And certain of the chief of Asia
Or the Asiarchs; these were not princes of Asia, rulers or governors of provinces, or cities, or civil magistrates; but priests who presided over the games and diversions at the theatre, and had the management and command of things there. Such an one was Philip the Asiarch, the church of Smyrna makes mention of in their account of the sufferings and martyrdom of Polycarp F26, whom the people entreated that he would send out the lion to Polycarp; that is, out of the theatre which he had the command of; but he replied he could not do it, because he had finished the theatrical exercises: from whence it appears that he was the governor of the theatre, and had his title of Asiarch from thence, as these men had, wherefore this word should not be rendered, the "princes of Asia", as by the Vulgate Latin; nor the "chief of Asia", as by the Syriac and Arabic versions, and by ours, but rather the "Asian priests". The Ethiopic version not knowing who should be meant by them, only reads, "and some of Asia".
Which were his friends;
they had a good opinion of the apostle, and a good liking of his doctrines, and wished well to his person, and were concerned for his safety; though they might not have been really converted, and truly disciples, as those in the preceding verse; for otherwise one would think they would have relinquished their office and place. These
sent unto him,
messengers or letters,
desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre;
they observed to him the danger he would expose himself to, and entreated he would show a greater regard to his life than to risk it in such a manner, a life might be so useful to many; and though they were the governors at the theatre, yet such was the rage and fury of the mob, that it was not in their power to restrain them from doing mischief, till such time as they were appeased.
F26 Apud Euseb. Eccl, Hist. l. 4. c. 15.