Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

38. Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these know Greek? Art thou not 33

then the Egyptian, which bedays madest an uproar, and leddest into the wilder-fore these days stirred up to

sedition and led out into the ness four thousand men that were murderers ?

wilderness the four thousand 39. But Paul said, " I am a man which am a Jew of men of the Assassins?. But 39

Paul said, I am a Jew, of TarTarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city : sus in Cilicia, a citizen of no and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the

mean city: and I beseech thee,

give me leave to speak unto people.

the people. And when he had 40

given him leave, Paul, stand40. And when he had given him license, Paul stood ing on the stairs, beckoned on the stairs, and 3 beckoned with the hand unto the

with the hand unto the peo

ple; and when there was made people. And when there was made a great silence, a great silence, he spake unto

them in the Hebrew language, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying,

saying,

[blocks in formation]

top of the stairs, but had not yet lest them (see ver. 40). The opportunity for addressing the chief captain would occur here, for he would naturally be standing at the top, waiting until the prisoner was in a secure place. — Riddle. Canst thou speak Greek? Literally, “ Dost thou know Greek?” This implies that Paul had addressed the chief captain in that language, which was a surprise, since the officer had held him to be a very different person; possibly of a lower class than those who were familiar with the language of the refined world. — Riddle.

38. Art not thou that Egyptian, etc. The “ Egyptian,” whom the chief captain took St. Paul to be, is mentioned by Josephus. A short time before this, probably at Pentecost two months before this (Lewin), he had gathered a large body of discontented Jews on Mount Olivet, whom he had deluded into the belief that he was the Messiah, declaring that the walls of Jerusalem would fall down at his word. Felix marched out against the insurg. ents and dispersed them, but the Egyptian escaped. Among his followers were 4000 of the Sicarii, a numerous band of brigands who, says Josephus, stabbed people in open day in the streets of Jerusalem; and the words of Lysias in ver. 38 are literally, “ those four thousand men of the Sicarii,” alluding to a well-known and recent event (see Jos., Ant. xx. 8, 6; Bell. Furt. ii. 13, 5). - Stock. The name Sicarii (assassins) was derived from sicn, a dagger or short sword these robbers wore beneath their clothing. This could be used in a crowd with fatal effect without being observed. These assassins may be compared to the Thugs of India, a secret society of murderers who spread terror throughout the country till they were suppressed by Lord Bentinck (1830). - Rev. Com. Into the wilderness. Between Egypt and Palestine. – Hackett. Four thousand men. Josephus says that this Egyptian prophet had led out 30,000 men. This was the whole number of his followers, and included the 4000 that were murderers, i.e., who belonged to the well-known Sicarii, or assassins.

39. I am a man which am a Jew. That is, I am a Jew; not a characterless vaga. bond from Egypt, nor even a native of Judea (where insurgents and insurrections were bred, but a citizen of refined and wealthy Tarsus in Asiatic Cilicia. — Butler. He was not less a Jew because he had become a Christian. His love for his race is a striking characteristic of St. Paul. - Im. Denton. Of Tarsus,... in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city. If he were indeed a citizen of Tarsus, he would have real claim upon the Roman authorities for protection. Tarsus was not only famous as a seat of learning, but was the most important centre in that part of the Roman empire, and possessed many privileges. It bore on its coins the proud title of METROPOLIS AUTONOMOS, “the independent capital city." Rev. Corn. I beseech thee, suffer me to speak, etc. Observe the indications of Paul's self-possession, confidence in his cause, native dignity, and personal power. Unawed by the mob, he desires to address them; by his personal weight secures permission from the chief captain; and there, chained to the two soldiers, his hair and garments still disordered by the rough handling he has received, with a gesture he silences the crowd and secures an audience. We no longer wonder that this man wished to go into the theatre at Ephesus and face the mob there (chap. 19:30). – Abbott. This liberty he seeks not for his own sake, but for theirs. He would speak to the people, God's people and his. He would use this his grand opportunity as Christ's herald to proclaim his Messiahship to this vast multitude of his “fallen” Israel. - Butler.

40. And when he had given him license. Permission to speak. The request was a bold one, and we are almost surprised that Lysias should have granted it; but there seems to have been something in Paul's aspect and manner which from the first gained an influence

over the mind of the Roman officer, and his consent was not refused. - C. and H. On the stairs. The steps which led to the Roman quarters were the pulpit from which God caused the Gospel of his Son to be proclaimed. — Rieger. And beckoned with the hand. The object of Paul in beckoning with his hand was to obtain silence. See that man who has to address a crowd, and who wishes for silence. He does not begin to bawl out, Silence ! that would be an affront to them; he lifts up his hand to its extreme height, and begins to beckon with it, i.e., to move it backward and forward; and then the people say to each other, pasathe, pasathe," i.e., be silent, be silent. — Roberts. He spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue. That is, he spoke this address to his fellow-countrymen in that Hebrew dialect, the Syro-Chaldaic or Aramaic, the mother-tongue of the Jews in Judea at that time. This would be the language best loved by the fanatics who were thirsting for his blood. With the old Hebrew words he would be sure to speak more directly home to the Jewish heart, whose guiding principle was an intense, often an unreasoning attachment to their country, its ancient language, customs, and law. No doubt “the great silence," the hush which fell on this angry, vociferating crowd, was produced by the sound of the loved Hebrew words. — Schaff.

LIBRARY REFERENCES. Lewin, II: 123–145; Farrar, chap. 40; Taylor, chap. 20; Macduff, chap. 18; Monday Club Sermons for 1877; Eugene Stock's Lessons on the Acts; Ford's Acts of the Apostles illustrated; for a minute description of the castle of Antonia, see Robinson's Biblical Researches, pp. 230–238.

PRACTICAL. 1. Vers. 27, 28. Tale-bearers and tale-hearers are alike guilty. Whether is more damnable, to be a teller or receiver of tales and of ill reports, it is hard to say; for as the tale-bearer hath the devil in his tongue, so the tale-hearer hath the devil in his ear (Prov. 6:19; Eph. 4: 31). - S. Bernard.

2. Many good persons are slandered by our reporting as facts what are only our own inferences and impressions.

3. Against this holy place. Behoid how they took it for a like offence to speak against the temple of God as to speak against the law of God; and how they judged it convenient that none but godly persons and the true worshippers of God should enter into the temple of God. You will say that the Jews honored it superstitiously. But I would we were not as far short from the due reverence of the Lord's house as they overshot themselves therein.-Ford.

4. Ver. 29. The world notices the company we keep.

5. We should be extremely careful to avoid defamation, because an injury of this sort is without after recompense. We cannot follow a lie at the heels to recover credit taken away as we can follow a thief to recover goods taken away. - Dr. Whichcote.

6. Ver. 30. It is far easier to disturb what is quiet than to quiet what is disturbed (Prov. 17:14). Plato (motto on his seal). — Ford.

7. Ver. 36. The servant must not expect better treatment than his master. Jesus had, before Paul, been cried down and crucified by an angry mob at Jerusalem. – Rev. Com.

8. Vers. 39, 40. No man has so good a right to be calm in storms at sea, or in the midst of popular tumults, as the Christian. - Rev. Com.

9. The envy and hatred of the world often gives a truth celebrity which otherwise would have remained in obscurity. - Rev. Com.

10. Seeming evil may be a great good. The arrest of Paul gave him an opportunity to preach the Gospel safely in a public place otherwise inaccessible. — Henry.

11. When our plans are frustrated, we may be sure that God has a higher purpose than our own.

12. Note the power of a sanctified character, earnest and pure.

13. Paul was sustained by two principles : (1) the love of Christ; (2) faith in the unseen. — Taylor.

14. A great silence. A quiet soul is the seat of wisdom. It is ill-sowing in a storm; so a stormy spirit will not allow the Word of God to take place. - Dr. Sibbes.

SUGGESTIONS TO TEACHERS. 1. Draw from the scholars the CIRCUMSTANCES of the lesson by a brief REVIEW of last Sabbath's lesson.

II. Suow how the plan may have been successful with the Christian Jews whom they were aiming to conciliate; but a new and unexpected difficulty arose from the unbelieving Jews. III. Give to the scholars a clear and distinct idea of the TEMPLE AND ITS COURTS, SO that they can see what parts were forbidden to the Gentiles, where in the temple Paul was completing his vow, where were the gates that were shut, and where Paul was rescued by the soldiers, and where he made his address to them. This will make the whole account more vivid. (A small chart of the temple, 13 inches by 19 inches, for a class, and a larger one for a whole school, is published by R. S. Faulkner, Danville, N. Y.)

IV. The SUBJECT is, - SUFFERING FOR CHRIST'S SAKE.

1. The assault upon Paul in the temple (vers. 27-30). Paul meets some unexpected opposition from Jews who had known and opposed him in Ephesus. The results of what we do in one place follow us wherever we go.

Illustration. In the old church at Newburyport, Mass., where Whitefield used to preach, and where his bones still lie, is a peculiar echo. It was said to have been discovered thus. The corner gallery pews are built very high, and close to the arched ceiling. In one of these some boys were sitting, and during the service whispered to one another that now was a good time to steal some of a good deacon's pears, while he was in church. Accordingly they went out. But the deacon was sitting in the opposite corner, and distinctly heard across the church the words which were inaudible everywhere else. They were echoed along the arched ceiling. So our words and deeds are echoed, and exert an influence in a far distant place, or across years of our life.

Illustration. Stirred up all the people (ver. 27). Envy is like a stone thrown into a pool of water; it rises in circles, cach circle begetteth another, and growing still wider, till they all quite lose themselves in the end (ver. 31; 19: 29), dato uno, mille sequuntur ; like Cadmus's brood, they start up suddenly, and as soon fall foul of each other. - Ch. Herle.

Illustration. A little water is evaporated into a great deal of steam and smoke; and so a thing, trifling in itself, may become the means of incalculable mischief if it be put forth in the spirit of malice or even inconsiderateness. - Manton.

APPLICATIONS (1) can be made of the wrong done others by suspicions and inferences treated as facts. (2) Of how temples of God may be really polluted. (3) That the godly are always exposed to persecution. We cannot expect to oppose men's sins and not make them our enemies.

Illustrations may be drawn from the opposition of rum-sellers and saloon-keepers, and those who rent buildings for such uses, to faithful churches and ministers. So those who oppose lotteries in fairs, and the bad and corrupting business of men. Instance the attempts against Anthony Comstock.

II. The rescue (vers. 31-36). Here the place should be pointed out on the plan of the temple, with the castle of Antonia.

III. Good out of evil. Paul's character contrasted with that of the Egyptian may be pointed out; but the chief lesson is from the fact that this assault, by placing Paul under the protection of the Roman soldiers, gave Paul an opportunity of preaching the Gospel to the Jews, and to the Romans also, such as he could have obtained in no other way.' Till this time he had not discussed the Gospel in the temple (Acts 24:12).

Illustration. Afflictions and persecutions are like a bell, which calls the attention of all people to the Gospel, its truths, and comforts.

Illustration. There is an old Huguenot device representing men around an anvil striking it with their hammers, and others handing them new ones as fast as the ones used are broken on the anvil. Underneath is this legend: “Strike away, ye rebels; your hammers inay break, but the anvil of God's word endures." — John Cotton Smith.

LESSON VII. — FEBRUARY 15.

PAUL'S DEFENCE. — ACTS 22:1-21. GOLDEN TEXT. — And I said, What shall I do, Lord ? - ACTS 22: 10.

TIME. — Tuesday, May 23, A.D. 58. The same day as our last lesson. Paul's conversion was in the midsummer of A.N. 37.

PLACE. – Jerusalem. The temple area; on the stairs that led from the Court of the Gentiles to the castle of Antonia.

PAUL was now 56 years old. At his conversion he was 35.

RULERS. — Nero, emperor of Rome; Felix, governor of Judea; Claudius Lysias, commander of the Roman guard at Jerusalem.

PRONUNCIATIONS. – Anăni'ăs; Ciliciă (siliz'ya); Dămăs'củs; Găma'liěl; Lysiás (lish'ěăs); Năz'areth.

INTRODUCTION. l'aul, while in the temple court, in which only Jews were allowed, had been attacked by a mob led by Jews from Ephesus. He had been dragged into the Court of the Gentiles, where the high priest Jonathan had been slain a year before. As they were beating Paul to death, he was rescued by the Roman garrison The soldiers carried him to the top of the stairs which led to the castle Antonia. Here, out of danger from the mob, Paul requested leave to speak. It was granted, and, lifting his hand to gain silence, he uttered the words of to-day's lesson to the immense audience below him in the temple court.

1. Men, 1 brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence

Brethren and fathers, hear i which I make now unto you.

ye the defence which I now 2. (And when they heard that he spake in the

make unto you.

And when they heard that 2 Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence : lhe spake unto them in the

Hebrew language, they were and he saith,)

the more quiet : and he saith, 3. ?I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Lac I am a Jew, born in. Tarsus ;

of Cilicia, but brought up in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city 3 at this city, at the feet of Gama

liel, instructed according to the the feet of 4 Gamaliel, and taught 5 according to the

strict manner of the law of perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and 6 was our fathers, being zealous for

God, even as ye all are this zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.

1 Acts 7: 2.

2 Acts 21: 39. 2 Cor. 11: 22. Phil. 3: 5. Deut. 33: 3. 2 Kings 4: 38. Luke 10: 39. * Acts 5: 34. 3 Acts 26: 5. Acts 21:20. Gal. 1: 14. i Rom. 10: 2.

EXPLANATORY. 1. The Address. - Vers. 1, 2. 1. Men, brethren, and fathers. The accurate translation of the Greek word would be simply, “ Brethren and fathers.” It is noticeable that the opening words are the same as those used by Stephen in his great defence before the Sanhedrim (see chap. 7: 2). “ Brethren" expresses the love Paul bore to his fellowcountrymen the Jews. "Fathers” seems to recognize the presence of some of the older and more prominent men of the Jerusalem church; members, perhaps, of the Sanhedrim, certainly well-known scribes and elders of the Holy City. — Schaff. It is the spirit of Christian gentleness that speaks. - Lange. These men, although they were trying to kill him, were indeed his brethren, of the same race, with the same God, living under the same promises. Their zeal was mistaken, but it was a zeal for their race and religion. Paul recognized all this, and he looked upon them as a physician does upon the sick, who need his care and help even while they may reject it. – P. Hear ye my defence. The apostle is suspected of disaffection to the Mosaic law. In order to refute this charge he gives an account of his conversion. The object Paul had in giving this account was to show that he could sympathize with the mob in their outburst of zeal, because he had himself once shared their state of mind, and nothing short of a divine revelation had altered the course of his religion and life. - Farrar.

2. In the Hebrew tongue. The Syro-Chaldaic or Aramaic, the mother-tongue of the Jews in Judea at this time, and the one, therefore, most likely to secure the attention of the mob. Observe that Paul speaks with equal Auency the Greek and the Hebrew. - Abbott. One who spoke in Hebrew was not likely to blaspheme the sacred Hebrew books. — Plumptre. Had he spoken in Greek, the majority of those who heard him would have understood his words. But the sound of the holy tongue in that holy place fell like a calm on the troubled waters. --- C. and II. They kept the more silence. The noun in the original refers not only to peace from cries and shouts, but to general quietness, such as would be produced by refraining from all movements. It expresses a very high degree of quietness. Rev. Ver. has, they were the more quiet." --- Cambridge Bible.

II. Paul's Early Training. — Ver. 3. (1) His parentage. 3. I am verily a man which am a Jew. The Rev. Ver. has, “ I am a Jew," and this renders the original fully enough. These first words of the apostle would correct many wrong impressions among the crowd, for we may be sure that many beside the chief captain had the notion that St. Paul was one of those foreign desperadoes with which Judea abounded at this time. - Cambridge Bible. His parents were Jews of the tribe of Benjamin. They were

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

4. 'And I persecuted this way unto the death, day: and ! persecuted this 4

Way unto the death, binding binding and delivering into prisons both men and and delivering into prisons

both men and women. As 5 women.

also the high priest doth bear 5. As also the high priest doth bear me witness, me witness, and all the estate

of the elders: from whom also and 2 all the estate of the elders : * from whom also I | I received letters unto the bre1 Acts 8:3; 26:9, 10, 11. Phil. 3:6. Tim. 1:13. Luke 22: 66. Acts 4 : 5. 3 Acts 9: 2; 26: 10, 12, “ Hebrews of the Hebrews," i.e., they were not proselytes, but could trace their descent in the direct line from Abraham. They were “ of gentle extraction, and accustomed to move in the very highest grade of society." His father was a Roman citizen, possessing the peculiar rights of citizens, probably as a reward for distinguished services to the Roman State. He was a Hellenist, i.e., a Greek-speaking Jew. (2) His birth. Paul was born at Tarsus, the chief city of Cilicia, in Asia Minor, probably about the year A.D). 2. (3) llis names. He was named Saul (" the desired one"), after the first king of Israel. This was his Hebrew name. As a Roman citizen he had also the Roman name Paul (little). (4) His education. Tarsus was the seat of one of the three great universities of the Pagan world, Athens and Alexandria being the others. Here could be obtained the best secular learning of the age. He was educated in piety at home, and in the law and traditions under Jewish Rabbis. He was taught the trade of tent-making. Brought up in this city (Jerusalem) at the feet of Gamaliel. When about twelve years old he was sent to Jerusalem, where he passed the next quarter of a century under the teaching of Gamaliel, a Pharisee, the most eminent of all the Jewish doctors. Here he studied the Bible, Roman law, and the Greek literature, theology, philosophy, jurisprudence, astronomy, astrology, medicine, botany, geography, arithmetic, architecture. — Lewin. The expression “ at the feet of Gamaliel” is strictly accurate. In the Jewish schools the teacher sat and taught from a raised seat; the pupils sat round on low benches or on the floor, literally at the master's feet. — Schaf (5) His early history. Taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers. He was trained in the strictest school of the Pharisees, under the greatest and most orthodox of professors. He thus disarms their angry opposition by showing that he understood them, knew their law and doctrines, and had lived not as a foreign, but a native Jew.

III. His Life before Conversion. — Vers. 3-5. Paul continued many years under Gamaliel. There was scarcely his equal in Jerusalem for his knowledge of the law and general erudition. His moral character was marked by the strictest rectitude. He took the degree of Rab, the first step of honor, and then received from the University of Jerusalem the diploma of Rabbi, which greatly aided him in his subsequent labors. He combined in himself all the qualities that indicate future greatness. He was elected to the Sanhedrim as a scribe. This could not be before he was 35, his probable age at the martyrdom of Stephen, in which he took an active part. — Lewin. And was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. “What ye are now," said the apostle, “ I was once -- a cealot," a word well known in the extremest phases of the religious life of that disastrous period in Judea, “a zealot for what I deemed was for the honor of God.” - Schaff. But not full of the Spirit of God; on the contrary, full of self-confidence. This is implied in Phil. 3: 4. Zeal, without humility and love, may only lead to sin and death. – Abbott.

4. I persecuted this way unto the death. This was the evidence of his zeal towards God. “The way” was a colloquial term for the Christian religion (Acts 9:2; 19:23). It was the way of life, the way to heaven, the way to the best life on earth, the way to holiness, the way of happiness, the way to God. — P. It originated most likely from a loving memory of the Master's words, in which he claimed to be himself “the way, and the truth, and the life." — P. The expression“ unto the death” indicates the intensity of Paul's feelings. His persecution was as severe and terrible as he could make it. - Rer. Com. Being exceedingly mad against them, he says in another story of his life (Acts 26:11). Unto the death. That is, intending to put them to death. — Grotius, Meyer. Paul did not actually put any to death himself, but he was the agent employed in committing them to prison; and, as he himself says, “when they were put to death I gave my voice against them” (Acts 26: 10). Mention is only made of the martyrdom of Stephen in this persecution; but it seems prob. able, from these expressions in the Acts, that Stephen was not the only victim. -- Gloos Binding and delivering into prisons. For a fuller report, see his account in Acts 26: 10, 11. And women. Showing how intense was his zeal, since he was willing to imprison even women. His character at this time is given in Phil. 3:4-6. 5. As also the high priest doth bear me witness, or testifies for me. That is, the

« AnteriorContinuar »