Acts of Apostles 14:1-28
wonders: Or “portents.” In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the Greek word teʹras is consistently used in combination with se·meiʹon (“sign”), both terms being used in the plural form. (Mt 24:24; Joh 4:48; Ac 7:36; 14:3; 15:12; 2Co 12:12) Basically, teʹras refers to anything that causes awe or wonderment. When the term clearly refers to something portending what will happen in the future, the alternate rendering “portent” is used in a study note.
by the authority of Jehovah: Lit., “upon the Lord.” (See App. C.) In the context of Ac 14:3, the preposition e·piʹ (“upon”) is understood to indicate the grounds, or basis, on which the disciples were speaking boldly. The rest of the verse shows that God was bearing witness, or testifying, that what they preached was really his word and that they had his approval and support in doing so. (Compare Ac 4:29-31.) The Greek expression for “upon the Lord” can also be found in the Septuagint to render phrases where the Tetragrammaton appears in the original Hebrew text. (Ps 31:6 [30:7, LXX]; Jer 17:7) In line with this, some have suggested that the expression also conveys the idea of speaking “in reliance on Jehovah.”—See App. C3 introduction; Ac 14:3.
wonders: Or “portents.”—See study note on Ac 2:19.
interpreted: The Greek word di·er·me·neuʹo can be used in the sense “to translate from one language to another.” (Ac 9:36; 1Co 12:30, ftn.) However, it also signifies “to clarify the meaning; to explain fully.” In this verse, it refers to interpreting the meaning of prophecies.
Zeus: See Glossary.
Hermes: A Greek god, said to be the son of Zeus, Hermes was regarded as the messenger of the gods. He was believed to be the discreet counselor of the mythological heroes and considered to be the god of commerce, skillful speech, gymnastic skill, sleep, and dreams. Because Paul took the lead in speaking, the inhabitants of the Roman city of Lystra identified Paul with the god Hermes. This identification harmonizes with their conception of Hermes as a divine messenger and a god of skillful speech. In fact, various words related to this name are used in the Scriptures referring to translation as well as to interpretation. (Some examples are the Greek verb her·me·neuʹo, rendered “translated” at Joh 1:42 and Heb 7:2, and the noun her·me·niʹa, rendered “interpretation” at 1Co 12:10; 14:26; see also study note on Lu 24:27.) Among the archaeological finds in the vicinity of ancient Lystra are a statue of the god Hermes; an altar dedicated to Zeus and Hermes has also been discovered in that area. The Romans identified Hermes with their god of commerce, Mercury.
garlands: Or “wreaths.” The priest of Zeus may have intended to put these garlands on the heads of Paul and Barnabas, as was sometimes done to idols, or on themselves and the sacrificial animals. Such garlands were generally made of foliage and flowers, though some were made of wool.
they laid their hands on them: In the Hebrew Scriptures, the laying on of hands was done either to a person or to an animal and had a variety of meanings. (Ge 48:14; Le 16:21; 24:14) In connection with humans, it was usually a gesture to indicate that the person was being recognized in a special way or designated for a special purpose. (Nu 8:10) For example, Moses laid his hand on Joshua as a way to acknowledge him as Moses’ successor. As a result, Joshua became “full of the spirit of wisdom” and was able to lead Israel properly. (De 34:9) In the account recorded here at Ac 6:6, the apostles laid their hands on the men whom they appointed to positions of responsibility. The apostles did so only after praying about the matter, showing that they wanted God’s guidance. Later, the members of a body of congregation elders appointed Timothy to a special position of service by laying their hands on him. (1Ti 4:14) Timothy too was authorized to appoint others by laying his hands on them, but only after he had carefully considered their qualifications.—1Ti 5:22.
elders: Lit., “older men.” In the Bible, the Greek term pre·sbyʹte·ros refers primarily to those who hold a position of authority and responsibility in a community or a nation. Although the term sometimes refers to physical age (as at Lu 15:25; Ac 2:17), it is not limited to those who are elderly. Here it refers to the leaders of the Jewish nation who are often mentioned together with chief priests and scribes. The Sanhedrin was made up of men from these three groups.—Mt 21:23; 26:3, 47, 57; 27:1, 41; 28:12; see Glossary, “Elder; Older man.”
appointed: Here the Scriptures show that traveling overseers, Paul and Barnabas, appointed the elders. They did so by offering prayer with fasting, showing that they viewed making these appointments as a weighty matter. Titus and apparently Timothy are also described as taking part in appointing men as “elders” in the congregations. (Tit 1:5; 1Ti 5:22) The Greek word used here for “appointed,” khei·ro·to·neʹo, has the literal meaning “to extend (stretch out; lift up) the hand.” Based on this meaning, some have understood that the elders were elected by the congregation through a show of hands. But this Greek word is also used in a more general sense, without reference to how the appointing was done. First-century Jewish historian Josephus confirms this meaning of the term in his Antiquities of the Jews, Book 6, chaps. 4 and 13 (Loeb 6:54 and 6:312), where he uses the same Greek verb to describe God’s appointment of Saul as king. In that case, a show of hands by the congregation of Israel did not vote King Saul into office. Rather, the Scriptures state that the prophet Samuel poured oil on Saul’s head and said: “Has not Jehovah anointed you as a leader?” This showed that Saul was appointed by Jehovah God. (1Sa 10:1) Also, according to the Greek grammatical structure of Ac 14:23, the apostles Paul and Barnabas, not the assembly or congregation, did the appointing (Lit., “stretching out of the hands”). In other situations, when qualified men were appointed to responsible positions in the first-century congregation, the apostles and other authorized men would literally lay their hands on them, a gesture that symbolized confirmation, approval, or appointment.—Compare study note on Ac 6:6.
elders: Lit., “older men.” In the Bible, the Greek term pre·sbyʹte·ros refers primarily to those who hold a position of authority and responsibility in a community or a nation, although the term sometimes refers to physically older men. (See study note on Mt 16:21.) Just as older, mature men shared the responsibility of leadership and administration in communities of the ancient nation of Israel, so spiritually mature men served in the Christian congregations in the first century C.E. (1Ti 3:1-7; Tit 1:5-9) Although Paul and Barnabas were “sent out by the holy spirit” on this missionary journey, they still prayed and fasted when making appointments. Then they “entrusted [these elders] to Jehovah.” (Ac 13:1-4; 14:23) In addition to Paul and Barnabas, Titus and apparently also Timothy are described as taking part in appointing men as “elders” in the congregations. (Tit 1:5; 1Ti 5:22) There is no record of congregations independently making such appointments. The first-century congregations apparently had a number of elders who served together as a “body of elders.”—1Ti 4:14; Php 1:1.
they entrusted them to Jehovah: The Greek verb rendered “entrusted” is also used at Ac 20:32, where Paul says to the elders from Ephesus: “I entrust you to God,” and at Lu 23:46 to render Jesus’ words: “Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit.” This is a quote from Ps 31:5, where the Septuagint (30:6, LXX) uses the same Greek word for “entrust” and where the divine name appears in the immediate context of the original Hebrew text. The concept of entrusting oneself to Jehovah is expressed several times in the Hebrew Scriptures.—Ps 22:8; 37:5; Pr 16:3; see App. C3 introduction; Ac 14:23.
the word of Jehovah: This expression has its background in the Hebrew Scriptures, where it appears as a combination of a Hebrew term for “word” and the divine name. Together with the expression “Jehovah’s word,” it occurs in some 200 verses. (Some examples are found at 2Sa 12:9; 24:11; 2Ki 7:1; 20:16; 24:2; Isa 1:10; 2:3; 28:14; 38:4; Jer 1:4; 2:4; Eze 1:3; 6:1; Ho 1:1; Mic 1:1; Zec 9:1.) When this expression occurs at Zec 9:1 in an early copy of the Septuagint found at Nahal Hever, Israel, in the Judean Desert near the Dead Sea, the Greek word loʹgos is followed by the divine name written in ancient Hebrew characters (). This parchment scroll is dated between 50 B.C.E. and 50 C.E. The reasons why the New World Translation uses the expression “the word of Jehovah” in the main text, although many Greek manuscripts of Ac 8:25 read “the word of the Lord,” are explained in App. C3 introduction; Ac 8:25.
the word: There is good manuscript support for the reading “the word” (ton loʹgon) here, and most modern translations follow that reading. However, there are other Greek manuscripts that read “the word of the Lord,” (ton loʹgon tou Ky·riʹou; see App. C and study note on Ac 8:25) and a few ancient manuscripts read “the word of God.” Additionally, at least two translations of the Christian Greek Scriptures into Hebrew (referred to as J17, 28 in App. C4) use the divine name here and can be rendered “the word of Jehovah.”
exercising faith in him: Lit., “believing into him.” The Greek verb pi·steuʹo (related to the noun piʹstis, generally rendered “faith”) has the basic meaning “to believe; to have faith,” but it can express different shades of meaning, depending on context and grammatical constructions. The meaning of this term often goes beyond mere belief or recognition that someone exists. (Jas 2:19) It includes the idea of faith and trust that lead to obedient action. At Joh 3:16, the Greek verb pi·steuʹo is used together with the preposition eis, “into.” Regarding this Greek phrase, one scholar noted: “Faith is thought of as an activity, as something men do, i.e. putting faith into someone.” (An Introductory Grammar of New Testament Greek, Paul L. Kaufman, 1982, p. 46) Jesus obviously refers to a life characterized by faith, not just a single act of faith. At Joh 3:36, the similar expression “the one who exercises faith in the Son” is contrasted with “the one who disobeys the Son.” Therefore, in that context, “to exercise faith” includes the idea of demonstrating one’s strong beliefs or faith through obedience.
the door to faith: Or “the door of faith.” Jehovah opened this figurative door by giving people of the nations, or non-Jews, the opportunity to acquire faith. In the Scriptural sense, gaining faith includes the idea of cultivating trust that leads to obedient action. (Jas 2:17; see study note on Joh 3:16.) Paul used the term “door” in a figurative sense three times in his letters.—1Co 16:9; 2Co 2:12; Col 4:3.