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Capellus and Fr. Spanheim" supposed that two years passed between the death of Stephen and Paul's conversion. And for certain there was some good space of time between Stephen's martyrdom, and Paul's journey to Damascus. This appears from St. Luke's history, who says, Acts vii. 58," And they cast Stephen out of the city, and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul." It follows in ch. viii. 1-4," And Saul was consenting unto his death. At that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem. And they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women, committed them to prisou." After which, at ver. 5-40, is an account of the preaching of those who were "scattered abroad," particularly of Philip's going to the city Samaria, and preaching there with great success, and of the apostles, who were at Jerusalem, hearing of this, and sending to Samaria Peter and John: and then, how Philip taught and baptized the chamberlain of Candace, queen of Ethiopia. After which Philip preached in all the cities from Azotus, till he came to Caesarea by the sea-side. Still Saul was a persecutor. For it follows, ch. ix. 1, 2, " And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest: and desired of him letters to Damascus, to the synagogues; that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem." To all which might be added, that Paul's ill treatment of the disciples at Jerusalem was well known at Damascus before he arrived there, as appears from Acts ix. 13.


Nevertheless I do not think that there is sufficient reason to protract this space so long as two years: but would hope it might be reduced within the compass of a year, and perhaps to little more than half a year. So thought Basnage. Who' therefore placeth the martyrdom of Stephen and the baptism of Paul in one and the same year.

I am the more inclined to think that Paul's course of opposition against the believers did not exceed the space of a

Porro interim---Saülus, qui Stephani morti consenserat, cum per biennium ecclesiam Dei Jerosolymis vastâsset.-Lud. Capel. Hist. Apost. p. 7. h Ex dictis constare arbitramur――rursum anni minimum unius decursum, si non verius biennii (quale et Lud. Capellus post Danæum nostrum, aliosque, statuit) a cæde hujus ad Saüli profectionem Damascenam supponendum esse. Spanh. Diss. de Convers. Paulin. Epoch. n. xx.

A. D. 37. num. 48.

year, at the utmost: because it seems to have been confined to the city of Jerusalem, until he undertook to go to Damascus, and did not reach into the cities of Judea and Samaria. This will lead us to place the martyrdom of Stephen in the year 36, and not far from the beginning of it, or else near the end of the 35. year

Indeed that is a very likely season, and much confirmed by the state of things in Judea about this time, as distinctly represented by us long ago, in the first part of this work, when we treated of affairs and persons, occasionally mentioned in the books of the New Testament. It was then shown, that Pontius Pilate was removed from his government in Judea, before the passover of the year 36, probably, five or six months before that passover, in September or October, A. D. 35, about a year and half before the death of Tiberius. It was also shown, that' after the removal of Pilate, no governor, or procurator, with the right of the sword, or the power of life and death, was sent into Judea, neither in the remaining part of the reign of Tiberius, nor in the reign of Caius. Which afforded the Jews an opportunity to be licentious, and to do many things, which otherwise they could not have done, and to be extremely troublesome to the disciples of Jesus.

Thus then Paul was converted in 37, or possibly, before the end of the year 36. And Stephen was stoned in the beginning of the same year, or, at the soonest, near the end of the year 35.

III. Having distinctly considered these things, and produced such probable evidence as offers, I beg leave to mention several observations.

1. The persecution, which began at the death of Stephen, continued four years.

The disciples of Jesus, as appears from the first chapters of the book of the Acts, were inuch harassed by the Jewish council from the beginning. But now, after Stephen was stoned, a more open and violent persecution came on, which lasted a good while. I am not able to assign a more likely time for the commencement of it, than the beginning of the

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Ibid. p. 90-93.

* See Vol. i. p. 392. m P. 99. n Here I transcribe a passage from Lightfoot's Commentary upon the Acts, ch. ix. 27, of his works, Vol. I. p. 815. 'And thus,' says he, that persecution, that began about Stephen, had lasted 'till this very same time of Paul's coming to Jerusalem. For so it is apparent, 'both by the fear and suspiciousness of the disciples at Jerusalem, as also by "the clausure of the text, ver. 31, "Then had the churches rest." The length ⚫ of this persecution, by the computation of the times, as they have been cast up before, seemeth to have been about three years and a half. '

year 36, or the latter part of the year 35, about which time Pilate was removed after his government had been for some good while very feeble among the Jews. The same persecution reached into the year of our Lord 40, the fourth and last year of the reign of Caius; when Petronius published the orders which he had received, to set up the emperor's statue in the temple at Jerusalem: which threw the Jewish people, throughout all that country, into a general consternation, and fully employed them about their own affairs.

It seems to me therefore, from this calculation, that the persecution lasted, at least, four years. To which might be added, that it must have begun about a year before Paul's conversion, after which he was three years in Arabia. And when he returned to Jerusalem, the persecution was not at an end: nor did the peace of the churches come on till after he had been sent away from Judea to Tarsus.

2. Notwithstanding the violence, and the length of this persecution, the church of Christ was not diminished, but increased, during that period.


This may be argued from the description of the peace which succeeded it. Acts ix. 31, 32; " Then had the churches rest throughout all Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria, and were edified.- -And it came to pass, as Peter passed through all quarters, he came to the saints which dwelt in Lydda." Now therefore there were churches in Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria. And I make no question, but most, or all of them, were planted during those troublesome times. For before that period we read not of any churches out of Jerusalem. And St. Paul speaking of some things after his conversion, and his return to Jerusalem, says, Gal. i. 22, "He was unknown by face to the churches of Judea, which were in Christ."

This increase of converts in those countries might be owing to several things: the patience and fortitude of the disciples: their discretion in avoiding needless offence, and in declining dangers: their zeal and intrepidity in asserting the resurrection of Jesus, and other articles of the doctrine of the gospel; the miraculous powers with which they were endowed, and their exerting them on all fit occasions.

It might be also, in part, owing to the circumstances of things. For a while, as it seems, this persecution was confined to Jerusalem, and did not extend to other parts of Judea. So says St. Luke, Acts viii. 1; "At that time was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem." Paul's injuries were confined there, till he went to Damascus. He speaks not of any thing done by him against

the disciples of Jesus any where else. Acts xxvi. 10, 11; "Which thing I also did in Jerusalem.—and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. Whereupon as I went to Damascus."

The persecution became more extensive afterwards. As may be gathered from those words of St. Luke, just cited: "then had the churches rest throughout all Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria." Wherein it is implied, that the believers in those countries had been disturbed: though, perhaps, the persecution was not there so violent as in Jerusalem and near it.

But so long as Paul continued in his course of opposition, the persecution either was confined to Jerusalem, or was not very violent in many other parts, if in any. This may be evidently concluded from Acts viii. 1," And they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles." Many of the disciples, therefore, who left Jerusalem, found shelter in Judea and Samaria. This was soon after the death of Stephen, and before Paul went to Damascus. Yea, it is added, ver. 4, 5, " Therefore they that were scattered abroad, went every where, preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them." And what follows to ver. 40, clearly showing the truth of what we are now arguing.


Moreover, it should be remembered, that the Jewish council had not the power of life and death. The death of Stephen therefore was irregular and tumultuous. That no others suffered in a like manner during this period, I would not say considering the great conciseness of St. Luke's history, and what St. Paul says, Acts xxvi. 10, “ And when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them." But if any, beside Stephen, were put to death, I apprehend not many, and those of lower rank only, none of a station in the church equal to that of Stephen. The Roman officers in Judea did not join in any part of this persecution. They had no orders so to do. And if the Jewish council had assumed authority to put men to death, it would have been complained of, and they would soon have been checked.

If the Jewish council had had the power of life and death for these four years, it would indeed have gone very hard with the christian interest, throughout the whole country of Judea: the number of believers would have been much lessened nor could any new converts have been made. Such a persecution the church was not able to endure in its very infancy.


2 I

In like manner, a four years' persecution by Herod Agrippa would have extirpated it. All the believers in general must have perished, throughout the whole extent of his dominions, without safety to any but those who escaped into other countries. When therefore that proud and bigoted prince (whom we allow to have had supreme power throughout all the land of Israel) began to persecute the church, and had slain James, and imprisoned Peter; Provi dence interposed, and miraculously delivered Peter out of prison. And that prince, not observing the hand of God therein, nor being intimidated thereby, (as appears from his ordering the innocent guards to be immediately executed,) and growing still more and more proud and arrogant, he fell under the hand of God himself. Of whose death, soon after, St. Luke has left an affecting history, ch. xii. 19—23, confirmed also by Josephus.

3. The first notice which we have of Paul, is in the account of Stephen's martyrdom. And it seems likely, that he had not long before made his appearance in the world.

And, if we consider Paul's situation and circumstances, we shall discern the proper vindication of his moral character. It may be reckoned probable, that he had not seen Jesus in the time of his abode on this earth. Possibly, he did not come to Judea from Tarsus, till after the period of our Lord's ministry. It may be likewise supposed, that he had not a personal acquaintance with any of Christ's apostles, nor had seen any miracles done by them, before he became a persecutor. And after that, he would not admit of instruction from the followers of Jesus. However, it is not improbable, that he saw the splendour of Stephen's countenance before the Jewish council, Acts vi. 15, as well as was witness of the wonderful patience and meekness of his death, ch. vii. 55-59. But then, as may be well supposed, he was not only prejudiced, but enraged. See ver. 54, 57, and ch. xxvi. 11.

How long he had been in Judea, and under the tuition of Gamaliel, cannot be certainly said. But it is well known, that students, whilst under the government of tutors, are strictly guarded, and much restrained. None less acquainted with what is done in the world than they. Among the ancients, especially, students of the law and philosophy were required to pay a strict regard to their masters' instructions, and theirs only. It may be supposed, then, that Paul, so long as he was with Gamaliel, knew little of the public affairs of Judea, though he was in that country. • See Vol. i. p. 25-27.

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