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Acts 28:3-6

Context
28:3 When Paul had gathered a bundle of brushwood 1  and was putting it on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand. 28:4 When the local people 2  saw the creature hanging from Paul’s 3  hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer! Although he has escaped from the sea, Justice herself 4  has not allowed him to live!” 5  28:5 However, 6  Paul 7  shook 8  the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm. 28:6 But they were expecting that he was going to swell up 9  or suddenly drop dead. So after they had waited 10  a long time and had seen 11  nothing unusual happen 12  to him, they changed their minds 13  and said he was a god. 14 

1 tn Or “sticks.”

2 tn Although this is literally βάρβαροι (barbaroi; “foreigners, barbarians”) used for non-Greek or non-Romans, as BDAG 166 s.v. βάρβαρος 2.b notes, “Of the inhabitants of Malta, who apparently spoke in their native language Ac 28:2, 4 (here β. certainly without derogatory tone…).”

3 tn Grk “his”; the referent (Paul) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

4 tn That is, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live. BDAG 250 s.v. δίκη 2 states, “Justice personified as a deity Ac 28:4”; L&N 12.27, “a goddess who personifies justice in seeking out and punishing the guilty – ‘the goddess Justice.’ ἡ δίκη ζῆν οὐκ εἴασεν ‘the goddess Justice would not let him live’ Ac 28:4.” Although a number of modern English translations have rendered δίκη (dikh) “justice,” preferring to use an abstraction, in the original setting it is almost certainly a reference to a pagan deity. In the translation, the noun “justice” was capitalized and the reflexive pronoun “herself” was supplied to make the personification clear. This was considered preferable to supplying a word like ‘goddess’ in connection with δίκη.

5 sn The entire scene is played out initially as a kind of oracle from the gods resulting in the judgment of a guilty person (Justice herself has not allowed him to live). Paul’s survival of this incident without ill effects thus spoke volumes about his innocence.

6 tn BDAG 737 s.v. οὖν 4 indicates the particle has an adversative sense here: “but, however.”

7 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Paul) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

8 tn Grk “shaking the creature off…he suffered no harm.” The participle ἀποτινάξας (apotinaxa") has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

9 tn Or “going to burn with fever.” According to BDAG 814 s.v. πίμπρημι, either meaning (“swell up” or “burn with fever”) is possible for Acts 28:6.

10 tn The participle προσδοκώντων (prosdokwntwn) has been taken temporally.

11 tn The participle θεωρούντων (qewrountwn) has been taken temporally.

12 tn Grk “happening.” The participle γινόμενον (ginomenon) has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

13 tn Grk “changing their minds.” The participle μεταβαλόμενοι (metabalomenoi) has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

14 sn And said he was a god. The reaction is like Acts 14:11-19 where the crowd wanted to make Paul and Barnabas into gods. The providence of God had protected Paul again.



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