Acts 28:17
(17) After three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together.--The decree of Claudius had, as has been already stated (see Note on Acts 28:15), been allowed to lapse, and the Jews had settled in their old quarters in the trans-Tiberine region, and in part, perhaps, on the island of the Tiber, and the region on the right bank of the river, now known as the Ghetto, which has been for many centuries the "Jewry" of Rome. Those who are described as the "chief" would naturally include the ruler of the synagogue (the title Archisynagogus is found in a Jewish inscription from Capua, now in the Lateran Museum); the Archontes, or rulers of the people--perhaps another way of describing the Archisynagogi--(this title is found in the Jewish cemetery at Rome already mentioned; Garucci, ut supra, p. 35); the Scribes (the title Grammateus is also found, pp. 42, 47, 55, 59); the Gerousiarchai, or heads of the Jewish senate, which was allowed, as at Alexandria, a certain measure of independent jurisdiction (pp. 51, 62); the "fathers of the synagogue," perhaps identical with the "rulers" or "elders," perhaps of a slightly higher grade (p. 52); perhaps, also (for this title also is found), the "mothers of the synagogue," occupying, possibly, a position more or less analogous to the widows and deaconesses of the Christian Church (pp. 52, 53);[4] those who were known as Nomomatheis, or students of the Law (p. 57); the wealthier traders; those who, as freed-men, held office of some kind in the imperial court, or, like the Aliturius mentioned by Josephus (Life, c. 3), courted the favour of Poppaea, and gained the praise of Nero by acting in his spectacles. To such a mingled crowd, summoned by a special messenger--or, it may be, by a notice read on the Sabbath in the synagogue, or posted on some wall or pillar in the Jewish quarter--after three days spent, partly in settling in his lodging, partly in the delivery of the summons, St. Paul now addressed himself. These he was seeking to win, if possible, for Christ.

[4] Since I wrote the above, I have heard from Dr. A. Edersheim, than whom there is no higher living authority on matters connected with Jewish archaeology, that in his judgment the title of "father" or "mother" of the synagogue did not imply any functions, but was assigned as a mark of honour to its oldest members. He rests this belief on the fact that they are found chiefly, or exclusively, in inscriptions which record a very advanced as 80 or 110.

(17) Though I have committed nothing against the people . . .--We note St. Paul's characteristic tact. He addresses his hearers by the title which they loved, as "the people." (See Note on Acts 4:28.) He speaks with respect of their "customs." (See Notes on Acts 6:14; Acts 21:21.) He disclaims the thought of treating either with disrespect.

Verse 17. - He for Paul, A.V. and T.R.; called together those that were the chief for called the chief... together, A.V.; I, brethren, though I had done for men and brethren, though I have committed, A.V. and T.R.; the customs for customs, A.V.; was I for was, A.V. After three days. He could but just have got into his hired house, but he would not lose a day in seeking out his brethren to speak to them of the hope of Israel. What marvelous activity! what unquenchable love! The chief (τοὺς ὄντας... πρώτους). The expression οἱ πρῶτοι, for the principal people of the district or neighborhood, occurs repeatedly in Josephus. The Jews. They had returned to Rome, after their banishment by Claudius (Acts 18:2), some time before this (Romans 16:3, 7). I had done nothing against the people, or the customs (comp. Acts 23:1, 6; Acts 24:14-16, 20, 21; Acts 25:8; Acts 26:6, 7, 22, 23).

28:17-22 It was for the honour of Paul that those who examined his case, acquitted him. In his appeal he sought not to accuse his nation, but only to clear himself. True Christianity settles what is of common concern to all mankind, and is not built upon narrow opinions and private interests. It aims at no worldly benefit or advantage, but all its gains are spiritual and eternal. It is, and always has been, the lot of Christ's holy religion, to be every where spoken against. Look through every town and village where Christ is exalted as the only Saviour of mankind, and where the people are called to follow him in newness of life, and we see those who give themselves up to Christ, still called a sect, a party, and reproached. And this is the treatment they are sure to receive, so long as there shall continue an ungodly man upon earth.And it came to pass, that after three days,.... From his first coming to Rome, when he had hired himself a house, or lodging, and was settled in it, and was rested from the fatigue of his voyage and journey:

Paul called the chief of the Jews together: he sent to the principal men among them; for though the Jews, were expelled from Rome in the reign of Claudius, they were now returned, and had their liberty of residing there; very likely by means of Poppea, Nero's concubine, who favoured the Jews: but whether they had a synagogue, and these men were the chief and leading men in it, the doctors, rulers, and officers of it, are things not certain; however, these the apostle desired to come to him where he was, for whether he had the liberty of going about where he would, the soldier attending him, is not so clear a point:

and when they were come together; to his house, or lodging:

he said unto them, men and brethren: which was the usual form of address with the Jews; see Acts 7:2.

Though I have committed nothing against the people and customs of our fathers; meaning he had said nothing disrespectfully of the people of the Jews; nor had done anything to the prejudice of their temporal, spiritual, and eternal good, but just the reverse; nor had he said or done anything contrary to the laws and customs enjoined the Jews by Moses, even those that were of a ceremonial nature; for though he had everywhere declared that the Gentiles were not obliged to an obedience to them, yet he did not dissuade the Jews from the use of them; and oftentimes complied with them himself, things he had been charged with:

yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans; he was first seized by the Jews in the temple of Jerusalem, and then fell into the hands of Lysias, the chief captain; who bound him, and by whom he was sent to Caesarea, where he was retained a prisoner both by Felix and Festus, Roman governors.

Acts 28:16
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