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ACTS CHAPTER 2
Acts 2:1-13 The descent of the Holy Ghost upon the apostles on the day of Pentecost: they speak divers languages, to the general amazement, but some deride them.
Acts 2:14-36 Peter shows that the inspiration spoken of by Joel was now fulfilled; that Jesus, whom they had crucified, was now risen from the dead, and ascended into heaven, according to David’s predictions, and had shed forth the promise of the Holy Spirit in full proof of his being the Messias.
Acts 2:37-40 A great number are converted by Peter’s preaching,
Acts 2:41-47 who, being baptized, converse devoutly and charitably together, the apostles working many miracles, and God daily increasing the church.
Pentecost; this feast was fifty days after the feast of unleavened bread, or passover, as Leviticus 23:16, whence it had its name, and was called the feast of weeks, Exodus 34:22, because it was to be observed seven weeks after the feast of unleavened bread, Deuteronomy 16:9. It was the feast of the first fruit of wheat harvest, Exodus 34:22; and on this day (to answer the type) the Spirit was poured out in such a plentiful manner, as the first fruits of Christ’s ascending into heaven: besides, the law was given on this day, Exodus 19:1,Exodus 19:11, and it was expedient that the gospel (Christ’s law) should be published on the same day: and it being on the first day of the week, it did recommend and honour the Lord’s day, as our Saviour had before by his resurrection on that day.
With one accord; as if they had but one mind, as sent in so many bodies.
In one place; probably that mentioned Acts 1:13.
Suddenly, the apostles themselves not expecting it,
there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind; to prepare them to attend the more unto what they should hear and see afterwards; also to signify the unexpected and powerful progress which the gospel should have: it may be, to cause the greater concourse to that place, it being a usual manner; and God would make this miracle more public.
It filled all the house; to show that the Spirit should be bestowed on them that were met there, and on all the church throughout the world.
Cloven tongs; to signify the variety of languages which the apostles should be enabled to speak, to qualify them to preach the gospel unto all nations, and to remove the obstacle which the confusion of tongues caused.
Like as of fire; which represented,
1. The light that the apostles should impart;
2. The fervent heat and zeal which they should be endowed with;
3. The gospel’s spreading in the world, and carrying all before it, prevailing over all errors;
4. The purity and holiness which they and all that preach the gospel ought to appear withal.
And it sat upon each of them; remained, as far as was necessary for the founding of the Christian religion; and was not, as the gift of prophecy, bestowed only occasionally, as on Nathan, Samuel.
Filled with the Holy Ghost; those gifts and graces which proceeded from him; the apostles having them all in a more excellent manner than formerly, and the gift of tongues superadded.
With other tongues, than what were vernacular or natural to them.
As the Spirit gave them utterance; apofyeggesyai, signifies more than barely to speak, implying they speak each language in its perfection, after an excellent, eloquent, and powerful manner, as from the Holy Ghost, whose works are perfect; non vox hominem sonat.
Not only constant inhabitants, but such as had on occasion their lodgings there; partly out of a constant respect, which both Jews and proselytes had for that place, (for the temple and their worship sake; it being also a place for learning and education, as appears by the colleges and synagogues mentioned, Acts 6:9), but especially now the concourse from all parts must needs have been very great, it being one of those times in which all the males were to appear before God: to which might be added, the great expectation they had of the Messiah made them to omit no occasion of inquiring concerning him, the prophecies concerning the time of his coming being fulfilled, and they could not be ignorant of the many and great things concerning the true Messiah.
Out of every nation under heaven; whither the Jews had been dispersed in the two or three greater or other lesser dispersions. Thus in part was fulfilled what was prophesied, Isaiah 43:5.
Noised abroad; either the miraculous winds were heard, or the report of what had happened was spread abroad.
Were confounded; either out of shame that they had slain Christ, whom God thus extraordinarily glorified; or out of admiration at so extraordinary a matter.
Every man heard them speak in his own language; probably, not that the same words spoken by the apostles were diversified according to every one’s understanding, for then the miracle had been wrought in their auditors, and not in the apostles; but that the apostles did speak to every one in their proper and most intelligible language: and this was the gift of tongues, which for some time after also was continued in the church.
Without literature, or good education, they being worse thought of on that account than the ordinary sort of that nation were; besides, they thought no prophet was to be expected from Galilee, John 1:46.
Διαλεκτος signifies commonly a different way of speaking, or pronouncing in the same language; as our southern, and northern men differ in some words and pronunciation, though speaking both the English tongue. God’s works being most perfect, the apostles might speak, not only the same language which all understood, but in the same idiom and propriety of speech which agreed to every one best.
Elamites; descended from Elam, Genesis 10:22, thought to be the Persians.
Mesopotamia; between the two rivers, Tigris and Euphrates.
Judea; the apostles being Galileans, spake a distinct dialect from the rest of the Jews, till now enabled to speak as they did.
Asia; some particular district, at that time especially so called, as 1 Peter 1:1; otherwise the places before named are in Asia in a larger sense.
Strangers of Rome, who came either to Jerusalem to worship, or for any other business. It is evident that many in or about the city of Rome had embraced the Jewish religion; and of them it may be understood.
Jews: the others, mentioned Acts 2:9, were such as then dwelt in Judea; these were such as lived elsewhere, only now came to worship or sojourn there.
Proselytes; these were of two sorts: the one, such as came over from paganism unto the Jewish religion, and were bound only to observe the precepts of Noah, and enjoyed a liberty to buy and sell, live and converse, amongst the Jews: hence they were called proselytes of the gate. The other were called proselytes of righteousness; for these were circumcised, and took upon them the observation of the whole law of Moses, and had all the privileges belonging to the people of God.
Cretes; such as belonged to the island of Crete, now called Candia.
The wonderful works of God; those things which God had wonderfully wrought, especially the resurrection of our blessed Saviour from the dead, which was a most wonderful work, and the main argument whereby the world was converted, and unto which the apostles bare witness.
They were all amazed; so Acts 2:7; εξισταντο, they were as in an ecstasy, (the object was too strong for the faculty), they could not fathom the cause or reason of these wonderful things; and therefore they desire one of another to be resolved concerning them.
Others; viz. the scribes and Pharisees, and also the inhabitants of Jewry and Jerusalem; who not understanding the languages of other nations, might think the apostles did but babble, and talk idly or rudely, when they spake with other tongues.
New wine, or sweet wine; which done, may inebriate; and might be had at that time, though the full vintage was not yet.
Peter standing up; it speaks his extraordinary courage; after his stumbling and fall, he runs the faster, being recovered; and begins to verify his name which our Lord had given him, showing himself as firm and stedfast as a rock.
With the eleven; the other apostles, probably, spake too in divers languages; but by reason of the shortness of St. Luke’s intended narrative, and it being to the same purpose, their sermons are omitted.
Men of Judea; such as came from other parts of the country.
Ye that dwell at Jerusalem; such as were constant inhabitants in that city.
For these; this proves that the other apostles spake as well as Peter, and were vindicated by him.
Are not drunken; he mildly and solidly confutes their calumny.
The third hour of the day, which answers to our nine o’clock in the morning, and was the ordinary time for their morning sacrifice and prayer, before which time they did not eat or drink any thing; nay, it is thought on festival days it was usual with them not to eat or drink until the sixth hour, that is, noon time, that they might be more intent upon and fit for the service of the day. How little soever (to our shame) such an argument would be of proof now, it was in their more sober times very conclusive.
God does ordinarily, before that he sends his judgments, and does his strange work, endeavour to reclaim them by mercies: not only Joel, but Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, and others, prophesied before the destruction of that people and country by Nebuchadnezzar; but now, before the final and total ruin, God sent greater and more than these, and endued them with a greater measure of the Spirit, clearer and fuller light to forewarn them of and deliver them from wrath to come.
In the last days; in the time of the Messiah, called the last days frequently, 2 Timothy 3:1; Hebrews 1:2; 2 Peter 3:3; as also called the last time, 1 Peter 1:5; 1 John 2:18; Jude 1:18; because we are now under the last and most perfect dispensation of the things of God, and no other is to be looked for until the consummation of all things.
I will pour out of my Spirit; before the Spirit was given in lesser measures, and comparatively but by drops, here a little, and there a little; now more largely, even to overflow.
Upon all flesh; all sorts of men, as well Gentiles as Jews, contrary unto their proud conceit, that God dwelt in none out of the land of Israel.
Daughters shall prophesy; fulfilled in Anna the prophetess, Luke 2:36, and in the four daughters of Philip, Luke 21:9.
Visions; these were formerly either representations more inward to their mind, as Isaiah’s and Jeremiah’s were; or more outward, to their bodily eye, as Belshazzar’s was, Daniel 5:5, and such as Peter had, Acts 10:11.
Dreams; by dreams God sometimes manifested his will, as to Joseph; but this is by St. Peter accommodated to the gospel times. The prophets spake suitably to them unto whom they preached; and the apostle rightly understands by these expressions, the manifold and more clear revelation of the will of God in Christ.
On my servants and on my handmaidens; to show what all ought to be, that hope to receive any benefit or comfort from the promises of God, either in the law or gospel, the Old or New Testament; viz. such as seek and serve God; but to the disobedient and unbelieving there is not a comfortable word in all the book of God. Some read without the pronoun, on servants and handmaids; to show that God doth not despise men of the lowest rank and condition in the world, but that the promise of the Spirit is made unto them also.
As St Peter had declared the promises unto such as would be drawn by the cords of love; so here, on the other side, he useth threatenings, and declares the terrors of the Lord, if so that they will be persuaded. These wonders were such as did precede the destruction of Jerusalem, or shall forerun the destruction of the whole world.
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood; this agrees with the other words in the forecited prophecy, Joel 2:31. How these amazing signs shall be fulfilled, whether literally, and by what means; or whether only that the consternation and dread upon men shall be so great, as expecting the change of the whole frame of nature, is not so material for us to know, as it is to be always prepared for it.
Great and notable day; epifanh, manifest and illustrious day; and it may be taken in a comfortable sense, and will be a comfortable day indeed, to all that preparedly wait for it; for it is the day of the Lord, it is Christ’s day, in which he will be magnified over his enemies, and in his friends, children, and servants.
That he may prepare thus a people for the Lord, the apostle shows by what means they and we may escape. Pray in faith unto him. The name is that whereby any one is known; and the Lord’s name is his attributes, goodness, power, wisdom, faithfulness, &c.
The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe, Proverbs 18:10.
Jesus of Nazareth; for so Pilate had called our Saviour through contempt, in his superscription on the cross: and that they might certainly know of whom he spake, and that he was not now (as formerly) ashamed to own him, he mentions our Saviour under that name here.
Approved; demonstrated, and beyond any contradiction proved, to be the Messiah: for this was that great truth St. Peter preached upon, that Christ, whom Pilate had condemned, and called Jesus of Nazareth, was indeed the Son of God, and the true Messiah.
Miracles and wonders and signs; the critical difference is not so material; it was ordinary to add many words to show the greatness of the matter spoken of; indeed all sorts of wonderful works Christ did, and so many, and so great, as no variety of words can express.
As ye yourselves also know; those that are not convinced are self-condemned.
Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God: that the apostle might take away the offence of the cross of Christ, he declares unto them that he did not suffer by chance, but by the wise and holy providence of God, who had ordered, and by his prophets foretold, what he should suffer before he did enter into glory, Luke 24:26. Yet this did no way excuse those who were instrumental in his death; for notwithstanding God’s determinate counsel concerning it, he tells the Jews, ye have taken, &c. The determination of God, as it does not necessitate to, so it does not excuse any from sin.
Have crucified, by the Romans, who were truly ανομοι, without any law of God. What the Jews urged or occasioned the Romans to do, is charged justly upon them as their act.
Whom God hath raised up: Christ rose by his own power as God: it being, perhaps, too strong meat to be given at first to such who were under so great prejudices against our Saviour; but by consequence in the following discourse he sufficiently shows it.
Loosed; the same word לבח variously pointed, signifying either a cord or pain, the metaphor of loosing agrees with it.
The pains of death: though our Lord endured no more pain after he had said, It is finished, and had yielded up the ghost; yet whilst he was in the grave, being under the power of death, the pains of death are said to be loosed at his resurrection.
It was not possible that he should be holden of it long, much less for ever; being such a one as David spake of.
David speaketh concerning him, Psalms 16:8.
I foresaw the Lord always before my face: in the psalm it is, I have set the Lord: the apostle following the reading of the Seventy, then in use and known; and to the same sense; for by faith we both see God, and place our confidence in him; David, and especially our Saviour, doing and enduring all things as in the sight of God, whom he knew to be both careful of him, and ready to help him. Thus, in all troubles, there is no such approved comfort, as the seeing or acknowledging the will of God concerning them, his power to preserve us under them, and his promises to deliver us from them. Christ, and all that are Christ’s, do conflict under the eye and in the sight of God, as soldiers whilst their general looks on.
On my right hand; the place of the advocate for one that is accused or endangered.
Therefore, because of God’s nearness to or presence with him,
did my heart rejoice; Christ’s and his people’s joy is solid and true, real and inward, and may bear the test, res severa est verum gaudium.
My tongue; in Psalms 16:9, it is my glory, as the tongue is frequently called; communicating our thoughts or apprehensions by speech, being the excellency of a reasonable creature.
My flesh; or my body.
Shall rest; or be in the grave, as in a tabernacle, ordinarily a movable, always no durable abiding place.
In hope; that is, of the resurrection, and going out of that tabernacle of the grave.
My soul; that is, me: the soul is put for the person, as Romans 13:1, Let every soul be subject; and sometimes for a dead body, as Leviticus 19:28; Numbers 5:2, and in divers other places, גפשׁ that signifies a soul, is so used.
In hell; the word αδης is put either for the grave, or for the place of the damned. Being these words are alleged as a proof of Christ’s resurrection, and that our Saviour’s soul was certainly in paradise, where he promised to the penitent thief that he should be with him, it seems rather to be meant of the grave, which, according to this prophecy, could not hold our blessed Saviour’s body so long as that it should corrupt in it. If David by his soul here did mean our Saviour, because he was as it were the soul of his soul, and life of his life, it shows how he did, and how we ought to value him.
Thine Holy One; as being anointed, sanctified, and sent by God.
Thou hast made known to me; God is frequently said to make those mercies known to us which he bestows upon us.
The ways of life; of a true life, which is life indeed. David in these words celebrates God’s delivering of him from his grievous afflictions and exile; in which he was looked upon by others, and by himself, as a dead man, yet was brought again to see the temple, and enjoy the ordinances of God, without which his life was as no life unto him. So our Saviour, after his death and passion, arose, and ascended into heaven, and lives for ever to make intercession for us.
With thy countenance; that is, with thy presence, or manifestation of thy love and favour.
Men and brethren; St. Peter bespeaks this attention and favour, intimating he was one of the same nation with themselves, than which nothing could more recommend him. David was had in great veneration, and his memory very precious amongst this people, as was Abraham’s, Isaac’s, and Jacob’s; who were the chief of their fathers.
He is both dead and buried; as in 1 Kings 2:10, and elsewhere, is recorded of him, which they firmly believed.
His sepulchre, or monument, is with us; either not wholly spoiled by the barbarous enemies, who had destroyed Jerusalem; or rather repaired after the captivity, to keep up the memory of so great and good a man. But by this it appeared, that David did not speak these things concerning himself, who must needs have seen corruption, (themselves being witnesses), for on that account they respected his tomb, as being the repository of his ashes.
Had sworn with an oath; not barely had sworn, which had been sufficient; but to show the excellency of the matter, and the necessity of our believing of it, as also the solemnity of the words, Psalms 132:11.
Of the fruit of his loins; such as should descend from him, as the virgin Mary did.
According to the flesh; as to his human nature, which our Saviour did truly partake of, being in the form of a servant.
He would raise up Christ, by the power of the Holy Ghost in the womb of his virgin mother, as to his incarnation; and by the same power out of the grave, in his resurrection.
To sit on his throne; as Luke 1:32,Luke 1:33; not as a temporal king, for his kingdom is not of this world; but as David ruled over all the people of God, so does Christ, and shall do for ever.
He seeing this before; by a prophetical eye, unto which any thing that was revealed was as certain and manifest, as aught could be to the eye of the body. By the same prophetical Spirit, and with the same certainty, which he space of the incarnation, he
spake also of the resurrection of Christ. Of the rest, see Acts 2:27.
This Jesus, whom ye crucified, and we preach,
Whereof we all are witnesses: they had now received the power spoken of and promised Acts 1:6, and testify what they had heard, and seen, and felt, and all agree in; though they could get nothing by it, but hatred and persecution, nay, death.
By the right hand of God, that is, by the power of God spoken after the manner of men, the right hand being that we commonly do any thing with. Some read at the right hand of God; and then the apostle preaches Christ’s ascension too, and his being justified by God, though he had been condemned by men.
Having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost: Psalms 68:18
Which ye now see, in the fiery cloven tongues; and hear, in the divers languages which are spoken.
For David is not ascended into the heavens; hence St. Peter here proves, that these words, spoken by David, were not principally to be understood concerning himself, but concerning Christ the Messiah; for David, as to his body, was in the sepulchre, which on that account was kept amongst them.
The Lord said unto my Lord; the eternal Father unto his eternal Son, who was now made flesh—hence our Saviour proves his Divinity, Matthew 22:45. The words here referred to are Psalms 110:1.
Christ is commissioned and empowered to reign over and govern all creatures, and all their actions, till the consummation of all things, so long as the world lasts, in which he, his people, and truths, will have enemies, Ephesians 1:20-22; 1 Corinthians 15:27,1 Corinthians 15:28.
This is the conclusion which the apostle infers from the premises, applying what he had said very close and home, or it would not in all likelihood have had so good an effect.
Ye have crucified; ye are the men.
Lord over all the creatures, beyond what the first Adam was; and Christ, King over all the people of God, to rule in them, and reign for them; for to this purpose he was the Christ, or the Anointed of God, declared by God to be so, and owned for such by all that believed in him.
They were pricked in their heart; so great and true their grief, they were concerned as if they had been run through: (the pains the mind suffer are most acute): this was foretold, Zechariah 12:10.
Men and brethren; an ordinary compellation which the apostle had given them, Acts 2:29.
What shall we do? not, What shall we say, or believe? Conversion, if real, goes further than profession, and is in heart and deed, not in speech and word only: they desire to know if there be any hope, that such sinners as they might obtain forgiveness of their sins.
Repent, which includes amendment of life, Matthew 3:8; Luke 3:8. In the name of Jesus Christ; not excluding the name of the Father and the Holy Ghost, in whose name, as well as in the name of the Son, they were to baptize, Matthew 28:19; but the name of Jesus is here mentioned, because they had not yet known (but persecuted and slain) him, whom henceforward they must profess; and that they look for pardon and salvation only through him. For the remission of sins; thus Saul, or Paul, is said to wash away his sins by baptism, Acts 22:16; and this apostle elsewhere says, that baptism saves us, 1 Peter 3:21; which he explains to be, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience, & c. The gift of the Holy Ghost:
1. His internal gifts, confirmation and strengthening in the faith.
2. External gifts, as that of speaking with tongues, which they heard. Both, or either of these, according to their conditions or stations, God would bestow upon them.
For the promise is unto you; lest they should doubt of pardon and grace, their sin having been so great. St. Peter gives them a ground of hope, they being the descendants from Abraham, unto whom especially this was promised, Jeremiah 31:34.
And to all that are afar off; that is, to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews, who were said to be a people near unto God, as the Gentiles were said to be afar off, Isaiah 57:19; Ephesians 2:13.
Even as many as the Lord our God shall call; vocation, whether external by the word only, or internal by the Spirit also, depends on the pleasure of God; but the same promises of pardon and acceptance upon repentance made unto the Jews, are as effectually to be trusted unto by any of the Gentiles, as by any formerly amongst the Jews.
Many other words: the sermons of the apostles, or of our Saviour, are not all set down by the holy writers; but only so much as God saw necessary for his church to know and believe.
Testify and exhort; using God’s name and authority, and calling him as it were to witness.
Save yourselves: no less than the salvation of our souls depends upon our forsaking wicked and profane persons in their ungodly courses.
From this untoward generation; the whole world lies in wickedness; but especially the scribes and Pharisees, and other such declared enemies of Christ Jesus.
They that gladly received his word; some still remained in their unbelief and hardness of heart; though never men spake as the apostles now spake, with divers tongues, &c.
Unto them; to the church, or the hundred and twenty formerly mentioned, Acts 1:15. This was the effect of Christ’s prayer for his persecutors, Luke 23:34; and of the promise of the Spirit now fulfilled, whereby in the day of his power they were made willing.
They continued stedfastly, speaks the reality of their conversion, and that they were not only for the present affected with what they had heard and seen. These three parts of worship were frequently, if not always, in those purer times used together: though some understand by breaking of bread, their civil fellowship and community, yet breaking being a holy rite used by our Saviour, at the institution of his supper, Matthew 26:26, and breaking of bread being here put in conjunction with preaching and praying, the celebration of the eucharist, if not only meant, is chiefly to he understood in this place.
Prayers; all those kinds of prayers mentioned by St. Paul, 1 Timothy 2:1, as also their frequent praying, is implied. Thus, by a united force, they laboured to pull down mercies upon themselves and others, and to do violence unto the kingdom of heaven.
Upon every soul; that is, upon every man; not only on them that were present, and persuaded to believe on Christ, whom the apostles preached; but on such also as were informed of those miraculous things which now happened; so that by this means the apostles were had in great esteem and respect by the people.
All that believed were together; not that they lived together in one house or street, but that they met (and that frequently) together in the holy exercises of their religion; and that manner of some, which St. Paul speaks of, Hebrews 10:25, to forsake the assembling of themselves together, was a sin not yet known in the church.
And had all things common; this was only at that place, Jerusalem, and at that time, when the wants of some, and the charity of others, may well be presumed to be extraordinary; and there is no such thing as community of goods here required or practised. Christ’s gospel does not destroy the law; and the eighth commandment is still in force, which it could not be, if there were no propriety, or meum and tuum, now; nay, after this, the possession which Ananias sold is adjudged by this apostle to have been Ananias’s own, and so was the money too which he had received for it, Acts 5:4. And these all things which they had in common, must either be restrained to such things as every one freely laid aside for the poor; or that it speaks the extraordinary charitable disposition of those new converts, that they would rather have parted with any thing, nay, with their all, than that any of their poor brethren should have wanted.
Those proportions of their estate they set apart to this charitable work; whether they did arise out of the sale of house or land, called
possessions, or of any chattels or movable estate, called here goods: but that they did not divest themselves of all property, appears in that we find soon after this, Acts 12:12, Mary the mother of St. Mark to have a house; and Lydia, after she was baptized, did not renounce any propriety in her house, Acts 16:15, but entreated St. Paul, and those who were with him, to come into her house, &c.
In the temple; in the court and porches of the temple, whither the people did use to resort at the time of the morning and evening sacrifice and prayers, that by means of the great concourse at such times they might have the better opportunity to preach the gospel amongst them; casting that net where they found most fish.
Breaking bread; not only celebrating the eucharist, but their love feasts which they usually had at that time, as 1 Corinthians 11:21,1 Corinthians 11:22.
From house to house; now here, now there, as they could conveniently; the richer also entertaining their poorer brethren at their tables.
Did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart: if the former words be understood of the Lord’s supper, then these words speak the great spiritual strength, cheer, and comfort they got by it: if we understand them of the ordinary meats which they willingly bestowed one upon another, the rich were more than recompensed with inward peace and satisfaction, for what they gave unto their poor brethren.
Praising God; acknowledging him who teacheth one to want, and another to abound.
Having favour with all the people; that is, generally to be understood, amongst them that continued yet without the pale of the church; the goodness, meekness, and patience of the apostles, and the rest of the believers, did wonderfully prevail to beget a good opinion of them.
The Lord added to the church; salvation is (to be sure) only from the Lord; not Peter’s sermons, no, nor the miracles of fiery cloven tongues, and the rushing mighty wind, could have converted any, but Δει τι ενδον, that which was signified there, viz. the powerful operation of the Spirit of God in their hearts.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Acts 2". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30