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Bible Commentaries

Bengel's Gnomon of the New TestamentBengel's Gnomon

- Acts

by Johann Albrecht Bengel



THIS book, wherein Luke records the Acts of the Apostles , especially of Peter and Paul, stands midway between the writers of the Gospels and the writers of the Epistles, and on that account is the central book. It contains not only the recapitulation of the Gospel history, but also the continuation of the history of Christ, the event and issue of His predictions, and in some measure, a supplement by means of those things which He, through the Paraclete, more largely imparted to His disciples, who were heretofore somewhat infirm. See by all means, John 16:12-13 . It also contains the seeds and stamina of all things which are explained and set forth in the Epistles. The Gospel books treat concerning Christ the Head: the Acts show that the same things are being carried on in His body, which is quickened and animated by His Spirit, is harassed by the world, and is defended and exalted by God. We have the summary of all this, Ephesians 1:20-22 , “Gave Him to be Head over all things to the Church, which is His body.” Moreover, the departure of Christ, and the advent of the Paraclete, cause this book to have a greater similarity to the Epistles than to the Gospel books. Chrysostom testifies, in the beginning of his first homily on this book, that in his time, it was altogether unknown to many . Would that in the present day as much care was bestowed on it as ought to be bestowed. Herein is shown the Christian doctrine, and the method employed in teaching it in respect to the Jews, the Gentiles, and believers; that is, in respect to those requiring to be converted, and those already converted. Also, the obstacles to the same on the part of individual men, classes of men, and various ranks and peoples. Also, the propagation of the Gospel, and that great revolution which took place among Jews and Gentiles. Also, the victory of the Gospel, reaching from one single room of meeting, to temples, houses, streets, marketplaces, plains, inns (lodging-houses), prisons, camps, palaces, chariots, ships, villages, cities, islands: to the Jews, Gentiles, prætors, generals, soldiers, eunuchs, captives, slaves, women, boys, sailors; to the Areopagus, and to Rome, in fine. Also, the vengeance inflicted on hypocrites, wicked imitators (of the miracles), enemies and adversaries. The preservation of the Apostles, and of the Church. The incomparable fruits exhibited in the life and the death. Also, very many of the strong points, and distinctive characteristics, and arguments, for the truth and efficacy of the Christian religion. Also, a specimen of its discipline and economy, and the very idea of the Christian Church, and the evangelical office.

There are seven Parts:

I. Pentecost, with the events preceding it, Acts 1:2 .

II. The acts in JERUSALEM, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, among the CIRCUMCISED, Acts 3-9; Acts 12:0 .

III. The acts in CÆSAREA, and the admission of the GENTILES, Acts 10:0 ; Acts 11:0 .

IV. The FIRST journey of Barnabas and Saul among the Gentiles, Acts 13:0 ; Acts 14:0 .

V. The deputation sent, and the council of JERUSALEM, as to the Jews and Gentiles being on the SAME footing, Acts 15:0 .

VI. The SECOND journey of Paul, Acts 16-19.

VII. The THIRD journey, as far as to Rome, Act 19:21 to Acts 28:31 .

These several parts are explained more distinctly in the “Order of dates,” ch. 6. How the application of all the parts to our times, ought to be made, is admirably shown by Justus Jonas, in the Dedication to his Annotations on this book, published in the year 1524: “The facts themselves,” saith he, “which are now going forward in our age , render more clear to us, not only this book, but also the remainder of Scripture, inasmuch as we now see clearly, that the truly godly suffer this [the same as the saints are recorded in Acts to have suffered]. Miracles are performed daily, not inferior to what were then performed. For who is there that would not account the sudden change wrought in the world a miracle of the highest kind? Who is there that would not with good reason compare to Paul’s preservation from the conspiracy of the Forty men, and the so many cunning plots of his enemies, Luther, the Gospel preacher in our age, who has been already up to this time assailed by so many of the wise and powerful of this world, and who, notwithstanding, still survives, in the teeth of the Pope’s indignation, in spite of Satan, and in spite of all the gates of hell? Self-indulgent men fancy, that the apostles have so consulted for the ease of posterity, and have so endured to the utmost the chain of the Gospel, as that now the more tranquilly , in consequence, the monks and priests may pamper their bodies with every luxury; as if, indeed, Satan had now no more any existence, or as if the world and the flesh were now at agreement with the Gospel.”

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