13. And when Paul's companions had loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga of Pamphylia; and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.14. Furthermore, when they had passed over the country of Perga, they came to Antioch, a city of Pisidia, and entered into the synagogue upon the day of the Sabbaths, and sat 15. And after the lecture of the law and prophets, the master of the synagogue sent to them, saying, Men and brethren, if there be in you any word of exhortation unto the people, say on.
13. Here is set down another of Paul's stations; for, being departed from Paphos, when he came to Antioch of Pisidia, he made there a worthy sermon, which Luke will recite, together with the success; but before he come to that, he doth by the way speak of the departure of John, because it was afterwards a cause of doleful disagreement. When he saith, Paul's companions loosed from Paphos, he doth, in the first place, mean Paul himself; secondly, the other, one excepted. So that by noting his softness, he praiseth others which followed Paul with great constancy.
14. Entering, upon the day of the Sabbaths. He putteth the plural number instead of the singular, as it falleth out oftentimes in other places of Scripture; for they were wont to assemble themselves together upon the Sabbaths, lest their rest should be unprofitable and sluggish. The institution of the Sabbath had another end also, that it might be a figure of the spiritual rest when as the faithful, being dead to the world and the flesh, abandon their own will, and cease from their works. Because we have the truth hereof in Christ, whilst that being buried together with him we put off the old man; therefore the old figure is past. But God had respect also unto the politic use, that the Jews, being free from all other cares and businesses, might keep their holy assemblies; so that the ceasing off from earthly works did give a place to their heavenly exercises. So, even at this day we must use holy days; for we must therefore omit all other things that we may the more freely serve God.
15. After the lecture [reading] of the law. There is no mention made of prayers, and yet, undoubtedly, they were not omitted or foreslowed, [neglected;] but because Luke did intend to set down the sermon made there by Paul, no marvel if he reckon up those things only which did belong unto the order of teaching. And this is a notable place, out of which we learn after what sort they handled doctrine at that time among the Jews. The law and the prophets had the first place; because there must nothing be set before the Church which was not drawn out of that fountain. Also we gather by this that the Scripture was not suppressed among a few, but that both one and other were admitted to the reading thereof, afterward those who were able, and had the grace to teach and exhort, had the second place, as interpreters of the Scripture which was read. Notwithstanding Luke showeth, last of all, that every one was not suffered to speak, lest confusion should arise by liberty; but the office of exhorting was committed to certain men, whom he calleth rulers of the synagogue, or masters. Therefore Paul and Barnabas begin not forthwith to speak, lest they disturb the accustomed order with too much haste; but they do modestly stay till they have liberty granted them to speak, and that with their leave who had authority by public consent. We know how corrupt the state of that people was then; and Luke will at length declare, in the end of the chapter, that these men of Antioch were too stout and stubborn in receiving the grace of Christ; and yet there remained this goodness among them, that their assemblies were honestly and decently governed; for which cause such evil favored confusion is so much the more shame fill which is seen at this day among those who will be counted Christians. The Papists do indeed sing the Scriptures in their churches with shrill and sounding voice, but in an unknown tongue, so that the people reap no fruit thereby. There is seldom any doctrine used; and it were better for the wicked babblers even then to hold their peace, who thrust in their own unclean inventions instead of the Word of God, and pollute with the stink of their impiety whatsoever is holy.
If there be in you? This speech doth signify that what grace soever is in men to edify the Church, it is, as it were, committed to them; although the word in, according to the Hebrew phrase, may be superfluous. Therefore, I stand not greatly upon that, because the sense may be plain, If you have any exhortation which is apt and profitable for the people. An exhortation doth not exclude doctrine. But it seemeth that this word was commonly used among them; because it is properly the office of the teacher to utter no new thing of his own brain, but to apply the Scripture, wherein is comprehended the whole wisdom of the godly, unto the present use of the people. Thus, they do not only teach, but also apply the doctrine which they have elsewhere, unto the edifying of the Church, which I think is meant by the word exhortation.