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Acts 19:8-12

8. And going into the synagogue, he spake freely about three months, disputing and persuading concerning the kingdom of God. 9. And when some waxed hard-hearted that they could not believe, speaking evil of the way before the multitude, departing from them he did separate the disciples, and disputed daily in the school of one Tyrannus. 10. And this he did by the space of two years, so that all which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. 11. And the Lord showed no small miracles by the hands of Paul. 12. So that from his body were brought napkins and partlets unto those that were sick, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits came out of them.

 

8. Going into the synagogue. By this we gather that Paul began with the company of the godly, who had already given their names to Christ. Secondly, that he came into the synagogue, that he might gather together into one body of the Church the rest of the Jews who knew not Christ as yet, or at least who had not as yet received him. And he saith that Paul behaved himself boldly, that we may know that he was not therefore heard by the space of three months, because he did craftily cover the doctrine of the gospel, or did insinuate himself by certain dark crooks. Luke doth also by and by express some token of boldness, showing that he disputed and persuaded touching the kingdom of God. And we know that by this word is oftentimes noted that restoring which was promised to the fathers, and which was to be fulfilled by the coming of Christ. For seeing that without Christ there is an evil-favored and confused scattering abroad and ruin of all things, the prophets did attribute this not in vain to the Mesas who was to come, that it should come to pass that he should establish the kingdom of God in the world. And now, because this kingdom doth bring us back from falling and sliding back, unto the obedience of God, and maketh us sons of enemies; it consisteth — First in the free forgiveness of sins, whereby God doth reconcile us to himself, and doth adopt us to be his people: Secondly, in newness of life, whereby he fashioneth and maketh us like to his own image. He saith that he disputed and persuaded, meaning that Paul did so dispute, that he proved that with sound reasons which he did allege; that done, he used the pricks of godly exhortations, whereby he pricked forward his hearers. 362362     “Ut januam regno Dei aperirent,” that they might open a dour for the gospel, For no profound disputations 363363     “Argutiae,” subtle reasonings. shall make us obedient to God, unless we be moved with godly admonitions.

9. Seeing their hearts were hardened. We do not read that Paul was heard so patiently and so favorably by the Jews at any place as at Ephesus at his first coming. For whereas others raising tumults did drive him away, he was requested by these to tarry longer. Now, after that he had endeavored, by the space of three months, to erect the kingdom of God among them, the ungodliness and stubbornness of many doth show itself. For Luke saith that they were hardened; and surely such is the power of the heavenly doctrine that it doth either make the reprobate mad or else more obstinate; and that not of nature, but accidentally, as they say, because, when they be urged by the truth, their secret poison breaketh out.

Luke addeth that they spake evil of the way before the people. For the contemners of the gospel 364364     “Hac tandem se projieiunt,” at length proceed to such extremes that they. do resist that deadlily among others which they will not embrace. And this do they to no other end, save only because they be desirous (if it can be) to have all men partners in their impiety. It is well known that every ordinance is understood by this word way; but here it is referred unto the gospel of Christ. Now, Luke saith that Paul departed from them, and did separate the brethren, by which example we are taught, that when we have experience of desperate and incurable stubbornness, we must lose our labor no longer. Therefore, Paul admonisheth Titus to avoid a man that is an heretic, after once or twice admonition (Titus 3:10). For the word of God is unjustly blasphemed, 365365     “Indigna contumelia afficitur,” is grossly insulted. if it be cast to dogs and swine. Also, we must provide for the weak, lest through wicked backbitings and slandering of sound doctrine, their godliness be subverted. Therefore, Paul did separate the disciples, lest the goats should with their stink infect the flock of sheep; secondly, that the pure worshippers of God might make profession freely.

Disputing daily. This place showeth how continual Paul’s diligence was in teaching; and that they be too churlish and dainty who are straightway weary of learning. For we see how few come daily, who are ready and apt to hear. And though he had a particular care for the household flock which he had gathered as into a sheepfold, yet he doth not suffer strangers to be destitute of his industry; but continuing the course of his disputation, he trieth whether he can find any which are apt to be taught. He calleth it the school of Tyrannus, meaning no such man as had gotten the government of Asia; for the Romans bare rule throughout all Asia, but it is to be thought that the school was built at the charge of one Tyrannus, and given to the city. Therefore, the faithful did use a public place, which bare the name of the builder, where they had their assemblies.

10. All which dwelt. Luke doth not mean that the men of Asia came thither to hear Paul; but that the smell [savor] of his preaching went throughout all Asia, and that the seed was sown far and wide; so that his labor was fruitful not only to one city, but also to places which were far off; and that cometh to pass oftentimes, that when the truth of God is preached in one place, it soundeth where the voice of the minister cannot sound, being spread abroad far and wide; because it is delivered from hand to hand, and one doth teach another. For one man were not sufficient, unless every man were for himself diligent to spread abroad the faith.

11. No small miracles. He calleth miracles virtutes or powers, after the common custom of the Scripture, which were testimonies of the extraordinary power of God. And showeth that Paul’s apostleship was set forth with these ensigns, that his doctrine might have the greater authority. For it is a common speech, That wonders and signs are showed by the hand of men. So that the praise thereof is ascribed to God alone as to the author; and man is only the minister. And that he may the more amplify the miracles, he saith that handkerchiefs and partlets 366366     “Semicinctia,” girdles. were brought unto the sick, which so soon as they touched they were healed. It is not unknown 367367     “Non obscurum est,” it is clear. to what end Paul had such power given him, to wit, that he might prove himself to be a true apostle of Christ, that he might make the gospel to be believed, and might confirm his ministry. And here it is expedient to call to mind those things which we had before, touching the lawful use of miracles. And whereas God did heal the sick with Paul’s handkerchiefs, it tended to that end, that even those who had never seen the man might, notwithstanding, reverently embrace his doctrine, though he himself were absent. For which cause the Papists are more blockish, who wrest this place unto their relics; as if Paul sent his handkerchiefs that men might worship them and kiss them 368368     “Oscularentur venerabundi homines,” men given to veneration might kiss them. in honor of them; as in Papistry, they worship Francis’ shoes and mantle, Rose’s girdle, Saint Margaret’s comb, and such like trifles. Yea, rather, he did choose most simple 369369     “Vilissimas,” most worthless. things, lest any superstition should arise by reason of the price or pomp. For he was fully determined to keep Christ’s glory sound and undiminished.


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