on Acts 14 :15
We also are men of like passions with you - This saying of the apostles has been most strangely perverted. A pious commentator, taking the word passion in its vulgar and most improper sense, (a bad temper, an evil propensity), and supposing that these holy men wished to confess that they also had many sinful infirmities, and wrong tempers, endeavors to illustrate this sense of the word, by appealing to the contention of Paul and Barnabas, etc., etc. But the expression means no more than, "we are truly human beings, with the same powers and appetites as your own; need food and raiment as you do; and are all mortal like yourselves."
That ye should turn from these vanities - That is, from these idols and false gods. How often false gods and idolatry are termed vanity in the Scriptures, no careful reader of the Bible needs to be told. What a bold saying was this in the presence of a heathen mob, intent on performing an act of their superstitious worship, in which they no doubt thought the safety of the state was concerned. The ancient fable related by Ovid, Metam. lib. i. ver. 211-239, to which reference has already been made, will cast some light on the conduct of the Lystrians in this case. The following is its substance: - "Jupiter, having been informed of the great degeneracy of mankind, was determined himself to survey the earth. Coming to this province, (Lycaonia), disguised in human shape, he took up his residence at the palace of Lycaon, then king of that country: giving a sign of his godhead, the people worship him: Lycaon sneers, doubts his divinity, and is determined to put it to the trial. Some ambassadors from the Molossian state having just arrived, he slew one of them, boiled part of his flesh, and roasted the rest, and set it before Jupiter: the god, indignant at the insult, burnt the palace, and turned the impious king into a wolf." From this time, or, rather, from this fable, the whole province was called Lycaonia. The simple people now seeing such proofs of supernatural power, in the miracles wrought by Barnabas and Paul, thought that Jupiter had again visited them; and fearing lest they should meet with his indignation, should they neglect duly to honor him, they brought oxen and garlands, and would have offered them sacrifice, had they not been prevented by the apostles themselves. This circumstance will account for their whole conduct; and shows the reason why Jupiter was the tutelar god of the place. As, therefore, the people took them for gods, it was necessary for the apostles to show that they were but men; and this is the whole that is meant by the ὁμοιοπαθεις ανθρωποι, men of like passions, fellow mortals, in the text, which has been so pitifully mistaken by some, and abused by others.
The living God - Widely different from those stocks and stones, which were objects of their worship.
Which made heaven and earth - And as all things were made by his power, so all subsist by his providence; and to him alone, all worship, honor, and glory are due.
on Acts 14 :15
And saying, Sirs - Greek: Men.
Why do ye these things? - This is an expression of solemn remonstrance at the folly of their conduct in worshipping those who were human. The abhorrence which they evinced at this may throw strong light on the rank and character of the Lord Jesus Christ. When an offer was made to worship Paul and Barnabas, they shrank from it with strong expressions of aversion and indignation. Yet when similar worship was offered to the Lord Jesus; when he was addressed by Thomas in the language of worship, "My Lord and my God" John 20:28, he uttered not the slightest reproof. Nay, he approved it, and expressed his approbation of others who should also do it, John 20:29. Compare John 5:23. How can this difference be accounted for except on the supposition that the Lord Jesus was divine? Would he, if a mere man, receive homage as God, when his disciples rejected it with horror?
Of like passions with you - We are human beings like yourselves. We have no claim, no pretensions to anything more. The word "passions" here means simply that they had the common feelings and propensities of people - the nature of people; the affections of people. It does not mean that they were subject to any improper passions, to ill temper, etc., as some have supposed; but that they did not pretend to be gods. "We need food and drink; we are exposed to pain, and sickness, and death." The Latin Vulgate renders it, "We are mortal like yourselves." The expression stands opposed to the proper conception of God, who is not subject to these affections, who is most blessed and immortal. Such a Being only is to be worshipped; and the apostles remonstrated strongly with them on the folly of paying religious homage to beings like themselves. Compare James 5:17, "Elias (Elijah) was a man subject to like passions as we are, etc."
That ye should turn from these vanities - That you should cease to worship idols. Idols are often called vanities, or vain things, Deuteronomy 32:21; 2 Kings 17:15; 1 Kings 16:13, 1 Kings 16:26; Jeremiah 2:5; Jeremiah 8:19; Jeremiah 10:8; Jonah 2:8. They are called vanities, a lie, or lying vanities, as opposed to the living and true God, because they are unreal; because they have no power to help: because confidence in them is vain.
Unto the living God - 1 Thessalonians 1:9. He is called the living God to distinguish him from idols. See the notes on Matthew 16:16.
Which made heaven ... - Who thus showed that he was the only proper object of worship. This doctrine, that there is one God who has made all things, was new to them. They worshipped multitudes of divinities; and though they regarded Jupiter as the father of gods and human beings, yet they had no conception that all things had been created by the will of one Infinite Being.
on Acts 14 :15
14:15 To turn from these vanities - From worshipping any but the true God. He does not deign to call them gods; unto the living God - Not like these dead idols; who made the heaven and the earth, the sea - Each of which they supposed to have its own gods.