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that there was no salvation without circumcision f, and the observance of the other le- from Act, i. gal ceremonies. Paul and Barnabas strongly opposed this doctrine; but, after many ”. “** conferences and disputations, it was at length proposed, that the decision of the question should be referred to the general assembly of the apostles at Jerusalem #2. This the whole church readily agreed to ; and having deputed Barnabas and Paul, together with some others of their body, to go with the message, they conducted them part of their way; and the two apostles, in passing through Phoenicia to and Samaria, took care to relate what success they had met with in the conversion of the Gentiles, to the great joy and comfort of all the brethren in those parts. When they were come to Jerusalem, they first addresed themselves to Peter, James, and John, the pillars and principal persons in that place, who received them very kindly; and perceiving, by the account which St Paul gave them, that the (a) “ gospel of the uncircumcision” was committed to him, as that of circumcision was to Peter, they ratified it by compact and agreement, that Peter should preach to the Jews, and Paul to the Gentiles; and, upon calling the council, wherein Peter declared his sense of the insufficiency of all legal observance to save those, who could expect salvation only “ through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ"; and wherein Paul and Barnabas gave an account of the wonders and miracles, which God had enabled them to work in converting the Gentiles, it was finally determined by St James, as bishop of the place, and president of the council, that the Gentiles, who were converted to Christianity, should not be obliged to submit to the yoke of the law, but only abstain from fornication f°, and
+ Those who maintained this position were Jews, of the sect of the Pharisees, "Acts xv. 5, converted to Christianity, but still too zealous for the observance of the law; and their coming immediately from Judea might make it the rather believed, that the necessity of circumcision, in order to salvation, was a tenet of the apostles. It is to be observed, however, that the Jews themselves were of different opinions in this matter, even as to mens admission into their religion. For some of them would allow those of other nations who owned the true God, and practised moral duties, to live quietly among them, and even without circumcision to be admitted into their religion; whilst others would admit of no such thing. Thus Josephus tells us, that when Izates, the son of Helen, queen of Adiabene, embraced the Jews religion, Ananias, who converted him, declared that he might do it without circumcision; but Eleazer, another eminent Jew, maintained, that it was a great impiety in such circumstances to remain uncircumcised; and this difference of opinion continued among the Jewish converts after their embracing Christianity, some allowing Gentiles to become converts to Christianity, without submitting to circumcision and the Jewish law, whilst others contended, that without circumcision, and the observance of the law, their profession of the Christian faith would not save them. Calmet's Commentary, and Beausobre's and Whitby's Annotations. +* St Paul, in his epistle to the Galatians, lets us into a circumstance that is not recorded in the history of the Acts, viz. “ that he went up at this time to 5.o. by revelation, Chap. ii. 2. for, as the prof. and teachers at Antioch had before separated im and Barnabas, by revelation, to preach to some of the Gentiles, and they having fulfilled that work,
returned to Antioch again, Acts xiv. 26. so it is pro-
Ann. Dom. *
A. M. 4959, from eating things offered to idols +, things strangled, and blood, to which, in the preent circumstances of the church, were highly necessary. With this decree, which was
drawn up in the form of an epistle, Paul and Barnabas were sent back to the church
*T*of Antioch, and with them the council joined Judas #3 and Silas, two eminent men of
their own number, that, by their testimony of what was transacted at Jerusalem, the
same manner as they did.
But when some Jewish Christians, still tenacious of the
ceremonial law, came from Jerusalem, for fear of offending or displeasing them, he separated himself from the Gentile converts, and refused to eat with them ; whereby he not only confirmed the Jews in their darling opinions, but filled the Gentiles likewise
with new doubts and scruples.
St Paul, who was not ignorant of what pernicious in
fluence the example of so great an apostle might be, (especially when he saw Barnabas carried away with the stream of his dissimulation) was not afraid, even in the face of
+ The heathens of this age used the same arts to seduce the Christians, and bring them to their temples, that the Moabites had formerly done to corrupt the Israelites, calling and inviting them to eat of the sacrifices which they had offered to their false gods. To this purpose our Saviour, in his letter to the church of Pergamus, makes mention of some who held “ the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling-block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols,” Rev. ii. 14. Great reason therefore had the council to forbid Christians this profane practice, because (as St Paul expresses his sense of the matter) “we cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of the devils,” 1 Cor. x. 21. i. e. it is highly unfit that Christians, who eat of the sacrament of the Lord's supper, should defile themselves with meats that have been sacrificed to what the Gentiles call gods, but are in reality no better than devils. Whitby's Annotations.
+* The Jews had so strong an aversion to blood, that they accounted all who made use of it in food, as creatures sadly polluted, and gross transgressors even of the law of nature. The Gentiles, on the contrary, looked upon blood as the most delicious food of their gods, and thought that by eating of it, they entered into a more intimate communion with them: and therefore the prohibition of it was necessary for these two reasons: 1st, That no offence might be
given to the Jewish converts, who would be loth to converse, much more to join, in any religious offices with persons who indulged themselves in such meats as they detested; and, 2dly, That the Gentile converts might be in no danger of relapsing into idolatry, which they possibly might do, if a toleration to eat things offered to idols were still indulged them. Beausobre's Annotations, and Calmet's Commentary.
t? It is generally thought, that Judas, who is sirnamed Barsabas, was the brother of Joses, or Joseph, who, together with Matthias, was proposed as a candi. date for the apostleship, which Judas the traitor by his transgression had forfeited; and Silas is supposed to be the same person, that under the name of Sylvanus is mentioned in the title of both St Paul's epistles to the Thessalonians, and whom St Peter, in his first epistle, styles a faithful brother. St Luke says of them both, that “they were chief men among the brethren,” Acts xv. 22. which gives us room to think that they were of the number of the seventy, and might therefore be sent back with Paul and Barnabas to carry the decision of the counses to Antioch, because Paul and Barnabas, being strenuous asserters of the liberty of the Gospel, might otherwise have been suspected by those of the contrary party, who maintained the necessity of circumcision. Calmet's Commentary.
the whole church, to reprove him sharply, for endeavouring to impose that yoke upon the from Act, i. Gentiles, which he, though a Jew, thought himself at liberty to shake off. But how """ St Peter received this reproof, we are no where told ; and this indeed is the last time that we read of him in the history of the Acts. It was not long after this, that Paul and Barnabas resolved upon visiting the churches which they had lately planted among the Gentiles. To this end Barnabas proposed to take his cousin Mark with them ; which Paul would by no means agree to, because he had deserted them in their former journey; so that, after a warm dispute on both sides, they separated f from each other : Barnabas, with his nephew, betook himself to Cyprus, which was his native country; and Paul (after he had been recommended to the blessing and assistance of God by the prayers of the church) made choice of Silas for his companion, in his intended visitation of the several places where he had propagated Christianity. Parting from Antioch, he travelled over the provinces of Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches, and leaving with them copies of the synodical decree, which had lately passed in the council at Jerusalem. Thence, very probably, he sailed to Crete fo, where he planted Christianity; and having constituted Titus to be the bishop of the place, left him there to regulate such matters as the shortness of his stay would not permit him to do. From Crete he returned to Cilicia, and came to Lystra, where he met with a young man named Timothy, whose father was a Greek +3, but his mother Eunice (from whom he had received all the advantages of a pious education, and an extraordinary skill in the Sacred Writings) was a Jewish convert. Him Paul designed to make the companion of his travels, and a special instrument in the ministry of the Gospel: And therefore, being willing, in indifferent matters, to accommodate himself to the humour of some particular men, he caused him to be circumcised, as knowing very well what a mighty prejudice the want of that rite would have been in the opinion and estimation
of the Jews.
From Lystra, Paul, with his companions, passed through Phrygia f* and Gala
+ From hence we may learn, not only that these great lights in the Christian church were men of the like passions with us, but that God, upon this occasion, did most eminently illustrate the wisdom of his Providence, by rendering the frailties of two such eminent servants instrumental to the benefit of his church, since both of them thenceforward employed their extraordinary industry and zeal, singly and apart, which till then had been united, and confined to the same place. Stanhope on the Epistles and Gospels, vol. iv.
+* This is one of the noblestisles in the whole Mediterranean Sea, which had once an hundred considerable towns or cities in it, from whence it had the name of Hecatonpolis, and, for the goodness of the soil, and temper of the air, was likewise styled Macarios, or Macarionesus, the happy island; for though the inland parts of it are very mountainous, yet are they extremely fruitful, especially of vines called the Muscadine, though not so productive of corn. At present it is commonly called Candia, from its principal town, which bears that name; is situate over against the mouth of the Ægean Sea, or Archipelago; and while it continued in the hands of the Venetians, was an archbishop's see, great, rich, and populous; but since it came into the possession of the Turks (which was in the year 1669), it has lost all marks of
its former happiness and grandeur. Wells's Geogra-
A. M. 4055, tia +, in which country he was entertained with great kindness and veneration, as if *...*.*.* he had been (a) “an angel sent from heaven;” and hence he intended to have continued
Ann. Dom. - - - - ... ." his progress in the proconsular Asia, but that, by a particular revelation, he was forbid
— den as yet to preach the Gospel there. Being therefore come to Mysia f*, and attempting in vain to go into Bithynia +3, he came to Troas f*, where he had a vision, commanding him to direct his course for Macedonia f*, and where St Luke seems to have joined him, and for ever after to have been his inseparable companion. Embarking therefore at Troas, they touched upon the island Samothracia +", and the next day landed at Neapolis #7, a port in Macedonia, from whence they travelled a few miles to Philippi +8, a Roman colony. A little distant from the city, the Jews
occasion to these proverbs, “seró sapiunt Phryges,” and “Phryges plagis fieri solent meliores.” Wells’s Geography of the New Testament. + It is a province of Asia Minor, bounded on the west by Phrygia; on the east by the river Halys; on the north by Paphlagonia; and on the south by Lycaonia. It took its name from Galatae, or the Gauls, who, under their captain Leonorius (as Strabo informs us), left their own country in Europe, and having ranged over Italy and Greece, passed into the Asiatic continent, and brought a great part of it under their command; but being broken by Attalus, king of Pergamus, and driven out of other parts, they were at last confined to this province, where, in a short time, they established their own language, which (as St Jerome informs us, in his commentaries on St Paul's epistle to the Galatians) was in use in his time, and very much like that which the people of Triers, or Treves, in the European Gaul, are known to speak. Whitby's Alphabetical Table, and Wells's Geography of the New Testament. (a) Gal. iv. 14. +* It is a small province of Asia Minor, bounded on the north by Bithynia; on the east by Phrygia; on the west by Troas; and on the south by the river Hermus. It had its name, very probably, from the great quantity of beech trees which grow there; but why its inhabitants came to be accounted base and contemptible, even to a proverb (as Tully, in his oration for Flaccus, has noted), we cannot tell. Whitby's Alphabetical Table, and Wells's Geography of the New Testament. +3. It is a region of Asia Minor, bounded on the north by the Euxine Sea; on the south by Phrygia; on the west by the Propontis; and on the east by Galatia. It had its name (as most geographers suppose) from one of its kings, named Bithynus; but in what age he reigned they give us no account. However, since the times of the New Testament, it has been made famous for the first general council held at Nice, by the command of Constantine the Great, against the Arian heresy; and for the fourth general council held at Chalcedon, by command of the emperor Martianus, for suppressing the heresy of Nestorius. Whilby’s Alphabetical Table, and Wells's Geography of the New Testament. +*This was a small country belonging to Phrygia Minor, according to Strabo, and lying on the west of Mysia, upon the Hellespont. It took its name from its principal city, which was a sea-port, about four
miles from the situation of old Troy, so famous in the works of Homer. This city was built by Lysimachus, one of Alexander's captains, who peopled it from the neighbouring places, and called it Alexandria, or Troas Alexandri, in honour of his master, who himself indeed began the work, but did not live to bring it to perfection; but in process of time it lost that name, and both city and country was called Troas only. Whitby's Alphabetical Table, and Wells's Geography of the New Testament. +* This is a large province of Greece, bounded on the North by the mountain of Hemus; on the south by Epirus and Achaia; on the east by the AEgean Sea; and on the west by the Aonian and Adriatic Seas. Its ancient name was Emmathia; but, from the kings of Macedon, it was afterwards called Macedonia, and became famous in all histories, as being the third kingdom which, under Alexander the Great, obtained the empire of the world, and had no less than an hundred and fifty nations under its command. Whitby's Alphabetical Table." +* It is a small island in the Ægean Sea, lying west from Troas, over against the coast of Thrace, from whence it has its name, to distinguish it from the isle Samos, situate over against Ionia. At present it is called Samandrachi, and is said to have more commodious harbours than any other island in this sea. Wells's Geography of the New Testament. +7 This sea-port, which stood very near to Thrace, belonged at first to that province, but was afterwards taken into Macedonia. Wells's Geography of the New Testament. +* This was one of the chief cities of Macedonia, lying to the west of Neapolis, and formerly called Dathos, but afterwards taking its name from Philip, the famous king of Macedon, who repaired and beautified it. In process of time it became a Roman co
lony; for the Romans (we must know) had two sorts
of colonies; such as were founded in places where there had never been a city before, or where a former city had been totally destroyed, and these were peopled with none but itomans; and such as were settled in cities already built, where those who had served in the wars, as well as any other Romans that were willing to remove thither, had such a district of the town assigned for them to inhabit, and such a quantity of ground in the country for them to till and cultivate. Both these kinds of colonies, how far soever distant from Rome, enjoyed the privileges of Roman citizens, and were governed by the Roman
had a Proseuche f, or place of devotion, whither the apostle and his company used to re-From Acts i. sort, for the exercise of their religion, and the preaching of the Gospel to such as fre: """" quented the place. Here they found several devout women, and among others one named Lydia, a dealer in purple, whom, when they had converted, they baptized, as likewise her whole family; and she, in return, gave them an invitation to lodge at her house during the time of their abode in that city. As they were going to this place of devotion, they were frequently followed by a maid-servant, who, being actuated by a spirit of divination +*, proclaimed them to be (as indeed they were) the || “servants of the Most High God,” and preachers of the way to salvation. But Paul, well knowing that the Christian religion needed not the testimony of Satan to confirm it, commanded the demon, in the name of Jesus Christ, to come out of her. The demon was forced to obey; but immediately raised a storm against the apostles: For when the masters of the maid saw that by this miracle all their prospect of future gain from her divinations was gone, they apprehended Paul and Silas, and having brought them before the magistrates, to them they insinuated, that as they were Jews fo, there was reason to believe that they intended to introduce
laws. Of this latter sort was the city of Philippi, and
| It may seem a little strange that the devil, who is the father of lies, and had all the reason imaginable to vilify and decry St Paul and his companions, should here be tempted to tell truth in commendation of them; but for this he had his design. He knew full well, that, if the Gentiles should believe the character he gave them, this would invalidate the apostles preaching and miracles, and, by supposing a confederacy between them, make the one be esteemed the effects of magic, and the other no better than the doctrines of devils. He knew, in like manner, that, if the Jews did not believe his testimony concerning the apostles, it would nevertheless leave a bad impression upon their minds, and make them entertain a suspicion of St Paul and his associates, for having the praise and approbation of the prince of darkness; and though this prince of darkness might possibly foresee that St Paul would give him no farther quarter, but instantly dispossess him yet this might not at all deter him from his purpose, because he did not doubt, but that his ejection would draw upon the apostle and his friends a violent persecution, which was the ultimate of his wish. Calmet's Commentary.
f* At the first appearance of the Christian religion, the Gentiles looked upon it as no other than a particular sect, or reformation of Judaism; because at that time, those who professed it were descended from the same stock, born in the same country, observed, in the main, the same laws, adored the same God, and received the same Scriptures. This was enough to denominate them Jews: And accordingly Suetonius, in his life of Claudius, c. 25. tells us, that the emperor banished all the Jews out of Rome, because they were always raising tumults at the instigation of one Chrestus: (For so he calls our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ) And in like manner, the people of Philippi, to make Paul and Silas more odious to the magistrates, did not stick to acquaint them that they were Jews, and intended some innovations in religion. For though, as yet, there was no express edict against Christians, yet there was an old law of