Paul had, in the Acts 21:40; gained a great point, by commanding so profound a silence after so loud a clamour. Now here observe,
I. With what an admirable composure and presence of mind he addresses himself to speak. Never was poor man set upon in a more tumultuous manner, nor with more rage and fury; and yet, in what he said, 1. There appears o fright, but his mind is sedate and composed. Thus he makes his own words good, None of these things move me; and David’s (Ps. 3:6), I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people that have set themselves against me round about. 2. There appears no passion. Though the suggestions against him were all frivolous and unjust, though it would have vexed any man alive to be charged with profaning the temple just then when he was contriving and designing to show his respect to it, yet he breaks out into no angry expressions, but is led as a lamb to the slaughter.
II. What respectful titles he gives even to those who thus abused him, and how humbly he craves their attention: “Men, brethren, and fathers, Acts 22:1. To you, O men, I call; men, that should hear reason, and be ruled by it; men, from whom one may expect humanity. You, brethren of the common people; you, fathers of the priests.” Thus he lets them know that he was one of them, and had not renounced his relation to the Jewish nation, but still had a kindness and concern for it. Note, Though we must not give flattering titles to any, yet we ought to give titles of due respect to all; and those we would do good to we should endeavour not to provoke. Though he was rescued out of their hands, and was taken under the protection of the chief captain, yet he does not fall foul upon them, with, Hear now, you rebels; but compliments them with, Men, brethren, and fathers. And observe, he does not exhibit a charge against them, does not recriminate, Hear now what I have to say against you, but, Hear now what I have to say for myself: Hear you my defence; a just and reasonable request, for every man that is accused has a right to answer for himself, and has not justice done him if his answer be not patiently and impartially heard.
III. The language he spoke in, which recommended what he said to the auditory; He spoke in the Hebrew tongue, that is, the vulgar language of the Jews, which, at this time, was not the pure Old-Testament Hebrew, but the Syriac, a dialect of the Hebrew, or rather a corruption of it, as the Italian of the Latin. However, 1. It showed his continued respect to his countrymen, the Jews. Though he had conversed so much with the Gentiles, yet he still retained the Jews’ language, and could talk it with ease; by this it appears he is a Jew, for his speech betrayeth him. 2. What he said was the more generally understood, for that was the language every body spoke, and therefore to speak in that language was indeed to appeal to the people, by which he might have somewhat to insinuate into their affections; and therefore, when they heard that he spoke in the Hebrew tongue, they kept the more silence. How can it be thought people should give any attention to that which is spoken to them in a language they do not understand? The chief captain was surprised to hear him speak Greek (Acts 21:37), the Jews were surprised to hear him speak Hebrew, and both therefore think the better of him. But how would they have been surprised if they had enquired, as they ought to have done, and found in what variety of tongues the Spirit gave him utterance! 1 Cor. 14:18; I speak with tongues more than you all. But the truth is, many wise and good men are therefore slighted only because they are not known.
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