In the accepted order of the books of the New Testament the fifth book is called The Acts of the Apostles ( praxeis Apostolon ). Some have thought that the title of the book was affixed by the author himself. This is the opinion of Cornely in his "Introduction to the Books of the New Testament" (second edition, page 315). It seems far more probable, however, that the name was subsequently attached to the book just as the headings of the several Gospels were affixed to them. In fact, the name, Acts of the Apostles , does not precisely convey the idea of the contents of the book; and such a title would scarcely be given to the work by the author himself.
The book does not contain the Acts of all the Apostles, neither does it contain all the acts of any Apostle. It opens with a brief notice of the forty days succeeding the Resurrection of Christ during which He appeared to the Apostles, "speaking the things concerning the Kingdom of God ". The promise of the Holy Ghost and the Ascension of Christ are then briefly recorded. St. Peter advises that a successor be chosen in the place of Judas Iscariot, and Matthias is chosen by lot. On Pentecost the Holy Ghost descends on the Apostles, and confers on them the gift of tongues. To the wondering witnesses St. Peter explains the great miracle, proving that it is the power of Jesus Christ that is operating. By that great discourse many were converted to the religion of Christ and were baptized, "and there were added unto them in that day about three thousand souls ". This was the beginning of the Judeo-Christian Church. "And the Lord added to them day by day those that were being saved." Peter and John heal a man, lame from his mother's womb, at the door of the Temple which is called Beautiful. The people are filled with wonder and amazement at the miracle and run together unto Peter and John in the portico that was called Solomon's. Peter again preaches Jesus Christ, asserting that by faith in the name of Jesus the lame man had been made strong. "And many of them that heard the word believed ", and the number of the men came to be about five thousand. But now "the priests, and the prefect of the Temple and the Sadducees came upon them, being sorely troubled because they taught the people, and proclaimed in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in prison unto the morrow." On the morrow Peter and John are summoned before rulers, elders, and scribes, among whom were present Annas, the High-Priest, Caiphas, and as many as were of the kindred of the High-Priest. And when they had set Peter and John in the midst they inquired: "By what power, or in want name have ye done this?" Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, answering gave utterance to one of the most sublime professions of the Christian faith ever made by man : "Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel , that in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth , whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead , in this name doth this man stand here before you whole. He [ Jesus ] is the stone which was set at naught by you the builders, which was made the head of the corner [ Isaias, xxviii, 16; Matt., xxi, 42]. And in no other is there salvation : For neither is there any other name under Heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved." The members of the council were brought face to face with the most positive evidence of the truth of the Christian religion. They command the two Apostles to go aside out of the council, and then they confer among themselves, saying "What shall we do with these men? For that indeed a notable miracle hath been wrought through them, is manifest to all that dwell in Jerusalem ; and we cannot deny it". Here is one of the splendid instances of that great cumulus of evidence upon which the certitude of the Christian Faith rests. A bitterly hostile council of the chief Jews of Jerusalem is obliged to declare that a notable miracle had been wrought, which it cannot deny, and which is manifest to all that dwell in Jerusalem.
With dreadful malice the council attempts to restrain the great movement of Christianity. They threaten the Apostles, and charge them not to speak at all or teach in the name of Jesus ; Peter and John contemn the threat, calling upon the council to judge whether it be right to hearken unto the council rather than unto God. The members of the council could not inflict punishment upon the two Apostles, on account of the people, who glorified God on account of the great miracle. Peter and John, being freed from custody, return to the other Apostles. They all give glory to God and pray for boldness to speak the word of God. After the prayer the place shakes, and they are filled with the Holy Ghost .
The fervour of the Christians at that epoch was very great. They were of one heart and soul ; they had all things in common. As many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them and delivered the price to the Apostles, and this money was distributed as anyone had need. But a certain Ananias, with Saphira his wife, sold a possession and kept back part of the price, the wife being accessory to the deed. St. Peter is inspired by the Holy Ghost to know the deception, and rebukes Ananias for the lie to the Holy Ghost. At the rebuke the man falls dead. Saphira, coming up afterwards, and knowing nothing of the death of her husband, is interrogated by St. Peter regarding the transaction. She also keeps back a part of the price, and lyingly asserts that the full price has been brought to the Apostles. St. Peter rebukes her, and she also falls dead at his words. The multitude saw in the death of Ananias and Saphira God's punishment, and great fear came upon all. This miracle of God's punishment of sin also confirmed the faith of those that believed and drew disciples to them. At this stage of the life of the Church miracles were necessary to attest the truth of her teaching, and the power of miracles was abundantly bestowed upon the Apostles. These miracles are not reviewed in detail in Acts, but it is stated: "And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people" ( Acts 5:12 ). Multitudes both of men and women were added to the Christian community. The people of Jerusalem carried out the sick and laid them on beds and couches in the streets that the shadow of St. Peter might fall on them. They brought the sick from the cities round about Jerusalem, and every one was healed.
The most powerful sect among the Jews at this epoch were the Sadducees. They were especially opposed to the Christian religion on account of the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. The cardinal truth of the Apostles' teaching was: Life Everlasting through Jesus, Who was crucified for our sins, and Who is risen from the dead. The High-Priest Annas favored the Sadducees, and his son Ananus. who afterwards became High-Priest, was a Sadducee (Josephus, Antiq., XX, viii). These fierce sectaries made with Annas and Caiphas common cause against the Apostles of Christ, and cast them again into prison. The Acts leaves us in no doubt as to the motive that inspired the High-Priest and the sectaries: "They were filled with jealousy ". The religious leaders of the Old Law saw their influence with the people waning before the power which worked in the Apostles of Christ. An angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought the Apostles out, and bade them go and preach in the Temple. The council of the Jews, not finding Peter and John in the prison, and learning of their miraculous deliverance, are much perplexed. On information that they are teaching in the Temple, they send and take them, but without violence, fearing the people. It is evident throughout that the common people are disposed to follow the Apostles ; the opposition comes from the priests and the classes, most of the latter being Sadducees. The council accuses the Apostles that, contrary to its former injunction not to teach in Christ's name, they had filled Jerusalem with Christ's teaching. Peter's defence is that they must obey God rather than men. He then boldly reiterates the doctrine of the Redemption and of the Resurrection. The council is minded to kill the Apostles. At this point Gamaliel, a Pharisee, a doctor of the Jewish law, held in honour of all the people, arises in the council in defence of the Apostles. He cites precedents to prove that, if the New Teaching be of men, it will be overthrown; and if it be of God, it will be impossible to overthrow it. Gamaliel's counsel prevails, and the council calls the Apostles, beats them, and lets them go, charging them not to speak in the name of Jesus. But the Apostles departed, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the Name. And every day, in the Temple and privately they ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus the Christ.
A murmuring having arisen of the Grecian Jews, that their widows were neglected in the daily ministration, the Apostles, deeming it unworthy that they should forsake the word of God and serve tables, appoint seven deacons to minister. Chief among the deacons was Stephen, a man full of the Holy Spirit. He wrought great signs and wonders among the people. The anti-Christian Jews endeavour to resist him, but are not able to withstand the wisdom and the spirit by which he speaks. They suborn witnesses to testify that he has spoken against Moses and the Temple. Stephen is seized and brought into the council. False witnesses testify that they have heard Stephen say that "this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered to us". All who sat in the council saw Stephen's face, as it had been the face of an angel. He makes a defence, in which he reviews the chief events in the first covenant, and its relation to the New Law. They rush upon Stephen, drag him out of the city, and stone him to death. And he kneels down and prays : "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge", and dies. Beginning with the martyrdom of Stephen, a great persecution arose against the Church at Jerusalem ; all were scattered abroad throughout Judea and Samaria, except the Apostles. The leader of the persecution was Saul, afterwards to become the great St. Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles. The deacon Philip first preaches in Samaria with great fruit. Like all the preachers of the first days of the Church, Philip confirms his preaching by great miracles. Peter and John go up to Samaria and confirm the converts whom Philip had made. Philip, commanded by an angel, goes down the road from Jerusalem to Gaza, and on the way converts and baptizes the eunuch of Candace Queen of Ethiopia. Philip is thence transported by Divine power to Azotus and preaches to all the coast cities until be comes to Cæsarea.
Saul, breathing threatening and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, sets out for Damascus to apprehend any Christians whom he may find there. As he draws near to Damascus, the Lord Jesus speaks to him out of the heavens and converts him. St. Paul is baptized by Ananias at Damascus, and straightway for some days abides there, preaching in the synagogues that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He withdraws into Arabia ; again returns to Damascus ; and after three years be goes up to Jerusalem. At Jerusalem Paul is at first distrusted by the disciples of Jesus ; but after Barnabas narrates to them Paul's marvellous conversion, they receive Paul, and he preaches boldly in the name of Jesus, disputing especially against the Grecian Jews. They plot to kill him; but the Christians bring Paul down to Cæsarea, and send him forth to Tarsus, his native city.
At this epoch Acts describes the Church in Judea, Samaria, and Galilee as "at peace, being builded up, and walking in the fear of the Lord, and by the strength of the Holy Ghost it was multiplied". Peter now goes throughout all parts comforting the faithful. At Lydda he heals the palsied Æneas; and at Joppa he raises the pious widow Tabitha (Greek, Dorcas) from the dead. These miracles still more confirm the faith in Jesus Christ. At Joppa Peter has the great vision of the sheet let down from Heaven containing all manner of animals, of which he, being in a trance, is commanded to kill and eat. Peter refuses, on the ground that he cannot eat that which is common and unclean. Whereupon it is made known to him from God, that God has cleansed what was before to the Jew unclean. This great vision, revealed three times, was the manifestation of the will of Heaven that the ritual law of the Jews should cease; and that henceforth salvation should be offered without distinction to Jew and Gentile. The meaning of the vision is unfolded to Peter, when he is commanded by an angel to go to Cæsarea, to the Gentile centurion Cornelius, whose messengers were even then come to fetch him. He goes, and hears from Cornelius also the centurion's own vision. He preaches to him and to all assembled; the Holy Ghost descends upon them, and Peter commands that they be baptized. Returning to Jerusalem, the Jews contend with Peter that he has gone in to men uncircumcised, and eaten with them. He expounds to them his vision at Joppa, and also the vision of Cornelius, wherein the latter was commanded by an angel to send and fetch Peter from Joppa, that he might receive from Peter the Gospel. The Jews acquiesce, glorifying God, and declaring that "unto the Gentiles also hath God granted repentance unto life". Those who had been scattered abroad from Jerusalem at the time of Stephen's martyrdom had travailed as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch preaching Christ; but they preached to none save the Jews. The calling of the Gentiles was not yet understood by them. But now some converts from Cyprus and Cyrene come up to Antioch, and preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. A great number believe, and turn to the Lord. The report of the work at Antioch comes to the ears of the Church in Jerusalem ; and they send Barnabas, "a good man full of the Holy Ghost and of faith ", to them. He takes Paul from Tarsus, and they both dwell at Antioch a whole year, and teach many people. The disciples of Christ are called Christians first at Antioch.
The rest of Acts narrates the persecution of the Christians by Herod Agrippa ; the mission of Paul and Barnabas from Antioch by the Holy Ghost, to preach to the Gentile nations; the labours of Paul and Barnabas in Cyprus and in Asia Minor, their return to Antioch; the dissension at Antioch concerning circumcision ; the journey of Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, the decision of the Apostolic Council of Jerusalem, the separation of Paul from Barnabas, in whose stead he takes Silas, or Silvanus; Paul's visit to his Asiatic Churches, his foundation of the Church at Philippi ; Paul's sufferings for Jesus Christ ; Paul's visit to Athens, his foundation of the churches of Corinth and of Ephesus; Paul's return to Jerusalem, his persecution by the Jews ; Paul's imprisonment at Cæsarea; Paul's appeal to Cæsar, his voyage to Rome ; the shipwreck; Paul's arrival at Rome, and the manner of his life there. We see therefore that a more proper title of this book would be "The Beginnings of the Christian Religion". It is an artistic whole, the fullest history which we possess of the manner in which the Church developed.
In Acts we see the fulfilment of Christ's promises. In Acts, i, 8, Jesus had declared that the Apostles should receive power when the Holy Ghost should come upon them, and should be His witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth. In John, xiv, 12, Jesus had declared: "He that believeth in me, the works that I do, he also shall do, and greater works than these shall he do. Because I go to the Father". In these passages is found the key-note of the origin of the Church. The Church developed according to the plan conceived by Christ. There is, assuredly, in the narration evidence of the working out of a great plan; for the reason that the writer records the working out of the great design of Christ, conceived in infinite wisdom, and executed by omnipotent power. There is throughout a well-defined, systematic order of narration, an exactness and fullness of detail. After the calling of the first twelve Apostles, there is no event in the history of the Church so important as Paul's conversion and commission to teach in Christ's name. Up to Paul's conversion, the inspired historian of the Acts has given us a condensed statement of the growth of the Church among the Jews. Peter and John are prominent in the work. But the great message is now to issue forth from the confines of Judaism ; all flesh is to see the salvation of God ; and St. Paul is to be the great instrument in preaching Christ to the Gentiles. In the development of the Christian Church Paul wrought more than all the other Apostles ; and therefore in Acts St. Paul stands forth, the prominent agent of God in the conversion of the world. His appointment as the Apostle of the Gentiles does not prevent him from preaching to the Jews, but his richest fruits are gathered from the Gentiles. He fills proconsular Asia, Macedonia, Greece, and Rome with the Gospel of Christ; and the greater part of Acts is devoted exclusively to recording his work.
In the Acts there are no divisions of the narration contemplated by the author. It is open to us to divide the work as we deem fit. The nature of the history therein recorded easily suggests a greater division of Acts into two parts:
The Acts of the Apostles must not be believed to be an isolated writing, but rather an integral part in a well-ordered series. Acts presupposes its readers to know the Gospels ; it continues the Gospel narrative. The Four Evangelists close with the account of the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus Christ. St. Mark is the only one who essays to give any of the subsequent history, and he condenses his account into one brief sentence : "And they went forth and preached everywhere: the Lord working with them, and confirming the word by the signs that followed" ( Mark 16:20 ). Now the Acts of the Apostles takes up the narrative here and records succinctly the mighty events which were wrought by the Holy Ghost through chosen human agents. It is a condensed record of the fulfilment of the promises of Jesus Christ. The Evangelists record Christ's promises which He made to the disciples, regarding the establishment of the Church and its mission ( Matthew 16:15-20 ); the gift of the Holy Ghost ( Luke 24:49 ; John 14:16, 17 ); the calling of the gentiles ( Matthew 28:18-20 ; Luke 24:46, 47 ). Acts records the fulfilment. The history begins at Jerusalem and ends at Rome. With divine simplicity Acts shows us the growth of the religion of Christ among the nations. The distinction between Jew and Gentile is abolished by the revelation to St. Peter ; Paul is called to devote himself specially to the Gentile ministry, the Holy Ghost works signs in confirmation of the doctrines of Christ; men suffer and die, but the Church grows; and thus the whole world sees the Salvation of God. Nowhere in Holy Writ is the action of the Holy Ghost in the Church so forcibly set forth as in the Acts. He fills the Apostles with knowledge and power on Pentecost; they speak as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak; the Holy Ghost bids Philip the deacon go to the eunuch of Candace; the same Spirit catches up Philip, after the baptism of the eunuch, and brings him to Azotus ; the Holy Ghost tells Peter to go to Cornelius ; when Peter preaches to Cornelius and his family the Holy Ghost falls on them all; the Holy Ghost directly commands that Paul and Barnabas be set apart for the Gentile ministry; the Holy Ghost forbids Paul and Silas to preach in Asia ; constantly, by the laying on of the Apostles' hands, the Holy Ghost comes upon the faithful; Paul is directed by the Holy Ghost in everything; the Holy Ghost foretells to him that bonds and afflictions await him in every city; when Agabus prophesies Paul's martyrdom, he says: "Thus saith the Holy Ghost : 'So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles' ". Acts declares that on the Gentiles the grace of the Holy Ghost is poured out; in the splendid description of St. Stephen's martyrdom he is declared full of the Holy Ghost ; when Peter makes his defense before rulers, elders, and scribes, he is filled with the Holy Ghost ; often it is declared that the Apostles are filled with the Holy Ghost ; Philip is chosen as a deacon because be is full of faith and the Holy Ghost ; when Ananias is sent to Paul at Damascus he declares that he is sent that Paul may receive his sight and be filled with the Holy Ghost ; Jesus Christ is declared to be anointed with the Holy Ghost ; Barnabas is declared to be full of the Holy Ghost ; the men of Samaria receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands of Peter and John. This history shows the real nature of the Christian religion ; its members are baptized in the Holy Ghost, and are upheld by His power. The source in the Church of infallible truth in teaching, of grace, and of the power that resists the gates of Hell is the Holy Ghost. By the power of the Spirit the Apostles established the Church in the great centres of the world: Jerusalem, Antioch Cyprus, Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, Philippi, Thessalonica, Beræa, Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, and Rome. From these centres the message went to the surrounding lands. We see in the Acts the realization of Christ's promises just before his Ascension : "But ye shall receive power when the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth". In the New Testament Acts forms a necessary connecting-link between the Gospels and the Epistles of St. Paul . It gives the necessary information concerning the conversion of St. Paul and his apostolate, and also concerning the formation of the great Churches to which St. Paul wrote his Epistles.
The authenticity of the Acts of the Apostles is proved be intrinsic evidence; it is attested by the concordant voice of tradition. The unity of style of Acts and its artistic completeness compel us to receive the book as the work of one author. Such an effect could never arise from the piecing together bits of writings of different authors. The writer writes as an eyewitness and compaction of Paul. The passages xvi, 10 - 17; xx, 5-15; xxi, 1-18; xxvii, 1; xxviii, 16 are called the We passages. In these the writer uniformly employs the first person plural, closely identifying himself with St. Paul. This excludes the theory that Acts is the work of a redactor. As Renan has well said, such use of the pronoun is incompatible with any theory of redaction. We know from many proofs that Luke was the companion and fellow-labourer of Paul. Writing to the Colossians, in his salutation Paul associates with himself, "Luke, the beloved physician" (iv, 14). In II Tim., iv, 11 Paul declares: "Only Luke is with me". To Philemon (24) Paul calls Luke his fellow-worker. Now in this article, we may suppose the Lucan authorship of the third Gospel as proved. The writer of Acts in his opening sentence implicitly declares himself to be the author of the third Gospel. He addresses his work to Theophilus, the addressee of the third Gospel; he mentions his former work and in substance makes known his intention of continuing the history which, in his former treatise, he had brought up to the day when the Lord Jesus was received up. There is an identity of style between Acts and the third Gospel. An examination of the original Greek texts of the third Gospel and of the Acts reveals that there is in them a remarkable identity of manner of thinking and of writing. There is in both the same tender regard for the Gentiles, the same respect for the Roman Empire, the same treatment of the Jewish rites, the same broad conception that the Gospel is for all men. In forms of expression the third Gospel and the Acts reveal an identity of authorship. Many of the expressions usual in both works occur but rarely in the rest of the New Testament ; other expressions are found nowhere else save in the third Gospel and in the Acts. If one will compare the following expressions in the Greek, he will be persuaded that both works are of the same author:
Nevertheless this well-proved truth has been contradicted. Baur, Schwanbeck, De Wette, Davidson, Mayerhoff, Schleiermacher, Bleek, Krenkel, and others have opposed the authenticity of the Acts. An objection is drawn from the discrepancy between Acts ix, 19-28 and Gal., i, 17, 19. In the Epistle to the Galatians , i, 17, 18, St. Paul declares that, immediately after his conversion, he went away into Arabia, and again returned to Damascus. "Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas." In Acts no mention is made of St. Paul's journey into Arabia ; and the journey to Jerusalem is placed immediately after the notice of Paul's preaching in the synagogues. Hilgenfeld, Wendt, Weizäcker, Weiss, and others allege here a contradiction between the writer of the Acts and St. Paul . Their charge is vain: There is here verified what is the usual fact when two inspired writers narrate synchronistic events. No writer of either Testament had in mind to write a complete history. Out of the great mass of words and deeds they grouped together those things which they deemed best for their scope. They always concur on the great lines of the doctrines and the main facts; they differ in that one omits certain things which another relates. The writers of the New Testament wrote with the conviction that the world had already received the message by oral communication. Not all could have a manuscript of the written word, but all heard the voice of those who preached Christ. The intense activity of the first teachers of the New Law made it a living reality in every land. The few writings which were produced were considered as supplementary to the greater economy of preaching. Hence we find notable omissions in all the writers of the New Testament ; and every writer has some things proper to himself. In the present instance the writer of Acts has omitted St. Paul's journey into Arabia and sojourn there. The evidence of the omission is in the text itself. In Acts 9:19 , the writer speaks of St. Paul's sojourn in Damascus as covering a period of "certain days". This is the indefinite description of a relatively short space of time. In Acts, ix, 23, he connects the next event narrated with the foregoing by declaring that it came to pass "after many days were fulfilled". It is evident that some series of events must have had place between the "certain days" of the nineteenth verse, and the "many days" of the twenty-third verse; these events are Paul's journey into Arabia, his sojourn there, and his return to Damascus. Another objection is urged from I Thess., iii, 1, 2, compared with Acts xvii, 14, 15, and xviii, 5. In Acts, xvii, 14, 15, Paul leaves Timothy and Silas at Beræa, with a commandment to come to him at Athens. In Acts, xviii, 5, Timothy and Silas come out of Macedonia to Paul at Corinth. But in I Thess., iii, 1, 2, Timothy is sent by Paul out of Athens to Thessalonica, and no mention is made of Silas. We must appeal to the principle that when a writer omits one or more members in a series of events he does not thereby contradict another writer who may narrate the thing omitted. Timothy and Silas came down from Beræa to Paul at Athens. In his zeal for the Macedonian churches, Paul sent Timothy back from Athens to Thessalonica, and Silas to some other part of Macedonia. When they return out of Macedonia they come to Paul at Corinth. Acts has omitted their coming to Athens and their return to Macedonia. In Acts many things are condensed into a narrow compass. Thus, to the Galatian ministry of Paul, which must have lasted a considerable time, Acts devotes the one sentence : "They passed through the region of Phrygia and Galatia" ( Acts 16:6 ). The fourth journey of Paul to Jerusalem in described in one verse ( Acts 18:22 ). The objection is urged that, from Acts, xvi, 12, it is evident that the author of the Acts was with Paul in the foundation of the Church at Philippi. Therefore, they say that, since Luke was at Rome with Paul when he wrote thence to the Philippians, had Luke been the author of Acts, Paul would have associated Luke with himself in his salutation to the Philippians in the letter which he wrote them. On the contrary, we find in it no mention of Luke; but Timothy is associated with Paul in the salutation. This is a mere negative argument, and of no avail. The apostolic men of that day neither sought nor gave vain personal recognition in their work. St. Paul wrote to the Romans without ever mentioning St. Peter. There was no struggle for place or fame among those men. It may hare been that, though Luke was with St. Paul at Philippi, Timothy was the better known to that Church. Again, at the moment of St. Paul's writing Luke may have been absent from Paul.
The rationalists allege that there is an error in the discourse of Gamaliel ( Acts 5:36 ). Gamaliel refers to the insurrection of Theodas as a thing that had happened before the days of the Apostles, whereas Josephus (Antiq., XX, v, 1) places the rebellion of Theodas under Fadus, fourteen years after the date of the speech of Gamaliel. Here, as elsewhere, the adversaries of Holy Scripture presuppose every writer who disagrees with the Holy Scripture to be right. Every one who has examined Josephus must be struck by his carelessness and inaccuracy. He wrote mainly from memory, and often contradicts himself. In the present instance some suppose that he has confused the insurrection of Theodas with that of a certain Mathias, of whom he speaks in Antiq., XVII, vi, 4. Theodas is a contraction of Theodoros, and is identical in signification with the Hebrew name Mathias, both names signifying, "Gift of God ". This is the opinion of Corluy in Vigouroux, "Dictionnaire de la Bible". Against Corluy's opinion it may rightly be objected that Gamaliel clearly intimates that the author of the insurrection of which he speaks was not actuated by holy motives. He speaks of him as a seditious man, who misled his followers, "giving himself out to be somebody". But Josephus describes Mathias as a most eloquent interpreter of the Jewish law, a man beloved by the people, whose lectures those who were studious of virtue frequented. Moreover, he incited the young men to pull down the golden eagle which the impious Herod had erected in the Temple of God. Certainly such an act was pleasing to
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