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with the external history of the Apostle Paul, and with his character and spirit, as Luke has portrayed them in his narrative. Those portions of the Acts, constituting the greater part of the whole, which relate to the great Apostle, must be thoroughly mastered before any proper foundation is laid for the exegetical study of the Epistles. It is the object of these Notes to assist the reader in the acquisition of this knowledge and discipline; to enable him to form his own independent view of the meaning of the sacred writer in this particular portion of the New Testament, and, at the same time, furnish himself to some extent with those principles and materials of criticism which are common to all parts of the Bible. If the plan of the work and the mode in which it is executed are such as to impart a just idea of the process of biblical interpretation, and to promote a habit of careful study and of self-reliance on the part of those who may use the book, it will be a result much more important than that all the opinions advanced in it should be approved; it is a result beyond any other which the writer has been anxious to accomplish. The grammatical references and explanations will enable the student to judge of the consistency of the interpretations given with the laws of the Greek language. The authorities cited will show the state of critical opinion on all passages that are supposed to be uncertain or obscure. The geographical, archæological, and other information collected from many different sources, will unfold the relations of the
book to the contemporary history of the age in which it was written, and serve to present to the mind a more vivid conception of the reality of the scenes and the events which the narrative describes.
No single commentary can be expected to answer all the purposes for which a commentary is needed. The writer has aimed at a predominant object; and that has been, to determine by the rules of a just philology the meaning of the sacred writer, and not to develop the practical applications, or, to any great extent, the doctrinal implications of this meaning. With such a design, no one will object to the use which has been made of the labors of foreign scholars; it would have been a matter of just complaint not to have used them, although with a different aim it would be equally inexcusable not to have brought into view more frequently the connections which exist between the Acts and the practical religious literature contained in our own language.
I am indebted to various friends for advice and cooperation in the performance of this labor. Among these it becomes me to mention in particular the Rev. B. B. Edwards, D. D., Professor at Andover. It is doubtful whether I should have undertaken the work, or persevered in it, had it not been for his generous sympathy and encouragement.
The author can recall no happier hours than those which
he has spent in giving instruction on this book of the New Testament to successive classes of theological students. May the fruits of this mutual study be useful to them in the active labors of the sacred work to which they are devoted. They are now sent forth into a wider sphere;—and, here also, may God be pleased to own them as a means of contributing to a more diligent study and a more perfect knowledge of his Holy Word.
NEWTON THEOLOGICAL INSTITUTION,
October 31, 1851.
PREFACE TO THE REVISED EDITION.
THE present edition as compared with the former has been in parts rewritten, and, also, enlarged by the addition of about a hundred pages. In the interval since the work was first published, the writer has continued to study the Acts both in a private way and occasionally as the teacher of theological classes. As the result of this further labor, the view on some passages has been modified; expressions that were found to be obscure have been made plainer; new points in the text have been elucidated; former explanations of a debatable character, according to the apparent evidence in the case, have been placed in a stronger light, or advanced with less confidence; and, in general, pains have been taken in this revised form to render the notes not less critical than before, and yet freer and more varied in their contents. The last six years, too, have been signally fruitful in the appearance of valuable works relating to the Acts, either directly exegetical or subsidiary to that end. The reader will find ample proof in the following pages of the extent of my indebtedness to these contributions to biblical literature, and at the same time, will appreciate the difficulty of using the abundant material with independence and judgment.
It has been of some service to me that since the publication of the first edition, I have been enabled to visit the countries in which the Saviour and the apostles lived, and the cross gained its earliest victories. The journey has made it ten fold more a labor of love to trace again the footsteps of Paul and his associates, and should add something to the interpreter's power to unfold the history of their sufferings and their triumphs.
Not to render the Commentary too heterogeneous, it has seemed best to discard the idea of a supplement for the discussion of certain miscellaneous topics, as was proposed at first. As a substitute for such an appendage, the points which it was designed to embrace have been enlarged upon more fully in the present notes, and references have been given to appropriate works in which the student who desires will find more complete information. I will only add that the Greek text has been reviewed more carefully in this edition, and, unless I have erred through some inadvertence, all the variations which affect the sense materially have been brought to the reader's notice. At the suggestion of various friends, the Greek words in the notes have been translated in all cases where the remarks might otherwise be obscure to the English reader, and thus the explanations will be readily understood by all into whose hands the work may fall.
May the Divine blessing rest upon this renewed endeavor to illustrate this portion of the Holy Scriptures.
NEWTON CENTRE, March 1, 1858.