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CHAPTER THE SIXTH.
OF THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.
I. Genuineness of this Book.--II. Its Contents.
III. Its Date.-IV. Place of its Publication :V. Importance of this Book.
1. This Book, in the very beginning, professes itself to be a continuation of St. Luke's Gospel; and its style bespeaks it to be written by the same person. The external evidence is also very satisfactory; for besides allusions in earlier authors, and particularly in Clement of Rome, Polycarp, and Justin Martyr, the Acts of the Apostles are not only quoted by Irenæus, as written by Luke the Evangelist, but there are few things recorded in this book which are not mentioned by that antient father. This strong testimony in favour of the genuineness of the Acts of the Apostles is supported by Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Jerome, Eusebius,
Theodoret, and most of the later fathers. It may be added, that the name of St. Luke is prefixed to this book in several antient Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, and also in the old Syriac version (a).
II. This is the only inspired work which gives us any historical account of the progress of Christianity after our Saviour's ascension. It comprehends a period of about thirty years, but it by no means contains a general history of the Church during that time. The principal facts recorded in it are, the choice of Matthias to be an Apostle in the room of the traitor Judas; the descent of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost; the preaching, miracles, and sufferings of the Apostles at Jerúsalem; the death of Stephen, the first martyr; the persecution and dispersion of the Christians; the preaching of the Gospel in different parts of Palestine, especially in Samaria ; the conversion of St. Paul; the call of Cornelius, the first Gentile convert'; the persecution of the Christians by Herod Agrippa; the preaching of Paul and Barnabas to the Gentiles, by the express command of the Holy Ghost; the decree made at Jerusalem, declaring that circumcision, and a conformity to
other (a) Simon. Crit. Hist. N. T. P. 1. c. 14.
other Jewish rites and ceremonies, were not necessary in Gentile converts; and the latter part of the book is confined to the history of St. Paul, of whom, as we have already seen, St. Luke was the constant companion for several years.
III. As this account of St. Paul is not continued beyond his two years imprisonment at. Rome, it is probable that this book was written soon after his release, which happened in the year 63 ; we may therefore consider the Acts of the Apostles as written about the year 64.
IV. The place of its publication is more doubtful. The probability appears to be in favour of Greece, though some contend for Alexandria in Egypt. This latter opinion rests upon the subscriptions at the end of some Greek manuscripts, and of the copies of the Syriac version; but the best critics think, that these subscriptions, which are also affixed to other books of the New Testament, deserve but little weight; and in this case they are not supported by any antient authority.
V. It must have been of the utmost importance in the early times of the Gospel, and certainly not of less importance to every subsequent
age, to have an authentic account of the pro-, mised descent of the Holy Ghost, and of the success which attended the first preachers of the Gospel both among the Jews and Gentiles. These great events completed the evidence of the divine mission of Christ, established the truth and universality of the religion which he taught, and pointed out in the clearest manner, the comprehensive nature of the redemption which he purchased by his death,
CHAPTER THE SEVENTH.
OF ST. PAUL. I. History of St. Paul to his. Conversion.—II. To the
End of his First apostolical Journey.-III. To the. Beginning of his Second apostolical Journey.-IV. To the End of his Second apostolical Journey._V. To the End of his Third apostolical Journey-VI. To his Release from his First Imprisonment at Rome. VII. To his Death.--VIII. His Character, and
Observations upon his Epistles. 1. Sr. Paul(a) was born at Tarsus, the princi: pal city of Cilicia, and was by birth both a Jew and a citizen of Rome (b). He was of the tribe
i of (a) In the Acts of the Apostles he is called Saul till the ninth verse of the thirteenth chapter, and after. wards he is always called Paul. No satisfactory reason has been assigned for this change. Vide Benson's History of Christianity, vol. 2. p. 28, and Lardner, vol. 6. p. 234, and the authors quoted by him. Perhaps the best conjecture is that of bishop Pearce;
Saul, who was himself a citizen of Rome, probably changed his name, i. e. his Hebrew name, Saul, to the Roman name, Paul, qut of respect to this his first Roman convert, i. e. Sergius Paulus, Acts, c. 13. v. 7." Vide Pearce in loc.
(b) Acts, c. 21. v. 39. c. 22. v., 25.