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A. M. 4062,
While the lictor was binding him in order to his punishment, Paul asked the centu&c. or 5469. rion that stood by, whether the Roman laws permitted them to treat in this manner a citizen, even before any sentence was passed upon him? Which when the centurion heard, without making any reply, he went directly to the governor, and advised him to act cautiously in this affair, because the prisoner, as he understood, was a Roman citizen; and a citizen indeed he was by birth-right †, whereas the governor himself was such only by purchase *. This made him wave all farther thoughts of scourging him, as being not a little afraid, that he had already done more than he could answer; but being desirous to know the bottom of the matter, the next day he convened the Sanhedrim, and brought down Paul, and set him before them..
The sight of so awful an assembly struck no terror into the apostle, who began his apology with an open declaration of the integrity and good intentions of his heart: "Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day." This asserting of his innocency, Ananias §, the high priest, looked upon as a kind of
speaking against Labienus, tells his audience, that the Porcian law permitted a Roman; to be whipped with rods, but he, like a good and merciful man (speaking ironically), had done it with scourges: And, what is farther observable, neither by whips or rods could a citizen of Rome be punished, unless he were first adjudged to lose his privilege, to be uncitizened, and declared an enemy to the commonwealth, and then he might be either scourged or put to death; for the form of disfranchising him was this, "Lictor, colliga manus, or caput obnubito, infelici reste suspendito, verberato, vel intra pomærium, vel extra pomæ. rium:"«Lictor, bind his hands, or cover his face, hang him, scourge him, either within or without the suburbs." All which shews the great propriety of the apostle's question to the centurion, "Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?" Acts xxii. 25. Calmet's Commentary, Whitby's and Hammond's Annotations.
In what manner St Paul obtained this privilege, the learned are not agreed; but it seems to make fair for the opinion of those who think, that the people of Tarsus had it bestowed on them by the favour of some emperor, that Dion Cassius, lib. xlvii. reports, that they sided so far with Julius Cæsar in the civil war, and afterwards with Octavius, that their city obtained the name of Juliopolis, and was honoured with the greatest privileges: which makes Carthusianus, and the gloss upon 2 Tim. iv. 12. say more fully that the inhabitants received this freedom, be cause they met the Roman ambassadors with peace and crowns, and that then Paul's father, going out with them, received the penula or clock, as a mark and ensign of a Roman citizen, 2 Tim. iv. 13. Whitby's Annotations.
Photius, in one of his letters, tells us about what time it was that the privileges of a Roman citizen came to be enjoyed, not only by those who were natives of the place, but by as many as either by favour or money were made partakers of that appellation; and several historians have observed, that, un der the first emperors, it was highly valued, and cost dear, but that, in the reign of Claudius, it came to be disesteemed, and purchased at a very low rate.
Hammond's and Beausobre's Annotations, and Calmet's Commentary.
The apostle, by a good conscience, does not mean here a conscience void of all error and offence; for he owns himself to have been guilty of a great sin in persecuting the church of Christ, 1 Tim. i. 13. but such a conscience as acted according to his persuasion that he ought so to act; in which sense he says, that when he blasphemed against Christ, and persecuted his church, he did it out of a belief that " he ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus," Acts xxvi. 9.; so that the sense of the apostle is," While I was persuaded, that the Christian religion was false, I persecuted it with the utmost vi gour; but as soon as I came to perceive its Divine institution, I declared for it, and have ever since maintained it, even to the hazard of my life. The religion of the Jews I did not forsake out of any hardships that it required, or any prejudice I had conceived against its precepts; nor did I embrace that of the Christians upon any other account than a full conviction of its truth and veracity. I was a good Jew, in short, as long as I thought it my duty to be so; and when I thought it my duty to be otherwise, I became a zealous Christian; in all which God knows the sincerity of my heart, and is witness of my uprightness." Whitby's Annotations, and Calmet's Commentary.
§ He was the Son of Nabedæus, and succeeded Joseph the son of Camith, as himself was succeeded by Ishmael, the son of Fabæus, in the high priesthood. Upon a quarrel between the Jews and Samaritans, Quadratus, governor of Syria, sent him in chains to Rome, to give an account of his conduct to the emperor Claudius; but after a hearing, which was procured him by the interest of young Agrippa, he was acquitted, and returned home, though we read nothing of his restoration to the pontificate. It is evident from the account of Josephus himself, that Ananias at this time was not the high priet, and yet he still retained the titles and honours belonging to it, even as Annas did in the time of Caiaphas. Joseph. Antiq. lib. xx. c. 5. and Fleury's Ecclesiastical His. tory.
reflection upon the justice of their tribunal, and therefore ordered the officers that From Acts. i. stood near him to strike him on the face; an indignity this, which the apostle resent- 10. to he end. ed with severity of language ; but when the standers-by accused him with calumniating the high priest, he excused himself by saying, that he did not know, or could not well believe, that a person who had given such unjust orders could be invested with so sacred a character. Perceiving, however, that the council consisted partly of Sadducees and partly of Pharisees, to elude the malice of his enemies, he made open declaration that he was a Pharisee, even as his father was before him, and that the great offence taken against him was his belief of a future resurrection; which so divided the council, that, however the Sadducees, who were violent opposers of this article, were bent against him, the Pharisees, who were zealous maintainers of it, were for acquitting him: So that the dissention among them grew so high, that the governor, fearing lest Paul should be torn to pieces among them, commanded the soldiers to take him from the bar, and to return him back to the castle; where, to comfort him after all his frights and fears, God was pleased to appear to him that night in a vision, encouraging him to constancy and resolution, and assuring him, that as he had borne testimony to his cause at Jerusalem, so, in despite of all his enemies, he should live to do the same thing at Rome.
The next morning above forty Jews entered into a wicked confederacy, which they ratified with an imprecation, never to eat or drink until they had killed Paul; and having acquainted the Sanhedrim with their design, they thought it advisable that some of their body should solicit the governor to bring him down before them, under pretence of enquiring more accurately into his case, and that then, before he reached the court, they would not fail to way-lay and dispatch him. This conspiracy, however, was discovered to St Paul by a nephew of his, and by him imparted to Lysias, who immediately commanded two parties of foot and one of horse to be ready by nine o'clock that night, in order to conduct Paul first to Antipatris *, and thence to Cæsarea, where Felix †, the governor of the province, had his residence. Lysias at the same time sent a
The apostle's words are these:-"God shall smite thee, thou whited wall." A whited wall was a proverbial expression, denoting an hypocrite of any kind, and the propriety of it appears in this :-That as the wall had a fair outside, but nothing but dirt or sticks and stones within, so the high priest bad the outward appearance of a righteous judge, sitting as one, that would pass judgment according to law, and yet com manding him to be punished for speaking the truth, and so condemning the innocent, against the law of nature, as well as that of Moses, Lev. xix. 15. Our Blessed Saviour makes use of a comparison much of the same nature, when he calls the scribes and Pha. risees "whited sepulchres, which appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead mens bones, and of all uncleanness," Matth. xxiii. 27.; and we need but look into the history of the ancient prophets, and there observe with what an air of authority Elijah and Elisha speak to the kings of Israel, and with what boldness Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, reproach the priests, the princes, and the people of Judah, with their transgressions, to justify our apostle, in taking the same freedom with this proud pontiff, who belied his character by his unjust proceedings. It is to be observed, however, in further vindication of St Paul, that these words of his, "God shall smite thee," are a prediction, and not an imprecation; and a predic. tion which (according to Josephus) was fulfilled in a short time: For when, in the government of Florus,
his son Eleazar set himself at the head of a party of
This place, which was formerly called Capharsa-
+ Claudius Felix, who in Tacitus is likewise called Antonius, because he was a slave both to the emperor Claudius and his mother Antonia, was the brother of Pallas, the freed-man, and first favourite of the emperor, by whose interest he obtained the government of Judea; but in the administration of it practised all manner of violence, avarice, and lust. The abovecited historian tells us of him, that " he made his will the law of his government, and ruled the province with all the authority of a king, and the insolence of 3 K
A. M. 4062, letter to the governor, signifying, "That the person whom he had sent was a freeman &c. or 5469. of Rome; that the Jews had evil-entreated him, and conspired against his life; that he
had taken that method to secure him against their violence; and had ordered his enemies to appear before him at Cæsarea, to manage their charge and accusation." This letter the governor received with great civility; and finding that Paul belonged to the province of Cilicia, promised him a fair hearing as soon as his accusers should come down; and in the mean time ordered him to be secured in a place called Herod's judgement hall .
About five days after this, Ananias the high priest, with others of the Sanhedrim, came down to Cæsarea, and brought with them an advocate, named Tertullus *, who, in a speech, set off with all the insinuating arts of eloquence, to prepossess the governor in their favour, accused St Paul of being a seditious person, and a disturber of the public peace; who had set himself at the head of the sect of the Nazarenes ||2, and made no manner of scruple to profane even the temple itself." But to the several parts of this accusation the apostle (when permitted by Felix to make his defence) answered distinctly. The charge of sedition he utterly denied, and challenged them to prove, that they had ever found him so much as disputing in the temple, or stirring up the people in the synagogues, or any other place of the city. The charge of what they called heresy he readily admitted; but then he affirmed, that, long before him, this was the way in which all the patriarchs of the Jewish nation worshipped God, firmly be
a freed-slave, whom neither shame nor fear could re-
The word Пgaragion, which we render judgment-
It seems very likely that this Tertullus, whose name is properly Latin, was a Roman orator or advo cate, whom the Jewish rulers employed in this cause against Pau!, as being a person better versed in the Roman language, and formalities of Roman courts than they were Beausobre's Annotations.
kindness to the Jewish nation, in delivering them from the thieves and magicians that infested them; in destroying Eleazar, in particular, who was at the head of one of these bands of robbers, and in defeating the Egyptian impostor, who drew so many thousands of poor people after him; yet, had the orator been minded to have told the whole truth, he might have accused him of numberless injuries done the province, since no governor was ever known to exercise his authority with more injustice and cruelty than he; but this was not the business of one who, in the beginning of his speech, was to insinuate himself into his favour. Whitby's and Beausobre's Annotations, and Calmet's Commentary.
This is the only place of Scripture wherein Christians are called Nazarenes, though the author and founder of their religion is frequently so called from Nazareth, a city of Galilee, the place of his nativity (as some supposed), because it was that of his usual abode. At the first appearance of the Gospel, Christians were generally looked upon as a particular sect of the Jews, even as the Pharisees and Sadducees were. The heathens almost always confounded them with the Jews, nor was the distinction properly made till after the destruction of the Jewish temple and the large increase of Pagan converts: But as the word igos, or sect, bears often an indifferent sense, both in the Holy Scriptures and in ancient Jewish writers, we might possibly suppose it so here, did not Justin Martyr (cont. Tryp p. 281.), inform us, that the Jews very early sent their emissaries to all nations against the Christians, representing them as g ábeos, xxi ávoμos, an atheistical and wicked heresy; and therefore we have reason to believe, that in this sense they accused Paul, as being a ring leader of the sect of the Nazarenes. Calmet's Commentary, and Whitby's Annotations.
In the preamble, which Tertullus makes to Felix, there is a great deal of gross flattery, mixed with some truth: For, though it be true, that Felix did some
lieving another life, and a future resurrection; and as to the charge of "profaning the From Acts i. temple," he allowed indeed that several times since his coming to Jerusalem he had been 10. to the end. there, but then it was without any multitude, and only to purify himself according to the Mosaic law. Felix gave both sides the hearing, but refused to make any final determination, until Lysias himself came down, of whom he might be more fully informed in the controversy; but, in the mean time, he commanded, that though Paul should be kept under a guard, yet his custody should be so free and easy, that none of his friends should be hindered from visiting, or doing him any office of kindness.
A few days after this, when his wife Drusilla * (who had been a Jewess) was come to Cæsarea, Felix, being minded to have her hear Paul, ordered him to be brought before them, and gave him leave to speak freely concerning the doctrines of Christianity. In his discourse he took occasion particularly to insist upon the great obligation, which the laws of Christ lay upon men to justice and righteousness towards one another, and to sobriety and chastity both towards themselves and others, from this consideration more especially, viz. the strict and impartial account that must be given, in the day of judgment, of all the actions of their past lives, to be either eternally punished or rewarded for them. Subjects that were wisely adapted to the governor's condition and circumstances, and what stung his conscience so feelingly, that he could not forbear trembling, which made him break off the apostle's discourse with a "Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee."
When Portius Festus * 2 succeeded to the government of Judea, he found Paul still in prison, left there by his predecessor to gratify the Jews †. Upon his first coming to Jerusalem, the high priest, and other members of the Sanhedrim, exhibited fresh accusations against the prisoner, and in order to his trial, desired that he might be sent for up to Jerusalem, meaning to assassinate || him by the way; but Festus, unwilling to grant
* This Drusilla was the daughter of that Agrippa who put St James to death, and imprisoned St Peter, and was himself miraculously smitten in the midst of his oration at Cæsarea, whereof we have given a full account before. This daughter of his passed for one of the greatest beauties of her age, but was far from being remarkable either for her piety or chastity. At first she was promised in marriage to Epiphanes, the son of Antiochus, king of Comagene, up. on condition that he would submit to be circumcised; but, when he refused to comply with that, the match broke off, and she afterwards was married to Azizus, as we said before, who accepted of the condition. When she left him, and took it in her head to live with Felix, who was a Gentile, she forsook her own, and conformed to his religion, according to the testimony of Josephus, Antiq. lib. xx. c. 6. and therefore, when St Luke calls her a Jewess, he must be understood thereby to denote her birth and parentage, rather than the form and profession of her religion. Calmet's Commentary.
** When Festus came into Judea (which was in the sixth or seventh year of Nero), he found all in desolation and distress; the country laid waste; the peo ple forced from their habitations; their houses exposed to fire and pillage; and all at the mercy of a brutal rout of vagabond freebooters, who, in great numbers, ravaged up and down at pleasure. In those days there was a famous impostor likewise, with a train of credulous rabble at his heels, whom he had deluded into an opinion, that if they did but follow
him into such a wilderness, no harm should ever befal
He had sorely exasperated them by his unjust
Which might easily be done by any of the bands of robbers and assassins, (those persons whom Josephus calls Sicarii, from Sica, or the short sword they wore, something betwixt the Persian scymitar and the Roman faulchion) which at that time tested the whole province, and would have done it for a small sum of money, without any suspicion upon the true authors of his murder. Calmet's Commentary.
A. M. 4063, their request, ordered them to come down to Cæsarea, where he himself would shortly &c. or 5470. be, and then he would not fail to do them justice. The Jews accordingly went down;
and when Festus was seated on the tribunal, they renewed their charge, and produced
Not many days after, king Agrippa +2, with his sister Berenice ||, and a numerous
This way of appealing was frequent among the Romans, introduced to defend and secure the lives and fortunes of the populace, from the unjust incroachments and over rigorous severities of the magistrates; whereby it was lawful, in cases of oppression, to appeal from them for redress and rescue; a thing more than once settled by the sanction of the Valerian laws. These appeals were generally made in writing by appellatory libels given into the court, and containing an account of the appellant, the person against whom and from whose sentence he did appeal; But where the case was done in open court, it was enough for the criminal verbally to declare that he did appeal. In great and weighty cases, the appeal was made to the prince himself; whereupon not only at Rome, but in all the provinces of the empire, every proconsul and governor was strictly forbidden to execute, scourge, bind, or put any badge of servility upon a citizen, or any that had the privilege of a citizen, who had made his appeal; or any ways to hinder him from going to Rome to obtain justice at the hands of the emperor," who had as much regard to the liberty of his subjects (says the law itself) as they could have for their good-will and obedience to him." And this was exactly St Paul's case; who, knowing that he should have no fair and equitable dealing at the hands of the governor, when once he came to be swayed by the Jews, his sworn and inveterate enemies, appealed from him to the emperor, which was a privilege so often, so plainly settled by the Roman laws, that Festus durst not deny his demand. Cave's Lives of the Apostles.
* Some annotators are of opinion, that the persons with whom the governor advised upon this occasion, were part of the Sanhedrim who were come to Cæsarea to prosecute Paul; but we can scarce think that any of this body of men would have counselled him to admit of St Paul's appeal, or to send him to Cæ. sar out of their reach; and therefore we suppose that,
as these governors of provinces were not always great lawyers, though they might sometimes have very nice controversies come before them, they were usually provided with men of sufficient abilities in the Roman laws, who, sitting behind a veil or curtain drawn between them and the governor's tribunal, were ready, in all difficult cases, to assist him with their advice. Whitby's Annotations, and Calmet's Commentary.
This prince, who was the son of Agrippa, sirnamed Herod, of whom we read so much in the xiith chapter of the Acts, was at Rome with the emperor Claudius when he died. The emperor was inclined to have given him all the dominions which his father possessed; but those who were about him dissuaded him from it; so that sending Cuspius Fadus as procurator to Judea, he kept Agrippa still at court, until he was in a condition to reign. When Herod, king of Chalcis, his uncle by his father's side, died, he gave him his dominions, but soon after translated him to a larger kingdom; for he bestowed on him, not only all the territories formerly belonging to Philip the tetrarch, but added likewise the country of Abilene which belonged to Lysanias. After the death of Claudius, his successor Nero, who had a great affec tion for Agrippa, to his other dominions added Julias in Perea, and that part of Galilee to which Tarichæa and Tiberias belonged. When the war broke out between the Jews and Romans, this prince was constrained to join his troops with those of Rome, to reduce his countrymen, and assist in the taking of Jerusalem. After the destruction of that city, he retired to Rome with his sister Berenice, with whom he had always lived in an indiscreet manner, and there died at about seventy years of age. Calmet's Commentary and Dictionary, Echard's and Fleury's Ecclesiastical Histories.
She was at first married to Herod, king of Chalcis, her own uncle by her father's side, but after his death she betook herself to her brother, and with