- Christogenea Internet Radio
Previous Website Downloads:
Book of Acts Chapter 16, Part 1 - Christogenea Internet Radio 10-11-2013
After the events recorded in Acts chapter 15, Paul of Tarsus is the central figure throughout the balance of the narrative of the book. This is not because the other apostles did not do anything, but rather simply, it is evident at this point that the lives and missions of the apostles diverged completely, and Luke may well have had no records concerning the others before finishing his work as we have it. In the rest of Acts, we have only one other appearance by the apostle James, where Paul meets with him in Jerusalem in Acts chapter 21.
[I had originally expressed the thought that perhaps the apostle Philip may have been the Philip mentioned in Acts chapter 21:8, however this cannot be the case. There the Philip mentioned is called “one of the seven, and therefore must be the Philip of Acts 6:5, not the apostle. I must apologize for the oversight. (WRF, 11-20-2013)]
In his epistle to the Galatians, we see that by the time that he wrote that letter, Paul had come to consider it hypocrisy for Judaean Christians to remain bound to the laws of Moses, especially those which forbid them from having communion with the uncircumcised Christians of the Nations. However two things are entirely evident. The first is that Paul, circumcising Timothy here, could not yet have challenged Peter on his following James in that respect, as we see that Paul records in Galatians chapter 2. The second is that Paul, circumcising Timothy “om account of the Judaeans”, could not yet have come to that understanding himself, or he too would have been guilty of the same hypocrisy of which he later accuses the other apostles.
Exactly when Paul did come to the understanding that Judaean Christians should not be bound to the Mosaic Law, meaning the rituals and the circumcision, cannot be told. However he expresses that understanding in all of his epistles whenever the subject arises, and especially in his epistles to the Romans, the Galatians, and to the Hebrews themselves. Yet in Acts chapter 21, when Paul sees James for the last time, he seems not to have disputed this with him, and he acceded to the demand by James that he undergo a certain purification ritual in the temple.
Evidently, Paul wrote his epistle to the Romans not long before embarking upon the last leg of his final trip to Jerusalem (Romans 15:25). The circumstances of the epistle seem to indicate that it was written while Paul was in Kenchreae as it is recorded in Acts 18:18, where he cut the hair from his head because he had a vow. The epistle to the Romans was delivered for Paul by a woman from Kenchreae. Yet Kenchreae being near Corinth, it may have been written while Paul was in Greece, recorded at the beginning of Acts chapter 20.
[Priscilla and Aquila were in Rome when Paul wrote the epistle (Romans 16:3) and when Paul was in Kenchreae (Acts 18:18), yet when I prepared these notes it seemed that the epistle was written from Greece, either from Corinth or Kenchreae which is a nearby port (Acts 20:2). However it is more likely instead to have been written a short time later from the Troad, for which see Acts 20:6 when compared to the list of men with Paul at Romans 16:21).]
In Romans chapter 3 Paul explained “27 Where then is the reason to boast? It has been excluded. Through what sort of law, of the rituals? No, but through a law of faith. 28 We therefore conclude by reasoning a man to be accepted by faith apart from rituals of the law. 29 Is Yahweh of the Judaeans only? And not of the Nations? Yea, also of the Nations, 30 seeing that it is Yahweh alone who will accept the circumcised from faith, and the uncircumcised through the faith. 31 Do we then nullify the law by faith? Certainly not! Rather we establish the law.” So Paul taught that no man, Judaean or otherwise, would be justified by the works of the law, which is a reference to the rituals, and he was teaching that before his final trip to Jerusalem to meet James. Then Paul clarifies this in Romans chapter 9, where he stated that “31 But Israel pursuing a law of justice, with law did not attain. 32 Why? Because it was not from faith, but from rituals. They have stumbled at the stumbling stone. 33 Just as it is written, 'Behold, I place in Zion a stumbling stone and a rock of offense: and he who is trusting of Him shall not be ashamed.'” Again Paul explains that same thing a different way in Romans chapter 4, where he says “Indeed, not through the law is the promise to Abraham or to his offspring, that he is to be the heir of the Society, but through righteousness of faith.” Paul then proceeds to define that faith as Abraham's belief in God's promise that seed from Abraham's own loins would grow into many nations and inherit the earth. These are the nations which Paul addresses throughout his ministry. Paul explains in that chapter that these promises preceded the circumcision and the Mosaic Law, were independent of it, and therefore the promises are not superseded by the things which came later.
Paul explains these same things again in his epistle to the Galatians, and while it cannot be determined exactly when that epistle was written, it was certainly written between the events of Acts chapter 15 which occurred about 47 AD, and his final meeting with James in 58 AD. In that epistle also, Paul taught an equality of Judaeans and those of the Nations in relation to the Mosaic Law, where he wrote explaining the eclipse of justification under the law, in Galatians chapter 3: “23 But before the faith was to come we had been guarded under law, being enclosed to the faith destined to be revealed. 24 So the law has been our tutor for Christ, in order that from faith we would be deemed righteous. 25 But the faith having come, no longer are we under a tutor; 26 for you are all sons of Yahweh through the faith in Christ Yahshua. 27 For as many of you have been immersed in Christ, Christ you have been clothed in. 28 There is not one Judaean or Greek, there is not one bondman or freeman, there is not one male and female; for all you are one in Christ Yahshua.”
Both of these epistles having been written before Paul's final meeting with James which is recorded in Acts chapter 21, it is evident that before that meeting Paul formed all of his opinions concerning Judaean Christians in relation to the Mosaic Law, that they stood on the same ground as the Christians of the Nations. Yet here, where Paul circumcises Timothy “on account of the Judaeans”, he may not have yet developed that understanding. Neither has he yet had his unrecorded meeting with Peter in Antioch, described in Galatians chapter 2 where he notes the hypocrisy of Peter, James and Barnabas in compelling Judaean Christians to keep the Mosaic Law.
Why Paul acceded to James in Jerusalem as it is recorded in Acts chapter 21 cannot be told with complete certainty, except to say that he had acceded to his elders in the past – in Acts chapter 15 – before he knew that they would favor his opinion, and so he acceded to James' wishes again in Acts 21, James being his elder. There is, however, one firm possibility. Note that in Acts chapter 21, verse 21, James criticizes Paul for teaching Judaeans not to circumcise their children. In his epistle to the Corinthians, in chapter 7 verse 20, Paul held the position that “each in the calling in which he has been called, in this he must abide”, and it was most likely for this very reason that he himself later submitted to the cleansing ritual recommended by James (aside from Paul’s respect for his elders), recorded at Acts 21:23-26. Feeling that he was circumcised, he believed that he himself was committed to keep the Mosaic Law, as he again expressed at Galatians chapter 5: “1 In the freedom in which Christ has set us free, you stand fast indeed, and do not again be entangled in a yoke of bondage. 2 Behold, I Paul say to you, that if you should be circumcised, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 And I testify again to every man getting himself circumcised, that he is obligated to do the entire law.” As he told the Corinthians, “each in the calling in which he has been called, in this he must abide”.
The Book of Acts being a book which records a religious transition, here in the opening of Acts chapter 16 it is recorded that Paul circumcises Timothy, evidently not yet having come to the full realization of the faith in Christ which he later explains in his epistles, which culminates in the attainment of righteousness in Christ apart from the law and its rituals. Timothy, being the son of a Judaean woman, if he had already been keeping the precepts of the Mosaic Law by his own familial custom, then it would not really matter whether he were circumcised, except to the Judaeans. As Paul also told the Corinthians in the aforementioned chapter, “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God” (1 Corinthians 7:19). Paul had also told the Corinthians, from chapter 9 of his epistle “19 Therefore being free from all, to all I myself have become a bondman, in order that I would gain of the greater profit. 20 And I became to the Judaeans as a Judaean, that I would gain Judaeans; to those subject to law as subject to law, (not being subject to law myself,) that I would gain those subject to law; 21 to those without law as without law, (not being without the law of Yahweh, but keeping within the law of Christ,) that I would gain those without law.”
XVI 1 And then they arrived[the Codex Bezae (D) has passing through these nations then they arrived] in Derbe and in Lustra. And behold, there was a certain student there with the name Timotheos, a son of a faithful Judaean woman, but of a Greek father, 2 who was accredited by the brethren in Lustra and Ikonion.
In his Christian mission, Paul first visited Derbe and Lustra, cities of Lukaonia, with Barnabas, as it is recorded in Acts chapter 14. here it is evident that Timothy was already a student of Christianity, as his mother also must have been. For Paul writes in recollection of his meeting Timothy in his second epistle to him, telling him of “that unfeigned faith which is in you, which abode first in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunika, now I am convinced that also is in you.”
3 And Paul desired for him to depart with him, and taking him he circumcised him on account of the Judaeans who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.
The third century papyrus P45 and the Codices Bezae (D), Laudianus (E) and the Majority Text have “for they all knew his father, that he was a Greek”, which implies that Timothy's father must have been a well-known individual. The text of the Christogenea New Testament follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B) and Ephraemi Syri (C).
Paul later explained to the Corinthians that he “became to the Judaeans as a Judaean, that [he] would gain Judaeans”. Evidently Timothy agreed, and submitting to be circumcised he also chose to become as a Judaean so that he may help gain the Judaeans. At that time, there were still plenty of true Israelite Judaeans to bring to Christ.
Timothy was of a Greek father and a Judaean mother, and therefore according to the measure of the profane Greek writers he would have been considered a bastard. This seems to be why Paul addressed his first epistle to him: “... to Timotheos, purely bred child in faith: favor, mercy, peace from Father Yahweh and Christ Yahshua our Prince”, as if he was assuring him that indeed he was not a bastard. The King James reading of that passage is quite different, however the Greek word γνήσιος (1103) means “legitimately born, not spurious” (according to the Enhanced Strong's Lexicon included in the Bible Works software), and not “own”, where the word “my” was unjustly interpolated by the translators of that version. Many of the original Greek tribes being descended from the Israelites of the ancient dispersions, Timothy having a Judaean mother certainly was not illegitimate in the eyes of Yahweh God.
4 And as they passed through the cities, they transmitted to them to keep the opinions decided by the ambassadors and elders who are in Jerusalem.
The word δόγμα (1378) is opinion here. According to Liddell & Scott it is “that which seems to one, an opinion, dogma...a public decree, ordinance”. A δόγμα is an interpretation of men, and not a law handed down by God, which is also clear from the manner in which the apostles made the decision concerning the Mosaic Law recorded in Acts chapter 15.
The Codex Bezae (D) has this verse: “And passing through the cities they proclaimed and transmitted to them with all openness the Prince Yahshua Christ, at the same time giving also the commandments of the ambassadors and elders who are in Jerusalem.”
We cannot lose sight of the fact, that even though James and Paul later disagreed on the relationship of Judaean Christians to the Mosaic Law, they along with Peter all agreed fully and explicitly that Christians from among the Nations would not be bound to either the circumcision or to the Mosaic Law, as the apostles Peter and James are both recorded as having professed in Acts chapter 15. For this reason, the dispute is not evident in James' single epistle, addressed to the twelve tribes of the dispersion, who were the uncircumcised. No Christian epistles from the apostles to the circumcised are known to have survived except Paul's epistle to the Hebrews.
5 So then the assemblies were strengthened in the faith and abounded in number each day.
The Codex Bezae (D) wants the Greek words rendered “in the faith”.
While Pisidian Antioch was of course in the ancient district of Pisidia, and while Iconium, Lystra and Derbe were all in the ancient district of Lycaonia, as the geography of Anatolia was divided by the Greeks, all of those cities were within the Roman administrative province of Galatia. Technically, it is unclear whether Paul's epistle to the Galatians included the assemblies of these Greek cities. However from the following verse, from verse 6, it is evident that Luke has been using the older Greek names for the districts which are described, and not the Roman administrative names. This is evident because there was no Roman province called Phrygia. Or Pisidia, or Lycaonia. These were all part of the Roman province of Galatia. Phrygia was the name of one of the most ancient nations of central Anatolia as those nations were known to the Greeks, which was for the most part destroyed by the invading Kimmerians in the closing years of the seventh century BC. To the Greeks, Galatia was a part of Phrygia which was later settled by Germanic tribes, towards the end of the third century BC. In Acts 14 Luke called Antioch “Antioch in Pisidia”, which was also a part of the Roman administrative district of Galatia. In Acts 14 Luke also called Lustra and Derbe “cities of Lycaonia”, after the name of the ancient district, and that district too was a part of the Roman province of Galatia. Therefore, Luke using the older Greek designations for all of these districts, it should rather be supposed that Paul's later epistle to the Galatians was written to assemblies in the original district of Galatia, which was to the north of Pisidia and Lycaonia, and that he did not intend to address the Roman province of that name. It is this original Galatia, occupied by Germanic tribes who were known to the Greeks as Galatae, that Paul is about to pass through here in Acts chapter 16.
According to Strabo, in Book 12, Chapter 5 of his Geography, certain tribes of the Galatae had overrun parts of Bithynia and the Attalic kingdom of which Pergamon was capital, “until by voluntary cession they received the present Galatia, or Gallo-Grecia, as it is called” (12.5.1), and it is fully evident that a great number of Greeks continued to dwell in the region, although it fell for a time under Germanic kings, until the later Roman conquests. Diodorus Siculus also stated that the Galatae who settled in Anatolia “settled themselves upon the lands of the peoples they had subdued in war, being called in time Greco-Gauls, because they became mixed with the Greeks” (Library of History, 5.32.5). The Galatae, it is evident, were descended from Israelites of the Assyrian deportations, while many of the Greek tribes (excepting the Japhethite Ionians) were descended from earlier dispersions of Israel.
6 And they passed through [the Majority Text has and passing through]the region of Phrugia and Galatia, being prevented by the Holy Spirit to speak the Word in Asia.
Very unfortunately, this verse is often used by Identity Christians to somehow prove that Paul was forbidden to speak the Gospel among the so-called peoples whom we know today as Asians. Even Wesley Swift repeated such a farcical reference to Asia here, in his 1963 Man of Sin sermon where he said “The Apostle Paul said that, ‘The Spirit forbade me to go into Asia.’ The Apostle Paul’s ministry first tried to reach those with whom he had been associated with, those of his own household. Therefore, he went into Southern Europe and into the Isles. Well known is the path of the Apostle Paul as he went unto the people of your race.” Swift's statement clearly implies that those of Paul's own race were not found in this Asia of Acts 16:6, which is utterly ridiculous. Swift should have known better than to spew such nonsense, which is often repeated among Identity Christians to this day. For this verse has nothing at all to do with modern Asia or the oriental so-called peoples, who are all absolutely excluded from anything Biblical by any means.
Asia here describes a Roman province, the westernmost province of Anatolia, which included the ancient countries known to the Greeks as Caria, Aeolis, Ionia, Lydia, Mysia, and the Troad. In this Asia there were several cities that Paul visited later, where he had established Christian assemblies. Peter's first epistle was addressed to “to the elect sojourners of the dispersion of Pontos, Galatia, Kappadokia, Asia and Bithunia”, which is practically all of Anatolia. Asia was also home to all of the seven churches of the Revelation found in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. The churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea were all in Asia. It is apparent, however, that the Spirit was guiding Paul to Macedonia, and did not want him to spend time in these other places first.
7 Then coming by Musia, they attempted [the Codex Bezae has desired] to go into Bithunia, yet the Spirit of Yahshua did not allow them.
The Codex Ephraemi Syri has “the Spirit of the Prince”; the Majority Text has only “the Spirit”; the text follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B), Bezae (D) and Laudianus (E).
The Spirit of Yahweh prevented Paul and his companions from preaching the Gospel in Asia or in Bithynia, ostensibly because He was guiding them to the Troad and then to Macedonia. This does not mean that Asia and Bithynia were shunned, but only temporarily delayed the privilege of hearing the apostle Paul. As it is evident from the Revelation, the first epistle of Peter, and the later records of Luke and epistles of Paul, Asia and Bithynia certainly did receive the Gospel a short time later, after Paul's journey to Macedonia. Mysia was east-southeast of the Troad, and Bithynia was further to the east, bordering the Black Sea and north of Galatia.
8 And passing by Musia they went down into the Troad.
They “went down” because they were traveling from the interior highlands to the regions bordering the sea, the northeastern part of the Aegean Sea.
9 And during the night a vision appeared to Paul: a certain man of Makedon was standing [the Codex Bezae (D) has standing before his face] and exhorting him and saying “Crossing over into Makedonia, help us!” 10 And as he saw the vision, immediately we sought to depart for Makedonia, concluding that Yahweh [the Majority Text has the Greek words for the Lord rather than God] had summoned us to announce the good message to them.
The Codex Bezae (D) has verse 10 to read “So awakening he described the vision to us and we understood that the Prince had summoned us to announce the good message to those in Makedonia.” The conclusion of the apostles must have been that this alone was the reason why they were diverted from Asia and Bithynia, since indeed they are found in those regions after their visit to Macedonia.
Note that here in verse 10, for the first time in Acts, Luke writes in the first person, using forms of words for we and us. So here we know with absolute certainty that he is in the company of Paul, although there is circumstantial evidence, as we discussed while presenting that chapter, that Luke was also present at the events described in Acts chapter 15.
11 And setting sail [the Codex Bezae (D) has “in the morning setting sail”] from the Troad we ran a straight course to Samothrake, and on the next day to New City
Samothrace is still the name for an island that lays between the Troad in Anatolia and that part of Europe known anciently as Thrace (Θρᾴκη), an ancient country now split between Bulgaria and parts of Greece and Turkey today. Samothrace, according to the most ancient Greek poets, was the temporary home of the legendary Darda before he moved to the place on the mainland of Anatolia where Troy was eventually founded. According to Pausanius, the island was originally called Dardania. Νέα πόλις, two words, or in the Codices Ephraemi Syri (C), Bezae (D), Laudianus (E) and the Majority Text Νεάπολις, being written as one word, “New City” is a literal translation. This city is the modern Kavala, and by it is a river which is now called the river Zygacte, which is near to where Octavian (later Augustus Caesar) and Marc Antony defeated Brutus and Cassius for control of the empire in 42 B.C.
12 and from there to Philippos, which is the first city of the district of Makedonia, a colony. And we spending time were in that city some days.
That Philippos was a colony meant that it was a Roman administrative center, and that former Roman soldiers and landless freedmen were granted lands in its environs.
Diodorus Siculus set out to write a general history of the world from the time of Creation to his own time. Therefore the first ten of what were originally forty books (nearly half of which are now lost, excepting fragments) dealt mostly with the earliest oral histories and fables (the two are always inseparable) of the important world cultures: the Egyptian, Assyrian, Scythian, Ethiopian and Greek, as well as those of some of the other related peoples. He related these from a rather pagan Greek perspective. Here is what he says about the founding of Macedonia, from Book 1, Chapter 20 of his Library of History:
“1 Osiris also took an interest in hunting elephants, and everywhere left behind him inscribed pillars telling of his campaign. And he visited all the other nations of Asia as well and crossed into Europe at the Hellespont. 2 In Thrace he slew Lycurgus, the king of the barbarians, who opposed his undertaking, and Maron, who was now old, he left there to supervise the culture of the plants which he introduced into that land and caused him to found a city to bear his name, which he called Maroneia. 3 Macedon his son, moreover, he left as king of Macedonia, which was named after him, while to Triptolemus he assigned the care of agriculture in Attica. Finally, Osiris in this way visited all the inhabited world and advanced community life by the introduction of the fruits which are most easily cultivated. 4 And if any country did not admit of the growing of vine he introduced the drink prepared from barley [zythos, Egyptian beer], which is little inferior to wine in aroma and strength. 5 On his return to Egypt he brought with him the very greatest presents from every quarter and by reason of the magnitude of his benefactions received the gift of immortality with the approval of all men and honour equal to that offered to the gods of heaven. 6 After this he passed from the midst of men into the company of the gods and received from Isis and Hermes sacrifices and every other highest honour. These also instituted rites for him and introduced many things of a mystic nature, magnifying in this way the power of the god.
So we see in the myths surrounding the founding of Makedonia a strong connection to Egypt, as the Danaan Greeks who inhabited the Peloponnese and other parts were also said to have come from Egypt. We also see in these myths a supposed translation to the gods much like the translations of Enoch and Elijah which we see in the Hebrew Bible. However it must be remembered that this portion of Diodorus' work is said to be compiled from an Egyptian perspective.
From the writings of the Byzantine emperor, Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, who lived in the tenth century AD, we see this, based upon a now-lost portion of the works of Hesiod:
“The district of Macedonia took its name from Macedon the son of Zeus and Thyia, Deucalion's daughter, as Hesiod says: 'And she conceived and bare to Zeus who delights in the thunderbolt two sons, Magnes and Macedon. Rejoicing in horses, who dwell round about Pieria and Olympus...And Magnes again (begot ) Dictys and godlike Polydectes.” (Hesiod, Homeric Hymns, Epic Cycle, Homerica, Loeb Classical Library, vol. 57, Harvard University Press, Translated by Hugh Evelyn-White, p. 157, Hesiod, Catalogues of Women and Eoiae, 4.)
Deucalion was the Noah of Greek mythology, from whom all Greeks, but certainly not all people, were said to have descended after the flood. Of course, much of this is a fable which also seems to have been moulded for the purpose of later political expediency, which is a factor that must be considered in the evaluation of all myths.
From a period somewhat more historical, where lost portions of the work of Diodorus Siculus survive in fragments in the writing of Eusebius, in his Chronicle, which are incorporated into the Loeb Classical Library edition of Diodorus Siculus' Library of History at Book 7, chapter 15. There it is explained of a Greek king, “Caranus, who was covetous of possessions, before the First Olympiad gathered forces from the Argives and from the rest of the Peloponnesus, and with his army advanced against the territory of the Macedonians.... By such a genealogy trustworthy historians trace the line of the kings of Macedonia back to Heracles. From Caranus, who was the first to unite the power of Macedon and to hold it, to Alexander who subdued the land of Asia, there are reckoned twenty-four kings and four hundred and eighty years.” Therefore the time of Caranus and the Greek conquest of Makedonia must have been about 800 BC, the First Olympiad by popular chronologies being a four-year period beginning in 776 BC.
Strabo, in his Geography, in Book 7 Chapter 41, tells us that “It is clear that in early times, as now, the Paeonians occupied much of what is now Macedonia.” In Chapter 38 of that same book Strabo is recorded as having written that “Some represent the Paeonians as colonists from the Phrygians” but he also presents an alternate explanation, that the Paeonians were originally Pelagonians, the same people who were later called Pelasgians by the Greeks. The Phrygians were said in the early accounts to have themselves been descendants of the Thracians , who along with the Ionians are listed as sons of Japheth in Genesis chapter 10 (Tiras and Javan).
However Paeonians were said in the Iliad of Homer to have been allies of the Trojans in their war against the Danaan Greeks, and from Herodotus' Histories, Book 5 chapter 13, we see the statement that “The Paeonians … were colonists of the Teucrians from Troy”. This is all very plausible, since a well-known district adjacent to the north of Macedonia, where modern Kosovo lies today, was called Dardania well into historical times, until the entire region was taken over by invading Slavs in the Middle Ages. Darda was, of course, the legendary founder of Troy.
Another people which must be mentioned here are the Illyrians, the western neighbors of the Macedonians. Their origins are also shrouded in divergent Greek myths. However most of those myths connect them to Cadmus the Phoenician, the legendary founder and king of Thebes, who was also said to have once been the king of the Illyrians.
Yet Strabo in his Geography counts the Dardanians north of Macedonia as one of the “Illyrian peoples” (7.5.12), and that may more accurately reveal their origins, and the probability that they too descended from the Trojans. The Illyrians were known to the Greeks from the earliest times, and even had a small role in the Pelopponesian War, as Thucydides describes in the fourth book of his work on that subject. According to the Greek historian Procopius of Caesarea, who wrote in the sixth century and who was personally familiar with the emperor Justinian, that emperor was a Dardanian by race (Buildings, 4.1.17).
Cadmus the Phoenician was one of the legendary founders of Greek civilization, who was among those who were said to have departed from Egypt by sea at the same time Moses led the balance of the so-called strangers in Egypt out in the Exodus, as Diodorus Siculus describes in detail in book 40, Chapter 3, of his Library of History: “When in ancient times a pestilence arose in Egypt, the common people ascribed their troubles to the workings of a divine agency; for indeed with many strangers of all sorts dwelling in their midst and practising different rites of religion and sacrifice, their own traditional observances in honour of the gods had fallen into disuse. Hence the natives of the land surmised that unless they removed the foreigners, their troubles would never be resolved. At once, therefore, the aliens were driven from the country, and the most outstanding and active among them banded together and, as some say, were cast ashore in Greece and certain other regions; their leaders were notable men, chief among them being Danaüs and Cadmus. But the greater number were driven into what is now called Judea, which is not far distant from Egypt and was at that time utterly uninhabited. The colony was headed by a man called Moses, outstanding both for his wisdom and for his courage.” Diodorus Siculus had also written this account from an Egyptian point of view, and therefore Christians should see that it is an account of the Exodus which was developed as political spin meant to depict the Egyptians favorably.
Why is all of this history important? Because if Paul was the apostle to the Nations, and if Christ came only “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”, and if Paul, as he explains in Romans chapter 4, is bringing the Gospel to those nations which descended from the seed of Abraham, which he also explains is the fulfillment of the faith of Abraham, then it is important to realize the origins of those nations to whom Paul brought the Gospel! Understanding this history is therefore the fulfillment of our Christian faith!
Something that is not discussed in this chapter of Acts, where Paul is recorded as having visited and having preached the Gospel in Makedonia, is that he also must have visited and preached the Gospel in Illyria. In Romans chapter 15 he wrote: “18 Indeed I will not venture to speak anything of which Christ has not fashioned through me, regarding the compliance of the Nations, in word and deed, 19 by power of signs and wonders, by power of the Spirit of Yahweh, consequently for me from Jerusalem, and in a circuit as far as Illurika, to have fulfilled the good message of the Anointed.”
Yet Christianity was brought to Rome itself long before Paul of Tarsus was ever able to go there. Ostensibly, the Romans and the Trojans are descended primarily from the Zarah branch of the tribe of Judah. (See the paper at Christogenea.org, Classical Records of Trojan-Roman-Judah.) It may well have been for this reason that Paul was prodded by the Spirit to preach in Makedonia before he brought the Gospel to the provinces of Asia and Bithynia: that the Word of God had said through the prophet Zechariah that “Yahweh also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify themselves against Judah” (Zechariah 12:7). Note that both the House of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem are distinguished from Judah in that oracle. While ostensibly, there were people from other Israelite tribes who had received the gospel before this time, it was nevertheless being disseminated almost exclusively through the assembly halls of the Judaeans up to this point, whether they were in Palestine or elsewhere. However the sending of Paul to Macedonia before he went to the Greeks of Asia is, I am persuaded, a sign of the truth and a surety of the fulfillment of His prophecy.
With this we shall repeat verse 12:
12 and from there to Philippos, which is the first city of the district of Makedonia, a colony. And we spending time were in that city some days.
The Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece (NA27), which for some clerical reason admits to be following the Latin Vulgate in this instance, has “which is a city of the first district of Makedonia”; the Codex Vaticanus (B) has “which is the first city of a district of Makedonia”; the Codex Bezae (D) has “which is the head city of a district of Makedonia”; the Codex Laudianus (E) has “which is the first city of part of Makedonia”; the text of the Christogenea New Testament follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A) and Ephraemi Syri (C), and the Majority Text which varies only slightly.
While it is popularly said that Philippi was founded by Philip II of Macedon in 356 BC, in fragments of Strabo’s Geography (at 7.41) it is recorded that “In earlier times Philippi [or here Philippos, after the Greek spelling] was called Crenides, and was only a small settlement, but it was enlarged after the defeat of Brutus and Cassius” when, as it is noted in the Loeb Classical Library edition of Strabo, it was made a Roman colony after 42 B.C. This Philippi was of course the home of the Christian assembly to which Paul had later sent an epistle, where Paul had described his defense of Christianity before the emperor at Rome. In verse 21 of Acts chapter 16 there is a profession that Christianity was not lawful for Romans to adopt. However Judaism was tolerated. In that epistle Paul also recounted how the Philippians had helped provide for his necessities while he was in Thessalonika.
13 And on the day of the Sabbaths we departed outside of the gate by the river, which we supposed to be for prayer, and sitting we spoke to the women gathered there.
Here there is a difference in readings among the manuscripts, which I am persuaded was caused by misunderstandings of Luke's intentions. The Codex Bezae (D) has “which was supposed to be for prayer”, having a form of the verb δοκέω (1380) rather than νομίζω (3543), which in various forms appears here in all of the other manuscripts. The Codex Laudianus (E) and the Majority Text have “which was supposed to be for prayer”, where νομίζω may also be read with the accompanying words here “which according to custom was to be for prayer”, as Thayer notes in his Greek-English Lexicon, but which seems to strain the sense of the accompanying words. The text of the Christogenea New Testament, where the entire phrase is translated quite literally, follows the Codices Alexandrinus (A) and Vaticanus (B), and the Codex Ephraemi Syri (C) which varies slightly. The Codex Sinaiticus (א) has a third person singular form of the same verb, which would read like E or the MT but which appears instead to an error for the text in A, B, and C. (Where E and the MT have ἐνομίζετο, A, B, and C have ἐνομίζομεν, and א ἐνομίζεν.) Since it was customary for Judaeans to gather by a river for prayer (i.e. Ezekiel 1:1 and 3:15), and both Luke and Paul certainly knowing as much, the reading of the text is the most likely since it is apparent that the gate, is the subject of the clause, and not the act of gathering by the river, as many translators have attempted to interpret it, and all of them are forced to add or change the meanings of the accompanying words. The existence of this particular gate by the river, Paul and Luke supposed, was to allow people to go outside of the city to pray by the river.
Ezekiel 1: “1 Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.”
Ezekiel 3: “15 Then I came to them of the captivity at Telabib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days. ”
Ezekiel 10: “20 This is the living creature that I saw under the God of Israel by the river of Chebar; and I knew that they were the cherubims. 21 Every one had four faces apiece, and every one four wings; and the likeness of the hands of a man was under their wings. 22 And the likeness of their faces was the same faces which I saw by the river of Chebar, their appearances and themselves: they went every one straight forward.”
From these passages in Ezekiel, it is wholly apparent that the prophet received his visions as he was praying on the banks of the river Chebar. This is evident also in the writings of the prophet Daniel.
Daniel 8: “2 And I saw in a vision; and it came to pass, when I saw, that I was at Shushan in the palace, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in a vision, and I was by the river of Ulai. 3 Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last.... 6 And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power.”
That the Hebrews, especially when they were without a proper assembly hall or temple of their own, had a custom of praying by a river is therefore evident in the books of the prophets. This not only makes plain this episode of Acts, but also explains the success of the ministry of John the Baptist, and makes it apparent that many first-century Judaeans were eschewing the temple and the synagogues - the organized religious authorities - in favor of prayer at the banks of the Jordan.
Control of religion has always been necessary to the maintenance of the tyrannical state. We shall touch upon that subject again in our next presentation, and the second part of Acts chapter 16.