They gave him audience unto this word - Namely, that God had sent him to the Gentiles: not that they refused to preach the law to the Gentiles, and make them proselytes; for this they were fond of doing, so that our Lord says, they compassed sea and land to make a proselyte; but they understood the apostle as stating that God had rejected them, and called the Gentiles to be his peculiar people in their place; and this they could not bear.
Away with such a fellow - According to the law of Moses, he who attempted to seduce the people to any strange worship was to be stoned, Deuteronomy 13:15. The Jews wished to insinuate that the apostle was guilty of this crime, and that therefore he should be stoned, or put to death.
And they gave him audience - They heard him patiently.
Unto this word - The word “Gentile.”
Away with such a fellow - Greek: “take such a man from the earth,” that is, “put him to death.” It is language of strong indignation and abhorrence. The reasons of their induction were, not that they supposed that the Gentiles could not be brought into covenant with God, for they would themselves compass sea and land to make one proselyte, but:
(1)That they believed that Paul taught that they might be saved without conforming to the Law of Moses; and,
(2)His speech implied that the Jews were more hardened than the Gentiles, and that he had a greater prospect of success in bringing them to God than he had in regard to the Jews.
In the midst of the tumult the apostle was calm and self-possessed. His mind was stayed upon God, and he knew that angels of heaven were about him. He felt unwilling to leave the temple without making an effort to set the truth before his countrymen. As he was about to be led into the castle he said to the chief captain, “May I speak unto thee?” Lysias responded, “Canst thou speak Greek? Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers?” In reply Paul said, “I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people.” AA 408.1
The request was granted, and “Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people.” The gesture attracted their attention, while his bearing commanded respect. “And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying, Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defense which I make now unto you.” At the sound of the familiar Hebrew words, “they kept the more silence,” and in the universal hush he continued: AA 408.2
“I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.” None could deny the apostle's statements, as the facts that he referred to were well known to many who were still living in Jerusalem. He then spoke of his former zeal in persecuting the disciples of Christ, even unto death; and he narrated the circumstances of his conversion, telling his hearers how his own proud heart had been led to bow to the crucified Nazarene. Had he attempted to enter into argument with his opponents, they would have stubbornly refused to listen to his words; but the relation of his experience was attended with a convincing power that for the time seemed to soften and subdue their hearts. AA 409.1Read in context »