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1: And Paul earnestly beholding the council - Professing
a clear conscience by his very countenance; and likewise
waiting to see whether any of them was minded to ask him any
question, said, I have lived in all good conscience before God
till this day - He speaks chiefly of the time since he became a
Christian. For none questioned him concerning what he had been
before. And yet even in his unconverted state, although he was
in an error, yet he had acted from conscience, before God
- Whatever men may think or say of me.
3: Then said Paul - Being carried away by a sudden and prophetic
impulse. God is about to smite thee, thou whited wall - Fair
without; full of dirt and rubbish within. And he might well be
so termed, not only as he committed this outrage, while gravely
sitting on the tribunal of justice but also as, at the same time
that he stood high in the esteem of the citizens, he cruelly
defrauded the priests of their legal subsistence, so that some
of them even perished for want. And God did remarkably smite
him; for about five years after this, his house being reduced to
ashes, in a tumult begun by his own son, he was besieged in the
royal palace; where having hid himself in an old aqueduct, he
was dragged out and miserably slain.
5: I was not aware, brethren, that it was the high priest - He
seems to mean, I did not advert to it, in the prophetic transport
of my mind: but he does not add, that his not adverting to it
proceeded from the power of the Spirit coming upon him; as
knowing they were not able to bear it. This answer admirably
shows the situation of mind he was then in, partly with regard
to the bystanders, whom he thus softens, adding also the title
of brethren, and justifying their reproof by the prohibition of
Moses; partly with regard to himself, who, after that singular
transport subsided, was again under the direction of the general
command. (Ex 22:28).
6: I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: for the hope of the
resurrection of the dead am I called in question - So he was in
effect; although not formally, or explicitly.
8: The Pharisees confess both - Both the resurrection, and the
existence of angels and separate spirits.
9: And the scribes of the Pharisees' side arising - Every sect
contains both learned and unlearned. The former used to be the
mouth of the party. If a spirit - St. Paul in his speech from the
stairs had affirmed, that Jesus, whom they knew to have been
dead, was alive, and that he had spoken to him from heaven, and
again in a vision. So they add nothing, only they construe it
in their own way, putting an angel or spirit for Jesus.
11: And the night following, the Lord Jesus - What Paul had before
purposed in spirit, (Ac 19:21), God now in due time confirms.
Another declaration to the same effect is made by an angel of
God, (Ac 27:23). And from the 23d chapter the sum of this
book turns on the testimony of Paul to the Romans. How would the
defenders of St. Peter's supremacy triumph, could they find out
half as much ascribed to him! Be of good courage, Paul - As he
laboured under singular distresses and persecutions, so he was
favoured with extraordinary assurances of the Divine assistance.
Thou must testify - Particular promises are usually given when all
things appear desperate. At Rome also - Danger is nothing in the
eyes of God: all hinderances farther his work. A promise of what
is afar off, implies all that necessarily lies between. Paul
shall testify at Rome: therefore he shall come to Rome; therefore
he shall escape the Jews, the sea, the viper.
12: Some of the Jews bound themselves - Such execrable vows were
not uncommon among the Jews. And if they were prevented from
accomplishing what they had vowed, it was an easy matter to
obtain absolution from their rabbis.
15: Now therefore ye - Which they never scrupled at all, as not
doubting but they were doing God service.
17: And Paul - Though he had an express promise of it from Christ,
was not to neglect any proper means of safety.
19: And the tribune taking him by the hand - In a mild,
condescending way. Lysias seems to have conducted this whole
affair with great integrity, humanity, and prudence.
24: Provide beasts - If a change should be necessary, to set Paul
on - So we read of his riding once; but not by choice.
27: Having learned that he was a Roman - True; but not before he
rescued him. Here he uses art.
31: The soldiers brought him by night to Antipatris - But not the
same night they set out. For Antipatris was about thirty - eight
of our miles northwest of Jerusalem. Herod the Great rebuilt
it, and gave it this name in honour of his father Antipater:
Cesarea was near seventy miles from Jerusalem, and about thirty
35: In Herod's palace - This was a palace and a court built by
Herod the Great. Probably some tower belonging to it might be
used for a kind of state prison.