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THE FOUNDING OF THE CHURCH, AS THE CHURCH OF ALL NATIONS
A.—THE PENTECOSTAL MIRACLE ITSELF; ITS EXTERNAL FEATURES AND ITS NATURAL OPERATION, BY WHICH THE ASSEMBLED BELIEVERS WERE FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST AND ENABLED TO SPEAK WITH OTHER TONGUES
Contents:—On the day of Pentecost, the festival, under the old covenant, of the completion of the harvest, the promise was fulfilled, and the Holy Ghost was poured out upon the assembled disciples; mighty signs accompanied the event; the internal fulness of the Spirit was manifested when the disciples spake with other tongues.
1And when [while] the day of Pentecost was fully come [was in the course of being fulfilled], they were all with one accord in one place [accord together].1 2And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it [omit it] filled all the house where they were sitting.2 3And there appeared unto them cloven tongues [tongues parting (or, distributing) themselves] like as of fire, and it sat [seated itself] upon each of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Acts 2:1. a. Luke states the time of the occurrence with sufficient exactness by mentioning the day of Pentecost, i.e. when this day was fully come, or, in the course of this day, with which the period of fifty days after the passover closed, the great event occurred. [The fifty days were counted from “the morrow after the (passover) sabbath,” Leviticus 23:15-16; the Greek ordinal πεντηκοστή was ultimately employed as a noun, or proper name (de Wette), equivalent to “the Fiftieth,” so that in the present passage, according to Meyer, and Alford, neither ἡμἑρας nor ἑορτῆς is to be supplied.—Tr.]. The words certainly appear to give special prominence to the completion of this particular day, and on this circumstance Meyer lays great stress (ἐν τῷ σνμπληρον͂σθαι τὴν ἡμέραν τῆς πεντηκ.); but the expression πληρον͂σθαι is invariably employed by Luke (Gospel, Luke 9:51; Acts 9:23) in the sense that a certain period of time is now reaching its close, and he obviously employs the word in such a sense in the present passage. The festival of Pentecost was, accordingly, the day during the course of which the effusion of the Spirit occurred. This feast of (seven) weeks (חַג שָּׁבֻעוֹת Exodus 34:22) was celebrated on the fiftieth day after the first day of the Passover festival. It consequently occurred, in the year in which Christ died, on the first day of the week, or our Sunday, if we assume that in the same year the first day of the passover occurred on a Friday, and the second, from which the fifty days were counted, on a Saturday. This statement is sustained by the very ancient tradition of the Church that the first Christian pentecostal season occurred on a Sunday. The Mosaic festival of Pentecost, which was one of the three annual or great festivals of Israel, was, as the appropriate passages of the Law show, a harvest festival, or, strictly speaking, the festival of the completion of the harvest; the commencement of the latter coincided with the Passover, and its completion was celebrated by a thank-offering of the first-fruits of the wheat harvest in bread baked of the new grain [Exodus 23:16; Deuteronomy 16:9.]. That the festival of Pentecost was also intended to commemorate the giving of the law on Sinai, is an opinion which rests merely on the assertions of later rabbinical writers; it derives no support whatever from any passage in the Old or the New Testament, and none, moreover, from the writings of Philo and Josephus. The Church Fathers (Chrysostom, for instance), have, accordingly, regarded only the harvest festival, and not also the Sinaitic giving of the law, as a type in the Old Testament, of the outpouring of the Spirit; and the common practice of tracing a parallel between the Pentecost of the New Testament and the giving of the law on Sinai, is, at least, of very doubtful authority. But, on the other hand, an analogy may be traced with far more confidence between the new Pentecostal and the harvest festival, after the manner of Olshausen, for instance, in so far as “at the Christian feast of Pentecost the entire harvest of the Jewish people may be said to have occurred, when those who had ripened unto true repentance and conversion, were gathered in, and consecrated to God;” so, too, according to John 12:24, Christ, viewed as the corn of wheat that fell into the ground and died, on and after that day brought forth much fruit, or, a rich harvest.
b. The description given by Luke does not indicate the place in which the event occurred, as distinctly as the time. The first verse merely states that all the disciples were assembled in one and the same place, and the second adds only that the place of meeting was in a house, without giving any information respecting the class of buildings to which this house belonged. It was, probably, a private dwelling, and, possibly, the one which is mentioned in Acts 1:13, as having previously afforded a place of meeting to the disciples. Many interpreters (among the more recent, Olshausen, Baumgarten, Lange) assume that the house in which the disciples sat, belonged to the temple, and was one of the thirty apartments in the buildings attached to the temple, which Josephus [Ant. viii. 3. 2,] has likewise termed οἵκονς. But as the language of the text does not even remotely indicate such an interpretation, and as no other sufficient reason can be adduced in support of it, we have no authority for assigning the place to one of the buildings adjoining the temple. For the opinion that on such a day, when a theocratic festival occurred, and at the first hour of prayer, the disciples could have with propriety assembled in no other spot than in the temple, may be plausible, but rests on no solid grounds. They had undoubtedly assembled long before the first hour of prayer; and, as all these occurrences required time, several hours after their first meeting in the morning may have already elapsed at the moment when Peter said: “It is but the third hour of the day,” Acts 2:15. It cannot, besides, be supposed that the disciples could have assembled together in any part of the temple in such numbers, and as a united body of men who avoided all admixture with other Jews, without specially attracting public attention. The multitude, moreover, which came together, Acts 2:6, does not necessarily imply the proximity of the temple, but simply makes the impression that some spacious spot existed in the neighborhood of the house then occupied by the disciples, which afforded sufficient room for a large collection of persons. The argument, finally, that the whole procedure acquires a much deeper significance, if we assign to it the temple as the place (“the solemn inauguration of the Church in the sanctuary of the old covenant” Olshausen), has the least weight of all; its force is derived only from the imagination.
c. Who are the persons that were assembled, and that received the gift of the Holy Ghost? We are informed, Acts 2:1, that they were all with one accord in one place. It is at once obvious that not the apostles alone, but other disciples also, were present, and received the gift of the Holy Ghost. The correctness of this view is fully proved by Acts 2:14, in which the twelve apostles are plainly distinguished from other persons who were also filled with the Spirit and spake with other tongues. Still, even when this fact is admitted, one point remains, on which a difference of opinion exists:—Were only the 120 disciples, mentioned in Acts 1:15, present, or was a still larger number of persons assembled, and were all these endowed with the Holy Spirit? The former opinion is generally adopted, but the latter will appear to be better sustained when we consider that the day was a high festival of me old covenant, when those disciples of Jesus who did not reside in Jerusalem, or whom an express command of the Lord had not previously summoned, were, doubtless, also present in the city; it is natural to suppose that they, too, would assemble with the other disciples. Consequently, not only the twelve apostles, but the whole number of the disciples of Jesus who were then present in the city, were assembled together and shared in the effusion of the Spirit.
Acts 2:2-3. a. The event which now occurred, took place suddenly (ὄφνω), that is, unexpectedly. So far were the disciples from looking for an event so extraordinary and impressive, that they were themselves amazed. Baumgarten (Apgesch. I. 36) supposes, it is true, that the disciples had sufficient grounds for believing that such a crisis was at hand, and were anxiously waiting for it. While, however, we may readily ascribe to them a devout frame of mind, corresponding in fervor to the character of one of the most solemn of the Israelitic festivals, we can find no indication that they expected precisely at that time a fulfilment of the promise which the Lord had given; that fulfilment was entirely unexpected.
b. A sound, etc.—The external manifestations and signs which attended the outpouring of the Spirit, were both a sound and a light, the one appealing to the ear, the other to the eye. The sound which came down to the earth from heaven, was very loud (ἦχος), like that produced by a blast, a gust, or a very strong wind which rushes onward; and it was this loud, penetrating sound which filled all the house in which the disciples were assembled. The text does not speak of an actual gust of wind, and still less of an earthquake, accompanied by a storm of wind, by which, as some have supposed (Neander), the house was shaken. The sound which was heard is, on the contrary, simply compared (ὤσπερ) to that of a vehement wind, for the purpose of giving a general description of it; it was a so-called בַּת קוֹל [for which see Herzog: Real-Encyk. I. 719, art. Bath-Kol.—Tr.]. But it appears distinctly from Acts 2:6 that the extraordinary sound mentioned in Acts 2:2, was audible in the city at a considerable distance from the spot.—In addition to the sound, which appealed to the ear, another manifestation, a luminous sign, appealed to the eye. The disciples saw (appeared unto them, Acts 2:3) appearances of tongues of fire which distributed themselves, and alighted upon each individual. It was as little natural fire as the sound already mentioned was that of a natural wind; on the contrary, the appearances which were seen, only resembled flames of fire that assumed the form of tongues; these were luminous, but they neither burned nor singed. It is altogether inadmissible to trace these appearances of flames to ordinary or natural causes. We cannot possibly regard them as only electrical phenomena, such as the gleaming lights which are sometimes seen on the highest points of steeples, or on the masts of vessels, and which have been known to alight even on men (Paulus), since they are here beheld, not in the open air, but in the interior of a house. But none obtrude so many creations of their own imagination, that is, of a self-deluded spirit, on the text, as those writers who here speak of flashes of lightning which, as they assume, darted through the apartment, and in which the excited minds of the apostles saw strange and wonderful images (Heinrichs), or who allege that the apostles were in a trance, and hence only imagined that they saw the fiery tongues (Heumann).—The fact that such a pentecostal festival occurred, is incontrovertibly established by the terms of the text, namely, that a mighty internal revolution was effected in the souls of the disciples, which elevated their whole nature, and endowed them with such strength of faith as believers, and with such power as witnesses, that they were now competent to begin a contest with the world, and conquer it. This great fact is, besides, so wonderful in itself, that the miraculous appearances in the outward world which attended it, cannot justly give offence, except to those who recognize only a spirit-world, that is essentially and absolutely separated from the sensuous world, or, in other words, who are governed by an unscriptural and unreal spiritualism. Both that loud sound and these flames of fire bear only a certain resemblance (ὤσπερ, ὡσεί) to natural appearances, without really belonging to the class of ordinary or natural phenomena; like the main event—the impletion of individuals with the power of the Spirit from on high (Luke 24:49), they are supernatural, divine, and miraculous operations. These audible and visible signs may be regarded as the sensuous garment which the power of the Spirit assumed. They rendered eminent services: like heralds, they announced the coming of the Spirit, and gave an impressive character to the event; they exhibited, as emblems, the power and operations of the Spirit; and they fitted the mind in a still higher degree for receiving the gift of the Spirit. When they are viewed as emblems, the loud, rushing sound itself is the emblem of a certain vast power; its descent from heaven implies that this power is “from on high”—the power of Him who ascended to heaven and is enthroned on high. The fact that this sound filled all the house, was a sign that all who were there assembled, should be filled with the Holy Ghost. The visible flames were an emblem of that holy ardor and of those glowing emotions which, when enkindled from heaven, would break forth like flames from the heart. The form of tongues signified that the tongue, the word, or speech, thoroughly pervaded and controlled by the Holy Spirit of God, should communicate and reveal all that is heavenly and holy. The circumstance that such a tongue of light and fire descended and sat upon each individual who was present, was an emblem of that fulness of the Spirit which was designed for, and imparted to, each individual, as a permanent gift.
Acts 2:4. a. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.—The central point or main purpose of the whole miraculous event is indicated in the original in only four words, namely, that all the believers were filled with the Holy Ghost. The phrase: ἐπλήσθησαν ἄπαντες πν. ἁγ. may, and indeed, must here be taken in its precise and full sense:—they were filled with the Holy Ghost, insomuch that the Holy Ghost was not given in part only, or by measure, but in all his fulness (John 3:34). A correct view of this impletion with the Spirit can be obtained only by surveying it retrospectively and prospectively, that is, by comparing it with those operations and actual communications of the Spirit which preceded, and with those which followed it. With respect to the earlier manifestations of the Spirit, it was undoubtedly said, already under the old covenant, concerning Bezaleel and other skilful men, and also with respect to Joshua, that God had filled them with “the Spirit of God,” the spirit of wisdom, etc. (Exodus 31:3 ff.; comp. Exodus 28:3; Exodus 35:31 ff.; Deuteronomy 34:9). In these cases, however, the connection plainly shows that such language describes only the skill of a particular artist, or the eminent military abilities of a general. And in the case of the prophets of Israel, the influences of the Spirit are always described in such terms only, as convey distinctly the sense that no complete and permanent communication of the Spirit of God, or one which pervaded the whole being of the subject, had yet occurred. When the angel of the Lord promises Zacharias that his son John “shall be filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15), we meet with a case that is so peculiar (comp. ibid. Acts 2:41), and, in view of the whole historic relation which the forerunner sustained to the Messiah, of so subordinate a character, that it can scarcely be taken into consideration in discussing the point now before us. The disciples and apostles of Jesus had unquestionably received the Holy Ghost already at an earlier period (John 20:22 ff.); but that such communication of the Spirit had been neither of a permanent nor of a fully satisfactory character, appears from the subsequent, repeated promises of Jesus respecting a communication and acceptance of the Holy Ghost and of power, which still belonged to the future (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8). We are, accordingly, conducted to the conclusion that the communication of the Spirit which occurred on the day of Pentecost, when compared with any that preceded it, was final, complete, and permanent in its character. Still, when we examine the subsequent history of the disciples, we cannot but perceive that this outpouring of the Spirit was not of a magical nature, neither did it instantaneously and thoroughly transmute and pervade the whole nature and being of the subject. It required and enabled the individual, on the contrary, to appropriate to himself, by degrees, the holy powers of the Spirit, to grow continually, to be taught, to be put in mind, and to be guided into all truth by the Spirit (John 14:26; John 16:13)—to be uninterruptedly sanctified, led and drawn (Romans 8:14; John 17:17).—The fact that all were filled with the Holy Ghost, also claims attention. Not merely certain individuals among the multitude, for instance, the apostles, but all the believing people who were present, without distinction of office or vocation, of sex or age, were filled with the Holy Ghost. Consequently, females and young men were not excluded (comp. Acts 2:17 ff.); indeed, the visible signs of the Spirit, the fiery tongues, had descended upon each individual, Acts 2:3.
b. Began to speak with other tongues; such was the effect or immediate result, when all had received the fulness of the Spirit. It was needful that the internal process in the mind and spirit of the individual, should be made manifest externally—not, however, immediately before the world (for the company of believers still sat apart), but in the presence of those who held their views, and were of a like mind, “for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.” Hence, it appears, also, that the words which they uttered, were not simple statements of the Gospel message, which would not have been adapted to that place and that moment; their discourses rather proclaimed the honor and praise of God; it was “a solemnizing [commemorative] discourse”. (Baumgarten; Lange). Such a circumstance, however, would not in itself, have been unusual; the extraordinary and new feature which the case assumed (ῆρξαντο), was the circumstance that the Christians, in consequence of having received the gift of the Spirit, spake with other tongues (ἑτέραις γλώσσαις). This expression might, possibly, convey no other sense than that “the tongues of the disciples were essentially changed by the operation of the Spirit, and now became the organs of the Holy Ghost, whereas they had formerly been the organs of flesh.” (Baumgarten). But the narrative which immediately follows, Acts 2:6-13, does not allow a single doubt to remain in an unprejudiced mind, that we are here already, Acts 2:4, to understand a speaking of foreign languages, which were new to the speakers themselves (see below, Acts 2:5-13). The last clause of Acts 2:4, which by no means implies that any labor or effort to learn, had preceded, distinctly describes the whole as a free gift of the Spirit, and, moreover, intimates that various languages were spoken. Now, as the disciples had hitherto constituted a company which sat apart, this speaking in foreign languages could have had no direct reference to other persons whose ordinary languages were the same; it must therefore have had a special purpose and meaning of its own. When the disciples, filled with the Spirit of the Father and the Son, and elevated in thought and feeling, uttered aloud the praises of God in solemn adoration, and employed for this purpose various foreign languages, they prefigured in their persons the entire sanctified human race of a future and distant age, in which all generations, tongues, and languages will serve and glorify God, and his Anointed, in the Holy Ghost (Bengel, Baumgarten, and others).
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The precise times in which the promises will be fulfilled, are not revealed either under the old or the new covenant (comp. Acts 1:5; Acts 1:7). Even when a reference to the time occurs, it is never so exact that we can previously define with precision the moment in which the fulfilment may be expected; even the prophets searched what point or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them, did signify. 1 Peter 1:11. But as surely as the promise is God’s word, so surely will the fulfilment, which is God’s act, occur at the proper time. The promise exercises our faith; the fulfilment strengthens it.
2. The Pentecost of the old covenant was the chosen day on which, under the new covenant, the Spirit was poured out. Thus the day of Pentecost has a twofold significance. The new covenant is founded on the old; the Gospel is the fulfilment of the law. Here, too, with respect to holy days and festivals, Christ did “not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”
3. In the revelations of God, the corporeal and the spiritual are always combined; in this respect the most exalted instance—the most intimate union—and the reciprocal interpenetration of the two, will be found in the Person of Christ himself, in so far as the fulness of the Godhead has dwelt, and still dwelleth, in him bodily. Colossians 2:9. But at all times, all that belongs to the acts and revelations of God, to the means of grace, and to the operations of grace, exhibits the spiritual and the corporeal in combination. Such is the nature of the Word and the Sacraments; in these, that which is corporeal, visible, and audible, is united in the most intimate manner with that which is spiritual and invisible. Such is also the case with the communication of the Holy Ghost; the Spirit descended upon Jesus at his baptism like a dove (Matthew 3:16); the Lord breathed on the Apostles, and thus at first granted to them the Holy Ghost (John 20:22). And here, on the day of Pentecost, when the fulness of the Spirit was imparted to the disciples, the event occurred amid visible and audible signs, which, descending from heaven and entering the material world, proclaimed and glorified the gift of the Spirit which they accompanied: these signs evidently possess an emblematical character, and refer to the promise that the disciples shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire.
4. The day of Pentecost coincides in time with the effusion of the Spirit. All the former operations, influences and communications of the Spirit of God, were only by measure, or in part; they were preliminary and transient in their character. The outpouring of the Spirit, in the true and only sense, could not occur until the present period had arrived; the Spirit could not be given until the Redeemer had previously finished his work on earth, and had been glorified and exalted; John 7:39. For it was then only, on the one hand, that the exalted Lord could send the Spirit from the Father (John 15:26), and pray to the Father for the Comforter (παράκλητος) in behalf of his disciples, or that the Father could send the Spirit in the name of Jesus (John 14:16; John 14:26); and then only, on the other hand, were the disciples fully prepared to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost; for, now that Jesus had ascended, and that his visible presence had been withdrawn, they looked forward with all the strength of their souls, with eagerness and haste (2 Peter 3:12) toward the fulfilment of his most glorious promise. The peculiar features of the Pentecostal gift, as contradistinguished from other communications of the Holy Ghost, are, first, the fulness of the Spirit, in all the riches of his power and gifts: and, secondly, the permanent union of the Holy Ghost with human beings, that is to say, with the human race.
5. Not only the apostles, but all the other disciples also, were filled with the Holy Ghost. The gift of the Holy Ghost was not at that time, and is not now, an exclusive privilege of a particular office (not even of the highest in the Church—that of the Apostles), nor of any rank or either sex, but is the gracious gift of the Lord, bestowed on all who believe in him. There is a common priesthood of all believers, and the Holy Spirit is the anointing by which we are fitted for, and consecrated to, this priesthood. (1 John 2:27.)
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Acts 2:1. And when the day of Pentecost was fully come.—The Pentecostal gift furnished new evidence on the part of the Lord that he came to fulfil [Matthew 5:17]. The age of promise, it is true, preceded, and the people of God waited long; but then the fulfilment occurred suddenly. (C. H. Rieger).—The feast of Passover of the old covenant is succeeded by the Christian festival of Easter, and that of Pentecost by the Christian pentecostal season [Whitsuntide]; to the former, the death and resurrection of Christ, and to the latter, the outpouring of the Spirit, respectively, assign a higher character as antitypes, than the ancient festivals possessed. The people of Israel observed on the day of Pentecost the festival of the first harvest of the year [Exodus 23:16], but here we behold, in the outpouring of the Spirit, the source of the first great harvest on that field, white already to harvest, to which the Lord, as he sat at Jacob’s well, directed the attention of his disciples; on that one day about three thousand souls were gathered, as sheaves of the first fruits of the harvest, into the garner of the Lord. If the people of Israel commemorated on their day of Pentecost the giving of the law on Sinai, we behold here, in the outpouring of the Spirit, the giving of the law under the new covenant; but the will of God is now written with a pen of fire, not on tables of stone, but, as a law of the Spirit, on the hearts of men.—They were all with one accord in one place.—The Holy Spirit is given, not to the contentious and ungodly, but to those who dwell together in unity, and continue in supplications and prayers. (Starke).—Let him who desires to receive the Holy Spirit, not forsake the assembling together of believers [Hebrews 10:25]. (ib.).—Perseverance in prayer, in place of being a burden, becomes our delight, when our faith fully relies on the fulfilment of the divine promises, and when we, in addition, obtain a richer experience of God’s fidelity in keeping his promises. (Ap. Past.).—United prayers, when they are perseveringly offered, are specially acceptable and effectual; the common experience of many believers that God answers prayer, in a special manner strengthens our faith. (ib.).—The intimate connection between God’s deeds of old, and his deeds in our day: I. He does not cease to work [John 5:17], but continually does new things [Isaiah 43:19]. II. He does not reject nor destroy that which is old, but establishes that which is new upon it. (Lechler).—The significance of the Christian festivals: they commemorate, I. The glorious deeds and the mercies of God; II. The truth and the faithfulness of God [“in so far as the Pentecost and the other prominent festivals refer to the fulfilment of the divine promises, and to the actual execution of the original divine plan of salvation.” (From the first edition).—Tr.] (ib.).—The holy and glorious connection between the divine promises and their fulfilment: I. The promises become more precious to us in proportion as we see them fulfilled; II. The fulfilment becomes the more adorable and glorious in our eyes, inasmuch as it was promised. (ib.).—What position shall the believing Christian assume, in reference to the promises of God? I. Let him wait (with patience); II. Let him haste (with eager desire); comp. 2 Peter 3:12.—“The hope of the righteous shall be gladness” (Proverbs 10:28); when it, I. Is founded on God’s word and promise alone; II. Is united with humility; and, III. Manifests itself in persevering prayer. (Lechler).—Unexpected blessings. The disciples scarcely expected the outpouring of the Spirit on that particular day; but when the appointed hour arrives, our help comes suddenly from the Lord, and puts our doubts to shame. (Besser).—The Pentecostal season of the new covenant, the glorious consummation of the day of Pentecost of the old covenant: I. Viewed as the festival of the giving of the law; II. And as a harvest festival.
Acts 2:2-3. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, etc.—God ordinarily manifests his influence through his word; but that influence, particularly in its more striking forms, is often experienced suddenly and unexpectedly, by those, in particular, whom the Spirit of grace had previously taught to wait with faith, and whose hearts had thus been opened. [Acts 16:14]. The prayer which the apostles offered with one accord, was graciously received in heaven, and this sound from heaven was the cheering answer, so that this ἦχος was in truth an echo. The faithfulness of God to his children and servants is still the same; their cry reaches unto heaven, and enters his heart, and, as the devout Godwin expresses it, such a prayer returns to them without fail from heaven. (Ap. Past.).—The gifts of the Holy Ghost: they are from above, James 1:17; James 3:17; they are perceived in our Christian experience, 2 Corinthians 4:13; they exercise a controlling influence, Romans 8:14; they fill the whole soul. (Starke).—It was as if a mighty wind were rushing onward, when the Holy Spirit took possession of the hearts of the disciples; we have here a very beautiful illustration of the power which he exercises over the soul, when he urges willing hearts onward, even as a vessel is impelled when its sails are filled by such a gracious wind. So, too, he rends the mountains, and breaks in pieces the rocks, when he produces a godly sorrow and contrition in the heart. Happy is that teacher on whose “garden” or heart this holy wind of God has blown (Song of Solomon 4:16), and like the “north wind,” has, amid holy alarms, awakened a salutary fear, dispersed the vapors of a false security, cast down every high thing that exalted itself in its own righteousness, and then conducted that heart to Christ! Happy is he, again, when that wind, like the “south wind,” carrying warmth and quickening power with it, fills his heart with all the blessed influences of the Gospel, so “that the spices thereof may flow out,” flowing, too, freely on others, insomuch that through him, as a messenger of God who “has an unction from the Holy One” [1 John 2:20], the savour of the knowledge of Christ may be made manifest in every place! (2 Corinthians 2:14-15). (Ap. Past.).—A rushing mighty wind, and flames of fire, are only the harbingers and emblems of the Holy Ghost: he himself entered the hearts of the disciples in an invisible manner. “Even nature herself is called into action, and required to render services in the holy place. God maketh his ministers a flame of fire [Hebrews 1:7]. The creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God [Romans 8:21], and therefore utters praise in pealing anthems at all the great Christian festivals.” (Ahlfeld).—Tongues, like as of fire; this was the baptism with fire which John had promised (Matthew 3:11)—the fire on earth which the Lord himself longed to see kindled (Luke 12:49). The Holy Ghost is a divine fire, purifying the heart, consuming all that is sinful in it, elevating it to God, and sanctifying it. (Quesnel).—Sat upon each of them.—Whenever the Spirit of the Lord has taken full possession of an abode, he dwells therein permanently; he rests upon those whom he has anointed, guides them, and governs them, in whatever manner they may be employed. 1 Peter 4:14. (Ap. Past.).—The signs in inanimate nature which accompanied the outpouring of the Holy Ghost: they are, I. Evidences that the kingdom of power and of grace is governed by one God; II. Emblems of the Spirit and his power. (Lechler).—A rushing mighty wind and flames of fire, instructive emblems of the nature and operations of the Holy Spirit: I. The wind an emblem of them, in its (a) mysterious approach [John 3:8], (b) force, (c) purifying power, (d) refreshing influence. II. The tire an emblem, in its (a) brightness, (b) animating warmth, (c) power to consume, (d) rapid diffusion.
Acts 2:4. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.—The human heart is never empty; in the same proportion in which it is delivered from the love of self, of the creature, and of sin, it is filled with the Holy Spirit, O blessed fulness—the fulness of the Holy Spirit! It does not burden, but rather lifts up the soul, and impels it to adore God. (Quesnel).—The same measure and the same gifts of the Spirit were not bestowed alike on all; nevertheless, each one was filled, receiving the measure of the Spirit which corresponded to his capacity, and to the work in which God designed to employ him. The Lord still proceeds in this manner, bestowing on each a fitting gift according to his own holy will and purposes, so that in truth the heart of every one is filled. (Ap. Past.).—The words recorded in 1 Kings 19:11 ff. (“The Lord passed by Elijah, etc.”), naturally suggest themselves in this connection. Here, too, the Lord himself truly came, not in the great and strong wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but in the still small voice, when he entered into the hearts of his disciples, and spake by their mouth. (Williger).—And began to speak with other tongues.—A new tongue and effective eloquence in the sphere of religion, are gifts, not of nature, but of the Spirit. (Ap. Past.).—The Holy Ghost is never inactive, but always worketh, wherever he dwells; one of his principal instruments is the tongue. Ephesians 4:29; Ephesians 5:19 ff. (Starke).—When the Holy Ghost fills and enlightens the heart, we begin to speak with another tongue. 2 Corinthians 4:13. (ib).—We cannot properly proclaim the works of God, unless we acquire another and a new tongue, and, consequently, obtain, above all, a converted and renewed heart. Psalms 51:12-15. (ib.).—Even as the tongue, when it is set on fire of hell (James 3:6,) setteth all on fire by the offence which it gives, so, too, when the tongue is enkindled by Heaven, it becomes a torch, which may enkindle a divine fire in many souls. (ib.)—Not swords nor arrows, but tongues, are designed to conduct men to the obedience of Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:4 ff. (ib.).—The disciples could not repress the joyful emotions awakened by the power of that, divine life which was poured into their souls, and all began to speak. But listen! They now speak with other tongues! They received new tongues, enkindled, not from below, but from above by heavenly fire, and with these they gave praise to God and proclaimed the great miracle by which all things were made new. Their tongues were new with respect to language also, as well as with respect to the thoughts; their cloven tongues enabled them to speak the languages of foreign and distant nations, as a sign that the testimony which they now began to bear, was intended for every creature (Mark 16:17), and that it was the office of the Holy Ghost to restore the unity of language, and substitute for the confusion of tongues which began in Babel, one holy and harmonious Zion of all nations. Anticipating the Hallelujah sung in heaven, they proclaimed the praises of God, whose glorious plan of salvation they now could comprehend. (Stier).—This family of God, when thus declaring the praises of God in the languages of the whole world, presents us with an image of that future age in which the whole world shall praise God in all its various tongues. (Bengel).—The confusion of tongues occasioned the dispersion of men, Gen. Acts 11:0; the gift of tongues re-united them as one people. (H. Grotius).—On this day, the new festival of Pentecost, (the joyful, happy and blessed kingdom of Christ, which is full of gladness, courage and security,) was founded. We now hear another language, which does not fill the heart with terror, like the voice heard on Mount Sinai; it neither alarms nor slays us, but rather inspires us with courage and joy; indeed, Christ had promised his disciples that he would send to them the Holy Ghost, who should not be a Spirit of fear, but a Comforter, imparting to them boldness, and power to overcome every fear. For as soon as the Holy Ghost descended from heaven on that day, each one of the apostles, whom none could previously comfort, stood forth boldly, as if he intended to subdue the whole world. When Christ first rose from the dead, the apostles resembled the trembling and scattered brood of the hen; all his exhortations and comforting assurances failed to encourage and strengthen them. But on this day, when the Holy Ghost comes with a loud sound, and breathes upon them, their hearts are so abundantly filled with joy and gladness, and their tongues become so fiery, that each one arises and begins to preach publicly. No one looks first at another; each one is inspired with such courage of his own, that he is willing to confront the whole world. Such words and such preaching are, therefore, very different from those which proceeded from Moses. (Luther).
The Pentecostal gift, the richest gift of God: on account of, I. Its source—the merits of Christ, his humiliation and exaltation; II. Its own nature—a union of the Spirit of God with men; III. Its influences and results—a new creation of the heart and of the world.—The permanence of the union of the Holy Ghost with men: viewed as, I. A continued indwelling, illumination, and sanctification; II. Not, however, as an external possession, (for thou canst grieve and lose him, Ephesians 4:30), but as a higher power that is exercised over the soul.—“Be filled with the Spirit!” (Ephesians 5:18). I. Such a spiritual state is necessary, if we desire to be saved; II. The means for attaining it: (a) humble self-knowledge, (b) earnestness in following holiness [Hebrews 12:14], (c) fidelity in applying the gifts that have been imparted, (d) perseverance in prayer. (Lechler).
The new tongue which is given to us also, by the Pentecostal Spirit: I. What is its nature? It is not a miraculous gift of tongues, nor a mechanical repetition of devout phrases, but rather the gift of a heart and a tongue which are always ready to proclaim the praises of divine grace with gratitude, and to confess the Lord with holy joy. II. From what source does it proceed? Not from any natural abilities, nor from art and science, but from above, from the Spirit of God, who touches the heart and lips with heavenly fire. III. For what purpose is it given? Not to gratify personal vanity, nor to secure carnal enjoyments, but to proclaim the praises of God, and convey the tidings of salvation to the world.—(See also the Hom. and Pract. remarks on subsequent parts of this chapter).
Acts 2:1; Acts 2:1.—ἅπαντες ὁμοθυμαδόν [of text. rec. with C. (sec. cor.) E.] is preferable to πάντες ὁμοῦ of Lachmann [and Tischendorf], which latter reading is found in A. B. and other manuscripts [also C (orig.); Meyer also adopts the latter, while Alford retains the reading of text. rec.—Cod. Sin. omits both πάντ. and ἅπαντ., and exhibits simply ὁμοῦ, but a later hand (C) inserted πάντες.—Tr.]
Acts 2:2; Acts 2:2.—καθεζόμενοι [found in C. D., and adopted by Lach., Tisch., Born., and Alf.] is more accurate than καθήμενοι [of text. rec. with A. (B. e sil) E. and Cod. Sin.—Meyer prefers the former as the less usual form.—Tr.]
B.— THE VARIOUS IMPRESSIONS WHICH WERE MADE BY THE EVENT ON JEWS WHO CAME FROM FOREIGN COUNTRIES, ESPECIALLY WHEN THE DISCIPLES, FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT, SPAKE WITH OTHER TONGUES
Contents:—The amazement of the multitude, when the disciples spake with other tongues; Jews from various countries, in which many different languages prevailed, heard their own respective languages from the lips of the disciples; while large numbers seriously reflected on the matter, others mocked, as if the disciples were drunken.
5And there were dwelling at Jerusalem, Jews, devout men, out of every nation underheaven. 6Now when this was noised abroad3 [when this sound issued forth], the multitude came together, and were confounded,4 because that every man heard them speakin his own language [dialect]. 7And they were all [omit all]5 amazed and marvelled, saying, [and said] one to another,6 Behold, are not all these which [who] speak Galileans?8And how [then] hear we [them] every man in our own tongue [dialect],wherein we were born? 9Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in [inhabitants of] Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,10Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts [regions] of Libya about Cyrene,and strangers of Rome [the Romans here present], Jews and proselytes, 11Cretes and Arabians, [:] we do hear them speak in [with] our tongues the wonderful works [great deeds] of God.[!] 12And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying, [and said] one to another, What meaneth this [What then can this be]?7 13Others mocking8 said, These men [They] are full of new [sweet, γλεν͂κονς] wine.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Acts 2:5-6. a. When this was noised abroad [When this sound, etc.].—The sound attracted the attention of large numbers of persons; all these assembled in the vicinity of the spot where the disciples had met together. We cannot, with Brenz, Calvin, Grotius, and others, understand ἡ φωνὴ αν̓́τη, to mean the rumor which was spread concerning the event, (φωνὴ is not φήμη), nor can we, with Kuinoel, Bleek, and others, refer it to the loudness of the speaking with tongues; for if this were the meaning, λαλεῖν in Acts 2:4 would be the term applied to loud cries, and, besides, φωνὴ would necessarily be used in the plural number. On the contrary, nothing but ἦχος in Acts 2:2 can be meant by φωνὴ αὕτη, as all recent interpreters admit. This loud sound from heaven, which Luke compares to the rushing noise of a mighty wind, was not audible in the interior of that house alone, as most interpreters have, without any reason, inferred from Acts 2:2-3; the former verse does not give the least intimation of such a circumstance. The sound was, on the contrary, heard in the city within a large circuit: [“probably over all Jerusalem.” Alf.]; at the same time, it was noticed that the heavenly sound “struck in,” if we may use that expression, at the spot in which the disciples were assembled: the multitude were, consequently, attracted in that direction. It is obvious from this statement that Neander’s explanation, according to which an earthquake drove the people from their houses, rests on a gratuitous assumption. And Lange’s conjecture, also, that none but those who were rightly disposed in spirit, were influenced by the voice from heaven to sympathize with the disciples, and gather together in the same place, is unsupported by the text before us, and the entire context.
b. The multitude came together.—Large numbers came together and listened to the disciples, who, filled with the Holy Ghost, spake with tongues in this wonderful manner. What distinct conception can we form of the whole occurrence? The text does not furnish precise information, and the alleged impossibility of forming a distinct and clear conception of the whole process, has even led some writers to deny the historical truth of the event itself. Such a decision is hasty and unwise. As Luke himself has not furnished the details of the occurrence, we shall not venture to say: It took place thus, or thus, and not otherwise! That it is possible to furnish a clear and coherent account of the whole transaction. cannot be reasonably denied, even if some of the details which are interwoven, should appear less probable than others. It is, for instance, possible, that the disciples were at first assembled in a large apartment of a certain house, of which we have no other knowledge; as soon as the Spirit was poured out upon them, and they began to speak with tongues, praising and glorifying God in an inspired and exalted frame of mind, they may have proceeded to the outside, and there continued to speak in the presence of the rapidly increasing number of hearers. If, moreover, the house was in the immediate vicinity of one of the more extensive public places or squares of the city, a great multitude could easily find sufficient room. It was doubtless under such circumstances that Peter delivered the subsequent address, Acts 2:14 ff.
Acts 2:7-8. They were all amazed, and marvelled.—Luke gives prominence to the fact that the multitude included persons from very many foreign countries, and describes it in the customary amplifying style: ἀπὸ παντὸς ἔθνονς τῶν ν̔πὸ τὸν ον̓ρανόν, Acts 2:5; we have no reason, especially when we refer to Acts 2:9-11, to interpret these words in their strict and literal sense. These Jewish men “dwelt” (Acts 2:5) in Jerusalem (ἦσν κατοικον͂ντες ἐν Ἱερ.). This expression has generally been understood, in recent times, (de Wette, Meyer; Chrysostom, among the early writers) as denoting a permanent abode, a settled residence; it is, further, supposed to refer exclusively to Jews who came from foreign countries, and who, influenced by strong religious attachments (ἄνδρες εν̓λαβεῖς), and, specially, desirous of being near the temple and passing the evening of life in the holy city, had now established their homes in Jerusalem. It is certainly true that κατοικεῖν, according to classical usage, conveys the idea of a fixed residence, and not merely of a sojourn; it refers, specially, to a newly chosen abode, after a former place of residence had been forsaken; passages in the New Testament like Luke 13:4; Acts 7:48; Acts 9:22, fully conform to this usage. The context, however, here deters us from urging such a signification of the word, since the words κα τοικον͂ντες τὴν Μεσοποτ, etc., Acts 2:9, and ἐπιδημον͂ντες ̔ ρωμαῖοι, Acts 2:10, distinctly imply that these persons, or at least the majority of them, still resided in foreign countries at that time, and were only temporarily present in Jerusalem on the occasion of the festival: it is possible that some of the number may have established themselves permanently in the city. The term κατοικ. in Acts 2:5 is accordingly employed in a somewhat wide sense, and thus the older interpretation [a mere sojourn, κατοικεῖν equivalent to διατρίβειν, Hebr. גּוּר. Tr.] is sustained in its essential features.
Acts 2:9-11. a. Parthians and Medes, etc. This list, embracing fifteen countries from which individuals were present, is arranged according to a certain plan which conducts the reader from the north-east to the west, then to the south, and lastly to the west. Still, the writer does not adhere to it rigorously. The first four names embrace the east, or certain countries beyond the Euphrates, to which the nation had been conducted by the Assyrian, and then by the Babylonish Captivity; then, quite unexpectedly, Judea is mentioned. We could not have looked for the insertion of this name at a point where the transition to the provinces of Asia Minor occurs, and the question naturally suggests itself, whether some other geographical name had not originally been introduced here. But the ancient manuscripts afford no information, [no Greek var. lect. occur in the critical editions of Tisch. and Alf,, nor in Cod. Sin.—Tr.] and the conjectures that Idumea, or India, or Bithynia had been mentioned, are altogether idle. The reading adopted by Tertullian and Augustine, that is, Armenia, may possibly have had weightier testimony in its favor. Some commentators adduce the circumstance that Luke wrote in Rome, and considered the geographical position of Judea in the light in which it would appear to Roman readers (Olshausen); others suppose that Judea is mentioned in reference to a difference of dialect, since that of Judea differed from the Galilean dialect of the disciples (Bengel; Meyer). But none of the reasons which they assign for the mention of Judea in a list of names of foreign countries, satisfactorily explains its appearance here, and a certain obscurity still attends the subject.—The next five names are those of as many provinces of Asia Minor; the direction at first is from the east to the west; the third name, Asia, probably represents a narrow district on the coast of the [Ægean] Sea, embracing Mysia, Lydia, and Caria, according to the Roman arrangement of the provinces (Mannert: Geogr. der. Gr. u. Röm. VI. 2. S. 27). The direction is then easterly (Phrygia), and a southern province on the coast [of the Mediterranean] is next mentioned (Pamphylia). We are now conducted far to the south, where two countries in Africa, Egypt and Libya Cyrenaica, are particularized; in both, large numbers of Jews had already resided for several centuries. At length Romans from the distant west are introduced, that is, Jews who dwelt in the city of Rome, and, generally, in the western portions of the Roman Empire, and who now appear in Jerusalem as visitors. The names of the Cretes and Arabians constitute a supplement to the list; but before these are appended, and when, at the close, Luke mentions the Romans. he distinguishes in reference to all the provinces named by him, between those who are Jews by birth (Ἰονδαῖοι) and those who are converted pagans (προσήλυτοι). It is Luke’s main purpose, in giving this list of names of nations and countries, as the context clearly demonstrates, to exhibit the variety of languages and dialects which these foreign Jews and proselytes employed. We have, consequently, no reason to represent the list as inexact in this respect, or even unmeaning (de Wette), on the ground, for instance, that the Greek language was then spoken in the cities of Asia Minor and Egypt, in Cyrene and Crete, and was well understood even in Rome. For every country, and, in some respects, every province had, nevertheless, a dialect peculiar to itself, and it is precisely the difference of dialects (διάλεκτος) to which Luke chiefly refers in Acts 2:6; Acts 2:8.—It may yet be added, as an obvious circumstance, that this extended enumeration of nations is not designed to be a precise report of the language of the multitude, but is ascribed to them in order to exhibit the great variety of their respective dialects; hence, it can give offence to none except to mere theorists, whose views respecting the historical fidelity of a narrative do not correspond to the exigencies of actual life. [“We have here recorded, not the very words of any individual speaker, but the sum and substance of what all said.” (J. A. Alexander). Tr.]. And the assertion that the whole list, which is found in all the manuscripts, is spurious and a mere interpolation (Ziegler, and others), is a striking instance of arbitrary interpretation and the want of critical tact.
b. We do hear them speak in our tongues.—After the statements made above, scarcely a doubt can remain respecting the meaning of the present passage; it describes the speaking of the disciples in different languages and dialects. The circumstance that the disciples spoke in the particular dialects of the hearers respectively, was precisely the one that confounded the latter, Acts 2:6. The terms: ἤκονον εἶς ἕκαστος τῇ ἰδίᾳ διαλέκτῳ λαλον́ντων αν̓τῶν, furnish merely a brief description of the whole scene. It is only a very superficial glance which could suggest the opinion that each one of the disciples had spoken in several different dialects at the same time (Bleek); such an opinion is supported by nothing except the plural λαλον́ντων αν̓τῶν, which, however, is used collectively, and when rationally interpreted, can only mean that while one disciple spoke in one dialect, another employed a different one, so that every foreigner could hear his own dialect spoken by some one of the disciples. And this circumstance created the more astonishment, as the multitude knew that all the speakers were Galileans, Acts 2:7. The context, and, especially, the list of names of nations and countries, which is introduced in reference to the manifold languages, demonstrate that this term, Galileans, can also have only been introduced here in reference to language, inasmuch as the Galileans were accustomed to speak the Aramæan [or Syro-Chaldaic] language alone; it cannot have been intended to designate the speakers as disciples of Jesus (which was a later usage of the word), or to refer to the want of intellectual culture which characterized the province. But that these natives of Galilee should express themselves in the many vernacular dialects or languages of foreign Jews and proselytes, who came from Asia, Africa and Europe, and spoke in the Parthian, Phrygian, etc., tongues (Acts 2:8; Acts 2:11), was an event that amazed and confounded the hearers. No interpretation is in harmony with the context, which assigns to γλῶσσαι any other sense than that of language. The following modes of interpretation are, accordingly, inadmissible:—(1). Those which take γλῶσσα literally, in the sense of tongue, organ of speech [so that that the disciples spoke inarticulately,—Tr.] (Wieseler), that is, of an ecstatic speaking in low tones and inarticulate sounds (Stud. u. Krit. 1838. S. 703 ff.). Bardili and Eichhorn (1786 f.) apply, however, a similar mode of interpretation only to 1 Cor. Acts 14:0., and not to Acts, Acts 2:0. Dav. Schulz, on the other hand, explains the word as meaning loud and joyous exclamations and exultant tones (Geistesgaben, 1836), while Baur understands it to mean tongues which the Spirit gave, organs of speech of the Spirit.—(2). According to another class of explanations, which are all likewise untenable, γλῶσσα is equivalent to expression, mode of speech, (J. A. G. Meyer, 1797), or denotes obsolete, foreign or dialectal expressions (Heinrichs; Bleek, in Stud. u. Krit. 1829); but γλῶσσα occurs in such a signification only in the writings of learned Greek grammarians; the whole term: ἑτέραις γλῶσσαις, Acts 2:4, besides, would then be redundant and altogether inappropriate.—(3). No other explanation of the word γλῶσσα, accordingly, remains, except that which assigns to it the signification of language, dialect (Olshausen; de Wette; Meyer; Bäumlein; Stud. d. würt. Geistlkt. 1834); it is sustained both by the general usage of the word in question, and by the context. Therefore, Luke describes the disciples as speaking, when filled with the Holy Ghost, in different foreign languages and dialects.
But when this point is decided, another question presents itself: In what manner are we to view the whole occurrence? What is the true, central point, or the substance of the fact itself, viewed objectively? Here again the opinions of interpreters diverge widely. (1). Some suppose that certain of the disciples, who were not natives of Galilee, spoke in the ordinary manner in foreign languages, which were, however, respectively, their own native languages (Paulus; Eichhorn, and others); the only unusual feature, as they allege, was the circumstance that such hymns of praise should be uttered aloud in provincial dialects. This explanation grossly contradicts the text itself, since no reason whatever now remains for the amazement and confusion of mind described in Acts 2:6-8; Acts 2:11-12, as apparent in the hearers.—(2). Some of the early Christian writers (Gregory Nazianzen; Bede), as well as authors of a later age (Erasmus; Schneckenburger), suppose that the miracle was not one of speech, but of hearing; namely, the disciples simply employed their native language, the Galilean, and the foreigners who listened, being placed in a species of [magnetic] psychical “rapport” [communication, relation], only thought that their own respective languages were spoken by the disciples. But, according to this interpretation, the peculiar feature of the scene is converted into a mere delusion of the hearers, and must, as in the case of the previous explanation, be regarded as a mistake—a supposition which dishonors the character of Sacred History, and is irreconcilable with the statement of the narrator given in Acts 2:4.—(3). According to an interpretation of a more recent date, which has been accepted by comparatively large numbers, the true historical element in the narrative is the following: it was not really a speaking in foreign languages, but was “tongue-speaking,” [“the tongue alone, not the ego, spoke” (Kling)—Tr.]. that is to say, it was an involuntary and unconscious use of the tongue in the utterance of the language of prayer by men in a state of the highest mental and moral excitement [Begeisterung], whose words needed an intelligent interpretation, according to 1 Cor. Acts 14:0. The advocates of this opinion usually assume that this historical element had been converted by tradition into a literal speaking in foreign languages, precisely as the present narrative describes the occurrence. This interpretation is adopted by Baur, de Wette, Hilgenfeld and Meyer; but Meyer, in addition, combines with this interpretation the view of Paulus, stated above (under No. 1), and assumes that some of the speakers who were inspired in this manner, were foreigners, whose “tongue-speaking” was heard in their respective native dialects; this latter explanation contradicts the letter and spirit of the narrative before us in the most positive manner. The decision of the present point depends partly on the parallel passages in the first Epistle to the Corinthians, etc., which treat of the glossolaly [speaking with tongues,], and, partly, on the alleged impossibity of such a miraculous speaking with tongues.
(I). The parallel passages claim respectively, at the outset, an interpretation of their own, independently of each other; of the two, viz. Acts Acts 2:0, and 1 Cor. Acts 14:0, neither is to be primarily employed in interpreting the other; but when each has been separately considered, the relation in which they stand to each other can be satisfactorily exhibited, and that relation is an exegetical problem, the solution of which is indispensable. It is true that at a time when commentators generally were inclined to adopt 1 Cor. Acts 14:0., as their guide in interpreting Acts Acts 2:0., and when they understood the latter passage as describing an ecstatic speaking with tongues exclusively, Bäumlein adopted an opposite course, and, not without a certain degree of success, explained 1 Cor. Acts 14:0. as referring to a speaking in foreign languages. Still, the difficulties which attend the explanation of the latter passage, have not in every particular been removed; see the Commentary on the chapter [by C. F. Kling, in a subsequent volume.—Tr.]. The Corinthian and the Pentecostal speaking with tongues coincide in the following points: (1) It was in both cases an extraordinary influence and gift of the Holy Spirit, α χάρισμα, Acts 2:4; (2) on both occasions the Spirit of God took possession of the soul of the speaker with great power, insomuch that the free action of the will and the self-consciousness of the latter at last receded; a mental state ensued so strange and mysterious in its character, as to produce on the minds of some spectators the impression, corresponding to their general views, that they beheld a case of drunkenness, while others regarded it as a case of madness; comp. 1. Cor. Acts 14:23; (3) in both instances this γλῶσσαις λαλεῖν did not result in a didactic discourse, but was the language of devotion, in which the praise and honor of God were proclaimed.—On the other hand, each case exhibits distinctive features of its own: (1) The speaking of the disciples. Acts 2:0., was intelligible, and was consequently understood by the hearers without the assistance of others, Acts 2:8; Acts 2:11, whereas the Corinthian speaking with tongues could not possibly be understood without the aid of an interpreter, 1 Corinthians 14:2; 1 Corinthians 14:13; 1Co 14:16; 1 Corinthians 14:27-28; (2) the speaking described in Acts, Acts 2:0., was clearly a speaking in foreign languages, whereas not a single distinct and unequivocal expression in 1 Cor. Acts 14:0, intimates that such was the case in Corinth.—It appears, then, that certain essential features of both occurrences are the same, while important differences between the two are discoverable; we are, consequently, not authorized to assume that the one described in Acts, Acts 2:0., was necessarily like the other in all its features, and that the differences which are now noticed are merely legendary variations.
(II). Such a mythical interpretation, however, would have scarcely been suggested, if some writers had not likewise assumed that a miraculous gift of tongues is an impossibility. Zeller (Apost. 1854), who adopts this view in its extreme form, has declared that the narrative of the Pentecostal event is unhistorical in every respect, that it is a mere legend proceeding from certain conceptions in the minds of its original authors, and that it possesses no foundation whatever in fact. But on what grounds is such an event declared to be impossible? Meyer alleges: “The sudden communication of the gift of speaking in foreign languages is neither logically possible, nor psychologically and morally conceivable.” Now, with regard to the logical possibility, we know that all men in essential points occupy the same position, and that hence in essential features all languages resemble each other, so that every man possesses the key for understanding, and the capacity for acquiring, all languages. And the possibility of conceiving of the event psychologically, is denied chiefly for the twofold reason, that the disciples are supposed to have delivered formal and extended addresses in foreign languages, and, that they permanently retained the ability to express themselves in any and every foreign language. But there is not a single intimation given in the entire history of the apostles that the latter was the case; the section before us, on the contrary, describes a phenomenon which soon passed away, and to which the psychological difficulty, therefore, which has been adduced, does not apply. The whole question, indeed, assumes another form when we give due attention to the fact that the statements of Luke by no means suggest the thought that the disciples delivered extended discourses in foreign languages, but rather imply that their speaking with tongues consisted simply in brief utterances or effusions of the powerful emotions of their hearts, by which they were impelled to praise God for his wonderful works and gracious deeds. Now if, under such circumstances, they expressed themselves in foreign languages, the phenomenon would very inappropriately be assigned to the class of natural and ordinary occurrences, as the so-called “natural mode of interpretation” has attempted to do, since Luke’s report undeniably represents the whole as a wonderful and truly amazing occurrence. Still, when the assertion is repeated that the whole occurrence is psychologically and morally inconceivable, and therefore impossible, we may, in addition, refer to analogous facts, such as the following:—Somnambulists and persons who were placed under magnetic influences or appeared in a highly excited state of mind, have been known to speak, not in their usual provincial dialect, but in a pure and elevated style, with which they had previously not been at all familiar, or even in foreign languages; another analogous case may be found in the accounts furnished by persons who were present, respecting the speaking with tongues of the Irvingites, about the beginning of the third decade of the present century. While, then, the event itself, when the disciples were filled with the Spirit, or when their souls were controlled and exalted by the Spirit of God, must undoubtedly be regarded as miraculous, and as proceeding from an extraordinary and heavenly influence, we must with equal reason regard this peculiar manifestation of the Spirit, namely, through the medium of other dialects and languages, as having also been miraculous in its character.
Acts 2:12-13.—And they were all amazed.—The view of the occurrence which has just been given, was, accordingly, entertained by many of the spectators at the time, who wondered and inquired with reverence and devout feeling; Acts 2:7-8; Acts 2:11-12. They were men who were open to the influences of the truth, and whom Luke describes in Acts 2:5, as “devout,” God-fearing men. [εν̓λαβής, “timens, relate ad Deum=pius, reverens Deum.” Wahl: Clavis N. T.—Tr.]. But all the spectators did not entertain such sentiments. There were persons present who remained unmoved, and who yielded to a spirit of levity; they would not permit this divine manifestation to make an impression on their hearts, but rather attempted to degrade and profane that which was holy and divine. These men declared that the words which they heard were merely the senseless speech of men who were unusually excited by strong drink, and that it was not the Spirit of God, but the spirit of wine by which they were impelled to speak. It is obvious that such language would have been altogether unmeaning, and could not have occurred to these scoffers, if the deportment of the disciples and the manner in which they spoke had not been unusual, or had not indicated a high degree of mental excitement. But if such was really the case, we have not sufficient grounds for terming these men blasphemers, in the proper sense of the word, much less can we accuse them, as some have done, of committing the sin against the Holy Ghost; Peter himself admonishes them, Acts 2:15, in mild terms only, and exhibits no traces of indignant feelings. Many interpreters assume that the scoffers were all residents of Jerusalem, and that the others, whose words are quoted in Acts 2:7; Acts 2:12, as those of thoughtful men, were foreign Jews; the former are supposed, for instance, to be persons whose religious feelings had been “blunted by familiarity with holy things.” But the text affords no support for this view; the Israelites from foreign countries are evidently placed in the foreground, chiefly for the purpose of presenting the fact more prominently, that the disciples, when filled with the Spirit, had spoken in a variety of languages and dialects. There were, doubtless, reflecting and devout men, found likewise among the inhabitants of the city, and some of the scoffers may have been foreigners.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. As soon as the Holy Spirit was poured out and had filled the souls of the disciples, the praises of God flowed in a full stream from their lips; the sacred fire from above had enkindled their souls, and the tribute which their devout feelings offered, rose again, like ascending flames, to heaven. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” Matthew 12:34. The most profound and holy thoughts and feelings are those which can least of all endure constraint; they will break forth and proclaim their power aloud. The soul, struggling in its narrow enclosure with the powerful emotions which move it, finds relief in words. The eternal Son of God himself is called “The Word,” and the soul, too, employs words in describing the gifts received from the Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. God’s wonderful gift of speech, the prerogative of man alone, although polluted by sin and the depravity of man, is cleansed, consecrated anew, and sanctified by the Spirit of God.
2. The speaking in foreign tongues was a sign of the Holy Ghost. It was a holy speaking of holy things—a speaking of the wonderful works of God, not of the petty affairs of men, and in so far it was an illustration of the holiness of the Spirit. It was a speaking in many different dialects and languages; herein were revealed alike the comprehensive character of the gift of the Spirit, and also its reference to the human species—the Spirit of God was a gift designed for all countries, nations, and tongues. This ability to speak in foreign languages was not acquired after much labor had been bestowed, and time and various aids had been employed, but was freely granted, and was solely a gift of divine grace—a sign of the favor and the grace which characterize the operations of the Spirit of God.
3. The fact that Israelites from all the known countries of the world were here present as witnesses of the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, is an evidence that the judgments of God also include gracious purposes, and that his chastisements proceed from a merciful design. The people of Israel had been scattered abroad among all nations on account of their apostasy—in earlier ages in the East, and subsequently, in the West also. But now, Jews and proselytes from all these countries assemble in Jerusalem, and are permitted to be eye-witnesses and ear-witnesses of the operations of the Holy Spirit; these were a pledge that the grace of God in Christ was designed for all countries, nations, and tongues. And it was precisely the dispersion of the Jews among all the known nations of the world that opened a pathway for the passage of the Gospel from the people of God to the Gentiles.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Acts 2:5. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.—O how wonderful is the faithfulness of our God, who, even amid the most severe judgments that overtake his disobedient people, prepares a path way for the Gospel which is unto salvation! The Jewish people had, in accordance with the threatenings of God, been scattered among all nations on account of their sins, and had thus acquired the respective languages of those nations. And now God employs these as the means for communicating his word and the great salvation wrought by Christ, to all nations. He who surveys such deeds with the eye of faith, may with truth exclaim: “I remember thy judgments of old, O Lord; and I comfort myself.” Psalms 119:52. (Apost. Past.).—Often when an individual undertakes a journey, or engages in a good work, the blessing of God is added, and conducts him to the way of salvation; see Acts 8:27 f. (Starke).—Devout men.—In those who are truly converted, God begins a good work, at an early period, and opens the way for the operations of his grace. (Starke).—A devout spirit is precious in the eyes of God: I. It prompts to willing and continued obedience when God leads; II. Its reward consists in still more precious gifts of divine grace.—“Whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance” [Matthew 13:12].—“He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much.” [Luke 16:10].—It is not in increasing stores of knowledge, but in true godliness and uprightness of spirit, that your real advantages consist.—The dispersion of Israel, a wonderful illustration of the divine government of the world; viewed, I. As the merited punishment of their sins; II. As an effectual means for extending a knowledge of the true God; III. As a promising indication and an instrument in reference to the propagation of the Gospel.—The judgments of God during this season of grace, are always channels through which his grace, too, abundantly flows.—In God’s hand, the staff called “Bands” may at any time be converted into the staff “Beauty.” [Zechariah 11:7]. (Lechler).
Acts 2:6. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded.—The curiosity of men, manifested alike in the days of Christ and the apostles, and in our own, must, in accordance with the example of the first witnesses of our Saviour, be so employed by us as to promote the interests of the kingdom of Christ. Wherever that kingdom comes in reality, or is preached in truth and purity, and in the power of God, the previous repose of men is greatly disturbed. Even the amazement and confusion of mind which the Gospel produces, when it comes in power, often render valuable services. We cannot, on the other hand, regard it as a good sign, when all things proceed in their usual quiet course, and when the preaching of the Gospel produces no movement among men. (Ap. Past.).—The instructive fact that the Father can employ even the curiosity of men as the means of conducting souls to the Son. (Lechler).—The advantages possessed by the Gospel, as compared with the Law: when the law was given, the people fled [Hebrews 12:18-24; Exod. Acts 19:0]; here, they are drawn together. (Starke).—Men are sometimes conducted to the way of salvation by an alarm, which is employed as the means of preparing their hearts, (ib.).—Every man heard them speak in his own language.—Every man heard the glorious deeds of God proclaimed in his language. Do we, who are ambassadors of Christ, also take so deep an interest in the spiritual welfare of each individual among our hearers? Or do we content ourselves with making, at all times, only a general public statement of the truth? (Ap. Past.).
Acts 2:7. They were all amazed and marvelled.—Amazement at great events, the means through which at times God makes known his salvation. (Lechler). Amazement or wonder may indeed prepare the heart for receiving a deep impression from the word of God; but it should also impel us, as the intended result, to praise and adore the grace and truth of God.—Are not all these which speak Galileans?—A faithful witness of the truth may easily endure it, when others look down on him as on a “Galilean.” Was not such the experience of David, of Paul (2 Corinthians 10:10), and even of our Lord himself? (John 1:46).
Acts 2:8-11. How hear we every man in our own tongue, etc.—Luke is not unmindful of the progress of the Gospel when he adopts the present arrangement of the representatives of the many nations now assembled in Jerusalem, and introduces them as speakers.—The commemoration of the wonderful works of God was not unfamiliar to Jewish ears (Psalms 71:19). But no ear had ever previously heard of those wonderful works of God which the Holy Ghost on this occasion taught the hearts and lips of the disciples to praise. The language of the Jews was too feeble to describe their grandeur; it needed all the tongues of the world to publish and to glorify the works of the Saviour of the world. (Besser).—How gratefully we should confess the goodness of God in permitting us to read and hear the Gospel in our own native language!—The wonderful works of God, viewed as the subject of which the Bible chiefly treats.—The truth that the divine gift of speech cannot be more appropriately applied, than when it is consecrated to God and to the interests of his kingdom. (Lechler). The Hallelujah of the world, sung by innumerable voices to the honor of God: the hymn of praise, I. Was commenced on the morning of the creation, in the kingdom of nature; II. Was commenced anew on the day of Pentecost, in the kingdom of grace; III. Will be more perfectly continued (but not end) on the day of the revelation of the Lord, in the kingdom of glory.
Acts 2:12. They were all amazed, etc.—Even such amazement may ultimately conduct men to salvation, since God does not begin his work in their souls, until their reason has discovered its own errors, and confesses its feebleness. (Starke).—Now when the question dictated by wonder: “What meaneth this?” is changed into the question, “What shall I do?” and proceeds from a deeply moved and penitent heart, the way of salvation is opened. (Leonh. and Sp.).
Acts 2:13. Others mocking said, etc.—Although such scoffing is one of the most mournful evidences of a Satanic opposition to the kingdom of Christ, the teacher of religious truth is, nevertheless, not excusable when he allows it to arouse his indignation so highly that he casts the scoffer altogether from his path, or even by scornful words and pointed reflections exasperates such persons anew; they are, in truth, entitled to our pity. He should therefore endure them with gentleness of spirit, and persevere in his efforts to rescue some of these wretched men from destruction.—When we closely examine the scoffs and blasphemies of Satan, we can always discover from them that such wonderful works of God overwhelm him with confusion, and that he sometimes emits blasphemies which are either totally devoid of meaning, or else self-contradictory, as exemplified here in the words: “They are full of new wine.” (Ap. Past.).—“The world loves to tarnish shining objects, and to drag those that are exalted down into the dust.” (Schiller).—O how often this mocking is only the veil assumed by a desperate spirit! The strongest convictions of the truth are frequently produced on the heart of such a man; he well knows the divine character of the Gospel; but he attempts to repress his convictions, and will not permit them to come to the light of day, for he loves darkness rather than light; hence he endeavors to escape their force by resorting to ridicule and jests. (L. Hofacker).—How shall we secure ourselves from taking offence at holy things in consequence of erroneous judgments? I. By carefully maintaining sentiments of profound reverence in our souls, with respect to God and divine things; II. By making ourselves thoroughly acquainted with the sinfulness of man in our own case, and in the case of others; III. By constantly remembering the contradiction and opposition which God’s works have encountered among men, even from the beginning. (Lechler).—The Gospel, to some the savour of life unto life, to others the savour of death unto death [2 Corinthians 2:16].—Christ is still set in our day for the fall and rising again of many. [Luke 2:34]. (ib.).
The significance of the Pentecostal gift: I. It was a token given to Israel; II. It was a prefiguration of God’s dealings with the Gentiles, namely, (a) of the call given to all nations; (b) of the election of those who seek salvation; (c) of the rejection of those who scoff at the wonderful works of God; III. It is still a rich source of hope, consolation and encouragement for all true Christians. (Harless).—The outpouring of the Holy Ghost on the disciples of the Lord: I. The circumstances which necessarily preceded such an event; II. The external signs which attended it; III. The power of the Holy Ghost, manifested at once in the disciples; IV. The impressions made on the assembled multitude. (Langbein).—The miracle of the Pentecostal gift: I. In the world, a mystery of foolishness; (a) “What meaneth this?” (b) “They are full of new wine.” II. In Christ, a mystery unto salvation; (a) a mystery—sudden; invisible; wonderful; (b) in Christ made manifest unto salvation—made manifest (by being with one accord together; by prayer; by a holy walk)—unto salvation (for all nations and times). (C. Beck: Hom. Repert.).—The operations of the Holy Spirit: I. The manner in which they are conducted; II. The results which they produce. (Kapff).—The Christian Church, originally founded by the outpouring of the Holy Ghost: I. By what circumstances was the way for this event prepared? (a) Externally, by the fulfilment of an appointed time; (b) internally, by the continuing together of the apostles with one accord. II. What circumstances attended the event itself? (a) Externally, wonderful signs; (b) internally, wonderful influences. III. What impressions did the multitude receive from it? (a) Externally, the effect of the singular character of the testimony of the disciples (mockery); (b) internally, the effect of the truths proclaimed (confusion of mind). (Lisco).—The outpouring of the Holy Ghost, an image of regeneration (Homily). I. The praying Church; II. The sound from heaven; III. The holy flames; IV. The preaching with new tongues, (ib.)—The confused voices of the world when the Holy Spirit bears witness: I. “Are not all these Galileans?” The world takes offence at the persons of the witnesses. II. “How hear we in our own tongue?” It is arrested by the voice of conscience responding to the truth. III. “What meaneth this?” It distrusts the issue of the ways of God. IV. “They are full of new wine.” It mistakes the source of the operations of the Spirit.—The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God. [1 Corinthians 2:14]. I. The disciples of the Spirit are too mean in his eyes, Acts 2:7; II. The Spirit’s witness is too mighty for him, Acts 2:8-11; III. The Spirit’s purpose is too lofty for him, Acts 2:12; IV. The Spirit’s source is too profound for him, Acts 2:13.—The impressions made on the individual by divine things, correspond in their character to the actual state of his mind and heart; I. The thoughtless gaze in ignorant wonder; the reflecting, with adoring praise: II. The guilty listen with confusion and terror; the justified, with holy joy; III. The wicked are prompted to indulge in foolish mocking: earnest inquirers are filled with holy awe.—[Illustrations of the divine attributes, derived from the outpouring of the Spirit (love; wisdom: power; truth, etc.).—Illustrations of the future blessedness of believers, derived from the outpouring of the Spirit (personal merit not the the cause; no hinderances insurmountable; suited to the nature and capacity of the creature; gives glory to God, etc.).—The continued operations of the Holy Spirit in the Church.—The outpouring of the Holy Ghost, a triumphant display of divine grace: I. In its original design; (a) such a gift could not have been conceived of by man; (b) was, therefore, unsought; (c) and totally undeserved; II. Its actual occurrence; (a) the subjects (disciples); (b) witnesses; (c) immediate effects (Church founded); III. Its permanent results; (a) preservation of divine truth in the Church; (b) conversion of sinners; (c) sanctification, etc.—Tr.].—Comp. the Hom. and Pract. remarks below, on Acts 2:14-21.
Acts 2:6; Acts 2:6. a.—[The margin of the English Bible (which in the text follows Tyndale, Cranmer, Geneva,) renders more literally: when this voice was heard (Rheims and Coverd.: voice). But as φωνή never means report or rumor elsewhere, while it does occur in connection with the mention of wind, thunder, etc., as in John 3:8; Revelation 6:1, etc., Lechler, in the present translation, with many eminent critics and translators, regards it as another term for “sound,” the ἦχος of Acts 2:2.—Tr.]
Acts 2:6; Acts 2:6. b.—[Margin: troubled in mind; Vulg. mente confusa est. The original implies that the minds of the people were perturbed, or in a state of confusion, indicated by the tumult and eager inquiries which succeeded. Lechler: bestuerzt.—Tr.]
Acts 2:7; Acts 2:7. a.—The text. rec. inserts πάντες after ἐξίσταντο δὲ [with A. C. E. Cod. Sin. (ἁπάντες). Vulg. (omnes)]; it has been very properly omitted by recent critics in accordance with important manuscripts [B. D.], ancient translations, and also the example of Chrysostom and Augustine; this addition was designed to be emphatic. [Omitted by Lach., Scholz, Tisch., Born., and Alf.—Tr.]
Acts 2:7; Acts 2:7. b.—It is, however, more doubtful than in the former case, whether πρὸς [of text. rec.] is also a later addition to the text, as Lachmann, who omits it, supposes. [Omitted in A. B. C. Cod. Sin. Vulg., and dropped also by Tisch. and Alf., but found in D. E. “An explanatory gloss.” (Alf.)—Tr.]
Acts 2:12; Acts 2:12.—In place of τί ἂν θέλοι [of text. rec. with E.] Lach. [Tisch.] and Bornemann, with C. D. A., and Chrysostom, read τί θέλει; the latter is an unauthorized correction [as Alf. also believes], founded on the supposition that τί ἂν θέλοι is an indirect question, which is not the case.—[Cod. Sin. reads τι θέλοι.—Tr.]
Acts 2:13; Acts 2:13.—[The text. rec. has χλενάζουτες with E. and many minuscules; in place of it, the compound διαχλευάζοντες is substituted by recent editors (Tisch., Lach., Stier, Alf.) as “more emphatic” (de Wette), and more in accordance with the best manuscripts, viz., A. B. C. D. (corrected) Cod. Sin.—Tr.]
C.— The testimony of peter
Contents:—Peter arises and asks for attention, Acts 2:14; he says: (1). These scenes are the fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy, Acts 2:15-21; (2) Jesus of Nazareth, whom ye slew, has been raised up. in accordance with the prophecies of David, Acts 2:22-32; (3) This exalted Jesus, the Lord and Messiah, has now poured out the Spirit, Acts 2:33-36.
§ I.—Peter stands forth, and addresses the multitude. He explains that this astonishing course of action on the part of the disciples, is not the effect of drunkenness, but is occasioned by the fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy, namely, the outpouring of the Spirit of God in the last days
14But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judea [Jewish men], and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this knownunto you, and hearken to my words: 15For these are not drunken, as ye suppose,seeing [for] it is but the third hour of the day. 16But this is that which was spokenby the prophet Joel; 17And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God. I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall [will] prophesy, and your young men shall [will] see visions, and your old men shall dream [will have] dreams:9 18And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out inthose days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19And I will shew [do] wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke;20The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great.and notable10 day of the Lord come: 21And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Acts 2:14-15. (a) But Peter, standing up, etc.—The apostles were authorized, and, indeed, impelled by a sense of duty, in view alike of the amazement and inquiries of the devout, and of the scoffs of the others, to address the assembled multitude, and deliver their testimony. Hitherto all the disciples of Jesus had pursued the same course, but at this point, the Apostles, mindful of the will and words of Jesus: “Ye shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem,” (Acts 1:8), presented themselves to the multitude. Their public appearance is described in solemn language: Peter stood up with the eleven, as the leader of the latter, “the mouth of the apostles and their corypheus” (Chrys.), quick in his movements and resolute, bold in his faith and eloquent. The position which he took in the sight of the multitude (σταθείς), was not, however, isolated, as his eleven fellow-apostles surrounded him, and also addressed the people, at least, subsequently, Acts 2:37-40. Peter lifted up his voice, so that the thousands who stood before him might hear distinctly; his good conscience and joy of soul gave him confidence and strength. He spoke in a solemn, distinct and intelligible manner, and praised God, not in an ecstatic state, but with self-possession; his whole demeanor, his voice, and his words, revealed entire sobriety.
b. Ye men of Judea.—The manner in which Peter begins his address indicates that truths of high importance are to be communicated. He speaks to the assembled Jews with simple dignity, and modestly but emphatically entreats them to listen, and lay his words to heart. He spoke undoubtedly in the Aramæan, the language of the country, which all the hearers could understand.
c. These are not drunken.—He replies at once to the mocking language of some of the Spectators, and repels their degrading charge by referring to the early hour of the day. The third hour of the day, extending from eight to nine o’clock in the morning, according to the modern computation, was the first of the three stated hours of daily prayer [see below, Acts 3:1 c. and Acts 10:3-6.—Tr.] which coincided with the morning sacrifice [Exodus 29:38-42; Numbers 28:3-8]; the Israelites were not allowed by devout usage to partake of food and drink until this hour had expired, particularly, when the festivals occurred. The calmness with which Peter replies to the mockers, is well worthy of attention; he is as dignified as he is prudent in his language, when he assumes that such is the sincere, although unfounded, opinion of these people, and refrains from accusing them of uttering malicious and slanderous remarks in opposition to their own secret convictions. When he here speaks of the disciples in the third person [ον̓τοι], he by no means intends to exclude himself and the other apostles from the number of those who spake with tongues, as de Wette supposes, [overlooking ἅπαντες in Acts 2:4, and] assuming that the speaking with tongues proceeded from an inferior grade of inspiration, of which the apostles would have been ashamed. Peter adopts that phraseology simply because he is himself at the moment speaking in the ordinary style, and temporarily associates himself with the spectators, so that he might the more effectually establish the truth respecting the real nature of the occurrence: he unquestionably includes himself in his defence of the Whole number of the disciples.
Acts 2:16-21. But this is, etc.—A simple denial is never regarded as a sufficient defence against a charge, and is not adapted to make a favorable impression. We cannot convince others, unless we not only deny, but also affirm, that is, prove the truth. This course Peter pursues. He declares that the event which had just occurred, and had so greatly amazed his hearers, was nothing less than a fulfilment of the divine promise given through the prophet Joel (Acts 2:28-32). The prophet announces, in the name of God, that after his people had endured heavy judgments, a season of grace should arrive, distinguished by a general and abundant outpouring of the Spirit of God. He announces, further, that previously to the last judgment, the enemies of God shall be visited with a succession of terrible judgments, while all the true people of God shall find protection and deliverance. God promises, in a special manner, to pour out of his Spirit upon all flesh, that is, not upon certain individuals only, but upon the whole human race, without distinction of sex, age, or station, even as a rain that is graciously sent to water the whole land. “To prophesy, to see visions, and to dream dreams,” are each specified as operations of the Spirit of God, and as evidences of an overflowing outpouring of the Spirit. The bodily senses are more impressible in the case of the young, while the inner sense is more acute in the old; hence, “visions” are promised to the former, and “dreams” to the latter, although these gifts are not confined to each class respectively. In the prophecy of Joel, the promise of the gracious gift of the Spirit is combined with intimations of the judgments that shall overtake the enemies of God, and of the signs that shall precede that awful final judgment. These signs will appear partly on earth, namely, the shedding of blood and vast conflagrations, partly in the heavens above, namely, eclipses of the sun and moon, together with other fearful phenomena. All these things shall precede that great day of the Lord, on which his irrevocable decisions and final judgments shall be manifested. But while these awful punishments bring destruction upon the enemies of God, deliverance and salvation are prepared for those who “call on the name of the Lord;” that is, for those who believe in God, even as he is revealed to them, who humbly obey, offer devout prayer, and consecrate their hearts and lives to him.—When the prophet mentions the great day of the Lord, he doubtless refers to the times of the Messiah, although he does not introduce that name. He speaks of the end of the world, which he is called to describe chiefly in its awful aspects, as a time in which terrible judgments will come upon the wicked. Still, he also addresses consolatory words and soothing promises to those who devoutly worship and obey God. Periods of time of great length, and widely separated, are obviously grouped together in this prophecy; it is, however, a peculiarity of the language of prophecy, that it presents one comprehensive view of future events, which, when they actually occur, are found to be separated by wide intervals of time.—How did Peter understand and apply this prophecy? With respect to the language, it will be perceived that he does not give a strictly literal version of the Hebrew, but quotes with a certain degree of freedom, while he adopts to some extent the rendering of the Septuagint. At the commencement of the passage, he deviates from the original, to which the Alexandrian version adheres. For the word “afterward” he substitutes the phrase, “in the last days,” [for which see below, Doctr., etc., No. 1.—Tr.], in order to specify, with greater precision, the period to which the prophecy alludes, in conformity to other prophetic passages [e. g. Isaiah 2:2; Micah 4:1]. Further, he deviates from the Hebrew, but agrees with the Septuagint in the phrase: “I will pour out of my Spirit” [ἀπὸ], while Joel says:אֶת־רוּחיStill, we should assign undue importance to the partitive expression [of the Greek], if, with Starke, we understand it to be designed as an antithesis to the entire fulness of the Spirit which is in Christ; comp. Colossians 1:19. We can as little accord with Olshausen, who here finds an indirect allusion to a future outpouring of the entire fulness of the Spirit in the Church, when it will have attained to its perfected state [when all nations shall have been received into it (Olsh.).—Tr.]. The phrase in question is very probably intended only to distinguish the whole fulness of the Spirit of God in itself, or as a whole, from the outpouring of the Spirit on individuals.—Lastly, Joel speaks, in the Hebrew, of “servants and handmaids,” that is, slaves in the proper sense of the word. When Peter, in accordance with the Septuagint, terms them δον́λονς—δον́λας, it is not his intention that the difference in station should be made to disappear entirely from the view (Meyer) [and that the fact should be set forth more prominently, that persons of both sexes belonged to the Christian people of God]; he, rather, intends to give a prominent position to the fact that the male and female slaves upon whom the Spirit is poured out, must have previously been devout persons, or servants of God.
When Peter says (Acts 2:16): “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel,” he undoubtedly maintains that the prophecy is fulfilled on the present occasion; still, he does not assert that it was now fulfilled in every point, and on this occasion alone, or that such fulfilment was confined to the present moment. He has, besides, a special object in view, when, in place of pausing at Acts 2:18, he continues in Acts 2:19-21 to quote from the prophet; namely, he assigns a conspicuous position to the prophetic revelations of the divine judgments, and even of the final judgment, in order that he might make known to his hearers the end which awaits the enemies of God (comp. Acts 2:35). and thus the more emphatically direct inquiring souls to Jesus Christ, as the Saviour and deliverer from such a mournful lot.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. How are we to understand the words: the last days?—Peter regards the outpouring of the Spirit as the fulfilment of that prophecy concerning the last times; nevertheless, many centuries, and, indeed, well-nigh two thousand years, have passed away, since he pronounced these words. How shall this apparent discrepancy be explained? It is, in the first place, certain that the term: “the last days” denotes, not a single point of time, but an entire period, including a succession of times, and, consequently, also a process of development. It must be remembered, in the second place, that all the prophecies of the Old Testament reach their ultimate limit, or are fulfilled in the Messianic age, of which the advent of the Anointed One constitutes the central point. The New Testament, accordingly, represents the appearance of Jesus Christ, in connection with the attendant circumstances, as the beginning of the last time; comp. Hebrews 1:2. It is quite possible that the disciples did not imagine that so many centuries would intervene between the “beginning of the end,” and the extreme end itself. Nevertheless, the view which Peter indicates, when he uses the phrase in question, involves the following great and incontestable truths:—Christ is the culmination of the world’s history; his appearance on earth was the end of the old world, the fulfilment of the hopes and longings of the world, the goal which struggling mankind sought to reach, the realization of God’s plan of grace; and, now that he has appeared, subsequent events can only be the gradual revelation and execution of his atoning work, until it is consummated, or until He comes a second time, who has already once appeared on earth. And the more diligently and humbly our faith ponders the twofold truth, that Christ’s Person stands alone [no other like it, by any possibility, being in existence], and, that the fulness of his work [which supplies every want] admits of no repetition, the more clearly will we perceive the truth of such a view of the times.
2. While Peter recognizes the fulfilment of the prophecy of Joel in the outpouring of the Spirit, particularly in the indiscriminate communication of the gifts of the Spirit to persons of different ages and conditions, and of both sexes, he bears witness to the adjustment and equalization through Christ of those opposite states or conditions which prevail in the world. These presented the most striking contrast, or the most fully developed contrariety among pagans, that is, fallen men who were out of the pale of covenantal revelation. We mention, as instances, the differences between the condition of man and that of woman, and the oppression to which the female sex was subjected; the contrasts between masters and slaves, and the failure to recognize the dignity and the rights of man in the latter; and, to a certain extent, the contempt and ill treatment to which old age is exposed in some nations. The law of God, even within the pale of the old covenant, directed attention to the adjustment and the reconciling of these different opposite states, in its provisions, for instance, respecting the relations between masters and servants: the female sex, however, did not fully rise to its proper level, under the Mosaic law. The sign of the covenant was given to the male sex alone, and the promises and predictions respecting more extended privileges refer only to the future, the Messianic age. The complete adjustment of these relations was not accomplished until the Gospel concerning Christ was given; for in him, first, as the Person of the God-Man, human nature was manifested in its perfect state. And it is precisely the gift of the Spirit, proceeding from the Father and the Son, which adjusts and produces harmony in the different states and conditions of those who belong to the human race. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28.
3. Divine grace and divine judgments are the subjects which both the prediction of Joel and the discourse of Peter discuss. The glance which both direct us to cast at the great and terrible day of the Lord, teaches us to value, and to be grateful for, that grace of God which renews and ultimately saves man, and to call on the name of the Lord with faith. The atoning and redeeming work of Christ, which is, pre-eminently the subject to which Peter here refers, cannot be clearly seen, nor can its inestimable value be understood, until we have surveyed the abyss of misery and damnation from which we are delivered by Christ alone. “Mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” James 2:13.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Acts 2:14. But Peter, standing up, etc.—Peter was sitting, when he received the gift of the Spirit; he and the other apostles were, if we may employ the image, gloriously entertained at the table of God; he now appears on the field of battle, in which he is expected to apply the powers that grace had bestowed upon him. But when the holy apostle begins to speak, it is obviously not his main purpose to protect his own reputation and that of his fellow-apostles from the aspersions of others, but to maintain the honor of his crucified Saviour, and to secure the salvation of his hearers, even of those, too, who mocked him. If he had been the Peter of old, who, when the Saviour was seized, smote with the sword, his address would have exhibited a very different spirit. But the rashness and ardor of his nature were now subdued by heavenly influences, and his tongue, once too prompt to speak, had received the unction of the Holy Spirit; hence, he now combines gentleness with boldness, and wisdom with zeal, (Apost. Past.).—Behold the wonderful power of the Holy Ghost; fugitives are converted into resolute men; those who once denied Christ, boldly confess him; timid men are now heroes, who, armed with the sword of the Spirit, intrepidly face vast hosts; unlettered fishermen speak like accomplished orators, and act as reformers of the whole world. (Starke).—When the honor of God is assailed, or his name is blasphemed, we are not permitted to remain silent.—Our calmness in repelling slanders must correspond in degree to the malignity of our enemies; let us, as our duty requires, simply state the facts, and never revile or mock in return, (id.).—The Holy Ghost not only converts lambs into lions, but also lions into lambs.—Peter, standing up with the eleven.—All speak at first with tongues; then, they cease, and Peter alone comes forward and preaches the word; so, too, at our public worship, all sing together at first, and in a common hymn proclaim the wonderful works of God; then, one alone speaks, and preaches the word. On this account, even as the Holy Ghost, on the day of Pentecost, directed the disciples to observe silence, in order that the words of Peter, as a preacher of the Gospel, might be heard, so, too, he withdrew all those extraordinary gifts from the Church, after the lapse of some years, and permitted the office or ministry of reconciliation [2 Corinthians 5:18] alone to remain: and the gifts which he bestowed, were intended to be a testimony that his presence in the Church would always be found in connection with this office. (Muenkel: Epistelpredigten).—Ye men of Judea.—Peter does not attempt to overwhelm the mockers with the language of stern rebuke; he, rather, desires to free them from all self-delusion, and win them for the cause of the truth by a calm and even kind address.
Acts 2:15. These are not drunken, as ye suppose.—Peter refutes the slanderous charge with great mildness, and in very brief terms, not being disposed to expend his own time and that of his hearers in considering a subject that was so unworthy and frivolous. We might think that the language would not have been too harsh, if he had told the mockers that their tongues were set on fire of hell [James 3:6], and that their hearts were possessed by the devil, as the father of lies. But he merely says: “As ye suppose,”—i.e. as ye erroneously think. Now he accomplished far more by adopting this course than if he had employed the most severe words that his tongue could utter, and had thus increased the irritation of his hearers. The best vindication, in the case of the children of God, consists in their good and holy walk, when, with well doing, they put to silence the ignorance of foolish men [1 Peter 2:15]. (Apost. Past.).—The order of the words in the original (“Not as ye suppose, are these drunken”), suggests another thought of great depth;—“Unquestionably we are drunken, but drunken after sitting at the well-furnished table of the house, and drinking the sweet wine of gladness presented at the beginning of the marriage of the Lamb.” The outpouring of the Holy Ghost was truly a sweet and divine wine, which the Lord poured out, that they might drink it with him in his kingdom. (Leonh. and Sp.)
Acts 2:16. This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.—These words of Peter are designed to awaken the interest of the devout Jews, who waited for the promise of the prophet. He desired that they should hear and learn that the third hour of that day had brought with it an answer to all the prayers which their fathers had offered since that remote day on which the third hour of Israel was consecrated to the morning sacrifice. (Besser).—That teacher alone is competent to explain the word of the Lord correctly, who has himself been made a partaker of the Holy Ghost. Very rich and expressive explanations will flow from his lips, when he himself possesses the gift concerning which the prophets so abundantly bear witness in their writings. Davidica non intelligit qui non Davidica habet. (Apost. Past.).—The word of God, a sure light upon our path. Even the illumination of the Spirit can never render the written word superfluous. The apostle, when filled with the Spirit, seeks a firm foundation in the word of prophecy [2 Peter 1:19], not in his own internal illumination.—The word and the Spirit—in what relation do they stand to each other? I. The word is inspired by the Spirit, 1 Peter 1:11; II. The Spirit teaches us to understand, explain, and apply the word. (Lechler).
Acts 2:17-18. In the last days, etc.—All the days of the new covenant are the last days; and these are already far advanced. (Bengel).—I will pour out—not in drops, as under the old covenant, but in streams; “which he shed on us abundantly.” Titus 3:6.—Upon all flesh.—The word was made flesh [John 1:14], so that the Holy Ghost might be poured out upon all flesh, and convert us, who are carnal, into spiritual persons. (Starke).—This is the glorious promise of God, from which all believers under the new covenant may derive rich consolation. For this promise was not fulfilled on that holy day of Pentecost alone, but is also daily fulfilled through the Word and the Sacraments, so that, among believers, every day is a spiritual Pentecostal festival; and that fulfilment will never cease in the Christian Church, as long as the Word and the Sacraments endure. (John Arndt).—Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.—As the words of the prophet were fulfilled before the people both visibly and audibly, when the gift of foreign tongues was imparted, so, too, the other words of the prophet were fulfilled: “Your sons—your daughters—your young men—your old men, etc.,” namely, in the persons of all the disciples, who were united by a common faith in Jesus Christ, and on whom, without distinction of sex, age, or station, the Spirit was poured out. (Besser).—Prophecy, visions, and dreams, the three principal forms assumed by the influences of the Spirit under the old covenant, are exalted in character and united as a whole, when, under the new covenant, the Holy Spirit enters into the heart, and dwells in it. “For what are all other gifts, however numerous they may be, in comparison with this gift, when the Spirit of God himself, the eternal God, descends into our hearts, yea, into our bodies, and dwells in us, governs, guides, and leads us. Thus, with respect to this declaration of the prophet, prophecy, visions, and dreams, are, in truth, one precious gift, namely, the knowledge of God through Christ, which the Holy Ghost enkindles through the word of the Gospel, and converts into a flame of fire.” (Luther).—God does not promise and impart every gift to every individual, but a special gift to each one—that of prophecy to the sons and daughters, visions to the young, etc. (Starke).—The oneness of the gifts of the Spirit, and their difference: I. Oneness, in their (a) origin, (b) value, (c) purpose; II. Difference, (a) in form, (b) grade, (c) effects. The Holy Spirit is the only true equalizing power among men. (Lechler).
Acts 2:19-20. And I will shew wonders, etc.—The fire either serves as a baptism, or it consumes. God promises to baptize all flesh with his Spirit. He who rejects this baptism, is condemned already; to him the Pentecostal baptism comes as the “burning” of judgment, and the Pentecostal fire, as a “fire” of judgment (Isaiah 10:17); and to him, too, the antitype of the Pentecostal day of grace will come as that great and notable day of the Lord (Revelation 16:14). This day will be ushered in by wonders in heaven above, which will compel men to listen, and by signs in the earth beneath, which will be intelligible to believers, and afford them consolation. These wonders of wrath were foreshadowed when Israel nailed his King to the cross, for the sun was then turned into darkness. These wonders were repeated with still more power at the destruction of Jerusalem; blood, fire, and vapor of smoke filled the city. The light of the moon became red as blood, when it fell upon the pools of blood in the streets, and the sun has, since that day, withheld its healthful light from that desolated country.—At a later period the half-moon [Crescent] of Mohammed arose in blood over regions on which the bright light of the sun of salvation had once been shed, and the earth, sorely dishonored by the service of mammon, is ripe for the judgment pronounced in the words: “The strong shall be as tow, and his work [marg. version, and German] as a spark, and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them.” Isaiah 1:31. (Besser).—God does not separate punishments from the gifts of his grace; when the latter are despised, his wrath will follow.—Before God sends his judgments, he warns men, and calls them to repentance by the wonderful works which he performs. (Starke).—Amid all the judgments which overtake the world, the word of the Lord abides in his Church; hence, amid all the storms which threaten to destroy the Church, the believing children of God have abundant reason to be of good cheer, and to lift up their heads; comp. Psalms 46:0. (Ap. Past.).—God lavishes all his treasures on man; he sends his Son, and pours out his Spirit. What could have been done more, that he has not done? [Isaiah 5:4]. How terrible will that day of the Lord be, on which men will be called to give an account unto God for the blood of his Son, and the gracious gifts of his Spirit! (Quesnel).—The grace and the Judgments of God: I. The solemnity of his judgments imparts new glory to his grace; II. The solemnity of his grace imparts additional weight to his judgments. (Lechler).
Acts 2:21. Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.—In wrath God remembers mercy. Habakkuk 3:2; Malachi 3:17.—The entire Church consists of those who are “scarcely saved” [1 Peter 4:18], or, of the rebellious, who have surrendered unconditionally.—How great is the goodness of God! He has made the way of salvation easy: it consists in calling on the name of the Lord. Comp. Acts 16:31; Romans 10:13-15. (Starke).—Although contrition of heart, and godly sorrow on account of our sins, are indispensable, nevertheless, strictly speaking, it is faith, or the calling on the name of the Lord, by and through which we are justified and saved. [Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:8]; faith is, preëminently, the condition which is prescribed, as well when we are converted, as when we finish our course. (Apost. Past.).—To save men—such is the first vigorous act of the Church; for this great work she exists. When the divine judgments overwhelmed Jerusalem like a flood, the waves lifted up and carried the vessel of the Church of Christ even to the shores of the heathen world. Here she cast anchor, and threw out the rope of salvation to all men: “It shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord, shall be saved.” Whosoever! Listen, all ye, who have ears to hear: Whosoever! Now let him who has heard, throw out the rope of salvation to other perishing souls—in his own house—in the huts and by-ways of misery; let him assist in throwing it out among the nations that still languish in the dark night of heathenism.—Shall we complain of the word of the Lord, because we do not see all the signs of which Joel speaks? O let us, rather, praise the patience of the Lord! The cheerful light of the sun which he made, retained all its brightness, until the call was extended even to our fathers! And that sun will continue to shine until the lingering mariners of Christendom shall have guided the vessel to the last, unvisited shore, and shall have there, too, proclaimed: ‘It shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ This loud cry of the Church, proclaiming salvation, shall be repeated till the last hour arrives, and then be renewed with augmented power. And when in the final agony of a perishing world, the surging waves rise up like mountains, once more will the offer of tender, infinite mercy, be proclaimed: “He who calls, shall be saved!” Such is the action of the Church from the beginning to the end. (Zezschwitz: Sermons).—The act of calling on the Lord: it is, I. A result of faith; II. A source of salvation. (Lechler).
ON THE WHOLE SECTION.
The outpouring of the Holy Ghost: I. It bears witness to the truth of the Scriptures, Acts 2:16; II. It admonishes us to consider the solemn character of these last days, Acts 2:17; III. It affords consolation amid the trials and sorrows of the present times, Acts 2:17, (Leonh. and Sp.).
The Christian, in his conflict with unbelieving scoffers: I. He confesses the truth of God with power and joyfulness, Acts 2:14; II. He does not suffer himself to be provoked to anger, but manifests the gentle spirit of that love which hopes to reclaim wanderers, Acts 2:14; III. He does not employ the carnal weapons of temporal power or human wisdom, but wields the two-edged sword of the truth of God. (ib.).
What are the essential requisites, without which we cannot bear witness with a joyful spirit and with the divine blessing? I. A divine call; II. The unction of the Spirit; III. A good conscience; IV. The firm foundation of the Scriptures. (Lechler).
What course shall the Christian adopt when he is falsely accused? Let his statements and his actions be characterized by, I. Candor and fearlessness; II. Thoroughness and truth; III. Gentleness, and that charity which is not easily provoked, (ib.).
What course of conduct should we adopt, as disciples of Christ, when the Holy Spirit is blasphemed? I. Let us lift up our voices against impiety, whenever an opportunity is found; II. Let us oppose blasphemies directed against God’s word and promise, in an humble and charitable spirit; III. Let us diligently pray that the Lord may pour out of his Spirit upon all flesh. (Langbein).
The wonderful power of the Pentecostal Spirit, revealed in glory when the first Christian congregation was built up: we perceive here, I. A firm bond of union, not weakened by the varied characteristic features of the individuals; II. A well-sustained soberness, combined with the highest degree of inspiration; III. An humble, child-like simplicity in strong men, who are crowned with victory; IV. A faithful love to their own nation, united with a deep interest in the welfare of all mankind. (W. Hofacker).
The Holy Pentecostal Spirit, the almighty author of a new creation of mankind: I. The new creative breath which proceeds from him; II. The new spiritual language which he reveals; III. The new direction of life to which he gives an impulse. (id.)
The coming of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost: I. The circumstances which prepared the way for the Spirit; II. His solemn manifestation; III. His power in the believers; IV. His influences, designed for the whole world. (W. Hoffmann, in the Wilhelmsdorf Book of Sermons).
The language of the Holy Ghost: I. The mode in which it is uttered; II. The various modes in which men listen to it; (a) some are confused; (b) some Commit sin; (c) some are conducted to salvation (Staudt).
“These are not drunken, as ye suppose” —a vindication of the witnesses of the truth, and an answer to those who mock holy things: for, I. Drunkenness, (whether it be the gross vice of the inebriate, or the internal vice of the fanatic) darkens the mind; but in these men, the mind is clear, and their glance penetrates the mysteries of the divine word and the divine ways, Acts 2:16 ff. II. Drunkenness unchains the passions; but these men continue to be gentle and self-possessed, Acts 2:14 ff. III. Drunkenness passes away; but in these men the fire of faith, charity, and hope continues to burn, insomuch that no storms of trial or temptation can extinguish it (demonstrated by references to the life and the death of the apostles).
The Holy Spirit, the only true common spirit of mankind: for he alone breaks down every wall of partition that divides, I. Different ages and sexes; II. Different ranks and degrees of culture; III. Different nations and ages; Acts 2:16-18.
Hidden things revealed in the light of the Pentecostal festival: I. The counsels of the heart; (a) of the mockers; (b) of Peter and the disciples. II. The mysteries of the Scriptures; (a) the promises, Acts 2:16-18; (b) the the threatenings, Acts 2:19-20. III. The ways of God; (a) in past ages; (b) in the future.
(See also the Hom. and Pract. remarks below, on Acts 2:22-36, and Acts 2:37-41).
[Acts 2:17.—ἐνύπνια of the text. rec. with E., has been exchanged by Stier and later editors generally for ἐνυπνίοις, in accordance with A. B. C. D. (corrected) Cod. Sin. For examples in the N. T. of the accus. of conjugate nouns, see Winer, Gram. N. T. § 32. 2, and for the dat. ib. § 54. 3.—Tr.]
[Acts 2:20.—ἐπιφανῆ, text. rec. and Sept.; נוֹרָא; Luther and Lechler, in obsolescent German, offenbarlich. The Hebrew signifies terrible, if from יָרָא as usually explained, but glorious, if traced to רָאָה as is done by the Sept. (de Wette).—The words καὶ ἐπιφανῆ of Acts 2:20, and the whole of Acts 2:21, are omitted in the original text of Cod. Sin., but a later hand added the words found in Acts 2:21.—Tr.]
§ II.—Peter’s address, continued; he demonstrates that, although the Jews had crucified Jesus of Nazareth, he was, nevertheless, by virtue of his resurrection and exaltation (as a consequence of which he poured out the Holy Ghost,), in truth the Lord and the Messiah
22Ye men of Israel [Israelitish men], hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles [mighty works] and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also [omit also]11 know: 23Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken [Him, delivered according to the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have received],12 and by wicked hands [by the hand of lawless men]13 have crucified [affixed] and slain: [.] 24Whom [Him] God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death:14 because it was not possible that he should be holden of [overcome by] it. 25For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw [saw] the Lord always before my face; for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: 26Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover [yea] also my flesh shall rest in hope: 27Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [in the place of the dead (Todtenreich, hades)],15 neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 28Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with [before] thy countenance. 29Men and brethren, Let me [I may]16 freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that [David:] he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. 30Therefore being [Now as he was] a prophet, and knowing [knew] that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne [that of the fruit of his loins One should sit on his throne];17 31He, seeing this before, spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul [that he]18 was not left in hell [as in Acts 2:27], neither [and that] his flesh did [not] see corruption. 32This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. 33Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now [omit now]19 see and hear. 34For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35Until I make thy foes thy footstool. 36Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same [made this] Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Acts 2:22. a. Ye men of Israel.—Peter had hitherto exhibited the occurrence of the day in the light of the word of prophecy, and affirmed that it was the fulfilment of very solemn words of God, which, while they contained rich promises, set forth, at the same time, very impressive and alarming truths. His hearers are deeply moved, and their present devout frame of mind enables him to announce the main purpose of the miraculous event, and to unfold the fundamental truths which it taught. He testified publicly and explicitly, and in a manner which touched the conscience of the hearers, that Jesus of Nazareth, who had been crucified by his people, but had, in accordance with former promises, been raised up and exalted by God, had now poured out the Spirit, and that he is the Lord and Messiah [Χριστὸν, that is, The Anointed One, the current Greek translation of the Hebrew official title, Messiah.—Tr.]. Peter, accordingly, never loses sight of the great event of the day; the gift of the Holy Ghost, like a thread of gold, reflects its light in every part of the discourse. As the circumstances, however, assign the character of a missionary address to his words, these assume the form of a testimony which he bears to Jesus, who, as the Crucified, but also the Risen and Exalted One, is the Lord and Redeemer. On approaching this leading theme of his discourse, he again solicits his hearers to listen to his words.
b. Jesus of Nazareth.—When Peter names Jesus, he describes him personally as one whom God had preëminently distinguished by deeds and events (see below, the Doctr. and Ethical views), insomuch that the Israelites had been placed in a favorable position for recognizing in him an eminent personage, to whom God himself had borne witness (ἀποδεδειγμένον εἰς ὑμᾶς—έν μέσῳ ὑμῶν, καθὼς καὶ αὐτοὶ οῖδατε). Here already the apostle very plainly makes an appeal to the conscience of the hearer, and endeavors to awaken in him a deep sense of the atrociousness of the treatment which Jesus had received; this is his next topic.
Acts 2:23. Him—ye have, etc.—Peter presents the two-fold origin of the sufferings of Jesus—the human, and the divine. When the human influences which directly caused them, are considered, the whole was a complicate deed, in which various individuals coöperated. Those on whom the guilt of having slain Jesus chiefly rests, are the Israelites (προςπήξαντες ., Acts 2:23 : comp. Acts 2:36); the next, are the intermediate persons through whose direct instrumentality the Lord was affixed to the cross and executed, namely, the ἀνομοι, pagans, who were without the law (of Moses); these were Romans, and not merely the Roman soldiers, but also the Roman procurator. Lastly, there is at least an allusion, in the word ἔκδοτον, to the treachery of Judas. Peter addresses his hearers as if all were indiscriminately guilty: “ye have slain him”, while many are doubtless now among them who were not present in the city eight or nine weeks previously, during the last days of the Lord’s passion; it is, therefore, obvious that the crucifixion of Jesus was an act of the people, viewed as a whole—it was a common act, involving the whole people alike in common guilt.—Peter, in the next place, proceeds to answer the question which might naturally arise: “How could these things be permitted to take place, if Jesus was truly such a man of God?” In order to remove the offence which the Lord’s death on the cross might give, Peter now exhibits the other influence, or, the divine participation in the sufferings of Christ. He presents the following view:—They were endured in consequence of the fixed purpose and foreknowledge of God; that is to say, they were not simply the result of the uncontrolled action of human malice and sin. Those sufferings could not have advanced to such an extreme, if they had not been at the same time in accordance with the will of God, who had not only foreseen, but also positively decreed them. Hence, a divine decree was also carried into execution when Jesus suffered and died.
Acts 2:24. Whom God hath raised up.—When the apostle refers to the sufferings and death of Jesus, he utters thoughts of deep import, but the language itself is exceedingly concise. His remarks on the resurrection of Jesus, on the other hand, extend through not less than nine verses; he thereby indicates that this great fact was the most important of all those to which he directed attention, and that he regarded it as his chief task to explain it to his hearers in a convincing manner. His remarks on the resurrection involve two points. First, he bears witness in his own name, and in that of all the other apostles, that the resurrection of Jesus was a fact which had actually occurred (Acts 2:24; Acts 2:32). His testimony is sustained by the circumstance, (not, however, expressly mentioned by him,) that he and the Eleven had seen the Lord personally after his resurrection, and could thus testify from their own knowledge to the life of the Risen One, (comp. Acts 1:21 ff.). The apostle, in the second place, exhibits the resurrection in the light of prophecy, showing that the fact had been predicted by David, and that the prediction was necessarily fulfilled in Jesus. His testimony respecting the fact itself, coincides with the exclamation: “The Lord is risen indeed,” (Luke 24:34)—the resurrection really occurred; his argument derived from prophecy, advances a step further, and is equivalent to the words: “It behooved [ἔδει] Christ to rise,” Luke 24:46—his resurrection was necessary. These thoughts are distinctly indicated by the words: οὐκ ἦν δυνατόν, etc. Here, Peter, speaking in the Aramæan language, doubtless employed the expression חֶבְלֵי־מָוֶת [found in Psalms 18:5-6; Psalms 116:3.—Tr.], signifying the snares or toils with which death [“personified as a capturing hunter” (Meyer)] catches and holds fast his prey. But Luke here adopts the version of the Septuagint; the authors of this translation supposed the forms to be חֲבָלּים הֵבֶל [found in Isaiah 66:7, and elsewhere, and referring especially to the pains of parturition (Meyer)—Tr.], and, accordingly translate ὠδινες θανάτον [not, the cords, snares, but, the pangs, throes of death.—Tr.]. It is certain that the word [ὠδινες] is not used by Luke here in the Hebraizing sense of cords or bonds (Olshausen), but in that of pains, pains of travail, since here a new life was born of death. The interpretation which represents death itself as enduring the pains of parturition until He who was slain was raised up (Meyer), is far-fetched; it is much more natural to refer the pains (Acts 2:24) to the Person of Jesus himself, since that state which is succeeded by the διαφθορά was regarded as attended, even in the place of the dead, with pain.—But what is precisely the sense of the apodictical declaration: “It was not possible that he should be holden of [overcome by] death”? Both earlier and also recent interpreters explain the direct meaning to be the following: ‘It was impossible’, Peter says, ‘on account of the very nature or being of Jesus Christ, since the Son has life in himself’ [John 5:26]. (Olshausen); or else: ‘It was impossible with respect to (1) God the Father, (2) the Son, as the eternal Son of the Father, (3) Death, which could not have a permanent claim on a Holy One and a Prince of life.’ (Gebrand van Leeuwen). But such explanations connect important truths with these words, to which Peter did not directly refer; the immediate context suggests no other explanation than the following: ‘It was impossible that Jesus should be overcome by death, for the simple reason that such had been the prediction, and the divine promise must needs be fulfilled.’ This is the most direct and logical meaning, which, however, does not exclude, but rather includes the thought that the source both of the promise and also of its fulfilment lies in that victorious power and that fulness of life of the Anointed of God, which are indicated in the prophecy.
Acts 2:25-32. I foresaw [saw] the Lord always.—[προωρώμην, saw, not foresaw, πρό is intensive merely. (Hackett, ad loc.); the verb here has respect to place, and means saw before me. (J. A. Alexander).—Tr.]. The prophecy to which Peter appeals, Psalms 16:8-11, contains an animated expression of the joyful confidence of a devout mind; the believer’s body and soul rejoice in the living God, and, even in the sight of death, are assured of an eternal, blessed life. The passage, (in accordance with the Septuagint), is quoted in full. David’s intimate and faithful communion of life with God is here set forth, (Acts 2:25), in so far as he always has the Lord before his eyes, and as the Lord is at his side with divine aid and support. Hence proceed (Acts 2:26) the joy in God and the hopeful confidence which influence the believer’s whole nature (καρδιά, γλῶσσα, for כְּבוֹדִי, σάρξ,) so that he has an assurance (Acts 2:27) that he shall not be retained by death as a prey—his soul shall not remain in the place of the dead [Todtenreich], neither shall the Beloved One of God moulder in the grave. He hopes, on the contrary (Acts 2:28), that, by the guidance and love of God, he shall be placed in possession of the fulness of life and of joy in the presence of God.—Now all that David expresses in these words of joyful confidence, the apostle refers to Jesus Christ. He premises (Acts 2:25) that David speaks εἰς αὐτόν, that is, not “concerning” Jesus, but “in allusion to” him [“aiming at him (dicere in aliquem), as εἰς is employed in Ephesians 5:32; Hebrews 7:14.” Winer: Gram. N. T. § 49. a.—Tr.]. All this is fully explained by Peter (Acts 2:29-31), after the introductory remark that he can speak with freedom concerning David. Peter is aware that the minds of men who revered the holy character of King David, might become prejudiced against himself, and suppose that the remarks which he intended to make were designed to disparage that devout man: in order to prevent his hearers from receiving this impression, and to conciliate them, he remarks that it was certainly allowable (ἐξὸν. sc.ἐστὶν, not ἔστω) to state a fact which no one thought of denying. Next, in order to testify his own reverence for David, he gives him the title of πατριάρχης, that is, the honored founder of the royal family from which, according to the promise, the Messiah was to come. Nevertheless—Peter proceeds—the facts are well known, that David not only died and was buried, but that his sepulchre still remains [1 Kings 2:10, comp. with 2 Samuel 5:7]: it necessarily follows, (as he plainly intimates), that David’s corpse had been abandoned to corruption. Consequently, David, who was unquestionably enlightened by the Spirit of God, and who had also received a promise, confirmed by an oath, that God would place one of his descendants on his royal throne (2 Samuel 7:12; comp. Psalms 89:3-4; Psalms 89:35-36; Psalms 132:11), must have cast a prophetic glance at the future, and have spoken of the resurrection of the Messiah, meaning that He should not be left in the place of the dead, and that His flesh should not be given over to corruption. Psalms 16:10. The words ὅτι οὐ κατελ. etc., “that he was not left”, present the substance of the prophetic declaration in a direct form, and are not to be taken as equivalent to εἰς ἐκεῖνο ὅτι (Meyer) [“spake in reference to this, that, etc.; ὅτι in the sense of εἰς ἐκ., ὅτι” Meyer.—Tr.]; the former is the more natural construction. The objection that, in this case, εἶπε would have been employed in place of ἐλάλησε is unfounded, since the latter word is connected with those that immediately follow it, περὶ τῆς … Χριστοῦ; besides, if the other view were correct, we would naturally expect to find γάρ in Acts 2:32, or a similar particle.
But how are we, in accordance with the opinion of the apostle, to understand the prophecy of David psychologically? Did David, who speaks in the first person, and therefore really seems to refer to himself, in truth speak, not in his own name, but in that of the Messiah? The Psalm itself does not furnish the least support for such a view: nor, indeed, does Peter maintain that David, omitting every reference to his own person, spoke exclusively of Christ. It is quite consistent with the words and the meaning of the apostle to assume that David certainly expressed more immediately his personal hope of life, founded as it was on his close communion with God; but Peter as certainly asserts emphatically, that at the same time, David, by virtue of the illumination of the Spirit of God, which was in him, expressed a hope which, in its full sense and meaning, was to be fulfilled, not in himself, but in that Anointed One of God, who was promised to him, and who was his descendant and a successor on his throne. It is, at the same time, undoubtedly true, that the apostle does not here define the degree of light or knowledge granted to David when he cast a prophetic glance at Jesus Christ and his resurrection.—But while he applies the words of David, Psalms 16:10, directly to the resurrection of Jesus, he mainhains not only that the Lord’s body had remained untouched by corruption, but also that Jesus had gone to the place of the dead, without having remained there, Acts 2:31.
Acts 2:33-35. Therefore, being by the right hand of God exalted.—The apostle’s address proceeds, in historical order, from the resurrection to the ascension of Jesus, and to the outpouring of the Spirit, i.e., the hour in which it was delivered. “Jesus is exalted by the right, hand of God” to heaven, to divine power and glory. The words: τῇ δεξιᾷ are not to be translated: “to the right hand,” which version (Bleek, de Wette) is not sustained by the the laws of grammar, including those observed by the New Testament idiom; Peter, rather, says “by the right hand of God,” inasmuch as he ascribes weight especially to the circumstance that Jesus, who had been
dishonored and slain by the wicked act of men, had been raised up and exalted by the favor and almighty power of God.—Peter adds: ‘Jesus at once received the promised Holy Ghost from the Father, in order to impart the same to men, and hath shed forth this which ye see with your eyes and hear with your ears—that power, the operation of which ye plainly perceive.’ Here, too, Acts 2:34 ff., the apostle appeals to the prophecy as a confirmation of his testimony: ‘David, confessedly, did not ascend to heaven, like Elijah; nevertheless, he says: “The Lord said, etc.,” Psalms 110:1. Peter, to whom, doubtless, the question proposed by Jesus in Matthew 22:42, had occurred, assumes that the word of God, in which a seat at the right hand, that is, a participation in the honor and power of God is promised to the Messiah, refers to Jesus.
Acts 2:36. Know ye, therefore, that Jesus is the Christ!—Such is the practical conclusion of the address—a summary of all that Peter had said. This knowledge (γινωσκέτω) is derived with entire assurance (ἀσφαλῶς) from the premises. The conviction of mind which is thus established, should, as he now wishes, influence the whole moral nature of the hearers; it should humble them, and lead them to sorrow and repentance, in view of the fact that Israel had crucified Him, who was, nevertheless, the Messiah, and had been so highly exalted by God. The apostle trusts that such knowledge will exercise a benign influence on the will, since it is of a practical character, leading to a recognition of Jesus as the Lord, in the obedience of faith [Romans 16:26]. That recognition may be expected from the whole nation (πᾶς οἶκος Ἰσρ.), as a duty, and the more justly as the nation has heinously sinned against Jesus. Hence Peter places the words: ο͂ν ὑμεῖς ἐσταυρώσατε (“whom ye have crucified”) at the end of his address, intending that they should continue to pierce the souls of his hearers like a sting, until their conversion and the remission of their sins should restore them to peace.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. Both the human and the divine nature in the Person of Jesus Christ are set forth in this first apostolic discourse, but the references to the former predominate. For although the dignity of Jesus is continually and gloriously displayed in his life and works, in his death on the cross, in his resurrection, his ascension and his heavenly honor and action, still that which is divine in him, is represented as having been bestowed on him, (Acts 2:22) and wrought by God. Thus, in Acts 2:24; Acts 2:32, “God raised him up;” the language is not: “Christ is risen.” In Acts 2:33, he is exalted “by the right, hand of God,” not “he has ascended;” it is, indeed, expressly stated in Acts 2:36 that “God had made him both Lord and Messiah.” Not a single positive intimation is given that Jesus was originally the Son of God, that he had life in himself, that he was God from all eternity, etc. But these facts cannot perplex, nor suggest the thought that the doctrine of the divinity of Christ was of a comparatively late origin, and was not founded on eternal truth. It is not even necessary to resort to the explanation that Peter and the other apostles, in whose name he speaks, had temporarily observed silence respecting that doctrine only from considerations connected with his hearers (accommodating himself, in a manner that might be considered allowable, to their grade of knowledge)—that it was his object to induce his hearers first of all to recognize the Messiahship of Jesus—and that he intended subsequently to disclose to them the deeper doctrine. The true explanation is furnished by the peculiar nature of the case and by the nature of religious knowledge in general. Jesus had distinctly borne witness concerning himself; nevertheless, the personal knowledge or insight of the apostles, and their conviction of the deity of the Redeemer, could necessarily attain clearness and depth only by degrees. Now their growth, in its natural course, exhibited the usual features of such a process, that is, their knowledge of the Lord’s appearance in time, was enlarged to a knowledge of his eternal being; their acquaintance with the leading facts, grew into an acquaintance with the leading truths connected with him. Thus their view was gradually turned from things without, to things within, and from those which are below, to those which are above.
2. The apostle’s remarks on the sufferings and death of Jesus exhibit the same characteristic features. The view which he presents of the Lord’s passion (see above, Exeg. and Crit. note on Acts 2:23) is designed to teach his hearers that the whole was indeed the guilty act of the Jewish people, but was, at the same time, foreknown and determined by God. On the other hand, however, he does not utter a word which would explain the reason that rendered the death of Jesus necessary, or would, in particular, show that his sufferings and death on the cross were an atoning, redeeming and saving work. And we are not authorized to assert that he had designedly observed silence on these points, since he was delivering at the time, not a didactic discourse, but a missionary sermon, that is, giving a simple statement respecting his faith. The true view is rather the following: It was still necessary at this period, that the apostles should be guided into all truth with respect to these points also. All that Peter said was truth—truth, never contradicted, but established by all the later and deeper views which he acquired; still, it was not yet all truth, comprehended in its fulness, its depth, and its height.
Similar observations may be made respecting the resurrection. The apostle declares that it was not possible that Jesus should be overcome by death, that is, he maintains the necessity of the resurrection. He means, however, simply that the resurrection of the Messiah had been predicted under the old covenant in the word of prophecy, and that, consequently, as God is true and faithful, it necessarily occurred at the proper time. But he does not utter a single word which would intimate that Jesus, by virtue of the inherent vital power and the victorious energy of his Person, must needs overcome death, that is, that an internal and essential necessity of the resurrection had existed. He bears witness to the truth, but his comprehension of it is not yet thorough and complete. Here, too, we may observe the peculiar feature which characterizes the mode of divine revelation, namely, its gradual advance. The divine wisdom is also revealed in the mode according to which the gracious operations of the Holy Spirit are manifested; the disciples are not placed instantaneously, as if by magic, in full possession of the truth, but are guided step by step, or gradually, into all truth; comp. John 16:13.
3. Christ in the place of the dead.—Peter shows that the prophecy in Psalms 16:10 had been fulfilled in Jesus (Acts 2:31 comp. with Acts 2:27), and accordingly maintains that Jesus had been in Hades, but had not remained therein (erat in inferno, non est relictus in inferno. Bengel). The appeals which have been made to views prevailing under the old covenant, for the purpose of evading the force of this fact, have the less weight, since Peter recurs to it in a professedly didactic manner in his first Epistle, Acts 3:18 ff. The present address assigns a high degree of importance to the fact that Jesus had subjected himself truly and fully, but not abidingly, to the law and necessity of death. He, too, had been in that state of transition which intervenes between terrestrial life and the resurrection-life of eternity, and thus all that belongs to human nature, was manifested in his personal experience; the raising up of Jesus, on the other hand, was a victory the more decisive, since he had himself fully and unconditionally entered into the state of the dead. The particular end which was in view, when he descended to the place of the dead, was clearly revealed, it is true, only at a later period.
4. It is worthy of observation that Jesus, (who was exalted by the glorious power of God), received the promised Spirit first himself, in order to impart the same to the disciples. All this implies that the exalted Redeemer was not competent to impart the Holy Ghost by virtue of a fulness or authority originally dwelling in him [i.e. in his human nature.—Tr.] It was rather a special degree of the glorification of Jesus, that he “received the promise of the Holy Ghost.” [Acts 2:33]. It appertains, indeed, to the perfect human nature of the Redeemer, that he not only grew during his life on earth, and waxed strong in spirit (Luke 2:40), but that he also received in his state of exaltation that which he had not yet previously possessed, namely, the fulness of the Spirit which was to be poured out upon his people; comp. John 15:26.
[It is obvious from these concluding remarks that the author adopts the interpretation of Philippians 2:5 ff., according to which the subject of the humiliation and exaltation there described, is not, as some allege, the λόγος ἄσαρκος, but rather, as others hold, the λόγος ἔνσαρκος, the incarnate Word, that is, the whole, undivided Person of Christ, it is true, but specially, his human nature. The former is the interpretation adopted by “the Greek and Catholic commentators (Corn, a Lap., Estius), by most of the Reformed—Beza, Zanchius, Crocius, Aretius, Coccejus—and by more recent writers, as Semler, Storr, Keil, Ust., Rilliet, Müller; the latter, by Ambrose, Erasmus, Luther, Hunnius, Calov, Calvin, Piscator, Grotius, Heinrichs, van Hengel.” (de Wette, ad loc.). Those who adopt this latter view, proceed on the principle that the divine nature of Christ, being absolutely perfect from all eternity, was not capable either of an increase or diminution of glory or power; hence, all the Scriptural expressions which imply that Christ received any accession of dignity in time (before or after his resurrection), assign all such changes, not to his divine, and therefore immutable, but to his human nature.—Tr.]
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Acts 2:22. Jesus of Nazareth, a man, etc.—It is here obvious that it was the apostle’s chief desire to magnify Jesus Christ among his hearers. Hence he speaks both of the state of humiliation, and also of that of the exaltation of our Saviour. Even when he describes Jesus in his deepest humiliation, he intends to show that it was the purpose of God to convince men by the amazing miracles which preceded the passion, that Christ is the true Messiah and Saviour of the world. Indeed, we should never forget the lofty position which Jesus occupied even in the state of humiliation. (Apost. Past.).—Herein, also, the servant of Christ is made like unto his divine Head, that when afflictions are permitted to visit him, he receives a testimony from the Lord, which is previously addressed to the conscience of men, even of his enemies, that he is the servant of that Lord, (ib.).—God comes with his Son among men, so that men may come to God. (Starke).
Acts 2:23.—Him, being delivered, etc.—After Peter had reminded the Jews of the “wonderful works” which God had done in connection with Jesus, and through him, he made a powerful appeal to their hearts, by reminding them of the guilt which they had contracted by their treatment of Jesus.—Although not all those persons who mocked the apostles on the day of Pentecost, at the third hour, may have, at the same hour on Good Friday, exclaimed, “Crucify him!”; [Mark 15:13; Mark 15:25], nevertheless, the blood-guiltiness of the whole nation continued to cling to all; who had not truly repented. Yea, even we ourselves have abundant reason to make the confession: “I have, blessed Jesus, by my sins, which are as the sand of the sea, been the cause of all thy pains, thy misery, and thy shame.” Besser).
Acts 2:24. Whom God hath raised up, etc.—He addresses the conscience of the hearer, and speaks of the grievous sin which the people had committed against the Anointed of God with “wicked hands;” he then contrasts with their act all that the hand of God had wrought in connection with the Crucified One. Their guilt is revealed in the darkest colors, but he appears in unclouded glory, whom they had indeed put to shame, but whom God had crowned with glory and honor.—It was needful that the people should behold the Lord in both aspects—humbled, and yet exalted—wearing a crown of thorns, and yet rising from the grave as the victorious King of glory.—Hitherto the disciples had refrained from proclaiming the wonderful event—the resurrection of Jesus; but the Spirit that beareth witness, had now been given to them, and Peter stands forth as the first public “witness of the resurrection.” (Besser).—Having loosed the pains of death.—Death is nothing more than a cord, which God can easily loose; therefore be thou not afraid of death. (Starke).—My own bonds are broken, when those of Jesus break, for we belong together. (Lindheim).—The joy of the risen Saviour may be compared to the joy of a mother whose anguish has passed away, and who now rejoices “that a man is born into the world” [John 16:21]; for we are now “begotten again unto a lively hope by his resurrection.” 1 Peter 1:3. (Apost. Past.).—Because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.—For he was not like the prey which death usually catches in his toils; he passed through the net and tore it asunder, so that it can no longer hold the Christian.—Death is prostrated, is swallowed up of life, and can never regain its power; life towers high above, retains the victory, and with outstretched hands exclaims: “All is gained! All is gained.” (Luther).—The testimony of God respecting Jesus: I. In the miracles of the Lord himself; II. In his resurrection and exaltation; III. In the gift of the Holy Ghost.—The counsel of God, and the action of man: I. Their apparent opposition; II. Their real harmony.—The malice and wickedness of men are always under the control of a higher power.—There are limits prescribed to the growth of the tree, as it grows upward.—The Scriptural doctrine respecting the common guilt of men: I. The source of that guilt; II. The punishment; III. The deliverance from it, and forgiveness, in the case of individuals.—The witness which the resurrection of Jesus bears: to, I. The omnipotence; II. The faithfulness; III. The pity of God. (Lechler).
Acts 2:25-28. For David speaketh concerning him, etc.—Even as our faith looks back to the past, and finds a firm foundation in the saving work of God in Christ, so the faith of the saints of the old covenant found rest and security in the same saving work. (Besser).—I foresaw [saw] the Lord always before my face.—Those who have the Lord always before their face in this world, shall stand before his face in the other; they, on whose right hand the Lord now is, shall then be placed on his right hand. (Starke).—Therefore did my heart rejoice.—Severe conflicts which have successfully terminated, are the source of great joy to the victor, (ib.).—No one can truly rejoice in heart, save that man who sees God always before his face. (ib.).—When our Redeemer, by his resurrection, entered into life eternal, he opened a pathway to it for us also. (ib.).—The kingdom of God is here already joy in the Holy Ghost; but what will our portion be, when we shall see God face to face!—Thou wilt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.—The Scriptures apply such words to no other one, but consign all men to corruption and the dust. He alone proclaims to us, in this hymn [Psalms 16:0] which is truly a treasure of gold, the Gospel truth, that His flesh shall not decay, nor turn to dust, but that He will die and repose with calmness and security, waiting for the resurrection. (Luther).—Thou hast made known to me the ways of life.—All the ways in which Jesus walked in his humiliation and exaltation, when he entered through suffering into his glory, are altogether the ways of life for all men; and all those in which he conducts the soul, from the original conversion to the glorification of that soul, are, too, altogether the ways of life. (Ap. Past.).—The death and resurrection of Jesus, a twofold mystery: I. In so far as He was capable of dying, who had life in himself; II. In so far as He arose, who came to give his life for many.—Our communion of life with God, an earnest of eternal life.—The body and the soul [Acts 2:26], rejoicing in the living God.—The word of prophecy, a light in a dark place. [2 Peter 1:19].—The deep import of the descent of Jesus into hell: viewed as, I. An evidence of the perfect humanity of the Redeemer; II. The utmost depth of his humiliation; III. The point at which his exaltation commenced; IV. A standard by which the vast extent of his redeeming work may be judged. (Lechler).
Acts 2:29. Men and brethren, etc.—Peter terms these assembled Jews, brethren, both on account of their common descent (Romans 9:23), and on account of his cheerful hope that many among them would yield to the authority of the Gospel, and become brethren indeed; his address, now that he has become more fervent, reveals the warmth of his love. O, how gladly would he have rendered them every service in his power, so that they might become the children of God. (Apost. Past.).—He is both dead and buried.—Death and the grave are the end of all the glory of this world; take heed that thou give not thy heart to it. (Starke).
Acts 2:32. This Jesus hath God raised up, etc.—The apostle completes the circuit of his remarks by recurring to the subject with which he commenced.—“Ye are witnesses of these things”, said the risen Lord to the disciples (Luke 24:48); the full echo of this saying of the Lord, proceeds from the apostle’s mouth. (Besser).—How cheering the sight is, when pastors, who conduct the work of the Lord in the same congregation, are truly united on this vital subject, so that the one can always refer to the other with confidence! (Apost. Past.)
Acts 2:33. Being by the right hand of God exalted, etc.—He whom the world raised up on the cross, is raised by God into heaven. (Starke).—Having received, … he hath shed forth.—The Son receives from the Father for us; the Holy Ghost receives from the Son, and gives to us; John 16:14 ff. O how blessed is such giving and receiving! Let us imitate the Holy Trinity; faith receives—love gives. (Starke).
Acts 2:34-35. Sit thou on my right hand, etc.—This prophetic passage, which the Lord repeats in the presence of the scribes (Matthew 22:43), like a fruit-bearing tree, distributes the wealth of its fruit through the whole extent of the apostolic writings; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Ephesians 1:20; Hebrews 1:13; Hebrews 5:6. (Besser).—Until I make thy foes thy footstool.—If Christ must wait until all his foes shall be made his footstool, why should not we wait? (Starke).—The act of making his foes his footstool, is not to be simply so understood, that the Lord will consign his enemies to eternal suffering and punishment; it is done, also, when they are induced to acknowledge their misery and enmity, to cast their weapons away, and to sue for mercy; such a victory he prizes most highly. Then he lifts such supplicants up, throws his arms around them, yea, places them at last on his own seat. (Apost. Past.).—Our weak senses do not readily perceive that Christ rules with vast power in the midst of us; we rather see and feel the reverse, and discover only feebleness and helplessness in Christian people: they seem to us to be wretched and forsaken, trampled under foot by the world, rudely assailed by Satan, and overcome by sin and the terrors of death and hell. And then, the trials and sorrows of this life appear to fall with greater weight on Christians than on other people. Here our faith must manifest all its power, must arm us for the struggle with such thoughts and fears, and must give us strength to cling to the word alone which is here pronounced, namely, that Christ the Lord, although invisible to us, is placed by God on his right hand; there he will remain, reigning over us with power, even though his glory is hidden from the world. For this Sheb limini (“Sit thou at my right hand” [שֵׁב לּימִינִי]) was spoken by God himself; that word must, therefore, be true and will abide, and no creature can overthrow or disprove it. Neither will he himself ever deny it, although all around us should seem to contradict it. (Luther).—The exaltation of Christ: I. By the right hand of God; II. To the right hand of God.—Christ, ascending his throne.—“While Jesus is the Lord, glory and joy will daily increase.”—The outpouring of the Holy Ghost, an evidence of the exaltation of the crucified Redeemer. (Lechler).
Acts 2:36. Therefore let all the house of Israel know, etc.—With these impressive words Peter made a last appeal, primarily, to the understanding of his hearers: he demonstrated that Jesus is the Messiah, by placing before them the testimony furnished by the word of God, by their own experience, and by the wonderful signs from heaven which they had even then both heard and seen. He appealed also to the heart and the conscience of his hearers, which he deeply pierced; he intended alike to convince them of their sin, and to show the way of salvation, when he closed with the words, Ye have crucified him, but God has made him both Lord and Christ.—The testimony that Jesus Christ lives, and that he is exalted to heaven: I. In the Scriptures—testified by the prophets and apostles; II. In the history of the world and the kingdom—by all the events that have occurred from the day of Pentecost to the present time; III. In the heart and the conscience—by both his friends and his foes.—“God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ”: I. These words, full of stern truths, are a loud call to repentance; II. They are full of grace, and are words of comfort.—Christ, on the right hand of God; I. Protecting his friends; II. Subduing his foes.—Jesus Christ on his throne, as the King of glory: I. In the Scriptures, wherein all the prophets and apostles point to him; II. In the world, wherein he reigns invisibly, and rules in the midst of his enemies; III. In the heart, wherein he continues to manifest himself as the Prince of peace, and the Captain of our salvation; IV. In heaven, wherein his glory will hereafter be revealed unto all.—[Peter, a model as an earnest and intelligent preacher of the Gospel.—The first public discourse of an inspired apostle: I. The circumstances under which it was delivered; (a) the outpouring of the Spirit; (b) the amazement of the devout; (c) the mocking of the ungodly; II. Its substance; (a) explanations of Scripture; (b) solemn warnings; (c) words of comfort and encouragement; III. The results; (a) some remained unmoved; (b) others were hardened; (c) others, converted.—Tr.].
καὶ before αὐτοὶ, of text. rec. [on authority not stated], has very properly been deopped by Lach. ans Tisch. [ans Alf.], in conformity to A. B. C. D. E., as well as other manuscripts [Cod. Sin.], Church fathers, and ancient versions. [But Vulg. et.—Tr]
Acts 2:23; Acts 2:23. a.—λαβόντες after ἔκδοτον [of text. rec. with D. E.], conforms to the sense, but is, according to A. B. C., other manuscripts [Cod. Sin.], and also Church Fathers, and ancient versions [Vulg., etc.], to be regarded as a later addition. [A later hand (C) added λαβόντες to the original text of Cod. Sin.—Tr.]
Acts 2:23; Acts 2:23. b.—χειρός, the more difficult reading, found also in important manuscripts [A. B. C. (original). D., Cod. Sin.], is preferable to the plural χειρῶν [of text. rec., with E. Vulg. (per manus)], which was suggested by the termination of the next word, ἀνόμων. [In place of ἀνείλετε of text. rec., found in many minuscules ἀνείλατε has been substituted by recent critics, in accordance with A. B. C. D. E. Cod. Sin. See Winer: Gram. N. T., § 13, 1, a.—Tr.]
Acts 2:24; Acts 2:24.—θανάτου [of text. rec., with A. B. C. E. Cod. Sin.] should be unhesitatingly preferred to ἅδου, which occurs only in one MS. [D.], some versions [e.g. Vulg. (inferni)], and fathers, and was taken from Acts 2:27; Acts 2:31.
Acts 2:27; Acts 2:27.—Instead of εἰς ἅδου [of text. rec. with E.], Lach. and Tisch. [but not Alf.] adopt εἰς ᾅδην; but this reading, which is found in various MSS. [in A. B. C. D. Cod Sin.] and fathers, is probably a later correction. [The reading of the LXX. is doubtful, in Psalms 16:10, A. exhibiting ᾅδου, but B. ᾄδην; Meyer regards the weight of testimony as inclining in favor of the latter.—Tr.]
Acts 2:29; Acts 2:29.—[The margin of the Eng. Bible presents (with Geneva version, 1557) the more accurate version: I may. Ἐξὸν, i.e. it is permitted, is lawful; the Eng. text conforms to liceat, of the Vulg.—Tr.]
Acts 2:30; Acts 2:30.—Before καθίσαι, the text. rec., which Bornemann follows, inserts the words: τὸ κατὰ σάρκα . They [vary in D. E., and] are wanting in the best manuscripts [in A. B. C. D. (corrected)] and versions, as well as in many fathers, and are unquestionably a later interpolation. [Rejected by Lach., Tisch., and Alf. as an “explanatory gloss.” The following is the reading of Cod. Sin.: ὀσφύος αὐτοῦ καθίσε ἐπὶ τὸν θρόνον αὐτοῦ προἵδών.—Τὸν θρόνον, of A. B. C. D., is adopted by Lach., Tisch., and Alf., instead of τ. θρόνου of text. rec. with E.—Tr.]
Acts 2:31; Acts 2:31.—In place of the reading of the text. rec.: οὐ κατελείφθη ̔η ψυχὴ αὐτοῦ . . . οὐδὲ, Lach., Tisch., Born., etc., adopt, in accordance with weighty authorities, the following: οὔτε ἐγκατελείφθη εἰς Ἅιδου οὔτε. The former reading appears to have been influenced by Acts 2:27. [Alf. reads: οὔτε κατελείφθη εἰς ἅδου οὔτε.—Οὐ in E., οὔτε in A. B. C. D.—ἐγκατελ. in A. B. C. D. E.—ἡ ψυχὴ αὐτοῦ in E., but these words are omitted in A. B. C. (original) D.—ᾃδην in B., but ᾃδου in A. C. D. E. The reading of Cod. Sin. is the following: οὕτε ἐνκατελίφθη (not—λείφ—) εἰς ᾅ δην οὕτε.—Tr.]
Acts 2:33; Acts 2:33.—νῦν before ὑμεῖς [of text. rec. with C. (second correction) E.] has very properly been omitted by the most recent critics, who follow the authority of important manuscripts [A. B. C. (orig.) D. Cod. Sin.], versions [Vulg. (quem vos videtis)] and Church fathers; it is obviously an explanatory addition.
D.—The effect produced by the address
The address, and the exhortations which followed it, resulted in the conversion of three thousand souls, who were added by Baptism to the disciples of Jesus
37Now when they heard this, they were pricked [pierced] in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38Then [But] Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in [upon, ἐπὶ] the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39For the promise is unto [for] you, and to [for] your children, and to [for] all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. 40And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves [Be ye saved] from this untoward [perverse] generation. 41Then they that [om. that] gladly20 [om. gladly] received his [the, τὸν] word [and] were baptized: and the same day [on that day] there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Acts 2:37. Now when they heard this … what shall we do?—The address made a deep impression; the hearers, that is, a large part of them, were “pierced in the heart” (κατενύγησαν), and deeply moved; the sting in the concluding words of the apostle aided largely in producing this result. When we consider the impressions made by his address, we observe that it, primarily, affected the feelings of the hearers. Pain and anguish seized them, when they saw, as they now did, that they had mistaken, despised, ill-treated and crucified Jesus, whom they were at length compelled to recognize as the Messiah and their Lord. They had grievously sinned against God and his Anointed, and incurred the just penalty of such guilt. The effect was not, however, confined to these emotions, which had been produced by the light that was dawning upon them; their question: “What shall we do?” manifests that their will had also been powerfully influenced, insomuch that they apply in a confiding and even affectionate manner to the apostles for counsel, and are now desirous to do all that their duty and the will of God demand. While they thus turn to Peter and to the rest of the apostles as to brethren, and with the utmost candor, good will, and confidence, ask for advice, they furnish the evidence not only that they are deeply concerned for their salvation, but also that faith is springing up in their souls; they trust that God will yet forgive, and guide them in the right way.
Acts 2:38. Repent, etc.—Peter gladly imparts the instructions which they seek, and may be regarded as fulfilling a special pastoral duty, when he explains the way of salvation to those who now were open to conviction, or were awakened. He prescribes a twofold duty, and promises a twofold gift. He demands that these persons should, (1) change their minds, (their whole moral state should undergo a change, μετανοεῖτε), and (2) be baptized in the name of Jesus (ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰηα. Χρ., as an expression of their faith in Jesus, or a recognition of him, and as a pledge of their submission to him as the Lord and Messiah). Peter assumes that his hearers already possess a certain amount of knowledge concerning Baptism as an outward act, having derived it from the well-known practice of John the Baptist, and also from the course pursued by Jesus himself. [John 4:1-2]. Peter’s demand, therefore, embraces a change of mind, and faith, in addition to the outward Baptism; the latter is here viewed, on the one hand, as a moral act of the person who is baptized, but, on the other hand, (in consequence of the promise that is immediately subjoined) unquestionably, also, as a means of grace proceeding from God. The apostle promises to those who repent, and receive Baptism, (1) the remission of sins, and (2) the gift of the Holy Ghost.—A general view is presented in Acts 2:40, of additional statements and exhortations, by means of which, as Peter had reason to hope, his hearers would be conducted to an immediate and final decision, before the impressions which they had received, should fade away. It was the general purpose of his remarks to urge all who were awakened, to save themselves by accepting the offered grace, to withdraw from the perverse generation around them, and to avoid all participation in the guilt and ruin of the latter.
Acts 2:39. For the promise is unto you.—The apostle, after having taught his hearers to hope with confidence that the same gift of the Holy Ghost which he and other disciples had already received, would be imparted to them, proceeds to exhibit the firm foundation of that hope. He specifies those for whom this promise of God was intended: (a) It concerns “you,” the Israelites; (b) also “your children,” i.e., it is not restricted to the present moment, but extends to the future, and comprehends the generations in Israel that are still unborn. And yet the whole extent of the promise has not been presented to their view; it belongs, further, to (c) πᾶσι τοῖς εἰς μακράν, all nations, i.e., heathens, dwelling at a distance, as many as God shall summon [or, call forward unto the kingdom of the Messiah (Meyer), προςκαλέσηται.—Tr.], Beza supposed that the words re- ferred to distant generations (longe post futuri), but these are already included in τέκνα ὑμῶν. Meyer and Baumgarten understand πᾶσι τοῖς ε. μ. on the other hand, as indicating Israelites dwelling in distant countries, and they allege that the context does not suggest that Gentiles are meant. Yet the latter will appear to be really the case, when the gradual enlargement of the circle in which Peter’s words move, is noticed. He unquestionably regards his hearers as representatives of the entire nation; the Jewish diaspora [James 1:1], moreover, did not need a special call, since those who were “scattered abroad” originally had an interest in the promise as fully as those who were accidentally here present. Hence the interpretation adopted by Brenz, Calvin, Bengel, Lange, etc.,—that the words refer to heathens—is preferable to any other.
Acts 2:41. They received the word.—The ultimate result was wonderful; a multitude, consisting of about three thousand souls, promptly and sincerely received the word which they had heard, submitted to be baptized, and were added as new members to the church of Jesus. They were baptized in the course of “that day” by the twelve apostles.—That all who came together, Acts 2:6, and had been hearers, were also converted, is, of course, not implied here, for those who mocked, Acts 2:13, had also been hearers, and it cannot be assumed that all of these, without an exception, changed their views.—But it fully accorded with the commandment of Jesus, Matthew 28:19, that all those who received the witness concerning Jesus in sincerity, should at once be baptized; the principle was recognized, that every one who honestly desired to be a disciple of Jesus, should be baptized; fuller instructions in the doctrine could afterwards be appropriately imparted.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The order of salvation is set forth by the apostle in terms that are brief, but in entire accordance with evangelical truth. After declaring emphatically that his hearers participated with others in the guilt of having crucified the Redeemer, he demands, as the condition of the remission of their sins, not fasting, or self-inflicted torments, nor meritorious works of any kind, but simply repentance and a change of mind, on the one hand, and, on the other, their prompt consent to receive Baptism in the name of Jesus, as the manifestation of their faith in Him as the Messiah.
2. Baptism, according to the view presented in this section, is a twofold act: a human and a divine. It is a human act, first, in so far as the individual who receives baptism, thereby confesses Jesus as his Lord (in other words, confesses that the triune God is his God), and pledges himself to serve Him; secondly, in so far as the Church of Christ which imparts Baptism to him, now receives him as a member, or incorporates him with itself, ver 41. Baptism is a divine act, in so far as God separates the individual from a perverse and sinful generation (σώθητε, in Acts 2:40, implies that grace is a saving power to which man yields), remits his sins, and bestows the Holy Ghost upon him, Acts 2:38. This ἄφεσις ἁμαρτιῶν is unquestionably connected more intimately and directly than the gift of the Holy Ghost with the baptismal act; the former, [ἄφεσις] namely, is indicated by the word εἰς [for the remission, etc.,] as the immediate purpose of Baptism, and as the promise inseparably connected with it, while general terms are all that now succeed, viz.: “and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” But these terms do not by any means imply that the apostle’s hearers should at once receive the Holy Ghost in and with Baptism itself.
3. The congregation, or the Church of Christ. The fact that the day of Pentecost is the birthday of the Church, has always been recognized. The latter was founded by or through the work of Jesus Christ, as a Prophet, High Priest, and King, through the calling and installation of the Apostles, and the gathering together of larger numbers of disciples, and through the institution of the Lord’s Supper and Holy Baptism. But after the Head of the Church was enthroned invisibly in heaven, and before the Pentecostal festival arrived, the Church of Jesus resembled the human body, after God had formed it of the dust of the ground, and before the spirit which was from God, was breathed into it; it was only after that influence reached man that he became a living soul, Genesis 2:7. [Job 23:4]. The Church of Christ, viewed as the new collective person, was formed and set forth in the world; but it was now only, on the day of Pentecost, that the Spirit was suddenly breathed into it, and that it became a living soul. And from that moment the growth also of the Church of Christ could regularly proceed, by the assimilation and incorporation of other souls. Irenæus says: Ubi ecclesia, ibi et spiritus Dei; et ubi spiritus Dei, illic ecclesia et omnis gratia. The second member of this entire proposition is abundantly confirmed by the contents of the chapter before us, but the general terms of the former are not sustained, since, according to Acts 1:0. and Acts 2:0 ver 1 ff., the Church of Christ existed, even when the Spirit of God was not yet present. And this fact, which cannot be controverted, shows that at other times also, the Church of Christ may be brought into such a state, that the Spirit of God can with difficulty be found in it.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Acts 2:37. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart.—The task of so combining and setting forth the law and the Gospel, that the truth shall, like a sharp-pointed arrow, pierce through the heart, is one of such importance and difficulty, that it cannot be accomplished by the mere reason and power of man. (Apost. Past.).—Repentance, like faith, is the result of the hearing of the word [Romans 10:17].—The consideration of the sufferings of Christ, which our sins caused him to endure, is adapted to awaken a sincere and deep sorrow on account of our sins. (Starke).—“Whom ye have crucified”—this accusation at the conclusion of Peter’s address, was the hook with which, as a true fisher of men, he reached theirhearts; it was the goad with which the exalted Saviour himself pierced their souls, so that it was hard for them to kick against it; it was the two-edged sword of God, which divided asunder the soul and spirit, the joints and marrow, a discerner of the thoughts and intents of their hearts.—Men and brethren, what shall we do?—Love awakens love; Peter’s gentle words: “Men and brethren”, find their echo in the hearts of his hearers.—What shall we do?—namely, in order to atone for the sins which we have committed, to escape the wrath of God, and to find that salvation which ye proclaim. It is the welcome question of the penitent heart that is seeking for mercy.
Acts 2:38. Then Peter said unto them, Repent, etc.—When the fisher observes that his net is full of fishes, he is doubly careful in handling it. But it is a very sad spectacle, when a fisher of men has had no experience of his own, and, unable to give wise counsel to those who are awakened by his words, permits them to escape, or even casts them forth again from the net. (Apost. Past.).—If we desire to explain God’s word in a profitable manner, we must ourselves have first experienced its power. Peter had obtained a practical knowledge of repentance, after his fall, and had tasted the joy which the remission of sins produces, (ib.).—Like John the Baptist and Christ himself, the Church, too, begins her saving work by exclaiming aloud: “Repent!” For repentance is the beginning of all true Christianity. (Leonh. and Sp.).—And ye shall receive, etc.—When a pastor finds souls before him, on whom the word has made an impression, and who begin to inquire with deep seriousness, he may well spread out his sails with reanimated hope, and open his mouth with increased joy and confidence. To such souls we may promise many precious gifts, and need entertain no fear that God will withhold that which we have promised in his name, from those who submissively walk in the way which he appoints, (ib.).—There is no true repentance without a change of the heart and the mind.—Baptism is an efficient means of regeneration and the remission of sins. (Titus 3:5).—Days of humiliation which are appropriately kept, constitute a Pentecostal commemoration on which the divine blessing rests. The Holy Ghost does not proceed from us, but is a gift which we receive from God.—And thou, O Christian, art baptized. But thy Baptism should continue to manifest its efficacy in thee. Let each day appear to thy soul as thy baptismal day. Thou shouldst every morning be buried anew in thy Lord Jesus Christ, (Ahlfeld).—The men of Israel had asked: What shall we do? They are now told that they should, in a submissive spirit, yield to the operations of the Holy Ghost.—They would have made every sacrifice, in order to call back Jesus of Nazareth, to embrace the knees of Him who was crucified, to be raised up by him, and to hear him personally say; “Your sin is forgiven!” And now, behold, their desire was fulfilled. The triune God has connected his gracious presence, as revealed in the new covenant, with the water of Baptism. (Besser).—This doctrine must therefore abide, as one that is true and permanently established, namely, that the Holy Ghost is given through the ministry of the Church, that is to say, through the preaching of the Gospel and through Baptism. Let all those who desire the Holy Spirit, seek him there; let them not despise the little flock, in the midst of which the sound of the Gospel is heard; let them, much rather, join themselves unto those who are gathered together in the name of Christ, and let them assist in prayer. (Luther).—That we are saved, not so much through that which we do, as through that which the triune God does in us: I. Our repentance, which is commanded, is already a result of the preventing grace of God, by which he draws us to his Son; II. We are brought by our Baptism into the most intimate communion with Christ, our Saviour; III. Our conscious and continued preservation in this communion through the Word and the Sacraments, is one of the gracious operations of the Holy Ghost. (Langbein).
Acts 2:39. For the promise is unto you, and to your children.—The gracious promises of God are of vast extent; hence we can repeat them with confidence to all who are willing to hear. (Apost. Past.).—And to your children.,—The church and the people of God had hither-to been so constituted, that not only adults but also little children belonged to the people of God, and with all these he made a covenant that he would be their God. Let us now suppose that on the day of Pentecost Peter had thus addressed the Jews: ‘Brethren, repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins; but your little children shall not be baptized; they shall remain in their sins, continue in their state of condemnation, and be counted among the people of Satan, until they grow up and reach the years of understanding.’ What answer would the devout Jews have made? (Bugenhagen).—And to all that are afar, etc.—However distant the heart may be from God, it can nevertheless hear his voice. (Starke).—God is still willing to call men unto himself, and he has still room for all who come to him, Luke 14:21. (Lindheim).
Acts 2:40. And with many other words did he testify and exhort.—Testifying and exhorting belong together. Our exhortations must be founded on God’s word and testimony, and the divine testimony must be applied to the hearts of our hearers through the medium of our exhortations. (Apost. Past.).—Save yourselves, etc.—No result is produced by the operations of the Holy Ghost, as long as the soul resigns itself to the corrupting influences of society; Christians are required to shine as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, and to sever every tie that attaches them to a sinful world. (Apost. Past.).—True conversion to God implies an entire separation from the creature. Avoid the company of the corrupt; it is better for thee to dwell in solitude, than to be found in the congregation of the wicked. (Quesnel).
Acts 2:41. Then they…received the word.—A prompt acceptance of the word is the beginning of true conversion. (Starke).—Salvation or damnation may be the consequence of a single sermon or exhortation that was accepted or rejected, (id.).—Were baptized.—They were delivered through the means of this saving flood from theperverse generation which was given over to destruction, and were added to the assembly of those who were gathered together in the true ark of salvation; 1 Peter 3:20 f. (Besser).—Were added…souls.—This was an amazing draught of fishes on the part of Peter. (Apost. Past.).—If the apostles had made Holy Baptism, which is the true door of the kingdom of heaven, narrower, by instituting a baptismal examination, as those deluded spirits do, who degrade the Sacrament of Baptism to the rank of an exhibition of certificates of their full-grown “believers” (“it would be dreadful,” says Luther, “if I should be baptized on my faith”), then these three thousand could never have been added on the same day. (Besser).
ON THE WHOLE SECTION, Acts 2:37-41. The Christian’s way of salvation: it is a life spent, I. In repentance toward God [Acts 20:21], our Father in Christ; II. In faith toward the Son of God, our Redeemer; III. And sustained by the power of the Holy Ghost. (Leonh.).
The gracious work of the triune God: I. The Father decrees man’s redemption, in eternal love; II. The Son completes the work, in voluntary obedience; III. The Spirit appropriates that salvation to us through the Word and the Sacraments, in repentance and faith. (Leonh. and Sp.).
Repentance unto life [Acts 11:18]: I. Repentance first of all produces deep grief (sorrow for sin); II. Then, it conducts to true blessedness (remission of sins); III. And the heart, strengthened anew by the message of peace, serves the Lord without ceasing, (ib.).
The effect produced by the apostolic discourse, an evidence of the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the Apostles.
What are the results of the faithful preaching of the Gospel? I. Deep feeling in the heart; II. Determination of the will.
Only be thou not so moved, that thou movest not from the place! The vital question: ‘What shall we do?’ The vast difference between the answer of John the Baptist, and that of the apostles of Jesus, to the same question: ‘What shall we do?’ Comp. Luke 3:10 ff. There, the Law, here the Gospel. The evangelical order of salvation, that is, calling, illumination, conversion, justification, renewal or sanctification. The Word and the Sacraments, the indispensable means of grace. Repentance and the remission of sins, both in the name of Jesus Christ; Acts 2:38, and comp. Luke 24:47. The gift of the Holy Ghost, a general promise. The kingdom of God with its promises and blessings, governed by the law of progress. The wonders of the divine call: I. It exercises vast power, and is nevertheless consistent with the liberty of man; II. It embraces all things, and is nevertheless characterized by a gradual advance.
The opposite effects of conversion: I. It excludes, Acts 2:40; II. It unites, Acts 2:41. (Lechler).
The discourse on the day of Pentecost, addressed by the Spirit to the whole world: the office of the Spirit, manifested, I. In instructing, (Acts 2:32; Acts 2:37); II. In convincing of sin (Acts 2:38); III. In consoling (Acts 2:38-39). (C. Beck: Hom. Rep.).
Who is it that receives the Holy Ghost? I. All men may and should receive the gift; II. But it is bestowed on those alone who repent and believe. (Kapff.).
I, too, I. Can be baptized with the Holy Ghost; II. Such is my duty; III. And my desire. (Pressel).
The first sermon, and the first baptism. (Palmer).
It still continues to be the office of the Church of Christ, I. To receive from Christ; from the Holy Ghost; II. To possess fellowship; the Word; the Sacraments; III. To impart to those who repent and believe. (Beck: Hom. Rep.).
The Pentecostal, I. Question; II. Answer; III. Life. (Hamm.).
The effusion of the Holy Ghost, the act, and the glorification, of our Saviour Jesus Christ. (Haackh.).
The Pentecostal sermon of the Apostle, the testimony of the Holy Spirit delivered through the medium of the spirit of a man (Acts 2:32; Acts 2:41); I. It honors God; II. Instructs men; III. Convinces those who seek salvation; IV. Establishes and extends the Church. (Florey).
The gift of the Holy Ghost: I. How is the desire for it awakened in the heart? II. When is the heart prepared to receive it? III. What effects does it produce in us? (O. v. Gerlach).
The building up of the holy Pentecostal temple in the world and Christendom (in the Old Test, the counterpart the building of the tower of Babel; the type the building of Solomon’s temple); I. The preparations for building; II. The master who directs; III. The materials; IV. The plan; V. The completion of the building. (With references to the entire passage; A. Schmidt: Predigtstudien).
What shall I do, that I may receive the gift of the Holy Ghost? I. Look up, in faith, to the Son of God; he sends that gift from his throne in heaven, Acts 2:33; II. Smite upon thy breast in sorrow, and see that thou repentest, Acts 2:38; III. Attach thyself to the people of the Lord, and separate thyself from the worldly-minded, Acts 2:38-40.
ON THE WHOLE PENTECOSTAL NARRATIVE.
The events of the day of Pentecost continue to occur even in our age, in order that the Christian Church may be sustained and extended: I. The commemoration of the wonderful works of God in different tongues, Acts 2:11; II. The piercing of the heart, Acts 2:37; III. The harmony of believers, and their steadfast continuance in the apostles’ doctrine, in breaking of bread, and in prayers, Acts 2:1; Acts 2:42 ff. (Schleiermacher).
How does the Holy Ghost in our day preserve and extend the Church? I. By proclaiming the wonderful works of God; II. By the powerful awakening of the minds of men; III. By the use of the appointed means of salvation. (Schütz).
It is the Spirit whose divine power creates man anew: I. He breathes into man a new breath of life, Acts 2:2-4; II. Opens his mouth for the praise of God, Acts 2:6-11; III. Brings loving companions to him [Genesis 2:22]; Genesis 2:14-21; Genesis 37-41.
“To us, O Holy Spirit, come!” Grant us, I. True repentance, Acts 2:37-38; II. A joyful faith, Acts 2:38-39; III. Brotherly love, Acts 2:41 ff.
The festival of Pentecost, a spiritual vernal festival: I. The breezes of Spring the sound, as of a rushing wind, and the still, small voice from heaven, Acts 2:2-4; II. The voices of Spring the animated voices of the apostles, praising the wonderful works of God, Acts 2:6-11; Acts 2:14 ff., and the trembling voices of awakened men, inquiring for the way of salvation, Acts 2:37 ff.; III. The blossoms of Spring childlike faith, and brotherly love, Acts 2:41 ff.
The wonderful draught of Peter, the fisher of men. [Matthew 4:19]. (“Fear not: from henceforth thou shalt catch men,” Luke 5:10.): I. The deep sea before him (“Launch out into the deep,” Luke 5:4)
the agitated multitude of people in Jerusalem, Acts 2:5-13, and, indeed, the vast sea of mankind, Acts 2:39; II. The good net which he casts (“Cast the net on the right side” [John 21:6])
his discourse concerning Jesus Christ, the Crucified and Risen One, delivered with an earnestness that rebuked, and a love that melted, the heart, Acts 2:14-40; III. The successful draught (“they enclosed a great multitude of fishes” [Luke 5:6]) on that day about three thousand souls at once, Acts 2:41. And to-day, here, among you is there not perhaps such a soul here?
Acts 2:41; Acts 2:41. ἀσμένως follows οὖν in the text. rec. [as in E. Syr.]. But it is a later addition, intended to add to the force of the text, and is wanting in important MSS. [in A. B. C. D., Cod. Sin.,] in ancient versions [Vulg., etc.,] and Church Fathers; hence Lachm. and Tisch. [and Alf.] cancel it.
E.—The Holy, Devout, and Blessed state of the Primitive Church
42And they continued [adhered] steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and [to the teaching of the apostles, and to the] fellowship, and [om. and]21 in [to] breaking of bread, and in [to the, ταῖς] prayers. 43And [But] fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45And sold their possessions [estates] and goods [possessions], and parted [divided] them to all men, as every man had need. 46And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house [at home]22, did eat their meat [partook of nourishment, τροφῆς] with gladness and singleness of heart, 47Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church23 daily such as should be saved [daily those who were saved].24
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Acts 2:42. And they continued steadfastly.—The context shows that this verse refers more immediately to the newly converted persons mentioned in Acts 2:41, and that no reference to the whole body of believers occurs, until Luke introduces the latter in Acts 2:44 (πάντες δὲ οἰ πιστεύοντες). Commentators usually assume, without argument, that the entire church is meant in this verse, except that Meyer finds an argument in favor of this assumption in προςετέθησαν, Acts 2:41, which shows, as he supposes, that here the whole church is to be regarded as the subject. But nothing authorizes us to make such an inference; according to the laws of grammar, no others are meant except the three thousand souls, who “were added” (viz. to the original stock of the church); the question is however, fully decided by the terms employed in Acts 2:44. The whole passage, besides, is consistent with itself, and rich in meaning, when we understand the present verse as referring to those alone who had so recently been converted. They had been made disciples when they were baptized in the name of Jesus, Matthew 28:19-20; it now followed, as a natural and necessary result, that they should receive fuller instructions (διδάσκειν, ib.), and regularly advance in knowledge and sanctification. And that such was the result, is stated in the present verse. They themselves felt the necessity of becoming more and more firmly established in the truth, and in fellowship with God in Christ, and on this account they adhered so steadfastly to the teaching of the apostles and to a fraternal fellowship with the believers. Such is the meaning of κοινωνία, and neither “Communion”, which interpretation gives an explicative sense to καὶ τῇ κλάσει τοῦ ἄρτου [καὶ explicativum= videlicet], nor, exclusively, charitable gifts to the needy. Lastly, they adhered also to the religious meals (the agapæ), of which the Lord’s Supper was the conclusion, and to the prayers. [“The plural indicates the great variety, some being new or distinct from written forms, others being derived from the Jewish liturgy.” (Meyer). Alford explains thus: “The appointed times of prayer; see Acts 2:46—not excluding prayer among themselves, etc.”—The construction which the author (Lechler) adopts above, and with him Prof. Alexander, as varying from the one recognized in the Engish Version, is thus explained by the latter: “They continued, first, in the apostles’ doctrine, then, in communion, not with them alone, but with the body of believers.”—Tr.]. While the aorist forms έβαπτίσθησαν, προςετέθησαν, mark a single, momentary act, the term ἦσαν προςκαρτεροῦντες distinctly exhibits the continuance and permanence of the action specified. [See Winer: Gram. N. T. § 40, 3, and ib. 5 (1).—Tr.]
Acts 2:43. And fear came upon every soul.—Luke here describes the impression which the whole occurrence, and, particularly, the undeniably sincere conversion of such large numbers made on the multitude, even on the unconverted. A holy dread overpowered them, for they were unconsciously led to acknowledge the finger of God, and they felt his power. They may also temporarily have had a presentiment of that “wrath to come,” which was to overtake the obstinate enemies of God. While the narrative before us refers to this circumstance, it also states a fact which deepened the feeling of dread produced by the Pentecostal event, namely, that many miracles were wrought by the apostles; these are not, however, to be understood as having been restricted to that particular day.
Acts 2:44-45. And all that believed.—The entire, youthful Christian congregation is next described, Acts 2:44-47, with respect to its social relations and general course of action. The most prominent features are the brotherly love and the undisturbed harmony of the believers. Thus, they were together (ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό), that is, as in Acts 1:15; Acts 2:1, in the same place, at times in the temple, Acts 2:46, at times in private houses; this course could be the more easily followed, if a large proportion of the newly converted Jews were strangers whom the festival had attracted to the city, and who immediately afterwards departed to their own homes.—The fraternal union of the Christians likewise manifested itself in their peculiar administration of temporal possessions. In what sense is the statement of this fact to be understood? Does it refer to a community of goods, in the literal sense of the words, so that it was an arrangement which embraced all without exception, and was, likewise, compulsory and legally sustained? The answer is furnished by a subsequent passage, Acts 4:34 ff. The words before us, when viewed independently, do not indeed indicate that a legal statute had been adopted, to which each individual was bound to submit; but it, nevertheless, produces the impression that a universal custom is intended to be described. The former could not have been the case, as the facts presented in the narrative are simply descriptive of the conduct of individuals, and not the faintest intimation is given that their course of action was otherwise than voluntary. On the other hand, the language is unquestionably so positive and general (πάντες οἱ πιστεύοντες́—εἶχον ἅπαντα κοινά καὶ τὰ κτήματα καὶ τὰς ὑπάρξεις ἐπίπρασκον), that if this passage alone referred to the subject, we would at once receive the impression that it was the universal practice to have all things common.—It may be added, that the words: εἶχου ἅπαντα κοινά are not to be understood: “they possessed all things in common,” (Meyer), but: “they held all things as common (property).” Each man regarded his property, not as intended for his own personal use, but as intended for the use of all others. For, the actual sale [ἐπίπαρασκον] of their goods (κτήματα, real estate, ὑπάρξεις, personal property) would not well accord with the former interpretation, but be far more consistent with the latter.
Acts 2:46. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple.—They were at one time in the temple, at another in a private house. The primitive Christians faithfully repeated their visits to the temple, as the central point of the Israelitic worship, and the common sanctuary of the entire nation. They did not even remotely entertain the thought of founding a sect, or becoming separatists, or organizing a religious communion that should essentially differ from that of the old covenant, and withdraw them from the latter. On the contrary, they participated with as much zeal and earnestness as any others, in the services of the temple, and observed all the prescribed hours of prayer and sacrifice; and this course aided in securing for them the favor of all the people; Acts 2:47.—But they also regularly came together in a private house (κατʼ οἶκον), where they formed a distinctly defined company of their own, and where the intimate relations which existed among the members, could be freely manifested; and it was precisely to such private assemblies that the development, in the course of time, of their peculiar Christian worship is to be traced. Here, however, special prominence is given only to the act of breaking bread (κλᾷν ἄρτον), by which, in accordance with the context, an act constituting a part of the public worship is necessarily meant, as in Acts 2:42. It is true that Luke describes in Luke 2:46 (“did eat,” etc.,) the manner in which the believers partook of bodily food; it was received with gladness, being cleansed and sanctified by singleness of heart, and by praises and thanks to God; accordingly, their bodily and daily life was elevated to a higher sphere by the Spirit and by a devout state of the heart. Still, the phrase κλᾷν ἄρτον includes a holy element of worship, passing over into the relations of the natural and bodily life; for this “breaking of bread” is, in accordance with the example and institution of the Lord, in reality a supper of brethren, a supper of the Lord, that is, it implies eating and drinking. Thus the life of the body and the life of the spirit reciprocally pass over into each other, and herein precisely, the healthy and vigorous action of the primitive congregation is revealed.
Acts 2:47. And the Lord added to the church daily.—The last sentence of the chapter bears witness that the external growth of the church did not cease after the day of Pentecost, but, on the contrary, steadily proceeded, although not in the same striking manner. This growthis not, however, to be viewed as a natural process, but as an operation of grace, as the act of the living and exalted Lord of the Church (ὁ κύριος προςετίθει.).
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The doctrine or instruction was the first instrumentality that was employed in the work of strengthening and establishing the new converts. The Christian Church is primarily a communion of faith, and hence essentially needs instruction, a knowledge of the truth, and the ministry of the word. Any attempt to edify without instruction and doctrine as the basis, is neither in accordance with the example and command of Jesus, nor with the practice and principles of the apostles, and is therefore unevangelical.
2. We learn that at the very earliest period of the existence of the Church of Christ, all the means of grace were employed and appreciated in their full significance, as media through which salvation is imparted—first, the Word, partly, in the missionary address, and, partly, in the subsequent appropriate and thorough instructions imparted by the apostles; secondly, the Sacraments: (a) Baptism, as the means of regeneration, so that the individual may become a disciple of Jesus; (b) The Lord’s Supper (breaking of bread), as the Sacrament of growth, so that the individual may remain a disciple of Jesus.
3. Prayer, an aid to growth in true virtue. Even as the first converts in the apostolical Church made progress in the Christian life and advanced in grace, by also persevering in prayer, so prayer still is, and, under all circumstances, will ever continue to be, one of the chief means by which our growth in sanctification and the renewal of our nature are promoted. Our communion with the living God in Christ Jesus, when sustained by prayer, as the intercourse of one person with another person, will necessarily exalt, sanctify and enrich the soul; for God is as surely the hearer of prayer, as he is the living God.
4. The fellowship of believers, is, next to their communion with God himself, a means for promoting their growth in grace. “Every one that loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of him,” 1 John 5:1. Conversion enlarges the heart, and produces a holy and blessed communion of souls. A living faith, and the love to the Redeemer, are precisely the sources whence the mutual relations of men, who are herein of one mind and heart, derive their warmth and tenderness. And that love of our neighbor, which is active, prompt and self-sacrificing, is both the evidence of our faith, and also the means of promoting its growth.
5. The external increase of the church was one of the results of its internal growth. The more vigorous and pure our inner life gradually becomes, the more powerful and extended is the influence which it exercises on the world without. And those missionary operations are the most richly blessed, which are conducted unconsciously through the medium of the holy life of the entire body of believers, and not merely through the agency of individuals who are commissioned to perform the work. Still, the external growth is essentially an operation of the Lord, and an evidence, furnished by facts, of his Deity. For it is not man (who merely plants and waters), but God, who causes the growth, and gives the increase. (1 Corinthians 3:6-7). The adding of souls to the Church is one of the operations which the exalted Redeemer conducts in his church. (See above, Exeg. and Crit. notes on Acts 1:0 Acts 2:1 b.)
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Acts 2:42. And they continued steadfastly, etc.—It is not sufficient to begin well; we must persevere unto the end. (Starke).—The loud sound from heaven, and the trembling of the soul are succeeded by silence and repose, indicative of the soothing influences of the Pentecostal Spirit. (Leonh. and Sp.).—In the apostles’ doctrine; see the admonition given by the apostle, 1 Peter 2:2-3.—The pure and simple Gospel of Christ, the Crucified and Risen One, which is alike the heart and the glory of all the teaching of the apostles, is the immovable foundation on which “all the building fitly framed together, groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord,” Ephesians 2:21. (Leonh. and Sp.).—No one of the apostles entertained doctrinal views that were peculiar to himself; all adhered to the simple Gospel; believing souls were thus sustained in their adherence to the one thing needful. (Apost. Past.).—Grow in grace! [2 Peter 3:18]. I. He who does not grow, declines; II. Whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; III. Let him that standeth, take heed lest he fall! (Lechler).—And (in) fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.—Then only, when believers are in fellowship with Christ, will their own union among themselves acquire increased purity and power. And for this purpose the servants of God urge the souls intrusted to their care, to come to the Lord’s Table, as well as encourage them to offer united prayers. (Apost. Past.).—Keep to the means of grace, and they will keep thee.—The Lord’s Supper: I. Its nature—a festival of the Lord and of the brethren; II. Its influence—it conducts to the remission of sins, and promotes the growth of true godliness.—Continue instant in prayer! [Romans 12:12].—Endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace! [Ephesians 4:3]. (Lechler).
Acts 2:43. And fear came upon every soul.—God can easily fill the hearts of his enemies with terror, and hold back their mouth with bit and bridle. [Psalms 32:9]. (Quesnel).—It is a characteristic feature of the works of God, that they fill us with awe. (Starke).—God is as a wall of fire around his Pentecostal Church, so that the tender plants may not suffer harm.—And many wonder’s and signs, etc.—The many wonders and sign’s which were done by the apostles, might indeed create fear among those who stood without; faith was, however, produced not so much by them as by the word of the Gospel. (Apost. Past.)
Acts 2:44-45. And had all things common.—It was not the envy of the destitute, but the love of the original owners which led to this “community of goods” among the primitive Christians; it had, however, no features in common with the fanatical, levelling practices of “Communism.” In the sight of God it is not “property” that is a “theft,” but selfishness, which possesses, but also withholds the means for relieving the wants of a brother. When the necessities of the case were apparent, all that a member of the holy family of Christians possessed, was unquestionably placed at the disposal of its Head, but the Holy Ghost did not teach any one to sell his goods, in order that he might be the owner of none. The primitive congregation by no means lived in a convent. Nothing in the text implies that a law on the subject existed; all the arrangements were made by love. (Besser).—That Christian Communism said: All that is mine, is thine; the unchristian Communism of our day, says: All that is thine, is mine. Those early Christians said: Take all that I have! The modern Communists exclaim: Deliver up all that thou hast! That holy community of goods proceeded from love to the poor, but that which is now proclaimed, is the result of a hatred to the rich.—Faith—its tendency to produce union: it unites men with God; it forms a union among men.—Love, the fruit of faith [Galatians 5:6], manifested by its acts.—When we possess genuine faith and love, we do not become weary in well-doing. (Starke).—No friendship is so sincere as that which exists among believers.—Unity and love are the best evidences that the Church is a building and work of God.—Temporal possessions are insignificant in the eyes of those who possess heavenly treasures. (Quesnel).—The more sincerely we love the Lord, the more sincerely will we love our neighbor.—“To do good, and to communicate, forget not.” [Hebrews 13:16].—Let me, O Lord, do unto others, as thou hast done unto me. [John 13:15].—‘He that hath pity upon the poor, lendeth unto the lord.’ [Proverbs 19:17]. (Lechler).—The essential features of Christian Communism, in contradistinction from any unchristian form of Communism: I. Its source is, not an external law, much less compulsion, but the natural impulse of love; II. Its object is, not the equality, but the welfare, of all; III. The means which it employs—not a community of goods, but a union of hearts.
Acts 2:46. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple.—The Lord had not yet destroyed the temple of Jerusalem, and the Christians consequently still visited it as the place of public worship and prayer.—‘Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is!’ [Hebrews 10:25.]—Breaking bread from house to house.—They naturally observe their peculiar holy rite, the Sacrament of the new covenant, apart from the public, in the bosom of the congregation. Thus their private dwellings were consecrated as temples of the Most High; the house and the church, private prayer in the closet, and the public praise of God in the temple, formed one harmonious and complete whole.—A solemn admonition to rebuild our broken domestic altars, and to recall our extinct family worship back to life! (Leonh. and Sp.).—Simplicity and union, the prominent virtues and ornaments of true Christians. (Starke).
Did eat their meat, etc.—Peace of conscience, and gladness, the fruits of faith. (Starke).—God permits none to exceed him in liberality; the more heartily we praise and thank him, the more abundantly does he bestow grace and comfort upon us. (Quesnel).—No one can more fully enjoy the temporal gifts of God than a true Christian, for he rejoices at the same time in God, and tastes and sees that the Lord is good.—As soon as we are converted to Christ, we enter the way of salvation. (Apost. Past.).—It is godliness that affords us the purest enjoyment of life.—The true Christian, not of a sad countenance, as the hypocrites are. [Matthew 6:16].—That God fulfils his promise: “Them that honor me I will honor.” [1 Samuel 2:30]. (Lechler).—None were so joyful in all Jerusalem as the disciples of Jesus. (Besser).
Acts 2:47. And the Lord added to the church, etc.—Nothing conduces more effectually to the conversion of unbelievers than the harmony and gladness of Christians. (Starke).—And by what means did the first Christian Church subdue so many hearts? She had not yet established Tract Societies, neither did she accomplish her design by long discourses, or by running to and fro. She was herself a living Tract on the saving power of the Gospel. Her image performed the part of a missionary. Her fulness of life furnished her with nets and hooks. All who came near her were overpowered by the feeling: ‘This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!’ (Krummacher).
ON THE WHOLE SECTION.
On the happy results of a truly apostolic Christianity: we enumerate, I. A steadfast continuance in the apostles’ doctrine, Acts 2:42; II. Acts of self-denying love, Acts 2:44-45; III. Winning souls by joyfully praising God with singleness of heart, Acts 2:46-47. (Harless).
The Pentecostal church, the commencement of a new period of the kingdom of God: I. New, in the mode in which it was founded; II. New, in the form of the inner and outer life of its members; III. New, in its spiritual influence on the world without. (Krummacher).
Of one heart, and of one soul [Acts 4:32]: I. Such is the true spirit of the Church of Him who, previously to his death on the cross, earnestly prayed that all might be one [John 17:11]; II. Such should be, and such will be, our spirit, if we submit ourselves, altogether to Christ in faith; III. And we are not full citizens of the kingdom of God, unless we endeavor with singleness of heart to promote such unity of spirit. (Knapp).
Without love, no Holy Ghost: I. Love in heaven bestows the gift of the Holy Ghost; II. Love on earth receives it; III. Love in the heart testifies to it. (Florey).
The gracious operations of the Holy Ghost in the life of the primitive Christian Church: I. The faith to which she bore witness; II. The acts which she performed; III. The love which she demonstrated; IV. The means of grace which she employed; V. The blessedness which she enjoyed, (id.).
The first Christian congregation, a permanent model for all that succeed it: I. In the fellowship of the faith; II. In the practice of love; III. In the enjoyment of general esteem. (Binder).
The encouraging example given by the first Christian congregation: they continued steadfastly, I. In the apostles’ doctrine; II. In fellowship; III. In breaking of bread; IV. In prayers. (Langbein).
How does the glory of the new life which we discover in the youthful congregation of Jerusalem, manifest itself? I. As a vigorous and healthy spiritual life; II. As the sanctified life of a family; III. As the influential life of witnesses. (W. Hofacker).
The essential features of a truly Christian congregational life: I. Faithful adherence to the confession of the truth; II. Fellowship of public and family worship; III. Demonstration of faith by works of self-denying love. (Langbein).
(Sermon on the occasion of an ecclesiastical Visitation:) The fourfold standard according to which a congregation and the pastor are to judge themselves: I. The application made of the divine Word; II. Conduct with respect to the Lord’s Supper; III. The personal interest in Christian fellowship; IV. Practice with respect to prayer. (Weitbrecht).
There is a threefold Paradise to which we look back with longing eyes: that of the first human pair, that of our childhood, that of the primitive Church.
How may the survey of the paradisiacal state of the primitive Church become a blessing to us? That survey is well adapted, I. To strengthen our faith, while we gaze on the Church as the beloved of the Lord; II. To humble us, when we soon afterwards perceive that her glory was obscured by a veil which still covers her in almost every place; III. To enlarge our Christian knowledge, and teach us that the power of divine grace bestowed on the Church, as an institution designed to conduct men to salvation, is not yet withdrawn; IV. To give us the comforting assurance, that, amid all the difficulties of the present and any future time, the Lord will continue to add souls to the Church, even unto the end. (A. Schmidt: Predigtstudien).
Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men! [Revelation 21:3]. I. They are his people, Acts 2:42; Acts 2:44-47; II. He is their God, Acts 2:43; Acts 2:47—The little flock of the good Shepherd: how admirably it maintains union, I. With its Lord; II. Among the members; III. As contradistinguished from the world.
The first Christian congregation, a holy family: I. The kind Father of the family; acknowledged with childlike faith—revealed in his daily blessings; II. The beloved members of the family; the older—those of the day of Pentecost; the younger—those who have since been added; III. The admirable family arrangements; doctrine and prayer—breaking of bread and care of the poor. IV. The blessed peace of the family; internally, among themselves—externally, with them that are without [Romans 12:18].
The first Christian congregation, a flourishing garden of God: I. The bright sunshine of divine grace which it was permitted to enjoy, after the abundant Pentecostal shower; II. The rich blossoms of the Spirit and fruits of righteousness, which prosper by the divine blessing: faith, love, hope, humility, gentleness, chastity, alms - giving, prayer, etc.; III. The strong wall which secures the garden of God from the ravages of the foe, Acts 2:40; Acts 2:43.
The image of the Pentecostal congregation of Jerusalem, a golden mirror for all congregations: I. A mirror of instruction—showing us what a Christian congregation ought to be; II. A mirror of repentance—showing us what we need in order to be a Christian congregation; III. A mirror of comfort—showing us the means by which we may become a Christian congregation.
Remember from whence thou art fallen, and do the first works! [Revelation 2:5] —an admonition addressed by the apostolic Church to the Church of our day: the first works of, I. Vital godliness; II. Consistent self-denial; III. Ardent brotherly love; IV. Victorious conflict with the world.
The city of Jerusalem of the primitive Christians, the true Zion of God: I. The unveiled archetype of the city of David of the old covenant; II. The permanent type of the Christian Church of the new covenant; III. The terrestrial image of the heavenly Jerusalem. [The divine purpose in founding the Church.
The duties of members of the Church. —The present (temporal—spiritual) condition of the Church, contrasted with that of the apostolic Church. —The treasures of the Church. —The terms of admission into the Church. —The essential features of Public Worship.
The original establishment of the Christian Church: I. The circumstances under which it was accomplished; (a) the Mosaic institutions were circumscribed and temporary in their character; (b) the time (state of the world, etc.,) had arrived in which it accorded with divine wisdom, that mankind should receive a perfect religion. II. The divine procedure; (a) introduction of gifts and forms which primarily appealed to the senses; (b) but were intended to renew and sanctify the heart; III. The human agency employed; (a) the preaching of the Word; (b) the administration of the Sacraments; IV. The results; (a) promotion of the glory of God; (b) salvation of immortal souls. —Tr.]
Acts 2:42; Acts 2:42. καὶ before τῇ κλὰσει [of text. rec. with D (corrected). E.] is cancelled by later critics, in accordance with weighty authorities. [The word is omitted by Lach., Tisch., Born., and Alf., with A. B. C. D (original). Cod Sin.; these editors insert a comma in place of καὶ.—A later hand (C) prefixed καῖ to τῇ κλάσει in Cod. Sin.—Tr.]
Acts 2:46; Acts 2:46. [In place of from house to house (κατʼ οἶκον) (as in Cranmer) the margin of the Engl. Bible furnishes the (Geneva) version at home.—“The best authorities are now in favor of explaining it to mean in the house or at home, as distinguished from the foregoing phrase, in the temple.—See Romans 16:5; Philem. Acts 2:2, etc.” (J. A. Alexander.) Tr.]
Acts 2:47; Acts 2:47. a. τῇ ἐκκλησια [of text. rec. with E.] was omitted first by Mill, afterwards by Bengel, and, more recently, by Lachmann, as this reading is wanting in several ancient manuscripts [A. B. C., also Cod. Sin.], and versions [Syr. Vulg., etc.]. It appears, however, to have been omitted [by copyists] in order to establish a conformity to Acts 2:41 [where the word does not occur]; but that verse is of a different character, as the verb is there employed in the passive voice. [Alford also rejects τῇ ἐκκλ.—Ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ δὲ Πέτ. is the reading of text. rec. Acts 3:1, with E. most minuscules, etc. But A. B. C. Vulg. (quotidie in idipsum. Petrus autem,) attach ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό, without δὲ, to καθ̓ ἡμέραν in Acts 2:47, and begin a new construction with ̓Πέτρος δὲ. This is the division of the words adopted by each. and Alf., and they are sustained by Cod. Sin., which exhibits in four successive lines of the third column of the page, but without accents, the following arrangement: Τους σωζομενους—καθ ημεραν επι—το αυτο—πετρος δε.—Tr.]
Acts 2:47; Acts 2:47 b. [The original is σωζομένους (present tense), not the future, σωθησομένους. “This awkward periphrasis”, says J. A. Alexander, in reference to the English version (Com. ad loc.), “is borrowed from the Vulgate, qui salvi fierent.” He translates: “The Lord daily added saved (or, saved ones) to, etc.”—Comp. ἐστε σεσωσμένοι, ye are saved in Ephesians 2:5; Ephesians 2:8. According to the analogy of the same word (also passive) in Acts 2:40, the translation would be: “those saving (or, who saved) themselves, that is, says Alford: “they were in the way of salvation when they were added to the Christian assembly.” See Winer: Gram. N. T. § 18. 3, where Lechler’s translation, as given above, is sustained.—Tr.]
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Acts 2". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30