Acts: Bible Studies 1931


Extracted from “Young Men’s Corner”, Twelfth Series – 1931

This was a monthly magazine which gathered viewpoints on set Bible subjects, from study groups. The magazine was succeeded by “Bible Studies” magazine operating on similar lines, and this continues to be published and is available from Hayes Press (Hayes Press)

Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, examining the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11).


Study Portion & Subject Heading:
Acts 1:1—26. The Forty Days
Acts 2:1—47. Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit, and what follows
Acts 3:1—4:31. The lame man healed, but Israel despised the power of the Name
Acts 4:32—5:11. Barnabas gives, to be rich; Ananias and Sapphira covet, lie, and lose all
Acts 5:12—42. Multitudes added, the Apostles interdicted, and Gamaliel’s advice
Acts 6:1—7:60. Stephen, a fellow servant, and also a witness of Jesus Christ
Acts 8:1—40. Saul’s persecution, and Philip’s preaching
Acts 9:1—31. Saul’s conversion, and his experience at Damascus and Jerusalem
Acts 9:32—10:48. The work of Peter, and the Door opened to the Gentiles
Acts 11:1—18. Peter’s reply to the Circumcision
Acts 11:19—30. The scattering abroad and the work at Antioch
Acts 12:1—23. Herod, Satan’s tool, and his end
Acts 12:24—Acts 13:52 Antioch: and the sending forth of Barnabas and Saul
Acts 14:1—28. The first journey and the return to Antioch
Acts 15:1—16:5. The question of circumcision: Paul and Barnabas parted; Silas and Timothy join Paul
Acts 16:6—Acts 17:34 Paul and his company reach Europe—Philippi, Thessalonica, Beroea, Athens
Acts 18:1—28. Paul at Corinth and Ephesus, and his return to Antioch
Acts 19:1—41. Paul’s great work at Ephesus
Acts 20:1—38. Through Macedonia and Greece, and at Troas and Miletus
Acts 21:1—40. Paul’s journey to, and arrival at, Jerusalem
Acts 22:1—23:35. Paul’s defence in Jerusalem and its consequences
Acts 24:1—26:32 Before Felix, Festus and King Agrippa
Acts 27:1—44. Paul’s journey to Rome, and the shipwreck
Acts 28:1—31 Paul in Melita, and his arrival and abode in Rome



Both the “Acts of the Apostles,” and the third Gospel (in order), are anonymous, but it would appear reasonable to deduce that the author of both books was one and the same person, from the following reasons:—
1. Both are addressed to the same person.
2. The former (i.e., the Gospel) is mentioned in the second treatise (i.e., “The Acts of the Apostles”) as emanating from the same writer.
3. Those who can judge state that the two works resemble one another in style and language.
This is not altogether conclusive that Luke was the Author, for his name does not appear in either record, but from an internal examination of the “Acts” (Acts 16:10-17 and Acts 21:1-8, etc.), where the record shows that the writer associates himself with the Apostle Paul in the pronoun ” we,” and from Col.4:14 (written from a Roman prison about A.D:65) and later, from 2 Tim.4:11, it seems probable that the writer of the ” Acts of the Apostles ” was the beloved physician, Luke, fellow-companion to the Apostle Paul.
The period covered by our present study is from the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ (about A.D:33) till two years after the arrival of Paul in Rome (about A.D:65)—a comparatively short period of time, but one filled with important events for the children of God in this dispensation.
The ” former treatise ” dealt with the beginning of the deeds and words of our Lord Jesus Christ; this treatise also deals with beginnings. It is, therefore, important that the first principles and patterns be also ” accurately traced,” and studied. We are early introduced to the risen Master, Himself, and to the subject of His discourses with the Apostles during His sojourn of 40 days. This important theme—things concerning the Kingdom of God—and the course, marked out by Himself for the publication of the Gospel, form the basis or framework of the ensuing record.
The deeds and words of two great men—Peter and Paul— dominate the following pages, but behind all is seen the powerful working of the blessed Holy Spirit.
The account of the Apostle Paul’s work in the various churches, during his travels, affords a most valuable background for a fuller understanding of the Epistles which were later written to these churches (although the author of the ” Acts ” makes no reference to any of these letters). Undoubtedly the account bears the stamp of Divine origin, in the signs and miracles and wonders, and though we need seek no further proof of its truthfulness and genuineness, we find reference to contemporary events, men and customs, allusions to and descriptions of well-known places, verbatim reports of speeches, all varying in style and matter, accurate and exact according to profane historical records.
The magnitude of the work performed in spreading the word of life, from such humble beginnings, during the thirty odd years with which the record deals, staggers the mind, but also demonstrates what can be done under the Holy Spirit’s guidance and power.

The Forty Days

-ACTS 1:1-26


—Luke, the writer of the Acts, was referred to by Paul in Col.4:14 as the beloved physician; he companied with the Apostle, and probably was with him to the last.
In Luke’s Gospel Theophilus was addressed as ” most excellent,” but not so in this treatise. It was suggested that Theophilus might have been, when first addressed, an official of high standing entitled to such a deferential greeting, but that by the time the ” Acts ” is w-ritten he may have ceased to occupy such a position. Alternatively it was thought that the friendship between Luke and Theophilus had so developed that intimacy justified a more familiar address.
We read that Jesus showed Himself alive by man}’ proofs, during forty days. 1 Cor.15:6 tells us that on one occasion He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once.
There are two well-defined lines of testimony throughout this book—testimony to Jesus as the Christ, and testimony to the things concerning the Kingdom of God. The disciples’ question in verse 6 shows that they had hardly, up to this time, discerned the nature of the Kingdom; it was not until after Pentecost that they learned that Kingdom-truth meant for them reviling, afflictions, buffetings, stripes, imprisonment, and In the Holy Spirit thanked God that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the Name.
The main element in their testimony to Jesus Christ as Lord was contained in the word of the Commission; “All authority hath been given unto me…Go ye therefore…and make disciples, baptising them…and teaching them” (Matt28:18-20).
On the day of the Lord’s resurrection He said to Mary, “Touch Me not, for I am not yet ascended unto My Father.” Later He said “…handle Me…” Evidently between the two occasions He has ascended; time and space no longer governed Him but were, so it seems, annihilated. [Note how closely related as to time Jn 20:17 is with Matt.28:9. In the former He said, “Touch Me not,” whereas in the latter “they came and took hold of His feet.” May there not be some other reason for the Lord’s words in John than the reason our friends suggest?—J.M.].
How very wrong it is for any to fix dates for the accomplishment of prophecy, seeing the Father hath set such within His own authority!
Those who saw Him go were left without a shadow of a doubt that the very One they had known and loved on earth had returned to heaven as a Man.
We observed that Mary, the mother of Jesus, knelt in company with the others, and is not otherwise prominent, so that no sanction is given to Mariolatry.

—In this portion of Scripture we have convincing evidence of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, in that He was with them for 40 days, “speaking the things concerning the kingdom of God.” The Lord appeared first to Mary Magdalene (Jn 20:16). That same day the Lord appeared to others. Paul, in 1 Cor.15., does not mention women, but says the Lord ” appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve, then to over five hundred brethren at once,” and so forth. According to Mk.16:14, and Lk.24:33, only eleven are mentioned; in Jn 20:24, Thomas was missing. In Acts 1:26 Matthias was chosen to fill the place of Judas. As Thomas was missing on that occasion, could we say that Matthias must have been there? [I presume Matthias was present, but if not, he was there eight days afterwards when Thomas was present, when, I would judge, the Lord appeared to the twelve.—J.M.],
Verse 8: ” When the Holy Spirit is come upon you “; how does this compare with Jn 20:22, ” Receive ye the Holy Spirit “? We found a difficulty here. [Note the force of Acts 1:5,8. ” Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence,” and ” Ye shall receive power when the Holy Spirit is come upon you.” Also Jn 7:39: ” The Spirit was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified.” Whatever was effected by the Lord breathing upon the disciples, the fulfilment of His words—” Receive ye the Holy Spirit “—did not take place until the day of Pentecost.—J.M.].
It is interesting to see that they spent the time between the resurrection and the receiving of the Holy Spirit in prayer.
Peter now stands up and we see how that he quotes the Scripture so that, in seeking to fill the place of Judas, he is careful to say, ” Of the men therefore which have companied with us . . . from the baptism of John, unto the day that He was received up from us.” So Matthias is chosen. The question was asked, were they right in choosing one to fill the place of Judas? Could we say that Paul recognises Matthias as he speaks of “the twelve? ” We have the word here saying, ” and he was numbered with the eleven.” [The apostles act according to the Lord’s commands in the Psalms. Note the difference between his “habitation” and his “office.” The office must be filled, but the habitation left desolate. The one to fill the office must be of the same kind as themselves—one who companied with them from the beginning, while the Lord w-as with them—and also, he must be a witness of the Lord’s resurrection. Note the force of Acts 10:41. Paul was not one of the twelve. He was an apostle of Gentiles.—J .M.]. J. KING.

—During the appearings of the Lord after His passion, during the forty days, He spake things concerning the Kingdom of God. And we do well to remember at this point that He had before said of Israel as a nation, ” The Kingdom of God shall be taken away from you, and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof ” (Matt.21:43). Ere carrying out the commandment of Matt.28:19 and 20, He charges them to await at Jerusalem till they receive the promise of the Father. In contrast to John’s Baptism in water, He said that they would be baptised in the Holy Spirit, at whose coming we are told that ” a sound . . . filled all the house where they were sitting . . . and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit ” (Acts 2:1-4). In Luke’s Gospel the Lord speaks of this Baptism as ” being clothed with power from on high ” (Lk.24:49). We learn from John’s Gospel that, before receiving this power, it was expedient that the Lord should go away, for, said He, “If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you.” The thought expressed in Lk.24.—” We hoped that it was He which should redeem Israel “—is still cherished by the Apostles when they ask the question, ” Lord, dost thou at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel? ” No detailed information is given, but the Lord briefly answers the question in the words, “It is not for you to know times or seasons, which the Father hath appointed by His own authority ” (marginal note). Prior to His ascension, He makes known to them the extent of their witnessing for Him as beginning at Jerusalem, through all Judaea and Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the earth. Having said these things He was taken up and a cloud received Him out of their sight, leaving them stedfastly beholding His ascension. In returning to Jerusalem and meeting in an upper chamber, the apostles, with the women, and the brethren of the Lord, were found continuing stedfastly in prayer in their Lord’s absence; an attitude that should never be lacking in our lives.
Peter, from the Psalms, saw the necessity of appointing another to take the place of Judas to become a witness with them of the Lord’s resurrection, the choice to be confined to those who had companied with them all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among them. Two are put forward and prayer is resorted to, asking the Lord to show His choice. Casting lots, they left it entirely to God to direct the election and the lot fell upon Matthias. W. Y., A. T.

—The Book of the Acts is the divine record of the events which followed the resurrection and ascension of our Lord; it is a record of the things done by the Holy Spirit through the Apostles, chiefly Peter and Paul, and gives us the history of the formation of the first Church of God and subsequent Churches of God.
Luke the beloved physician addresses it to Theophilus. He was also the writer of the Gospel-which bears his name, which he tells us in the first verse was concerning all that Jesus began to do and to teach, until the day in which He was received up. We were struck with the words ” To do ” and ” To teach.” What an example He has left us!
What a forty days for the apostles! It caused a revolution in their outlook. The One whom they had thought dead, now shows Himself alive by many proofs. 1 Cor.15:1—8 and many other scriptures prove these appearances.
The Lord speaks, and instructs them in the things concerning the Kingdom of God. The term Kingdom of God is mentioned 33 times in the book and ends with Paul, in Rome, preaching the Kingdom of God and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ.
” And being assembled together with them”, He charges them to wait for the promise of the Father. This had its fulfilment on the day of Pentecost, and now, too, each soul that is born again is baptised into the Body of Christ. Many hold to-day this is a distinct act and follows the new birth. [It should be clear to any ordinary reader of the Scriptures that baptism in the Spirit, pouring, coming upon, dwelling in, sealing and drinking of, are all phases of one and the same thing, namely, the giving of the Holy Spirit. If a person who believes is not baptised in the Holy Spirit at the time of new birth, neither is such a one a member of Christ, and one must be greatly perverted to allege that a person can be a child of God yet not a member of Christ. A careful consideration of the man)’ passages (with the aid of a concordance) will lead to one conclusion—that each believer is baptized in the Holy Spirit and that it is not a second giving of the Spirit, or second blessing.—J.M.]

” They therefore when they were come together ” (this looks different from being assembled together; it is evidently an appointment) ask a question, Lord dost Thou at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel? After all His teaching regarding the Kingdom of God, their minds evidently w-ere limited to the Kingdom of Israel. His answer to this is for us, as well as them; it is not for us to know times and seasons which the Father has set within His own authority. Their business, like ours, was to be witnesses of the fact of that wonderful life, death, resurrection, and ascension; they were to begin at Jerusalem (where He was crucified) and to witness in Judaea, Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth, and this was the divine order in which it was carried out.
We next have the manner of His ascension—a cloud received Him out of their sight—and the promise and manner of His coming again (1 Thess.4., Rev.1.).
The chapter ends with the appointment of a successor to Judas; his qualification is given in Acts 1:21-22. Was the method employed by the apostles of themselves, or ordered by God? in Acts 1:24 they prayed about the matter.; The casting of lots may be a mere gamble, as with the soldiers when they gambled over the Lord’s vesture, or it may be a revelation of the will of God. The land of Israel was divided by lot, see Num.33:54, etc., and Prov.16:33 says, ” The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.” The apostles were using quite a lawful method.—J.M.].
B. W.

—The book centres primarily around the servants of the Resurrected One. If (as we assumed) the writer be Luke, the beloved physician (Col.4:14), the faithful attendant of Paul, then he was certainly a competent man for such a work, for he accompanied the Apostle in many trying circumstances (Acts 16, Acts 20, Acts 21, Acts 28), and the nature of his training eminently fitted him to trace the course of all things accurately from the first (Lk.1:3). The writer is exceptionally conversant with the Jewish atmosphere that pervades the early period.
Those who had continued with the Lord in His trials were stunned to see Him fall apparently a victim to death, but the spirit of heaviness disappeared when He appeared after His resurrection during the forty days, speaking to them ” of the things concerning the Kingdom of God.” As we, in spirit, associate ourselves with them, we feel certain that the flickering flame within their hearts of an earthly kingdom and all-powerful sovereignty, burst once again into a consuming fire. How swiftly events passed, as during the remaining ten days they awaited the ” power ” from on high! In what manner or form would this “power” be manifested? Had they grasped sufficiently the character of the teaching of the Lord as exemplified in His life and death, ” My Kingdom is not of this world ” (Jn 18:36). Soon the Kingdom of God would be manifested in “power” (Acts 2.; Mk.9:1), and His witnesses would testify to an exalted Messiah, whom ” the heavens must receive until the times of restoration of all things.” As before, the rulers rejected the testimony. Israel had a three-fold testimony, all of which they rejected:
(a) In John’s ministry—A Coming Messiah.
(b) The Lord’s ministry—A present Messiah.
(c) Apostles’ ministry—An Exalted Messiah.
The outworking of the Kingdom would be the same whatever reception Israel gave. The Lord reveals this when answering the question, “Dost Thou at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?” He could have stated the course of all events to the consummation of the age, but this lay within the authority of the Father. Their mission was (1) to appoint a fellow-apostle so as to complete the testimony to Israel and the world; (2) to wait for power at the divinely-appointed centre; (3) to be witnesses in this centre, also in Judaea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth.
The remaining ten days were not idly spent. Returning from Olivet, after watching the ascending Lord (whose feet shall again touch this chosen spot), they enter the upper room and continue in prayer, with one accord, with the mother of Jesus and her sons—in all, number¬ ing 120 names, which is suggestive of orderly enrolment. We are inclined to oppose the idea put forward that the ” eleven ” hastily and erroneously appointed Matthias, and the appeal to the Scriptures in this chapter for what they did confirms the opinion that the twelve apostles that shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes, will include Matthias and not Paul, who ministered to the uncircumcised. Acts 2:14 seemingly confirms this view.

—The former treatise here referred to is obviously Luke’s Gospel, and is written to a man there addressed as ” Most Excellent Theophilus.” The name and the qualifying adjective indicate that he was a Greek and also a man of high social or official standing. Luke now writes of what the Apostles did and taught.
In this God-breathed narrative this fact that the Lord ” was taken up ” is witnessed to with a uniformity and consistency that is remarkable. Read where you will this fact dominates all else. This knowledge was sufficient to inspire hope and faith in these men. During forty days, the Lord appeared to them, and in these appearances there were infallible proofs that He was living.
We next discussed the death of Judas and the seeming contradiction of Matt.27 and Acts 1. In tells of Judas hanging himself (prior, we judge, to the death of the Lord Jesus), and of the temple authorities buying the potter’s field with those 30 pieces of silver which Judas left with them, whereas in Acts 1. it tells of ” this man ” (was this Judas or some other?) obtained a field with the reward of iniquity, and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the middle, and all his bowels gushed out. The Scripture must be fulfilled: “Let his habitation be made desolate, and let no man dwell therein.” Evidently this scripture involves more than Judas himself; “Let no man” suggests to us this possibility, but we did not come to any agreement. (Could help be given?) [Often in the Scriptures we find a part of an incident told in one place, then God sees fit to relate something more elsewhere. This is so in the case of Judas. Note how Acts 1:18-19 are in parenthesis. “This man” is beyond question Judas. Matthew says that he hanged himself, that is part of the picture; Luke says that he fell headlong and in so doing he burst asunder in the midst. Both statements are true, but we may not even be able to conceive a true picture of the sad suicide of Judas. The thirty pieces of silver belonged to Judas and whatever the chief priests do with it, what is bought is his. They bought the potter’s field, Matthew tells us, but Luke says that Judas ” obtained ” it with the reward of his iniquity; he acquired a field through their purchase. The field is the price of blood and is called ” Akeldama.”—J.M.],
The remainder of this section deals with the selection of the one to take the place of Judas, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and at this point we wanted to know who did the appointing. Was it the 120 or was it the eleven? It was finally agreed that it was the eleven, and although we were of one mind on the point it was not clearly shown why the 120 did not take part in the appointing or choosing. What objection would there be? We were glad to note that not only Mary the mother of the Lord Jesus, but also His brethren, are now numbered with the 120. [Neither the eleven nor the hundred and twenty did any appoint¬ing. Two men were put forward, who had companied with the Lord and His apostles from the beginning, and from these one was chosen by lot.—J.M.].

—A comparison of Acts 1. with the first and last chapters of the Gospel attributed to Luke clearly indicates that Luke wrote both. ” Luke,” was the ” former treatise,” and ” Acts ” is ” the latter,” of those things which the Lord continued ” to do and to teach ” after He was taken up, through the Holy Spirit working in the disciples. We notice in Lk.24:46-53, that the Lord called them His ” witnesses,” but instructed them to tarry at Jerusalem till they ” were clothed with power from on high.” Luke lets the curtain fall with us viewing them ” continuing in the temple, praising and blessing God.” Then in Acts 1:14 the curtain is lifted again and we see the hundred and twenty ” continuing in prayer,” and waiting the coming of the Comforter.
Although the Lord did not show Himself to the world after His resurrection, He showed Himself alive to His apostles by ” many infallible proofs.” The Risen Lord bore the very marks of the nail-prints in His hands and feet, and the wound of the spear in His side. He also ate with His own—and in this same body He ascended to the Father.
In this chapter we have recorded the sad end of the betrayer of the Lord, and at first sight the narrative here seems to differ slightly from the account by Matthew. The potter’s field was then bought by the chief priests for the burial of strangers. While the chief priests gave the thirty pieces of silver for the potter’s field, it was Judas that actually obtained it with the price of his iniquity.
Help is asked on the subject of the Kingdom, particularly as to
1. The difference between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven.
2. The dispensation of each.
3. Is the House of God synonymous with the Kingdom of God?
4. Are there any in the Kingdom of God who are not in the House of God? W. W.
[Our Derby friends touch upon very large subjects, and we would ask any of our readers who could give help in brief papers to send such along, and we shall consider whether they would be suitable for publication.—EDS
FROM LONDON, S.E.—The book which we now commence to study is of supreme importance to us. It deals with the world-wide effect of the Lord’s coming to earth in humiliation, the early history of the Church, and the commencement of this dispensation of God’s grace.
The book opens with that great event—the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was the wave sheaf of first fruits (Lev.23:10-11, 1 Cor.15:20), the token of a harvest that was to be. By many infallible proofs, the Lord showed Himself to be alive, after His passion. He appeared to the apostles and could be handled and seen. He ate with them. At one time He appeared to over 500 brethren. Repeatedly the Lord had spoken with the disciples, and for forty days was teaching them things concerning the Kingdom of God.
Consequent upon the resurrection and ascension we have the promise of His coming again (verse 11), for Christ must yet reign as Ruler of the kings of the earth. This hope fired the early disciples with zeal, and it has not lost its power. Day by day we expect the fulfilment of this promise.
The Lord had no doubt taught the disciples how Ps.69. and Ps.109. spoke of Himself, and how they were fulfilled. Peter, linking them together, understands the will of God concerning the place vacated by Judas Iscariot. By the united action of all present, in seeking the will of God, Matthias is chosen.
A company of believers was already gathered together, and we suggest from verse 15 that they were enrolled in an orderly manner, and were carrying out the teaching of the Lord.
H. J. M.

—Was it possible for Luke to speak of all that the Lord Jesus did or taught? John gives us to understand that if they were written every one even the world itself would not contain the books (Jn 21:25). It was thought to mean that he touched upon the principal parts in the life of the Lord Jesus. [John is undoubtedly right as to the volume of the Lord’s doings, to write all from first to last would have been a super-human task, both to write and to read. Luke only claims to write in part—” concerning all that Jesus began to do and to teach,” as John only writes a part leaving out many other things of which he had persona] knowledge.—J.M.]
He spent His last forty days with His disciples instructing them in the Kingdom of God; it stirred up in their hearts the thought that He was about to restore the Kingdom to Israel. How gently He deals with them, when He says, ” It is not for you to know times or seasons, which the Father hath set within His own authority.” They were to be occupied with being witnesses for Him. Does it concern us, does it occupy our hearts, as to how we bear witness for Him?
They leave the scene of His being taken up to heaven and return to the upper room and spend the time in prayer ere they deal with the filling of Judas’ place.
What a sad picture Peter gives in his Words about Judas, who was guide to those who took the Lord Jesus!
Some difficulty was found in what Peter says about Judas in verse 16. It was thought that though written in Ps.109. it never took away from Judas the chance of repentance, but God knew the end from the beginning. He knew the pathway Judas would tread. With God there is no future; it is one eternal ” now.”
The Lord Jesus in Jn 13:11, referring to His disciples, says, Ye are not all clean. It shows out the heart of the Lord Jesus in companying with one who had not known cleansing from his sin.
R. B.

—It is perfectly clear that Luke, who wrote the Gospel bearing his name, was the writer of the Acts of the Apostles. In the former, he relates things accurately and in order, and with similar accuracy he writes of the events from the Lord’s ascension forward. In the closing portion of the Apostle Paul’s life he said, ” Only Luke is with me.” From his lengthy experience with the apostle he would be thoroughly conversant with the things which he records. Luke’s salutation, ” most excellent Theophilus “, would suggest that this was no ordinary person in the social scale to whom he writes.
In verse 3 we see that the Lord Jesus appeared unto the apostles (whom He had chosen) during the forty days, for two specific reasons:—
(1) As proof of His resurrection.
(2) Speaking the things concerning the Kingdom of God. Although not mentioned in 1 Cor.15:5-8, it is clear from
Mk.16:9 that he appeared first to Mary Magdalene. Let us note her words of assurance to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord.” She had heard Him speak, and she had seen Him, and there was no trace of doubt as to His identity.
Then the Lord Jesus appeared to the twelve when Thomas was present (Jn 20.). Did Thomas touch those wound prints? we think not; the very sight of the Lord, and the hearing of that familiar voice, reached the heart of Thomas, and caused him to exclaim, ” My Lord and My God! ”
These are two of the proofs referred to in Acts 1:3, to which others may be added.
The Lord Jesus gave the promise to the disciples that when He left them He would send the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:16-17); in fact, He said that it was imperative that He should go away, or the Comforter could not come, and when He breathed on them He renewed His promise ” Receive ye the Holy Spirit ” (Jn 20:22), but they were to abide in Jerusalem until they received the promise of the Father; the descent of the Holy Spirit took place fifty days after the resurrection, that is, at Pentecost.
The disciples were very anxious about the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel. It is plain that there are seasons and times which God reserves within His own authority; things which even angels do not know, and things which the Lord Jesus knew, but which as the Son of Man, it was not within His authority to disclose. [It is of more than passing interest to notice here that the Lord docs not use the word ” God,” nor yet ” My Father,” but ” the Father,” and He says that ” times and seasons ” are within the Father’s authority. While the Lord is truly and fully God and omniscient, yet He speaks of the Father’s authority- He does not disclose whether He knows; He only says that it is not for the disciples to know. In Matt.24. we have the Father’s knowledge again emphasised.—J.M.].
In Lk.24:50 we read that He led them out over against Bethany. What a sight for those men of Galilee as they beheld the Lord going into heaven! As we think of this glorious sight, we remember the words of Ps.24. giving us in prophecy the kind of greeting He received in heaven: “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors: and the King of glory shall come in.”
Acts 1:14 bespeaks the noble character of those early disciples; both men and women were together in prayer, which apparently lasted for ten days—from the ascension to Pentecost. But the apostle in 1 Cor.15. refers to the Lord’s appearance in resurrection to above 500 brethren at once, and we wondered (seeing that only 120 are together) as to where they could be. They were not deceased, as when the apostle wrote he said, “Of whom the greater part remain until now.” [Who can say when we are not told where the 380 were? They were alive, for but a few days before they had together seen the Lord. There were about 120 names together, and that meant much to be reckoned together by name, not a promiscuous multitude come together by chance, but persons who belonged to a definite company, who were together in obedience to the Lord’s command.—J.M.]
The one hundred and twenty referred to represents the collective testimony for God upon the earth in early apostolic days, and now it has pleased God to raise up a testimony in this dark and declining “lay; this is the wondrous working of God. Great day indeed!
G. H. C, W. C.

—The opening verses of the Acts of the Apostles deal mainly with what took place during the 40 days in which the Lord Jesus, after His resurrection, appeared unto the apostles, speaking the things concerning the Kingdom of God. Forty, in scripture, speaks of preparation or trial. The 40 years which Moses spent in Midian, the 40 days’ journey of Elijah to Horeb, and the 40 days and 40 nights of the Lord’s temptation in the wilderness, were all times of preparation. During this period of preparation, the apostles had to do two things, they had to hear and to think. The Lord Jesus began both to do and to teach, but for them the order is reversed. They were to be taught, and then when they had received power, they were to do.
The Kingdom of God was foremost in the Lord’s teaching during the course of His earthly ministry, and in a world in which the Adversary held sway, God was establishing His Kingdom in the hearts of those who would believe on Him and become His disciples! This far outshone the restoring of the Kingdom to Israel.
The Lord was not with the disciples continually during these 40 days, but appeared, as described by the four Gospel writers, and by Paul in 1 Cor.15:5.
Verse 4 would seem to suggest that one of His appearings was on a Lord’s day, the first of the week, when they were assembled together evidently for a specific purpose, and He ate with them. [Do our friends suggest that He shared in the remembrance feast?—J.M.]. There was, even then, the obligation on them to remember the Lord in the loaf and the cup, and it seems significant that the Lord should be eating with them when they were thus assembled, seeing that in His glorified body He had no need to eat or drink. [His eating and drinking with the disciples was one of the proofs of His resurrection, but as to what a glorified body needs—that is a mystery to us now.—J.M.].
The Lord is speaking here as the One who has all authority in heaven and on earth, yet He speaks of times and seasons which the Father hath set in His own authority, as He did in Matt.24:36 concerning His second coming as Son of Man. Why is this? [See note in paper from Atherton and Leigh.—J.M.].
The manner of His ascension will be the manner of His return, when He comes again as Son of Man to where He left them on Mount Olivet (Zech.14:4).
The action of Peter in the matter of the appointment of an apostle to take the place of Judas, was discussed, and the following points bearing on the question of whether he was fully justified in then acting as he did, are submitted:—
1. Peter avers that, of those which have accompanied the apostles, one must become a witness of the resurrection. An apostle is one that is called, appointed, and sent forth by the Lord Jesus Christ, according to the will of God, rather than a witness of the resurrection, in whose appointment man had part. Verse 2 significantly refers to the apostles whom the Lord had chosen. One chosen by lot is not one that is sent forth.
2. We are not told whether the Lord did or did not direct Peter to do this (although his attention might have been directed to it in the Messianic Psalms, as the Lord interpreted to them in all the Scriptures, the things concerning Himself). Further, there was sufficient time for the Lord Himself to have made the appointment if He had so desired in the 40 days. If He had wished to chose an apostle He could have done so Himself and not left it to the Apostles. It is hardly conceivable that the Lord would tell them to chose an apostle in the way they did. It was a case of either one or the other, without a further alternative of ” neither.”
3. It might have been the result of a well-known characteristic of Peter, to have taken action in this matter before he and others had received power (or might) and were filled with the Holy Spirit.
4. The Psalms quoted were of a general application, referring in the plural to those who persecuted the righteous, although it is evident that the case of Judas fitted such scriptures exactly.
5. The subsequent apostleship of Paul seems to abrogate the appointment of Matthias. Paul’s history leaves no one in doubt as to his apostleship.
6. In Rev.21:14 we read of the twelve foundations of the new Jerusalem, and on them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. This is suggestive of a limit to the number of the apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ.
7. The apostle Paul refers to himself as one born out of due time, whose special ministry was that of an apostle to the Gentiles. Further, he makes a very significant statement in 1 Cor.15:5 that the Lord appeared to Cephas. and then to the twelve. This suggests that Matthias, though not officially appointed until after the Lord’s ascension, was present with the eleven when the Lord appeared to them, being recognised in advance by the Holy Spirit, as one of the twelve.
[A full consideration of the matter of the election of Matthias must undoubtedly take cognizance of the points brought out by our friends; a much more complete list of relevant arguments would at least include the following:—
8. The ” lot ” was used in Israel continually to acquire the mind of God; as, for instance, on the day of Atonement, ” Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for Azazel.” Then Solomon says of the lot, ” The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty.” Then the land of Israel was obtained by the tribes through the lot cast in Shiloh and ever after the thought of inheritance is based on the idea of the lot. Even in the Greek word for inheritance in the New Testament we find the word Kleros — lot. Israel of old are described as ” the lot of His inheritance ” (Deut.32:9), and in the New Testament the people are called ” God’s heritage ” (1 Pet.5:3 AV). We need not multiply examples. The use of (say) Young’s Concordance will assist our friends.
9. Note that the RV marg. for ” portion .. in Acts 1:17 is given as ” lot,” which is the literal translation of the word. Judas lost his lot which he obtained by Divine revelation, after the Lord had spent all night in prayer (see Lk.6:12-16). In the case of Matthias the Lord’s mind is revealed by the actual casting of lots.
10. It would seem that the prime consideration in the whole matter is the fact that they were acting on the word in the Psalms—” His office let another take.”
Considering all these I am of the opinion that those numbered 6 to 10 are of greater weight, and that consequently the election of Matthias was lawful.—J.M.].
Whatever view may be taken of the action of Peter, we have at the outset of the Acts of the Apostles, the fulfilment of the Scriptures as a point of first importance; indeed, throughout the Acts, the Holy-Spirit continually points to Scriptures as having their fulfilment in the Lord Jesus Christ, or as applying to prevailing or future conditions.

—The Gospel according to Luke, and the Acts of the Apostles, are two books of one continuous history by the same author. While the Gospel contains much of the history of the Master’s ministry, the Acts of the Apostles relates what he did through the ministry of His chosen witnesses, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ is the point of contact between the two books. What precious truths concerning the Kingdom of God must have fallen from the lips of Him who spake as never man spake! He charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to await (Lk.24:49-50), the promise of the Father (Jn 14:26). We were caused to think of the words of His disciples, “Lord, dost thou at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel? ” (Acts 1:6). But times and seasons are in the Father’s hand. Still it is quite lawful for a child of God to observe the signs of the times to be ready and watching for the coming of the Lord. ” Blessed arc those servants whom the Lord when He cometh shall find watching.” Their specific work was to be His witnesses. Power was soon to be imparted to them through the Holy Spirit, that they might become vessels to bear His name from Jerusalem and all Judaea. When they were deprived of His presence they returned to Jerusalem, where we find the 120 in the upper room. Here is the nucleus of all that is to follow. What perseverance is seen in the prayers, ” continued stedfastly with one accord”! There is a lesson here for us. We, as subjects of the One whom God hath made both Lord and Christ, should contend earnestly for ” The Faith once for all delivered unto the saints.” Peter had a knowledge of the prophetic word concerning Judas. It was necessary that another should take his apostleship, and the giving of the lot would seem to be according to the Scriptures under the prayerful guidance of God (Prov.16:33). It fell to Matthias, who was a witness of the life-work and resurrection of the Lord.
N. Sproul, J. GIBSON.

The commandments of Acts 1:2 (AV) we judge to be the great Commission from the Risen Lord in Matt.28:18-20, and also the command in Acts 1:4 to wait for the promise of the Father. The appearing to above 500 brethren at one time (1 Cor.15:6) and to His chosen disciple (Jn 20:26-29) are truly-infallible proofs of the resurrection of our Lord. The teaching of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God, during the space of 40 days, had its out-working in Acts 2:41-42. No doubt the hearts of the disciples would be cheered, after His departure, by the words of the two men, ” This Jesus which was received up from you into heaven shall so come in like manner …” When the disciples were together, at the appointed place, Peter stood up and made known that the scripture concerning Judas must needs be fulfilled. We suppose that that with which he was hanged gave way, and he, falling headlong, burst asunder. Matthias was ordained by the Lord to fulfil that part of the ministry, from which Judas had fallen away, and he is numbered with the Apostles.


—In Acts 2. we arrive at a very important development in the work of God, the first preaching of the gospel in this dispensation. Any first preaching is important, how much more so the first preaching of the crucified and exalted Christ!
We felt the significance of the words ” all together in one place ” and recognised that they contained a Divine principle; namely, that throughout this dispensation the great purpose of God is that His people should be together in One Thing, having One Purpose.
The Jews knew the reality of the Place of the Name; and so here we find godly men who had a love for God and a regard for His things, up at Jerusalem for the feast. Hearing the wondrous sound heralding the Spirit’s coming, they gathered to the scene and were all amazed to hear the disciples speaking the mighty works of God in the several tongues represented by their hearers. [The RV, I am inclined to believe, is somewhat misleading here. Did the multitudes hear the sound as of the rushing wind? 1 think not. What they heard was the report that was noised abroad that the Galilean disciples were speaking of the mighty works of God in the languages of the countries from which the dispersed of Israel had come—from every nation under heaven.—J.M.]. It is clear that the great purpose in tongues was for a sign to the unbelieving (1 Cor.14:22). The gifted disciples spoke no gibberish (as is done by many professing the gift of tongues to-day), but spoke a real language, though probably quite ignorant themselves of what they were speaking. [We cannot safely say this. He who gave them vocal powers of enunciation, could give them also mental powers to grasp what they were saying.—J.M.]. The gift of tongues was clearly a sign; Peter, in speaking the message, spoke in one language only, and was understood of all.
Peter in his address weaves into the simple, incontestable, historical facts of the life of the Lord Jesus, the mighty fact that God Himself was working, and fulfilling the Scriptures of the prophets. “Jesus, approved of God, by mighty works . . . which God did by him . . . delivered up . . . by God; whom God raised up . . . This Jesus did God raise up . . . By God exalted . . . and . . . made Lord and Christ.” God wrought first and last, through the life and death, of the One whom they crucified. We understand that the word “by” of Acts 2:33 refers to the action of God in the sense of Eph.1:19, and not to the place at His side, etc.
Acts 2:41-42 contain the basic principles for the people of God to-day.
Since many of the three thousand added were of the countries specified in verses Acts 2:9, etc., it was thought that in most of the cases they must have returned to their own lands and there witnessed for the Lord Jesus, and later found places in the assemblies as such were planted.
It was thought that the selling of the possessions and having all things in common, on the part of the early disciples was not a Divine injunction through the Apostles, but was attributable to the zeal of the converts. [And was in keeping with the Scriptures: need requires to be met, and those who were primarily responsible were their fellow-believers and to this they heartily responded. Other divine arrangements to meet need we find in 1 Cor.16.—J.M.].

—The gift of the Holy Spirit, as sent from the Eternal Father into the very midst of those who had crucified and slain the Beloved Son, is in itself a revelation of God’s unmeasured love to-men.
Like the Incarnation, the descent of the Holy Spirit was unique, and formed part of the plan of the redemption of fallen sinners.
In the past days ofttimes the Spirit of God had come mightily upon individuals, and wrought powers and signs by them. Now disciples of the Lord had the Holy Spirit abiding in them (Jn 14:17). Also it appears that at Pentecost they were baptised by the Lord into the one Body (Acts 1:5, also Acts 11:16). In the case of the Lord Jesus, the Spirit abode upon Him—having found a perfect and lasting resting place, and because of Him, this, in measure, can be realised by His disciples.
The prayer of the Lord Jesus, uttered, we suppose, when men were in the very act of nailing Him to the tree—” Father forgive them “— found an answer especially in Acts 2. Here Peter and his fellows, having convinced their hearers that they in speaking the ” mighty works of God” were not drunken as had been supposed, next proceeded to address the murderers of Jesus of Nazareth. The words were ordered to bring about deep conviction, and accompanying repentance. God might well have destroyed those ” miserable men,” and have given the vineyard to others at once, but no! He makes it essential that “the word of good tidings, preaching peace by Jesus Christ ” should come first to them.
Peter boldly declared how that God had made Him both Lord and Christ (a truth which needs emphatic declaration especially in outdoor testimony to-day), and these final words sank into their hearts. The work of the Holy Spirit is marked with the same quiet majesty which characterised the Lord’s own work. We look at this multitude on the day of Pentecost bowed down with grief, and crying out in despair under His convicting power, and we say, as some had before confessed, ” God has visited His people.”
No doubt many of those who cruelly abused the Saviour and cried, ” Crucify Him,” afterward found a place in the Church at Jerusalem, and called upon the Lord out of pure hearts.
H. B.

—The Lord Jesus had been with the Apostles for 40 days, ” speaking the things concerning the Kingdom of God.” Acts 1:14 would lead us to think that the ensuing 10 days were spent by the disciples, together, waiting upon God in prayer.
In verse 1 we read, ” they were all together.” ” Was this the Apostles only? ” Most thought that this ” all ” would mean the 120. [I judge the latter suggestion to be correct.—J.M.]. Then came the sound ” as of the rushing of a mighty wind, and it filled the house.” Then appeared the ” tongues parting asunder, like as of fire.” How their thoughts would go back to the words of the Lord, ” tarry ye . . . until ye be clothed with power from on high.”
It was thought, that, as there were 15 different peoples mentioned here, more than the Apostles spoke to them. The question was asked, ” Would these tongues be the same gift as those mentioned in Acts 10:46, and 1 Cor.14:22?” [I would say, Yes!.—J.M.].
With regard to Peter’s quotation from Joel, we thought that down to Acts 2:18 is fulfilled here, the rest awaiting a future fulfilment. [The whole quotation will have a future fulfilment. Before the day of the Lord, God will pour out His Spirit again. This scripture is of double fulfilment.—J.M.]. It is remarkable how Peter, quoting from the words of both Joel and David, shows so clearly that God hath made both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom they crucified.
The word through Peter goes home to their hearts, causing them to ask ” What shall we do? ” They are told to repent, and be baptised unto the remission of their sins. This public acknowledgment of their guilt would be necessary on the part of those Jews. The result of it all is that three thousand are saved. When the law was given three thousand died! What a contrast! These saved ones continued in the Apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and in the prayers.
It is interesting to compare Lev.23:15, with this period. Could we look upon the Lord Jesus as the first-fruits—the wave-sheaf— and later, after 50 days, as the new meal offering, baked with leaven? Would the two loaves speak of the ” Fellowship “—Jew and Gentile— in one thing for God upon the earth? [For myself I should view the two wave loaves neither as the Body (as some have done), the heavenly and eternal relationship of God’s saints, nor as being in the Fellowship,, the sphere of earthly responsibility, where we share in holding a sacred trust from our Lord and Master, but simply that as Christ is the wave sheaf of first fruits, so the wave loaves speak of a people taken out as James says, ” for His name,” the fruit of the Lord’s passion and death. As the priest was waving in the temple, presumably before the rent veil, so the Lord was waving His people before His God and. Father on that day of Pentecost.—J.M.]

—We are told how the Holy Spirit descended, His coming being loudly signified by the sound of a rushing mighty wind, and moreover, the evidence of His presence in the disciples was seen externally in the tongues of fire.
Pentecost means fifty, that is fifty days from the resurrection. It is referred to in Ex.23:16 as the Feast of Harvest, and in. Deut.16:10 as the Feast of Weeks.
In verse 5 we read that ” devout men from every nation under heaven ” were dwelling at Jerusalem. We take it that the men here mentioned were either dwellers in Jerusalem, or perchance sojourners at Jerusalem. These men heard the word in their own tongue concerning the mighty works of God. Peter stood up and spake forth unto them, and by placing the true facts before them, he removed their wrong impressions, insomuch that 3,000 believed the word, and were baptised, and were added and continued stedfastly in the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread and the prayers. This followed the ten days of prayer, and one day’s public ministry in the Spirit, the testimony for God increased from 120 to 3,120, with further prospects of additions later.
S. H., W. C.

—Lev.23:16 came to our minds as we read Acts 2., for the word ” Pentecost ” means ” fifty.” For ten days, we suggest, the disciples had patiently and prayerfully (Acts 1:14) awaited the fulfilment of our Lord’s promise in Jn 14:17. Power lies in prayer, as someone said—
We ought to learn from them, and spend more time speaking to our God in prayer. Then would we be filled with the Holy Spirit. Verse 3„ ” Like as of fire “—this we did not quite understand. It was suggested that being filled with the Spirit was conditional, for there is a difference between “being sealed” and “being filled.” To be filled by the Holy Spirit we must first empty ourselves.
Acts 2:6: We would that we were like the apostles and in such a condition, before God, that our fellow-men would be inquiring of us concerning salvation.
Acts 2:17: It was suggested that if we were in a right condition, we should see visions of the Lord Jesus Christ. We thank our God for the vision we had of Him, by faith, on Golgotha’s Cross, and oh that we may see more beauties in Him yet!
Acts 2:41: 3,000 were saved! What fruits! What joy there would be both in heaven and on earth! We pray earnestly to God for our fellowmen to be saved and come to the knowledge of the Truth.
Their having all things common was a special condition for a special occasion. This is not possible to-day, but please see Acts 11:29,30, and our responsibilities towards the poor.

—Banded together in One thing, and sustained by the same hope, these early disciples daily awaited the descent of the promised Holy Spirit. They were up early on the first day of the week, the morning of Pentecost, musing, perhaps, on the glorious triumph of the resurrection, when suddenly, even to the expecting ones, as of a mighty wind borne along, the Holy Spirit came and filled each one; and tongues, parting among them, sat upon each. This wonderful event, unlike the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, was apparent and audible to the outside world of men (Acts 2:33, see and hear). We are slow to paraphrase in our own words what we cannot fully understand, for devout (used of Simeon in Lk.2:25) men were amazed to behold the change in these Galilean fishermen. Their house became the cynosure of the cosmopolitan crowd, then assembled in Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Pentecost. Even at this early period the Jews were scattered abroad, and many born in these places mentioned, would, no doubt, speak the language of the land of their adoption. Thus it was strange to them that each man should hear, in his own language, the message—whatever it was—from untutored men who had never left the borders of Palestine.
There is always the opposing factor—on this occasion, ” the mocker “—when the ” mighty works of God ” are being extolled, but, as ever, his explanation of the mystery was a lie. With much grace, we think, the Apostle Peter, stepping boldly forward, deals with the mockers’ jibe, ere he proceeds to explain from accepted Scripture what was actually happening in their midst. We would think that the scope of the Joel scripture would go even beyond this wonderful event, but perhaps Peter, like others, was expecting an immediate fulfilment of the things prophesied, and was daily awaiting the return of the Messiah.
With a heart-burning appeal to his scattered and perplexed kinsmen, he brings before them, at this susceptible and opportune moment, the life story of “Jesus of Nazareth,” and repeatedly associates with His life, death and resurrection the working of the God of their fathers. (Acts 2:22) ” Hear these words “—powerful weapons indeed, in the hands of those who can use them, but how much more powerful, if it be the Word of God, the Sword of the Spirit! Let us strive to educate ourselves in the handling aright of the word of truth, for the same glorious theme has been committed to us.
[To be continued).


—Peter had most probably heard the Lord Jesus silence His questioners with the self-same Psalm (Matt.22:44-45) that he now uses, with others, in such a conclusive manner as to prove that the patriarch David foresaw the resurrection and ascension of the One, who, though the fruit of his loins according to the flesh, was worthy to be called his Lord and to be the Co-partner of Jehovah’s throne. This Jesus, now the exalted Lord and Christ, was He whom they had crucified and slain! The eloquent message of the Spirit-filled man had gone home, and on every side the conscience-stricken men of Israel’s race were crying out, ” Brethren, what shall we do? ” Their work could not be undone. Oh to realise ourselves, first, the enormity of the crime of the murder of the Lord of life, ere we endeavour to stir up our fellow-men to a similar, needy cry!
Speedily the Holy Spirit fulfilled His promised work of bringing to the Apostles’ remembrance things concerning the Master; and the words spoken to them, in the secret of their own door-barred room (recorded in Lk.24:47), are re-echoed for the needy world to hear, believe and live.
Peter realised, even at that moment (Acts 2:39), that to the Gentiles, also, the message of life was given.
Thus the message of life was spread abroad—men were saved, baptised and added, and so serene were they in their new-found joy, with all over-anxiety for the morrow removed, and with a single heart for God’s treasures, that they willingly shared the paltry things of time and sense with others who were being saved.

—Pentecost was fifty full days after the resurrection and in fulfilment of the Lord’s promise to the disciples the Holy Spirit was given. Not only as the Comforter but as the Helper was His presence and power necessary to the fulfilment of their charge, from the lips of the Lord Himself.
Thus, endued with power from on high, they were now able to engage in the work of making disciples as the Lord commanded. Their language and speech was understood by every race that was then in Jerusalem, and so powerful and effective were their words that men were amazed. God began to deal with a people that had rejected His Son and refused to accept Him as the One sent from Himself. Thus Peter addresses very plainly those Jews concerning their deed. They are the ones who refused the Saviour and crucified Him, and yet He was the Messiah.
Thus began those witnesses to tell Him out, to show the way of salvation for the guilty. It is recorded of them that with great power gave they their witness of the resurrection of the Christ. Peter’s address brings response at once: ” Brethren, what shall we do?” They could only do what they should have done firstly, when their Messiah was among them, repent, receive, and obey Him.
The making of disciples was carried out in accordance with the instructions given them by the Lord during the forty days that He went in and out among them. They formed the Church of God in Jerusalem and from them sounded out the Gospel throughout the Jewish Nation and thence to the Gentile. Thus opened a new dispensation of God that has reached unto us and will continue until God’s purposes concerning us are complete.
In order for us to build according to the pattern, we must know that what we do is in accordance with what the Apostles did. They were in unity and this principle was followed throughout their testimony and the same things were taught and done everywhere in every church.
W. W. Cox.


—There was power in what the Apostles said, and power in what they did, which combined to the reaching of many who were away from God; but there were some who were opposed, whose hearts were so filled with enmity, that they rejected the most plain and powerful evidences. It was so in the days of the Lord Jesus, for by His words and works He left no trace of doubt as to His identity, for He declared Himself to be the Son of God in power by the resurrection of the dead (dead ones). Having hearts filled with hatred, they deliberately rejected evidence of the clearest kind. This is the spirit of the age to-day. It was questioned as to whether Peter and John were right in going into the temple, seeing it is wrong for us to preach in the places of the sects. After much discussion it was finally thought and agreed, that the two are not to be compared. The temple was a public place for assembling, which justifies their presence. [The temple and the synagogue are not and must not be put on the level of sectarian meeting-places. The temple was of Divine origin as to its pattern and purpose, and the synagogue, which was of very ancient origin, was a place where God’s people assembled for public instruction in the law, and the Lord often spoke in the synagogue. Those who preach in sectarian places do so in fellowship with the particular sect that meets there, unless it be simply a matter of hiring a room and paying for its use. When the Apostles and others went to the temple, as in Acts 3., they went to testify to the fact that Jesus was the Christ and as to His resurrection, which they did in the face of the strongest opposition. As to the adherence of the Jewish Christians to the law, and of what was the correct attitude of the Gentile believers to such legal matters, this will be dealt with later.—J.M.]. As to our attitude to-day, anything that is not of God is regarded by Him as unclean, concerning which we have clear instructions, ” Come ye out . . . and touch not the unclean thing” (2 Cor.6:14-18).
H.S.B., W.C.

—As we view the fresh, healthy, and vigorous growth of the Assembly of God in Jerusalem that is presented to us in the closing words of the previous chapter, it makes a striking contrast to the pitiful picture drawn of a man born lame, whose life for forty years was barren of any fruitfulness toward God. Though the alms¬giving was a great consideration to him, his exercise of faith, his response to Peter’s words, his entering with them into the temple to praise God arc worthy of mention. He realised that primarily God required worship before witnessing to the world. With many to-day the position is otherwise; as soon as their salvation is secure they wish to go their own way. When the people of Israel saw the lame man walking in the temple there was a great rush to see the wonderful healers, but Peter, standing on the ground where His risen Lord once stood, in the days of His flesh, relates that it is the lame man’s faith, in the Holy and Righteous One whom they denied, that has made this man strong. The tremendous gathering attracted the attention of the priests and captain of the temple, who put them in ward until the morrow. “All that would that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” The Sanhedrim were meeting the next day, and the apostles were brought before them. Where is the shrinking and denying person of Peter in this ordeal? ” With great power gave the Apostles their witness of the resurrection ” (Acts 4:33). All indeed was now plain to their unlearned and ignorant minds, because the great Teacher had taught them, bringing all things to remembrance that the Lord had said unto them.
How tightly the bonds of fellowship were wound around each heart is easily to be seen by Acts 4:23, and when this is so, fellowship with God is the outcome. To many, we understand, Acts 4:28 presents a great difficulty, but to appreciate and live in the knowledge that nothing happens to us by chance and that “known unto God are His ways from the beginning” is the secret of a spiritual life.
” Each single line in our short life, each thread is woven right, and we shall own it has been so when faith gives place to sight.”

—It was the time of gladness. There had been the waiting time, which in the things of God ever precedes the working time, but now the Lord is building the house. The Stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner. The Lord has found willing workers in the Apostles, especially Peter and John, and it seems probable that this lame man was another stone to the house. (See Acts 3:8,11 and Acts 4:14). We wondered if there was any significance in the mention of the right hand in verse 7. [It is natural for right-handed men to use their right hand. I see no spiritual significance in it, nothing of the character of that of Acts 2:33—” Being therefore by the right hand of God exalted.”—J.M.]. This notable miracle was used by the Apostles as valuable testimony to the men of Israel concerning the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. They were nobly fulfilling the words of their Master, ” Ye shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem.” As we read the words of Acts 3:6 we were reminded of Jas.2:5.
The preaching of the Apostles magnifies the grace of God, for to this guilty nation a free pardon is offered, and though it is true that again as a nation they did not respond to the loving entreaties, we are glad to see from Acts 4:4 that some did believe, so that the number was about 5,000. We might question the wisdom of going to the temple were it not for the words of the angel of the LORD in Acts 5:20. [See note in paper from Atherton and Leigh.]. Peter did not take any credit to himself for the miracle, but gave all the glory to God. This is a lesson to all who engage in the Lord’s work. Referring to Acts 3:22-23, these weighty words should have convinced every hearer who had been privileged to have a look at the Man of Sorrows.
We see in Acts 4 the work of the adversary seeking to over¬ throw the work of God, but this only gives another opportunity to testify to the saving power of the Name. We can well imagine with what ringing tones the well known verse 12 of chapter 4. would be sounded out. The Council marvelled at their boldness and lack of education, but they also took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus. The Apostles had received their tuition from the Greatest of all Teachers, for His approval is expressed in the words, ” Ye shall by My witnesses.” The important work that was theirs reminds us of Bezalel and Oholiab (see Ex.31:1-11).
R. M.

—The lame man of chapter 3. was likened unto one of Adam’s fallen race, helpless to take part in any service for God. It was pointed out how much this meant to an Israelite to be outside the ” Temple worship.” As soon as the lame man was made whole he was seen inside praising God.
Much time was spent in discussing Acts 3:19-21. The general opinion seemed to be that Peter with the other Apostles was expecting the Christ to establish His Kingdom upon earth, and that this was dependent upon Israel as a nation repenting (i.e., having a changed mind concerning Jesus of Nazareth) and accepting Him as the promised Messiah. It was thought Peter had not the knowledge at this time of the mystery of the Church the Body, nor of Israel’s blind¬ness. [This is the way that the coming of Christ is ever spoken of in the New Testament Scripture—that His coming is imminent. The early Christians lived in daily expectancy of the Lord’s return. ” Maran-atha ” was their salutation. Note how Peter qualifies the sending of Christ by the words, ” Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things.” What Peter understood of the Lord’s purposes is difficult to say, and it must be remembered that he was here speaking by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.—J.M.].
It was also mentioned that the ” Restoration of all things ” reached much further than the restoring of the Kingdom to Israel and had in view the time of the ” end ” when the Lord Jesus will deliver up the Kingdom to God the Father (1 Cor.15:24-28).
Attention was drawn to the council of Acts 4:5-6, before which Peter and John were brought. It was similar to the one before which the Lord Himself was brought, when Peter denied His Lord. What boldness was manifest to those assembled at that council! He who had denied this One was now proclaiming Him to be the Christ, and the evidence of His resurrection was before their eyes in the lame man made whole. The spirit of the council was also noticed. They were at variance regarding the resurrection of the dead, but they were of one mind concerning the Person in question. ” The rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed ” (Ps.2:2).
It was thought the proceeds of the lands and possessions sold were not equally divided, as some to-day think ought to be done. The proceeds were held by the Apostles and distributed as there was need.
The right of Barnabas (who was a Levite) to the possession of land was questioned. [Jeremiah was one of the priests of Anathoth and he was told to buy a field in Anathoth, and he had also the right of redemption (see Jer.1:1, Jer.33:6-15). He did so by the word of the LORD—J.M.].
The case of Barnabas was looked upon as one who ” sowed bountifully” and was a “cheerful giver,” as against Ananias and Sapphira, who sowed grudgingly. As upon the threshold of the old dispensation God spake to Israel in the deaths of Nadab and Abihu, so upon the threshold of this dispensation He would speak to those who would act deceitfully, and as though God knew not the heart.

—The healing of this cripple was not only miraculous but also incontestable. His infirmity was of long standing, from his mother’s womb, as was clearly known to all. What an object of pity he must have been! We were caused to think of our own state before we came in contact with our Divine Healer, who met our need.
Although the Apostles could not give any of this world’s goods, they had ” Riches above what earth can grant, and lasting as the mind,” for they carried the glad tidings of the all-powerful name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, in which Name they commanded the cripple to walk. Power is again associated with ” The Name ” in 1 Cor.5:4.
We read that immediately the lame man’s feet and ankle bones received strength. The suddenness of the cure was the proof of the miracle; his walking, leaping, and praising, the sequel. It is recorded of him that all the people saw him. Would that this could be said of us! This miracle, being wrought in a most public place and manner served as unimpeachable evidence to the power of the Name.
It is significant to notice where Peter opens his discourse. He wisely introduces the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, whom they acknowledged. This same God hath glorified His Servant Jesus, whom they denied and even killed. They gave Him the cross, but God has given Him the Throne. The Apostles, in their gospel preaching, gave great prominence to the resurrection. (See Acts 3:15, Acts 4:10,33).
Acts 3:26 shows out very clearly that Salvation was firstly to the Jew. What marvellous outshinings of Divine grace! They who crucified Him were the first to hear the gospel. ” Where sin abounded, grace did abound more exceedingly” (Rom.5:20).
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past tracing out!
Alas, alas! even in this call to repentance they despised the power of the Name that had unquestionably performed this wonderful miracle. It was the only way in which they could be saved. For in none other is there salvation, neither is there any other name under heaven that is given among men wherein we must be saved.

—Evidently the disciples had not as yet turned away from the Temple; they continued there daily, not that they went there to observe the ceremonies of the law, or to give their support to that form of service which was bereft of the glory of God, and doomed to pass away. The early disciples took this opportunity, in the mind of God, to preach ” Jesus Christ ” to those that went there. This was a very courageous thing to do, when we consider the militant attitude of the people and the chief priests and rulers. It is interesting, and instructive also, to notice that the disciples were content to be regarded as ” ignorant and unlearned men ” (Acts 4:13), but knowledge was taken of them ” that they had been with Jesus.” They exhibited the ways of Him who taught them, in marked contrast to the worldly wise {see also 1 Cor.2:4-5).
On this particular occasion Peter and John went up together to the Temple, with no desire that they should be looked upon other than what they were. What a commotion was created by the healing of this lame man, as Solomon’s Porch soon became the centre of the excited multitude! There was no deception practised; the man was well known to all who frequented the Temple. There he was walking and leaping and praising God. His new-found joy knew no bounds. The opportunity was taken to preach the glorious gospel, and then we get the sequel in Acts 4:4, and so to the salvation of the lame man can be added that of the five thousand.
The names of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are names that demand respect and are honoured, but to them can never be ascribed the place and power of Jesus of Nazareth. God hath glorified His Son, even Jesus, and it was through faith in that Name that this man was made whole.
The Apostle now charges home to those assembled at Solomon’s Porch their guilt in the death of the Prince of Life. Marvellous was the grace of God, that to them was preached the word of the gospel! The same mighty power that healed the lame man was necessary in the salvation of the five thousand, and their being reclaimed from the ways that were theirs by nature and by practice. Who can estimate the power necessary in the turning of the feet of one from the ways of death, to traverse the ways of peace?
To-day the gospel is still the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth: ” Let endless praise exalt His Name! ” Chapter 4. tells us the sequel to this incident; five thousand believed and with the lame man rejoiced. How interesting to observe that the lame man took his stand with the Apostles before the Sanhedrim! We noted their confidence in joining issue with the priests. They could say, ” Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you rather than unto God, judge ye.” So let us to-day with boldness speak the word of God.

—We were caused to wonder why Peter and John were going up to the Temple, at the hour of prayer; would it be to engage in prayer, with the rest of the Jews? [Help may be derived from the Lord’s command in Acts 5:20; ” Go ye, stand and speak in the Temple to the people all the words of this Life.” The hour of prayer was the time when the Temple court was filled with people and was most suitable to get a hearing. “The prayers” of Acts 1:14 and Acts 2:42 are not to be confused with Acts 3:1, though it is quite clear that the line of the dispensational change was not clearly marked in the minds of Jewish believers, nor did God enforce at the beginning of the dispensation upon the remnant saved out of Israel what at a later time became abundantly evident to be His will.—J.M.].
It is beautiful to see how Peter and John direct the eyes of the wondering multitude away from themselves to the Lord Jesus Christ, who alone could make the lame man walk; but after this Peter and John charge home to their hearts their guilt; firstly, denying God’s Servant, Jesus; secondly, denying the Holy and Righteous One; and thirdly, of killing the Prince of life, whom God raised up. Peter and John temper their former words by saying that in ignorance they did it, and we thought of it in the light of Isa.6:9,10, as having their eyes blinded.
We read in Jn 1:11 that the Lord came to His own and His own received Him not; as if He came to be received. We found great difficulty with Acts 3:19-21; we could not think that it meant that the Lord Jesus Christ would have been sent back at that time, because of what verse 21 says. We thought that the restoration of all things referred to the completing of God’s purposes. [See note in paper from Liverpool and Birkenhead.].
The result of Peter’s and John’s address is that they find them¬selves in the hands of the rulers. “All that would live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution ” (2 Tim.3:12).
We thought how Satan was behind the whole scene, using the rulers to seek to hinder the work of God, but Peter asks them to be judge whether he and John should obey God or men. May our eyes be upon Him, not on man, and so let us speak the things that we ought to speak.
R. B.

—Peter and John are here found on their way to the Temple at the hour of prayer (Evening Oblation), but it did not seem their object to pray. If it was, would their prayer be after the likeness of Hannah’s prayer, or even as the multitude in Lk.1:10? See also Acts 2:36. [See note in Wishaw’s paper.]. It would seem that they were sent there by the Spirit for the express purpose of witness-bearing, which was the object of all miracles (see Jn 5:36).
This is the first miracle after the resurrection.
An evil generation sought for a sign, although God had predicted their awful state—blinded by Himself—through the prophet Isa.(chapter 6., 9, 10). They rejected Him, and their cry ever was as in Ps.41:5, “When shall He die, and His name perish,” and when in death, they cried, ” Now that He lieth He shall rise up no more ” (Ps.41:8). In spite of all this we have His Father’s word through the psalmist (Ps.72:17), “His name shall be continued as long as the sun,” and God has raised Him to His own right hand, “and by faith in His name, hath His name made this man strong.” The Jews thought they were finished with the One whom they called an imposter, and whose Name they desired to perish, but here were ignorant and un¬learned men performing wonderful works through that very Name.
The principal theme of all the Apostles’ teaching was the resurrection and testimony to this was the objective in the wonder wrought.
But the servant is no greater than his lord, and as the Lord met opposition even after His mighty works, so did the disciples. Like their -Master, however, they were unswerving in their obedience, asking God for boldness to speak, while God stretched forth His hand to heal. It may have been possible that this man had never had the opportunity of being healed before when the Lord Himself went into the Temple. On the contrary it may have been lack of faith on his part. It was agreed that this man was in this condition, because of the sin of one man.
This man was here for the glory of God, and as the multitude saw that the man on whom the miracle of healing was wrought was over 40 years old, they glorified God, so that the purpose of God had been fulfilled and about five thousand persons were saved.
When they retired to their own company, after being threatened, they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, praying for boldness to speak the word and that the Lord would perform wonders and signs through the Name of His Holy Servant Jesus.

—The need of absolute dependence upon God seems to have been felt by the Apostles and those associated with them, even from the time of the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. Their first act after that great event was to come together for prayer, and it would appear that this was a daily exercise during the ten days which separated the ascension from the day of Pentecost, and after¬wards ” They continued stedfastly in . . . the prayers.” It would seem, too, that they continued the practice of keeping the ninth hour of prayer, which was the hour of incense. This brings us to the section before us which, it is interesting to notice, begins with prayer, and ends with prayer. (See also Acts 6:4, Acts 9:11, Acts 12:5, Acts 16:13).
Surely, we too have need of this exercise, for what characterised the saints of that day should in like manner characterise us. We have need of prayer, and could we but realise how utterly dependent upon God we are for everything, surely our hearts would pour out supplication to Him who is able to help us. Not only do we seek help when found in prayer, but we honour God. Notice the beautiful association between incense and prayer in Ps.141:2, Lk.1:9 and 10, Rev.5:8 and Rev.8:3,4.
It was a wonderful time of blessing for the people of Israel who lived to see the wonderful works of God, first in the Person of His Son, and then through the Apostles. The man who was laid at the gate of the Temple daily was forty years old, and we would judge had been taken there for many years. But how was it that he had missed the Lord Jesus Himself? The Christ of God had often visited the Temple and yet this poor man was still lying in his misery. We think that here we see the hand of God. His time had not come until the purposes of God might be fulfilled in him.
What a day of joy it was for him when for the first time he walked! He leaped up, he stood, he walked, he entered the temple, leaping, walking and praising God. The incident is full of action, and the man was brim-full of happiness.
Well might the people wonder when they saw this sign, and we marvel at the obstinacy of those in authority as they sent to arrest them for this good deed done to an impotent man. Peter’s word to them is full of interest for it is a simple gospel address. First he brings home to his hearers their guilt concerning ” Jesus whom ye crucified,” then he presents that blessed One as the only way of salvation.
What a change the Spirit of God had wrought in these two men, Peter and John! Unlearned and ignorant men though they seemed to be, yet they were able to speak well. But they had come in living contact with the Son of God, and had been filled with the Holy Spirit, and men took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.
It seems strange that the council should imagine that by threatening two men the Name of Jesus of Nazareth would spread no further, when in Jerusalem at that time were about five thousand men rejoicing in the knowledge of sins forgiven. How could the Name be suppressed under such circumstances?
” And being let go they came to their own company.” What a value they place on this! They did not seek their relatives or acquaintances of this world. It was the company of saints to which they were gathered that claimed their first attention, and to these they reported all that had happened to them. Do we place the same value upon the company of fellow-saints, or are we more content with the company of others? Notice the mutual joy enjoyed by these people in Acts 4., and how with one accord they lifted up their voice in prayer, and how their prayer was answered and they spake the word with boldness. Here was unity indeed, unity in purpose, and unity in action. Let us remember that unity is strength, a principle equally applicable to-day as it was then. Let us then seek to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
J. McC.

—What wonders were wrought in the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth! The cure of the lame man at the door of the Temple was miraculous, but Peter did not perform this cure of himself. It was necessary to use that Holy Name. ” In My Name shall they cast out demons,” etc. The Apostles knew something of the power and effect of that Name. Silver and gold have no place in salvation to-day, but in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth men find their need met.
This was an opportunity which the Apostle Peter grasped at once. Those Jews, who professed to know the God of Abraham, were ignorant of God’s Son—His servant Jesus—though they should have known better than any other people, because of the Scriptures. There they stood guilty before God of the death of their Messiah.
Their ignorance was perhaps excusable, but not sufficient for God to overlook their sin. What can they do? ” Repent . . . and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out.”
Peter, an eye-witness of the ascension, pointed out to them the one way of salvation and redemption in the crucified Messiah.
Unto them first, God having raised up His Servant, sent Him to bless them, but they did not get the blessing. All this from the mouth of Peter stirred their hatred against the Apostles and they shut them up in ward. But the prison never did and never could stop the spread¬ing of the Word by those men of God, who, though unlearned and ignorant were irresistible, for they had been with the One whom they told out.
The words of Ps.3. are quoted here by Peter. But we wondered if they have fulfilment here. We know that when the Lord was crucified they set themselves against Him (rulers and people alike), but we thought that this portion had a future application. We would appreciate an explanation on this point. At any rate Peter spoke of their refusal and rejection of the Messiah as their rightful King. [This quotation is like that from Joel as to the giving of the Holy Spirit; it had a fulfilment then, and will have a fulfilment at the time of the Lord’s return to earth.—J.M.].
The shaking of the place after the prayer-meeting attests that the presence of God was with the disciples.
W. W. Cox.

—There are eight clear points to consider in this chapter, viz., the miracle (Acts 3:1-10); the first address to the people (Acts 3:11-26); the interruption of the discourse by the priests, and the imprisonment of the Apostles, during which time there was a great addition to the number of the saints (Acts 3:1-4); the second address, to the rulers (Acts 3:5-12); the private conference of the rulers (Acts 3:13-17); dismissal of the Apostles and open conflict of the Jewish leaders with the Fellowship (Acts 3:18-22); the prayer meeting of the saints (Acts 3:23-30); God’s response (Acts 3:31).
Peter and John were not identifying themselves with the religious men of the day in going up to the Temple, but were led of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 5:20). They had no prepared address, but Peter was led to say to the cripple, ” What I have that give I thee.” Man stints ofttimes when giving, but God, in grace, is lavish.
The purpose of the miracle is evident. It provided the occasion not for an elaboration of doctrine, but for the Divine story of the man Jesus, Jehovah’s Servant, to glorify whom the sign was given. Incidentally we learn here a fact not as clearly indicated in the Gospels, namely, that Pilate had determined to release the Righteous One. He allowed the clamour of the many, however, to overcome his determination—an ignoble spectacle! the Holy and Righteous One given up for a murderer.
Peter gives his countrymen the benefit of the doubt, on the ground of ignorance, and beseeches them to repent of their act and to accept Jesus now.
The Sadducees being in the ascendency in the priestly party, and being the teachers of ” no resurrection”, it was on that point that the charge against the Apostles was made, which led to their imprisonment.
Next day in court no beseeching words reach the rulers from the Apostles. The Holy Spirit speaks through His servants. The despised name, Jesus of Nazareth, was vindicated once more. The miracle could not be disputed. The rulers could not punish the Apostles for this—so they did all they could in forbidding them to preach in that despised Name, Jesus. They replied that they must speak what they have been commanded by God. Conflict with the authorities is only right when the Lord’s people are required to ignore, evade or disobey, a command of the Lord, [That is, when authorities leave their proper realm and interfere in spiritual matters, or call upon God’s people to do what is against the will of God.].
The Spirit’s use of Ps.2. in the thanksgiving which followed, shows surely that all peoples were represented at the Cross.
In what way were Israel’s rulers builders? [All rulers are builders of that in which they are. Rulers of a nation are the builders of it, or contrariwise may pull it down. Misrule is a thing greatly to be feared, and greater disservice was never rendered to Israel than when the rulers failed to appreciate the value of Jesus of Nazareth, and instead of exalting Him to the throne, they crucified Him. Such failure and misrule ended in the complete disruption and scattering of Israel, and but for the over-ruling providence of God in His fulfilment of the promises made to the fathers Israel had long since perished.—J.M.]. Israel was an elect race. In rejecting the Stone they lost their privileges as builders. It is given to regenerated Jews and Gentiles, as living stones, to be builded together upon the Living Stone, into a habitation of God in the Spirit; and to enjoy the privileges and responsibilities of the Kingdom—once within the grasp of Israel, but lost through unbelief. F. W. J.

—ACTS 4:32—5:11.

—We have frequently brought before us in the Scriptures the great truth, that the seat of prayer is the seat of power, and that these unite to form the source of blessing. One of the many examples of this is brought before us in this section, where we find the followers of the Lord assembled together for prayer. Resulting from their waiting upon God, the place was shaken—they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spake the word of God with boldness. We do well to cultivate this trait of the early disciples, that much waiting upon God might precede and follow our ministrations for Him. There is no doubt whatever that the word of the Lord, through the early disciples, in the power of the Holy Spirit, really gripped the hearts of those that both heard and believed. They were a picture of perfect unity, being of ” one heart and soul,” and this valuable and exemplary condition was brought about by the Holy Spirit. These hearts too were knit together in love. This reminds us of the words by Paul to the Corinthians, “Now I beseech you, brethren, . . . that ye all speak the same thing … in the same mind … in the same judgement ” (1 Cor.1:10).
Their willingness to distribute their substance to their fellow-believers, who were not so well placed, was an effect of their unity in the Faith. We do not understand this scripture to mean that goods were sold, and the money given with the thought of equality, but they that had substance would not rest content if their fellow—believers were in need. [” As any one had need ” was the principle on which they acted in their distribution of material things; the greater the need the greater the contribution to meet it.—J.M.].
In Col.4:1 we see the relative conduct between master and servant, and such ways of dealing were to characterise those in the Faith. But it does not mean that the master was to share his returns equally between himself and his servant, but rather that the servant be justly recompensed for his service. Our distinction from the world should be known in this way as in any other. These thoughts bring to our minds the words of Paul in 1 Tim.6:17,18 RVM; and again in Gal.6:10.
May all our giving be from a loving heart, cheerfully, for the Lord loveth a cheerful giver, and one who giveth as unto the Lord. The distribution, too, a service which often calls for much discretion and discernment, must be done as unto the Lord.
Joseph made a noble sacrifice. He is worthy of emulation. We sometimes speak of the giving of the tenth. If this is to be our guide, may it only be viewed as a minimum, for the giving of ALL is only our reasonable return.
Chapter 5. starts with a sad calamity, brought about through deceit and covetousness. How true, when God is working, as He was here, that Satan centres his attention upon the scene! and he works in the hearts of Ananias and Sapphira. They lied to the Holy Spirit. They had a possession and sold it, and laid part at the Apostles’ feet and withheld the rest. It was in their power to give it all, but they opposed the leading of the Spirit in the matter, and whilst it appeared to men they had given all, in reality they had not. Does the ” lie ” involve that the actual selling price of the possession had not been given? [They lied to the Holy Spirit in that they brought to the Apostles a certain sum of money and made it appear that this was all that they got for their possession, while in reality they kept back part of the price. This sin was further aggravated by the fact that they agreed together to do this. It is a solemn thing to agree to act in a certain way. Note the force of agreement in Matt.18:19.—J.M.]. God abhors deceit, covetousness, and lying, and those who engage in practices which come under these three heads will, like this man and his wife, suffer the summary judgment of God.
A.S., W.C.

—Here we see God’s people as the word speaks of them, ” of one heart and soul,” with the result that ” with great power gave the Apostles their witness of the resurrection,” and again ” great grace was upon them all.” These are remarkable words. What a pleasure it must have been to the eye of God, to look down upon such a people! “They had all things common.”
In considering Barnabas we were caused to think of Jeremiah, who was told by God to buy a field (Jer.32:7), a witness of the fact that God’s people would yet be back in their earthly inheritance, even though the Chaldeans were then in possession. Barnabas, who sold a field, had his heart and mind taken to a better and abiding possession in heaven. The question was asked, ” Why are only lands and houses mentioned here? ” [Earlier, in Acts 2:45, we are told that ” they sold their possessions and goods,” now in Acts 4:34 we come to the ” possessors of lands or houses.” First they sold their goods, their moveable property, then they sold their heritable property. Is this it? or is it that the possessors of lands or houses were more difficult to move than those who had only goods? It may in some cases be true both ways.—J.M.]. We were reminded that those together in testimony then were liable to lose all they possessed by reason of persecution (Heb.10:32-34).
Ananias and Sapphira were very different people, who sought to make a show before men, but lied to God. The question was asked, ” Were they really saved people? ” We thought they were, for it is improbable that this language would have been used to unsaved persons. The judgment was peculiar to its time; we question if such direct judgment would be meted out to any who, in our day, used deceit in the things of God [or if it is within our power or province to attempt to carry out judgment in this way.—J.M.].

—What a wonderful condition to find a multitude ” of one heart and soul “! We were caused to turn to the words of the Lord in Jer.32:39, and in Ezek.11:19—” I will give them one heart,” and again, ” Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart.” Prayer brought about this condition of unity (see verse 31). May God knit and unite us together as one man! For this desired end we require four things, ” prayer, a right condition, power, and testimony.” A good condition is dependent on more prayer; then will follow power in testimony.
Justification as a result of the resurrection comes to the believer, for the Lord Jesus was raised for our justification. (See also Rom.10:9). ” Great grace was upon them all “; it should be our aim to learn to speak graciously.
Barnabas (son of exhortation) had a heart of love for others who were in need. What a contrast in the case of Ananias and Sapphira, who kept back a part of the money and lied to the Holy Spirit! Let us beware of the father of lies! Immediate judgment, and death, were the result of their lies. We thought of the judgment meted out to Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, who died before the LORD (Lev.10:2). What a sad ending! Remember then the solemn words:—” Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
A. L., F. H.

—Oneness of heart and soul is a very necessary condition amongst God’s people. God gave the tribe of Judah one heart to do His commandments, in Hezekiah’s day (2 Chron.30:12), and He has promised to give His people one heart to return to Him and to the land (Ezek.11:19). One heart and one soul are necessary to stand and strive in the gospel (Phil.2:7).
Barnabas sold a field with a whole-hearted purpose, but Ananias allowed covetousncss to overcome him. At Satan’s instigation he thought to deceive the Apostles, yet God cannot be mocked. The punishment may seem to be severe, but, as in early days of Divine movements sinners had to be dealt with in an exemplary way, in the interests of godly order and discipline we bear in mind Israel’s early experiences on entering the land, when Achan and his house were stoned and burned for taking the devoted thing.
The principle of having all things in common may be sound, although in its first application amongst Christians, the experiment seems to have failed.
[The principle of having all things common is sound and the more we recognize it the more truly we shall be of one heart and soul. To call what we have oar own is to engender a thought which in its outworking will produce a sad disintegrating process. The hymn truly puts it—
” Naught that I have mine own I’d call, I hold it for the Giver.”
Let each judge himself and his giving on Lord’s day morning whether the giving is ” as he may prosper ” (1 Cor.16:2), or whether he is not keeping back part of the Lord’s money, and while professedly acting on the principle ” as he may prosper, he is not really doing so —the spirit of Ananias and Sapphira being present.—J.M.].
God loveth the cheerful giver. He wants nothing from any other.
F. W. J.


(1) Could the 120 be viewed in ” Church of God position ” before the descent of the Holy Spirit?
ANSWER.—The 120 formed the nucleus; as the body without the spirit is dead, so a company of believers apart from being “a habita¬tion of God in the Spirit” is not a church of God, as we understand a Church of God in the New Testament. By the descent of the Holy Spirit they became a divine creation, “with one heart and soul.”—J.M.
(2) With reference to Acts 1:23, ” and they put forward two,” who were they—the 120 or the eleven apostles?
ANSWER.—I would take it that the real actors in the carrying out of the scripture were the apostles, but they did what they did in fellowship with those whom Peter addresses as “Brethren,” for it says “Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren.”—J.M.

QUESTION FROM HAMILTON (ONT.).—What is meant by the words “within His own authority”?
ANSWER.—This is, in the nature of it, a profound question, because it deals with matters pertaining to the Godhead, and with what the Son says belongs to another of the Divine persons—the Father. These times and seasons pertaining to the restoration of the kingdom to Israel are matters, the Lord says, that are within the Father’s authority. He, the Son, tells us this, and with this we should be satisfied. The words from the Bush may be applicable: ” Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.”—J.M.

(1) Could we say that this 120 disciples was the sum of all the disciples? were there more than this number?
ANSWER.—We hardly grip what our friends mean in the question they ask. The Lord appeared to above 500 brethren at one time, and I could believe that even 500 did not by a long, long way cover the number who were alive and who had believed on the Lord during the days of His earthly ministry. But there were 120 whose names were definitely together, who formed a corporate unity, and were waiting in Jerusalem, in obedience to the Lord’s will, the coming of the Holy Spirit. They must not depart from Jerusalem, which, perhaps, others did.—J.M.
(2) Why were not the 500 mentioned in 1 Cor.15.6 identified and associated with the 120 at Jerusalem?
ANSWER.—Why, we cannot say, and where this appearance to the 500 took place is not revealed.—J.M.

(1) What is the meaning of the statement that the Lord Jesus gave commandment through the Holy Spirit? (Acts 1:2).
ANSWER.—I take this to mean the commandment given on the mountain in Galilee (Matt.28:18,20) with such other words of command found elsewhere in the Gospels as to what the Apostles should do after the Lord was gone. It covers the Lord’s charge to them. ” Through the Holy Spirit ” shows the means or medium by which the charge was given; it was a Spirit-given command, which could only be carried out in Spirit-given power. Note how in Rev.2:1, the Lord speaks, and in verse 7 it is, ” Let him hear what the Spirit saith.” All that the Lord spake in the days of His ministry was given through the Spirit.—J.M.
(2) What baptism is it which is referred to in Acts 2:38?
ANSWER.—This is the baptism of Matt.28:19, and that of Acts 10:47,48, but for reasons known to the Lord, He required, perhaps because of the innate hypocrisy of the Jewish people, that this time they should be baptised as well as repent, before they stood in the full enjoyment of the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Note, too, at a later time—Rom.10:9—how confession and faith stand co-related when Paul writes of the salvation of the Jewish race.—J.M.

Did the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 take the words spoken and turn them into the various languages of the people who listened, or would it be that each who spoke, spoke in a different language?
ANSWER.—Those who spoke did not speak in one language, either the Hebrew or Galilean tongue, but they spoke different languages “as the Spirit gave them utterance.” It was no gibberish; they were speaking these foreign languages like natives, and this was the marvel, seeing they were but ignorant Galileans.—J.M.

(1) Acts 2:4: Does “all” include the 120 names, this number speaking with tongues?
ANSWER.—”All” includes those who were together on that Lord’s day morning. “As the Spirit gave them utterance” qualifies the speaking with tongues. The speaking with tongues was not confined to the Apostles.—J.M.
(2) Acts 2:5-13: Are we right in assuming that in an orderly manner each speaker in a tongue spoke directly to that particular section claiming that language? or did one speak in a language unknown and unenlightened to the speaker, and all the nations represented hear their native language? Are the tongues of 1 Cor.14:5 different?
ANSWER.—God is not the Author of Confusion, so there was no “babel” in Acts 2. The speakers miraculously spoke languages unknown to them before, and spoke in the hearing of men who identified the language as their native tongue. What is in Acts 2. is the same as 1 Cor.14. Men who had the gift of certain tongues might or might not be able to interpret their utterances in the language chiefly spoken in an assembly where they might be, in which case they were to be silent.—J.M.
(3) Acts 2:41,42: The breaking of bread. What is the position of children of God meeting together for the remembrance of the Lord? Do they enter the Holiest of all? (Heb.10:19). Are they confined to individual approach?
ANSWER.—We do not understand our friends’ question; do they mean within or without the house of God? The question might be more fully explained.—J.M.

Whose faith is referred to in Acts 3:16, the lame man’s or the Apostles’?
ANSWER.—That the Apostles had faith in the Name of Jesus of Nazareth there can be no question, but how could their faith have made the man whole apart from the faith of the lame man? The RV margin says, “on the ground of” faith in His Name. This I take to be the lame man’s faith in the Name. The result was that His Name (i.e., the power in it) made the man whole immediately.—J.M.

In the light of the building of the Church the Body, which commenced in Acts 2., could we view the Christ being sent back on the repentance of the nation of Israel in Acts 3?
ANSWER.—The sending of the Christ is conditioned by ” whom the heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things,” which times the Father has reserved within His own authority, as we see in Acts 1:7. As we have elsewhere stated in this month’s issue, the coming of the Lord is ever spoken of as being imminent, and the early disciples waited in daily expectation for His return. We have no knowledge of how the Lord would have acted had Israel repented; we know what has happened, how a hardening in part has happened unto Israel, and how by this the fulness of the Gentiles has come in. God’s offer to Israel is sincere, and yet such an offer could never set aside the commands given to the Apostles in Matt.28:19,20, and Acts 1:8.—J.M.
How long did the Apostles use their power to heal, and were there any others who possessed this power, and when did it cease?
ANSWER.—Others had the power of healing, as, for instance, Philip the evangelist (Acts 8:7). Note also the force of ” gifts of healings ” in 1 Cor.12:30, which are distinct from the apostolic gift. We cannot say when the miraculous period ended. Signs and wonders and so forth are (in Heb.2:3,4) connected with the great salvation, which was spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed by those who heard. When it had been fully attested by miraculous evidence and the Canon of the New Testament was complete, then, when there was no further need for miraculous attestation, such powers of healing would cease; so I judge. Such signs were for the unbelieving (1 Cor.14:22) to convince them of the reality of the divine movement amongst the disciples of the Lord.—J.M.


—As we traverse the Acts, we feel like comparing it in many respects with the book of Joshua. The early judgment upon Ananias and his wife has reminded us of the early judgment upon Achan. The continuance of miracles and wonders by the hands of the Apostles (Acts 5:12), in furtherance of the spiritual Kingdom of God, seems to be history repeating itself from the days of Joshua, in the establishment by God of His kingdom on the earth. Israel in that day fought against great odds, and faith triumphed, Jehovah fighting for them, by great miracles and wonders. So in verse 19 the work of God is seemingly hindered, but an angel of the Lord is sent to liberate the Apostles. The favour of the Church here reached its zenith with the outsiders (Acts 5:13); so much so, that none sought reception into the Fellowship, from any ulterior motive. Multitudes both of men and women continue to be added. Thus the building of a sanctuary for God goes on by the power of the Holy Spirit, not of material stones as of old, but of believers who were living stones. The adding together of stones makes a material house. The adding together of believers make a spiritual house, ” being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the chief corner stone.” The high priest, and others, filled with jealousy, lay hands on the Apostles and heap indignities upon them, yet they but fight against God (Acts 5:39)—a futile work. Poor miserable men! The Spirit of God reveals the state of their mind and heart—perplexed, cut to the heart, filled with murderous intentions, so unlike those on the day of Pentecost who cried, ” What shall we do? ” With what boldness does Peter stand forth once again to refute the charge of seeking ” to bring this man’s blood upon us “! He charges home upon them, once again, the murder of the Son of God, and presents Him as the exalted One, a Prince and Saviour. The wisdom of Gamaliel saves them from an ugly situation. Wisdom is profitable to direct. In fulfilment of their threat on a previous occasion the Apostles are subjected to a beating. Rejoicing they depart, doubtless remembering words of the Master, such as Matt.5:10-16.
T. R.

—Timely indeed were the requests made by the Apostles in asking for boldness, and that God might stretch forth His hand to heal. In the face of such determined opposers, whose hands were still red with the blood of Him Whom they led to the slaughter as a lamb, what boldness was needed! Had not their Master said unto these very men in their hearing, ” Behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, . . . some of them ye shall kill and crucify . . . scourge . . . persecute . . . That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth “? ” All these things shall come upon this generation ” (Matt.23:34-36). The servant is not above his lord.
There could be no retiring to a quieter place; they must work while it was day, for the night was coming, and so at ” daybreak ” they are seen in the temple all aglow with the touch of God’s mighty hand— fresh from the prison house. Their oppressors might well have been reminded of Daniel and the valiant men who lived with him (see Dan.3:28, Dan.6:27), for in each case when they laid hold of the Apostles, not only were words given to them that their adversaries were unable to withstand, but the very circumstances shut their mouth.
The words of Peter and his fellows had the same effect as those of Stephen, they ” cut to the heart “—and even Gamaliel, a man of discernment, scarce restrained them from their dreadful purpose.
It is well to note that the practical exposition of discipleship afforded us in Peter’s writings was due largely, under God, to his own experiences in this and later days. Let us note the source of the Apostles’ courage and steadfastness.
The question of subjection to rulers and to governments arises here, and we observe that whenever the demands of earthly powers clash with the absolute authority of God’s word, the disciples’ bounden duty is clearly to refuse. We expect that the apostles were ” pattern citizens ” in lawful and proper subjection to the powers, but their position in relation to the rulers here was far removed from that anticipated in 1 Pet.2:13, or Rom.13.
These were ” foundation days,” God having laid in Zion a Stone of sure foundation, upon which they were privileged to build with trowel and sword in hand (teaching and preaching). What a sad, sad thing that Jerusalem did not know even yet the time of her visitation!
H. B.

—There was no shrinking from the pathway; the command from God, through the angel, was, ” Go ye, and stand and speak … all the words of this Life.” We were caused to wonder at the meaning of the last four words, and reference was made to 1 Jn 1:1-2, where we read of the ” Word of life,” and of the Life being manifested.
They were charged with bringing this Man’s blood upon the leaders of the Jews, when that guilty race, in Matt.27:25, had cried that His blood should be on them and their children. To the Jews it was a most serious charge, that they were responsible for the murder of their Messiah.
No matter what the priests said, the Apostles were settled in their mind. ” We must obey God rather than men.” Righteously bold men indeed!
Could it be said that in the counsel of Gamaliel, he was being governed by God for the deliverance of His Apostles? [It may be that Gamaliel was wrought upon by God in speaking as he did, or it may be that this is only part of the truth; the things that had happened in Jerusalem, the miracles, and so forth, may have had a powerful effect on his mind, causing him to speak thus.—J.M.].
They, instead of being frightened, rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the Name.
R. B.

—The angel delivered the Apostles that they might go out to serve. God would allow nothing to hinder the work of the gospel at this stage.
It should be noted that Gamaliel was a Pharisee, not a Sadducee, and was possibly a member of the Council because of his position as a doctor of the law. It is profitable to observe in this connection (a) what the Council said to the Apostles; (b) what the Apostles said to the Council; and (c) what Gamaliel said concerning the Apostles to the Council. The statement of the Apostles (Acts 5:29) is a principle for all ages. It was a model address from Gamaliel. He showed that a movement cannot be stamped out by repression; time is the great determining factor as to whether it is of men or not. Three attitudes are shown here towards vital things. There is the attitude which is against God (Theudas and Judas, Acts 5:36,37); that which is apathetic as counselled by Gamaliel in Acts 5:38 (and largely seen to-day); and finally, that which is active in the cause of God (evidenced by the Apostles in Acts 5:42).
E. A. M.

—The opening verses of this section remind us, very forcibly, of the days when the Lord sojourned among men, and to Him were brought the lame and blind and those who had divers diseases, and He healed them every one. (See Matt.14:34-36, and Matt.15:29-31).
Peter seems to have been the leader from the very commencement, and he seems to have been a marked man, not only among the Apostles, but also among the people. These miracles were proofs of the claims of the Lord to Messiahship, and also showed forth the reality of His resurrection.
The popularity of this new teaching aroused the jealousy of the high priest and his associates, the Sadducees. They seemed totally unable to appreciate that this was a work of God. In them the Scriptures were exemplified. Jealousy is the rage of a man (Prov.6:34). It is cruel as the grave (Songs 8:6). It is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where jealousy and faction are, there is con¬fusion and every vile deed (Jas.3:15-16). Prison bars could not be permitted to hinder the work of God, for the word of God is not bound (2 Tim.2:9). It will go forth even if it requires a miracle in its proclamation and it shall accomplish God’s pleasure.
” Ye have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this Man’s blood upon us.” What hypocrites! A few short weeks before they had combined to cry, ” His blood be upon us and upon our children.” Peter again is prominent; how apt he is in his answers! few words, but fearlessly chosen, send conviction home to the hearts of these men. Nevertheless, he shows the mercy of God in providing the Saviour.
One wise man in the Council intercedes for them, one man who does not seem to be blinded by jealousy, who is able to weigh in the balances the possibilities of the case. We would like to think that Gamaliel, with such a keen insight, embraced the Messiah, as did his pupil, Saul of Tarsus.
J. McC.

—The great salvation was first spoken through the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard, God bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders, and by manifold powers, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to ” His own Will” (Heb.2:1-4), and thereby believers were the more added to the Lord. From Acts 4.23-31 we see that the Apostles, with their company, lifted up their voice with one accord, and prayed that signs and wonders might be given. This teaches us the importance of prayer. Although God can work mightily, irrespective of our asking, it is nevertheless His will that we should ask.
Even those upon whom Peter’s shadow fell were healed. ” This Life ” is something fuller than salvation from death, even as we read in Jn 10:10, ” I came that they may have life and may have it abundantly “—a life flowing continuously from the Throne.
The apostolic testimony is still only to Israel, and to an Israel that has ” a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.” The important element in the appeal concerning the Lord Jesus is that, in all that occurred, God was the actor. God raised up Jesus whom they slew, and God had exalted Him to His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour.
With regard to Gamaliel, Paul’s tutor, it was thought by some that he was a man of wise counsel and discerning character. Others held him to be at heart a persecutor, who spoke as he did on this occasion merely to benefit his own sect, the Pharisees, in their political opposition to the Sadducees, who were apparently in power.

—We are here shown a great work being wrought through the Apostles. We have a difficulty in Acts 5:13. Who are meant by ” the rest “? are they the same as ” the people “? [Acts 5:12 tells us of the Apostles being in Solomon’s porch (see Jn 10:23, Acts 3:11). ” Them ” used twice in verse 13 refers to the Apostles. The whole Church is mentioned in verse 11 and I take it that the rest (that which remains) refers to all in the church in Jerusalem (other than the Apostles) who durst not join the twelve, who were God’s faithful testimony to Israel in the Temple. It is not that the rest were not joined to the Apostles in the Fellowship, but they durst not join them in Solomon’s porch.—J.M.]. The progress of the work is most remarkable, ” multitudes both of men and women ” being added. This soon moves the religious leaders to jealousy, and to cast the Apostles into prison. The hand of God is raised in releasing them, and they are sent back to the place where they were arrested, with a command to ” stand and speak.” Would not this experience bring back to them the words of the Lord Jesus, ” If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you,” ” these things will they do unto you for My name’s sake “? (Jn 15:20,21). Daylight finds them again in the Temple, speaking to the people ” all the words of this Life.”
We see the thought of man is to sit in judgment on the work of God, but they have reckoned without God. Does not Acts 5:26 show us the standing which those together of God, in that day, had in the hearts of the people?—Those who took them feared the people.
A remarkable testimony from enemies is given to the labours of the Apostles: ” Ye have filled Jerusalem with your teaching.” What a courageous answer was given by the Apostles to the charge laid against them! for they again charged home to those Jewish rulers the murder of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostles stood in danger of their lives that day, for those rulers, who planned the slaying of the Lord Jesus, again had murder in their hearts.
We see a great difference in Gamaliel, for he reasons with them from facts so clear, that they are agreed to accept his advice. Though they agree to ” refrain from these men,” yet in their bitterness of heart they beat them, and charged them “not to speak in the name of Jesus.”
This beating had an effect opposite to that intended, for we see the Apostles rejoicing ” that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the Name.” The word tells us that ” every day they ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus.” What an example is set before us here, as we see how that Satan, seeking to hold down the work of God, defeated his own purposes! Those men had the word of God filling their hearts, so they went forward to His work, and God blessed their labours.

—Faith is shown by many throughout the surrounding country, in that they brought their sick that they might be healed. When God is working, Satan is ever there trying to frustrate the purposes of God. When we consider the story of Ananias and Sapphira we should remember the exhortation of Heb.3:12. Not succeeding in his work within, the devil next tries from without. This time his efforts are through the elders and priests of Israel.
Though the forces of evil were busy, and in the eyes of men had conquered, God was watching over His own, remembering the words in our Lord’s prayer of Jn 17. The Apostles were liberated from prison and told to go to the temple and preach (Acts 5:19,20), reminding us that we were delivered from bondage in order that we might preach the gospel. Obedience was a very strong point with Peter, for he ever reminded the Senate that they must obey God rather than men. So weighty were the words of the Apostles that they were minded to slay them, but God in His sovereignty over-ruled, and through Gamaliel preserved their lives. From the advice of Gamaliel to the people we see how futile it is to fight against God, and we should be ever on our guard to see that all that we do is in accordance with the will of God, remembering Dan.4:35, ” None can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou?”

—It is evident the righteous judgment of God upon Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, had a sobering effect upon the church, for great fear came upon them, also upon all those ” that heard these things.” Judgment is associated with the House of God (see 1 Pet.4:17). This should have a sobering effect upon us.
The ministry and work of the Apostles, with its vast results, displeased and aroused jealousy in the high priest and the Sadducees, so they ” laid hands on them and put them in public ward.” They could not bind the word.
The term of imprisonment seems to have been short, and those men, perhaps quietly boasting of what they had accomplished, are plunged into further amazement, when they are told that the men who were securely locked up, are in the Temple preaching to the people. They are re-arrested, but the authorities do it cautiously, “without violence”, for fear of the people, and when they are brought before the Council Peter stands up and boldly affirms: ” We must obey God rather than men.” The serious business the Apostles had in hand admitted of no compromising. The words which Peter spake, in the power of the Holy Spirit, strike deep into the hearts of those men, and ” they were minded to slay them,” but Gamaliel, at whose feet Saul of Tarsus once sat, very wisely and timely intervened. He raises the warning signal, ” lest haply ye be found even to be fighting against God.” Alas, much is still being said against the Word of God, and against the Son of God.
These noble men are beaten and dismissed. What seems disgrace they account as glory and rejoice at being accounted worthy to suffer dishonour for the Name.
A. H., W. C.

—The Apostles, their preaching and their miracles, are the centre of interest to the multitude, and from the surrounding cities the sick and suffering are brought to be healed. It is almost impossible to visualise the scene of the sick being carried by friends and relatives. These mighty works were done by the hands of the Apostles that Israel might realise that Moses, in whom they hoped, though a prophet, was inferior to ” Him ” of whom he wrote (Acts 3:22, 26). In Israel’s case it was the question of Moses or Christ. These miracles were the dynamite used to awaken them and to focus their attention upon this One, to whom all the prophets bear witness.
It was foolish of these rulers to oppose themselves and to imagine that bolts and bars would put an end to the preaching and teaching of ” Jesus Christ ” with which all Jerusalem had now become familiar. In point of fact, the tendency would be to aggravate the situation that was quickly developing and which, as subsequent events show, they were powerless to stop. The rulers but gave more publicity to that which they wished to stamp out. It must have given them quite a shock when the officers returned and reported that they found the doors of the prison shut and the keepers standing at the doors, but no man within. Things began to take a serious turn. It will be observed that formerly when before the Council they were treated in a vastly different way: ” They were threatened,” but now they were perplexed whereunto this thing would grow, and a vastly different temper began to manifest itself amongst them, for just consider those words which follow Peter’s answer to the High Priest, in which he charges them with slaying ” Jesus ” whom God raised up. When they heard these words ” they were cut to the heart and were minded to slay them.” Gamaliel’s intervention and eminently wise counsel was timely, and for the time being the Apostles were released with a beating. They rejoiced ” that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the Name.” We cannot imagine what the results would have been, and how it would have affected the world in general, had the Apostles and disciples ceased at the bidding of these men to preach the glad tidings. How thankful we should be that they chose to ” obey ” God rather than men!


—We read in Acts 4:35 ” that distribution was made unto each, according as any one had need.” We find, as the disciples increased in Jerusalem, that the widows of the Grecian Jews were being neglected in the daily ministration (Acts 6:1); a murmuring arose because of this neglect, which necessitated the twelve calling the multitude of the disciples together.
The Apostles show:—
(1) Their work is not to serve tables, but to serve in prayer and in the Word.
(2) They state the number, and kind of men to be chosen, whom they may appoint over this business.
(3) They leave the choice with the brethren.
This advice pleased the whole multitude. In what way are we to understand that the multitude chose these men? [We are not told what steps the multitude took to carry out the apostolic injunction to look out men, but we may reasonably conclude that they conferred together before they could unitedly choose Stephen and the rest of the seven, who, no doubt, were themselves part of ” the multitude of the disciples.” They did the looking out and the Apostles approved of their choice and appointed the seven.—J .M.] We concluded that these men—at least the first two who head the list—were not only ministers to tables, but ministers of the Word.
As we think of the stand which Stephen took before those who rose up against him, and also before the Council, we feel ashamed of ourselves as witnesses of Jesus Christ. They set up false witnesses against him (Acts 6:13). This reminded us of Matt.26:59,60.
The theme of Stephen’s address is God’s dealings with Israel as a nation, and their unbelief. The climax of their unbelief is seen in Acts 7:52. What Stephen said caused them to be cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.
What a wonderful sight Stephen saw! The remaining verses show the effect this had upon the Council. We compared this with Matt.26:63-66. Note the reference to the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and the effect it had on the high priest. Stephen, like His Master (who was waiting to receive him), prayed for those who took his life.
The young man Saul, who was consenting to his death, never forgot Stephen’s martyrdom (see Acts 22:20).

—The Hebrews at Jerusalem in the Assembly had neglected certain widows and needy saints in the daily supply from the store provided by ” having all things in common,” and the selling of their possessions (Acts 4:32-35). Possibly the Grecian Jews (who hailed from Greece, speaking Greek) were viewed as strangers, seeing they came from Greece, and not from Jerusalem. Having received a complaint concerning this matter, the Apostles gave directions for seven men, full of the Spirit, to be appointed to deal with this matter, for it was not good for the Apostles to leave the ministry of the Word, and minister at tables. In Ex.18:13-23, Moses was advised by his father-in-law, Jethro, to place a portion of the burden of caring for the people on the shoulders of some other worthy men in the camp; and the principle is approved by Jehovah in Num.11. when Moses is bidden to choose 70 elders to bear with him the burden of the people. [It is not the same thing in Ex.18. and Num.11., though the principle of spreading responsibility and service is the same.—A.T.D.].
We now pass on to Stephen being wrongly accused, and we are led to think of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt.26:59), who was likewise falsely accused and witnessed against. Truly, Stephen knew some¬thing ” of the fellowship of His sufferings,” and we were attracted by the thought of the Blessed One, who rose from the dead and is seated at God’s right hand, standing (Acts 7:55-56), viewing the death of His faithful witness and servant, Stephen, as though to testify to having seen and approved of his witness-bearing, and in condemnation of those men who “stoned Stephen, calling upon God.”
Wm. W.

—The adversary having signally failed from the outside now encouraged inside disruption. Yet once again God brings good out of apparent evil, and orderly arrangement is established to meet present difficulties and that to the glory of God. We get a beautiful example of true fellowship and subjection in verse 3. The most needful things are prayer and ministry of the Word. The great wonders and signs done by Stephen bring him into prominence. Representatives of the different schools of the Jews seek occasion against him. This gives him a wonderful opportunity of testifying to the leaders of Israel, in which is shown his wonderful character, and knowledge of the sacred writings. It has been suggested that this was probably the last offer of God to Israel as a nation. He gives a powerful refutation to the charges brought against him, as he cites the fathers and leaders to whom God spoke—a believing Abraham, a suffering saviour in Joseph, a deliverer in Moses, a king in Solomon; these all showed the coming of the Righteous One.

—The number of disciples was multiplying, necessitating increased care and administration. The work of serving tables, however, the Apostles say could be put into the hands of other approved men, and they lay down a right foundation for the choice of these men, for they must be of good report, full of the Spirit and of wisdom. The principle of choosing lies at the foundation of the appointment of any in the House of God, for the words of both 1 Tim.3 and Tit.1 give qualification of no low order. [The responsibility of looking out men, of the character which the Apostles describe, by the multitude of the disciples, so that these men might serve tables, must be viewed in the peculiar circumstances in which the Apostles take this mode of action. A serious state of things exists; murmuring is breaking out amongst a section of God’s people which, unless wisely handled, may be much more serious than the coveting of Ananias and Sapphira. All must have full confidence in the men chosen. The Apostles seem the most likely persons to administer the supplies to the needy, but they have a higher service on hand, so they lay the responsibility of looking out of men on the disciples, so that if all agree in the choice of the men they cannot quickly take exception to their work. In the higher realm of rule and deacon-work in spiritual things, as seen in 1 Tim.3. and Tit.1., there is no thought of the disciples choosing overseers or deacons. 1 Tim.3:10 says, ” Let these also first be proved.” ” Also ” shows that the overseers have to be proved as well as the deacons. Proved by whom? Proved by such persons as are Timothy-like, persons who are in the responsible position of being overseers. The original word for ” look ye out ” in Acts 6:3 is the same word, though in another form, as the original word for overseer, so that the multitude for the time being, and in the peculiar circumstances had to do what is the normal responsibility of overseers.— J.M.].
They chose or appointed seven deacons; that is ministrants, or servants; and the Apostles signified their approval and fellowship by the laying on of hands.
From verse 8 forward, Stephen is particularly brought before us. He wrought great wonders and signs, and a mixed congregation of people held him in dispute. But they could not withstand the wisdom by which he spake, because of the Holy Spirit’s power which indwelt him. They were losing the battle as it were, and stoop to lying, making false accusations, which stirred up the people against him, so that, assisted by the elders and scribes, he is arrested and brought before the council. As the Council gazed upon him they saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.
In Acts 7:1-50, he gives account of the reason of the hope within him; he relates in accurate detail the dealings of God with the fathers, and then from Acts 7:51 to 53, with assurance and calmness, undeterred by anything that might result, he unfolds to those self-righteous men their condition. He charged them with being betrayers and murderers of the Righteous One. They were cut to the heart, and gnashed on him with their teeth. But during this great trial the heaven was opened, and he saw Jesus standing on the right hand of God. He tells them what he had seen, and they lay hold upon him in united action, take him outside the city, and stone him to death. This is a touching scene, and as we think of the words of Stephen ere he fell asleep, ” Lord, lay not this sin to their charge,” we are reminded of the words of the Lord Jesus who said, ” Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Finding, following, struggling, keeping,
Is He sure to bless?
Saints, Apostles, Prophets, Martyrs,
Answer: Yes.
I. S., S. H., W. C.

—Must I be carried to the skies On flowery beds of ease, While others fight to win the prize, And sail through bloody seas? Such words came forcibly to our hearts and minds as we meditated on this portion. Stephen was certainly true to his Lord and Master, also a man who cared for the things of God, though his name is not mentioned in the Scriptures until he was approved by the twelve Apostles and the disciples. It needed men of ” good report,” full of the Spirit and of Wisdom, for the Grecian Jews arose against the Hebrew Jews concerning their widows being neglected in daily ministration. The heart’s desire of the Apostles was that the word of God should not be forsaken to serve tables. We pray that we may stand and not forsake the word, but rather preach the good tidings, and teach the mind and will of God, for God desires all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim.2:4).
From Acts 6:6, we thought of the lovely way in which they acted after prayer through the Lord Jesus Christ. What a lesson for us to learn to consult our God whenever we intend to do anything for Him!
Then the work went on and blessing from God was granted unto them, for a great company of the priests believed and were obedient to the faith. It is blessed to be born-again, but more blessed to be in the faith (see Jude 1:3).
Now God began to use (or work through) Stephen, and the Libertines, etc., marvelled at the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spake. So God can use us to cause the people of to-day to marvel, if only we be faithful to Him and His Christ. Stephen began his address in answer to the charge of blasphemy, with his face as it had been the face of an angel, and he gave them a brief history of God’s dealings with the children of Israel, summing up with accusations of rebellion, resistance to the Holy Spirit, and of being betrayers and murderers of the Righteous One.
These accusations caused them to gnash their teeth, and they cast him out of the city, and stoned him to death.
We thought of the new commandment to love one another, and to love our enemies, for Stephen without doubt did love them in spite of their doings to him. Well might it be put on record: Stephen was ” full of grace.” ” Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” Then he fell asleep, to be with the Lord, as a good and faithful servant. See Matt.26:59-60, and Lk.23:34. So we close in shame for the little we do for our Lord and Mister and how we fear betimes to stand for Him. “Lord, increase our faith!”
A. L., F. H.

—The influx of disciples into the church at Jerusalem brought with it ever-increasing responsibilities, necessitating the setting up of Divine ordinances, or appointments, for the orderly conduct of the ever-growing community. Such order ought to exist in every church (1 Tim.3:8-16). [See remarks in the paper of Atherton and Leigh.]. He who brought Israel out of Egypt, guided them like a flock, ordered in all things as to their marching and encamping, with the Priests, Levites, Princes, and Judges, each and all in their divinely-appointed sphere; an example for the time now present (see Heb.9:9). So appointments were necessary that the murmurings that began to be manifest amongst them might cease, and that the Apostles might devote their time exclusively to prayer and the ministry of the Word. The funds that had accumulated from the sale of lands and possessions were used by these appointed ” seven men,” with the attendant result that the Word of the Lord increased, and disciples also.
Some here thought that the term ” Grecian Jews ” signified that they were proselytes; that is, Gentiles who were converted to Judaism; but it is more likely that they were Jews who had been born and educated in land adjacent to Palestine, who spoke the Greek language, which at that time was the vulgar tongue of countries near Palestine. The Hebrews, no doubt, were Jews who had been born and educated in the land, and spoke the Hebrew language (see also Acts 2:5-12). The latter would probably be in the majority, and the Grecians may have thought that they (the Hebrews) were receiving more than an equal share of the daily supplies. The Adversary, taking advantage of the thought, moved them to murmur against the brethren (sec Phil.2:14-16, and 1 Cor.10:10-11). Then we get the calling of the multitude together, and the placing upon them the responsibility of choosing men whom the Apostles might set over this business. The multitudes set the men mentioned before the Apostles, who prayed and laid hands upon them. Thus we observe two distinct branches of service, the ministry of the Word and the ministry to tables, although later events prove that these men were by no means confined to this work, Stephen and Philip, at least, being also ministers of the Word.
But clouds were gathering fast, a prelude to an approaching storm, soon to break upon them. Just notice the trend of events. Chapter 4. tells us of the threatening by the Rulers of Israel (no violence this time), and the forbidding to speak in the Name of Jesus Christ. Chapter 6. tells us of the Council administering a beating (they now resort to violence) and once more charging them to cease preaching Jesus Christ. Now comes open warfare. These Rulers determined that the mouths of the Apostles should no more speak that ” Name.” So we get the Libertines (these probably were at one time Jewish slaves who had been granted freedom by royal decree), Cyrenians, Alexandrians, Cilicians and Asiatics who disputed with Stephen. The Alexandrians had the reputation of being able, scholarly men, for contemporary history tells us that they were a great and flourishing school, having many able protagonists of their doctrines. Even these men, as verse 10 tells us, ” were not able to withstand the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spake.” They seized Stephen and brought him to the Council and hired men to bear false witness against him, who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.” What Stephen’s thoughts were in the face of such a charge were reflected in his face, for all the Council saw his face as the face of an angel (see Eccles.8:1). He brings before them points from Israel’s history, some of which they had no wish to be reminded of. Beginning with the call of Abraham, he shows that he fully believes in the Divine Origin of their religion, the Divine appointment of Moses, of the Mosaic Law and institutions and the temple as being the House of God; but he also shows that ” the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands ” (see also Acts 17:24.) His marvellous and concise summing up of his address is given us in verses 51-53. It is inscribed indelibly on the page of Holy Scripture: ” Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do ye.” It was the beginning of the end; their rage now became ungovernable, and when Stephen spake these words, ” I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God,” the storm burst, and they cast out and stoned Stephen, the first martyr, for the testimony of Jesus Christ. His last words give us some idea of How like his Master he was:—” Lay not this sin to their charge.” The Lord Jesus could say at Calvary, ” Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” How long suffering, how great must be the love of God for the guilty rebels of the sons of men! See Eccles.3:16,17,18. We tread lightly as we leave this scene. ” Stephen fell asleep.” Safe in the arms of Jesus, Safe on His gentle breast, There by His love o’ershadowed, Sweetly his soul doth rest.

—The jibe urged against the church on the ground of lack of practical work is shown to be wrong here. We have the very practical matter of what might be called the institution of widows’ pensions. From 1 Tim.5:9 we see that a definite roll was kept, with the minimum age limit of sixty. It was conditional, too, as we see from the context.
Considering Stephen’s address as a whole, we find in it the longest verbatim report of any address in the Bible. Faith and fanaticism are shown in conflict. Stephen does not defend himself, he defends the Christian faith. He traces back to Abraham the man, and on to Israel the nation. He points out that the coming of the Lord Jesus was no isolated independent act, but the consummation of God’s purposes.

—We have seen the number of the disciples multiply, from one hundred and twenty to multitudes, how that the Word was spoken in much affliction, and with consequent blessing; but dogging this wonderful work is that master-mind, Satan, with a very subtle manner. Outside opposition is to be expected, but inside he used two tools in Ananias and Sapphira, causing judgment to begin at the House of God (1 Pet.4:17), but in this the Adversary was defeated, for fear came upon the whole church. However, a fresh crisis arises, and in a very small way. Insignificant as it may now appear, it was Satan seeking again to insert the thin end of the wedge, but it revealed that God has always the man or men necessary when needed and we find seven men appointed. Ministering ones should be proved and recognised by the assembly, for the work for which they are gifted, for it is through their serving in this manner that they gain to themselves a good degree and great boldness in the faith (1 Tim.3:13). We noted the men appointed must be of good report. The lessons we gather are (1) that as young ones we must serve and be in subjection; (2) the opportunities will arise when that which we learnt as young men will be needed in the service of God in what appears to be very critical moments, and then He will not forget the work of faith, and labour of love done, but will add His blessing. Thus it was with Stephen, the first Christian martyr, and the happiness of his service was to be seen in the joy he had in witnessing for his Master before the Council, for the members gazed steadfastly on his face, seeing it as it were the face of an angel. What a testimony to them, and how condemning! We wonder what Gamaliel thought if he was present. We felt that he was not far from the kingdom, when he previously advised the Council to refrain from the men. Stephen’s face and witnessing testified to that inward fellowship between his soul and the Lord; because of that, he faltered not in the day of adversity. Oh, for the living desire to cultivate fellowship with the Lord, then for our roots to grow downward, taking firm grip in His rich pastures! (Ps.1.).
“I heard the call—come follow!
That’s all.
Earth’s joys grew dim,
My soul went after Him,
I rose and followed—
That’s all.”
May we have grace to continue in that call.

—With the ever-increasing numbers being added to the disciples, came the increased responsibility of the Apostles. At a time when they had all things common, and the need of each was met as it became known, it is sad to think that some should have been neglected. We are sure, however, that they were unwittingly, rather than culpably, neglected. It seems strange that the com¬plaints were lodged by one particular part—the Grecian Jews. The time had now definitely arrived when certain work, which was apparently done by the Apostles, should be transferred to others. They must have a free hand in ministering the Word, and not be fettered with the temporal needs of the multitude. The work of distributing to the needs of these widows, we take it, would need a great amount of wisdom and discernment. It was not a thing which men could do in a haphazard manner, and moreover, the wherewithal to meet the need was the property of the church. So it was needful for men of high character and ability to be chosen to do this service of tables. In passing, the thought of ” serving tables ” is very often given a wide meaning, and is made to include all work of a general nature appertaining to the assembly. Would we be right in suggesting that to serve tables is principally in connection with the money matters of the Assembly? [To serve tables is here contrasted with the ministry of the Word. The one kind of deacon-work is connected with material things, and the other with spiritual; the one is ministry to the body, and the other to the soul. To minister to tables is to supply the natural need of the needy, which may be very important in its place, but it can never take the place of the higher—the application of the word of God to the hearts of men.—J.M.].
The men to be chosen for the work were to be men of good report, full of the Spirit and wisdom, and the manner of their choice proved to us interesting. How were they chosen? Two suggestions are put forward.
The multitude are gathered together and are told by the Apostles ” Look ye out . . . from among yourselves.” This would appear to suggest that the assembly as a whole partook in the business of nominating these men. This would entail a principle of voting in order to make the choice. Alternatively, it is suggested that the multitude would in all probability be guided in the matter. Those who sought to guide among them would suggest the names of capable men and these would be brought before the people in an orderly way, and, no objections being raised, they would be duly brought before the Apostles. We would value suggestions on this matter. [See notes in the papers from Paisley and from Atherton and Leigh. There is no suggestion that the seven men were voted on.—J.M.].
The men chosen would undoubtedly be men who were prominent in the exercises of the Assembly, men whose voices were often heard in the proclamation of the word of God. This is shown in Stephen who was mighty in the Scriptures and was a highly-gifted man. He quickly came into conflict with the people, but they were not able to withstand his wisdom. Then they suborned men to bear false witness and charge him with blasphemy. They were successful in procuring his arrest and he was brought before the Council. As he makes his defence we marvel at his eloquence. How familiar he is with their history! Point after point is brought before them, how their fathers refused this one and that one; how they turned from God to idols. He makes thrust after thrust until he brings home with terrific force the culminating point of his theme—” As your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? and killed them which showed before the coming of the Righteous One; of whom ye have now become betrayers and murderers.”
Their rage knew no bounds. They rushed upon him, having stopped their ears, lest they should hear their own condemnation, and having cast him out of the city they stoned him. How like his Master he was! Following Him in those lovely traits which made His life so beautiful, imparted to his death an honour which none can express. “Father, forgive them” were the words of the Master. ” Lord, lay not this sin to their charge,” fell from the lips of the servant. How blessed it is to emulate the example of Him who left us an example that we should follow His steps!
J. McC.

—The multiplying of the disciples, when considered in the light of the opposition, illustrates the truth of the words in Acts 5:39: ” If it is of God, ye will not be able to overthrow them.” A murmuring of the Grecian Jews calls for action to be taken by the twelve. They ask the multitude to choose out seven men without delay, to deal with the business. Note the words of 1 Tim.3:10, ” Let these also first be proved, then let them serve as deacons,” which contain a valuable lesson to all young men who are reaching out to serve with whatever talent they possess. Stephen heads the number of those chosen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit. We are reminded of the words of Prov.18:16: ” A man’s gift maketh room for him …” The one who had considered Job, God’s servant, in a past day, has his eye on Stephen, and we may be well assured that any who are active for God will meet with opposition. At length Stephen is arraigned before the Council where false witnesses accuse him unjustly. The light of the face of Stephen showed he was a man who was living in the presence of God, and that he was reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord (2 Cor.3:18). From Stephen’s defence it is self-evident that his mind was fully stored with the Sacred Writings. To be similarly used, we must be like Job of old, who treasured up the words of His (God’s) mouth more than his necessary food (Job 23:12). Stephen, after showing the rebellion of Israel, brings his points to a climax when, referring to the Righteous One, he adds, ” Of whom ye have now become betrayers and murderers; ye who received the law . . . and kept it not.” Cut to the heart by his statements, they gnashed on him with their teeth. But Stephen looking steadfastly into heaven saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. His last words, ere departing this scene, are ” Lord, lay not this sin to their charge,” so like the blessed Lord Jesus Himself. In his life, like the Lord, he answered his accusers with “It is written,” and in his death he manifested the spirit of forgiveness.
W. Y., A. T.

—As we read this chapter, we are conscious of how much of the Old Testament is contained in the New.
Stephen covers much ground, from the call of Abram in Gen.11. to the building of the House of God by Solomon in 1 Kgs.6.—8 He also quotes from Isa.66. and Amos 5. which bears out the scripture in 2 Pet.1:20, that ” no prophecy of scripture is of private interpretation.” Though many men of eminence to-day are seeking to destroy much of the Old Testament, we ought to take courage from such a chapter as this.
In the latter part of chapter 6. we read of those who were not able to withstand the wisdom and the Spirit by which Stephen spake, and they suborned men to bear false witness against him. Chapter 7. opens with the question from the High Priest, “Are these things so? ” to which Stephen replies, bearing true and faithful witness.
He relates to them their history which shows how Israel as a nation had, all along, been professedly serving God, whilst in their hearts they were far from Him. The scriptures quoted (Isa.66. and Amos 5.) are two of the many examples which could have been cited to bear this out. They continually resisted the Holy Spirit.
Their fathers persecuted and slew the prophets which spake of the coming of the Just One. They were worse than their fathers, for they had slain the Just One Himself, becoming murderers—they who made their boast in the Law, which commanded, ” Thou shall not kill.”
Instead of being repentant upon hearing what Stephen spake, as were those whom Peter addressed in Acts 2. (who were ” pricked to the heart”), these people were “cut to the heart,” and gnashed upon Stephen with their teeth.
The climax came when Stephen said he saw the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God. This was another testimony to the resurrection, which would be deeply resented, especially by the High Priest and his party, the Sadducees. They ran upon him, stopping their ears, and casting him out of the city they stoned him.
The dying words of Stephen are very similar to those of the Lord Jesus. The Lord said, ” Father, forgive them.” Stephen says, ” Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.”

—The rapid growth of the Fellowship of the Son of God entailed not only the need of boldness to testify to great and small, but those virtues spoken of the great David—”integrity of heart,” and ” skilfulness of hands ” to guide, shepherd, feed, rule, and bring under subjection to Christ those varied spirits, and so the Holy Spirit ” gave some to be apostles . . . prophets . . . teachers . . . for perfecting . . . unto building up ” (Eph.4:11,12; 1 Cor.12:28), that as a people together they might express the Kingdom of God. For this cause the Lord carefully instructed the Apostles ere His ascension to glory (Acts 1:3). Little wonder that in such strenuous days, needs of some were overlooked. Many of those early disciples had been rendered destitute by their confession of Jesus as Lord, and so the hearts of some of His stewards He touched, leading them to bring freely their gifts, and to lay them at the Apostles’ feet for ministration as required.
There does not appear to have been any recognised circle of overseers as yet, but seven were chosen, men of good report, to take control of this extensive daily service to the poor. The Apostles prayed, and as a true token of fellowship laid their hands on them.
It was comely that the Apostles should devote their whole time to the spiritual matters of feeding the flock. Never were there so many lambs, and never were they better cared for. The Lord prepared for them a table in the presence of their enemies. Urgently they must be given the sincere milk of the word, for sure and sturdy growth, because very soon they would be scattered by persecution, nor would they each carry away a copy of the Scriptures for their daily use.
Here Stephen’s name is introduced, and from the first mention of it, the very highest tributes are paid. To what extent his graces may become ours is worth our exercise.
The first two are given in Acts 6:5, ” Full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.” In Acts 6:8, ” Full of grace and power.” In Acts 6:10 we read of his wisdom and the Spirit by which he spake. Finally we are told that his face was angel-like as he calmly stood before the council.
We imagine how zealously such a man would labour both amongst the people publicly, and amongst the multitude of the disciples in a more private way, winning their hearts from the weak and beggarly things to Christ, the Substance of all the shadows. We expect that it was in this latter service worthless men crept in, and having heard his teaching were suborned by the enemies and acted falsely as witnesses against Stephen.
Being brought before the Council of the Jews, serious charges were placed against Stephen, and in calm deliberate tones, unconcerned about his life, not counting it dear to himself, he, used by the Holy Spirit, spoke living, active words into their hardened, cruel hearts. Filled with rage and madness they hurried this faithful servant, this holy man of God, outside their city, and added to their heavy burden of guilt.
We note that this was one of the occasions when direct prayer was addressed to the Lord Jesus, showing that in private exercises at any rate this mode of address is perfectly scriptural.
Stephen’s wonderful address or defence shows how careful he had been to grasp the Scriptures and thus with exactness and power he was able to handle them.
H. B.


Why did Stephen use the term ” Son of Man ” when he beheld Jesus standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:56)?
ANSWER.—No doubt he is guided to say this by the Holy Spirit. A Man at the right hand of God was what the Jews refused to believe and this Man the despised Son of Man from Nazareth. Had he said the Son of God, this might have conveyed the thought of a celestial being, but the Son of Man signified one Person, Him in whom Stephen believed and whom they denied.—J.M.

(1) Was Ananias an Apostle?
ANSWER.—I presume this is the Ananias of Damascus (Acts 9.). No, he was not an Apostle. Note Acts 8:1, “except the Apostles.” The Apostles all remained in Jerusalem.—J.M.
(2) When did the laying on of hands cease?
ANSWER.—I do not think it ever did cease amongst God’s gathered people, or that it should have ceased. It is one of the foundational things, one of the first principles of Christ (see Heb.6.). It signifies identification-with, and though it may not be literally practised, yet in effect hands are repeatedly laid on persons who are given responsibility in the work of God.—J.M.
(3) Was the power of the giving of the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands confined to the Apostles?
ANSWER.—We read of no others save the Apostles who acted thus, and the Acts of the Apostles in this way were in exceptional circumstances. There is no need to lay hands on persons so that they may receive the Spirit when all believers (from Acts 10.) receive the Holy Spirit when they believe. The case of John’s disciples in Acts 19. is exceptional.—J.M.

The 20th Century New Testament reads—” And so Jacob went down into Egypt, there he died, and our ancestors too, and their bodies were removed to Shechem, and were laid in the tomb which Abraham had bought for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.” Is this correct? Does it imply that the bodies of the patriarchs were carried into Canaan along with Joseph’s bones?
ANSWER.—This is what the RV says, too, about the bodies of the patriarchs, that not only were the bones of Joseph brought up by Moses (Ex.13:19), in fulfilment of the oath Joseph made the children to swear, but all the patriarchs were brought up; I presume at the time of the Exodus. We had not known this except through Stephen. Jacob, of course, was brought up earlier (see Gen.50.) and he was not buried in Shechem, but in Machpelah where were also buried Abraham and Isaac and their wives.—J.M.

What was Stephen, a Hebrew Jew or a Grecian Jew?
ANSWER.—I know of no scripture which would guide us to determine with certainty either way, but looking at the names of the seven chosen they seem all to be Hellenistic, and if they were all Hellenists, the wisdom of the choice of such men who were also ” of good report, full of the Spirit and of wisdom,” is not difficult to see.—J.M.


—The difficulty that arose concerning the widows did not seem to hinder in any way the progress of the gospel. The Apostles could not stop their work of spreading the word. We notice, however, the God-given qualifications of those who were chosen to do this work of ministering material things; among these is that remarkable man Stephen. He appears to have been a man well-learned and versed in the Old Testament Scriptures; this, along with his other qualifications and willingness, makes him a man able to speak for God in the power of the Holy Spirit, and we see also that signs accompanied his preaching.
His career was exceedingly short and through false accusation he was robbed by the Adversary of his opportunity to witness for Christ.
Stephen had a wonderful grasp of Old Testament history, and beginning at Abraham he cites accurately God’s way with men, testifying to the truth of that day and this. He knew, too, how to apply the inspired writings to his hearers. Such knowledge, of course, found its full expression in his defence, but it kindled the fires of bitter hatred against him, and ere he finished his discourse they were determined to take his life. We cannot but think of the words written by the Apostle to Timothy, ” Study to show thyself approved unto God,” etc. Stephen had not simply read the Scriptures, but he had studied them accurately.
The historical facts set forth arc absolutely accurate with one apparent exception concerning the souls that went down into Egypt, differing in number as compared with the record of the Old Testament. Some of us thought that his quotation might be right. Perhaps we shall have this better explained by another Corner. [This was dealt with in last year’s study of Genesis. Stephen says that all the kindred of Joseph who came to Egypt were 75. Moses says in Ex.1. that all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were 70 souls. Genesis 46:26 says that all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob that came with him were 66; to this number must be added Joseph and his sons, making 3; who is the other to make the 70? See last year’s volume.—J.M.].
W. W. Cox.


—Stephen’s seemingly untimely end must have created a profound impression on the church. The}’ would recognise in his death a distinct loss. Doubtless he was a very valuable man, gifted of the Holy Spirit for the building up of the Body of Christ. Whilst Stephen was one highly esteemed among them, they could see in Saul of Tarsus one enlisted of the Devil, a man of tireless activity, who bent all his energies in seeking to destroy the Church of God. He ” laid waste the church ” in a great organised persecution against the disciples at Jerusalem. Satan was behind all this persecution, consistently with his policy of former occasions; the wholesale destruction of infants in the days of Moses, and at the birth of our Lord Jesus, are cases in point. But as he was frustrated in former days, so he was in the days of the early church. The scattering of the church by the Adversary resulted in his having a greater problem to face, since what had been localised at Jerusalem became a widespread movement, for those who were scattered went about preaching ” the Word,” and thus carried the light of the gospel far and wide. It is noteworthy that the Apostles were not scattered as the rest during these days of outflow from Jerusalem; they remained until the Fellow-ship took a more concrete form.
Amongst those who went preaching the Word was Philip, who went to Samaria, which was in keeping with the Lord’s words in Acts 1:8. Samaria gladly received the gospel, multitudes giving heed to the preaching of Philip, and there was much joy in Samaria as a result.
The Samaritans had long been amazed at the sorcery of one named Simon, but Simon himself believed and was baptised, being amazed by the great miracles wrought through Philip: so mightily grew the word of God, and prevailed.
When the Apostles heard the good news from Samaria, they sent to them Peter and John, for although the Samaritans had believed, and had also been baptised into the name of the Lord Jesus, they had not received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Peter and John prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, which was given when the Apostles laid their hands on them. In contrast to this we have the record of Acts 10:44 in the house of Cornelius, for ” while Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all them that heard the word.” This was before they were baptised, and apart from the laying on of hands.
Simon was greatly impressed by the fact that the Holy Spirit was given by the laying on of the Apostles’ hands. He desired the same power to be able to imitate the Apostles, and even offered money to obtain the gift of God. Peter rebuked him sternly for his error. After establishing the disciples in Samaria, the Apostles returned to Jerusalem, preaching on their way in many Samaritan villages.
Philip, who had been in the centre of the great revival in Samaria, was sent by the Lord from the scene of this great work to meet the man of Ethiopia in the solitude of the desert. What grace from God, to take His servant from the multitudes of Samaria, to minister the gospel to this solitary desert traveller! In the Ethiopian we see one who was feeling after God with desire to find Him. How gladly he received the truth of the gospel!

—This section opens with Saul consenting unto the death of Stephen (Acts 22:20). Saul was the leader of the persecution that arose at this time, and which continued, with unabated fury, with the result that many were imprisoned and many put to death. To this Saul testifies that he gave his ” vote against them ” (Acts .26:10).
Chapter 6:9-12 seems to indicate that what the Council did was the result of pressure brought to bear upon them by the different Jewish factions that were then together at Jerusalem.
After devout men had buried Stephen, Saul continued to lay waste and make havoc of the church (” laid waste ” suggests the action of a wild beast). Apparently the Sanhedrim had not the power to put to “death ” (Jn 18:31), yet they did so. We wonder how the words of Heb.10:28 would apply in the face of such circumstances. [Heb.10:28 shows what was Israel’s responsibility under the Law, but when they became a subject people to Gentile rule it is evident from the statement of the Jews in Jn 18. that this power to carry out the judgments of the Law was curtailed, though Stephen’s case is quite the reverse of what they said to Pilate.—J.M.]. Would not Matt.11:12,13, have an application here? [I do not think so. In what sense could the persecution of the disciples be the taking of the Kingdom of Heaven? The explanation of Matt.11:12, 13, is to be found in another direction.—J.M.].
The persecuted went out weeping, bearing the precious seed. Philip, afterwards called the Evangelist (Acts 21:8) went down to A City of Samaria (Moffatt’s Translation). The seed soon brought forth much fruit. And there was great joy in that city. It is evident the disciples had more liberty in heralding the glad tidings here than in Jerusalem. It must have been good news indeed to the Apostles at Jerusalem to hear of the work of the Lord in Samaria, that, after years of enmity and rivalry, the Jew and the Samaritan could forsake the old paths and dwell together in that which was acceptable to God, through Jesus Christ. The laying on of hands by Peter and John shows their identification with and approval of that work through Philip.
The closing of this chapter relates how Philip is led away from this scene of joy. God had another work for him, and it is a matter of history how the Eunuch of Ethiopia received the gospel through the lips of Philip and through Isaiah’s words. There is only one Name; the past, the present, and the future shall know no other!

—In the opening portion of this chapter, we have recorded one of Satan’s blunders; he thought he had achieved a masterstroke in breaking up the church at Jerusalem, but the scattering abroad aided the spread of the gospel. In verse 4 we see the extension of the gospel field (refer Acts 1:8).
It was suggested with reference to Saul that the goads began to prick (Acts 26:14) on the day Stephen died, and like the young oxen, the more he kicked the more the goads pricked. In this chapter (verse 3) we see the evidence of his kicking.
The question was asked, “Was Simon a saved man? ” We think there is no doubt about this in the light of Acts 8:13. Before his conversion Simon was a very subtle man; he had contact with the powers of darkness and had influence over the people. After his conversion he was anxious to have the power he saw Peter and John exercising. In Acts 8:22, Peter says, ” Pray the Lord,” and we suggest these words are never spoken to an unsaved man.
Acts 8:32-33. It was noticed that there is a difference between the verses quoted and the O.T. reference. The words ” sheep ” and ” Iamb ” are transposed and there are several minor differences. It was pointed out that the Eunuch was reading the Septuagint version of the Scriptures which we believe had many such variations in it. Yet here we can trace the care of God over His word, for the sense is preserved and it was still God’s word, its power being manifested in the conversion of the Eunuch.
G. E. S.

—The final rejection of the counsel of God by the Jews is seen in the stoning of Stephen. Now we find the person of Saul of Tarsus brought before our minds. He was zealous, though not according to knowledge, but when the true light dawned upon him we find him in a foremost place. He, who as a young man advanced beyond many of his own age in the Jewish religion and tradition of the fathers (Gal.1.), stood with burning zeal consenting to the death of Stephen, and from that day was ringleader in that bitter persecution against the church in Jerusalem, persecuting the disciples unto foreign cities. He had yet to learn, however, the indissoluble link which exists between the Head and the members. The scattering of the disciples was of God, we feel confident, from the rich blessing that followed. There was much joy in Samaria. Simon the sorcerer was. converted. Philip, acting in fellowship with the Apostolic circle, was. joined by Peter and John, who, after praying, laid their hands upon the Samaritans, who then received the Holy Spirit, which action seems in contrast to what we find in Acts 2., when the Jews are the recipients of God’s saving grace. The explanation lies, perhaps, in the words of the Lord Jesus to the Samaritan woman in Jn 4.: ” Salvation is from the Jews.” In Samaritan eyes the Jews were despised [Whilst this may be so we should not overlook the import of what John says, ” For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.” The Samaritans were certainly despised by the Jews. The opprobrious remark they made about the Lord reveals in what contempt they held the Samaritans: ” Say we not well that Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a demon? ” (Jn 8:48).—J.M.] and Samaritan believers had to acknowledge the fact that to the Jews were the oracles of God entrusted, and upon the Jews the Holy Spirit fell, whereas Samaritans received the Spirit by laying on of hands. The case of Simon, to us, appears to be one in which his life for God in this world was jeopardized, and not eternal life, for we doubt not that he was a believer, who, in a moment of fleshly exultation, desired to have the gift of God with money. In confirmation of this thought it is interesting to note the sincerity of his request that none of the things which Peter said might come upon him. Philip, who has been working in scenes of much joy, is commanded to go to Gaza and there he meets a man, a eunuch of great authority in Ethiopia, whose heart is turned toward the God of Israel, so that he journeyed to the City of Jehovah’s Glory and he was returning in his chariot. He was wealthy, for he possessed a roll of the Old Testament Scriptures. It may be that it was the roll with Isaiah in it only, but Philip, beginning from this scripture, preached unto him Jesus. He believed and in perfect disciple-like spirit, he passed through the waters of baptism. The question arises—was the eunuch added? [What God has not revealed it is vain to conjecture, but we may be quite certain about this, that the will of God is that believers should be added together in the divinely-appointed way. It is as impossible for isolated saints living lives independent of others to carry out God’s will, as it was for an Israelite living apart by himself to do God’s will in a past dispensation. Jehovah, His temple and His feasts, had claims upon Israel which involved their dwelling together in unity, and so it is now, and so was God’s will for the Ethiopian eunuch, and he was baptized with a view to his walking in the path of a disciple.— J.M.]. He returned rejoicing, whereas Philip was caught away by the Spirit, and was found at Azotus.

—Samaria had a place in the heart of the Lord Jesus. Though despised by the Jews, the Lord includes it as a place to which the good tidings of the Kingdom of God shall be preached. The faithful testimony of the Apostles and Stephen in Jerusalem and Judaea is followed by the proclamation of the gospel in Samaria by Philip, and others who were scattered abroad in the persecution took the gospel still further afield.
It seems probable that this Philip was one of the seven men chosen by the church in Jerusalem (Acts 6.) and referred to as ” Philip the evangelist” in Acts 21:8, seeing that Philip the Apostle would remain with the twelve in Jerusalem.
That the Apostles were not scattered, like the rest of the church, would point to divine protection. They would be there together in the capital as the authority to which the churches could refer questions for decision (Acts 15:2) and for making known to the churches the will of the Lord as He had so commanded them (Matt.28:20, Acts 16:4).
This work of God in Samaria was very definitely connected with the work in Jerusalem, being done in full fellowship with the Apostles, and confirmed by the presence there of Peter and John. This contains a divine principle of all collective service for the Lord in the extension of the kingdom of God, of which further examples will be seen as we proceed in the Acts.
Simon Magus was one who loved self-exaltation, and by his sorceries had deceived the people into believing he was ” that power of God which is called great.” Now a power more than ” great,” even the gospel which is the power of God unto salvation, is received by the Samaritans, and even Simon himself is converted.
After Samaria, then “the uttermost parts of the earth.” Gradually, the barrier between Jew and Gentile was being broken down, and in the early stages of this work God is seen to be dealing first with certain individuals. Thus, in this chapter we have the record of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch, followed by Paul in the next chapter, and then by Peter and Cornelius.
The eunuch, a son of Ham, and probably a proselyte, is drawn to the God of Israel, and according to God’s promise, this seeking soul shall find, and this longing soul shall be satisfied. What he failed to find in Jerusalem, thronged with crowds of worshippers, he found in the desert, alone with the word of God and the servant of God.

—The four Gospels speak of the Lord’s life on earth, and His ministry to the Jews. After the Lord’s rejection another opportunity was given the nation of Israel of accepting Him as king, until the time of Stephen. [We must bear in mind, in thinking of the offer being made to Israel in the early chapters of the Acts, the Lord’s purpose in Matt.16, ” I will build My Church ” and His commission in Matt.28., ” Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations.” Had Israel repented they would have had to have been baptised and added as was the remnant of the nation in Acts 2., whereby Israel would have been reconstituted as God’s New Testament people to whom the Gentiles would have been joined in equal blessing and with equal privileges and all under new doctrine, not the Law of Moses, but the doctrine of the Apostles.— J.M.]. Acts 8:8: There is bound to be joy where the gospel is preached. Acts 8:9-13: This is the first conflict between Christianity and superstition. Simon believed and was baptised. Was he a true believer at verse 12 or not until Acts 8:24? [In verse 13, ” Simon also himself believed”; he was a true believer here, but later he was found in serious error, because he thought to obtain the gift of God with money. Serious error needs grievous correction and Peter’s words contain such correction.—J.M.]. Acts 8:14: Peter and John were sent down from Jerusalem to Samaria. The first thing they did after arriving they prayed, and their prayer was that the Holy Spirit should be given to those who believed in Samaria. On the way back they preached to the Samaritans before they came to Jerusalem. Philip, here spoken of, is one of the seven appointed in Acts 6. and not one of the twelve Apostles as recorded in the Gospels. For proof of this compare Acts 8:40 and Acts 21:8. Philip was sent to meet the Ethiopian eunuch in order that the gospel should go further afield, and be spread abroad to the Gentiles.

—”And Saul was consenting unto his death”; these few words describe the extent to which his hatred went towards those who called upon the name of the Lord. Yet, though he ” laid waste the church ” (verse 3), ” persecuted this way ” (chapter 22:4), ” persecuted the church of God ” (1 Cor.15:9), ” made havock of it ” (Gal.1:13), he did it ignorantly in unbelief. As he himself said later, ” I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth ” (26:9), and again, ” As touching zeal, persecuting the church ” (Phil.3:6). Like those of whom he wrote in Rom.10:2, he had a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. He was no respecter of persons, both men and women found small mercy at his hands, and the saints were scattered abroad throughout all Judaea and Samaria, except the Apostles.
It has been said that the company of disciples in Jerusalem was increasing with such rapidity that God allowed this persecution so that they might be scattered. The commission of the Lord to his disciples was, ” Ye shall be My witnesses in all Judaea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth ” (Acts 1:8). It was not therefore His will that they should be herded together in their thousands in one place, and herein was His word being fulfilled, that they that were scattered abroad went about preaching the word. Persecution does not usually close men’s mouths, and though men were committed to prison ” the word of God is not bound ” (2 Tim.2:9. See also Phil.1:14). So it was that Philip (whom we take to be the same as in Acts 6:5 and Acts 21:8) went down to Samaria, and preached unto them the Christ, and, as in all other cases where men come into contact by faith with the person of Christ, there was much joy.
The power of Simon over the people of Samaria was indeed great, but that was totally eclipsed when the kingdom of God was proclaimed to them. There seems to be a progression of thought here. First Philip proclaimed the Christ and there was joy, then the things concerning the kingdom of God, and they were baptised, which seems to suggest that in the good tidings of the kingdom there was more than the gospel.
Philip was not an independent worker. This is very evident from the fact that when the Apostles heard of his successful ministry they sent Peter and John. Here we see workers together. Philip could not be in the mind of God and out of harmony with those in Jerusalem.
It is perhaps important to notice that though these Samaritans had believed and been baptised they had not as yet received the Holy Spirit, which was given through the laying on of the hands of the Apostles. The same is the order in Acts 19:5-6. Baptism certainly had a very prominent place at the beginning of this dispensation in connection with the Jews, who were specially associated with the death of the Lord Jesus. The order, however, is changed in Acts 10:44-47, where those who believed were Gentiles, and we are safe in saying that this is the order to-day, whether for Jew or Gentile.

—Simultaneously with Stephen’s martyrdom there arose a strong wave of persecution against the church which was in Jerusalem. Saul, who had consented to Stephen’s death, is seen leading in this terrible persecution. Later, he said, ” Beyond measure I persecuted the church of God ” (Gal.1:13). ‘We learn from Acts 26:10 that he gave his vote against the disciples when they were put to death. Was Saul a member of the Sanhedrim? if so, was he a married man? [Paul had no wife when he wrote 1 Cor.(see 1 Cor.7:8, 1 Cor.9:5) and we know no more than this from the Scriptures. Evidently he was present when the council or Sanhedrim (Acts 6:15) heard Stephen’s defence; and he was in company with the members of the Sanhedrim when they cast Stephen out of the city and stoned him. He was at that time a young man. But it might be unsafe to conclude with certainty that he was one of the seventy elders of Israel and therefore was a married man, though the fact that he had a vote in cases where persons were being tried for their life seems to show that if he was not a member of the Sanhedrim he was one of a judicatory court.—J.M.], Satan’s attempt to frustrate the work of God resulted in carrying out God’s purpose, for we read, “They were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the Apostles,” also “They…went about preaching the word.”
“Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee!” (Ps.76.10).
We viewed Philip’s work in contrast to the work of Simon the sorcerer. Simon had given himself out to be some great one. Philip preached ” the Christ.” Simon had amazed and deceived the Samaritans. Philip’s message enlightened them and brought salvation. The Samaritans not only received the Christ, but in obedience to the word were baptised, and even Simon himself believed and was baptised, and continuing with Philip, beholding the signs, he was amazed.
In Acts 2. those who believed and were baptised received the gift of the Holy Spirit. We wondered why the Samaritans were made dependent on the prayers and laying on of the hands by the Apostles in order to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. [It will be remembered that the Samaritan woman said, ” Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship” (Jn 4:20). For long there had been competition between Mount Gerizim and Mount Zion as to the place of worship, but this must not exist in the new order of things, and the work in Jerusalem must be joined with that in Samaria, so God does not give the Holy Spirit till Peter and John come down from Jerusalem and by prayer and the laying on of the hands of the Apostles the Holy Spirit is given.
The peculiar circumstances required this mode of working, but this was exceptional, as Acts 10. shows something quite different when God is dealing with the Gentiles. The foregoing suggested explanation may give a reason why the Holy Spirit was given through the laying on of hands.—J.M.]. In connection with the house of Cornelius ” the Holy Spirit fell on all them which heard the word ” (Acts 10:44), and this was prior to their baptism (Acts 10:47). In Acts 19:1-7 we have the laying on of hands again: we would like some help, as to the meaning of the laying on of hands in relation to the receiving of the Holy Spirit.
Wonderful are the ways of God! Philip in the midst of a great work is taken away to speak to an individual. Despite the many disciples in Jerusalem, the eunuch seemed to be returning to Ethiopia, without having heard about the Christ. However, he is brought to the knowledge of Jesus as Saviour, and owns Him as Lord in his obedience to baptism. Like as joy came to the city of Samaria (verse 8), so this man went on his way rejoicing. We can learn many precious lessons from the dealings of the servants of God with individuals, and especially God’s greatest Servant, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philip seems to have settled in Caesarea (compare Acts 10:40 with Acts 21:8). SAMUEL S. JARDINE.

—Saul had consented (from Greek suneudokeo, which means ” to allow ” as in Lk.11:48) to the death of Stephen, and this was an event never to be forgotten. As the persecutor came to be persecuted, when he was within prison walls, and suffered the lash of those who opposed, we think that the sight of Stephen in his death would be very fresh to his mind. (See also 1 Tim.1:13).
It was thought that Acts 22:4 and Acts 26:10 showed that others suffered death besides Stephen in these persecutions. Moreover, Paul strove to make them blaspheme ” that Holy Name,” but we were unable to trace anything to give a definite answer to this question. From such cruelty the disciples fled, and they were all scattered abroad. This led to great results not only in Judaea and Samaria, but further afield. God was thus working out His own purposes. Despite this great persecution, the scattered Christians were steadfast in their testimony, for they went about preaching the word.
From Acts 8:5 forward, Philip, one of the seven chosen men of Acts 6., is brought before us. As the result of the persecution he wends his way to Samaria, ” and proclaimed unto them the Christ.” A slight difficulty was expressed here as to whether the Greek is A city of Samaria (Sychar?) or the city of Samaria. [Here textual critics differ, Lachmann and Tischendorf say it should be the city of Samaria. The A.V. and RV follow this. Samaria was both a city and a country. Till we know more about the use of the Greek definite article we shall do well to follow, generally speaking, our English Bibles.—J.M.]. If the former, there would be a happy link with the labours of the Master Himself as given in Jn 4. We judge that Philip, like Stephen, was a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit; he was no novice (compare Acts 6. and 1 Tim.3.).
The gospel was rejected in Jerusalem in the martyrdom of Stephen, and those of Samaria with one accord gave heed, hearing the words and seeing the signs which he did. (Compare Mk.16:20). [But after this there must have been many, many saved in Jerusalem. See what James said to Paul about myriads (ten thousands) that believed (Acts 21:20).—JM.]. We see that others beside the Apostles were endowed with the special gifts; which were bestowed to convince the unbelieving that this was from God Himself, and how needful was this in the light of what follows!
Simon the Sorcerer had got a great hold upon the people, but the supremacy of truth over error is seen. When the people of Samaria heard and believed the gospel they were freed to serve, this being evidenced by the fact of their baptism. So powerful was the word that even Simon was saved and baptised, but from subsequent events we are led to wonder, whether he was really saved, or when the hour of temptation came he was unable to resist, and so fell, bringing upon himself the denunciation of the Apostle Peter for his wrong doing. [The latter consideration is, we think, the correct one.—J.M.]
The good news concerning the work at Samaria brought Peter and John from Jerusalem, who prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. We discern from this, that while miraculous powers were conferred upon Philip, the power to impart the Holy Spirit was only vested in the Apostles (Acts 19:6: compare Deut.34:9). Is Simon an example of Matt.13:22? [I should say that his sin of seeking to buy the gift of God was even more serious than the choking of the word by the lust of worldly things, serious as that is.—J.M.].
Acts 8:26. Philip is instructed to take a southward journey towards Gaza. ” The same is desert “—it was asked, Do these words signify the kind of road or route upon which he would find the eunuch? It was said that the way was ” through the desert ” in contrast to passing through dwelling places. [The word desert means a solitary waste, an uninhabited place. I judge it refers to the kind of place “where he was to meet this great ma n of Ethiopia; Philip was to meet him in the lonely waste through which the road from Jerusalem to Gaza passed.—J.M.] Is the name ” Candace the Queen ” that of an individual or of a dynasty, like Pharaoh? The latter was thought to be right. [I judge Candace is a personal name and not a titular one.— J.M.]. The eunuch ponders, and tries to understand the meaning of ” Isaiah’s grand measure.” Philip opened his mouth and preached unto him Jesus. The eunuch lays hold upon the message, and spontaneously seeks to follow the One of whom he had been reading. He is baptised, then the Spirit of the Lord carries away Philip—-whilst the eunuch goes on his way rejoicing. Later Philip is found at Azotus and goes along preaching the word until he comes to Caesarea.
J. B., W. C.

—The Apostles of the Lord, for reasons not stated, remained at Jerusalem in spite of the fierce persecution which quickly scattered the saints. From this as a centre they may have intended to direct and organise the work with which they were entrusted, lending their help as occasion arose, as for instance Peter and John going down to Samaria to help Philip.
Saul, who had figured at Stephen’s death, bestirred himself in an endeavour to blot out the testimony of Jesus, and in his mad zeal he ” laid waste the church,” ” he made havock of it.” In this he excelled his fellows, as in other things he had done, and became the chief sinner, that Jesus Christ might shew His long suffering in him for an example (1 Tim.1:12-16).
The effort of Satan to overthrow the testimony was futile, for he did not reckon with the Spirit, and the grace which God had placed in men’s hearts, who having learned that they had here no abiding city were ready to forsake Jerusalem, and to go far afield preaching the good tidings of peace by Jesus Christ. Samaria received the word, and the work grew and extended so rapidly that in a very short time Damascus was reached.
Let us note that Philip preached the good tidings concerning the Kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ. This is a wide field for thought, and apart from some knowledge of the kingdom of God it would seem impossible truly to preach the gospel.
Philip’s task in Samaria was beyond human power to accomplish —-to convince men that the One who but a short time before trod their streets a poor despised peasant, had died since in shame upon a Roman cross, and was exalted at the right hand of Power; that He was Heaven’s King, and that He had all authority on earth: this was the work of the blessed Spirit, and having believed they were baptised, and then it was their privilege together to shew in miniature what the rule of Christ—the kingdom of God amongst men—resulted in. There was much joy in that city, for Christ was enthroned as Lord in many hearts.
It will be remembered how the Apostles would once have called down fire from heaven upon the Samaritans. Also at an earlier time it was not the Lord’s will that they should preach in their cities.
The point arises as to the gift of the Spirit by the laying on of hands. The rule in this dispensation is that on believing God the sinner is sealed, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit of promise, but in those early days mighty signs were wrought through men which afterwards ceased. When the Holy Spirit was given by the ” laying on of hands ” certain signs accompanied it (Acts 19:1-6), as in Acts 8:17-18 the change was visible–” When Simon saw.” Nevertheless the receiving cf the Spirit is as real to-day as then, and so is the word of the Lord spoken to Zerubbabel in a day of small things like our own: ” Not by might (an army), nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts.”
Acts 8:26. Here the Lord spake but few words to Philip; this affords instruction to servants of Christ: ” Arise, and go.” ” He arose and went.” ” Go near, and join thyself.” ” Philip ran to him.” We note the care that the Lord shews for individuals; no trouble or expense is too great when there is a willing soul. Rahab was such, and for her sake (and her house) the spies were sent into the closed city of Jericho at great risk. Again it was no chance that Paul and Silas were present in the prison when the jailor cried out in distress of soul. See also Phil.1:13. The Ethiopian eunuch had been seeking after God, and had journeyed far to reach Jerusalem. Under God’s care, and although there in a dark day so far as the teachers of Israel were concerned, he carried away a copy of the Sacred Writings and was drawn as by a magnet to Isaiah’s testimony. He proved to be a ready listener and learner and carried into his native land the word, and the story of his wonderful experience.
The circumstances of Philip in his work are rather different from what is usual in the New Testament, which was for the disciples to go two and two: Peter and John, Paul and Barnabas, etc.
There is much variety in the ways of God; He delights to take up weak things if there is true consecration of heart to His service, and this shines out in Philip; he would go anywhere and do any service,, at any time. (Jn 4:34).
H. B.

—The mention of Saul, here, shows him to be the champion of the Jewish opposition and ringleader of the great persecution, but the ravening wolf of Benjamin was limited in his-terrible work. God by his power and overruling keeps the Apostles from being scattered. It was imperative that they should be together, for from them was to emanate the doctrine and practice upon which the churches of the New Testament were to be built, which together formed the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3, Eph.2:20). In Acts 8:1-1-17 we see that God made the furtherance of the kingdom dependent upon fellowship with the Apostles. God in wisdom prepared for the need of future times. On the other hand the multitude of the disciples were scattered, doubtless in measure, by God’s overruling hand. The main purpose of the scattering was for blessing, though the disciples passed through the furnace of affliction. The adversary was defeated again; the mighty power of the gospel message Satan cannot frustrate, and never will. Whilst Israel is blinded by unbelief there is much joy in Samaria. The regions in which the scattered disciples are found preaching the word is in strict accord with the prophetic word of the Lord (Acts 1:8).
The case of Simon is another instance of the working of the adversary. The ready response of Samaria agrees with the narrative of Jn 4. very beautifully.
Then again the story of the eunuch is but the harbinger of yet greater things for Ethiopia. Compare Ps.68:31, etc.


—This chapter is one of the most interesting in the book of the Acts, as it gives us the conversion of ” Saul of Tarsus,” one destined to become the Apostle of the Gentiles. History was made that day on the Damascus road, and a change, unprecedented in all New Testament writings, took place. The disciples of the Lord were to receive no mercy, but were to be brought to Jerusalem, bound, to share the same fate as their brethren before them (Acts 22:4, and Acts 26:10). But before his mission was realised, his will was bowed, the authority and power with which he was invested became nothing to him, and he was led into Damascus, a blinded man. Evidently his companions had no further use for him, for, when they finally delivered him to Judas, they disappear from the story.
Chapter 9. gives the story of Saul’s conversion by the writers of the Acts, and as the writer was not an eye-witness of that which happened on the Damascus road, that may account for the seeming differences that present themselves as we compare this with ” Saul’s ” own account in Acts 22. and 26. The ” Light ” of chapter 9. is just the same ” Light ” described in chapters 22. and 26. This light, which Saul saw, reminds us of our own conversion. It is only in after years that we can, in some degree, realise how great it is; it never grows less.
” Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me,” contains not only a rebuke to Saul, but shows that the Lord was definitely joined with his disciples in what they were passing through. ” In every pang that rends the heart, the Man of Sorrows has a part.”
In trying circumstances it is well to remember that ” Lo, I am with you ” is ” to the end of the Age.” He is the same yesterday, to-day and for ever. Oh! that our faith might grasp this fact with stronger grip to make us a testimony worthy of the Name! It was suggested that the ” goads ” speak of Saul’s state of mind, that is to say, a conscience troubled by that which he had heard and seen:— the death of the Lord Jesus (2 Cor.5:16), the defence and stoning of Stephen, and the preaching of Philip. [It is too much to build on 2 Cor.5:16 to say that Paul either knew the Lord after the flesh or that he had seen Him die. Perhaps this is not what our friends mean as they use the words ” heard ” and ” seen.”—J.M.l. It would be impossible for a good conscience ” not to bear witness (Rom.2:15) to these works and speakings of God, and the fact that he was pricked in his heart shows that his conscience was good. [But a conscience may accuse; what kind of conscience is that?—J.M.]. The lion became the lamb, then the vessel of wrath was fitted to bear the precious treasure far and wide. Eventually, as a result, the church throughout Judaea and Galilee and Samaria had peace, and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit was multiplied (verse 31).
Soon afterwards he goes ” to Arabia ” where he received the gospel which he preached the remaining years of his life. There, we suggest, ” he conferred ” with the Lord Jesus Christ, for he neither received his gospel from man nor was taught it, but there in conference with the Lord it was revealed to Him (Gal.1). So, like the other Apostles of the Lord, Paul received the gospel message personally from the Lord. So complete was the revelation that the Apostles imparted nothing to him (see Gal.2:6). One gets the impression that, as a Nation, Israel never forgave Saul for forsaking the old paths, which, in self-will, they choose to tread. But Saul like Moses chose rather to suffer with the people of God. He counted everything as dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord.

—Paul’s conversion; first step toward salvation is repentance. Scales fell from his eyes: to be taken literally. Verse 15, a chosen vessel, to bear My name before king’s, etc. Felix, Festus, Agrippa, and Caesar Augustus; before these governors and kings he testified to the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. From Acts 9:19 we would gather that there was an assembly at Damascus. Probably immediately after this he went to Arabia (compare Gal.1:17). In Acts 9:31 we see one result of Paul’s conversion, viz., that the church had peace and was multiplied.

—Saul of Tarsus was one of those men full of life and energy, who, when they believe they are acting aright, let no obstacle stand in the way of accomplishing their ends. In recounting his activities at the time, Paul before Agrippa said, “Being exceedingly mad against them, 1 persecuted them even unto foreign cities ” (Acts 26:11). With this end in view we see him armed with the authority of the chief priests to go to Damascus, and there continue his persecuting activities.
How great therefore must have been his alarm when that light, above the brightness of the midday sun, shone round about him, and threw him to the ground; much more his surprise to hear a voice, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” From heaven he hears the voice of One he despised: ” I am Jesus.” From being the persecutor, he learned to suffer many things for the sake of the Name.
How often in the proclamation of the gospel there are those who hear a sound, but no more! Here it is the same. The men with Saul stood speechless, they saw the light, heard the sound, but they understood not. The message was for their leader.
Ananias had heard of Saul, and knew his errand, but this did not prevent him at his Lord’s bidding going to the house in which Saul was lodging. It is interesting to notice that the first act of the newly-converted one was prayer, and we feel assured that one thing he prayed for was his sight.
The words of the Lord Jesus to Ananias recorded in verse 15 shew the work to which Saul was being called. The mention of Gentiles, first, would seem to indicate that it was to them specially he was being sent (see further Rom.11:13 and Gal.1:16) and this was his burden throughout his ministry.
A perusal of Gal.1:15-17, would appear to suggest that about this time Saul went into Arabia and afterwards returned to Damascus. Would this take place between Acts 9:22,23? [The words of verse 23 cover the period which Paul spent in Arabia—” And when many days were fulfilled.”—J.M.”1. We are not told how long he was in Arabia. After three years he went up to Jerusalem. From what time did this date? Does it take us back to his conversion, or to his return to Damascus? [Paul is arguing out his case that the revelation he had did not come through man nor was he taught it. When he first received it he conferred not with flesh and blood, but he went into Arabia, then returned to Damascus and I take his meaning to be that after the Son of God was revealed to him—on the Damascus highway—which was three years previously, he went up to Jerusalem.— J.M.]. Again the Galatian scripture may not be a chronologically correct account of his movements, for he says, ” but other of the Apostles saw I none save James the Lord’s brother ” (Gal.1:19), while Acts 9:27-28 says, ” But Barnabas took him and brought him to the Apostles . . . And he was with them, etc.” We would like help on these points if possible. [Acts 9:21 seems to agree with what we find in Gal.1:21: ” Then I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia,” for the brethren in Jerusalem brought him to Caesarea and sent him forth to Tarsus. Concluding that the visit to Jerusalem of Gal.1:18,19, and Acts 9:26, is the same, the Apostles to whom Barnabas brought Paul were Peter and James, for it was with the special object of becoming acquainted with Peter that he took the journey to Jerusalem. Note the force of Acts 22:17, ” When I had returned to Jerusalem.—J.M.].
Then Saul went to his native land (Gal.1:21). This reminds us of Mk.5:19. He was not ashamed of the gospel.
” So the church . . . had peace, being edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, was multiplied.”

—This chapter records the conversion of the man who is destined to become the central figure in the narrative of the ” Acts of the Apostles.”
The few scanty details of the early life of Saul which are revealed to us, we find in his subsequent speeches and letters. He was a Jew born in Tarsus of Cilicia (Acts 22:3), ” A Hebrew of Hebrews ” (Phil.3:5), and yet a Roman, born citizen “of no mean city ” (Acts 21:39). He was of the tribe of Benjamin (Phil.3:5).
The only thing we are told of his father is that he was a Pharisee (Acts 23:6), which fact gives us some idea of the character of his early training. Away in Tarsus, far from the place of the Name, Saul would learn the wonderful history of the great nation to which he belonged.
When he took that first journey from Tarsus to Jerusalem he was a young man, most probably having learned his trade (Acts 18:3) before going to complete his education at the feet of the great Rabbi Gamaliel at Jerusalem (Acts 22:3).
Saul advanced in the Jews’ religion beyond many of his own age, as is testified in Gal.1:15 and Acts 26:4,5.
The name of Saul is first flashed upon us in the divine narrative at the stoning of Stephen. No doubt Saul listened to the wonderful defence of Stephen before the council. As he traced the familiar history of his people, of which Saul was so proud, he touched upon a line of truth which had no place in proud Pharisaical hearts. He traced the unbelief and rebellion so sadly characteristic of Israel from the very commencement of God’s dealing with them, summing up with those faithful words ” Ye stiff-necked, etc.” The day on which Stephen died was the first of a campaign of persecution against the church which was in Jerusalem, in which young Saul was the leading figure. Every house in the city was visited by him. and men, and even women, were committed to prison. The rigour of this persecution is best told in his own words in Acts 26. Saul was a member of the Jewish Sanhedrim. His words, ” I gave my vote against them ” seem to bear no other interpretation. We can gather from this the influential position to which he had risen. How truly could he afterwards say, ” If any man thinketh to have confidence in the flesh, I yet more ” (Phil.3:4). Saul now turns his attention to foreign cities with Damascus as his goal (Acts 9:1). Toiling on through midday heat, which seems to suggest his fervent haste—we know the rest of the story. That light out of heaven—that great light above the brightness of the sun—the zealous persecutor lying helpless upon the ground—that voice, “Saul, Saul,” that reply “Who art thou Lord? “, that wondrous revelation, ” I am Jesus “; surely the very last words he expected to hear. Never would Saul forget that moment, the beginning for him of that devoted life of service to the Lord Jesus Christ. Saul’s companions heard the sound, but the Lord’s words were heard only by Saul. We wonder what their thoughts were and whether they became disciples.
” I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision”, said Saul at a later date. In his endeavour to enter into the city he needs the aid of his companions. His three days of blindness and fasting were no doubt spent in prayer.
Was there a church of God in Damascus? [If there were no church in Damascus we have Paul preaching Christ in the synagogues before he is in the Fellowship. Why should he go to Damascus in hot haste if there was not something there of a collective character to destroy and scatter? Because of these and other considerations I conclude that there was an assembly in Damascus, but I would welcome the thoughts of others on this very interesting point.—J.M.]. ” The disciples ” is the expression used. This is also used in Acts 9:26 of the church in Jerusalem.
Ananias is the one chosen to take further instructions to Saul. His newly-found sight rests first upon one who, no doubt, would have been one of his victims. Ananias calls him ” Brother Saul ” and from henceforth Saul becomes united with that despised company of the disciples.
The order with Saul was sight—baptism—food—joining to the disciples. ” And straightway in the synagogues he proclaimed Jesus that He is the Son of God.”
With burning words he confounded the Jews. Such faithful testimony could not but arouse the antagonism of those who held the views that Saul contended so zealously for before his conversion.
The former persecutor now becomes the main object of prosecution; he barely escapes death at their hands.
It would appear, reading the Acts narrative alone, that the visit to Jerusalem of verse 26 took place immediately. Turning to Gal.1., however, this does not appear to be the case. Three years evidently elapsed before this visit.
Barnabas, that large-hearted man, previously mentioned in Acts 4., a true ” son of consolation,” is evidently also a judge of men.
Bitter opposition again sends Saul away to the city of his birth.

—Saul had consented to the death of Stephen and this evidently was only the commencement of a mad career against others who, like Stephen, had placed their faith in the crucified Messiah.
We marvel at the condescending grace of God. No wonder, indeed, that Saul afterwards took his place as the Chief of Sinners. He was before his conversion ” a persecutor, a blasphemer and injurious.” On hearing the voice of the Son of God, the lion becomes the lamb, so to speak, and others lead him instead of him leading them into Damascus. Those who were with Saul did not see the Lord as he saw Him. They apparently heard the voice (though of no value to them), showing that although the word be spoken to a number of persons at once, it may be the voice of God to one only in that company.
In his defence, in Acts 22., he states that they saw the light but heard not the voice of him that spake. Is this a discrepancy? [No, we think not. The case of the noun ” voice “, in Acts 9:4,7, is different in the Greek, but the difference cannot be indicated in English. However, the difference indicates that there was a difference in the nature of the hearing of Saul and of his companions. Acts 22:9 would indicate that Saul’s companions heard not and understood not the ACTUAL words of the message, but they were conscious of a sound around them.—Jas. M.].
We notice the effect of this light on Saul. It was above the brightness of the sun. That was divine light and not until this wondrous illuminating power reaches the dead sinner can he be saved. Surely faith in Christ is the only sure release from Satan’s power, because Saul was not only under the power and influence of Satan, but was also guilty before God concerning his sins. The gospel brings both light and liberty.
Saul’s past, of course, was at first a. hindrance, but God unfolded to Ananias and others that he was a chosen vessel to Himself to bear the message of salvation to the Gentiles. Ananias at once went as he had been commanded and received him as a brother, one for whom Christ died.
We note that he was baptised, and began his new career at We know he afterwards said, ” Woe is unto me, if I preach not the Gospel.” He was faithful to his appointment and was a mighty soldier of the cross of Christ. What, therefore, the Apostle saw and heard has been given to us that we may also direct others into the knowledge of Christ, not as Saviour only, but also as Lord.
W. W. Cox.
FROM ILFORD.—-Here we get a further portrait of Saul of Tarsus; in chapter 8. we noticed his ” kicking,” in this chapter we see his subjection to the ” power of the Name “—” I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest.”
The distance from Jerusalem to Damascus was about 140 miles, no light journey in those days, but Saul’s zeal was so great that he requested to be allowed to make the journey (verses 1 and 2).
We suggest that a better understanding of this chapter can be obtained by reading Gal.1. We learn there that Saul was separated even from his mother’s womb, and we see the grace of God, that picks out a man, like Saul, who in his blind, fanatical zeal was a blasphemer and injurious, and converts him into a whole-hearted, man for God. And what was it caused this change?—not a vision merely, but a sight of the Lord Himself (1 Cor.15:8).
Much discussion was caused by this question, ” At what point between Acts 9:19-26 does the visit of Saul to Arabia come in? ” Can we have help on this? [I judge that the visit to Arabia comes in at the time indicated in Acts 9:23.—” When many days were fulfilled.”— J.M.].
G. E. S.

—In reading Acts 9. we kept in remembrance what we had learned of Saul in chapter 8. Later he learned that his guilt in the stoning of Stephen was far greater than that of the actual murderers (Rom.1:32).
We suggest that Acts 9:1 implies a considerable interval between the death of Stephen, and Saul’s going to the high priest for authority to continue his work of persecution at Damascus. We thought of those words in Gen.49:27, ” Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf.” This characteristic seems to fit in with Paul, who boasted of being of the tribe of Benjamin. Please read Acts 26:9-11 also. However, the sudden out-shining of the light from heaven, as above the brightness of the sun, changed the whole life of Paul; a light was seen, a voice was heard, and he saw the Lord Jesus Christ. What a sight! Thanks be to God for the day when we by faith saw the Lord Jesus Christ, dying in our room and stead and as the Saviour of sinners.
” Saul ” heard his own name twice repeated: ” Saul, Saul, why persecutes! thou Me? ” Now he had to make a decision as to whether he was going to resist to the end or yield, saying, as it were, with Samuel, ” Speak, for Thy servant heareth.” And when God speaks to us it is ours to take heed. Xo doubt the voice appealed to Paul very much. We thought of those words, ” Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these My brethren, even these least, ye did it unto Me.” Saul’s request was, ” Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do? ” May these words grip our hearts and may we, too, repeat them with sincerity.
So Saul arose from the earth and was led by the hand to Damascus because he was blind. In this we would learn that when the Lord Jesus takes hold of us we should become blind (as it were) to the things of this world. We suggest that Paul spent in sweet communion and contact with his risen Lord and Master those three dark days. Well might Paul pen later ” The gospel is the power of God unto salvation, etc.”
Paul, now saved, is “baptised and added,” etc. (this is what the Lord demands, see Acts 2.) and is soon preaching and testifying concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. This section begins with persecution (verse 1) and ends with peace (verse 31).

(Continued from page 64).

—At this time Saul, although a young man, had done much evil to the Christians at Jerusalem, and having made havoc of the church there, he then sought to persecute the Christians at Damascus, which was 120 miles from Jerusalem. As he drew near to Damascus he was stopped by a light from heaven which shone about him, and he fell to the ground (this is always man’s position in the presence of God). The double call, ” Saul, Saul”, seems to indicate that the one mentioned is in peril spiritually and physically.
We see that in persecuting the members of the Body, Saul persecuted the Head. Although Saul heard a voice, he did not know who it was that was speaking. The answer must have caused Saul great consternation. The others who were with him did not see anyone, but they were affected by the light, and they heard the sound of the voice.
Saul had been hitherto blinded spiritually by the god of this world; now he is blinded naturally by the God of Heaven. It was a common procedure that when a slave had a new master his name was changed; thus Saul henceforth was known as Paul. After three sightless days without food, exhausted though he must have been, Saul was baptised and then received food.
Saul’s preaching seemed to be confined at first to proving that Jesus was the Messiah, and he, in his turn was persecuted, and was forced to escape from Damascus. After this he did not go straight to Jerusalem, but spent three years in Arabia (Gal.1:15-18), where he was prepared for his ministry. [Did he actually spend 3 years in Arabia?—Jas. M.].
Wm. W.

—We thought it remarkable that the first mention of Saul was that he was consenting to the death of Stephen. It was thought that Saul was brought under conviction as he witnessed the death of Stephen, and from that time he had been faced with either accepting the Lord Jesus, or proceeding further in his hatred against Him. This is what Saul was doing as he journeyed to Damascus.
He was ” nigh unto Damascus,” so far did God allow him to go, when that ” great light ” shone, and a voice asked, ” Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me? ” It would seem that those who were with Saul heard the voice, but Saul alone understood it, and replied to it. It was said that to hear a voice implied understanding it, and those men heard the sound of the voice only. This we think, removes the apparent difficulty with Acts 22:9.
Most of us thought that Saul was saved on the Damascus high¬way, from these facts:—(1) As the Apostle tells of his conversion, he always goes back to the Damascus high-way; (2) Ananias, in Damascus, addresses Saul as ” Brother Saul “; (3) ” I have appeared unto thee, to appoint thee a minister and a witness.” Such words would not be spoken to an unsaved man, and these words were spoken on the high¬way. Some thought that Saul was not saved until ” there fell from his eyes as it were scales.” Jn 9:38 was read to show that not until this man received his sight did the words come from him, ” Lord, I believe.” Would this incident have any bearing on Saul’s conversion, seeing that it took place prior to the Cross, and that the man was born blind? [Saul was saved on the Damascus road, but it was not till three days after that he knew what the will of the Lord was for him as a disciple, when his request was answered in part: ” What shall I do, Lord? ” The stages in the experience of the blind man in Jn 9. are peculiar to himself, though lessons may be drawn therefrom.— J.M.].
We see a very different man as Saul comes from the waters of baptism; the man who came ” breathing threatening and slaughter ” now gives an outward declaration of his repentance.
Saul does not appear to have wasted any time in making known the Lord Jesus as the Son of God, for we see the word ” straightway ” is used. As he was zealous in a wrong way before his conversion, so now he is equally anxious to do all in his power to ” prove that this is the Christ.”
If we take Acts 9:27, and lay it alongside Acts 22:14-18, it leaves us with a difficulty in fitting in Gal.1:17. This brought out the question of, “How often did the Apostle visit Jerusalem?” Some thought he was there four times, while others thought that he was there six times in all. The searching of this gave us to see something of the man, upon whom the Lord Jesus laid his hand, in such an out¬standing way. We would appreciate help on this matter, as we found much which we did not fully grasp. [See note in Barrow’s paper in April issue.— J.M.].
Early in his life Saul was in conflict with the Jews, ” proving that this is the Christ.” What a change for the man who once ” made havock of them which called on this Name.”! We had another question, ” Would Saul’s being in Arabia fit in between Acts 9:22,23? [Yes.]

—Once again we read of the vehement spirit that characterised Saul, typical, indeed, of the nation to which he belonged. He was born as one out of due time, not as to his apostleship, but as to his relationship to Israel and their salvation as a nation. [Surely the matter of his abortive birth is in connexion with the apostolate. Note the force of the words in 1 Cor.15 “to all the Apostles, … to me also. For I am the least of the Apostles,” and so forth. If we read passages in their context we are always helped.—J.M.]. The revelation of the Lord Jesus to him from heaven was in accord with the revelation of the Lord Jesus in a coming day to Israel, ” when they shall look upon Him who they pierced” and they shall be born in a day. He was not saved by faith, as we are, but by sight, as Israel will be. [Our friends are surely missing the plain facts in their endeavour to draw a parallel between Paul and Israel. Paul did not know the Lord when the light of His glory flashed upon him, nor when the Lord asked, ” Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?”. But when the Lord said, ” I am Jesus whom thou persecutest,” then he knew the Lord and it was the Lord’s revelation by His word that was the turning point. Paul believed His word that Jesus whom he persecuted was the Son of God. There was the word and the vision and so it is with us. How often we sing—” There is life in a look at the crucified One”!—J.M.]. It must have been wonderful to listen to ‘such a one, advanced as he was in Judaism, expounding to his listeners the beauties and perfections of the Christ, and confounding the Jews. Such a wonderful picture is not without a very human sidelight, and that is, the Apostle of the Gentiles was lowered over the wall of Damascus in a basket for fear of the Jews killing him.
We wondered whether the AV was correct in Acts 9:31 or the RV. If we accept the RV we are told that there was no legislation concerning the planting of assemblies at this time, and therefore until further light was given through the person of the Apostle Paul, the various definite gatherings of the disciples—not promiscuous gatherings— were not called the church in that town or city, but the church through¬out Judaea, Galilee, and Samaria, but, of course, through revelation later they were called churches, which linked together, formed the fellowship. [Those who can best judge of such matters say ” church ” is the correct rendering, but that does not mean that there were no churches in existence at this time. What of Philip’s work in Samaria? of his ” preaching the gospel in all the cities till he came to Caesarea? ” (Acts 8:40). Also, ” as Peter went throughout all parts, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.” Those who were at the planting of the assembly in Jerusalem would be competent to be engaged in the planting of other assemblies.—J.M.].

—Saul’s attitude towards the disciples of the Lord was in fulfilment of the Lord’s words in Jn 16:2. In the journey to Damascus, that outstanding incident in the life of the Apostle Paul, occurred his conversion. It is evident that Saul was convinced that the voice he heard was that of the Lord from heaven, and he confessed Jesus as Lord, and believed the wonderful truth that God had raised Him from the dead. Upon rising he found that he was deprived of his natural sight but he was delivered from the error of his ways through receiving spiritual sight; consequently, the blindness of his mind was removed. During these three trying days of blindness Saul gave himself to prayer. And we would infer that the recovery of his sight was, in part, an answer to his prayer. As young men, may our attitude always be that of 1 Thess.5:17: ” Pray without ceasing.” In accordance with the Lord’s instructions, Ananias went to Saul that he might receive ^is sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit. The first step in Saul’s obedience is seen in that, although having been without food for three days, he arose and was baptised. He then took food and was strengthened. Perhaps it was at this point he crossed over into Arabia and became further instructed in the will of the Lord, and then, without delay, he returned to Damascus, and straightway in the synagogues proclaimed Jesus to be the Son of God. [See note in paper from Barrow in April issue.] The attitude of the disciples in Jerusalem towards Saul was similar to that of Ananias in that they feared him because of his past conduct. Barnabas, however, stepped forward and commended Saul to the Apostles and disciples, speaking highly of his work for the Lord at Damascus. Although, at first, persecution was meted out to the one who had been the persecutor yet, apparently, in due course, those who were opposed to ” the way ” were so astonished at the great change in Saul’s life that it caused them to suspend their operations for the time being, the result of which was the church throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was multiplied.
W.Y., A.T.


—It does not appear that Aeneas asked for healing, or that faith was exercised by him before Peter spoke; though it is a proof of faith on his part in obeying Peter’s command, rising from bed for the first time in eight years. The object of the miracle was that many might believe. Indeed, it is remarkable to find that all that dwelt in those parts turned to the Lord.
In the raising of Dorcas we again have a witness to the immense power wielded by prayer. Apparently the disciples at Joppa believed that Peter was able to raise persons from the dead. Even the womanly services of Dorcas were indirectly the means of bringing many to salvation. For the high esteem which her labours brought her made the disciples call the Apostle, with consequent blessing to herself, and many others who believed in the Lord.
The gospel of God’s grace which had reached Jews, Samaritans, and Galileans, must now stretch out to all Gentiles and in a manner no less definite than that in which it had first come in Jerusalem and Samaria.
Cornelius was a Gentile convert to Judaism, a ” proselyte of the gate,” who was acting according to the light which he had, one who ” by patience in well doing ” sought for glory, believing that God is, and is a rewarder of them that seek after Him. [What our friends state is the exact opposite of all that has been taught and held for years about Cornelius and Acts 10. If Cornelius was a convert to Judaism, why was he uncircumcised? and why should Peter have to defend his action before those of the circumcision on his return to Jerusalem? Cornelius was a Gentile, and as a Gentile he was dealt with both by God and Peter, and there is no indication that he was a proselyte. Rom.2:7 should not be confused with persons who had become proselytes.—J.M.]
Peter, being brought up as a Jew in all the formalities of the law, needed a direct revelation from God to awaken him to the unlimited application of the Gospel and the Kingdom. We can hardly appreciate what a great change of mind the vision must have wrought. It was also by revelation that Paul had the Gospel to the Gentiles.
The sheet with the four corners is symbolic of ” the four corners” of the earth. The beasts and the fowls show that none need be exempt from blessing, even the foulest. “God commandeth all men everywhere to repent.”
Perhaps the thrice-repeated vision would remind Peter of the commands expressed after the thrice-repeated question, ” Lovest thou Me,” for now the flock was to be greatly extended, and the Gentiles added would be in knowledge as lambs, compared with the Jews.
At last from the narrow confines that Judaism would impose, it is realised that God’s grace is unlimited. To-day we rejoice in this great truth—the universality of the gospel—which was first revealed through Peter, and is defined so clearly in the epistles.
The Gentiles who had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit were now commanded to be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ. This is very definitely for us to-day!

—In some respects, the case of Cornelius is similar to the attitude assumed to-day in that (a) he gave alms and prayed; and differs in that (a) he feared God; (b) was devout; (c) had not the New Testament Scriptures to read; (d) Abraham-like, instructed his household; (e) deemed subjection sweet, both to civil and religious authority. Thus his mind was receptive for further revelation, and proved fruitful ground for the seed (Jn 7:17).
Nothing appeals more to God than a spirit of subjection, and where there is a receptive heart, He yearns to fill it with all the treasures of His vast storehouse. The blessing was also to extend to the house¬hold; the measure of a man’s fear of God is that of his influence upon his household.
To us who have never experienced the binding commandments delivered to Israel, the interpretation of Peter’s vision appears quite plain, but to Peter it must have presented a perplexing problem. Peter was not deceived when he looked and saw all manner of unclean things. Of themselves they were essentially unclean and common, to be avoided under the covenant delivered at Sinai. But Holiness has been satisfied by an unblemished life and death, and in virtue of this God can graciously sanctify the vilest of the vile, upon faith in Christ Jesus, and so fit us for the presence of God immediately. ‘Tis when the soul ponders such an amazing truth, then it bursts out in thanks-giving and praise to God, for such a wondrous provision. Thus to sanctify involves no change in the essence of the thing sanctified (Matt.23.). [Our friends are wrong in their view of what God says about the cleansing of the things which in the past were viewed as unclean and common. Help will be got by considering what Paul says in Rom.11:15: “If the casting away of them is the reconciling of the world.” Here Israel is cast away by God in election and His governmental dealings with men, and the world by these means is in a new state which it never occupied before. The world in no sense is reconciled to God by the death of His Son; that state is the portion of believers only.
The same consideration applies to the Gentiles in Acts 10. God has lifted up the unclean and common Gentile to a place of equal privilege with the Jew, and God will treat him in exactly the same way as the Jew, but the cleansing has not been effected by their faith in the Redeemer’s blood.—J.M.]

—It would seem that Peter was indeed carrying out his work as a shepherd, for here we see him visiting all those who were scattered abroad; never missing any one small assembly.
When he reaches Lydda (strife), through the man Aeneas (praised) we see the wonderful power of God working through Peter, that after having kept his bed eight years he is cured. AH that dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him; and what a lesson to us, who have been redeemed, to spread the gospel of God’s grace all around! for it was while we were yet sinners Christ died for us (Rom.5:8).
Dorcas, who is a model disciple, dies and the disciples, having done what they could and having heard of Peter at Lydda, send for him, asking him to come speedily. On Peter’s arrival he is taken to the chamber where she lay, and the garments which she had made are shewn; truly we see, she being dead yet speaketh.
Now in Acts 10 Peter is seen using the keys given to him in Matt.16, thereby opening the door to the Gentiles. Cornelius was a devout, God-fearing man who prayed alway and yet with all this we have the words of Acts 10:5: fetch . . . Peter. See Eph.2:9; Isa.66:2; Ps.34:18; Ps.51:17. Peter in a vision hears words that much perplex him, and learns that God is no respecter of persons, and embracing the opportunity he is found at the house of Cornelius. How beautiful to note the condition of those together!
Peter tells forth the wondrous story of love and grace. Those who heard the Word receive the Holy Spirit and it is evidenced, inso¬much that those who had accompanied Peter were amazed.
E. H. BOWERS. [We are pleased to see this, the first contribution from our Middles¬brough friends.—EDS.].

—It was noticed that all that dwelt in Lydda and Sharon turned to the Lord after the healing of Aeneas, so that the conversion of so many was the outcome of the miracle.
It was generally expressed that the miracle in Lydda was the directing force that made those in Joppa send for Peter; perhaps their thoughts were akin to those who said concerning the Lord: “Could not this man, which opened the eyes of him that was blind, have caused that this man also should not die? ”
The fact that Peter puts all outside seems to show that the resurrection of Dorcas was not done for the gratification of the un¬believing, but rather for the benefit of the saints and widows who felt the loss of her, on account of her skilful and industrious hands.
Acts 10 marks a great advancement in the will of God, and Peter is given very definite guidance in the matter. The middle wall of partition was about to be thrown down doctrinally, and that which hitherto had belonged to the seed of Abraham was to be shared on an equal footing with the Gentiles, as was before prophesied (Gal.3.8).
In the scene before us, and again and again in reading through the remaining portion of the New Testament, we are painfully reminded of the obstinacy of the Jew against the will of God. Even Peter himself at a later time failed to keep the meaning of the vision before him: “What God hath cleansed, make not thou common.”
A profitable time was spent discussing the unique way in which God revealed Himself to Cornelius.
The scene is brought to a fitting close with the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in those who believed; an event unique in itself, and worthy of the opening of the door of grace.
ROBERT M. RENFREW, THOS. JOHNSTON. [We are also pleased to see the name of Greenock re-appearing amongst contributors.—EDS.]

—Although the Apostles were not among those who were scattered abroad, Peter did not confine his labours to Jerusalem, but moved about among the people of God, stablishing and strengthening them. And when he came, to Lydda he found Aeneas and, through the name of Jesus Christ, cured him. The effect is remarkable: “All that dwelt in Lydda and in Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.”
Something of the same effect is noticed in the next incident, for after the raising of Dorcas we read: ” It became known throughout all Joppa and many believed on the Lord.” Dorcas was a woman who not only had faith, but was full of good works and alms-deeds which she did, and the widows in particular seem to have found a very near place in her heart. No wonder they mourned her loss. When the disciples sent for Peter, did they believe that he was able to raise her from the dead? or were they merely looking for the comfort he could impart to those who were bereaved? [The words of the disciples, ” Delay not to come on unto us,” seem to show that if Peter came quickly they expected he would manifest his miraculous power in the raising of Tabitha, and they were not disappointed.—J ,M.] Peter abode in Joppa many days in the house of one Simon, a tanner.
Cornelius, we take it, sought after God according to the law of Moses, but though upright, and religious to a degree, he yet lacked what was essential to his eternal security. Here we have a story in which everything moved with precision; the Holy Spirit was working; Cornelius was praying, and Peter was praying, and God instructs both. Peter went with the man, and when they entered into Caesarea he found Cornelius with his kinsfolk and his near friends gathered together to hear all things that have been commanded him of the Lord. Then in that quick terse manner which seems to be peculiar to Peter, Cornelius is told the simple gospel story. Here, too, the work of Peter was not without fruit. It is here that for the first time the Holy Spirit is given apart from the laying on of the hands of the Apostles. [There is no mention of the laying on of hands in Acts 2.—J.M.]

—In considering the work of Peter at this time, we remember the Lord’s words to him, ” When once thou hast turned again, stablish thy brethren.” Peter is used of God at Lydda, when Aeneas is healed. The question arose, Was the faith exercised by Peter only, or could the words ” he arose ” of Acts 10:34 mean that there was also faith on the part of Aeneas? (see Rom.10.). [There is much more in this case of Aeneas than we are told. Peter was in sympathy with the man’s attitude of heart in his longing to be healed, and with the Lord’s will to do so when he said, “Jesus Christ healeth thee.”—J.M.] This sign made a great impression in those parts, for ” all . . . saw him, and they turned to the Lord.” This might mean that there was an assembly at Lydda; it was thought possible that Peter had come down for the planting of the assembly, for this would require the presence of one of the Apostles. Acts 11:21 was read to show the significance of the words, ” the Lord.”
When Dorcas died, it would seem as if those who were there sent for Peter in view of the burial. [See note in paper from Barrow-in-Furness.—J.M.] “And many believed on the Lord.” Is this different from ” turned to the Lord”? (Acts 10:35,42). [Acts 11:21 sheds light on this question, for it says that a great number that believed turned unto the Lord “; turning to the Lord seems to show that they put themselves under His authority and became His disciples.—J.M.]
As God changes from the Jew to the Gentile, He makes the change an abrupt one. It took a vision from God to teach Peter the things which he must know. It is clear that it required the presence of Peter, ere the door could be opened to the Gentiles. God had Peter prepared against the coming of the men, so he goes with them, ” nothing doubting.” The question was asked, Why was the vessel let down three times? We know that the number three was always a prominent figure in the life of Peter. [Our friends have, no doubt, caught the meaning of why the sheet was let down thrice. The thrice-denial of Peter had in these acts and in the thrice-repeated question in Jn 21. a disciplinary effect on his mind as the Lord instructed him in His will.—J.M.] Cornelius was not only himself waiting, prepared to hear, but he had gathered together all his kinsmen. Peter’s message was not a long one; he concluded with ” every one that believeth on Him shall receive remission of sins.” Then those Jews who were present were amazed as they saw the effect of the Holy Spirit falling on Gentiles in the gift of tongues.
It is interesting to notice how that Peter asks, “Can any man forbid the water that these should not be baptized? ” Then he ” com¬manded them to be baptized . . .” Thus we have Peter using the keys which had been given him by the Lord Jesus Himself.

—We here see Peter healing a man in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, so that men might be caused to believe on His name. Then we find a sister who has fallen ill and died, and when Peter arrives the saints are weeping over her and shewing what good things she had done in her lifetime. Peter is used of God again that the grace of God might be plainly told out and that men might believe. We do well, from this passage, to place a greater value upon the power of prayer. Dorcas was evidently of a godly character and illustrated well the words of the Apostle in his letter to Timothy, ” I desire . . . in like manner that women adorn themselves . . . with shamefastness and sobriety . . . which becometh women professing godliness.”
In viewing chapter 10. we see that though the Jew had come first, a change is now wrought and the Gentile is admitted into the blessed enjoyment of God’s salvation. What a privilege that human instrumentality is the means of such inestimable blessings! Another thing that tells of the wisdom of our God is the fact that both Peter and Cornelius were prepared for the event. The former is found on the housetop, and there God reveals to Him through a vision— which is thrice shewn to him for emphasis—that no longer are the Gentiles to occupy an outside place in relation to God, but that the middle wall of partition has been broken down and henceforth, as members of Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek: all are one in Christ. The latter in a similar way receives instruction from God and is told that his alms and prayers are had in remembrance before God. The two prepared men meet.
We notice that Peter tells how the Jews slew the Christ, and elsewhere we read of their having slain Him. Would it be wrong to say that the death of the Lord Jesus cannot be ascribed to the Gentile? [The Lord in Lk.18:31-33 shows that the Gentiles killed Him. Note also the words of Acts 2:23, ” Ye by the hand of lawless men did crucify and slay.” Also see Acts 4:27, where Herod, Pontius Pilate, and the peoples of Israel are joined together. There can be no doubt that the Gentile and the Jew were together in the death of Christ, but the latter was more culpable than the former.—J.M.]
Was Cornelius a proselyte or a Gentile outside of Judaism completely? We understand that of the proselytes there were two classes —the Proselyte of the Gate and the Proselyte of Justice. The former was a Gentile who had not submitted to the ritual circumcision, and yet worshipped God in a general accordance with Jewish law. [God does not deal with Cornelius as a proselyte, but as a Gentile, one of the common that He had cleansed. The man who did not submit to circumcision could not worship God according to the law, for in receiving circumcision it became obligatory on the receiver’s part to obey the whole law; he had joined himself to the LORD. The uncircumcised were outside, common and unclean, according to the Levitical law, and such was Cornelius, albeit he had adopted the ninth hour of the day as an hour of prayer, and he was well reported of by the nation of Jews. —J.M.] The Proselyte of Justice was a Gentile who had been circumcised and who carried out to the very letter the Mosaic law and had admittance into the full privileges of Judaism.

—Peter went throughout all parts, and came down “to the saints ” which dwelt at Lydda. It was thought that this visit was not with the object of preaching the gospel, but the exercise of care over all in the Churches of God. (See Acts 14:21-22, Acts 15:32,41.) As we discussed the many signs which accompanied the ministry of the Apostles, our thoughts were turned to the words of the Lord Jesus in Jn 14:12: ” He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto the Father.” We wondered what comprised the “greater” works. We would like help on this. [It seems strange to our ears that the Lord said that the believing Apostles (and perhaps the believer, generally speaking) would do greater works than He Him¬self did. It cannot be greater signs or miracles. Note how He does not use the word signs, but works. What can be greater than a miracle? Was it Luther who said that he would rather obey God than work miracles? My own judgment about the Lord’s words is that He views the work of saints in the power of the Spirit in building God’s house and carrying on His work connected with collective testimony as greater than the signs He wrought. His signs and His works were a means whereby the purpose of His heart might be realised, that His people might be one, that they might walk and work together, pray and praise together, and so forth.—J.M.] That Cornelius was pliable material in the hand of the Potter is clearly evidenced by his reply to the angel of the Lord, ” What is it. Lord? ” This seems to be a real desire to learn of the Lord. We noticed that the language of the servants, in praising the moral standing of their master, agrees very much with what the ” elders of the Jews ” said, when sent by the centurion to ask the Lord to come and heal his servant: ” He is worthy that thou shouldest do this for him.”
Peter meets Cornelius, the latter falling down and worshipping him. This action brought forth the humble trait in Peter’s character: ” I myself also am a man.” Accompanying the ministry of the Apostle, the Holy Spirit fell upon them that heard the word, and they of the circumcision were amazed that the gift of the Spirit should be poured upon the Gentiles. These Gentile believers were then baptised. Thus the door is now open—the message goes forth to the Gentiles with great and happy results.
R.C.K., W.C.

—It is evident from Acts 9:32 that Peter, after having made a tour through different parts, finds himself amongst the saints at Lydda where we see the Lord had a work for him in that he finds Aeneas in his helpfulness. It was indeed a remarkable miracle that was wrought by the Holy Spirit through Peter, the result of which we further read: “All they at Lydda and Sharon turned to the Lord.” We suggest this means that they were saved, baptised and added. As we read further, we find Peter still working for the Lord. Peter’s first act with respect to Dorcas is to put them all out from his presence, and he kneels down and gets in touch with God through prayer, and the power of God is seen. It was indeed remarkable, and when it became known throughout all Joppa many believed on the Lord. What a wonderful lesson we have here for young men of to-day! Let us ask ourselves the question, Are we used of God to-day in His service? Let us be like Peter and like our blessed Master who prayed alone. Let us pray often that we may be used of God, that we may have a heart for the work.
In the case of Cornelius we sec God working in a special way, even sending an angel to tell this man what to do. His good deeds could not save him, and he is commanded to send for Peter. At the same time Peter is instructed in a vision, ” What God has cleansed, make not thou common,” and then the Spirit says unto Peter, ” Behold three men seek thee,” and tells him to go with them. Nothing doubting, Peter takes six brethren with him. What is the significance of the seven to Cornelius and Peter standing up with the eleven in Acts 2? [Peter stood with the eleven in testimony because there were twelve apostles chosen to bear testimony. He took six brethren with him as witnesses both to Cornelius, and also to those of Jerusalem on his return, as to what had transpired amongst the Gentiles. I am not disposed to build pretty mental structures on the numbers 6, 7, 11 and 12.—J.M.]
W.B., A.T.

—The “all parts” through¬out which Peter went would be the three provinces mentioned in Acts 10:31, Judaea, Galilee and Samaria, because the revelation of the preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles had not yet been given to Peter. The companies of believers in these three provinces are here together referred to as ” the Church,” but we see from Gal.1:22 that these same companies (of the first-mentioned place) are called ” the churches of Judaea in Christ.”
The healing of Aeneas, and the raising of Dorcas, are further instances of the fulfilment of the words of the Lord Jesus in Mk.16:17-18: ” These signs shall follow them that believe: in My name . . . they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” But perhaps the outstanding point in the healing of Aeneas is the direct proof which it affords of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, as seen from the words used by Peter, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ healeth thee.”
The good works of Dorcas, a disciple of the Lord Jesus, must have commended the gospel of Christ and brought joy to the heart of the Lord. Her being raised to life again was not only a sign, or a witness to the people of Joppa, but it also spoke to the disciples of the deep need there was of the continuance of those good works and alms-deeds. How often are good and valued lives amongst us cut short! and we almost feel as if the good work has stopped. The result of Peter’s prayer being entirely a work of God, shows how completely he depended upon God in this matter.
Oh that we, Dorcas-like, may be full of good works, that Christ may be glorified in our lives!
W.S., N.G.A.

—As a result of the healing of poor bedridden Aeneas, ” all . . . turned to the Lord.” We conclude that all were saved and sought to follow the Lord (Acts 11:21).
An exemplary character was Tabitha. She is the first godly woman whose circumstances are mentioned in this book, and we here get a picture of the sphere in which a woman can work, pleasing God. Tabitha was “full of good works and alms-deeds which she did.” The apostle exhorts women to be such (1 Tim.2:9,10). There was naturally much sorrow at her death; but there was joy in Joppa at her restoration, and much joy in Heaven since ” many believed on the Lord.”
Cornelius the centurion awaits more light. He ” prayed to God alway,” and sees a vision. Cornelius bore a fine testimony—his house¬hold, his servants, and at least one soldier were of the same persuasion.
Meanwhile, God wrought to teach Peter not to despise the Gentiles. God is no respecter of persons. God chooses to work with His servants, and He uses Peter to reveal His will.
We admire the faith of Cornelius; and exactly on the day of the arrival of Peter and his companions, ” Cornelius was waiting for them, having called together his kinsmen and his near friends.”
Peter forbids worship to any other than to God, and then he preaches the gospel. The Holy Spirit was given and the new converts were baptised. God had opened the door to the Gentiles.
J.B., F.W.J.

—How welcome was the visitation of Peter to Lydda and Joppa! The time had come for the Lord to send forth light unto the Gentiles. We were reminded of His own words, ” Them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice; and they shall become one flock, one Shepherd ” (Jn 10:16). We would learn that the middle wall is broken down.
We find Cornelius a devout man, whose works were not dead works, for they were held in remembrance by God. He was a praying man, too, and at the evening hour of prayer God told him to send for Peter, “who shall speak unto thee words, whereby thou shalt be saved.” We think of the words of Rom.10:15 in this connection. Mean¬ while, Peter also engaged in prayer and learned the lesson that what God had cleansed should not be deemed unclean. This at first perplexed him (Acts 10:17), but it became clear to him later (Acts 10:28) that ” there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, . . . but Christ is all, and in all” (Col.3:11). [We must distinguish between what God did in cleansing the Gentiles in His govern¬ mental dealings with men, and the fact that there is neither Greek nor Jew in the Body of Christ. God has removed the middle wall, the law of commandments contained in ordinances and of the twain—Jew and Gentile—one new man is now being formed; but the fact that no man is now common or unclean is not equivalent to being members of the Body.—J.M.] So we find Cornelius and his kinsmen were the first ones from among the Gentiles who received the gospel, and God, who knoweth the heart, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Spirit as He did unto the Jews.

—It would seem from the expression “all quarters” that Peter was visiting all the churches to ascertain their state and also to ” feed the flock.”
The commendation of Tabitha was not in words but in deeds, for the widows shewed the coats which she had made for them while she was with them. It was the comfort of Job while he lived that the loins of the poor blessed him, because they were warmed with the fleece of his sheep (Job 31:20). Tabitha could well fill the picture given in Prov.31:19-22.
We noticed that a devout officer like Cornelius had devour soldiers around him, and our minds went to the word to overseers ” being ensamples to the flock ” (1 Pet.5:3).
To the invitation to kill and eat, Peter decidedly objected, though he admitted, by his answer, that the command to do so was from the Lord. He had always observed the ceremonial law in this matter with scrupulous exactness, and so, to his objection, the voice spake a second time, ” What God has cleansed, make not thou common,” or polluted. The transaction was repeated three times to emphasise the certainty of the message. To inform a Jew that God had cleansed those animals that had been declared unclean and that the)’- were no longer to be deemed common, or rejected as such, was in fact to announce the abrogation of the Mosaic law and the introduction of a new and more enlarged dispensation, and it plainly intimated that uncircumcised Gentiles, whom God would cleanse by faith and grace, were to receive the gospel without regard to ceremonial law, or to their uncleanness according to it (Eph.2:11-22).


—The news of the word having been received by the Gentiles reaches Judaea, and when Peter arrives at Jerusalem they of the circumcision lay the charge against him: ” Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.” He was called upon to give an answer, and this he does by giving details of his vision, and of the vision of Cornelius. Here we are told what was said to Cornelius: ” who (Peter) shall speak unto thee words whereby thou shalt be saved, thou and all thy house.” He reminds them in Acts 11:17 that the Gentiles received the Holy Spirit when they believed, and he shows how he could not withstand God.
Those that questioned him held their peace, and glorified God, saying, ” Then to the Gentiles also hath God granted repentance unto life ” (verse 18). As we thought of this we were reminded of Eph.2:22.
G.A.J., W.C.

—Peter has to show the Jews that God is no respecter of persons. He therefore recounts his vision and the ensuing humbling experience of which six brethren were witnesses.
The Jews were still trying to retain the old ceremonies under the Law, but God works in this way to teach them—” What God hath cleansed make not thou common.” We gather from Lev.10:10 that ” common ” means ” unholy.” The Jews would say, ” Except ye be circumcised … ye cannot be saved ” (Acts 15:1).
Thus Peter was used to speak unto these despised Gentiles words whereby they should be saved. They believed, and received the Holy Spirit.
Acts 11:17. “… God gave unto them the like gift as He did unto us . . .” All who believe have the gift of the Holy Spirit, but not all are like Peter and the other apostles, who had gifts also by the Holy Spirit.
Then to the Gentiles also hath God granted repentance unto life,
J.B., F.W.J.

—Looking back into the Scriptures we get references regarding the Gentiles, in Deut.10:18 and elsewhere, with regard to God’s love for the stranger, in things temporal. In Luke 2:32 we see the fulfilment of Isa.42:6,7 and Isa.49:6. The Lord Jesus was a light for revelation to the Gentiles.
We see, with regard to the salvation of Cornelius and his friends, that although Israel was God’s chosen people, now the day of grace had been ushered in and Peter could say, “God is no respecter of persons.” Here Eph.2:14-15 has a place.
It was Peter’s act of going in and eating with those of the un-circumcision that caused contention to arise. However, Peter explains, telling of his vision, the angel’s appearance to Cornelius, and of Cornelius and his house receiving the Holy Spirit. Then he clinches the matter with: ” If then God gave unto them the like gift . . . who was I, that I could withstand God.” It is good to note that on this explanation they glorified God.
Would we gather from the taking to task of Peter, that, no matter what our position, when we do some like thing, in connection with God’s things, we should be prepared to answer those who have a right to ask, with all humility? [Certainly all things with regard to God’s House should be done in full fellowship with others therein, so that we may be found all doing the same things.—JAS. M.]

—Our thoughts were thoughts of thankfulness as we, Gentiles by birth, read Acts 11:1-18. The Jews, however, did not agree with Peter in his associating himself with the Gentiles. Peter thereupon recounts his experiences to the Jews, ” in order.”
We thought the sheet let down out of heaven might speak of the grace of God extended to the four corners of the earth. Peter could not at first understand the change, so he refused to eat.
Continuing his narrative, Peter shows that he himself was gratified to see the Holy Spirit fall on them,” even as on us at the beginning. We were reminded of the difference in, what Peter preached in Acts 2., ” Repent and be baptised unto the remission of sins,” and in Acts 10:43, ” Everyone that believeth on Him sha1! receive remission of sins.”
And well might Peter ask, ” What was I, that I could with¬stand God?”
And when the Jews heard these words they held their peace, and glorified God.

—Peter’s action causes great consternation in Judaea, and he is called upon to give account for eating with the un-circumcised. This proves to us how utterly they failed to apprehend the word of the Lord himself: ” Go ye therefore into all the world.” Howbeit when they heard the Gentiles had received the Holy Spirit —proving there was no distinction—they held their peace and glorified God for His goodness to the Gentiles.

—The levelling of mankind was surely seen at the Cross, where Jew and Gentile joined affinity in the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here, both forfeited every claim to God’s favour, and not even circumcision could free them from the guilt common to all mankind.
How tenaciously they of the circumcision held on to this racial mark, which could avail nothing in the matter of salvation, but could only belittle Christ’s finished work! (See Eph.2:14-16.)
How forcibly had God brought home to Peter the truth that this wall of partition no longer existed! and with emphasis he could ask: ” Who was I that I could withstand God? ” Peter’s explanation pleased them and caused them to glorify God.


In our consideration of the History of the Fellowship this question came before us, and some interesting and helpful reading appears in Needed Truth for 1905. There is an article entitled “Pressing On ” (see page 5), in which it is suggested that Saul was received into the Fellowship in Damascus, and that when he later came to Jerusalem, his reception was into the circle of rulers that consisted of the apostles and elders. In commenting upon this, Dr. Luxmoore said (see page 63):
“First, it would need to be settled whether the expression in Acts 9:31, “The church throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria” actually limits the Fellowship as it then existed to that area; because, if so, Damascus was outside its scope, and the disciples there were not formed into an assembly. Some may see no grounds for this idea, but it is not altogether unreasonable to doubt whether an assembly of God could exist in a Gentile city before Gentiles were added to the Lord.”
It was thought by two corners that there was an assembly in Damascus.
In a further reference to the article ” Pressing On ” Dr. Luxmoore says (on page 94) that there is, no doubt, something in the suggestion that the very fact that Saul went to Damascus in his career of persecution seems to show that there was a company of disciples there, and adds that the words of Ananias, ” all that call upon the Name,” do not necessarily refer to a corporate company. Pursuing the matter, Dr. Luxmoore says: ” There were disciples in Damascus, and perhaps they were definitely in the Fellowship, but the point is, whether they constituted an assembly of God or no. Our friend (the writer of “Pressing On “) doubts if Ananias had ever been in Jerusalem, and asks if not, how he could have become identified with the saints; where and how was he added? This is certainly a hard question.
“Our friend further points out that an assembly in Damascus might well have been united for administrative purposes with the assemblies in Judaea, Galilee and Samaria, especially in view of the many Jews there. This may be possible, but is scarcely conclusive, because there is apparently a certain method in Acts of setting off the manner and order in which the truth spread; and according to this, it looks as if in Acts 9:31, the area is limited to Judaea, Galilee, and Samaria, and in Acts 11:29 is extended to Antioch in the North of Syria.”
The question was left with the following contribution, which was regarded as “valuable” (see page 96):—
” There does not appear to be any evidence of the existence of a church of God in Damascus; rather would it appear that the disciples were to be found in the synagogue, to which the persecutor was definitely making his way (verse 2). This was also the case in a later day, for it was in the synagogue in Ephesus that Aquila and Priscilla were to be found, and it was thither that Apollos went (see Acts 18:24-26).
Acts 19:8-10 shows that the disciples were to be found for three months in connexion with the synagogue before Paul separated them; and that not until the way was publicly evil spoken of.
Thus we are persuaded that the presentation of truth in the Acts is designed to show us God’s order of working from centre to-circumference; and also that in the planting of churches God always used His chosen human instruments, namely, the Apostles.”

It would be interesting to know if Mr. Jarvis has now, twenty-six years after, any further light on this question.
G. MCINTYRE (Southport).

(1) Referring to our question which needed a further explanation in our paper for March; we had in mind the position of children of God in the sects, meeting together for the breaking of bread, whether weekly or monthly.
Is it possible that they can claim the presence of the Lord on Lord’s Day morning?
ANSWER.—Sects are amongst the works of the flesh; and against the flesh, as against Amelek of old, God will have war from generation to generation. God’s word being written to His people in the divine position of the churches and house of God, He has no message for His children in sects, except it be to come out and be separate. Men may claim much, but does the Lord allow their claim? is their claim valid? We may be quite certain of this that the Lord will not be, and cannot be, where His word is rejected, and His claims as Lord are denied.—J.M.
(2) To what does Matt.18:20 refer, to what meeting?
ANSWER.—This verse is part of a paragraph, from Matt.18:15-20, and must be read in its connexion and also in the light of its content. The two or three are part of a larger whole, called the church in verse 17. They are not a promiscuous two or three Christians who may be thrown together by the force of circumstances, nor yet two or three persons met together to pray, but persons who are together connected with what the Lord has been speaking of, namely, the difficulty which has arisen in the assembly. Note the force of “again I say unto you “; He is enlarging on what He has been saying. Here two persons meet, and note, too, that they are “two of you”; two of a together company, and they solemnly agree before God to ask what they are convinced is the mind of God. Their being together bears the stamp and character of a larger gathering, where persons are agreed and united in the will of God, namely, the assembly. Where two or three are, and so agree, they are described as being gathered in His name, and they are assured of the Lord’s presence in their deliberations and agreement, as well also that His presence is assured when they seek God in prayer. If this were practised more we might have less trouble. What is here written is suggestive, and not dogmatically stated, and is in no sense the final word on a verse which has often been discussed.-—J.M.
(3) Acts 8:39. Can we say that the Spirit of the Lord is the same as the Spirit of Jesus?
ANSWER.-—Yes, both refer to the Holy Spirit, but the manner in which He is described is, no doubt, not without its significance.—J.M.
(4) Is there any explanation as to the difference in the Old Testament quotation, and this, i.e., the Old Testament states He was led as a lamb to the slaughter.
ANSWER.—Our Ilford friends tell us that the eunuch was reading from the Septuagint, hence the reason of the difference. Isaiah is translated from the Hebrew and not from the Greek version. I have not the Septuagint at the moment to verify their statement. Our Cardiff friends may be able to do this.—J.M.
Was the baptism of Saul, believer’s baptism or John’s baptism?
ANSWER.—The baptism of John is described in the words of Paul in Acts 19:4. Paul was baptised with believer’s or disciple baptism as we now are.—J.M.
What was the order of events after Saul’s conversion in the light of Acts 9:19, and Gal.1:16:17?
ANSWER.—We have elsewhere suggested in a previous issue that the words of verse 23 “and when many days were fulfilled ” cover the time Paul spent in Arabia. Paul was certain days in Damascus; he proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God in the synagogues and confounded the Jews in Damascus, but he conferred not with flesh and blood on the subject of the gospel; that is, he had no consultation with men on the subject whereby they imparted certain knowledge to him as to the gospel of God; what he knew of the gospel was given him by revelation.—J.M.
(1) Was Peter planting churches in Judea at this time?
ANSWER.—It is difficult, or impossible, to say all that Peter did during his visitation to “all parts,” but it shows the definite binding together of the Lord’s work in Jerusalem with His work in the provinces, and that is a vital matter.—J.M.
(2) Could it be possible that these are the churches of God in Judaea (1 Thess.2:14)? See Young’s translation (Acts 9:31)— “The assemblies throughout Judaea,” and so forth.
ANSWER.—There can be little doubt that Lydda and Joppa in Judaea, and Caesarea in Samaria, formed some of the early churches of God. The fact that all in Lydda and Sharon turned to the Lord required that they should be found in collective testimony as did those who turned to the Lord in Antioch, being found as the church in that Gentile city. What Young’s translation says about “the assemblies” the AV says, but the weight of evidence lies in the RV rendering “the church.”—J.M.

(Continued from page 76.)
FROM TORONTO.—Peter’s reception of the revelation that was given him is remarkable to us; we rather expected that the Apostles would have been well aware of the purposes of God in relation to the Gentiles, that they should be fellow-heirs and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel; but from Peter’s reception of the vision, and the subsequent contentions that followed Peter’s obedience to the heavenly vision, we can see that the truth of the commission of Matt.28:19 was as yet not fully grasped. This seemed a new departure and they had not understood the Lord’s words during the 40 days He was with them after His resurrection. The Gentile to be a sharer with the Jew was something that was very far from their thoughts. The event was according to Divine wisdom, for who knows what errors might have been made if the ” when and where and how ” of Acts 1:8 had been left to erring human decision?
Nationality in Peter and those with him (six brethren) received its death-blow, and they now realised that ” in every nation he that feareth Him (God), and worketh righteousness is acceptable to Him.” It would seem to us that Cornelius is a concrete example of the truth of Heb.11:6 and Rom.2:7-10. The diligence displayed by him was rewarded in that he had witness borne to him that his prayers and alms-deeds were come up as a memorial before God.
The Lord superintends the coming together of Peter and Cornelius. In our discussions it was observed how these two men were engaged at the time of revelation—they were praying—and it was remarked that if we to-day were much more often engaged likewise there would be more concrete results from our labours and service. Individual prayer should always precede collective prayers. Now it will be evident if we study carefully the situation that confronted the Apostles in the will of God in reaching to the Gentile with the Gospel that the vessel with the unclean beasts deals effectively with two important matters, keeping company with the Gentiles and eating with them (see Acts 10:28, and Acts 11:3). The Lord first of all deals with the Jew, because the Israelite regarded the Gentile as a very common or unclean person. After the command, ” What God hath cleansed, make not thou common,” Peter’s scruples vanished, and not only did he go at the bidding of the Spirit, but evidently he ate with Cornelius also (see Acts 11:3).
The closing words of chapter 10. tell of the result of his message. A precedent had been set in the face of opposition. The door was opened by Peter to whom had been entrusted the keys.


—Verse 19 of this chapter refers back to Acts 8:1-4. Matters of vital interest are recorded between, especially with regard to the Gentiles. The stupendous move which God was making then has no equal in all His wonderful dealings with men.
We do well to remember that “aforetime” we were “Gentiles in the flesh” (Eph 2:11,12, etc.). We belonged to a wretched stock, with a fearful record. Little wonder that God-fearing men in apostolic days hesitated—almost refused—to come near the Gentiles. Often had such contact wrought havoc upon their nation; indeed their national failure for God was due, almost wholly, to Gentile influences and corruptions.
How marvellous that, in spite of all our badness, God had something hidden in Christ for us who were Gentiles!
Those who had lost their homes and were scattered abroad were used by Him to carry their ” spiritual things ” to strangers. It was a new thing for them to preach the Lord Jesus to the Greeks in Antioch; the effect grips our attention, for we all long and pray for such experiences—” The hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number that believed turned unto the Lord.”
When Barnabas reached Antioch, and saw this new work of God he was glad, for there were striking evidences of the grace of God. Saul, probably, by this time had received his revelation that the unclean Gentiles were to be brought in to be “fellow-heirs,” and ” fellow-partakers of the promise.” Brought by Barnabas to Antioch, he began the special work to which God had called him; and learned,, through hard experience from the earliest days, the difficulties which ever arose in the bringing together of Jews and Gentiles (Col.1:24-29).
The expression, “Added unto the Lord” (verse 24), is peculiar to this book. We noticed it in Acts 5:14, while in Acts 2:41-47, where we get “added to them” (those already together in the Lord’s name), it is also implied. [Addition is spoken of in three ways, but all three express the same thing, namely, addition of believers to the people of God who were together according to His will in testimony for Him, under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Acts 2:41 says, “There were added in that day”; “unto, them” is in italics, showing that the words are not in the Greek.
Acts 2:47 says, “The Lord added to them.” Marginal reading. is—”Gr. together.” “Together” is the word by which Greek words “epi to auto” are translated in Acts 1:15, and here in verse 47 (marg.). “The Lord added together” (epi to auto).
Acts 5:14 reads, “And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.” This can have no possible reference of adding members to the Body of Christ in which relationship such sexual distinctions can have no place. They were added by the Lord and to the Lord, which involved their being added together in definite corporate unity as the people of God.—J.M.]
Evidently the latter is the outcome of the former. The seed was sown, and received, and so, unlike our own day, as a rule those who believed were anxious to make a definite turn to the Lord (verse 21). Thus being added to Him was the inward experience which was outwardly manifested in their being added to His own.
As the Lord saw it, this would happen not just when their names were mentioned to the Church, but “in that day” when it was the soul’s experience, as on the day of Pentecost.
The interesting question of how churches of God came into being arises at the mention of Antioch. Probably Barnabas, entrusted with responsibility by those in Jerusalem, and labouring in fellowship with those used of God in Antioch before his arrival, was chiefly concerned with the planting of the church there.
We see no reason to suppose that if a number of disciples, settling in some place through persecution, found that their testimony was accompanied by the hand of the Lord in blessing, a church should not be planted in fellowship with existing ones, and we expect that this had been the case already at Damascus.
The visit to Jerusalem of Barnabas and Saul is given more in detail in Gal.2:1-10, which shews that in addition to carrying the valued gift for the needy ones they went up by revelation, or at least Paul did, and laid before the Apostles the gospel he preached amongst the Gentiles.
H. B.

—”Though he goeth on his way weeping, bearing forth the seed.” Such, no doubt, would be the condition of many of those who were scattered abroad, due to the tribulation which arose concerning Stephen. In Mk.16:20 we read that they went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them. How we long to know His hand more in our preaching! At first they confined their labours to the Jews; but there were some, linked together in the bonds of the gospel, men from the north of Africa and the isle of Cyprus, who, when they were come to Antioch, spake the word also to the Greeks, who became partakers of the root of the fatness of the olive tree. A great number, too, of those who believed outwardly confessed Him as Lord.
When the report came to the ” ears of the church ” at Jerusalem, they sent forth a God-equipped man, Barnabas—a good man, a son of exhortation, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, a man of Cyprus. We do not wonder at his joy on beholding such a lovely sight! It was the work of the Master’s hand; and he exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they should cleave unto the Lord. As young men, will this exhortation fall upon our ears in vain?
We believed that Barnabas was instrumental in planting the church at Antioch, acting in full fellowship with those at Jerusalem. Much people was added unto the Lord during his visit. Barnabas then goes down to Tarsus, for thither Saul had gone (see Acts 9:30), and brings him back to Antioch. For a whole year they are found, ” teaching much people,” and to this teaching they responded, and because of the disciple character that -was seen in them, they received the honourable name—Christian.
Through Agabus, God forewarns His people of the famine which was about to be felt throughout the world. They have heard of, and some of them have had practical experience of, the privations of the Judaean brethren, so, according to their ability, they send relief by the hand (not hands) of Barnabas and Saul.
Acts 11:29-30 shew us the absolute oneness and fellowship that existed between the overseers, not only of Jerusalem, but also throughout Judaea. There is no thought if independency. Those who were scattered, have now again been gathered, and are found dwelling together in unity.
W. S.

—Some of those who carried the gospel to Antioch spake to the Greeks also, and the Lord was with them. It would appear that as Jerusalem was the centre from which the gospel was circulated to the Jews, so Antioch became the Gentile centre. This is evident from Acts 13:1-2.
Here again we see brethren working together in unity, and as the news of the progress of the gospel is brought to Jerusalem, Barnabas is sent forth as far as Antioch. Evidently his especial work at that time was exhorting the saints; hence the Apostle-given name he bears (Acts 4:36-37). Note his further qualifications for this work; surely a man to be imitated with profit!
It is very evident that he had a great affection for Saul. It will be remembered that it was he who brought the converted persecutor to the Apostles, when all were afraid, and now he brings him from Tarsus to Antioch and together they continued a whole year teaching the disciples.
We wonder if the name Christian was merely a nick-name, or was it that the disciples in Antioch were so Christ-like in their behaviour that they earned this name out of respect? It was a word which was evidently in common use at a later day (see Acts 26:28 and 1 Pet.4:16). Had it been a nick-name we would hardly think the Holy Spirit would have used it in such a manner as in the latter scripture. [This matter was discussed on a former occasion when we were dealing with the Acts. The word “called” here (Chrematizo) was a word used to describe the transaction of business and came to be imposed on men for their business or office. Sometimes in the New Testament it is translated ” warned,” in which warning God instructed persons as to the doing of His will. Moses was warned regarding the making of the tabernacle, and Noah was warned of the flood and of the necessity of building the ark (Heb.8:5; Heb.11:7). It is used in Acts 11:26 to describe the disciples, and in Rom.7:3 the married woman who during her husband s life-time is joined to another man, that she is an adulteress. The character and conduct in each of these latter cases lead to their being described by true descriptive words—Christians, adulteress. Christians is a true description of these disciples, but whose lips used the word—Christian—for the first time it is perhaps impossible to say.—J.M.].
Here we are introduced to Agabus (see Acts 21:10), a New Testament prophet who not only forth-told, but also fore-told, and through him the disciples in Antioch learned of the famine which was about to befall the inhabited earth. This brings to them the responsibility of meeting the need of their poorer brethren, and they sent relief to those in Judaea. [How seldom do we forestall a need by our giving! Rather we prefer to wait until the need is more than evident before we act.—Jas. M.]. In this act of love they demonstrated their appreciation of the fact, that the movement in which they were was a unity. They were one not only in Christ, but also in the truth. This is the first instance of its kind in the scripture (we do not include Acts 6 as they had at that time all things in common), but it was not the last (Rom.15:26, 1 Cor.16:1-4, 2 Cor.8:1-4 and 2 Cor.9:1-5). We notice the manner in which it was sent—through appointed messengers to the elders, who would distribute according to the need.

—Though Stephen’s powerful and eloquent address resulted in his death, and was the beginning of a great persecution against the Church, even through this the work of the Lord was furthered as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch. Whether taught by divine revelation, or by the prophetic Scriptures, it would be difficult to say, but some of the scattered disciples began to preach the Lord Jesus to the Greeks also. The result of their preaching was that the words of verse 18 were further verified—” that to the Gentiles also hath God granted repentance unto Life.” The Fellowship was one, and the progress of the work at Antioch soon became known to the church at Jerusalem, and Barnabas, a man full of the Holy Spirit and of faith, was sent forth, who, when he was come, with words of sound counsel exhorted them to cleave unto the Lord. Barnabas, seeing that a great work was in progress, went to Tarsus and sought out Paul, and on returning to Antioch they remained with the church for a period of one year, teaching many. It was in this city, and at this period, that the term ” Christians ” was just applied to those who were raised with Christ to walk in newness of life. Although this world-wide famine prophesied by Agabus at this time did not come to pass until the days of Claudius, the disciples at Antioch were so stirred up by his words that each man, according as he was able, purposed to communicate to the necessities of the saints in Judaea, and they sent their ministration by the hand of Barnabas and Paul. (See, in this connection of giving, 2 Cor.9:12-14).
W. Y., A. Y.

—Like the stone cast into the pool, causing a succession of ever-widening circles, so the good-tidings of God spread, urged at times by seemingly natural causes, and at other times by the open signs and miracles of God. Barnabas comes down from Jerusalem to Antioch, glad indeed to see the grace of God in the disciples there. He wants a fellow-labourer gifted in the ministry of the Word, so he goes to Tarsus and brings Saul thence to Antioch. Then, for a whole year, rich truths were poured into the yearning ears of those disciples, gathered together in the church. What abundant labour was bestowed! what fruitful vessels these two brethren were! We look at Barnabas as he is presented to us in this chapter, ” a good man, full of the Spirit, and of faith ” and we turn to Acts 15:36-40, where a sharp contention arose between him and Paul over John Mark, and we get that impartial record, which Scripture alone provides. The time came (2 Tim.4:11) when the Apostle desired John Mark’s presence, for he was useful for ministering.
We wondered, in connection with Acts 11:26, whether the title of Christian was God-given or originated in some other way? [See note in paper from Barrow-in-Furness.—J.M.]. Another question arises— What constitutes a man a disciple? We understand, as one has said, that a disciple is ” one that follows to learn, and learns to follow,” but we wonder (a) if disciples are limited to the Fellowship; or (b) if it follows the broad principle that he acts to the extent that light is granted to him? [A disciple is a learner or pupil, and denotes a follower of the Lord who follows both the Teacher and His teaching. To follow His teaching with a willing heart and a free spirit can lead in one direction only—to the people and house of God. We are not called upon to define outside the Fellowship whom we may or may not describe as a disciple, but it is expected that all those within the Fellowship shall in some sense manifest the tokens of a disciple mentioned above.— J.M.].
We presume that as the word ” Christian ” means ” Christ’s ones ” that this is unconditional and true of all believers in this dispensation. [Christian is a name by which the disciples were described; they were the followers and adherents of Christ. If Christ their Leader was held up to odium by the worldly wise, so the name Christian must have been to the same class. Peter says ” If a man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this name.” He should no more be ashamed of Christian than of Christ from whom it springs. Some believers may be very un-Christian in their behaviour. I should say the name is very conditional.—J.M.].

—God’s way is not man’s way. It is evident that God in His infinite grace had a purpose in the tribulations of these times. Here the disciples started to carry out Matt.28:19 to the letter, because before this they spake to none other save the Jews. The bringing in of the Gentiles was something strange to the Jews. Yet God put His stamp of approval on the work, for His hand was with them (Acts 11:21). 1 Pet.1:7 and 1 Pet.4:12, a comparison of the trials of the saints of the later days, could be profitably considered here. We do not read of an apostle being here while this great work for God is going on. In verse 24 we find three characteristics of a man of God, ” good,” ” full of the Holy Spirit,” and ” full of faith.” We find Paul with the first [?] church of God among the Gentiles, and he is now preaching ” the faith of which he once made havoc ” (Gal.1:13,23). We notice that it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called ” Christians ” or Christ-like ones. We read of the prophet Agabus twice only; once he prophesies of a great famine, and again he prophesies of Paul going to be bound by the Jews at Jerusalem (Acts 21:10). In Acts 11:29 we have a beautiful example in ” giving,” which we will do well to follow. (See also 1 Jn 3:17).

—In considering Acts 11:19 we connected it with Acts 8:1. Following the persecution against the church those that were scattered abroad went everywhere evangelising, and places more distant were reached, for some travelled as far as Phoenicia, and Cyprus, and Antioch in Syria.
The “speaking the word” by the scattered ones was only to the Jews, but when some of them, ” men of Cyprus and Cyrene, came to Antioch they spoke unto the Greeks also.” It was thought that ” the Greeks” were Hellenists (Greek-speaking Jews), for the men of Cyprus and Cyrene had left Jerusalem before Divine revelation had been given to Peter in Acts 10, and up to the time of Acts 11:20,21, they had not Barnabas or Saul to instruct them as to the further revelation of God; i.e., the bringing in of the Gentiles. [These were not Jews to whom the word was spoken, but Greeks—Gentiles. Note the force of the contrast—” to none save only to Jews,” ” they . . . spake to Greeks also.”—J.M.].
Acts 11:21. And the hand of the Lord was with them (in blessing in contrast to Acts 13:11, where the hand of the Lord is seen in judgment), and a great number that believed turned unto the Lord. This at first seemed to express two stages in their experience, first believing on the Lord Jesus, second, the need of subjection and obedience to the Lord. It was afterwards seen by us that their believing and their turning unto the Lord was simultaneous. [Note the reading carefully: “A great number that believed turned unto the Lord,” not “that believed.” Turning to the Lord suggests heart-subjection to His authority, which is not true of all believers at all times.—J.M.].
Acts 11:22 reveals the watchful care by responsible brethren of the church in Jerusalem, in watching over the work of the Lord.
The same care is seen in Acts 8:12, the Divine linking up of the churches.
Acts 11:25. The journey to Tarsus to seek for Saul shows how much Barnabas valued Saul. Labourers two by two in pioneer work was seen to be according to the Divine mind and will. It was also noted that in pioneer work, and establishing the churches formed through their ministry, they stayed “a whole year” Acts 11:26, “long time” Acts 14:3, “a year and six months” Acts 18:11,”two years” Acts 19:11, thus gave the opportunity for a lasting work to be done.
Acts 11:27-29. Reference was made to the famine which created sympathetic feeling in the hearts of the saints towards the need which was to arise in Judaea. Does it not appear that the Acts 11 famine, and the need of those at Jerusalem, mentioned in 1 Cor.16:2, 2 Cor.9., Rom.15:25, were two entirely different occasions? Compare dates. Help would be welcomed. [There is no doubt that the occasions are different; the famine of Acts 11 is much earlier than the time of the need of 1 Cor.16 and 2 Cor.9.— J.M.].
Wm. W.

—The work at Antioch began with the disciples who were scattered abroad from Jerusalem. Evidently those spoken of in Acts 11:19 knew nothing of the decision arrived at in Jerusalem (Acts 11:18), as their preaching was exclusively to the Jews. Those of Acts 11:20 preached to the Greeks also. We would understand from the results (Acts 11:21) that they not only believed on the Lord, but also followed Him. “Turning to the Lord” (Acts 9:35), and “believing on the Lord” (Acts 9:42) may be terms which describe the same thing, but in Acts 11:21, “believing” and “turning” would convey the thought of progression.
When the report of the work in Antioch reached the church in Jerusalem, they sent forth Barnabas, thus extending the right hand of fellowship: the work was one. Barnabas was gladdened at the sight, and through his ministry many were added unto the Lord (compare Acts 5:14).
The magnitude of the work caused him to seek for Saul in Tarsus (Acts 9:30), to whom he was apparently attracted from the outset (see Acts 9:27). For a whole year they taught the disciples. Their teaching produced wonderful results, for, ” the disciples were called Christians (Christ-like ones) first in Antioch.” We concluded, that whoever named them thus, were in the mind of God. See 1 Pet.4:16.
A further evidence of the fellowship which existed between Jerusalem and Antioch is seen, by the visit of the prophets, among whom one, named Agabus, prophesied of a world-wide famine, which came to pass in the days of Claudius. The disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief to Judaea. Here we have fellowship in temporal things, as well as in spiritual things. Did this famine effect the brethren in Judaea more than, say, the brethren in Syria? or were the brethren in Syria wealthier than those in Judaea? Note the principle contained in Rom.15:26,27. This relief was sent by the hand of Barnabas and Saul: would this be at the end of the year referred to in Acts 11:26? [Yes, possibly, but it does not mean that they held up the gift for a year. Acts 11:27 seems to follow verse 26 chronologically and if so, Agabus came to Antioch towards the end of the year mentioned. The emphasis, to my mind, is that the church at Antioch anticipated the need of the already impoverished saints in Judaea and sent help before the effects of famine were actually felt. Josephus gives the date of this famine as A.D:45. Claudius reigned from A.D:41—54, and James was slain (Acts 12:1), according to historians, about A.D:43 or 44.—Jas. M.]

—The words of Matt.28:19,20 are now beginning to have their literal fulfilment, and we might with profit compare the Dispersion recorded in Gen.11 with what we have here. In Genesis, God scattered because of dis-obedience to His word, ” Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” At Babel, men kept together when God would have them spread abroad, but here we see that Satan scattered those whom God had together in testimony. We thought that this scattering was the work of Satan, yet all things were under the over-ruling hand of God, and were also being used by God to the working out of his own purposes.
Those who were scattered were of one heart and soul. Earthly possessions were all left behind [some had prepared for this by selling their possessions, Acts 2:45, Acts 4:34], We were reminded of the words of Heb.10:32-34, ” Ye both had compassion on them that were in bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your possessions.” If—as most thought—the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews was the Apostle Paul, then these words are a testimony to those who were scattered at this time, coming from one who perhaps not only witnessed these things, but very possibly may have been an instrument in the hand of Satan.
Of those who were scattered, some came to Antioch, who spoke to both Jews and Gentiles. We see from Acts 15:23 that there were Gentile believers, apart from the marginal note in Acts 11. ” Grecian Jews.” [The greatest authorities say that it should be Greeks and not Hellenists = Grecian Jews.—J.M.]. As the word is preached, the power of the Spirit is seen, a great number believing and turning to the Lord.
The report of this work reaches Jerusalem and Barnabas is sent down to express their fellowship. The question was asked, ” Have we anything here to show us when the assembly was planted? ” Do the words ” and much people was added unto the Lord,” of Acts 11:24, indicate that the assembly was planted before Barnabas left for Tarsus? [The wording of verse 24 and the full circumstances of the visit of Barnabas would suggest that a church was planted before he left Antioch for Tarsus. Whether one was planted before his arrival at Antioch it is difficult to say. Acts 11:26 suggests that Barnabas and Saul returned to a church already in being.—Jas. M.].
Our attention was drawn to the fact that here was a centre from which God was going to work, an important place in the things of God, and we were asked to note the orderly way in which all these things take their place.
We note that when Barnabas returns with Saul, ” they ” are gathered with the church, and are working together. Would the word¬ing of this verse point to the fact that the church was planted after Barnabas brought Saul to Antioch? [See above.].

We thought that it was those who were without who first called the disciples Christians, meaning ” Christ-ones,” those who followed Christ. It was shown that some translators render this verse, ” Divinely called Christians.”

—The persecution of the disciples, at the time of Stephen’s death, resulted in many reaching, among other parts, Antioch in Syria, a city with an estimated population of 500,000 people; so that what appeared to be a great victory for the adversary was the means by which God wrought His purposes. Men and women who had fled for their very lives were happy and willing to press forward with the good news.
They preached the Lord Jesus. What wonderful results attended their ministry! “A great number believed” and “turned unto the Lord,” that is, they were not only convicted and convinced of the truth of the gospel, they also turned to worship in spirit and in truth. These people who turned to the Lord were Jews, or, as the margin gives it, ” Grecian Jews “—Hellenists, a people whom we judged to be a sect of the Jews who spoke the Greek language, in contrast to those who spoke the Hebrew language. Are we right on this point? [In the N.T. Hellenists = Grecians is used to mean Jews born out of Palestine and speaking the Greek language, and also of proselytes. Hellenes = Greeks is used of the heathen population. The best manuscripts have “Greeks” here and the word “also” would suggest that Gentiles were meant.—Jas. M.].
We wonder why we do not see the same transforming power to-day. We have the same message, and His word has still its ancient power, while all around we hear so little of Christ crucified; thus it rests with us to proclaim the gospel in truth. Let Christ he our constant theme, and let us seek to investigate the cause of the apparent failure. [All seasons are not the same, neither in nature nor grace. There are days of revival and days of declension. The early epistles showed a great advance while the later ones show a serious decline. Those who discern the character of the times will know what to expect, and know, too, what Israel ought to do. Hold-fast is the watchword to be passed along the watchmen on the wall. We live in days of testing, which will become increasingly felt as we approach nearer to the Lord’s return.—J.M.]. It was the work of Barnabas now to teach and exhort, and it seems as if the church of God in Antioch was planted at this time (Acts 11:24). The fruit of the labours of Barnabas and Paul is later evident at Antioch, where we see men of God raised up,, prophets and teachers, leaders of the people of God; and from Antioch we see the Holy Spirit sending forth Saul and Barnabas to the work (Acts 13:1-3).
The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. Some have thought the title was first given by divine appointment. We would value help on this. [See note in paper from Barrow-in-Furness].
E. B., W. C.

—What seems to be utter ruin is often complete salvation; what sometimes is regarded as cruel disaster, turns out to be a blessing. Such was the case with the early church over which a wave of persecution had broken following the death of Stephen.
At first, as was natural, they spoke to Jews only. It would be long before they heard how that Philip had evangelised Samaria, and how by his baptism of the eunuch he had admitted into the church one whom Moses would have excluded from the congregation of Israel.
[Persons are not admitted into the church by baptism. Note in Acts 2:41 that “addition” follows baptism. Though baptism and adding are closely related they signify different things. We might enlarge on this if space allowed.—J.M.]. And the story of Peter and Cornelius was not widely known as yet. In Phoenicia, therefore, and in Cyprus their teaching was confined to the proselytes and Jews, nor was it until the Hellenists of Cyprus and Cyrene had reached Antioch, that they boldly ventured to preach the gospel to the Greeks. It received the seal of God’s blessing and a large multitude of the Greeks turned to the Lord. This fact was stressed, for here we see a complete turning to the Lord, from their idols to serve the living and true God, whereas in the case of the Jews it was, ” they believed,” but with the Gentiles, they ” believed ” and ” turned.” This great blessing excited consider¬able attention in Jerusalem, so much so that Barnabas, that good and large-hearted man, was sent to exhort them. He was a Grecian, sent to the Greeks, and the work multiplied in his hands. But he longed for one who could help him. This helper he found, who was lying •quietly at home waiting his Lord’s call, in the once persecuting Saul of Tarsus. [It may be so, but one can scarcely think of Paul in a state of inactivity in the light of say—Acts 9:20,28,29.—J.M.].
What a splendid front these two men present! The one quiet and unassuming, the other bursting with fiery vigour and energy! No wonder such vast results were obtained by their combined efforts! Antioch, the ” Queen of the East,” as it was then called, was the capital of Syria; no place could have been more suited for the starting point of their great campaign, and their subsequent journeyings far afield to the Gentiles.

—These scattered saints preached the ” Lord Jesus ” (no doubt remembering Acts 4:12) and many believed .and turned unto the Lord. We think to-day, that this is sadly lacking. By the action of the church at Jerusalem in sending Barnabas, we see the unity of that which was for God. How heartening indeed for Barnabas to see ” the grace of God ” at Antioch! And how heartening to ministering brethren to-day it would be, to find such, as they go from place to place; and, above all other things, how God-honouring and God-pleasing! We are thankful for any little measure that this obtains to-day. Further, Barnabas exhorts the saints to cleave unto the Lord, with purpose of heart; we think here of Daniel.
It is noticeable that Barnabas leaves the work at Antioch to bring Saul as a helper.
The disciples were at one time called Galileans and Nazarenes, but they had so multiplied and included so many different types of people that these titles do not fittingly comprise all, and it is in Antioch that they are called ” Christians,” ” Christ-like ones.” Now though there is a measure of timidity in taking the name of disciple to oneself, yet many, alas! falsely take that of Christian. We think that there is no difference in the meaning of these names, and to be one in truth, is to be the other.
In Acts 11:29 we see the disciples cheerfully giving as they had ability, to brethren in Judaea, which gift is sent by the hand of Barnabas and Saul, two very worthy servants.

FROM ILFORD.—The work is here seen in a new centre—Antioch, a Gentile city famous as a centre of culture and commerce. The effort here, a consequence of the great persecution, saw many saved and turned to the Lord.
At this significant juncture Barnabas, realising the need of a zealous worker and assuredly Divinely led, went off to Tarsus for Saul. This, for both of them, was the beginning of happy years in the Lord’s service as co-workers, and, for Saul in particular, was the entry into the main channel of the spiritual activities of a lifetime devoted to the Lord Jesus.
Some think that the name ” Christian ” implied some measure of the contempt in which the disciples were generally held by the Gentiles, while others referred to some worthy authorities who say that the disciples were called ” Christians,” divinely (oracularly).
F. W. J.

—While Peter was declaring to his fellow-apostles the conversion of Cornelius and his friends, the Holy Spirit was working in other places also, through those who had been scattered abroad. Many had travelled north as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to Jews only, but there were some who, when they reached Antioch, preached the gospel also to the Greeks.
The narrative does not indicate whether this work commenced before that of Peter’s at Caesarea, although, from the words of the Lord to Peter in Matt.16:19, and Peter’s words in Acts 15:7—” God made choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel, and believe”—it would seem that the work at Antioch followed that of Caesarea. In any event, the report of this work came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem after they had heard from Peter of the conversion of the Gentiles.
The parts into which the disciples were scattered were well situated as centres from which the gospel could be spread abroad. In Phoenicia were the two important seaports of Tyre and Sidon, with a world trade, and it would appear from Acts 21:4 and Acts 27:3 there were disciples in both these places and possibly churches also. Antioch, the capital of Syria, was a very important centre of Roman influence in the eastern part of the empire.
Barnabas is seen to be a man of excellent character and eminently suited for confirming the work which was taking place in Antioch. He was a native of Cyprus, and it was men of Cyprus and Cyrene who had preached the word to the Greeks. His gift of exhortation and encouragement is strikingly set forth in the Acts. He it was who took Saul and introduced him to the Apostles in Jerusalem, and now at Antioch he goes forth to Tarsus to seek for Saul, as one whom he knew would be exercised about the work of the Lord among the Gentiles. Being heart and soul in this work, it gives him joy to see what the grace of God has wrought in the changed lives of those who have believed, and from his own experience he is able to exhort them to cleave unto the Lord with purpose of heart. The numbers of the disciples in Antioch increased, and when Barnabas returned from Tarsus with Saul, they continued for a whole year preaching the gospel and teaching the will of the Lord.
It was at Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians. Some discussion took place as to how they came to be called by this name, and whether it was given by divine direction. The following points are submitted:—
(1) It is evident that the name ” Christians ” arose from the need of a name to describe that growing company of people, both Jews and Gentiles, who, in their testimony, conversation, and worship, were characterised by the prominence given to the Person and work of Christ. It is a name having a Latin ending, similar to ” Herodians,” “Corinthians,” etc., and simply means “men of Christ.” It was used for the first time in a Roman city, and this, together with its Latin suffix, points to Roman or Greek origin. The Jews are hardly likely to have introduced it, as it implied an admission of Messiahship of the One they had rejected.
(2) It is very noticeable how infrequently the name is used in the New Testament, occurring only twice elsewhere. In Acts 26:28 King Agrippa, when speaking to Paul, uses the name, and Peter in his epistle says, ” If a man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this name ” (1 Pet.4:16). Probably James also refers to it as ” the honourable name by which ye are called ” (Jas.2:7).
(3) A study of each of the above cases will reveal that the name is used as coming from without, being used as the name by which the disciples were known to people outside the churches, rather than as emanating from within. When speaking between themselves, the disciples nearly always referred to each other by the common name ” brethren,” which was the usual Jewish practice.
(4) The use of the name in these instances is evidence that the disciples and the Apostles accepted it as a most appropriate and excellent name. The manner in which the Holy Spirit uses it through the inspired writers, is just as God would use any other name, whether given by God or man, but with some measure of approval as to its appropriateness.
(5) The word translated “called” which precedes “Christians” is said to be used in two ways. The first indicates a divine call, i.e., to utter an oracle, or to be called or warned of God, being rendered, ” warned ” (of God) in the case of Cornelius (Acts 10:22), also of Joseph and Mary in Matt.2:12, and of Noah in Heb.11:7. In each of these three occurrences the words ” of God ” are added to indicate a divine call. Secondly, it is used in a secular connection,, meaning ” to bear as a title,” and it is apparently in this sense that it is used in the verse before us. A parallel passage is Rom.7:3. ” She shall be called an adulteress,” and in neither of these instances is the calling said to be “of God.”
From a consideration of the above points, it does seen that the weight of evidence is that the name “Christians” was not given by divine direction, but that it originated from people (Gentiles) who were outside the churches of God. Its acceptance, however, by those who were within, and the manner in which the Holy Spirit uses the name, leaves us in no doubt as to the right to apply this name to disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ [when such are being spoken of to those who are not disciples; see (3).—A. T. D.].


FROM ST. HELENS.—Herod the king was certainly after earthly honour, and knew that in persecuting those whose heart was set on the Lord Jesus Christ, he would just please his own people. He was one of Satan’s tools or servants, to hinder the work of God. So Herod stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church and he killed James the brother of John. Such makes us thank our God out of a full heart for the land in which our lot is cast, its rulers and its king,, for the peace and quietness which we enjoy.

We were told that the Jews had four modes of putting to death: (1) stoning, (2) burning, (3) killing with the sword (beheading), and (4) strangling. Herod beheaded James and then had Peter arrested and cast into prison, but then Peter’s God intervened, and delivered Peter from under the hand of Herod, freed him from prison, loosed him of the chains, and took him to the house of Mary, the mother of John (Mark), where many were gathered together praying. This is precious; let us then pray without ceasing for one another. ” If God be for us, who can be against us? ” and again, ” Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me ” (Ps.23:4. See also Ps.46:1).
As for Herod, he was smitten by the angel of God, eaten by worms and then gave up the spirit. Whatever a man soweth that shall he also reap. Let us pray for the king, and for all men, that they be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth, and that we may lead a tranquil life in all godliness (1 Tim.2:1-4).
A. L., F. HURST.
FROM BARROW-IN-FURNESS.—In Acts 12:1-19, we have demon¬strated the power of collective prayer. In the face of what seemed insurmountable difficulty, the supplications of righteous persons availed much in their working (see Jas.5:16). The first of the Apostles to be slain was James the brother of John, and this is in striking fulfilment of the words of the Lord Jesus (Matt.20:22-23). The action of Herod pleased the Jews; thus it is evident that their hatred for the name of Jesus was still unabated. So he seized Peter also. How securely he guarded him! Sixteen soldiers to keep him, and also bound with two chains. Peter, however, seemed the least concerned in this latest trial which had come upon the church, but prayer was made earnestly of the church for him. Here we have the collective prayer of the assembly. They had a definite object in their prayer, and, we take it, they did not meet for one hour weekly, but from the reading it would seem to have been a daily exercise (see also Acts 1:14). The house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, was thrown open to the saints, and we would think that it was used regularly for the assembling of the saints, for when Peter was released he knew where to find the brethren, and made his way thither. What surprise was manifested when he appeared at the gate! Surely here is a lesson for us. Do we pray in faith? Are we expecting the fulfilment of our cries to God? or do we pray as a matter of duty and not of exercise? Prayer and faith are essentially bound together; without faith prayer is void. We are willing to think that those who prayed for the deliverance of Peter looked forward to his release, but little did they expect him to be released in such a miraculous manner. First they said to the maid, ” Thou art mad “; then, ” It is his angel “; and then they were amazed when they saw him. Peter quickly departed to another place, thus complying with the Lord’s own words: ” If they persecute you in one city flee to another.”
A life was nothing to Herod, a ruthless man who shed blood needlessly. The guards were put to death, adding another act of violence to his account. His own end came quickly as the people well nigh deified the man in declaring, ” The voice of a god and not of a man,” and Herod in his vanity received their acclamations. God smote him and he died a fearsome death. J. McC.
FROM LONDON, S.E.—Round about the time of the arrival of Saul and Barnabas in Jerusalem we get a period of extreme distress

to the church at Jerusalem which had now enjoyed some five years of unbroken peace.
The cause of all this unrest was Herod Agrippa, grandson of the Herod ruling at the time of the Lord’s birth. He had succeeded to the title of king under Claudius Caesar. Agrippa adopted the subtle policy of facing both ways, so as to please both the Jews and the Romans. Living in the lap of Gentile luxury, he affected the reputation of a devoted Pharisee.
He had always fostered an intense dislike to the early Christians, so now he set about to lay waste the church.
James, as the elder brother of the beloved apostle, and as one of the earliest and most favoured apostles, seemed to have had a sort of precedence at Jerusalem, and for this reason he was suddenly seized and martyred. Luke, who had narrated at such length the death of Stephen, describes the death of the first apostle very briefly indeed. The approbation of this act by the Jews stimulated the king, to whom nothing was so sweet as the voice of popular applause. Peter was then arrested. This blow was yet more terrible, as Peter was the most prominent of all the Apostles. Peter was well guarded and kept in close custody, bound by each arm to two soldiers. The church prayed earnestly, aware of what the loss of one so great and gifted would be to them. The last night of the feast had come, and on the morrow Peter would once more be led forth, but in their last extremity God had not forsaken His apostle or His church. On that night Peter, by divine deliverance, is freed, and goes to the house of Mary the mother of John Mark.
Then we get the death of Herod at the very pinnacle of his career. God doth indeed ” move in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform.” This man, who had dogged the footsteps of the Apostles, and who had persecuted the church, is plucked away in a moment, and (what an end!) eaten by worms.

—The time spoken of refers to the famine foretold by Agabus. King Herod Agrippa (a grandson of Herod the Great) was a strict Jew, and in the year 44 A.D. commenced his second persecution by killing James, the son of Zebedee. We are here reminded of Matt.20:23 when the Lord Jesus spoke to James and John. Herod attempts to afflict further by imprisoning Peter, purposing his execution after the Passover (see Matt.26:4-5) in order to gain favour with the people, and this brings before us Pilate delivering up Jesus to keep in favour with the people and to retain the friendship of Caesar. Herod no doubt thought Peter safe in the inner prison, but Peter was not standing alone, for there was a people who prayed without ceasing on his behalf. Pray one for another (Jas.5:16); He heareth us (1 Jn 5:14); . . . for all saints (Eph.6:18); . . . for all men (1 Tim.2:1-2). God was well pleased to bring forth His servant. ” If God be for us who is against us? ” (Rom.8:31). ” The Lord is my Helper, I shall not fear, what shall man do unto me? ” (Heb.13:6). The angel guided Peter from the prison, leaving the soldiers asleep; we may see here two pictures—(1) of a sinner awakened to his need and accepting God’s salvation, yet others, dead in sin, know nothing of the great happening which has occurred at their very side; (2) of when the Lord Himself comes, only those that are His will know aught about it—the world, like the soldiers, will slumber on, perhaps only to waken to an awful death.
When Peter comes to the house of Mary, prayer is still going up on his behalf, and they doubt Rhoda’s word that Peter was at the gate.

In this reply we see the reason even to-day of much unanswered prayer; that which they have earnestly prayed about, God had done for them and they are found doubting. How humble this should make us, for we are such-like people! how true the words of the Lord Jesus— ” Oh ye of little faith! ” Satan has used Herod to try to hinder and perhaps overthrow that which is for God, yet he now drives his tool to his doom. Herod makes a wonderful oration, causing the cry to go up—” The voice of a god and not of a man.” How this should have caused him to tremble! Yet we see (Gen.3:5—” Ye shall be as God “) that in the pride of his heart he takes the honour to himself.

—James has drunk indeed of the Lord’s cup, and Herod proceeds to stain further the sword with another man’s blood,, namely Peter. Rome, so famed for its administration of justice, had its honour often besmirched by the actions of her rulers. Herod, rather than have trouble from the fiery inhabitants of Judaea, and so cause it to be brought before the Emperor, sought favour with the Jews, and afflicted the church, thus palliating the elders of the nation. Matters began to look black for the church in Jerusalem, but they gave themselves earnestly to prayer. To us the word ” earnestly ” is very striking. Imagine Peter within the prison, bound with chains to two soldiers, guards keeping the prison, and his end is certain, after the Passover. But in face of the seemingly impossible, prayer ascended. If God rewarded according to the extent of our faith, then the results would be small, too, but He is able to grant, exceeding above all that we can ask or think, and the miracle takes place, and Peter, a released man, makes for the house of the mother of John Mark, where a company were together ” praying.” An astonished Rhoda disturbs the company by saying Peter is outside, and we see ourselves saying, as they did, “Thou art mad.” What a wonderful combination is to be seen! ” My strength is made perfect in weakness ” is true now, as then. Such manifold power, blended with such sublime simplicity, demands our assent that all is Divine, and beyond our ken. So the chain of incidents is added to—-James killed, Peter delivered, Herod eaten of worms. God’s ways, that are past tracing out, take a James away from the scene at such a time; and then we read of the hand of judgment upon an ungodly man. May we long more to be well-pleasing unto God. Failure there always will be, and though the unbeliever may consider incidents in our life but mere coincidences, the spiritual eye responds and urges the soul to appreciate more and more the benefits that flow from an ever-gracious Hand.
—James tastes at last the cup of which the Lord forewarned him (Matt.20:23). Herod observed the effect of James’s murder, and desiring to gratify the Jews still further, lays hold of Peter with like intent. The church was, however, alive to the crisis,, and from their example we should learn the value of collective prayer.
Peter expected to die, but, in the serenity of faith, with unconcern he sleeps soundly on the eve of execution. The church had hardly expected such an answer to prayer as this miraculous release, and thought that surely Herod had killed Peter treacherously. Did they think so because they supposed his angel to be at the gate? What was Peter’s angel? Could they have thought it to be his guardian angel (Matt.18:10, Heb.1:14)? [See answer to question from Middlesbrough.—J.M.].
F. W. J.


Was there a church of God in Antioch before Barnabas went down?

QUESTION FROM BRANTFORD.—Have we any proof that there was a church of God in Antioch before Barnabas was sent?
ANSWER.—The answer to such questions as these lies in what is meant by turning unto the Lord (verse 21), and, who are those described in verse 24: ” Much people was added unto the Lord.” This fatter statement undoubtedly signifies the bringing of persons into a definite collective position. If we read thus ” He exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord . . . and much people was added unto the Lord,” leaving out the reference to the character of Barnabas, it seems to lead us to the conclusion that those who were added were those who earlier believed and turned to the Lord, so that they did not take up assembly position till the arrival of Barnabas.—J.M.
QUESTION FROM HAMILTON.—Would the words of verse 21 prove that churches were planted in various places?
ANSWER.—See reply to Glasgow and Brantford. Turning to the Lord is evidently the act of disciples bowing their hearts to the Lord’s authority, but it may not necessarily imply the taking of assembly position.—J.M.
QUESTIONS FROM MIDDLESBROUGH.—(1) What is meant by Peter’s angel (Acts 12:15)? Did Peter not know of the Lord’s death, or does verse 17 refer to the Lord’s brother?
ANSWER.—It is difficult to say what is meant by people who say, almost with the same breath, of Rhoda: ” Thou art mad,” and of Peter: ” It is his angel.” The closest resemblance to what is here is what the Lord says about little ones—” Their angels do always behold the face of My Father which is in heaven ” (Matt.18:10). Then we have the words of Heb.1:14, as to the ministration of angels. Much has been said about each one having a guardian angel, and we must be careful not to build sentimentally on the words of Acts 12:15, that it is so. Think of the words of Ps.91:11; angels had charge over God’s incarnate Son, not an angel.
I do not understand the second part of our friend’s question.— J.M.
(2) Would we understand from verses 20-23 that Herod could persecute the church as much as possible, but as soon as he took to himself the glory of God, God came in in judgment?
Had the church in Jerusalem been a disappointment in not going forth to spread the gospel (Mk.16:15) and therefore God allowed Satan to use Herod to scatter abroad the Word?
ANSWER.—Herod could not persecute the church more than God permitted him to do. The liberation of Peter shows that clearly. His sin reached high-watermark when he was proclaimed a god, and a worm-eaten god is a strange god. Verses 23 and 24 are seen in sharp contrast, in what is true of Herod and the work of the church in Jerusalem—” He was eaten of worms.” ” But the word of God grew and multiplied.” Eaten! Grew! Though man always comes short, yet we cannot say that God was disappointed in His saints in Jerusalem: the}’ bore the test and carried forward the good work.—J.M.

FROM GREENOCK.—The attitude of Satan in this chapter is that of the ” Roaring Lion,” but though he is mighty yet ” God is stronger than His foes.” Having instigated the wicked Herod to kill James, he stirs him to seize Peter, with the idea of gaining popularity with the Jews.
Earnest prayer is made to God by the church on Peter’s behalf, and, just before the break of day, God delivered him in a most remark¬able way.
Would this be a recognised assembly meeting in verse 12? [Our Barrow friends suggest a solution. They did not meet one hour weekly for prayer in these days of great trials. It was more probably a daily exercise. Acts 1:14.—JAS. M.]. It would seem that John Mark’s mother was a widow.
Although they were praying on Peter’s behalf it would seem that they little expected such a manifestation of the power of God, and Rhoda was subjected to some hasty criticism on her confident affirmation that Peter was at the gate.
In the opening verses, Satan, through Herod, seems to be triumphing; but the tables are turned as we come to the end. Peter is released to continue in the Lord’s work and Herod is removed—the judgment of God falling on him.


—In Acts 12:25 we get the return of Barnabas and Saul to Antioch after they had gone up to Jerusalem conveying the gifts to the famine-stricken saints in Judaea (Acts 11:29-30).
We get the very definite separation of Barnabas and Saul unto a specific work by the Holy Spirit. This portion shows us, too, a very definite fact, i.e., the personality of the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:2-4). A question regarding fasting arose and it was thought that this was not necessarily a fasting of the body, but rather an affliction of soul and a

waiting upon God in prayer. [Note the words ” fasted and prayed “; there is no reason to doubt that the fasting means that they abstained from taking food for the body. This would have the effect, no doubt, of what our friends suggest—affliction of soul.—J.M.]. The laying on of hands, too, was the extending to the two men the right hand of fellowship and the sending away with the consciousness that they had the whole church behind them. [No doubt they would be conscious that the church was behind them, but the church in Antioch shared no responsibility in the sending forth of Barnabas and Saul. ” They sent them away ” of verse 3 refers to the prophets and teachers, and they sent away those whom the Holy Spirit ” sent forth ” (verse 4).— J.M.].
The hand of the Lord was very definitely shown in the dealing with Elymas.
Verse 15 was commented on as showing the divine division of the Law and the Prophets.
The address of Paul—his old name is now dropped—is very similar to that of Stephen in that he throws them back on their past history, and it was suggested that the address of Stephen had impressed itself on the apostle who had stood by at the time. Two interesting facts were commented on, the 450 years of the Judges, and the 40 years of Saul’s reign.
How wonderful are the ways of God! Though they heard the words of the prophets, which were read every Sabbath, they knew them not, and yet they fulfilled them when they condemned the Messiah. The Jews, however, rejected still, but the Gentiles desired the word to be spoken again (verse 42). The Jews, being unable to refute that word, began to contradict and blaspheme, and were plainly told that the word would be taken to the Gentiles.
The animosity of the Jews, however, was raised to such a pitch that they stirred up devout and honourable women and the chief men and expelled Paul and Barnabas out of their borders, and we read the solemn fact that they shook off the dust of their feet against them. Paul is now placed first, and instead of Barnabas and Paul it is now Paul and Barnabas.
—Since the scattering abroad of the disciples, recorded in Acts 8, Antioch, in Syria, seems to figure as a centre in the things of God. We do not attribute this to geographical location, but to the special gifts that God had placed in the church there.
The prophets and teachers, under the leading of the Holy Spirit, are here seen sharing in the responsibility of spreading the gospel to the Gentiles (see verse 3, ” they sent them away “).
Verse 2 caused us some deep thought as to the manner in which the Holy Spirit said, ” Separate Me Barnabas and Saul.” This is a unique case. Would it be probable that there was a deep conviction amongst those assembled, based upon the revealed will of God concerning Saul and Barnabas? [Note Acts 21:11 regarding the words of Agabus the prophet, ” Thus saith the Holy Spirit, so shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man,” and so forth; also the fact that there were prophets in the church in Antioch. It seems proper to conclude that the Spirit’s message came by one of the prophets.—J.M.].
In Acts 9:15 we can find the testimony of the Lord to Ananias concerning Saul. Then again in Acts 26:16-18 the Lord’s words to him at the time of his conversion. The disciples at Antioch would be aware of these.

In the case of Barnabas, we see that the brethren recognised his gift when they sent him from Jerusalem to Antioch. The Holy Spirit’s testimony of him is—” He was a good man and full of the Holy Spirit.” Such were some of the qualifications of those sent into the field.
As we proceed in the chapter we find Paul and Barnabas at their work. Paul was the chief speaker. We note the simplicity of Paul’s speech, how he laboured to convince the Jews that salvation is ” not of works,” but by God’s free grace (verses 38-39). Their labour was richly blessed.
—Jerusalem was the centre of the gospel to the Jews. Antioch was the Gentile centre. It was the third city in the world at this time, with a population of 500,000, quite convenient to the Mediterranean. Many believers had fled thither from Jerusalem; and there was a healthy church there, in which were prophets and teachers. Paul and Barnabas spent a year with the church at Antioch (Acts 11:26).
The Holy Spirit has a further work to perform, and says, ” Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” He who made and loved the world, and knew its need, now sends them forth.
To human judgment Saul might not appear to be physically fit for all that lay before him, but He who seeth not as man seeth knew his qualities and fitted him for the work, so, after prayer and fasting, they are sent forth by those responsible, and in full fellowship with the church at Antioch.
This first journey, geographically, may be described as a circular tour. They first proclaimed the Word of God in the Jewish synagogue at Salamis; they then went through the whole island of Cyprus, about 100 miles in length, and met with their first opposition at Paphos, from a false prophet Bar-jesus, who tried to prevent the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, from hearing the Word of God. Paul deals with him, smiting him with blindness; as a result of which the proconsul believes.
After this Paul evidently takes the lead and we now find the words—” Paul and his company,” his name being changed from Saul to Paul.
John Mark for some reason, evidently blameworthy, as he later was the means of Paul and Barnabas separating, returned to Jerusalem, and Paul and Barnabas reached Antioch in Pisidia. After the reading of the law and the prophets in the synagogue there, they were invited to give a word of exhortation, and there is then given to us the first recorded address by Paul, perhaps based on the portions of the word just read.
He commences with God’s choice of Israel as a people, shows that the promised seed, the Lord Jesus Christ, came through David; he charges the Jews with His death, proves His resurrection, and declares unto them the forgiveness of sins through faith, apart from the deeds of the law. Many were interested, and the next Sabbath almost the whole city was gathered together to hear the word of God. Truly the Holy Spirit was using the labours of the chosen witnesses.
Again the Jews opposed the word, and Paul and Barnabas speak out boldly: ” Lo, we turn to the Gentiles.”
Many of the Gentiles believed, and the word of the Lord was spread abroad throughout all the region, causing the disciples to be filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

—To endeavour to follow the experience of John Mark is interesting as well as instructive. Paul brought him from Jerusalem to Antioch. When Paul and Barnabas went out in the work, Mark accompanied them as their attendant. We assume that he was in the capacity of body servant, although this does not ignore the probability that he was a man with a measure of gift in proclaiming the word of God. [The same word as describes Mark—attendant—is used in (shall we say?) its higher sense of those whom the Lord calls ” My attendants ” (Jn 18:36), and ” attendants of the word ” (Lk.1:2), and in its verbal form of David who “served ” the counsel of God (Acts 13:36). “Their attendant” would show that John’s prime function, as a traveller with the Apostles, was to attend to them, under their direction and to their personal necessities, which would not preclude him from sharing in spiritual work—which Acts 15:38 bears out. The original word signifies a rower who rows under the direction of others.—J.M.], This is very evident from the association of Mark and the work in Acts 15:38. Why he should leave the servants of God we are not told, but he soon returned to his home in Jerusalem (Acts 13:13). Were the hardships too great for him? or was his heart drawn to his godly mother in Jerusalem, whose house was open to the saints of God? [Some have suggested another reason; his apprehension as to Paul’s teaching amongst the Gentiles, because he (Mark) had not got rid of the strong influence of Judaism. But without clear evidence one way or another, it may be wisest to “wait and see.”—J.M.]. Whatever the reason, this incident proved a great set-back to Mark, and it was the cause of two noble men separating. Acts 15:36-41 tells us of the sad parting of Barnabas and Paul. It would seem that Paul had for the moment lost confidence in Mark. It may be he had such a principle in mind as was spoken by his Master: No man having put his hand to the plough and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. Barnabas, however, desired to take John Mark with them. Maybe he was influenced by family considerations, seeing that Mark was his cousin (see Col.4:10). From the Colossian scripture we notice that Paul’s interest in him is revived and he is specially commended to the church in Colossal. Philn.1:24 shows Mark in Rome, linked with those who are called ” my fellow-workers “; he has now his old standing in the work; confidence in him has been restored. Then in 2 Tim.4:11 we read, ” Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is useful to me for ministering “—we take it this means personal ministry. [I do not understand that this refers to Mark’s attendance on the Apostle in prison, but his usefulness in the Lord’s service; in the light of the fact that Demas is gone back into the world, having forsaken the Apostle, not as to his personal wants, Crescens has gone too to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Such gaps in the service in Rome will be filled by Timothy and Mark at their coming.—J.M.]. Hence the last and the first references to Mark point him out as a servant. Restored by the grace of God he is used to His glory in the writing of the Gospel which bears his name, depicting the Lord Jesus as the perfect servant. In the church in Antioch there were prophets and teachers, five of whom are named in Acts 13:1. These ministered to the Lord and fasted (verse 2); they fasted and prayed (verse 3). We take the words literally. Is there any principle involved for us in this fasting? [It is not enjoined upon us in this dispensation. Compare Lev.16:29 with Ps.35:13, and it will be seen that affliction of soul was connected with fasting, and Ps.35:13 with Isa.58:4, and it will also be seen that fasting and prayer are joined together. The sin question having been settled once for all the affliction of the day of atonement (what the Jews now call ” the black fast “) is past, and we must not join a piece of a new garment to an old one. See the parable in Lk.5:33-39 spoken in connection with fasting. But it might be found useful in the advancement of spiritual life if there was less feasting and more fasting, so that the heart might be more concen¬trated on ministry (verse 2) and prayer (verse 3). There is increasingly these days the need that the spiritual requirements of the new man should be cared for, and our natural needs receive less attention.— J.M.]. There is little of this, if any, in our day, yet these early disciples, on occasions as these, fasted. Was it one of the remains of the old covenant? We would invite comment on this. Acts 13:1-3 are important verses, for they show that those who are sent forth to labour for God, are called and sent forth by the Holy Spirit. It is not a man-made ministry, neither can any man say when he will take this work upon him. The Holy Spirit said, ” Separate me Barnabas and Saul.” They were called to a definite work and the brethren identified them¬ selves with them in the laying on of their hands; with such a sending- forth there was no reason to doubt the success of their ministry. Paul’s address to his country-men makes absorbing reading, as in simple language he seeks to bring before them Jesus as the Christ. The disobedience of the Jews, however, caused Paul and Barnabas to turn to the Gentiles, and there was joy, for the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:52).
-The characteristic of our portion might be expressed by the word activity. Opposition seems to have been first met with in the Island of Paphos, the opposer being Elymas the sorcerer, who withstood them, and sought to turn aside a convert, Sergius Paulus the proconsul, from the faith. [The proconsul was not a convert until later; before Paul dealt with the sorcerer, Sergius was ” a man of understanding ” (verse 7); after that event, he “believed” (verse 12).—A.T.D.]. Saul’s righteous indignation being aroused, he, being filled with the Holy Spirit, denounced Elymas and pronounced judgment from the Lord upon him, the effect of which became evident in the sorcerer becoming blind. Seeing this the proconsul was strengthened in the faith and the teaching of the Lord through Saul. [See remark above.] Sergius Paulus thus grasps his opportunity of salvation.
Following this, John Mark’s going back reminded us of the solemn truth, ” No one, having put his hand to the plough and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” We recall how the Children of Israel looked back to Egypt, and thus with most of them God was not well pleased. Where are we looking? The exhortation to us is to look unto Jesus.
On reading the address of the Apostle Paul at Antioch in Pisidia, it is noticeable the concise way in which the outstanding facts are picked from Israel’s history. The following Sabbath the Jews contradicted the things spoken by Paul, and brought forth from him the additional truth, ” Seeing ye thrust it ” (the word of God) ” from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” Many of the Gentiles who were present gladly received the word and believed, but the unbelieving Jews stirred up such a persecution that Barnabas and Saul had to leave, but carrying with them the assurance that their labour had not been in vain in the Lord.
W. Y., A. T.

—Chapter 13 opens up what seems to be a distinct stage in Luke’s narrative. We were interested to note that Barnabas and Saul were definitely separated by the Holy Spirit to the work whereunto they were already called. Some of us were inclined to think that the medium of the speaking of the Spirit was through the prophets and teachers mentioned in verse 1, since the words are recorded, ” As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said,” etc. As to this ministry we suppose it was simply that in connection with their ministry, as prophets and teachers.
Called and separated to the work, Barnabas and Saul, sent forth with the prayers and fellowship of the church [As I have pointed out in the London paper, the church in Antioch are not seen in the sending away of Barnabas and Saul. This is a more vital matter than may appear on the surface.—J.M.] lose no time, but quickly set out, accompanied by their attendant, John Mark. We suggest, since we do not read of John Mark being called to the work, that his attendance on the Apostles did not include the preaching of the Word. [While he is not sent forth by the Holy Spirit as Barnabas and Saul were, and he was taken by them as their attendant, yet the fact that Barnabas took John Mark, as recorded in Acts 15:37, and what is said of Mark afterwards, shows that he had gift and aptitude for work in spiritual things which must have an outlet.—J.M.] The Apostles soon find themselves face to face with the opposition of Satan in the person of Elymas the sorcerer, who, true to the age-long character of his master, seeks to pervert the right ways of the Lord before Sergius Paulus. God’s Word triumphs, and we read with joy of the pro¬consul believing the message of the Apostles.
Acts 13:13 tells us of John Mark returning to Jerusalem, which had its serious consequences at a later date. At Antioch in Pisidia they enter a synagogue, and we noted in passing that the rulers of the synagogue sent, inviting them to speak. The Apostles take advantage of the invitation, and Saul, now called Paul, addresses a company composed of ” men of Israel and ye that fear God,” bringing before them the truths concerning the fulfilment of the promise unto the fathers. We had a little difficulty regarding the meaning of the phrase in verse 33, ” He raised up Jesus.” Does this refer to His resurrection from the dead, or is it in the same sense as Acts 7:37— ” A prophet shall God raise up unto you,” etc? [The raising up of verse 33 has to do with the coming of Christ in fulfilment of the promise, that He would be the Son of David and Son of Abraham. It is like the raising up of David in verse 22. The raising up of verse 33 is in contrast to that of verse 34; the latter has to do with His resurrection. —J.M.] These words in the following verse, ” I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David,” we thought, would involve the Throne and the Seed, spoken of in 2 Sam.7:16 and Ps.89:35-36 and other scriptures. In the Apostle’s second discourse, which took place the following Sabbath, we read that almost the whole city was gathered to hear the Word spoken. But the Jews stirred up a persecution against the Apostles and cast them out of their borders with the result that Paul and Barnabas shook the dust off their feet against them, thus reminding us of the words of the Lord Jesus in Matt.10:15, ” It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.”
—The opening verses of chapter 13 raised the question, “Are there prophets today? ” [There are neither apostles nor prophets to-day. These were gifts that were connected with the foundation, as we have it in Eph.2:20. But this does not carry with it that prophesying, as we have it in 1 Cor.14., is now a thing of the past. Prophesying is for the edification of the church (verse 4) and is for edification, comfort and consolation (verse 3).—J.M.] It was stated that as the canon of scripture is now complete, the prophets have passed away. [Did the prophets of the New Testament, such as are referred to here, add to the canon of scripture? This argument seems to me a little weak.—A.T.D.] It was thought that the teacher had taken the place of the prophet.
A false prophet was used by Satan to try to hinder the progress of the word, yet this man was but used to prove the authority of the word which was spoken by the Apostle Paul.
These two servants would go to the synagogue, because it was there that they would have the best opportunity of speaking to the people. They do not put themselves forward, but wait till the law and the prophets have been read. It was suggested that the privilege to speak was one that was given to strangers; right well did Paul take the opportunity.
With great power the word must have been spoken, for there were those who followed Paul and Barnabas, and others who wished to hear this word again. The next Sabbath saw ” almost the whole city” together to hear the word. How sad to see the part which those Jews took! they were filled with jealousy. They could not bear to see so many under the sound of the word of God, hearing the message which went out to the Gentiles also. In this Paul is able to take them to Isaiah the prophet.
” As many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” A little difficulty was expressed regarding this verse, but most thought that as Luke looked back upon the incident, this was how he recorded the salvation of so many people. One brother remarked that these words should but encourage us to go on in the preaching of the gospel.
As the word is still spreading, the Jews spare no trouble in raising a persecution against the two servants of God, until they have them cast out of their borders. Though Paul and Barnabas had gone, the work continued, for the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Spirit.

—How contrasted is the corruptibility of human flesh in the closing verses of chapter 12. with the incorruptible Word of God—Herod perished; the Word grew and multiplied! Great gifts were evident in the church at Antioch, and whole-heartedness seems to be seen as they ministered to the Lord. Because of this (Verse 2 indicates an occasion and not a reason.—A.T.D.] the Holy-Spirit speaks through the present prophets [It is not stated how the Holy Spirit’s message was given.—A.T.D.] to the church, “setting apart ” Saul and Barnabas for a work which was prepared for them, and the church through the elders sent them away. [This error has again and again been stated. The church does not share in the act of sending forth the Apostles Barnabas and Saul.—J.M.] They were accompanied by John Mark as an attendant; a young man who came of a godly household (Acts 12:12), but one who withdrew from the work, which was instrumental in parting Saul and Barnabas at a later date. His action suggests to us the possibility that he had not been called to the ” work ” and, it may be, he had but followed with the brethren because of his mother’s desire, whereas if there is to be continuity, it must be that spontaneous love to the Lord which ” calls ” and energises the disciple for the work. [There is no indication that

his mother played any part in Mark’s going with the Apostles. Had God called him, Mark’s action might have had more serious consequences for himself than it had, but Paul and Barnabas took him, and Paul could refuse to take him because he had failed them as an attendant at an earlier time.—J.M.], We visualise the two brethren entering the synagogue at Antioch of Pisidia. It may be the building was used (as synagogues belonging to Jews were, in the main) as a place of fraternisation, where the topics of the day were talked over, after the formal reading of the Law and the Prophets had taken place, and very often strangers present were called upon to enlighten the audience—perhaps we should have said ” brighten ” them with a word of exhortation. Picture Paul standing, beckoning with the hand, consumed with knowledge and zeal, and we find that his brilliant ” tracing the course of all things from the beginning ” had a wonderful effect. Never before, we judge, had words of like character, that stirred and thrilled their hearts so, fallen upon their ears. Paul and Barnabas had sanctified their gifts to the calling of God, and we judge that where this is the case there will be no possibility of a languid address, but rather, one that interests those that are gathered, so that they besought that these words might be spoken to them on the following Sabbath. Note that reference is made, not to ” these men ” but to ” these words.” A Spirit-given interpretation of the Word had changed the formal gathering into a lively, eager, and interested throng, who spread the news to such an extent that the following Sabbath almost the whole city was gathered, both Jew and Gentile. We wondered whether it is possible to state when God did finally ” cast off ” Israel as a nation. We have heard it was in stages—e.g., when Stephen was martyred, in this very instance at Antioch in Pisidia, and in the closing chapter of the Acts (Acts 28:28). Was it gradual as stated, or is there definitely a time, such as Stephen’s martyrdom, when God turned from them? [The death and resurrection of the Lord marks the line of demarcation between the old and new dispensations, but in His dealings with men and with Israel in particular the doctrines of the new and old appear to be spliced. You find in the Gospels the new doctrine introduced by the Lord, at a time when the law of Moses had effect, and you find in the Acts Israel still zealous for the law in the new dispensation. Speaking problematically, had Israel accepted Stephen’s testimony and repented they would have had to have been baptised, as the remnant of Israel were, and added together to God’s New Testament people.—J.M.].

—We are now introduced to a further worker—John Mark—in association with one who would have had a place in the world. It is good to see such among the most humble of God’s people (1 Cor.1:26).
In verse 2 we see the Holy Spirit guiding, and men responding. In Sergius Paulus, the man of understanding, Satan has the first hold and he sought to keep him, using a Jew, a false prophet, but Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, is able to confound such, and Sergius Paulus is saved.
There is a sad drawback in John Mark. It is good to know that he was again restored (Col.4:10). The turning back of John does not deter Paul and Barnabas who go on to Antioch of Pisidia. It was asked if it was customary in the synagogue to read the whole Law once a year and on each Sabbath a portion, accompanied with a lesson out of the prophets, after which some might speak to the people? [Though such a question cannot be answered from the Scriptures, I have seen it stated authoritatively that definite portions were read in the synagogues on certain days of the year. The Lord read and very frequently taught in the synagogues, and it seemed customary for those to teach who could teach.—JM.] We were referred to verse 27; Acts 15:21; Lk.4:16-17. Paul, in his oration, takes up a similar line to Stephen in Acts 7., starting from the children of Israel to the coming and rejection, by the Jews, of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, through faith in Christ’s Name, better blessings are to be obtained than under the Law of Moses; and they are warned of the prophecy of the prophets.
The rejection by the Jews on the following Sabbath is to the Gentiles’ blessing, and many believe. It was thought, how great was Paul’s desire for the salvation of his brethren! (Rom.9:3, and Rom.10:1).
Persecution arises, and Paul and Barnabas shake the dust of the city from their feet and travel on. It was asked, How could we compare Paul’s going into the synagogue to speak, with ourselves and the sects to-day? [Sects are the works of the flesh, but the synagogue was a proper institution amongst the Jews and was graced by the Lord’s presence. No one who understands the evils of sectarianism would aid and abet, with his presence and ministry, a thing which is contrary to the will of God and the good of His people.—J.M.] E. H. BOWERS.
—The opening words show God’s word increasing, and though Herod may oppose for a time, God metes out summary judgment upon him.
Acts 13. deals with the progress of the gospel and of the Kingdom of God in countries where Christ had not been preached.
Activity centres in Antioch and not in Jerusalem where the twelve Apostles were. Barnabas and Saul, having returned from Jerusalem, are associated with other prophets and teachers. ” Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity “‘ (Ps.133.), Hitherto we have seen the choice of the deacons in Acts 6., also the work in Samaria and the sending of Peter and John by the Apostles, and also of the sending of Barnabas to Antioch.
The separation of Barnabas and Saul was not by Apostolic appointment, but by the call of God.
Is the custom of fasting solely a Jewish custom? Would not this have an inner meaning for us, say, of chastening one’s spirit, and keeping the body under? [See note in paper from Barrow.].
We were also interested in the fact that the Holy Spirit spoke (verse 2). Did he speak with an audible voice to those who were together? [Though it is not specifically stated how He spoke, probably He spoke through one of the prophets.—J.M]. Barnabas and Saul at length reach Antioch of Pisidia and we find them in the synagogue where the word of God was read from the Law and the Prophets. Afterwards Paul by invitation addressed those present—” Men of Israel and ye that fear God “; this twofold form of address embraces the Jews and the devout proselytes. Paul cites points in Israel’s-history from Egypt until the raising up of David, of whose seed God had raised up a Saviour, Jesus, according to His promise. John the Baptist’s service is also spoken of. Some believed the Word, but others-were filled with envy and spake against what had been spoken, and raised a tide of persecution against the Apostles, who were cast out of their borders, and they departed and came to Iconium. The Apostles followed the words of the Lord Jesus in Matt.10:14, ” And whoso¬ever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, as ye go forth out of that house or that city, shake off the dust of your feet.”

—-We are not told whether Barnabas and Saul during their stay in Jerusalem had any conversations with the Apostles or the church about the extension of the fields of labour in the gospel. Such was the zeal and spirit of these men, it could hardly have been otherwise. We notice they took John Mark with them from Jerusalem, and he it is who accompanies them when they leave Antioch for Asia.
But what is here specially brought before us is that this sending forth from Antioch was the direct result of the working and the speaking of the Holy Spirit. Saul had heard from the lips of the Lord Jesus that he would be sent far hence unto the Gentiles, and this work now being on his heart, the Holy Spirit lays it upon the hearts of those in the church at Antioch, so that when one or another of the prophets and the elders in the Spirit says, “Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the work where unto I have called them,” all are of one mind that this is indeed the call of the Holy Spirit. An instance of the way in which the Holy Spirit spoke is seen in Acts 21:11.
The season of prayer and fasting that preceded the call was doubtless for the special purpose of knowing the leading of the Holy Spirit in the work that was contemplated. Likewise, prayer and fasting followed the call, for the Spirit’s guidance and power. This is surely a divine principle, and example for all time.
In each of the cities the Apostles visited, it was their practice to enter into the synagogue of the Jews first. Would not this, if done in these days, be contrary to the doctrine of separation? [I take it that no one such as ourselves—Gentiles—would be allowed to follow the practice of the Apostles and enter a Jewish synagogue to do as they did; and as concerning the question of the sects of Christendom see remarks in paper from Middlesbrough.—J.M.]. Evidently the Jews, as the people of God, stood in a relationship different from that of the Gentiles in this matter, as the Apostles declared to the Jews in Antioch of Pisidia: ” It was necessary that the word of God should be first spoken to you.” It was pointed out that the Apostles in their testimony never violated any principle of truth, in that all public testimony should proceed from the House of God, without any collaboration with those who are without.

—The order of gifts in the church in apostolic days enumerated in 1 Cor.12. is:—First apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers, etc.
The church at Antioch, possessing such men as are mentioned by name in Acts 13:1, was a highly privileged one. So much were they in earnest—so hungry and thirsty for the kingdom of God and His righteousness—that thoughts of temporal requirements at such seasons were lost sight of. Time earnestly spent in waiting upon the Lord to-day, privately or collectively, will prove a deciding factor in our fitness for service. How few times, comparatively, has the eye of God rested on men who thus ministered to Him! It was under such circumstances that the Holy Spirit’s call to Barnabas and Saul was made known, and after a further season of prayer and fasting, the brethren released them, and laying their hands on them sent them away.
It has been pointed out that the sending forth by the Holy Spirit (verse 4) implies to dispatch as by impulse or force. Polished shafts were they (Isa.49:2). [The original word is ekpempo—ek = ” out of ” and pempo = ” to send, or to dispatch on any message.” The word from which the words ” they sent them away ” are translated
is apoluo—apo = “from,” and luo = “to loose.” This shows the Holy Spirit to be the real Sender; the prophets and teachers loosed, like an ox from the stall, so that it might do its master’s bidding, or like a ship from the quayside that it might perform its proper function of bearing its complement whither it is navigated. No man should go except he be sent by God, and such should not rise and go forth without being loosed for the work to which he is called.—J.M.].
We believe that both Barnabas and Saul had devoted themselves to the work of the Lord for a considerable time prior to Acts 13., but this marks a call to their definite life-work, particularly in carrying the gospel to the Gentiles. Isa.49:6 apparently had been used by the Spirit to indicate the will of the Lord for them (see verse 47 of present chapter).
The matter concerning Sergius Paulus, and the return home of John Mark, are the chief events recorded until Antioch of Pisidia is reached, where the way is opened for the public declaration of the gospel in the synagogue.
The days before that Sabbath may, perhaps, have been spent in private conversations with the Jews, and, having made themselves known as teachers, they were invited to address those gathered in the synagogue. Paul now occupies the more prominent place. He gave an outline of the history of his nation, and brought before them in a clear, crisp manner the Saviour, who, according to promise, is of David’s line. The apt reference made to the resurrection, from the Psalms, was the most forceful point; the words were like “nails well fastened.” Many an honest heart received the seed on that day, for well they knew of David’s death, and David’s tomb, whereas He whom God raised up saw no corruption.
It would be very evident to the speaker that whilst many were impressed, there were some who made light of the good tidings, hence the prophet’s warning note against despising the message was sounded (verses 40-41).
A reviving was granted from the presence of the Lord, and the city was stirred. (Were those at Antioch still praying and fasting?)
Almost the whole city was gathered—not to see miracles—to hear the Word of God.
What can be wrong to-day? Has the Word lost its power? Is it that the fault lies all with the people? There may be something in the spirit of ” prayer and fasting,” or of ” ministering to the Lord and fasting,” which we lose sight of, causing us to lack God-given fitness, for there still is a ” grip ” in the gospel message; we have seen and felt it, and long to know the secret of it.
The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him. (See also Eccles.12:9-11).
Returning again to verses 1 -2, we observe that neither Barnabas nor Saul were regarded as apostles since only prophets and teachers are mentioned. Also we may state that it would be through the prophets that the Holy Spirit said, ” Separate me,” etc. There is evidence that the call to Timothy was given through prophets [prophecy] too (1 Tim.1:18, 4:14). In such calls the scriptures had a promi¬nent place as the voice of the Spirit: Acts 13:13-47 shows this.
H. B.

FROM ATHERTON AND LEIGH.—Notwithstanding the determined purpose of the adversary to oppose the Word of God, it ” grew and multiplied.” God is the Guardian of His own word, and the Executor of His own designs. His word may be, and has been, universally and abundantly opposed, but it has stood the storm; it can never be defeated.
It seems evident that the church of God in Antioch, like the one in Jerusalem, had a rapid growth. Barnabas and Saul return from Jerusalem, bringing John Mark with them.
The large assembly in Antioch had men who had advanced in the truth, and the name of Saul appearing amongst these front-rank men of prophets and teachers points out his quick growth in divine things. The sanctifying of his high natural gifts mark out his progress in the doctrine. We recall the exhortation of Paul to Timothy in 1 Tim.4:13-15 and 2 Tim.2:15.
Verses 1-3. Here we seem to have an assembly of those that took the lead—the elders—and whilst thus together, they are com¬manded by the Holy Spirit: ” Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” The presbytery (1 Tim.4:14), elders (Acts 20:17) or overseers, lay their hands upon them, signifying united approval, and bid them God-speed. [The prophets and teachers are not spoken of as the presbytery in Antioch, though, no doubt, these men would be elders of the church there.—J.M.]. It is wonderful how God works out his own purposes, as in the case of the Apostle, who was separated unto God from his mother’s womb, and now, notwithstanding that he persecuted the Way, the elders [? prophets and teachers.—A.T.D.] are called upon to recognise him in the work whereunto God had called him.
Commencing from Antioch in Syria, Paul and Barnabas, with. John as their attendant, travel about 40 miles overland to the fortified seaport of Seleucia, and from thence to Salamis, an important commercial city in the island of Cyprus. They then passed through the island to Paphos, reputed to be a city which was the seat of heathen worship. Here they meet the Jewish false prophet Bar-jesus, along with Sergius Paulus, the wise proconsul, ” who believed, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.”
They proceed from Cyprus to Perga, from which place John, their minister, returns to Jerusalem. A few conjectures were made as to the cause of John’s departure, but we were taken up more with what is recorded in 2 Tim.4:11, ” Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is useful to me for ministering.” It is, however, clear that at the time of Acts 15:36. the Apostle Paul was not happy about John’s withdrawal from service, and he apparently thought a longer period of probation necessary, before his reinstatement to deaconship. [John was the Apostles’ attendant, not a deacon. They took him and he failed them when he was, perhaps, most needed, and confidence would require to be restored ere Paul would take him with them again. —J-M.].
These two pass on to Antioch in Pisidia, where they enter the synagogue. In his address Paul’s words, on the second Sabbath concerning the ” light of the Gentiles ” and ” salvation unto the uttermost part of the earth,” gripped the hearts of his Greek hearers. That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and fellow-members of the Body, and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel,'” was indeed wonderful news to them. The Jews, sad to say, still pursue their opposition, and, with the chiefs of the people, cast out Paul and Barnabas. W. C.


—ACTS 14:1-28.

FROM ATHERTON AND LEIGH.—To stoop to lowering methods in seeking to gain victory is a sure sign of defeat. This the disobedient Jews continue to do in their endeavour to create disaffection between the Gentiles and the Apostles in Iconium. They strike a blow at the strongest of bonds—affection—and we may take it too, that the Devil will seek to break down ” our love one to another,” with the object of making havoc of the Testimony. The Apostles, being aware of their purpose to stone them, leave and pass on to Lystra and Derbe. Here they meet with a man who had been a cripple all his life, yet who, we judge, having heard Paul speak, believed, for the Apostle saw that he had faith to be made whole. This great event caused the multitude to exclaim, ” The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men,” and the priest of Jupiter would have done sacrifice to the Apostles, had they not restrained him. They sought no glory from men. Yet the multitude, persuaded by the disobedient Jews from Antioch and Iconium, later stoned Paul, to death as they supposed. He had stood side by side with those that stoned Stephen, but now he is the one to be stoned. Possibly this would occupy his mind. They go, the day following, to Derbe, and then return—through the various places through which they had passed, back to Antioch in Syria, from whence they were commended. H. S. B., W, C.
FROM ST. HELENS.—The manner as well as the matter of speaking, we think, is included in ” so spake,” of verse 1. See 1 Thess.2:4, which also shows the attitude toward God: “so we speak.” Our desire is to learn how to speak. The work of God is followed by the destructive designs of the Adversary, through the instrumentality of the disobedient Jews. We in our day are not ignorant of his devices, but it is ours to continue as they did, ” speaking boldly in the Lord.” To them the Lord granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands; thus the word was confirmed, ” God also bearing witness with them ” (Heb.2:3-4). These we suggest are peculiar to the early days of this dispensation. Division in this city brought to the Apostles shameful treatment, but to those in Lystra and Derbe the gospel. Divine guidance is necessary to know how to act in difficult circum¬stances in the work of God. (Contrast Acts 21:12-14 as to fleeing). At Lystra Paul wrought a miracle upon a hopeless cripple. The multitudes, seeing what was done, concluded that their gods Jupiter and Mercury had appeared in the likeness of men, and with their priest would have done sacrifice to them. We noted the humility of Paul and Barnabas, who were not unbalanced in their minds when others would have them to be gods. (Contrast the scene in Acts 12:21-23). They sought not the ” glory of men ” (1 Thess.2:6). Alas, how much it is loved to-day! Incidentally, they also make known a fundamental fact—that whether it be the polished religious Jew or the uncultivated heathen, all are of one nature, therefore of one origin, one parentage (Rom.5:12). Vain things are contrasted with the living God; the emptiness and sham of idols, with the ever present witness of the living God, the Creator Himself (verse 15 and see Rom.1:20). Thus, in language easy to be understood they declare “He did good” (verse 17; see Rom.2:4). Jews which came from Antioch and Iconium now persuaded the multitudes to stone Paul, and they dragged him out of the city supposing he was dead, and the fact that he rose up, as the disciples stood around him, was no doubt a miracle performed by God on his behalf. He afterwards records this incident in

2 Cor.11:25, and to Timothy he writes of ” persecutions, sufferings; what things befell me at Antioch, etc. . . . and out of them all the Lord delivered me,” and fittingly adds ” Yea, and all that would live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim.3:11, 12). It would appear that Timothy was an eye-witness of what befell that faithful servant in his own locality. At Derbe they preach the gospel and many disciples are made. They then return to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch confirming the souls of the disciples.
The entering into the kingdom of God we took to be progression in the truth—as revealed in ” the faith “—in subjection to Christ as Lord. Subjection and progression go together, and this will involve us in many tribulations. The pointing out of elders in every church was not done by the church, but was the special work of Paul and Barnabas for the church.
In verse 26, we noticed the commendation of Luke, through the Spirit, ” the work which they had fulfilled,” but in verse 27 they rehearse ” all things that God had done with them,” and how that He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. May we in subjection allow God to use us in His blessed service!

FROM MIDDLESBROUGH.—With untiring zeal the Apostles pursue the work of the Lord. Though unwelcome in the synagogue of Antioch of Pisidia, yet they go into the synagogue at Iconium and preach the Word, and we read, ” And so spake that a great multitude believed.” Again Satan seeks to hinder, but the Apostles speak boldly in the name of the Lord, accompanied by signs and wonders from God. Then a sad state is seen—the city divided. The Apostles flee to Lystra and Derbe on learning their enemies’ intentions.
It was noted that, in many cases, signs accompanied the preach¬ing in these early days. We wondered how Paul saw that the crippled man at Lystra had faith to be made whole. [This was by revelation and discernment which must ever have accompanied the working of miracles and without which endless blunders would have been made. The wholesale ” healing campaigns ” advertised so loudly at times to-day come not from the Healer and Saviour of men, but are parts of a strong delusion which comes from beneath and not from above. The folly of it will become evident to all, as all false things have been unveiled in due time.—J.M.]. The city takes up the matter and acclaims Paul and Barnabas to be gods. What a testing! Yet, through the grace of God, it was as nothing to the Apostles, who, rending their garments, proclaim the Maker of heaven and earth to be God alone!
We thought the words, ” all nations,” in verse 16, referred both to Jews and Gentiles. (See Jer.25:15, Acts 17:30 and Eph.4:17). [” All the nations ” here refer to the Gentiles to whom God gave no law. The children of Israel to whom God gave His word were commanded to walk in God’s ways as therein revealed.—J-M.]
How fickle is the multitude! Jews of Antioch and Iconium come, persuade them, and they stone Paul and “cast him out of the city as dead. On the morrow he and Barnabas go to Derbe where the good news is proclaimed. Notwithstanding the treatment received at Lystra, Iconium and Antioch they return thither and confirm the disciples, showing that by tribulations the Kingdom of God is entered. We see the godly order in the appointing of elders. Other assemblies are visited and they arrive back at Antioch in Syria, where the church is told of their labour in the Lord, and of the Gentiles receiving the Word. E. H. BOWERS.

Referring to pages 66 and 67 May Corner Paper, on Acts 9:1-31, and criticism by J.M.
We respectfully submit that we are not reading passages apart from their context. The matter under consideration by Paul in 1 Cor.15. is the resurrection, and, as he proceeds with his masterly arguments, he outlines the Lord’s appearances, not merely to the Apostolate, but to five hundred brethren at once, and ” last of all, as unto one born out of due time,” to Paul also.
In the first place, ” as unto one born out of due time ” inade¬quately expresses the thought of the original word. Natural facts are against anything being born beyond the time of delivery, and ” pre¬maturely born ” or ” abortive ” better express the word in question, besides explaining to us the time in which he was born.
Then again, the apostle was not born to the Apostolate, but called, or constituted (Rom.1:1); e.g., a plumber is not born in his profession, but called.
If then we accept the fact that his birth was abortive (or before the recognised time) in connection with the salvation of Israel as a nation and not in connection with the Apostolate, which must be after, we can see how beautifully the parallel fits, but if we apply the word ” abortive ” as in connection with the apostolate, we suggest it puts an altogether wrong construction on the matter.
We quite see how that it was the Word and the vision which Paul heard and saw, both being simultaneous.
Having no wish to appear dogmatic, we would nevertheless respectfully submit for the consideration of all, that the words of verse 9 have a very definite relation to the similitude the Apostle uses in verse 8: ” For I am the least of the apostles.” Why? because he has spoken of himself as though he were an abortion. Note, he does not call himself an abortion, but as though he were such, and he speaks in such a manner of himself that he is not worthy that the Lord should appear to him, nor of his place in the Apostolate. What do others think?—J .M.

FROM LONDON, S.E.—We regret that if in attempting brevity, we forfeited precision in stating our conclusions on the status of Cornelius in the contribution of the London Corner for May’s issue.
We certainly do not mean that Cornelius was a true proselyte, conforming to all the Law as a Jew. For it is very clear that he was uncircumcised, and dealt with as a Gentile.
But was be not ” a convert to Judaism ” in the truest sense of the word? (Rom.2:29); that is, he believed in the One God—the God of Israel (Acts 10:35).
“One that feared God” is used in the Acts 13:16,26, etc. for Gentiles who were converts from heathenism to God, but were not proselytes, not having received circumcision.
We find that it is an anachronism to state that Cornelius was a ” proselyte of the gate,” for it was not until a later day that the Gentile who feared God (such as described above, and as Cornelius) were given this designation; and the true proselyte distinguished as a “proselyte of Righteousness ” (or ” Justice “—see Derby’s paper).
Cornelius certainly did not keep all the ritual of the Law as a true proselyte was bound to. It is not even necessary to suppose that he kept any of it, in his own knowledge. But we do suggest that he kept it in part, for he must have known it, evidenced by his adoption of

the hour of prayer, and the description of him (Acts 10:2,22). He probably heard it in the synagogues. And surely he would be seeking to keep the commands of the God whom he feared so devoutly. We trust that this explains the point more clearly, for we do not think that we are contrary to received teaching.
A proselyte is a stranger or foreigner who has become converted to the Jewish faith, as spoken of in the New Testament. Paul in Rom.2:28, 29 gives the real inward meaning of being a Jew, and in that sense we all, who have been circumcised in heart and ears, are Jews, though we have never been proselytes, in the New Testament meaning of the word. Note Mal.1:11, where it is shown that God was feared and served amongst the Gentiles without those Gentiles being converted to Judaism. Note Peter’s words, too, in Acts 10:35 as to God’s recognition of those who amongst the nations feared him, and that without becoming proselytes. Had Cornelius been a proselyte Peter would have had no difficulty, nor would those in Acts 11. I do not think there is much difference in our points of view.—J.M.
QUESTION FROM MIDDLESBROUGH.—Did Peter not know of James’s death? or does Acts 12:17 refer to James the Lord’s brother?
ANSWER.—In reading verses 1-3 it seems clear that James was killed before Peter was seized, so I would understand that Peter would know of James’s death. The James of verse 17 is the same as is mentioned in Acts 15:13 and elsewhere.—J.M.
QUESTION FROM GLASGOW.—Acts 13:33, ” Thou art My Son, this day have f begotten Thee.” When had these words fulfilment?
ANSWER.—These words ” Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee ” are here connected with the Lord’s birth, His incarna¬tion; in Heb.1:5 with His resurrection; in Heb.5:5,6, with His priesthood; and in Ps.2:7 with His kingship. Christ is not the Son of God because He is the appointed sovereign of the universe, or because He became incarnate, or was raised from the dead; He is Son of God by a begetting unique, and infinitely beyond human thought to comprehend. The fact of His Sonship we believe, but do not understand by reason; by faith in the Son we are eternally saved, and those who refuse to believe perish. The begetting took place in a day which God described as “this day.” When? we ask, was it a day in time, a day that had a night? No, we understand it to be a day that had no yesterday, and will have no tomorrow. It is the day in which Deity dwells, and because of this the Son is addressed by the Father, “But Thou are the same, and Thy years shall not fail” (Heb.1:12).
In this realm reason fails with all her powers, but faith prevails and love adores.—J.M.].

—ACTS 14:1-28.
FROM GREENOCK.—After leaving Antioch, because of the persecution, Paul and Barnabas came to Iconium, and, going into the synagogue, spake the Word so effectually that many disciples were made. Persecution by the unbelieving Jews followed, but the Apostles stayed for some time and wrought many miracles. Persecution growing more severe, the Apostles were forced to flee to Lycaonia, where in Lystra a similar miracle to that in Acts 3. was performed—an impotent man was made to walk.
After Paul and Barnabas had been acclaimed as ” gods in the likeness of men,” one would have thought that they were safe, as long as they were in Lystra, but human popularity is fickle, and the mob is easily swayed. Their late persecutors arrived on the scene, and turned the multitude against the Apostles, and they stoned Paul and cast him out of the city for dead.
On reading these verses (8-19) we were forcibly reminded of how the Lord Himself in His triumphant entry into Jerusalem was acclaimed as the ” King that cometh in the name of the Lord,” and how a few short days after the cry was—” Crucify Him.”
While the disciples were standing round the body of Paul, he rose up and went into the city. The next day, with Barnabas, he went to Derbe, where, after making many disciples, they started on the return journey, passing through the cities where they had already been—Lystra, Iconium, Antioch—and having appointed elders in every church, and exhorted them to “continue in the faith,” they passed through Pisidia and, having spoken the Word in Perga, went down to Attalia, where they shipped for Antioch, their starting point, in this, the first missionary journey.
When the church was gathered together, they recounted all their experiences, telling how a door of faith had been opened to the Gentiles. ROBERT M. RENFREW, S. JOHNSTON.

FROM LONDON, S.E.—Attention was called to the little word ” So ” in verse 1. The result was that a great multitude believed. Surely it is an art to cultivate thus to speak. The same animosity-is here brought out and the whole city becomes divided; and the hostility is such that the Apostles were compelled to flee unto Lystra and Derbe.
Attention was called to verse 14, where Barnabas is spoken of as an Apostle, and the question was asked as to when Barnabas become one. [An apostle is one who is sent, so when Barnabas was sent by the Holy Spirit he became an apostle, I would judge.—J.M.].
The people of Lystra were idol worshippers and such a miracle done in their midst caused them to think that the gods had come down.
The Apostles immediately tell them they are but men, and point them to the Great God of heaven, the Creator.
The suffering the nations to walk in their own ways (verse 16) was thought to be that they had no ” Oracles of God ” committed to them as had the Jews. Yet they had a witness, the daily boons bestowed by a bountiful Creator, which should have caused them to think of Him and to give Him thanks.
We sec the terrible length to which hatred will go. This was no calm judicial stoning, but a stoning in which every stone was cast with venom behind it. Then Paul was dragged out of the city as dead.
Barnabas seems to have been left alone, and their whole hatred was vented on Paul. Paul, however, is raised, and he returns to the city, but the following day departs to Derbe. This seems to be the limit of the first missionary journey and they now retrace their steps, con¬firming the souls of the disciples, setting up divine rule in every church by appointing elders, and commending them to the Lord.
They return to Antioch, whence they had been sent, and rehearsed to the whole church all that God had done, and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.

PAUL.—ACTS 15:1-16:5.

—We see Satan becoming as an ” angel of light,” and using, or rather misusing the Scriptures, and men from among the believers teaching that circumcision was essential to salvation.
When these brethren reached Antioch with their false doctrine, Paul and Barnabas, with others, were sent up to Jerusalem to discuss the matter with the Apostles and elders.
When they were all gathered together to discuss the matter on hand, Peter stood up and reminded the gathering of how he had been chosen to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, and showed that there was now no distinction between Jew and Gentile, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision being anything, but a new creation (Gal.6:15).
Barnabas and Paul followed up by retelling their experiences among the Gentiles.
Lastly, James, in summing up, recommended that no greater burden be laid upon them than that they should abstain from pollutions of idols, fornication, things strangled, and from blood.
We decided, after some discussion, that all of this teaching applies to us in the present day as well as to the Gentiles in that day. (See Gen.9:1-7 and Rev.2:14-20.)

A letter was written to the Gentiles, containing the decision of the Apostles and elders, and Barsabbas and Silas, men to the fore among the brethren, were sent, with Barnabas and Paul, to Antioch,. with the letter.
When the church there was gathered together, the epistle was. read to them, causing them great joy, and Judas and Silas tarried there for some time teaching and exhorting the saints, after which Judas was dismissed in peace and sent back to Jerusalem. [Both Judas and Silas were dismissed unto the brethren who had sent them forth. Verse 34 is omitted in the RV text and certain of the greatest textual critics say that it should be omitted. It is evident that if Silas went back to Jerusalem he must have returned again to Antioch.—J.M.],
After some time, Paul suggested to Barnabas that they should go and revisit their brethren among the Gentiles. Over John Mark these two mighty men of God parted company; Barnabas took Mark and went to Cyprus while Paul chose Silas and went on to the work,, having the fellowship of the brethren.
Very little is heard of Barnabas after this, but 1 Cor.9:1-6 is worthy of careful consideration, because the epistle was written after the separation of Paul and Barnabas. Paul refers to himself and Barnabas and from this we may conclude that Paul and Barnabas were reconciled.
When Paul and Silas came to Derbe and Lystra, via Syria and Cilicia, they met Timothy, who, after being circumcised by Paul, went forth to the work with them.
Would the Scriptures condemn this action of Paul, or does Gal.5:2-6 refer only to the Gentiles (Timothy’s mother being a Jewess)? [The narrative gives us the reason why Timothy was circumcised—” because of the Jews that were in those parts: for they all knew that his father was a Greek.” It seems clear from this that Timothy’s usefulness in testimony to the Jews would have been greatly curtailed if he had not been circumcised. Circumcision in this case is nothing; it does not carry with it the obligation to keep the law of Moses. Timothy is not circumcised and put under the law, but to the Jew he becomes as a Jew that he might gain the more.—J.M.].
The three then carried on through the cities, delivering to them the decision of the conference at Jerusalem, with the result that blessing abounded: the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily.

FROM LONDON, S.E.(l) The Question of the Circumcision. In chapter 15. we approach the subject of circumcision. Circumcision was the principal rite of the Jewish faith, and these men that came from Judaea regarded this rite as indispensable to salvation, and this they sought to teach the brethren at Antioch. These men persisted in this teaching, so much so that a great disputation arose, and they had to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem in order to clear up the matter. This question of circumcision was also raised by certain Pharisees who had been converted. The result of the conference at Jerusalem was that they decided to send a letter to the church at Antioch stating that they should abstain from meats offered to idols and from blood and fornication, the question of their eternal salvation, depending upon their belief in, and through the grace of, the Lord Jesus Christ. Compare Acts 15:11. There was accordingly much joy in the church at Antioch when the contents of the letter were read to them.

(2) Paul and Barnabas parted. The cause of the contention that arose between Paul and Barnabas was concerning John Mark. It seems that Paul was in the main right, Barnabas being influenced by attachment to a relative. John Mark had apparently departed from them from Pamphylia on their previous journey at a time of difficulty. We read very little of Barnabas after this, so we would gather that Paul was more in the mind of God. Mark was restored afterwards and God used him to write the Gospel of Mark.
(3) Silas and Timothy join Paul. Paul chooses Silas to go with him, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God (verse 40). A similar expression is used in Acts 14:26. At Derbe and Lystra we are introduced to Timothy. The reason why Paul circumcised him was because he feared a tumult among the Jews, there being many in that part. He became all things to all men. Paul constrained him to go with him. This was an instance of Paul selecting a brother for the ministry, who was well reported of. The result of this threefold ministry among the churches was that these were established in the faith, and they increased in number daily. WM. F. SHULVER.

FROM EDINBURGH AND MUSSELBURGH.—This is a chapter which gives both principle and guidance as to those things which we hold and practise. It is ever the object of Satan to seek to hinder the work of God. He has raised up opposition from without, but as the work still prospers he now stirs up trouble from within. It is very clear from verse 24 that those who came from Judaea were not commended by the brethren, so that here we see the importance of letters of commendation. We remember that soon after this Paul circumcised Timothy; we thought that this was done so that they might be able to get into closer touch with the Jews.
Paul and Barnabas are quick to oppose the error, and after much questioning and dissension, it is arranged that Paul and Barnabas and certain others are to go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, to lay the matter before them. Here again we have a principle, that where a difficulty does arise in an assembly, then help should be sought in a wider sphere.
As this question is discussed by the apostles and elders, Peter is able to put his own experience before them, as he was used of God to carry the gospel to Cornelius, and at the same time he seeks to add a note of warning. Barnabas and Paul are able to give their experience among the Gentiles, and then James sums up the whole question, and gives his judgment. We think that this judgment is still binding upon us to-day, as the people of God.
We note that the apostles and elders have the fellowship of the Church [in the matter of choosing two men to accompany the Apostles to Antioch to confirm their testimony to the Church there.—J.M.] as they send their judgment of the question to Antioch, for those who carried the letter, when they were chosen, were brought before the assembly.
We notice the joy with which this letter was received, for not only did it end all dissension, but those who brought it, being prophets, were able to exhort and comfort the saints.
How very sad that trouble should arise between those two servants of God, Paul and Barnabas! Paul would seem to be right, for we cannot take up the work of God, and lay it down again, just as and when we please. It is good to see that both Barnabas and Mark are mentioned as being in the work of the Lord in a later day.

FROM CARDIFF.—It can be stated without hesitation that independent action in the spiritual realm is courting disaster. Thus it was with ” certain men ” who came down to Antioch from Judaea, to instruct the Gentile believers, apart from apostolic commandment (verse 24). They had not learned one of the elementary principles, that of fellowship, for those they judged to be ignorant of Divine teaching showed by their actions they had grasped the truth of fellow¬ship. Thus the church appointed certain ones to go to Jerusalem to discuss the vexed question of circumcision. The following words show their fellowship—” they appointed “; ” being brought on their way by the church “; ” they caused great joy unto all the brethren “; ” they were received of the church . . . apostles . . . elders . . . they rehearsed.” How conclusively this portion proves the need of real oversight, in the fear of God. ‘Within the House of God where real oversight is obtaining, the rule of the one, or the rule of the many should find no place for the church looks to the Divinely-appointed ” guides,” constituting the circle of oversight so beautifully illustrated in its working in this chapter. Though Divine principles are obtaining, human failure may be seen (may we not be high-minded, but fear!), for here two men, highly gifted and used of God, have a sharp contention. Family relationships and consequent partiality have done much to mar the testimony. Whether this has a bearing on Barnabas and his cousin, John Mark, we cannot say. It may be that Paul was right, and from appearances, we think he was. We pass on to read of a young man, a disciple, Timothy. We are surprised that the Apostle to the Uncircumcision should nullify the work of His Master, by circumcising a disciple! But our amazement gives place to understanding, when the writer deliberately states it was done because of Jews in those parts, they knowing that the father of Timothy was a Greek. By this action Paul did not preach circumcision, as those from Jerusalem did (in our previous chapter). He openly declared, by his action, however, that circumcision availed nothing, nor uncircumcision, but faith, working in love (Gal.5:6). Under these special circumstances, it was a justifiable action, but if preached, and practised, it made them debtors (as the Galatian converts were told) to keep the whole law.
FROM BARROW-IN-FURNESS.—The Apostle Paul in Gal.2:1-10 relates certain things which we are not told in Acts 15. relative to his going to Jerusalem over the question of circumcision; also he withstood Peter in Antioch, who erred through the influence of certain who came from James. We have the important matter of circumcision dealt with in Jerusalem by the apostles and elders. After much reasoning and disputing Peter rehearsed what took place in Acts 10. and its results, which was a great revelation to Peter, who had to be taught there was no difference between Jew and Gentile. The apostles and the elders arrived at a definite decision on the great question: the Spirit of God had His way, and later we see how the bearers of the epistle containing the decisions deliver it (Acts 16:4).
It is sometimes said, ” What a pity that we should see a difference of judgment at the close of the chapter! ” Paul said to Barnabas, ” Let us return now and visit our brethren.” How it cheered the heart to see the care they had for those who had believed their report concerning the Christ who is exalted at the right hand of God! Barnabas deter¬mined to take with them John whose surname was Mark. The first time we read of John Mark is in Acts 12:12.

The mention of his mother’s house in this connection is suggestive. We are not surprised at finding her son in God’s service. It is a tine beginning to start from a home of prayer. The names of Scripture are often significant. John means the gift or grace of God. Mark means polite (1 Pet.2:18). In Acts 12:25 we see John Mark starting. The second time we see him is in Acts 13:5, and Acts 13:13 gives us his breakdown, if we can so term it. This at length led to so sharp a contention between Paul and Barnabas that they parted company. It was the failure of a good man in the matter of personal judgment. It would be a good thing if differences of judgment were always settled in the manner we have given us earlier in Acts 15. It is nevertheless true that Paul and Silas, his new co-worker, are commended by the brethren to the grace of the Lord. J. BUCHANAN.
FROM BRANTFORD.—We being Gentiles can hardly enter into what it would mean for a Jew, whose faith was in circumcision and the law, to trust Christ alone for salvation. Thus we find certain from Judaea, who had believed, endeavouring to bring these things into the Church of God in Antioch. After no small discussion, Paul and Barnabas were appointed by the brethren to go to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question. It is helpful to notice that the decision reached was through the guidance of the Holy Spirit (verse 28). Circumcision of the present day is circumcision of the heart: “‘ In the Spirit, not in the letter, whose praise is not of men but of God ” (Rom.2:29).
In verse 10 we have the Apostle Peter referring to the law as a yoke which neither the Jews nor any other were able to bear, which causes one to think of the words of the Lord Jesus in Matt.11:29, 30: ” Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me . . . for My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” The apostles and elders, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, come to a oneness of mind, that it is not necessary for the Gentiles to be circumcised, so they wrote a letter of exhortation to them, that they should abstain from things sacrificed to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from fornication, sending it by the hand of Barnabas and Paul. The apostles and elders with the church in Jerusalem, send Judas and Silas with Barnabas and Paul to corroborate the decision. No doubt the Gentile saints at Antioch would be greatly relieved when the letter was read.
It is sad to notice how soon the two God-appointed apostles of chapter 13 are separated. It would seem that they parted, because of Barnabas being partial to John Mark, they being cousins (Col.4:10). It was the desire of Paul to go through every city where they had proclaimed the gospel, and in doing this he would be watering the young plants which had been planted in God’s husbandry.
Let us take a lesson from Mark; once having put our hand to -the plough let us not go back.
Paul then chooses Silas as his partner, and together they set •out to do that which Paul had purposed to do, being commended by the brethren to the grace of the Lord.
It would seem that Paul ever had an interest in young men, for when he comes to Derbe and Lystra he meets Timothy, a young man who was well reported of by all the brethren, and Paul also takes him with them to the work. [To which place did Timothy belong? The brethren of which cities commended him? Who formed the presbytery =of 1 Tim.4:14? Was it because of Paul’s interest in young men that he took Timothy?—J.M.].

One of the fundamental truths of the House of God is borne out in verse 4, which is Unity. The letter which was written in Jerusalem, was primarily sent to Antioch, but a copy was sent to every church in the Fellowship [oh!] that they might all speak the same thing. This is borne out by the words of Paul in 1 Cor.7:17, ” So ordain I in all the churches.”

FROM LIVERPOOL AND BIRKENHEAD.—With the planting of assemblies comes the responsibility not only of building up, but also of guarding that which is built together. We recall the events of Ezra’s day, for example, and this same truth is borne out by the experiences of many of the churches of the New Testament.
The teaching brought in by men from Judaea, which so unsettled the brethren in Antioch and Syria, was something set forth as dogma, but without any Divine or authorised sanction. Coming as it did from beneath, it struck right at the very foundation truth of the gospel. There was nothing against Jewish Christians continuing to practise circumcision; Paul himself circumcised Timothy so as to give the Jews no occasion of stumbling. But where the mischief came in was, the teaching that circumcision was necessary for salvation. The same error, in a multitude of different forms, has never ceased to be perpetrated right throughout the present dispensation, finding its origin in man’s inherent desire to justify himself before God by works.
It is evident from Gal.2. that one of the purposes of the Apostles’ visit to Jerusalem on this occasion was to lay before those of repute the gospel which they had preached among the Gentiles, and also this matter of circumcision.
It is instructive to notice the meetings mentioned, and the purpose for which they were held. First, it would appear that Paul and Barnabas had a private interview with the apostles and elders to ensure their approval of the work. Then, when the question of circumcision was raided by certain Pharisees, the apostles and elders were gathered together to consider the matter. When they had come to one accord, they with the whole church chose Judas and Silas to accompany Barnabas and Paul to make known such decisions to the churches in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia, to carry the epistle from the apostles and elders.
Both Peter and James are ready to recognise that God had given very clear evidence of His acceptance of the Gentiles by faith alone. James, giving his judgment in the matter, mentions certain things which the Gentiles must abstain from. While one of them is a sin to be definitely shunned for all time, the others are things which were peculiar to existing conditions, things which, if continued to be practised by the Gentile Christians, would have led to serious trouble, and a danger of the Jewish Christians severing themselves from the rest. Paul takes up this same matter with the Corinthians, and shows that to eat things sacrificed to idols might wound the conscience of other brethren, and thus become sin against Christ (1 Cor.8.). While it is noticed that the decree about these things has never been revoked, the principle of giving no occasion of stumbling to brethren is equally applicable to us in the present day.
The unanimity of the apostles and elders resulted in joy and consolation as the letter was brought to the churches. There was no presumption in claiming the approval of the Holy Spirit in the course they had taken.

In the contention which arose between Paul and Barnabas at Antioch, it does seem that Paul was quite justified in not wishing to take one who had previously withdrawn from the work. Possibly, Barnabas was much influenced by his natural relationship with John Mark, but there is at least one thing in his favour. With a fatherly consideration for the young man’s future, he may have realised that if John Mark were left on this occasion, there was a possibility of him being irretrievably lost to the Lord’s service. Later events, showing as they do the reconciliation which took place, and the success of the apostle’s journey with Silas, would lead us to believe that the Lord was over¬ ruling in all these things for good. N. G. ADKINS.

FROM ATHERTON AND LEIGH.—As we view the efforts of the circumcision we are caused to remember the words of the apostle concerning the Jews. ” As touching the gospel, they are enemies for your sake ” (Rom.11:28), and, ” There are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema” (Gal.1:7,8). After much discussion and questioning, Paul and Barnabas are appointed, along with certain other brethren, to go up to Jerusalem, and consult with the apostles and elders about the question. On the way they pass through Phoenicia and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles, which caused great joy to the brethren. On arrival in Jerusalem they rehearsed all things that God had done with them, but the believing Pharisees oppose, bv introducing the need of circumcision, and the keeping of the law. After there had been much questioning, Peter relates what he had learned from his own experience in connection with His vision, as recorded in chapter 10. James corroborates the truth of what Peter had said, and supports it with a reference to the words of the prophets (see Amos 9:11,12), then giving his judgment thus—” That we trouble not them which from among the Gentiles turn to God. But that we write unto them, that they abstain from the pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from what is strangled, and from blood ” (verse 20). This meets with full approval; the finding is sent to the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. Verse 20: We had much discussion, the question being asked, ” Why is it that other things mentioned in the law are not prohibited to-day, the ban being taken off in Acts 10? ” It was said that the first two of the four things mentioned are moral, and God’s law at Sinai in its moral character is unchanging. The blood goes back beyond Sinai, to the time when they came out of the ark—” But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat ” (Gen.9:4). Reference was also made to Lev.17:10-16. We were agreed that this was a doctrine for us to-day, demanding the forbearance of eating of blood, but a further question arose, Does not what is sold in the shambles, asking no questions, apply to fowls being killed, and our not knowing how? We may, to a certain extent, follow along this path, that is, by giving instruction how they should be killed. [Are fowls commonly killed by strangling in this country? Our friends might assure them¬selves as to this, and then they will know also what takes place in strangling, namely, that the whole carcase of the animal is left full of blood, which involves the eating of blood. Are the carcases of fowls sold by the dealers in this state?—J.M.]. It was further asked, How does 1 Tim.4:4 apply, ” For every creature of God is good,

and nothing is to be rejected, if it be received with thanksgiving”? It was said that this Scripture does not apply to these things, but to the Jewish aspect of things clean and unclean.
It is interesting to note that at the end of the discussion, as given in verse 28, the apostles make it known that they are guided to a decision by the leading of the Holy Spirit. A. S., W.C.
FROM DERBY.—Chapter 15:1. It was thought that the men spoken of were believers from Judaea, and the same believers as referred to in verse 5.
Verse 2: Paul and Barnabas had no doubt as to what was right, but for the preservation of the Fellowship they conferred with others. This shows the unity of the Churches.
Verse 3: Compare with Rom.2:24—Circumcision was for examples sake. [Circumcision carried with it the obligation to keep the whole law, but the circumcision of Timothy had a. different object in view.—J.M.]. Paul circumcised Timothy so as not to be a stumbling block to those to whom they preached.
Verses 6, 7: This is the first recorded meeting of apostles and elders in the early church, to counteract the spread of evil doctrine.
We noted that Mark on the first journey parted from Barnabas and Paul (Col.2:13). The reason for Barnabas wishing to take Mark with him, on the second journey, may have been because of being a near kinsman (Col.4:10). It seemed that Paul had the approval of the brethren (Acts 15:40).
Verse 29: This verse created much discussion. Some remarked upon the difficulty that might be experienced in abstaining from things strangled and from blood in these days; again, our views differed as to whether this applied to-day, or whether the apostles had in mind the many Jews in the church, that might have been stumbled, if such things existed. Help is desired. [The command to abstain from blood was given when man was given flesh to eat—at the time of his coming forth from the Ark. An animal strangled is full of blood; hence to eat it is to eat the flesh with the blood thereof. What James says is simply stating things which are applicable to all men, and are not Jewish in character.—J.M.]. WM. WRIGHT.

FROM PAISLEY.—The adversary had previously failed in his attempt to destroy the Fellowship from the ” without ” (Acts 8:9). Here we find him seeking to destroy it from the ” within ” (verse 1). (See also 2 Pet.2:1).
In conjunction with Acts 15. we read Gal.2. Paul and Barnabas with others went up to Jerusalem with the full fellowship of the brethren, albeit, Paul went up by revelation, and it would seem he had a private interview with certain of repute (Gal.2:2). We notice they were received of the church with the apostles and the elders. Paul and Barnabas rehearsed all things, firstly, to the whole church (verse 4): ” But there rose up certain . . . saying, it is needful to circumcise them, and to charge them to keep the law of Moses.” These certain brethren are of the same class as those mentioned in verse 1, and we suggest the same as those described as false brethren in Gal.2. The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. After there had been much questioning Peter gave his mind on the matter, secondly, Paul and Barnabas declared to the multitude (the apostles and elders) the wonders God wrought by them among the Gentiles, and thirdly, James expressed his mind as to the purpose of God in this dispensation, and also gave his judgment as to what was required of the Gentiles, and to him they all agreed. What follows [in regard to the sending of Judas and Silas.—J.M.] is done in fellowship with the whole church (verse 22). The following scriptures appealed to us:—(1) ” It seemed good unto the apostles and elders with the whole church, etc.” (verse 22); (2) ” It seemed good unto us (the apostles and elders), having come to one accord,” etc. (verse 25); ” It seemed good unto the Holy Spirit and to us,” etc. (verse 28).
We considered at some length the terms of the agreement arrived at by the apostles and elders, viz., that the Gentile disciples were to ” abstain from the pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from what is strangled, and from blood. We considered the application of these terms to present-day disciples. ” Things strangled ” and ” blood ” seem to be placed in the same category as “the pollution of idols ” and ” fornication.” We wondered whether abstinence from ” things strangled ” and ” blood ” as well as from ” the pollution of idols” and “fornication” should be considered in the nature of conditions of fellowship in connection with the House of God to-day. [See note in paper from Derby. Certainly the decision of the meeting of the apostles and elders is part of the will of God for His New Testament people. By giving these decrees to the churches of the Gentiles it says, ” So the churches were strengthened in the faith “; there it is clear that the decrees are part of ” the Faith.”—J.M.] There are certain common articles of diet, which would come within the scope of ” things strangled ” and ” blood,” which makes this a very practical and important question. On the other hand we wondered what bearing such scriptures as the words of the Lord Jesus Christ in Mk.7:19— ” making all meats clean “—and of the Apostle Paul in 1 Tim.4:4 —” Every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be rejected “—etc., have upon this matter.
The decrees were delivered to the churches for to keep, and we read “they were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily” (Acts 16:4, 5). SAMUEL. S. JARDINE.

FROM ARMAGH.—The persons who taught the Gentile believers at Antioch, that they could not be saved unless they were circumcised and observed the whole ceremonial law, came from Judaea and professed to speak the sentiments of the apostles and church at Jerusalem, but these were false brethren who came to spy out and destroy the liberty enjoyed by these Christians. Their doctrine could not but prove a great discouragement and temptation to the Gentile converts and an immense hindrance to the progress of the gospel: at the same time it tended to false sentiments concerning justification, and would eventually have been subversive of genuine Christianity. We have in verse 6 the first mention of a meeting of overseeing brethren; men gifted with the spirit of wisdom and discernment from God, who had a care for the flock, over which God had made them overseers. We notice that the apostles and elders came together to consider the matter of circum-cision. They did not give their judgment separately, but came together that they might discern God’s mind in the matter, and in the multitude of counsellors there is safety. They did not hastily reach a judgment; the matter was fully considered. Though the apostles were clear concerning it in their own minds, yet they would take time to hear what was to be said by the adverse party. Without the shadow of a doubt the mind of God was (and is to-day) that when trouble arose in any of the churches it should be settled at an assembly of elders or overseers. By coming together they would learn each other’s mind and glean the mind of God, and also strengthen one another’s hands to act in concert.

The mind of James was that the Gentiles should not be molested about circumcision or the ritual law, but that they should be warned against eating meats offered to idols and fornication.
The best of men are but men subject to like passions as we are, as these two good men (Paul and Barnabas) had expressly owned concerning themselves (Acts 14:15).
It was a great pity that two such men should not have referred this matter to a third person or that some friend did not interpose to prevent it coming to an open rupture, and to put them in mind of the Canaanite and Perizzite that were ” now in the land ” and that not only Jews and heathens, but also false brethren among themselves would warm their hands at the flames of contention between Paul and Barnabas. This account is given to us for our admonition. [But is there not something to be learned from the words concerning Paul and Silas, that they ” went forth, being commended by the brethren to the grace of the Lord “? Of Barnabas it is said that he ” took Mark with him and sailed away unto Cyprus.” The commendation of the brethren is a matter of importance.—J.M.].
It was thought that Timothy was circumcised that the Jews might not be prejudiced against Paul and his ministry and also exclude Timothy from preaching in the synagogues for which he seems to have been peculiarly qualified. It was common knowledge that his father was a Greek. Previously at Jerusalem Paul would not agree to the circumcision of Titus when it was considered as requisite to salvation.
T. C.

FROM MIDDLESBROUGH.—How great was the need of Divine guidance in confounding certain men who wished to make circumcision necessary to salvation! Paul and Barnabas, after much questioning with those from Judaea, are chosen with others to go up to Jerusalem to seek help from the apostles and elders.
In Gen.17:1-14 we have the sign given to Abraham and his seed and the covenant—” I will be their God.” It was thought that perhaps the Jews looked at it from that point of view, and they could not understand how God could be the God of any uncircumcised. We see from Acts 15:5,10, that the whole law was to be kept as well as circumcision. The apostles and elders gathered together to consider the matter. It would seem that Gal.2:1-10 comes in here. Silence reigns while Paul and Barnabas tell of the way God led them, and of His work amongst the Gentiles.
James now takes up the argument and refers to Amos 9:11,12, and gives his judgment on the question, which is acceptable to those present. Judas and Silas are chosen to go with Paul and Barnabas to carry the letter to those gathered at Jerusalem, which is received with much joy by those at Antioch. We now read of a sad catastrophe in the life of Barnabas, occasioned by his desire to take John Mark on the revisiting of the disciples in the various places already visited. Barnabas goes his own way taking Mark with him. Paul chooses Silas and sets forth, being commended by the brethren.

FROM GLASGOW.—This portion marks a crisis in the affairs of the early church and should, we believe, be read in conjunction with the Epistle to the Galatians. The facts are that ” certain men ” who went out from Jerusalem, having “no commandment”, taught the brethren at Antioch that circumcision was necessary to salvation. Paul and Barnabas withstood them, with, it appears, but little success for the brethren delegated them to go up to Jerusalem about this question. [We cannot say with little success so far as Antioch is concerned. The matter was evidently deeply rooted in the body of the Community and nothing less than a united voice from the whole of the elderhood would stop the ramifications of this serious error; hence the need of going to Jerusalem.—J.M.]. In Jerusalem also was a company who maintained the same as those who had already been ” subverting the souls of the brethren with their words.” What had befallen the church at Jerusalem which at an earlier period had “glorified God in that He had granted unto the Gentiles repentance unto life ” (Acts 11:18)? Peter, in his address before the apostles and elders, rehearses to them things with which they were already well acquainted. Thus it appears that many of them had not as yet realised that redemption included, amongst other things, deliverance from the bondage of the law and from the vain manner of life received by tradition from their fathers (1 Pet.1:18). Moreover, circumcision made it incumbent upon all who received it to do the whole law (Gal.5:3), thereby putting upon their necks a yoke which neither themselves nor their fathers were able to bear. James, one of those who were of repute, then appeals to prophecy concerning the restoration of the tabernacle of David after the taking out of the Gentiles a people for God’s Name, in order that the residue (the remainder) of men might seek after the Lord with all the Gentiles upon whom His name is called. They decided eventually to send by the hand of Paul, Barnabas, Silas and Judas, an epistle acquainting the brethren of their decision in the matter, which, being delivered unto them, caused them to rejoice for the consolation. Silas and Judas appear to have been commended back to Jerusalem again unto those who had sent them forth, but subsequent events seem to admit of Silas having remained or else come back shortly again. We now have the description of the discord between Paul and Barnabas and from this point the ” Son of consolation ” disappears from the narrative and we hear no more of him in the Acts. John Mark’s conduct does not show him to advantage and is a warning to all of us that our behaviour may have far-reaching effects. Paul and Silas, commended by the brethren, are now found confirming the churches throughout Syria and Cilicia. The remaining portion deals with Paul’s meeting with one who was much in his thoughts in later years. Timothy’s circumcision is different from Titus’ case, which was fraught with vital issues.
W. H.


FROM GREENOCK.—It seems quite clear that the ” Spirit of Jesus ” in verse 3 refers to the third person in the Godhead. [It is not scriptural to speak of the Holy Spirit thus.—J.M.].
God was not long in revealing His purposes for the Apostle and his companions for, when they reached Troas, Paul had the vision of the man beseeching them to come to Macedonia and help them.

It was at Troas that Luke appears first amongst the toiling band and sailed to Philippi with them. Outside this city they met Lydia who with her household became disciples and perhaps formed later the nucleus of the church in Thyatira (see Rev.2:18-29). [There is not a scrap of evidence for this suggestion.—J.M.].
In Philippi, Paul casts out a demon from a maid, whose masters, seeing their hopes of an easily-earned income vanish, dragged Paul and Silas before the rulers, who had them thrown into the innermost prison. But about midnight, while the two prisoners were rejoicing at being counted worthy to suffer for the sake of the Name, there was a great earthquake, and the jailor, fearing some of his charges had escaped, was about to kill himself, when Paul and Silas intervened and proclaimed to him the gospel, with the result that he believed and was baptised and his household also. In the morning Paul and Silas were released and after visiting Lydia and the brethren the 3′ departed, leaving Luke in Philippi.
After passing through Amphipolis and Appolonia they came to Thessalonica where they made many disciples. Persecution arose and they were forced to flee to Beroea whose citizens were more open-minded and searched the Scriptures, testing the things that were spoken. Many disciples were made here, but their persecutors reached Beroea and Paul was conducted to Athens by the brethren.
At Athens, while waiting for Silas and Timothy, he encountered some of the Stoics and Epicureans who, wise men as the world accounted them, treated the resurrection as foolishness. At Mars hill he gave that wonderful address to the Athenians, but ” the world through its wisdom knew not God ” (1 Cor.1:21), and out of that concourse of men of knowledge not ” a great/multitude ” as in Thessalonica, not ” many” as in Beroea, but ” certain ” (inferring few) clave to the apostle and believed.
Truly knowledge puffeth up!

FROM MIDDLESBROUGH.—In the three verses 6, 7 and 10 we see the Trinity working in blessed unity for the benefit of those in Macedonia. We noticed, too, an addition to Paul’s company in verse 10, whom we took to be Luke, the writer of the Acts. The place of prayer proved to be a place of blessing.
Lydia, though of Asia, is the first person recorded as being reached in Europe. She was a beautiful character—a worshipper of God, though till then a stranger to His sovereign grace in Christ Jesus. Not until she was baptised was faithfulness mentioned by her. While God is working, the adversary is busy too, as we see in the maid with the spirit of divination. Paul and Silas are beaten, put in jail and secured in the stocks, yet they prayed and sang hymns—surely the gospel is here proclaimed under circumstances altogether unique. But one, the jailor himself, needs an especial awakening, and as a result of the earthquake Paul has the opportunity to speak the word that saves him from a hopeless eternity. What a different man now! He takes Paul and Silas and washes their stripes. Then after he and his household had been baptised, he entertained them in his house. We see in the cases of Lydia and the jailor and further in Phil.4:15-19 that the characteristic of the Philippian assembly was liberality. Reference was made to Lk.10:5-7 with regard to Lydia’s house. In Thessalonica, Paul, according to custom, entered the synagogue (cp. Lk.4:16). The Greeks received the Word and the Jews rejected it and in a very short time they stirred up the city. Paul and Silas were sent away by the brethren. It was suggested that Paul felt it very much leaving the disciples in their trials and wrote, as soon as possible, his first epistle to strengthen and establish them in the Faith. Those at Beroea have left an example for each one of us. Soon, into this tranquil scene, the adversary brought his emissaries and trouble arose. Paul was sent further on; Silas and Timothy abode a little while. Paul, while waiting for Silas and Timothy at Athens was not idle; we find him using every opportunity in this idol-infested city, of bringing before men the true God.
In verses 30, 31 we notice three important facts: (1) God’s commandment to repent; (2) Judgment; and (3) the Resurrection. Though the first two seemingly passed unnoticed the third caused some to mock; others to defer, yet (how blessed to read!) certain clave unto him., of whom we have the name of a man and a woman.

FROM HAMILTON, ONT.—How sad it is to notice the absence of Barnabas from Paul’s company of workers! However, the same blessed Holy Spirit who ” called ” Paul is He who guides and comforts him and his fellow workers. Thus led by the Holy Spirit, this company passes through Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden to speak the word in Asia. Perhaps as the Apostle journeyed through these parts he would feel as if he was wasting precious time.
Greater work lies ahead of the Apostle and passing through these regions he comes to Troas, where, in a wondrous way, God unfolded to him in a vision that Macedonia was to be the field of their labour. Paul and his company lost no time and with work in view they set sail for Samothrace, Neapolis and thence on to Philippi, a city of Macedonia, a Roman colony. In Philippi some remarkable things transpired. Firstly Paul met Lydia at the river side, at a place of prayer. There Lydia was reached by the word with this result—that ” she was bap¬tized, and her household,” and evidenced her disciple spirit in opening her house to the Apostle. ” By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples if ye have love one toward another.” We need more Lydias to-day!
Paul evidently enjoyed this fine spot on the riverbank where he had found a good ” fishing ground,” for we see them once more on their way to the place of prayer. But on this occasion they have another follower—a maiden who had a spirit of divination—from whom, after many days of annoyance, Paul cast out the spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ. This miracle had serious results, for the masters of the maiden charged Paul and Silas with setting forth customs contrary to Roman law. From Acts 26:30 we presume they were not guilty, yet the magistrates readily accepted the accusations and condemned them to prison. This certainly did seem so contrary to the ” call ” to Macedonia! The same God who had delivered Daniel and his three friends was their God. At midnight there was an earthquake which shook the prison, making the road to freedom open. Though freedom could have been theirs, they remained, for that vital question had to be answered:— ” Sirs, what must I do to be saved? ” Help was needed here! The jailor and all his household were saved, and like Lydia were baptised. The net was filling, but Paul must needs leave Philippi.
From Philippi Paul journeyed to Thessalonica (still in Macedonia, the place that needed help) and, as his custom was, he was found in the synagogue preaching the good tidings. The actions of the Apostle in this chapter remind us of the words in 1 Cor.9:20-23, and it is as being guided by God that he is found fishing in the synagogue.

As a result we see that some believed. Thence Paul fled to Beroea and once again spread out his net, the outcome of which we find in Acts 17:11. This reminded us of Jn 7:17, ” If any man willeth … lie shall know . . . .” Do we examine the Scriptures daily?
From Beroea. we trace the movements of the Apostle to Athens. How observant the Apostle was—he realised immediately the main issue of his mission to Athens! and so he declared to them who the ” unknown God ” was. What a joy must have filled his heart to tell of how much he knew about God and of how real God was to him.
Very marvellously does the Apostle reason with these Athenians, and skilfully he casts his net on the right side of the boat and once more we notice from verses 32 to 34 that he is successful.
W. T., J. J. T.

FROM ST. HELENS.—Phrygia was the largest province of Asia Minor. [My map of the travels of Paul does not show Phrygia as a province of the Roman Empire at that time, but simply as a, district of the province of Asia, with Galatia on the east.—J.M.], Galatia, to the east, was formerly conquered by the Gauls, who settled there, and called it after their own name. Many Jews were also settled there, hence the cause of so much controversy between the Jew and Gentile. We might marvel betimes why God stopped His two ambassadors from preaching the gospel in these various places mentioned. We thought that one lesson might be learned, namely, that as workers for the Lord Jesus Christ, we should first seek our God before we commence any work for Him in any place, and say, with one of old, ” If Thy presence go not with us, carry us not up hence.” This prohibition was the means of the introduction of the Gospel into Europe.
Verse 9: ” And a vision appeared . . . .” The will of God in those early times was made known in this way (see Matt.2:13 and Acts 10:3). They gave heed to the message to come over into Macedonia to help them. Then God began to give the increase, for a woman, named Lydia, a purple-seller, had her heart opened by the Lord, was baptised, and her household. How Paul’s heart would rejoice at this!
Verse 22: In the light of the treatment meted out to Paul and Silas in the prison, we have much to thank God for, indeed, in this land! However, though they suffered much, their God was with them. We long to hear such cries as the jailor uttered, in our day, and we would give the same reply as Paul gave.
The word ” Opening ” in Acts 17:3, meaning ” to explain,” reminded us of the scene in Lk.24:32. The death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus seem to have been a stone of stumbling to the Jew. But thanks be unto God, for the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. This, being rejected by the Jew, has proved to be a blessing to the Gentile. F. HURST.

FROM ATHERTON AND LEIGH. Verses 6-10: These verses clearly indicate that the apostles in all their movements were guided by the Holy Spirit. We recalled the words of the Holy Spirit to Philip, ” Go near and join thyself to this chariot ” (Acts 8:29).
Verses 11-15: They come down to Philippi in Macedonia, and speak to the women who had assembled by the river bank, amongst whom was Lydia, who had travelled thither from Thyatira, possibly to sell her purple. Her heart had been opened by the Lord, to give heed unto the things she had heard from Paul. The reaching of a soul is a Divine work, but (wonder of wonders!) it pleases God to use human instrumentality. She ” gave heed “… and . . . was baptised.” This is in perfect agreement with Acts 2:41; ” They then that gladly received his word, were baptised,” and with other kindred scriptures.
Verses 16-18: Here the apostles are met by a maid, having a spirit of divination. She was demon possessed, controlled by the adversary to oppose the work of God. 1 Jn 4:1-3 was referred to: ” Prove the spirits, whether they be of God . . . .” The question was raised, ” Does confess mean to believe? ” [To confess in sincerity is to give expression to what we believe, but there is also a spurious confession without the possession of faith.—J.M.] This led us to Rom.10:9 where we get confession with the mouth and belief in the heart, and it was agreed by some that this latter scripture has a very definite Jewish bearing; that is, it was necessary for the Jews who believe to make a public confession thereto.
It was also asked, ” Is there any significance in the words, ‘ Jesus as Lord,’ and the title Christ being omitted? ” [It is clear that what the Apostle is showing is the necessity of subjection of the believing sinner to the Lordship of Christ in the gospel. The Jews went about to establish their own righteousness and would not subject themselves to the righteousness of God (verse 3). Every person who is saved renders to God the obedience of faith (Rom.1:5; Rom.16:26) which ever precedes the obedience of love—obedience to the commandments of the Lord. Christ has universal Lordship because He is a universal Saviour.—J.M.]. S. H., W. C.


QUESTION FROM HAMILTON (ONT.).—What is the significance of the vision in Acts 16:9?
ANSWER.—The significance of the vision is told us that by it they concluded that God had called them to preach the gospel unto them (the Macedonians). It was the way by which the Lord revealed His will to Paul.—J.M.
QUESTION FROM ST. HELENS.—Is there any difference between the Spirit of Jesus and the Holy Spirit (Acts 16:6, 7)?
” ANSWER.—Notice how the Revisers print Spirit with a capital ” S.” The Spirit of Jesus is the Holy Spirit.—J.M.
Compare the expressions ” Spirit of God ” and ” Man of God.” The preposition ” of ” here gives the idea of expressing or manifesting. We have in Rom.8. many analogous expressions; thus in verse 9 we have the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ. In the former case it is the work of the Spirit in connection with God and in the latter we must understand the work of the Spirit in revealing Christ. Again in verse 11 we read of the ” Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead,” relating to the Spirit’s teaching in this special sense. An extreme case of this usage is given in verse 2; ” the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus ” definitely refers to the activity of the Holy Spirit in this special aspect.—A.T.D.

FROM LONDON, S.E.—They were forbidden to preach the word of God in Asia. This prohibition was the means of the first introduction of the gospel into Europe.
The Philippian Jailor. Paul and Silas sang praises in the prison. Nothing but faith in God could have enabled them to do this. A Christian may find more true joy in a prison than a monarch on his throne. The jailor says. “What must I do to be saved? ” The apostles evidently understood him as referring to eternal salvation, and not merely to be saved from his then present circumstances, as is manifest from their answer.
The Beroeans were more noble than those of Thessalonica. This is the only occasion that we read of the Beroeans. It seems rather strange that we never read of a church of God at Beroea since we are told that many of them believed. [This does not mean that there was no church of God there though it is not specifically mentioned.—J.M.]
Paul at Athens. The teaching of the resurrection always seems to have met with much opposition. Even in the Lord’s time it was opposed by the sect of the Sadducees. But the truth here again triumphed, for we read that certain clave unto Paul and believed.

FROM LIVERPOOL AND BIRKENHEAD.–Divine guidance is very marked in bringing Paul and his co-travellers to Philippi. Asia, and Bithynia are passed and they are divinely guided to the home of the Thyatirian purple-seller, Lydia. The riverside was the place where they met Lydia; it also saw Paul’s first evangelistic work in Europe. In a Jewish prayer meeting [presumably], they commenced the spread of the gospel, and Lydia was saved, though she was before a worshipper of God. The eunuch, Cornelius, and others, were all worshippers—Lydia, who was already looking Godward, was in a receptive condition of a devout listener. Faith comes by hearing. The Saviour summoned men to hear. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. The Lord opened her heart. The heart occupies a prominent place in Scripture. The Lord should be loved with all the heart as well as with all the soul and mind and strength (Mk.12:30-33). Lydia practised what Paul taught, in that she was baptised. Her house was opened, as well as her heart. ” One’s Christianity is not worth much, if it does not open one’s purse to help on the cause one has espoused.” It was while on their way to the prayer meeting that they were followed by a certain maid, having a Python spirit. The quietness which characterised the beginning of the first evangelistic effort in Europe was soon to receive a rude shock. The spirit that possessed her proclaimed a clear testimony, ” These men are servants of the Most High God; which shew unto us the way of salvation.1′ Paul and Silas having cast out the demon were falsely accused by her masters. The magistrates who condemned them had to humble themselves before the servants of God the following day, when they had to beg the men, whom they had so cruelly wronged, to go away. Here commences Paul’s prison experiences.
The jailor’s question—” What must I do? “—is twice previously brought before us. On the day of Pentecost the Jews asked, ” Men and brethren, what shall we do? ” Saul of Tarsus said, ” What shall I do, Lord? ” The jailor goes further and adds, ” to be saved.” What a wealth of grace and love is contained in the reply, ” Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved “! So the precious Saviour is brought to the hearts of the jailor and his household, and ” He rejoiced greatly with all his house, having believed in God.”

FROM ILFORD.—After the Holy Spirit’s manifest overruling of the Apostle’s purpose to visit Asia and Bythynia there was no doubt about the call to Macedonia, and so the Apostle hastened to his first preaching of the gospel in Europe. This began amongst women at a prayer meeting, and the first results were seen in Lydia, who gave heed to the things spoken by Paul, and was baptised, and her household. How prominent women were in this early work in Europe! Lydia in Philippi; then in Thessalonica not a few of the chief women were among the first to be persuaded (17:4); still later many Greek women of honourable estate were among the first to believe in Beroea (17:12); and last of all in Athens a woman named Damans was among the few who clave unto Paul.
The casting out of the spirit of divination, with the consequent loss to certain wicked men of their ” easy money ” resulted in the Apostle’s imprisonment. Though bruised, bleeding and tortured by the stocks their tongues were employed not in complaint, but in praise. No wonder the other prisoners, knowing their plight, listened with amazement, their hard hearts doubtless touched; and no wonder that none attempted to escape after the earthquake.
Though suffering much the Apostle poured into the ear and heart of the jailor the word of the Lord, which was received. Then, and not until then, were the wounds of Paul and Silas attended to, and after this the now Christian jailor, and all his, were baptised. When they left Philippi, a number of believers remained, who are later seen as the church in Philippi.
Creating no small stir in Thessalonica and Beroea by his preaching, Paul passed on to the sea, leaving Silas and Timothy in Beroea. Young Timothy was entrusted with considerable responsibility, and thus early did he learn the value of the fact that from his childhood he had been well taught the Holy Scriptures.

We noticed the practical way in which Paul preached to the Gentiles, and we thought it contained guidance for us in our efforts to-day. In Athens he acquainted himself with local conditions and popular superstitions. Then, taking up something quite topical, he gradually passed on to his grand theme, preaching the Living God and the Lord Jesus Christ in death and resurrection. F. W. J.


FROM HAMILTON, OXT.—After Paul had departed from Athens, he journeyed down to Corinth, and there met a Jew named Aquila, who, with Priscilla his wife, had been driven from Rome by a decree of the Emperor Claudius. Seeing they were tentmakers he abode with them, labouring willingly with his hands (Acts SO:34, 1 Cor.4:12). Though Paul had manual labour to do, yet he kept the Lord’s work to the forefront, for every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, spreading abroad the precious seed of the gospel.
However, Silas and Timothy evidently brought encouraging news from Macedonia to the Apostle, for he seems to have been spurred on to greater vigour, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. Yet how sad it is to notice that the Jews, like those of Antioch of Pisidia, opposed the word of God, insomuch that once again the Apostle turns to the Gentiles with words of condemnation: ” Your blood be upon your own heads. I am clean.”
Paul therefore departed from the synagogue and went to the house of one named Justus. Though Satan had seemingly won a decided victory, yet we see the ever-victorious hand of God in that the very ruler of the synagogue believed, with all his house—not only Crisp us, but many more believed and were baptised.
The work extended in Corinth, for the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision, saying—” Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace . . . for I have much people in this city.” So the Apostle abode and laboured in Corinth for a year and six months, but with much opposition.
The Apostle left Corinth with Priscilla and Aquila, and sailed to Syria. At Ephesus Paul left his companions. He went himself into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews there. Unlike the Corinthian Jews, these desired him to stay longer, but he declined, saying, ” I will return again unto you, if God will.” Sailing from Ephesus he came to Antioch, where he spent some time and then journeyed through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, establishing the disciples.
After Paul had left them, Priscilla and Aquila heard Apollos (a well-educated man, a Jew born at Alexandria, one mighty in the Scriptures) speaking eloquently in the synagogue concerning Jesus, knowing only the baptism of John, and taking him unto them, they explained to him the way of God more accurately.
With true disciple characteristics, Apollos readily accepted the new light and increased in the knowledge of God’s ways. Then, being commended by the brethren to those in Achaia, he laboured hard for his beloved Master. W. T., J. J. T.

FROM ATHERTON AND LEIGH.—The Apostle Paul leaves Athens and comes to Corinth, where he finds Aquila and Priscilla. These people were tentmakers, and the Apostle, being of the kindred trade (it is said that every Jew was taught a trade), made his abode with them. There may be two reasons for the Apostle lodging with these people. Firstly, he had no desire to be burdensome (2 Cor.11:9), and also to the elders of Ephesus he said, ” Ye yourselves know that these hands ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me ” (Acts 20:34). Secondly, if this man and his wife were not believers just at the time of the Apostle’s arrival, it does seem that their hearts were prepared for the message through him. [The reason why Paul is found with Priscilla and Aquila is clearly stated:—”He abode with them, and they wrought; for by their trade they were tentmakers.”—J .M.]
Following the rejection of the message by the Jews the Apostle went to Titus Justus, adjoining the synagogue. It was questioned as to who this man was, but we could not trace further information about him. Wonderful results follow^ the Apostle’s ministry; Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed, also many of the Corinthians. These were all baptised, and in the case of Crispus, Paul himself was the baptiser (1 Cor.1:14). Persecution lay ahead, but very comforting must the words of the Lord have been to him: ” Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to harm thee: for I have much people in this city.” And he laboured on for a period of a year and six months.
The Jews bring a false charge to Gallio the proconsul of Achaia, who, however, was ” not minded to be a judge of these matters.” While being driven from the judgment seat they laid hold on Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him. We judge Sosthenes is the brother referred to in Corinthians 1:1.
Paul then journeyed to Ephesus, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. We thought the names mentioned in verse 18, in reverse order to verse 2, would possibly suggest that Priscilla had advanced beyond her husband in the teaching. They meet Apollos, a mighty man in the Scriptures, but who only knew the baptism of John. This great man, with a humble heart, submits to further instruction in the word of God, from both Priscilla and Aquila, and later he, with the commendation of the brethren, passed over into Achaia, and ” powerfully confuted the Jews . . . that Jesus was the Christ.”
H. P., W. C.

FROM LONDON, S.E. One wonders who the Titus Justus mentioned in verse 7 can be. Apparently he is the same man as the Jesus which is called Justus in Col.4:11. [I should be inclined to think of these as two distinct individuals.—J.M.]
We note the remarkable and unique testimony to Apollos the Alexandrian—that he was mighty in the Scriptures. His knowledge was no doubt dependent on the fact that Alexandria was a seat of learning, the place where the Hebrew Scriptures were translated into Greek (Septuagint Version). We would like to know if Apollos spake of Jesus (verse 25) from a standpoint of Old Testament prophecy or from a personal knowledge that Christ had come? [Verse 25 explains fully what Apollos knew; he knew that the Scriptures spake of the Jesus that John testified concerning, that he was the Messiah, the Son of God, but seemingly he was unaware of the further developments in the work of God. How this could be is not told us. The ministry of John the Baptist was a necessary part of divine testimony; to him it was given to identify the Christ by the divinely-given sign of the descent of the Spirit in dove-like form upon the Lord.—J.M.]

There is an interesting contrast to be noticed between the cities of Athens and Corinth. The sin of Athens was that of the mind—here philosophy was rife. At Corinth no such high standard was maintained —here the flesh was exalted. It is significant that the gospel preaching was attended with a better result at the latter city, pointing to the fact that the gospel reaches more readily people given to the baser kinds of sin.
In passing, the character of Gallio (verse 14) was cleared from all suspicion of harshness. His clear-sightedness kept him from the effort of the Jews to trick him into a biased decision.
Verse 22 marks the end of the Apostle’s second missionary journey; verse 23 marks the beginning of his third journey.

FROM TRINIDAD, COLO., U.S.A.—We find Paul at Corinth where he comes into contact with a Jew, Aquila. Paul abode with this man and his wife for some time, and we notice that Paul still reasoned and persuaded the Jews concerning the Christ as their Redeemer. It was no easy thing to do to persuade a Jew concerning the Messiah, but here and there the Apostle did convince certain that their Redeemer had come, for we read that many, hearing, believed and were baptised.
He meets with much opposition, and though wrongly accused, is maltreated; he went on looking for precious fruit from his labours; such was his heart for Israel. He later wrote: ” Brethren, my heart’s desire and my supplication to God is for them, that they may be saved.” He knew the unbelief that he was dealing with; he also realised the zeal of an Israelite for the ceremonies of the law. Preaching, teaching, and praying, he wrought for God among them in much affliction. He went no further with those who opposed themselves, but shook out his raiment as a testimony against them and turned to the Gentiles that he might gain them.
He stayed a considerable time at Corinth. There seems to be a divine principle that where there is preaching there needs to follow teaching of the word. He sought to instruct these Jewish converts and gain their obedience to the will of the Lord.
Priscilla and Aquila accompany him to Ephesus, and he left them there, and went to Caesarea where there was an Assembly, and from thence to Antioch. In the region of Galatia and Phrygia, he established the disciples, causing them to cleave to and obey their Lord.
Then we have the learned Apollos arriving in Ephesus. Priscilla and Aquila gave him a more accurate understanding of the Scriptures whereby he became a more able minister of the Word, and of him the honourable word is written, ” I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.”
This working together brought spiritual prosperity and blessing wherever he went and caused the word of God to run and be glorified.
W. W. Cox.

FROM CARDIFF.—At this time, the church at Philippi alone had been exercised about the temporal wants of Paul (Phil.4:15). He knew affliction, yet had learned in whatever state he was ” therein to be content.” At Corinth he found Aquila and Priscilla, and because of his need, Paul laboured with them in the trade of tent-making, and as hands worked at tent-making, his lips spoke the Divine message. Joined by his fellow-workers, he testified to Jews that Jesus is the Christ. The Jews in their opposition to the truth are spoken of as “opposing themselves.” The attitude Gallio adopts is in some respects praiseworthy, and we admire his strict adherence to the legal aspect of his position. Nothing is more ridiculous than for spiritual matters to be weighed and judged by unbelieving persons, and this applies in whatsoever sphere the unregenerate occupies. In connection with Paul and the vow, we have only one conclusion respecting his action; at one time (probably in his Pharisaical days), he made a vow, allowing his hair to grow long, for a period which became fulfilled while at Cenchreae?, and he shaved his head on the completion of his vow. [This is very doubtful. How would this square with the New Testament truth of the headship of the male, in regard to which if a man have long hair it is a dishonour to him? (see 1 Cor.11:14). There is no question that he had allowed his hair to grow long, but in keeping with Jewish custom, emerging, perhaps, from what was required in the vow of the Nazirite, Paul shaved his head. Much is said in the Old Testa¬ment in regard to vows (see in particular Lev.27.) and while these are not enjoined upon us in this dispensation, nor is there any word regulating the matter of vows, yet from Paul’s action in vowing, vowing cannot be contrary to the Lord’s will for our time. Those who vow should hold such as sacred, and should not defer to pay their vow. —J.M.]
The influence and teaching of the Apostle leaves its mark upon those two earnest disciples, a man and his wife, Priscilla and Aquila. Remaining at Corinth in the recently-planted assembly [At Ephesus, verse 24; it is not certain that an assembly was yet planted here, judging from 19:2.—A.T.D.] their growth in spiritual things apparent, they and those with them are joined by an Alexandrian Jew, Apollos. He was learned, and mighty in the (Old Testament) Scriptures, and was typical of many children of God to-day: possessed of great intellectual ability, and many advantages, they are ignorant of the way of the Lord. The very expression ” they took him unto them ” seems to portray a warm, loving invitation to hear the way of the Lord more accurately. The five verses closing the chapter seem to abound with fruitful illustrations which should speak powerfully to our hearts to-day. He enters the Divine narrative as one fervent in spirit, and instructed in the way of the Lord; these are admirable characteristics, embracing as they do a power to speak, and carefully at that, and his subject matter was excellent—it was concerning Jesus, and of Him he spoke boldly. He was not high-minded, being prepared to hear the way of the Lord more carefully, demonstrating the Divine principle, ” to him that hath, shall be given,” and because he exhibited such wonderful powers of reception, humility, ” he helped much through grace, them which had believed” (margin). In conclusion, we believe nothing stimulates the soul to learn Christ more, as it did with these Corinthian saints, than the exhibition of grace with its characteristics as seen in that servant of the Lord, Apollos, who was a pillar in the assembly.

FROM LIVERPOOL AND BIRKENHEAD.—The question arose as to whether Silas and Timothy met the Apostle Paul at Athens as he expected. He speaks in 1 Thess.3:2 of sending Timothy to Thessalonica to comfort the saints. Some thought either Timothy went to Corinth, or the Apostle met him en-route from Beroea and gave him his message.
We do not read of what became of Silas after this. Priscilla and Aquila evidently stayed some time in Corinth until the rescinding of the ban of Claudius (see Rom.16:3). Priscilla and Aquila left Corinth with Paul and accompanied him to Ephesus where they met Apollos. Priscilla and Aquila sent a salutation to the Corinthian Assembly in the Apostle’s first letter to Corinth (1 Cor.16:19), and later we find them in Rome, as our friends show (Rom.16:3).— J.M.]
Paul reasoned in the synagogue and persuaded men. ” But when Silas and Timothy came Paul was constrained by the word,” not reasoning now—as though the presence of others had the effect of altering the Apostle’s work. [Reasoning is quite a lawful way of presenting divine things to men. Note the character of much that the Lord said was of this nature; His mode of teaching was oftentimes conversational. ” Come and let us reason together,” said the Lord through Isaiah to Israel.—J.M.]
Verse 6 shews us the Apostle’s complete separation from the synagogue after the Jews opposed themselves. Titus Justus, as his name implies, was a Greek. [Brantford suggest that he was a Roman. The name seems to be Roman, but when one thinks of the assumed names of Jews to-day, this man may have been a Jew.—J.M.] We thought that Paul was afraid [?] owing to the persecution, which caused the Lord to encourage him in a vision, that he might go on, as we know he did, with the result that a large assembly was planted in Corinth. Gallio was no doubt a prudent man in driving the Jews out of the court, not caring to have anything to do with their law. It is significant to note Priscilla is mentioned before Aquila in verse 18; we suggest the former was the stronger character.
Truly Apollos is an example of Jn 7:17: he obeyed the truth when he was taught it.
Verse 27: The apostles [brethren.—A.T.D.], we see, sent a ” note of commendation ” from Ephesus to Corinth about Apollos.

FROM BRANTFORD, ONT.—Leaving Athens with its idolatry, Paul set his course for Corinth. There he met Aquila, with Priscilla his wife. How he made their acquaintance we are not told. However, they had much in common as they were both Jews by race, and crafts¬men of the same trade, tentmakers.
It is possible that Paul met them at the synagogue. There is also the possibility that they became disciples of the Lord Jesus through Paul’s preaching.
While resident in Corinth Paul made his abode with them, working at his trade, doubtless to maintain himself, and embracing opportunities of reasoning with the Jews on the Sabbath-days, in the synagogue, as was his practice wherever he went to introduce the gospel. Some time elapsed in this way with no open sign of hostility from the Jews, until the Apostle’s efforts were supplemented by the arrival of Silas and Timothy, whom Paul had left at Beroea. Probably he then began openly to allege that Jesus was the Christ. This teaching produced the same effects as he had encountered in other localities.
The Jews became frenzied and went the length of blasphemy. Thus judging themselves unworthy of eternal life, Paul turned his attention to the Gentiles. He forsook the synagogue and made the house of Titus Justus (probably a Roman) the centre of his activities in the propagation of the gospel. Amongst the first converts was Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, who believed with all his house. In addition to this many of the Corinthians believed and were baptised. Doubtless the church of God in Corinth was planted about this time.

Paul continued in Corinth for eighteen months, teaching the Word. While the work of God was thus prospering, Satan was busy preparing his attack which was ultimately let loose against the noble servant of Christ Jesus.
Paul would mark the growing animosity and was strengthened by the night vision from the Lord, vouchsafing his safety. After his prolonged stay in Corinth, the Apostle, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila, sailed to Syria. On their arrival at Ephesus they parted company. Paul entered the synagogue and sought to persuade the Jews. His visit to Ephesus was brief, but he promised those who wished him to remain longer that, God willing, he would return. Setting sail from Ephesus he landed at Caesarea and saluted the church there. From thence he proceeded to Antioch, thus completing his second missionary journey. After spending a season there he went through Galatia and Phrygia stablishing the disciples. It does not seem as if there was anything concrete established for God in Ephesus during Paul’s first visit. Some time after his departure Apollos arrived in Ephesus. There is no suggestion in the context that he was associated with the Fellowship. Apparently he was a believer on the Lord Jesus, knowing only the baptism of John. The margin reads, he was taught by word of mouth. According to the light he had he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. Priscilla and Aquila did not fill a spectacular role, but they were faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus. Their association with the Apostle Paul those many months in Corinth had served the purpose f rooting and grounding them. They would be well instructed by° the Apostle in the doctrines of the Lord. It appears as if they frequented the synagogue, and when they heard Apollos they took him aside and expounded unto him the way of God more carefully. They had the aptitude to teach and Apollos was willing to be taught. Whilst we are not clear to say that there was an assembly of God established in Ephesus during Paul’s first visit there, we have every confidence in saying that there was a Church of God there before Apollos left. [As to whether there was an assembly in Ephesus at this time or not, it is, perhaps, difficult to say. Verse 27 certainly indicates collective action by the brethren in Ephesus. I. They encourage him to go to Achaia. II. They commend him. 111. They regard themselves to be competent to say whether Apollos is a fit person to be in the Fellowship: upon their judgment and commendation he is received in Achaia. It is not that he goes to Corinth simply, but to the province of Achaia, ” and when he was come, he helped them much.” The language is that concerning one who is already well-established in the Fellowship and in the truths for which God’s people stood. However, it is well not to be dogmatic where the evidence is so meagre one way or the other.—J.M.] (We are not suggesting that Apollos planted it.) For when Apollos expressed his desire to pass over into Achaia the brethren encouraged him and wrote a letter of commendation to the disciples resident in Achaia, asking them to receive him. His visit to the saints in Achaia proved helpful to them. The word records that he helped them much.
So we are reminded of the Apostle Paul’s word to the Corinthians: ” I planted, Apollos watered.”

FROM BARROW-IN-FURNESS.—Paul’s association with Aquila and Priscilla, which apparently commenced in Acts 18:2, was one which must have given the Apostle a great amount of joy (see Rom.16:3-4). In his epistle there is ever-recurring reference to this worthy couple whose hearts the Lord had opened. They were given to hospitality and also they were apt to teach, as is evident later on in this chapter. Their home also was open to the saints, and for the meetings of the assembly (Rom.16:5).
The Apostle Paul was not an idle man. In his writings he says, ” If any will not work, neither let him eat ” (2 Thess.3:10), and he worked with his hands to supply his temporal needs. Referring, no doubt, to the time under discussion, he writes, ” I kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself ” (2 Cor.11:9). This principle he carried out to the letter in Corinth (as above), in Ephesus (Acts 20:34), in Thessalonica (1 Thess.2:9), and this he did by way of example (Acts 20:35, 2 Thess.3:9). [This is, of course, only half the truth; the Apostle acted wisely in all his circumstances. He “took wages” of the churches (2 Cor.11:8) that he might minister unto the Corinthians. From some he could take freely, as from the Philippians, but from others he could accept nothing, that he ” might cut off occasion from them that desire an occasion” (2 Cor.11:12). His right to receive of their carnal things he emphatically states in 1 Cor.9:11-12, and his choosing rather to maintain himself by his own labour was that ” there might be no hindrance to the gospel of Christ.”—A.T.D.]
It would seem that, before the arrival of Silas and Timothy, Paul sought to persuade men in a quiet manner, not publicly. But on the arrival of his co-workers he testified publicly to the Jews first, and then to the Gentiles. Despite the opposition raised, the servant rested on his Master’s word, ” Be not afraid but speak . . . for I am with thee,” and he continued in Corinth eighteen months.
We judge that the Titus Justus of verse 7 is not the Titus who was associated with Paul in his labours.
It is noticeable that the word of the gospel reached those who were in high place among the Jews. Crispus the ruler of the synagogue believed (verse 8). And they laid hold on Sosthenes the ruler of the synagogue and beat him (verse 17). This Sosthenes, we take it, was the one associated with Paul in writing to the Corinthians (see 1 Cor.1. 1).
The narrative now moves rapidly, and Paul and his company come to Ephesus on their way to Syria. His stay here was short, and with a promise to return, if God will, he left them and came to Antioch.
The arrival of Apollos is interesting, as is also the man’s character. A learned man, mighty in the scriptures, instructed in the way of the Lord, fervent in spirit, he spake and taught carefully the things con¬cerning Jesus. Yet his knowledge was limited; for he only knew the baptism of John. It is here that Priscilla and Aquila do their work. They took him unto them and expounded unto him the way of God more carefully.
When he went into Achaia he was given a letter of commendation from the brethren in Ephesus. Here too he carried on his work of shewing from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. Apollos seems to have had many converts in Corinth, for some there were saying, ” I am of Paul; and I of Apollos ” (1 Cor.1:12). The Apostle recognised his good work in the words, ” I planted, Apollos watered ” (1 Cor.3:6).
Apollos was later associated with the Apostle in the Lord’s service (1 Cor.16:12), and as late as Tit.3:13 he is apparently still moving about among the assemblies.
J. McC.

FROM CROSSFORD.—Unlike most of the places previously visited, Athens witnessed Paul’s departure without serious persecution, and yet the response of these people was poorer than that of most who had heard the glad tidings elsewhere. Generally they displayed in Athens a ” lightness ” toward the message of the Apostle, and the few who did believe and cleave to him must be left meantime because of greater work awaiting him in Corinth.
Paul who had before laboured with his hands for his own and others’ needs, no doubt, entered this city in need of temporal sustenance, and it was by no means a chance that he found Aquila and his wife, who under his careful teaching became useful and able servants of Christ. That Paul received so little practical support from the churches and that he and his companions in travel should have gone about hungry and thirsty and naked, moves us to shame. How very possible it is to let opportunities of service pass by just for lack of real exercise! Besides, what a privilege it is to support the Lord’s servants at any time!
Paul commenced his great labours in Corinth as a weak and lonely man. The fierce persecutions which had befallen him until now had perhaps a restraining effect on him as he quietly ” reasoned ” in the synagogue, and ” persuaded ” men. Never was he ” disobedient to the heavenly vision,” but when Silas and Timothy joined him, he, constrained by the Word, boldly testified that ” Jesus was the Christ.” Verse 6 makes mention of the raiment being shaken out; elsewhere it is usually the shoes and the dust of the feet. Perhaps this reflects again his deep poverty—perhaps he was shoe-less.
In spite of opposition the Word was effectual, and when Crispus the ruler believed with all his house, and many others became disciples, Paul was strengthened against the apparent danger of a recurrence of any onslaught by an assurance from the Lord and by a vision.
The Word grew mightily and prevailed so that the successor of Crispus also became obedient to the faith amidst afflictions, for we read of Sosthenes as well (17).
After his lengthy and memorable stay at Corinth, Paul paid a brief visit to Ephesus where afterwards a ” great door ” was opened to him; from thence he proceeded to Antioch.
The learned and mighty Apollos is introduced to us in Ephesus. His true greatness is shewn early in his readiness to learn from Priscilla and Aquila (verse 26) ” the way of God.” (Compare, Way of the Lord, 25). There is wonderful variety in the way God raises up His servants, so that we are unable to decide where Apollos received his early instruction. He had an exceptionally good understanding of the Old Testament Scriptures, yet it is clear that in themselves these are not sufficient to shew the way of God for His people to-day.
Verse 27 shews that other brethren were in Ephesus, besides Aquila, who were competent to commend Apollos to those in Achaia. The matter of commendation to and from brethren to-day is an important safeguard. It is one of the things in the ” Walls of Zion” which we should ” mark well.” H. B.
FROM MIDDLESBROUGH.—A ruler of the earth makes a decree which the all-wise Ruler of rulers uses to the blessing of Aquila and Priscilla, in that they meet Paul who no doubt helps them much spiritually. Their trade brings them together and we here learn of Paul working as a tent-maker; he who had sat at the feet of Gamaliel is not ashamed to toil for his needs in this life (see 2 Cor.12:13; also 1 Thess.2:9). But what might he not do who sought so closely to follow the Master, who Himself worked at the carpenter’s bench?
Paul seeks to speak to the Jews, but they oppose themselves and Paul tells them he is clear from their blood. We are reminded of Ezek.33:5-7, 1 Cor.9:16, and Acts 20:26. With regard to the vision (verse 10), we looked at the other visits of the Lord and the angel of the Lord in chapter 23:11 and chapter 27:23.
The matter of the vow (verse 18) caused much interest, though what Paul’s vow was is not disclosed. The shorn head reminds us of the fulfilment of the Nazirite’s vow. The subject of vows is an exceeding wide one. We were reminded of the Lord’s words in Matt.26:29; also of Jacob’s vow, Gen.28:20; Jephthah’s vow, Jdgs.11:30; Hannah’s, 1 Sam.1:11, and the solemn words in Eccles.5:4. In the light of these scriptures we wondered what part vows have with us to-day. [See note in Cardiff’s paper.]
We are now introduced to Apollos—surely a worthy man! learned, yet willing to be taught. Aquila and Priscilla had no doubt profited from their association with Paul and we see them fit vessels to be used in more carefully expounding the Way of God. Apollos too profited through them in that he so ably confuted the Jews. Humble tentmakers, yet they were used of God. We can never go lower than He, our blessed Lord, went. E. H. BOWERS.
FROM ARMAGH.—Paul entered Corinth, as he had entered Athens, alone, from a human standpoint, yet he enjoyed that invisible secret Presence. God, preparing the way, had Aquila and Priscilla ready to welcome him. Paul, as the custom was with his fellow-countrymen, had a trade, and because he was of the same trade as Aquila and Priscilla he abode with them. The beloved Paul instructed these two, while they worked with their hands. Aquila and Priscilla afterwards proved a source of strength to the churches of God (Rom.16:3, 4, 1 Cor.16:19). When the Sabbath comes round we find Paul in the synagogue reasoning from the Scriptures. But being encouraged by the arrival of Silas and Timothy from Macedonia (compare Acts 28:14-18) he was constrained by the word, to speak further to the Jews. His message is refused, so he turns to the Gentiles, and secures trophies in the person of Crispus and his household, and also many of the Corinthians. So in the midst of this sinful, pleasure-seeking port, a church of God is planted, and there has been handed on to us two very valuable epistles for our instruction and learning, written to the saints there.
Paul, who declared to the Corinthians (1 Cor.2:3) ” I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling,” is strengthened by a vision, and the spoken word of the Lord. We can recall many of God’s servants who were strengthened and encouraged by God’s ” Fear not.”
After his false arraignment before Gallio, Paul leaves Corinth, and, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila, sailed to Ephesus. Paul evidently had taken a vow (compare Num.6.) and shaved his head in Cenchreae. Some writers suggest this refers to Aquila. The many journeys of the Apostle show him to have been truly a good shepherd of the flock.
We are now introduced to one who was to play a good part in the work of the Lord in Corinth, Apollos, an Alexandrian, a learned man and mighty in the Scriptures, but who knew only the baptism of John. Priscilla and Aquila bring him to their own home, and instruct him in the way of God more carefully. Truly a noble work! In fellowship with the brethren, Apollos helped the church of God at Corinth (1 Cor.3:6), and also powerfully confuted the Jews, shewing by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. (Compare Lk.24. 25-27, 1 Jn 4:2, 3, 1 Jn 5:4-6). B. WEST.

FROM EDINBURGH AND MUSSELBURGH.—In seeking to carry the gospel still further, the Apostle Paul is now found at Corinth. His own country-men hear Paul as he seeks to reason with them in the synagogue. We thought that this was the primary reason why the Apostle was found there. Of course, as he spoke to the Jews, he took opportunity to speak to all who were there.
As the Apostle ” testified to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ ” this caused the Jews to blaspheme, but despite the opposition, the work for God prospered. We notice that of Crispus it is said—” the ruler of the synagogue “; many were baptised too. What a blow this must have been to those Jews who sought to oppose the work! We wondered if it was because of the fierce opposition that God sent this word of encouragement to His faithful servant. [There seems little doubt that this was the cause of the Lord’s word to Paul.-—J.M.]
The Jews, foiled in one way to stop the work for God, now try another. They take Paul before the judgment-seat, and bring a charge against him. This also failed, because of the attitude of Gallio. Thwarted again in their intention, the Jews next take Sosthenes, and they beat him before Gallio. We found it difficult to explain their action here. Why should they take and beat one who would be a chief man among them? Was it possible that Sosthenes had also been reached and saved at this time? [The place Paul gives to Sosthenes in 1 Cor.1:1, with what the Jews do to him here, would indicate that he was already a subject of grace.—J.M.] Gallio was typical of so many other Roman governors.
The question was asked, ” Was it right of Paul to have his head shorn, and to take a vow in this way? ” [What Paul did in taking a vow has existed from ancient times, long before the days of Moses and the law. The shaving of the head was no doubt according to Jewish custom (see Acts 21:23 and 24), and such things, like the old Covenant itself, were destined to vanish away.—J.M.]
Paul on reaching Ephesus is again found in the synagogue, and again be reasons with the Jews.
We have a lovely example of humility in Apollos, a great man who was prepared to be taught by a man and his wife. He ” spake and taught diligently,” yet he was prepared to see further light, as the way of God is opened out to him. This is a good condition in which to be found. Priscilla and Aquila took their proper place when they took him to their own home. J. LANG, T. HOPE (Jun.).

FROM PAISLEY.—Having left Athens, Paul came to Corinth, where he met Aquila and his wife Priscilla, who had lately come from Italy. It is not without interest how these two found themselves in Corinth (verse 2): no chance-work, we suggest. (Compare Lk.2:1-7 and Matt.2:1-6). The synagogue would be the place where Paul got into touch with Aquila and Priscilla. Some suggested that they were converted before meeting Paul, whereas others held that Paul was at this time the means of their conversion. It suited Paul to reside with them, because they were of the same trade. In Rom.16:3,4, Priscilla and Aquila have first place in the long list of saluta¬tions, and well do they deserve such on the grounds of what they did for Paul. They arc again referred to in 1 Cor.16:19, and 2 Tim.4:19.

We suggest that Paul preached in the house of Titus Justus (verse 7) after he had left the synagogue. It was further suggested that Paul did not go back to the synagogue to preach. We take it that it was the Greeks (see AV, verse 17) who laid hold on Sosthenes. Was Sosthenes successor to Crispus, who had believed on the Lord with all his house (verse 8)?
[” The Greeks ” in the AV should be deleted according to the best textual critics. It seems reasonable to suppose that Sosthenes succeeded Crispus.—J.M.]
It was suggested that the statement, ” He went up and saluted the church,” refers to the church in Jerusalem, and that, probably, his vow (verse 18) necessitated Paul’s going there.
At Ephesus, Priscilla and Aquila, those two faithful and zealous ones, saw in Apollos a man of value, ” mighty in the Scriptures, fervent in spirit,” who taught carefully and spake boldly. But he was himself in need of further instruction and revelation. They, therefore, in their own quiet way, took this great man aside and very carefully expounded God’s way to him. Their labour in secret had a great and striking reward. Henceforth, in fellowship with the church, he went forth to a greater work than ever before, ” shewing by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.” S. S. J.


FROM BARROW-IN-FURNESS.—It seems to us a remarkable thing that when Paul came to Ephesus he should find disciples who had not heard of the descent of the Holy Spirit. It is the more remarkable when we consider that in this city there was, apparently, an assembly. Apollos had been preaching publicly, and with such hearty workers as Priscilla and Aquila it is almost unbelievable. Yet here they are. We judge there is the probability that those men were the fruit of the early work of Apollos. They manifested the disciple spirit, however, in that when they heard the truth from Paul they were immediately baptised into the name of the Lord Jesus.
In connection with verse 5 we notice that in the Acts the term used is—” Baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus,” or ” in the name of Jesus Christ.” We have in mind Matt.28:19, where the name of the Trinity is used. Why the difference? We are aware that some have taught that the Acts does away with Matt.28., but we do not for one moment entertain this thought. [Cornelius was commanded to be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ; that is, the command is uttered in this name. In Acts 8:16 the Samaritans were baptised into the name of the Lord Jesus, also here in Acts 19:5, we have the same words used. This is what took place in Israel’s case when they were all baptised unto Moses in the Red Sea. Israel was from that time definitely under new leadership. The same thing is taught in Rom.6:3,4. This does not do away with the Lord’s words in Matt.28. where all disciples are to be baptised into the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.—J.M.]
Paul’s teaching of the truths concerning the kingdom of God brought to light the evil heart of unbelief in his hearers. They were openly hostile, with the result that Paul does what seems to be a unique thing up to this period; he separated the disciples and leaving the synagogue, he reasoned in the school of Tyrannus. Hence we have a line of demarcation drawn between the Assembly (shall we say?) and the religions systems around. If we are right in this then we have a principle here for us to-day. These disciples must have been well grounded in the truth seeing that Paul was with them for two years.

It was truly a mighty work, for in the midst of demonism and witch¬craft, the power of God through the gospel prevailed, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.
The people of Ephesus had seen a greater power and their magical arts had lost their attraction; what things were gain to them before they counted loss for the excellency of Christ, even to the extent of fifty thousand pieces of silver.
The Apostle now contemplates leaving Ephesus, and this desire is hastened by the action of Demetrius in raising a tumult in the city, after which Paul took his leave and departed into Macedonia.
J. McC.

FROM LIVERPOOL AND BIRKENHEAD.—The question was asked. How came there disciples at Ephesus? Did they believe through Paul’s preaching when he passed on his way to Caesarea in Acts 18:19? [They could not have come under Paul’s instruction.—J.M.] Or was it the result of the teaching of Apollos? It would seem they believed the same as Apollos believed, also they were Jews, as it was the practice that by the “laying on of the hands ” they should receive the Holy Spirit. [But the Samaritans received the Spirit by the laying on of hands, and the Jews of Acts 2. received the Spirit without the laying on of hands.-—J.M.] Do we read of a Jew ever receiving the Holy Spirit before he was baptised with believers’ baptism? [When did Paul receive the Holy Spirit? Does not the question of Paul (Acts 19:2) show that he understood that all, whether Jews of Gentiles, received the Holy Spirit at that time when they believed, even as we do to-day?—J.M.]
The Apostle, as at Corinth so here at Ephesus, separated both himself and the disciples from the synagogue; surely an example to us. The mighty power of God is surely actuating the Apostle as he performed these miracles, that same power with which the blessed Son of God Himself was anointed at the Jordan (Acts 10:38).
These gifts of healing were only given to the apostles (see Acts 2:43). [Oh, no; see 1 Cor.12:29,30.] They were a witness that these men were sent from God. D. BANKS.

FROM LONDON, S.E.—The opening verses of the chapter show the essential recognition of true baptism. The baptism of repentance was not enough.
There is an important turn of events in church history in this portion. Paul commences his Ephesian labours, as at Corinth, by going to the Jews in the synagogue first. The sheer antagonism of the Jews drives Paul to the Gentiles. The Apostle’s tenacity in his work of preaching the Word is an object-lesson; we know well from subsequent epistles how his efforts were rewarded. The fact that Paul separated the disciples from those who were disobedient (verse 9) brings up an interesting question, it being contended that some Jewish believers failed to come out. When this separation was done by the Apostle, did any of those who failed to come out continue in the synagogue? [There is no indication that any of the disciples remained in the synagogue at this time, but it is well to remember that it was at Ephesus that the beginning of the great slide of the apostacy began, as notice the Apostle’s prophecy in Acts 20:29, 30.—J.M.]
It was pointed out concerning the miracles (verse 11) that this was God’s way of answering idolatry. The healing of the sick was a challenge to those who put their faith in dumb idols.
We noticed once more that the Apostles were very free in their entries into synagogues and elsewhere to preach the gospel: a means of approach which we do not use to-day. In this connection it is important to note that the theatre of verse 31 should not be taken literally! [The Greek word, in one sense of its use, is like the corresponding English term and signifies the place where dramatic performances were exhibited, and this, I take it, is the sense in which it is used here.—J.M.]
FROM ST. HELENS.—It is probable that Apollos remained in Corinth a considerable time. Paul, having passed through the upper country (the region of Phrygia and Galatia, which formed the high table-land in the interior of Asia Minor), came to Ephesus, according to his promise in Acts 18:21.
Here he found ” certain disciples.” Some thought that they were disciples of John and others thought them to be disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. We would like further light on this. [These twelve men were disciples who followed according to the light they had; they only knew the will of the Lord as far as John’s baptism—whether they had come under John’s ministry or had received what he taught through others no one can say, but they had been baptised into John’s baptism. They could not be described as disciples of the Lord Jesus till they had heard His word.—J.M.] With willing hearts they obeyed and were baptised into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them and they spake in tongues and prophesied.
Paul stayed for a space of three months persuading them concerning the kingdom of God (THE WAY). (Compare Acts 24:14-22). So here we learn that our God has more than the gospel for us to tell to our fellow-men. It is ours not only to tell them of the sinner’s Saviour, but to tell them of ” The Way “—the Will of God, things concerning the kingdom of God. It was strange teaching for the inhabitants of Ephesus this new way, for they were idol-worshippers, and it caused a great stir. We see the complaint of the silver-smiths is firstly against the loss of their business. Secondly their goddess is being forsaken. Verse 37: We suggest that a lesson is here taught us in the words of the town clerk, that Paul and his fellow-workers were ” neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of our goddess.” Let us use the word of God alone and thereby introduce light that the darkness may be dispelled. A. L., F. HURST.
FROM MIDDLESBROUGH.—Some difficulty was experienced when considering the first seven verses regarding the twelve disciples who had not received the Holy Spirit when they believed; they only know John’s baptism. Paul speaks to them and they are baptised into the name of the Lord Jesus. Why was the laying on of hands necessary to receive the Holy Spirit? [The circumstances were special and it is evident that special treatment was necessary. The case of the Samaritans is somewhat similar.’—J.M.]
Special miracles were wrought by Paul and certain men sought to do the same, which resulted in the evil spirits mastering them and wounding them. The name of the Lord Jesus was greatly magnified thereby, and believers were strengthened in their faith. The silver smiths, through loss of trade coupled with the disrepute brought on the goddess Diana, gather together and Demetrius tells of Paul’s work throughout all Asia. They set the city in an uproar and cried long and lustily—” Great is Diana of the Ephesians.” Confusion increases, but the town clerk quietens them, bringing before them how they may be accused for the day’s riot. E. H. BOWERS.

QUESTIONS FROM HAMILTON (ONT.).—(1) Why did the Greeks (Auth. Version and Newberry Version) beat Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue? Was Sosthenes one of the brethren at that time?
(1) ANSWER.—The Revised version is the better rendering which omits ” the Greeks.” No doubt Sosthenes had been reached by the grace of God, and this roused the ire of the Jewish community in Corinth.—J.M.
(2) We would appreciate further light on the action of the Apostle in taking the vow—in view of his teachings.
(2) ANSWER.—-See remarks elsewhere in this issue. Vowing is not a matter connected with the ceremonial law merely. There is nothing against vowing to-day, but vows should be held sacred, else we should play the part of a fool to vow and never fulfil. ” When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou vowest ” (Eccles.5:4). —J.M.
(1) Reading Y.M.C. for July, and with reference to the “Explanation” from Cardiff on page 111, I do not think the words of the Apostle, “As unto one born out of due time,” in 1 Cor.15:8, have anything to do with his being born again at all. It was not necessary that he should see the Lord for his conversion, but I judge it was necessary that he should see and hear the Lord as to his apostleship. (See 1 Cor.9:1, Acts 22:14). In 1 Cor.15. he tells of the Lord appearing to the other Apostles and others as proof of His resurrection, and concludes with himself, using the above figure of speech.
I do not understand how Cardiff, in May notes, says ” He was not saved by faith as we are, etc.” See Rom.5:1 where he says, ” Being therefore justified by faith,” etc., thus including himself.
Re Fasting: I quite agree it is not enjoined in this dispensation, but, I think, the Lord’s separated people, especially, should not go to the other extreme; a fast now and again would do good physically as well as spiritually.
A. G. SMITH (Kilmarnock).
(2) Referring to ” Explanation” on page 111, in July Young Men’s Corner, re 1 Cor.15:8, “as unto one born out of due time,” this passage centres on the word “as,” which in the original is the word Hosperei, meanings “as if it were.” If we read the passage with these four words, we have the real meaning of what Paul had in mind, which would read—” as if it were unto one born out of due time.” Paul is using a figure of speech.
We have Paul using somewhat similar language in 2 Cor.6:9-10, and 2 Cor.12:11, where he refers to himself in the words “though I am nothing.” Paul is writing of himself in humility, as he often does, “as if he were an abortive, and as though he were nothing.”
GEO MILLAR, JUN. (Greenock).
Paisley contribution, August number, page 121, should read (Acts, chapters 8. and 9.).


FROM DERBY.—Paul spake boldly in the public place, but when he found some speaking evil of ” the way ” before the people, he separated the disciples. It is a mistake to speak of God’s things to those who are hardened and disobedient and who speak evil of them.
The Lord Jesus in Matt.7:6, said, ” Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your pearls before the swine, lest haply they trample them under their feet and turn and rend you.” We suggest that if Paul had continued speaking ” things concerning the kingdom of God ” to that rebellious crowd, the disciples at Ephesus might have been stumbled because of the dissensions that would have necessarily resulted. It is a good plan never to argue about the word of God, for it is above all argument. For two years, then, those who were genuinely exercised about, and interested in, the things of God were taught by Paul. He made a wise move when he left the synagogue, for in the school of Tyrannus he was able to speak to both Jews and Greeks (verse 10) which might not have been possible in the synagogue. We would link verse 12 with Acts 5:15, where Peter is likewise invested with special powers of healing. These men must have been in close touch with God, and have enjoyed sweet communion with Him, for Him to take them up and use them in this wonderful manner. So if we in our sphere are found near to our Lord and enjoying communion with Him, then He can take us up and use us, though not, may be, in so outstanding a way as those two men.
In connection with verse 13 we are reminded that the Lord Jesus gave unto His disciples power to cast out demons (Mk.16:17) for signs to those who believed not. How was it that those men could do these things if they were not of Christ, since ” How can Satan cast out Satan? ” (Mk.3:23). It is evident that what the seven sons of Sceva attempted to do, was done by many of the Jews at that time, as Matt.12:27; Mk.9:38; and Lk.11:19 suggest. [Demons were never cast out by the power or name of Beelzebub, but in the name of the Lord Jesus. Presumably the man of Mk.9:38 was a believer in, but not a follower of, Christ. Lk.9:49 says, ” He followeth not with us.” In Acts 19:13 because of the damage that would have ensued to the work the strolling Jews were not allowed to use the power of the Lord’s name, hence the demons recognised no authority as vested in those would-be miracle workers, and stripped the hypocrites naked and they fled naked and wounded from the house.—J.M.]

Now, with reference to Mk.9:38 one would think, then, that that man who was casting out demons in the name of the Lord, was a believer, and there were many believers who did not follow, yet still believed. How quick the Adversary is to detect counterfeit as he was with the sons of Sceva! He knew that they were not invested with the power of that Name before which the demons believing trembled.
It is good to see that those who believed came along confessing their deeds, yet not only did they do that, but they showed that it was not a mere lip-confession, but a life-conversion, for they forsook their evil practices and burnt their books of curious arts ” in the sight of all.” They obeyed the words of Jer.4, 4, i.e., they made a clean cut between themselves and the world. See also Prov.28:13.
WM. W.


—The Apostle of the Gentiles now leaves Ephesus and its uproar behind him, and pursues a north-westerly direction—Macedonia being his present goal. To the churches in this district he gives much exhortation, continues his journey south-east again to Greece, and he purposes to sail from its main port to Syria. A plot interferes with this arrangement, and he returns northward, having Luke with him as fellow-labourer. The persons enumerated in verse 4, instead of accompanying the Apostle by land northward, went by sea to Troas, awaiting his arrival there; evidently they were unaffected by the plot. Paul arrives at Philippi, from here sailing to Troas and rejoining his companions. He stays at Troas for seven days, meeting with those at Troas on the first day of the week, to break bread. At a convenient time they met, probably about our tea-time, to break the bread, and Paul discoursed with them until midnight in an upper chamber on the third story. During the discourse a young man, occupying a precarious position in one of the windows (for there appear to be many in the chamber, Luke mentioning ” many lights “) falls out, and at the bottom is taken up, dead. [Lights here do not mean windows, but lamps or torches.—J.M.]. This brings the discourse to an end; Paul descends, embraces the lad, and he is restored. This seems to provide us with a break in the meeting, and after this the proceedings are characterised by a formality (” Paul had broken the bread, eaten, and talked with them a long while . . . break of day ” . . .) which is absent from that scene presented prior to the accident. [I should say that the proceedings after the restoration of the lad are more informal than formal.—J.M.]. Evidently verse 7 describes an act complete and is not to be associated with verse 11— that is something of an informal character connected with his departure on the morrow. All Paul’s companions evidently sailed from Troas ahead of Paul, who journeyed to Assos by land, joined the ship, and sailed with them through the channel to Mitylene, from there through the channel between Chios and the mainland, touching at Samos, and on to Miletus. Desiring to be at Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost, he stayed at Miletus long enough for the elders to journey from Ephesus to this place (some twenty odd miles) and he addressed them for the last time on arrival. Was the Apostle justified in journeying to Jerusalem? (see Acts 21:4.11). In querying this we do not desire to detract from his devotion or from the personal communion between the Apostle and his Lord, but we venture to suggest that in the face of these evidences of the mind of the Spirit, he was purely ” bound in his own spirit ” (Acts 20:22). His action probably caused him to do something of a questionable character (Acts 21:26), but it gave him opportunity to witness for the Lord, and for this he was commended of the Lord (Acts 23:11). We can always rely on the Scriptures giving us an impartial record, and in the light of this, we think, to say the Apostle was in the mind of the Spirit in pursuing the pathway he did, is contrary to the clear statement of Scripture. This view, probably applies to his conduct before Ananias (Acts 23:3). If what we suggest is true, it does not undermine in anyway our estimation of the Apostle, but, rather, encourages the heart to grasp afresh the promises of God, in spite of failure. We should like help on this point.
[The probable meaning of “bound in the spirit” is that the Holy Spirit had bound the Apostle’s spirit to go in a certain course— to Jerusalem. If his spirit was bound someone must have bound it. It shows divine leading in the case of the Apostle. He who was thus bound in spirit and impelled towards Jerusalem by the Spirit, in the face of the same Holy Spirit’s testimony through the disciples of Tyre, and Agabus and so forth, was afterwards bound hands and feet, as Agabus indicated, and handed over to the Gentiles. Paul was not in opposition to the Lord’s will in going to Jerusalem, but in truest keeping therewith.—J.M.].

—Verses 7 to 12 provided us with material for profitable discussion.
We see the disciples gathered together on the first day of the week ” to break bread.”
From the order of events it is clear that Paul discoursed with them till midnight, after which Eutychus, having fallen from the window, was raised to life again by Paul. After this, Paul went up and broke bread. By this time it would be after midnight and into the second day of the week.
It was thought at first by a few that this gathering to break bread merely implied the taking of their daily food.
Some again thought that this was quite a right and proper time to keep the Feast of Remembrance, as the Passover was kept ” between the two evenings,” and it was after supper that ” Jesus took a loaf,” etc. (Lk.22:19-21), while again it was pointed out that no special time was set apart, but ” as often as ye eat this bread ” (1 Cor.11:26). [The voice of Scripture would show that the Breaking of the Bread should be at the earliest time possible and suitable for the whole church on the first day of the week. While no hour is stated as to when on that day the Remembrance should be kept, yet Acts 20. clearly marks the day of its observance. The time that the Lord instituted the Remembrance, and the day on which He instituted it, give no guidance to us, for He did not take the Loaf on a Lord’s day; that is quite clear. “As often as ye eat this bread,” has no bearing on how frequently the Remembrance should be kept, but shows what takes place as often as we eat—we show the Lord’s death till He come.—J.M.].
When they had left Troas and come to Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. In his address to them, reminding them of how he had taught them publicly and privately (from house to house), showing how he must go up to Jerusalem, and declaring himself ” free from the blood of all men,” he forewarned them of the apostacy which was about to set in among them and commended them to God and to the word of His grace.
Having thus spoken and prayed with them, he departed.

FROM HAMILTON, ONTARIO.—In this chapter we are reminded of the words of 1 Jn 4:7, ” Beloved, let us love one another,” in that Acts 20 opens with Paul showing his love towards his brethren, and closes with the brethren showing their love towards Paul. In Acts 20: 7 the disciples gathered together to break Bread, after which Paul discoursed with them, and while he was yet speaking, Eutychus fell from the window, and was taken up dead, but Paul, by the power of God, was able to say, ” Make ye no ado; for his life is in him,” and they brought the lad alive. In verse 19 we find Paul reminding his brethren of his service for the Lord, which he did with all humility of mind. ” He that humbleth himself shall be exalted ” (Matt.18:4). In Acts 20:17-31 we have brought before us the responsibility of overseers in the churches in that they are to take heed unto them¬selves, for their responsibility is to feed the saints, with spiritual food from the Word of God, which is sincere milk for the younger saints, and strong meat for the aged. Overseers need the prayers of the saints continually, that they might be kept in a good spiritual condition, so that they might be able to stand should grievous wolves enter in among us. Paul was instant in season and out of season; he taught publicly and privately; surely there is a lesson here for all of us, not only to testify when with our brethren, but at all times to let our light shine, seeking to win souls for Christ. In verse 31, Paul could say, ” By the space of three years, I ceased not to admonish everyone night and day with tears.” In Acts 20:35 he exhorts the overseers to support the weak, and also reminds them of the words of the Lord Jesus when He said, ” It is more blessed to give than to receive.” The Lord’s whole life testified to this truth. In the closing verses we read that Paul kneeled down and prayed with them all, they all wept sore and fell on Paul’s neck and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more in this life.
W. T., R. D.

FROM EDINBURGH AND MUSSELBURGH.—In looking into this chapter, we found much that was helpful in guiding us in the things of God. This plot which was laid against the Apostle caused him to be at Troas, and also brought him to speak with the elders of the assembly at Ephesus; otherwise it would seem that he would not have been at those places.
The question was asked, ” Is Acts 20:11, the keeping of the Feast of Remembrance, seeing that there is no mention of the bread being broken in Acts 20:7? ” [No, verse 11 is not the Remembrance, but the ordinary meal of which the Apostle partook, and others probably as well. Note verse 7, ” We were gathered together to break bread.” Verse 11, ” When he was gone up, and had broken the bread.” Verse 12, ” They brought the lad alive.” Please carefully observe verse 13, ” But we, going before to the ship “; when did Luke and the rest leave the upper chamber for the boat? They went before, how long before? I should think they were en-route for Assos by the time of Paul’s breaking of the bread in verse 11.—J.M.]. The Apostle did not only speak, but in the incident concerning Eutychus, we see the power of the Apostle.
It was thought that the reason why the Apostle was hurrying to Jerusalem was, that he was carrying the bounty from the churches in Macedonia; this he might have been anxious to have in Jerusalem for the day of Pentecost.
Paul’s words to the elders of Ephesus are very instructive; they also throw a light on the work which had been done there. It was work done amidst much opposition, and also under much hardship, for it is evident that the Jews had always sought to work against the Apostle. The question was raised, ” Would this teaching from house to house be done in the houses of the saints, or would this include the preaching of the Gospel, the work with which the Apostle would commence? ” [” From house to house ” is the opposite of publicly; it signifies private instruction at the visit of the Apostle to the houses of the saints.—J.M.]
These are wonderful words which came from the Apostle: ” I hold not my life of any account, as dear unto myself, so that I may accomplish my course, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus.” Even though he knew that ” bonds and afflictions ” were lying before him, yet the Apostle had fully made up his mind to go up to Jerusalem. What a spirit to have! Paul was one who was faithful both to God and to men; this is seen in his anxiety that this company in Ephesus should be fed and cared for. It was this that caused him to send for those elders, and to lay such a charge upon them. The Apostle had been faithful among them, for he could use such words before them, ” I am free from the blood of all men,” and again he could say, ” I shrank not from declaring unto you the whole counsel of God.” How he must have laboured in their midst!
Great foresight the Apostle must have had, as he could already see the trouble which was coming, and his words must have spoken to all who were present: ” Your own selves.” He reminds them of the example which he had set them, ” night and day with tears.” How earnest is the Apostle, as he seeks to warn them! and then he leaves them the great secret of it all, ” I commend you to God . . .” Surely such things but go to show the greatness of this servant of God. In all his work among them the Apostle could say, ” These hands ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.” What an example, not only to them, but to all who to-day would seek to be in the service of God!
It was a moving scene as the Apostle took his departure; many tears were shed, for his presence was both inspiring and profitable.
The Apostle’s words were true, for from the letters to Timothy we see that this assembly had become so much leavened with evil teaching, that Timothy and those who are with him are told to out- purge themselves from it.

—This chapter records Paul’s second visit to Macedonia and Achaia. While in Ephesus he purposed in the Spirit, when he had passed through those parts, to go to Jerusalem, saying, ” After I have been there, I must also see Rome ” (Acts 19:21). In 1 Cor.16:1-9 (written from Ephesus) Paul speaks of coming to them via Macedonia, and makes reference to his going to Jerusalem. The bounty referred to for the saints at Jerusalem, as recorded in 1 Cor.16., was one of the reasons why Paul visited those parts. He wrote to the Romans (written from Corinth) of his going to Spain (Rom.15:22-29), and purposed seeing them on his journey, making reference again to his going to Jerusalem with a gift for the saints there not only from the saints in Achaia, but also from the saints in Macedonia. Being hindered from going directly to Syria from Achaia, he had to retrace his steps through Macedonia.
It was a wonderful group of mighty men who assembled with -the saints in Troas, that Lordly morning, to break bread. It was suggested that the words of verse 7 involve that the feast was kept, immediately the church had assembled together, and that Paul’s discourse was subsequent to the feast. Acts 20:11 we suggest refers to a meal. Acts 2:42,46 were read to distinguish between the ” breaking of the bread ” and ordinary meals; the former scripture referring to the Feast of Remembrance, and the latter one to daily meals.
Paul in his address to the Ephesian elders recounts graphically his labour there, for he spake of three years. He reminds them of how he served the Lord ” with all lowliness of mind, and with tears ” (verse 19). Again, he ceased not to admonish every one night and day with tears ” (verse 31). Three important statements were brought to our notice: (1) he testified ” the gospel of the grace of God ” (verse 24); (2) he preached ” the kingdom ” (verse 25); and (3) he declared ” the whole counsel of God ” (verse 27). We believe these things to be in a progressive order. The ” kingdom of God ” is taught to disciples, after the reception of the gospel, and although we cannot say all that is contained in the ” whole counsel of God,” yet, we know it involves more than the former statements. It must have saddened Paul’s heart to contemplate that time, when men would arise, from among the elders, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them ” (verse 30), wherefore, he exhorts them to ” watch,” and finally, commends them ” to God and to the word of His grace “; the only remedy to avert a falling away (verses 31, 32). A fulfilment of Paul’s words is found in 2 Tim.1:15. In reference to his going to Jerusalem, ” bound in the spirit ” (verse 22), we were reminded of how the Lord Jesus ” stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem ” (Lk.9:51) knowing full well the things that would befall Him there. Paul worthily served his Master, and he could say, ” Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ ” (1 Cor.11:1).
S. S. J.

—When the Apostle Paul returns to Judaea from his third great missionary journey, he has been through Asia Minor at least twice, and three times through Macedonia and Greece. It is about twenty years since his conversion, and most of this time had been spent with the churches in these districts. He considers his commission to these places completed, and now purposes going to Rome and Spain (Rom.15:18-29).
He was first going up to Jerusalem with the contributions of those of Macedonia and Achaia for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. Probably those enumerated in verse 4, who accompanied Paul, were the bearers of the bounty from their particular churches. Luke joins Paul again in Greece, and from now continues with him until Paul writes when near the end of his course, ” only Luke is with me ” (2 Tim.4:11).
At Troas the company stays seven days, perhaps for the oppor¬tunity of breaking bread there. This took place [probably] in the evening of the first day of the week. Probably time was reckoned according to the Jewish system, the first day of the week commencing at 6 o’clock in the evening following the sabbath day. So that we break bread at relatively the same time of the week.
The question was raised, Was Eutychus really dead, or only apparently so? There does not seem much point in recording this incident unless this was a great miracle by Paul. [It says that Eutychus ” was taken up dead,” not as dead, but dead. Paul acted similarly to Elijah with the widow’s son; then he said ” His life is in him.” From the plain reading of the passage it seems that Eutychus was killed by the fall and Paul restored him to life.—J.M.]

It shews the great faith and power of the Apostle, and would lend weight to his discourse, showing he was able to put into practice, in a remarkable way, the faith which he preached.
This journey to Jerusalem is given in great detail, for it was Paul’s farewell journey from the scene of so much of his labour. The seven weeks from Philippi to Jerusalem can be traced almost day by day.
In Paul’s address to the Ephesian elders we may learn how he worked—teaching publicly and privately; testifying to all men; ardent and earnest, not considering tears unmanly, not even counting his life dear, to accomplish his course and ministry; teaching repentance and faith; preaching the kingdom, and declaring the whole counsel of God; yet working for his own living and also supporting those who were with him. In all, he led an exemplary life, which no doubt spoke louder than his words.
His labours had been greatly blessed and a large assembly had grown up in Ephesus; but the Apostle sees that evil will spring up from within the church and evil men shall enter from without. That he was right is seen in certain men teaching a different doctrine (1 Tim.1:3), and the false apostles of Rev.2:2. He says he knows that they will see his face no more, but from 1 Tim.1:3 it appears that perhaps he did visit Ephesus again after this.
H. J. M.

FROM BARROW-IN-FURNESS.—After the dismissal of the assembly at Ephesus, Paul took leave of the brethren, and departed into Mace¬donia. At this point the writer passes very quickly over the history of the Apostle’s movements, and beyond mentioning the fact that he gave them much exhortation, we are told nothing of his work in these parts. We take it, however, that his time would be well occupied in building up the churches which he had previously planted in those parts, as well as in the proclamation of the gospel. The old enmity of the Jews had not abated with the lapse of time, for again a plot is laid against him by his fellow-countrymen in Greece. He returned through Macedonia, accompanied by certain brethren who were associated with the various assemblies he had visited. And so they came to Troas.
We judge, from the reading of Acts 20:7 that the Assembly in Troas had met with the definite object in view of breaking bread; that is, they were there to keep the Feast of Remembrance. And we are inclined to think that this must have been a regular assembling of the church on this day. Much has been said with regard to ministry at such a time, and this scripture is often quoted in connection therewith. Some, however, think that whatever scriptural authority there may be in other places for such ministry, the principle could not be upheld by Acts 20:7, since the time was one of unusual urgency to Paul, who intended to depart on the morrow, and this opportunity was taken of giving his farewell address to the Church. Further, it would seem that the meeting was of unusual duration, and may have occupied a period of not less than four hours (it was possibly more) and we may be assured, too, that God had received his portion, and worship was entirely finished. We cannot imagine Paul encroaching on time that should rightly be taken up with giving to God, in order to address the believers. [But compare Prov.11:1.—A.T.D.]. [Prov.11:1 is a fitting reminder of the ways of God and a corrective against becoming lob-sided in the things of God. We may be quite certain that if ministry is not permissible, according to the Lord’s will, at the meeting for the breaking of the bread, Paul would never have indulged in such a practice which would of necessity be regarded as a precedent for others to follow suit, and his act would be viewed as part of the doctrine of the Lord for His people. By no process of reasoning can a case be made out that this discoursing took place at another time than ” When we were gathered together to break bread,” but it should be carefully noted the “we” and the “them” of verse 7. Luke includes himself with others in the first statement, but he evidently is not present when ” Paul discoursed with them.” Verse 13 says “But we, going before to the ship . . .” It might be that owing to the sailing of the ship Luke and his friends had to leave the upper chamber, but in any case, the ” them” signifies the saints in the church in Troas, who with the Apostle and the other mighty men mentioned by name had broken bread in remembrance of the Lord, for which purpose they had been gathered together. These facts, vital as they are to us, are incidental in the recounting of the miracle performed by Paul in the restoration to life of Eutychus. It should, of course, be emphasised, in keeping with the Proverbs scripture, that the Lord’s portion from His saints should not be withheld by an undue prominence given to ministry. The principle laid down by the Lord—” These ye ought to have done, and not to have left the other undone “—is worthy of quoting here.—J.M.]. Be this as it may, a great miracle was wrought that night in the restoration of Eutychus. It might be said in passing that the breaking of the bread in verse 11 does not (to us), refer to the feast, but is in reference to an ordinary meal.
And now we have recorded Paul’s address to the overseers of Ephesus. Simplicity marked this address, as he showed how he himself had been an example to them in all things. What a mighty worker he had been!—” Serving the Lord with all lowliness of mind, and with tears, and with trials.” Not only publicly did he testify, but from house to house. How much of this is done to-day? Although he laboured thus, admonishing every one, night and day, yet he found time to labour with his hands to provide for his own necessities, and for them that were with him. But now he must leave them: ” Ye all . . . shall see my face no more.” In the light of such a statement, their responsibility was evident: ” Take heed to yourselves, and to all the flock.” There is danger ahead, ” Grievous wolves shall enter in among you . . . and from among your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.” Young men! should we not take these words to ourselves? ” Take heed to your¬ selves ” —this is our first responsibility; then we are to remember that we are each one our brother’s keeper. If we are not right our¬ selves, how can we exercise any care for the flock? Days of trial and difficulty may be ahead. Those whom we love in the truth, who have fought the good fight, are leaving us one by one. Therefore take heed to yourselves and quit you like men. When he had finished speaking, Paul kneeled down and prayed with them all. Shall we not follow his example?
J. McC.

—Special mention is made of Troas where we see the disciples gathered together to remember the Lord in the breaking of bread. We were not quite clear as to the meaning of verse 11 regarding the breaking of bread; please give help. [Breaking bread was a term which signified both the partaking of food (see Acts 2:46, ” breaking bread at home, they did take their food “) and the Memorial of the Lord (” they continued stedfastly … in the breaking of bread ” Acts 2:42). In Acts 20:7 they came together to break bread; this is the Memorial; but when Paul went up and had broken the bread (verse 11) this signifies the partaking of food. Luke was present with others to break bread in verse 7, but he and they had gone to the ship ere Paul broke the bread in verse 11. Luke and the rest must have been a company of very dissatisfied men if Paul had by his ministry shut out the breaking of the bread and they were compelled to leave for the ship ere the bread was broken. This cannot possibly be the interpretation of the passage.—J.M.].
Paul sends to Ephesus from Miletus for the elders of the church to come to him, and we notice particularly in his exhortation (verses 24 to 27, which compare with Matt.28:19, 20):—
(1) The Gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24).
Go ye therefore . . . and make disciples (Matt.28:19).
(2) Preaching the kingdom (Acts). Baptizing them (Matthew).
(3) The whole counsel of God (Acts). Teaching … all things (Matthew).
There is also a further point in Acts 20:28—feeding the church. Paul tells them of grievous times ahead, warning them of enemies from within and also of those entering in, and when this should come to pass his words in verse 32 would be their help. Paul remarks how he laboured—both with his hands and spiritually—and then he knelt and prayed. How great was their sorrow on his departure because he had said they should see his face no more!
FROM ATHERTON AND LEIGH.—Paul’s principal work on this third journey seems to have been the strengthening of the churches; his work having been more of a pastoral than evangelical character. We also noticed the apparently long period of time the Apostle laboured in the various places.
Verse 6: Luke seems to have joined Paul in his travels, and no doubt Paul had need of him, for he was evidently still physically weak. Moreover, it was a time of affliction (2 Cor.7:5-7). Paul was in Greece, and it was quite possible he would visit Corinth, although we have nothing definite to say that he actually did call there.
He is found with the assembly in Troas, and we get the apostolic practice of keeping the Feast of the Remembrance, on the first day of the week. It would seem that this was done in the Jewish mode of reckon¬ing time, ” from evening to evening,” therefore we suggest it would be observed as early as possible. [How do our friends arrive at the fact that time in Troas, with reference to the gathering of the Assembly, was Jewish time?—J.M.]. We also remember that the Lord kept the Passover Feast with His disciples, he did so as early as possible—after which he instituted the ” Feast of Remembrance.” Would it follow from what we get here that it was customary to spend the whole night in the ” keeping of the feast” and ministry, and prayer? In other words, was the time of coming together on the first day of the week, used to the full, in the principle of Acts 2.; as probably the disciples would have difficulty in getting together more than once a week? We would value help as to the duration of this meeting. [The Apostle’s departure on the morrow had a definite bearing on the length to which he prolonged his discourse, which came to an abrupt termination with the fall of Eutychus. The duration of the meeting for the breaking of the bread is nowhere indicated; there being no divinely-given legislation we must make no dogma as to time of our being together. It is a matter for arrangement according to the requirement of the Lord and the circumstances of His people.—-J.M.]. In verse 11 we have the taking of a meal by the Apostle. Paul’s aim was to get to Jerusalem as quickly as possible. He would see the Ephesian elders once again ere he left those parts, and sends for them from Miletus. What cheering words were spoken to these men! He delivered the whole counsel of God and kept back nothing that would be of benefit to them.
Verse 22: Are we to understand he was oppressed in his own spirit because of the uncertainty of what will befall him at Jerusalem? [See note in Cardiff’s paper.—J.M.], because the Holy Spirit makes it plain what awaits him, ” bonds and afflictions.” In verse 28 we get the memorable words to the overseers:—(1) To take heed to yourselves. (2) And to all the flock (not flocks) over which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers. (3) To feed the Church of God. (See 1 Pet.5:1-3). We thought of David in his shepherd care for Israel: ” He fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.” He had both the heart and the ability for the work.
In verse 29 we get the words ” after my departing.” This departing does not mean his death, for we have the declension materialised in his letters to Timothy (1 Tim.1:19-20; 2 Tim.1:15; 2 Tim.2:15-19). Were these men among those whom Paul addressed in Acts 20? [We cannot say.]. If this is so, it points out the rapid growth of evil. The exhortations ” therefore watch,” and remember,” are surely two beacon lights for us.
Verse 36: The apostolic example of kneeling in prayer reminded us of the divine example in the garden.
J. B., W. C.

—The Apostle was now nearing the end of his three years’ work at Ephesus, and, as is usual when any great work for God is wrought, the Adversary is seen to be working in stirring up persecution. Paul had sent Timothy and Erastus on to Macedonia, and the time is now opportune for him to do what he had purposed in the spirit, to visit Macedonia and Achaia, then on to Jerusalem, and afterwards to Rome. We see from Rom.15:26 that one of the purposes of this journey was to carry the contribution which the churches of Macedonia and Achaia had made for the poor in Jerusalem, and incidentally it is noticed that it was while Paul was at Corinth he wrote the epistle to the Romans.
His journey back to Jerusalem is marked by two outstanding incidents, at Troas and Miletus.
At Troas, we get the account of the disciples meeting together on the first day of the week to break bread.
The amount of instruction concerning the holding of this impor¬tant’ ordinance is comparatively small, when it is remembered with what minute detail and precision the ordinances of divine service under the Old Covenant are recorded, and the Lord’s will concerning it has to be gleaned from several portions of scripture. To discipled ones, the Lord’s own expressed desire on the night of his betrayal—” This do in remembrance of Me ” (Lk.22:19)—is the starting point. Then at Pentecost we read that one of the things the disciples continued in, was the breaking of bread (Acts 2:42). Here at Troas we learn when they did this, and in 1 Cor.11. we see how saints are to behave when keeping this Remembrance. The first day of the week is again mentioned in 1 Cor.16:2, as the day on which each one should lay by in store as he may prosper, and, that this day became known as the Lord’s day [or Lordly] is evident from Rev.1:10, being the day of the Lord’s triumph, when He rose from the dead. All this is not only suggestive, but conclusive, that the Spirit teaches the weekly remembrance of the Lord Jesus in the loaf and the cup, and this, on the first day of the week ” until He come.”
As to the hour when the Remembrance was held by the church at Troas, we find it impossible to decide. If Luke has in mind the Jewish day, then it was held on what is our Saturday evening, but if it is the day as we know it, then it would appear from verse 8—” And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where we were gathered together “—the Remembrance was held on the evening of the Lord’s day.
From verse 11 it is seen that the bread was broken after the first part of the Apostle’s discourse, at about midnight, but exception was taken to this on the ground that the expression ” broken the bread and eaten” is never used in connection with the Remembrance, but describes an ordinary meal. Perhaps we may have help on these two difficult points. [See notes in papers from Barrow and Middlesbrough.]
—No detailed account is given of Paul’s pro¬ceedings during this visit to Macedonia, nor of his companions in travel. Luke apparently did not rejoin him till he journeyed to Asia (verses 4 and 5).
” Upon the first day of the week when we were gathered together to break bread …” We here have authority for the weekly custom of gathering together to keep His word—•” Remember Me.”
It was not expedient for Paul to call at Ephesus, since he was hastening to Jerusalem, so upon arrival at Miletus he summoned the overseers of Ephesus and an important meeting was held, during which Paul brought to their remembrance his previous stay with them, his manner of living and service, and gave exhortation and warning.
F. W. J.

—It would seem from verse 3 that the Jews were lying in wait to rob the Apostle of the collections which he carried with him for the poor saints at Jerusalem, rather than to take his life because of his zeal and diligence in the gospel. [Bad as is the Jewish record I hardly think that they proposed to adopt the role of the high¬way robber.—J.M.].
The word ” us ” in verse 5 shows that Luke had again joined Paul as his companion. In Acts 16:12 it appears that Luke was in Philippi in the house of Lydia. Why he remained there or why he did not attend Paul in his journey to Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, etc., is not known. It is evident, however, that he here joined him again.
The fall of the young man from the window would seem to some as a warning to all to take heed lest we fall asleep when hearing the Word preached.
We see the faithfulness of the Apostle in that he counted not his life dear unto himself as he declared the whole counsel of God. He looks upon life as a race (Heb.12:1). This intimates that we have our labours appointed us, for we were not saved to be idle, but saved to serve. Finally the Apostle shows the elders the power of God and His Word to which he commends them. As we see how the Apostle resorts to prayer we are reminded of the Lord’s words in Lk.18:1: “” Men ought always to pray and not to faint ” (Heb.4:15-16).
T. C.

ACTS 21:1-40.

FROM CROSSFORD.—Looking back to chapter 20:22 we conclude that whatever awaited the Apostle at Jerusalem, his journey thither at this time accorded with the will and purpose of God. Yet in Acts 21:4 some said through the Spirit that he should not set foot in Jerusalem. Possibly this latter explains the ” many days ” stay in Caesarea, though he had hastened past Ephesus. God had a set time for his arrival in Jerusalem.
Paul’s work in the wide regions from Jerusalem to Illyricum, so far as his presence was concerned, was well nigh completed, and the task of shepherding the precious sheep must be handed to others.
With what loving entreaties, earnest exhortations, and solemn warnings he left the saints in the various places we may gather some faint idea of from his marked concern at Miletus and Tyre. With unabated zeal he had laboured night and day, and many hearts had been won. He spoke of some as being ” his joy and crown.” Some would have ” plucked out their eyes ” for him (Gal.4:15). Others ” laid down their own necks ” for his life, and these were all to see his face no more. Knowing, as he did beforehand, of the grievous wolves, etc., which would enter in after his departure, who could possibly share his burden? Who of us to-day can understand the weight he carried?
With the precious gift from Macedonia and Achaia for the poor in Jerusalem, Paul and his companions left behind the shores of the province of Asia, and arrived at length in Tyre, thence to Ptolemais, and on to Caesarea where the definite tidings were brought of what awaited Paul at Jerusalem, even though he and others with him had striven in prayer to God concerning this very thing (Rom.15:30-31). Not only was Paul anxious about the attitude of the disobedient, but he also had doubts as to his ministration to the saints in Jerusalem being accepted.
Little wonder that his beloved companions joined the saints in beseeching him not to go up to Jerusalem. Their deep concern and grief so greatly affected Paul that he pleaded with them not to increase his sorrow, and left an example for all time of true devotion in his readiness to be bound and to die—” for the Name.”
Matters in the assembly at Jerusalem were not bright at the time of Paul’s arrival there. James alone (probably the Lord’s brother) is mentioned of the Apostles, and all the elders were present to receive the Apostle and his friends. Though not mentioned here, the bounty from the Gentile churches was most opportune, whilst Paul rehearsed one by one the things which God had wrought by his ministry.
The elders were rightly concerned about the many thousands of Jews which were in the church at Jerusalem, who were zealous for the law, and who had heard things with regard to Paul. We fear that in many cases, believers there, to avoid persecution, still resorted to circumcision, and many customs of the past. Grace is needed to shed our old leaves, and to display fresh, new growth.
We cannot place ourselves in Paul’s circumstances, nor shall we criticise his agreeing to be at charges for the four men, who, some suppose, were too poor to provide the necessary offerings. We do not know. In becoming all things to all men, it was within his province to observe some things which were not mere tradition, but in strict accord with the law of Moses. We rather read this action in the light of the Master’s words:—” The sons are free—but lest we cause them to stumble, Go! ” In his big-hearted endeavour to save the many believers from confusion, and wrong thoughts of him, Paul was found in the temple, and was violently apprehended by his enemies from Asia, who, no doubt, had come up to Jerusalem for Pentecost.
Oftimes had they listened and watched with envy, and hatred, as he heralded the glad tidings powerfully, and with marked success amongst Jews and Gentiles. Had God permitted it they would have slain him at once, but there was noble service yet to be done, and we witness here the beginning of his longest period of bonds (so far as we know) as the heavy chains are attached to his body; chains which no doubt played their part as he earnestly raised his hands betimes testifying before rulers and kings, or in his long trials reminded saints— Remember my chains. Indeed we do remember them, and we bless God for what His grace can accomplish in a vessel of such weakness.
H. B.

FROM BARROW-IN-FURNESS.—When Paul arrived at Tyre on his journey to Jerusalem, his first anxiety was to search out the disciples. Like those of whom we read in the earlier chapters of the Acts, ” he went to his own company.” Is it not a fact that this is the last thing believers do to-day? On arrival at a strange town we little think of those who are gathered into the Name, we are more often on pleasure bent. Why? It is very evident that the Church in Tyre appreciated Paul’s visit to them, for when he departed, ” 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.” What a sight that must have been! What an effect would be produced upon the bystanders (if there were any)!
The Apostle’s stay in Tyre was used by the Spirit to warn him that he should not set foot in Jerusalem. This warning is again given by Agabus while he was at Caesarea, but he would not be detained in his purposed visit. What is the mind of others on this point? Was the Apostle acting wrongly in not listening to the voice of the Spirit, and going to Jerusalem? Subsequent events would almost suggest he was. Or was it that he did not interpret the message in this way? He may have taken it just as a forewarning of what was to happen, and not that he should forbear entering the city. [Verse 4 cannot mean that the Spirit forbade Paul to set foot in Jerusalem, seeing that he was going bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, which seems to signify that being thus bound he was under the direct leading of God. It seems rather to mean that, having had it revealed to them through the Spirit what would happen to Paul there, out of their intense love for him, because of the bonds and imprisonment that awaited him there, they said that he should not go to Jerusalem. This seems to be in keeping with what happened at Caesarea through the prophesying of Agabus.—J.M.].
The arrival of the company at Jerusalem was pleasant, for the brethren received them gladly, and the rehearsal of the work of the Lord among the nations caused the brethren to glorify God.
Then we have an incident which again makes us wonder as to the propriety of Paul’s action. Here we have four men who have a vow on them, and Paul is to be at charges for them, also he has to purify himself with them. In the light of Paul’s knowledge of the truth, was he right in this action? It may be argued that there was nothing wrong in taking a vow and that even in the present day it is quite permissible; but would it be permissible to observe the ritual of the law as Paul did on this occasion? This was not according to his teaching in his epistles. But more than that, in the light of his full knowledge of the truth, why should he have fellowship in the offering being offered for every one of them, knowing that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to them that believe? We are not overlooking the fact that this transition period in which Paul lived was most difficult and that there seemed to be a mingling of law and grace. We remember, too, that the Apostle wrote, ” To the Jews I became a Jew, that I might gain Jews,” but we take it that in this he would keep within the bounds of God’s truth as it was revealed to him.
Do not let it be thought, however, that in stating the foregoing we are levelling an attack upon the Apostle. We are taking the worst view possible of the case. Will some one please give us the best view of it? [Rightly to understand the action of the Apostle here we must not judge it from the full light of our own time, but we must put our¬selves in the twilight of that time when the Jewish believers were emerging from the law, and venturing very timidly into the fuller light of a new dispensation. Their weak conscience and their carefulness not to offend what they have been taught from the law had to be considered. Paul had adopted this mode of action all along (see Rom.14. as to his manner of living). Things which were as nothing to him, with his full knowledge, were the marrow and fatness of every¬thing to those who were weak in the faith. This is the prime consideration of Paul as he listens to the state of things in Jerusalem, and what refusal to take the course outlined by James and the elders in the church in Jerusalem would involve he fully appreciates. Note the distinction drawn between the Jews and the Gentiles in verses 24 and 25, and this distinction, according to Acts 15., is said to be what seemed good to the Holy Spirit, as well as the brethren in conference. By acting as he did with the four men he was proclaiming that he stood true to the decision in Jerusalem (Acts 15.), not that he was re-establishing the ritual of the law.—J.M.].
This incident led to his arrest and subsequent imprisonment; but it also led to him testifying to kings and rulers the manifold grace of God. And whatever his circumstances the Apostle always sought to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ. J. McC.

FROM ILFORD.—There was some discussion about the advisability of Paul’s resolve to go to Jerusalem in view of the fact that the disciples at Tyre “… said to Paul through the Spirit that he should not set foot in Jerusalem. Paul, previous to this, had said, ” I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem” (Acts 20:22). The prophet Agabus did not forbid him, but merely indicated what would befall him if he went to Jerusalem. It was for Paul to decide. But this was the way to Rome—•” … as thou hast testified concerning Me at Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome ” (Acts 23:11).
What place would the prophetesses fill? We suggest that in a certain sphere (not in violation of 1 Cor.14:34-35), they were the channels of communication from God. [God in speaking by these daughters of Philip, we may be quite certain, did not violate His own word given elsewhere. They prophesied in the sphere proper to women. —J.M.].
On the day following the arrival in Jerusalem an important conference was held, James and all the elders being present. Matters of great importance, doctrinally, were discussed.
Verses 24-26: The vows, the purification and offerings here mentioned gave rise to the question, ” Was Paul not yet entirely free from Judaism? ” The answer is given very fully in 1 Cor.9.19-23. ” For though I was free from all men … to the Jews I became at a Jew … to them that are under the law as under the law, not being myself under the law … I am become all things to all men . . . for the gospel’s sake! ” F. W. J.
FROM GLASGOW.—After the Apostle’s sad parting with the elders of Ephesus, he, ” bound in the spirit,” presses on towards Jerusalem.
At Tyre he finds disciples who warn him, through the Spirit, against his going to Jerusalem. To these he bids farewell and we find him at Caesarea, where he again has witness borne to him of what awaits him at Jerusalem. How like his Master he is, as he ” sets his face as a flint ” to go to Jerusalem! knowing that the Spirit testifieth bonds and afflictions abide him in every city (see Acts 20:23), and like Elisha, he seems to rebuke them, ” Yea I know it, hold ye your peace.”
Eventually Paul arrives at Jerusalem where he rehearses the works of God among the Gentiles. However, a false report has preceded him and we find him, at the elders’ suggestion, prepared to testify to the multitude of the Jews his respect for the law.
Surely his attitude here towards the law is as in 1 Cor.9.; he appears ” to them that are under the law, as under the law, . . . to them that are without law, as without law, not being without law to God, but under law to Christ,” to the end that he might gain some.
There was much discussion concerning the vow of the four men. Was this the vow of the Nazirite?
Paul’s accusers find him purified in the temple with these men and falsely accuse him of defiling it. So great is the ensuing uproar that he is apprehended and protected by the Roman captain.
We leave Paul on the castle stairs ” an ambassador in bonds,” speaking with boldness the mystery of the gospel.

FROM MIDDLESBROUGH.—Paul is still continuing his journey to Jerusalem, and he searches out the disciples at Tyre, who said, through the Spirit, that he should not set foot in Jerusalem. How do we compare this with Acts 20:22 and Acts 21:11? [See note in paper from Barrow.]. Then, on arriving at Caesarea, he entered into the house of Philip who had four daughters, which did prophesy. Does this prophesying mean ministry? If so, what place has this with us to-day in the light of 1 Cor.14:34? [No, this prophesying does not mean ministry. See note in Ilford’s paper.—J.M.]. It is here Agabus comes along and prophesies that Paul will be delivered up to the Gentiles. We remember the words of Deut.18:22. The prophecy given by Agabus in Acts 11:28 shows him to have been a true prophet. Paul arrives at Jerusalem and is received gladly by the brethren. He then rehearses, to James and the elders, the work wrought among the Gentiles and they glorified God. Verses 20 to 26 present a great difficulty. We could not understand the purification in connection with the offering, in the light of 1 Jn 1:7, ” the blood . . . cleanseth . . . sin.” Or is there a difference between the purging of sins and the purging of the flesh? [Paul was in no doubt as to the meaning of such things. Note what he says himself in Heb.9:13,14 as to ” flesh ” and ” the conscience ” and as to the blood of animals and the blood of Christ. But see note in paper from Barrow.— J.M.]. Would we understand what Paul had assayed to do was not accomplished, in the light of verse 27? From the enraged Asiatic Jews the power of Rome rescues the Apostle. The crowd remind us of the Ephesian mob which know not what was the matter. The captain, thinking he is a dangerous person, secures him, taking him to be the Egyptian, but Paul settles his question, speaking in Greek. We leave him speaking to the now peaceful crowd in Hebrew.
FROM ATHERTON AND LEIGH.—The Apostle arrives at Tyre, and finds certain disciples, who had great concern for him, and entreated him not to go to Jerusalem. The Apostle’s desire was that his kinsman, according to flesh, might be saved, and whatever it might cost him to preach the gospel to them, he was determined to go.
Verse 17: They arrive in Jerusalem, and Paul, after rehearsing God’s mercy and goodness to him learns that many bear false witness against him. To prove his innocence he seeks counsel of James and the elders. Four men had a vow on them. A vow was a solemn promise or covenant, by which a person binds himself to do certain things, depending upon God for power to carry it out. In association with the men who shaved their heads, which was considered an act of high merit, he proved that he walked orderly, keeping the law, and that all the talk about him was false, and without foundation. J. S., W. C.


(1) Why did Paul, according to verse 13, go afoot to Assos? The following suggestions were made:—(1) He could do the journey in less time. (2) He may have had a revelation. (3) That he might have time and quietness for meditation. (4) He wanted to visit some of the disciples.
ANSWER.—The probable answer is that the ship had sailed before Paul had completed his discourse to the Assembly in Troas. Read carefully verses 7 to 13, noting the change from “we” to “them” and “they.” In view of discoursing with the saints in Troas he decided to walk to Assos, and there to catch the boat which would take some time sailing round the promontory from Troas to Assos. (See Map.)— J.M.
(2) We would appreciate help on the apparent contradiction of Acts 21:4 and Acts 21:11.
ANSWER.—The difficulty is with verse 4, verse 11 agreeing with Acts 20:22, 23. Note that what the disciples said was not a command given by the Spirit; they do not say that he must not set foot in Jerusalem, else Paul would have gone in the face of the will of the Lord, but they said that he should not set foot in Jerusalem. The disciples knowing the future of Paul in Jerusalem were solicitous for his safety and well-being, because of the love they bare to him, but Paul, knowing the will of God for him and bring bound in the spirit, could not be dissuaded from his purpose.—J.M.

ACTS 21:1-40.
FROM ST. HELENS.—The tears of the Ephesian elders did not dissuade the Apostle from going to Jerusalem. So he set off, passing the various places mentioned, and finally came to Tyre, one of the great commercial cities of the world at that time. Then, despite the warning uttered by the disciples of Tyre, through the Spirit, the Apostle proceeded via Caesarea, to Jerusalem. Love for the Lord Jesus Christ urged him on, for no doubt he would never forget the words spoken of him (see Acts 9:15,16): “Many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” We, as children of God to-day, hang our heads in shame because of the little we have done for our Lord and Master. Verse 5 contains a lesson for us. Do we seek God in prayer ere we set out on our way to do service for Him? Remember; little prayer-little power; much prayer—-much power. When Agabus showed Paul what would befall him, even Paul’s own companions tried to persuade him not to go. But he was willing not only to be bound, but to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. At this point we were reminded of Paul’s word in 1 Cor.11:1, ” Be ye imitators •of me, even as I also am of Christ.”
Finally, Paul’s companions, accepting the will of the Lord in the matter, went up with him to Jerusalem, where they were received gladly—Christian fellowship, how sweet!
Concerning the sad ill-treatment of the Apostle, we were reminded of the words of the Lord Jesus Christ in Jn 17:14. And though bound in chains, and led by soldiers, he was ” loyal and true,” holding aloft the colours, for the sake of the Name of the Lord Jesus, the Blessed One who too was rejected, despised, ill-treated, and for¬saken, for the Apostle—yea, and for even me, sinful me. Verse 36, ” Away with him,” reminded us of the same sad cry uttered with regard to the Lord Jesus Himself. J. HURST, F. HURST.

FROM LONDON, S.E.— Acts 221:4 is difficult to explain, for if we take the prophet’s words as a message to Paul, through the Spirit, he must have been fighting against the Holy Spirit’s warnings ever since he left Greece. It would seem that Paul was convinced that it was according to God’s will that he should go to Jerusalem, whatever might befall him there, or he could not have delivered such an address to the Ephesian elders. Surely he would not have continued in deter¬mined opposition to God for nearly two months! The second night of his arrest in Jerusalem, the Lord appears to him; there has been no indication of repentance, there is no word of censure, but the Lord confirms Paul’s desire to go to Rome, and encourages him.
Philip the evangelist had four daughters who prophesied; a fulfilment of Joel 2:28, quoted by Peter many years before. Their gift would no doubt be exercised only in private, not in the church.
Paul, like his Master, is not deterred by knowing that suffering awaits him at Jerusalem. We must admire such an earnest, noble character. When at Jerusalem they lodged with Mnason an early disciple who perhaps had followed the Lord when on earth.
It is difficult to understand the man who recently had written an eloquent epistle on “justification by faith” to the Romans, and bitter words against Judaisers to the Galatians, now agreeing to use strategy in order to conciliate them, though he had also written in the Corinthian epistle of the liberty which we have providing conscience is not seared. But rather than criticise what we do not understand concerning the customs of his day, should we not admire the man who could make himself ” all thing’s to all men “; having one great purpose “to testify the gospel of the grace of God,” with which he was commissioned, and making all in his life subservient to this object?
It was the unbelieving Jews who knew the Apostle’s teaching well who stirred up the multitude to kill him.
The Apostle’s scholarship and citizenship help him in the trouble which arises. These things are allowable, good, and profitable if laid at the Lord’s feet.
H. J. M.

CONSEQUENCES—ACTS 22:1- Acts 23:35.

FROM CARDIFF.—We see the result of Paul’s beckoning with the hand; immediate silence, especially when he spake in Hebrew to-those who just previously were a seething mob. Those who in his youthful days [perhaps] acclaimed him had joined with the Jews from Asia, and he now stood, making a last defence of the attitude he had assumed, which was so contrary to that which before he had proclaimed. What had caused this extraordinary attitude to take place in a Jew? This he proceeds to explain to his audience. He presents his credentials as agent to the Sanhedrim, persecuting ” this Way “; describes the intervention of One—” Jesus of Nazareth ” from heaven—on -behalf of those whom he was then persecuting, Who in a wondrous manner, unites the persecuted ones with Himself by stating ” whom thou persecutest.” The nature of the appearance remained stamped indelibly upon his memory, for it was to prove the subject matter and basis for his testimony to Jew and Greek alike (verse 15). When he returned to Jerusalem the Lord appeared to him, requiring his removal from Jerusalem, because He knew beforehand what would be the attitude of all in Jerusalem. The Apostle betrays his ignorance here of his fellow-countrymen, thinking that in view of his past zeal for Judaism its followers would be prepared to give him a hearing, and espouse the cause which he now desired with his whole being to serve.. [Paul is here referring to his experience in Acts 9:29,30, when he disputed with the Grecian Jews and they were about to kill him, and he was sent to Tarsus by the brethren. It was at that time he had the revelation from the Lord to depart and go to the Gentiles. It was then he argued with the Lord against leaving Jerusalem.—J.M.]. The Word of the Lord is, ” Depart . . . far hence unto the Gentiles.” At the mention of this word ” Gentiles ” the erstwhile listeners are galvanised into action; throughout the address the Apostle had. avoided any direct reference to outside nations, but for a Jew to state that heathen nations would now be the subjects of salvation was more than Jewish blood could stand. Their vain rage brings the address to a conclusion and the Apostle is taken within the confines of the castle to be examined by scourging. Tied up, ready for the thongs which are used, the Apostle takes advantage of his Roman birth, which carried with it the privilege of obtaining a hearing before being bound. On the morrow the captain commanded the Sanhedrim to come together, that he might hear his case, and the accusations of the council. The Apostle’s citizenship by birth was brought about, possibly, through his parents receiving a freeman’s honour in the Roman Empire, for valued or exemplary conduct. We understand this was occasionally done, and the benefit was handed down to posterity. Under military protection, the Apostle stands next day before the council, addressing them with that remarkable statement, ” I have lived before God in all good conscience until this day.” How necessary it is that the conscience should be guided by the Word of God! The high priest delivers unrighteous judgment upon the first statement of the Apostle, who, unwittingly, speaks evil of a ruler of the people, though both are not in the mind of God at this time. Knowing there is no possibility of fair judgment, he masterfully raises a point which divides the assembly. We cannot quite see how the question of resurrection could affect angels, since the Apostle’s point quite clearly refers to the resurrection of the dead. In his testimony at Jerusalem, the Lord stood by him. [Note what characterised the sect of the Sadducees—they confessed no resurrection, neither angel nor spirit. When Paul said that he was a Pharisee and a believer in the resurrection, this separated for the time being the Sadducees and Pharisees of the council, and certain of the Pharisees took Paul’s part and said that it was possible that Paul had heard some spirit or angel, for they confessed the reality of both, but the Sadducees neither. The question of angels has no bearing on the truth of resurrection.—J.M.].

—Even though it had been made known to Paul, by the prophet Agabus, that bonds and afflictions awaited him, he was in no way affrighted or deterred. Paul knew full well, from what Ananias had told him (Acts 9:15,16), that he must suffer many things. It was not zeal without knowledge with Paul, but zeal and the knowledge of God’s will for him combined, which led him to go to Jerusalem. In Acts 22., Paul makes his defence, mostly before Jews; he, therefore, makes known to them that he was a Jew, and that in his zeal for the Jew’s religion he persecuted the Way (Gal.1:13). We see here a beautiful example of Paul buying up the opportunity of witnessing to the grace of God. See also 1 Cor.15:10: ” By the grace of God I am what I am.”
The consequences of Paul’s defence, confessing Christ as Lord, were the same as his Master’s when He witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate. They said of Paul, “Away with such a fellow from the earth.”
In verse 25, as in Acts 16:37, Paul takes advantage of being a Roman. In the light of this, would we learn that a disciple has an earthly citizenship as well as a heavenly one? (compare Acts 21:39, and Phil.3:20). [” I am a Roman born” is a fact which must remain with Paul while he lives, but while he held this high citizenship -his use of it was limited to it being serviceable in the progress of the Lord’s work; he did not abuse it so that it brought him into opposition to other parts of the will of God. Citizenship carried to its limits would lead one to the polling booth, into politics, into the world in a variety of ways, till the one who holds the higher citizenship of heaven is bound hand and foot as regards the Lord’s work, and not only so, but is in definite opposition to his heavenly calling. Care must be exercised. —J.M.]. We see in Paul’s defence and its consequences two powers at work, the power of God and the power of Satan. God’s purposes were being fulfilled through Paul (Acts 23:11). In all this we see the patience of God’s faithful servant; compare 2 Cor.11:16-33.
W. H., R. G.

—We have here an account of the Apostle Paul as he was in his unsaved days, as he persecuted the church. He ” delivered into prisons,” both men and women. We wonder, how many of those who were saved on the day of Pentecost were cast into prison by Saul of Tarsus?
The message which God sent by Ananias to that blinded man, was, we thought, one which pointed to a unique man for a special work. The expression, ” Wash away thy sins,” we thought referred to baptism as it should be to-day, an open-air testimony, a public expression of what had taken place inwardly, to show that the old life was done with. Saul was now obeying the One whom he had hated, and was now one with those whom he had persecuted. This was a change that nothing else but that sight on the Damascus high-way could have brought about.
These Jews could not bear the thought of anything that was of God going outside of themselves; they certainly would not have the word going out to the Gentiles. Though they were God’s ancient people, the Son of God had said, ” Your house is left unto you desolate.” Although the prophetic scripture had foretold of the bringing in of the Gentiles, the Jewish teachers had not grasped these things, or did not want to.
The words of Rom.10. would apply here; how earnest the Apostle was for the salvation of his brethren after the flesh!
After the defence which the Apostle made, what must have been his thoughts as he was about to be ” examined by scourging”! We thought that the Apostle was right in claiming his Roman citizenship.
The question was asked, ” Was it in sarcasm that the Apostle addressed the words of Acts 23:5 to those who stood there? or was this a momentary lapse on the part of the Apostle? [It was a fitting rejoinder to an insulting suggestion by one whose speech greatly lowered the office he occupied, the office of high priest. The Apostle had not recognised that the speaker was the high priest; this is evident from what he said later.—J.M.].
When the council came together, they were soon divided. How very far they are from the mind of God is seen in the question which was asked, “And what if a spirit hath spoken to him, or an angel? ” [This is not the decision of the council, but of certain of the Pharisees who put up a kind of defence on Paul’s behalf.—J.M.]. With them there is no thought of God having spoken, nor of their seeking to God for guidance. What a scene, ” the chief captain fearing that Paul should be torn in pieces by them! Contrast these rulers with those faithful leaders of God’s people in Old Testament times, who always sought unto the presence of God in times of difficulty.
In these trying times, God does not forget His faithful servant;. it was at this time that ” the Lord stood by him,” and spoke to him.. God was pleased with the testimony which had been borne in Jerusalem and gives the needed strength to His servant for that which is yet to^ come.
The enmity of the Jews is again seen, as those men band them¬selves to take Paul’s life, but God had spoken, and the word of God will prevail, so that their plan to take Paul is upset.

—We might well marvel at the patient forbearance of God in sending yet another servant to witness before the rulers at Jerusalem, and it would not surprise us to learn that this proved to be the last appeal made to such stubborn and rebellious sinners.
Since Stephen was killed, much grace had been displayed, but their hearts were unchanged.
A striking ensample of Christ’s long-suffering was Paul when he stood before them, for he had taken chief part among the rulers before in persecuting the saints. Well did the elders, and even the high priest, remember his zeal in this, having helped and encouraged him. But now he definitely asserts that the One Whose name he had blasphemed and hated, is alive in heaven, and that He had appeared to him, and had spoken to him. Moreover, Paul reminded them of Stephen’s death, and how he longed to see evidences of repentance in his hearers; but no, the same fierce anger was displayed, again, although the Lord would still have taken them ” under His wings.”
Paul was a specially chosen vessel to witness the good confession to kings and to rulers. He had noticed the example of the Lord Himself in this (1 Tim.6:13). For some reason the voice of the high priest was mistaken by Paul, and while the rebuke he gave was deserved, the Apostle under law to Christ had no thought of reviling a ruler of Israel.
The immense importance of the resurrection question, as it appealed to men, is then displayed in the wild scenes that brought the second day’s hearing to a close. (We do well to consider the place which the resurrection of Christ holds in the early preaching and teaching.)
It is delightful to see the Lord standing beside the Apostle now with those words which speak of His earthly days:—” Be of good cheer.” He who suffered once is able to succour now. Concerning persecutions he wrote to Timothy—” Out of them all the Lord delivered me.”
A short time previously Paul stated his intention of visiting Rome; now it is becoming evident that he is to reach there as a prisoner in chains, and moreover en route he is to testify before Felix, Festus, and king Agrippa with others of high estate.
H. B.

—Stamped indelibly on the mind and heart of Paul the Apostle was that great incident in his life when he was met on the road to Damascus by Jesus of Nazareth. Thrice in the Acts it is recounted, and on this occasion the people of Israel harkened in intense silence. How intensely interesting it must have been to listen to this personal experience! the remembrance of which, we have no doubt, carried the Apostle through many a difficulty. It makes us wonder if we have the same joy in our salvation, if we live in it day by day, and if we are ready to tell it as he was. How often with the Psalmist we are compelled to say, ” Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation ” (Ps.51:12).
The enmity of the Jews toward the Gentiles in things spiritual is clearly seen in their reception of the Apostle’s closing words, and the silence is broken by the mighty uproar of angry voices.
It is interesting to notice how Paul claimed citizenship as a Roman. This he did on more than one occasion. (See Acts 16:37). Prom this we judge that though spiritually our citizenship is in heaven (Phil.3:20), we have every right to claim the protection of the powers that be in the land of our sojourn. We have a responsibility toward such in various ways, such as praying for them, and if bodily harm were threatened their protection could be solicited. Are we right in this? [Paul claimed to be a Roman in Philippi and in Jerusa¬lem, and, later, his appeal to Caesar carried with it the same considera¬tion. In the matter of protection, what happened with the Remnant, in the second going up from Babylon, at the river Ahava, is worthy of consideration in the matter of protection (Ezra 8:21, 22). At Philippi he sought a lawful discharge from imprisonment, so that on future visits he might be in Philippi without fear. Here in Acts 22. he objected to the indignity of examination by scourging, which was absolutely un-needed with a man of truth like Paul; and in appealing to Caesar, while it was on the one hand to be free of the iniquitous perjury and murderous intent of the Jews, it was, on the other hand, in keeping with one of the great purposes of his life that he must bear witness before Caesar in Rome. It is still better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes, and police protection should be sought in homeopathic doses when thought to be necessary.—J.M.]. Of course, we do not limit the power of God to deal for our good in matters of this kind. On this occasion Paul was spared the scourging that would otherwise have been his.
Before the council Paul proved himself quite capable of dealing with the situation. We notice the strong language he used to Ananias. It has been suggested that there is a tone of sarcasm in his words, ” I wist not, brethren, that he was high priest.” But we are inclined to think that the words were sincere, from the fact of him quoting scripture in condemnation of his own words. In this incident he is unlike his Master, ” Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, threatened not ” (1 Pet.2:23).
His keen observation caused him to notice the division in the ranks of his accusers, and his ready mind laid hold of the opportunity thus afforded, to shew himself a partisan [?] with the Pharisees in the matter of the resurrection, with the result that what should have been a trial ended in confusion. [The case broke down because the witnesses could not agree.—J.M.].
What a cheer it must have been to the Apostle the night following to hear the encouraging words of the Lord as recorded in Acts 23:11!
The murderous intent of the Jews was frustrated by Paul’s nephew bringing news of the plot to murder the Apostle. Surety we see in these things the overruling hand of God, who will not suffer His people to be tried above what it is His will to permit. Once more Paul is delivered, and brought safely to Caesarea to Felix the governor.
Up to the present no charge has been formulated against the Apostle and it seems strange, as the narrative proceeds, to think that a man is incarcerated so long without trial in order to satisfy the whim of a body of men evilly disposed toward him.
J. McC.

FROM LIVERPOOL AND BIRKENHEAD.—From the steps of the castle in Jerusalem, Paul gives his first recorded public testimony to his conversion, which had taken place about 20 years previously.
The Apostle here seems to be very proud of his citizenship and his early training under Gamaliel. Possibly he wished to impress upon the people that he was no mere irresponsible person coming along with a new teaching of his own invention. He was equally as zealous for God as they, and possibly more so, but his zeal had been wrongly directed in persecuting the saints of God. He shows the people how that it required a special revelation from God to convince him of his error. His great zeal and energy had been concentrated in an effort to stamp out the name of Jesus of Nazareth, but God appointed that he should both see the Righteous One of that name, and hear a voice from His mouth. He was not only to know ” conversion,” for God had far greater purposes in him, calling him to be ” an Apostle of Jesus Christ ” (1 Cor.1:1).
His sufferings at the hands of the Jews and Romans at this period would no doubt bring to mind the Lord’s words to him through Ananias: “I will show him how great things he must suffer for My Name’s sake.” The Lord Jesus always forewarned His servants of the way the world would treat them (e.g., Matthew- 10:17; Jn 15:20 and Jn 16:2). This is what Peter later refers to as “partakers of Christ’s sufferings.”
What Paul relates of his return to Jerusalem after his conversion, and the Lord’s words to him in the temple, would seem to suggest he expected the Lord would require him to be a witness to the Jews. Such witness, thought he, would be most effective, considering his previous reputation amongst them. But the Lord had a different work for him, ” Depart, for 1 will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.”
The mention of the Gentiles rouses the wrath of the people, for their complaint against Paul is that he had brought Greeks into the temple and defiled the holy place. The Roman captain was about to examine the Apostle by scourging, and we remember that this was an indignity to which the Lord Jesus himself was subjected, but, unlike the Lord, the Apostle defended himself and claimed the privilege of Roman citizenship.
Once again in Jerusalem the Apostle is given the privilege of testifying to the Lord Jesus Christ, and this time it is before the council of the Jews and the chief priests. Some of these men had probably been his associates in the past, as persecutors of the believers, and now, by the wonderful grace of God, he could earnestly look upon these men and say, ” I have lived before God in all good conscience unto this day.” If this refers to his life prior to, as well as after, his conversion, we conclude he had acted against the Lord’s disciples with a good con¬science according to the light that he had, even as the Lord had said, ” The hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you shall think that he offereth service unto God ” (Jn 16:2). But the persecution of the saints was, in the sight of God, a grievous sin, howbeit, a sin of ignorance. We are impressed with the fact that neither a good conscience nor sincerity can justify a man before God (1 Cor.4:4), neither can they be an excuse for sin. Both are dependent upon the light that is in the individual, and therefore need to be kept keen and constantly corrected by the Word of God. When Paul said that he exercised him¬self to have a good conscience ” void of offence toward God and men alway,” he showed that he was constantly testing all his actions, both Godward and manward, in the light of the word of the Lord. Although he made and maintained these assertions before the council, he condemned himself unreservedly before God (see 1 Cor.15:9, Phil.3:6, and 1 Tim.1:13).
He is successful in striking a division between the Pharisees and Sadducees on the question of resurrection, but very shortly after¬wards the adversary closes up their ranks and they are again united against Paul to condemn him. The Lord stood by him. Inward peace, and the Lord’s words of comfort and cheer, sustain him, and in a very remarkable manner we see the hand of God intervening to save His servant from the hands of those who had vowed to kill him.

—” How forcible are right words! ” (Job 6:25 AV). We are reminded of these words almost every time that Paul speaks at this time. He had only to speak to that hostile mob in their Hebrew language, to gain a hearing.
He could boast as good a standing in the Jewish religion (he said) as any Jew there, and as much zeal for God as the most zealous. He had also, at one time, persecuted the followers of Jesus of Nazareth. Then he went on to tell of his conversion, and subsequent mission to the Gentiles.
At the mention of the Gentiles, his audience burst out afresh, and only the prompt intervention of the Roman garrison prevented an ugly scene.
On the following day he was brought before the Sanhedrim to be tried. After a nasty incident with the high priest, noting that part of the company was Pharisees and part Sadducees, he cried out that this was a question of the resurrection of the dead. His words had the desired effect. The company was instantly divided, and again the Roman guard had to come to his rescue.
That night the Lord stood by him and said he must also bear witness at Rome.
The next day, forty Jews conspired together to slay Paul, and might easily have succeeded, but God had said he must see Rome.
The plot was discovered, the conspirators baulked of their prey and Paul reached Caesarea, a prisoner it is true, but safe for the time being with Felix the governor.
S. J., R. M. R.

—The Apostle Paul gives in his oration an outline of his life, zeal and conversion. We noticed a difference between verse 9 of this chapter and Acts 9:7—ears, yet they heard not; like to-day, many might hear the gospel yet perhaps just one hears and believes. See also Jn 12:29. We were reminded of the Lord Jesus Christ by the similarity of the remark ” Away with such a fellow,” but we saw a difference in that the Lord Jesus Christ suffered unmurmuringly whilst Paul claimed the privileges of a Roman. [The Lord was not ” a Roman born ” as Paul was, and there are reasons for this. Had it been the good-will of God then His Son could have become incarnate in the family of a Jew who had a Roman citizenship; and there is an equal reason why Paul was born with this citizenship. Whilst Paul was a man of like passions with ourselves I judge we must look elsewhere for the real reason why he appealed to Caesar.—J.M.].
Paul uses wisdom in mentioning his Roman citizenship to the chief captain, who is afraid with this knowledge, seeing he had bound him uncondemned.

In Acts 23., Paul is before the council and the high priest’s remark caused him not to know his position, and it was thought Paul’s reply was a lesson for us to-day not to speak unbecomingly of one who is a ruler either in God’s things or in earthly things. [But Paul wist not that the man who spoke was high priest; it is not a case that he spoke lightly of a ruler, but he tailed to recognize the speaker as one, for he had descended to the language of the shambles.—J.M.].
Paul now takes up his Jewish standing (before Jews) and,, perceiving a mixed company, he introduces the theme of the resurrec¬tion. He has now the Pharisees on his side, the outcome of which is a great dissension, and he is likely to be hurt. This ends Paul’s last recorded address to those in Jerusalem. God brings to nought the terrible oath to kill Paul. A great host is used to take Paul to Caesarea; his Roman citizenship gives him position, protection and plenty. The chief captain in his letter speaks of Paul’s innocency and so he is kept in the palace till his accusers arrive.
We thought Felix fair-minded in wishing to learn both sides at the same time.

FROM LONDON, S.E.—What a grand sight it must have been to see Paul, an insignificant man to look at, standing on the castle steps, with no doubt all the officers of the guard round him, boldly addressing his maddened accusers! We noted a similarity between Paul’s speech and Stephen’s speech, but whereas Paul was defending himself, Stephen defends ” The Way.”
Paul did not want to give unnecessary provocation, but he makes a calm and impressive statement and appeals for confirmation to themselves. The account of his conversion here given was found to differ but slightly from the narrative in the ninth chapter. Speaking from his vivid recollections, the Apostle calls the light a great light and he names the precise period of the day. The historian in relating the circumstances says the companions of Paul were speechless; Paul simply says they were afraid. In the ninth chapter it is said, ” They heard the voice, but saw no one,” but here it is said that ” They saw the light but heard not the voice,” the meaning being that though they were able to witness the brilliance of the great light, they saw-not Him whose glory it flashed, and though they heard the sound they could not distinguish the articulate words pronounced to the ear of the Apostle. Paul brings out new features; i.e., that Ananias was a Jew, a devout observer of the law and held in high repute by all the Jews in Damascus. What Ananias said to him and the message Ananias received from the Lord are omitted. The Apostle’s main end is to show that he did not disown the religion of his fathers, but that he had been profoundly attached to it, and that he had only gone beyond it under the divine revelation which he durst not resist. His courage and faith did not desert him before the council at his second defence. After the first distressing incident we note the reply of Paul, ” I wist not, brethren, that he was high priest “; some doubt as to the exact meaning of this statement is felt; perhaps we could have some light on this subject. Was it that Paul did not recognise Ananias as high priest? or was the Apostle’s eyesight becoming defective? [Paul’s words ” I wist not ” show that he had not recognised the speaker as. the high priest, from whatever reason it would be difficult or impossible to say. Presumably the high priest was not wearing his high priestly vestments at the time.—J.M.].

The Apostle, discerning the composition of the council, sees his advantage; it was in vain for him to plead any further, so he suddenly threw in a statement which acted like the explosion of a bomb among his accusers. Doubt was expressed as to whether Paul was right in using subtlety, but the words of the Lord, ” Be of good cheer,” reassure us that the Lord was watching over him. A. J. Taylor.

FROM ATHERTON AND LEIGH.—The Apostle did not read his defence, he had no brief, but it was a plain statement under the power of the Holy Spirit (see Mk.13:11) as to God’s dealings with him. He relates what he was, his birth and upbringing, his strict adherence to the law, ” being zealous for God,” and very cautiously and wisely pays respect to themselves in saying, ” even as ye all are this day.” The Apostle’s wise handling of so delicate a situation is indeed healthy tuition for us. As he brings under review his past career, and his present standing, we recall his own words in 1 Tim.1:13, and in 1 Cor.15:10: ” But by the grace of God I am what I am.” How touchingly he refers to Stephen in verse 20, and how beautiful, particularly so if the Hebrews was written by Paul, are the words of Heb.11:36, 37, 38!—”And others …. they were stoned . . . of whom the world was not worthy.” As we read the sad words of verse 22, ” Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live,” another incident quickly arises in our minds, where words of railing and so on were shamefully hurled at Another. See Jn 15:18.
In Acts 23. the Apostle is before the council, and his opening words are weighty. He says ” I have lived before God in all good conscience until this day,” and later, ” Herein do I also exercise myself to have a conscience void of offence toward God and men alway” (Acts 24:16). We are reminded of his charge to Timothy, ” The end of the charge is love out of a pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned (1 Tim.1:5), and ” Holding faith and a good conscience (1 Tim.1:19); and again, ” Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience ” (1 Tim.3:9); “I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers in a pure conscience ” (2 Tim.1:3). The words of Heb.13:18, together with other evidences, cause us to feel a little that the Apostle had some portion in the letter to the Hebrews, ” For we arc persuaded that we have a good conscience . . . .”
It was thought that the council, before which Paul appears, was the same before which Stephen appeared, although, perhaps, its personnel was not the same.
A. H, G. A. J., W. C.

ACTS 24:1-26:32.

FROM HAMILTON, ONT.—Man’s ways are not God’s ways. That the elders might present their accusations against Paul, in a most convincing and appealing manner to Felix, they chose for their mouth¬piece, the orator, Tertullus. When God takes up a vessel to bear His name before men it is not essential that the speech and preaching should be in persuasive words of wisdom if there is the demonstration of the Spirit’s presence. ” Not in wisdom of words lest the cross of Christ should be made void.” Paul, given permission to speak, after Tertullus, confuted the accusation of wrong-doing and said that he

firmly held to all things written in the Law and Prophets, and that he, himself, was anticipating the same hope as looked for by his accusers, the hope of resurrection, adding that his continual exercise was to have a conscience void of offence towards God and men. Such exercise is obligatory upon all who claim to be the Lord’s. Felix, knowing well the truth of Paul’s beliefs, for he himself had a ” more exact knowledge of the Way,” deferred passing judgment until he should hear Lysias, the chief captain. Meantime he placed Paul in the keeping of the centurion and granted him uncommon liberties. Perhaps it was through Drusilla, his wife, who was a Jewess, that Felix obtained much of his ” more exact knowledge.” They both sent for Paul to hear more from him concerning the faith in Jesus Christ. In the discourse that followed there is much valuable information for the Gospel preacher to-day. Paul began at the root of the matter showing clearly his hearers’ position and need. Without doubt the Holy Spirit’s power was evident and it may have been ” the day of visitation ” to Felix He procrastinated, however, saying, ” When I have a convenient season, I will call thee unto me.”
A period of two years passed and Paul was still in bonds. Felix was succeeded by Festus, who, having come down to Cassarea, com¬manded Paul to be brought before him. Again Paul makes a con¬vincing defence. Surely in Paul’s experience are the words of 1 Jn 3:13 fulfilled, ” Marvel not, brethren, if the world hateth you.” No doubt Paul would think of the words spoken by the Lord Himself, ” If they persecute Me, they will also persecute you ” (Jn 15:20). In all this Paul suffered wrongfully, fulfilling the words of 1 Pet.2:20. When we consider this we must confess how little we suffer for Christ to-day. When we read how unwilling these two rulers were to pass judgment against Paul, it reminds us how similarly rulers acted in the case of the Lord Jesus.
For the third time Paul’s case is brought before a ruler. We feel that Festus must have been very just and, no doubt, the Apostle was thankful to God for having such a man to be his judge. The Apostle is again brought forth and, nothing daunted, he set before king Agrippa and his queen, his defence. Thus should we be engaged to-day—giving our testimony. So convincing was the truth of Paul’s words that it brought forth these words from the king, ” With but little persuasion thou wouldest fain make me a Christian.” Still they find no fault in him, so Paul is committed before Caesar at Rome.
R. D., W. T.

—The three defences of Paul before the avaricious Felix, before the strong and high-minded Festus, and before king Agrippa are extremely interesting, but space will not permit us to go into the many thoughts and questions which arose out of these three chapters. Paul defends himself ably and nobly. There was some difference of opinion as to the character of king Agrippa, but scripturally he appears to have been quite a fair and just man, especially in his dealings with Paul, and his utterance, ” Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian,” was in deep sincerity (contrary to the opinion that it was merely a jibe). The final sentence in Acts 26. surely confirms this: “And Agrippa said unto Festus, ‘This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.’ ” Paul thus once more is ushered on his way, to his grand objective—Imperial -Rome.

—The little that is recorded points in the favour of Felix. Previous to meeting with Paul he had gained a knowledge of the Christian faith, and under the Apostle’s influence the weighty importance of these matters was brought upon him. Under conviction of sin, and warned of judgment to come, he foolishly turned to base motives, and though he knew Paul to be guiltless, he remanded him for a long period, finally leaving him in chains to please men.
Festus was a better type of man, but he paid little heed to. eternal matters. Who Jesus really was, gave him no concern.
For Agrippa we have more regard. He truly desired to hear Paul’s story, for some strange things had been happening over a period of years which interested him.
It was a unique opportunity, and Paul, by words of truth and soberness, was used of God to display before the king the ” gospel of the glory of the blessed God,” which was committed to his trust.
We fear, nevertheless, that Agrippa failed really to face the issue; that the reproach of Christ was too costly for him, and that the desire for the glory of men outweighed with him the glory of God.
A comparison of the story of Paul’s conversion related in Acts 26 with those in Acts 9 and Acts 22 is interesting. We would specially note that on the occasion before Agrippa he states that what the Lord said to him before he entered Damascus practically embodies, his life service, whereas in the other places it rather appears to be Ananias who told the purpose of his call.
Perhaps we should allow the Lord’s use of Ananias in Acts 26. as well, as being implied, and so try to blend the accounts. H. B.
FROM BARROW-IN-FURNESS.—Felix, to whom Paul was sent from Jerusalem, seems to have been a very unstable man. From the narrative of Acts 24, love of position and love of money seem to play a large part in his actions.
The Jews, in their accusations against Paul, were not going to-allow any possible charge to pass by. ” We have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of insurrections among the Jews throughout the world . . . .” They were certainly taking the widest possible view of his supposed offences. True, the Apostle had caused many a stir during his ministry among the Gentiles, so much so, that on his. arrival at Thessalonica they said, ” These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also” (Acts 17:6). If he appeared to be a pestilent fellow it was in a good cause. As for the third accusation, Paul was not ashamed to be linked with those who were called the sect of the Nazarenes. This is abundantly evident as he made his defence, as he confessed ” that after the Way which they call a sect . . .” so served he the God of his fathers. Again the matter of the resurrection, is to the forefront. Verse 16 is very interesting, and is worthy of imitation.
His decision in this matter was put off, with the words, ” When Lysias the chief captain shall come down, I will determine your matter,” and though two years elapsed we never read of the arrival of Lysias or of a decision by Felix.
That which characterised the governor in the matter of Paul’s trial is also found true in spiritual things. He sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ Jesus. And though he was terrified as he heard of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, he never came to decision. A convenient season! It never came. He looked for bribes, but he had refused the greatest wealth ever offered to man, and when after two years he was succeeded by Porcius Festus, in order to gain favour with the Jews, he left Paul in bonds. We might well term him—Felix the Procrastinator.

Two years’ waiting did not suffice to damp the desire of the Jews to slay Paul, and their plot to murder him is frustrated by Festus inviting them to Caesarea to accuse him. This they did, but could not prove the charges made. Here again we see how an individual, for the sake of temporal power, was willing to play with the life of a man, and it is now that Paul takes his opportunity of obtaining what justice might be given by appealing to Caesar. This moving from place to place and from trial to trial was to bring no definite result. How wonderfully God works in connection with His servants! The Lord had told Paul that he would testify for him at Rome, and here, surely, was the God-given opportunity of reaching that city, even as a prisoner.
The arrival of Agrippa called for a fresh hearing, and once again the Apostle relates the marvellous story of his conversion. How earnest! how sincere! as he traces his life from his youth, relates his career as a persecutor, and tells of his meeting with Jesus of Nazareth, the commission he received, and the manner in which he carried out to the letter the work that was laid to his hand; and as he wound up his address, he told them the substance of his gospel—” How that the Christ must suffer, and how that He first by the resurrection of the dead should proclaim light both to the people and to the Gentiles.”
As he thus spoke, two men had been listening intensely, but how differently their minds are working! The one ascribes the speech of Paul as madness. The other is deeply moved—” With but little persuasion thou wouldest fain make me a Christian”—noble words! yet he, like Felix, failed to come a decision, and Agrippa, like Felix, passes from the scene.
At last Paul’s innocence has been proved, and had it not been that he had appealed to Caesar he would have been set at liberty, for they found in him nothing worthy of death or of bonds.
J. McC.

—Paul and his accusers are before Felix, and Tertullus, to gain favour, uses lies and flattery. Paul answers, denying these statements. He remarks on his long absence from Jerusalem and it was not until Jews from Asia arrived was there any trouble, and it is these who should have been before Felix to accuse him. Paul then points out it is only with regard to the resurrection that they could disagree. Felix gives no judgment but allows him certain privileges. We get a picture of Felix’s character; he feared God’s wrath on account of his evil life, yet was not willing to repent, but rather he became the more hardened as he repeatedly heard the Word. Acts 26:25 reminded us of the jailor who trembled, but, in contrast, believed.
Festus succeeds Felix as governor. The chief priests and principal Jews remember Paul after two years and seek to arrange a further plot. It was remarked how that right from Paul’s conversion the Jews had plotted to kill him (Acts 9:23-25).
Accusing Jews return to Caesarea with Festus and bring many grievous charges against Paul, but he protests his innocency of trans¬gression against Taw, Temple or Caesar. On Festus asking him to go to Jerusalem, he appeals to Caesar.

King Agrippa arrives and is informed by Festus about PauL Festus being at a loss for an accusation, Agrippa hears him personally „ Agrippa’s knowledge of Jewish customs and questions gives Paul confidence to make his defence (see also Acts 23:11). Acts 9:15 is being gradually fulfilled.
Then he again repeats the story of his life and conversion and obedience to the Lord’s command; thus king Agrippa hears the gospel in no uncertain way. Obedience to the Heavenly vision takes Paul further than faith in the Lord Jesus, yea to the doing of His will, and it is only by the help of God he is alive to bear witness, which, he said, was according to Hoses and the Prophets. Here we have one of the most solemn experiences in a man’s life:—”Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian “; yet we have no record of Agrippa turning to the Lord Jesus. Paul affirms his desire for the salvation of all present, even of those who so hate him.
Festus, Agrippa and Bernice are agreed on Paul’s innocency, yet because of his appeal they seem to have no authority to overrule his request. The Jews are thus further frustrated in their desire for Paul’s death. E. H. BOWERS.
FROM ST. HELENS.—The words of Acts 9:15,16, came to our hearts as we considered Acts chapters 24, 25, and 26.
It was thought that Tertullus, the accusing orator, was a Roman. He began the case with craftiness, endeavouring first to flatter Felix, then to accuse Paul of being (1) a pestilent fellow, (2) a mover of insurrections, and (3) a ring-leader of the Nazarenes. Paul, in verse 13, tenders a plea of not guilty, but in verse 14, confesses “that after ‘the way’ which they call a sect (Heresy, RVM), so serve I the God of our fathers.” What a wonderful confession! We should not be ashamed of confessing that we serve in this ” Way ” too. The Jews did not realise that the sect of the Nazarenes was ” the Way ” or the mind and the will of God, elsewhere called ” The Faith” (Jude 3.).
Acts 26:15: “Having hope toward God, which these (Fathers— Prophets) also themselves look for, that there shall be a resurrection both of the just and unjust” (Dan.12:2,3). [We would suggest that “these also themselves ” refer to Paul’s accusers, and not the prophets.—Jas. M.].
Felix is terrified, after reasoning with Paul concerning (1) The faith in Christ Jesus, (2) Righteousness, (3) Temperance (self-control, RVM) and (4) Judgment to come. And well he might!
But Felix sealed his own doom in saying to Paul:—” Go thy way for this time . . . .” Throughout all these questionings the Apostle demonstrated wonderful patience, enduring for Christ’s sake. We were impressed with the words of Paul uttered before Festus in Acts 25:7, 8. Doth it not behove us to be wise in our sayings, so that no man can accuse us of anything? Let our manner of life be worthy of the gospel of the grace of God. We feel sure the Apostle’s life was.
We feel that the Lord was with Paul when he was permitted by Agrippa to speak for himself, and so he could say, ” I think myself happy, etc.” Paul goes back in thought to the day when he, too, thought he ought to do many things contrary to the Name of the Jesus, and when he shut up many saints in prison. He relates how the grace of God reached him and instead of his being against God, he is now for Him. We praise the Lord; we, too, know somewhat of

the day when a new object struck our light and stopped our wild career, when we also were turned from darkness to His most marvellous light.
In contrast to Paul’s experience in Acts 26:21, what a privi¬leged time we live in! But we too need ” the help that is from God.” Festus thought Paul mad, but king Agrippa replied, ” With but little persuasion thou wouldest fain make me a Christian.” We feel sure that the great ambassador of God would fain have had him take Christ as his own personal Saviour, and not only him, but all that, heard Paul that day.

—Paul, having made his defence before one and another, is now before Agrippa. Great pomp attended the coming of the king, and as he sits in the place of hearing, he has with him the chief captains, and principal men of the city. Festus, who had previously heard Paul, lays before the king the charge of the ” multitude of the Jews,” and relating his own findings, ” I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death.”
Paul is bidden to speak, and, happy that he can do it, relates again the whole of God’s dealings with him. He seems to reach the summit of his experiences when he says, ” Wherefore, O king Agrippa, I was. not disobedient unto the heavenly vision.” His defence was aggressive, for his words of truth and soberness have penetrated into the territory of the king’s heart; and we feel somewhat, too, that outburst of Festus, when he said to Paul, “Thou art mad,” was just a cloak upon a troubled heart, brought about by the words of the Apostle. The end of Paul’s defence leaves that earthly monarch fighting with the thoughts of his own soul, and he has to confess, ” With but little per¬suasion thou wouldest fain make me a Christian.” Festus previously said ” he had committed nothing worthy of death,” but the findings of these men, who considered their judgment in private, was, ” This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds.”
The Apostle, when before Festus, had made an appeal unto Caesar, and it appears that the court of Agrippa was unable to alter it.
Some wondered whether he did right in appealing to worldly powers, for the Lord would have delivered him—or was it the thought of witnessing before kings. (See Acts 28:19). [Taking into account the whole of the circumstances and what ensued, it seems beyond doubt that Paul was guided by God in his decision to appeal unto Caesar.—-J.M.].
As the whole scene is before our minds, the words of the Apostle, on the eve of his departure, echo in our minds, ” I have fought the good fight—I have kept the faith.”
A. S. B., G. S., W. C.

—In five days Ananias came down with Tertullus an orator, and other false witnesses. Tertullus started off with a flattering speech to Felix, and false accusations against Paul, which the other Jews declared to be true. But Paul—one man against a company—defended himself so ably that it became obvious to Felix, that ” it was for envy he had been delivered up,” so that he held him over till Lysias should come down. Lysias, however, seemed to be a long time in coming down, for, when Felix was succeeded by Festus two years later, Paul was still in bonds. The Jews, still hoping that if Paul were brought out into the open they would have a chance of killing him, made the innocent request that he be brought up to Jerusalem. Festus refused to do this, but invited Paul’s accusers down to Caesarea.
When at last Paul was brought before him, the Jews as usual brought false charges against him, which they were unable to prove. But Festus seemed to be seeking favour with the Jews, so that Paul, seeing he would not get justice, appealed to Caesar.
Soon after this, king Agrippa, with Bernice, arrived in Caesarea. Festus, seizing the opportunity, laid Paul’s case before him (because he was an expert in Jewish affairs (see Acts 26:3), telling him how Paul had appealed to Caesar. Agrippa requested to hear Paul for himself. The following day Paul was brought before Agrippa and his company and Festus. It was here that Paul made that magnificent speech telling of his conversion. This was a theme of which the Apostle never tired—how he had met the Lord in the way.
After hearing him, king Agrippa had to admit that he might have been liberated if he had not appealed to Caesar.


Acts 26:18: Does “inheri¬tance” always mean the same in the New Testament?
ANSWER.—No, inheritance does not always signify the same thing. Speaking generally, for saints in N.T. times, inheritance is spoken of in two ways. (1) An inheritance here, of which such portions as Acts 20:32; 1 Cor.6:7-10; Eph.5:5 speak; and (2) an inheritance hereafter of which Col.1:12 and 1 Pet.1:4 speak.
In the latter all who are born again, and thereby made meet by the Father, shall share; but in the former conditions arc involved in the will of our God whereby we may inherit under the will.—J.M.
Can it be stated, please, what is meant by the “gift” which was given to Timothy by prophecy with the laying on of hands; e.g. (a) was it some special qualification for preaching or teaching; or (b) was it some special sphere of service? See 1 Tim.4:14, 1 Tim.6:20, and 2 Tim.1:6,14.
ANSWER.—The present writer cannot see that those who prophesied (perhaps the brethren of Lystra and Iconium, Acts 16:2), or the elderhood by laying their hands on Timothy, imparted any qualification for the Lord’s work as to preaching or teaching, but rather that they gave to him, in their fellowship with him, a sphere of service in keeping with his gift and adaptability for such work; so that as thus separated to this service his personal qualities and the service given became one indivisible whole.
Note how in another matter (but it may serve as an illustration) when the Sower went forth to sow He sowed the word of God, yet when it reached the hearts of the hearers it is said, ” These are they by the way side . . . rocky places,” and so forth (Mk.4:14-20). By transmutation of ideas the Lord passes from the seed—the Word of God—to the persons to whom it comes; the seed and the persons are viewed as one whole. So here in Timothy, Timothy’s gift for, and the elderhood’s gift of, service become one.—J.M.

—ACTS 27:1-44.

—Seeing that Luke still uses the pronouns ” we ” and ” us,” it seems evident that he was on the ship, though only as a passenger. We judged that the Centurion’s kindly treatment of Paul was largely due to his knowledge of the verdict of King Agrippa, that Paul might to have been set at liberty if he had not appealed to Caesar.
It was suggested that the Centurion was virtually in command, having chartered the vessel at Alexandria. It was usual to winter in the isle, and hence the danger to the ship and passengers when they determined to continue. It was a case of more haste, less speed, as ultimately they had to get into a ship which had done so (see Acts 28:11.). Paul, being only what might be called ” a landlubber,” was unheeded when he sought to warn them, as was perhaps natural. Having decided to keep on their headlong course against advice, circumstances arose (verse 13) which seemed to justify their actions, but the result was disastrous: the ship tossed about in the fury of the tempest, no sun, no stars, and worst of all, no hope. The Apostle very rightly rebukes them for not heeding his warning.
Does the “long abstinence” of verse 21 suggest that Paul too was disquieted and waited on the Lord all this time to know His Will? Perhaps so, but how noble his words, ” The God whose I am, whom also I serve! ” We understand the words “am” and “serve” denote absolute possession and the position of a bondslave. [No doubt, but the word serve is not douleuo, but latreuo, which means that he served in service which is God’s exclusive right to receive, and if rendered to other things or persons is idolatry.’—J.M.].
Then again he proclaims the fact that ” I believe God.” Such faith in such a position, and under such circumstances, was very precious and very honouring to God. Paul was now the master of the situation, and he quickly observed the cowardly attempt of the sailors to desert the ship, and he is now obeyed.
Whilst they were wishing for the day, Paul put his faith into practice, and besought them all to eat, himself setting the example by breaking bread and giving thanks to God in the presence of them all. A wonderful and practical testimony!

It was the custom of Rome to kill prisoners to prevent them escaping, and this would have happened had not the Centurion again intervened. So every soul aboard the ship arrived safely on land, in various ways. Some have thought this to be a type of our own journey through this life, and the various ways in which we arrive home, but surely some will sail into port under full sail with every piece of canvas set. Anyhow, it is what we should aim. at.
H. J. O.

—Paul’s voyage to Rome is brimful of interest. From the very commencement the elements seemed contrary to a safe voyage. The kindness shown to Paul by the Centurion Julius is really remarkable, and suggests to us that the Lord had been preparing this man’s heart in connection with Paul’s comfort. This care is seen throughout the voyage, and even after they arrived in Italy the same consideration is shown. The difficulties encountered during the first part of the voyage appear to have delayed them to such an extent that the winter months were drawing nigh, and sailing was becoming dangerous.
Paul evidently lived close to his Master during these days, and we are led to think that it was by revelation that he uttered the warning of verse 10, reminding us very forcibly that ” The counsel of the Lord is with them that fear Him” (Ps.25:14 RVM.). The warning, however, was unheeded, and enticed by the soft south wind, they set sail. It was but the calm before the storm. When all is quiet and peaceful with us, it is not always the sign of spiritual prosperity. There is much in this narrative to remind us of Jon.1., both in the same sea, in a storm; both ships contained a servant of God (though they were in very different circumstances), and in some instances the same tactics were used to weather the storm. How vain were the efforts of these men in Acts 27.! We wonder if the words of Ps.107:25-27 came to Luke’s mind—
For He commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind,
Which lifteth up the waves thereof.
They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths:
Their soul melteth away because of trouble.
They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man,
And are at their wits’ end. But man’s extremity is God’s opportunity! and it was not until they had realised their real danger that Paul once more addressed those on board. His last words had been words of warning; his present words are words of hope and cheer. Unlike Jonah who slept during the raging storm and had to be aroused, this mighty man of God had been praying, and his prayer was being answered. The word has gone forth that he must bear witness at Rome (Acts 23:11) and stand before Caesar (Acts 27:24), hence whatever happens to the ship, to the freight, or the tackle, the word of God stands sure. What a wonderful declaration of faith in God is seen in the words, ” I believe God “!
But even then some would have their own way of escape, and the sailors would have deserted had not Paul taken command of the situation. Then they take food. At last they heed the servant of God and are ready to obey his word. Now the wheat is thrown over¬ board, and, as it were, the last hindrance is removed and the vessel is run aground. Then it is interesting to notice that every person had to go into the sea, and we behold them all on one level. And so it came to pass that they all escaped safe to the land.
J. McC.

—This is Paul’s last voyage [Is this so? If it is his last voyage when was 1 Tim.1:3 fulfilled?—J.M.] and he is going a prisoner for Christ’s sake before that tyrant, Nero; although we are not told the result of the trial, it is thought that Paul was acquitted.
It is evident that Paul was treated far differently from the ordinary prisoner, both by Julius and at Rome; probably it was because those who were in charge were afraid that their former treatment would come out in the trial before the Emperor, but still more probably that Agrippa and Festus considered him innocent, and for this reason he was allowed to go ashore at Sidon to visit the disciples there.
The fact of there being neither sun nor stars (verse 20) would render the pilot helpless; thus they could not even tell where they were going.
Then in verse 23, how differently Paul was treated from the ordinary prisoners! The rejection of his advice to all on board would raise him still further in the esteem of the captain, and would convince them of his innocence—and what weight would be added to his message from God!
Verse 24 tells how for the sake of one man (the chief of sinners), 276 were saved that the testimony of this chosen vessel of the Lord might shine out to those around.
We believe that verse 35 refers to the ordinary meal of verse 34— and even in this, Paul, we read, bears witness by giving ” thanks to God in the presence of all.”
WM. W.

—We recognise the place of importance which Luke himself filled in the inspired account of the labours of Paul.
Luke was not a prominent man—we have no mention of him as a preacher—but for steadfastness, and devotion in the Lord’s service, and to His servants, there are few to compare with him. He filled a humble place although he was a scholar, standing faithfully by his fellow-servants through the severest and most prolonged trials.
There are some expressions in the account of the storm and shipwreck which we cannot follow, but the details in general are arresting, and graphic, showing at least the contrast between travel then, and now. We may be sure indeed that the accommodation for so large a number as 276 souls afforded but scant comfort even for the ordinary passenger; how then would prisoners in bonds fare? Can we possibly imagine the plight of such in a terrific storm reaching such a height that the sailors were unable to exercise the least control over the ship, and just had to give way and let her be driven at the mercy of the elements? So distressed were all on board that for two weeks they had no thought of food. Calamity after calamity befell them, until all hope of being saved was taken away, and Paul’s words would be reflected upon, that the voyage must bring injury and loss (verse 10). Had they taken his counsel the experience would not have been theirs, but what of Paul himself? What could be his thoughts of such suffering and peril for him and his fellow-servants, through the sin of others?
This was his third taste of shipwreck, and he may well have wondered why the way was so hard for him. Just what had happened to the ship is not known, but Acts 27:20,21, indicate some injury which filled all with despair, and in the light of it Paul besought the Lord for the lives of all on board, although he had previously made it known that he saw that lives would be lost. This is very instructive. ” Prayer changes things.”
We would observe that while God granted to Paul all that sailed with him, it does not follow that all were saved by grace from the sinner’s doom. Indeed, the behaviour of the sailors (verse 30), and the intention of the soldiers (verse 42), indicate that these at least were still unregenerate men, although we doubt not that many believed the Apostle’s testimony.
Perhaps we are wrong in supposing that the prisoners wore their chains through the ordeal—there was the possibility of their being able to swim to land (verse 43)—but the fact that the barbarians knew Paul to be a prisoner suggests that he might have been in chains then.
In that broken wreck significantly held unmoveably by the foreship, we think we see many possible lessons, and would learn from it, at least, to beware of rejecting the counsel of God, however humble the channel may be by which it reaches us; but rather to incline our ears to His Word with teachable spirits, even as it is written: ” Hear, and your soul shall live.”
It is worthy of note how often Roman centurions have com¬mendation in the Scriptures. Julius, who escorted Paul on this occasion, is said to have treated him kindly, and also he saved him from a violent death. We do trust that he came to know the ” kind¬ness of God, and His love toward man.”
H. B.

—The use of the words “we” and “us” denotes that Luke, the writer of the Acts, was with Paul on his journey to Rome. Aristarchus and Luke were not ashamed to be seen with the Apostle in his bonds. The centurion treated Paul kindly. Perhaps he had been present at the trial and realised that Paul was not suffering for wrong-doing. No doubt Paul’s conduct would make Julius lenient; in fact, so great was his influence on board that the lives of all the other prisoners were spared for his sake.
We read of a change of ship at Myra. The ship on which they now embark is a larger one, probably a wheat carrier between Egypt and Rome. The fast mentioned in verse 9 was the Day of Atonement, the tenth day of the seventh month, which signalled the close of the sailing season.
It is evident in Acts 27:10 that Paul is giving, not a prophecy, but his own opinion based on experience, that the voyage would result in loss of life. This would doubtless have come about had not God intervened, ” Lo, God hath granted thee all them that sail with thee.” The centurion gave more heed to the master and to the owner of the ship than to Paul, and they decided to put to sea and take the risk. Apparently a small boat was being towed astern, and when it had been hauled in because of the oncoming storm, the ship was undergirded. This was an old method of preventing the vessel from springing a leak, by passing ropes right round her and thus holding the planks together.
After several days’ battling with the tempest, freight and tackling having been thrown overboard, all hope that they would be saved was gone. Like the rest of humanity when in such great distress, their thoughts are doubtless turned to God, as in Jonah’s day, and they are now more willing to listen to one who speaks with authority from the living God. Paul first admonishes them for their disbelief, then exhorts them to be of good cheer. Faithfully he bears witness to God, to Whom he belongs and Whom he serves, saying, ” I believe God, that it shall be even so as it hath been spoken unto me.” Paul’s cheerful spirit, in very trying circumstances, had an encouraging effect upon the others. In the presence of all he gave God thanks for the bread, thus acknowledging God in all his ways; then he besought them to take some food after their long fast.
God honours His word and His servant, and although we are not here told of any being won for the Lord Jesus Christ, it is very evident the centurion was deeply impressed with the words and the behaviour of Paul, which is seen in his determination to save the Apostle from the counsel of the soldiers.
In the list of Paul’s sufferings for Christ’s sake in 2 Cor.11., he speaks of having been a night and day in the deep, but this cannot refer to the present occasion, but one of the other two occasions on which he was shipwrecked. This shows that in the Acts we do not get a full account of all the Apostle’s journeys, but only incidents specially selected by the Holy Spirit.

—Paul at last sets oft for Rome. To complete the journey a change of boats is needful, from the first ship, being of Adramyttium (Mansion of Death), to a ship of Alexandria (Helper of Man), suggesting to all. being sinners, that they enter by the first ship into this life and to reach a haven of rest in God must change their boat to the ” Helper of Man,” and so come to God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Much difficulty was encountered ere Fair Havens was reached; thus, because of the late season, sailing was dangerous, so Paul gives warning and advice. Paul is not hearkened to, for the words of the master of the ship have more weight with the centurion. How like the sinner to-day who hears the gospel preached, but there being no worldly attraction he hearkens to the ruler of this world, the Devil, and passes on to deeper depths of trouble. Very striking too, when a start is made to go on, everything looks prosperous; but not for long.
We took the boat mentioned in verse 16 to mean the ship’s boat and not the ship in question, and found ourselves out of depth in the meaning of verse 17. [See what Liverpool and Birkenhead say as to undergirding the ship. The lowering of the gear may mean the lowering and taking in the sails sufficiently to weather the storm.—J.M.]. After much struggling, the cargo of the ship was thrown overboard and on the third day the tackle is tossed away. And so men struggle in many a difficulty from which often, if heed had been given to the word of warning, they would have been saved all this. The seamen struggle in their knowledge of the sea and its ways and we see Paul struggling with his God in prayer which is answered to the saving of all the lives of those on board. Things go from bad to worse, light of neither sun nor stars was seen; and such is the position of one who is without God, buffeted by seas of difficulty, no light to guide him, and shipwreck ahead.
This was a bad time for those on board, no food having been touched—surely fasting at the wrong time when bodily strength was needed. Perhaps, too, some children of God are found fasting from the Word of God when its help and upbuilding is most needed.
Paul addresses a changed company and his words cannot be gainsaid, and if only men and women to-day were in like state, how eagerly, we think, they would drink in the gospel! Paul’s words not only rebuke, but hold good tidings, and he testifies to his faith in God which remained unshaken throughout the storm. “… And storms may sweep our sky . . . .”
It was suggested that the giving of thanks to God for food would have a touching effect on those present; and perhaps to-day God might, in His wisdom, use this simple way of reaching a stranger to Himself. Good cheer is then installed in the hearts of all. The loss of all has to be known ere salvation is theirs; and it is so with sinners that all they can offer and have is a useless burden which must be given up.
The soldiers show failure at the final stage of the shipwreck in desiring the death of the prisoners, but the intervention of the Centurion saves their lives and all escape to land.

—This portion unfolds to us several of the outstanding characteristics of the Apostle Paul, as linked with the fulfilling of the words spoken in Acts 9:15,16, and how different is the commencement of this journey as compared with previous journeys of the Apostle! However, he still has, as his objective, that in all things he might be found well pleasing to God.
We would suggest that the Apostle sailed from Caesarea, Luke evidently accompanying him and also Aristarchus of Thessalonica (whether the latter was journeying as a prisoner we are not sure, but we know that later on the Apostle refers to him as his ” fellow-prisoner ” (Col.4:10). Daniel-like, the Apostle finds favour in the eyes of the centurion in charge of the prisoners.
After considerable hard sailing, they arrive at Fair Havens where they remained for some time. Here the Apostle warns those in charge that perilous times lie in store if they resume their journey. However, his counsel was not taken, and they directed their course to Phoenix, so that they might winter there. Seemingly they enjoyed favourable weather at the commencement of their journey from Fair Havens. Yet, though the winds blew softly at the start they were soon followed by a violent wind called Euraquilo. So terrible was the tempest that they lost control of the ship, and were driven about at the mercy of the winds. Freight and furniture were thrown overboard to lighten the vessel, but it availed very little, though they laboured hard.
When all hope for the safety of the vessel had been given up, then Paul stood up and proclaimed—” Be of good cheer, I believe God”. Here lay the secret of his calmness. He who had before suffered ship¬wreck (see 2 Cor.11:26) had learnt the value of faith in God, with the result that God spoke to him through an angel, saying, ” Fear not.” Have we as young men in the journey o’er life’s stormy sea taken God into our confidence? Take a lesson from the Apostle, and, though your bark looks like sinking, stand fast and say,

As spoken, so surely it came to pass, there were no casualties. All the 276 were saved, such is the work of faith.
Let us say with the hymn-writer:—
” With Christ in the vessel We smile at the storm.”
Let Him be our Captain. But alas! alas! at times we take the helm ourselves, and it is just possible that we can make shipwreck, as did Hymenaaus and Alexander (1 Tim.1:19).
Disciples all, the Lord Himself has set us the course by which we voyage to our home. Here lies our confidence; whate’er beset us, we sail with One whose power must overcome.
“Tis easy when o’er still waters gliding,
In peaceful faith upon the Lord to rest;
But when our bark on troubled waves is riding,
Will faith triumphant issue through the test?
How then can we overcome and not be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, by the craftiness of men (Eph.4:14)? Let us take the exhortation of the Apostle, and with willing hearts, hear the words of 2 Tim.3:14-17, so that we may be thoroughly qualified as disciple-mariners.
J. B., J. J. T.

—We now come to the last phase in the Apostle’s career, as given in the Acts.
Along with other prisoners he is handed over to the centurion, who eventually places them on board a ship, bound for Italy.
Their troubles begin as soon as they leave Myra. Adverse winds prevent their touching at Cnidus (RVM), and it is only with difficulty they reach Fair Havens in Crete.
Paul advised them to remain there, but his warning passed unheeded, and the ship went on her way. Soon after leaving port they ran into rough weather which soon became a raging storm so that, being unable to continue their course, they were forced to run before the wind. In the gloom and despair of that awful storm the Apostle’s words rang out unfalteringly and clear, ” I believe God.”
Even in their own final endeavour to land, they lighted on a place where two seas met (possibly a sand-bank or bar) and stuck fast. The ship soon began to break up so that the centurion commanded that all should make for the land.

—What an example we have here in the Apostle Paul, who, in whatever circumstances he found himself, ever sought to serve his God! The centurion must have seen something unusual in the Apostle to allow him the liberty which he did.
The question was asked, “Were the words of verse 10 spoken from knowledge which the Apostle had, or were they spoken by revelation?” [Paul says “I perceive”; natural prudence guided by his long experience of this sea and its perils, no doubt, led him to give the counsel he gave; though it is also possible he had divine revelation of the disastrous venture they proposed in putting to sea at such a time of the year.—J.M.].

When his advice was refused, it would seem that the Apostle almost passed from the minds of these men. It is very evident, how¬ever, that the Apostle had not been in idleness all this time. Men had been doing all that was in their power to preserve their own lives, but the Apostle knew where real safety lay. Thus the Apostle could speak with full assurance, and gives “the authority for his message, ” God hath granted thee . . . .” It would seem that the Apostle had been pleading before God for these men, even although they had refused to listen to him. What an example to us to-day, as we think of those who pass by the gospel message! The Apostle had the assurance that he himself must bear witness also at Rome, but his thoughts were of those who travelled with him.
The Apostle had great confidence in God, for he takes the lead in giving thanks for the bread. We could surely say of him, that he lived up to his message. Again he could assure them, ” There shall not a. hair perish from the head of any of you.”
In all this, the centurion must have been greatly impressed, for in order to save the Apostle he took a most unusual course for a man in his position, responsible for prisoners.
God is faithful to His word, for it would seem that there were some who could not swim, yet they were all brought safe to land, and this in a strong sea which was breaking up the ship which they were leaving.

—The Apostle, in association with other prisoners, is placed under the charge of Julius, a centurion, in a ship bound for Italy. Paul had been faithful in his testimony-bearing, and even in the midst of intense trial he received the message: ” Fear not, Paul; thou must stand before Caesar.” Being under escort tended the more to strengthen the Apostle’s faith in God. He esteemed it a joy to suffer for the Name, and considered it the greatest of privileges to speak on behalf of the Lord Jesus. The Apostle sets us a worthy example. We observed the kindly act of Julius at Sidon to be the over-ruling hand of God. We were reminded of Joseph, when his feet were in fetters, how that the ” Lord was with him.” God never fails those who put their trust in Him; and He will always stand by those who seek to honour His Son.
The voyage became very dangerous. This resulted in a con¬sultation between Julius and the master of the ship, and very unwisely the centurion ignored the counsel of Paul, and very soon they found themselves driven helplessly before the tempest. After fourteen days’ hopeless battling with the storm, all hope of their lives being saved was abandoned. Thus such circumstances arose, as the outcome of turning aside wise counsel. Wise counsel, in everything, is invaluable and should be grasped; and never rejected, for they who do so learn amidst sad circumstances, the seriousness of their folly. Amidst the storm, and amidst the company of fearful men, there is one who is calm and happy—his faith was in his God. The storm of apostacy rages fiercely to-day, and only they can ” weather ” it, whose confidence is in God.
Paul spoke to them words of comfort. He repeated the words of the angel, and firmly asserted, ” Wherefore sirs, . . . I believe God.” The Apostle here strikes to the very foundation—Believing God. The salvation of the sinner depends upon it, and the salvation of the life of the child of God depends upon it. One recently saved, and thinking her salvation might be doubted, said, ” I believe God, and I am.” There was something solid in this.
Acts 27:33-36: At last the 276 people took the advice of Paul, and, as a result, found good cheer, and though they yet had to undergo the trial of abandoning a breaking ship, all were eventually saved.
We are reminded of the Apostle’s words to the Corinthians,…Thrice I suffered shipwreck…in perils of rivers…in perils in the sea” (2 Cor.11:25,26). “Wherefore I take pleasure…in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake ” (2 Cor.12:10).
A. S„ W. C.

—Truly did that faithful man, the Apostle Paul, live out the truth of his own words to Timothy (2 Tim.3:12): “All that would live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” We were also reminded of God’s words to him through Ananias, recorded in Acts 9:16. Naturally we would have thought that, for the Apostle’s sake, God would have given them a pleasant voyage, but God decided it otherwise.
We wondered whether Luke and Aristarchus were fellow-prisoners, or whether they journeyed with him to enjoy his fellowship, and to comfort him in his lonely journey to Rome. We deemed the latter to be the case. The Apostle sees nothing but the loss of life on the journey, and he includes himself (as verse 10 shows, ” also our lives “). This is the human aspect, but what a change when he has God’s mind on the matter (verse 23)! We were much impressed by the boldness of Paul as he stands up in that scene of distress and trial, and tells whose he is and declares his belief in God. We would perhaps have been inclined to keep our lips closed.
Verses 35, 36: The wonderful effect of his giving God thanks for the food is that they were all of good cheer. May we not be ashamed to speak for our Lord in scenes of distress and trial. We thought that the centurion’s heart had been drawn to the Apostle as he had watched his manner of life on the journey.
R. B.

IN ROME.—ACTS 28:1—31.

—This island is, of course, the modern Malta. How kindly they treated the shipwrecked mariners! Paul, ever practical, and perhaps to dry himself and get warm, gathered sticks and laid them on the fire. The viper coming out fastened on his hand. The barbarians had evidently some elementary creed of religion and so thought this was justice having her way. How quickly their views were changed when no harm befell him! God worked many cures and many were healed through the Apostle, and, no doubt, many spiritual cures were done at the same time.
Then happened what would have happened had they heeded Paul’s advice and saved themselves from being shipwrecked. They boarded another ship whose master was wiser than the other, for he had wintered in the island [of Malta]. What a joy to the Apostle to find brethren at Puteoli. Good news travels fast, and the brethren in

Rome soon heard that the Apostle was on his way. They instantly started out to meet him, and what a joy to him to see them! How it cheered his spirit and caused him to thank God!
” I must also see Rome,” Paul had said. Humanly speaking, he would never have reached it in his own way. Forty men had vowed neither to eat nor drink till they had slain him. So he went as a prisoner under the protection of Imperial Rome, and above all under the protection of the God, whom he feared and served (Ps.34:7).
Paul is allowed a fair amount of liberty and dwells by himself with a soldier. No doubt these soldiers were changed continually, to the furtherance of the gospel (Phil.1:12), as thus Paul became known to all the Praetorian guard.
Following his usual custom he called the chief Jews together and expounded to them the kingdom of God. Some believed and some did not, leading to the final statement of the Apostle that henceforth this salvation is sent unto the Gentiles who will also hear.
We gathered from the last two verses that the Apostle had a hearing before Nero and that his case was [possibly] adjourned and he himself liberated on parole. He appears to have preached with all confidence, and men seemed to recognise that he was to be allowed to do so without let or hindrance.
Thus our study of the book of the Acts and of a really great man ends, a man so great that he can becomingly say—” Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ.”
H. J. O.
—The unremitting care shown to his ageing servant by the Lord is again manifested. As in the case of Julius, so here, these barbarians showed them no common kindness. How wonderful to think that all creation, whether animate or inanimate, must bow to the word and will of the Creator, even though the object is the comfort of only one man! Paul again shows an example in gathering a bundle of sticks—a lowly occupation truly, but not too lowly for the man who always sought to imitate his Master, who was ” meek and lowly in heart.”
How ready men are to judge! When the viper fastened itself on his hand the barbarians said, ” This man is a murderer “; when no harm came they said ” He is a god.” The incidents recorded down to verse 10 reminded us of Mk.16:18. It was also said that when God gives a man a work to do, no matter what dangers may be associated therewith, He will keep him from harm. This is seen in this case. We may also take this for a sign to the unbelieving.
The healing of Publius no doubt caused a sensation in the island, and when they sailed they were honoured with many honours, and provision was made for their needs. These miracles of healing by the Apostle are the last to be recorded in the Scriptures. An interesting suggestion was made here. In the miracles performed by the Lord and His Apostles, none were performed on those who were already his disciples, save, perhaps, the case of Tabitha (Acts 9:36-41), and the doubtful case of Eutychus (Acts 20:9,10). Does anyone know of any others? Many of those who were healed afterwards became followers of the Lord Jesus.

After three months’ stay at Melita they are again on the high seas, and the voyage to Italy is completed without incident. At Puteoli he found brethren, which suggests to us that he had followed his usual custom and had sought out the believers. He tarried with them seven days, and thence to Rome. The news of his arrival in Italy spread to the capital, and the words of verse 15 are particularly refreshing, ” The brethren . . . came to meet us . . . whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage.” How do we welcome the Lord’s servants when they come among us? Do we wait till the first meeting is held, or do we go to meet them? Would it not be a cheer to them to see us at their arriving place to meet them? Would not they thank God and take courage? Let us think on these things.
The Jews in Judaea had evidently not carried the matter of accusing Paul any further than their own country. They were rid of the man as far as they were concerned and so were content. The Jews in Rome had knowledge of “this sect”; we doubt not that such knowledge would be derived from the fact that there was at this time an Assembly in Rome. They were not prepared, however, to accept the message through Paul, although we read of some who believed.
The quotation from Isaiah followed by the words of verse 28 led to the questions, ” Is this the final rejection by the Jews? Are they now definitely put to one side and the Gentiles taken up? ” What do others think?
The closing words of the book are interesting if compared with the first mention of Paul in the Acts. Here he was keeping the garments of those who stoned Stephen. Now we find him an ambassador in bonds, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness, none forbidding him.
J. McC.

—Paul, after being shipwrecked, arrived at an island called Melita, where dwelt people who did not believe in the living God, yet they showed kindness to Paul. Because of the viper they thought Paul to be a murderer, but we suggest that God caused this to confirm the Word so that these people might believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (see Heb.2:3,4). In the days of Paul God allowed signs and wonders, but to-day we are confirmed by the Word of God which we read. Again God shows His power through Paul healing the father of Publius, and others.
Verse 14: At last Paul has come to Rome, where he had pro¬fessed to be ready to preach, not being ashamed of the Gospel.
Verse 17: In spite of his bondage, Paul does not accuse his nation, but rather out of his constant love for his brethren he mani¬fested the Grace of God within him, being in this an imitator of the Lord.
They were willing to hear about that which they erroneously called a ” sect.” Paul expounded, testified and even persuaded them concerning Jesus. Some believed—what joy! Some disbelieved— what a pity! But we thank God for the ones and twos who put faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His well-finished work on the cross.

—A sinner on believing finds God has much good in store—he is not left to look and care for himself.
We see Paul and his companions received kindly by the inhabi¬tants of Melita. Paul, while helping, is suddenly attacked by a viper (Mk.16:18). The barbarians make two mistakes, in supposing Paul a murderer and then a god, and so the human mind leaps from error to error. We cannot in any way deride them, for this land to-day has many a like superstition, and we can only return thanks to God for the way in which we have been saved from all such, having taken His Word for our guidance.
And now the kindly islanders are rewarded; their sick are brought to Paul and healed. Though we are not told, we suppose Paul also sought the healing of their souls, but as to the reception the gospel had, we know not; the chapter is silent. But the kindness of the islanders goes to greater and greater bounds. We think Paul’s heart would be filled at God’s goodness, as shown through those upon whom he had no claim. What a lesson for us and how kindly we should treat the destitute stranger, lest peradventure we too might know his bitter lot!
And now Paul and company, with the needful things provided, set off again, this time to accomplish their journey in safety. As he nears Rome, brethren meet him and this encourages him. How good to know the fellowship of saints when in like circumstances’
Paul introduces himself to the Jews at Rome, who do not seem favourable to him and those he is connected with, insomuch when they hear the Word and Jesus testified to as being the Christ, many do not believe and Paul refers to Isa.6:9,10, as being fulfilled in them. But the word is sounded forth with much blessing as Phil.1:12-18 and Phil.4:21-22 go to prove.

—When all were safely ashore the islanders showed them great kindness by lighting a fire and attending to their needs.
After spending some time on the island, during which Paul performed many miracles of healing, they embarked on a ship, which, touching at Syracuse and Rhegium, landed them at Puteoli, where they tarried with brethren there seven days, and then went on to Rome.
Three days after his arrival in Rome, Paul sent for the chiefs of the Jews, and explained to them why he was a prisoner; they in turn asked for a fuller explanation of this sect “which,” they said, “is everywhere spoken against.”
On the appointed day, they arrived at Paul’s lodging in great numbers, where they heard ” the things concerning the kingdom of God,” from the lips of the man most fitted for that task; but true to custom there were the sceptics. For two years, however, he abode in his own hired dwelling receiving all who went in unto him.
This concludes the experiences of the great Apostle to the Gentiles. ” Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ.”

—Paul’s word to the centurion had come true:—” Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island.” What bodily covering they had would be soaked, and their privations were added to because of the rain and cold weather. The barbarians were very kind to them in that they kindled a fire for them. Paul, who was ever occupied with the need of others, especially the spiritual need, is at this time concerned with their temporal need and he gathered sticks to lay on the fire. Here we have recorded the incident of the viper’s bite, first causing the barbarians to deem Paul a murderer, then to acclaim him as a god! When we connect this incident with that of the healing of the father of Publius, we recall the promise made by the Lord Jesus, and recorded in Hark 16:18. The chapter closes with the Apostle still a prisoner for Christ’s sake, yet with that great desire to please God at all times and under all circumstances. When writing to the Church of God at Corinth he could say, ” Wherefore also we make it our aim, whether at home or absent, to be well-pleasing unto Him ” (2 Cor.5:9). It was the joy of the Lord Jesus, when here on earth, to do always the things that pleased the Father (Jn 8:29).
In Peter’s epistle we read, ” For hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that ye should follow His steps.” Truly the Apostle had followed closely in the steps of the Lord Jesus when seeking to please God. To the Thessalonians, he wrote: ” Ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God.” The things that give pleasure to God are just the things He commanded His people to do. And the Lord said to the Father in Jn 17:14, ” I have given them Thy word.” His word is to be His people’s guide every step of their pilgrim journey.
R. D., W. T.

—The trying ordeal of the sea having been passed, we find the Apostle and the other members of the ship’s company landing on the island called Melita which is now known as Malta.
These barbarians in Acts 28:2, we believe, not to be a savage, uncultivated and cruel people, but simply a people whose language was unintelligible to the Romans. (See 1 Cor.14:11). In kindness they ministered to the needs of the Apostle.
As murder is the worst crime that man can commit [?] they con¬cluded, when they saw the viper, ” no doubt this man is a murderer.” Moreover, when nothing amiss came to him, they said he was a god.
These barbarians reasoned from great original principles, written on the hearts of all men by God, that there is a God of justice, and that the guilty will be punished. Perhaps one of their many gods was named ” Justice.”
We next find Paul healing the father of Publius, the head man of the island. Furthermore, others also who were sick in the island were cured. In this as in the case of the viper, he fulfilled the words of the Lord Jesus. (See Mk.16:18). How good a return also it was for the kindness shown!
After staying three months, they set sail in a ship of Alexandria, a favourable south wind having sprung up, before which they sailed to Puteoli, where they found brethren.
When the Apostle did ultimately reach his destination (Rome), he had his long desire fulfilled and granted to him, and was grateful to God that he was permitted to see the saints there, though he was in bonds. He took courage when he saw them, and they when they saw him.
In calling the chief Jews together, Paul’s object apparently was to convince them that the charges against him were false. It might also have been to bring before them the gospel of Christ, which was to the Jew first. He wrongly supposed that charges unfavourable to his character had been sent from the Jews in Judaea, to those in Rome.
The hope of Israel (see verse 20) we take to be the coming of the Messiah, His resurrection, and the coming kingdom. Thus on an appointed day he expounded unto them the Kingdom of God, and persuaded them concerning Jesus, that He was the Messiah, both from the predictions of the Law and the Prophets. He did this from morning till evening. How indefatigable he was with his own nation! Their blindness and unbelief call for Paul’s reproof in his citation from Isa.6.
We are told that he abode two whole years in his own hired dwelling. Doubtless he had a measure of freedom, though still under custody of the soldiers.
What a testimony we would be if all had the same unswerving zeal for God! “Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ ” (1 Cor.11:1).
G. R., A. McI.

FROM ATHERTON AND LEIGH.—In the light of what the Apostle writes in Rom.1:14, ” I am debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians,” some wondered whether he had in mind the kindnesses he received at the hands of the inhabitants of Melita. [Note what is said in Rom.1:14, 15. Paul was a debtor not because of what he received from men, but what he had received from God to deliver to men, namely, the gospel; so he said, ” I am ready to preach the gospel.” Also, the time of his shipwreck at Malta was after he wrote to the Romans.—J.M.],
When the people of Melita saw that he took no hurt from the viper’s bite, they quickly changed their minds, and said he was a god. This reminded us of the words of Lk.10:19.
Acts 28:7-13: The courteous treatment received from Publius is repaid in the restoration of his father at the hands of Paul. This event received wide publicity, causing many others to come and be cured. The people sought to show their appreciation by giving to their needs ere they left.
The Apostle enters Rome under guard. As we view him we hear as it were his own words, ” So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you also that are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel …” (Rom.1:15, 16).
On the day appointed a great number come into Paul’s lodging, and to them he expounded divine things, from morning till evening. Some believed and some disbelieved.
He abode two years in his own hired dwelling, and received all that went in unto him; preaching . . . and teaching . . . with all boldness, no man forbidding him.
H. S. B., S. H„ W. C.

—Although the Apostle is bearing reproach as a prisoner for Christ’s sake, God continues to exalt His servant in the eyes of others. His experiences at Malta remind us that the Lord said that such signs as the taking up of ser¬pents, and the recovery of the sick, would follow (Mk.16:18).
After three months’ stay at Malta they set sail for Rome, and landed at Puteoli, where they found brethren. At the Market of Appius, and the Three Taverns, they are met by the brethren from Rome. For many years Paul had longed to see the saints at Rome, and now his heart’s desire is granted, and he thanked God and took courage.
Paul first seeks an opportunity of putting the gospel before the Jews. This was not only his usual custom wherever he went, but the Scripture he quotes here, ” Go thou unto this people and say . . .,” shows he fully knew the will of the Lord in the matter. With zeal unabated, he is found expounding and testifying the kingdom of God, and persuading them concerning Jesus, from morning till evening. This is how the Holy Spirit draws to a close ” the Acts,” telling of a single apostle, prisoner in the imperial city, preaching the kingdom of God to all that came in unto him. Thus the work of God is viewed as still going on, not coming to an end by the Apostle’s decease, or the departure from this scene of the remainder of the Apostles.
We recall the opening words of this history, showing it to be a continuance of the things which Jesus began both to do and to teach. From His lips during the 40 days the Apostles had learned of the things concerning the kingdom of God, and had received the charge to be His witnesses even unto the uttermost part of the earth.
It was during his time in Rome that the Apostle wrote several epistles to the Churches and to individuals, i.e., the epistles to the Ephesians, the Philippians, the Colossians, Timothy, Titus [Note 1 Tim.1:3. When did he leave his cloke at Troas and Trophimus at Miletus sick (2 Tim.4:13,20)? Were 1 Timothy and Titus written from Rome?—J.M.], Philemon, and, possibly, to the Hebrews. In each of these epistles he speaks of himself as a prisoner or in bonds.
There is also evidence in these epistles which would lead us to believe that after the two whole years as a prisoner in his own hired dwelling he was released after his trial, and made further journeys to many of the churches. The following verses from the epistles might be helpful in tracing the later activities of the Apostle.
Philn.1:22. He asks Philemon of Colossae to prepare him a lodging, as he hopes to be granted unto them by their prayers.
Phil.2:24. He speaks of sending Timothy to Philippi and to come himself shortly.
1 Tim.3:14; 1 Tim.4:13. Writing to Timothy at Ephesus, the Apostle says he hopes to come to him shortly.
1 Tim.1:3. He refers to a visit he made to Macedonia when he
sent Timothy to Ephesus.
Tit.1:5. It is evident the Apostle visited Crete and left Titus there.
Tit.3:12. He asks Titus to come to him to Nicopolis (Macedonia) for there he had determined to winter.
2 Tim.4:13; 2 Tim.4:20. The Apostle refers to visits to Troas and Corinth, and also says that he left Trophimus at Miletus, sick. This must have taken place on a different occasion from that of Acts 20 when he left the Ephesian elders at Miletus, as on the latter occasion Trophimus accompanied him to Jerusalem (Acts 21:29).

It is in the second letter to Timothy that the Apostle refers to his approaching end, when he was evidently again a prisoner in Rome. Now, only Luke is with him. The time of his martyrdom is come, having fought the good fight and finished the course and kept the faith.


“And so we came to Rome “; such is the terse summarizing of the manner of the Apostle’s entrance into the Imperial City. As a witness of Jesus Christ he has stood in religious Jerusalem, in philo¬sophic Athens, and now he stands in political Rome, the mistress of the world, as God’s minister; as having nothing yet possessing all things, as poor yet making many rich. Though a prisoner in bonds, yet he is upheld with a free spirit, and though under the surveillance of the soldiers of the Praetorium, to these and others he publishes peace and liberty.
Passing strange it may seem to the natural mind of the men of that day, yet such is the mystery of God’s will and of the gospel, that God did allow His servants to be imprisoned that their bonds might result in the progress of the gospel.
During the past twelve months we have traced the growth of the work of God from the days when there were 120 names together in Jerusalem, to the time when in that same city there were myriads of Jews that believed; and from the early work amongst the Gentiles at Antioch, by those scattered from Jerusalem, to the welcoming of Paul by the brethren at Rome. Far and wide flowed the streams of living truth from the saints of God, in the house of God, bringing refreshment to thousands, and onward advanced Christ’s lowly followers, led forward in triumph in Christ. Over all the work could be written that phrase coined in our own time—” One thing for God.” There was one God, one Lord, one Spirit, one apostolic circle, one doctrine of the Apostles called later ” one Faith “; which expressed the one will of the one God for His people. There was in consequence One Testimony on earth—the Fellowship, the house of God, however many might be the churches of God.
While the advance of Christianity, as it is called, may seem spectacular to us now, yet we have to remember that the work went on in the homes of the common people, amongst men and women who were regarded as the foolish things of this world, and carried on by men whose life was in danger continually. Though the environment may have been drab, and the times dangerous, who can deny that the work was a glorious work which was destined to continue though powers and empires and cities crumbled to dust and dissolution?
We trust that our studies will leave some increased knowledge of the will of God with us, and some of that zeal, too, with which the work of God in that early day was carried on.
We wish all our friends every good wish for a coming year, when we hope, God permitting, to view part of that other great leader’s work—-Moses, the man of God—in the book of Exodus.

The Church of God in action