynō] on the Gentiles [ethnē]. 46For they heard them speaking in other languages [glōssais] and magnifying [megalynō] God. Then Peter answered, 47"Can any man forbid [dynatai kōluō]

Lit. 'able to forbid, refuse or prevent', cf. 11:17.

the water, that these who have received the Holy Spirit as well as we should not be baptized?" 48He commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay some days.

11 1Now the apostles [apostoloi] and the brothers [adelphoi] who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles [ethnē] had also received [dechomai] the word [logon] of God. 2When Peter had come up to Jerusalem, those who were of the circumcision [peritomēs] contended [diakrinō] with him, 3saying, "You went in to uncircumcised [akrobystian] men, and ate with [synesthiō] them!" 4But Peter began, and explained [exēgeomai] to them in order, saying, 5"I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision: a certain container descending, like it was a great sheet let down from heaven by four corners. It came as far as me. 6When I had looked intently [atenizō katanoeō]

Lit. 'On which having looked intently I considered'.

at it, I considered, and saw the four-footed animals of the earth, wild animals, creeping things, and birds of the sky. 7I also heard a voice saying to me, 'Rise, Peter, kill and eat!' 8But I said, 'Not so [mēdamōs], Lord, for nothing unholy [koinon] or unclean [akatharton] has ever entered into my mouth.' 9But a voice answered me the second time out of heaven, 'What God has cleansed [katharizō], don't you call unclean [koinou]

Lit. 'make common'.

.' 10This was done three times, and all were drawn up again into heaven. 11Consider this [idou]; immediately three men stood before the house where I was, having been sent from Caesarea to me. 12The Spirit told me to go with them, without discriminating [diakrinanta]. These six brothers [adelphoi]

Together with Peter they made a group of seven, which in Egyptian law was necessary to completely prove a case, while in Roman law seven seals were necessary to authenticate a really important document like a will.

also accompanied me, and we entered into the man's house. 13He told us how he had seen the angel [angelon] standing in his house, and saying to him, 'Send to Joppa, and get Simon, whose surname is Peter, 14who will speak to you words by which you will be saved [sōzō], you and all your house [oikos].' 15As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them, even as on us at the beginning. 16I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, 'John indeed baptized in water, but you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit.' 17If then God gave to them the same gift as us, when we believed [pisteuō] in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I, that I could withstand [dynatos kōluō] God?" 18When they heard these things, they held their peace [hēsychazō]

Lit. 'they remained silent'.

, and glorified [doxazō] God, saying, "Then God has also granted to the Gentiles [ethnesin] repentance [matanoian] to life!" 19They therefore who were scattered [diaspeirō] abroad by the oppression [thlipseōs] that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phoenicia [Phoinikēs], Cyprus [Kuprou], and Antioch [Antiocheias], speaking the word [logon] to no one except to Jews only. 20But there were some of them, men of Cyprus [Kyprioi] and Cyrene [Kyrēnaios], who, when they had come to Antioch [Antiocheias]

The city was founded in 300 BC by Seleucus Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals. He named it after his father Antiochus, and its port, fifteen miles west along the navigable river Orantes, 'Seleucia' after himself. Over the years it became known as 'Antioch the Beautiful' because of its fine buildings, and by Luke's day was famous for its long, paved boulevard, which ran from north to south and was flanked by a double colonnade with trees and fountains. Although it was a Greek city by foundation, its population, estimated as at least 500 000, was extremely cosmopolitan. It had a large colony of Jews, attracted by Seleucus' offer of equal citizenship, and Orientals too from Persia, India and even China, earning it another of its names, 'the Queen of the East'. Since it was absorbed into the Roman Empire by Pompeii in 64 BC, and became the capital of the imperial province of Syria (to which Cilicia was later added), its inhabitants included Latins as well. Thus Greeks, Jews, Orientals and Romans formed the mixed multitude of what Josephus called 'the third city of the empire', after Rome and Alexandria ('Wars', III.2.4.).

, spoke to the Hellenists [Hellēnistas]

Debated whether Greeks, or Hellenists; Greek speaking Jews. The word occurs nowhere else in previous Greek literature and can be found only here and in 6:1 and 9:29. It indicates culture not nationality and could be translated 'Greek-speaking persons'.

This was a huge cultural leap for these Jews to cross. In the days of Greek hegemony Jewish reformers hoped to dismantle obstructions to blending with Greek culture. They would hold on to the mosaic code but purge it of elements which forbade participation in Greek culture - for instance, the ban on nudity, which kept pious Jews out of the gymnasium and stadium - and reduce it to its ethical call, so making it universal. They wanted a world religion in which the Greek polis and the Jewish moral God were married. But this was a contradiction in terms. The Greeks were not monotheists but polytheists, and in Egypt they learned syncretism, overlapping deities into synthetic polygods. One such mutant was Apollo - Helios - Hermes, the Sun - god. They blended their own Dionysiac rites with the Egyptian Isis - cult. Their god of healing, Asclepios, was conflated with the Egyptian Imhotep. Zeus, the senior god, was the same as the Egyptian Ammon, the Persian Ahura-Mazda and, for all they knew, there Jewish Yahweh. The Greek idea of deity was greatly inferior to the Jewish concept of limitless power. The Jews drew an absolute distinction between human and divine. The Greeks constantly elevated the human - they were Promethean - and lowered the divine. To them gods were not much more than revered and successful ancestors; most men sprang from gods. Hence it was not for them a great step to deify a monarch, and they began to do so as soon as they embraced the Orient. Aristotle argued in his politics: 'if there exists in a state an individual so pre-eminent in virtue that neither of the virtue nor the political capacity of all the other citizens is comparable with his ... such a man should be rated as a god among men. So Jewish and Greek thinking could not merge but what the reformers wanted was for Judaism to pervade Greek culture. An enthusiastic but dangerous ally to the Jewish reformers was the new Seleucid monarch, Antiochus Epiphanes.

, preaching [euangelizō] the Lord Jesus. 21The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed [pisteuō] and turned to [epistrephō] the Lord. 22The report [logos] concerning them came to the ears of the assembly [ekklēsias] which was in Jerusalem. They sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch, 23who, when he had come, and had seen the grace [charin] of God, was glad [chairō]. He exhorted [parakaleō] them all, that with purpose of heart they should remain near [prosmenō] to the Lord. 24For he was a good [agathos] man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith [pisteōs], and many people were added [prostithēmi]

Used in 2:41; 2:41 and 47 as a technical term for church growth. Abraham Kuyper, the Dutch theologian proposed the word 'prosthetics' to define the expansion of the church by additions to its membership.

to the Lord. 25Barnabas went out to Tarsus [Tarson] to look for Saul. 26When he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. It happened, that for a whole year they were gathered together with the assembly [ekklēsia], and taught many people. The disciples were first called Christians [Christianous]

The Antioch public, famed for their wit and nicknaming skill, supposed that 'Christ' was a proper name rather than title. Only used twice elsewhere in the NT (Ac 26:28; 1 Pet 4:16), it was parallel to Herodianoi (Herodians) and Kaisarianoi (Caesar's people). Luke has so far referred to them as 'disciples' (6:1), 'saints' (9:13), 'brethren' (1:16; 9:30), 'believers' (10:45), those 'being saved' (2:47), and the people 'of the Way' (9:2).

in Antioch. 27Now in these days, prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28One of them named Agabus [Agabos] stood up, and indicated by the Spirit that there should be a great famine all over the world [oikoumenēn]

'Inhabited earth', coterminous with the empire.

, which also happened in the days of Claudius [Klaudiou]

Ruled from AD 41 to 54 during which time there were a succession of bad harvests. Cf. Josephus, 'Antiquities' XX.2.5; XX.5.2 and III.15.3.

. 29As any of the disciples had plenty, each determined to send relief to the brothers [adelphois] who lived in Judea; 30which they also did, sending it to the elders [presbyterous] by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

12 1Now about that time, King Herod [Hrōdēs]

Herod Agrippa I, grandson of Herod the Great. The emperors Caligula and Claudius gave him successive portions of Palestinian territory, making his kingdom as extensive as his grandfather's. His uncle Antipas had known and tried Jesus (Lk 23:7; Ac 4:27). He was anxious to preserve the pax Romana in Palestine and disliked disruptive minorities. He sought to ingratiate himself with the Jews (who naturally despised him for his Roman upbringing and Edomite ancestry) by conscientiously observing the law and now by persecuting the church.

stretched out his hands to oppress [kakoō] some of the assembly [ekklēsias]. 2He killed James, the brother of John, with the sword. 3When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This was during the days of unleavened bread [axym&#n; Heb. Days of Matzah]. 4When he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of four soldiers [stratiōtōn]

The usual number of a Roman military night-watch was four ('quarternions': two at the door and two in the prison, cf. 12:6, 10), and the watch was changed every three hours.

each to guard him, intending to bring him out to the people after the Passover [pascha; Heb. Pesach]. 5Peter therefore was kept in the prison, but constant [ektenōs]

'Unremittingly'; used of Jesus in Gethsemane (Lk 22:44).

prayer was made by the assembly [ekklēsias] to God for him. 6The same night when Herod was about to bring him out, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers [stratiōtōn]

The Roman custom was to bind the prisoner to the soldier at the wrists. For extra security soldiers were placed on either side, cf. Ac 21:33.

, bound with two chains. Guards in front of the door kept the prison. 7And look [idou], an angel [angelos] of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side, and woke him up, saying, "Stand up quickly!" His chains fell off from his hands. 8The angel [angelos] said to him, "Get dressed and put on your sandals." He did so. He said to him, "Put on your cloak, and follow me." 9And he went out and followed him. He didn't know that what was being done by the angel [angelou] was real, but thought he saw a vision. 10When they were past the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened to them by itself. They went out, and went down one street, and immediately the angel [angelos] departed from him. 11When Peter had come to himself, he said, "Now I truly know that the Lord has sent out his angel [angelon] and delivered [exaireō] me out of the hand of Herod, and from everything the Jewish people were expecting." 12Thinking about that, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together [synathroizō] and were praying. 13When Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a maid [paidiskē] named Rhoda [Rhodē] came to answer. 14When she recognized Peter's voice, she didn't open the gate for joy, but ran in, and reported that Peter was standing in front of the gate. 15They said to her, "You are crazy!" But she insisted [diischyrizomai] that it was so. They said, "It is his angel [angelos]." 16But Peter continued knocking. When they had opened, they saw him, and were amazed. 17But he, beckoning to them with his hand to be silent, declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. He said, "Tell these things to James, and to the brothers [adelphois]." Then he departed, and went to another place. 18Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers [stratiōtais] about what had become of Peter. 19When Herod had sought for him, and didn't find him, he examined the guards, and commanded that they should be put to death [apagō]

Lit. 'led away'. In Roman law, if a gaoler allowed his charge to escape, he was liable to the penalty to which the prisoner had been condemned (cf. 16:27; 27:42).

. He went down from Judea to Caesarea, and stayed there. 20Now Herod was very angry [thymomacheō] with the people of Tyre and Sidon. They came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus [Blaston], the king's personal aide [koitōnos], their friend, they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king's country for food. 21On an appointed day, Herod dressed himself in royal clothing, sat on the throne, and gave a speech to them. 22The people shouted, "The voice of a god, and not of a man!" 23Immediately an angel [angelos] of the Lord struck him, because he didn't give God the glory [doxan], and he was eaten by worms and died [ekpsychō]

See Josephus 'Antiquities' XIX.8.2 for details. Cf. 2 Macc 9:5ff on the demise of the arch-persecutor Antiochus Epiphanes.

. 24But the word [logos] of God grew and multiplied. 25Barnabas and Saul returned to Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their service, also taking with them John whose surname was Mark.

13 1Now in the assembly [ekklēsian] that was at Antioch there were some prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger [Niger]

Known as 'the Black'. Simeon (a Hebrew name) was presumably a black African, and just conceivably none other than Simon of Cyrene who carried the cross for Jesus (Lk 23:26) and who must have become a believer, since his sons Alexander and Rufus were known to the Christian community (Mk 15:21; cf. Ro 16:13).

, Lucius of Cyrene [Loukios ho Kyrēnaios], Manaen [Manaēn] the foster brother [syntrophos]

Of Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great. Either 'brought up with' him in a general way or as a 'foster-brother' or 'intimate friend'. Likely to have been Luke's informant on matters to do with Herod's court and family, about which Luke is familiar.

of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2As they served the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, "Separate Barnabas and Saul for me, for the work to which I have called them." 3Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away [apoluō]

Sometimes used in the sense of 'release' (e.g., Ac 3:13; 5:40; 16:35-36). Also used for 'dismiss' (e.g., 15:30, 33; 19:40). So while the Holy Spirit was the initiative, the church was not passive. 'The Spirit sent them out, by instructing the church to do so, and the church sent them out, having been directed by the Spirit to do so'.

. 4So, being sent out [ekpemtō] by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia [Seleukeian]. From there they sailed to Cyprus. 5When they were at Salamis, they proclaimed [katangellō] the word [logon] of God in the Jewish synagogues. They had also John as their attendant [hypēretēn]

Used of a servant or assistant of doctors, army officers, priests and politicians. Mark's service could have been pastoral or practical.

. 6When they had gone through [dierchomai]

'Having passed through' (about ninety miles from east to west coast).

the island to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer [malon], a false prophet [pseudoprophētēn], a Jew, whose name was Bar Jesus [Bariēsous; Heb. Bar-Yeshua]

'Son of salvation.' He was a kind of court wizard.

, 7who was with the proconsul [anthupatō], Sergius Paulus [Sergiō Paulō], a man of understanding. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul, and sought to hear the word [logon] of God. 8But Elymas the sorcerer [Elymas ho magos]

Either 'Elymas Magos - as he was called in Greek' or 'Elymas' may have been Arabic for someone 'skilful' or 'expert'; a magos or wise man.

(for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn aside [diastrephō]

Instead of epistrepho, 'conversion'; e.g., 9:35; 11:21; 14:15.

the proconsul [anthypaton] from the faith [pisteōs]. 9But Saul [Saulos], who is also called Paul [Paulos]

Jews commonly took a Greek or Roman second name, cf. 1:23; 12:12, 25. Luke mentions Saul's now as he moves into non-Jewish contexts and does not call Paul 'Saul' again.

, filled with the Holy Spirit, fastened his eyes on him, 10and said, "Full of all deceit [dolou] and all cunning [rhadiourgias], you son of the devil [diabolou], you enemy of all righteousness [dikaiosynēs], will you not cease to pervert [diastrephō] the right [eutheias] ways of the Lord? 11Now, look [idou], the hand of the Lord is on you, and you will be blind, not seeing the sun for a season!" Immediately a mist and darkness fell on him. He went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. 12Then the proconsul [anthypatos], when he saw what was done, believed [pisteuō], being astonished at the teaching of the Lord. 13Now Paul and his company set sail from Paphos [Paphou], and came to Perga [Pergēn] in Pamphylia [Pamphylias]. John departed from them and returned to Jerusalem. 14But they, passing on from Perga [Pergēs], came to Antioch of Pisidia [Antiocheian tēs Pisidias]

More than 100 miles north beyond the Taurus mountains. It was a Roman colony and the governing and military centre of the southern half of the vast province of Galatia but in language and geography belonged to Phrygia.

. They went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and sat down. 15After the reading of the law and the prophets, the rulers of the synagogue [archisynagōgoi]

In the temple synagogue the ruler of the synagogue was the third officer in rank under the high priest and chief of priests. In provincial synagogues, the ruler was supreme and authorised upon accreditation from the Great Sanhedrin. His election was by the members of the synagogue. He was in charge of synagogue worship.

sent to them, saying, "Brothers [adelphoi], if you have any word of exhortation [logos paraklēseōs] for the people, speak." 16Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, "Men of Israel, and you who fear [phoboumenoi] God, listen. 17The God of this people chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they stayed as aliens [en tē paroikia]

Only other NT reference in 1 Pe 1:17.

in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm, he led them out of it. 18For a period of about forty years he put up with [tropophoreō] them in the wilderness [erēmō]. 19When he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land for an inheritance, for about four hundred fifty years. 20After these things he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. 21Afterward they asked for a king, and God gave to them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 22When he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, to whom he also testified, 'I have found David the son of Jesse [Iessai; Heb. Ben-Yishai], a man after my heart, who will do all my will.' 23From this man's seed, God has brought salvation to Israel according to his promise, 24before his coming, when John had first preached [prokēryssō] the baptism of repentance [matanoias] to Israel. 25As John was fulfilling his course [dromon], he said, 'What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. But look [idou], one comes after me the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.' 26Brothers, children [andres adelphoi] of the stock of Abraham, and those among you who fear God [phoboumenoi], the word of this salvation [logos tēs sōtērias] is sent out to you. 27For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they didn't know [agnoeō] him, nor the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning [krinō] him. 28Though they found no cause for death, they still asked Pilate to have him killed. 29When they had fulfilled all things that were written about him, they took him down from the tree [xylou], and laid him in a tomb. 30But God raised [egeirō] him from the dead, 31and he was seen for many days by those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses [martyres] to the people. 32We bring you good news [euangelizō] of the promise made to the fathers, 33that God has fulfilled the same to us, their children, in that he raised up [anistēmi] Jesus. As it is also written in the second psalm, 'You are my Son.Today I have become your father.' 34"Concerning that he raised [anistēmi] him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption [diaphthoran], he has spoken thus: 'I will give [didōmi] you the holy and sure [ta hosia ..ta pista] blessings of David.' 35Therefore he says also in another psalm, 'You will not allow your Holy One to see decay [diaphthoran].' 36For David, after he had in his own generation served the counsel [boulē] of God, fell asleep [koimaō], and was laid with his fathers, and saw decay [diaphtheirō]. 37But he whom God raised up saw no decay [diaphthoran]. 38Be it known to you therefore, brothers [andres adelphoi], that through this man is proclaimed to you remission [aphesis] of sins, 39and by him everyone who believes [pisteuō] is justified [dikaioō] from all things, from which you could not be justified [dikaioō] by the law of Moses. 40Beware therefore, lest that come on you which is spoken in the prophets: 41'See [idete], you scoffers, and wonder, and perish; for I work a work in your days, a work which you will in no way believe [pisteuō], if one declares [ekdiēgeomai] it to you.'" 42So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. 43Now when the synagogue [synagōgēs] broke up, many of the Jews and of the devout proselytes [sebomenōn] followed Paul and Barnabas; who, speaking to them, urged [peithō] them to continue [prosmenō] in the grace [chariti] of God. 44The next Sabbath almost the whole city was gathered together to hear the word [logon] of God. 45But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with jealousy [zēlou], and contradicted [antilegō] the things which were spoken by Paul, and blasphemed [blasphēmeō]. 46Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly [parrhēsiazomai], and said, "It was necessary that God's word [logon] should be spoken to you first. Since indeed you thrust it from [apotheō] you, and judge [krinō] yourselves unworthy of eternal life, look [idou], we turn to the Gentiles [ethnē]. 47For so has the Lord commanded us, saying, 'I have set you as a light for the Gentiles [ethnōn], that you should bring salvation [sōtērian] to the uttermost parts [eschatou] of the earth [gēs].'" 48As the Gentiles [ethnē] heard this, they were glad [chairō], and glorified [doxazō] the word [logon] of God. As many as were appointed [tassō]

Means to 'ordain', sometimes in the sense of to 'assign someone to a classification. Papyrus evidence indicates that it can mean 'inscribe' or 'enrol', referring to the Book of Life (cf. Lk 10:20; Phil 4:3; Rev 13:8; 20:12-13; 21:27).

to eternal life believed [pisteuō]. 49The Lord's word [logos] was spread abroad [diapherō] throughout all the region. 50But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, and stirred up a persecution [diōgmon] against Paul and Barnabas, and threw them out of their borders. 51But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came to Iconium [Ikonion]. 52The disciples were filled with joy [charis] with the Holy Spirit.

14 1It happened in Iconium [Ikoniō]

One hundred miles SE of Posidian Antioch, commanding the broad plateau between the Taurus and the Sultan mountain ranges and which is well watered by their rivers, is ancient Iconium and modern day Konya, Turkey's fourth largest town. It was a Greek city in Paul and Barnabas' day and was a centre of agriculture and commerce.

that they entered together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of Jews and of Greeks [Hellēnōn] believed [pisteuō]. 2But the disbelieving [apeitheō] Jews stirred up and embittered the souls [psychas] of the Gentiles [ethnōn] against the brothers [adelphōn]. 3Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who testified to the word [logō] of his grace [charitos], granting signs [sēmeia] and wonders to be done by their hands. 4But the multitude of the city was divided. Part sided with the Jews, and part with the apostles [apostolois]. 5When some of both the Gentiles [ethnōn] and the Jews, with their rulers, made a violent attempt to mistreat [hybrizō]

Implies insult and humiliation.

and stone them, 6they became aware of it, and fled to the cities of Lycaonia [Lykaonias], Lystra [Lystran], Derbe [Derbēn], and the surrounding region. 7There they preached the Good News [euangelizō]. 8At Lystra [Lystrois] a certain man sat, impotent in his feet, a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked. 9He was listening to Paul speaking, who, fastening eyes on him, and seeing that he had faith to be made whole [pistin tou sōzō], 10said with a loud voice, "Stand upright [anistēmi] on your feet!" He leaped up and walked. 11When the multitude saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voice, saying in the language of Lycaonia [Lykaonisti], "The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!" 12They called Barnabas "Jupiter [Dia]

About fifty years previously the Latin poet Ovid had narrated in his 'Metamorphoses' an ancient local legend. The supreme god Jupiter (Zeus to the Greeks) and his son Mercury (Hermes) once visited the hill country of Phrygia, disguised as mortal men. They sought hospitality but were rebuffed until a tiny cottage was offered by an elderly peasant called Philemon and Baucis. The gods rewarded them later but destroyed the thousand homes which had rejected their visitation. The Lystrans would not have wanted to suffer the same fate as the inhospitable Phrygians. Inscriptions and a stone altar indicate that Zeus and Hermes were local patron deities. The Lystrans also may have seen in Paul and Barnabas Hermes, the herald of all the mythical gods and thus the god of eloquence. Besides, these deities travelled together.

," and Paul "Mercury [Hermēn]," because he was the chief speaker. 13The priest of Jupiter [Dios], whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates [pylōnas], and would have made a sacrifice along with the multitudes. 14But when the apostles, Barnabas [apostoloi] and Paul, heard of it, they tore their clothes, and sprang into the multitude, crying out, 15"Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and bring you good news [euangelizō], that you should turn from these vain things [mataiōn] to the living God, who made the sky and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them; 16who in the generations gone by allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. 17Yet he didn't leave himself without witness [amartyron], in that he did good and gave you rains from the sky and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness." 18Even saying these things, they hardly stopped the multitudes from making a sacrifice to them. 19But some Jews from Antioch and Iconium [Ikoniou] came there, and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul, and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. 20But as the disciples stood around him, he rose up, and entered into the city. On the next day he went out with Barnabas to Derbe [Derbēn]

A distance of at least sixty miles.

. 21When they had preached the Good News [euangelizō] to that city, and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra [Lustran], Iconium [Ikonion], and Antioch, 22confirming [epistērizō]

A technical term for establishing or consolidating Christian individuals and churches (also in 15:32).

the souls of the disciples [psychas tōn mathētōn], exhorting [parakaleō] them to continue in the faith [pistei], and that through many afflictions [thlipseōn] we must enter into the Kingdom of God. 23When they had appointed [cheirotoneō] elders [presbyterous] for them in every assembly [ekklēsian], and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they had believed [pisteuō]. 24They passed through Pisidia [Pisidian], and came to Pamphylia [Pamphylian]. 25When they had spoken [lalēsantes] the word [logon] in Perga [Pergē], they went down to Attalia [Attaleian]. 26From there they sailed to Antioch, from where they had been committed to the grace [chariti] of God for the work which they had fulfilled. 27When they had arrived, and had gathered [synagō] the assembly [ekklēsian] together, they reported all the things that God had done with them, and that he had opened a door of faith [pisteōs] to the nations [ethnesin]. 28They stayed there with the disciples for a long time.

15 1Some men came down from Judea and taught the brothers [adelphous], "Unless you are circumcised after the custom of Moses, you can't be saved [sōzō]." 2Therefore when Paul and Barnabas had no small discord and discussion with them, they appointed Paul and Barnabas, and some others of them, to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles [apostolous] and elders [presbyterous] about this question. 3They, being sent on their way by the assembly [ekklēsias], passed through both Phoenicia [Phoinikēn] and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles [ethnōn]. They caused great joy [charan megalēn] to all the brothers [adelphois]. 4When they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the assembly [ekklēsias] and the apostles [apostolōn] and the elders [presbyterōn], and they reported all things that God had done with them. 5But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed [pepisteukotes] rose up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses." 6The apostles [apostoloi] and the elders [presbyteroi] were gathered together to see about this matter. 7When there had been much discussion, Peter rose up and said to them, "Brothers [andres adelphoi], you know [epistamai] that a good while ago God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the nations [ethnē] should hear the word [logon] of the Good News [euangeliou], and believe [pisteusai]. 8God, who knows the heart [kardiognōstēs theos], testified [martyreō] about them, giving them the Holy Spirit, just like he did to us. 9He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing [kathairō] their hearts by faith [pistei]. 10Now therefore why do you tempt [peirazō] God, that you should put a yoke [zygon] on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11But we believe [pisteuō] that we are saved [sōzō] through the grace [charitos] of the Lord Jesus, just as they are." 12All the multitude [plēthos] kept silence, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul reporting what signs [sēmeia] and wonders God had done among the nations [ethnesin] through them. 13After they were silent, James answered, "Brothers [andres adelphoi], listen to me. 14Simeon has reported how God first visited the nations [ethnōn], to take out of them a people for his name. 15This agrees with the words of the prophets. As it is written, 16'After these things I will return. I will again build the tabernacle [skēnēn] of David, which has fallen. I will again build its ruins. I will set it up, 17That the rest of men may seek after the Lord; All the Gentiles [ethnē] who are called by my name, Says the Lord, who does all these things.18All his works are known to God from eternity.' 19"Therefore my judgment [krinō]

Can mean merely to 'express an opinion' but perhaps 'conviction' would be better since James was making a proposal which the other leaders endorsed.

is that we don't trouble [parenochleō] those from among the Gentiles [ethnōn] who turn to God, 20but that we write to them that they abstain [apechō] from the pollution of idols, from sexual immorality [porneias], from what is strangled, and from blood. 21For Moses from generations of old has in every city those who preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath." 22Then it seemed good to the apostles [apostolois] and the elders [presbyterois], with the whole assembly [ekklēsia], to choose men out of their company, and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas: Judas called Barsabbas [Barsaban]

A Hebrew-speaking believer, of whom nothing else is known, unless he was a brother of Joseph Barsabbas (1:23).

, and Silas [Silan]

Latin was Silvanus, a Hellenist who was also a Roman citizen (16:27) and who later became closely associated with both Paul (15:40; 2 Cor 1:19; 1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1) and Peter (1 Pet 5:12).

, chief men among the brothers. 23They wrote these things by their hand: "The apostles [apostoloi], the elders [presbyteroi], and the brothers [adelphois], to the brothers [adelphoi] who are of the Gentiles [adelphois tois ex ethnōn] in Antioch, Syria [Surian], and Cilicia [Kilikian]: greetings. 24Because we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled [tarassō]

To trouble, upset or throw into confusion (cf. 1:7 and 5:10).

you with words, unsettling [anaskeuazontes] your souls [psychas], saying, 'You must be circumcised and keep the law,' to whom we gave no commandment; 25it seemed good to us, having come to one accord [homothymadon], to choose out men and send them to you with our beloved [agapētois] Barnabas [agapētois] and Paul, 26men who have risked their lives [psychas] for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who themselves will also tell you the same things by word of mouth. 28For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay no greater burden on you than these necessary things: 29that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality [porneias]

Omitted in at least one MMS known to Origen in the third century, perhaps because it was supposed to be the moral exception to a list of ceremonial requirements. However porneia covers every kind of unlawful sex (cf. Lv 18), and all four requested abstentions do in fact relate to ceremonial laws laid down in Lv 17 and 18.

, from which if you keep yourselves, it will be well with you. Farewell." 30So, when they were sent off, they came to Antioch. Having gathered the multitude [plēthos] together, they delivered the letter [epistolēn]. 31When they had read it, they rejoiced [chairō] over the encouragement [parakaleō]. 32Judas and Silas, also being prophets themselves, encouraged [parakaleō] the brothers [adelphous] with many words [logou], and strengthened [epistērizō] them. 33After they had spent some time there, they were sent back with greetings from the brothers [adelphōn] to the apostles. 34But it seemed good to Silas to stay there. 35But Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word [euangelizō] of the Lord, with many others also. 36After some days Paul said to Barnabas, "Let's return now and visit [episkeptomai]

Linked with episkope, pastoral oversight, and is used of visiting the sick (Mt 25:36, 43) and of looking after widows and orphans (Jas 1:27).

our brothers [adelphous] in every city in which we proclaimed [katangellō] the word [logon] of the Lord, to see how they are doing." 37Barnabas planned [bouleuō] to take John, who was called Mark, with them also. 38But Paul didn't think [axioō] that it was a good idea to take with them someone who had withdrawn [aphistēmi] from them in Pamphylia [Pamphylias], and didn't go with them to do the work. 39Then the contention [paroxusmos] grew so sharp that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him, and sailed away to Cyprus, 40but Paul chose Silas, and went out, being commended by the brothers [adelphōn] to the grace [chariti] of God. 41He went through Syria [Syrian] and Cilicia [Kilikian]

This involved walking through the majestic, narrow pass in the Taurus mountains known as the 'Cilician Gates'.

, strengthening [epistērizō] the assemblies [ekklēsias].

16 1He came to Derbe [Derbēn] and Lystra [Lystran]: and consider it [idou]: a certain disciple was there, named Timothy [Timotheos], the son of a Jewess [Ioudaias]

'Eunice', cf. 2 Tim 1:5; 2 Tim 3:15.

who believed [pistēs]; but his father was a Greek [Hellēnos]

His Jewish-Greek parentage would give him an entrée into both communities.

. 2The brothers [adelphōn] who were at Lystra [Lustrois] and Iconium [Ikoniō] gave a good testimony [martyreō] about him. 3Paul wanted to have him go out with him, and he took and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts; for they all knew that his father was a Greek [Hellēn]. 4As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered the decrees to them to keep which had been ordained by the apostles [apostolōn] and elders [presbyterōn] who were at Jerusalem. 5So the assemblies [ekklēsiai] were strengthened [stērizō]

To make strong or firm.

in the faith [pistei], and increased in number daily. 6When they had gone through the region [chōran]

'Country'. The missionaries sailing across the northern part of the Aegean Sea were conscious of travelling only from one province to another, not from one continent to another, since both shores of the Aegean belonged to the Roman Empire.

of Phrygia [Phrygian]

Pisidian Antioch, the centre of the Phrygian region, was very close to the border of the province of Asia. It was natural for the team to look south-west along the 'Via Sebaste' which led to Colosse (about 150 miles) and then to the coast at Ephesus (almost as many miles beyond).

and Galatia [Galatikēn], they were forbidden [kōluō] by the Holy Spirit to speak [laleō] the word [logon] in Asia [Asia]. 7When they had come opposite Mysia [Mysian]

Not a Roman administrative region but an old name for much of Asia Minor's north-westerly bulge.

, they tried to go into Bithynia [Bithynian]

The province situated on the southern shore of the Black Sea, including towns like Nicea and Nicomedia.

, but the Spirit didn't allow them. 8Passing by Mysia [Mysian], they came down to Troas [Trōada]

Aegean port, close to the Hellespont, which we call the Dardanelles.

. 9A vision appeared to Paul in the night. There was a man of Macedonia [Makedōn] standing, begging [parakaleō] him, and saying, "Come over into Macedonia [Makedonian] and help us." 10When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go out to Macedonia [Makedonian], concluding [symbibazō]

Lit. 'to bring together', to 'put together in one's mind', and so to infer something from a variety of data.

that the Lord had called us to preach the Good News [euangelizō] to them. 11Setting sail therefore from Troas [Trōados], we made a straight course to Samothrace [Samothrakēn]

A rocky island whose peak rises to 5000 feet, where they probably made an overnight stop.

, and the day following to Neapolis [Nean Polin]

Modern port of Kavalla. Their 150-mile journey in two days must have been the result of a tail-wind, since the same journey took them five days on the way back (20:6).

; 12and from there to Philippi [Philippous]

A ten-mile walk inland from Neapolis along the 'Via Egnatia', which ran right across the Greek peninsula from the Aegean to the Adriatic. Its massive paving stones can still be seen, worn down by the traffic of the centuries. Philippi was given its name by Philip of Macedon in the 4th century BC. After about two centuries as a Greek colony, it became part of the Roman Empire, and towards the end of the first century BC it was made a Roman colony and settled with numerous veterans. Philippi was the leading city of the four districts within the province of Macedonia. It was probably Luke's own city.

, which is a city of Macedonia [Makedonias], the foremost of the district, a Roman colony. We were staying some days in this city. 13On the Sabbath day we went forth outside of the city by a riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer [proseuchē]

And v16. Lit. 'where was customary prayer to be'. A 'minyan', (quorum) of ten or more men was necessary before a synagogue could be constituted. Since the congregation consisted of women, this may have been why there was no synagogue. Other places of prayer took the place of synagogues either because the Jews were poor or were not granted permission. Just over a mile outside the city gate, this one would have been near the small river Gangites, whose proximity would have been useful for ceremonial ablutions.

, and we sat down, and spoke to the women who had come together [synerchomai]. 14A certain woman named Lydia [Lydia], a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira [Thyateirōn]

Situated in the Lycus Valley on the other side of the Aegean, within provincial Asia. Because that area was previously the ancient kingdom of Lydia, it is possible that 'Lydia' was not so much her personal name as her trade name; 'the Lydian lady'. Thyatira was famed for centuries for its dyes, and an early inscription refers to a guild of dyers in the town. Lydia was specialized in cloth treated with an expensive purple dye, and was presumably the Macedonian agent of a Thyatiran manufacturer. As such Lydia was an immigrant in Philippi, not a native. She had a large enough house to accommodate the four missionaries in addition to her own household (15).

, one who worshiped [sebomenē] God, heard us; whose heart the Lord opened to listen to the things which were spoken [laloumenois] by Paul. 15When she and her household [oikos]

Used sometimes for a family with children (e.g., 1 Tim 3:4-5, 12; 5:4).

were baptized, she begged us, saying, "If you have judged [krinō] me to be faithful [pistēn] to the Lord, come into my house, and stay." So she persuaded us. 16It happened, as we were going to prayer, that a certain girl [paidiskēn]

Presumably Greek and a resident. She could have been a foreigner, since slaves were imported from everywhere, but there is nothing in the story to indicate this. You could not sink lower in public estimation than to be a female slave. She owned nothing, not even herself. She had no possessions, rights, liberty or life of her own. The head of a Jewish household would use the same prayer every morning, giving thanks that God had not made him a Gentile, a woman or a slave. But here were representatives of these three despised categories: Lydia, a slave girl and the Roman gaoler, foundation members of the Philippian church (cf. Gal 3:28).

having a spirit of divination [pneuma pythōna]

The reference is to the snake of classical mythology which guarded the temple of Apollo and the Dephic oracle at Mount Parnassus. Apollo was thought to be embodied in the snake and to inspire 'pyhthonesses', his female devotees, which clairvoyance, although people thought of them as ventriloquists.

met [apantaō] us, who brought her masters much gain by fortune telling [manteuomai]

Pragmatic

The Romans, being a people as practical as they were devout, had no patience with fatalism. They were interested in knowing the future only because they believed that it could then better be kept at bay.

. 17Following Paul and us, she cried out, "These men are servants [douloi] of the Most High [hypsistou; Heb. HaElyon]

Applied by Jews to YHWH and by Greeks to Zeus.

God, who proclaim to us a way of salvation [hodon sōtērias]

Lit. 'a way of salvation'. Paul could have been 'annoyed' because of the publicity from a quarter that was no advantage to the gospel, or he may have objected to the fact that the uniqueness and exclusiveness of the message of Christ was being compromised.

!" 18She was doing this for many days. But Paul, becoming greatly annoyed [diaponeomai], turned and said to the spirit, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!" It came out that very hour. 19But when her masters saw that the hope of their gain was gone [exēlthen]

Or 'gone out'.

, they seized Paul and Silas, and dragged them into the marketplace [agoran]

Not only the trading-place but the centre of a city's public life.

before the rulers. 20When they had brought them to the magistrates [stratēgois]

The two praetors who acted as magistrates in a Roman colony.

, they said, "These men, being Jews, are agitating our city, 21and set forth customs [ethē] which it is not lawful [exestin]

The accusations of causing a riot and introducing an alien religion were serious. Officially the Roman citizen may not practise any alien cult that has not received the public sanction of the state, but customarily he might do so as long as his cult did not involve political or social crimes. Concealing their anger over a lost income, the magistrates incited anti-Semitism among the people and stoked up their Roman pride.

for us to accept or to observe [paradechomai oude poieō]

Conservatism

The Romans had always appreciated that everything they found most splendid in a citizen might also be a source of danger. This explained why, over the centuries, so many limits upon the free play of ambition had evolved. Laws and customs, precedents and myths, these formed the fabric of the Republic. No citizen could afford to behave as though they did not exist.

Tradition was a most sacred Roman concept and provided a pattern of existence for all those who shared in it. The Romans had a distaste for change and novelty had sinister connotations. Pragmatic as they were, they might accept innovation if it were dressed up as the will of the gods or an ancient custom, but never for its own sake. Conservative and flexible in equal measure, the Romans kept what worked, adapted what had failed, and preserved as sacred lumber what had become redundant. Restore the past, the way that things had always been, and the safety of the Republic would be assured. This was a presumption buried deep in the soul of every Roman. The Senate was to be guided by men who embodied Rome's ancient order, bound by the flinty traditions of their ancestors. The Republic, however, had many different traditions, confused and confusing, and defying codification. It was the nature of the Republic to thrive on complexity.

What bound citizens of the Republic together was their honour, their love of glory, their military ardour. Laws were animated by traditions. Roman reformers aimed to renew the rugged virtues of the ancient peasantry and secure tenure. This was the raw stuff of Roman myth: nostalgia for a venerated past while holding on to a harsh and unsentimental spirit. In the words of Virgil, 'Back-breaking labour, and the urgings of tough poverty - these can conquer anything' (Georgics, 1.145-6).

, being Romans." 22The multitude rose up together against them, and the magistrates [stratēgoi] tore their clothes off of them, and commanded them to be beaten with rods. 23When they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely, 24who, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison, and secured their feet in the stocks [xylon]

Stocks held the feet and sometimes neck and hands of a prisoner, cf. Job 13:27; Jer 29:26. They were used to torture the victim by stretching his body or keeping it in unnatural positions.

. 25But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were loosened. 27The jailer [desmophulax]

Probably, like most gaolers at that time, a retired soldier or army veteran and, like all officials in the legal administration of a Roman colony, he was doubtless a Roman himself. Although holding a responsible post in the local prison, he was still only a subordinate official in government service. Since his prisoners awaited death by torture, this same fate would be his, should they have escaped during his watch.

, being roused out of sleep and seeing the prison doors open, drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, "Don't harm yourself, for we are all here!" 29He called for lights and sprang in, and, fell down trembling before Paul and Silas, 30and brought them out and said, "Sirs [Kyrioi], what must I do to be saved [sōzō]?" 31They said, "Believe [pisteuō] in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved [sōzō], you and your household." 32They spoke the word [logon] of the Lord to him, and to all who were in his house [oikia]. 33He took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes, and was immediately baptized, he and all his household. 34He brought them up into his house [oikon], and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly [agalliaō], with all his household [panoikei], having believed [pisteuō] in God. 35But when it was day, the magistrates [stratēgoi] sent the sergeants [rhabdouxous], saying, "Let those men go." 36The jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, "The magistrates [stratēgoi] have sent to let you go; now therefore come out, and go in peace." 37But Paul said to them, "They have beaten us publicly, without a trial [akatakritous]

According to the text of the 'lex Julia' the Roman citizen might not be beaten or bound by a magistrate 'adversus provocationem' by any other person in any circumstances, let alone untried and uncondemned. He only had to say, 'civis Romanus sum' to be granted civil rights. Perhaps Paul and Silas had spoken up in the agora, but to no avail. Violation of citizenship privileges was a serious crime so in protesting against his injustice, Paul's 'sit-in' must have had far-reaching consequences for the freedom of the church he left behind.

, men who are Romans, and have cast us into prison! Do they now release us secretly? No, most certainly, but let them come themselves and bring us out!" 38The sergeants [rhabdouxoi] reported these words [rhēmata] to the magistrates [stratēgois], and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans, 39and they came and begged [parakaleō] them. When they had brought them out, they asked them to depart from the city. 40They went out of the prison, and entered into Lydia's [Lydian] house. When they had seen the brothers [adelphous], they encouraged [parekalesan] them, and departed.

17 1Now when they had passed through Amphipolis [Amphipolin] and Apollonia [Apollōnian], they came to Thessalonica [Thessalonikēn]

It was a one-hundred-mile journey from Philippi to Thessalonica, following the 'Via Egnatia' all the way in a south-westerly direction. Thessalonica was the capital of the province of Macedonia. It was a harbour town, situated at the head of the Thermaic Gulf. Commanding trade by sea across the Aegean and by land along the east-west 'Via Egnatia', it was a flourishing commercial centre, and was proud of having been made a free city in 42 BC. Paul must have stayed for several months. Most of his converts must have been Gentiles (1 Thess 1:9-10) but Luke dwells on his Jewish mission, which lasted only three weeks.

, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2Paul, as was his custom, went in to them, and for three Sabbath days reasoned [dialegomai]

The Scriptures to which Paul turned must have been those already quoted in the apostles' earlier sermons, especially Ps 2:1-7; 16:8-11; 110:1; 118:22; Is 52-53, and probably also Dt 21:22-23.

with them from the Scriptures [graphōn; Heb. Tanakh], 3explaining and demonstrating [paratithēmi]

Since it means lit. to 'place beside', it may refer to Paul's argument in setting the fulfilment alongside the predictions, or at least identifying history with Scripture, and Jesus with Christ.

that the Christ had to suffer and rise [anistēmi] again from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus, whom I proclaim [katangellō]

It was a typical 'pesher' or 'this is that' use of the OT, like Peter's on the Day of Pentecost (2:16).

to you, is the Christ." 4Some of them were persuaded, and joined Paul and Silas, of the devout Greeks [sebomenōn Hellēnōn] a great multitude, and not a few of the chief women. 5But the unpersuaded [zēloō]

In Greek this sentence opening reads: 'Having become envious the disobeying Jews…'.

Jews took along some wicked men from the marketplace [agoraiōn]

Louts or layabouts; market-loungers.

, and gathering a crowd [dēmos]

May refer to 'the People's Assembly' or citizens' council, of which Thessalonica as a free city was justly proud.

, set the city in an uproar. Assaulting the house of Jason, they sought to bring them out to the people. 6When they didn't find them, they dragged Jason and certain brothers [adelphous] before the rulers [politarchas]

Five contemporary Macedonian inscriptions referring to Thessalonica indicate that a body of five politarchs ruled the city during the first century AD.

of the city, crying, "These who have turned the world [oikoumenēn]

The known inhabited earth, i.e., the Roman Empire.

upside down [anastatoō]

Not that they had 'turned the world upside down' (AV) but that they were causing a radical social upheaval. The verb has revolutionary overtones and is used in 21:38 of an Egyptian terrorist. Paul and Silas were charged with high treason (cf. Lk 23:2). Their language was easily misunderstood when they taught the kingdom of God (14:22) and spoke to the Thessalonians about Christ's parousia (the official term for an imperial visit), and referred to Jesus as basileus (see Jn 19:12; 1 Pet 2:13, 17), a term ascribed to the Emperor.

have come here also, 7whom Jason has received. These all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus!" 8The multitude and the rulers [politarchas] of the city were troubled [tarassō] when they heard these things. 9When they had taken security [lambanō to hikanon]

The magistrates' action was probably more than to release the accused on bail. Luke's expression refers to the offering and giving of security in civil and criminal procedures. It was incumbent upon Paul and Silas to never return once they were released (cf. 1 Thess 2:18; 'Satan's prevention').

from Jason and the rest, they let them go. 10The brothers [adelphoi] immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Beroea [Beroian]

Fifty-miles in a south-west direction.

. When they arrived, they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica [Thessalonikē], in that they received [cechomai] the word [logon] with all readiness of the mind, examining [anakrinō]

Used of judicial investigations, as of Herod examining Jesus (Lk 23:14-15), the Sanhedrin Peter and John (4:9), and Felix Paul (24:8).

the Scriptures [graphas; Heb. Tanakh] daily to see whether these things were so. 12Many of them therefore believed [pisteuō]; also of the prominent Greek [Hellēnidōn] women, and not a few men. 13But when the Jews of Thessalonica [Thessalonikēs] had knowledge that the word [logos] of God was proclaimed [katangelō] by Paul at Beroea [Beroia] also, they came there likewise, agitating the multitudes. 14Then the brothers [adelphoi] immediately sent out Paul to go as far as to the sea, and Silas and Timothy still stayed there. 15But those who escorted Paul brought him as far as Athens [Athēnōn]

Presumably a sea voyage of more than 300 miles. Athens had been the foremost Greek city-state since the fifth century BC. Even after its incorporation into the Roman Empire, it retained a proud intellectual independence and also became a free city. It boasted of its rich philosophical tradition inherited from Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, Epicurus and Zeno, of its literature and art, and of its notable achievements in the cause of human liberty. Athens was the empire's intellectual metropolis but the cultural capital of the world. Its buildings and monuments were unrivalled. The acropolis, the town's ancient citadel, was elevated enough to be seen from miles around and dedicated to national glory and worship of the gods. The agora, with its porticoes painted by famous artists, was the setting for the debates of contemporary statesmen and philosophers, for Athens was well known for its democracy and indeed was the birthplace of democracy. Athens was the most distinguished of the three universities of antiquity (Alexandria, Tarsus and Athens). It was still a magnet for the world's younger intelligentsia. Nothing of Athens was wasted on Paul, a graduate of the universities of Tarsus and Jerusalem, and endowed with a brilliant intellect.

. Receiving a commandment to Silas and Timothy that they should come to him very quickly, they departed. 16Now while Paul waited for them at Athens [Athēnais], his spirit was provoked [paroxunō to pneuma]

Lit., 'His spirit was painfully excited'. 'Paroxysm' comes from the Greek verb paroxyno. It had medical associations, being used of a seizure or epileptic fit. It also meant to 'stimulate', especially to irritate or provoke (cf. only other instance in NT: 1 Cor 13:5). The imperfect tense expresses a continuous, settled reaction. The verb is used regularly in the LXX of the Holy One of Israel, and in particular of his reaction to idolatry (Is 65:2-3; see Dt. 9:7, 18, 22; Ps 106:28-29; Ho 8:5; see also Ex 34:14; Is 42:8; 1 Ki 19:10 and 2 Cor 11:2ff).

within him as he saw [theōreō]

To 'observe' or 'consider', also in 22 and 23.

the city full of idols [kateidōlon]

This adjective occurs nowhere else in the NT, and has not been found in any other Greek literature. The sense is of a city not just full of idols but under them. Kata words often express luxurious growth. Xenophon referred to Athens as 'one great altar, one great sacrifice'. There were probably more gods than men, housed in innumerable temples, shrines, statues and altars. In the Parthenon stood a huge gold and ivory statue of Athena, whose gleaming spear-point was visible forty miles away. Elsewhere there were images of Apollo, the city's patron, of Jupiter, Venus, Mercury, Bacchus, Neptune, Diana and Aesculapius. The whole Greek pantheon was there, all the gods of Olympus. They were made of stone and brass, gold, silver, ivory and marble, fashioned by the finest Greek sculptors.

. 17So he reasoned [dialegomai] in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout [sebomenois] persons, and in the marketplace [agora]

Did duty as both market-place and centre of public life. It was a public resort for all who wished to acquire news or hold disputations. It seems Paul deliberately adopted the famous Socratic method of dialogue involving questions and answers.

every day with those who met him. 18Some of the Epicurean [Epikoureiōn]

These philosophies were contemporary but rival systems. The Epicureans ('philosophers of the garden'), founded by Epicurus (died 270 BC), considered the gods to be so remote as to take no interest in, and have no influence on, human affairs. The world was due to chance and there would be no death or judgement. So humans should pursue pleasure, especially the serene enjoyment of a life detached from pain, passion and fear. They emphasized chance, escape and enjoyment of pleasure.

and Stoic [Stoïkōn]

The Stoics ('philosophers of the porch' - the 'stoa' or painted colonnade next to the agora where they taught), founded by Zeno (died 265 BC), acknowledged the supreme god but in a pantheistic way, confusing him with the 'world soul'. The world was determined by fate, and humans must pursue their duty, resigning themselves to live in harmony with nature and reason, however painful, and develop their own self-sufficiency. They emphasized fatalism, submission and the endurance of pain.

philosophers [philosophōn] also were conversing with him. Some said, "What does this babbler [spermologos]

Athenian slang, lit. 'seed-picker', used of various seed-eating or scavenging birds, e.g., the rook in Aristophanes' comedy 'The Birds'. It was applied to vagrants or beggars who lived off scraps of food they picked up in the gutter, 'gutter-snipes', and particularly to teachers who, not having an original idea of their own, unscrupulously plagiarize from others. 'Intellectual magpie'.

want to say?" Others said, "He seems to be advocating [katangelō] foreign deities [daimoniōn]

Does not always mean 'demons' but also used of 'lesser gods', in this case 'foreign divinities'.

," because he preached [euangelizō] Jesus and the resurrection [anastasin]

Chrysostom suggested that the philosophers understood Paul to be introducing into the Athenian pantheon a couple of new divinities: a male god 'Jesus' and his female consort 'Anastasis' (Homily XXXVIII); or one to do with healing ('iasis' sounds like Iesous) and restoration. The pagan Athenians imagined two new gods while the pagan Lystrans imagined seeing two old ones.

. 19They took hold of him, and brought him to the Areopagus [Areion Pagon], saying, "May we know what this new teaching is, which is spoken by you? 20For you bring certain strange things to our ears. We want to know therefore what these things mean." 21Now all the Athenians [Athēnaioi] and the strangers living there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell or to hear some new thing. 22Paul stood in the middle of the Areopagus [Areiou Pagou]

'Mars' Hill'. Situated NW of the Acropolis, it was formerly the place where the most venerable judicial court of ancient Greece met. For this reason the name came to be transferred from the place to the court. In Paul's day, although cases were sometimes heard there, the court had become more a council, with diminished legal powers. Its members were guardians of the city's religion, morals and education, and it normally met in the 'Royal Porch' of the Agora. Paul may have been given an informal inquiry by the education commission with the purpose of proving himself for their indulgence. They were scornful and full of contempt.

, and said, "You men of Athens [Athēnaioi], I perceive [theōreō] that you are very religious [deisidaimonesterous]

Lit. 'reverent to demons'.

in all things. 23For as I passed along [dierchomai], and observed [anatheōreō] the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: 'TO AN UNKNOWN GOD [agnōstō theō]

Reference to such altars, inscribed to an unknown god, have been found in ancient literature, e.g., Pausanias, who travelled extensively in about AD 175 wrote a 'Tour of Greece' beginning in Athens. Landing on the rocky peninsula called Piraeus, five miles SW of the city, he found near the harbour a number of temples, together with 'altars of the gods named Unknown' ('Pausanias' Description of Greece').

.' What therefore you worship in ignorance [agnoountes eusebeō], this I announce [katangellō] to you. 24The God who made the world [kosmon] and all things in it, he, being Lord of heaven and earth, doesn't dwell [katoikeō] in temples made with hands, 25neither is he served [therapeuō] by men's hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he himself gives to all life and breath, and all things. 26He made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the surface of the earth, having determined appointed seasons, and the boundaries of their dwellings [katoikeō], 27that they should seek the Lord, if perhaps they might reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28'For in him we live [zaō], and move [kineō], and have our being [eimi]

Quoted from the 6th century BC poet Epimenides of Cnossos in Crete.

.' As some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also his offspring [genos]

Quoted from the 3rd century Stoic author Aratus, who came from Paul's native Cilicia, although he may have been echoing an earlier poem by the Stoic philosopher Cleanthes. Aratus was referring to Zeus. Paul also quoted from Menander (1 Cor 15:33) and again from Epimenides (Tit 1:12).

.' 29Being then the offspring [genos] of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold, or silver, or stone, engraved by art and design of man. 30The times of ignorance [agnoias] therefore God overlooked. But now he commands [parangellō] that all people everywhere should repent [metanoeō], 31because he has appointed a day in which he will judge [krinō] the world [oikoumenēn] in righteousness [dikaiosynē] by the man whom he has ordained [horizō]; of which he has given assurance [pistin] to all men, in that he has raised [anistēmi] him from the dead." 32Now when they heard of the resurrection [anastasin] of the dead, some mocked; but others said, "We want to hear you again concerning this." 33Thus Paul went out from among them. 34But certain men joined with him, and believed [pisteuō], among whom also was Dionysius [Dionusios]

Identified (on insufficient evidence) by Eusebius as Athens' first Christian bishop and martyr.

the Areopagite [Areopagitēs], and a woman named Damaris [Damaris], and others with them.

18 1After these things Paul departed from Athens [Athēnōn], and came to Corinth [Korinthon]. 2He found a certain Jew named Aquila [Akylan]

Mentioned in Ro 16:3-4; 1 Cor 16:9; 2 Tim 4:19. Born in Pontus on the southern shore of the Black Sea, Aquila had migrated to Italy. Whether before or after his marriage to Priscilla, they both left Rome for Corinth, on account of an imperial edict. Suetonius referred to this in his 'Life of Claudius' (25:4): 'as the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus ('impulsore Chresto'), he banished them from Rome'. Presumably Aquila and Priscilla were already believers before they reached Corinth. They later moved from Corinth to Ephesus in the company of Paul. They were tentmakers (18:3). The church met in their house (18:18, 19, 26).

, a man of Pontus [Pontikon] by race, who had recently come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla [Priskillan], because Claudius [Klaudion] had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome. He came to them, 3and because he practiced the same trade, he lived with them and worked, for by trade [homotechnon] they were tent makers [skēnopoioi]

Skene or skenos is a tent. Skenopoios has been translated 'leather worker' or 'saddler', since tents were made of leather. 'Cloth worker' is plausible since Paul might have woven a coarse fabric from the thick goats' hair of his native Cilicia. 'Cilicium' (Latin) was used for curtains, rugs and clothing as well as tents. What is certain is that Paul worked with his hands. Rabbis were required to learn a trade, and urged all young men to do the same (but cf. Gal 6:6; 1 Cor 9:4ff). It was considered disreputable not to be acquainted with some handicraft, a practical knowledge of a trade being regarded as a prerequisite to personal independence.

. 4He reasoned [dialegomai] in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded [peithō] Jews and Greeks [Hellēnas]. 5But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia [Makedonias], Paul was compelled [synechō] by the Spirit, testifying [diamartyreō] to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. 6When they opposed [antitassō] him and blasphemed [blasphēmeō], he shook out his clothing and said to them, "Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean [katharos]. From now on, I will go to the Gentiles [ethnē]!" 7He departed there, and went into the house of a certain man named Justus [Titiou Ioustou]

Speculative whether this was the Gaius of Rom 16:23 and 1 Cor 1:14.

, one who worshiped [sebomenou] God, whose house was next door to the synagogue. 8Crispus [Krispos], the ruler of the synagogue [archisynagōgos], believed [pisteuō] in the Lord with all his house [oikō]. Many of the Corinthians [Korinthiōn], when they heard, believed [pisteuō] and were baptized. 9The Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, "Don't be afraid [phobou], but speak and don't be silent; 10for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many people [laos]

OT word for Israel, now applied to Gentiles (cf. Jn 10:16).

in this city." 11He lived there a year and six months, teaching the word [logon] of God among them. 12But when Gallio [Galliōnos]

AD 51-52. Gallio was a friend of justice and truth. He was the younger brother of Seneca, the Stoic philosopher and tutor of the youthful Nero. At this time Achaia was a 'senatorial' province of the Empire and therefore governed by a proconsul as opposed to an 'imperial' province which was governed by a legate. The province's status had changed in AD 44.

was proconsul [anthupatou] of Achaia [Achaïas], the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him before the judgment seat [bēma]

Large, raised platform that stood in the 'agora'. It was positioned in front of the proconsul's residence and served as a forum where he tried cases.

, 13saying, "This man persuades [anapeithō] men to worship God contrary to the law." 14But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio [Galliōn] said to the Jews, "If indeed it were a matter of wrong or of wicked crime, you Jews, it would be reasonable [kata logon] that I should bear with you; 15but if they are questions about words [logou] and names and your own law [nomou]

Judaism was a 'religio licita', and authorized religion. Paul was being accused of promulgating a 'religio illicita'. Gallio's judgement had the implication that the gospel could not now be charged with illegality.

, look to it yourselves. For I don't want to be a judge [kritēs] of these matters." 16He drove them from the judgment seat [bēmatos]. 17Then all the Greeks laid hold on Sosthenes [Sōsthenēn], the ruler of the synagogue [archisynagōgon], and beat him before the judgment seat [bēmatos]. Gallio [Galliōni] didn't care about any of these things. 18Paul, having stayed after this many more days, took his leave of the brothers [adelphois], and sailed from there for Syria, together with Priscilla [Priskilla] and Aquila [Akylas]. He shaved his head in Cenchreae [Kegchreais], for he had a vow [euchēn]

A Nazirite vow (Nu 6:1ff), which involved abstinence from drinking wine and from cutting hair for a period, after which the hair was cut then burned, along with other sacrifices, as a symbol of self-offering to God. If the vow was completed away from Jerusalem, the hair could still be brought there to be burned. Such vows were made in thanksgiving or as part of a petition for future blessings.

. 19He came to Ephesus [Epheson]

Famed for its commerce but had political importance as well, as the capital of the Roman province of Asia. In particular Ephesus was one of the principal religious centres of the Graeco-Roman world. The imperial cult flourished there, and at one time the city boasted as many as three temples dedicated to the worship of the Emperor. Ephesus was famed as 'the guardian of the temple of Artemis' (19:35). In classical mythology Artemis (whom the Romans called Diana) was a virgin huntress, but in Ephesus she had somehow become identified with an Asian fertility goddess. Ephesus guarded with immense pride her many breasted image (probably in origin a meteorite) and the magnificent temple which housed it. This structure had more than one hundred Ionic pillars, each sixty feet high, and supporting a white marble roof. Being four times the size of the Parthenon in Athens, and adorned by many beautiful paintings and sculptures, it was regarded as one of the seven wonders of the world (the others being the Pyramids, the hanging gardens of Babylon, the statue of Zeus Olympia, the Halikarnassos Mausoleum, the lighthouse at Alexandria, and the Colossus statue of Rhodes). In addition, under Diana's patronage, superstitions and occult practices of all kinds flourished. And the magic words and formulae, which were sold to the credulous, were known as 'Ephesian Letters', 'grammata' which were written charms, amulets and talismans.

, and he left them there; but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned [dialegomai] with the Jews. 20When they asked him to stay with them a longer time, he declined; 21but taking his leave of them, and saying, "I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem, but I will return again to you if God wills [thelontos]," he set sail from Ephesus [Ephesou]. 22When he had landed at Caesarea [Kaisareian]

Israel's chief port.

, he went up and greeted the assembly [ekklēsian]

Almost certainly that of Jerusalem, about sixty-five miles inland, as the term 'went up' signifies.

, and went down to Antioch. 23Having spent some time there, he departed, and went through the region of Galatia, and Phrygia [Phrygian], in order, establishing [epistērizō] all the disciples. 24Now a certain Jew named Apollos [Apollōs]

Proposed by Luther as the author of Hebrews. Cf. 1 Cor 3:6.

, an Alexandrian [Alexandreus]

Alexandria had a huge Jewish population. Here the LXX had been produced 200 years before Christ, and the great scholar Philo, Jesus' contemporary, lived, struggling by allegorical interpretation to reconcile Hebrew religion with Greek philosophy.

by race, an eloquent [logios]

Or 'eloquent'.

man, came to Ephesus [Epheson]. He was mighty in the Scriptures. 25This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately [akribōs] the things concerning Jesus, although he knew only the baptism of John. 26He began to speak boldly [parrhēsiazomai] in the synagogue. But when Priscilla [Priskilla] and Aquila [Akylas] heard him, they took him aside, and explained to him the way of God more accurately [akribesteron]

If his knowledge was limited to John's baptism and teaching, his grasp of the events of Jesus death and resurrection may have been minimal, and he will have needed to hear about Jesus' commission, exultation and gift of the Spirit.

. 27When he had determined to pass over into Achaia [Achaïan], the brothers [adelphoi] encouraged [protrepō] him, and wrote to the disciples to receive him. When he had come, he greatly helped those who had believed [pisteuō] through grace [charitos]; 28for he powerfully refuted the Jews, publicly showing [epideiknymi] by the Scriptures [graphōn; Heb. Tanakh] that Jesus was the Christ.

19 1It happened that, while Apollos [Apollō] was at Corinth [Korinthō]

Corinth was a great commercial centre, a world-famous emporium. Situated close to the isthmus which joined mainland Greece to the Peloponnesian peninsula, it commanded the trade routes in all directions, not only NS by land but also EW by sea. For before the Corinthian canal was cut for three and a half miles across the isthmus, there was a 'diolkos' or slipway along which cargoes and even small vessels could by haled, thus saving 200 miles of perilous navigation round the southern tip of the peninsula. In consequence, Corinth boasted two ports, Lechaeum on the Corinthian Gulf to the west and Cenchrea on the Saronic Gulf to the east. Horace called Corinth 'bimaris' or 'two-sea'd'. Not surprisingly, Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, whom the Romans called Neptune, was worshipped there. So Corinth was a city of seafarers, of maritime merchants. Its markets might have stocked Arabian balsam, Egyptian papyrus, Phoenician dates, Libyan ivory, Babylonian carpets, Cilician goats' hair, Lycaonian wool, Phrygian slaves. The Corinthians were proud people. Their intellectual arrogance emerges in Paul's correspondence with them. They were proud of their city, which Julius Caesar had beautifully rebuilt in 46 BC. They boasted of its wealth and culture, of the world-famous Isthmian games which it hosted every other year, and of its political prestige as the capital of provincial Achaia, taking precedence even over Athens. Corinth was also associated with immorality. Behind the city, nearly 2000 feet above sea level, rose the rocky eminence called the Acrocorinth. On its flat summit stood the temple of Aphrodite or Venus, goddess of love. A thousand female slaves served her and roamed the city's streets at night. 'Korinthiastes' became synonymous with 'harlot' and 'korinthiazomai' came to mean to 'practise immorality'.

, Paul, having passed through the upper country, came to Ephesus [Epheson], and found certain disciples. 2He said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed [pisteusantes]?" They said to him, "No, we haven't even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." 3He said, "Into what then were you baptized?" They said, "Into John's baptism." 4Paul said, "John indeed baptized with the baptism of repentance [matanoias], saying to the people that they should believe [pisteusōsin] in the one who would come after him, that is, in Jesus." 5When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke with other languages [glōssais] and prophesied. 7They were about twelve men in all. 8He entered into the synagogue, and spoke boldly [parrhēsiazomai] for a period of three months, reasoning and persuading [dialegomai kai peithō] about the things concerning the Kingdom [basileias] of God. 9But when some were hardened [sklērynō] and disobedient [apeitheō], speaking evil [kakologeō] of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, reasoning [dialegomenos] daily in the school of Tyrannus [Tyrannou]

Tyrannos means a despot or tyrant! Assumed to be a philosopher or educator of some kind, who lectured during the cool hours of the morning, but was prepared to rent his school room or lecture hall (schole) to Paul in the heat of the day. Public life in the Ionian cities ended regularly at 11 am, having begun at sunrise. Work was resumed again at 4 pm. Paul's lecturing from here led to the evangelisation of the whole province. For all the roads of Asia converged on Ephesus, and all the inhabitants of Asia visited Ephesus from time to time, to buy or sell, visit a relative, frequent the baths, attend the games in the stadium, watch a drama in the theatre, or worship the goddess. Thus the gospel must have spread to the Lycus valley and to its towns Colosse, Laodicea and Hierapolis (cf. Col 1:7; 2:1; 4:12-13), and perhaps to the remaining five of the seven churches, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, and Philadephia.

. 10This continued for two years, so that all those who lived in Asia [Asian] heard the word [logon] of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks [Hellēnas]. 11God worked special miracles [dynameis]

Described with the adjective 'tychousas'; special, singular, remarkable. Cf. e.g., 2 Cor 12:12; Rom 15:19 and Lk 8:43-44.

by the hands of Paul, 12so that even handkerchiefs [soudaria]

The sweat-rags being used for tying round his head and the aprons for tying round his waist while tentmaking.

or aprons [simikinthia] were carried away from his body to the sick, and the evil spirits went out. 13But some of the itinerant Jews, exorcists, took on themselves to invoke over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, "We adjure [orkizō] you by Jesus whom Paul preaches [kēryssō]." 14There were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did this. 15The evil spirit answered, "Jesus I know [ginōskō], and Paul I know [epistamai], but who are you?" 16The man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17This became known to all, both Jews and Greeks [Hellēsin], who lived at Ephesus [Ephesus]. Fear [phobos] fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 18Many also of those who had believed [pisteuō] came, confessing, and declaring their deeds. 19Many of those who practiced magical arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. They counted the price of them, and found it to be fifty thousand pieces of silver [argiriou myriadas pente]

Lit. 'of silver myriads five'. The drachma was a silver coin representing about a day's wage.

. 20So the word [logos] of the Lord was growing and becoming mighty [kata kratos … ischuō]. 21Now after these things had ended, Paul determined in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia [Makedonian] and Achaia [Achaïam], to go to Jerusalem, saying, "After I have been there, I must also see Rome." 22Having sent into Macedonia [Makedonian] two of those who served him, Timothy and Erastus [Eraston], he himself stayed in Asia for a while. 23About that time there arose no small stir concerning the Way. 24For a certain man named Demetrius [Dēmētrios]

Probably Master of the guild of silversmiths for the year.

, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis [Artemidos]

Charms of wood or precious metal featured on one side of a door concealing the image inside. Artemis was the goddess of fertility, with her twenty-four breasts. On her head were two rows of city walls, signifying her guardianship of the city. Behind her head was a half moon, showing that she was the goddess of the moon and stars. On her body was carved multiple animals which included a lion, tiger and deer to signify the hunter Nimros. During the festival of Artemis, a procession with twenty-four women dressed in white paraded the statue through the town to the harbour where the generative organs of twenty-four bulls were cut off and hung about the neck of the statue. Then the bulls were burnt amidst great dancing and excitement.

, brought no little business to the craftsmen, 25whom he gathered together, with the workmen [ergatas]

Gods and trade guilds

Trade associations were centred on city districts, determined by the convergence of routes. The intersections of a city's high street were believed by Romans to be charged with spiritual energy. Crossroads, or 'vici', were so significant as a focus for community life that the Romans used the same word to describe an entire urban quarter. Every January, at the festival of the Compitalia, inhabitants of a vicus would hold a great public feast. Trade associations that were also centred on the vicus were open to everyone: citizen, freedman and slave alike. It was in these associations, the collegia, rather than on the broader stage of the city, that most citizens sought to win that universal goal of a Roman - prestige. In a vicus a citizen could know his fellow, sit down to supper with them, join in festivities throughout the year, and live confident that mourners would attend his funeral.

of like occupation, and said, "Sirs, you know that by this business we have our wealth. 26You see and hear, that not at Ephesus [Ephesou] alone, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul has persuaded [peithō] and turned away many people, saying that they are no gods, that are made with hands. 27Not only is there danger that this our trade come into disrepute, but also that the temple [hieron]

This was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was built in the 7th century BC and took 220 years to construct out of marble. It was 342 feet long by 164 wide and supported by a forest of columns each 56 feet high. It was a sacred museum of masterpieces of sculpture and painting. At the centre, behind curtains within a shrine stood the ancient image of the goddess Diana (Roman) or Artemis (Greek). Behind the shrine was a treasury, the safest bank in Asia, where nations and kings stored their most precious things. In AD 262 it was sacked by the Goths.

of the great goddess Artemis [Artemidos] will be counted as nothing, and her majesty destroyed, whom all Asia and the world [oikoumenē]

Artemis was worshipped as Isis in Egypt, Isi in India, Astarte in Babylon, Cybele in Hittite, Rhea in Greece, Diana in Rome, and Mother Goddess in China.

worships [sebazomai]." 28When they heard this they were filled with anger, and cried out, saying, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians [Megalē hē Artemis Ephesiōn]!" 29The whole city was filled with confusion, and they rushed with one accord into the theatre [theatron]

The Bezan text of this verse reads that the infuriated craftsmen went 'running into the street' before they started to shout for Diana. This was probably the Arcadian Way, the main thoroughfare of Ephesus, eleven metres wide, marble-paved and colonnaded, leading from the harbour to the theatre. The theatre itself, still in a fine state of preservation, nestling at the foot of Mount Pion and nearly 500 feet in diameter, could accommodate at least 25,000 people. Public drama arrived with the Greeks after 400 BC. Theatres were a constant reminder of widespread Greek and Roman control. Performances began with a sacrifice to a heathen god, usually the patron god of the city. Dramas and comedies included historical or political themes and were often lewd and suggestive.

, having seized Gaius [Gaïon] and Aristarchus [Aristarchon], men of Macedonia [Makedonas], Paul's companions in travel. 30When Paul wanted to enter in to the people, the disciples didn't allow him. 31Certain also of the Asiarchs [Asiarchōn]

Leading citizens, who were prominent members of the provincial council of Asia, especially its annual presidents and perhaps ex-presidents', and/or the city's deputies who served on it, and/or the administrators of the various temples of the imperial cult, who were under the charge of high priests appointed by the provincial council. Every year ten of the most prominent citizens of the chief cities of proconsular Asia were chosen to the office of Asiarch for the term of one year, though eligible for reappointment. They were men of great wealth, since the games at which they officiated were very costly, and the Asiarche were obliged to meet the entire expense. When officiating, they were clad in purple and crowned with garlands.

, being his friends, sent to him and begged him not to venture into the theatre [theatron]. 32Some therefore cried one thing, and some another, for the assembly [ekklēsia] was in confusion. Most of them didn't know why they had come together. 33They brought Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward [probibazō]. Alexander [Alexandron] beckoned with his hand, and would have made a defense [apologeisthai] to the people. 34But when they perceived [epiginōskō] that he was a Jew, all with one voice for a time of about two hours cried out, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians [Megalē hē Artemis Ephesiōn]!" 35When the town clerk [grammateus]

The elected head of the city executive or chief administrative assistant, annually elected of the magistrates. He had a staff of permanent clerks or scribes, responsible for the paper work of the city. These scribes themselves presided over assemblies, and sometimes legally assumed the functions of magistrates. He was a man of intelligence with great skill in crowd control.

had quieted the multitude, he said, "You men of Ephesus [Ephesioi], what man is there who doesn't know that the city of the Ephesians is temple keeper [neōkoron]

The Ephesian Diana was a distinct divinity of Asiatic origin. Her worship was found by the Greeks in Ionia when they settled there and extended over a vast region with different cities vying for the honour of being neokoron, guardian of the temple. The image, like others, was claimed to have fallen from heaven and as an aerolite (siliceous meteorite) was worshipped according to the ancient superstition that gave sanctity and divinity to certain stones.

of the great goddess Artemis [megalēs Artemidos], and of the image [diopetous] which fell down from Zeus? 36Seeing then that these things can't be denied, you ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rash. 37For you have brought these men here, who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers [blasphēmeō] of your goddess. 38If therefore Demetrius [Dēmētrios] and the craftsmen who are with him have a matter against anyone, the courts [agoraioi] are open, and there are proconsuls [anthypatoi]. Let them press charges [egkaleō] against one another. 39But if you seek anything about other matters, it will be settled in the regular assembly [ennomō ekklēsia]

Legal term for the regular (three times a month) official meetings of the demos or city council.

. 40For indeed we are in danger of being accused concerning this day's riot, there being no cause. Concerning it, we wouldn't be able to give an account of this commotion." 41When he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly [ekklēsian].

20 1After the uproar had ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, took leave of them, and departed to go into Macedonia [Makedonian]. 2When he had gone through those parts, and had encouraged [parakaleō]

From appeal and entreaty through exhortation and encouragement to comfort and consolation.

them with many words, he came into Greece [Hellada]. 3When he had spent three months there, and a plot was made against him by Jews as he was about to set sail [anagō]

Probably on a pilgrim ship carrying Achaian and Asian Jews to the Passover.

for Syria, he determined to return through Macedonia [Makedonias]. 4These accompanied him as far as Asia: Sopater of Beroea [Sōpatros Pyrrou Berioaios]

Perhaps the same as Sosipater in Rom 16:21, a 'relative'.

; Aristarchus [Aristarchos]

Ac 19:29; 27:2.

and Secundus [Sekoundos] of the Thessalonians [Thessalonikeōn]; Gaius [Gaïos]

Ac 19:29.

of Derbe [Derbaios]; Timothy; and Tychicus [Tychikos]

See Eph 6:21-22; Col 4:7-8; 2 Tim 4:12; Tit 3:12.

and Trophimus [Trophimos]

See Ac 21:29; cf. 2 Tim 4:20.

of Asia [Asianoi]. 5But these had gone ahead, and were waiting for us at Troas [Trōadi]. 6We sailed away from Philippi [Philippōn] after the days of Unleavened Bread, and came to them at Troas [Trōada] in five days, where we stayed seven days. 7On the first day [tē mia]

The Jewish reckoning of a day was from sunset to sunset and the Roman from midnight to midnight. Luke is following the Roman way of reckoning since the 'daylight' (v11) is already 'the next day' of v7.

of the week, when the disciples were gathered together [synagō] to break bread, Paul talked with [dialegō]

Implies discussion, perhaps in the form of question and answer; not monologue.

them, intending to depart on the next day, and continued his speech [ton logon] until midnight. 8There were many lights in the upper chamber where we were gathered together [synēgmenoi]. 9A certain young man [neanias] named Eutychus [Eutychos] sat in the window, weighed down with deep sleep. As Paul spoke still longer [dialegō], being weighed down by his sleep, he fell down from the third story, and was taken up dead. 10Paul went down, and fell upon him, and embracing him said, "Don't be troubled, for his life is in him." 11When he had gone up, and had broken bread, and eaten, and had talked [homileō] with them a long while, even until break of day, he departed. 12They brought the boy [paida]

'Pais' normally covered the years from 8 to 14.

in alive, and were greatly comforted [parakaleō]. 13But we who went ahead to the ship [ploion]

The ship evidently sailed each day and anchored each night because during the Aegean summer the wind blows from the north, beginning at a very early hour in the morning. In the late afternoon it dies away and at sunset there is a dead calm.

set sail for Assos [Asson]

A port on the Asian mainland about twenty miles south of Troas. Travel along the coastal road was quicker than a sea voyage round the cape. Paul's choice to be alone was not typical. On his first journey he was accompanied by Barnabas and initially by John Mark; on his second by Silas and later Timothy, then Luke; and on his third by several friends (20:4). His times alone were noted for his need for company, particularly in Athens (ac 17:15-17; cf. 1 Thess 3:1, 5) and in his final Roman imprisonment (2 Tim 4:9, 21).

, intending to take Paul aboard there, for he had so arranged, intending himself to go by land. 14When he met us at Assos [Asson], we took him aboard, and came to Mitylene [Mitylēnēn]

The main city of the island of Lesbos situated on its south-east coast.

. 15Sailing from there, we came the following day opposite Chios [Chiou]. The next day we touched at Samos [Samon]

Island west of Ephesus.

and stayed at Trogyllium, and the day after we came to Miletus [Milēton]

The mainland harbour at the mouth of the River Meander.

. 16For Paul had determined to sail past Ephesus [Epheson], that he might not have to spend time in Asia [Asia]; for he was hastening, if it were possible for him, to be in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. 17From Miletus [Milētou] he sent to Ephesus [Epheson]

Thirty miles north of Miletus as the crow flies, but the circuitous road was longer. It must have taken about three days for a messenger to travel to Ephesus and bring the elders back to Miletus.

, and called to himself the elders [presbyterous]

Same people as pastors (28a) and overseers (28b). Presbyteroi was a word borrowed from the Jewish synagogue contexts.

of the assembly [ekklēsias]. 18When they had come to him, he said to them, "You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia [Asian], how I was with you all the time, 19serving [douleuō] the Lord with all humility, with many tears, and with trials [peirasmōn] which happened to me by the plots of the Jews; 20how I didn't shrink from [hypostellō] declaring to you anything that was profitable, teaching you publicly and from house to house, 21testifying [diamartyreō] both to Jews and to Greeks [Hellēsin] repentance [metanoian] toward God, and faith [pistin] toward our Lord Jesus. 22Now, see [idou], I go bound [deō] by the Spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing [diamartyreō] what will happen to me there; 23except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions [thlipseis] wait for me. 24But these things don't count [logon]

Lit. 'But of nothing account I make'.

; nor do I hold my life [psychēn] dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry [diakonian] which I received from the Lord Jesus, to fully testify [diamartyreō] to the Good News [euangelion] of the grace [charitos] of God. 25"Now, look [idou], I know that you all, among whom I went about preaching [kēryssō] the Kingdom [basileian] of God, will see my face no more. 26Therefore I testify [martyreō] to you this day that I am clean from the blood of all men, 27for I didn't shrink from [hypostellō] declaring to you the whole counsel [boulēn] of God. 28Take heed [prosechō], therefore, to yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers [episkopous]

Episkopoi was a word borrowed from Greek contexts.

, to shepherd [poimainō]

Means in general to 'tend' a flock and in particular 'to lead a flock to pasture, and so to feed it' (cf. Ezk 34:2).

the assembly [ekklēsian] of the Lord and God which he purchased with his own [idiou]

Or 'which he bought with the blood of his Own'. This sense of 'idios' is well attested in papyri, where it is used as an affectionate term for relations.

blood. 29For I know that after my departure, vicious wolves [lykoi]

A constant threat to and the chief enemy of sheep in the ancient Near East, hunting singly or in packs.

will enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30Men will arise from among your own selves, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31Therefore watch [grēgoreō], remembering that for a period of three years I didn't cease to admonish [noutheteō] everyone night and day with tears. 32Now, brothers, I entrust [paratithēmi] you to God, and to the word [logō] of his grace [charitos], which is able to build up, and to give you the inheritance [klēronomian] among all those who are sanctified [hagiazō]. 33I coveted no one's silver, or gold, or clothing. 34You yourselves know that these hands served my necessities, and those who were with me. 35In all things I gave you an example, that so labouring you ought to help the weak [asthenountōn], and to remember the words [logōn] of the Lord Jesus, that he himself said, 'It is more blessed [makarion] to give than to receive.'" 36When he had spoken these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37They all wept a lot, and fell on Paul's neck and kissed him, 38sorrowing most of all because of the word which he had spoken, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship.

21 1When it happened that we had parted from them and had set sail, we came with a straight course to Cos [Kōn]

A small island due south of Miletus.

, and the next day to Rhodes [Rhodon]

A larger island to the south-east, whose city of the same name was situated at its north-easterly tip.

, and from there to Patara [Patara]

Near to the southernmost promontory of the mainland of Asia Minor. The harbour of Myra (added by Bezan text) was the great port for the direct cross-sea traffic to the coasts of Syria and Egypt so Paul probably visited there too.

. 2Having found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia [Phoinikēn], we went aboard, and set sail. 3When we had come in sight of Cyprus [Cypron], leaving it on the left hand, we sailed to Syria, and landed at Tyre [Tyron]

A 400-mile from Myra to Tyre.

, for there the ship was to unload her cargo. 4Having found disciples, we stayed there seven days. These said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem. 5When it happened that we had accomplished the days, we departed and went on our journey. They all, with wives and children, brought us on our way until we were out of the city. Kneeling down on the beach, we prayed. 6After saying goodbye to each other, we went on board the ship, and they returned home again. 7When we had finished the voyage from Tyre [Tyrou], we arrived at Ptolemais [Ptolemaïda]

Called Acre since the Middle Ages, about twenty-five miles south of Tyre.

. We greeted the brothers [adelphous], and stayed with them one day. 8On the next day, we, who were Paul's companions, departed, and came to Caesarea [Kaisareian]

A magnificent city built by Herod the Great to serve as the port for Jerusalem.

. We entered into the house of Philip the evangelist [euangelistou], who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. 9Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied. 10As we stayed there some days, a certain prophet named Agabus [Agabos] came down from Judea. 11Coming to us, and taking Paul's belt, he bound [deō] his own feet and hands, and said, "Thus says the Holy Spirit: 'So will the Jews at Jerusalem bind [deō] the man who owns this belt, and will deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles [ethnōn].'" 12When we heard these things, both we and they of that place begged him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13Then Paul answered, "What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound [deō], but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." 14When he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, "The Lord's will [thelēma] be done." 15After these days we took up our baggage and went up to Jerusalem [Ierousalēm]

The distance of sixty-five miles would take two days.

. 16Some of the disciples from Caesarea [Kaisareias] also went with us, bringing one Mnason [Mnasōni] of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we would stay. 17When we had come to Jerusalem, the brothers [adelphoi] received us gladly. 18The day following, Paul went in with us to James; and all the elders [presbyteroi] were present. 19When he had greeted them, he reported one by one the things which God had worked among the Gentiles [ethnesin] through his ministry [diakonias]. 20They, when they heard it, glorified [doxazō] God. They said to him, "You see, brother [adelphe], how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed [pisteuō], and they are all zealous for the law. 21They have been informed about you, that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles [ethnē] to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children neither to walk [peripateō] after the customs [ethesin]. 22What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come. 23Therefore do what we tell you. We have four men who have taken a vow [euchēn]

The vow of a Nazarite involved abstinence from wine and strong drink, refraining from cutting hair and avoidance of contact with the dead. When the vow ended the Nazarite presented himself at the door of the sanctuary with a one-year old male lamb for a burnt-offering, a one- year old ewe lamb for a sin-offering, and a ram for a peace-offering. After these sacrifices were offered by the priest, the Nazarite cut off his hair at the door and threw it into the fire under the peace- offering. The ceremonies involved took a longer time than Paul had at his disposal, but the law permitted a man to share the vow if he could find companions who had gone through the prescribed ceremonies, and who permitted him to join their company. This permission was normally granted if the newcomer paid the fees to the Levites for cutting the hair, and fees for sacrifices, and finished the vow along with the others. Nazarites retired to the temple during the last period of seven days, because they could be secure there against any accidental defilement. Normally the Nazarite's vow lasted between thirty and one hundred days.

. 24Take them, and purify yourself with them, and pay their expenses for them, that they may shave their heads. Then all will know that there is no truth in the things that they have been informed about you, but that you yourself also walk [stoicheō] keeping the law. 25But concerning the Gentiles who believe [pepisteukotōn ethnōn], we have written our decision that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from food offered to idols, from blood, from strangled things, and from sexual immorality [porneian]." 26Then Paul took the men, and the next day, purified [hagnizō] himself and went with them into the temple, declaring the fulfillment of the days of purification [agnismou], until the offering was offered for every one of them. 27When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the multitude and laid hands on him, 28crying out, "Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, and the law, and this place. Moreover, he also brought Greeks [Hellēnas]

Gentiles were permitted to enter only the outer court, the Court of the Gentiles. Beyond this, and preventing access into the Court of Israel, there was a stone wall partition, four and a half feet high, with repeated notices in Greek and Latin forbidding non-Jews to enter under pain of death (Josephus, 'Antiquities'; XV.11.4; 'Wars', V.5.2.). Two of the Greek notices have been found - one in 1871 and one in 1935. The text reads, "No foreigner may enter within the barricade which surrounds the temple and enclosure. Anyone who is caught doing so will have himself to blame for his ensuing death." The Roman general and later emperor Titus gave Jews permission to kill those in breach of this ruling, including Romans (Josephus, 'Wars', VI.2.4.). Cf. Eph 2:14.

into the temple, and has defiled [koinoō] this holy place!" 29For they had seen Trophimus [Trophimon], the Ephesian [Ephesion], with him in the city, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple. 30All the city was moved [kineō], and the people ran together. They seized [epilambanomai] Paul and dragged him out of the temple. Immediately the doors were shut. 31As they were trying to kill him, news came up to the commanding officer [chiliarchon] of the regiment [chiliarchō tēs speirēs]

'Military tribune', in charge of a thousand men (garrison). At this time he was Claudius Lysias (23:26).

that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32Immediately he took soldiers [stratiōtas]

Soldiers of the Roman garrison were always on the look-out for public disorder in Jerusalem. Their barracks were in the fortress of Antonia, which Herod the Great had built at the north-western corner of the temple area. The garrison usually consisted of a thousand men.

and centurions [ekatontarchas], and ran down to them. They, when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers [stratiōtas], stopped beating Paul. 33Then the commanding officer [chiliarchos] came near, arrested [epilambanomai]

The same verb is used of the Jews (v30) trying to lynch Paul. Here the military tribune 'lays hold' of Paul in order to take him into protective custody. Luke's aim is to contrast Jewish hostility with Roman justice.

him, commanded him to be bound [deō] with two chains, and inquired who he was and what he had done. 34Some shouted one thing, and some another, among the crowd. When he couldn't find out the truth because of the noise, he commanded him to be brought into the barracks. 35When he came to the stairs, it happened that he was carried by the soldiers [stratiōtōn] because of the violence of the crowd; 36for the multitude of the people followed after, crying out, "Away with him!" 37As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he asked the commanding officer [chiliarchō], "May I speak to you?" He said, "Do you know Greek [Hellēnisti ginōskō]? 38Aren't you then the Egyptian [Aigyptios]

Described by Josephus as 'an Egyptian false prophet' was, about three years previously, had got together 30,000 men, led them to the Mount of Olives, and promised them that, when the walls of Jerusalem fell flat at his command, they would be able to break into the city and overpower the Romans. But the procurator Felix and his troops intervened, and the sikarioi ('dagger men') were routed ('Antiquities', XX.8.6; 'Wars', II.13.5.). However the Egyptian disappeared!.

, who before these days stirred up to sedition and led out into the wilderness the four thousand men of the Assassins?" 39But Paul said, "I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia [Kilikias]

Tarsus was the first city of Cilicia, not only in prosperity but in academic distinction, as one of the great university cities of the ancient Roman world.

, a citizen of no insignificant city. I beg you, allow me to speak to the people." 40When he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the stairs, beckoned with his hand to the people. When there was a great silence, he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, saying,

22 1"Brothers and fathers [andres adelphoi kai pateres], listen to the defense [apologias] which I now make to you." 2When they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, they were even more quiet. He said, 3"I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel [Gamaliēl]

The most eminent teacher of that time and leader of the school of Hillel, whose disciple he had been.

, instructed according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God, even as you all are this day. 4I persecuted [diōkō] this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. 5As also the high priest and all the council [ton to presbyterion] of the elders testify, from whom also I received letters [epistoloas] to the brothers [adelphous], and travelled to Damascus to bring them also who were there to Jerusalem in bonds to be punished. 6It happened that, as I made my journey, and came close to Damascus, about noon, suddenly there shone from the sky a great light around me. 7I fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to me, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting [diōkō] me?' 8I answered, 'Who are you, Lord?' He said to me, 'I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you persecute [diōkō].' 9"Those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they didn't understand [akouō] the voice of him who spoke to me. 10I said, 'What shall I do, Lord?' The Lord said to me, 'Arise, and go into Damascus. There you will be told about all things which are appointed [tassō] for you to do.' 11When I couldn't see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of those who were with me, I came into Damascus. 12One Ananias [Ananias], a devout man according to the law, well reported of [martyreō] by all the Jews who lived in Damascus, 13came to me, and standing by me said to me, 'Brother [adelphe] Saul, receive your sight!' In that very hour I looked up at him. 14He said, 'The God of our fathers has appointed [procheirizō] you to know his will [thelēma], and to see the Righteous One [dikaion], and to hear a voice from his mouth. 15For you will be a witness [martys] for him to all men of what you have seen and heard. 16Now why do you wait? Arise, be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.' 17"It happened that, when I had returned to Jerusalem, and while I prayed in the temple, I fell into a trance, 18and saw him saying to me, 'Hurry and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not receive testimony [martyrian] concerning me from you.' 19I said, 'Lord, they themselves know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue those who believed [pisteuō] in you. 20When the blood of Stephen, your witness [marturos], was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting to [syneudokeō] his death, and guarding the cloaks of those who killed him.' 21"He said to me, 'Depart, for I will send [exapostelō]

Cf. 26:17. Cf. Gal 1:16; 2:7-8.

you out far from here to the Gentiles [ethnē].'" 22They listened to him until he said that; then they lifted up their voice, and said, "Rid the earth of this fellow, for he isn't fit to live!" 23As they cried out, and threw off their cloaks, and threw dust into the air, 24the commanding officer [chiliarchos] commanded him to be brought into the barracks, ordering him to be examined by scourging [mastixin anetazō]

Lit. 'by scourges to be examined'. This was the standard way of extracting information from prisoners. The 'flagellum' (Latin) was a set of leather strips attached to a wooden handle. Tied to the ends were rough pieces of metal or bone. Victims commonly died from this torture, or survived to be crippled for life.

, that he might know for what crime they shouted against him like that. 25When they had tied him up with thongs [proteinō auton tois imasin], Paul asked the centurion [ekatontarchon] who stood by, "Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman [Rhōmaion]

City/ citizen

A city - a free city - was where a man could be most fully a man. To have civitas - citizenship - was to be civilized. A citizen defined himself by the fellowship of others, in shared joys and sorrows, ambitions and fears, festivals, elections, and disciplines of war. A city was revered because of the communal life that it sheltered. It bore witness to the heritage that had made its people what they were. It enabled the spirit of a state to be known.

, and not found guilty?" 26When the centurion heard it, he went to the commanding officer [chiliarchō] and told him, "Watch what you are about to do, for this man is a Roman!" 27The commanding officer [chiliarchos] came and asked him, "Tell me, are you a Roman?" He said, "Yes." 28The commanding officer [chiliarchos] answered, "I bought my citizenship [politeian]

Citizenship tended to be either by right (for those of high status or office) or by reward (for those who had served the Empire). It was passed on from father to son (which was the case with Paul); it could also by bought, not with a fee but with a bribe to some corrupt official in the imperial secretariat or provincial administration, which was the case with Claudius Lysias. Such corruption was rife during the reign of the Emperor Claudius, which may explain why the commander had added the 'nomen' Claudius, in honour of the Emperor, to his 'cognomen' Lysias.

for a great price." Paul said, "But I was born a Roman." 29Immediately those who were about to examine him departed from him, and the commanding officer [chiliarchos] also was afraid when he realized that he was a Roman, because he had bound him. 30But on the next day, desiring to know the truth about why he was accused by the Jews, he freed him from the bonds, and commanded the chief priests and all the council to come together [synerchomai], and brought Paul down and set him before them.

23 1Paul, looking steadfastly at the council, said, "Brothers [andres adelphoi], I have lived before God in all good conscience until this day." 2The high priest, Ananias [Ananias]

An unsavoury character described by Josephus as 'a great hoarder up of money'; he even 'took away the tithes that belonged to the priests by violence' ('Antiquities', XX.9.2.).

, commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. 3Then Paul said to him, "God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit to judge [krinō] me according to the law [paranomōn], and command me to be struck contrary to the law?" 4Those who stood by said, "Do you malign [loidoreō] God's high priest?" 5Paul said, "I didn't know, brothers [adelphoi], that he was high priest. For it is written, 'You shall not speak evil of a ruler [archonta] of your people.'" 6But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, "Men and brothers [andres adelphoi], I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. Concerning the hope and resurrection [anastaseōs] of the dead I am being judged [krinō]!" 7When he had said this, an argument [stasis] arose between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the assembly [plēthos] was divided. 8For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection [anastasin], nor angel [angelon], nor spirit; but the Pharisees confess [homologeō] all of these. 9A great clamour arose, and some of the scribes [grammateōn] of the Pharisees part stood up, and contended, saying, "We find no evil in this man. But if a spirit or angel [angelos] has spoken to him, let's not fight against God!" 10When a great argument arose, the commanding officer [chiliarchos], fearing that Paul would be torn in pieces by them, commanded the soldiers [strateuma] to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks. 11The following night, the Lord stood by him, and said, "Cheer up, Paul, for as you have testified [diamartyreō] about me at Jerusalem, so you must testify [martyreō] also at Rome." 12When it was day, some of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. 13There were more than forty people who had made this conspiracy. 14They came to the chief priests and the elders [presbyterois], and said, "We have bound ourselves under a great curse, to taste nothing until we have killed Paul. 15Now therefore, you with the council inform the commanding officer [chiliarchō] that he should bring him down to you tomorrow, as though you were going to judge his case more exactly. We are ready to kill him before he comes near." 16But Paul's sister's son heard of their lying in wait, and he came and entered into the barracks and told Paul. 17Paul summoned one of the centurions, and said, "Bring this young man to the commanding officer [chiliarchon], for he has something to tell him." 18So he took him, and brought him to the commanding officer [chiliarchon], and said, "Paul, the prisoner, summoned me and asked me to bring this young man to you, who has something to tell you." 19The commanding officer [chiliarchos] took him by the hand, and going aside, asked him privately, "What is it that you have to tell me?" 20He said, "The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though intending to inquire somewhat more accurately concerning him. 21Therefore don't yield to them, for more than forty men lie in wait for him, who have bound themselves under a curse neither to eat nor to drink until they have killed him. Now they are ready, looking for the promise from you." 22So the commanding officer [chiliarchos] let the young man go, charging him, "Tell no one that you have revealed these things to me." 23He called to himself two of the centurions, and said, "Prepare two hundred soldiers [stratiōtas] to go as far as Caesarea [Kaisareias]

The provincial capital of Judea, where Felix the governor had his residence.

, with seventy horsemen, and two hundred men armed with spears [dexiolabous]

Such a detachment would have represented about half the garrison, which has led some to translate dexiolaboi as 'led horses', which would include both substitute mounts for the long overnight journey of nearly forty miles and pack horses too. The word has not been found elsewhere.

, at the third hour of the night." 24He asked them to provide animals, that they might set Paul on one, and bring him safely to Felix the governor [hēhemona Fēlika]

Felix ruled as Judea's procurator for seven or eight years from AD 52. He owed his appointment to his brother Pallas, who was a favourite at court, first of the Emperor Claudius, and then of Nero. Felix was ruthless in quelling Jewish uprisings. Though a freedman, he seems never to have grown out of a servile mentality, so that Tacitus wrote that 'he exercised the power of a king with the mind of a slave' ('Histories', V.9).

. 25He wrote a letter like this: 26"Claudius Lysias [Klaudios Lysias] to the most excellent [kratistō] governor Felix [hēgemoni Fēliki]: Greetings. 27"This man was seized by the Jews, and was about to be killed by them, when I came with the soldiers and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman. 28Desiring to know the cause why they accused him, I brought him down to their council. 29I found him to be accused about questions of their law, but not to be charged [egklēma] with anything worthy of death or of imprisonment. 30When I was told that the Jews lay in wait for the man, I sent him to you immediately, charging his accusers also to bring their accusations against him before you. Farewell." 31So the soldiers, carrying out their orders, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris [Antipatrida]. 32But on the next day they left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the barracks. 33When they came to Caesarea and delivered the letter [epistolēn] to the governor [hēgemoni], they also presented Paul to him. 34When the governor had read it, he asked what province he was from. When he understood that he was from Cilicia [Kilikias], he said, 35"I will hear you fully when your accusers also arrive." He commanded that he be kept in Herod's palace [praitōriō]

This white palace on a height near the Holy City was a place of splendour hard to imagine. Halls of marble contained pillars inlaid with gold and silver and adorned with precious stones. Three hundred guests could recline on couches and dine in one hall alone. The palace was surrounded by ornamental fountains.

.

24 1After five days, the high priest, Ananias, came down with certain elders [presbyterōn] and an orator [rhētoros]

Law

Cf. 16:20. Apart from the military, the likeliest path to triumph, and to the ultimate glory of the consulship and to seeing himself and his descendants join the ranks of the elite, was the law. In Rome this was a topic of consuming interest. Citizens knew that their legal system was what defined them and guaranteed their rights. Understandably, they were intensely proud of it. Law was the only intellectual activity that they felt entitled them to sneer at the Greeks. The Romans looked down their noses at other legal systems. In childhood, boys would train their minds for the practice of law with the same single- minded intensity they brought to the training of their bodies for warfare. In adulthood, legal practice was the one civilian profession that a senator regarded as worthy of his dignity. There was no state-run prosecution service. Instead, all cases had to be brought privately, making it a simple matter for feuds to find a vent in the courts. Bribery, intimidation, the shameless pulling of strings - anything would be attempted to avoid a prosecution but once in the law courts, no trick would be too low, no muck-raking too vicious, no slander too cruel. Officially the penalty for a defendant found guilty of a serious crime was death. In practice, because the Republic had no police force or prison system, a condemned man would be permitted to slip away into exile. Not only were criminals stripped of their citizenship, but they could be killed with impunity if they ever set foot back in Italy.

To the Romans, with their inveterate addiction to passionate and sensational rivalries, this made the law a thrilling spectator sport. Courts were open to the general public. Two permanent tribunals stood in the Forum, and other temporary platforms might be thrown up as circumstance required. As a result, the discerning enthusiast always had a wide choice of trials from which to chose. A great law-court pleader or orator manipulated a crowd wildly so as to create great theatre for the audience. Not surprisingly, the Romans had the same word, 'actor', for both a prosecutor and a performer on a stage.

, one Tertullus [rhētoros Tertyllou]. They informed the governor [hēgemoni] against Paul. 2When he was called, Tertullus [Tertyllos]

Tertullus begins in the customary way with what was called a 'captatio benevolentiae', i.e., an endeavour to capture the judge's good will. It was complimentary to the point of hypocrisy and often included a promise of brevity. Tertullus' gratitude for 'peace' and 'reforms' is farcical considering the brutality with which Felix had put down several insurrections.

began to accuse him, saying, "Seeing that by you we enjoy much peace, and that excellent measures are coming to this nation, 3we accept it in all ways and in all places, most excellent [kratiste] Felix [Phēlix], with all thankfulness. 4But, that I don't delay you, I entreat you to bear with us and hear a few words. 5For we have found this man to be a plague [loimon]

Or 'pest'.

, an instigator of insurrections among all the Jews throughout the world [oikoumenēn], and a ringleader of the sect [haireseōs]

'Sect, party or school'; applied to both Sadducees (5:17) and Pharisees (15:5; 26:5) as traditions within Judaism. It had not yet come to mean 'heresy', although cf. 5, 14 and 28:22.

of the Nazarenes. 6He even tried to profane [bebēloō] the temple, and we arrested him 7but the commanding officer, Lysias [Lysias], came by and with great violence took him out of our hands. 8By examining [anakrinō] him yourself you may ascertain all these things of which we accuse [syntithēmi] him." 9The Jews also joined in the attack, affirming that these things were so. 10When the governor [ēgemonos] had beckoned to him to speak, Paul answered, "Because I know that you have been a judge [kritēn] of this nation for many years, I cheerfully [euthymōs] make my defense [apologeomai], 11seeing that you can recognize that it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship at Jerusalem. 12In the temple they didn't find me disputing with anyone or stirring up a crowd, either in the synagogues, or in the city. 13Nor can they prove [paristēmi] to you the things of which they now accuse [katēgoreō] me. 14But this I confess [homologō] to you, that after the Way, which they call a sect, so I serve the God of our fathers, believing [pisteuō] all things which are according to the law, and which are written in the prophets; 15having hope toward God, which these also themselves look for, that there will be a resurrection [anastasin] of the dead, both of the just [dikaiōn] and unjust [adikōn]. 16Herein I also practice [askeō] always having a conscience void of offense [aproskopon] toward God and men. 17Now after some years, I came to bring gifts for the needy to my nation, and offerings; 18amid which certain Jews from Asia found me purified [hagnizō] in the temple, not with a mob, nor with turmoil. 19They ought to have been here before you, and to make accusation [katēgoreō], if they had anything against me. 20Or else let these men themselves say what injustice they found in me when I stood before the council, 21unless it is for this one thing that I cried standing among them, 'Concerning the resurrection [anastaseōs] of the dead I am being judged before you today!'" 22But Felix, having more exact knowledge concerning the Way, deferred them, saying, "When Lysias [Lysias], the commanding officer [chiliarchos], comes down, I will decide your case." 23He ordered the centurion that Paul should be kept in custody [tēreō], and should have some privileges [anesin]

To let him 'have ease', i.e., Paul would be given 'custodia libera' because of his Roman citizenship, and because he had not been convicted of any offence.

, and not to forbid any of his friends to serve [hypēreteō]

Or 'minister'.

him or to visit him. 24But after some days, Felix came with Drusilla [Drousillē]

Drusilla was the youngest daughter of Herod Agrippa I (see 12:1-23). She was the sister of King Agrippa II and of Bernice (25:13, 23; 26:30). She was reputed to be beautiful, on account of which Felix, with the aid of a Cypriot magician, had seduced her from her rightful husband and secured her for himself. She was his third wife.

, his wife, who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith [pisteōs] in Christ Jesus. 25As he reasoned about righteousness [dikaiosynēs], self-control, and the judgment [krimatos] to come, Felix was terrified [emphobos ginomai], and answered, "Go your way for this time, and when it is convenient for me, I will summon you." 26Meanwhile, he also hoped that money would be given to him by Paul, that he might release him. Therefore also he sent for him more often, and talked with him. 27But when two years [dietias]

The maximum duration of preventive custody. No doubt Paul would have been visited by Luke and Philip the evangelist with his four daughters who lived in Caesarea (21:8-9).

were fulfilled, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus [Porkion Phēston]

According to Josephus, Felix was recalled to Rome in order to explain his avage suppression of a dispute between Jews and Syrians over their civil rights in Caesarea, and would have been severely punished but for his brother Pallas' appeal to Nero ('Antiquities', XX.8.7,9' 'Wars', II.13.7). Not much is known about his successor for he died in office two years later.

, and desiring to gain favour with the Jews, Felix left Paul in bonds.

25 1Festus therefore, having come into the province, after three days went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea. 2Then the high priest and the principal men of the Jews informed him against Paul, and they begged him, 3asking a favor against him, that he would summon him to Jerusalem; plotting to kill him on the way. 4However Festus answered that Paul should be kept in custody at Caesarea, and that he himself was about to depart shortly. 5"Let them therefore," said he, "that are in power among you go down with me, and if there is anything wrong in the man, let them accuse [katēgoreō] him." 6When he had stayed among them more than ten days, he went down to Caesarea, and on the next day he sat on the judgment seat [bēmatos]

Roman judicial procedure followed three stages. First, charges had to be formulated and sustained by the prosecutor. Secondly, there would be a formal act of accusation. Thirdly, the case was heard by the holder of the imperium, in this case the procurator. In this way the accused and his accusers would come face to face (15-16).

, and commanded Paul to be brought. 7When he had come, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing against him many and grievous charges [aitiōmata]

We may guess at these from Paul's defence; he was accused of offending against the Jewish law, the temple and the emperor (8).

which they could not prove [apodeiknymi], 8while he said in his defense [apologeomai], "Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar, have I sinned at all." 9But Festus, desiring to gain favor with the Jews, answered Paul and said, "Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem, and be judged [krinō] by me there concerning these things?" 10But Paul said, "I am standing before Caesar's judgment seat [bēmatos], where I ought to be tried [krinō]. I have done no wrong to the Jews, as you also know very well. 11For if I have done wrong, and have committed anything worthy of death, I don't refuse to die; but if none of those things is true that they accuse [katēgoreō] me of, no one can give me up to them. I appeal [epikaleomai]

The Roman governors exercised supreme jurisdiction over the provinces but all Roman citizens had the inalienable right of appeal. This was not the 'appellatio' of a later period, which was an appeal to a higher court against a sentence passed by a lower one, but rather the Roman citizen's ancient right of 'provocatio', which protected him from summary punishment, execution or torture without trial, from private or public arrest, and from actual trial by magistrates outside Italy.

to Caesar!" 12Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council [symbouliou]

Provincial assessors, or councillors, were men learned in the law, whose business it was to sit in judgement with the governor and advise him on points of the law.

, answered, "You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you shall go." 13Now when some days had passed, King Agrippa [Agrippas]

Herod Agrippa II was the son of Herod Agrippa I or Ac 12 and the great grandson of Herod the Great. Bernice was his sister, and rumours were rife that their relationship was incestuous. Because he had been only seventeen years old when his father died, he was considered too young to assume the kingdom of Judea, which therefore reverted to rule by procurator. Instead, he was given a tiny and insignificant northern kingdom within what is now Lebanon, and this was later augmented by territory in Galilee. He was neverthless influential in Jewry because the Emperor Claudius had committed to him both the care of the temple and the appointment of the high priest (see Josephus 'Antiquities', XX.9.4.7.). The Herods had for generations set themselves against righteousness. Their founder, Herod the Great, had tried to destroy the infant Jesus. His son Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee, beheaded John the Baptist, and was named 'fox' by Jesus. His grandson Agrippa I slew James the son of Zebedee with the sword. Now Paul is brought before Agrippa's son.

and Bernice arrived at Caesarea, and greeted Festus. 14As he stayed there many days, Festus laid Paul's case before the king, saying, "There is a certain man left a prisoner by Felix; 15about whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders [presbyteroi] of the Jews informed me, asking [aiteō] for a sentence [dikēn] against him. 16To whom I answered that it is not the custom [ethos] of the Romans to give up [charizomai] any man to destruction, before the accused has met the accusers face to face, and has had opportunity to make his defense [apologeomai] concerning the matter [egklēmatos] laid against him. 17When therefore they had come together here, I didn't delay, but on the next day sat on the judgment seat [bēmatos], and commanded the man to be brought. 18Concerning whom, when the accusers stood up, they brought no charge [katēgoreō] of such things as I supposed; 19but had certain questions against him about their own religion [deisidaimonias], and about one Jesus, who was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive. 20Being perplexed how to inquire concerning these things, I asked whether he was willing to go to Jerusalem and there be judged [krinō] concerning these matters. 21But when Paul had appealed to be kept for the decision of the emperor [Sebastou]

Sebastou diagnosin.

, I commanded him to be kept until I could send him to Caesar [Kaisara]." 22Agrippa [Agrippas] said to Festus [Fēston], "I also would like to hear the man myself." "Tomorrow," he said, "you shall hear him." 23So on the next day, when Agrippa [Agrippa] and Bernice [Bernikēs] had come with great pomp [phantasias]

They would have on their purple robes of royalty and the gold circlet of the crown. Festus might have donned the scarlet robe which a governor wore on state occasions.

, and they had entered into the place of hearing with the commanding officers [chiliarchois]

Military tribunes who were members of the procurator's staff.

and principal men of the city, at the command of Festus, Paul was brought in. 24Festus said, "King Agrippa, and all men who are here present with us, you see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews petitioned me, both at Jerusalem and here, crying that he ought not to live any longer. 25But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and as he himself appealed to the emperor [Sebaston] I determined to send him. 26Of whom I have no certain thing to write to my lord [ho kyriō]. Therefore I have brought him forth before you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, that, after examination, I may have something to write. 27For it seems to me unreasonable, in sending a prisoner, not to also specify the charges [aitias] against him."

26 1Agrippa said to Paul, "You may speak for yourself." Then Paul stretched out his hand [cheira]

The orator stretched forth the right hand, with the two lowest fingers shut in on the palm of the hand and the other fingers extended.

, and made his defense [apologeomai]. 2"I think myself happy [makarion], King Agrippa, that I am to make my defense [apologeomai] before you this day concerning all the things that I am accused [egkaleō] by the Jews, 3especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently. 4"Indeed, all the Jews know my way of life [biōsin] from my youth up, which was from the beginning among my own nation and at Jerusalem; 5having known me from the first, if they are willing to testify, that after the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee [Pharisaios]

Saul must have been a familiar figure in Jerusalem when as a young man he sat at the feet of Rabbi Gamaliel (22:3). He is likely to have gained a reputation for scholarship, righteousness and religious zeal. Many Palestinian Jews still alive knew how he had lived as a child, first in Tarsus, then in Jerusalem. More than that, they had known him personally and could testify that he had belonged to the strictest party in Judaism; that of the Pharisees. It was anomalous therefore that he should now be on trial for his hope in God's promise to the fathers, which he and they shared, that God would send his Messiah. Paul believed it had already been fulfilled in Jesus, whose resurrection was the proof of his Messiahship and the pledge of our resurrection too.

. 6Now I stand here to be judged [krinomenos] for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers, 7which our twelve tribes, earnestly serving [latreuō] night and day, hope to attain. Concerning this hope I am accused by the Jews, King Agrippa [Agrippa]! 8Why is it judged [krinō] incredible with you, if God does raise [egeirō] the dead? 9"I myself most certainly thought that I ought to do many things contrary [enantia] to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10This I also did in Jerusalem. I both shut up many of the saints [agiōn] in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, and when they were put to death I gave my vote against them. 11Punishing [timōreō]

The synagogue punishment of whipping is meant. The subsequent phrase implies that he by no means always succeeded in forcing them to blaspheme.

them often in all the synagogues, I tried to make them blaspheme [blasphēmeō]. Being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted [diōkō] them even to foreign cities. 12"Whereupon as I traveled to Damascus with the authority and commission from the chief priests, 13at noon, O king, I saw on the way a light from the sky, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who traveled with me. 14When we had all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting [diōkō] me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads [sklēron soi pros kentra laktizō]

Well-known Greek proverb meaning 'resistance is futile' found in the works of Euripides, Aeschylus, Pindar and Terence, where this saying occurs as a metaphor for useless opposition to deity.

.' 15"I said, 'Who are you, Lord [kyrie]?' "He said, 'I am [egō eimi] Jesus, whom you are persecuting [diōkō]. 16But arise, and stand on your feet, for I have appeared [horaō] to you for this purpose: to appoint [procheirizō] you a servant [hypēretēn]

See Lk 1:2.

and a witness [martyra] both of the things which you have seen, and of the things which I will reveal to you; 17delivering [exaireō] you from the people, and from the Gentiles [ethnōn], to whom I send [egō apostellō] you, 18to open their eyes, that they may turn [epistrephō] from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive remission [aphesin] of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified [hagiazō] by faith [pistei] in me.' 19"Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20but declared first to them of Damascus, at Jerusalem, and throughout all the country of Judea, and also to the Gentiles [ethnesin], that they should repent [metanoeō] and turn [epistrephō] to God, doing works worthy of repentance [metanoias]. 21For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple, and tried to kill me. 22Having therefore obtained the help that is from God, I stand to this day testifying [martyreō] both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would happen, 23how the Christ must suffer [paschō], and how, by the resurrection of the dead, he would be first to proclaim light both to these people and to the Gentiles [ethnesin]." 24As he thus made his defense [apologoumenou], Festus said with a loud voice, "Paul, you are crazy! Your great learning is driving you insane [manian]

Cf. Mk 3:21; Jn 10:20.

!" 25But he said, "I am not crazy [mainomai], most excellent Festus [kratiste Phēste], but boldly declare words of truth and reasonableness. 26For the king knows of these things, to whom also I speak freely [parrēsiazomai]. For I am persuaded that none of these things is hidden from him, for this has not been done in a corner. 27King Agrippa [Agrippa], do you believe [pisteuō] the prophets? I know that you believe." 28Agrippa [Agrippas] said to Paul, "With a little persuasion [peithō] are you trying to make me a Christian [Christianon]?" 29Paul said, "I pray to God, that whether with little or with much, not only you, but also all that hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these bonds [desmōn]." 30The king rose up with the governor [ēgemōn], and Bernice [Bernikē], and those who sat with them. 31When they had withdrawn, they spoke one to another, saying, "This man does nothing worthy of death or of bonds." 32Agrippa [Agrippas] said to Festus [Fēstō], "This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar [Kaisara]."

27 1When it was determined that we should sail [apopleō]

Nowhere in the whole of classical literature is there such a detailed log of the working of an ancient ship as what is about to follow. It is presumed that they set sail from Caesarea, since it was there that Paul had been held in custody for two years and had been tried by Felix, Festus and Agrippa.

for Italy, they delivered [paradidōmi] Paul and certain other prisoners [desmōtas]

These probably were men condemned to death, and were going to supply the perpetual demand which Rome made on the provinces for human victims for the arena. No ship was available to transport the prisoners direct to Italy. So the voyage from Caesarea to Malta took place in two stages and in two ships from Adramyttium and Alexandria.

to a centurion named Julius [Jouliō], of the Augustan band. 2Embarking in a ship of Adramyttium [Adramyttēnō]

Situated on the north-east shore of the Aegean Sea, not far south of Troas.

, which was about to sail to places on the coast of Asia [Asian], we put to sea; Aristarchus, a Macedonian [Aristarchou Makedonos]

Both Luke and Aristarchus (who travelled with Paul to Jerusalem; 20:4) may have posed as Paul's slaves, which would have enhanced Paul's importance in the centurion's eyes. But cf. Col 4:10.

of Thessalonica [Thessalonikeōs], being with us. 3The next day, we touched at Sidon [Sidōna]

Possibly a trading stop for the vessel before sailing across open sea and off the coasts of Cilicia (where Paul's home town of Tarsus was situated) and Pamphylia (where they had landed on the first missionary journey). The journey to Myra where they changed ships would have taken a fortnight.

. Julius [Joulios] treated Paul kindly [philanthrōpōs … chraomai], and gave him permission to go to his friends and refresh himself. 4Putting to sea from there, we sailed under the lee of Cyprus, because the winds were contrary. 5When we had sailed across the sea which is off Cilicia [Kilikian] and Pamphylia [Pamphulian], we came to Myra [Myra], a city of Lycia [Lykias]. 6There the centurion found a ship of Alexandria [Alexandrinon]

Alexandria was Rome's main granary and this ship bound for Rome carried a cargo of grain (v38).

sailing for Italy, and he put us on board. 7When we had sailed slowly many days, and had come with difficulty opposite Cnidus [Knidon]

Located at the south-west tip of Asia Minor. But instead of continuing west across the lower end of the Aegean Sea, the wind forced the ship almost due south towards Crete. This north-westerly wind is typical in those seas towards the end of summer.

, the wind not allowing us further, we sailed under the lee of Crete, opposite Salmone [Salmōnēn]. 8With difficulty sailing along it we came to a certain place called Fair Havens [Kalous Limenas], near the city of Lasea [Lasaia]. 9When much time had passed and the voyage was now dangerous, because the Fast [nēsteian; Heb. Yom-Kippur]

The Day of Atonement fell on October 5 in AD 59 so this was the dangerous season for sailing, which always had to cease by the beginning of November.

had now already gone by, Paul admonished [paraineō] them, 10and said to them, "Sirs, I perceive [theōreō] that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives [psychōn]." 11But the centurion [hekatontarchēs] gave more heed to the master and to the owner of the ship than to those things which were spoken by Paul. 12Because the haven was not suitable to winter in, the majority advised going to sea from there, if by any means they could reach Phoenix [Phoinika]

It is disputed whether this port is identified with Lutro or Phineka.

, and winter there, which is a port of Crete, looking northeast and southeast. 13When the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, close to shore. 14But before long, a stormy [typhōnikos] wind beat down from shore, which is called Euroclydon [Eurakulōn; Heb. Evrakilon]

Eurakylon is a hybrid compound of 'Euros', the east wind, and Latin 'Aquilo', the north wind'. (In the OT the sea, reminiscent of the primeval chaos, was a regular symbol of evil powers in opposition to God).

. 15When the ship was caught, and couldn't face the wind, we gave way to it, and were driven along. 16Running under the lee of a small island called Clauda [Kauda], we were able, with difficulty, to secure the boat. 17After they had hoisted it up, they used cables [boētheiais]

Every ship carried large cables, which were used in case of necessity for passing around the hull to undergird it and save it from the strain of working the mast in a storm.

to help reinforce [hypozōnnumi]

'Undergird'.

the ship. Fearing that they would run aground on the Syrtis [Syrtin] sand bars, they lowered the sea anchor, and so were driven along. 18As we labored exceedingly with the storm, the next day they began to throw things overboard. 19On the third day, they threw out the ship's tackle [skeuēn] with their own hands. 20When neither sun nor stars shone on us for many days, and no small storm pressed on us, all hope that we would be saved [sōzō] was now taken away. 21When they had been long without food, Paul stood up in the middle of them, and said, "Sirs, you should have listened to me, and not have set sail from Crete, and have gotten this injury and loss. 22Now I exhort you to cheer up [euthymein], for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23For there stood by me this night an angel [angelos], belonging to the God whose I am and whom I serve [latreuō], 24saying, 'Don't be afraid, Paul. You must stand before Caesar [Kaisari]

The emperors up until Nero heard cases that fell under their 'cognitio'. Nero avoided personal jurisdiction except in exceptional circumstances, of which this was one.

. See [idou], God has granted you all those who sail with you.' 25Therefore, sirs, cheer up [euthumeite]! For I believe [pisteuō] God, that it will be just as it has been spoken to me. 26But we must run aground on a certain island." 27But when the fourteenth night had come, as we were driven back and forth in the Adriatic Sea [Adria]

In popular ancient usage meant the whole of the east central section of the Meditterranean. A ship starting late in the evening from Clauda would, by midnight on the fourteenth, be less than three miles from the entrance of St Paul's Bay in Malta.

, about midnight the sailors surmised that they were drawing near to some land. 28They took soundings, and found twenty fathoms. After a little while, they took soundings again, and found fifteen fathoms. 29Fearing that we would run aground on rocky ground, they let go four anchors [agkyras]

Four anchors were needed to compensate for a lack of weight. They were carried in a skiff (rowing or sail boat with a flat hull and open decked and of shallow draft) to a suitable distance and then dropped.

from the stern, and wished for daylight. 30As the sailors were trying to flee out of the ship, and had lowered the boat into the sea, pretending that they would lay out anchors from the bow, 31Paul said to the centurion [ekatontarchē] and to the soldiers [stratiōtais], "Unless these stay in the ship, you can't be saved [sōzō]." 32Then the soldiers [stratiōtai] cut away the ropes of the boat, and let it fall off. 33While the day was coming on, Paul begged them all to take some food, saying, "This day is the fourteenth day that you wait [prosdokaō] and continue fasting, having taken nothing. 34Therefore I beg you to take some food, for this is for your safety; for not a hair [thrix]

Lk 21:18; cf. Mt 10:30.

will perish from any of your heads." 35When he had said this, and had taken bread, he gave thanks [eucharisteō] to God in the presence of all, and he broke it, and began to eat. 36Then they all cheered up [euthymoi], and they also took food. 37In all, we were two hundred seventy-six [diakosiai ebdomēkontaex]

This number was made up of soldiers and prisoners, together with perhaps merchants and crew. Paul would have been the most travelled on board, having made eleven voyages on the Meditterranean before he set sail for Rome. Altogether he had travelled at least 3,500 miles by sea.

souls [psychai] on the ship. 38When they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, throwing out the wheat into the sea. 39When it was day, they didn't recognize the land, but they noticed a certain bay with a beach, and they decided to try to drive the ship onto it. 40Casting off the anchors, they left them in the sea, at the same time untying the rudder ropes. Hoisting up the foresail to the wind, they made for the beach. 41But coming to a place where two seas met, they ran the vessel aground. The bow struck and remained immovable, but the stern began to break up by the violence of the waves. 42The soldiers' [stratiōtōn] counsel was to kill the prisoners, so that none of them would swim out and escape. 43But the centurion, desiring to save Paul, stopped them from their purpose, and commanded that those who could swim should throw themselves overboard first to go toward the land; 44and the rest should follow, some on planks, and some on other things from the ship. So it happened that they all escaped safely to the land.

28 1When we had escaped, then they learned that the island was called Malta [Melitē]. 2The natives [barbaroi]

The Greeks used the word for all foreigners who spoke their own native language instead of Greek. They were hospitable islanders, not uncouth savages.

showed us uncommon kindness [philanthrōpian]; for they kindled a fire, and received us all, because of the present rain, and because of the cold. 3But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand. 4When the natives [barbaroi] saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said one to another, "No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped from the sea, yet Justice [Dikē]

The goddess 'Dike' was the personification of justice and revenge.

has not allowed to live." 5However he shook off the creature into the fire, and wasn't harmed. 6But they expected that he would have swollen or fallen down dead suddenly, but when they watched for a long time and saw nothing bad [atopon] happen to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god. 7Now in the neighbourhood of that place were lands belonging to the chief man [prōtō]

Perhaps chief official, magistrate or governor.

of the island, named Publius [Popliō], who received us, and courteously entertained us for three days. 8It happened that the father of Publius lay sick of fever and dysentery. Paul entered in to him, prayed, and laying his hands on him, healed [therapeuō]

A word used for medical treatment.

him. 9Then when this was done, the rest also who had diseases in the island came, and were cured. 10They also honoured us with many honors, and when we sailed, they put on board the things that we needed. 11After three months [mēnas]

Perhaps from mid-November to mid-February. By then navigation would be beginning again, and they were ready to board their third ship which had itself wintered in one of Malta's safe harbours.

, we set sail in a ship of Alexandria [Alexandrinō] which had wintered in the island, whose sign was "The Twin Brothers [Dioskourois]

In Graeco-Roman mythology these were the sons of Jupiter (Zeus), the gods of navigation and patrons of seafarers. NIV: 'the twin gods Castor and Pollux'.

." 12Touching at Syracuse [Syrakousas], we stayed there three days. 13From there we circled around and arrived at Rhegium [Rhēgion]. After one day, a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli [Potiolous]

The distance to Puteoli on the Gulf of Naples was approximately two hundred miles. There Julius may have awaited final instructions regarding his prisoners.

, 14where we found brothers [adelphous], and were entreated to stay with them for seven days. So we came to Rome [Rōmēn]

The largest and most splendid of ancient cities acted like a magnet to its peoples. Rome was the capital and symbol of the Roman Empire. Rome presided magisterially over the whole known world. To a Roman the city was the centre of the world; from the golden milestone in the Forum at Rome roads went out in all directions to all parts of the Empire. It treated its conquered subjects and the religions with comparatively humane tolerance; it somehow managed to integrate Romans, Greeks, Jews and 'Barbarians' into its social life; it protected the Greek culture and language; it inculcated respect for the rule of law; it gained a reputation for efficient administration and postal communication; and it facilitated travel by its ambitious system of roads and ports, policed by its legions and its navy, so preserving the long-standing 'Pax Romana'. The buildings of Rome were famous - the three circuses and their daring chariot-races, the palaces of the Caesars, the tombs of the illustrious dead, the temples (especially the Pantheon erected by Augustus), the basilicas, theatres, baths and aqueducts, and particularly the bustling forum, the hub of the city's commercial, social, political and religious life. Seneca had called it 'a cesspool of iniquity' and Juvenal 'a filthy sewer' (cf. Ro 1:21f; Rev 13:1f; 17:1f; although Nero at the time of Paul's visit had not yet exposed his ugly cruelty). The heart of Rome stretched from the Capitol, hill of the gods, to the Palatine, hill of power. The Forum, along with the Circus, was one of two open spaces within the city walls where Rome's citizens could mix freely. In recent years it had begun to grow pompous, cleared of market traders and lined with luxury shops, yet still, more than anywhere else in the city, it symbolized the unity of the Roman people. This had been the case since ancient times. Originally a marsh, it had been drained to provide a meeting place for the warring inhabitants of the neighbouring hills. As such, it was where the Romans had first learned to conduct their affairs as citizens. Like the city itself, the Forum was a jumble of discordant monuments, both a museum of the Republic's history and the hub of the city's life. Lawyers pleaded their cases, bankers negotiated loans, Vestal Virgins tended their goddess's flame, and everyone came to chat or be seen. It was politics, however, that dominated the Forum. The crowds would have been used to assembling at the foot of the Capitol. Here was the Comitium, where citizens gathered to hear orators address them from the Rostra, the curved speaker's platform made from the prows of long-ago captured ships. Immediately adjacent to it was the Curia, where the Senate met, and a little to its south the temple of Castor and Pollux, in front of which the tribunes would summon assemblies to debate and vote on laws. Along this axis of buildings and open spaces lay the great theatre of the Republic's political life, Rome's most potent expression of her citizen's liberties and values.

The Romans were fearful of outside influences. To the Romans, the prospect of being swamped by barbarous cultures had always been a fertile source of paranoia. The ruling classes, in particular, mistrusted foreign influences because they dreaded the enfeebling of the Republic. The world's mistress, yes, but a world city (cosmopolis), no: this was the Senate's manifesto for Rome. Xenophobia had always been a Roman's right and privilege. Those most proud of the liberties of the Republic proved the worst snobs. The rest of the world was populated by barbarians. So it was that Jews and Babylonian astrologers were endlessly being expelled from the city. So too Egyptian gods. And so Rome was changing, lapped by tides of immigration. New languages, new customs, new religions: these were the fruits of the Republic's own greatness. Not for nothing did all roads now lead to Rome.

. 15From there the brothers [adelphoi], when they heard of us, came to meet us as far as The Market of Appius [Appiou Phorou]

The Appian Way led straight north to Rome and was the oldest, straightest and most perfectly made of all the Roman roads. The Forum of Appius was a market town ten miles from Rome.

and The Three Taverns [Triōn Tabernōn]

More than thirty miles from Rome. Being Roman place names these rendezvous would be spelled 'Tres Tabernae' and 'Appii Forum'.

. When Paul saw them, he thanked God, and took courage. 16When we entered into Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard [stratopedarchē]

Military commander or commandant of a camp. It used to be thought that this was the Prefect of the Pretorian (imperial) Guard, who had responsibility for provincial prisoners and was at that time Afranius Burrus. But it could also have been the officer known as 'princeps castrorum', the head administrator of the 'officium' of the Pretorian Guard.

, but Paul was allowed to stay by himself with the soldier [stratiōtē]

Giving him 'custodia militaris'. Paul would have been chained by the wrist to his soldier.

who guarded him. 17It happened that after three days Paul called together those who were the leaders [prōtous] of the Jews. When they had come together, he said to them, "I, brothers [andres adelphoi], though I had done nothing against the people, or the customs [ethesi] of our fathers, still was delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans, 18who, when they had examined [anakrinō] me, desired to set me free, because there was no cause of death in me. 19But when the Jews spoke against [antilegō] it, I was constrained to appeal to Caesar, not that I had anything about which to accuse [katēgoreō] my nation [ethnous]. 20For this cause therefore I asked to see you and to speak with you. For because of the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain." 21They said to him, "We neither received letters [grammata] from Judea concerning you, nor did any of the brothers [adelphōn] come here and report or speak any evil of you. 22But we desire [axioō] to hear from you what you think [phroneis]. For, as concerning this sect, it is known to us that everywhere it is spoken against." 23When they had appointed him a day, many people came to him at his lodging. He explained [ektithēmi] to them, testifying [diamartyreō] about the Kingdom of God, and persuading [peithō] them concerning Jesus, both from the law of Moses and from the prophets, from morning until evening. 24Some believed [peithō] the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved [pisteuō]. 25When they didn't agree among themselves, they departed after Paul had spoken one word, "The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah, the prophet, to our fathers, 26saying, 'Go to this people, and say, in hearing, you will hear [akoē akouō], but will in no way understand. In seeing [blepō], you will see [blepō], but will in no way perceive [horaō]. 27For this people's heart has grown callous [pachynō]. Their ears are dull of hearing. Their eyes they have closed. Lest [mēpote] they should see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their heart, and would turn again, and I would heal [iaomai] them.' 28"Be it known therefore to you, that the salvation [sōtērion] of God is sent to the nations [ethnesin]. They will also listen." 29When he had said these words, the Jews departed, having a great dispute among themselves. 30Paul stayed two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who were coming to him, 31preaching [kēryssō] the Kingdom [basileian] of God, and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness [meta pasēs parrēsias]

'With all boldness'. Cf. 4:13, 31; Eph 6:19-20. Parresia denotes speech which is candid (with no concealment of truth), clear (with no obscurity of expression) and confident (with no fear of consequences). The word originally denoted the democratic freedom of speech enjoyed by Greek citizens. It then came to mean outspokenness, frankness, plainness of speech, that conceals nothing and passes over nothing, together with courage, confidence, boldness, fearlessness, especially in the presence of high ranking persons.

, without hindrance [akōlytōs]

There was no ban by the authorities on Paul's speaking (cf. 2 Tim 2:9). Many were converted, including Onesimus (Phm 10). Paul's prison letters (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians) were composed during this time and they breathe an atmosphere of joy, serenity, and patient endurance with contentment.

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