Chrysostom on Acts 4500
ACTS XX. 32.—“And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them that are sanctified.”
What he does when writing in an Epistle, this he does also when speaking in council: from exhorting, he ends with prayer: for since he had much alarmed them by saying, “Grievous wolves shall enter in among you” (v. 29), therefore, not to overpower them, and make them lose all self-possession, observe the consolation (he gives). “And now,” he says, as always, "I commend you, brethren, to God, and to the word of His grace: that is, to His grace: it is grace that saveth. He constantly puts them in mind of grace, to make them more earnest as being debtors, and to persuade them to have confidence. “Which is able to build you up.”1 He does not say, to build, but, “to build up,” showing that they had (already) been built. Then he puts them in mind of the hope to come; “to give you an inheritance,” he says, “among all them which are sanctified.” Then exhortation again: “I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.” (v. 33). He takes away that which is the root of evils, the love of money. “Silver, or gold,” he says. He says not, I have not taken, but, not even “coveted.” No great thing this, but what follows after is great. “Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have showed you all things, how that so laboring, ye ought to support the weak.” (v. 34, 35). Observe him employed in work and not simply that, but toiling. “These hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me:” so as to put them to shame. And see how worthily of them. For he says not, Ye ought to show yourselves superior to money, but what? “to support the weak”—not all indiscriminately—“and to hear the word of the Lord which He spake, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”2 For lest any one should think that it was spoken with reference to them, and that he gave himself for an ensample, as he elsewhere says, “giving an ensample to you” (Ph 3,17), he added the declaration of Christ, Who said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” He prayed over them while exhorting them: he shows it both by action,—“And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all,” (v. 36)—he did not simply pray, but with much feeling: (katanuxew"): great was the consolation—and by his saying, “I commend you to the Lord. And 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.” (v. 37, 38). He had said, that “grievous wolves should enter in;” had said, “I am pure from the blood of all men:” and yet the thing that grieved them most of all was this, “that they should see him no more:” since indeed it was this that made the war grievous. “And they accompanied them,” it says, “unto the ship. And it came to pass, that after we had torn ourselves from them”—so much did they love him, such was their affection towards him—“and had launched, we came with a straight course unto Coos, and the day following unto Rhodes, and from thence unto Patara: and finding a ship sailing over unto Phenicia, we went aboard, and set forth. Now when we had discovered Cyprus, we left it on the left hand, and sailed into Syria, and landed at Tyre” (): he came to Lycia, add having left Cyprus, he sailed down to Tyre—“for there the ship was to unlade her burden. And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.” (v. 4). They too prophesy of the afflictions. It is so ordered that they should be spoken by them also, that none might imagine that Paul said those things without cause, and only by way of boasting. And there again they part from each other with prayer. “And when we had accomplished those days, we departed, and went our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed. And when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship; and they returned home again. And when we had finished our course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day. And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.” (v. 5–8). Having come to Caesarea, it says, we abode with Philip, which was one of the seven. “And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.” (v. 9). But it is not these that foretell to Paul, though they were prophetesses; it is Agabus. “And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judea a certain prophet, named Agabus. And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.” (v. 10, 11). He who formerly had declared about the famine, the same says, This “man, who owneth this girdle, thus shall they bind.” (ch. 11,28). The same that the prophets used to do, representing events to the sight, when they spoke about the captivity—as did Ezekiel—the same did this (Agabus). “And,” what is the grievous part of the business, “deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.” (v. 12). Many even besought him not to depart, and still he would not comply. “Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart?”3 (v. 13). Do you mark? Lest, having heard that saying, “I go bound in the Spirit” (ch. 20,22), you should imagine it a matter of necessity, or that he fell into it ignorantly, therefore these things are foretold. But they wept, and he comforted them, grieving at their tears. For, “what mean ye,” he says, “to weep and to break my heart?” Nothing could be more affectionate: because he saw them weeping, he grieved, he that felt no pain at his own trials. “For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.” (v. 13, 14). Ye do me wrong in doing this: for do I grieve? Then they ceased, when he said, “to break my heart.” I weep, he says, for you, not on account of my own sufferings: as for those (men), I am willing even to die for them. But let us look over again what has been said.
(Recapitulation). “Silver, or gold, or apparel,” etc. (ch. 20,33, 34; 1Co ix; 2Co xi). So then, it was not in Corinth only that they did this4 —they that corrupted the disciples, but in Asia as well. But he nowhere casts this up as a reproach to the Ephesians, when writing to them. And why? Because he did not fall upon any subject that obliged him to speak of this. But to the Corinthians he says, “My boasting has not been stopped in the regions of Achaia.” (2Co 11,10). And he does not say, Ye did not give to me; but, “Silver, or gold, or apparel, I coveted not,” that it might not seem to be their doing, that they had not given. And he does not say, From no man have I coveted the necessaries of life, that again it might not look like accusing them: but he covertly hints as much, seeing that he provided subsistence for others as well as himself. See how he worked with earnestness, “night and day” discoursing (to others), “with tears warning each one of them.” (v. 31). (Here) again he puts them in fear: “I have showed you all things,” he says: ye cannot take refuge in the plea of ignorance: “have shown you” by works “how that so laboring ye ought to work.” And he does not say, that to receive is bad, but that not to receive is better. For, “remember,” he says, “the words of the Lord which he spake: It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (v. 35). And where said He this? Perhaps the Apostles delivered it by unwritten tradition; or else it is plain from (recorded sayings, from) which one could infer it.5 For in fact here he has shown both boldness in meeting dangers, sympathy with those over whom he ruled, teaching with (unshrinking) boldness, humility, (voluntary) poverty: but, what we have here is even more than that poverty. For if He says there (in the Gospel), “If thou wilt be perfect, sell what thou hast and give to the poor” (Mt 19,21), when, besides receiving nothing himself, he provides sustenance for others also, what could equal this? It is one degree to fling away one’s possessions; a second, to be sufficient for the supply of one’s own necessities: a third, to provide for others also; a fourth, for one (to do all this) who preaches and has a right to receive. So that here is a man far better than those who merely forego possessions. “Thus it is right to support the weak:” this is (indeed) sympathy with the weak; for to give from the labors of others, is easy. “And they fell on his neck,” it says, “and wept.” (v. 37). He shows their affection also by saying, “Upon his neck,” as taking a last and yet a last embrace, such was the love they conceived from his discourse, such the spell of love that bound them. For if we groan when simply parting from each other, although we know that we shall receive one another back again, what a tearing away of themselves it must have been to them! Methinks Paul also wept. “Having torn ourselves away,” he says: he shows the violence of it by saying, “having torn ourselves away from them.” And with reason: otherwise they could never have got to sea. What means, “We came with a straight course unto Coos?” Instead of saying, “we did not go round nor make stay in other places.” Then “unto Rhodes.” (ch. 21,1). See how he hastes on. And finding a ship sailing over unto Phenicia. (v. 2). Possibly that ship (in which they had come) was making a stay there: wherefore they shifted to another, and not having found one going to Caesarea, but (finding this) for Phenice, they embarked in it (and pursued their voyage), having left Cyprus also and Syria: but the expression, “having left it on the left hand,” is not said simply (in that meaning), but that they made speed not to get to Syria either.6 “We landed at Tyre.” (v. 3). Then they tarry with the brethren seven days. Now that they were come near to Jerusalem, they no longer run. (b)“Who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.” (v. 4). Observe how, when the Spirit does not forbid, he complies. They said, “Adventure not thyself into the theatre, and he did not adventure” (ch. 19,31): often they bore him off (from dangers), and he complied: again he escaped by a window: and now, though numberless persons, so to say, beseech him, both those at Tyre and those at Caesarea, weeping also and predicting numberless dangers, he refuses to comply. And yet it is not (merely), they predicted the dangers, but “said by the Spirit.” If then the Spirit bade, why did he gainsay? “By the Spirit,” that is, they knowing “by the Spirit” (what would be the consequences, said to him): for of course it does not mean that the exhortation they made was by the Spirit. For they did not simply foretell to him the dangers (through the Spirit), but (added of themselves) that it behooved him not to go up—sparing him. But “after we had accomplished the days,” 1,e. had fulfilled the appointed days, “we separated, and went on our way: they all bringing us on our way with wives and children.” (v. 5).—See how great was the entreaty. And again they part with prayer. Also in Ptolemais they stay one day, but in Caesarea many. (v. 6–8). (a) Now that they are near to Jerusalem, they no longer hurry. For observe, I pray you, all the days. “After the day of unleavened bread” they came “to Troas in five days” (ch. 20,6); then they there spent “seven;” in all, twelve: then to “Thasos,” to “Mytilene,” to “Trogylium” and “over against Chios,” and to “Samos” and “Miletus” (ib. 13–17); eighteen in all. Then to “Cos,” to “Rhodes,” to “Patara,” twenty-one: then say7 five to “Tyre;” twenty-six: there “seven;” thirty-three; “Ptolemais,” thirty-four; then to “Caesarea, many days” (ch. 21,1–10); and then, thereafter, the prophet puts them up thence. (c)When Paul has heard that he has to suffer numberless perils, then he is in haste, not flinging himself upon the dangers but accounting it to be the command of the Spirit. (e) And Agabus does not say, “They shall bind” Paul, that he may not seem to speak upon agreement (with Paul), but “the man that owneth this girdle” (v. 11)—so then he had a girdle also.8 But when they could not persuade him—this was why they wept—then they “held their peace.” Do you mark the resignation? do you mark the affection? “They held their peace,” it says, “saying, The will of the Lord be done.” (v. 12–14). (g)
The Lord, say they, Himself will do that which is pleasing in his sight. For they perceived that it was the will of God. Else Paul would not be so bent (upon going)—he that on all (other occasions delivers himself out of dangers. (d) “And after these, days,” it says, “having taken up our baggage”—i. e. having received the (supplies) necessary for the journey—“we went up to Jerusalem.” (v. 15). “And there went with us also certain of the disciples from Caesarea, bringing us to one with whom we should lodge, one Mnason, an ancient disciple of Cyprus.”9 (v. 16). “And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.” (v. 17). (f) “Bringing us,” it says, “(to him) with whom we should lodge”—not to the church: for on the former occasion (ch. 15,4), when they went up concerning the decrees, they lodged with the Church, but now with a certain “ancient disciple.” (The expression) shows that the preaching had been going on a long time: whence it seems to me that this writer in the Acts epitomizes the events of many years, relating (only) the matters of chief importance. (h) So unwilling were they to burthen the Church, when there was another to lodge them; and so little did they stand upon their dignity. “The brethren,” it says, “received us gladly.” Affairs among the Jews were now full of peace: there was not much warfare (among them). “Bringing us,” it says, “to one with whom we should lodge.” Paul was the guest he entertained. Perchance some one of you says: Aye, if it were given me to entertain Paul as a guest, I readily and with much eagerness would do this. Lo! it is in thy power to entertain Paul’s Master for thy guest, and thou wilt not: for “he that receiveth one of these least,” he saith, “receiveth Me.” (Mt 18,5 Lc 9,48). By how much the brother may be least, so much the more does Christ come to thee through him. For he that receives the great, often does it from vainglory also; but he that receives the small, does it purely for Christ’s sake. It is in thy power to entertain even the Father of Christ as thy guest, and thou will not: for,10 “I was a stranger,” He says, “and ye took me in” (Mt 25,35): and again, “Unto one of the least of these the brethren that believe on Me, ye have done it unto Me.” (Mt 25,40). Though it be not Paul, yet if it be a believer and a brother, although the least, Christ cometh to thee through him. Open thine house, take Him in. “He that receiveth a prophet,” He saith, “shall receive a prophet’s reward.” (Mt 10,41). Therefore too he that receives Christ, shall receive the reward of him who has Christ for his guest.11 Do not thou disbelieve His words, but be believing. Himself hath said, Through them I come to thee: and that thou mayest not disbelieve, He lays down both punishments for those who do not receive, and honors for those who do receive; since He would not have done this, unless both the person honored and the person insulted were Himself. “Thou receivedst Me,” He saith, “into thy lodging, I will receive thee into the Kingdom of My Father; thou tookest away My hunger, I take away thy sins; thou sawest Me bound, I see thee loosed; thou sawest Me a stranger, I make thee a citizen of heaven; thou gavest Me bread, I give thee an entire Kingdom, that thou mayest inherit and possess it.” He saith not, “Receive,” but, “Inherit,” the word which is spoken of those who have possession by right of ownership; as when we say, “This have I inherited.” Thou didst it to Me in secret, I will proclaim it openly: and of thine acts indeed I say, that they were of free gift, but Mine are of debt. “For since thou,” He saith, “didst begin, I follow and come after: I am not ashamed to confess the benefits conferred on Me, nor from what things thou didst free Me, hunger and nakedness and wandering. Thou sawest Me bound, thou shalt not behold the fire of hell; thou sawest Me sick, thou shalt not behold the torments nor the punishments.” O hands, truly blessed, which minister in such services as these, which are accounted worthy to serve Christ! Feet which go into prisons for Christ’s sake, with ease defy the fire: no trial of bonds have they, (the hands)12 which saw Him bound! Thou clothedst Him with a garment, and thou puttest on a garment of salvation: thou wast in prison with Him, and with Him thou findest thyself in the Kingdom, not ashamed, knowing that thou visitedst Him. The Patriarch knew not that he was entertaining Angels, and he did entertain them. (Gn 18,3). Let us take shame to ourselves, I beseech you: he was sitting in mid-day, being in a foreign land, where he had none inheritance, “not so much as to set his foot on” (ch. 7,5): he was a stranger, and the stranger entertained strangers: for he was a citizen of heaven. Therefore, not even while he was on earth was he a stranger (to Him). We are rather strangers than that stranger, if we receive not strangers. He had no home, and his tent was his place of reception. And mark his liberality—he killed a calf, and kneaded fine meal: mark his ready mind—by himself and his wife: mark the unassuming manner—he worships and beseeches them. For all these qualities ought to be in that man who entertains strangers—readiness, cheerfulness, liberality. For the soul of the stranger is abashed, and feels ashamed; and unless (his host) show excessive joy, he is as (if) slighted, and goes away, and it becomes worse than not to have received him, his being received in this way. Therefore he worships them, therefore he welcomes them with speech, therefore with a seat. For who would have hesitated, knowing that this work was done unto Him? “But we are not in a foreign land.” If we will, we shall be able to imitate him. How many of the brethren are strangers? There is a common apartment, the Church, which we call the “Xenon.” Be inquisitive (periergazesqe), sit before the doors, receive those who come yourselves; though you may not wish to take them into your houses, at any rate in some other way (receive them), by supplying them with necessaries. “Why, has not the Church means” you will say? She has: but what is that to you? that they should be fed from the common funds of the Church, can that benefit you? If another man prays, does it follow that you are not bound to pray? Wherefore do you not say, “Do not the priests pray? then why should I pray?” “But I,” you will say, “give to him who cannot be received there.” Give, though it be to that one: for what we are anxious for is this, that you should give at any rate. Hear what Paul says: “That it may relieve them that are widows indeed, and that the Church be not burdened.” (1Tm 5,16). Be it how you will, only do it.
But I put it, not, “that the Church be not burdened,” but, “that thou be not burdened;” for at this rate thou wilt do nothing, leaving all to the Church. This is why there is a common room set apart by the Church, that you may not say these things. “The Church,” say you, “has lands,13 has money, and revenues.” And has she not charges? I ask; and has she not a daily expenditure? “No doubt,” you will say. Why then do you not lend aid to her moderate means? I am ashamed indeed to say these things: however, I compel no man, if any one imagines what I am saying to be for gain. Make for yourself a guest-chamber in your own house: set up a bed there, set up a table there and a candlestick. (comp. 2R 4,10). For is it not absurd, that whereas, if soldiers should come, you have rooms set apart for them, and show much care for them, and furnish them with everything, because they keep off from you the visible war of this world, yet strangers have no place where they might abide? Gain a victory over the Church. Would you put us to shame? This do: surpass us in liberality: have a room, to which Christ may come; say, “This is Christ’s cell; this building is set apart for Him.” Be it but an underground14 chamber, and mean, He disdains it not. “Naked and a stranger,” Christ goes about, it is but a shelter He wants: afford it, though but this. Be not uncompassionate, nor inhuman; be not so earnest in worldly matters, so cold in spiritual. Let also the most faithful of thy servants be the one entrusted with this office, and let him bring in the maimed, the beggars, and the homeless. These things I say to shame you. For ye ought indeed to receive them in the upper part of your house; but if ye will not do this, then though it be below, though but where thy mules are housed, and thy servants, there receive Christ. Perchance ye shudder at hearing this. What then, when ye do not even this? Behold, I exhort, behold, I bid you; let this be a matter to be taken up in earnest. But ye do not wish it thus, perhaps? Do it some other way. There are many poor men and poor women: set apart some one (of these) constantly to remain there: let the poor man be (thine inmate) though but as a guard to thy house: let him be to thee wall and fence, shield and spear. Where alms are, the devil dares not approach, nor any other evil thing. Let us not overlook so great a gain. But now a place is set apart for a chariot, and for litters (basternioi") another; but for Christ Who is wandering, not even one! Abraham received the strangers in the place where he abode himself; his wife stood in the place of a servant, the guests in the place of masters. He knew not that he was receiving Christ; knew not that he was receiving Angels; so that had he known it, he would have lavished his whole substance. But we, who know that we receive Christ, show not even so much zeal as he did who thought that he was receiving men. “But they are impostors,” you will say, “many of them, and unthankful.” And for this the greater thy reward. when thou receivest for the sake of Christ’s name. For if thou knowest indeed that they are impostors, receive them not into thy house: but if thou dost not know this, why dost thou accuse them lightly? “Therefore I tell them to go to the receiving house.” But what kind of excuse is there for us, when we do not even receive those whom we know, but shut our doors against all? Let our house be Christ’s general receptacle: let us demand of them as a reward, not money, but that they make our house the receptacle for Christ; let us run about everywhere, let us drag them in, let us seize our booty: greater are the benefits we receive than what we confer. He does not bid thee kill a calf: give thou bread to the hungry, raiment to the naked, shelter to the stranger. But that thou mayest not make this thy pretext, there is a common apartment, that of the Church; throw thy money into that, and then thou hast received them: since (Abraham) there had the reward of those things also which were done by his servants. “He gave the calf to a young man, and he hasted to dress it.” (Gn 18,7). So well trained were his servants also! They ran, and murmured not as ours do: for he had made them pious. He drew them out to war, and they murmured not: so well disciplined were they. (Gn 14,14). For he had equal care for all as for himself: he all but said as Jb did, “We were alike formed in the same womb.” (Jb 33,6). Therefore let us also take thought for their salvation, and let us make it our duty to care for our servants, that they may be good; and let our servants also be instructed in the things pertaining to God. Then will virtue not be difficult to us, if we train them orderly. Just as in war, when the soldiers are well-disciplined, the general carries on war easily, but the contrary happens, when this is not so; and when the sailors too are of one mind, the pilot easily handles the rudder-strings; so here likewise. For say now, if thy servants have been so schooled, thou wilt not be easily exasperated, thou wilt not have to find fault, wilt not be made angry, wilt not need to abuse them. It may be, thou wilt even stand in awe of thy servants, if they are worthy of admiration, and they will be helpers with thee, and will give thee good counsel. But from all these shall all things proceed that are pleasing to God, and thus shall the whole house be filled with blessing, and we, performing things pleasing to God, shall enjoy abundant succor from above, unto which may we all attain, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost, together be glory, might, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen).
1 The phrase “which is able” (tw dunamenw) may be connected with the word “God,” or with “the word of His grace.” As standing nearer the latter, this would be the natural construction. So our author has taken it, understanding by “the word of His grace” rather the grace itself than the doctrine concerning it. Most critics have preferred to connect the phrase with tw qew on the ground that it is more appropriate to ascribe the giving of an inheritance among the sanctified directly to God than to His word. (So DeWette, Meyer, Alford, Gloag).—G. B. S).
2 By “the weak” Chrys. evidently understands the physically weak, the sick and poor (see (the Recapitulation) and we think correctly as opposed to the “weak in faith.” The apostle counsels labor in order to liberality toward the needy. So Olshausen, DeWette, Hackett, Gloag, Alford, vs. Neander, Tholuck, Lechler, Meyer.—G. B. S.
3 The remainder of 5,13 and 14 we have removed from this to its proper place).
4 Ouk ara en Korinqw touto eirgasanto monon oi diafqeironte" tou" maqhta" k. t. l. One would have expected eirgasato monon, kai ouc w" oi d. But the connection, not fully expressed, may be this : “So different from those “grievous wolves not sparing the flock,” the false teachers who would make a gain of them! So then” etc.
5 Some text or texts of the Gospels should be supplied here : beginning perhaps like the next-sentence with a Kai gar.
6 By Syria he seems here to mean the northern parts, about Antioch. “They left Cyprus on the left, but nearer to it than the opposite coast of Syria, because he did not wish to come near that either.” Mod. text “This is not said idly, but to show that he did not think fit even to come near it (Cyprus), they sailing straight for Syria.” What follows required transposition : the derangement, 2, 1 : 3, 5, 7 : 4, 6, 8).
7 A. C. Cat. (in B. the original characters are written over by a later hand), Eita boulhqhnai pente ei" Turon. Perhaps boulei qeinai. Mod. text eita ekeiqen di hmerwn pente.
8 Hom. 10,in Matt. E. “But why, you may ask, did he (the Baptist) use a girdle also with his garment? This was a custom with the ancients, before this present soft and dissolute fashion of ours came in. Thus Peter appears girdled, and Paul likewise: as it says, ’The man that owneth this girdle.”
9 The meaning of the latter part of 5,16 (agonte" par w xenisqwmen Mnaswni tini Kupriw k. t. l). according to Chrys., is that the disciples from Caesarea conducted Paul to the house of Mnason at Jerusalem where he was to lodge, not (as our Eng. vss)., that they brought with them Mnason on their journey from Caesarea to Jerusalem. The former seems the preferable view as there is nothing in the context to intimate that Mnason was at this time in Caesarea and his residence was evidently Jerusalem. The construction of attraction is also equally well resolved in this way.—G. B. S.
10 Here supply, “He that receiveth Me. receiveth Him that sent Me.”
11 oukoun kai o Criston should it be Cristianon?) decomeno", lhyetai misqon tou Xriston xenizono".—Ben, renders the latter clause, recipiet mercedem Christi peregrnantis.
12 All our mss. omit ceire", but the text ai dedemenon auton idousai requires more than this for its emendation. Below. before “not ashamed.” mod. text inserts, “These things He (Christ) confesseth.”
13 AEAllAE ecei iouga h ekklhsia. On iouga, juga, see p. 74. Here also B). iugga., mod. text substitutes dapanhmata).
14 A). b.c. kan katagwgion h so Morel. Ben. But E. has here preserved the true reading katwgeon, so Savil. with marg). katagaion).
ACTS XXI. 18, 19.—“And the day following Paul went in with us unto James: and all the elders were present. And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.”
This was the Bishop of Jerusalem; and to him (Paul) is sent on an earlier occasion. This (James) was brother of the Lord; a great and admirable man. (To him, it says,) “Paul entered in with us.” Mc the (Bishop’s) unassuming behavior: “and the elders” (were present). Again Paul relates to them the things relating to the Gentiles, not indulging in vainglory, God forbid, but wishing to show forth the mercy of God, and to fill them with great joy. (ch. xv). See accordingly: “when they heard it,” it says, “they glorified God,”—not praised nor admired Paul: for in such wise had he narrated, as referring all to Him— “and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believed.” Observe with what modest deference they too speak: “they said to him:” not (James) as Bishop discourses authoritatively, but they take Paul as partner with them in their view; “Thou seest, brother:” as though immediately and at the outset apologizing for themselves, and saying, “We did not wish this. Seest thou! the necessity of the thing? ‘how many thousands,’ say they, ‘of Jews there are which’ have come together.” And they say not, “how many thousands we have made catechumens,” but, “there are. And these,” say they, “are all zealous for the law.” (v. 20). Two reasons—the number of them, and their views. For neither had they been few, would it have been right to despise them: nor, if they were many and did not all cling to the law, would there have been need to make much account of them. Then also a third cause is given: “And they all,” it says, “have been informed of thee”—they say not,“have heard,” but kathchqhsan, that is, so they have believed, and have been taught, “that thou teachest apostasy from Moses to all the Jews which are among the Gentiles, by telling them not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.” (v. 21). “What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come. Do therefore this that we say to thee” (v. 22, 23): they say these things as advising, not as commanding. “We have four men which have a vow on them ;them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them.” Make thy defence in act, not in word—“ that they may shave themselves,” it says, “and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law” (v. 23, 24): they say not, “teachest,” but, of superabundance, “that thou thyself also keepest the law.” For of course not this was the matter of chief interest, whether he did not teach others, but, that he did himself observe the law. “What then” (he might say), “if the Gentiles should learn it? I shall injure them.” How so? say they, seeing that even we, the teachers of the Jews, have sent unto them. “As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have, written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.” (v. 25). Here with a kind of remonstrance (entreptikw"), As “we,” say they, commanded them, although we are preachers to the Jews, so do thou, although a preacher to the Gentiles, cooperate with us. Observe Paul: he does not say, “Well, but I can bring forward Timothy, whom I circumcised: well, but I can satisfy them by what I have to say (of myself) :” but he complied, and did all: for in fact thus was it expedient (to do).1 For it was one thing to take (effectual) measures for clearing himself, and another to have done these things without the knowledge of any (of the parties). It was a step open to no suspicion, the fact of his even bearing the expenses. “Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, signifying the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.” (v. 26). “Signifying,” diaggellwn, i.e). kataggellwn, publicly notifying: so that it was he who made himself conspicuous. “And when the seven days were about to be completed, the Jews from Asia”—for (his arrival) most keeps times with theirs2 —“when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him, crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men everywhere against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.” (v. 27, 28). Mc their habitual conduct, how turbulent we everywhere find it, how men who with or without reason make a clamor in the midst.3 “For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple. And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple and forthwith the doors were shut,” (v. 29, 30). “Men of Israel,” it says, “help: this is the man that (teaches) against the people, and the law, and this place.”—the things which most trouble them, the Temple and the Law. And Paul does not tax the Apostles with being the cause of these things to him. “And they drew him,” it says, “out of the Temple: and the doors were shut.” For they wished to kill him; and therefore were dragging him out, to do this with greater security. “And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the tribune of the cohort, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the tribune and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul. Then the tribune came near, and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains;and demanded who he was, and what he had done. And some cried one thing, some another, among the multitude.” (v. 31–34). But the tribune having come down delivered him, and “commanded him to be bound with two chains :” (hereby) appeasing the anger of the people. “And when he could not know the certainty for the tumult, he commanded him to be carried into the castle. And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the people. For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, Away with him!” (v. 34–36). What means, “Away with him?” that is, what they say with us according to the Roman custom,To the standards with him!4 “And as Paul was to be led into the castle, he said unto the tribune, May I speak unto thee?” (v. 37). In the act of being borne along up the stairs, he requests to say something to the tribune: and observe how quietly he does it. “May I speak unto thee?” he says. “Who said, Canst thou speak Greek? Art thou not then that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers?” (v. 38). For (this Egyptian) was a revolutionary and seditious person. With regard to this then Paul clears himself, and5
(Recapitulation). “Do therefore this that we say unto thee,” etc. (v. 23, 24). He shows that it was not necessary to do this upon principle (prohgoumenw")—whence also they obtain his compliance—but that it was economy and condescension.6 “As touching the Gentiles,” etc. (v. 25). Why, then, this was no hindrance to the preaching, seeing they themselves legislated for them to this effect. Why, then,7 in his taking Peter to task he does not absolutely (aplw") charge him with doing wrong: for precisely what he does on this occasion himself, the same does Peter on that occasion, (merely) holding his peace, and establishing his doctrine. (Ga 2,11). And he says not, For why? it is not right to teach those among the Gentiles. “It is not enough to have not (so) preached there, but there was need also to do something more, that those may be persuaded that thou observest the law. The affair is one of condescension, be not alarmed.” They do not advise him (to this course) sooner, until they have first spoken of the economy and the gain. “And besides, the doing this in Jerusalem, is a thing to be borne. ‘Do thou this thing therefore’ here, that it may be in thy power abroad to do the other.” (b) “The next day,” it says, “he took them” (v. 26): he deferred it not; for when there is economy in the case, this is the way of it. (a) “Jews from Asia having seen him,” for it was natural that they were spending some days there, “in the Temple.” (v. 27). (c) Mc the economy (of Providence) that appeared (in this). (p. 279 note 1) After the (believing) Jews had been persuaded (concerning him), then it is that those (Jews of Asia) set upon him in order that those (believing Jews) may not also set upon him. Help, say they, “ye men of Israel!” as though it were some (monster) difficult to be caught, and hard to be overcome, that has fallen into their hands. “All men,” they say, “everywhere, he teaseth not to teach;” not here only. And then the accusation (is) more aggravated by the present circumstances. “And yet more,” say they, “he has polluted the temple, having brought into it men who are Greeks.” (v. 28). And yet in Christ’s time there “came up (Greeks) to worship” (Jn 12,20): true, but here it speaks of Greeks who had no mind to worship. “And they seized Paul,” etc. (v. 30–35). They no longer wanted laws nor courts of justice: they also beat him. But he forbore to make his defence then; he made it afterward: with reason; for they would not even have heard him then. Pray, why did they cry, “Away with him?” (v. 36). They feared he might escape them. Observe how submissively Paul speaks to the tribune. “May I speak unto thee? Then art not thou that Egyptian?” (v. 37, 38). This Egyptian, namely, was a cheat and impostor, and the devil expected to cast a cloud over (the Gospel) through him, and implicate both Christ and His Apostles in the charges pertaining to those (imposters): but he prevailed nothing, nay the truth became even more brilliant, being nothing defeated by the machinations of the devil, nay rather shining forth all the more. Since if there had not been impostors, and then these (Christ and His Apostles) had prevailed, perhaps some one might have laid hold upon this: but when those impostors did actually appear, this is the wonder. “In order,” says (the Apostle), “that they which are approved may be made manifest.” (1Co 11,19). And Gamaliel says, “Before these days stood up Theudas.”8 Then let us not grieve that heresies exist, seeing that false Christs wished to attack even Christ both before this and after; with a view to throw Him into the shade, but on every occasion we find the truth shining out transparent. So it was with the Prophets: there were false prophets, and by contrast with these they shone the more: just as disease enhances health, and darkness light, and tempest calm. There is no room left for the Greeks to say that (our teachers) were impostors and mountebanks: for those (that were such) were exposed. It was the same in the case of Moses: God suffered the magicians, on purpose that Moses might not be suspected to be a magician: He let them teach all men to what length magic can go in making a fantastic show: beyond this point they deceived not, but themselves confessed their defeat. Impostors do us no harm, rather do us good, if we will apply our mind to the matter. What then, you will say, if we are partners with them in common estimation? The estimation is not among us, but with those who have no judgment. Let not us greatly care for the estimation of the many, nor mind it more than needs. To God we live, not to men: in heaven we have our conversation, not on earth: there lie the awards and the prizes of our labors, thence we look for our praises, thence for our crowns. Thus far let us trouble ourselves about men—that we do not give and afford them a handle against us. But if, though we afford none, those choose to accuse us thoughtlessly and without discrimination, let us laugh, not9 weep. “Provide” thou “things honest before the Lord and before men” (2Co 8,21): if, though thou provide things honest, that man derides, give thyself no more concern (for that). Thou hast thy patterns in the Scriptures. For, saith he, “do I now persuade men or God?” (Ga 1,10) and again, “We persuade men, but we are made manifest unto God.” (2Co 5,11). And Christ (spoke) thus of them that take offence: "Let them alone, they be blind guides of the blind (Mt 15,14); and again, “Woe unto you, when all men speak well of you” (Lc 6,26): and again, “Let your works shine, that men may see, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Mt 5,16). And, “Whoso shall offend one of these little ones, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Mt 18,6).
These sayings are not contrary, nay, they are exceedingly in accord. For when the offence is with us, then woe unto us, but when not with us, not so. And again, Woe to (that man) through whom “the name of God is blasphemed.” (Rm 2,24). How then if I do what is right in anything, but another blasphemes? That is nothing to me, but only to him: for through him (God) was blasphemed. “And how is it possible to do what is right in anything, and ,yet give a handle to the rest?” Whence will ye that. I bring examples—from present, or from old times? Not to be easily scared (yofodeei"), shall we speak to the very point now in hand? Paul judaized in Jerusalem, but in Antioch not so: he judaized, and they were offended (p. 282, note 3), but those had no right to be offended. He is said to have saluted both Nero’s cupbearer and his concubine:10 what, think ye, must they have said against him because of this? But they had no right to do so. Since, if he drew them to him for11 loose living or any wicked acts, one might well be offended: but if in order to right living, what is there to be offended at? Let me mention something that happened to one of my acquaintance. The wrath of God once fell upon (a city), and he being very young (was) in the order of deacon. The bishop was absent at the time, and of the presbyters none took thought for the matter, but indiscriminately they caused in one night immense numbers12 of people to be baptized all at once, and they did indiscriminately receive baptism, all of them ignorant of everything: these he took apart by a hundred or two hundred together, and discoursed to them, not upon any other subject, but only on the sacraments, so that the unbaptized also were not allowed to be present. Many thought he did this because he coveted rule. But he cared not for that: neither however did he continue the thing for a (longer) time, but immediately desisted. When then? Was he the cause of the scandal? I think not. For if indeed he had done this without cause, they might with reason have ascribed it to him: and so again, if he had continued to do so. For when aught of what is pleasing to God is hindered by another’s taking offence, it is right to take no notice: but then is the time to mind it, when we are not forced because of him to offend God. For, say, if, while we are discoursing and putting drunkards to shame (skwptontwn), any one take offence—am I to give over speaking? Hear Christ say, “Will ye also go away?” (Jn 6,67). So then, the right thing is, neither to take no notice, nor to take too much, of the weakness of the many. Do we not see the physicians acting thus: how, when it may be done, they humor the whims of their patients, but when the gratification does harm, then they will not spare? Always it is good to know the right mean. Many reviled, because a certain beautiful virgin stayed, and they railed upon those who catechised (her). What then? Was it their duty to desist for that? By no means. For let us not look to this only, whether some be offended, but whether they are justly offended, and13 so that it is no hurt to ourselves (to give way). “If meat,” saith (Paul), “offend my brother, I will eat no meat as long as the world lasts.” (1Co 8,13). With reason: for the not eating did (him) no harm. If however it offend him, that I wish to renounce (apotaxasqai) (the world), it is not right to mind him. And whom, you will ask, does this offend? Many, to my knowledge. When therefore the hindrance is a thing indifferent, let (the thing) be done14 . Else, if we were to look only to this, many are the things we have to desist from: just as, on the other hand, if we should despise (all objections), we have to destroy many (brethren). As in fact Paul also took thought beforehand concerning offence: “Lest,” he says, “in this liberality which is administered by us:” for it was attended with no loss (to him) to obviate an ill surmise. But when we fall into such a necessity as that great evils should ensue through the other’s taking offence15 let us pay no heed to that person. He has to thank himself for it, and we are not now accountable, for it was not possible to spare him without hurt (to ourselves). Some were offended, because certain believers sat down to meat in (heathen) temples. It was not right to sit down: for no harm came of this (their not doing it). They were offended, because Peter ate with the Gentiles. But he indeed spared them, but (Paul)16 not so. On all occasions it behooves us in following the laws of God to take great pains that we give no matter of offence; that both ourselves may not have to answer for it, and may have mercy vouchsafed us from God, by the grace and loving-kindness of His only-begotten Son, with Whom to the Father and Holy Ghost together be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
1 It has been much disputed whether the charge: “Thou teachest apostacy from Moses,” etc., was true or not. There certainly was truth in the charge. Paul maintained that the Mosaic law, as such, was not binding upon Christians. But it was against those who made it a yoke of bondage upon believers, that he waged a polemic. Where there was no imposition of the law as necessary to salvation, Paul in no way antagonized it, but rather trusted to the free working of the principles of the gospel to gradually accomplish the abolition of its rites and forms. The truth seems to be that Paul was tolerant of Judaism where it did not impose burdens upon believers or threaten the completeness and sufficiency of the gospel; he even accommodated himself to Jewish requirements. as in shaving his head at Cenchrea and circumcising Timothy. He never unnecessarily opposed the law of Moses, but taught that it had been fulfilled in Christ. So far as he accommodated himself to its ceremonies, it was only that he might remove prejudice and so win the Jews to Christ.—G. B. S).
2 Old text: malista gar ekeinoi" sugcronisei, as the comment on oi apo th" AEAsia" AEIoudaioi, meaning apparently that his arrival at Jerusalem would naturally fall at the same time with that of the Jews who, like himself, came from the same parts. Mod. text transfers the comment to the first clause of the verse, “And as the days were about to be fulfilled: ora pw" malista dh autoi" egcronisei,” it is not easy to see with what meaning.
3 ora to hqo" autwn pantacou taracwde", kai aplw" bowntwn en tw mesw. Meaning perhaps that the conduct of these Ephesian Jews was of a piece with that of their heathen countrymen, ch. 19,28.
4 en toi" signoi" auton embale. Ammonius in the Catena, “It was a custom of the Jews to utter this cry against the just as they did against the Lord, Aire auton! 1,e. away with Him from among the living.” Hence Oecumen. combining this with the explanation in the text, “It was the custom of the Jews, etc. But some say, That is, what they say with us,” etc. And so mod. text, "It was a custom of the Jews to say this against those whom they would condemn, as also in the case of Christ they appear doing this, and saying, AEAron auton! that is, Make him to disappear from among the living. “But some,” what among us they say according to the Roman custom, En toi" signoi" auton embale, the same is the Aire auton.
5 Mod. text supplies the evident lacuna with, "And by what he says, takes him off from his suspicion. "But let us look again at what has been read. “There are,” they say, “with us seven men,” etc.
6 This vow appears to have been the Nazarite vow described in Nb 6,1–21, taken by the apostle as an accommodation to Jewish prejudices and to allay the suspicions of the legal party in Jerusalem. This was done upon the recommendation of James, the “Bishop” of the church, and his associates. The significance of Paul’s paying the expenses, is, perhaps, that the period during which the others vow had run was on this condition reckoned to his account also. It is noticeable that the party of James distinctly admits that adherence to the legal ceremonies is not required of the Gentile Christians; it is equally important to notice that Paul yielded to the advice to take this view, as a concession in a matter of indifference, since he was living for the time as a Jew among Jews, that he might give no needless offence and might win the more. It was not a compromise, but an expedient concession to convictions and prejudices which it was not wise or necessary to oppose or increase.—G. B. S).
7 Mod. text, “Using this economy then, he himself at a later time (?) accuses Peter, and he does not do this aplw.” St. Chrysostom’s view of St. Peter’s dissimulation at Antioch as an “economy,” is most fully given in his exposition of the passage, Comment. in Ga cap. 2,<`a7Ÿ4, 5.
8 Mod. text adds, “But as for the sicarii, some say they were a kind of robbers, so called from the swords they bore, which by the Romans are called sicoe: others, that they were of the first sect among the Hebrews. For there are among them three sects, generally considered (airesei" ai genikai): Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes who are also called osioi, for that is the meaning of the name ‘Essenes,’ on account of their reverend manner of life: but the same (?) are also called sicarii, because of their being zealots.” For a further illustration of the way in which the modern text was formed, especially in respect of its use of the Catena (see (p. 279, note 3), compare the latter with Oecumenius on this passage. The Catena, namely, cites from Origen: “Among the Jews are trei" airesei" genikai Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes: these (last) exercise a more reverend manner of life, being lovers one of another and temperate: whence also they are called Essenes, 1,e). osioi: but others called them (?) sicarii, 1,e. zealots.” (Oecumen. using the Catena, makes a continuous exposition from Chrys., Origen, and Josephus. Mod. text from the same materials, interpolates the text of Chrys, as above).
9 B. alone of our mss. gives the negative which the sense requires; restored to the text by Ed. Par. Ben. 2.
10 The cupbearer may be Narcissus (Rm 16,11): the name of the concubine is not mentioned. In one of his earliest works, Adv. Oppugn. Vitoe Monast. 1,§3. t. 1,p. 59. D. St. Chrys. relates that Nero cast St. Paul into prison, and in the end beheaded him, in his rage at the loss of a favorite concubine, converted by him to the faith.
11 Ben). hspasato, which is the reading of D. only: all the rest epespasato.
12 In the original, muriada" polla". The deacon is probably Chrys. himself; the bishop, Flavian.
13 kai mh meta th" hmetera" blabh". Mod. text and Edd). kai ei mh, which is ambiguous. “The thing to be considered is, whether they are offended dikaiw" kai mh meta t. h. b. justly, and not with concomitant hurt to ourselves should we give way.” As in the case afterwards mentioned, the sitting at meat in an idol’s temple; the “weak brothers” were offended dikaiw", and to abstain from such conduct was not attended with any moral hurt or loss to the men of “knowledge.”
14 otan toinun adiaforon h to kwluma, ginesqw. Ben, quando igitur indifferens est, abstineatur. But the kwluma (which is overlooked in this rendering) seems to mean, the hindrance to the apotaxasqai, which latter will be the subject to ginesqw. For instance, if the impediment urged by others against a person’s taking the monastic vows be a thing indifferent, let him take them. Else, if we were to look to this only—viz. that this or that man is offended—pollwn ecomen aposthnai—many are the right undertakings we should have to forego or desist from: as on the other hand were we to make it a rule to despise all considerations of offence, we should have to be the ruin of many a brother.
15 Namely, in a matter where the duty of persisting in our course is plain—viz. where the other is offended ou dikaiw", and to give way would be meta th" hmetera" blabh"—then, even though great evils to him or others result from our not giving way, we must take no notice of the offence, must allow it no weight.
16 auto" de ouk eti. Here, as above, p. 118, it seems to be assumed that St. Paul’s judaizing at Jerusalem gave offence to the Gentile brethren in his company.
Chrysostom on Acts 4500