Acts xiv.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. And of the Greeks. Which is here put for the Gentiles. (Witham)

Ver. 2. The unbelieving Jews stirred up, &c. It would hence appear, that the former were not very scrupulous in the means they took to oppose the gospel. They, who would have been dreadfully scandalized to have spoken to a Gentile for any good purpose, are not very nice in having intercourse with them to irritate them against the apostles. Such is the general conduct of men whose religion is vain. That sacred name is used for a pretext to authorize the most unwarrantable actions. (Haydock)

Ver. 3. To the word of his grace. That is, of the gospel, and the law of grace. (Witham)

Ver. 8. Perceiving that he had. It does not appear that St. Paul had any previous conversation with the man he healed on this occasion, or demanded from him any testimony of his faith. But he saw that he had faith, perhaps by inspiration, or by the confidence and eagerness the lame man may have shewn in his countenance and actions. (Calmet, &c.)

Ver. 11. And they called Barnabas, Jupiter. Perhaps because he was of taller and finer stature; for, according to Nicephorus (hist. ii. 37.) St. Paul was very low in size, and much bent; hence St. Chrysostom says of him, tricubitalis est, & cœlos transcendit, though not more than three cubits high, he yet transcends the heavens, and hence for his eloquence, he was called Mercury. Jupiter was said to take Mercury with him, as may be seen in Amphitryone Plauti.

Ver. 12. Garlands. These might be for the victims, as they generally were crowned, or had gilded horns.

Victima labe carens, præstantissima forma,

Sistitur ante aras, vittis præsignis et auro.—Ovid.

— Or they might be for the two pretended gods, as it was usual to crown their statues. (Pliny, lib. xvi. chap. 4.) — The priests likewise themselves, who sacrificed, wore crowns. (Virgil, Æneid ii.)

Ver. 14. We also are mortals. The enraptured people wished to pay divine homage, thoein, to the apostles, and therefore they indignantly reject the proffered honours. The Catholic Church has but one external sacrifice, and this she offereth to God only, and “neither to Peter nor to Paul, saith St. Augustine, though the priest that sacrificeth, standeth over their bodies, and offereth in their memories.” (lib. viii. de Civit. Dei. chap. 27.)

Ver. 15. Suffered all nations to walk in their own way. Literally, dismissed all nations, suffering them to run on in their idolatry, and other sins, not favouring them with a written law, as he did the Jews, &c. (Witham)

Ver. 16. He left not himself without testimony. Inasmuch as the Gentiles had always the light of reason, and such lights, that by the created things of this world, and from the visible effects of God’s providence, they might have come to the knowledge of the true God, the creator of all things. See Romans chap. i. (Witham) — God did not leave himself without testimony among the Gentiles. He did not leave them without the means of discovering the way which led to him. They had the law of nature engraved in their hearts, the knowledge of good and evil, &c. (Menochius) — Therefore they were inexcusable, if they did not know him. The invisible things of God, his eternal divinity might have been known to them from the consideration of the visible creation. (Romans i. 20.)

Ver. 21. Through many tribulations. Our daily offences require the paternal chastisement of the Almighty. The concupiscence of the flesh too, which wills against the spirit, must be subdued by punishment. Woe then to you, lovers of this world, who wish to pass your lives without tribulation, enemies of the cross. Senseless creatures, is the disciple above his master? Did it not become Christ first to suffer, and thus to enter into his glory? and shall we pretend to enter by any other means? &c. (Denis the Carthusian)

Ver. 22. When they had ordained for them priests.[1] The Protestant translation, following the grammatical etymology of the Greek word presbyter, always puts elders. Yet they of the Church of England allow, and maintain, that by this Greek word in this, and many other places, are signified the ministers of God, known by the name of bishops or priests, according to the ecclesiastical use of the same word. It is evident that here are not meant elders, as to age and years. Nay, though we adhere to the grammatical signification, we should rather translate priests, since the English word priest, as well as the French word prêtre, come from presbyter. But of this word more hereafter. We may also take notice, that the Calvinists here translate, ordained by election, pretending by the derivation of the Greek word, that church ministers were only chosen, and deputed by the votes and suffrages of people; and not by any ordination, or consecration by a bishop; nor by any character or sacrament of order. But their argument from this Greek word is frivolous, and groundless, as hath been shewn by Mr. Bois on this verse, by Mr. Legh in his Critica Sacra, &c. (Witham) — We see from this text, 1st, that Sts. Paul and Barnabas were bishops, having authority to confer holy orders: 2nd. that there was even then a difference betwixt bishops and priests, though the name in the primitive Church was often used indifferently; 3rd. that fasting and praying were constant preparatives for holy orders. (Bristow)

Ver. 24. This Antioch was a sea-port in Pamphylia. (Bible de Vence)

Ver. 25. From whence they had been delivered, up to their ministry, and their apostolical mission by the grace of God; that is, where they had been first chosen by the direction of the Spirit of God, ordained priests and bishops, and had received power, and graces to discharge their offices of apostles. (Witham)

Ver. 27. No little time. It is not precisely known how long he remained there, nor what he did. St. Luke relates nothing of what happened from the 46th year of Christ to the 51st [from A.D. 46 to A.D. 51], in which the Council of Jerusalem was held. It is probable St. Paul spent that time carrying the gospel among the neighbouring provinces. (Calmet)


[1] Ver. 22. Cum constituissent presbyteros, cheirotonesantes presbuterous. Mr. Bois on this verse: Si usum loquendi potius quam syllabas ipsas, quibus inhærere sæpè parum tutum est, respicias, cheirotonein, nihil aliud declarat, quam constituere, creare, ordinare. See Mr. Legh, in thesauro linguæ græcæ.

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Paul and Barnabas preach in Iconium and Lystra: Paul heals a cripple; they are taken for gods. Paul is stoned. They preach in Derbe and Perge.

1 And it came to pass in Iconium, that they entered together into the synagogue of the Jews and spoke, so that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks did believe.

2 But the unbelieving Jews, stirred up, and incensed the minds of the Gentiles against the brethren.

3 A long time, therefore, they abode there, acting confidently in the Lord, who gave testimony to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.

4 And the multitude of the city was divided: and some indeed held with the Jews, but some with the apostles.

5 And when there was an assault made by the Gentiles and the Jews, with their rulers, to treat them contumeliously, and to stone them:

6 *Understanding it, they fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the whole country round about, and were there preaching the gospel.

7 Now there sat a certain man at Lystra disabled in his feet, lame from his mother’s womb, who never had walked.

8 This man heard Paul speaking: who looking upon him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed,

9 Said with a loud voice: Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped up and walked.

10 And when the multitudes had seen what Paul had done, they lifted up their voice in the Lycaonian tongue, saying: The gods, in the likeness of men, are come down to us.

11 And they called Barnabas, Jupiter: but Paul, Mercury; because he was chief speaker.

12 The priest also of Jupiter, that was before the city, bringing oxen and garlands before the gate, would have offered sacrifice with the people.

13 Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, had heard, rending their clothes, they ran among the people, crying out,

14 And saying: Men, why do ye these things? We also are mortals, men like unto you, preaching to you to be converted from these vain things to the living God, *who made the heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them:

15 Who in past generations suffered all nations to walk in their own way.

16 Nevertheless he left not himself without testimony, doing good from heaven, giving rains, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.

17 And speaking these things, they scarce restrained the people from sacrificing to them.

18 Now there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium: and having persuaded the multitude, and stoned Paul, they dragged him out of the city, thinking him to be dead.

19 But as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up and entered into the city, and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.

20 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra and to Iconium, and to Antioch:

21 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith: and that through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God.

22 And when they had ordained for them priests in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, in whom they believed.

23 And passing through Pisidia, they came into Pamphylia.

24 And having spoken the word of the Lord in Perge, they went down into Attalia:

25 *And thence they sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been delivered to the grace of God, unto the work which they accomplished.

26 And when they were come, and had assembled the church, they related what great things God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.

27 And they abode no little time with the disciples.



6: about the year A.D. 43.

14: Genesis i. 1.; Psalm cxiv. 6.; Apocalypse xiv. 7.

25: Acts xiii. 1.