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Bible Commentaries
Acts 19

Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical CommentaryAlford's Greek Testament Commentary

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Verse 1

1. τὰ ἀνωτερικὰ μέρη ] By this name were known the eastern parts of Asia Minor, beyond the river Halys, or in comparison with Ephesus, in the direction of that river. So Herodotus, speaking as a Halicarnassian, calls even the neighbourhood of Sardis τὰ ἄνω τῆς Ἀσίας , i. 177; including in the term, however, many of the inland districts, Assyria, Babylonia, &c. So that the reading ἀνατολικά , which is found in three cursives and Theophyl-sif., is a good gloss.

τινας μαθητάς ] These seem to have been in the same situation as Apollos, see on ch. Acts 18:25 . They cannot have been mere disciples of John, on account of πιστεύσαντες , which can bear no meaning but that of believing on the Lord Jesus : but they had received only John’s baptism, and had had no proof of the descent of the Holy Spirit, nor knowledge of His gifts.

Verses 1-41


Verse 2

2. ἐλάβ . πιστεύς .] The aorist should be faithfully rendered: not as E. V. ‘ Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed ?’ but Did ye receive the Holy Ghost when ye became (not, when ye had become: cf. προσευξάμενοι εἶπαν , ch. Acts 1:24 , and Winer, edn. 6, § 45. 6. b, also note on Act 19:29 ) believers ? i.e. ‘ on your becoming believers, had ye the gifts of the Spirit conferred on you ?’ as in ch. Acts 8:16-17 . This is both grammatically necessary (see also Romans 13:11 , ἐγγύτερον ἡμῶν ἡ σωτηρία ἢ ὅτε ἐπιστεύσαμεν ), and absolutely demanded by the sense; the enquiry being, not as to any reception of the Holy Ghost during the period since their baptism, but as to one simultaneous with their first reception into the church: and their not having then received Him is accounted for by the deficiency of their baptism .

ἀλλ ʼ οὐδέ ] On the contrary, not even

ἠκούσαμεν ] Here again, not, ‘we have not heard,’ which would involve an absurdity: ‘nam neque Mosen neque Johannem Baptistam sequi potuissent, quin de Spiritu Sancto ipso audissent’ (Bengel); but we did not hear , at the time of our conversion: Our reception into the faith was unaccompanied by any preaching of the office or the gifts of the Spirit, our baptism was not followed by any imparting of His gifts: we did not so much as hear Him mentioned . ἐστιν cannot, from its position, be emphatic, nor does it mean “were to be had” (Wordsw.), as John 7:39 . The stress of the sentence is on ἠκούσαμεν : so for from receiving the Holy Ghost, they did not even hear of His existence. Tiros only will find an objection to this rendering in ἐστίν (expecting ἦν ): the present is commonly used after the aorist of declarative verbs or verbs of sense, in the clause which contains the matter declared, seen, or heard: the action being transferred pro tempore to the time spoken of. See reff.

Verse 3

3. ] Paul’s question establishes the above rendering, to what then ( οὖν , if ye did not so much as hear of the Holy Ghost at your first believing) were ye baptized ? If the question and answer in Act 19:2 regarded, as in E. V., the whole interval since their conversion, this enquiry would have been more naturally expressed in the perfect. See Galatians 3:27 , where there is the same necessity of preserving the historical sense of the aorists.

εἰς τί ] unto (with a view to, as introductory to) what profession ? They answer, unto (that indicated by) the baptism of John , viz.: repentance , and the believing on Jesus, then to come , but now (see ch. Acts 18:25 , note) the object of our faith .

Verse 4

4. εἰς τ . ἐρχ ἵνα π . ] This peculiar inversion of words, see reff., seems to mark the hand of Paul. ἵνα does not give (as Meyer) the mere purpose of his baptism (saying that he baptized in order that …), but combines, as in similar uses of προσεύχομαι ἵνα and the like, the purport and purpose together: ‘He commanded them that they should (purport) and he spoke to them, that they might (purpose).’ See this discussed in note on 1 Corinthians 14:13 .

Verse 5

5. ] Two singular perversions of this verse have occurred: (1) the Anabaptists use it to authorize the repetition of Christian baptism, whereas it is not Christian baptism which was repeated, seeing that John’s baptism was not such , but only the baptism which they now for the first time received; and (2) Beza, Calixtus, Calov., Suicer, Glass., Buddeus, Wolf, and al., wishing to wrest this weapon out of the hands of the Anabaptists, oddly enough suppose this verse to belong still to Paul’s discourse, and to mean, ‘ and the people when they heard him (John), were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus .’ This obviously is contrary to fact, historically: and would leave our present narrative in a singular state: for Paul, having treated their baptism as insufficient , would thus proceed on it to impose his hands, as if it were sufficient .

εἰς τὸ ὄν. τ. κυρ. Ἰησοῦ ] Two questions arise here: (1) Was it the ordinary practice to rebaptize those who had been baptized either by John or by the disciples (John 4:1 f.) before baptism became, by the effusion of the Holy Spirit , λουτρὸν παλιγγενεσίας ? This we cannot definitely answer. That it was sometimes done, this incident shews: but in all probability, in the cases of the majority of the original disciples, the greater baptism by the Holy Ghost and fire on the day of Pentecost superseded the outward form or sign. The Apostles themselves received only this baptism (besides probably that of John): and most likely the same was the case with the original believers. But of the three thousand who were added on the day of Pentecost, very many must have been already baptized by John; and all were rebaptized without enquiry . (2) What conclusion can we deduce from this verse respecting the use or otherwise of baptism in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost , in the apostolic period? The only answer must be, that at that early time we have no indication of set formulæ in the administration of either sacrament. Such formulæ arose of necessity, when precision in formal statement of doctrine became an absolute necessity in the church: and the materials for them were found ready in the word of God, who has graciously provided for all necessities of His church in all time. But, in matter of fact , such a baptism as this was a baptism into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. As Jews, these men were already servants of the living God and by putting on the Son, they received in a new and more gracious sense the Father also. And in the sequel of their baptism, the imposition of hands, they sensibly became recipients of God the Holy Ghost. Where such manifestations were present, the form of words might be wanting; but with us, who have them not, it is necessary and imperative. Dean Howson regards (i. 517; ii. 13) St. Paul’s question in our Act 19:3 as indicative that the name of the Holy Ghost was used in the baptismal formula. But the inference seems to me insecure.

Verse 6

6. ] See ch. Acts 8:17 ; Acts 10:46 , and note on ch. Acts 2:4 ; and on ἐπροφ ., ch. Acts 11:27 , note.

Verse 7

7. ] οἱ πάντ ., in all : so Herod. vii. 4, βασιλεύσαντα τὰ πάντα ἔτεα ἕξ τε κ . τριήκοντα : Thuc. v. 120, πεσόντων δὲ τῶν πάντων πολλῶν . See Kühner, § 489 e.

Verse 9

9. ] Probably the school of Tyrannus was a private synagogue (called Beth Midrasch by the Jews), where he might assemble the believing Jews quietly, and also invite the attendance of Gentiles to hear the word. But it is also possible that, as commonly supposed, Tyrannus may have been a Gentile sophist. The name occurs as a proper name, 2Ma 4:40 Ed-vat. ( Αυρανου [95] [96] ), and with τινος (see var. readd.).

[95] The MS. referred to by this symbol is that commonly called the Alexandrine, or CODEX ALEXANDRINUS. It once belonged to Cyrillus Lucaris, patriarch of Alexandria and then of Constantinople, who in the year 1628 presented it to our King Charles I. It is now in the British Museum. It is on parchment in four volumes, of which three contain the Old, and one the New Testament, with the Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians. This fourth volume is exhibited open in a glass case. It will be seen by the letters in the inner margin of this edition, that the first 24 chapters of Matthew are wanting in it, its first leaf commencing ὁ νυμφίος , ch. Matthew 25:6 : as also the leaves containing ἵνα , John 6:50 , to καὶ σύ , John 8:52 . It is generally agreed that it was written at Alexandria; it does not, however, in the Gospels , represent that commonly known as the Alexandrine text, but approaches much more nearly to the Constantinopolitan, or generally received text. The New Testament, according to its text, was edited, in uncial types cast to imitate those of the MS., by Woide, London, 1786, the Old Testament by Baber, London, 1819: and its N.T. text has now been edited in common type by Mr. B. H. Cowper, London, 1861. The date of this MS. has been variously assigned, but it is now pretty generally agreed to be the fifth century .

[96] The CODEX VATICANUS, No. 1209 in the Vatican Library at Rome; and proved, by the old catalogues, to have been there from the foundation of the library in the 16th century. It was apparently, from internal evidence, copied in Egypt. It is on vellum, and contains the Old and New Testaments. In the latter, it is deficient from Heb 9:14 to the end of the Epistle; it does not contain the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon; nor the Apocalypse. An edition of this celebrated codex, undertaken as long ago as 1828 by Cardinal Angelo Mai, has since his death been published at Rome. The defects of this edition are such, that it can hardly be ranked higher in usefulness than a tolerably complete collation, entirely untrustworthy in those places where it differs from former collations in representing the MS. as agreeing with the received text. An 8vo edition of the N.T. portion, newly revised by Vercellone, was published at Rome in 1859 (referred to as ‘Verc’): and of course superseded the English reprint of the 1st edition. Even in this 2nd edition there were imperfections which rendered it necessary to have recourse to the MS. itself, and to the partial collations made in former times. These are (1) that of Bartolocci (under the name of Giulio de St. Anastasia), once librarian at the Vatican, made in 1669, and preserved in manuscript in the Imperial Library (MSS. Gr. Suppl. 53) at Paris (referred to as ‘Blc’); (2) that of Birch (‘Bch’), published in various readings to the Acts and Epistles, Copenhagen, 1798, Apocalypse, 1800, Gospels, 1801; (3) that made for the great Bentley (‘Btly’), by the Abbate Mico, published in Ford’s Appendix to Woide’s edition of the Codex Alexandrinus, 1799 (it was made on the margin of a copy of Cephalæus’ Greek Testament, Argentorati, 1524, still amongst Bentley’s books in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge); (4) notes of alterations by the original scribe and other correctors. These notes were procured for Bentley by the Abbé de Stosch, and were till lately supposed to be lost. They were made by the Abbate Rulotta (‘Rl’), and are preserved amongst Bentley’s papers in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge (B. 17. 20) 1 . The Codex has been occasionally consulted for the verification of certain readings by Tregelles, Tischendorf, and others. A list of readings examined at Rome by the present editor (Feb. 1861), and by the Rev. E. C. Cure, Fellow of Merton College, Oxford (April 1862), will be found at the end of these prolegomena. A description, with an engraving from a photograph of a portion of a page, is given in Burgon’s “Letters from Rome,” London 1861. This most important MS. was probably written in the fourth century (Hug, Tischendorf, al.).

Verse 10

10. ἔτη δύο ] We cannot derive any certain estimate of the length of Paul’s stay in Ephesus from these words, even if we add the three months of Acts 19:8 , for Act 19:21-22 admit of an interval after the expiration of the two years and three months . And his own expression, ch. Acts 20:31 , τριετίαν , implies that it was longer than from this chapter would at first sight appear. He probably (compare his announced intention, 1 Corinthians 16:8 , with his expectation of meeting Titus at Troas, 2 Corinthians 2:12-13 , which shews that he was not far off the time previously arranged) left Ephesus about or soon after the third Pentecost after that which he kept in Jerusalem. See Prolegg. to 1 Cor. § vi.

πάντας τ . κατ . ] Hyperbolical: all had the opportunity , and probably some of every considerable town availed themselves of it. To this long teaching of Paul the seven churches of Asia owe their establishment.

Verse 11

11. οὐ τὰς τυχ .] See reff. miracles of no ordinary kind . In what they differed from the usual displays of power by the Apostles, is presently related: viz. that even garments taken from him were endued with miraculous power.

Verse 12

12. ] The rec. reading, ἐπιφέρεσθαι , may have been occasioned by the ἐπί preceding: the other, again, by the ἀπό following: in such uncertainty the reading of the ancient MSS. must prevail.

σουδ .] handkerchiefs : see ref. Luke, and notes there.

σιμικ .] not napkins , but semicinctia , aprons , such as servants and artisans use. ἀμφότερα λινοειδῆ εἰσι , Schol.

Diseases , and possession by evil spirits , are here plainly distinguished from each other. The rationalists, and semi-rationalists, are much troubled to reconcile the fact related, that such handkerchiefs and aprons were instrumental in working the cures , with what they are pleased to call a popular notion founded in superstition and error. But in this and similar narratives (see ch. Acts 5:15 , note) Christian faith finds no difficulty whatever. All miraculous working is an exertion of the direct power of the All-powerful; a suspension by Him of His ordinary laws: and whether He will use any instrument in doing this, or what instrument, must depend altogether on His own purpose in the miracle the effect to be produced on the recipients, beholders, or hearers. Without His special selection and enabling, all instruments were vain ; with these, all are capable . In the present case, as before in ch. Acts 5:15 , it was His purpose to exalt His Apostle as the Herald of His gospel, and to lay in Ephesus the strong foundation of His church. And He therefore endues him with this extraordinary power. (Wordsw. sees an especial fitness in this having occurred at Ephesus (see on Act 19:19 ), and refers to God having shewed in Egypt that His power was greater than that of Satan working by magicians: and it may well have been so.)

But to argue by analogy from such a case, to suppose that because our Lord was able, and Peter, and Paul, and in O. T. times Elisha, were enabled, to exert this peculiar power, therefore the same will be possessed by the body or relics of every real or supposed saint, is the height of folly and fanaticism. The true analogy tends directly the other way. In no cases but these do we find the power, even in the apostolic days: and the general cessation of all extraordinary gifts of the Spirit would lead us to the inference that à fortiori these , which were even then the rarest ( οὐχ αἱ τυχοῦσαι ), have ceased also.

Verse 13

13. ] See note on Matthew 12:27 , respecting the Jewish exorcists. These men, seeing the success of Paul’s agency in casting out devils, adopt the Name of Jesus in their own exorcisms.

Verse 14

14. ἀρχιερέως ] The word must be used in a wide sense. He may have been chief of the priests resident at Ephesus: or perhaps chief of one of the twenty-four courses.

τινες does not belong to ἑπτά , see ch. Acts 23:23 , but stands alone, recalling the τινες of the preceding verse.

Without the οἱ it would be, ‘ certain men, &c. were attempting this ,’ ἦσαν and ποιοῦντες being taken together. With it, They were (it was) certain men, seven sons, &c. who attempted this .

Verse 15

15. ] The narrative, from describing the nature of the attempt, passes to a single case in which it was tried, and in which (see below) two only of the brothers were apparently concerned.

No difference between γινώσκω and ἐπίσταμαι must be pressed: the two verbs are apparently used as separating Jesus and Paul, so that they do not stand together in the same category: as in E. V., Jesus I know, and Paul I know : the One being God in heaven, the other man on earth.

Verse 16

16. ἀμφοτέρων ] The weight of manuscript evidence for this reading is even surpassed by its internal probability. There would be every reason, as seven have been before mentioned, for altering it into αὐτῶν : but no imaginable one for substituting it for αὐτῶν . Two only , it would seem, were thus employed on this particular occasion: and Luke has retained the word as it stood in the record furnished to him. Whether any similar occurrence happened to the rest, we are not informed: this one is selected as most notorious.

γυμνούς ] With their clothes torn off them.

Verse 18

18. ] The natural effect of such an occurrence was to induce a horror of magical arts, &c., which some were still continuing to countenance or practise secretly, together with a profession of Christianity. Such persons now came forward and confessed their error. The πράξεις of this verse denotes the association with such practices: the next verse treats of the magicians themselves .

Verse 19

19. περίεργα ] ‘ male sedula ’ (‘ curiosa ,’ Hor. Epod. xviii. 25). τὶς τῶν περιέργων in Aristænet. Ep. ii. 18, is ‘ a magician ’ (Kuin.).

τὰς βίβλους ] Magical formulæ , or receipt-books , or written amulets . These last were celebrated by the name of Ἐφέσια γράμματα . So Eustath [97] ad Hom. Od. τ . p. 694 (Kuin.): Ἐφέσια γράμματα ἐπῳδαὶ γάρ τινες φασὶν ἐκεῖναι ἦσαν , ἃς καὶ Κροῖσος ἐπὶ τῆς πυρᾶς εἰπὼν ὠφελήθη · καὶ ἐν Ὀλυμπίᾳ δὲ φασί , Μιλησίου καὶ Ἐφεσίου παλαιόντων τὸν Μιλήσιον μὴ δύνασθαι παλαίειν διὰ τὸ τὸν ἕτερον περὶ τῷ ἀστραγάλῳ ἔχειν τὰ Ἐφέσια γράμματα · ὧν γνωσθέντων καὶ λυθέντων αὐτῷ , τριακοντάκις τὸ ἑξῆς πεσεῖν τὸν Ἐφέσιον . See more illustrations in Wetst. They were copies of the mystic words engraved on the image of the Ephesian Artemis. Eustath [98] in C. and H. ii. 16.

[97] Eustathius, Bp. of Antioch, 323

[98] Eustathius, Bp. of Antioch, 323

ἀργ . μυρ . πέν .] 50,000 drachmæ, i.e. denarii: for the drachma of the Augustan and following ages was not the real Attic drachma, but the Roman denarius about 8½ d . of our money: which makes the entire value about £1770. That drachmæ and not shekels (Grot., Hamm.) are meant, is plain: for Luke is writing of a Grecian town, and to a Greek.

Verse 20

20. κατὰ κράτος ] “Eo modo dicitur urbs αἱρεῖσθαι κατὰ κράτος , quæ vi expugnatur , apud Plut. Apophth. p. 176. Hinc lucem mutuatur locus, Acts 19:20 , ubi dicitur verbum Domini κατὰ κράτος ἰσχύειν , per vim invalescere , quasi oppugnans et vi expugnans corda hominum.” Hermann on Viger, p. 632. So κατὰ μικρόν , κατ ʼ ὀλίγον , καθ ʼ ὑπερβολήν , κατὰ κόσμον . See Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 241, f.

Verse 21

21. ταῦτα ] The occurrences of Acts 19:19-20 .

ἐν τῷ πν .] An expression mostly used by Paul, see ref.

δεῖ ] As he was sent to the Gentiles, he saw that the great metropolis of the Gentile world was the legitimate centre of his apostolic working. Or perhaps he speaks under some divine intimation that ultimately he should be brought to Rome. If so, his words were literally fulfilled. He did see Rome after he had been at Jerusalem this next time: but after considerable delay, and as a prisoner. Cf. the same design expressed by him, Romans 1:15 ; Romans 15:23-28 ; and Paley’s remarks in the Horæ Paulinæ.

Verse 22

22. ] He intended himself to follow after Pentecost, 1 Corinthians 16:8 . This mission of Timothy is alluded to 1 Corinthians 4:17 (see ib. 1Co 1:1 ); 1 Corinthians 16:10 . The object of it was to bring these churches in Macedonia and Achaia into remembrance of the ways and teaching of Paul. It occurred shortly before the writing of 1 Cor. He was ( 1Co 16:11 ) soon to return: but considerable uncertainty hangs over this journey. We find him again with Paul in Macedonia, 2 Corinthians 1:1 ; but apparently he had not reached Corinth. See 1 Corinthians 16:10 ; and 2 Corinthians 12:18 , where he would probably have been mentioned, had he done so.

On the difficult question respecting a journey of Paul himself to Corinth during this period, see notes, 2 Corinthians 12:14 ; 2 Corinthians 13:1 , and Prolegg. to 1 Cor. § v.

Ἔραστον ] This Erastus can hardly be identical with the Erastus of Romans 16:23 , who must have been resident at Corinth: see there: and therefore hardly either with the Erastus of 2 Timothy 4:20 ; see note there.

εἰς τ . Ἀσίαν ] i.e. in (but beware of imagining εἰς to be ‘ put for ’ ἐν , here or any where. It gives the direction of the tarrying, as in the expressions ἐς δόμους μένειν , Soph. Ag. 80, and διεκαρτέρουν εἰς τὴν πατρίδα , Lycurg. cont. Leocr., p. 158. It is far better to take it thus, with Meyer, than with Winer, Gr., edn. 6, § 50.4. b, as importing ‘in favour of,’ ‘for the benefit of’) Ephesus: Asia is named by way of contrast with Macedonia, just before mentioned. This is evident by the following event taking place at Ephesus.

Verse 24

24. ναοὺς ἀργ . ] These were small models ( ἀφιδρύματα ) of the celebrated temple of the Ephesian Artemis, with her statue, which it was the custom to carry on journeys, and place in houses, as a charm. Chrys. καὶ πῶς ἔνι ναοὺς ἀργυροῦς γενέσθαι ; ἴσως ὡς κιβώρια μικρά . Ammian. Marcellin. xxii. 13: ‘Asclepiades philosophus … deæ cœlestis argenteum breve figmentum quocunque ibat secum solitus efferre.…’ Diod. Sic. i. 15: ναοὺς χουσοῦς δύο . Dio Cass. xxxix. 20: νεὼς Ἥρας βραχὺς ἐπὶ τραπέζης τινὸς πρὸς ἀνατολῶν ἱδρυμένος . We may find an exact parallel in the usages of that corrupt form of Christianity, which, whatever it may pretend to teach, in practice honours similarly the “great goddess” of its imagination.

Verse 25

25. τὰ τοιαῦτα ] All sorts of memorials or amulets connected with the worship of Artemis.

Dean Howson (ii. p. 98) suggests that possibly Alexander the coppersmith may have been one of these craftsmen: see 2 Timothy 4:14 .

Verse 26

26. ] The people believed that the images themselves were gods: τὰ χαλκᾶ καὶ τὰ γραπτὰ καὶ λίθινα μὴ μαθόντες , μηδὲ ἐθισθέντες ἀγάλματα καὶ τιμὰς θεῶν , ἀλλὰ θεοὺς καλεῖν . Plutarch de Isid [99] p. 379, c (Wetst.): see ch. Acts 17:29 .

[99] Isidore of Pelusium, 412

And so it is invariably, wherever images are employed professedly as media of worship.

The genitives Ἐφ . and Ἀς . are governed by ὄχλον

Verse 27

27. ] ἡμῖν is best taken as the dativus incommodi , not for ἡμῶν , nor with τὸ μέρος , but with κινδυνεύει .

μέρος , as we say, department .

ἀλλὰ καί ] but that eventually even the temple itself of the great goddess Artemis will be counted for nothing . μεγάλη was the usual epithet of the Ephesian Artemis: Xen. Ephes. i. p. 15: ὀμνύω τε τὴν πάτριον ἡμῖν θεόν , τὴν μεγάλην Ἐφεσίων Ἄρτεμιν . There is an inscription in Boeckh, 2963 c, containing the words της μεγαλης θεας αρτεμιδος προ πολεως . The same inscription also mentions γραμματεύς and ἀνθυπατος . C. and H. ii. 98.

The temple of Artemis at Ephesus, having been burnt to the ground by Herostratus on the night of the birth of Alexander the Great (B.C. 355), was restored with increased magnificence, and accounted one of the wonders of the ancient world. Its dimensions were 425 X 220 feet, and it was surrounded by 127 columns, 60 feet high. It was standing in all its grandeur at this time. See C. and H. ch. 16 vol. ii. pp. 84 ff.

τῆς μεγαλειότητος is the more difficult and probably original reading: and that she should be deposed from her greatness, whom &c.

Verse 29

29. εἰς τὸ θέατρον ] The resort of the populace on occasions of excitement, as Wetst. shews by many instances. So Tacit Hist. ii. 80, ‘Tum Antiochensium theatrum ingressus, ubi illis consultare mos est .’ ‘Of the site of the theatre, the scene of the tumult raised by Demetrius, there can be no doubt, its ruins being a wreck of immense grandeur. I think it must have been larger than the one at Miletus; and that exceeds any I have elsewhere seen.… Its form alone can now be spoken of, for every seat is removed, and the proscenium is a heap of ruins.’ Fellows, Asia Minor, p. 274. ‘The theatre of Ephesus is said to be the largest known of any that have remained to us from antiquity.’ C. and H. ii. p. 83, note 3.

συναρπ .] It is not implied that they seized Gaius and Aristarchus before they rushed into the theatre: compare προσευξάμενοι εἶπαν , ch. Acts 1:24 , also ch. Acts 18:27 , and Winer, edn. 6, § 45. 6. b.

Γάϊον ] A different person from the Gaius of ch. Acts 20:4 , who was of Derbe, and from the Gaius of Romans 16:23 , and 1 Corinthians 1:14 , who was evidently a Corinthian. Aristarchus is mentioned ch. Acts 20:4 ; Acts 27:2 ; Colossians 4:10 ; Philemon 1:24 . He was a native of Thessalonica.

Verse 31

31. Ἀσιαρχῶν ] The Asiarchæ were officers elected by the cities of the province of Asia to preside over their games and religious festivals. Of these it would be natural that the one who for the time presided would bear the title of ὁ Ἀσιάρχος : cf. Eus [100] H. E. iv. 15: but no more is known of such presidency. Wetst. quotes several inscriptions and coins in which the name occurs, and cites many analogous names of like officers elsewhere: Ciliciarcha, Syriarcha, Phœniciarcha, Helladarcha, &c. The Asiarch Philip at Smyrna is mentioned by Eusebius (H. E. iv. 15) as presiding in the amphitheatre at the martyrdom of Polycarp. These Ephesian games in honour of Artemis took place in May, which whole month (another singular coincidence with the practices of idolatrous Christendom) was sacred to, and named Artemisian after, the goddess. In Boeckh, Inscr. 2954, we have the decree ὅλον τὸν μῆνα τὸν ἐπώνυμον τοῦ θείου ὀνόματος εἶναι ἱερὸν καὶ ἀνακεῖσθαι τῇ θεῷ , ἄγεσθαι δὲ ἐπ ʼ αὐταῖς (scil. τοῦ μηνὸς ἡμέραις ) τὰς ἑορτὰς καὶ τὴν τῶν Ἀρτεμισίων πανήγυριν . C. and H. ii. 95.

[100] Eusebius, Bp. of Cæsarea, 315 320

δοῦναι ] Kypke remarks: ‘latet in phrasi, quod periculum Paulo in theatro immineat.’ E. V. adventure himself ; an excellent translation.

Verse 33

33. ] ἐκ τ . ὄχλ . some of the multitude.

προεβ . urged forward , through the crowd; the Jews pushing him on from behind, ‘propellentibus.’

It is uncertain whether this Alexander is mentioned elsewhere (but see on 2Ti 4:14 ). He appears to have been a Christian convert from Judaism, whom the Jews were willing to expose as a victim to the fury of the mob: or perhaps one of themselves, put forward to clear them of blame on the occasion.

Verse 34

34. ἐπιγνόντες ] The nom. is an anacoluthon, as in ch. Act 24:5 al. See Winer, edn. 6, § 63, i. 1.

They would hear nothing from a Jew, as being an enemy of image-worship.

Verse 35

35. καταστ .] When he had quieted, lulled, the crowd.

ὁ γραμματεύς ] the town-clerk is the nearest English office corresponding to it. He was the keeper of the archives and public reader of decrees, &c., in the assemblies. Thucyd. vii. 10, τὴν ἐπιστολὴν ἐπέδοσαν · ὁ δὲ γραμματεὺς τῆς πόλεως παρελθὼν ἀνέγνω τοῖς Ἀθηναίοις . ‘Among the Ephesian inscriptions in Boeckh, we find the following: Μ . Ι . Αυρ . Διονυσιον τον ιεροκηρυκα και β ασιαρχον εκ των ιδιων Τ. Φλ. Μουνατιος φιλοσεβαστος ο γραμματευς καὶ ασιαρχησας . No. 2990.’ C. and H. ii. 96.

γάρ gives a reason for the καταστείλας . See Herm. on Viger, p. 829.

νεωκόρον ] Probably a virger or adorner (Suidas says, not a sweeper : ὁ τὸν νεὼν κοσμῶν κ . εὐτρεπίζων , ἀλλ ʼ οὐχ ὁ σαρῶν ) of the temple: here used as implying that Ephesus had the charge and keeping of the temple. The title is found (Wetst.) on inscriptions as belonging to Ephesus: η φιλοσεβαστος Εφεσιων βουλη και ο νεωκορος δημος καθιερωσαν επι ανθυπατου Πεδουκαιου Πρεισκεινου ψηφισαμενου Τιβ . Κλ . Ιταλικου του γραμματεως του δημου (Boeckh, No. 2966); and seems to have been specially granted by the emperors to particular cities: thus we have ὅσα ἐπετύχομεν παρὰ τοῦ κυρίου Καίσαρος Ἀδριανοῦ δἰ Ἀντωνίου πολέμωνος δεύτερον δόγμα συγκλήτου , καθ ʼ ὃ δὶς νεωκόροι γεγόναμεν : and on coins of Hadrian, Ἐφεσίων δὶς νεωκόρων , &c.: and similarly of Elagabalus, Νικομηδέων τρὶς νεωκόρων : of Maximin [101] , Μαγνήτων νεωκόρων Ἀρτέμιδος . See also C. and H. ii. p. 89, where will be found an engraving of a coin exhibiting both the words νεωκόρος and ἀνθύπατος ( Act 19:38 ).

[101] Maximin, the Arian, cited by Aug .

τ . διοπετοῦς ] To give peculiar sanctity to various images, it was given out that they had fallen from heaven; so Euripides of the statue of Artemis at Tauris, ἔνθ ʼ Ἄρτεμις σὴ σύγγονος βωμοὺς ἔχει , | λαβεῖν τ ʼ ἄγαλμα θεᾶς ὃ φασὶν ἐνθάδε | εἰς τούσδε ναοὺς οὐρανοῦ πεσεῖν ἄπο . Iph. Taur. 86, and 977, he calls it διοπετὲς ἄγαλμα , οὐρανοῦ πέσημα . So also Pausan. Att. 26, τὸ δὲ ἁγιώτατον … ἐστὶν Ἀθηνᾶς ἄγαλμα ἐν τῇ νῦν ἀκροπόλει … φήμη δ ʼ ἐς αὐτὸ ἔχει , πεσεῖν ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ .

The image is described by Pliny, xvi. 72: ‘de ipso simulacro Deæ ambigitur. Cæteri ex ebeno esse tradunt: Mucianus ter consul ex his qui, proxime viso eo, scripsere, vitigineum, et nunquam mutatum, septies restituto templo.’

Verse 37

37. ] From this verse it appears that Paul had proceeded at Ephesus with the same caution as at Athens, and had not held up to contempt the worship of Artemis, any further than unavoidably the truths which he preached would render it contemptible. This is also manifest from his having friends among the Asiarchs, Acts 19:31 . Chrysostom, however, treats this assertion of the town-clerk merely as a device to appease the people: τοῦτο ψεῦδος · ταῦτα μὲν πρὸς τὸν δῆμον .

γάρ refers to the προπετές with which he had charged them: ‘and this caution is not unneeded, for &c.’ see Meyer; and Herm. as above, on Acts 19:35 .

Verse 38

38. ἀγόραιοι ] court-days (the grammarians distinguish ἀγοραῖος , ‘circumforaneus,’ an idler in the market, and ἀγόραιος , as in our text: so Suidas: but Ammonius vice versâ : and the distinction is now believed to be mere pedantry): and ἄγονται implies that they were then actually going on. They were the periodical assizes of the district, held by the proconsul and his assessors (see below). The Latin phrase for ἀγοραίους ἄγειν was conventus agere , or peragere , or convocare ; cf. Cæs [102] B. G. i. 54; Acts 19:1 ; viii. 46. Hence the district itself was called conventus . See Smith’s Dict. of Antiquities, art. Conventus.

[102] Cæsarius of Constantinople, 368

Pliny, H. N. Act 19:29 fin., mentions Ephesus as one of these assize towns.

ἀνθύπατοι ] there are (such things as) proconsuls : the fit officers before whom to bring these causes: a categoric plural. So the Commentators generally. But may not the ‘consiliarii’ of the proconsul who were his assessors at the ‘conventus,’ held in the provinces, have themselves popularly borne the name? We find in Jos. B. J. ii. 16. 1, that Cestius, the ἡγεμών of Syria, on receiving an application respecting Florus’s conduct at Jerusalem, μετὰ ἡγεμόνων ἐβουλεύετο , which ἡγεμόνες were his assessors , or consiliarii . (See on ch. Acts 25:12 , and Smith’s Dict. of Antt., ut supra.)

ἐγκαλ . ἀλλ . ] let them (the plaintiffs and defendants) plead against one another.

Verse 39

39. ] ‘Legitimus cœtus est, qui a magistrate civitatis convocatur et regitur.’ Grot. The art. points out the regularly recurring assembly, of which they all knew.

Verse 40

40. ] γάρ assumes that this assembly was an unlawful one.

μηδενὸς κ . τ . λ .] There being no ground why (i.e. in consequence of which) we shall be able to give an account, i.e. ‘no ground whereon to build the possibility of our giving an account.’ The reading περὶ οὗ οὐ (see digest) seems to involve the sentence in almost inextricable confusion. To read περὶ τῆς συστ . τ . and take it in apposit. with περὶ οὗ , ‘hujus rei, videlicet conventus hujus’ (Bornemann), is very harsh.

Bibliographical Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Acts 19". Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hac/acts-19.html. 1863-1878.
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