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Acts xvii. 17. At Athens. “ Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met bim.” Aleeyeto pev sv εν τη συναγωγή τους Ιεδαιοις, και τους σεβομενοις. It should have been rendered, with the Jews, and the worshippers, agreeably to the Latin Vulgate, here, and elsewhere, et colentibus, not religiosis, as in Beza.
These were proselytes; for they frequented the synagogue equally with the Jews; and Paul applied himself equally to them. This, as we learned from the passage of Josephus before quoted, was the proper distinction and denomination of those who by proselytism joined themselves to the people of Israel. They were not of the stock of Israel : but they worshipped with them, in synagogues and at the temple. They paid tribute to the temple, as other Jews did. They might' offer sacrifices there, and they kept the passover. In other words, they were in full communion with the people of Israel in religious ordinances. They partook with them in all their religious privileges, and joined with them in all their solemnities. They were therefore very properly called worshippers,
Acts xviii, 1–7,“ After these things Paul departed from Athens and came to Corinth. And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. And when Silas and Timothy were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in spirit, and testified to the Jews, that Jesus was the Christ. And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed; he shook his raiment, and said unto them ; Your blood be upon your own heads. I am clean. Henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles. And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man's house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose bouse joined hard to the synagogue.”
“Who worshipped God," sebouleve tov Ocov. Justus was a proselyte. He was one of those Greeks whom Paul persuaded, together with the Jews, in the synagogue. And Justus was convinced by what Paul said, and became a christian. That Paul, whilst in the synagogue, preached to Jews only, that is, to men circumcised, Jews by birth or by religion, is apparent from the history, ver. 4, 5, “ And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. And when Silas and Timothy were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in spirit," and testified to the Jews “ that Jesus was the Christ;" • That
• Disputabat igitur in synagogâ cum Judæis, et colentibus, et in foro, per omnes dies, ad eos qui aderant. Vers. Lat.
is, upon the coming of those two his fellow-labourers, he * was encouraged; and also animated with the greatest ar
dour; and once more, and finally, " testified to the Jews,” • that Jesus was the expected and promised Messiah.' “ But when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them ; Your blood be upon your own heads. I am clean. Henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles."
Let this suffice for explaining the word veßoplevos, worshipper.
I now intend to take notice of some other Greek words, wbich in our translation are rendered devout.
Acts x, 1, 2, “ There was a certain man in Cesarea, called Cornelius-a devout man, and one that feared God, with all his house," evoeßns. It should be rendered pious.
Ver. 7, “ And when the angel, which spake unto Cornelius, was departed, he called two of bis household servants, and a devout soldier, of them that waited upon him continually,” στρατιωτην ευσεβη.
Here again is the same Greek word, which should be translated pious. It denotes not any religious distinction or denomination ; but is a personal character. Cornelius is never called a proselyte, nor oeßouevos, a worshipper. And that he and his family and all the company at his house, were Gentiles, and uncircumcised, is manifest, as from other places, so particularly from cb. xi, 1–3.
I shall observe likewise upon another Greek word rendered by us devout, in some places.
Luke ii, 25, “ And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon. And the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel,” Kai o avpwzos ουτος δικαιος, και ευλαβης. I should be disposed to render it thus : • And he was a righteous and understanding man.' Simeon was righteous, or religious, and also knowing and discreet,
Acts ii. 5, “ And there were dwelling at Jerusalem, Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven,"avopes evlabels. The same word again, and to be understood in the like manner; denoting, that there were then at Jerusalem Jews from all parts, who were the most eminent men of the nation, and most distinguished for their zeal, their understanding, and their outward circumstances and condition.
.Ch. viii. 2, “ And devout men carried Stephen to his burial,” Συνεκομισαν δε τον Στεφανον ανδρες ευλαβεις. I should like to translate the word in this place discreet.' And discreet men carried forth Stephen, and made great lamen
tation for him.' Such men were the best fitted for the kind office here spoken of. Wisdom, or discretion, and circumspection, appear to be included in the verb, as used in Acts xxiii. 10, and Heb. xi. 7. And observe likewise the noun substantive in Heb. v. 7.
IV. The occaSION AND DESIGN OF THE DECREE. The other question concerning the apostolic decree, at the bead of this Dissertation, is, whether it was perpetual.
I now therefore intend to consider the occasion of it, and then to explain it. Wherein will be contained a sufficient answer to the question proposed above.
I begin with laying down these several following propositions.
1. This epistle, or decree, was designed for the use and direction of all the Gentile converts to christianity at that time. This was shown before; and needs no enlargement here.
2. The several regulations of the council at Jerusalem relate to things in their own nature indifferent.
1.) The point in controversy relates to things in their own nature indifferent. Therefore it is likely, that the determination of the question should be of the like kind. The rise of the controversy, and all the debates upon the occasion, lead us to think, that the regulations of the council should concern things indifferent, ritual, and ceremonial. There never was a question, whether believers from among the Gentiles should obey the moral precepts of righteousness and true holiness. But the dispute was, whether they should be circumcised, and observe the ritual ordinances of the law of Moses, as the Jews did.
They who have any doubt about this, should do well to attend to the history of this council, and particularly the occasion of it, at the beginning of the fifteenth chapter of the book of the Acts, and throughout. However, I shall transcribe below the sentiments of divers learned and judicious commentators, who speak to the like purpose. To whom, possibly, some others may be added in the process of this argument.
P Non censet, monendos pios ex Gentibus de iis, quæ satis didicerant : Deum coleudum unum verum, non falsos; ei omnem exhibendam reverentiam; abstinendum a cædibus, a rapinis, injuriis, adulteriis, et incestis jure Gentium cognitis : jus cuique reddendum. Sed de iis monet, quæ disputationem recipere videbantur, et quæ Judæos poterant offendere, et impedire, quo minus pii ex Gentibus cum puis Hebræis in unam ecclesiam coalescerent. Grot. in Act. xv. 20. sub in.
Hæc ille [Tertullianus) a scopo aberrans, cum nulla hic sit nisi rerum suâpte ‘naturâ mediarum mentio. Bez, annot. in Act. xv. 20.
2.) The apostles and elders call what they recommend in their epistle, a burden, Bapos. Ver. 28, “ It seemed good unto the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden, than these necessary things.
Which word may lead us to think, they intend not such things as are in themselves reasonable, and always obligatory.
Burden,' say Beausobre and L'Enfant, in their note upon this place, “is the same with “ yoke," mentioned, ver. 10. • These expressions show, that the discourse is about cere*monial observances, which are considered as a yoke and • burden, in opposition to moral precepts, which ought not • to be reckoned burdensome; since the reason and con
sciences of men teach them, that they are obligatory in • themselves.'
Rev. ii. 24, 25,—_" I will put upon you no other burden,” Bapos, “ But that which ye have already, hold fast till
Where, I think, our exalted Lord refers to this decree of the apostles. And he graciously declares, that this burden should not always lie upon his people; but should be taken off from them, when his religion had made greater progress in the world.
Our Lord inviting men to receive his instructions, as the rule of life, in order to their obtaining everlasting salvation, says, Matt. xi. 30, “ My yoke is easy, and my burden [70 poptiov peo] is light.” But be therein intends to say, as I apprehend, that bis requirements are not burdensome at all, and that observing them will afford great pleasure and delight.
So St. John says, 1 Jobn v. 3, “And his commandments are not grievous.' They are not grievous, or burdensome, because they are in themselves reasonable, and approve themselves to the judgment and understanding of all men.
As the things recommended in this epistle are so distinctly spoken of, as a burden, it is likely they were not then understood to be in themselves reasonable.
3.) Another character of these regulations of the council is, that they are necessary things. By which I think ought to be understood such things' as are expedient.
Undoubtedly, moral virtues are of all things the most necessary, according to the general use of the word among
Both reason and revelation assure us of their absolute necessity. To promote real holiness is the great design of all true religion. Nor is any institution so well suited to make men truly and eminently virtuous and holy, as the christian. Nevertheless in the language of the New Testament, moral virtues are not usually called necessary things, nor holiness said to be of necessity. I am not aware of more than one text, in wbich any moral virtue is recommended under that character. It is Rom. xiii. 5, “ Wherefore' ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience' sake.” In other places the meaning of the word is expedient, fit, proper, convenient in certain seasons and circumstances. Says St. Paul to the Corinthians : “ Therefores I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go before unto you, to make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before,” 2 Cor. ix. 5.
9 Necessaria autem hic intellige ad pacem ecclesiæ, quæ tum erat, per tolerantiam infirmorum; non autem necessaria per se, et simpliciter, exceptâ scortatione. Piscator, in Act. xv, 28.
To the Philippians: “ Yet I supposed it necessary to send unto you Epaphroditus, my brother," ch. ii, 25. And, “ nevertheless to abide in the flesh u is more needful for you," ch. i. 24. In the epistle to the Hebrews : “ It' was therefore necessary that the patterns of the things in the heavens should be purified with these,” ch. ix. 23. St. Luke in the Acts : « Then Paul and Barnabas waxed hold, and said, It" was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken unto you,” Acts xiii. 46. In all which places, as seems to me, this expression denotes what is expedient, highly proper and convenient, considering the circumstances of things and persons. And so the phrase is understood here by some very judicious commentators,
I would however observe, that the original phrase in this place is somewhat particular. And, instead of these necessary things, somez rather understand such things as it was needful for the apostles to impose. But this, as I appre
Γ Διο αναγκη. κ. λ.
Avaykalov sv vynoaunv.
---αναγκαιοτερον δι' υμας. Αναγκη Bν τα μεν υποδειγματα των εν τοις έρανοις, τετοις καθαριζεσθαι. * Υμιν ην αναγκαιον πρωτον λαληθηναι τον λογον τε θεα.
* Necessures. '] Il s'agit ici d'une nécessité relative aux circonstances des temps, des personnes, et des lieux, pour dégager les gentils de toute participation à l'idolatrie, et pour marquer aux Juifs autant d'égards qu'il se pouvoient, sans blesser la liberté Chrétienne. L'Enf. et Beaus. sur Actes xv. 28. Ο Πλην των επαναγκης τετων.
* Non imponeremus hæc, nisi necesse esset ea imponere. Non dicunt: Imponimus hæc necessaria, sed imponimus hæc, quæ necesse est, scilicet, imponere. Comment. Practicus Caspar. Streson. in Act. Ap. p. 568. Amst. 1658.
The Latin Vulgate is hæc necessaria.' Beza translates, præter necessaria • ista.' But in his Annotations says, Id est, ad quæ nos adigit præsens necessitas, nempe quod aliter non possint Judæi lucrifieri, non quod ista per se ad salutem rcquirerentur. Bez. in xv. 28.