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29¶Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.
31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey
33 When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.
34 Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;
35 And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men.
36 For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hun
dred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as 'obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought.
37 After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.
38 And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:
39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.
40 And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his
42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
5 Or, believed.
Verse 6. "Wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.”—The reader will not fail to recognise this as a proof of the statement, which we have on more than one occasion made (see note, John xii.), that the dead were, among the Jews, interred as soon as possible after their demise.
34. “ Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people.”—This exactly answers to the character of the famous Rabban Gamaliel, as described by the Jewish writers, and there is not the least doubt of his being the same person. He was the master at whose feet Paul studied in his youth; and we have had more than one occasion të mention him formerly, as the grandson of the celebrated Hillel, and as the son of Rabban Simeon-by some supposed to have been the same who, in the Temple, took the infant Jesus in his arms. He was the most renowned doctor and teacher of the Law in his day, and his dicta are most carefully preserved in the Talmud, where they are distinguished by a degree of good sense, rarely found among the Jewish doctors of that or any subsequent age. The Jewish writers concur with the evangelist in testifying the estimation in which this remarkable man was held, not only by the learned but by the common people. He died eighteen years before the destruction of Jerusalem; and to the last hour of his life was held in highest veneration. The Mishna (Sota, ix. 15) affirms, that when Rabban Gamaliel died, "The glory of the Law ceased; and purity and Pharisaism expired." At his death he ordered that his body should be wrapped in linen, not in silk, as the bodies of the distinguished dead usually had been; and this was deemed by his friends a greater grief than even his death, as they could not persuade themselves that he was honourably enough interred. Onkelos, the celebrated author of the Targum, who was one of Gamaliel's disciples, distinguished himself by the quantity of spices with which he honoured the interment of his venerable master.
In the next clause we see Gamaliel commanding the apostles to be put forth for a little space; an act of authority, which is explained by the fact that he was at this time, and long after, the president of the Sanhedrim. Many Christian writers make no doubt that Gamaliel was really a Christian at the present time and after, and reconcile it with his Jewish reputation, by stating, that the apostles persuaded him to retain his high post, and not to discover his conver sion, that he might be in a condition to render good service to the church. This, however, would be very unlike the apostles, who never advised any one to conceal his belief, and who would doubtless have thought the avowal of his conversion of far more service to the truth of Christ, than any services he could render as president of the Sanhedrim. The Evangelist has noted a sufficient reason for his interference and mild counsel. During the lifetime of Christ, the Pharisees seem to have even surpassed the Sadducees, in their hatred to his person and doctrine; but after he had been put to death, there was a material alteration. The apostles brought prominently forward, on all occasions, the doctrine of the resurrection-the very doctrine on which the Pharisees and Sadducees were the most divided. Hence the Sadducees were more exasperated than ever, and, from the death of Christ, took the lead in virulent opposition to the apostles; whereas the Pharisees, conciliated by their declarations in favour of this doctrine, became comparatively mild, and on more than one occasion interfered strongly on their behalf. (See another example of this in Acts xxiii. 9.) 36. "Theudas."-Josephus mentions a demagogue of this name, who set up for a prophet, and drew a great number of people after him, pretending that, if they would follow him to the river Jordan, and take their goods along with them, he would there give the word, and the waters should, as of old, divide before them, allowing them to pass over dry-foot. The procurator, Caspius Fadus, however sent a party of horse after him, by whom he was taken, and afterwards beheaded, while his numerous followers were slaughtered. Many have thought that this was the person to
whom Gamaliel refers; but they have found it difficult to get over the objection, that the transaction which Josephus relates did not occur till fourteen or fifteen years after this time; and, besides this, it will be observed that Gamaliel places his Theudas before Judas of Galilee, whose insurrection took place in our Lord's childhood, after the deposition of Archelaus from the ethnarchy of Judea. It were tiresome to pursue the various explanations which have been given by those who, in spite of this serious obstacle, persist in identifying the Theudas of Josephus with the Theudas of Gamaliel. None of them seem completely satisfactory; and it appears by far the safest course to conclude that the persons and the events were different. The affair of the present Theudas, being prior to that of Judas, very probably occurred after the death of Herod the Great, and while Archelaus was at Rome to get his father's will confirmed; during which time, Josephus informs us, there were ten thousand tumultuary disorders in Judea, a few of which only he specifies. Gamaliel's Theudas may have been the leader of one of these ten thousand unspecified disorders: or, possibly, although Josephus does not, on this occasion, mention the name of Theudas, this person may even have headed one of those tumults which he does specify. Thus he mentions one band of insurgents, without naming their leader, who went and burnt the royal palace, at Amathus, on the Jordan. Here there is room for the earlier Theudas, at the head of this recorded sedition, if it be necessary that Josephus should be found to record the sedition to which Gamaliel refers. Josephus also mentions one Judas, the son of Hezekias, who at this time raised an insurrection in Galilee, and aimed at the sovereign power; but was defeated and put to death. (‘Antiq.' 17. 12. 5; War,' 2. 4. 1.) As this agrees very well with the account given by Gamaliel, Archbishop Usher and others think this is the affair to which he refers. That this man's name was Judas is inferred, to be no objection, since the apostle Judas (not Iscariot) is also called Thaddeus-just the same name as Theudas-showing that the names Judas and Theudas, were essentially the same name, or convertible names.
There is thus ample room for seeking the Theudas of the text, without supposing either Gamaliel or Josephus mistaken. We may also observe that Theudas was a very common name among the Jews, which increases the probability of its being borne at different times by different demagogues. Indeed, in reading the Jewish history of those times some confusion arises from the same names being borne by various impostors and insurgent leaders. Thus, in the course of ten years, there were two persons of the name of Judas; and, in the course of forty, four of the name of Simon; who were all leaders of insurrections.
37. "Judas of Galilee.”—There is no doubt concerning this person, of whom we have already spoken in the note to Luke xiii. 1. Although this man was slain and his followers dispersed, his principles were never extinguished but with the life-blood of the nation. These principles were probably cherished by his dispersed followers in secret, till they were inherited or adopted by the "Zealots" of a later day, through whose conduct their operation produced those deplorable and ruinous effects which it has been our painful duty to record.
1 The apostles, desirous to have the poor regarded for their bodily sustenance, as also careful themselves to dispense the word of God, the food of the soul, 3 appoint the office of deaconship to seven chosen men. 5 Of whom Stephen, a man full of faith, and of the Holy Ghost, is one. 12 Who is taken of those, whom he confounded in disputing, 13 and after falsely accused of blasphemy against the law and the temple.
AND in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: 6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the Priests were obedient to the faith.
8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.
9¶Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.
10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.
11 Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.
12 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the Scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council,
13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law :
14 For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the 'customs which Moses delivered us.
15 And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.
1 Or, rites.
Verse 1. "The Grecians."-It has been somewhat disputed whether these 'Exavieras, or Hellenists, were born Jews, or proselytes. It is certain that, in the one way or the other, they were Jews, previously to their conversion to Chrisanity, and that they had usually lived among Greeks, and spoke their language, according to the Hebrew idiom. That they were not native Greeks, speaking that language in purity, appears from their being called Hellenists, not Hellenes (Eλanves). Some of the born Jews of this class, were, like Timothy, Jews by one parent only. As among the persons selected from this class of converts, one is "Nicolas, a proselyte of Antioch," it has been inferred that the others were also proselytes: but this is no necessary conclusion; and perhaps it might with more probability be inferred from his being thus distinguished, that the others were not proselytes.
Those who are distinguished from them as "Hebrews," were native and resident Jews, speaking the Hebrew language, as then spoken. And here it may be observed, that such Jews, and especially those of Jerusalem, accounted themselves far superior to those of their nation who resided in foreign lands; and this on account of their birth and residence in the Holy Land, and especially in the holy city; as well as because they used the holy language, and because, in virtue of their residence, they were enabled better than those who sojourned among the heathen, to observe accurately the rites and ceremonies of the Law.
9. "Synagogue."—The Talmudists inform us that there were 480 synagogues at Jerusalem. If so, or, indeed, if the number were much smaller, we may well suppose, as seems here to be intimated, that the Jews who were natives of foreign parts, but had been induced to settle at Jerusalem, as well as those, from the same parts, who only for a season sojourned in the metropolis of their religion-were, severally, associated together in synagogues of their own, distinct from those of the native Jews. This course was obvious and natural, as they thus secured the benefits of that commen interest so essential to members of the same congregation, and might have the services of their worship conducted in a language which they understood; for probably few of them were well acquainted with the dialect then vernacular among the native Jews. Another reason for association among themselves, would be the disrespect with which the native Jews regarded all their foreign brethren, except such as lived beyond the Euphrates.
"The Libertines."-Opinion has been much divided concerning these Libertines. Some think that, like the other names, this is taken from the name of the foreign place whence the persons who built and frequented the synagogue came; and such a place has been sought for with much pains, but little success. But we are disposed to concur in the more general opinion, that the name is rather derived from state and condition, than from place. The name being Roman, should, as indicating condition, be explained by a reference to Roman customs. According to these, we find that a person who obtained his freedom was called libertus, and his free-born son, that is, the son born to him in his freedom, was styled hbertinus, of which the present word is the plural. Now, we know, both from Philo and Tacitus, that the Jews were very numerous at Rome, and that they consisted almost entirely of such, and the descendants of such, as had been brought at different times, as slaves or prisoners, to Italy and Rome; but who had been ultimately liberated by their masters, and lived at Rome according to the laws and customs of their fathers. Eighteen years before the present time, these Jews were banished from Rome by Tiberius; and we may safely conclude that many of them resorted to Jerusalem, supplying a strong probability that they were the "Libertines" of the present text. It is not indeed necessary to suppose that they all came from Rome; since there were many other important cities, under Roman subjection, to which Jewish captives were sent, and in which they continued to reside, after their liberation, under the same condition as at Rome.
"Alexandrians."-This synagogue of Alexandrian Jews is mentioned in the Talmud, which states that they built it at their own charge-which was probably true in other cases. This, by the way, proves that in the text we are not to understand that there was but one synagogue for all the parties mentioned, but that each had its own synagogue-a point which might indeed be shown by a critical analysis of the original text.
Jews were very numerous at Alexandria. Of the five wards into which that city was divided, two were entirely occupied by Jews, who had, besides, residences dispersed in the other quarters. They there enjoyed full civil privileges, and had a prefect or governor of their own. Joseph. Ant.' xii. 1. 1; xiv. 7. 2; xix. 5. 2; Philo.' pp. 971, 972.
"Cilicia."-St. Paul, who makes his appearance in the next chapter, being a native of Tarsus in Cilicia, must have been a member of this synagogue, and it was as such, doubtless, that we find him taking some part in opposition to Stephen. Each of the considerable synagogues of Jerusalem had a kind of school or academy, for young students belonging to it. Probably this synagogue of Cilicia had such. Yet Paul studied under the great Rabban Gamaliel: and it seems that the Jewish youth, sent from distant parts to be educated at Jerusalem, were not confined to the schools of the synagogues to which they belonged, but might seek instruction in the schools of any eminent teachers preferred by themselves or their friends.
"Asia."-That western portion of Asia which we distinguish as Asia Minor, is to be understood. This distinction did not exist in the time of the sacred writers, being comparatively modern. This part of the continent, when first known to the ancient Europeans, received or bore the name of Asia, as the name of a particular country, which it retained as such, even when the name was eventually extended to the continent at large. It is in this particular sense that the name Asia is to be understood, wherever it occurs in the New Testament, which does not, we think, offer any example of the more extended signification. The ancients sometimes distinguished this part of Asia as THE PeninSULA, just as we apply the same term to Spain and Portugal, collectively.
come into the world. 54 Whereupon they stone him to death, who commendeth his soul to Jesus, and humbly prayeth for them.
1 Stephen, permitted to answer to the accusation of blasphemy, 2 sheweth that Abraham worshipped God rightly, and how God chose the fathers 20 before Moses was born, and before the tabernacle and temple were built: 37 that Moses himself witnessed of Christ: 44 and that all outward 2 And he said, Men, brethren, and faceremonies were ordained according to the heathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared
venly pattern, to last but for a time: 51 reprehending their rebellion, and murdering of Christ, the Just One, whom the prophets foretold should
THEN said the High Priest, Are these things so?
unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran,
3 And said unto him, 'Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee.
4 Then came he out of the land of the Chaldæans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell.
5 And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child.
6 And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years.
7 And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place.
8 And he gave him the covenant of circumcision and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs.
9 And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him,
10 And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all
11 Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction and our fathers found no suste
12 But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first.
13 'And at the second time Joseph was made known to his brethren; and Joseph's kindred was made known unto Pharaoh.
14 Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls.
15 So Jacob went down into Egypt, "1and died, he, and our fathers,
16 And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem.
17 But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abra
1 Gen. 12. 1. 2 Gen. 17. 9. 3 Gen. 21. 3. 4 Gen. 25. 26.
26 "And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?
27 But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?
28 Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday?
29 Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons.
30 And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush.
31 When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him,
32 Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold.
33 Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground.
34 I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have • Gen. 37. 28. 7 Gen. 41. 37. 8 Gen. 42, 1.
5 Gen. 29. 31, &c.
9 Gen. 45. 4. 10 Gen. 46. 5. 11 Gen. 49. 33. 12 Exod. 2.2. 13 Heb. 11. 23. 14 Or, fair to God. 15 Exod. 2. 11.
16 Exod. 2. 13. 17 Exod. 3. 2.
heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt.
35 This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush.
36 He brought them out, after that he had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, "and in the wilderness forty years.
37 This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, 20A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, "like unto me; him shall ye hear. 38 This is he, that was in the Church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fa thers: who received the lively oracles to give
39 To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt,
40 Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
41 And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.
42 Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is writ ten in the book of the prophets, "O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness?
43 Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.
44 Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, "that he should make it according to the fashion that he had
45 Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out be
fore the face of our fathers, unto the days of David;
46 Who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob.
47 But Solomon built him an house. 48 Howbeit "the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet,
49 Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?
50 Hath not my hand made all these things?
51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.
52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:
53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. 54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.
55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,
58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.
59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
18 Exod. 7.9. 19 Exod 16. 1. 20 Deut. 8. 15. 21 Or, as myself.
22 Exod. 19.3. 23 Exod. 32. 1. 24 Amos 5. 25. 25 Exod. 25. 40. 281 Chron. 17. 12. 27 Chap. 17. 24. 28 Isa. 66. 1, 2.
Verse 57. Stopped their ears."—We learn from the Rabbinical writers, that it was usual to do this, whenever anything savouring of blasphemy or indecency was heard. This was either done by stopping the ears with the fingers, or by closing them, by turning up the lobe so as to cover the orifice. The Talmudists (T. Bab. Cetubot,' fol. 5. 1. 2.) seem to consider that the lobe of the ear was made soft, while the rest of the ear is hard. for the very purpose of being thus inverted. It seems this last method is alluded to here, for, as Dr. Bloomfield carefully discriminates, "The word properly signifies, to hold or draw together, as drawing close the strings of a satchel; and is therefore more properly applied to closing than to stopping, though both produce the same effect."