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7. The parts of the book are two: I. The common history of the Apostles, preaching the Gospel among the Jews within Judea and without (Acts 1-12). II. The preaching of the Gospel by the ministry of the Apostle Paul, not only among the Jews, but also among the Gentiles, all the way to Rome (Acts 13-28). Interpreters Ancient, Reformed, Lutheran, and Roman Catholic, and also a Synoptic Table of the Book.
This book is comprehended in two parts. For, first, is woven together the common History of the Apostles, preaching the Gospel among the Jews, both within the holy land, and without, Chapters 1-12. Second, is related the History of the Apostles, especially of Paul, preaching the Gospel everywhere, not only among the Jews, but also among the Gentiles, all the way to Rome, Chapters 13-28.
I. The common History of the Apostles, preaching the Gospel among the Jews, both within the holy land, and without, Chapters 1-12. Here are narrated:
1. The preaching of the Gospel within Judea, Chapters 1-7. In which are to be seen:
a. After the preface (verses 1-3), the ascension of Christ into heaven, with the Apostles looking on (verses 4-11), who, having returned from the mount of olives to Jerusalem, by the exhortation of Peter (verses 12-22), in the place of Judas the traitor, by lot install Matthias in the Apostolic office (verses 23-26): chapter 1.
b. The descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles at the time of Pentecost, when it next happens that they declared the wonderful works of God in diverse tongues (verses 1-4), with the pious of Jerusalem being astounded (verses 5-12), but with others profanely mocking that miracle (verse 13), whom Peter refutes with an exceedingly grave sermon (verses 14-36), whereby three thousand are at once converted and baptized (verses 37-41), and, being devoted to the Apostle’s ongoing ministry, together with them glorify God with great concord (verses 42-47): chapter 2.
c. A lame man healed by Saint Peter and John by the power of Christ (verses 1-10). Whence, with the people assembled to them, Peter addresses the common people, rebukes the treachery of the Jews, and commends the Great Prophet (verses 11-26): chapter 3.
d. The arrest of Peter and John, on account of the miracle and sermon, which had this fruit, that five thousand men were gained to Christ (verses 1-4); when in the Sanhedrin, in which they intrepidly argue the case of Christ as the only Savior, it is forbidden to them to speak any more in the name of Jesus, they refuse to obey, and, having been dismissed with threats (verses 5-22), fervently give thanks to God together with the whole Church for the advancement of the Church, and ask for courage against threats (verses 23-30), with God causing an earthquake, and approving of their prayers by the sending of His Spirit into their hearts (verse 31), and with the number of believers marvelously increasing, cultivating among themselves the greatest peace, concord, and charity, and sharing, particularly Barnabas, all things in common (verses 32-37): chapter 4.
e. The Θεήλατος/God-sent punishment of Ananias and Sapphira, holding back a part of the price of a field sold by them (verses 1-11), and the great miracles daily performed by the hands of the Apostles (verses 12-16); whence the Priests, burning with jealousy, deliver them into prison, from which having been freed by an Angel, they are commanded boldly to teach the people in the Temple (verses 17-20); having been led away to the Sanhedrin compliantly, by the counsel of Gamaliel, after they had been beaten with whips, they were released and went away rejoicing (verses 21-42): chapter 5.
f. The election of seven deacons (verses 1-6), the first of whom, Stephan, disputes against the contradicting Jews, and then is accused of blasphemy before the Sanhedrin, with false witnesses pre-arranged against him (verses 7-15): chapter 6.
g. Stephan’s impassioned and pointed speech held in the Sanhedrin, in which he convicts the Jews as always resisting the Holy Spirit and despising the Gospel (verses 1-53), who, for this reason having been dragged out of the city and stoned with stones, is the first under the New Testament to seal the doctrine of Christ with his own blood (verses 54-60): chapter 7.
2. The preaching of the Gospel, after the dispersion, beyond Judea: chapters 8:1-9:31: in which are:
a. The dispersion of the Church through the persecution of Saul: chapter 8:1-4.
b. The preaching of the Gospel in Samaria by Philip, whereby many of the Samaritans are converted to the faith and baptized, even Simon Magus himself, with Peter and John sent to them from Jerusalem, so that they might confirm them in the faith, and by the imposition of hand confer the gifts of the Holy Spirit, also solicited by Simon Magus in vain (verses 5-25): chapter 8:5-25.
c. The conversion of the Eunuch, an Official of Queen Candace of the Ethiopians, by the ministry of the same Philip, soon carried away to Azotus, preaching the Gospel there (verses 26-40): chapter 8:26-40.
d. The conversion of Saul (verses 1-18); his conduct at Damascus, where, having been sent away through the walls, he evades the hands of his pursuers (verses 19-25); he associates himself with the believers at Jerusalem, and is sent from there to Tarsus (verses 26-30), with the Church in Judea, Samaria, and Galilee in the meantime enjoying Halcyon days (verse 31): chapter 9:1-31.
3. The ministry of Peter,
a. Healing Æneas at Lydda (verses 32-35), and raising Tabitha at Joppa (verses 36-43): chapter 9:32-43.
b. Called to Cæsarea by Cornelius the centurion at the Divine behest (verses 1-23), and there baptizing Cornelius with his whole family, and other people, with a sermon delivered to the many congregated concerning Christ as the only Savior and the salvation of all believing upon Him, and with the Spirit descending upon them (verses 24-48): chapter 10.
c. Defending that Baptism against the murmuring Jews (verses 1-18): chapter 11:1-18.
4. The preaching of the dispersed in Cyprus, Phœnicia, and Antioch, where, when Barnabas came, and brought Saul there, the name of Christians was first place upon believers (verses 19-26), with Prophets coming from Jerusalem to the same place, and among them Agabus, predicting a coming famine under Claudius (verses 27-30): chapter 11:19-30.
5. The persecution of Herod, who kills James (verses 1, 2), and hauling Peter into prison, who, having by night been freed by an Angel miraculously (verses 3-11), and showing himself to the disciples at the house of Mary, with Rhoda the maid servant furnishing an indication of his presence (verses 12-17), removed from Judea to Cæsarea (verses 18, 19), with Herod in the meantime, agitating war against the Tyrians, smitten by an Angel (verses 20-23); with the Church increasing, and Barnabas and Paul returning to Jerusalem with the collection gathered (verses 24, 25): chapter 12.
II. The preaching of the Gospel, especially by the ministry of Saint Paul, among the Jews and the Gentiles indiscriminately, and the Romans, Chapters 13-28. See:
1. The journeys of Saint Paul, preaching the Gospel everywhere: chapters 13:1-21:15. See:
a. The first journey with Barnabas, at the behest of the Holy Spirit, undertaken from Antioch to:
α. Cyprus, having been summoned by Sergius Paulus, Saul suddenly blinds Bar-Jesus Elymas, his adversary; overpowered by this miracle, Sergius is converted (verses 1-12): Pamphylia (verse 13): Pisidia, in a city of which, namely, Antioch, on a Sabbath Paul preaches to the Jews concerning the resurrected Christ (verses 14-41), and he complies with Gentiles desiring the same preaching for themselves on the next Sabbath, and responds to the indignant Jews, with great fruitfulness (verses 42-49), until, having been expelled by the Jews, they come to Iconium (verses 50-52): chapter 13.
β. Iconium, where, with many converted, a tumult is raised by the Jews (verses 1-5): Lycaonia, in a city of which, namely, Lystra, Paul and Barnabas, with a lame man healed, would have been worshipped, if they, with torn garments, had not restrained the people (verses 6-18), with Paul then stoned in that very place at the instigation of the Jews (verses, 19, 20), who still live departs with Barnabas to Derbe, and there gains many to Christ (verses 21-23), and thence through Pisidia, Pamphylia, and Attalia, returns to Antioch, narrating there, that God had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles also (verses 24-28): chapter 14.
b. The second journey with the same Barnabas, undertaken to Jerusalem, where the question concerning not imposing circumcision on the gentiles, with Peter speaking concerning the conversion of the gentiles (verses 1-11), and Paul and Barnabas concerning the miracles of God wrought among the gentiles (verse 12), is concluded by James, namely, that no burden, with a few exceptions, is to be placed upon them (verses 13-21), with the Apostles, Elders, and Church sending the decree concerning this by Paul, Barnabas, and Judas and Silas, joined to them, to Antioch (verses 22-29), who are favorably received at Antioch, with Silas remaining there (verse 30-35): chapter 15:1-35.
c. The third journey with Silas: chapters 15:36-18:22: in which Paul:
α. Withdrawing from Barnabas on account of Mark, whom he endeavored to take as a companion, with Silas passes through Syriac and Cilicia: chapter 15:36-41.
β. Comes to Derbe, Lystra, where he circumcises Timothy, adopted as a companion (verses 1-5), thence through Phrygia and Galatia, being hindered with his companions from entering Asia, Mysia, and Bithynia (verses 6, 7), unto Troas (verse 8), whence, having been invited by a Macedonian man in a vision, he departs to Macedonia (verses 9-12), in which, at Philippi, Lydia is converted (verses 13-15), and the spirit of Python is expelled from a girl (verses 16-18); Paul and Silas are shut up in prison, and worship God (verses 19-25); and soon the doors of the prison are opened by an earthquake (verse 26), the jailer is converted (verses 27-34), and finally they are loosed from prison with honor (verses 35-40): chapter 16.
γ. Comes through Amphipolis and Apollonia to Thessalonica, where they, preaching concerning Christ, with a tumult excited by unbelieving Jews, and with Jason dragged before the rulers of the city, are cast out (verses 1-9), and come to Berea, the inhabitants of which are commended on account of their nobility (verses 10-13), to Athens, where Paul, disputing with the Jews in the Synagogue, and then with whomever of the gentiles in the midst of the forum concerning Christ and against idolatry, is mocked by some, with others, and among them Dionysius the Areopagite, believing upon Christ (verses 14-34): chapter 17.
δ. Comes to Corinth, where he, abiding with Aquila and Priscilla, preaches, and pronounces a curse upon the Jews, while asserting that Jesus is Christ, when they do not believe (verses 1-6), converts Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, with his whole house, having been Divinely instructed not to fear to preach the Gospel (verses 7-11), with the Jews accusing him before Gallio to no purpose (verses 12-17); Ephesus (verses 18-21); Cæsarea: and returns to Antioch (verse 22): chapter 18:1-22).
d. The fourth journey, undertaken from Antioch to Jerusalem: chapters 18:23-21:15: in which Paul:
α. Travels through Galatia and Phrygia, with Apollos in the meantime teaching powerfully at Ephesus, and being more thoroughly instructed in the way of the Lord by Aquila and Priscilla: chapter 18:23-28.
β. Comes to Ephesus, where he lays his hands upon the disciples baptized by John, who receive the Holy Spirit (verses 1-7), and then confers with the Jews for three months, from whom, being hardened, he separates the disciples, teaching in the school of Tyrannus for two years, and working singular miracles (verses 8-12), with seven exorcists, the sons of Sceva, handled miserably by a demoniac, and with many believing and burning their magical books (verses 13-20); then, with Timothy and Erastus sent ahead (verses 21, 22), a tumult is raised by Demetrius on account of the contempt of Diana (verses 23-41): chapter 19.
γ. Directs himself to Macedonia (verse 1), and, having stayed in Greece for three months, returns through Macedonia (verses 2-4); raises Eutychus at Troas (verses 5-12); comes to Assos, Mitylene, and finally Miletus (verses 13-15), and there calls the Ephesian Elders, whom he informs concerning his journey to Jerusalem, and exhorts with extreme gravity to feed the flock diligently (verses 16-37), being not a little dismayed by his speech, and accompanying him to his ship (verse 38): chapter 20.
δ. Comes to Tyre, where he says farewell to the disciples found there (verses 1-6); hence to Ptolemais (verse 7), to Cæsarea, where bonds are foretold for him by Agabus, binding himself (verses 8-14), and finally to Jerusalem (verse 15): chapter 21:1-15).
2. The bonds of Saint Paul, led away from Cæsarea to Rome after his appeal: chapter 21:16-28:31. See:
a. The occasion of his bonds. Namely, Paul, having been received in a friendly manner at Jerusalm, by the counsel of James and the entire Presbytery, to refute calumny, as if he would urge defection from the law of Moses, joins himself to four men making a Nazarite vow, and purifies himself with them (verses 16-26); and he, having been seen in the Temple by unbelieving Asiatic Jews, and having been accused of polluting the Temple by bringing Trophimus into it, is snatch by the tribune from the rising tumult, and is cast into bonds (verses 27-33); and, having been led off to the fortress, he seeks and obtains leave to speak (verses 34-40): chapter 21:16-40.
b. The oration of the prisoner from the steps of the fortress to the mob, wherein he narrates his calling (verses 1-21), whereby the Jews are even more enraged, so that the Tribune determined him for scourging (verses 22-24), yet abstaining from that, with it understood that he was a Roman citizen, and causing him, now released from his bonds, to stand before the High Priest and Sanhedrin (verses 25-30): chapter 22.
c. The oration of the same held in the Sanhedrin, wherein he protests his innocence (verse 1), on account of which, at the behest of Ananias, having been smitten, he answers those objecting that he cursed the High Priest (verses 2-5), with discord then arising, when he calls himself a Pharisee in the midst of Pharisees and Sadducees (verses 6-9); whence he, snatched once again from the hands of the mob by the Tribune, is led away into the fortress, and is Divinely strengthened (verses 10, 11); on the next day, since an ambush was laid for him by some associated zealots, and was discovered to the Tribune, he is sent with letters by the Tribune to Cæsarea, to Felix the Governor of the Province (verses 12-35): chapter 23.
d. Paul’s public apology before Felix against the accusation of Tertullus, charging that he troubles the whole world, and tried to pollute the Temple (verses 1-21); when, with the matter unfinished, and the decision of the case delayed to another time, Felix dismissed Paul’s accusers, and commanded that Paul be kept in custody but with much freedom, frequently summoned for the pleasure of Drusilla, and in the hope of receiving money from him (verses 22-27): chapter 24.
e. His apology before Porcius Festus, who, succeeding Felix after two years, commands Paul’s accusers, asking that Paul be led away to Jerusalem, namely, so that he might be killed by an ambush in the way, to come to Cæsarea, where answers his accusers, refuses to go to Jerusalem, and appeals to Cæsar (verses 1-12). With some days interposed, when King Agrippa the younger, and his sister Bernice, had come to greet the new Governor of the Province (verses 13-23), Festus, hesitating over what He should write to Cæsar concerning Paul, asks counsel of Agrippa concerning this matter (verses 24-27): chapter 25.
f. Paul’s apology before Agrippa and Bernice, in which, asserting himself to be judged on account of the hope of Israel, surveys his calling to Apostleship and his teaching concerning Christ, agreeable to the Prophets and Moses (verses 1-23), by which, although derided by Festus, Agrippa, moved to such an extent that he almost becomes a Christian, judged with the rest of the assembly, that Paul designed nothing worthy of death and bonds, and could have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed to Cæsar (verses 24-32): chapter 26.
f. Paul’s journey to Italy. In which he:
α. Having been delivered with the other captives to Julius, a Centurion of the Legion of Augustus, and having been placed in a ship of Adramyttium heading toward Asia, is carried to Myra of Lycia (verses 1-5), where, when the centurion had found an Alexandrian ship, heading toward Italy, he placed the captives in it. Loosing thence, they come to Lasea, where, so that they might winter, and with Paul giving counsel in vain, the centurion decided to seek port at Phenice of Crete. And, when they sailed thence, with the South Wind softly blowing at first, but then a most grievous storm suddenly rising, after a most perilous tossing for many days, they, having been carried here and there through the Adriatic Sea, with the casting of all things into the sea, finally, after a miraculous fast of fifteen days, grounded the ship on the island of Melita, and by the counsel of Paul escaped all, safe and unharmed, to land (verses 6-44): chapter 27.
β. Paul on the island of Melita, with a viper shaken from his hand into the fire without harming him, is thought a God (verses 1-6), and heals the father of Publius, laboring with a fever combined with dysentery, and other diseased people (verses 7-10). Afterwards, in the third month, they, having been carried to Syracuse by another Alexandrian ship, the sign of which was Castor and Pollux, come to Rhegium, then to Puteoli, and finally to Rome, where Paul is most humanely received by the brethren, and is left in free custody by the Prefect of the Prætorium (verses 11-16): chapter 28:1-16).
h. His conversation at Rome. For, he, addressing the Jews that were at Rome, explains to them the reason for his chains (verses 17-20), and on an appointed day preaches Christ (verse 21-23), with some joining themselves to him, others resisting him, with whom left he turns himself to the gentiles (verses 24-29); and, for two years remaining in his own μισθώματι, hired house, with a soldier given to keep him, with great liberty preaches the Kingdom of God, and Christ (verses 30, 31): chapter 28:17-31.
Dr. Dilday's Lecture: "Acts of the Apostles, Part 4"