Acts 1
Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

The Acts of the Apostles






I. The Author.—The opening words of the Acts, addressed, like the Gospel of St. Luke, to Theophilus, and referring to a former book, as containing a history of the life and teaching of the Lord Jesus, such as we find in that Gospel, are, at least, primâ facie evidence of identity of authorship. The internal evidence of style, [1] yet more, perhaps, that of character and tendency as shown in the contents of the book, confirm this conclusion. A tradition, going back to the second century, falls in with what has thus been inferred from the book itself. The words of Stephen, “Lay not this sin to their charge,” are quoted in the Epistle of the Churches of Lyons and Vienne to those of Asia and Phrygia (A.D. 177), given by Eusebius (Hist. v. 2). Irenæus and Clement of Alexandria quote from it, the latter citing St. Paul’s speech at Athens (Strom. v. 2); as also does Tertullian (De Jejun. c. 10). The Muratorian Fragment (see Vol. I., p. 13) dwells on its being largely the work of an eye-witness, as seen in its omission of the martyrdom of St. Peter, and St. Paul’s journey to Spain. Eusebius (Hist. iii. 4) ascribes both books to him, in the same terms; and Jerome (De Vir. Illust. c. 8) almost repeats the words of the Fragment: “Luke wrote his Gospel from what he had heard, but the Acts of the Apostles from what he saw.” It will be enough, therefore, as far as the authorship of this book is concerned, to refer for all that is known or conjectured as to the writer to the Introduction to St. Luke. There also will be found all that it is necessary to say as to Theophilus as representing the first readers of the Acts.

[1] Not fewer than fifty words are common to the two hooks, and are not found elsewhere in the New Testament. Many of these are noticed in the Notes.

II. The Title.—It does not follow that the present title was prefixed to the book by the writer himself. For him, probably, it would only present itself as the “second treatise,” or “book,” which came as a natural sequel to the first. It was not strange, however, especially when the books of the New Testament came to be collected together in a volume, and the “former treatise” took its place side by side with the other Gospels, and was thus parted from its companion, that a distinct title should be given to it. In the title itself the Greek MSS. present considerable variations—“Acts of the Apostles,” “Acts of all the Apostles,” “Acts of the Holy Apostles,” sometimes with the addition of the author’s name, “Written by Luke the Evangelist,” “Written by the Holy and Illustrious Luke, Apostle and Evangelist.” The word “Acts” seems to have been in common use in the first and second centuries after Christ for what we should call “Memoirs” or “Biographies,” and appears conspicuously in the apocryphal literature of the New Testament, as in the Acts of Pilate, the Acts of Peter and Paul, of Philip, of Matthew, of Bartholomew.

III. The Scope of the Book.—It is obvious that the title, whether by the author or by a transcriber, does but imperfectly describe its real nature. It is in no sense a history of the Apostles as a body. The names of the Eleven meet us but once (Acts 1:13). They are mentioned collectively in Acts 2:37; Acts 2:42-43; Acts 4:33-37; Acts 5:2; Acts 5:12; Acts 5:18; Acts 5:29; Acts 6:6; Acts 8:1; Acts 8:14; Acts 8:18; Acts 9:27; Acts 11:1; Acts 15:2; Acts 15:4; Acts 15:6; Acts 15:22-23; Acts 15:33. St. John appears only in Acts 3:1; Acts 4:13; Acts 8:14. Nothing is told us of the individual work of any other. Looking to the contents of the book, it would be better described, if we were to retain the present form at all, as the “Acts of Peter and of Paul,” the former Apostle occupying a prominent place in Acts 1-5, 10-12, 15, the latter being the central figure in Acts 7:58; Acts 7:9; Acts 11:25-30; Acts 13-27. From another point of view a yet more appropriate title would be (using the term in its familiar literary sense) that of the Origines Ecclesiœ—the history of the growth and development of the Church of Christ, and of the mission work of that Church among the Gentiles. The starting-point and the close of the book are in this respect significant. It begins at Jerusalem; it ends at Rome. When it opens, circumcision is required, as well as baptism, of every disciple; the Church of Christ is outwardly but a Jewish sect of some hundred and twenty persons (Acts 1:15). When it ends, every barrier between Jew and Gentile has been broken down, and the Church has become catholic and all-embracing. To trace the stages of that expansion both locally and as affecting the teaching of the Church is the dominant purpose of the book. The “acts” of those who were not concerned in it at all, or played but a subordinate part in it, are, we may venture to say, deliberately passed over. Some principle of selection is clearly involved in the structure of such a book as that now before us, and even without going beyond the four corners of the book itself, we may safely affirm that the main purpose of the writer was to inform a Gentile convert of Rome how the gospel had been brought to him, and how it had gained the width and freedom with which it was actually presented.

IV. Its Relation to the Gospel of St. Luke.—The view thus taken is strengthened by the fact that it presents the Acts of the Apostles as the natural sequel to the Gospel which we have seen sufficient reason to assign to the same writer. For there also, as it has been shown (Vol. I., p. 241), we trace the same principle of selection. It is more than any of the other three a Gospel for the Gentiles, bringing out the universality of the kingdom of God, recording parables and incidents which others had not recorded, because they bore witness that the love of God flowed out beyond the limits of the chosen people on robbers and harlots, on Samaritans and Gentiles. It remained for one who had led his catechumen convert to think thus of the Christ during His ministry on earth, to show that the unseen guidance given by the Christ in Heaven, through the working of the Holy Spirit, was leading it on in the same direction, that, though there had been expansion and development, there had been no interruption of continuity. I have ventured to say (Vol. I., p. 242) that the Gospel of St. Luke might be described as emphatically “the Gospel of the Saintly Life.” The natural sequel to such a Gospel was a record of the work of the Holy Ghost, the Sanctifier. Looking to the prominence given to the work of the Spirit, from the Day of Pentecost onwards, as guiding both the Church collectively and its individual members, it would hardly be over-bold to say that the book might well be called “the Gospel of the Holy Spirit.” At every stage His action is emphatically recognised. Jesus, after His resurrection, had, “through the Holy Ghost, given commandment to the Apostles whom He had chosen” (Acts 1:2). They are to be “baptised with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 1:5), are to “receive power after the Holy Ghost is come upon them” (Acts 1:8). The Holy Ghost had spoken through the mouth of David (Acts 1:16). Then comes the great wonder of the Day of Pentecost, when all the disciples were “filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:4), and spake with tongues, and the prophecy, “I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh” (Acts 2:17), is quoted as on the verge of fulfilment. Jesus has “received from the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:33). Once again all were “filled with the Holy Ghost, and spake the word with boldness” (Acts 4:31). The sin of Ananias is a “lie unto the Holy Ghost” (Acts 5:3). He and his wife have “tempted the Spirit of the Lord” (Acts 5:9). The “Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him,” is a witness that the Christ is exalted at the right hand of God (Acts 5:32). The seven who are chosen in Acts 6 are “full of the Holy Ghost, and of wisdom” (Acts 6:3). Stephen is pre-eminently “full of faith and of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 6:5). His leading charge against priests and scribes is that they “do always resist the Holy Ghost” (Acts 7:51). His vision of the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God is closely connected with his being at the moment “filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 7:55). Peter and John go down to Samaria that those who had been baptised by Philip “might receive the Holy Ghost” (Acts 8:15-17): and the sin of Simon the sorcerer is that he thinks that that gift of God can be purchased with money (Acts 8:18-20). It is the Spirit that impels Philip to join himself to the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:29), and carries him away after his baptism (Acts 8:39). Ananias is to lay his hands on Saul of Tarsus, that he “may be filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 9:17). The churches of Judæa and Galilee and Samaria in their interval of rest are “walking in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 9:31). The admission of the Gentiles is attested when “the gift of the Holy Ghost” is poured out on Cornelius and his friends (Acts 10:44-47), and Peter dwells on that attestation in his address to the Church of Jerusalem (Acts 11:15-17; Acts 15:8). Barnabas, when he is sent to carry on that work among the Gentiles at Antioch, is described, as Stephen had been, as “full of the Holy Ghost and of faith” (Acts 11:24). It is the Holy Ghost who “separates Barnabas and Saul for the work of the ministry,” and they are sent forth by Him (Acts 13:2-4). Saul, roused to indignation by the subtlety of Elymas, is “filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 13:9). It is He who guides the decision of the council assembled at Jerusalem (Acts 15:28), and directs the footsteps of Paul and his companions in their mission journey (Acts 16:6-7). The twelve disciples at Ephesus, baptised before with the baptism of John, “receive the Holy Ghost” when Paul lays his hands on them (Acts 19:6). He it was who witnessed in every city that bonds and imprisonment awaited the Apostle in Jerusalem (Acts 20:23; Acts 21:11). It was the Holy Ghost who had made the elders of Ephesus overseers of the Church of God (Acts 20:28). Well-nigh the last words of the book are those which “the Holy Ghost had spoken by Esaias,” and which St. Paul, in the power of the same Spirit, applies to the Jews of his own time (Acts 28:25).

V. Its Relation to the Controversies of the Time.—I have thought it right to go through this somewhat full induction because it presents an aspect of the book which has hardly been adequately recognised in the critical inquiries to which it has been subjected. But subject to this, as the dominant idea of the Acts of the Apostles, I see nothing to hinder us from recognizing other tendencies and motives, partly as inferred from the book itself, partly as in themselves probable, looking to the circumstances under which it must have been written. An educated convert like Theophilus could hardly have been ignorant of the controversy between St. Paul and the Judaisers, which is so prominent in the Epistle to the Galatians and the Second Epistle to the Corinthians. He would know that the Judaising teachers in the Galatian Church had spoken of the Apostle as a time-server seeking to please men (Galatians 1:10); as having no authority but that which he derived from the Church of Jerusalem (Galatians 1:1; Galatians 1:12; Galatians 1:17; Galatians 1:22); that they used the name of James in support of their exaggerated rigour, and worked upon the mind even of Peter, so as to lead him to, at least, a temporary inconsistency (Galatians 2:11-13); that others of the same school had appeared at Corinth, boasting of their “letters of commendation” (2Corinthians 3:1); taunting the Apostle with his “bodily presence weak, and speech contemptible” (2Corinthians 10:10); speaking of him as a “fool” and madman (2Corinthians 11:16); arrogating to themselves something like an ultra-apostolic authority (2Corinthians 11:4); boasting that they were Hebrews and ministers of Christ (2Corinthians 11:22). The language of Romans 14 shows that disputes analogous in their nature had sprung up at Rome even before St. Paul’s arrival; differences as to days and meats (Romans 14:2-6); connected with the very question of eating “things sacrificed to idols,” which had given occasion to one of the canons of the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:20; Acts 15:29) proposed by James, the bishop of that Church, and which had been discussed fully in the Epistle which St. Paul addressed to the Church of Corinth, at a time when its numbers were largely made up of Roman Christians (1 Corinthians 8-10). These facts were patent to any one who had any knowledge of St. Paul’s work. If Theophilus were, as is probable, an Italian, probably even a Roman, convert (see Introduction to St. Luke’s Gospel, Vol. I., p. 241), they would be forced upon his notice.

There are, however, other materials for estimating the attitude of the Judaising party towards St. Paul, and the language they habitually used in reference to him. I do not assume that the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies, Recognitions, and Epistles are of an earlier date than the second century, but it is a legitimate inference that they represent the traditions of the party from which they emanated, and they help us to fill up the outline which has been already sketched. In them, accordingly, we find James, the bishop of Jerusalem, as the centre of all church authority, the “lord and bishop of the holy Church” (Epist. of Peter, c. 1), the “archbishop” (Recogn. c. i. 73). Peter complains that “some among the Gentiles have rejected his preaching, which is according to the Law, and have followed the lawless and insane preaching of the man who is his enemy” (ibid. c. 2. Comp. Galatians 4:16). He complains that he has been misrepresented as agreeing with that “enemy” (ibid.). James declares that circumcision is an essential condition of discipleship (ibid. c. 4). Under cover of the legendary disputes between Peter and Simon the Sorcerer, the personal discipleship of the former is contrasted with that of one who has only heard the doctrine of Jesus through a vision or a dream (Hom. Clem. xvii., c. 14. Comp. Acts 9:3; Acts 9:17; Acts 18:9; Acts 22:18; Acts 23:11; 2Corinthians 12:1), and it is suggested that one who trusts in those visions and revelations may have been deceived by a demon (ibid. xvii., c. 16). Barnabas is named with praise (ibid. i., c. 9), but the name of Paul is systematically ignored. The opposition to Peter at Antioch, of which we read in Galatians 2:1-14, is represented as the work of the sorcerer (Recogn. x., c. 54). Almost the only direct reference to the Apostle of the Gentiles is an allusion to the “enemy” who had received a commission from Caiaphas to go to Damascus and make havoc of the faithful (Recogn. i., c. 71), and the fact that the “enemy” afterwards preached the faith which he had once destroyed is kept out of sight. With the strange confusion of chronology characteristic of this apocryphal literature, the “enemy” is represented as entering the Temple, disputing with James, attacking him with violence and throwing him down the Temple stairs, so that he lay there as dead (Recogn. i., c. 70).

Representations such as these might be met in two different ways. St. Paul, in the manly indignation of his spirit against such misrepresentations, met them, as in the Epistle to the Galatians, by asserting his entire independence of the Church at Jerusalem (Galatians 1:1-12), by showing that they had learnt from him, not he from them, the fulness and freedom of the gospel which he preached (Galatians 2:2); that the chief leaders of that Church had given to him and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship in their work among the Gentiles (Galatians 2:9); that he had not given way by subjection, no, not for an hour, to the Judaising Pharisee section of the Church (Galatians 2:4-5); that he had not shrunk from rebuking, with the general approval of the Church at Antioch, the inconsistency of Peter and of Barnabas (Galatians 2:11-14). He meets them also, as in 2Corinthians 11:13-27, by challenging a comparison between his own life and that of his antagonists. St. Luke thought it wise, in writing to a Gentile convert, to lay stress on the fact that the history of the Church of Jerusalem, truly stated, was against the policy and the claims of the Judaisers, that the Apostle of the Gentiles in his turn had shown every disposition to conciliate the feelings of the Jews. With this view, he records the fact that charges like those which were brought against St. Paul had been brought also against the martyr Stephen (Acts 6:14); that the Apostle had been admitted into the Church of Christ by a disciple devout according to the Law (Acts 9:10; Acts 22:12); that he had been received, after the first natural suspicion had been removed by the testimony of Barnabas, by the Apostles at Jerusalem (Acts 9:27); that it had been given to Peter to be, perhaps, the first to act on the essential principle of St. Paul’s gospel, and to throw open the doors of the Church to the uncircumcised Gentiles (Acts 10; Acts 11:1-13); that he and the Church of Jerusalem had sent Barnabas to carry on that work at Antioch (Acts 11:22); that St. Paul had always addressed himself to the Jews whenever there were any to listen to his preaching (Acts 13:5; Acts 13:14; Acts 14:1; Acts 17:2; Acts 17:17; Acts 18:4; Acts 19:8); that he had lost no opportunity of renewing his friendly intercourse with the Church of Jerusalem (Acts 15:2; Acts 18:22; Acts 21:15); and that James, the bishop of that Church, had throughout received him as a beloved brother (Acts 15:4; Acts 15:25-26); that he had shown his willingness to conciliate the Jewish section of the Church by circumcising Timotheus (Acts 16:3), and by his taking on himself the vow of a Nazarite (Acts 18:18; Acts 21:26); and, lastly, that the Council of Jerusalem had solemnly formulated a concordat by which the freedom of the Gentiles was secured (Acts 15:23-29).

A principle of selection such as this is naturally open to the charge that has been pressed by unfriendly critics, that it tends to lead the writer to exaggerate the harmony between the two parties whom it seeks to reconcile; and stress has been laid on the omission of the dispute between Paul and Peter at Antioch (Galatians 2:14), as showing that with this view he slurred over what was an important fact in the history which he undertakes to write. It may fairly be urged, however, on the other side, that there is absolutely no evidence that he was acquainted with that fact. As far as we can gather from his narrative, he was not at Antioch at the time. It was an incident on which St. Paul would naturally be reticent, unless forced to allude to it, as in writing to the Galatians, in vindicating his own independence. And even if he did know it, was this passing, momentary difference of sufficient importance to find a place in a brief compendium of the history of St. Paul’s work? Would the writer of a school history of England during the last fifty years feel bound, in tracing the action of the Conservative or Liberal party as a whole, to notice a single passage at arms, in which sharp words were spoken, in debate in cabinet or Parliament, between two of its leaders? Would a writer of English Church History during the same period think it an indispensable duty to record such a difference as that which showed itself between Bishop Thirlwall and Bishop Selwyn in the Pan-Anglican Conference of 1867? That he did not shrink from recording a personal dispute when important consequences were involved is shown by his treatment of the quarrel between Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:37-40).

VI. Its Evidential Value.—(1) In relation to the Gospels. Had the Acts of the Apostles presented itself as an entirely independent book, its evidence as to the main facts of the Gospel history would obviously have been of the highest value. It assumes those facts throughout as well known. The main work of the Apostles is to bear witness of the resurrection (Acts 4:33). Jesus of Nazareth had been “approved of God by miracles, and wonders, and signs” (Acts 2:22). Against Him “Herod and Pontius Pilate had been gathered together” (Acts 4:27). God had “anointed Him with the Holy Ghost and with power;” and He “went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil, beginning from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached” (Acts 10:37-38). It is obvious, however, that it does not present itself as independent. It looks back to a former book, and that former book is the Gospel according to St. Luke. “It was natural,” it has been said, “that the writer should thus take for granted what he had thus himself recorded. You cannot, in such a case, cite the second volume to bear witness to the veracity of the first.” Admitting this, however—as in all fairness it must be admitted—the Acts present evidence, as has been already pointed out (Vol. I., p. xxxi.), of another kind. If they are shown, by the numerous coincidences which they present with the writings of St. Paul (see infra), by their occasional use of the first personal pronoun (Acts 16:10-15; Acts 20:5; Acts 21:17; Acts 27:1; Acts 28:16), by their stopping at St. Paul’s imprisonment at Rome, instead of going on to the close of his work and life, to be, on any fair estimate of circumstantial evidence, the work of a contemporary, and to have been written before St. Paul’s death, in A.D. 65 or 66, then it follows that the Gospel from the pen of the same author must have been of even earlier date. The reference to the “many” who had “taken in hand” to set forth a narrative of the gospel (Luke 1:1) connects itself with the quotation from “the words of the Lord Jesus” in Acts 20:35, as showing that there was not only a widely diffused oral tradition of the facts of the Gospel history (such as that implied in 1Corinthians 11:23-25; 1Corinthians 15:3-7), but that there was also a fairly copious Gospel literature, presenting materials for future editors and compilers. But we may go yet further. It has often been urged, as against the early date of the Gospels in their present form, that they have left so few traces of themselves in the early history and the early writings of the Church. It has been already shown (Vol. I., pp. 27-31) that, as far as the Epistles of the New Testament are concerned, those traces are far from few; but it may be admitted that they do not refer, as we might, perhaps, have expected them to refer, to any individual miracles, or parables, or discourses of our Lord. The same holds good of the Apostolic fathers; and it is not till we come to Justin Martyr that we get any such frequency of citation as to make it certain that he had one of our first three Gospels, or another resembling them, in his hands. (See Vol. I., p. xxvii.) Well, be it so; but here we have a work with the same absence of citation, the same vague generalisation in its reference to the outlines only of the Gospel history; and of this book, whatever view may be taken of its date, it is absolutely certain that the writer knew that history in all its fulness. Had the Acts come down to us without the Gospel of St. Luke, its reticence, and vagueness also, might have been urged as against the credibility of the narratives of the Gospels that bear the names of St. Matthew and St. Mark. As it is, it shows that that reticence and vagueness may be compatible with a full and intimate knowledge of the facts so narrated.

(2) In relation to the Epistles of St. Paul. Here, as Paley has well put the argument in the opening of his Horœ Paulinœ, the case is different. We have a book purporting to be by a contemporary of St. Paul’s. We have thirteen or fourteen documents purporting to be Epistles from him. There is not the shadow of a trace in the Epistles that the writer had read the Acts, or even knew of the existence of the book. There is not the shadow of a trace in the Acts of the Apostles that the writer had read the Epistles, or even knew of their existence. He not only does not compile from them nor allude to them, but he does not even record, as might have been expected, the fact that they had been written. He omits facts which we find in them, and which would have been important as materials for his history. Whatever coincidences the two may present are conspicuously undesigned. So far as they do agree and throw light upon each other, they supply a reciprocal testimony each to the trustworthiness of the other.

The coincidences which thus present themselves are dealt with in the Notes in this Commentary on the Acts and the Epistles, and to state them with any fulness here would be to re-write the Horœ Paulinœ with numerous additions. It will, however, it is believed, be of some advantage to the student to have at least the more important of these coincidences brought under his notice in such a form as to admit of examination without turning to other books, and the following table has accordingly been drawn up with that view. It has been thought expedient to present them as they occur in the Epistles of St. Paul, and to take those Epistles in their chronological order.

1Thessalonians 2:2; 1Thessalonians 3:4

St. Paul’s sufferings at Philippi

Acts 16:22-23.

1Thessalonians 3:4

St. Paul’s sufferings at Thessalonica

Acts 17:5.

1Thessalonians 2:18; 1Thessalonians 3:1; 1Thessalonians 3:6-7

St. Paul left at Athens alone

Acts 17:16.

1Thessalonians 2:14

Sufferings of the Thessalonians from their own countrymen

Acts 17:5.

1Thessalonians 1:9

Thessalonian converts turning from idols

Acts 17:4.

1Thessalonians 2:9-10; 1Thessalonians 4:11

St. Paul’s precept and practice in working

Acts 18:3.

1Corinthians 2:1; 1Corinthians 4:19; 1Corinthians 16:5

St. Paul’s two visits to Corinth

Acts 18:1; Acts 20:2.

1Corinthians 15:32

Fighting with wild beasts at Ephesus

Acts 19:29-30.

1Corinthians 16:19

“Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord”

Acts 18:18; Acts 18:20.

1Corinthians 16:9

The “effectual door” opened at Ephesus

Acts 19:20; Acts 19:26.

The many adversaries

Acts 19:9; Acts 19:28.

1Corinthians 4:17-19

Timotheus sent to Corinth from Ephesus

Acts 19:21-22.

1Corinthians 16:10-11

St. Paul’s doubt as to arrival of Timotheus

Acts 19:22.

1Corinthians 1:12; 1Corinthians 3:6

Work of Apollos at Corinth

Acts 18:27-28.

1Corinthians 4:11-12

St. Paul’s working for his bread at Ephesus

Acts 20:34

1Corinthians 9:20

St. Paul’s becoming to Jews as a Jew

Acts 16:3; Acts 18:18; Acts 21:23-26.

1Corinthians 1:14-17

Baptism of Crispus and Gains

Acts 18:8.

1Corinthians 16:1

Collection for the saints in Galatia

Acts 18:23.

1Corinthians 5:7-8

Allusion to the Passover

1Corinthians 16:8

“Tarrying at Ephesus till Pentecost”

Acts 19:22; Acts 20:3.

1Corinthians 1:1

Sosthenes with St. Paul

Acts 18:12-17.

1Corinthians 16:6

St. Paul’s wintering at Corinth

Acts 20:3; Acts 20:6.

1Corinthians 16:5

St. Paul’sjourney through Macedonia

Acts 20:1.

2Corinthians 1:16; 2Corinthians 2:13

St. Paul’s journey through Macedonia

Acts 20:1.

2Corinthians 11:32-33

St. Paul’s escape from Damascus

Acts 9:23-25.

2Corinthians 1:8

The trouble that came on him in Asia

Acts 19:29-30.

2Corinthians 11:9

Supplies from the brethren from Macedonia

Acts 18:1; Acts 18:5.

2Corinthians 1:19

Silvanus and Timotheus as St. Paul’s fellow workers at Corinth

Acts 18:5.

2Corinthians 11:25

“Once was I stoned”

Acts 14:19.

2Corinthians 3:1

Letters of commendation

Acts 18:27.

2Corinthians 10:14-16

Corinth as then the limit of St. Paul’s labours

Acts 18:18.

Galatians 1:17-18

His visit to St. Peter and James the Lord’s brother, after his conversion

Acts 9:28.

Galatians 2:1

The journey with Barnabas to Jerusalem

Acts 15:2.

Galatians 2:13

Barnabas with St. Paul at Antioch

Acts 15:35-37.

Galatians 5:11

Persecutions from the Jews

Acts 13:49; Acts 14:1-19; Acts 17:4-13; Acts 18:12.

Galatians 1:18

The shortness of the first visit to Jerusalem

Acts 22:18.

Galatians 2:9

The authority of James, the brother of the Lord

Acts 12:17; Acts 15:13; Acts 21:18.

Romans 15:25-26

St. Paul’s journey to Jerusalem

Acts 20:6; Acts 24:17.

Romans 16:21-23

Salutations from Sosipater, Timotheus, and Gains

Acts 20:4.

Romans 16:3

Aquila and Priscilla at Corinth and Rome

Acts 18:2.

Romans 16:27

Phœbe of Cenchreæ

Acts 18:18.

Romans 1:13; Romans 15:23

St. Paul’s desire to visit Rome

Acts 19:21.

Romans 15:19

The gospel preached in Illyricum

Acts 20:2.

Romans 15:30

Apprehension of coming danger

Acts 20:22-23.

Philippians 2:19

Timotheus known to the Philippians

Acts 16:4; Acts 17:14.

Philippians 1:29-30; Philippians 2:1-2

St. Paul’s sufferings at Philippi

Acts 16:22.

Philippians 4:2-3

Euodia, Syntyche, and the other women at Philippi

Acts 16:13.

Ephesians 6:21

Tychicus as known to the Ephesians

Acts 20:4.

Ephesians 6:19-20

St. Paul as an ambassador in a chain

Acts 28:16-20.

Colossians 4:10

Mark as sister’s son (better, cousin) to Barnabas

Acts 15:37-40; Acts 12:12.

Aristarchus, St. Paul’s fellow-prisoner

Acts 19:29; Acts 27:2.

1Timothy 5:9

Provision for the maintenance of widows

Acts 6:1.

1Timothy 1:13-16

The persecutor converted

Acts 8:3; Acts 9:1-10.

1Timothy 1:6-7; 1Timothy 4:1-4

State of the Church at Ephesus

Acts 20:29-30.

Titus 3:13

Apollos in Crete

Acts 18:24.

2Timothy 1:16

Onesiphorus and St. Paul’s chain

Acts 28:20.

2Timothy 4:20

Trophimus left at Miletus

Acts 20:4.

2Timothy 1:4-5

The mother of Timotheus

Acts 16:1.

2Timothy 3:15

His education in the Holy Scriptures

Acts 16:2.

2Timothy 3:10-11

Persecutions at Antioch, Iconium, Lystra

Acts 13, 14

2Timothy 4:11

Mark profitable in ministering

Acts 13:5.

2Timothy 4:14

Alexander the coppersmith

Acts 19:33.

It ought to be stated that the comparison of the Acts and the Pauline Epistles brings to light also some real or apparent difficulties. Of these the most conspicuous are:—

(1)The omission in Acts 9:19-23 of the journey to Arabia mentioned in Galatians 1:17.

(2)The omission in Galatians 2:1-10 of any notice of the journey to Jerusalem in Acts 11:30, or of the decrees of the council of Apostles and elders in Acts 15

(3)The omission in the Acts of any record of the dispute between St. Peter and St. Paul at Antioch (Galatians 2:11).

These are examined in detail in the Notes on the several passages connected with them.

This method of inquiry may be extended, with similar results, to the Epistle to the Hebrews, and to the two Epistles of St. Peter. It is in the account of Apollos, in Acts 18:24-28, that we get what many critics since Luther’s time have looked upon as the only satisfactory explanation of the phenomena presented by the first of these Epistles. Assuming the authorship of Apollos as at least a probable hypothesis, the spiritual condition described in Hebrews 5:11; Hebrews 6:2, as that of some of those who had been under the teaching of the writer, may be compared with that of the twelve disciples at Ephesus who knew only the baptism of John (Acts 19:1-7). In the reference to the “saints of Italy” in Hebrews 13:24—apparently as distinct from Roman Christians—we may, perhaps, see a reference to the Church of Puteoli, the only Italian town, besides Rome, mentioned in the Acts as containing “brethren” (Acts 28:14).

I note, further, a few coincidences of some interest between the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles of St. Peter:—

1Peter 1:11

The tone in which prophecy is spoken of, as compared with

Acts 2:16-17; Acts 2:30-31.

1Peter 1:17

God no respecter of persons

Acts 10:34.

1Peter 1:22

Purity by faith and obedience

Acts 15:9.

1Peter 2:7

The stone which the builders rejected

Acts 4:11.

1Peter 4:16

The name of Christian

Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28.

1Peter 5:12

Mention of Silvanus as accounting for St. Peter’s knowledge of St. Paul’s Epistles (2Peter 3:15)

Acts 15:32; Acts 15:40.

1Peter 5:13

“Marcus my son”

Acts 12:12.

(3) In relation to External History.—It is obvious that the Acts of the Apostles take a wider range, both in space and time, than any other narrative book of the New Testament. They cover a period of more than thirty years. The scene is shifted from Jerusalem to Samaria, Cæsarea, Damascus, Antioch, Cyprus, Asia Minor, Greece, and finally ends in Italy. The writer is constantly brought across some of the events of contemporary history, and the scenes which earlier or later travellers have described. Does he show himself in these respects an accurate observer, faithful in his reports, correct in his language? Does he fall into the blunders which would be natural in a man writing a fictitious narrative a century or so after the events which he professes to relate? For a full answer to these questions the reader is referred to the Notes that follow; but it may be well to indicate briefly some of the more important of these points of contact with the contemporary history of the outer world.

Acts 5:37.

Judas of Galilee.

Acts 6:9.

The synagogue of the Libertines.

Acts 8:9.

Simon the sorcerer.

Acts 8:27.

Candace, queen of the Ethiopians.

Acts 9:36.


Acts 10:1.

The centurion of the Italian band.

Acts 11:26.

The name of Christian at Antioch.

Acts 11:28.

The famine under Claudius.

Acts 12:23.

Death of Herod Agrippa I.

Acts 13:7.

Sergius Paulus of Cyprus.

Acts 14:11.

Paul and Barnabas taken for Zeus and Hermes.

Acts 16:12.

Philippi a colonia.

Acts 16:14.

The purple-seller of Thyatira.

Acts 16:16.

The damsel with a Python spirit.

Acts 16:22.

The strategi of Philippi.

Acts 16:37.

St. Paul’s Roman citizenship,

Acts 17:6.

The politarchs of Thessalonica.

Acts 17:19.

The court of the Areopagus.

Acts 17:21.

Character of the Athenians.

Acts 17:28.

Quotation from Aratus.

Acts 18:2.

Jews banished from Rome by Claudius.

Acts 18:12.

Gallio pro-consul of Achaia.

Acts 19:9.

The school of Tyrannus.

Acts 19:24.

The silver shrines of Artemis.

Acts 19:27-29.

The temple and theatre at Ephesus.

Acts 19:31-35.

The Asiarchs and town-clerk of Ephesus.

Acts 19:38-39.

The pro-consuls and the lawful assembly.

Acts 21:38.

The Egyptian rebel.

Acts 22:28.

St. Paul’s Roman citizenship.

Acts 23:2.

The high priest Ananias.

Acts 23:24.

Felix the governor.

Acts 24:24.


Acts 24:27.

Porcius Festus.

Acts 25:13.

Agrippa and Bernice.

Acts 25:11.

Appeal to Cæsar.

Acts 27

The details of the narrative throughout.

Acts 28:7.

The “chief man” of Melita.

Acts 28:15.

Appii Forum and the Three Taverns.

Under this head also it is right to notice that which appears to make against, rather than for, the credibility of the narrative, and I accordingly name the chronological difficulty connected with the name of Theudas in Gamaliel’s speech (Acts 5:36).

(4) Internal Evidence of Credibility.—The internal consistency of any book is not necessarily evidence of more than the skill of the writer. Every writer of fiction aims more or less at producing the impression of verisimilitude by touches that have the effect of coincidences between one part of the narrative and another; and the art that conceals art will produce, according to the skill of the author, the impression that the coincidences are undesigned. On the other hand, we feel, as we read some stories, that they contain, in the naturalness of their style, the absence of any sensational dove-tailing of incidents, primâ facie testimony to their own veracity. And it is submitted to the reader whether instances such as the following may not fairly claim consideration, as coming under the latter category rather than the former.

(1)Hostility of the high priests, as Sadducees, to the preaching of the resurrection (Acts 4:1-2; Acts 5:17).

(2)Barnabas of Cyprus going twice to his own country (Acts 4:36; Acts 13:4; Acts 15:39).

(3)The complaints of the Hellenistae (Grecians), leading to the election of seven men with Greek names (Acts 6:1-5).

(4)The Cilicians disputing with Stephen (Acts 6:9). The young man named Saul (Acts 7:58); afterwards described as of Tarsus (Acts 9:11).

(5)Philip’s arrival at Cæsarea (Acts 8:40). No further mention of him till we find him again at Cæsarea (Acts 21:8).

(6)Mark’s return to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13) explained by his mother’s being there (Acts 12:12) and the pressure of the famine (Acts 11:28).

(7)Agabus prophesying the famine (Acts 11:28); again appearing in the character of a prophet sixteen years later (Acts 21:10).

(8)The speech of Lycaonia as accounting for the surprise of Paul and Barnabas at the preparations for sacrifice (Acts 14:11-14).

(9)Conversion of Samaritans (Acts 8:14). Incidental mention of the brethren in Samaria (Acts 15:3).

(10)Men of Cyprus and Cyrene found the Church at Antioch (Acts 11:20). Barnabas of Cyprus sent to carry on the work (Acts 11:22). Lucius of Cyrene among the prophets of the Church (Acts 13:1).

(11)Philippi a colonia (Acts 16:12). Philippians speak of themselves as Romans (Acts 16:21).

(12)Trophimus the Ephesian (Acts 21:29) recognised by Jews of Asia, i.e., from Ephesus and its neighbourhood.

The list might, it is believed, be easily enlarged, but these will be sufficient to put the student on the track of a method which he can apply almost indefinitely in other instances for himself.[2]

[2] It lies on the surface that I am largely indebted in this part of my work to Paley’s Horœ Paulinœ. I wish also to acknowledge my obligation to Mr. Birks’s Horœ Apostolicœ.

VII. Sources of the History.—It will be assumed here that the use of the first person in parts of the history implies that the writer was then the companion of the Apostle whose labours he records. We have seen, in the Introduction to St. Luke, how far the facts that are thus implied brought the writer into contact with persons who could give him trustworthy information as to what he relates in his Gospel; it remains to be seen how far they point to the probable sources of his knowledge as to the events recorded in the Acts.

Acts 1-5. Philip the Evangelist (Acts 21:8-10), or Mnason of Cyprus (Acts 21:16), or others—and, in particular, the “women” of Luke 8:2—at Jerusalem.

Acts 6, 7. Philip or St. Paul.

Acts 8. Philip.

Acts 9. St. Paul.

Acts 10-11. 18. Philip.

Acts 11:19-30. St. Paul, or, probably, personal knowledge gained at Antioch.

Acts 12:1-19. John surnamed Mark (Colossians 4:10-14).

Acts 13:1-13. St. Paul, or Mark, or Mnason of Cyprus.

Acts 13:14-52; Acts 14. St. Paul; or, possibly, knowledge gained by Luke in person on his journey to Troas, or afterwards from Timotheus.

Acts 15, Acts 16:1-7. St. Paul, or, probably, personal knowledge, as staying at Antioch, and, possibly, going up to Jerusalem.

Acts 16:8-40. Personal knowledge.

Acts 17, 18. Probable communications from the brethren who came from Philippi to Thessalonica (Philippians 4:16), and again to Corinth (2Corinthians 11:9). General intercourse between the Romans of Philippi and the Roman Jews at Corinth.

Acts 19. St. Paul; or possibly Aristarchus and Gaius of Macedonia, or Tyrannus.

Acts 20-28. Personal knowledge.

Looking to the manner in which the Gospel begins with what has the character of a distinct document, so strongly marked by Hebraisms that it could scarcely have been written by a Greek writer, it is probable that the first five chapters of the Acts may, in like manner, have been incorporated from an earlier document, recording, like the later history of Hegesippus, the history of the Church of Jerusalem with a special fulness. It will, at any rate, be clear that at every step in the narrative we are able, in the Acts, as in the Gospel of the same writer, to point with a very high degree of probability to those who here also were “eye-witnesses and ministers of the Word” (Luke 1:2).

VIII. Its Bearing on the Mission - work, Organisation, and Worship of the Church.—(1) Mission-work. It will not, it is believed, be unprofitable to look at the records of the Acts of the Apostles as presenting the type and pattern for all future labours in the work of evangelising the world. It is obvious that the preaching of the Apostles is something very different from that of those who offer to men’s acceptance simply a lofty ideal of virtue or high-toned ethical precepts. The central fact of all their teaching is the resurrection of Christ (Acts 2:32-33; Acts 4:10; Acts 10:40-41; Acts 13:32-37; Acts 17:31; Acts 26:23). Upon that proclamation of a fact in the past they build their assurance that He will come again as the Judge of the living and the dead (Acts 3:21; Acts 10:42; Acts 17:31); that in the meantime He calls men to repent and believe in Him (Acts 2:38; Acts 5:31; Acts 10:43; Acts 13:38-39; Acts 14:15; Acts 17:30-31); and that thus they may receive remission of their sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38; Acts 8:15; Acts 10:45; Acts 19:2). They are naturally brought into contact, as they preach this gospel, with men of very different habits of thought, varying in their training, their knowledge, and their culture; and they adapt themselves, as far as lies in their power, to all these variations in their hearers. With the Jews of Jerusalem, Antioch in Pisidia, Corinth, and Rome, they draw their arguments almost exclusively from the correspondence between the acts and death and resurrection of Jesus with what had been written in the Law and Prophets as pointing to the coming Christ (Acts 2:14-36; Acts 3:19-26; Acts 7:2-53; Acts 13:17-41; Acts 28:23). With peasants, such as those at Lystra, they lay their foundation on what we should call the broad lines of a simple natural theology, and appeal to the goodness of God as manifested in the order of nature, in rain from heaven and fruitful seasons (Acts 14:15-17). With the Stoics and Epicureans of Athens, St. Paul (he alone, it may be, of the glorious company of the Apostles was fitted for that work) rises to the level of the occasion, and meets the thinkers on their own grounds, appeals to the witness of their own poets, and sets before them what we have ventured to call the outlines of a philosophy at once of worship and of human history (Acts 17:22-31).

And it may be noted how carefully in all these cases the preachers abstain from the weapons of terror and of ridicule which men have sometimes used in dealing with the heathen whom they were seeking to convert. There are no statements that the world outside the range of the gospel was sentenced to hopeless condemnation—that the forefathers of those to whom they preached were for ever in the dark prison of Gehenna. They recognised, on the contrary, that in every nation he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted with Him. (See Note on Acts 10:35). They speak of the times of ignorance which God “winked at” (Acts 17:30). They are no “blasphemers” even of the worship which they are seeking to supplant (Acts 19:37). They present the gospel to men’s minds as realising at once the conscious prophecies of Israel and the unconscious prophecies of heathenism. They come, it is true, with some weapons in which modern missionaries are wanting. They claim to work signs and wonders as attestations of their divine mission (Acts 3:6-7; Acts 5:15; Acts 6:8; Acts 8:13; Acts 9:34-40; Acts 14:10; Acts 19:12; Acts 28:5-8); but they lay far less stress on these than on the “demonstration of the Spirit”—the prophecy that reveals the secrets of the heart, the conscious experience of the power of that Spirit to give a new peace and a new purity to souls that had been alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that was in them (Acts 2:38-39; Acts 11:17-18; Romans 8:23-26; 1Corinthians 2:4).

(2) Organisation and Worship. And, it may be noted further, they do not rest satisfied with the conversion of individuals as such, nor with leaving with each believer a book or a rule of life for his own personal guidance. Everywhere they seek to organise a society: the “brethren,” the “disciples,” the “saints,” are formed into a church—i.e., an ecclesia, or congregation; and that society receives a distinct and definite constitution. Elders, otherwise known as bishops (Acts 20:28; Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:5; Titus 1:7), are appointed in every city (Acts 11:30; Acts 14:23; Acts 20:17), to teach, and preside in worship, and administer the discipline and laws of the congregation. There are ministers or deacons under them, who assist in baptising, in the subordinate offices of worship, in the relief of the sick and poor, and, if they have special gifts, in preaching the gospel to Jews and heathen, and teaching converts also (Acts 6:3-6; Philippians 1:1; 1Timothy 3:8). The Apostles appoint both elders and deacons, with the consent—and therefore the implied right of veto—of the congregation, and exercise over them an authority analogous to that of the later bishops (Acts 14:23; Acts 20:17). There is an organisation of the charity of the Church on the basis of systematic almsgiving; and the Apostles, and, in their absence, the bishop-elders of the Church, act, where necessary, with the help of others as representing the laity of the Church, as treasurers and almoners (Acts 4:37; Acts 5:2). The disciples meet to break bread, as their Lord had commanded, on the evening of every day; afterwards, as the Church included men of various classes and employments, on that of the first day of the week—probably, i.e., on Saturday evening (Acts 2:46; Acts 20:7); and the history of the institution of what came to be known as the Supper of the Lord formed the centre of the celebration of that feast (1Corinthians 11:23-26). The feast itself was preceded by a solemn blessing, and closed with a solemn thanksgiving. Psalms, hymns, and unpremeditated bursts of praise, chanted in the power of the Spirit, such as those of the gift of tongues, were the chief elements of the service (Acts 4:24-30; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). The right of utterance was not denied to any man (women even seem at first to have been admitted to the same right; Acts 21:9; 1Corinthians 11:5) who possessed the necessary gifts (1Corinthians 14:26-33) and was ready to submit them to the control of the presiding elder or Apostle. There were in the unwritten traditions of the Church; in its oral teaching as to our Lord’s life and teaching (1Corinthians 11:23; 1Corinthians 15:1-8); as in its rules of discipline and worship (2Thessalonians 2:15; 2Thessalonians 3:6); in the “faithful sayings” which were received as axioms of its faith (1Timothy 1:15; 1Timothy 4:9; 2Timothy 2:11; Titus 3:8), the germs at once of the creeds, the canons, the liturgies, the systematic theology of the future. It is, lastly, instructive and suggestive to note that throughout the history there is no record of any effort to set apart a separate place of worship for the members of the new society. They meet in private houses (Acts 2:46; Acts 20:8; Romans 16:5; Romans 16:15; Romans 16:23; 1Corinthians 16:19), or in a hired class-room (Acts 19:9), as opportunities present themselves. There would apparently have been no difficulty in their claiming the privilege which Roman rulers conceded freely to other Jews and proselytes, of erecting a synagogue of their own; but they left this to come in due course afterwards. Their own work was of a different and higher kind. They were anxious rather to found and edify the society which, as built of “living stones,” was to be the temple of the living God, than, in the modern sense of the term, to be the builders of churches.

IX. Its Bearing on the Church History of the Future.—Nor is the record which we owe to St. Luke less instructive considered as the first volume of the history of Christendom. Fairly considered, while it brings before us the picture of primitive Christianity as a pattern to be followed in its essential features, it is as far as possible from presenting it as a golden age of unalloyed and unapproachable perfection. It tells us of men who were of like passions with ourselves, not free from the bitterness of personal quarrels (Acts 15:39), or from controversies in which party was arrayed against party on a question on which each held that it was contending for a vital truth (Acts 15:1-5). It records, as if with an unconscious prevision of future? controversies, how that dispute ended in an amicable compromise, each party making concessions, within certain well-defined limits, to its opponents, neither insisting on what an inexorable logic might have looked on as the necessary conclusion from its premises (Acts 15:23-30). The writer tends, partly by his natural instincts, partly of deliberate purpose, to dwell on the points of agreement between men rather than on their points of difference; to bring out the good which was to be found in men of different degrees of culture and very varied training. Peter, James, Apollos, Paul, are not for him what they were for so many others—leaders of parties, rivals for allegiance. He is able to recognise in each and all men who are ministers of Christ, fitted for the work of that ministry by the gift of the Holy Ghost. And in striking contrast to the martyrologists and other annalists of the Church who followed him, he avoids what we may call the sensational element of history; does not dwell (with the one marked exception of St. Stephen) on the deaths and sufferings of the disciples; understates the work, the hardships, and the perils of the Apostle who is the chief figure in his history; aims rather at presenting the results of the actual contest between the new and the old societies, now favourable and now quite otherwise, than at representing the two as in irreconcilable enmity. There is, so to speak, a hopefulness and healthiness of tone, which contrasts favourably with that of later writers after the sword of systematic persecution had been unsheathed, or even in some measure with that of the later writings of the New Testament, such as the Epistles of St. Peter and the Apocalypse, and which may fairly be allowed some weight as evidence for the early date of its composition.


It will, it is believed, be helpful to the reader to have before him something like a general survey of the history of the Apostolic Age, indicating, at least approximately, the probable succession of events, and the relation which they bore to what then occupied the minds of men as the prominent facts in the history of the world in which they lived; and with this view the following Table has been compiled. Where the dates are uncertain, and have therefore been variously placed, the doubt is indicated by a note of interrogation (?).









Tiberius, from A.D. 14.

The Day of Pentecost, May (?). (Other dates, varying from A. D. 30-33, have been assigned for this.)

Pontius Pilate, Procurator of Judæa from A.D. 26.

Caiaphas from A.D. 25, son-in-law of Annas, or Ananus.







Death of Sejanus.



The growth of the Church as described in Acts 2-5. may be referred to this period, but there are no data for going further into detail.

Tiberius at Capreæ. New Sibylline books brought under notice of Senate.



Drusus, son of Germanicus, starved to death



Vitellius, Prefect of Syria.

Phœnix reported to have been seen in Egypt.



Vitellius in Mesopotamia.



Martyrdom of Stephen (?).

Philo at Alexandria.




Peter and John in Samaria. Conversion of Saul.

Herod Agrippa I.

Jonathan, son of Ananus.

Aretas in possession of Damascus.



Conversion of Cornelius. Saul at Damascus.

Theophilus, son of Ananus.

Philo’s mission to Rome.



Saul at Damascus.

Herod Antipas goes to Rome, and is banished to Gaul. Birth of Lucan.



Paul at Jerusalem and Tarsus.

Petronius, Prefect of Syria.

Caligula orders his statue to be set up in the Temple of Jerusalem. Philo at Rome.




Barnabas sent to Antioch. See of Rome founded by St. Peter (??).

Simon Cantheras.

Birth of Titus.



Paul at Antioch. Disciples called Christians.

Matthias, son of Ananus.

Herod Agrippa made King of Judæa by Claudius.



Paul and Barnabas go to Jerusalem. The Gospel according to St. Matthew (??).

Elionæus, son of Cantharas.

Claudius conquers Britain.



Death of James the son of Zebedee. Peter imprisoned.

Cuspius Fadus, Procurator of Judæa.

Death of Herod Agrippa at Cæsarea. Plautius in Britain.



Paul and Barnabas in Cyprus. Epistle of St. James (?).

Joseph, son of Canis.

Apollonius of Tyana in India and Persia.



Paul and Barnabas in Pisidia and Lycaonia.

Tiberius Alexander, Procurator of Judæa.



Paul and Barnabas return to Antioch.

Ventidius Cumanus, Procurator of Judæa.

Ananias, son of Nebedius.

Ludi sœculares at Rome. Plautius returns from Britain.



Death of Messalina. Claudius under the influence of Narcissus and Pallas.



Paul’s dispute with Peter (??).

Herod Agrippa II., King of Chalcis.

Herod. Agrippa II. made King of Chalcis. Seneca appointed as Nero’s tutor. Jews banished from Rome.



Council at Jerusalem. Paul and Barnabas return with Silas to Antioch.

Caractacus captive in Rome. Foundation of Cologne by Agrippina.



Paul and Silas start on another mission. Paul’s dispute with Peter (?).

Felix, Procurator of Judæa.

Burrus made Prefect of the Praetorian Guards. Astrologers expelled from Italy.



Paul at Philippi, Thessalonica, Berœa, Athens, Corinth.

Herod. Agrippa II., King of Batanæa and Trachonitis.

Herod Agrippa II. made King of Batanæa and Trachonitis.



Paul at Corinth. First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians·

Marriage of Nero with Octavia.




Paul’s journey to Ephesus, Cæsarea, Jerusalem, Antioch. Apollos at Ephesus. Dispute with Peter (?).


Narcissus put to death by Nero.



Apollos at Corinth. Paul in Asia.



Tumult at Ephesus (May). First Epistle to the Corinthians. Paul in Macedonia. Epistle to the Galatians. Second Epistle to the Corinthians.

Tumult in Judæa, headed by the Egyptian of Acts 21:38, Birth of Trajan.



Paul at Corinth. Epistle to the Romans. Journey to Jerusalem (April, May). Trial before Felix.

Trial of Pomponia Graecina.




Paul at Cæsarea.

Paul at Cæsarea.

Ishmael, son of Phabi.

Poppæa Sabina, Nero’s mistress. Agrippina, Nero’s mother, put to death.




Paul at Cæsarea. Appeal to Cæsar. Voyage to Italy.

Porcius Festus, Procurator of Judæa.



Paul at Melita. Arrives at Rome (April), Lives in his own house.

Joseph Cabi.

Revolt in Britain, under Boadicea, Queen of the Iceoni. Apollonius of Tyana at the Olympic Games.



Paul at Borne. Epistle to the Philipplans.

Albinus, Procurator of Judæa.


Burrus dies, and is succeeded by Tigellinus. Persius dies. Josephus at Rome.



Paul at Rome. Epistles to the Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon. Release. First Epistie of St. Poter.

Jesus, son of Damnæus.

Earthquakes in Asia Minor.



Paul in Spain (?), Asia (?), Nicopolis (?). First and Second Epistles to Timothy. The Gospel according to St. Luke and Acts of the Apostles (?). Epistle to Titus. Second Epistle of St. Peter.Jude.

Gessius Florus, Procurator of Judæa.

Great fire at Rome. Persecution of Christians.



Death of Paul and Peter (?) at Rome. Linus Bishop of Rome (?).

Seneca and Lucan put to death by Nero. Death of Poppæa,



Epistle to the Hbrews (?). The Gospel according to St. Matthew (?).

Nero in Greece. Apollonius of Tyana ordered to leave Rome. Martial at Rome.



Death of Peter and Paul (?).The Gospel according to St. Mark. Epistle of St. James (??).

Josephus gains favour with Vespasian after the capture of Jotapata.




St. John in Patmos (?). The Apocalypse (?).

Vespasian takes Jericho.



Otho. Vitellius. Vespasian.

Death of James, the Bishop of Jerusalem (?).



Simeon Bishop of Jerusalem; Ignatius of Antioch (?).

The Capitol rebuilt by Vespasian. Jerusalem taken by Titus (Aug. 31). Josephus released.



Temple of Janus closed. Destruction of the Onias Temple in Egypt. Triumph of Titus and Vespasian.







Berenice at Rome with Vespasian and Titus. Philosophers banished from Rome.




Temple of Peace at Rome dedicated by Vespasian.

Coliseum begun. Birth of Hadrian.






Cletus Bishop of Rome (?).

Britain conquered by Agrícola.




Pompeii and Herculaneum destroyed. Death of Pliny the Elder.



Epistle of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians (??)

Coliseum finished. Pestilence and fire at Rome. Baths of Titus built.








Domitian banishes all philosophers from Rome.



Agricola in Caledonia.





Antoninus Pius born.





Quintilian at Rome from A.D. 68





Philosophers again banished from Rome, Epictetus among them.



Clement Bishop of Rome.





St. John thrown into boiling oil before the Latin Gate (??).

Death of Agricola and Josephus.



Juvenal banished.



Epistle of Clement (?). The Apocalypse (??). Flavius Clemens put to death. Domitilla banished.

Grandsons of the brethren of the Lord brought before Domitian.




The three Epistles of St. John (?).



The Gospel according to St. John (?).

Death of Apollonius of Tyana.




Cerdon Bishop of Alexandria; Ignatius of Antioch; Simon of Jerusalem.

Pliny and Plutarch in favour with Trajan.



Death of St. John (?).



Death of St. John (?).

Pliny’s Panegyric on Trajan. Martial retires to Spain.




THE date of St. Paul’s arrival at Rome may be fixed, with little risk of error, in the spring of A.D. 61. Festus had gone to the province of Judæa, according to the computation of the best chronologists, in the autumn of A.D. 60. He had lost no time in despatching the arrears of business which Felix had left behind him, had inquired at once into the Apostle’s case, and, on his appealing to the Emperor, had sent him off. Then came the voyage, the shipwreck, the three winter months at Melita, and, early in the spring, the voyage to Puteoli, and the land journey to Rome. It was the seventh year of Nero’s reign, the twenty-fourth of his life. The emperor had already begun to show the baseness and cruelty of his nature. The murder of his mother, Agrippina, by his orders, had been perpetrated in the previous year. False rumours had been circulated as to the manner of her death, but the letter which Nero sent to the Senate, giving his account of it, and which Seneca was suspected of having helped to write, heaped up charges of crimes, old and new, on the memory of the wretched woman, so that it seemed to men almost as an apology for matricide (Tacit. Ann. xiv. 4-12).[5] Even Burrus, hoping still to retain some hold on him, had congratulated him on his deliverance from a great and standing danger (Tacit. Ann. xiv. 10). Poppæa, after her fashion, half a proselyte to Judaism (Jos. Life, c. 3), was living with the emperor, as his mistress, in his palace on the Palatine Hill. The supreme passion of his life was an insane desire for popular applause. To gain this, descending step by step to lower and lower depths, he drove his chariots in an enclosed circus on the site now occupied by the Vatican. He played on the lyre, and sung his odes at supper. He instituted games known as Juvenalia on attaining to the dignity of a beard, and men of the highest rank were compelled to bear their part in representing, in dramas or in tableaux, the foulest and most prurient of the myths of Greece. The emperor and his lyre were conspicuous everywhere (Tacit. Ann. xiv. 14). A body-guard of the equestrian order was formed (probably the Augustan band of Acts 27:1), who acted as his claqueurs, and led the applause of the multitude. Centurions and tribunes had to attend officially at spectacles which seemed to them to dishonour the Roman name. Even Burrus, “consenting thus far to avoid worse deeds,” stood by, praising with his lips and groaning in his soul (Tacit. Ann. xiv. 15). By way of showing the extent and variety of his culture, he gave his leisure also to painting and to poetry. He would cap verses or display his skill as an impro-visatore among his companions. As if he had not altogether forgotten the teaching of Seneca, he would summon philosophers after a banquet and listen to them as they discussed their theories as to the chief good and true law of duty (ibid. c. 16).

[5] May we see a passing reference to Nero’s guilt in the mention of “murderers of mothers” in 1 Timothy 1?

With this form of life, entering into various relations with those who were, in greater or less measure, sharers in it, St. Paul was now brought into contact. Strange as it may sound, it presented, in some degree, a more favourable opening for his work than if he had found Rome under a wise and vigorous rule, like Trajan or Aurelius. Poppæa was, as has been said, a proselyte to Judaism, a patroness of Jews. Aliturius, a Jew (a Jew taking his part in the mimes of Nero!), was high in the emperor’s favour as an actor. When Josephus came, in the second year of St. Paul’s stay in Rome, he found that he had a friend at Court. He obtained the liberation of some priests whom Felix had sent as prisoners to Rome, and returned laden with gifts which Poppæa had presented him (Jos. Life, c. 3). The names in Romans 16 coinciding, as they do largely, with those in the Columbaria of the imperial household on the Appian Way, confirm the natural inference from Philippians 4:22 as to the presence of Christians, some Gentiles and some of the Circumcision, among the freed-men of the palace.[6] And St. Paul, we must remember, was in Rome as a Jew, and the favour thus shown to other Jews would naturally be extended to him also. And we have seen that there was no lack of friends: Aquila and Priscilla, and Rufus and his mother, probably the wife of Simon of Cyrcne (see Note on Mark 15:21), and the slaves and freed-men of Narcissus,[7] and Tryphena, and Tryphosa, and probably Phœbe also. And with these, we may believe on good grounds, there were others. Only four years before (A.D. 57) the conqueror of Britain. Aulus Plautius, brought his wife before a family tribunal as accused of holding “a foreign superstition.” She was acquitted by her husband’s judgment, but her habits before and after the trial, for forty years (she died A.D. 83), were those of an outward unworldly life and of continual sorrow (Tacit. Ann. xiii. 32). The “foreign superstition “may have been only Judaism or some Oriental cultus, like that of Isis and Serapis, but the vague way in which it is described suggests the idea of a new religion rather than of one with which men were already familiar, and it does not seem an over-bold inference to rest in the conclusion that she was a Christian.

[6] A list of names may be given as common to both lists, or found in other like records :—Amplias, Urbanus, Stachys, Apelles, Aristobulus, Narcissus, Tryphena, Tryphosa, Hermes, Hermas, Patrobas, Philologus, and Nereus (Lightfoot, Philipp, pp. 169-176.) To these may be added Tyehicus, Trophimus, Onesimus, Dorcas among New Testament names. (Comp. Notes on Acts 9:36; Acts 20:4.)

[7] Narcissus, the freed-man and favourite of Claudius, had been put to death by Nero (A.D. 54), but the household may have continued to be kept by some member of the family. An interesting inscription records the name of Dikœosyne (=Righteousness) the wife of T. Claudius Narcissus, who is described as pientissima et frugalissima (“most devout, and simple in her life”). The name is not, so far as I know, found elsewhere. Was it taken by one who had learnt from the preachers of the gospel what true righteousness consisted in? (Muratori, Inscriptt. 1325; Orelli, 720.) The appearance of new names in the epitaphs of the Roman catacombs, expressing new thoughts and hopes, is singularly suggestive. Elpis (=Hope), Euphrosyne (=Joy), Redempta, Simplicitas, Eusebius (=Devout), Kyriakos (=the Lord’s), may be noted as examples.

And connected with Pomponia there were probably two other converts. The names of Claudia and Pudens are coupled together in the salutation of 2Timothy 4:21. They are coupled together as husband and wife in the epigrams of Martial. And the Pudens of Martial bears the name of Aulus, and he is married to Claudia, and Claudia is descended from the blue-eyed and fair-haired Britons (Epig. xi. 53). Martial, usually so scurrilous in his jests, treats them both with a marked respect. He writes an epithalamium on their union, and, instead of licentious innuendoes, utters his wishes thus:—

“O Concord, bless their couch for evermore,

Be with them in thy snow-white purity,

Let Venus grant, from out her choicest store,

All gifts that suit their married unity;

When he is old may she be fond and true,

And she in age the charms of youth renew.”

—Epig. iv. 13.

A child is born to them, and he is again ready with his salutations to the father—

“Grant, O ye gods, that she may ever prove

The bliss of mother over girl and boy;

Still gladdened by her pious husband’s love,

And in her children And perpetual joy.”

—Epig. xi. 53.

He jestingly remonstrates with Pudens for objecting to the coarseness of his epigrams—

“You urge me, Pudens, to take pen in hand,

And prune and purge these epigrams of mine;

How much thou lov’st them now I understand,

When thou would’st have each quip a faultless line.”

—Epig. vii. 11.

He has been ill while Pudens was absent in the north, and has sighed for his presence—

“Yea, all but snatched where flow the gloomy streams,

I saw the clouds that shroud the Elysian plain;

Still for thy face I groaned in weary dreams,

And cold lips ‘Pudens, Pudens’ cried in vain.”

—Epig. vi. 58.

The juxtaposition of the two names, and the character thus assigned to those who bore them, justify us, I believe, here also, in spite of some difficulties that have been raised on chronological or other grounds, in identifying them with those whom St. Paul mentions.

The chronological difficulty lies in the fact that Martial, born in Spain, circ. A.D. 40, did not come to Rome till A.D. 66, nor collect his epigrams till A.D. 86. It is clear, however, that the former date, the very year after St. Paul’s death, is certainly not incompatible with his knowing St. Paul’s Claudia and Pudens, and the collected poems may well have ranged over the whole period of his stay in Rome. It is perfectly inconceivable that such a man could have lived in Rome for twenty years without writing epigrams. It may be added that the identification does not assume that Pudens and Claudia were married when St. Paul wrote the Second Epistle to Timothy (A.D. 66), but only that both were then disciples of Christ. If Martial came to Rome in A.D. 66 he might, therefore, have known the young officer before his marriage, and written his congratulatory lines shortly afterwards. The insertion of the name of Linus between Pudens and Claudia is, as far as it goes, against the hypothesis that they were at that period husband and wife.

Another objection has been taken to the identification, on the moral ground that, in some of his epigrams, Martial insinuates that his Pudens shared in the foul immorality of his time. It is not expedient to examine such a question in detail, but it will be found that the incidents to which he alludes (there is literally nothing more than the fact that a young slave of Pudens had cut his hair as a votive offering[8]) admit, in themselves, of a perfectly innocent interpretation, and that the innuendoes are but the scurril jests of a tainted mind coming into contact with a purity which it cannot comprehend.[9] They deserve no more attention than the analogous charges which were whispered against St. Paul (see Note on 2Corinthians 7:2), or those which were brought against Athanasius and Hooker. Such charges are often, indeed, brought against the pure in proportion to their purity.

[8] The cutting of the hair may, indeed, even have been, after St. Paul’s example (Acts 18:18), the completion of a Nazarite vow.

[9] It is right, perhaps, to state that Dean Merivale (St. Paul at Rome, p. 149) looks on the supposed Christianity of Pomponia as a “hypothesis of the flimsiest character,” and rejects the conclusions drawn as to Claudia and Pudens on the strength of objections to which I seem to myself to have given a sufficient answer.

Further coincidences connect themselves with an inscription discovered in Chichester in A.D. 1723, which runs thus:—

To Neptune and Minerva

This Temple

For the welfare of the Divine (i.e., the Imperial) House,

By the authority of

Tiberius Claudius Cogidubnus

Legate of Augustus (i.e., the Emperor) in Britain,

The Guild of Smiths and those in it

Who minister in sacred things, have

At their own cost dedicated,

The site being given by

Pudens the son of Pudentinus.

Cogidubnus, we learn from Tacitus (Agricola, c. xiv.), was king of the Regni, a tribe occupying the modern Sussex, and was the faithful ally of Rome under Claudius, when Aulus Plautius, the husband of Pomponia. was governor of Britain (A.D. 43-52).[10] His daughter, if he had one, would naturally bear the name of Claudia. We find him connected with a Pudens; and it is, to say the least, a highly probable inference that the attachment of the latter to his British bride began during a service in the North prior to that of which Martial speaks, and that she came to Rome under the protection of Pomponia, and, embracing the same faith, was married to her lover.

[10] A note is, perhaps, necessary as to the dates thus given. If this, it has been urged, gives the limits of the date of the inscription, then Martial was a boy of ten when Pudens was old enough to be an officer in Britain, and was therefore not likely to have been on the terms of intimacy with him which the epigrams indicate. The date of the inscription, however, may have been considerably later. Cogidubnus was the ally of Rome for many years after the conquest of Caractacus by Ostorius Scapula (Tacit. Ann. xii. 11), and even as Tacitus says “within his own memory.” The temple to which the inscription refers may easily therefore have been erected, say, circ. A.D. 60-64.

It may be well to mention another, though less probable, coujecture, that Claudia was the daughter of Caractacus, who had been brought to Rome, with his wife and children, under Claudius, and that Linus was identical with the Llin who appears in Welsh hagiography as the son of Caractacus (Lewin, St. Paul, ii. 397).

St. Paul’s acquaintance with Pudens may have begun through Pomponia; but it is also probable that, through the courteous kindness of the centurion Julius, himself of the Augustan band (see Note on Acts 27:1), he was commended to the favourable notice of Burrus, the Prefect of the Prætorian camp; and that thus, and through the frequent change of soldiers who kept guard over him, his bonds in Christ would become known (as he says) through the whole Praetorian barracks[11] (Philippians 1:13), and that this may have either originated or strengthened their friendship.

[11] The Greek word is Prœtorium, on which see Note on Matthew 27:27.

Did the Apostle become acquainted with the great philosophic thinker Seneca, the friend of Burrus, who, though his influence was waning, still endeavoured to reach the mind of Nero by writing ethical treatises for his benefit? We cannot return a decisive answer to that question. Letters were extant in the fourth century, and are mentioned by Jerome as very widely read (Vir. Illust. xii.), purporting to be a correspondence between Seneca and St. Paul; and though these are certainly apocryphal, the fact of the forgery may well have rested on some tradition of intercourse between the two. The numerous parallelisms of thought and language between the two writers (comp. Lightfoot’s Philippians: “Excursus on St. Paul and Seneca”) may be accidental, but they at least suggest the probability of some communication, direct or indirect. One who saw as clearly as St. Paul did the weak and the strong points of Stoicism, and was necessarily known to Seneca’s friend, was not likely to remain altogether outside the range of his acquaintance. If we adopt the suggestion already made (see Introduction to St. Luke’s Gospel), that there was some previous connection between the Lucas or Lucanus who was St. Paul’s companion and the poet who was Seneca’s nephew, the probability becomes yet stronger; nor can we quite exclude the probability that Gallio, Seneca’s brother, who was now at Rome, and in high favour with the emperor, may have renewed his acquaintance with the Apostle. (See Note on Acts 18:17.) The traditional identification of Clement of Rome with the Clement of Philippians 4:3, presents some serious chronological difficulties which have led Dr. Lightfoot (Philipp., Exo. on 4:3) to reject it. Apart from this, however, it is in the nature of things probable that those who were appointed to take the oversight of the Church of Rome after the death of the Apostles would be men who had known St. Paul; and we may, therefore, think, with no undue boldness of conjecture, of his knowing Linus, who, indeed, is named in 2Timothy 4:21, and who became bishop in A.D. 66, and Cletus, or Anacletus (A.D. 79), and possibly Clement also (A.D. 91).[12] The full name of this last, Titus Flavius Clemens, indicates that he was probably the first convert of the Flavian imperial house, which in Vespasian and Titus had been brought into close contact with Judaism, and which under Domitian furnished, in Flavius Clemens the Consul and his sister Flavia Doraitilla, two illustrious sufferers for the new faith.

[12] The succession and dates are given, it must be remembered, as only approximately correct. The origines of the Church of Rome are singularly obscure and uncertain.

Leaving these interesting, even if they are also precarious, inferences, we pass to the more solid ground of the statements in St. Paul’s own writings.

A year or more passed, during which he was waiting for his appeal to be heard, and which we cannot fill up with any accurate precision. Timotheus, his true son in the faith, joined him soon after his arrival, or possibly was even one of his companions in the voyage (Philippians 1:1). Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, came to him; Luke, the beloved physician, and Aristarchus remained with him. Linus, whose name appears in the list of Roman bishops as St. Peter’s successor, and who was probably even then exercising some pastoral functions, is named as in the same circle of friends with Claudia and Pudens (2Timothy 4:21); and Eubulus may well have been another presbyter. A Jew named Jesus, and bearing (probably, as in other cases, as a recognition of character) the surname of Justus, and Demas, were among his fellow-workers (Colossians 4:10-14). Onesiphorus, probably an Ephesian freed-man (the name, like that of Onesimus, indicates his class), found out his lodging, was not ashamed of his chain, and ministered to him diligently there, as he had done, or did afterwards, at Ephesus (2Timothy 1:16). Onesimus, the runaway slave of Philemon of Colossæ, at one time joined apparently with St. Paul in a partnership, as Aquila and Priscilla had been (Philemon 1:17; Acts 18:3), had come to him, had been converted by him, had ministered to him with the loyalty and affection of a son (Philemon 1:10-12). Either with him or about this time came Epaphras, as a messenger from the churches of the valley of the Lycus—Colossae, Laodicea, and Hiera-polis (Colossians 4:12). Tychicus (see Note on Acts 20:4), the Ephesian, who had gone with him to Jerusalem, or at least to Ephesus, had also found his way to him (Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7). Nor was the Apostle without communications from the Macedonian churches who were so dearly loved by him. Possibly in the “true yoke-fellow” of Philippians 4:3 we may trace a temporary return of St. Luke to the church with which he had been so closely connected.[13] If so, his stay was short, and he returned afterwards to Rome, where we find him when the Apostle writes to the Colossians (Colossians 4:14). In the meantime Epaphroditus (the name is that from which Epaphras is contracted, but the difference in the two forms indicates almost certainly difference of persons) had come bearing gifts, probably in money. which were sent by the Philippian converts to their beloved teacher (Philippians 4:10-17), as they had sent to him some ten years before, when he was at Thessalonica, and afterwards, probably, at Corinth also (2Corinthians 11:9). Epaphroditus, while at Rome, had been sick nigh unto death[14] (Philippians 2:27), and there had been time for a messenger to go from Rome to Philippi reporting his sickness, and bring back tidings of the anxiety of the Church there (Philippians 2:25-28). It was not in St. Paul’s nature to neglect the opportunities which thus presented themselves for reopening communication with the churches from which he had now for some two or three years been parted. The first of these letters of the Imprisonment was in all probability the EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS.[15] When he wrote it he was exulting in the spread of the gospel. It was becoming known at once in the Praetorian camp, and among the slaves and freed-men of the Palace of the Caesars (Philippians 1:13; Philippians 4:22). His personal defence was becoming identified with the apologia of the gospel (Philippians 1:17) There were, indeed, darker shades in the picture. There were some—probably of the party of the Circumcision, or, as he calls them, as if they were unworthy of the old time-honoured word, of the “concision” (Philippians 3:2), “dogs,” tainted, as the word implies (comp. Deuteronomy 23:18; Revelation 22:15), by sharing, as did Aliturius and the other Jews who hung about Poppæa, in the shameless license of the time—who preached Christ, i.e., made his name known, in the-spirit of contentious rivalry, and sought to add affliction to the Apostle’s bonds. He was hoping, however, to be released shortly, and to revisit his Philippian friends. In the meantime he would send Timotheus, as soon as-he saw his way clearly to the probable course of events. He would, at all events, not delay to send Epaphroditus with a letter (Philippians 2:19-30). Probably about a year passed between this and the next letters, the EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS, TO THE COLOSSIANS, and TO PHILEMON. The three were manifestly written at the same time. Tychicus is the bearer both of the letter to the Ephesians, itself probably an encyclical letter to the churches of Asia, and of that to the Colossians. Epaphras, in his turn, is connected with the Epistle to the Colossians and that to Philemon (Colossians 1:7; Colossians 4:12), and Timothy also is with St. Paul when he writes these last (Colossians 1:1; Philemon 1:1). In the interval that had passed since the letter to the Philippians was despatched, Burrus had fallen a victim to the emperor’s suspicions, and had been succeeded by the infamous Tigellinus (Tacit. Ann. xiv. 51, 57). The influence of Seneca was waning, and that of Poppæa was more and more in the ascendant (ibid. xiv. 52). Octavia was formally repudiated, banished to the island of Pandataria (now Santa Maria), and finally murdered (ibid. xiv. 63), while the Senate welcomed the birth of Poppæa’s child as though it were a gift from heaven (ibid. xv. 23). It does not appear, however, that these changes affected St. Paul’s condition for the worse. Though he was still the prisoner of the Lord (Ephesians 3:1; Ephesians 4:1), an “ambassador in bonds” (Ephesians 6:20), he was not less hopeful than before as to his release, when he sent Tychicus and his companions with their Epistles. He formed the plan of visiting the churches of Colossæ and Laodicea. He wrote to Philemon, as if looking forward to resuming his partnership with him, to prepare him a lodging at the first-named city (Philemon 1:22).

[13] The “yoke-fellow” has also been identified with Lydia, but see Note on Philippians 4:3.

[14] It is not without interest to note the fact that Rome was visited about this time by a violent epidemic, a catarrh with inflammation of the tonsils. Nero was one of the sufferers; he lost his voice, and sacrifices were offered in the temples for his recovery (Philostr. Life of Apollonius, iv. 44).

[15] I follow Dr. Lightfoot in this order of the Epistles of the first imprisonment. Some writers, however, place the Epistle to the Philippians as the last of the four.

If we accept the PASTORAL EPISTLES as genuine, we are led partly by their style, partly by the difficulty of fitting them into any earlier period of St. Paul’s life, partly by the traces they present of a later stage of development both of truth and error, to assign them to a date subsequent to the two years of the imprisonment of Acts 28:30. This leads, in its turn, to the conclusion that he was released from that imprisonment, and started on a fresh journey. How his release was brought about we do not know. His appeal may have come on for hearing, after the long two years’ delay, and, in the absence of any “respondents appearing, personally or by counsel, against it, have been allowed. This seems, at any rate, more probable than the picture drawn by some writers (Conybeare and Howson, St. Paul, c. xxvii.; Lewin, ii., p. 380) of a formal trial before the emperor, with priests from the Sanhedrin, and Alexander the coppersmith as prosecutor, Jews from Asia as witnesses, and an advocate like Tertullus to conduct the case against him. A curious synchronism, however, suggests the thought that there may have been wheels within wheels, working to bring about this result. Josephus, the Jewish historian, then in his twenty-seventh year, came to Rome about the close of the second year of St. Paul’s confinement. He was shipwrecked, on his voyage, picked up by a ship of Cyrene, landed at Puteoli, and made his way to Rome. His main object in coming was, he says, to obtain the release of certain priests who had been sent to Home by Felix as prisoners, and he accomplished his purpose through the influence of Poppæa, to whom he was introduced by Aliturius, the Jewish actor, already mentioned (Jos. Life, c. 3). May we not think it probable that St. Paul reaped the benefit of a general order for the release of Jewish prisoners sent by the Procurator of Palestine obtained through this instrumentality? The reticence of Josephus in regard to the Christian Church, the Gamaliel-like tone in which he speaks (not to dwell on passages of doubtful genuineness) of John the Baptist and of James the Bishop of Jerusalem (Ant. xviii. 5, § 2; xx. 9, § 1), his avowed Pharisaism, the tone in which he speaks of Ananias of Damascus (see Note on Acts 9:10), all make it probable that he would, at least, not be unwilling that the Apostle, “a Pharisee and son of a Pharisee,” should share in the freedom which he had obtained for others.

As regards the details of this last journey we are again dependent upon inferences more or less precarious. It is clear that, if he left Rome at all, it must have been before the great fire and the persecution of the Christians which followed on it, and from which a prisoner in St. Paul’s position could scarcely have escaped—probably, therefore, about the close of A.D. 63 or the beginning of 64. A vague phrase of Clement of Rome (1 Ep. ad Cor. c. 5), stating that he travelled to the “furthest limits of the West,” has given rise to wild conjectures. On the one hand, looking to the connection with natives of Britain already traced, and to the fact that the epithet ultimi was commonly applied to them, it has been contended that he preached the gospel in this island. A more probable hypothesis is that he started, on his release, to carry into effect his long-intended journey to Spain, to which the epithet “limit of the West” would be nearly as applicable. There, especially at Corduba (now Cordova), he would find many Jews, and Luke, as we have seen (Introduction to St. Luke’s Gospel), had probably earlier points of contact with it. Of such a journey to Spain we find traces in the Muratorian Fragment (see Vol. I., p. xiii.), which speaks of St. Paul as ab urbe ad Spaniam proficiscentis, and the language of Jerome, who echoes Clement’s phrase, stating that he had been set free that he might preach the gospel in Occidentis quoque partibus (Cat. Script. Illusi. “Paulus”), and of Chrysostom (on 2 Timothy 4), who says that “after being in Rome he went on for Spain,” shows that the tradition was widely accepted. In our own time it has been received even by some critics who do not admit the genuineness of the Pastoral Epistles (Ewald, Geschichte Israel, vi. 621, 631; Renan, L’Antechrist, p. 106). We have seen reason to fix the liberation of St. Paul in A.D. 63 or 64, i.e., in the tenth or eleventh year of the reign of Nero. The date of his death is fixed by Jerome in the emperor’s fourteenth year, i.e., in A.D. 66 or 67. We have, therefore, a period of between two or three years towards which we have only the scanty materials furnished—assuming their genuineness—by the Pastoral Epistles. To these, accordingly we turn. They indicate, as might have been expected, that St. Paul was eager to revisit the Greek and Asiatic churches from which he had so long been separated. Timotheus and Luke, who were with him towards the close of his first imprisonment, were probably his companions in travel. They came—if from Corduba, probably by sea from Gades, and through the Straits of Gibraltar, probably taking Crete on the way (Titus 1:5)—to Ephesus. The state of things there was altered greatly for the worse. The grievous wolves, some of them in sheep’s clothing, had done their worst. Hymenæus, and Philetus, and Alexander were conspicuous as the teachers of heresies that led practically to a denial of the Christian’s hope, and the Apostle felt that he had no alternative but to pronounce the sentence which cut them off from Christian fellowship and exposed them to the supernatural chastisements in which lay the only hope of their reformation (1Timothy 1:20; 2Timothy 2:17-18). Alexander the coppersmith, probably altogether distinct from the heretic of the same name, succeeded in stirring up the passions of men against him (2Timothy 4:14), and “wrought him much evil.” Everywhere in Asia (the proconsular province of that name) he met averted glances, even, where, as in the case of Phygellus and Hermogenes, he might have expected better things (2Timothy 1:15). In Onesiphorus, who had ministered so faithfully to him at Rome, alone, or all but alone, had he found the loyal and loving care which had once been general, and he had to think of him as having passed away, with the prayer that “he might find mercy with the Lord in that day” (2Timothy 1:16-17; 2Timothy 4:19), The inspired utterances of the prophets foretold dark and evil times, times at once of apostasy, and heresy, and persecution (1Timothy 4:1-4). The churches had lost their first love and their first purity. Their very organisation of charity was becoming the source of great evils, leading some to shift on others the burden of the duties which of right devolved on them, and encouraging a systematic pauperised idleness in others (1Timothy 5:3-8). The women of the Christian Church, even its deaconesses, widows, virgins, were sinking to the old level of their heathen lives in dress and scandals, in idleness and frivolity (1Timothy 5:11-13; 2Timothy 3:6). It seemed necessary to the Apostle to meet these dangers by asking his true son in the faith—half-shrinking, it would seem, from so grave a responsibility—to remain at Ephesus clothed with a larger measure of authority than before, while he continued his journey and went to Macedonia (1Timothy 1:3). If we were to receive the note attached in the Authorised version to the FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY, he passed on from Macedonia to Laodicea, but these foot-notes are of too late a date and too uncertain an authority to be relied on. We must treat them, then, as though they were non-existent, and proceed with our inferences from St. Paul’s own words. What his actual movements and plans were we are informed in the EPISTLE TO TITUS. There we learn that either before or after he went to Asia—more probably the former—he had visited Crete. There also the same evils were showing themselves as at Ephesus. Jewish fables and lives “abominable” and “reprobate” were bringing scandal on the name of Christians, and they were aggravated by the proverbial untruthfulness and sensuality of the national character (Titus 1:5; Titus 1:12; Titus 1:16). Apollos, it is true, was there, and with him Zenas, a “lawyer,” in the Gospel sense of the term (see Note on Matthew 22:35), a Christian teacher, i.e., like Apollos, mighty in the Scriptures, a trained interpreter of the Law of Moses in a Christian sense (Titus 3:13); but their influence was confined within the narrow circle of their own immediate followers, and those of whom St. Paul speaks as “ours” (Titus 3:14) needed more direct superintendence. For this purpose, Titus (possibly the Justus of Corinth; see Note on Acts 18:7), who had once before brought a like special mission to a successful issue (2Corinthians 7:13-14; 2Corinthians 8:6; 2Corinthians 8:23), was despatched with a delegated authority which made him what we might fairly call a “vicar apostolic” rather than a bishop. When St. Paul wrote to him he was himself apparently travelling, or intending to travel, in Macedonia, revisiting, we may believe, in accordance with the promise of Philippians 2:24, the churches of Philippi, Thessalonica and Berœa, and was intending to winter at Nicopolis. It is a natural inference from this, and from the urgency with which he entreats Titus to come to him quickly (Titus 3:12), that the Epistle was written in the autumn. The name of Nicopolis ( = “the city of victory”), to which, we may believe, he now directed his course, was borne by three cities, one on the borders of Thrace and Macedonia, one in Cilicia, and a third, more conspicuous than the others, on the Bay of Actium, which had been built by Augustus to commemorate his great victory there over the combined fleets of Antonius and Cleopatra.

In a previous journey through Macedonia to the Illyrian frontier, probably that of Acts 20:2 (comp. Romans 15:19), he had already laid the foundations of a church in that region of Greece, and may well have been anxious to revisit it.

In the meantime a great change had come over the policy of the imperial court at Rome. Poppæa, with her tendency to protect the Jews, and probably the Christians of “Cæsar’s household,” who at first passed for a sect of Jews, had died under the brutality of the emperor (A.D. 65),[16] and the influence of Tigellinus, base, brutal, and cruel, was altogether dominant. The great fire of A.D. 64 had broken out at the foot of the Cœlian and Palatine Hills, after an entertainment which he had given in the gardens of Agrippa, with surroundings of shameless foulness, in honour of the emperor (Tacit. Ann. xv. 37-40); and when, after being partially subdued, it renewed its devastations in the Æmilian district of the city, where Tigellinus had large estates, he shared with Nero the odium of having either originated it, or at least looked on it with an Epicurean indifference, if not, as the emperor was reported to have done, with a kind of æsthetic complacency. That suspicion had to be stamped out. The Christians of Rome, those especially whose presence in the palace reproved the vices of Tigellinus and his master, were sacrificed as victims to the popular indignation, and the tide of suspicion was turned only too successfully on the strange people who lived in the world but not of it, and talked much of a King who was to come in flaming fire and devour his adversaries (2Thessalonians 1:8). The language of Juvenal implies that the better Romans knew that the martyrs whose lurid flames were as torches in the gardens of Nero on those fearful nights were sacrificed to the jealousy and vindictive hatred of the favourite—

[16] It is not without interest to note the fact that the body of Poppæa was embalmed, as if in deference to her known tendencies, after the Jewish manner, and not burnt, after the custom of Rome (Tacit. Ann. xvi. 6).

“Dar’st thou to speak of Tigellinus’ guilt?

Thou too shalt flare as they did, whom we saw,

Standing and burning, throat impaled, in smoke,

And make wide furrows in the thirsty sand.”

Sat. i. 155.

That of Martial shows that they suffered as Christians, and might have purchased safety by apostasy, He refers to the well-known story of Mucius Scævola thrusting his hand into the fire, which apparently had been dramatised under Nero, and received with much. applause—

“You saw, enacted on the stage of sand,

How Mucius thrust into the flames his hand;

Think ye that act true hero’s deed to be?

Dull as Abderas[17] dotards then are ye;

[17] The town was proverbial for the stupidity of its people. The men of Abdera were as the men of Gotham of our nursery rhyme.

Is it not more, when robe of flame is nigh,

To say, ‘I will not sacrifice,’ and die,

Than with the order ‘Burn thy hand,’ comply?”

Epig. x. 25.

The populace, excited, as the Athenians had been by the mutilation of the Hermæ busts, as that of England was by the Fire of London in 1666, rushed upon the members of the “sect everywhere spoken against” with a ferocious eagerness, and beheld their sufferings at first without a shudder. Only in a few, like Juvenal and Tacitus, did a touch of pity mingle with their aversion. All the old calumnies were revived, and the presence of the Christians at Rome was looked on as a reproach to be got rid of with all convenient speed.

Fanaticism is naturally contagious, and though there was no formal organised persecution throughout the empire,[18] old enmities revived, and the opportunities for acting on them were utilised. The Epistles of St. Peter, written about this time, bear witness to the “fiery trial” that was coming upon all the provinces of Asia Minor (1Peter 4:12), to the fact that men spoke against the disciples of Christ as criminals at large, that the very name of Christian exposed them to persecution (1Peter 4:16). The fact that a medal had been struck at Laodicea, in which the very name of “God” was assigned to Nero, would naturally rouse the horror of all believers, and make them think that the Antichrist had indeed come—the “man of lawlessness” who exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped.[19] It only needed that he should follow in the footsteps of Caligula to verify the whole predicted description of one who “sitteth in the Temple of God showing himself that he is God” (2Thessalonians 2:4). Was not the day of the Lord at hand? Was not a more terrible conflagration than had already been witnessed about to destroy the city on the seven hills, the new “Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots . . . drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus”? (Revelation 17:5-6.)

[18] The inscription found in Spain and recording the success of Nero in extirpating the new superstition which had spread over the empire (“NERONI CL. CÆS. AUG. PONT. MAX. OB PROVING. LATRONIBUS ET HIS QUI NOVAM GENER. HUM. SUPERSTITION. INCULCAB. PURGATAM”), is now commonly regarded as spurious (Gruter, Inscriptt, p. 238, No. 9).

[19] For the medal, see Note in Brotier’s Tacitus (Ann. xv. 74). Even in the Roman senate, however, the title Divus, reserved for other emperors as a posthumous apotheosis, had been applied to Nero while he lived (ibid.).

It was under these conditions that the warrant was issued, as we must believe, by Tigellinus, for the arrest of St. Paul. It lies in the nature of the case that the charge could not have been the original accusation brought against him by Tertullus (Acts 24:1-8), for that was simply a question of Jewish law, a charge of having profaned the Jewish Temple. But Tigellinus must have known that for two years he had been the central figure among the Christians of Rome—that he was on terms of friendship with officers of the Augustan band and of the Prætorian Guard. True, he had left the city before the fire; but what if he had planned it, or even suggested the idea, and left others to work it out?

It is a reasonable, though not certain, inference, from the facts of the case, that the officers who were in charge of the warrant arrested their prisoner at Nicopolis; and if so, the notes of travel in the SECOND EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY must be referred, as above, to the hasty journey which had led him to that city, and in which he had revisited Corinth, Miletus, and Troas (2Timothy 4:13; 2Timothy 4:20). When he wrote that Epistle, he was, beyond all doubt, at Rome. And he was there not now, as before, in a hired apartment, and with the comparative freedom of a libera custodia (see Note on Acts 28:16), but in bonds, as a malefactor and a criminal (2Timothy 2:9). The Roman tradition that he was confined in the lower dungeon of the Mamertine prison, dark and damp, with no opening but a hole through which the prisoners were let down, has in it nothing in itself improbable.[20] The persecution that had been raging since his departure had naturally thinned the ranks, and tried the fidelity, of his friends. Aquila and Priscilla had once again been forced to leave Rome, and were now at Ephesus (2Timothy 4:9). Demas had forsaken him (2Timothy 4:10). Tychicus, still acting as the courier of the Apostolic Church, was the bearer of the Epistle to Timotheus (2Timothy 4:12). Crescens had gone to Gaul or to Galatia. Titus, who, we may infer, left Crete, and joined him at Nicopolis, had gone thence, without coming to Italy, to Dalmatia (2Timothy 4:10). One friend only, Luke, the beloved physician, probably finding some protection even now in his connection with Seneca and Gallio, was found willing to continue with him (2Timothy 4:11). It was probably before Tigellinus, rather than Nero himself, that the Apostle, in the utter loneliness of which he speaks so plaintively, made his first defence against the charge of treason.[21] Possibly the judge was, for a time, moved by his dauntless innocence; possibly, as when, about the same time, the celebrated impostor, Apollonius, of Tyana, stood before the same judge (Philostr. Vit. Apollon, iv. 42-44), he shrank from condemning one who was believed to possess supernatural powers. St. Paul’s entreaty that Timothy would bring the books and parchments which he had left at Troas (2Timothy 4:13) may imply a delay during which he was waiting for documentary evidence (possibly the “parchments” of 2Timothy 4:13), to prove his citizenship. The “cloak” may well have been wanted if he had to spend the winter months in the Mamertine prison. It was after that first hearing (2Timothy 4:16), filled with the conviction that the end was near, that the Apostle penned the last words which tell us of his hope and joy at seeing the crown of righteousness at last within his reach (2Timothy 4:8).

[20] Recent excavations by Mr. J. H. Parker have shown that what is now known as the Mamertine prison was probably only part of a much larger building used as a state prison (Macduff’s Footsteps of St. Paul, p. 76).

[21] It is hardly probable that St. Paul should have referred in these words to a trial during his former stay at Rome. The whole tone is that of a man writing of what had passed recently. Timotheus would naturally, having been with St. Paul at Rome (Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:1), know the whole history of the first imprisonment.

The confinement of St. Paul probably lasted for several months after this first hearing of his case. Before long, according to traditions which were current in their simplest form in the time of Clement of Rome, and were recognised in their fuller details by Eusebius (Hist. ii. 25) in the fourth century, he was joined by the great Apostle of the Circumcision, and the two who, as far as we know, had not met since the memorable dispute at Antioch (Galatians 2:14), were brought together at last once more in the Mamertine prison. The later Roman fiction of a pontificate of twenty-five years,[22] the earlier myths in the Clementine Homilies and Recognitions of a conflict with Simon Magus in the streets of Rome (see Notes on Acts 8:24), may be dismissed as belonging altogether to the region of the fabulous; but there is nothing improbable in the supposition, either that he had come from the literal to the spiritual Babylon (1Peter 5:13) to look after the welfare of the suffering Christians there,[23] or that the wide-spread net of Tigellinus, which had taken in its meshes St. Paul at Nicopolis and Apollonius at Rome, had caught him also. The story perpetuated by the Domine, Quo Vadis? chapel on the Appian Way, that he had endeavoured to effect his escape, and after he had passed the Capuan Gate (now the Porta San Sebastiano) had seen the well-remembered form of the Master he had loved, and on asking the question, “Lord, whither goest Thou?” received the answer, “I go to be crucified again,” and then returned to the city to face the doom which he was seeking to avoid, has in it, I venture to think, the likelihood which is involved in the fact that it was altogether unlikely that such a story should have been invented at a later age, when the name of the Prince of the Apostles had been identified with the notion of the primary, if not the infallibility, of his successors. It is at all events, somewhat over-sceptical, in spite of much uncertainty as to dates and details, to reject the tradition that the two Apostles were at last tried and condemned together. For the last time the free-born citizen of Rome was allowed the privileges of his citizenship, and escaped the degradation of the servile punishment of crucifixion. The Galilean Apostle, on the other hand, who had seen the Crucified One, chose, according to a current tradition, to be placed upon the cross head-downwards, unwilling to present himself to the eyes of the disciples as suffering as their Lord had suffered (Euseb. Hist. iii. 1). As the story runs, the two Apostles were led out together by the Ostian Gate (now the Porta San Paolo), and a small chapel about a mile from the city indicates the spot where they took their last farewell. St. Peter was led, according to one tradition, to the hill of the Janiculum, on the left bank of the Tiber, and a chapel attached to the church of San Pietro in Montorio, was built over the spot where the cross was believed to have been fixed; while his brother Apostle was taken further on the Ostian road to the spot now known as the Tre Fontane, from the legend that as the head was struck off by the sword of the executioner it bounded three times from the ground, and that a spring of water sprang up at each spot where it had touched the earth. Both bodies were placed, according to the Roman tradition of the time of Gregory the Great, in the catacombs on the Appian Way, under the modern church of San Sebastiano. Thence that of St. Peter was removed, possibly by the Jewish Christians of Rome, to the site in the Vatican, where the stately temple of Michael Angelo has replaced the old Basilica, the marbles and mosaics of which still remain in the Confession[24] under the central dome, while that of St. Paul was interred by the pious care of a Gentile convert, Lucina on the Ostian road, and the Basilica of San Paolo-fuori-le-Mura, built by Theodosius and Valentinian in A.D. 388 on the site of a smaller church erected by Constantine, claims for its Confession the glory of containing his sarcophagus. In the full-blown development of the rival traditions of Roman churches, that of St. John Lateran boasted of possessing the heads of both Apostles, while each of the Churches of St. Paul outside the walls and St. Peter in the Vatican, admitting the claims of its rival, exulted in the thought that it could claim half of the body of each of them.

[22] The long pontificate of Pius IX. has given a fresh prominence to the traditional “years of St. Peter,” and an inscription over the chair of the Apostle in St. Peter’s records that it was given to the deceased pontiff, alone among all his equal those years. The date given in Roman Catholic chronologies to the foundation of the Church of Rome by Peter is A.D. 41.

[23] This view derives a certain support from the Roman tradition that St. Peter dwelt in the house of Pudens, the centurion, and baptised his two daughters, Praxechs and Pudentiana. The absence of any mention of Claudia shows that the tradition was independent of 2Timothy 4:21, and of any inference from the Epigrams of Martial. Churches dedicated to the two sisters stand near together on the Viminal Hill, and the traditional house of Pudens is below that which bears the name of the latter.

[24] The “Confession” is the technical term commonly applied in Italy to the crypt-like shrine which contains the relics of the saint to whom the church is dedicated.

I have thought it best to lay before the reader as clear and connected a narrative as the imperfect data allowed, without entering on the difficult and perplexing questions which have been raised as to the year of the martyrdom of the two Apostles. It is right, however, to state that a very considerable divergency of views prevails on this point, in part connected with the question of the genuineness of the Pastoral Epistles, and that the year has been variously fixed between the limits of A.D. 64 on the one hand, and A.D. 68 on the other. The above has been based on the assumption of the later rather than the earlier date being, at least, approximately true. The Western Church has for many centuries dedicated the 29th and 30th of June (two days being appointed so that due honour might be rendered to each) to the commemoration of the martyrdom of the two Apostles. The calendar of the Reformed Church of England follows that of Koine in assigning June 29th to St. Peter, but contents itself with commemorating the Conversion of St. Paul on January 25th without assigning any day as the anniversary of his death.

What picture, we ask, are we to draw of the man who plays so prominent a part in the history of the Apostolic Church? What was he like? What impression did he make on men at first sight? What when they had learnt to know him? The nearest approximation to an authentic portrait is the medal (an engraving from which may be seen in Lewin’s St. Paud, ii. p. 411) found in the cemetery of Domitilla, one of the Flavian family, and assigned by archæologists to the close of the first or beginning of the second century. Closely cut hair (comp. Acts 18:18), slightly projecting eyes, a high forehead, a nose and mouth that indicate intellectual vigour, moustache, and a beard full rather than long,—this was what the artist gave in his attempt to reproduce a face which he may have seen himself or heard described by others. In stature, it is obvious, he was below the middle height (2Corinthians 10:10). The suffering which he describes as the thorn in the flesh, showed itself in weak eyes, probably in the nervous trembling of one who is constantly liable to severe attacks of pain. (See Notes on 2Corinthians 12:7.) He went about as one who had the sentence of death on him (2Corinthians 1:9). With this, however, there was great vigour of body. He could travel on foot some thirty miles a day (Acts 17:1), or ride on horseback (Acts 23:24), or swim rivers, or keep himself floating for many hours at sea (Acts 27:43). The indomitable energy of the man sustained him under hardships and privations of all kinds. He spoke, not with the rhetorical cadences in which Greek rhetoricians delighted, but with words that went home like an arrow to their mark, and pierced men’s hearts (2Corinthians 11:25). The voice was, perhaps, untuneable, but the words were full of life (1Corinthians 14:25; 2Corinthians 10:10). As men saw him in his artisan’s dress, living the life of the poor, they might have taken him for what he appeared to be; but when they came to know him they found a culture that surprised them, and a marvellous readiness to adapt himself to different natures. He became “all things to all men;” won the respect of proconsuls, chiliarchs, centurions, of the wild emotional Galatians, of the runaway slave Onesimus. He would listen to any tale of sorrow, and yet a keen sense of humour mingled with his earnestness and tenderness. He did not disdain to mingle an occasional pun (Philippians 4:2; Philippians 4:18; Philemon 1:10-11) with serious counsel, nor to paint the weaknesses of silly women and charlatans with a pen that almost reminds us of the caustic sarcasm of Juvenal (1Timothy 5:11-13; 2Timothy 3:6-7). And yet when the hour of prayer came, sometimes when he was alone, sometimes when in company with others, he would be absorbed as in ecstatic adoration (1Corinthians 14:18). Strange mysterious utterances of praise, doxologiee, alleluiahs, and the like, in half-musical intonations, would pour forth from his lips. He would seem as one caught up to the third heaven, to the paradise of God (2Corinthians 12:1-4), and then, again, would speak, as a prophet of the Lord, with thoughts that breathed and words that burnt. And in his prayers there was an almost terrible earnestness. Groans mingled with words, and name after name of churches and beloved disciples passed from his lips, as he laid his intercessions for them before his Father in heaven (Romans 1:9; Romans 8:26; 1Thessalonians 3:10). Such are the outlines of the man as he was—very unlike to Raphael’s idealised representation of him,—which are given to us indirectly through his own writings, and each reader must fill up those outlines according to his power. The attempt has been made, not without success, by many word-painters and masters of style. Without disparaging other representations of this kind, I venture to lay before the reader two such portraits.

“I dreamed that, with a passionate complaint,

I wished me born amid God’s deeds of might,

And envied those who saw the presence bright

Of gifted prophet and strong-hearted saint

Whom my heart loves and fancy strives to paint:

I turned, when straight a stranger met my sight,

Came as my guest, and did a while unite

His lot with mine, and lived without restraint;

Courteous he was and grave;—so meek in mien,

It seemed untrue, or told a purpose weak;

Yet in the mood, he could with aptness speak,

Or with stern force, or show of feelings keen,

Marking deep craft, methought, or hidden pride:—

Then came a voice—‘St. Paul is at thy side!’ ”

—J. H. Newman, Lyra Apostolica.

The other is by a less known author:—

“The third who journeyed with them, weak and worn,

Blear-eyed, dim-visioned, bent and bowed with pain,

We looked upon with wonder.—Not for him

The praise of form heroic, supple limbs,

The glory of the sculptor as he moulds

The locks of Zeus, o’erspreading lofty brows,

Apollo, the far-darter, in the pride

Of manhood’s noblest beauty, or the grace

Of sandalled Hermes, messenger of gods:

Not thus he came, but clad in raiment worn,

Of roughest texture, bearing many stains

Of age and travel. In his hand he bore

A staff on which he leant, as one whose limbs

Have lost before their time the strength of youth;

And underneath his arm a strange old book,

Whose mystic letters seemed for him the words

Of wisdom and of truth. And oft he read

In solemn cadence words that thrilled his soul,

And, lighting that worn face with new-born joy,

Bade him go on rejoicing.

So they came;

So entered he our town; but, ere the sun

Had lit the eastern clouds, a fever’s chill

Fell on him; parched thirst and darting throbs

Of keenest anguish racked those weary limbs;

His brow seemed circled with a crown of pain;

And oft, pale, breathless, as if life had flea,

He looked like one in ecstasy, who sees

What others see not; to whose ears a voice

Which others hear not, floats from sea or sky:

And broken sounds would murmur from his lips,

Of glory wondrous, sounds ineffable,

The cry of ‘Abba, Father,’ and the notes

Of some strange solemn chant of other lands.

So, stricken, prostrate, pale, the traveller lay,

So stript of all the comeliness of form,

Men might have spurned and loathed him, passing on

To lead their brighter life.—And yet we stayed;

We spurned him not, nor loathed; through all the shrouds.

Of poverty and sickness we could see

The hero-soul, the presence as of One

Whom then we knew not. When the pain was sharp.

And furrowed brows betrayed the strife within.

Then was he gentlest. Even to our slaves

He spoke as brothers, winning all their hearts

By that unwonted kindness.”

To these ideal portraits we may add such fragmentary notices as are found in ancient writers, and which, from their general consistency, may claim something like the character of a tradition. Thus in the Philopatris, ascribed to Lucian (possibly of the second century, but the book is probably spurious and belonging to the fourth), he is described as “bald, and with an. aquiline nose;” and in the apocryphal Acts of Paul and Thecla (c. i. 7), as “little in stature, bald, crook-legged, vigorous, with knitted brows, slightly aquilinenose, full of grace, appearing now as a man and now as having the face of an angel.” Malala, or John of Antioch (in the sixth century), describes him (Chronograph, c. x.) as “short, bald, with partly grey hair and beard, a prominent nose, greyish eyes, knitted brows, pale and yet fresh complexion, a well-shaped beard, with a touch of humour, sagacious, self-restrained, pleasant to converse with, gentle, yet filled by the Holy Spirit with an eager enthusiasm. Nicephorus (in the fifteenth century) reproduces the same general type; but the late date makes it impossible for us to look to his account as more than a second-hand portrait. Such as it is, he too speaks of short stature, somewhat bent and stooping; pale and yet comely; bald, and with bright grey eyes; with long and aquiline nose, and a thick beard more or less grizzled (Hist. ii. 37).[25]

[25] The two last quotations are taken from Lewin’s St. Paul. II p. 412.

Such in outward form, such in manner and character, was the man to whom the Church of Christ owes so much. We are reminded as we read his own account of himself, what others said of him in his lifetime, the traditions that survived after his death, of such a one as Socrates, with his Silenus face, his ecstatic trances, his playful irony and humour, his earnest thought, his deep enthusiasm, his warm affection for the young, his indifference to wealth and ease. There were, of course, distinctive features, rising in part out of differences of race and culture—the difference between the Aryan and the Semitic types of character—in part out of the higher truths which had been revealed to the Apostle and not to the sage; but there is enough in the general features of the life and character of each to help us to understand the words which tell us that “Wisdom in all ages entering into holy souls maketh them friends of God and prophets.”

The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,
The Acts of the Apostles.—See Introduction as to the title thus given to the Book.

(1) The former treatise.—Literally, word, or discourse; but the English of the text is, perhaps, a happier equivalent than either. The Greek term had been used by Xenophon (Anab. ii. 1; Cyrop. viii. 1, 2) as St. Luke uses it, of what we should call the several “Books” or portions of his Histories. The adjective is strictly “first” rather than “former,” and the tense of the verb, “I made,” rather than “I have made.”

O Theophilus.—See Note on Luke 1:3. It has been thought that the absence of the words “most excellent” implies that the writer’s friendship with Theophilus was now of a more intimate and familiar nature. It is possible, just as a like change of relation has been traced in Shakespeare’s dedication of his two poems to the Earl of Southampton, but the inference is, in each case, somewhat precarious.

That Jesus began both to do and teach.—The verb “begin” is specially characteristic of St. Luke’s Gospel, in which it occurs not less than thirty-one times. Its occurrence at the beginning of the Acts is, accordingly, as far as it goes, an indication of identity of authorship. He sought his materials from those who had been “from the beginning” eye-witnesses and ministers of the word (Luke 1:2).

Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:
(2) Until the day in which he was taken up.—We notice, as a matter of style, the same periodic structure that we found in the opening of the Gospel, made more conspicuous in the Greek by an arrangement of the words which places “he was taken up” at the close of the sentence. On the word “taken up,” see Note on Luke 9:51.

That he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments.—The words admit of two possible meanings—(1) that he work of “commanding” was left to the Holy Spirit, guiding the spirits of the disciples into all the truth; (2) that in His human nature the Lord Jesus, after, as before, His passion, spoke as one who was “filled with the Holy Ghost” (Luke 4:1), to whom the Father had given the Spirit not by measure (John 3:34). As the Apostles were still waiting for the promised gift, the latter aspect of the words is, we can scarcely doubt, that which was intended by the writer.

To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
(3) After his passion.—Literally, after He had suffered. The English somewhat anticipates the later special sense of “passion.”

By many infallible proofs.—There is no adjective in the Greek answering to “infallible,” but the noun is one which was used by writers on rhetoric (e.g., Aristotle, Rhet. i. 2) for proofs that carried certainty of conviction with them, as contrasted with those that were only probable or circumstantial. No other New Testament writer uses it.

Being seen of them forty days.—St. Luke uses a peculiar and unusual word (it occurs twice in the LXX.: 1Kings 8:8, and Tobit 12:19) for “being seen,” perhaps with the wish to imply that the presence was not continuous, and that our Lord was seen only at intervals. This may be noted as the only passage which gives the time between the Resurrection and the Ascension. It had its counterpart in the forty days of the Temptation in the wilderness (Luke 4:2), as that had had in the earlier histories of Moses (Exodus 24:18; Deuteronomy 9:9; Deuteronomy 9:18) and Elijah (1Kings 19:8). There was a certain symbolic fitness in the time of triumph on earth coinciding with that of special conflict. If we ask what was the character, if one may so speak, of our Lord’s risen life between His manifestation to the disciples, the history of the earlier forty days in part suggests the answer. Then, as before, the life was, we may believe, one of solitude and communion with His Father, no longer tried and tempted, as it had then been, by contact with the power of evil—a life of intercession, such as that which uttered itself in the great prayer of John 17. Where the days and nights were spent we can only reverently conjecture. Analogy suggests the desert places and mountain heights or Galilee (Luke 4:42; Luke 6:12). The mention of Bethany in Luke 24:50, and of the Mount of Olives in Acts 1:12, makes it probable that Gethsemane may have been one of the scenes that witnessed the joy of the victory, as it had witnessed before the agony of the conflict.

The things pertaining to the kingdom of God.—This implies, it is obvious, much unrecorded teaching. What is recorded points (1) to the true interpretation of the prophecies of the Messiah (Luke 24:27; Luke 24:44-45); (2) to the extension of the mission of the disciples to the whole Gentile world, and their admission to the Kingdom by baptism (Matthew 28:19); (3) to the promises of supernatural powers and divine protection (Mark 16:15-18); (4) to that of His own perpetual presence with His Church (Matthew 28:20).

And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.
(4) And, being assembled together with them.—The MSS. present two forms of the participle: one with the meaning given in the English version, the other, but inferior reading, with the sense of “dwelling together with” the disciples. The Vulgate, convescens, “eating with,” probably rests on a mistaken etymology of the Greek term. The whole verse is in substance a repetition of Luke 24:49, where see Notes.

For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
(5) John truly baptized with water.—See Note on Matthew 3:11. The words threw the disciples back upon their recollection of their first admission to the Kingdom. Some of them, at least, must have remembered also the teaching which had told them of the new birth of water and of the Spirit (John 3:3-5). Now they were told that their spirits were to be as fully baptised, i.e., plunged, into the power of the Divine Spirit, as their bodies had then been plunged in the waters of the Jordan. And this was to be “not many days hence.” The time was left undefined, as a discipline to their faith and patience. They were told that it would not be long, lest faith and patience should fail.

When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
(6) Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom?—More literally, art Thou restoring . . . Before the Passion the disciples had thought that “the kingdom of God should immediately appear” (Luke 19:11). Then had come the seeming failure of those hopes (Luke 24:21). Now they were revived by the Resurrection, but were still predominantly national. Even the Twelve were thinking, not of a kingdom of God, embracing all mankind, but of a sovereignty restored to Israel.

And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
(7) It is not for you to know the times or the seasons.—The combination of the two words is characteristic of St. Luke and St. Paul (1Thessalonians 5:1). The answer to the eager question touches the season rather than the nature of the fulfilment of their hopes. They are left to the teaching of the Spirit and of Time to remould and purify their expectations of the restoration of Israel. What was needed now was the patience that waits for and accepts that teaching.

Which the Father hath put in his own power.—Better, as free from the ambiguity which attaches to the present version, which the Father appointed by His own authority.

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
(8) But ye shall receive power.—The use of the same English noun for two different Greek words is misleading, but if “authority” be used in Acts 1:7 then “power” is an adequate rendering here. The consciousness of a new faculty of thought and speech would be to them a proof that the promise of the Kingdom had not failed.

Ye shall be witnesses unto me.—The words, which are apparently identical with those of Luke 24:48, strike the key-note of the whole book. Those which follow correspond to the great divisions of the Acts—Jerusalem, Acts 1, 7; Judæa, 9:32, 12:19; Samaria, 8; and the rest of the book as opening the wider record of the witness borne “to the uttermost parts of the earth.” And this witness was two-fold: (1) of the works, the teachings, and, above all, of the Resurrection of Jesus; (2) of the purpose of the Father as revealed in the Son. The witness was to be, in language which, though technical, is yet the truest expression of the fact, at once historical and dogmatic.

And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
(9) He was taken up; and a cloud received him . . .—It is remarkable how little stress is laid in the Gospels on the fact which has always been so prominent in the creeds of Christendom. Neither St. John nor St. Matthew record it. It is barely mentioned with utmost brevity in the verses which close the Gospel of St. Mark, and in which many critics see, indeed, a fragment of apostolic teaching, but not part of the original Gospel. The reasons of this silence are, however, not far to seek. It was because the Ascension was from the first part of the creed of Christendom that the Evangelists said so little. The fact had been taught to every catechumen. They would not embellish it—as, for example, the Assumption of the Virgin was embellished in later legends—by fantastic details. That it was so received is clear. It is implied in our Lord’s language, as recorded by St. John, “What and if ye shall see the Son of Man ascend up where He was before?” (John 6:62), and such words would hardly have been brought before believers at the close of the apostolic age if they had received no fulfilment. It is assumed in the earliest form of the Church’s creed, “He was received up into glory,” the verb being identical with that which St. Luke employs in St. Peter’s speeches (Acts 2:33; Acts 3:21), and in St. Paul’s epistles (Ephesians 1:20; 1Timothy 3:16). We may add that there was something like a moral necessity, assuming the Resurrection as a fact, for such a conclusion to our Lord’s work on earth. Two other alternatives may, perhaps, be just imagined as possible: He might, like Lazarus, have lived out His restored life to its appointed term, and then died the common death of all men; but in that case where would have been the victory over death, and the witness that He was the Son of Man? He might have lived on an endless life on earth; but in this case, being such as He was, conflict, persecution, and suffering would have come again and again at every stage, and in each instance a miracle would have been needed to save the suffering from passing on to death, or many deaths must have been followed by many resurrections. When we seek, however, to realise the process of the Ascension, we find ourselves in a region of thought in which it is not easy to move freely. With our thoughts of the relations of the earth to space and the surrounding orbs, we find it hard to follow that upward motion, and to ask what was its direction and where it terminated. We cannot get beyond the cloud; but that cloud was the token of the glory of the Eternal Presence, as the Shechinah that of old filled the Temple (1Kings 8:10-11; Isaiah 6:1-4), and it is enough for us to know that where God is there also is Christ, in the glory of the Father, retaining still, though under new conditions and laws, the human nature which made Him like unto His brethren.

And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
(10) Two men stood by them in white apparel.—Better, were standing, the appearance being sudden, and their approach unnoticed. The forms were such as those as had been seen at the portals of the empty sepulchre, bright and fair to look upon, and clad in white garments, like the young priests in the Temple. (See Note on Luke 1:12.)

Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
(11) Shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.—So our Lord, following the great prophecy of Daniel 7:13, had spoken of Himself as “coming in the clouds of heaven” (see Note on Matthew 26:64), in visible ‘majesty and glory. Here, again, men have asked questions which they cannot answer; not only, when shall the end be, but where shall the Judge thus appear? what place shall be the chosen scene of His second Advent? So far as we dare to localise what is left undefined, the words of the angels suggest the same scene, as well as the same manner. Those who do not shrink from taking the words of prophecy in their most literal sense, have seen in Zechariah 14:4, an intimation that the Valley of Jehosophat (= Jehovah judges)—the “valley of decision”—shall witness the great Assize, and that the feet of the Judge shall stand upon the Mount of Olives, from which He had ascended into heaven. This was the current mediæval view, and seems, if we are to localise at all, to be more probable than any other.

Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey.
(12) From the mount called Olivet.—As to the name, see Note on Luke 19:29. The mention of the distance, and the measure of distance employed are, both of them, remarkable, and suggest the thought that St. Luke’s reckoning was a different one from that which Christendom has commonly received, and that the “forty days” expired before the last renewal of our Lord’s intercourse with His disciples, and that this ended on the following sabbath—i.e., eight days before the day of Pentecost. On this supposition we get a reason, otherwise wanting, for this manner of stating the distance. Symbolically, too, there seems a fitness in our Lord’s entering into His rest, on the great day of rest, which is wanting in our common way of reckoning. On the other hand, it may be noted that it is after St. Luke’s manner as in the case of Emmaus (Luke 24:13) to give distances. The “Sabbath day’s journey” was reckoned at 2,000 paces, or about six furlongs.

And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.
(13) They went up into an upper room, where abode . . .—Better, into the upper room, where they were abiding. The Greek noun has the article. The room may have been the same as that in which the Paschal Supper had been eaten (Mark 14:15). On the other hand, that room seems to have been different from that in which the disciples had lodged during the Paschal week, and to have been chosen specially for the occasion (Luke 22:8). The word used is also different in form. So far as we are able to distinguish between the two words, the room of the Paschal Supper was on the first floor, the guest-chamber, used for meals; that in which the disciples now met, on the second floor, or loft, which was used for retirement and prayer. It would seem from Luke 24:53, that they spent the greater part of each day in the Temple, and met together in the evening. The better MSS. give “prayer” only, without “supplication.” The prayer thus offered may be thought of as specially directed to the “promise of the Father.” Whether it was spoken or silent, unpremeditated or in some set form of words, like the Lord’s Prayer, we have no data to determine.

Peter, and James.—On the lists of the Twelve Apostles see Notes on Matthew 10:2-4. The points to be noticed are—(1) that Andrew stands last in the group of the first four, divided from his brother, thus agreeing with the list in St. Mark (Mark 3:17); (2) that Philip is in like manner divided from Bartholomew, and Thomas from Matthew; (3) that Zelotes appears here, as in Luke 6:15, instead of the Cananæan.

These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.
(14) With the women.—Looking to what we have seen in the Gospels, it is a natural inference that here, too, the “devout women” of Luke 8:2-3, were among St. Luke’s chief informants. This may, perhaps, account for the variations in the list just noticed. The women were less likely than the disciples to lay stress on what we may call the accurate coupling of the Twelve. The mention of “the women” as a definite body is characteristic of St. Luke as the only Evangelist who names them. (See Notes on Luke 8:1-3; Luke 23:49.) We may reasonably think of the company as including Mary Magdalene, Salome, Susanna, Joanna, Mary and Martha of Bethany, possibly also the woman that had been a sinner, of Luke 7:37. Here we lose sight of them, and all that follows is conjectural. It is probable that they continued to share the work and the sufferings of the growing Church at Jerusalem, living together, perhaps at Bethany, in a kind of sisterhood. The persecution headed by Saul was likely to disperse them for a time, and some may well have been among the “women” who suffered in it (Acts 8:3); but they may have returned when it ceased. St. Luke, when he came to Palestine, would seem to have met with one or more of them.

Mary the mother of Jesus.—Brief as the record is, it has the interest of giving the last known fact, as distinct from legend or tradition, in the life of the mother of our Lord. St. John, we know, had taken her to his own home, probably to a private dwelling in Jerusalem (see Note on John 19:27), and she had now come with him to the first meeting of the Ecclesia. Here also we trace the influence of the women as St. Luke’s informants. They could not have left unnoticed the presence of her who was the centre of their group. The legends of some apocryphal books represent her as staying at Jerusalem with St. John till her death, twenty-two years after the Ascension; while others represent her as going with him to Ephesus and dying there; the Apostles gather around her death-bed; she is buried, and the next day the grave is found emptied, and sweet flowers have grown around it; Mary also had been taken up into heaven. The festival of the Assumption, which owes its origin to this legend, dates from the sixth or seventh century.

With his brethren.—The last mention of the “brethren” had shown them as still unbelieving (John 7:5). Various explanations of their change may be given. (1) They may have been drawn to believe before the Crucifixion by the great miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus. (2) The risen Lord had appeared to James as well as to the Apostles (1Corinthians 15:7), and that may have fixed him and the other brothers in steadfast faith. (3) If the mother of Jesus was with John, the brethren also were likely to come, in greater or less measure, under the influence of their cousin. It may be noted that the brethren are here emphatically distinguished from the Apostles, and therefore that James the son of Aiphæus cannot rightly be identified with James the Lord’s brother. (See Note on Matthew 12:46.)

And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)
(15) The number of names together were about an hundred and twenty.—The number probably included the Seventy of Luke 10:1, perhaps also Joseph of Arimathæa and Nicodemus, and some of the “five hundred” who had seen their risen Lord in Galilee or elsewhere (1Corinthians 15:6). The use of “names” may be merely as a synonym for “persons,” but It suggests the idea of there having been a list from which St. Luke extracted those that seemed most conspicuous.

Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.
(16) Men and brethren.—Better, brethren only, the word being used as in the LXX. of Genesis 13:8. The tone of St. Peter’s speech is that of one who felt that his offence had been fully forgiven, and that he was now restored by the charge given him, as in John 21:15-17, to his former position as guide and leader of the other disciples. To do that work faithfully was a worthier fruit of repentance than any public confession of his guilt would have been. This, of course, does not exclude—what is in itself probable—that he had previously confessed his fault, either to his special friend St. John, or to the whole company of Apostles and other disciples.

Which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake . . .—We have here, obviously, the firstfruits of the new method of interpretation in which the Apostles had been instructed (Luke 24:27; Luke 24:45). They had already been taught that the Holy Spirit which their Lord had promised to them had before spoken by the prophets. The recurrence of the same mode of speech in the “holy men of God who spake as they were moved (literally, borne along) by the Holy Ghost,” in 2Peter 1:21, is, as far as it goes, evidence in favour of the genuineness of that Epistle.

Which was guide to them that took Jesus.—The actual word “guide” is not found in the Gospel narrative, but it appears as a fact in all four, notably in that of St. John (John 18:2-3).

For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.
(17) For he was numbered with us.—Literally, he had been numbered.

Had obtained part of this ministry.—Better, the portion, or inheritance. The Greek has the article, and the noun (cleros) is one which afterwards acquired a special half-technical sense in the words, clerus, clericus, “clerk,” “clergy.” In 1Peter 5:3, as being “lords over the heritage,” we find it in a transition sense. (See Note on Acts 1:25.)

Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.
(18, 19) Now this man purchased a field.—Better, acquired, got possession of, a field, the Greek not necessarily including the idea of buying. On the difficulties presented by a comparison of this account with that in Matthew 27:5-8, see Note on that passage. Here the field bought with Judas’s money is spoken of as that which he gained as the reward of his treachery. The details that follow are additions to the briefer statement of St. Matthew, but are obviously not incompatible with it. Nor is there any necessity for assuming, as some have done, that there were two fields known as Aceldama, one that which the priests had bought, and the other that which was the scene of Judas’s death. The whole passage must be regarded as a note of the historian, not as part of the speech of St. Peter. It was not likely that he, speaking to disciples, all of whom knew the Aramaic, or popular Hebrew of Palestine, should stop to explain that Aceldama meant “in their proper tongue, The field of blood.”

And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.
(19) In their proper tongue.—Literally, in their own dialect. The word is used frequently in the Acts (Acts 2:6; Acts 2:8; Acts 21:40), but not elsewhere in the New Testament.

For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.
(20) For it is written in the book of Psalms—St. Peter’s speech is continued after the parenthetical note. His purpose in making the quotation is to show that the disciples should not be staggered by the treachery of Judas, and the seeming failure of their hopes. The Psalms had represented the righteous sufferer as the victim of treachery. They had also spoken of the traitor as receiving a righteous punishment such as had now fallen upon Judas. No strange thing had happened. What had been of old was typical of what they had heard or known. We need not in this place discuss either the historical occasions of the Psalms cited, or the ethical difficulties presented by their imprecations of evil. Neither comes, so to speak, within the horizon of St. Peter’s thoughts. It was enough for him to note the striking parallelism which they presented to what was fresh in his memory, and to believe that it was not accidental.

His bishoprick let another take.—Better, as in Psalm 109:8, let another take his office. The Greek word is episcopè, which, as meaning an office like that of the episcopos, is, of course, in one sense, rightly translated by “bishoprick.” The latter term is, however, so surrounded by associations foreign to the apostolic age that it is better to use the more general, and, therefore, neutral, term of the English version of the Psalm. The use of “bishoprick” may be noted as an instance of the tendency of the revisers of 1611 to maintain the use of “bishop” and the like where the office seemed to be placed on a high level (as here and in 1Peter 2:25), while they use “overseer” and “oversight” (as in Acts 20:28, and 1Peter 5:2) where it is identified with the functions of the elders or presbyters of the Church. “Bishoprick” had, however, been used in all previous versions except the Geneva, which gives “charge.”

Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,
(21) Wherefore of these men which have companied with us.—From the retrospective glance at the guilt and punishment of the traitor, Peter passes, as with a practical sagacity, to the one thing that was now needful for the work of the infant Church. They, the Apostles, must present themselves to the people in their symbolic completeness, as sent to the twelve tribes of Israel, and the gap left by the traitor must be filled by one qualified, as they were, to bear witness of what had been said or done by their Lord during His ministry, and, above all, of His resurrection from the dead. That would seem, even in St. Paul’s estimate, to have been a condition of apostleship (1Corinthians 9:1).

Went in and out . . .—The phrase was a familiar Hebrew phrase for the whole of a man’s life and conduct. (Comp. Acts 9:28.)

And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.
(23) They appointed.—It is uncertain whether this was the act of the Apostles, presenting the two men to the choice of the whole body of disciples, or of the community choosing them for ultimate decision by lot.

Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus.—Some MSS. give the various-reading of “Joses,” which was, perhaps, only another form of the same name. Nothing further is known of him. The conditions of the case make it certain that he must have been a disciple almost from the beginning of our Lord’s ministry, and that he must have become more or less prominent, and probable therefore, as stated by Eusebius (Hist. i. 12), that he was one of the Seventy. The name Barsabas (= son of the oath, or of wisdom) may have been a patronymic, like Barjona, or may have been given, like Barnabas, as denoting character. It appears again in Judas Barsabas of Acts 15:22, and on the former assumption, the two disciples may have been brothers. The epithet Justus, the just one, is significant, as possibly indicating, as in the case of James the Just, a specially high standard of ascetic holiness. Another with the same surname—Jesus surnamed Justus—meets us as being with St. Paul at Rome as one of “the circumcision” (Colossians 4:11), and another, or possibly the same, at Corinth (Acts 18:7). In both cases the use of the Latin instead of the Greek word is noticeable, as indicating some point of contact with the Romans in Judæa or elsewhere.

Matthias.—Here, too, probably, the same conditions were fulfilled. The name, like Matthew (see Note on Matthew 9:9), signified “given by Jehovah,” and had become, in various forms, popular, from the fame of Mattathias, the great head of the Maccabean family.

And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,
(24) Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men.—Literally, heart-knower of all men. The compound word is not found in any Greek version of the Old Testament, but meets us again in Acts 15:8. The question meets us whether the prayer is addressed to the Lord Jesus, as with a recollection of His insight into the hearts of men (John 2:24; John 6:64), or to the Father. The prayer of Stephen (Acts 7:59-60) shows, on the one hand, that direct prayer to the Son was not foreign to the minds of the disciples; and in John 6:70, He claims the act of choosing as His own. On the other hand, the analogy of Acts 4:29, where the Father is entreated to work signs and wonders “through his holy servant Jesus,” is in favour of the latter view.

“Whether,” as used in the sense of “which of two,” may be noted as one of the archaisms of the English version.

That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.
(25) That he may take part of this ministry.—Better, the portion, or the lot, so as to give the word (cleros, as in Acts 1:17) the same prominence in English as it has in the Greek.

From which Judas by transgression fell.—The last three words are as a paraphrase of the one Greek verb. Better, fell away.

That he might go to his own place.—Literally, as the verb is in the infinitive, to go to his own place. The construction is not free from ambiguity, and some interpreters have referred the words to the disciple about to be chosen, “to go to his own place” in the company of the Twelve. If we connect them, as seems most natural, with Judas, we find in them the kind of reserve natural in one that could neither bring himself to cherish hope nor venture to pronounce the condemnation which belonged to the Searcher of hearts. All that had been revealed to him was, that “it had been good for that man if he had not been born” (Mark 14:21).

And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
(26) And they gave forth their lots.—As interpreted by the prayer of Acts 1:24, and by the word “fell” here, there can be no doubt that the passage speaks of “lots” and not “votes.” The two men were chosen by the disciples as standing, as far as they could see, on the same level. It was left for the Searcher of hearts to show, by the exclusion of human will, which of the two He had chosen. The most usual way of casting lots in such cases was to write each name on a tablet, place them in an urn, and then shake the urn till one came out. A like custom prevailed among the Greeks, as in the well-known story of the stratagem of Cresphontes in the division of territory after the Doriar invasion (Sophocles, Aias. 1285; comp. Proverbs 16:33). The practice was recognised, it may be noted, in the Law (Leviticus 16:8).

He was numbered with the eleven apostles.—The Greek word is not the same as in Acts 1:17, and implies that Matthias was “voted in,” the suffrage of the Church unanimously confirming the indication of the divine will which had been given by the lot. It may be that the new Apostle took the place which Judas had left vacant, and was the last of the Twelve.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

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