« ZurückWeiter »
57. St. Paul's expression, speaking of this rapture, is above fourteen years ago. Which will carry us back to the fifteenth year, consequently, to the year of Christ 43, for the soonest. At which time I suppose Paul was come to Antioch, and was beginning to preach the gospel there to gentiles, together with Barnabas. Basnage " placeth this rapture in the year 41.
Acts xiii. 4," So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia, and thence sailed to Cyprus."
Antioch upon the Orontes was the capital city of Syria. Seleucia was a city lying about twelve miles lower upon the same river, a port upon the Mediterranean sea, a few miles above the mouth of the Orontes. There Paul and Barnabas took shipping, and sailed to Cyprus, which lay westward. They went ashore at Salamis, a city at the east end of the island. Where finding Jewish synagogues, "they preached the word of the Lord to them." After which they went through the island to Paphos, at the west end, where was the seat of the proconsul. His name was Sergius Paulus: who sent for Barnabas and Saul, desiring to hear the word of God. He being a man well disposed, and seeing the miracle wrought by Saul upon Elymas the sorcerer, whom he smote with blindness for a season, believed or embraced the doctrine of the gospel, taught by Saul and Barnabas. And henceforward St. Luke writes the apostle's name Paul, whom he had hitherto called Saul.
It may be thought, that the chief reason of their going now to Cyprus, was, that it was the native country of Barnabas, as we know from Acts iv. 36. But beside that, I imagine, there was another reason, and more influencing. For we perceive, that some of them who left Jerusalem upon account of the persecution that followed the death of Stephen, were men of Cyprus, and had been there preaching to Jews only, as well as at Antioch. And it might be reckoned very proper, when the gospel was to be preached to Gentiles, as well as to Jews, that these special messengers should go directly to a country where an address had been already made to Jews: and where some of them, as may be reasonably supposed, had been converted to the faith of the gospel.
Leaving Paphos, they came back to the continent, and That rapture, or trance, was somewhat above fourteen years before he wrote his second epistle to Corinth, 2 Cor. xii. 2. Now in that he saith, it was ро Twv, before, or above fourteen years ago, he speaketh not of an indefinite time,- -but that it was a little above that space, though it were somewhat above exact fourteen years,' &c. Lightfoot, Vol. I. p. 792. " Vid. Ann. 41. num. xxi. xxii.
landed at Perga in Pamphylia. Where Mark, who hitherto had accompanied them, left them, and returned to Jerusalem.
From Perga they went to Antioch, the chief city of Pisidia, lying north of Pamphilia. St. Luke has given a large account of Paul's discourse in the Jewish synagogue there, and the success of it, Acts xiii. 14-52. From Antioch they went to Iconium, the chief city of Lycaonia. Where they also taught in the Jewish synagogue: "So that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed." Many miracles likewise were wrought by their hands, during their stay in that city, xiv. 1-4. But at length a design being formed, both by Jews and gentiles, and their rulers, to stone them to death, and they receiving intelligence of it, when it was almost ripe for execution, went thence, and preached the gospel at "Lystra, and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and in the region round about," ver. 6, 7; meaning, perhaps, Isauria, sometimes reckoned a part of Lycaonia. At Lystra, Paul healed a man lame from his birth. Which raised great admiration in the people. And, if not restrained, they would have offered a sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas. Nevertheless, by artifices of unbelieving Jews, who came thither from Antioch and Iconium, the minds of the people were soon changed, and they "stoned Paul, and dragged him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. Howbeit, as the disciples," who had not left him, " stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. Where having preached the gospel, and taught many, they returned again to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, confirming the disciples" there," and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and letting them know, that we must, through much tribulation, enter into the kingdom of God. And when they had ordained them elders in every city, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they had believed." From Antioch they went to Pamphylia. "And when they had preached the word in Perga," where they had been before, but probably made no stay," they went down to Attalia," a maritime city of the same country. "Thence they sailed to Antioch, whence they had been recommended to the grace of God, for the work which they had fulfilled. And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the gentiles. And there they abode long time with the disciples," ver.
For this journey Pearson allots three years, that is, 45, 46, 47, and somewhat more. For he placeth their setting out, and going to Salamis, in the year 44. Tillemont thinks this journey might be performed in two years, that is, according to his computation, part of the year 44, all 45, and part of 46. From which time to the council at Jerusalem, next mentioned by St. Luke, might be, as he thinks, about five years. In which space of time, he supposeth Paul to have gone into Illyricum, and also to have preached "throughout all Judea:" as mentioned, Acts xxvi. 20, and likewise in Cilicia.
I likewise am of opinion, that this journey of Paul and Barnabas in the several countries just mentioned, might be performed in two years. I think they could not set out from Antioch before the beginning of the year 45, and probably returned in the former part of the year 47: but if any are rather for three years, and think this journey was not completed before the beginning of the year 48, I should not reckon it worth while to dispute about it.
But I do not see any reason to believe, that they undertook any more journies, before they went up to the council at Jerusalem. They might judge it very proper to make a long stay at Antioch, where was the first gentile church: as the other apostles made a long stay at Jerusalem, and in Judea. However, this church of Antioch, I suppose, with * Witsius, to have consisted partly of Jews, and partly of gentiles. Nor do I think that Paul and Barnabas would, as yet, extend their ministry farther than they had done, without an express divine appointment. What they had already done was a great deal; and must have exceeded the most raised expectations, till they had seen the event. Their stay at Antioch must have been very useful, probably expedient. It was proper to secure what they had gained. And they might there receive applications from the several countries in which they had been, and impart counsel and encouragement. If they had soon gone hence again, some might have arrived, that should unsettle the minds of new converts. We plainly perceive, that from Judea came several to see this new colony at Antioch. Some might come with good views, to encourage and confirm the believers there or to satisfy themselves concerning the truth of what they had heard with great pleasure. But others might
▾ Annal. Paulin. p. 67.
S. Paul, Art. xii-xv.
* Erat enim urbs Gentilis, et ecclesia ibidem collecta omnium prima, quæ partim Judæis, partim conversis Gentilibus constabat. Ubi supra, sect. iii.
come with a design to instil narrow principles, and disturb their minds with different sentiments from those which had been taught them by Paul and Barnabas. St. Luke, notwithstanding the conciseness of his history, has informed us of two visits made here from Judea, the first in the year 43, or 44," when there came prophets from Jerusalem to Antioch," ch. xi. 27. Afterwards "there came men from Judea, who taught the brethren, that unless they were circumcised, they could not be saved,” xv. 1. Of which more presently.
If Paul and Barnabas went any where, we might think of Cilicia the rather, because we can perceive, that soon after this there were gentile believers there: though when Paul first preached in that country, we suppose him to have applied to Jews only. And it is well observed by Tillemont upon the case now before us: It is certain, that christianity had been established among the gentiles in Cilicia, 'before the council of Jerusalem.' Acts xv. 23. Nevertheless, I should rather think, that Paul and Barnabas did not now leave Antioch, after their return thither, before they went up to Jerusalem. For some of Cilicia might learn the doctrine of the gospel by coming to Antioch. Or some of the prophets and evangelists of Antioch may have gone to Cilicia, with the approbation, and by the direction of Paul and Barnabas.
In this way of arguing I am encouraged by those words of St. Luke, just cited: "And there they abode long time with the disciples." We now proceed.
Acts xv. 1-5, " And certain men, which came down from Judea, taught the brethren: Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined, that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem, unto the apostles and elders, about the question.And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were receiv ed of the church, and of the apostles and elders. And they declared all things that God had done with them. But (they said) there had risen up certain of the sect of the
y As before, Art. xv. Many have mistaken those words, as if they were St. Luke's, who observed, that there were at Jerusalem some of the sect of the pharisees, who insisted upon imposing the law upon the gentiles. So thought Dr. Doddridge, Family Expositor, Vol. III. p. 233. So likewise Tillemont, whose words are these: Ils furent bien reçus à Jerusalem. Mais ils y trouverent les mêmes troubles, qui agitoient l'église d' Antioche, et dont ils venoient chercher le remède. Car quelques chrétiens, qui avoient été pharisiens, vouloient qu'on obligeat les gentilis à la circumcision, et à l'ob
pharisees, which believed, saying, that it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law." Thus they delivered their message, and proposed the question, which they were desirous to have determined.
"And the apostles and elders came together to consider of this matter." Having in that assembly, after many debates, formed some resolutions, they sent them in a letter "to the brethren, which are of the gentiles, in Antioch, and Syria, and Cilicia," ver. 6-31.
Those determinations were intended for all believers in general from among the gentiles, containing, as it were, the terms upon which all gentiles were to be admitted into the church of Christ. But the epistle was directed, particularly, to the gentiles in Antioch, and Syria, and Cilicia, because among them the controversy had arisen, and they were the persons who had sent a solemn deputation to the apostles and elders at Jerusalem, to have their opinion upon it.
This journey to Jerusalem, related by St. Luke, Acts xv. I suppose to be the same with that mentioned by St. Paul himself, of which he gives an account to the Galatians, ch. ii.. 1-10. Indeed, he mentious some circumstances, wanting in Luke, but, as I apprehend, they are not such as need induce us to think two different journies to be spoken of.
From Paul therefore, we shall endeavour to find out the time of it." Then fourteen years after," says he, "I went up again to Jerusalem, with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. And I went up by revelation." In the preceding chapter of the epistle to the Galatians, Paul had related his conversion in the way to Damascus, and then his "going up to Jerusalem, after three years, to see Peter, and abiding with him fifteen days," ch. i. 18. Where are we to date servation de la loi. S. Paul. art. xvi. Grotius himself seems to have understood these words in the same manner. Sicut Antiochiæ quidam e Judæis facti christiani, ita et Hierosolymis quidam duriorem illam defendebant sententiam. Grot. in ver. 5. Whereas, upon due consideration, I think, all must be sensible, that they are not the words of the historian, but of the messengers of the church of Antioch, representing to the apostles and elders at Jerusalem the case, or state of the question, about which they were sent, and which they desired to have now fully resolved, and determined. This is the interpretation which Beza preferred. Hunc locum video omnes perinde interpretari, ac si essent verba Lucæ, quasi cum suam expeditionem narrarent Paulus ac Barnabas, insurrexerint, qui circumcisionem urgerent. Quod mihi non fit admodum probabile; sed potius illos, expositâ suâ expeditione, subjecisse controversiam illam Antiochiæ excitatam, cujus caussâ ipsi Hierosolymam venerant. Puto igitur, esse illorum verba, non Lucæ. Bez. in loc. L'Enfant follows Beza. And Whitby, if I do not mistake him, gives the same interpretation. And Dr. Doddridge, upon my telling him how I understood the place, readily acquiesced, as I well remember: for he was always open to conviction, therein giving a good example to all inquirers after truth.