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Bible Commentaries
Acts 28

Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New TestamentMeyer's Commentary

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Acts 28:1 . ἐπέγνωσαν ] Lachm. Tisch. Born. read ἐπέγνωμεν , according to A B C א , min. and most vss. Rightly; the third person was introduced with a retrospective view to Acts 27:39 , through the connection with the concluding words of Acts 27:44 .

Acts 28:2 . ἀνάψαντες ] Lachm. Born. read ἁψαντες , according to A B C א , min. But AN was liable to omission even in itself, and especially through the preceding N.

Acts 28:3 . ἐχ ] Lachm. Tisch. Born. read ἀπό , which is decidedly attested, and therefore to be adopted.

διεξελθοῦσα ] So Tisch. Born. Scholz, according to A G H, min. Chrys. Theophyl. But Elz. and Lachm. have ἐξελθοῦσα . The double compound was the more easily neglected as it was not elsewhere known from the N.T.

Acts 28:5 . ἀποτινάξας ] ἀποτιναξάμενος , although adopted by Scholz and Tisch., is not sufficiently attested by A G H, min.

Acts 28:10 . τὴν χρείαν ] Lachm. Tisch. Born, have τὰς χρείας , according to A B J א , min. A gloss on τὰ πρὸς τὴν χρείαν , after Acts 20:34 .

Acts 28:14 . ἐπʼ αὐτοῖς ] Lachm. and Born., following A B J א , min., read παρʼ αὐτοῖς , which was introduced as explanatory.

Acts 28:16 . ὁ ἑκατόνταρχος … στρατοπεδάρχῃ ] is wanting (so that the passage continues: ἐπετράπη τῷ II.) in A B א lo ti 40, Chrys. and most vss. Condemned by Mill, Bengel, and others, suspected by Griesb., and deleted by Lachm. and Tisch. Defended especially by Born. in Rosenm. Repert. II. p. 301 f. The words, attested by G H and most min. Ar. p. Slav. Theophyl. Oec., have certainly the suspicion of being an expansion. Yet in opposition to their rejection we may urge, first, that there are no variations in detail, as is the general rule with interpolations; secondly, that the writer of a gloss, instead of τῷ στρατοπεδ ., would probably have written the more readily occurring plural; and thirdly, that in transcribing one might very easily pass from ἐκατοντ ΑΡΧΟΣ directly to στρατοπεδ ΑΡΧΗ , which corruption would then produce the form of Lachmann’s text.

Acts 28:17 . αὐτόν ] Elz. has τὸν Παῦλον , against A B א , min. Chrys. and several vss. The name came in, because in Acts 28:17 a separate new act of the history commences; therefore also Chrys. has once, and indeed at the beginning of a homily, τ . Παῦλ .

Acts 28:19 . χατηγορῆσαι ] A B א , min. have χατηγορεῖν , which Lachm. Tisch. and Born. have adopted. Rightly; χατηγορῆσαι is a mechanical alteration, in conformity with ἐπικαλέσασθαι .

Acts 28:23 . ἧκον ] A B א , min. have ἦλθον . Recommended by Griesb. and adopted by Lachm. The extremely common word has been involuntarily substituted for the classical imperfect ηκον , not elsewhere occurring in the N.T.

τὰ περί ] Lachm. Tisch. Born. have only περί , following A B H א , min. vss. Comp. on Acts 8:12 , Acts 21:8 .

Acts 28:25 . ἡμῶν ] A B א , min. vss. Fathers have ὑμῶν , which Lachm. and Tisch. have adopted. The Recepta is justly supported by Born. The tone and contents of the speech, conveying censure and rejection, involuntarily suggested the second person to the transcribers. Comp. Acts 7:51 f.

Acts 28:27 . ἰάσωμαι ] A B G H א , min. Theophyl. have ἰάσομαι , recommended by Griesb. and adopted by Tisch. Rightly; see on John 7:40 .

Acts 28:28 . τὸ σωτήρ .] Lachm. Tisch. Born. read τοῦτο τὸ σωτήρ , according to A B א * min. Chrys. and several vss. The omission of τοῦτο , which has no express reference in the text, is quite in keeping with the inattention of transcribers

Acts 28:29 is entirely wanting in A B E א , loti 13, 40, 68, Lect. 1, Syr. Erp. Copt. Vulg. ms. In the Syr. p. it is marked as suspected by an asterisk. Condemned by Mill and others, deleted by Lachm. and Tisch. Very suspicious as an interpolated conclusion of the whole transaction (according to Acts 28:25 ). Yet it is saved from complete rejection by the fact, that here also in detail there are only found very immaterial variations.

Acts 28:30 . After ἔμεινε δἑ , instead of which there is to be read, with Tisch., according to B א lo ti 13, ἐνέμεινεν δέ , Elz. has ὁ Παῦλος , against witnesses of very considerable importance. See on Acts 28:17 .

Verse 1

Acts 28:1 . Τότε ] then, after our rescue, we recognised ; looks back to Acts 27:39 .

That by Μελίτη is to be understood the well-known modern Malta (Diod. Sic. v. 12; Strabo, vi. 2, p. 277; Cic. Verr . vi. 46; Ovid. Fast . iii. 567 f.: Fertilis est Melite, sterili vicina Cosyrae, Insula quam Libyci verberat unda freti) , and not as some of the older commentators, following Constantin. Porph. de administr. imper. p. 36 (see in Wolf, and in Winer, Realw .), would infer partly from ἐν τῷ Ἀδρίᾳ , Acts 27:27 , partly from βάρβαροι , Acts 28:2 , and partly from the observed fact (which, though true in the present day, cannot at all be made good for those times) that there are no venomous serpents in Malta the island now called Meleda in the Adriatic Gulf, not far from the Illyrian coast (Apoll. Rhod. Arg . iv. 572), is proved as well by the previous long tossing about of the ship, which was hardly possible with a continued storm in the Adriatic Gulf, as more especially by the direction of the further voyage, Acts 28:11-12 . The local tradition, also, in Malta, is in favour of it (Beza on Acts 27:41 ; Smith, Vömel, Hackett). In the Act. Petri et Pauli 1, the island is called Γαυδομελέτη .

Verse 2

Acts 28:2 . Βάρβαροι ] from a Roman point of view, because they were neither Greeks nor Romans, but of Punic descent, and therefore spoke a mixed dialect, neither Greek nor Latin. It was not till the second Punic war that Malta came under the dominion of the Romans, Liv. xxi. 51.

οὐ τ . τυχοῦσαν ] See on Acts 19:11 .

προσελάβ .] they took us to themselves . Comp. on Romans 14:1 .

διὰ τ . ὑετὸν τ . ἐφεστ .] on account of the rain which had set in . Comp. Polyb. xviii. 3. 7 : διὰ τὸν ἐφεστῶτα ζόφον .

ψῦχος ] thus to be accented, although in opposition to a preponderance of codd. (see Lipsius, gramm. Unters . p. 44), not ψύχος . See Hom. Od. x. 555; Soph. Phil. 17.

Verse 3

Acts 28:3 . Ἀπὸ τ . θέρμ .] (see the critical remarks) on account of the heat. [176] See Winer, p. 348 [E. T.465]; Hermann, ad Arist. Nub. 834. The reading ἐκ would have to be rendered: from out of the heat.

διεξελθοῦσα ] Plat. Pol . iii. p. 405 C; Phaed . p. 109 E; Xen. Anab . vi. 6. 38; 2 Samuel 2:23 . It denotes that the viper came out from the brushwood in which it was, and through the layer of the same which was above it. See Bornemann, and Kühner, ad Xen. Anab . vi. 6. 38.

καθῆψε τῆς χειρὸς αὐτοῦ ] it seized on his hand . Comp. Arr. Epict . iii. 10. 20; Lobeck, ad Aj . 700. The reading καθήψατο , recommended by Griesbach, following C, min. Chrysostom, al. , appears to be an emendation. That this καθῆψε took place by means of a bite , Luke himself makes sufficiently evident in Acts 28:4 by κρεμάμενον … ἐκ τῆς χειρὸς αὐτοῦ ; but it follows decidedly, and without rashly leaping to a conclusion, from the judgment, from the expectation, and from the subsequent ἜΛΕΓΟΝ ΘΕῸΝ ΑὐΤ . ΕἾΝΑΙ of the Melitenses, Acts 28:4 ; Acts 28:6 , in all which it is necessarily presupposed that they, the near bystanders, had actually seen the bite of the serpent. From this at the same time it follows just as certainly, that the animal must have been definitely known to the islanders as a poisonous viper. Hence we must reject the view of Bochart, Hieroz . ii. 3, p. 369: “illigavit se etc., nempe ut … morderet, sed earn cohibuit Deus, sicut leones illos, Daniel 4:22 ,” and of Kuinoel (comp. Heinrichs): “erat autem vipera ista aut non venenata, etsi Melitenses eam pro venenata habuerint, aut si erat, insinuavit quidem se Pauli manui, non vero momordit.” The latter (also hinted at by Ewald) follows least of all from ἔπαθεν οὐδὲν κακόν , Acts 28:5 , by which the very absence of result (brought about by special divine help) is placed in contrast with the poisonous bite. Nevertheless, Lange ( apost. Zeitalt . II. p. 344 f.) supposes that the reptile may have hung encircling his hand without biting, and Lekebusch, p. 382, that Luke had in view the alternative contained in Kuinoel’s explanation. Indeed, according to Hausrath, the judgment in Acts 28:5 is only ascribed to the islanders by Luke. They were, as he thinks, aware that there were no poisonous serpents with them, and that thus the bite was not dangerous.

[176] On the late form θέρμη , instead of θέρμη , see Lobeck, ad Phryn . p. 331.

Verses 4-5

Acts 28:4-5 . Ἐκ τῆς χειρ . αὐτ .] from his hand, so that it hung fastened with its mouth in the wound. Comp. Kühner, § 622 c.

πάντως φονεύς ἐστιυ κ . τ . λ .] he is at all events a murderer , etc. From the fact that the stranger, though he had escaped from shipwreck, yet had now received this deadly bite, the people inferred that it was the work of Δίκη , who was now carrying out her sentence, and requiting like with like, killing with killing. Perhaps it had been already told to them, that Paul was a prisoner; in that case their inference was the more natural. The opinion of Elsner, to which Wolf, Kuinoel, and Lange accede, that the people might have deduced their inference from the locality of the (supposed) bite, according to the idea that punishment overtakes the member with which a crime is committed (Spanheim, ad Callim. in Cer. 64), is to be rejected for the very reason, that in fact from a bite on the hand any other crime committed by the hand might quite as well be inferred.

εἴασεν ] not sinit (Vulgate, Luther, and others), but sivit ; they regard the bite as so certainly fatal.

On the goddess Δίκη ), the avenger of crime (Hesiod. Op. 256 ff.), Justitia , the daughter of Zeus (Hesiod. Theog. 902), and ξύνεδρος or πάρεδρος (Soph. Oed. Col. 1384; Arrian. iv. 9), see Mitscherlich, ad Hor. Od. iii. 2. 32; Ellendt, Lex. Soph . I. p. 432; Jacobs, ad Anthol. IX. p. 345. How the islanders named the goddess to whom Luke gives the Greek name Δίκη , or whether perhaps they had received the Greek Δίκη among their divinities, is not to be decided.

On the active ἀποτινάσσειν , to shake off , comp. Luke 9:5 ; Lamentations 2:7 .

Verse 6

Acts 28:6 . But when they waited long (not: expectassent ), and saw , etc. On ἄτοπον of abnormal corporeal changes , see examples in Wetstein and Kypke. Not even the expected swelling ( πιμπρ .) occurred.

εἰς αὐτὸν γινόμ .] taking place on him . See on Luke 4:23 ; comp. Plut. Mor . p. 786 C: αἱ εἰς σάρκα … γινόμεναι κινήσεις .

μεταβάλλεσθαι ] to turn themselves round, to change , often used even by classical writers to express change of view or opinion (without, however, supplying τὴν γνώμην ). Dem. 205. 19, 349. 25, and see Kypke.

θεὸν αὐτὸν εἶναι ] The good-natured people, running immediately into extremes with the inferiority of their rational training, think that he is a god appearing in human form, because they could not reconcile the complete want of result from the poisonous bite of the viper, well known to them in its effects, with the knowledge which they had derived from experience of the constitution of an ordinary human body. Ὑπερβολὴ τιμῆς ὥσπερ καὶ τῶν ὄχλων τῶν ἐν Λυκαονίᾳ (Acts 14:11 ff.), Chrysostom. Bengel well remarks “aut latro inquiunt aut Deus …; datur tertium; homo Dei .” The people themselves do not say ( θεόν ) that they meant a definite, particular god (Grotius, Heinsius, Alberti conjecture Hercules ἀλεξίκακος ; Wetstein, Aesculapius ; Sepp, one of the two). Zeller finds in Acts 28:6 simply an unhistorical addition “in the miraculous style of our chap. 16.,” which character belongs still more decidedly to the cures in Acts 28:8-9 .

Verses 7-10

Acts 28:7-10 . The otherwise unknown Publius, the πρῶτος τῆς νήσου , is to be considered as the chief magistrate of the island. But this is not so much to be proved from the inscription, discovered in Malta, quoted by Grotius and Bochart, Geogr. ii. 1. 26 (… ΠΡΟΥΔΗΝΖ . ΙΠΠΕΥΣ . ΡΟΜ . ΠΡΩΤΟΣ . ΜΕΛΙΤΑΙΩΝ …), as it may, both in that inscription and in this passage, be justly inferred from the nature of the case itself; for certainly the Roman governor, that is, the legate of the praetor of Sicily, to which praetorship Malta belonged (Cic. Verr. iv. 18), had the first rank on the small island.

ἀναδεξ . ἡμᾶς ] Acts 28:10 proves that this ἡμᾶς applies not to the whole ship’s company (so Baumgarten), but to Paul, Luke, and Aristarchus (Acts 27:2 ). Certainly the wonderful course of things in connection with the bite of the viper had directed the interest of the humane man to Paul. And Paul repaid his kindness by the restoration of his sick father.

Acts 28:8 . πυρετοῖς ] The plural denotes the varying fever fits; Dem. 1260. 20; Lucian, Philops . 9. Observe how accurately Luke as a technical eye-witness designates the disease.

δυσεντερίᾳ ] dysentery , Herod. viii. 115; Plat. Tim. p. 86 A; see Cels. iv. 15. Yet the later neuter form δυσεντερίῳ (see Lobeck, ad Phryn . p. 518) is so strongly attested that it has been rightly adopted by Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Bornemann.

Acts 28:9-10 . ἐθεραπεύοντο ] namely, by Paul, Acts 28:8 . [177] The conjecture, based on the following ἩΜᾶς (Acts 28:10 ), that Luke as a physician was not unconcerned in these cures (Lekebusch, p. 382), is not only against the analogy of Acts 28:8 , but altogether against the spirit and tendency of the narrative, and indeed of the book.

ΠΟΛΛΑῖς ΤΙΜΑῖς ἘΤΊΜ . ἩΜᾶς Κ . Τ . Λ . ] They honoured us with many marks of honour ; and when we set sail (were on the point of sailing), they placed on (the ship) what was necessary (provisions, and perhaps also money and other requisites for the journey). Many expositors render τιμαῖς ἐτίμ ., muneribus ornarunt ; but in that case, as in Sir 38:1 , the context must undoubtedly have suggested this special showing of honour (by rewards). Comp. Xen. Anab. vii. 3. 19. Even in the well-known honos habendus medico (Cic. ad Div. xvi. 9) the general honos is not to be exclusively restricted to the honorarium. In 1 Timothy 5:17 also τιμῆς is quite generally honoris . While the very command of Christ, Matthew 10:8 , is antagonistic to the explanation praemiis orna-runt in our passage, the context is also against it, which represents the actual aid ( ἐπέθεντο τὰ πρὸς τ . χρείαν ) as a proof of gratitude different from that quite general ΠΟΛΛΑῖς ΤΙΜΑῖς ἘΤΊΜ . ἩΜᾶς , both in point of substance ( ΤΙΜΑῖς ΤᾺ ΠΡῸς ΤῊΝ ΧΡΕΊΑΝ ) and in point of time ( ἈΝΑΓΟΜΈΝΟΙς ).

Tradition makes Publius afterwards bishop of Malta; Martyrolog. 21 Jan.

[177] From the popular representation, ver. 9, it is not to be inferred, with Baumgarten, that not a single sick person remained uncured in the island. This Luke would have known how to bring out with corresponding emphasis, especially if he, like Baumgarten, had thought on the fulfilment of Exodus 15:26 , and had conceived to himself Malta in a fanciful manner as emblematic of the completed kingdom of God.

Verse 11

Acts 28:11 . Παρασήμῳ Διοσκούροις ] παρασ . is not an adjective ( marked with the Dioscuri ), as the adjective παράσημος has always a derogatory reference ( e.g. falsely stamped, stigmatised, ill-famed, etc.), but a substantive , so that the dative is connected with ἀνήχθημεν : we put to sea … with a sign, which was the Dioscuri . An image of the Dioscuri was, namely, the ship’s device, i.e. the παράσημον (Plut. Mor. p. 162 A, and see Wetstein) or ἐπίσημον (Herod. viii. 88), the insigne of the ship. This name was given to the image of a divinity, of an animal, or of any other selected object, which was to be found either painted or sculptured on the prow (Lucian, Nav . 5) See on this, as well as on the distinction from the image of the Tutela navis at the stern, Ruhnken, de tutel. et ins. nav. p. 5, 42; Drackenb. and Ruperti, ad Sil. It. 16:84; the interpreters, ad Hor. Od. i. 14. 14; Stanl. ad Aesch . II. p. 751.

For such a παράσημον the image of the Dioscuri was very suitably chosen, as Castor and Pollux (“fratres Helenae, lucida sidera,” Hor. Od. i. 3. 2) were honoured as the ἀρωγοναῦται and generally as protectors in dangers. See Wetstein, and Lobeck, Aglaoph. p. 1231 f. On the forms under which they were represented, see Müller, Archaol . § 414. On the modes of writing Διόσκουροι and Διόσκοροι , see Lobeck, ad Phryn . p. 235; Pflugk, ad Eur. Hec. 943.

The mention of the ship’s sign belongs to the special accuracy of the recollection of an eye-witness. According to Baumgarten, Luke designs to intimate “that in this vessel there did not prevail that former presumptuous security, but confidence in a super-human protection and assistance.” So much the more arbitrarily invented, as we know not what παράσημον the wrecked ship had. Luke has noticed the sign in the case of the one, and not in the other. It is conceivable enough, even without assuming any set purpose, that after the surmounted disaster his attention was the more alive to such a special feature in the ship in which they now embarked.

Verses 12-14

Acts 28:12-14 . The voyage proceeded in quite a regular course from Malta to Syracuse , and from that to Rhegium , [178] now Reggio, in the Sicilian Straits, and then through the Etruscan Sea to Puteoli , now Puzzuolo, near Naples.

ἐπιγενομένου Νότου ] when thereupon south wind (which favoured the voyage) had arisen .

The force of ἐπί is, in all places where ἐπιγίνεσθαι occurs of wind, as in Thuc. iv. 30. 1, et al ., not to be overlooked.

δευτεραῖοι ] as persons, who were on the second day, i.e. on the second day . Herod. iv. 106. Comp. on John 11:39 ; Philippians 3:5 .

ἀδελφούς ] Thus Christianity was already at that time in Puteoli (whether coming thither from Rome, or perhaps from Alexandria?).

Acts 28:14 . παρεκλήθημεν ἐπʼ αὐτοῖς ἐπιμεῖναι ] we were invited to remain with them .

ἐπʼ αὐτοῖς ] beside them . Comp. Xen. Anab. vii. 2. 1 : ἐπέμενον ἐπὶ τῇ στρατίᾳ , Cyrop. v. 3. 52; Plat. Lach. p. 144 A. Rinck (Lucubr. crit. p. 93), as also Ewald, prefers the reading ἐπιμείναντες , and takes (comp. Bengel) παρεκλ . ἐπʼ αὐτοῖς together: we were refreshed in them ; but the participle is much too weakly attested, and without doubt has only come into the text through this view of παρεκλ .

καὶ οὕτως εἰς τ . Ῥώμ . ἤλθ .] and thus (after we had first tarried seven days at Puteoli) we came to Rome . ἔρχεσθαι is neither here (in opposition to Beza, Grotius, de Dieu, Heinrichs, Kuinoel, and many others) nor elsewhere in the N.T. ire (not even in John 6:17 , where the imperfect is to be observed); but Luke narrates the arrival at Rome, and then in Acts 28:15 inserts by way of episode something special, which stood in close connection with this arrival; hence he again joins on Acts 28:16 by ὅτε δὲ ἤλθομεν εἰς Ῥ . to Acts 28:14 . Observe at the same time that in Acts 28:14 εἰς τ . Ῥώμ ., as the final aim of the voyage, but in Acts 28:16 ἤλθομεν , has the emphasis.

Moreover, the concession of a seven days’ stay, so near to the end of the journey, testifies how much Paul possessed the love and confidence of the centurion. The Book of Acts, however, gives us no information at all how Christianity was planted in the Italian cities and in Rome.

[178] ὅθεν περιελθόντες : from which after we had come round , from Syracuse round the eastern coast of Sicily. Not: after we had sailed round about (Lange, comp. Smith). Luke does not express himself with chartographic accuracy.

Verse 15

Acts 28:15 . Οί ἀδελφοί ] Considering the largeness which we must assume the church at Rome to have attained, according to Romans 16:3 ff., probably a numerous representation of it is to be conceived as present.

ἡμῖν ] appropriating dative of the pronoun. See Bernhardy, p. 98. Comp. John 12:13 .Matthew 8:34 ; Jdt 5:4 .

ἄχρις Ἀππίου φ . κ . Τριῶν ταβ .] καί : and , respectively. Luke narrates from the standpoint of the travellers. These came first to Forum Appii , a village on the Via Appia, 43 miles from Rome, and then to Tres-tabernae (Three-booths), an inn ten miles nearer to Rome; in both places they were received by the brethren (who thus went to meet them in two detachments). As they had tarried seven days at Puteoli, the Roman Christians might have obtained information timeously enough in order to come so far to meet them with the speed of love and reverence.

εὐχαρ . τ . Θεῷ ἔλαβε θάρσος ] How natural was it that Paul, to whom Rome , this ἐπιτομὴ τῆς οἰκουμένης (Athen. Deipnos . i. 20), had for so long been in view as a longed-for goal of his labours (Acts 19:21 , Acts 23:11 ; Romans 1:9 ff.), should now, at the sight of the brethren , who had thus from Rome carried their love forth to meet him, glow with gratitude to God, and in this elevated feeling receive confidence as to the development of his fate and as to his new sphere of work! According to Baumgarten, it is true, he saw at the same time in the Roman church, not founded by any apostle, “the identity and continuity” of the Pentecostal church of all which the text contains not a hint, as, indeed, such a fancy as to the founding of the church is by no means justified by the circumstances of the case being unknown to us.

Verse 16

Acts 28:16 . The two praefecti praetorio (commanders of the imperial body-guard) had the duty of providing for the custody of accused persons handed over from the provinces to the Emperor, Plin. Ep. x. 65; Philostr. Vit. scholast . ii. 32. That there was at that time only one praefect, namely Burrus, who died before the beginning of March 62, and after whose death there were again two, does not follow from the singular τῷ στρατοπ . (in opposition to Anger, Wieseler, and others); see Introduction, § 4. It is to be taken as: “to the praefectus praetorio concerned ” namely, who then had this duty of receiving (comp. ὁ ἱερεύς Acts 14:13 ), and to whose dwelling, therefore, the centurion repaired with a view to deliver over the prisoners. This does not suppose (as Wieseler objects) that the praefect received them in person ; he had his subalterns.

καθ ̓ ἑαυτόν ] for himself , apart from the other prisoners. See Acts 28:23 ; Acts 28:30 . This special favour is explained partly from the report of Festus, which certainly pointed to no crime (Acts 25:25 , Acts 26:31 ), and partly from the influence of the centurion who respected Paul, and would specially commend him as having saved the lives of all on board.

σὺν τῷ … στρατιώτῃ ] This was a praetorian (Grotius in loc .; Krebs, Opusc . p. 151 f.), to whom Paul, after the manner of the custodia militaris, was bound by the arm with a chain (Acts 28:20 ). See on Acts 24:27 .

Verse 17

Acts 28:17 . On the interview which now follows with the Jews it is to be observed: (1) that Paul even now remains faithful to his principle of trying his apostolic ministry in the first instance among the Jews, and thereby even as a prisoner complying with the divine order of the way of salvation: Ἰουδαίῳ τε πρῶτον καὶ Ἕλληνι , Romans 1:16 , and with the impulse of his own love to his people, Romans 9:1 ff., which the painful experiences of the past had not weakened. (2) He does this after three days , during which time he had without doubt devoted himself, first of all, to the Roman Christians . [179] (3) The fact that he commences his interview with the Jews by a self-justification is considering the suspicion with which he, as a prisoner, must have been regarded by them natural and accordant with duty, and does not presuppose any ulterior design (such as: to prevent a prejudicial influence of the Jews on his trial). (4) The historical character of these discussions with the Jews has unjustly been denied, and they have been wrongly referred to the apologetic design of the author (Baur, Zeller). See the details below at the passages appealed to.

μετὰ ἡμέρ . τρεῖς ] in which he might sufficiently occupy himself at the outset with the Roman Christians who came to him, as doubtless (in opposition to Zeller) he did in conformity with his long-cherished desire to see them (Romans 1:11 ff.).

τοὺς ὄντας τῶν Ἰουδ . πρώτους ] the existing (comp. Romans 13:1 ) chiefs of the Jews (comp. Luke 19:47 ; Acts 13:50 ; Acts 25:2 ), i.e. the Jewish leaders at that time in Rome.

οὐδὲν ἐναντίον κ . τ . λ .] although I have done nothing , etc. This Paul could say, as he had laboured only to conduct the nation to the salvation appointed for it, and only to bring the Mosaic institutions to their Messianic πλήρωσις . His antagonism to the law was directed against justification by the law. This, and not the abolition of the law in itself, was his radical contrast to the Jewish standpoint (in opposition to Zeller). Comp. on Acts 24:14 .

τῶν Ῥωμαίων ] refers to the procurator in Caesarea, who represented the Romans ruling over Palestine.

[179] That Luke gives no further information concerning the Roman church cannot surprise us (in opposition to Zeller, p. 373), as the theme of his book was the ministry of the apostles. A disagreement between Paul and the Roman church (Schneckenburger, p. 122) is not at all to be thought of; the church was not Judaizing, but Pauline. According to Zeller, the author has desired to make Paul appear as the proper founder of that church. But this is erroneous on account even of ver. 15, where, it is true, Zeller understands only isolated believers from Rome, who are assumed therefore not to presuppose any church there, as referred to. See, on the contrary, Ewald, Jahrb . IX. p. 66 f.

Verses 18-19

Acts 28:18-19 . This observation of the apostle, disclosing his presence at Rome thus brought about as a position of necessity , completes (comp. Acts 25:25 ) the narrative of Acts 25:9 . After his vindication (Acts 25:8 ) we are to conceive, namely, that Festus expresses his willingness to release him; this the Jews oppose (Acts 28:19 ), and now Festus proposes that Paul should allow himself to be judged in Jerusalem (Acts 25:9 ), whereupon the latter appeals to Caesar (Acts 25:11 ).

οὐχ ὡς τοῦ ἔθνους … κατηγορεῖν ] thus purely on the defensive, and not in unpatriotic hostility.

ἔχων and the present infinitive (see the critical remarks) refer to what Paul has to do now in Rome.

Verse 20

Acts 28:20 . Therefore (because I am here only as a constrained appellant, and entirely free from any hostile effort) I have invited you, to see you and to speak with you . Heinrichs, Kuinoel, Schott take it otherwise: “vos rogavi, ut me viseretis et mecum colloqueremini.” But the supplying of me and mecum is arbitrary, seeing that, in fact, ὑμᾶς and ὑμῖν are naturally suggested by the directly preceding ὑμᾶς ; besides, it is far more in keeping with courtesy for Paul to say that he desired to see and speak with them , than that he had requested them to see and speak with him .

ἕνεκεν γὰρ τῆς ἐλπίδος κ . τ . λ .] now contains the more special reason , in a national point of view so highly important, for the arrangement of this interview.

The ἐλπὶς τοῦ Ἰσραήλ is to be taken entirely, as in Acts 26:6 , of the Messianic national hope .

On περίκειμαι with accusative , comp. Hebrews 5:2 ; Kypke, Obss . II. p. 147; Jacobs, ad Anthol . IX. p. 75; on τ . ἅλυσιν ταύτ ., comp. Acts 26:29 .

Verse 21

Acts 28:21 . This answer of the Jews makes it probable that Paul in his discourse had definitely suggested that they might perhaps have received written or oral insinuations concerning him from Judaea.

It appears almost incredible that neither took place, but we have to weigh the following considerations: (1) Before the appeal the Jews had no ground inducing them to make communications regarding him to the Rom in Jews in particular, because they could not conjecture that Paul, then a prisoner in Caesarea, and whom they hoped to destroy presently, would ever come into contact with their brethren in the distant West. (2) After the appeal it was hardly possible for the Jews to forward accounts to Rome before his arrival there. For the transportation of the apostle, which followed at any rate soon after the entering of the appeal (Acts 25:13 , Acts 27:1 ), occurred so late in autumn, and so shortly before the closing of the navigation (Acts 27:9 ), that there is extreme improbability in the supposition of another vessel having earlier opportunity of reaching Italy than Paul himself, whose vessel in spring, after the opening of the navigation, had to sail only the short distance between Malta and Puteoli, and that, too, with a favourable wind (Acts 28:13 ). (3) There remains, therefore, only the possible case, that during Paul’s two years’ imprisonment at Caesarea evil reports concerning him might have come to the Roman Jews in some accidental way (not officially) by means of private letters or Jewish travellers. Indeed considering the lively intercourse between Judaea and Rome, and the great noise which the labours of the apostle had made for many years, as well as the strong opposition which he had excited among the Jews it can by no means be supposed that these labours and this opposition should have continued unknown to the Roman Jews. [180] But the πρῶτοι of the Roman Jews here proceed with reserve under dread of possible eventualities, and prudently fall back upon the official standpoint; and so they affirm what, taken in all the strictness of the literal sense, might certainly be no untruth that they on their part ( ἡμεῖς ) had neither received letters concerning him, nor oral notification or statement ( ἐλαλ .: “in sermone quotidiano”) of anything evil concerning him . The more impartial they thus appear and maintain a politic spirit of frankness, the more openly, they at the same time hope, will Paul express his mind and disclose his purposes (Acts 28:22 ). Zeller therefore too rashly seizes on the seeming contradiction to truth in Acts 28:21 , as warranting the inference that the non-historical character of the narrative is evident. [181] The explanation also to which Olshausen has recourse appears erroneous: that by the expulsion of the Jews from Rome under Claudius, the connections, which the Jews of Jerusalem had with them, were broken off; that only very slowly and secretly the Roman Jews returned in the first years of Nero; and that therefore those who were in Palestine were not properly informed of this situation of matters in Rome, and accordingly made no notification concerning Paul to that quarter. Even a priori , such a strange ignorance of the Jews as to the fortunes of their very numerous countrymen (Dio Cass, xxxvi. 6; Suet. Tib . 36; Philo, leg. ad Caium , p. 568; Tac. Ann . ii. 85) in the capital of the world is very improbable; and, from a historical point of view, that expulsion of the Roman Jews had occurred so many years before, and the edict of banishment was at all events only of such temporary force (see on Acts 18:2 , and Anger, temp. rat . p. 118 f.), that the renewed toleration of the Jews, permitted either expressly or tacitly, is to be placed even under the reign of Claudius. See, moreover, on Rom . Introd. § 2.

[180] It has indeed been thought that the Jews, in their plot against the life of the apostle, might have had a motive for not allowing their exasperation against him to become notorious, least of all at Rome (see Lange, apostol. Zeitalt . I. p. 106). But even granting this arbitrarily assumed calculation on their part, the hostile disposition in Judaea was much too general (Acts 21:21 ) to admit of control over the spread of the hostile report to a distance.

[181] Comp. Holtzmann, Judenth. u. Christenth . p. 785, who suggests that the author wished to evade touching on the wide opposition between Paul and Jewish Christianity. But merely to evade this point, he would have needed only to suppress vv. 21, 22, instead of putting such a surprising expression into the mouth of the Jews.

Verse 22

Acts 28:22 . Ἀξιοῦμεν δέ ] But we judge (so as, in such lack of information from other quarters, to be better instructed concerning the circumstances in which thou art placed) it right (Acts 15:38 ) as a claim which, as matters stand, is no more than right and proper to learn from thee ( παρὰ σοῦ has emphasis), etc.

ἃ φρονεῖς ] i.e . what principles and views thou pursuest.

περὶ μὲν γὰρ τῆς αἱρέσ . ταύτ .] for of this party certainly . As to αἱρέσ ., see on Acts 14:14 . ταύτης has its reference in the more precise expressions, with which Paul must be presumed to have accompanied his ἕνεκεν γὰρ τῆς ἐλπίδος τ . Ἰσραήλ . In the μέν without δέ the tacit contrast is to be mentally supplied: “Although thou thyself art unknown to us.” Comp. on Acts 27:21 ; also Buttmann, neut. Gr . p. 313 [E. T. 365]. The γάρ grounds the ἀξιοῦμεν κ . τ . λ . on the (apparently) impartial interest of obtaining more particular information.

At first view, it must appear strange that these Jewish πρῶτοι in Rome betray so little acquaintance, or none at all , with the great Christian church at Rome, which consisted, at any rate in part, of Jewish Christians. This difficulty is not solved by the arbitrary (comp. also on Acts 28:21 ) assumption that, after the return of the Jews expelled by Claudius, the Jews and Christians kept aloof from each other and thus gradually lost acquaintance with one another (Olshausen; comp. also Kling in the Stud. u. Krit . 1837, p. 302 ff.); nor yet by the circumstances of such a great city as Rome, amidst which the existence of the Christian community might well have escaped the knowledge of the rich worldly Jews (Neander), which, considering the relationship of Judaism and Christianity, would a priori be very improbable. It is rather to be explained, like the expression in Acts 28:21 , from a cautious sort of official reserve in their demeanour , not exactly hypocritical (Tholuck) or intimidated by the Claudian measures (Philippi, comp. Ewald), but in which withal the Jewish contempt for Christianity generally is apparent. The representation here given, according to which those Jews simply avoid any sort of expression compromising them, is by no means to be used, with Baur and Zeller, against the historical truth of the occurrence. Its historical character, on the contrary, gains support from the Epistle to the Romans itself, which shows no trace that in Rome Christianity had been in conflict with the Jews (see Rom . Introd. § 3). and therefore de Wette is wrong in his remark that, if Luke had only added καὶ παρʼ ἡμῖν to πανταχοῦ , there would have been no ground of offence.

Verse 23

Acts 28:23 . Εἰς τὴν ξενίαν ] to the lodging, i.e. the dwelling which, after his arrival at Rome (Acts 28:16 ), he was allowed to occupy with a friendly host (Philemon 1:22 ). At a later period he obtained a hired house of his own (Acts 28:30 ). Whether the ξενία was the house of Aquila (Olshausen), cannot be determined.

πλείονες ] a greater number than were with him on the former occasion.

πείθων κ . τ . λ .] and persuading them of what concerns Jesus . πείθων is neither to be taken as docens with Kuinoel (comp. on Acts 19:8 ), nor de conatu with Grotius. Paul really did on his part, subjectively, the πείθειν , persuadere ; that this did not produce its objective effect in all his hearers, does not alter the significance of the word. Comp. on Acts 7:26 ; Romans 2:4 .

ἀπὸ … τοῦ νόμου κ . τ . λ .] starting from it , linking his πείθειν to its utterances. Comp. on Acts 17:2 .

The opinion of Böttger, Beitr . II. p. 32 ff., that Paul was liberated between vers. 22 and 23 is refuted by Acts 28:30 , compared with Acts 28:16 , as well as by Philippians 1:13 ff., since the Philippian Epistle was not written in Caesarea, as Böttger judges. See also Wieseler, p. 411 ff.

Verses 25-27

Acts 28:25-27 . Ἀπελύοντο ] they departed (Polyb. ii. 34. 12, v. 98. 6, and frequently), they withdrew. The imperfect is graphic.

εἰπόντος τ . Π . ῥῆμα ἕν ] after that (not when , see Acts 28:29 ) Paul (immediately before their departure) had made one utterance . ἕν : one dictum, instead of any further discourse: it makes palpable the importance of this concluding saying. Then follows this ῥῆμα ἕν in the oratio directa (with ὅτι ) as far as Acts 28:28 .

καλῶς ] because completely justified as appropriate by the latest result before them. Comp. Matthew 15:7 .

τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον ] “Quod Spiritum sanctum loquentem inducit potius quam prophetam, ad fidem oraculi valet,” Calvin; 2 Peter 1:21 .

πρὸς τοὺς πατέρας ἡμῶν ] to our fathers ; [182] for the divine command imparted to Isaiah , πορεύθητι κ . τ . λ ., was as such made known to the fathers .

Isaiah 6:9-10 (almost exactly according to the LXX.) has its Messianic fulfilment in the obduracy of the Jews against the gospel (Matthew 13:14 f.; John 12:40 ), a fulfilment which Paul here announces to the obdurate, so that he recognises himself as the subject addressed by πορεύθητι . With hearing (auribus) ye shall hear, and certainly not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and certainly not perceive. For the heart (the spiritual vitality) of this people has become fat (obdurate and sluggish, see on Matt. l.c. ), and with their ears they have become dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed, in order that they may not (see on Matt. l.c. ) perceive with the eyes, or hear with the ears, or understand with the heart, or turn themselves (to me), and I ( i.e. God) should heal them (of their spiritual malady, by forgiveness and sanctification). On the expression, comp. Dem. 797. 3 : ὁρῶντας μὴ ὁρᾶν καὶ ἀκούοντας μὴ ἀκούειν , Aesch. Prom . 448: κλύοντες οὐκ ἤκουον , Jacobs, Del. epigr . vii. 1. 4 f.; Soph. O. R. 371: τυφλὸς τὰ τʼ ὦτα τόν τε νοῦν τὰ τʼ ὄμματʼ εἶ .

εἰπόν (Elz. εἰπέ ) is oxytonon. See Goettling, Lehre vom Accent , p. 53; Winer, p. 50 [E. T. 58]; Bornemann in loc .

[182] By ἡμῶν Paul as little includes himself (thinking possibly of his conversion) in the hardening, as with ἡμῶν in 1 Corinthians 10:1 (in opposition to Baumgarten). It is the simple expression of Israelitish fellowship. Comp. Romans 4:1 .

Verses 28-29

Acts 28:28-29 . Οὖν ] because ye are so obdurate and irrecoverable.

ὅτι τοῖς ἔθνεσιν κ . τ . λ .] that by my arrival at Rome this ( τοῦτο , see the critical remarks) salvation of God ( i.e. the Messianic salvation bestowed by God, which is meant in this prophecy) has been sent , not to you Jews, but to the Gentiles . Comp. Luke 2:30 ; Luke 3:6 .

αὐτοί ] they on their part, quite otherwise than you .

καὶ ἀκοίσονται ] namely the announcement of salvation, which conception is implied in ἀπεστάλη as its mode (Acts 10:36 , Acts 13:26 ). καί , etiam : non solum missa est iis salus, sed etiam audient (give ear). Comp. Bornemann, Schol. in Luc . p. 24. Bengel appropriately observes: “Profectionem ad gentes declaraverat Judaeis contumacibus Antiochiae xiii. 46; Corinthi xviii. 6, nunc tertium Romae; adeoque in Asia, Graecia, Italia.”

Acts 28:30 . ἐν ἰδίῳ μισθώμ .] i.e. in a dwelling belonging to himself by way of hire. This he had obtained after the first days when he had lodged in the ξενία , Acts 28:23 ; but he was in it as a prisoner , as follows from Acts 28:16 , from καὶ ἀπεδέχετο κ . τ . λ ., and from ἀκωλύτως , Acts 28:31 ( nemine prohibente , although he was a prisoner; comp. Philippians 1:7 ). To procure the means of hiring the dwelling, must have been an easy matter for the love of the brethren (and support came also from a distance, Philippians 4:10 ff.).

πάντας ] Christians, Jews, Gentiles; not merely the latter, as Baumgarten arbitrarily limits the word, while with equal arbitrariness he finds in Acts 28:31 a pointing to the final form of the church, in which the converted Israel will form the visible historical centre around which the Gentile nations gather, and then the Parousia will set in. This modern view of Judaistic eschatology has no support even in Romans 11:27 ff.

Verse 31

Acts 28:31 . Solemn close of the whole book, which is not to be regarded as incomplete (see Introd. § 3). The Gospel also concludes with a sonorous participial ending (but less full and solemn).

κηρύσσων κ . τ . λ .] thus his word was not bound in his bonds, 2 Timothy 2:9 .

ἀκωλύτως ] Plat. Crat . p. 415 D; Herodian. i. 12. 15; “Victoria verbi Dei. Paulus Romae, apex evangelii, actorum finis,” Bengel.

Bibliographical Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Acts 28". Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hmc/acts-28.html. 1832.
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