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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 6 - Verse 5
Verse 5. And the saying. The word—the counsel, or command.
And they chose Stephen, etc. A man who soon showed (Ac 7) that he was every way qualified for his office, and fitted to defend also the cause of the Lord Jesus. This man had the distinguished honour of being the first Christian martyr, Ac 7.
And Nicolas. From this man some of the Fathers (Ire. lib. i. 27; Epipha. 1; Haeres. 5) say that the sect of the Nicolaitanes, mentioned with so much disapprobation, (Re 2:6,15,) took their rise. But the evidence of this is not clear.
The word does not mean here that he was a convert to Christianity—which was true—but that he had been converted at Antioch from paganism to the Jewish religion. As this is the only proselyte mentioned among the seven deacons, it is evident that the others were native-born Jews, though a part of them might have been born out of Palestine, and have been of the denomination of Grecians, or Hellenists.
Of Antioch. This city, often mentioned in the New Testament, (Ac 11:19,20,26; 15:22,35; Ga 2:11, etc.,) was situated in Syria on the river Orontes, and was formerly called Riblath. It is not mentioned in the Old Testament, but is frequently mentioned in the Apocrypha. It was built by Seleucus Nicanor, A. D. 301, and was named Antioch, in honour of his father Antiochus. It became the seat of empire of the Syrian kings of the Macedonian race, and afterwards of the Roman governors of the eastern provinces. In this place the disciples of Christ were first called Christians, Ac 11:26. Josephus says it was the third city in size of the Roman provinces, being inferior only to Seleucia and Alexandria. It was long, indeed, the most powerful city of the East. The city was almost square, had many gates, was adorned with fine fountains, and possessed great fertility of soil and commercial opulence. It was subject to earthquakes, and was often almost destroyed by them. In A.D. 588, above sixty thousand persons perished in it in this manner. In A.D. 970, an army of one hundred thousand Saracens besieged it, and took it. In 1268 it was taken possession of by the Sultan of Egypt, who demolished it, and placed it under the dominion of the Turk. It is now called Antakia; and till the year 1822, it occupied a remote corner of the ancient enclosure of its walls, its splendid buildings being reduced to hovels, and its population living in Turkish debasement. It contains now about ten thousand inhabitants.— Robinson's Calmet. This city should be distinguished from Antioch in Pisidia, also mentioned in the New Testament, Ac 13:14.
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