RPM, Volume 18, Number 3, January 10 to January 16, 2016

Barnes' New Testament Notes

Notes on the New Testament Explanatory and Practical
Part 37

By Albert Barnes

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 1 - Verse 1


There is no evidence that the title, "The Acts of The Apostles," affixed to this book, was given by Divine authority, or by the writer himself. It is a title, however, which, with a little variation, has been given to it by the Christian church at all times. The term "Acts" is not used, as it is sometimes with us, to denote decrees or laws, but it denotes the doings of the apostles. It is a record of what the apostles did in founding and establishing the Christian church. It is worthy of remark, however, that it contains a record of the doings of Peter and Paul. Peter was commissioned to open the doors of the Christian church to both Jews and Gentiles, See Barnes "Mt 16:18,19" and Paul was chosen to bear the gospel especially to the pagan world. As these two apostles were the most prominent and distinguished in founding and organizing the Christian church, it was deemed proper that a special and permanent record should be made of their labours. At the same time, occasional notices are given of the other apostles; but of their labours elsewhere than in Judea, and of their death, except that of James, Ac 12:2, the sacred writers have given no information.

All antiquity is unanimous in ascribing this book to Luke as its author. It is repeatedly mentioned and quoted by the early Christian writers, and without a dissenting voice is mentioned as the work of Luke. The same thing is clear from the book itself. It professes to have been written by the same person who wrote the Gospel of Luke, Ac 1:1; was addressed to the same person, (comp. Ac 1:1 with Lu 1:3; and bears manifest marks of being from the same pen. It is designed evidently as a continuation of his Gospel, as in this book he has taken up the history at the very time where he left it in the Gospel, Ac 1:1,2.

Where, or at what time, this book was written is not certainly known. As the history, however, is continued to the second year of the residence of Paul at Rome, Ac 28:30, it was evidently written about as late as the year 62; and as it makes not mention of the further dealings with Paul, or of any other event of history, it seems clear that it was not written much after that time. It has been common, therefore, to fix the date of the book at about A. D. 63. it is also probable that it was written at Rome. In Ac 28:16, Luke mentions his arrival at Rome with Paul. As he does not mention his departure from this city, it is to be presumed that it was written there. Some have supposed that it was written at Alexandria in Egypt, but of that there is no sufficient evidence.

The canonical authority of this book rests on the same foundation as that of the Gospel by the same author. Its authenticity has not been called in question at any time in the church.

This book has commonly been regarded as a history of the Christian church, and of course the first ecclesiastical history that was written. But it cannot have been designed as a general history of the church. Many important transactions have been omitted. It gives no account of the church at Jerusalem after the conversion of Paul; it omits his journey into Arabia, Ga 1:17; gives no account of the propagation of the gospel in Egypt, or in Babylon, 1 Pe 5:13; of the foundation of the church at Rome; of many of Paul's voyages and shipwrecks, 2 Co 11:25; and omits to record the labours of most of the apostles, and confines the narrative chiefly to the transactions of Peter and Paul.

The design and importance of this history may be learned from the following particulars:

1. It contains a record of the promised descent and operations of the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus promised that, after he had departed to heaven, he would send the Holy Ghost to carry forward the great work of redemption, Joh 14:16,17; 15:26; 16:7-14.

The apostles were directed to tarry in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high, Lu 24:49. the four Gospels contained a record of the life, instruction, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. But it is clear that he contemplated that the most signal triumphs of the gospel should take place after his ascension to heaven, and under the influence of the Holy Spirit. The descent of the Spirit, and his influence on the souls of men, was a most important part of the work of redemption. Without an authentic, and inspired record of that, the account of the operations of God the Father, Son, and Spirit, in the work of redemption, would not have been complete. The purposes of the Father in regard to that plan were made known clearly in the Old Testament; the record of what the Son did in accomplishing it, was contained in the Gospels; and some book was needful that should contain a record of the doings of the Holy Spirit. As the Gospels, therefore, may be regarded as a record of the work of Christ to save men, so may the Acts of the Apostles be considered the record of the doings of the Holy Spirit in the same great work. Without that, the way in which the Spirit operates to renew and save would have been very imperfectly known.

2. This book is an inspired account of the character of true revivals of religion. It records the first revivals that occurred in the Christian church. The scene on the day of Pentecost was one of the most remarkable displays of Divine power and mercy that the world has ever known. It was the commencement of a series of stupendous movements in the world to recover men. It was the true mode of a revival of religion, and a perpetual demonstration that such scenes as have characterized our own age and nation especially, are strictly in accordance with the Spirit of the New Testament. The entire book of the Acts of the Apostles records the effect of the gospel when it comes fairly in contact with the minds of men. The gospel was addressed to every class. It met the Jew and the Gentile, the bond and the free, the learned and the ignorant, the rich and the poor; and showed its power everywhere in subduing the mind to itself. It was proper that some record should be preserved of the displays of that power; and that record we have in this book. And it was especially proper that there should be given, by an inspired man, an account of the descent of the Holy Spirit, a record of a true revival of religion. It was certain that the gospel would produce excitement. The human mind, as all experience shows, is prone to enthusiasm and fanaticism; and men might be disposed to pervert the gospel to scenes of wildfire, disorder, and tumult. That the gospel would produce excitement, was well known to its Author. It was well, therefore, that there should be some record to which the church might always appeal as an infallible account of the proper effects of the gospel; some inspired standard to which might be brought all excitements on the subject of religion. If they are in accordance with the first triumphs of the gospel, they are genuine; if not, they are false.

3. It may be further remarked, that this book shows that revivals religion are to be expected in the church. If they existed in the best and purest days of Christianity, they are to be expected now. If by means of revivals the Holy Spirit chose at first to bless the preaching of the truth, the same thing is to be expected still. If in this way the gospel was at first spread among the nations, then we are to infer that this will be the mode in which it will finally spread and triumph in the world.

4. The Acts of the Apostles contains a record of the organization of the Christian church. That church was founded simply by the preaching of the truth, and chiefly by a simple statement of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The "Acts of the Apostles" contains the highest models of preaching, and the purest specimens of that simple, direct, and pungent manner of addressing men, which may be expected to be attended with the influences of the Holy Spirit. It contains some of the most tender, powerful, and eloquent appeals to be found in any language. If a man wishes to learn how to preach well, he can probably acquire it nowhere else so readily as by giving himself to the prayerful and profound study of the specimens contained in this book. At the same time, we have here a view of the character of the true church of Christ. The simplicity of this church must strike every reader of "the Acts." Religion is represented as a work of the heart; the pure and proper effect of truth on the mind. It is free from pomp and splendour, and from costly and magnificent ceremonies. There is no apparatus to impress the senses, no splendour to dazzle, no external rite or parade adapted to draw the affections from the pure and spiritual worship of God. How unlike to the pomp and parade of pagan worship! How unlike the vain and pompous ceremonies which have since, alas! crept into no small part of the Christian church!

5. In this book we have many striking and impressive illustrations of what the gospel is fitted to produce, to make men self-denying and benevolent. The apostles engaged in the great enterprise of converting the world. To secure that, they cheerfully forsook all. Paul became a convert to the Christian faith; and cheerfully for that gave up all his hopes of preferment and honour, and welcomed toil and privation in foreign lands. The early converts had all things in common, Ac 2:44 those "which used curious arts," and were gaining property by a course of iniquity, forsook their schemes of ill-gotten gain; and burned their books publicly, Ac 19:19; Ananias and Sapphira were punished for attempting to impose of the apostles by hypocritical professed self- denials, Ac 5:1-10; and throughout the book there occur constant instances of sacrifices and toil to spread the gospel around the globe. Indeed, these great truths had manifestly seized upon the early Christians: that the gospel was to be preached to all nations; and that whatever stood in the way of that was to be sacrificed; whatever toils and dangers were necessary, were to be borne; and even death itself was cheerfully to be met, it would promote the spread of true religion. This was then genuine Christianity; this is still the spirit of the gospel of Christ.

6. This book throws important light on the Epistles. It is a connecting link between the Gospels and the other parts of the New Testament. Instances of this will be noticed in the Notes. One of the most clear and satisfactory evidences of the genuineness of the books of the New Testament is to be found in the undesigned coincidences between the Acts and the Epistles. This argument was first clearly stated and illustrated by Dr. Paley. His little work illustrating it, the Hora Paulinae, is one of the most unanswerable proofs which have yet been furnished of the truth of the Christian religion.

7. This book contains unanswerable evidence of the truth of the Christian religion. It is a record of the early triumphs of Christianity. Within the space of thirty years after the death of Christ, the gospel had been carried to all parts of the civilized, and to no small portion of the uncivilized world. Its progress and its triumphs were not concealed. Its great transactions were not "done in a corner." It had been preached in the most splendid, powerful, and corrupt cities; churches were already founded in Jerusalem, Antioch, Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, and at Rome. The gospel had spread in Arabia, Asia Minor, Greece, Macedon, Italy, and Africa. It had assailed the most mighty existing institutions; it had made its way over the most formidable barriers; it had encountered the most deadly and malignant opposition; it had travelled to the capital, and had secured such a hold, even in the imperial city, as to make it certain that it would finally overturn the established religion, and seat itself on the ruins of paganism. Within thirty years it had settled the point that it would overturn every bloody altar; close every pagan temple; and that "banners of the faith would soon stream from the palaces of the Caesars." All this would be accomplished by the instrumentality of the Jews�"of fishermen�"of Nazarenes. The had neither wealth, armies, nor allies. With the exception of Paul, there were men without learning. They were taught only by the Holy Ghost; armed only with the power of God; victorious only because he was their Captain; and the world acknowledged the presence of the messengers of the Highest, and the power of the Christian religion. Its success never has been, and never can be, accounted for by any other supposition than that God attended it. And if the Christian religion be not true, the change wrought by the twelve apostles is the most inexplicable, mysterious, and wonderful event that has ever been witnessed in this world. Their success to the end of time will stand as an argument of the truth of the scheme, that shall confound the infidel, and sustain the Christian with the assured belief that this is a religion which has proceeded from the almighty and infinitely benevolent God.


Chapter 1

Verse 1. The former treatise. The former book. The Gospel by Luke is here evidently intended. Greek, "the former logos," meaning a discourse, or a narrative.

O Theophilus. See Barnes "Lu 1:3".

As this book was written to the same individual as the former, it was evidently written with the same design�"to furnish an authentic and full narrative of events concerning which there would be many imperfect and exaggerated accounts given. See Lu 1:1-4. As these events pertained to the descent of the Spirit, to the spread of the gospel, to the organization of the church by inspired authority, to the kind of preaching by which the church was collected and organized; and as those events were a full proof of the truth and power of the Christian religion, and would be a model for ministers and the church in all future times, it was of great importance that a fair and full narrative of them should be preserved. Luke was the companion of Paul in his travels, and was an eye-witness of no small part of the transactions recorded in this book. See Ac 16:10,17; 20:1-6,27,28.

As an eye-witness, he was well qualified to make a record of the leading events of the primitive church. And as he was the companion of Paul, he had every opportunity of obtaining information about the great events of the gospel of Christ.

Of all. That is, of the principal, or most important parts of the life and doctrines of Christ. It cannot mean that he recorded all that Jesus did, as he has omitted many things that have been preserved by the other evangelists. The word all is frequently thus used to denote the most important or material facts. See Ac 13:10; 1 Ti 1:16; Jas 1:2; Mt 2:3; 3:5; Ac 2:5; Ro 11:26; Col 1:6.

In each of these places the word here translated "all" occurs in the original, and means many, a large part, the principal portion. It has the same use in all languages. "This word often signifies, indefinitely, a large portion or number, or a great part." Webster.

That Jesus. The Syriac version adds, "Jesus our Messiah."�"This version was probably made in the second century.

Began both to do, etc. This is a Hebrew form of expression, meaning the same thing as that Jesus did and taught. See Ge 9:20, "Noah began to be an husbandman," i.e. was an husbandman. Ge 12:3, in the Septuagint: "Which God began to create and make;" in the Hebrew, "which God created and made." Mr 6:7, "Began to send them forth by two and two," i.e. sent them forth. See also Mr 10:32; 14:65, "And some began to spit on him;" in the parallel place in Mt 26:67, "they did spit in his face."

To do. This refers to his miracles and his acts of benevolence, including all that he did for man's salvation. It probably includes, therefore, his sufferings, death, and resurrection, as a part of what he has done to save men.

To teach. His doctrines. He had given an account of what the Lord Jesus did, so he was now about to give a narrative of what his apostles did in the same cause, that thus the world might be in possession of an inspired record respecting the redemption and establishment of the Christian church. The history of these events is one of the greatest blessings that God has conferred on mankind; and one of the highest privileges which men can enjoy is that which has been conferred so abundantly on this age in the possession and extension of the word of God.

No men could be imposed upon and made to believe that they really saw, talked with, and ate with, a friend whom they had known so long and familiarity, unless it was real.

(3.) There were enough of them to avoid the possibility of deception. Though it might be pretended that one man could be imposed on, yet it could not be that an imposition could be practised for forty days on eleven, who were all at first incredulous.

(4.) He was with them sufficient time to give evidence. It might be pretended, if they had seen him but once, that they were deceived. But they saw him often, and for the space of more than a month,

(5.) They saw him in various places and times where there could be no deception. If they had pretended that they saw him rise, or saw him at twilight in the morning when he rose, it might have been said that they were deluded by some remarkable appearance. Or it might have been said that, expecting, to see him rise, their hopes and agitations would have deceived them, and they would easily have fancied that they saw him. But it is not pretended by the sacred writers that they saw him rise. An impostor would have affirmed this, and would not have omitted it.

But the sacred writers affirmed that they saw him after he was risen; when they were free from agitation; when they could judge coolly: in Jerusalem; in their company when at worship; when journeying to Emmaus; when in Galilee; when he went with them to Mount Olivet; and when he ascended to heaven.

(6.) He appeared to them as he had always done; as a friend, companion, and benefactor; he ate with them; wrought a miracle before them; was engaged in the same work as he was before he suffered; renewed the same promise of the Holy Spirit; and gave them his Commands respecting the work which he had died to establish and promote. In all these circumstances it was impossible that they should be deceived.

Being seen of them forty days. There are no less than THIRTEEN different appearances of Jesus to his disciples recorded. For an account of them, see the Note at the end of the Gospel of Matthew.

Speaking to them, etc. He was not only seen by them, but he continued the same topics of discourse as before his sufferings; thus showing that he was the same person that had suffered, and that his heart was still intent on the same great work. Our Saviour's heart was filled with the same design in his life and death, and when he rose; thus showing us that we should aim at the same great work in all the circumstances of our being. Afflictions, persecutions, and death never turned him from this great plan; nor should they be allowed to divert our minds from the great work of redemption.

The things pertaining to the kingdom of God. For an explanation of this phrase, the kingdom of God, See Barnes "Mt 3:2".

The meaning is, Jesus gave them instructions about the organization, spread, and edification of his church.

{a} "the former treatise" Lu 1:1-4

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 1 - Verse 2

Verse 2. Until the day. The fortieth day after his resurrection, Ac 1:3; Lu 24:51.

In which he was taken up. In which he ascended to heaven. He was taken up into a cloud, and is represented as having been borne or carried to heaven, Ac 1:9.

After that, etc. This whole passage has been variously rendered. The Syriac renders it, "After he had given commandment unto the apostles whom he had chosen by the Holy Spirit." So also the Ethiopic version. Others have joined the words "through the 'Holy Ghost" to the phrase "was taken up," making it mean that he was taken up by the Holy Ghost. But the most natural and correct translation seems to be that which is in our version.

Through the Holy Ghost. To understand this, it is necessary to call to mind the promise that Jesus made before his death, that after his departure, the Holy Ghost would descend to be a guide to his apostles. See Joh 16:7-11, See Barnes "Joh 16:7".

It was to be his office to carry forward the work of redemption in applying it to the hearts of men. Whatever was done, therefore, after the atonement and resurrection of Jesus, after he had finished his great work, was to be regarded as under the peculiar influence and direction of the Holy Ghost. Even the instructions of Jesus, his commission to the apostles, etc., were to be regarded as coming within the department of the sacred Spirit, within the province of his peculiar work. The instructions were given by Divine authority, by infallible guidance, and as a part of the work which the Holy Spirit designed. Under that Spirit the apostles were to go forth; by his aid they were to convert the world, to organize the church, to establish its order and its doctrines. And hence the entire work was declared to be by his direction. Though in his larger and more mighty influences, the Spirit did not descend until the day of Pentecost, Lu 24:49; comp. Ac 2 yet in some measure his influence was imparted to them before the ascension of Christ, Joh 20:22.

Had given commandments. Particularly the command to preach the gospel to all nations, Mt 28:19; Mr 16:15-19. It may be worthy of remark, that the word commandments, as a noun in the plural number, does not occur in the original. The single word which is translated "had given commandments" is a participle, and means simply having commanded. There is no need, therefore, of supposing that there is reference here to any other command than to that great and glorious injunction to preach the gospel to every creature. That was a command of so much importance as to be worthy of a distinct record, as constituting the sum of all that the Saviour taught them after his resurrection.

The apostles. The eleven that remained after the treason and death of Judas.

Whom he had chosen. Mt 10; Lu 6:12-16.

{b} "Until the day" Ac 1:9; Lu 24:51; 1 Ti 3:16

{c} "commandments unto the apostles" Mt 28:19; Mr 16:15-19

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 1 - Verse 3

Verse 3. He shewed himself. The resurrection of Jesus was the great fact on which the truth of the gospel was to be established. Hence the sacred writers so often refer to it, and establish it by so many arguments. As that truth lay at the foundation of all that Luke was about to record in his history, it was of importance that he should state clearly the sum of the evidence of it in the beginning of his work.

After his passion. After he suffered, referring particularly to his death, as the consummation of his sufferings. The word passion, with us, means commonly excitement, or agitation of mind; as love, hope, fear, anger, etc. In the original the word means to suffer. The word passion, applied to the Saviour, denotes his last sufferings. Thus in the Litany of the Episcopal church, it is beautifully said, "By thine agony and bloody sweat; by thy cross and passion, good Lord, deliver us." The Greek word of the same derivation is rendered sufferings in 1 Pe 1:11; 4:13; Col 1:24.

By many infallible proofs. The word here rendered infallible proofs, does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. In Greek authors it denotes an infallible sign or argument by which anything can be certainly known.�"Schleusner. Here it means the same�"evidence that he was alive which could not deceive, or in which they could not be mistaken. That evidence consisted in his eating with them, conversing with them, meeting them at various times and places, working miracles, (Joh 21:6,7); and uniformly showing himself to be the same Friend with whom they had been familiar for more than three years. This evidence was infallible,

(1.) because it was to them unexpected. They had manifestly not believed that he would rise again, Joh 20:25; Lu 24. There was therefore no delusion resulting from any expectation of seeing him, or from a design to impose on men.

(2.) It was impossible that they could have been deceived in relation to one with whom they had been familiar for more than three years. No men could be imposed upon and made to believe that they really saw, talked with, and ate with, a friend whom they had known so long and familiarly, unless it was real.

(3.) There were enough of them to avoid the possibility of deception. Though it might be pretended that one man could be imposed on, yet it could not be that an imposition could be practised for forty days on eleven, who were all at first incredulous.

(4.) He was with them sufficient time to give evidence. It might be pretended, if they had seen him but once, that they were deceived. But they saw him often, and for the space of more than a month,

(5.) They saw him in various places and times where there could be no deception. If they had pretended that they saw him rise, or saw him at twilight in the morning when he rose, it might have been said that they were deluded by some remarkable appearance. Or it might have been said that, expecting to see him rise, their hopes and agitations would have deceived them, and they would easily have fancied that they saw him. But it is not pretended by the sacred writers that they saw him rise. An impostor would have affirmed this, and would not have omitted it. But the sacred writers affirmed that they saw him after he was risen; when they were free from agitation; when they could judge coolly: in Jerusalem; in their company when at worship; when journeying to Emmaus; when in Galilee; when he went with them to Mount Olivet; and when he ascended to heaven.

(6.) He appeared to them as he had always done; as a friend, companion, and benefactor; he ate with them; wrought a miracle before them; was engaged in the same work as he was before he suffered; renewed the same promise of the Holy Spirit; and gave them his Commands respecting the work which he had died to establish and promote. In all these circumstances it was impossible that they should be deceived.

Being seen of them forty days. There are no less than THIRTEEN different appearances of Jesus to his disciples recorded. For an account of them, See Barnes "Mt 28:20".

Speaking to them, etc. He was not only seen by them, but he continued the same topics of discourse as before his sufferings; thus showing that he was the same person that had suffered, and that his heart was still intent on the same great work. Our Saviour's heart was filled with the same design in his life and death, and when he rose; thus showing us that we should aim at the same great work in all the circumstances of our being. Afflictions, persecutions, and death never turned him from this great plan; nor should they be allowed to divert our minds from the great work of redemption.

The things pertaining to the kingdom of God. For an explanation of this phrase, the kingdom of God, See Barnes "Mt 3:2".

The meaning is, Jesus gave them instructions about the organization, spread, and edification of his church.

{d} "many infallible proofs" Lu 24:15; Joh 20:1-21:25.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 1 - Verse 4

Verse 4. And being assembled together. Margin, "or, eating together." This sense is given to this place in the Latin Vulgate, the Ethiopic, and the Syriac versions. But the Greek word has not properly this sense. It has the meaning of congregating, or assembling. It should have been, however, translated in the active sense, "and having assembled them together." The apostles were scattered after his death. But this passage denotes that he had assembled them together by his authority, for the purpose of giving them a charge respecting their conduct when he should have left them. When this occurred does not appear from the narrative; but it is probable that it was not long before his ascension; and it is clear that the place where they were assembled was Jerusalem.

But wait for the promise of the Father. For the fulfillment of the promise respecting the descent of the Holy Spirit, made by the Father.

Which ye have heard of me. Which I have made to you. See Joh 14:16,26; 15:26; 16:7-13.

{1} "being assembled", or "eating together"

{a} "commanded" Lu 24:40

{b} "ye have heard of me" Joh 14:1-16:33

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 1 - Verse 5

Verse 5. For John truly baptized, etc. These are the words of Jesus to his apostles; and he evidently has reference to what was said of John's baptism compared with his own in Mt 3:11; Joh 1:33. In those verses John is represented as baptizing with water, but the Messiah who was to come as baptizing with the Holy Ghost and with fire. This promise respecting the Messiah was now about to be fulfilled in a remarkable manner. See Ac 2.

Not many days hence. This was probably spoken not long before his ascension, and of course not many days before the day of Pentecost.

{c} "John truly" Mt 3:11

{+} "truly", or "indeed"

{++} "Ghost", or "Spirit"

{d} "Holy Ghost" Ac 2:4; 10:45; 11:15

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 1 - Verse 6

Verse 6. When they therefore were come together. At the Mount of Olives. See Ac 1:9,12.

Wilt thou at this time, etc. The apostles had entertained the common opinions of the Jews about the temporal dominion of the Messiah. They expected that he would reign as a prince and conqueror, and free them from the bondage of the Romans. Many instances of this expectation occur in the Gospels, notwithstanding all the efforts which the Lord Jesus made to explain to them the true nature of his kingdom. This expectation was checked, and almost destroyed by his death, Lu 24:21. And it is clear that his death was the only means which could effectually check and change their opinions respecting the nature of his kingdom. Even his own instructions would not do it; and only his being taken from them could direct their minds effectually to the true nature of his kingdom. Yet, though his death checked their expectations, and appeared to thwart their plans, yet his return to life excited them again. They beheld him with them; they were assured it was the same Saviour; they saw now that his enemies had no power over him; that a Being who could rise from the dead, could easily accomplish all his plans. And as they did not doubt now that he would restore the kingdom to Israel, they asked whether he would do it at this time? They did not ask whether he would do it at all, or whether they had correct views of his kingdom; but taking that for granted, they asked him whether that was the time in which he would do it. The emphasis of the inquiry lies in the expression, "at this time," and hence the answer of the Saviour refers solely to the point of their inquiry, and not to the correctness or incorrectness of their opinions. From these expectations of the apostles we may learn,

(1.) that there is nothing so difficult to be removed from the mind as prejudice in favour of erroneous opinions.

(2.) That such prejudice will survive the plainest proofs to the contrary.

(3.) That it will often manifest itself even after all proper means have been taken to subdue it. Erroneous opinions thus maintain a secret ascendancy in a man's mind, and are revived by the slightest circumstances, even long after we supposed they were overcome; and even in the face of the plainest proofs of reason or of Scripture.

Restore. Bring back; put into its former situation. Judea was formerly governed by its own kings and laws; now it was subject to the Romans. This bondage was grievous, and the nation sighed for deliverance. The inquiry of the apostles evidently was, whether he would now free them from the bondage of the Romans, and restore them to their former state of freedom and prosperity, as in the times of David and Solomon. See Isa 1:26. The word" restore" also may include more than a reducing it to its former state. It may mean, Wilt thou now bestow the kingdom and dominion to Israel, according to the prediction in Da 7:27?

The kingdom. The dominion; the empire; the reign. The expectation was that the Messiah�"the King of Israel�"would reign over men, and thus the nation of the Jews extend their empire over all the earth.

To Israel. To the Jews, and particularly to the Jewish followers of the Messiah. Lightfoot thinks that this question was asked in indignation against the Jews. "Wilt thou confer dominion on a nation which has just put thee to death?" But the answer of the Saviour shows that this was not the design of the question.

{e} "wilt thou" Mt 24:3,4

{f} "restore again" Isa 1:26; Da 7:27

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 1 - Verse 7

Verse 7. It is not for you to know. The question of the apostles respected the time of the restoration; it was not whether he would do it. Accordingly, his answer meets precisely their inquiry; and he tells them in general that the time of the great events of God's kingdom was not to be understood by them. A similar question they had asked in Mt 24:3, "Tell us when shall these things be?"

Jesus answered them then by showing them certain signs which should precede his coming, and by saying, (Mt 24:36) "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." God has uniformly reproved a vain curiosity on such points, 1 Th 5:1,2; 2 Pe 3:10; Lu 12:39,40.

The times or the seasons. The difference between these words is, that the former denotes any time or period indefinite, or uncertain; the latter denotes a fixed, definite, or appropriate time. They seem to be used here to denote the periods of all classes of future events.

The Father hath put, etc. So much had the Father reserved the knowledge of these, that it is said, that even the Son did not know them. See Mr 13:32. See Barnes "Mr 13:32".

In his own power. That is, he has fixed them by his own authority; he will bring them about in his own time and way; and therefore it is not proper for men anxiously to inquire into them. All prophecy is remarkably obscure in regard to the time of its fulfillment. The reasons are,

(1.) to excite men to watch for the events that are to come, as the time is uncertain, and they will come "like a thief in the night."

(2.) As they are to be brought about by human agency, they are so arranged as to call forth that agency. If men knew just when an event was to come to pass, they might be remiss, and feel that their effort was not needed.

(3.) The knowledge of future scenes�"of the exact time, might alarm men, and absorb their thoughts entirely, and prevent attendance to the present duties of life. Duty is ours now; God will provide for future scenes.

(4.) Promises sufficiently clear and full are therefore given us to encourage us; but not full enough to excite a vain and idle curiosity. All this is eminently true of our own death�"one of the most important future scenes through which we are to pass. It is certainly before us; it is near; it cannot be long avoided; it may come at any moment. God has fixed the time, but will not inform us when it shall be. He does not gratify a vain curiosity, or terrify us, by announcing to us the day or the hour when we are to die, as we do a man that is to be executed. This would be to make our lives like that of a criminal sentenced to die, and we should through all our life, through fear of death, be subject to bondage, Heb 2:15. He has made enough known to excite us to prepare, and to be always ready, having our loins girt about, and our lamps trimmed and burning, Lu 12:35.

{g} "It is not for" Mt 24:36; 1 Th 5:1,2

{*} "power", or "disposal"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 1 - Verse 8

Verse 8. But ye shall receive power, etc. Literally, as it is translated in the margin, "ye shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you." This was said to them to console them. Though they could not know the times which God reserved in his own appointment, yet they should receive the promised Guide and Comforter. The word power here refers to all the help or aid which the Holy Spirit would grant; the power of speaking with new tongues; of preaching the gospel with great effect; of enduring great trials, etc. See Mr 16:17,18. The apostles had impatiently asked him if he was then about to restore the kingdom to Israel. Jesus by this answer rebuked their impatience; taught them to repress their ill-timed ardour; and assured them again of the coming of the Holy Ghost.

Ye shall be witnesses. For this purpose they were appointed; and for this design they had been with him for more than three years. They had seen his manner of life, his miracles, his meekness, his sufferings; they had listened to his instructions, had conversed and eaten with him as a friend; they had seen him after he was risen, and were about to see him ascend to heaven; and they were qualified to bear witness to all these things in all parts of the earth, They were so numerous, that it could not be pretended that they were deceived; they had been so intimate with him and his plans, that they could testify of him; and there was no motive but conviction of the truth, that could lead them to all these sacrifices in making known the Saviour. The original word here is (marturev)�"martyrs. From this word the name martyrs has been given to those who suffered in times of persecution. The reason why this name was given to them was that they bore witness to the life, instructions, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, even in the midst of persecution and death. It is commonly supposed that nearly all of the apostles thus bore witness to the Lord Jesus: of this, however, there is not clear proof. See Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History, vol. i., pp. 55, p56. Still the word here does not necessarily mean that they should be martyrs, or be put to death in bearing witness to the Lord Jesus; but that they should everywhere testify to what they knew of him. The fact that this was the design of their appointment, and that they actually bore such testimony, is abundantly confirmed in the Acts of the Apostles, Ac 1:22; 5:32; 10:39,42; 22:16.

In Jerusalem. In the capital of the nation. See Ac 2. The great work of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost occurred there. Most of the disciples remained in Jerusalem until the persecution that arose about the death of Stephen, Ac 8:1,4. The apostles remained there till Herod put James to death. Comp. Ac 8:1, with Ac 12:1,2. This was about eight years. During this time, however, Paul was called to the apostleship, and Peter had preached the gospel to Cornelius, Philip to the eunuch, etc.

In all Judea. Judea was the southern division of the Holy Land, and included Jerusalem as the capital. See Barnes "Mt 2:22" See Barnes "Ac 8:1".

And in Samaria. This was the middle portion of Palestine. See Barnes "Mt 2:22".

This was fulfilled by his disciples. See Ac 8:1, "And they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, (Ac 1:4,) everywhere preaching the word;" Ac 8:15, "Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them " Ac 1:14; 9:31.

And unto the uttermost part of the earth. The word earth, or land, is sometimes taken to denote only the land of Palestine. But here there does not seem to be a necessity for limiting it thus. If Christ had intended that, he would have mentioned Galilee, as being the only remaining division. But as he had expressly directed them to preach the gospel to all nations, the expression here is clearly to be considered as including the Gentile lands as well as the Jewish. The evidence that they did this is found in the subsequent parts of this book, and in the history of the church. In this way Jesus replied to their question. Though he did not tell them the time when it was to be done, nor did he affirm that he would restore the kingdom to Israel, yet he gave them an answer that implied that the work should advance�"should advance much farther than the land of Israel; and that they would have much to do in promoting it. All the commands of God, and all his communications are such as to call up our energy, and teach us that we have much to do. The uttermost parts of the earth have been given to the Saviour, (Ps 2:8) and churches should not rest until He whose right it is shall come and reign, Eze 21:27.

{1} "power" or "the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you"

{a} "ye shall be witnesses" Mt 28:19; Lu 24:47-49

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 1 - Verse 9

Verse 9. While they beheld. While they saw him. It was of importance to state that circumstance, and to state it distinctly. It is not affirmed in the New Testament that they saw him rise from the dead; because the evidence of that fact could be better established by their seeing him after he was risen. But the truth of his ascension to heaven could not be confirmed in that manner. Hence it was so arranged as that he should ascend in open day; in the presence of his apostles; and that not when they were asleep, or indifferent, but when they were engaged in a conversation that should fix the attention, and when they were looking upon him. Had Jesus vanished secretly, or in the night, the apostles would have been amazed and confounded; perhaps they would even have doubted whether they had not been deceived. But when they saw him leave them in this manner, they could not doubt that he had risen; and when they saw him ascend to heaven, they could not doubt that his work was approved, and that God would carry it onward. This event was exceedingly important.

(1.) It was a confirmation of the truth of the Christian religion.

(2.) It enabled the apostles to state distinctly where the Lord Jesus was, and at once directed their affections and their thoughts away from the earth, and opened their eyes on the glory of the scheme of religion they were to establish. If their Saviour was in heaven, it settled the question about the nature of his kingdom. It was clear that it was not designed to be a temporal kingdom. The reasons why it was proper that the Lord Jesus should ascend to heaven rather than remain on earth, were,

(1,) that he had finished the work which God gave him to do on the earth, Joh 17:24; 19:30 and it was proper that he should be received back to the glory which he had with the Father before the world was, Joh 17:4,15; Php 2:6,9,10.
(2.) It was proper that he should ascend, that the Holy Spirit might come down and perform his part of the work of redemption. Jesus, by his personal ministry, as a man, could be but in one place; the Holy Spirit could be in all places, and be present at all times, and could apply the work to all men. See Barnes "Joh 16:7".
(3.) A part of the work of Christ was yet to be performed in heaven. That was the work of intercession. The high priest of the Jews not only made an atonement, but also presented the blood of sacrifice before the mercy-seat, as the priest of the people, Le 16:11-14. This was done to typify the entrance of the great High Priest of our profession into the heavens, Heb 9:7,8,11,12.

The work which he performs there is the work of intercession, Heb 7:25. This is properly the work which an advocate performs in a court of justice for his client. It means that Christ, our great High Priest, still pleads and manages our cause in heaven; secures our interests; obtains for us grace and mercy. It consists in his appearing in the presence of God for us, Heb 9:24; in his presenting the merits of his blood, Heb 9:12,14 and in securing the continuance of the mercy which has been bestowed on us, and which is still needful for our welfare. The Lord Jesus also ascended that he might assume and exercise the office of King in the immediate seat of power. All worlds were subject to him for the welfare of the church; and it was needful that he should be solemnly invested with that power in the presence of God, as the reward of his earthly toils. 1 Co 15:25, "He must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet." Eph 1:20-22; Php 2:6-11.

A cloud received him. He entered into the region of the clouds, and was hid from their view. But two others of our race have been taken bodily from earth to heaven. Enoch was translated, (Ge 5:24; comp. Heb 11:5) and Elijah was taken by a whirlwind to heaven, 2 Ki 2:11. It is remarkable that when the return of the Saviour is mentioned, it is uniformly said that he will return in the clouds, Ac 1:11; Mt 24:30; 26:64; Mr 13:26; Re 1:7; Da 7:13.

The clouds are an emblem of sublimity and grandeur, and perhaps this is all that is intended by these expressions. De 4:11; 2 Sa 12:12; Ps 97:2; 104:3.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 1 - Verse 10

Verse 10. Looked steadfastly. They fixed their eyes, or gazed intently toward heaven. Lu 4:20, "And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened (Greek, the same word as here) on him." It means the intense gaze when we are deeply interested, and wish to see clearly and distinctly. Here, they were amazed and confounded; the thing was unlooked-for; and they were even then inquiring whether he would not restore the kingdom to Israel. With this mingled amazement, and disappointment, and curiosity; and with the earnest desire to catch the last glimpse of their beloved Master, they naturally continued to gaze on the distant clouds where he had mysteriously disappeared from their view. Never was a scene more impressive, grand, and solemn than this.

Toward heaven. Toward the distant clouds or sky which had received him.

As he went up. Literally, "The ascending, or going up." Doubtless they continued to gaze after he had departed from their view.

Two men. From the raiment of these "men" and the nature of their message, it seems clear that they were angelic beings, who were sent to meet and comfort the disciples on this occasion. They appeared in human form, and Luke describes them as they appeared. Angels are not unfrequently called men. Lu 24:4, "Two men stood by them in shining garments," etc. Comp. Joh 20:12; Mt 28:5. As two angels are mentioned only as addressing the apostles after the resurrection of Jesus, (Joh 20:12; Lu 24:4) it is no unnatural supposition that these were the same who had been designated to the honourable office of bearing witness to his resurrection, and of giving them all the information about that resurrection, and of his ascension, which their circumstances needed.

In white apparel. Angels are commonly represented as clothed in white. See Barnes "Joh 20:12; See Barnes "Mt 28:3; See Barnes "Mr 16:5".

It is an emblem of purity; and the worshippers of heaven are represented as clothed in this manner. Re 3:4, "They shall walk with me in white;" Re 3:5, "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment " Re 4:4; 7:9,13,14.

{*} "steadfastly" or, "earnestly"

{a} "two men" Joh 20:12

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 1 - Verse 11

Verse 11. Ye men of Galilee. Galilee was the place of their former residence; and this was the name by which they were commonly known. There is no evidence that the angel intended this name in any way to reproach them.

Why stand ye, etc. There is doubtless a slight degree of censure implied in this, as well as a design to call their attention away from a vain attempt to see the departed Saviour. The impropriety may have been,

(1.) in the feeling of disappointment, as if he would not restore the kingdom to Israel.

(2.) Possibly they were expecting that he would again soon appear; though he had often foretold them that he would ascend to heaven.

(3.) There might have been an impropriety in their earnest desire for the mere bodily presence of the Lord Jesus, when it was more important that it should be in heaven. We may see here, also, that it is our duty not to stand in idleness, and to gaze even towards heaven. We, as well as the apostles, have a great work to do, and we should actively engage in it without delay.

Gazing up. Looking up.

This same Jesus. This was said to comfort them. The same tried Friend, who had been so faithful to them, would return. They ought not, therefore, to look with despondency at his departure.

Into heaven. This expression denotes into the immediate presence of God; or into the place of perpetual purity and happiness, where God peculiarly manifests his favour. The same thing is frequently designated by his sitting on the right hand of God, as emblematic of power, honour, and favour. See Barnes "Mr 16:19

See Barnes "Mr 14:62"

See Barnes "Heb 1:3"

See Barnes "Heb 8:1

See Barnes "Ac 7:55; See Barnes "Ro 8:34 Eph 1:20.

Shall so come. At the day of judgment. Joh 14:3, "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again," etc.

In like manner, etc. In clouds, as he ascended. See Barnes "Ac 1:9" See Barnes "1 Th 4:16".

This address was designed to comfort the disciples. Though their Master and Friend was taken from them, yet he was not removed for ever. He would come again with similar majesty and glory, for the vindication of his people, and to tread all his enemies under his feet. The design for which he will come, will be to judge the world, Mt 25. There will be an evident fitness and propriety in his coming.

(1.) Because his appropriate work in heaven as Mediator shall be accomplished; his people shall have been saved; the enemy subdued; death shall have been conquered; and the gospel shall have shown its power in subduing all forms of wickedness; in removing the effects of sin, in establishing the law, in vindicating the honour of God; and shall thus have done all that will be needful to be done to establish the authority of God throughout the universe. It will be proper, therefore, that this mysterious order of things shall be wound up, and the results become a matter of record in the history of the universe. It will be better than it would be to suffer an eternal millennium on the earth, while the saints should many of them slumber, and the wicked still be in their graves.

(2.) It is proper that he should come to vindicate his people, and raise them up to glory. Here they have been persecuted, oppressed, put to death. Their character is assailed; they are poor; and the world despises them. It is fit that God should show himself to be their Friend; that he should do justice to their injured names and motives; that he should bring out hidden and obscure virtue, and vindicate it; that he should enter every grave and bring forth his friends to life.

(3.) It is proper that he should show his hatred of sin. Here it triumphs. The wicked are rich, and honoured, and mighty, and say, "Where is the promise of his coming?" 2 Pe 3:4. It is right that he should defend his cause. Hence the Lord Jesus will come to guard the avenues to heaven, and to see that the universe suffers no wrong, by the admission of an improper person to the skies.

(4.) The great transactions of redemption have been public, open, often grand. The apostasy was public, in the face of angels and of the universe. Sin has been open, public, high-handed. Misery has been public, and has rolled its deep and turbid waves in the face of the universe. Death has been public; all worlds have seen the race cut down and moulder. The death of Jesus was public; the angels saw it; the heavens were clothed with mourning; the earth shook; and the dead arose. The angels have desired to look into these things, (1 Pe 1:12,) and have felt an intense solicitude about men. Jesus was publicly whipped, cursed, crucified; and it is proper that he should publicly triumph, that all heaven rejoicing, and all hell at length humbled, should see his public victory. Hence he will come with clouds�"with angels�"with fire�"and will raise the dead, and exhibit to all the universe the amazing close of the scheme of redemption.

(5.) We are in these verses presented with the most grand and wonderful events that this world has ever known�"the ascension and return of the Lord Jesus. Here is consolation for the Christian; and here is a source of ceaseless alarm to the sinner.

{b} "Ye men of Galilee" Ac 2:7; 13:31

{c} "shall so come" Joh 14:3; 1 Th 4:16

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 1 - Verse 12

Verse 12. Then returned they unto Jerusalem. In Lu 24:52, we are told that they worshipped Jesus before they returned. And it is probable that the act of worship to which he refers, was that which is mentioned in this chapter�"their gazing intently on their departing Lord.

From the mount called Olivet. From the Mount of Olives. See Barnes "Mt 21:1".

The part of the mountain from which he ascended was the eastern declivity, where stood the little village of Bethany, Lu 24:50.

A sabbath day's journey. As far as might be lawfully travelled by a Jew on the Sabbath. This was two thousand paces or cubits; or seven furlongs and a half�"not quite one mile. See Barnes "Mt 24:20".

The distance of a lawful journey on the Sabbath was not determined by the laws of Moses, but the Jewish teachers had fixed it at two thousand paces. This measure was determined on because it was a tradition, that in the camp of the Israelites when coming from Egypt, no part of the camp was more than two thousand paces from the tabernacle; and over this space, therefore, they were permitted to travel for worship. Perhaps, also, some countenance was given to this from the fact that this was the extent of the suburbs of the Levitical cities, Nu 35:5. Mount Olivet was but five furlongs from Jerusalem, and Bethany was fifteen furlongs. But on the eastern declivity of the mountain the tract of country was called, for a considerable space, the region of Bethany; and it was from this place that the Lord Jesus ascended.

{d} "Then returned they" Lu 24:52.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 1 - Verse 13

Verse 13. Were come in. To Jerusalem.

They went up into an upper room. The word�"uperwon�"here translated upper room, occurs but four times in the New Testament. Ac 9:37, "She (Dorcas) was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber," Ac 9:39; 20:8, "And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together." The room so designated was an upper chamber used for devotion; or to place the dead before burial; or occasionally for conversation, etc. Here it evidently means the place where they were assembled for devotion. Lu 24:53 says they were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. And some have supposed that the upper room here designated was one of the rooms in the temple. But there is no evidence of that; and it is not very probable. Such a room was a part of every house, especially in Jerusalem; and they probably selected one where they might be together, and yet so retired that they might be safe from the Jews.

Where abode. Where were remaining. This does not mean that this was their permanent habitation; but they remained there waiting for the descent of the Holy Spirit.

Peter, etc. All the apostles were there which Jesus had at first chosen, except Judas, Lu 6:13-16.

{a} "Peter and James" Lu 6:13-16

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 1 - Verse 14

Verse 14. These all continued, etc. The word continued denotes persevering and constant attention. The main business was devotion. Ac 6:4, "We will give ourselves continually�"to the ministry of the word." Ro 12:12, "Continuing instant in prayer:" Ro 13:6, "Attending continually upon this very thing." It is their main and constant employment, Col 4:2.

With one accord. With one mind; unitedly; unanimously. There were no schisms, no divided interests, no discordant purposes. This is a beautiful picture of devotion, and a specimen of what social worship ought now to be, and a beautiful illustration of Ps 133. The apostles felt that they had one great object; and their deep grief at the loss of their Master, their doubts and perplexities, led them, as all afflictions ought to lead us, to the throne of grace.

In prayer and supplication. These words are nearly synonymous, and are often interchanged. They express, here, petitions to God for blessings, and prayer to avert impending evils.

With the women. The women that had followed the Lord Jesus from Galilee, Lu 8:2,3; 23:49,55; 24:10; Mt 27:55.

The women particularly mentioned are Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, the mother of Zebedee's children, Joanna the wife of Chuza, and Susanna. Besides these, there were others whose names are not mentioned. Most of them were relatives of the apostles or of our Saviour; and it is not improbable that some of them were wives of the apostles. Peter is known to have been married, (Mt 8:14,) and had his wife in attendance, (1 Co 9:5;) and the same was doubtless true of some of the other apostles, (1 Co 9:5.) Mary is here particularly mentioned, the mother of Jesus; showing that she now cast in her lot with the apostles. She had, besides, been particularly entrusted to the care of John, (Joh 19:26,27,) and had no other home. This is the last time she is mentioned in the New Testament.

And with his brethren. See Barnes "Mt 12:46".

At first they had been unbelieving about the claims of Jesus, (Joh 7:5;) but it seems that they had been subsequently converted.

{*} "accord" or, "one mind"

{b} "the women" Lu 23:49,55; 24:10

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 1 - Verse 15

Verse 15. In those days. On one of the days intervening between the ascension of Jesus and the day of Pentecost.

Peter stood up. Peter standing up, or rising. This is a customary expression in the Scriptures when one begins to do a thing, Lu 15:18. The reason why Peter did this may be seen in the Note See Barnes "Mt 16:16,17".

It is not improbable, besides, that Peter was the most aged of the apostles; and from his uniform conduct we know that he was the most ardent. It was perfectly characteristic, therefore, for him to introduce the business of the election of a new apostle.

The disciples. This was the name which was given to them as being learners in the school of Christ. See Barnes "Mt 5:1.

The number of the names. The number of the persons, or individuals. The word name is often used to denote the person, Re 3:4; Ac 4:12; 18:15; Eph 1:21.

In Syriac it is, "the assembly of men was about an hundred and twenty." This was the first assembly convened to transact the business of the church; and it is not a little remarkable that the vote in so important a matter as electing an apostle was by the entire church. It settles the question that the election of a minister and pastor should be by the church, and not be imposed on them by any right or presentation by individuals, or by any ecclesiastical body. If a case could ever occur where a minister should be chosen by the ministry only, such a case was here in the election of another apostle. And yet in this the entire church had a voice. Whether this was all the true church at this time, does not appear from the history. This expression cannot mean that there were no more Christians, but that these were all that had convened in the upper room. It is almost certain that our Saviour had, by his own ministry, brought many others to be his true followers.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 1 - Verse 16

Verse 16. Men and brethren. This is a customary mode of address, implying affection and respect, Ac 13:26. The Syriac has it more appropriately than by the introduction of the conjunction "and"�" "Men, our brethren."

This Scripture. This portion or prediction contained in the writings of the Old Testament. Scripture, writing. See Barnes "Joh 5:39".

The passage to which Peter refers is commonly supposed to be that recorded in Ps 41:9, "Yea, mine own familiar friend�"hath lifted up his heel against me." This is expressly applied to Judas by our Saviour, in Joh 13:18. But it seems clear that the reference is not to the 41st Psalm, but to the passage which Peter proceeds to quote in Ac 1:20.

Must needs have been fulfilled. It would certainly happen that it would be fulfilled. Not that there was any physical necessity, or any compulsion; but it could not but occur that a prediction of God should be fulfilled. This makes no affirmation about the freedom of Judas in doing it. A man will be just as free in wickedness if it be foretold that he will be wicked, as if it had never been known to any other being.

The Holy Ghost, etc. This is a strong attestation to the inspiration of David, and accords with the uniform testimony of the New Testament, that the sacred writer spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, 2 Pe 1:21.

Concerning Judas. In what respect this was concerning Judas, see Ac 1:20.

Which was guide, etc. Mt 26:47; Joh 18:3.

{c} "which the Holy Ghost" Ps 41:9; Joh 13:18

{d} "guide to them" Mt 26:47; Joh 18:3

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 1 - Verse 17

Verse 17. He was numbered with us. He was chosen as an apostle by the Lord Jesus, Lu 6:13-16, This does not mean that he was a true Christian, but that he was reckoned among the apostles. Jesus knew that he never loved him. Long before he betrayed him, he declared that he was a devil, Joh 6:70. He knew his whole character when he chose him, Joh 2:25. If it be asked why he chose such a man to be an apostle�"why he was made the treasurer of the apostles, and was admitted to the fullest confidence�"we may reply, that a most important object was gained in having such a man �"a spy�"among them. It might be pretended when the apostles bore testimony to the purity of life, of doctrine, and of purpose, of the Lord Jesus, that they were interested and partial friends; that they might be disposed to suppress some of his real sentiments, and represent him in a light more favourable than the truth. Hence the testimony of such a man as Judas, if favourable, must be invaluable. It would be free from the charge of partiality. If Judas knew anything unfavourable to the character of Jesus, he would have communicated it to the sanhedrim. If he knew of any secret plot against the government, or seditious purpose, he had every inducement to declare it. He had every opportunity to know it: he was with him; heard him converse; was a member of his family, and admitted to terms of familiarity. Yet even Judas could not be bought, or bribed, to testify against the moral character of the Saviour. If he had done it, or could have done it, it would have preserved him from the charge of treason; entitled him to the reputation of a public benefactor in discovering secret sedition; and have saved him from the pangs of remorse, and from self-murder. Judas would have done it if he could. But he alleged no such charge; he did not even dare to lisp a word against the pure designs of the Lord Jesus; and his own pangs and death are the highest proof that can be desired of his conviction that the betrayed Redeemer was innocent. Judas would have been just the witness which the Jews desired of the treasonable purposes of Jesus. But that could not be had, even by gold; and they were compelled to suborn other men to testify against the Son of God, Mt 26:60. We may just add here, that the introduction of such a character as that of Judas Iscariot into the number of the apostles, and the use to be made of his testimony, would never have occurred to an impostor. An impostor would have said that they were all the true friends of the Lord Jesus. To have invented such a character as that of Judas, and to make him perform such a part in the plan as the sacred writers do, would have required too much art and cunning, was too refined and subtle a device to have been thought of, unless it had actually occurred.

{e} "he was numbered with us" Lu 6:16

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 1 - Verse 18

Verse 18. Now this man, etc. The money which was given for betraying the Lord Jesus was thrown down in the temple, and the field was purchased with it by the Jewish priests. See Mt 27:5,10, See Barnes "Mt 27:5, See Barnes "Mt 27:5".

A man is said often to do a thing, when he furnished means for doing it.

The reward of iniquity. The price which he had for that deed of stupendous wickedness�"the betraying of the Lord Jesus.

And falling headlong. He first hanged himself, and then fell and was burst asunder, Mt 27:5.

{a} "this man" Mt 27:5-10

{b} "reward of iniquity" 2 Pe 2:15

{*} "purchased a field" or, "Caused a field to be purchased"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 1 - Verse 19

Verse 19. It was known, etc. Mt 27:8. The scene in the temple, the acts of the priests in purchasing the field, etc., would make it known; and the name of the field would preserve the memory of the guilt of Judas.

Their proper tongue. The language spoken by the Jews�"the Syro-Chaldaic.

Aceldama. This is composed of two Syro-Chaldaic words, and means, literally, "the field of blood."

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 1 - Verse 20

Verse 20. For it is written, etc. See Ps 69:26. This is the prediction, doubtless, to which Peter refers in Ac 1:16. The intermediate passage in Ac 1:18,19, is probably a parenthesis; the words of Luke, not of Peter. It is not probable that Peter would introduce a narrative like this, with which they were all familiar, in an address to the disciples, The Hebrew in the Psalm is, "Let their habitation (Heb., fold, enclosure for cattle; tower, or palace) be desolate, and let none dwell in their tents." This quotation is not made literally from the Hebrew, nor from the Septuagint. The plural is changed to the singular, and there are some other slight variations. The Hebrew says, "Let no men dwell in their tents." The reference to the tents is omitted in the quotation. The term habitation, in the Psalm, means evidently the dwelling-place of the enemies of the writer of the Psalm. It is an image expressive of their overthrow and defeat by a just God: "Let their families be scattered, and the places where they have dwelt be without an inhabitant, as a reward for their crimes." If the Psalm was originally composed with reference to the Messiah and his sufferings, the expression here was not intended to denote Judas in particular, but one of his foes, who was to meet the just punishment of rejecting, and betraying, and murdering him. The change, therefore, which Peter made from the plural to the singular, and the application to Judas especially, as one of those enemies, accords with the design of the Psalm, and is such a change as the circumstances of the case justified and required. It is an image, therefore, expressive of judgment and desolation coming upon his betrayer�"an image to be literally fulfilled in relation to his habitation, drawn from the desolation when a man is discomfited, overthrown, and his dwelling-place given up to desolation. It is not a little remarkable that this Psalm is repeatedly quoted as referring to the Messiah. Ps 69:9, "The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up," expressly applied to Christ in Joh 2:17. Ps 69:21, "They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." The thing which was done to Jesus on the cross, Mt 27:34. The whole Psalm is expressive of deep sorrow�"of persecution, contempt, weeping, being forsaken, and is throughout applicable to the Messiah; with what is remarkable, not a single expression to be, of necessity, limited to David. It is not easy to ascertain whether the ancient Jews referred this Psalm to the Messiah. A part of the title to the Psalm in the Syriac version is, "It is called a prophecy concerning those things which Christ suffered, and concerning the casting away of the Jews." The prophecy in Ps 69:25 is not to be understood of Judas alone, but of the enemies of the Messiah in general, of which Judas war one. On this principle the application to Judas of the passage by Peter is to be defended.

And, His bishopric let another take. This is quoted from Ps 109:8: "Let his days be few; and let another take his office." This is called "a Psalm of David," and is of the same class as Psalms 6, 22, 25, 38, and 42. This class of Psalms is commonly supposed to have expressed David's feelings in the calamitous times of the persecution by Saul, the rebellion of Absalom, etc. They are all also expressive of the condition of a suffering and persecuted Messiah; and are many of them applied to him in the New Testament. The general principle on which most of them are applicable, is not that David personated or typified the Messiah, which is nowhere affirmed, and which can be true in no intelligible sense; but that he was placed in circumstances similar to the Messiah; encompassed with like enemies; persecuted in the same manner. They are expressive of high rank, office, dignity, and piety, cast down, waylaid, and encompassed with enemies. In this way they express general sentiments as much applicable to the case of the Messiah as to David. They were placed in similar circumstances. The same help was needed. The same expressions would convey their feelings. The same treatment was proper for their enemies. On this principle it was that David deemed his enemy, whoever he was, unworthy of his office; and desired that it should be given to another. In like manner, Judas had rendered himself unworthy of his office, and there was the same propriety that it should be given to another. And as the office had now become vacant by the death of Judas, according to one declaration in the Psalms, so, according to another, it was proper that it should be conferred on some other person. The word rendered "office" in the Psalm, means the care, charge, business, oversight of anything. It is a word applicable to magistrates, whose care it is to see the laws executed; to military men who have charge of an army, or a part of an army. In Job 10:12, it is rendered "thy visitation"�"thy care; in Nu 4:16, "and to the office of Eleazar," etc.; 2 Ki 11:18. In the case of David it refers to those who were entrusted with military or other offices, and who had treacherously perverted them to persecute and oppose him; and thus shown themselves unworthy of the office. The Greek word which is used here�"episkophn�"is taken from the Septuagint, and means the same thing as the Hebrew. It is well rendered in the margin, "office, or charge." It means charge of any kind, or office, without in itself specifying of what kind. It is the concrete of the noun �"episkopov�", commonly translated "bishop," and means his office, charge, or duty, That word designates simply having the oversight of anything; and as applied to the officers of the New Testament, it denotes merely their having charge of the affairs of the church, without specifying the nature or the extent of their jurisdiction. Hence it is often interchanged with presbyter, or elder, and expresses the discharge of the duties of the same office. Ac 20:28, "Take heed (presbyters or elders, Ac 1:17) therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers"�"episkopouv�"bishops." Heb 12:15, "Looking diligently," etc.�"episkopountev Php 1:1, "with the bishops and deacons." "Paul called presbyters, bishops; for they had at that time the same name."�"Theodoret, as quoted by Schleusner. 1 Pe 5:2, "Feed the flock of God, (i.e., you who are elders, or presbyters, 1 Pe 5:1;) taking the oversight thereof,"�"episkopountev. These passages show that the term in the New Testament designates the supervision or care which was exercised over the church, by whomsoever performed, without specifying the nature or extent of the jurisdiction. It is scarcely necessary to add that Peter here did not intend to affirm that Judas sustained any office corresponding to what is now commonly understood by the term "bishop."

{c} "Let his habitation" Ps 69:25

{d} "and, His bishophoric" Ps 109:8

{1} "bishoporic" or, "office"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 1 - Verse 21

Verses 21, 22. Wherefore of these men. Of those who had witnessed the life and works of Christ, and who were therefore qualified to discharge the duties of the office from which Judas fell. Probably Peter refers to the seventy disciples, Lu 10:1,2.

Went in and out. A phrase signifying that he was their constant companion. It expresses, in general, all the actions of the life, Ps 121:8; De 28:19; 31:2.

Beginning from the baptism of John. The words "beginning from," in the original, refer to the Lord Jesus. The meaning may be thus expressed: "During all the time in which the Lord Jesus, beginning (his ministry) at the time when he was baptized by John, went in and out among us, until the time when he was taken up," etc. From those who had during that time been the constant companions of the Lord Jesus must one be taken, who would thus be a witness of his whole ministry.

Must one be ordained. It is fit or proper that one should be ordained. The reason of this was, that Jesus had originally chosen the number twelve for this work, and as one of them had fallen, it was proper that the breach should be filled by some person equally qualified for the office, The reason why it was proper that he should be taken from the seventy disciples was, that they had been particularly distinguished by Jesus himself, and commanded to preach, and endowed with various powers, and had been witnesses of most of his public life, Lu 10:1-16. The word ordained, with us, has a fixed and definite meaning. It denotes to set apart to a sacred office with the proper form and solemnities, commonly by the imposition of hands. But this is not, of necessity, the meaning of this passage. The Greek word usually denoting ordination is not used here. The expression is, literally, must one be, or become�"genesyai�"a witness with us of his resurrection." The expression does not imply that he must be set apart in any particular manner, but simply that one should be designated, or appointed for this specific purpose, to be a witness of the resurrection of Christ.

{e} "of these men" Lu 10:1,2; Joh 15:27

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 1 - Verse 22

Verse 22. No Barnes text on this verse.

{*} "ordained" or, "Appointed"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 1 - Verse 23

Verse 23. And they appointed two. They proposed, or, as we should say, nominated two. Literally, they placed two, or made them to stand forth, as persons do who are candidates for office. These two were probably more distinguished by prudence, wisdom, piety, and age, than the others; and were so nearly equal in qualifications, that they could not determine which was the best fitted for the office.

Joseph called Barsabas, etc. It is not certainly known what the name Barsabas denotes. The Syriac word bar means son, and the word sabas has been translated an oath, rest, quiet, or captivity. Why the name was given to Joseph is not known; but probably it was the family name�"Joseph son, of Sabas. Some have conjectured that this was the same man who, in Ac 4:36, is called Barnabas. But of this there is no proof. Lightfoot supposes that he was the son of Alpheus, and brother of James the Less, and that he was chosen on account Of his relationship to the family of the Lord Jesus.

Was surnamed Justus. Who was called Justus. This is a Latin name, meaning just, and was probably given him on account of his distinguished integrity. It was not uncommon among the Jews for a man to have several names, Mt 10:3.

And Matthias. Nothing is known of the family of this man, or of his character, further than that he was numbered with the apostles, and shared their lot in the toils, and persecutions, and honours of preaching the gospel to mankind.

{a} "Barsabas" Ac 15:22

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 1 - Verse 24

Verse 24. And they prayed. As they could not agree on the individual, they invoked the-direction of God in their choice�"an example which should be followed in every selection of an individual to exercise the duties of the sacred office of the ministry.

Which knowest the hearts of all men. This is often declared to be the peculiar prerogative of God. Jer 17:10, "I, Jehovah, search the heart," etc.; Ps 139:1,23; 1 Ch 28:9.

Yet this attribute is also expressly ascribed to Jesus Christ. Re 2:18,23, "These things saith the Son of God�"I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts." Joh 2:25; 6:64; 16:19.

There are strong reasons for supposing that the apostles on this occasion addressed this prayer to the Lord Jesus Christ.

(1.) The name Lord is the common appellation which they gave to him, Ac 2:36; 7:59,60; 10:36; 1 Co 2:8; Php 2:11; Re 11:8, etc.

(2.) We are told that they worshipped him, or rendered him divine honours after his ascension, Lu 24:52.

(3.) The disciples were accustomed to address him after his crucifixion by the names Lord or God indifferently, Ac 1:6; Joh 20:28; Ac 7:59.

(4.) This was a matter pertaining especially to the church which the Lord Jesus had redeemed, and to his own arrangement in regard to it. He had chosen the apostles; he had given their commission; he had fixed their number; and what is worthy of special remark here, he had been the companion of the very men, and knew their qualifications for their work. If the apostles ever called on the Lord Jesus after his ascension, this was the case in which they would be likely to do it. That it was done is clear from the account of the death of Stephen, Ac 7:59,60. And in this important matter of ordaining a new apostle to be a witness for Jesus Christ, nothing was more natural than that they should address him, though bodily absent, as they would assuredly have done if he were present. And if on this occasion they did actually address Christ, then two things clearly follow. First, that it is proper to render him Divine homage, agreeably to the uniform declarations of the Scriptures. Joh 5:23, "That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father." Heb 1:6, "And let all the angels of God worship him." Php 2:10,11; Re 5:8-14; 1 Th 3:11,12.

Secondly, he must be Divine. To none other but God can religious homage be rendered; and none other can be described as knowing the hearts of all men. The reason why they appealed to him on this occasion as the Searcher of the heart, was doubtless the great importance of the work to which the successor of Judas was to be called. One apostle of fair external character had proved a traitor; and with this fact full before them, they appealed to the Saviour himself, to select one who would be true to him, and not bring dishonour on his cause.

Shew whether, etc. Show which of them.

Thou hast chosen. Not by any public declaration, but which of the two thou hast judged to be best qualified for the work, and hast fitted for it.

{b} "knowest the hearts" Jer 17:10; Re 2:23

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 1 - Verse 25

Verse 25. That he may take part of this ministry. The word rendered �"klhron�"is the same which in the next verse is rendered lots. It properly means a lot, or portion; the portion divided to a man, or assigned to him by casting lots; and also the instrument or means by which the lot is made. The former is its meaning here; the office, or portion of apostolic work which would fall to him by taking the place of Judas.

Ministry and apostleship. This is an instance of the figure of speech hendiadys, when two words are used to express one thing. It means the apostolic ministry. See instances in Ga 1:14, "Let them be for signs, and for seasons," i.e., signs of seasons. Ac 23:6, "Hope and resurrection of the dead," i.e., hope of the resurrection of the dead.

That he might go to his own place. These words by different interpreters have been referred both to Matthias and Judas. Those who refer them to Matthias say that they mean, that Judas fell that Matthias might go to his own place, that is, to a place for which he was fitted, or well qualified. But to this there are many objections.

(1.) The apostolic office could with no propriety be called, in reference to Matthias, his own place, until it was actually conferred on him.

(2.) There is no instance m which the expression, to go to his own place, is applied to a successor in office.

(3.) It is not true that the design or reason why Judas fell was to make way for another. He fell by his crimes; his avarice, his voluntary and enormous wickedness.

(4.) The former part of the sentence contains this sentiment: "Another must be appointed to this office which the death of Judas has made vacant. "If this expression, "that he might go," etc., refers to the successor of Judas, it expresses the same sentiment, but more obscurely.

(5.) The obvious and natural meaning of the phrase is to refer it to Judas. But those who suppose it to refer to Judas differ greatly about its meaning. Some suppose it refers to his own house; that he left the apostolic office to return to his own house; and they appeal to Nu 24:25.

But it is not true that Judas did this; nor is there the least proof that it was his design. Others refer it to the grave, as the place of man, where all must lie; and particularly as an ignominious place where Judas should lie. But there is no example of the word place being used in this sense; nor is there an instance where a man by being buried is said to return to his own, or proper place. Others have supposed that the manner of his death, by hanging, is referred to, as his own or his proper place. But this interpretation is evidently an unnatural and forced one. The word place cannot be applied to an act of self-murder. It denotes habitation, abode, situation in which to remain; not an act. These are the only interpretations which can be suggested of the passage, except the common and obvious one of referring it to the future abode of Judas in the world of woe. This might be said to be his own, as it was adapted to him; as he had prepared himself for it; and as it was proper that he who had betrayed his Lord should remain there. This interpretation may be defended by the following considerations:

(1.) It is the obvious and natural meaning of the words. It commends itself by its simplicity, and its evident connexion with the context. It has in all ages been the common interpretation; nor has any other been adopted unless there was a theory to be defended about future punishment. Unless men had previously made up their minds not to believe in future punishment, no one would ever have thought of any other interpretation. This fact alone throws strong light on the meaning of the passage.

(2.) It accords with the crimes of Judas, and with all that we know of him. The future doom of Judas was not unknown to the apostles. Jesus Christ had expressly declared this: "it had been good for that man if he had not been born;" a declaration which could not be true if, after any limited period of suffering, he were at last admitted to eternal happiness. See Mt 26:24, and See Barnes "Mt 26:24.

This declaration was made in the presence of the eleven apostles, at the institution of the Lord's Supper, at a time when their attention was absorbed in deep interest in what Christ said; and it was therefore a declaration which they would not be likely to forget. As they knew the fate of Judas, nothing was more natural for them than to speak of it familiarly as a thing which had actually occurred when he betrayed his Lord, hung himself, and went to his own place.

(3.) The expression, to "go to his own place," is one which is used by the ancient writers to denote going to the eternal destiny. Thus the Jewish tract, Baal Turim, on Nu 24:25, says, "Balaam went to his own place, i.e., to Gehenna," to hell. Thus the Targum, or Chaldee Paraphrase on Ec 6:6, says, "Although the days of a man's life were two thousand years, and he did not study the law, and do justice, in the day of his death his soul shall descend to hell, to the one place where all sinners go." Thus Ignatius in the Epistle to the Magnesians says, "Because all things have an end, the two things death and life shall lie down together, and each one shall go to his own place." The phrase his own place, means the place or abode which is fitted for him, which is his appropriate home. Judas was not in a place which befitted his character when he was an apostle; he was not in such a place in the church; he would not be in heaven. Hell was the only place which was fitted to the man of avarice and of treason. And if this be the true interpretation of this passage, then it follows,

(1,) that there will be such a thing as future, eternal punishment. One such man there certainly is in hell, and ever will be. If there is one there, for the same reason there may be others. All objections to the doctrine are removed by this single fact; and it cannot be true that all men will be saved.

(2.) Each individual in eternity will find his own proper place. Hell is not an arbitrary appointment. Every man will go to the place for which his character is fitted. The hypocrite is not fitted for heaven. The man of pride, and avarice, and pollution, and falsehood, is not fitted for heaven. The place adapted to such men is hell; and the design of the judgment will be to assign to each individual his proper abode in the eternal world.

(3.) The design of the judgment of the great day will be to assign to all the inhabitants of this world their proper place. It would not be fit that the holy and pure should dwell for ever in the same place with the unholy and impure; and the Lord Jesus will come to assign to each his appropriate eternal habitation.

(4.) The sinner will have no cause of complaint. If he is assigned to his proper place, he cannot complain. If he is unfit for heaven, he cannot complain that he is excluded. And if his character and feelings are such as make it proper that he should find his eternal abode among the enemies of God, then he must expect that a God of justice and equity will assign him such a doom. But

(5) this will not alleviate his pain; it will deepen his woe. He will have the eternal consciousness that that, and that only, is his place�"the doom for which he is fitted. The prison is no less dreadful because a man is conscious that he deserves it. The gallows is not the less terrible, because the man knows that he deserves to die. And the eternal consciousness of the sinner that he is unfit for heaven; that there is not a solitary soul there with whom he could have sympathy or friendship; that he is fit for hell, and hell only, will be an ingredient of eternal bitterness in the cup of woe that awaits him. Let not the sinner, then, hope to escape; for God will assuredly appoint his residence in that world to which his character here is adapted.

The character and end of Judas is one of the most important and instructive in history. It teaches us,

(1.) that Christ may employ wicked men for important purposes in his kingdom. See Barnes "Ac 1:17".

He does no violence to their freedom, suffers them to act as they please, but brings important ends out of their conduct. One of the most conclusive arguments for the pure character of Jesus Christ is drawn from the silent testimony of Judas.

(2.) The character of Judas was eminently base and wicked. He was influenced by one of the worst human passions; and yet he cloaked it from all the apostles. It was remarkable that any man should have thought of making money in such a band of men; but avarice will show itself everywhere.

(3.) We see the effects of avarice in the church. It led to the betraying of Jesus Christ, and to his death; and it has often betrayed the cause of pure religion since. There is no single human passion that has done so much evil in the church of God as this. It may be consistent with external decency and order; it is that on which the world acts, and which it approves; and it may therefore be indulged without disgrace, while open and acknowledged vices would expose their possessors to shame and ruin. And yet it paralyzes and betrays religion probably more than any single propensity, of man.

(4.) The character of an avaricious man in the church will be developed. Opportunities will occur when it will be seen and known by what principle the man is influenced. So it was with Achan, (Jos 7:21;) so it was with Judas; and so it will be with all. Occasions will occur which will test the character, and show what manner of spirit a man is of. Every appeal to a man's benevolence, every call upon his charity, shows what spirit influences him, and whether he is actuated by the love of gold, or by the love of Jesus Christ and his cause.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 1 - Verse 26

Verse 26. And they gave forth their lots. Some have supposed that this means they voted. But to this interpretation there are insuperable objections.

(1.) The word lots�"klhrouv�"is not used to express votes, or suffrage.

(2.) The expression; "the lot fell upon," is not consistent with the notion of voting. It is commonly expressive of casting lots.

(3.) Casting lots was common among the Jews on important and difficult occasions, and it was natural that the apostles should resort to it in this. Thus David divided the priests by lot, 1 Ch 24:5. The land of Canaan was divided by lot, Nu 26:55; Jos 15:1-17:18. Jonathan, son of Saul, was detected as having violated his father's command, and as bringing calamity on the Israelites, by lot, 1 Sa 14:41,42. Achan was detected by lot, Jos 7:16-18. In these cases the use of the lot was regarded as a solemn appeal to God, for his direct interference in cases which they could not themselves decide. Pr 16:33, "The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord." The choice of an apostle was an event of the same kind, and was regarded as a solemn appeal to God for his direction and guidance in a case which the apostles could not determine. The manner in which this was done is not certainly known. The common mode of casting lots, was to write the names of the persons on pieces of stone, wood, etc., and put them in one urn; and the name of the office, portion, etc., on others. These were then placed in an urn with other pieces of stone, etc., which were blank. The names were then drawn at random, and also the other pieces, and this determined the case. The casting of a lot is determined by laws of nature, as regularly as anything else. There is properly no chance in it. We do not know how a die may turn up; but this does not imply that it will turn up without any regard to rule, or at haphazard. We cannot trace the influences which may determine either this or that side to come up; but still it is done by regular and proper laws, and according to the circumstances of position, force, etc., in which it is cast. Still although it does not imply any special or miraculous interposition of Providence; though it may not be absolutely wrong, in cases which cannot otherwise be determined, to use the lot, yet it does not follow that it is proper often to make this appeal. Almost all cases of doubt can be determined more satisfactorily in some other way than by the lot. The habit of appealing to it engenders the love of hazards and of games; leads to heart- burnings, to jealousies, to envy, to strife, and to dishonesty. Still less does the example of the apostles authorize games of hazard, or lotteries, which are positively evil, and attended with ruinous consequences, apart from any inquiry about the lawfulness of the lot. They either originate in, or promote, covetousness, neglect of regular industry, envy, jealousy, disappointment, dissipation, bankruptcy, falsehood, and despair. What is gained by one is lost by another, and both the gain and the loss promote some of the worst passions of man: boasting, triumph, self-confidence, indolence, dissipation, on the one hand; and envy, disappointment, sullenness, desire of revenge, remorse, and ruin, on the other. God intended that man should live by sober toil. All departures from this great law of our social existence lead to ruin.

Their lots. The lots which were to decide their case. They are called, theirs, because they were to determine which of them should be called to the apostolic office.

The lot fell. This is an expression applicable to casting lots, not to voting.

He was numbered. By the casting of the lot�"sugkateqhfisyh�". This word is from �"qhfov�"a calculus, or pebble, by which votes were given, or lots were cast. It means, that by the result of the lot he was reckoned as an apostle. Nothing further is related of Matthias in the New Testament. Where he laboured, and when and where he died, is unknown; nor is there any tradition on which reliance is to be placed. The election of Matthias throws some light on the organization of the church.

(1.) He was chosen to fill the place vacated by Judas, and, for a specific purpose, to be a witness of the resurrection of Christ. There is no mention of any other design. It was not to ordain men exclusively, or to rule over the churches, but to be a witness to an important fact.

(2.) There is no intimation here that it was designed that there should be successors to the apostles in the peculiar duties of the apostolic office. The election was for a definite object, and was therefore temporary. It was to fill up the number originally appointed by Christ. When the purpose for which he was appointed was accomplished, the peculiar part of the apostolic work ceased, of course.

(3.) There could be no succession in our times to the peculiar apostolic office. They were to be witnesses of the work of Christ. For this they were sent forth. And when the desired effect resulting from such a witnessing was accomplished, the office itself would cease. Hence there is no record that after this the church even pretended to appoint successors to the apostles to discharge their peculiar work. And hence no minister of the gospel can now pretend to be their successors in the peculiar and original design of the appointment of the apostles.

(4.) The only other apostle mentioned in the New Testament is the apostle Paul, not appointed as the successor of the others, not with any peculiar design except to be an apostle to the Gentiles, as the others were to the Jews, and appointed for the same end, to testify that Jesus Christ was alive, and that he had seen him after he rose, 1 Co 15:8; 9:1; Ac 22:8,9,14,15; 9:15; 26:17,18.

The ministers of religion, therefore, are successors of the apostles, not in their peculiar office as witnesses, but as preachers of the word, and as appointed to establish, to organize, and to edify and rule the churches. The peculiar Work of the apostleship ceased with their death. The ordinary work of the ministry, which they held in common with all others who preach the gospel, will continue to the end of time.


THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 1

Verse 1. And when the day of Pentecost. The word Pentecost is a Greek word, signifying the fiftieth part of a thing; or the fiftieth in order. Among the Jews it was applied to one of their three great feasts which began on the fiftieth day after the Passover. This feast was reckoned from the sixteenth day of the month ABIB, or April, or the second day of the Passover. The paschal lamb was slain on the fourteenth of the month at even, (Le 23:5); on the fifteenth of the month was a holy convocation�"the proper beginning of the feast; on the sixteenth was the offering of the first-fruits of harvest, and from that day they were to reckon seven weeks, i.e., forty-nine days to the feast called the feast of Pentecost, so that it occurred fifty days after the first day of the feast of the Passover. This feast was also called the feast of weeks, from the circumstance that it followed a succession of weeks, Ex 34:22; Nu 28:26; De 16:10.

It was also a harvest festival, and was accordingly called the feast of harvest. And it was for this reason that two loaves made of new meal were offered on this occasion as first-fruits, Le 23:17,20 Nu 28:27-31.

Was fully come. When the day had arrived. The word means here simply, had come. Comp. Mr 1:15; Lu 1:57. This fact is mentioned, that the time of the Pentecost had come, or fully arrived, to account for what is related afterwards, that there were so many strangers and foreigners present. The promised influences of the Spirit were withheld until the greatest possible numbers of Jews should be present at Jerusalem at the same time, and thus an opportunity be afforded of preaching the gospel to vast multitudes in the very place where the Lord Jesus was crucified, and also an opportunity be afforded of sending the gospel by them into distant parts of the earth.

They were all. Probably not only the apostles, but also the one hundred and twenty mentioned in Ac 1:15.

With one accord. See Ac 1:14. It is probable they had continued together until this time, and given themselves entirely to the business of devotion.

In one place. Where this was cannot be known, Commentators have been much divided in their conjectures about it. Some have supposed it was in the upper room mentioned, (Ac 1:13;) others that it was a room in the temple; others that it was in a synagogue; others that it was in the promiscuous multitude that assembled for devotion in the courts of the temple. See Ac 2:2. It has by many been supposed that this took place on the first day of the week, that is, on the Christian Sabbath. But there is a difficulty in establishing this. There was probably a difference among the Jews themselves on this subject. The law said that they should reckon seven Sabbaths, that is, seven weeks, "from the morrow after the Sabbath," Le 23:15. By this Sabbath the Pharisees understood the second day of the Passover, on whatever day of the week it occurred, which was kept as a holy assembly, and might be called a Sabbath. But the Caraite Jews, or those who insisted on a literal interpretation of the Scriptures, maintained that by the Sabbath here was meant the usual Sabbath, the seventh day of the week. Consequently with them the day of Pentecost always occurred on the first day of the week; and if the apostles fell in with their views, the day was fully come on what is now the Christian Sabbath. But if the views of the Pharisees were followed, and the Lord Jesus had with them kept the Passover on Thursday, as many have supposed, then the day of Pentecost would have occurred on the Jewish Sabbath, that is, on Saturday.�"Kuinoel; Lightfoot. It is impossible to determine the truth on this subject. Nor is it of much importance. The day of Pentecost was kept by the Jews also as a festival to commemorate the giving of the law on Mount Sinai.

{a} "the day of Pentecost" Le 23:15

{b} "they were all in one accord" Ac 1:14

{*} "accord" or, "consent"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 2

Verse 2. And suddenly. It burst upon them at once. Though they were waiting for the descent of the Spirit, yet it is not probable that they expected it in this manner. As this was an important event, and one on which the welfare of the church depended, it was proper that the gift of the Holy Spirit should take place in some striking and sensible manner, so as to convince their own minds that the promise was fulfilled, and so as deeply to impress others with the greatness and importance of the event.

There came a sound. Hcov. This word is applied to any noise or report. Heb 12:19, "The sound of a trumpet." Lu 4:37, "The fame of him," etc. Comp. Mr 1:28.

From heaven. Appearing to rush down from the sky. It was fitted, therefore, to attract their attention no less from the direction from which it came, than on account of its suddenness and violence. Tempests blow, commonly, horizontally. This appeared to come from above; and this is all that is meant by the expression, "from heaven."

As of a rushing mighty wind. Literally, "as of a violent wind or gale," borne along�"feromenhv�", sweeping along like a tempest. Such a wind is sometimes borne along so violently, and with such a noise, as to make it difficult even to hear the thunder in the gale. Such appears to have been the sound of this remarkable phenomenon. It does not appear that there was any wind; all might have been still; but the sudden sound was like such a sweeping tempest. It may be remarked, however, that the wind in the sacred Scriptures is often put as an emblem of a Divine influence. It is invisible, yet mighty; and thus represents the agency of the Holy Spirit. The same word in Hebrew, ( Hebrew, ) and in Greek, pneuma is used to denote both. The mighty power of God may be denoted also by the violence of a mighty tempest, 1 Ki 19:11; Ps 29; 104:3; 18:10.

And thus Jesus by his breath indicated to the apostles the conferring of the Holy Ghost, Joh 20:22. In this place the sound as of a gale was emblematic of the mighty power of the Spirit, and of the great effects which his coming would accomplish among men.

And it filled. Not the wind filled, but the sound. This is evident,

(1.) because there is no affirmation that there was any wind.

(2.) The grammatical structure of the sentence will admit no other construction. The word "filled" has no nominative case but "the sound." And suddenly there was a sound as of a wind, and (the sound) filled the house. In the Greek, the word "wind" is in the genitive or possessive case. It may be remarked here, that this miracle was really far more striking than the common supposition makes it to have been. A tempest might have been terrific. A mighty wind might have alarmed them. But there would have been nothing unusual or remarkable in it. Such things often occurred; and the thoughts would have been directed of course to the storm as an ordinary, though perhaps alarming occurrence. But when all was still�"when there was no storm, no wind, no rain, no thunder, such a rushing sound must have arrested their attention; and directed all minds to so unusual and unaccountable an occurrence.

All the house. Some have supposed that this was a room in or near the temple. But as the temple is not expressly mentioned, this is improbable. it was probably the private dwelling mentioned in Ac 1:12. If it be said that such a dwelling could not contain so large a multitude as soon assembled, it may be replied that their houses had large central courts, See Barnes "Mt 9:2, and that it is not affirmed that the transaction recorded in this chapter occurred in the room which they occupied. It is probable that it took place in the court and around the house.

{c} "it filled all the house" Ac 4:31

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 3

Verse 3. And there appeared unto them. There were seen by them, or they saw. They were first seen by them in the room before they rested on the heads of the disciples. Perhaps the fire appeared at first as scintillations or coruscations, until it became fixed on their heads.

Tongues. glwssai. The word tongue occurs often in the Scriptures to denote the member which is the instrument of taste and speech, and also to denote language or speech itself. It is also used, as with us, to denote that which in shape resembles the tongue. Thus Jos 7:21,24, (in Hebrew,) "a tongue of gold," i.e., a wedge of gold; Jos 10:5; 18:19; Isa 11:15, "The tongue of the sea," i.e., a bay or gulf. Thus also we say a tongue of land. The phrase "tongue of fire" occurs once, and once only, in the Old Testament: Isa 5:24, "Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble (Heb., tongue of fire,) and the flame consumeth," etc. In this place the name tongue is given from the resemblance of a pointed flame to the human tongue. Anything long, narrow, and tending to a point, is thus in the Hebrew called a tongue. The word here means, therefore, slender and pointed appearances of flame; perhaps at first moving irregularly around the room.

Cloven. Divided, separated. diamerizomenai, from the verb to divide, or distribute into parts. Mt 27:35, "They parted his garments." Lu 22:17, "Take this, (the cup,) and divide it among yourselves." Probably the common opinion is that these tongues or flames were, each one of them, split, or forked, or cloven. But this is not the sense of the expression. It means that they were separated or divided one from another; not one great flame, but broken up, or cloven into many parts; and probably moving without order in the room. In the Syriac it is, "And there appeared unto them tongues which divided themselves, like fire, and sat upon each of them." The old Ethiopic version reads it, "And fire, as it were, appeared to them, and sat on them."

And it sat upon each of them. Or rested, in the form of a lambent or gentle flame, upon the head of each one. This evinced that the prodigy was directed to them, and was a very significant emblem of the promised descent of the Holy Spirit. After the rushing sound, and the appearance of the flames, they could not doubt that here was some remarkable interposition of God. The appearance of fire, or flame, has always been regarded as a most striking emblem of the Divinity. Thus, (Ex 3:2,3) God is said to have manifested himself to Moses in a bush which was burning, yet not consumed. Thus, (Ex 19:16-20,) God descended on Mount Sinai in the midst of thunders, and lightnings, and smoke, and fire�"striking emblems of his presence and power. See also Ge 15:17. Thus, (De 4:24,) God is said to be "a consuming fire." Comp. Heb 12:29; Eze 1:4; Ps 18:12-14.

The classic reader will also instantly recall the beautiful description in Virgil.�"AEniad, b. ii. 680�"691. Other instances of a similar prodigy are also recorded in profane writers.�"Pliny, H. N. 2, 37; Livy, i. 39. These appearances to the apostles were emblematic, doubtless,

(1.) of the promised Holy Spirit, as a Spirit of purity and of power. The prediction of John the Baptist, "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire," (Mt 3:11,) would probably be recalled at once to their memory.

(2.) The peculiar appearance, that of tongues, was an emblem of the diversity of languages which they were about to be able to utter. Any form of fire would have denoted the presence and power of God; but a form was adopted expressive of the case. Thus, any appearance at the baptism of Jesus might have denoted the presence and approbation of God; but the form chosen was that of a dove descending; expressive of the mild and gentle virtues with which he was to be imbued. So in Eze 1:4, any form of flame might have expressed the presence of God; but the appearance actually was emblematical of his Providence. In the same way the appearance here expressed their peculiar endowments for entering on their great work�"the ability to speak powerfully with new tongues.

{*} "cloven" or, "divided"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 4

Verse 4. Were all filled with the Holy Ghost. Were entirely under his sacred influence and power. See Barnes "Lu 1:41,67.

To be filled with anything is a phrase denoting that all the faculties are pervaded by it, engaged in it, or under its influence. Ac 3:10, "Were filled with wonder and amazement;" Ac 5:17, "Filled with indignation;" Ac 13:45, "Filled with envy;" Ac 13:52, "Filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost."

Began to speak with other tongues. In other languages than their native tongue. The languages which they spoke are specified in Ac 2:9-11.

As the Spirit gave them utterance. As the Spirit gave them power to speak. This language implies plainly that they were now endued with a faculty of speaking languages which they had not before learned. Their native tongue was that of Galilee, a somewhat barbarous dialect of the common language used in Judea, the Syro-Chaldaic. It is possible that some of them might have been partially acquainted with the Greek and Latin, as both of them were spoken among the Jews to some extent; but there is not the slightest evidence that they were acquainted with the languages of the different nations afterwards specified. Various attempts have been made to account for this remarkable phenomenon, without supposing it to be a miracle. But the natural and obvious meaning of the passage is, that they were endowed by the miraculous power of the Holy Ghost with ability to speak foreign languages, and languages to them before unknown. It does not appear that each one had the power of speaking all the languages which are specified, (Ac 2:9-11,) but that this ability was among them, and that together they could speak these languages; probably some one, and some another. The following remarks may perhaps throw some light on this remarkable occurrence:

(1.) This ability was predicted in the Old Testament, (Isa 28:11), "With another tongue will he speak to this people." Comp. 1 Co 14:21, where this passage is expressly applied to the power of speaking foreign languages under the gospel.

(2.) It was predicted by the Lord Jesus that they should have this power. Mr 16:17, "These signs shall follow them that believe�"they shall speak with new tongues."

(3.) The ability to do it existed extensively and long in the church. 1 Co 12:10,11, "To another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit;" 1 Co 12:28, "God hath set in the church�" diversities of tongues;" 1 Co 12:30; 14:2,4,5,6,9,13,14,18,19,22,23; 1 Co 14:27,39. From this it appears that the power was well known in the church, and was not confined to the apostles. This also may show that, in the case in the Acts, the power was conferred on other members of the church as well as the apostles.

(4.) It was very important that they should be endowed with this power in their great work. They were going forth to preach to all nations; and though the Greek and Roman tongues were extensively spoken, yet their use was not universal; nor is it known that the apostles were skilled in those languages. To preach to all nations, it was indispensable that they should be able to understand their language. And it was necessary that they should be endowed with ability to speak them without the slow process of being compelled to learn them.

(5.) One design was to establish the gospel by means of miracles. Yet no miracle could be more striking than the power of conveying their sentiments at once into all the languages of the earth. When it is remembered what a slow and toilsome process it is to learn a foreign tongue, this would be regarded by the heathen as one of the most striking miracles which were ever wrought in the establishment of the Christian faith, 1 Co 14:22,24,25.

(6.) The reality and certainty of this miracle is strongly attested by the early triumphs of the gospel. That the gospel was early spread over all the world, and that, too, by the apostles of Jesus Christ, by men of Galilee, is the clear testimony of all history. They preached it in Arabia, Greece, Syria, Asia, Persia, Africa, and Rome. Yet how could this have been effected without a miraculous power of speaking the languages used in all those places? Now, it requires the toil of many years to speak in foreign languages; and the recorded success of the gospel is one of the most striking attestations to the fact of the miracle that could be conceived.

(7.) The corruption of language was one of the most decided effects of sin, of pride and ambition, and the source of endless embarrassments and difficulties, Ge 11. It is not to be regarded as wonderful if one of the effects of the plan of recovering men should be to show the power of God over all evil; and thus to furnish striking evidence that the gospel could meet all the crimes and calamities of men. And we may add,

(8.) that from this we see the necessity now of training men who are to be the missionaries to other lands. The gift of miracles is withdrawn. The apostles, by that miracle, simply were empowered to speak other languages. That power must still be had if the gospel is to be preached. But it is now to be obtained, not by miracle, but by slow and careful study and toil. If possessed, men must be taught it. They must labour for it. And as the church is bound (Mt 28:19) to send the gospel to all nations, so it is bound to provide that the teachers who shall be sent forth shall be qualified for their work. Hence one of the reasons of the importance of training men for the holy ministry.

{a} "were all filled" Ac 1:5

{b} "began to speak with" Mr 16:17; Ac 10:46

{+} "tongues" or, "in other languages" 378

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 5

Verse 5. There were dwelling at Jerusalem. The word rendered katoikountev properly means to have a fixed and permanent habitation, in distinction from another word, paroikountev, which means to have a temporary and transient residence in a place. But it is not always confined, to this signification; and it is not improbable that many wealthy foreign Jews had a permanent residence in Jerusalem for the convenience of being near the temple. This was the more probable, as about that time the Messiah was expected to appear, Mt 2.

Jews. Jews by birth; of Jewish descent and religion.

Devout men. andrev eulabeiv. Literally, men of cautious and circumspect lives, who lived in a prudent manner. The term is applied to men who were cautious about offending God; who were careful to observe his commandments. It hence is a general expression to denote pious or religious men. Ac 8:2, "And devout men carried Stephen to his burial." Lu 2:25, "And the same man (Simeon) was just and devout." The word devout means, "yielding a solemn and reverential attention to God in religious exercises, particularly in prayer, pious, sincere, solemn," (Webster,) and very well expresses the force of the original.

Out of every nation under heaven. A general expression, meaning from all parts of the earth. The countries from which they came are more particularly specified in Ac 2:9-11. The Jews at that time were scattered into almost all nations, and in all places had synagogues. See Barnes "Joh 7:35".

Still they would naturally desire to be present as often as possible at the great feasts of the nation in Jerusalem. Many would seek a residence there for the convenience of being present at the religious solemnities. Many who came up to the feast of the Passover would remain to the feast of the Pentecost. And the consequence was, that on such occasions the city would be full of strangers. We are told, that when Titus besieged Jerusalem at about the feast of the Passover, there were no less than three millions of people in the city, and this great multitude greatly deepened the calamities arising from the siege. Josephus also mentions an instance where great multitudes of Jews from other nations were present at the feast of Pentecost.�"Jewish Wars, b. ii. chap. iii. & 1.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 6

Verse 6. When this was noised abroad. When the rumour of this remarkable transaction was spread, as it naturally would be without delay.

Were confounded. Sunecuyh. Were violently moved and agitated; were amazed, and astonished at the remarkable occurrence.

Every man heard them speak, etc. Though the multitude spoke different tongues, yet they now heard Galilaeans use the language which they had learned in foreign nations.

His own language. His own dialect�"dialektw. His own idiom, whether it was a foreign language, or whether it was a modification of the Hebrew. The word may mean either; but it is probable that the foreign Jews would greatly modify the Hebrew, or conform almost entirely to the language spoken in the country where they lived. We may remark here, that this effect on the first descent of the Holy Ghost was not peculiar to that time. A work of grace on the hearts of men in a revival of religion will always be noised abroad. A multitude will come together, and God often, as he did here, makes use of this motive to bring them under the influence of religion. Curiosity was the motive here, and it was the occasion of their being brought under the influence of the truth, and of the conversion. In thousands of cases, this has occurred since. The effect of what they saw was to confound them. They made no complaint at first of the irregularity of what was done, but were all amazed and overwhelmed. So the effect of a revival of religion is often to convince the multitude that it is indeed a work of the Holy One; to amaze them by the display of his power; and to silence opposition and cavil by the manifest presence and the power of God. A few afterwards began to cavil, (Ac 2:13,) as some will always do in a revival; but the mass were convinced, as will be the case always, that this was a mighty display of the power of God.

{1} "Now when" "When this voice was made"

{*} "abroad" "The report was spread"

{2} "confounded" "troubled in mind"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 7

Verse 7. Galilaeans. Inhabitants of Galilee. It was remarkable that they should speak in this manner, because

(1) they were proverbially ignorant, rude, and uncivilized, Joh 1:46. Hence the term Galilaeans was used as an expression of the deepest reproach and contempt, Mr 14:70; Joh 7:52.

(2.) Their dialect was proverbially barbarous and corrupt, Mr 14:70; Mt 26:73. They were regarded as an outlandish people, unacquainted with other nations and languages, and hence the amazement that they could address them in the refined language of other people. Their native ignorance was the occasion of making the miracle more striking. The native weakness and inability of Christian ministers makes the grace and glory of God more remarkable in the success of the gospel. "We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us," 2 Co 4:7. The success which God often grants to those who are of slender endowments and of little learning, though blessed with a humble and pious heart, is often amazing to the men of the world. "God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise," 1 Co 1:27. This should teach us that no talent or attainment is too humble to be employed for mighty purposes, in its proper sphere, in the kingdom of Christ, and that pious effort may accomplish much, may awe and amaze the world, and then burn in heaven with increasing lustre for ever; while pride, and learning, and talent may blaze uselessly among men, or kindle up the worst passions of our nature, and then be extinguished in eternal night.

{a} "Galilaeans" Ac 1:11

Verse 8. Wherein we were born. That is, as we say, in our native language; that which is spoken where we were born.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 9

Verse 9. Parthians, etc. To show the surprising extent and power of this miracle, Luke enumerates the different nations that were represented then at Jerusalem. In this way the number of languages which the apostles spoke, and the extent of the miracle, can be ascertained. The enumeration of these nations begins at the east, and proceeds to the west. Parthians mean those Jews, or proselytes, who dwelt in Parthi. This country was a part of Persia, and was situated between the Persian Gulf and the Tigris on the west, and the river Indus on the east. To the south it was bounded by the desert of Caramania, and it had Media on the north. Their empire lasted about four hundred years, and they were much distinguished for their manner of fighting. They usually fought on horseback; and when appearing to retreat, discharged their arrows with great execution behind them. They were a part of the vast Scythian horde of Asia, and disputed the empire of the east with the Romans. The language spoken there was that of Persia; and, in ancient writers, Parthis and Persia often mean the same country.

Medes. Inhabitants of Media. This country was situated north of Parthis, and south of the Caspian Sea. It was about the size of Spain, and was one of the richest parts of Asia. In the Scriptures it is called Madai, Ge 10:2. The Medes are often mentioned, frequently in connexion with the Persians, with whom they were often connected under the same government, 2 Ki 17:6; 18:11; Es 1:3,14,18,19; Jer 25:25; Da 5:28; 6:8; 8:20; 9:1.

The language spoken here was also that of Persia. In his whole region many Jews remained after the Babylonish captivity, who chose not to return with their brethren to the land of their fathers. From the descendants of these probably were those who were now assembled from those places at Jerusalem.

Elamites. Elam is often mentioned in the Old Testament. The nation was descended from Elam, the son of Shem, Ge 10:22. It is mentioned as being in alliance with Axnraphel, the king of Shinar, and Arioch, king of Ellasar, and Tidal, king of nations, Ge 14:1. Of these nations in alliance, Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, was the chief, Ge 14:4. See also Ezr 2:7; 8:7; Ne 7:12,34; Isa 11:11; 21:2; 22:6; etc. They are mentioned as a part of the Persian empire, and Daniel is said to have resided "at Shushan, which is in the province of Elam," Da 8:2. The Greeks and Romans gave to this country the name of Elymais. It is now called Kusistan. It was bounded by Persia on the east, by Media on the north, by Babylonia on the west, and by the Persian Gulf on the south. The Elamites were a warlike people, and celebrated for the use of the bow, Isa 22:6; Jer 49:35. The language of this people was of course the Persian. Its capital Shusan, called by the Greeks Susa, was much celebrated. It is said to have been fifteen miles in circumference; and was adorned with the celebrated palace of Ahasuerus. The inhabitants still pretend to show there the tomb of the prophet Daniel.

Mesopotamia. This name, which is Greek, signifies between the rivers; that is, the region lying between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris. In Hebrew it was called Aram-Naharaim; that is, Aram, or Syria of tho two rivers. It was also called Padam Aram, the plain of Syria. In this region were situated some important places mentioned in the Bible:�"Ur of the Chaldees the birthplace of Abraham, Ge 11:27,28; Haran where Terah stopped on his journey and died, Ge 11:31,32; Charchemish, 2 Ch 35:20; Hena, 2 Ki 19:13; Sepharvaim, 2 Ki 17:24. This region, known as Mesopotamia, extended between the two rivers from their sources to Babylon on the south. It had on the north, Armenia; on the west, Syria; on the east, Persia; and on the south, Babylonia. It was an extensive, level, and fertile country. The language spoken here was probably the Syriac, with perhaps a mixture of the Chaldee.

In Judea. This expression has greatly perplexed commentators. It has been thought difficult to see why Judaea should be mentioned, as if it were a matter of surprise that they could speak in this language. Some have supposed an error in the manuscripts, and have proposed to read Armenia, or India, or Lydia, or Idumea, etc. But all this has been without any authority. Others have supposed that the language of Galilee was so different from that of the other parts of Judea, as to render it remarkable that they could speak that dialect. But this is an idle supposition. This is one of the many instances in which commentators have perplexed themselves to very little purpose. Luke recorded this as any other historian would have done. In running over the languages which they spoke, he enumerated this as a matter of course; not that it was remarkable simply that they should speak the language of Judea, but that they should speak so many, meaning about the same by it as if he had said they spoke every language in the world. Just as if a similar miracle were to occur at this time among an assembly of native Englishmen and foreigners. In describing it, nothing would be more natural than to say, they spoke French, and German, and Spanish, and English, and Italian, etc. In this there would be nothing remarkable, except that they spoke so many languages.

Cappadocia. This was a region of Asia Minor, and was bounded on the east by Armenia, on the north by Pontus and the Euxine Sea, west by Lycaonia, and south by Cilicia. The language which was spoken here is not certainly known. It was probably, however, a mixed dialect made up of Greek and Syriac, perhaps the same as their neighbours, the Lycaonians, Ac 14:11. This place was formerly celebrated for iniquity, and is mentioned in Greek writers as one of the three eminently wicked places, whose name began with "C". The others were Crete (Comp. Tit 1:12) and Cilicia. After its conversion to the Christian religion, however, it produced many eminent men, among whom were Gregory Nyssen, and Basil the Great. It was one of the places to which Peter directed an epistle, 1 Pe 1:1.

In Pontus. This was another province of Asia Minor, and was situated north of Cappadocia, and was bounded west by Paphlagonia. Pontus and Cappadocia under the Romans constituted one province. This was one of the places to which the apostle Peter directed his epistle, 1 Pe 1:1. This was the birthplace of Aquila, one of the companions of Paul, Ac 18:2,18,26; Ro 16:3; 1 Co 16:19; 2 Ti 4:19.

And Asia. Pontus, and Cappadocia, etc., were parts of Asia. But the word Asia is doubtless used here to denote the regions or provinces west of these, which are not particularly enumerated. Thus it is used, Ac 6:9; 16:6; 20:16.

The capital of this region was Ephesus. See also 1 Pe 1:1. This region was frequently called Ionia, and was afterwards the seat of the seven churches in Asia, Re 1:4.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 10

Verse 10. Phrygia, and Pamphylia. These were also two provinces of Asia Minor. Phrygia was surrounded by Galatia, Cappadocia, and Pisidia. Pamphylia was on the Mediterranean, and was bounded north by Pisidia. The language of all these places was doubtless the Greek, more or less pure.

In Egypt. This was that extensive country, well known, on the south of the Mediterranean, watered by the Nile. It extends 600 miles from north to south, and from 100 to 120 east and west. The language used there was the Coptic. At present the Arabic is spoken. Vast numbers of Jews dwelt in Egypt; and many from that country would be present at the great feasts at Jerusalem. In this country the first translation of the Old Testament was made, which is now called the Septuagint.

In the parts of Libya. Libya is a general name for Africa. It properly denoted the region which was near to Egypt; but the Greeks gave the name to all Africa.

About Cyrene. This was a region about 500 miles west of Alexandria in Egypt. It was also called Pentapolis, because there were in it five celebrated cities. This country now belongs to Tripoli. Great numbers of Jews resided here. A Jew of this place, Simon by name, was compelled to bear Our Saviour's cross after him to the place of crucifixion, Mt 27:32; Lu 23:26. Some of the Cyrenians are mentioned among the earliest Christians, Ac 11:20; 13:1. The language which they spoke is not certainly known.

Strangers of Rome. This literally means, "Romans dwelling, or tarrying;" i.e., at Jerusalem. It may mean either that they were permanently fixed, or only tarrying at Jerusalem�"oi epidhmountev Pwmaioi�". They were doubtless Jews who had taken up their residence in Italy, and had come to Jerusalem to attend the great feasts. The language which they spoke was the Latin. Great numbers of Jews were at that time dwelling at Rome. Josephus says, that there were eight synagogues there. The Jews are often mentioned by the Roman writers. There was a Jewish colony across the Tiber from Rome. When Judea was conquered, about sixty years before Christ, vast numbers of Jews were taken captive and carried to Rome. But they had much difficulty in managing them as slaves. They pertinaciously adhered to their religion, observed the Sabbath, and refused to join in the idolatrous rites of the Romans. Hence they were freed, and lived by themselves across the Tiber.

Jews. Native born Jews, or descendants of Jewish families.

Proselytes. Those who had been converted to the Jewish religion from among the Gentiles. The great zeal of the Jews to make proselytes is mentioned by our Saviour as one of the peculiar characteristics of the Pharisees, Mt 23:15. Some have supposed that the expression, Jews and proselytes, refers to the Romans only. But it is more probable that reference is made to all those that are mentioned. It has the appearance of a hurried enumeration; and the writer evidently mentioned them as they occurred to his mind, just as we would in giving a rapid account of so many different nations.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 11

Verse 11. Cretes. Crete, now called Candia, is an island in the Mediterranean, about 200 miles in length and 50 in breadth, about 500 miles south-west of Constantinople, and about the same distance west of Syria or Palestine. The climate is mild and delightful, the sky unclouded and serene. By some this island is supposed to be the Caphtorim of the Hebrews, Ge 10:14. It is mentioned in the Acts as the place touched at by Paul, Ac 27:7,8,13.

This was the residence of Titus, who was left there by Paul to "set in order the things that were wanting," etc., Tit 1:5. The Cretians among the Greeks were famous for deceit and falsehood, Tit 1:12,13. The language spoken there was probably the Greek.

Arabians. Arabia is the great peninsula which is bounded north by part of Syria, east by the Euphrates and the Persian Gulf, south by the Indian Ocean, and west by the Red Sea. It is often mentioned in the Scriptures; and there were doubtless there many Jews. The language spoken there was the Arabic.

In our tongues. The languages spoken by the apostles could not have been less than seven or eight, besides different dialects of the same languages. It is not certain that the Jews present from foreign nations spoke those languages perfectly; but they had doubtless so used them as to make them the common tongue in which they conversed. No miracle could be more decided than this. There was no way in which the apostles could impose on them, and make them suppose they spoke foreign languages, if they really did not; for these foreigners were abundantly able to determine that. It may be remarked, that this miracle had most important effects besides that witnessed on the day of Pentecost. The gospel would be carried by those who were converted to all these places; and the way would be prepared for the labours of the apostles there. Accordingly, most of these places became afterwards celebrated by the establishment of Christian churches, and the conversion of great multitudes to the Christian faith.

The wonderful works of God. ta megaleia tou yeou. The great things of God; that is, the great things that God had done, in the gift of his Son; in his raising him from the dead; in his miracles, ascension, etc. Comp. Lu 1:49; Ps 71:19; 26:7; 66:3; 92:6; 104:24, etc.

{*} "tongues" "Our own languages"

{a} "the wonderful works of God" 1 Co 12:10,28

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 12

Verse 12. Were in doubt. This expression�"dihporoun�" denotes a state of hesitancy or anxiety about an event. It is applied to those who are travelling, and are ignorant of the way, or who hesitate about the road. They were all astonished at this; they did not know how to understand it or explain it, until some of them supposed it was merely the effect of new wine.

{b} "What meaneth this" Ac 17:20

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 13

Verse 13. Others mocking said. The word rendered "mocking" means to cavil, to deride. It occurs in the New Testament but in one other place: Ac 17:32, "And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked." This was an effect that was not confined to the day of Pentecost. There has been seldom a revival of religion, a remarkable manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit, that has not given occasion for profane mockery and merriment. One characteristic of wicked men is to deride those things which are done to promote their own welfare. Hence the Saviour himself was mocked; and the efforts of Christians to save others have been the subject of derision. Derision, and mockery, and a jeer, have been far more effectual in deterring men from becoming Christians than any attempts at sober argument. God will treat men as they treat him, Ps 18:26. And hence he says to the wicked, "Because I have called, and ye refused�" but ye have set at nought all my counsel�"I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh," Pr 1:24-26.

These men are full of new wine. These men are drunk. In such times men will have some way of accounting for the effects of the gospel; and the way is commonly about as wise and rational as this. "To escape the absurdity of acknowledging their own ignorance, they adopted the theory that strong drink can teach languages."�"Dr. McLelland. In modern times it has been usual to denominate such scenes fanaticism, or wildfire, or enthusiasm. When men fail in argument, it is common to attempt to confute a doctrine, or bring reproach upon a transaction, by "giving it an ill name." Hence the names Puritan, Quaker, Methodist, etc., were at first given in derision, to account for some remarkable effect of religion on the world. Comp. Mt 11:19; Joh 7:20; 8:48.

And thus men endeavour to trace revivals to ungoverned and heated passions; and they are regarded by many as the mere offspring of fanaticism. The friends of revivals should not be discouraged by this; but should remember that the very first revival of religion was by many supposed to be the effect of a drunken frolic.

New wine. gleukouv. This word properly means the juice of the grape which distils before a pressure is applied, and called must. It was sweet wine; and hence the word in Greek meaning sweet was given to it. The ancients, it is said, had the art of preserving their new wine with the peculiar flavour before fermentation for a considerable time, and were in the habit of drinking it in the morning. See Horace, Sat. b. ii. iv. Sweet wine, which was probably the same as that mentioned here, is also mentioned in the Old Testament, Isa 49:26; Am 9:13.

{+} "mocking" or "Scoffing"

HE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 14

Verse 14. But Peter. This was in accordance with the natural temperament of Peter. He was bold, forward, ardent; and he rose now to defend the apostles of Jesus Christ, and Christ himself, from an injurious charge. Not daunted by ridicule or opposition, he felt that now was the time for preaching the gospel to the crowd that had been assembled by curiosity. No ridicule should deter Christians from an honest avowal of their opinions, and a defence of the operations of the Holy Spirit.

With the eleven. Matthias was now one of the apostles, and now appeared as one of the witnesses for the truth. They probably all arose, and took part in the discourse. Possibly Peter began to discourse, and either all spoke together in different languages, or one succeeded another.

Ye men of Judea. Men who are Jews; that is, Jews by birth. The original does not mean that they were permanent dwellers in Judea, but that they were Jews, of Jewish families. Literally, "men, Jews."

And all ye that dwell, etc. All others besides native-born Jews, whether proselytes or strangers, who were abiding at Jerusalem. This comprised, of course, the whole assembly, and was a respectful and conciliatory introduction to his discourse. Though they had mocked them, yet he treated them with respect, and did not render railing for railing, (1 Pe 3:9,) but sought to convince them of their error.

Be this known, etc. Peter did not intimate that this was a doubtful matter, or one that could not be explained. His address was respectful, yet firm. He proceeded calmly to show them their error. When the enemies of religion deride us or the gospel, we should answer them kindly and respectfully, yet firmly. We should reason with them coolly, and convince them of their error, Pr 15:1. In this case Peter acted on the principle which he afterwards enjoined on all. 1 Pe 3:15, "Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear." The design of Peter was to vindicate the conduct of the apostles from the reproach of intoxication, to show that this could be no other than the work of God; and to make an application of the truth to his hearers. This he did,

(1.) by showing that this could not be reasonably supposed to be the effect of new wine, Ac 2:15.

(2.) That it had been expressly predicted in the writings of the Jewish prophets, Ac 2:16-21.

(3.) By a calm argument, proving the resurrection and ascension of Christ, and showing that this also was in accordance with the Jewish Scriptures, Ac 2:22-35. We are not to suppose that this was the whole of Peter's discourse, but that these were the topics on which he insisted, and the main points of his argument.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 15

Verse 15. For these are not drunken, etc. The word these here includes Peter himself, as well as the others. The charge doubtless extended to all.

The third hour of the day. The Jews divided their day into twelve equal parts, reckoning from sunrise to sunset. Of course the hours were longer in the summer than in the winter. The third hour would answer to our nine o'clock in the morning. The reasons why it was so improbable that they should be drunk at that time were the following:

(1.) It was the hour of morning worship, or sacrifice. It was highly improbable, that at that early hour they would be intoxicated.

(2.) It was not usual for even drunkards to become drunk in the daytime. 1 Th 5:7, "They that be drunken are drunken in the night."

(3.) The charge was, that they had become drunk with wine. Ardent spirits, or alcohol, that curse of our times, was unknown. It was very improbable that so much of the weak wine commonly used in Judea should have been taken at that early hour as to produce intoxication.

(4.) It was a regular practice with the Jews, not to eat or drink anything until after the third hour of the day, especially on the Sabbath, and on all festival occasions. Sometimes this abstinence was maintained until noon. So universal was this custom, that the apostle could appeal to it with confidence, as a full refutation of the charge of drunkenness at that hour. Even the intemperate were not accustomed to drink before that hour. The following testimonies on this subject from Jewish writers, are from Lightfoot. "This was the custom of pious people in ancient times, that each one should offer his morning prayers with additions in the synagogue, and then return home and take refreshment." (Maimonides, Shabb.chap. 30.) "They remained in the synagogue until the sixth hour and a half, and then each one offered the prayer of the Mincha, before he returned home, and then he ate." "The fourth is the hour of repast, when all eat." One of the Jewish writers says, that the difference between thieves and honest men might be known by the fact that the former might be seen in the morning at the fourth hour, eating and sleeping, and holding a cup in his hand. But for those who made pretensions to religion, as the apostles did, such a thing was altogether improbable.

{a} "seeing it is but the third" 1 Th 5:7

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 16

Verse 16. This is that. This is the fulfillment of that, or this was predicted. This was the second part of Peter's argument to show that this was in accordance with the predictions in their own Scriptures.

By the prophet Joel. Joe 2:28-32. This is not quoted literally either from the Hebrew or from the Septuagint. The substance, however, is preserved.

{b} "was spoken by the prophet Joel" Joe 2:25-32

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 17

Verse 17. It shall come to pass. It shall happen, or shall occur.

In the last days. Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic, after these things, or afterwards. The expression the last days, however, occurs frequently in the Old Testament. Ge 49:1, Jacob called his sons, that he might tell them what should happen to them in the last days; that is, in future times. Hebrew, in after times. Mi 4:1, "In the last days, (Heb. in after times,) the mountain of the house of the Lord," etc. Isa 2:2, "In the last days, the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains," etc. The expression then properly denoted the future times in general; but, as the coming of the Messiah was to the eye of a Jew the most important event in the coming ages, the great, glorious, and crowning scene in all that vast futurity, the phrase came to be regarded as properly expressive of that. And they spoke of future times, and of the last times, as the glad period which should be crowned and honoured with the presence and triumphs of the Messiah. It stood in opposition to the usual denomination of earlier times. It was a phrase in contrast with the days of the patriarchs, the kings, the prophets, etc. The last days, or the closing period of the world, were the days of the Messiah. It does not appear from this, and it certainly is not implied in the expression, that they supposed the world would then come to an end. Their views were just the contrary. They anticipated a long and glorious time, under the dominion of the Messiah, and to this expectation they were led by the promise that his kingdom should be for ever; that of the increase of his government there should be no end, etc. This expression was understood by the writers of the New Testament as referring undoubtedly to the times of the gospel. And hence they often used it as denoting that the time of the expected Messiah had come, but not to imply that the world was drawing near to an end. Heb 1:2, God "hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son." 1 Pe 1:20, "Was manifest in these last times for you." 2 Pe 3:3; 1 Pe 1:5; 1 Jo 2:18, "Little children, it is the last time," etc. Jude 1:18. The expression, the last day, is applied by our Saviour to the resurrection and the day of judgment, Joh 6:39,40,44,54; 11:24; 12:48.

Here the expression means simply in those future times, when the Messiah shall have come.

I will pour out of my Spirit. The expression in Hebrew is, "I will pour out my Spirit." The word pour is commonly applied to water, or to blood, to pour it out, or to shed it, Isa 57:6; to tears, to pour them out, that is, to weep, etc., Ps 42:4; 1 Sa 1:15. It is applied to water, to wine, or to blood, in the New Testament, Mt 9:17; Re 16:1; Ac 22:20, "The blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed." It conveys also the idea of communicating largely, or freely, as water is poured freely from a fountain. Tit 3:5,6, "The renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly." Thus Job 36:27, "They (the clouds) pour down rain according to the vapour thereof." Isa 44:3, "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty." Isa 45:8, "Let the skies pour down righteousness." Mal 3:10, "Will I pour you out a blessing." It is also applied to fury and anger, when God intends to say that he will not spare, but will signally punish. Ps 69:24; Jer 10:2,5.

It is not unfrequently applied to the Spirit, Pr 1:23; Isa 44:3 Zec 12:10. And then it means that he will bestow large measures of spiritual influences. As the Spirit renews and sanctifies men, so to pour out the Spirit is to grant freely his influences to renew and sanctify the soul.

My Spirit. The Spirit here denotes the Third Person of the Trinity, promised by the Saviour, and sent to finish his work, and apply it to men. The Holy Spirit is regarded as the source, or conveyer of all the blessings which Christians experience. Hence he renews the heart, Joh 3:5,6. He is the Source of all proper feelings and principles in Christians, or he produces the Christian graces, Ga 5:22-25; Tit 3:5-7. The spread and success of the gospel are attributed to him, Isa 32:15,16. Miraculous gifts are traced to him; especially the various gifts with which the early Christians were endowed, 1 Co 12:4-10. The promise that he would pour out his Spirit, means that he would, in the time of the Messiah, impart a large measure of those influences, which it was his peculiar province to communicate to men. A part of them were communicated on the day of Pentecost, in the miraculous endowment of the power of speaking foreign languages, in the wisdom of the apostles, and in the conversion of the three thousand.

Upon all flesh. The word flesh here means persons, or men. See Barnes "Ro 1:3".

The word all, here, does not mean every individual, but every class or rank of men. It is to be limited to the cases specified immediately. The influences were not to be confined to any class, but to be communicated to all kinds of persons, old men, youth, servants, etc. Comp. 1 Ti 2:1-4.

And your sons and your daughters. Your children. It would seem, however, that females shared in the remarkable influences of the Holy Spirit. Philip, the evangelist, had four daughters which did prophesy, Ac 21:9. It is probable also that the females of the church of Corinth partook of this gift, though they were forbidden to exercise it in public, 1 Co 14:34. The office of prophesying, whatever was meant by that, was not confined to the men among the Jews. Ex 15:20, "Miriam, the prophetess, took a timbrel," etc. Jud 4:4, "Deborah, a prophetess, judged Israel." 2 Ki 22:14. See also Lu 2:36, "There was one Anna, a prophetess," etc.

Shall prophesy. The word prophesy is used in a great variety of senses.

(1.) It means to predict, or foretell future events, Mt 11:13; 15:7.

(2.) To divine, to conjecture, to declare as a prophet might. Mt 26:68, "Prophesy, Who is he that smote thee."

(3.) To celebrate the praises of God, being under a Divine influence, Lu 1:67. This seems to have been a considerable part of the employment in the ancient schools of the prophets, 1 Sa 10:5; 19:20 1 Sa 30:15.

(4.) To 0teach�"as no small part of the office of the prophets was to teach the doctrines of religion. Mt 7:22, "Have we not prophesied in thy name?"

(5.) It denotes then, in general, to speak under a Divine influence, whether in foretelling future events; in celebrating the praises of God; in instructing others in the duties of religion; or in speaking foreign languages under that influence. In this last sense, the word is used in the New Testament to denote those who were miraculously endowed with the power of speaking foreign languages, Ac 19:6. The word is also used to denote teaching, or speaking in intelligible language, in opposition to speaking a foreign tongue, 1 Co 14:1-5. In this place it means that they should speak under a Divine influence, and is specially applied to the power of speaking in a foreign tongue.

Your young men shall see visions. The will of God in former times was communicated to the prophets in various ways. One was by visions; and hence one of the most usual names of the prophets was seers. The name seer was first given to that class of men, and was superseded by the name prophet. 1 Sa 9:9, "He that is now called a Prophet was beforetime called a Seer. 1 Sa 9:11,18,19; 2 Sa 24:11; 1 Ch 29:29, etc. This name was given from the manner in which the Divine will was communicated, which seems to have been by throwing the prophet into an ecstacy, and then by causing the vision, or the appearance of the objects or events to pass before the mind. The prophet looked upon the passing scene, the often splendid diorama as it actually occurred, and recorded it as it appeared to his mind. Hence he recorded rather the succession of images than the times in which they would occur. These visions occurred sometimes when they were asleep, and sometimes during a prophetic ecstacy, Da 2:28; 7:1,2,15; 7:2; Eze 11:24; Ge 15:1; Nu 12:6; Job 4:13; 7:14; Eze 1:1; 8:3.

Often the prophet seemed to be transferred, or translated to another place from where he was; and the scene in a distant land or age passed before the mind, Eze 8:3; 40:2; 11:24; Da 8:2.

In this case, the distant scene or time passed before the prophet, and he recollected it as it appeared to him. That this did not cease before the times of the gospel is evident. Ac 9:10, "To Ananias said the Lord in a vision," Ac 9:12, "And hath seen (i.e. Paul) in a vision a man named Ananias," etc., i.e. Paul hath seen Ananias represented to him, though absent; he has had an image of him coming in to him. Ac 10:3, Cornelius "saw in a vision evidently an angel of God coming in to him," etc. This was one of the modes by which in former times God made known his will; and the language of the Jews came to express a revelation in this manner. Though there were strictly no visions on the day of Pentecost, yet that was one scene under the great economy of the Messiah, under which God would make known his will in a manner as clear as he did to the ancient Jews.

Your old men shall dream dreams. The will of God, in former times, was made known often in this manner; and there are several instances recorded in which it was done under the gospel. God informed Abimelech in a dream that Sarah was the wife of Abraham, Ge 20:3. He spoke to Jacob in a dream, Ge 31:11; to Laban, Ge 31:24; to Joseph, Ge 37:5; to the butler and baker, Ge 40:5; to Pharaoh, Ge 41:1-7; to Solomon, 1 Ki 3:5; to Daniel, Da 2:3; 7:1. It was prophesied by Moses that in this way God would make known his will, Nu 12:6. It occurred even in the times of the gospel, Mt 1:20. Joseph was warned in a dream, Mt 2:12,13,19,22.

Pilate's wife was also troubled in this manner about the conduct of the Jews to Christ, Mt 27:19. As this was one way in which the will of God was made known formerly to men, so the expression here denotes simply that his will should be made known; that it should be one characteristic of the times of the gospel that God would reveal himself to man. The ancients probably had some mode of determining whether their dreams were Divine communications, or whether they were, as they are now, the mere erratic wanderings of the mind when unrestrained and unchecked by the will. At present no confidence is to be put in dreams.

{a} "pour out my Spirit" Isa 44:3; Eze 36:27

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 18

Verse 18. And on my servants. The Hebrew in Joel is, "upon the servants." The Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate, however, render it "on my servants." In Joel, the prophet would seem to be enumerating the different conditions and ranks of society. The influences of the Spirit would be confined to no class; they would descend on old and young, and even on servants and handmaids. So the Chaldee Paraphrase understood it. But the Septuagint and Peter evidently understood it in the sense of servants of God; as the worshippers of God are often called servants in the Scriptures. See Ro 1:1. It is possible, however, that the Hebrew intended to refer to the servants of God. It is not "upon your servants," etc., as in the former expression, "your sons," etc.; but the form is changed, "upon servants and handmaids." The language, therefore, will admit the construction of the Septuagint and of Peter; and it was this variation in the Hebrew which suggested, doubtless, the mention of "my servants," etc., instead of your servants.

And on my handmaidens. Female servants. The name is several times given to pious women, Ps 86:16; 116:16; Lu 1:38,48.

The meaning of this verse does not materially differ from the former. In the times of the gospel, those who were brought under its influence should be remarkably endowed with ability to declare the will of God.

{b} "and they shall prophesy" Ac 16:4,9,10; 1 Co 12:10

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 19

Verse 19, 20. I will shew wonders. Literally, "I will give signs." dwsw terata. The word in the Hebrew�" �"mophethim, means, properly, prodigies; wonderful occurrences; miracles wrought by God or his messengers, Ex 4:21; 7:3,9; 11:9; De 4:34, etc. It is the common word to denote a miracle, in the Old Testament. Here it means, however, a portentous appearance, a prodigy, a remarkable occurrence. It is commonly joined in the New Testament with the word signs, "signs and wonders," Mt 24:24; Mr 13:22; Joh 4:48.

In these places it does not of necessity mean miracles, but unusual and remarkable appearances. Here it is fixed to mean great and striking changes in the sky, the sun, moon, etc. The Hebrew is, "I will give signs in the heaven, and upon the earth." Peter has quoted it according to the sense, and not according to the letter. The Septuagint is here a literal translation of the Hebrew; and this is one of the instances where the New Testament writers did not quote from either.

Much of the difficulty of interpreting these verses consists in fixing the proper meaning to the expression, "that great and notable day of the Lord." If it be limited to the day of Pentecost, it is certain that no such events occurred at that time. But there is, it is believed, no propriety in confining it to that time. The description here pertains to "the last days," (Ac 2:17) that is, to the whole of that period of duration, however long, which was known by the prophets as the last times. That period might be extended through many centuries; and during that period all these events would take place. The day of the Lord is the day when God shall manifest himself in a peculiar manner; a day when he shall so strikingly be seen in his wonders and his judgments, that it may be called his day. Thus it is applied to the day of judgment, as the day of the Son of man; the day in which he will be the great attractive object, and will be signally glorified, Lu 17:24; 1 Th 5:2; Php 1:6; 2 Pe 3:12. If, as I suppose, "that notable day of the Lord" here denotes that future time when God shall manifest himself in judgment, then we are not to suppose that Peter meant to say that these "wonders" should take place on the day of Pentecost, or had their fulfillment then; but would occur under that indefinite period called "the last days," the days of the Messiah, and BEFORE that period was closed by the great day of the Lord. The gift of tongues was a partial fulfillment of the general prophecy pertaining to those times. And as the prophecy was thus partially fulfilled, it was a pledge that it would be entirely; and thus there was laid a foundation for the necessity of repentance, and for calling on the Lord in order to be saved.

Blood. Blood is commonly used as an emblem of slaughter, or of battle.

Fire. Fire is also an image of war, or the conflagration of towns and dwellings in time of war.

Vapour of smoke. The word vapour�"atmiv�"means, commonly, an exhalation from the earth, etc., easily moved from one place to another, here it means (Heb. Joel) rising columns, or pillars of smoke; and is another image of the calamities of war, the smoke rising from burning towns. It has almost always been customary in war to burn the towns of an enemy, and to render him as helpless as possible, Hence the calamities denoted here are those represented by such scenes. To what particular scenes there is reference here, it may be impossible now to say. It may be remarked, however, that scenes of this kind occurred before the destruction of Jerusalem; and there is a striking resemblance between the description in Joel, and that by which our Saviour foretells the destruction of Jerusalem. See Barnes "Mt 24:21-24".

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 20

Verse 20. The sun shall be turned into darkness. See Barnes "Mt 24:29".

The same images used here with reference to the sun and moon, are used also there. They occur not unfrequently, Mr 13:24; 2 Pe 3:7,10.

The shining of the sun is an emblem of prosperity; the withdrawing, or eclipse, or setting of the sun is an emblem of calamity, and is often thus used in the Scriptures, Isa 60:20; Jer 15:9; Eze 32:7; Am 8:9; Re 6:12; 8:12; 9:2; 16:8.

To say that the sun is darkened, or turned into darkness, is an image of calamity, and especially of the calamities of war; when the smoke of burning cities rises to heaven, and obscures his light. This is not, therefore, to be taken literally, nor does it afford any indication of what will be at the end of the world in regard to the sun.

The moon into blood. The word blood here means that obscure, sanguinary colour which the moon has when the atmosphere is filled with smoke and vapour; and especially the lurid and alarming appearance which it assumes when smoke and flames are thrown up by earthquakes and fiery eruptions. Re 6:12, "And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood., Re 8:8. In this place it denotes great calamities. The figures used are indicative of wars, and conflagrations, and unusual prodigies of earthquakes. As these things are (Mt 24) applied to the destruction of Jerusalem; as they actually occurred previous to that event, See Barnes "Mt 24:1"

it may be supposed that the prophecy in Joel had an immediate reference to that. The meaning of the quotation by Peter in this place therefore is, that what occurred on the day of Pentecost was the beginning of the series of wonders that were to take place during the times of the Messiah. It is not intimated that those scenes were to close, or to be exhausted in that age. They may precede that great day of the Lord which is yet to come in view of the whole earth.

That great and notable day of the Lord. This is called the great day of the Lord, because on that day he will be signally manifested, more impressively-and strikingly than on other times. The word notable, epifanh, means signal, illustrious, distinguished. In Joel the word is terrible, or fearful; a word applicable to days of calamity, and trial, and judgment. The Greek word here rendered notable is also in the Septuagint frequently used to denote calamity, or times of judgment, De 10:21; 2 Sa 7:23. This will apply to any day in which God signally manifests himself; but particularly to a day when he shall come forth to punish men, as at the destruction of Jerusalem, or at the day of judgment. The meaning is, that those wonders should take place before that distinguished day should arrive when God should come forth in judgment.

{a} "The sun shall be turned into darkness" Mr 13:24; 2 Pe 3:7,10

{*} "notable" "Signal"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 21

Verse 21. Whosoever shall call. In the midst of these wonders and dangers, whosoever should call on the Lord should be delivered, (Joel.) The name of the Lord is the same as the Lord himself. It is a Hebraism, signifying to call on the Lord, Ps 79:6; Zec 13:9.

Shall be saved. In Hebrew, shall be delivered, i.e. from impending calamities. When they threaten, and God is coming forth to judge them, it shall be that those who are characterized as those who call on the Lord shall be delivered. This is equally true at all times. It is remarkable that no Christians perished in the siege of Jerusalem. Though more than a million of Jews perished, yet the followers of Christ who were there, having been warned by him, when they saw the signs of the Romans approaching, with- drew to Aelia, and were preserved. So it shall be in the day of judgment. All whose character it has been that they called on God, will then be saved. While the wicked shall then call on the rocks and the mountains to shelter them from the Lord, those who have invoked his favour and mercy shall then find deliverance. The use which Peter makes of this passage is this: Calamities were about to come; the day of judgment was approaching; they were passing through the last days of the earth's history; and therefore it became them to call on the name of the Lord, and to obtain deliverance from the dangers which impended over the guilty. There can be little doubt that Peter intended to apply this to the Messiah, and that by the name of the Lord he meant the Lord Jesus. See 1 Co 1:2. Paul makes the same use of the passage, expressly applying it to the Lord Jesus Christ, Ro 10:13,14. In Joel, the word translated Lord is JEHOVAH, the incommunicable and peculiar name of God; and the use of the passage before us, in the New Testament, shows how the apostles regarded the Lord Jesus Christ; and proves that they had no hesitation in applying to him names and attributes which could belong to no one but God.

This verse teaches us,

(1.) that in prospect of the judgments of God which are to come, we should make preparation. We shall be called to pass through the closing scene of this earth; the time when the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, and when the great day of the Lord shah come.

(2.) It is easy to be saved. All that God requires of us is to call upon him, to pray to him, to ask him, and he will answer and save. If men will not do so easy a thing as to call on God, and ask him for salvation, it is obviously proper that they should be cast off. The terms of salvation could not be made plainer or easier. The offer is wide, free, universal, and there is no obstacle but what exists in the heart of the sinner. And from this part of Peter's vindication of the scene on the day of Pentecost, we may learn also,

(1.) that revivals of religion are to be expected as a part of the history of the Christian church. He speaks of God's pouring out his Spirit, etc., as what was to take place in the last days, i.e. in the indefinite and large tract of time which was to come under the administration of the Messiah. His remarks are by no means limited to the day of Pentecost. They are as applicable to future periods as to that time; and we are to expect it as a part of Christian history, that the Holy Spirit will be sent down to awaken and convert men.

(2.) This will also vindicate revivals from all the charges which have ever been brought against them. All the objections of irregularity, extravagance, wildfire, enthusiasm, disorder, etc., which have been alleged against revivals in modern times, might have been brought with equal propriety against the scene on the day of Pentecost. Yet an apostle showed that that was in accordance with the predictions of the Old Testament, and was an undoubted work of the Holy Spirit. If that work could be vindicated, then modern revivals may be. If that was really liable to no objections on these accounts, then modern works of grace should not be objected to for the same things. And if that excited deep interest in the apostles; if they felt deep concern to vindicate it from the charge brought against it, then Christians and Christian ministers now should feel similar solicitude to defend revivals, and not be found among their revilers, their calumniators, or their foes. There will be enemies enough of the work of the Holy Spirit without the aid of professed Christians; and that man possesses no enviable feelings or character who is found with the enemies of God and his Christ, in opposing the mighty work of the Holy Spirit on the human heart.

{b} "shall call on the name" 1 Co 1:2; Heb 4:16

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 22

Verse 22. Ye men of Israel. Descendants of Israel, or Jacob, i.e. Jews. Peter proceeds now to the third part of his argument, to show that Jesus Christ had been raised up; and that the scene which had occurred was in accordance with his promise, was proof of his resurrection, and of his exaltation to be the Messiah; and that therefore they should repent for their great sin in having put their own Messiah to death.

A man approved of God. A man who was shown or demonstrated to have the approbation of God, or to have been sent by him.

By miracles and wonders and signs. The first of these words properly means the displays of power which Jesus made; the second, the unusual or remarkable events which attended him; the third, the signs or proofs that he was from God. Together, they denote the array or series of remarkable works�"raising the dead, healing the sick, etc., which showed that Jesus was sent from God. The proof which they furnished that he was from God was this�"that God would not confer such power on an impostor, and that therefore he was what he pretended to be.

Which God did by him. The Lord Jesus himself often traced his power to do these things to his commission from the Father; but he did it in such a way as to show that he was closely united to him, Joh 5:19,30. Peter here says that God did these works by Jesus Christ, to show that Jesus was truly sent by him, and that therefore he had the seal and attestation of God. The same thing Jesus himself said: Joh 5:36, "The works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me." The great works which God has wrought in creation, as well as in redemption, he is represented as having done by his Son. Heb 1:2, "By whom also he made the worlds." Joh 1:3; Col 1:15-19.

In the midst of you. In your own land. It is also probable that many of the persons present had been witnesses of his miracles.

As ye yourselves also know. They knew it either by having witnessed them, or by the evidence which everywhere abounded of the truth that he had wrought them. The Jews, even in the time of Christ, did not dare to call his miracles in question, Joh 15:24. While they admitted the miracle, they attempted to trace it to the influence of Beelzebub, Mt 9:34; Mr 3:22. So decided and numerous were the miracles of Jesus, that Peter here appeals to them as having been known by the Jews themselves to have been performed, and with a confidence that even they could not deny it. On this he proceeds to rear his argument for the truth of his Messiahship.

{*} "approved" "manifested"

{a} "miracles and wonders and signs" Joh 14:10,11; Heb 2:4

{b} "ye yourselves know" Joh 15:24

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 23

Verse 23. Him being delivered, ekdoton. This word, delivered, is used commonly of those who are surrendered or delivered into the hands of enemies or adversaries. It means that Jesus was surrendered, or given up to his enemies, by those who should have been his protectors. Thus he was delivered to the chief priests, Mr 10:33. Pilate released Barabbas, and delivered Jesus to their will, Mr 15:15; Lu 23:25; he was delivered unto the Gentiles, Lu 18:32; the chief priests delivered him to Pilate, Mt 27:2; and Pilate delivered him to be crucified, Mt 27:26; Joh 19:16. In this manner was the death of Jesus accomplished, by being surrendered from one tribunal to another, and one demand of his countrymen, to another, until they succeeded in procuring his death. It may also be implied here, that he was given or surrendered by God to the hands of men. Thus he is represented to have been given by God, Joh 3:16; 1 Jo 4:9,10.

The Syriac translates this, "Him, who was destined to this by the foreknowledge and will of God, you delivered into the hands of wicked men," etc. The Arabic, "Him, delivered to you by the hands of the wicked, you received, and after you had mocked him, you slew him."

By the determinate counsel. The word translated determinate �"th wrismenh�" means, properly, that which is defined, marked out, or bounded; as, to mark out or define the boundary of a field, etc. See Ro 1:1,4. In Ac 10:42, it is translated ordained of God; denoting his purpose that it should be so, i.e. that Jesus should be the Judge of quick and dead. Lu 22:22, "The Son of man goeth, as it was determined," i.e. as God has purposed or determined beforehand that he should go. Ac 11:29, "The disciples�"determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea," i.e. they resolved or purposed beforehand to do it. Ac 17:26, "God�" hath determined the times before appointed," etc. In all these places there is the idea of a purpose, or intention, or plan implying intention, and marking out or fixing the boundaries to some future action or event. The word implies that the death of Jesus was resolved on by God before it took place. And this truth is established by all the predictions made in the Old Testament, and by the Saviour himself. God was not compelled to give up his Son. There was no claim on him for it. And he had a right, therefore, to determine when and how it should be done. The fact, moreover, that this was predicted, shows that it was fixed or resolved on. No event can be foretold, evidently, unless it be Certain that it will take place. The event, therefore, must in some way be fixed or resolved on beforehand.

Counsel. Boulh. This word properly denotes purpose, decree, will. It expresses the act of the mind inwilling, or the purpose or design which is formed. Here it means the purpose or will of God; it was his plan or decree that Jesus should be delivered. Ac 4:28, "For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel h boulh sou determined before to be done." Eph 1:11, "Who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." Heb 6:17, "God, willing to show the immutability of his counsel." See Ac 20:27; 1 Co 4:5; Lu 23:51.

The word here, therefore, proves that Jesus was delivered by the deliberate purpose of God; that it was according to his previous intention and design. The reason why this was insisted on by Peter, was, that he might convince the Jews that Jesus was not delivered by weakness, or because he was unable to rescue himself. Such an opinion would have been inconsistent with the belief that he was the Messiah. It was important, then, to assert the dignity of Jesus, and to show that his death was in accordance with the fixed design of God; and, therefore, that it did not interfere in the least with his claims to be the Messiah. The same thing our Saviour has himself expressly affirmed, Joh 19:10,11; 10:18; Mt 26:53.

Foreknowledge. This word denotes the seeing beforehand of an event yet to take place. It implies,

(1.) omniscience; and,

(2.) that the event is fixed and certain. To foresee a contingent event, that is, to foresee that an event will take place, when it may or may not take place, is an absurdity. Foreknowledge, therefore, implies that for some reason the event will certainly take place. What that reason is, the word itself does not determine. As, however, God is represented in the Scriptures as purposing or determining future events; as they could not be foreseen by him unless he had so determined, so the word sometimes is used in the sense of determining beforehand, or as synonymous with decreeing, Ro 8:29; 11:2. In this place the word is used to denote that the delivering up of Jesus was something more than a bare or naked decree. It implies that God did it according to his foresight of what would be the best time, and place, and manner of its being done. It was not the result merely of will; it was will directed by a wise foreknowledge of what would be best. And this is the case with all the decrees of God. It follows from this, that the conduct of the Jews was foreknown. God was not disappointed in anything respecting their treatment of his Son. Nor will he be disappointed in any of the doings of men. Notwithstanding the wickedness of the world, his counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure, Isa 46:10.

Ye have taken. See Mt 26:57. Ye Jews have taken. It is possible that some were present on this occasion who had been personally concerned in taking Jesus; and many who had joined in the cry, "Crucify him," Lu 23:18-21. It was, at any rate, the act of the Jewish people by which this had been done. This was a striking instance of the fidelity of that preaching which says, as Nathan did to David, "Thou art the man !" Peter, once so timid that he denied his Lord, now charged this atrocious crime on his countrymen, regardless of their anger and his own danger. He did not deal in general accusations, but brought the charges home, and declared that they were the men who had been concerned in this amazing crime. No preaching can be successful that does not charge on men their personal guilt; and that does not fearlessly proclaim their ruin and danger.

By wicked hands. Greek, "through or by the hands of the lawless, or wicked." This refers, doubtless, to Pilate and the Roman soldiers, through whose instrumentality this had been done. The reasons for supposing that this is the true interpretation of the passage are these:

(1.) The Jews had not the power of inflicting death themselves.

(2.) The term used here�"wicked, anomwn was not applicable to the Jews, but to the Romans. It properly means lawless, or those who had not the law, and is often applied to the heathen, Ro 2:12,14; 1 Co 9:21.

(3.) The punishment which was inflicted was a Roman punishment.

(4.) It was a matter of fact, that the Jews, though they had condemned him, yet had not put him to death themselves, but had demanded it of the Romans. But though they had employed the Romans to do it, still they were the prime-movers in the deed; they had plotted, and compassed, and demanded his death; and they were therefore not the less guilty. The maxim of the common law, and of common sense, is, "he who does a deed by the instrumentality of another is responsible for it." It was from no merit of the Jews that they had not put him to death themselves. It was simply because the power was taken away from them.

Have crucified. Greek, "having affixed him to the cross, ye have put him to death." Peter here charges the crime fully on them. Their guilt was not diminished because they had employed others to do it. From this we may remark,

(1.) that this was one of the most amazing and awful crimes that could be charged on any men. It was malice, and treason, and hatred, and murder combined. Nor was it any common murder. It was their own Messiah whom they had put to death; the hope of their fathers; he who had been long promised by God, and the prospect of whose coming had so long cheered and animated the nation. They had now imbrued their hands in his blood, and stood charged with the awful crime of having murdered the Prince of peace.

(2.) It is no mitigation of guilt that we do it by the instrumentality of others. It is often, if not always, a deepening and extending of the crime.

(3.) We have here a striking and clear instance of the doctrine that the decrees of God do not interfere with the free agency of men. This event was certainly determined beforehand. Nothing is clearer than this. It is here expressly asserted; and it had been foretold with undeviating certainty by the prophets. God had, for wise and gracious purposes, purposed or decreed in his own mind that his Son should die at the time, and in the manner in which he did; for all the circumstances of his death, as well as of his birth and his life, were foretold. And yet, in this, the Jews and the Romans never supposed or alleged that they were compelled or cramped in what they did. They did what they chose. If in this case the decrees of God were not inconsistent with human freedom, neither can they be in any case. Between those decrees and the freedom of man there is no inconsistency, unless it could be shown�"what never can be�"that God compels men to act contrary to their own will. In that case there could be no freedom. But that is not the case with regard to the decrees of God. An act is what it is in itself; it can be contemplated and measured by itself. That it was foreseen, foreknown, or purposed, does not alter its nature, any more than it does that it be remembered after it is performed. The memory of what we have done does not destroy our freedom. Our own purposes in relation to our conduct do not destroy our freedom; nor can the purposes or designs of any other being violate one free moral action, unless he compels us to do a thing against our will.

(4.) We have here a proof that the decree of God does not take away the moral character of an action. It does not prove that an action is innocent if it is shown that it is a part of the wise plan of God to permit it. Never was there a more atrocious crime than the crucifixion of the Son of God. And yet it was determined on in the Divine counsels. So with all the deeds of human guilt. The purpose of God to permit them does not destroy their nature, or make them innocent. They are what they are in themselves. The purpose of God does not change their character; and if it is right to punish them in fact, they will be punished. If it is right for God to punish them, it was right to resolve to do it. And the sinner must answer for his sins, not for the plans of his Maker; nor can he take shelter in the day of wrath, against what he deserves, in the plea that God has determined future events. If any men could have done it, it would have been those whom Peter addressed; yet neither he nor they felt that their guilt was in the least diminished by the fact that Jesus was "delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God."

(5.) If this event was predetermined; if that act of amazing wickedness, when the Son of God was put to death, was fixed by the determinate counsel of God, then all the events leading to it, and the circumstances attending it, were also a part of the decree. The one could not be determined without the other.

(6.) If that event was determined, then others may be also consistently with human freedom and responsibility. There can be no deed of wickedness that shall surpass that of crucifying the Son of God. And if the acts of his murderers were a part of the wise counsel of God, then on the same principle are we to suppose that all events are under his direction, and ordered by a purpose infinitely wise and good.

(7.) If the Jews could not take shelter from the charge of wickedness under the plea that it was foreordained, then no sinners can do it. This was as clear a case as can ever occur; and yet the apostle did not intimate that an excuse or mitigation for their sin could be pleaded from this cause. This case, therefore, meets all the excuses of sinners from this plea, and proves that those excuses will not avail them or save them in the day of judgment.

{c} "delivered by the determinate" Lu 22:22; 24:44; Ac 3:18

{d} "ye have taken" Ac 5:30

{e} "and by wicked hands" Mt 27:1

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 24

Verse 24. Whom God hath raised up. This was the main point, in this part of his argument, which Peter wished to establish. He could not but admit that the Messiah had been in an ignominious manner put to death. But he now shows them that God had also raised him up; had thus given his attestation to his doctrine; and had sent down his Spirit according to the promise which the Lord Jesus made before his death.

Having loosed the pains of death. The word loosed, lusav, is opposed to bind, and is properly applied to a cord, or to anything which is bound. See Mt 21:2; Mr 1:7. Hence it means to free, or to liberate, Luke 13:16; 1 Co 7:27. It is used in this sense here; though the idea of untying or loosing a band is retained, because the word translated pains often means a cord or band.

The pains of death. wdinav tou yanatou. The word translated pains denotes, properly, the extreme sufferings of parturition, and then any severe or excruciating pangs. Hence it is applied also to death, as being a state of extreme suffering. A very frequent meaning of the Hebrew word, of which this is the translation, is cord, or band. This perhaps was the original idea of the word; and the Hebrews expressed any extreme agony under the idea of bands or cords closely drawn, binding and constricting the limbs, and producing severe pain. Thus death was represented under this image of a band that confined men; that pressed closely on them; that prevented escape; and produced severe suffering. For this use of the word

Ps 119:61; Isa 66:7; Jer 22:23; Hos 13:13.

It is applied to death, (Ps 18:5,) "The snares of death prevented me;" answering to the word sorrows in the previous part of the verse. Ps 116:3, "The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell (hades or sheol, the cords or pains that were binding me down to the grave) gat hold upon me." We are not to infer from this that our Lord suffered anything after death. It means simply that he could not be held by the grave, but that God loosed the bonds which had held him there; and that he now set him free who had been encompassed by these pains or bonds, until they had brought him down to the grave. Pain, mighty pain, will encompass us all like the constrictions and bindings of a cord which we cannot loose, and will fasten our limbs and bodies in the grave. Those bands begin to be thrown around us in early life, and they are drawn closer and closer, until we lie panting under the stricture on a bed of pain, and then are still and immovable in the grave; subdued in a manner not a little resembling the mortal agonies of the tiger in the convolutions of the boa constrictor; or like Laocoon and his sons in the folds of the serpents from the island of Tenedos.

It was not possible. This does not refer to any natural impossibility, or to any inherent efficacy or power in the body of Jesus itself; but simply means that, in the circumstances of the case, such an event could not be. Why it could not be, he proceeds at once to show. It could not be consistently with the promises of the Scriptures. Jesus was the Prince of life, (Ac 3:15,) and had life in himself, (Joh 1:4; 5:26) and had power to lay down his life, and to take it again, (Joh 10:18;) and it was indispensable that he should rise. He came, also, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, (Heb 2:14;) and as it was his purpose to gain this victory, he could not be defeated in it by being confined to the grave.

{a} "Whom God" Lu 24:1; Ac 13:30,34; 1 Co 6:14; Eph 1:20; Col 2:12

1 Th 1:10; Heb 13:10; 1 Pe 1:21

{*} "pains" "Bands"

{b} "not possible that" Joh 10:18

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 25

Verses 25-28. For David speaketh, etc. This doctrine that the Messiah must rise from the dead, Peter proceeds to prove by a quotation from the Old Testament. This passage is taken from Ps 16:8-11. It is made from the Greek version of the Septuagint, with only one slight and unimportant change. Nor is there any material change, as will be seen, from the Hebrew. In what sense this Psalm Can be applied to Christ will be seen after we have examined the expressions which Peter alleges.

I foresaw the Lord. This is an unhappy translation. To foresee the Lord always before us conveys no idea, though it may be a literal translation of the passage. The word means to foresee, and then to see before us, that is, as present with us, to regard as being near. It thus implies to put confidence in one; to rely on him, or expect assistance from him. This is its meaning here. The Hebrew is, I expected, or waited for. It thus expresses the petition of one who is helpless and dependent, who waits for help from God. It is often thus used in the Old Testament.

Always before my face. As being always present to help me, and to deliver me out of all my troubles.

He is on my right hand. To be at hand is to be near to afford help. The right hand is mentioned because that was the place of dignity and honour. And David did not design simply to say that he was near to help him, but that he had the place of honour, the highest place in his affections, Ps 109:31. In our dependence on God, we should exalt him. We should not merely regard him as our help, but should at the same time give him the highest place in our affections.

That I should not be moved. That is, that no great evil or calamity should happen to me, that I may stand firm. The phrase denotes to sink into calamities, or to fall into the power of enemies, Ps 62:2,6. This expresses the confidence of one who is in danger of great calamities, and who puts his trust in the help of God alone.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 26

Verse 26. Therefore. Peter ascribes these expressions to the Messiah. The reason why he would exult or rejoice was, that he would be preserved amidst the sorrows that were coming on him, and could look forward to the triumph that awaited him. Thus Paul says, (Heb 12:2) that "Jesus�"for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame," etc. And throughout the New Testament, the shame and sorrow of his sufferings were regarded as connected with his glory and his triumph, Lu 24:26; Php 2:6-9; Eph 1:20,21. In this, our Saviour has left us an example, that we should walk in his steps. The prospect of future glory and triumph should sustain us amid all afflictions, and make us ready, like him, to lie down amid even the corruptions of the grave.

Did my heart rejoice. In the Hebrew this is in the present tense, "my heart rejoices." The word heart here expresses the person, and is the same as saying I rejoice. The Hebrews used the different members to express the person. And thus we say, "every soul perished; the vessel had forty hands; wise heads do not think so; hearts of steel will not flinch," etc.�"Prof. Stuart on Ps 16. The meaning is, because God is near me in time of calamity, and will support and deliver me, I will not be agitated or fear, but will exult in the prospect of the future, in view of the "joy that is set before me."

My tongue was glad. Hebrew, My glory, or my honour exults. The word is used to denote majesty, splendour, dignity, honour. It is also used to express the heart or soul, either because that is the chief source of man's dignity, or because the word is also expressive of the liver, regarded by the Hebrews as the seat of the affections. Ge 49:6, "Unto their assembly, mine honour," i.e. my soul, or myself, "be not thou united." Ps 57:8, "Awake up, my glory, etc. Ps 108:1, "I will sing�"even with my glory." This word the Septuagint translated tongue. The Arabic and Latin Vulgate have also done the same. Why they thus use the word is not clear. It may be because the tongue, or the gift of speech, was that which chiefly contributes to the honour of man, or distinguishes him from the brutal creation. The word glory is used expressly for tongue in Ps 30:12, "To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent."

Moreover also. Truly; in addition to this.

My flesh. My body. See Ac 2:31; 1 Co 5:5. It means here, properly, the body separate from the soul; the dead body.

Shall rest. Shall rest or repose in the grave, free from corruption.

In hope. In confident expectation of a resurrection. The Hebrew word rather expresses confidence than hope. The passage means, My body will I commit to the grave, with a confident expectation of the future, that is, with a firm belief that it will not see corruption, but be raised up." It thus expresses the feelings of the dying Messiah; the assured confidence which he had that his repose in the grave would not be long, and would certainly come to an end. The death of Christians is also, in the New Testament, represented as a sleep, and as repose, (Ac 7:60; 1 Co 15:6,18; 1 Th 4:13,15; 2 Pe 3:4) and they may also, after the example of their Lord, commit their bodies to the dust, in hope. They shall lie in the grave under the assurance of a happy resurrection; and though their bodies, unlike his, shall moulder to their native dust, yet this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality, 1 Co 15:53.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 27

Verse 27. Thou wilt not leave my soul. The word soul, with us, means the thinking, the immortal part of man, and is applied to it whether existing in connexion with the body, or whether separate from it. The Hebrew word translated soul here�" naphsli however, may mean, My spirit, my mind, my life; and may denote here nothing more than me, or myself. It means, properly, breath; then life, or the vital principle, a living being; then the soul, the spirit, the thinking part. Instances where it is put for the individual himself, meaning "me," or "myself," may be seen in Ps 11:1; 35:3,7; Job 9:21.

There is no clear instance in which it is applied to the soul in its separate state, or disjoined from the body. In this place it must be explained in part by the meaning of the word hell. If that means grave, then this word probably means "me;" thou wilt not leave me in the grave. The meaning probably is, "Thou wilt not leave me in sheol, neither," etc. The word leave here means, "Thou wilt not resign me to, or wilt not give me over to it, to be held under its power.

In hell. eiv adou. The word hell, in English, now commonly denotes the place of the future eternal punishment of the wicked. This sense it has acquired by long usage. It is a Saxon word, derived from helan, to cover; and denotes, literally, a covered or deep place, (Webster;) then the dark and dismal abode of departed spirits; and then the place of torment. As the word is used now by us, it by no means expresses the force of the original; and if with this idea we read a passage like the one before us, it would convey an erroneous meaning altogether; although formally the English word perhaps expressed no more than the original. The Greek word hades means, literally, a place devoid of light; a dark, obscure abode; and in Greek writers was applied to the dark and obscure regions where disembodied spirits were supposed to dwell. It occurs but eleven times in the New Testament. In this place it is the translation of the Hebrew, sheol. In Re 20:13,14, it is connected with death. "And death and hell (hades) delivered up the dead which were in them." "And death and hell (hades) were cast into the lake of fire.' See also Re 6:8; 1:18, "I have the keys of hell and of death." In 1 Co 15:55, it means the grave. "O grave (hades), where is thy victory?" In Mt 11:23 it means a deep, profound place, opposed to an exalted one; a condition of calamity and degradation opposed to former great prosperity. "Thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell, (hades.) In Lu 16:23, it is applied to the place where the rich man was after death, in a state of punishment: "In hell (hades) he lifted up his eyes, being in torments." In this place it is connected with the idea of suffering; and undoubtedly denotes a place of punishment. The Septuagint has used this word commonly to translate the word sheol. Once it is used as a translation of the phrase, "the stones of the pit, (Isa 14:19); twice to express silence, particularly the silence of the grave, (Ps 94:17; Ps 115:17 ); once to express the Hebrew for "the shadow of death," (Job 38:17;) and sixty times to translate the word sheol. It is remarkable that it is never used in the Old Testament to denote the word keber, which properly denotes a grave or sepulchre. The idea which was conveyed by the word sheol, or hades, was not properly a grave or sepulchre, but that dark, unknown state, including the grave, which constituted the dominions of the dead. What idea the Hebrews had of the future world, it is now difficult to explain, and is not necessary in the case before us. The word originally denoting simply the state of the dead, the insatiable demands of the grave, came at last to be extended in its meaning, in proportion as they received new revelations, or formed new opinions about the future world. Perhaps the following may be the process of thought by which the word came to have the peculiar meanings which it is found to have in the Old Testament.

(1.) The word death, and the grave, (keber,) would express the abode of a deceased body in the earth.

(2.) Man has a soul, a thinking principle; and the inquiry must arise, what will be its state? Will it die also? The Hebrews never appear to have believed that. Will it ascend to heaven at once? On that subject they had at first no knowledge. Will it go at once to a place of torment? Of that also they had no information at first. Yet they supposed it would live; and the word sheol expressed just this state�"the dark, unknown regions of the dead; the abode of spirits, whether good or bad; the residence of departed men, whether fixed in a permanent habitation, or whether wandering about. As they were ignorant of the size and spherical structure of the earth, they seem to have supposed this region to be situated in the earth, far below us; and hence it is put in opposition to heaven. Ps 139:8: "If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, (sheol,) behold, thou art there." Am 9:2. The most common meaning of the word is, therefore, to express those dark regions, the lower world, the regions of ghosts, etc. Instances of this, almost without number, might be given. See a most striking and sublime instance of this in Isa 14:9: "Hell from beneath is moved for thee," etc.; where the assembled dead are represented as being agitated in all their vast regions at the death of the king of Babylon.

(3.) The inquiry could not but arise, whether all these beings were happy? This point revelation decided; and it was decided in the Old Testament. Yet this word would better express the state of the wicked dead, than the righteous. It conveyed the idea of darkness, gloom, wandering; the idea of a sad and unfixed abode, unlike heaven. Hence the word sometimes expresses the idea of a place of punishment. Ps 9:17: "The wicked shall be turned into hell," etc.; Pr 15:11; Pr 23:14; 17:20; Job 26:6, While, therefore, the word does not mean properly a grave or a sepulchre, yet it does mean often the state of the dead, without designating whether in happiness or woe, but implying the continued existence of the soul. In this sense it is often used in the Old Testament, where the Hebrew word is sheol, and the Greek hades. Ge 37:35: "I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning." I will go down to the dead, to death, to my son, still there existing. Ge 42:38; 44:29: "Ye shall bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave;" Nu 16:30,33; 1 Ki 2:6,9, etc., etc. In the place before us, therefore, the meaning is simply, thou wilt not leave me AMONG THE DEAD. This conveys all the idea. It does not mean literally the grave or the sepulchre; that relates only to the body. This expression refers to the deceased Messiah. Thou wilt not leave him among the dead; thou wilt raise him up. It is from this Message, perhaps, aided by two others, (Ro 10:7; 1 Pe 3:19) the doctrine originated, that Christ "descended," as it is expressed in the creed, "into hell;" and many have invented strange opinions about his going among lost spirits. The doctrine of the Roman Catholic church has been, that he went to purgatory, to deliver the spirits confined there. But if the interpretation now given be correct, then it will follow,

(1.) that nothing is affirmed here about the destination of the human soul of Christ after his death. That he went to the region of the dead is implied, but nothing further.

(2.) It may be remarked, that the Scriptures affirm nothing about the state of his soul in that time which intervened between his death and resurrection. The only intimation which occurs on the subject is such as to leave us to suppose that he was in a state of happiness. To the dying thief Jesus said, "To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise," Lu 23:43. When Jesus died he said, "It is finished;" and he doubtless meant by that, that his sufferings and toils for man's redemption were at an end. All suppositions of any toils or pains after his death are fables, and without the slightest warrant in the New Testament.

Thine Holy One. The word in the Hebrew which is translated here holy one, properly denotes one who is tenderly and piously devoted to another; and answers to the expression used in the New Testament, "my beloved Son." It is also used as it is here by the Septuagint, and by Peter, to denote one that is holy, that is set apart to God. In this sense it is applied to Christ, either as being set apart to this office, or as so pure as to make it proper to designate him by way of eminence the Holy One, or the Holy One of God. It is several times used as the well-known designation of the Messiah. Mr 1:24: "I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God." Lu 4:34 Ac 3:14: "But ye denied the Holy One and the Just," etc. See also Lu 1:35: "That holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."

To see corruption. To see corruption is to experience it, to be made partakers of it. The Hebrews often expressed the idea of experiencing anything by the use of words pertaining to the senses; as, to taste of death, to see death, etc. Corruption here means putrefaction in the grave. The word which is used in the Psalm�" �"shahath, is thus used in Job 17:14: "I have said to corruption, Thou art my father," etc. The Greek word thus used properly denotes this. Thus it is used in Ac 13:34-37. This meaning would be properly suggested by the Hebrew word; and thus the ancient versions understood it. The meaning implied in the expression is, that he of whom the Psalm was written should be restored to life again; and this meaning Peter proceeds to show that the words must have.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 28

Verse 28. Thou hast made known, etc. The Hebrew is, "Thou wilt make known to me," etc. In relation to the Messiah, it means, Thou wilt restore me to life.

The ways of life. This properly means the path to life; as we say, the road to preferment or honour; the path to happiness; the highway to ruin, etc. See Pr 7:25,27. It means, Thou wilt make known to me life itself, i.e. thou wilt restore me to life. The expressions in the Psalm are capable of this interpretation without doing any violence to the text; and if the preceding verses refer to the death and burial of the Messiah, then the natural and proper meaning of this is, that he would be restored to life again.

Thou shalt make me full of joy. This expresses the feelings of the Messiah in view of the favour that would thus be showed him; the resurrection from the dead, and the elevation to the right hand of God. It was this which is represented as sustaining him�"the prospect of the joy that was before him, in heaven, Heb 12:2; Eph 1:20-22.

With thy countenance. Literally, "with thy face," that is, in thy presence. The words countenance and presence mean the same thing; and denote favour, or the honour and happiness provided by being admitted to the presence of God. The prospect of the honour that would be bestowed on the Messiah, was that which sustained him. And this proves that the person contemplated in the Psalm expected to be raised from the dead, and exalted to the presence of God. That expectation is now fulfilled; and the Messiah is now filled with joy in his exaltation to the throne of the universe. He has "ascended to his Father and our Father;" he is "seated at the right hand of God;" he has entered on that "joy which was set before him;" he is "crowned with glory and honour;" and all things are put under his feet." In view of this, we may remark,

(1.) that the Messiah had full and confident expectation that he would rise from the dead. This the Lord Jesus always evinced, and often declared it to his disciples.

(2.) If the Saviour rejoiced in view of the glories before him, we should also. We should anticipate with joy an everlasting dwelling in the presence of God, and the high honour of sitting "with him on his throne, as he overcame, and is set down with the Father on his throne."

(3.) The prospect of this should sustain us, as it did him, in the midst of persecution, calamity, and trials. They will soon be ended; and if we are his friends, we shall "overcome," as he did, and be admitted to "the fulness of joy" above, and to the "right hand" of God, where "are pleasures for evermore."

{*} "countenance", or "Presence"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 29

Verse 29. Men and brethren. This passage of the Psalms Peter now proves could not relate to David, but must have reference to the Messiah. He begins his argument in a respectful manner, addressing them as his brethren, though they had just charged him and the others with intoxication. Christians should use the usual respectful forms of salutation, whatever contempt and reproaches they may meet with from opposers.

Let me freely speak. That is, "It is lawful or proper to speak with boldness, or openly, respecting David." Though he was eminently a pious man; though venerated by us all as a king; yet it is proper to say of him, that he is dead, and has returned to corruption. This was a delicate way of expressing high respect for the monarch whom they all honoured; and yet evincing boldness in examining a passage of Scripture which probably many supposed to have reference solely to him.

Of the patriarch David. The word patriarch properly means the head or ruler of a family; and then the founder of a family, or an illustrious ancestor. It was commonly applied to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, etc., by way of eminence; the illustrious founders of the Jewish nation, Heb 7:4; Ac 7:8,9.

It was also applied to the heads of the families, or the chief men of the tribes of Israel, 1 Ch 24:31; 2 Ch 19:8, etc. It was thus a title of honour, denoting high respect. Applied to David, it means that he was the illustrious head or founder of the royal family, and implies Peter's intention not to say anything disrespectful of such a king; at the same time, that he freely canvassed a passage of Scripture which had been supposed to refer to him.

Dead and buried. The record of that fact they had in the Old Testament. There had been no pretence that he had risen, and therefore the Psalm could not apply to him.

His sepulchre is with us. Is in the city of Jerusalem. Sepulchres were commonly situated without the walls of cities and the limits of villages. The custom of burying in towns was not commonly practised. This was true of other ancient nations as well as the Hebrews, and is still in eastern countries, except in the case of kings and very distinguished men, whose ashes are permitted to repose within the walls of a city. 1 Sa 28:3, "Samuel was dead�"and Israel buried him in Ramah, even in his own city." 2 Ki 21:18, "Manasseh was buried in the garden of his own house." 2 Ch 16:14. Asa was buried in the city of David. 2 Ki 14:20. The sepulchres of the Hebrew kings were on Mount Zion, 2 Ch 21:20; 24:25; 28:27; 32:33; 24:16; 2 Ki 14:20.

David was buried in the city of David, (1 Ki 2:10,) with his fathers, that is, on mount Zion, where he built a city called after his name, 2 Sa 5:7. Of what form the tombs of the kings were made is not certainly known. It is almost certain, however, that they would be constructed in a magnificent manner. The tombs were commonly excavations from rocks, or natural caves; and sepulchres cut out of the solid rock, of vast extent, are known to have existed. The following account of the tomb called "the sepulchre of the kings" is abridged from Maundrell: "The approach is through an entrance cut out of a solid rock, which admits you into an open court about forty paces square, cut down into the rock. On the south side is a portico nine paces long and four broad, hewn likewise out of the solid rock. At the end of the portico is the descent to the sepulchres. The descent is into a room about seven or eight yards square, cut out of the natural rock. From this room there are passages into six more, all of the same fabric with the first. In every one of these rooms, except the first, were coffins placed in niches in the sides of the chamber," etc. (Maundrell's Travels, p. 76.) If the tombs of the kings were of this form, it is clear that they were works of great labour and expense. Probably also there were, as there are now, costly and splendid monuments erected to the memory of the mighty dead.

Unto this day. That the sepulchre of David was well known and honoured, is clear from Josephus. Antiq., b. vii., c. xv., 3. "He (David) was buried by his son Solomon in Jerusalem with great magnificence, and with all the other funeral pomps with which kings used to be buried. Moreover, he had immense wealth buried with him: for a thousand and three hundred years afterwards, Hyrcanus, the high priest, when he was besieged by Antiochus, and was desirous of giving him money to raise the siege, opened one room of David's sepulchre, and took out three thousand talents. Herod, many years afterward, opened another room, and took away a great deal of money," etc. See also Antiq., b. xiii., c. viii., § 4. The tomb of a monarch like David would be well known and had in reverence. Peter might, then, confidently appeal to their own belief, and knowledge, that David had not been raised from the dead. No Jew believed or supposed it. All, by their care of his sepulchre, and by the honour with which they regarded his grave, believed that he had returned to corruption. The Psalm, therefore, could not apply to him.

{1} "let me speak freely" or, "I may"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 30

Verse 30. Therefore. As David was dead and buried, it was clear that he could not have referred to himself it. this remarkable declaration. It followed that he must have had reference to some other one.

Being a prophet. One who foretold future events. That David was inspired, is clear, 2 Sa 23:2. Many of the prophecies relating to the Messiah are found in the Psalms of David. Ps 22:1, comp. Mt 27:46; Lu 24:44; Ps 22:18, comp. Mt 27:35; Ps 69:21, comp. Mt 27:34,48; Ps 69:26, comp. Ac 1:20.

And knowing. Knowing by what God had said to him respecting his posterity.

Had sworn with an oath. The places which speak of God as having sworn to David are found in Ps 89:3,4, "I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, Thy seed will I establish," etc. And Ps 132:11, "The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne." Ps 89:35,36. The promise to which reference is made in all these places is in 2 Sa 7:11-16.

Of the fruit of his loins. Of his descendants. See 2 Sa 7:12; Ge 35:11; 46:26; 1 Ki 8:19, etc.

According to the flesh. That is, so far as the human nature of the Messiah was concerned, he would be descended from David. Expressions like these are very remarkable. If the Messiah was only a man, they would be unmeaning. They are never used in relation to a mere man; and they imply that the speaker or writer supposed that there pertained to the Messiah a nature which was not according to the flesh. See Ro 1:3,4.

He would raise up Christ. That is, the Messiah. To raise up seed, or descendants, is to give them to him. The promises made to David in all these places had immediate reference to Solomon, and to his descendants. But it is clear that the New Testament writers understood them as referring to the Messiah. And it is no less clear that the Jews understood that the Messiah was to be descended from David, Mt 12:23; 21:9; 22:42,45; Mr 11:10; Joh 7:42, etc. In what way these promises that were made to David were understood as applying to the Messiah, it may not be easy to determine. The fact, however, is clear. The following remarks may throw some light on the subject. The kingdom which was promised to David was to have no end; it was to be established for ever. Yet his descendants died, and all other kingdoms changed. The promise likewise stood by itself; it was not made to any other of the Jewish kings; nor were similar declarations made of surrounding kingdoms and nations. It came, therefore, gradually to be applied to that future King and kingdom which was the hope of the nation; and their eyes were anxiously fixed on the long-expected Messiah. At the time that he came, it had become the settled doctrine of the Jews that he was to descend from David, and that his kingdom was to be perpetual. On this belief of the prophecy the apostles argued; and the opinions of the Jews furnished a strong point by which they could convince them that Jesus was the Messiah. Peter affirms that David was aware of this, and that he so understood the promise as referring not only to Solomon, but in a far more important sense to the Messiah. Happily, we have a commentary of David himself, also, as expressing his own views of that promise. That comment is found particularly in Psalms 2, 22, 69, and 16. In these Psalms there can be no doubt that David looked forward to the coming of the Messiah; and there can be as little that he regarded the promise made to him as extending to his coming and his reign.

It may be remarked, that there are some important variations in the manuscripts in regard to this verse. The expression "according to the flesh" is omitted in many MSS., and is now left out by Griesbach in his New Testament. It is omitted also by the ancient Syriac and Ethiopic versions, and by the Latin Vulgate.

To sit on his throne. To be his successor in his kingdom. Saul was the first of the kings of Israel. The kingdom was taken away from him and his posterity, and conferred on David and his descendants. It was determined that it should be continued in the family of David, and no more go out of his family, as it had from the family of Saul. The peculiar characteristic of David as king, or that which distinguished him from the other kings of the earth, was, that he reigned over the people of God. Israel was his chosen people; and the kingdom was over that nation. Hence he that should reign over the people of God, though in a manner somewhat different from David, would be regarded as occupying his throne, and as being his successor. The form of the administration might be varied, but it would still retain its prime characteristic, as being a reign over the people of God. In this sense the Messiah sits on the throne of David. He is his descendant and successor. He has an empire over all the friends of the Most High. And as that kingdom is destined to fill the earth, and to be eternal in the heavens, so it may be said that it is a kingdom which shall have no end. It is spiritual, but not the less real; defended not with carnal weapons, but not the less really defended; advanced not by the sword and the din of arms, but not the less really advanced against principalities, and powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places; not under a visible head and earthly monarch, but not less really under the Captain of salvation, and the King of kings.

{a} "being a prophet" 2 Sa 23:2

{b} "sworn with an oath" 2 Sa 7:12,13; Ps 132:11

{c} "oath to him" Heb 6:17

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 31

Verse 31. He seeing this before, etc. By the spirit of prophecy. From this it. appears that David had distract views of the great doctrines pertaining to the Messiah.

Spake, etc. See Ps 16.

That his soul, etc. See Barnes "Ac 2:27".

{*} "before" or, "Forseeing"

{a} "spake of the resurrection" 1 Pe 1:11,12

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 32

Verse 32. This Jesus. Peter, having shown that it was predicted that the Messiah would rise, now affirms that it was done in the case of Jesus. If it were a matter of prophecy, all objection to the truth of the doctrine was taken away, and the only question was, whether there was evidence that this had been done. The proof of this Peter now alleges, and offers his own testimony, and that of his brethren, to the truth of this great and glorious fact.

We all are witnesses. It seems probable that Peter refers here to the whole one hundred and twenty who were present, and who were ready to attest it in any manner. The matter which was to be proved was, that Jesus was seen alive after he had been put to death. The apostles were appointed to bear witness of this. And we are told by Paul, (1 Co 15:6,) that he was seen by more than five hundred brethren, that is, Christians, at one time. The hundred and twenty assembled on this occasion were doubtless part of the number, and were ready to attest this. This was the proof that Peter alleged; and the strength of this proof was, and should have been, perfectly irresistible.

(1.) They had seen him themselves. They did not conjecture it, or reason about it; but they had the evidence on which men act every day, and which must be regarded as satisfactory�"the evidence of their own senses.

(2.) The number was such that they could not be imposed on. If one hundred and twenty persons could not prove a plain matter of fact, nothing could be established by testimony; there could be no way of arriving at any facts.

(3.) The thing to be established was a plain matter. It was not that they saw him rise. That they never pretended. Impostors would have done thus. But it was that they saw him, talked, walked, ate, drank with him, being alive AFTER he had been crucified. The fact of his death was matter of Jewish record; and no one called it in question. The only fact for Christianity to make out was that he was seen alive afterwards; and this was attested by many witnesses.

(4.) They had no interest in deceiving the world in this thing. There was no prospect of pleasure, wealth, or honour in doing it.

(5.) They offered themselves now as ready to endure any sufferings, or to die, in attestation of the truth of this event.

{b} "This Jesus" Ac 2:24

{c} "We are all witnesses" Lu 24:48

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 33

Verse 33. Therefore being by the right hand. The right hand among the Hebrews was often used to denote power; and the expression here means, not that he was exalted to the right hand of God, but by his power. He was raised from the dead by his power, and borne to heaven, triumphant over all his enemies. The use of the word right hand to denote power is common in the Scriptures. Job 40:14, "Thine own right hand can save thee." Ps 17:7, "Thou savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee." Ps 18:35; Ps 20:6; 21:8; 44:3; 60:5, etc.

Exalted. Constituted King and Messiah in heaven. Raised up from his condition of humiliation to the glory which he had with the Father before the world was, Joh 17:5.

And having received, etc. The Holy Ghost was promised to the disciples before his death, Joh 14:26; 15:26; 16:13-15.

It was expressly declared,

(1.) that the Holy Ghost would not be given except the Lord Jesus should return to heaven, (Joh 16:7) and

(2.) that this gift was in the power of the Father, and that he would send him, Joh 14:26; 15:26. This promise was now fulfilled; and those who witnessed the extraordinary scene before them could not doubt that it was the effect of Divine power.

Hath shed forth this, etc. This power of speaking different languages, and declaring the truth of the gospel. In this way Peter accounts for the remarkable events before them. It could not be produced by new wine, Ac 2:15. It was expressly foretold, Ac 2:16-21. It was predicted that Jesus would rise, Ac 2:22-31. The apostles were witnesses that he had risen, and that he had promised that the Holy Spirit should descend; and the fulfillment of this promise was a rational way of accounting for the scene before them. It was unanswerable; and the effect on those who witnessed it was such as might be expected.

{d} "Therefore being by the" Ac 5:31; Php 2:9

{e} "having received" Joh 16:7,13; Ac 1:4

{f} "hath shed forth this" Ac 10:45; Eph 4:8

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 34

Verses 34, 35. For David is not ascended into the heavens. That is, David has not risen from the dead, and ascended to heaven. This further shows that Ps 16 could not refer to David, but must refer to the Messiah. Great as they esteemed David, and much as they were accustomed to apply these expressions of the Scripture to him, yet they could not be applicable to him. They must refer to some other being; and especially that passage which Peter now proceeds to quote. It was of great importance to show that these expressions could not apply to David, and also that David bore testimony to the exalted character and dignity of the Messiah. Hence Peter here adduces David himself as affirming that the Messiah was to be exalted to a dignity far above his own. This does not affirm that David was not saved, or that his spirit had not ascended to heaven, but that he had not been exalted in the heavens in the sense in which Peter was speaking of the Messiah.

But he saith himself. Ps 110:1.

The Lord. The small capitals used in translating the word LORD in the Bible, denote that the original word is Jehovah. The Hebrews regarded this as the peculiar name of God, a name incommunicable to any other being. It is not applied to any being but God in the Scriptures. The Jews had such a reverence for it that they never pronounced it; but when it occurred in the Scriptures they pronounced another name, Adoni. Here it means, Jehovah said, etc.

My Lord. This is a different word in the Hebrew: it is Adoni �"

It properly is applied by a servant to his master, or a subject to his sovereign, or is used as a title of respect by an inferior to a superior. It means here, "Jehovah said to him whom I, David, acknowledge to be my superior and sovereign. Thus, though he regarded him as his descendant according to the flesh, yet he regarded him also as his superior and Lord. By reference to this passage our Saviour confounded the Pharisees, Mt 22:42-46. That the passage in this Psalm refers to the Messiah is clear. Our Saviour, in Mt 22:42-46, expressly applied it thus, and in such a manner as to show that this was the well-understood doctrine of the Jews. See Barnes "Mt 22:42, etc.

{g} "The Lord" Ps 110:1; Mt 22:44

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 35

Verse 35. No Barnes text on this verse.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 36

Verse 36. Therefore let all, etc. "Convinced by the prophecies, by our testimony, and by the remarkable scene exhibited on the day of Pentecost, let all be convinced that the true Messiah has come, and has been exalted to heaven."

House of Israel. The word house often means family; let all the family of Israel, i.e. all the nation of the Jews, know this.

Know assuredly. Be assured, or know without any hesitation, or possibility of mistake. This is the sum of his argument, or his discourse, he had established the points which he purposed to prove; and he now applies it to his hearers.

God hath made. God hath appointed, or constituted. See Ac 5:31.

That same Jesus. The very person who had suffered, He was raised with the same body, and had the same soul; was the same being, as distinguished from all others. So Christians, in the resurrection, will be the same beings that they were before they died.

Whom ye have crucified. See Ac 2:23. There was nothing better fitted to show them the guilt of having done this than the argument which Peter used. He showed them that God had sent him; that he was the Messiah; that God had showed his love for him, in raising him from the dead. The Son of God, and the hope of their nation, they had put to death, He was not an impostor; nor a man sowing sedition; nor a blasphemer; but the Messiah of God; and they had imbrued their hands in his blood. There is nothing better fitted to make sinners fear and tremble, than to show them that in rejecting Christ, they have rejected God; in refusing to serve him, they have refused to serve God. The crime of sinners has a double malignity, as committed against a kind and lovely Saviour, and against the God who loved him, and appointed him to save men. Comp. Ac 3:14,15.

Both Lord. The word lord properly denotes proprietor, master, or sovereign, here it means clearly that God had exalted him to be the King so long expected; and that he had given him dominion in the heavens; or, as we should say, ruler of all things. The extent of this dominion may be seen in Joh 17:2; Eph 1:20-22, etc. In the exercise of this office, he now rules in heaven and on earth; and will yet come to judge the world. This truth was particularly fitted to excite their fear. They had murdered their Sovereign, now shown to be raised from the dead, and entrusted with infinite power. They had reason, therefore, to fear that he would come forth in vengeance, and punish them for their crimes. Sinners, opposing the Saviour, are at war with their living and mighty Sovereign and Lord. He has all power; and it is not safe to contend against the Judge of the living and the dead.

And Christ. Messiah. They had thus crucified the hope of their nation; imbrued their hands in the blood of Him to whom the prophets had looked, and put to death that Holy One, the prospect of whose coming had sustained the most holy men of the world in affliction, and cheered them when they looked on to future years. That hope of their fathers had come, and they had put him to death; and it is no wonder that the consciousness of this, that a sense of guilt, and shame, and confusion, should overwhelm their minds, and lead them to ask in deep distress what they should do.

{h} "house of Israel" Zec 13:1

{i} "God hath made that" Ac 5:31

{k} "both Lord" Joh 3:35

{l} "and Christ" Ps 2:2,6-8

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 37

Verse 37. Now when they heard this. When they heard this declaration of Peter, and this proof that Jesus was the Messiah. There was no fanaticism in his discourse; it was cool, close, pungent reasoning. He proved to them the truth of what he was saying, and thus prepared the way for this effect.

They were pricked in their heart. The word translated were pricked, katenughsan, is not used elsewhere in the New Testament. It properly denotes to pierce or penetrate with a needle, lancet, or sharp instrument; and then to pierce with grief, or acute pain of any kind. It answers precisely to our word compunction. It implies also the idea of sudden as well as acute grief. In this case it means that they were suddenly and deeply affected with anguish and alarm at what Peter had said. The causes of their grief may have been these:

(1.) Their sorrow that the Messiah had been put to death by his own countrymen.

(2.) Their deep sense of guilt in having clone this. There would be mingled here a remembrance of ingratitude, and a consciousness that they had been guilty of murder of the most aggravated and horrid kind, that of having killed their own Messiah.

(3.) The fear of his wrath. He was still alive, exalted to be their Lord, and entrusted with all power. They were afraid of his vengeance; they were conscious that they deserved it; and they supposed that they were exposed to it.

(4.) What they had done could not be undone. The guilt remained; they could not wash it out. They had imbrued their hands in the blood of innocence; and the guilt of that oppressed their souls. This expresses the usual feelings which sinners have when they are convicted of sin.

Men and brethren. This was an expression denoting affectionate earnestness. Just before this they mocked the disciples, and charged them with being filled with new wine, Ac 2:13. They now treated them with respect and confidence. The views which sinners have of Christians and Christian ministers are greatly changed when they are under conviction for sin. Before that, they may deride and oppose them; then, they are glad to be taught by the obscurest Christian�"and even cling to a minister of the gospel as if he could save them by his own power.

What shall we do? What shall we do to avoid the wrath of this crucified and exalted Messiah? They were apprehensive of his vengeance, and they wished to know how to avoid it. Never was a more important question asked than this. It is the question which all convicted sinners ask. It implies an apprehension of danger; a sense of guilt, and a readiness to yield the will to the claims of God. This was the same question asked by Paul, (Ac 9:6,) "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" and by the jailer, (Ac 16:29,30,) "He came trembling�"and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" The state of mind in this case�"the case of a convicted sinner�"consists in

(1.) a deep sense of the evil of the past life; remembrance of a thousand crimes perhaps before forgotten; a pervading and deepening conviction that the heart, and conversation, and life has been evil, and deserves condemnation.

(2.) apprehension about the justice of God; alarm when the mind looks upward to him, or onward to the day of death and judgment.

(3.) An earnest wish, amounting sometimes to agony, to be delivered from this sense of condemnation, and this apprehension of the future.

(4.) a readiness to sacrifice all to the will of God, to surrender the governing purpose of the mind, and to do what he requires. In this state the soul is prepared to receive the offers of eternal life; and when the sinner comes to this, the offers of mercy meet his case, and he yields himself to the Lord Jesus, and finds peace.

In regard to this discourse of Peter, and this remarkable result, we may observe,

(1.) that this is the first discourse which was preached after the ascension of Christ, and is a model which the ministers of religion should imitate.

(2.) It is a clear and close argument. There is no ranting, no declamation, nothing but truth presented in a clear and striking manner. It abounds with proof of his main point; and supposes that his hearers were rational beings, and capable of being influenced by truth. Ministers have no right to address men as incapable of reason and thought; nor to imagine that because they are speaking on religious subjects, that therefore they are at liberty to speak nonsense.

(3.) Though these were eminent sinners, and had added to the crime of murdering the Messiah that of deriding the Holy Ghost and the ministers of the gospel, yet Peter reasoned with them coolly, and endeavoured to convince them of their guilt. Men should be treated as endowed with reason, and as capable of seeing the force and beauty of the great truths of religion.

(4.) The arguments of Peter were adapted to make this impression on their minds, and to impress them deeply with the sense of their guilt. He proved to them that they had been guilty of putting the Messiah to death; that God had raised him up; and that they were now in the midst of the scenes which established one strong proof of the truth of what he was saying. No class of truths could have been so well adapted to make an impression of their guilt as these.

(5.) Conviction for sin is a rational process on a sinner's mind. It is the proper state produced by a view of the past sins. It is suffering truth to make an appropriate impression; suffering the mind to feel as it ought to feel. The man who is guilty, ought to be willing to see and confess it. It is no disgrace to confess an error, or to feel deeply when we know we are guilty. Disgrace consists in a hypocritical desire to conceal crime; in the pride that is unwilling to avow it; in the falsehood which denies it. To feel it, and to acknowledge it, is the mark of an open and ingenuous mind.

(6.) These same truths are adapted still to produce conviction for sin. The sinner's treatment of the Messiah should produce grief and alarm. He did not murder him�"but he has rejected him; he did not crown him with thorns�"but he has despised him; he did not insult him when hanging on the cross�" but he has a thousand times insulted him since; he did not pierce his side with the spear�"but he has pierced his heart by rejecting him, and contemning his mercy. For these things he should weep. In the Saviour's resurrection he has also a deep interest. He rose as the pledge that we may rise: and when the sinner looks forward, he should remember that he must meet the ascended Son of God, The Saviour reigns; he lives, Lord of all. The sinner's deeds now are aimed at his throne, and his heart, and his crown. All his crimes are seen by his Sovereign; and it is not safe to mock the Son of God on his throne, or to despise Him who will soon come to judgment. When the sinner feels these truths, he should tremble, and cry out, What shall I do?

(7.) We see here how the Spirit operates in producing conviction of sin. It is not in an arbitrary manner; it is in accordance with truth, and by the truth. Nor have we a right to expect that he will convict and convert men, except as the truth is presented to their minds. They who desire success in the gospel should present clear, striking, and impressive truth; for such only God is accustomed to bless.

(8.) We have, in the conduct of Peter and the other apostles, a striking instance of the power of the gospel. Just before, Peter, trembling and afraid, had denied his Master with an oath. Now, in the presence of the murderers of the Son of God, he boldly charged them with their crime, and dared their fury. Just before, all the disciples forsook the Lord Jesus, and fled. Now, in the presence of his murderers, they lifted their voice, and proclaimed their guilt and danger, even in the city where he had been just arraigned and put to death. What could have produced this change but the power of God! And is there not proof here that a religion which produces such changes came from heaven?

{a} "pricked in their heart" Eze 7:16; Zec 12:10

{b} "what shall we do" Ac 9:6; 16:30

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 38

Verse 38. Then Peter said unto them. Peter had been the chief speaker, though others had also addressed them. He now, in the name of all, directed the multitude what to do.

Repent. See Barnes "Mt 3:2".

Repentance implies sorrow for sin as committed against God, with a purpose to forsake it. It is not merely a fear of the consequences, or of the wrath of God in hell. It is such a view of sin as evil in itself, as to lead the mind to hate it and forsake it. Laying aside all view of the punishment of sin, the true penitent hates it. Even if sin was the means of procuring him happiness; if it would promote his gratification, and be unattended with any future punishment, he would hate it and turn from it. The mere fact that it is evil, and that God hates it, is a sufficient reason why those who are truly penitent should hate and forsake it. False repentance dreads the consequences of sin; true repentance dreads sin itself. These persons whom Peter addressed had been merely alarmed; they were afraid of wrath, and especially of the wrath of the Messiah. They had no true sense of sin as an evil, but were simply afraid of punishment. This alarm Peter did not regard as by any means genuine repentance. Such conviction for sin would soon wear off, unless repentance became thorough and complete. Hence he told them to repent, to turn from sin, to exercise sorrow, for it is an evil and bitter thing, and to express their sorrow in the proper manner. We may learn here,

(1.) that there is no safety in mere conviction for sin: it may soon pass off, and leave the soul as thoughtless as before.

(2.) There is no goodness or holiness in mere alarm or conviction. The devils tremble. A man may fear, who yet has a firm purpose to do evil if he can do it with impunity.

(3.) Many are greatly troubled and alarmed who yet never repent. There is no situation where souls are so easily deceived as here. Alarm is taken for repentance; trembling for godly sorrow; and the fear of wrath is taken to be the true fear of God.

(4.) True repentance is the only thing in such a state of mind that can give any relief. An ingenuous confession of sin, a solemn purpose to forsake it, and a true hatred of it, is the only thing that can give the mind true composure. Such is the constitution of the mind, that nothing else will furnish relief. But the moment we are willing to make an open confession of guilt, the mind is delivered of its burden, and the convicted soul finds peace. Till this is done, and the hold on sin is broken, there can be no peace.

(5.) We see here what direction is to be given to a convicted sinner. We are not to direct him to wait; nor to suppose that he is in a good way; nor to continue to seek; nor to call him a mourner; nor to take sides with him, as if God were wrong and harsh; nor to tell him to read, and search, and postpone the subject to a future time. We are to direct him to repent; to mourn over his sins, and to forsake them. Religion demands that he should at once surrender himself to God by genuine repentance; by confession that God is right, and that he was wrong; and by a firm purpose to live a life of holiness.

Be baptized. See Barnes "Mt 3:6".

The direction which Christ gave to his apostles was, that they should baptize all who believed, Mt 28:19; Mr 16:16. The Jews had not been baptized; and a baptism now would be a profession of the religion of Christ, or a declaration made before the world that they embraced Jesus as their Messiah. It was equivalent to saying that they should publicly and professedly embrace Jesus Christ as their Saviour. The gospel requires such a profession; and no one is at liberty to withhold it. And a similar declaration is to be made to all who are inquiring the way to life. They are to exercise repentance; and then, without any unnecessary delay, to evince it in the ordinances of the gospel. If men are unwilling to profess religion, they have none. If they will not, in the proper way, show that they are truly attached to Christ, it is proof that they have no such attachment. Baptism is the application of water, as expressive of the need of purification, and as emblematic of the influences from God that can alone cleanse the soul. It is also a form of dedication to the service of God.

In the name of Jerua Christ. Not eiv, but epi. The usual form of baptism is into the name of the Father, etc., eiv. Here it does not mean to be baptized by the authority of Jesus Christ; but it means to be baptized for him and his service; to be consecrated in this way, and by this public profession, to him, and to his cause. The name of Jesus Christ means the same as Jesus Christ himself. To be baptized to his name is to be devoted to him. The word name is often thus used. And the profession which they were to make amounted to this: A confession of sins; a hearty purpose to turn from them; a reception of Jesus as the Messiah, and as their Saviour; and a determination to become his followers, and to be devoted to his service. Thus, (1 Co 10:2) to be "baptized unto Moses," means to take him as the leader and guide. It does not follow that in administering the ordinance of baptism they used only the name of Jesus Christ. It is much more probable that they used the form prescribed by the Saviour himself, (Mt 28:19;) though as the peculiar mark of a Christian is that he receives and honours Jesus Christ, this name is used here as implying the whole. The same thing occurs in Ac 19:5.

For the remission of sins. Not merely the sin of crucifying the Messiah, but of all sins. There is nothing in baptism itself that can wash away sin. That can be done only by the pardoning mercy of God through the atonement of Christ. But baptism is expressive of a willingness to be pardoned in that way; and a solemn declaration of our conviction that there is no other way of remission. He who comes to be baptized, comes with a professed conviction that he is a sinner, that there is no other way of mercy but in the gospel, and with a professed willingness to comply with the terms of salvation, and receive it as it is offered through Jesus Christ.

And ye shall receive, etc. The gift of the Holy Ghost here does not mean his extraordinary gifts, or the power of working miracles; but it simply means, you shall partake of the influences of the Holy Ghost as far as they may be adapted to your case, as far as may be needful for your comfort, and peace, and sanctification. There is no evidence that they were all endowed with the power of working miracles; nor does the connexion of the passage require us thus to understand it. Nor does it mean that they had not been awakened by his influences. All true conviction is from him, Joh 16:8-10. But it is also the office of the Spirit to comfort, to enlighten, to give peace, and thus to give evidence that the soul is born again. To this, probably, Peter refers; and this all who are born again, and profess faith in Christ, possess. There is peace, calmness, joy; there is evidence of piety, and that evidence is the product of the influences of the Spirit. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace," etc., Ga 5:22,24.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 39

Verse 39. For the promise. That is, the promise respecting the particular thing of which he was speaking�"the influences of the Holy Ghost. This promise he had adduced in the beginning of his discourse, (Ac 2:17,) and he now applies it to them. As the Spirit was promised to descend on Jews and their sons and daughters, it was applicable to them in the circumstances in which they then were. The only hope of lost sinners is in the promises of God; and the only thing that can give comfort to a soul that is convicted of sin, is the hope that God will pardon and save.

To you. To you Jews, even though you have crucified the Messiah. The promise had especial reference to the Jewish people.

To your children. In Joel, to their sons and daughters, who should, nevertheless, be old enough to prophesy. Similar promises occur in Isa 44:3, "I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring," and Isa 59:21. In these and similar places, their descendants or posterity are denoted. It does not refer to children as children, and should not be adduced to establish the propriety of infant baptism, or as applicable particularly to infants. It is a promise, indeed, to parents, that the blessings of salvation shall not be confined to parents, but shall be extended also to their posterity. Under this promise parents may be encouraged to train up their children for God; to devote them to his service; believing that it is the gracious purpose of God to perpetuate the blessings of salvation from age to age.

To all. To the whole race; not limited to Jews.

Afar off. To those in other lands. It is probable that Peter here referred to the Jews who were scattered in other nations; for he does not seem yet to have understood that the gospel was to be preached to the Gentiles. See Ac 10. Yet the promise was equally applicable to the Gentiles as the Jews; and the apostles were afterwards brought to understand it, Ac 10; Ro 10:12,14-20; Ro 11. The Gentiles are sometimes clearly indicated by the expression "afar off," Eph 2:13,17; and they are represented as having been brought nigh by the blood of Christ. The phrase is equally applicable to those who have been far off from God by their sins and their evil affections. To them also the promise is extended if they will return.

Even as many, etc. The promise is not to those who do not hear the gospel, nor to those who do not obey it; but it is to those to whom God, in his gracious Providence, shall send it. He has the power and right to pardon. The meaning of Peter is, that the promise is ample, full, free; that it is fitted to all, and may be applied to all; that there is no defect or want in the provisions or promises; but that God may extend it to whomsoever he pleases. We see here how ample and full are the offers of mercy. God is not limited in the provisions of his grace; but the plan is applicable to all mankind. It is also the purpose of God to send it to all men; and he has given a solemn charge to his church to do it. We can not reflect but with deep pain on the fact that these provisions have been made, fully made; that they are adapted to all men; and yet that by his people they have been extended to so small a portion of the human family. If the promise of life is to all, it is the duty of the church to send to all the message of eternal mercy.

{a} "promise is unto you" Joe 2:28

{b} "and to all that are afar" Eph 2:13,17

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 40

Verse 40. Many other words, This discourse, though one of the longest in the New Testament, is but an outline. It contains, however, the substance of the plan of mercy; and is admirably arranged to obtain its object.

Testify. Bear witness to. He bore witness to the promises of Christianity; to the truths pertaining to the danger of sinners; and to the truth respecting the character of that generation.

Exhort. He entreated them by arguments and promises.

Save yourselves. This expression here denotes�"Preserve yourselves from the influence, opinions, and fate of this generation. It implies that they were to use diligence and effort to deliver themselves. God deals with men as free agents. He calls upon them to put forth their own power and effort to be saved. Unless men put forth their own strength and exertion, they will never be saved. When they are saved, they will ascribe to God the praise for having inclined them to seek him, and for the grace whereby they are saved.

This generation. This age or race of men, the Jews then living. They were not to apprehend danger from them from which they were to deliver themselves, but they were to apprehend danger from being with them, united in their plans, designs, and feelings. From the influence of their opinions, etc., they were to escape. That generation was signally corrupt and wicked. See Mt 23:12,39; 16:4; Mr 8:38. They had crucified the Messiah; and they were for their sins soon to be destroyed.

Untoward. "Perverse, refractory, not easily guided or taught."�" (Webster.) The same character our Saviour had given of that generation in Mt 11:16-19. This character they had shown uniformly. They were smooth, cunning, plausible; but they were corrupt in principle, and wicked in conduct. The Pharisees had a vast hold on the people. To break away from them was to set at defiance all their power and doctrines; to alienate themselves from their teachers and friends; to brave the power of those in office, and those who had long claimed the right of teaching and guiding the nation. The chief danger of those who were now awakened was from this generation; that they would deride, or denounce, or persecute them, and induce them to abandon their seriousness, and turn back to their sins. And hence Peter exhorted them at once to break off from them, and give themselves to Christ. We may hence learn,

(1.) that if sinners will be saved, they must make an effort. There is no promise to any unless they will exert themselves.

(2.) The principal danger which besets those who are awakened arises from their former companions. They are often wicked, cunning, rich, and mighty. They may be their kindred, and will seek to drive off their serious impressions by derision, or argument, or persecution. They have a mighty hold on the affections; and they will seek to use it toprevent those who are awakened from becoming Christians.

(3.) Those who are awakened should resolve at once to break off from their evil companions, and unite themselves to Christ and his people. There may be no other way in which this can be done than by resolving to forsake the society of those who are infidels, and scoffers, and profane. They should forsake the world, and give themselves up to God, and resolve to have only so much intercourse With the world as may be required by duty, and as may be consistent with a supreme purpose to live to the honour of God.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 41

Verse 41. They that gladly received. The word rendered gladly means freely, cheerfully, joyfully. It implies that they did it without compulsion, and with joy. Religion is not compulsion, They who become Christians do it cheerfully; and do it rejoicing in the privilege of becoming reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. Though so many received his word and were baptized, yet it is implied that there were others who did not. It is probable that there were multitudes assembled who were alarmed, but who did not receive the word with joy. In all revivals there are many who become alarmed, who are anxious about their souls, but who refuse the gospel, and again become thoughtless, and are ruined.

His word. The message which Peter had spoken respecting the pardon of sins through Jesus Christ.

Were baptized. That is, those who professed a readiness to embrace the offers of salvation. The narrative plainly implies that this was done the same day. Their conversion was instantaneous. The demand on them was to yield themselves at once to God. And their profession was made, and the ordinance which sealed their profession administered without delay.

And the same day. The discourse of Peter commenced at nine o'clock in the morning, Ac 2:15. How long it continued it is not said; but the Ceremony of admitting them to the church and of baptizing them was evidently performed on the same day. The mode in which this is done is not mentioned; but it is highly improbable that in the midst of the city of Jerusalem three thousand persons were wholly immersed in one day. The whole narrative supposes that it was all done in the city; and yet there is no probability that there were conveniences there for immersing so many persons in a single day. Besides, in the ordinary way of administering baptism by immersion, it is difficult to conceive that so many persons could have been immersed in so short a time. There is, indeed, here no positive proof that they were not immersed; but the narrative is one of those incidental circumstances, often much more satisfactory than philological discussion, that show the extreme improbability that all this was done by wholly immersing them in water. It may be further remarked, that here is an example of very quick admission to the church. It was the first great work of grace under the gospel. It was the model of all revivals of religion. And it was doubtless intended that this should be a specimen of the manner in which the ministers of religion should conduct in regard to admissions to the Christian church. Prudence is indeed required; but this example furnishes no warrant for advising persons who profess their willingness to obey Jesus Christ, to delay uniting with the church. If persons give evidence of piety, of true hatred of sin, and of attachment to the Lord Jesus, they should unite themselves to his people without delay.

There were added. To the company of disciples, or to the followers of Christ.

Souls. Persons, Comp. 1 Pe 3:20; Ge 12:5. It is not affirmed that all this took place in one part of Jerusalem, or that it was all done at once; but it is probable that this was what was afterwards ascertained to be the fruit of this day's labour, the result of this revival of religion. This was the first effusion of the Holy Spirit under the preaching of the gospel; and it shows that such scenes are to be expected in the church, and that the gospel is fitted to work a rapid and mighty change in the hearts of men.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 42

Verse 42. And they continued stedfastly. They persevered in, or they adhered to. This is the inspired record of the result. That any of these apostatized is nowhere recorded, and is not to be presumed. Though they had been suddenly converted, though suddenly admitted to the church, though exposed to much persecution and contempt, and many trials, yet the record is that they adhered to the doctrines and duties of the Christian religion. The word rendered continued stedfastly, proskarterountev, means attending one, remaining by his side, not leaving or forsaking him.

The apostles' doctrine. This does not mean that they held or believed the doctrines of the apostles, though that was true; but it means that they adhered to, or attended on, their teaching or instruction. The word doctrine has now a technical sense, and means a collection and arrangement of abstract views supposed to be contained in the Bible. In the Scriptures the word means simply teaching; and the expression here denotes that they continued to attend on their instructions. One evidence of conversion is a desire to be instructed in the doctrines and duties of religion, and a willingness to attend on the preaching of the gospel.

And fellowship. The word rendered fellowship, koinwnia is often rendered communion. It properly denotes having things in common, or participation, society, friendship. It may apply to anything which may be possessed in common, or in which all may partake. Thus all Christians have the same hope of heaven; the same joys; the same hatred of sin; the same enemies to contend with. Thus they have the same subjects of conversation, of feeling, and of prayer; or they have communion in these things. And thus the early Christians had their property in common. The word here may apply to either or to all�"to their conversation, their prayers, their dangers, or their property; and means that they were united to the apostles, and participated with them in whatever befell them. It may be added, that the effect of a revival of religion is to unite Christians more and more, and to bring those who were before separated to union and love. Christians feel that they are a band of brethren, and that however much they were separated before they became Christians, now they have great and important interests in common; united in feelings, in interest, in dangers, in conflicts, in opinions, and in the hopes of a blessed immortality.

Breaking of bread. The Syriac renders this "the Eucharist," or the Lord's Supper. It cannot, however, be determined whether this refers to their partaking of their ordinary food together, or to feasts of charity, or to the Lord's Supper. The bread of the Hebrews was made commonly into cakes, thin, hard, and brittle, so that it was broken instead of being cut. Hence, to denote intimacy or friendship, the phrase to break bread together would be very expressive, in the same way as the Greeks denoted it by drinking together, sumposion. From the expression used in Ac 2:44, comp. with Ac 2:46, that they had all things common, it would rather seem to be implied that this referred to the participation of their ordinary meals. The action of breaking bread was commonly performed by the master or head of a family, immediately after asking a blessing.�"(Lightfoot.)

In prayers. This was one effect of the influence of the, Spirit, and an evidence of their change. A genuine revival will be always followed by a love of prayer.

{a} "continued stedfastly" 1 Co 11:2; Heb 10:25

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 43

Verse 43. And fear came. That is, there was great reverence or awe. The multitude had just before derided them, (Ac 2:13;) but so striking and manifest was the power of God on this occasion, that it silenced all clamours, and produced a general veneration and awe. The effect of a great work of God's grace is commonly to produce an unusual seriousness and solemnity in a community, even among those who are not convicted. It restrains, subdues, and silences opposition.

Every soul. Every person, or individual; that is, upon the people generally; not only on those who became Christians, but upon the multitudes who witnessed these things. All things were fitted to produce this fear: the recent crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth; the wonders that attended that event; the events of the day of Pentecost; and the miracles performed by the apostles, were all fitted to diffuse solemnity, and thought, and anxiety through the community.

Many wonders and signs. See Barnes "Ac 2:22".

This was promised by the Saviour Mr 16:17. Some of the miracles which they wrought are specified in the following chapters.

{a} "many wonders and signs" Mr 16:17

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 44

Verse 44. All that believed. That is, that believed that Jesus was the Messiah; for that was the distinguishing point by which they were known from others.

Were together�"epi to auto�". Were united; were joined in the same thing. It does not mean that they lived in the same house, but they were united in the same community; or engaged in the same thing. They were doubtless often together in the same place for prayer and praise. One of the best means for strengthening the faith of young converts is for them often to meet together for prayer, conversation, and praise.

Had all things common. That is, all their property or possessions. See Ac 4:32-37; 5:1-10. The apostles, in the time of the Saviour, evidently had all their property in common stock, and Judas was made their treasurer. They regarded themselves as one family, having common wants; and there was no use or propriety in their possessing extensive property by themselves. Yet even then it is probable that some of them retained an interest in their property which was not supposed to be necessary to be devoted to the common use. It is evident that John thus possessed property which he retained, Joh 19:27. And it is clear that the Saviour did not command them to give up their property into a common stock; nor did the apostles enjoin it. Ac 5:4: "Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power?" It was therefore perfectly voluntary; and was evidently adapted to the peculiar circumstances of the early converts. Many of them came from abroad. They were from Parthia, and Media, and Arabia, and Rome, and Africa, etc. It is probable, also, that they now remained longer in Jerusalem than they had at first proposed. And it is not at all improbable that they would be denied now the usual hospitalities of the Jews, and excluded from their customary kindness, because they had embraced Jesus of Nazareth, who had been just put to death. In these circumstances, it was natural and proper at they should share together their property while they remained together.

{b} "had all things common" Ac 4:32,34

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