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7. There will be honest differences of opinion on many questions in the church and in society. There should be free discussion, kindly feelings, an honest desire to see the truth, a willingness that others should differ from us, and an effort to conciliate.
8., Ver. 23, etc. It is well to accommodate ourselves to others' prejudices, if by so doing we can promote peace without the sacrifice of principle. – Rev. Com.
g. “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.”
10. Men may yield for the sake of the church, and for peace, what they would not yield to save themselves.
II. The plan of policy, even though right, was a partial failure, but it proved their desire for peace.
12. “It is safe to argue that evil-doing will bring evil consequences, but it is not safe to argue that evil consequences are always a proof of evil-doing.”
13. We should not injure Paul by harsh judgments and the imputation of bad motives or of weakness, simply because the trouble prophesied weeks beforehand came upon him.
SUGGESTIONS TO TEACHERS.
The Diary. Have the scholars go over the diary of Paul for these few days. Call attention to the SUBJECT, -- THE RETURN OF THE MISSIONARY. Paul had been at Jerusalem several times before this. His most important visit there was eight years before this, at the great conference in reference to the Gentile converts (Acts 15) in A.D. 50. But he made a brief stop there at the close of the second missionary journey (Acts 18:21, 22).
I. NOTICE PAUL'S RECEPTION AT JERUSALEM (vers. 15-17). Such a man as Paul would be dearly loved, and great numbers would rejoice to see and greet him.
II. PAUL IMMEDIATELY REPORTS TO THE LEADERS OF THE CHURCH (vers. 18-20). It would be well for the scholars to bring together in the class the chief results of the last two great missionary journeys. His first journey he had heretofore reported to the church there (Acts 15:4). Notice how large-hearted these leaders were, rejoicing in the work of others who had been blessed of God. They were not narrow or selfish men.
Illustration. Cæsar's motto was “ Aut Cæsar aut nullus,” either Cæsar or nobody. He must be first. But true men want the work of God to prosper, no matter by whose hand it is done.
III. THEN ARISE SLANDERS AGAINST THE MISSIONARY (vers. 20-22). Show the basis of truth in these slanders, and yet how false they were. The worst and most dangerous of lies are those which have a mixture of truth.
Illustration. From the caricatures of great men, which must always have some resemblance or the ridiculous and monstrous fictions would have no point.
IV. THE SLANDERS ARE REFUTED (vers. 23-26). The plan advised. How it was intended to work. How it was consistent with Paul's teachings and practices. Its success or failure.
The PRACTICAL LESSONS should be given in their place under these headings.
LESSON VI. -- FEBRUARY 8.
PAUL ASSAILED. — ACTS 21:27-40. GOLDEN TEXT. - I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. — ACTS 21:13.
TIME. — Tuesday, May 23, A.D. 58. Five days after the last lesson.
PERSONS. — Paul, aged 56; Luke and Trophimus, his companions; Josephus the historian, aged 20.
RULERS. - Nero, emperor of Rome. Felix, governor of Judea, but now at Cesarea. Claudius Lycias, Roman commander at Jerusalem.
PRONUNCIATIONS. — Cili'cia (silis'yă); Clau'dius Lys išs (lish'čăs); Tär'sus; Troph'imus.
INTRODUCTION. Paul, having arrived at Jerusalem, found there a strong element of opposition to him on account of his teaching that the Gentiles need not adopt the Jewish law and ritual, and that even the Jews were not saved as Jews, but simply by such a faith in the Messiah as led to new hearts and holy lives. The Jews, who were zealous of their law everywhere, resented this teaching, and aroused an opposition to him as if he were an apostate Jew, and an enemy to the Jewish religion and race. In order to show that this opposition was founded on a slander, and that he was not opposed to the Jewish law for Jews, he joined with four men who were about to complete their Nazarite vow, and publicly in the temple practised the regular Jewish ceremonial. His example was the answer to the slander. It satisfied the Christian Jew's, not the unbelievers. It was during these ceremonies that the events of this lesson took place.
27. And when the seven days were almost ended, And when the seven days 22 I the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in were almost completed, the
Jews from Asia, when they saw the temple, stirred up all the people, and 2 laid hands him in the temple, stirred up on him,
all the multitude, and laid 1 Acts 24: 18. ? Acts 26:21.
EXPLANATORY. I. The Mob. — Vers. 27-30. 27. And when the seven days were almost ended. That is, the seven days of the purifcation announced to the priests (ver. 26), during which the closing ceremonies of the vow of the Nazarites, whom Paul had joined, were being performed. This purification required seven days (Num. 6:19). This (Tues., May 23) was the fifth day. -*P. The Jews. Not Christian Jews, but the unbelieving Jews, zealous of the law, who had come up to the feast. Which were of Asia. That is, proconsular Asia (the small province of Asia), of which Ephesus was the capital. Paul had spent three years there, and had met with great opposition from the Jews; he was therefore well known to the
RIES Asiatic Jews, and hated by them. They were amazed to see him whom they regarded as a bitter enemy to Judaism in the temple; and having seen
COURT OF THE GENTILES him formerly in company with uncircumcised Gentiles, they hastily drew the conclusion that he had polluted the temple. — Gloag. When they saw him in the temple. In the court
ROYAL PORCH :: of the women, where was the apartment appropriated to the Nazarites. The entrance to A. Stairways to the cloisters leading to Castle Antonia, on this court was by the Beautiful
one of which Paul addressed the people. Gate. — Lewin. Stirred up
B. Northern gates to the Court of Israel.
C. Southern gates. all the people. It was natural D. Gates into the Temple Area. that these Ephesian Jews who F. Fifteen steps. had opposed Paul for years, who G. Gate Beautiful. had just come from a long and intense controversy with him, and had seen the success of ni labors against them, should be the leaders in this attack upon their old opponent. And laid hands on him. Not a legal arrest, for they had no authority, but the beginving of the mob violence. — P. As it was, they seized him with all the tokens of his purification still upon him (comp. chap. 24: 18), about to offer sacrifices, and raised a cry which was sure to throw the whole city into an uproar. — Plumptre. Thus, if St. Paul's
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28. Crying out, Men of Israel, help : This is the hands on him, crying out, 28
Men of Israel, help: This is man, 'that teacheth all men every where against the
the man, that teacheth all men people, and the law, and this place : and further everywhere against the people,
and the law, and this place: brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted
and morcover he brought this holy place.
Greeks also into the temple,
and hath defiled this holy 29. (For they had seen before with him in the city place. For they had before 29 2 Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that
seen with him in the city Tro
phimus the Ephesian, whom Paul had brought into the temple.)
ihey supposed that Paul had
respect for the national religion soothed his believing countrymen, it only inflamed the fury of the adversaries of the Gospel. — Cook.
28. Men of Israel, help. That is, apprehend and destroy this man who pollutes our temple. What is wanting in right is made up in noise. — Henry. This is the man. They hold him and show him to the people, who would not otherwise know him, as would they who had lived in Ephesus with him.' That teacheth all men everywhere. A sweeping charge, yet showing how extensively the apostle's influence had been felt. — Riddle. Against the people. The Jews. And the law, and this place. What he had really taught, we saw in the last lesson. But to them it seemed against them and their law and temple. And further brought Greeks also into the temple. He had not done this, but only what is recorded in the next verse. The outer court or enclosure was called the Court of the Gentiles, and could be entered by them without profanation. Near the north-West corner of the Court of the Gentiles arose that series of enclosed terraces, communicating with one another by flights of steps, on the summit of which was the sanctuary. A balustrade of stone fenced off these more sacred enclosures. This was the middle wall of partition alluded to (Eph. 2:14). This was 4 feet high, with small obelisks at regular distances, bearing inscriptions in Greek and Latin that no Gentile might enter on pain of death. -Lewin. The first flight of steps led up to a platform called the Court of the Women, so named because no woman of Israel might penetrate beyond this enclosure. The Nazarite chambers led out of this terrace or court, which also, it is supposed, contained the treasury. It was here that St. Paul was believed to have introduced Trophimus. Above this terrace were the Court of Israel and the Court of the Priests. Here the sacrifices were offered. The temple itself, including the vestibule, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies, rose above all these raised terraces, and was approached by a flight of twelve steps from the Court of the Priests. — Schaff. And hath polluted this holy place. By bringing Greeks, i.e., uncircumcised Gentiles, into the Holy Place, i.e., beyond the middle wall of partition which divided the court that was open to strangers from that which none but Jews might enter (Jos., Ant. xv. II, $ 5). The recent excavations of the Palestine Exploration Society (Report for 1871, p. 132) have brought to light a slab with an inscription, discovered and deciphered by M. Clermont Ganneau, which illustrates the horror with which the Jews looked on such a profanation. Its contents show that it must have formed part of the low wall just mentioned :“NO MAN OF ALIEN RACE IS TO ENTER WITHIN THE BALUSTRADE AND FENCE THAT GOES ROUND THE TEMPLE. IF ANY ONE IS TAKEN IN THE ACT, LET HIM KNOW THAT HE HAS HIMSELF TO BLAME FOR THE PENALTY OF DEATH THAT FOLLOWS.” This, accordingly, was the punishment which the Jews of Asia were now seeking to bring on St. Paul and on his friends. - Plumotre
29. For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus, an Ephesian. Trophimus was one of the little band which accompanied Paul from Philippi in Macedonia to Jerusalem. Being an Ephesian, he would be well known by sight to many of the Jews from Asia. — Schaff. He had accompanied Paul to Jerusalem, probably with some charge in regard to the contribution for the poor at Jerusalem. -- Riddle. He was abiding with Paul at Mnason's house, and no doubt often walked in the city with Paul, and also in the outer court of the temple. Whom they supposed. Paul did not break their law or bring the man into the forbidden part of the temple. They only thought he did, judging from what they had seen, and from what they thought to be Paul's character and teaching. This is a most striking illustration of the manner in which accusations are often brought against others. They had seen him with Paul in the city; they inferred, therefore, that he had been with him in the temple. They did not even pretend that they had seen him in the temple, but the inference was enough to inflame the angry and excitable passions of the multitude. So in the accusations which men now often make of others. They see one 30. And I all the city was moved, and the people brought into the temple. And 30
all the city was moved, and ran together : and they took Paul, and drew him out the people ran together and of the temple : and forthwith the doors were shut. they laid hold on Paul, and
dragged him out of the temple: 31. And as they went about to kill him, tidings and straightway the doors
were shut. And as they were 31 came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jeru
or the Dand, that all Jerus seeking to kill him, tidings salem was in an uproar.
came up to the chief captain
of the band, that all Jerusa32. 2 Who immediately took soldiers and centuri lem was in confusion. And 32 ons, and ran down unto them : and when they saw the
forthwith he took soldiers and
centurions, and ran down chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of upon them; and they, when
they saw the chief captain and Paul.
the soldiers, left off beating 1 Acts 26:21. ? Acts 23: 27; 24:7.
thing, they inser another; they could testify to one thing, but they conclude that another thing will also be true, and that other thing they charge on them as the truth. If men would state facts as they are, no small part of the slanderous accusations against others would cease. If we attempt to say what a man has done, it should not be what we suppose he has done. If we attempt to state what he believes, it should not be what we suppose he believes. - Barnes.
30. And all the city was moved. Stirred, excited. Crowds were no doubt in the great Court of the Gentiles, and the news of the excitement would quickly spread over the city. The people ran together. Better, perhaps, there was a rush of the people. Paul would, in all likelihood, have been killed on the spot, but that the assailants were unwilling to pollute the temple with blood. — Kitto. And they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple. Read, with Rev, Ver., they laid hold on Paul, and dragged him, etc. Their design was probably to get him out of the temple precincts before they proceeded to further violence. It is clear that all the ceremonies of the apostle's vow were not yet accomplished, and had they not laid violent hands on him, he might have fled to the altar for safety. That such a murder as they contemplated was possible in Jerusalem at this period, we have evidence in the case of Stephen. – Cambridge Bible. They strained at gnats and swallowed camels, as they had done in the case of the Lord himself. - Williger. Forthwith the doors were shut. This was obviously the act of the Levite gate-keepers. The doors were those of the Gate Beautiful, between the Court of the Women and the Court of the Gentiles. They were of Corinthian brass, 60 feet high, and it took 20 men to shut them. - Lewin. The obvious reason why the doors were shut was, (1) to guard against the spaces of the temple being stained by the shedding of blood (De Wette, Meyer), and, (2) as it was already supposed that the inner court had been polluted by the entrance of a Gentile, to prevent its further pollution. - Lechler. (3) The holy places must be guarded against the rush of the excited mob.
II. - The Rescue. Vers. 31-36. 31. And as they went about to kill him. They were already beating him (ver. 32), and would have soon put an end to his life. Tidings came unto the chief captain. Greek chiliarch, or commander of a thousand men. The Latín title was tribune. The name of this tribune was Claudius Lysias (chap. 23: 26). Band, or, “cohort," a body of a thousand men. - Hackett. This was the number the castle of Antonia would accommodate. — Stock.
Claudius Lysias commanded the division of the Roman force which garrisoned Jerusalem, and was stationed in the fortress of Antonia, a castle built so as to overlook the temple and its courts. This castle (ver. 37) or tower of Antonia, where the Roman force which at that period watched the temple was lodged, was built by the Asmonean princes for a residence under the name of Baris. Herod the Great rebuilt it with considerable splendor, and named it “ Antonia " after the Triumvir Mark Antony. This fortress stood at the north-west corner of the temple area, and it communicated with the temple cloisters by means of two flights of steps. It stood on lower ground than the platform of the house, but it was raised to such a height that at least one of its four turrets commanded a view of what was going on in the courts within. The ordinary Roman garrison was probably increased at the times of the great Jewish festivals, such as Pentecost, as in these troubled and exciting periods, when the people were full of religious fanaticism, an outbreak among the pilgrims gathered together was not unusual. — Schaff.
32. Centurions. Captains of a company of a hundred men. The Roman guard was stationed on the roof of the western cloister ready for any emergency. - Lewin. Left beating of Paul. The mob probably knew that Roman law would do justice, and that if
33. Then the chief captain came near, and took him, Paul. Then the chief captain 33 I and commanded him to be bound with two chains ; I came near, and laid hold on
him, and commanded him to and demanded who he was, and what he had done. be bound with two chains; and
inquired who he was, and 34. And some cried one thing, some another,
what he had done. And soine 34 among the multitude : and when he could not know shouted one thing, some an.
other, among the crowd: and the certainty for the tumult, he commanded him to be when he could not know the carried into the castle.
certainty for the uproar, he
commanded him to be brought 35. And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, into the castle. And when he 35 that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of was chat he was borner of the
came upon the stairs, so it the people.
soldiers for the violence of the
crowd: for the multitude of 36 36. For the multitude of the people followed after, the people followed after, cry. crying, 2 Away with him.
ing out, Away with him.
And as Paul was about to 37 37. And as Paul was to be led into the castle, he be brought into the castle, he
saith unto the chief captain,
May I say something unto Who said, Canst thou speak Greek?
thee? And he said, Dost thou Ver. 11. Acts 20: 23. ? Luke 23:18. John 19:15. Acts 22: 22.
the apostle were found by the chief captain to have been wrongfully treated, they would be brought to an account. — Cambridge Bible. So it occurs, strangely enough, that the Roman (Gentile) power comes to the rescue of the great apostle of the Gentiles against the mad hostility of the chosen people. — Jacobus. Learn, (1) a heathen may often be the protector of a Christian; (2) the usefulness of a government, however severe. — Bib. Museum.
33. Then the chief captain came near. The “chief captain " assumed that Paul was a criminal, and guilty of some very grave crime against society. — Schaff. Bound with two chains. One from each of his arms to a soldier on each side of him (comp. chap. 12:0). This secured the prisoner, yet left him free to walk away with his guards when the detacument was marched oli. -- Riddle. The prophecy of Agabus was here fulfilled (chap. 21:11). The chains were at hand because, as Josephus states, every Roman soldier carried
ith him a chain and also a thong. -- Lewin. And demanded. Inquired of the bystandtrs who were watching this summary proceeding, half in disappointed rage at the loss of their victim, and half in satisfaction that they saw him at least in captivity. — C. and H. The English word demand had in early times the sense of “ ask," " inquire” (comp. Cymbeline, III. 6. 92). – Cambridge Bible.
34. And some cried one thing, some another. Nothing more confounds some men than to be forced to give a distinct reason for a course pursued in the heat of passion.
– Bib. Museum. Most of them probably, as in the riot at Ephesus (Acts 19:32), did not know what Paul had done or of what he was accused. He commanded him to be carried into the castle. Into that part of the fortress of Antonia used as the barracks of the imperial soluliery, where were no doubt strong guard-rooms set apart for the custody of prisoners. - Schaff.
35. And when he came upon the stairs. The stairs which led from the Court of the Gentiles to the top of one of the cloisters adjoining the castle of Antonia. That castle, being near the north-west corner of the temple area, was connected with the western and northern cloisters of the outer temple by two colonnades called the limbs or legs, one running from Antonia to the northern extremity of the western cloister of the temple, and the other running to about the middle of the northern cloister of the temple. Where the two colonnades abutted on Fort Antonia, stairs led from the castle to the roof of the cloisters, and of course stairs from the cloisters into the outer court of the temple. It was to one of these latter stairs that Paul was borne. — Lewin. So it was that he was borne of the soldiers. No sooner had he got on the stairs which led up to the top of the cloister, and so into the fortress, than the mob, afraid that they were going to be baulked of their vengeance, made another rush at him, with yells of "Kill him! kill him!” and Paul, unable in his fettered condition to steady himself, was carried off his legs, and hurried along in the arms of the surrounding soldiers. -- Farrar.
36. Away with him. The same cry which echoed before this same tower of Antonia against Paul's Lord (John 19:15).
III. Paul's Effort at Conciliation. – Vers. 37-40. 37. Was (or, was about) to be led into the castle; or," barracks," as in ver. 34. They had probably reached the