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Search the Scriptures.-JOIN v. 39.

BOSTON:
UNIVERSALIST PUBLISHING HOUSE,

37 CORNHILL.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1847,

Bo Tricius R. PAIGE, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetta.

BS
2341
„P34
1844
1.3

STEREOTYPED BI 0. S. NICKINSON, BOSTON

INTRODUCTION

TO THE

ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.

The authorship of this Book has been uniformly ascribed to Luke, the Evangelist, and its genuineness and canonical authority have been acknowl. edged, in all ages, by the Christian Church. The testimony of Eusebius, in the fourth century, is a fair specimen of the opinion expressed by the fathers : “Luke, who was born at Antioch, and by profession a physician, being for the most part connected with Paul, and familiarly acquainted with the rest of the apostles, has left us, in two inspired books, the institutes of that spiritual healing art which he obtained from them. One of these is his Gospel, in which he testifies that he has recorded as those who were from the beginning eye-witnesses and ministers of the word 'delivered to him ; whom also, he says, he has in all things followed. The other is his Acts of the Apostles, which he composed, not from what he had heard from others, but from what he had seen himself." Book III. chap. 4. Compare Luke i. 3, with Acts i. 1.

Concerning the date, there is very little difference of opinion. The history extends to the close of Paul's second year of imprisonment, supposed to be A.D. 63; and it does not relate his death, which is said to have occurred about A.D. 65. Between these two dates, the history was probably written. For similar reasons, it is supposed to have been written at Rome; for the writer mentions his arrival, with Paul, at that city, but gives no intimation of a subsequent departure.

Although the title was not probably affixed by Luke himself, or by divine authority, it is of very ancient date, and is manifestly appropriate. The Book contains a history of the Acts or the Transactions of the Apostles, for a period of about thirty years next after the resurrection and ascension of our blessed Lord.

Three principal subjects are embraced in this history. (1.) The conversion of disciples and the firm establishment of the church among the Jews; chap. i.-ix: (2.) The conversion of Gentiles, who already feared and worshipped the true God; chap. X.-xii.: (3.) The conversion of Gentiles, who previously neither knew nor feared the true God, and who did not subsequently become subject to the law of Moses; chap. xiii.—xxviii.

iv

INTRODUCTION TO THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.

The first named of these subjects is treated with comparative brevity, because the fact had been previously demonstrated that the Jews should partake the blessings of the Messiah's reign. It was only necessary, therefore, that the historian should relate the fulfilment of the promise concerning the effusion of the divine Spirit, and the remarkable results which ensued. In regard to the other two subjects, kindred in their character, the historian is much more particular and minute in his narration. To the Jews, it was scarcely less incredible that the Gentiles were to be admitted to a perfect equality with themselves, in regard to the divine favor and blessings, than it was that the authority of Moses could be superseded by that of a more illustrious prophet. Hence the propriety of relating, more at large, those events which conclusively and unequivocally manifested the divine purpose, that our Lord Jesus Christ should become literally and truly “the Saviour of the world,” by imparting spiritual life to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews. This doctrine was offensive even to the Jewish Christians : to the unconverted Jews, it was an utter abomination. But, though they destroyed the life of Paul, the most prominent advocate of this truth, even as their fathers had destroyed his Master, the truth lived and triumphed. Paul himself, at the close of life, when reviewing his laborious struggle against the power of the adversary, was cheered by the conviction that his labor had not been in vain. God had crowned his exertions with success, and had given him abundant and precious seals of his ministry. And although the disciples still endured persecution, he knew the time was rapidly approaching, when the persecuting power should be paralysed, and the churches should have peace.

The remarkable manner in which an “exceedingly mad” persecutor of Christians was transformed into their most devoted and successful defender, the many miraculous interpositions of divine power in behalf of him and his fellow-laborers, and other events which were subservient to the great object embraced in the propagation of Christianity throughout the whole wor id, will be more particularly noticed elsewhere.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.

CHAPTER I. 12 Until the day in which he was

taken up, after that he through the 'THE former treatise have I made, Holy Ghost had given commandTO Theophilus, of all that Jesus ments unto the apostles whom he began both to do and teach. had chosen :

apostles after him."'--Lightfoot. But I CHAPTER I. .. prefer the more common interpretile

tion; namely, that the phrase is a com1. The former treutise, &c. Literally mon Hebraism, equivalent to did and word; but, according to common usage, taught. Thus it is written, that Jea a discourse or narrative, whether spok- sus " called unto him the twelve, and en or written. The reference is man- began to send them forth." Mark vi. 7. ifestly to the Gospel according to Luke; Another evangelist expresses the same which was composed by lhe: ime au- idea thus: “These twelve Jesus sent thor, addressed particularly in die same forth.” Matt. x. 5. So also, “ Some person, and devoted to the sar. ! general | began to spit on him." Mark xiv. 65. subject, as this second part, or wintinu- The same act is described in the parala ation, of the narrative. The i shilus. lel place by an equivalent term, "Then Very little is known concerni: g this did they spit in his face.” Matt. xxvi. individual. He was probably a t liever 67. This forin of speech is often used in Christianity; and, from the n anner by Luke. "Jesu

esus himself began to be in which he is elsewhere addressed, it about thirty years of age;' that is, he is not unlikely that he held some office was about thirty years of age. Luke of civil trust and power. See note on iii. 23. “Then shall they begin to Luke i. 3. 1 Of all. Rather, concern- say;" that is, then they shall say. ing all. Luke does not profess to have Luke xxiii. 30. “He began to speak related, in his former treatise, every act boldly;"' that is, he spake boldly. Acts and word of his divine Master. He xviii. 26. Tertullus began to accuse frequently referred to discourses, with him ;" that is, Tertullus accused him. ouit recording the language; see Luke | Acts xxiv. 2. | To do and teach. iv. 15, 31; v. 3, 17; vi. 6; xix. 47; former treatise embraced an account xx. 1; and John, by a common Eastern both of those works which no man hyperbole, assures us that all the acts could do except God were with him, and language of our Lord could not be and of those doctrines which fell from compressed into so small a space. John the lips of him who spake as none other xx. 25. The meaning evidently is, that ever spake. John iii. 2; vii. 46. The the former treatise was concerning the truth of Christianity, and the divine ministry of Jesus, from his birth until commission of its founder, had thus been his ascension to his Father; that it sufficiently demonstrated. The refer

d an abstract of his teaching ence to the preceding work forras a proand of his mighty works; and that it per and very natural introduction to the embraced evidence sufficient to demon-second part of the same general design ; strate his Messiahship. 9 Began loth to in which is related the labors of those do and teach. This phrase has been in- I servants whom Jesus elected to speak terpreted thus : “In the former treatise, in his name after his departure. I discoursed of all those things which 2. Until the day, &c.Our Lord con. Jesus himself began to do and to teach : tinued to teach the truths of the kingin this, I am to give a relation of those dom, and to confirm his doctrines by thing which were continued by his I miracles, as well after his resurrection

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