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Julian Pe Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Jerusalem.
riod, 4745, Vulgar Æra,
adopt names for their children from the Greek, but from the He-
Lightfoot (i), Dr. Clarke, and many others, have attempt. ed to assimilate the r of the Jewish synagogue with the Christian deacons, now appointed. There does not appear to be any other resemblance than this, that one part of their duty was common to both, the charge of the poor. That the office of deacon among the Christians was more than this, has been shewn both from Scripture, and its only right interpreters on these matters, the early Fathers.
(a) Lightfoot's Works, vol. iii. p. 182. Pitman's edition. (b) Hæres. p. 50. sect. 4. ap. Whitby. (c) Ita ordo quidam in Ecclesia singularis jam tum impositione manuum institutus est. Actus quidem, ad quam instituti sunt, nihil aliud est, quam diaкoveiv тpaπélais, et constituti sunt ἐπὶ ταύτης τῆς χρείας, quæ consistebat ἐν τῇ διακονία τῆ kalnμερin. Officium tamen non fuit mere civile, aut economicum, sed sacrum etiam, sive Ecclesiasticum. Mensæ enim Discipulorum tunc temporis communes, et sacræ etiam fuere; hoc est in communi convictu Sacramentum Eucharistiæ celebrabant, &c.-Pearsoni in Acta Apostol. Lectione, p. 53. Schoetgen has decided in favour of the opinion which is apparently best supported by Scripture, that the deacons were of two kinds, of tables, and of the word. The deaconship or ministry of tables ceased after the first dispersion, and Philip then resumed the deaconship of the word. Post daaropàv vero cessabat
Julian Pe- Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of An- Jerusalem. riod, 4745. tioch 31: Vulgar Æra,
6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
διακονία τῆς τραπέζης, et Philippus postea resumebat διακονιὰν τῷ
31 Lightfoot remarks on this verse, it is so constant an opinion of the ancients, that the most impure sect of the Nicolaitans derived their name and filthy doctrines from the " Nicolas," here mentioned, (see Rev. ii. 15.) that so much as to distrust the thing, would look like contradicting antiquity. But if it were lawful in this matter freely to speak one's thoughts, I should conjecture (for the honour of our Nicolas,) that the sect might rather take its derivation from л Necola, "let us eat together;" those brutes animating one another to eat things offered to idols. Like those in Isa. xxii. 13. nan nwa xhiɔy, "Let us eat flesh and drink wine (a)."
As the Nicolas here spoken of was a deacon appointed by the apostles, and therefore must have been filled with the Holy Ghost, it is not probable he should have apostatized so far from the true faith, as to have become the founder of a sect whose doctrines were so disgusting in their nature, and so repugnant to truth, as to bring down the strong condemnation of our Lord in the book of Revelation already referred to.
(a) Lightfoot, vol. viii. p. 434.
Julian Period, 4746. Valgar Era,
The Church continues to increase in Number 32.
ACTS vi. 7.
7 And the word of God increased; and the number of
32 The chronologers of the New Testament have generally assigned the martyrdom of St. Stephen to the year 33, or 34, of the Vulgar Era, from the supposition that our Lord was crucified in the year 33. In this arrangement the opinion of Benson has been adopted, which places the death of Christ in the year of the Vulgar Era 29, and of the Julian Period 4742. This hypothesis will, I trust, be found consistent with the general opinion respecting the date of the martyrdom of Stephen. St. Luke not having given us in the Acts of the Apostles any express data for the chronology of either of these great events, several arguments seem to warrant and justify the dates here affixed to the different portions of the Sacred History, from the ascension, 29, to the martyrdom of St. Stephen, 33.
It will be observed that these dates are as follow:
The establishment of the Christian Church, by the miracle
The increase of the Church, in consequence of the death of
The increase of the Church, in consequence of the impri-
It must be remembered that St. Luke, who was the author of the book of the Acts of the Apostles, was principally anxious to relate the chief circumstances of the life of St. Paul, and those actions of St. Peter, which were introductory to the preaching of the Gospel among the Gentiles. In many instances, therefore, he has not only studied brevity, but has passed over a variety of important journeys and circumstances familiarly alluded to in St. Paul's Epistles. He almost wholly omits what passed among the Jews after St. Paul's conversion-the dispersion of Christianity in the East-the lives and deaths of the apostles the foundation of the Church at Rome-St. Paul's journey into Arabia, and other events. It may therefore excite surprize, that the Evangelist, who is in general so eminently concise, should so frequently repeat similar expressions, unless we consider them as relating to distinct occurrences in the Church. We find for instance in Acts ii. 47. after the feast of Pentecost, the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved.
Acts iv. 32. after the healing of the cripple-the multitude of them that "believed, were of one heart and of one soul."
In Acts v. 14. after the death of Ananias-" believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women."
And, after the release of the apostles, Acts vi. 7.-" the word of God increased, and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith;" all which expressions and different events seem to imply, that a much longer period than one year E
Julian Pe- the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a Jerusalem. Vulgar Era, great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
elapsed before the dispersion of the Church at Jerusalem and
I cannot but think that Daniel's celebrated prophecy of the
There now remains, to conclude the prophecy, the one week, or seven years. In this week (see Dan. ix. 27.) the covenant is to be confirmed-" and in the midst of it he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease." Prideaux assigns to these seven days, or years, the following events.
4739 The first day of the week-the ministry of John begins
4742 The middle of the week-the ministry of Christ.
Highly as I respect the authority of Prideaux, I cannot coincide in this arrangement of events, by which he would interpret this wonderful prophecy. Daniel appears to me to assert, in the most express manner, that the sacrifice shall be caused to cease in the midst of the week, and it could not possibly cease till our Lord, the typified Sacrifice, was offered up. It is further declared, that the covenant shall be confirmed through the whole week. These considerations have induced me to give a more literal interpretation of the passage, which seems to me also corroborated by other chronological calculations. I consider, then, the prophecy to be fulfilled by the following arrangement of events, which I would substitute for those given by Prideaux; and by which his hypothesis is made to harmonize with that of Benson, Hales, and others.
J. P. A.D.
First day of the week-Christ's ministry begins,
In the half-part or middle of the week-the Mes-
The death of Ananias, and the rapid increase of
riod, 4746, or 4747.
Vulgar Era, Stephen having boldly asserted the Messiahship of Christ, is accused of Blasphemy before the Sanhedrim.
33 or 34.
ACTS Vi. 8-14.
8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.
9 Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines 3, and Cyrenians,
The last year of the seventy weeks begins, and
In addition to the arguments already given in favour of the present arrangement, which makes nearly four years intervenc between the death of Christ and the martyrdom of Stephen, I must add the authority of Tacitus, who states that after the death of Christ his religion was for a time suppressed, but that it afterwards broke out, not only in Judea, but through the whole world. This latter clause seems to me evidently to refer to the first persecution of the disciples, when they were obliged to fly from Jerusalem, and carried with them the Gospel in every direction. Some time must have elapsed before the Church could have been so fully established, as to have become obnoxious to the Jewish rulers, its founders being the most despised and humble of men. The passage from Tacitus refers to the persecution of the Christians by Nero-Quos, vulgus Christianos appellabat. Auctor nominis ejus Christus, qui Tiberio imperitante, per Procuratorem Pontium Pilatum, supplicio affectus erat. Repressaque in præsens, exitiabilis superstitio rursus erumpebat, non modo per Judeam, originem ejus mali, per urbem etiam, quo, &c.
33 Various opinions have been entertained respecting the synagogue of the Libertines here mentioned. Mr. Horne supposes, and so likewise do Bishop Marsh and Michaelis, that the word Aibeprivo is evidently the same as the Latin Libertini. Whatever meaning we affix to this word, says Bishop Marsh, (for it is variously explained,) whether we understand emancipated slaves, or the sons of emancipated slaves, they must have been the slaves, or the sons of slaves, to Roman masters; otherwise the Latin word Libertini would not apply to them. That among persons of this description there were many at Rome, who professed the Jewish religion, whether slaves of Jewish origin, or proselytes after manumission, is nothing very extraordinary. But that they should have been so numerous at Jerusalem as to have a synagogue in that city, built for their particular use, appears at least to be more than might be expected. Some commentators, therefore, have supposed that the term in question, instead of denoting emancipated Roman slaves, or the sons