Chrysostom on Acts 5300
ACTS XXVI. 30–32.—“And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, andthe governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them: and when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds. Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.”
See how again also they pass sentence in his favor, and after having said, “Thou art beside thyself,” (v. 24) they acquit him, as undeserving not only of death, but also of bonds, and indeed would have released him entirely, if he had not appealed to Caesar. But this was done providentially, that he should also depart with bonds. “Unto bonds,” he says, “as an evil doer.” (1Tm 2,9). For if his Lord “was reckoned among the transgressors” (Mc 15,28), much more he: but as the Lord did not share with them in their character, so neither did Paul. For in this is seen the marvellous thing, the being mixed up with such, and vet receiving no harm from them. “And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus’ band. And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia;one Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us. And the next day we touched at Sidon.” (ch. 27,1–3). See how far Aristarchus also accompanies Paul. To good and useful purpose is Aristarchus present, as he would take back the report of all to Macedonia. “And Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself. Julius gave Paul liberty,” it says, acting “courteously, that he might refresh himself;” as it was but natural that he should be much the worse from his bonds and the fear, and the being dragged hither and thither. See how the writer does not hide this either, that Paul wished “to refresh himself. And when we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary.” (v. 4). Again trials, again contrary winds. See how the life of the saints is thus interwoven throughout: escaped from the court of justice, they fall in with shipwreck and storm. “And when we had sailed over the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia. And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us therein.” (v. 5, 6). “A ship of Alexandria,” it says. It is likely that both those (in the former ship) would bear to Asia the report of what had befallen Paul, and that these1 would do the same in Lycia. See how God does not innovate or change the order of nature, but suffers them to sail into the unfavorable winds. But even so the miracle is wrought. That they may sail safely, He did not let them go out in the (open) sea, but they always sailed near the land. “And when we had sailed slowly many days, and scarce were come over against Cnidus, the wind not suffering us, we sailed under Crete, over against Salmone; and, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called the fair havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea. Now when much time was spent, andwhen sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them.” (v. 7–9). By “the fast” here, I suppose he means that of the Jews.2 For they departed thence a long time after the Pentecost, so that it was much about midwinter that they arrived at the coasts of Crete. And this too was no slight miracle, that they also should be saved on his account. “Paul admonished them, and said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives. Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul. And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the southwest and northwest. And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close to Crete. But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.3 And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive” (R. V. “were driven.”) (v. 10–15). Paul therefore advised them to remain, and he foretells what would come of it:but they, being in a hurry, and being prevented by the place, wished to winter at Phenice. Mc then the providential ordering of the events: first indeed, “when the south wind blew softly, supposing they had obtained their purpose,” they loosed the vessel, and came orth; then when the wind bore down upon them, they gave way to it driving them, and were with difficulty saved. “And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat: which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands,4 strake sail,5 and so were driven. And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship; and the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship. And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away. But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.” (v. 16–21). Then after so great a storm he does not speak as insultingly over them, but as wishing that at any rate he might be believed for the future. Wherefore also he alleges what had taken place for a testimony of the truth of what was about to be said by him. “And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss or any man’s life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer, for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me. Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island.” (v. 22–26). And he foretells two things; both that they must be cast upon an island, and that though the ship would be lost, those who were in it should be saved—which thing he spoke not of conjecture, but of prophecy—and that he “must be brought before Caesar.” But this that he says, “God hath given thee all,” is not spoken boastfully, but in the wish to win those who were sailing in the ship: for (he spoke thus), not that they might feel themselves bound to him, but that they might believe what he was saying. “God hath given thee;” as much (as to say), They are worthy indeed of death, since they would not listen to thee:however, this is done out of favor to thee. “But when the fourteenth night was come, as we were driven up and down in Adria, about midnight the shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country; and sounded, and found it twenty fathoms; and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms. Then fearing lest they should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day. And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under color as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship, Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off.” (v. 27–32). The sailors however, were about to escape, having no faith in what was said: but the centurion does believe Paul, For he says, If these flee, “ye cannot be saved:” so saying, not on this account, but that he might restrain them, and the prophecy might not fall to the ground. See how as in a church they are instructed by the calmness of Paul’s behavior, how’ he saved them out of the very midst of the dangers. And it is of providential ordering that Paul is disbelieved, that after proof of the facts, he might be believed: which accordingly was the case. And he exhorts them again to take some meat, and they do as he bids them, and he takes some first, to persuade them not by word, but also by act, that the storm did them no harm, but rather was a benefit to their souls. “And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting having taken nothing.” (v. 33). (b) And how, say you, did they go without food, having taken nothing? how did they bear it? Their fear possessed them, and did not let them fall into a desire of food, being, as they were, at the point of extreme jeopardy; (f) but they had no care for food. “Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health: for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you. And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat. Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat,” (v. 34–36) seeing that there was no question about their lives being saved. (d) “And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls. And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea. And when it was day, they knew not the land: but they discovered a certain creek with a shore, into the which they were minded, if it were possible, to thrust in the ship. And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoisted up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore.” (v. 37–41). “They made towards shore,” having given the rudder-handles to the wind: for oftentimes they do it not in this way. They were borne along, having loosed the rigging, i.e. the sails. “And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, and remained unmovable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves;” for when there is a strong wind, this is the consequence, the stern bearing the brunt (of the storm). (a) “And the soldiers’ counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape.” (v. 42). Again the devil tries to hinder the prophecy, and they had a mind to kill some, but the centurion suffered them not, that he might save Paul, so much was the centurion attached to him. “But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land: and the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land.” (v. 43, 44). “And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita.” (ch. 28,1). Do you mark what good came of the storm? Why then it was no mark of their being forsaken, that the storm came upon them. (c) Now this that happened was in consequence of the season of the year; but the wonder is greater, that at such a season they were saved from the midst of the dangers, both he, and for his sake the rest, (e) and this too in the Hadriatic. There were two hundred and seventy-six souls in all: no small matter this also, ifindeed they believed. The voyage was at an unseasonable time. (g) It is natural to suppose they would ask the reason why they were sailing, and would learn all. Nor was it for nothing that the voyage was so protracted; it afforded Paul an opportunity for teaching.
(Recapitulation). And Paul says, “I perceive that (this voyage will be) with hurt and loss.” (v. 10). And observe how unassuming the expression is. That he may not seem to prophesy, but to speak as of conjecture, “I perceive,” says he. For they would not have. received it, had he said this at the outset. In fact he does prophesy on this former occasion, as he does afterward, and says (there), “The God whom I serve,” leading them on. Then how comes it that it was not “with loss” (of any) “of their lives?” It wouldhave been so, but that God brought them safethrough it. For as far as depended on thenature of the thing, they had perished, but God prevented it. Then, to show that it was not from conjecture that he so spake, the master of the ship said the contrary (v. 11), and he a man of experience in the matter: so far was it from being the case that Paul’s advice was given from conjecture. More over, the place suggested this same (which the master said), “being not commodious;” and it was evident that from conjecture “the more part advised” (v. 12) as they did, rather than Paul. Then, severe the storm (that ensued), deep the darkness: and that they may not forget, the vessel also goes to pieces, and the corn is flung out and all beside, that they may not have it in their power after this to be shameless. For this is why the vessel goes to pieces, and6 their souls are tightly braced. Moreover, both the storm and the darkness contributed not a little to his obtaining the hearing he did. Accordingly observe how the centurion does as he bids him, insomuch that he even let the boat go, and destroyed it. And if the sailors did not as yet comply with his bidding, yet afterwards they do so: for in fact this is a reckless sort of people. (v. 13–20). “Sirs, ye should have hearkened to me,” etc. (v. 21). One is not likely to have a good reception, when he chides in the midst of calamity; but7 when he tells them what more there is (to come) of the calamity, and then predicts the good, then he is acceptable. Therefore he attacks them then first, when “all hope that they should be saved was taken away:” that none may say, Nothing has come of it. And their fear also bears witness. Moreover, the place is a trying one, for it was in the Adriatic, and then their long abstinence. They were in the midst of death. It was now the fourteenth day that they were going without food, having taken nothing. “Wherefore,” said he, “I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health” (v. 34), that ye should eat, lest ye perish of hunger. Observe, his giving thanks after all that had happened strengthened them. For this showed an assured mind that they would be saved. (b) “Then were they all of good cheer; and they also took some meat.” (v. 36). And not only so, but henceforth they so cast all their care upon Paul, that they even cast out the corn (v. 37), being so many. (a) Two hundred and seventy-six souls (v. 38): whence had they victuals?8 (c) See how they do their part as men, and how Paul does not forbid them. “And when it was day,” etc., “they loosed the rudder-bands.” (v. 39, 40). And the vessel goes to pieces in the daytime, that they may not be clean dissolved with the terror: that you may see the prophecy brought out as fact. “And the soldiers’ counsel,” etc. (v. 42). Do you mark that in this respect also they were given to Paul? since for his sake the centurion suffered them not to be slain. So confessedly wicked do those men seem to me to have been: insomuch that they would have chosen even to slay them: but some swam on shore, others were borne on boards, and they all were thus saved, and the prophecy received accomplishment; (a prophecy,) although not solemn from length of time, since he did not deliver it a number of years before, but keeping close to the nature of the things themselves: (still a prophecy it was,) for all was beyond the reach of hope. And (so) it was through themselves being saved that they learnt who Paul was. But some one may say: why did he not save the ship? That they might perceive how great a danger they had escaped: and that the whole matter depended, not on the help of man, but on God’s hand saving them independently of a ship. So that righteous men, though. they may be in a tempest, or on the sea, or in the deep, suffer nothing dreadful, but even save others together with themselves. If (here was) a ship in danger and suffering wreck, and prisoners were saved for Paul’s sake, consider what a thing it is to have a holy man in a house: for many are the tempests which assail us also, tempests far more grievous than these (natural ones), but He can also give9 us to be delivered, if only we obey holy men as those (in the ship) did, if we do what they enjoin. For they are not simply saved, but themselves also contributed to other men’s believing (pistin eishnegkan). Though the holy man be in bonds, he does greater works than those who are free. And look how this was the case here. The free centurion stood in need of his bound prisoner: the skilful pilot was in want of him who was no pilot—nay rather, of him who was the true pilot. For he steered as pilot not a vessel of this (earthly) kind, but the Church of the whole world, having learnt of Him Who is Lord also of the sea; (steered it,) not by the art of man, but by the wisdom of the Spirit. In this vessel are many shipwrecks, many waves, spirits of wickedness, “from within are fightings, from without are fears” (2Co 7,5): so that he was the true pilot. Look at our whole life: it is just such (as was this voyage). For at one time we meet with kindliness, at another with a tempest; sometimes from our own want of counsel, sometimes from our idleness, we fall into numberless evils; from our not hearkening to Paul, when we are eager to go somewhither, where he bids us not. For Paul is sailing even now with us, only not bound as he was then: he admonishes us even now, and says to those who are (sailing) on this sea, “take heed unto yourselves: for after my departing grievous wolves shall enter in among you” (Ac 20,29): and again, “In the last times perilous times shall come: and men shall be lovers of their own selves, lovers of money, boasters.” (2Tm 3,2). This is more grievous than all storms. Let us therefore abide where he bids us—in faith, in the safe haven: let us hearken unto him rather than to the pilot that is within us, that is, our own reason. Let us not straightway do just what this may suggest; not what the owner of the ship: no, but what Paul suggests: he has passed through many such tempests. Let us not learn (to our cost) by experience, but before the experience let us “avoid both harm and loss.” Hear what he says: “They that will be rich fall into temptation.” (1Tm 6,9). Let us therefore obey him; else, see what they suffered, because they did not take his counsel. And again he tells in another place what causes shipwrecks: “Who,” he says, “have made shipwreck concerning the faith. But do thou continue in the things which thou hast learned and wast assured of.” (1Tm 1,19). Let us obey Paul: though we be in the midst of a tempest, we shall surely. be freed from the dangers: though we remain without food fourteen days, though hope of safety may have left us, though we be in darkness and mist, by doing his bidding, we shall be freed from the dangers. Let us think that the whole world is a ship, and in this the evildoers and those who have numberless vices, some rulers, others guards, others just men, as Paul was, others prisoners, those bound by their sins: if then we do as Paul bids us, we perish not in our bonds, but are released from them: God will give us also to him. Or think you not that sins and passions are grievous bonds? for it is not the hands only that are bound, but the whole man. For tell me, when any one possessed of much money uses it not, nor spends it, but keeps it close,is he not bound more grievously than any prisoner by his miserliness, a bond that cannot be broken? What again, when a man gives himself up to (the belief in) Fate, is not he too bound with other fetters? What, when he gives himself up to observations (of times)? What, when to omens? are not these more grievous than all bonds? What again, when he gives himself up to an unreasonable lust and to love? Who shall break in pieces these bonds for you? There is need of God’s help that they may be loosed. But when there are both bonds and tempest, think how great is the amount of dangers. For which of them is not enough to destroy? The hunger, the tempest, the wickedness of those on board, the unfitness of the season? But against all these, Paul’s glory stood its ground. So is it now: let us keep the saints near us, and there will be no tempest: or rather, though there be a tempest, there will be great calm and tranquillity, and freedom from dangers: since that widow had the saint for her friend, and the death of her child was loosed, and she received back her son alive again. (1R 17,17). Where the feet of saints step, there will be nothing painful; and if such should happen, it is for proving us and for the greater glory of God. Accustom the floor of thy house to be trodden by such feet, and an evil spirit will not tread there. For as where a sweet odor is, there a bad odor will not find place: so where the holy unguent is, there the evil spirit is choked, and it gladdens those who are near it, it delights, it refreshes the soul. Where thorns are, there are wild beasts: where hospitality is, there are no thorns: for almsgiving having entered in, more keenly than any sickle it destroys the thorns, more violently than any fire. Be not thou afraid: (the wicked one) fears the tracks of saints, as foxes do lions. For “the righteous,” it says, “is as bold as alion.” (Pr 28,1). Let us bring these lions into our house, and all the wild beasts are put to flight, the lions not needing to roar, but simply to utter their voice. For not so much does the roaring of a lion put the wild beasts to flight, as the prayer of a righteous man puts to flight evil spirits: let him but speak, they cower. And where are such men now to be found, you will say? Everywhere, if we believe, if we seek, if we take pains. Where hast thou sought, tell me? When didst thou take this work in hand? When didst thou make this thy business? But ifthou seekest not, marvel not that thou dost not find. For “he that seeketh findeth” (Mt 7,7), not he that seeketh not. Listen to those who live in deserts: away with thy gold and silver: (such holy men) are to be found in every part of the world. Thoughthou receive not such an one in thy house, yet go thou to him, live with the man, be at his dwelling-place, that thou mayest be able to obtain and enjoy his blessing. For a great thing it is to receive a blessing from the saints: which let us be careful to obtain, that being helped by their prayers we may enjoy mercy from God, through the grace and loving-kindness of His only-begotten Son, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, might, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
1 Kai toutou", meaning perhaps those who remained at Myra.
2 The fast referred to was that which occurred on the great day of atonement (Lv 23,27) 1,e. on the tenth of the seventh month (Tisri). This would be about the end of September, after the autumnal equinox, when navigation was considered dangerous.—G. B. S.
3 Preponderant authority favors the reading eurakulwn from euro", the S. E. wind and the Latin Aquilo, a N. wind (so a
, B* A. Vulgate Erasmus Mill, Bengel, Olshausen, Hackett, Tischendorf, Lachmann, Tregelles, Westcott and Hort, R.V). If eurokaudwn is read, it is disputed whether the first part of the word is euro" (Alford, Gloag, Howson,) or euru", broad. Meyer defends the latter reading, on the ground that the phrase o kaloumeno" requires that the word eur. denote a name and not merely the direction of the wind and that it is easier to suppose that this reading should be modified into the former than the reverse. Alford supposes that eurakulwn was the name of the wind, which the Greek sailors did not understand and pronounced eurokludwn. Meyer’s argument is inadequate, and the probabilities favor the reading eurakludwn with the meaning, N. E. wind, a signification, moreover, which answers all the conditions of the narrative. (See Bib. Dict). sub voce.)—G.B.S.
4 Rather, “on the Syrtis” (ei" thn Surtin). There were two shoals on the coast of Africa, called by this name, the Syrtis Major and the Syrtis Minor. The former to the S. W. of Crete is the one here referred to.—G. B. S.
5 R. V. “they lowered the gear” (skeuo"). The word skeuo"—utensil, implement—is in itself indefinite and must be understood from the context. It has here been taken to mean “anchor;” “mast” (Olshausen); “sail” (Meyer, Lechler, Hackett, A. V).: “gear,” meaning the ropes and topsails in order to set the ship in a direction off shore.—G. B. S).
6 Kai episfiggontai autwn ai yucai). Hom. in Matt. p). 60, A. episf. is applied to the action of salt in stopping corruption; and ib. 167 B. Christians are the salt of the earth, ina episfiggwmen tou" diarreonta". Here in a somewhat similar sense, “the vessel goes to pieces and their (dissolute) souls (which were in danger of going to pieces) are powerfully constricted, held in a close strain, braced to the uttermost.” Mod. text omits this, and for ina mh laqwntai—anaiscuntein, substitutes, “That they may not perish, the corn is thrown out and all the rest.”—Below, all otan kai ta pleiona legh th" sumfora": mod. text absurdly substitutes paratrech: we insert after this the clause tote ta crhsta prolegei which our mss. have below after kai o fobo" marturei).
7 Kai episfiggontai autwn ai yucai). Hom. in Matt. p). 60, A. episf. is applied to the action of salt in stopping corruption; and ib. 167 B. Christians are the salt of the earth, ina episfiggwmen tou" diarreonta". Here in a somewhat similar sense, “the vessel goes to pieces and their (dissolute) souls (which were in danger of going to pieces) are powerfully constricted, held in a close strain, braced to the uttermost.” Mod. text omits this, and for ina mh laqwntai—anaiscuntein, substitutes, “That they may not perish, the corn is thrown out and all the rest.”—Below, all otan kai ta pleiona legh th" sumfora": mod. text absurdly substitutes paratrech: we insert after this the clause tote ta crhsta prolegei which our mss. have below after kai o fobo" marturei).
8 poqen ta sithresia eicon; 1,e. what were they to subsist upon, having thrown out the rest of the corn? But they trusted Paul’s assurance for all.
9 carisasqai 1,e. to the holy man, to be saved for his sake, in like manner as “He gave (kecaristai) to Paul them that sailed with him,” 5,24).
ACTS XVIII. 1.—“And the barbarous people showed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold. And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand.”
“Showed,” he says, “no little kindness to us—barbarians” (as they were1 )—“having kindled a fire:” else it were of no use that their lives be saved, if the wintry weather must destroy them. Then Paul having taken brushwood, laid it on the fire. See how active he is; observe how we nowhere find him doing miracles for the sake of doing them, but only upon emergency. Both during the storm when there was a cause he prophesied, not for the sake of prophesying, and here again in the first instance he lays on brushwood:—nothing for vain display, but (with a simple view) to their being preserved, and enjoyingsome warmth. Then a viper “fastened on his hand. And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live.” (v. 4). Well also was this permitted, that they should both see the thing and utter the thought, in order that, when the result ensued, there might be no disbelieving the miracle. Observe their good feeling (towards the distressed), in saying this (not aloud, but) among themselves—observe (also) the natural judgment clearly expressed even among barbarians, and how they do not condemn without assigning a reason. And these also behold, that they may wonder the more. “And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.” (v. 5, 6). They expected him, it says, to fall down dead: and again, having seen that nothing of the kind happened to him, they said, He is a god. Again (viz. as in ch. 14,11), another excess on the part of these men. “In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously. And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him.” (v. 7, 8). Behold again another hospitable man, Publius, who was both rich and of great possessions: he had seen nothing, but purely out of compassion for their misfortune, he received them, and took care of them. So that he was worthy to receive kindness: wherefore Paul as a requital for his receiving them, “healed him. So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed: who also honored us with many honors; and when we departed, they laded us with such things as were necessary” (v. 9, 10), both us and the rest. See how when they were quit of the storm, they did not become2 more negligent, but what a liberal entertainment was given to them for Paul’s sake: and three months were they there, all of them provided with sustenance. See how all this is done for the sake of Paul, to the end that the prisoners should believe, and the soldiers, and the centurion. For if they were very stone, yet from the counsel they heard him giving, and from the prediction they had heard him making, and from the miracles they knew him to have wrought, and from the sustenance they by his means enjoyed, they must have got a very high notion of him. See, when the judgment is right, and not preoccupied by some passion, how immediately it gets right judgings, and gives sound verdicts. “And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux.3 And landing at Syracuse, we tarried there three days. And from thence we fetched a compass, and came to Rhegium: and after one day the south wind blew, and we came the next day to Puteoli: where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days: and so we went toward Rome. And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and the Three Taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage.” (v. 11–15). Already the preaching has reached to Sicily: see how it has run through (even to those lands): at Puteoli also they found some: others also came to meet them. Such was the eagerness of the brethren, it nothing disconcerted them, that Paul was in bonds. But observe also how Paul himself also was affected after the manner of men. For it says, “he took courage, when he saw the brethren.” Although he had worked so many miracles, nevertheless even from sight he received an accession (of confidence). From this we learn, that he was both comforted after the manner of men, and the contrary. “And when we came to Rome, Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him.” (v. 16). Leave was given him to dwell by himself. No slight proof this also of his being held in much admiration: it is clear they did not number him among the rest. “And it came to pass, that after three days he called together them that were the chief of the Jews.” After three days he called the chief of the Jews, that their ears might not be preoccupied. And what had he in common with them? for they would not (else) have been like to accuse him. Nevertheless, it was not for this that he cared; it was for the teaching that he was concerned, and that what he had to say might not offend them.
(Recapitulation). “And the barbarians,” etc. (v. 2). The Jews then, beholding all the many miracles they did, persecuted and harassed (Paul); but the barbarians, who had seen none, merely on the ground of his misfortune, were kind to him.—“No doubt,” say they, “this man is a murderer:” (v. 4). They do not simply pronounce their judgment, but say, “No doubt,” (i.e). as any one may see “and vengeance,” say they, “suffereth him not to live.” Why then, they held also the doctrine of a Providence, and these barbarians were far more philosophic than the philosophers, who allow not the benefit of a Providence to extend to things “below the moon:” whereas (these barbarians) suppose God to be present everywhere, and that although a (guilty) man may escape many (a danger), he will not escape in the end. And they do not assail him forthwith, but for a time respect him on account of his misfortune: nor do they openly proclaim their surmise, but speak it “among themselves: a murderer;” for the bonds led them to suspect this. “They showed no small kindness,” and yet (some of them) were prisoners. Let those be ashamed that say, Do not do good to those in prison: let these barbarians shame us; for they knew not who these men were, but simply because they were in misfortune (they were kind): thus much they perceived, that they were human beings, and therefore they considered them to have a claim upon their humanity. “And for a great while,” it says, “they expected that he would die.” (v. 6). But when he shook his hand, and flung off the beast, then they saw and were astonished. And the miracle did not take place suddenly, but the men went by the length of time, “after they had looked a great while,” so plainly was there no deceit, no haste here (sunarpagh). “Publius,” it says, “lodged them courteously” (v. 7): two hundred and seventy-six persons. Consider how great the gain of his hospitality: not as of necessity, not as unwilling, but as reckoning it a gain he lodged them for three days: thereafter having met with his requital, he naturally honored Paul much more, when the others also received healing. “Who also,” it says, “honored us with many honors” (v. 10): not that he received wages, God forbid; but as it is written, “The workman is worthy of his meat. And when we departed, they laded us with such things as were necessary.” (Mt 10,10). It is plain that having thus received them, they also received the word of the preaching: for it is not to be supposed, that during an entire three months they would have had all this kindness shown them,4 had these persons not believed strongly, and herein exhibited the fruits (of their conversion): so that from this we may see a strong proof of the great number there was of those that believed. Even this was enough to t establish (Paul’s) credit with those (his fellow-voyagers). Observe how in all this voyage they nowhere touched at a city, but (were cast) on an island, and passed the entire winter (there, or) sailing—those being herein under training for faith, his fellow-voyagers, I mean. (a) “And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux.” (v. 11). Probably this was painted on it: so addicted were they to their idols. (d) “And when the south wind blew, we came the next day to Puteoli: where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days: and so we went toward Rome.” (v. 13, 14). (b) Observe them tarrying a while, and again hasting onwards. (e) “And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and the Three Taverns” (v. 15): not fearing the danger. (c) Paul therefore was now so much respected, that he was even permitted to be by himself: for if even before this they used him kindly, much more would they now. (g) “He was suffered,” it says, “to dwell by himself, with a soldier that kept him.” (v. 16). That it might not be possible for any plot to be laid against him there either—for there could be no raising of sedition now. So that in fact they were not keeping Paul in custody, but guarding him, so that nothing unpleasant should happen: for it was not possible now, in so great a city, and with the Emperor there, and with Paul’s appeal, for anything to be done contrary to order. So surely is it the case, that always through the things which seem to be against us, all things turn out for us. “With the soldier”—for he was Paul’s guard. “And having called together the chief of the Jews” (v. 17), he discourses to them, who both depart gainsaying, and are taunted by him, yet they dare not say anything: for it was not permitted them to deal with his matter at their own will. For this is a marvellous thing, that not by the things which seem to be for our security, but by their very opposites, all comes to be for us. And that you may learn this—Pharaoh commanded the infants to be cast into the river. (Ex 1,22). Unless the infants had been cast forth, Moses would not have been saved, he would not have been brought up in the palace. When he was safe, he was not in honor; when he was exposed, then he was in honor. But God did this, to show His riches of resource and contrivance. The Jew threatened him, saying, “Wouldest thou kill me?” (Ex 14) and this too was of profit to him. It was of God’s providence, in order that he should see that vision in the desert, in order that the proper time should be completed, that he should learn philosophy in the desert, and there live in security. And in all the plottings of the Jews against him the same thing happens: then he becomes more illustrious. As also in the case of Aaron; they rose up against him, and thereby made him more illustrious (Nb 16,17).: that so his ordination should be unquestionable, that he might be held in admiration for the future also from the plates of brass (twn petalwn tou calkou). Of course you know the history: wherefore I pass over the narration. And if ye will, let us go over the same examples from the beginning.
Cain slew his brother, but in this he rather benefited him: for hear what Scripture says, “The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto Me” (Gn 4,10): and again in another place, “To the blood that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” (He 12,24). He freed him from the uncertainty of the future, he increased his reward: we have all learnt hereby what love God had for him. For what was he injured? Not a whit, in that he received his end sooner. For say, what do they gain, who die more slowly? Nothing: for the having good days does not depend on the living many years or few years, but in the using life properly. The Three Children were thrown into the furnace, and through this they became more illustrious: Daniel was cast into the pit, and thence was he made more renowned. (Da 3 Da 6). You see that trials in every case bring forth great good even in this life, much more in the life to come: but as to malice, the case is the same, as if a man having a reed should set himself to fight with the fire: it seems indeed to beat the fire, but it makes it brighter, and only consumes itself. For the malice of the wicked becomes food and an occasion of splendor to virtue: for by God’s turning the unrighteousness to good account, our character shines forth all the more. Again, when the devil works anything of this kind, he makes those more illustrious that endure. How then, you will say, was this not the case with Adam, but, on the contrary, he became more disgraced? Nay, in this case of all others God turned (the malice of) that (wicked one) to good account: but if (Adam) was the worse for it, it was he that injured himself: for it is the wrongs that are done to us by others that become the means of great good to us, not so the wrongs which are done by ourselves. As indeed, because the fact is that when hurt by others, we grieve, but not so when hurt by ourselves, therefore it is that God shows, that he who suffers unjustly at the hands of another, gets renown, but he who injures himself, receives hurt: that so we may bear the former courageously, but not the latter. And besides, the whole thing there was Adam’s own doing. Wherefore didst thou the woman’s bidding? (Gn 3,6). Wherefore when she counselled thee contrary to God), didst thou not repel her? Thou wast assuredly thyself the cause. Else, if the devil was the cause, at this rate all that are tempted ought to perish: but if all do not perish, the cause (of our destruction) rests with ourselves.5 “But,” you will say, “all that are tempted ought (at that rate) to succeed.” No: for the cause is in ourselves. “At that rate it ought to follow that (some) perish without the devil’s having anything to do with it.” Yes: and in fact many do perish without the devil’s being concerned in it: for surely the devil does not bring about all (our evil doings); no, much comes also from our own sluggishness by itself alone: and if he too is anywhere concerned as a cause, it is from our offering the occasion. For say, why did the devil prevail in Judas’ case? When “Satan entered into him” (Jn 13,27), you will say. Yes, but hear the cause: it was because “he was a thief, and bare what was put in the bag.” (Jn 12,6). It was he that himself gave the devil a wide room for entering into him: so that it is not the devil who puts into us the beginning, it is we that receive and invite him. “But,” you will say, “if there were no devil, the evils would not have become great.” True, but then our punishment would admit of no plea for mitigation: but as it is, beloved, our punishment is more mild, whereas if we had wrought the evils of ourselves, the chastisements would be intolerable. For say, if Adam, without any counsel, had committed the sin he did, who would have snatched him out of the dangers? “But he would not have sinned,” you will say? What right hast thou to say this? For he who had so little solidity, that was so inert and so ready for folly as to receive such advice as this, much more would he without any counsel have become this (that he did become). What devil incited the brethren of Joseph to envy? If then we be watchful brethren, the devil becomes to us the cause even of renown. Thus, what was Jb the worse for his falling into such helplessness of distress? “Speak not of this instance,” you will say: “(Job was not the worse,) but the weak person is the worse.” Yes, and the weak person is the worse, even if there be no devil. “But in a greater degree,” you will say, “when there is the devil’s power working along with him.” True, but he is the less punished, when he has sinned through the devil’s working with him; for the punishments are not the same for all sins. Let us not deceive ourselves: the devil is not the cause of our taking harm, if we be watchful:6 rather what he does, is to awake us out of our sleep; what he does, is to keep us on the alert. Let us for a while examine these things: suppose there were no wild beasts, no irregular states of the atmosphere; no sicknesses, no pains, no sorrows, nor anything else of the kind: what would not man have become? A hog rather than a man, revelling in gluttony and drunkenness, and troubled by none of those things. But as it is, cares and anxieties are an exercise and discipline of philosophy, a method for the best of training. For say, let a man be brought up in a palace, having no pain, nor care, nor anxiety, and having neither cause for anger nor failure, but whatever he sets his mind upon, that let him do, in that let him succeed, and have all men obeying him: (see (whether) such a man would not become more irrational than any wild beast. But as it is, our reverses and our afflictions are as it were a whetstone to sharpen us. For this reason the poor are for the most part wiser than the rich, as being driven about and tost by many waves. Thus a body also, being idle and without motion, is sickly and unsightly: but that which is exercised, and suffers labor and hardships, is more comely and healthy: and this we should find to hold also in the case of the soul. Iron also, lying unused, is spoilt, but if worked it shines brightly; and in like manner a soul which is kept in motion. Now these reverses are precisely what keeps the soul in motion. Arts again perish, when the soul is not active: but it is active when it has not everything plain before it: it is made active by adverse things. If there were no adverse things, there would be nothing to stir it: thus, if everything existed ready-made in beautiful sort, art would not have found wherein to exercise itself. So, if all things were level to our understanding, the soul would not find wherein to exert itself: if it had to be carried about everywhere, it would be an unsightly object. See you not, that we exhort nurses not to make a practice of carrying children always, that they may not bring them into a habit (of wanting to be carried) and so make them helpless? This is why those children which are brought up under the eyes of their parents are weak, in consequence of the indulgence, which by sparing them too much injures their health. It is a good thing, even pain in moderation; a good thing, care; a good thing, want; for7 they make us strong: good also are their opposites: but each of these when in excess destroys us; and the one relaxes, but the other (by overmuch tension) breaks us. Seest thou not, that Christ also thus trains His own disciples? If they needed these things, much more do we. But if we need them, let us not grieve, but even rejoice in our afflictions. For these are remedies, answering to our wounds, some of them bitter, others mild; but either of them by itself would be useless. Let us therefore return thanks to God for all these things: for He does not suffer them to happen at random, but for the benefit of our souls. Therefore, showing forth our gratitude, let us return Him thanks, let us glorify Him, let us bear up courageously, considering that it is but for a time, and stretching forward our minds to the things future, that we may both lightly bear the things present, and be counted worthy to attain unto the good things to come, through the grace and mercy of His only begotten Son, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, might, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen).
1 The Maltese, though undoubtedly civilized, were barbaroi in the Greek and Roman sense of speaking an unintelligible language (1Co 14,11). The word might be appropriately rendered “foreigners.” The Maltese were of Phoenician descent and spoke a mixed dialect.—G. B. S).
2 amelesterou" genomenou", 1,e. the impression left on their minds by the storm was not suffered to wear out, when the danger was over. What happened on shore, Paul’s miracles, the kindness and honors shown them by the barbarians for Paul’s sake, all helped to keep them from relapsing into indifference.
3 Or with the sign of the Dioscuri. The reference is to the ships insigne, an image or picture of the divinities Castor and Pollux on the prow of the ship. In the current mythology they were the sons of Jupiter and Leda, and were regarded as the tutelary divinities of sailors.—G. B. S).
4 ou gar an en trimhnw tosoutw dielecqhsan mh sfodra autwn pisteusantwn. (Mod. text tosauta dielecqh). This is evidently corrupt. The context requires (as we have given in the translation), “would not have been so hospitably and liberally entertained, such a number as there were of them, two hundred and seventy-six souls and this for a period of three months:” but in dielecq. perhaps dihlegcqhsan is latent: “they would not have been so honored etc., but rather would have been convicted,” etc.—In what follows, the parts had fallen out of their places thus, 2, 4, 6: 3, 5: 1, 7. Mod. text in e, oti fobhqente" ton kindunon exhlqon, connecting this with the first clause of f, kai tauta ikana ekeinou" pistwsasqai).
5 The dialogue seems to proceed thus. “If the devil was the cause of Adam’s fall, at this rate it ought to follow that all whom the devil tempts should perish (edei kata touto panta" tou" peirazomenou" apollusqai): if this be not the case, as certainly it is not, then, the cause (of our perishing) is with ourselves (ei de mh apolluntai, par hma" h aitia).” Then: AEAllAE edei, fhsi, panta" tou" peirazomenou" katorqoun: ou: par hma" gar h aitia: edei, fhsi, kai cwri" tou diabolou apollusqai. “But,” say you, “(at this rate) all that are tempted ought to succeed (against the Tempter, to come off victorious from the encounter).” No: for the cause (of our being tempted) is with ourselves. “Then people ought to perish even without the devil:” 1,e. ‘It should follow that those who perish, perish independently of the tempter.’ Yes: in fact many do," etc. In the printed text allAE edei—katorqoun, <`85Ÿedei apollusqai are put interrogatively, and in place of the ou par hma" gar h aitia of the mss. (which we point Ou. par hma" g. h. a). it has h, ei par h. h. a).
6 Hom. 23,in Gen. §, 6, p). 215, A. “I exhort you never to lay the blame upon Satan, but upon your own remissness. I say not this to exculpate him, for he ‘goeth about,’ etc. 1P 5,8, but to put ourselves in more security, that we may not exculpate ourselves when we so easily go over to the evil one, that we may not speak those heartless, senseless words, ‘Why has God left the evil one so much freedom to seduce men.’ These words betoken the greatest ingratitude. Consider this: God has left him that freedom, to this very end, that by fear of the enemy he may keep us ever watchful and sober.”
7 The printed text, iscurou" gar hma" poiei kala kai ta enantia. Ben., fortes enim nos reddunt quoe bona et contraria sunt. But kala kai ta enantia clearly answers to kalon kai luph summetro", kalon kai fronti", kalon kai endeia. Only it may be doubted whether ta enantia is to be taken here as above, "Good also are adverse things, or, “their opposites,” 1,e. “freedom from sorrow, and care, and want, if in moderation.” But the context speaks for the latter: viz. “(In moderation), for each of them (both these things and of their opposites) being out of measure destroys: and as the one leaves no solidity or stability (kai to men caunoi, 1,e. immoderate joy, ease, comfort), so the other by excessive tension breaks.”—So below by tauta we understand “these things and their opposites,” which are described as ta men pikra, ta de hmera (mod text hdea)).
Chrysostom on Acts 5300