William Kelly Major Works Commentary - Acts 13:1 - 13:52

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William Kelly Major Works Commentary - Acts 13:1 - 13:52

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Acts Chapter 13

Peter, with the exception of his part in the council held in Jerusalem (Acts 15), disappears from the inspired history before us. Another figure comes not merely into prominence, but into centrality even from this, the first chapter of what may be justly regarded as the second volume of the Book of Acts. Not from Jerusalem but from Antioch (already so remarkable for Christian zeal impressing itself strikingly on those without, as well as for the first corporate stand made or mentioned among the Gentiles), we hear of a mission by the Holy Ghost.

'Now there were at Antioch in the assembly that was [there]1 prophets and teachers: Barnabas and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius the Cyrenean, and Manaen foster-brother of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. And as they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said Separate Me "Barnabas and 2Saul for the work to which I have called them. Then when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they let them go. They then, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, went down unto Seleucia and thence sailed away unto Cyprus, and when they were at Salamis, they announced the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews; and they had also John as attendant. And having gone through the whole3 island unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a Jewish false prophet, whose name [was] Bar-Jesus, who was with the pro-consul Sergius-Paulus, an intelligent man. He, having called to [him] Barnabas and Saul; desired to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name interpreted) opposed them, seeking to turn away the pro-consul from the faith. But Saul who also [is] Paul, filled with [the] Holy Spirit, 4with fixed look at him said, O full of all guile and all trickery, devil's son enemy of all righteousness wilt thou not cease perverting the Lord's right ways? And now behold [the] Lord's hand [is] upon thee; and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell upon him a mist and darkness, and he went about seeking persons to lead him by hand. Then the pro-consul seeing what was done believed, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord' (vers. 1-12).

1 ABD, more than six cursives, et al,, and almost all the ancient Versions do not read τινες 'some', or 'certain', as in the majority.

2 Text. Rec. has τε with slight authority, but τόν before Σαῦλον has large support.

3 ὃλην is authenticated by the best authority, though omitted in Text. Rec. with most MSS.

4 Text Rec. in ver 9 follows many in giving the copulative.

None can deny a plurality of gifted men, five of high rank in full service of Christ, and this expressly in 'the church that was at Antioch.' 'Churches' in the same place, each with its own minister, we see here as everywhere ignored. It is not meant that the faithful may not have met to break bread regularly in many houses here or there, as we know they did in Jerusalem; but none the less did they in that city as in every other constitute 'the assembly' there. Unity prevailed, which only the Holy Spirit could form or maintain; not unity invisible or for heaven merely and admitting of actual diversity or even antagonism, but rather living and manifest unity on earth: which as yet the gifts, and the elders where they existed, subserved, instead of being the instruments of expressing their independency.

It is also to be observed that these five prophets and teachers are named neither in worldly style nor in ecclesiastical rank; otherwise Barnabas had not been first, still less had Saul been last. They seem rather arranged in the order of spiritual birth - at any rate so far as they were known to the saints in Antioch. He who was Herod the tetrarch's foster-brother is neither first nor last. But the gracious power of the Lord according to His word in Mat_20:16 was soon to make first in the testimony of His truth him who here occupies the last place.

'Whilst they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, Separate Me [now] Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.' The ministering to the Lord here must not be confounded with His service in preaching or teaching; it was no doubt mainly prayer and intercession. That the Lord's supper was concerned is a crude and unfounded idea; for this supposes the fellowship of saints in the remembrance of Christ, and in its principle contemplates all saints, whereas the 'ministering' here was simply on the part of the fellow-labourers, it may be presumed, that the Lord might be pleased to direct and bless the work, and that each of them might be a vessel unto honour, sanctified and meet for the Master's use, prepared unto every good work. This is confirmed by the fasting which accompanied their spiritual action toward the Lord, expressive as it of course is of the outward nature abased that the inner might be the more undividedly before Him, rather than of the chief public occasion of the church's thanksgiving and united praise.

It is probable that the Holy Spirit may have used one or more of the prophets to convey the mind of God as to the work to which He had summoned Barnabas and Saul. So it appears to have been in Timothy's case (1Ti_1:18; 1Ti_4:14), though we see direct action in that of Philip (Act_8:29). Here, whatever the channel, the word was not to the church, as Alford assumes, but to the fellow-labourers as a whole to separate those two for the special work before them. The language is very expressive of the Spirit's personal interest and authority as One here below immediately concerned in the highest and most intimate degree. It is the Spirit Who says, 'I have called them.' Neither Barnabas nor Saul was now called for the first time authoritatively to the service of Christ; for, even the younger of the two had laboured notoriously and efficiently for years, both in the gospel and in the church. Ordination by brethren of a rank inferior to themselves would be the result gained by men who are precipitately anxious to extract that rite from the passage. If there was any such thing in the case, the proceedings would be irreconcilable with all its acknowledged principles, and for episcopacy in particular. But the 'separation' here described is of a wholly distinct nature and with a different purpose, as the intelligent reader cannot but see if unbiased. Certain it is that Gal_1:1 repudiates, with marked precision, what many ancients and moderns have erroneously founded on the interesting and instructive circumstance before us. Paul declares that he was apostle (not of men as source, nor by man as channel, but) by Jesus Christ and God the Father Who raised Him from the dead. It would have admirably suited his judaizing detractors to have argued that he owed his ministerial title to the three teachers at Antioch who laid their hands on him and Barnabas; but bold as his old adversaries were at Corinth or in Galatia or elsewhere, we are not told that they dared to go so far in their insinuations. Clearly his own statement precludes summarily and for ever all effort thus to lower his apostleship or, what comes to much the same result, to exalt ordination at the expense of the apostle Paul in this place or any other.

The third verse confirms the remarks made on the early words of verse 2, for here we have again fasting with prayer. But though an initiatory ceremony assuming to convey holy orders is not here intended, yet do we see a holy and solemn tone sustained in striking contrast with that which prevails in some modern forms mistakenly built on it. The 'charge' and the 'dinner' suit well those for whom fasting and prayer offer no attractions. 'Ember days' may be formal enough, but at least resemble more and might be morally better. The Lord was the one object then, and the Holy Spirit wrought in power, and a service of self-abnegation to God's glory was the blessed fruit. The outward acts flowed from the life within. So with the laying on of hands. It was a general sign of identification, or of blessing given. In the case before us their fellow-labourers solemnly commended the honoured pair to the grace of God with this seal of their own fellowship in the work.

'They sent them forth' is here objectionable; because it might be, as it has been, interpreted to mean the mission to which they had authorized Barnabas and Saul. But the word chosen excludes such a thought and simply means 'let them go' without a shadow of commission in it. The idea of mission is conveyed forcibly in the beginning of verse 5: 'They then, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, went down unto Seleucia and thence sailed away unto Cyprus, and, when they were at Salamis they announced the word in the synagogues of the Jews; and they had also John as attendant. And having gone through the whole island unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a Jewish false prophet, whose name [was] Bar-Jesus, who was with the pro-consul Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man.'

Thus we see Saul, not only called by the glorified Christ from heaven, but now sent out with his elder companion by the Spirit from the city remarkable for being the first directly named assembly among the nations. Here took place the apostle's 'separation' (comp. Rom_1:1) unto gospel work, though not his only. All was outside Jerusalem and the twelve. His call was heavenly, his mission toward the Gentiles and from the bosom of the first Gentile assembly; but the energy and direction were of the Holy Spirit, though his fellow-servants testified their communion with' the two in their work. John Mark waited on them in person, and no doubt helped on the work in his measure. To call him chaplain or deacon would be ridiculous, if such perversion could admit of such a feeling. It is humbling that godly men should descend so low. Let modern practice rest on its true basis: scripture is no warrant for it.

We may notice the practice of the apostle which answered to the principle so familiar in his inspired words, 'to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.' When at Salamis they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. It was indeed the only place of a religious sort where any such liberty existed. And such also was God's order till Jerusalem was destroyed, or at least the Epistle to the Hebrews was written, when the 'no difference' which the gospel declares found a yet more manifest and final application. But till then the door was open, and those who possessed a Jewish title were free therein to read or expound the scriptures.

But it was at its capital, Nea Paphos (not exactly the spot so celebrated as the dissolute seat of Aphrodite's worship), that the gospel came into collision, not with Jewish prejudice only, but with this intensified and embittered by religious imposture and sorcery. 'And when they had gone through the whole island unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer (or magician), a Jewish false prophet, whose name [was] Bar-Jesus, who was with the proconsul Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. He having called to [him] Barnabas and Saul sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is interpreted his name) withstood them, seeking to turn aside the proconsul from the faith.' Salamis being on the east, as Paphos on the west, they had to cross the island as a whole; as the best copies say, though this is omitted in the common text. The interest of the Roman governor aroused the jealous opposition of the corrupt Jew who had had influence over a mind shocked with demoralizing idolatry but open to displays of power, not without some show of revelation. What could be more overwhelming to the Jewish impostor's influence than the grace and truth which came by Jesus Christ? But the pro-consul1 (not 'deputy' or legate, as in the Authorized Version) had a conscience in exercise and by grace an ear for the truth, which soon turned toward that which was of God, when the testimony reached his soul. Bar-Jesus (= son of Jesus, or Joshua) called himself 'Elymas', the wise man, or magician which was a title apparently akin to the Oriental 'Ulemah'. This wickedness drew out the solemn rebuke of Saul (henceforward called Paul)2 accompanied by a sentence from God which the Holy Ghost gave him not only to utter but to execute. The rareness of such judicial inflictions under the gospel makes their occurrence all the more impressive.

1 Wiclif and the Rhemish, guided by the Vulgate, say 'pro-consul'; Tyndale, Cranmer, and the Geneva Version give the vague 'ruler of the country'. It is of the more moment to be exact, as Cyprus under the Romans had been imperial and hence governed by a pro-praetor; but not long before it had been handed over by Augustus to the people, which involved government by a pro-consul, ἀνθύπατος instead of the former ἀντιστράτηλος

2 We need not speculate on the question whether the apostle had always two names, a Jewish one and a Gentile or Roman; or whether the latter may have been now given at this epoch, if not incident, when he entered publicly on his work among the Gentiles.

The apostle then, 'filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his eyes on him, and said, O full of all guile and all trickery (villainy or craft), devil's son, enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease perverting the Lord's right ways? And now, behold, [the] Lord's hand [is] upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell upon him a mist and darkness, and he went about seeking leaders-by-hand' (vers. 9-11).

Sergius Paulius was precisely in the state for such an intervention to affect him profoundly. And we too can mark the difference of God's dealing here, as compared with the Samaritan who offered a deeper affront if possible by the proposal to buy the power of conferring the Spirit on others. For he had been baptized, and is warned of his awful state, but exhorted to pray and repent. Bar-Jesus becomes the striking figure of the Jews, blinded themselves, in their effort to turn aside the blind Gentiles from the light of life. Yet it is not for ever, but 'for a season'; as God will give them in due time to look on Him Whom they once rejected unto death to their own loss and ruin meanwhile.

'Then the pro-consul when he saw what was done believed, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord' (ver. 12)

This is worthy of all consideration. It was not the wonder which struck him most, but the truth he was taught. The miracle arrested him, no doubt, as well it might; but how many like Simon Magus may have been amazed, beholding signs and great powers wrought! Faith grounded on such evidence is only natural, and has no divine root. The senses are struck, the reason is convinced, the mind receives the testimony, and the mouth confesses it. But there is no life apart from conscience exercised about one's own evil before God, and from Christ the object of the soul as the gift of God's love to a guilty sinner in pure grace. This was true of Sergius, not of Simon. The one was amazed at the miracle, the other at least as much or more at the teaching which brought God before his soul and himself into His presence. This only is effectual. It is eternal life

And this is just the difference between a true divine work in the soul and a mind convinced by evidence or earned along by tradition. The latter may be all well in itself, and be a reasonable homage to facts which cannot be got rid of fairly but which compel honest acknowledgment from all who bow to adequate proofs. Yet this may be and is where the soul has never met God in the conscience, where sin and even our own sins are not an unbearable burden, where the love is not trusted that gave His only-begotten Son and laid the burden on Him to suffer atoningly that the believer might have life, pardon, and peace. No displays of power, however wonderful, are so amazing in the eyes of faith as the grace of God in saving the lost through His own Son. This the governor was enabled to receive from God, and not a word more do we hear of the great man. The gospel gives to the greatest on earth; but it receives no glory from man. One Man only it proclaims 'exalted in the highest'. In Him we may and ought to boast, for He is the Lord; and His grace in saving us, yea, in making us one with Himself on high to God's glory, is the wonder of wonders.

Henceforward, save perhaps under the shadow of Jerusalem (Act_15:12; Act_15:25), Paul has the chief place, as is indeed conveyed by the well-known phrase, not so used elsewhere in the New Testament (Mar_4:10, Luk_22:49), but familiar in the best writings of Greece (Plato Crat. 440 C.; Xenophon Anab. vii. 4, 16; Thucydides v. 21; viii. 63), οἱ περὶ Παῦλον (lit., 'those around Paul'), Paul and his company.

'Now Paul and his company, having sailed from Paphos, came unto Perga of Pamphylia; and John departing from them returned unto Jerusalem. But they passing through from Perga came unto Antioch of Pisidia, and having gone into the synagogue on the sabbath-day, sat down. And after the reading of the law and the prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying Brethren (lit. Men-brethren), if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, speak' (vers. 13-15).

The defection of John here is remarked by the Holy Spirit. It was not a trifle in God's mind, and the difference it occasioned afterwards, when Barnabas would have joined him again with Paul, proved serious for servants so ardently and justly attached. John had not faith and courage for the work opening before them and returned to Jerusalem where were his mother and the associations so dear to the natural heart. But on the other hand we must not exaggerate with those who affirm that a stumble is fatal. It may be so in a horse; but one might suppose that Christian men better knew both their own probable experience and the teaching of scripture expressly in this very case. Grace turned past failure to future profit, and at a later day the great apostle was as earnest to commend his ministry as he could not but blame the failure when in progress.

We next see Paul and Barnabas at Antioch of Pisidia in the synagogue on the sabbath. It is remarkable what measure of liberty was enjoyed. After the reading of the law and the prophets, a message came to them from the synagogue-rulers to speak if they had any word of exhortation for the people. Can there be a more painful contrast with the habits of Christendom? Assuredly one might from scripture expect more liberty where grace rules than among those born and bred in the trammels of the law. Yet who ever hears of such an invitation nowadays? So completely has the church departed from the enjoyment of that holy liberty, which is characteristic of the Spirit of the Lord. In this case too the visitors were but strangers, unknown to any, it would seem, save as grave godly-looking Jews. Routine governs in modern times on solemn public occasions, were the strangers ever so well known by report for their gifts and labours and life.

It was Paul who rose to address the congregation. 'And Paul stood up and beckoning with the hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God,1 hear. The God of this people chose out our fathers and exalted the people in their sojourn in [the] land of Egypt and with a high arm brought them out of it, and for a time of about forty years bore them nurse-like in the desert, and when He had destroyed seven nations in [the] land of Canaan, He gave them their land for an inheritance, in about four hundred and fifty years. And after these things He gave judges until Samuel the prophet and then they asked for a king; and God gave them Saul, the son of Kish, a man of [the] tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. And having removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also bearing witness He said, I found David, son of Jesse, a man according to My heart, who shall do all My will. From his seed, according to promise, did God bring to Israel a Saviour, Jesus, when John had preached before [lit. before the face of] His entrance a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John was fulfilling his course, he said, What suppose ye that I am? I am not [He], but behold, there cometh One after me the sandal of Whose feet I am not worthy to loose' (vers. 16-25).

1 The place given to Gentile proselytes is here in the apostle's address distinctly marked for the first time.

It is all-important to observe the basis of fact on which the gospel hinges, no less than the hopes of Israel. It is not so in the religious systems of men. In India, for instance, all is but speculation and reasoning as in ancient heathenism, mere fable. So it is with the Buddhist and the Confucian systems. Nor is it different with Mohammedanism, as far as it puts forth any distinctive claim. Nowhere do men even pretend to a substratum of fact such as that on which repose both the Old and the New Testaments respectively. Shake the facts and their foundations are alike gone. If the facts abide irrefragable, the most momentous consequences ensue both to faith and to unbelief. And although there are weighty differences in the history of the Old Testament as compared with the one commanding figure of Christ in the New, there is nothing more marked and unstinting than the seal of truth which the New everywhere puts upon the certainty of the Old in all the wonders it records. This is the more striking because the New Testament has no enemies more determined and deadly than the Jews, to whose custody the ancient oracles were committed. The witnesses of the New Testament, on the contrary, maintain a uniform and unhesitating testimony to the absolute truth of the Old Testament; which they prove to have no adequate result, apart from the appearing and work of the Lord Jesus. And we may add that there is no sufficient key to the present abnormal state of the Jews, without taking into account the rejected and suffering but risen Messiah; on which rock they have made shipwreck through unbelief, however else they themselves essay to explain their actual ruin as a people.

Accordingly there come to view these solemn yet plain facts, which only prejudice can overlook or deny. On the one hand the real, living, priceless value not only of the New Testament but of the Old is found by sovereign goodness in the church of God. On the other hand, alas! the ancient people of God have ears but they hear not, eyes but they see not, and hearts which do not understand at all for the present; else conversion, healing, and glory would doubtless be theirs. For the light and the love of God, inseparable from Him Who sits at His right hand on high, are only enjoyed among those who were once dogs of the Gentiles, but are now, in pure mercy yet according to the righteousness of God in Christ, made free of the riches of His grace and the counsels of His glory in Christ the Lord.

First the dealings of God from His choice of the fathers are at once connected with the exodus of the people from Egypt, and His nurture of them in the wilderness till He gave them to inherit the land. It is the Pentateuch and Book of Joshua in miniature, centring in Israel beloved for the fathers' sake. The gospel confirms, instead of annulling, God's love to Israel, though it announces 'some better thing for us' as in Heb_11:40.

The reader will notice the beautiful expression of verse 18 weakened in the more favourite ancient MSS. BCcorr DHLP, et al., but happily preserved in ACpm. E, as well as in most of the ancient versions, as it seems truest to the Hebrew in Deu_1:31 which the apostle, beyond just doubt, had in view. Here Tregelles and Westcott and Hort1 part from most moderns as well as others of weight.

1 As usual, the note of the Cambridge Editors is ingenious, so much so as to overshoot the mark. But to bear in the sense of 'carry is not the same as 'to be patient with', and both Deuteronomy and the apostle are dwelling on God's favour to His people, rather than on their bad manners, as Chrysostom long ago remarked.

In verses 19, 20 there is a notable difference from the common words. It is not giving by lot which is the point, though in itself true, as (by the least and lowest possible testimony) in the received text, but causing them to inherit their land. But here there is a more united front among the editors of late; for, excepting Dean Alford, almost all accept ABC, et al., and the ancient versions save the Syrr. and Aeth. This connects the date of 'about 450 years' with the accomplishment of the promised inheritance (under law, which made nothing perfect). The common text makes it the duration of the judges.

But it appears to me that the dative of epoch suits the sense of the critical text as distinctly as it disagrees with the common one. Both before and after this phrase the accusative is given to express a term of continuance, here only the dative. Now if the idea intended were the supply of judges for 450 years, the accusative would here also be the natural construction. At any rate, it is a date within which a certain action occurred, and not duration as in the other cases. If the oldest vouchers be accepted, it was in about 450 years that Israel was made to inherit this land, after the promise to 'our-fathers', i.e., from the birth of Isaac as the starting-point. Indeed so Junius and others take the common reading, not as the space for which judges were given but in which God had fulfilled His promise at least provisionally, till judges were given in the low estate of His people. It cannot therefore be assumed that Paul assigns a duration of 450 years to the judges, and so invalidates the date (in 1Ki_6:1) of 480 years from the Exodus to the founding of Solomon's temple. More than one period of considerable duration has been added to the space of the Judges which really fell within other assigned dates. But it suffices here to note that the extended space for judges drawn from the verses before us is illegitimate. Ussher (Works xii. 70; xiv. 340) firmly holds to the integrity of both the Hebrew and the Greek in both these scriptures, rejecting the bold conjectures of Luther and others as wholly needless and of course improper.

The apostle then rapidly sketches God's deep and constant interest in His people till a king was given, but stops with David, the known type of the Messiah as his own psalms abundantly testify. From him easy transition is made to his promised seed, whom, he declares, God 'brought'1 to Israel a Saviour, Jesus (ver. 23). Was not this like Him? Was it not assured in the law and the prophets as well as the psalms? Were the Jews not looking for Him? Did they not miserably need Him?

1 'Raised up', as in the Text. Rec. supported by CD and many other authorities, has a weight far below what I adopt, and was due probably to the language of the preceding verse.

Nor could it be said that God had failed to attest His long promised intervention by renewed testimony, the more impressive because the living voice of a prophet was unheard for more than four centuries after Malachi. And as all took John for a prophet, so did our Lord bear witness to him as more than a prophet, being Jehovah's messenger before Messiah's face to prepare the way before Him: Isaiah and Malachi had previously intimated it. So, before the face of His entering in, John preached a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel; nor was it moral only, in self-judgment before God, but saying unto them that they should believe on Him that should come after him, that is, on Jesus. It was avowedly a token of His manifestation to Israel (Joh_1:31). Of the Baptist's meaning which they quite mistook, ready as human nature is to exaggerate man and to depreciate God, no ground for doubt was left by the forerunner: 'And as John was fulfilling his course, he said, What suppose ye that I am? I am not [He]; but behold, there cometh One after me the sandal of Whose feet I am not worthy to loose;' Here again were new facts which could not be disputed. John is spoken of as a known witness, though none knew better than Paul that grace alone gives the truth efficaciously by delivering from the self-will which enables Satan to forge his chains of dark unbelief. But who knew better than he to press the value of a testimony which he too once had ignored like the rest, and would now commend as having proved its worth?

Next comes Paul's appeal, but an appeal grounded on fresh facts of the gravest and most affecting significance.

'Brethren [Men-brethren], sons of Abraham's race, and those among you that fear God, to us1 was the word of this salvation sent forth. For the dwellers in Jerusalem and their rulers, having ignored Him and the voices of the prophets that are read on every sabbath, fulfilled [them] by judging [Him]. And though they found no cause of death, they besought Pilate that He might be slain. And when they fulfilled all things written about Him, they took [Him] down from the tree and put [Him] into a tomb, but God raised Him from [the] dead, and He appeared for many days to those that came up with Him from Galilee unto Jerusalem, the which are now His witnesses unto the people' (vers. 26-31).

1 'Us' ABD et al. The mass support 'you'; but 'us' includes the witnesses benignly. The you' just before may have got repeated.

The sending forth to Israel of 'the word of this salvation' (for no less does the gospel carry) stands solemnly confronted by the stubborn ignorance of those who most boasted, the dwellers in Jerusalem and their rulers; who had the voices of the prophets read sabbath by sabbath, yet fulfilled them in unbelief, knowing neither themselves nor Him Whom they presumed to judge, the Judge of Israel smitten on the cheek, the Judge of quick and dead hung on the tree, the meek and most holy bearer of all curse from God and man on the cross. Yes, they blindly fulfilled all things written by God concerning Him, law, psalms, and prophets centring in Him Whom most of all they ought to have known Whom least they knew; for their eye was not single, and their body full of darkness consummated in the death of their own Messiah extorted from the reluctant Pilate, blind indeed and not without warning and moral witness, the contrary of the false witnesses that destroyed each other, but not so blind as they who said they saw, and so their sin remained and remains alas, to this day!

'But God raised Him from the dead.' Paul differs not from Peter in putting forward this foundation-truth of the gospel. What a fact proved by all conceivable evidence, that grace could, would, and did supply, of which such a thing admits suitably to God's character and glory as well as man's sin and folly! Nor is it only 'the great exception' to rebuke the vanity, pride, and will of unbelieving man; but what a spring and supply of peace, light, joy and blessing to all who believe!

Here, however, it is not the victory of righteousness, which God's grace secures and gives freely to faith, that is set forth and that the apostle loved to enlarge as to the saints, but the demonstration of the world's and especially of Israel's blindness, when they had unconsciously fulfilled all that was written concerning Him till they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. 'But God raised Him from the dead.' It was not only the object of promise come, but also, when all through unbelief seemed lost in His rejection and death, God's intervention in raising Him up from among the dead. To this answers nearly the beginning of the Epistle to the Romans, where the Lord Jesus is presented, first, as Son of David according to the flesh, then, as Son of God in power by resurrection of [the] dead according to the Spirit of holiness. Glad tidings in good sooth! glad tidings of a victory over all that sin could do up to death itself. The victory over evil is won in Satan's last stronghold by God's grace in Christ, that man may believe and be saved before He executes judgment on His persistently unbelieving adversaries. It is therefore no question of man's desert, for righteousness he has none before God, but unrighteousness much in every way. God's righteousness alone avails, God being righteous in His estimate of the efficacy of Christ, and above all of His death, on behalf of those who in themselves are wholly lost.

But here the apostle points out the gracious care and wisdom of God in giving the risen Christ to be 'seen', and this not once or twice only, but 'many days'. Now who could be valid witnesses of this stupendous fact? Comparative or absolute strangers to His person, or those most familiar with Him when alive? Unquestionably the latter; and to such accordingly He appeared when risen, to the slowest of all to believe Him alive again for evermore, in proportion to their deep grief and disappointment over His cross and grave. His enemies remembered His words that He was to rise in three days, and vainly sought to make all sure by sealing the stone that closed the sepulchre and by the watch, which only turned to their own confusion, when the guards trembled and became as dead men through fear of the angel after the Lord arose. But the very slowness of His friends to believe, inexcusable as it was, turned to account when He was seen 'of those that came up with Him from Galilee unto Jerusalem, such as are now1 His witnesses to the people'. The common text with more than one excellent MS. of antiquity omits the adverb, though it is really emphatic and important. They are at this moment, says the apostle, His witnesses to the Jews; and none the less does he insist on it because he was not one of them. Indeed with this class he contrasts himself and Barnabas; for grace provided another character of testimony if by any means the mouth of gainsayers might be stopped. Witnesses were raised up, who were wholly unacquainted with Him when here in the days of His flesh. Nay, Paul himself was bitterly hostile till He revealed Himself to and in His enemy, henceforth His devoted bondman, outside Damascus. What possible testimony other or more could be wisely given or desired? Alas! unbelief of God is as deadly in its nature and working, as in its source its aims, and its results.

1 'Now' is attested by AC, more than twenty cursives, and almost all the ancient versions. Hence even Tregelles goes with modern critics generally, and only Westcott and Hort bracket the word, presumably in deference to the Vatican.

From verse 32 comes the application of the facts as to the Messiah, already given in verses 23-31, especially His death on man's part, His resurrection on God's, not without ample witness of His appearing subsequently among those who knew Him best.

'And we (we, emphatic) declare to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, that God hath fulfilled this to us their children 1 having raised up Jesus, as also in the seconds psalm it is written, Thou art My Son: this day have I begotten Thee. But that He raised Him from [the] dead, no more to return unto corruption, He hath spoken thus, I will give you the faithful mercies of David; wherefore1 also in another [psalm] He saith, Thou wilt not suffer Thy holy (merciful) One to see corruption. For David, having in his own generation served the counsel of God, fell asleep, and was added to his fathers, and saw corruption. But He Whom God raised up saw no corruption. Be it known to you therefore [men-] brethren, that through this [Man] remission of sins is preached to you; and2 from all things from which ye could not in Moses' law be justified, in Him every one that believeth is justified' (vers. 32-39)

l 'To our children' is the strange reading of the most ancient authorities. So the 'first' psalm (D, et al.) ver. 33, but this may be due to Jewish arrangement combining Pss. i. and ii. in one; and 'because' for 'wherefore' in ver. 35

2 'And' is omitted by the most ancient authorities. Most of the late witnesses add 'the' to 'law of Moses'.

Here the apostle goes over the all-important points doctrinally. The coming of Christ was the accomplishment of the promise to the fathers their children had now the glad tidings of it in His person here below. The raising up of Jesus in verse 33 does not therefore go beyond the Child thus born, the Son thus given. And with this agrees Psa_2:7, which refers not to His resurrection from the dead, as many have supposed, but to His birth, as the words simply express it, so that a further or mystic meaning here is not only uncalled for but mistaken. He, the Messiah, born of woman, born under law, was the object, accomplisher, and heir of the promises. For, how many soever be the promises of God, in Him is the yea (2Co_1:20). So to the Romans (Rom_1:2-3) the apostle describes himself as separated unto God's gospel (which, he adds parenthetically, He had before promised through His prophets in holy scriptures) concerning His Son come of David's seed according to flesh, just as it is treated here in the first place. But then he goes on, 'marked out Son of God in power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection of the dead'; just as here too he proceeds to cite Isa_55:3 and Psa_16:10 as prophecies of Christ's proper resurrection.

Indeed it is surprising that any intelligent and careful reader ever understood the passage otherwise. For it is as certain as it is plain that, to God's raising up the Messiah according to promise and the prophecy of the second psalm, verse 34 appends as another and still more momentous truth that God raised Him up 'from the dead'. It is no mere reasoning on the verse before, no epexegetic explanation, but a further teaching of the highest value. Hence it is thus introduced, 'And' or 'But that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return unto corruption, He hath spoken thus . . .' Calvin accordingly is justified in his statement1 (Opera vi. Comm. in loco) that the word 'raised up' has a wider significance than where repeated just after. For it is meant that Christ was divinely ordained and as it were by God's hand brought forth into light that He might fulfil the office of Messiah, as scripture here and there also shows us kings and prophets raised up by the Lord. Act_3:22; Act_3:26, Act_7:37, are clear cases of this usage of 'raised up' in the same Book; so that the Authorized Version in the wake of Tyndale is not safely to be defended in going out of the way to insinuate resurrection into verse 33. 'Raised up' is correct; 'raised again', might have been said, if the text had certainly pointed, as it does not really at all, to the resurrection. But 'raised up again' is unjustifiable. In any case the compound can only yield either 'up' or 'again', not both; and here we have seen on good and cogent grounds that 'up' is right, 'again' inadmissible, because rising from the dead is not intended in verse 33.

1 'Hic suscitandi verbum, meo iudicio, latius pates quam ubi paulo post repetitur. Neque enim tantum dicit Christum resurrexisse a mortuis, sed divinitus ordinatum et quasi menu Dei productum in lucem, ut Messiae parses impleret; sicut passim docet Scriptura, excitari a Domino reges et prophetas.'

It would not have been necessary or advisable to spend argument on the question, if Dean Alford and Canon Cook, following Hammond, Meyer, and others, had not unwittingly played into the hands of enemies who ridicule this very misapprehension of Psa_2:7, for which not Paul but his expounders are responsible. It has also been noticed that the addition of 'now' in the English Version of verse 34 is not only needless but misleading, as it might imply a previous turn to corruption. Here too Tyndale misled all the public Protestant versions since his day, even to the Revised one.

Psa_2:7 is quoted then for Christ as Son of God in this world. It is neither His eternal Sonship, as some of the earlier Christian writers conceived, nor His resurrection, as the misapprehension of Act_13:33 was used to teach. His birth in time as Messiah is the point, 'Thou art My Son: this day have I begotten Thee.'

Psa_16:10 is cited (ver. 35) in proof not of His Sonship as man and Messiah here below, but of His resurrection, and therefore stands in close and logical connection with verse 34. Peter had already used this Psalm similarly in Act_2:24-32; and it is strange that any who believe the Christian revelation can allow a doubt that Christ's resurrection is the just and only meaning of the tenth verse of the psalm. I do not speak of their modesty in preferring their opinion to Saint Paul's, if they count it becoming to slight the apostle Peter. The question is, is there such a thing as inspiration in any true sense?

The application of Isa_55:3 in verse 34 is no less certain if we bow to apostolic authority, but not so easy, though, where seen, most instructive. But only the death and resurrection of the Messiah could make the covenant everlasting; only so could the promised holy or merciful blessings of David be made inviolable. Thus they are, as the LXX translate, τὰ ὅσια Δαυεὶδ τὰ πιστά Thus only could the soul even of the Jew live, or the door of grace open widely enough to take in a Gentile. Hence it will be seen that the chapter in Isaiah begins with the call of God to 'every one that thirsteth'. He Who was lifted up on the cross will draw all, not Jews only; and a risen Messiah, though He thereby gives the utmost sureness to Israel's promises, cannot be bounded in His grace any more than in His glory, but will certainly have all peoples, nations, and languages to serve Him with an everlasting dominion.

It is difficult in any rendering short of a paraphrase to mark for the English reader the close link between the 'Holy One' in Psa_16:10 and the 'mercies' in Isa_55:3. Verse 1 of Psalm 89 compared with verse 19 as in the Authorized Version may help: very far different is the Revised Version of the Psalm here which can only darken. But the reader should know that the true force in verse 19 is. 'Then speakest Thou in vision of Thy Merciful (or Holy) One', Who is the personal concentration of the sure mercies of which the Psalmist sings in verse 1. They are 'the mercies' of David no doubt, but, what is of all consequence, of Jehovah also; and so this psalm also everywhere speaks of David, and therefore confirms the truth in question. Christ beyond controversy is here in the mind and word of the Spirit of prophecy. Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel (in this case quite a distinct word and thought), speaks of Christ as His Holy or Gracious One. It is not the same truth which the same apostle asserts in Rom_1:4: Christ declared or determined Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by resurrection. The same power of the Spirit in which He ever walked superior to all evil was proved by resurrection. In Act_13:34 it is the holiness of grace and mercy manifested and operative in Him risen from the dead. After His baptism of suffering, known by Him as by none else, straitening was over, Jewish barriers righteously gone, the floods of grace could flow for ever and overflow.

The apostle of the uncircumcision, in verses 36, 37, reasons pretty much as he of the circumcision in Act_2:29-31; and both with unanswerable power. But one man, the Messiah, was, while tasting death, to see no corruption. David in his own generation served the counsel of God, but saw corruption: as did all his descendants, save that One of Whom he in the Spirit prophesied. Scripture cannot be broken. One man alone does and must fulfil the condition: Who was He but Jesus, the Christ? As a fact the witnesses attested His resurrection on the fullest evidence, apart from the predictions. All proofs centre in Him. God's glory and love are His infinitely; so are man's salvation, blessing, holiness, service in every true way and to the highest degree of which the creature is capable.

And thereon the apostle, though of course limited by the state of his audience, brings out the message characteristically beyond what Peter had done to hearers more informed than those of Pisidia. 'Be it known unto you therefore, brethren, that through this Man remission of sins is preached to you; and from all things from which ye could not in Moses' law be justified, in Him every one that believeth is justified' (vers. 38, 39). Was it not, is it not, grandly, yea divinely simple? What does a sinner supremely need? Forgiveness of sins. This the gospel proclaims: it is no question of a promise only. Remission of sins through Christ dead and risen is preached. It is a free gift of grace, as is eternal life in Christ: the two wants of a sinner are there alone found, and are by Him freely given. To all it is preached; there is no limit to the grace of Christ, any more than to the efficacy of His blood. Among those that hear the gospel it takes effect only upon all that believe. For faith glorifies the Saviour God, as it abases man the sinner; and repentance accompanies it, real if faith is, shallow or deep in like manner, or alas! as unreal as may be the faith. But faith owns God's grace in Christ, and so His righteousness revealed in the gospel. Of faith therefore is the blessing that it might be according to grace; and thus alone can either man be assured of it or God be glorified thereby.

But there is more than remission of sins, that most deeply needed, in itself inestimable but initiatory, boon of the gospel: 'And from all things, from which ye could not in Moses' law be justified, in Him every one that believeth is justified.' How boldly the apostle can speak! and this, not because his preaching or the style of it was any peculiarity of his position in the church, but in honour of the Saviour's victory over every hindrance and all evil. To speak timidly might be well, if it were simply a question of man addressing or of men addressed. But the preacher of the gospel is not only free but bound to forget himself by grace in his magnifying of Him Who died and rose, in order that divine mercy might triumph for the worst, and this without money and without price for the sinner: Christ has paid the penalty - paid it long long ago. Here Moses' law is wholly unavailing, whatever the pride, the unbelief, or the ignorance, of the Jew might think. There is no possibility of justification by that law, holy as it is, and the commandment holy and just and good. Law is all in vain to save. It can give neither life nor pardon, neither holiness nor power. It puts a restraint on, and so alike discovers and provokes, lust; it is the power of sin, and works out wrath, it is thus a ministration of condemnation and death. What possible deliverance can it bring to the needy and lost sinner? Negatively indeed the law is used by grace to break him down, to deepen his distrust of self even when converted, and to cast him wholly on Christ outside and on high, Who gives him to know that he died with Himself, that he might walk and serve under grace, as being alive to God

But the grace of God in the gospel justifies the believer 'from all things'. Indeed, if it were not so, how could the sinner's condition be met in a way worthy of God? If justification were partial, it might no less satisfy man, yea far more readily, than that free and full display of divine goodness in Christ which alone is the truth. Nothing is so excellent, so holy, so strengthening, so God-glorifying as the revelation of His grace in Christ, and this undiluted as well as unadulterated. But it seems extreme to some minds, lax to others, and dangerous to more. Consider Him in and by Whom the gospel came. He was wholly misunderstood and unintelligible to the 'wise and prudent'. As the mass believed not on Him, so many from among the rulers did not confess Him through fear; for they loved the glory of men rather than the glory of God. Even John the Baptist was more reasonably right in their eyes than his Master and Lord; as those that refused Him Who came in His Father's name will by-and-by receive him that comes in his own. Nothing is so condemnatory of fallen man, and especially when he glories in his character or in his religion, as grace; nothing so foreign and even repulsive to his mind and to his self-righteousness. For it levels all mankind, high and low, learned and ignorant, loose or moral, superstitious or profane, in one indiscriminate grave of sin and ruin Godward - of spiritual death, whole it proclaims to faith, and only to faith, a present, full, and everlasting redemption. This is offensive to man's thought and title who can soon find reasons to argue himself into unbelief and rejection of God's word, as if it were but the opinion of fallible and mistaken man, and thus makes manifest his unremoved heart-enmity to God.

The work of grace however goes on, as a dew from the Lord, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men. Conscience-stricken souls, hearts pining after God long slighted and sinned against, are won by the name of Jesus, and gladly receive that remission of sins which is preached to them, and adore as they take in the wonder of mercy in Jesus in Whom every one that believes is justified from all things, from none of which could he be justified in Moses' law or in any other way. Justification for a sinner is essentially a Pauline expression; being of faith, not of law, it was open to a Gentile as well as to a Jew. It was a word eminently suited to that great messenger of the gospel of God's grace. And here we have it tersely in the first discourse of his which Luke reports or at least summarizes. So deals God's righteousness which is now manifested apart from law: God just and justifying the believer as he is, the ungodly as he was (Rom_3:26; Rom_4:4). How truly divine! No wonder man as such misses the truth: Christ is the only key that opens all.

But the apostle does not conclude without a warning, appropriately drawn, for the Jews that listened with reluctant ears, from their own volume of inspiration. 'See therefore that what is spoken of in the prophets come not on you,1 Behold, ye despisers, and wonder and perish; for I work a work in your days, a work which ye will in no wise believe if one declare it to you' (vers. 40, 41). It is especially Hab_1:5 which is in substance cited, with perhaps Isa_29:14 and Pro_1:24-31 in view. Unbelief is the same evil scorn of God's word, whether of old or by-and-by, and never worse than now when grace beseeches men as they are to be reconciled to God. And whatever the work to be done in the future, none can ever match what God has wrought already, the basis on which the gospel is proclaimed to every creature. The coming execution of judgment by the Chaldeans was sufficient to arrest any soul that heeded the warning voice of the prophet Habakkuk; and a destruction was then about to fall on Jerusalem and the temple by the Romans, as the Lord had predicted (Luk_19:43-44; Luk_21:20; Luk_21:24). But what is either providential work of God or any other than can be gleaned from the harvest of judgment in the future when compared with that which in His rejection and atoning work befell our Lord Jesus?

1 BD, some cursives, and a few Latin MSS. reject ἐφ᾽ ὑμᾶς

And as the grace to sinners is immeasurable in the work which cost God and His Son all things in unsparing vengeance on sin - our sins, so is the wrath of God not yet executed, but revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and the unrighteousness of men that hold the truth in unrighteousness (Rom_1:18). If the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation? says the same apostle writing to the Hebrew confessors of Christ. Is there less sin, less danger, for those who in Christendom have grown up in the constant iteration of the same gospel, and are now exposed as men never were to the apostate infidelity of the day, which finds its life in nature and sets up physical law as the idol of its worship, if first along with Jesus soon to supersede Him, as none can serve two masters. It must be God, or the creature, not both, even if God were not, as He ought to be, a jealous God, as He is the true, and therefore necessarily intolerant of all spurious rivalry.

Such was the discourse with which the great apostle of the Gentiles opened his missionary labours in the Pisidian Antioch (only about fifty years ago identified as Yalobatch by an intelligent British traveller). The result was cheering. And as they were going out (for the service was over, not interrupted as some have singularly imagined), the hearers besought that they might have these words spoken to them the next sabbath, the great occasion for such a discourse. Later, when the gathering was broken up, many of the Jews and the proselytes, attracted and impressed beyond the rest, followed Paul and Barnabas (for henceforth, at least away from Palestine, Paul has the precedence); as they on their part spoke more freely to them than the synagogue could permit, and urged them to abide in the grace of God. Gentiles there were none as yet to hear, beyond the proselytes but the ensuing sabbath beheld them drawn by the report in crowds; and the effect was as marked on them for good, as on many Jews for evil, as we shall see.

Verse 42 has suffered not a little from both copyists and from commentators. The ordinarily received text instead of 'they' (aujtw'n), has, with some cursives, the interpolation ἐκ τῆς συναγῶγης τῶν Ἰουδαίων which may have been due to the public lessons of early days, though more common in the passages taken from the historical books than in selections from the Epistles. But this addition, though unauthorized, does not contradict (though it may alter) the sense, like τὰ ἔθνη 'the Gentiles', which is made the subject of the sentence, to the confusion of the passage as a whole, and without the least to commend it in itself. The verse is quite general. 'And as they were going out, they kept beseeching that these words might be spoken to them on the following sabbath. Now when the synagogue broke up, many of the Jews and of the worshipping proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who (οἴτινες speaking unto them persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. And on the next sabbath almost all the city was gathered together to hear the word of God'1 (vers. 42-44).

1 Many ancient authorities, as is well known, concur in reading 'the Lord' for God'.

Dr. J. Bennett conceives that the critical reading of verse 42 points to the sense that they (i.e., Paul and Barnabas) entreated that the same things should be spoken to them (again). But this is quite a mistake. The true reading leaves us open to the people's thus entreating the apostles; which appears to me much more simple and becoming as well as 'delightful'. Even Calvin, who understands the sense to be that Paul and Barnabas went out while the Jews were yet assembled, holds that they (the apostles) were then requested . . ., though he was misled by the misreading to think it was the Gentiles who made request. But what could have brought 'the Gentiles' to the synagogue on the first sabbath? It is easy to understand that they flocked there on the second, and doubtless this it was and yet more their heed, as well as the free grace proclaimed, which roused the envy of the unhappy Jews. But even this premature introduction of the Gentiles though unfounded does not yield so strange and repulsive a meaning as that Paul and Barnabas (!) entreated that their discourse should be spoken on the next sabbath. That souls struck by the truth might beseech that 'these things', blessed yet so startling, so momentous yet solemn, should be spoken to them again, is very intelligible, as it is the unforced sense of the true text.

Tyndale completely missed the point of time intended, for he took εἰς τὸ μεταξὺ σάββατον of the intervening week - 'bitwene the Saboth dayes'. But this was from oversight of the later usage of μεταξύ which signifies 'after', not 'between' only, as Kypke, Ott, and others have noticed with illustrations. Calvin was quite wrong therefore in censuring here the Vulgate and Erasmus who were right; and still more is Beza to be blamed, because he was a better scholar than the great theologian he followed, and he ought to have known how thoroughly Josephus, Plutarch, and Clem., Rom. 44 (twice), justify the text of the Authorized Version against the marginal alternative. Dr. J. Lightfoot plainly confirmed it from his vast Rabbinical learning.

As verse 42 lets us know the general interest in what had been announced which prompted the desire to hear all again, so verse 43 adds that, on the break up of the congregation, many of the Jews and of the worshipping or devout proselytes followed the preachers thereon, who not only spoke to them but urged them to abide in the grace of God, which the gospel declares and they professed to receive. What can one think of a man like Calvin doubting whether it was not these young converts who exhorted Paul and Barnabas that they should not faint but stand firmly in the grace of God! He does not however (as Dean Alford thought) incline so strongly to this interpretation as to decide for it against the common and only correct view, that the gracious speech and confirmatory exhortation came from the apostles to those on whose hearts God's grace had just dawned

Again, in the beginning of verse 44 stands the expression on the 'coming' sabbath, vouched by both the most ancient uncials of highest character and the mass of cursives, and so not only adopted by Erasmus, the Complutensian, Colinaeus, R. Stephens, the Elzevirs, but also by Tischendorf {eighth edition), Tregelles, and by Westcott and Hort. On the other hand at least two of the great uncials with several good cursives testify to the exactly technical word which differs by a letter less, for 'next following', 'ensuing'. Act_18:21 used to be cited for the former, till the critics omitted the clause; but there is no doubt that the rival reading is a standing usage of the inspired writer (Luk_13:33, Act_20:15; Act_21:26), as it is in the language generally. No wonder therefore that Alford, Bengel, Green Griesbach, Lachmann, Scholz, and Wordsworth accept it as right: an instructive instance, by no means uncommon, where a few copies are more accurate than the weight of both antiquity and number combined.

'But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy, and contradicted the things spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, For you it was necessary that the word of God should be first spoken; but since ye thrust it from you and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, lo, we turn unto the Gentiles. For thus hath the Lord enjoined us, I have set thee for a light of Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the uttermost parts of the earth' (vers. 45-47).

How base as well as evil and malignant is jealousy, religious jealousy above all as here! In general they had hailed the joyful sound when it first reached their ears, even though closed with a most serious warning; and 'many' had gone farther than the entreaty to have the truth spoken again. For many of the Jews, as well as of the devout proselytes, followed the apostles who exhorted them to abide as they had begun. But 'the crowds' were too much for religious prejudice which was hitherto dormant and awakened the most malignant feelings in antipathy and abuse. Such is flesh in presence of grace and truth, and at the sight of hearts attracted and consciences touched. Had the gospel been powerless, the Jews had retained their equanimity, where the long preaching of Moses had never so wrought, its immediate effect in winning such large attention was intolerable. But the hatred of grace, ruinous to those guilty of it, only enlarges the field of work, as it also liberates the messengers from an overcareful waiting on the men of tradition and its narrow channels. Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, instead of being shocked into silence by Jewish blasphemies, pointed out how faith denies not but defers to law in its own place, and, now that the ancient people of God were ignorantly spurning the best blessings of grace, announced this matchless road open to the needy and long despised Gentiles (ver. 46).

The application of Isa_49:6 in the following verse is as striking as richly instructive. The theme of the prophet is the Messiah rejected by Israel, Who has this consolation vouchsafed by God: His humiliation opens the door to wider glory. This the slighted servants of Christ appropriate to themselves. Infinite grace, under like circumstances, warrants the men of faith: what was said of Christ is no less true of the Christian. 'Thus hath the Lord enjoined us.' It is a principle of far-reaching application, which faith knows how to guard from irreverence, however much of direction, comfort, and strength may be reaped from it. The reader may see another instance no less bold in the use made of Isa_1:7-9 in Rom_8:33-34. The spirit of obedience, we may add, finds an injunction where no other eye could discern one.

Here first Gentiles as such come into prominence: others in this country who had heeded the apostles were proselytes from among them. Scripture was express as to the principle.

'And the Gentiles, on hearing, rejoiced and glorified the word of the Lord, and as many as were ordained unto life eternal believed. And the word of the Lord was carried abroad through the whole country. But the Jews excited the women of rank that worshipped, and the chiefs of the city, and stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and sent them out of their borders. But they shook off the dust of their feet against them and came to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and [the] Holy Spirit' (vers. 48-52).

The tide of blessing in God's grace was now turned to the Gentiles. Christ is a light for revealing them now, as He is the glory of God's people Israel. The nations had been long hidden as well as outside; they are now disclosed to view, the direct object not of law as Israel once, but of divine mercy in the gospel. The righteousness of God is unto all, though it takes effect only upon all that believe. So here they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord, and as many as were ordained unto life eternal believed.

The evil and the ruin are man's: all the good is of God's grace exclusively, and the believer enjoys it in His sovereign mercy. Thus the word of the Lord was carried abroad through all the country. And this roused a more systematic effort of opposition as usual on the part of the Jews, who urged on the devout women of position and the chief men of the city against the apostles with such a flood of persecution as to cast them out of their borders. As these ladies had been drawn into Judaism to their immense relief from the uncleanness as well as debasing follies of heathenism, one can understand how the sex would be peculiarly open to exciting influence against the testimony which left the law in the shade and they would know how to reach the first men of the city, as being of their own rank and in all probability nearly connected with themselves, so as to get the preachers expelled. But the apostles, bowing to the persecution, acted on the Lord's word not only in fleeing to another city, but in shaking off the dust of their feet against their persecutors; while joy in the Holy Spirit filled the disciples, left behind as sheep in the midst of wolves.