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SEPTEMBER 13.- TROUBLE AT JERUSALEM.--Acts xxi. 17-36. SULARY.—Paul meets the elders of circumcision of Timothy (ch. xvi. 1 the Church in Council, and enters into
3), and his own vow in Cenchræa (ch. a detailed account of his missionary
xviii. 18). But could not Paul do labours. The difficulties of his position something now that could be seen and are explained to him, and in obedience
understood by every one? See what to the suggestion of the elders he goes into the temple for the performance
James says, ver. 24, 25, and Illustration of a vow. On one of the days of his
II. So Paul unites with the men in presence there, a tumult so dangerous
certain ceremonies of purification in occurs that Paul is only rescued from the temple, the very next day, and gives death by the intervention of the Roman notice to the priests of his intention to soldiery.
pay the expenses when the services
should be terminated. SYMPATHY AND ANXIETY.–V.17–20. TUMULT AND DANGER.V. 27-36. 1st part. The sympathy Paul would Let us note the localities mentioned. have at the house of Mnason amongst The temple was not one building, like those brethren who probably like a church or chapel, but a collection of Mnason were allied by language and halls, porticoes, and open spaces, all blood to the Gentile world.
connected with the shrine, or temple anxiety would arise concerning Paul's proper. There was a court or space reception before the Council. So now for the Gentiles, into which Paul Paul and certain brethren enter the might have entered with any of his Council. Who are these brethren ? Gentile friends; not so as to the court See ch. xx. 4. They would tell their of the Israelites. It was separated own story and present their gift: not from the other courts by a balustrade, without effect in softening prejudice and upon the pillars of the gate was in many hearts. By sign or call from an inscription forbidding any but a James, (see Illustration I.) Paul rises. Jew to enter, upon pain of death. It The story of four years' labours was was within this enclosure or “ holy then told particularly. The hearers' place” that Paul was first seen and minds would travel through strange seized. Through that he was hurriedly countries, (mention some,) rejoice in thrust, and the huge gates hastily great successes, (at Philippi, Corinth, closed. In the court of the Gentiles Ephesus,) weep at great trials, (at beyond, his death by violence was Philippi, Miletus, Ephesus.) The im- nearly accomplished. The castle of pression was on the whole favourable; Antonia overlooked the temple, and probably by some direct act of devo- had access to it; it contained accom. tion, on their knees, or in words of modation for a thousand soldiers, some some Psalm, the whole assembly of whom were stationed there during glorified the Lord.
the festivals of the Jews, as at such EXPEDIENCY.
7.–V. 20, 2nd part, to times that turbulent people were most ver. 26. Surely all would now be given to disturbance. Now let us turn right; no more trouble for Paul; no to the events. Who began the tumult? more strife in the Church. No! a ver. 27 with ch. xix. 33. What cry did small group of men there upon whom they raise? They, in these words, Paul's narrative has had no effect; to testify to the influence of the Apostle, whom prayer and praise have brought -every one had heard of him ; to his no tenderness; a Pharisaic faction, who industry, for he seemed to have been had sent their emissaries to the Gen.
everywhere. But they misrepresent tile Churches (ch. xv. 1). Besides these, his teaching; how? All that he had a great number of Jewish Christians ever taught was that the Jewish law who, though without extreme bitter- was no longer necessary to salvation, ness, were as much Jews as Christians, and that its obligations ought not to babes only, believing in a Jewish be transferred to the Gentiles. They Messiah. Paul has spoken plainly, no further made a strong mis-statement doubt, about his views of the Mosaic
mere supposition; what ? economy as they are expressed in the Cries and shouts were raised; rumours Epistles : 1 Cor. vii. 17–19; ix. 20. of the tumult passed into the court He had probably referred to his own of the Gentiles, and then out into the
crowded streets of the city. A mob principles, and did not shrink from the rushed into this court, and in the scenes where he knew they would be midst Paul bent beneath repeated tried and opposed. Have clear expeblows. A hasty rescue was effected; rience of religion, and clear views of by whom? How was Paul made truth, and stand by them. secure?
A chain would be passed 3. Be conciliatory.-Sympathise with from each hand of Paul to that of a those who differ from you; give way soldier. As the troops retreated with to the weaknesses of others where you their prisoner, the crowd, angry at can do so without forfeiting your own being disappointed of their prey, consistency. surged up to the very steps of the 4. “ Think it not strange concerning castle; so, to save their prisoner, the the fiery trial which is to try you,' soldiers were compelled to carry him 1 Peter iv. 12–14. up the stairs.
QUESTIONS. - With whom did Paul find REFLECTIONS.—1. Have sympathy.
comfort? Who accompanied him into the
Council? What was the order of proceeding There are always some near us who
there? What was Paul desired to do? why? are in sorrow or anxiety. Be to such What was the issue of this? Where was Paul like the brethren who received Paul
seized ? Where was he almost killed ? Ву
whom was he rescued ? What place did they gladly.
come from? How did the crowd express their 2. Be firin.—Paul knew his own murderous intention ?
Illustrations.-I. MEETING IN THE HOUSE OF JAMES. “In order to estimate the importance of what is here narrated as going on in this spot and at this moment; we must .. keep before our minds all the circumstances. Naturally, St. Paul must have connected his narrative with the report which, at an earlier period, had been made by him and Barnabas to the great synod at Jerúsalem, of all that had been accomplished in Asia Minor. (See Acts xv. 12.) Since that date all that those commencements in Asia Minor would have led men to anticipate, had been fully effected and developed... The conversion of the Gentiles had been effected to an incomparably wider extent. To assure ourselves of this fact we have only to recall the names of Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth and Ephesus. Moreover, this work of conversion has penetrated far deeper than before. Not only individuals, but whole households had been received into the Church of Christ. We have also seen that, in the great focus and centre of Gentile world and character, even the populace had evinced a favourable disposition towards the preaching of the Gospel. Furthermore, this work of God stands already so firm and has so sure a foundation in the domain of paganism, . . that it had begun of itself to spread farther on all sides.”—Baumgarten.
II. THE VOW.
“It was customary among the Jews for those who had received deliverance from any great peril, or who from other causes desired publicly to testify their dedication to God, to take upon themselves the vow of a Nazarite, the regulations of which are prescribed in the sixth chapter of the Book of Numbers. In that book no rule is Iaid down as to the time during which this life of ascetic rigour was to continue : but we learn from the Talmud and Josephus that thirty days was at least a customary period. During this time the Nazarite was bound to abstain from wine and to suffer his hair to grow uncut. At the termination of that period, he was bound to present himself in the Temple, with certain offerings, and his hair was then cut off and burnt upon the altar. The offerings required were beyond the means of the very poor, and consequently it was thought an act of piety for a rich man to pay the necessary expenses, and thus enable his poorer countrymen to complete their vow.”—Conybeare and Howson, vol. ii., pp. 263, 264.
SEPTEMBER 20.--PAUL'S ADDRESS FROM THE STEPS OF THE CASTLE.—
Acts xxi. 37–40; xxii. 1-22.
For repetition, ch. xxii. 20, 21. INTRODUCTION.-Let the teacher read the present Lesson in class, question his over Acts ix. 1-19, and before reading scholars as to what they remember of the circumstances narrated there. We -21,) and how it turned his life into are now going to have the same facts, a channel entirely new. The speech not from a second person, as there, but
was here interrupted; otherwise we from the lips of the man himself. These may infer that Paul would have gone "things old” will gain by being placed
on to show how the same Hand in different lights, and yield both interest and benefit.
Whose guidance he had thus far
traced, had led him to travel from PAUL GÁINS PERMISSION TO SPEAK.- land to land to preach the Gospel, Ch. xxi. 37-40. The commanding
and how that Hand had everywhere officer keeps near his prisoner, and prospered his work. forms his own opinion concerning him.
“FOLLOW PEACE WITH ALL MEN."A short time before this, an Egyptian Heb. xii. 14; Rom. xiv. 19. This was had gathered a large body of dis- not a scene of peace. Rage in the contented Jews on Mount Olivet, many faces in front of the speaker; declaring that the walls of Jerusalem pain in his own frame; imminent danger would fall down at his word. Among awaiting him; no wonder if he should his followers were four thousand speak with excitement, reproof, deassassins. They were dispersed by nunciation. Yet notice how he follows the Roman troops, but the Egyptian peace.” He calls his hearers and the escaped. This account we have from Jews at Damascus“ brothers,” ver. Josephus; the events were recent. 1, 5. He gives his enemies credit for The Roman officer now thinks, In this a mistaken view of duty : they are prisoner I have that Egyptian. His zealous toward God. He describes reflections are disturbed by the Greek Ananias as a devout man according to the words from his prisoner's lips. How law, etc.,-ver. 12. His revelation of did Paul explain this ? What request duty was received in the temple. He did he make? A very bold request, does not protrude the name of Jesus : but it is granted, for, from the first, speaks of Him as “ He,” and that Paul's manner and aspect seem to Just One. He does not approach have won the respect of the officer. the hated point of the call of the He faces round to the people: a mass
Gentiles until he had prepared for it, of excited faces, here and there amongst in this calm and conciliatory manner. them, councillors, aged Pharisees, What peace must then have been in venerable scribes, (the “fathers” of the soul to afford such self-control at Paul's first sentence,) stirring up the such a time! Whence did the speaker common people against the “heretic.” get it ? Read 2 Thess. iii. 16. Come to Now another language drops from the Jesus for peace. Follow peace. Believe Apostle's lips ; what ?
That was the best you can of those who oppose the spoken language of the people, you. Never provoke, even when you are though much changed from its original in the right. form, and was most loved for its con- “I KEPT BACK NOTHING THAT WAS nection with their nationality and
PROFITABLE.”-So Paul said to the religion.
Ephesian elders, ch. xx. 20. Paul's THE SPEECH ANALYSED. He refers voice from the steps of the castle is (ch. xxii. 3—5) to his birth, education, sounding still: he speaks things zealous Pharisaism and persecuting profitable to us. Let us note them: spirit. Not one amongst them all was 1. Old knowledge may be profitable for a more zealous Jew, than he had been in a new service.--See what Paul says of those days, now getting far back in his old knowledge, ver. 3. All this memory. He then (ver. 6—10) gives made him mighty in his new service a plain account of the event which for Christ. All the subjects of a had changed his character and his thorough education received in school future. He passes on to his blindness, or college will be found useful by the cure, baptism and commission to preach devout man in his work for Christ. the Gospel, as delivered to him by The gold and jewels taken by the Ananias, ver. 11–16. He narrates Israelites from the Egyptians were how that call was given to him a afterwards presented by them for second time, in a peculiar place and vessels of the sanctuary. under peculiar circumstances, (ver. 17 2. Christ is "mighty to save.”-Recall
slain and Paul had consented to his death, Paul honours the slaughtered saint as a martyr, and confesses his own guilt in the transaction. A pardoned sinner will forsake sin for the future, and make restitution for the injuries inflicted in the past.
the circumstances of Paul's conversion.
Ore'er throw off my load ?” etc.-Hymn 138. 3. Religion is a blessing and a call.-What was the blessing ? ver. 16. What was the call ? ver. 14, 15. God has need of messengers who shall be His witnesses to others. The blessing of salvation in the “forgiveness of sins” experienced in youth, prepares for that work in after life.
4. Religion leads men to remedy the effects of their former sins.—See Paul's reference to Stephen, ver. 20. Paul could not bring the martyr back again, but what he could do, he did. In the very place where Stephen had been
QUESTIONS.-Whom did the centurion suppose Paul to be? How was his supposition dissipated ? What request did Paul make ? In what language did he address the crowd ? wby? How did Paul conciliate his hearers by the way in which he spoke of the Jews ? of their conduct ? of Ananias? of Jesus? What lessons may we learn from this? How did God make use of the early training of Paul ? How does this history teach us Christ's power to save? What blessing does religion bring? What call does it utter? What duty does it enjoin?
SEPTEMBER 27. ----PAUL BEFORE THE JEWISH COUNCIL.-Acts xxii. 23–30;.
For repetition, ch. xxiii, 6.
SUMMARY. — Paul narrowly escapes had gained the freedom by service being tortured,
by pleading his Roman citizenship. He is kept in custody
done to the empire. To claim citizenduring the night, and next day is
ship on false grounds was a crime brought before the Council. There he punishable with death. No Roman pleads earnestly with the Pharisees for could be put to the torture; he must the resurrection of the dead as seen in be put upon his trial in the ordinary the rising again of Jesus. An excited processes of law. What can Lysias strife follows, with bodily danger to do now? He has not understood a Paul, who is a second time rescued by word of Paul's speech in Hebrew; is the soldiers. During his second night completely in the dark; will summon in prison Paul is especially comforted of
the Jewish Council, and give them the God.
opportunity of drawing up a formal PAUL A ROMAN CITIZEN.- Examined charge. So whilst Paul sleeps in by scourging, ch. xxii. 23-30. Lysias custody, the high-priest receives the cannot find out Paul's offence from the order of Lysias, and messengers are people, ch. xxi. 34; of course will not sent out to summon the members of admit himself to be an offender, so the Council for the morrow. must be tortured into confession. Paul A SEVERE PROPHECY.-Ch. xxiii. is therefore committed to a sub-officer 1-5. Picture the Council: seventyand a band of soldiers, who tie him by two learned men in a half-circle; thongs to a pillar, and prepare to scribes and lawyers, with their scrolls. scourge him.
Paul interrupts them for reference; high-priest at the head; with a question; what? He is brave the soldiers bring down their prisoner enough to suffer, ch. xx. 24; xxi. 13; and deliver him into the Council; but this suffering is needless. With Lysias remains where he can keep the a great sum, Romans permitted proceedings in sight. Paul is called foreigners to be called Romans and upon to answer the charge brought have their privileges on certain condi- against him in the temple on the tions, sometimes for money, sometimes previous day, ch. xxi. 28.
In all good for service done to the State. Lysias conscience, ---does not mean simply, “I had gained the citizenship by purchase, have tried to be good,” but “I have and as Paul was free born, we must endeavoured all my life long to be a conclude that some of his ancestors worthy and true Israelite.” The high
priest cannot bear the words, he has appears farther off than ever. His other not so lived, and to express his anger desire was to see Rome, and preach the gives a singular order; what ? ver. 2. Gospel there, Rom. i. 10, 11; xv. 23. This action still common in the East; That now appears most improbable. the blow is generally inflicted with the Who now shall comfort the Apostle ? sole of a shoe. This was not right, Jesus, Who met the Apostle on the Lev. xix. 35; Deut. xxv. 1, 2. God shall way to Damascus, (ch. ix. 5,) spoke to smite thee,- not a threat, but a pro- him in the temple, (ch. xxii. 17, 18,) phecy; Ananias was subsequently and encouraged him at Corinth, (ch. murdered by the Siccarri, or assassins. xviii. 9,) appears to him again now. Whited wall,—a wall of mud covered What did Jesus say? As to Jerusalem, with whitewash or plaster; a meta- Paul had done his duty: “ thou hast phor to express the concealment of an
testified of Me.” As to the second wish unworthy character by a profession of of the Apostle, Jesus says, thou shalt religious zeal. I wist not, thus Paul's “ bear witness also at Rome.” ignorance of the speaker, arising probably from his imperfection of
REFLECTIONS.—Paul a Jew, familiar sight, made his reproof and warning
with the Psalms of David.-It may be doubly impressive; for Ananias was a
supposed that many passages from notorious hypocrite.
them would recur to him in the THE STRIFE OF TONGUES.-7.6—10. waking hours of that solitary night, It would appear that this strange
as applicable to his case. Let us look circumstance was followed by some
at some; they may be applicable to us disorder in the Council ; discussion;
also, through this day's Lesson about irregular interchange of opinion;
St. Paul. Paul's name being mixed up with it
Psalm lvii. 4.-One always meets all. He, the true Jew, will make his
opposition, often danger, in doing last appeal to that section of the com
right. So with David, Paul, Daniel. munity which holds by a doctrine
Psalm lv. 9.-We may ask God's dear alike to them and the Christians.
intervention on our behalf. The minds Who? what? Who could speak on
of men are in His hands. He can that doctrine like one who knew that
change their purposes.
So of the Jesus Christ had risen from the dead ?
Jewish Council. The point no sooner mentioned, than
Psalm lxiv. 1, 2.—We may seek a further remarks are prevented by a
spirit calm and self-possessed, like that violent outburst of party feeling. Who
of Paul during these trying scenes. were the parties? Why did the ex
Psalın xxxvii. 5.—God's providence clamation of St. Paul throw them into may be our trust. When Paul's violent strife ? Each party tries
despondency said, “No Rome,” Jesus to get possession of the person of Paul,
said, “Rome also.
Psalm lxxxv. 8. -The voice for and once more an undignified riot has to be quelled by the intervention of
Samuel, for Elijah, for Paul; for us the soldiers.
also by the Word of God, by the Spirit, THE“STILL SMALL VOICE."- Ver.11.
by our consciences. Let us ever say, Paul remains in custody; the temple- “Thy servant heareth.” courts are quiet, and the foot-fall of
QUESTIONS.-For what purpose was Paul to sentinels alone disturbs the stillness of be scourged? Why was he released ? Why the castle. How would he reflect on
was he brought before the Council ? What
utterance of his provoked the high-priest? the events of the past two days! The By what action did he show his anger ? What issue is full of disappointment. Two warning did St. Paul give? How was it great wishes of his heart are frustrated. fulfilled ? By what sentence was the Council His “ heart's desire..for Israel” was
divided ? why? How was Paul endangered ?
What comfort was given to him in custody? “that they might be saved;" that now What did Jesus say?
J. ROCHE, PRINTER, 25 HOXTON-SQUARE, LONDON.