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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 9 - Verse 31

Verse 31. Then had the churches rest. That is, the persecutions against Christians ceased. Those persecutions had been excited by the opposition made to Stephen, Ac 11:19 they had been greatly promoted by Saul, Ac 8:3 and had extended, doubtless, throughout the whole land of Palestine. The precise causes of this cessation of the persecution are not known. Probably they were the following:

(1.) It is not improbable that the great mass of Christians had been driven into other regions by these persecutions.

(2.) He who had been most active in exciting the persecution, who was, in a sort, its leader, and who was best adapted to carry it on, had been converted. He had ceased his opposition; and even he now was removed from Judea. All this would have some effect in causing the persecution to subside.

(3.) But it is not improbable that the civil state of things in Judea contributed much to turn the attention of the Jews to other matters. Dr. Lardner accounts for this in the following manner:

"Soon after Caligula's accession, the Jews at Alexandria

suffered very much from the Egyptians in that city, and at

length their oratories there were all destroyed. In the third

year of Caligula, A.D. 39, Petronius was sent into Syria, with

orders to set up the emperor's statue in the temple at

Jerusalem. This order from Caligula was, to the Jews, a

thunderstroke. The Jews must have been too much engaged after

this to mind anything else, as may appear from the accounts

which Philo and Josephus have given us of this affair.

Josephus says, that 'Caligula ordered Perronius to go with

an army to Jerusalem, to set up his statue in the temple

there; enjoining him, if the Jews opposed it, to put to

death all who made any resistance, and to make all the rest

of-the nation slaves. Petronius, therefore, marched from

Antioch into Judea, with three legions and a large body of

auxiliaries raised in Syria. All were hereupon filled with

consternation, the army being come as far as Ptolemais.'"

See Lardner's Works, vol. i. pp. 101, 102; Lond. Ed. 1829. Philo gives the same account of the consternation as Josephus. Philo de legat, ad Cal. pp. 1024,1025. He describes the Jews

"as abandoning their cities, villages, and open country, as

going to Petronius in Phenicia, both men and women, the old,

the young, the middle aged; as throwing themselves on the

ground before Petronius with weeping and lamentation," etc.

 

The effect of this consternation in diverting their minds from the Christians can be easily conceived. The prospect that the images of the Roman emperor were about to be set up by violence in the temple, or that, in case of resistance, death or slavery was to be their portion; the advance of a large army to execute that purpose; all tended to throw the nation into alarm. By the providence of God, therefore, this event was permitted to occur to divert the attention of bloody-minded persecutors from a feeble and a bleeding church. Anxious for their own safety, the Jews would cease to persecute the Christians; and thus, by the conversion of the main instrument in persecution, and by the universal alarm for the welfare of the nation, the trembling and enfeebled church was permitted to obtain repose. Thus ended the first general persecution against Christians, and thus effectually did God show that he had power to guard and protect his chosen people.

All Judea, etc. These three places included the land of Palestine. See Barnes "Mt 2:22".

The formation of churches in Galilee is not expressly mentioned before this; but there is no improbability in supposing that Christians had travelled there, and had preached the gospel. Comp. Ac 11:19. The formation of churches in Samaria is expressly mentioned, Ac 8:5, etc.

Were edified. Were built up, increased, and strengthened. See Ro 14:19; 15:2; 1 Co 8:1.

 

And walking. Proceeding; living. The word is often used to denote Christian conduct, or manner of life, Col 1:10; Lu 1:6; 1 Th 4:1

1 Jo 2:6. The idea is that of travellers who are going to any place, and who walk in the right path. Christians are thus travellers to another country, an heavenly.

In the fear of the Lord. Fearing the Lord; with reverence for him and his commandments. This expression is often used to denote piety in general, 2 Ch 19:7; Job 28:28; Ps 19:9; 111:10; Pr 1:7; 9:10; 13:13.

 

In the comfort of the Holy Ghost. In the consolations which the Holy Ghost produced, Joh 14:16,17; Ro 5:1-6.

 

Were multiplied. Were increased.

{b} "Then had the churches rest" Zec 9:1; Ac 8:1 {c} "throughout Judaea" Ps 94:13 {d} "were edified" Ro 14:19 {e} "walking in the fear" Joh 14:16,17 {f} "comfort of" Joh 14:16,17 {+} "Ghost" "Spirit" {g} "were multiplied" Zec 8:20,22

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