The acts of the apostles by john calvin edited from the original english translation of



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12. When Gallio. Either the change of the deputy did encourage the Jews to wax more proud and insolent, as froward men use to abuse new things that they may procure some tumult, or else hoping that the judge would favor them, they brake the peace and silence at a sudden, which had continued one whole year. And the sum of the accusation is, that Paul went about to bring in a false kind of worship contrary to the law. Now, the question is, whether they spake of the law of Moses or of the rites used in the empire of Rome. Because this latter thing seemeth to me to be cold, F1181 I do rather receive that, that they burdened Paul with this crime that he brake and altered the worship prescribed in the law of God, and that to the end they might hit him in the teeth with novelty or innovation. And surely Paul had been worthy to have been condemned if he had gone about any such thing; but forasmuch as it is most certain that they did treacherously and wickedly slander the holy man, they endeavored to cover an evil cause with an honest excuse. We know how straitly the Lord commandeth in the law, how he will have his servants to worship him. Therefore, to depart from that rule is sacrilege. But forasmuch as Paul never meant to add to or take away anything from the law, he is unjustly accused of this fault. Whence we gather, that though the faithful themselves never so uprightly and blamelessly, yet can they not escape false and slanderous reports until they be admitted to purge themselves. But Paul was not only unworthily and falsely slandered by the adversaries, but when he would have refuted their impudency and false reports, his mouth was stopped by the deputy. Therefore he was enforced to depart from the judgment-seat without defending himself. And Gallio refuseth to hear the cause, not for any evil will he bare to Paul, but because it was not agreeable to the office of the deputy to give judgment concerning the religion of every province. For though the Romans could not enforce the nations which were subject to them to observe their rites, yet lest they should seem to allow that which they did tolerate, they forbade their magistrates to meddle with this part of jurisdiction.

Here we see what the ignorance of true godliness doth in setting in order the state of every commonwealth and dominion. All men confess that this is the principal thing that true religion be in force and flourish. Now, when the true God is known, and the certain and sure rule of worshipping him is understood, there is nothing more equal F1182 than that which God commandeth in his law, to wit, that those who bear rule with power (having abolished contrary superstitions) defend the pure worship of the true God. But seeing that the Romans did observe their rites only through pride and stubbornness, and seeing they had no certainty where there was no truth, they thought that this was the best way F1183 they could take if they should grant liberty to those who dwelt in the provinces to live as they listed. But nothing is more absurd than to leave the worship of God to men’s choice. Wherefore, it was not without cause that God commanded by Moses that the king should cause a book of the law to be written out for himself, (<051718>Deuteronomy 17:18;) to wit, that being well instructed, and certain of his faith, he might with more courage take in hand to maintain that which he knew certainly was right.



15. Of words and names. These words are not well packed together. Yet Gallio speaketh thus of the law of God by way of contempt, as if the Jewish religion did consist only in words and superfluous questions. And surely (as the nation was much given to contention) it is not to be doubted but that many did trouble themselves and others with superfluous trifles. Yea, we hear with what Paul hitteth them in the teeth F1184 in many places, especially in the Epistle to Titus, (<560114>Titus 1:14, and <560309>Titus 3:9.) Yet Gallio is not worthy to be excused who doth mock the holy law of God together with their curiosity. For as it behooved him to cut off all occasion of vain contentions in words, so we must, on the other side, know that when the worship of God is in hand, the strife is not about words, but a matter of all other most serious is handled.

17. All the Grecians having taken Sosthenes. This is that Sosthenes whom Paul doth honorably couple with himself as his companion in the beginning of the former Epistle to the Corinthians. And though there be no mention made of him before among the faithful, yet it is to be thought that he was then one of Paul’s companions and advocates. And what fury did enforce the Grecians to run headlong upon him, save only because it is allotted to all the children of God to have the world set against them, and offended with them and their cause, though unknown? Wherefore, there is no cause why such unjust dealing should trouble us at this day when we see the miserable Church oppugned on every side. Moreover, the frowardness of man’s nature is depainted out unto us as in a table, [picture.] Admit we grant that the Jews were hated everywhere for good causes, yet why are the Grecians rather displeased with Sosthenes, a modest man, than with the authors of the tumult, who troubled Paul without any cause? Namely, this is the reason, because, when men are not governed with the Spirit of God, they are carried headlong unto evil, as it were, by the secret inspiration of nature, notwithstanding it may be that they bare Sosthenes such hatred, thinking he had lodged wicked men to raise sedition.

Neither did Gallio care for any of these things. This looseness F1185 must be imputed not so much to the sluggishness of the deputy as to the hatred of the Jewish religion. The Romans could have wished that the remembrance of the true God had been buried. And, therefore, when as it was lawful for them to vow their vows, and to pay them to all the idols of Asia and Greece, it was a deadly fact F1186 to do sacrifice to the God of Israel. Finally, in the common liberty F1187 of all manner [of] superstition, only true religion was accepted. This is the cause that Gallio winketh at the injury done to Sosthenes. He professed of late that he would punish injuries if any were done; now he suffereth a guiltless man to be beaten before the judgment-seat. Whence cometh this sufferance, save only because he did in heart desire that the Jews might one slay another, that their religion might be put out F1188 with them? But forasmuch as, by the mouth of Luke, the Spirit condemneth Gallio’s carelessness, because he did not aid a man who was unjustly punished, F1189 let our magistrates know that they be far more inexcusable if they wink at injuries and wicked facts, if they bridle not the wantonness of the wicked, if they reach not forth their hand to the oppressed. But and if the sluggish are to look for just damnation, what terrible judgment hangeth over the heads of those who are unfaithful and wicked, F1190 who, by favoring evil causes, and bearing with wicked facts, set up, as it were, a banner of want of punishment, F1191 and are fans to kindle boldness to do hurt?



Acts 18:18-23

18. And when Paul had tarried there many days, having taken his leave of the brethren, he sailed into Syria, Priscilla and Aquila accompanying him, when he had shaven his head at Cenchrea: for he had a vow. 19. And he came to Ephesus, when he left them. And when he had entered into the synagogue, he disputed with the Jews. 20. And when they desired him that he would stay longer time with them, he did not consent; 21. But took his leave, saying, I must needs keep the feast which is at hand in Jerusalem: but I will return to you again, God willing. And he loosed from Ephesus. 22. And when he was come down to Caesarea, and was gone up, and had saluted the Church, he came down to Antioch. 23. And when he had tarried there some time, he departed, walking through the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.

18. And when he had tarried there many days. Paul’s constancy appeareth in this, in that he is not driven away with fear, lest he should trouble the disciples, who were as yet ignorant and weak, with his sudden and untimely departure. We read in many other places, that when persecution was raised against him elsewhere he fled forthwith. What is the cause then, that he stayeth at Corinthus? to wit, when he saw that the enemies were provoked with his presence to rage against the whole Church, he did not doubt but that the faithful F1192 should have peace and rest by his departure; but now, when he seeth their malice bridled, so that they cannot hurt the flock of God, he had rather sting and nettle them, than by departing minister unto them any new occasion of rage. Furthermore, this was the third journey which Paul took to Jerusalem. For going from Damascus, he went once up that he might be made known to the apostles. And he was sent the second time with Barnabas, that he might handle and end the controversy about ceremonies. But Luke doth not set down for what cause he now took such a long and laborious journey, determining with all speed to return.

When he had shorn his head. It is uncertain whether that be spoken of Aquila or of Paul: neither skilleth it much. Though I interpret it willingly of Paul, because it seemeth to me a likely thing that he did this for because of the Jews, unto whom he was about to come. Assuredly, I think this to be a thing which all men grant, that he made not any ceremonial vow for his own cause, only that he might do some worship to God. He knew that that was to continue only for a time which God commanded under the law to the old people; and we know how diligently he teacheth that the kingdom of God consisteth not in these external elements, and how straitly he urgeth the abrogating thereof. It had been an absurd thing for him to bind his own conscience with that religion from which he had loosed all other men.

Therefore, he did shear his head for no other cause, save only that he might apply himself F1193 to the Jews, who were as yet ignorant, and not thoroughly taught; as he doth testify that he took upon him the voluntary observing of the law, from which he was freed, that he might gain those who were under the law, (<460920>1 Corinthians 9:20.) If any man object that it was not lawful for him to make semblance of a vow which he had not made from his heart, we may easily answer, that as touching the substance of purifying he did not dissemble, and that he used the ceremony which was as yet free, not as if God did require such worship, but that he might somewhat bear with the ignorant.



Therefore, the Papists are ridiculous when they fet F1194 from hence an example of making vows. Paul was moved with no religion to make his vow; but these men place a reigned worship of God in vows. Respect of time enforced Paul to keep the rites of the law. These men do nothing else but entangle in superstition the Church of Christ, which was set free long ago. For it is one thing to bring in use again old ceremonies used long ago, and another to tolerate the same being as yet used, until such time as they may by little and little grow out of use. I omit that the Papists in vain and foolishly compare the shaving of their priests with the sign of purifying which God had allowed in the law. But because we need not stand any longer to refute them, let this one thing suffice us, that Paul bound himself with a vow that he might bring those which were weak to Christ, at least that he might not offend them, which vow he knew was of no importance before God.

19. Entering into the synagogue. In that he shook his garment at Corinthus, F1195 it was [not] done for that cause, (as this place teacheth,) that he might cast off the whole nation, but only such as he had already tried [experienced] to be of desperate obstinacy. Now, he cometh afresh unto the Ephesians, that he might try whether he could find any more obedience among them. Furthermore, it is a wonder, that seeing it appeareth by Luke’s report that he was heard more patiently in this synagogue than in any other place, and also that he was requested to tarry, he did not grant their request. Hence we may easily gather that which I said before, that he had some great cause to go up to Jerusalem in haste. Also, he himself showeth that he must make haste, saying, I must keep the feast which is at hand at Jerusalem. Neither is it to be doubted but that after he had set things in good order there, he departed with their good leave; and we may gather out of Luke’s words that they did admit his excuse lest the repulse should offend them. And this is worth the noting, that when better hope to do good is offered us than we were wont to have, we are drawn unto divers affairs, as it were, by the hand of God, that we may learn to give over ourselves to be governed at his pleasure.

The feast. That which I said of late touching the vow doth also appertain unto the feast day. For Paul meant not to do thereby any duty of godliness F1196 to God, but to be at the assembly, wherein he might do more good than at any other time of the year. For the Epistle to the Galatians doth sufficiently testify what account he made of difference of days, (<480410>Galatians 4:10.) And we must note that he maketh no promise touching his return without using this exception, if it please the Lord. We do all confess that we be not able to stir one finger without his direction; but because there reigneth in men so great arrogancy everywhere, that they dare determine anything (passing over God) not only for the time to come, but also for many years, we must oftentimes think upon this reverence and sobriety, that we may learn to make our counsels subject to the will and providence of God; lest, if we be deliberate and take counsel as those use to do who think that they have fortune at their commandment, we be justly punished for our rashness. And though there be not so great religion in words but that we may at our pleasure say that we will do this or that, yet is it good to accustom ourselves to use certain forms in our speeches, that they may put us in mind that God doth direct all our doings.

22. When he came down to Caesarea. Though Luke saith in a word that Paul saluted the Church at Jerusalem, yet is it certain that he was drawn thither with some great necessity. And yet we may gather by this text that he stayed not long at Jerusalem, peradventure because things fell not out as he would. Moreover, he declareth that his journey in his return was not idle or barren, in that he saith that he strengthened all the disciples, undoubtedly not without great pains-taking, because he was enforced to go hither and thither, and oft to turn out of his way; for this word [kaqexhv] doth signify a continual course. Now, we have already declared (<440936>Acts 9:36) in what respect those be called disciples who had given their names to Christ, and professed the name of Christ; to wit, because there is no godliness without true instruction. They had, indeed, their pastors under whom they might profit. Yet the greater Paul’s authority was, and the more excellent spirit he had given him, so they were not a little strengthened by his by them, especially seeing he was the chief work-master in the founding of all these churches.



Acts 18:24-28

24. And a certain Jew named Apollos, born in Alexandria, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus, being mighty in the Scriptures. 25. He was instructed in the way of the Lord, and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently those things which are the Lord’s, knowing only the baptism of John. 26. And he began to speak freely in the synagogue: whom when Priscilla and Aguila had heard, they took him to their company, and showed him the way of the Lord more perfectly. 27. And when he was determined to go into Achaia, the brethren exhorting him, wrote to the disciples that they should receive him: who, when he was come, he helped them much who had believed through grace. 28. For he overcame the Jews mightily, and that openly, showing by the Scriptures that Jesus was Christ.

24. A certain Jew. This ought for good causes to be ascribed to the providence of God, in that whilst Paul is enforced to depart from Ephesus, Apollos cometh in his place to supply his absence. And it is very expedient to know the beginning of this man of what sort it was, forasmuch as he was Paul’s successor among the Corinthians, and did behave himself so excellently, and did his faithful endeavor, and took great pains, so that Paul commendeth him honorably as a singular fellow in office.

“I have planted, (saith he,) Apollos hath watered,”


(<460306>1 Corinthians 3:6.)

Also, these things have I figuratively appointed unto myself and Apollos, (<460406>1 Corinthians 4:6.) Luke giveth him first two titles of commendation, that he was eloquent and mighty in the Scriptures; afterward he will add his zeal, faith, and constancy. And though Paul do truly deny that the kingdom of God consisteth in words, and he himself was not commended for eloquence yet dexterity in speaking and reasoning F1197 (such as Luke doth here commend) is not to be despised, especially when no pomp or vain boasting is sought after, by using fine words and great eloquence; but he which is to teach counteth it sufficient for him, without fraud or ambition, without lofty words and curious cunning, plainly to lay open the matter he hath in hand. Paul was without eloquence; the Lord would have the chief apostle to want this virtue, to the end the power of the Spirit might appear more excellent in his rude and homely speech. And yet was he furnished with such eloquence as was sufficient to set forth the name of Christ, and to maintain the doctrine of salvation. But as the distribution of the gifts of the Spirit is divers and manifold, Paul’s infancy, F1198 that I may so call it, did no whit let but that the Lord might choose to himself eloquent ministers. Furthermore, lest any man should think that Apollos’ eloquence was profane or vain, F1199 Luke saith that it was joined with great power, F1200 namely, that he was mighty in the Scriptures. Which I expound thus, that he was not only well and soundly exercised in the Scriptures, but that he had the force and efficacy thereof, that, being armed with them, he did in all conflicts get the upper hand. And this (in my judgment) is rather the praise of the Scripture than of man, F1201 that it hath sufficient force both to defend the truth, and also to refute the subtilty of Satan.



25. He was instructed. That which Luke addeth shortly after seemeth not to agree with this commendation, to wit, that he knew only the baptism of John. But this latter member is added by way of correction. Nevertheless, these two agree very well together; that he understood the doctrine of the gospel, because he both knew that the Redeemer was given to the world, and also was well and sincerely instructed concerning the grace of reconciliation; and yet had he been trained up only in the principles of the gospel, so much as could be had out of John’s institution. F1202 For we know that John was in the midst between Christ and the prophets; and of his office doth both his father Zacharias intreat in his tongue, (<420176>Luke 1:76; <420116>Luke 1:16 and 17;) and also the angel out of the prophecy of Malachi, (<390301>Malachi 3:1.) Surely, seeing that he carried the light before Christ, and did highly extol his power, his disciples are for good causes said to have had knowledge of Christ. Moreover, the speech is worth the noting, that he knew the baptism of John. For thence we gather the true use of the sacraments; to wit, that they enter F1203 us in some certain kind of doctrine, or that they establish that faith which we have embraced. Surely, it is wickedness and impious profanation to pull them away F1204 from doctrine. Wherefore, that the sacraments may be rightly administered, the voice of the heavenly doctrine must sound there. For what is the baptism of John? Luke comprehendeth all his ministry under this word, not only because doctrine is annexed unto baptism, but also because it is the foundation and head thereof, without which it should be a vain and dead ceremony.

Being fervent in spirit he spake. Apollos hath another commendation given him in these words, that he was inflamed with an holy zeal to teach. Doctrine without zeal is either like a sword in the hand of a madman, or else it lieth still as cold and without use, or else it serveth for vain and wicked boasting. For we see that some learned men become slothful; other some (which is worse) become ambitious; other some (which is of all the worst) trouble the Church with contention and brawling. Therefore, that doctrine shall be unsavory which is not joined with zeal. But let us remember that Luke putteth the knowledge of the Scripture in the first place, which must be the moderation of zeal, F1205 for we know that many are fervent without consideration, as the Jews did rage against the gospel, by reason of a perverse affection which they did bear toward the law; and even at this day we see what the Papists be, who carried headlong with furious violence, being pricked forward with an opinion unadvisedly conceived. Therefore, let knowledge be present that it may govern zeal. And now it is said that zeal was the cause of diligence, because Apollos gave himself to teach diligently. But and if that man, being not yet thoroughly and perfectly taught in the gospel, did preach Christ so diligently and freely, what excuse do those men hope to have, who know that more perfectly and fully, which he knew not as yet, if they do not endeavor so much as in them lieth to further and advance the kingdom of Christ? Luke doth attribute zeal to the Spirit, therefore, because it is a rare and peculiar gift; neither do I so expound it that Apollos was moved and pricked forward with the instinct of his mind, but by motion of the Holy Spirit.

26. Whom, when Priscilla. By this it appeareth how far Priscilla and Aquila were from the love of themselves, and from envying another man’s virtue, in that they deliver those things familiarly and privately to an eloquent man, which he may afterward utter publicly. They excelled not in the same grace wherein he did excel, and, peradventure, they might have been despised in the congregation. Moreover, they most diligently help him, whom they see better furnished as well with eloquence as the use of the Scripture; so that they keep silence, and he alone is heard.

Again, this was no small modesty which was in Apollos, in that he doth suffer himself to be taught and instructed not only in [by] an handy-craftsman, but also by a woman. He was mighty in the Scripture, and did surpass F1206 them; but as touching the accomplishment of the kingdom of Christ, those do polish and trim him who might seem to be scarce fit ministers. Also, we see that at that time women were not so ignorant of the word of God as the Papists will have them; forasmuch as we see that one of. the chief teachers of the Church was instructed by a woman. Notwithstanding, we must remember that Priscilla did execute this function of teaching at home in her own house, that she might not overthrow the order prescribed by God and nature.


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