Paul's Chain

From the Differentiator magazine:
Vol. 17 New Series October, 1955 No. 5

Acts 28:20

"For on account of the expectation of Israel I have this chain lying about me."

This one sentence has been made a pillar for a whole system of teaching, namely, that all throughout the Acts period of about thirty years, Paul was labouring with a view to Israel's ancient expectation being attained. The corollary is, that all the Epistles written by Paul during the Acts period must be "Kingdom" writings, in line with Israel's expectation.

If only Luke's very accurate language had been scrutinized closely, this false view would never have arisen. Moffatt fell into the same error in his translation, "I am wearing this chain because I share Israel's hope." But that is not what Luke tells us. Paul had long known that there was no immediate chance of Israel's expectation being realised.

What Paul told the Roman Jews was that owing to, or due to, the expectation of Israel, he had the chain lying about him. That expectation, whatever it consisted of, whether it was Israel's true spiritual hope or merely their then worldly temporal aspiration, was the cause of Paul's chain. Paul was not labouring for the sake of that hope. His chain was no sign of his enthusiasm for the national cause. It was due to the malignity of his Hebrew enemies. That was the cause of his chain. The bulk of the nation no doubt hoped for the return of Israel's ancient glories. But they did not want the kind of Messiah Paul told them of. So because they went about things in the wrong way, Paul had to suffer.

Had Paul meant that he bore that chain for the sake of Israel's hope, he would have used the Greek word huper. But he used a very much more uncommon term, heneken, found in the New Testament about two dozen times only. This word is rendered "for (My) sake" nine times in the Gospels, but this ought to be, "owing to Me." For example, at Matt. 10:39 the true sense is, "he who loses his soul owing to Me will be finding it." Does not this give a sense rather more personal and intimate than the usual rendering? Articles in The Differentiator are written for the sake of readers, but sometimes they are also owing to, or due to, the questions put by readers. In 2. Cor. 3:10 the 1611 version renders beautifully by "by reason of the glory that excelleth."

This will help us to clear up the sense of 2. Cor. 7:12, as follows: "Consequently, even if I write to you, it is not owing to (or, by reason of) the one who wrongs (or injures), neither otherwise owing to the one being wronged, but it is owing to your diligence—that (shewn) for our sakes—being manifested to you in God's sight."

How gently and delicately and sensitively does Paul ever write. How it hurt him to have to denounce and expose the sin recorded in 1. Cor. 5:1. Yet he never forgets that but for God's kindly goodwill towards him, he might have been that sinner. This is the true mark of saintship. Paul would much rather extol the earnestness of the Corinthians, and make them realize it, than denounce the wretched wrongdoer.

What, then, was the cause of Paul's chain? Had the Roman rulers been left to their own judgment, Paul would assuredly have been set free. But they united in declaring him innocent. Claudius Lysias, captain, could find nothing deserving of death or bonds (Acts 23:29). Felix, though he left Paul bound, did not treat him as a criminal (Acts 24:23, 27). Festus gathered that Paul had done nothing deserving of death (Acts 25:25). King Agrippa said, "This man could have been released if he had not appealed to Caesar" (Acts 26:32). Paul tells the chiefs of the Roman Jews that the Romans intended to set him free, because, all along not one single cause of death existed in him (Acts 28:18).

Paul saw, however, that the Jews were determined to destroy him. So, as he could not trust himself to the protection of Festus, he was obliged, in order to save himself from the Jews, to exercise his rights as a Roman citizen, of making an appeal to Caesar. It would seem as though the Jews had insinuated that he had made this appeal in order to possess an opportunity of accusing them of having maltreated him, but even of this wicked charge he was innocent (Acts 28:19).

How relieved must Paul have been when he heard these Roman Jews declare that they had not received information concerning Paul from Judea, that no wicked report of him had been heard in Rome. There was a chance, at least, that Paul's Jewish accusers might not appear at Rome to denounce him. For it was requisite that the accusers must appear in person, with witnesses from Jerusalem. Howson suggests, also, that the report by Festus may have been lost in the shipwreck.

It is evident that God took special steps to protect His servant from his dangerous enemies, because the final two verses in Acts prove that they had been discomfited. I suggest two necessary improvements in the usual translation. Paul remained not "two whole years" in his own hired apartments, but "a whole two-year period" (Greek, dietian holEn, a two-year whole). After this length of time his enemies could no longer bring charges against him. It was too late. We have the same expression in Acts 24:27, "Now, a two-year-period being fulfilled, Felix got a successor."

Not only was Paul now free from immediate danger, but with the Roman Jews not unfriendly, and some of them in his favour, God saw to it that no one could forbid Paul's message. The final word in Acts is not "unforbidden" or "no man forbidding him," but rather "unforbidably"(akOlutOs). His Jewish enemies had failed, miserably.

Alexander Thomson

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Listing of Articles

Who is our God? Chapter 1
Who is our God? Chapter 2
Who is our God? Chapter 3
Who is our God? Chapter 4
Who is our God? Chapter 5
Who is our God? Chapter 6
Who is our God? Chapter 7
Who is our God? Chapter 8
Who is our God? Chapter 9
Who is our God? Chapter 10
Who is our God? Chapter 11
Who is our God? Chapter 12
Who is our God? Chapter 13
Who is our God? Chapter 14
Who is our God? Chapter 15
Who is our God? Chapter 16
Who is our God? Chapter 17
A Female Deity?
Acts 7:15 & 16
All Things
Amos 3:6
An Answer to the Challenge of Hell
Angels & Men One Species?
An Interesting New Version
Are You an Ambassador?
Are You a Pillar?
Are You a Witness for Jehovah?
Are You an Israelite? Chapter 1
Are You an Israelite? Chapter 2
Are You an Israelite? Chapters 3 & 4
A Special Resurrection?
Baptized for the Dead?
"Beloved" or "Loveable"?
Brotherly Love
Book Review
Colossians 1:23
Common or Unclean?
Common Sense
Did Paul Visit Spain?
Did the Lord give up His Flesh?
"Divine" Fire?
Doctoring the Holy Scriptures
Does God know Everything?
Does God will Everything?
Does your Spiritual Life seem Unreal?
Did God hate Esau?
Earth our Future Home?
Emphasis in the Scriptures
English more Archaic than Ancient Hebrew?
Ephesians 1:23
Erroneous Translations
Gleanings from A.T.
Heaven our Homeland
How is Christ God's "Word"?
How many were Crucified?
In the Christ All Shall Be Made Alive
Is Dust the Serpent's Food?
Is the Devil Impersonal?
Isaiah 26:14,19
James 4:5
Jehovah's Theocratic Organization
Jesus the Saviour
John 19:29
The Kingdom of the Hebrews
Leave it with God
Men or Mortals?
Misplaced Ingenuity
New Light on the Second Death
None Other Things
Objective Value of Prayer
Other or Different
Our Advocate
Paul's Chain
Paul the Sensitive
Paul versus James
Prevailing Prayer
Problems of Translation: I Cor. 7:21
Problems of Translation: II Cor. 3:18
Psalm 66:18
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
Rogues and Rascals
Rom 9 & 10: Human Freedom & Human Choice
Romans 9:14-24
Romans 9:30 to 10:21
II Corinthians 5:16
II Peter 3:10
Seven Wicked Spirits
Shall We See God?
Sir, We would see Jesus
Should we fear God?
The Bloody Husband
The Cherubim of Glory
The Corinthian Error
The Cunning Manager
The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah
The Designation of Jesus as "God"
The Disruption Fallacy
The Disruption Fallacy #2
The Eighth of Proverbs
The Eleven "Generations" of Genesis
The Elohim
The Ends of the Eons
The Eternal Saviour-Judge
The Eternity of Hell Torments
The First Christian Convention
The Four Gospels
The Gentiles in Ephesians
The Greek Definite Article
The Hardening of Pharoah's Heart
The Hebrew Conception of Time
The Hebrews Epistle
The Hebrew Terms Rendered 'For Ever'
The Hope of Israel
The Life of Prayer
The Lord Jesus Revealing the Heart of God
The Lord's Relatives
The Lordly Supper
The Meaning of Ta Panta
The Ministry of Women Parts 1 & 2
The Ministry of Women Parts 3 & 4
The "Penalty of Sin"
The Poor in Spirit
The Primeval Laws
The Primeval Laws #2
The Problem of Evil
The Quality of Divine Love
The Rich Man and Lazarus
The Serpent of Genesis 3
The Soul and the Spirit
The Talmud of the Jews Parts 1 & 2
The Talmud of the Jews Parts 3 & 4
The Translation of Acts 28:25
The Trial of the Lord
The Truth of the Bible
The Two Seeds
The Works of Henry Clay Mabie, D.D.
"Three Days and Three Nights"
Translator's Incentive
Truthfulness and Mercy
Try the Spirits
Unto Eternity and Further
We have all been Wrong
What did Peter do?
What does Olethros mean?
What Happened to Jephthah's Daughter?
What is Destruction?
What is the Flesh?
What is the Sin unto Death?
Whence "Eternity"?
Who are the Saints?
Who is Jehovah?
Who Shall Deliver Me?
Why Pray?
Why the "Lake" of Fire?
Will God Punish?
Will the Lord Come for Us?
Will the Man of Lawlessness be Killed?


The Differentiator Revisited 2009