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The apostles are examined

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A. M. 4037. 24 Now when the high-priest, and || feared the people, lest they should have A. M. 4037. "the captain of the temple, and the been stoned. chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow.

25 Then came one and told them, saying,|| Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people.

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27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the highpriest asked them,

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28 Saying, Did not we straitly command you, that ye should not teach in this name? and behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's a blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles an

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26 Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they u Luke xxii. 4; Chap. iv. 1.——————¤ Matt. xxi. 26.— -- Matt. xxi. 26.—y Chap. iv. 18. z Chap. ii. 23, 36; iii. 15; vii. 52.--a Matt. xxiii. 35; xxvii. 25. obedience to the divine command, the high-priest attack upon them. "This may seem a surprising came—Into the room where the council was usually change in the people, considering the eagerness with held; and called together all the senate of Israel- which they demanded that Christ should be cruciAll the members of the sanhedrim, being solicitous fied. But it is exceedingly probable, that seeing the that there should be as full a house as possible on so|| mighty power which wrought in the apostles, they important an occasion; and sent proper officers to|| might entertain some hope of obtaining temporal the prison, to have the apostles brought before them, deliverance by their means, (see Acts i. 6,) of which that the court might proceed to their examination they were so exceedingly fond; and a disappointment and punishment. But when the officers came-To|| in their hope of which had turned their hosannas their great surprise, they found them not in the|| [addressed to Christ] into the cry, Crucify him, prison, and yet could discover no way whereby|| crucify him." And when they had brought them— they could have made their escape, considering the For the apostles made no opposition, but readily and circumstances that appeared on inquiry. Return- cheerfully obeyed the summons, that they might ing, therefore, to the council, they made their report repeat their testimony to their Divine Master, in the accordingly. presence of the rulers; they set them before the Verses 24, 25. When the high-priest, &c., heard council-In order to their examination. We may these things-So perfectly unexpected; they doubt-|| think, if God designed that the apostles should be ed of them-They were extremely perplexed, and thus seized, and brought before the sanhedrim a even at their wit's end, having never been so disap- second time, why were they rescued from their first pointed before of a thing they were so sure of. They imprisonment? But that was intended to humble doubted, Tɩ av yevOITO T8TO, what this thing might be the pride, and check the fury of these their perse―That is, whether they had procured their liberty cutors. And the high-priest-Singling out Peter || by corrupting the keepers, or whether there might and John, who had so lately been examined before not be something miraculous in the deliverance of the council; asked them-As the mouth of the court; persons, whom such extraordinary circumstances saying, Did we not straitly command you-You had attended; and in that case, what this affair might|| two in particular, and so, in effect, all the rest of import, and what the issue of it might be. Thus the your company, and on pain of our highest displeaworld, in persecuting the children of God, entangle || sure; that you should not teach in this name—But themselves in numberless difficulties. Then came you have disobeyed our commands, and go on to came|| one-Who knew their disappointment, and the un- preach, not only without our license, but against our easiness it gave them; saying, Behold, the men express order. See the poor cunning of the enewhom ye put in prison-And have commanded to|| mies of the gospel! They make laws and interdicts be brought to your bar; are standing in the temple || at their pleasure, which those who obey God cannot -Here, however they came thither; and teaching || but break, and then they take occasion thereby to the people-With as much freedom and confidence censure and punish the innocent as guilty. And beNow this confounded them more than any hold, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine thing. Prisoners, who had broken prison, used to -Your false and pernicious doctrine, and thereby abscond for fear of being retaken; but these prison- have disturbed the public peace; and intend to bring ers, after they had made their escape, durst show || this man's blood upon us-An artful and invidious their faces even there where their prosecutors had expression. The apostles did not desire to accuse the greatest influence. any man; they simply declared the naked truth. Verses 26-28. Then went the captain with the Thus these rulers charged them, not only with conofficers-By the direction of the sanhedrim; and tumacy, and contempt of the court, but with sedition brought them—Ov μɛra bias, not by violence; for they and faction, and a plot to set the people against them, feared the people, lest-If they had offered any vio- for having persecuted, even to death, not only so lence in their presence; they should have been stoned innocent, but so good and great a man as this Jesus. -The people were so fully persuaded that a divine Verses 29--32. Then Peter and the other apostles power attended the apostles, that they held their Or, Peter, in the name of the others, who, it seems, persons sacred, and would not have borne any open | were all present; said-He does not give them the

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The apostles, being examined,

THE ACTS.

confess the Lord Jesus.

A. M. 4037. swered and said, "We ought to obey || give repentance to Israel, and forgive- A. M. 4037, God rather than men.

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ness of sins.

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32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, k whom God hath given to them that obey him.

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titles of honour which he did before; (chap. iv. 8;) || punishment of sin, but those who are freed from the but enters directly upon the subject, and justifies power and dominion of it; that are turned from it what he and his brethren had done. This is, as it to God. And on the other hand, wherever repentwere, a continuation of that discourse, but with an ance takes place, accompanied with fruits worthy increase of severity; We ought to obey God rather || of repentance, and faith in Christ, and in the prothan men-They do not plead the power they had|| mises of God through him, remission is granted to work miracles; a power which spoke sufficiently without fail. Some infer from hence, that repentfor them, and proved their divine mission; and,|| ance and faith are as mere gifts of God, as remistherefore, they humbly declined mentioning it them- sion of sins. Not so: for man co-operates in the selves: but appealed to a maxim universally owned,|| former, but not in the latter. God alone forgives to which even reason must subscribe, and which sins. And we are his witnesses of these things— was a perfect justification of their conduct; God had|| How incredible soever they may appear to you, and commanded them to teach in the name of Christ, are appointed by him to publish them to the world: and therefore they were in duty bound to do it, and if we should be silent, as you would have us to though the chief priests forbade them. The God || be, we should be false to, and betray, a trust of the of our fathers raised up Jesus-Of the seed of Da- greatest possible importance; and so is also the vid, according to the promises made to our fathers;|| Holy Ghost-A much greater witness, a witness that is, he qualified him for, and called him to, his from heaven; whom God hath given-In his gifts, great undertaking. It seems to refer to the promise as well as graces, as has been abundantly manifested made by Moses. See chap. iii. 22. Or, he may of late, in the presence of thousands; to them that speak of God's raising him from the grave. Whom || obey him—That obey his gospel, and submit themye slew and hanged on a tree—As if he had been || selves to his government. "The testimony arising the meanest of slaves, and the vilest of malefactors. || from this miraculous communication of the Spirit to You put him to death in the most infamous man- Christians at that time, entirely removes the objecner; but God has restored him to life; so that God || tion from Christ's not appearing in public after his and you are manifestly contesting about this Jesus, || resurrection: for had there been any imposture, it and which must we side with? Him-This very || had been easier of the two to have persuaded peoperson, notwithstanding all the outrage with which ple at a distance, that he had so appeared to the you treated him; hath God exalted with his right hand-By his almighty power, from the grave to|| heaven; or, to his right hand. You loaded him with disgrace; but God has crowned him with honour; and ought not we to honour him whom God honours? A Prince and a Saviour-To his people, whom he both governs and delivers, and therefore we ought to preach in his name, and make Verse 33. When they heard that-When the highknown the laws of his kingdom, as he is a Prince; priest and the Sadducees heard this courageous tesand the offers of his grace, as he is a Saviour. Ob- timony, and faithful remonstrance; they were cut to serve, reader, we cannot have Christ to be our Sa- the heart-Greek, diɛπpiovro, they were sawn asunviour, unless we be willing to take him for our Ruler. der, namely, with anger and indignation. When a We cannot be redeemed and healed by him, unless sermon was preached to the people to this purpose, we give up ourselves to be governed by him. His they were pierced to the heart, chap. ii. 37; namely, saving us is in order to his ruling us. To give re- with remorse and godly sorrow: these here are cut pentance to Israel-To give the people of Israel || to the heart with resentment and rage. Thus the place or room for repentance, notwithstanding their same gospel is to some a savour of life unto life, aggravated guilt; and to declare unto them the and to others of death unto death; and its enemies terms of peace and reconciliation: or, to call them not only deprive themselves of its comforts, but fill to repentance by the gospel, and give them grace to themselves with terrors, and are their own tormentenable them to obey the call; and forgiveness of ors. And took counsel to slay them-To put them all sins-To all the truly penitent, on whom alone that to death, either under pretence of blasphemy, or for blessing is bestowed: for there is no remission with- sedition and rebellion against the supreme council out repentance; none are freed from the guilt and || of the state. Thus, while the apostles proceeded in

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Jewish rulers, or even to the multitude, and yet had been rejected, than that he had given his servants such extraordinary powers; since, had this assertion been false, every one might have been a witness to the falsehood of such a pretence, without the trouble and expense of a journey to Jerusalem, or any other distant place."-Doddridge.

Gamaliel, a doctor of the law,

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them.

CHAPTER V.

4

prudently cautions the council.

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A. M. 4037. to the heart, and took counsel to slay || themselves: who was slain; and all, A. M. 4037. as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to naught.

34 Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named m Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;

37 After this man rose up Judas of Galilee, in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispers

35 And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, || ed. take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men :

38 And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: " for if this

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36 For before these days rose up Theudas, || counsel or this work be of men, it will come to boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined

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39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow

4 Or, believed.—" Prov. xxi. 30; Isa. viii.
Prov. xxi. 30; Isa. viii. || 10; Matthew xv. 13.-
10; Matthew xv. 13.——————o Luke xxi. 15; 1 Corinthians i. 25.

the service of Christ, with a holy security and serenity be no reference to him here. But Theudas being a of mind, perfectly composed, and in a sweet enjoy- very common name among the Jews, the person ment of themselves, their persecutors went on in|| here mentioned, most probably, was one among the their opposition to Christ, with constant perplexity || many leaders, who, as Josephus informs us, took up and perturbation! arms in defence of the public liberties, when the

cond afterward did) perished in the attempt; but as || his followers were dispersed, and not slaughtered like those of the second Theudas, survivers might talk much of him, and Gamaliel might have been particularly informed of his history, though Josephus only mentions it in general. After this man rose up Judas of Galilee-Of whom see note on Luke xiii. 1, 2; in the days of the taxing—Or, as ev

taxation, or enrolment; meaning those same days, or at the same period of time, when the impostor Theudas appeared; and drew away much people after him-Endeavouring, on the principles of sacred liberty, to dissuade the Jews from owning the authority of the Romans in that instance; he also perished-Was quickly destroyed; and as many as obeyed him—As hearkened to, and followed him; were dispersed--And their cause came to nothing.

Verses 34-37. Then stood up one in the council,|| grand enrolment was made by Cyrenius, in the days a Pharisee—And as such believing the immortality of Archelaus. See note on Luke ii. 17. This Theuof the soul and the resurrection; named Gamaliel || das seems to have been supported by smaller numHe is said to have been the son of good old Simeon, ||bers than the second of the name; and (as the sementioned Luke ii. 25; and the person at whose feet St. Paul was brought up. He was a man in so great esteem among the Jews, that Onkelos, the author of the Targum, is said to have burned seventy pounds weight of perfumes at his funeral; and the || Jews have this saying concerning him: "From the time that Rabban Gamaliel, the old, died, the honour of the law failed, and purity and Pharisaism died." A|| doctor-Or teacher; of the law-Who trained up a ταις ημέραις της απογραφης signifes, in the days of the great number of pupils in the knowledge of it; had|| in reputation among all the people-Except the Sadducees. Thus can God raise up defenders of his servants whensoever and wheresoever he pleases. || This man, rising up, commanded to put the apostles forth a little space-That he might speak the more freely, and be the more freely answered. And said, Ye men of Israel-To whom Divine Providence has committed the guardianship of this people, and the important care of their public affairs; take heed Verses 38, 39. And now I say unto you—I, thereto yourselves-Now you are angry at these men; fore, with regard to the present affair, give it as my what ye intend to do--Lest you meddle to your own most serious and deliberate advice; Refrain from hurt. He puts them in mind of the importance of || these men, and let them alone-In à cause which is the matter in hand, which, in their heat, they were manifestly good, we should immediately join. In a not capable of considering as they ought. For be- || cause, on the other hand, which is manifestly evil, fore these days rose up Theudas-He prudently we should immediately oppose. But in a sudden, mentions the facts first, and then draws the infer-new, doubtful occurrence, this advice of Gamaliel is ence. A person of the name of Theudas is menproper and eminently useful. For if this counsel tioned by Josephus, (Antiq., xx. 5,) under the cha- or this work-He seems to correct himself, as if i racter of a false prophet, who drew a great number were some sudden work, rather than a counsel, or of people after him, with a promise of dividing Jor- design. And so it was. For the apostles had no dan before them, but was defeated and beheaded, counsel, plan, or design of their own; but were mere most of his followers being also slain or imprisoned. instruments in the hand of God, working just as he led See notes on Matt. xxiv. 5. But as this person ap- them from day to day. If it be of men-If it be a peared when Fadus was procurator of Judea, that is, merely human contrivance, and matter of deceit; it according to Capellus, seven, or, according to Whit- || will come to naught—It will soon sink, and come to by, at least ten years after this was spoken, there can || nothing of itself; some incident will arise to discredit

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it, and the whole interest of this Jesus will moulder and people who may, at any time, be in similar ciraway, as that of Theudas and of Judas did, both which || cumstances. Nay, they departed, rejoicing that they seem to have been much more strongly supported by || were counted worthy to suffer shame-Being men in human power. But if it be of God—If it be really his || reputation, who had never done any thing to make cause, which does not appear to me impossible, ye || themselves vile, they could not but have a sense of cannot overthrow it, whatever power or policy you the shame they suffered, which, it seems, was more use; for though even these particular instruments grievous to them than the smart caused by the should be taken off, he will, undoubtedly, raise up || scourges, as uses to be the case with ingenuous others: lest haply ye be found even to fight against || minds. But they considered that it was for the God-Against his almighty power, and infinitely name of Christ that they were thus abused, and that wise and ever watchful providence; an undertaking their sufferings would be made to contribute to the which must prove dreadfully fatal to all who are so further advancement of his cause and glory; and, rash and unhappy as to engage in it. therefore, 1st, They reckoned it an honour to be so Verse 40. And to him they agreed—Acknowledg-treated, to be disgraced, or exposed to infamy for ing his advice to be safe and wise. They, therefore, || his name-His venerable and sacred name; rightly dropped the design of putting the apostles to death;|| judging that a punishment of this kind, though geneyet they could not forbear giving vent to their rage, rally shameful, became a glory to them when borne (so outrageous was it,) in a most unjust and cruel || in so excellent a cause, and for the sake of him who, manner, and as evidently contrary to the conviction though so divinely great, and so perfectly happy, of their judgments and consciences, as it was to Ga- || had submitted, not only to stripes, but to death for maliel's counsel, which was to let them alone. For them. 2d, They rejoiced in it, remembering what when they had called them in, they beat them—That || their Master had said to them at their first setting is, stripped and scourged them as malefactors. Thus out, Matt. v. 11, 13; When men shall revile and they thought to make them ashamed of preaching, || and the people of hearing them; as Pilate scourged our Saviour to expose him to shame, when he declared he found no fault in him. And, added to this, they renewed their prohibition of speaking any more in the name of Jesus. This they did in order that, if they could find no other fault with their preaching, they might, at least, have this reason for reproaching it, that it was against law; and not only without the permission, but against the express order of their superiors.

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persecute you, rejoice and be exceeding glad. They rejoiced not only though they suffered shame, their troubles not diminishing their joy, but that they suffered shame, for their troubles increased their joy, and added to it. Reader, if we suffer ill for doing well, provided we suffer in a right spirit, and as we should, we ought to rejoice in that grace which enables us so to do.

Verse 42. And daily in the temple, &c.-The apostles were punished for preaching, and commanded strictly not to preach: yet they went on with their Verse 41. And they departed from the presence of work with unabated zeal, and indefatigable diligence, the council-As soon as they were dismissed, not in omitting no opportunity of doing it. Observe, 1st, the least terrified by the cruel usage they had met They preached daily, not only on sabbath days, or on with, nor by the threatenings of their adversaries. | Lord's days, but every day, as duly as the day came; See the power of the grace of God! These are the|| not fearing lest they should either injure their health, men who forsook Christ when the soldiers came to or cloy their hearers. 2d, They preached both pubapprehend him, not daring to be seen in his com- || licly in the temple, and privately in every house: pany: yet now they profess his name, and abide by || in promiscuous assemblies, to which all resorted : their profession, though they are derided and beaten and in the select assemblies of Christians, appointed for it. And we do not find that they said one word for special ordinances. They did not think that either by way of reflection upon the court, for the unjust of these would excuse them from the other, knowing treatment given them: when reviled they reviled || they were to preach the word in season and out of not again, and when they suffered they threatened season. Though in the temple they were more exnot; but committed their cause to him, to whom posed, and were under the eye of their enemies, yet Gamaliel had referred it, even to God, who judgeth || they did not confine themselves to their little oratorighteously. All their care was to preserve the pos-ries in their own houses, but ventured into the post session of their own souls, and to make full proof of || of danger: and though they had the liberty of the their ministry, both which they were enabled to do || temple, a consecrated place, yet they made no diffiin a manner worthy of the imitation of all ministers || culty of preaching in houses: in every house—Even

Discontents arise concerning

CHAPTER VI.

the distribution of the charity.

the poorest. 3d, We are also told what was the || and interest, and not their own. This was the subject of their preaching; they preached Jesus preaching that gave most offence to the priests and Christ; they not only preached concerning him, || rulers: they were willing they should preach any but they preached him, exhibiting him to those that || thing but Christ; but the apostles would not alter heard them, as their Prophet, Priest, and King; their subject to please them. Observe, reader, it their Teacher, Mediator, Governor, and Judge; their || ought to be the constant business of gospel ministers Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemp-to preach Christ; Christ, and him crucified; Christ, tion: they preached, not themselves, but Christ Je- and him glorified; Christ dying for us; Christ living sus the Lord, as the one Saviour of lost sinners, in us; nothing besides this, or what is reducible making it their chief business to advance his honour [[ to it.

CHAPTER VI.

In this chapter we have, (1,) An account of some discontents that arose among the disciples, about the distributing of their charity, 1. (2,) The election and ordination of seven men to superintend that matter, and ease the apostles of the burden of it, 2-6. (3,) The increase of the church, by the addition of many members to it, 7. (4,) A particular account of Stephen, his great activity for Christ and his cause, 8; the opposition he met with from the enemies of Christianity, and his disputes with them, 9, 10: (5,) He is accused to the sanhedrim, and appears before them with an angelic lustre upon his countenance, 11-15.

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Chap. ii. 41; iv. 4; v. 14; Verse 7.

NOTES ON CHAPTER VI.

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b Chap. ix. 29; xi. 20. Chap. iv. 35. as their native language. These were descendVerse 1. In those days-Some time after the fact ants of such Jews as, in several national calamities, last recorded had taken place; when the number of had been forced to flee to Alexandria, and other the disciples was multiplied-For it appears their Gentile countries, or, on account of trade and comnumber increased continually and rapidly, notwith-merce, had chosen to settle there, and yet kept standing the opposition made by the priests and themselves unmixed with the Gentiles; and, retaining rulers to the preaching of the gospel: indeed that || the knowledge of the true God, were wont to come opposition, instead of checking the progress of Chris-occasionally, especially on the solemn feasts, to tianity, contributed to it: there arose a murmuring worship at Jerusalem. Against the Hebrews-Who -The historian's manner of speaking, πληdvvovτwv|were natives of Judea, and therefore used a dialect Twv μadηtwv eyevɛto yoyyvoμos, the disciples multiply- of the Hebrew, or Syro-Chaldaic tongue; because ing, there arose a murmuring, seems to imply, that their widows were neglected-In some degree, as the murmuring was partly, at least, the consequence they supposed; in the daily ministration—Of the of the great increase of the disciples. And certainly, charities that were distributed to the poor members 1st, In proportion as the number of Christians in- of the church. It is justly observed here by Mr. creased, the scandal of the cross would be diminished, || Scott, that “ as the greatest part of the public stock and many would be inclined to unite themselves must have been contributed by the Hebrews, perto them, who were influenced by motives not per- haps they, who acted under the apostles in this fectly pure, and were not truly converted to God, business, thought it right to show more favour to the and made new creatures in Christ. 2d, The acces- poor widows of that description than the others " sion of a great number of converts to the church, It is very probable, however, that the Hellenists susperhaps chiefly from the poor, would render it more|| pected more partiality than there really was. Be difficult than it was before, to afford all the necessi- this as it may, by this real or supposed partiality of tous a proper supply. But, whatever was the cause But, whatever was the cause the Hebrews, and the murmuring of the Hellenists, of the murmuring here spoken of, it was the first || there is reason to think the Spirit of God was grieved, breach made on those who were before of one heart and the seeds of a general persecution were sown. and of one soul. Partiality crept in unawares on || For, did God ever, in any age or country, withdraw some, and murmuring on others. Ah, Lord! how his restraining providence, and let loose the world short a time did pure, genuine, undefiled Christianity upon the Christians, till there was a cause for it remain in the world! How soon was its glory, at among themselves? Is not an open, general perseleast in some measure, eclipsed! Of the Grecians || cution, always both penal and medicinal? à pun-Greek, of the Hellenists, that is, the Jews born ishment of those that will not accept of milder out of Judea, so called, because they used the Greek | reproofs as well as a medicine to heal their sickness ?

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