And after they had argued back and forth among themselves, they left with this final word from Paul: “The Holy Spirit was right when he said to your ancestors through Isaiah the prophet, ‘Go and say to this people: When you hear what I say, you will not understand. When you see what I do, you will not comprehend. For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes—so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.’ So I want you to know that this salvation from God has also been offered to the Gentiles, and they will accept it.”Acts 28:25-28
Before I get on the last questions I want to focus on Luke’s use of them leaving with the last (final) word from Paul. I suspect that Luke has used Paul’s last or final word as a literary tool. I don’t think it happened quite as it seems to read in the NLT. The above translation makes it seems that Paul spoke “this final word” as a parting shot.
Here’s how the translations handle the timing:
Paul’s words were a parting shot
- (CEV) Since they could not agree among themselves, they started leaving. But Paul said, “The Holy Spirit said the right thing when he sent Isaiah the prophet
- (ERV) They had an argument among themselves and were ready to leave. But Paul said one more thing to them: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet. He said,
- (ISV) They disagreed with one another as they were leaving, so Paul added this statement: “The Holy Spirit was so right when he spoke to your ancestors through the prophet Isaiah!
- (LITV) And disagreeing with one another, they were let go, Paul saying one word: Well did the Holy Spirit speak through the prophet Isaiah to our fathers,
- (MKJV) And disagreeing with one another, they were let go, Paul saying one word: Well did the Holy Spirit speak through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers,
- (MSG) When the unbelievers got cantankerous and started bickering with each other, Paul interrupted: “I have just one more thing to say to you. The Holy Spirit sure knew what he was talking about when he addressed our ancestors through Isaiah the prophet:
- (Murdock) And they went out from him, disagreeing among themselves. And Paul addressed to them this speech: Well did the Holy Spirit, by the mouth of Isaiah the prophet, speak concerning your fathers,
- (NLT) And after they had argued back and forth among themselves, they left with this final word from Paul: “The Holy Spirit was right when he said to your ancestors through Isaiah the prophet,
They left after the final word
(ASV) And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed after that Paul had spoken one word, “Well spake the Holy Spirit through Isaiah the prophet unto your fathers,
(BBE) And they went away, for there was a division among them after Paul had said this one thing: Well did the Holy Spirit say by the prophet Isaiah to your fathers,
(CJB) while others refused to believe. So they left, disagreeing among themselves, after Sha’ul had made one final statement: “The Ruach HaKodesh spoke well in saying to your fathers through Yesha`yahu the prophet,
(ESV) And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:
(GNB) So they left, disagreeing among themselves, after Paul had said this one thing: “How well the Holy Spirit spoke through the prophet Isaiah to your ancestors!
(GW) The Jews, unable to agree among themselves, left after Paul had quoted this particular passage to them: “How well the Holy Spirit spoke to your ancestors through the prophet Isaiah!
(JUB) And when they did not agree among themselves, they departed, after Paul had spoken this word, Well spoke the Holy Spirit by Isaiah the prophet unto our fathers,
(KJV) And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers,
(RV) And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Isaiah the prophet unto your fathers,
(TLV) So when they disagreed among themselves, they began leaving after Paul had said one last statement: “The Ruach ha-Kodesh rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers,
(TS2009) And disagreeing with one another, they began to leave, after Sha’ul had spoken one word, “The Set-apart Spirit rightly spoke through Yeshayahu the prophet to our fathers,
It just seems unnatural for Paul to have called them back, interrupted or to have been speaking that final word as they were heading out the door disputing among themselves. There were a lot of words in Paul’s final word. They would have had to have stopped and sat down again or gathered around to have heard Paul as there were a large number of them (verse 23). For them to have all heard as they were going out the door they would have had to have come back.
I like Kenneth Taylor’s translation in the Living Bible which reads: But after they had argued back and forth among themselves, they left with this final word from Paul ringing in their ears: “The Holy Spirit was right when he said through Isaiah the prophet, (TLB)
This action is expressed as a participle and could be interpreted either way.
Note the other contrast between translations where Paul either says, “your fathers” or “our fathers”. It is very similar to Stephen’s speech where he switches between “our fathers” and “your fathers”. I will quote what I said in Gem 1477.
I want to address the way in which Stephen addresses his accusers. Notice he first calls them “fathers”. This gives us an indication that they were all his elders. But then he follows it up with the use of “our father Abraham”. Then he uses the term “our fathers” when talking about the Jewish Patriarchs until 7:51, when his comments become inflammatory in the extreme and he uses “your fathers”.
But he has been building toward this as he has gathered his evidence and presented it to them. He has been working systematically through Jewish history. And what must have incensed them from the beginning, Stephen was aligned himself as one of the Jews. But he is a Hellenist. In other words, he is a Gentile talking with Jews from the synagogue in this way. The mere fact that he is doing this is likely to incense them. I am sure there were some of them who must have been annoyed with the fact that this non-Jew was identifying himself as one of them. By his use of “our fathers” he was daring to suggest he was “Jewish”. But not only that, Stephen was re-interpreting Jewish history for them. Pay careful attention to what he was doing in the context of their accusations. His defence was masterful, but more than masterful, it was bold and brazen and likely to get him in trouble. But notice in the end it was not the Freemen of the five synagogues who attacked him and killed him. IT WAS THE JEWISH LEADERS, most likely including those of the Sanhedrin. That is shocking! What had Stephen said that was so inflammatory to them that they would turn on this man for recounting their history for them? Ah, therein lies the secret.
My goodness, Gems 1477 was written on the 8th October 2015. I have been gemming Acts for a long time. It is time to stop these “whole book series” in the Gems.
Is Paul disassociating himself with these Jewish leaders by saying “your fathers”. Because it reality Paul’s switch to “your fathers” would indicate he no longer thought of the Jewish ancestors as his “(fore)fathers”. They are telling words.
Some manuscripts add a verse at 28:29
“And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves.” which of course clarifies the order of when Paul spoke his final words and at what point the Jewish leaders left. It is the most natural way of reading the ending rather than interpreting the final words as a parting shot or suggesting Paul called the leaders back as they were leaving to give them one final shot.
But I will leave you to draw your own conclusion as to the order or sequence of events.
Have you noticed in life that there are some people who just have to have the last word? Are you one of them?Ian Vail
Resist the need to be right all the time or to always have the last word.Joyce Meyer
Have the maturity to know that sometimes silence is more powerful than having the last word.Ian Vail
An apology is a good way of having the last word.Ian Vail
Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough.Karl Marx
Give fools the first and women the last word.George Lorimer