Page images

been noticed where the variety of reading materially affects the sense.

The Author has ventured here and there to introduce a short meditation, which may serve to remind the student that he is on holy ground, and perhaps to put him in the way of meditating better for himself the true aim of a commentary in this as in other respects being not to supersede, but to give direction and encouragement to the reflections of the reader.

The Author has thought it advisable thus to state the objects which he has endeavoured to keep in view. He trusts, however, that the value of this imperfect attempt will not be estimated by a reference to the standard which he has proposed to himself. Such a comparison could not fail to be in every way greatly to his disadvantage. The question for the learned reader will be, whether the volume now submitted to his judgment is a step in advance, an improvement, a substantial contribution towards a more comprehensive and perfect work hereafter to be accomplished by some abler hand.

OCT. 18, 1847.





The Book of the Acts formerly neglected; its present

[blocks in formation]




Doctrine contained in it.

Sources from which it was compiled.

Style. Minuteness and conciseness of St Luke. His language. Peculiarities which distinguish him from the other writers of the New Testament; those which he has in common with St Paul.




Authorised English Version.

Ancient and modern Commentaries and Versions.


ST CHRYSOSTOM commences his first homily on the Acts with the observation that there were many in his time to whom the very existence of the book was unknown, πολλοῖς τουτὶ τὸ βίβλιον οὐδ ̓ ὅτι ἔστι γνώριMóv éσTI. Yet it appears from another homily of his, as well as from St Augustine, that the Book of the Acts was annually read in the Churches during the interval between Easter and Pentecost, (Bingham, Ant. XIV. 33). We are therefore left to conclude, that notwithstanding so solemn a recognition of its importance, it did not sufficiently occupy either the tongue of the preacher, or the ear of the people. There may have been something in the character or circumstances

of the age to prevent it from receiving a due share of consideration. But we are not so much concerned to inquire into that matter, as to be careful that the same imputation shall not apply to ourselves. Such negligence would be the less excusable in our case, as the Book of the Acts has peculiar claims on the attention of these latter times. It enables us in the midst of controversies to keep our eye fixed on apostolic precedent and authority. It is a monument to which we cheerfully appeal for a proof that our Church, by the divine providence, has been enabled to adhere closely to that form of doctrine which prevailed at the first, and to that pattern of discipline which was established by holy men inspired of God. Moreover in an age of Missionary endeavour the Book of the Acts may be read for another purpose than that of controversy. It teaches lessons of Christian devotion and courage, and exhibits these virtues, not in unrestrained action, but in combination with the highest prudence and moderation; thus affording examples which may be carefully and closely studied by those on whom the arduous duty has devolved of carrying the Gospel among the heathen. Lastly, the remark which applies to every part of the New Testament attaches to this with peculiar force; that it consecrates and gives encouragement to classical studies. Its composite language, its changing scenery, its frequent reference to the customs of Greece and Rome, as well as to those of Palestine and Egypt, have made it the chief point of contact between sacred lore and profane literature: and thus it has probably

afforded an unexpected reward to the toils of many a student, who may have been unable to realize the riches of classical learning, and may have conceived them to possess only an arbitrary and conventional value, until he discovered their relation to sacred subjects, and at this treasure-house found the opportunity of converting them into more solid wealth.


II. The Book of the Acts is a continuation of the third Gospel, written by the same author; he sometimes speaks as an eye-witness, saying, 'We came with a straight course,' 'we sailed away,' 'we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship.' Thus much information he has given us concerning himself. name, nation, birth-place, and profession are known from the well authenticated statements of ancient writers, which are in part confirmed by the Epistles of St Paul and (indirectly) by his own writings. It is universally allowed that his name was Luke, and generally agreed that he was a native of Antioch, and by profession a physician. (See Eusebius, quoted in § 3).

The name Lucas is a contraction for Lucanus, (Lucæ boves, i. e. Lucanæ, ap. Lucret.) like Artemas for Artemidorus, Demas for Demetrius. The Evangelist, as appears from this book, was a companion of St Paul; and it cannot be doubted that the Luke whom the Apostle mentions as his fellow-labourer (Col. iv. 14; 2 Tim. iv. 11; Philem. 24) was the same person.

The statement that he was a native of Antioch is quite consistent with the manner in which he describes

« PreviousContinue »