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21. Paul Arrives in Jerusalem
1And when it came to pass that were parted from them and had set sail, we came with a straight course unto Cos, and the next day unto Rhodes, and from thence unto Patara: 2and having found a ship crossing over unto Phoenicia, we went aboard, and set sail. 3And when we had come in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left hand, we sailed unto Syria, and landed at Tyre; for there the ship was to unlade her burden. 4And having found the disciples, we tarried there seven days: and these said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not set foot in Jerusalem. 5And when it came to pass that we had accomplished the days, we departed and went on our journey; and they all, with wives and children, brought us on our way till we were out of the city: and kneeling down on the beach, we prayed, and bade each other farewell; 6and we went on board the ship, but they returned home again. 7And when we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais; and we saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day. 8And on the morrow we departed, and came unto Caesarea: and entering into the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, we abode with him. 9Now this man had four virgin daughters, who prophesied. 10And as we tarried there some days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus. 11And coming to us, and taking Paul's girdle, he bound his own feet and hands, and said, Thus saith the Holy Spirit, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. 12And when we heard these things, both we and they of that place besought him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13Then Paul answered, What do ye, weeping and breaking my heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. 14And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done. 15And after these days we took up our baggage and went up to Jerusalem. 16And there went with us also certain of the disciples from Caesarea, bringing with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we should lodge. 17And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. 18And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. 19And when he had saluted them, he rehearsed one by one the things which God had wrought among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20And they, when they heard it, glorified God; and they said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of them that have believed; and they are all zealous for the law: 21and they have been informed concerning thee, that thou teachest all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children neither to walk after the customs. 22What is it therefore? They will certainly hear that thou art come. 23Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men that have a vow on them; 24these take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges for them, that they may shave their heads: and all shall know that there is no truth in the things whereof they have been informed concerning thee; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, keeping the law. 25But as touching the Gentiles that have believed, we wrote, giving judgment that they should keep themselves from things sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what is strangled, and from fornication. 26Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them went into the temple, declaring the fulfilment of the days of purification, until the offering was offered for every one of them. 27And when the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the multitude and laid hands on him, 28crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man that teacheth all men everywhere against the people, and the law, and this place; and moreover he brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath defiled this holy place. 29For they had before seen with him in the city Trophimus the Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple. 30And all the city was moved, and the people ran together; and they laid hold on Paul, and dragged him out of the temple: and straightway the doors were shut. 31And as they were seeking to kill him, tidings came up to the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in confusion. 32And forthwith he took soldiers and centurions, and ran down upon them: and they, when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, left off beating Paul. 33Then the chief captain came near, and laid hold on him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and inquired who he was, and what he had done. 34And some shouted one thing, some another, among the crowd: and when he could not know the certainty for the uproar, he commanded him to be brought into the castle. 35And when he came upon the stairs, so it was that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the crowd; 36for the multitude of the people followed after, crying out, Away with him. 37And as Paul was about to be brought into the castle, he saith unto the chief captain, May I say something unto thee? And he said, Dost thou know Greek? 38Art thou not then the Egyptian, who before these days stirred up to sedition and led out into the wilderness the four thousand men of the Assassins? 39But Paul said, I am a Jew, of Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and I beseech thee, give me leave to speak unto the people. 40And when he had given him leave, Paul, standing on the stairs, beckoned with the hand unto the people; and when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew language, saying,
22. Paul's Arrest and Defense
1Brethren and fathers, hear ye the defence which I now make unto you. 2And when they heard that he spake unto them in the Hebrew language, they were the more quiet: and he saith, 3I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, at the feet of Gamaliel, instructed according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God, even as ye all are this day: 4and I persecuted this Way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. 5As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and journeyed to Damascus to bring them also that were there unto Jerusalem in bonds to be punished. 6And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and drew nigh unto Damascus, about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. 7And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 8And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. 9And they that were with me beheld indeed the light, but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me. 10And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. 11And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me I came into Damascus. 12And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well reported of by all the Jews that dwelt there, 13came unto me, and standing by me said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And in that very hour I looked up on him. 14And he said, The God of our fathers hath appointed thee to know his will, and to see the Righteous One, and to hear a voice from his mouth. 15For thou shalt be a witness for him unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. 16And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name. 17And it came to pass, that, when I had returned to Jerusalem, and while I prayed in the temple, I fell into a trance, 18and saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem; because they will not receive of thee testimony concerning me. 19And I said, Lord, they themselves know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: 20and when the blood of Stephen thy witness was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting, and keeping the garments of them that slew him. 21And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee forth far hence unto the Gentiles. 22And they gave him audience unto this word; and they lifted up their voice, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live. 23And as they cried out, and threw off their garments, and cast dust into the air, 24the chief captain commanded him be brought into the castle, bidding that he should be examined by scourging, that he might know for what cause they so shouted against him. 25And when they had tied him up with the thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned? 26And when the centurion heard it, he went to the chief captain and told him, saying, What art thou about to do? for this man is a Roman. 27And the chief captain came and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? And he said, Yea. 28And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this citizenship. And Paul said, But I am a Roman born. 29They then that were about to examine him straightway departed from him: and the chief captain also was afraid when he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him. 30But on the morrow, desiring to know the certainty wherefore he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him, and commanded the chief priests and all the council to come together, and brought Paul down and set him before them.
37. May I speak unto thee? Paul offered himself to defend his cause, which all the servants of God must do. For we must do our endeavor to make our integrity known to all men, lest through our infamy the name of God be blasphemed. But when the chief captain demandeth whether Paul be not that Egyptian which was a murderer, which a little before had led away a company of men, 494494 “Hominum turbam ad defectionem impulerat?” had induced a body of men to revolt. let us learn that how modestly and quietly soever the ministers of Christ behave themselves, and howsoever they be void of all fault, yet cannot they escape the reproaches and slanders of the world. Which thing we must note for this cause, that we may acquaint ourselves with rebukes; 495495 “Ut ad contumelias assuescamus,” that we may accustom ourselves to contumely. and that in well-doing we may be prepared to be evil-spoken of. When he asketh him concerning the Egyptian, he meaneth not Theudas the sorcerer, as some men falsely suppose; of whom Gamaliel made mention before in the fifth chapter, (Acts 5:36) and of whom Josephus speaketh more in his twentieth of Antiquities. For, besides that we read there that Theudas carried away only four hundred men, and the chief captain reckoneth up in this place four thousand, and saith that they were all murderers, that is more, in that Theudas raised that faction during the reign of Tiberius or Augustus Caesar; whereof remained only an obscure report, because, so soon as a troop of horsemen was sent after them, they were forthwith destroyed.
Notwithstanding, it seemeth to me that Josephus is deceived in that where he saith, first, that Cuspius Fadus was sent by Claudius, and then he addeth, that Theudas was of him overcome, seeing I have before showed that that former insurrection was made at such time as Claudius was but a private man. Though he disagree much with Luke’s narration, even in the number, seeing he saith that there were about thirty thousand made partners in the sedition, unless happily we expound it thus, that, after he was put to flight by Felix, he fled into the wilderness with four thousand. And it had been an absurd thing that the number should be made ten times greater, as also, that a troop, having no skill in war, or being altogether without courage, should have been defamed with the name of murderers. For as Josephus doth witness, that seducer had deceived the simple and credulous common people with false promises, boasting that he was a prophet of God, which would lead the people dry foot through the midst of Jordan.
But the same Josephus putteth the matter out of doubt when he saith, that an Egyptian, a prophet, did gather together a band of men under Felix the president, and did carry them into Mount Olivet, whereof four hundred were slain, two hundred taken, and the residue dispersed. The history was fresh in memory. Again, forasmuch as the author of the sedition was escaped, and the region filled with murderers, 496496 “Latronibus infesta,” infested with robbers. it is not without cause that the chief captain demandeth of Paul, when he seeth all men so hate him, whether he were that Egyptian. Luke recordeth no longer conference had between the chief captain and Paul; yet it is likely, forasmuch as both of them understood the Greek tongue, that they had farther talk. Whereby it came to pass, that so soon as Paul had well purged himself, he had license granted him to speak to the people. For the chief captain would never have suffered a wicked man to make any public speech in a city which was so sore suspected.
Though we may guess by the beginning of this speech what was Paul’s drift, yet because he was interrupted, we know not certainly what he was about to say. The sum of that part which is refitted is this, that forasmuch as he was well and faithfully instructed in the doctrine of the law, he was a godly and religious worshipper of God in the sight of the world. Secondly, that he was an enemy to the gospel of Christ, so that he was counted among the priests one of the principal maintainers and defenders of the law. Thirdly, that he did not change his sect unadvisedly; but that being tamed and convict by an oracle from heaven, he gave his name to Christ. Fourthly, that he did not embrace unknown things, but that God appointed him a faithful teacher, of whom he learned all things perfectly. Lastly, that when he was returned to Jerusalem, and sought to do good to his countrymen, God did not permit him. So that he brought not the doctrine of salvation unto foreign nations without good consideration, or because he hated his own nation, but being commanded by God so to do.
1. Men, brethren, and fathers. It is a wonder that he giveth so great honor yet to the desperate enemies of the gospel, for they had broken all bond of brotherly fellowship, and by oppressing the glory of God, had spoiled themselves of all titles of dignity. But because Paul speaketh in this place as some one of the people, he speaketh so lovingly unto the body itself, and useth towards the heads words honorable without dissembling. And surely because their casting off was not made known as yet, though they were unworthy of any honor, yet it was meet that Paul should reverently acknowledge in them the grace of God’s adoption. Therefore, in that he calleth them brethren and fathers, he doth not so much regard what they have deserved, as into what degree of honor God had exalted them. And all his oration is so framed that he goeth about to satisfy them, freely indeed, and without flattering, yet humbly and meekly. Therefore, let us learn so to reverence and honor men that we impair not God’s right. For which cause the pope’s pride is the more detestable, who, seeing he hath made himself an high priest without the commandment of God and the consent of the Church, doth not only challenge to himself all titles of honor, but also such tyranny, that he goeth about to bring Christ in subjection; as if when God doth exalt men he did resign up his right and authority to them, and did stoop down to them.
2. That he spake Hebrew. This is indeed an usual thing, that when men which speak diverse languages are together, we hear those more willingly who speak our own language; but the Jews were moved with another peculiar cause, because they imagined that Paul was offended 497497 “Ex professo infensum,” professedly hostile to. with his own kindred, so that he did even hate their tongue, or that he was some rogue which had not so much as learned the speech of that nation whereof he said he came. Now, so soon as they heard their own language, they began to have some better hope. Furthermore, it is uncertain whether Paul spake in the Hebrew or in the Syrian tongue; for we know that the speech of the Jews was corrupt and degenerate after their exile, forasmuch as they had much from the Chaldeans and Syrians. For mine own part, I think, that because he spake as well to the common sort as unto the elders, he used the common speech which was at that day usual.
3. I am a Jew. As all things were out of order at that day among the Jews, many rogues and vagabonds, to the end they might have some shroud for their wickedness, did falsely boast that they were Jews. Therefore, to the end Paul may acquit himself of this suspicion, he beginneth at his birth; that done, he declareth that he was known in Jerusalem, because he was brought up there of [from] a child; though this latter thing seemeth to be spoken not only for certainty’s sake, but because it skilled much that this should also be known how well he had been instructed.
There is nothing more bold to cause trouble than unlearned men. And at that day the government of the Church was so decayed, that religion was not only subject to sects, but also miserably mangled and torn in pieces. Therefore, Paul nameth his master, lest any man may think that he had not been nousled up in learning, 498498 “Nulla disciplina imbutum,” not imbued with any discipline. and therefore had he forsaken the worship of the fathers; as many men, who are not trained up in learning, forget their nature and grow out of kind. 499499 “Fiunt degeneres,” become degenerate, But Paul saith chiefly that he was well taught in the law, that the Jews may understand that it was not through ignorance (as it falleth out oftentimes) that he causeth such ado, and doth counterfeit their monsters.
It is to be doubted whether this be that Gamaliel of whom mention is made before, (Acts 5:34). Scholars are said to sit at their masters’ feet, because forasmuch as they be not as yet of strong and sound judgment, they must bring such modesty and aptness to be taught, that they must make all their senses subject to their masters, and must depend upon their mouth. So Mary is said to sit at Jesus’ feet (Luke 10:39) when she giveth ear to his doctrine. But and if such reverence be due to earthly masters, how much more ought we to prostrate ourselves before the feet of Christ, that we may give ear to him when he teacheth us out of his heavenly throne? This speech doth also put boys and young men in remembrance of their duty, that they be not stout nor stubborn, or that they be not puffed nor lifted up against their masters through some foolish confidence, but that they suffer themselves quietly and gently to be framed by them.
Taught in the law of the fathers. The old interpreter doth translate it word for word, taught according to the truth of the fathers’ law, saving that ἀκρίβεια is rather a perfect way 500500 “Exacta ratio,” an exact method. than truth. Notwithstanding the question is, What he meaneth by this perfect way, seeing all of them had one and the same form of the law? He seemeth to me to distinguish that purer form of knowledge wherein he had been trained up from the common instruction, which did more disagree with the true and natural meaning of the law. And although the law of the Lord was then corrupt by many additions, even among the best doctors, yet because religion was altogether there corrupt among many, Paul doth for good causes boast, that he was both well and also diligently instructed in the law of the fathers; or (which is all one) exactly or perfectly, lest any man should think that he had gotten only some small smattering, as if he were one of the common sort.
But because many who are well taught are, notwithstanding, full stuffed with Epicurish contempt of God, he declareth that he was zealous toward God; as if he should say, that the serious study of godliness was annexed to doctrine, so that he meant not to daily in holy things, as profane men do of set purpose confound all things.
But because this his zeal was altogether rash, he maketh himself like to the other Jews for that time. Notwithstanding, this may be taken in good part, that he did long ago no less worship God from his heart than they did then.
4. I persecuted this way. This is the second point, that he was an enemy to Christ’s doctrine, and that he was more fervent in resisting the same than all the rest, until he was pulled back by the hand of God; which thing he saith the chief priests and elders can testify. Therefore, there can be no suspicion in such a sudden change. Whereas he saith, that he had letters given him to deliver to the brethren, it must be referred unto the Jews, as if he had called them his countrymen; but he meant to appease them with a more honorable title. For this is Paul’s drift, that he may declare his natural and lawful beginning which he took of that nation; 501501 “Ab ilia genta... originem,” origin from that nation. and also how desirous he was to be linked with them in friendship.