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from Cesarea to brethren at a distance. And a plausible conjecture fixes this period and place for the writing of Luke's Gospel under the superintendence of the apostle of the Gentiles. — C. and H. Luke, also, was probably engaged with Paul in collecting materials for the Acts of the Apostles. For he came with Paul to Jerusalem (21:17), and sailed with him from Cesarea (27:1), and hence was probably at' hand during the two years of Paul's imprisonment, —- See Plumptre. Festus. See next lesson. Felix' room.. Place, governorship. Willing to show the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound. This was still selfish, for he was recalled on account of charges against him, and the Jews could easily follow him to Rome and substantiate those charges.
LIBRARY REFERENCES. Arnot's Church in the House, chaps. 92, 93; The Church of the First Days, by C. J. Vaughn, ii., chaps. 13-15; Speeches of the Holy Apostles, Donald Fraser, chap. 12; Lives of Paul, by Lewin, Farrar, Taylor, Conybeare and Howson; Westminster Sermons, R. C. Trench; Spurgeon's Sermons, series 4; Monday Club Sermons, 1877; Butler's analogy, chap. 5, on “ Weakening of Passive Impressions by Repetition"; Butler's Three Sermons on Human Nature, on “ Conscience"; Lange in Acts has an exhaustive note on the hope of a resurrection among the Jews.
PRACTICAL. 1. Ver. 1. The Christian should be gentlemanly and courteous even to the worst men. 2. The world will often speak evil of the church, and make false charges against it. 3. But every such charge can be answered by simply showing the facts.
4. My friends, the resurrection must be either the hope, or the fear, of each one of us. And which? which of the two? a hope, or a fear? for you? for me? — Vaughn.
5. This hope inspires us (1) with courage and wisdom in our labors; (2) with patience and strength in our afflictions; (3) with steadfastness and joy in the hour of death. - Lange.
6. Ver. 16. The Christian must exercise himself, train himself in right doing. It is a commonplace in military economy that a soldier cannot be made in a day. No one can become perfect in any art or pursuit without long and severe training.
7. Vers. 24, 25. From Paul's discourse we may gather: (1) Paul in his preaching had no respect of persons, as the Word of God has not; he urges the same convictions and instructions on the Roman governor that he did on other people; (2) he aimed at the consciens of men, and came close to them; sought not to please their fancy or gratify their curiosity, but led them to a sight of their sins and a sense of their duty and interest; (3) that he preferred the serving of Christ and the saving of souls before his own safety; (4) that he was willing to take pains, and run hazards in his work, even when there was little probability of doing good. — Henry.
8. Paul sought to overcome evil by the good. His sermon appears not so much a denunciation of wrong as a holding up the good; that the evil-doers, seeing themselves in this mirror, would be convinced of their sin and impelled to a better life.
9. The folly of waiting for a convenient season for doing what ought to be done now. 10. The devil cozens us of all our time by cozening us out of the present time.
11. It is a true parable. Every man has his opportunity, and if he misses it, it comes not again. Ours is the present; let us grasp it, and use it, and live by it while we may! 12. Even in prison one can be useful, and gain power for the future.
SUGGESTIONS TO TEACHERS. REVIEW the last lesson so as to bring out clearly the circumstances of to-day's lesson.
PICTURE OUT THE SCENE as given in the intervening verses. The pretorium, or judgment-hall of Herod; Felix on the judge's seat; Paul, the prisoner at the bar; Ananias and leading members of the Sanhedrim from Jerusalem as accusers of Paul, with a bright, unscrupulous Roman lawyer to plead their cause. Note the flattery with which he begins.
The CHARGES brought against Paul by him were three, as given in the notes. The first part of the lesson to-day is Paul's answer to these charges against him.
THE CONTRAST. We have in this lesson two contrasted characters, both brought before a judgment-seat, both charged with guilt, - Paul before Felix' judgment-seat, Felix before the bar of his own conscience, and we are to study the lessons taught by each.
I. AN APPROVING CONSCIENCE
Illustration. Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, describing Faithful and Christian in Vanity Fair, with the charges brought against them.
(2) Paul's answer to the SECOND CHARGE, — of HERESY innovation in religion, bringing in a new religion. Study the five answers given to this in the notes.
Note the hopefulness and comfort of the Christian in view of the future, as contrasted with Felix's terror in view of the same..
NOTE too the care and pains Paul takes to live a right life.
Illustration from any work your scholars may be interested in, as learning music, as speaking a language, or learning a trade. There is no perfection without careful practice.
(3) Paul's answer to the THIRD CHARGE, - of PROFANING THE TEMPLE. In all cases a simple statement of the facts was enough. And yet Paul was not released. But Felix, afraid to do right, and not willing to do a gross wrong without sufficient motive, regarded Paul as innocent, but yet deferred giving judgment in his favor.
II. A CONDEMNING CONSCIENCE. PICTURE the interview of Paul with Felix and Drusilla in private. Note the bad character of both.
PAUL'S DISCOURSE convinced them of sin by holding up a picture of what was right.
Illustration. We see the faults in a picture by comparing it with a perfect picture. We see how small we are by standing beside those much larger. So Christ convicts men of sin by his perfect life. So all good men convict bad men of sin, and hence are hated by them.
DWELL on righteousness and temperance.
FELIX TREMBLED, for he saw himself a sinner without hope. He ought to tremble. All sinners should tremble. Paul found joy in the same judgment to come, because his sins were forgiven by Jesus Christ; he had repented, and was striving after perfect holiness.
PUTTING OFF DUTY to a more convenient season.
Illustration from the oft observed fact that if we neglect to obey the alarm clock that awakes us in the morning, it soon ceases to wake us. So conscience disobeyed. See also Southey's poem of the Inchcape Bell.
Illustration. Paul's long imprisonment, and the good that may have resulted from it, may be illustrated by Bunyan's long imprisonment, that seemed so evil, and yet was the means of giving the Pilgrim's Progress to the world, which has done more good than the twelve years of preaching could have done.
LESSON XI. - MARCH 15. PAUL BEFORE AGRIPPA. — ACTS 26:1-18. GOLDEN TEXT. — And he said, Who art thou, Lord ? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. — ACTS 26: 15.
TIME. – First of August, A.D. 60. Two years after the last lesson.
PLACE. — Cesarea, 47 miles north-west of Jerusalem; one of the residences of the Roman governor of Judea.
RULERS. - Nero, emperor of Rome (7th year from Oct. 13). Porcius Festus, gov. ernor of Judea (1st year). Herod Agrippa II., king of Trachonitis and the country east of the Sea of Galilee and the upper Jordan.
PASSOVER was April 4; Pentecost, May 25; Tabernacles, Sept. 29.
CONTEMPORARY EVENTS. — A contest between the Jews and Syrians takes place in the summer of A.1), 59, at Cesarea, and Felix commits an indiscriminate massacre of the Jews. Felix is recalled, in the spring of A.D. 60, to Rome, and is accused by the Cesarean Jews of the massacre at Cesarea. Festus is appointed to succeed Felix as governor of Judea, and sails, according to the Roman law, by April 15; arrives in June (June 24).
INTERVENING HISTORY:Festus arrived at Cesarea about June 24. | Hearing of Paul, July 14 (Acts 25:6). Stay at Cesarea (3 days), June 27 (Acts Agrippa comes after an interval of “certain 25:1).
days” (say 10), July 24 (Acts 25:13). Journey to Jerusalem (2 days), June 29. After many days Festus speaks of Paul (say Remains at Jerusalem (say 12 days), July 11 7), July 31 (Acts 25:14). (Acts 25:6).
Next day Paul is heard before Agrippa Return to Cesarea (2 days), July 13.
(1 day), Aug. I (Acts 25:23). — Lewin. PRONUNCIATIONS. – Agrip'pă; Bērni'cē; Fěs'tūs; Năz'ărěth; Pör'ciùs; Vēspa'. siăn.
INTRODUCTION. Paul had lain two years in prison at Cesarea when a new governor was sent from Rome to Judea. As soon as he reached Jerusalem the leading Jews went to him about Paul, and desired that he be sent to Jerusalem for trial, intending to murder him on the way. But the governor would make no promises till he knew more about the case. On his return to Cesarea he summoned Paul to the court-room, where the Jews made many bitter accusations against him. Paul denied them all. Then the governor, in order to please the Jews, proposed that as the complaints against him pertained to the Jewish religion, he go up to Jerusalem to be tried. — P.
But Paul was on his guard. He had in his power a certain means of averting the danger of the governor's compliance, - the appeal to Cæsar, - which was the ultimate safeguard of the Roman citizen. We can but suppose that a sudden inspiration opened his eyes to the path by which he might be carried to the long desired goal of his hopes at Rome. Tie asserted his rights, and Festus, after consulting with his assessors, had only to declare, “ Thou hast appealed unto Cæsar. Unto Casar shalt thou go." The case before the procurator was now at an end, and it only remained to send the prisoner to Rome. While waiting for an opportunity, Festus had to draw up an account of the charge on which Paul was sent for trial, and it was no easy matter to place a mere question of Jewish “superstition” before Nero in a satisfactory form. He was in this difficulty when Agrippa and his sister Bernice arrived at Cesarea to congratulate the new governor. Several days were spent in ceremony and festivity before Festus mentioned the case of Paul to Agrippa, who, being informed by the governor of all that had passed, expressed a desire to hear the man. – IVm. Smith. It was at this hearing that Paul made the address which is the subject of to-day's lesson.
THE PRISONER. Paul, aged 58, the world-wide known apostle of Christianity to the Gentiles, now standing chained to a Roman soldier.
THE JUDGES. Porcius Festus, governor of Judea. Josephus gives him a good character. Herod Agrippa II., king of the country east of the upper Jordan and the Sea of Galilee. He was on a visit to Festus. He had a palace at Jerusalem, and was professedly a Jew, and versed in Jewish customs. Roman satirists are busy with the terrible scandals of his private character. Běrni'cē, the sister and wife of Agrippa. Bernice was first married to her uncle, Herod, king of Calchis. After his death she lived under circumstances of great suspicion with her own brother, this king Agrippa. She was a second time married, to Ptolemon, king of Cilicia; but soon left him, and returned to her brother. She afterwards lived in unholy union with the emperor Vespasian, and with his son, the emperor Titus. — Vaughn.
THE AUDIENCE. But besides these royal personages there was a large and brilliant assemblage. By their side was the procurator (governor), probably in some official uniform; the principal inhabitants of the city were present in great numbers; magistrates, in their * furred gowns and flowing robes," and military officers in all the glitter of their martial accoutrements were there. Great was the blaze of glory and the pageantry of parade. And yet the noblest man in all that throng was the meanest looking in the crowd; for yonder, chained to a Roman soldier, the apostle is led in. — Wm. M. Taylor.
THE QUESTION STATED. Festus arose before this brilliant assembly, and stated the object of their coming together. The prisoner had been vehemently accused as one worthy of death. He had appealed to Cæsar, and must be sent to Rome. But Festus, not being well acquainted with Jewish laws and customs, could not make out any definite charge
1. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted And Agrippa said unto I
Paul, Thou art permitted to to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth his speak for thyself. Then Paul
stretched forth his hand, and hand, and answered for himsel.
made his defence:
against him that would be a reasonable excuse for sending him as a prisoner to Rome. “ Now," he said, “ you who are well acquainted with these things find out what charges should be made against him."
1. Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. But he does not; he speaks for Christ, and for those whom he addresses, preaching the Gospel. -- Abbott. The promise was now fulfilled that he should bear the name of Jesus before kings (Acts 9:15). The prisoner
2. I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I, I think myself happy, king 2
grippa, that I am to make shall answer for myself this day before thee touching my defence before thee this all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews :
day touching all the things
whereof I am accused by the 3. Especially because I know thee to be expert in Jews; especially because thou 3
art expert in all customs and all customs and questions which are among the Jews :
questions which are among wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently.
the Jews: wherefore I beseech
thee to hear me patiently. My 4. My manner of life from my youth, which was at manner of life then from my the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all / youth up, which was from the
beginning among mine own the Jews;
nation, and at Jerusalem,
know all the Jews; having s 5. Which knew me from the beginning, if they knowledge of me from the would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our first, if they be willing to tes
tify, how that after the straitreligion, I lived a Pharisee.
est sect of our religion I lived
a Pharisee. And now I stand 6. ? And now I stand and am judged for the hope
here to be judged for the hope 6 of 3 the promise made of God unto our fathers : of the promise made of God
1 Acts 22:3; 23:6; 24: 15, 21. Phil. 3: 5. ? Acts 23:6. 3 Gen. 3:15; 22:18; 26:24. Deut. 18:15. 2 Sam. 7:12. Ps. 132:11. Isa. 4: 2; 7: 14 Jer. 23: 5; 33: 14, 15, 16. Ezek. 34:23; 37. Dan. 9:24.
Mit. 7: 20. Acts 13: 32. Rom. 15:8. Tit. 2; 13.
Paul, it must not be forgotten, on this occasion was not pleading before his judges; the appeal to Cæsar, which had been allowed, had removed him from all provincial jurisdiction; he was simply here asked to give an account of the Nazarene or Christian faith, and to state what was the point at issue between him and the supreme council of the Sanhedrin, by whom he was considered unworthy to live. - Schaff. Then Paul stretched forth his hand. His right hand that was chained to the soldier. So most commentators. Lewin says that though the right wrist was fastened to a soldier's left, it was by a chain of light workmanship, and of sufficient length to allow the wearer the free use of his hand. The right hand was the one usually extended by orators. And answered for himself. Rev. Ver., made his defence. It was far more than a defence of his own conduct. It was a setting forth of the glories and the reasonableness of the Gospel he loved. We must remember we have only the barest skeleton of the original “ apology” of Paul. — Schaff.
2. I think myself happy, king Agrippa. This was not flattery, but a courteous and perfectly true reference to Agrippa's thorough knowledge of all the hopes of the Jers. Rev. Com. Before thee. In thy presence. There is no recognition of Agrippa as a judge. - Cook.
3. I know thee to be expert. Versed in, well acquainted with. In all customs and questions which are among the Jews. Agrippa, was not merely a ruler of Jewish lands and the appointed guardian of the Jerusalem temple, but was also in religion, professedly at least, a Jew; was well versed in the law and the prophets, and even in the more abstruse traditions of the Fathers. – Schaff.
III. Second Division, — The Question Stated. — Vers. 4-7. 4. My manner of life ... know all the Jews. He had lived at Jerusalem over 20 years, from the age of 12 to about 35. He had been very prominent as a persecutor and member of the Sanhedrim, and his later prominence as an apostle would call attention to his early life. He had been in the Sanhedrim with some of his present accusers. — P.
There are three particulars to which Paul here appeals. These are, (1) The length of time that the Jews had known him — from his youth — from the beginning, when he sat at the feet of Gamaliel, and was being instructed in all things concerning the law of Moses. (2) The place where they had known him, not in any Gentile city, but among mine own nation at Jerusalem. (3) What they knew of his life and conversation, that “after the most strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee." — Denton.
5. Which knew me. Better, with Rev. Ver., having knowledge of me from the first. If they would testify. They did not wish to do so, because they well knew that the conversion of Paul, as well as the previous estimation in which he had been held, were the most effective argument for the truth of the Christian faith. – Bengel. The most straitest sect of our religion. Most exact and rigorous in their interpretation of the law, and in enforcing ceremonial observances (comp. St. Paul's account of himself, Gal. 1:14; Phil. 3:5, 6). - Cook.
6. And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God
7. Unto which promise Tour twelve tribes, instantly
unto our fathers: unto which 7 serving God 2 day and night, 3 hope to come. For promise our twelve tribes, which hope's sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the
carnestly serving God night
and day, hope to attain. And Jews.
concerning this hope I am ac
cused by the Jews, O king! 8. Why should it be thought a thing incredible with
Why is it judged incredible 8 you, that God should raise the dead?
with you, if God doth raise the
dead? I verily thought with 9 9. 4 I verily, thought with myself, that I ought to do myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Naza- many things contrary to the
name of Jesus of Nazareth. reth.
unto our fathers. In other words, Paul said, “I, who am well known as one trained in the severe and rigid Pharisee school, stand accused, because I press home to men the hope of the resurrection, in which hope the Pharisees themselves share, -- a hope which is taught in the sacred Scriptures, which record the promise made to our fathers, — a hope which the temple services, which cease not day nor night, symbolize and ever keep in mind.” The hope of the promise made of God unto the fathers included more than the expectation of a divine Messiah; it embraced the hope of a resurrection and of a future glorified life. — Schaff.
7. Unto which promise. That is, to the fulfilment and realization of which promise, etc. Our twelve tribes. The Israelites in general, for the Jews doubtless included descendants from all the tribes who were mingled into one nation. Instantly. Earnestly, with intense devotion. Serving God day and night. The words refer to the elaborate and never-intermitted service of worship and sacrifice, with its symbolism ever pointing to another and a higher life, ever pointing too to the sacrifice on the cross, which won for men their access to this higher life. They failed to read aright the awful lesson taught by their perpetual sacrifices, that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.
Schaff. Hope to come. The whole existence of the Jewish people turned on the pivot of hope (as contra-distinguished from the heathen nations, whose prominent feeling was regret for what man had lost), and the keystone of its moral life projected its shadows far into futurity (Luke 2:25, 29, 30; 24: 21). — F. Schlegel.
IÙ. Third Division, — The Hope of the Jews Fulfilled in the Crucified and Risen Christ. — Ver. 8. 8. Much in the original “apology” of Paul is here evidently omitted. We must remember that the barest outline or sketch-plan of the original is all that we possess in these “ Acts.” — Schaff. Paul seems to have said, as is implied in this verse, that he was accused of the Jews because he preached that this great hope of Israel, the centre and purpose of their temple and religion, had been fulfilled in Jesus Christ whom they had crucified. "God had raised him from the dead, he is now living, Paul had seen and heard him, he is still doing his wonders among the people. Therefore he is the Messiah, the one for whom the Jews had been looking; therefore he is the living proof of the resurrection of all the dead and of eternal life. Why should it be thought... incredible. (1) It was not incredible in itself. The God of life, who gave us life at first, can easily continue and renew that life. It is fitting that we who are made in the image of God should continue to live with him. (2) That God had raised the dead was recorded in the Bible which the Jews believed (1 Kings 17:17-23; 2 Kings 4:18-37; 13: 21).
V. Fourth Division, - Proof from his having been Seen and Heard by Paul.- Vers. 9-15. Then of a sudden the inspired apostle changed his style and apparently his subject, and told the listening audience the wondrous story of the meeting on the Damascus road, and the effect on himself of the sight of the blinding glory of the cloud; the low, passionate voice of the speaker, as he repeated the words his God had spoken to him that morning by the way, must have thrilled king and Sanhedrist as they bent forward to catch the awful sayings which had moved Saul, the learned and admired Pharisee to throw up his brilliant career, and to cast his lot in with the despised Nazarene. — Schaff.
We have studied but a short time ago Paul's account of his conversion, which he related to the crowd in the temple area, while he was standing on the stairs to Castle Antonia. Therefore it will not be needful now to go over this account in detail.
9. Ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. That is, against the cause which centred about and was represented by that name. — Abbott. I felt it to be my bounden duty to do what I could to suppress the name of Jesus. It is to be observed that Paul's zeal was at all times sincere. — Gloag.