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&c. have been; or whether the disciples assumed | and illustrious ancestors; it is not that they are it themselves; or whether it was given by divine recorded in the books of heralds; it is not that intimation, has been a matter of debate. That it they stand high in courts, and among the gay, was given in derision is not probable. For in and the fashionable, and the rich, that irue the name Christian there was nothing dishonour honour is conferred on men. These are not the able. To be the professed friends of the Mes things that give distinction and peculiarity to the siah, or the Christ, was not with Jews a matter followers of the Redeemer. It is that they are of reproach, for they all professed to be the Christians; that this is their peculiar name: that friends of the Messiah. The cause of reproach by this they are known ; that this at once sugwith the disciples was that they regarded Jesus gests their character, their feelings, their docof Nazareth as the Messiah ; and hence, when trines, their hopes, their joys. This binds them they wished to speak of them with contempt, all together-a name which rises above every they would speak of them as Galileans, (Acts ii. other appellation ; which unites in one the inin) op as Nazarenes, (Acts xxiv. 5,) “And a habitants of distant nations and tribes of men ; ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.” It is which connects the extremes of society, and possible that the name might have been given to places them in most important respects on a them as a mere appellation, without intending common level; and which is a bond to unite in to convey by it any reproach. The Gentiles one family all those who love the Lord Jesus, would probably use this name to distinguish though dwelling in different climes, speaking them; and it might have become thus the com different languages, engaged in different pursuits mon appellation. It is evident from the New in life, and occupying distant graves at death. Testament, I think, that it was not designed as He who lives according to the import of this a term of reproach. It is but twice used besides name is the most blessed and eminent of mortals. this place: Acts xxvi. 28, “ Agrippa said unto The name shall be had in remembrance when Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Chris the names of royalty shall be remembered no tian.” i Pet. iv. 16, “ Yet if any man suffer as more, and when the appellations of nobility shall a Christian, let him not be ashamed.” No cer cease to amuse or to dazzle the world. tain argument can be drawn in regard to the source of the name from the word which is used | VER. 27. And in these days came y prophets here. The word Xpnuarisw used here, means,
from Jerusalem unto Antioch. (1.) To transact any business; to be employed in accomplishing any thing, &c. This is its
y Chap. ii. 17; xiii. 1. Eph. iv. 11. asual signification in the Greek writers. It means, (2.) To be divinely admonished, to be And in those days.—While Barnabas and Saul instructed by a divine communication, &c. (Matt. were at Antioch. Came prophets.—The word ii. 12. Luke ii. 26. Acts x. 22. Heb. viii. 5; “ prophet” denotes properly one who foretells xi. 7; xii. 25.) It also means, (3.) To be named, future events. See Note, Matt. vii. 15. It is or called, in any way, without a divine commu sometimes used in the New Testament to denote Dication. Rom. vii. 3,“ She shall be called an simply religious teachers, instructors sent from adulteress." It cannot be denied, however, that God, without particular reference to future events. the most usual signification in the New Testa To teach the people in the doctrines of religion ment is that of a divine monition, or communi was a part of the prophetic office; and this idea cation; and it is certainly possible that the name only was sometimes denoted by the use of th was given by Barnabas and Saul. I incline to word. See Rom. xii. 6. 1 Cor. xii. 10, 28; xiii. the opinion, however, that it was given to them | 2, 8; xiv. 3, 5, 24. These prophets seem to by the Gentiles who were there, simply as an have been endowed in a remarkabi
have been endowed in a remarkable manner appellation, without intending it as a name of with the knowledge of future events; with the reproach, and that it was readily assumed by power of explaining mysteries; and in some the disciples as a name that would fitly designate cases with the power of speaking foreign lanthem. If it had been assumed by them, or if guages. In this case, it seems that one of them Barbabas and Saul had conferred the name, the at least had the power of foretelling future events. record would probably have been to that effect; Dot simply that they “ were called," but that they Ver 98. And there stood up one of them, name took this name, or that it was given by the apostles. It is, however, of little consequence whence
Agabus, - and signified by the Spirit, that there the name originated. It soon became a name of should be great dearth throughout all the reproach ; and has usually been in all ages since, world: which came to pass in the days of by the wicked, the gay, the licentious, and the
Claudius Cæsar. anzodly. It is, however, an honoured name; the most bonourable appellation that can be con
z Chap. xxi. 10. ferred on a mortal. It suggests at once to a Christian the pame of his great Redeemer; the Named Agabus. This man is mentioned but Mes of our intimate relation to him; and the in one other place in the New Testament. In th right that we receive him as our chosen Acts xxi. 10, 11, he is mentioned as having Trader, the source of our blessings, the author of foretold that Paul would be delivered into the at saivation, the fountain of our joys. It is the hands of the Gentiles. It is not expressly said Gistinguishing name of all the redeemed. It is that he was a Christian, but the connexion seems not that we belong to this or that denomination ; to imply that he was. And signified.-See John It is not that onlr names are connected with high xii. 33. The word usually denotes “to indicate
by signs,” or with a degree of obscurity and un- , particularly in Judea. This is deseribed by certainty, not to declare in explicit language. Josephus, (Ant. b. xx. ch. 2, $ 5.) “A famine," But here it seems to denote simply to foretell, to says be, "did oppress them at the time in the predict. By the Spirit.--Under the influence of time of Claudius ;) and many people died for the the Spirit. He was inspired. A great dearth. | want of what was necessary to procure food A great famine. Throughout all the world.--The withal. Queen Helena sent some of her servants, word here used, oikovuévnv, usually denotes the to Alexandria with money to buy a great quantity inhabitable world, the parts of the earth which of corn, and others of them to Cyprus to bring all are cultivated and occupied. It is sometimes cargo of dried figs.” This famine is described limited, however, to denote an entire land or as having continued under the two procurators of 1 country, in contradistinction from the parts of it: Judea, Tiberius Alexander, and Cassius Fadus. thus to denote the whole of the land of Palestine Fadus was sent into Judea, on the death of in distinction from its parts; or to denote that Agrippa, about the fourth year of the reign of an event would have reference to all the land, Claudius, and the famine, therefore, continued and not be confined to one or more parts, as probably, during the fifth, sixth, and seventh years Galilee, Samaria, &c. See Note, Luke ii. 1. of the reign of Claudius. See Note in Whiston's The meaning of this prophecy evidently is, that Josephus, Ant. b. xx. ch. 2, § 5; also Lardner as ! the famine would be extensive; that it would quoted above. Of this famine, or of the want not be confined to a single province or region, consequent on the famine, repeated mention is', but that it would extend so far as that it might made in the New Testament. be called general. In fact, though the famine was particularly severe in Judea, yet it extended VER. 29. Then the disciples, every man accordmuch farther. This prediction was uttered not ing to his ability, determined to send srelief long after the conversion of Saul, and probably
unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea: therefore, about the year A.D. 38, or A.D. 40. Dr. Lardner has attempted to show that the pro a Rom. xv. 26. I Cor. xvi. I. 2 Cor. ix. 1, 2. phecy had reference only to the land of Judea, though in fact there were famines in other places. Then the disciples.—The Christians at Antioch. (Lardner's Works, vol. i. pp. 253, 254. Ed. Lond. | According to his ability.-- According as they had 1829.) Which came to pass, &c.-- This is one of prospered. It does not imply that they were. " the few instances in which the sacred writers in rich, but that they rendered aid as they could ! . the New Testament affirm the fulfilment of a / afford it. Determined to send relief.--This arose , prophecy. The history having been written not merely from their general sense of their 'l after the event, it was natural to give a passing obligation to aid the poor, but they felt themselves notice of the fulfilment. In the days of Claudius particularly bound to aid their Jewish brethren. Cesar.- The Roman emperor. He began his The obligation to aid the temporal wants of those il reign A.D. 41, and reigned thirteen years. He from whom they had received so important spiwas at last poisoned by one of his wives, Agrip- | | ritual mercies, is repeatedly enforced in the Nev, pina, who wished to raise her son Nero to the Testament. Comp. Rom. xv. 25—27. 1 Cor.' throne. During his reign no less than four dif- xvi. 1, 2. 2 Cor. ix. 1, 2. Gal. ii. 10. ferent famines are mentioned by ancient writers, one of which was particularly severe in Judea, VER. 30. Which also they did, and sent it to and was the one doubtless to which the sacred
the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul writer here refers. (1.) The first happened at Rome, and occurred in the first or second year
6 Chap. xii. 25. of the reign of Claudius. It arose from the difficulties of importing provisions from abroad. Sent it to the clders.-Greek, To the presbyters; It is mentioned by Dio, whose words are these ; | This is the first mention which we have in the " There being a great famine, he (Claudius) not | New Testament of elders, or presbyters, in the only took care for a present supply, but provided Christian church. The word literally denotes also for the time to come.” He then proceeds to | aged men, but it was a name of office only in the state the great expense which Claudius was at in Jewish synagogue. It is clear, however, I think, making a good port at the mouth of the Tiber, that the elders of the Jewish synagogue here are . and a convenient passage from thence up to the not included, for the relief was intended for the city. (Dio, lib. lx. pp. 671, 672. See also Sueto- | * brethren,” (ver. 29,) that is, the Christians who is nius, Claud. cap. 20.) (2.) A second famine is were at Jerusalem, and it is not probable that a : mentioned as having been particularly severe in charity like this would have been intrusted to ' Greece. Of this famine Eusebius speaks in his the hands of Jewish elders. The connexion here Chronicon, p. 204. “ There was a great famine does not enable us to determine any thing about in Greece, in which a modius of wheat (about the sense in which the word was used. I think i half a bushel) was sold for six drachms.” This it probable that it does not refer to officers in fainine is said by Eusebius to have occurred in the church, but that it means simply that the the ninth year of the reign of Claudius. (3.) In charity was intrusted to the aged, prudent, and the latter part of his reign, A.D. 51, there was experienced men in the church, for distribution another famine at Rome, mentioned by Suetonius, among the members. Calvin supposes that the (Claud. cap. 18,) and by Tacitus, (Ann. xii. 43.) apostles were particularly intended. But this is' Of this, Tacitus says, that it was so severe, that not probable." It is possible that the deacons, it was deemed to be a divine judgment. (4.) A who were probably aged men, may be bere parfourth famime is mentioned as having occurred | ticularly referred to; but I am rather inclined
to think that the charity was sent to the aged distinction from James the son of Alpheus, who members of the church without respect to their is called James the Less. (Matt. x. 3.) In this office, to be distributed according to their discre- / manner were the predictions of our Saviour retion.
specting him fulfilled. Matt. xx. 23, “ Ye sball indeed drink of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with."
VER. 3. And because he saw it pleased the CHAPTER XII. .
Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter d also.
(Then were the days of unleavened bread.) VER. 1. Now about that time Herod the king stretched a forth his hands to vex certain of
« Chap. xxiv. 27. d John xxi. 18.
e Exod. xji. 14, 15. the church.
And because he saw that it pleased the Jews. — a or, began.
This was the principle on which he acted. It Now about that time.—That is, during the time
was not from a sense of right; it was not to do that the famine existed; or the time when Bar
| justice, and protect the innocent; it was not to
discharge the appropriate duties of a magistrate, Dabas and Saul went up to Jerusalem. This was probably about the fifth or sixth year of the
and a king ; but it was to promote his own
popularity. It is probable that Agrippa would reign of Claudius, not far from A.D. 47. Herod
have acted in this way in any circuinstances. the king. This was Herod Agrippa. The Syriac
He was ambitious, vain, and fawning; he sought, 50 repders it expressly, and the chronology requires us so to understand it. He was a grandson
as his great principle, popularity. And he was of Herod the Great, and one of the sons of Aris
willing to sacrifice, like many others, truth and tobulus, whom Herod put to death. (Josephus,
justice to obtain this end. But there was also a Antiquities, b. xviii. 5.) Herod the Great left
particular reason for this in his case. He held three sons, between whom his kingdom was
his appointment under the Roman emperor. divided- Archelaus, Philip, and Antipas. Note,
This foreign rule was always unpopular among Matt. ii. 19. To Philip was left Iturea and Tra
the Jews. In order, therefore, to secure a peacechopitis. See Luke iii. 1. To Antipas, Galilee,
ful reign, and to prevent insurrection and tumult, and Perea; and to Archelaus, Judea, Idumea, and
it was necessary for him to court their favour ;
to indulge their wishes, and to fall in with their Samaria. Archelaus, being accused of cruelty, was banished by Augustus to Vienna in Gaul,
| prejudices. Alas! how many monarchs and and Judea was reduced to a province, and united
rulers there have been, who were governed by with Syria. When Philip died, this region was
no better principle, and whose sole aim has been granted by the emperor Caligula to Herod
to secure popularity, even at the expense of law, Agrippa. Herod Antipas was driven as an exile
and truth, and justice. That this was the chaalso into Gaul, and then into Spain, and Herod
racter of Herod, is attested by Josephus, Ant. Agrippa received also his tetrarchy. In the
xix. ch. 8, § 3. “ This king (Herod Agrippa) reign of Claudius also, the dominions of Herod
| was by nature very beneficent, and liberal in his Agrippa were still farther enlarged. When Ca
gifts, and very ambitious to please the people
with such large donations; and he made himself ligula was slain, he was at Rome, and having ingratiated himself into the favour of Claudius,
very illustrious by the many expensive presents be conferred on him also Judea and Samaria, so
he made them. He took delight in giving, and that his dominions were equal in extent to those
rejoiced in living with good reputation.” To of his grandfather, Herod the Great. See Jose
take Peter also.—Peter was one of the most conphus, Antiquities, b. xix. ch. 5, § 1. Stretched
spicuous men in the church. He had made himforth his hands.- A figurative expression, denot
self particularly obnoxious by his severe and ing that he laid his hands on them, or that he
pungent discourses, and by his success in winning endeavoured violently to oppress the church.
men to Christ. It was natural, therefore, that he To rez.-To injure, to do evil to, kakõgai. Cer
should be the next object of attack. The days of lain. --Some of the church. Who they were, the
unleavened bread. The passover, or the seven writer immediately specifies.
days immediately succeeding the Passover, dur. ing which they were required to eat bread without
leaven. (Exod. xii. 15—18.) It was some time VER. 2. And he killed James killed James 'the brother of during this period that Herod chose to apprehend
the brother of John with the sword.
Peter. Why this season was selected is not
known. As it was, however, a season of religious Matt. iv. 21; XX. 23.
solemnity, and as Herod was desirous of showing And he killed, &c.--He caused to be put to
his attachment to the religious rites of the nation, death with a sword, either by beheading, or
(Jos. Antiq. xix. 7. 3,) it is probable that he chose by piercing him through. The Roman procu
this period to show to them more impressively rators were intrusted with authority over life,
his purpose to oppose all false religions, and to though in the time of Pilate the Jews had not
maintain the existing establishments of the nation. this authority. James the brother of John.—This was the son of Zebedee. (Matt. iv, 21.) He is VER. 4. And when he had apprehended him, he commonly called James the Greater, in contra- ' put him in prison, and delivered him to four
quaternions of soldiers, to keep him; intending prized of his imprisonment and danger; and had after Easter to bring him forth to the people. no resource but to apply to God by praver. In
scenes of danger there is no other refuge; and 1 And when he had apprehended him.--When he | the result shows that even in most discouraging had taken or arrested him. He put him in prison. circumstances, God can hear prayer. Nothing ! - During the solemnities of this religious festival, scarcely could appear more hopeless than the it wonld have been deemed improper to have en idea of rescuing Peter out of the hands of Herod. gaged in the trial of a supposed criminal. The and out of the prison, and out of the custody of minds of the people were expected to be devoted sixteen men, by prayer. But the prayer of faith solely to the solemnities of religion ; and hence was prevalent with God. Without ceasing.--InHerod chose to retain him in custody until the tense, steady, ardent praver. The word here'l Passover had ended. To four quaternions of sol- used (ÅKTENS) is found in but one other place in diers.- A quaternion was a company of four ; the New Testament; 1 Pet. iv. 8, “Have fervert i consequently the whole number employed here charity among yourselves.” The word has rather was sixteen. The Romans divided the night into the idea that their prayer was earnest and fer. i four watches, so that the guards could be relieved; / vent, than that it was constant. Of the church. - | those who were on guard occupying three hours, By the church. and being then relieved. Of the four who were on guard, two were with Peter in the prison,
VER. 6. And when Herod would have brought (ver. 6,) and two kept watch before the door of
him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping i the prison. The utmost precaution was thus taken that he should not escape; and Herod thus
between two soldiers, bound with two chains; gave the most ample assurance to the Jews of and the keepers before the door kept the his intention to secure Peter, and to bring him to
prison. trial. Intending after Easter.-There never was a more absurd or unhappy translation than this. And when Herod would have brought him forth. The original is simply “after the Passover” (uerà - When he was about to bring him to be put to TÒ Táoya). The word “Easter” now denotes death. The same night.-- That is, the night prethe festival observed by many Christian churches ceding. The intention of Herod was to bring in honour of the resurrection of the Saviour. But him out as soon as the Passover was over; but the original has no reference to that; nor is there during the night which immediately preceded the the slightest evidence that any such festival was day in which Herod intended to bring him to observed at the time when this book was written. punishment, Peter was rescued. Peter was sleep The translation is not only unhappy, as it does ing.-Here is an instance of remarkable comnot convey at all the meaning of the original, but posure, and one of the effects of peace of conbecause it may contribute to foster an opinion science and of confidence in God. It was doubt. that such a festival was observed in the times of less known to Peter what the intention of Herod the apostles. The word “Easter" is of Saxon was. James had just been put to death; and origin, and is supposed to be derived from Eostre, | Peter had no reason to expect a better fate. And the goddess of love, or the Venus of the North, yet in this state, he slept as quietly as if there in honour of whom a festival was celebrated by had been no danger, and was roused even by an our pagan ancestors in the month of April. angel to contemplate his condition, and to make Webster. As this festival coincided with the Pass his escape. There is nothing that will give quiet over of the Jews, and with the feast observed by rest and gentle sleep so certainly as a conscience Christians in honour of the resurrection of Christ, void of offence; and in the midst of imminent the name came to be used to denote the latter. dangers, he who confides in God may rest securely In the old Anglo-Saxon service-books the term and calmly. Betueen two soldiers.-Note, ver. 4. ! “ Easter" is used frequently to translate the word | Peter was bound to the two. His left hand was Passover. In the translation by Wiclif, the word chained to the right hand of one of the soldiers. “paske," i. e. passover, is used. But Tindal and and his right hand to the left hand of the other. Coverdale used the word “ Easter,” and hence it This was a common mode of securing prisoners has very improperly crept into our translation.- | among the Romans. See abundant authorities' Clark. To bring him forth to the people.—That for this quoted in Lardner's Credibility, part i. is, evidently, to put him publicly to death to chap. x. $ 9. Lond. edit. 1829, vol. i. pp. 242, 243, gratify them. The providence of God in regard &c. And the keeper, &c.-See ver. 4. Two sol. to Peter is thus remarkable. Instead of his being diers were stationed at the door. We may see put suddenly to death, as was James, he was re- now that every possible precaution was used to served for future trial: and thus an abundant ensure the safe custody of Peter. (1.) He was opportunity was given for the prayers of the in prison. (2.) He was in the charge of sixteen church, and for his consequent release.
men, who could relieve each other when weary,
and thus every security was given that he could VER. 5. Peter therefore was kept in prison ; but not escape!
not escape by inattention or weariness on their
part. (3.) He was bound fast between two men. sprayer was made without ceasing of the
And (4.) He was further guarded by two others, church unto God for him.
whose business it was to watch the door of the
prison. It is to be remembered, also, that it ris į r. instant and earnest prayer was made. 2 Cor. i. 11. Eph. vi. 18, 19. 1 Thess. v. 17. James v. 16. death for a Roman soldier to be found sleeping
at his post. And in this way every possible But prayer was made.-The church was ap- security was given for the safe keeping of Peter.
But God can deliver in spite of all the precautions | Ver. 10. When they were past the first and the
of men; and it is easy for him to overcome the | most cunning devices of his enemies.
second ward, they came unto the iron gate that
leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of Ver. 7. And, behold, thes angel of the Lord
his own accord: and they went out, and passed
on through one street; and forth with the ancame upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and
gel departed from him. raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And The first and second ward.—The word which is his chaios fell off from his hands.
here rendered “ward,” (ovlarnv,) properly de
notes the act of guarding; but it is most commonly 9 Psa. xxxvii. 32, 33. Chap, v. 19. h Chap. xvi. 26. used to denote a prison, or place of confinement.
In this place it seems to denote the guard itselfAnd, behold, the angel of the Lord.—See Note, the soldiers stationed at intervals in the entrance chap.v. 19. Came upon him.--Greek, Was present | into the prison. These were passed silently, prowith him; stood near him (isotn). And a light bably a deep sleep having been sent on them to shined in the prison.- Many have supposed that facilitate the escape of Peter. The iron gate. — this was lightning. But light, and splendour, | The outer gate, secured with iron, as the doors of and shining apparel are commonly represented as prisons are now. That leadeth unto the city.-Or the accompaniments of the heavenly beings when | rather into (xic) the city. Jerusalem was surther visit the earth. (Luke ii. 9 ; xxiv. 4. Comp. rounded by three walls. (See Lightfoot on this Mark ix. 3.) It is highly probable that this light place.) The prison is supposed to have been was discerned only by Peter; and it would be to situated between two of these walls. And it is him an undoubted proof of the divine interposi probable that the entrance to the prison was imtion in his behalf. And he smote Peter on the side. mediately from the inner wall, so that this gate - This was doubtless a gentle blow or stroke to opened directly into the city. Of his own accord. arouse him from sleep. And his chains, &c. --Itself. It opened spontaneously, without the This could have been only by divine power. No application of any force, or key, thus showing natural means were used, or could have been used conclusively that Peter was delivered by miracuwithout arousing the guard. It is a sublime ex lous interposition. And passed on through one pression of the ease with which God can deliver street.— Till Peter was entirely safe from any from danger, and rescue his friends. Comp. danger of pursuit, and then the angel left him. chap. xvi. 26.
God had effected his complete rescue, and now
left him to his own efforts as usual. VER. 8. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. VER. 11. And when Peter was come to himself, And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about
he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord thee, and follow me.
hath sent k his angel, and hath? delivered me
out of the hand of Herod, and from all the exGird thyself.- When they slept, the outer garment was thrown off, and the girdle with which
pectation of the people of the Jews. they bound their inner garment, or tunic, was k 2 Chron. xvi. 9. Psa. xxxiv. 7. Dan. iii. 28; vi. 22. loosed. He was directed now to gird up that
Heb. i. 14. inner garment as they usually wore it; that is,
7 Psa. xxxiii. 18, 19; xcvii. 10. 2 Cor. i. 10. 2 Pet. ii. 9. to dress himself, and prepare to follow him. Bind on thy sandals.--Put on thy sandals-pre
And when Peter was come to himself.—This exfare to walk. (Note, Matt. iji. 11.) Cast thy gar
pression naturally means when he had overcome tärnt about thee. --The outer garment, that was
his amazement, and astonishment at the unexthrown loosely around the shoulders. It was
pected deliverance, so as to be capable of reflec. D-arly square, and was laid aside when they
tion. He had been amazed by the whole transslept, or worked, or ran. The direction was that
action. He thought it was a vision; and in the he should dress himself in his usual apparel. See
suddenness and rapidity with which it was done, Note, Matt. v. 38–42.
he had no time for cool reflection. The events of
Divine Providence often overwhelm and amaze Ver. 9. And he went out, and followed him ;
us; and such are their suddenness, and rapidity,
and unexpected character in their development, and wist not i that it was true which was done
as to confound us, and prevent calm and collected by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.j reflection. Of a surety.--Certainly, surely. He
considered all the circumstances, he saw that he i Psa. cxxvi. 1. j Chap. x. 3, 17.
was actually at liberty, and that it could have And rist not.-Knew not.
The been effected only by Divine interposition.
That it was true.-That it was real. Saw a vision.-- That is, was a
erpectation of the people.-- From this it appears representation made to his mind, similar to that
that the people earnestly desired his death ; and which he had seen before. Comp. chap. x. 11,
it was to gratify that desire that Herod had im12. It was so astonishing, so unexpected, so
prisoned him. 109derful, that he could not realize that it was frue,
Ver. 12. And when he had considered the thing,
he came to the house of Mary the mother of