Of the other three, who are grouped with these two chosen missionaries, we do not know enough to justify any long disquisition. But we may remark in passing that there is a certain interest attaching to each one of them. Simeon is one of those Jews who bore a Latin surname in addition to their Hebrew name, like "John whose surname was Mark," mentioned in the last verse of the preceding chapter, and like Saul himself, whose change of appellation will presently be brought under notice. (See Acts 13:9. Compare Colossians 4:11.) Lucius, probably the same who is referred to in the Epistle to the Romans, (f313) is a native of Cyrene, that African city which has already been noticed as abounding in Jews, and which sent to Jerusalem our Savior’s cross-bearer. (f314) Manaen is spoken of as the foster-brother of Herod the Tetrarch: this was Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch of Galilee; and since we learn from Josephus (f315) that this Herod and his brother Archelaus were children of the same mother, and afterwards educated together at Rome, it is probable that this Christian prophet or teacher had spent his early childhood with those two princes, who were now both banished from Palestine to the banks of the Rhone. (f316)
These were the most conspicuous persons in the Church of Antioch, when a revelation was received of the utmost importance. The occasion on which the revelation was made seems to have been a fit preparation for it. The Christians were engaged in religious services of peculiar solemnity. The Holy Ghost spoke to them "as they ministered unto the Lord and fasted." The word here translated "ministered," has been taken by opposite controversialists to denote the celebration of the "sacrifice of the mass" on the one hand, or the exercise of the office of "preaching" on the other. It will be safer if we say simply that the Christian community at Antioch was engaged in one united act of prayer and humiliation. That this solemnity would be accompanied by words of exhortation, and that it would be crowned and completed by the Holy Communion, is more than probable; that it was accompanied with Fasting (f317) we are expressly told. These religious services might have had a special reference to the means which were to be adopted for the spread of the Gospel now evidently intended for all; and the words "separate me now (f318) Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them," may have been an answer to specific prayers. How this revelation was made, whether by the mouth of some of the prophets who were present, or by the impulse of a simultaneous and general inspiration, — whether the route to be taken by Barnabas and Saul was at this time precisely indicated, (f319) — and whether they had previously received a conscious personal call, of which this was the public ratification, (f320) — it is useless to inquire. A definite work was pointed out, as now about to be begun under the counsel of God; two definite agents in this work were publicly singled out: and we soon see them sent forth to their arduous undertaking, with the sanction of the Church at Antioch.
Their final consecration and departure was the occasion of another religious solemnity. A fast was appointed, and prayers were offered up; and, with that simple ceremony of ordination (f321) which we trace through the earlier periods of Jewish history, and which we here see adopted under the highest authority in the Christian Church, "they laid their hands on them, and sent them away." The words are wonderfully simple; but those who devoutly reflect on this great occasion, and on the position of the first Christians at Antioch, will not find it difficult to imagine the thoughts which occupied the hearts of the Disciples during these first "Ember Days of the Church (f322) — their deep sense of the importance of the work which was now beginning, — their faith in God, on whom they could rely in the midst of such difficulties, — their suspense during the absence of those by whom their own faith had been fortified, — their anxiety for the intelligence they might bring on their return.
Their first point of destination was the island of Cyprus. It is not necessary, though quite allowable, to suppose that this particular course was divinely indicated in the original revelation at Antioch. Four reasons at least can be stated, which may have induced the Apostles, in the exercise of a wise discretion, to turn in the first instance to this island. It is separated by no great distance from the mainland of Syria; its high mountain-summits are easily seen (f323) in clear weather from the coast near the mouth of the Orontes; and in the summer season many vessels must often have been passing and repassing between Salamis and Seleucia. Besides this, it was the native-place of Barnabas. (Acts 4:36.) Since the time when "Andrew found his brother Simon,and brought him to Jesus," (John 1:41, 42.) and the Savior was beloved in the house of "Martha and her sister and Lazarus," (John 11:5.) the ties of family relationship had not been without effect on the progress of the Gospel. (f324) It could not be unnatural to suppose that the truth would be welcomed in Cyprus, when it was brought by Barnabas and his kinsman Mark (f325) to their own connections or friends. Moreover, the Jews were numerous in Salamis. (f326) By sailing to that city they were following the track of the synagogues. Their mission, it is true, was chiefly to the Gentiles; but their surest course for reaching them was through the medium of the Proselytes and the Hellenistic Jews. To these considerations we must add, in the fourth place, that some of the Cypriotes were already Christians. No one place out of Palestine, with the exception of Antioch, had been so honorably associated with the work of successful evangelization. (See Acts 4:36, 11:19, 20, 21:16.)
The palaces of Antioch were connected with the sea by the river Orontes. Strabo says that in his time they sailed up the stream in one day; and Pausanias speaks of great Roman works which had improved the navigation of the channel. Probably it was navigable by vessels of some considerable size, and goods and passengers were conveyed by water between the city and the sea. Even in our own day, though there is now a bar at the mouth of the river, there has been a serious project of uniting it by a canal with the Euphrates, and so of re-establishing one of the old lines of commercial intercourse between the Mediterranean and the Indian Sea. The Orontes comes from the valley between Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon, and does not, like many rivers, vary capriciously between a winter-torrent and a thirsty watercourse, but flows on continually to the sea. Its waters are not clear, but they are deep and rapid. Their course has been compared to that of the Wye. They wind round the bases of high and precipitous cliffs, or by richly cultivated banks, where the vegetation of the south, — the vine and the fig-tree, the myrtle, the bay, the ilex, and the arbutus, — is mingled with dwarf oak and English sycamore. (f327) If Barnabas and Saul came down by water from Antioch, this was the course of the boat which conveyed them. If they traveled the five or six leagues (f328) by land, they crossed the river at the north side of Antioch, and came along the base of the Pierian hills by a route which is now roughly covered with fragrant and picturesque shrubs, but which then doubtless was a track well worn by travelers, like the road from the Piraeus to Athens, or from Ostia to Rome. (f329)
Seleucia united the two characters of a fortress and a seaport. It was situated on a rocky eminence, which is the southern extremity of an elevated range of hills projecting from Mount Amanus. Prom the southeast, where the ruins of the Antioch Gate are still conspicuous, the ground rose towards the north-east into high and craggy summits; and round the greater part of its circumference of four miles the city was protected by its natural position. The harbor and mercantile suburb were on level ground towards the west; but here, as on the only weak point at Gibraltar, strong artificial defenses had made compensation for the deficiency of nature. Seleucus, who had named his metropolis in his father’s honor (p. 113), gave his own name to this maritime fortress; and here, around his tomb, (f330) his successors contended for the key of Syria. (f331) "Seleucia by the sea" was a place of great importance under the Seleucids and the Ptolemies; and so it remained under the sway of the Romans. In consequence of its bold resistance to Tigranes, when he was in possession of all the neighboring country, Pompey gave it the privileges of a "Free City;" (f332) and a contemporary of St. Paul speaks of it as having those privileges still. (f333)
The most remarkable work among the extant remains of Seleucia is an immense excavation, — probably the same with that which is mentioned by Polybius, — leading from the upper part of the ancient city to the sea. It consists alternately of tunnels and deep open cuttings. It is difficult to give a confident opinion as to the uses for which it was intended. But the best conjecture seems to be that it was constructed for the purpose of drawing off the water, which might otherwise have done mischief to the houses and shipping in the lower part of the town; and so arranged at the same time, as, when needful, to supply a rush of water to clear out the port. The inner basin, or dock, is now a morass; but its dimensions can be measured, and the walls that surrounded it can be distinctly traced. (f334) The position of the ancient flood-gates, and the passage through which the vessels were moved from the inner to the outer harbor, can be accurately marked. The very piers of the outer harbor are still to be seen under the water. The southern jetty takes the wider sweep, and overlaps the northern, forming a secure entrance and a well-protected basin. The stones are of great size, "some of them twenty feet long, five feet deep, and six feet wide;" (f335) and they were fastened to each other with iron cramps. The masonry of ancient Seleucia is still so good, that not long since a Turkish Pacha (f336) conceived the idea of clearing out and repairing the harbor.
These piers (f337) were unbroken when Saul and Barnabas came down to Seleucia, and the large stones fastened by their iron cramps protected the vessels in the harbor from the swell of the western sea. Here, in the midst of unsympathizing sailors, the two missionary Apostles, with their younger companion, stepped on board the vessel which was to convey them to Salamis. As they cleared the port, the whole sweep of the bay of Antioch opened on their left, — the low ground by the mouth of the Orontes, — the wild and woody country beyond it, — and then the peak of Mount Casius, rising symmetrically from the very edge of the sea to a height of five thousand feet. (f338) On the right, in the south-west horizon, if the day was clear, they saw the island of Cyprus from the first. (f339) The current sets north-east and northerly between the island and the Syrian coast. (f340) But with a fair wind, a few hours would enable them to run down from Seleucia to Salamis; and the land would rapidly rise in forms well known and familiar to Barnabas and Mark.
The coast of nearly every island of the Mediterranean has been minutely surveyed and described by British naval officers. The two islands which were most intimately connected with St. Paul’s voyages have been among the latest to receive this kind of illustration. The soundings of the coast of Crete are now proved to furnish a valuable commentary on the twenty-seventh chapter of the Acts: and the chart of Cyprus should at least be consulted when we read the thirteenth chapter. From Cape St. Andrea, the north-eastern point of the island, the coast trends rapidly to the west, till it reaches Cape Grego, (f341) the southeastern extremity. The wretched modern town of Famagousta is nearer the latter point than the former, and the ancient Salamis was situated a short distance to the north of Famagousta. Near Cape St. Andrea are two or three small islands, anciently called "The Keys." These, if they were seen at all, would soon be lost to view. Cape Grego is distinguished by a singular promontory of table land, which is very familiar to the sailors of our merchantmen and ships of war: and there is little doubt that the woodcut given in one of their manuals of sailing directions (f342) represents that very "rough, lofty, table-shaped eminence" which Strabo mentions in his description of the coast, and which has been identified with the Idalium of the classical poets.
The ground lies low in the neighborhood of Salamis; and the town was situated on a bight of the coast to the north of the river Pediaeus. This low land is the largest plain in Cyprus, and the Pediaeus is the only true river in the island, the rest being merely winter-torrents, flowing in the wet season from the two mountain ranges which intersect it from east to west. This plain probably represents the kingdom of Teucer, which is familiar to us in the early stories of legendary Greece. It stretches inwards between the two mountain ranges to the very heart of the country, where the modern Turkish capital, Nicosia, is situated. (f343) In the days of historical Greece, Salamis was the capital. Under the Roman Empire, if not the seat of government, it was at least the most important mercantile town. We have the best reasons for believing that the harbor was convenient and capacious. (f344) Thus we can form to ourselves some idea of the appearance of the place in the reign of Claudius. A large city by the seashore, a wide-spread plain with corn-fields and orchards, and the blue distance of mountains beyond, composed the view on which the eyes of Barnabas and Saul rested when they came to anchor in the bay of Salamis.
The Jews, as we should have been prepared to expect, were numerous in Salamis. This fact is indicated to us in the sacred narrative; for we learn that this city had several synagogues, while other cities had often only one. (Acts 13:5. Compare Acts 6:9, 9:20, and Contrast Acts 17:1, 18:4.) The Jews had doubtless been established here in considerable numbers in the active period which succeeded the death of Alexander. (f345) The unparalleled productiveness of Cyprus, and its trade in fruit, wine, flax, and honey, would naturally attract them to the mercantile port. The farming of the copper mines by Augustus to Herod may probably have swelled their numbers. (f346) One of the most conspicuous passages in the history of Salamis was the insurrection of the Jews in the reign of Trajan, when great part of the city was destroyed. (f347) Its demolition was completed by an earthquake. It was rebuilt by a Christian emperor, from whom it received its mediaeval name of Constantia. (f348)
It appears that the proclamation of the Gospel was confined by Barnabas and Saul to the Jews and the synagogues. We have no information of the length of their stay, or the success of their labors. Some stress seems to be laid on the fact that John (i.e. Mark) "was their minister." Perhaps we are to infer from this, that his hands baptized the Jews and Proselytes, who were convinced by the preaching of the Apostles.
From Salamis they traveled to Paphos, at the other extremity of the island. The two towns were probably connected together by a traveled and frequented road. (f349) It is indeed likely that, even under the Empire, the islands of the Greek part of the Mediterranean, as Crete and Cyprus, were not so completely provided with lines of internal communication as those which were nearer the metropolis, and had been longer under Roman occupation, such as Corsica and Sardinia. But we cannot help believing that Roman roads were laid down in Cyprus and Crete, after the manner of the modern English roads in Corfu and the other Ionian islands, which islands, in their social and political condition, present many points of resemblance to those which were under the Roman sway in the time of St. Paul. On the whole, there is little doubt that his journey from Salamis to Paphos, a distance from east to west of not more than a hundred miles, was accomplished in a short time and without difficulty.
Paphos was the residence of the Roman governor. The appearance of the place (if due allowance is made for the differences of the nineteenth century and the first) may be compared with that of the town of Corfu in the present day, with its strong garrison of imperial soldiers in the midst of a Greek population, with its mixture of two languages, with its symbols of a strong and steady power side by side with frivolous amusements, and with something of the style of a court about the residence of its governor. All the occurrences, which are mentioned at Paphos as taking place on the arrival of Barnabas and Saul, are grouped so entirely round the governor’s person, that our attention must be turned for a time to the condition of Cyprus as a Roman province, and the position and character of Sergius Paulus.
From the time when Augustus united the world under his own power, the provinces were divided into two different classes. The business of the first Emperor’s life was to consolidate the imperial system under the show of administering a republic. He retained the names and semblances of those liberties and rights which Rome had once enjoyed. He found two names in existence, the one of which was henceforth inseparably blended with the Imperial dignity and Military command, the other with the authority of the Senate and its Civil administration. The first of these names was "Praetor," the second was "Consul." Both of them were retained in Italy; and both were reproduced in the Provinces as "Propraetor" and "Proconsul." (f350) He told the senate and people that he would relieve them of all the anxiety of military proceedings, and that he would resign to them those provinces where soldiers were unnecessary to secure the fruits of a peaceful administration. (f351) He would take upon himself all the care and risk of governing the other provinces, where rebellion might be apprehended, and where the proximity of warlike tribes made the presence of the legions perpetually needful. These were his professions to the Senate: but the real purpose of this ingenious arrangement was the disarming of the Republic, and the securing to himself the absolute control of the whole standing army of the Empire. (f352) The scheme was sufficiently transparent; but there was no sturdy national life in Italy to resist his despotic innovations, and no foreign civilized powers to arrest the advance of imperial aggrandizement; and thus it came to pass that Augustus, though totally destitute of the military genius either of Cromwell or Napoleon, transmitted to his successors a throne guarded by an invincible army, and a system of government destined to endure through several centuries.
Hence we find in the reign, not only of Augustus, but of each of his successors, from Tiberius to Nero, the provinces divided into these two classes. On the one side we have those which are supposed to be under the Senate and people. The governor is appointed by lot, as in the times of the old republic. He carries with him the lictors and fasces, the insignia of a Consul; but he is destitute of military power. His office must be resigned at the expiration of a year. He is styled "Proconsul," and the Greeks, translating the term, call him [greek word] (f353) On the other side are the provinces of Caesar. The Governor may be styled "Propraetor," or [greek word] ; but he is more properly "Legatus," or [greek word] — the representative or "Commissioner" of the Emperor. He goes out from Italy with all the pomp of a military commander, and he does not return till the Emperor recalls him. (f354) And to complete the symmetry and consistency of the system, the subordinate districts of these imperial provinces are regulated by the Emperor’s "Procurator" [greek word], or "High Steward." The New Testament, in the strictest conformity with the other historical authorities of the period, gives us examples of both kinds of provincial administration. We are told by Strabo, and by Dio Cassius, that "Asia" and "Achaia" were assigned to the Senate; and the title, which in each case is given to the Governor in the Acts of the Apostles, is "Proconsul." (f355) The same authorities inform us that Syria was an imperial province, (f356) and no such title as "Proconsul" is assigned by the sacred writers to "Cyrenius Governor of Syria," (Luke 2:2.) or to Pilate, Festus, and Felix, (f357) the Procurators of Judaea, which, as we have seen (p. 23), was a dependency of that great and unsettled province.
Dio Cassius informs us, in the same passage where he tells us that Asia and Achaia were provinces of the Senate, that Cyprus was retained by the Emperor for himself. (f358) If we stop here, we naturally ask the question, — and some have asked the question rather hastily, — how it comes to pass that St. Luke speaks of Sergius Paulus by the style of "Proconsul"? But any hesitation concerning the strict accuracy of the sacred historian’s language is immediately set at rest by the very next sentence of the secular historian, (f359) — in which he informs us that Augustus restored Cyprus to the Senate in exchange for another district of the Empire, — a statement which he again repeats in a later passage of his work. (f360) It is evident, then, that the governor’s style and title from this time forward would be "Proconsul." But this evidence, however satisfactory, is not all that we possess. The coin, which is engraved at the end of the chapter, distinctly presents to us a Cyprian Proconsul of the reign of Claudius. And inscriptions, which could easily be adduced, (f361) supply us with the names of additional governors, (f362) who were among the predecessors or successors of Sergius Paulus.
It is remarkable that two men called Sergius Paulus are described in very similar terms by two physicians who wrote in Greek, the one a Heathen, the other a Christian. The Heathen writer is Galen. He speaks of his contemporary as a man interested and well versed in philosophy. (f363) The Christian writer is St. Luke, who tells us here that the governor of Cyprus was a "prudent" man, who "desired to hear the Word of God." This governor seems to have been of a candid and inquiring mind; nor will this philosophical disposition be thought inconsistent with his connection with the Jewish impostor, whom Saul and Barnabas found at the Paphian court, by those who are acquainted with the intellectual and religious tendencies of the age.
For many years before this time, and many years after, impostors from the East, pretending to magical powers, had great influence over the Roman mind. All the Greek and Latin literature of the empire, from Horace to Lucian, abounds in proof of the prevalent credulity of this sceptical period. Unbelief, when it has become conscious of its weakness, is often glad to give its hand to superstition. The faith of educated Romans was utterly gone. We can hardly wonder, when the East was thrown open, — the land of mystery, — the fountain of the earliest migrations, — the cradle of the earliest religions, — that the imagination both of the populace and the aristocracy of Rome became fanatically excited, and that they greedily welcomed the most absurd and degrading superstitions. Not only was the metropolis of the empire crowded with "hungry Greeks," but "Syrian fortune-tellers" flocked into all the haunts of public amusement. Athens and Corinth did not now contribute the greatest or the worst part of the "dregs" of Rome; but (to adopt Juvenal’s use of that river of Antioch we have lately been describing) "the Orontes itself flowed into the Tiber."
Every part of the East contributed its share to the general superstition. The gods of Egypt and Phrygia found unfailing votaries. Before the close of the republic, the temples of Isis and Serapis had been more than once erected, destroyed, and renewed. Josephus tells us that certain disgraceful priests of Isis (f364) were crucified at Rome by the second Emperor; but this punishment was only a momentary check to their sway over the Roman mind. The more remote districts of Asia Minor sent their itinerant soothsayers; Syria sent her music and her medicines; Chaldaea her "Babylonian numbers" and "mathematical calculations." (f365) To these corrupters of the people of Romulus we must add one more Asiatic nation, — the nation of the Israelites; — and it is an instructive employment to observe that, while some members of the Jewish people were rising, by the Divine power, to the highest position ever occupied by men on earth, others were sinking themselves, and others along with them, to the lowest and most contemptible degradation. The treatment and influence of the Jews at Rome were often too similar to those of other Orientals. One year we find them banished; (Acts 18:2) another year we see them quietly re-established. (Acts 28:17.) The Jewish beggar-woman was the gypsy of the first century, shivering and crouching in the outskirts of the city, and telling fortunes, (f366) as Ezekiel said of old, "for handfuls of barley, and for pieces of bread." (Ezekiel 13:19.) All this catalogue of Oriental impostors, whose influx into Rome was a characteristic of the period, we can gather from that revolting satire of Juvenal, in which he scourges the follies and vices of the Roman women. But not only were the women of Rome drawn aside into this varied and multiplied fanaticism; but the eminent men of the declining republic, and the absolute sovereigns of the early Empire, were tainted and enslaved by the same superstitions.
The great Marius had in his camp a Syrian, probably a Jewish, (f367) prophetess, by whose divinations he regulated the progress of his campaigns. As Brutus, at the beginning of the republic, had visited the oracle of Delphi, so Pompey, Crassus, and Caesar, at the close of the republic, when the oracles were silent, (f368) sought information from Oriental astrology. No picture in the great Latin satirist is more powerfully drawn than that in which he shows us the Emperor Tiberius "sitting on the rock of Capri, with his flock of Chaldaeans round him." (f369) No sentence in the great Latin historian is more bitterly emphatic than that in which he says that the astrologers and sorcerers are a class of men who "will always be discarded and always cherished." (f370)
What we know, from the literature of the period, to have been the case in Rome and in the Empire at large, we see exemplified in a province in the case of Sergius Paulus. He had attached himself to "a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus, and who had given himself the Arabic name of "Elymas," or "The Wise." But the Proconsul was not so deluded by the false prophet, (f371) as to be unable, or unwilling, to listen to the true. "He sent for Barnabas and Saul," of whose arrival he was informed, and whose free and public declaration of the "Word of God" attracted his inquiring mind. Elymas used every exertion to resist them, and to hinder the Proconsul’s mind from falling under the influence of their Divine doctrine. Truth and falsehood were brought into visible conflict with each other. It is evident, from the graphic character of the narrative, — the description of Paul "setting his eyes" (f372) on the sorcerer, — "the mist and the darkness" which fell on Barjesus, — the "groping about for some one to lead him," (f373) — that the opposing wonder-workers stood face to face in the presence of the Proconsul, — as Moses and Aaron withstood the magicians at the Egyptian court - Sergius Paulus being in this respect different from Pharaoh, thai he did not "harden his heart."
The miracles of the New Testament are generally distinguished from those of the Old by being for the most part works of mercy and restoration, not of punishment and destruction. Two only of our Lord’s miracles were inflictions of severity, and these were attended with no harm to the bodies of men. The same law of mercy pervades most of those interruptions of the course of nature which He gave His servants, the Apostles, power to effect. One miracle of wrath is mentioned as worked in His name by each of the great Apostles, Peter and Paul; and we can see sufficient reasons why liars and hypocrites, like Ananias and Sapphira, and powerful impostors, like Elymas Barjesus, should be publicly punished in the face of the Jewish and Gentile worlds, and made the examples and warnings of every subsequent age of the Church. (f374) A different passage in the life of St. Peter presents a parallel which is closer in some respects with this interview of St. Paul with the sorcerer in Cyprus. As Simon Magus, — who had "long time bewitched the people of Samaria with his sorceries," — was denounced by St. Peter "as still in the gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity," and solemnly told that "his heart was not right in the sight of God;" (Acts 8:21-23.) — so St. Paul, conscious of his apostolic power, and under the impulse of immediate inspiration, rebuked Barjesus, as a child of that Devil who is the father of lies, (John 8:44.) as a worker of deceit and mischief, (f375) and as one who sought to pervert and distort that which God saw and approved as right. (With Acts 13:10 compare Acts 8:21.) He proceeded to denounce an instantaneous judgment; and, according to his prophetic word, the "hand of the Lord" struck the sorcerer, as it had once struck the Apostle himself on the way to Damascus; — the sight of Elymas began to waver, (f376) and presently a darkness settled on it so thick, that he ceased to behold the sun’s light. This blinding of the false prophet opened the eyes of Sergius Paulus. That which had been intended as an opposition to the Gospel, proved the means of its extension. We are ignorant of the degree of this extension in the island of Cyprus. But we cannot doubt that when the Proconsul was converted, his influence would make Christianity reputable; and that from this moment the Gentiles of the island, as well as the Jews, had the news of salvation brought home to them.
And now, from this point of the Apostolical history, PAUL appears as the great figure in every picture. Barnabas, henceforward, is always in the background. The great Apostle now enters on his work as the preacher to the Gentiles; and simultaneously with his active occupation of the field in which he was called to labor, his name is suddenly changed. As "Abram" was changed into "Abraham," when God promised that he should be the "father of many nations;" — as "Simon" was changed into "Peter," when it was said, "On this rock I will build my church;" — so "Saul" is changed into "Paul," at the moment of his first great victory among the Heathen. What "the plains of Mamre by Hebron" were to the patriarch, — what "Caesarea Philippi," (f377) by the fountains of the Jordan, was to the fisherman of Galilee, — that was the city of "Paphos," on the coast of Cyprus, to the tent-maker of Tarsus. Are we to suppose that the name was now really given him for the first time, — that he adopted it himself as significant of his own feelings, — or that Sergius Paulus conferred it on him in grateful commemoration of the benefits he had received, — or that "Paul," having been a Gentile form of the Apostle’s name in early life conjointly with the Hebrew "Saul," was now used to the exclusion of the other, to indicate that he had receded from his position as a Jewish Christian, to become the friend and teacher of the Gentiles? All these opinions have found their supporters both in ancient and modern times. The question has been alluded to before in this work (p. 43). It will be well to devote some further space to it now, once for all.
It cannot be denied that the words in Acts 13:9 — "Saul who is also Paul" — are the line of separation between two very distinct portions of St. Luke’s biography of the Apostle, in the former of which he is uniformly called "Saul," while in the latter he receives, with equal consistency, the name of "Paul." It must also be observed that the Apostle always speaks of himself under the latter designation in every one of his Epistles, without any exception; and not only so, but the Apostle St. Peter, in the only passage where he has occasion to allude to him, (2Peter 3:15.) speaks of him as "our beloved brother Paul." We are, however, inclined to adopt the opinion that the Cilician Apostle had this Roman name, as well as his other Hebrew name, in his earlier days, and even before he was a Christian. This adoption of a Gentile name is so far from being alien to the spirit of a Jewish family, that a similar practice may be traced through all the periods of Hebrew History. Beginning with the Persian epoch (B.C. 550-350) we find such names as "Nehemiah," "Schammai," "Belteshazzar," which betray an Oriental origin, and show that Jewish appellatives followed the growth of the living language. In the Greek period we encounter the names of "Philip," (f378) and his son "Alexander," (f379) and of Alexander’s successors, "Antiochus," "Lysimachus," "Ptolemy," "Antipater;" (f380) the names of Greek philosophers, such as "Zeno," and "Epicurus;" (f381) even Greek mythological names, as "Jason" and "Menelaus." (f382) Some of these words will have been recognized as occurring in the New Testament itself. When we mention Roman names adopted by the Jews, the coincidence is still more striking. "Crispus," (Acts 18:8.) "Justus," (Acts 1:23.) "Niger," ( Acts 13:1.) are found in Josephus (f383) as well as in the Acts. "Drusilla" and "Priscilla" might have been Roman matrons.
The "Aquila" of St. Paul is the counterpart of the "Apella" of Horace. (f384) Nor need we end our survey of Jewish names with the early Roman empire; for, passing by the destruction of Jerusalem, we see Jews, in the earlier part of the Middle Ages, calling themselves, "Basil," "Leo," "Theodosius," "Sophia;" and, in the latter part, "Albert," "Benedict," "Crispin," "Denys." We might pursue our inquiry into the nations of modern Europe; but enough has been said to show, that as the Jews have successively learnt to speak Chaldee, Greek, Latin, or German, so they have adopted into their families the appellations of those Gentile families among whom they have lived. It is indeed remarkable that the Separated Nation should bear, in the very names recorded in its annals, the trace of every nation with whom it has come in contact and never united.
It is important to our present purpose to remark that double names often occur in combination, the one national, the other foreign. The earliest instances are "Belteshazzar-Daniel," and "Esther-Hadasa." (f385) Frequently there was no resemblance or natural connection between the two words, as in "Herod-Agrippa," "Salome-Alexandra," "Juda-Aristobulus," "Simon-Peter." Sometimes the meaning was reproduced, as in "Malich-Kleodemus." At other times an alliterating resemblance of sound seems to have dictated the choice, as in "Jose-Jason," "Hillel-Julus," "Saul-Paulus" — "Saul, who is also Paul."
Thus it seems to us that satisfactory reasons can be adduced for the double name borne by the Apostle, — without having recourse (f386) to the hypothesis of Jerome, who suggests that, as Scipio was called Africanus from the conquest of Africa, and Metellus called Creticus from the conquest of Crete, so Saul carried away his new name as a trophy of his victory over the Heathenism of the Proconsul Paulus — or to that notion, which Augustine applies with much rhetorical effect in various parts of his writings, where he alludes to the literal meaning of the word "Paulus," and contrasts Saul, the unbridled king, the proud self-confident persecutor of David, with Paul, the lowly, the penitent, — who deliberately wished to indicate by his very name, that he was "the least of the Apostles," (1Corinthians 15:9.) and " less than the least of all Saints." (Ephesians 3:8.) Yet we must not neglect the coincident occurrence of these two names in this narrative of the events which happened in Cyprus. We need not hesitate to dwell on the associations which are connected with the name of "Paulus," — or on the thoughts which are naturally called up, when we notice the critical passage in the sacred history, where it is first given to Saul of Tarsus. It is surely not unworthy of notice that, as Peter’s first Gentile convert was a member of the Cornelian House (p. 108), so the surname of the noblest family of the AEmilian House (f387) was the link between the Apostle of the Gentiles and his convert at Paphos. Nor can we find a nobler Christian version of any line of a Heathen poet, than by comparing what Horace says of him who fell at Cannae, — "animoe magnoe prodigum Paulum" — with the words of him who said at Miletus, "I count not my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus." (f388)
And though we imagine, as we have said above, that Saul had the name of Paul at an earlier period of his life, — and should be inclined to conjecture that the appellation came from some connection of his ancestors (perhaps as manumitted slaves) with some member of the Roman family of the AEmilian Pauli; (f389) — yet we cannot believe it accidental that the words, (Acts 13:9.) which have led to this discussion, occur at this particular point of the inspired narrative. The Heathen name rises to the surface at the moment when St. Paul visibly enters on his office as the Apostle of the Heathen. The Roman name is stereotyped at the moment when he converts the Roman governor. And the place where this occurs is Paphos, the favorite sanctuary of a shameful idolatry. At the very spot which was notorious throughout the world for that which the Gospel forbids and destroys, — there, before he sailed for Perga, having achieved his victory, the Apostle erected his trophy, (f390) — as Moses, when Amalek was discomfited, "built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-Nissi, — the Lord my Banner." (Exodus 17:15.)