27. When he was determined.Luke doth not express for what cause Apollos would go to Achaia. Notwithstanding, we gather out of the text [context] that he was not allured with any private commodity, but because more plentiful fruit in spreading abroad the gospel did show itself there; because the brethren did more encourage him with their exhortation, and did spur him when he did already run. Which they would not have done, unless it had been for the common profit of the Church. For it had been an absurd thing to entreat a man to depart to another place, whose faithful industry they already used, and did know that they should have need of him afterward, unless there had been some better recompense offered. And I take it that the brethren of Ephesus wrote to those of Achaia, not only that they should provide lodging for the man, but also that they should suffer him to teach. This is holy commendation indeed, when we study to extol every good man with our testimony and consent, [suffrage,] lest the gifts of the Holy Ghost, which he hath given to every man for the edifying of the Church, lie buried.
When he came.The brethren foresaw this, who had already had experience thereof, when they exhorted him to address himself to that journey which he had already in mind conceived. And whereas it is said that he helped the faithful much, we may take it two ways; either that he helped those who were not so well furnished, and that he did support them to beat down the pride of their enemies; for every man was not able to have weapon in readiness, to undertake a hard combat against old F1207 enemies, who would never have yielded, unless they had been enforced; or that he aided them, lest their faith should fail, being shaken with the gainsaying of the enemies, which thing doth oftentimes befall the weak. I take it that they were helped both ways; that having a skillful and practiced captain, they got F1208 the victory in the conflict. Secondly, that their faith was fortified with a new prop, that it might be without danger of wavering. Furthermore, Luke seemeth to note that the brethren were helped with this stoutness and constancy, when as he saith that he disputed publicly with the Jews. For this was a sign of zeal and boldness not to fly the light. Whereas, in the end of the sentence, these words are used, through grace;it doth either agree with the word going before, they believed;or else it must be referred unto the help wherewith he helped the brethren. The former interpretation is nothing hard. For the meaning thereof shall be this, that the faithful were illuminate by the grace of God, that they might believe; as if he had said, The brethren, who were already called by the benefit of God unto faith, were furthered. Yet the other text seemeth to agree better, that Apollos, in imparting that grace which he had received with the brethren, did help them. So that, through grace,shall import as much as according to the measure of the grace received.
28. He overcame the Jews.By this it appeareth to what use that ability which Apollos had (in that he was mighty in the Holy Scriptures) did serve; to wit, because he had a strong and forcible proof to reprove and overcome the enemies withal. Also, the state of the disputation is briefly set down, that Jesus is Christ. For this was out of question among the Jews, that Christ was promised to be the deliverer; but it was a hard matter to persuade them that Jesus, the Son of Mary, was this Christ, through whom salvation was offered. Therefore, it was expedient for Apollos so to dispute concerning the office of Christ, that he might prove that the testimonies of the Scripture were fulfilled in the Son of Mary; and that he might thereby gather that he was Christ.
Also, this place doth testify, that the Scripture is profitable not only to teach, but also to break the obstinacy of those which do not obey and follow willingly. For our faith should not otherwise be firm enough, unless there were an evident demonstration extant there of those things which are necessary to be known for salvation. Surely, if the law and the prophets had so great light, that Apollos did thereby prove manifestly that Jesus is Christ, as if he did point out the matter with his finger, the adding of the gospel must bring this to pass at least, that the perfect knowledge of Christ may be let [sought] from the whole Scripture.
Wherefore it is detestable blasphemy against God in that the Papists say, that the Scripture is dark and doubtful. For to what end should God have spoken, unless the plain and invincible truth should show itself in his words? And whereas they infer, that we must stand to the authority of the Church, and they are not to dispute with heretics out of the Scriptures; their cavil is sufficiently refuted by Luke. For, seeing there was nothing more stubborn than the Jews, we need not to fear but that those weapons whereto Apollos trusted, and overcame them, shall suffice us against all heretics, seeing that by them we get the victory of the devil, the prince of all errors.
1. And it came to pass when Apollos was at Corinthus, that Paul, having gone through the upper parts, came to Ephesus, and having found certain disciples, he said unto them, 2. Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? But they said unto him, Yea, we have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 3. And he said unto them, Wherewith were ye then baptized? And they said, With the baptism of John. 4. And Paul said, John truly baptized with the baptism of repentance, speaking to the people, that they should believe in Him who should come after him; that is, in Christ Jesus. 5. When they heard these things, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came upon them; and they spake with tongues, and did prophesy. 7. And all the men were about twelve.
1. Luke showeth here that the Church of Ephesus was not only confirmed and increased by Paul’s return, but also that there was a miracle wrought there, because the visible graces of the Spirit were given to certain rude and new disciples. Furthermore, it is not known whether they were inhabitants of the city or strangers; neither doth it greatly skill. It is not to be doubted but that they were Jews, because they had received the baptism of John; also, it is to be thought that they dwelt at Ephesus when Paul found them there.
2. Whether they had received the Holy Ghost.The end of the history doth show that Paul doth not speak in this place of the Spirit of regeneration, but of the special gifts which God gave to divers at the beginning of the gospel, for the common edifying of the Church. But now upon this interrogation of Paul ariseth a question, whether the Spirit were common to all everywhere at that time? For if he were given only to a few, why doth he join him with faith, as if they were so linked together that they could not be separate? Peradventure, they were none of the common sort; or because they were an indifferent number, that is, twelve, Paul demandeth whether they were all without the gifts of the Spirit. Notwithstanding, I think thus, that so many Jews were offered in presence of the Gentiles, not by chance, but by the counsel of God; and that at one time being disciples, that is, of the number of the faithful, who did notwithstanding confess that they were ignorant of the principal glory of the gospel, which was apparent in spiritual gifts, that by them Paul’s ministry might be beautified and set forth. For it is unlike that Apollos left so few disciples at Ephesus; and he might have taught them better, since that he learned the way of the Lord perfectly of Priscilla and Aquila.
Moreover, I do not doubt but that the brethren of whom Luke spake before were other than these. In sum, when Paul seeth that these men do profess the name of Christ, to the end he may have a more certain trial of their faith, he asketh them whether they have received the Holy Ghost. For it appeareth by Paul himself that this was a sign and token of the grace of God to establish the credit of doctrine; I would know of you whether ye received the Holy Ghost by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith (<480302>Galatians 3:2).
We know not whether there be any Holy Ghost.How could it be, that men being Jewsheard nothing of the Spirit, concerning which the prophets speak everywhere, and whose commendations and titles are extant in the whole Scripture? Surely we gather by this that Paul did neither speak generally of the Spirit; and that these men, as they were asked, did deny that they knew those visible graces wherewith God had beautified the kingdom of his Son. Therefore, they confess that they know not whether God give such gifts. Therefore, there is in the word Spiritthe figure metonymia. And this sense doth that confirm that if they had altogether denied that they knew anything concerning the Spirit of God, Paul would not have passed over with silence such a gross error; yea, an error altogether monstrous. When he demandeth to what end, or how they were baptized, he showeth therewithal, that wheresoever Christ had been soundly and thoroughly preached the visible graces did also appear, that such worship F1209 might be common to all churches. Wherefore, no marvel if Paul wonder that the faithful are ignorant of such glory of Christ, which God would have to be apparent everywhere at that time; and a correction immediately, he telleth them that they must not stay in those rudiments which they had learned; because it was John’s office to prepare disciples for Christ.
4. John truly. Paul’s admonition tended to this end, that these men being convict of their ignorance might desire to go forward. He saith that John preached of Christ who was to come. Therefore he sent out his disciples, F1210 that running in the course they might go towards Christ who was not as yet revealed. Wherefore, to the end these men may not flatter themselves, and refuse to go forward, he showeth that they be yet far from the mark. For the feeling of want doth enforce men to desire that which is as yet lacking. The sum cometh to this end, as if Paul had said Before Christ was glorified, this power of his did not appear F1211 in the world; when he was ascended into heaven he would have his kingdom to flourish thus. Therefore the graces of the Spirit were much less shed out when John was as yet in the course of his embassage, which do now declare that Christ sitteth at the right hand of his Father forasmuch as he had not as then openly showed himself to be the Redeemer of the world. Therefore know ye that you must go farther forward; because ye be far from the mark. So that he doth plainly show that the faith of the godly who had been taught by John ought to have looked unto Christ who was to come, lest these men should stand still being newly entered, without going any farther.
And even by this also are we taught that the baptism of John was a token of repentance and remission of sins and that our baptism at this day doth not differ any thing from it, save only that Christ is already revealed, and in his death and resurrection our salvation is made perfect: and so baptism was brought unto his [its] effect; because out of that fountain of Christ’s death and resurrection whereof I have spoken, floweth repentance, and thither is faith referred again that it may thence fet [seek] free righteousness. In sum, Paul showeth plainly that that was the baptism of regeneration and renovation as is ours. And because both purging and newness of life doth flow from Christ alone he saith that it was grounded in his faith, by which words we be also taught, that hereupon dependeth all the force of baptism, that we lay hold upon by faith in Christ whatsoever baptism doth figure; so far off is it, that the outward sign doth derogate from or diminish the grace of Christ any iota.
5. When they heard these things.Because the men of old had conceived an opinion that the baptism of John and of Christ were diverse, it was no inconvenient F1212 thing for them to be baptized again, who were only prepared with the baptism of John. But that that diversity was falsely and wickedly by them believed, it appeareth by this, in that it was a pledge and token of the same adoption, and of the same newness of life, which we have at this day in our baptism; and, therefore, we do not read that Christ did baptize those again who came from John unto him. Moreover, Christ received baptism in his own flesh, that he might couple himself with us by that visible sign, (<400315>Matthew 3:15) but if that reigned diversity be admitted, this singular benefit shall fall away and perish, that baptism is common to the Son of God and to us, or that we have all one baptism with him. But this opinion needeth no long refutation, because to the end they may persuade that these two baptisms be diverse, they must needs show first wherein the one differeth from the other; but a most excellent likelihood answereth on both parts, and also the agreement and conformity of the parts, F1213 which causeth us to confess that it is all one baptism.
Now the question is, whether it were lawful to repeat the same; and furious men in this our age; trusting to this testimony, went about to bring in baptizing again. F1214 Some take baptism for new institution or instruction, of whose mind I am not, because, as their exposition is too much racked, so it smelleth of a starting-hole F1215.
Other some deny that baptism was repeated; because they were baptized amiss by some foolish enemy F1216 of John. But because their conjecture hath no color; yea, the words of Paul do rather import that they were the true and natural disciples of John, and Luke doth honorably call them disciples of Christ; I do not subscribe to this opinion, and yet deny that the baptism of water was repeated, because the words of Luke import no other thing, save only that they were baptized with the Spirit. First, it is no new thing for the name of baptism to be translated unto the gifts of the Spirit, as we saw in the first and in the eleventh chapters, (<440105>Acts 1:5, and <441106>Acts 11:6) where Luke said, that when Christ promised to his apostles to send the Spirit visible, he called it baptism.
Also, that when the Spirit came down upon Cornelius, Peter remembered the words of the Lord, “Yeshall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.” Again, we see that those visible gifts are spoken of by name in this place, and that the same are given with baptism. And whereas it followeth immediately, that when he had laid his hands upon them, the Spirit came, I take it to be added by way of interpretation; for it is a kind of speaking much used in the Scripture, first to set down a thing briefly, and afterwards to make it more plain. Therefore, that which by reason of brevity was somewhat obscure, doth Luke better express and lay more open, saying, that by laying on of hands the Spirit was given them. If any man object, that when baptism is put for the gifts of the Spirit, it is not taken simply, but having somewhat added to it. I answer, that Luke’s meaning doth sufficiently appear by the text; and again, that Luke doth allude unto the baptism whereof he spake. And surely if you understand it of the external sign, it shall be an absurd thing that it was given them without using any better doctrine. But and if you take it metaphorically for institution, the speech shall be as yet harsh; and the narration should not agree, that after they were taught the Holy Ghost came down upon them.
Furthermore, as I confess that this laying on of hands was a sacrament, so I say that those fell through ignorance who did continually imitate the same. For seeing that all men agree in this, that it was a grace which was to last only for a time, which was showed by that sign, it is a perverse and ridiculous thing to retain the sign since the truth is taken away. There is another respect of baptism and the supper, wherein the Lord doth testify that those gifts are laid open for us, which the Church shall enjoy even until the end of the world. Wherefore we must diligently and wisely distinguish perpetual sacraments from those which last only for a time, lest vain and frivolous visures [semblances] have a place among the sacraments. Whereas the men of old time did use laying on of hands, that they might confirm the profession of faith in those who were grown up, F1217 I do not mislike it; so that no man think that the grace of the Spirit is annexed to such a ceremony, as doth Jerome against the Luciferians.
But the Papists are worthy of no pardon, who being not content with the ancient rite, durst thrust in rotten and filthy anointing, that it might be not only a confirmation of baptism, but also a more worthy sacrament, whereby they imagine that the faithful are made perfect who were before only half perfect, — whereby those are armed against the battle, who before had their sins only forgiven them. For they have not been afraid to spew out these horrible blasphemies.
8. And going into the synagogue, he spake freely about three months, disputing and persuading concerning the kingdom of God. 9. And when some waxed hard-hearted that they could not believe, speaking evil of the way before the multitude, departing from them he did separate the disciples, and disputed daily in the school of one Tyrannus. 10. And this he did by the space of two years, so that all which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. 11. And the Lord showed no small miracles by the hands of Paul. 12. So that from his body were brought napkins and partlets unto those that were sick, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits came out of them.
8. Going into the synagogue.By this we gather that Paul began with the company of the godly, who had already given their names to Christ. Secondly, that he came into the synagogue, that he might gather together into one body of the Church the rest of the Jews who knew not Christ as yet, or at least who had not as yet received him. And he saith that Paul behaved himself boldly, that we may know that he was not therefore heard by the space of three months, because he did craftily cover the doctrine of the gospel, or did insinuate himself by certain dark crooks. Luke doth also by and by express some token of boldness, showing that he disputed and persuaded touching the kingdom of God. And we know that by this word is oftentimes noted that restoring which was promised to the fathers, and which was to be fulfilled by the coming of Christ. For seeing that without Christ there is an evil-favored and confused scattering abroad and ruin of all things, the prophets did attribute this not in vain to the Mesas who was to come, that it should come to pass that he should establish the kingdom of God in the world. And now, because this kingdom doth bring us back from falling and sliding back, unto the obedience of God, and maketh us sons of enemies; it consisteth — First in the free forgiveness of sins, whereby God doth reconcile us to himself, and doth adopt us to be his people: Secondly, in newness of life, whereby he fashioneth and maketh us like to his own image. He saith that he disputed and persuaded, meaning that Paul did so dispute, that he proved that with sound reasons which he did allege; that done, he used the pricks of godly exhortations, whereby he pricked forward his hearers. F1218 For no profound disputations F1219 shall make us obedient to God, unless we be moved with godly admonitions.
9. Seeing their hearts were hardened.We do not read that Paul was heard so patiently and so favorably by the Jews at any place as at Ephesus at his first coming. For whereas others raising tumults did drive him away, he was requested by these to tarry longer. Now, after that he had endeavored, by the space of three months, to erect the kingdom of God among them, the ungodliness and stubbornness of many doth show itself. For Luke saith that they were hardened; and surely such is the power of the heavenly doctrine that it doth either make the reprobate mad or else more obstinate; and that not of nature, but accidentally, as they say, because, when they be urged by the truth, their secret poison breaketh out.
Luke addeth that they spake evil of the way before the people. For the contemners of the gospel F1220 do resist that deadlily among others which they will not embrace. And this do they to no other end, save only because they be desirous (if it can be) to have all men partners in their impiety. It is well known that every ordinance is understood by this word way;but here it is referred unto the gospel of Christ. Now, Luke saith that Paul departed from them, and did separate the brethren, by which example we are taught, that when we have experience of desperate and incurable stubbornness, we must lose our labor no longer. Therefore, Paul admonisheth Titus to avoid a man that is an heretic, after once or twice admonition (<560310>Titus 3:10). For the word of God is unjustly blasphemed, F1221 if it be cast to dogs and swine. Also, we must provide for the weak, lest through wicked backbitings and slandering of sound doctrine, their godliness be subverted. Therefore, Paul did separate the disciples, lest the goats should with their stink infect the flock of sheep; secondly, that the pure worshippers of God might make profession freely.
Disputing daily.This place showeth how continual Paul’s diligence was in teaching; and that they be too churlish and dainty who are straightway weary of learning. For we see how few come daily, who are ready and apt to hear. And though he had a particular care for the household flock which he had gathered as into a sheepfold, yet he doth not suffer strangers to be destitute of his industry; but continuing the course of his disputation, he trieth whether he can find any which are apt to be taught. He calleth it the school of Tyrannus, meaning no such man as had gotten the government of Asia; for the Romans bare rule throughout all Asia, but it is to be thought that the school was built at the charge of one Tyrannus, and given to the city. Therefore, the faithful did use a public place, which bare the name of the builder, where they had their assemblies.
10.All which dwelt.Luke doth not mean that the men of Asiacame thither to hear Paul; but that the smell [savor] of his preaching went throughout all Asia, and that the seed was sown far and wide; so that his labor was fruitful not only to one city, but also to places which were far off; and that cometh to pass oftentimes, that when the truth of God is preached in one place, it soundeth where the voice of the minister cannot sound, being spread abroad far and wide; because it is delivered from hand to hand, and one doth teach another. For one man were not sufficient, unless every man were for himself diligent to spread abroad the faith.