on Acts 2 :11
Cretes - Natives of Crete, a large and noted island in the Levant, or eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea, now called Candia.
Arabians - Natives of Arabia, a well known country of Asia, having the Red Sea on the west; the Persian Gulf on the east; Judea on the north; and the Indian Ocean on the south.
The wonderful works of God - Such as the incarnation of Christ; his various miracles, preaching, death, resurrection, and ascension; and the design of God to save the world through him. From this one circumstance we may learn that all the people enumerated above were either Jews or proselytes; and that there was probably none that could be, strictly speaking, called heathens among them. It may at first appear strange that there could be found Jews in so many different countries, some of which were very remote from the others; but there is a passage in Philo's Embassy to Caius which throws considerable light on the subject. In a letter sent to Caius by King Agrippa, he speaks of to the holy city of Jerusalem, not merely as the metropolis of Judea, but of many other regions, because of the colonies at different times led out of Judea, not only into neighboring countries, such as Egypt, Phoenicia, Syria, and Coelosyria, but also into those that are remote, such as Pamphylia, Cilicia, and the chief parts of Asia as far as Bithynia, and the innermost parts of Pontus; also in the regions of Europe, Thessaly, Boeotia, Macedonia, Aetolia, Attica, Argos, Corinth, and the principal parts of Peloponnesus. Not only the continents and provinces (says he) are full of Jewish colonies, but the most celebrated isles also, Euboea, Cyprus, and Crete, not to mention the countries beyond the Euphrates. All these (a small part of Babylon and some other praefectures excepted, which possess fertile territories) are inhabited by Jews. Not only my native city entreats thy clemency, but other cities also, situated in different parts of the world, Asia, Europe, Africa; both islands, sea coasts, and inland countries." Philonis Opera, edit. Mangey, vol. ii. p. 587.
It is worthy of remark that almost all the places and provinces mentioned by St. Luke are mentioned also in this letter of King Agrippa. These, being all Jews or proselytes, could understand in some measure the wonderful works of God, of which mere heathens could have formed no conception. It was wisely ordered that the miraculous descent of the Holy Ghost should take place at this time, when so many from various nations were present to bear witness to what was done, and to be themselves subjects of his mighty working. These, on their return to their respective countries, would naturally proclaim what things they saw and heard; and by this the way of the apostles was made plain; and thus Christianity made a rapid progress over all those parts in a very short time after the resurrection of our Lord.
on Acts 2 :11
Cretes - Crete, now called Candia, is an island in the Mediterranean, about 200 miles in length and 50 in breadth, about 500 miles southwest of Constantinople, and about the same distance west of Syria or Palestine. The climate is mild and delightful, the sky unclouded and serene. By some this island is supposed to be the Caphtor of the Hebrews, Genesis 10:14. It is mentioned in the Acts as the place touched at by Paul, Acts 27:7-8, Acts 27:13. This was the residence of Titus, who was left there by Paul" to set in order the things that were missing," etc., Titus 1:5. The Cretans among the Greeks were famous for deceit and falsehood. See the notes on Titus 1:12-13. The language spoken there was probably the Greek.
Arabians - Arabia is the great peninsula which is bounded north by part of Syria, east by the Euphrates and the Persian Gulf, south by the Indian Ocean, and west by the Red Sea. It is often mentioned in the Scriptures; and there were doubtless there many Jews. The language spoken there was the Arabic.
In our tongues - The languages spoken by the apostles could not have been less than seven or eight, besides different dialects of the same languages. It is not certain that the Jews present from foreign nations spoke those languages perfectly, but they had doubtless so used them as to make them the common tongue in which they conversed. No miracle could be more decided than this. There was no way in which the apostles could impose on them, and make them suppose they spoke foreign languages, if they really did not; for these foreigners were abundantly able to determine that. It may be remarked that this miracle had most important effects besides that witnessed on the day of Pentecost. The gospel would be carried by those who were converted to all these places, and the way would be prepared for the labors of the apostles there. Accordingly, most of these places became afterward celebrated by the establishment of Christian churches and the conversion of great multitudes to the Christian faith.
The wonderful works of God - τὰ μεγαλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ ta megaleia tou Theou. The great things of God; that is, the great things that God had done in the gift of his Son; in raising him from the dead; in his miracles, ascension, etc. Compare Luke 1:49; Psalm 71:19; Psalm 26:7; Psalm 66:3; Psalm 92:5; Psalm 104:24; etc.
on Acts 2 :11
2:11 Cretans - One island seems to be mentioned for all. The wonderful works of God - Probably those which related to the miracles, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, together with the effusion of his Spirit, as a fulfilment of his promises, and the glorious dispensations of Gospel grace.