Page images
PDF
EPUB

VER. 5. But the Jews which believed not, moved against the Roman emperor. Grotius on this

verse remarks, that the Roman people, and after with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows

them the emperors, would not permit the name of the baser sort, and gathered a company, of king to be mentioned in any of the vanquished and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted provinces, except by their permission. Saying the house of Jason, and sought to bring them

that there is another king.- This was probably a

charge of mere malignity. They probably unout to the people.

derstood, that when the apostles spoke of Jesus f Rom. xvi. 21.

as a king, they did not do it as of a temporal

prince. But it was easy to pervert their words, Moved with envy.—That they made so many and to give plausibility to the accusation. The converts, and met with such success. Certain | same thing had occurred in regard to the Lord leud fellows of the baser sort.-— This is an unhappy Jesus himself. (Luke xxiii. 2.) translation. The word “lewd” is not in the origiual. The Greek is, “ And having taken certain VER. 8. And they troubled i the people and the wicked men of those who were about the forum," rulers of the city, when they heard these or market-place. The forum, or market-place,

things. was the place where the idle assembled, and where those were gathered together that wished

i Matt. ii. 3. John xi. 48. to be employed. (Matt. xx. 3.) Many of these would be of abandoned character,—the idle, the And they troubled the people. They excited the dissipated, and the worthless; and, therefore, people to commotion and alarm. The rulers just the materials for a mob. It does not appear feared the tumult that was excited, and the that they felt any particular interest in the sub- people feared the Romans, when they heard the ject; but they were, like other mobs, easily ex charge that there were rebels against the governcited, and urged on to any acts of violence. ment in their city. It does not appear that there The pretence on which the mob was excited was a disposition in the rulers or the people to was, that they had every where produced dis- persecute the apostles; but they were excited turbance, and that they violated the laws of the and alarmed by the representations of the Jews, Roman emperor. (Ver. 6, 7.) It may be ob- and by the mob that they had collected. served, however, that a mob usually regards very little the cause in which they are engaged. They may be roused either for or against religion, and

| VER. 9. And when they had taken security of become as full of zeal for the insulted honour of Jason, and of the other, they let them go. religion, as against it. The profane, the worthless, and the abandoned, thus often became vio | And when they had taken security of Jason.lently enraged for the honour of religion, and This is an expression taken from courts, and full of indignation and tumult against those who means that Jason and the other gave satisfaction are accused of violating public peace and order to the magistrates for the good conduct of Paul The house of Jason.- Where Paul and Silas were. and Silas, or became responsible for it. Whether (Ver. 7.) Jason appears to have been a relative it was by depositing a sum of money, and by of Paul, and for this reason it was probably that thus giving bail, is not quite clear. The sense he lodged with him. (Rom. xvi. 21.)

is, that they did it in accordance with the Roman

usages, and gave sufficient security for the good Ver. 6. And when they found them not, they conduct of Paul and Silas. Heuman supposes drew Jason and certain brethren unto the

that the pledge given was, that they should

leave the city. Michaelis thinks that they gave rulers of the city, crying, These s that have

a pledge that they would no more harbour them; turned the world upside down are come hither but that if they returned again to them, they also;

would deliver them to the magistrates. And of

the other. The other brethren, (ver. 6,) who had 9 Luke xxiii. 5. Chap. xvi. 20.

been drawn to the rulers of the city. These that have turned the world upside down.- | Ver. 10. And the brethren immediately sent That have excited commotion and disturbance in other places. The charge has been often

away · Paul and Silas by night unto Berea : brought against the gospel, that it has been the who coming thither went into the synagogue occasion of confusion and disorder.

of the Jews.

j Chap, ix. 25. Ver. 14. VER. 7. Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary 4 to the decrees of Cæsar, say

And the brethren immediately sent away Paul ing that there is another king, one Jesus.

and Silas.-Comp. chap. ix. 25. They did this

for their safety. Yet this was not done until h Luke xxiii. 2. John xix. 12.

the gospel had taken deep root in Thessalonica.

Having preached there, and laid the foundation Whom Jason hath received.- Has received into of a church; baving thus accomplished the purhis house, and entertained kindly. These all do pose for which they went there, they were precontrary to the decrees of Casar.–The charge pared to leave the city. To the church in this against them was that of sedition and rebellion city Paul afterwards addressed two epistles. Unto

Berea. - This was a city of Macedonia, near doctrines are of no value unless they accord with Mount Cithanes. There is a medal of Berea the Bible. Every preacher should expect his extant, remarkable for being inscribed, “ of the doctrines to be examined in this way, and to be second Macedonia.”

rejected if they are not in accordanee with the

| word of God. The church, in proportion to its VER. 11. These were more noble k than those in increase in purity and knowledge, will feel this

Thessalonica, in that they received the word more and more; and it is an indication of adwith all readiness of mind, and searched the

vance in piety, when men are increasingly dis

| posed to examine every thing by the Bible. Scriptures mdaily, whether those things were | How immensely important then is it, that the so.

| young should be trained up to diligent habits of k Psa. cxix. 99, 100. 1 James i. 21. Pet. ii. 2.

searching the word of God. And how momentm Isa, xxxiv. 16. Luke xvi. 29; xxiv. 44. John v. 39. ous is the duty of parents, and of sabbath school

teachers, to inculcate just views of the interpreThese were more noble. Eůyevé OTE001.-- This tation of the Bible, and to form the habits of the literally means more noble by birth ; descended rising generation, so that they shall be disposed from more illustrious ancestors. But here the and enabled to examine every doctrine by the word is used to denote a quality of mind and sacred oracles. The purity of the church deheart ; they were more generous, liberal, and pends on the extension of the spirit of the noble, in their feelings ; more disposed to inquire noble-minded Bereans; and that spirit is to be candidly into the truth of the doctrines advanced extended mainly by the instrumentality of sabby Paul and Silas. It is always proof of a noble, bath schools. liberal, and ingenuous disposition, to be willing to examine into the truth of any doctrine pre VER. 12. Therefore many of them believed ; also sented. The writer refers here particularly to the Jews. In that.Because.

of honourable women which were Greeks, and

They received the word, &c.— They listened attentively and respect

of men, not a few. fully to the gospel. They did not reject and spurn it, as unworthy of examination. This is

Therefore.- As the result of their examination. the first particular in which they were more

They found that the doctrines of Paul and Silas noble than those in Thessalonica. And searched

accorded with the Old Testament. This resalt the Scriptures.-- That is, the Old Testament.

will commonly follow when people search the Note, John v. 39. The apostles always affirmed

Scriptures. Much is gained when men can be that the doctrines which they maintained re- | induced to examine the Bible. We may comspecting the Messiah, were in accordance with monly take it for granted that such an examinathe Jewish Scriptures. The Bereans made dili- tion will result in their conviction of the truth. gent and earnest inquiry in respect to this, and

The most prominent and invariable cause of inwere willing to ascertain the truth. Daily.

fidelity, is found in the fact that men will not Not only on the sabbath, and in the synagogue ;

investigate the Scriptures. Many infidels bave but they made it a daily employment. It is

confessed that they had never carefully read the evident from this, that they had the Scriptures;

New Testament. Thomas Paine confessed that and this is one proof that Jewish families would, I

| he wrote the first part of the “ Age of Reason" if possible, obtain the oracles of God. Whether

without having a Bible at hand; and without its these things were so.— Whether the doctrines

being possible to procure one where he then was, stated by Paul and Silas, were in accordance

(in Paris.) “I had,” says he, “neither Bible nor with the Scriptures. The Old Testament they

Testament to refer to, though I was writing received as the standard of truth, and whatever

against both; nor could I procure any."- Age of could be shown to be in accordance with that,

| Reason, p. 65, ed. 1831. Also, p. 33. None have they received. On this verse we may remark,

| ever read the Scriptures with candour, and with (1.) That it is proof of true nobleness and libe

the true spirit of prayer, who have not been conrality of mind, to be willing to examine the / vinced of the truth of Christianity, and been proofs of the truth of religion. What the friends brought to submit their souls to its influence of Christianity have had most cause to lament and its consolations. The great thing which and regret is, that so many are unwilling to

Christians desire their fellow men to do, is canexamine its claims; that they spurn it as un

didly to search the Bible; and when this is done, worthy of serious thought, and condemn it

they confidently expect that they will be truly without hearing. (2.) The Scriptures should be

converted to God. Of honourable women.-Note, examined daily. If we wish to arrive at the

chap. xiii. 50. truth, they should be the object of constant study. That man has very little reason to expect

VER. 13. But when the Jews of Thessalonica that he will grow in knowledge and grace, who had knowledge that the word of God was does not peruse, with candour and with prayer, preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither a portion of the Bible every day. (3.) The constant searching of the Scriptures, is the best

also, and stirred up " the people. way to keep the mind from error. He who does

n Luke xii. 51. not do it daily, may expect to “be carried about with every wind of doctrine," and to have no Stirred up the people. The word used here settled opinions. The preaching of ministers (oaletelv) denotes properly to “agitate," or should be examined by the Scriptures. Their “excite," as the waves of the sea are agitated by

the wind. It is with great beauty used to denote a town at the head of a small state. It was the agitation and excitement of a popular tumult, seized by Omar, general of Mahomet the Great, from its resemblance to the troubled waves of the in 1455 ; was sacked by the Venetians in 1464; ocean. The figure is cften employed by the and was taken by the Turks again in 1688. In classic writers, and also occurs in the Scriptures. 1812, the population was 12,000; but it has since See Psa. Ixv. 7. Isa. xvii. 12, 13. Jer. xlvi. 7,8. been desolated by the sanguinary contests be

tween the Turks and the Greeks, and left almost VER. 14. And then immediately the brethren

| a mass of ruins. It is now free; and efforts are

making by Christians to restore it to its former sent away Paul, to go as it were to the sea :

elevation in learning and importance, and to imbut Silas and Timotheus abode there still.

part to it the blessings of the Christian religion.

Two American missionaries are labouring in the o Matt. x. 23.

place where Paul preached almost two thousand The brethren.– Those who were Christians.

years ago; and schools under their immediate

superintendence and care, are established by Sent away Paul.-In order to secure his safety.

American Christian missionaries, in the place A similar thing had been done in Thessalonica,

that was once regarded as “ the eye of Greece,” (Ver. 10.) The tumult was great; and there was

and the light of the civilized world. Do doubt, such was the hostility of the Jews, that

In the re

volutions of ages it has been ordered that men the life of Paul would be endangered, and they therefore resolved to secure his safety. As it

should bear tbe torch of learning to Athens from

a land unknown to its ancient philosophers, and vere. --Rather, “ even to the sea ;" for that is its signification. It does not imply that there was

convey the blessings of civilization to them by

that gospel which in the time of Paul they reany feint or sleight in the case, as if they intended

jected and despised. to deceive their pursuers. They took him to the

And receiving a command

ment.---They who accompanied Paul received his sea-coast, not far from Berea, and from that place

commands to Silas and Timothy. With all speed. he probably went by sea to Athens.

-As soon as possible. Perhaps Paul expected VER. 15. And they that conducted Paul brought

much labour and success in Athens, and was

therefore desirous of securing their aid with him him unto Athens : and receiving a command in his work. ment unto Silas and Timotheus ® for to come to him with all speed, they departed.

VER. 16. Now while Paul waited for them at

Athens, ? his spirit was stirred in him, when p Chap. xviii. 5.

he saw the city' wholly given to idolatry. Unto Athens.- This was the first visit of Paul q Psa. cxix. 136. 2 Pet. ii. 8. ror, full of idols. to this celebrated city; and perhaps the first visit of a Christian minister. His success in this city, Now while Paul waited.How long he was for some cause, was not great. But his preach- there is not intimated; but doubtless some time ing was attended with the conversion of some in- would elapse before they could arrive. In the dividuals. See ver. 34. Athens was the most mean time, Paul had ample opportunity to ob

celebrated city of Greece, and was distinguished serve the state of the city. His spirit was stirred i for the military talents, learning, eloquence, and within him.- His inind was greatly excited. The !! politeness of its inhabitants. It was founded by word used here (Tapučúvero) denotes any ex1. Cecrops and an Egyptian colony, about 1556 citement, agitation, or paroxysm of mind. (i Cor.

years before the Christian era. It was called xiii. 5.) It here means that the mind of Paul * Athens” in honour of Minerva, who was chiefly , was greatly concerned, or agitated, doubtless,

worshipped there, and to whom the city was de- with pity and distress, at their folly and danger. 'dicated. The city, at first, was built on a rock | The city wholly given to idolatry.-Greek, kateiir in the midst of a spacious plain; but in process owlov. It is well translated in the margin, “ or,

of time the whole plain was covered with build- | full of idols.” The word is not elsewhere used "ings, which were called the lower city. No city in the New Testament. That this was the con

of Greece, or of the ancient world, was so much dition of the city is abundantly testified by prodistinguished for philosophy, learning, and the fane writers. Thus Pausanias (in Attic. i. 24,) arts. The most celebrated warriors, poets, states says, “the Athenians greatly surpassed others men, and philosophers, were either born or flou- in their zeal for religion.” Lucian (T. i. Prorished there. The most celebrated models of ar- | meth. p. 180, says of the city of Athens, “ On chitecture and statuary were there; and for ages every side there are altars, victims, temples, and it held its pre-eminence in civilization, arts, and festivals.” Livy (45. 27) says, that Athens “ was arms. The city still exists, though it has been full of the images of gods and men, adorned with often subject to the calamities of war, to a change every variety of material, and with all the skill of masters, and to the mouldering haud of time. of art.” And Petronius (Sat. xvii.) says huIt was twice burnt by the Persians; destroyed by morously of the city, that "it was easier to find Philip II. of Macedon; again by Sylla ; was a god than a man there.” See Kuinoel. In this plandered by Tiberius; desolated by the Goths verse we may see how a splendid, idolatrous city in the reign of Claudius; and the whole territory will strike a pious mind. Athens then had more ravaged and ruined by Alaric. From the reign that was splendid in architecture, more that was of Justinian to the thirteenth century, the city brilliant in science, and more that was beautiful ternained in obscurity, though it continued to be in the arts, than any other city of the world ;

perhaps more than all the rest of the world of their constant search and study. (1 Cor. i. united. Yet there is no account that the mind of 22.) Of the Epicureans.- This sect of philoso• ' Paul was filled with admiration; there is no re- phers were so named from Epicurus, who lived cord that he spent his time in examining the about 300 years before the Christian era. They works of art; there is no evidence that he forgot denied that the world was created by God, and i his high purpose in an idle and useless contein that the gods exercised any care or providence plation of temples and statuary. His was a over human affairs, and also the immortality of Christian mind; and he contemplated all this the soul. Against these positions of the sect, with a Christian heart. That heart was deeply Paul directed his main argument, in proving affected in view of the amazing guilt of a people that the world was created and governed by that were ignorant of the true God, and that had | God. One of the distinguishing doctrines of Epifilled their city with idols reared to the honour curus was, that pleasure was the summum boof imaginary divinities; and who, in the midst num, or chief good, and that virtue was to be of all this splendour and luxury, were going practised only as it contributed to pleasure. By down to the gates of death. So should every pleasure, however, Epicurus did not mean sen. pious man feel who treads the streets of a splen- sual and grovelling appetites, and degraded vices, did and guilty city. The Christian will not but rational pleasure, properly regulated and godespise the productions of art; but he will feel, verned. See Good's Book of Nature. But whatdeeply feel, for the unhappy condition of those ever his views were, it is certain that his follow who, amidst wealth and splendour and adorn-ers had embraced the doctrine that voluptuous. ing, are withholding their affections from the ness and the pleasures of sense were to be pracliving God, bestowing them on the works of tised without restraint. Both in principle and their own hands, or on objects degraded and practice, therefore, they devoted themselves 10 polluting; and who are going unredeemed to a life of gaiety and sensuality, and sought happieternal woe. Happy would it be if every Chris- ness only in indolence, effeminacy, and voluptatian traveller who visits cities of wealth and ousness. Confident in the belief that the world splendour, would, like Paul, be affected in view was not under the administration of a God of jus. , of their crimes and dangers; and happy if, like tice, they gave themselves up to the indulgence him, men could cease their unbounded admira of every passion; the infidels of their time, and tion of magnificence and splendour in temples the exact example of the gay and fashionable and palaces and statuary, to regard the condition multitudes of all times, that live without God. of mind, not perishable like marble ; and of the and that seek pleasure as their chief good. And soul, more magnificent even in its ruins than all 1 of the Stoics. - These were a sect of philosophers, the works of Phidias or Praxiteles.

so named from the Greek orod, “ stoa,” a porch,

or portico, because Zeno, the founder of the sect, VER. 17. Therefore disputed he in the syna- held his school and taught in a porch, in the city

gogue with the Jews, and with the devout of Athens. Zeno was born in the island of Cy. • persons, and in the market daily with them

prus, but the greater part of his life was spent at

Athens in teaching philosophy. After having that met with him.

taught publicly forty-eight years, he died at the s Chap. viii. 2.

age of ninety-six, two hundred and sixty-four

years before Christ. The doctrines of the secti Therefore disputed he.- Or reasoned. He en- were, that the universe was created by God; that gaged in an argument with them. With the de | all things were fixed by fate; that even God was vout persons.-Those worshipping God after the under the dominion of fatal necessity; that the manner of the Jews. They were Jewish prose fates were to be submitted to; that the passions lytes, who had renounced idolatry, but who had and affections were to be suppressed and renot been fully admitted to the privileges of the strained ; that happiness consisted in the insenJews. See Note, chap. X. 2. And in the market. sibility of the soul to pain; and that a man - In the forum. It was not only the place where should gain an absolute mastery over all the pasprovisions were sold, but was also a place of great sions and affections of his nature. They were public concourse. In this place the philosophers stern in their views of virtue, and, like the Poawere not unfrequently found engaged in public risees, prided themselves on their own rightediscussion.

ousness. They supposed that matter was eter

nal, and that God was either the animating prinVER. 18. Then certain philosophers' of the ciple or soul of the world, or that all things were Epicureans, and of the Stoics, encountered

a part of God.
a.

They fluctuated much in their

| views of a future state; some of them holding him. And some said, What will this " babbler that the soul would exist only until the destrucsay? Other some, He seemeth to be a setter tion of the universe; and others, that it would forth of strange gods : because he preached finally be absorbed into the divine essence, and unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.

become a part of God. It will be readily seen,

therefore, with what pertinency and address Paul 1 Col. ii. 8. u or, base fellow.

discoursed to them. The leading doctrines of

both sects were met by him. Encountered him. Then certain philosophers.-- Athens was distin- / - Contended with him; opposed themselves to guished, among all the cities of Greece and the him. And some said.-- This was said in scorn world, for the cultivation of a subtle and refined and contempt. He had excited attention; but philosophy. This was their boast, and the object they scorned the doctrines that should be deli

vered by an unknown foreigner from Judea. What will this babbler say?- Margin, “ base fel

| Ver. 19. And they took him, and brought him low.” Greek, Onepuolóyoc. The word occurs

unto · Areopagus, saying, May we know nowhere else in the New Testament. It pro what this new " doctrine, whereof thou speakperly means one who collects seeds, and was ap

est, is ? plied by the Greeks to the poor persons who collected the scattered grain in the fields after har

vor, Mars' hill. It was the highest court in Athens. vest, or to gleaners; and also to the poor, who

w John xiii. 34. 1 John ii. 7, 8. obtained a precarious subsistence around the · markets and in the streets. It was also applied And brought him unto Areopagus.—Margin, “or, to birds that picked up the scattered seeds of Mars' hill.” This was the place or court in which grain in the field, or in the markets. The word the Areopagites, the celebrated supreme judges came hence to have a twofold signification. (1.) of Athens, assembled. It was on a hill almost It denoted the poor, needy, and vile ; the refuse in the middle of the city ; but nothing now re. and off-scouring of society; and, (2.) From the mains by which we can determine the form or birds which were thus employed, and wbich were construction of the tribunal. The hill is almost troublesome by their continual unmusical sounds, entirely a mass of stone, and is not easily accesit came to denote those who were talkative, gar- | sible, its sides being steep and abrupt. On many ralous, and opinionated; those who collected the accounts this was the most celebrated tribunal in opinions of others, or scraps of knowledge, and the world. Its decisions were distinguished for retailed them fluently, without order or method.justice and correctness; nor was there any court It was a word, therefore, expressive of their con- in Greece in which so much confidence was tempt for an unknown foreigner who should pre- | placed. This court took cognizance of murders, tend to instruct the learned men and philosophers | impieties, and immoralities; they punished vices of Greece. Doddridge renders it, « retailer of of all kinds, including idleness; they rewarded scraps.” Syriac,“ collector of words." Other the virtuous; they were peculiarly attentive to some. ---Others. He seemeth to be a setter forth. blasphemies against the gods, and to the perHe announces or declares the existence of strange formance of the sacred mysteries of religion. It gods. The reason why they supposed this, was, was, therefore, with the greatest propriety that that he made the capital points of his preaching Paul was questioned before this tribunal, as beto be Jesus and the resurrection, which they mis ing' regarded as a setter forth of strange gods, took for the names of divinities. Of strange gods. and as being supposed to wish to introduce a new -Of foreign gods, or demons. They worshipped mode of worship. See Potter's Antiquities of many gods themselves, and as they believed that Greece, b. i. chap. 19; and Travels of Anacharevery country had its own peculiar divinities, sis, vol. i. 136, 185; ii. 292—295. May we know. they supposed that Paul had come to announce - We would know. This seems to have been a the existence of some such foreign, and to them respectful inquiry; and it does not appear that unknown, divinities. The word translated “ gods” | Paul was brought there for the sake of trial. (campoviwv) denotes properly the genii, or spirits, There are no accusations; no witnesses; none who were superior to men, but inferior to the of the forms of trial. They seem to have regods. It is, however, often employed to denote sorted thither because it was the place where the the gods themselves, and is evidently so used | subject of religion was usually discussed, and behere. The gods among the Greeks were such as | cause it was a place of confluence for the citizens were supposed to have that rank by nature. The and judges and wise men of Athens, and of fodemons were such as had been exalted to divi reigners. The design seems to have been, not nity from being heroes and distinguished men. to try him, but fairly to canvass the claims of his He preuched unto them Jesus.--He proclaimed doctrines. See ver. 21. It was just an instance him as the Messiah. The mistake which they of the inquisitive spirit of the people of Athens, made, by supposing that he was a foreign divi- willing to hear before they condemned, and to nity, was one which was perfectly natural for examine before they approved. minds degraded like theirs by idolatry. They had po idea or a pure God; they knew nothing of the doctrine of the Messiah ; and they naturally sup

VER. 20. For thou bringest certain * strange posed, therefore, that he of whom Paul spoke things to our ears : we would know therefore so much must be a god of some other nation, of what these things mean, a rank similar to their own divinities. And the resurrection.-The resurrection of Jesus, and

Hos. viii. 12. through him the resurrection of the dead. It is I evident, I think, that by the resurrection (T9v

Certain strange things.—Literally, something avaotao) they understood him to refer to the pertaining to a foreign country, or people. Here name of some goddess. Such was the interpreta

it means something unusual, remarkable, to which tion of Chrysostom. The Greeks had erected we are not accustomed. It was something difaltars to Share, and Famine, and Desire, (Paus.

| ferent from what they had been accustomed to hear 1. 17.) and it is probable that they supposed the from their philosophers and religious teachers. resurrection," or the Anastasis, to be the name

What these things mean.- We would understand also of some unknown goddess who presided over

| more clearly what is affirmed respecting Jesus the resurrection. Thus they regarded him as a

and the resurrection. setter forth of two foreign or strange gods-Jesus, and the Anastasis, or resurrection.

Ver. 21. (For all the Athenians, and strangers

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »