2 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them.
For a few years, they preached the gospel to none but Jews; so that for that space, the ecclesia in that city was composed solely of the circumcised. It is not surprising, therefore, that the pagans should make no distinction between the Ecclesia and the Synagogue.
They regarded them all as Jews; so that, when Claudius commanded all Jews to depart from Rome [Acts 18:2], Aquila and Priscilla, though Christians, had to leave. But, before the publication of this edict, Peter had opened the door of faith to Gentiles, as recorded in Acts 10 and 11.
The of this soon reached Rome, and the Mouth of Deity was opened there to the same effect. Pagans were invited to "the obedience of faith for His name," that they might become "the tabernacle of the Deity, and dwellers in the heaven," together with the saints already separated from the Synagogue.
But for this extension of the Ecclesia, the edict of Claudius would have left none of the saints in Rome. It expelled all natural Jews, without regard to their belief; so that, in this crisis, the Ecclesia there would become in appearance entirely Gentile. But, when the edict became obsolete, the Jewish members would many of them return; nevertheless, the Jewish influence in the Ecclesia would predominate no more.
3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.
They were a company of Christadelphians, Christou adelphoi, or Brethren of Christ, who believed into him through the word of Peter and the Eleven (John 17:20). This was the day of small things, which they did not despise. They had no temple, cathedral, or synagogue in which they could meet on their return, A.D. 33. Even seventeen years after they met in the house of Priscilla and Aquila, two Jews, who made tents for a living, Acts 18:2; Rom. 16:5.
In this place, Paul mentions twenty-six by name, and alludes to others connected with them. Some of them, doubtless, were the original "strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes"; but there is nothing extant to distinguish them from the rest. When Paul wrote to the ecciesia in Rome, he speaks of Tryphena and Tryphosa "who labour in the Lord."
These may have been two of them, but there is no certainty. Whatever their names may have been, matters not now; they are no doubt on record in the heavens. They were apostolically "in the Lord," and were prepared to state "the truth as it is in Jesus," and to illustrate it, and to prove it, infallibly, or without making mistakes.
4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.
Power being in the hands of their enemies the Christians of the Hebrew nation still continued to observe the seventh day according to the custom. Hence we find the apostles frequenting the synagogues on the sabbath days and reasoning with the people out of the Scriptures (Acts 27:2, 17; 18:4; 19:8).
To have done otherwise would have been to create an unnecessary prejudice, and to let slip one of the best opportunities of introducing the gospel to the attention of the Jewish public. They did not forsake the synagogues until they were expelled. While they frequented these, however, on the seventh day, they assembled themselves together with the disciples whose assemblies constituted the ecclesias of the saints and of God.
... On what day, then, did the ecclesias of the saints meet to exhort one another so as to provoke to love and to good works? Certainly, not on the seventh day, for then the apostles were in the synagogues. What day then more appropriate than the Lord's day, or first day of the week?
Now it cannot be affirmed that the saints were commanded to meet on this day, because there is no testimony to that effect in the New Testament. But, it is beyond dispute, that they did assemble themselves together on the first day of the week, and the most reasonable inference is that they did so in obedience to the instruction of the apostles from whose teaching they derived all their faith and practice, which constituted them the disciples of Jesus.
Elpis Israel 1.2.
8 And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.
According to the constitution of the human intellect, the knowledge of truth must precede the belief of it...
...Now, to these baptized believers he writes, and tells them that
"God made Jesus, who knew not sin, to be sin (that is, sinful flesh) for them, that they might be constituted God's righteousness in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21)
; so that, being introduced into Him (for an individual cannot be in a federal person unless introduced into Him) the crucified and resurrected Jesus became
"the Lord their righteousness" (Jer. 23:6);
as it is written,
"of Him, Corinthians, are ye IN Christ Jesus, who of God is constituted for us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption" (1 Cor. 1:30).
So that, whosoever is in Him, is said to be "complete in Him;" in whom he is circumcised "in putting off THE BODY OF THE SINS of the flesh;" that is, all past sins; being buried with Christ in the baptism, in which also he rises with Him through the belief of the power of God evinced in raising Him from the dead (Col. 2:10-12).
Now, because the unconstituted, or unrighteous, cannot inherit the kingdom of God, the law is revealed which says, "ye must be born again;" for, says the King,
"except a man be born again he cannot behold the kingdom of God."
This saying is unintelligible to men whose thinking is guided by the flesh. They cannot comprehend "how these things can be:" and, though they profess to be "teachers of Israel," "Masters of Art," and "Bachelors," and "Doctors of Divinity," and of "Canon and Civil Law," they are as mystified upon the subject of "the new birth," as Nicodemus himself.
But to those who understand "the word of the kingdom" these "heavenly things" are distinguished by the obviousness and simplicity of truth. To be born again, as the Lord Jesus expounds it, is to be "born of water and the spirit:" as it is written,
"except a man be born out of water and of spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:3-10)
This is surely very explicit, and very intelligible; who can misunderstand it, unless it be against his will to receive it?
Elpis Israel 1.4.
21 But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus.
...the clear and healthy and saving example of Paul.
His recognition of God even in common things, is constant and natural. He is, in fact, a good example of what James means when he refers deprecatingly to those who say,
"Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain."
Says James (4:14),
"Ye know not what shall be on the morrow . . . Ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this or that."