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Acts 21:20

    Acts 21:20 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said to him, You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    And they, when they heard it, glorified God; and they said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of them that have believed; and they are all zealous for the law:

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    And hearing it, they gave praise to God; and they said to him, You see, brother, what thousands there are among the Jews, who have the faith; and they all have a great respect for the law:

    Webster's Revision

    And they, when they heard it, glorified God; and they said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of them that have believed; and they are all zealous for the law:

    World English Bible

    They, when they heard it, glorified God. They said to him, "You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law.

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    And they, when they heard it, glorified God; and they said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of them which have believed; and they are all zealous for the law:

    Clarke's Commentary on Acts 21:20

    How many thousands - Ποσαι μυριαδες; How many myriads, how many times 10,000. This intimates that there had been a most extraordinary and rapid work even among the Jews; but what is here spoken is not to be confined to the Jews of Jerusalem, but to all that had come from different parts of the land to be present at this pentecost.

    They are all zealous of the law - The Jewish economy was not yet destroyed; nor had God as yet signified that the whole of its observances were done away. He continued to tolerate that dispensation, which was to be in a certain measure in force till the destruction of Jerusalem; and from that period it was impossible for them to observe their own ritual. Thus God abolished the Mosaic dispensation, by rendering, in the course of his providence, the observance of it impossible.

    Barnes' Notes on Acts 21:20

    They glorified the Lord - They gave praise to the Lord for what he had done. They saw new proofs of his goodness and mercy, and they rendered him thanks for all that had been accomplished. There was no jealousy that it had been done by the instrumentality of Paul. True piety will rejoice in the spread of the gospel, and in the conversion of sinners, by whatever instrumentality it may be effected.

    Thou seest, brother - The language of tenderness in this address, recognizing Paul as a fellow-laborer and fellow-Christian, implies a wish that Paul would do all that could be done to avoid giving offence, and to conciliate the favor of his countrymen.

    How many thousands - The number of converts at this time must have been very great. Twenty-five years before this, 3,000 had been converted at one time Acts 2, and afterward the number had swelled to some more thousands, Acts 4:4. The assertion that there were then "many thousands," implies that the work so signally begun on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem had not ceased, and that many more had been converted to the Christian faith.

    Which believe - Who are Christians. They are spoken of as believers, or as having faith in Christ, in contradistinction from those who rejected him, and whose characteristic trait it was that they were unbelievers.

    And they are all zealous of the law - They still observe the Law of Moses. The reference here is to the law respecting circumcision, sacrifices, distinctions of meats and days, festivals, etc. It may seem remarkable that they should still continue to observe those rites, since it was the manifest design of Christianity to abolish them. But we are to remember:

    (1) That those rites had been appointed by God, and that they were trained to their observance.

    (2) that the apostles conformed to them while they remained at Jerusalem, and did not deem it best to set themselves violently against them, Acts 3:1; Luke 24:53.

    (3) that the question about their observance had never been agitated at Jerusalem. It was only among the Gentile converts that the question had risen, and there it must arise, for if they were to be observed, they must have been imposed upon them by authority.

    (4) the decision of the council Acts 15 related only to the Gentile converts. It did not touch the question whether those rites were to be observed by the Jewish converts.

    (5) it was to be presumed that as the Christian religion became better understood - that as its large, free, and catholic nature became more and more developed, the special institutions of Moses would be laid aside of course, without agitation and without tumult. Had the question been agitated at Jerusalem, it would have excited tenfold opposition to Christianity, and would have rent the Christian church into factions, and greatly retarded the advance of the Christian doctrine. We are to remember also:

    (6) That, in the arrangement of Divine Providence, the time was drawing near which was to destroy the temple, the city, and the nation, which was to put an end to sacrifices, and effectually to close forever the observance of the Mosaic rites. As this destruction was so near, and as it would be so effectual an argument against the observance of the Mosaic rites, the Great Head of the church did not suffer the question of their obligation to be needlessly agitated among the disciples at Jerusalem.

    Wesley's Notes on Acts 21:20

    21:20 They are all zealous for the law - For the whole Mosaic dispensation. How astonishing is this! Did none of the apostles, beside St. Paul, know that this dispensation was now abolished? And if they did both know and testify this, how came their hearers not to believe them?