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Chapter 28

28:1 Then we knew [tote epegnōmen]. Second aorist (ingressive) active indicative of [epiginōskō]. Then we recognized. See 27:39. Was called [kaleitai]. Present passive indicative retained in indirect discourse. Melita [Melitē]. Not [Miletenē] as only B reads, a clerical error, but retained in the text of Westcott and Hort because of B. Page notes that the island was Malta as is shown from the name, the location, the presence of a ship from Alexandria bound for Rome wintering there (verse 11), and the mention of Syracuse as the next stop after leaving (verse 12).

28:2 The barbarians [hoi barbaroi]. The Greeks called all men “barbarians” who did not speak Greek (Ro 1:14), not “barbarians” in our sense of rude and uncivilized, but simply “foreign folk.” Diodorus Siculus (V. 12) says that it was a colony of the Phoenicians and so their language was Punic (Page). The word originally meant an uncouth repetition [barbar] not understood by others (1Co 14:11). In Col 3:11 Paul couples it with Scythian as certainly not Christian. These are (with verse 4 below) the only N.T. instances. Showed us [pareichan]. Imperfect active of [parechō] with [-an] instead of [-on] as [eichan] in Mr 8:7 (Robertson, Grammar, p. 339). It was their habit on this occasion, Luke means, they kept on showing. No common kindness [ou tēn tuchousan philanthrōpian]. The old word [philanthrōpia] [philos], [anthrōpos], love of mankind, occurs in the N.T. only here and Tit 3:4 (adverb in 27:3). See on 19:11 for this use of [ou tēn tuchousan], “not the kindness that happens every day.” They were not “wreckers” to take advantage of the calamity. They kindled a fire [hapsantes puran]. The only N.T. example and verse 3 of the old word [pura] (from [pur], fire), a pile of burning fuel (sticks). First aorist active participle of [haptō], to set fire to, to kindle. Cf. [anaptō] in Lu 12:49. Received us all [proselabonto pantas hēmās]. Second aorist middle (indirect indicative of [proslambanō].) They took us all to themselves (cf. Ac 18:26). The present [ton ephestōta]. Second perfect active participle (intransitive) of [ephistēmi], “the rain that stood upon them” (the pouring rain). Only in Luke and Paul in N.T.

28:3 When Paul had gathered [sustrepsantos tou Paulou]. Genitive absolute with first aorist active participle of [sustrephō], old verb to twist or turn together or roll into a bundle. In N.T. only here and Mt 17:22. A bundle of sticks [phruganōn ti plēthos]. “Some multitude (or pile) of dry twigs” [phruganōn] from [phrugō] or [phrussō], to dry. Only here in N.T.). Laid [epithentos]. So genitive absolute again with second aorist active participle of [epitithēmi], to place upon. Few things show Paul to better advantage than this incident. By reason of the heat [apo tēs thermēs]. Old word, only here in N.T. Ablative case with [apo] (from the heat). The viper was in a state of torpor in the bundle of sticks. The heat wakened him. A viper [echidna]. The old word used by the Baptist of the Pharisees (Mt 3:7; Lu 3:7) and by Jesus also (Mt 12:34; 23:33). It is objected that there is little wood in the island today and no vipers, though Lewin as late as 1853 believes that he saw a viper near St. Paul’s Bay. But the island now has 1,200 people to the square mile and snakes of any kind have a poor chance. The viper has also disappeared from Arran as the island became more frequented (Knowling). Ramsay thinks that the small constrictor (Coronella Austriaca) which still exists in the island may be the “viper,” though it has no poison fangs, but clings and bites. The natives thought that it was a poisonous viper. Fastened on his hand [kathēpse tēs cheiros autou]. First aorist active indicative of [kathaptō], to fasten down on with the genitive case. Old verb, here only in N.T. Cf. Mr 16:18.

28:4 The beast [to thērion]. Diminutive of [thēr] and so little beast. See on Mr 1:13. Aristotle and the medical writers apply the word to venomous serpents, the viper in particular (Knowling), as Luke does here. Vincent calls attention to the curious history of our word “treacle” for molasses (Latin theriaca) from [thēriakē], an antidote made from the flesh of vipers. Coverdale translates Jer 8:22: “There is no more treacle in Gilead.” Jeremy Taylor: “We kill the viper and make treacle of him.” Hanging from his hand [kremamenon ek tēs cheiros autou]. Vivid picture of the snake dangling from Paul’s hand. Present middle participle of [kremamai], late form for [kremannumi], to hang up, to suspend (cf. Ga 3:13). No doubt [pantōs]. Literally, By all means, old adverb. Cf. 21:22; Lu 4:23; 1Co 9:22. Only by Luke and Paul in the N.T. “They knew that he was a prisoner being taken to Rome on some grave charge, and inferred that the charge was murder” (Page). Though he hath escaped [diasōthenta]. First aorist passive participle of [diasōzō] (same verb used in 24:43, 44; 28:1), so-called concessive use of the participle (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1129). Yet Justice [dikē]. An abstraction personified like the Latin Justitia (Page). The natives speak of [Dikē] as a goddess, but we know nothing of such actual worship in Malta, though the Greeks worshipped abstractions as in Athens. Hath not suffered [ouk eiasen]. Did not suffer. They look on Paul as a doomed man as good as dead. These people thought that calamity was proof of guilt, poor philosophy and worse theology.

28:5 Shook off [apotinaxas]. First aorist active participle of [apotinassō], to shake off. Rare word (Euripides, Galen, LXX). In N.T. only here and Lu 9:5.

28:6 But they expected [hoi de prosedokōn]. Imperfect active, were expecting, continued to expect. That he would have swollen [auton mellein pimprasthai]. More exactly, “Expecting him to be about (or that he was about) to swell up.” [Pimprasthai] is present middle infinitive from [pimprēmi], to blow, to burn, to inflame, to cause to swell. [Prēthō], to swell, seems connected and both use the aorist [eprēsa]. Our word “inflammation” likewise means a burning and a swelling. This verb is a common medical term used as Luke has it. It occurs here only in N.T. Or fallen down dead suddenly [ē katapiptein aphnō nekron]. Rather, “or was about to fall down dead suddenly.” The two common results of a bite by a viper or other poisonous snake, both medical terms used by Luke. But when they were long in expectation [epi polu de autōn prosdokōntōn]. Genitive absolute. “But while they were expecting for much time.” Nothing amiss come to him [mēden atopon eis auton ginomenon]. “Nothing out of place coming to him” (present middle participle). [Mēden] the usual negative of the participle and the accusative case the object of [theōrountōn] (genitive absolute). Changed their minds [metabalomenoi]. Aorist middle (direct) participle of [metaballō], old verb to turn about or around, turning themselves about, changing their minds. Plato uses this very verb in middle voice for changing the mind. That he was a god [auton einai theon]. Accusative and infinitive in indirect discourse. At Lystra Paul was first received as a god (Mercury) and then they stoned him to kill him (Ac 14:11, 19). So fickle is popular favour.

28:7 To the chief man of the island [tōi prōtōi tēs nēsou]. An official title correct in Malta (Ramsay, St. Paul, p. 343). An inscription in Malta calls Prudens “Primate of the Maltese” [prōtos Melitaiōn]. Here it is plainly a title and not the common use seen in 13:50; 25:2; 28:17. Publius [Popliōi]. This Greek name [praenomen] can be derived either from [Popilius] or [Publius] (cf. [publicus] for [populicus] from [populus]. Entertained us [exenisen hēmās]. Paul and his companions (Luke and Aristarchus). Was Julius included? On [xenizō] see Ac 10:23. Courteously [philophronōs]. This old adverb from [philophrōn] [philos, phren], friendly mind) occurs here alone in the N.T. In a kindly or friendly manner, all the more so because of the original suspicion of Paul as a criminal.

28:8 Lay [katakeisthai]. Common verb for the sick (Mr 1:30; Joh 5:6). Sick [sunechomenon]. “Held together.” Common verb again for the sick as in Lu 4:38. Of fever [puretois]. Instrumental case, and plural “fevers,” medical term for intermittent attacks of fever (Demosthenes, Lucian, medical writers). Dysentery [dusenteriōi]. Instrumental case also. Late form of the older [dusenteria] and only here in N.T. Our very word dysentery. Another medical term of which Luke uses so many. Hippocrates often mentions these two diseases together. Laying his hands on him healed him [epitheis tas cheiras autōi iasato auton]. Either like the laying on of hands in Jas 5:14, the gift of healing (1Co 12:9f.), or the tender interest of Jesus when he took hold of the hand of Peter’s mother-in-law (Mr 1:31). Ramsay argues that [iaomai] is employed here of the miraculous healing by Paul while [therapeuō] is used of the cures by Luke the physician (verse 9). This is a general distinction and it is probably observed here, but in Lu 6:18 (which see) both verbs are employed of the healings by Jesus. Came and were healed [prosērchonto kai etherapeuonto]. Imperfect middle and imperfect passive. A regular stream of patients came during these months. Luke had his share in the honours, “us” [hēmās], and no doubt his share in the cures. With many honours [pollais timais]. Instrumental case. The word was often applied to payment for professional services as we today speak of an honorarium. They put on board [epethento]. Second aorist middle indicative of [epitithēmi], to put on. The idea of “on board” is merely suggested by [anagomenois] (when we sailed) “the things for our needs” [ta pros tas chreias].

28:11 Which had wintered [parakecheimakoti]. Perfect active participle of [paracheimazō], to pass the winter. Old verb, in N.T. only 27:12; 28:11; 1Co 16:6; Tit 3:12. The locative case agreeing with [ploiōi]. Navigation in the Mediterranean usually opened up in February (always by March), spring beginning on Feb. 9 (Page). Whose sign was the Twin Brothers [parasēmōi Dioskourois]. The word [parasēmōi] can be either a substantive (as Revised Version has it) or an adjective “marked by the sign,” examples of both uses common in ancient Greek. [Dioskourois] is in apposition with [parasēmōi]. The word means the twin sons [kouros] or [koros] of Zeus [Dios], genitive of [Zeus] and Leda, viz., Castor and Pollux. The Attic used the dual, [tō Dioskorō]. Castor and Pollux were the tutelary deities of sailors whose figures were painted one on each side of the prow of the ship. This sign was the name of the ship. So they start in another grain ship of Alexandria bound for Rome.

28:12 Touching [katachthentes]. First aorist passive participle of [katagō], to go down to land, just the opposite of [anēchthēmen] in verse 11 from [anagō], to go up to sea. At Syracuse [eis Surakousas]. The chief city of Sicily and eighty miles from Malta. Perhaps open weather and a southerly wind helped them across. Here it was that Alcibiades wrecked the power and glory of Athens. Why the ship spent three days we do not know.

28:13 We made a circuit [perielthontes]. Second aorist active of [perierchomai], to go around, old verb, already in 19:13. See also Heb 11:37; 1Ti 5:13. But Westcott and Hort read [perielontes] after Aleph B (from [periaireō] as in 27:40, though here it could only mean casting loose, for which no other authority exists. At any rate the ship had to tack to reach Rhegium and was not able to make a straight course [enthudromeō], 16:11). Rhegium [Rhēgion] is from [rhēgnumi], to break off, the place where the land breaks off, the southern entrance to the straits of Messina. A south wind sprang up [epigenomenou notou]. Genitive absolute again, and for all the world like that fatal south wind in 27:13, but with no bad results this time, though the weather was plainly treacherous at this early season. On the second day [deuteraioi]. This is the classical use of the predicate adjective, “We second day men” as in Lu 24:22; Joh 11:39; Php 3:5 instead of the adverb (Robertson, Grammar, p. 657). To Puteoli [eis Potiolous]. It was 182 miles from Rhegium and would require 26 hours (Page). It was eight miles northwest from Neapolis (Naples) and the chief port of Rome, the regular harbour for the Alexandrian ships from Rome. Portions of the great mole are said to be still visible.

28:14 Where we found brethren [hou heurontes adelphous]. Possibly from Alexandria, but, as Blass observes, it is no more strange to find “brethren” in Christ in Puteoli when Paul arrives than in Rome. There was a large Jewish quarter. Seven days [hēmeras hepta]. Accusative of extent of time. Paul and his party remained so long at the urgent request of the brethren. He was still a prisoner, but clearly Julius was only too glad to show another courtesy to Paul to whom they all owed their lives. It was 130 miles by land from Puteoli to Rome over one of the great Roman roads. And so we came to Rome [kai houtōs eis tēn Romēn ēlthamen]. So at last. Luke is exultant as Page observes: Paulus Romae captivus: triumphus unicus. It is the climax of the book of Acts (19:21; 23:11), but not the close of Paul’s career. Page rightly remarks that a new paragraph should begin with verse 15, for brethren came from Rome and this part of the journey is touched with the flavour of that incident. The great event is that Paul reached Rome, but not as he had once hoped (Ro 15:22-29).

28:15 When they heard of us [akousantes ta peri hēmōn]. How “they heard the things concerning us” we do not know. Good news had its way of travel even before the days of telegraph, telephone, daily papers. Possibly Julius had to send on special couriers with news of his arrival after the shipwreck. Possibly some of the brethren in Puteoli at once (beginning of the week) sent on news to the brethren in Rome. The church in Rome had long ago received Paul’s letter from Corinth at the hands of Phoebe. To meet us [eis apantēsin hēmin]. Idiomatic phrase, “for meeting with us” (associative instrumental case). Koinē word [apantēsis] from verb [apantaō], to meet, in N.T. only here; Mt 25:6; 1Ti 4:17. Use after [eis] rather than infinitive like a translation Hebraism (Robertson, Grammar, p. 91). As far as the Market of Appius [achri Appiou Phorou]. The Forum of Appius, 90 miles from Puteoli, 40 from Rome, on the great Appian Way. The Censor Appius Claudius had constructed this part of the road, B.C. 312. Paul probably struck the Appian Way at Capua. Portions of this great stone highway are still in use. If one wishes to tread where Paul trod, he can do it here. Appii Forum had a bad reputation, the haunt of thieves, thugs, and swindlers. What would this motley crowd think of Paul chained to a soldier? Three Taverns [Triōn Tabernōn]. Genitive case after [achri] like [Appiou Phorou]. About 30 miles from Rome. Tres Tabernae. Whom [hous]. Two groups of the disciples came (one Gentile, one Jewish, Rackham thinks), one to Appii Forum, the other to Three Taverns. It was a joyous time and Julius would not interfere. Took courage [elabe tharsos]. The old substantive [tharsos] is here alone in the N.T. Jesus himself had exhorted Paul to be of good courage [tharsei] Ac 23:11) as he had done the disciples (Joh 16:33). Paul had passed through enough to cause depression, whether he was depressed or not, but he deeply appreciated this kindly sympathy.

28:16 Paul was suffered to abide by himself [epetrapē tōi Paulōi menein kath’ heauton]. Second aorist passive of [epitrepo], to permit or allow. Literally, “It was permitted to Paul to abide by himself.” Some late documents (Textus Receptus) here add: “The centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard” (or the [stratopedarch]. This officer used to be considered Burrus who was Prefect of the Praetorian Guard A.D. 51–62. But it is by no means certain that Julius turned the prisoners over to this officer. It seems more likely that Julius would report to the captain of the Peregrini. If so, we may be sure that Julius would give a good report of Paul to this officer who would be kindly disposed and would allow Paul comparative freedom (living by himself, in his lodging, verse 23, his own hired house verse 30, though still chained to a soldier). With the soldier that guarded him [sun tōi phulassonti auton stratiōtēi]. Probably a new soldier every day or night, but always with this soldier chained to his right hand day and night. Now that Paul is in Rome what can he do for Christ while he awaits the outcome of his own appeal to Nero?

28:17 Those that were the chief of the Jews [tous ontas tōn Ioudaiōn prōtous]. This use of [prōtos] for the leading men of a city or among the Jews we have already had in 13:50; 25:2; Lu 19:47. Literally, “Those that were first among the Jews.” The position of the participle [ontas] between the article and the adjective [prōtous] is regular (Robertson, Grammar, p. 777). When they were come together [sunelthontōn autōn]. Genitive absolute again. Paul could not go to the synagogue, as his custom was, being a bound prisoner. So he invited the Jewish leaders to come to his lodging and hear his explanation of his presence in Rome as a prisoner with an appeal to Caesar. He is anxious that they may understand that this appeal was forced upon him by Festus following Felix and lot because he has come to make an attack on the Jewish people. He was sure that false reports had come to Rome. These non-Christian Jews accepted Paul’s invitation. Nothing against [ouden enantion]. Adjective here as in 26:9, not preposition as in 7:10; 8:32. From [en] and [antios] [anti], face to face. Concessive participle [poiēsas] as in verse 4 [diasōthenta] which see. Yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans [desmios ex Ierosolumōn paredothēn eis tas cheiras tōn Romaiōn]. This condensed statement does not explain how he “was delivered,” for in fact the Jews were trying to kill him when Lysias rescued him from the mob (22:27-36). The Jews were responsible for his being in the hands of the Romans, though they had hoped to kill him first.

28:18 When they had examined me [anakrinantes me]. First aorist active participle of [anakrinō], the same verb used already in 24:8; 25:6, 26 of the judicial examinations by Felix and Festus. Desired [eboulonto]. Imperfect middle of attempted action or picture of their real attitude. This is a correct statement as the words of both Felix and Festus show. Because there was [dia to—huparchein]. Accusative case with [dia] (causal use) with the articular infinitive, “Because of the being no cause of death in me” [en emoi], in my case, [aitia], usual word for crime or charge of crime).

28:19 When the Jews spake against it [antilegontōn tōn Ioudaiōn]. Genitive absolute again, [antilegontōn] [antilegō] common verb for speaking against as in 13:45. Clementer dicit (Bengel). “The word is a mild one to describe the bitter enmity of the Jews” (Knowling). I was constrained [ēnagkasthēn]. “I was compelled,” first aorist passive indicative of [anagkazō], the very word used of Paul’s efforts to get the Christians to blaspheme (26:11) which see. Paul was compelled to appeal to Caesar (see 25:11, 12 for this phrase), unless Paul was willing to be the victim of Jewish hate when he had done no wrong. Not that I had aught to accuse my nation of [ouch hōs tou ethnous mou echōn ti katēgorein]. This use of [hōs] with a participle [echōn] is common in Greek for the alleged reason. The genitive case with the infinitive [katēgorein] is regular. Paul says [ethnos] instead of [laos] as in 24:17; 26:4.

28:20 Did I intreat [parekalesa]. Did I invite you. Because of the hope of Israel [heineken tēs elpidos tou Israel]. Genitive with preposition [heineken]. The hope of the Messiah is his point as in 26:6. I am bound with this chain [tēn halusin tautēn perikeimai]. This old verb means to lie around as in Lu 17:2; Heb 12:1. But it is also used as the passive of [peritithēmi], to place around with the accusative of [peritithēmi] retained. It is a transitive passive. Paul does not lie around the chain, but the chain lies around him, a curious reversal of the imagery (Robertson, Grammar, p. 815).

28:21 Letters [grammata]. Official documents from the Sanhedrin about the charges against Paul. Any harm of thee [ti peri sou ponēron]. Evil [ponēron]. The three aorists [edexametha, apēggeilen, elalēsen] cover the past. These Jews do not mean to say that they had never heard of Paul. It is hardly likely that they had heard of his appeal to Caesar, “for how could the news have reached Rome before Paul?” (Page).

28:22 But we desire [axioumen de]. Old verb [axioō], to deem worthy, to think right or proper as in 15:38 which see. They think it only fair to hear Paul’s side of his case. Concerning this sect [peri tēs haireseōs tautēs]. Paul had identified Christianity with Judaism (verse 20) in its Messianic hope. The language seems to imply that the number of Christians in Rome was comparatively small and mainly Gentile. If the edict of Claudius for the expulsion of the Jews from Rome (Ac 18:2) was due to disturbance over Christ [Chrēstus], then even in Rome the Jews had special reason for hostility towards Christians. Everywhere spoken against [pantachou antilegetai]. Cf. verse 19. The line of cleavage between Jew and Christian was now sharply drawn everywhere.

28:23 Appointed [taxamenoi]. First aorist middle participle of [tassō]. Formal arrangement as in Mt 28:16 when Jesus appointed the mountain for his meeting in Galilee. In great number [pleiones]. Comparative of [polus], “more than a few.” Expounded [exetitheto]. Imperfect middle of [ektithēmi], to set forth, as in 11:4; 18:26. He did it with detail and care and spent all day at it, “from morning till evening” [apo prōi heōs hesperas]. In N.T. only here, 4:3 and Lu 24:29, though common word. Persuading them concerning Jesus [peithōn autous peri tou Iēsou]. Conative present active participle, trying to persuade. It was only about Jesus that he could make good his claim concerning the hope of Israel (verse 20). It was Paul’s great opportunity. So he appealed both to Moses and to the prophets for proof as it was his custom to do.

28:24 Some believed [hoi men epeithonto]. Imperfect passive indicative of [peithō]. More exactly, “some began to be persuaded” (inchoative). Some disbelieved [hoi de ēpistoun]. Imperfect active of [apisteō], to disbelieve, continued to disbelieve. It is usually so.

28:25 When they agreed not [asumphōnoi ontes]. Old adjective, only here in N.T., double compound [a] privative, [sum, phōnē], without symphony, out of harmony, dissonant, discordant. It was a triumph to gain adherents at all in such an audience. They departed [apeluonto]. Imperfect middle (direct) indicative, “They loosed themselves from Paul.” Graphic close. After that Paul had spoken one word [eipontos tou Paulou rhēma hen]. Genitive absolute. One last word (like a preacher) after the all day exposition. Well [kalōs]. Cf. Mt 14:7; Mr 7:6, 9 (irony). Here strong indignation in the very position of the word (Page). To your fathers [pros tous pateras humōn]. So Aleph A B instead of [hēmōn] (our) like Stephen in 7:52 whose words Paul had heard. By mentioning the Holy Spirit Paul shows (Knowling) that they are resisting God (7:52).

28:26 Say [eipon]. Second aorist active imperative instead of the old form [eipe]. The quotation is from Isa 6:9,10. This very passage is quoted by Jesus (Mt 13:14,15; Mr 4:12; Lu 8:10) in explanation of his use of parables and in Joh 12:40 the very point made by Paul here, “the disbelief of the Jews in Jesus” (Page). See on Matthew for discussion of the language used. Here the first time (“go to this people and say”) does not occur in Matthew. It is a solemn dirge of the doom of the Jews for their rejection of the Messiah foreseen so long ago by Isaiah.

28:28 This salvation [touto to sōtērion]. Adjective from [sōtēr] (Saviour), saving, bringing salvation. Common in the old Greek. The neuter as here often in LXX (as Ps 67:2) as substantive like [sōtēria] (cf. Lu 3:6). They will also hear [autoi kai akousontai]. [Autoi] as opposed to the rejection by the Jews, “vivid and antithetical” (Page).

28:30 Two whole years [dietian holēn]. Only here in N.T. and 24:27 which see. During these busy years in Rome Paul wrote Philippians, Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians, Epistles that would immortalize any man, unless, forsooth, one or more of them was written from Ephesus or Caesarea, which has not yet been proven. In his own hired dwelling [en idiōi misthōmati]. Old word, here only in N.T., that which is hired for a price (from [misthoō] and that from [misthos], hire). Received [apedecheto]. Imperfect middle of [apodechomai], received from time to time as they came, all that came [eisporeuomenous] from time to time. Preaching [kerussōn], teaching [didaskōn], the two things that concerned Paul most, doing both as if his right hand was not in chains, to the amazement of those in Rome and in Philippi (Php 1:12-14). None forbidding him [akōlutōs]. Old adverb from [a] privative and the verbal adjective [kōlutos] (from [kōluō], to hinder), here only in the N.T. Page comments on “the rhythmic cadence of the concluding words.” Page rejects the notion that the book is an unfinished work. It closes with the style of a concluded work. I agree with Harnack that Luke wrote the Acts during this period of two years in Rome and carried events no further because they had gone no further. Paul was still a prisoner in Rome when Luke completed the book. But he had carried Paul to “Rome, the capital of the world, Urbi et Orbi” (Page). The gospel of Christ has reached Rome. For the fate of Paul we must turn elsewhere. But Luke had the presence of Paul while he carried the Acts to its triumphant conclusion. Ramsay can give a good deal in proof of his claim that Luke is the greatest of all historians. Beyond a doubt his rank is high and the world can never repay its debt to this cultured physician who wrote the Gospel and the Acts.

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