Verse 16. At my first answer. Or, apology, apologia, plea, or defence. This evidently refers to some trial which he had had before the Roman emperor. He speaks of a first trial of this kind; but whether it was on some former occasion, and he had been released and permitted again to go abroad, or whether it was a trial which he had already had during his second imprisonment, it is not easy to determine. The former is the most natural supposition; for, if he had had a trial during his present imprisonment, it is difficult to see why he was still held as a prisoner. See this point examined in the Intro., & 1.

No man stood with me. Paul had many friends in Rome, 2 Ti 4:21; comp. Ro 16; but it seems that they did not wish to appear as such when he was put on trial for his life. They were, doubtless, afraid that they would be identified with him, and would endanger their own lives. It should be said that some of the friends of the apostle, mentioned in Ro 16, and who were there when that epistle was written, may have died before the apostle arrived there, or, in the trials and persecutions to which they were exposed, may have left the city. Still, it is remarkable that those who were there should have all left him on so trying an occasion. But to forsake a friend in the day of calamity is not uncommon, and Paul experienced what thousands before him and since have done. Thus Job was forsaken by friends and kindred in the day of his trials. See his pathetic description in Job 19:13-17:

He hath put my brethren far from me,

And mine acquaintance verily are estranged from me.

My kinsfolk have failed.

And my familiar friends have forgotten me.

They that dwelt in my house, and my maids, count me for a stranger,

I am an alien in their sight.

I called my servant, and he gave me no answer; I entreated him with

my mouth.

My breath is strange to my wife,

Though I entreated for the children's sake of mine own body.


Thus the Psalmist was forsaken by his friends in the time of calamity, Ps 35:12-16; 38:11; 41:9; 55:12.

And thus the Saviour was forsaken in his trials, Mt 26:66. Comp., for illustration, Zec 13:6. The world is full of instances in which those who have been overtaken by overwhelming calamities, have been forsaken by professed friends, and have been left to suffer alone. This has arisen, partly, from the circumstance that many sincere friends are timid, and their courage fails them when their attachment for another would expose them to peril; but more commonly from the circumstance that there is much professed friendship in the world which is false, and that calamity becomes a test of it which it cannot abide. There is professed friendship which is caused by wealth, (Pr 14:20; 19:4;) there is that which is cherished for those in elevated and fashionable circles; there is that which is formed for beauty of person, or graceful manners, rather than for the solid virtues of the heart; there is that which is created in the sunshine of life—the affection of those "swallow friends, who retire in the winter, and return in the spring." Comp. the concluding remarks on the book of Job. Such friendship is always tested by calamity; and when affliction comes, they, who in the days of prosperity were surrounded by many flatterers and admirers, are surprised to find how few there were among them who truly loved them.

"In the wind and tempest of his frown,

Distinction, with a broad and powerful fan,

Puffing at all, winnows the light away;

And, what hath mass or matter by itself,

Lies, rich in virtue and unmingled."

Troilus and Cressida

So common has this been—so little confidence can be placed in professed friends in time of adversity, that we are sometimes disposed to believe that there is more truth than fancy in the representation of the poet—

"And what is friendship but a name,

A charm that lulls to sleep;

A shade that follows wealth or fame,

But leaves the wretch to weep ?"

Yet there is true friendship in the world. It existed between Damon and Pythias, and its power and beauty were still more strikingly illustrated in the warm affection of David and Jonathan. In the trials of David—though raised from the condition of a shepherd boy—and though having no powerful friends at court, the son of Saul never forsook him, and never gave him occasion to suspect the sincerity or the depth of his affection. With what exquisite beauty he sang of that attachment when Jonathan was dead!

"I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan !

Very pleasant hast thou been unto me !

Thy love to me was wonderful,

Passing the love of women !"

2 Sa 1:26.

True friendship, founded on sincere love, so rare, so difficult to be found, so little known among the gay and the great, is one of the richest of Heaven's blessings to man; and, when enjoyed, should be regarded as more than a compensation for all of show, and splendour, and flattery, that wealth can obtain.

"Though choice of follies fasten on the great,

None clings more obstinate, than fancy fond,

That sacred friendship is their easy prey;

Caught by the wafture of a golden lure,

Or fascination of a high-born smile.

Their smiles, the great, and the coquette, throw out

For other's hearts, tenacious of their own,

And we no less of ours, when such the bait.

Ye fortune's cofferers! ye powers of wealth!

Can gold gain friendship? Impudence of hope!

As well mere man an angel might beget.

Love, and love only, is the loan for love.

Lorenzo! pride repress; nor hope to find

A friend, but what has found a friend in thee.

All like the purchase; few the price will pay,

And this makes friends such miracles below.

A friend is worth all hazards we can run.

Poor is the friendless master of a world;

A world in purchase of a friend is gain."

Night Thoughts, Night 2.

I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. That it may not be reckoned, or imputed to them—logisyeih. On the meaning of this word, See Barnes "Ro 4:3, See Barnes "Phm 1:18".

The prayer of the apostle here breathes the very spirit of Christ. See Barnes "Lu 23:34".

Comp. Ac 7:60.

{a} "all men forsook" 2 Ti 1:15 {b} "laid" Ac 7:60

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