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

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23. Tumult about that way. Concerning this word way, let the readers understand thus much, that it is here taken for that which the Latins call sect; the Greek philosophers call it heresies or heresy. But because in the Church of God, where the unity of faith ought to reign, there is nothing more odious or detestable than for every man to choose, at his pleasure, that which he will follow, I think that Luke did fly that name which was, for good causes, infamous among the godly, and that after the Hebrew phrase, he put way instead of ordinance. And as touching the sum of the matter, we see how wonderfully the Lord did exercise his servant. He did hope when he did address himself for his journey, that the Church would be quiet after his departure, and, lo, there ariseth an uproar at a sudden where he did least fear. But in Demetrius it appeareth what a hurtful plague covetousness is. For one man, for his own gain’s sake, is not afraid F1239 to trouble a whole city with sedition. And the craftsmen, who were as firebrands kindled by him, and do spread abroad the fire everywhere, do teach us what an easy matter it is to cause filthy [sordid] men, and whose belly is their God, to commit all manner [of] wickedness; especially if they live only by gains evil gotten, F1240 and the hope of gain be taken from them.

Moreover, in his history we see a lively image of our time. Demetrius and his band raised a tumult; because, if superstition whereby they were wont to get gains be taken away, their craft will fall to the ground. Therefore they fight as if it were for their life, lest Demetrius go without his fat prey, and the rest want their daily living. What zeal doth at this day prick forward the Pope, the horned bishops, the monks, and all the rabblement of the Popish clergy? Yea, what fury doth drive them so sore F1241 to resist the gospel? They boast that they strive for the Catholic faith; neither did Demetrius want an honest color, pretending the worship of Diana. But the matter itself doth plainly declare that they fight not so much for the altars as for the fires, to wit, that they may have hot kitchens. They can well wink at filthy blasphemies against God, so they lack nothing of their revenues, only they are more than courageous in maintaining such superstitions as are meetest for their purpose. F1242

Therefore, being taught by such examples, let us learn to make choice of such a kind of life as is agreeable to the doctrine of Christ; lest desire of gain F1243 a provoke us to enter a wicked and ungodly combat. And as for those who, through ignorance or error, are fallen unto any ungodly occupation, or are entangled in any other impure and wicked kind of life, let them, notwithstanding, beware of such sacrilegious rashness. And as touching godly teachers, let them learn by this example, that they shall never want adversaries, until the whole world, through denial of itself, offer peace, which we know will never come to pass. Because Paul’s doctrine taketh away Demetrius and the rest of the silversmiths’ gains, they leap out furiously to put out [destroy] the same, will not they do the same whom the gospel shall contrary? But there is no man who hath not occasion to fight. For all the affections of the flesh are enemies to God. So that it must needs be, that how many lusts of the flesh there be [reign] in the world, there are as many armed enemies to resist Christ. It will, indeed, oftentimes fall out, that God will bridle the wicked, lest they raise some tumult, or break out into open rage. Yet, whosoever is not tamed and brought down to bear Christ’s yoke, he shall always hate his gospel. So that faithful and godly teachers must persuade themselves that they shall always have to deal with great store of enemies. Demetrius’ covetousness is manifest. Nevertheless, we must also know this, that he was Satan’s fan, [bellows] who, seeking by all means to overthrow Paul’s doctrine, found this fit instrument. Now, forasmuch as we know that Satan is a deadly enemy to Christ and the truth, do we think that he shall ever want ministers, who shall rage through his motion and persuasion, either with open rage, or else seek to work the overthrow of the gospel by secret practices, or spew out the poison of their hatred, or else, at least, show some token of enmity by fretting and murmuring?

25. By this craft. Demetrius doth in this place filthily betray his malice. It is lawful for a man, in some measure, to provide for his private profit; but to trouble common [the public] peace for a man’s own gain, to overthrow F1244 equity and right, to give over a man’s self to do violence and commit murder, to extinguish that of set purpose which is just and right; that is too great wickedness. Demetrius confesseth that this is the state of the cause, because, [viz. that] Paul denieth that those are gods which are made with men’s hands. He doth not inquire whether this be true or no; but being blinded with a desire to get gain, he is carried headlong to oppress true doctrine. The same blindness doth drive him headlong to seek violent remedies. Also the craftsmen, because they be afraid of poverty and hunger, run headlong as violently; for the belly is blind and deaf, so that it can admit no equity. For which cause, every one of us ought more to suspect himself, when the question is touching our own gain and profit, lest the same covetous desire which made these men so mad take away all difference of justice and injustice, of that which is filthy and that which is honest.

27. Not only this part. This is first disorderly handled in F1245 that Demetrius is careful for religion after other things; F1246 because nothing is more absurd than to prefer the belly before the goddess; but even this is also vain, in that he pretendeth that the worship of Diana is in hazard. For if he had suffered no loss by Paul’s doctrine, he would have sat quietly at home; he would neither have taken thought for the worship of Diana, neither would he have troubled others. What is the cause, then, he is so diligent and so earnest in his business? even this, because he was plagued at home; and because he saw that he and his copartners had no honest or probable cause to make any stir, he goeth about to color [gloss] the matter with some other color. Therefore, to the end he may cover the shame of his wicked fact, he cloaketh it with the title of religion, which is plausible. So that the wicked, howsoever they strive frowardly against God, yet they gather here and there honest excuses F1247 impudently; but God doth not suffer himself to be mocked, but doth rather pull them out of their starting-holes [subterfuges]. There needeth no other witness to refute Demetrius’ hypocrisy, because he cutteth his own throat with his own words, when he betrayeth the sorrow which he had conceived, because of the loss which he sustained. F1248 In like state do the Papists stand at this day; they boast with full mouth that they be patrons of the Catholic faith and of the holy mother the Church, but when they have spoken F1249 thus touching their zeal, in the very handling of the cause they breathe out with open throat the smell of their kitchens. But if we have a desire to handle the cause of godliness purely and in earnest, let us forget our commodities, that the glory of God may have the chief place. For the show of profit doth so tie all our senses with enticements, that though we wander through all manner of wickedness, yet do we flatter ourselves so long as we be determined to provide for our own commodity.

Whom all Asia and the world doth worship. It seemeth to Demetrius an unmeet thing that Diana her majesty should be brought to naught, which all the world doth reverence and worship, and this is a common starting-hole [subterfuge] for all superstitious persons, to pretend the consent of the multitude. But true religion requireth a more steadfast stay than in the will and pleasure of men. There is nothing which at this day doth more keep back the simple and unskillful than that they dare not cast from them (such ancient) errors as are commonly received everywhere. Because they feign and imagine that that which pleased many, though foolishly and rashly, is to be counted lawful. For which cause they be not afraid boldly to set the very name of custom against God himself. But the Lord doth prescribe to us another manner of rule, to wit, that being content with his authority alone, we do not pass either for the opinion of men, nor for our own commodity, nor for the custom of many nations.

Acts 19:29-34

29. And all the city was full of confusion. And they rushed into the commonplace [theater] with one consent, having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions. 30. And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples would not suffer him. 31. And certain also of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, requesting him that he would not enter into the place, [theater]. 32. Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was out of order, and the more part knew not for what cause they came together. 33. And some of the company drew forth Alexander, the Jews thrusting him forward. And when Alexander had required silence with the hand, he would have excused the matter F1250 to the people. 34. Whom when they knew to be a Jew, there arose a shout of all men almost for the space of two hours, crying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.

29. Luke setteth down in this place the nature of the people, as if it were depainted in a table. F1251 Like as if a thousand houses should be set on fire at a sudden, so all the city was on an uproar in one moment; and when such a tempest is once raised, it is not easily stayed. And forasmuch as the servants of Christ cannot avoid this mischief, they must be armed with invincible constancy, that they may boldly suffer the tumults raised among the people, and that they may not be troubled as with some new and strange matter, when they see that the people is unquiet. So Paul himself doth elsewhere triumph that he went valiantly through the midst of sedition (<470605>2 Corinthians 6:5). Nevertheless, the Lord doth uphold the ministers of his word with an excellent comfort, when as they be tossed amidst diverse storms and garboils, and with excellent boldness doth he establish them, when he doth testify that he holdeth the helm of his Church; and not that only, but that he is the governor and moderator of all tumults and storms, so that he can stay the same so soon as it seemeth good to him. Therefore, let us know that we must sail as it were in a tempestuous sea; yet that we must suffer this infamy, as if we ourselves were the procurers of trouble? F1252 neither may anything lead us away from the right course of our duty. So that in sailing we shall be sore troubled; yet will not the Lord suffer us to suffer shipwreck. Furthermore, we see that though sedition be confused, yet doth the people always take the worse part; as the men of Ephesus do now catch Gains and Aristarchus, and they drive back Alexander with their furious outcries. Whence cometh this, save only because Satan doth reign in their hearts, so that they rather favor an evil cause? There is also another reason, because a prejudice conceived upon a false report doth possess their minds, so that they cannot abide to sift the cause any farther.

30. And when Paul would. We may see that Paul’s constancy was coupled with modesty. When as he might well have kept himself out of sight, of his own accord was he prepared to put himself in hazard. And yet he doth not refuse to follow their counsel, who knew the state of matters better than he. If he had not been kept back, that which he determined to do could not have been imputed to rashness. There was no sedition raised through his fault. Why should he not venture his life, especially seeing that he did not despair of better success? But when the brethren, and such friends as were more skillful, dissuade him, his modesty is worthy to be commended, in that he doth not stand stoutly in his purpose.

33. They drew out Alexander. It is to be thought that the Jews did not send forth this Alexander to plead the common cause of the nation, but that they were desirous to bring him before the people that he might be murdered. Nevertheless, the name Jew made him to be so hated, that they did outrageously refuse whatsoever he was about to speak in the matter and cause; yea, he did hardly escape with his life in such an uproar. Moreover, it is uncertain whether this be that Alexander of whom Paul maketh mention elsewhere, (<540120>1 Timothy 1:20; and <550414>2 Timothy 4:14) yet the conjecture seemeth to me allowable. But and if we believe that it is he, let us learn by this fearful example to walk circumspectly, lest Satan carry us away into like falling away [defection]. For we see that he who was at the point to suffer martyrdom, became a treacherous and wicked revolt [apostate].

34. Great is Diana of the Ephesians. This was a clamorous confession, but without any soundness; neither did it proceed from the faith of the heart. For whence came that great divinity of Diana whereof they spake, save only because like mad men they furiously defend that error which they had once received? It fareth otherwise with true godliness, that we believe with the heart unto righteousness, and then doth the confession of the mouth follow to salvation. Therein doth the distemperature and mad stubbornness of all mad men and brain-sick fools differ from the constancy and zeal of the martyrs. And yet, notwithstanding, our sluggishness is shameful if we be not as ready and stout in the confession of a sure faith as are they in their filthy error. For we see what the Spirit of God prescribeth unto us by the mouth of David,

“I believed, and therefore will I speak,” (<19B610>Psalm 116:10).

Acts 19:35-40

35. And when the town-clerk had pacified the multitude, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is he that knoweth not the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image that came down from Jupiter? 36. And seeing these things are out of question, you must be quiet, and do nothing rashly. 37. For ye have brought men which are neither church-robbers, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess. 38. But and if Demetrius and the craftsmen that are with him have a matter against any man, there be open assemblies, and there be deputies: let them accuse one another. 39. But and if there be any other matter in question, it shall be decided in a lawful assembly. 40. For it is to be doubted F1253 lest we be accused of this day’s sedition, seeing there is no cause whereby we may give a reason of this concourse. And when he had thus spoken, he let the assembly depart.

35. Luke showeth in this place that the tumult was so appeased, that yet, notwithstanding, superstition prevailed with the mad people, and the truth of God was not heard. For the town-clerk, as politic men use to do, counteth it sufficient for him if he can by any means appease the outrageous multitude. Nevertheless, the cause itself is oppressed. He saw undoubtedly Demetrius’ malice, and how he had troubled the city, abusing the pretense of religion for his own private gain; but he toucheth not that wound which he knew to be unknown to the unskillful. Nevertheless, to the end he may stay the uproar and contention, he extolleth the reigned power of Diana, and maintaineth her superstitious worship. If Paul had been in the common place F1254 at that time, he would rather have suffered death an hundred times than have suffered himself to be delivered from danger paying so dear for it. For though the town-clerk had not been by him commanded to speak thus, yet it should have been treacherous dissimulation in a public witness and preacher of heavenly doctrine. The scribe affirmeth that the image which the Ephesians did worship came down from heaven, and that Paul and his companions spake no blasphemy against their goddess. Could he have holden his peace, but he must needs by his silence have allowed his false excuse? And this had been to shake hands with idolatry. Therefore, it was not without cause that Luke said before that Paul was kept back by the brethren, and not suffered to enter into the common place [theater].

37. Men which are neither church-robbers. He doth both truly and well deny that they be church-robbers; but he doth shortly after falsely define the kind of church-robbery to speak blasphemously against Diana. For seeing that all superstition is profane and polluted, it followeth that those be sacrilegious persons who translate the honor which is due to God alone unto idols. But the wisdom of the town-clerk, and that carnal, is here commended, and not his godliness. For he had respect unto this alone to extinguish the heat of the uproar; and therefore doth he at length conclude, if Demetrius have any private matter, there be judgment-seats and magistrates. And that public affairs must be handled in a lawful, and not in a disordered assembly — in an assembly gathered by the commandment of the magistrates, and not in a concourse which is without consideration, run together through the motion of one man, and to satisfy his appetite. F1255 He calleth them deputies, F1256 in the plural number, not that Asia had more than one, but because legates did sometimes keep courts in the place of the deputies. Also, he appeaseth them by putting them in fear, because the deputy had occasion offered to punish and fine the city sore. F1257

Chapter 20

Acts 20:1-6

1. And after the tumult was ceased, when Paul had called unto him the disciples, and had embraced them, he took his journey that he might go into Macedonia. 2. And when he had walked through those parts, and had with much speech exhorted them, he came into Greece. 3. And when he had spent three months there, when the Jews laid in wait for him as he was about to loose into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia. 4. And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarebus and Secundus; and Gains of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus. 5. When these were gone before, they stayed for us at Troas. 6. And we sailed away after the day of sweet [unleavened] bread from Philippi, and came to them to Troas within five days, where we stayed seven days.

1. Luke declareth in this chapter how Paul, loosing from Asia, did again cross the seas to go to Jerusalem. And though whatsoever is written in this narration be worthy of most diligent meditation and marking, yet doth it need no long exposition. It appeareth that the Church was preserved in safety by the wonderful power of God amidst those troublesome tumults. The church of Ephesus was as yet slender and weak: the faithful having had experience of a sudden motion [commotion] once, might for just causes fear, lest like storms should ever now and then arise. We need not doubt that Paul did with much ado depart from them; yet because greater necessity doth draw him unto another place, he is enforced to leave his sons who were lately begotten, and had as yet scarce escaped shipwreck in the midst of the raging sea. As for them, though they be very loath to forego Paul, yet, lest they do injury to other churches, they do not keep him back nor stay him. So that we see that they were not wedded to themselves, but that they were careful for the kingdom of Christ, that they might provide as well for their brethren as for themselves. We must diligently note these examples, that one of us may study to help another in this miserable dispersing; but if it so fall out at any time that we be bereft of profitable helps, let us not doubt nor waver, knowing that God doth hold the helm of our ship. And we must also note this, that Paul doth not depart until he have saluted the brethren, but doth rather strengthen them at his departure. As Luke saith straightway of the Macedonians, that Paul exhorted them with many words, that is, not overfields, F1258 as if it were sufficient to put them only in mind of their duty; but as he commandeth elsewhere that others should do, he urged importunately, and beat in [inculcated] thoroughly things which were needful to be known, that they might never be forgotten (<550402>2 Timothy 4:2).

3. Because the Jews laid wait for him. The Lord did exercise his servant so diversely and continually that he set before us in him an example of most excellent constancy. It is not sufficient for him to be wearied with the labor and trouble of a long and wearisome journey, unless he be also brought in danger of his life by those which lay in wait for him. Let all the servants of Christ set this mirror before their eyes, that they may never faint through the wearisomeness of straits. Notwithstanding, when Paul doth journey another way that he may avoid their laying in wait, he showeth that we must have regard of our life so far forth that we throw not ourselves headlong into the midst of dangers. And those who accompany him give no small testimony of their godliness; and we see how precious his life was to the faithful, when as a great many being chosen out of diverse countries to be his companions, do for his sake take a hard and sharp journey not without great charges. Luke saith that Paul tarried at Philippos so long as the days of unleavened bread did last, because he had at that time better opportunity offered to teach. And forasmuch as it was unknown as yet that the law was disannulled, it stood him upon to beware, lest by neglecting the feast-day he should be thought among the rude to be a contemner of God. Though, for mine own part, I think that he sought principally opportunity to teach, because the Jews were then more attentive to learn.

Acts 20:7-13

7. And upon one day of the Sabbaths, when the disciples were come together to break bread, Paul disputed with them, being about to take his journey on the morrow; and he prolonged his speech until midnight. 8. And there were many lights in an upper chamber, where they were gathered together. 9. And a certain young man named Eutychus, sitting in a window, being fallen into a deep sleep, as Paul disputed long time, being more overcome with sleep, he fell down from the third loft downward, and was taken up dead. 10. And when Paul came down, he fell upon him, and embracing him, said, Be not ye troubled, for his soul is in him. 11. And when he was gone up, and had broken bread, and had, having had long conference until it was day, he departed. 12. And they brought the boy alive, and were not a little comforted. 13. But when he had taken ship, we loosed to Assos, thence to receive Paul, for so had he appointed, being about to go by land;

Directory: files -> english -> texts -> calvin -> commentaries
texts -> Ante-nicene fathers
texts -> Henry wace, D. D
texts -> Philip schaff, D. D., LL. D., Professor of church history in the union theological seminary, new york. In connection with a number of patristic scholars of europe and america
commentaries -> The book of joshua by john calvin translated from the original latin, and collated with
texts -> Philip schaff, D. D., LL. D., Professor in the union theological seminary, new york. In connection with a number of patristic scholars of europe and america
texts -> Philip schaff, D. D., LL. D., Professor in the union theological seminary, new york. In connection with a number of patristic scholars of europe and america
texts -> Ante-nicene fathers
commentaries -> The acts of the apostles by john calvin edited from the original english translation of

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