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Title: The Expositor's Bible: The Acts of the Apostles, Vol. 2
Author: Stokes, G. T., 1843-1898
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Expositor's Bible: The Acts of the Apostles, Vol. 2" ***

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  _Editor of "The Expositor"_



  G. T. STOKES, D.D.




_Crown 8vo, cloth, price $1 50c. each vol._


      By A. MACLAREN, D.D.

  St. Mark.
      By Very Rev. the Dean of Armagh.

      By Prof. MARCUS DODS, D.D.

  1 Samuel.
      By Prof. W. G. BLAIKIE, D.D.

  2 Samuel.
      By the same Author.

      By Principal T. C. EDWARDS, D.D.


      By Prof. G. G. FINDLAY, B.A.

  The Pastoral Epistles.
      By Rev. A. PLUMMER, D.D.

  Isaiah I.--XXXIX.
      By G. A. SMITH, M.A. Vol. I.

  The Book of Revelation.
      By Prof. W. MILLIGAN, D.D.

  1 Corinthians.
      By Prof. MARCUS DODS, D.D.

  The Epistles of St. John.
      By Rt. Rev. W. ALEXANDER, D.D.

THIRD SERIES, 1889-90.

  Judges and Ruth.
      By Rev. R. A. WATSON, D.D.

      By Rev. C. J. BALL, M.A.

  Isaiah XL.--LXVI.
      By G. A. SMITH, M.A. Vol. II.

  St. Matthew.
      By Rev. J. MONRO GIBSON, D.D.

      By Very Rev. the Dean of Armagh.

  St. Luke.
      By Rev. H. BURTON, B.A.


      By Rev. SAMUEL COX, D.D.

  St. James and St. Jude.
      By Rev. A. PLUMMER, D.D.

      By Rev. R. F. HORTON, M.A.

      By Rev. S. H. KELLOGG, D.D.

  The Gospel of St. John.
      By Prof. M. DODS, D.D. Vol. I.

  The Acts of the Apostles.
      By Prof. STOKES, D.D. Vol. I.


  The Psalms.
      By A. MACLAREN, D.D. Vol. I.

  1 and 2 Thessalonians.
      By JAS. DENNEY, B.D.

  The Book of Job.
      By R. A. WATSON, D.D.

      By Prof. G. G. FINDLAY, B.A.

  The Gospel of St. John.
      By Prof. M. DODS, D.D. Vol. II.

  The Acts of the Apostles.
      By Prof. STOKES, D.D. Vol. II.


      By Principal RAINY, D.D.

  1 Kings.
      By Ven. Archdeacon FARRAR.

      By Prof. W. G. BLAIKIE, D.D.

  The Psalms.
      By A. MACLAREN, D.D. Vol. II.

      By Prof. FULLER, M.A.

  Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther.
      By Prof. W. F. ADENEY, M.A.



  G. T. STOKES, D.D.





The following volume terminates my survey and exposition of the Acts
of the Holy Apostles. I have fully explained in the body of this work
the reasons which led me to discuss the latter portion of that book
more briefly than its earlier chapters. I did this of set purpose. The
latter chapters of Acts are occupied to a great extent with the work
of St. Paul during a comparatively brief period, while the first
twenty chapters cover a space of well-nigh thirty years. The riot in
Jerusalem and a few speeches at Cæsarea occupy the larger portion of
the later narrative, and deal very largely with circumstances in St.
Paul's life, his conversion and mission to the Gentiles, of which the
earlier portion of this volume treats at large. Upon these topics I
had nothing fresh to say, and was therefore necessarily obliged to
refer my readers to pages previously written. I do not think, however,
that I have omitted any topic or passage suitable to the purposes of
the _Expositor's Bible_. Some may desiderate longer notices of German
theories concerning the origin and character of the Acts. But, then,
an expositor's Bible is not intended to deal at length with critical
theories. Critical commentaries and works like Dr. Salmon's
_Introduction to the New Testament_ take such subjects into
consideration and discuss them fully, omitting all mere exposition. My
duty is exposition, and the supply or indication of material suitable
for expository purposes. If I had gone into the endless theories
supplied by German ingenuity to explain what seems to us the simplest
and plainest matters of fact demanding no explanation whatsoever, I am
afraid there would have been little space left for exposition, and my
readers would have been excessively few. Those who are interested in
such discussions, which are simply endless, and will last as long as
man's fancy and imagination continue to flourish, will find ample
satisfaction in the eighteenth chapter of Dr. Salmon's _Introduction_.
Perhaps I had better notice one point urged by him, as an illustration
of the critical methods of English common sense. German critics have
tried to make out that the Acts were written in the second century in
order to establish a parallel between St. Peter and St. Paul when men
wished to reconcile and unite in one common body the Pauline and
Petrine parties. This is the view set forth at length by Zeller in his
work on the Acts, vol. ii., p. 278, translated and published in the
series printed some years ago under the auspices of the Theological
Translation Fund. Dr. Salmon's reply seems to me conclusive, as
contained in the following passage, _l.c._, p. 336: "What I think
proves conclusively that the making a parallel between Peter and Paul
was not an idea present to the author's mind, is the absence of the
natural climax of such a parallel--the story of the martyrdom of both
the Apostles. Very early tradition makes both Peter and Paul close
their lives by martyrdom at Rome--the place where Rationalist critics
generally believe the Acts to have been written. The stories told in
tolerably ancient times in that Church which venerated with equal
honour the memory of either apostle, represented both as joined in
harmonious resistance to the impostures of Simon Magus. And though I
believe these stories to be more modern than the latest period to
which any one has ventured to assign the Acts, yet what an opportunity
did that part of the story which is certainly ancient--that both
Apostles came to Rome and died there for the faith (Clem. Rom.,
5)--offer to any one desirous of blotting out the memory of all
differences between the preaching of Peter and Paul, and of setting
both on equal pedestals of honour! Just as the names of Ridley and
Latimer have been united in the memory of the Church of England, and
no count has been taken of their previous doctrinal differences, in
the recollection of their first testimony for their common faith, so
have the names of Peter and Paul been constantly bound together by the
fact that the martyrdom of both has been commemorated on the same day.
And if the object of the author of the Acts had been what has been
supposed, it is scarcely credible that he could have missed so obvious
an opportunity of bringing his book to its most worthy conclusion, by
telling how the two servants of Christ--all previous differences, if
there had been any, reconciled and forgotten--joined in witnessing a
good confession before the tyrant emperor, and encouraged each other
to steadfastness in endurance to the end."

But though I have not dealt in any formal way with the critical
theories urged concerning the Acts, I have taken every opportunity of
pointing out the evidence for its early date and genuine character
furnished by that particular line of historical exposition and
illustration which I have adopted. It will be at once seen how much
indebted I am in this department to the researches of modern scholars
and travellers, especially to those of Professor Ramsay, whose long
residence and extended travels in Asia Minor have given him special
advantages over all other critics. I have made a diligent use of all
his writings, so far as they had appeared up to the time of writing,
and only regret that I was not able to use his paper on St. Paul's
second journey, which appeared in the _Expositor_ for October, after
this work had been composed and printed. That article seems to me
another admirable illustration of the critical methods used by our own
home scholars as contrasted with those current abroad. Professor
Ramsay does not set to work to spin criticisms out of his own
imagination and elaborate theories out of his own inner consciousness
even as a spider weaves its web; but he takes the Acts of the
Apostles, compares it with the facts of Asia Minor, its scenery,
roads, mountains, ruins, and then points out how exactly the text
answers to the facts, showing that the author of it wrote at the time
alleged and must have been an eyewitness of the Apostles' doings.
While again by a similar comparison in the case of the apocryphal acts
of St. Paul and Thecla he demonstrates how easily a forger fell into
grievous mistakes. I do not think a better illustration can be found
of the difference between sound historical criticism and criticism
based on mere imagination than this article by Professor Ramsay.

In conclusion I ought to explain that I systematically quote the
Fathers whenever I can out of the translations published by Messrs. T.
& T. Clark, or in the Oxford Library of the Fathers. It would have
been very easy for me to give this book a very learned look by adding
the references in Greek or Latin, but I do not think I should have
thus conduced much to its practical utility. The Fathers are now a
collection of works much spoken of, but very little read, and the
references in the original added to theological works are much more
overlooked than consulted. It would conduce much to a sound knowledge
of primitive antiquity were the works translated of all the Christian
writers who flourished down to the triumph of Christianity. Authors
who fill their pages with quotations in Latin and Greek which they do
not translate forget one simple fact, that ten or twenty years in a
country parish immersed in its endless details make the Latin and
Greek of even good scholars somewhat rusty. And if so, what must be
the case with those who are not good scholars, or not scholars at all,
whether bad or good? I am often surprised noting how much more
exacting from their readers modern scholars are in this direction than
our forefathers of two hundred years ago. Let any one, for instance,
take up the works composed in English by Hammond or Thorndike
discussing the subject of Episcopacy, and it will be found that in
every case when they use a Latin, Greek, or Hebrew quotation while
they give the original they always add the translation. Finally I have
to acknowledge, what every page will show, the great assistance I have
derived from the Lives of St. Paul written by Archdeacon Farrar, Mr.
Lewin, and Messrs. Conybeare & Howson, and to express a hope that this
volume together with the previous one will be found helpful by some as
they strive to form a better and truer conception of the manner in
which the Church of the living God was founded and built up amongst


  _Nov. 4th, 1892_.




  ACTS vii. 58; xxii. 3.


  St. Paul's Appearance on the Christian Stage and its
    Results--The Tübingen Theory--His Parentage--Birthplace--
    Testimony of St. Epiphanius--Early Friends--Education--
    Trade--Gamaliel and his Influence--Evidence of Talmud--
    Pharisaic Schools--Their Casuistry and Exegesis--Parallel
    between Hagar and Sarah                                       1-21



  ACTS viii. 3; ix. 1-6.

  Saul of Tarsus and St. Stephen--Saul and the Sanhedrin--
    Conduct of Saul when Unconverted--Continuity of Judaism
    and Christianity--Saul and Blasphemy of Christ--Sense of
    Sin compatible with Sense of Forgiveness--Hooker on the
    Litany--Jeremy Taylor on Humility--Saul's Mission to
    Damascus--Domestic Tribunal permitted to the Jews by the
    Romans--Used against the Men of the Way--Meaning of this
    expression--Influence of it--Saul's Journey--Scene of
    Conversion--Lord Lyttelton's _Observations upon St. Paul's
    Conversion_--Supernatural Accompaniments appropriate
    to--Apostle's own Narrative--Reflections of the
    Venerable Bede                                               22-47



  ACTS ix. 10, 11.

  Saul and the Vision--Which probably produced Ophthalmia--
    Portrait of St. Paul--Ananias of Damascus--Straight
    Street--St. Chrysostom on the Spiritual Greatness of
    Ananias--Seventeenth-century Travellers in Palestine--
    Conversation between Jesus Christ and Ananias--Its
    Theology--Meaning of word Saint--Protest against
    Antinomianism--St. Paul and title Vas Electionis--And
    Doctrine of Election--Balance of Doctrine--The New
    Convert and Prayer                                           48-67



  ACTS ix. 19, 20.

  Visit of Ananias to House of Judas--Christ the True
    Visitor--Keble's Hymn for Easter Monday--Restoration
    of Saul's Sight--His Baptism--Language of Ananias--
    Importance of this fact--Saul's Work in Damascus--
    Narrative in Acts and in Galatians--Difficulties--
    Reconciliation--Saul in Arabia--Ancient Explanations
    of--Discipline of--Value of Seasons of Retirement--Waste
    of Vital Spiritual Tissues in Activity--Abuse of this
    Principle in Monasticism--Celtic Monasticism--Saul, the
    Vas Electionis, trained like Jesus Christ                    68-91



  ACTS x. 1-6.

  The Turning-points of Primitive Church History--Conversion
    of Saul and of Cornelius--Saul's earliest Ministry at
    Jerusalem--His Escape to Tarsus--St. Peter and Church
    in Joppa--Temporary Peace after Saul's Conversion--
    Caligula's attempt to erect his Statue in Jerusalem--St.
    Peter and Simon the Tanner--Time of Conversion of
    Cornelius was Providential--Place, Cæsarea-by-the-Sea,
    Providential--Cornelius, a Roman Centurion--The Legions
    and Palestine--Modern Authorities confirm the Acts--New
    Testament and Favourable Estimate of Soldiers--Catholic
    Nature of Christianity--Value of Discipline--Lessons
    Taught by Example of Cornelius                              92-114



  ACTS x. 9-15.

  St. Peter led to Joppa Unconsciously--His Period of
    Repose--Joppa and Missions to the Gentile World--
    Jonah--Peter and the Hour of Prayer--Value of Forms--
    Canonical Hours--Tertullian's Testimony--Nature of
    Peter's Vision--Conditioned by his Natural State--
    Exactly suited to Destroy his Prejudices--John
    Calvin's View--St. Peter at Cæsarea--His Sermon--Not
    Latitudinarian, as some Think--But Truly Catholic--Peter
    presupposes some Knowledge of Gospel Facts--Evidence of
    Resurrection--Necessarily Limited--Unless Course of
    Human Affairs was to be Upset--And God's Usual Laws set
    Aside--Outpouring of Holy Ghost on Gentiles--Baptism
    of Cornelius                                               115-141



  ACTS xi. 26.

  Reception of News of Gentile Conversion at Jerusalem--
    Debate and Strife with St. Peter--The Early Church
    Knew Nothing of the Privilegium Petri--Fable of Pope
    Marcellinus--Origin of Antiochene Church--Foundation
    of Antioch--Scenery and History--Orators and Water
    Supply--Arrival of Barnabas and of Saul--Invention
    of the Name Christians--Remarks of Archbishop Trench--
    The Prophet Agabus and the Outgoings of Charity            142-163



  ACTS xii. 1-3, 23, 24.

  Contact of Sacred and Secular History in this Chapter--
    Story of Herod Agrippa--Illustration of Principle of
    Heredity--First Martyrdom among Apostles--Character of
    James, Son of Zebedee--His Spiritual Eminence--His Death
    a Real Answer to Prayer--St. Peter's Deliverance--Granted
    to a Pleading Church--Angelic Interference--And the
    Proprieties of Christianity--Clement of Alexandria and
    the Pædagogue--Herod's Ostentation and Miserable Death--
    Testimony of Josephus                                      164-187



  ACTS xiii. 2-4, 14; xiv. 1, 26.

  Thirteenth Chapter may be called the Watershed of the
    Acts--Calvin and St. Paul's Ordination--Title Apostle
    Henceforth Applied to Him--Ember Seasons, Reason of--
    First Formal Mission to the Gentile World--Outline of
    Apostolic Tour--Saul and Sergius Paulus--Discoveries
    of General Cesnola--St. Paul's Sermon at the Pisidian
    Antioch--Jewish Jealousy and Opposition--Iconium--Lystra
    and Greek Legends--Discovery of Site of Lystra--Roman
    Police in Asia Minor--Dialects of Asia Minor--_Museum
    of the Evangelical School at Smyrna_--St. Paul and
    Church Organisation                                        188-218



  ACTS xv. 1, 2, 6, 19.

  History of the great General Councils--Originates at that
    of Jerusalem--Date and Subject-matter--The Controversy
    about Circumcision--Social Questions springing from it--
    St. Paul's Position--His Apparent Inconsistencies--
    Lessons of Apostolic Council--Early Church Scene of
    Controversies--No Infallible Guide--Composition of
    Council--Lay Element in Church Synods--Hooker and the
    Church of England--Witness of Prayer Book--Experience
    of Irish Church--Proceedings of the Council--Triumph
    of Gentile Freedom                                         219-244



  ACTS xv. 36, 39; xvi. 6, 8, 9.

  Introduction of Christianity to Greece--St. Peter and his Asserted
  Roman Episcopate of Twenty-five Years--Quarrel between
  St. Paul and St. Barnabas--Between St. Paul and St. Peter--Patristic
  Explanations--St. Augustine and St. Jerome--St.
  Paul's Opposition to Nepotism--Barnabas and Mark--Blessings
  of Sternness--The Wrath of Man praises God--Outline
  of St. Paul's Second Tour--Ramsay's Historical Geography of
  Asia Minor--Timothy's Ordination--The Gospel among the
  Celts--Jeremy Taylor and the _Via Intelligentiæ_--The Vision
  at Troas                                                       245-270



  ACTS xvi. 29, 31; xvii. 1, 2, 10.

  Ancient Roads and Rome--The Gospel at Philippi--History
    of that Town--Constitution of Roman Colonies--Lydia
    and Jewish Oratory--Francis de Sales and Small
    Congregations--Politics and Christianity--The Apostle
    before the Duumviri--The Jailer and the Earthquake--
    "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and Thou shalt be
    Saved"--The Philippian Church and Persecution--St. Paul
    at Thessalonica and Berœa--The Politarchs               271-300



  ACTS xvii. 16-18; xviii. 1.

  St. Paul and St. Athanasius, a Parallel--Escape to
    Athens down the Thermaic Gulf--Visit of Pausanias to
    that City--Ideal Character of Athenian Paganism--
    Areopagus and St. Paul--The Unknown God--The Greek
    Poets--Jesus and the Resurrection--The Primitive
    Athenian Church and its Theology--Aristides and his
    _Apology_--Dionysius the Areopagite and his reputed
    Philosophy--Origin of Corinthian Church--The Saintly
    Tentmakers--The Firstfruits of Achaia--Gallio and the
    Jews--Philosophy and Christ                                301-330



  ACTS xviii. 19-21, 24-26; xix. 1.

  History of Ephesus--Cenchreæ and its Church--Aquila and
    his Vow--Christianity and External Actions--Judaism
    and Christianity confounded by Romans--St. Paul's
    Journey to Ephesus and Jerusalem--Visit to Galatia--
    Ephesus and John's Disciples--Slow Progress of Gospel
    in Apostolic Age--Apollos and Meyer's Theory about
    Baptism--The Baptismal Formula--The School of
    Tyrannus--Ephesian Magic and its Professors--Story
    of St. Chrysostom--The Sons of Sceva                       331-356



  ACTS xix. 23-28.

  Duration of St. Paul's Ministry at Ephesus--Date of
    1st Corinthians--Diana of Ephesus and her Persian
    Worship--Weakness of Argument _e silentio_--Demetrius
    and the Craftsmen--Artemisian Festivals and Christian
    Sufferings--Testimony of Achilles Tatius--Martyrdom of
    Polycarp--Celtic Conventions--Mr. Wood's Discoveries
    at Ephesus--Gaius Vibius Salutarius--Extant Specimen
    of Ephesian Silverwork--Speech of Demetrius--The
    Asiarchs and the Recorder--Apostolic Controversy and
    its Methods                                                357-384



  ACTS xx. 1, 7, 17-19, 28.

  St. Paul's Position in A.D. 57--Personal Character of
    St. Luke's Narrative--Defects of German Criticism--
    Apostle's Second Visit to Macedonia--"Round about unto
    Illyricum"--Visitation of Corinth--Passover at Philippi--
    Holy Communion at Troas--The Lord's Day in the Primitive
    Church--Argument from Silence, Dangers of--Justin Martyr
    on Sunday--Eucharistic Amen--Evening Celebrations--The
    Agape--Fasting Communion--St. Paul's Sermon and Eutychus--
    Miletus and Charge to Ephesian Elders--Its Apologetic
    Tone--St. Paul's view of Sermons--Decay of Modern
    Preaching--Apostolic Power of Prevision--The Ministry
    and Personal Religion--The Holy Ghost and Ordination--
    Origin of Episcopacy--Dr. Hatch's Theories unhistorical--
    Irenæus on Bishops--Derived from Apostles--Communicatio
    Idiomatum--St. Paul's Farewell                             385-421



  ACTS xxi. 2, 3, 17, 33, 39, 40; xxii. 22, 30; xxiv. 1;  xxvi. 1.

  St. Paul's Voyage from Miletus to Jerusalem--Christianity at
    Tyre--"The Seed growing silently"--The Church at Cæsarea
    and its Teachers--St. Paul's Interview with St. James--The
    Nazarite Vow--St. Paul's Arrest and Appearance before the
    Sanhedrin--His Defence before Felix--Felix and Drusilla--
    Lessons of St. Paul's Vicissitudes--Agabus and Prophesying--
    St. James and Compromise--St. Paul and the High Priest--His
    Quickness and Tact--Tertullian on Flight in Persecution--
    Quietism and Quakerism--St. Paul and the Herodian Family--
    Argument of his Address before Agrippa and Bernice--His
    Appeal to Cæsar                                            422-449



  ACTS xxvii. 1-3; xxviii. 16.

  St. Paul as a Traveller and a Prisoner--Length of his
    Imprisonment--Blessed Results of his Captivity--"The
    Prisoner of the Lord"--Teaching of the Seventeenth
    Sunday after Trinity--His Captivity Benefited--(_a_)
    His Personal Religion--(_b_) The Church at Cæsarea--(_c_)
    The Church at Rome--(_d_) The Universal Church--
    Composition of St. Luke's Gospel--Technical Use of word
    Gospel--Testimony of Aristides and Irenæus--Epistles of
    the Captivity--Story of the Voyage to Rome--Roman
    Provincial Organisation--Writings of Mr. James Smith
    of Jordanhills--Church at Sidon--The Storm--Malta
    and Puteoli--Christianity at Pompeii--Christian
    Inscription there Discovered--St. Paul's Approach to
    Rome--Intense Humanity of the Apostle--Interview with
    the local Jewish Sanhedrin--Christianity at Rome--
    Investigations of Harnack and Schürer                      450-471



     "A young man named Saul."--ACTS vii. 58.

     "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this
     city, at the feet of Gamaliel, instructed according to the strict
     manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God, even as
     ye all are this day."--ACTS xxii. 3.

The appearance of St. Paul upon the stage of Christian history marks a
period of new development and of more enlarged activity. The most
casual reader of the Acts of the Apostles must see that a personality
of vast power, force, individuality, has now entered the bounds of the
Church, and that henceforth St. Paul, his teaching, methods, and
actions, will throw all others into the shade. Modern German critics
have seized upon this undoubted fact and made it the foundation on
which they have built elaborate theories concerning St. Paul and the
Acts of the Apostles. Some of them have made St. Paul the inventor of
a new form of Christianity, more elaborate, artificial, and dogmatic
than the simple religion of nature which, as they think, Jesus Christ
taught. Others have seen in St. Paul the great rival and antagonist of
St. Peter, and have seen in the Acts a deliberate attempt to reconcile
the opposing factions of Peter and Paul by representing St. Paul's
career as modelled upon that of Peter's.[1] These theories are, we
believe, utterly groundless; but they show at the same time what an
important event in early Church history St. Paul's conversion was, and
how necessary a thorough comprehension of his life and training if we
wish to understand the genesis of our holy religion.

  [1] See this portion of Baur's theory refuted in Dr. Salmon's
  _Introduction to the New Testament_, ch. xviii., p. 335, 4th ed.,
  where the writer admits a certain parallelism between the history
  of SS. Peter and Paul in the Acts, but denies that it was an
  invented parallelism. He remarks on the next page, "What I think
  proves decisively that the making a parallel between St. Peter and
  St. Paul was not an idea present to the author's mind is the
  absence of the natural climax of such a parallel--the story of the
  martyrdom of both the Apostles.... If the object of the author of
  the Acts had been what has been supposed, it is scarcely credible
  that he could have missed so obvious an opportunity of bringing
  his book to its most worthy conclusion, by telling how the two
  servants of Christ--all previous differences, if there had been
  any, reconciled and forgotten--joined in witnessing a good
  confession before the tyrant emperor, and encouraged each other in
  steadfastness in endurance to the end."

Who and whence, then, was this enthusiastic man who is first
introduced to our notice in connexion with St. Stephen's martyrdom?
What can we glean from Scripture and from secular history concerning
his earlier career? I am not going to attempt to do what Conybeare and
Howson thirty years ago, or Archdeacon Farrar in later times, have
executed with a wealth of learning and a profuseness of imagination
which I could not pretend to possess. Even did I possess them it would
be impossible, for want of space, to write such a biography of St.
Paul as these authors have given to the public. Let us, however,
strive to gather up such details of St. Paul's early life and training
as the New Testament, illustrated by history, sets before us. Perhaps
we shall find that more is told us than strikes the ordinary
superficial reader. His parentage is known to us from St. Paul's own
statement. His father and mother were Jews of the Dispersion, as the
Jews scattered abroad amongst the Gentiles were usually called; they
were residents at Tarsus in Cilicia, and by profession belonged to the
Pharisees who then formed the more spiritual and earnest religious
section of the Jewish people. We learn this from three passages. In
his defence before the Council, recorded in Acts xxiii. 6, he tells us
that he was "a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees." There was no division in
religious feeling between the parents. His home life and his earliest
years knew nothing of religious jars and strife. Husband and wife were
joined not only in the external bonds of marriage, but in the
profounder union still of spiritual sentiment and hope, a memory which
may have inspired a deeper meaning begotten of personal experience in
the warning delivered to the Corinthians, "Be not unequally yoked with
unbelievers." Of the history of his parents and ancestors we know
practically nothing more for certain, but we can glean a little from
other notices. St. Paul tells us that he belonged to a special
division among the Jews, of which we have spoken a good deal in the
former volume when dealing with St. Stephen. The Jews at this period
were divided into Hebrews and Hellenists: that is, Hebrews who by
preference and in their ordinary practice spoke the Hebrew tongue, and
Hellenists who spoke Greek and adopted Greek civilisation and customs.
St. Paul tells us in Philippians iii. 5 that he was "of the stock of
Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews," a statement
which he substantially repeats in 2 Corinthians xi. 22. Now it was
almost an impossibility for a Jew of the Dispersion to belong to the
Hebrews. His lot was cast in a foreign land, his business mixed him
up with the surrounding pagans, so that the use of the Greek language
was an absolute necessity; while the universal practice of his
fellow-countrymen in conforming themselves to Greek customs, Greek
philosophy, and Greek civilisation rendered the position of one who
would stand out for the old Jewish national ideas and habits a very
trying and a very peculiar one. Here, however, comes in an ancient
tradition, recorded by St. Jerome, which throws some light upon the
difficulty. Scripture tells us that St. Paul was born at Tarsus. Our
Lord, in His conversation with Ananias in Acts ix. 11, calls him "Saul
of Tarsus," while again the Apostle himself in the twenty-second
chapter describes himself as "a Jew born in Tarsus". But then the
question arises, how came his parents to Tarsus, and how, being in
Tarsus, could they be described as Hebrews while all around and about
them their countrymen were universally Hellenists? St. Jerome here
steps in to help us. He relates, in his _Catalogue of Illustrious
Writers_, that "Paul the Apostle, previously called Saul, being
outside the number of the Twelve, was of the tribe of Benjamin and of
the city of the Jewish Gischala; on the capture of which by the Romans
he migrated with them to Tarsus." Now this statement of Jerome,
written four hundred years after the event, is clearly inaccurate in
many respects, and plainly contradicts the Apostle's own words that he
was born in Tarsus.

But yet the story probably embodies a tradition substantially true,
that St. Paul's parents were originally from Galilee. Galilee was
intensely Hebrew. It was provincial, and the provinces are always far
less affected by advance in thought or in religion than the towns,
which are the chosen homes of innovation and of progress. Hellenism
might flourish in Jerusalem, but in Galilee it would not be tolerated;
and the tough, sturdy Galileans alone would have moral and religious
grit enough to maintain the old Hebrew customs and language, even amid
the abounding inducements to an opposite course which a great
commercial centre like Tarsus held out. Assuredly our own experience
affords many parallels illustrating the religious history of St.
Paul's family. The Evangelical revival, the development of Ritual in
the Church of England, made their mark first of all in the towns, and
did not affect the distant country districts till long after. The
Presbyterianism of the Highlands is almost a different religion from
the more enlightened and more cultured worship of Edinburgh and
Glasgow. The Low Church and Orange developments of Ulster bring us
back to the times of the last century, and seem passing strange to the
citizens of London, Manchester, or Dublin, who first make their
acquaintance in districts where obsolete ideas and cries still retain
a power quite forgotten in the vast tide of life and thought which
sways the great cities. And yet these rural backwaters, as we may call
them, retain their influence, and show strong evidence of life even in
the great cities; and so it is that even in London and Edinburgh and
Glasgow and Dublin congregations continue to exist in their remoter
districts and back streets where the prejudices and ideas of the
country find full sway and exercise. The Presbyterianism of the
Highlands and the Orangeism of Ulster will be sought in vain in
fashionable churches, but in smaller assemblies they will be found
exercising a sway and developing a life which will often astonish a
superficial observer.

So it was doubtless in Tarsus. The Hebrews of Galilee would delight
to separate themselves. They would look down upon the Hellenism of
their fellow-countrymen as a sad falling away from ancient orthodoxy,
but their declension would only add a keener zest to the zeal with
which the descendants of the Hebrews of Gischala, even in the third
and fourth generations, as it may have been, would retain the ancient
customs and language of their Galilean forefathers.[2]

  [2] The tradition mentioned by St. Jerome is not the only one
  which deals with the early life of St. Paul. Another very learned
  writer of the same, or perhaps we should rather say of a still
  earlier, period was St. Epiphanius, the historian of Heresies and
  bishop of Constantia, or Salamis, in Cyprus. He wrote a great work
  describing the various heresies which had sprung up in the Church,
  containing much valuable information which his research and early
  date enabled him to incorporate in his pages. He describes,
  amongst others, the Ebionites, telling us of their hostility to
  St. Paul and of the charges they brought against him. The
  Ebionites denied that he was a Jew at all. The words of Epiphanius
  are "They say that he was a Greek, and sprung from the Gentiles,
  and then afterwards became a proselyte," in opposition to which he
  quotes the Apostle's own words in Phil. iii. 5 and in 2 Cor. xi.
  22. Epiphanius then proceeds to explain how St. Paul might have
  been born in Tarsus and yet have been a Jew by nation, because
  that, under Antiochus Epiphanes and at other times, vast numbers
  of the Jews had been dispersed as captives among the Gentiles. See
  Epiphanius, in _Corpus Hæreseologicum_, Ed. Oehler, vol. ii., p.
  283. Berlin, 1859. This is a good instance how the Jewish
  hostility, which pursued St. Paul through life, had not quite died
  out three centuries later. Epiphanius was born about A.D. 310. He
  wrote his work on Early Heresies about A.D. 375, calling it
  _Panarion_, or, as he himself explains in his introductory
  epistle, the Medicine Chest, full of remedies against the bite of
  the Old Serpent. Epiphanius must have had a great store of early
  literature at his command which has now completely perished. See a
  long and critical account of him and his writings, written by Dr.
  R. A. Lipsius, in the _Dict. Christ. Biog._, vol. ii.

St. Paul and his parents might seem to an outsider mere Hellenists,
but their Galilean origin and training enabled them to retain the
intenser Judaism which qualified the Apostle to describe himself as
not only of the stock of Israel, but as a Hebrew of the Hebrews.

St. Paul's more immediate family connexions have also some light
thrown upon them in the New Testament. We learn, for instance, from
Acts xxiii. 16, that he had a married sister, who probably lived at
Jerusalem, and may have been even a convert to Christianity; for we
are told that her son, having heard of the Jewish plot to murder the
Apostle, at once reported it to St. Paul himself, who thereupon put
his nephew into communication with the chief captain in whose custody
he lay. While again, in Romans xvi. 7, 11, he sends salutations to
Andronicus, Junias, and Herodion, his kinsmen, who were residents in
Rome; and in verse 21 of the same chapter joins Lucius and Jason and
Sosipater, his kinsmen, with himself in the Christian wishes for the
welfare of the Roman Church, with which he closes the Epistle. It is
said, indeed, that this may mean simply that these men were Jews, and
that St. Paul regarded all Jews as his kinsmen. But this notion is
excluded by the form of the twenty-first verse, where he first sends
greetings from Timothy, whom St. Paul dearly loved, and who was a
circumcised Jew, not a proselyte merely, but a true Jew, on his
mother's side, at least; and then the Apostle proceeds to name the
persons whom he designates his kinsmen. St. Paul evidently belonged to
a family of some position in the Jewish world, whose ramifications
were dispersed into very distant quarters of the empire. Every scrap
of information which we can gain concerning the early life and
associations of such a man is very precious; we may therefore point
out that we can even get a glimpse of the friends and acquaintances of
his earliest days. Barnabas the Levite was of Cyprus, an island only
seventy miles distant from Tarsus. In all probability Barnabas may
have resorted to the Jewish schools of Tarsus, or may have had some
other connexions with the Jewish colony of that city. Some such early
friendship may have been the link which bound Paul to Barnabas and
enabled the latter to stand sponsor for the newly converted Saul when
the Jerusalem Church was yet naturally suspicious of him. "And when he
was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples:
and they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple.
But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles" (Acts ix. 26,
27). This ancient friendship enabled Barnabas to pursue the Apostle
with those offices of consolation which his nascent faith demanded. He
knew Saul's boyhood haunts, and therefore it is we read in Acts xi. 25
that "Barnabas went forth to Tarsus to seek for Saul" when a multitude
of the Gentiles began to pour into the Church of Antioch. Barnabas
knew his old friend's vigorous, enthusiastic character, his genius,
his power of adaptation, and therefore he brought him back to Antioch,
where for a whole year they were joined in one holy brotherhood of
devout and successful labour for their Master. The friendships and
love of boyhood and of youth received a new consecration and were
impressed with a loftier ideal from the example of Saul and of

Then again there are other friends of his youth to whom he refers.
Timothy's family lived at Lystra, and Lystra was directly connected
with Tarsus by a great road which ran straight from Tarsus to Ephesus,
offering means for that frequent communication in which the Jews ever
delighted. St. Paul's earliest memories carried him back to the devout
atmosphere of the pious Jewish family at Lystra, which he had long
known, where Lois the grandmother and Eunice the mother had laid the
foundations of that spiritual life which under St. Paul's own later
teaching flourished so wondrously in the life of Timothy.[3] Let us
pass on, however, to a period of later development. St. Paul's
earliest teaching at first was doubtless that of the home. As with
Timothy so with the Apostle; his earliest religious teacher was
doubtless his mother, who from his infancy imbued him with the great
rudimentary truths which lie at the basis of both the Jewish and the
Christian faith. His father too took his share. He was a Pharisee, and
would be anxious to fulfil every jot and tittle of the law and every
minute rule which the Jewish doctors had deduced by an attention and a
subtlety concentrated for ages upon the text of the Old Testament. And
one great doctor had laid down, "When a boy begins to speak, his
father ought to talk with him in the sacred language, and to teach him
the law"; a rule which would exactly fall in with his father's natural
inclination.[4] He was a Hebrew of the Hebrews, though dwelling among
Hellenists. He prided himself on speaking the Hebrew language alone,
and he therefore would take the greatest pains that the future
Apostle's earliest teachings should be in that same sacred tongue,
giving him from boyhood that command over Hebrew and its dialects
which he afterwards turned to the best of uses.

  [3] See 2 Tim. i. 5, and iii. 14, 15. It is evident that St.
  Paul's language implies an acquaintance with Timothy's family of
  very long standing.

  [4] Schœttgen's _Hor. Hebr._, vol. i., p. 89; Lewin's _St.
  Paul_, vol. i., p. 7.

At five years old Jewish children of parents like St. Paul's advanced
to the direct study of the law under the guidance of some doctor,
whose school they daily attended, as another rabbi had expressly
enacted, "At five years old a boy should apply himself to the study of
Holy Scripture." Between five and thirteen Saul was certainly educated
at Tarsus, during which period his whole attention was concentrated
upon sacred learning and upon mechanical or industrial training. It
was at this period of his life that St. Paul must have learned the
trade of tentmaking, which during the last thirty years of his life
stood him in such good stead, rendering him independent of all
external aid so far as his bodily wants were concerned. A question has
often been raised as to the social position of St. Paul's family; and
people, bringing their Western ideas with them, have thought that the
manual trade which he was taught betokened their humble rank. But this
is quite a mistake. St. Paul's family must have occupied at least a
fairly comfortable position, when they were able to send a member of
their house to Jerusalem to be taught in the most celebrated
rabbinical school of the time. But it was the law of that school--and
a very useful law it was too--that every Jew, and especially every
teacher, should possess a trade by which he might be supported did
necessity call for it. It was a common proverb among the Jews at that
time that "He who taught not his son a trade taught him to be a
thief." "It is incumbent on the father to circumcise his son, to
redeem him, to teach him the law, and to teach him some occupation,
for, as Rabbi Judah saith, whosoever teacheth not his son to do some
work is as if he taught him robbery." "Rabbin Gamaliel saith, He that
hath a trade in his hand, to what is he like? He is like to a vineyard
that is fenced." Such was the authoritative teaching of the schools,
and Jewish practice was in accordance therewith. Some of the most
celebrated rabbis of that time were masters of a mechanical art or
trade. The Vice-president of the Sanhedrin was a merchant for four
years, and then devoted himself to the study of the law. One rabbi was
a shoemaker; Rabbi Juda, the great Cabbalist, was a tailor; Rabbi Jose
was brought up as a tanner; another rabbi as a baker, and yet another
as a carpenter.[5] And so as a preparation for the office and life
work to which his father had destined him, St. Paul during his earlier
years was taught one of the common trades of Tarsus, which consisted
in making tents either out of the hair or the skin of the Angora goats
which browsed over the hills of central Asia Minor. It was a trade
that was common among Jews. Aquila and his wife Priscilla were
tentmakers, and therefore St. Paul united himself to them and wrought
at his trade in their company at Corinth (Acts xviii. 3). It has often
been asserted that at this period of his life St. Paul must have
studied Greek philosophy and literature, and men have pointed to his
quotations from the Greek poets Aratus, Epimenides, and Menander to
prove the attention which the Apostle must have bestowed upon
them.[6] Tarsus was certainly one of the great universities of that
age, ranking in the first place along with Athens and Alexandria. So
great was its fame that the Roman emperors even were wont to go to
Tarsus to look for tutors to instruct their sons. But Tarsus was at
the very same time one of the most morally degraded spots within the
bounds of the Roman world, and it is not at all likely that a strict
Hebrew, a stern Pharisee, would have allowed his son to encounter the
moral taint involved in freely mixing with such a degraded people and
in the free study of a literature permeated through and through with
sensuality and idolatry. St. Paul doubtless at this early period of
his life gained that colloquial knowledge of Greek which was every day
becoming more and more necessary for the ordinary purposes of secular
life all over the Roman Empire, even in the most backward parts of
Palestine.[7] But it is not likely that his parents would have
sanctioned his attendance at the lectures on philosophy and poetry
delivered at the University of Tarsus, where he would have been
initiated into all the abominations of paganism in a style most
attractive to human nature.

  [5] Josephus, _Antiqq._, XVIII., ix., 1, says of certain Jews of
  Babylon, "Now there were two men, Asineus and Anileus, brethren to
  one another. They were destitute of a father, and their mother put
  them to learn the art of weaving curtains, it not being esteemed a
  disgrace among them for men to be weavers of cloth." Then we find
  in the New Testament Simon of Joppa was a tanner, Aquila a
  tentmaker, the apostles fishermen, and our Lord a carpenter. See a
  long note on this subject by Mr. Lewin in his _Life of St. Paul_,
  vol. i., p. 8. Massutius, a Jesuit commentator on St. Paul's life,
  lib. i., cap. iii., notices that Charlemagne, according to his
  biographer Eginhard, would have his sons and daughters taught some
  mechanical trade.

  [6] See Acts xvii. 28; Titus i. 12; 1 Cor. xv. 33.

  [7] See an article on "Greek the Language of Galilee in the time
  of Christ," by the Rev. Dr. Abbott, Professor of Hebrew in the
  University of Dublin, in his _Essays chiefly on the Original Texts
  of the Old and New Testaments_. London, 1891.

At thirteen years of age, or thereabouts, young Saul, having now
learned all the sacred knowledge which the local rabbis could teach,
went up to Jerusalem just as our Lord did, to assume the full
obligations of a Jew and to pursue his higher studies at the great
Rabbinical University of Jerusalem. To put it in modern language, Saul
went up to Jerusalem to be confirmed and admitted to the full
privileges and complete obligations of the Levitical Law, and he also
went up to enter college. St. Paul himself describes the period of
life on which he now entered as that in which he was brought up at the
feet of Gamaliel. We have already touched in a prior volume upon the
subject of Gamaliel's history and his relation to Christianity, but
here it is necessary to say something of him as a teacher, in which
capacity he laid the foundations of modes of thought and reasoning,
the influence of which moulded St. Paul's whole soul and can be traced
all through St. Paul's Epistles.

Gamaliel is an undoubtedly historical personage. The introduction of
him in the Acts of the Apostles is simply another instance of that
marvellous historical accuracy which every fresh investigation and
discovery show to be a distinguishing feature of this book. The Jewish
Talmud was not committed to writing for more than four centuries after
Gamaliel's time,[8] and yet it presents Gamaliel to us in exactly the
same light as the inspired record does, telling us that "with the
death of Gamaliel I. the reverence for the Divine law ceased, and the
observance of purity and abstinence departed." Gamaliel came of a
family distinguished in Jewish history both before and after his own
time. He was of the royal House of David, and possessed in this way
great historical claims upon the respect of the nation. His
grandfather Hillel and his father Simeon were celebrated teachers and
expounders of the law. His grandfather had founded indeed one of the
leading schools of interpretation then favoured by the rabbis. His
father Simeon is said by some to have been the aged man who took up
the infant Christ in his arms and blessed God for His revealed
salvation in the words of the _Nunc Dimittis_; while, as for Gamaliel
himself, his teaching was marked by wisdom, prudence, liberality, and
spiritual depth so far as such qualities could exist in a professor of
rabbinical learning. Gamaliel was a friend and contemporary of Philo,
and this fact alone must have imported an element of liberality into
his teaching. Philo was a widely read scholar who strove to unite the
philosophy of Greece to the religion of Palestine, and Philo's ideas
must have permeated more or less into some at least of the schools of
Jerusalem, so that, though St. Paul may not have come in contact with
Greek literature in Tarsus, he may very probably have learned much
about it in a Judaised, purified, spiritualised shape in Jerusalem.
But the influence exercised on St. Paul by Gamaliel and through him by
Philo, or men of his school, can be traced in other respects.[9]

  [8] Basnage, in his _History of the Jews_, translated by Thomas
  Taylor, Book III., ch. vi., p. 168 (London, 1708), states, "It is
  agreed by the generality of Jewish and Christian doctors that the
  Talmud was completed in the 505th year of the Christian Æra." Cf.
  Serarius, _De Rabbinis_, Lib. I., c. ix., p. 251; Bartolocci,
  _Bibl. Rabbin._, t. i., p. 488, t. iii., p. 359; Morinus, _Exerc.
  Bibl._, Lib. II., ex. 6, c. ii. and iii., p. 294. Schaff's
  _Encyclopædia of Historical Theology_, vol. iii., pp. 2292-96, has
  a good article on the Talmud, giving a long list of authorities to
  which reference may be made by any one interested in this subject.

  [9] Philo is the subject of a very long and learned article by Dr.
  Edersheim in Smith's _Dict. Christ. Biog._, vol. iv., with which
  may be compared a shorter article in Schaff's _Encyclopædia of
  Hist. Theol._, vol. ii.

The teaching of Gamaliel was as spiritual, I have said, as rabbinical
teaching could have been; but this is not saying very much from the
Christian point of view. The schools at Jerusalem in the time of
Gamaliel were wholly engaged in studies of the most wearisome, narrow,
petty, technical kind. Dr. Farrar has illustrated this subject with a
great wealth of learning and examples in the fourth chapter of his
_Life of St. Paul_. The Talmud alone shows this, throwing a fearful
light upon the denunciations of our Lord as regards the Pharisees, for
it devotes a whole treatise to washings of the hands, and another to
the proper method of killing fowls. The Pharisaic section of the Jews
held, indeed, that there were two hundred and forty-eight commandments
and three hundred and sixty-five prohibitions involved in the Jewish
Law, all of them equally binding, and all of them so searching that if
only one solitary Jew could be found who for one day kept them all and
transgressed in no one direction, then the captivity of God's people
would cease and the Messiah would appear.[10]

  [10] These facts throw much light upon our Lord's words in Matt.
  xv. 1-9 and xxii. 34-40.

I am obliged to pass over this point somewhat rapidly, and yet it is a
most important one if we desire to know what kind of training the
Apostle received; for, no matter how God's grace may descend and the
Divine Spirit may change the main directions of a man's life, he never
quite recovers himself from the effects of his early teaching. Dr.
Farrar has bestowed much time and labour on this point. The following
brief extract from his eloquent words will give a vivid idea of the
endless puerilities, the infinite questions of pettiest, most minute,
and most subtle bearing with which the time of St. Paul and his
fellow-students must have been taken up, and which must have made him
bitterly feel in the depths of his inmost being that, though the law
may have been originally intended as a source of life, it had been
certainly changed as regards his own particular case, and had become
unto him an occasion of death.

"Moreover, was there not mingled with all this nominal adoration of
the Law a deeply seated hypocrisy, so deep that it was in a great
measure unconscious? Even before the days of Christ the rabbis had
learnt the art of straining out gnats and swallowing camels. They had
long learnt to nullify what they professed to defend. The ingenuity of
Hillel was quite capable of getting rid of any Mosaic regulation which
had been found practically burdensome. Pharisees and Sadducees alike
had managed to set aside in their own favour, by the devices of the
mixtures, all that was disagreeable to themselves in the Sabbath
scrupulosity.[11] The fundamental institution of the Sabbatic year had
been stultified by the mere legal fiction of the Prosbol.[12] Teachers
who were on the high road to a casuistry which could construct rules
out of every superfluous particle, had found it easy to win credit for
ingenuity by elaborating prescriptions to which Moses would have
listened in mute astonishment. If there be one thing more definitely
laid down in the Law than another, it is the uncleanness of creeping
things; yet the Talmud assures us that 'no one is appointed a member
of the Sanhedrin who does not possess sufficient ingenuity to prove
from the written Law that a creeping thing is ceremonially clean'; and
that there was an unimpeachable disciple at Jabne who could adduce one
hundred and fifty arguments in favour of the ceremonial cleanness of
creeping things. Sophistry like this was at work even in the days when
the young student of Tarsus sat at the feet of Gamaliel; and can we
imagine any period of his life when he would not have been wearied by
a system at once so meaningless, so stringent, and so insincere?"

  [11] The rabbinical device of mixtures is fully explained in
  Buxtorf's _Lexicon_, col. 1657, Ed. Basil (1639), or in Kitto's
  _Biblical Encyclopædia_, under the article "Sabbath." The Talmud
  had a special treatise called _Tractatus Mixtorum_, which taught
  how, for instance, dwellings might be mixed or mingled so as to
  avoid technical breaches of the Sabbatical law. Planks were laid
  across intervening residences, so that houses at a very great
  distance might be brought into touch and connexion, and thus
  regarded as one common dwelling for a number of people who wished
  for a common feast on the Sabbath. This was called _Mixtio
  conclavium_. It was simply one of those wretched devices to which
  casuistry always leads; something like the rules for banquets on
  fast days, which we find in Lacroix, _Manners of the Middle Ages_,
  p. 170, where a most sumptuous Episcopal banquet is described. It
  was given on a fast day, therefore no flesh is included; but its
  place was amply supplied by rare fish and other dainties: see G.
  T. Stokes, _Ireland and Anglo-Norman Church_, p. 143.

  [12] Prosbol is simply a transliteration into Hebrew of two Greek
  words, πρὸς βουλήν. The Jewish Law enacted a cancelling of all
  debts in the Sabbatic year on the part of Jews towards their
  brethren. This enactment was found to hinder commerce about the
  time of Hillel--_i.e._, 75 years B.C. The rich would not lend to
  the poor on account of the Sabbatical year. So the doctors devised
  the Prosbol, which was a declaration to the effect that the
  Sabbatical year was not to affect the debt. There was a legal
  fiction invented which made void the law. The creditor said to the
  debtor, "In accordance with the Sabbatical year I remit thee the
  debt," and then the debtor replied, "Nevertheless I wish to pay
  it," and then the creditor was free from the obligation of Deut.

These words are true, thoroughly true, in their extremest sense.
Casuistry is at all times a dangerous weapon with which to play, a
dangerous science upon which to concentrate one's attention. The mind
is so pleased with the fascination of the precipice that one is
perpetually tempted to see how near an approach can be made without a
catastrophe, and then the catastrophe happens when it is least
expected. But when the casuist's attention is concentrated upon one
volume like the law of Moses, interpreted in the thousand methods and
combinations open to the luxuriant imagination of the East, then
indeed the danger is infinitely increased, and we cease to wonder at
the vivid, burning, scorching denunciations of the Lord as He
proclaimed the sin of those who enacted that "Whosoever shall swear by
the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of
the temple, he is a debtor." St. Paul's whole time must have been
taken up in the school of Gamaliel with an endless study of such
casuistical trifles; and yet that period of his life left marks which
we can clearly trace throughout his writings. The method, for
instance, in which St. Paul quotes the Old Testament is thoroughly
rabbinical. It was derived from the rules prevalent in the Jewish
schools, and therefore, though it may seem to us at times forced and
unnatural, must have appeared to St. Paul and to the men of his time
absolutely conclusive. When reading the Scriptures we Westerns forget
the great difference between Orientals and the nations of Western
Europe. Aristotle and his logic and his logical methods, with major
and minor premises and conclusions following therefrom, absolutely
dominate our thoughts. The Easterns knew nothing of Aristotle, and his
methods availed nothing to their minds. They argued in quite a
different style, and used a logic which he would have simply scorned.
Analogy, allegory, illustration, form the staple elements of Eastern
logic, and in their use St. Paul was elaborately trained in Gamaliel's
classes, and of their use his writings furnish abundant examples; the
most notable of which will be found in his allegorical interpretation
of the events of the wilderness journey of Israel in 1 Corinthians x.
1-4, where the pillar of cloud, and the passage of the Red Sea, and
the manna, and the smitten rock become the emblems and types of the
Christian Sacraments; and again, in St. Paul's mystical explanation of
Galatians iv. 21-31, where Hagar and Sarah are represented as typical
of the two covenants, the old covenant leading to spiritual bondage
and the new introducing to gospel freedom.[13]

  [13] The parallel between Hagar and Sarah is drawn out at full
  length after the rabbinical method in Basnage's _History of the
  Jews_ (Taylor's translation), book iii., ch. 22; in Lightfoot's
  _Galatians_, pp. 178, 179, 189-99, and Farrar's _St. Paul_, ch.
  iii. Philo in his writings uses the very same illustration.
  Perhaps it may be well to add the concluding words of Bishop
  Lightfoot when discussing on p. 197 of his _Galatians_, the
  similar use made by St. Paul and by Philo of this illustration of
  Hagar: "At the same time we need not fear to allow that St. Paul's
  method of teaching here is coloured by his early education in the
  rabbinical schools. It were as unreasonable to stake the Apostle's
  inspiration on the turn of a metaphor or the character of an
  illustration or the form of an argument, as on purity of diction.
  No one now thinks of maintaining that the language of the inspired
  writers reaches the classical standard of correctness and
  elegance, though at one time it was held almost a heresy to deny
  this. 'A treasure contained in earthen vessels,' 'strength made
  perfect in weakness,' 'rudeness in speech, yet not in knowledge,'
  such is the far nobler conception of inspired teaching, which we
  may gather from the Apostle's own language. And this language we
  should do well to bear in mind. But, on the other hand it were
  mere dogmatism to set up the intellectual standard of our own age
  or country as an infallible rule. The power of allegory has been
  differently felt in different ages, as it is differently felt at
  any one time by diverse nations. Analogy, allegory, metaphor--by
  what boundaries are these separated the one from the other? What
  is true or false, correct or incorrect, as an analogy or an
  allegory? What argumentative force must be assigned to either? We
  should at least be prepared with an answer to these questions
  before we venture to sit in judgment on any individual case."

These, indeed, are the most notable examples of St. Paul's method of
exegesis derived from the school of Gamaliel, but there are
numberless others scattered all through his writings. If we view them
through Western spectacles, we shall be disappointed and miss their
force; but if we view them sympathetically, if we remember that the
Jews quoted and studied the Old Testament to find illustrations of
their own ideas rather than proofs in our sense of the word, studied
them as an enthusiastic Shakespeare or Tennyson or Wordsworth student
pores over his favourite author to find parallels which others, who
are less bewitched, find very slight and very dubious indeed,[14] then
we shall come to see how it is that St. Paul quotes an illustration of
his doctrine of justification by faith from Habakkuk ii. 4--"The soul
of the proud man is not upright, but the just man shall live by his
steadfastness"; a passage which originally applied to the Chaldeans
and the Jews, predicting that the former should enjoy no stable
prosperity, but that the Jews, ideally represented as the just or
upright man, should live securely because of their fidelity;[15] and
can find an allusion to the resurrection of Christ in "the sure
mercies of David," which God had promised to give His people in the
third verse of the fifty-fifth of Isaiah.[16]

  [14] The latest instance of this method which I have noticed is
  _Illustrations of Tennyson_, by J. C. Collins, reviewed by the
  Dean of Armagh in the January number of the _Bookman_, where a
  number of such parallelisms are quoted which seem to me rather

  [15] Bishop Lightfoot, on Galatians iii. 11, says of this verse,
  "In its original context the passage has reference to the temporal
  calamities inflicted by the Chaldean invasion. Here a spiritual
  meaning and general application are given to words referring
  primarily to special external incidents." See also Farrar on St.
  Paul's method of scriptural quotation, in his _Life of St. Paul_,
  ch. iii.

  [16] See St. Paul's address to the Jews of the Pisidian Antioch in
  Acts xiii. 34. Other specimens of the same rabbinical method used
  by St. Paul will be found in Rom. iii., iv., and ix. 33; 1 Cor.
  ix. Eph. iv. 8.

Rabbinical learning, Hebrew discipline, Greek experience and life,
these conspired together with natural impulse and character to frame
and form and mould a man who must make his mark upon the world at
large in whatever direction he chooses for his walk in life. It will
now be our duty to show what were the earliest results of this very
varied education.[17]

  [17] The great leaders in the divine struggle for righteousness,
  in every great onward movement on behalf of truth have always been
  men of this varied training. Moses, David, Elijah, Ezra, Saul of
  Tarsus, were great leaders of thought and action and they were all
  men whose education had been developed in very various schools.
  They were not men of books merely, nor men of action alone. They
  gained the flexibility of mind, the genuine liberality of thought
  which led them out of the old rucks by experiences gained from
  very opposite directions. The mere man of books may be very
  narrow; the practical man, whose knowledge is limited to every day
  affairs and whose horizon is bounded by to-morrow, is often an
  unthinking bigot. A man trained like Moses, or David, or Saul is
  the true leader of men for his mind is trained to receive truths
  from every quarter.



     "But Saul laid waste the church, entering into every house, and
     haling men and women committed them to prison."--ACTS viii. 3.

     "But Saul, yet breathing threatening and slaughter against the
     disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and asked of
     him letters to Damascus unto the synagogues, that if he found any
     that were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them
     bound to Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, it came to pass that he
     drew nigh unto Damascus: and suddenly there shone round about him
     a light out of heaven: and he fell upon the earth, and heard a
     voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me? And
     he said, Who art thou, Lord? And He said, I am Jesus whom thou
     persecutest: but rise, and enter into the city, and it shall be
     told thee what thou must do."--ACTS ix. 1-6.

We have in the last chapter traced the course of St. Paul's life as we
know it from his own reminiscences, from hints in Holy Scripture, and
from Jewish history and customs. The Jewish nation is exactly like all
the nations of the East, in one respect at least. They are all
intensely conservative, and though time has necessarily introduced
some modifications, yet the course of education, and the force of
prejudice, and the power of custom have in the main remained unchanged
down to the present time. We now proceed to view St. Paul, not as we
imagine his course of life and education to have been, but as we
follow him in the exhibition of his active powers, in the full play
and swing of that intellectual energy, of those religious aims and
objects for which he had been so long training.

St. Paul at his first appearance upon the stage of Christian history,
upon the occasion of St. Stephen's martyrdom, had arrived at the full
stature of manhood both in body and in mind. He was then the young man
Saul; an expression which enables us to fix with some approach to
accuracy the time of his birth. St. Paul's contemporary Philo in one
of his works divides man's life into seven periods, the fourth of
which is young manhood, which he assigns to the years between
twenty-one and twenty-eight. Roughly speaking, and without attempting
any fine-drawn distinctions for which we have not sufficient material,
we may say that at the martyrdom of St. Stephen St. Paul was about
thirty years of age, or some ten years or thereabouts junior to our
Lord as His years would have been numbered according to those of the
sons of men. One circumstance, indeed, would seem to indicate that St.
Paul must have been then over and above the exact line of thirty. It
is urged, and that upon the ground of St. Paul's own language, that he
was a member of the Sanhedrin. In the twenty-sixth chapter, defending
himself before King Agrippa, St. Paul described his own course of
action prior to his conversion as one of bitterest hostility to the
Christian cause: "I both shut up many of the saints in prisons, having
received authority from the chief priests, _and when they were put to
death, I gave my vote against them_"; an expression which clearly
indicates that he was a member of a body and possessed a vote in an
assembly which determined questions of life and death, and that could
have been nothing else than the Sanhedrin, into which no one was
admitted before he had completed thirty years. St. Paul, then, when he
is first introduced to our notice, comes before us as a full-grown
man and a well-trained, carefully educated, thoroughly disciplined
rabbinical scholar, whose prejudices were naturally excited against
the new Galilean sect, and who had given public expression to his
feelings by taking decided steps in opposition to its progress. The
sacred narrative now sets before us (i) the Conduct of St. Paul in his
unconverted state, (ii) his Mission, (iii) his Journey, and (iv) his
Conversion. Let us take the many details and circumstances connected
with this passage under these four divisions.

I. _The Conduct of Saul._ Here we have a picture of St. Paul in his
unconverted state: "Saul, yet breathing threatening and slaughter
against the disciples of the Lord." This description is amply borne
out by St. Paul himself, in which he even enlarges and gives us
additional touches of the intensity of his antichristian hate. His
ignorant zeal at this period seems to have printed itself deep upon
memory's record. There are no less than at least seven different
notices in the Acts or scattered through the Epistles, due to his own
tongue or pen, and dealing directly with his conduct as a persecutor.
No matter how he rejoiced in the fulness and blessedness of Christ's
pardon, no matter how he experienced the power and working of God's
Holy Spirit, St. Paul never could forget the intense hatred with which
he had originally followed the disciples of the Master. Let us note
them, for they all bear out, expand, and explain the statement of the
passage we are now considering.

In his address to the Jews of Jerusalem as recorded in Acts xxii. he
appeals to his former conduct as an evidence of his sincerity. In
verses 4 and 5 he says, "I persecuted this Way unto the death, binding
and delivering into prisons both men and women. As also the high
priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from
whom also I received letters unto the brethren,[18] and journeyed to
Damascus, to bring them also which were there unto Jerusalem in bonds,
for to be punished." In the same discourse he recurs a second time to
this topic; for, telling his audience of the vision granted to him in
the temple, he says, verse 19, "And I said, Lord, they themselves know
that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on
Thee: and when the blood of Stephen Thy witness was shed, I also was
standing by, and consenting, and keeping the garments of them that
slew him." St. Paul dwells upon the same topic in the twenty-sixth
chapter, when addressing King Agrippa in verses 9-11, a passage
already quoted in part: "I verily thought with myself, that I ought to
do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And this I
also did in Jerusalem: and I both shut up many of the saints in
prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, and when
they were put to death, I gave my vote against them. And punishing
them oftentimes in all the synagogues, I strove to make them
blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them
even unto foreign cities." It is the same in his Epistles. In four
different places does he refer to his conduct as a persecutor--in 1
Cor. xv. 9; Gal. i. 13; Phil. iii. 6; and 1 Tim. i. 13; while again in
the chapter now under consideration, the ninth of Acts, we find that
the Jews of the synagogue in Damascus, who were listening to St.
Paul's earliest outburst of Christian zeal, asked, "Is not this he
that in Jerusalem made havock of them which called on this name? and
he had come hither for this intent, that he might bring them bound
before the chief priests"; using the very same word "making havock" as
St. Paul himself uses in the first of Galatians, which in Greek is
very strong, expressing a course of action accompanied with fire and
blood and murder such as occurs when a city is taken by storm.

  [18] What an interesting anticipation of Christian times do we
  find in this passage. "The estate of the elders" is the Presbytery
  in the original Greek, and the words "the brethren" by which St.
  Paul refers to his unconverted fellow-countrymen are an
  anticipation of the expression he always uses for the Christian
  believers. Even in these little details Christianity is but an
  expansion of Judaism, as, in another direction, the Catacombs of
  Rome and the ornamentation used therein were all derived from the
  customs of the Jewish colony in Rome long before the time of
  Christ. See a treatise by Schurer, called _Die Gemeindeverfassung
  der Juden in Rom in der Kaiserzeit_, p. 13 (Leipzig, 1879), where
  that learned writer points out the continuity between Judaism in
  Rome and early Christianity.

Now these passages have been thus set forth at length because they add
many details to the bare statement of Acts ix., giving us a glimpse
into those four or five dark and bloody years, the thought of which
henceforth weighed so heavily upon the Apostle's mind and memory. Just
let us notice these additional touches. He shut up in prison many of
the saints, both men and women, and that in Jerusalem before he went
to Damascus at all. He scourged the disciples in every synagogue,
meaning doubtless that he superintended the punishment, as it was the
duty of the Chazan, the minister or attendant of the synagogue, to
scourge the condemned, and thus strove to make them blaspheme Christ.
He voted for the execution of the disciples when he acted as a member
of the Sanhedrin. And lastly he followed the disciples and persecuted
them in foreign cities. We gain in this way a much fuller idea of the
young enthusiast's persecuting zeal than usually is formed from the
words "Saul yet breathing threatening and slaughter against the
disciples of the Lord," which seem to set forth Saul as roused to wild
and savage excitement by St. Stephen's death, and then continuing that
course in the city of Jerusalem for a very brief period. Whereas, on
the contrary, St. Paul's fuller statements, when combined, represent
him as pursuing a course of steady, systematic, and cruel repression,
which St. Paul largely helped to inaugurate, but which continued to
exist as long as the Jews had the power to inflict corporal
punishments and death on the members of their own nation. He visited
all the synagogues in Jerusalem and throughout Palestine, scourging
and imprisoning. He strove--and this is, again, another lifelike
touch,--to compel the disciples to blaspheme the name of Christ in the
same manner as the Romans were subsequently wont to test Christians by
calling upon them to cry anathema to the name of their Master.[19] He
even extended his activity beyond the bounds of the Holy Land, and
that in various directions. The visit to Damascus may not by any means
have been his first journey to a foreign town with thoughts bent on
the work of persecution. He expressly says to Agrippa, "I persecuted
them even unto foreign cities." He may have visited Tarsus, or Lystra,
or the cities of Cyprus or Alexandria itself, urged on by the
consuming fire of his blind, restless zeal, before he entered upon the
journey to Damascus, destined to be the last undertaken in opposition
to Jesus Christ. When we thus strive to realise the facts of the case,
we shall see that the scenes of blood and torture and death, the
ruined homes, the tears, the heartbreaking separations which the young
man Saul had caused in his blind zeal for the law, and which are
briefly summed up in the words "he made havock of the Church," were
quite sufficient to account for that profound impression of his own
unworthiness and of God's great mercy towards him which he ever
cherished to his dying day.[20]

  [19] St. Paul, indeed, in his persecuting days may have been the
  inventor of the test, which seems to have consisted in a
  declaration that Jesus was not the Christ, but an impostor. We
  find a reference to the Jewish custom of blaspheming the name of
  Jesus in the Epistle of James (ii. 6, 7): "Do not the rich oppress
  you, and themselves drag you before the judgment-seats? Do not
  they blaspheme the honourable name by the which ye are called?"
  with which may be compared St. Paul's words in 1 Cor. xii. 3: "No
  man speaking in the Spirit of God saith, Jesus is anathema." The
  same custom continued in the second century, as we learn from
  frequent notices in Justin Martyr's _Dialogue_ with Trypho the
  Jew, as in the following quotations: ch. xvi., "cursing in your
  synagogues those that believe on Christ"; in ch. xlvii. he
  enumerates amongst those who shall not be saved "those who have
  anathematised and do anathematise this very Christ in the
  synagogues"; and in ch. cxxxvii. he exhorts the Jews, "Assent,
  therefore, and pour no ridicule on the Son of God; obey not the
  Pharisaic teachers, and scoff not at the King of Israel, as the
  rulers of your synagogues teach you to do after your prayers." The
  Romans, as I have said, early borrowed the custom from the Jews.
  They strove to compel the Christians to blaspheme, as we see from
  Pliny's well-known epistle to Trajan in his _Epistles_, book x.,
  97, where he describes certain persons brought before him as
  "invoking the gods, worshipping the emperor's statue, and reviling
  the name of Christ, whereas there is no forcing those who are
  really Christians into any of these compliances."

  [20] St. Paul, in 1 Tim. i. 15, says, "Faithful is the saying, and
  worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world
  to save sinners; of whom I am chief." This verse is of ancient and
  of very modern interest too. It shows that to the last St. Paul
  retained the keenest sense of his early wickedness. It is of
  present interest because it helps to correct a modern error. There
  are people who object to use the Litany and the Lord's Prayer
  because of the prayers for forgiveness of sins and the occurrence
  of such expressions as "Have mercy upon us, miserable sinners."
  Their argument is, that believers have been washed from all their
  sins, and therefore should not describe themselves as miserable
  sinners. St. Paul, however, saw no inconsistency between God's
  free forgiving love and his own humility in designating himself
  the chief of sinners. God may have cast all our sins behind His
  back; but, viewing the matter from the human side, it is well,
  nay, it is absolutely necessary, if spiritual pride is to be
  hindered in its rapid growth, for us to cherish a remembrance of
  the sins and backslidings of other days. The greatest saints, the
  richest spiritual teachers have ever felt the necessity of it. St.
  Augustine in his _Confessions_ mingles perpetual reminiscences of
  his own wickedness with his assured sense of God's mercy. Hooker
  deals in his own profound style with such objection to the Litany
  in the Fifth Book of his _Ecclesiastical Polity_, ch. xlvii.,
  where he writes, replying to the objection that the expressions of
  the Litany implying fear of God do not become God's saints: "The
  knowledge of our own unworthiness is not without belief in the
  merits of Christ. With that true fear which the one causeth there
  is coupled true boldness, and encouragement drawn from the other.
  The very silence which our own unworthiness putteth us unto doth
  itself make request for us, and that in the consequence of His
  grace. Looking inward we are stricken dumb, looking upward we
  speak and prevail. O happy mixture, wherein things contrary do so
  qualify and correct the danger of the other's excess, that neither
  boldness can make us presume as long as we are kept under with the
  sense of our own wretchedness; nor while we trust in the mercy of
  God through Jesus Christ, fear be able to tyrannise over us! As
  therefore our fear excludeth not that boldness which becometh
  saints; so if their _familiarity_ with God (referring to his
  opponents) do not savour of this fear, it draweth too near that
  irreverent confidence wherewith true humility can never stand."
  Bishop Jeremy Taylor understood the bearing of St. Paul's view on
  personal religion. In his _Holy Living_, in the chapter on
  Humility, he teaches those who seek that grace thus: "Every day
  call to mind some one of thy foulest sins, or the most shameful of
  thy disgraces, or the indiscreetest of thy actions, or anything
  that did then most trouble thee, and apply it to the present
  swelling of thy spirit and opinion, and it may help to allay it."

II. _The Mission of Saul._ Again, we notice in this passage that Saul,
having shown his activity in other directions, now turned his
attention to Damascus. There were political circumstances which may
have hitherto hindered him from exercising the same supervision over
the synagogue of Damascus which he had already extended to other
foreign cities. The political history and circumstances of Damascus
at this period are indeed rather obscure. The city seems to have been
somewhat of a bone of contention between Herod Antipas, Aretas the
king of Petra, and the Romans. About the time of St. Paul's
conversion, which may be fixed at A.D. 37 or 38, there was a period of
great disturbance in Palestine and Southern Syria. Pontius Pilate was
deposed from his office and sent to Rome for judgment. Vitellius, the
president of the whole Province of Syria, came into Palestine,
changing the high priests, conciliating the Jews, and intervening in
the war which raged between Herod Antipas and Aretas, his
father-in-law. In the course of this last struggle Damascus seems to
have changed its masters, and, while a Roman city till the year 37, it
henceforth became an Arabian city, the property of King Aretas, till
the reign of Nero, when it again returned beneath the Roman sway. Some
one or other, or perhaps all these political circumstances combined
may have hitherto prevented the Sanhedrin from taking active measures
against the disciples at Damascus. But now things became settled.
Caiaphas was deposed from the office of high priest upon the departure
of Pontius Pilate. He had been a great friend and ally of Pilate;
Vitellius therefore deprived Caiaphas of his sacred office, appointing
in his stead Jonathan, son of Annas, the high priest. This Jonathan
did not, however, long continue to occupy the position, as he was
deposed by the same Roman magistrate, Vitellius, at the feast of
Pentecost in the very same year, his brother Theophilus being
appointed high priest in his room; so completely was the whole
Levitical hierarchy, the entire Jewish establishment, ruled by the
political officers of the Roman state. This Theophilus continued to
hold the office for five or six years, and it must have been to
Theophilus that Saul applied for letters unto Damascus authorising him
to arrest the adherents of the new religion.[21]

  [21] The references for all these changes are given in Lewin's
  _Fasti_, and in his _Life of St. Paul_, with which Josephus,
  _Antiqq._, XVIII., iv., should be compared.

And now a question here arises, How is it that the high priest could
exercise such powers and arrest his co-religionists in a foreign town?
The answer to this sheds a flood of light upon the state of the Jews
of the Dispersion, as they were called. I have already said a little
on this point, but it demands fuller discussion.[22] The high priest
at Jerusalem was regarded as a kind of head of the whole nation. He
was viewed by the Romans as the Prince of the Jews,[23] with whom they
could formally treat, and by whom they could manage a nation which,
differing from all others in its manners and customs, was scattered
all over the world, and often gave much trouble. Julius Cæsar laid
down the lines on which Jewish privileges and Roman policy were based,
and that half a century before the Christian era. Julius Cæsar had
been greatly assisted in his Alexandrian war by the Jewish high priest
Hyrcanus, so he issued an edict in the year 47 B.C., which, after
reciting the services of Hyrcanus, proceeds thus, "I command that
Hyrcanus and his children do retain all the rights of the high priest,
whether established by law or accorded by courtesy; and if hereafter
any question arise touching the Jewish polity, I desire that the
determination thereof be referred to him"; an edict which, confirmed
as it was again and again, not only by Julius Cæsar, but by several
subsequent emperors, gave the high priest the fullest jurisdiction
over the Jews, wherever they dwelt, in things pertaining to their own
religion.[24] It was therefore in strictest accord with Roman law and
custom that, when Saul wished to arrest members of the synagogue at
Damascus, he should make application to the high priest Theophilus for
a warrant enabling him to effect his purpose.

  [22] See vol. i., pp. 174-6, 271.

  [23] The decree of Julius Cæsar, upon which the Jewish privileges
  were built, expressly calls the high priest the ethnarch
  (ἐθνάρχης), or ruler, of the Jews. See Josephus, _Antiqq._,
  XIV., x., 3.

  [24] This point is worked out at great length and with a multitude
  of references in Lewin's _Life of St. Paul_, ch. iv., vol. i., pp.
  44-7. Josephus, in his _Antiquities_, book xiv., ch. x., gives the
  words of Cæsar's decree. In ch. viii. of the same book he
  describes the warlike assistance lent by the Jews to Julius Cæsar
  in his Egyptian campaign.

The description, too, given of the disciples in this passage is very
noteworthy and a striking evidence of the truthfulness of the
narrative. The disciples were the men of "the Way." Saul desired to
bring any of "the Way" found at Damascus to be judged at Jerusalem,
because the Sanhedrin alone possessed the right to pass capital
sentences in matters of religion. The synagogues at Damascus or
anywhere else could flog culprits, and a Jew could get no redress for
any such ill-treatment even if he sought it, which would have not been
at all likely; but if the final sentence of death were to be passed,
the Jerusalem Sanhedrin was the only tribunal competent to entertain
such questions.[25] And the persons he desired to hale before this
awful tribunal were the men of the Way. This was the name by which, in
its earliest and purest day, the Church called itself. In the
nineteenth chapter and ninth verse we read of St. Paul's labours at
Ephesus and the opposition he endured: "But when some were hardened
and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the multitude"; while
again, in his defence before Felix (xxiv. 14), we read, "But this I
confess unto thee, that after the Way which they call a sect, so serve
I the God of our fathers." The Revised translation of the New
Testament has well brought out the force of the original in a manner
that was utterly missed in the Authorised Version, and has emphasized
for us a great truth concerning the early Christians. There was a
certain holy intolerance even about the very name they imposed upon
the earliest Church. It was the Way, the only Way, the Way of Life.
The earliest Christians had a lively recollection of what the Apostles
had heard from the mouth of the Master Himself, "I am the Way, the
Truth, and the Life; no one cometh unto the Father but by Me"; and so,
realising the identity of Christ and His people, realising the
continued presence of Christ in His Church, they designated that
Church by a term which expressed their belief that in it alone was the
road to peace, the sole path of access to God. This name "the Way"
expressed their sense of the importance of the truth. Their's was no
easy-going religion which thought that it made not the slightest
matter what form of belief a man professed. They were awfully in
earnest, because they knew of only one way to God, and that was the
religion and Church of Jesus Christ. Therefore it was that they were
willing to suffer all things rather than that they should lose this
Way, or that others should miss it through their default. The
marvellous, the intense missionary efforts of the primitive Church
find their explanation in this expression, the Way. God had revealed
the Way and had called themselves into it, and their great duty in
life was to make others know the greatness of this salvation; or, as
St. Paul puts it, "Necessity is laid upon me; woe is unto me if I
preach not the gospel."[26]

  [25] I know it is a common opinion that the Jews had no power of
  capital punishment and that the Romans permitted the infliction
  merely of scourgings and such minor penalties. Lightfoot, in his
  _Horæ Hebraicæ_ on Matt. xxvi. 3; John xviii. 31; Acts ix. 2,
  controverts this view in long and learned notes. The Jews
  certainly stated to Pilate, according to John xviii. 31, "It is
  not lawful for us to put any man to death." But then, on the other
  hand, the Sanhedrin put St. Stephen to death, and St. Paul tells
  us that when the saints were put to death he voted against them;
  showing that the Sanhedrin did put many of the disciples to death.
  Lightfoot thinks that the Jews merely wished to throw the odium of
  our Lord's execution upon the Romans, and therefore pleaded their
  own inability to condemn Him for a capital offence, because of the
  particular chamber where the Sanhedrin then sat, where it was
  unlawful to judge a capital crime. The Pharisees, too, joined in
  the attempt to bring about our Lord's death, and their traditions
  made them averse to the shedding of Jewish blood by the Sanhedrin.
  The Sadducees were, however, the dominant party in the year 37,
  and they had no such scruples. They were always of a cruel and
  bloodthirsty disposition and stern in their punishments, as
  Josephus tells us in his _Antiqq._, XX., ix., 1. This was of
  course the natural result of their material philosophy which
  regarded man as devoid of any immortal principle. Lightfoot gives
  instances too (Matt. xxvi. 3) of a priest's daughter burned to
  death and of a man stoned at Lydda even after the destruction of
  the city, showing that the Sanhedrin still contrived to exercise
  capital jurisdiction. The time when Saul set out for Damascus was
  very favourable from political reasons for any new or unusual
  assumptions of authority on the part of the Sanhedrin. Vitellius
  the Prefect was very anxious to be deferential in every way to the
  Jewish authorities. He had just restored the custody of the high
  priest's robes to the Sanhedrin and the priests. This may have
  encouraged them to adopt the fiercest and sternest measures
  against the new sectaries. As for the minor punishment of
  flogging, the synagogues in Holland have been known to exercise it
  so lately as the seventeenth century.

  [26] The Acts of the Apostles in this respect throws an
  interesting light upon the _Teaching of the Twelve Apostles_,
  published a few years ago by Bishop Bryennius, and helps us to fix
  its early date. That important relic of early Christianity never
  speaks of the followers of the new religion as Christians. It
  opens by describing the two ways, the way of Life, which is
  Christianity, and the way of Death. It must therefore have been
  composed when the memory of the Church's earliest designation,
  "the Way," was still fresh. By the time of Aristides (A.D. 125)
  and of Pliny the title "Christians" was the common one both inside
  and outside the Church.

The exclusive claims of Christianity are thus early set forth; and it
was these same exclusive claims which caused Christianity to be so
hated and persecuted by the pagans.[27] The Roman Empire would not
have so bitterly resented the preaching of Christ, if His followers
would have accepted the position with which other religions were
contented. The Roman Empire was not intolerant of new ideas in matters
of religion. Previous to the coming of our Lord the pagans had
welcomed the strange, mystic rites and teaching of Egypt. They
accepted from Persia the curious system and worship of Mithras within
the first century after Christ's crucifixion. And tradition tells that
at least two of the emperors were willing to admit the image of Christ
into the Pantheon, which they had consecrated to the memory of the
great and good.[28] But the Christians would have nothing to say or do
with such partial honours for their Master. Religion for them was
Christ alone or else it was nothing, and that because He alone was the
Way. As there was but one God for them, so there was but one Mediator,
Christ Jesus.

  [27] This sense of the awful importance of Christianity as the Way
  made the Christians enthusiastic and determined in their efforts
  to spread their religion. In the earliest apology or defence of
  Christianity, that of Aristides, which I have fully described in
  the previous volume of this Commentary, we find this fact openly
  avowed and gloried in as in the following passage: "As for their
  servants or handmaids, or their children, if they have any, they
  persuade them to become Christians for the love they have towards
  them; and when they have become so, they call them without
  distinction brethren." A system so broad as to view all religions
  as equally important would never have innate force enough to lead
  a man to become a missionary, and most certainly never would have
  produced a martyr. Christianity really understood is a very broad
  religion; its essential dogmas are very few; but there is a kind
  of breadth in religion now fashionable which the early Christians
  never understood or they would not have acted as they did. Who
  would have throw away his life amid the cruellest tortures if it
  was all the same whether men worshipped Jupiter or Jesus Christ?

  [28] Tertullian, about the year 200, tells us (_Apologet._, ch. v.
  and xxi.) that the Emperor Tiberius, under whom our Lord suffered,
  was so moved by Pilate's report of the miracles and resurrection
  of Christ as to propose a bill to the Senate that Christ should be
  received among the gods of Rome; while, as for Emperor Alexander
  Severus, A.D. 222 to 235, he went even further. In Christ he
  recognised a Divine Being equal with the other gods; and in his
  domestic chapel he placed the bust of Christ along with the images
  of those men whom he regarded as beings of a superior order--of
  Apollonius of Tyana, and Orpheus, and such like. Heliogabalus,
  A.D. 219, is credited with a desire to have blended Christianity
  with the worship of the Sun: see Neander, _Church History_, vol.
  i., pp. 128, 173, Bohn's edition.

III. _Saul's Journey._ "As he journeyed, it came to pass that he drew
nigh unto Damascus." This is the simple record left us in Holy Writ of
this momentous event. A comparison of the sacred record with any of
the numerous lives of St. Paul which have been published will show us
how very different their points of view. The mere human narratives
dwell upon the external features of the scene, enlarge upon the light
which modern discoveries have thrown upon the lines of road which
connected Jerusalem with Southern Syria, become enthusiastic over the
beauty of Damascus as seen by the traveller from Jerusalem, over the
eternal green of the groves and gardens which are still, as of old,
made glad by the waters of Abana and of Pharpar; while the sacred
narrative passes over all external details and marches straight to the
great central fact of the persecutor's conversion. And we find no
fault with this. It is well that the human narratives should enlarge
as they do upon the outward features and circumstances of the
journey, because they thus help us to realise the Acts as a veritable
history that was lived and acted. We are too apt to idealise the
Bible, to think of it as dealing with an unreal world, and to regard
the men and women thereof as beings of another type from ourselves.
Books like Farrar's and Lewin's and Conybeare and Howson's _Lives of
St. Paul_ correct this tendency, and make the Acts of the Apostles
infinitely more interesting by rendering St. Paul's career human and
lifelike and clothing it with the charm of local detail. It is thus
that we can guess at the very road by which the enthusiastic Saul
travelled. The caravans from Egypt to Damascus are intensely
conservative in their routes. In fact, even in our own revolutionary
West trade and commerce preserve in large measure the same routes
to-day as they used two thousand years ago. The great railways of
England, and much more the great main roads, preserve in a large
degree the same directions which the ancient Roman roads observed. In
Ireland, with which I am still better acquainted, I know that the
great roads starting from Dublin preserve in the main the same lines
as in the days of St. Patrick.[29] And so it is, but only to a much
greater degree, in Palestine and throughout the East. The road from
Jerusalem to Jericho preserved in St. Jerome's time, four centuries
later, the same direction and the same character as in our Lord's day,
so that it was then called the Bloody Road, from the frequent
robberies; and thus it is still, for the pilgrims who now go to visit
the Jordan are furnished with a guard of Turkish soldiers to protect
them from the Arab bandits. And to-day, as in the first century, the
caravans from Egypt and Jerusalem to Damascus follow either of two
roads: one which proceeds through Gaza and Ramleh, along the coast,
and then, turning eastward about the borders of Samaria and Galilee,
crosses the Jordan and proceeds through the desert to Damascus--that
is the Egyptian road;[30] while the other, which serves for travellers
from Jerusalem, runs due north from that city and joins the other road
at the entrance to Galilee. This latter was probably the road which
St. Paul took. The distance which he had to traverse is not very
great. One hundred and thirty-six miles separate Jerusalem from
Damascus, a journey which is performed in five or six days by such a
company as Saul had with him. We get a hint, too, of the manner in
which he travelled. He rode probably on a horse or a mule, like modern
travellers on the same road, as we gather from Acts ix. 4 compared
with xxii. 7, passages which represent Saul and his companions as
falling to the earth when the supernatural light flashed upon their
astonished vision.

  [29] See Petrie's "Tara" in the _Transactions of the Royal Irish
  Academy_, t. xviii., and _Ireland and the Celtic Church_, by G. T.
  Stokes, pp. 80, 81, for illustrations of this point.

  [30] See Geikie's _The Holy Land and the Bible_, p. 38.

The exact spot where Saul was arrested in his mad career is a matter
of some debate; some fix it close to the city of Damascus, half a mile
or so from the south gate on the high road to Jerusalem. Dr. Porter,
whose long residence at Damascus made him an authority on the
locality, places the scene of the conversion at the village of
Caucabe, ten miles away, where the traveller from Jerusalem gets his
first glimpse of the towers and groves of Damascus. We are not anxious
to determine this point. The great spiritual truth which is the
centre and core of the whole matter remains, and that central truth is
this, that it was when he drew near to Damascus and the crowning act
of violence seemed at hand, then the Lord put forth His power--as He
so often still does just when men are about to commit some dire
offence--arrested the persecutor, and then, amid the darkness of that
abounding light, there rose upon the vision of the astonished Saul at
Caucabe, "the place of the star," that true Star of Bethlehem which
never ceased its clear shining for him till he came unto the perfect

  [31] The question of the site of the conversion is discussed at
  length in Lewin's _St. Paul_, vol. i., ch. v., p. 49.

IV. Lastly we have the actual conversion of the Apostle and the
circumstances of it. We have mention made in this connexion of the
light, the voice, and the conversation. These leading circumstances
are described in exactly the same way in the three great accounts in
the ninth, in the twenty-second, and in the twenty-sixth chapters.
There are minute differences between them, but only such differences
as are natural between the verbal descriptions given at different
times by a truthful and vigorous speaker, who, conscious of honest
purpose, did not stop to weigh his every word. All three accounts tell
of the light; they all agree on that. St. Paul in his speeches at
Jerusalem unhesitatingly declares that the light which he beheld was a
supernatural one, above the brightness, the fierce, intolerable
brightness of a Syrian sun at midday; and boldly asserts that the
attendants and escort who were with him saw the light. Those who
disbelieve in the supernatural reject, of course, this assertion, and
resolve the light into a fainting fit brought upon Saul by the
burning heat, or into a passing sirocco blast from the Arabian
desert. But the sincere and humble believer may fairly ask, Could a
fainting fit or a breath of hot wind change a man who had stood out
against Stephen's eloquence and Stephen's death and the witnessed
sufferings and patience displayed by the multitudes of men and women
whom he had pursued unto the death? But it is not our purpose to
discuss these questions in any controversial spirit. Time and space
would fail to treat of them aright, specially as they have been fully
discussed already in works like Lord Lyttelton on the conversion of
St. Paul, wholly devoted to such aspects of these events.[32] But,
looking at them from a believer's point of view, we can see good
reasons why the supernatural light should have been granted. Next to
the life and death and resurrection of our Lord, the conversion of St.
Paul was the most important event the world ever saw. Our Lord made to
the fiery persecutor a special revelation of Himself in the mode of
His existence in the unseen world, in the reality, truth, and fulness
of His humanity, such as He never made to any other human being. The
special character of the revelation shows the importance that Christ
attached to the person and the personal character of him who was the
object of that revelation. Just, then, as we maintain that there was a
fitness when there was an Incarnation of God that miracles should
attend it; so, too, when the greatest instrument and agent in
propagating a knowledge of that Incarnation was to be converted, it
was natural that a supernatural agency should have been employed. And
then when the devout mind surveys the records of Scripture how similar
we see St. Paul's conversion to have been to other great conversions.
Moses is converted from mere worldly thoughts and pastoral labours on
which his soul is bent, and sent back to tasks which he had abandoned
for forty years, to the great work of freeing the people of God and
leading them to the Land of Promise; and then a vision is granted,
where light, a supernatural light, the light of the burning bush, is
manifested. Isaiah and Daniel had visions granted to them when a great
work was to be done and a great witness had to be borne, and
supernatural light and glory played a great part in their cases.[33]
When the Lord was born in Bethlehem, and the revelation of the
Incarnate God had to be made to humble faith and lowly piety, then the
glory of the Lord, a light from out God's secret temple, shone forth
to lead the worshippers to Bethlehem. And so, too, in St. Paul's case;
a world's spiritual welfare was at stake, a crisis in the world's
spiritual history, a great turning-point in the Divine plan of
salvation had arrived, and it was most fitting that the veil which
shrouds the unseen from mortal gaze should be drawn back for a moment,
and that not Saul alone but his attendants should stand astonished at
the glory of the light above the brightness of the sun which
accompanied Christ's manifestation.[34]

  [32] Lord Lyttelton's _Observations on the Conversion of St. Paul_
  is a work now almost unknown to ordinary students of the Bible. It
  was written in the reign of George II. by the Lord Lyttelton of
  that day famous as a historian and a poet. Dr. Johnson said of it
  that it is "a treatise to which infidelity has never been able to
  fabricate a specious answer." It will be found reprinted in a
  cheap and handy shape by the Religious Tract Society, with a
  valuable preface by the well-known Henry Rogers. Lord Lyttelton
  touches upon the subject of the light seen by St. Paul on p. 164,
  and then adds, "That God should work miracles for the
  establishment of a most holy religion which, from the insuperable
  difficulties that stood in the way of it, could not have
  established itself without such an assistance, is no way repugnant
  to human reason; but that without any miracles such things (as the
  light above the brightness of the sun and St. Paul's blindness)
  should have happened as no adequate natural causes can be assigned
  for is what human reason cannot believe."

  [33] See Exod. iii., Isa. vi., and Dan. x.

  [34] Here it may be well to point out that people should not fancy
  that their own spiritual experience must necessarily be like St.
  Paul's. Some persons have troubled themselves because they could
  not say that they had passed exactly through the same religious
  feelings and struggles as St. Paul's. But as no two leaves are
  alike and as no two careers are exactly parallel, so no two
  spiritual experiences are exactly the same. The true course for
  any individual to adopt is not to strive and see whether God's
  dealings with himself and the response which his own spirit has
  made to the Divine Voice have been exactly like those of others.
  His true course is rather to strive and ascertain whether he is
  now really following, obeying, and loving God. He may leave all
  inquiry as to the methods by which God has guided his soul into
  the paths of peace to be hereafter resolved in the clear light of
  eternity. Some God awakens, as He did St. Paul, by an awful
  catastrophe; others grow up before Him from infancy like Samuel
  and Timothy; others God gradually changes from sin and worldliness
  to peace and righteousness, like Jacob of old time.

Then, again, we have the voice that was heard. Difficulties have been
also raised in this direction. In the ninth chapter St. Luke states
that the attendant escort "heard a voice"; in the twenty-second
chapter St. Paul states "they that were with me beheld indeed the
light, but they heard not the voice of Him that spake to me." This
inconsistency is, however, a mere surface one. Just as it was in the
case of our Lord Himself reported in John xii. 28, 29, where the
multitude heard a voice but understood not its meaning, some saying
that it thundered, others that an angel had spoken, while Christ alone
understood and interpreted it; so it was in St. Paul's case; the
escort heard a noise, but the Apostle alone understood the sounds, and
for him alone they formed articulate words, by him alone was heard
the voice of Him that spake. And the cause of this is explained by St.
Paul himself in chapter xxvi., verse 14, where he tells King Agrippa
that the voice spake to him in the Hebrew tongue, the ancient Hebrew
that is, which St. Paul as a learned rabbinical scholar could
understand, but which conveyed no meaning to the members of the
temple-police, the servants, and constables of the Sanhedrin who
accompanied him.[35] Many other questions have here been raised and
difficulties without end propounded, because we are dealing with a
region of man's nature and of God's domain, wherewith we have but
little acquaintance and to which the laws of ordinary philosophy do
not apply. Was the voice which Paul heard, was the vision of Christ
granted to him, subjective or objective? is, for instance, one of such
idle queries. We know, indeed, that these terms subjective and
objective have a meaning for ordinary life. Subjective in such a
connexion means that which has its origin, its rise, its existence
wholly within man's soul; objective that which comes from without and
has its origin outside man's nature. Objective, doubtless, St. Paul's
revelation was in this sense. His revelation must have come from
outside, or else how do we account for the conversion of the
persecuting Sanhedrist, and that in a moment? He had withstood every
other influence, and now he yields himself in a moment the lifelong
willing captive of Christ when no human voice or argument or presence
is near. But then, if asked how did he see Christ when he was blinded
with the heavenly glory? how did he speak to Christ when even the
escort stood speechless? we confess then that we are landed in a
region of which we are totally ignorant and are merely striving to
intrude into the things unseen. But who is there that will now assert
that the human eye is the only organ by which man can see? that the
human tongue is the only organ by which the spirit can converse? The
investigations of modern psychology have taught men to be somewhat
more modest than they were a generation or two ago, when man in his
conceit thought that he had gained the very utmost limits of science
and of knowledge. These investigations have led men to realise that
there are vast tracts of an unknown country, man's spiritual and
mental nature, yet to be explored, and even then there must always
remain regions where no human student can ever venture and whence no
traveller can ever return to tell the tale. But all these regions are
subject to God's absolute sway, and vain will be our efforts to
determine the methods of his actions in a sphere of which we are
well-nigh completely ignorant. For the Christian it will be sufficient
to accept on the testimony of St. Paul, confirmed by Ananias, his
earliest Christian teacher, that Jesus Christ was seen by him,[36] and
that a voice was heard for the first time in the silence of his soul
which never ceased to speak until the things of time and sense were
exchanged for the full fruition of Christ's glorious presence.

  [35] The Rev. Dr. Abbott, Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, in a
  learned work, _Biblical Essays_, lately published, pp. 142 and
  146, points out that the lower classes of the Jewish population
  did not understand the ancient Hebrew, a knowledge of which was in
  his opinion confined to a few scholars. Cf. also p. 168, where he
  writes, "It deserves to be noticed that for the vast majority of
  the Palestinians the Greek Bible was the only one accessible. The
  knowledge of the ancient Hebrew was confined to a few scholars, in
  addition to which the Hebrew books were extremely expensive."

  [36] There is nothing about St. Paul's seeing the Lord in the
  narrative of the conversion in Acts ix. 4-7; but St. Paul asserts
  that he saw Christ, in his speech before Agrippa, when he
  represents our Lord as saying (xxvi. 16): "For to this end have I
  _appeared_ unto thee to appoint thee a minister," etc. And again
  in 1 Cor. xv. 8, "And last of all, as unto one born out of due
  time, He _appeared_ to me also"; with which should be compared the
  words of Ananias (ix. 17): "The Lord who _appeared_ unto thee in
  the way which thou camest"; and those of Barnabas (ix. 27): "But
  Barnabas declared unto them how Saul had _seen_ the Lord in the
  way." The reader would do well to consult Lewin's _St. Paul_, vol.
  i., ch. iv., p. 50, for a learned note concerning the apparent
  inconsistencies in the various narratives of the conversion.

And then, lastly, we have the conversation held with the trembling
penitent. St. Luke's account of it in the ninth chapter is much
briefer than St. Paul's own fuller statement in the twenty-sixth
chapter, and much of it will most naturally come under our notice at a
subsequent period. Here, however, we note the expressive fact that the
very name by which the future apostle was addressed by the Lord was
Hebrew: "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me." It is a point that our
English translation cannot bring out, no matter how accurate. In the
narrative hitherto the name used has been the Greek form, and he has
been regularly called Σαῦλος. But now the Lord appeals to
the very foundations of his religious life, and throws him back upon
the thought and manifestation of God as revealed of old time to His
greatest leader and champion under the old covenant, to Moses in the
bush; and so Christ uses not his Greek name but the Hebrew, Σαούλ,
Σαούλ. Then we have St. Paul's query, "Who art Thou, Lord?" coupled
with our Lord's reply, "I am Jesus whom thou persecutest," or, as St.
Paul himself puts it in Acts xxii. 8, "I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom
thou persecutest." Ancient expositors have well noted the import of
this language. Saul asks who is speaking to him, and the answer is
not, The Eternal Word who is from everlasting, the Son of the Infinite
One who ruleth in the heavens. Saul would have acknowledged at once
that his efforts were not aimed at Him. But the speaker cuts right
across the line of Saul's prejudices and feelings, for He says, "I am
Jesus of Nazareth," whom you hate so intensely and against whom all
your efforts are aimed, emphasizing those points against which his
Pharisaic prejudices must have most of all revolted. As an ancient
English commentator who lived more than a thousand years ago, treating
of this passage, remarks with profound spiritual insight, Saul is
called in these words to view the depths of Christ's humiliation that
he may lay aside the scales of his own spiritual pride.[37] And then
finally we have Christ identifying Himself with His people, and
echoing for us from heaven the language and teaching He had used upon
earth. "I am Jesus of Nazareth whom thou persecutest" are words
embodying exactly the same teaching as the solemn language in the
parable of the Judgment scene contained in Matthew xxv. 31-46:
"Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these My brethren, ye did it unto
Me." Christ and His people are evermore one; their trials are His
trials, their sorrows are His sorrows, their strength is His strength.
What marvellous power to sustain the soul, to confirm the weakness, to
support and quicken the fainting courage of Christ's people, we find
in this expression, "I am Jesus whom thou persecutest"! They enable us
to understand the undaunted spirit which henceforth animated the new
convert, and declare the secret spring of those triumphant
expressions, "In all these things we are more than conquerors,"
"Thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus
Christ." If Christ in the supra-sensuous world and we in the world of
time are eternally one, what matter the changes and chances of earth,
the persecutions and trials of time? They may inflict upon us a little
temporary inconvenience, but they are all shared by One whose love
makes them His own and whose grace amply sustains us beneath their
burden. Christ's people faint not therefore, for they are looking not
at the things seen, which are temporal, but at the things unseen,
which are eternal.

  [37] See Cornelius à Lapide on Acts ix. 5, quoting from Bede; and
  St. Chrysostom in Cramer's _Catena_, p. 152, as quoted in
  Conybeare and Howson's _St. Paul_, vol. i., ch. iii., p. 111
  (London, 1877).



     "Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and
     the Lord said unto him in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold,
     I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go to the
     street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of
     Judas for one named Saul, a man of Tarsus: for behold, he
     prayeth."--ACTS ix. 10, 11.

Saul of Tarsus was converted outside the city, but the work was only
begun there. Christ would put honour upon the work of human ministry,
and therefore He directs the stricken sinner to continue his journey
and enter into Damascus, where he should be instructed in his future
course of action, though Christ Himself might have told him all that
was needful. It was much the same on the occasion of the so-called
conversion of Cornelius, the pious centurion.[38] The Lord made a
revelation to the centurion, but it was only a revelation directing
him to send for Peter who should instruct him in the way of salvation.
God instituted a human ministry that man might gain light and
knowledge by the means and assistance of his brother-man, and
therefore in both cases the Lord points the anxious inquirer to men
like themselves, who could speak to them in Christ's stead and guide
them into fuller knowledge. Why could not Christ have revealed the
whole story of His life, the full meaning of His doctrine, without
human aid or intervention, save that He wished, even in the very case
of the messenger whose call and apostleship were neither by man nor
through man, to honour the human agency which He had ordained for the
dissemination and establishment of the gospel. If immediate revelation
and the conscious presence of God and the direct work of the Spirit
could ever have absolved penitent sinners from using a human ministry
and seeking direction and help from mortals like themselves, surely it
was in the cases of Saul of Tarsus and Cornelius of Cæsarea; and yet
in both cases a very important portion of the revelation made
consisted in a simple intimation where human assistance could be

  [38] Conversion is scarcely a fit word to apply to the Lord's
  dealings with Cornelius. He had evidently been converted long
  before the angelic message and Peter's preaching, else whence his
  prayers and devotion? The Lord simply made by St. Peter a fuller
  revelation of His will to a soul longing to know more of God.

  [39] We should carefully observe, however, that there is a marked
  difference between the cases of Cornelius and Saul. An angel
  appeared to Cornelius, Christ Himself to Saul. St. Peter is sent
  to Cornelius to instruct him in the revelation made by Christ.
  That revelation was made by Christ Himself to Saul in the vision
  by the way, during the three days of his blindness, and probably
  during his stay in Arabia. Ananias was sent to Saul merely to
  baptize him, and predict his future. "Enter into the city and
  there it shall be told thee what thou shalt _do_," is our Lord's
  direction to Saul. St. Paul's knowledge of Christ was neither by
  man nor through man. His knowledge even about the institution of
  the sacraments was by immediate revelation: see 1 Cor. xi. 23.

Saul after the vision rose up from the earth and was led by the hand
into Damascus. He was there three days without sight, wherein he
neither did eat nor drink. This period of his life and this terrible
experience is regarded by many as the time to which may be traced the
weakness of eyesight and the delicate vision under which he ever
afterwards suffered. The question has often been raised, What was St.
Paul's thorn, or rather stake, in the flesh? Various opinions have
been hazarded, but that which seems to me most likely to be true
identifies the thorn or stake with severe ophthalmia. Six substantial
reasons are brought forward by Archdeacon Farrar in defence of this
view. (1) When writing to the Galatians St. Paul implies that his
infirmity might well have made him an object of loathing to them; and
this is specially the case with ophthalmia in the East (see Gal. iv.
14). (2) This supposition again gives a deeper meaning to the
Apostle's words to these same Galatians that they would at the
beginning of their Christian career have plucked out their eyes to
place them at his service (Gal. iv. 15). (3) The term "a stake in the
flesh" is quite appropriate to the disease, which imparts to the eyes
the appearance of having been wounded by a sharp splinter. (4)
Ophthalmia of that kind might have caused epilepsy. (5) It would
explain the words "See with how large letters I have written unto you
with mine own hand," as a natural reference to the difficulties the
Apostle experienced in writing, and would account for his constant use
of amanuenses or secretaries in writing his Epistles, as noted, for
instance, in Romans xvi. 22 and implied in 1 Corinthians xvi. 21. (6)
Ophthalmia would account for St. Paul's ignorance of the person of the
high priest (Acts xxiii. 5).[40] This question has, however, been a
moot point since the days of the second century, when Irenæus of Lyons
discussed it in his great work against Heresies, book v., ch. iii.,
and Tertullian suggested that St. Paul's stake in the flesh was
simply an exaggerated head-ache or ear-ache.[41]

  [40] See Tertullian's _De Pudicitia_, § 13, and compare Bishop
  Lightfoot's _Galatians_, p. 183 note.

  [41] See Dr. Farrar's long Excursus X., vol. i., p. 652, in his
  _Life of St. Paul_, for a discussion of this question. There is a
  portrait of St. Paul in Lewin's _St. Paul_, ii., 210, which shows
  him as blear-eyed. It is engraved from a Roman diptych of the
  fourth century. Lightfoot takes quite another view of the thorn in
  his _Galatians_, pp. 183-8.

Let us now, however, turn to the more certain facts brought before us
in the words of the sacred narrative. St. Paul was led by the hand
into Damascus just as afterwards, on account, doubtless, of the same
bodily infirmity dating from this crisis, he "was sent forth to go as
far as to the sea," and then "was conducted as far as Athens" (cf.
Acts xvii. 10, 14, 15). From this time forth the kindly assistance of
friends and companions became absolutely necessary to the Apostle if
his footsteps were to be guided aright, and hence it is that he felt
solitude such as he endured at Athens a very trying time because he
had no sense of security whenever he ventured to walk abroad. He
became, in fact, a blind man striving to thread his way through the
crowded footpaths of life. The high priest's commissary must then have
drawn near to Damascus under very different circumstances from those
which fancy pictured for him a few days before. We know not by what
gate he entered the city. We only know that he made his way to the
house of Judas, where he remained for three days and three nights,
with his whole soul so wrapt up in the wonders revealed to him that he
had no thoughts for bodily wants and no sense of their demands.

The sacred narrative has been amply vindicated so far as its
topographical accuracy is concerned. Saul, as he was led by the hand,
instructed his escort to go to the house of Judas, a leading man we
may be sure among the Jews of Damascus. He dwelt in Straight Street,
and that street remains to-day, as in St. Paul's time, a thoroughfare
running in a direct line from the eastern to the western gate of the
city. Like all Oriental cities which have fallen under Turkish
dominion, Damascus no longer presents the stately, well-preserved, and
flourishing aspect which it had in Roman times; and, in keeping with
the rest of the city, Straight Street has lost a great deal of the
magnificent proportions which it once possessed. Straight Street in
St. Paul's day extended from the eastern to the western gate,
completely intersecting the city. It then was a noble thoroughfare one
hundred feet broad, divided by Corinthian colonnades into three
avenues, the central one for foot passengers, the side passages for
chariots and horses going in opposite directions. It was to a house in
this principal street in the city, the habitation of an opulent and
distinguished Jew, that the escort brought the blind emissary of the
Sanhedrin, and here they left him to await the development of God's

  [42] "In the Roman age, and up to the period of the (Mahometan)
  Conquest, a noble street extended in a straight line from
  Bab-el-Jabyah (the West gate) to Bab Shurky (the East gate), thus
  completely intersecting the city. It was divided by Corinthian
  colonnades into three avenues, of which the central was for foot
  passengers, and of the others one was used for chariots and
  horsemen proceeding eastward, and the second for those going in
  the opposite direction. I have been enabled to trace the remains
  of the colonnades at various places over nearly one-third of the
  length of this street. Wherever excavations are made in the line
  fragments of columns are found _in situ_, at the depth, in some
  places, of ten feet and more below the present surface, so great
  has been the accumulation of rubbish during the course of ages.
  There can scarcely be a doubt that this is 'the street called
  Straight' referred to in the history of the Apostle Paul. Its
  extreme length is about an English mile, and its breadth must have
  exceeded 100 feet."--PORTER'S _Damascus_, p. 47.

I. Let us now consider the persons which cluster round the new
convert, and specially the agent whom Christ used in the reception of
Saul into the Church, and see what Scripture or tradition tells about
them. One man stands prominent; his name was Ananias, a common one
enough among the Jews, as the Acts of the Apostles has already shown
us, for when we have surveyed the first beginnings of sin and moral
failure in the Jerusalem Church we have found that an Ananias with
Sapphira his wife was connected therewith.[43] This Ananias of
Damascus deserves special attention, for his case reveals to us a good
deal of primitive Church history and is connected with many ancient
traditions. Let us first strive to gain all the information we can
about him from the direct statements of Scripture and the necessary or
legitimate deductions from the same. Ananias was a Christian Jew of
Damascus. He must have held a leading position in the local Christian
Assembly in that city, within five years of the Ascension, for not
only did our Lord select him as His agent or medium of communication
when dealing with the new convert, but Ananias was well acquainted, by
information derived from many persons, with the course of conduct
pursued at Jerusalem by Saul, and knew of the commission lately
intrusted to him by the high priest. Ananias was probably the head or
chief teacher of the local Christian or Nazarene synagogue. At the
same time he was also in all probability one of the original company
of Jerusalem Christians who had been scattered abroad by the first
great persecution. We are told in Acts xi. 19 that "they that were
scattered abroad upon the tribulation that arose about Stephen
travelled as far as Phœnicia, and Cyprus, and Antioch, speaking the
word to none save only to Jews." Ananias was probably one of these
fugitives from Jerusalem who came to Damascus, and there sought refuge
from the rage of the destroyer. St. Paul himself tells us of the
character which Ananias sustained at Damascus: "He was a devout man
according to the law, well reported of by all the Jews that dwell
there" (ch. xxii. 12). It is the character given of Zacharias, and
Elisabeth, and of Simeon. Ananias was, like all the earliest
disciples, a rigid observer of the minutest particulars of Jewish
ordinances, though he and they alike rested upon Christ alone as their
hope of salvation. Further than this, the Scriptures tell us nothing
save that we can easily see from the words of the various narratives
of the conversion that Ananias was a man of that clear faith, that
deep spiritual life which enjoyed perpetual converse with the Unseen.
He was not perturbed nor dismayed when Christ revealed Himself. He
conversed calmly with the heavenly Visitor, raised his objections,
received their solution, and then departed in humble obedience to
fulfil the mission committed to him. There is a marvellous strength
and power for the man of any age who lives, as Ananias did, with a
clear vision of the eternal world constantly visible to the spiritual
eye. Life or death, things present or things to come, the world
temporal or the world spiritual, all are one to him who lives in the
light of God's countenance and walks beneath the shadow of His wing;
for he feels and knows that underneath are the everlasting Arms, and
he therefore discharges his tasks with an assured calmness, a quiet
dignity, a heavenly strength of which the tempest-tossed and feverish
children of time know nothing. Beyond these facts and these traits of
character, which we can read between the lines of Holy Scripture, we
are told nothing of Ananias.[44] But tradition has not been so
reticent. The ancient Church delighted to gather up every notice and
every story concerning the early soldiers of the Cross, and Ananias of
Damascus was not forgotten. The Martyrologies both of the Greek and
Latin Churches give us long accounts of him. They tell that he was
born in Damascus, and make him one of the seventy disciples, which is
not at all improbable. Then they describe him at one time as bishop,
at another time as a simple presbyter, of the Church at Damascus.
They relate his abundant labours at Damascus and in the neighbouring
cities, terminating with his martyrdom under a Roman prefect called
Lucian.[45] But these details, though they may lend colour to the
picture, add nothing of spiritual significance to the information
vouchsafed in Scripture.

  [43] Josephus, in his _Antiquities_, xx., 23, tells us of an
  Ananias, a Jewish merchant, who was instrumental in the conversion
  of Helena, Queen of Adiabene. The name Ananias signifies "Pleasing
  to God." Ananias was also the name of the messenger who is said to
  have conveyed the pretended letter of Abgar, King of Edessa, to
  Christ. See _The Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles_, by R. A.
  Lipsius (Leipsic, 1891), p. 274.

  [44] St. Chrysostom, in his _Homilies on the Acts_, notes the
  spiritual eminence of this hidden and unknown disciple. In his
  nineteenth Homily he observes that when St. Philip, one of the
  seven, was sent to baptize the eunuch, Christ did not appear but
  merely sent an angel to the evangelist; but Christ Himself
  appeared to Ananias, and opened out His whole will to him about
  the future of St. Paul. His conversation with our Lord was, too,
  that of one accustomed to Divine visitations and communion with
  Heaven. See Massutius on the Life of St. Paul, p. 107. Massutius
  was a Jesuit commentator, whose writings are often rich in
  spiritual suggestiveness. He published his _Vita S. Pauli
  Apostoli_ in 1633. In the first and ninth chapters of the second
  book he has many acute and learned remarks upon Ananias and his
  history. The calming effect upon life's fever of spiritual
  religion and close converse with God is a point often dwelt upon
  in Scripture. The Old Testament prophets knew this secret of a
  peaceful life right well. Isaiah often sings of it, as in ch. xii.
  2, "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid";
  in ch. xxvi. 3, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind
  is stayed on Thee"; in ch. xxviii. 16, "He that believeth shall
  not make haste"; in ch. xl. 31, "They that wait upon the Lord
  shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as
  eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not
  faint." Habakkuk proclaims it in ch. iii. 17: "For though the fig
  tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the
  labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no
  meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be
  no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy
  in the God of my salvation." A strain which St. Paul takes up in
  his Epistle to the Philippians when he bids them (ch. iv. 6), "In
  nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication
  with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God"; to
  which he adds the promise, not that their requests shall be
  answered, for that would often be very unfortunate, but the much
  more consoling one, "And the peace of God, which passeth all
  understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ
  Jesus." How much calmer and sweeter life would be did Christ's
  people thus realise their privileges as God's ancient servants
  did! Ninety per cent. of life's worries and anxieties would thus
  pass away for ever. Alas! how pagan nominal Christians are in this

  [45] See, for both the Greek and Latin stories about Ananias,
  _Acta Sanctorum_, Ed. Bolland., 25 Jan., ii., 613.

Judas, into whose house Saul was received, is another person brought
before us, upon whom a certain eternity of fame has been bestowed by
his temporary connexion with the Apostle. He must have been a man of
position and wealth among the Jews of Damascus to receive the official
representative and deputy of the high priest. It is possible that he
may have been numbered among those early trophies of St. Paul's zeal
which he won in the earliest days of his first love, when he
"confounded the Jews, proving that Jesus is Christ." Judas has been
by some identified with that Judas who was sent with St. Paul, Silas,
and Barnabas as deputies to console the Church at Antioch and restore
it to peace when distracted with debates about circumcision (ch. xv.

  [46] Judas of Acts xv. 22 is surnamed Barsabbas, as is also Joseph
  Justus of Acts i. 23. Lightfoot, _Hor. Heb._, on Acts i.,
  conjectures that Judas of Acts xv. may have been the apostle of
  that name and that Joseph Justus was his brother.

And now, to conclude this portion of our subject, we may add that the
traditional houses, or at least the sites of the houses, of Ananias
and Judas, together with the fountain where St. Paul was baptized,
were shown in Damascus till the seventeenth century, as Quaresmius, a
traveller of that time, tells us that he visited the Straight Street,
which is the bazaar, and saw the house of Judas, a large and
commodious building, with traces of having been once a church and then
a mosque; that he visited the place of baptism, which is not far off,
adding withal a ground plan of the house of Ananias. Dean Stanley,
however, declares that the traditional house of Judas is not in the
street called Straight at all. Let us turn aside from these details,
the mere fringes of the story, to the spiritual heart and core

  [47] The seventeenth-century travellers in Palestine, Syria, and
  the East often give us much valuable information. See, on the
  subject of Damascus, Quaresmius, _Elucidatio Terræ Sanctæ_, t.
  ii., lib. 7, Peregrinatio 6, cap. 3, with which may be compared
  Radzivilus, _Peregrinatio_, p. 33, A.D. 1614. See also Conybeare
  and Howson's _St. Paul_, ch. iii.

II. The conversation between Christ and Ananias next claims our
attention. Here we may note that it was the Lord Jesus Christ Himself
who appeared to Ananias, and when appearing makes the most tremendous
claims for Himself and allows them when made by Ananias. We are so
accustomed to the words of the narrative that we do not recognise
their bold assumptions and what they imply. The Lord calls Ananias, as
He called Samuel of old, and then receives the same answer as Samuel
gave, "Behold I am here, Lord." Ananias speaks to Jesus Christ of the
disciples, and describes them as "_Thy_ saints, who call upon _Thy_
name." He knew that prayer to Jesus Christ was practised by them and
constituted their special note or mark. Our Lord describes St. Paul
"as a chosen vessel unto _Me_, to bear _My name_ before the Gentiles
and kings, and the children of Israel, for _I_ will show him how many
things he must suffer for _My name's_ sake." While again, when Ananias
came into the house of Judas, he is so completely dominated by the
idea of Jesus Christ, His presence, His power, His mission, that his
words are, "The Lord Jesus hath sent me that thou mayest receive thy
sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost." In these passages we have a
view of primitive Christianity and its doctrine as taught by Christ
Himself, by His earliest disciples, and as viewed and recorded by the
second generation of Christians, and it is all the same from whatever
point it is looked at. The earliest form of Christianity was Christ
and nothing else. The personality of Christ dominated every other
idea. There was no explaining away the historical facts of His life,
there was no watering down His supernatural actions and claims; the
Lord Jesus--and His ordinary human name was used--the Lord Jesus, whom
the Jews had known as the carpenter's son, and had rejected as the
prophet of Nazareth, and had crucified as the pretended king of
Israel, He was for Ananias of Damascus the supernatural Being who now
ruled the universe, and struck down the persecutor of His people, and
sent His messengers and apostles that they might with Divine power
heal the wounded and comfort the broken-hearted. Ananias felt no
difficulty in identifying Jesus the despised, the crucified, with the
Lord of glory who had appeared to him, upon whose name he called and
with whom he communed. Jesus Christ was not for him a dream or a
ghost, or a passing appearance, or a distinguished teacher, or a
mighty prophet, whose spirit lived with the souls of the good and
blessed of every age at rest in paradise. The Jesus of Ananias was no
inhabitant or child of earth, no matter how pure and exalted. The
Jesus of Nazareth was the Being of beings, who had a just right to
call God's people "His saints," and to describe the great work of His
messengers and ministers to be that of "bearing His name before the
Gentiles," because the Christianity of Ananias and of the earliest
Church was no poor, weak, diluted system of mere natural religion
regarding Jesus Christ as a Divine prophet, but as nothing more. It
theorised not, indeed, about the Incarnation and the modes of the
Divine existence. It was too much wrapped up in adoring the Divine
manifestations to trouble itself about such questions, which came to
the front when love waxed cold and men had time to analyse and debate.
For Ananias and for men like him it was sufficient to know that Jesus
Christ was God manifest in the flesh. For them and for the earliest
Church that one fact embodied the whole of Christianity. Jesus Christ,
the same when living in Galilee, suffering in Jerusalem, ascending
from Olivet, reigning on the right hand of the Majesty on high, or
manifesting Himself to His people, was the beginning and end of all

This is a very important point to insist upon in the present age, when
men have endeavoured to represent the religion of the primitive
Church in quite a different light, and to teach that St. Paul was the
inventor of that dogmatic system which insists upon the supreme
importance and the essential deity of the Person of Jesus Christ. St.
Luke's narrative in this passage seems to me quite decisive against
such a theory, and shows us how Christianity struck an independent
mind like that of Ananias, and how it was taught at a distant
Christian Church like Damascus within five or at most seven years
after the Ascension of Jesus Christ.[48]

  [48] Massutius, _loc. cit._, has a long chapter (book ii., ch. i.)
  on the date of St. Paul's conversion. See Findlay's _Epistles of
  St. Paul_, pp. 5, 6, for a concise statement of the arguments
  concerning it. Lewin's _Fasti Sacri_, pp. lxvi. and 253, contains
  long dissertations upon this point, a simple reference to which
  must suffice.

Then, again, we have in the vision granted to Ananias and the
revelation made to him a description of Christ's disciples. The
description is a twofold one, coming on the one hand from Christ, and
on the other from Ananias, and yet they both agree. Ananias describes
the religion of Christ when he says, "Lord, I have heard from many of
this man, how much evil he did to Thy saints at Jerusalem"; and then
he proceeds to identify His "saints" with those that called on
Christ's name at Damascus. We have already noted prayer to Christ as a
distinguishing feature of His people[49]; but here we find, for the
first time in the New Testament, the term "saints" applied to the
ordinary followers of Christ, though in a short time it seems to have
become the usual designation for the adherents of the crucified
Redeemer, as we shall see by a reference to Rom. i. 7; 1 Cor. i. 2;
Eph. i. 1, and to numerous other passages scattered throughout the
Epistles. Our Lord Himself sanctions the use of this title, and
applies it Himself in a different shape in the fuller account of the
divine words given us by St. Paul in his speech before King Agrippa
(ch. xxvi. 18). Christ tells St. Paul of his destined work "to turn
the Gentiles from darkness to light, that they may receive an
inheritance among them which are _sanctified_ by faith that is in Me."
The followers of Christ were recognised as saints in the true sense of
the word saint--that is, as separated, dedicated, consecrated persons,
who had been made to drink into one Divine Spirit, had been made
partakers of a new life, had been admitted to a kingdom of light and a
fellowship of love, and who, by virtue of these blessings, had been
cut off from the power of Satan and the kingdom of darkness. And all
this had been and ever is to be effected "by faith that is in Christ."
Christ's saints or separated people are sanctified by faith in Christ.
Not that the bare exercise of a faculty or feeling called faith will
exercise a sanctifying influence upon human nature,--this would be
simply to make man his own sanctifier, and to usurp for his own poor
weak wretched self the work and power which belong to the Holy Ghost
alone,--but when Christ is realised as including all the parts of
God's final revelation, when no partial or limited view is taken of
Christ's work as if it were limited to the Incarnation alone, or the
Atonement alone, or the Resurrection alone, but when the diverse and
various parts and laws of His revelation are recognised as divinely
taught, and therefore as tremendously important for the soul's health.
When the Holy Ghost and His mission, and good works and their absolute
necessity, and Christ's sacraments and His other appointed means of
grace are duly honoured and reverently received, then indeed, and
then alone, faith is truly exercised in Christ, and men are not merely
separated by an external consecration, such as the Jews received at
circumcision, and which qualified even that hard-hearted and stubborn
people to be called a nation of saints; but when Christ is thus truly
and fully received by faith into the hearts and affections of His
people, they walk worthy of the high vocation called upon them. Many a
mistaken exposition has been offered of St. Paul's Epistles, and many
an effort has been made to explain away the plainest statements,
because men will apply a false meaning to the word saints which
Ananias here uses. If we first determine that the word saint could
only have been applied to a truly converted man, clothed in the robe
of Christ's imputed righteousness, elected from eternity to
everlasting salvation, and who could never finally fall away, and then
find the term so defined applied, for instance, to the Corinthian
Church as a whole, we shall come to some strange results. If truly
converted men, true saints of Christ, could be guilty of sins such as
were not named amongst the heathen, or could be drunk at the Lord's
Table, or could cherish all that long and dreary catalogue of
spiritual crimes enumerated in the Corinthian Epistles, then indeed
the words true conversion have completely changed their meaning, and
Christianity, instead of being the principle and fountain of a
regenerate life, becomes a cloak under which all kinds of
maliciousness and evil-doing may have free course and be glorified.

  [49] See vol. i., pp. 338-41.

Our Lord protests beforehand unto St. Paul against such a perversion
of the gospel of free grace with which His great Apostle had all his
life to struggle. Antinomianism is as old as St. Paul's doctrine--so
very much misunderstood--of justification. Our Lord raises His voice
against it in His earliest commission to St. Paul when He sends him to
the Gentiles "to turn them from darkness to light," that is, from
moral and spiritual darkness to moral and spiritual light, and "from
the power of Satan unto God." And the New Testament often enough tells
us what is meant by "the power of Satan." It was not any mere system
of false beliefs alone, but it was a wicked, impure belief joined and
leading to a wicked and impure practice; and St. Paul's work was to
turn the Gentiles from a wicked faith, combined with a still more
wicked practice, to a life sanctified and purified and renewed after
the image of a living Christ.[50]

  [50] I am referring in this passage to what we may designate the
  Antinomian method of expounding First Corinthians still current in
  many circles. They first determine that the word saint is always
  used by St. Paul to express a truly converted man, one, therefore,
  in their idea who has no need to ask pardon for sin and who never
  can finally fall away. They then find this term "saints" applied
  to the Corinthian Church, which must therefore have been composed
  of truly converted men alone, else, they think, St. Paul would not
  have called them saints. But then a difficulty arises, How about
  the gross sins prevalent in that Church? Their peculiar system of
  theology, however, rapidly solves this perplexing point. All the
  sins of believers, past, present or to come, have been forgiven
  long before they were born, therefore these gross immoralities at
  Corinth were mere believer's slips, as I have heard them called. A
  believer guilty of them should be sorry for them as causing scanda
  to the world, but as far as final salvation is concerned he has
  nothing to do with them save to assure himself of their pardon
  wrought out by our Lord on the cross. Abundant instances of this
  method of exposition will be found in the works of Dr. Williams,
  the Nonconformist of the time of William III., founder of the
  well-known library in Grafton Street, London. He had a great
  controversy with the Antinomians of the day, who represented
  themselves as the true champions of the doctrines of grace. They
  were simply teaching the ancient Gnostic heresy that the soul can
  be in communion with God while the body is all the time wallowing
  in the depths of sin. Precisely the same views are now commonly
  taught and called as in Williams's day, two hundred years ago,
  "the Gospel." If, however, we recognise the New Testament use of
  the word saints as meaning "dedicated to God, consecrated to His
  service," the meaning of the First Corinthians and of the words of
  Ananias is quite clear and plain, and no such immoral results
  follow as the Antinomian exegesis implies, but rather the saintly
  character of baptized Christians becomes the foundation of the
  most practical exhortations to holiness of life.

III. Finally, we notice in this conversation, and that only very
briefly, the title given by our Lord to St. Paul, which became the
favourite designation of the Apostle of the Gentiles, especially among
the Western doctors of the ancient Church. "Go thy way," says Christ
to Ananias, "for he is a chosen vessel unto Me," or, as the Revisers
put it in the margin, translating still more literally from the
original, "for he is a vessel of election." "Vas Electionis" is the
usual title for St. Paul in St. Jerome's letters, as also in St.
Chrysostom's homilies, and it expresses a side of his character which
is prominent throughout his writings. Saul's early life was so
alienated from Christ, his career had been so completely hostile to
the gospel, his conversion had been so entirely God's work and God's
work alone, that he ever felt and ever insisted more than the other
New Testament writers on God's electing love. If we compare the
writings of St. John with those of St. Paul, we shall see how
naturally and completely they reflect in their tone the history of
their lives. St. John's life was one long continuous steady growth in
Divine knowledge. There were no great gaps or breaks in that life, and
so we find that his writings do not ignore God's electing love and
preventing grace as the source of everything good in man. "We love Him
because He first loved us" are words which show that St. John's gospel
was at bottom the same as St. Paul's. But St. John's favourite topic
is the Incarnation and its importance, and its results in purity of
heart and in a sweet consciousness of the Divine Spirit. St. Paul's
life, on the other hand, was no continuous upgrowth from youth's
earliest day to life's latest eventide. There was a great gap, a
tremendous yawning chasm separating the one portion from the other,
and Paul never could forget that it was God's choice alone which
turned the persecuting Rabbi into the Christian Apostle. His Epistles
to the Romans, Ephesians, and Galatians amply testify to the effects
of this doctrine upon his whole soul, and show that the expositors of
the early Church displayed a true instinct and gauged his character
aright when they designated him by this title, "Vas Electionis." And
yet the Apostle proved his Divine inspiration, for he held and taught
this truth in no one-sided manner. He combined the doctrine of
electing love with that of intense human free will and awful personal
responsibility. He made no effort intellectually to reconcile the two
opposite sides of truth, but, wiser than many who followed him, he
accepted both and found in them both, matter for practical guidance.
God's eternal and electing love made him humble; man's free will and
responsibility made him awfully in earnest. Two passages, drawn from
different Epistles, sufficiently explain St. Paul's view. Gal. i. 15,
16--"When it was the good pleasure of God, who separated me, even from
my mother's womb, and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son
in me"--are words which show how entirely St. Paul viewed himself as a
"Vas Electionis." 1 Cor. ix. 27--"I buffet my body, and bring it into
bondage, lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I
myself should be rejected"--are words showing how real and profound
was his fear of final defeat and ruin, how convinced he was that no
display of Divine grace or love assured him of his own final
perseverance. It is well that people should notice this difference
between the tone and spiritual experience of a Paul and of a John. At
times sincere Christians have been troubled because their spiritual
experience and feelings have been very different from St. Paul's. They
have limited to a large extent their own reading of Scripture to his
writings, and have not noticed the clear distinction which Scripture
makes between the tone and ideas of St. Paul and St. Peter, St. James
and St. John; and why? Just to meet this very tendency, and to show us
that spiritual experiences, feelings, temptations, must vary with the
varying circumstances of each individual. No saintly life can be taken
as a universal model or standard; and, above all, the conversion of a
persecutor and blasphemer like St. Paul is not to be taken as the
normal type of God's dealings with men, who grow up, like St. John or
like Timothy, in the paths of Divine love from their earliest

  [51] It should be carefully noted that the great end of St. Paul's
  election is set forth by our Lord when speaking to Ananias as "to
  bear My name before the Gentiles and kings, and the children of
  Israel." From the very outset of Paul's Christian career his work
  as the Apostle of the Gentiles is thus clearly revealed through
  Ananias. I say _through_ Ananias, and not _to_ him; for I suppose
  that Ananias could not himself have realised the real force and
  meaning of the Divine words.

There is one common feature, however, which can be traced in all
religious lives, whether sternly and even violently ordered like
Saul's, or gently guided like St. John's. They all agree in presenting
one feature when the fresh breath of the Spirit blows upon them and
the deeper sense of life's importance first dawns upon the vision, and
that is, they are all marked by prayer. Of every sincere seeker the
Divine watcher, ever on the outlook for the signs of spiritual life,
repeats "Behold, he prayeth." Saul, we may be sure, had never
forgotten his duty in the matter of the prescribed round of Jewish
devotions; but now for the first time he rose above the level of mere
mechanical saying of prayer to spiritual communion with God in Christ;
now for the first time he prayed a Christian prayer, through Christ
and to Christ; now for the first time perhaps he learned one secret of
the spiritual life, which is this, that prayer is something wider and
nobler than mere asking. Prayer is communion of the spirit with God
reconciled in Christ Jesus. That communion is often deepest and most
comforting when enjoyed in simple silence. Saul, the converted
persecutor, could know but little yet of what to ask from Christ. But
in the revelations made in those hours of darkness and penitence and
silence, there were vouchsafed to him renewed proofs of the truths
already gained, and of the awful trials which those truths, realised
and acted out, would demand from him, "I will show him what things he
must suffer for My sake."



     "Saul was certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.
     And straightway in the synagogues he proclaimed Jesus, that He is
     the Son of God."--ACTS ix. 19, 20.

We have bestowed a great deal of attention upon the incidents at
Damascus, because the conversion of Saul of Tarsus is more closely
connected with the truth and authenticity of Christianity than any
other event save those immediately connected with the life and
ministry of our Lord Himself. We shall, however, in this chapter,
endeavour to discuss the remaining circumstances of it which the Acts
of the Apostles brings under our notice.

I. We are told in verse 17 of the visit of Ananias to Saul. "Ananias
departed, and entered into the house; and laying his hands on him
said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, who appeared unto thee in
the way which thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mayest receive thy
sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost." This conversation with
Ananias is largely expanded by St. Paul himself in the account which
he gives us in Acts xxii., while in his speech to Agrippa in the
twenty-sixth chapter he entirely omits all mention of Ananias, and
seems to introduce our Lord as the only person who spoke to him, and
yet there is no real inconsistency. St. Paul, in fact, in the latter
address is intent on setting vividly before Agrippa the sum total of
the revelations made by Christ. He ignores, therefore, every secondary
agent. Ananias was Christ's messenger. His words were merely those
which Christ put into his mouth. St. Paul goes, therefore, to the root
of the matter, and attributes everything, whether uttered by our Lord
or by Ananias, to the former alone, who was, indeed, the great
Inspirer of every expression, the true Director of every minutest
portion of this important transaction.

The ninth chapter, on the other hand, breaks the story up into its
component parts, and shows us the various actors in the scene. We see
the Lord Jesus consciously presiding over all, revealing Himself now
to this person and again to that person. We get a glimpse for a moment
behind the veil which Divine Providence throws around His doings and
the doings of the children of men. We see Christ revealing Himself now
to Saul and then to Ananias, informing the latter of the revelations
made to the former; just as He subsequently revealed Himself almost
simultaneously to Cornelius at Cæsarea and to Simon Peter at Joppa,
preparing the one for the other. The Lord thus hints at an explanation
of those simultaneous cravings, aspirations, and spiritual desires
which we often find unaccountably arising amid far distant lands and
in widely separated hearts. The feelings may seem but vague
aspirations and their coincidence a mere chance one, but the typical
cases of Saul and Ananias, or of Cornelius and St. Peter, teach the
believer to see in them the direct action and government of the Lord
Jesus Christ, turning the hearts of the fathers to the children and of
the disobedient to the wisdom of the just. Surely we have an instance
of such simultaneous operations of the Divine Spirit, and that on the
largest scale, in the cravings of the world after a Saviour at the age
and time when our Lord came! Virgil was then preaching in tones so
Christian concerning the coming Saviour whom the world was expecting,
that the great Italian poet Dante exempts him from hell on account of
his dim but real faith. The Wise Men were then seeking Christ from a
far country; Caiaphas was prophesying concerning a man who was to die
for God's people. Mankind, all the world over, was unconsciously
longing with a divinely inspired desire for that very salvation which
God was then revealing; just as upon the narrower stage of Damascus or
Cæsarea Jesus Christ inspired Saul and Cornelius with a Divine want
and prepared Ananias and Peter to satisfy it. John Keble in his poem
for Easter Monday has well seized and illustrated this point, so full
of comfort and edification, turning it into a practical direction for
the life of the human spirit:--

    "Even so the course of prayer who knows?
      It springs in silence where it will,
    Springs out of sight, and flows
      At first a lonely rill.

    "Unheard by all but angel ears,
      The good Cornelius knelt alone,
    Nor dreamed his prayers and tears
      Could help a world undone.

    "The while upon his terraced roof,
      The loved apostle to the Lord,
    In silent thought aloof,
      For heavenly vision soared.

    "The saint beside the ocean prayed,
      The soldier in his chosen bower,
    Where all his eye surveyed
      Seemed sacred in that hour.

    "To each unknown his brother's prayer,
      Yet brethren true in dearest love
    Were they--and now they share
      Fraternal joys above."

Ananias, guided by Divine Providence, enters into Saul's presence,
states his mission, lays his hands upon him and restores him to sight.
Ananias is careful, however, to disclaim all merit so far as he is
himself concerned in the matter of this miracle. His language is
exactly the same in tone as that of the apostles Peter and John when
they had healed the impotent man: "Why marvel ye at this man? or why
fasten ye your eyes on us, as though by our own power or godliness we
had made him to walk?... By faith in His name hath His name made this
man strong," were their words to the people. "In the name of Jesus
Christ of Nazareth, walk," was their command to the man himself. And
so in the case of Ananias, he attributes the healing power to Jesus
Christ alone. "The Lord Jesus, who appeared unto thee, ... hath sent
me, that thou mayest receive thy sight." The theology and faith of the
Church at Damascus were exactly the same as those of the Apostles and
Church at Jerusalem. And what a confirmation of Saul's own faith must
this miracle have been! It was then no passing vision, no fancy of a
heated imagination which he had experienced; but he had the actual
proof in his own person of their objective reality, a demonstration
that the power of Jesus of Nazareth ordered all things, both in heaven
and earth, healing the bodily as it could illuminate the spiritual

II. Ananias restored Saul's sight. According to the ninth of Acts his
mission was limited to this one point; but, according to St. Paul's
own account in the twenty-second chapter, he made a much longer
communication to the future Apostle: "The God of our fathers hath
appointed thee to know His will, and to see the Righteous One, and to
hear a voice from His mouth. For thou shalt be a witness for Him unto
all men of what thou hast seen and heard. And now why tarriest thou?
Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on His name."
Ananias predicted to Saul his future mission, his apostleship to all
nations, and the fact that the Apostle of the Gentiles would find the
root and sustenance of his work in the force of personal conviction
with which his miraculous conversion had endowed him. Personal
knowledge, individual acquaintance with the things of the eternal
world was then, as it is still, the first condition of successful work
for Jesus Christ. There may be intellectual power, intense energy,
transcendent eloquence, consummate ability; but in the spiritual order
these things avail nothing till there be joined thereto that sense of
heavenly force and reality which a personal knowledge of the things
unseen imparts. Then heart answers to heart, and the great depths of
man's nature respond and open themselves to the voice and teaching of
one who speaks as St. Paul did of what "he had seen and heard."

There are two points in this address of Ananias as reported by St.
Paul himself to which we would direct special attention. Ananias
baptized Saul, and used very decided language on the subject, language
from which some would now shrink. These two points embody important
teaching. Ananias baptized Saul though Christ had personally called
him. This shows the importance which the Holy Scriptures attach to
baptism, and shows us something too of the nature of Holy Scripture
itself. St. Luke wrote the Acts as a kind of continuation of his
Gospel, to give an account to Theophilus of the rise and progress of
Christianity down to his own time. St. Luke in doing so tells us of
the institution of the Eucharist, but he does not say one word in his
Gospel about the appointment of baptism. He does not record the
baptismal commission, for which we must turn to St. Matthew xxviii.
19, or to St. Mark xvi. 16. Yet St. Luke is careful to report the
baptism of the three thousand on the Day of Pentecost, of the
Samaritans, of the eunuch, and now of St. Paul, as afterwards of
Cornelius, of Lydia, of the Philippian jailor, and of the Ephesian
followers of John the Baptist. He records the universality of
Christian baptism, and thus proves its obligation; but he does not
give us a hint of the origin of this sacrament, nor does he trace it
back to any word or command of the Lord Jesus Christ. He evidently
took all these things as quite well known and understood, and merely
describes the observance of a sacrament which needed no explanation on
his part. The writings of St. Luke were intended to instruct
Theophilus in the facts concerning our Lord's life and the labours of
certain leading individuals among His earliest followers; but they
make no pretence, nor do the other Gospels make any pretence, of being
an exhaustive history of our Lord's ministry or of the practice of the
earliest Church; and their silence does not necessarily prove that
much was not known and practised in the early Church about which they
have no occasion to speak.[52] The words of Ananias and the obedience
of Saul show us the importance which the Holy Spirit attached to this
sacrament of baptism. Here was a man to whom Christ Himself had
personally appeared, whom Christ had personally called, and to whom He
had made long-continued revelations of His will. Yet He instructed him
by the mouth of Ananias to receive the sacrament of baptism. Surely if
any man was ever exempted from submission to what some would esteem
the outward ordinance, it was this penitent and privileged convert!
But no: to him the words of God's messenger are the same as to the
humblest sinner, "Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins." I
have known of truly good men who showed their want of spiritual
humility, or perhaps I should rather say of spiritual thought and
reflection, in this direction. I have known of persons aroused from
religious torpor and death by powerful though one-sided teaching. God
has blessed such teaching to the awakening in them of the first
elements of spiritual life, and then they have stopped short. They
were called, as Saul was, in an unbaptized state. They had never
previously received the sacrament of regeneration according to
Christ's appointment, and when Christ aroused them they thought this
primal blessing quite sufficient, and judged it unnecessary to obey
the full commands of Christ and be united by baptism to His Body the
Church. They judged, in fact, that the blessing of conversion absolved
them from the sacrament of responsibility; but such was not the view
of the primitive Church. The blessing of conversion as in St. Paul's
case, the visible and audible descent of the Holy Ghost as in the case
of Cornelius, hindered not the importance nor dispensed with the
necessity of the sacrament of baptism, which was the door of admission
to the Divine society and to a higher level in the Divine life than
any hitherto attained. Persons who act as those misguided individuals
of whom we have spoken stop short at the first principles of the
doctrine of Christ, and they attain to none of its heights, they sound
none of its depths, because they bend not their wills, and learn not
the sweetness and the power involved in spiritual humiliation and in
lowly self-denying obedience taught by the Master Himself when He
said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of

  [52] Archbishop Whately used to make an important distinction
  between things _anti_-Scriptural and things _un_-Scriptural.
  Things _anti_-Scriptural cannot be tolerated by the Church,
  because they contradict the Word of God. Things _un_-Scriptural,
  that is, things about which Scripture is silent and for which no
  direct warrant can be produced, may be right or wrong, useful or
  vicious. Sunday schools, for instance, are in this sense
  unscriptural. The Scriptures are silent about them, and if direct
  warrant with chapter and verse be required for them, none such can
  be produced. Hooker, in his Third Book, ch. v.-viii., has a
  powerful argument upon this subject as against the ultra-reformers
  or Puritans of his day, who would have tied the Church within much
  tighter bonds than ever Judaism submitted to.

  [53] I have known cases where baptism was rejected avowedly on
  these grounds. This is of course a natural result of the pushing
  individualism in religion to an extreme, and is often found among
  what we may call extreme Protestants. It naturally results from
  two errors. First of all, from a rejection of the article of the
  Apostles' Creed, "I believe in the Holy Catholic Church." Such men
  reject the doctrine of a Church as a great fundamental article of
  the Creed, one of the necessary articles of the Christian faith,
  and therefore they reject baptism which is the door of entrance
  into the Divine society. And, secondly, they reject the true
  definition and idea of a sacrament. They view baptism, for
  instance, as the expression merely of a faith already received,
  and as nothing more. If, then, they express this faith
  sufficiently by their life and actions, baptism seems to them an
  empty and vain ceremony. But surely this was not St. Paul's view,
  either when he received baptism at the hands of Ananias, or when
  he wrote in the sixth of Romans "We were buried therefore with Him
  through baptism into death."

The language, again, of Ananias about baptism sounds strange in some
ears, and yet the experience of missionaries is a sufficient
explanation of it. What is that language? "Arise, and be baptized, and
wash away thy sins." These words sound startling to one accustomed to
identify the washing away of sin with the exercise of faith, and yet
there they stand, and no method of exegesis will avail to make them
say anything else than this, that baptism was for Saul the washing
away of sin, so that if he did not accept baptism his sins would not
have been washed away. The experience, however, of those who labour in
the mission field explains the whole difficulty. Baptism is the act of
open confession and acknowledgment of Christ. St. Paul himself teaches
the absolute importance of this confession: "With the heart man
believeth unto righteousness; with the mouth confession is made unto
salvation."[54] Pagan converts are even still abundantly found who are
willing to accept the pure morality and the sublime teaching of
Christianity, who are willing to believe and see in Jesus Christ the
supreme revelation of God made to the human race, but who are not
willing to incur loss and persecution and trial for His sake by the
reception of Christian baptism and a public confession of their faith.
They may believe with the heart in the revelation of righteousness and
may lead moral lives in consequence, but they are not willing to make
public confession leading them into a state of salvation. They are, in
fact, in the position of Saul of Tarsus as he prayed in the house of
Judas, but they will go no farther. They will not act as he did, they
will not take the decisive step, they will not arise and be baptized
and wash away their sins, calling on the name of Jesus Christ. And if
Saul of Tarsus had been like them and had acted as they do, he might
have received the vision and have been convinced of the truth of Jesus
Christ and of His mission, but yet his moral cowardice would have
spoilt the whole, and Saul would have remained in his sins,
unpardoned, unaccepted, reprobate from Christ, because he remained
unbaptized. Christianity, in fact, is a covenant, and forgiveness of
sins is one of the blessings attached to this covenant. Until men
perform its conditions and actually enter into the covenant the
blessings of the covenant are not granted. Baptism is the door of
entry into the covenant of grace, and till men humbly enter within the
door they do not exercise true faith. They may believe intellectually
in the truth and reality of Christianity, but, till they take the
decisive step and obey Christ's law, they do not possess that true
faith of the heart which alone enables them, like Saul of Tarsus, to
obey Christ and therefore enter into peace.

  [54] Romans x. 10.

III. The next step taken by the Apostle is equally plainly stated:
"Straightway in the synagogues he proclaimed Jesus, that He is the Son
of God." But, though the words of the Acts are plain enough, it is not
so easy to reconcile them with St. Paul's own account, as given in the
Epistle to the Galatians (i. 15, 16, 17), where he states, "When it
was the good pleasure of God to reveal His Son in me, immediately I
conferred not with flesh and blood, but I went away into Arabia, and
again I returned to Damascus." In the ninth chapter of the Acts we
find the statement made that _immediately_ after his baptism he
preached Christ in the synagogues of Damascus, while in his own
biographical narrative he tells us that _immediately_ after his
baptism he went away into Arabia. Is there any way in which we can
reconcile them? We think so, and that a very simple one. Let us first
reflect upon the story as told in the Acts. St. Luke is giving a rapid
history, a survey of St. Paul's life of public activity. He is not
telling the story of his inner spiritual experiences, his conflicts,
temptations, trials, revelations, as St. Paul himself set them forth.
He knew not of them, in fact. St. Luke knew merely the exterior public
life of which man had cognisance. He knew nothing, or but little, of
the interior life of the Apostle, known only to himself and to God.
St. Luke therefore tells us of his early work at Damascus. St. Paul
himself tells us of that early work, but also shows us how he was
prepared for that work by his retirement into Arabia. Both agree in
the main point, however, and place the scene of his earliest Christian
efforts in the very spot, Damascus, which he had in his human
prevision destined for himself as the field of his bitterest
antagonism to the faith of the Crucified. This is an important point.
St. Luke wrote his historical narrative twenty-five years or
thereabouts after St. Paul's conversion. He may have often visited
Damascus. Tradition makes Antioch, a town of the same district, his
birthplace. St. Luke must have had abundant opportunities of
consulting witnesses who could tell the story of those eventful days,
and could describe St. Paul's earliest testimony to his new
convictions. But these men only knew St. Paul as he appeared in
public. They may have known very little of the inner history of his
life as he reveals it in his Epistle to the Galatians when vindicating
his apostolic authority and mission.[55]

  [55] St. Luke's informants, twenty-five years after the events,
  would naturally only remember the leading points, the most
  striking events of St. Paul's early Christian career. Few people
  realise how hard it is to recall the events of twenty-five years
  ago in anything like consecutive order. We preserve upon the whole
  a lively and a true impression; but till we go and consult
  documents, diaries, journals, etc., it is almost impossible to
  state the succession of events in accurate order. I was trying the
  other day to recall the events of my own public life twenty-five
  years ago anent the controversy which raged about the
  disestablishment of the Irish Church, into which I plunged with
  the vehemence of early manhood, and I failed to distinguish events
  which must have been separated by months and even by years. How
  much more easily must others have failed accurately to follow
  details of St. Paul's life known only to himself!

Let us now see whether we cannot harmonise St. Paul's autobiographical
narrative in the Epistle with the Evangelist's narrative in the Acts;
always remembering, however, that an imperfect knowledge is never more
completely felt than in such cases. When we try to harmonise an
account written from the subjective side by one individual with an
objective and exterior narrative written by some one else, we are like
a man looking at a globe and trying to take it all in at one glance.
One side must be hidden from him; and so in this case, many
circumstances are necessarily concealed from us which would solve
difficulties that now completely puzzle us. But let us to our task, in
which we have derived much assistance from the commentary of Bishop
Lightfoot upon Galatians. St. Paul, we are told in ch. ix. 19,
received meat after the visit of Ananias and was strengthened. St.
Paul was never one of those high-wrought fanatics who despise food and
the care of the body. There was nothing of the Gnostic or the
Manichean about him, leading him to despise and neglect the body which
the Lord has given to be the soul's instrument. He recognised under
all circumstances that if the human spirit is to do its work, and if
God's glory is to be promoted, the human body must be sustained in
force and vigour. When he was on board ship and in imminent peril of
shipwreck and death, and men thought they should be at their prayers,
thinking of the next world alone, he took bread and blessed and set
the crew and passengers alike the healthy example of eating a hearty
meal, and thus keeping his body in due preparation for whatever
deliverances the Lord might work for them; and so, too, at Damascus,
his spiritual joy and hallowed peace and deep gratitude for his
restoration to sight did not prevent him paying due attention to the
wants of his body. "He took food, and was strengthened." And now comes
the first note of time. "Then was Saul certain days with the disciples
which were at Damascus. And straightway (εὐθέως) he
preached Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God." The
very same expression is used by St. Paul in Galatians, where, after
speaking of his conversion, he says, "Immediately (εὐθέως)
I conferred not with flesh and blood, but went away into Arabia, and
again returned unto Damascus." Now my explanation, and not mine alone,
but that of Bishop Lightfoot, is this. After the new convert had
rested for a short time at Damascus, he retired into the Sinaitic
desert, where he remained for several months, perhaps for a whole
year. During this period he disappeared from the sight and knowledge
of men as if the earth had opened its mouth and swallowed him. Then he
returned to Damascus and preached with such power that the Jews formed
a plot against his life, enlisting the help of the governor on their
side, so that even the gates were watched that he might be arrested.
He escaped their hands, however, through the assistance of his
converts, and went up to Jerusalem.[56]

  [56] Mr. Lewin, in his _St. Paul_, vol. i., p. 72, argues that the
  governor or ethnarch, as he is called by St. Paul in 2 Cor. xi.
  32, was the Jewish chief magistrate of Damascus, appointed to that
  post by Aretas, King of Petra, who then held Damascus. The Jews
  were allowed by the Romans to have chief magistrates of their own
  wherever they lived in large colonies. At Alexandria, for
  instance, where they occupied a large portion of the city, the
  Jews were ruled by an Alabarch. Mr. Lewin shows in the same place
  a picture of the exact spot in the walls where St. Paul is by
  tradition said to have escaped.

But here another difficulty arises. The Acts tells us that "when Saul
was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples;
but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a
disciple," whereupon Barnabas, fulfilling his office of mediation,
explanation, and consolation, took him and introduced him to the
Apostles; while on the other hand in the first chapter of Galatians
St. Paul himself speaks of his first visit to the Jerusalem Church
thus: "Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas,
and tarried with him fifteen days. But other of the Apostles saw I
none, save James the Lord's brother." Now the difficulty consists in
this. First, how could the disciples at Jerusalem have been suspicious
of St. Paul, if at least a year and a half had elapsed since his
conversion? for the Jewish method of counting time would not require
three whole years to have elapsed since that event. Secondly, how
could Barnabas have brought him to the Apostles as the Acts states, if
St. Paul himself says he saw none of them save Peter and James? As to
the first difficulty, we acknowledge at once that it seems at first
sight a very considerable one, and yet a little reflection will show
that there are many explanations of it. If St. Paul kept quiet, as we
believe he did, after his conversion and baptism, and departed into
the solitudes of Arabia, and then upon his return to Damascus,
perhaps after a year's retirement, began his aggressive work, there
may not have been time for the Church at large to get knowledge of the
facts. Communication, again, may have been interrupted because of the
contest between Herod and Aretas, in which Damascus played no small
part. Communication may not have been possible between the two
Churches.[57] Then, again, the persecution raised by Saul himself
seems to have practically extirpated the Jerusalem Church for a time.
"They were all scattered abroad except the Apostles," is the account
given of the Christian community at Jerusalem. The terror of that
persecution may have lasted many a long month. Numbers of the original
members may never have ventured back again to the Holy City. The
Jerusalem Church may have been a new formation largely composed of new
converts who never had heard of a wondrous circumstance which had
happened a year or two before to the high priest's delegate, which the
Sanhedrin would doubtless desire to keep secret.[58]

  [57] All thought about Saul and his doings may just then have been
  swallowed up in the national excitement about Caligula and his
  attempt to set up his statue in the Temple. The trouble connected
  with the Nazarene sect would seem to every true Jew but a small
  matter compared with the outrage to Jehovah threatened by the mad
  emperor. See more about this in the next chapter.

  [58] It is expressly said in Acts ix. 26 that when Saul came to
  Jerusalem he tried to join himself to the _disciples_. They,
  knowing only of his record as a persecutor, were afraid of him.
  Then Barnabas took him and brought him to the _apostles_.

These and many other considerations offer themselves when we strive to
throw ourselves back into the circumstances of the time and help to a
solution of the first difficulty which we have indicated. Human life
is such a complex thing that the strangest combinations may easily
find place therein. In this particular case we are so ignorant of the
facts, so many hypotheses offer themselves to account for the seeming
inconsistencies, that we hesitate not to identify the visit to
Jerusalem mentioned in the Acts with that recorded by St. Paul in the
Epistle to the Galatians. The second difficulty to which we have
alluded is this, How could Barnabas have brought him to the Apostles,
if St. Paul himself states that he saw none of the Apostles save Peter
and James the Lord's brother? We must remember, however, that St. Luke
and St. Paul wrote with two distinct objects. St. Paul, in the
Galatians, wished to show the independence of his revelations as
regards the Apostles of the circumcision, the Twelve technically so
called. Of these Apostles he saw not one, save St. Peter. St. Luke is
giving a broad external account of the new convert's earliest
religious history, and he tells us that on his first visit to the Holy
City his conversion was acknowledged and guaranteed by the
apostles,--not the Twelve merely, but the apostles, that is, the
senior members of the Christian community, embracing not merely the
original company chosen by Christ, but all the senior members of the
Church, like Barnabas, James, and others who may have formed a supreme
council to guide the affairs of the infant society. The word apostle,
in fact, is used very variously in the New Testament; sometimes in a
limited sense as confined to the Twelve, sometimes in a wider and more
general sense, embracing men like Barnabas, as in Acts xiv. 4, 14; St.
James, the Lord's brother, as in 1 Cor. xv. 7; Andronicus and Junias,
as in Rom. xvi. 7, and many others. It is quite possible, then, that
Barnabas may have brought Saul to the Apostolic council, and told
there the tale of his conversion though not one of the original
Twelve was present save St. Peter.[59]

  [59] See Bishop Lightfoot's dissertation upon St. Paul's first
  visit to Jerusalem, and the use of the term apostle in the New
  Testament in his _Commentary on Galatians_, pp. 91-101. Cf. Volume
  I. of this Commentary, p. 348.

We have now endeavoured to explain some of the difficulties which a
comparison of St. Paul's own autobiographical narrative with the Acts
discloses. Let us look again at the retirement into Arabia. This
retirement seems to us full of instruction and pregnant with meaning
for the hidden as well as the practical life of the soul. St. Paul as
soon as he was baptized retired into Arabia; and why, it may be asked,
did he retire thither? Some of the ancient expositors, as St.
Chrysostom and St. Jerome, both of whom wrote about the same period,
A.D. 400, thought that St. Paul retired into Arabia in order that he
might preach to the Arabians. St. Chrysostom, for instance, comments
thus: "See how fervent was his soul, he was eager to occupy lands yet
untilled. He forthwith attacked a barbarous and savage people,
choosing a life of conflict and of much toil." And the explanations of
Hilary, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret, and Œcumenius, all of
them ancient and acute expositors, are of exactly the same character.
Now this would have been a reversal of the Divine order in one
important aspect. The power of the keys, the office of opening the
kingdom of heaven to the Gentiles had been committed to St. Peter by
Jesus Christ. He had not as yet baptized Cornelius, and thus formally
opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. If St. Paul had preached to
the Arabians, he would have usurped St. Peter's place and function. We
believe, on the other hand, that God led the converted persecutor
into the deserts of Arabia for very different purposes. Let us note a
few of them.

The Lord led Saul there for the purpose of quiet and retirement. The
great commentators and expositors of the early Church, as we have
already noted, used to call St. Paul by the special title of "Vas
Electionis," the chosen vessel _par excellence_, chosen because
surpassing in his gifts and graces and achievements all the other
Apostles. Now it was with the "Vas Electionis" in the New Testament as
with many of his types in the Old Testament. When God would prepare
Moses for his life's work in shepherding, ruling, and guiding His
people through the deserts of Arabia, He first called him for many a
long day into retirement to the Mount of Horeb and the solitudes of
the Sinaitic desert. When God would strengthen and console the spirit
depressed, wounded and severely smitten, of his servant Elijah, He
brought him to the same mysterious spot, and there restored his moral
and spiritual tone, and equipped him with new strength for his warfare
by the visions of the Almighty lovingly vouchsafed to him. The Founder
or Former of the Jewish Dispensation and the Reformer of the same
Dispensation were prepared and sustained for their work amid the
solitudes of the Arabian deserts; and what more fitting place in which
the "Vas Electionis," the chosen vessel of the New Dispensation,
should be trained? What more suitable locality where the Lord Jesus
should make those fuller and completer revelations of Christian
doctrine and mystery which his soul needed, than there where
lightning-blasted cliff and towering mountains all alike spoke of God
and of His dealings with mankind in the mysterious ages of a
long-departed past? The Lord thus taught St. Paul, and through him
teaches the Church of every age, the need of seasons of retirement and
communion with God preparatory to and in close connexion with any
great work or scene of external activity, such as St. Paul was now
entering upon. It is a lesson much needed by this age of ours when men
are tempted to think so much of practical work which appears at once
in evidence, making its presence felt in tangible results, and so very
little of devotional work and spiritual retirement which cannot be
estimated by any earthly standard or tabulated according to our modern
methods. Men are now inclined to think _laborare est orare_, and that
active external work faithfully and vigorously rendered can take the
place and supply the want of prayer and thought, of quiet study and
devout meditation. Against such a tendency the Lord's dealings with
St. Paul, yea more, the Divine dealings with and leadings of the
eternal Son Himself, form a loud and speaking protest. The world was
perishing and men were going down to the grave in darkness and Satan
and sin were triumphing, and yet Jesus was led up of the Spirit into
the wilderness for forty days, and Saul was brought out into the
deserts of Arabia from amid the teeming crowds of Damascus that he
might learn those secrets of the Divine life which are best
communicated to those who wait upon God in patient prayer and holy
retirement. This is a lesson very necessary for this hot and fitful
and feverish age of ours, when men are in such a hurry to have
everything set right and every abuse destroyed all at once. Their
haste is not after the Divine model, and their work cannot expect the
stability and solidity we find in God's. The nineteenth-century
extreme is reproved by St. Paul's retirement into Arabia.[60] Man is,
however, such a creature that if he avoids one extreme he generally
tumbles into another. And so it is in this matter. Men have been ready
to push this matter of retirement into an extreme, and have considered
that they were following St. Paul's example in retiring into the
Arabian and similar deserts and remaining there. But they have made a
great mistake. St. Paul retired into Arabia for a while, and then
"returned again unto Damascus." They have retired into the deserts and
have remained there engaged in the one selfish task of saving their
own souls, as they thought, by the exercises of prayer and meditation,
apart from that life of active good works for the sake of others which
constitutes another department of Christianity equally vital to the
health of the soul.

  [60] We may apply this typical fact in primitive Church history in
  a very modern direction. It would be very well if candidates for
  the sacred ministry always imitated St. Paul's departure into
  Arabia. I have known a great many promising careers spoiled
  because young deacons would select a heavy, laborious town or city
  charge for the opening work of their ministry. They know nothing
  of life or the world. They know nothing of preaching or pastoral
  work. They have, too, all their mistakes to make, and they select
  the most public place for their perpetration. But this is not the
  worst. They form habits of busy idleness and of mental dissipation
  which never leave them. The first two or three years of a young
  clergyman's life generally determine his whole career. His life
  never recovers the effect of the initial movement. I think the
  great outcry, in the Church of England at least, against sermons
  largely owing to the decay of study resulting from premature
  activity on the part of the junior clergy. Premature development
  in any direction is ever followed by premature decay, and when a
  young priest or deacon is engaged every day and every night in the
  week from an early service at 8 a.m. till night-school is finished
  at 10 p.m. in external work, how can he prepare for teaching an
  educated congregation on Sundays? And surely there ought to be
  some little consideration for thinking men and educated women as
  well as for others.

The history of Eastern monasticism is marked from its earliest days by
an eager desire to follow St. Paul in his retirement into Arabia, and
an equal disinclination to return with him unto Damascus. And this
characteristic, this intense devotion to a life of solitude strangely
enough passed over to our own Western islands, and is a dominant
feature of the monasticism which prevailed in Great Britain and
Ireland in the days of Celtic Christianity. The Syrian and Egyptian
monks passed over to Lerins and Southern Gaul, whence their disciples
came to England and Ireland, where they established themselves,
bringing with them all their Eastern love of solitary deserts. This
taste they perpetuated, as may be seen especially on the western coast
of Ireland, where the ruins of extensive monastic settlements still
exist, testifying to this craving. The last islands, for instance,
which a traveller sees as he steams away from Cork to America, are
called the Skelligs. They are ten miles west of the Kerry coast, and
yet there on these rocks where a boat cannot land sometimes for months
together the early monks of the fifth and six centuries established
themselves as in a desert in the ocean. The topography of Ireland is
full of evidences and witnesses of this desire to imitate the Apostle
of the Gentiles in his Arabian retirement. There are dozens of town
lands--subdivisions of the parishes--which are called deserts or
diserts,[61] because they constituted solitudes set apart for hermit
life after the example of St. Paul in Arabia and John the Baptist in
the deserts of Judæa. While, again, when we turn northwards along the
western seaboard of Ireland, we shall find numerous islands like the
Skelligs, Ardoilen or the High Island, off the coast of Connemara, and
Innismurry off the Sligo coast, where hermit cells in the regular
Egyptian and Syrian fashion were built, and still exist as they did a
thousand years ago, testifying to the longing of the human mind for
such complete solitude and close communion with God as Saul enjoyed
when he departed from Damascus.[62] The monks of ancient times may
have run into one extreme: well would it be for us if we could avoid
the other, and learn to cultivate self-communion, meditation,
self-examination, and that realisation of the eternal world which God
grants to those who wait upon Him apart from the bustle and din and
dust of earth, which clog the spiritual senses and dim the heavenly

  [61] See Joyce's _Irish Names of Places_, vol. i., p. 325.

  [62] I have touched upon the subject of the connexion between
  Syria and Egypt and Oriental monasticism on the one hand, and
  Gaul, England, and Ireland on the other, during the period which
  elapsed between A.D. 400 and 900, in _Ireland and the Celtic
  Church_, chs. ix. and xi. I have discussed it at greater length
  and with fuller details in two papers upon the Knowledge of Greek
  in Gaul and Ireland, read before the Royal Irish Academy in
  February 1892, now published in the Proceedings of that body; and
  also in two papers, one upon the Island Monasteries of Great
  Britain and Ireland and the other on St. Fechin of Fore,
  published, the former in the Journal of the Royal Society of
  Antiquaries of Ireland for 1891, and the latter in the same
  Journal for April 1st, 1892.

We can see many other reasons why Paul was led into Arabia. He was led
there, for instance, that he might make a thorough scrutiny of his
motives. Silence, separation, solitude, have a wondrous tendency to
make a man honest with himself and humbly honest before his God. Saul
might have been a hypocrite or a formalist elsewhere, where human eyes
and jealous glances were bent upon him, but scarcely when there alone
with Jehovah in the desert. Again, Saul was led there that his soul
might be ennobled and enlarged by the power of magnificent scenery, of
high and hallowed associations. Mountain and cliff and flood,
specially those which have been magnified and made honourable by grand
memories such as must have crowded upon Saul's mind, have a marvellous
effect, enlarging, widening, developing, upon a soul like Saul's, long
cribbed, cabined, and confined within the rigorous bonds of Pharisaic
religionism. Saul, too, was led up into those mysterious regions away
from the busy life and work, the pressing calls of Damascus, that he
might speak a word in season to us all, and especially to those young
in the Christian life, who think in the first burst of their zeal and
faith as if they had nothing to do but go in and possess the whole
land. Saul did not set out at once to evangelise the masses of
Damascus, or to waste the first weak beginnings of his spiritual life
in striving to benefit or awaken others. He was first led away into
the deserts of Arabia, in order that there he might learn of the deep
things of God and of the weak things of his own nature, and then, when
God had developed his spiritual strength, He led him back to Damascus
that he might testify out of the fulness of a heart which knew the
secrets of the Most High. The teaching of Saul's example speaks loudly
to us all. It was the same with Saul as with a greater than he. The
Eternal Son Himself was trained amid years and years of darkness and
secrecy, and even after His baptism the day of His manifestation unto
Israel was delayed yet a little. Jesus Christ was no novice when He
came preaching. And Saul of Tarsus was no novice in the Christian life
when he appeared as the Christian advocate in the synagogue of
Damascus. Well would it have been for many a soul had this Divine
example been more closely copied. Again and again have the young and
ignorant and inexperienced been encouraged to stand up as public
teachers immediately after they have been seriously impressed. They
have yielded to the unwise solicitation. The vanity of the human heart
has seconded the foolish advice given to them, and they have tried to
declare the deep things of God when as yet they have need of learning
the very first principles of the doctrine of Christ. Is it any wonder
that such persons oftentimes make shipwreck of faith and a sound
conscience? Truth is very large and wide and spacious, and requires
much time and thought if it is to be assimilated; and even when truth
is grasped in all its mighty fulness, then there are spiritual enemies
within and without and spiritual pitfalls to be avoided which can be
known only by experience. Woe is then to that man who is not assisted
by grace and guided by Divine experience, and who knows not God and
the powers of the world to come, and the devious paths of his own
heart, as these things can only be known and learned as Saul of Tarsus
knew and learned them in the deserts of Arabia. There was marvellous
wisdom contained in the brief apostolic law enacted for candidates for
holy orders in words gathered from St. Paul's own personal history,
"Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the
condemnation of the devil."



     "Now there was a certain man in Cæsarea, Cornelius by name, a
     centurion of the band called the Italian band, a devout man, and
     one that feared God with all his house, who gave much alms to the
     people, and prayed to God alway. He saw in a vision openly, as it
     were about the ninth hour of the day, an angel of God coming in
     unto him, and saying to him, Cornelius. And he, fastening his
     eyes upon him, and being affrighted, said, What is it, Lord? And
     he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are gone up for a
     memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa, and fetch one
     Simon, who is surnamed Peter: he lodgeth with one Simon a tanner,
     whose house is by the sea side."--ACTS x. 1-6.

We have now arrived at another crisis in the history of the early
Church of Christ. The Day of Pentecost, the conversion of Saul of
Tarsus, the call of Cornelius, and the foundation of the Gentile
Church of Antioch are, if we are to pick and choose amid the events
related by St. Luke, the turning-points of the earliest ecclesiastical
history. The conversion of St. Paul is placed by St. Luke before the
conversion of Cornelius, and is closely connected with it. Let us then
inquire by what events St. Luke unites the two. German commentators of
the modern school, who are nothing unless they are original, have not
been willing to allow that St. Luke's narrative is continuous. They
have assigned various dates to the conversion of Cornelius. Some have
made it precede the conversion of St. Paul, others have fixed it to
the time of Paul's sojourn in Arabia, and so on, without any other
solid reasons than what their own fancies suggest. I prefer, however,
to think that St. Luke's narrative follows the great broad outlines of
the Christian story, and sets forth the events of the time in a
divinely ordered sequence. At any rate I prefer to follow the course
of events as the narrative suggests them, till I see some good reason
to think otherwise. I do not think that the mere fact that the sacred
writer states events in a certain order is a sufficient reason to
think that the true order must have been quite a different one. Taking
them in this light they yield themselves very naturally to the work of
an expositor. Let us reflect then upon that sequence as here set forth
for us.

Saul of Tarsus went up to Jerusalem to confer with St. Peter, who had
been hitherto the leading spirit of the apostolic conclave. He
laboured in Jerusalem among the Hellenistic synagogues for some
fifteen days. A conspiracy was then formed against his life. The Lord,
ever watchful over His chosen servant, warned him to depart from
Jerusalem, indicating to him as he prayed in the Temple the scope and
sphere of his future work, saying, "Depart: for I will send thee forth
far hence unto the Gentiles" (see Acts xxii. 21). The Christians of
Jerusalem, having learned the designs of his enemies, conveyed Saul to
Cæsarea, the chief Roman port of Palestine, whence they despatched him
to Cilicia, his native province, where he laboured in obscurity and
quietness for some time. St. Peter may have been one of the rescue
party who saved Saul from the hands of his enemies escorting him to
Cæsarea, and this circumstance may have led him to the western
district of the country. At any rate we find him soon after labouring
in Western Palestine at some distance from Jerusalem. Philip the
Evangelist had been over the same ground a short time previously, and
St. Peter may have been sent forth by the mother Church to supervise
his work and confer that formal imposition of hands which from the
beginning has formed the completion of baptism, and seems to have been
reserved to the Apostles or their immediate delegates. Peter's visit
to Western Palestine, to Lydda and Sharon and Joppa, may have been
just like the visit he had paid some time previously, in company with
St. John, to the city of Samaria, when he came for the first time in
contact with Simon Magus. St. Luke gives us here a note of time
helping us to fix approximately the date of the formal admission of
Cornelius and the Gentiles into the Church. He mentions that the
Churches then enjoyed peace and quietness all through Palestine,
enabling St. Peter to go upon his work of preaching and supervision.
It may perhaps strike some persons that this temporary peace must have
been attained through the conversion of Saul, the most active
persecutor. But that event had happened more than two years before, in
the spring of 37 A.D., and, far from diminishing, would probably have
rather intensified the hostility of the Jewish hierarchy. It was now
the autumn of the year 39, and a bitter spirit still lingered at
Jerusalem, as Saul himself and the whole Church had just proved.
External authorities, Jewish and Roman history, here step in to
illustrate and confirm the sacred narrative.

The Emperor Caius Caligula, who ascended the throne of the empire
about the time of Stephen's martyrdom, was a strange character. He was
wholly self-willed, madly impious, utterly careless of human life, as
indeed unregenerate mankind ever is. Christianity alone has taught the
precious value of the individual human soul the awful importance of
human life as the probation time for eternity, and has thereby
ameliorated the harshness of human laws, the sternness of human
rulers, ready to inflict capital punishment on any pretence
whatsoever. Caligula determined to establish the worship of himself
throughout the world. He had no opposition to dread from the pagans,
who were ready to adopt any creed or any cult, no matter how
degrading, which their rulers prescribed. Caligula knew, however, that
the Jews were more obstinate, because they alone were conscious that
they possessed a Divine revelation. He issued orders, therefore, to
Petronius, the Roman governor of Syria, Palestine, and the East, to
erect his statue in Jerusalem and to compel the Jews to offer
sacrifice thereto. Josephus tells us of the opposition which the Jews
offered to Caligula; how they abandoned their agricultural operations
and assembled in thousands at different points, desiring Petronius to
slay them at once, as they could never live if the Divine laws were so
violated. The whole energies of the nation were for months
concentrated on this one object, the repeal of the impious decree of
Caligula, which they at last attained through their own determination
and by the intervention of Herod Agrippa, who was then at Rome.[63]
It was during this awful period of uncertainty and opposition that the
infant Church enjoyed a brief period of repose and quiet growth,
because the whole nation from the high priest to the lowest beggar had
something else to think of than how to persecute a new sect that was
as yet rigorously scrupulous in observing the law of Moses. During
this period of repose from persecution St. Peter made his tour of
inspection "throughout all parts," Samaria, Galilee, Judæa,
terminating with Lydda, where he healed, or at least prayed for the
healing of, Æneas,[64] and with Joppa, where his prayer was followed
by the restoration of Tabitha or Dorcas, who has given a designation
now widely applied to the assistance which devout women can give to
their poorer sisters in Christ.

  [63] See the whole story told at length in Josephus,
  _Antiquities_, Book XVIII., ch. viii., 8, and in his _Wars_, Book
  II., ch. x. This story, which is little known to Bible students,
  is most interesting. It fully explains the repose from persecution
  which the Church enjoyed at the time of the conversion of
  Cornelius and helps us to fix its date. In the year 39 Petronius,
  the prefect of Syria, received orders from the Emperor Caligula to
  set up his statue as a god in the Temple. He advanced to fulfil
  the Emperor's command with two legions and a number of auxiliary
  troops, and came as far as Ptolemais, a maritime town of Galilee,
  which is mentioned in Acts xxi. 7 as a place where St. Paul
  visited a Church, of which we hear nothing else. The Jewish nation
  met the prefect there in tens of thousands, entreating him to
  desist or else to put them to immediate death. He halted his army
  and appointed a further conference at Tiberias, where the people
  met him and continued their entreaties for fifty days, though it
  was seed-time and a famine might result from their neglect of the
  spring operations. Petronius suspended his operations for the
  time, and wrote back to the Emperor an account of the Jewish
  opposition. Herod Agrippa too, who was then at Rome and in high
  favour with the Emperor, lent his assistance, and obtained a
  temporary respite for the Jews by a timely and expensive banquet
  which he prepared for him. Towards the close of A.D. 40 Caligula,
  however, determined to set out and personally compel the obedience
  of the Jews. But his assassination in January 41 relieved their
  apprehensions, and freed the world from Caligula's mad freaks.
  During that period of anxiety, lasting fully a year and a half,
  the Jews had neither time nor thought for the new sect, which was
  opposed as strongly as themselves to the Emperor's impious
  projects and whose members doubtless flung themselves as heartily
  into the opposition. The Jews at Alexandria suffered at the same
  time a terrible persecution, of which Philo and Josephus tell: see
  Mommsen's _Provinces of the Roman Empire_, vol. ii., pp. 190-96
  (Dickson's Translation). This is one of those incidental touches
  which prove the wonderful accuracy of this book of the Acts. Dr.
  Lightfoot has remarked (_Essays on Supernatural Religion_) that no
  book of the Bible has so many points of contact with current
  history and politics as the Acts, and can therefore be more easily
  tested. This special case is an interesting illustration of the
  learned bishop's view.

  [64] Perhaps it is well to note that this is not the classical
  word Æneas, which in Greek would be represented by Αἰνείας,
  but a different name with a short _e_, and is written
  in Greek Αἰνέασ. The latter is found in Thucydides and
  Xenophon: see Meyer _in loco_.

We thus see how God by the secret guidance of His Spirit, shaping his
course by ways and roads known only to Himself, led St. Peter to the
house of Simon the tanner, where he abode many days waiting in
patience to know God's mind and will which were soon to be opened out
to him. We have now traced the line of events which connect the
conversion of Saul of Tarsus with that of Cornelius the centurion of
Cæsarea. Let us apply ourselves to the circumstances surrounding the
latter event, which is of such vital importance to us Gentile
Christians as having been the formal Divine proclamation to the Church
and to the world that the mystery which had been hid for ages was now
made manifest, and that the Gentiles were spiritually on an equality
with the Jews. The Church was now about to burst the bonds which had
restrained it for five years at least. We stand by the birth of
European Christendom and of modern civilisation. It is well, then,
that we should learn and inwardly digest every, even the slightest,
detail concerning such a transcendent and notable crisis. Let us take
them briefly one by one as the sacred narrative reports them.

I. I note, then, in the first place that the _time_ of this conversion
was wisely and providentially chosen. The time was just about eight
years after the Ascension and the foundation of the Church. Time
enough therefore had elapsed for Christianity to take root among the
Jews. This was most important. The gospel was first planted among the
Jews, took form and life and shape, gained its initial impulse and
direction among God's ancient people in order that the constitution,
the discipline, and the worship of the Church might be framed on the
ancient Jewish model and might be built up by men whose minds were
cast in a conservative mould. Not that we have the old law with its
wearisome and burdensome ritual perpetuated in the Christian Church.
That law was a yoke too heavy for man to bear. But, then, the highest
and best elements of the old Jewish system have been perpetuated in
the Church. There was in Judaism by God's own appointment a public
ministry, a threefold public ministry too, exercised by the high
priest, the priests, and the Levites. There is in Christianity a
threefold ministry exercised by bishops, presbyters or elders, and
deacons.[65] There were in Judaism public and consecrated sanctuaries,
fixed liturgies, public reading of God's Word, a service of choral
worship, hymns of joy and thanksgiving, the sacraments of Holy
Communion and baptism in a rudimentary shape; all these were
transferred from the old system that was passing away into the new
system that was taking its place. Had the Gentiles been admitted much
earlier all this might not have so easily happened. Men do not easily
change their habits. Habits, indeed, are chains which rivet
themselves year by year with ever-increasing power round our natures;
and the Jewish converts brought their habits of thought and worship
into the Church of Christ, establishing there those institutions of
prayer and worship, of sacramental communion and preaching which we
still enjoy. But we must observe, on the other hand, that, had the
Gentiles been admitted a little later, the Church might have assumed
too Jewish and Levitical an aspect. This pause of eight years, during
which Jews alone formed the Church, is another instance of those
delays of the Lord[66] which, whether they happen in public or in
private life, are always found in the long run to be wise, blessed,
and providential things, though for a time they may seem dark and
mysterious, according to that ancient strain of the Psalmist, "Wait on
the Lord, ... and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, upon
the Lord."[67]

  [65] I do not intend to raise any disputed question as to Church
  polity and government in this book, and so I may point out,
  without compromising my own views in the least, that even a
  Presbyterian may agree in this statement, as he may hold that his
  own teaching elder or minister corresponds to the primitive
  bishop, his ruling elders to the presbyters, and his own deacons
  to the ancient deacons. Presbyterianism claims thus a threefold
  ministry as well as Episcopacy.

  [66] What a fine subject for historical study the delays of the
  Lord would prove. The delay of the Incarnation till the world was
  ready is a supreme instance of them. The delay of the triumph of
  Christianity, of the break up of the Roman Empire, of the
  Reformation so often attempted but never effected till the
  invention of printing and the revival of learning,--these and
  numerous other illustrations fling light upon the darkness which
  still surrounds the Divine methods and dispensations amid which we

  [67] This and several other thoughts in this chapter will be found
  worked out in a sermon of Bishop Jebb, a well-known preacher of
  the last generation who is now almost forgotten. Yet he published
  several volumes of sermons and other theological works, which had
  no small influence in laying the foundations of the Oxford
  movement. His sermons are full of matter, though not composed in a
  modern style. This cannot be wondered at when we find from his
  well-known correspondence with Alexander Knox that a single sermon
  sometimes was the work of several months, if not even years. The
  leisurely character of even busy lives in the opening years of
  this century is strikingly illustrated by the correspondence
  between these learned men. Bishop Jebb preached a sermon in 1804
  on the well-known Vincentian rule of faith, "Quod semper, quod
  ubique, etc." This sermon he elaborated till 1815, and then
  published it. It played no small part in religious controversies
  between 1815 and 1840, as a reference to the _Christian Observer_,
  the _Christian Examiner_, and other religious periodicals of that
  time will show.

II. Again, the _place_ where the Church burst its Jewish shell and
emerged into full gospel freedom is noteworthy. It was at Cæsarea. It
is a great pity that people do not make more use of maps in their
study of Holy Scripture. Sunday evenings are often a dull time in
Christian households, and the bare mechanical reading of Scripture and
of good books often only makes them duller. How much livelier,
interesting, and instructive they would be were an attempt made to
trace the journeys of the apostles with a map, or to study the scenes
where they laboured--Jerusalem, Cæsarea, Damascus, Ephesus, Athens,
and Rome--with some of the helps which modern scholarship and
commercial enterprise now place within easy reach. I can speak thus
with the force of personal experience, for my own keen interest in
this book which I am expounding dates from the Sunday evenings of
boyhood thus spent, though without many of the aids which now lie
within the reach of all. This is essentially the modern method of
study, especially in matters historical. A modern investigator and
explorer of Bible sites and lands has well expressed this truth when
he said, "Topography is the foundation of history. If we are ever to
understand history, we must understand the places where that history
was transacted."[68] The celebrated historians the late Mr. Freeman
and Mr. Green worked a revolution in English historical methods by
teaching people that an indefatigable use of maps and a careful study
of the physical features of any country are absolutely needful for a
true conception of its history. In this respect at least secular
history and sacred history are alike. Without a careful study of the
map we cannot understand God's dealings with the Church of Christ, as
is manifest from the case of Cæsarea at which we have arrived. The
narratives of the Gospels and of the Acts will be confused,
unintelligible, unless we understand that there were two Cæsareas in
Palestine, one never mentioned in the Gospels, the other never
mentioned in the Acts. Cæsarea Philippi was a celebrated city of
North-eastern Palestine. It was when our Lord was within its borders
that St. Peter made his celebrated confession, "Thou art the Christ,
the Son of the living God," told of in St. Matthew xvi. 13-16. This is
the only Cæsarea of which we hear in the Gospels. It was an inland
town, built by the Herods in joint honour of themselves and of their
patrons the Emperors of Rome, and bore all the traces of its origin.
It was decorated with a splendid pagan temple, was a thoroughly pagan
town, and was therefore abhorred by every true Jew. There was another
Cæsarea, the great Roman port of Palestine and the capital, where the
Roman governors resided. It was situated in the borders of
Phœnicia, in a north-westerly direction from Jerusalem, with which
it was connected by a fine military road.[69] This Cæsarea had been
originally built by Herod the Great. He spent twelve years at this
undertaking, and succeeded in making it a splendid monument of the
magnificence of his conceptions. The seaboard of Palestine is totally
devoid to this day of safe harbours. Herod constructed a harbour at
vast expense. Let us hear the story of its foundation in the very
words of the Jewish historian. Josephus tells us that Herod, observing
"that Joppa and Dora are not fit for havens on account of the
impetuous south winds which beat upon them, which, rolling the sands
which come from the sea against the shores, do not admit of ships
lying in their station; but the merchants are generally there forced
to ride at their anchors in the sea itself. So Herod endeavoured to
rectify this inconvenience, and laid out such a compass toward the
land as might be sufficient for a haven, wherein the great ships might
lie in safety; and this he effected by letting down vast stones of
above fifty feet in length, not less than eighteen in breadth and nine
in depth, into twenty fathoms deep."[70] The Romans, when they took
possession of Palestine, adopted and developed Herod's plans, and
established Cæsarea on the coast as the permanent residence of the
procurator of Palestine. And it was a wise policy. The Romans, like
the English, had a genius for government. They fixed their provincial
capitals upon or near the sea-coast that their communications might be
ever kept open. Thus in our own case Calcutta, Bombay, Madras,
Capetown, Quebec, and Dublin are all seaport towns. And so in ancient
times Antioch, Alexandria, Tarsus, Ephesus, Marseilles, Corinth,
London, were all seaports and provincial Roman capitals as Cæsarea was
in Palestine. And it was a very wise policy. The Jews were a fierce,
bold, determined people when they revolted. If the seat of Roman rule
had been fixed at Jerusalem, a rebellion might completely cut off all
effective relief from the besieged garrison, which would never happen
at Cæsarea so long as the command of the sea was vested in the vast
navies which the Roman State possessed. Cæsarea was to a large extent
a Gentile city, though within some seventy miles of Jerusalem. It had
a considerable Jewish population with their attendant synagogues, but
the most prominent features were pagan temples, one of them serving
for a lighthouse and beacon for the ships which crowded its harbour,
together with a theatre and an amphitheatre, where scenes were daily
enacted from which every sincere Jew must have shrunk with horror.
Such was the place--a most fitting place, Gentile, pagan, idolatrous
to the very core and centre--where God chose to reveal Himself as
Father of the Gentiles as well as of the Jews, and showed Christ's
gospel as a light to lighten the Gentiles as well as the glory of His
people Israel.

  [68] See Ramsay's _Historical Geography of Asia Minor_, pp. 51,

  [69] The most detailed account of Cæsarea-on-the-Sea, its ruins
  and present state, will be found in the _Memoirs_ of the Survey of
  Western Palestine, vol. ii., pp. 13-29. It is accompanied with
  plans and maps, which show that ancient Roman Cæsarea was ten
  times the size of the mediæval city which the Crusaders occupied.
  Geikie's _The Holy Land and the Bible_, ch. iv., gives a very
  interesting account of the ancient and modern state of Cæsarea.

  [70] See Josephus, _Antiquities_, XV. ix. 6; _Wars of Jews_, I.
  xxi. Mr. Lewin, in his _Life of St. Paul_, vol. ii., ch. iv.,
  spends several pages in an elaborate discussion of the buildings
  and plan of Cæsarea, to which it must here suffice to refer.

III. Then, again, the _person_ chosen as the channel of this
revelation is a striking character. He was "Cornelius by name, a
centurion of the band called the Italian band."[71] Here, then, we
note first of all that Cornelius was a Roman soldier. Let us pause
and reflect upon this. In no respect does the New Testament display
more clearly its Divine origin than in the manner in which it rises
superior to mere provincialism. There are no narrow national
prejudices about it like those which nowadays lead Englishmen to
despise other nations, or those which in ancient times led a
thorough-going Jew to look down with sovereign contempt on the Gentile
world as mere dogs and outcasts. The New Testament taught that all men
were equal and were brothers in blood, and thus laid the foundations
of those modern conceptions which have well-nigh swept slavery from
the face of civilised Christendom. The New Testament and its teaching
is the parent of that modern liberalism which now rules every circle,
no matter what its political designation. In no respect does this
universal catholic feeling of the New Testament display itself more
clearly than in the pictures it presents to us of Roman military men.
They are uniformly most favourable. Without one single exception the
pictures drawn for us of every centurion and soldier mentioned in the
books of the New Testament are bright with some element of good
shining out conspicuously by way of favourable contrast, when brought
side by side with the Jewish people, upon whom more abundant and more
blessed privileges had been in vain lavished. Let us just note a few
instances which will illustrate our view. The soldiers sought John's
baptism and humbly received John's penitential advice and direction
when priests and scribes rejected the Lord's messenger (Luke iii. 14).
A soldier and a centurion received Christ's commendation for the
exercise of a faith surpassing in its range and spiritual perception
any faith which the Master had found within the bounds and limits of
Israel according to the flesh. "Verily I have not found so great
faith, no, not in Israel," were Christ's almost wondering words as He
heard the confession of His God-like nature, His Divine power involved
in the centurion's prayer of humility, "I am not worthy that Thou
shouldest come under my roof: but only say the word, and my servant
shall be healed" (cf. Matt. viii. 5-13). So was it again with the
centurion to whom the details of our Lord's execution were committed.
He too is painted in a favourable light. He had an open mind, willing
to receive evidence. He received that evidence under the most
unfavourable conditions. His mind was convinced of our Lord's mission
and character, not by His triumphs, but by His apparent defeat. As the
victim of Jewish malice and prejudice yielded up the ghost and
committed His pure, unspotted soul to the hands of His heavenly
Father, then it was that, struck by the supernatural spirit of love
and gentleness and forgiveness--those great forces of Christianity
which never at any other time or in any other age have had their full
and fair play--the centurion yielded the assent of his affections and
of his intellect to the Divine mission of the suffering Saviour, and
cried, "Truly this man was the Son of God" (Matt. xxvii. 54). So it
was again with Julius the centurion, who courteously entreated St.
Paul on his voyage as a prisoner to Rome (Acts xxvii. 3); and so again
it was with Cornelius the centurion, of the band called the Italian

  [71] Cornelius was a centurion of the Italian band. This is
  another of the accidental coincidences which attest the
  genuineness of the Acts. The Roman army was divided into two broad
  divisions, the legions and the auxiliary forces. Now the legions
  were never permanently quartered in Palestine till the great war
  which ended in the destruction of Jerusalem, which began in A.D.
  66 and ended in A.D. 70. A legion was then for the first time
  stationed with a fixed camp upon the site of the Holy City: see
  Mommsen's _Roman Provinces_, ii. 218. The auxiliary forces were a
  kind of militia raised upon the spot. Palestine was made a
  province of the second rank in A.D. 6, and from that time to the
  year 66 was garrisoned, like all second-rank provinces,
  exclusively by auxiliary troops, the headquarters of which were at
  Cæsarea. These auxiliaries, recruited amongst the Samaritans and
  Syrian Greeks, numbered one ala and five cohorts, about three
  thousand men: see Mommsen, _loc. cit._, p. 186. It would not have
  been prudent, however, to have a garrison in Palestine exclusively
  composed of troops locally recruited, even though restricted to
  Samaritans and Syrians, just as no prudent English government
  would garrison Ireland with a militia drawn from Ulster Orangemen
  alone. The Roman Government therefore mingled with the garrison of
  Cæsarea an auxiliary cohort composed of Italians. There were
  thirty-two Italian auxiliary cohorts which were thus used as a
  salutary precaution against treachery on the part of the local
  militia. See, on this interesting point, Marquardt, _L'
  Organisation Militaire chez les Romains_, p. 189 (French Edition),
  where this learned German writer often quotes the Acts of the
  Apostles to illustrate the military arrangements in Palestine
  during the first sixty years of the first century. Such was the
  military organisation of Palestine from _A.D._ 6 to 66. After that
  period Palestine was ruled in the sternest military manner, and
  treated like a border province subject to martial law with
  legionaries scattered all over it. Now if the Acts were written in
  the beginning of the second century, a writer would almost
  certainly have missed the correct description of the troops
  stationed at Cæsarea as St. Luke gives it in this passage. See
  also the article "Exercitus" in the new edition of Smith's
  _Dictionary of Roman and Greek Antiquities_; Mommsen, on the Roman
  Legions, in _Ephemeris Epigraphica_, vol. v. and Pfitzner,
  _Geschichte der Römischen Kaiserlegionen_.

Now how comes this to pass? What a striking evidence of the workings
and presence of the Divine Spirit in the writers of our sacred books
we may find in this fact! The Roman soldiers were of course the
symbols to a patriotic Jew of a hated foreign sway, of an idolatrous
jurisdiction and rule. A Jew uninfluenced by supernatural grace and
unguided by Divine inspiration would never have drawn such pictures of
Roman centurions as the New Testament has handed down to us. The
pictures, indeed, drawn by the opposition press of any country is not
generally a favourable one when dealing with the persons and officials
of the dominant party. But the apostles--Jews though they were of
narrow, provincial, prejudiced Galilee--had drunk deep of the spirit
of the new religion. They recognised that Jesus Christ, the King of
the kingdom of heaven, cared nothing about what form of government
men lived under. They knew that Christ ignored all differences of
climate, age, sex, nationality, or employment. They felt that the only
distinctions recognised in Christ's kingdom were spiritual
distinctions, and therefore they recognised the soul of goodness
wherever found. They welcomed the honest and true heart, no matter
beneath what skin it beat, and found therefore in many of these Roman
soldiers some of the ablest, the most devoted, and the most effective
servants and teachers of the Cross of Jesus Christ. Verily the
universal and catholic principles of the new religion which found
their first formal proclamation in the age of Cornelius met with an
ample vindication and a full reward in the trophies won and the
converts gained from such an unpromising source as the ranks of the
Roman army. This seems to me one reason for the favourable notices of
the Roman soldiers in the New Testament. The Divine Spirit wished to
impress upon mankind that birth, position, or employment have no
influence upon a man's state in God's sight, and to prove by a number
of typical examples that spiritual conditions and excellence alone
avail to find favour with the Almighty.

Another reason, however, may be found for this fact. The Scriptures
never make light of discipline or training. "Train up a child in the
way he should go" is a Divine precept. St. Paul, in his Pastoral
Epistles, lays down as one great qualification for a bishop that he
should have this power of exercising discipline and rule at home as
well as abroad: "For if he knoweth not how to rule his own house, how
shall he take care of the Church of God?" (1 Tim. iii. 5). By
discipline, the discipline of Egypt and the wilderness, did God
prepare His people for Canaan. By the discipline of captivity and
dispersion, by the discipline of Greek philosophy spreading novel
intellectual ideas, by the discipline of Roman dominion executing
mighty public works, carrying roads and intercommunication to the
remotest and most barbarous nations, did God prepare the world for the
revelation of His Son. By the discipline of life, by joy and sorrow,
by strife and suffering, by parting and by loss, does God still
prepare His faithful ones for the beatific vision of eternal beauty,
for the rest and joy of everlasting peace. And discipline worked out
its usual results on these military men, even though it was only an
imperfect and pagan discipline which these Roman soldiers received.
Let us note carefully how this was. The world of unregenerate man at
the time of our Lord's appearance had become utterly selfish.
Discipline of every kind had been flung off. Self-restraint was
practically unknown, and the devil and his works flourished in every
circle, bringing forth the fruits of wickedness, uncleanness, and
impurity in every direction. The army was the only place or region
where in those times any kind of discipline or self-restraint was
practised. For no army can permit--even if it be an army of
atheists--profligacy and drunkenness to rage, flaunting themselves
beneath the very eye of the sun. And as the spiritual result we find
that this small measure of pagan discipline acted as a preparation for
Christianity, and became under the Divine guidance the means of
fitting men like Cornelius of Cæsarea for the reception of the gospel
message of purity and peace.[72]

  [72] "The Roman camps were also the best training-schools for the
  old-fashioned virtues of faithfulness, straightforwardness, and
  hardihood; and in them were to be found the best types of the old
  Roman character, which, as moralists complained, were to be found
  elsewhere no more. If the funds of a country town had fallen into
  disorder, or uprightness was needed for a special post, the
  curator chosen by the Government was often an old soldier, who had
  long been tried and trusted; and early Christian history throws,
  incidentally, a favourable light upon the moral qualities of the
  Roman officer. These qualities were mainly formed by thoroughness
  of work and discipline."--W. W. CAPES, _The Early Empire_, p.

But we observe that Cornelius the centurion had one special feature
which made him peculiarly fitted to be God's instrument for opening
the Christian faith to the Gentile world. The choice of Cornelius is
marked by all that skill and prudence, that careful adaptation of
means to ends which the Divine workmanship, whether in nature or in
grace, ever displays. There were many Roman centurions stationed at
Cæsarea, yet none was chosen save Cornelius, and that because he was
"a devout man who feared God with all his house, praying to God
always, and giving much alms to the people." He feared Jehovah, he
fasted, prayed, observed Jewish hours of devotion. His habits were
much more those of a devout Jew than of a pagan soldier. He was
popular with the Jewish people therefore, like another centurion of
whom it was said by the Jewish officials themselves "he loveth our
nation and hath built us a synagogue." The selection of Cornelius as
the leader and firstfruits of the Gentiles unto God was eminently
prudent and wise. God when He is working out His plans chooses His
instruments carefully and skilfully. He leaves nothing to chance. He
does nothing imperfectly. Work done by God will repay the keenest
scrutiny, the closest study, for it is the model of what every man's
work in life ought as far as possible to be--earnest, wise, complete,

IV. Again, looking at the whole passage we perceive therein
illustrations of two important laws of the Divine life. We recognise
in the case of Cornelius the working of that great principle of the
kingdom of God often enunciated by the great Master: "To him that hath
shall be given, and he shall have more abundantly," "If any man will
do His will, he shall know of the doctrine"; or, to put it in other
language, that God always bestows more grace upon the man who
diligently uses and improves the grace which he already possesses; a
principle which indeed we see constantly exemplified in things
pertaining to this world as well as in matters belonging to the
spiritual life. Thus it was with Cornelius. He was what was called
among the Jews a proselyte of the gate. These proselytes were very
numerous. They were a kind of fringe hanging upon the outskirts of the
Jewish people. They were admirers of Jewish ideas, doctrines, and
practices, but they were not incorporated with the Jewish nation nor
bound by all their laws and ceremonial restraints. The Levitical Law
was not imposed upon them because they were not circumcised. They were
merely bound to worship the true God and observe certain moral
precepts said to have been delivered to Noah.[73] Such was Cornelius
whom the providence of God had led from Italy to Cæsarea for this very
purpose, to fulfil His purposes of mercy towards the Gentile world.
His residence there had taught him the truth and beauty of the pure
worship of Jehovah rendered by the Jews. He had learned too, not only
that God is, but that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek
Him. Cornelius had set himself, therefore, to the diligent discharge
of all the duties of religion so far as he knew them. He was earnest
and diligent in prayer, for he recognised himself as dependent upon an
invisible God. He was liberal in alms, for he desired to show forth
his gratitude, for mercies daily received. And acting thus he met with
the divinely appointed reward. Cornelius is favoured with a fuller
revelation and a clearer guidance by the angel's mouth, who tells him
to send and summon Peter from Joppa for this very purpose. What an
eminently practical lesson we may learn from God's dealings with this
earliest Gentile convert! We learn from the Divine dealings with
Cornelius that whosoever diligently improves the lower spiritual
advantages which he possesses shall soon be admitted to higher and
fuller blessings.

  [73] See the article on "Proselytes" in Schaft's _Encyclopædia of

It may well have been that God led him through successive stages and
rewarded him under each. In distant Italy, when residing amid the
abounding superstitions of that country, conscience was the only
preacher, but there the sermons of that monitor were heard with
reverence and obeyed with diligence. Then God ordered the course of
his life so that public duty summoned him to a distant land. Cornelius
may have at the time counted his lot a hard one when despatched to
Palestine as a centurion, for it was a province where, from the nature
of the warfare there prevalent, there were abundant opportunities of
death by assassination at the hands of the Zealots, and but few
opportunities of distinction such as might be gained in border warfare
with foreign enemies. But the Lord was shaping his career, as He
shapes all our careers, with reference to our highest spiritual
purposes. He led Cornelius, therefore, to a land and to a town where
the pure worship of Jehovah was practised and the elevated morality
of Judaism prevailed. Here, then, were new opportunities placed within
the centurion's reach. And again the same spiritual diligence is
displayed, and again the same law of spiritual development and
enlarging blessing finds a place. Cornelius is devout and liberal and
God-fearing, and therefore a heavenly visitor directs his way to still
fuller light and grander revelations, and Cornelius the centurion of
the Italian band leads the Gentile hosts into the fulness of blessing,
the true land flowing with milk and honey, found only in the
dispensation of Jesus Christ and within the borders of the Church of
God. This was God's course of dealing with the Roman centurion, and it
is the course which the same loving dealings still pursues with human
souls truly desirous of Divine guidance. The Lord imparts one degree
of light and knowledge and grace, but withholds higher degrees till
full use has been made of the lower. He speaks to us at first in a
whisper; but if we reverently hearken, there is a gradual deepening of
the voice, till it is as audible in the crowd as it is in the
solitude, and we are continually visited with the messages of the
Eternal King.

Now cannot these ideas be easily applied to our own individual cases?
A young man, for instance, may be troubled with doubts and questions
concerning certain portions of the Christian faith. Some persons make
such doubts an excuse for plunging into scenes of riot and
dissipation, quenching the light which God has given them and making
certain their own spiritual destruction. The case of Cornelius points
out the true course which should in such a case be adopted. Men may be
troubled with doubts concerning certain doctrines of revelation. But
they have no doubt as to the dictates of conscience and the light
which natural religion sheds upon the paths of morals and of life.
Let them then use the light they have. Let them diligently practise
the will of God as it has been revealed. Let them be earnest in
prayer, pure and reverent in life, honest and upright in business, and
then in God's own time the doubts will vanish, the darkness will clear
away, and the ancient promises will be fulfilled, "Light is sown for
the righteous," "The path of the just shineth more and more unto the
perfect day," "In the way of righteousness is life, and in the pathway
thereof there is no death."

But the example of Cornelius is of still wider application. The
position of Cornelius was not a favourable one for the development of
the religious life, and yet he rose superior to all its difficulties,
and became thus an eminent example to all believers. Men may complain
that they have but few spiritual advantages, and that their station in
life is thickly strewn with difficulties, hindering the practices and
duties of religion. To such persons we would say, compare yourselves
with Cornelius and the difficulties external and internal he had to
overcome. Servants, for instance, may labour under great apparent
disadvantages. Perhaps, if living in an irreligious family, they have
few opportunities for prayer, public or private. Men of business are
compelled to spend days and nights in the management of their affairs.
Persons of commanding intellect or of high station have their own
disadvantages, their own peculiar temptations, growing out of their
very prosperity. The case of Cornelius shows that each class can rise
superior to their peculiar difficulties and grow in the hidden life of
the soul, if they but imitate his example as he grew from grace to
grace, improving his scanty store till it grew into a fuller and
ampler one, till it expanded into all the glory of Christian
privilege, when Cornelius, like Peter, was enabled to rejoice in the
knowledge and love of a risen and glorified Redeemer.[74]

  [74] I owe a great many of the devout thoughts dealing with the
  latter portion of this subject to a volume of sermons preached by
  the celebrated Golden Lecturer, the eloquent Henry Melville,
  styled _Voices of the Christian Year_. Melville is now as a
  preacher quite forgotten, and yet he deserves to be gratefully
  remembered, for he was the first of the old Evangelical school to
  break through the traditional repetition of commonplaces which
  formed the main part of the preaching of the leading popular
  orators of fifty years ago. From a preacher's point of view his
  sermons will still repay study. His sermons, for instance, on the
  less known characters of Scripture, will teach a young divine how
  to extract edification and instruction out of most unpromising
  materials, and to apply the essential principles of the Bible to
  the changed circumstances of modern life. And assuredly this is
  the real object of a pastor's preaching in a Christian
  congregation, not the mere repetition of the first elements of
  Christianity, but an application of its great principles, first
  proclaimed in the language of the East, to the actions and lives
  of the men of the West. Preaching of that kind need never be dull
  and uninteresting.



     "Now on the morrow, as they were on their journey, and drew nigh
     unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray, about the
     sixth hour: and he became hungry, and desired to eat: but while
     they made ready, he fell into a trance; and he beholdeth the
     heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending, as it were a
     great sheet, let down by four corners upon the earth: wherein
     were all manner of fourfooted beasts and creeping things of the
     earth and fowls of the heaven. And there came a voice to him,
     Rise, Peter; kill and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I
     have never eaten anything that is common and unclean. And a voice
     came unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, make
     not thou common."--ACTS x. 9-15.

There are two central figures in the conversion of Cornelius. The one
is the centurion himself, the other is St. Peter, the selected and
predestined agent in that great work. We have studied Cornelius in the
last chapter, and have seen the typical character of all his
circumstances. His time, his residence, his training, had all been
providential, indicating to us the careful superintendence, the
watchful oversight, which God bestows upon the history of individuals
as well as of the Church at large. Let us now turn to the other
figure, St. Peter, and see if the Lord's providence may not be traced
with equal clearness in the circumstances of his case also. We have
found Cornelius at Cæsarea, the great Roman port and garrison of
Palestine, a very fitting and natural place for a Roman centurion to
be located. We find Peter at this very same time at Joppa, a spot
that was consecrated by many a memory and specially associated with a
mission to the Gentiles in the times of the Elder Dispensation. Here
we trace the hand of the Lord providentially ruling the footsteps of
Peter though he knew it not, and leading him, as Philip was led a
short time before, to the spot where his intended work lay. The
sickness and death of Tabitha or Dorcas led St. Peter to Joppa. The
fame of his miracle upon that devout woman led to the conversion of
many souls, and this naturally induced Peter to make a longer stay in
Joppa at the house of Simon the tanner. How natural and
unpremeditated, how very ordinary and unplanned to the natural eye
seem the movements of St. Peter! So they would have seemed to us had
we been living at Joppa, and yet now we can see with the light which
the sacred narrative throws upon the story that the Lord was guiding
St. Peter to the place where his work was cut out when the appointed
time should come. Surely the history of Peter and his actions have
abundant comfort and sustaining hope for ourselves! Our lives may be
very ordinary and commonplace; the events may succeed one another in
the most matter-of-fact style; there may seem in them nothing at all
worthy the attention of a Divine Ruler; and yet those ordinary lives
are just as much planned and guided by supernatural wisdom as the
careers of men concerning whom all the world is talking. Only let us
take care to follow St. Peter's example. He yielded himself completely
to the Divine guidance, trusted himself entirely to Divine love and
wisdom, and then found in such trust not only life and safety, but
what is far better, perfect peace and sweetest calm.

There is something very restful in the picture drawn for us of St.
Peter at this crisis. There is none of that feverish hurry and
restlessness which make some good men and their methods very trying to
others. The notices of him have all an air of repose and Christian
dignity. "As Peter went throughout all parts, he came down also to the
saints which dwelt at Lydda"; "Peter put them all forth and prayed";
"Peter abode many days in Joppa"; "Peter went up upon the housetop to
pray about the sixth hour." St. Peter, indeed, did not live in an age
of telegrams and postcards and express trains, which all contribute
more or less to that feverish activity and restlessness so
characteristic of this age. But even if he had lived in such a time, I
am sure his faith in God would have saved him from that fussiness,
that life of perpetual hurry, yet never bringing forth any abiding
fruit, which we behold in so many moderns. This results a good deal, I
believe, from the development--I was almost going to say the tyranny,
the unwitting tyranny of modern journalism, which compels men to live
so much in public and reports their every utterance. There are men
never tired of running from one committee to another, and never weary
of seeing their names in the morning papers. They count that they have
been busily and usefully employed if their names are perpetually
appearing in newspaper reports as speaking, or at any rate being
present at innumerable meetings, leaving themselves no time for that
quiet meditation whereby St. Peter gained closest communion with
heaven. It is no wonder such men's fussiness should be fruitless,
because their natures are poor, shallow, uncultivated, where the seed
springs up rapidly but brings forth no fruit to perfection, because it
has no deepness of earth. It is no wonder that St. Peter should have
spoken with power at Cæsarea and been successful in opening the door
of faith to the Gentiles, because he prepared himself for doing the
Divine work by the discipline of meditation and thought and spiritual
converse with his Risen Lord. And here we may remark, before we pass
from this point, that the conversion of the first Gentile and the full
and complete exercise of the power of the keys committed to St. Peter
run on lines very parallel to those pertaining to the Day of Pentecost
and the conversion of the earliest Jews in one respect at least. The
Day of Pentecost was preceded by a period of ten days' waiting and
spiritual repose. The conversion of Cornelius and the revelation of
God's purposes to St. Peter were preceded by a season of meditation
and prayer, when an apostle could find time amid all his pressing
cares to seek the housetop for midday prayer and to abide many days in
the house of one Simon a tanner. A period of pause, repose, and
quietness preceded a new onward movement of development and of action.

I. Now, as in the case of Cornelius, so in the case of St. Peter, we
note the _place_ where the chief actor in the scene abode. It was at
Joppa, and Joppa was associated with many memories for the Jews. It
has been from ancient times the port of Jerusalem, and is even now
rising into somewhat of its former commercial greatness, specially
owing to the late development of the orange trade, for the production
of which fruit Jaffa or Joppa has become famous. Three thousand years
ago Joppa was a favourite resort of the Phœnician fleets, which
brought the cedars of Lebanon to King Solomon for the building of the
temple (2 Chron. ii. 16). At a later period, when God would send Jonah
on a mission to Gentile Nineveh, and when Jonah desired to thwart
God's merciful designs towards the outer world, the prophet fled to
Joppa and there took ship in his vain effort to escape from the
presence of the Lord. And now again Joppa becomes the refuge of
another prophet, who feels the same natural hesitation about admitting
the Gentiles to God's mercy, but who, unlike Jonah, yields immediate
assent to the heavenly message, and finds peace and blessing in the
paths of loving obedience. The very house where St. Peter abode is
still pointed out.[75] It is situated in the south-western part of the
town, and commands a view over the bay of Joppa and the waters of that
Mediterranean Sea which was soon to be the channel of communication
whereby the gospel message should be borne to the nations of the
distant West. We remark, too, that it was with Simon the tanner of
Joppa that St. Peter was staying. When a great change is impending
various little circumstances occur all showing the tendencies of the
age. By themselves and taken one by one they do not express much. At
the time when they happen men do not regard them or understand their
meaning, but afterwards, and reading them in the light of accomplished
facts, men behold their significance. Thus it was with Simon Peter and
his visit to Simon the tanner of Joppa. Tanners as a class were
despised and comparatively outcast among the Jews. Tanning was counted
an unclean trade because of the necessary contact with dead bodies
which it involved. A tanyard must, according to Jewish law, be
separated by fifty yards at least from human dwellings. If a man
married a woman without informing her of his trade as a tanner, she
was granted a divorce. The whole trade of tanners was under a ban, and
yet it was to a tanner's house that the Apostle made his way, and
there he lodged for many days, showing that the mind even of St. Peter
was steadily rising above narrow Jewish prejudices into that higher
and nobler atmosphere where he learned in fullest degree that no man
and no lawful trade is to be counted common or unclean.

  [75] The house of Simon the tanner is depicted in Lewin's _St.
  Paul_, vol. i., pp. 87, 88. There is a good description of it, as
  also of Joppa at large, in Geikie's _The Holy Land and the Bible_,
  vol. i., p. 18, from which we take the following: "On the south
  side of the town, at the edge of the sea, close to the lighthouse,
  one is reminded of the visit of St. Peter to Joppa by the claim of
  a paltry mosque to occupy the house of Simon the tanner. The
  present building is comparatively modern, and cannot be the actual
  structure in which the Apostle lodged. It is, however, regarded by
  the Mohammedans as sacred, one of the rooms being used as a place
  of prayer in commemoration, we are told, of the Lord Jesus having
  once asked God, while here, for a meal; on which a table forthwith
  came down from heaven. Strange variation of the story of St.
  Peter's vision! The waves beat against the low wall of the
  courtyard, so that, like the actual house of Simon, it is close on
  the sea-shore. Tanning, moreover, in accordance with the
  unchanging character of the East, is still extensively carried on
  in this part of the town."

II. We note, again, the _time_ when the vision was granted to St.
Peter and the mind of the Lord was more fully disclosed to him. Joppa
is separated from Cæsarea by a distance of thirty miles. The leading
coast towns were then connected by an excellent road, along which
horses and vehicles passed with ease. The centurion Cornelius, when he
received the angelic direction, forthwith despatched two of his
household servants and a devout soldier to summon St. Peter to his
presence. They doubtless travelled on horseback, leading spare beasts
for the accommodation of the Apostle. Less than twenty-four hours
after their departure from Cæsarea they drew nigh to Joppa, and then
it was that God revealed His purposes to His beloved servant. The very
hour can be fixed. Cornelius saw the angel at the ninth hour, when, as
he himself tells us, "he was keeping the hour of prayer" (x. 30).
Peter saw the vision at the sixth hour, when he went up on the house
top to pray, according to the example of the Psalmist when he sang,
"In the evening and morning and at noon-day will I pray, and that
instantly."[76] St. Peter evidently was a careful observer of all the
forms amid which his youthful training had been conducted. He did not
seek in the name of spiritual religion to discard these old forms. He
recognised the danger of any such course. Forms may often tend to
formalism on account of the weakness of human nature. But they also
help to preserve and guard the spirit of ancient institutions in times
of sloth and decay, till the Spirit from on high again breathes upon
the dry bones and imparts fresh life. St. Peter used the forms of
Jewish externalism, imparting to them some of his own intense
earnestness, and the Lord set His seal of approval upon his action by
revealing the purposes of His mercy and love to the Gentile world at
the noontide hour of prayer. The wisest masters of the spiritual life
have ever followed St. Peter's teaching. We may take, for instance,
Dr. Goulburn in his valuable treatise on Personal Religion. In the
sixth chapter of the fourth part of that work he has some wise
thoughts on living by rule in the Christian life, where he points out
the use of rules and their abuse, strongly urging upon those who
desire to grow in grace the formation of rules by which the practices
of religion and the soul's inner life may be directed and shielded.
There is, for instance, no law of Christ which ties men down to
morning and evening prayer. Yet does not our own daily experience
teach that, if this unwritten rule of the Christian life be relaxed
under the pretence of higher spirituality, and men pray only when they
feel specially inclined to communion with the unseen, the whole
practice of private as well as of public prayer ceases, and the soul
lives in an atheistic atmosphere without any recognition or thought of
God.[77] This danger has been recognised from the earliest times.
Tertullian was a man of narrow views, but of the most intense piety.
He was a devout student of the New Testament, and a careful observer
of the example of our Lord and His Apostles. The early Christians
adopted from the Jews the custom of prayer at the various hours of the
day, and turned it into a practical rule of Christian discipline,
acknowledging at the same time that there was no Scriptural obligation
in the rule, but that it was a mere wise advice for the development of
the spiritual life. This was the origin of what is technically called
the Canonical Hours, Matins with Lauds, Prime, Tierce, Sext, Nones,
Evensong, and Compline, which can be traced back in germ to the age
next after the Apostles, and were originally grounded upon the example
of the Apostles themselves, and specially upon that of St. Peter's
practice at Joppa. Let us hear Tertullian on this matter. He wrote a
treatise on prayer, in which he presses upon the men of his time the
duty of earnestness and intensity in that holy exercise, and when
doing so touches upon this very point: "As respecting the time of
prayer the observance of certain hours will not be unprofitable--those
common hours I mean which mark the intervals of the day--the third,
sixth, ninth--which we find in Scripture to have been made more solemn
than the rest. The first infusion of the Holy Spirit into the
congregated disciples took place at the third hour. Peter saw his
vision on the housetop at the sixth hour. Peter and John went into the
Temple at the ninth hour when he restored the paralytic to his
health." Tertullian then adds the following wise observations, showing
that he quite grasped the essential distinction between the slavery of
the law and the freedom of the gospel in the matter of external
observances: "Albeit these practices stand simply without any Divine
precept for their observance; still it may be granted a good thing to
establish some definite rule which may both add stringency to the
admonition to pray and may as it were by a law tear us out of our
ordinary business unto such a duty. So that we pray not less than
thrice in the day, debtors as we are to Three--Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit--besides of course our regular prayers on the entrance of light
and of night." The ecclesiastical practice of the Hours may be turned
into a mere formal repetition of certain prescribed tasks; but, like
all other ordinances which trace themselves back to primitive
Christianity, the Hours are based on a true conception and a noble
ideal of the prevailing and abounding place which prayer should occupy
in the soul's life, according to the Saviour's own teaching when He
spake a parable to His disciples to this end that men ought always to
pray and not to faint.[78]

  [76] This is the rendering of Psalm lv. 18 according to the
  version in the Book of Common Prayer.

  [77] A deceased friend of mine, a well-known member of the Society
  of Friends, once remarked to me about this very point that his
  Society, to which he belonged to his dying day, while aiming at
  the highest spirituality, in its neglect of all rules, and
  suitable therefore for persons of specially exalted tone, had
  rendered itself unfitted for the training of children. Children
  cannot be trained without rules, and a society which trusts to
  educate them in things religious without fixed and definite
  training must be a hopeless failure. The original principles of
  "Friends" preclude them from teaching children forms of private
  prayer, from using fixed Bible reading and regular religious
  instruction, as well as from stated family worship. Efforts have
  been made in later times to remedy this effect, but they are
  merely confessions of the failure of the principles inculcated by
  George Fox and Robert Barclay and acknowledgments that the Church
  from which they dissented was right.

  [78] Tertullian's treatise on Prayer will be found in Clark's
  translation of his works, vol. i., pp. 178-204.

III. We now arrive at the vision which Peter saw upon the housetop.
The Apostle, having ascended upon the housetop commanding a view over
the blue waters of the Mediterranean lying shimmering and sweltering
beneath the rays of the noonday sun, became hungry, as was natural
enough, because the usual time of the midday meal was drawing nigh.
But there was a deeper reason for the Apostle's felt need of
refreshment, and a more immediate providence was watching over his
natural powers and their action than ever before had been revealed.
The natural hunger was divinely inspired in order that just at that
instant when the representatives and delegates of the Gentile world
were drawing nigh to his abode he might be prepared to accord them a
fitting reception. To the mere man of sense or to the mere carnal mind
the hunger of St. Peter may seem a simple natural operation, but to
the devout believer in Christianity, who views it as the great and
perfect revelation of God to man, who knows that His covenants are in
all things well-ordered and sure, and that in His works in grace as
well as in His works in nature the Lord leaves nothing to mere chance,
but perfectly orders them all down to the minutest detail, to such an
one this human hunger of St. Peter's appears as divinely planned in
order that a spiritual satisfaction and completeness may be imparted
to his soul unconsciously craving after a fuller knowledge of the
Divine will. St. Peter's hunger is, in fact, but a manifestation in
the human sphere of that superhuman foresight which was directing the
whole transaction from behind this visible scene; teaching us, in
fact, the lesson so often repeated in Holy Scripture that nothing, not
even our feelings, our infirmities, our passions, our appetites, are
too minute for the Divine love and care, and encouraging us thereby to
act more freely upon the apostolic injunction, "In everything by
prayer and supplication let your requests be made known unto God." If
St. Peter's hunger were taken up and incorporated with the Divine plan
of salvation, we may be sure that our own wants and trials do not
escape the omniscient eye of Him who plans all our lives, appointing
the end from the very beginning. St. Peter was hungry, and as food was
preparing he fell into a trance, and then the vision answering in its
form to the hunger which he felt was granted. Vain questions may here
be raised, as we noted before in the case of St. Paul, concerning the
trance of the Apostle and the communications he held with the unseen
world. They are vain questions for us to raise or to attempt to
answer, because they belong to an unexplored land full, as many modern
experiments show, of strange mysterious facts peculiar to it. This
alone we can say, some communication must have been made to St. Peter
which he regarded as a Divine revelation. The conversion and reception
by St. Peter of the Gentile centurion are facts, the prejudices of St.
Peter against such a reception are also undoubted facts. Hitherto he
shared the opinion common to all the Twelve that such a reception was
contrary to the Divine law and purposes. He must have received upon
the housetop some kind of a heavenly communication which he regarded
as equivalent in authority to that ancient rule by which he esteemed
the promises and mercy of God limited to the seed of Abraham. But as
for any endeavour to understand or explain the mode of God's action on
this occasion, it will be just as vain as attempts to pierce the
mysteries of God's action in creation, the incarnation, or, to come
lower still, in the processes by which life has been communicated to
this world and is now sustained and continued thereon. We are in very
deed living and moving amid mysteries, and if we refuse to learn or
meditate till the mysteries we meet with, the very first step we take,
be cleared, we must cease to think and be content to pass life like
the beasts that perish. We know not, indeed, the exact manner in which
God communicated with St. Peter, or for that matter with any one else
to whom He made revelation of His will. We know nothing of the manner
in which He spoke to Moses out of the bush, or to Samuel in the night
season, or to Isaiah in the Temple. As with these His servants of the
Elder Dispensation, so it was with St. Peter on the housetop. We know,
however, how St. Luke received his information as to the nature of the
vision and all the other facts of the case. St. Luke and St. Peter
must have had many an opportunity for conversation in the thrilling,
all-important events amid which he had lived. St. Luke too accompanied
St. Paul on that journey to Jerusalem described in the twenty-first
chapter, and was introduced to the Christian Sanhedrin or Council over
which St. James the Just presided. But even if St. Luke had never seen
St. Peter, he had abundant opportunities of learning all about the
vision. St. Peter proclaimed it to the world from the very time it
happened, and was obliged to proclaim it as his defence against the
party zealous for the law of Moses. St. Peter referred to what God had
just shown him as soon as he came into the centurion's presence. He
described the vision at full length as soon as he came to Jerusalem
and met the assembled Church, where its power and meaning were so
clearly recognised that the mouths of all St. Peter's adversaries were
at once stopped. And again at the Council of Jerusalem held, as
described in the fifteenth chapter, St. Peter refers to the
circumstances of this whole story as well known to the whole Church in
that city. St. Luke then would have no difficulty, writing some twenty
years later, in ascertaining the facts of this story, and naturally
enough, when writing to a Gentile convert and having in mind the needs
and feelings of the Gentiles, he inserted the narrative of the vision
as being the foundation-stone on which the growing and enlarging
edifice of Gentile Christianity had been originally established. The
vision too was admirably suited to serve its purpose. It based itself,
as I have said, on Peter's natural feelings and circumstances, just as
spiritual things ever base themselves upon and respond to the natural
shadows of this lower life, just as the Holy Communion, for instance,
bases itself upon the natural craving for food and drink, but rises
and soars far away above and beyond the material sphere to the true
food of the soul, the Divine banquet wherewith God's secret and loved
ones are eternally fed. Peter was hungry, and a sheet was seen let
down from heaven containing all kinds of animals, clean and unclean,
together with creeping things and fowls of heaven. He was commanded to
rise and slay and appease his hunger. He states the objection, quite
natural in the mouth of a conscientious Jew, that nothing common or
unclean had ever been eaten by him. Then the heavenly voice uttered
words which struck for him the death-knell of the old haughty Jewish
exclusiveness, inaugurating the grand spirit of Christian liberalism
and of human equality--"What God hath cleansed, make thou not common."
The vision was thrice repeated to make the matter sure, and then the
heavens were shut up again, and Peter was left to interpret the Divine
teaching for himself. Peter, in the light of the circumstances which a
few moments later took place, easily read the interpretation of the
vision. The distinction between animals and foods was for the Jew but
an emblem and type, a mere object lesson of the distinction between
the Jews and other nations. The Gentiles ate every kind of animal and
creeping thing; the favourite food of the Roman soldiers with whom the
Palestinian Jews came most in contact being pork. The differences
which the Divine law compelled the Jew to make in the matter of food
were simply the type of the difference and separation which God's love
and grace had made between His covenant people and those outside that
covenant. And just then, to clinch the matter and interpret the vision
by the light of divinely ordered facts, the Spirit announced to the
Apostle, as "he was much perplexed in himself what the vision might
mean," that three men were seeking him, and that he was to go with
them doubting nothing, "for I have sent them."[79] The hour had at
last come for the manifestation of God's everlasting purposes, when
the sacred society should assume its universal privileges and stand
forth resplendent in its true character as God's Holy Catholic
Church,--of which the Temple had been a temporary symbol and
pledge,--a house of prayer for all nations, the joy of the whole
earth, the city of the Great King, until the consummation of all

  [79] Calvin, in his commentary on Acts x. 12, has some excellent
  remarks on the scope and meaning of this vision. "I think that
  hereby is shown to Peter that the distinction which God hitherto
  made had now been removed. For as He had made a difference between
  animals; so by the choice of one nation for Himself, God showed
  that other nations were common and unclean. Now the distinction
  between animals being removed, He consequently shows that there is
  no longer any difference between men, and that the Jew does not
  differ from the Greek. Hence Peter is warned not to shrink from
  contact with the Gentiles as if they were unclean. There is no
  doubt but that God wished to encourage Peter to come boldly to
  Cornelius. Therefore, in order that he might be perfectly
  satisfied, God shows him as in a picture that the distinctions
  made by the law between clean and unclean had been abolished;
  whence he may conclude that the partition which had hitherto
  divided Jews from Gentiles was now overthrown. Now Paul teaches
  that this mystery had been hid from the ages that the Gentiles
  should be partakers with God's people and grafted into one body.
  Therefore Peter never would have dared to open the gate of the
  Kingdom of Heaven, unless God Himself had shown him that the wall
  had been removed and that entrance was free to all." He then goes
  on to consider the objection that St. Peter must have known of the
  call of the Gentiles from the words of Christ's commission to go
  and make disciples of all nations, and therefore this vision was
  unnecessary. "I answer that there was so much difficulty in the
  novelty of the whole state of affairs that the apostles could not
  at once grasp the position. They knew indeed in theory the
  prophecies and the precept of Christ about preaching to the
  Gentiles, but when they came to practice, struck by the awful
  novelty, they hesitated. Wherefore it is not wonderful that the
  Lord should confirm St. Peter's mind by a new sign." Calvin
  clearly recognised that the inspiration enjoyed by St. Peter did
  not remove his natural slowness of perception. The apostles were
  like the bulk of ordinary men, very slow to grasp the full meaning
  of a novel position or principle.

IV. The sacred historian next presents St. Peter at Cæsarea. The
Apostle rose up obedient to the Divine communication, admitted the men
who sought him, lodged them for the night, departed back the next day
along the same road which they had followed, and arrived at Cæsarea on
the fourth day from the original appearance to Cornelius; so that if
the angel had been seen by the centurion on Saturday or the Sabbath
the vision would have been seen at Joppa on the Lord's Day, and then
on Tuesday St. Peter must have arrived at Cæsarea. St. Peter did not
travel alone. He doubtless communicated the vision he had seen to the
Church at Joppa at the evening hour of devotion, and determined to
associate with himself six prominent members of that body in the
fulfilment of his novel enterprise that they might be witnesses of
God's actions and assistants to himself in the work of baptism and of
teaching. As soon as the missionary party arrived at the house of
Cornelius, they found a large party assembled to meet them, as
Cornelius had called together his kinsmen and acquaintances to hear
the message from heaven. Cornelius received St. Peter with an
expression of such profound reverence, prostrating himself on the
earth, that St. Peter reproved him: "But Peter raised him up, saying,
Stand up: I myself also am a man." Cornelius, with his mind formed in
a pagan mould and permeated with pagan associations and ideas,
regarded Peter as a superhuman being, and worthy therefore of the
reverence usually rendered to the Roman Emperor as the living
embodiment of deity upon earth. He fell down and adored St. Peter,
even as St. John adored the angel who revealed to him the mysteries of
the unseen world (Rev. xxii. 8), till reminded by St. Peter that he
was a mere human being like the centurion himself, full of human
prejudices and narrow ideas which would have prevented him accepting
the invitation of Cornelius if God Himself had not intervened.
Cornelius then describes the circumstances of his vision and the
angelic directions which he had received, ending by requesting St.
Peter to announce the revelation of which he was the guardian. The
Apostle then proceeds to deliver an address, of which we have recorded
a mere synopsis alone; the original address must have been much
longer. St. Peter begins the first sermon delivered to Gentiles by an
assertion of the catholic nature of the Church, a truth which he only
just now learned: "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of
persons: but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh
righteousness, is acceptable to Him": a passage which has been much
misunderstood. People have thought that St. Peter proclaims by these
words that it was no matter what religion a man professed, provided
only he led a moral life and worked righteousness. His doctrine is of
quite another type. He had already proclaimed to the Jews the
exclusive claims of Christ as the door and gate of eternal life. In
the fourth chapter and twelfth verse he had told the Council at
Jerusalem that "in none other than Jesus Christ of Nazareth is there
salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is
given among men wherein we must be saved." St. Peter had seen and
heard nothing since which could have changed his views or made him
think conscious faith in Jesus Christ utterly unimportant, as this
method of interpretation, to which I refer, would teach. St. Peter's
meaning is quite clear when we consider the circumstances amid which
he stood. He had hitherto thought that the privilege of accepting the
salvation offered was limited to the Jews. Now he had learned from
Heaven itself that the offer of God's grace and mercy was free to all,
and that wherever man was responding to the dictates of conscience
and yielding assent to the guidance of the inner light with which
every man was blessed, there God's supreme revelation was to be
proclaimed and for them the doors of God's Church were to be opened

St. Peter then proceeds, in his address, to recapitulate the leading
facts of the gospel story. He begins with John's baptism, glances at
Christ's miracles, His crucifixion, resurrection, and mission of the
apostles, concluding by announcing His future return to be the Judge
of quick and dead. St. Peter must, of course, have entered into
greater details than we possess in our narrative; but it is not always
noticed that he was addressing people not quite ignorant of the story
which he had to tell. St. Peter begins by expressly stating, "The word
which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching good tidings of
peace by Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)--that saying ye yourselves
know." Cornelius and his friends were devout and eager students of
Jewish religious movements, and they had heard in Cæsarea vague
reports of the words and doings of the great prophet who had caused
such commotion a few years before. But then they were outside the
bounds of Israel, whose religious authorities had rejected this
prophet. The religion of Israel had illuminated their own pagan
darkness, and they therefore looked up to the decision of the high
priests and of the Sanhedrin with profound veneration, and dared not
to challenge it. They had never previously come in personal contact
with any of the new prophet's followers, and if they had, these
followers would not have communicated to them anything of their
message. They simply knew that a wondrous teacher had appeared, but
that his teaching was universally repudiated by the men whose views
they respected, and therefore they remained content with their old
convictions. The information, however, which they had gained formed a
solid foundation, upon which St. Peter proceeded to raise the
superstructure of Christian doctrine, impressing the points which the
Jews denied--the resurrection of Christ and His future return to judge
the world.

In this connexion St. Peter touches upon a point which has often
exercised men's minds. In speaking of the resurrection of Christ he
says, "Him God raised up the third day, and gave Him to be made
manifest, not to all the people, but unto witnesses that were chosen
before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with Him after He
rose from the dead." From the time of Celsus, who lived in the second
century, people have asked, Why did not the risen Saviour manifest
Himself to the chief priests and Pharisees? Why did He show Himself
merely to His friends? It is evident that from the very beginning this
point was emphasised by the Christians themselves, as St. Peter
expressly insists upon it on this occasion. Now several answers have
been given to this objection. Bishop Butler in his _Analogy_ deals
with it. He points out that it is only in accordance with the laws of
God's dealings in ordinary life. God never gives overwhelming
evidence. He merely gives sufficient evidence of the truth or wisdom
of any course, and till men improve the evidence which He gives He
withholds further evidence. Christ gave the Jews sufficient evidences
of the truth of His work and mission in the miracles which He wrought
and the gracious words which distilled like Divine dew from His lips.
They refused the evidence which He gave, and it would not have been in
accordance with the principles of Divine action that He should then
give them more convincing evidence. Then, again, the learned Butler
argues that it would have been useless, so far as we are concerned, to
have manifested Christ to the Jewish nation at large, unless He was
also revealed and demonstrated to be the risen Saviour to the Romans,
and not to them merely, but also to each successive generation of men
as they arose. For surely if men can argue that the apostles and the
five hundred brethren who saw Christ were deceived, or were the
subjects of a temporary illusion, it might be as justly argued that
the high priests and the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem were in their turn
deceived or the subjects of a hallucination which their longing desire
for a Messiah had produced. In modern times, again, Dr. Milligan in an
able and acute work on the Resurrection has argued that it was
impossible, from the nature of the resurrection body and the character
of the resurrection state, for Christ to be thus manifested to the
Jewish nation. He belonged to a different plane. He lived now on a
higher level. He could not now be submitted to a coarse contact with
gross carnal men. He was obliged therefore to depend upon the
testimony of His chosen witnesses, fortified and confirmed by the
evidence of miracles, of prophecy, and of the Holy Ghost speaking in
them and working with them. All these arguments are most true and
sound, and yet they fail to come home to many minds. They leave
something to be desired. They fail in showing the wisdom of the actual
course that was adopted. They leave men thinking in their secret
hearts, would it not after all have been the best and most
satisfactory course if the risen Lord had been manifested to all the
people and not merely to witnesses chosen before of God? I think there
is an argument which has not been sufficiently worked out, and which
directly meets and answers this objection. The risen Saviour was not
manifested to all the people because such a course would have wrecked
the great cause which He had at heart, and defeated the great end of
His Incarnation, which was to establish a Church on the earth where
righteousness and joy and peace in the Holy Ghost would find place and
abound. Let us take it in this way. Let us inquire what would have
been the immediate consequence had Christ been revealed to all the
people gathered in their millions for the celebration of the Passover.
They would either have rejected Him afresh or they would have accepted
Him. If they rejected Him, they would be only intensifying their
responsibility and their guilt. If they accepted Him as their
long-expected Messiah, then would have come the catastrophe. In their
state of strained expectation and national excitement they would have
swept away every barrier, they would have rushed to arms and burst
into open rebellion against the Romans, initiating a war which would
have only ended with the annihilation of the Jewish race or with the
destruction of the Roman Empire. The immediate result of the
manifestation of the risen Saviour to the chief priests and the people
would have been a destruction of human life of such a widespread and
awful character as the world had never seen. This we know from history
would have been infallibly the case. Again and again during the first
and second centuries the Jews burst forth into similar rebellions,
urged on by some fanatic who pretended to be the long-expected
deliverer, and tens of thousands, aye, even hundreds of thousands of
human lives Jewish and Gentile were repeatedly sacrificed on the altar
of this vain carnal expectation.

We are expressly informed too that our Lord had experience in His own
person of this very danger. St. John tells us that Christ Himself had
on one occasion to escape from the Jews when they were designing to
take Him by force and make Him a King; while again the first chapter
of this Book of Acts and the query which the apostles propounded upon
the very eve of the Ascension show that even they with all the
teaching which they had received from our Lord concerning the purely
spiritual and interior nature of His kingdom still shared in the
national delusions, and were cherishing dreams of a carnal empire and
of human triumphs. We conclude, then, on purely historical grounds,
and judging from the experience of the past, that the course which God
actually adopted was profoundly wise and eminently calculated to avoid
the social dangers which surrounded the path of the Divine
developments. I think that if we strive to realise the results which
would have followed the manifestation of Christ in the manner which
objectors suggest, we shall see that the whole spiritual object, the
great end of Christ's Incarnation, would have been thus defeated. That
great end was to establish a kingdom of righteousness, peace, and
humility; and that was the purpose attained by the mode of action
which was in fact adopted. From the Day of Pentecost onward the Church
grew and flourished, developing and putting in practice, however
imperfectly, the laws of the Sermon on the Mount. But if Christ had
revealed Himself to the unconverted Jews of Jerusalem after the
Resurrection, it would not have had the slightest effect towards
making them Christians after the model which He desired. Nay, rather
such an appearance would merely have intensified their narrow Judaism
and confirmed them in those sectarian prejudices, that rigid
exclusiveness from which Christ had come to deliver His people. The
spiritual effects of such an appearance would have been absolutely
nothing. The temporal effects of it would have been awfully
disastrous, unless indeed God had consented to work the most
prodigious and astounding miracles, such as smiting the Roman armies
with destruction and interfering imperiously with the course of human

Then again it is worthy of notice that such a method of dealing with
the Jews would have been contrary to Christ's methods and laws of
action as displayed during His earthly ministry. He never worked
miracles for the mere purposes of intellectual conviction. When a sign
from heaven was demanded from Him for this very purpose He refused it.
He ever aimed at spiritual conversion. An exhibition of the risen Lord
to the Jewish nation might have been followed by a certain amount of
intellectual conviction as to His Divine authority and mission. But,
apart from the power of the Holy Ghost, which had not been then poured
out, this intellectual conviction would have been turned to disastrous
purposes, as we have now shown, and have proved utterly useless
towards spiritual conversion. The case of the Resurrection is, in
fact, in many respects like the case of the Incarnation. We think in
our human blindness that we would have managed the manifestations and
revelations of God much better, and we secretly find fault with the
Divine methods, because Christ did not come much earlier in the
world's history and thousands of years had to elapse before the Divine
Messenger appeared. But then, Scripture assures us that it was in the
fulness of time Christ came, and a profounder investigation will
satisfy us that history and experience bear out the testimony of
Scripture. In the same way human blindness imagines that it would have
managed the Resurrection far better, and it has a scheme of its own
whereby Christ should have been manifested at once to the Jews, who
would have been at once converted into Christians of the type of the
apostles, and then Christ should have advanced to the city of Rome,
casting down the idols in His triumphant march, and changing the Roman
Empire into the Kingdom of God. This is something like the scheme
which the human mind in secret substitutes for the Divine plan, a
scheme which would have involved the most extravagant interruptions of
the world's business, the most extraordinary interpositions on God's
part with the course of human affairs. For one miracle which the
Divine method has necessitated, the human plan, which lies at the
basis of the objections we are considering, would have necessitated
the working of a thousand miracles and these of a most stupendous
type. These considerations will help to show what bad judges we are of
the Divine methods of action, and will tend towards spiritual and
mental humility by impressing upon us the inextricable confusion into
which we should inevitably land the world's affairs had we but the
management of them for a very few hours. Verily as we contemplate the
Resurrection of Christ and the management of the whole plan of
salvation, we gather glimpses of the supernatural wisdom whereby the
whole was ordered, and learn thus to sing with a deeper meaning the
ancient strain, "Thy way, O God, is in the sea, and Thy paths in the
great waters, and Thy footsteps are not known. Thou leddest thy
people like sheep, by the hand of Moses and Aaron."[80]

  [80] The aim of Christianity was to strike at the essential evil
  of the human heart. One darling sin of man is ostentation. It was
  one special vice of society in the age of the Incarnation, as
  students of the history of that period know right well. Now the
  real objection to the Divine method of action about Christ's
  Resurrection is that it was not ostentatious. If the human scheme
  had been adopted, it would simply have encouraged and sanctioned
  the ostentation which already dominated the world. But the Divine
  rule ever is this, "The kingdom of God cometh not with
  observation," and in the very method of its development
  Christianity has taught men humility and self-abasement.

The sacred narrative then tells us that "while Peter yet spake these
words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word." The
brethren which came from Joppa, strict observers of the law of Moses
as they were, beheld the external proofs of God's presence, and were
amazed, "because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of
the Holy Ghost," which is further explained by the words, "they heard
the Gentiles speaking with tongues and magnifying God." The gift of
the Holy Ghost takes the same and yet a different shape from that in
which it was manifested on the Day of Pentecost. The gifts of tongues
on the Day of Pentecost was manifested in a variety of languages,
because there was a vast variety of tongues and nationalities then
present at Jerusalem. But it would seem as if on this occasion the
Holy Ghost and His gift of speech displayed itself in sacred song and
holy praise: "They heard them speak with tongues and magnify God."
Greek was practically the one tongue of all those who were present.
The new converts had been inhabitants for years of Cæsarea which was
now one of the most thoroughly Greek towns in Palestine, so that the
gift of tongues as displayed on this occasion must have been of
somewhat different character from that exercised on the Day of
Pentecost, when a vast variety of nations heard the company of the
disciples and apostles speaking in their own languages. There is
another difference too between the original outpouring of the Holy
Ghost and this repetition of the gift. The Holy Ghost on the first
occasion was poured out upon the preachers of the word to qualify them
to preach to the people. The Holy Ghost on the second occasion was
poured out upon the persons to whom the word was preached to sanction
and confirm the call of the Gentiles. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are
confined to no rank or order. They are displayed as the common
property of all Christian people, and indicate the freedom and the
plenteousness wherewith God's blessings shall be dispensed under the
new covenant which was taking the place of the old Levitical Law.

And then comes the last touch which the narrative puts to the whole
story: "Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid the water, that these
should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as
we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ."
What a corrective we here find of those ultra-spiritual views which
make shipwreck of faith! We have known intelligent men speak as if the
apostles laid no stress upon holy baptism, and valued it not one whit
as compared with the interior gift of the Holy Ghost. We have known
intelligent members of the Society of Friends who could not see that
the apostles taught the necessity for what they call water baptism.
For both these classes of objectors these words of St. Peter, this
incident in the story of Cornelius have an important lesson. They
prove the absolute necessity in the apostolic estimation of the rite
of Holy Baptism as perpetually practised in the Church of God. For
surely if ever the washing of water in the name of the Holy Trinity
could have been dispensed with, it was in the case of men upon whom
God had just poured the supernatural gift of the Holy Ghost; and yet
even in their case the divinely appointed sacrament of entrance into
the sacred society could not be dispensed with. They were baptized
with water in the sacred name, and then, cherishing that sweet sense
of duty fulfilled and obedience rendered and spiritual peace and joy
possessed which God bestows upon His elect people, they entered into
that fuller knowledge and richer grace, that feast of spiritual fat
things which St. Peter could impart, as he told them from his own
personal knowledge of the life and teaching of Christ Jesus. It is no
wonder that the history of this critical event should terminate with
these words: "Then prayed they him to tarry certain days,"[81]
expressing their keen desire to drink more deeply of the well of life
thus lately opened to their fainting souls.

  [81] Tradition tells very little about Cornelius. There is indeed
  a long article devoted to him by the Bollandists, _Acta
  Sanctorum_, Feb. t. 1, p. 280, but there is nothing in it. He is
  commemorated on Feb. 2nd. The Greeks make him bishop of Scepsis,
  the Latins of Cæsarea. St. Jerome says that in his time the house
  of Cornelius had been turned into a church. The story of his life
  as told in the Martyrologies is evidently a mere mediæval
  concoction. At Scepsis the prefect Demetrius brings him into a
  temple of Apollo, when at his prayer the idol is smashed to pieces
  and the magistrate converted. Such stories are, however, the
  stock-in-trade of the legend-mongers of the Middle Ages.



     "The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch."--ACTS
     xi. 26.

The eleventh chapter of the Acts is clearly divisible into two
portions. There is first the narrative of St. Peter's reception at
Jerusalem after the conversion of Cornelius, and secondly the story of
the origin of the Antiochene Church, the mother and metropolis of
Gentile Christendom. They are distinct the one from the other, and yet
they are closely connected together, for they both deal with the same
great topic, the admission of the Gentiles to full and free communion
in the Church of God. Let us then search out the line of thought which
runs like a golden thread through this whole chapter, sure that in
doing so we shall find light shed upon some modern questions from this
divinely written ecclesiastical history.

I. St. Peter tarried a certain time with Cornelius and the other new
converts at Cæsarea. There was doubtless much to be taught and much to
be set in order. Baptism was in the early Church administered when the
converts were yet immature in faith and knowledge. The Church was
viewed as a hospital, where the sick and feeble were to be admitted
and cured. It was not therefore demanded of candidates for admission
that they should be perfectly instructed in all the articles and
mysteries of the Christian faith. There were indeed some points in
which they were not instructed at all till they had been "buried with
Christ through baptism into death." Then when they had taken their
stand upon the Christian platform, and were able to view the matter
from the true vantage point, they were admitted into fuller and deeper
mysteries. Peter too must have had his work cut out for him at Cæsarea
in striving to organise the Church. St. Philip may have here lent his
aid, and may have been constituted the resident head of the local
Church.[82] After the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch he worked his
way up to Cæsarea, preaching in all the towns and villages of that
populous district. There he seems to have fixed his residence, as
fifteen years or so later we find him permanently located in that city
with his "four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy" (Acts xxi. 8,
9). We may be sure that some such Church organisation was immediately
started at Cæsarea. We have already traced the work of organisation in
Jerusalem. The apostles originally embraced in themselves all
ministerial offices, as in turn these offices were originally all
summed up in Jesus Christ. The apostles had taken an important step in
the establishment of the order of deacons at Jerusalem, retaining in
their own hands the supreme power to which appeal and reports could be
made. At Damascus it is evident that at the time of St. Paul's
conversion there was an organised Church, Ananias being the head and
chief of it, with whom communications were officially held; while the
notices about Joppa and the six witnesses of his action whom St.
Peter brought with him to Cæsarea indicate that an assembly or Church
organised after the model of the Jerusalem Church existed in that

  [82] The Church tradition reports, however, that Cornelius was
  first bishop of Cæsarea, but without any solid authority for the
  statement. See, however, the note in last chapter, p. 141.

Having concluded his work in Cæsarea St. Peter returned to Jerusalem,
and there had to render an account of his action and was placed upon
his defence. "When Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of
the circumcision contended with him, saying, Thou wentest in to men
uncircumcised, and didst eat with them." This simple circumstance
throws much light upon the character of earliest Christianity. It was
to a large extent a Christian democracy. The apostles exercised the
supreme executive power, but the collective Christian assembly claimed
the exercise of their private judgment, and, above all, knew not
anything of the fancied privilege of St. Peter, as Prince of the
Apostles, to lay down on his own authority the laws for the whole
Christian Commonwealth. Here was St. Peter exercising his ministry and
apostolic power among the earliest Christians. How were his ministry
and authority received? Were they treated as if the personal authority
and decision of St. Peter settled every question without any further
appeal? This will be best seen if we tell a story well known in the
annals of ecclesiastical history. The fable of Papal Supremacy began
to be asserted about the year 500, when a series of forgeries were
circulated concerning the bishops of Rome and their decisions during
the ages of persecution. One of these forgeries dealt with a pope
named Marcellinus, who presided over the See of Rome during the
beginning of the great Diocletian persecution. The story goes on to
tell that Marcellinus fell into idolatry in order to save his life. A
council of three hundred bishops was summoned at Sinuessa, when the
assembled bishops are reported to have refused to pass sentence on
the Pope, the successor of St. Peter, saying that the Holy See may be
judged by no man. They therefore called upon the Pope to condemn
himself, as he alone was a judge competent to exercise such a
function. This story, according to Döllinger, was forged about the
year 500, and it clearly exhibits the different view taken of the
position of St. Peter in the Church of Jerusalem and of his alleged
successors in the Church of Rome five centuries later. In the latter
case St. Peter's successor cannot be judged or condemned by any
mortal.[83] According to the Acts of the Apostles the members of the
stricter party in the Church of Jerusalem had no hesitation in
challenging the actions and teaching of St. Peter himself, and it was
only when he could prove the immediate and manifest approval of Heaven
that they ceased their opposition, saying, "Then to the Gentiles also
hath God granted repentance unto life."

  [83] See the article on Marcellinus (1) in the _Dictionary of
  Christian Biography_, vol. iii., p. 804, where all the facts are
  told of this curious story.

We can in this incident see how the Church was slowly but surely
developing itself under the Divine guidance. The incident when the
order of deacons was instituted was the primary step. There was then
first manifested that combination of authority and freedom united with
open discussion which, originating in the Christian Church, has been
the source of all modern society, of modern governments, and modern
methods of legislation. Now we see the same ideas applied to questions
of doctrine and discipline, till we come in a short time to the
perfection of this method in the celebrated Council of Jerusalem which
framed the charter and traced out the main lines of development upon
which the Church of the Gentiles and true gospel freedom were

II. The centre of Christian interest now shifts its position and fixes
itself in the city of Antioch, where a further step in advance was
taken. Our attention is first of all recalled to the results of St.
Stephen's death. "They therefore that were scattered abroad upon the
tribulation that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phœnicia,
and Cyprus, and Antioch, speaking the word to none save only to Jews.
But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they
were come to Antioch, spake unto the Greeks also, preaching the Lord
Jesus." This is clearly a case of preaching the gospel to the
Gentiles, and the question has been raised, Was the action of these
men of Cyprus and Cyrene quite independent of the action of St. Peter
or an immediate result of the same? Did the men of Cyprus and Cyrene
preach the gospel to the Gentiles of Antioch of their own motion, or
did they wait till tidings of St. Peter's action had reached them, and
then, yielding to the generous instincts which had been long beating
in the hearts of these Hellenistic Jews, did they proclaim at Antioch
the glad tidings of salvation which the Gentiles of that gay and
brilliant but very wicked city so much needed? Our answer to these
queries is very short and plain. We think that the preaching of the
Hellenists of Cyprus to the Gentiles of Antioch must have been the
result of St. Peter's action at Cæsarea, else why did they wait till
Antioch was reached to open their mouths to the pagan world? Surely if
the sight of sin and wickedness and civilised depravity was necessary
to stir them up to efforts for the spiritual welfare of the Gentile
world, Phœnicia and Cyprus abounded with scenes quite sufficient
to unseal their lips. But the force of national prejudice and of
religious exclusiveness was too strong till they came to Antioch,
where tidings must have reached them of the vision and action of St.
Peter at Cæsarea.

It is easy to see why this information reached the missionaries at
Antioch. Cæsarea was the Roman capital of Palestine, and was a
seaport. Antioch was the Roman capital of the province of Syria, an
immense extent of territory, which included not merely the country
which we call Syria, but extended to the Euphrates on the west and to
the desert intervening between Palestine and Egypt on the south. The
prefect of the East resided at Antioch, and he was one of the three or
four greatest officials under the Roman emperor. Palestine was, in
fact, a part of the province of Syria, and its ruler or president was
dependent upon the governor of Syria. It is therefore in strictest
accordance with the facts of Roman history when St. Luke tells in his
Gospel (ii. 2) concerning the taxation of Augustus Cæsar, "This was
the first enrolment made when Quirinus was governor of Syria." Antioch
being then the seat of the central government of the eastern division
of the Roman Empire, and Cæsarea being the headquarters of an
important lieutenant of the Syrian proconsul, it is no wonder there
should have been very constant intercourse between the two places. The
great magazines of arms for the entire east were located at Antioch,
and there too the money was coined necessary to pay the troops and to
carry on commercial intercourse. It must have been very easy for an
official like Cornelius, or even for any simple private soldier or for
an ordinary Jew or Christian of Cæsarea, to communicate with Antioch,
and to send word concerning the proceedings of St. Peter and the
blessings vouchsafed by God to any devout person who might be there
seeking after light and truth.[84] It is quite natural therefore that,
while the Christians dispersed into various lands by the persecution
at Jerusalem restrained themselves to the Jews alone throughout their
previous labours, when the men of Cyprus and Cyrene heard tidings at
Antioch of St. Peter and his doings and revelations at Cæsarea, they
at last allowed free scope to their longings which long ago had found
place in their more liberalised hearts, and testified to the Gentiles
of Antioch concerning the gladsome story of the gospel. Here again we
behold another instance of the value of culture and travel and
enlarged intelligence. The Hellenists of Cyprus and Cyrene were the
first to realise and act out the principle which God had taught St.
Peter. They saw that God's mercies were not restrained to the
particular case of Cornelius. They realised that his was a typical
instance, and that his conversion was intended to carry with it and to
decide the possibility of Gentile salvation and the formation of a
Gentile Church all over the world, and they put the principle in
operation at once in one of the places where it was most needed: "When
the men of Cyprus and Cyrene were come to Antioch, they spake unto the
Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus." The method of the Divine
development was in the primitive ages very similar to that we often
still behold. Some improvement is required, some new principle has to
be set in motion. If younger men begin the work, or if souls
notorious for their freer thought or less prejudiced understandings,
attempt to introduce the novel principle, the vast mass of stolid
conservative opposition and attachment to the past is at once
quickened into lively action. But then some Peter or another, some man
of known rectitude and worth, and yet of equally well-known narrow
views and devoted adherence to the past, takes some hesitating step in
advance. He may indeed strive to limit its application to the special
case before him, and he may earnestly deprecate any wider application
of the principle on which he has acted. But it is all in vain. He has
served the Divine purposes. His narrowness and respectability and
personal weight have done their work, and have sanctioned the
introduction of the principle which then is applied upon a much wider
scale by men whose minds have been liberalised and trained to seize a
great broad principle and put it into practical operation.

  [84] Cæsarea and Antioch were about two hundred miles distant from
  each other by sea. A Roman trireme travelling at express speed
  would easily have accomplished this distance in two or at most
  three days.

III. "When they came to Antioch, they spake the word to the Greek
also." And verily the men of Cyprus and Cyrene chose a fitting spot to
open the kingdom of heaven to the Greek world and to found the mother
Church of Gentile Christendom, for no city in the whole world was more
completely Satan's seat, or more entirely devoted to those works which
St. John describes as the lusts of the flesh, and the lust of the eye,
and the vain-glory of life. Let us reflect a little on the history and
state of Antioch, and we shall then see the Divine motive in selecting
it as the site of the first great Gentile Church, and we shall see too
the Divine guidance which led St. Luke in this typical ecclesiastical
history to select the Church of Antioch for such frequent notice,
exceeding, as it does, all other Churches save Jerusalem in the
amount of attention bestowed upon it in the Acts of the Apostles.[85]

  [85] The various Lives of St. Paul and Gibbon in his _Decline and
  Fall_ give minute accounts of Antioch, its grandeur and
  wickedness; K. O. Müller's _Antiquities of Antioch_, Göttingen,
  1839 is an exhaustive work on the subject; see also Mommsen's
  _Provinces_, Book VIII., ch. x.

Antioch and Alexandria were towns dating from the same epoch. They
came into existence about the year 300 B.C., being the creation of
Alexander the Great himself, or of the generals who divided his empire
between them. The city of Antioch was originally built by Seleucus
Nicator, the founder of the kingdom of Syria, but was subsequently
enlarged, so that in St. Paul's time it was divided into four
independent districts or towns, each surrounded by its own walls, and
all included within one vast wall some fifty feet high, which
surmounted mountain tops and was carried at vast expense across
valleys and ravines. Antioch was in the first century counted the
third city in the world, Rome being first, Alexandria second, and
Antioch third. It had marvellous natural advantages. It was blessed
with charming mountain scenery. The peaks rising up on all sides could
be seen from every part of the city, imparting thus to life in Antioch
that sense not merely of beauty and grandeur, but of the nearness of
such beauty and grandeur combined with solitude and freedom from the
madding crowd which seem so sweet to a man who passes his life amid
the noise and hurry of a great city. What a change in the conditions
of life in London would be at once brought about could the scenery
surrounding Edinburgh or Lucerne be transferred to the world's
metropolis, and the toiler in Fleet Street and the Strand be enabled
to look amid his daily labours upon cloud-piercing mountains or peaks
clad in a robe of virgin white! Antioch was built upon the southern
bank of the river Orontes, along which it extended about five miles.
The main street of the city, otherwise called the Street of Herod
after the celebrated Herod the Great who built it, was four and a half
miles long. This street was unrivalled among the cities of the world,
and was furnished with an arcade on both sides extending its whole
length, beneath which the inhabitants could walk and transact business
at all times free from the heat and from the rain. The water supply of
Antioch was its special feature. The great orator Libanius, a native
of Antioch, who lived three hundred years later than St. Paul, while
the city yet stood in all its grandeur and beauty, thus dwells on this
feature of Antioch in a panegyric composed under the Emperor
Constantius: "That wherein we beat all other is the water supply of
our city; if in other respects any one may compete with us, all give
way so soon as we come to speak of the water, its abundance and its
excellence. In the public baths every stream has the proportions of a
river, in the private baths several have the like, and the rest not
much less. One measures the abundance of running water by the number
of the dwelling-houses; for as many as are the dwelling-houses, so
many are also the running waters. Therefore we have no fighting at the
public wells as to who shall come first to draw--an evil under which
so many considerable towns suffer, when there is a violent crowding
round the wells and outcry over broken jars. With us the public
fountains flow for ornament, since every one has water within his
doors. And this water is so clear that the pail appears empty, and so
pleasant that it invites us to drink."[86] Such was the description
of a pagan who saw Antioch even as St. Paul saw it, and testified
concerning the natural gifts with which God had endowed it. But, alas!
as with individuals, so is it with cities. God may lavish His best
blessings, and yet instead of bringing forth the fruits of
righteousness His choicest gifts of nature may be turned into fruitful
seed plots of lust and sin. Sodom and Gomorrha were planted in a vale
that was well watered and fair and fruitful, even as the Garden of the
Lord; but the inhabitants thereof were wicked, and sinners before the
Lord exceedingly; and so it was with Antioch. This city so blessed in
situation and in nature's richest and most precious gifts was
celebrated for its wicked pre-eminence amid the awful corruption which
then overspread the cities of the world. When the Roman satirist
Juvenal, writing about this period of which we treat, would fain
account for the excessive dissolution of morals which then prevailed
at Rome, his explanation of it was that the manners of Antioch had
invaded Rome and corrupted its ancient purity:

  "Jampridem Syrus in Tiberim defluxit Orontes."[87]

  [86] The same orator informs us that the streets of Antioch were
  lighted at night with public lamps. In this respect it stood alone
  among the cities of antiquity: see Libanius, I., 363, and the
  notes of Valesius on Ammianus Marcellinus, xiv., 1, 9.

  [87] Juv., _Sat._, iii., 62. See Farrar's _St. Paul_, ch. xvi.,
  for a more minute account of the wickedness of Antioch than we can
  give in this place. He well remarks: "Cities liable to the influx
  of heterogeneous races are rarely otherwise than immoral and
  debased. Even Rome in the decadence of its Cæsarism could groan to
  think of the dregs of its degradation--the quacks and pandars, and
  musicians and dancing girls--poured into the Tiber by the Syrian
  Orontes.... It seems as though it were a law of human intercourse
  that, when races are commingled in large masses, the worst
  qualities of each appear intensified in the general iniquity."

Amid the general wickedness of Antioch there was one element of life
and hope and purity. The Jews of Antioch formed a large society in
that city governed by their own laws and preserving themselves by
their peculiar discipline free from the abounding vices of Oriental
paganism. It was at Antioch as it was at Alexandria and Damascus. The
Jews at Alexandria had their alabarch to whom they owed special
allegiance and by whom alone they were ruled; the Jews of Damascus had
their ethnarch who exercised peculiar jurisdiction over them; and so
too had the Jews of Antioch a peculiar ruler of their own, forming
thus an _imperium in imperio_ running counter to our Western notions
which in many respects demand an iron uniformity very foreign to the
Eastern mind, and show themselves eminently deficient in that
flexibility and diversity which found an abundant play even among the
arrangements of the Roman Empire.[88] This Jewish quarter of Antioch
had for centuries been growing and extending itself, and its chief
synagogue had been glorified by the reception of some of the choicest
temple spoils which the kings of Syria had at first carried captive
from Jerusalem and then in a fit of repentance or of prudent policy
had bestowed upon the Jewish colony in their capital city.

  [88] We shall have frequent occasions to notice the numerous
  varieties of rule, privileges, and local liberties which prevailed
  under the Roman Empire. The Romans seem to have scrupulously
  respected ancient rights and customs wherever possible, provided
  only the supreme sovereignty of Rome was recognised.

Such was the city to which the men of Cyprus and Cyrene were now
carrying the news of the gospel, intending, doubtless, to tell merely
their Jewish fellow-countrymen and religionists of the Messiah whose
love and power they had themselves experienced. Here, however, they
were met by the startling information from Cæsarea. They were,
however, prepared for it. They were Hellenistic Jews like St. Stephen.
They had listened to his burning words, and had followed closely his
epoch-making speeches whereby he confounded the Jews and clearly
indicated the opening of a new era. But then God's dispensations
seemed to have terminated his teaching and put a fatal end to the
hopes which he had raised. Men then misread God's dealings with His
servants, and interpreted His ways amiss. The death of Stephen seemed
perhaps to some minds a visible condemnation of his views, when in
reality it was the direct channel by which God would work out a wider
propagation of them, as well as the conversion of the agent destined
to diffuse them most powerfully. Apparent defeat is not always
permanent disaster, whether in things temporal or things spiritual;
nay, rather the temporary check may be the necessary condition of the
final and glorious victory. So it was in this case, as the men of
Cyprus and Cyrene proved, when the news of St. Peter's revelation and
his decisive action arrived and they realised in action the principles
of Catholic Christianity for which their loved teacher St. Stephen had
died. And their brave action was soon followed by blessed success, by
a rich harvest of souls: "The hand of the Lord was with them; and a
great number that believed turned to the Lord." Thus were laid the
foundations of the headquarters, the mother Church of Gentile

IV. Now we come to another step in the development. Tidings of the
action taken at Antioch came to Jerusalem. The news must have
travelled much the same road as that by which, as we have indicated,
the story of St. Peter's action was carried to Antioch. The
intercourse between Jerusalem and Antioch was frequent enough by land
or by sea; and no synagogue and no Jewish society was more liberal in
its gifts towards the support of the supreme council and hierarchy at
Jerusalem than the Jewish colony and its synagogues at Damascus. And
the old custom of communication with Jerusalem naturally led the
Nazarenes of Antioch to send word of their proceedings up to the
apostles and supreme council who ruled their parent society in the
same city. We see a clear indication that the events at Antioch
happened subsequently to those at Cæsarea in the manner in which the
news was received at Jerusalem. There seems to have been no strife, no
discussion, no controversy. The question had been already raised and
decided after St. Peter's return. So the apostles simply select a
fitting messenger to go forth with the authority of the apostles and
to complete the work which, having been initiated in baptism, merely
now demanded that imposition of hands which, as we have seen in the
case of the Samaritan converts, was one of the special functions of
the apostles and chiefs of the Church at Jerusalem. And in choosing
Barnabas the apostles made a wise choice. They did not send one of the
original Twelve, because not one of them was fitted for the peculiar
work now demanded. They were all narrow, provincial, untravelled,
devoid of that wide and generous training which God had given to
Barnabas. It may be too that they felt restrained from going beyond
the bounds of Canaan before the twelve years had elapsed of which
ancient Christian tradition tells as the limit of their stay in
Jerusalem fixed by our Lord Himself.[89] He was a Hellenistic Jew, and
he could sympathise with the wider feelings and ideas of the
Hellenists. He was a man of Cyprus, a friend and perhaps connexion of
many, both Jews and Gentiles, among those whose new-born faith and
hope were now in question. And above all he was a man of kindly heart
and genial temper and loving thought and blessed charity, fitted to
soothe jealousies and allay suspicions, and make the long alienated
and despised Gentiles feel at home in the Church and family of Jesus
Christ. Barnabas was a person peculiarly fitted to prove a mediator
and uniting link in a society where divergent elements found a place
and asserted themselves. He was not the man to take a new step or to
have decided the question of the admission of the Gentiles if it had
not been already settled. He must have come therefore fortified by the
authority of the apostles, and then, knowing right well what they
approved, he was just the man to carry out the details of an
arrangement requiring tact and skill and temper; though he was by no
means suited to decide a great question on its own merits or to
initiate any great movement. In the Church of God then, as in the
Church of God still, there is a place and a work for the strong man of
keen logic and vigorous intellect and profound thought. And there is
too a place and a work for the man of loving heart and a charity which
evermore delights in compromise. "Barnabas, when he was come, and had
seen the grace of God, was glad; and he exhorted them all, that with
purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good
man, and full of the Holy Ghost and faith; and much people was added
unto the Lord." Barnabas had another virtue too. He knew his own
weakness. He did not imagine like some men that he was specially
strong where he was eminently weak. He felt his want of the active
vigorous mind of his friend of boyhood the new convert Saul. He knew
where he was living in comparative obscurity and silence; so after a
little experience of the atmosphere of Antioch he departed to Tarsus
to seek for him and bring him back where a great work was awaiting his
peculiar turn of mind. There is an ancient historian of Antioch who
has preserved for us many stories about that city in these apostolic
and even in much earlier ages. His name is John Malalas; he lived
about six hundred years after Christ, but had access to many ancient
documents and writers that are no longer known to us. He tells us many
things about the primitive Church of Antioch. He has his own version
of the quarrel between St. Paul and St. Peter which happened in that
city; and he fixes even the very spot where St. Paul first preached,
telling us that its name was Singon Street, which stood near the
Pantheon. This may seem to us a minuteness of detail too great to be
believed. But then we must remember that John Malalas expressly cites
ancient chronologers and historians as his authorities, and he himself
lived while as yet Antioch retained all the ancient arrangements of
streets and divisions. And surely Saul, as he travelled from Tarsus
responding at once to the call of Barnabas, must have seen enough to
stir his love to Christ and to souls into heartiest exertion. He came
doubtless by sea and landed at Seleucia, the port of Antioch, some
sixteen miles distant from the city. As he travelled up to Antioch he
would get distant glimpses of the groves of Daphne, a park ten miles
in circumference, dedicated indeed to the poetic worship of Apollo,
but dedicated also to the vilest purposes of wickedness intimately
associated with that poetic worship. Poetry, whether ancient or
modern, can be very blessed, ennobling and elevating man's whole
nature. But the same poetry, as in ancient paganism and in some modern
writers, can become a festering plague-spot, the abounding source to
its votaries of moral corruption and spiritual death.[90]

  [89] See Eusebius, _Eccles. Hist._, v., 18.

  [90] There is a good description of Daphne as St. Paul may have
  seen it in Gibbon's _Decline and Fall_, ch. xxiii. We borrow a few
  extracts from it to give a more vivid idea of Antioch in St.
  Paul's day. "At the distance of five miles from Antioch the
  Macedonian kings of Syria had consecrated to Apollo one of the
  most elegant places of devotion in the pagan world. A magnificent
  temple rose in honour of the God of light; and his colossal figure
  almost filled the capacious sanctuary which was enriched with gold
  and gems and adorned by the skill of the Grecian artists. The
  deity was represented in a bending attitude, with a golden cup in
  his hand, pouring out a libation on the earth, as if he
  supplicated the venerable mother to give to his arms the cold and
  beauteous Daphne; for the spot was ennobled by fiction, and the
  fancy of the Syrian poets had transported the amorous tale from
  the banks of the Perseus to the town of the Orontes." "The temple
  and village were deeply bosomed in a thick grove of laurels and
  cypresses, which reached as far as a circumference of ten miles,
  and proved in the most sultry summers a cool and impenetrable
  shade. A thousand streams of the purest water, issuing from every
  hill, preserved the verdure of the earth and the temperature of
  the air; the senses were gratified with harmonious sounds and
  aromatic odours; and the peaceful grove was consecrated to health
  and joy, to luxury and love. The soldier and the philosopher
  wisely avoided the temptations of this sensual paradise, where
  pleasure, assuming the character of religion, imperceptibly
  dissolved the firmness of manly virtue." Gibbon's notes abound
  with ample proof of the statements he makes. To them we may refer
  the reader curious about the details of ancient paganism.

Daphne and its associations would rouse the whole soul, the healthy
moral nature of Saul of Tarsus, inherited originally from his ancient
Jewish training, and now quickened and deepened by the spiritual
revelations made to him in Christ Jesus. It is no wonder then that
here we read of St. Paul's first long and continuous period of
ministerial work: "It came to pass that even for a whole year they
were gathered together with the Church, and taught much people." The
results of the new force which Barnabas introduced into the spiritual
life of Antioch soon became manifested. "The disciples were first
called Christians at Antioch." Saul of Tarsus possessed what Barnabas
did not possess. He possessed a powerful, a logical, and a creative
intellect. He realised from the beginning what his own principles
meant and to what they were leading him. He taught not Judaism or the
Law with an addition merely about Jesus of Nazareth. He troubled not
himself about circumcision or the old covenant, but he taught from the
very beginning Christ Jesus, Christ in His Divine and human nature,
Christ in His various offices, Jesus Christ as the one hope for
mankind. This was now at Antioch, as before at Damascus, the staple
topic of St. Paul's preaching, and therefore the Antiochenes, with
their ready wit and proverbial power of giving nicknames, at once
designated the new sect not Nazarenes or Galileans as the Jews of
Jerusalem called them, but Christians or adherents of Christ.[91]
Here, however, I prefer to avail myself of the exposition which one of
the great spiritual teachers of the last generation gave us of this
expression. The well-known and learned Archbishop of Dublin, Dr.
Trench, in his _Study of Words_ (21st Ed.: Lond. 1890), p. 189, thus
draws out the lesson connected with this word and the time of its
appearance: "'The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.'
That we have here a notice which we would not willingly have missed
all will acknowledge, even as nothing can be otherwise than curious
which relates to the infancy of the Church. But there is here much
more than a curious notice. Question it a little closer, and how much
it will be found to contain, how much which it is waiting to yield up!
What light it throws on the whole story of the Apostolic Church to
know where and when this name of Christians was first imposed on the
faithful; for imposed by adversaries it certainly was, not devised by
themselves, however afterwards they may have learned to glory in it as
the name of highest dignity and honour. They did not call themselves,
but, as is expressly recorded, they 'were called' Christians first at
Antioch; in agreement with which statement the name occurs nowhere in
Scripture, except on the lips of those alien from or opposed to the
faith (Acts xxvi. 28; 1 Peter iv. 16). And as it was a name imposed by
adversaries, so among these adversaries it was plainly heathens, and
not Jews, who were its authors; for Jews would never have called the
followers of Jesus of Nazareth 'Christians,' or those of Christ, the
very point of their opposition to Him being, that He was not the
Christ, but a false pretender to the name. Starting then from this
point that 'Christians' was a title given to the disciples by the
heathen, what may we deduce from it further? At Antioch they first
obtained this name--at the city, that is, which was the headquarters
of the Church's mission to the heathen, in the same sense as Jerusalem
had been the headquarters of the mission to the seed of Abraham. It
was there and among the faithful there that a conviction of the
world-wide destination of the gospel arose; there it was first plainly
seen as intended for all kindreds of the earth. Hitherto the faithful
in Christ had been called by their adversaries, and indeed were often
still called 'Galileans' or 'Nazarenes'--both names which indicated
the Jewish cradle wherein the Church had been nursed, and that the
world saw in the new society no more than a Jewish sect. But it was
plain that the Church had now, even in the world's eyes, chipped its
Jewish shell. The name Christians or those of Christ, while it told
that Christ and the confession of Him was felt even by the heathen to
be the sum and centre of this new faith, showed also that they
comprehended now, not all which the Church would be, but something of
this; saw this much, namely, that it was no mere sect and variety of
Judaism, but a Society with a mission and a destiny of its own. Nor
will the thoughtful reader fail to observe that the coming up of this
name is by closest juxtaposition connected in the sacred narrative,
and still more closely in the Greek than in the English, with the
arrival at Antioch, and with the preaching there, of that Apostle who
was God's appointed instrument for bringing the Church to a full sense
that the message which it had was not for some men only, but for all.
As so often happens with the rise of new names, the rise of this one
marked a new epoch in the Church's life, and that it was entering upon
a new stage of development." This is a long extract, but it sets forth
in dignified and aptly chosen words, such as Archbishop Trench always
used, the important lessons which the thoughtful student of the Acts
may gather from the time and place where the term "Christians" first
sprang into existence.

  [91] The Antiochenes were always famous for the dangerous power of
  ridicule and giving nicknames. They quarrelled on this account
  with the emperors Hadrian, Verus, Marcus, Severus, and Julian. The
  last mentioned has celebrated these tendencies in his celebrated
  treatise entitled _Misopogon, or the Beard-hater_. Even in its
  final overthrow the city preserved this distinction. In the year
  540 the Persian king Chosroes Nushirvan took it by storm. When he
  appeared before the city he was received with a shower of arrows
  mingled with obscene sarcasms, which so enraged him that he
  removed the inhabitants when he had taken the town to a new
  Antioch in the province of Susa.

Finally, we notice in connexion with Antioch that the foundation of
the great Gentile Church was marked by the same universal impulse
which we trace wherever Christ was effectually preached. The faith of
the Crucified evermore produced love to the brethren. Agabus, a
prophet whom we shall again meet many years after in the course of St.
Paul's life, and who then predicted his approaching arrest and
captivity at Jerusalem, made his earliest recorded appearance at
Antioch, where he announced an impending famine. Agabus exercised the
office of a prophet, which implied under the New Dispensation rather
the office of preaching than of prediction. Prediction, indeed,
whether under the Old or the New Dispensation, formed but a small
portion of the prophetical office. The work of the prophet was
pre-eminently that of telling forth God's will and enforcing it upon a
careless generation. Occasionally indeed, as in the case of Agabus,
that telling forth involved prediction or announcement of God's
chastisements and visitations; but far oftener the prophet's work was
finished when he enforced the great principles of truth and
righteousness as the Christian preacher does still. Agabus seems to
have been specially gifted in the direction of prediction. He
announced a famine as impending over the whole world, which came to
pass in the age of Claudius, offering to the Gentile Church of Antioch
an opportunity, of which they gladly availed themselves, to repay
somewhat of the spiritual obligation which the Gentiles owed to the
Jews according to St. Paul's own rule: "If the Gentiles have been made
partakers of their spiritual things, they owe it to them also to
minister unto them in carnal things."[92] We can trace here the force
and power of ancient Jewish customs. We can see how the mould and form
and external shape of the Church was gained from the Jew. The Jewish
colony of Antioch had been of old famous for the liberality of its
gifts to the mother community at Jerusalem. The predominant element in
the Church of Antioch was now Gentile, but still the ancient customs
prevailed. The Gentile Christian community acted towards the Jerusalem
Church as the Jewish community had been used to treat their
countrymen: "The disciples, every man according to his ability,
determined to send relief unto the brethren that dwelt in Judæa: which
also they did, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and

  [92] This famine is thoroughly historical. It is noticed by
  several who wrote of this time, as Dion, lx., 11; Suetonius,
  Claud., 20; Aurelius, Victor; and is confirmed by the testimony of
  the coins: see Eckhel, vi., 238, 239, 240. Cf. Lewin's _Fasti
  Sacri_, p. 274, A.D. 42.



     "Now about that time Herod the king put forth his hands to
     afflict certain of the Church. And he killed James the brother of
     John with the sword. And when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he
     proceeded to seize Peter also.... Immediately an angel of the
     Lord smote Herod, because he gave not God the glory: and he was
     eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost. But the word of God grew
     and multiplied."--ACTS xii. 1-3, 23-24.

The chapter at which we have now arrived is very important from a
chronological point of view, as it brings the sacred narrative into
contact with the affairs of the external world concerning which we
have independent knowledge. The history of the Christian Church and of
the outside world for the first time clearly intersect, and we thus
gain a fixed point of time to which we can refer. This chronological
character of the twelfth chapter of the Acts arises from its
introduction of Herod and the narrative of the second notable
persecution which the Church at Jerusalem had to endure. The
appearance of a Herod on the scene and the tragedy in which he was the
actor demand a certain amount of historical explanation, for, as we
have already noted in the case of St. Stephen five or six years
previously, Roman procurators and Jewish priests and the Sanhedrin
then possessed or at least used the power of the sword in Jerusalem,
while a word had not been heard of a Herod exercising capital
jurisdiction in Judæa for more than forty years. Who was this Herod?
Whence came he? How does he emerge so suddenly upon the stage? As
great confusion exists in the minds of many Bible students about the
ramifications of the Herodian family and the various offices and
governments they held, we must make a brief digression in order to
show who and whence this Herod was concerning whom we are told, "Now
about that time Herod the king put forth his hands to afflict certain
of the Church."

This Herod Agrippa was a grandson of Herod the Great, and displayed in
the solitary notice of him which Holy Scripture has handed down many
of the characteristics, cruel, bloodthirsty and yet magnificent, which
that celebrated sovereign manifested throughout his life.[93] The
story of Herod Agrippa his grandson was a real romance. He made trial
of every station in life. He had been at times a captive, at times a
conqueror. He had at various periods experience of a prison house and
of a throne. He had felt the depths of poverty, and had not known
where to borrow money sufficient to pay his way to Rome. He had
tasted of the sweetness of affluence, and had enjoyed the pleasures of
magnificent living. He had been a subject and a ruler, a dependant on
a tyrant, and the trusted friend and councillor of emperors. His story
is worth telling. He was born about ten years before the Christian
era, and was the son of Aristobulus, one of the sons of Herod the
Great. After the death of Herod, his grandfather, the Herodian family
was scattered all over the world. Some obtained official positions;
others were obliged to shift for themselves, depending on the
fragments of the fortune which the great king had left them. Agrippa
lived at Rome till about the year 30 A.D., associating with Drusus,
the son of the Emperor Tiberius, by whom he was led into the wildest
extravagance. He was banished from Rome about that year, and was
obliged to retire to Palestine, contenting himself with the small
official post of Ædile of Tiberias in Galilee, given him by his uncle
Herod Antipas, which he held about the time when our Lord was teaching
in that neighbourhood. During the next six years the fortunes of
Agrippa were of the most chequered kind. He soon quarrelled with
Antipas, and is next found a fugitive at the court of Antioch with the
Prefect of the East. He there borrowed from a money-lender the sum of
£800 at 12-1/2 per cent. interest, to enable him to go to Rome and
push his interests at the imperial court. He was arrested, however,
for a large debt due to the Treasury just when he was embarking, and
consigned to prison, whence the very next day he managed to escape,
and fled to Alexandria. There he again raised another timely loan, and
thus at last succeeded in getting to Rome. Agrippa attached himself to
Caligula, the heir of the empire, and after various chances was
appointed by him King of Trachonitis, a dominion which Caligula and
subsequently Claudius enlarged by degrees, till in the year 41 he was
invested with the kingdom of the whole of Palestine, including
Galilee, Samaria, and Judæa, of which Agrippa proceeded to take formal
possession about twelve months before the events recorded in the
twelfth chapter of Acts.[94]

  [93] The Herodian family form a notable instance of the modern
  doctrine of heredity, which yet is only the ancient principle of
  Divine action announced long ago in the Second Commandment,
  "Visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third
  and fourth generation." The moral taints which we behold in Esau,
  passion, self-indulgence quenching all forethought, ostentation
  joined with magnificent generosity, displayed themselves in Herod
  the Great. In him they were joined with absolute power, and they
  produced their natural results. They made his heart, his life, his
  home a howling wilderness, and handed down to his descendants a
  legacy of wickedness which ceased not to bear fruit so long as his
  name survived. Herod's family cruelties were so celebrated that we
  are told by a pagan writer, named Macrobius, that when the Emperor
  Augustus heard of the slaughter of the innocents of Bethlehem,
  thinking they were Herod's children, he jokingly said, "It were
  better to be Herod's pigs than Herod's children."

  [94] See Lewin's _Fasti Sacri_, A.D. 41, p. 271, for the
  authorities on the subject of Herod's career.

Herod's career had been marked by various changes, but in one respect
he had been consistent. He was ever a thorough Jew, and a vigorous and
useful friend to his fellow-countrymen. We have already noticed that
his influence had been used with Caligula to induce the Emperor to
forgo his mad project of erecting his statue in the Holy of Holies at
Jerusalem.[95] Herod had, however, one great drawback in the eyes of
the priestly faction at Jerusalem. All the descendants of Herod the
Great were tainted by their Edomite blood, which they inherited
through him. Their kind offices and support were accepted indeed, but
only grudgingly. Herod felt this, and it was quite natural therefore
for the newly appointed king to strive to gain all the popularity he
could with the dominant party at Jerusalem by persecuting the new sect
which was giving them so much trouble. No incident could possibly have
been more natural, more consistent with the facts of history, as well
as with the known dispositions and tendencies of human nature, than
that recorded in these words--"Now about that time Herod the king put
forth his hands to afflict certain of the Church. And he killed James
the brother of John with the sword." Herod's act was a very politic
one from a worldly point of view. It was a hard dose enough for the
Jewish people to swallow, to find a king imposed upon them by an
idolatrous Gentile power; but it was some alleviation of their lot
that the king was a Jew, and a Jew so devoted to the service of the
ruling hierarchy that he was willing to use his secular power to crush
the troublesome Nazarene sect whose doctrine threatened for ever to
destroy all hopes of a temporal restoration for Israel. Such being the
historical setting of the picture presented to us, let us apply
ourselves to the spiritual application and lessons of this incident in
apostolic history. We have here a martyrdom, a deliverance, and a
Divine judgment, which will all repay careful study.

  [95] See p. 95 above.

I. A martyrdom is here brought under our notice, and that the first
martyrdom among the apostles. Stephen's was the first Christian
martyrdom, but that of James was the first apostolic martyrdom. When
Herod, following his grandfather's footsteps, would afflict the
Church, "he killed James the brother of John with the sword." We must
carefully distinguish between two martyrs of the same name who have
both found a place in the commemorations of Christian hope and love.
May-day is the feast devoted to the memory of St. Philip and St.
James, July 25th is the anniversary consecrated to the memorial of St.
James the Apostle, whose death is recorded in the passage now under
consideration. The latter was the brother of John and son of Zebedee;
the former was the brother or cousin according to the flesh of our
Lord. St. James the Apostle perished early in the Church's history.
St. James the Just flourished for more than thirty years after the
Resurrection. He lived indeed to a comparatively advanced period of
the Church's history, as is manifest from a study of the Epistle
which he wrote to the Jewish Christians of the Dispersion. He there
rebukes shortcomings and faults, respect for the rich and contempt of
the poor, oppression and outrage and irreverence, which could never
have found place in that first burst of love and devotion to God which
the age of our Herodian martyr witnessed, but must have been the
outcome of long years of worldly prosperity and ease. James the Just,
the stern censor of Christian morals and customs, whose language
indeed in its severity has at times caused one-sided and narrow
Christians much trouble, must often have looked back with regret and
longing to the purer days of charity and devotion when James the
brother of John perished by the sword of Herod.

Again, we notice about this martyred apostle that, though there is
very little told us concerning his life and actions, he must have been
a very remarkable man. He was clearly remarkable for his Christian
privileges. He was one of the apostles specially favoured by our Lord.
He was admitted by Him into the closest spiritual converse. Thus we
find that, with Peter and John, James the Apostle was one of the three
selected by our Lord to behold the first manifestation of His power
over the realms of the dead when He restored the daughter of Jairus to
life; with the same two, Peter and John, he was privileged to behold
our Saviour receive the first foretaste of His heavenly glory upon the
Mount of Transfiguration; and with them too he was permitted to behold
his great Master drink the first draught of the cup of agony in the
Garden of Gethsemane. James the Apostle had thus the first necessary
qualification for an eminent worker in the Lord's vineyard. He had
been admitted into Christ's most intimate friendship, he knew much of
his Lord's will and mind. And the privileges thus conferred upon St.
James had not been misused or neglected. He did not hide his talent in
the dust of idleness, nor wrap it round with the mantle of sloth. He
utilised his advantages. He became a foremost, if not indeed the
foremost worker for his loved Lord in the Church of Jerusalem, as is
intimated by the opening words of this passage, which tells us that
when Herod wished to harass and vex the Church he selected James the
brother of John as his victim; and we may be sure that with the keen
instinct of a persecutor Herod selected not the least prominent and
useful, but the most devoted and energetic champion of Christ to
satisfy his cruel purpose. And yet, though James was thus privileged
and thus faithful and thus honoured by God, his active career is
shrouded thick round with clouds and darkness. We know nothing of the
good works and brave deeds and powerful sermons he devoted to his
Master's cause. We are told simply of the death by which he glorified
God. All else is hidden with God till that day when the secret
thoughts and deeds of every man shall be revealed. This incident in
early Apostolic Church history is a very typical one, and teaches many
a lesson very necessary for these times and for all times. If an
apostle so privileged and so faithful was content to do his work, and
then to pass away without a single line of memorial, a single word to
keep his name or his labours fresh among men, how much more may we,
petty, faithless, trifling as we are, be contented to do our duty, and
to pass away without any public recognition! And yet how we all do
crave after such recognition! How intensely we long for human praise
and approval! How useless we esteem our labours unless they are
followed by it! How inclined we are to make the fallible judgment of
man the standard by which we measure our actions, instead of having
the mind's eye ever steadily fixed as James the brother of John had on
His approval alone who, now seeing our secret trials, struggles,
efforts, will one day reward His faithful followers openly! This is
one great lesson which this typical passage by its silence as well as
by its speech clearly teaches the Church of every age.[96]

  [96] The tradition of the second century has only one story to
  tell about this martyrdom. We find it in Eusebius, _H. E._, ii.,
  9, where we read: "Concerning this James Clement hands down a
  story worthy of remembrance in the seventh book of his Hypotyposes
  (or Outlines) delivering it from the traditions of his
  predecessors, that the messenger who led him to the judgment-seat,
  beholding his witness, was moved to confess himself a Christian.
  Both were therefore led away, says he, and on the road (to
  execution) he asked forgiveness from James. And he, having
  considered for a little, said, Peace be to thee, and he kissed him
  tenderly. And thus both were beheaded together."

Again, this martyrdom of St. James proclaims yet another lesson. God
hereby warns the Church against the idolatry of human agents, against
vain trust in human support. Let us consider the circumstances of the
Church at that time. The Church had just passed through a season of
violent persecution, and had lost one of its bravest and foremost
soldiers in the person of Stephen, the martyred deacon. And now there
was impending over the Church what is often more trying far than a
time short and sharp of violence and blood,--a period of temporal
distress and suffering, trying the principles and testing the
endurance of the weaker brethren in a thousand petty trifles. It was a
time when the courage, the wisdom, the experience of the tried and
trusted leaders would be specially required to guide the Church amid
the many new problems which day by day were cropping up. And yet it
was just then, at such a crisis, that the Lord permits the bloody
sword of Herod to be stretched forth, and removes one of the very
chiefest champions of the Christian host just when his presence seemed
most necessary. It must have appeared a dark and trying dispensation
to the Church of that day; but though attended doubtless with some
present drawbacks and apparent disadvantages, it was well and wisely
done to warn the Church of every age against mere human dependence,
mere temporal refuges; teaching by a typical example that it is not by
human might or earthly wisdom, not by the eloquence of man or the
devices of earth that Christ's Church and people must be saved; that
it is by His own right hand, and by His own holy arm alone our God
will get Himself the victory.

Yet again we may learn from this incident another lesson rich laden
with comfort and instruction. This martyrdom of St. James throws us
back upon a circumstance which occurred during our Lord's last journey
to Jerusalem before His crucifixion, and interprets it for us. Let us
recall it. Our Lord was going up to Jerusalem, and His disciples were
following Him with wondering awe. The shadow of the Cross projecting
itself forward made itself unconsciously felt throughout the little
company, and men were astonished, though they knew not why. They
simply felt, as men do on a close sultry summer's day when a
thunderstorm is overhead, that something awful was impending. They
had, however, a vague feeling that the kingdom of God would shortly
appear, and so the mother of Zebedee's children, with all that
boldness which affection lends to feminine minds, drew near and strove
to secure a boon before all others for her own children. She prayed
that to her two sons might be granted the posts of honour in the
temporal kingdom she thought of as now drawing so very near. The Lord
replied to her request in very deep and far-reaching language, the
meaning of which she then understood not, but learned afterwards
through the discipline of pain and sorrow and death: "Ye know not what
ye ask. Are ye able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?" And
then, when James and John had professed their ability, he predicts
their future fate: "My cup indeed ye shall drink." The mother and the
sons alike spoke bold words, and offered a sincere but an ignorant
prayer. Little indeed did the mother dream as she presented her
petition--"Command that these my two sons may sit, one on Thy right
hand, and one on Thy left hand in Thy kingdom"--how that prayer would
be answered, and yet answered it was. To the one son, James, was
granted the one post of honour. He was made to sit on the Master's
right hand, for he was the first of the apostles called to enter into
Paradise through a baptism of blood. While to the other son, St. John,
was granted the other post of honour, for he was left the longest upon
earth to guide, direct, and sustain the Church by his inspired wisdom,
large experience, and apostolic authority.[97] The contrast between
the prayer offered up to Christ in ignorance and shortsightedness and
the manner in which the same prayer was answered in richest abundance
suggests to us the comforting reflection that no prayer offered up in
sincerity and truth is ever really left unanswered. We may indeed
never see how the prayer is answered. The mother of St. James may
little have dreamt as she beheld her son's lifeless body brought home
to her that this trying dispensation was a real answer to her
ambitious petition. But we can now see that it was so, and can thus
learn a lesson of genuine confidence, of holy boldness, of strong
faith in the power of sincere and loving communion with God. Let us
only take care to cultivate the same spirit of genuine humility and
profound submission which possessed the souls of those primitive
Christians enabling them to say, no matter how their petitions were
answered, whether in joy or sorrow, in smiles or tears, in riches or
poverty, "Not my will, but thine, O Lord, be done."

  [97] Bishop Lightfoot, in his celebrated essay on the Christian
  Ministry, _Philippians_, pp. 200-205, 2nd edition, regards
  Episcopacy as the work of St. John. "By whom was the new
  constitution organised? To this question only one answer can be
  given. This great work must be ascribed to the surviving apostles.
  St. John especially, who built up the speculative theology of the
  Church, was mainly instrumental in completing its external
  constitution also, for Asia Minor was the centre from which the
  new movement spread." These words occur in his analysis of Rothe's
  views, with which Dr. Lightfoot substantially agrees.

II. We have again in this twelfth chapter the record of a Divine
deliverance. Herod, seeing that the Jewish authorities were pleased
because they had now a sympathetic ruler who understood their
religious troubles and was resolved to help in quelling them,
determined to proceed farther in the work of repression. He arrested
another prominent leader, St. Peter, and cast him into prison. The
details are given to us of Herod's action and Peter's arrest. Peter
was now making his first acquaintance with Roman methods of
punishment. He had been indeed previously arrested and imprisoned, but
his arrest had been carried out by the Jewish authorities, and he had
been consigned to the care of the Temple police, and had occupied the
Temple prison. But Herod, though a strict Jew in religion, had been
thoroughly Romanised in matters of rule and government, and therefore
he treated St. Peter after the Roman fashion: "When he had taken him,
he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quarternions of
soldiers to guard him; intending after the Passover to bring him forth
to the people." He was delivered to sixteen men, who divided the night
into four watches, four men watching at a time, after the Roman method
of discipline.[98] And then, in contrast to all this preparation, we
are told how the Church betook herself to her sure refuge and strong
tower of defence: "Peter therefore was kept in prison; but prayer was
made earnestly of the Church unto God for him." These early Christians
had not had their faith limited or weakened by discussions whether
petition for temporal blessings were a proper subject of prayer, or
whether spiritual blessings did not alone supply true matter for
supplication before the Divine throne. They were in the first fervour
of Christian love, and they did not theorise, define, or debate about
prayer and its efficacy. They only knew that their Master had told
them to pray, and had promised to answer sincere prayer, as He alone
knew how; and so they gathered themselves in instant ceaseless prayer
at the foot of the throne of grace. I say "ceaseless" prayer because
it seems that the Jerusalem Church, feeling its danger, organised a
continuous service of prayer. "Prayer was made earnestly of the Church
unto God for him" is the statement of the fifth verse, and then when
St. Peter was released "he came to the house of Mary, where many were
gathered together and were praying," though the night must have been
far advanced. The crisis was a terrible one; the foremost champion,
St. James, had been taken, and now another great leader was
threatened, and therefore the Church flung herself at the feet of the
Master seeking deliverance, and was not disappointed, as the Church
has never since been disappointed when she has cast herself in
lowliness and profound submission before the same holy sanctuary.[99]
The narrative then proceeds to give us the particulars of St. Peter's
deliverance, as St. Peter himself seems to have told it to St. Luke,
for we have details given us which could only have come either
directly or indirectly from the person most immediately concerned. But
of these we shall treat in a little. The story now introduces the
supernatural, and for the believer this is quite in keeping with the
facts of the case. A great crisis in the history of the Jerusalem
Church has arrived. The mother Church of all Christendom, the fountain
and source of original Christianity, is threatened with extinction.
The life of the greatest existing leader of that Church is at stake,
and that before his work is done. The very existence of the Christian
revelation seems imperilled, and God sends forth an angel, a heavenly
messenger, to rescue His endangered servant, and to prove to
unbelieving Jew, to the haughty Herod, and to the frightened but
praying disciples alike the care which He ever exercises over His
Church and people. Here, however, a question may be raised. How was
it that an angel, a supernatural messenger, was despatched to the
special rescue of St. Peter? Why was not the same assistance
vouchsafed to St. James who had just been put to death? Why was not
the same assistance vouchsafed to St. Peter himself when he was
martyred at Rome, or to St. Paul when he lay in the dungeon in the
same city of Rome or at Cæsarea? Simply, we reply, because God's hour
was not yet come and the Apostle's work was not yet done. St. James's
work was done, and therefore the Lord did not immediately interfere,
or rather He summoned His servant to His assigned post of honour by
the ministry of Herod. The wrath of man became the instrument whereby
the praises of God were chanted and the soul of the righteous conveyed
to its appointed place. The Lord did not interfere when St. Paul was
cast into the prison house at Cæsarea, or St. Peter incarcerated in
the Roman dungeon, because they had then a great work to do in showing
how His servants can suffer as well as work. But now St. Peter had
many a long year of active labour before him and much work to do as
the Apostle of the Circumcision in preventing that schism with which
the diverse parties and opposing ideas of Jew and Gentile threatened
the infant Church, in smoothing over and reconciling the manifold
oppositions, jealousies, difficulties, misunderstandings, which ever
attend such a season of transition and transformation as now was fast
dawning upon the Divine society. The arrest of St. Peter and his
threatened death was a great crisis in the history of the primitive
Church. St. Peter's life was very precious to the existence of that
Church, it was very precious for the welfare of mankind at large, and
so it was a fitting time for God to raise up a banner against
triumphant pride and worldly force by the hand of a supernatural

  [98] These elaborate precautions were doubtless taken on account
  of his escape on the previous occasion, when the Sanhedrin had
  arrested him, as narrated in the nineteenth verse of the fifth

  [99] In the fifth century an order of monks was established at
  Constantinople who practised this ceaseless worship. They were
  called Acoimetæ, or the Watchers. They are described at length in
  Bingham's _Antiquities_, Book VII., ch. ii., sect. 10, and in
  Smith's _Dict. Christ. Antiqq._, vol. i., p. 13. A similar attempt
  was made in the reigns of James I. and Charles I. by the
  well-known Nicholas Ferrar in a monastic institution which he
  planned in connection with the Church of England: see the article
  in the _Dictionary of National Biography_ upon his name.

The steps by which St. Peter was delivered are all of them full of
edification and comfort. Let us mark them. "When Herod was about to
bring him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two
soldiers, bound with two chains: and guards before the door kept the
prison." It was on that fateful night the same as when the angels
descended on the Resurrection morning: the guards were in their
rightful place and discharging their accustomed duties, but when God
intervenes then human precautions are all useless. The words of the
narrative are striking in their quiet dignity. There is no working up
of details. There is no pandering to mere human curiosity. Everything
is in keeping with the sustained force, sublimity, elevation which we
ever behold in the Divine action. Peter was sleeping between two
soldiers; one chained to each arm, so that he could not move without
awaking them. He was sleeping profoundly and calmly, because he felt
himself in the hands of an Almighty Father who will order everything
for the best. The interior rest amid the greatest trials which an
assured confidence like that enjoyed by St. Peter can confer is
something marvellous, and has not been confined to apostolic times.
Our Lord's servants have in every age proved the same wondrous power.
I know of course that criminals are often said to enjoy a profound
sleep the night before their execution. But then habitual criminals
and hardened murderers have their spiritual natures so completely
overmastered and dominated by their lower material powers that they
realise nothing beyond the present. They are little better than the
beasts which perish, and think as little of the future as they do.
But persons with highly strung nervous powers, who realise the awful
change impending over them, cannot be as they, specially if they have
no such sure hope as that which sustained St. Peter. He slept calmly
here as Paul and Silas rejoiced in the Philippian prison house, as the
Master Himself slept calmly in the stern of the wave-rocked boat on
the Galilean lake, because he knew himself to be reposing in the arms
of Everlasting Love, and this knowledge bestowed upon him a sweet and
calm repose at the moment of supreme danger of which the fevered
children of time know nothing.

And now all the circumstances of the celestial visit are found to be
most suitable and becoming. The angel stood by Peter. A light shined
in the cell, because light is the very element in which these heavenly
beings spend their existence. The chains which bind St. Peter fell off
without any effort human or angelic, just as in a few moments the
great gate of the prison opened of its own accord, because all these
things, bonds and bolts and bars, derive all their coercive power from
the will of God, and when that will changes or is withdrawn they cease
to be operative, or become the instruments of the very opposite
purpose, assisting and not hindering His servants. Then the angel's
actions and directions are characteristic in their dignified vigour.
He told the awakened sleeper to act promptly: "He smote him on the
side, and awoke him, saying, Rise up quickly." But there is no undue
haste. As on the Resurrection morning the napkin that was upon
Christ's head was found not lying with the rest of the grave-cloths,
but rolled up in a place by itself, so too on this occasion the angel
shows minute care for Peter's personal appearance. There must be
nothing undignified, careless, untidy even, about the dress of the
rescued apostle: "Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals." St. Peter
had naturally laid aside his external garments, had unloosed his inner
robes, and taken off his sandals when preparing for sleep. Nothing,
however, escapes the heavenly messenger, and so he says, "Cast thy
garment about thee, and follow me," referring to the loose upper robe
or overcoat which the Jews wore over their underclothes; and then the
angel led him forth, teaching the Church the perpetual lesson that
external dignity of appearance is evermore becoming to God's people,
when not even an angel considered these things beneath his notice amid
all the excitement of a midnight rescue, nor did the inspired writer
omit to record such apparently petty details. Nothing about St. Peter
was too trivial for the angel's notice and direction, as again nothing
in life is too trivial for the sanctifying and elevating care of our
holy religion. Dress, food, education, marriage, amusements, all of
life's work and of life's interests, are the subject-matter whereon
the principles inculcated by Jesus Christ and taught by the ministry
of His Church are to find their due scope and exercise.[100]

  [100] The early Church has left us a treatise showing how
  thoroughly it recognised its duty in this respect. The "Pædagogue"
  or the "Instructor" of Clement of Alexandria is a handbook of the
  social life of the early Christians, teaching them what to do and
  wear and say under every conceivable circumstance. Clement thinks
  nothing too trivial for the rule of Christian principle,
  prescribing the kind of clothes, shoes, and beds which should be
  used. He may seem at times to border on the ludicrous in his
  minuteness; but then we cannot realise how profoundly paganism had
  corrupted human life and manners. Thus in Book III., ch. xi., he
  treats of the management of the hair by men. Paganism had
  introduced many sensual practices in this direction. Clement lays
  down: "Let the head of men be shaven, unless it has curly hair.
  But let the chin have the hair. But let not twisted locks hang far
  down from the head gliding into womanish ringlets.... Since
  cropping is to be adopted, not on account of elegance, but for the
  necessity of the case; the hair of the head, that it may not grow
  so long as to come down and interfere with the eyes, and that of
  the moustache similarly which is dirtied in eating, is to be cut
  round, not by a razor, for that were unbecoming, but by a pair of
  cropping scissors. But the hair on the chin is not to be
  disturbed, as it gives no trouble, and lends to the face dignity
  and paternal terror." This treatise of a very early Christian
  writer can be easily consulted in Clark's Ante-Nicene Library.

Peter's deliverance was now complete. The angel conducted him through
one street to assure him that he was really free and secure him from
bewilderment, and then departed. The Apostle thereupon sought out the
well-known centre of Christian worship, "the house of Mary the mother
of John, whose surname was Mark," where stood the upper chamber,
honoured as no other upper chamber had ever been. There he made known
his escape, and then retired to some secret place where Herod could
not find him, remaining there concealed till Herod was dead and direct
Roman law and authority were once more in operation at Jerusalem.[101]
There are two or three details in this narrative that are deserving of
special notice, as showing that St. Luke received the story most
probably from St. Peter himself. These touches are expressions of St.
Peter's inner thoughts, which could have been known only to St. Peter,
and must have been derived from him. Thus we are told about his state
of mind when the angel appeared: "He wist not that it was true which
was done by the angel, but thought he saw a vision." Again, after his
deliverance, we are told of the thoughts which passed through his
mind, the words which rose to his lips when he found himself once
again a free man: "When Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know
of a truth that the Lord hath sent forth His angel, and delivered me
out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people
of the Jews." While, again, how true to life and to the female nature
is the incident of the damsel Rhoda! She came across the courtyard to
hearken and see who was knocking at the outer gate at that late hour:
"When she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for joy, but ran
in and told that Peter stood before the gate." We behold the
impulsiveness of the maid. She quite forgot the Apostle's knocking at
the gate in her eager desire to convey the news to his friends. And,
again, how true to nature their scepticism! They were gathered praying
for Peter's release, but so little did they expect an answer to their
prayers that, when the answer does come, and in the precise way that
they were asking for it and longing for it, they are astonished, and
tell the maid-servant who bore the tidings, "Thou art mad." We pray as
the primitive Church did, and that constantly; but is it not with us
as with them? We pray indeed, but we do not expect our prayers to be
answered, and therefore we do not profit by them as we might.

  [101] There is an ancient tradition that our Lord bade the
  apostles remain twelve years in Jerusalem before they dispersed to
  preach the gospel all the world over (Eusebius, _H. E._, V.,
  xviii.). Some think that the famine and persecution which now
  happened may have been the occasion of their dispersion.

Such were the circumstances of St. Peter's deliverance, which was a
critical one for the Church. It struck a blow at Herod's new policy of
persecution unto death; it may have induced him to depart from
Jerusalem and descend to Cæsarea, where he met his end, leaving the
Church at Jerusalem in peace; and the deliverance must have thrown a
certain marvellous halo round St. Peter when he appeared again at
Jerusalem, enabling him to occupy a more prominent position without
any fear for his life.

III. We have also recorded in this chapter a notable defeat of pride,
ostentation, and earthly power. The circumstances are well known.
Herod, vexed perhaps by his disappointment in the matter of Peter,
went down to Cæsarea, which his grandfather had magnificently adorned.
But he had other reasons too. He had a quarrel with the men of Tyre
and Sidon, and he would take effective measures against them. Tyre and
Sidon were great seaports and commercial towns, but their country did
not produce food sufficient for the maintenance of its inhabitants,
just as England, the emporium of the world's commerce, is obliged to
depend for its food supplies upon other and distant lands.[102] The
men of Tyre and Sidon were not, however, unacquainted with the ways of
Eastern courts. They bribed the king's chamberlain, and Herod was
appeased. There was another motive which led Herod to Cæsarea. It was
connected with his Roman experience and with his courtier-life. The
Emperor Claudius Cæsar was his friend and patron. To him Herod owed
his restoration to the rich dominions of his grandfather. That emperor
had gone in the previous year, A.D. 43, to conquer Britain. He spent
six months in our northern regions in Gaul and Britain, and then, when
smitten by the cold blasts of midwinter, he fled to the south again,
as so many of our own people do now. He arrived in Rome in the
January of the year 44, and immediately ordered public games to be
celebrated in honour of his safe return, assuming as a special name
the title Britannicus. These public shows were imitated everywhere
throughout the empire as soon as the news of the Roman celebrations
arrived. The tidings would take two or three months to arrive at
Palestine, and the Passover may have passed before Herod heard of his
patron's doings. Jewish scruples would not allow him to celebrate
games after the Roman fashion at Jerusalem, and for this purpose
therefore he descended to the Romanised city of Cæsarea, where all the
appliances necessary for that purpose were kept in readiness. There is
thus a link which binds together the history of our own nation and
this interesting incident in early Christian history. The games were
duly celebrated, but they were destined to be Herod's last act. On an
appointed day he sat in the theatre of Cæsarea to receive the
ambassadors from Tyre and Sidon. He presented himself early in the
morning to the sight of the multitude clad in a robe of silver which
flashed in the light reflecting back the rays of the early sun and
dazzling the mixed multitude--supple, crafty Syrians, paganised
Samaritans, self-seeking and worldly-wise Phœnicians. He made a
speech in response to the address of the envoys, and then the
flattering shout arose, "The voice of a god, and not of a man."
Whereupon the messenger of God smote Herod with that terrible form of
disease which accompanies unbounded self-indulgence and luxury, and
the proud tyrant learned what a plaything of time, what a mere
creature of a day is a king as much as a beggar, as shown by the
narrative preserved by Josephus of this event. He tells us that, when
seized by the mortal disease, Herod looked upon his friends, and said,
"I, whom you call a god, am commanded presently to depart this life;
while Providence thus reproves the lying words you just now said to
me; and I, who was by you called immortal, am immediately to be
hurried away by death."[103] What a striking picture of life's
changes and chances, and of the poetic retributions we at times behold
in the course of God's Providence! One short chapter of the Acts shows
us Herod triumphant side by side with Herod laid low, Herod smiting
apostles with the sword side by side with Herod himself smitten to
death by the Divine sword. A month's time may have covered all the
incidents narrated in this chapter. But, short as the period was, it
must have been rich in support and consolation to the apostles Saul
and Barnabas, who were doubtless deeply interested spectators of the
rapidly shifting scene, telling them clearly of the heavenly watch
exercised over the Church. They had come up from Antioch, bringing
alms to render aid to their afflicted brethren in Christ. The famine,
as we have just now seen from the anxiety of the men of Tyre and Sidon
to be on friendly terms with Herod, was rapidly making itself felt
throughout Palestine and the adjacent lands, and so the deputies of
the Antiochene Church hurried up to Jerusalem with the much-needed
gifts.[104] It may indeed be said, how could St. Paul hope to escape
at such a time? Would it not have been madness for him to risk his
safety in a city where he had once been so well known? But, then, we
must remember that it was at the Passover season Saul and Barnabas
went from Antioch to Jerusalem. Vast crowds then entered the Holy
City, and a solitary Jew or two from Antioch might easily escape
notice among the myriads which then assembled from all quarters. St.
Paul enjoyed too a wondrous measure of the Spirit's guidance, and that
Spirit told him that he had yet much work to do for God. The Apostle
had wondrous prudence joined with wondrous courage, and we may be sure
that he took wisest precautions to escape the sword of Herod which
would have so eagerly drunk his blood. He remained in Jerusalem all
the time of the Passover. His clear vision of the spiritual world must
then have been most precious and most sustaining. All the apostles
were doubtless scattered; James was dead, and Peter doomed to death.
The temporal troubles, famine and poverty, which called Saul and
Barnabas to Jerusalem, brought with them corresponding spiritual
blessings, as we still so often find, and the brave words of the
chosen vessel, the Vas Electionis, aided by the sweet gifts of the Son
of Consolation, may have been very precious and very helpful to those
deepest souls in the Jerusalem Church who gathered themselves for
continuous prayer in the house of Mary the mother of John, teaching
them the true character, the profound views, the genuine religion of
one whose earlier life had been so very different and whose later
views may have been somewhat suspected. Saul and Barnabas arrived in
Jerusalem at a terrible crisis, they saw the crisis safely passed, and
then they returned to an atmosphere freer and broader than that of
Jerusalem, and there in the exercise of a devoted ministry awaited the
further manifestation of the Divine purposes.

  [102] It is noteworthy, indeed, that it was with Tyre and Sidon in
  the days of Herod as it was with them in the earlier days of King
  Solomon and of the prophets. In 1 Kings v. 10, 11 we see that
  Hiram, king of Tyre, depended on Solomon for food: "So Hiram gave
  Solomon timber of cedar and timber of fir according to all his
  desire. And Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand measures of wheat
  for food to his household, and twenty measures of pure oil: thus
  gave Solomon to Hiram year by year"; with which may be compared
  Ezekiel xxvii. 17.

  [103] The story of the death of Herod Agrippa as told by Josephus,
  _Antiqq._, Book XIX., ch. viii., is in striking unison with that
  given in the Acts. "Now when Agrippa had reigned three years over
  all Judea, he came to the city Cæsarea, formerly called Strato's
  Tower; and there he exhibited shows in honour of Cæsar, upon his
  being informed that there was a certain festival celebrated on
  account of his safety. At which festival a great multitude was
  gotten together of the principal persons, and such as were of
  dignity through his province. On the second day of which shows he
  put on a garment made wholly of silver, and of a contexture truly
  wonderful, and came into the theatre early in the morning; at
  which time the silver of his garment, being illuminated by the
  fresh reflexion of the sun's rays upon it, shone out after a
  surprising manner, and was so resplendent as to spread a terror
  over those that looked intently upon him; and presently his
  flatterers cried out, one from one place, and another from another
  (though not for his good), that he was a god; and they added, 'Be
  thou merciful to us; for though we have hitherto reverenced thee
  only as a man, yet shall we henceforth own thee as superior to
  mortal nature.' Upon this the king did neither rebuke them, nor
  reject their impious flattery. But as he presently afterwards
  looked up he saw an owl sitting on a certain rope over his head,
  and immediately understood that this bird was the messenger of ill
  tidings, as it had once been the messenger of good tidings to him,
  and fell into the deepest sorrow. A severe pain also arose in his
  stomach, and began in a most violent manner. He therefore looked
  upon his friends, and said, 'I, whom you call a god, am commanded
  presently to depart this life; while Providence thus reproves the
  lying words you just now said to me; and I, who was by you called
  immortal, am immediately to be hurried away by death. But I am
  bound to accept of what Providence allots, as it pleases God; for
  we have by no means lived ill, but in a splendid and happy
  manner.' When he said this his pain became violent, and he was
  carried into the palace." The reference to the owl relates to a
  story about Agrippa's earlier life told by Josephus in his
  _Antiqq._, Book XVIII., ch. vi. The Emperor Tiberius had bound
  Agrippa, and placed him in his purple garments opposite his
  palace, with a number of other prisoners, among whom was a German.
  An owl perched on a tree near Agrippa, whereupon the German
  predicted that he would be freed from his bonds, and be raised to
  highest station; but that when he saw the owl again his death
  would be only five days distant.

  [104] The Jews themselves received at the same time the support of
  their foreign proselytes. Helena, Queen of Adiabene, sent liberal
  gifts to Jerusalem to support the famine-stricken multitudes of
  that city, as Josephus tells in his _Antiquities_, XX., ii., 5.
  Cf. Lewin's _Life of St. Paul_, vol. i., p. 108, where the reader
  will find engravings of her mausoleum as it is still to be seen at



     "As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said,
     Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have
     called them. Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their
     hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by
     the Holy Ghost, went down to Seleucia; and from thence they
     sailed to Cyprus.... But they, passing through from Perga, came
     to Antioch of Pisidia; and they went into the synagogue on the
     sabbath day, and sat down."--ACTS xiii. 2-4, 14.

     "And it came to pass in Iconium, that they entered together into
     the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude
     both of Jews and of Greeks believed.... They sailed to Antioch,
     from whence they had been committed to the grace of God for the
     work which they had fulfilled."--ACTS xiv. 1, 26.

We have now arrived at what we might call the watershed of the Acts of
the Apostles. Hitherto we have had very various scenes, characters,
personages to consider. Henceforth St. Paul, his labours, his
disputes, his speeches, occupy the entire field, and every other name
that is introduced into the narrative plays a very subordinate part.
This is only natural. St. Luke knew of the earlier history by
information gained from various persons, but he knew of the later
history, and specially of St. Paul's journeys, by personal experience.
He could say that he had formed a portion and played no small part in
the work of which he was telling, and therefore St. Paul's activity
naturally supplies the chief subject of his narrative. St. Luke in
this respect was exactly like ourselves. What we take an active part
in, where our own powers are specially called into operation, there
our interest is specially aroused. St. Luke personally knew of St.
Paul's missionary journeys and labours, and therefore when telling
Theophilus of the history of the Church down to the year 60 or
thereabouts, he deals with that part of it which he specially knows.
This limitation of St. Luke's vision limits also our range of
exposition. The earlier portion of the Acts is much richer from an
expositor's point of view, comprises more typical narratives, scenes,
events than the latter portion, though this latter portion may be
richer in points of contact, historical and geographical, with the
world of life and action.

It is with an expositor or preacher exactly the opposite as with the
Church historian or biographer of St. Paul. A writer gifted with the
exuberant imagination, the minute knowledge of a Rénan or a Farrar
naturally finds in the details of travel with which the latter portion
of the Acts is crowded matter for abundant discussion. He can pour
forth the treasures of information which modern archæological research
has furnished shedding light upon the movements of the Apostle. But
with the preacher or expositor it is otherwise. There are numerous
incidents which lend themselves to his purpose in the journeys
recorded in this latter portion of the book; but while a preacher
might find endless subjects for spiritual exposition in the conversion
of St. Paul or the martyrdom of St. Stephen, he finds himself confined
to historical and geographical discussions in large portions of the
story dealing with St. Paul's journeys. We shall, however, strive to
unite both functions, and while endeavouring to treat the history from
an expositor's point of view, we shall not overlook details of another
type which will impart colour and interest to the exposition.

I. The thirteenth chapter of the Acts records the opening of St.
Paul's official missionary labours, and its earliest verses tell us of
the formal separation or consecration for that work which St. Paul
received. Now the question may here be raised, Why did St. Paul
receive such a solemn ordination as that we here read of? Had he not
been called by Christ immediately? Had he not been designated to the
work in Gentile lands by the voice of the same Jesus Christ speaking
to Ananias at Damascus and afterwards to Paul himself in the Temple at
Jerusalem? What was the necessity for such a solemn external
imposition of hands as that here recorded? John Calvin, in his
commentary on this passage, offers a very good suggestion, and shows
that he was able to throw himself back into the feelings and ideas of
the times far better than many a modern writer. Calvin thinks that
this revelation of the Holy Ghost and this ordination by the hands of
the Antiochene prophets were absolutely necessary to complete the work
begun by St. Peter at Cæsarea, and for this reason. The prejudices of
the Jewish Christians against their Gentile brethren were so strong,
that they would regard the vision at Joppa as applying, not as a
general rule, but as a mere personal matter, authorising the reception
of Cornelius and his party alone. They would not see nor understand
that it authorised the active evangelisation of the Gentile world and
the prosecution of aggressive Christian efforts among the heathen. The
Holy Ghost therefore, as the abiding and guiding power in the Church,
and expressing His will through the agency of the prophets then
present, said, "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I
have called them"; and that work to which they were expressly sent
forth by the Holy Ghost was the work of aggressive effort beginning
with the Jews--but not terminating with them--and including the
Gentiles. This seems to me thoroughly true, and shows how Calvin
realised the intellectual weakness, the spiritual hardness of heart
and slowness of judgment which prevailed among the apostles. The
battle of Christian freedom and of catholic truth was not won in a
moment. Old prejudices did not depart in an hour. New principles were
not assimilated and applied in a few days. Those who hold nobler views
and higher principles than the crowd must not be surprised or dismayed
if they find that year after year they have to fight the same battles
and to proclaim the same fundamental truths and to maintain what may
seem at times even a losing conflict with the forces of unreasoning
prejudices. If this was the case in the primitive Church with all its
unity and love and spiritual gifts, we may well expect the same state
of affairs in the Church of our time.[105]

  [105] One great lesson which the true expositor will derive from
  this typical history is this, the long, doubtful, painful strife
  which the battle of truth and justice ever involves. The struggle
  for Gentile freedom waged by St. Paul is typical of the battle for
  freedom of conscience, for freedom of knowledge, for human rights
  against slavery, and of every other battle against tyranny and
  wrong which the world has ever seen. The combat has ever been long
  and wearisome, and the chiefest of God's champions have always
  been compelled to suffer much for their support of the truth,
  which must, however, triumph in the long run.

An illustration borrowed from Church history will explain this.
Nothing can well be more completely contrary to the spirit of
Christianity than religious persecution. Nothing can be imagined more
completely consonant with the spirit of the Christian religion than
freedom of conscience. Yet how hard has been the struggle for it! The
early Christians suffered in defence of religious freedom, but they
had no sooner gained the battle than they adopted the very principle
against which they had fought. They became religiously intolerant,
because religious intolerance was part and parcel of the Roman state
under which they had been reared. The Reformation again was a battle
for religious freedom. If it were not, the Reformers who suffered in
it would have no more claim to our compassion and sympathy on account
of the deaths they suffered than soldiers who die in battle. A soldier
merely suffers what he is prepared to inflict, and so it was with the
martyrs of the Reformation unless theirs was a struggle for religious
freedom. Yet no sooner had the battle of the Reformation been won than
all the Reformed Churches adopted the very principle which had striven
to crush themselves. It is terribly difficult to emancipate ourselves
from the influence and ideas of bygone ages, and so it was with the
Jewish Christians. They could not bring themselves to adopt missionary
work among the Gentiles. They believed indeed intellectually that God
had granted unto the Gentiles repentance unto life, but that belief
was not accompanied with any of the enthusiasm which alone lends life
and power to mental conceptions. The Holy Ghost therefore, as the
Paraclete, the loving Comforter, Exhorter, and Guide of the Church,
interposes afresh, and by a new revelation ordains apostles whose
great work shall consist in preaching to the Gentile world.

This seems to me one great reason for the prominent place this
incident at Antioch holds. The work of Gentile conversion proceeded
from Antioch, which may therefore well be regarded as the mother
Church of Gentile Christendom; and the apostles of the Gentiles were
there solemnly set apart and constituted. Barnabas and Saul were not
previously called apostles. Henceforth this title is expressly applied
to them,[106] and independent apostolic action is taken by them. But
there seems to me another reason why Barnabas and Saul were thus
solemnly set apart, notwithstanding all their previous gifts and
callings and history. The Holy Ghost wished to lay down at the very
beginning of the Gentile Church the law of orderly development, the
rule of external ordination, and the necessity for its perpetual
observance. And therefore He issued His mandate for their visible
separation to the work of evangelisation. All the circumstances too
are typical. The Church was engaged in a season of special devotion
when the Holy Ghost spoke. A special blessing was vouchsafed, as
before at Pentecost, when the people of God were specially waiting
upon Him. The Church at Antioch as represented by its leading teachers
were fasting and praying and ministering to the Lord when the Divine
mandate was issued, and then they fasted and prayed again. The
ordination of the first apostles to the Gentiles was accompanied by
special prayer and by fasting, and the Church took good care
afterwards to follow closely this primitive example. The institution
of the four Ember seasons as times for solemn ordinations is derived
from this incident. The Ember seasons are periods for solemn prayer
and fasting, not only for those about to be ordained, but also for the
whole Church, because she recognises that the whole body of Christ's
people are interested most deeply and vitally in the nature and
character of the Christian ministry. If the members of that ministry
are devoted, earnest, inspired with Divine love, then indeed the work
of Christ flourishes in the Church, while if the ministry of God be
careless and unspiritual, the people of God suffer terrible injury.
And we observe, further, that not only the Church subsequent to the
apostolic age followed this example at Antioch, but St. Paul himself
followed it and prescribed it to his disciples. He ordained elders in
every Church, and that from the beginning. He acted thus on his very
first missionary journey, ordaining by the imposition of hands
accompanied with prayer and fasting, as we learn from the fourteenth
chapter and twenty-third verse. He reminded Timothy of the gift
imparted to that youthful evangelist by the imposition of St. Paul's
own hands, as well as by those of the presbytery; and yet he does not
hesitate to designate the elders of Ephesus and Miletus who were thus
ordained by St. Paul as bishops set over God's flock by the Holy Ghost
Himself. St. Paul and the Apostolic Church, in fact, looked behind
this visible scene. They realised vividly the truth of Christ's
promise about the presence of the Holy Ghost in the Church. They took
no miserably low and Erastian views of the sacred ministry, as if it
were an office of mere human order and appointment. They viewed it as
a supernatural and Divine office, which no mere human power, no matter
how exalted, could confer. They realised the human instruments indeed
in their true position as nothing but instruments, powerless in
themselves, and mighty only through God, and therefore St. Paul
regarded his own ordination of the elders whom he appointed at Derbe,
Iconium, Lystra, or Ephesus as a separation by the Holy Ghost to their
Divine offices. The Church was, in fact, then instinct with life and
spiritual vigour, because it thankfully recognised the present power,
the living force and vigour of the third person of the Holy Trinity.

  [106] See, for instance, ch. xiv. 4: "Part held with the Jews and
  part with the apostles"; and again, verse 14: "But when the
  apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it." It must be remembered
  that the term apostle was one used very freely among the Jews to
  signify the official delegates of the high priest, the Sanhedrin,
  or even the smallest synagogue. It has, however, gained a sanctity
  and special application in the Christian Church which causes a
  certain amount of mental confusion. At the same time, we must
  remember that the title apostle was continued in the primitive
  Church after the age of the Twelve. It was applied to their
  successors, as we learn from the _Didache_, xi.; _Hermas_, Sim.
  ix.; 15, 16, 25. Cf. Origen on John iv., and Euseb., _H. E._, i.

II. The apostles having been thus commissioned lost no time. They at
once departed upon their great work. And now let us briefly indicate
the scope of the first great missionary tour undertaken by St. Paul,
and sketch its outline, filling in the details afterwards. According
to early tradition the headquarters of the Antiochene Church were in
Singon Street, in the southern quarter of Antioch.[107] After earnest
and prolonged religious services they left their Christian brethren.
St. Paul's own practice recorded at Ephesus, Miletus, and at Tyre
shows us that prayer marked such separation from the Christian
brethren, and we know that the same practice was perpetuated in the
early Church; Tertullian, for instance, telling us that a brother
should not leave a Christian house until he had been commended to
God's keeping. They then crossed the bridge, and proceeded along the
northern bank of the Orontes to Seleucia, the port of Antioch, where
the ruins still testify to the vastness of the architectural
conceptions cherished by the Syrian kings. From Seleucia the apostles
sailed to the island of Cyprus, whose peaks they could see eighty
miles distant shining bright and clear through the pellucid air.
Various circumstances would lead them thither. Barnabas was of Cyprus,
and he doubtless had many friends there. Cyprus had then an immense
Jewish population, as we have already pointed out; and though the
apostles were specially designated for work among the Gentiles, they
ever made the Jews the starting-point whence to influence the outside
world, always used them as the lever whereby to move the stolid mass
of paganism. The apostles showed a wholesome example to all
missionaries and to all teachers by this method of action. They
addressed the Jews first because they had most in common with them.
And St. Paul deliberately and of set purpose worked on this principle,
whether with Jews or Gentiles. He sought out the ideas or the ground
common to himself and his hearers, and then, having found the points
on which they agreed, he worked out from them. It is the true method
of controversy. I have seen the opposite course adopted, and with very
disastrous effects. I have seen a method of controversial argument
pursued, consisting simply in attacks upon errors without any attempt
to follow the apostolic example and discover the truths which both
parties held in common, and the result has been the very natural one,
that ill-will and bad feeling have been aroused without effecting any
changes in conviction. We can easily understand the reason of this, if
we consider how the matter would stand with ourselves. If a man comes
up to us, and without any attempt to discover our ideas or enter into
sympathetic relations with us, makes a very aggressive assault upon
all our particular notions and practices, our backs are at once put
up, we are thrown into a defensive mood, our pride is stirred, we
resent the tone, the air of the aggressor, and unconsciously determine
not to be convinced by him. Controversial preaching of that class,
hard, unloving, censorious, never does any permanent good, but rather
strengthens and confirms the person against whose belief it is
directed. Nothing of this kind will ever be found in the wise,
courteous teaching of the apostle Paul, whose few recorded speeches to
Jews and Gentiles may be commended to the careful study of all
teachers at home or abroad as models of mission preaching, being at
once prudent and loving, faithful and courageous.

  [107] An elaborate plan of ancient Antioch, accompanied with a
  description of its various parts and references to the authorities
  for the same, will be found in Lewin's _St. Paul_, vol. i., p. 92.

From Seleucia the apostles itinerated through the whole island unto
Paphos, celebrated in classical antiquity as the favourite seat of the
goddess Venus, where they came for the first time into contact with a
great Roman official, Sergius Paulus, the proconsul of the island.
From Paphos they sailed across to the mainland of Asia Minor, landed
at Perga, where John Mark abandoned the work to which he had put his
hand. They do not seem to have stayed for long at Perga. They
doubtless declared their message at the local synagogue to the Jews
and proselytes who assembled there, for we are not to conclude,
because a synagogue is not expressly mentioned as belonging to any
special town, that therefore it did not exist. Modern discoveries have
shown that Jewish synagogues were found in every considerable town or
city of Asia Minor, preparing the way by their pure morality and
monotheistic teaching for the fuller and richer truths of
Christianity.[108] But St. Paul had fixed his eagle gaze upon Antioch
of Pisidia, a town which had been made by Augustus Cæsar the great
centre of this part of Asia Minor, whence military roads radiated in
every direction, lending thereby the assistance of imperial
organisation to the progress of the gospel. Its situation was, in
fact, the circumstance which determined the original foundation of
Antioch by the Syrian princes.[109]

  [108] Hypæpa, for instance, was a celebrated sanctuary of Diana,
  between Sardis and Ephesus. Jewish inscriptions have been found
  there proving that a Jewish synagogue and community existed even
  in that pagan stronghold: see _Revue Archéologique_ for 1885, vol.
  ii., p. 111.

  [109] There is a series of plates in Lewin's _Life of St. Paul_,
  vol. i., pp. 130-36, depicting the site and ruins of Antioch, and
  showing the roads which connected it with all the leading towns of
  the neighbourhood, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe. Professor Ramsay, in
  his _Historical Geography of Asia Minor_, bestows a good deal of
  attention on Antioch of Pisidia and its position: see pp. 47, 57,
  85, 391, 453.

Facility of access, commercial convenience were points at which they
chiefly aimed in selecting the sites of the cities they built, and the
wisdom of their choice in the case of Antioch in Pisidia was confirmed
when Augustus and Tiberius, some few years previous to St. Paul's
visit, made Antioch the centre from which diverged the whole system of
military roads throughout this portion of Asia Minor. It was a very
large city, and its ruins and aqueducts testify to this day concerning
the important position it held as the great centre of all the Roman
colonies and fortresses which Augustus planted in the year B.C. 6
along the skirts of the Taurus Range to restrain the incursions of the
rude mountaineers of Isauria and Pisidia. When persecution compelled
the apostles to retire from Antioch they took their way therefore to
Iconium, which was some sixty miles south-east of Antioch along one of
these military roads of which we have spoken, constructed for the
purpose of putting down the brigands which then, as in modern times,
constituted one of the great plagues of Asia Minor.[110] But why did
the apostles retire to Iconium? Surely one might say, if the Jews had
influence enough at Antioch to stir up the chief men of the city
against the missionaries, they would have had influence enough to
secure a warrant for their arrest in a neighbouring city. At first
sight it seems somewhat difficult to account for the line of travel or
flight adopted by the apostles. But a reference to ancient geography
throws some light upon the problem. Strabo, a geographer of St. Paul's
own day, tells us that Iconium was an independent principality or
tetrarchy, surrounded indeed on all sides by Roman territory, but
still enjoying a certain amount of independence. The apostles fled to
Iconium when persecution waxed hot because they had a good road
thither, and also because at Iconium they were secure from any legal
molestation being under a new jurisdiction.[111]

  [110] St. Paul, writing in 2nd Corinthians, speaks of himself as
  at times in perils of robbers. This danger may well have happened
  to him in the central districts of Asia Minor. There is an
  interesting story of St. John and the bandits in Eusebius, _H.
  E._, iii., 23. The incidents there told took place in Asia Minor.

  [111] Iconium was in St. Paul's day the centre of an independent
  tetrarchy ruled by native princes. See Pliny's _Nat. Hist._, v.
  27. The site of Iconium has never been uncertain. It was made the
  capital of their dominions by the Sultans of the Seldjuk Turks,
  and continued to occupy that position till the conquest of
  Constantinople. It is still called Konia, a modification of its
  original name, and still continues to attract a large population
  on account of the beauty and convenience of its situation, which
  gives it the title of the Damascus of Asia Minor. According to
  tradition Sosipatros, one of the seventy disciples, was the bishop
  of Iconium, and was succeeded by Terentius, another member of the
  same sacred company; _Acta Sanctorum_, June 20th, p. 67; Ramsay,
  _Historical Geography of Asia Minor_, p. 332. The latest account
  of Iconium as it is at present will be found in Sterrett's
  _Epigraphical Journey in Asia Minor_, printed among the Papers of
  the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Boston, 1884.
  vol. ii., p. 188-225.

After a time, however, the Jews from Antioch made their way to Iconium
and began the same process which had proved so successful at Antioch.
They first excited the members of the Jewish synagogue against the
apostles, and through them influenced the towns-people at large, so
that, though successful in winning converts, St. Paul and his
companion were in danger of being stoned by a joint mob of Jews and
Gentiles. They had therefore to fly a second time, and when doing so
they acted on the same principle as before. They again removed
themselves out of the local jurisdiction of their enemies, and passed
to Derbe and Lystra, cities of Lycaonia, a Roman province which had
just been formed by the Emperor Claudius.[112]

  [112] The apostles seem to have acted as in former times persons
  harassed by legal processes could do in this country. A writ
  directed to a sheriff only ran within his own county. A man could
  not be arrested under it if he passed one step beyond the county
  bounds, till countersigned by the sheriff of the county into which
  the delinquent had passed. Under the Roman empire the local
  liberties and jurisdictions were simply infinite, a fact which of
  course lent much assistance to persons persecuted as the apostles
  were. Derbe, for instance, was a native city of Lycaonia, and
  belonged to the Koinon or local assembly of that province. Lystra
  was situated indeed in Lycaonia, but being a Roman colony had
  therefore exceptional privileges, and scorned to belong to the
  local Assembly of native cities. See Ramsay, _Hist. Geog._, pp.
  332, 375, 376.

Then after a time, when the disturbances which the Jews persistently
raised wherever they came had subsided, the apostles returned back
over the same ground, no longer indeed publicly preaching, but
organising quietly and secretly the Churches which they had founded
in the different towns through which they had passed, till they
arrived back at Perga, where perhaps, finding no ship sailing to
Antioch, they travelled to the port of Attalia, where they succeeded
in finding a passage to that city of Antioch whence they had been sent
forth.[113] This brief sketch will give a general view of the first
missionary tour made in the realms of paganism, and will show that it
dealt with little more than two provinces of Asia Minor, Pisidia and
Lycaonia, and was followed by what men would count but scanty results,
the foundation and organisation of a few scattered Christian
communities in some of the leading towns of these districts.

  [113] It is well perhaps to note that the ι in this name
  is long, representing the diphthong ει, the Greek name of
  the town being Ἀττάλεια.

III. Let us now more particularly notice some of the details recorded
concerning this journey. The apostles began their work at Cyprus,
where they proclaimed the gospel in the Jewish synagogues. They were
attracted as we have said to this island, first, because it was the
native land of Barnabas, and then because its population was in large
degree Jewish, owing to the possession of the famous copper mines of
the island by Herod the Great.[114] Synagogues were scattered all over
the island and proselytes appertained to each synagogue, and thus a
basis of operations was ready whence the gospel message might operate.
It was just the same even at Paphos, where St. Paul came in contact
with the proconsul Sergius Paulus. The Jewish element here again
appears, though in more active opposition than seems to have been
elsewhere offered. Sergius Paulus was a Roman citizen like Cornelius
of Cæsarea. He had become dissatisfied with the belief of his
forefathers. He had now come into contact with the mystic East, and
had yielded himself to the guidance of a man who professed the Jewish
religion, which seems to have charmed by its pure morality and simple
monotheism many of the noblest minds of that age. But, like all
outsiders, Sergius Paulus did not make accurate and just distinctions
between man and man. He yielded himself to the guidance of a man who
traded on the name of a Jew, but who really practised those rites of
weird sorcery which real Judaism utterly repudiated and denounced.
This alone accounts for the stern language of St. Paul: "O full of all
guile and all villany, thou son of the devil, thou enemy of all
righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the
Lord?" St. Paul never addressed a lawful opponent in this manner. He
did not believe in the efficacy of strong language in itself, nor did
he abuse those who withstood him in honest argument. But he did not
hesitate, on the other hand, to brand a deceiver as he deserved, or to
denounce in scathing terms those who were guilty of conscious fraud.
St. Paul might well be taken as a model controversialist in this
respect. He knew how to distinguish between the genuine opponent who
might be mistaken but was certainly conscientious, and the fraudulent
hypocrite devoid of all convictions save the conviction of the value
of money. With the former St. Paul was full of courtesy, patience,
consideration, because he had in himself experience of the power of
blind unthinking prejudice. For the latter class St. Paul had no
consideration, and with them he wasted no time. His honest soul took
their measure at once. He denounced them as he did Elymas on this
occasion, and then passed on to deal with nobler and purer souls,
where honest and good hearts offered more promising soil for the
reception of the Word of the Kingdom. Controversy of every kind is
very trying to tongue and temper, but religious controversy such as
that in which St. Paul spent his life is specially trying to the
character. The subject is so important that it seems to excuse an over
zeal and earnestness which terminates in bad temper and unwise
language. And yet we sometimes cannot shrink from controversy, because
conscience demands it on our part. When that happens to be the case,
it will be well for us to exercise the most rigorous control over our
feelings and our words; from time to time to realise by a momentary
effort of introspection Christ hanging upon the cross and bearing for
us the unworthy and unjust reproaches of mankind; for thus and thus
only will pride be kept down and hot temper restrained and that great
advantage for the truth secured which self-control always bestows upon
its possessor.

  [114] See vol. i., p. 216.

There is an interesting illustration of the historic accuracy of St.
Luke connected with the apostolic visit to Paphos and to Sergius
Paulus the proconsul. Thrice over in the narrative of St. Luke,
Sergius Paulus is called proconsul--first in the seventh verse of the
thirteenth chapter, where Elymas the sorcerer is described thus, "who
was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of understanding," while
again the same title of proconsul is applied to Sergius in the eighth
and twelfth verses. This has been the cause of much misunderstanding
and of no small reproach hurled against the sacred writer. Let us
inquire into its justice and the facts of the case. The Roman
provinces were divided into two classes, senatorial and imperial. The
senatorial provinces were ruled by proconsuls appointed by the
Senate; the imperial by proprætors appointed by the emperors. This
arrangement was made by Augustus Cæsar, and is reported to us by
Strabo who lived and wrote during St. Paul's early manhood. But now a
difficulty arises. Strabo gives us the list of the provinces
senatorial and imperial alike, and expressly classes Cyprus amongst
the imperial provinces, which were ruled by proprætors and not by
proconsuls. In the opinion of the older critics, St. Luke was thus
plainly convicted of a mistake and of a flagrant contradiction of that
great authority the geographer Strabo. But it is never safe to jump to
conclusions of that kind with respect to a contemporaneous writer who
has proved himself accurate on other occasions. It is far better and
far safer to say, Let us wait awhile, and see what further
investigations will reveal. And so it has proved in this special case.
Strabo tells us of the original arrangement made about thirty years
B.C. between the Emperor Augustus and the Senate, when Cyprus was most
certainly numbered amongst the imperial provinces; but he omits to
tell us what another historian of the same century, Dion Cassius, does
relate, that the same Emperor modified this arrangement five years
later, handing Cyprus and Gallia Narbonensis over to the rule of the
Senate, so that from that date and henceforth throughout the first
century of our era Cyprus was governed by proconsuls alone, as St.
Luke most accurately, though only incidentally, reports.[115] Here,
too, the results of modern investigation among inscriptions and coins
have come in to supplement and support the testimony of historians.
The Greek inscriptions discovered prior to and during the earlier half
of this century have been collected together in Boeckh's _Corpus of
Greek Inscriptions_, which is, indeed, a vast repertory of original
documents concerning the life, Pagan and Christian, of the Greek
world. In the inscriptions numbered 2631 and 2632 in that valuable
work we have the names of Q. Julius Cordus and L. Annius Bassus
expressly mentioned as proconsuls of Cyprus in A.D. 51, 52; while on
coins of Cyprus have been found the names of Cominius Proclus and
Quadratus, who held the same office. But the very latest
investigations have borne striking testimony to the same fact. The
name of the very proconsul whom St. Paul addressed appears on an
inscription discovered in our own time. Cyprus has been thoroughly
investigated since it passed into British hands, specially by General
Cesnola, who has written a work on the subject which is well worth
reading by those who take an interest in Scripture lands and the
scenes where the apostles laboured. In that work, p. 425, Cesnola
tells us of a mutilated inscription which he recovered dealing with
some subject of no special importance, but bearing the following
precious notice giving its date as "Under Paulus the Proconsul";
proving to us by contemporary evidence that Sergius Paulus ruled the
island, and ruled it with the special title of proconsul. Surely an
instance like this--and we shall have several such to notice--is quite
enough to make fair minds suspend their judgment when charges of
inaccuracy are alleged against St. Luke dependent upon our own
ignorance alone of the entire facts of the case. A wider knowledge, a
larger investigation we may well be sure will suffice to clear the
difficulty and vindicate the fair fame of the sacred historian.

  [115] The words of Dion are: "Eo tempore Cyprum ac Galliam
  Narbonensem, quia nihil armis suis indigerent, populo reddidit;
  atque ita proconsules etiam in istas provincias mitti
  cœperunt." See the works of Dion, edited by H. Valerius, vol.
  i., p. 733 (Hamburg, 1750). Valerius, in his note on this passage,
  notes the inaccuracies into which the older critics--Grotius,
  Hammond, Baronius--had fallen about Acts xiii. 7.

From Cyprus the apostles passed over to the continent, and opened
their missionary work at Antioch of Pisidia, where the first recorded
address of St. Paul was delivered. This sermon, delivered in the
Pisidian synagogue, is deserving of our special notice because it is
the only missionary address delivered by St. Paul to the Jews of the
Dispersion which has been handed down to us, unless we include the few
words delivered to the Roman Jews reported in the twenty-eighth
chapter from the seventeenth to the twenty-eighth verses. Let us
briefly analyse it, premising that it should be carefully compared
with the addresses of St. Peter to the Jews upon the Day of Pentecost
and with the speech delivered by St. Stephen before the Sanhedrin,
when all three will be found to run upon the same lines. The apostles
having reached Antioch waited until the Sabbath came round, and then
sought the local meeting-place of the Jews. The apostles felt indeed
that they were entrusted with a great mission important for the human
race, but yet they knew right well that feverish impetuosity or
restless activity was not the true way to advance the cause they had
in hand. They did not believe in wild irregular actions which only
stir up opposition. They were calm and dignified in their methods,
because they were consciously guided by the Divine Spirit of Him
concerning whom it was said in the days of His flesh, "He did not
strive nor cry, neither did any man hear His voice in the streets." On
the Sabbath day they entered the synagogue, and took their place on a
bench set apart for the reception of those who were regarded as
teachers. At the conclusion of the public worship and the reading of
the lessons out of the law and the prophets, such as still are read in
the synagogue worship, the Rulers of the Synagogue sent to them the
minister or apostle of the synagogue intimating their permission to
address the assembled congregation, whereupon St. Paul arose and
delivered an address, of which the following is an analysis. St. Paul
opened his sermon by a reference to the lessons which had just been
read in the service, which--as all the writers of the Apostle's life,
Lewin, Conybeare and Howson, and Archdeacon Farrar, agree--were taken
from the first chapter of Deuteronomy and the first of Isaiah. He
points out, as St. Stephen had done, the providential dealings of God
with their forefathers from the time of the original choice of Abraham
down to David. The Jews had been divinely guided throughout their
history down to David's days, and that Divine guidance had not then
ceased, but continued down to the present, as the Apostle then
proceeds to show. In David's seed there had been left a hope for
Israel which every true Jew still cherished. He then announces that
the long-cherished hope had now at last been fulfilled. This fact
depended not on his testimony alone. The Messiah whom they had long
expected had been preceded by a prophet whose reputation had spread
into these distant regions, and had gained disciples, as we shall
afterwards find, at Ephesus. John the Baptist had announced the
Messiah's appearance, and proclaimed his own inferiority to Him. But
then an objection occurs to the Apostle which might naturally be
raised. If John's reputation and doctrine had penetrated to Antioch,
the story of the crucifixion of Jesus may also have been reported
there, and the local Jews may therefore have concluded that such an
ignominious death was conclusive against the claims of Jesus? The
Apostle then proceeds to show how that the providential rule of God
had been exercised even in that matter. The wrath of man had been
compelled to praise God, and even while the rulers at Jerusalem were
striving to crush Jesus Christ they were in reality fulfilling the
voices of the prophets which went beforehand and proclaimed the
sufferings of the Messiah exactly as they had happened. And further
still, God had set His seal to the truth of the story by raising Jesus
Christ from the dead according to the predictions of the Old
Testament, which he expounds after the manner of the Jewish schools,
finding a hint of the Resurrection of Christ in Isaiah lv. 3: "I will
give you the holy and sure blessings of David"; and a still clearer
one in Psalm xvi. 10: "Thou wilt not give Thine Holy One to see
corruption." The Apostle, after quoting this text, which from its use
by St. Peter on the Day of Pentecost seems to have been a passage
commonly quoted in the Jewish controversy, terminates his discourse
with a proclamation of the exalted blessings which the Messiah has
brought, indicating briefly but clearly the universal character of the
gospel promises, and finishing with a warning against stupid obstinate
resistance drawn from Habakkuk i. 5, which primarily referred to the
disbelief in impending Chaldæan invasion exhibited by the Jews, but
which the Apostle applies to the Jews of Antioch and their spiritual
dangers arising from similar wilful obstinacy.

We have of course not much more than the heads of the apostolic
sermon. Five or seven minutes of a not very rapid speaker would amply
suffice to exhaust the exact words attributed to St. Paul. He must
have enlarged on the various topics. He could not have introduced
John the Baptist in the abrupt manner in which he is noticed in the
text of our New Testament. It seems quite natural enough to us that he
should be thus named, because John occupies a very high and exalted
position in our mental horizon from our earliest childhood. But who
was John the Baptist for these Jewish settlers in the Pisidian
Antioch? He was simply a prophet of whom they may have heard a vague
report, who appeared before Israel for a year or two, and then
suffered death at the hands of Herod the Tetrarch: and so it must have
been with many other topics introduced into this discourse. They must
have been much more copiously treated, elaborated, discussed, or else
the audience in the Pisidian synagogue must have loved concentrated
discourse more keenly than any other assembly that ever met together.
And yet, though the real discourse must have been much longer--and did
we only possess the sermon in its fulness many a difficulty which now
puzzles us would disappear at once--we can still see the line of the
apostolic argument and grasp its force. The Apostle argues, in fact,
that God had chosen the original fathers of the Jewish race. He had
gone on conferring ever fresh and larger blessings in the wilderness,
in Canaan, under the Judges, and then under the Kings, till the time
of David, from whose seed God had raised up the greatest gift of all
in the person of Jesus Christ, through whom blessings unknown before
and unsurpassed were offered to mankind. St. Paul contends exactly as
St. Stephen had done, that true religion has been a perpetual advance
and development; that Christianity is not something distinct from
Judaism, but is essentially one with it, being the flower of a plant
which God Himself had planted, the crown and glory of the work which
He had Himself begun. This address, as we have already noticed in the
preface to the first volume of this work, will repay careful study;
for it shows the methods adopted by the early Christian when dealing
with the Jews.[116] They did not attack any of their peculiar views or
practices, but confining themselves to what they held in common strove
to convince them that Christianity was the logical outcome of their
own principles.

  [116] Cf. vol. i., pp. xi, 300.

The results of this address were very indicative of the future. The
Jews of the synagogue seem to have been for a time impressed by St.
Paul's words. Several of them, together with a number of the
proselytes, attached themselves to him as his disciples, and were
further instructed in the faith. The proselytes especially must have
been attracted by the Apostle's words. They were, like Cornelius,
Proselytes of the Gate, who observed merely the seven precepts of Noah
and renounced idolatry, but were not circumcised or subject to the
restrictions and duties of the Jewish ritual. They must have welcomed
tidings of a religion embodying all that which they venerated in the
Jewish Law and yet devoid of its narrowness and disadvantages.

Next Sabbath the whole city was stirred with excitement, and then
Jewish jealousy burst into a flame. They saw that their national
distinctions and glory were in danger. They refused to listen or
permit any further proclamation of what must have seemed to them a
revolutionary teaching disloyal to the traditions and existence of
their religion and their nation. They used their influence therefore
with the chief men of the city, exercising it through their wives, who
were in many cases attracted by the Jewish worship, or who may have
been themselves of Jewish birth, and the result was that the apostles
were driven forth to preach in other cities of the same central region
of Asia Minor. This was the first attack made by the Jews upon St.
Paul in his mission journeys. He had already had experience of their
hostility at Damascus and at Jerusalem, but this hostility was
doubtless provoked by reason of their resentment at the apostasy to
the Nazarene sect of their chosen champion. But here at Antioch we
perceive the first symptom of that bitter hostility to St. Paul
because of his catholic principles, his proclamation of salvation as
open to all alike, Jew or Gentile, free from any burdensome or
restrictive conditions, a hostility which we shall find persistently
pursuing him, both within the Church, and still more without the
Church, at Iconium, at Lystra, at Thessalonica, at Corinth, and at
Jerusalem. It would seem indeed as if the invention of the term
"Christian" at Antioch marked a crisis in the history of the early
Church. Henceforth St. Paul and his friends became the objects of
keenest hatred, because the Jews had recognised that they taught a
form of belief absolutely inconsistent with the Jewish faith as
hitherto known; a hatred which seems, however, to have been limited to
St. Paul and his Antiochene friends, for the temporising measures and
the personal prejudices, the whole atmosphere, in fact, of the
Jerusalem Church led the unbelieving Jews to make a broad distinction
between the disciples at Jerusalem and the followers of St. Paul.

IV. So far we have dealt with St. Paul's address at Antioch as typical
of his methods in dealing with the Jews, and their treatment of the
Apostle as typical of that hostility which the Jews ever displayed to
the earliest teachers of Christian truth, as witnessed not only by
the New Testament, but also by the writings and histories of Justin
Martyr, and of Polycarp of Smyrna, and of all the early apologists.
But we are not left in this typical Church history without a specimen
of St. Paul's earlier methods when dealing with the heathen. St. Paul,
after his rejection at Antioch, escaped to Iconium, sixty miles
distant, and thence, when Jewish persecution again waxed hot, betook
himself to Lystra, some forty miles to the south. There the Apostle
found himself in a new atmosphere and amid new surroundings. Antioch
and Iconium had large Jewish populations, and were permeated with
Jewish ideas. Lystra was a thoroughly Gentile town with only a very
few Jewish inhabitants. The whole air of the place--its manners,
customs, popular legends--was thoroughly pagan. This offered St. Paul
a new field for his activity, of which he availed himself right
diligently, finishing up his work with healing a lifelong cripple, a
miracle which so impressed the mob of Lystra that they immediately
cried out in the native speech of Lycaonia, "The gods are coming down
to us in the likeness of men," calling Barnabas Jupiter, on account of
his lofty stature and more commanding appearance, and Paul Mercurius
or Hermes, because of his more insignificant size and more copious
eloquence. Here again we have, in our writer's words, an incidental
and even unconscious witness to the truth of our narrative. The cry of
the men of Lystra, these rude barbarian people of the original
inhabitants of the land, who, though they could understand Greek,
naturally fell back on their native Lycaonian language to express
their deeper feelings,--this cry, I say, refers to an ancient legend
connected with their history, of which we find a lengthened account
in the works of the poet Ovid. Jupiter attended by Mercury once
descended to visit the earth and see how man was faring. Some scoffed
at the deities, and were punished. Others received them, and were
blessed accordingly.[117] The wondrous work performed on the cripple
naturally led the men of Lystra to think that the Divine Epiphany had
been repeated. The colony of Lystra--for Lystra was a Roman
colony[118]--was devoted to the worship of Jupiter, in memory
doubtless of this celebrated visit. A temple to Jupiter stood before
and outside the gate of the city, as the temple of Diana stood outside
the gate of Ephesus, lending sanctity and protection to the
neighbouring town. The priest and the people act upon the spur of the
moment. They bring victims and garlands prepared to offer sacrifice to
the deities who, as they thought, had revisited their ancient haunts.
They were approaching the house where the apostles were
dwelling--perhaps that of Lois and Eunice and Timothy--when Paul
sprang forward and delivered a short impassioned address deprecating
the threatened adoration. Let us quote the address in order that we
may see its full force: "Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men
of like passions with you, and bring you good tidings, that ye should
turn from these vain things unto the living God, who made the heaven
and the earth and the sea, and all that in them is: who in the
generations gone by suffered all the nations to walk in their own
ways. And yet He left not Himself without witness, in that He did
good, and gave you from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, filling
your hearts with food and gladness." How very different St. Paul's
words to the pagans are from those he addressed to the Jews and
proselytes, believers in the true God and in the facts of revelation!
He proves himself a born orator, able to adapt himself to different
classes of hearers, and, grasping their special ideas and feelings, to
suit his arguments to their various conditions. St. Paul's short
address on this occasion may be compared with his speech to the men of
Athens, and the first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, and the
various apologies composed by the earliest advocates of Christianity
during the second century. Take, for instance, the Apology of
Aristides, of which we gave an account in the preface to the first
volume of this commentary on the Acts. We shall find, when we examine
it and compare it with the various passages of Scripture to which we
have just referred, that all run upon exactly the same lines. They all
appeal to the evidence of nature and of natural religion. They say not
one word about Scripture concerning which their hearers know nothing.
They are not like unwise Christian advocates among ourselves who think
they can overthrow an infidel with a text out of Scripture, begging
the question at issue, the very point to be decided being this,
whether there is such a thing at all as Scripture. St. Paul does with
the men of Lystra and the men of Athens what Aristides did when
writing for the Emperor Hadrian, and what every wise missionary will
still do with the heathen or the unbeliever whose salvation he is
seeking. The Apostle takes up the ground that is common to himself and
his hearers. He shows them the unworthiness of the conception they
have formed of the Godhead. He appeals to the testimony of God's works
and to the interior witness of conscience prophesying perpetually in
the secret tabernacle of man's heart, and thus appealing in God's
behalf to the eternal verities and evidences of nature exterior and
interior to man, he vindicates the Divine authority, glorifies the
Divine character, and restrains the capricious and ignorant folly of
the men of Lystra.

  [117] See the story of Philemon and Baucis as told in Smith's
  _Dictionary of Classical Biography and Mythology_.

  [118] The site of Lystra and the fact that it was a Roman colony
  were unknown till 1884, when Sterrett discovered an inscription
  which ascertained both facts: see Ramsay's _Historical Geography
  of Asia Minor_, p. 332, and Sterrett's _Epigraph. Journey_,
  already quoted, from "Papers of American School at Athens," vol.
  iii., p. 142 (Boston, 1888). Artemas, one of the seventy
  disciples, is said to have been bishop of Lystra: see _Acta
  Sanct._, June 20th, p. 67.

Lastly, we find in this narrative two typical suggestions for the
missionary activity of the Church in every age. The men of Lystra with
marvellous facility soon changed their opinion concerning St. Paul. M.
Rénan has well pointed out that to the pagans of those times a miracle
was no necessary proof of a Divine mission. It was just as easily a
proof to them of a diabolical or magical power. The Jews, therefore,
who followed St. Paul, had no difficulty in persuading the men of
Lystra that this assailant of their hereditary deities was a mere
charlatan, a clever trickster moved by wicked powers to lead them
astray. Their character and reputation as Jews, worshippers of one God
alone, would lend weight to this charge, and enable them the more
easily to effect their purpose of killing St. Paul, in which they had
failed at Antioch and Iconium. The fickle mob easily lent themselves
to the purposes of the Jews, and having stoned St. Paul dragged his
body outside the city walls, thinking him dead. A few faithful
disciples followed the crowd, however. Perhaps, too, the eirenarch or
local police authority with his subordinates had interfered, and the
rioters, apprehensive of punishment for their disturbance of the
peace, had retired.[119] As the disciples stood around weeping for
the loss they had sustained, the Apostle awoke from the swoon into
which he had fallen, and was carried into the city by the faithful
few, among whom doubtless were Timothy and his parents. Lystra,
however, was no longer safe for St. Paul. He retired, therefore, some
twenty miles to Derbe, where he continued for some time labouring with
success, till the storm and the excitement had subsided at Lystra.
Then he returned back over the same ground which he had already
traversed. He might have pushed on along the great Eastern Road, nigh
as Derbe was to the passes through the Taurus Range which led directly
to Cilicia and Tarsus. He wished to go back indeed to Antioch. He had
been a year or so absent on this first excursion into the vast fields
of Gentile paganism. Wider and more extensive missions had now to be
planned. The wisdom gained by personal experience had now to be
utilised in consultation with the brethren. But still a work had to be
done in Lycaonia and Pisidia if the results of his labours were not to
be lost. He had quitted in great haste each town he had visited,
forced out by persecution, and leaving the organisation of the Church
incomplete. St. Paul came, like his Master, not merely to proclaim a
doctrine: he came still more to found and organise a Divine society.
He returns therefore back again along the route he had first taken. He
does not preach in public, nor run any risks of raising riots anew.
His work is now entirely of a character interior to the Church. He
strengthens the disciples by his teaching, he points out that earthly
trials and persecutions are marks of God's love and favour rather than
tokens of His wrath, he notes for them that it is needful "through
many tribulations to enter into the kingdom of God," and above all he
secures the permanence of his work by ordaining presbyters after the
fashion of the Church at Antioch, with prayer and fasting and
imposition of hands. This is one great typical lesson taught us here
by St. Paul's return journey through Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of
Pisidia. Preaching and evangelistic work are important; but pastoral
work and Church consolidation and Church order are equally important,
if any permanent fruits are to be garnered and preserved. And the
other typical lesson is implied in the few words wherein the
termination of his first great missionary journey is narrated. "When
they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia; and
thence they sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been committed to
the grace of God for the work which they had fulfilled."

  [119] The Romans had a local police in Asia Minor, organised after
  the manner of our own local police. The chief of the police in
  each town was called the eirenarch, and was annually appointed by
  the proconsul. The Romans never made the mistake of placing the
  police in the hands of discontented subjects. See, on this curious
  topic, Le Bas and Waddington's _Voyage Archéologique_, t. iii.,
  pp. 27 and 255.

Antioch was the centre whence Paul and Barnabas had issued forth to
preach among the Gentiles, and to Antioch the apostles returned to
cheer the Church with the narrative of their labours and successes,
and to restore themselves and their exhausted powers with the
sweetness of Christian fellowship, of brotherly love and kindness such
as then flourished, as never before or since, amongst the children of
men. Mission work such as St. Paul did on this great tour is very
exhausting, and it can always be best performed from a great centre.
Mission work, evangelistic work of any kind, if it is to be
successful, makes terrible demands on man's whole nature, physical,
mental, spiritual, and bodily. The best restorative for that nature
when so exhausted is conversation and intercourse with men of like
minds, such as St. Paul found when, returning to Antioch, he cheered
the hearts and encouraged the hopes of the Church by narrating the
wonders he had seen done and the triumphs he had seen won through the
power of the Holy Ghost.[120]

  [120] It has often been argued that the gift of tongues conferred
  by the Holy Ghost at Pentecost was not necessary, as Greek was
  universally spoken in Asia Minor. The use of the Lycaonian tongue
  at Lystra, even though a Roman colony, is an important fact on the
  other side. Mr. Ramsay, in his _Hist. Geog. of Asia Minor_, says;
  "Greek was not the popular language of the plateau, even in the
  third century after Christ; the mass of the people spoke Lycaonian
  and Galatian and Phrygian, though those who wrote books wrote
  Greek and those who governed spoke Latin." Cf. pp. 98, 99 of Mr.
  Ramsay's work, and p. 103 of the previous volume of this
  commentary. This subject of the original languages of Asia Minor
  and their survival to Christian times is an interesting and novel
  subject of study, for which materials are gradually accumulating.
  Thus the ancient Cappadocian language is discussed and a lexicon
  of it compiled in a monograph which appeared in the _Museum_ of
  the Evangelical school at Smyrna (1880-84), pp. 47-265. A large
  number of inscriptions in the Phrygian language have also been
  recovered. St. Paul, addressing the natives of the central plateau
  of Asia Minor in Greek, would have been like an Englishman
  preaching to the inhabitants of Wales or of Connemara in English.
  I never heard of any powerful results thus following, save in the
  case of Giraldus Cambrensis who tells us in his _Itinerary in
  Wales_ of the melting character of his own Latin sermons upon the
  Welsh people, though they did not understand a word of them. But
  then Giraldus was, to say the least, an imaginative historian.



     "And certain men came down from Judæa and taught the brethren,
     saying, Except ye be circumcised after the custom of Moses, ye
     cannot be saved. And when Paul and Barnabas had no small
     dissension and questioning with them, the brethren appointed that
     Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to
     Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question....
     And the apostles and the elders were gathered together to
     consider of this matter."... James said, "My judgment is, that
     we trouble not them which from among the Gentiles turn to
     God."--ACTS xv. 1, 2, 6, 19.

I have headed this chapter, which treats of Acts xv. and its
incidents, the First Christian Council, and that of set purpose and
following eminent ecclesiastical example. People often hear the canons
of the great Councils quoted, the canons of Nice, Constantinople,
Ephesus, and Chalcedon, those great assemblies which threshed out the
controversies concerning the person and nature of Jesus Christ and
determined with marvellous precision the methods of expressing the
true doctrine on these points, and they wonder where or how such
ancient documents have been preserved. Well, the answer is simple
enough. If any reader, curious about the doings of these ancient
assemblies, desires to study the decrees which proceeded from them,
and even the debates which occurred in them, he need only ask in any
great library for a history of the Councils, edited either by Hardouin
or Labbe and Cossart, or, best and latest of all, by Mansi. They are
not externally very attractive volumes, being vast folios; nor are
they light or interesting reading. The industrious student will learn
much from them, however; and he will find that they all begin the
history of the Christian Councils by placing at the very head and
forefront thereof the history and acts of the Council of Jerusalem
held about the year 48 or 49 A.D., wherein we find a typical example
of a Church synod which set a fashion perpetuated throughout the ages
in councils, conferences, and congresses down to the present time. Let
us inquire then into the origin, the procedure, and the results of
this Assembly, sure that a council conducted under such auspices,
reported by such a divinely guided historian, and dealing with such
burning questions, must have important lessons for the Church of every

  [121] Mansi, A.D. 1692-1769, was Archbishop of Lucca. He was a
  very learned man. Besides valuable editions of other men's works
  he published his _Sarcorum Conciliorum Collectio_ in thirty-one
  vols. folio, Florence and Venice, 1759-98. Mansi fixes the date of
  the Jerusalem Synod either to 49 or 51 A.D. He counts it the third
  synod, regarding as the first synod that held for the election of
  Matthias, and as the second that assembled for the choice of the

I. The question, however, naturally meets us at the very threshold of
our inquiry as to the date of this assembly, and the position which it
holds in the process of development through which the Christian Church
was passing. The decision of this Synod at Jerusalem did not finally
settle the questions about the law and its obligatory character. The
relations between the Jewish and Gentile sections of the Church
continued in some places, especially in the East, more or less
unsettled well into the second century; for the Jews found it very
hard indeed to surrender all their cherished privileges and ancient
national distinctions. But the decree of the Jerusalem Assembly,
though only a partial settlement, "mere articles of peace," as it has
been well called, to tide over a pressing local controversy, formed in
St. Paul's hands a powerful weapon whereby the freedom, the unity, and
the catholicity of the Church was finally achieved. Where, then, do we
locate this Synod in the story of St. Paul's labours?

The narrative of the Acts clearly enough places it between the first
and the second missionary tours in Asia Minor undertaken by that
apostle. Paul and Barnabas laboured for the first time in Asia Minor
probably from the autumn of 44 till the spring or summer of 46. Their
work at that time must have extended over at least eighteen months or
more. Their journeys on foot must alone have taken up no small time.
They traversed from Perga, where they landed, to Derbe, whence they
turned back upon their work, a space of at least two hundred and fifty
miles. They made lengthened sojourns in large cities like Antioch and
Iconium. They doubtless visited other places of which we are told
nothing. Then, having completed their aggressive work, they retraced
their steps along the same route, and began their work of
consolidation and Church organisation, which must have occupied on
their return journey almost as much, if not more, time that they had
spent in aggressive labour upon their earlier journey. When we
consider all this, and strive to realise the conditions of life and
travel in Asia Minor at that time, eighteen months will not appear too
long for the work which the apostles actually performed. After their
return to Antioch they took up their abode in that city for a
considerable period. "They tarried no little time with the disciples"
are the exact words of St. Luke telling of their stay at Antioch.
Then comes the tale of Jewish intrigues and insinuations, followed by
debates, strife, and oppositions concerning the universally binding
character of the Jewish law, terminating with the formal deputation
from Antioch to Jerusalem. These latter events at Antioch may have
happened in a few weeks or months, or they may have extended over a
couple of years. But then, on the other hand, we note that St. Paul's
second missionary journey began soon after the Synod of Jerusalem.
That journey was very lengthened. It led St. Paul right through Asia
Minor, and thence into Europe, where he must have made a stay of at
least two years. He was at Corinth for eighteen months when Gallio
arrived as proconsul about the middle of the year 53, and previously
to that he had worked his way through Macedonia and Greece. St. Paul
on his second tour must have been then at least four years absent from
Antioch, which he must therefore have left about the year 49 or 50.
The Synod of Jerusalem must therefore be assigned to the year 48 A.D.
or thereabouts; or, in other words, not quite twenty years after the

II. And now this leads us to consider the occasion of the Synod. The
time was not, as we have said, quite twenty years after the
Crucifixion, yet that brief space had been quite sufficient to raise
questions undreamt of in earlier days. The Church was at first
completely homogeneous, its members being all Jews; but the admission
of the Gentiles and the action of St. Peter in the matter of Cornelius
had destroyed this characteristic so dear to the Jewish heart. The
Divine revelation at Joppa to St. Peter and the gift of the Holy Ghost
to Cornelius had for a time quenched the opposition to the admission
of the Gentiles to baptism; but, as we have already said, the extreme
Jewish party were only silenced for a time, they were not destroyed.
They took up a new position. The case of Cornelius merely decided that
a man might be baptized without having been _previously_ circumcised;
but it decided nothing in their opinion about the _subsequent_
necessity for circumcision and admission into the ranks of the Jewish
nation. Their view, in fact, was the same as of old. Salvation
belonged exclusively to the Jewish nation, and therefore if the
converted Gentiles were to be saved it must be by incorporation into
that body to which salvation alone belonged. The strict Jewish section
of the Church insisted the more upon this point, because they saw
rising up in the Church of Antioch, and elsewhere among the Churches
of Syria and Cilicia, a grave social danger threatening the existence
of their nation as a separate people. There were just then two classes
of disciples in these Churches. There were disciples who lived after
the Jewish fashion,--abstaining from unlawful foods, using food slain
by Jewish butchers, and scrupulous in washings and lustrations; and
there were Gentiles who lived after the Gentile fashion, and in
especial ate pork and things strangled. The strict Jews knew right
well the tendency of a majority to swallow up a minority, specially
when they were all members of the same religious community, enjoying
the same privileges and partakers of the same hope. A majority does
not indeed necessarily absorb a minority. Roman Catholicism is the
religion of the majority in Ireland and France; yet it has not
absorbed the small Protestant minority. The adherents of Judaism were
scattered in St. Paul's day all over the world, yet Paganism had not
swallowed them up. In these cases, however, the minority have been
completely separated from the majority by a middle wall, a barrier of
rigid discipline, and of strong, yea, even violent religious
repugnance. But the prospect now before the strict Jewish party was
quite different. In the Syrian Church as they beheld it growing up Jew
and Gentile would be closely linked together, professing the same
faith, saying the same prayers, joining in the same sacraments,
worshipping in the same buildings. All the advantages, too, would be
on the side of the Gentile. He was freed from the troublesome
restrictions--the more troublesome because so petty and minute--of the
Levitical Law. He could eat what he liked, and join in social converse
and general life without hesitation or fear. In a short time a Jewish
disciple would come to ask himself, What do I gain by all these
observances, this yoke of ordinances, which neither we nor our fathers
have been able perfectly to bear? If a Gentile disciple can be saved
without them, why should I trouble myself with them? The Jewish party
saw clearly enough that toleration of the presence of the Gentiles in
the Church and their admission to full communion and complete
Christian privileges simply involved the certain overthrow of Jewish
customs, Jewish privileges, and Jewish national expectations. They saw
that it was a case of war to the death, one party or the other must
conquer, and therefore in self-defence they raised the cry, "Unless
the Gentile converts be circumcised after the manner of Moses they
cannot be saved."

Antioch was recognised at Jerusalem as the centre of Gentile
Christianity. Certain, therefore, of the zealous, Judaising disciples
of Jerusalem repaired to Antioch, joined the Church, and secretly
proceeded to organise opposition to the dominant practice, using for
that purpose all the authority connected with the name of James the
Lord's brother, who presided over the Mother Church of the Holy City.

Now let us see what position St. Paul took up with respect to these
"false brethren privily brought in, who came in privily to spy out the
liberty he enjoyed in Christ Jesus." Paul and Barnabas both set
themselves undauntedly to fight against such teaching. They had seen
and known the spiritual life which flourished free from all Jewish
observances in the Church of the Gentiles. They had seen the gospel
bringing forth the fruits of purity and faith, of joy and peace in the
Holy Ghost; they knew that these things prepare the soul for the
beatific vision of God, and confer a present salvation here below; and
they could not tolerate the idea that a Jewish ceremony was necessary
over and above the life which Christ confers if men are to gain final

Here, perhaps, is the proper place to set forth St. Paul's view of
circumcision and of all external Jewish ordinances, as we gather it
from a broad review of his writings. St. Paul vigorously opposed all
those who taught the _necessity_ of Jewish rites so far as salvation
is concerned. This is evident from this chapter and from the Epistle
to the Galatians. But, on the other hand, St. Paul had not the
slightest objection to men observing the law and submitting to
circumcision, if they only realised that these things were mere
national customs and observed them as national customs, and even as
religious rites, but not as _necessary_ religious rites. If men took a
right view of circumcision, St. Paul had not the slightest objection
to it. It was not to circumcision St. Paul objected, but to the
extreme stress laid upon it, the intolerant views connected with it.
Circumcision as a voluntary practice, an interesting historical relic
of ancient ideas and customs, he never rejected,--nay, further, he
even practised it, as we shall see in the case of Timothy;
circumcision as a compulsory practice binding upon all men St. Paul
utterly abhorred. We may, perhaps, draw an illustration from a modern
Church in this respect. The Coptic and Abyssinian Churches retain the
ancient Jewish practice of circumcision. These Churches date back to
the earliest Christian times, and retain doubtless in this respect the
practice of the primitive Christian Church. The Copts circumcise their
children on the eighth day and before they are baptized; but they
regard this rite as a mere national custom, and treat it as absolutely
devoid of any religious meaning, significance, or necessity. St. Paul
would have had no objection to circumcision in this aspect any more
than he would have objected to a Turk for wearing a fez, or a Chinaman
for wearing a pigtail, or a Hindoo for wearing a turban. National
customs as such were things absolutely indifferent in his view. But if
Turkish or Chinese Christians were to insist upon all men wearing
their peculiar dress and observing their peculiar national customs as
being things absolutely necessary to salvation, St. Paul, were he
alive, would denounce and oppose them as vigorously as he did the
Judaisers of his own day.[122]

  [122] We miss the true standpoint whence to judge St. Paul's
  conduct aright, when we think as people generally do that St. Paul
  opposed circumcision _per se_. He simply opposed it when connected
  with wrong ideas. The Judaising disciples viewed the Jewish nation
  as the covenant people to whom alone salvation belonged. St. Paul
  viewed the Church as the body to whom alone salvation belonged,
  admission to which was gained by baptism. If any Christian holding
  St. Paul's view chose to add any private ceremony such as
  circumcision in order to gain admission into any human society,
  St. Paul would not have opposed him any more than, if he were now
  alive, he would have opposed or denounced a Christian man because
  he became a Freemason, or an Orangeman, or joined the Oddfellows,
  observing the special ceremonies appointed for admission. The
  nearest approach in later times to the position taken up by the
  strict Jewish party will be found in the history of mediæval
  monasticism. The Cistercians and subsequently the Mendicant Orders
  endeavoured to persuade every person that every one who wished to
  be saved must join their Orders and assume their peculiar dress.
  On this account Fitz Ralph, Archbishop of Armagh, and his friend
  Wickliffe denounced them most vigorously. I have given some
  amusing instances of the opposition to the Cistercians evoked two
  centuries earlier by similar claims in _Ireland and the
  Anglo-Norman Church_, p. 42.

This is the explanation of St. Paul's own conduct. Some have regarded
him as at times inconsistent with his own principles with regard to
the law of Moses. And yet if men will but look closer and think more
deeply, they will see that St. Paul never violated the rules which he
had imposed upon himself. He refused to circumcise Titus, for
instance, because the Judaising party at Jerusalem were insisting upon
the absolute necessity of circumcising the Gentiles if they were to be
saved. Had St. Paul consented to the circumcision of Titus, he would
have been yielding assent, or seeming to yield assent, to their
contention (see Gal. ii. 3). He circumcised Timothy at Lystra because
of the Jews in that neighbourhood; not indeed because they thought it
necessary to salvation that an uncircumcised man should be so treated,
but because they knew that his mother was a Jewess, and the principle
of the Jewish law, and of the Roman law too, was that a man's
nationality and status followed that of his mother, not that of his
father, so that the son of a Jewess must be incorporated with Israel.
Timothy was circumcised in obedience to national law and custom not
upon any compromise of religious principle. St. Paul himself made a
vow and cut off his hair and offered sacrifices in the Temple as being
the national customs of a Jew. These were things in themselves utterly
meaningless and indifferent; but they pleased other people. They cost
him a little time and trouble; but they helped on the great work he
had in hand, and tended to make his opponents more willing to listen
to him. St. Paul, therefore, with his great large mind, willing to
please others for their good to edification, gratified them by doing
what they thought became a Jew with a true national spirit beating
within his breast. Mere externals mattered nothing in St. Paul's
estimation. He would wear any vestments, or take any position, or use
any ceremony, esteeming them all things indifferent, provided only
they conciliated human prejudices and cleared difficulties out of the
way of the truth. But if men insisted upon them as things necessary,
then he opposed with all his might. This is the golden thread which
will rule our footsteps wandering amid the mazes of this earliest
Christian controversy. It will amply vindicate St. Paul's consistency,
and show that he never violated the principles he had laid down for
his own guidance. Had the spirit of St. Paul animated the Church of
succeeding ages, how many a controversy and division would have been
thereby escaped![123]

  [123] I have often noted what I consider an unfair use of this
  controversy and of St. Paul's position in it. Men in the heat of
  argument have represented the High Church, or rather the so-called
  Ritualists in the Church of England, as answering to the Judaisers
  of St. Paul's day. There seems to me, however, no parallel between
  them. The Judaisers contended for a certain ceremony as _necessary
  to salvation_. I never heard of any Ritualist who considered any
  of his dearest practices in this light. He may view them as
  lawful, as edifying, and very necessary for the instruction of the
  people; but I have never heard of their most extreme adherents
  contending for their necessity to salvation. It would be just as
  true to identify their opponents with the Judaisers, because they
  have insisted, and often with great vigour, upon the use of the
  black gown in the pulpit. I have known extreme men to take up the
  position that the gospel could not be preached where the black
  gown was not used. Any one who will take the trouble to read the
  _Life of Bishop Blomfield_ of London, edited by his son, vol. ii.,
  will see some striking illustrations of the extent to which such
  views were pushed half a century ago.

III. Now let us turn our attention to the actual history of the
controversy and strife which raged at Antioch and Jerusalem, and
endeavour to read the lessons the sacred narrative teaches. What a
striking picture of early Church life is here presented! How full of
teaching, of comfort, and of warning! How corrective of the false
notions we are apt to cherish of the state of the primitive Church!
There we behold the Church of Antioch rejoicing one day in the tidings
of a gospel free to the world, and on the next day torn with
dissension as to the points and qualifications necessary to salvation.
For we must observe that the discussion started at Antioch touched no
secondary question, and dealt with no mere point of ritual. It was a
fundamental question which troubled the Church. And yet that Church
had apostles and teachers abiding in it who could work miracles and
speak with tongues, and who received from time to time direct
revelations from heaven, and were endowed with the extraordinary
presence of the Holy Ghost. Yet there it was that controversy with all
its troubles raised its head, and "Paul and Barnabas had no small
dissension" with their opponents. What a necessary warning for every
age, and specially for our own, we behold in this narrative! Has not
this sacred Book a message in this passage specially applicable to
our own time? A great Romeward movement has within the last seventy
years, more powerful in the earlier portion of that period than in the
latter, extended itself over Europe. English people think that they
have themselves been the only persons who have experienced it. But
this is a great mistake. Germany forty and fifty years ago felt it
also to a large extent. And what was the great predisposing cause of
that tendency? Men had simply become tired of the perpetual
controversies which raged within the churches and communions outside
the sway of Rome. They longed for the perpetual peace and rest which
seemed to them to exist within the Papal domains, and they therefore
flung themselves headlong into the arms of a Church which promised
them relief from the exercise of that private judgment and personal
responsibility which had become for them a crushing burden too heavy
to be borne. And yet they forgot several things, the sudden discovery
of which has sent many of these intellectual and spiritual cowards in
various directions, some back to their original homes, some far away
into the regions of scepticism and spiritual darkness. They forgot,
for instance, to inquire how far the charmer who was alluring them
from the land of their nativity by specious promises could satisfy the
hopes she was raising. They hoped to get rid of dissension and
controversy; but did they? When they had left their childhood's home
and their father's house and sought the house of the stranger, did
they find there halcyon peace? Nay, rather did they not find there as
bitter strife, nay, far more bitter strife, on questions like the
Immaculate Conception and Papal Infallibility than ever raged at home?
Did they not find, and do they not find still, that no man and no
society can put a hook in the jaws of that Leviathan, the right of
private judgment, which none can tame or restrain, and which asserts
itself still in the Roman Communion as vigorously as ever even now
when the decree of Papal infallibility has elevated that dogma into
the rank of those necessary to salvation? Else whence come those
dissensions and discussions between minimisers and maximisers of that
decree? How is it that no two doctors or theologians will give
precisely the same explanation of it, and that, as we in Ireland have
seen, every curate fresh from Maynooth claims to be able to express
his own private judgment and determination whether any special Papal
decree or bull is binding or not?[124] This is one important point
forgotten by those who have sought the Roman Communion because of its
promises of freedom from controversy. They forgot to ask, Can these
promises be fulfilled? And many of them, in the perpetual unrest and
strife in which they have found themselves involved as much in their
new home as in their old, have proved the specious hopes held out to
be the veriest mirage of the Sahara desert. But this was not the only
omission of which such persons were guilty. They forgot that, suppose
the Roman Church could fulfil its promises and prove a religious home
of perfect peace and freedom from diverging opinions, it would in
that case have been very unlike the primitive Church. The Church of
Antioch or of Jerusalem, enjoying the ministry of Peter and John and
James and Paul,--these pillar-men, as St. Paul calls some of
them,--was much more like the Church of England of fifty years ago
than any society which offered perfect freedom from theological
strife; for the Churches of ancient times in their earliest and purest
days were swept by the winds of controversy and tossed by the tempests
of intellectual and religious inquiry just like the Church of England,
and they took exactly the same measures for the safety of the souls
entrusted to them as she did. They depended upon the power of free
debate, of unlimited discussion, of earnest prayer, of Christian
charity to carry them on till they reached that haven of rest where
every doubt and question shall be perfectly solved in the light of the
unveiled vision of God.

  [124] The conduct of the Romish clergy in Ireland when the Papal
  rescripts were issued concerning the Parnell tribute, boycotting,
  and the Plan of the Campaign was an amusing commentary on their
  view of Papal Infallibility. Any one who will take the trouble to
  search the columns of the _Freeman's Journal_ at that time will
  see how freely curates even criticised the Papal infallible
  utterances. One of them remarked to me at the time, "I think we
  have taught the old gentleman a lesson he will not forget,"
  referring to the Papal rescripts. Infallibility is very good so
  long as it is with us, but when against us it becomes very
  fallible. Such is clearly the view of Irish Roman Catholics.

Then, again, we learn another important lesson from a consideration of
the persons who raised the trouble at Antioch. The opening words of
the fifteenth chapter thus describes the authors of it: "Certain men
came down from Judæa." It is just the same with the persons who a
short time after compelled St. Peter to stagger in his course at the
same Antioch: "When certain came from James, then St. Peter separated
himself, fearing them of the circumcision" (Gal. ii. 12). Certain
bigots, that is, of the Jewish party, came, pretending to teach with
the authority of the Mother Church, and secretly disturbing weak
minds. But they were only pretenders, as the apostolic Epistle
expressly tells us: "Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which
went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls;
... to whom we gave no such commandment." These religious agitators,
with their narrow views about life and ritual, displayed the
characteristics of like-minded men ever since. They secretly crept
into the Church. There was a want of manly honesty about them. Their
pettiness of vision and of thought affected their whole nature, their
entire conduct. They loved the by-ways of intrigue and fraud, and
therefore they hesitated not to claim an authority which they had
never received, invoking apostolic names on behalf of a doctrine which
the apostles had never sanctioned. The characteristics thus displayed
by these Judaisers have ever been seen in their legitimate descendants
in every church and society, East and West alike. Narrowness of mind,
pettiness and intolerance in thought, have ever brought their own
penalty with them and have ever been connected with the same want of
moral uprightness. The miserable conception, the wretched fragment of
truth upon which such men seize, elevating it out of its due place and
rank, seems to destroy their sense of proportion, and leads them to
think it worth any lie which they may tell, any breach of Christian
charity of which they may be guilty, any sacrifice of truth and
honesty which they may make on behalf of their beloved idol. The
Judaisers misrepresented religious truth, and in doing so they
misrepresented themselves, and sacrificed the great interests of moral
truth in order that they might gain their ends.

IV. The distractions and controversies of Antioch were overruled,
however, by the Divine providence to the greater glory of God. As the
Judaisers continually appealed to the authority of the Church at
Jerusalem, the brethren at Antioch determined to send to that body and
ask the opinion of the apostles and elders upon this question. They
therefore despatched "Paul and Barnabas and certain other of them,"
among whom was Titus, an uncircumcised Gentile convert, as a
deputation to represent their own views. When they came to Jerusalem
the Antiochene deputies held a series of private conferences with the
leading men of Jerusalem. This we learn, not from the Acts of the
Apostles, but from St. Paul's independent narrative in Galatians ii.,
identifying as we do the visit there recorded with the visit narrated
in Acts xv.[125] St. Paul here exhibits all that tact and prudence we
ever trace in his character. He did not depend solely upon his own
authority, his reputation, his success. He felt within himself the
conscious guidance of the Divine Spirit aiding and guiding a
singularly clear and powerful mind. Yet he disdained no legitimate
precaution. He knew that the presence and guidance of the Spirit does
not absolve a man anxious for the truth from using all the means in
his power to ensure its success. He recognised that the truth, though
it must finally triumph, might be eclipsed or defeated for a time
through man's neglect and carelessness; and therefore he engaged in a
series of private conferences, explaining difficulties, conciliating
the support, and gaining the assistance of the most influential
members of the Church, including, of course, "James, Cephas, and John,
who were reputed to be pillars."

  [125] The reader should consult what Mr. Findlay has written on
  this point in his _Galatians_, chs. vi. and vii., pp. 92-112.

Is there not something very modern in the glimpse thus given us of the
negotiations and private meetings which preceded the formal meeting of
the Apostolic Council? Some persons may think that the presence and
power of the Holy Ghost must have superseded all such human
arrangements and forethought. But the simple testimony of the Bible
dispels at once all such objections, and shows us that as the
primitive Church was just like the modern Church, torn with
dissension, swept with the winds and storms of controversy, so too the
divinely guided and inspired leaders of the Church then took precisely
the same human means to attain their ends and carry out their views of
truth as now find place in the meetings of synods and convocations and
parliaments of the present time. The presence of the Holy Ghost did
not dispense with the necessity of human exertions in the days of the
apostles; and surely we may, on the other hand, believe that similar
human exertions in our time may be quite consonant with the presence
of the Spirit in our modern assemblies, overruling and guiding human
plans and intrigues to the honour of God and the blessing of man.
After these private conferences the apostles and elders came together
to consider the difficult subject laid before them. And now many
questions rise up which we can only very briefly consider. The
composition of this Synod is one important point. Who sat in it, and
who debated there? It is quite clear, from the text of the Acts, as to
the persons who were _present_ at this Synod. The sixth verse says,
"The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider of
this matter"; the twelfth verse tells us that "all the multitude kept
silence, and hearkened unto Barnabas and Paul rehearsing what signs
and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them"; in the
twenty-second verse we read, "Then it seemed good to the apostles and
the elders, with the whole Church, to choose men out of their company,
and to send them to Antioch"; while, finally, in the twenty-third
verse we read the superscription of the final decree of the Council,
which ran thus, "The apostles and the elder brethren unto the brethren
which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia." It seems
to me that any plain man reading these verses would come to the
conclusion that the whole multitude, the great body of the Church in
Jerusalem, were present and took part in this assembly.[126] A great
battle indeed has raged round the words of the Authorized Version of
the twenty-third verse, "The apostles and elders and brethren send
greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles," which are
otherwise rendered in the Revised Version. The presence or the absence
of the "and" between elders and brethren has formed the battle-ground
between two parties, the one upholding, the other opposing the right
of the laity to take part in Church synods and councils.

Upon a broad review of the whole affair this Apostolic Assembly seems
to me to have an important bearing upon this point. There are various
views involved. Some persons think that none but bishops should take
part in Church synods; others think that none but clergymen, spiritual
persons, in the technical and legal sense of the word "spiritual,"
should enter these assemblies, specially when treating of questions
touching doctrine and discipline.[127] Looking at the subject from
the standpoint of the Apostolic Council, we cannot agree with either
party. We are certainly told of the speeches of four individuals
merely--Paul, Barnabas, Peter, and James--to whom may be conceded the
position of bishops, and even more. But, then, it is evident that the
whole multitude of the Church was present at this Synod, and took an
active part in it. We are expressly told (vv. 4 and 5): "When they
were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the Church and the
apostles and the elders.... But there rose up certain of the sect of
the Pharisees who believed, saying, It is needful to circumcise them."
This indeed happened at the first meeting of the Church held to
receive the Antiochene deputation when they arrived. But there does
not seem to have been any difference between the constitution and
authority of the first and second meetings. Both were what we should
call Ecclesiastical Assemblies. Laymen joined in the discussions of
the first, and doubtless laymen joined in the discussions and much
questioning of the second.

  [126] The fifth verse states that after Paul had rehearsed the
  wonders done among the Gentiles certain of the sect of the
  Pharisees rose up saying, "It is needful to circumcise them." Some
  maintain that this was in a missionary meeting before the Synod,
  but that this is no proof that such laymen, if they were laymen,
  were allowed to raise the question in the Synod. Of course the
  next verse states that "the apostles and elders" came together to
  consider this matter; but it also states that there was much
  questioning before St. Peter opened his mouth to speak on the
  subject. Surely the much questioning must have been on the part of
  the "certain of the sect of the Pharisees who believed"!

  [127] It is a curious thing that three parties otherwise very much
  opposed unite in this view: the extreme High Church party in
  England, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Wesleyan Conference,
  which latter body restrains all questions of doctrine and
  discipline to ministers alone as rigorously as either of the
  others. The Presbyterian Assemblies are in many respects open to
  the same charge, the elders who represent the laity being ordained
  by imposition of hands as truly as the ministers and signing the
  same doctrinal tests. I cannot say how far this may be true of the
  Established Assembly in Scotland, but as far as the Free Church
  and the Irish General Assemblies are concerned, I am bold to say
  that no unordained layman sits in them. I was much amused some
  time ago reading the charge of a Wesleyan President of Conference
  to the newly ordained ministers of the Irish Conference, when he
  bid them remember that Christ had entrusted to them alone the care
  of all questions touching doctrine and discipline. See for the
  High Anglican theory, which is just the same as the Wesleyan
  President's, Joyce's _Acts of the Church_, A.D. 1531-1885, p. 12.

There is not indeed a hint which would lead us to conclude that the
Pharisees, who rose up and argued on behalf of the binding character
of the law of Moses, held any spiritual office whatsoever. So far as
the sacred text puts it, they may have been laymen pure and simple,
such as were the ordinary Pharisees. I cannot, indeed, see how any
member of the Church of England can consistently maintain either from
Holy Scripture, ancient ecclesiastical history, or the history of his
own Church, that laymen are quite shut out from councils debating
questions touching Christian faith, and that their consideration must
be limited to bishops, or at least clergymen alone. The Apostolic
Church seems to have admitted the freest discussion. The General
Councils most certainly tolerated very considerable lay interference.
The Emperor Constantine, though not even baptized, obtruded much of
his presence and exercised much of his influence upon the great Nicene
Council. Why even down to the sixteenth century, till the Tridentine
Council, the ambassadors of the great Christian Powers of Europe sat
in Church synods as representing the laity; and it was only in the
Council of the Vatican, which met in 1870, that even the Roman
Catholic Church formally denied the right of the people to exercise a
certain influence in the determination of questions touching faith and
discipline by the exclusion of the ambassadors who had in every
previous council held a certain defined place. While again, when we
come to the history of the Church of England, we find that the
celebrated Hooker, the vindicator of its Church polity, expressly
defended the royal supremacy as exercised within that Church on the
ground that the king represented by delegation the vast body of the
laity, who through him exercised a real influence upon all questions,
whether of doctrine or discipline. I feel a personal interest in this
question, because one of the charges most freely hurled against the
Church of Ireland is this, that she has admitted laymen to discussions
and votes concerning such questions. I cannot see how consistently
with her past history as an established Church she could have done
otherwise. I cannot see how the Church of England, if she comes in the
future to be disestablished, can do otherwise. That Church has always
admitted a vast amount of lay interference, even prior to the
Reformation, and still more since that important event. Extreme men
may scoff at those branches of their own Communion which have admitted
laymen to vote in Church synods upon all questions whatsoever; but
they forget when doing so that statements and decrees most dear to
themselves bear manifest traces of far more extreme lay intervention.
The Ornaments Rubric, standing before the order for Morning Prayer, is
a striking evidence of this. It is dear to the hearts of many, because
it orders the use of eucharistic vestments and the preservation of the
chancels in the ancient style; but on what grounds does it do so? Let
the precise words of the rubric be the answer: "Here it is to be noted
that such ornaments of the Church and of the ministers thereof, at all
times of their ministration, shall be retained, and be in use, as were
in this Church of England, _by the authority of Parliament_, in the
second year of the reign of King Edward the Sixth." Objections to the
determinations, rules, and canons of the Irish Church Synod might have
some weight did they profess, as this rubric does, to have been
ordained and imposed by the order of laymen alone. But when the
bishops of a Church have an independent vote, the clergy an
independent vote, the free and independent vote of the laity is
totally powerless by itself to introduce any novelty, and is only
powerful to prevent change in the ancient order. I do not feel bound
to defend some ill-judged expressions and foolish speeches which some
lay representatives may have made in the Irish Church Synod as again
no member of the Church of England need trouble himself to defend some
rash speeches made in Parliament on Church topics. In the first
moments of unaccustomed freedom Irish laymen did and said some rash
things, and, overawing the clergy by their fierce expressions, may
have caused the introduction of some hasty and ill-advised measures.
But sure I am that every sincere member of the Church to which I
belong will agree that the admission of the lay representatives to a
free discussion and free vote upon every topic has had a marvellous
influence in broadening their conceptions of Scripture truth and
deepening their affections and attachment to their Mother Church which
has treated and trusted them thus generously.[128]

  [128] I may perhaps be allowed to refer to a little tract of my
  own on this topic published at the time, on "The Work of the Laity
  in the Church of Ireland," as embodying the principles of Hooker
  applied to modern times and needs.

V. The proceedings of the Apostolic Synod next demand our attention.
The account which has been handed down is doubtless a mere outline of
what actually happened. We are not told anything concerning the
opening of the Assembly or how the discussion was begun. St. Luke was
intent merely on setting forth the main gist of affairs, and therefore
he reports but two speeches and tells of two others. Some Christian
Pharisee having put forward his objections to the position occupied by
the Gentile converts, St. Peter arose, as was natural, he having been
the person through whose action the present discussion and trouble had
originated. St. Peter's speech is marked on this occasion by the same
want of assumption of any higher authority than belonged to his
brethren which we have noted before when objections were taken to his
dealings with Cornelius. His speech claims nothing for himself, does
not even quote the Scriptures of the Old Testament, but simply repeats
in a concise shape the story of the conversion of Cornelius, points
out that God put no difference between Jew and Gentile, suggesting
that if God had put no difference between them why should man dare to
do so, and then ends with proclaiming the great doctrine of grace that
men, whether Jews or Gentiles, are saved through faith in Christ
alone, which purifies their hearts and lives. After Peter's speech
there arose James the Lord's brother, who from ancient times has been
regarded as the first bishop of Jerusalem, and who most certainly,
from the various references to him both here and elsewhere in the Acts
(chs. xii. 17, xxi. 18) and in the Epistle to the Galatians, seems to
have occupied the supreme place in that Church. James was a striking
figure. There is a long account of him left us by Hegesippus, a very
ancient Church historian, who bordered on apostolic times, and now
preserved for us in the _Ecclesiastical History_ of Eusebius, ii., 23.
There he is described as an ascetic and a Nazarite, like John the
Baptist, from his earliest childhood. "He drank neither wine nor
fermented liquors, and abstained from animal food. A razor never came
upon his head, he never anointed with oil, and never used the bath. He
alone was allowed to enter the sanctuary. He never wore woollen, but
linen garments. He was in the habit of entering the Temple alone, and
was often found upon his bended knees, and interceding for the
forgiveness of the people; so that his knees became as hard as
camels', in consequence of his habitual supplication and kneeling
before God. And indeed on account of his exceeding great piety he was
called the Just and Oblias, which signifies the Rampart of the
People." This description is the explanation of the power and
authority of James the Just in the Apostolic Assembly. He was a strict
legalist himself. He desired no freedom for his own share, but
rejoiced in observances and restrictions far beyond the common lot of
the Jews. When such a man pronounced against the attempt made to
impose circumcision and the law as a necessary condition of salvation,
the Judaisers must have felt that their cause was lost. St. James
expressed his views in no uncertain terms. He begins by referring to
St. Peter's speech and the conversion of Cornelius. He then proceeds
to show how the prophets foretold the ingathering of the Gentiles,
quoting a passage (Amos ix. 11, 12) which the Jewish expositors
themselves applied to the Messiah. His method of Scriptural
interpretation is exactly the same as that of St. Paul and St. Peter.
It is very different from ours, but it was the universal method of his
day; and when we wish to arrive at the meaning of the Scriptures, or
for that matter of any work, we ought to strive and place ourselves at
the standpoint and amid the circumstances of the writers and actors.
The prophet Amos speaks of the tabernacle of David as fallen down. The
rebuilding of it is then foretold, and James sees in the conversion of
the Gentiles this predicted rebuilding. He then pronounces in the most
decided language against "troubling those who from among the Gentiles
are turned to God" in the matter of legal observances, laying down at
the same time the concessions which should be demanded from the
Gentiles so as not to cause offence to their Jewish brethren. The
sentence thus authoritatively pronounced by the strictest Jewish
Christian was naturally adopted by the Apostolic Synod, and they wrote
a letter to the disciples in Syria and Cilicia embodying their
decision, which for a time settled the controversy which had been
raised. This epistle begins by disclaiming utterly and at once the
agitators who had gone forth to Antioch and had raised the
disturbances. It declared that circumcision was unnecessary for the
Gentile converts. This was the great point upon which St. Paul was
most anxious. He had no objection, as we have already said, to the
Jews observing their legal rites and ceremonies, but he was totally
opposed to the Gentiles coming under any such rule as a thing
necessary to salvation. The epistle then proceeds to lay down certain
concessions which the Gentiles should in turn make. They should
abstain from meats offered in sacrifice unto idols, from blood, from
things strangled, and from fornication; all of them points upon which
the public opinion of the Gentiles laid no stress, but which were most
abhorrent to a true Jew. The decrees of the Synod of Jerusalem, as the
inspired historian expressly terms them in ch. xvi. 4, were mere
temporary expedients. They determined indeed one important question,
that circumcision should not be imposed on the Gentiles--that Judaism,
in fact, was not in and by itself a saving dispensation; but left
unsolved many other questions, even touching this very subject of
circumcision and the Jewish law, which had afterwards to be debated
and threshed out, as St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians proves. But,
turning our eyes from the obsolete controversy which evoked the
Apostolic Epistle, and viewing the subject from a wider and a modern
standpoint, we may say that the decrees of this primitive Synod
narrated in this typical history bestow their sanction upon the great
principles of prudence, wisdom, and growth in the Divine life and in
Church work. It was with the apostles themselves as with the Church
ever since. Apostles even must not make haste, but must be contented
to wait upon the developments of God's providence. Perfection is an
excellent thing, but then perfection cannot be attained at once. Here
a little and there a little is the Divine law under the New as under
the Old Dispensation. Truth is the fairest and most excellent of all
possessions, but the advocates of truth must not expect it to be
grasped in all its bearings by all sorts and conditions of men at one
and the same time. They must be content, as St. Paul was, if one step
be taken at a time; if progress be in the right and not in the wrong
direction; and must be willing to concede much to the feelings and
long-descended prejudices of short-sighted human nature.



     "And after some days Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us return now
     and visit the brethren in every city wherein we proclaimed the
     word of the Lord, and see how they fare.... And there arose a
     sharp contention between them, so that they parted asunder one
     from the other."--ACTS xv. 36, 39.

     "And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having
     been forbidden of the Holy Ghost to speak the word in Asia....
     They came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the
     night; There was a man of Macedonia standing, beseeching him, and
     saying, Come over into Macedonia and help us."--ACTS xvi. 6, 8,

The second missionary tour of St. Paul now claims our attention,
specially because it involves the first proclamation of Christianity
by an apostle within the boundaries of Europe. The course of the
narrative up to this will show that any Christian effort in Europe by
an apostle, St. Peter or any one else prior to St. Paul's work, was
almost impossible. To the Twelve and to men like-minded with them, it
must have seemed a daring innovation to bring the gospel message
directly to bear upon the masses of Gentile paganism. Men of
conservative minds like the Twelve doubtless restrained their own
efforts up to the time of St. Paul's second tour within the bounds of
Israel according to the flesh in Palestine and the neighbouring lands,
finding there an ample field upon which to exercise their diligence.
And then when we turn to St. Paul and St. Barnabas, who had dared to
realise the freeness and fulness of the gospel message, we shall see
that the Syrian Antioch and Syria itself and Asia Minor had hitherto
afforded to them scope quite sufficient to engage their utmost
attention. A few moments' reflection upon the circumstances of the
primitive Christian Church and the developments through which
Apostolic Christianity passed are quite sufficient to dispel all such
fabulous incrustations upon the original record as those involved in
St. Peter's episcopate at Antioch or his lengthened rule over the
Church at Rome. If the latter story was to be accepted, St. Peter must
have been Bishop of Rome long before a mission was despatched to the
Gentiles from Antioch, if not even before the vision was seen at Joppa
by St. Peter when the admission of the Gentiles to the Church was
first authorised under any terms whatsoever.[129] In fact, it would be
impossible to fit the actions of St. Peter into any scheme whatsoever,
if we bring him to Rome and make him bishop there for twenty-five
years beginning at the year 42, the time usually assigned by Roman
Catholic historians. It is hard enough to frame a hypothetical scheme,
which will find a due and fitting place for the various recorded
actions of St. Peter, quite apart from any supposed Roman episcopate
lasting over such an extended period. St. Peter and St. Paul had, for
instance, a dispute at Antioch of which we read much in the second
chapter of the Galatian Epistle. Where shall we fix that dispute? Some
place it during the interval between the Synod at Jerusalem and the
second missionary tour of which we now propose to treat. Others place
it at the conclusion of that tour, when St. Paul was resting at
Antioch for a little after the work of that second journey. As we are
not writing the life of St. Paul, but simply commenting upon the
narratives of his labours as told in the Acts, we must be content to
refer to the Lives of St. Paul by Conybeare and Howson, and Archdeacon
Farrar, and to Bishop Lightfoot's _Galatians_, all of whom place this
quarrel before the second tour, and to Mr. Findlay's _Galatians_ in
our own series, who upholds the other view. Supposing, however, that
we take the former view in deference to the weighty authorities just
mentioned, we then find that there were two serious quarrels which
must for a time have marred the unity and Christian concord of the
Antiochene Church.

  [129] St. Jerome places the beginning of St. Peter's twenty-five
  years' episcopate at Rome in A.D. 42--that is, two years before
  Herod's attempt to put St. Peter to death. This idea has been
  worked up into an elaborate story, which will be found duly set
  forth in great detail in Fleury's _Ecclesiastical History_, Book
  I., where St. Peter is made Bishop of Rome prior to the death of
  Herod Agrippa, whence he despatches disciples to found Churches in
  various towns of Italy, and whence he writes his first Epistle to
  the Jews of the Dispersion in Asia Minor. A simple statement of
  this is sufficient refutation for any one who knows the bare text
  of the Acts. There seems, however, no reason whatsoever to doubt
  the ancient tradition which fixes the martyrdom of St. Peter at
  Rome. See on the whole subject the interesting article on St.
  Peter in Schaff's _Encyclopædia of Theology_, p. 1814. In the
  _Acta Sanctorum_, published by the Bollandists, April, vol. iii.,
  p. 346, we are told that St. Peter despatched St. Mark to found
  the Church of Aquileia, which claims the next rank to the Church
  of Rome among the Italian sees. In fact, the Bishops of Aquileia
  regarded themselves as of such importance, owing to their
  apostolic origin, that they headed a separation from the Church of
  Rome, which lasted from about A.D. 570 to 700. See Robertson's
  _History of the Church_, ii., p. 306, and the authorities there
  quoted, on this interesting anticipation of the Reformation in

The reproof of St. Peter by St. Paul for his dissimulation was made
on a public occasion before the whole Church. It must have caused
considerable excitement and discussion, and raised much human feeling
in Antioch. Barnabas too, the chosen friend and companion of St. Paul,
was involved in the matter, and must have felt himself condemned in
the strong language addressed to St. Peter. This may have caused for a
time a certain amount of estrangement between the various parties. A
close study of the Acts of the Apostles dispels at once the notion men
would fain cherish, that the apostles and the early Christians lived
just like angels without any trace of human passion or discord. The
apostles had their differences and misunderstandings very like our
own. Hot tempers and subsequent coolnesses arose, and produced evil
results between men entrusted with the very highest offices, and paved
the way, as quarrels always do, for fresh disturbances at some future
time. So it was at Antioch, where the public reproof of St. Peter by
St. Paul involved St. Barnabas, and may have left traces upon the
gentle soul of the Son of Consolation which were not wholly eradicated
by the time that a new source of trouble arose.

The ministry of St. Paul at Antioch was prolonged for some time after
the Jerusalem Synod, and then the Holy Ghost again impelled him to
return and visit all the Churches which he had founded in Cyprus and
Asia Minor. He recognised the necessity for supervision, support, and
guidance as far as the new converts were concerned. The seed might be
from heaven and the work might be God's own, but still human effort
must take its share and do its duty, or else the work may fail and the
good seed never attain perfection. St. Paul therefore proposed to
Barnabas a second joint mission, intending to visit "the brethren in
every city wherein they had proclaimed the word of the Lord." Barnabas
desired to take with them his kinsman Mark, but Paul, remembering his
weakness and defection on their previous journey, would have nothing
to say to the young man. Then there arose a sharp contention between
them, or, as the original expression is, there arose a paroxysm
between the apostles, so that the loving Christian workers and friends
of bygone years, "men who had hazarded their lives for the name of our
Lord Jesus Christ," separated the one from the other, and worked from
henceforth in widely different localities.

I. There are few portions of the Acts more fruitful in spiritual
instruction, or teeming with more abundant lessons, or richer in
application to present difficulties, than this very incident. Let us
note a few of them. One thought, for instance, which occurs at once to
any reflecting mind is this: what an extraordinary thing it is that
two such holy and devoted men as Paul and Barnabas should have had a
quarrel at all; and when they did quarrel, would it not have been far
better to have hushed the matter up and never have let the world know
anything at all about it? Now I do not say that it is well for
Christian people always to proclaim aloud and tell the world at large
all about the various unpleasant circumstances of their lives, their
quarrels, their misunderstandings, their personal failings and
backslidings. Life would be simply intolerable did we live always, at
all times, and under all circumstances beneath the full glare of
publicity. Personal quarrels too, family jars and bickerings have a
rapid tendency to heal themselves, if kept in the gloom, the soft,
toned, shaded light of retirement. They have an unhappy tendency to
harden and perpetuate themselves when dragged beneath the fierce
light of public opinion and the outside world. Yet it is well for the
Church at large that such a record has been left for us of the fact
that the quarrel between Paul and Barnabas waxed so fierce that they
departed the one from the other, to teach us what we are apt to
forget, the true character of the apostles. Human nature is intensely
inclined to idolatry. One idol may be knocked down, but as soon as it
is displaced the heart straightway sets to work to erect another idol
in its stead, and men have been ready to make idols of the apostles.
They have been ready to imagine them supernatural characters, tainted
with no sin, tempted by no passion, weakened by no infirmity. If these
incidents had not been recorded--the quarrel with Peter and the
quarrel with Barnabas--we should have been apt to forget that the
apostles were men of like passions with ourselves, and thus to lose
the full force--the bracing, stimulating force--of such exhortations
as that delivered by St. Paul when he said to a primitive Church,
"Follow me, as I, a poor, weak, failing, passionate man, have followed
Christ." We have the thorough humanity of the apostles vigorously
presented and enforced in this passage. There is no suppression of
weak points, no accentuation of strong points, no hiding of defects
and weaknesses, no dwelling upon virtues and graces. We have the
apostles presented at times vigorous, united, harmonious; at other
times weak, timorous, and cowardly.

Again, we note that this passage not only shows us the human frailties
and weaknesses which marked the apostles, and found a place in
characters and persons called to the very highest places; it has also
a lesson for the Church of all time in the circumstances which led to
the quarrel between Paul and Barnabas. We do well to mark carefully
that Antioch saw two such quarrels, the one of which, as we have
already pointed out, may have had something to say to the other. The
quarrel between St. Paul and St. Peter indeed has a history which
strikingly illustrates this tendency of which we have just now spoken.
Some expositors, jealous of the good fame and reputation and temper of
the apostles, have explained the quarrel at Antioch between St. Paul
and St. Peter as not having been a real quarrel at all, but an
edifying piece of acting, a dispute got up between the apostles to
enforce and proclaim the freedom of the Gentiles, a mere piece of
knavery and deception utterly foreign to such a truth-loving character
as was St. Paul's.[130] It is interesting, however, to note as
manifesting their natural characteristics, which were not destroyed,
but merely elevated, purified, and sanctified by Divine grace, that
the apostles Paul and Barnabas quarrelled about a purely personal
matter. They had finished their first missionary tour on which they
had been accompanied by St. Mark, who had acted as their attendant or
servant, carrying, we may suppose, their luggage, and discharging all
the subordinate offices such service might involve. The labour and
toil and personal danger incident to such a career were too much for
the young man. So with all the fickleness, the weakness, the want of
strong definite purpose we often find in young people, he abandoned
his work simply because it involved the exercise of a certain amount
of self-sacrifice. And now, when Paul and Barnabas are setting out
again, and Barnabas wishes to take the same favourite relative with
them,[131] St. Paul naturally objects, and then the bitter passionate
quarrel ensues. St. Paul just experienced here what we all must more
or less experience, the crosses and trials of public life, if we wish
to pass through that life with a good conscience. Public life, I
say--and I mean thereby not political life, which alone we usually
dignify by that name, but the ordinary life which every man and every
woman amongst us must live as we go in and out and discharge our
duties amid our fellow-men,--public life, the life we live once we
leave our closet communion with God in the early morning till we
return thereto in the eventide, is in all its departments most trying.
It is trying to temper, and it is trying to principle, and no one can
hope to pass through it without serious and grievous temptations. I do
not wonder that men have often felt, as the old Eastern monks did,
that salvation was more easily won in solitude than in living and
working amid the busy haunts of men where bad temper and hot words so
often conspire to make one return home from a hard day's work feeling
miserable within on account of repeated falls and shortcomings. Shall
we then act as they did? Shall we shut out the world completely and
cease to take any part in a struggle which seems to tell so
disastrously upon the equable calm of our spiritual life? Nay indeed,
for such a course would be unworthy a soldier of the Cross, and very
unlike the example shown by the blessed apostle St. Paul, who had to
battle not only against others, but had also to battle against himself
and his own passionate nature, and was crowned as a victor, not
because he ran away, but because he conquered through the grace of

  [130] "Origen started this theory that the dispute between Peter
  and Paul was simulated; in other words, being of one mind in the
  matter they got up this scene that St. Paul might the more
  effectually condemn the Judaisers through the chief of the
  apostles, who, acknowledging the justice of the rebuke, set them
  an example of submission. Thus he, in fact, substituted the much
  graver charge of dishonesty against both apostles in order to
  exculpate the one from the comparatively venial offence of moral
  cowardice and inconsistency. Nevertheless this view commended
  itself to a large number of subsequent writers, and for some time
  may be said to have reigned supreme." (Lightfoot's _Galatians_, p.
  129.) St. Chrysostom and St. Jerome maintained the same view,
  while St. Augustine opposed it. The epistles exchanged between
  Jerome and Augustine on this topic are very interesting. They may
  be most easily perused in Augustine's _Epistles_, vol. i., pp. 131
  and 280, as translated in T. & T. Clark's series (Edinburgh,

  [131] Mark is usually regarded as nephew to Barnabas. This opinion
  is grounded upon Col. iv. 10, as translated in the Authorised
  Version. They were, however, cousins merely. The Revised Version
  translates Col. iv. 10 thus: "Mark, the cousin of Barnabas." Dr.
  Lightfoot, in his _Colossians_, p. 236, has a long note showing
  that the word used about St. Mark in that passage is ὁ ἀνεψιός,
  which always means cousin german: see Thayer's edition of Grimm's
  _Lexicon of New Testament_, _s.v._

And now it is well that we should note the special trials he had to
endure. He had to fight against the spirit of cowardly self-indulgence
in others, and he had to fight against the spirit of jobbery. These
things indeed caused the rupture in the apostolic friendship. St.
Barnabas, apostle though he was, thought far more of the interests of
his cousin than of the interests of Christ's mission. St. Paul with
his devotion to Christ may have been a little intolerant of the
weakness of youth, but he rightly judged that one who had proved
untrustworthy before should not be rapidly and at once trusted again.
And St. Paul was thoroughly right, and has left a very useful and
practical example. Many young men among us are like St. Mark. The St.
Marks of our own day are a very numerous class. They have no respect
for their engagements. They will undertake work and allow themselves
to be calculated upon, and arrangements to be made accordingly. But
then comes the stress of action, and their place is found wanting,
and the work undertaken by them is found undone. And then they wonder
and complain that their lives are unsuccessful, and that men and women
who are in earnest will not trust or employ them in the future! These
are the men who are the social wrecks in life. They proclaim loudly in
streets and highways the hard treatment which they have received. They
tell forth their own misery, and speak as if they were the most
deserving and at the same time the most ill-treated of men; and yet
they are but reaping as they have sown, and their failures and their
misfortunes are only the due and fitting rewards of their want of
earnestness, diligence, and self-denial. To the young this episode
proclaims aloud: Respect your engagements, regard public employments
as solemn contracts in God's sight. Take pains with your work. Be
willing to endure any trouble for its sake. There is no such thing as
genius in ordinary life. Genius has been well defined as an infinite
capacity for taking pains. And thus avoid the miserable weakness of
St. Mark, who fled from his work because it entailed trouble and
self-denial on his part.

Then, again, we view St. Paul with admiration because he withstood the
spirit of jobbery when it displayed itself even in a saint. Barnabas
in plain language wished to perpetrate a job in favour of a member of
his family, and St. Paul withstood him. And how often since has the
same spirit thus displayed itself to the injury of God's cause! Let us
note how the case stood. St. Barnabas was a good pious man of very
strong emotional feelings. But he allowed himself to be guided, as
pious people often do, by their emotions, affections, prejudices, not
by their reason and judgment. With such men when their affections
come into play jobbery is the most natural thing in the world. It is
the very breath of their nostrils. It is the atmosphere in which they
revel. Barnabas loved his cousin John Mark, with strong, powerful,
absorbing love, and that emotion blinded Barnabas to Mark's faults,
and led him on his behalf to quarrel with his firmer, wiser, and more
vigorous friend. Jobbery is a vice peculiar to no age and to no
profession. It flourishes in the most religious as in the most worldly
circles. In religious circles it often takes the most sickening forms,
when miserable, narrow selfishness assumes the garb and adopts the
language of Christian piety. St. Paul's action proclaims to Christian
men a very needful lesson. It says, in fact, Set your faces against
jobbery of every kind. Regard power, influence, patronage as a sacred
trust. Permit not fear, affection, or party spirit to blind your eyes
or prejudice your judgment against real merit; so shall you be
following in the footsteps of the great Apostle of the Gentiles, with
his heroic championship of that which was righteous and true, and of
One higher still, for thus you shall be following the Master's own
example, whose highest praise was this: "He loved righteousness, and
hated iniquity."[132]

  [132] The sequel of this story as made known through the Epistles
  is most interesting. The quarrel between St. Paul and St. Barnabas
  was not a permanent one. Five years or so later, when writing the
  1st Epistle to the Corinthians (ix. 6), St. Paul associates
  himself with Barnabas as if they were companions once again: "Or I
  only, and Barnabas, have we not a right to forbear working?" It is
  interesting too to trace the change that came in subsequent years
  over the relations between St. Paul and St. Mark as revealed by
  the Epistles. About the year 50 St. Paul treated Mark sternly, and
  that same sternness was most beneficial to the young man. It was
  just what his character wanted. Fifteen years passed over both
  their heads, and the scene was then very different. In Col. iv.
  10, 11 Mark is commended unto the Church of Colossæ as one of the
  few Jewish Christians who had been a comfort in his bonds to the
  prisoner of Jesus Christ; while again, when on the point of his
  departure, in the 2nd Epistle to Timothy, iv. 11, the once weak
  disciple is most touchingly and lovingly remembered: "Only Luke is
  with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is useful to
  me for ministering." St. Mark, after being the cause of this
  quarrel, appears no more in the Acts. The traditions about him
  will be found collected in English in Nelson's _Fasts and
  Festivals_, under his Feast Day, April 25th; or better still in
  Cave's _Lives of the Apostles_, pp. 217-23 (London, 1684); and in
  Latin in the _Acta Sanctorum_, Ed. Boll., April, iii., 344-58.
  Cave and the Bollandists give all the traditions about his
  foundation of the Church of Alexandria, the patriarchs of which
  still claim descent from him. Some historical writers have
  maintained, that they used to be ordained by the imposition of St.
  Mark's dead hand. This seems a mistake, however. Mr. Butler, in
  his _Coptic Churches of Egypt_, vol. ii., p. 311, says that the
  newly ordained Patriarch of Alexandria used to hold St. Mark's
  head in his hands during the celebration of Mass after his
  consecration. (See also COPTIC CHURCH in _Dict. Christ. Biog._).
  Renaudot, a learned French writer, published a history of the
  Alexandrian Patriarchate in 1713, which industriously collects all
  the details of St. Mark's life true and imaginary alike. St.
  Mark's supposed body was carried to Venice from Alexandria about
  A.D. 1235.

We have now bestowed a lengthened notice upon this quarrel, because it
corrects a very mistaken notion about the apostles, and shows us how
thoroughly natural and human, how very like our own, was the everyday
life of the primitive Church. It takes away the false halo of
infallibility and impeccability with which we are apt to invest the
apostles, making us view them as real, fallible, weak, sinful men like
ourselves,[133] and thereby exalts the power of that grace which made
them so eminent in Christian character, so abundant in Christian
labours. Let us now apply ourselves to trace the course of St. Paul's
second tour.

  [133] It is curious to note how widespread is this notion that the
  apostles always possessed supernatural powers in virtue of their
  office, enabling them, for instance, infallibly to read men's
  hearts and thoughts. In a letter in the _Church Times_ for August
  19th, 1892, from an eminent dignitary of the Church of England, I
  noticed an example of it. He was discussing a question with which
  I have nothing to say, and in doing so writes: "The commission
  given by our Lord to the apostles cannot be used in precisely the
  same sense by ourselves. The apostles' powers were miraculous....
  They could tell whether the condition of the soul of the recipient
  of their gifts was right or the reverse in a manner not possible
  for us.... They could perceive and gauge faith in a way that is
  not our prerogative.... It is clear that the apostles could have
  perceived whether repentance and faith were genuine." I do not
  deny that God sometimes made such special revelations to them. But
  _quâ_ apostles they had no such gift of discerning spirits, else
  why did Peter baptize Simon Magus, or St. Paul and Barnabas take
  Mark with them at all, or St. Paul tolerate Demas even for a
  moment, or why did he not indicate the "grievous wolves" who
  should ravage the Ephesian Church after his departure?

The effect of the quarrel between the friends was that St. Paul took
Silas and St. Barnabas took Mark, and they separated; the latter going
to Cyprus, the native country of Barnabas, while Paul and Silas
devoted themselves to Syria and Asia Minor and their Churches. The
division between these holy men became thus doubly profitable to the
Church of Christ. It is perpetually profitable, by way of warning and
example, as we have just now shown; and then it became profitable
because it led to two distinct missions being carried on, the one in
the island of Cyprus, the other on the continent of Asia. The wrath of
man is thus again overruled to the greater glory of God, and human
weakness is made to promote the interests of the gospel. We read, too,
"they parted asunder the one from the other." How very differently
they acted from the manner in which modern Christians do! Their
difference in opinion did not lead them to depart into exactly the
same district, and there pursue a policy of opposition the one against
the other. They sought rather districts widely separated, where their
social differences could have no effect upon the cause they both
loved. How very differently modern Christians act, and how very
disastrous the consequent results! How very scandalous, how very
injurious to Christ's cause, when Christian missionaries of different
communions appear warring one with another in face of the pagan world!
Surely the world of paganism is wide enough and large enough to afford
scope for the utmost efforts of all Christians without European
Christendom exporting its divisions and quarrels to afford matter for
mockery to scoffing idolaters! We have heard lately a great deal about
the differences between Roman Catholic and Protestant missionaries in
Central Africa, terminating in war and bloodshed and in the most
miserable recriminations threatening the peace and welfare of the
nations of Europe. Surely there must have been an error of judgment
somewhere or another in this case, and Africa must be ample enough to
afford abundant room for the independent action of the largest bodies
of missionaries without resorting to armed conflicts which recall the
religious wars between the Roman Catholic and Protestant Cantons of
Switzerland! With the subsequent labours of Barnabas we have nothing
to do, as he now disappears from the Acts of the Apostles,[134] though
it would appear from a reference by St. Paul--1 Cor. ix. 6, "Or I
only, and Barnabas, have we not a right to forbear working?"--as if
at that time four or five years after the quarrel they were again
labouring together at Ephesus, where First Corinthians was written, or
else why should Barnabas be mentioned in that connexion at all?

  [134] Ecclesiastical history and tradition tell us more about
  Barnabas and Cyprus. They represent Barnabas as the Apostle of the
  Church of Cyprus. This idea played a prominent part in the fifth
  century. The ancient connection between Antioch and Cyprus was
  then kept up, and the patriarchs of Antioch wished to subject the
  Archbishop and Bishops of Cyprus to their rule. The Seventh
  Session of the Great Council of Ephesus, which dealt with the
  Nestorian controversy, was engaged with this question of Cyprus.
  The session was held on July 31st, 431. The Cypriote bishops
  claimed that they had been free from the dominion of Antioch back
  to apostolic times, and the Council confirmed their freedom: see
  Mansi's _Councils_, iv., 1465-1470; Hefele's _Councils_ (T. & T.
  Clark's translation), vol. ii., p. 72. Forty years later the same
  claim was advanced by the celebrated Peter the Fuller, Patriarch
  of Antioch, and resisted by Anthemius, Bishop of Salamis or
  Constantia. The bishops of Cyprus were again successful, owing to
  the timely discovery of the body of Barnabas lying in a tomb with
  a copy of the Gospel of St. Matthew upon his heart, which,
  according to the opinion of the times, settled the point in
  dispute: see Anthemius in the _Dict. Christ. Biog._, vol. i., p.
  118. Cave, in his _Apostolici, or Lives of the Fathers_, pp.
  33-43, diligently collects every scrap of information about St.
  Barnabas. An early tradition found in the Clementine
  _Recognitions_, lib. i., cap. 7, and dating from about A.D. 200,
  makes him the first apostle to preach in Rome, preceding St. Peter
  himself, against which theory as trenching on St. Peter's
  prerogatives Cardinal Baronius disputes very vigorously in his
  _Annals_, A.D. 51, lii.-liv.; see also Dr. Salmon on Clementine
  Literature in the _Dict. Christ. Biog._, i., 568.

Let us now briefly indicate the course of St. Paul's labours during
the next three years, as his second missionary tour must have extended
over at least that space of time. St. Paul and his companion Silas
left Antioch amid the prayers of the whole Church. Evidently the
brethren viewed Paul's conduct with approbation, and accompanied him
therefore with fervent supplications for success in his self-denying
labours. He proceeded by land into Cilicia and Asia Minor, and
wherever he went he delivered the apostolic decree in order that he
might counteract the workings of the Judaisers. This decree served a
twofold purpose. It relieved the minds of the Gentile brethren with
respect to the law and its observances, and it also showed to them
that the Jerusalem Church and apostles recognised the Divine authority
and apostolate of St. Paul himself, which these "false brethren" from
Jerusalem had already assailed, as they did four or five years later
both in Galatia and at Corinth. We know not what special towns St.
Paul visited in Cilicia, but we may be sure that the Church of Tarsus,
his native place, where in the first fervour of his conversion he had
already laboured for a considerable period, must have received a visit
from him. We may be certain that his opponents would not leave such an
important town unvisited, and we may be equally certain that St. Paul,
who, as his Epistles show, was always keenly alive to the opinion of
his converts with respect to his apostolic authority, would have been
specially anxious to let his fellow townsmen at Tarsus see that he was
no unauthorised or false teacher, but that the Jerusalem Church
recognised his work and teaching in the amplest manner.

Starting then anew from Tarsus, Paul and Silas set out upon an
enormous journey, penetrating, as few modern travellers even now do,
from the south-eastern extremity of Asia Minor to the north-western
coast, a journey which, with its necessarily prolonged delays, must
have taken them at least a year and a half. St. Paul seems to have
carefully availed himself of the Roman road system. We are merely
given the very barest outline of the course which he pursued, but then
when we take up the index maps of Asia Minor inserted in Ramsay's
_Historical Geography of Asia Minor_, showing the road systems at
various periods, we see that a great Roman road followed the very
route which St. Paul took. It started from Tarsus and passed to
Derbe, whence of course the road to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch had
already been traversed by St. Paul.[135] He must have made lengthened
visits to all these places, as he had much to do and much to teach. He
had to expound the decree of the Apostolic Council, to explain
Christian truth, to correct the errors and abuses which were daily
creeping in, and to enlarge the organisation of the Christian Church
by fresh ordinations. Take the case of Timothy as an example of the
trouble St. Paul must have experienced. He came to Derbe, where he
first found some of the converts made on his earlier tour; whence he
passed to Lystra, where he met Timothy, whose acquaintance he had
doubtless made on his first journey. He was the son of a Jewess,
though his father was a Gentile. St. Paul took and circumcised him to
conciliate the Jews. The Apostle must have bestowed a great deal of
trouble on this point alone, explaining to the Gentile portion of the
Christian community the principles on which he acted and their perfect
consistency with his own conduct at Jerusalem and his advocacy of
Gentile freedom from the law. Then he ordained him. This we do not
learn from the Acts, but from St. Paul's Epistles to Timothy. The Acts
simply says of Timothy, "Him would Paul have to go forth with him."
But then when we turn to the Epistles written to Timothy, we find that
it was not as an ordinary companion that Timothy was taken. He went
forth as St. Paul himself had gone forth from the Church of Antioch, a
duly ordained and publicly recognised messenger of Christ. We can
glean from St. Paul's letters to Timothy the order and ceremonies of
this primitive ordination. The rite, as ministered on that occasion,
embraced prophesyings or preachings by St. Paul himself and by others
upon the serious character of the office then undertaken. This seems
plainly intimated in 1 Tim. i. 18: "This charge I commit unto thee, my
child Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee";
while there seems a reference to his own exhortations and directions
in 2 Tim. ii. 2, where he writes, "The things which thou hast heard
from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men."
After this there was probably, as in modern ordinations, a searching
examination of the candidate, with a solemn profession of faith on his
part, to which St. Paul refers in 1 Tim. vi. 12, "Fight the good fight
of faith, lay hold on the life eternal, whereunto thou wast called,
and _didst confess the good confession in the sight of many
witnesses_. I charge thee in the sight of God who quickeneth all
things, and of Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed the
good confession; that thou keep the commandment, without spot, without
reproach, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ." And finally
there came the imposition of hands, in which the local presbyters
assisted St. Paul, though St. Paul was so far the guiding and ruling
personage that, though in one place (1 Tim. iv. 14) he speaks of the
gift of God which Timothy possessed, as given "by prophecy with the
laying on of the hands of the presbytery," in another place he
describes it as given to the young evangelist by the imposition of St.
Paul's own hands (2 Tim. i. 6). This ordination of Timothy[136] and
adoption of him as his special attendant stood at the very beginning
of a prolonged tour throughout the central and northern districts of
Asia Minor, of which we get only a mere hint in Acts xvi. 6-8: "They
went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden
of the Holy Ghost to speak the word in Asia; and when they were come
over against Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia; and the Spirit
of Jesus suffered them not; and passing by Mysia, they came unto
Troas." This is the brief sketch of St. Paul's labours through the
north-western provinces of Asia Minor, during which he visited the
district of Galatia and preached the gospel amid the various tribal
communities of Celts who inhabited that district.

  [135] The record of a very similar journey performed five years
  ago in July 1887 may be read in the _Journal of Hellenic Studies_
  for April 1890. Mr. D. G. Hogarth, who writes the story, travelled
  on that occasion from the borders of Galatia to the Cilician
  coast. His narrative gives a vivid picture of the scenery over the
  Taurus Range as St. Paul must have seen it on this second
  missionary tour, and of the difficulties by which he must have
  been surrounded. Cf. Ramsay's _Historical Geography of Asia
  Minor_, p. 362.

  [136] Cave has a long account of Timothy in his _Apostolici, or
  Lives of the Fathers_, pp. 45-53, where he gives an account of
  Timothy's martyrdom at Ephesus from Photius, the celebrated Greek
  scholar and patriarch of the ninth century: see Photius,
  _Bibliotheca_, cod. 254, and the _Acta Sanctorum_ for January,
  vol. ii., pp. 562-69. Timothy is said in the Martyrologies to have
  been buried on Mount Prion, a hill upon the side of which ancient
  Ephesus was built (see Wood's _Ephesus_, chap. i.), after he was
  cruelly put to death by the Ephesians enraged at his protest
  against one of their popular feasts. He suffered under Domitian
  about thirty years after St. Paul, and according to Photius was
  succeeded at Ephesus by St. John, who had been recalled from
  exile. His feast-day in the Calendar is January 24th.

St. Paul's work in Galatia is specially interesting to ourselves. The
Celtic race certainly furnished the groundwork of the population in
England, Ireland, and Scotland, and finds to this day lineal
representatives in the Celtic-speaking inhabitants of these three
islands. Galatia was thoroughly Celtic in St. Paul's day. But how, it
may be said, did the Gauls come there? We all know of the Gauls or
Celts in Western Europe, and every person of even moderate education
has heard of the Gauls who invaded Italy and sacked Rome when that
city was yet an unknown factor in the world's history, and yet but
very few know that the same wave of invasion which brought the Gauls
to Rome led another division of them into Asia Minor, where--as Dr.
Lightfoot shows in his Introduction to his Commentary--about three
hundred years before St. Paul's day they settled down in the region
called after them Galatia, perpetuating in that neighbourhood the
tribal organisation, the language,[137] the national feelings, habits,
and customs which have universally marked the Celtic race whether in
ancient or in modern times. St. Paul on this second missionary tour
paid his first visit to this district of Galatia. St. Paul usually
directed his attention to great cities. Where vast masses of humanity
were gathered together, there St. Paul loved to fling himself with all
the mighty force of his unquenchable enthusiasm. But Galatia was
quite unlike other districts with which he had dealt in this special
respect. Like the Celtic race all the world over, the Gauls of Galatia
specially delighted in village communities. They did not care for the
society and tone of great towns, and Galatia was wanting in such. St.
Paul, too, does not seem originally to have intended to labour amongst
the Galatians at all. In view of his great design to preach in large
cities, and concentrate his efforts where they could most effectually
tell upon the masses, he seems to have been hurrying through Galatia
when God laid His heavy hand upon the Apostle and delayed his course
that we might be able to see how the gospel could tell upon Gauls and
Celts even as upon other nations. This interesting circumstance is
made known to us by St. Paul himself in the Epistle to the Galatians
iv. 13: "Ye know that because of an infirmity of the flesh I preached
the gospel unto you for the first time." Paul, to put it in plain
language, fell sick in Galatia.[138] He was delayed on his journey by
the ophthalmia or some other form of disease, which was his thorn in
the flesh, and then, utilising the compulsory delay, and turning every
moment to advantage, he evangelised the village communities of Galatia
with which he came in contact, so that his Epistle is directed, not as
in other cases to the Church of a city or to an individual man, but
the Epistle in which he deals with great fundamental questions of
Christian freedom is addressed to the Churches of Galatia, a vast
district of country. Mere accident, as it would seem to the eye of
sense, produced the Epistle to the Galatians, which shows us the
peculiar weakness and the peculiar strength of the Celtic race, their
enthusiasm, their genuine warmth, their fickleness, their love for
that which is striking, showy, material, exterior.[139] But when we
pass from Galatia we know nothing of the course of St. Paul's further
labours in Asia Minor. St. Luke was not with him during this portion
of his work, and so the details given us are very few. We are told
that "the Spirit of Jesus" would not permit him to preach in Bithynia,
though Bithynia became afterwards rich in Christian Churches, and was
one of the districts to which St. Peter some years later addressed his
first Epistle.[140] The Jews were numerous in the districts of
Bithynia and Asia, and "the Spirit of Jesus" or "the Holy Ghost"--for
the sacred writer seems to use the terms as equivalent the one to the
other--had determined to utilise St. Paul in working directly among
the Gentiles, reserving the preaching of the gospel to the Dispersion,
as the scattered Jews were called, to St. Peter and his friends. It is
thus we would explain the restraint exercised upon St. Paul on this
occasion. Divine providence had cut out his great work in Europe, and
was impelling him westward even when he desired to tarry in Asia. How
the Spirit exercised this restraint or communicated His will we know
not. St. Paul lived, however, in an atmosphere of Divine communion. He
cultivated perpetually a sense of the Divine presence, and those who
do so, experience a guidance of which the outer world knows nothing.
Bishop Jeremy Taylor, in one of his marvellous spiritual discourses
called the _Via Intelligentiæ_, or The Way of Knowledge, speaks much
on this subject, pointing out that they who live closest to God have a
knowledge and a love peculiar to themselves.[141] And surely every
sincere and earnest follower of Christ has experienced somewhat of the
same mystical blessings! God's truest servants commit their lives and
their actions in devout prayer to the guidance of their heavenly
Father, and then when they look back over the past they see how
marvellously they have been restrained from courses which would have
been fraught with evil, how strangely they have been led by ways which
have been full of mercy and goodness and blessing. Thus it was that
St. Paul was at length led down to the ancient city of Troas, where
God revealed to him in a new fashion his ordained field of labour. A
man of Macedonia appeared in a night vision inviting him over to
Europe, and saying, "Come over into Macedonia, and help us." Troas was
a very fitting place in which this vision should appear. Of old time
and in days of classic fable Troas had been the meeting-place where,
as Homer and as Virgil tell, Europe and Asia had met in stern
conflict, and where Europe as represented by Greece had come off
victorious, bringing home the spoils which human nature counted most
precious. Europe and Asia again meet at Troas, but no longer in carnal
conflict or in deadly fight. The interests of Europe and of Asia
again touch one another, and Europe again carries off from the same
spot spoil more precious far than Grecian poet ever dreamt of, for
"when Paul had seen the vision, straightway we sought to go forth into
Macedonia, concluding that God called us for to preach the gospel unto
them." Whereupon we notice two points and offer just two observations.
The vision created an enthusiasm, and that enthusiasm was contagious.
The vision was seen by Paul alone, but was communicated by St. Paul
unto Silas and to St. Luke, who now had joined to lend perhaps the
assistance of his medical knowledge to the afflicted and suffering
Apostle. Enthusiasm is a marvellous power, and endows a man with
wondrous force. St. Paul was boiling over with enthusiasm, but he
could not always impart it. The two non-apostolic Evangelists are
marked contrasts as brought before us in this history. St. Paul was
enthusiastic on his first tour, but that enthusiasm was not
communicated to St. Mark. He turned back from the hardships and
dangers of the work in Asia Minor. St. Paul was boiling over again
with enthusiasm for the new work in Europe. He has now with him in St.
Luke a congenial soul who, when he hears the vision, gathers at once
its import, joyfully anticipates the work, and "straightway sought to
go forth into Macedonia." Enthusiasm in any kind of work is a great
assistance, and nothing great or successful is done without it. But
above all in Divine work, in the work of preaching the gospel, the man
devoid of enthusiasm begotten of living communion with God such as St.
Paul and St. Luke enjoyed is sure to be a lamentable and complete

  [137] The provinces of Asia Minor all retained their ancient
  languages at the time of St. Paul. Latin and Greek were the
  language of society, but the mass of the people all spoke the
  original language of the country. In the time of St. Jerome, four
  centuries after St. Paul, Celtic was still spoken in Galatia as
  well as in Gaul. St. Paul must then have heard a language
  identical with that of Wales and the western districts of Ireland
  and Scotland, as is shown by Bishop Lightfoot in his _Galatians_,
  pp. 240-44, by his analysis of the remains of the Galatian
  language which ancient writers have handed down to us. Texier, a
  modern French traveller, thought that he could even trace Celtic
  features in the present inhabitants of the district. Cf.
  Lightfoot's _Galatians_, p. 12. It is very probable that a careful
  study of the existing language of Galatia, when treated according
  to the methods of modern scientific philology, would disclose
  Celtic elements. When Celtic elements survived in England and
  France, it is not likely they died out in Galatia. We know at any
  rate that the other original languages of Asia Minor have not
  perished without leaving some traces behind. There is a learned
  Review published at Smyrna from time to time. It is called the
  _Museum of the Evangelical School of Smyrna_. In the volume
  published for 1880-84 there is an article of more than 200 pages
  treating of the ancient Cappadocian and Lycaonian dialects, and
  the traces of them which remain. On p. 71 there is a notice of the
  accuracy with which Acts xiv. 11 mentions the speech or dialect of
  the men of Lystra, which Mr. Hogarth, in the article in the
  _Journal of Hellenic Studies_, April 1890, p. 157, to which we
  have already referred, identifies with the Phrygian dialect spoken
  till the sixth century of our era. Mr. Hogarth copied several
  inscriptions in this ancient Lycaonian or Phrygian speech. See
  also an English article by Professor W. M. Ramsay in Kühn's
  _Journal of Comparative Philology_ for 1887, where he treats of
  this Lycaonian speech, and avows his belief (p. 382) that
  Græco-Roman civilisation and language did not begin to affect the
  rural parts of Northern and Eastern Phrygia till A.D. 100, long
  after St. Paul's day. The mass of the people spoke nothing but the
  original Phrygian. The reader who wishes to investigate what I
  consider the bearing of this subject on the gift of tongues should
  consult another article in English by Professor Ramsay, styled
  _Laodicea Combusta_, in the Transactions of the German
  Archæological Institute, vol. xiii., p. 248 (Athens, 1888).

  [138] See Lightfoot's _Galatians_, pp. 22 and 172.

  [139] Those who have access to great libraries will see a good
  description of Galatia accompanied with splendid plates in
  Texier's _Description de l'Asie_, in 3 vols. folio, published at
  Paris between 1839 and 1849. Mr. Lewin has reproduced some of the
  pictures in his _Life of St. Paul_.

  [140] We owe one of the earliest glimpses of the Christian Church
  after apostolic days to this same province of Bithynia. Pliny went
  there as proconsul about 110 A.D. He found the whole country
  covered with Christians, and the Church organised, with
  deaconesses even, as in Greece and Ephesus. See the first volume
  of this commentary, p. 274. The picture of the saintly slave
  deaconesses tortured for their faith within ten years of St.
  John's death is an interesting confirmation of the faith. It would
  be instructive to trace back the connexion of the second-century
  martyrs who have been well authenticated, with the Churches
  founded by the apostles. Justin Martyr suffered, for instance, at
  Rome about A.D. 165. With him there died Hierax, who had been born
  of Christian parents at Iconium. His grandfather might have been
  converted by St. Paul. In his examination he dwells upon the fact
  that he had been born of believing parents. See Ruinart's _Acta
  Sincera_, p. 44, a translation of which passage will be found in
  the works of Justin Martyr, in Clark's Series of Ante-Nicene

  [141] See this sermon in Taylor's works, vol. viii., Ed. C. P.
  Eden (London, 1850). On p. 380 we find the following eloquent and
  profound passage bearing on this point: "Lastly there is a sort of
  God's dear servants who walk in perfectness, who perfect holiness
  in the fear of God, and they have a degree of charity and divine
  knowledge more than we can discourse of, and more certain than the
  demonstrations of geometry, brighter than the sun and indeficient
  as the light of heaven. This is called by the Apostle the
  ἀπαύγασμα τοῦ θεοῦ. Christ is this 'brightness of God' manifested
  in the hearts of His dearest servants. But I shall say  no more of
  this at this time, for this is to be felt and not to be talked of;
  and they that have never touched it with their finger, may secretly
  perhaps laugh at it in their heart, and be never the wiser. All
  that I have now to say of it is, that a good man is united unto
  God, κέντρον κέντρῳ συνάψας, as a flame touches a flame and combines
  into splendour and glory; so is the spirit of a man united unto
  Christ by the Spirit of God. These are the friends of God, and
  they best know God's mind, and they only that are so know how much
  such men do know. They have a special unction from above."

Then again, and lastly, we note the slow progress of the gospel as
shown to us by this incident at Troas. Here we are a good twenty years
after the Crucifixion, and yet the chief ministers and leaders of the
Church had not yet crossed into Europe. There were sporadic Churches
here and there. At Rome and at possibly a few Italian seaports, whence
intercourse with Palestine was frequent, there were small Christian
communities; but Macedonia and Greece were absolutely untouched up to
the present. We are very apt to overrate the progress of the gospel
during those first days of the Church's earliest Church life. We are
inclined to view the history of the Church of the first three
centuries all on an heap as it were. We have much need to distinguish
century from century and decennium from decennium. The first ten years
of the Church's history saw the gospel preached in Jerusalem and
Palestine, but not much farther. The second decennium saw it
proclaimed to Asia Minor; but it is only when the third decennium is
opening that Christ despatches a formal mission to that Europe where
the greatest triumphs of the gospel were afterwards to be won.
Ignorance and prejudice and narrow views had been allowed to hinder
the progress of the gospel then, as they are hindering the progress of
the gospel still; and an express record of this has been handed down
to us in this typical history in order that if we too suffer the same
we may not be astonished as if some strange thing had happened, but
may understand that we are bearing the same burden and enduring the
same trials as the New Testament saints have borne before us.



     "The jailor called for lights, and sprang in, and, trembling for
     fear, fell down before Paul and Silas, and said, Sirs, what must
     I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus, and
     thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house"--ACTS xvi. 29-31.

     "When they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came
     to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: and Paul, as
     his custom was, went in unto them, and for three Sabbath days
     reasoned with them from the Scriptures.... And the brethren
     immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night into Berœa: who
     when they were come thither went into the synagogue of the
     Jews."--ACTS xvii. 1, 2, 10.

Troas was at this time the termination of St. Paul's Asiatic travels.
He had passed diagonally right through Asia Minor, following the great
Roman roads which determined his line of march. From Troas he
proceeded to Philippi, and for exactly the same reason. All the great
roads formed under the emperors down to the time of Constantine the
Great led to Rome. When the seat of empire was moved to
Constantinople, all the Asiatic roads converged upon that city; but in
St. Paul's day Rome was the world's centre of attraction, and thither
the highways all tended. This fact explains St. Paul's movements. The
Egnatian Road was one of the great channels of communication
established for State purposes by Rome, and this road ran from
Neapolis, where St. Paul landed, through Philippi on to Dyrrachium, a
port on the Adriatic, whence the traveller took ship to Brundusium,
the modern Brindisi, and thence reached Rome. What a striking
commentary we find in this simple fact upon the words of St. Paul in
Galatians iv. 4: "When the fulness of the time came God sent forth His
Son." Roman dominion involved much suffering and war and bloodshed,
but it secured the network of communication, the internal peace, and
the steady, regular government which now covered Europe as well as
Asia, and thus for the first time in the world's history rendered the
diffusion of the gospel possible, as St. Paul's example here shows.
The voyage from Troas to Neapolis was taken by the Apostle after the
usual fashion of the time.[142] Neapolis was the port of Philippi,
whence it is distant some eight miles. Travellers from the East to
Rome always landed there, and then took the Egnatian Road which
started from Neapolis. If they were official persons they could use
the public postal service, post-houses being established at a distance
of six miles from one another, where relays of horses were kept at the
public expense, to carry persons travelling on the imperial
service.[143] Paul and Silas, Timothy and Luke, must, however, have
travelled on foot along the Egnatian Road from Neapolis to Philippi,
which was their first objective point, according to St. Paul's usual
policy, of attacking large and important centres of population, and
then leaving the sacred leaven to work out into the surrounding mass
of paganism. Philippi amply rewarded the wisdom of his plan, and the
Philippian Church became notable for its zeal, its faith, its
activity, among the Churches which owed their origin to the Apostle,
as we learn from the Epistles addressed to the Corinthians and to the
Philippians themselves a short time after the foundation of the
Philippian Church.

  [142] Both Lewin and Conybeare and Howson in their _Lives of St.
  Paul_ enter into great details about the scenery and other
  circumstances of St. Paul's voyage from Troas to Neapolis, which
  would be out of place in this commentary, even if space did allow
  their insertion. Mr. Lewin's account is specially interesting, as
  he gives the impressions made upon himself when going over the
  ground. These writers all point out that St. Paul must have
  travelled with a fair wind; Conybeare and Howson even try to
  determine its exact direction, which they maintain was from the
  southward. Otherwise he could not have made the passage in two
  days, or followed the course actually taken. On a subsequent
  occasion (Acts xx. 6) St. Paul took five days in sailing from
  Philippi to Troas.

  [143] Posts for the conveyance of intelligence were established by
  Augustus (see Suetonius, _Aug._, 49). Gibbon, in the second
  chapter of his _History_, has much information on this point. The
  reader curious in such matters will find a learned account of the
  Roman postal service in Godefroy's _Commentary on the Theodosian
  Code_, vol. ii., p. 526, where he traces the system down from
  Augustus to the year 400 A.D. It was somewhat similar to that
  which now prevails in Russia. An interesting story is told
  concerning Constantine the Great, which illustrates the system.
  During the Diocletian persecution Constantine, whose leanings
  towards Christianity were suspected, was residing in Asia Minor
  with the Emperor Galerius, the determined enemy of Christianity.
  Constantine knew that there was a plot against him, so, having
  obtained the authority necessary to use the post, he fled secretly
  one night, and as he rode along took fresh horses, and at the same
  time brought the tired animals with him. When his enemies followed
  him next day, they found the post stables empty, and their prey
  escaped without any possibility of pursuit. See _Dict. Christ.
  Biog._, vol. i., p. 526, Art. Constantinus I., and De Broglie,
  _L'Église et L'Empire_, vol. i., p. 192.

Now let us look at the circumstances under which that foundation was
laid. To understand them we must go back upon the course of history.
Philippi was a city built by King Philip, the father of Alexander the
Great. After the conquest of Macedonia by the Romans, it became famous
as the scene of the great battle between Brutus and Cassius on the one
hand, and Mark Antony and Augustus on the other, which decided the
fate of the empire and influenced the course of the world's history as
few other battles have done. At the time of St. Paul's visit the
memory of that battle was fresh, and the outward and visible signs
thereof were to be seen on every side, as indeed some of them are
still to be seen, the triumphal arches, for instance, erected in
memory of the victory and the mound or rampart of earth raised by
Brutus to hinder the advance of the opposing forces.[144] But these
things had for the holy travellers a very slight interest, as their
hearts were set upon a mightier conflict and a nobler war far than any
ever before waged upon earth's surface. There is no mention made in
the sacred narrative of the memories connected with the place, and yet
St. Luke, as an honest writer setting down facts of which he had
formed an important part, lets slip some expressions which involve and
throw us back upon the history of the place for an explanation,
showing how impossible it is to grasp the full force and meaning of
the sacred writers unless we strive to read the Bible with the eyes of
the people who lived at the time and for whom it was written. St. Luke
calls Philippi "a city of Macedonia, the first of the district, a
colony." Now this means that in that time it was situated in the Roman
province of Macedonia, that it was either the capital of the division
of Macedonia, in which it was situated, Macedonia being subdivided
into four distinct divisions which were kept perfectly separate, or
else that it was the first city the traveller met upon entering
Macedonia from Asia, and further that it was a Roman colony, and thus
possessed peculiar privileges. When we read in the Bible of colonies
we must not understand the word in our modern sense. Colonies were
then simply transcripts of the original city whence they had come.
Roman colonies were miniatures or copies of Rome itself transplanted
into the provinces, and ruling as such amid the conquered races where
they were placed. They served a twofold purpose. They acted as
garrisons to restrain the turbulence of the neighbouring tribes; and
if we study Roman geography carefully we shall find that they were
always placed in neighbourhoods where their military importance is
plainly manifest; and further still, they were used as convenient
places to locate the veteran soldiers of Italy who had served their
time, where they were rewarded with grants of land, and were utilising
at the same time the skill and experience in military matters which
they had gained, for the general benefit of the State.

  [144] The remains of this rampart still exist. They are described
  in the _Mission Archéologique de Macédoine_, p. 103, carried out
  under the direction of M. Leon Heuzey, by order of Napoleon III.,
  and published at Paris between 1864 and 1876.

Augustus made Philippi into a colony, erecting a triumphal arch to
celebrate his victory over Brutus, and placing there a large
settlement of his veterans who secured for him this important outpost.
The colonies which were thus dispersed along the military frontier, as
we should put it in modern language, were specially privileged. All
the settlers were Roman citizens, and the government of the colony was
like that of the mother city itself, in the hands of two magistrates,
called in Greek Strategoi, or in Latin Prætors,[145] who ruled
according to the laws of the Twelve Tables and after Roman methods,
though perhaps all the neighbouring cities were still using their
ancient laws and customs handed down from times long prior to the
Roman Conquest. The details given us by St. Luke are in the strictest
accordance in all these respects with the facts which we know
independently concerning the history and political status of Philippi.

  [145] The proper official title of the highest magistrates of a
  colony was Duumviri. The colonies where a Greek spirit prevailed
  did not like this title, and called themselves Prætors, or
  Στρατηγοί, as in the case of Philippi. In exact accordance with
  St. Luke's usage Cicero, a century earlier, tells us in one of his
  Epistles, speaking of the vanity of Capua, which was thoroughly
  Greek in spirit, and therefore very vain: "While in other colonies
  the magistrates are called Duumviri, these wish themselves to be
  styled Prætors," a weakness laughed at in Horace's _Satires_, lib.
  i., v. 34-6. Dion Chrysostom, a Greek rhetorician of St. Paul's
  day, mocks the Greeks for the same flashy spirit.

St. Paul and his companions arrived in Philippi in the early part of
the week. He was by this time a thoroughly experienced traveller. Five
years later, when writing his Second Epistle to Corinth, he tells us
that he had been already three times shipwrecked; so that, unless
peculiarly unfortunate, he must have already made extended and
repeated sea voyages, though up to the present we have only heard of
the journeys from Antioch to Cyprus, from Cyprus to Perga, and from
Attaleia back to Antioch.[146] A two days' voyage across the fresh and
rolling waters of the Mediterranean, following by a steep climb over
Mountain Pangæus which intervenes between Philippi and its port
Neapolis, made, however, a rest of a day or two very acceptable to the
Apostle and his friends. St. Paul never expected too much from his own
body, or from the bodies of his companions; and though he knew the
work of a world's salvation was pressing, yet he could take and enjoy
a well-earned holiday from time to time. There was nothing in St. Paul
of that eternal fussiness which we at times see in people of strong
imaginations but weak self-control, who, realising the awful amount of
woe and wickedness in the world, can never be at rest even for a
little. The men of God remained quiet therefore (ch. xvi. 12, 13) till
the Sabbath Day, when, after their usual custom, they sought out in
the early morning the Jewish place of worship, where St. Paul always
first proclaimed the gospel. The Jewish colony resident at Philippi
must have been a very small one. The Rabbinical rule was that where
ten wise men existed there a synagogue might be established.[147]
There cannot therefore have been ten learned, respectable, and
substantial Jews in Philippi competent to act as a local sanhedrin or
court. Where, however, the Jews could not establish a synagogue, they
did not live without any external expression of religion. They knew
how easily neglect of public worship is followed by practical atheism,
as we often see. Men may say indeed that God can be realised, and can
be worshipped anywhere,--a very great truth and a very precious one
for those who are unavoidably cut off from the public worship of the
Most High; but a truth which has no application to those who wilfully
cut themselves off from that worship which has the covenanted promise
of His presence. It is not a good sign for the young men of this
generation that so many of them utterly neglect public worship; for as
surely as men act so, then present neglect will be followed by a total
forgetfulness of the Eternal, and by a disregard of the laws which He
has established amongst men. The Jews at Philippi did not follow this
example; when they could not establish a synagogue they set apart an
oratory or Place of Prayer, whither they resorted on the Sabbath Day
to honour the God of their fathers, and to keep alive in their
children's hearts the memory of His laws and doings.[148]

  [146] The common pronunciation of Attaleia, or as it is spelt in
  the Authorised Version, Attalia, is with the ι short. The
  "i" represents, however, the Greek diphthong ει, and is

  [147] See Dr. John Lightfoot's _Horæ Hebraicæ_ on Matt. iv. 23;
  Works (London, 1684), vol. ii., pp. 132-34, for the Rabbinical
  legislation on Synagogues and their erection.

  [148] A local illustration of this typical Church history occurs
  to me. Oliver Cromwell planted Ireland, especially the golden vale
  of Tipperary, with his Puritan soldiers. They were strong
  Nonconformists, and refused therefore after the Restoration to
  worship according to the forms of the Established Church. Their
  children after a generation or two almost universally fell into
  the arms of the Church of Rome, and now many of the leading
  members of the National League are Roman Catholic descendants of
  Cromwell's Puritans, and display still the same vigorous qualities
  which adorned their Protestant ancestors in the copious abuse they
  pour upon the memory of the men from whom they are descended.

The original name of Philippi was Crenides, or Place of Streams.[149]
Beside one of these streams the Jews had placed their oratory, and
there St. Paul preached his first sermon in Europe and gained Lydia,
his first European convert, a Jewess by blood, a woman of Thyatira in
Asia Minor by birth, of Philippi in Macedonia by residence, and a dyer
in purple by trade.[150] The congregation of women assembled at that
oratory must have been a very small one. When Philippi did not afford
a sufficient Jewish population for the erection of a synagogue such as
was found among the smaller towns of Asia Minor, and such as we shall
in the course of the present tour find to have existed at towns and
cities of no great size in Greece and Macedonia, then we may be sure
that the female population, who assembled that Sabbath morning to pray
and listen to the Scriptures, must have been a small one. But St. Paul
and his companions had learned already one great secret of the true
evangelist's life. They never despised a congregation because of its
smallness. I have read somewhere in the writings of St. Francis de
Sales, Bishop of Geneva, a remark bearing on this point. De Sales was
an extreme Roman Catholic, and his mind was injured and his mental
views perverted in many respects by the peculiar training he thus
received. But still he was in many respects a very saintly man, and
his writings embody much that is good for every one. In one of his
letters which I have read he deals with this very point, and speaks of
the importance of small congregations, first, because they have no
tendency to feed the preacher's pride, but rather help to keep him
humble; and secondly, because some of the most effective and fruitful
sermons have been preached to extremely small congregations, two or
three persons at most, some one of whom has afterwards turned out to
be a most vigorous soldier of the Cross of Christ. The most effective
sermon perhaps that ever was preached was that delivered to Saul of
Tarsus when to him alone came the voice, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest
thou Me?" And here again, in the Philippian Oratory, the congregation
was but a small one, yet the Apostle despised it not. He and his
companions bent all their powers to the work, threw their whole hearts
into it, and as the result the Lord rewarded their earnest, thorough,
faithful service as He rewards such service in every department of
life's action. The Lord opened the heart of Lydia so that she attended
to the apostolic teaching, and she and all her household when duly
instructed became baptized disciples of Jesus of Nazareth.

  [149] I am here reminded of a place with exactly the same name
  which became as famous in the history of the Celtic Church as
  Philippi did in that of the Macedonian Church. Fore, in the county
  of Westmeath, means Place or Valley of Streams. It was celebrated
  in the seventh century as a great missionary establishment, at the
  head of which stood St. Fechin, a primitive Celtic missionary. His
  oratory, cell, and ancient church are still to be seen. I have
  described them in a paper contributed to the Journal of the
  Society of Irish Antiquaries for this year (1892). A comparison of
  St. Paul's missionary methods with those of St. Fechin would be
  interesting. They are fully described in Colgan's _Acts of the
  Irish Saints_.

  [150] The guild of dyers at Thyatira is celebrated in the
  inscriptions belonging to that city found in Bœckh's _Corpus
  Inscriptionum Græcarum_.

This was an important incident in the history of the Philippian
Church, and was attended by far-reaching results. Lydia herself, like
so many others of God's most eminent saints, disappears at once and
for ever from the scene. But her conversion was a fruitful one. St.
Paul and his friends continued quietly but regularly working and
teaching at the oratory. Lydia would seem to have been a widow, and
must have been a woman of some position in the little community; for
she was able to entertain the Apostle and his company as soon as she
embraced the faith and felt its exceeding preciousness. When inviting
them, too, she uses the language of a woman independent of all other
control. "If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into
my house and abide there," are words with the tone of one who as a
widow owned no superior, and whose will was law within her own
household; as well as the language of a woman who felt that the gospel
she had embraced demanded and deserved the consecration to its service
of all her worldly possessions. Previously to this conversion St. Paul
had lived in hired lodgings, but now he moved to Lydia's residence,
abiding there, and thence regularly worshipping at the Jewish oratory.
The presence of these Jewish strangers soon attracted attention. Their
teaching too got noised abroad, exaggerated doubtless and distorted
after the manner of popular reports. And the crowd were ready to be
suspicious of all Eastern foreigners. The settlers in the colony of
Philippi belonged to the rural population of Italy, who, after the
manner of countrified folk of every generation, were a good way
behind, for good or ill, their city brethren. The excavations made at
Philippi have brought to light the fact that the colonists there were
worshippers of the primitive Italian rustic gods, specially of the god
Silvanus, eschewing the fashionable Greek deities, Jupiter, Juno,
Venus, Diana, Apollo, and such like. A temple of Silvanus was erected
at Philippi for the hardy Italian veterans, and numerous inscriptions
have been found and have been duly described by the French Mission in
Macedonia to which we have already referred, telling of the building
of the temple and of the persons who contributed towards it.[151]
These simple Western soldiers were easily prejudiced against the
Eastern strangers by reports spread concerning their doctrines, and
specially concerning the Jewish King, of whose kingdom they were the
heralds. Political considerations were at once raised. We can scarcely
now realise the suspicions which must have been roused against the
early preachers of Christianity by the very language they used. Their
sacramental language concerning the body and blood of Christ, the
language of Christian love and union which they used, designating
themselves brethren and sisters, caused for more than two centuries
the dissemination of the most frightful rumours concerning the
horrible nature of Christian love-feasts. They were accused of
cannibalism and of the most degraded and immoral practices; and when
we take up the Apologists of the second century, Justin Martyr and
such like, we shall find that the efforts of these men are largely
directed to the refutation of such dreadful charges.[152] And as it
was in morals so was it too in politics. The sacred and religious
language of the Christians caused them to be suspected of designs
hostile to the Roman Government. The apostles preached about a King
who ruled the kingdom of God. Now the Romans abhorred the very name
and title of king, which they associated with the cruel acts of the
early tyrants who reigned in the times of Rome's fabulous antiquity.
The hostility to the title was so great that, though the Roman people
endured a despotism much worse and crushing at the hands of the
Cæsars, they never would allow them to assume the title of kings, but
simply called them emperors, imperators or commanders of the army, a
name which to their ears connoted nothing savouring of the kingly
office, though for moderns the title of emperor expresses the kingly
office and much more. The colonists in Philippi, being Italians, would
feel these prejudices in their full force. Easterns indeed would have
had no objection to the title of king, as we see from the cry raised
by the mob of Jerusalem when they cried in reference to Christ's
claim, "We have no king but Cæsar." But the rough and rude Roman
veterans, when they heard vague reports of St. Paul's teaching to the
Jews who met at the oratory by the river-side, quite naturally mistook
the nature of his doctrine, and thought that he was simply a political
agitator organising a revolt against imperial authority.[153] An
incident which then occurred fanned the slumbering embers into a
flame. There was a female slave the property of some crafty men who by
her means traded on the simplicity of the colonists. She was possessed
with a spirit of divination. What the nature of this spirit was we
have not the means of now determining. Some would resolve it into mere
epilepsy, but such an explanation is not consistent with St. Paul's
action and words. He addressed the spirit, "I charge thee in the name
of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And the spirit, we are told, came
out that very hour. The simple fact is that psychology is at the best
a very obscure science, and the mysteries of the soul a very puzzling
region, even under the Christian Dispensation and surrounded by the
spiritual blessings of the kingdom of God. But paganism was the
kingdom of Satan, where he ruled with a power and freedom he no longer
enjoys, and we can form no conception of the frightful disturbances
Satanic agency may have raised amid the dark places of the human
spirit. Without attempting explanations therefore, which must be
insufficient, I am content to accept the statement of the sacred
writer, who was an eye-witness of the cure, that the spirit of
divination, the spirit of Python, as the original puts it, yielded
obedience to the invocation of the sacred Name which is above every
name, leaving the damsel's inner nature once more calm and at union
within itself. This was the signal for a riot. The slave owners
recognised that their hopes of gain had fled. They were not willing to
confess that these despised Jews possessed a power transcending far
that which dwelt in the human instrument who had served their covetous
purposes. They may have heard, it may be, of the tumults excited about
this same time by the Jews at Rome and of their expulsion from the
capital by the decree of the Emperor, so the owners of the slave-girl
and the mob of the city dragged the Apostles before the local Duumvirs
and accused them of like disturbances: "These men, being Jews, do
exceedingly trouble our city, and set forth customs which it is not
lawful for us to receive or to observe, being Romans." The accusation
was sufficient. No proof was demanded, no time for protest allowed.
The magistrates with their own hands dragged the clothes off the backs
of the Apostles, and they were flogged at once by the lictors or
sergeants, as our translation calls them, in attendance upon the
Duumvirs, who then despatched their victims to the common prison.
Here a question may be raised, Why did not St. Paul save himself by
protesting that he was a Roman citizen, as he did subsequently at
Jerusalem when he was about to be similarly treated? Several
explanations occur. The colonists were Italians and spoke Latin. St.
Paul spoke Hebrew and Greek, and though he may have known Latin too,
his Latin may not have been understood by these rough Roman soldiers.
The mob again was excited, and when a mob gets excited it is but very
little its members attend to an unfortunate prisoner's words. We know
too, not only from St. Paul's own words, but from the testimony of
Cicero himself, in his celebrated oration against Verres, that in
remote districts this claim was often disregarded, even when urged by
Italians, and much more when made by despised Jews. St. Paul tells us
in 2 Cor. xi. 25, that he received three Roman floggings
notwithstanding his Roman citizenship, and though the Philippian
magistrates were afraid when they heard next day of the illegal
violence of which they had been guilty, the mob, who could not be held
accountable, probably took right good care that St. Paul's protest
never reached the official ears to which it was addressed. These
considerations sufficiently account for the omission of any notice of
a protest on the Apostle's part. He simply had not the opportunity,
and then when the tumultuous scene was over Paul and Silas were
hurried off to the common dungeon, where they were secured in the
stocks and thrust into the innermost prison as notorious and
scandalous offenders.

  [151] See Leon Heuzey's _Mission Archéologique de Macédoine_, p.
  71 (Paris, 1864-76). One tablet found furnishes a list of
  benefactions. One man gives a bronze statue of the deity, another
  helps to roof the building. Another tablet gives a list of the
  officials of the temple worship. Curiously enough among these
  officials occur names well known to us from St. Paul's Epistles,
  as Crescens, Secundus, Trophimus, Aristarchus, Pudens, Urbanus,
  and Clemens: cf. the Philippian inscriptions in the _Corpus
  Inscriptionum Latinarum_, vol. iii., par. i., pp. 120-28. Among
  these rude Italian veterans, unspoilt by the glitter and vices of
  Greek idolatry and civilisation, the Cross may have found out many
  true soldiers of Jesus Christ: see Lewin's _St. Paul_, vol. i., p.
  210. It is interesting to notice that a similar set of tablets
  commemorating the benefactors of the temple of Diana at Ephesus
  was discovered in the excavations made twenty years ago at that
  place. The inscriptions are translated in the Appendix to Wood's

  [152] See, for instance, Justin Martyr's _First Apology_, ch.
  xxix., _Second Apology_, ch. xii., and Athenagoras' _Apology_,
  chs. xxxi.-xxxv. These passages will be found in Justin Martyr and
  Athenagoras as translated in T. & T. Clark's Ante-Nicene Series,
  pp. 32, 81, 415-19.

  [153] This political prejudice against Christianity lasted into
  the second century: see the _First Apology_ of Justin Martyr, ch.
  xi.: "When you hear that we look for a kingdom, you suppose,
  without making any inquiry, that we speak of a human kingdom;
  whereas we speak of that which is with God, as appears also from
  the confession of their faith made by those who are charged with
  being Christians, though they know that death is the punishment
  awarded to him who so confesses"; words which imply that in
  Justin's day many had been martyred on mere political accusations.

No ill-treatment could, however, destroy that secret source of joy and
peace which St. Paul possessed in his loved Master's conscious
presence. "I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in
necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake," is his
own triumphant expression when looking back a few years later over the
way by which the Lord had led him, and therefore at midnight the
astonished prisoners heard the inner dungeon ringing with unwonted
songs of praise raised by the Jewish strangers. An earthquake, too,
lent its terrors to the strange scene, shaking the prison to its
foundations and loosing the staples to which the prisoners' chains
were fastened. The jailor, roused from sleep, and seeing the prison
doors opened wide, would have committed suicide were it not for Paul's
restraining and authoritative voice; and then the astonished official,
who must have heard the strange rumours to which the words of the
demoniac alluded--"These men are the servants of the Most High God,
which proclaim unto you the way of salvation"--rushed into the
presence of the Apostles crying out in words which have ever since
been famous, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" to which the equally
famous answer was given, "Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be
saved, thou and thy house." The jailor then took the Apostles, bathed
their bruised bodies, set food before them, gathered his household to
listen to the glad tidings, which they received so rapidly and grasped
so thoroughly that they were at once baptized and enabled to rejoice
with that deep spiritual joy which an experimental knowledge of God
always confers. The jailor, feeling for the first time in his life the
peace which passeth all understanding, realised the truth which St.
Augustine afterwards embodied in the immortal words: "Thou, O God,
hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find
rest in Thee."[154]

  [154] Augustine's _Confessions_, i. 1.

Let us look for a little at the question of the jailor and the answer
of the Apostle. They are words very often used, and very often
misused. The jailor, when he rushed into St. Paul's presence crying
out "What must I do to be saved?" was certainly not the type of a
conscience-stricken sinner, convinced of his own sin and spiritual
danger, as men sometimes regard him. He was simply in a state of
fright and astonishment. He had heard that these Jewish prisoners
committed to him were preaching about some salvation which they had to
offer. The earthquake seemed to him the expression of some deity's
wrath at their harsh treatment, and so in his terror he desires to
know what he must do to be saved from this wrath. His words were
notable, but they were not Christian words, for he had yet much to
learn of the nature of sin and the nature of the salvation from it
which the Apostles were preaching. The Philippian jailor was a
specimen of those who are saved violently and by fear. Terror forced
him into communion with the Apostles, broke down the barriers which
hindered the approach of the Word, and then the power of the Holy
Ghost, working through St. Paul, effected the remainder, opening his
eyes to the true character of salvation and his own profound need of
it. St. Paul's words have been misunderstood. I have heard them
addressed to a Christian congregation and explained as meaning that
the jailor had nothing to do but just realise Christ Jesus as his
Saviour, whereupon he was perfect and complete so far as the spiritual
life was concerned; and then they were applied to the congregation
present as teaching that, as it was with the jailor, so was it with
all Christians; they have simply to believe as he did, and then they
have nothing more to do,--a kind of teaching which infallibly
produces antinomian results.[155] Such an explanation ignores the
fact that there is a great difference between the jailor, who was not
a Christian in any sense and knew nothing about Christ when he flung
himself at St. Paul's feet, and a Christian congregation, who know
about Christ and believe in Him. But this explanation is still more
erroneous. It misrepresents what St. Paul meant and what his hearers
understood him to mean. What did any ordinary Jew or any ordinary
pagan with whom St. Paul came in contact understand him to mean when
he said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved"? They
first had to ask him who Jesus Christ was, whence He had come, what He
had taught, what were the obligations of His religion. St. Paul had to
open out to them the nature of sin and salvation, and to explain the
obligation and blessing of the sacrament of baptism as well as the
necessity of bodily holiness and purity. The initial sacrament of
baptism must have held a foremost place in that midnight colloquy or
conference concerning Christian truth. St. Paul was not the man to
perform a rite of which his converts understood nothing, and to which
they could attach no meaning. "Believe on the Lord Jesus" involved
repentance and contrition and submission to Christian truth, and these
things involved the exposition of Christian truth, history, doctrines,
and duties.

  [155] See more on this point in vol. i., pp. 134-37, where I have
  given conclusive proofs of the misuse of this text from the
  writers of the seventeenth century.

This text, "Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved," is
often quoted in one-sided and narrow teaching to show that man has
nothing to do to be saved. Of course in one sense this is perfectly
true. We can do nothing _meritoriously_ towards salvation; from first
to last our salvation is all of God's free grace; but then, viewing
the matter from the human side, we have much to do to be saved. We
have to repent, to seek God for ourselves, to realise Christ and His
laws in our life, to seek after that holiness without which no man
shall see the Lord. There were two different types of men who at
different times addressed practically the same inquiry to the
Apostles. They were both outside the Church, and they were both
seekers blindly after God. The Jews on the day of Pentecost said,
"Brethren, what shall we do?" and Peter replied, "Repent ye, and be
baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, unto the
remission of your sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy
Ghost." Such was apostolic teaching to the Jews of Jerusalem. The
jailer demanded, "What must I do to be saved?" and St. Paul replied,
"Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved." Such was
apostolic teaching to an ignorant pagan at Philippi; more concise than
the Jerusalem answer, but meaning the same thing, and involving
precisely the same doctrines in the hands of such a great master of
the spiritual life as was the Apostle of the Gentiles.[156]

  [156] Mr. Sadler, in his Commentary on the Acts, treating of this
  passage has a long explanation identical in meaning with that
  which we have above urged. He says, for instance, p. 314: "This
  statement of the way of salvation is one of the most important in
  the New Testament. It contains the seed of the whole body of
  apostolic doctrine respecting salvation by Christ. When I say
  apostolic, I mean the doctrine of SS. Peter and John, as well as
  of St. Paul; for all being full of the Holy Ghost preached the
  same. Few places have been more perverted in order to uphold a
  heresy which, if St. Paul had been alive now, he would have
  abhorred, and denounced as fatal to the whole revelation of the
  Son of God, and that is antinomianism.... The Philippian jailor to
  whom the words were first addressed had never in all probability
  heard the name of Jesus Christ before.... 'Believe on the Lord
  Jesus Christ' then meant to him, 'Believe on Him whom we are now
  about to set forth to thee.' And they there and then began to set
  Him forth, for they spake unto him 'the word of the Lord.'... This
  Word must have shown him how--on what principle--he could exercise
  faith in Him so as to be saved. But did they call on him in his
  then state to believe anything respecting the Church and the
  sacraments of Christ? Unquestionably; for St. Paul would certainly
  not baptize a man who was totally ignorant of the grace of union
  with Christ which he would receive, and the obligations to serve
  Christ which he would come under, by being baptized."

The remainder of the story is soon told. When the morning came there
came quiet reflection with it as far as the magistrates were
concerned. They became conscious of their illegal conduct, and they
sent their lictors to order the release of the Apostles. St. Paul now
stood upon his rights. His protest had been disregarded by the mob. He
now claimed his rights as a Roman citizen. "They have beaten us
publicly, uncondemned men, that are Romans, and have cast us into
prison; and do they now cast us out privily? Nay, verily; but let them
come themselves and bring us out." These are St. Paul's words, and
they are brave, and at the same time wise words. They were brave words
because it took a strong man to send back such an answer to
magistrates who had treated him so outrageously only the day before.
They were wise words, for they give us an apostle's interpretation of
our Lord's language in the Sermon upon the Mount concerning the
non-resistance of evil, and show us that in St. Paul's estimation
Christ's law did not bind a man to tolerate foul injustice. Such
toleration, in fact, is very wrong if it can be helped; because it is
simply an encouragement to the wicked doers to treat others in the
same scandalous manner. Toleration of outrage and injustice is unfair
and uncharitable towards others, if they can be lawfully redressed or
at least apologised for. It is a Christian man's duty to bring public
evil-doers and tyrants, instruments of unrighteousness like these
Duumvirs of Philippi, to their senses, not for his own sake, but in
order that he may prevent the exercise of similar cruelties against
the weaker brethren. We may be sure that the spirited action of St.
Paul, compelling these provincial magnates to humble themselves before
the despised strangers, must have had a very wholesome effect in
restraining them from similar violence during the rest of their term
of office.

Such was St. Paul's stay at Philippi. It lasted a considerable time,
and made its mark, as a flourishing Church was established there, to
which he addressed an Epistle when he lay the first time a captive at
Rome. This Epistle naturally forms a most interesting commentary on
the notices of the Philippian visit in the Acts of the Apostles, a
point which is worked out at large in Bishop Lightfoot's Commentary on
Philippians and in Paley's _Horæ Paulinæ_. The careful student of Holy
Writ will find that St. Paul's letter and St. Luke's narrative when
compared illuminate one another in a wondrous manner. We cannot afford
space to draw out this comparison in detail, and it is the less
necessary to do so as Dr. Lightfoot's writings are so generally
accessible. Let us, however, notice one point in this Epistle to the
Philippians, which was written about the same time (a few months
previously, in fact) as the Acts of the Apostles. It corroborates the
Acts as to the circumstances under which the Church of Philippi was
founded. St. Paul in the Epistle refers again and again to the
persecutions and afflictions of the Philippian Church, and implies
that he was a fellow-sufferer with them.[157] St. Paul dwells on this
in the beginning of the Epistle in words whose force cannot be
understood unless we grasp this fact. In the sixth verse of the first
chapter he expresses himself as, "Confident of this very thing, that
He which began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of
Jesus Christ: even as it is right for me to be thus minded on behalf
of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as, both in my
bonds and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are
partakers with me of grace." St. Paul speaks of the Philippians as
personally acquainted with chains and sufferings and prison-houses for
Christ's sake, and regards these things as a proof of God's grace
vouchsafed not only to the Apostle, but also to the Philippians; for
St. Paul was living at that high level when he could view bonds and
trials and persecutions as marks of the Divine love. In the
twenty-eighth verse of the same chapter he exhorts them to be in no
wise "affrighted by the adversaries," and in the next two describes
them as persons to whom "it hath been granted in the behalf of Christ,
not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer in His behalf: having
the same conflict which ye _saw_ in me, and now hear to be in me,"
words which can only refer to the violence and afflictions which they
witnessed as practised against himself, and which they were now
themselves suffering in turn. While to complete St. Paul's references
we notice that in an Epistle written some five years later than his
first visit to Philippi he expressly refers to the persecutions which
the Philippian Church in common with all the Macedonian Churches seems
to have suffered from the very beginning. In 2 Cor. viii. 1, 2, he
writes: "Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God
which hath been given in the Churches of Macedonia; how that _in much
proof of affliction_ the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty
abounded unto the riches of their liberality." Now all these passages
put together confirm for us what the Acts expressly affirms, that from
the very outset of their Christian career the Philippian Church had
endured the greatest trials, and experienced a fellowship in the
Apostle's sufferings. And surely we may see in the character of the
Philippian Epistle something eminently characteristic of this
experience! It has been remarked that the Philippian Epistle is the
only Epistle addressed to a Church in which there is no trace of blame
or reproof. Temptation and trial and chastisement had there worked
their appointed purpose. The Philippian Church had been baptized in
blood, and grounded in afflictions, and purified by the cleansing
fires of persecution, and consequently the tried Church gathered
itself closer to its Divine Lord, and was perfected above all others
in His likeness, and profited above all others in the Divine

  [157] Bishop Lightfoot (_Philippians,_ p. 57) says: "St. Paul's
  first visit to Philippi closed abruptly amid the storm of
  persecution. It was not to be expected that where the life of the
  teacher had been so seriously endangered, the scholars would
  escape all penalties. The Apostle left behind him a legacy of
  suffering to this newly born Church. This is not a mere
  conjecture; the affliction of the Macedonian Christians, and of
  the Philippians especially, are more than once mentioned in St.
  Paul's Epistles (cf. 1 Thess. ii. 2). If it was their privilege to
  believe in Christ, it was equally their privilege to suffer for

  [158] Bishop Lightfoot, in his _Commentary on Philippians, l.c._,
  dwells on this point: "The unwavering loyalty of his Philippian
  converts is the constant solace of the Apostle in his manifold
  trails, the one bright ray of happiness piercing the dark clouds
  which gather ever thicker about the evening of his life. They are
  his 'joy and crown, his brethren beloved and eagerly desired.'
  From them alone he consents to receive alms for the relief of his
  personal wants. To them alone he writes in language unclouded by
  any shadow of displeasure or disappointment."

After the terrible experience of Philippi Paul and Silas passed on to
other towns of the same province of Macedonia. The Apostle, however,
when quitting Philippi to do the same evangelistic work, breaking up
the ground in other towns after the manner of a pioneer, did not leave
the Church of Philippi devoid of wisest pastoral care. It is most
likely, as Dr. Lightfoot points out in the Introduction to his
Commentary on Philippians, that St. Luke was left behind to
consolidate the work which had been thus begun by such a noble
company. Then Paul and Silas and Timotheus proceeded to Thessalonica,
one hundred miles west, the capital of the province, where the
proconsul resided, and where was a considerable Jewish population, as
we see, not only from the fact that a synagogue is expressly said to
have existed there, but also because the Jews were able to excite the
city pagan mob against the Apostles and drag them before the local
magistrates.[159] St. Paul at Philippi had for the first time
experienced a purely pagan persecution. He had indeed previously
suffered at the hands of the heathen at Lystra, but they were urged on
by the Jews. At Philippi he gained his first glimpse of that long
vista of purely Gentile persecution through which the Church had to
pass till Christianity seated itself in the person of Constantine on
the throne of the Cæsars. But as soon as he got to Thessalonica he
again experienced the undying hostility of his Jewish fellow-countrymen
using for their wicked purposes the baser portion of the city
rabble.[160] St. Paul remained three weeks in Thessalonica teaching
privately and publicly the gospel message, without experiencing any
Jewish opposition. It is an interesting fact that to this day St.
Paul's visit to Thessalonica is remembered, and in one of the local
mosques, which was formerly the Church of Sancta Sophia, a marble
pulpit is shown, said to have been the very one occupied by the
Apostle, while in the surrounding plains trees and groves are pointed
out as marking spots where he tarried for a time. The Jews were at
last, however, roused to opposition, possibly because of St. Paul's
success among the Gentiles, who received his doctrines with such
avidity that there believed "of the devout Greeks a great multitude,
and of the chief women not a few." In Thessalonica, as elsewhere, the
spirit of religious selfishness, desiring to have gospel promises and
a Messiah all to themselves, was the ruin of the Jewish people. The
Jews therefore, assisted by the pagans, assaulted the residence of
Jason, with whom St. Paul and his friends were staying. They missed
the Apostles themselves, but they seized Jason and some of the
apostolic band, or at least some of their converts whom they found in
Jason's house, and brought them before the town magistrates, who,
acting under the eye of the resident proconsul, did not lend
themselves to any irregular proceedings like the Philippian prætors. A
charge of treason was formally brought against the prisoners: "These
all act contrary to the decrees of Cæsar, saying that there is another
King, one Jesus"; in the words of which charge we get a glimpse of the
leading topic on which the Apostles insisted. Jesus Christ, the
crucified, risen, glorified King and Head of His people, was the great
subject of St. Paul's teaching as it struck the heathen. The
Thessalonian magistrates acted very fairly. They entered the charge
which was a serious one in the eye of Roman law. Bail was then taken
for the accused and they were set free. The Apostles, however, escaped
arrest, and the local brethren determined that they should incur no
danger; so while the accused remained to stand their trial, Paul and
Silas and Timotheus were despatched to Berœa, where they were for a
time welcomed, and free discussion permitted in the synagogue
concerning the truths taught by the Evangelists. After a time,
however, tidings having reached Thessalonica, agents were despatched
to Berœa, who stirring up the Jewish residents, St. Paul was
despatched in charge of some trusty messengers who guided the steps of
the hunted servant of God to the city of Athens. We see the physical
infirmities of St. Paul, the difficulties he had to contend with,
hinted at in the fourteenth and fifteenth verses of the seventeenth
chapter. "Then immediately the brethren sent forth Paul," and "They
that conducted Paul brought him to Athens," words which give us a
glimpse of his fearfully defective eyesight. His enemies might be
pressing upon him and danger might be imminent, but he could make no
unaided effort to save himself. He depended upon the kindly help of
others that he might escape his untiring foes and find his way to a
place of safety.

  [159] Thessalonica is to this day the abode of a large Jewish
  population. Tozer, in his _Highlands of Turkey_, vol. i., p. 146,
  says: "Of the sixty thousand inhabitants of Salonica two-thirds
  are Jews, the rest being Turks and Greeks.... From early times the
  Hebrew race seem to have been attracted by the commercial
  advantages of Salonica. Thus when St. Paul preached there he found
  a considerable Jewish community.... A large number of the Salonica
  Jews are rich merchants, and a great part of the wealth of the
  place is in their hands." Mr. Lewin, in his _St. Paul_, vol. i.,
  p. 222, gives a table of the distances all along St. Paul's route.

  [160] Mr. Findlay, in a little work lately published, _The
  Epistles of Paul the Apostle_, has many valuable observations on
  the subject of the Jewish opposition experienced by the Apostle at

Thus ended St. Paul's first visit to Thessalonica so far as the Acts
of the Apostles is concerned; but we have interesting light thrown
upon it from an Epistle which St. Paul himself wrote to the
Thessalonians soon after his departure from amongst them. A comparison
of First Thessalonians with the text of the Acts will furnish the
careful student with much information concerning the circumstances of
that notable visit, just as we have seen that the text of the
Philippian Epistle throws light upon his doings at Philippi. The
Thessalonian Epistles are more helpful even than the Philippians in
this respect, because they were written only a few months after St.
Paul's visit to Thessalonica, while years elapsed, eight or ten at
least, before the Philippian Epistle was indited. First Thessalonians
shows us, for instance, that St. Paul's visit to Thessalonica lasted a
considerable time. In the Acts we read of his discussing in the
synagogue three Sabbath days, and then it would appear as if the riot
was raised which drove him to Berœa and Athens. The impression left
on our minds by St. Luke's narrative is that St. Paul's labours were
almost entirely concentrated upon the Jews in Thessalonica, and that
he bestowed very little attention indeed upon the pagans. The Epistle
corrects this impression. When we read the first chapter of First
Thessalonians we see that it was almost altogether a church of
converted idolaters, not of converted Jews. St. Paul speaks of the
Thessalonians as having turned from idols to serve the living God; he
refers to the instructions on various points like the resurrection,
the ascension, the second coming of Christ, which he had imparted,
and describes their faith and works as celebrated throughout all
Macedonia and Achaia. A large and flourishing church like that,
composed of former pagans, could not have been founded in the course
of three weeks, during which time St. Paul's attention was principally
bestowed on the Jewish residents. Then too, when we turn to
Philippians iv. 16, we find that St. Paul stayed long enough in
Thessalonica to receive no less than two remittances of money from the
brethren at Philippi to sustain himself and his brethren. His whole
attention too was not bestowed upon mission work; he spent his days
and nights in manual labour. In the ninth verse of the second chapter
of First Thessalonians he reminds them of the fact that he supported
himself in their city, "For ye remember, brethren, our labour and
travail: working night and day, that we might not burden any of you,
we preached unto you the gospel of God." When we realise these things
we shall feel that the Apostle must have spent at least a couple of
months in Thessalonica. It was perhaps his tremendous success among
the heathen which so stirred up the passions of the town mob as
enabled the Jews to instigate them to raise the riot, they themselves
keeping all the while in the background. St. Paul, in First
Thessalonians, describes the riots raised against the Christians as
being the immediate work of the pagans: "Ye, brethren, became
imitators of the Churches of God which are in Judæa in Christ Jesus.
For ye also suffered the same things of your own countrymen as they
did of the Jews"; a statement which is quite consistent with the
theory that the persecution was originally inspired by the Jews. But
we cannot further pursue this interesting line of inquiry which has
been thoroughly worked out by Mr. Lewin in vol. ii., ch. xi., by
Conybeare and Howson in ch. ix., and by Archdeacon Farrar, as well as
by Dr. Salmon in his _Introduction to the New Testament_, ch. xx. The
careful student will find in all these works most interesting light
reflected back upon the Acts from the apostolic letters, and will see
how thoroughly the Epistles, which were much the earlier documents,
confirm the independent account of St. Luke, writing at a subsequent

Before we terminate this chapter we desire to call attention to one
other point where the investigations of modern travel have helped to
illustrate the genuineness of the Acts of the Apostles. It has been
the contention of the rationalistic party that the Acts was a
composition of the second century, worked up by a clever forger out of
the materials at his command. There are various lines of proof by
which this theory can be refuted, but none appeal so forcibly to
ordinary men as the minute accuracy which marks it when describing the
towns of Asia Minor and Macedonia. Macedonia is a notable case. We
have already pointed out how the Acts give their proper title to the
magistrates of Philippi and recognise its peculiar constitution as a
colony. Thessalonica forms an interesting contrast to Philippi.
Thessalonica was a free city, like Antioch in Syria, Tarsus, and
Athens, and therefore, though the residence of the proconsul who ruled
the province of Macedonia, was governed by its own ancient magistrates
and its own ancient laws, without any interference on the part of the
proconsul. St. Luke makes a marked distinction between Philippi and
Thessalonica. At Philippi the Apostles were brought before the
prætors, at Thessalonica they were brought before the politarchs,[161]
a title strange to classical antiquity, but which has been found upon
a triumphal arch which existed till a few years ago across the main
street of the modern city of Thessalonica. That arch has now
disappeared; but the fragments containing the inscription were
fortunately preserved and have been now placed in the British Museum,
where they form a precious relic proving the genuineness of the sacred

  [161] This case of Thessalonica is an interesting illustration of
  Bishop Lightfoot's statement:--"The government of the Roman
  provinces at this time was peculiarly dangerous ground for the
  romance-writer to venture upon" (_Essays on Supernatural
  Religion_, p. 291). If the Roman provinces were a dangerous ground
  for a romance-writer, such as some critics would make the author
  of the Acts, the government of the large Græco-Roman towns and
  cities was still more dangerous, as scarcely any two successive
  ones were alike. Thessalonica is a good instance of this. St. Luke
  calls the magistrates politarchs, and the triumphal arch at
  Thessalonica calls them politarchs; a title which seems to have
  been a very rare one, as only one other instance of its occurrence
  has been discovered. Monastir, in the north-west of Macedonia, is
  an important town, and there an inscription belonging to the
  ancient Deuriopus, twelve miles distant, was found more than
  twenty years ago containing the same title, politarchs. Surely the
  stones out of the walls of Thessalonica and of Monastir cry out in
  defence of St. Luke's accuracy! See Mr. Tozer's _Highlands of
  Turkey_, vol. i., p. 145, and vol. ii., p. 358, Append. B;
  Bœckh's _Corp. Ins. Græc._, No. 1967; articles by the Abbé
  Belley in the _Acad. des Inscript._, xxxviii., p. 125, and by Mr.
  Vaux in the _Trans. of Roy. Soc. of Literature_, vol. viii., new



     "Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was
     provoked within him, as he beheld the city full of idols. So he
     reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons,
     and in the market-place every day with them that met with him.
     And certain also of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers
     encountered him. And some said, What would this babbler say?
     other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods:
     because he preached Jesus and the resurrection."--ACTS xvii.

     "After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to
     Corinth."--ACTS xviii. 1.

There are parallelisms in history which are very striking, and yet
these parallelisms can be easily explained. The stress and strain of
difficulties acting upon large masses of men evolve and call forth
similar types of character, and demand the exercise of similar powers.
St. Paul and St. Athanasius are illustrations of this statement. They
were both little men, both enthusiastic in their views, both pursued
all their lives long with bitter hostility, and both had experience of
the most marvellous and hairbreadth escapes. If any reader will take
up Dean Stanley's _History of the Eastern Church_, and read the
account given of St. Athanasius in the seventh chapter of that work,
he will be strikingly reminded of St. Paul in these various aspects,
but specially in the matter of his wondrous escapes from his deadly
enemies, which were so numerous that at last they came to regard
Athanasius as a magician who eluded their designs by the help of his
familiar spirits. It was much the same with St. Paul. Hairbreadth
escapes were his daily experience, as he himself points out in the
eleventh chapter of his Second Epistle to Corinth. He there enumerates
a few of them, but quite omits his escapes from Jerusalem, from the
Pisidian Antioch, from Iconium, Lystra, Thessalonica, and last of all
from Berœa, whence he was driven by the renewed machinations of the
Thessalonian Jews, who found out after a time whither the object of
their hatred had fled. Paul's ministry at Berœa was not fruitless,
short as it may have been. He established a Church there which took
good care of the precious life entrusted to its keeping, and therefore
as soon as the deputies of the Thessalonian synagogue came to Berœa
and began to work upon the Jews of the local synagogue, as well as
upon the pagan mob of the town, the Berœan disciples took Paul, who
was the special object of Jewish hatred, and despatched him down to
the sea-coast, some twenty miles distant, in charge of certain trusty
messengers, while Silas remained behind, in temporary concealment
doubtless, in order that he might consolidate the Church.[162] Here we
get a hint, a passing glimpse of St. Paul's infirmity. He was
despatched in charge of trusty messengers, I have said, who were to
show him the way. "They that conducted Paul brought him as far as
Athens." His ophthalmia, perhaps, had become specially bad owing to
the rough usage he had experienced, and so he could not escape all
solitary and alone as he did in earlier years from Damascus, and
therefore guides were necessary who should conduct him "as far as the
sea," and then, when they had got that far, they did not leave him
alone. They embarked in the ship with him, and, sailing to Athens,
deposited him safely in a lodging. The journey was by sea, not by
land, because a sea journey was necessarily much easier for the sickly
and weary Apostle than the land route would have been, offering too a
much surer escape from the dangers of pursuit.

  [162] It is well, perhaps, to bear in mind the distances which
  separate the various stages of St. Paul's progress through
  Macedonia. Thessalonica was about a hundred miles from Philippi,
  Berœa fifty from Thessalonica, and the sea-coast of the
  Thermaic Gulf, or the Gulf of Salonica, as it is now called, some
  twenty miles from Berœa.

The voyage was an easy one, and not too prolonged. The boat or ship in
which the Apostle was embarked passed through splendid scenery. On his
right hand, as he steered for the south, was the magnificent mountain
of Olympus, the fabled abode of the gods, rising a clear ten thousand
feet into the region of perpetual snow, while on his left was Mount
Athos, upon which he had been looking ever since the day that he left
Troas. But the Apostle had no eye for the scenery, nor had St. Luke a
word to bestow upon its description, though he often passed through
it, absorbed as they were in the contemplation of the awful realities
of a world unseen. The sea voyage from the place where St. Paul
embarked till he came to Phalerum, the port of Athens, where he
landed, lasted perhaps three or four days, and covered about two
hundred miles, being somewhat similar in distance, scenery, and
surroundings to the voyage from Glasgow to Dublin or Bristol, land in
both cases being in sight all the time and splendid mountain ranges
bounding the views on either side.[163]

  [163] The best description which I know of this neighbourhood is
  that given by Mr. Tozer in his _Highlands of Turkey_, vol. ii., p.
  8. St. Paul embarked at the head of the long, narrow gulf, called
  anciently the Thermaic Gulf, leading up to the city of
  Thessalonica. The Apostle must have sailed in a mere fishing smack
  or good-sized boat, as the iron-bound western coast of this gulf
  is devoid of harbours sufficient for large ships. Mr. Tozer
  himself sailed from Thessalonica in such a vessel, see _l.c._,
  vol. ii., p. 4: "We chartered a vessel to convey us down the bay,
  a six-oared Smyrna caïque, quite elegant in her appointments as
  compared with the ordinary lumbering market boats and coasters of
  these seas, and a tight little craft withal, for though not more
  than six feet in width, and without a deck, she had made a voyage
  to the Crimea during the war." Cicero, even when going as
  proconsul into Asia travelled in the "undecked vessel of the
  Rhodians," of whose weakness and slowness he complains: see his
  letters to Atticus, v. 12 and 13.

St. Paul landed about November 1st, 51, at Phalerum, one of the two
ports of ancient Athens, the Piræus being the other, and thence his
uncertain steps were guided to the city itself, where he was left
alone in some lodging. The Berœan Christians to whom he was
entrusted returned perhaps in the same vessel in which they had
previously travelled, as the winter season, when navigation largely
ceased, was now fast advancing, bearing with them a message to Timothy
and Silas to come as rapidly as possible to his assistance, the
Apostle being practically helpless when deprived of his trusted
friends. At Athens St. Paul for a time moved about examining the city
for himself, a process which soon roused him to action and brought
matters to a crisis. St. Paul was well used to pagan towns and the
sights with which they were filled. From his earliest youth in Tarsus
idolatry and its abominations must have been a pain and grief to him;
but Athens he found to exceed them all, so that "his spirit was
provoked within him as he beheld the city full of idols." We have in
ancient Greek literature the most interesting confirmation of the
statement here made by St. Luke. We still possess a descriptive
account of Greece written by a chatty Greek traveller named
Pausanias, in the days of the Antonines, that is, less than a hundred
years after St. Paul's visit, and when Athens was practically the same
as in the Apostle's day. Pausanias enters into the greatest details
about Athens, describing the statues of gods and heroes, the temples,
the worship, the customs of the people, bestowing the first thirty
chapters of his first book upon Athens alone. Pausanias's _Description
of Greece_[164] is most interesting to every one because he saw Athens
in the height of its literary glory and architectural splendour, and
it is specially interesting to the Bible student because it amply
confirms and illustrates the details of St. Paul's visit.

  [164] This important work may be most easily consulted in
  Shilleto's translation, published in Bohn's Classical Library,
  Bell & Sons, London, 1886.

Thus we are told in words just quoted that St. Paul found "the city
full of idols," and this provoked his spirit over and above the usual
provocation he received wherever he found dead idols like these
usurping the place rightfully belonging to the Lord of the universe.
Now let us take up Pausanias, and what does he tell us? In his first
chapter he tells how the ports of Athens were crowded on every side
with temples, and adorned with statues of gold and silver. Phalerum,
the port where Paul landed, had temples of Demeter, of Athene, of
Zeus, and "altars of gods unknown," of which we shall presently speak.
Then we can peruse chapter after chapter crowded with descriptions of
statues and temples, till in the seventeenth chapter we read how in
their pantheistic enthusiasm they idolised the most impalpable of
things: "The Athenians have in the market-place, among other things
not universally notable, an altar of Mercy, to whom, though most
useful of all the gods to the life of man and its vicissitudes, the
Athenians alone of all the Greeks assign honours. And not only is
philanthropy more regarded among them, but they also exhibit more
piety to the gods than others; for they have also an altar to Shame
and Rumour and Energy. And it is clear that those people who have a
larger share of piety than others have also a larger share of good
fortune." While again, in chapter xxiv., dwelling upon the statues of
Hercules and Athene, Pausanias remarks, "I have said before that the
Athenians, more than any other Greeks, have a zeal for religion."
Athens was, at the time of St. Paul's visit, the leading university of
the world, and university life then was permeated with the spirit of
paganism, the lovers of philosophy and science delighting to adorn
Athens with temples and statues and endowments as expressions of the
gratitude they felt for the culture which they had there gained.[165]
These things had, however, no charm for the Apostle Paul. Some
moderns, viewing him from an unsympathetic point of view, would
describe him in their peculiar language as a mere Philistine in
spirit, unable to recognise the material beauty and glory which lay
around. And this is true. The beauty which the architect and the
sculptor would admire was for the Apostle to a large extent
non-existent, owing to his defective eyesight; but even when
recognised it was an object rather of dislike and of abhorrence than
of admiration and pleasure, because the Apostle saw deeper than the
man of mere superficial culture and æsthetic taste. The Apostle saw
these idols and the temples consecrated to their use from the moral
and spiritual standpoint, and viewed them therefore as the outward and
visible signs of an inward festering corruption and rottenness, the
more beautiful perhaps because of the more awful decay which lay

  [165] The Emperor Hadrian, for instance, adorned Athens with
  expensive buildings and libraries, and enriched it with
  endowments. See Duhr's work, p. 44, on the _Journeys of the
  Emperor Hadrian_, published in the Proceedings of the
  Archæological Society of Vienna; and cf. Pausanias, i. 18.

The glimpses which St. Paul got of Athens as he wandered about roused
his spirit and quickened him to action. He followed his usual course
therefore. He first sought his own countrymen the Jews. There was a
colony of Jews at Athens, as we know from independent sources. Philo
was a Jew the authenticity of whose writings, at least in great part,
has never been questioned. He lived at Alexandria at this very period,
and was sent, about twelve years earlier, as an ambassador to Rome to
protest against the cruel persecutions to which the Alexandrian Jews
had been subjected at the time when Caligula made the attempt to erect
his statue at Jerusalem, of which we have spoken in a previous
chapter. He wrote an account of his journey to Rome and his treatment
by the Emperor, which is called _Legatio ad Caium_, and in it he
mentions Athens as one of the cities where a considerable Jewish
colony existed.[166] We know practically nothing more about this
Jewish colony save what we are told here by St. Luke, that it was
large enough to have a synagogue, not a mere oratory like the
Philippian Jews.[167] It cannot, however, have been a very large one.
Athens was not a seat of any considerable trade, and therefore had no
such attractions for the Jews as either Thessalonica or Corinth; while
its abounding idolatry and its countless images would be repellant to
their feelings. Modern investigations have, indeed, brought to light a
few ancient inscriptions testifying to the presence of Jews at Athens
in these earlier ages; but otherwise we know nothing about them. The
synagogue seems to have imbibed a good deal of the same easy-going
contemptuously tolerant spirit with which the whole atmosphere of
Athens was infected. Jews and pagans alike listened to St. Paul, and
then turned away to their own pursuits. In a city where every religion
was represented, and every religion discussed and laughed at, how
could any one be very much in earnest? St. Paul then turned from
the Jews to the Gentiles. He frequented the market-place, a
well-known spot, near to the favourite meeting-place of the Stoic
philosophers.[168] There St. Paul entered into discussion with
individuals or with groups as they presented themselves. The
philosophers soon took notice of the new-comer. His manner, terribly
in earnest, would soon have secured attention in any society, and much
more in Athens, where whole-souled and intense enthusiasm was the one
intellectual quality which was completely wanting. For who but a man
that had heard the voice of God and had seen the vision of the
Almighty could be in earnest in a city where residents and strangers
sojourning there all alike spent their time in nothing else but either
to tell or to hear some new thing? The philosophers and Stoics and
Epicureans alike were attracted by St. Paul's manner. They listened to
him as he discoursed of Jesus and the Resurrection, the two topics
which absorbed him. They mistook his meaning in a manner very natural
to the place, strange as it may seem to us. In Athens the popular
worship was thoroughly Pantheistic. Every desire, passion, infirmity
even of human nature was deified and adored, and therefore, as we have
already pointed out, Pity and Shame and Energy and Rumour, the last
indeed the most fitting and significant of them all for a people who
simply lived to talk, found spirits willing to prostrate themselves in
their service and altars dedicated to their honour. The philosophers
heard this new Jewish teacher proclaiming the virtues and blessings of
Jesus and the Resurrection, and they concluded Jesus to be one
divinity and the Resurrection another divinity, lately imported from
the mysterious East. The philosophers were the aristocracy of the
Athenian city, reverenced as the University professors in a German or
Scotch town, and they at once brought the new-comer before the court
of Areopagus, the highest in Athens, charged, as in the time of
Socrates, with the duty of supervising the affairs of the national
religion, and punishing all attacks and innovations thereon. The
Apostle was led up the steps or stairs which still remain, the judges
took their places on the rock-hewn benches, St. Paul was placed upon
the defendant's stone, called, as Pausanias tells us, the Stone of
Impudence, and then the trial began.

  [166] Any one wishing to consult the writings of this contemporary
  of St. Paul can find Philo's works translated into English in 4
  vols. in Bohn's Library of Ecclesiastical Antiquity. A comparison
  of St. Paul's writings with those of Philo will show us the
  wondrous superiority of those of the Christian Apostle, owing to
  his inspiration by the Holy Ghost. St. Paul's writings are a
  perpetual feast of fat things nourishing the soul unto everlasting
  life. The writings of Philo are curious and interesting, but no
  one would dream of taking them as a spiritual guide of life.

  [167] The Athenians had for a long time previous to St. Paul's
  visit some commercial relations with the Jewish nation. Josephus,
  _Antiqq._, XIV. 8, tells us how they erected a brass statue of the
  high priest Hyrcanus, as an expression of their good will to the
  Jewish nation. This was a hundred years before St. Paul's visit.
  Bayet discovered early Jewish inscriptions among the Athenian
  cemeteries. See his _De Titulis Atticæ Christianis_, pp. 122-24,
  of which we treat in a note _infra_.

  [168] Pausanias, i. 15, gives a description of the Porch or
  Painted Chamber, the Stoa Pœcile, whence the Stoics derived
  their name, showing that it was close to the Agora, or
  market-place, where Paul disputed.

The Athenian philosophers were cultured, and they were polite. They
demand, therefore, in bland tones, "May we know what this new teaching
is, which is spoken by thee? For thou bringest certain strange things
to our ears; we would know, therefore, what these things mean." And
now St. Paul has got his chance of a listening audience. He has come
across a new type of hearers, such as he has not enjoyed since those
early days of his first Christian love, when, after his escape from
Jerusalem, he resided at the university city of Tarsus for a long
time, till sought out by Barnabas to come and minister to the crowds
of Gentiles who were flocking into the Church at Antioch.[169] St.
Paul knew right well the tenets of the two classes of men, the Stoics
and the Epicureans, with whom he had to contend, and he deals with
them effectually in the speech which he delivered before the court. Of
that address we have only the barest outline. The report given in the
Acts contains about two hundred and fifty words, and must have lasted
little more than two minutes if that was all St. Paul said. It
embodies, however, merely the leading arguments used by the Apostle as
Timothy or some other disciple recollected them and told them to St.
Luke. Let us see what these arguments were. He begins with a
compliment to the Athenians. The Authorised, and even the Revised,
Version represent him indeed as beginning like an unskilled and unwise
speaker with giving his audience a slap in the face. "Ye men of
Athens, in all things I perceive that ye are somewhat superstitious,"
would not have been the most conciliatory form of address to a
keen-witted assembly like that before which he was now standing. It
would have tended to set their backs up at once. If we study St.
Paul's Epistles, specially his First Epistle to Corinth, we shall find
that even when he had to find the most grievous faults with his
disciples, he always began like a prudent man by conciliating their
feelings, praising them for whatever he could find good or blessed in
them. Surely if St. Paul acted thus with believers living unworthy of
their heavenly calling, he would be still more careful not to offend
men whom he wished to win over to Christ! St. Paul's exordium was
complimentary rather than otherwise, bearing out the description which
Pausanias gives of the Athenians of his own day, that "they have more
than other Greeks, a zeal for religion." Let us expand his thoughts
somewhat that we may grasp their force. "Men of Athens, in all things
I perceive that ye are more religious and more devoted to the worship
of the deity than other men. For as I passed along and observed the
objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription,
To the unknown God." St. Paul here displays his readiness as a
practised orator. He shows his power and readiness to become all
things to all men. He seizes upon the excessive devotion of the
Athenians. He does not abuse them on account of it, he uses it rather
as a good and useful foundation on which he may build a worthier
structure, as a good and sacred principle, hitherto misapplied, but
henceforth to be dedicated to a nobler purpose. The circumstance upon
which St. Paul seized, the existence of an altar dedicated to the
unknown God, is amply confirmed by historic evidence. St. Paul may
have noticed such altars as he passed up the road from Phalerum, where
he landed, to the city of Athens, where, as we learn from Pausanias,
the next-century traveller, such altars existed in his time; or he may
have seen them on the very hill of Areopagus on which he was standing,
where, from ancient times, as we learn from another writer, altars
existed dedicated to the unknown gods who sent a plague upon
Athens.[170] St. Paul's argument then was this. The Athenians were
already worshippers of the Unknown God. This was the very deity he
came proclaiming, and therefore he could not be a setter forth of
strange gods nor liable to punishment in consequence. He then proceeds
to declare more fully the nature of the Deity hitherto unknown. He was
the God that made the world and all things therein. He was not
identical therefore with the visible creation as the Pantheism of the
Stoics declared,[171] but gave to all out of His own immense fulness
life and wealth, and all things; neither was He like the gods of the
Epicureans who sat far aloof from all care and thought about this
lower world. St. Paul taught God's personal existence as against the
Stoics, and God's providence as against the Epicureans. Then he struck
straight at the root of that national pride, that supreme contempt for
the outside barbaric world, which existed as strongly among these
cultured agnostic Greek philosophers as among the most narrow,
fanatical, and bigoted Jews: "He made of one every nation of men for
to dwell on all the face of the earth, having determined their
appointed seasons, and the bounds of their habitation; that they
should seek God, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him." A
doctrine which must have sounded exceeding strange to these Greeks
accustomed to despise the barbarian world, looking down upon it from
the height of their learning and civilisation, and regarding
themselves as the only favourites of Heaven. St. Paul proclaims on the
Hill of Mars Christian liberalism, the catholic and cosmopolitan
character of the true religion in opposition to this Greek contempt
grounded on mere human position and privilege, as clearly and as
loudly as he proclaimed the same great truth at Jerusalem or in the
synagogues of the Dispersion in opposition to Jewish exclusiveness
grounded on the Divine covenant. St. Paul had grasped the great lesson
taught by the prophets of the Old Testament as they prophesied
concerning Babylon, Egypt, and Tyre. They proclaimed the lesson which
Jewish ears were slow to learn, they taught the Jews the truth which
Paul preached to the philosophers of Athens, they acted upon the
principle which it was the great work of Paul's life to exemplify,
that God's care and love and providence are over all His works, that
His mercies are not restrained to any one nation, but that, having
made of one all nations upon the face of the earth, His blessings are
bestowed upon them all alike. This truth here taught by St. Paul has
been slow to make its way. Men have been slow to acknowledge the
equality of all nations in God's sight, very slow to give up their own
claims to exceptional treatment and blessing on the part of the
Almighty. The great principle enunciated by the Apostle struck, for
instance, at the evil of slavery, yet how slowly it made its way. Till
thirty years ago really good and pious men saw nothing inconsistent
with Christianity in negro slavery. Christian communions even were
established grounded on this fundamental principle, the righteous
character of slavery. John Newton was a slave trader, and seems to
have seen nothing wrong in it. George Whitfield owned slaves, and
bequeathed them as part of his property to be held for his Orphan
House in America. But it is not only slavery that this great principle
overthrows. It strikes down every form of injustice and wrong. God has
made all men of one; they are all equally His care, and therefore
every act of injustice is a violation of the Divine law which is thus
expressed. Such ideas must have seemed exceedingly strange, and even
unnatural to men accustomed to reverence the teaching and study the
writings of guides like Aristotle, whose dogma was that slavery was
based on the very constitution of nature itself which formed some men
to rule and others to be slaves.

  [169] That period of retirement at Tarsus may have been utilised
  by St. Paul in studying classical literature and Greek philosophy
  by way of preparation for that life's work among the Gentiles, to
  which he was appointed at his conversion.

  [170] There are frequent notices of the altars to the unknown gods
  in ancient Greek writers: as in Pausanias, _Description of
  Greece_, vol. i., p. 2 (Shilleto's translation); _Life of
  Apollonius_, by Philostratus, vi., 3; Lucian's _Philopatris_, 29.
  See, however, for exhaustive discussions of this point, and the
  whole subject of the topography of ancient Athens, Lewin's _St.
  Paul_, vol. i., p. 242; Farrar's _St. Paul_, ch. xxvii., and
  Conybeare and Howson's _St. Paul_, vol. i., ch. x. Spon and
  Wheeler were travellers of the seventeenth century, whose works on
  this subject are important as showing Athens as it existed before
  modern changes. Some of the reports of travels in Greece, made by
  eminent scholars in the same century, and now very little known,
  may be found in the early volumes of the Philosophical
  Transactions of the Royal Society.

  [171] St. Paul shows that he could sympathise with the true
  element in pantheistic stoicism by his famous words which have a
  certain pantheistic ring, but still a very different one from that
  of the Stoics: "In Him we live and move and have our being."

St. Paul does not finish with this. He has not yet exhausted all his
message. He had now dealt with the intellectual errors and mistakes of
his hearers. He had around him and above him, if he could but see the
magnificent figure of Athene, the pride and glory of the Acropolis,
with its surrounding temples, the most striking proofs how their
intellectual mistakes had led the wise of this world into fatal and
degrading practices. In the course of his argument, having shown the
nearness of God to man, "In Him we live and move and have our being,"
and the Divine desire that man should seek after and know God, he
quoted a passage common to several well-known poets, "For we are also
His offspring."[172] This was sufficient for St. Paul, who as we see,
in all his Epistles, often flies off at a tangent when a word slips as
it were by chance from his pen, leading him off to a new train of
ideas. We are the offspring of God. How is it then that men can
conceive the Godhead, that which is Divine, to be like unto those gold
and silver, brass or marble statues, even though wrought with the
greatest possible skill. The philosophers indeed pretended to
distinguish between the Eternal Godhead and these divinities and
images innumerable, which were but representations of his several
characteristics and attributes. But even if they distinguished
intellectually, they did not distinguish in practice, and the people
from the highest to the lowest identified the idol with the deity
itself, and rendered thereto the honour due to God.[173]

  [172] These words are directly and literally taken out of the
  _Phænomena_ of Aratus, a Greek poet of Cilicia and a
  fellow-countryman of the orator. He was absolutely correct,
  however, in saying "certain of your own poets," as the same
  sentiment is found in a hymn to Jupiter, composed by the Stoic
  philosopher and poet Cleanthes, a poem which will be found with a
  Latin version in Cudworth's _Intellectual System_. Cleanthes was
  the immediate successor of Zeno, the founder of Stoicism. His
  words therefore would have the more weight with his disciples
  three centuries later. He died, like a Stoic, of hunger, aged
  eighty, and a statue was erected to him by the Roman Senate in his
  native place Assos, a town of Æolis in Greece. See for more about
  Cleanthes and Aratus, Fabricius, _Bibliotheca Græca_, or Smith's
  _Dict. Greek and Rom. Biog._

  [173] As it was with the ancient image worshippers, so is it with
  the modern. The excuses made for the pagans in ancient times are
  exactly the same as those made for the image worshippers of the
  eighth and later centuries: see the article on Iconoclasm in the
  _Dict. Christ. Biog._

St. Paul then proceeds to enunciate his own doctrines. He lightly
touches upon, as he did previously at Lystra (ch. xiv. 16), a subject
which neither the time at his disposal nor the position of his hearers
would permit him to discuss. He glances at, but does not attempt to
explain, why God had postponed to that late date this novel teaching:
"The times of ignorance God overlooked; but now He commandeth men that
they should all everywhere repent." This doctrine of repentance,
involving a sense of sin and sorrow for it, must have sounded
exceeding strange to those philosophic ears, as did the announcement
with which the Apostle follows it up, the proclamation of a future
judgment by a Man whom God had ordained for the purpose, and
authenticated by raising him from the dead. Here the crowd interrupted
him. The Resurrection, or Anastasis, which Paul preached was not then
a new deity, but an impossible process through which no man save in
fable had ever passed. When the Apostle got thus far the assembly
broke up. The idea of a resurrection of a dead man was too much for
them. It was too ludicrous for belief. "Some mocked: but others said,
We will hear thee again of this matter," and thus ended St. Paul's
address, and thus ended too the Athenian opportunity, for St. Paul
soon passed away from such a society of learned triflers and
scoffers. They sat in the seat of the scorner, and the seat of the
scorner is never a good one for a learner to occupy who wishes to
profit. He felt that he had no great work to do in such a place. His
opportunity lay where hearts were broken with sin and sorrow, where
the burden of life weighed upon the soul, and men heavy laden and sore
pressed were longing for real deliverance and for a higher, nobler
life than the world could offer. His work, however, was not all in
vain, nor were his personal discussions and his public address devoid
of results. The Church of Athens was one of those which could look
back to St. Paul as its founder. "Not many wise after the flesh were
called" in that city of wisdom and beauty, but some were called, among
whom was one of those very judges who sat to investigate the Apostle's
teaching: "But certain clave unto him, and believed: among whom also
was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others
with them." And this Church thus founded became famous; Dionysius the
Areopagite became afterwards a celebrated man, because his name was
attached some five centuries later to a notorious forgery which has
played no small part in later Christian history.[174] Dionysius was
the first bishop of the Athenian Church according to the testimony of
another Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth, who lived in the middle of the
second century, while persons were yet living who could remember the
Areopagite. He was succeeded by Publius, who presided over the Church
at an important period of its existence. The Emperor Hadrian came to
Athens, and was charmed with it about the year 125 a.d. At that time
the Athenian Church must have included among its members several
learned men; for the two earliest _Apologies_ in defence of
Christianity were produced by it. The Athenian Church had just then
been purified by the fiery trials of persecution. Quadratus and
Aristides stood forth to plead its cause before the Emperor.[175] Of
Quadratus and his work we know but little. Eusebius, the great Church
historian, had, however, seen it, and gives us (_H. E._, iv. 3) a
brief abstract of it, appealing to the miracles of our Saviour, and
stating that some of the dead whom Christ had raised had lived to his
own time. While as for Aristides, the other apologist, his work, after
lying hidden from the sight of Christendom, was printed and published
last year, as we have told in the former volume of this commentary.
That _Apology_ of Aristides has much important teaching for us, as we
have there tried to show. There is one point, however, to which we did
not allude. The _Apology_ of Aristides shows us that the Athenian
Church accepted in the fullest degree and preserved the great Pauline
doctrine of the freedom and catholic nature of Christianity. In the
year 125 Judaism and Christianity were still struggling together
within the Church in other places; but at Athens they had clean
separated the one from the other. Till that year no one but a
circumcised Jewish Christian had ever presided over the Mother Church
of Jerusalem, which sixty years after the martyrdom of St. Peter and
St. Paul preserved exactly the same attitude as in the days of James
the Just.[176] The Church of Athens, on the other hand, as a
thoroughly Gentile Church, had from the first enjoyed the ministry of
Dionysius the Areopagite, a Gentile of culture and education. He had
been attracted by the broad liberal teaching of the Apostle in his
address upon Mars' Hill, enunciating a religion free from all narrow
national limitations. He embraced this catholic teaching with his
whole heart, and transmitted it to his successors, so that when some
seventy years later a learned Athenian stood forth in the person of
Aristides, to explain the doctrines of the Church, contrasting them
with the errors and mistakes of all other nations, Aristides does not
spare even the Jews. He praises them indeed when compared with the
pagans, who had erred on the primary questions of morals; but he
blames them because they had not reached the final and absolute
position occupied by the Christians. Listen to the words of Aristides
which proclaim the true Pauline doctrine taught in St. Paul's sermons,
re-echoed by the Epistles, "Nevertheless the Jews too have gone astray
from accurate knowledge, and they suppose in their minds that they are
serving God, but in the methods of their service, their service is to
angels and not to God, in that they observe Sabbaths and new moons,
and the passover, and the great fast, and the fast and circumcision,
and cleanness of meats," words which sound exactly the same note and
embody the same conception as St. Paul in his indignant language to
the Galatians (iv. 9-11): "Now that ye have come to know God, or
rather to be known of God, how turn ye back again to the weak and
beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire to be in bondage over again? Ye
observe days, and months, and seasons, and years. I am afraid of you,
lest by any means I have bestowed labour upon you in vain."[177]

  [174] Few biblical characters have been so surrounded with a haze
  of fable as Dionysius the Areopagite. All that we certainly know
  about him is from this passage in the Acts, and from two notices
  by Eusebius, _H. E._, iii. 4, and iv. 23. In the _Acta Sanctorum_
  the Bollandists bestow an immense quantity of space on Dionysius
  and the literature of the subject under the date Oct. 9th, in
  their Fourth Volume for October, pp. 696-987. The name of
  Dionysius became specially celebrated when about the year 500 it
  was attached to an impudent forgery called the _Heavenly
  Hierarchy_, from which has been largely derived the modern Roman
  doctrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, and which has
  also exercised a great influence on the development of modern
  pantheism: see the article on Dionysius in vol. i. of Smith's
  _Dict. Christ. Biog._ Johannes Scotus Erigena, an Irish scholar of
  the ninth century, was the only man in France found capable of
  translating these Greek works when brought to Western Europe from
  the East: see _Vett. Epistt. Hibernic. Sylloge_, xxii., xxiii.,
  xxiv., in Ussher's Works (Ed. Elrington), iv. 474-87. Dionysius is
  commemorated on Oct. 3rd in the ancient Latin Martyrologies, on
  Oct. 9th in the modern Roman Martyrology. The ancient
  Martyrologies--the ancient Roman, Ado's, Usaurd's--have a curious
  notice stating that Aristides the Athenian, in a work which he
  wrote about the Christian religion, described the martyrdom of
  Dionysius in the reign of Hadrian. There is no notice of this in
  the _Apology_ of Aristides which has lately come to light. A
  curious story is told in one of his alleged letters, addressed to
  Polycarp. Apollophanes, a pagan sophist, was attacking Polycarp
  about Christianity. Dionysius tells Polycarp to remind his
  opponent of the miraculous darkness on the day of Crucifixion
  which Dionysius and Apollophanes had seen at Hierapolis, where
  they were then both students, when Dionysius said, "Either the God
  of nature suffers, or the world is in process of dissolution."

  [175] The visits of the Emperor Hadrian to Athens, and his delight
  in that city, have been confirmed by the latest antiquarian
  investigations in the region of coins and inscriptions. The
  student who wishes to make acquaintance with the evidence on this
  point, which has an important bearing upon the historic proof of
  our holy religion, should consult the learned treatise of Julius
  Dürr, styled, _Die Reisen der Kaisers Hadrian_, (Vienna, 1881). It
  minutely investigates the records of Hadrian's life, and shows us
  that Hadrian visited and lived at Athens in A.D. 125. This work
  was published ten years before the _Apology_ of the Athenian
  Christian Aristides was discovered, serving to illustrate its
  history from an independent point of view. I have endeavoured to
  set forth the bearing of this point at greater length than I can
  now bestow upon it in a series of papers on the _Apology_ of
  Aristides in the _Sunday at Home_ for 1891-2. Mrs. Rendal Harris,
  the wife of the discoverer of it, has published an interesting
  work on this _Apology_, to which I would refer the reader (London:
  Hodder & Stoughton, 1892). The _Apology_ itself was published in
  1891, in the series called _Cambridge Texts and Studies_.

  [176] The testimony of Eusebius, _H. E._, iv. 5, is express on
  this point: "Down to the siege of the Jews under Hadrian there
  were fifteen bishops in the Church of Jerusalem, all of whom, as
  they say, were Hebrews from the first, and received the genuine
  knowledge of Christ, so that in the estimation of those able to
  judge they were counted worthy of the episcopal office."

  [177] The whole subject of the origin and history of the primitive
  Church of Athens has been minutely investigated by a modern French
  scholar, C. Bayet, a member of the French school of antiquaries at
  Athens. The title of his book, to which I have already referred,
  is _De Titulis Atticæ Christianis Antiquissimis Commentatio_
  (Thorin: Paris, 1878). He gives a large number of primitive
  Christian and Jewish inscriptions found at Athens. The above
  quotation from Aristides will be found in Rendal Harris's edition,
  p. 48, in the Cambridge _Texts and Studies_.

St. Paul did not stay long at Athens. Five or six weeks perhaps, two
months at most, was probably the length of his visit, time enough just
for his Berœan guides to go back to their own city two hundred
miles away, and forward their message to Thessalonica fifty miles
distant, desiring Timothy and Silas to come to him. Timothy,
doubtless, soon started upon his way, tarried with the Apostle for a
little, and then returned to Thessalonica, as we learn from 1 Thess.
iii. 1: "When we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be
left at Athens alone, and sent Timothy to establish you and comfort
you." And now he was again all alone in that scoffing city where
neither the religious, moral, nor intellectual atmosphere could have
been pleasing to a man like St. Paul. He quitted Athens therefore and
came to Corinth. In that city he laboured for a period of a year and a
half at least; and yet the record of his brief visit to Athens,
unsuccessful as it was so far as immediate results are concerned, is
much longer than the record of his prolonged work in Corinth.

Now if we were writing a life of St. Paul instead of a commentary on
the history told us in the Acts, we should be able to supplement the
brief narrative of the historical book with the ample details
contained in the Epistles of St. Paul, especially the two Epistles
written to Corinth itself, which illustrate the life of the Apostle,
his work at Corinth, and the state of the Corinthians themselves prior
and subsequent to their conversion. A consideration of these points
would, however, lead me to intrude on the sphere of the commentator on
the Corinthian Epistles, and demand an amount of space which we cannot
afford. In addition, the three great biographies of St. Paul to which
we have so often referred--Lewin's, Farrar's, and that of Conybeare
and Howson--treat this subject at such great length and with such a
profusion of archæological learning as practically leave a fresh
writer nothing new to say in this direction. Let us, however, look
briefly at the record in the Acts of St. Paul's work in Corinth,
viewing it from the expositor's point of view. St. Paul went from
Athens to Corinth discouraged, it may have been, by the results of his
Athenian labours. Opposition never frightened St. Paul; but learned
carelessness, haughty contemptuous indifference to his Divine message,
the outcome of a spirit devoid of any true spiritual life, quenched
his ardour, chilled his enthusiasm. He must indeed have been sorely
repelled by Athens when he set out all alone for the great capital of
Achaia, the wicked, immoral, debased city of Corinth. When he came
thither he united himself with Aquila, a Jew of Pontus, and Priscilla
his wife, because they were members of the same craft. They had been
lately expelled from Rome, and, like the Apostle, were tentmakers:
for convenience' sake therefore, and to save expense, they all lodged
together.[178] Here again St. Paul experienced the wisdom of his
father's training and of the Rabbinical law, which thus made him in
Corinth, as before in Thessalonica, thoroughly independent of all
external circumstances, and able with his own hands to minister to his
body's wants. And it was a fortunate thing too for the gospel's sake
that he was able to do so. St. Paul never permits any one to think for
a moment that the claim of Christ's ministry for a fitting support is
a doubtful one. He expressly teaches again and again, as in 1 Cor.
ix., that it is the Scriptural as well as rational duty of the people
to contribute according to their means to the maintenance of Christ's
public ministry. But there were certain circumstances at Thessalonica,
and above all at Corinth, which made St. Paul waive his just claim and
even cramp, limit, and confine his exertions, by imposing on himself
the work of earning his daily food. Thessalonica and Corinth had
immense Jewish populations. The Jews were notorious in that age as
furnishing the greatest number of impostors, quack magicians and every
other kind of agency which traded upon human credulity for the
purposes of gain. St. Paul was determined that neither Jew nor Gentile
in either place should be able to hinder the work of the gospel by
accusing him of self-seeking or covetous purposes. For this purpose he
united with Aquila and Priscilla in working at their common trade as
tentmakers, employing the Sabbath days in debating after his usual
fashion in the Jewish synagogues; and upon ordinary days improving the
hours during which his hands laboured upon the coarse hair cloth of
which tents were made, either in expounding to his fellow-workmen the
glorious news which he proclaimed or else in meditating upon the
trials of his converts in Macedonia, or perhaps, most of all, in that
perpetual communion with God, that never-ceasing intercession for
which he ever found room and time in the secret chambers of the soul.
St. Paul's intercessions as we read of them in his Epistles were
immense. Intercessory prayers for his individual converts are
frequently mentioned by him. It would have been impossible for a man
so hard pressed with labours of every kind temporal and spiritual to
find place for them all in formal prayers if St. Paul did not
cultivate the habit of ceaseless communion with his Father in heaven,
perpetually bringing before God those cases and persons which lay
dearest to his heart. This habit of secret prayer must be the
explanation of St. Paul's widespread intercessions, and for this
reason. He commends the same practice again and again to his converts.
"Pray without ceasing" is his language to the Thessalonians (1 Thess.
v. 17). Now this could not mean, prolong your private devotions to an
inordinate length, because great numbers of his converts were slaves
who were not masters of their time. But it does mean cultivate a
perpetual sense of God's presence and of your own communion with Him,
which will turn life and its busiest work into a season of refreshing
prayer and untiring intercession.

  [178] This expulsion of the Jews from Rome by Claudius, which in
  the providence of God brought Aquila and Priscilla into contact
  with St. Paul, is mentioned by the Roman historian Suetonius,
  _Claudius_, 25, in the following suggestive words: "He expelled
  the Jews who were continually creating tumults, Chestus impelling
  them." The tumults roused by the teaching of Christian doctrine,
  like those in the Thessalonian and Berœan synagogues, were
  evidently the origin of the edict. Aquila and Priscilla were
  constant travellers, and seem to have been influential Christians.
  We find them afterwards at Ephesus, where they tarried some time:
  see Acts xviii. 18, 19, 26; 1 Cor. xvi. 19; and subsequently 2
  Tim. iv. 19. They also lived at Rome for a period between their
  two residences at Ephesus, as we learn from the fact that St. Paul
  sends a salutation to them in Romans xvi. 3, 4.

Meanwhile, according to Acts xviii. 5, Silas and Timothy arrived from
Macedonia, bringing contributions for the Apostle's support, which
enabled him to fling himself entirely into ministerial and
evangelistic work. This renewed activity soon told. St. Paul had no
longer to complain of contemptuous or listless conduct, as at Athens.
He experienced at Jewish hands in Corinth exactly the same treatment
as at Thessalonica and Berœa. Paul preached that Jesus was the
Christ. The Jews blasphemed Him, and called Him accursed. Their
attitude became so threatening that Paul was at length compelled to
retire from the synagogue, and, separating his disciples, Jews and
Gentiles alike, he withdrew to the house of one Justus, a man whose
Latin name bespeaks his Western origin, who lived next door to the
synagogue. Thenceforth he threw himself with all his energy into his
work. God too directly encouraged him. The very proximity of the
Christian Church to the Jewish Synagogue constituted a special danger
to himself personally when he had to deal with fanatical Jews. A
heavenly visitor appeared, therefore, to refresh the wearied saint. In
his hour of danger and of weakness God's strength and grace were
perfected, and assurance was granted that the Lord had much people in
the city of Corinth, and that no harm should happen to him while
striving to seek out and gather God's sheep that were scattered abroad
in the midst of the naughty world of Corinthian life. And the secret
vision did not stand alone. External circumstances lent their
assistance and support. Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and
his family became converts, and were baptized. Gaius and Stephanas
were important converts gathered from amongst the Gentiles; so
important indeed were these three individuals and their families that
St. Paul turned aside from his purely evangelistic and missionary
labours and devoted himself to the pastoral work of preparing them for
baptism administering personally that holy sacrament, a duty which he
usually left to his assistants, who were not so well qualified for the
rough pioneer efforts of controversy, which he had marked out for
himself.[179] And so the work went on for a year and a half, till the
Jews thought they saw their opportunity for crushing the audacious
apostate who was thus making havoc even among the officials of their
own organisation, inducing them to join his Nazarene synagogue.[180]
Achaia, of which Corinth was the capital, was a Roman province,
embracing, broadly speaking, the territory comprised in the modern
kingdom of Greece. Like a great many other provinces, and specially
like Cyprus, to which we have already called attention, Achaia was at
times an imperial, at times a senatorial province. Forty years earlier
it was an imperial province. The Acts describes it as just then, that
is, about A.D. 53, a senatorial or proconsular province; and
Suetonius, an independent Roman historian, confirms this, telling us
(_Claud._, 25) that the Emperor Claudius restored it to the senate.

  [179] See 1 Cor. i. 14-17: "I thank God that I baptized none of
  you, save Crispus and Gaius; lest any man should say that ye were
  baptized into my name. And I baptized also the household of
  Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. For
  Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel." I have
  often heard a very wrong conclusion drawn from this passage.
  People think that St. Paul was here casting a certain slight upon
  baptism as contrasted with preaching. His meaning, however, is
  evident to any one who will realise the circumstances. The
  Corinthians were breaking up into sects, calling themselves by the
  names of various Christian leaders. St. Paul thanks God that very
  few can call themselves by his name, as they had not even the poor
  excuse for doing so, which his officiating at their baptism might
  give. To him, in God's providence, had been assigned the rough,
  dangerous pioneer work of preaching to the adversaries, Jews and
  pagans, outside the Church; to others the work of introducing the
  converts made by him into the Mystical Body of Christ.

  [180] In vol. i., p. 270, I have pointed out that in Corinth the
  Christians probably adopted, not only the name, but the
  organisation of the synagogues.

Gallio, a brother of the celebrated philosophic writer Seneca, had
been sent to it as proconsul, and the Jews thought they now saw their
opportunity. Gallio, whose original and proper name was Annæus
Novatus, was a man distinguished by what in Rome was considered his
sweet, gentle, and loving disposition. His reputation may have
preceded him, and the Jews of Corinth may have thought that they would
play upon his easy-going temper. The Jews, being a very numerous
community at Corinth, had it of course in their power to prove very
unpleasant to any ruler, and specially to one of Gallio's reputed
temper.[181] The Roman governors were invested with tremendous powers;
they were absolute despots, in fact, for the time being, and yet they
were often very anxious to gain popularity, especially with any
troublesome body of their temporary subjects. The Roman proconsuls, in
fact, adopted a principle we sometimes see still acted out in
political life, as if it were the highest type of statesmanship. They
were anxious to gain popularity by gratifying those who made
themselves specially obnoxious and raised the loudest cries. They
petted the naughty, and they neglected the good. So it was with
Pontius Pilate, who perpetrated a judicial murder because it
contented the multitude; so it was with Festus, who left an innocent
man in bonds at Cæsarea because he desired to gain favour with the
Jews; and so too, thought the Jews of Corinth, it would be with
Gallio. They arrested the Apostle, therefore, using the messengers of
the synagogue for the purpose, and brought him to the proconsular
court, where they set him before the bema, or elevated platform,
whence the Roman magistrates dispensed justice. Then they laid their
formal accusation against him: "This man persuadeth men to worship God
contrary to the law"; expecting perhaps that he would be remitted by
the proconsul to the judgment and discipline of their own domestic
tribunal, even as Pilate said to the Jews about our Lord and their
accusation against Him: "Take ye Him, and judge Him according to your
law." But the philosophic brother of the Stoic Seneca had a profound
contempt for these agitating Jews. His Stoic education too had trained
him to allow external things as little influence upon the mind as
possible. The philosophic apathy which the Stoics cultivated must have
more or less affected his whole nature, as he soon showed the Jews;
for before the Apostle had time to reply to the charge Gallio burst in
contemptuously. If it were a matter of law and order, he declares, it
would be right to attend to it; but if your complaint is touching your
own national law and customs I will have nothing to say to it. And
then he commanded his lictors to clear the court. Thus ended the
attempt on St. Paul's freedom or life, an attempt which was indeed
more disastrous to the Jews themselves than to any one else; for the
Gentile mob of Corinth, hating the Jews, and glad to see them baulked
of their expected prey, seized the chief accuser Sosthenes, the ruler
of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment-seat; while Gallio
all the while cared for none of these things, despising the mob, Jew
and Gentile alike, and contemptuously pitying them from the height of
his philosophic self-contentment. Gallio has been at all times
regarded as the type of the mere worldling, who, wrapped in material
interests, cares for nothing higher or nobler. But this is scarcely
fair to Gallio. The Stoic philosopher was not dead to better things.
But he is the type rather of men who, blinded by lower truths and mere
intellectual wisdom, are thereby rendered careless of those spiritual
matters in which the soul's true life alone consists. He had so
thoroughly cultivated a philosophic contempt for the outside world and
its business, the sayings and doings, the joys and the sorrows of the
puny mortals who fume and strut and fret their lives away upon this
earthly stage, that he lost the opportunity of hearing from the
Apostle's lips of a grander philosophy, a deeper contentment, of a
truer, more satisfying peace than was ever dreamt of in stoical
speculation. And this type of man is not extinct. Philosophy, science,
art, literature, politics, they are all great facts, all offer vast
fields for human activity, and all may serve for a time so thoroughly
to content and satisfy man's inner being as to render him careless of
that life in Christ which alone abideth for evermore.

  [181] Cicero, in his oration Pro Flacco, ch. xxviii., shows how
  troublesome and dangerous, even to the very highest persons, the
  Jews at Rome could be one hundred years earlier than Gallio's day.

The attempt of the Jews marked the termination of St. Paul's work in
Corinth. It was at least the beginning of the end. He had now laboured
longer in Corinth than anywhere else since he started out from
Antioch. He had organised and consolidated the Church, as we can see
from his Corinthian Epistles and now he longed once more to visit his
old friends, and report what God had wrought by his means during his
long absence. He tarried, therefore, yet a while, visiting doubtless
the various Churches which he had established throughout all the
province of Achaia, and then, accompanied by a few companions, set
sail for Syria, to declare the results of his eventful mission, taking
Ephesus on his way. This was his first visit to that great city, and
he was probably led to pay it owing to the commercial necessities of
Aquila. Life's actions and deeds, even in the case of an apostle, are
moulded by very little things. A glance, a chance word, a passing
courtesy, forgotten as soon as done, and life is very different from
what it otherwise would have been. And so, too, the tent-making and
tent-selling of Aquila brought Paul to Ephesus, shaped the remainder
of his career, and endowed the Church with the rich spiritual heritage
of the teaching imparted to the Ephesian disciples by word and



     "Paul, and with him Priscilla and Aquila, came to Ephesus, and he
     left them here: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and
     reasoned with the Jews. And when they asked him to abide a longer
     time, he consented not; but taking his leave of them, and saying,
     I will return again unto you, if God will, he set sail from
     Ephesus.... Now a certain man named Apollos, an Alexandrian by
     race, a learned man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the
     Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord;
     and being fervent in spirit, he spake and taught carefully the
     things concerning Jesus, knowing only the baptism of John: and he
     began to speak boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and
     Aquila heard him, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him
     the way of God more carefully."--ACTS xviii. 19-21, 24-26.

     "And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul
     having passed through the upper country, came to Ephesus."--ACTS
     xix. 1.

Ephesus has been from very ancient times a distinguished city. It was
famous in the religious history of Asia Minor in times long prior to
the Christian Era. It was celebrated at the time of the Roman Empire
as the chief seat of the worship of Diana and of the magical practices
associated with that worship; and Ephesus became more celebrated still
in Christian times as the city where one of the great Œcumenical
Councils was held which served to determine the expression of the
Church's faith in her Divine Lord and Master. It must then be of great
interest to the Christian student to note the first beginnings of
such a vast transformation as that whereby a chief seat of pagan
idolatry was turned into a special stronghold of Christian orthodoxy.
Let us then devote this chapter to tracing the upgrowth of the
Ephesian Church, and to noting the lessons the modern Church may
derive therefrom.

St. Paul terminated his work in Corinth some time about the middle or
towards the close of the year 53 A.D. In the early summer of that year
Gallio came as proconsul to Achaia, and the Jewish riot was raised.
After a due interval, to show that he was not driven out by Jewish
machinations, St. Paul determined to return once more to Jerusalem and
Antioch, which he had left some four years at least before. He went
down therefore to Cenchreæ, the port of departure for passengers going
from Corinth to Ephesus, Asia Minor, and Syria. A Christian Church had
been established there by the exertions of St. Paul or some of his
Corinthian disciples. As soon as an early Christian was turned from
sin to righteousness, from the adoration of idols to the worship of
the true God, he began to try and do something for Him whose love and
grace he had experienced. It was no wonder that the Church then spread
rapidly when all its individual members were instinct with life, and
every one considered himself personally responsible to labour
diligently for God. The Church of Cenchreæ was elaborately organised.
It had not only its deacons, it had also its deaconesses, one of whom,
Phœbe, was specially kind and useful to St. Paul upon his visits to
that busy seaport, and is by him commended to the help and care of the
Roman Church (Rom. xvi. 1, 2).

From Cenchreæ St. Paul, Aquila, and Priscilla sailed for Ephesus,
where, as we have already hinted, it is most likely the latter pair
had some special business avocations which led them to stay at that
city. They may have been large manufacturers of tents, and have had a
branch establishment at Ephesus, which was then a great mercantile
emporium for that part of Asia Minor.

An incidental remark of the sacred writer "having shorn his head in
Cenchreæ, for he had a vow," has raised a controverted question. Some
refer this expression to Aquila, and I think with much the greater
probability. It was customary with the Jews at that time when in any
special danger to take a temporary Nazarite vow, binding themselves to
abstain from wine and from cutting their hair till a certain definite
period had elapsed. Then when the fixed date had arrived, the hair was
cut off and preserved till it could be burned in the fire of a
sacrifice offered up at Jerusalem upon the individual's next visit to
the Holy City. The grammatical order of the words naturally refer to
Aquila as the maker of this vow; but I cannot agree in one reason
urged for this latter theory. Some have argued that it was impossible
for Paul to have made this vow; that it would, in fact, have been a
return to the bondage of Judaism, which would have been utterly
inconsistent on his part. People who argue thus do not understand St.
Paul's position with respect to Jewish rites as being things utterly
unimportant, and, as such, things which a wise born Jew would do well
to observe in order to please his countrymen. If St. Paul made a vow
at Corinth it would have been simply an illustration of his own
principle, "To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order that I might gain
the Jews." But further, I must say that the taking of a vow, though
derived from Judaism, need not have necessarily appeared to St. Paul
and the men of his time a purely Jewish ceremony. Vows, in fact,
naturally passed over from Judaism to Christianity.[182] Vows, indeed,
of this peculiar character, and with this peculiar external sign of
long hair, are no longer customary amongst Christians; but surely
special vows cannot be said to have gone out of fashion, when we
consider the wide spread of the teetotal movement, with its vows
identical in one important element with that of the Nazarites! But
viewing the matter from a still wider standpoint, people, when
contending thus, forget what a large part the tradition of ancient
customs must have played in the life, manners, and customs of St.
Paul. All his early life he was a strict Pharisaic Jew, and down to
the end of life his early training must have largely modified his
habits. To take but one instance, pork was the common and favourite
food of the Romans at this period. Now I am sure that St. Paul would
have vigorously resisted all attempts to prevent the Gentile
Christians eating bacon or ham; but I should not be in the least
surprised if St. Paul, trained in Pharisaic habits, never once touched
a food he had been taught to abhor from his earliest youth. Life is a
continuous thing, and the memories of the past are very powerful. We
can to this day trace among ourselves many customs and traditions
dating back to the times antecedent to the Reformation, and much
farther. The fires still lighted on St. John's Eve throughout Ireland,
and once customary in Scotland, are survivals of the times of
Druidical paganism in these islands. The ceremonies and social customs
of Shrove Tuesday and Hallow E'en are survivals of the rude mirth of
our pre-Reformation forefathers, on the nights before a celebrated
fast, Ash Wednesday, in one case, before a celebrated feast, All
Saints' Day, in the other. Or perhaps I may take another instance more
closely analogous still which every reader can verify for himself. The
use of the Church of England has to this day a curious instance of the
power of tradition as opposed to written law. There is a general
rubric placed in the Book of Common Prayer before the first Lord's
Prayer. It runs as follows: "Then the minister shall kneel and say the
Lord's Prayer with an audible voice; the people also kneeling and
repeating it with him, both here, and wheresoever else it is used in
Divine Service." This rubric plainly prescribes that clergy and people
shall always say the Lord's Prayer conjointly. And yet, let my readers
go into any church of the Anglican Communion on Sunday next, I care
not what the tone of its theological thought, and observe the first
Lord's Prayer used at the beginning of the Communion Service. They
will find that this general rubric is universally neglected, and the
celebrating priest says the opening Lord's Prayer by himself with no
voice of the people raised to accompany him. Now whence comes this
universal fact? It is simply an illustration of the strength of
tradition. It is a survival of the practice before the Reformation
handed down by tradition to the present time, and over-riding a
positive and written law. In the days before the Reformation, as in
the Roman Catholic Church of the present day, the opening Dominical or
Lord's Prayer in the Mass was said by the priest alone. When the
service was translated into English the old custom still prevailed,
and has lasted to the present day.[183] This was only human nature,
which abhors unnecessary changes, and is intensely conservative of
every practice which is linked with the fond memories of the past.
This human nature was found strong in St. Paul, as in other men, and
it would have argued no moral or spiritual weakness, no desire to play
fast and loose with gospel liberties, had he, instead of Aquila,
resorted to the old Jewish practice and bound himself by a vow in
connexion with some special blessing which he had received, or some
special danger he had incurred. When we are studying the Acts we must
never forget that Judaism gave the tone and form, the whole outer
framework to Christianity, even as England gave the outward shape and
form to the constitutions of the United States and her own numberless
colonies throughout the world. St. Paul did not invent a brand new
religion, as some people think; he changed as little as possible, so
that his own practice and worship must have been to mere pagan eyes
exactly the same as that of the Jews, as indeed we might conclude
beforehand from the fact that the Roman authorities seem to have
viewed the Christians as a mere Jewish sect down to the close of the
second century.[184]

  [182] Jeremy Taylor, in his _Holy Living_, in his chapter on
  Prayer, has some wise remarks on vows. He includes them under the
  head of Prayer: "A vow to God is an act of prayer and a great
  degree and instance of opportunity, and an increase of duty by
  some new uncommanded instance, or some more eminent degree of duty
  or frequency of action, or earnestness of spirit in the same. And
  because it hath pleased God in all ages of the world to admit of
  intercourse with His servants in the matter of vows, it is not ill
  advice that we make vows to God in those cases in which we have
  great need or great danger." He then proceeds to lay down rules
  and cautions for making vows.

  [183] See Procter on the Common Prayer, p. 212; Canon Evan Daniel
  on the Prayer Book, pp. 87 and 300.

  [184] See on this subject of the confusion of Christianity with
  Judaism by the Romans, Wieseler's _Die Christenverfolgungen der
  Cäsaren_, pp. 1-10.

I. Let us now take a rapid survey of the extensive journey which our
book disposes of in very concise fashion. St. Paul and his companions,
Aquila and Priscilla, Timothy and Silas, sailed from Cenchreæ to
Ephesus, which city up to this seems to have been untouched by
Christian influences. St. Paul, in the earlier portion of his second
tour, had been prohibited by the Holy Spirit from preaching in
Ephesus, or in any portion of the provinces of Asia or Bithynia.
Important as the human eye of St. Paul may have viewed them, still the
Divine Guide of the Church saw that neither Asia nor Bithynia, with
all their magnificent cities, their accumulated wealth, and their
political position, were half so important as the cities and provinces
of Europe, viewed from the standpoint of the world's conversion. But
now the gospel has secured a substantial foothold in Europe, has taken
a firm grasp of that imperial race which then ruled the world, and so
the Apostle is permitted to visit Ephesus for the first time. He seems
to have then paid a mere passing visit to it, lasting perhaps while
the ship discharged the portion of her cargo destined for Ephesus. But
St. Paul never allowed time to hang heavy on his hands for want of
employment. He left Aquila and Priscilla engaged in their mercantile
transactions, and, entering himself into the principal synagogue,
proceeded to expound his views. These do not seem to have then aroused
any opposition; nay, the Jews even went so far as to desire him to
tarry longer and open out his doctrines at greater length. We may
conclude from this that St. Paul did not remain during this first
visit much beyond one Sabbath day. If he had bestowed a second Sabbath
day upon the Ephesian synagogue, his ideas and doctrines would have
been made so clear and manifest that the Jews would not have required
much further exposition in order to see their drift. St. Paul, after
promising a second visit to them, left his old friends and associates,
Aquila and his wife, with whom he had lived for nearly two years, at
Ephesus, and pushed on to Cæsarea, a town which he must have already
well known, and with which he was subsequently destined to make a long
and unpleasant acquaintanceship, arriving at Jerusalem in time
probably for the Feast of Tabernacles, which was celebrated on
September 16th, A.D. 53. Concerning the details of that visit we know
nothing. Four years at least must have elapsed since he had seen James
and the other venerated heads of the Mother Church. We can imagine
then how joyously he would have told them, how eagerly they would have
heard the glad story of the wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles
through the power of Jesus Christ. After a short sojourn at Jerusalem
St. Paul returned back to Cæsarea, and thence went on to Antioch, the
original seat of the Gentile mission for the propagation of the faith.
After refreshing himself with the kindly offices of fraternal
intercourse and conversation at this great Christian centre, where
broad liberal sentiment and wide Christian culture, free from any
narrow prejudices, must have infused a tone into society far more
agreeable to St. Paul than the unprogressive Judaising views which
flourished in Jerusalem, St. Paul then determined to set off upon his
third great tour, which must have begun at the earliest some time in
the spring of A.D. 54, as soon as the snows of winter had passed away
and the passes through the Taurus Range into the central regions of
Asia Minor had been opened. We know nothing more concerning the
extended journey he took on this occasion. He seems to have avoided
towns like Lystra and Derbe, and to have directed his march straight
to Galatia, where he had sufficient work to engage all his thought. We
have no mention of the names of the particular Churches where he
laboured. Ancyra, as it was then called, Angora as it is now named, in
all probability demanded St. Paul's attention. If he visited it, he
looked as the traveller does still upon the temple dedicated to the
deity of Augustus and of Rome, the ruins of which have attracted the
notice of every modern antiquary. Glad, however, as we should have
been to gratify our curiosity by details like these, we are obliged to
content ourselves with the information which St. Luke gives us, that
St. Paul "went through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, in order,
stablishing all the disciples," leaving us a speaking example of the
energising power, the invigorating effects, of a visitation such as
St. Paul now conducted, sustaining the weak, arousing the careless,
restraining the rash, guiding the whole body of the Church with the
counsels of sanctified wisdom and heavenly prudence. Then, after his
Phrygian and Galatian work was finished, St. Paul betook himself to a
field which he long since desired to occupy, and determined to fulfil
the promise made a year previously at least to his Jewish friends of
the Ephesian Synagogue.

II. Now we come to the foundation of the Ephesian Church some time in
the latter part of the year 54 A.D. Here it may strike some reader as
an extraordinary thing that more than twenty years after the
Crucifixion Ephesus was as yet totally untouched by the gospel, so
that the tidings of salvation were quite a novel sound in the great
Asiatic capital. People sometimes think of the primitive Church as
if, after the Day of Pentecost, every individual Christian rushed off
to preach in the most distant parts of the world, and that the whole
earth was evangelised straight off. They forget the teaching of Christ
about the gospel leaven, and leaven never works all on an heap as it
were; it is slow, regular, progressive in its operations. The
tradition, too, that the apostles did not leave Jerusalem till twelve
years after His ascension ought to be a sufficient corrective of this
false notion; and though this tradition may not have any considerable
historical basis, yet it shows that the primitive Church did not
cherish the very modern idea that enormous and immediate successes
followed upon the preaching of the gospel after Pentecost, and that
the conversion of vast populations at once occurred. The case was
exactly contrary. For many a long year nothing at all was done towards
the conversion of the Gentile world, and then for many another long
year the preaching of the gospel among the Gentiles entirely depended
upon St. Paul alone. He was the one evangelist of the Gentiles, and
therefore it is no wonder he should have said in 1 Cor. i. 17, "Christ
sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel." He was the one man
fitted to deal with the prejudices, the ignorance, the sensuality, the
grossness with which the Gentile world was overspread, and therefore
no other work, no matter how important, was to be allowed to interfere
with that one task which he alone could perform. This seems to me the
explanation of the question which might otherwise cause some
difficulty, how was it that the Ephesians, Jews and Gentiles alike,
inhabiting this distinguished city, were still in such dire ignorance
of the gospel message twenty years after the Ascension? Now let us
come to the story of the circumstances amid which Ephesian
Christianity took its rise. St. Paul, as we have already said, paid a
passing visit to Ephesus just a year before when going up to
Jerusalem, when he seems to have made a considerable impression in the
synagogue. He left behind him Aquila and Priscilla, who, with their
household, formed a small Christian congregation, meeting doubtless
for the celebration of the Lord's Supper in their own house while yet
frequenting the stated worship of the synagogue. This we conclude from
the following circumstance which is expressly mentioned in Acts xviii.
26. Apollos, a Jew, born in Alexandria, and a learned man, as was
natural coming from that great centre of Greek and Oriental culture,
came to Ephesus. He had been baptized by some of John's disciples,
either at Alexandria or in Palestine. It may very possibly have been
at Alexandria. St. John's doctrines and followers may have spread to
Alexandria by that time, as we are expressly informed they had been
diffused as far as Ephesus (see ch. xix. 1-4). Apollos, when he came
to Ephesus, entered, like St. Paul, into the synagogue, and "spake and
taught carefully the things concerning Jesus, knowing only the baptism
of John." He knew about Jesus Christ, but with an imperfect knowledge
such merely as John himself possessed. This man began to speak boldly
in the synagogue on the topic of the Messiah whom John had preached.
Aquila and Priscilla were present in the synagogue, heard the
disputant, recognised his earnestness and his defects, and then,
having taken him, expounded to him the way of God more fully,
initiating him into the full mysteries of the faith by baptism into
the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.[185] This incident has
an important bearing upon the foundation and development of the
Ephesian Church, but it hears more directly still upon the point on
which we have been dwelling. Apollos disputed in the synagogues where
Aquila and Priscilla heard him, so that they must have been regular
worshippers there notwithstanding their Christian profession and their
close intercourse with St. Paul for more than eighteen months. After a
little time further, Apollos desired to pass over to Greece. The
little Christian Church which met at Aquila's house told him of the
wonders they had seen and heard in Achaia and of the flourishing state
of the Church in Corinth. They gave him letters commendatory to that
Church, whither Apollos passed over, and rendered such valuable help
that his name a year or two later became one of the watchwords of
Corinthian party strife. The way was now prepared for St. Paul's great
mission to Ephesus, exceeding in length any mission he had hitherto
conducted, surpassing in its duration of three years the time spent
even at Corinth itself. His own brief visit of the year before, the
visit and work of the Alexandrian Jew, the quiet conversations, the
holy lives, the sanctified examples of Aquila and Priscilla, these had
done the preliminary work. They had roused expectation, provoked
discussion, developed thought. Everything was ready for the great
masterful teacher to step upon the ground and complete the work which
he had already so auspiciously begun.

  [185] Meyer, in his Commentary on ch. xix. 5, enunciates the
  following extraordinary theory about Apollos, which plainly shows
  that, valuable as may be his textual criticism, his conception of
  Christian doctrine and of Apostolic Church life is very defective:
  "We may not infer from this passage that the disciples of John,
  who passed over to Christianity, were uniformly re-baptized; for
  in the case of the apostles who passed over from John to Jesus
  this certainly did not take place; and even as regards Apollos the
  common opinion that he was baptized by Aquila is purely arbitrary,
  as in xviii. 26 his instruction in Christianity, and not his
  baptism, is narrated." Again: "Apollos could dispense with
  re-baptism, seeing that he, with his fervid spirit, following the
  references of John to Christ, and the instruction of his teachers,
  penetrated without any new baptismal consecration into the
  pneumatic elements of life." Meyer evidently fails to grasp what
  the sacrament of baptism was, as conceived by St. Paul, and uses
  the most dangerous line of argument, that from silence, concluding
  that, because there is no mention of the Christian baptism of
  Apollos, therefore such a baptism never took place. But this is
  not all. Meyer's theory cannot possibly explain why baptism was
  necessary for Cornelius, though he enjoyed the gift of the Holy
  Ghost, while it was not necessary for Apollos, "who penetrated
  without any new baptismal consecration into the pneumatic element
  of life." Meyer says, indeed, that in the whole New Testament
  there is no example except in xix. 1-5 of the re-baptism of a
  disciple of John. But then in the Acts and Epistles, where alone
  we read of the administration of Christian baptism, there are only
  two examples of the admission of John's disciples. In one case
  twelve such were admitted, and they were all baptized by Paul's
  own order. In the case of Apollos there is silence. Surely the
  sounder conclusion is that Christian baptism was administered
  there too, though nothing is said about it! As for the apostles
  not being baptized with Christian baptism, the explanation is not
  far to seek. Baptism is the reception of a disciple into covenant
  with Christ through the medium of water. In the case of the
  apostles this reception took place in person, and not through any
  medium. In the apostles' case, too, there is another
  consideration. Meyer's conclusion is simply one _e silentio_ even
  in their case. We know not, however, everything that Christ did as
  regards His apostles.

I do not propose to discuss the roads by which St. Paul may have
travelled through the province of Asia on this eventful visit, nor to
discuss the architectural features, or the geographical position of
the city of Ephesus. These things I shall leave to the writers who
have treated of St. Paul's life. I now confine myself to the notices
inserted by St. Luke concerning the Apostle's Ephesian work, and about
it I note that upon his arrival St. Paul came in contact with a small
congregation of the disciples of John the Baptist,[186] who had
hitherto escaped the notice of the small Church existing at Ephesus.
This need not excite our wonder. We are apt to think that because
Christianity is now such a dominant element in our own intellectual
and religious atmosphere it must always have been the same. Ephesus,
too, was then an immense city, with a large population of Jews, who
may have had many synagogues. These few disciples of John the Baptist
may have worshipped in a synagogue which never heard of the brief
visit of a Cilician Jew, a teacher named Saul of Tarsus, much less of
the quiet efforts of Aquila and Priscilla, the tentmakers, lately come
from Corinth. St. Paul, on his second visit, soon came in contact with
these men. He at once asked them a question which tested their
position and attainments in the Divine life, and sheds for us a vivid
light upon apostolic doctrine and practice. "Did ye receive the Holy
Ghost when ye believed?" is plainly an inquiry whether they had
enjoyed the blessing connected with the solemn imposition of hands,
from which has been derived the rite of confirmation, as I showed in
the previous volume. The disciples soon revealed the imperfect
character of their religion by their reply: "Nay, we did not so much
as hear whether the Holy Ghost was," words which led St. Paul to
demand what in that case was the nature of their baptism. "Into what
then were ye baptized?" and they said, "Into John's baptism."

  [186] The movement instituted by St. John the Baptist was
  perpetuated into the second century, and in some measure developed
  into, or connected itself with, the sect subsequently called the
  Hemerobaptists. The history of this movement from apostolic days
  is elaborately traced by Bishop Lightfoot in his Essay on the
  Essenes, contained in his _Colossians and Philemon_; see
  especially pp. 400-407, to which we must refer the reader desirous
  of more information. The Hemerobaptists are mentioned in the
  _Clementine Recognitions_, i. 54, the _Clementine Homilies_, ii.
  23, which date from about 200 A.D., and in the _Apostolic
  Constitutions_, vi. 6, which may be put down as a century later.
  This shows the continuity of the sect. There are still some
  fragments of it existing in Babylonia, under the name of Mandeans:
  see further the article "Sabians" in Smith's _Dict. Christ.
  Biog._, iv. 569-73.

Now the simple explanation of the disciples' ignorance was that they
had been baptized with John's baptism, which had no reference to or
mention of the Holy Ghost. St. Paul, understanding them to be baptized
disciples, could not understand their ignorance of the personal
existence and present power of the Holy Ghost, till he learned from
them the nature of their baptism, and then his surprise ceased. But
then we must observe that the question of the Apostle astonished at
their defective state--"Into what then were ye baptized?"--implies
that, if baptized with Christian baptism, they would have known of the
existence of the Holy Ghost, and therefore further implies that the
baptismal formula into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
was of universal application among Christians; for surely if this
formula were not universally used by the Church, many Christians might
be in exactly the same position as these disciples of John, and never
have heard of the Holy Ghost![187] St. Paul, having expounded the
difference between the inchoate, imperfect, beginning knowledge, of
the Baptist, and the richer, fuller teaching of Jesus Christ, then
handed them over for further preparation to his assistants, by whom,
after due fasting and prayer, they were baptized,[188] and at once
presented to the Apostle for the imposition of hands; when the Holy
Ghost was vouchsafed in present effects, "they spake with tongues and
prophesied," as if to sanction in a special manner the decided action
taken by the Apostle on this occasion.

  [187] See my remarks on this topic on pp. 141, 142 of my first
  volume on Acts.

  [188] See the _Didache_, or _Teaching of the Twelve Apostles_,
  concerning the methods used in preparation for baptism.

The details concerning this affair, given to us by the sacred writer,
are most important. They set forth at greater length and with larger
fulness the methods ordinarily used by the Apostle than on other
similar occasions. The Philippian jailor was converted and baptized,
but we read nothing of the imposition of hands. Dionysius and Damaris,
Aquila and Priscilla, and many others at Athens and Corinth, were
converted, but there is no mention of either baptism or any other holy
rite. It might have been very possible to argue that the silence of
the writer implied utter contempt of the sacraments of the gospel and
the rite of confirmation on these occasions, were it not that we have
this detailed account of the manner in which St. Paul dealt with
half-instructed, unbaptized, and unconfirmed disciples of Christ
Jesus. They were instructed, baptized, and confirmed, and thus
introduced into the fulness of blessing, required by the discipline of
the Lord, as ministered by his faithful servant. If this were the
routine observed with those who had been taught "carefully the things
of Jesus, knowing only the baptism of John," how much more would it
have been the case with those rescued out of the pollutions of
paganism and called into the kingdom of light!

III. After this favourable beginning, and seeing the borders of the
infant Church extended by the union of these twelve disciples, St.
Paul, after his usual fashion, flung himself into work amongst the
Jews of Ephesus upon whom he had previously made a favourable
impression. He was well received for a time. He continued for three
months "reasoning and persuading as to the things concerning the
kingdom of God." But, as it was elsewhere, so was it at Ephesus, the
offence of the Cross told in the long run upon the worshippers of the
synagogue. The original Christian Church was Jewish. Aquila and
Priscilla, Apollos and Timothy, and the disciples of John the Baptist
would have excited no resentment in the minds of the Jews; but when
St. Paul began to open out the hope which lay for Gentiles as well as
for Jews in the gospel which he preached, then the objections of the
synagogue were multiplied, riots and disturbances became, as
elsewhere, matters of daily occurrence, and the opposition became at
last so bitter that, as at Corinth, so here again at Ephesus the
Apostle was obliged to separate his own followers, and gather them
into the school of one Tyrannus, a teacher of philosophy or rhetoric,
whom perhaps he had converted, where the blasphemous denunciations
against the Divine Way which he taught could no longer be heard.[189]
In this school or lecture-hall St. Paul continued labouring for more
than two years, bestowing upon the city of Ephesus a longer period of
continuous labour than he ever vouchsafed to any place else. We have
St. Paul's own statement as to his method of life at this period in
the address he subsequently delivered to the elders of Ephesus. The
Apostle pursued at Ephesus the same course which he adopted at Corinth
in one important direction at least. He supported himself and his
immediate companions, Timothy and Sosthenes, by his own labour, and
that we may presume for precisely the same reason at Ephesus as at
Corinth. He desired to cut off all occasion of accusation against
himself. Ephesus was a city devoted to commerce and to magic. It was
full of impostors too, many of them Jewish, who made gain out of the
names of angels and magical formulæ derived from the pretended wisdom
of Solomon handed down to them by secret succession, or derived to
them from contact with the lands of the far-distant East. St. Paul
determined, therefore, that he would give no opportunity of charging
him with trading upon the credulity of his followers, or working with
an eye to covetous or dishonest gains. "I coveted no man's silver or
gold or apparel. Ye yourselves know that these hands ministered unto
my necessities, and to them that were with me," is the description he
gave of the manner in which he discharged his apostolic office in
Ephesus, when addressing the elders of that city. We can thus trace
St. Paul labouring at his trade as a tentmaker for nearly a period of
five years, combining the time spent at Ephesus with that spent at
Corinth. Notwithstanding, however, the attention and energy which this
exercise of his trade demanded, he found time for enormous
evangelistic and pastoral work. In fact, we find St. Paul nowhere else
so much occupied with pastoral work as at Ephesus. Elsewhere we see
the devoted evangelist, rushing in with the pioneers, breaking down
all hindrances, heading the stormers to whom was committed the
fiercest struggle, the most deadly conflict, and then at once moving
into fresh conflicts, leaving the spoils of victory and the calmer
work of peaceful pastoral labours to others. But here in Ephesus we
see St. Paul's marvellous power of adaptation. He is at one hour a
clever artisan capable of gaining support sufficient for others as
well as for himself; then he is the skilful controversialist
"reasoning daily in the school of one Tyrannus"; and then he is the
indefatigable pastor of souls "teaching publicly, and from house to
house," and "ceasing not to admonish every one night and day with

  [189] See pp. 32, 33 above for some remarks on this title, the
  Way, used in the Acts for the Gospel Dispensation or the Christian
  Church. Cf. also ch. ix. 2, xix. 23, xxii. 4, xxiv. 14, and the
  expression the Way of Life in the _Didache_.

But this was not all, or nearly all, the burden the Apostle carried.
He had to be perpetually on the alert against Jewish plots. We hear
nothing directly of Jewish attempts on his life or liberty during the
period of just three years which he spent on this prolonged visit. We
might be sure, however, from our previous experience of the
synagogues, that he must have run no small danger in this direction;
but then when we turn to the same address we hear something of them.
He is recalling to the minds of the Ephesian elders the circumstances
of his life in their community from the beginning, and he therefore
appeals thus: "Ye yourselves know from the first day that I set foot
in Asia, after what manner I was with you all the time, serving the
Lord with all lowliness of mind, and with tears, _and with trials
which befell me with plots of the Jews_." Ephesus again was a great
field wherein he personally worked; it was also a great centre for
missionary operations which he superintended. It was the capital of
the province of Asia, the richest and most important of all the Roman
provinces, teeming with resources, abounding in highly civilised and
populous cities, connected with one another by an elaborate network of
admirably constructed roads. Ephesus was cut out by nature and by art
alike as a missionary centre whence the gospel should radiate out into
all the surrounding districts. And so it did. "All they which dwelt in
Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks," is the
testimony of St. Luke with respect to the wondrous progress of the
gospel, not in Ephesus alone, but also throughout all the province, a
statement which we find corroborated a little lower down in the same
nineteenth chapter by the independent testimony of Demetrius the
silversmith, who, when he was endeavouring to stir up his
fellow-craftsmen to active exertions in defence of their endangered
trade, says, "Ye see and hear that not alone at Ephesus, but almost
throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much
people." St. Paul's disciples laboured, too, in the other cities of
Asia, as Epaphras for instance in Colossæ. And St. Paul himself, we
may be certain, bestowed the gifts and blessings of his apostolic
office by visiting these local Churches, as far as he could
consistently with the pressing character of his engagements in
Ephesus.[190] But even the superintendence of vast missions throughout
the province of Asia did not exhaust the prodigious labours of St.
Paul. He perpetually bore about in his bosom anxious thoughts for the
welfare, trials, and sorrows of the numerous Churches he had
established in Europe and Asia alike. He was constant in prayers for
them, mentioning the individual members by name, and he was unwearied
in keeping up communications with them, either by verbal messages or
by written epistles, one specimen of which remains in the First
Epistle to the Corinthians, written to them from Ephesus, and showing
us the minute care, the comprehensive interest, the intense sympathy
which dwelt within his breast with regard to his distant converts all
the while that the work at Ephesus, controversial, evangelistic and
pastoral, to say nothing at all of his tentmaking, was making the most
tremendous demands on body and soul alike, and apparently absorbing
all his attention. It is only when we thus realise bit by bit what the
weak, delicate, emaciated Apostle must have been doing, that we are
able to grasp the full meaning of his own words to the Corinthians:
"Besides those things that are without, there is that which presseth
upon me daily, anxiety for all the Churches."

  [190] Bishop Lightfoot, _Colossians_, Introd., p. 30, has some
  good remarks bearing on this topic: "How or when the conversion of
  the Colossians took place we have no direct information. Yet it
  can hardly be wrong to connect the event with St. Paul's long
  sojourn at Ephesus. Here he remained preaching for three whole
  years. It is possible, indeed, that during this period he paid
  short visits to other neighbouring cities of Asia; but if so, the
  notices in the Acts oblige us to suppose these interruptions to
  his residence in Ephesus to have been slight and infrequent. Yet,
  though the Apostle himself was stationary in the capital, the
  Apostolic influence and teaching spread far beyond the limits of
  the city and its immediate neighbourhood. It was hardly an
  exaggeration when Demetrius declared that 'almost throughout all
  Asia this Paul had persuaded and turned away much people.' The
  sacred historian himself uses equally strong language in
  describing the effects of the Apostle's preaching: 'All they which
  dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.'
  In accordance with these notices the Apostle himself, in an
  Epistle written during this sojourn, sends salutations to Corinth,
  not from the Church of Ephesus specially, as might have been
  anticipated, but from the 'Churches of Asia' generally (1 Cor.
  xvi. 19). St. Luke, it should be observed, ascribes this
  dissemination of the gospel not to journeys undertaken by the
  Apostle, but to his preaching at Ephesus itself. Thither, as to
  the metropolis of Western Asia, would flock crowds from all the
  towns and villages far and near. Thence they would carry away,
  each to his own neighbourhood, the spiritual treasure which they
  had so unexpectedly found."

This lengthened period of intense activity of mind and body terminated
in an incident which illustrates the peculiar character of St. Paul's
Ephesian ministry. Ephesus was a town where the spiritual and moral
atmosphere simply reeked with the fumes, ideas, and practices of
Oriental paganism, of which magical incantations formed the
predominant feature. Magic prevailed all over the pagan world at this
time. In Rome, however, magical practices were always more or less
under the ban of public opinion, though at times resorted to even by
those whose office called upon them to suppress illegal actions. A
couple of years before the very time at which we have arrived, workers
in magic, among whom were included astrologers, or mathematicians, as
the Roman law called them, were banished from Rome simultaneously with
the Jews, who always enjoyed an unenviable notoriety for such occult
practices.[191] In Asia Minor and the East they flourished at this
time under the patronage of religion, and continued to flourish in all
the great cities down to Christian times. Christianity itself could
not wholly banish magic which retained its hold upon the
half-converted Christians who flocked into the Church in crowds during
the second half of the fourth century; and we learn from St.
Chrysostom himself, that when a young man he had a narrow escape for
his life owing to the continuance of magical practices in Antioch,
more than three hundred years after St. Paul.[192] It is no wonder
that when Diana's worship reigned supreme at Ephesus, magical
practices should also flourish there. If, however, there existed a
special development of the power of evil at Ephesus, God also bestowed
a special manifestation of Divine power in the person and ministry of
St. Paul, as St. Luke expressly declares: "God wrought special
miracles by the hands of Paul, insomuch that unto the sick were
carried away from his body handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases
departed from them, and the evil spirits departed from them." This
passage has been often found a stumbling-block by many persons. They
have thought that it has a certain legendary air about it, as they in
turn think that there is a certain air of legend about the similar
passage in Acts v. 12-16, which makes much the same statement about
St. Peter. When writing about this latter passage in my previous
volume, p. 230, I offered some suggestions which lessen, if they do
not quite take away, the difficulty; to these I shall now only refer
my readers. But I think we can see a local reason for the peculiar
development or manifestation of miraculous power through St. Paul. The
devil's seat was just then specially at Ephesus, so far as the great
province of Asia was concerned. The powers of evil had concentrated
all their force and all their wealth of external grandeur,
intellectual cleverness, and spiritual trickery in order to lead men
captive; and there God, in order that He might secure a more striking
victory for truth upon this magnificent stage, armed His faithful
servant with an extraordinary development of the good powers of the
world to come, enabling him to work special wonders in the sight of
the heathen. Can we not read an echo of the fearful struggle just then
waged in the metropolis of Asia in words addressed some years later to
the members of the same Church, "For our wrestling is not against
flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers,
against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts
of wickedness in the heavenly places"? We make a great mistake when we
think of the apostles as working miracles when and as they liked. At
times their evangelistic work seems to have been conducted without any
extraordinary manifestations, and then at other times, when the power
of Satan was specially put forth, God displayed His special strength,
enabling His servants to work wonders and signs in His Name. It was
much the same as in the Old Testament. The Old Testament miracles will
be found to cluster themselves round the deliverance of Israel out of
Egypt, and its Reformation at the hand of Elijah. So, too, the
recorded miracles of the apostles will be found to gather round St.
Peter's earlier work in Jerusalem, where Satan strove to counter-work
God's designs in one way, and St. Paul's ministry in Ephesus, where
Satan strove to counter-work them in another way. One incident at
Ephesus attracted special attention. There was a priestly family,
consisting of seven sons, belonging to the Jews at Ephesus. Their
father had occupied high position among the various courses which in
turn served the Temple, even as Zacharias, the father of the Baptist,
did. These men observed the power with which St. Paul dealt with human
spirits disordered by the powers of evil, using for that purpose the
sacred name of Jesus. They undertook to use the same sacred
invocation; but it proved, like the censers of Korah, Dathan and
Abiram, a strange fire kindled against their own souls. The man
possessed by the evil spirit recognised not their presumptuous
efforts, but attacked them, and did them serious bodily injury. This
circumstance spread the fame of the man of God wider and wider. The
power of magic and of the demons fell before him, even as the image of
Dagon fell before the Ark. Many of the nominal believers in
Christianity had still retained their magical practices as of yore,
even as nominal Christians retained them in the days of St.
Chrysostom. The reality of St. Paul's power, demonstrated by the awful
example of Sceva's sons, smote them in their inmost conscience. They
came, confessed their deeds, brought their magical books
together,[193] and gave the greatest proof of their honest
convictions; for they burned them in the sight of all, and counting
the price thereof found it fifty thousand pieces of silver, or more
than two thousand pounds of our money. "So mightily grew the word of
the Lord and prevailed" in the very chosen seat of the Ephesian Diana.

  [191] I allude, of course, to the decree of Claudius against the
  Jews in A.D. 52, to which Suetonius (_Claudius_, 25) and Dio
  Cassius, lx. 6, refer; cf. Tacitus, _Annals_, xii. 52, and Lewin's
  _Fasti Sacri_, A.D. 52.

  [192] The story is an interesting one. It will be found in
  Stephens' _Life of St. Chrysostom_, p. 61. The Emperor Valens had
  discovered that some of his enemies had been endeavouring, through
  magical contrivances something like table-rapping, to spell out
  the name of his successor, and had succeeded so far that they had
  found out the first part of the name as Theod, but the oracle
  could tell nothing more. The jealous Emperor ordered every
  prominent man with the names Theodore or Theodosius to be slain,
  vainly thinking to kill his own successor. He also ordered every
  one found with magical books in their possession to be at once
  slain. Chrysostom and a friend were walking in A.D. 374 on the
  banks of the Orontes when they saw a book floating down the
  stream. They stretched forth and rescued it, when, seeing that it
  was a magical book, they at once flung it back into the river, and
  not a moment too soon, as just then a police officer on detective
  duty appeared on the scene, from whom a moment earlier they could
  not have escaped. St. Chrysostom always regarded this as one of
  the great escapes of his life: see Art. "Chrysostom" in _Dict.
  Christ. Biog._, vol. i., p. 520, and his own reference to the
  escape in his 38th Homily on the Acts, translated in the Oxford
  Library of the Fathers. Mr. Stephens, _l.c._, gives an account of
  the magical rites and their ceremonial, which was doubtless much
  the same in A.D. 374 as in A.D. 54, whence we take a brief
  extract: "The twenty-four letters of the alphabet were arranged at
  intervals round the rim of a kind of charger, which was placed on
  a tripod consecrated by magic songs and frequent ceremonies. The
  diviner, habited as a heathen priest, in linen robes, sandals, and
  with a fillet wreathed about his head, chanted a hymn to Apollo,
  the god of prophecy, while a ring in the centre of the charger was
  slipped rapidly round a slender thread. The letters in front of
  which the ring successively stopped indicated the character of the

  [193] The magical books thus consigned to the flames by the
  Christian believers who practised magic were filled with figures
  or characters technically called "Ephesian letters," Γράμματα
  Ἐφέσια. These were mystic characters and strange
  words which were engraven on the crown, zone, and feet of the
  goddess. Clement of Alexandria discusses their use, and says the
  Greeks were greatly addicted to them, in his _Stromata_, v. 8, as
  translated in Clement's works, vol. ii., p. 247, in Clark's
  Ante-Nicene Library. The same use of curious mystic words passed
  over to the Manichæans and other secret sects of mediæval times.
  See also Guhl's _Ephesiaca_, p. 94 (Berlin, 1843), where all the
  authorities on this curious subject are collected together.
  Conybeare and Howson, ch. xiv., give them from Guhl in a handy
  shape. Great quantities of these "Ephesian letters" have been
  found among the Fayûm Manuscripts discovered in Egypt, which
  almost universally make a large use of the name Iao or Jehovah,
  showing their contact with Judaism.



     "About that time there arose no small stir concerning the Way.
     For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made
     silver shrines of Diana, brought no little business unto the
     craftsmen; whom he gathered together, with the workmen of like
     occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this business we have
     our wealth. And ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but
     almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned
     away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made
     with hands; and not only is there danger that this our trade come
     into disrepute; but also that the temple of the great goddess
     Diana be made of no account, and that she should even be deposed
     from her magnificence, whom all Asia and the world
     worshippeth."--ACTS xix. 23-8.

St. Paul's labours at Ephesus covered, as he informs us himself, when
addressing the elders of that city, a space of three years. The
greater portion of that period had now expired, and had been spent in
peaceful labours so far as the heathen world and the Roman authorities
were concerned. The Jews, indeed, had been very troublesome at times.
It is in all probability to them and their plots St. Paul refers when
in 1 Cor. xv. 32 he says, "If after the manner of men I fought with
beasts at Ephesus, what doth it profit me?" as the unbelieving
Gentiles do not seem to have raised any insurrection against his
teaching till he felt his work was done, and he was, in fact,
preparing to leave Ephesus. Before, however, we proceed to discuss
the startling events which finally decided his immediate departure, we
must consider a brief passage which connects the story of Sceva's sons
and their impious temerity with that of the silversmith Demetrius and
the Ephesian riot.

The incident connected with Sceva's sons led to the triumph over the
workers in magic, when the secret professors of that art came and
publicly acknowledged their hidden sins, proving their reality by
burning the instruments of their wickedness. Here, then, St. Luke
inserts a notice which has proved to be of the very greatest
importance in the history of the Christian Church. Let us insert it in
full that we may see its bearing: "Now after these things were ended,
Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and
Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must
also see Rome. And having sent into Macedonia two of them that
ministered unto him, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia
for a while." This passage tells us that St. Paul, after his triumph
over the practices of magic, and feeling too that the Church had been
effectually cleansed, so far as human foresight and care could effect
it, from the corroding effects of the prevalent Ephesian vice, now
determined to transfer the scene of his labours to Macedonia and
Achaia, wishing to visit those Churches which five years before he had
founded. It was full five years, at least, since he had seen the
Philippian, Thessalonian, and Berœan congregations. Better than
three years had elapsed since he had left Corinth, the scene of more
prolonged work than he had ever bestowed on any other city except
Ephesus. He had heard again and again from all these places, and some
of the reports, especially those from Corinth, had been very
disquieting. The Apostle wished, therefore, to go and see for himself
how the Churches of Christ in Macedonia and Achaia were faring. He
next wished to pay a visit to Jerusalem to consult with his brethren,
and then felt his destiny pushing him still westwards, desiring to see
Rome, the world's capital, and the Church which had sprung up there,
of which his friends Priscilla and Aquila must have told him much.
Such seems to have been his intentions in the spring of the year 57,
to which his three years' sojourn in Ephesus seems now to have brought

The interval of time covered by the two verses which I have quoted
above is specially interesting, because it was just then that the
First Epistle to the Corinthians was written. All the circumstances
and all the indications of time which the Epistle itself offers
conspire to fix the writing of it to this special date and place. The
Epistle, for instance, refers to Timothy as having been already sent
into Macedonia and Greece: "For this cause have I sent unto you
Timothy, who shall put you in remembrance of my ways which be in
Christ" (1 Cor. iv. 17). In Acts xix. 22 we have it stated, "Having
sent into Macedonia Timothy and Erastus." The Epistle again plainly
tells us the very season of the year in which it was written. The
references to the Passover season--"For our passover also hath been
sacrificed, even Christ; wherefore let us keep the feast"--are words
which naturally were suggested by the actual celebration of the Jewish
feast, to a mind like St. Paul's, which readily grasped at every
passing allusion or chance incident to illustrate his present
teaching. Timothy and Erastus had been despatched in the early spring,
as soon as the passes and roads were thoroughly open and navigation
established. The Passover in A.D. 57 happened on April 7th, and the
Apostle fixes the exact date of the First Epistle to Corinth, when in
the sixteenth chapter and eighth verse he says to the Corinthians, "I
will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost." I merely refer now to this
point to illustrate the vastness of the Apostle's labours, and to call
attention to the necessity for comparing together the Acts and the
Epistles in the minute manner exemplified by Paley in the _Horæ
Paulinæ_, if we wish to gain a complete view of a life like St.
Paul's, so completely consecrated to one great purpose.[194]

  [194] This subject properly belongs to commentators on 1
  Corinthians. Paley, in _Horæ Paulinæ_, ch. iii., and Dr. Marcus
  Dods, in his _Introduction to the New Testament_, pp. 104, 105,
  set forth the evidence in a convenient shape. I may remark that
  here, as elsewhere, I adopt in the main Mr. Lewin's chronology, as
  contained in his _Fasti Sacri_. Without pledging myself to agree
  in all his details, his scheme forms a good working hypothesis, on
  which a writer can work when composing an expositor's commentary,
  not one for professed critics or profound scholars.

Man may propose, but even an apostle cannot dispose of his fate as he
will, or foretell under ordinary circumstances how the course of
events will affect him. St. Paul intended to stay at Ephesus till
Pentecost, which that year happened on May 28th. Circumstances however
hastened his departure. We have been considering the story of St.
Paul's residence in Ephesus, but hitherto we have not heard one word
about the great Ephesian deity, Diana, as the Romans called her, or
Artemis, as St. Luke, according to the ordinary local use, correctly
calls her in the Greek text of the Acts, or Anaïtis, as her ancient
name had been from early times at Ephesus and throughout Asia
Minor.[195] If this riot had not happened, if our attention had not
been thus called to Diana and her worship, there might have been a
total blank in St. Luke's narrative concerning this famous deity, and
her equally famous temple, which was at the time one of the wonders of
the world. And then some scoffers reading in ancient history
concerning the wonders of this temple, and finding the records of
modern discoveries confirming the statements of antiquity might have
triumphantly pointed to St. Luke's silence about Diana and the
Ephesian temple as a proof of his ignorance. A mere passing riot alone
has saved us from this difficulty. Now this case well illustrates the
danger of arguing from silence. Silence concerning any special point
is sometimes used as a proof that a particular writer knew nothing
about it. But this is not the sound conclusion. Silence proves in
itself nothing more than that the person who is silent either had no
occasion to speak upon that point or else thought it wiser or more
expedient to hold his tongue. Josephus, for instance, is silent about
Christianity; but that is no proof that Christianity did not exist in
his time, or that he knew nothing about it. His silence may simply
have arisen because he found Christianity an awkward fact, and not
knowing how to deal with it he left it alone. It is well to bear this
simple law of historical evidence in mind, for a great many of the
popular objections to the sacred narratives, both of the Old and New
Testaments, are based upon the very dangerous ground of silence
alone.[196] Let us, however, return to Diana of the Ephesians. The
worship of the goddess Artemis dominated the whole city of
Ephesus,[197] and helped to shape the destinies of St. Paul at this
season, for while intending to stay at Ephesus till Pentecost at the
end of May, the annual celebration of Artemisia, the feast of the
patron deity of the city, happened, of which celebration Demetrius
took advantage to raise a disturbance which hastened St. Paul's
departure into Macedonia.

  [195] The student may consult on the identification of Artemis and
  the Oriental or Persian deity Anaïtis, the _Revue Archéologique_
  for 1885, vol. ii., pp. 105-115, and Derenbourg and Saglio's
  _Dict. des Antiq._, s.v. Diana.

  [196] This argument may be pressed further. The silence which we
  observe in much of second-century literature about the New
  Testament Canon and Episcopacy is of the same character. The best
  known and most notorious facts are those about which authors are
  most apt to be silent when writing for contemporaries, simply
  because every person acknowledges them and takes them for granted.

  [197] This is manifest at once if the reader will consult Mr.
  Wood's _Ephesus_ or Guhl's _Ephesiaca_, a work which, though
  published (in 1843) before modern discoveries had taught all we
  now know, is a most elaborate account of ancient Ephesus gleaned
  out of ancient writers.

We have now cleared the way for the consideration of the narrative of
the riot, which is full of the most interesting information concerning
the progress of the gospel, and offers us the most wonderful instances
of the minute accuracy of St. Luke, which again have been illustrated
and confirmed in the fullest manner by the researches so abundantly
bestowed upon Ephesus within the lifetime of the present generation.
Let us take the narrative in the exact order given us by St. Luke:
"About that time there arose no small stir about the Way." But why
about that special time? We have already said that here we find an
indication of the date of the riot. It must have happened during the
latter part of April, A.D. 57, and we know that at Ephesus almost the
whole month of April, or Artemisius, was dedicated to the honour and
worship of Artemis.[198] But here it may be asked, How did it come to
pass that Artemis or Diana occupied such a large share in the public
worship of Ephesus and the province of Asia? Has modern research
confirmed the impression which this chapter leaves upon the mind, that
the Ephesian people were above all else devoted to the worship of the
deity? The answers to both these queries are not hard to give, and
serve to confirm our belief in the honesty and accuracy of the sacred
penman. The worship of Artemis, or of Anaïtis rather, prevailed in the
peninsula of Asia Minor from the time of Cyrus, who introduced it six
or seven centuries before.[199] Anaïtis was the Asiatic deity of
fruitfulness, the same as Ashtoreth of the Bible, whom the Greeks soon
identified with their own goddess Artemis. Her worship quickly spread,
specially through that portion of the country which afterwards became
the province of Asia, and through the adjacent districts; showing how
rapidly an evil taint introduced into a nation's spiritual life-blood
spreads throughout its whole organisation, and when once introduced
how persistently it holds its ground; a lesson taught here in New
Testament times, as in Old Testament days it was proclaimed in
Israel's case by the oft-repeated statement concerning her kings,
"Howbeit from the sins of Jeroboam [king after king] departed not."
The spiritual life and tone of a nation is a very precious thing, and
because it is so the Church of England does well to bestow so much of
her public supplication upon those who have power, like Cyrus and
Jeroboam, to taint it at the very foundation and origin thereof. When,
for instance, St. Paul landed at Perga in Pamphylia, on the first
occasion when he visited Asia Minor as a Christian missionary, his eye
was saluted with the splendid temple of Diana on the side of the hill
beneath which the city was built, and all over the country at every
important town similar temples were erected in her honour, where their
ruins have been traced by modern travellers.[200] The cult or worship
introduced by Cyrus exactly suited the morals and disposition of these
Oriental Greeks, and flourished accordingly.

  [198] See on the exact time of the Macedonian and Ephesian month
  of Artemisius, Ussher's treatise on the Macedonian and Asiatic
  solar year, in the seventh volume of his works Ed. Elrington, p.
  425, with which may be compared Bishop Lightfoot's _Ignatius_, i.
  660-700. Mr. Lewin, in his _Fasti Sacri_, p. 309, makes it the
  month of May. The Macedonian month Artemisius extended from March
  25th to April 24th. This point is further discussed in Lewin's
  _St. Paul_, vol. i., p. 405. If St. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians at or
  shortly before April 7th, the date of the Passover, the riot which
  hastened his departure must have happened within the succeeding
  fortnight. Bœckh, in the Corpus of Greek Inscriptions, No.
  2954, inserts a long Greek inscription, found one hundred and
  seventy years ago at Ephesus, laying down the ceremonial to be
  observed in honour of the deity throughout the whole month, which
  Mr. Lewin translates, vol. i., p. 405. See, however, more upon
  this below.

  [199] The Persian language was still used in the worship of Diana
  at Hierocæsarea and Hypæpa, two well-known towns of the province
  of Asia in the second century of our era. See Pausanias, v. 27;
  cf. Tacitus, _Annals_, iii. 62, and Ramsay's _Hist. Geog._, p.

  [200] Voluntary associations were formed all over Asia Minor to
  cultivate the worship of Artemis. Modern research, for instance,
  has found inscriptions raised by the Xenoi Tekmoreioi indicating
  their peculiar devotion to Diana and her worship. They specially
  flourished at a place called Saghir, near Antioch in Pisidia. It
  is a curious fact that the cult of the B.V.M. has been substituted
  for that of Artemis by the Greeks of the neighbourhood, and a
  feast in her honour is celebrated at the same time as the ancient
  feast. See _Revue Archéologique_, 1887, vol. i., p. 96; Ramsay, in
  his _Geography of Asia Minor_, p. 409, and in _Jour. Hell.
  Studies_ for 1883.

Artemis was esteemed the protectress of the cities where her temples
were built, which, as in the case of Ephesus and of Perga, were placed
outside the gates like the temple of Jupiter at Lystra, in order that
their presence might cast a halo of protection over the adjacent
communities. The temple of Diana at Ephesus was a splendid building.
It had been several times destroyed by fire notwithstanding its
revered character and the presence of the sacred image,[201] and had
been as often rebuilt with greater splendour than before, till the
temple was erected existing in St. Paul's day, which justly excited
the wonder of mankind, as its splendid ruins have shown, which Mr.
Wood has excavated in our own time at the expense of the English
Government.[202] The devotion of the Ephesians to this ancient Asiatic
deity had even been increasing of late years when St. Paul visited
Ephesus, as a decree still exists in its original shape graven in
stone exactly as St. Paul must have seen it enacting extended honours
to the deity. As this decree bears directly upon the famous riot which
Demetrius raised, we insert it here in full, as an interesting
confirmation and illustration of the sacred narrative: "To the
Ephesian Diana. Forasmuch as it is notorious that not only among the
Ephesians, but also everywhere among the Greek nations, temples are
consecrated to her, and sacred precincts, and that she hath images and
altars dedicated to her on account of her plain manifestations of
herself, and that, besides, the greatest token of veneration paid to
her, a month is called after her name, by us Artemision, by the
Macedonians and other Greek nations and their cities, Artemisius, in
which month general gatherings and festivals are celebrated, and more
especially in our own city, the nurse of its own, the Ephesian
goddess. Now the people of Ephesus deeming it proper that the whole
month called by her name should be sacred and set apart to the
goddess, have resolved by this decree, that the observation of it by
them be altered. Therefore it is enacted, that the whole month
Artemision in all the days of it shall be holy, and that throughout
the month there shall be a continued celebration of feasts and the
Artemisian festivals and the holy days, seeing that the entire month
is sacred to the goddess; for from this improvement in her worship our
city shall receive additional lustre and enjoy perpetual
prosperity."[203] Now this decree, which preceded St. Paul's labours
perhaps by twenty years or more, has an important bearing on our
subject. St. Luke tells us that "about this time there arose no small
stir about the Way"; and it was only quite natural and quite in accord
with what we know of other pagan persecutions, and of human nature in
general, that the precise time at which the Apostle had then arrived
should have been marked by this riot. The whole city of Ephesus was
then given up to the celebration of the festival held in honour of
what we may call the national religion and the national deity. That
festival lasted the whole month, and was accompanied, as all human
festivals are apt to be accompanied, with a vast deal of drunkenness
and vice, as we are expressly told in an ancient Greek romance,
written by a Greek of whom little is known, named Achilles
Tatius.[204] The people of Ephesus were, in fact, mad with excitement,
and it did not require any great skill to stir them up to excesses in
defence of the endangered deity whose worship was the glory of their
city. We know from one or two similar cases that the attack made upon
St. Paul at this pagan festival had exact parallels in these early

  [201] The original sacred image, which was preserved inside a
  screen or curtain in the inmost temple, was a shapeless mass of
  wood something like the prehistoric blocks of wood or stone which
  were esteemed at Athens and elsewhere the most venerable images of
  their favourite deities: see Pausanias, _Description of Greece_,
  i. 26. The legend at Ephesus was just the same as at Athens and
  elsewhere, that these prehistoric images had fallen down from
  heaven. Some of them may have been aerolites.

  [202] The temple of Ephesus is depicted in Conybeare and Howson's
  and Lewin's _St. Paul_, as well as it could have been restored
  from a study of books. At the time of their publication neither
  Mr. Wood's discoveries had been made nor his work on Ephesus
  published. The plans and engravings in Mr. Wood's work of course
  supersede all others. The plans, etc., in the other works are
  sufficiently accurate to enable the reader to realise the language
  of the Acts.

  [203] The original of this decree will be found in Bœckh's
  _Corp. Inscriptt. Græc._, No. 2954, and the translation in Lewin's
  _St. Paul_, 405.

  [204] There is a long account of Achilles Tatius in the
  _Bibliotheca Græca_ of Fabricius. He was a pagan first, and then
  became a Christian. His age is uncertain, but he certainly seems
  to have lived when pagan feasts were still observed in their
  ancient splendour. The book in which he describes them is called
  _De Amoribus Clitophontis et Leucippes_, where in Book VI., ch.
  iii. there is an account of the drunkenness and idleness at the
  feast of Diana. The words of Achilles Tatius bring the scene
  vividly before us as St. Paul must have seen it: "It was the
  festival of Artemis, and every place was full of drunken men, and
  all the market-place was full of a multitude of men through the
  whole night." In Mason's _Diocletian Persecution_, p. 361, there
  will be found an account of a festival celebrated in honour of
  Artemis in the same spring season at Ancyra in Galatia. This
  latter account is useful as giving us an authentic account of a
  Celtic festival of Diana about the year 306 A.D. It would seem as
  if an annual public washing of the image of Diana constituted an
  important part of the ceremonial. Both at Ancyra as told in the
  Acts of St. Theodotus and at Ephesus the image of Diana was
  annually carried about in a waggon drawn by mules: see Guhl's
  _Ephesiaca_, p. 114. At Ancyra, during the Diocletian persecution,
  seven Christian virgins were dressed as priestesses of Diana and
  condemned to publicly wash the idol. Upon their refusal they were
  all drowned in the lake where the image was washed. The Seven
  Virgins of Ancyra are celebrated in the annals of Christian
  martyrdom for their heroic resistance on this occasion. See Mason,
  _l.c._, and the _Dict. Christ. Biog._, _s.v._ Seven Virgins of
  Ancyra and Theodotus.

This festival in honour of Diana was generally utilised as the
meeting-time of the local diet or parliament of the province of Asia,
where deputies from all the cities of the province met together to
consult on their common wants and transmit their decisions to the
proconsul, a point to which we shall later on have occasion to refer.
Just ninety years later one of the most celebrated of the primitive
martyrs suffered upon the same occasion at Smyrna. Polycarp, the
disciple of St. John, lived to a very advanced period, and helped to
hand down the tradition of apostolic life and doctrine to another
generation. Polycarp, is, in fact, through Irenæus, one of the chief
historic links uniting the Church of later times with the apostles.
Polycarp suffered martyrdom amid the excitement raised during the
meeting of the same diet of Asia held, not at Ephesus, but at Smyrna,
and attended by the same religious ceremonies and observances. Or let
us again turn towards the West, and we shall find it the same. The
martyrdoms of Vienne and Lyons described by Eusebius in the fifth book
of his history are among the most celebrated in the whole history of
the Church, and as such have been already referred to and used in this
commentary.[205] These martyrdoms are an illustration of the same fact
that the Christians were always exposed to peculiar danger at the
annual pagan celebrations. The Gallic tribes, the seven nations of the
Gauls, as they were called, were holding their annual diet or
assembly, and celebrating the worship of the national deities when
their zeal was excited to red-hot pitch against the Christians of
Vienne and Lyons, resulting in the terrible outbreak of which Eusebius
in his fifth book tells us.[206] As it was in Gaul about 177 A.D. and
in Smyrna about 155 A.D., so was it in Ephesus in the year 57; the
month's festival, celebrated in honour of Diana, accompanied with
eating and drinking and idleness in abundance, told upon the populace,
and made them ready for any excess, so that it is no wonder we should
read, "About that time there arose no small stir about the Way." Then
too there is another circumstance which may have stirred up Demetrius
to special violence. His trade was probably falling off owing to St.
Paul's labours, and this may have been brought home to him with
special force by the results of the festival which was then in process
of celebration or perhaps almost finished. All the circumstances fit
this hypothesis. The shrine-makers were, we know, a very important
element in the population of Ephesus, and the trade of shrine-making
and the manufacture of other silver ornaments conduced in no small
degree to the commercial prosperity of the city of Ephesus. This is
plainly stated upon the face of our narrative: "Ye know that by this
business we have our wealth, and ye see and hear that not alone at
Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath turned away
much people," facts which could not have been more forcibly brought
home to them than by the decreasing call they were experiencing for
the particular articles which they produced.

  [205] See vol. i., pp. 8, 9.

  [206] See the articles on Polycarp in the _Dict. Christ. Biog._,
  iv. 426, and on Martyrs of Lyons, iii. 764. As regards Polycarp,
  see also Lightfoot's _Ignatius_, vol. i., p. 436; and as regards
  the Martyrs of Lyons, see Rénan's _Marc-Aurèle_, pp. 329, 331. It
  is interesting to notice, in the writings of St. Paulinus of Nola
  written about the year 400 A.D., his complaints about the abuses,
  drunkenness and idleness, connected with the feasts and holy days
  observed in honour of his great patron and hero St. Felix the
  Martyr. A similar feeling of the moral dangers connected with
  religious holy days led to the abbreviation of the week's holiday
  following Easter and Whitsunday to Monday and Tuesday as at

Now the question may be proposed, Was this the fact? Was Ephesus
celebrated for its shrine-makers, and were shrines and silver
ornaments a favourite manufacture in that city? Here modern research
comes in to testify to the marked truthfulness, the minute accuracy of
St. Luke. We do not now need to appeal to ancient authors, as _Lives
of St. Paul_ like those written by Mr. Lewin or by Messrs. Conybeare
and Howson do. The excavations which have taken place at Ephesus since
the publication of these valuable works have amply vindicated the
historic character of our narrative on this point. Mr. Wood in the
course of his excavations at Ephesus discovered a vast number of
inscriptions and sculptures which had once adorned the temple of
Ephesus, but upon its destruction had been removed to the theatre,
which continued in full operation long after the pagan temple had
disappeared.[207] Among these inscriptions there was one enormous one
brought to light. It was erected some forty years or so after St.
Paul's time, but it serves in the minuteness of its details to
illustrate the story of Demetrius, the speech he made, and the riot he
raised. This inscription was raised in honour of a wealthy Roman named
Gaius Vibius Salutarius, who had dedicated to Artemis a large number
of silver images weighing from three to seven pounds each, and had
even provided a competent endowment for keeping up a public festival
in her honour, which was to be celebrated on the birthday of the
goddess, which happened in the month of April or May. The inscription,
which contains the particulars of the offering made by this Roman,
would take up quite too much space if we desired to insert it. We can
only now refer our readers to Mr. Wood's book on Ephesus, where they
will find it given at full length. A few lines may, however, be quoted
to illustrate the extent to which the manufacture of silver shrines
and silver ornaments in honour of Artemis must have flourished in
Ephesus. This inscription enumerates the images dedicated to the
goddess which Salutarius had provided by his endowments, entering into
the most minute details as to their treatment and care. The following
passage gives a vivid picture of Ephesian idolatry as the Apostle saw
it: "Let two statues of Artemis of the weight of three pounds three
ounces be religiously kept in the custody of Salutarius, who himself
consecrated them, and after the death of Salutarius, let the aforesaid
statues be restored to the town-clerk of the Ephesians, and let it be
made a rule that they be placed at the public meetings above the seat
of the council in the theatre before the golden statue of Artemis and
the other statues. And a golden Artemis weighing three pounds and two
silver deer attending her, and the rest of the images of the weight of
two pounds ten ounces and five grammes, and a silver statue of the
Sacred Senate of the weight of four pounds two ounces, and a silver
statue of the council of the Ephesians. Likewise a silver Artemis
bearing a torch of the weight of six pounds, and a silver statue of
the Roman people." And so the inscription proceeds to name and devote
silver and golden statues literally by dozens, which Salutarius
intended to be borne in solemn procession on the feast-day of Diana.
It is quite evident that did we possess but this inscription alone, we
have here amply sufficient evidence showing us that one of the staple
trades of Ephesus, one upon which the prosperity and welfare of a
large section of its inhabitants depended, was this manufacture of
silver and gold ornaments directly connected with the worship of the
goddess.[208] For it must be remembered that the guild of
shrine-makers did not depend alone upon the chance liberality of a
stray wealthy Roman or Greek like Salutarius, who might feel moved to
create a special endowment or bestow special gifts upon the temple.
The guild of shrine-makers depended upon the large and regular demand
of a vast population who required a supply of cheap and handy shrines
to satisfy their religious cravings. The population of the surrounding
districts and towns poured into Ephesus at this annual festival of
Diana and paid their devotions in her temple. But even the pagans
required some kind of social and family religion. They could not live
as too many nominal Christians are contented to live, without any
family or personal acknowledgment of their dependence upon a higher
power. There was no provision for public worship in the rural
districts answering to our parochial system, and so they supplied the
want by purchasing on occasions like this feast of Diana, shrines,
little silver images, or likenesses of the central cell of the great
temple where the sacred image rested, and which served as central
points to fix their thoughts and excite the gratitude due to the
goddess whom they adored. Demetrius and his fellow-craftsmen depended
upon the demand created by a vast population of devout believers in
Artemis, and when this demand began to fall off Demetrius traced the
bad trade which he and his fellows were experiencing to the true
source. He recognised the Christian teaching imparted by St. Paul as
the deadly enemy of his unrighteous gains, and naturally directed the
rage of the mob against the preacher of truth and righteousness. The
actual words of Demetrius are deserving of the most careful study, for
they too have been illustrated by modern discovery in the most
striking manner. Having spoken of the results of St. Paul's teaching
in Asia of which they all had had personal experience, he then
proceeds to expatiate on its dangerous character, not only as regards
their own personal interests, but as regards the goddess and her
sacred dignity as well: "And not only is there danger that this our
trade come into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great
goddess Diana be made of no account, and that she should be deposed
from her magnificence whom all Asia and the world worshippeth."
Demetrius cleverly but lightly touches upon the self-interest of the
workmen. He does not dwell on that topic too long, because it is never
well for an orator who wishes to rouse his hearers to enthusiasm to
dwell too long or too openly upon merely selfish consideration. Man is
indeed intensely selfish by nature, but then he does not like to be
told so too openly, or to have his own selfishness paraded too
frequently before his face. He likes to be flattered as if he
cherished a belief in higher things, and to have his low ends and
baser motives clothed in a similitude of noble enthusiasm. Demetrius
hints therefore at their own impoverishment as the results of Paul's
teaching, but expatiates on the certain destruction which awaits the
glory of their time-honoured and world-renowned deity if free course
be any longer permitted to such doctrine. This speech is a skilful
composition all through. It shows that the ancient rhetorical skill of
the Greeks still flourished in Ephesus, and not the least skilful, and
at the same time not the least true touch in the speech was that
wherein Demetrius reminded his hearers that the world were onlookers
and watchers of their conduct, noting whether or not they would
vindicate Diana's assailed dignity. It was a true touch, I say, for
modern research has shown that the worship of the Ephesian Artemis was
world-wide in its extent; it had come from the distant east, and had
travelled to the farthest west. We have already noted the testimony of
modern travellers showing that her worship extended over Asia Minor in
every direction. This fact Demetrius long ago told the Ephesians, and
ancient authors have repeated his testimony, and modern travellers
have merely corroborated them. But we were not aware how accurate was
Demetrius about the whole world worshipping Artemis, till in our own
time the statues and temples of the Ephesian goddess were found
existing so far west as Southern Gaul, Marseilles, and the coast of
Spain, proving that wherever Asiatic sailors and Asiatic merchants
came thither they brought with them the worship of their favourite

  [207] The pagan temples were almost universally destroyed about
  the year 400. The edicts dealing with this matter and an ample
  commentary upon them will be found in the Theodosian Code, edited
  by that eminent scholar Godefroy.

  [208] An interesting confirmation of this fact came to light in
  modern times. In the year 1830 there was found in Southern France
  a piece of such Ephesian silver work wrought in honour of Artemis,
  and carried into Gaul by one of her worshippers. It is now
  deposited in the Bibliothèque Nationale, and has been fully
  described in an interesting article in the _Journal of Hellenic
  Studies_, vol. iii., pp. 104-106, written by that eminent
  antiquary C. Waldstein.

  [209] See the _Revue Archéologique_ for 1886, vol. ii., p. 257,
  about the worship of the Ephesian Artemis in Marseilles and
  Southern Gaul, and an article in the _Journal of Hellenic Studies_
  for 1889, vol. x., p. 216, by Professor Ramsay, on the vast extent
  of Artemis worship in Asia. In the same journal, for 1890, vol.
  xi., p. 235, we have an account of the discovery of one of the
  original seats of Artemis worship in Eastern Cilicia by Mr. J. T.
  Bent; while again, in vol. iv., p. 40-43, Ramsay gives us a
  subscription list raised in Pisidia for the purpose of building a
  temple of Artemis in a country district.

Let us pass on, however, and see whether the remainder of this
narrative will not afford us subject-matter for abundant
illustrations. The mob drank in the speech of Demetrius, and responded
with the national shout, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians," a cry
which has been found inscribed on altars and tablets all over the
province of Asia, showing that it was a kind of watchword among the
inhabitants of that district. The crowd of workmen whom Demetrius had
been addressing then rushed into the theatre, the usual place of
assembly for the people of Ephesus, dragging with them "Gaius and
Aristarchus,[210] men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel." The
Jews too followed the mob, eager to make the unexpected tumult serve
their own hostile purposes against St. Paul. News of the riot was soon
carried to the Apostle, who learning of the danger to which his
friends were exposed desired to enter that theatre the magnificent
proportions and ornamentation of which have been for the first time
displayed to modern eyes by the labours of Mr. Wood. But the local
Christians knew the Ephesian mob and their state of excitement better
than St. Paul did, and so they would not allow him to risk his life
amid the infuriated crowd. The Apostle's teaching too had reached the
very highest ranks of Ephesian and Asiatic society. The very Asiarchs,
being his friends, sent unto him and requested him not to enter the
theatre. Here again we come across one of those incidental references
which display St. Luke's acquaintance with the local peculiarities of
the Ephesian constitution, and which have been only really appreciated
in the light of modern discoveries. In the time of King James I.,
when the Authorised Version was made, the translators knew nothing of
the proof of the sacred writer's accuracy which lay under their hands
in the words, "Certain of the Asiarchs or chief officers of Asia," and
so they translated them very literally but very incorrectly, "Certain
of the chief of Asia," ignoring completely the official rank and title
which these men possessed. A few words must suffice to give a brief
explanation of the office these men held. The province of Asia from
ancient times had celebrated this feast of Artemis at an assembly of
all the cities of Asia. This we have already explained. The Romans
united with the worship of Artemis the worship of the Emperor and of
the City of Rome; so that loyalty to the Emperor and loyalty to the
national religion went hand in hand. They appointed certain officials
to preside at these games, they made them presidents of the local
diets or parliaments which assembled to discuss local matters at these
national assemblies, they gave them the highest positions in the
province next to the proconsul, they surrounded them with great pomp,
and endued them with considerable power so long as the festival
lasted, and then, being intent on uniting economy with their
generosity, they made these Asiarchs, as they were called, responsible
for all the expenses incurred in the celebration of the games and
diets. It was a clever policy, as it secured the maximum of
contentment on the people's part with the minimum of expense to the
imperial government. This arrangement clearly limited the position of
the Asiarchate to rich men, as they alone could afford the enormous
expenses involved. The Greeks, specially those of Asia, as we have
already pointed out, were very flashy in their disposition. They loved
titles and decorations; so much so that one of their own orators of
St. Paul's day, Dion Chrysostom, tells us that, provided they got a
title, they would suffer any indignity. There were therefore crowds of
rich men always ready to take the office of Asiarch, which by degrees
was turned into a kind of life peerage, a man once an Asiarch always
retaining the title, while his wife was called the Asiarchess, as we
find from the inscriptions. The Asiarchs were, in fact, the official
aristocracy of the province of Asia. They had assembled on this
occasion for the purpose of sitting in the local parliament and
presiding over the annual games in honour of Diana.[211] Their
interests and their honour were all bound up with the worship of the
goddess, and yet the preaching of St. Paul had told so powerfully upon
the whole province, that even among the very officials of the State
religion St. Paul had friends and supporters anxious to preserve his
life, and therefore sent him a message not to adventure himself into
the theatre. It is no wonder that Demetrius the silversmith roused his
fellow-craftsmen into activity and fanned the flame of their wrath,
for the worship of Diana of the Ephesians was indeed in danger when
the very men whose office bound them to its support were in league
with such an uncompromising opponent as this Paul of Tarsus. St. Luke
thus gives a glimpse of the constitution of Ephesus and of the
province of Asia in his time. He shows us the peculiar institution of
the Asiarchate, and then when we turn to the inscriptions which Mr.
Wood and other modern discoverers have unearthed, we find that the
Asiarchs occupy a most prominent position in them, vindicating in the
amplest manner the introduction of them by St. Luke as assembled at
Ephesus at this special season, and there interesting themselves in
the welfare of the great Apostle.[212]

  [210] Aristarchus is described in the Martyrologies as the first
  bishop of Thessalonica, and is said to have suffered martyrdom
  under Nero. He is commemorated on August 4th.

  [211] These local parliaments under the Roman Empire have been the
  subject of much modern investigation at the hands of French and
  German scholars. See for references to the authorities on the
  point an article which I wrote in _Macmillan's Magazine_ for 1882.

  [212] See the index to Lightfoot's _Ignatius and Polycarp_ for
  extended references to the Asiarchate, and also Mommsen's _Roman
  Provinces_ (Dickson's translation), vol. i., pp. 345-7.

But now there comes on the scene another official, whose title and
office have been the subject of many an illustration furnished by
modern research. The Jews who followed the mob into the theatre, when
they did not see St. Paul there, put forward one Alexander as their
spokesman.[213] This man has been by some identified with Alexander
the coppersmith, to whom St. Paul refers (2 Tim. iv. 14) when writing
to Timothy, then resident at Ephesus, as a man who had done much
injury to the Christian cause. He may have been well known as a
brother-tradesman by the Ephesian silversmiths, and he seems to have
been regarded by the Jews as a kind of leader who might be useful in
directing the rage of the mob against the Christians whom they hated.
The rioters, however, did not distinguish as clearly as the Jews would
have wished between the Christians and the Jews. They made the same
mistake as the Romans did for more than a century later, and
confounded Jews and Christians together. They were all, in any case,
opponents of idol worship and chiefly of their favourite goddess, and
therefore the sight of Alexander merely intensified their rage, so
much that for the space of two hours they continued to vociferate
their favourite cry, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians."

  [213] The Ephesian mob four hundred years later displayed at the
  third General Council held at Ephesus in 431 an extraordinary
  power of keeping up the same cry for hours. See the story of the
  Council as told by Hefele in the third volume of his _General
  Councils_ (Clark's translation). Nothing will give such a vigorous
  idea of the confusion which then prevailed at Ephesus as a glance
  at Mansi's Acts of that Council. The cry "Anathema to Nestorius,"
  the heretic against whom the Council declared, was maintained so
  long and so continuously that one would imagine that orthodoxy
  depended on strength of lungs.

Now, however, there appeared another official, whose title and
character have become famous through his action on this occasion:
"When the town-clerk had quieted the multitude, he saith, Ye men of
Ephesus, what man is there who knoweth not that the city of the
Ephesians is temple-keeper (or Neocoros) of the great Diana, and of
the image which fell down from Jupiter?" Here we have several terms
which have been illustrated and confirmed by the excavations of Mr.
Wood. The town-clerk or recorder is introduced, because he was the
chief executive officer of the city of Ephesus, and, as such,
responsible to the Roman authorities for the peace and order of the
city. The city of Ephesus was a free city, retaining its ancient laws
and customs like Athens and Thessalonica, but only on the condition
that these laws were effective and peace duly kept. Otherwise the
Roman authorities and their police would step in. These town-clerks or
recorders of Ephesus are known from this one passage in the Acts of
the Apostles, but they are still better known from the inscriptions
which have been brought to light at Ephesus. I have mentioned, for
instance, the immense inscription which Mr. Wood discovered in the
theatre commemorating the gift to the temple of Diana of a vast number
of gold and silver images made by one Vibius Salutarius. This
inscription lays down that the images should be kept in the custody of
the town-clerk or recorder when not required for use in the solemn
religious processions made through the city. The names of a great many
town-clerks have been recovered from the ruins of Ephesus, some of
them coming from the reign of Nero, the very period when this riot
took place. It is not impossible that we may yet recover the very name
of the town-clerk who gave the riotous mob this very prudent advice,
"Ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rash," which has made him
immortal. Then, again, a title for the city of Ephesus is used in this
pacific oration which is strictly historical, and such as would
naturally have been used by a man in the town-clerk's position. He
calls Ephesus the "temple-keeper," or "Neocoros," as the word
literally is, of the goddess Diana, and this is one of the most usual
and common titles in the lately discovered inscriptions. Ephesus and
the Ephesians were indeed so devoted to the worship of that deity and
so affected by the honour she conferred upon them that they delighted
to call themselves the temple-sweepers, or sextons, of the great
Diana's temple. In fact, their devotion to the worship of the goddess
so far surpassed that of ordinary cities that the Ephesians were
accustomed to subordinate their reverence for the Emperors to their
reverence for their religion, and thus in the decree passed by them
honouring Vibius Salutarius who endowed their temple with many
splendid gifts, to which we have already referred, they begin by
describing themselves thus: "In the presidency of Tiberius Claudius
Antipater Julianus, on the sixth day of the first decade of the month
Poseideon, it was resolved by the Council and the Public Assembly of
the Necori (of Artemis) and Lovers of Augustus." The Ephesians must
have been profoundly devoted to Diana's worship when in that age of
gross materialism they would dare to place any deity higher than that
of the reigning emperor, the only god in whom a true Roman really
believed; for unregenerate human nature at that time looked at the
things alone which are seen and believed in nothing else.

The rest of the town-clerk's speech is equally deserving of study from
every point of view. He gives us a glimpse of the Apostle's method of
controversy: it was wise, courteous, conciliatory. It did not hurt the
feelings or outrage the sentiments of natural reverence, which ought
ever to be treated with the greatest respect, for natural reverence is
a delicate plant, and even when directed towards a wrong object ought
to be most gently handled. "Ye have brought hither these men, which
are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of our goddess.[214] If
therefore Demetrius, and the craftsmen that are with him, have a
matter against any man, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls:
let them accuse one another." Modern research has thrown additional
light upon these words. The Roman system of provincial government
anticipated the English system of assize courts, moving from place to
place, introduced by Henry II. for the purpose of bringing justice
home to every man's door.[215] It was quite natural for the proconsul
of Asia to hold his court at the same time as the annual assembly of
the province of Asia and the great festival of Diana. The great
concourse of people rendered such a course specially convenient, while
the presence of the proconsul helped to keep the peace, as, to take a
well-known instance, the presence of Pontius Pilate at the great
annual Paschal feast at Jerusalem secured the Romans against any
sudden rebellion, and also enabled him to dispense justice after the
manner of an assize judge, to which fact we would find an allusion in
the words of St. Mark (xv. 6), "Now at the feast he used to release
unto them one prisoner, whom they asked of him."

  [214] St. Paul's zeal never outran his discretion. He never
  blasphemed or spoke lightly of ideas and names held sacred by his
  hearers. I remember in our local ecclesiastical history an example
  of the opposite course which has often found imitators. When
  Charles Wesley first visited Dublin about the year 1747, he left
  behind a zealous but very unwise preacher to continue his work.
  His language was so violent that the mob were roused to burn his
  meeting-house, which stood in Marlborough Street near the spot
  where the Roman Catholic Cathedral now stands. He then took his
  stand on Oxmantown Green in the northern suburbs, where he
  preached in the open air. On Christmas Day he took the Incarnation
  as his subject, and began, as St. Paul never would have done, by
  crying aloud, "I curse and blaspheme all gods and goddesses in
  heaven and earth, save the Babe that was born in Bethlehem and was
  wrapped in swaddling clothes," whereupon the Dublin mob with their
  ready wit in the matter of nick-names called the Methodists
  swaddlers, a title which has ever since stuck to them in Ireland,
  and is to this day commonly used by the Roman Catholics. This
  seems an interesting illustration of the typical character of the

  [215] See Preface by Bishop Stubbs to Benedict of Peterborough,
  _Gesta Regis Hen. II._, t. ii., pp. lxv.-lxxi. (Rolls Series);
  Madox, _Hist. of Exchequer_, pp. 84-96, for an account of the rise
  of the English Assize System; see Le Blant, _Les Actes des
  Martyrs_, pp. 50-121, and _Marquardt's Röm. Staatsverwalt_, p. 365
  about Roman assizes. There were eleven circuits in Asia.

It has been said, indeed, that St. Luke here puts into the
town-clerk's mouth words he could never have used, representing him as
saying "there are proconsuls" when, in fact, there was never more than
one proconsul in the province of Asia. Such criticism is of the
weakest character. Surely every man that ever speaks in public knows
that one of the commonest usages is to say there are judges or
magistrates, using the plural when one judge or magistrate may alone
be exercising jurisdiction! But there is another explanation, which
completely solves the difficulty and vindicates St. Luke's minute
accuracy. Three hundred years ago John Calvin, in his commentary,
noted the difficulty, and explained it by the supposition that the
proconsul had appointed deputies or assessors who held the courts in
his name. There is, however, a more satisfactory explanation. It was
the reign of Nero, and his brutal example had begun to debauch the
officials through the provinces. Silanus, the proconsul of Asia, was
disliked by Nero and by his mother as a possible candidate for the
imperial crown, being of the family of Augustus. Two of his
subordinates, Celer and Ælius, the collectors of the imperial revenue
in Asia, poisoned him, and as a reward were permitted to govern the
province, enjoying perhaps in common the title of proconsul and
exercising the jurisdiction of the office.[216] Finally, the tone of
the town-clerk's words as he ends his address is thoroughly that of a
Roman official. He feels himself responsible for the riot, and knows
that he may be called upon to account for it. Peace was what the Roman
authorities sought and desired at all hazards, and every measure which
threatened the peace, or every organisation, no matter how desirable,
a fire brigade even, which might conceivably be turned to purposes of
political agitation, was strictly discouraged.

  [216] See Lewin's _St. Paul_, i. 337, 338.

The correspondence of Pliny with the Emperor Trajan some fifty years
or so later than this riot is the best commentary upon the
town-clerk's speech. We find, for instance, in Pliny's _Letters_, Book
X., No. 42, a letter telling about a fire which broke out in
Nicomedia, the capital of Bithynia, of which province Pliny was
proconsul. He wrote to the Emperor describing the damage done, and
suggesting that a fire brigade numbering one hundred and fifty men
might be instituted. The Emperor would not hear of it, however. Such
clubs or societies he considered dangerous, and so he wrote back a
letter which proves how continuous was Roman policy, how abhorrent to
the imperial authorities were all voluntary organisations which might
be used for the purposes of public agitation: "You are of opinion that
it would be proper to establish a company of fire-men in Nicomedia,
agreeably to what has been practised in several other cities. But it
is to be remembered that societies of this sort have greatly disturbed
the peace of the province in general and of those cities in
particular. Whatever name we give them, and for whatever purposes they
may be founded, they will not fail to form themselves into factious
assemblies, however short their meetings will be"; and so Pliny was
obliged to devise other measures for the security and welfare of the
cities committed to his charge.[217] The accidental burning of a city
would not be attributed to him as a fault, while the occurrence of a
street riot might be the beginning of a social war which would bring
down ruin upon the Empire at large.

  [217] A similar jealousy of voluntary organisations is still
  perpetuated in France under the code Napoleon, which largely
  embodies Roman methods and ideas.

When the recorder of Ephesus had ended his speech he dismissed the
assembly, leaving to us a precious record illustrative of the methods
of Roman government, of the interior life of Ephesus in days long gone
by, and, above all else, of the thorough honesty of the writer whom
the Holy Spirit impelled to trace the earliest triumphs of the Cross
amid the teeming fields of Gentile paganism.



     "And after the uproar was ceased, Paul having sent for the
     disciples and exhorted them, took leave of them, and departed for
     to go into Macedonia.... And upon the first day of the week, when
     we were gathered together (at Troas) to break bread, Paul
     discoursed with them, intending to depart on the morrow; and
     prolonged his speech until midnight.... And from Miletus he sent
     to Ephesus, and called to him the elders of the church. And when
     they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye yourselves know,
     from the first day I set foot in Asia, after what manner I was
     with you all the time, serving the Lord with all lowliness of
     mind, and with tears.... Take heed unto yourselves, and to all
     the flock, in the which the Holy Ghost hath made you bishops, to
     feed the Church of God, which He purchased with His own
     blood."--ACTS xx. 1, 7, 17-19, 28.

The period of St. Paul's career at which we have now arrived was full
of life, vigour, activity. He was in the very height of his powers,
was surrounded with responsibilities, was pressed with cares and
anxieties; and yet the character of the sacred narrative is very
peculiar. From the passover of the year 57, soon after which the
Apostle had to leave Ephesus, till the passover of the next year, we
learn but very little of St. Paul's work from the narrative of St.
Luke. The five verses with which the twentieth chapter begins tell us
all that St. Luke apparently knew about the Apostle's actions during
that time. He gives us the story of a mere outsider, who knew next to
nothing of the work St. Paul was doing. The Apostle left Ephesus and
went into Macedonia, whence he departed into Greece. Three months were
occupied in teaching at Corinth, and then, intending to sail from
Cenchreæ to Ephesus, he suddenly changed his mind upon the discovery
of a Jewish plot, altered his route, disappointed his foes, and paid a
second visit to Macedonia. In this narrative, which is all St. Luke
gives, we have the account, brief and concise, of one who was
acquainted merely with the bare outlines of the Apostle's work, and
knew nothing of his inner life and trials. St. Luke, in fact, was so
much taken up with his own duties at Philippi, where he had been
labouring for the previous five years, that he had no time to think of
what was going on elsewhere. At any rate his friend and pupil
Theophilus had simply asked him for a narrative so far as he knew it
of the progress of the gospel. He had no idea that he was writing
anything more than a story for the private use of Theophilus, and he
therefore put down what he knew and had experienced, without troubling
himself concerning other matters. I have read criticisms of the
Acts--proceeding principally, I must confess, from German
sources--which seem to proceed on the supposition that St. Luke was
consciously writing an ecclesiastical history of the whole early
Church which he knew and felt was destined to serve for ages.[218] But
this was evidently not the case. St. Luke was consciously writing a
story merely for a friend's study, and dreamt not of the wider fame
and use destined for his book. This accounts in a simple and natural
way, not only for what St. Luke inserts, but also for what he leaves
out, and he manifestly left out a great deal. We may take this passage
at which we have now arrived as an illustration of his methods of
writing sacred history. This period of ten months, from the time St.
Paul left Ephesus till he returned to Philippi at the following Easter
season, was filled with most important labours which have borne fruit
unto all ages of the Church, yet St. Luke dismisses them in a few
words. Just let us realise what happened in these eventful months. St.
Paul wrote First Corinthians in April A.D. 57. In May he passed to
Troas, where, as we learn from Second Corinthians, he laboured for a
short time with much success. He then passed into Macedonia, urged on
by his restless anxiety concerning the Corinthian Church. In Macedonia
he laboured during the following five or six months. How intense and
absorbing must have been his work during that time! It was then that
he preached the gospel with signs and wonders round about even unto
Illyricum, as he notes in Romans xvi. 19, an epistle written this very
year from Corinth. The last time that he had been in Macedonia he was
a hunted fugitive fleeing from place to place. Now he seems to have
lived in comparative peace, so far at least as the Jewish synagogues
were concerned. He penetrated, therefore, into the mountainous
districts west of Berœa, bearing the gospel tidings into cities and
villages which had as yet heard nothing of them. But preaching was not
his only work in Macedonia. He had written his first Epistle to
Corinth from Ephesus a few months before. In Macedonia he received
from Titus, his messenger, an account of the manner in which that
epistle had been received, and so from Macedonia he despatched his
second Corinthian Epistle, which must be carefully studied if we
desire to get an adequate idea of the labours and anxieties amid which
the Apostle was then immersed (see 2 Cor. ii. 13, and vii. 5 and 6).
And then he passed into Greece, where he spent three months at
Corinth, settling the affairs of that very celebrated but very
disorderly Christian community. The three months spent there must have
been a period of overwhelming business. Let us recount the subjects
which must have taken up every moment of St. Paul's time. First there
were the affairs of the Corinthian Church itself. He had to reprove,
comfort, direct, set in order. The whole moral, spiritual, social,
intellectual conceptions of Corinth had gone wrong. There was not a
question, from the most elementary topic of morals and the social
considerations connected with female dress and activities, to the most
solemn points of doctrine and worship, the Resurrection and the Holy
Communion, concerning which difficulties, disorders, and dissensions
had not been raised. All these had to be investigated and decided by
the Apostle. Then, again, the Jewish controversy, and the oppositions
to himself personally which the Judaising party had excited, demanded
his careful attention. This controversy was a troublesome one in
Corinth just then, but it was a still more troublesome one in Galatia,
and was fast raising its head in Rome. The affairs of both these great
and important churches, the one in the East, the other in the West,
were pressing upon St. Paul at this very time. While he was immersed
in all the local troubles of Corinth, he had to find time at Corinth
to write the Epistle to the Galatians and the Epistle to the Romans.
How hard it must have been for the Apostle to concentrate his
attention on the affairs of Corinth when his heart and brain were torn
with anxieties about the schisms, divisions, and false doctrines which
were flourishing among his Galatian converts, or threatening to invade
the Church at Rome, where as yet he had not been able to set forth his
own conception of gospel truth, and thus fortify the disciples against
the attacks of those subtle foes of Christ who were doing their best
to turn the Catholic Church into a mere narrow Jewish sect, devoid of
all spiritual power and life.

But this was not all, or nearly all. St. Paul was at the same time
engaged in organising a great collection throughout all the churches
where he had ministered on behalf of the poor Christians at Jerusalem,
and he was compelled to walk most warily and carefully in this matter.
Every step he took was watched by foes ready to interpret it
unfavourably; every appointment he made, every arrangement, no matter
how wise or prudent, was the subject of keenest scrutiny and
criticism. With all these various matters accumulating upon him it is
no wonder that St. Paul should have written of himself at this very
period in words which vividly describe his distractions: "Beside those
things that are without, there is that which presseth upon me daily,
the care of all the churches." And yet St. Paul gives us a glimpse of
the greatness of his soul as we read the epistles which were the
outcome of this period of intense but fruitful labour. He carried a
mighty load, but yet he carried it lightly. His present anxieties were
numerous, but they did not shut out all thoughts upon other topics.
The busiest man then was just the same as the busiest man still. He
was the man who had the most time and leisure to bestow thought upon
the future. The anxieties and worries of the present were numerous and
exacting, but St. Paul did not allow his mind to be so swallowed up in
them as to shut out all care about other questions equally important.
While he was engaged in the manifold cares which present controversies
brought, he was all the while meditating a mission to Rome, and
contemplating a journey still farther to Spain and Gaul,[219] and the
bounds of the Western ocean. And then, finally, there was the care of
St. Paul's own soul, the sustenance and development of his spirit by
prayer and meditation and worship and reading, which he never
neglected under any circumstances. All these things combined must have
rendered this period of close upon twelve months one of the Apostle's
busiest and intensest times, and yet St. Luke disposes of it in a few
brief verses of this twentieth chapter.

  [218] I do not wish to decry the industry and learning of German
  critics, to whom I owe much, as my various references show; but I
  am always suspicious of their historical conclusions, simply
  because they are pure students, and are therefore ignorant of life
  and men. The more industrious and secluded a life a man may lead,
  so much the more ignorant of the practical world a man becomes,
  and so much the more unfitted to be a real historian, who must
  know men as well as books. History is a picture of real life in
  the past, and to paint it a man must know real life in the
  present. As well might we set an academic scientist who regarded
  all lines as straight and all bars as rigid to build the Forth
  Bridge, as set a man who knows nothing of human nature and how it
  acts under the stress of practical affairs to write the story of
  human life two thousand years ago. We may take and use German
  investigations, but we should apply English common sense and
  experience to test German conclusions. This rule is, I fear, too
  much forgotten in a great deal of the literature that is now being
  pawned off upon the English world in the name of criticism. Surely
  the fate of Baur's theories ought to be a warning to all young men
  against swallowing as the latest results of scholarship everything
  that comes clothed in the German language! The English nation has
  a reputation for solid common sense. What fools the Germans would
  be did they take everything English as full of common sense
  because printed in our language!

  [219] I say to Gaul, because I take it that he would have sailed
  to Marseilles, which was then the great port of communication with
  Asia Minor, as we have noted above, pp. 372-74, when treating of
  the worship of Diana and its extension from the East to

After St. Paul's stay at Corinth, he determined to proceed to
Jerusalem according to his predetermined plan, bringing with him the
proceeds of the collection which he had made. He wished to go by sea,
as he had done some three years before, sailing from Cenchreæ direct
to Syria. The Jews of Corinth, however, were as hostile as ever, and
so they hatched a plot to murder him before his embarkation. St. Paul,
however, having learned their designs, suddenly changed his route, and
took his journey by land through Macedonia, visiting once more his
former converts, and tarrying to keep the passover at Philippi with
the little company of Christian Jews who there resided. This
circumstance throws light upon verses 4 and 5 of this twentieth
chapter, which run thus: "There accompanied him as far as Asia Sopater
of Berœa, the son of Pyrrhus; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus
and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy; and of Asia, Tychicus
and Trophimus. But these had gone before, and were waiting for us at
Troas." St. Paul came to Philippi, found St. Luke there, celebrated
the passover, and then sailed away with St. Luke to join the company
who had gone before. And they had gone before for a very good reason.
They were all, except Timothy, Gentile Christians, persons therefore
who, unlike St. Paul, had nothing to do with the national rites and
customs of born Jews, and who might be much more profitably exercised
in working among the Gentile converts at Troas, free from any danger
of either giving or taking offence in connexion with the passover, a
lively instance of which danger Trophimus, one of their number,
subsequently afforded in Jerusalem, when his presence alone in St.
Paul's company caused the spread of a rumour which raised the riot so
fatal to St. Paul's liberty: "For they had seen with him in the city
Trophimus the Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into
the temple" (xxi. 29). This incident, together with St. Paul's conduct
at Jerusalem as told in the twenty-sixth verse of the twenty-first
chapter illustrates vividly St. Paul's view of the Jewish law and
Jewish rites and ceremonies. They were for Jews national ceremonies.
They had a meaning for them. They commemorated certain national
deliverances, and as such might be lawfully used. St. Paul himself
could eat the passover and cherish the feelings of a Jew, heartily
thankful to God for the deliverance from Egypt wrought out through
Moses centuries ago for his ancestors, and his mind could then go on
and rejoice over a greater deliverance still wrought out at this same
paschal season by a greater than Moses. St. Paul openly proclaimed the
lawfulness of the Jewish rites for Jews, but opposed their imposition
upon the Gentiles. He regarded them as _tolerabiles ineptiæ_, and
therefore observed them to please his weaker brethren; but sent his
Gentile converts on before, lest perhaps the sight of his own example
might weaken their faith and lead them to a compliance with that
Judaising party who were ever ready to avail themselves of any
opportunity to weaken St. Paul's teaching and authority. St. Paul
always strove to unite wisdom and prudence with faithfulness to
principle lest by any means his labour should be in vain.

St. Luke now joined St. Paul at Philippi, and henceforth gives his own
account of what happened on this eventful journey. From Philippi they
crossed to Troas. It was the spring-time, and the weather was more
boisterous than later in the year, and so the voyage took five days to
accomplish, while two days had sufficed on a previous occasion. They
came to Troas, and there remained for a week, owing doubtless to the
exigencies of the ship and its cargo. On the first day of the week St.
Paul assembled the Church for worship. The meeting was held on what we
should call Saturday evening; but we must remember that the Jewish
first day began from sundown on Saturday or the Sabbath.[220] This is
the first notice in the Acts of the observance of the Lord's day as
the time of special Christian worship. We have, however, earlier
notices of the first day in connexion with Christian observances. The
apostles, for instance, met together on the first day, as we are told
in John xx. 19, and again eight days after, as the twenty-sixth verse
of the same chapter tells. St. Paul's first Epistle to Corinth was
written twelve months earlier than this visit to Troas, and it
expressly mentions (ch. xvi. 2) the first day of the week as the time
ordered by St. Paul for the setting apart of the Galatian contribution
to the collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem; and so here again
at Troas we see that the Asiatic Christians observed the same solemn
time for worship and the celebration of the Eucharist. Such
glimpses--chance notices, we might call them, were there not a higher
Providence watching over the unconscious writer--show us how little we
can conclude from mere silence about the ritual, worship, and
government of the Apostolic Church,[221] and illustrate the vast
importance of studying carefully the extant records of the Christian
Church in the second century if we wish to gain fresh light upon the
history and customs of the apostolic age. If three or four brief texts
were blotted out of the New Testament, it would be quite possible to
argue from silence merely that the apostles and their immediate
followers did not observe the Lord's Day in any way whatsoever, and
that the custom of stated worship and solemn eucharistic celebrations
on that day were a corruption introduced in post-apostolic times. The
best interpreters of the New Testament are, as John Wesley long ago
well pointed out in his preface to his celebrated but now almost
unknown Christian Library, the apostolic fathers and the writers of
the age next following the apostles.[222] We may take it for a
certain rule of interpretation that, whenever we find a widely
established practice or custom mentioned in the writings of a
Christian author of the second century, it originated in apostolic
times. It was only natural that this should have been the case. We are
all inclined to venerate the past, and to cry it up as the golden age.
Now this tendency must have been intensified tenfold in the case of
the Christians of the second century. The first century was the time
of our Lord and the age of the apostles. Sacred memories clustered
thick round it, and every ceremony and rite which came from that time
must have been profoundly reverenced, while every new ceremony or
custom must have been rudely challenged, and its author keenly
scrutinised as one who presumptuously thought he could improve upon
the wisdom of men inspired by the Holy Ghost and miraculously gifted
by God. It is for this reason we regard the second-century doctors and
apologists as the best commentary upon the sacred writers, because in
them we see the Church of the apostolic age living, acting, displaying
itself amid the circumstances and scenes of actual life.

  [220] There is to this day a trace of this custom in the Book of
  Common Prayer in the rubric which prescribes that the collect for
  Sunday shall be said on Saturday evening. In colleges, too,
  according to Archbishop Laud's rules, surplices are worn on
  Saturday evenings as well as on Sundays.

  [221] See above, pp. 342 and 361, where I have pointed out the
  dangerous character of the argument from mere silence. I may
  perhaps recur to the example of Meyer, the eminent textual critic,
  to illustrate my view of German critics stated in my first note to
  this chapter, p. 386 above. Meyer is an exhaustive textual critic,
  but as soon as he ventures on the region of history he falls into
  this trap, and concludes from the argument of silence that Apollos
  was never baptized with Christian baptism because he was so clever
  and spiritually enlightened that he did not need it. But, then,
  how does he account for the case of St. Paul? Was Apollos superior
  to St. Paul? And yet he was baptized. But the illustrations of the
  fallacies of this method of argumentation would be endless. If the
  argument of silence is sufficient to prove a negative, what are we
  to do with female communicants? There is not a single instance of
  them in the New Testament. It is here, however, that the study of
  the second-century writers is so valuable as illustrating the
  silence of the first. See my note on p. 342 above.

  [222] The Christian library was a series of fifty volumes which
  Wesley published for the use of his followers. They were begun in
  1749 and completed in 1755. "The opening volume contains, 1. The
  Epistles of the apostolical fathers Clement, Ignatius, and
  Polycarp, whom he believed to be endued with the extraordinary
  assistance of the Holy Spirit, and whose writings, though not of
  equal authority with the Holy Scriptures, are worthy of a much
  greater respect than any composures that have been made since. 2.
  The martyrdoms of Ignatius and Polycarp. 3. An extract from the
  Homilies of Macarius, born about the year 301." See Tyerman's
  _Life of Wesley_, ii. 25, 65-67.

Just let us take as an illustration the case of this observance of the
first day of the week. The Acts of the Apostles tells us but very
little about it, simply because there is but little occasion to
mention what must have seemed to St. Luke one of the commonest and
best-known facts. But Justin Martyr some eighty years later was
describing Christianity for the Roman Emperor. He was defending it
against the outrageous and immoral charges brought against it, and
depicting the purity, the innocency, and simplicity of its sacred
rites. Among other subjects dealt with, he touches upon the time when
Christians offered up formal and stated worship. It was absolutely
necessary therefore for him to treat of the subject of the Lord's Day.
In the sixty-seventh chapter of Justin's First _Apology_, we find him
describing the Christian weekly festival in words which throw back an
interesting light upon the language of St. Luke touching the Lord's
Day which St. Paul passed at Troas. Justin writes thus on this topic:
"Upon the day called Sunday all who live in cities or in the country
gather together unto one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the
writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when
the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts
to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and
pray, and as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine
and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers
and thanksgivings according to his ability, and the people assent,
saying Amen;[223] and there is a distribution to each, and a
participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those
who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And those who are
well to do and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is
collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans
and widows, and those who through sickness or any other cause are in
want, and those who are in bonds, and the strangers sojourning among
us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the
day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first
day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter,
made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from
the dead." This passage gives us a full account of Christian customs
in the first half of the second century, when thousands must have been
still alive who remembered the times of the apostles, enabling us to
realise what must have been the character of the assembly and of the
worship in which St. Paul played a leading part at Troas.[224]

  [223] Here we have an illustration of 1 Cor. xiv. 16: "Else if
  thou bless with the Spirit, how shall he that filleth the place of
  the unlearned say the Amen at the giving of thanks, seeing he
  understandeth not what thou sayest?" See also ch. lxv. of Justin's
  same _Apology_ for another reference to the Amen, and cf. _Apost.
  Constitutions_, viii. 10; Cyril of Jerusalem, _Cat._, ch. v.;
  Euseb., _H. E._, vi. 43 and vii. 9; Ambros. _De Sacrament._, iv.
  4; Jerom., _Epist._, 62; Chrysost., _Hom._, xxxv. on 1st Cor.;
  Bingham's _Antiqq._, XV. iii. 26; and the article on Amen in the
  first volume of Smith's _Dict. Christ. Antiqq._ The preceding
  chapters of Justin's _Apology_, lxv. and lxvi., are full of
  information. They expressly state that in the Primitive Church no
  unbaptized person was allowed to communicate, an elementary point
  of Christian practice about which some persons and some Christian
  societies seem at present very uncertain. Hooker's words, _Eccles.
  Pol._, Book V. ch. lxvii., are very clear on this topic.

  [224] The continuous character, the strong conservatism of the
  early Christian Church receives an interesting illustration from
  the history of the Sabbath as distinguished from the Lord's Day.
  The Jewish Church gave the outward form to Christianity; and
  though Christianity parted company with Judaism by the end of the
  first century, yet the sacred character of the Sabbath was still
  perpetuated among the Gentiles notwithstanding St. Paul's strong
  language in Galatians and Colossians. In the fourth century the
  Sabbath was observed in many places in the same manner as the
  Lord's Day. St. Athanasius says: "We meet on the Sabbath, not
  indeed being infected with Judaism, but to worship Jesus, the Lord
  of the Sabbath." Timothy, one of his successors at Alexandria,
  says that the Holy Communion was administered on the Sabbath as on
  the Lord's Day, and that these two were the only days on which it
  was celebrated in that city. In the time of St. Chrysostom the two
  great weekly festivals were the Sabbath and the Lord's Day. It was
  the same in the fifth century in the Egyptian monasteries, where
  the services for Saturday and Sunday were exactly the same. See a
  full account of this matter in Bingham's _Antiquities_, Book XIII.
  ch. ix. sec. iii.

There was, however, a difference between the celebration at Troas and
the celebrations of which Justin Martyr speaks, though we learn not of
this difference from Justin himself, but from Pliny's letter to
Trajan, concerning which we have often spoken. St. Paul met the
Christians of Troas in the evening, and celebrated the Holy Communion
with them about midnight. It was the first day of the week according
to Jewish computation, though it was what we should call Saturday
evening. The ship in which the apostolic company was travelling was
about to sail on the morrow, and so St. Paul gladly joined the local
church in its weekly breaking of bread. It was exactly the same here
at Troas as reported by St. Luke, as it was at Corinth where the
evening celebrations were turned into occasions of gluttony and
ostentation, as St. Paul tells us in the eleventh of First
Corinthians. The Christians evidently met at this time in the evening
to celebrate the Lord's Supper. It has been often thought that St.
Paul, having referred just twelve months before in the First
Corinthian Epistle to the gross abuses connected with the evening
celebrations at Corinth, and having promised to set the abuses of
Corinth in order when he visited that church, did actually change the
time of the celebration of Holy Communion from the evening to the
morning, when he spent the three months there of which this chapter
speaks.[225] Perhaps he did make the change, but we have no
information on the point; and if he did make the change for Corinth,
it is evident that he did not intend to impose it as a rule upon the
whole Christian Church when a few weeks after leaving Corinth he
celebrated the Lord's Supper at Troas in the evening. By the second
century, however, the change had been made. Justin Martyr indeed does
not give a hint as to the time when Holy Communion was administered in
the passages to which we have referred. He tells us that none but
baptized persons were admitted to partake of it, but gives us no minor
details. Pliny, however, writing of the state of affairs in
Bithynia,--and it bordered upon the province where Troas was
situated,--tells us from the confession extracted out of apostate
Christians that "the whole of their fault lay in this, that they were
wont to meet together on a stated day, _before it was light_, and sing
among themselves alternately a hymn to Christ as God, and to bind
themselves by a sacrament (or oath) not to the commission of any
wickedness, but not to be guilty of theft or robbery or adultery."
After this early service they then separated, and assembled again in
the evening to partake of a common meal. The Agape or Love-Feast was
united with the Holy Communion in St. Paul's day. Experience, however,
showed that such a union must lead to grave abuses, and so in that
final consolidation which the Church received during the last quarter
of the first century, when the Lord's Second Coming was seen to be not
so immediate as some at first expected, the two institutions were
divided; the Holy Communion being appointed as the early morning
service of the Lord's Day, while the Agape was left in its original
position as an evening meal. And so have matters continued ever since.
The Agape indeed has almost died out. A trace of it perhaps remains in
the blessed bread distributed in Roman Catholic churches on the
Continent; while again the love-feasts instituted by John Wesley and
continued among his followers were an avowed imitation of this
primitive institution. The Agape continued indeed in vigorous
existence for centuries, but it was almost always found associated
with grave abuses. It might have been innocent and useful so long as
Christian love continued to burn with the fervour of apostolic days,
though even then, as Corinth showed, there were lurking dangers in it;
but when we reach the fourth and fifth centuries we find council after
council denouncing the evils of the Agape, and restricting its
celebration with such effect that during the Middle Ages it ceased to
exist as a distinctive Christian ordinance.[226] The change of the
Holy Communion to the earlier portion of the day took almost universal
effect, and that from the earliest times. Tertullian (_De Corona_,
iii.) testifies that in his time the Eucharist was received before
daybreak, though Christ had instituted it at a meal-time. Cyprian
witnesses to the same usage in his sixty-third Epistle, where he
speaks of Christ as instituting the Sacrament in the evening, that
"the very hour of the sacrifice might intimate the evening of the
world," but then describes himself as "celebrating the resurrection of
the Lord in the morning."[227] St. Augustine, as quoted above,
writing about 400, speaks of fasting communion as the general rule;
so general, indeed, that he regards it as having come down from
apostolic appointment. At the same time St. Augustine recognises the
time of its original institution, and mentions the custom of the
African Church which once a year had an evening communion on Thursday
before Easter in remembrance of the Last Supper and of our Lord's
action in connection with it. My own feeling on the matter is, that
early fasting communion when there is health and strength is far the
most edifying. There is an element of self-denial about it, and the
more real self-denial there is about our worship the more blessed will
that worship be. A worship that costs nothing in mind, body, or estate
is but a very poor thing to offer unto the Lord of the universe. But
there is no ground either in Holy Scripture or the history of the
primitive Church justifying an attempt to put a yoke on the neck of
the disciples which they cannot bear and to teach that fasting
communion is binding upon all Christians. St. Augustine speaks most
strongly in a passage we have already referred to (_Epist._ cxviii.,
_Ad Januar._) about the benefit of fasting communion; but he admits
the lawfulness of non-fasting participation, as does also that great
Greek divine St. Chrysostom, who quotes the examples of St. Paul and
of our Lord Himself in justification of such a course.[228]

  [225] St. Augustine, in _Epist._, cxviii., _Ad Januar._, cc. vi.
  vii., was one of the first to suggest this idea. The passage is
  quoted by Bingham, _Antiqq._, XV. vii. 8.

  [226] See the exhaustive article on Agapæ in Smith's _Dict.
  Christ. Antiqq._, vol. i., p. 39.

  [227] The early Christians celebrated the Holy Communion in memory
  of Christ's resurrection as much as in memory of His death. The
  resurrection of Christ was, in fact, the central point of their
  belief and thought. This alone would have conduced to the practice
  of early morning communion, even before day, inasmuch as it was at
  that time the resurrection took place. Cf. _Dict. Christ.
  Antiqq._, vol. i., p. 419, on the hours of celebration of the Holy
  Communion. On p. 41 of the same volume the writer of the article
  on the Agapæ makes an extraordinary statement that it was only at
  the third Council of Carthage, A.D. 391, that the time of
  Eucharistic celebration was changed to the morning, and that then
  the Agape was first separated from the Holy Communion. The change
  and the separation had taken place in Pliny's time, as I have
  already shown.

  [228] This whole subject of fasting communion is discussed at
  length with all the authorities duly given in Bingham's
  _Antiquities_, Book XV. ch. vii. sec. 8, whence I have taken my
  references, and where he quotes Bishop Fell's Notes on Cyprian,
  _Epist._ lxiii. p. 156, who says that "the custom of communicating
  after supper lasted for a long time in the Church": cf. Socrates,
  _H. E._, v. 22, and the _Dict. Christ. Antiqq._, vol. i., p. 417,
  on _Fasting Reception of H. C._

The celebration of the Eucharist was not the only subject which
engaged St. Paul's attention at Troas. He preached unto the people as
well; and following his example we find from Justin Martyr's narrative
that preaching was an essential part of the communion office in the
days immediately following the apostles' age; and then, descending to
lower times still, we know that preaching is an equally essential
portion of the eucharistic service in the Western Church, the only
formal provision for a sermon according to the English liturgy being
the rubric in the service for the Holy Communion, which lays down that
after the Nicene Creed, "Then shall follow the sermon or one of the
Homilies already set forth, or hereafter to be set forth, by
authority." St. Paul's discourse was no mere mechanical homily,
however. He was not what man regarded as a powerful, but he was a
ready speaker, and one who carried his hearers away by the rapt
intense earnestness of his manner. His whole soul was full of his
subject. He was convinced that this was his last visit to the churches
of Asia. He foresaw too a thousand dangers to which they would be
exposed after his departure, and he therefore prolonged his sermon far
into the night, so far indeed that human nature asserted its claims
upon a young man named Eutychus, who sat in a window of the room where
they were assembled. Human nature indeed was never for a moment absent
from these primitive Church assemblies. If it was absent in one shape,
it was present in another, just as really as in our modern
congregations, and so Eutychus fell fast asleep under the
heart-searching exhortations of an inspired apostle, even as men fall
asleep under less powerful sermons of smaller men; and as the natural
result, sitting in a window left open for the sake of ventilation, he
fell down into the courtyard, and was taken up apparently lifeless.
St. Paul was not put out, however. He took interruptions in his work
as the Master took them. He was not upset by them, but he seized them,
utilised them, and then, having extracted the sweetness and
blessedness which they brought with them, he returned from them back
to his interrupted work. St. Paul descended to Eutychus, found him in
a lifeless state, and then restored him. Men have disputed whether the
Apostle worked a miracle on this occasion, or merely perceived that
the young man was in a temporary faint. I do not see that it makes any
matter which opinion we form. St. Paul's supernatural and miraculous
powers stand on quite an independent ground, no matter what way we
decide this particular case. It seems to me indeed from the language
of St. Paul--"Make ye no ado; for his life is in him"--that the young
man had merely fainted, and that St. Paul recognised this fact as soon
as he touched him. But if any one has strong opinions on the opposite
side I should be sorry to spend time disputing a question which has
absolutely no evidential bearing. The great point is, that Eutychus
was restored, that St. Paul's long sermon was attended by no fatal
consequences, and that the Apostle has left us a striking example
showing how that, with pastors and people alike, intense enthusiasm,
high-strung interest in the affairs of the spiritual world, can enable
human nature to rise superior to all human wants, and prove itself
master even of the conquering powers of sleep: "And when he was gone
up, and had broken the bread, and eaten, and had talked with them a
long while, even till break of day, so he departed."

We know nothing of what the particular topics were which engaged St.
Paul's attention at Troas, but we may guess them from the
subject-matter of the address to the elders of Ephesus, which takes up
the latter half of this twentieth chapter. Troas and Ephesus, in fact,
were so near and so similarly circumstanced that the dangers and
trials of both must have been much alike. He next passed from Troas to
Miletus. This is a considerable journey along the western shore of
Asia Minor. St. Paul was eagerly striving to get to Jerusalem by
Pentecost, or by Whitsuntide, as we should say. He had left Philippi
after Easter, and now there had elapsed more than a fortnight of the
seven weeks which remained available for the journey to Jerusalem. How
often St. Paul must have chafed against the manifold delays of the
trading vessel in which he sailed; how frequently he must have counted
the days to see if sufficient time remained to execute his purpose!
St. Paul, however, was a rigid economist of time. He saved every
fragment of it as carefully as possible. It was thus with him at
Troas. The ship in which he was travelling left Troas early in the
morning. It had to round a promontory in its way to the port of Assos,
which could be reached direct by St. Paul in half the time. The
Apostle therefore took the shorter route, while St. Luke and his
companions embarked on board the vessel. St. Paul evidently chose the
land route because it gave him a time of solitary communion with God
and with himself. He felt, in fact, that the perpetual strain upon his
spiritual nature demanded special spiritual support and refreshment,
which could only be obtained in the case of one who led such a busy
life by seizing upon every such occasion as then offered for
meditation and prayer. St. Paul left Troas some time on Sunday
morning. He joined the ship at Assos, and after three days' coasting
voyage landed at Miletus on Wednesday, whence he despatched a
messenger summoning the elders of the Church of Ephesus to meet
him.[229] The ship was evidently to make a delay of several days at
Miletus. We conclude this from the following reason. Miletus is a town
separated by a distance of thirty miles from Ephesus. A space
therefore of at least two days would be required in order to secure
the presence of the Ephesian elders. If a messenger--St. Luke, for
instance--started immediately on St. Paul's arrival at Miletus, no
matter how quickly he travelled, he could not arrive at Miletus sooner
than Thursday at midday. The work of collecting the elders and making
known to them the apostolic summons would take up the afternoon at
least, and then the journey to Ephesus either by land or water must
have occupied the whole of Friday. It is very possible that the sermon
recorded in this twentieth of Acts was delivered on the Sabbath,
which, as we have noted above, was as yet kept sacred by Christians as
well as by Jews, or else upon the Lord's Day, when, as upon that day
week at Troas, the elders of Ephesus had assembled with the Christians
of Miletus in order to commemorate the Lord's resurrection.

  [229] The _Lives of St. Paul_ by Lewin and by Conybeare and Howson
  enter into minute computations as to the days of the month upon
  which the Apostle touched at the various towns mentioned in the
  Acts. I can now merely refer the reader to these works for such
  details about St. Paul's life, as they scarcely come within the
  scope of an expositor's duty.

We have already pointed out that we know not the subject of St. Paul's
sermon at Troas, but we do know the topics upon which he enlarged at
Miletus, and we may conclude that, considering the circumstances of
the time, they must have been much the same as those upon which he
dwelt at Troas. Some critics have found fault with St. Paul's sermon
as being quite too much taken up with himself and his own vindication.
But they forget the peculiar position in which St. Paul was placed,
and the manner in which the truth of the gospel was then associated in
the closest manner with St. Paul's own personal character and
teaching. The Apostle was just then assailed all over the Christian
world wherever he had laboured, and even sometimes where he was only
known by name, with the most frightful charges; ambition, pride,
covetousness, deceit, lying, all these things and much more were
imputed to him by his opponents who wished to seduce the Gentiles from
that simplicity and liberty in Christ into which he had led them.
Corinth had been desolated by such teachers; Galatia had succumbed to
them; Asia was in great peril. St. Paul therefore, foreseeing future
dangers, warned the shepherds of the flock at Ephesus against the
machinations of his enemies, who always began their preliminary
operations by making attacks upon St. Paul's character. This
sufficiently explains the apologetic tone of St. Paul's address, of
which we have doubtless merely a brief and condensed abstract
indicating the subjects of a prolonged conversation with the elders of
Ephesus, Miletus, and such neighbouring churches as could be gathered
together. We conclude that St. Paul's conference on this occasion must
have been a long one for this reason. If St. Paul could find matter
sufficient to engage his attention for a whole night, from sundown
till sunrise, in a place like Troas, where he had laboured but a very
short time, how much more must he have found to say to the presbyters
of the numerous congregations which must have been flourishing at
Ephesus where he had laboured for years with such success as to make
Christianity a prominent feature in the social and religious life of
that idolatrous city!

Let us now notice some of the topics of this address. It may be
divided into four portions. The first part is retrospective, and
autobiographical; the second is prospective, and sets forth his
conception of his future course; the third is hortatory, expounding
the dangers threatening the Ephesian Church; and the fourth is

I. We have the biographical portion. He begins his discourse by
recalling to the minds of his hearers his own manner of life,--"Ye
yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, after
what manner I was with you all the time, serving the Lord with all
lowliness of mind, and with tears, and with trials which befell me by
the plots of the Jews"; words which show us that from the earliest
portion of his ministry at Ephesus, and as soon as they realised the
meaning of his message, the Jews had become as hostile to the Apostle
at Ephesus as they had repeatedly shown themselves at Corinth, again
and again making attempts upon his life. The foundations indeed of the
Ephesian Church were laid in the synagogue during the first three
months of his work, as we are expressly told in ch. xix. 8; but the
Ephesian Church must have been predominantly Gentile in its
composition, or else the language of Demetrius must have been
exaggerated and the riot raised by him meaningless. How could
Demetrius have said, "Ye see that at Ephesus this Paul hath persuaded
and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods which are
made with hands," unless the vast majority of his converts were drawn
from the ranks of those pagans who worshipped Diana? These words also
show us that during his extended ministry at Ephesus he was left at
peace by the heathen. St. Paul here makes no mention of trials
experienced from pagan plots. He speaks of the Jews alone as making
assaults upon his work or his person, incidentally confirming the
statement of ch. xix. 23, that it was only when he was purposing to
retire from Ephesus, and during the celebration of the Artemisian
games which marked his last days there, that the opposition of the
pagans developed itself in a violent shape.

St. Paul begins his address by fixing upon Jewish opposition outside
the Church as his great trial at Ephesus, just as the same kind of
opposition inside the Church had been his great trial at Corinth, and
was yet destined to be a source of trial to him in the Ephesian Church
itself, as we can see from the Pastoral Epistles. He then proceeds to
speak of the doctrines he had taught and how he had taught them;
reminding them "how that I shrank not from declaring unto you anything
that was profitable, and teaching you publicly, and from house to
house, testifying both to Jews and Greeks repentance toward God, and
faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." St. Paul sets forth his manner of
teaching. He taught publicly, and public teaching was most effective
in his case, because he came armed with a double power, the powers of
spiritual and of intellectual preparation. St. Paul was not a man who
thought that prayer and spiritual life could dispense with thought
and mental culture. Or again, he would be the last to tolerate the
idea that diligent visitation from house to house would make up for
the neglect of that public teaching which he so constantly and so
profitably practised. Public preaching and teaching, pastoral
visitation and work, are two distinct branches of labour, which at
various periods of the Church's history have been regarded in very
different lights. St. Paul evidently viewed them as equally important,
the tendency in the present age is, however, to decry and neglect
preaching and to exalt pastoral work--including under that head Church
services--out of its due position. This is, indeed, a great and
lamentable mistake. The "teaching publicly" to which St. Paul refers
is the only opportunity which the majority of men possess of hearing
the authorised ministers of religion, and if the latter neglect the
office of public preaching, and think the fag end of a week devoted to
external and secular labours and devoid of any mental study and
preparation stirring the soul and refreshing the spirit, to be quite
sufficient for pulpit preparation, they cannot be surprised if men
come to despise the religion that is presented in such a miserable
light and by such inefficient ambassadors.[230]

  [230] I do not think there is any greater want in the Church of
  England than the revival of preaching. It is simply lamentable to
  see the numbers who under usual circumstances will walk out of
  church before the sermon, and still more lamentable to see the
  number of men who do not go to church at all. This I attribute to
  the low estate to which the ordinary sermon has fallen. In the
  days of evangelical supremacy the pulpit may have been unduly
  exalted; now it is unduly neglected, and with terrible results.

St. Paul insists in this passage on the publicity and boldness of his
teaching. There was no secrecy about him, no hypocrisy; he did not
come pretending one view or one line of doctrine, and then, having
stolen in secretly, teaching a distinct system. In this passage, which
may seem laudatory of his own methods, St. Paul is, in fact, warning
against the underhand and hypocritical methods adopted by the
Judaising party, whether at Antioch, Galatia, or Corinth. In this
division of his sermon St. Paul then sets forth the doctrines which
were the sum and substance of the teaching which he had given both
publicly and from house to house. They were repentance towards God,
and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, and that not only in the case
of the Jews, but also of the Greeks. Now here we shall miss the
implied reference of St. Paul, unless we emphasize the words "I shrank
not from declaring unto you anything that was profitable." His
Judaising opponents thought there were many other things profitable
for men besides these two points round which St. Paul's teaching
turned. They regarded circumcision and Jewish festivals, washings and
sacrifices, as very necessary and very profitable for the Gentiles;
while, as far as the Jews were concerned, they thought that the
doctrines on which St. Paul insisted might possibly be profitable, but
were not at all necessary. St. Paul impresses by his words the great
characteristic differences between the Ebionite view of Christ and of
Christianity and that catholic view which has regenerated society and
become a source of life and light to the human race.[231]

  [231] I think I hear in St. Paul's words in this passage an echo
  of the Epistle to the Romans which he had written a month or two
  previously. The idea, "Repentance towards God, and faith towards
  our Lord Jesus Christ," as the essence of Christianity is the
  central idea of that Epistle.

II. We have, then, the prospective portion of his discourse. St. Paul
announces his journey to Jerusalem, and professes his ignorance of his
fate there. He was warned merely by the testimony of the Holy Spirit
that bonds and afflictions were his portion in every city. He was
prepared for them, however, and for death itself, so that he might
accomplish the ministry with which the Lord Jesus Christ had put him
in trust. He concluded this part of his address by expressing his
belief that he would never see them again. His work among them was
done, and he called them to witness that he was pure from the blood of
all men, seeing that he had declared unto them the whole counsel of
God. This passage has given rise to much debate, because of St. Paul's
statement that he knew that he should never see them again, while the
Epistles to Timothy and that to Titus prove that after St. Paul's
first imprisonment, with the notice of which this book of the Acts
ends, he laboured for several years in the neighbourhood of Asia
Minor, and paid lengthened visits to Ephesus.

We cannot now bestow space in proving this point, which will be found
fully discussed in the various Lives of St. Paul which we have so
often quoted: as, for instance, in Lewin, vol. ii., p. 94, and in
Conybeare and Howson, vol. ii., p. 547. We shall now merely indicate
the line of proof for this. In the Epistle to Philemon, ver. 22,
written during his first Roman imprisonment, and therefore years
subsequent to this address, he indicates his expectation of a speedy
deliverance from his bonds, and his determination to travel eastward
to Colossæ, where Philemon lived (cf. Philippians i. 25, ii. 24). He
then visited Ephesus, where he left Timothy, who had been his
companion in the latter portion of his Roman imprisonment (cf.
Philem. 1 and 1 Tim. i. 3), expecting soon to return to him in the
same city (1 Tim. iii. 14); while again in 2 Tim. i. 18 he speaks of
Onesiphorus having ministered to himself in Ephesus, and then in the
same Epistle (ch. iv. 20), written during his second Roman
imprisonment, he speaks of having just left Trophimus at Miletus sick.
This brief outline, which can be followed up in the volumes to which
we have referred, and especially in Appendix II. in Conybeare and
Howson on the date of the Pastoral Epistles, must suffice to prove
that St. Paul was expressing a mere human expectation when he told the
Ephesian elders that he should see their faces no more. St. Luke, in
fact, thus shows us that St. Paul was not omniscient in his knowledge,
and that the inspiration which he possessed did not remove him, as
some persons think, out of the category of ordinary men or free him
from their infirmities. The Apostle was, in fact, supernaturally
inspired upon occasions. The Holy Ghost now and again illuminated the
darkness of the future when such illumination was necessary for the
Church's guidance; but on other occasions St. Paul and his brother
apostles were left to the guidance of their own understandings and to
the conclusions and expectations of common sense, else why did not St.
Peter and St. John read the character of Ananias and Sapphira or of
Simon Magus before their sins were committed? why did St. Peter know
nothing of his deliverance from Herod's prison-house before the angel
appeared, when his undissembled surprise is sufficient evidence that
he had no expectation of any such rescue? These instances, which might
be multiplied abundantly out of St. Paul's career and writings, show
us that St. Paul's confident statement in this passage was a mere
human anticipation which was disappointed by the course of events. The
supernatural knowledge of the apostles ran on precisely the same lines
as their supernatural power. God bestowed them both for use according
as He saw fit and beneficial, but not for common ordinary every-day
purposes, else why did St. Paul leave Trophimus at Miletus sick, or
endure the tortures of his own ophthalmia, or exhort Timothy to take a
little wine on account of his bodily weakness, if he could have healed
them all by his miraculous power? Before we leave this point we may
notice that here we have an incidental proof of the early date of the
composition of the Acts. St. Luke, as we have often maintained, wrote
this book about the close of St. Paul's first imprisonment. Assuredly
if he had written it at a later period, and above all, if he wrote it
twenty years later, he would have either modified the words of his
synopsis of St. Paul's speech, or else given us a hint that subsequent
events had shown that the Apostle was mistaken in his expectations, a
thing which he could easily have done, because he cherished none of
these extreme notions about St. Paul's office and dignity which have
led some to assume that it was impossible for him ever to make a
mistake about the smallest matters.[232]

  [232] See on this point Dr. Salmon's _Introduction to New
  Testament_, 4th ed., p. 445.

III. This discourse, again, is hortatory, and its exhortations contain
very important doctrinal statements. St. Paul begins this third
division with an exhortation like that which our Lord gave to His
apostles under the same circumstances, "Take heed unto yourselves."
The Apostle never forgot that an effective ministry of souls must be
based on deep personal knowledge of the things of God. He knew, too,
from his own experience that it is very easy to be so completely taken
up with the care of other men's souls and the external work of the
Church, as to forget that inner life which can only be kept alive by
close communion with God. Then, having based his exhortations on their
own spiritual life, he exhorts the elders to diligence in the pastoral
office: "Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in the which
the Holy Ghost hath made you bishops, to feed the Church of God, which
He purchased with His own blood." St. Paul in these words shows us his
estimate of the ministerial office. The elders of Ephesus had been all
ordained by St. Paul himself with the imposition of hands, a rite that
has ever been esteemed essential to ordination. It was derived from
the Jewish Church, and was perpetuated into the Christian Church by
that same spirit of conservatism, that law of continuity which in
every department of life enacts that everything shall continue as it
was unless there be some circumstance to cause an alteration.[233] Now
there was no cause for alteration in this case; nay, rather there was
every reason to bring about a continuance of this custom, because
imposition of hands indicates for the people the persons ordained, and
assures the ordained themselves that they have been individually
chosen and set apart. But St. Paul by these words teaches us a higher
and nobler view of the ministry. He teaches us that he was himself but
the instrument of a higher power, and that the imposition of hands was
the sign and symbol to the ordained that the Holy Ghost had chosen
them and appointed them to feed the flock of God. St. Paul here shows
that in ordination, as in the sacraments, we should by faith look away
beyond and behind the human instrument, and view the actions of the
Church of Christ as the very operations and manifestations in the
world of time and sense of the Holy Ghost Himself, the Lord and Giver
of life. He teaches the Ephesian elders, in fact, exactly what he
taught the Corinthian Church some few months earlier, "We have this
treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power
may be of God, and not from ourselves" (2 Cor. iv. 7); the treasure
and the power were everything, the only things, in fact, worth naming,
the earthen vessels which contained them for a little time were
nothing at all. How awful, solemn, heart-searching a view of the
ministerial office this was! How sustaining a view when its holders
are called upon to discharge functions for which they feel themselves
all inadequate in their natural strength! Is it any wonder that the
Church, taking the same view as St. Paul did, has ever held and taught
that the ministerial office thus conferred by supernatural power is no
mere human function to be taken up or laid down at man's pleasure, but
is a life-long office to be discharged at the holder's peril,--a
savour of life unto life for the worthy recipient, a savour of death
unto death for the unworthy and the careless.

  [233] This rule or law is the principle of Butler's great argument
  for a future life in the first chapter of his _Analogy_. He
  expressly states in the following words, "There is in every case a
  probability that things will continue as we experience they are,
  in all respects, except those in which we have some reason to
  think they will be altered. This is that kind of presumption of
  probability from analogy expressed in the word continuance which
  seems our only natural reason for believing the course of the
  world will continue to-morrow as it has done so far back as our
  experience or knowledge of history can carry us back."

In connexion with this statement made by St. Paul concerning the
source of the ministry we find a title given to the Ephesian
presbyters round which much controversy has centred. St. Paul says,
"Take heed unto the flock, over which the Holy Ghost has made you
_bishops_." I do not, however, propose to spend much time over this
topic, as all parties are now agreed that in the New Testament the
term presbyter and bishop are interchangeable and applied to the same
persons.[234] The question to be decided is not about a name, but
about an office, whether, in fact, any persons succeeded in apostolic
times to the office of rule and government exercised by St. Paul and
the rest of the apostles, as well as by Timothy, Titus, and the other
delegates of the Apostle, and whether the term bishop, as used in the
second century, was applied to such successors of the apostles.[235]
This, however, is not a question which comes directly within the
purview of an expositor of the Acts of the Apostles, as the
appointment of Timothy and Titus to manage the affairs of the Church
in Ephesus and in Crete lies beyond the period covered by the text of
the Acts, and properly belongs to the commentary on the Pastoral
Epistles. St. Paul's words in this connexion have, however, an
important bearing on fundamental doctrinal questions connected with
the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. St. Paul speaks of the presbyters
as called "to feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His
own blood." These words are very strong, so strong indeed that various
readings have been put forward to mitigate their force. Some have read
"Lord" instead of "God," others have substituted Christ for it; but
the Revised Version, following the text of Westcott and Hort, have
accepted the strongest form of the verse on purely critical ground,
and translates it as "the Church of God, which He hath purchased with
His own blood." This passage, then, is decisive as to the
Christological views of St. Luke and the Pauline circle generally.
They believed so strongly in the deity of Jesus Christ and His
essential unity with the Father that they hesitated not to speak of
His sacrifice on Calvary as a shedding of the blood of God, an
expression which some fifty years afterwards we find in the Epistle of
Ignatius to the Ephesians, where St. Ignatius speaks of them as
"kindled into living fire by the blood of God," and a hundred years
later still, in Tertullian, _Ad Uxor._, ii. 3. This passage has been
used in scientific theology as the basis of a principle or theory
called the "Communicatio Idiomatum," a theory which finds an
illustration in two other notable passages of Scripture, St. John iii.
13 and 1 Cor. ii. 8. In the former passage our Lord says of Himself,
"No man hath ascended into heaven, but He that descended out of
heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven," where the Son of man
is spoken of as in heaven as well as upon earth at the same time,
though the Son of man, according to His humanity, could only be in one
place at a time. In the second passage St. Paul says, "Which none of
the rulers of this world knew; for had they known it, they would not
have crucified the Lord of Glory," where crucifixion is attributed to
the Lord of Glory, a title derived from His Divine nature. Now the
term "Communicatio Idiomatum," or "transference of peculiar
properties," is given to this usage because in all these texts the
properties of the nature pertaining either to God or to man are spoken
of as if they belonged to the other; or, to put it far better in the
stately language of Hooker, v. liii. where he speaks of "those cross
and circulatory speeches wherein there are attributed to God such
things as belong to manhood, and to man such as properly concern the
deity of Jesus Christ, the cause whereof is the association of natures
in one subject. A kind of mutual commutation there is, whereby those
concrete names, God and man, when we speak of Christ, do take
interchangeably one another's room, so that for truth of speech it
skilleth not whether we say that the Son of God hath created the world
and the Son of man by His death hath saved it, or else that the Son of
man did create and the Son of God die to save the world." This is a
subject of profound speculative and doctrinal interest, not only in
connexion with the apostolic view of our Lord's Person, but also in
reference to the whole round of methodised and scientific theology. We
cannot, however, afford further space for this subject. We must be
content to have pointed it out as an interesting topic of inquiry,
and, merely referring the reader to Hooker and to Liddon's Bampton
Lectures (Lect. V.) for more information, must hurry on to a
conclusion. St. Paul terminates this part of his discourse with
expressing his belief in the rapid development of false doctrines and
false guides as soon as his repressive influence shall have been
removed; a belief which the devout student of the New Testament will
find to have been realised when in 1 Tim. i. 20, in 2 Tim. i. 15, and
ii. 17, 18 he finds the Apostle warning the youthful Bishop of Ephesus
against Phygelus and Hermogenes, who had turned all Asia away from St.
Paul, and against Hymenæus, Philetus, and Alexander, who had imbibed
the Gnostic error concerning matter, which had already led the
Corinthians to deny the future character of the Resurrection. St. Paul
then terminates his discourse with a solemn commendation of the
Ephesian elders to that Divine grace which is as necessary for an
apostle as for the humblest Christian. He exhorts them to
self-sacrifice and self-denial, reminding them of his own example,
having supported himself and his companions by his labour as a
tentmaker at Ephesus, and above all of the words of the Lord Jesus,
which they apparently knew from some source which has not come down to
us, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

  [234] Irenæus, however, writing in the second century, states that
  the bishops and presbyters of Ephesus and the neighbouring cities
  were assembled at Miletus, so that he distinguishes between
  bishops and presbyters even on this occasion: see his work
  _Against Heresies_, iii. 14. Dr. Hatch had an extraordinary
  theory, which he elaborates in his article "Priest" in the
  _Dictionary of Christian Antiquities_, vol. ii., p. 1700. He thus
  states it: "Whether the institution of Presbyters existed in the
  first instance outside the limits of the Judæo-Christian
  communities is doubtful. There is no evidence that it did so; the
  presumption is that it did not, for when St. Paul, writing to the
  churches which were presumably non-Jewish in their character,
  recognises the existence of church officers, he designates them by
  other names: προϊστάμενοι (1 Thess. v. 12), ἐπίσκοποι (Philip. i.
  1)." To put it briefly, his idea is that bishop as a title was
  confined to predominantly Greek communities, and presbyter as a
  title was confined to predominantly Gentile communities. Will this
  theory and the instances he gives stand the test of facts?
  Philippi was, he thinks, a predominantly Gentile Church, so
  thoroughly Gentile that its members would necessarily prefer
  titles drawn from impure pagan sources rather than from
  Judaism. But was Philippi so thoroughly Gentile? If so, why did
  St. Paul stay there and celebrate the days of unleavened bread and
  the passover, as we have above noted? A large element in the
  church must have been Jewish when this happened. Again, take
  Thessalonica. We have already noted that the majority of that
  church must have been Gentile in origin; but there must have been
  a large and influential minority Jewish by race in a town where
  the Jews were so large an element in the population. Again, we
  find the title presbyter applied to the church officials of
  Ephesus. Dr. Hatch on the same page enumerates Ephesus among the
  Judæo-Christian communities, one, therefore, which would
  presumably prefer Jewish titles for its clergy. But was it
  predominantly Jewish? St. Paul laboured three months in the
  synagogue at Ephesus, and was then expelled. He laboured there for
  two years among the Gentiles with such success, that Demetrius
  describes him as having turned away all Asia from Diana's worship.
  Surely if ever there was a Gentile Christian Church it was
  Ephesus! (Cf. Ephes. ii. and iii., where the Gentile character of
  the Ephesian Church is expressly asserted.) Yet here we have the
  title presbyter in use. Dr. Hatch's is not scientific historical
  reasoning, but the exercise of what Bishop Butler well designates,
  that delusive faculty called man's imagination and fancy. Upon
  this whole question of the origin of Christian presbyters, I may
  notice an exhaustive Biblical inquiry, called "The Ruling Elder,"
  by the Rev. Robert King of Ballymena, the learned author of a
  well-known Irish Church History. It appeared after this chapter
  was written.

  [235] In the second century bishops were often called presbyters,
  though presbyters were not called bishops, or, to quote Bishop
  Lightfoot, "Essay on the Ministry," _Philippians_, p. 226: "In the
  language of Irenæus, a presbyter is never designated a bishop,
  while on the other hand he very frequently speaks of a bishop as a
  presbyter." This usage long continued in the Church. Cyprian often
  expresses himself thus: cf. article on word "Senior" in _Dict.
  Christ. Antiqq._ Many instances of it occur in the literature of
  the early Celtic Church in Ireland, which was an offshoot of the
  Gallican Church and, through Gaul, of the Church of Western Asia
  Minor. In fact, this custom of calling bishops seniors or
  presbyters was used in Ireland till the twelfth century: see
  Ussher's Works, Ed. Elrington, vi. 517, 528. St. Bernard, for
  instance, in his Life of St. Malachy, calls the Bishop of Lismore
  "Senior Lesmorensis." I do not, as I have said, propose to enter
  any further into the debateable subject of Church government; but
  as I have come across this passage, and as I have already
  announced that I am writing this commentary as a decided
  Churchman, I may be permitted to state my own views, as history
  seems to me to set them forth, without entering into any
  discussion on the point. During the apostolic age the terms bishop
  and presbyter were interchangeable. As the apostles passed away,
  they seem to me to have established Episcopacy as the normal rule
  of the Church, though, doubtless, it was only by degrees that the
  title of bishop was appropriated to the office so created. By the
  time of Ignatius, that is, about 110 A.D., this appropriation was
  complete. As regards my authority for saying the apostles
  established Episcopacy, I simply appeal to Irenæus, who, in his
  great work against Heresies, Book III., ch. iii., states in
  section i. that "the apostles instituted bishops in the churches,"
  and then in sec. 3 proceeds to trace the line of these bishops in
  the Roman Church, beginning with Linus, "into whose hands the
  blessed apostles committed the office of the Episcopate." Now it
  is upon Irenæus we largely depend for the proof of the canon of
  the New Testament and the Johannine origin of the Fourth Gospel.
  Surely if Irenæus is a witness sufficient to establish the
  apostolic origin of the Gospels, he should be quite sufficient to
  establish the apostolic origin of Episcopacy! If Irenæus is a
  competent witness to the true authorship of an anonymous document
  like the Fourth Gospel, he is surely competent to tell us of the
  true origin of a worldwide institution like Episcopacy. It is
  assuredly much easier to learn the origin of institutions than of

When the Apostle had thus terminated his address, which doubtless was
a very lengthened one, he knelt down, probably on the shore, as we
shall find him kneeling in the next chapter (xxi. 5, 6) on the shore
at Tyre. He then commended them in solemn prayer to God, and they all
parted in deep sorrow on account of the final separation which St.
Paul's words indicated as imminent; for though the primitive
Christians believed in the reality of the next life with an intensity
of faith of which we have no conception, and longed for its peace and
rest, yet they gave free scope to those natural affections which bind
men one to another according to the flesh and were sanctified by the
Master Himself when He wept by the grave of Lazarus. Christianity is
not a religion of stoical apathy, but of sanctified human affections.



     "Having found a ship crossing over unto Phœnicia, we went
     aboard, and set sail.... We sailed unto Syria, and landed at
     Tyre: for there the ship was to unload her burden.... When we
     were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.... Then
     the chief captain came near, and laid hold on him, and commanded
     him to be bound with two chains; and inquired who he was, and
     what he had done.... But Paul said, I am a Jew, of Tarsus in
     Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and I beseech thee, give me
     leave to speak unto the people."--ACTS xxi. 2, 3, 17, 33, 39, 40.

     "And they gave him audience unto this word; and they lifted up
     their voice, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth:
     for it is not fit that he should live.... But on the morrow,
     desiring to know the certainty, wherefore he was accused of the
     Jews, he loosed him, and commanded the chief priests and all the
     council to come together, and brought Paul down, and set him
     before them."--ACTS xxii. 22, 30.

     "And after five days the high priest Ananias came down with
     certain elders, and with an orator, one Tertullus; and they
     informed the governor against Paul."--ACTS xxiv. 1.

     "And Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for
     thyself. Then Paul stretched forth his hand, and made his
     defence."--ACTS xxvi. 1.

The title we have given to this chapter, "A Prisoner in Bonds,"
expresses the central idea of the last eight chapters of the Acts.
Twenty years and more had now elapsed since St. Paul's conversion on
the road to Damascus. These twenty years had been times of unceasing
and intense activity. Now we come to some five years when the external
labours, the turmoil and the cares of active life, have to be put
aside, and St. Paul was called upon to stand apart and learn the
lesson which every-day experience teaches to all,--how easily the
world can get along without us, how smoothly God's designs fulfil
themselves without our puny assistance. The various passages we have
placed at the head of this chapter cover six chapters of the Acts,
from the twenty-first to the twenty-sixth. It may seem a large extent
of the text to be comprised within the limits of one of our chapters,
but it must be remembered that a great deal of the space thus included
is taken up with the narrative of St. Paul's conversion, which is
twice set forth at great length, first to the multitude from the
stairs of the tower of Antonia, and then in his defence which he
delivered before Agrippa and Bernice and Festus, or else with the
speeches delivered by him before the assembled Sanhedrin and before
Felix the governor, wherein he dwells on points previously and
sufficiently discussed.[236] We have already considered the narrative
of the Apostle's conversion at great length, and noted the particular
directions in which St. Paul's own later versions at Jerusalem and
Cæsarea throw light upon St. Luke's independent account. To the
earlier chapters of this book we therefore would refer the reader who
wishes to discuss St. Paul's conversion, and several of the other
subjects which he introduces. Let us now, however, endeavour, first of
all, to gather up into one connected story the tale of St. Paul's
journeys, sufferings, and imprisonments from the time he left Miletus
after his famous address till he set sail for Rome from the port of
Cæsarea, a prisoner destined for the judgment-seat of Nero. This
narrative will embrace from at least the summer of A.D. 58, when he
was arrested at Jerusalem, to the autumn of 60, when he set sail for
Rome. This connected story will enable us to see the close union of
the various parts of the narrative which is now hidden from us because
of the division into chapters, and will enable us to fix more easily
upon the leading points which lend themselves to the purposes of an

  [236] Thus in ch. xxiv. 10-16 he enlarges upon the subject of "the
  Way which they call a sect," a topic and a name fully discussed
  above on pp. 32, 33.

I. St. Paul, after parting from the Ephesian Church, embarked on board
his ship, and then coasted along the western shore of Asia Minor for
three days, sailing amid scenery of the most enchanting description,
specially in that late spring or early summer season at which the year
had then arrived. It was about the first of May, and all nature was
bursting into new life, when even hearts, the hardest and least
receptive of external influences, feel as if they were living a
portion of their youth over again. And even St. Paul, rapt away in the
contemplation of things unseen, must have felt himself touched by the
beauty of the scenes through which he was passing, though St. Luke
tells us nothing but the bare succession of events. Three days after
leaving Miletus the sacred company reached Patara, a town at the
south-western corner of Asia Minor, where the coast begins to turn
round towards the east. Here St. Paul found a trading ship sailing
direct to Tyre and Palestine, and therefore with all haste transferred
himself and his party into it. The ship seems to have been on the
point of sailing, which suited St. Paul so much the better, anxious as
he was to reach Jerusalem in time for Pentecost. The journey direct
from Patara to Tyre is about three hundred and fifty miles, a three
days' sail under favourable circumstances for the trading vessels of
the ancients, and the circumstances were favourable. The north-west
wind is to this day the prevailing wind in the eastern Mediterranean
during the late spring and early summer season, and the north-west
wind would be the most favourable wind for an ancient trader almost
entirely depending on an immense main sail for its motive power. With
such a wind the merchantmen of that age could travel at the rate of a
hundred to a hundred and fifty miles a day, and would therefore
traverse the distance between Patara and Tyre in three days, the time
we have specified. When the vessel arrived at Tyre St. Paul sought out
the local Christian congregation. The ship was chartered to bring a
cargo probably of wheat or wine to Tyre, inasmuch as Tyre was a purely
commercial city, and the territory naturally belonging to it was
utterly unable to furnish it with necessary provisions, as we have
already noted on the occasion of Herod Agrippa's death. A week,
therefore, was spent in unloading the cargo, during which St. Paul
devoted himself to the instruction of the local Christian Church.
After a week's close communion with this eminent servant of God, the
Tyrian Christians, like the elders of Ephesus and Miletus, with their
wives and children accompanied him till they reached the shore, where
they commended one another in prayer to God's care and blessing. From
Tyre he sailed to Ptolemais, thirty miles distant. There again he
found another Christian congregation, with whom he tarried one day,
and then leaving the ship proceeded by the great coast road to
Cæsarea, a town which he already knew right well, and to which he was
so soon to return as a prisoner in bonds. At Cæsarea there must now
have been a very considerable Christian congregation. In Cæsarea
Philip the Evangelist lived and ministered permanently. There too
resided his daughters, eminent as teachers, and exercising in their
preaching or prophetical functions a great influence among the very
mixed female population of the political capital of Palestine. St.
Paul and St. Luke abode in Cæsarea several days in the house of Philip
the Evangelist. He did not wish to arrive in Jerusalem till close on
the Feast of Pentecost, and owing to the fair winds with which he had
been favoured he must have had a week or more to stay in Cæsarea. Here
Agabus again appears upon the scene. Fourteen years before he had
predicted the famine which led St. Paul to pay a visit to Jerusalem
when bringing up the alms of the Antiochene Church to assist the poor
brethren at Jerusalem, and now he predicts the Apostle's approaching
captivity. The prospect moved the Church so much that the brethren
besought St. Paul to change his mind and not enter the Holy City. But
his mind was made up, and nothing would dissuade him from celebrating
the Feast as he had all along proposed. He went up therefore to
Jerusalem, lodging with Mnason, "an early disciple," as the Revised
Version puts it, one therefore who traced his Christian convictions
back probably to the celebrated Pentecost a quarter of a century
earlier, when the Holy Ghost first displayed His supernatural power in
converting multitudes of human souls. Next day he went to visit James,
the Bishop of Jerusalem, who received him warmly, grasped his
position, warned him of the rumours which had been industriously and
falsely circulated as to his opposition to the Law of Moses, even in
the case of born Jews, and gave him some prudent advice as to his
course of action. St. James recommended that St. Paul should unite
himself with certain Christian Nazarites, and perform the Jewish rites
usual in such cases. A Nazarite, as we have already mentioned, when he
took the Nazarite vow for a limited time after some special
deliverance vouchsafed to him, allowed his hair to grow till he could
cut it off in the Temple, and have it burned in the fire of the
sacrifices offered up on his behalf. These sacrifices were very
expensive, as will be seen at once by a reference to Numbers vi.
13-18, where they are prescribed at full length, and it was always
regarded as a mark of patriotic piety when any stranger coming to
Jerusalem offered to defray the necessary charges for the poorer Jews,
and thus completed the ceremonies connected with the Nazarite vow. St.
James advised St. Paul to adopt this course, to unite himself with the
members of the local Christian Church who were unable to defray the
customary expenses, to pay their charges, join with them in the
sacrifices, and thus publicly proclaim to those who opposed him that,
though he differed from them as regards the Gentiles, holding in that
matter with St. James himself and with the apostles, yet as regards
the Jews, whether at Jerusalem or throughout the world at large, he
was totally misrepresented when men asserted that he taught the Jews
to reject the Law of Moses. St. Paul was guided by the advice of
James, and proceeded to complete the ceremonial prescribed for the
Nazarites. This was the turning-point of his fate. Jerusalem was then
thronged with strangers from every part of the world. Ephesus and the
province of Asia, as a great commercial centre, and therefore a great
Jewish resort, furnished a very large contingent.[237] To these,
then, Paul was well known as an enthusiastic Christian teacher,
toward whom the synagogues of Ephesus felt the bitterest hostility.
They had often plotted against him at Ephesus, as St. Paul himself
told the elders in his address at Miletus, but had hitherto failed to
effect their purpose. Now, however, they seemed to see their chance.
They thought they had a popular cry and a legal accusation under which
he might be done to death under the forms of law. These Ephesian Jews
had seen him in the city in company with Trophimus, an uncircumcised
Christian, belonging to their own city, one therefore whose presence
within the temple was a capital offence, even according to Roman
law.[238] They raised a cry therefore that he had defiled the Holy
Place by bringing into it an uncircumcised Greek; and thus roused the
populace to seize the Apostle, drag him from the sacred precincts, and
murder him. During the celebration of the Feasts the Roman sentinels,
stationed upon the neighbouring tower of Antonia which overlooked the
Temple courts, watched the assembled crowds most narrowly,
apprehensive of a riot. As soon therefore as the first symptoms of an
outbreak occurred, the alarm was given, the chief captain Lysias
hurried to the spot, and St. Paul was rescued for the moment. At the
request of the Apostle, who was being carried up into the castle, he
was allowed to address the multitude from the stairs. They listened to
the narrative of his conversion very quietly till he came to tell of
the vision God vouchsafed to him in the Temple some twenty years
before, warning him to leave Jerusalem, when at the words "Depart, for
I will send thee forth far hence unto the Gentiles," all their pent-up
rage and pride and national jealousy burst forth anew. St. Paul had
been addressing them in the Hebrew language which the chief captain
understood not, and the mob probably expressed their rage and passion
in the same language. The chief captain ordered St. Paul to be
examined by flogging to know why they were so outrageous against him.
More fortunate, however, on this occasion than at Philippi, he claimed
his privilege as a Roman citizen, and escaped the torture. The chief
captain was still in ignorance of the prisoner's crime, and therefore
he brought him the very next day before the Sanhedrin, when St. Paul
by a happy stroke caused such a division between the Sadducees and
Pharisees that the chief captain was again obliged to intervene and
rescue the prisoner from the contending factions. Next day, however,
the Jews formed a conspiracy to murder the Apostle, which his nephew
discovered and revealed to St. Paul and to Claudius Lysias, who that
same night despatched him to Cæsarea.[239]

  [237] See Lightfoot's _Ignatius_, vol. i., p. 452, upon the
  presence of Jews in the towns and cities of Proconsular Asia.
  Antiochus the Great transported two thousand Jewish families to
  these parts from Babylonia and Mesopotamia.

  [238] Inscriptions, according to Josephus, were graven in Greek
  and Latin on stones fixed in a wall or balustrade which ran round
  the Temple, warning the Gentiles not to enter on pain of death:
  see Josephus, _Wars_, V. v. 2; _Antiqq._, XV. xi. 5. One of these
  stones was discovered some twenty years ago by M. Clermont
  Ganneau, with the inscription intact. It had been buried in the
  ground on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, where this learned
  Frenchman discovered it. A transcript of it can now be seen in
  Lewin's _St. Paul_, ii. 133. The inscription literally translated
  runs thus: "No alien to pass within the balustrade round the
  Temple and the inclosure. Whosoever shall be caught (so doing)
  must blame himself for the death that will ensue." This stone must
  often have been read by our Lord and His apostles, as they
  frequented the temple.

  [239] It is very curious how perpetually St. Paul escaped the
  plots of the Jews at Corinth, Ephesus, and elsewhere. At Corinth
  the plot formed was revealed as it would seem just as he was about
  to go on board his vessel (ch. xx. 3). Doubtless there were
  concealed Christians to whose ears the plots came and by whom they
  were revealed.

All these events, from his conference with James to his arrival under
guard at Cæsarea, cannot have covered more than eight days at the
utmost, and yet the story of them extends from the middle of the
twenty-first chapter to the close of the twenty-third, while the
record of twelve months' hard work preaching, writing, organising is
embraced within the first six verses of the twentieth chapter, showing
how very different was St. Luke's narrative of affairs, according as
he was present or absent when they were transacted.[240]

  [240] See Lewin's _Fasti Sacri_, pp. 314-16, for an elaborate
  account of each day's proceedings, and a discussion of the various
  problems, chronological and otherwise, which they raise.

From the beginning of the twenty-fourth chapter to the close of the
twenty-sixth is taken up with the account of St. Paul's trials, at
first before Felix, and then before Festus, his successor in the
procuratorship of Palestine. Just let us summarise the course of
events and distinguish between them. St. Paul was despatched by
Claudius Lysias to Felix accompanied by a letter in which he contrives
to put the best construction on his own actions, representing himself
as specially anxious about St. Paul because he was a Roman citizen, on
which account indeed he describes himself as rescuing him from the
clutches of the mob. After the lapse of five days St. Paul was brought
up before Felix and accused by the Jews of three serious crimes in the
eyes of Roman law as administered in Palestine. First, he was a mover
of seditions among the Jews;[241] second, a ringleader of a new sect,
the Nazarenes, unknown to Jewish law; and third, a profaner of the
Temple, contrary to the law which the Romans themselves had
sanctioned. On all these points Paul challenged investigation and
demanded proof, asking where were the Jews from Asia who had accused
him of profaning the Temple. The Jews doubtless thought that Paul was
a common Jew, who would be yielded up to their clamour by the
procurator, and knew nothing of his Roman citizenship. Their want of
witnesses brought about their failure, but did not lead to St. Paul's
release. He was committed to the custody of a centurion, and freedom
of access was granted to his friends. In this state St. Paul continued
two full years, from midsummer 58 to the same period of A.D. 60, when
Felix was superseded by Festus. During these two years Felix often
conversed with St. Paul. Felix was a thoroughly bad man. He exercised,
as a historian of that time said of him, "the power of a king with the
mind of a slave." He was tyrannical, licentious, and corrupt, and
hoped to be bribed by St. Paul when he would have set him at liberty.
At this period of his life St. Paul twice came in contact with the
Herodian house which thenceforth disappears from sacred history. Felix
about the period of St. Paul's arrest enticed Drusilla, the
great-granddaughter of Herod the Great, from her husband through the
medium as many think, of Simon Magus. Drusilla was very young and very
beautiful, and, like all the Herodian women, very wicked.[242] Felix
was an open adulterer, therefore, and it is no wonder that when Paul
reasoned before the guilty pair concerning righteousness, temperance,
and the judgment to come, conscience should have smitten them and
Felix should have trembled. St. Paul had another opportunity of
bearing witness before this wicked and bloodstained family. Festus
succeeded Felix as procurator of Palestine about June A.D. 60. Within
the following month Agrippa II., the son of the Herod Agrippa who had
died the terrible death at Cæsarea of which the twelfth chapter tells,
came to Cæsarea to pay his respects unto the new governor. Agrippa was
ruler of the kingdom of Chalcis, a district north of Palestine and
about the Lebanon Range. He was accompanied by his sister Bernice, who
afterwards became the mistress of Titus, the conqueror of Jerusalem in
the last great siege. Festus had already heard St. Paul's case, and
had allowed his appeal unto Cæsar. He wished, however, to have his
case investigated before two Jewish experts, Agrippa and Bernice, who
could instruct his own ignorance on the charges laid against him by
the Jews, enabling him to write a more satisfactory report for the
Emperor's guidance. He brought St. Paul therefore before them, and
gave the great Christian champion another opportunity of bearing
witness for his Master before a family which now for more than sixty
years had been more or less mixed up, but never for their own
blessing, with Christian history. After a period of two years and
three months' detention, varied by different public appearances, St.
Paul was despatched to Rome to stand his trial and make his defence
before the Emperor Nero, whose name has become a synonym for vice,
brutality, and self-will.

  [241] The Romans were always afraid of Jewish seditions. Seven
  years before St. Paul's imprisonment there had been a terrible
  outburst, in which Ananias the high priest had been himself
  involved, and which led to the despatch of Felix himself as
  procurator. He had effectually put down all disturbances, which
  led to the prolongation of his rule in Palestine for the very
  unusual period of eight years, from 52 to 60 A.D. This accounts
  for the words of Tertullus (ch. xxiv. 2): "Seeing that by thee we
  enjoy much peace, and that by thy providence evils are corrected
  for this nation." See Lewin's _Fasti_, pp. 296-98, 315, 320;
  Conybeare and Howson, ch. xxii.; and for the latest authority,
  Schürer's _Geschichte des Jüdischen Volkes_, i. 477-83, ii. 170
  (Leipzig, 1886).

  [242] Drusilla perished with her child by this union with Felix in
  the famous eruption of Vesuvius A.D. 79.

II. We have now given a connected outline of St. Paul's history
extending over a period of more than two years. Let us omit his formal
defences, which have already come under our notice, and take for our
meditation a number of points which are peculiar to the narrative.

We have in the story of the voyage, arrest, and imprisonment of St.
Paul, many circumstances which illustrate God's methods of action in
the world, or else His dealings with the spiritual life. Let us take a
few instances. First, then, we direct attention to the steady though
quiet progress of the Christian faith as revealed in these chapters.
St. Paul landed at Tyre, and from Tyre he proceeded some thirty miles
south to Ptolemais. These are both of them towns which have never
hitherto occurred in our narrative as places of Christian activity.
St. Paul and St. Peter and Barnabas and the other active leaders of
the Church must often have passed through these towns, and wherever
they went they strove to make known the tidings of the gospel. But we
hear nothing in the Acts, and tradition tells us nothing of when or by
whom the Christian Church was founded in these localities.[243]

  [243] See my remarks in the next chapter on the case of the church
  at Puteoli, which St. Paul found flourishing there on his voyage
  to Rome.

We get glimpses, too, of the ancient organisation of the Church, but
only glimpses; we have no complete statement, because St. Luke was
writing for a man who lived amidst it, and could supply the gaps which
his informant left. The presbyters are mentioned at Miletus, and
Agabus the prophet appeared at Antioch years before, and now again he
appears at Cæsarea, where Philip the Evangelist and his daughters the
prophetesses appear. Prophets and prophesying are not confined to
Palestine and Antioch, though the Acts tells us nothing of them as
existing elsewhere. The Epistle to Corinth shows us that the prophets
occupied a very important place in that Christian community.
Prophesying indeed was principally preaching at Corinth; but it did
not exclude prediction, and that after the ancient Jewish method, by
action as well as by word, for Agabus took St. Paul's girdle, and
binding his own hands and feet declared that the Holy Ghost told him,
"So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle,
and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles."[244] But how little
we know of the details of the upgrowth of the Church in all save the
more prominent places! How entirely ignorant we are, for instance, of
the methods by which the gospel spread to Tyre and Ptolemais and
Puteoli! Here we find in the Acts the fulfilment of our Lord's words
as reported in St. Mark iv. 26: "So is the kingdom of God, as if a man
should cast seed upon the earth; ... and the seed should spring up and
grow, he knoweth not how." It was with the last and grander temple of
God as it was with the first. Its foundations were laid, and its walls
were built, not with sound of axe and hammer, but in the penitence of
humbled souls, in the godly testimony of sanctified spirits, in the
earnest lives of holy men hidden from the scoffing world, known only
to the Almighty.

  [244] This prophecy was not literally fulfilled. The Jews did not
  bind St. Paul, nor deliver him into Gentile hands. The Romans took
  him out of Jewish hands, and bound him for their own purposes. The
  Jews, however, brought this binding about, and were the cause of
  his captivity in Roman hands. On the question of prophets and
  prophesying in the primitive Church, see Dr. Salmon's article on
  Hermas, in the _Dictionary of Christian Biography_, vol. ii., pp.

Again, we notice the advice given by James and the course actually
adopted by St. Paul when he arrived at Jerusalem. It has the
appearance of compromise of truth, and yet it has the appearance
merely, not the reality of compromise. It was in effect wise and sound
advice, and such as teaches lessons useful for our own guidance in
life. We have already set forth St. Paul's conception of Jewish rites
and ceremonies. They were nothing in the world one way or another, as
viewed from the Divine standpoint. Their presence did not help on the
work of man's salvation; their absence did not detract from it. The
Apostle therefore took part in them freely enough, as when he
celebrated the passover and the days of unleavened bread at Philippi,
viewing them as mere national rites.[245] He had been successful in
the very highest degree in converting to this view even the highest
and strictest members of the Jerusalem Church. St. James, in advising
St. Paul how to act on this occasion, when such prejudices had been
excited against him, clearly shows that he had come round to St.
Paul's view. He tells St. Paul that the multitude or body of the
Judæo-Christian Church at Jerusalem had been excited against him,
because they had been informed that he taught the Jews of the
Dispersion to forsake Moses, the very thing St. Paul did not do. St.
James grasped, however, St. Paul's view that Moses and the Levitical
Law might be good things for the Jews, but had no relation to the
Gentiles, and must not be imposed on them. St. James had taught this
view ten years earlier at the Apostolic Council. His opinions and
teaching had percolated downwards, and the majority of the Jerusalem
Church now held the same view as regards the Gentiles, but were as
strong as ever and as patriotic as ever so far as the Jews were
concerned, and the obligation of the Jewish Law upon them and their
children. St. Paul had carried his point as regards Gentile freedom.
And now there came a time when he had in turn to show consideration
and care for Jewish prejudices, and act out his own principle that
circumcision was nothing and uncircumcision was nothing. Concessions,
in fact, were not to be all on one side, and St. Paul had now to make
a concession. The Judæo-Christian congregations of Jerusalem were much
excited, and St. Paul by a certain course of conduct, perfectly
innocent and harmless, could pacify their excited patriotic feelings,
and demonstrate to them that he was still a true, a genuine, and not a
renegade Jew. It was but a little thing that St. James advised and
public feeling demanded. He had but to join himself to a party of
Nazarites and pay their expenses, and thus Paul would place himself
_en rapport_ with the Mother Church of Christendom. St. Paul acted
wisely, charitably, and in a Christlike spirit when he consented to do
as St. James advised. St. Paul was always eminently prudent. There are
some religious men who seem to think that to advise a wise or prudent
course is all the same as to advise a wicked or unprincipled course.
They seem to consider success in any course as a clear evidence of
sin, and failure as a proof of honesty and true principle. Concession,
however, is not the same as unworthy compromise. It is our duty in
life to see and make our course of conduct as fruitful and as
successful as possible. Concession on little points has a wondrous
power in smoothing the path of action and gaining true success. Many
an honest man ruins a good cause simply because he cannot distinguish,
as St. Paul did, things necessary and essential from things accidental
and trivial. Pig-headed obstinacy, to use a very homely but a very
expressive phrase, which indeed is often only disguised pride, is a
great enemy to the peace and harmony of societies and churches. St.
Paul displayed great boldness here. He was not afraid of being
misrepresented, that ghost which frightens so many a popularity hunter
from the course which is true and right. How easily his fierce
opponents, the men who had gone to Corinth and Galatia to oppose him,
might misrepresent his action in joining himself to the Nazarites!
They were the extreme men of the Jerusalem Church. They were the men
for whom the decisions of the Apostolic Council had no weight, and who
held still as of old that unless a man be circumcised he could not be
saved. How easily, I say, these men could despatch their emissaries,
who should proclaim that their opponent Paul had conceded all their
demands and was himself observing the law at Jerusalem. St. Paul was
not afraid of this misrepresentation, but boldly took the course which
seemed to him right and true, and charitable, despite the malicious
tongues of his adversaries. The Apostle of the Gentiles left us an
example which many still require. How many a man is kept from
adopting a course that is charitable and tends to peace and
edification, solely because he is afraid of what opponents may say, or
how they may twist and misrepresent his action. St. Paul was possessed
with none of this moral cowardice which specially flourishes among
so-called party-leaders, men who, instead of leading, are always led
and governed by the opinions of their followers.[246] St. Paul simply
determined in his conscience what was right, and then fearlessly acted
out his determination.

  [245] St. Paul, writing twelve months earlier than his arrest,
  expressly lays down this principle in 1 Corinthians vii. 18-20:
  "Was any man called being circumcised? let him not become
  uncircumcised. Hath any been called in uncircumcision? let him not
  be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is
  nothing; but the keeping of the commandments of God. Let each man
  abide in that calling wherein he was called."

  [246] We see enough of this in politics. We see it in the Church
  as well. Writing as one with nearly a quarter of a century's
  experience of a disestablished, and therefore of a popularly
  governed Church, I have seen a great deal of this tendency in
  ecclesiastical matters. Prominent and ambitious men are ever apt
  to fall into the snare here noted. The tendency of popular
  assemblies is ever to develop a class of men who will have but
  little backbone, and will be always ready to rectify their
  convictions to suit their constituencies. "Show thou me the way I
  should walk in," but in a very different sense from the
  Psalmist's, is the unuttered prayer of their lives, addressed to
  the popular audiences of whose opinions they are the mere
  expressions, not the guides. For such men this typical history has
  many a reproof in St. Paul's brave conduct upon this and every
  other occasion. He was never afraid of a little temporary
  misrepresentation, and therefore he proved a real guide to the
  Church of his own and of every age.

Some persons perhaps would argue that the result of his action showed
that he was wrong and had unworthily compromised the cause of
Christian freedom. They think that had he not consented to appear as a
Nazarite in the Temple no riot would have occurred, his arrest would
have been avoided, and the course of history might have been very
different. But here we would join issue on the spot. The results of
his action vindicated his Christian wisdom. The great body of the
Jerusalem Church were convinced of his sincerity and realised his
position. He maintained his influence over them, which had been
seriously imperilled previously, and thus helped on the course of
development which had been going on. Ten years before the advocates of
Gentile freedom were but a small body. Now the vast majority of the
local church at Jerusalem held fast to this idea, while still clinging
fast to the obligation laid upon the Jews to observe the law. St. Paul
did his best to maintain his friendship and alliance with the
Jerusalem Church. To put himself right with them he travelled up to
Jerusalem, when fresh fields and splendid prospects were opening up
for him in the West. For this purpose he submitted to several days
restraint and attendance in the Temple, and the results vindicated his
determination. The Jerusalem Church continued the same course of
orderly development, and when, ten years later, Jerusalem was
threatened with destruction, the Christian congregations alone rose
above the narrow bigoted patriotism which bound the Jews to the Holy
City. The Christians alone realised that the day of the Mosaic Law was
at length passed, and, retiring to the neighbouring city of Pella,
escaped the destruction which awaited the fanatical adherents of the
Law and the Temple.[247]

  [247] See Eusebius, _H. E._, iii. 5, and the notes of Valesius on
  that passage.

Another answer, too, may be made to this objection. It was not his
action in the matter of the Nazarites that brought about the riot and
the arrest and his consequent imprisonment. It was the hostility of
the Jews of Asia; and they would have assailed him whenever and
wherever they met him. Studying the matter too even in view of
results, we should draw the opposite conclusion. God Himself approved
his course. A Divine vision was vouchsafed to him in the guard-room
of Antonia, after he had twice experienced Jewish violence, and
bestowed upon him the approbation of Heaven: "The night following the
Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer; for as thou hast
testified concerning Me at Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also
at Rome." His courageous and at the same time charitable action was
vindicated by its results on the Jerusalem Church, by the sanction of
Christ Himself, and lastly, by its blessed results upon the
development of the Church at large in leading St. Paul to Rome, in
giving him a wider and more influential sphere for his efforts, and in
affording him leisure to write epistles like those to Ephesus,
Philippi, and Colossæ, which have been so instructive and useful for
the Church of all ages.

Another point which has exercised men's minds is found in St. Paul's
attitude and words when brought before the Sanhedrin on the day after
his arrest. The story is told in the opening verses of the
twenty-third chapter. Let us quote them, as they vividly present the
difficulty: "And Paul, looking stedfastly on the council, said,
Brethren, I have lived before God in all good conscience until this
day. And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to
smite him on the mouth. Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee,
thou whited wall: and sittest thou to judge me according to the law,
and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law? And they that
stood by said, Revilest thou God's high priest? And Paul said, I wist
not, brethren, that he was high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt
not speak evil of a ruler of thy people."

Two difficulties here present themselves. (_a_) There is St. Paul's
language, which certainly seems wanting in Christian meekness, and
not exactly modelled after the example of Christ, who, when He was
reviled, reviled not again, and laid down in His Sermon on the Mount a
law of suffering to which St. Paul does not here conform. But this is
only a difficulty for those who have formed a superhuman estimate of
St. Paul against which we have several times protested, and against
which this very book of the Acts seems to take special care to warn
its readers. If people will make the Apostle as sinless and as perfect
as our Lord, they will of course be surprised at his language on this
occasion. But if they regard him in the light in which St. Luke
portrays him, as a man of like passions and infirmities with
themselves, then they will feel no difficulty in the fact that St.
Paul's natural temper was roused at the brutal and illegal command to
smite a helpless prisoner on the mouth because he had made a statement
which a member of the court did not relish. This passage seems to me
not a difficulty, but a divinely guided passage witnessing to the
inspiring influence of the Holy Ghost, and inserted to chasten our
wandering fancy which would exalt the Apostle to a position equal to
that which rightly belongs to his Divine Master alone.

(_b_) Then there is a second difficulty. Some have thought that St.
Paul told a lie in this passage, and that, when defending himself from
the charge of unscriptural insolence to the high priest, he merely
pretended ignorance of his person, saying, "I wist not, brethren, that
he was high priest." The older commentators devised various
explanations of this passage. Dr. John Lightfoot, in his _Horæ
Hebraicæ_, treating of this verse, sums them all up as follows. Either
St. Paul means that he did not recognise Ananias as high priest
because he did not lawfully occupy the office, or else because that
Christ was now the only high priest; or else because there had been so
many and so frequent changes that as a matter of fact he did not know
who was the actual high priest. None of these is a satisfactory
explanation. Mr. Lewin offers what strikes me as the most natural
explanation, considering all the circumstances. Ananias was appointed
high priest about 47, continued in office till 59, and was killed in
the beginning of the great Jewish war. He was a thoroughly historical
character, and his high priesthood is guaranteed for us by the
testimony of Josephus, who tells us of his varied fortunes and of his
tragic death. But St. Paul never probably once saw him, as he was
absent from Jerusalem, except for one brief visit all the time while
he enjoyed supreme office.

Now the Sanhedrin consisted of seventy-one judges, they sat in a large
hall with a crowd of scribes and pupils in front of them, and the high
priest, as we have already pointed out (vol. i., p. 181), was not
necessarily president or chairman. St. Paul was very short-sighted,
and the ophthalmia under which he continually suffered was probably
much intensified by the violent treatment he had experienced the day
before. Could anything be more natural than that a shortsighted man
should not recognise in such a crowd the particular person who had
uttered this very brief, but very tyrannical command, "Smite him on
the mouth"? Surely an impartial review of St. Paul's life shows him
ever to have been at least a man of striking courage, and therefore
one who would never have descended to cloke his own hasty words with
even the shadow of an untruth![248]

  [248] There is no necessity to adopt forced and unnatural
  explanations when an easy one lies ready to our hand, and we all
  have daily experience how hard it is for even a keen-sighted man
  to distinguish among a crowd the person who utters a brief
  exclamation; a fact which the debates in the House of Commons
  often illustrate. I can myself quite appreciate St. Paul's
  difficulty. I am extremely short-sighted, and am never able to
  discern--say in a meeting of one of our synods--who it is that
  interrupts or contradicts me.

Again, the readiness and quickness of St. Paul in seizing upon every
opportunity of escape have important teaching for us. Upon four
different occasions at this crisis he displayed this characteristic.
Let us note them for our guidance. When he was rescued by the chief
captain and was carried into the castle, the captain ordered him to be
examined by scourging to elicit the true cause of the riot, St. Paul
then availed himself of his privilege as a Roman citizen to escape
that torture. When he stood before the council he perceived the old
division between the Pharisees and the Sadducees to be still in
existence, which he had known long ago when he was himself connected
with it. He skilfully availed himself of that circumstance to raise
dissension among his opponents. He grasped the essential principle
which lay at the basis of his teaching, and that was the doctrine of
the Resurrection and the assertion of the reality of the spiritual
world. Without that doctrine Christianity and Christian teaching was
utterly meaningless, and in that doctrine Pharisees and Christians
were united. Dropping the line of defence he was about to offer, which
probably would have proceeded to show how true to conscience and to
Divine light had been his course of life, he cried out, "I am a
Pharisee, a son of Pharisees: touching the hope and resurrection of
the dead I am called in question." Grotius, an old and learned
commentator, dealing with ch. xxiii. 6, has well summed up the
principles on which St. Paul acted on this occasion in the following
words: "St. Paul was not lacking in human prudence, making use of
which for the service of the gospel, he intermingled the wisdom of the
serpent with the gentleness of the dove, and thus utilised the
dissensions of his enemies." Yet once more we see the same tact in
operation. After the meeting of the Sanhedrin and his rescue from out
of its very midst, a plot was formed to assassinate him, of which he
was informed by his nephew. Then again St. Paul did not let things
slide, trusting in the Divine care alone. He knew right well that God
demanded of men of faith that they should be fellow-workers with God
and lend Him their co-operation. He knew too the horror which the
Roman authorities had of riot and of all illegal measures; he
despatched his nephew therefore to the chief captain, and by his
readiness of resource saved himself from imminent danger. Lastly, we
find the same characteristic trait coming out at Cæsarea. His
experience of Roman rule taught him the anxiety of new governors to
please the people among whom they came. He knew that Festus would be
anxious to gratify the Jewish authorities in any way he possibly
could. They were very desirous to have the Apostle transferred from
Cæsarea to Jerusalem, sure that in some way or another they could
there dispose of him. Knowing therefore the dangerous position in
which he stood, St. Paul's readiness and tact again came to his help.
He knew Roman law thoroughly well. He knew that as a Roman citizen he
had one resource left by which in one brief sentence he could transfer
himself out of the jurisdiction of Sanhedrin and Procurator alike, and
of this he availed himself at the critical moment, pronouncing the
magic words _Cæsarem Appello_ ("I appeal unto Cæsar"). St. Paul left
in all these cases a healthy example which the Church urgently
required in subsequent years. He had no morbid craving after suffering
or death. No man ever lived in a closer communion with his God, or in
a more steadfast readiness to depart and be with Christ. But he knew
that it was his duty to remain at his post till the Captain of his
salvation gave a clear note of withdrawal, and that clear note was
only given when every avenue of escape was cut off. St. Paul therefore
used his knowledge and his tact in order to ascertain the Master's
will and discover whether it was His wish that His faithful servant
should depart or tarry yet awhile for the discharge of his earthly
duties. I have said that this was an example necessary for the Church
in subsequent ages. The question of flight in persecution became a
very practical one as soon as the Roman Empire assumed an attitude
definitely hostile to the Church. The more extreme and fanatical party
not only refused to take any measures to secure their safety or escape
death, but rather rushed headlong upon it, and upbraided those as
traitors and renegades who tried in any way to avoid suffering.[249]
From the earliest times, from the days of Ignatius of Antioch himself,
we see this morbid tendency displaying itself; while the Church in the
person of several of its greatest leaders--men like Polycarp and
Cyprian, who themselves retired from impending danger till the Roman
authorities discovered them--showed that St. Paul's wiser teaching and
example were not thrown away.[250] Quietism was a view which two
centuries ago made a great stir both in England and France, and seems
embodied to some extent in certain modern forms of thought. It taught
that believers should lie quite passive in God's hands and make no
effort for themselves. Quietism would never have found a follower in
the vigorous mind of St. Paul, who proved himself through all those
trials and vicissitudes of more than two years ever ready with some
new device wherewith to meet the hatred of his foes.[251]

  [249] Any reader who wishes to see how this question was discussed
  about the year 200 A. D. should turn to Tertullian's treatise _De
  Fuga in Persecutione_, c. 6., in his works translated in Clark's
  Ante-Nicene Library, vol. i., p. 364, where Tertullian admits that
  the apostles fled in time of persecution, but argues that the
  permission to do so was merely temporary and personal to the
  apostles. The study of Church history is specially useful in
  showing us how exactly the same tendencies emerge in ancient and
  modern schisms and sects. Tertullian would have been a Quietist
  had he lived in the seventeenth century; see note 2, p. 446.

  [250] St. Ignatius of Antioch was very desirous of martyrdom. St.
  Polycarp fifty years avoided it till he was arrested. St. Clement
  of Alexandria, in his _Stromata_, iv. 16, 17, condemns the
  suicidal passion for martyrdom. St. Cyprian, enthusiastic as he
  was, retired like Polycarp till escape was impossible. These holy
  men all acted like St. Paul. They waited till God had intimated
  His will by shutting up all way of escape. The story of Polycarp
  has an interesting warning against presumptuous rushing upon
  trials. Quintus, one of St. Polycarp's flock, gave himself up to
  death. His courage failed him at the last, and he became an
  apostate: see on this subject Lightfoot's _Ignatius and Polycarp_,
  vol. i., pp. 38, 393, 603.

  [251] Quietism, Jansenism, and Quakerism were all manifestations
  of the same spirit, and arose about the same time. Molinos was the
  founder of Quietism in Spain. A concise account of the movement
  will be found in Schaffs _Theological Encyclopædia_ in connexion
  with the names of Molinos and Guyon.

III. We notice lastly in the narrative of St. Paul's imprisonment his
interviews with and his testimony before the members of the house of
Herod. St. Peter had experience of the father of Herod Agrippa, and
now St. Paul comes into contact with the children, Agrippa, Drusilla
and Bernice. And thus it came about. Felix the procurator, as we have
already explained, was a very bad man, and had enticed Drusilla from
her husband. He doubtless told her of the Jewish prisoner who lay a
captive in the city where she was living. The Herods were a clever
race, and they knew all about Jewish hopes and Messianic expectations,
and they ever seem to have been haunted by a certain curiosity
concerning the new sect of the Nazarenes. One Herod desired for a long
time to see Jesus Christ, and was delighted when Pilate gratified his
longing. Drusilla, doubtless, was equally curious, and easily
persuaded her husband to gratify her desire. We therefore read in ch.
xxiv. 24, "But after certain days, Felix came with Drusilla, his wife,
which was a Jewess, and sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the
faith in Christ Jesus."

Neither of them calculated on the kind of man they had to do with. St.
Paul knew all the circumstances of the case. He adapted his speech
thereto. He made a powerful appeal to the conscience of the guilty
pair. He reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and the judgment to
come, and beneath his weighty words Felix trembled. His convictions
were roused. He experienced a transient season of penitence, such as
touched another guilty member of the Herodian house who feared John
and did many things gladly to win his approval. But habits of sin had
grasped Felix too firmly. He temporised with his conscience. He put
off the day of salvation when it was dawning on him, and his words,
"Go thy way for this time, and when I have a convenient season I will
call thee unto me," became the typical language of all those souls for
whom procrastination, want of decision, trifling with spiritual
feelings, have been the omens and the causes of eternal ruin.

But Felix and Drusilla were not the only members of the Herodian
house with whom Paul came in contact. Felix and Drusilla left
Palestine when two years of St. Paul's imprisonment had elapsed.
Festus, another procurator, followed, and began his course, as all the
Roman rulers of Palestine began theirs. The Jews, when Felix visited
Jerusalem, besought him to deliver the prisoner lying bound at Cæsarea
to the judgment of their Sanhedrin. Festus, all powerful as a Roman
governor usually was, dared not treat a Roman citizen thus without his
own consent, and when that consent was asked Paul at once refused,
knowing right well the intentions of the Jews, and appealed unto
Cæsar. A Roman governor, however, would not send a prisoner to the
judgment of the Emperor without stating the crime imputed to him. Just
at that moment Herod Agrippa, king of Chalcis and of the district of
Ituræa, together with his sister Bernice, appeared on the scene. He
was a Jew, and was well acquainted therefore with the accusations
brought against the Apostle, and could inform the procurator what
report he should send to the Emperor. Festus therefore brought Paul
before them, and gave him another opportunity of expounding the faith
of Jesus Christ and the law of love and purity which that faith
involved to a family who ever treated that law with profound contempt.
St. Paul availed himself of that opportunity. He addressed his whole
discourse to the king, and that discourse was typical of those he
addressed to Jewish audiences. It was like the sermon delivered to the
Jews in the synagogue of Antioch in Pisidia in one important aspect.
Both discourses gathered round the resurrection of Jesus Christ as
their central idea. St. Paul began his address before Agrippa with
that doctrine, and he ended with the same. The hope of Israel,
towards which their continuous worship tended, was the resurrection
of the dead. That was St. Paul's opening idea. The same note lay
beneath the narrative of his own conversion, and then he returned back
to his original statement that the Risen Christ was the hope of Israel
and of the world taught by Moses and proclaimed by prophets. But it
was all in vain as regards Agrippa and Bernice. The Herods were
magnificent, clever, beautiful. But they were of the earth, earthy.
Agrippa said indeed to Paul, "With but little persuasion thou wouldest
fain make me a Christian." But it was not souls like his for whom the
gospel message was intended. The Herods knew nothing of the burden of
sin or the keen longing of souls desirous of holiness and of God. They
were satisfied with the present transient scene, and enjoyed it
thoroughly. Agrippa's father when he lay a-dying at Cæsarea consoled
himself with the reflection that though his career was prematurely cut
short, yet at any rate he had lived a splendid life. And such as the
parent had been, such were the children. King Agrippa and his sister
Bernice were true types of the stony-ground hearers, with whom "the
care of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word." And
they choked the word so effectually in his case, even when taught by
St. Paul, that the only result upon Agrippa, as St. Luke reports it,
was this: "Agrippa said unto Festus, This man might have been set at
liberty, if he had not appealed unto Cæsar."



     "And when it was determined that we should sail for Italy, they
     delivered Paul and certain other prisoners to a centurion named
     Julius, of the Augustan band. And embarking in a ship of
     Adramyttium, which was about to sail unto the places on the coast
     of Asia, we put to sea, Aristarchus, a Macedonian of
     Thessalonica, being with us. And the next day we touched at
     Sidon: and Julius treated Paul kindly, and gave him leave to go
     unto his friends and refresh himself."--ACTS xxvii. 1-3.

     "And when we entered into Rome, Paul was suffered to abide by
     himself with the soldier that guarded him."--ACTS xxviii. 16.

This chapter terminates our survey of the Acts of the Apostles, and
leads us at the same time to contemplate the Apostle of the Gentiles
in a new light as a traveller and as a prisoner, in both which aspects
he has much to teach us. When St. Paul was despatched to the
judgment-seat of Cæsar from the port of Cæsarea, he had arrived at the
middle of his long captivity. Broadly speaking he was five years a
prisoner from the day of his arrest at Jerusalem till his release by
the decision of Nero. He was a prisoner for more than two years when
Festus sent him to Rome, and then at Rome he spent two more years in
captivity, while his voyage occupied fully six months. Let us now
first of all look at that captivity, and strive to discover those
purposes of good therein which God hides amidst all his dispensations
and chastisements.

We do not always realise what a length of time was consumed in the
imprisonments of St. Paul. He must have spent from the middle of 58 to
the beginning of 63 as a prisoner cut off from many of those various
activities in which he had previously laboured so profitably for God's
cause. That must have seemed to himself and to many others a terrible
loss to the gospel; and yet now, as we look back from our
vantage-point, we can see many reasons why the guidance of his
heavenly Father may have led directly to this imprisonment, which
proved exceedingly useful for himself and his own soul's health, for
the past guidance and for the perpetual edification of the Church of
Christ. There is a text in Ephesians iv. 1 which throws some light on
this incident. In that Epistle, written when St. Paul was a captive at
Rome, he describes himself thus, "I therefore the prisoner _in_ the
Lord," or "the prisoner _of_ the Lord," as the Authorised Version puts
it. These words occur as the beginning of the Epistle for the
Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity. Now there is often a marvellous
amount of spiritual wisdom and instruction to be gained from a
comparison between the epistles and gospels and the collects for each
Sunday. All my readers may not agree in the whole theological system
which underlies the Prayer Book, but every one will acknowledge that
its services and their construction are the result of rich and varied
spiritual experiences extending over a period of more than a thousand
years. The mere contrast of an epistle and of a collect will often
suggest thoughts deep and searching. So it is with this text, "I
therefore the prisoner in the Lord." It is preceded by the brief pithy
prayer, "Lord, we pray Thee that Thy grace may always prevent and
follow us, and make us continually to be given to all good works,
through Jesus Christ our Lord." The words of St. Paul to the Ephesians
speaking of himself as the prisoner of God and in God suggested
immediately the idea of God's grace surrounding, shaping, constraining
to His service every external circumstance; and thus led to the
formation of the collect which in fact prays that we may realise
ourselves as so completely God's as, like the Apostle, continually to
be given to all good works. St. Paul realised himself as so prevented,
using that word in its ancient sense, preceded and followed by God's
grace, guarded before and behind by it, that he looked beyond the
things seen, and discarding all secondary agents and all lower
instruments, he viewed his imprisonment as God's own immediate work.

I. Let us then see in what way we may regard St. Paul's imprisonment
as an arrangement and outcome of Divine love. Take, for instance, St.
Paul in his own personal life. This period of imprisonment, of
enforced rest and retirement, may have been absolutely necessary for
him. St. Paul had spent many a long and busy year building up the
spiritual life of others, founding churches, teaching converts,
preaching, debating, struggling, suffering. His life had been one of
intense spiritual, intellectual, bodily activity on behalf of others.
But no one can be engaged in intense activity without wasting some of
the spiritual life and force necessary for himself. Religious work,
the most direct spiritual activity, visiting the sick, or preaching
the gospel, or celebrating the sacraments, make a tremendous call upon
our devotional powers and directly tend to lower our spiritual
vitality, unless we seek abundant and frequent renewal thereof at the
source of all spiritual vitality and life. Now God by this long
imprisonment took St. Paul aside once again, as He had taken him
aside twenty years before, amid the rocks of Sinai. God laid hold of
him in his career of external business, as He laid hold of Moses in
the court of Pharaoh, leading him into the wilderness of Midian for
forty long years. God made St. Paul His prisoner that, having laboured
for others, and having tended diligently their spiritual vineyard, he
might now watch over and tend his own for a time. And the wondrous
manner in which he profited by his imprisonment is manifest from this
very Epistle to the Ephesians, in which he describes himself as God's
prisoner--not, be it observed, the prisoner of the Jews, or of the
Romans, or of Cæsar, but as the prisoner of God--dealing in the
profoundest manner, as that Epistle does, with the greatest mysteries
of the Christian faith. St. Paul had an opportunity during those four
or five years, such as he never had before, of realising; digesting,
and assimilating in all their fulness the doctrines he had so long
proclaimed to others, and was thus enabled out of the depth of his own
personal experience to preach what he felt and knew to be true, the
only kind of teaching which will ever be worth anything.

Again, St. Paul designates himself the prisoner of the Lord because of
the benefits his imprisonment conferred upon the Church of Christ in
various ways. Take his imprisonment at Cæsarea alone. We are not
expressly told anything about his labours during that time. But
knowing St. Paul's intense energy we may be sure that the whole local
Christian community established in that important centre whence the
gospel could diffuse itself as far as the extremest west on the one
side and the extremest east on the other, was permeated by his
teaching and vitalised by his example. He was allowed great freedom,
as the Acts declares. Felix "gave orders to the centurion that he
should be kept in charge, and should have indulgence; and not to
forbid any of his friends to minister unto him." If we take the
various centurions to whom he was intrusted, we may be sure that St.
Paul must have omitted no opportunity of leading them to Christ. St.
Paul seems to have known how to make his way to the hearts of Roman
soldiers, as his subsequent treatment by Julius the centurion shows,
and that permission of the governor would be liberally interpreted
when deputies from distant churches sought his presence. Messengers
from the various missions he had founded must have had recourse to
Cæsarea during those two years spent there, and thence too was
doubtless despatched many a missive of advice and exhortation. At
Cæsarea, too, may then have been written the Gospel of St. Luke. Lewin
(vol. i., p. 221), indeed, places its composition at Philippi, where
St. Luke laboured for several years prior to St. Paul's visit in 57
A.D. after leaving Ephesus; and he gives as his reason for this
conclusion that St. Paul called St. Luke in 2 Cor. viii. 18, written
about that time, "the brother whose praise is in the Gospel,"
referring to his Gospel then lately published.[252] I think the
suggestion much more likely that St. Luke took advantage of this
pause in St. Paul's activity to write his Gospel at Cæsarea when he
had not merely the assistance of the Apostle himself, but of Philip
the deacon, and was within easy reach of St. James and the Jerusalem
Church. St. Luke's Gospel bears evident traces of St. Paul's ideas and
doctrine, was declared by Irenæus (_Hær._, iii. 1) to have been
composed under his direction,[253] and may with much probability be
regarded as one of the blessed results flowing forth from St. Paul's
detention as Christ's prisoner given by Him in charge to the Roman

  [252] This involves, however, the supposition that St. Luke's
  narrative had then obtained its more modern name of "the Gospel,"
  which is in my opinion an anachronism. In the earliest writings
  which refer to apostolic narratives they are simply called the
  writings or memoirs or commentaries of the apostles, as in
  Aristides, c. xvi., and Justin Martyr, _Apol._, i. 67. In
  Aristides there is one passage in ch. ii. where the word gospel is
  used, but not in the sense of a special title for a book: "This is
  taught from that Gospel which a little while ago was spoken among
  them as being preached; wherein if ye also will read, ye will
  comprehend the power that is upon it." Irenæus, III. xi. 7, 8, is
  the earliest I can now recall who uses the word gospel in this
  technical sense. He speaks there of the Gospel of St. Matthew,
  etc. But this was in the last quarter of the second century. In
  the year 57, when Second Corinthians was written, the word gospel
  was applied to the whole body of revealed truth held by the
  Church, and not to a book.

  [253] Iren., iii. 1: "Luke, also the companion of Paul, recorded
  in a book the gospel preached by him." With respect to the
  relation between St. Paul and St. Luke, see also Iren., iii.,
  xiv., xv.

The Apostle's Roman imprisonment again was most profitable to the
Church of the imperial capital. The Church of Rome had been founded by
the efforts of individuals. Private Christians did the work, not
apostles or eminent evangelists. St. Paul came to it first of all as a
prisoner, and found it a flourishing church. And yet he benefited and
blessed it greatly. He could not, indeed, preach to crowded audiences
in synagogues or porticoes as he had done elsewhere. But he blessed
the Church of Rome most chiefly by his individual efforts. This man
came to him into his own hired house, and that man followed him
attracted by the magnetic influence he seemed to bear about. The
soldiers appointed as his keepers were told the story of the Cross and
the glad tidings of the resurrection life, and these individual
efforts were fruitful in vast results, so that even into the household
and palace of the Cæsars did this patient, quiet, evangelistic work
extend its influence.[254] Nowhere else, in fact, not even in Corinth,
where St. Paul spent two whole years openly teaching without any
serious interruption; not even in Ephesus, where he laboured so long
that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word; nowhere else, was the
Apostle's ministry so effective as here in Rome, where the prisoner of
the Lord was confined to individual effort and completely laid aside
from more public and enlarged activity. It was with St. Paul as it is
with God's messengers still. It is not eloquent or excited public
efforts, or platform addresses, or public debates, or clever books
that are most fruitful in spiritual results. Nay, it is often the
quiet individual efforts of private Christians, the testimony of a
patient sufferer perhaps, the witness all-powerful with men, of a life
transformed through and through by Christian principle, and lived in
the perpetual sunshine of God's reconciled countenance. These are the
testimonies that speak most effectually for God, most directly to

  [254] The subject of Christianity and the household of Cæsarea
  would form an interesting subject of inquiry did only space
  permit. I have, however, the less hesitation in passing it over
  because it has been exhaustively discussed by Bishop Lightfoot in
  the following places, to which I must refer my readers:
  _Philippians_, Introduction pp. 1-28, and in dissertations on, pp.
  97-102 and 169-76. This is also the subject of an elaborate
  monograph by Professor Harnack in the _Princeton Review_ for July
  1878, entitled "Christians and Rome," with which should be
  compared Schürer's _Geschichte des Jüdischen Volkes_, ii. 506-512,
  and a treatise published by him _Die Gemeindeverfassung der Juden
  in Rom._, Leipzig 1879.

Lastly, St. Paul's imprisonment blessed the Church of every age, and
through it blessed mankind at large far more than his liberty and his
external activity could have done in one other direction. Is it not a
contradiction in terms to say that the imprisonment of this courageous
leader, this eloquent preacher, this keen, subtle debater should have
been more profitable to the Church than the exercise of his external
freedom and liberty, when all these dormant powers would have found
ample scope for their complete manifestation? And yet if Christ had
not laid His arresting hand upon the active, external labour in which
St. Paul had been absorbed, if Christ had not cast the busy Apostle
into the Roman prison-house, the Church of all future time would have
been deprived of those masterly expositions of Christian truth which
she now enjoys in the various Epistles of the Captivity, and specially
in those addressed to the churches of Ephesus, Philippi, and Colossæ.
We have now noted some of the blessings resulting from St. Paul's five
years' captivity, and indicated a line of thought which may be applied
to the whole narrative contained in the two chapters with which we are
dealing. St. Paul was a captive, and that captivity gave him access at
Cæsarea to various classes of society, to the soldiers, and to all
that immense crowd of officials connected with the seat of government,
quæstors, tribunes, assessors, apparitors, scribes, advocates. His
captivity then led him on board ship, and brought him into contact
with the sailors and with a number of passengers drawn from diverse
lands. A storm came on, and then the Apostle's self-possession, his
calm Christian courage, when every one else was panic-stricken, gave
him influence over the motley crowd. The waves flung the ship of
Alexandria in which he was travelling upon Malta, and his stay there
during the tempestuous winter months became the basis of the
conversion of its inhabitants. Everywhere in St. Paul's life and
course at this season we can trace the outcome of Divine love, the
power of Divine providence shaping God's servant for His own purposes,
restraining man's wrath when it waxed too fierce, and causing the
remainder of that wrath to praise Him by its blessed results.

II. Let us now gather up into a brief narrative the story contained in
these two chapters, so that we may gain a bird's eye view over the
whole. Festus entered upon his provincial rule about June A.D. 60.
According to Roman law the outgoing governor, of whatever kind he was,
had to await his successor's arrival and hand over the reins of
government--a very natural and proper rule which all civilised
governments observe. We have no idea how vast the apparatus of
provincial, or, as we should say, colonial government among the Romans
was, and how minute their regulations were, till we take up one of
those helps which German scholars have furnished towards the knowledge
of antiquity, as, for instance, Mommsen's _Roman Provinces_, which can
be read in English, or Marquardt's _Römische Staatsverwaltung_, vol.
i., which can be studied either in German or French.[255] The very
city where first the new governor was to appear and the method of
fulfilling his duties as the Judge of Assize were minutely laid down
and duly followed a well-established routine. We find these things
indicated in the case of Festus. He arrived at Cæsarea. He waited
three days till his predecessor had left for Rome, and then he
ascended to Jerusalem to make the acquaintance of that very
troublesome and very influential city. Felix then returned to Cæsarea
after ten days spent in gaining an intimate knowledge of the various
points of a city which often before had been the centre of rebellion,
and where he might at any moment be called upon to act with sternness
and decision. He at once heard St. Paul's cause as the Jews had
demanded, brought him a second time before Agrippa, and then in virtue
of his appeal to Cæsar despatched him to Rome in care of a centurion
and a small band of soldiers, a large guard not being necessary, as
the prisoners were not ordinary criminals, but for the most part men
of some position, Roman citizens, doubtless, who had, like the
Apostle, appealed unto the judgment of Cæsar.[256] St. Paul embarked,
accompanied by Luke and Aristarchus, as the ship, being an ordinary
trading vessel, contained not only prisoners, but also passengers as
well. We do not intend to enter upon the details of St. Paul's voyage,
because that lies beyond our range, and also because it has been
thoroughly done in the various _Lives_ of the Apostle, and above all
in the exhaustive work of Mr. James Smith of Jordanhills. He has
devoted a volume to this one topic, has explored every source of
knowledge, has entered into discussions touching the build and rigging
of ancient ships and the direction of Mediterranean winds, has
minutely investigated the scenery and history of such places as Malta
where the Apostle was wrecked, and has illustrated the whole with
beautiful plates and carefully drawn maps. That work has gone through
four editions at least, and deserves a place in every man's library
who wishes to understand the life and labours of St. Paul or study the
Acts of the Apostles. We may, however, without trenching on Mr.
Smith's field, indicate the outline of the route followed by the holy
travellers. They embarked at Cæsarea under the care of a centurion of
the Augustan cohort, or regiment, as we should say, whose name was
Julius.[257] They took their passage at first in a ship of
Adramyttium, which was probably sailing from Cæsarea to lie up for the
winter. Adramyttium was a seaport situated up in the north-west of
Asia Minor near Troas, and the Sea of Marmora, or, to put it in modern
language, near Constantinople. The ship was, in fact, about to travel
over exactly the same ground as St. Paul himself had traversed more
than two years before when he proceeded from Troas to Jerusalem.
Surely, some one may say, this was not the direct route to Rome! But
then we must throw ourselves back into the circumstances of the
period. There was then no regular transport service. People, even the
most exalted, had to avail themselves of whatever means of
communication chance offered. Cicero, when chief governor of Asia,
had, as we have already noted, to travel part of the way from Rome in
undecked vessels, while ten years later than St. Paul's voyage the
Emperor Vespasian himself, the greatest potentate in the world, had
no trireme or warship waiting upon him, but when he wished to proceed
from Palestine to Rome at the time of the great siege of Jerusalem was
obliged to take a passage in an ordinary merchant vessel or corn
ship.[258] It is no wonder, then, that the prisoners were put on board
a coasting vessel of Asia, the centurion knowing right well that in
sailing along by the various ports which studded the shore of that
province they would find some other vessel into which they could be
transferred. And this expectation was realised. The centurion and his
prisoners sailed first of all to Sidon, where St. Paul found a
Christian Church. This circumstance illustrates again the quiet and
steady growth of the gospel kingdom, and also gave Julius an
opportunity of exhibiting his kindly feelings towards the Apostle by
permitting him to go and visit the brethren. In fact, we would
conclude from this circumstance that St. Paul had already begun to
establish an influence over the mind of Julius which must have
culminated in his conversion. Here, at Sidon, he permits him to visit
his Christian friends; a short time after his regard for Paul leads
him to restrain his troops from executing the merciless purposes their
Roman discipline had taught them and slaying all the prisoners lest
they should escape; and yet once again when the prisoners land on
Italian soil and stand beside the charming scenery of the Bay of
Naples he permits the Apostle to spend a week with the Christians of
Puteoli. After this brief visit to the Sidonian Church, the vessel
bearing the Apostle pursues its way by Cyprus to the port of Myra at
the south-western corner of Asia Minor, a neighbourhood which St.
Paul knew right well and had often visited. It was there at Patara
close at hand that he had embarked on board the vessel which carried
him two years before to Palestine, and it was there too at Perga of
Pamphylia that he had first landed on the shores of the Asiatic
province seeking to gather its teeming millions into the fold of Jesus
Christ. Here at Myra the centurion realised his expectations, and
finding an Alexandrian transport sailing to Italy he put the prisoners
on board. From Myra they seem to have sailed at once, and from the day
they left it their misfortunes began. The wind was contrary, blowing
from the west, and to make any way they had to sail to the island
Cnidus, which lay north-west of Myra. After a time, when the wind
became favourable, they sailed south-west till they reached the island
of Crete, which lay half-way between Greece and Asia Minor. They then
proceeded along the southern coast of this island till they were
struck by a sudden wind coming from the north-east, which drove them
first to the neighbouring island of Clauda, and then, after a
fortnight's drifting through a tempestuous sea, hurled the ship upon
the shores of Malta. The wreck took place towards the close of October
or early in November, and the whole party were obliged to remain in
Malta till the spring season permitted the opening of navigation.
During his stay in Malta St. Paul performed several miracles. With his
intensely practical and helpful nature the Apostle flung himself into
the work of common life, as soon as the shipwrecked party had got safe
to land. He always did so. He never despised, like some religious
fanatics, the duties of this world. On board the ship he had been the
most useful adviser to the whole party. He had exhorted the captain of
the ship not to leave a good haven; he had stirred up the soldiers to
prevent the sailors' escape; he had urged them all alike, crew and
passengers and soldiers, to take food, foreseeing the terrible
struggle they would have to make when the ship broke up. He was the
most practical adviser his companions could possibly have had, and he
was their wisest and most religious adviser too. His words on board
ship teem with lessons for ourselves, as well as for his
fellow-passengers. He trusted in God, and received special revelations
from heaven, but he did not therefore neglect every necessary human
precaution. The will of God was revealed to him that he had been given
all the souls that sailed with him, and the angel of God cheered and
comforted him in that storm-driven vessel in Adria, as often before
when howling mobs thirsted like evening wolves for his blood. But the
knowledge of God's purposes did not cause his exertions to relax. He
knew that God's promises are conditional upon man's exertions, and
therefore he urged his companions to be fellow-workers with God in the
matter of their own salvation from impending death. And as it was on
board the ship, so was it on the shore. The rain was descending in
torrents, and the drenched passengers were shivering in the cold. St.
Paul shows the example, so contagious in a crowd, of a man who had his
wits about him, knew what to do, and would do it. He gathered
therefore a bundle of sticks, and helped to raise a larger fire in the
house which had received him. A man is marvellously helpful among a
cowering and panic-stricken crowd which has just escaped death who
will rouse them to some practical efforts for themselves, and will
lead the way as the Apostle did on this occasion. And his action
brought its own reward. He had gained influence over the passengers,
soldiers, and crew by his practical helpfulness. He was now to gain
influence over the barbarian islanders in exactly the same way. A
viper issued from the fire and fastened on his hand. The natives
expected to see him fall down dead; but after looking awhile and
perceiving no change, they concluded him to be a god who had come to
visit them. This report soon spread. The chief man therefore of the
island sought out St. Paul and entertained him. His father was sick of
dysentery and the Apostle healed him, using prayer and the imposition
of hands as the outward symbols and means of the cure, which spread
his fame still farther and led to other miraculous cures. Three months
thus passed away. No distinct missionary work is indeed recorded by
St. Luke, but this is his usual custom in writing his narrative. He
supposes that Theophilus, his friend and correspondent, will
understand that the Apostle ever kept the great end of his life in
view, never omitting to teach Christ and Him crucified to the
perishing multitudes where his lot was cast. But St. Luke was not one
of those who are always attempting to chronicle spiritual successes or
to tabulate the number of souls led to Christ. He left that to another
day and to a better and more infallible judge. In three months' time,
when February's days grew longer and milder winds began to blow, the
rescued travellers joined a corn ship of Alexandria which had wintered
in the island, and all set forward towards Rome. They touched at
Syracuse in Sicily, sailed thence to Rhegium, passing through the
Straits of Messina, whence, a favourable south wind springing up, and
the vessel running before it at the rate of seven knots an hour, the
usual speed for ancient vessels under such circumstances, they arrived
at Puteoli, one hundred and eighty-two miles distant from Rhegium, in
the course of some thirty hours. At Puteoli the sea voyage ended. It
may at first seem strange to us with our modern notions that St. Paul
was allowed to tarry at Puteoli with the local Christian Church for
seven days. But then we must remember that St. Paul and the centurion
did not live in the days of telegraphs and railway trains. There was
doubtless a guard-room, barrack or prison in which the prisoners could
be accommodated. The centurion and guard were weary after a long and
dangerous journey, and they would be glad of a brief period of repose
before they set out again towards the capital. This hypothesis alone
would be quite sufficient to account for the indulgence granted to St.
Paul, even supposing that his Christian teaching had made no
impression on the centurion. The Church existing then at Puteoli is
another instance of that quiet diffusion of the gospel which was going
on all over the world without any noise or boasting. We have
frequently called attention to this, as at Tyre, Ptolemais, Sidon, and
here again we find a little company of saintly men and women gathered
out of the world and living the ideal life of purity and faith beside
the waters of the Bay of Naples. And yet it is quite natural that we
should find them at Puteoli, because it was one of the great ports
which received the corn ships of Alexandria and the merchantmen of
Cæsarea and Antioch into her harbour, and in these ships many a
Christian came bringing the seed of eternal life which he diligently
sowed as he travelled along the journey of life. In fact, seeing that
the Church of Rome had sprung up and flourished so abundantly, taking
its origin not from any apostle's teaching, but simply from such
sporadic effects, we cannot wonder that Puteoli, which lay right on
the road from the East to Rome, should also have gained a
blessing.[259] A circumstance, however, has come to light within the
last thirty years which does surprise us concerning this same
neighbourhood, showing how extensively the gospel had permeated and
honeycombed the country parts of Italy within the lifetime of the
first apostles and disciples of Jesus Christ. Puteoli was a trading
town, and Jews congregated in such places, and trade lends an element
of seriousness to life which prepares a ground fitted for the good
seed of the kingdom. But pleasure pure and unmitigated and a life
devoted to its pursuit does not prepare such a soil. Puteoli was a
trading city, but Pompeii was a pleasure-loving city thinking of
nothing else, and where sin and iniquity consequently abounded. Yet
Christianity had made its way into Pompeii in the lifetime of the
apostles. How then do we know this? This is one of the results of
modern archæological investigations and of epigraphical research, two
great sources of new light upon early Christian history which have
been only of late years duly appreciated. Pompeii, as every person of
moderate education knows, was totally overthrown by the first great
eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the year 79 A.D. It is a curious
circumstance that contemporaneous authors make but the very slightest
and most dubious references to that destruction, though one would
have thought that the literature of the time would have rung with it;
proving conclusively, if proof be needed, how little the argument from
silence is worth, when the great writers who tell minutely about the
intrigues and vices of emperors and statesmen of Rome do not bestow a
single chapter upon the catastrophe which overtook two whole cities of
Italy.[260] These cities remained for seventeen hundred years
concealed from human sight or knowledge till revealed in the year 1755
by excavations systematically pursued. All the inscriptions found
therein were undoubtedly and necessarily the work of persons who lived
before A.D. 79 and then perished. Now at the time that Pompeii was
destroyed there was a municipal election going on, and there were
found on the walls numerous inscriptions formed with charcoal which
were the substitutes then used for the literature and placards with
which every election decorates our walls. Among these inscriptions of
mere passing and transitory interest, there was one found which
illustrates the point at which we have been labouring, for there, amid
the election notices of 79 A.D., there appeared scribbled by some idle
hand the brief words, "Igni gaude, Christiane" ("O Christian, rejoice
in the fire"), proving clearly that Christians existed in Pompeii at
that time, that they were known as Christians and not under any other
appellation, that persecution and death had reached them, and that
they possessed and displayed the same undaunted spirit as their great
leader and teacher St. Paul, being enabled like him to rejoice even
amid the sevenfold-heated fires, and in view of the resurrection life
to lift the victorious pæan, "Thanks be to God, which giveth us the
victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."[261]

  [255] The governors brought with them regular bodies of assessors,
  who assisted them like a privy council. There is a reference to
  this council in Acts xxv. 12 and xxvi. 30. These councils served
  as training schools in law and statesmanship for the young Roman
  nobility. See Marquardt, _l.c._, p. 391.

  [256] Roman citizens had the right of appeal no matter where they
  were born or of what race they came or how humble their lot in
  life. Mere provincials devoid of citizenship, no matter how
  distinguished their position, had not that right.

  [257] Julius is one of those unknown characters of Scripture about
  whom we would desire more information. He is described as a
  centurion of the Augustan band, which was the imperial guard, and
  was always stationed at Rome. Julius may possibly have been an
  officer of this guard sent out with Festus and now returning back
  to his duties.

  [258] See Josephus, _Wars_, VII. ii. 1. It was exactly the same
  with Titus, Vespasian's son, after the war ended. He travelled
  from Alexandria to Italy in a trading vessel. Suet., _Tit._, c. 5.

  [259] The accuracy of the Acts in representing Puteoli as the seat
  of an early church has been amply illustrated by modern
  investigations. Judaism was flourishing there from the earliest
  times. In the year 4 B.C. a colony of wealthy Jews was established
  at Puteoli (Josephus, _Wars_, II. vii. 1). An inscription has been
  found there commemorating a Jewish merchant of Ascalon named Herod
  (Schürer's _Jüdisch. Volk._, I. 234).

  [260] This point is elaborated by Mr. Cazenove in an article on
  the Theban Legion contained in the _Dictionary of Christian
  Biography_, iii. 642.

  [261] This interesting inscription will be found in Mommsen,
  _Corpus of Latin Inscriptions_, vol. iv., No. 679. I described it
  in the _Contemporary Review_ for January 1881, p. 97, in an
  article on Latin Christian Inscriptions. This inscription fully
  bears out Lord Lytton in the picture he gives of the introduction
  of Christianity into the neighbourhood of Vesuvius and Naples in
  his _Last Days of Pompeii_.

After the week's rest at Puteoli the centurion marched towards Rome.
The Roman congregation had received notice of St. Paul's arrival by
this time, and so the brethren despatched a deputation to meet an
apostle with whom they were already well acquainted through the
epistle he had sent them, as well as through the reports of various
private Christians like Phœbe, the deaconness of Cenchreæ.[262] Two
deputations from the Roman Church met him, one at Appii Forum, about
thirty miles, another at the Three Taverns, about twenty miles, from
the city. How wonderfully the heart of the Apostle must have been
cheered by these kindly Christian attentions! We have before noticed
in the cases of his Athenian sojourn and elsewhere how keenly alive he
was to the offices of Christian friendship, how cheered and
strengthened he was by Christian companionship. It was now the same
once again as it was then. Support and sympathy were now more needed
than ever before, for St. Paul was going up to Rome not knowing what
should happen to him there or what should be his sentence at the hands
of that emperor whose cruel character was now famous. And as it was
at Athens and at Corinth and elsewhere, so was it here on the Appian
Way and amid the depressing surroundings and unhealthy atmosphere of
those Pomptine Marshes through which he was passing; "when Paul saw
the brethren, he thanked God, and took courage." And now the whole
company of primitive Christians proceeded together to Rome, allowed
doubtless by the courtesy and thoughtfulness of Julius ample
opportunities of private conversation. Having arrived at the imperial
city, the centurion hastened to present himself and his charge to the
captain of the prætorian guard, whose duty it was to receive prisoners
consigned to the judgment of the Emperor. Upon the favourable report
of Julius, St. Paul was not detained in custody, but suffered to dwell
in his own hired lodgings, where he established a mission station
whence he laboured most effectively both amongst Jews and Gentiles
during two whole years. St. Paul began his work at Rome exactly as he
did everywhere else. He called together the chief of the Jews, and
through them strove to gain a lodgment in the synagogue. He began work
at once. After three days, as soon as he had recovered from the
fatigue of the rapid march along the Appian Way, he sent for the
chiefs of the Roman Synagogues which were very numerous.[263] How, it
may be thought, could an unknown Jew entering Rome venture to summon
the heads of the Jewish community, many of them men of wealth and
position? But, then, we must remember that St. Paul was no ordinary
Jew from the point of view taken by Roman society. He had arrived in
Rome a state prisoner, and he was a Roman citizen of Jewish birth, and
this at once gave him position entitling him to a certain amount of
consideration. St. Paul told his story to these chief men of the Jews,
the local Sanhedrin perhaps, recounted the bad treatment he had
received at the hands of the Jews of Jerusalem, and indicated the
character of his teaching which he wished to expound to them. "For
this cause therefore did I entreat you to see and speak with me: for
because of the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain," emphasizing
the Hope of Israel, or their Messianic expectation, as the cause of
his imprisonment, exactly as he had done some months before when
pleading before King Agrippa (ch. xxvi. 6, 7, 22, 23). Having thus
briefly indicated his desires, the Jewish council intimated that no
communication had been made to them from Jerusalem about St. Paul. It
may have been that his lengthened imprisonment at Cæsarea had caused
the Sanhedrin to relax their vigilance, though we see that their
hostility still continued as bitter as ever when Festus arrived in
Jerusalem and afterwards led to St. Paul's appeal; or perhaps they had
not had time to forward a communication from the Jerusalem Sanhedrin
to the Jewish authorities at Rome; or perhaps, which is the most
likely of all, they thought it useless to prosecute their suit before
Nero, who would scoff at the real charges which dealt merely with
questions of Jewish customs, and which imperial lawyers therefore
would regard as utterly unworthy the imprisonment or death of a Roman
citizen. At any rate the Jewish council gave him a hearing, when St.
Paul followed exactly the same lines as in the synagogue at Antioch of
Pisidia and in his speech before Agrippa. He pointed out the gradual
development of God's purposes in the law and the prophets, showing how
they had been all fulfilled in Jesus Christ. It was with the Jews at
Rome as with the Jews elsewhere. Some believed and some believed not
as Paul preached unto them. The meeting was much more one for
discussion than for addresses. From morning till evening the
disputation continued, till at last the Apostle dismissed them with
the stern words of the Prophet Isaiah, taken from the sixth chapter of
his prophecy, where he depicts the hopeless state of those who
obstinately close their ears to the voice of conviction. But the Jews
of Rome do not seem to have been like those of Thessalonica, Ephesus,
Corinth, and Jerusalem in one respect. They did not actively oppose
St. Paul or attempt to silence him by violent means, for the last
glimpse we get of the Apostle in St. Luke's narrative is this: "He
abode two whole years in his own hired dwelling, and received all that
went in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching the
things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness, none
forbidding him."[264]

  [262] Romans xvi. is a sufficient witness of the intimate
  knowledge of the Roman Church and its membership possessed by St.
  Paul. We may be sure that many mentioned in that catalogue written
  three or four years before found a place in the two deputations
  who went to meet St. Paul.

  [263] See for proof of this Harnack's article in the _Princeton
  Review_, quoted above.

  [264] The various biographies of the Apostle, and specially that
  of Conybeare & Howson, follow the Apostle's history in great
  detail during these two years; but the story of that period more
  properly falls under the consideration of the writers upon the
  Epistles of the Captivity than of one dealing with the Acts of the
  Apostles. If I were to discuss St. Paul's life at Rome I should
  have simply to borrow all my details from these Epistles. The
  abruptness of St. Luke's termination of his narrative is very
  noteworthy, and the best proof of the early date of the Acts. I do
  not think I need add anything to Dr. Salmon's argument on this
  point contained in the following words, which I take from chap.
  xviii. of his _Introduction_: "To my mind the simplest explanation
  why St. Luke has told us no more is, that he knew no more; and
  that he knew no more, because at the time nothing more had
  happened--in other words, that the book of the Acts was written a
  little more than two years after Paul's arrival in Rome."


  Abbott, Dr., _Biblical Essays_, 12, 43.

  Abgar, King, 53.

  Achaia, Province of, 326.

  Achilles Tatius, 367.

  Acoimetæ, or Watching Monks, 176.

  _Acta Sanctorum_, 56, 141, 200, 213, 247.

  Æneas, 97.

  Agabus, the prophet, 162, 426, 434.

  Agape, 399, 400.

  Agrippa II., 432, 448.

  Alabarch, 81, 153.

  Alexander, the Coppersmith, 378.

  Amen, Eucharistic, 396.

  Ammianus Marcellinus, 152.

  Ananias, of Damascus, 53, 54, 55, 57, 58, 59, 68.

  Ananias, the high priest, 431, 440-443.

  Ancyra, 339, 367.

  Annas, 30.

  Antinomianism, 62.

  Antioch, (Syrian) church of, 146, 154.

  ---- city of, 150-13.

  ---- synagogue of, 155.

  ---- people of, and nicknames, 159.

  ---- of Pisidia, 198.

  Apollos, 341-43, 347.

  Apostle, meaning of, 83, 84, 193.

  Apostolic Constitt., 344.

  Aquila and Priscilla, 322, 323, 332, 333, 337, 341, 347.

  Aquileia, church of, 247.

  Aratus, 11, 315.

  Areopagus, court of, 309-17.

  Aretas, 30, 81.

  Aristides, 35, 214, 318-20.

  Artemas, bishop of Lystra, 213.

  Artemis (see Diana), 360, 362, 376.

  Artemisius, month of, 362.

  Asiarchs, 375-78.

  Assize Courts, 382.

  Athanasius, St., 301.

  Athenagoras, _Apol._, 282.

  ---- church of, 321.

  Athens, topography of, 312.

  Attalia, 201, 276.

  Augustine, St., _Confessions_ of, 29, 286.

  ---- _Epp._, 398, 401.

  Aurelius, Victor, 163.

  Baptismal formula, 345.

  Barclay, Robert, 122.

  Barnabas, St., 7, 8, 81, 155, 258.

  Baronius, _Annals_ of, 259.

  Bartolocci, _Bibl. Rabbin._, 13.

  Basnage, _History of the Jews_, 13, 19.

  Baur, 1.

  Bayet, _De Titulis Atticæ Christ._, 308, 321.

  Bent, J. T., 374.

  Bernard, St., _Life of St. Malachy_, 417.

  Bernice, 432, 448.

  Berœa, 296, 302.

  Bingham's _Antiqq._, 176, 396.

  Bishops, origin of, 416-18.

  Blomfield, Bishop, 229.

  Boeckh, _Gr. Ins., Corp._ 205, 278, 300, 363, 366.

  Butler, Bishop, _Analogy_ of, 133, 413.

  Butler's _Coptic Churches_, 256.

  Buxtorf's _Lexicon_, 16.

  Cæsar, Augustus, 273.

  ---- Claudius, 323.

  ---- Julius, 31.

  ---- Tiberius, 36, 166, 185.

  Cæsarea-on-the-Sea, 101, 147.

  Caiaphas, 30.

  Caligula, 82, 94, 166, 167.

  Calvin's _Commentary N.T._, 128, 383.

  Capes, W. W., _The Early Empire_, 109.

  Cave's _Lives of the Apostles_, 256, 259, 263.

  Celebrations, evening, 398-401.

  Celtic language, 264.

  Cenchreæ, 332.

  Cesnola, General, 205.

  Charlemagne, 11.

  Chosroes, King, 159.

  Christian Library, 394.

  Christian, title of, 159-62, 211.

  Chrysostom, Dion, 276, 377.

  Chrysostom, St., 46, 84, 251, 352.

  ---- _Homilies_, 55.

  Cicero, 275, 304, 327.

  Circumcision, controversy about, 222, 228.

  Cistercians, 227.

  Cleanthes, 315.

  Clement of Alexandria, _Pædagogue_, 180.

  ---- _Stromata_, 356, 446.

  Clement, _Recognitions_ of, 259, 344.

  ---- _Homilies_, 344.

  Clermont Ganneau, 428.

  Communion Office, rubrics of, 335, 336.

  ---- evening, 398-401.

  "Communicatio Idiomatum," 419.

  Constantine, Emperor, 238, 273.

  _Contemporary Review_, 468.

  Conybeare and Howson, _St. Paul_, 46, 57.

  Corinth, First Epistle to, date of, 359, 387.

  Cornelius à Lapide, 46.

  Cornelius, the Centurion, chaps. v., vi.

  ---- baptism of, 140.

  Council of Jerusalem, chap. x.

  Councils, histories of, 219.

  Cramer's _Catena_, 46.

  Crispus, 325, 326.

  Cudworth's _Intellect. Syst._, 315.

  Cyprus, gospel in, 196, 201-206, 258.

  Cyril of Jerusalem, 396.

  Damascus, 30, 36.

  Daphne, 157, 158.

  De Broglie, _L'Église et l'Empire_, 273.

  Demetrius, 350, 369, 372-75.

  Derbe, 200, 216, 260.

  Derenbourg and Saglio, _Dict. des Antiqq._, 361.

  Diana (see Artemis), 331, 360.

  Didache, 34, 345.

  Dion Cassius, 163, 204.

  Dion Chrysostom, 276, 377.

  Dionysius, Areop., 317, 318, 320.

  Discipline, 107.

  Dods, Dr. M., _Introd. N.T._, 360.

  Döllinger, Dr., 145.

  Dorcas, 97.

  Drusilla, 431, 447.

  Duhr's _Journeys of Hadrian_, 306.

  Duumviri, 275.

  Ebionites, 6.

  Eckhel, _on Coins_, 163.

  Edersheim, Dr., 14.

  Egnatian Road, 271.

  Elymas, 203.

  Ember seasons, 194.

  Enthusiasm, power of, 269.

  Epaphras, 350.

  Ephesian letters, 355.

  Ephesus, council of, 258.

  Epimenides, 11.

  Epiphanes, Antiochus, 6.

  Epiphanius, in _Corpus Hæreseolog._, 6.

  Ethnarch, 153.

  Eucharist, celebration of, 393-401.

  Eusebius, _H. E._, 171, 181, 199, 241, 320.

  Eutychus, 403.

  _Expositor_, viii.

  Fabricius, _Biblioth. Græc._, 315, 367.

  Farrar's _St. Paul_, 15, 16, 19, 20, 50, 51, 152.

  Fayûm MSS., 356.

  Fechin, St., 89, 278.

  Felix, 430-432.

  Fell, Bishop, on Cyprian, 401.

  Ferrar, Nicholas, 176.

  Festus, 448.

  Findlay, _Epp. of St. Paul_, 60, 295.

  ---- on Galatians, 234.

  Fitz Ralph, Archbishop of Armagh, 227.

  Fleury's _Eccles. Hist._, 246.

  Forms, use of, 121.

  Fox, George, 122.

  Francis de Sales, St., 279.

  Friends, Society of, 122, 142.

  Gaius, 326.

  Galerius, Emperor, 273.

  Gallio, 327-29.

  Gamaliel, 13, 14, 15.

  Geikie, _Holy Land_, 38, 101, 119.

  German criticism, 386.

  Gibbon, _Decline and Fall_, 150, 158, 273.

  Gischala, 4, 6.

  Gnosticism, 420.

  Godefroy's _Comment. on Theodos. Code_, 273.

  Gospel, slow progress of, 269.

  Goulburn's _Personal Religion_, 121.

  Guhl's _Ephesiaca_, 356, 362, 367.

  Guyon, Madame, 446.

  Habakkuk, 20.

  Hadrian, Emperor, 306.

  Harris, Rendal, on Aristides, 321.

  Hatch, Dr., on Episcopacy, 416.

  Hefele's _Councils_, 379.

  Hegesippus, 241.

  Helena, Queen, 186.

  Heliogabalus, 36.

  Hemerobaptists, 344.

  Hermas, 434.

  Herod the Great, 102, 151, 166.

  ---- Antipas, 30, 166.

  ---- Agrippa, 95, 164, 168, 183-187.

  Heuzey, Leon, _Mission Archéol._, 274, 281.

  Hilary, 84.

  Hiram of Tyre, 183.

  Hogarth, D. G., 261.

  Holy Ghost and Ordination, 414.

  Hooker, _Eccles. Pol._, 29, 74, 238, 396, 419.

  Horace's _Satires_, 276.

  Hours, canonical, 122.

  Hypæpa, 198.

  Hyrcanus, 31.

  Iconium, 199, 260.

  Imposition of hands, 414.

  Incarnation, delay of, 99.

  Inscriptions on Temple wall, 428.

  Irenæus, 416-418.

  Irenarch, 216.

  Irish Academy, Royal, 89.

  Island monasteries, 89.

  Italian band, 103.

  Jailor, Phillippian, 286-90.

  James, apostle and martyr, 168-74.

  James, Bishop of Jerusalem, 241, 426, 427.

  Jebb, Bishop, 99.

  Jerome, St., 84, 141, 251.

  ---- _Cat. of Illust. Writers_, 4, 6.

  Jews, hostility of, to early Church, 212.

  ---- at Athens, 308.

  ---- at Ephesus, 427.

  Johannes Scotus, 318.

  John's Eve, St., 335.

  John Baptist, disciples of, 342-44.

  Jonah, 119.

  Jonathan, 30.

  Joppa, 118.

  Josephus, _Antiqq._, 11, 31, 32, 33.

  _Journal of Hellenic Studies_, 261, 265, 364, 372, 374,
      53, 95, 102, 185, 428.

  ---- _Wars_, 95, 102, 428.

  Joyce's _Acts of the Church_, 237.

  ---- _Irish Names_, 88.

  Judas, 56.

  Julius, the centurion 460.

  Justin Martyr, _Apologies_, 27, 267, 282, 395, 396.

  Justus, 325.

  Juvenal's _Satires_, 152.

  Keble, John, 70.

  King, Rev. Robert, _The Ruling Elder_, 417.

  Kitto's _Bib. Encycl._, 16.

  Knox, Alexander, 100.

  Kühn's _Journal Comp. Philol._, 265.

  Lacroix, _Manners of Middle Ages_, 16.

  Laymen in synods, 236.

  Le Bas and Waddington, _Voy. Archéol._, 216.

  Legions in Palestine, 103.

  Lewin, _Fasti_, 31, 60, 163, 167, 360.

  ---- _St. Paul_, 31, 32, 39, 45, 80, 102, 119, 186, 198.

  Libanius, 151, 152.

  Liddon's, _Bampt. Lect._, 420.

  Lightfoot, Bishop, on the Essenes, 344.

  ---- _Colossians_, 252, 350.

  ---- _Essays_, 96, 300.

  ---- _Galatians_, 19, 20, 50, 79, 84, 247, 251, 264, 266.

  ---- _Ignatius_, 363, 378, 427.

  ---- _Philippians_, 173, 291-93, 417.

  Lightfoot, Dr. J., _Hor. Heb._, 32, 57, 441.

  Lipsius, R. A., 5.

  ---- _Apoc. Acts_, 53.

  Lord's Day, observance of, 393-397.

  Lucian's _Philopatris._, 312.

  Luke, St., at Philippi, 391.

  Lycaonia, language of, 212, 265.

  Lydia, 278.

  Lysias, Claudius, 429.

  Lystra, 200, 212-17, 260.

  Lyttelton, Lord, on _Conver. St. Paul_, 40.

  Lytton, Lord, _Last Days of Pompeii_.

  _Macmillan's Mag._, 377.

  Magic at Ephesus, 352.

  Malalas, John, 157.

  Malta, 462.

  Mandeans, 344.

  Mansi's _Councils_, 220, 259, 379.

  Maps, use of, 100.

  Marcellinus, Pope, 144.

  Mark, St., 252-54, 256.

  Marquardt, 104, 458.

  Marseilles, 374, 390.

  Mason's _Diocletian Persecution_, 367.

  Massutius, _Vita S. Pauli_, 11, 55, 60.

  Melville, Henry, _Voices of the Year_, 114.

  Menander, 11.

  Mendicant orders, 227.

  Meyer's Theory of Baptism, 342.

  Miletus, 405.

  Milligan, Dr., on _Resurrection_, 134.

  Misopogon, 159.

  Mithras, 35.

  Mnason, 426.

  Molinos, 446.

  Mommsen's _Provinces_, 96, 103, 150, 378.

  ---- _Corp. Ins. Lat._, 281, 468.

  ---- in _Ephem. Epig._, 140.

  Monasticism, Celtic, 88.

  Morinus, _Exerc. Bibl._, 13.

  Müller's _Antiqq. of Antioch._, 150.

  _Museum Evang. Sch. of Smyrna_, 264.

  Nazarite vow, 333, 436.

  Neapolis, 272.

  Nelson's _Fasts and Festivals_, 256.

  Neocoros, 379, 380.

  Nero, Emperor, 433, 470.

  Nestorianism, 258.

  Œcumenius, 84.

  Oehler, 6.

  Ordination and imposition of hands, 194, 414.

  Ornaments rubric, 239.

  Orontes, 151, 196.

  Paley's _Horæ Paulinæ_, 291, 360.

  Pangæus, Mount, 276.

  Papal Infallibility, 230.

  ---- Supremacy, rise of, 144.

  Paphos, 197, 201.

  Paul, St., in Antioch (Pisidian), 206-10.

  ---- in Antioch (Syrian), 157.

  ---- in Arabia, 77-91.

  ---- in Athens, 305-21.

  ---- baptism of, 72-77.

  ---- birthplace of, 4.

  ---- at Cæsarea, chap. xvii.

  ---- and Church organisation, 216.

  ---- and circumcision, 225-28, 392, 435.

  ---- conversion of, chap. ii.

  ---- at Corinth, chap. xiii.

  ---- dispute at Antioch, 247.

  ---- at Ephesus, chaps. xiv., xv.

  ---- exegesis of, 18, 19, 207.

  ---- family of, 7.

  ---- in Galatia, 263.

  ---- language of, 9.

  ---- in Macedonia, chap. xii.

  ---- at Malta, chap. xviii.

  ---- martyrdom of, 246.

  ---- at Miletus, 405-21.

  ---- on ordination, 414, 415.

  ---- ordination of, chap. ix.

  ---- at Patara, 424.

  ---- portrait of, 51.

  ---- at Puteoli, 465.

  ---- quarrel with Barnabas, 248-251.

  ---- and Roman. See, 246.

  ---- and Sanhedrin, 23, 429, 442.

  ---- second tour of, chap. xi.

  ---- at Sidon, 461.

  ---- speech at Apostolic Council, 241.

  ---- thorn in flesh, 49, 296.

  ---- trade of, 10, 348.

  ---- at Troas, 268, 392-406.

  ---- at Tyre, 425.

  ---- voyage to Rome, chap. xviii.

  Paulinus of Nola, St., 369.

  Pausanius, _Descr. of Greece_, 305, 308, 312, 363, 365.

  Perga, 197, 201, 364.

  Persecution, religious, 192.

  Peter, St., on baptism, 140.

  ---- on the resurrection, 133.

  ---- sermon at Cæsarea, 131-41.

  ---- vision at Joppa, chap. vi.

  ---- in prison, 174-82.

  Petrie's _Tara_, 37.

  Petronius, 95.

  Pfitzner, 104.

  Phalerum, 303.

  Pharisees, 33.

  Philemon and Baucis, story of, 213.

  Philip, St., evangelist, 143, 426.

  Philippi, gospel at, 273-89.

  Philo, 14, 19, 23, 96, 307.

  Philostratus, _Life of Apollonius_, 312.

  Phœbe, 332.

  Photius, 263.

  Pliny, _Epistles of_, 28, 35, 266, 383.

  ---- _Nat. Hist._, 199.

  Police, Roman, 216.

  Politarchs, 300.

  Polycarp, 367, 446.

  Pompeii, 466.

  Pontius Pilate, 30.

  Pork, use of, 128.

  Porter's _Damascus_, 38, 53.

  Postal service under the Romans, 272.

  Prayer, 66.

  Preaching, decline of, 409.

  Prion, Mount, 263.

  Procter on _B. C. P._, 336.

  Prophets, 434.

  Prosbol, 16.

  Proselytes, 110, 210.

  Provinces, Roman, division of, 203-206.

  Ptolemais, 96, 425.

  Puteoli, 465.

  Quadratus, 318.

  Quaresmius, _Eluc. Ter. Sanct._, 57.

  Quietism, 446.

  Radzivilus, _Peregrinatio_, 57.

  Ramsay, Prof., _Hist. Geog._, 100, 198, 200, 213, 260,
        261, 363, 364.

  ---- on Artemis worship, 374.

  Rénan, 215, 369.

  Renaudot, 256.

  Resurrection, evidence of, 133.

  _Revue Archéol._, 198, 361, 364, 374.

  Roads, ancient, 37, 260, 271.

  Robbers and the Apostles, 199.

  Ruinart's _Acta Sincera_, 267.

  Sabbath, 16, 397.

  Sabians, 344.

  Sadducees, 33.

  Sadler _on the Acts_, 289.

  Saint, meaning of, 60, 62, 63, 64.

  Salamis, 197.

  Salmon, Dr., _Introduction to N. T._, vi. 1, 413.

  ---- on Clementine literature, 259.

  Sceva's sons, 355.

  Schaff's _Encyclop._, 13, 110, 247.

  Schœttgen's _Hor. Hebr._, 9.

  Schürer, 25, 431.

  Seleucia, 157, 196.

  Senior, title of, 417.

  Serarius, _De Rabbinis_, 13.

  Sergius Paulus, 201-206.

  Shrine-makers, Ephesian, 369.

  Sidon, church at, 461.

  Silas, 257, 325.

  Silence, argument from, 342, 361, 393.

  Simon the Tanner, 119.

  Singon Street, 157.

  Sinuessa, Council of, 144.

  Skelligs, 88.

  Slavery, 314.

  Smith, Mr. James, of Jordanhills, on _Voyage of St. Paul_, 459.

  Smith, _Dict. Christ. Biog._, 6, 14, 259, 273, 344, 353, 367, 434.

  ---- _Dict. Rom. Antiqq._, 104.

  ---- _Dict. Christ. Antiqq._, 176.

  ---- _Dict. of Class. Biog._, 213.

  Sosipatros, 199.

  Spon and Wheeler, 312.

  Stanley, Dean, 57.

  ---- _Hist. East. Ch._, 301.

  Stephanas, 326.

  Stephens' _St. Chrysost._, 352.

  Sterrett's _Epig. Journ._, 200, 213.

  Stokes, G. T., _Anglo-Norman Church_, 16, 227.

  ---- _Celtic Church_, 37, 89.

  Strabo, 199, 204.

  Straight Street, 52.

  Suetonius, 163, 273, 323, 327.

  Survey of Palestine, _Memoirs_ of, 101.

  Synagogue, 277.

  Tacitus, _Annals_, 352, 363.

  Talmud, 13, 16.

  Tanning, 120.

  Taylor, Jeremy, _Holy Living_, 29, 334.

  ---- _Via Intellig._, 267.

  Tertullian, _Apol._, 36.

  ---- _De Corona_, 400.

  ---- _De Fuga_, 445.

  ---- _De Pudic._, 50.

  ---- _on Prayer_, 122-24, 195.

  Texier on Galatia, 266.

  Thayer's edition of Grimm's _Lex. N. T._, 252.

  Theodore of Mopsuestia, 84.

  Theodoret, 84.

  Theodosian Code, 370.

  Theophilus, 30, 32.

  Thessalonica, 294-300.

  Timothy, 325, 347.

  ---- and circumcision, 227.

  ---- family of, 8, 9.

  ---- martyrdom of, 263.

  ---- ordination of, 261.

  Tozer's _Highlands of Turkey_, 294, 300, 303.

  Trajan, 28.

  Trench, Archbishop, _on Words_, 159.

  Tridentine Council, 238.

  Tyrannus, 347.

  Ussher's Works, 318, 362.

  Valens, Emperor, 352.

  Valesius, 439.

  "Vas Electionis," 64, 65.

  Vatican Council, 238.

  Vespasian, Emperor, 460.

  Vibius Salutarius, Gaius, 370, 371.

  Vincentian rule, 100.

  Virgil, 70.

  Vitellius, 30, 33.

  Waldstein, C., 372.

  Way, meaning of, 32, 33, 34, 347, 362, 423.

  Wesley, Charles, 381.

  ---- John, 394.

  Whately, Archbishop, 73.

  Wickliffe, 227.

  Wieseler's _Die Christenverfolg. der Cäsaren_, 336.

  Williams, Dr., 64.

  Wood's _Ephesus_, 281, 362.

  Xenoi Tekmoreioi, Societies of, 364.

  Zeller, _On the Acts_, vi.


       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note:

Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

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Variations in spelling, punctuation and hyphenation have been retained
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original text.

Page 165: Footnote 93 "... he jokingly said, 'It were better to be
Herod's pigs ...'" The transcriber has added the word "It".

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the transcriber. "The Ephesian mob ...".

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