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Acts 16:21

    Acts 16:21 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    and set forth customs which it is not lawful for us to receive, or to observe, being Romans.

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    Teaching rules of living which it is not right for us to have or to keep, being Romans.

    Webster's Revision

    and set forth customs which it is not lawful for us to receive, or to observe, being Romans.

    World English Bible

    and set forth customs which it is not lawful for us to accept or to observe, being Romans."

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    and set forth customs which it is not lawful for us to receive, or to observe, being Romans.

    Clarke's Commentary on Acts 16:21

    And teach customs - Εθη, Religious opinions, and religious rites.

    Which are not lawful for us to receive - The Romans were very jealous of their national worship. Servius, on the following lines of Virgil, has given us correct information on this point; and has confirmed what several other writers have advanced: -

    Rex Evandrus ait: Non haec solemnia nobis

    Vana superstitio, veterumque ignara deorum, Imposuit.

    Aen. viii. v. 185, etc.

    King Evander said: - It is not vain superstition, ignorant of the ancient worship of the gods, which has imposed these rites on us.

    Duo dicit, says Servius: non ideo Herculem colimus; aut quia omnem religionem veram putamus; aut quia deos ignoramus antiquos. Cautum enim fuerat, et apud Athenienses, et apud Romanos; ne quis Novas introduceret Religiones: unde et Socrates damnatus est: et Chaldaei et Judaei unt urbe depulsi.

    "He says two things: we do not worship Hercules because we believe every religion to be true; nor are we ignorant of the ancient gods. Great care was taken, both among the Athenians and Romans, that no one should introduce any new religion. It was on this account that Socrates was condemned, and on this account the Chaldeans and the Jews were banished from Rome."

    Cicero, De Legibus, lib. ii. c. 8, says: Separatim nemo habessit deos; neve Novos; sed nec Advenas, nisi publice Adscitos, Privatim colunto. "No person shall have any separate gods, nor new ones; nor shall he privately worship any strange gods, unless they be publicly allowed." The whole chapter is curious. It was on such laws as these that the people of Philippi pleaded against the apostles. These men bring new gods, new worship, new rites; we are Romans, and the laws forbid us to worship any new or strange god, unless publicly allowed.

    Barnes' Notes on Acts 16:21

    And teach customs - The word "customs" here ἔθη ethē refers to "religious rites or forms of worship." See the notes on Acts 6:14. They meant to charge the apostles with introducing a new religion which was unauthorized by the Roman laws. This was a cunning and artful accusation. It is perfectly evident that they cared nothing either for the religion of the Romans or of the Jews. Nor were they really concerned about any change of religion. Paul had destroyed their hopes of gain; and as they Could not prevent that except by securing his punishment or expulsion, and as they had no way of revenge except by endeavoring to excite indignation against him and Silas for violating the laws, they endeavored to convict thorn of such violation. This is one among many instances, Where wicked and unprincipled people will endeavor to make religion the means of promoting their own interest. If they can make money by it, they will become its professed friends or if they can annoy Christians, they will at once have remarkable zeal for the laws and for the purity of religion. Many a man opposes revivals of religion, and the real progress of evangelical piety from professed zeal for truth and order.

    Which are not lawful for us to receive - There were laws of the Roman empire under which they might shield themselves in this charge, though it is evident that their zeal was; not because they loved the laws more, but because they loved Christianity less. Thus, Servius on Virgil, Aeneid, viii. 187, says, "care was taken among the Athenians and the Romans that no one should introduce new religions. It was on this account that Socrates was condemned, and the Chaldeans or Jews were banished from the city." Cicero ("DeLegibus," ii. 8) says, "No person shall have any separate gods, or new ones; nor shall he privately worship any strange gods, unless they be publicly allowed." Wetstein (in loco) says, "The Romans would indeed allow foreigners to worship their own god, but not unless it were done secretly, so that the Worship of foreign gods would not interfere with the allowed worship of the Romans, and so that occasion for dissension and controversy might be avoided. Neither was it lawful among the Romans to recommend a new religion to the citizens, contrary to what was confirmed and established by the public authority, and to call off the people from that. It was on this account that there was such a hatred of the Romans against the Jews" (Kuinoel). Tertullian says that "there was a decree that no god should be consecrated unless approved by the senate" (Grotius). See many other authorities quoted in Dr. Watson's "Apology (Defense) for Christianity."

    To observe - To do.

    Being Romans - Having the privileges of Roman citizens. See the notes on Acts 16:12.

    Wesley's Notes on Acts 16:21

    16:21 And teach customs which it is not lawful for us to receive - The world has received all the rules and doctrines of all the philosophers that ever were. But this is a property of Gospel truth: it has something in it peculiarly intolerable to the world.