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Bible Commentaries

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible
Acts 3

 

 

Verse 1

1.We saw before that many signs were showed by the hands of the apostles; now Luke reciteth one of many for example’s sake, after his common custom; namely, that a lame man, which was lame of his feet from his mother’s womb, was perfectly restored to his limbs. And he doth diligently gather all the circumstances which serve to set forth the miracle. If it had been that his legs had been out of joint, or if it had been some disease coming by some casualty, it might have been the more easily cured. But the default of nature (164) could not have been so easily redressed. When as he saith that he was carried, we gather thereby that it was no light halting, but that this man did lie as if his legs had been dead. Forasmuch as he was wont daily to ask alms, hereby all the people might the better know him. In that being healed, he walked in the temple at the time of prayer, this served to spread abroad the fame of the miracle. Furthermore, this doth not a little set forth the same, that being lifted up and set upon his feet, he leapeth up therewithal, and walketh joyfully.

Went up together Because these words, επι το αυτο, doth no more signify place than time, this latter sense seemeth better to agree with the text of Peter, yet, because it is of no great importance, I leave it indifferent. That it is called the ninth hour of prayer, when as the day began to draw towards night. (165) For seeing the day from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof had twelve hours, as I have said elsewhere, all that time was divided into four parts. So that by the ninth is meant the last portion of the day; as the first hour did continue unto the third, the third unto the sixth, the sixth unto the ninth. Hence may we gather, by a probable conjecture, that that hour was appointed for the evening sacrifice. Furthermore, if any man ask, whether the apostles went up into the temple that they might pray according to the rite of the law, I do not think that that is a thing so likely to be true, as that they might have better opportunity to spread abroad the gospel. And if any man will abuse this place, as if it were lawful for us to use and take up superstitious worshippings, whilst that we are conversant amongst the ignorant and weak, his reason shall be frivolous. The Lord appointed that the Jews should offer sacrifice morning and evening, (Exodus 29:41.) By this exercise were they taught to begin and end the day with calling upon the name of God, and with worshipping him, (166) (Numbers 28:2.) Therefore Peter and John might freely come into the temple, which was consecrated to God; neither did they pollute themselves, seeing they called upon the God of Israel, that they might thereby declare their godliness. First, in that the Lord would have the older people to observe the appointed hours, (167) we gather thereby that the Church cannot be without certain discipline. And even at this day, were it profitable for us to have such meetings daily, unless our too [too] much sluggishness did let us. And whereas the apostles go up at that hour, hereby we gather that we must foreslow [neglect] no opportunity that is offered us for the furtherance of the gospel.


Verse 3

3.He asketh an alms. We see how God restored this lame man to his limbs contrary to his expectation. Because he thought that his disease was incurable, he was only careful for maintenance. That is given him which he durst never have asked. In like sort God doth oftentimes prevent us, neither doth he stay until he be provoked. (168) And hence can we not gather any occasion of slothfulness, as if the Lord did therefore meet us of his own accord, that being idle and slothful we may suffer the Lord to do good unto us. For we are commanded to pray, and therefore let us not foreslow [neglect] our duty. (169) But, first of all, under the person of the lame man, we have set before us an example of a man that is not yet illuminated by faith, that he may know how to pray aright. Such doth God prevent, as it is needful, even of his own accord. Therefore, when as he restoreth our souls not only to health, but also to life, he himself is to himself the cause hereof. For this is the beginning of our calling, that he may make those things to be which are not; that he may show himself unto those who seek not after him, (Romans 4:17.) Furthermore, howsoever we be already taught by faith to pray unto God, yet, because we do not always feel our miseries, it cometh not into our mind to seek for remedy; therefore the Lord bringeth the same freely and unlooked for. Finally, howsoever we be bent to pray, yet doth he exceed our hope and petitions with his goodness.


Verse 4

4.Look upon us. Peter doth not thus speak before he be certain of the purpose and intent of God. And surely in these words he commandeth him to hope for some singular and unwonted benefit; yet here may a question be moved, whether they had power to work miracles so often as they would? I answer, that they were ministers of God’s power in such sort, that they did attempt nothing of their own will or proper motion, but the Lord wrought by them, when he knew that it was expedient it should be so. Hereby it came to pass that they healed one and not all. Therefore, as in other things, they had the Spirit of God to be their guide and director, so also in this point. Therefore, before such time as Peter commandeth the lame man to arise, he did east and fasten his eyes upon him; this steadfast looking upon him was not without some peculiar motion of the Spirit. Hereby it cometh to pass that he speaketh so surely (and safely, without all fear) of the miracle. Furthermore, he meant by this word to provoke the lame man to receive the grace of God; yet doth he look for nothing but for an alms.


Verse 6

6.Silver and gold. Peter doth truly excuse himself, that he doth want that help which the lame man did require. And therefore doth he declare, that if he were able to relieve his poverty he would willingly do it; like as every man ought to consider with himself what the Lord hath given him, that he may therewith help his neighbors. For what store soever God giveth to every man, he will have the same to be an instrument and help to exercise love. Therefore he saith, that he giveth that which he hath. This was at the first a trick of mockage, (170) in that Peter beginneth to speak of his poverty, after that he had brought the lame man into a rare hope, as if he meant to mock a gaping crow; but he comforteth him immediately, to the end the miracle might be had in greater estimation by the comparison. That is horrible wickedness, in that the Pope, when as he is created, doth most unshamefastly [shamelessly] abuse this place, making thereof a comical, or rather a scoffing play. There be two cells, or places made of stone, in the one whereof when he sitteth, and the people ask an alms, using these words of Peter, he casteth abroad crosses in the air with his fingers. When he is brought into the next tell, or place, he hath bags full of money. Then his angels cry unto him,

“He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor,”
(
Psalms 112:9.)

I have made mention hereof, to the end all men may see that Satan doth questionless reign there, where they do so manifestly mock the sacred Word of God. And to the end I may return unto the former sentence, it is evident enough that Peter was instructed by a certain and sure revelation, when as he saith that he hath the gift of healing.

In the name of Jesus. He saith that this is the work and benefit of Christ, that he restoreth to the cripple the use of his feet, for name is taken for power and empire, or government. Neither must we dream that there is any magical force in the sounding or pronouncing of the word, as the Jews do dote about the word Jehovah. To be short, Peter meant to declare that he was nothing but a minister, and that Christ was the author of the miracle. For this ought to have been, and was his care, that Christ might be made known unto the world, and that his name might be sanctified. But why doth he give Christ this epithet, or title, of Nazareth? I leave to other men their own judgment; but I think thus: Forasmuch as Christ was thus called in contempt, Peter meant of set purpose to express that that Jesus of Nazareth whom they had crucified, and whose name was despised and without glory amongst the Jews, and was to the most of them detestable, was nevertheless the Messias promised of God, and that all power was given unto him of the rather; as Paul saith, that he preacheth Christ and him crucified, (1 Corinthians 2:2.)

Arise and walk. This might seem to be a very ridiculous thing. For the cripple might have readily objected, Why hast thou not first given me legs and feet? For this is a plain mock, when as thou biddest a man without feet to go. But he believed Peter’s words; and he, which was at the first so slow, doth now with a ready and joyful mind embrace God’s benefit. Whereby appeareth both the force of the word, and also the fruit of faith. The force of the word is double, both in that the cripple is so touched that he doth forthwith obey without delay; and in that it giveth strength to his dead members, and doth, after a sort, renew the man. And faith also hath her reward, in that the cripple obeyeth him which commandeth him to rise not in vain. Therefore we see how God worketh by his Word, to wit, when he giveth success to the preaching thereof, that it may pierce into the minds of men; secondly, when he giveth those things with his hand which are promised there. Moreover, he suffereth not faith to be void, but she doth indeed truly enjoy all those good things which she looketh for, and which are offered unto her in the same Word. And we must remember that which I have already said, that we have in this history a type (171) or figure of our spiritual restoring; namely, that as the Word, laid hold on by faith, did restore the cripple to his limbs, so the Lord pierceth into our souls by the Word, that he may restore the same. And, first of all, he speaketh by man’s mouth, and pricketh us forward by the obedience of faith; that done, he moveth our hearts inwardly by his Spirit, that the Word may take lively root in us; finally, he reacheth out his hand, and by all means he finisheth his work in us. We gather out of Matthew that miracles must be thus handled.


Verse 9

9.And all the people saw. He beginneth now to declare the fruit of the miracle, to wit, that the cripple began to show his thankfulness by praising God, and that all the people were brought into great wondering. And here is a double fruit. For he which was healed doth acknowledge and set forth the benefit of God; on the other side, the people is moved, and the fame is spread abroad, many come to see it. And whereas Luke saith that they were filled with wondering, it doth only declare a preparation, which a more full proceeding (172) (and going forward) did at length follow. For it was necessary that they should go forward, because this their wondering had served to no end of itself, but did rather make them astonied and amazed, than bring them (from their own proceedings) unto God.

Therefore it was, as it were, the foundation of the building which was to come, in that the people was touched with amazedness. For if we pass over the works of God contemptibly or carelessly, we shall never be able to profit by them. Furthermore, this place cloth teach us what miracles do work of themselves in men; to wit, that they breed a confused amazedness. For although the Lord doth call us straightway unto himself, by showing plainly his goodness and power there, yet such is the weakness of our nature, that we stumble or faint in the midway, until such time as we be holpen by doctrine.

Let us, therefore, learn reverently to consider the works of God, that the wondering at them may make an entrance for doctrine. For when doctrine is cold and unprofitable with us, God doth justly punish our unthankfulness by this means, because we have despised the glory of his works. Again, because we are not so quick of sight, that we can see so much in the works of God alone, as is sufficient, let us learn to join therewithal the help of doctrine. (173) To be brief, the one ought not to be separated from the other. Which thing experience doth sufficiently teach us. For hereby it came to pass that the world did so wickedly abuse miracles.

The Papists do object unto us miracles again and again. Let us suppose that they be true, whereof they make such boast, yet do they greatly err in this, that they wrest them to a wrong end; to wit, that they may darken the name of God, and infect the pure truth of the gospel with their inventions. For whence come so many superstitious worshippings of saints, save only from the abuse of miracles? For when any miracle is wrought, men must needs be moved. And because they are deaf when they should hear the Word, and do not mark what God cloth mean, Satan doth craftily take an occasion of superstition by our amazedness. (174) As, for example, I will acknowledge the power of God in a miracle. If it were wrought by Peter, Satan will by and by put this in my head, and will say thus: (175) Dost thou not see that this is a man of God? (176) therefore thou dost owe unto him divine honor. The same thing had befallen the Jews when they were amazed, unless Peter’s sermon had called them back into the right way. But in Popery, where none did call them back or reprove them, (177) the preposterous wondering of men did easily get the upper hand. Wherefore, we must so much the more (178) seek for medicine out of the Word, that doctrine may direct us unto the right end, being lifted up (179) with the miracles.


Verse 11

11.In the porch. It is like that there was a porch built in that place where Solomon’s porch was sometimes, and that it took the name therefrom. For the old temple was pulled down, but Zerubbabel and Ezra, ill the re-edifying and new building of the same temple, had imitated the same, so nigh as they could possibly devise. Afterward Herod renewed the same, and made it far more gorgeous, but that vain cost which he had bestowed had not yet blotted out the remembrance of Solomon in the hearts of the people. And Luke nameth the same as a most famous place, whereunto the people ran together (by heaps, to celebrate their feasts unto God at the times appointed.)


Verse 12

12.Men of Israel He beginneth his sermon with a reproving of the people. And yet doth he not simply reprove them because they wonder; for that was altogether profitable and worthy praise; but because they do wickedly ascribe unto men that praise which is due to the work of God. As if he should say, Ye do amiss, in that you stay in us, and stand gazing upon us, whereas you ought rather to look upon God and Christ. Therefore, this is to be amazed evilly, when as our minds do stay in men. And we must note that he condemneth the respect of men; as if, saith he, we by our own power and virtue had done this. Therefore there is an error and corruption in this, if we attribute that unto the godliness and power of men which is proper to God and Christ. And, as concerning power, no man will deny that it cometh of God; yet when they have confessed this in one word, they do not cease to take from God his right, to the end they may adorn the creatures with that which they take from him; as we see the Papists place the power of God in the saints; yea, they include his power in a stone or stock of wood, so soon as the image is consecrated to Barbara or Chrysogonus. But, notwithstanding, let us suppose that they do not offend in that former member; yet do they foolishly think that they have done their duty toward God, when as they leave him the power, and assign the miracles unto the godliness of saints. For why do they run unto them, when they will obtain either rain or fair weather, or be delivered from diseases, unless they do imagine that they have by their godliness deserved that God should grant them this right and privilege? This is, therefore, but a childish starting-hole, (180) when they confess that God is the author of the power; but they thank the godliness of saints for those benefits which they have received. Howsoever they color the matter, we must always know this, that Peter doth generally condemn those which do so look unto men in miracles, that they think that their holiness is the cause thereof. This is the first part of the sermon, wherein he reproveth superstition. And we must note his manner and order of teaching. For because men are inclined to nothing more than to fall from God unto the creatures, it is very expedient to prevent this vice in time. And if the people were forbidden to look unto the apostles, much more doth the Spirit draw us away from calling upon every petty saint.


Verse 13

13, 14.The God of Abraham. He addeth a remedy now in calling them back unto Christ. And the sum is this, That this is God’s purpose in those miracles which he worketh by the apostles to set forth the glory of his Christ; whereupon it followeth that all those do deal disorderly who set up Peter, or any other, whatsoever he be, forasmuch as all men must decrease, and Christ alone must be excellent, (John 3:30.) Here appeareth a manifest difference between Christ and the apostles. First of all, he is the author, they are only the ministers; secondly, this is the lawful end, that he alone may have the glory; and as for them there is no respect to be had of them as concerning glory; for certainly they which do glorify any in miracles besides Christ, they set themselves flatly against the counsel of God.

He maketh mention of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to the end he may declare unto the people that he meaneth nothing less than to lead them away from the old and ancient worship of the true God, which they had received of the fathers. Furthermore, God hath given himself this title, that he might (dissever and) distinguish himself by some mark from idols; for we do not comprehend God in his essence, which cannot be seen, and which is infinite; therefore, he useth such means as agree best with us, to bring us to the knowledge of him. The Turks do boast that they do worship God, which is the creator of heaven and earth; but before they come at heaven they vanish away. Therefore, to the end God might keep his people from vain and erroneous inventions, he kept them in his covenant; therefore, when he calleth himself the God of Abraham, he did briefly teach that which Moses declareth more at large, (Deuteronomy 30:12,)

“Say not, Who shall ascend into heaven? Who shall go down into the depth? Or who shall sail over the seas? The word is nigh,” etc.

Furthermore, as amongst the Jews the name of the holy fathers was in high estimation, so Peter doth closely (181) tell them, that they were no better than other men, without the only begotten Son of God. And at this day God will be known by a more evident mark yet, when as he calleth himself the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us now return unto Peter; he saith that he bringeth in no new religion, that. he may draw away the people from the law and the prophets; for if he should attempt this, God had forbidden them to hear him, (Deuteronomy 13:3.) Like as Paul teacheth, that we must retain one foundation in the spiritual building, (1 Corinthians 3:11,) because, so soon as we depart even but a little from Christ, there can nothing ensue but ruin. And hereby also we may easily discern in what sense he calleth God the God of the fathers; for neither doth he take this for a general maxim, that what manner of worship soever the fathers had, we must continue the same, as the Papists do foolishly vaunt that they do follow the manner of worshipping which was used amongst the fathers; for Peter doth expressly reckon up Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, from whom true religion did proceed, and by whom it was divinely delivered; whereby he doth signify unto us, that we must not follow all fathers, whereof many did grow out of kind, and became altogether unlike to the first fathers; that this honor is due to the children of God alone, and that others are to be refused; which thing the prophets do also beat in (182) everywhere:

“Walk not in the ways of your fathers,” etc.,
(
Ezekiel 20:18.)

Whom ye have delivered He mingleth with doctrine a most sharp chiding, according as the matter did require; for it was impossible to bring them truly unto God, unless they were first brought to the knowledge of their sins; neither doth he only lightly touch them, but he doth very gravely show them the horribleness of that offense which they had committed. To this end tendeth that comparison, that they delivered him to be put to death, whom Pilate would have loosed; and again, that, pardoning a murderer, they put the Prince of life to death; that they did reject the just and holy. Men must be so stricken, that being brought to know their guiltiness, they may earnestly fly unto the remedy of pardon. Such vehemence and earnestness did Peter also use in his first sermon; he saith afterward thatGod raised him up, whereby they ought to know that, in putting Christ to death, they did strive against God; although Peter had respect unto an higher thing, to wit, that their cruelty did no whit impair the glory of Christ, because God had nevertheless restored him to life. When as he saith, that he and his fellows in office were witnesses of the resurrection, his meaning is, that they saw it with their eyes, (Luke 24:48.) Therefore, this is referred not only unto the apostolical function, but because they saw Christ with their eyes after that he was risen from the dead; although I do also grant that this second thing is comprehended under these words, because it is likely that Peter doth make mention of that function which was committed unto him, to the end he may purchase the greater authority.


Verse 16

16.And in the faith of his name. When as he saith in the faith of his name, and his name; and again, the faith which is by him; this repetition is a token of a fervent affection, for because he was wholly given to set forth the glory of Christ, he beateth in [inculcateth] the same thing oftentimes. Moreover, we see that when Paul is occupied about the showing and setting forth of the grace of Christ, he thinketh that he hath never spoken enough touching the same; and surely such is the wicked nature of men, that Christ cannot be so highly extolled, and so preached, that his honor can remain sound unto him. Let us, therefore, remember that Peter did use such variety and plenty of words, to the end he might stay us in Christ. As touching the phrase, when as he saith, his name in the faith of his name hath strengthened, he showeth both the cause and the manner; the power of Christ had healed the cripple but by faith. When as he saith, the faith which is by him, by this word he signifieth unto us that our faith cannot arise up unto God unless it be grounded in Christ, and se, consequently, that this our faith doth look unto Christ and stay itself upon him, and so he showeth that there cat be no right faith in God when we pass over this mean.

Furthermore, as he said before, that he and the other apostles were witnesses of Christ’s life, so he doth now declare that this life was manifestly proved unto the Jews by a sign or effect, because they see the cripple healed, in whom they had an excellent and evident token of the Divine power of Christ. And when as in this last member he maketh faith the cause of this soundness, he layeth unthankfulness to their charge by the way, unless they give faith her due praise; and although faith may be referred as well unto the man that was healed as unto the apostles, yet we need not to stand much about this manner, because the power of the gospel is set forth by synecdoche.


Verse 17

17.Because it was to be doubted, lest, being cast down with despair, they should refuse his doctrine, he doth a little lift them up. We must so temper our sermons that they may profit the hearers, for unless there be some hope of pardon left, the terror and fear of punishment doth harden men’s hearts with stubbornness; for that of David is true, That we fear the Lord when we perceive that he is unto us favorable, and easy to be pacified, (Psalms 130:4.) Thus doth Peter lessen the sin of his nation, because of their ignorance; for it had been impossible for them to have suffered and endured this conscience, if they had denied the Son of God, and delivered him to be slain, wittingly and willingly; and yet will he not flatter them, when as he saith that they did it through ignorance; but he doth only somewhat mitigate his speech, lest they should be overwhelmed and swallowed up of despair. Again, we must not so take the words as if the people did sin simply of ignorance, for under this there did lie hid hypocrisy; but as wickedness or ignorance doth abound, the action is named of the one or the other. This is, therefore, Peter’s meaning, that they did it rather through error and a blind zeal, than through any determined wickedness; but a question may be moved here, if ally man have offended wittingly and willingly, whether he shall surely fall into despair or not? I answer, that he doth not make mention in this place of all manner of sin; but only of the denying of Christ, and of the extinguishing of the grace of God, so much as in them did lie. If any man be desirous to know more concerning this, he may read the first chapter of the First Epistle to Timothy, (Titus 1:13.)

As did also your rulers. First, this seemeth to be an improper comparison, for the scribes and the priests were carried headlong with a wonderful madness, and they were full of wicked unfaithfulness; (183) but the perverse study and zeal of the law did prick forward the people. Again, the people were incensed against Christ, inasmuch as their rulers did provoke them thereunto. I answer, that they were not all of one mind, for without doubt many of them were like unto Paul, unto whom that doth truly appertain, which he writeth elsewhere of the princes and rulers of this world, if they had known the wisdom of God they would never have crucified the Lord of glory; therefore, he speaketh not generally of all the rulers; but if any of them be curable, them doth he invite to repentance.


Verse 18

18.And God Hereby it appeareth more plainly to what end he made mention of ignorance; for when he telleth them that God hath accomplished those things which he had foretold, he doth so touch their offense in the death of Christ, that it turneth to their salvation. Ignorance, saith he, hath made you guilty, yet God hath brought that to pass which he had determined, that Christ should redeem you by his death. This is a most notable consideration, when as we ponder and consider with ourselves, that through the wonderful counsel of God our evils are turned to another end to us, yet this doth no whir excuse us, for so much as in us lieth we cast away (184) ourselves by sinning; but that conversion whereof I have spoken is a notable work of God’s mercy, whereof we must speak, and which we must extol with humility. The Jews did what they could to extinguish all hope of life in the person of Christ; and yet, nevertheless, that death gave life as well to them as to the whole world. We must also remember that which we saw elsewhere, lest there should any false and absurd opinion creep in, that Christ was laid open to the lust of the wicked, that God is made the chief author by whose will his only Son did suffer.


Verse 19

19.Repent We must note, that when he exhorteth unto repentance, he doth also declare that there is remission of sins prepared for them before the face of God. For, as I said of late, no man can be stirred up to repentance, unless he have salvation set before him; but he which doth despair of pardon, being, as it were, given over unto destruction already, doth not ‘fear to run headlong against God obstinately. Hereby it cometh to pass that the Papists cannot deliver the doctrine of repentance. They babble, indeed, very much concerning the same; but because they overthrow the hope of grace, it cannot be that they should persuade their disciples unto the study of repentance. Moreover, I confess that they babble a little touching forgiveness of sins; but because they leave men’s souls in doubt and in fearfulness, and, furthermore, do cast them as it were into a labyrinth, (or place out of which they know not how to come,) this part of the doctrine being corrupt, they confound the other also.


Verse 20

20.That when If we follow Erasmus and the old interpreter, this sentence shall be unperfect, (185) which may be made perfect, thus: When the time of refreshing shall come, you may also enjoy this refreshing; when Christ shall come to judge the world, you may find him a redeemer and not a Judge. But because Beza doth fitly translate it, After that they shall come, it is better to retain that which is not so racked; (186) so you resolve it thus: That sins are so forgiven against the day of the last judgment; because, unless we be cited to appear before God’s judgment-seat we are not greatly careful to pacify God. First of all, we must note, that he setteth before them the day of judgment, to the end the former exhortation may take the greater effect. For there is nothing which doth more prick us, than when we are taught that we must once give an account. For so long as our senses are holden and kept in this world, they are drowned, as it were, in a certain drowsiness, (187) that I may so call it. Wherefore the message of the last judgment must sound as a trumpet to cite us to appear before the judgment-seat of God. For then at last being truly awaked, we begin to think of a new life. In like sort, when Paul preached at Athens, God saith, that he doth now will all men to repent; because he hath appointed a day wherein he will judge the world, (Acts 17:30.) The sum is this, that Christ, who is now unto us a Master, when as he teacheth us by the gospel, is appointed of the Father to be a Judge, and shall come in his due time; and that, therefore, we must obey his doctrine betimes, that we may gather the fruit of our faith then.

But some man may object, that Peter speaketh otherwise of the last day. For this doth not serve to make them afraid, when he saith, the time of refreshing. I answer, that there is a double prick, wherewith the faithful are pricked forward when as they are told of the last judgment. For the profit of faith doth not appear in this world, yea rather it seemeth to go well with the despisers of God; but the life of the godly is full of miseries. Therefore our hearts should oftentimes faint and quail, unless we should remember that the day of rest shall come, which shall quench all the heat of our trouble, and make an end of our miseries. The other prick whereof I spoke is this, when as the fearful judgment of God causeth us to shake off delicacy and drowsiness. So Peter mixeth in this place threatenings with promises, partly to the end he may allure the Jews unto Christ, and partly that he may prick them forward with fear. Furthermore, this is a thing much used in the Scripture, as it speaketh either unto the reprobate, or unto the elect, sometimes to make the day of the Lord doleful and fearful, sometimes to make the same pleasant and to be wished for. Peter therefore doth very well, who, whilst that he putteth the Jews in good hope of pardon, doth make the day of Christ pleasant to them, to the end they may desire the same.

And shall send him. He saith expressly that Christ shall be Judge, to the end they may know that the contempt of the gospel shall not be unpunished. For how should not Christ punish the same? In the meanwhile, this doth greatly comfort the faithful, when as they know that it shall be in his hand to give salvation, who doth now promise and offer the same. He addeth, moreover, that he shall come who is now preached unto them. Whereby he taketh away all excuse of ignorance. As if he should say, Christ is preached unto you now before he come to judge the world; to the end that those who will embrace him may receive the fruit of their faith at that day; and to the end that others, who shall refuse him, may be punished for their unbelief. Although the Grecians do read this two ways; for some books (188) have προκεκηρυγμενον, that is, preached before; and other some προκεχειρισμενον, that is, showed, or set before their eyes. But both have one sense, to wit, that Christ is not offered unto them in vain now by the doctrine of the gospel; because he shall be sent the second time by his Father to be a Judge, armed and prepared to render vengeance, unless they embrace him now for their Redeemer.


Verse 21

21.Whom the heaven must contain. Because men’s senses are always bent and inclined towards the gross and earthly beholding of God and Christ, the Jews might think with themselves that Christ was preached, indeed, to be raised up from the dead, yet could they not tell where he was; for no man did show them where he was. Therefore Peter preventeth them, when he saith that he is in heaven. Whereupon it followeth that they must lift up their minds on high, to the end they may seek Christ with the eyes of faith, although he be far from them, (189) although he dwell without the world in the heavenly glory. But this is a doubtful (190) speech; because we may as well understand it that Christ is contained or comprehended in the heavens, as that he doth comprehend the heavens. Let us not therefore urge the word, being of a doubtful signification; but let us content ourselves with that which is certain, that we must seek for Christ nowhere else save only in heaven, whilst that we hope for the last restoring of all things; because he shall be far from us, until our minds ascend high above the world.

Until the time of restoring As touching the force and cause, Christ hath already restored all things by his death; but the effect doth not yet fully appear; because that restoring is yet in the course, and se, consequently, our redemption, forasmuch as we do yet groan under the burden of servitude. For as the kingdom of Christ is only begun, and the perfection thereof is deferred until the last day, so those things which are annexed thereunto do now appear only in part. Therefore, if at this day we see many things confused in the world, let this hope set us upon foot and refresh us, that Christ shall once come that he may restore tall things. In the mean season, if we see the relics of sin hang on us, if we be environed on every side with divers miseries, if the world be full of wasting and scattering abroad, let us bewail these miseries, yet so that we uphold with the hope of restoring. And this is the reason why Christ doth not appear by and by, (191) because the warfare of the Church is not yet full, (192) whose time, seeing it is appointed by God, it is not for us to prevent the same. (193)

Which he spoke. I do not expound this of the times alone, but I refer it unto the whole period; so that the sense is this: That whatsoever he had spoken before of the kingdom of Christ is witnessed by all the prophets. Certes, the gospel doth win no small credit hereby, that so soon as God began to show himself to the world, he did always set Christ before them; after that he began to speak unto the fathers, he did always lay this foundation of doctrine. By the same argument Paul commendeth the gospel, both in the beginning of his Epistle to the Romans, (Romans 1:1,) and also in the end, (Romans 16:25,) to wit, that it is no new thing, but promised even from the beginning. (194) This is true antiquity, which is able to purchase credit to doctrine: when as God himself is the author, the holy prophets the witnesses, and the continual course of times confirmeth the testimony. This confirmation was especially necessary for the Jews, who being brought up in the doctrine of the law, ought to admit nothing but that which agreeth therewith. Therefore Peter doth command them only to mind those things which the prophets have testified of Christ.


Verse 22

22.By this argument he proveth that he goeth not about to cause them to revolt from Moses, because it is a part of the law to take heed to and obey this chief teacher. Here might a doubt arise, why Peter thought it more convenient to cite this testimony of Moses than others, seeing there were many others in readiness far more plain; but he did this for this cause, because he intreateth in this place of the authority of doctrine; and this was the best way to bring the Jews to be Christ’s disciples. For he should have preached in vain of all other things, unless they had been persuaded that his doctrine was reverently to be received. This is therefore the thing which Peter aimeth at, to bring them to hear Christ willingly, as the master whom God hath appointed to teach them.

But here ariseth a question, which hath in it great difficulty; to wit, in that Peter applieth that unto the person of Christ which Moses spoke generally of the prophets. For although he make mention of a prophet in the singular number, yet the text [context] doth plainly declare, that he speaketh not of one alone; but that this word is put indefinitely. For after that Moses had forbidden the people to give themselves unto the superstitions of the Gentiles, by turning aside unto enchanters and soothsayers, he showeth them therewithal a remedy, whereby they may avoid all vanity; to wit, if they depend wholly upon the Word of God alone. By this means he promiseth that God will be careful at all times to send them prophets, that they may teach them aright. As if he should say, God will never suffer you to be destitute of prophets, of whom you may learn whatsoever shall be profitable for you to know. And Moses saith expressly, of thy brethren, to the end the Jews may know that the oracles of God are to be sought and set no where else, seeing that God had appointed unto them teachers of the kindred of Abraham. He addeth further,like unto me that they may know that they were not to hear God only at one time, or by the mouth of one man; but as God proceedeth to teach us by divers ministers throughout the continual course of time, so must we hold on in the obedience of the word. Now, the Jews were wont to reverence Moses; therefore, he will have them to give like honor to the prophets. I know that many would fain restrain it unto Christ. They catch at this word, whereas Moses doth testify that the prophet shall be like unto him, (Deuteronomy 18:15,) whereas, notwithstanding, it is written, that there arose none like unto Moses. I confess that there is in both places the same note of likeness, yet in a diverse sense. For, in the second place, the likeness or equality is expressed, as it doth plainly appear. They catch also at another thing, that the prophet shall far excel Moses, of whom he beareth witness as a crier or herald. But this is never a whit stronger, because Moses goeth about to bring to pass that the word of God may be believed by whomsoever it be brought.

Therefore, there is no cause why we should set ourselves to be laughed to scorn by the Jews, by wresting the words of Moses violently, as if he spoke of Christ alone in this place. Yet we must see whether Peter doth cite the testimony fitly, whose authority ought to serve for a sound reason. I say; that in Peter’s speech there is nothing which is not most convenient. For he saw that which all men ought to grant, that this testimony doth so appertain unto the other prophets, that yet notwithstanding it doth chiefly commend Christ, not only because that he is the prince and chief of all the prophets, but because all other former prophecies were directed toward him, and because God did at length speak absolutely by his mouth, For God spoke in divers manners, and at sundry times in times past3 unto our fathers by the prophets, he addeth the conclusion at length, in the last days in his only begotten Son, (Hebrews 1:1.) Therefore, it came to pass, that they wanted prophets for a certain years (195) before his coming; which thing is plainly gathered out of the words of Malachi, who, after he hath commanded the people to be mindful of the law, he passeth over by and by unto John Baptist and unto Christ, as if he should say, that the prophecies are now ended until the last revelation come, (Malachi 4:4;) according to that,

“The law and the prophets prophesied until John; after that the kingdom of God is preached,”
(
Matthew 11:13.)

And that was so common amongst the people, that the woman of Samaria could say, according to the common fame and opinion,

“We know that the Messias shall come,
who will teach us all things,”
(
John 4:25.)

Therefore, we know that after the return of the people all the prophets ceased, to the end they might be made more attentive to hear Christ, by that silence or intermission of revelations. Therefore, Peter did not wrest this place, or abuse the same through ignorance, but he took that doctrine which all men had received for a principle; that God had promised to teach his people at the first by his prophets as by means, (196) but at length principally by Christ, at whose hands they were to hope for the perfect manifestation and laying open of all things. And to this purpose serveth that excellent testimony or commendation wherewith his Father setteth him forth, “Hear him,” (Matthew 17:5.)


Verse 23

23.Every soul. Here, by a most grievous punishment against the rebellious, the authority of all the prophets, but most of all of Christ, is established; and that for good causes. For seeing there is nothing that God doth account more precious than his word, it cannot be that he should suffer the same to be freely contemned. Therefore, if any man despised the law of Moses, he was adjudged to die the death. And hereunto Moses had respect when he said, “He shall be put away from among the people.” For God had adopted the stock and kindred of Abraham unto himself, upon this condition, that this might be sufficient for them unto the chiefest felicity to be reckoned in that number, as it is said in the Psalm, “Blessed is the people whose God is the Lord.” And in another place, “Blessed is the nation whom the Lord hath chosen to be his inheritance.” Wherefore it is not to be doubted, but that he pronounceth that he shall be blotted out of the book of life whosoever shall refuse to hear Christ. For he is not worthy to be accounted one of the Church, whosoever he be that refuseth to have him to be his Master, by whom alone God doth teach us, and by whom he will have us to hear himself; and he cutteth himself away from the body, whosoever he be that refuseth to be under the Head.


Verse 24

24.And all When as he saith that all the prophets do with one consent send their scholars unto Christ, that appeareth more plainly hereby, which I said, that the commendation of the gospel is contained under that testimony of Moses, and so, consequently, that the conclusion of prophecies is principally noted. Again, this maketh much for the certainty of the gospel, that all the prophets, for a long time, [series of ages,] do yet, notwithstanding, so temper their form of teaching with one consent, that they do testify altogether that men ought to hope for a certain, better, and more perfect thing. Therefore, whosoever will believe Moses and the prophets, he must needs submit himself unto the doctrine of Christ, without which all that is lame and imperfect which they taught, (John 5:47.)


Verse 25

25.You are the children. He signifieth that the grace of the covenant was appointed principally for them, which covenant God made with their fathers. And so as he pricked them forward to obey the gospel, by terrifying them with the terror of punishment, so he allureth them now again to receive the grace which is offered them in Christ; so that we see how that God omitteth nothing whereby he may bring us unto himself. And it is the duty of a wise minister so to prick forward the sluggish and slow bellies, that he do lead those gently which are apt to be taught; we must also note diligently this course of teaching, where Peter showeth that the gospel is assigned and appointed unto the Jews. For it is not sufficient to have the mercy of God preached unto us generally, unless we also know that the same is offered unto us by the certain ordinance of God. For this cause is it that Paul standeth so much upon the avouching of the calling of the Gentiles, (Romans 15:18; Ephesians 3:3;) because, if any man should think that the gospel came unto him by chance, when as it was scattered here and there, faith should quail; (197) yea, there should be a doubtful opinion instead of faith. Therefore, to the end we may steadfastly believe the promise of salvation, this application (that I may so term it) is necessary, that God doth not cast forth uncertain voices, that they may hang in the air, but that he doth direct the same unto us by his certain and determinate counsel. Peter telleth the Jews, that Christ is promised unto them after this sort, to the end they may more willingly embrace him. And how proveth he this? because they are the children of the prophets and of the covenant. He calleth them the children of the prophets, which were of the same nation, and therefore were heirs of the covenant, which did belong unto the whole body of the people. For he argueth thus: God made his covenant with our fathers; therefore we, which are their posterity, are comprehended in the covenant.

Whereby the doubting [doting] subtlety of the Anabaptists is refuted, who do expound the children of Abraham only allegorically; as if God had had no respect to his stock, when he said, “I will be the God of thy seed,” (Genesis 17:7.) Certainly Peter doth not speak in this place of the shadows of the law; but he affirmeth that this is of force under the kingdom of Christ, that God doth adopt the children together with the fathers; and so, consequently, the grace of salvation may be extended unto those which are as yet unborn, (Romans 9:7.) I grant, indeed, that many which are the children of the faithful, according to the flesh, are counted bastards, and not legitimate, because they thrust themselves out of the holy progeny through their unbelief. But this doth no whit hinder the Lord from calling and admitting the seed of the godly into fellowship of grace. And so, although the common election be not effectual in all, yet may it set open a gate for the special elect. As Paul intreateth in the 11th to the Romans, (Romans 11:23,) whence we must set [seek] an answer for this question.

And in thy seed He proveth that the covenant was made with the fathers, because God said unto Abraham,

“In thy seed shall all nations be blessed,” (Genesis 22:18.)

But if we admit Paul’s interpretation, this testimony shall make nothing for the present cause. Paul teacheth that Christ is this seed, (Galatians 3:16.) If the blessing be promised to all mankind by Christ, what is this to the especial or particular privilege of one nation? Secondly, Peter himself seemeth shortly after to subscribe to this exposition of Paul, when as he saith that Christ was sent, that in him the Jews may be blessed. For this could not be, unless Christ were that blessed seed. I answer, When Paul referreth it unto Christ, he standeth not upon the word seed, but he hath respect to an higher tiling; to wit, that it cannot be one seed, unless it be united and knit together in Christ, as in the Head. For Ismael and Isaac, although both of them be the sons of Abraham, yet do they not make one seed, because they be divided into two people. Therefore, though many be estranged from the family of Abraham, which came of hint according to the flesh, yet Moses noteth one certain body, when he promiseth the blessing unto the seed of Abraham. And whence cometh the unity, save only from the Head, which is Christ? In this sense doth Paul understand this word seed of Christ, although it be a noun collective; because, if you depart from hint, the posterity of Abraham shall be as torn members, neither shall there be any thing else in them, save only mere wasteless and scattering abroad. Peter agreeth with that doctrine, because he doth so extend the blessing unto all the people, that he doth, nevertheless, seek the fountain in Christ.

Secondly, forasmuch as the Jews do what they can to wring [wrest] from us this testimony, the godly readers must arm themselves against their cavils; and so much the rather, because Christian writers have been too slack in this point, as I have said in the Epistle to the Galatians. First, as touching the wordseed, there is no cause wily they should prattle that Paul doth not rightly restrain it unto Christ; for he doth not this simply, but in that respect whereof I have spoken. In which point, I confess, both our Latin and Greek interpreters have erred. Now, we must see what this manner of speech doth import. The Gentiles shall be blessed in the seed of Abraham. Our men think that there is some cause noted; to wit, that through that seed the Gentiles shall be blessed. The Jews toss this to and fro, because this phrase signifieth every where in the Scriptures, an example or similitude; as, on the other side, (198) to be cursed in Sodom, in Israel, or in another people, is to take them for a notable example of a curse. I answer, that it is a doubtful speech, and taken diversely, according to the circumstance of the places, which the Jews do craftily dissemble. For they gather many places, out of which they prove that there is a comparison made; as if it should be said, The Gentiles shall desire to be blessed, like to the seed of Abraham. But when as the Scripture saith elsewhere, “They shall bless themselves in the living God,” as Jeremiah 4:2; Isaiah 65:16; and again, “Do bless in the name of the Lord,” (Deuteronomy 10:8,) and in other such like places; who doth not see that there is a cause expressed? Therefore, I say that this form of speech ought to be understood according to the circumstances of the places.

And now, forasmuch as I have declared that the seed of Abraham can be found nowhere else save only in Christ, it remaineth that we consider of what sort the office of Christ is. So shall it appear, undoubtedly, that he is not made a bare example or pattern, but that the blessing is truly promised to him; because without him we be all accursed. Yet there remaineth one doubt; for certain both these are spoken in one sense, They shall be blessed in thee, and in thy seed; but Abraham was nothing else but a type or mirror of the blessing. I answer, that in the person of Abraham, that body is also noted out, which dependeth upon one head, and is knit together in the same.

All the families The Jews do grossly expound this, That all nations shall desire to be blessed, as the seed of Abraham. But we say otherwise, That they shall be engrafted into the society. For the name of Abraham tendeth to this end, because it should come to pass that God should gather all people (199) unto him. Also, when the prophets will declare the force hereof, they foretell everywhere that the inheritance of salvation shall be common to the Gentiles. And hereby it appeareth that the covenant of God, which was then proper to the Jews alone, is not only common to all men, but is made with us expressly; otherwise, we could not conceive that hope of salvation which is firm enough out of the gospel. Therefore, let us not suffer this promise to be wrung from us, which is, as it were, a solemn declaration, whereby the Lord maketh us his heirs together with the fathers. Whereunto Peter also had respect, when as he saith shortly after, that Christ was first sent unto the Jews; for he doth signify that the Gentiles also have their order, though it be secondary.


Verse 26

26.He hath raised up his Son. He gathereth out of the words of Moses that Christ is now revealed. But the words do seem to import no such thing; yet doth he reason fitly thus, because the blessing could no otherwise be, unless the beginning thereof did flow from the Messias. For we must always remember this, that all mankind is accursed, and, therefore, there is a singular remedy promised us, which is performed by Christ alone. Wherefore, he is the only fountain and beginning of the blessing. And if so be that Christ came to this end, that he may bless the Jews first, and, secondly, us, he hath undoubtedly done that which was his duty to do; and we shall feel the force and effect of this duty in ourselves, unless our unbelief do hinder us.

This was a part of the priest’s office under the law, to bless the people; and, lest this should be only a vain ceremony, there was a promise added; as it is, (Numbers 6:27.) And that which was shadowed in the old priesthood was truly performed in Christ, (Hebrews 7:1.) Concerning which matter we have spoken more at large in the seventh chapter to the Hebrews. I like not Erasmus’s translation; for he saith, when he had raised him up, as if he spoke of a thing which was done long ago. But Peter meaneth rather, that Christ was raised up, when he was declared to be the author of the blessing; which thing, since it was done of late and suddenly, it ought to move their minds the more. For the Scripture useth to speak thus, as in the last place, of Moses, whereunto Peter alludeth. To raise up a prophet, is to furnish him with necessary gifts to fulfill his function, and, as it were, to prefer him to the degree of prophetical honor. And Christ was raised up then, when he fulfilled the function enjoined him by his Father, but the same thing is done daily when he is offered by the gospel, that he may excel amongst us. We have said that in the adverb of order, first, is noted the right of the first-be-gotten, because it was expedient that Christ should begin with the Jews, that he might afterward pass over unto the Gentiles.

Whilst that he turneth. He doth again commend the doctrine of repentance, to the end we may learn to conclude under the blessing of Christ newness of life, as when Esaias promiseth that a “Redeemer should come to Zion,” he addeth a restraint; (200) “Those which in Jacob shall be turned from their iniquities.” For Christ doth not do away the sins of the faithful, to the end they may grant liberty to themselves to sin under this color; but he maketh them therewith all new men. Although we must diligently distinguish these two benefits which are linked together, that this ground-work may continue, that we are reconciled to God by free pardon, I know that other men turn it otherwise; but this is the true meaning of Luke; for he speaketh thus word for word, “In turning every one from his wickedness.”

 


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Bibliography Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Acts 3:4". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/acts-3.html. 1840-57.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, July 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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