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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament
Acts 1

 

 

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Verse 1-2

DEDICATION

1, 2. We see that this book is dedicated to Luke’s friend Theophilus, to whom his Gospel is also dedicated. Doubtless this brother Theophilus, who is not elsewhere mentioned, was much beloved by Paul and Luke. While it is more than likely that some eminent saint is here personally addressed, it is pertinent to observe that Theophilus is a cognomen from Theos, God, and philos, a lover. Hence it means a lover of God, and is here to be understood not only as specific, but generic, and applying to all of the lovers of God in all ages. Hence, reader, take notice; if you are a lover of God, this book, as well as Luke’s Gospel, is dedicated to you, since it is dedicated to all the lovers of God of all ages and nations.


Verse 3

THE KINGDOM OF GOD

3. I am so sorry that nothing has been elaborately revealed appertaining to the precious ministry of our Lord with His apostles during the forty days of His glorified sojourn upon the earth between His resurrection and ascension. It is merely here stated that He spent the time “speaking the things concerning the kingdom of God.” Doubtless this explains the thrilling enthusiasm of apostolic preaching relative to the coming kingdom, and their incessant buoyant expectancy of their Lord’s return on the throne of His Millennial glory during their personal ministry. The kingdom of God is the Divine government. It was predominant in Eden, suffering total eclipse in the Fall. It was partially restored among the antediluvians, received a great impetus in the flood, flashed along the patriarchal ages, thundered out from Sinai, was predicted by the old prophets, preached by John the Baptist, our Savior and His apostles, and, during the Gospel dispensation, is to be heralded to all the nations on the face of the whole earth, calling out the elect and preparing them for the Lord’s glorious coming, when He will be crowned King of all nations and reign from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, “and of His kingdom there shall be no end.”


Verse 4-5

BAPTISM WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT

4, 5. One of the puzzles of all Christendom, a problem which none can solve, is why the Christian Church in all ages has not strictly adhered to the positive and unequivocal mandate of her Lord “not to depart from Jerusalem” till the Pentecostal enduement of the Holy Ghost and fire had descended on them. If she had faithfully obeyed this commandment of her ascended Lord she would have conquered the world long ago, preached the Gospel to every nation, and thus brought back her glorious King, restoring to the whole earth the Edenic state. This is the missing key-stone out of the fallen arches of all the great ecclesiasticisms that have ever risen upon the earth. When the Holiness people relax their grip upon this glorious mandate of our Lord, and send out unsanctified preachers like the worldly churches, it will then be pertinent to write Ichabod on our escutcheon.


Verse 6

KINGDOM OF ISRAEL

6. When Jacob was converted amid the wonderful vision of the ladder, he called the place Bethel, which means “the family of God,” commemorating the fact of his spiritual birth, as then and there he was born into the family of God. After twenty years of terrible conflict with inbred sin, especially assuming the form of that fatal iniquity of covetousness, which has slain its millions, not even sparing the apostles, but consigning poor Judas to the doom of the lost, Jacob, like all others, could only conquer in a second work of grace. Peniel means “the face of God.” He must meet God face to face and receive the wonderful fiery baptism on the bank of the Jabbok. There victory came never to depart, and his name was changed from Jacob, which means “rascal,” to Israel, which means one that “prevails with God.” In the grand restitution, when Satan is to be taken out of the world and Paradisian glory restored, the government of the world is to be given to the “princes of God,” who shall rule all nations as the subordinates of their glorious King.


Verse 7

TIMES AND SEASONS

7. Probably a better translation of these Greek words would be “periods and epochs.” You plant out a peach orchard. Then follows a period running over a number of years during which the trees flourish and yield their fruits. Eventually they get old and diseased, and the fruit is not only imperfect in quality but much reduced in quantity, so that it no longer pays to perpetuate the enterprise. The fruit bearing period is past and a revolutionary epoch supervenes. You dig the trees up by the roots, make fuel of trunks, roots and branches, plough and harrow the ground as virgin soil and proceed to pitch another crop on an entirely different agricultural line. So, in the Divine administration, we see these periods occupying rolling centuries and wound up by miraculous Divine interventions, developing memorable epochs and superinducing a new order of things. The Eden period terminated in the sad calamity of the Fall; the antediluvian, with the Flood; the patriarchal, with Egyptian slavery, plagues, and destruction in the Red Sea. The Mosaic dispensation, launched amid the thunders and earthquakes of Sinai, adorned with many prophets, saints and martyrs, finally degenerated, like its predecessors, into dead formality and hollow hypocrisy, rushing madly into the bloody scene of Calvary, fast ripening for destruction by the invasion of the Roman armies. The Gospel dispensation, the last of all in the grand preparatory for the coming kingdom, though inaugurated amid the unprecedented glories of Pentecost, pursuant to prophecies has already degenerated into worldly ecclesiasticisms, fast ripening for destruction. “It is not your prerogative to know the periods and epochs, which the Father placed in his own authority.” The appointment of the day of His coming is fanatical, as this is known to the Father only. However, it is our privilege to know the time of the end, the precise time being known only to the Father, from the simple fact that it is probably impossible for any human being to know the exact chronology. Professors Totton and Dimbleby, evidently the greatest chronologists of the present age, define the expiration of the “Gentile times” in the last vernal equinox (1898). The lunar chronology finishes the “Gentile times” seven years ago; the calendar chronology, thirty-five years hence, and the solar chronology, in seventy years. If we take Daniel’s tribulation period, forty five years, to intervene between the rapture of the Bride and the coming of the King, we may certainly be on the constant lookout, because by the majority of chronologists the coming of the Lord to steal away His Bride is over-due. That we are living in the time of the end of the Gentile dispensation and in the Millennial dawn, is certainly indubitable.


Verse 8

THE HOLY GHOST HIMSELF, THE POWER

8. “But you shall receive power of the Holy Ghost having come on you.” The English version gives this very incorrectly, “you shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost has come upon you.” You find it beautifully corrected in the Revised version. I have heard and read many sermons from this text exhorting the people to seek power after the Holy Ghost had come on them. All this leads to superstition and fanaticism. The plain revelation is that the Holy Ghost Himself is the power, and there is no other. So never seek power, but seek the Holy Ghost Himself. When you have Him you have all the power you need to do anything that God wants you to do. So you have nothing to do but to get thoroughly sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost, abide in Him, obey, and be true. So long as you thus abide, responsive to the gentle voice of the indwelling Comforter, verifying His will revealed by His Spirit, Word and providence, you will have all the power you need to do your whole duty, because you have Omnipotence to check on at will. After we are filled with the Holy Ghost we grow with paradoxical rapidity, and thus, with spiritual enlargement, become more and more capacious of God. Consequently, we should be always reaching for a more copious enduement of the Holy Ghost, ever seeking Him and depending on Him alone to impart the needed power. The word translated “power” here is not identical with the word “power” in the preceding verse. There it is exousia, “authority”; here it is dunamis, “dynamite.” Hence, the literal reading: “You shall receive dynamite of the Holy Ghost having come on you”; i. e., if you will receive the Holy Ghost as a personal, indwelling Sanctifier and abiding Comforter, He will supply you with all the dynamite you need to blow all sin out of you and to qualify you to blow up the Devil’s kingdom wherever you go, and enjoy an everlasting victory in your heart and life.

TESTIMONY

“And you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost of the earth.” Here we see the beautifully defined and ordinary phenomena of the indwelling Holy Ghost. Such people are saved from false modesty and tormenting cowardice, so they are always ready to testify anywhere and everywhere. They have faith in the Holy Ghost to give them words. So they do not wait to study up something to say, but are always ready to open their mouths and meekly witness to the mighty works of God in their souls. The fallen churches are dumb like graveyards. The Pentecostal churches are vocal like graveyards on the resurrection morn, when tombs are bursting and saints leaping into the air with roaring shouts of victory. Dumb religion is the devil’s counterfeit. God’s genuine opens the mouth and keeps it open.


Verses 9-11

THE ASCENSION

9-11. This is the grand climacteric fact of this chapter, suitable to impress it on the memory as the Ascension chapter. When I was at Jerusalem I was never satisfied walking over Mount Olivet where Jesus walked so much. Whenever I had a leisure hour I would run away to Calvary or to Olivet, or to both. The memorable spot where the feet of my Lord did last tread the earth, how unutterably hallowed! That sacred Spot is left unencumbered with any superstructure to this day. It is free for the weary feet of loving pilgrims from all lands to tread. About ten paces from it a beautiful stone tower two hundred feet high has been erected for the accommodation of the Lord’s pilgrims who are anxious to follow Him just as far as possible in His upward flight. How I was delighted to climb that tower to its summit!

There I stood gazing up into the blue ethereal firmament of a Palestinian sky through which my Lord did fly away, and leave the world in darkness to mourn His absence and sigh for His return. As I gazed skywardly I imagined that I saw the opening heavens and the glory radiating from the shining presence of my descending King. The trumpet reverberated in my ears, and I saw old Mount Olivet bestudded all over with the tombs of patriarchs, prophets, saints and martyrs, breaking into fragments, thus liberating the long-imprisoned saints, leaping into the air and ascending with tremendous shouts to meet their glorious Lord. I enjoyed climbing that tower; but I did not like to come down. I longed for my wings, to fly away along the shining ethereal track whither my Lord had ascended up to Heaven.


Verse 11

11. “And they said, Galilean men, why stand ye gazing up into Heaven? The same Jesus who was taken up from you into Heaven will so come in the manner in which you saw Him going into Heaven.” Such was the testimony of those radiant angels whose effulgent glory flashed out on the astounded multitude standing on the summit of Mount Olivet and witnessing the glorious ascension of our Lord. He went up amid the clouds, bright and glorious (as there are no rain clouds in Jerusalem in the summer time); so He will come again, riding on a brilliant white cloud, bright as the lightning. He went up accompanied by hosts of angels as well as redeemed spirits. So He will return, attended by mighty hosts of unfallen angels and all the disembodied spirits of the Bridehood, returning to the earth to receive their risen and glorified bodies. Zechariah beautifully corroborates the testimony of these angels: “His feet shall stand again upon Mount Olivet.” This is grand and conclusive, assuring us beyond the possibility of cavil that the very same transfigured and glorified body of Jesus which flew up from Mount Olivet is coming back again to put His feet on that mountain summit. The word of the Lord is unmistakable. The same Jesus who rode over Mount Olivet on the donkey is going to ride down on a cloud and put His glorified feet on the spot He evacuated to fly away to heaven. The very same Jesus who hung on the cross is going to sit on the throne.


Verse 12-13

THE UPPER CHAMBER

12, 13. The walled city of Jerusalem is a quadrangle about twice as long from east to west as wide from north to south. The population is now estimated at fifty thousand, the city without the wall containing the same, though occupying a much larger territory and growing rapidly, as the space within the wall is all densely filled up, crammed and crowded. The walled city stands on a great mountainous table-land, the four prominences of which are Mount Zion, in the southwest; Mount Moriah, in the southeast; Mount Bazetha, in the northeast, and Mount Akra, in the northwest. Jerusalem is by nature the most impregnably fortified city on the globe, the Almighty with His own hand having prepared the site, high up on those great mountains, environed by the deep mountain gorges, designated the valleys of Gihon, Hinnom, Jehoshaphat, and Kidron, completely encompassing the city (really constituting one continuous abyss on all sides except the north). Hence invading armies in all ages have been utterly unable to approach the city except from the north. As it is the city of the Heavenly King, all the kings of the earth in all ages, conscious of the rivalry between this fallen world and heaven, have always held a grudge against Jerusalem and done their utmost to destroy it. Therefore Jerusalem has stood seventeen sieges and been destroyed seven times. After the Romans destroyed it, A. D. 73, the emperors, who were loyal worshipers of Jupiter, Apollo, Venus, Minerva, Diana and other Roman gods, and implacable enemies both to the Jewish and Christian religion, did their utmost to exterminate not only the existence but even the memory of Jerusalem from the annals of the world. Hence the Emperor Adrian in the second century dropped the very name “Jerusalem,” founded a Roman colony on the site, and named it Elia Capitolina, thus obliterating the very memory of God’s holy city. Two hundred years rolled away with no city on the earth called Jerusalem. When the Emperor Constantine, A. D. 325, was converted to Christianity, he and his queenly mother Helena went to Jerusalem and undertook its restoration, restoring the name and doing their utmost to identify the hallowed spots so dear and sacred to every Christian heart. Mount Olivet, east of Jerusalem, across the valleys of Jehoshaphat and Kidron, is the highest in all that region, being two hundred feet higher than Zion, Moriah, Bazenta and Akra on which Jerusalem stands. The city is so densely built as to disqualify the explorer from seeing much of it while within the walls. From the summit of Mount Olivet we enjoy a most capacious and satisfactory view of the whole city. When our Savior ascended into heaven from the summit of this mountain, pursuant to His emphatic mandate, positively prohibiting the disciples from their long cherished privilege of the world’s evangelization till they received the Pentecostal enduement of the Holy Ghost and fire, they returned to Jerusalem, “a Sabbath day’s journey”; i. e., three quarters of a mile.

Entering through the east wall, they travel on through the whole length of the city to that favorite upper chamber on Mt. Zion, in the southwest corner of the city, which memories had already hallowed, because Jesus had there so frequently edified them in His wonderful Bible-school. In this upper chamber not only the twelve apostles, but one hundred and eight disciples, male and female, assembled. Among them, the mother of Jesus and His brothers.


Verse 14

14. Our Lord’s brothers [doubtless the sons of Joseph by a former marriage], James and Judas, the latter in E. V. called Jude to contradistinguish him from Judas Iscariot, who had brought disgrace on the name. These brothers of our Lord are not mentioned in the catalogue of the original twelve (Matthew 10). There are two named James in that catalogue, but neither of them the Lord’s brother. After our Savior’s inauguration into His official Messiahship by the baptism of John, He immediately began to astonish the world by His mighty works. All classes and nationalities are electrified and bewildered by His miracles, spontaneously clamoring, “Surely this is none other than Messias, the Shiloh of prophecy, the Christ of God, the Redeemer of Israel, and the Savior of the world.” Meanwhile, His elder brothers remained somewhat reticent, soliloquizing, “This is no one but our little brother Jesus, whom we used to rock in the cradle and entertain with flowers, while mother got dinner. He was always the best and sweetest child we ever saw, and so good and industrious to help us do the work, at an early day becoming quite an expert in the carpenter-shop. We do believe that He is a mighty prophet, like Moses, Elijah, and Elisha. They wrought stupendous miracles. But to say that He is the Christ of God, the Shiloh of prophecy, the Redeemer of Israel, and the Savior of the world, is certainly going too far. He is just one of us, and nobody but our own dear little brother.” Therefore His elder brothers, James and Jude, stand aloof and contemplate all the mighty works of their brother Jesus, till He is arrested, nailed to the cross, and they see Him expire. Then they say, “Our precious brother ventured too far; He had great power, to be sure; but He made a mistake in venturing so far as to let His enemies get their hands on him. So now he is dead.” But when they see Him walk out of the sepulcher and fly up to heaven, they utterly break down and fall into line with tremendous shouts of victory, “Glory to God in the highest, the thing is settled forever; after all, our dear brother Jesus is all that His disciples ever claimed for Him. He is none other than the Shiloh of prophecy, the Christ of God, the Redeemer of Israel, and the Savior of the world.” The Apostles hail the Lord’s brothers a happy welcome into the apostleship of their Lord, and honor James, the elder of the two, with the pastorate of the Alma Mater Church at Jerusalem.


Verses 15-26

SUICIDE, SUCCESSION AND DOOM OF JUDAS

15-26. Now Peter, in his recognized seniority, proceeds to have the vacuum created by the fall of Judas Iscariot supplied. The prophecies here quoted predicting the treason of Judas, did not necessitate him to perpetrate the atrocious crime. You must bear in mind that God is not tied to the prophecies, but the prophecies to God. The prophecies are in the past tense, from the simple fact that they are histories in anticipation, seen by the Omniscient Eye, with whom all events in all ages are present. Christ came into the world to die, a substitute for fallen humanity. If Judas had never been born, Jesus would have died a ransom for a lost world just the same. In Acts 1:17 we learn that Judas received a lot of the apostolic ministry. We can not conclude that our Savior ever sent out a sinner or a devil to preach His holy gospel. John 6:70 : “Have I not chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” If you will notice the gospel harmony you will find these words were spoken after about two years of the apostolic ministry had passed away. Unfortunately, Judas was the apostolical treasurer and financier, — a very dangerous office. The love of money fought Jacob with desperation twenty years, and would have conquered and sent him to hell if he had not triumphed in the Peniel experience after that memorable night of prayer, when the love of money and all other phases of depravity were sanctified out of him. We doubt not but poor Judas has an alarming ministerial following at the present day. Could you uncap the bottomless pit and look down upon Judas, doubtless you would see him surrounded by multiplied thousands of preachers and church officials who were ruined by the love of money, sold out their Lord for filthy lucre, and made their bed in hell. Jesus condemns the hireling shepherd and says he will play the coward when the wolf comes. No wonder Satan’s wolves at the present day are making awful havoc, slaying, devouring and scattering the Lord’s sheep when a hireling ministry is the established order of all ecclesiasticisms. Judas sold Jesus for fifteen dollars. Many a preacher nowadays sells Him for fifteen hundred, and not a few for fifteen thousand. I seriously doubt whether any other apostle has a larger ministerial following than Judas. Reader, beware of filthy lucre; it sent an apostle to hell! There is no disharmony between Matthew and Luke as to the suicide of Judas, and their dissimilarity of phraseology but clinches the argument in favor of the veracity of both, as there is no probability that either had seen the record of the other. The statement in E. V. that Judas repented is not correct. When man repents in the true Bible sense, God always forgives, because a genuine repentance is the work of the Holy Ghost and the infallible antecedent to a free pardon. If Judas had repented, he would have been forgiven and saved. The Greek word does not mean repent, but “flooded with remorse,” an actual prelude of hell torment, so utterly intolerable as to precipitate him into suicide. For the same reason millions besides Judas have hurried to end their misery by suicide, a stratagem of the devil to expedite their damnation. Amid this horrific and unbearable remorse, Judas, seeking in vain to rescind the contract, throws down the money in the temple and runs away off to a rugged precipice beyond the deep valley of Hinnom [pointed out to me by my guide when I was there in 1895] with furious expedition, gets hold of a rope too weak to bear his robust, corpulent, Jewish body, ties it round his neck, swings off from the precipice, the rope breaks, he falls precipitately on the great rocks beneath, bursting in twain, as the Greek says, with a great noise, all of his internal organs gushing out. Thus he dies a most horrible death, weltering in his own blood. The popular superstition recognized the spot on which he fell as polluted, and, in modern parlance, haunted and unfit for human occupancy. Hence, they satisfy the proprietor by paying for it with Judas’s money which he had thrown down in the temple, and erect on it a sepulcher for the interment of the homeless and friendless dying at Jerusalem.


Verse 18-19

REMORSE AND SUICIDE OF JUDAS

Matthew 27:3-10; Acts 1:18-19. Matthew: “Then Judas, the one having betrayed Him, seeing that He was condemned; giving way to remorse, brought the thirty pieces of silver to the high priests and elders, saying, I sinned, betraying the innocent blood, And they said, What is that to us? You see to it.” “Repented,” in E. V. is incorrect, as it is not metanoeo, the word properly translated “repent” in the New Testament, but metamelomai, which means to be flooded with remorse. When man repents, God always saves. Hell is full of remorse, but no repentance. If the lost souls in perdition could repent, salvation would take them out quickly. Repentance is one of the graces of the Holy Spirit; who never visits people in hell: Judas had passed the dead-line possessed by Satan, so that he could not repent. The remorse that seized him was really a prelude of hell’s torment. That is the reason why he committed suicide. Even this prelude of damnation is so awful as to drive people precipitately into suicide.

“And throwing down the money in the temple, he went away, and having gone, hanged himself.” The Temple Campus is very near Pilate’s judgment- hall. I am perfectly satisfied that Judas had no thought of the matter turning out as it did. He did not believe they could arrest Him or hurt Him, as he had seen them try it over and over, and always fail. We are not apologizing for him. He had yielded to the love of money and become a poor backslider, thus opening the door for Satan to tempt him along that line.

Jesus had pronounced him a thief, doubtless because of his intention to sell Him for money when he was satisfied that they could not take Him. Judas, as well as the other eleven, was on the constant outlook for Him to put forth His miraculous power, which he had so often witnessed, extricate Himself from His enemies, and, as they hoped, ascend the throne of Judea. Now that he sees the last hope of His release is gone, Pilate having ceased to labor for His deliverance, signed His death-warrant, and acquiesced in His crucifixion, he gives way to despair, and is inundated with a flood of intolerable remorse, so that, rushing to the temple, where the money was kept, and throwing it all down, he ran away off out of the city, beyond the deep Valley of Hinnom, and hanged himself.

“Then indeed he purchased the ground from the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he bursts open in the middle, and all his bowels ran out. This was known to all those living at Jerusalem, so that that place is called, in their language, Aceldama, that is, Place of blood.” (Acts 1:18-19.)

Judas was a robust Jew, corpulent and heavy. In his precipitation, crazy with remorse, he hanged himself to a tree whose limb extended out over the deep chasm of Hinnom. The rope broke, and he fell a great way, and was dashed to pieces on the rocks beneath. N. B. — The Israelites, and especially in that day, either buried in caves or in stone sepulchers hewn out of the cliff. During my recent tour, I visited the tombs of Aceldama, and went into a number of them as large as an ordinary room in a dwelling, where, on the shelves prepared for the dead bodies, I saw great piles of bones, illustrating the custom of bringing a corpse into a tomb, and laying it on the dry bones of others which have long been there wasting. I saw vast piles of human bones in those tombs, confirming this Scripture in reference to the purchasing of this portion of those rugged cliffs with the money which Judas threw: down. So many Jews, from all parts of the world, thronged the metropolis during the festivals, that it was not improbable that many strangers would die and be buried there. A reason why they sold it so readily was because the death of Judas had defiled it, and in Jewish estimation rendered it unclean. You see all this predicted in Zechariah 11:12, and Jeremiah 32:6. The sad fate of Judas should put a tremor on us all when we contemplate the love of money, as his financial office as apostolical treasurer surely prepared the way for his apostasy and ruin. I never would have a money office.


Verse 20

20. “His episcopacy let another take.” Here we find that Judas was a bishop, like all the other apostles. The New Testament bishop is simply a pastor of the flock of Christ, the original word being episcopos from epi, “over,” and scopeoo, “see.” Hence it simply means an overseer, and applies legitimately and unequivocally to every class-leader, leader of a Holiness band or pastor in charge of a little bunch of Christians. The modern episcopacy is utterly unknown in the New Testament, and certainly a mistake in church economy, as out of it has developed priestcraft, prelacy, popery and the institutions of Antichrist which have girdled the globe with the abominations of spiritual Babylon. These facts do not necessarily preclude the legitimacy and the expediency of a judicious and Scriptural superintendency. They recognize but one qualification for the apostleship, and that is primitive and persevering discipleship with Jesus throughout His entire ministry. Now they present two candidates, both well qualified, and turn over the election to the Holy Ghost. The casting of lots, customary in that day, innocent, simple and recognized of God, was equivalent to drawing straws, a very simple and common method of decision at the present day. The lot having fallen on Matthias, he is at once recognized as a legal apostle, filling the vacancy created by the fall of Judas. This whole transaction has been severely criticized and condemned by theologians as destitute of divine authority, at the same time alleging that Matthias never served as an apostle, as we never hear of him afterward. This argument breaks down of its own weight, as the same may be said of the majority of the other apostles. Paul, with his vast learning, as a matter of course wrote up his ministry; while, for the very opposite reason, the other apostles wrote nothing, except four, and some of them but little; while we are dependent on secular history for our knowledge of the life, ministry and destiny of the majority. History informs us that Matthias entered courageously upon his great and responsible work. During the destruction of Jerusalem, A. D. 73, all the apostles, being Jews, with all other Jews and Christians who were nearly all Jews at that time, being driven out of Palestine went in all directions preaching the Word, doubtless like Paul each of them seeking a new field where he would build on no man’s foundation. Matthias went on preaching, taking Africa for his field of labor, wandering far away into Abyssinia, where he preached faithfully till he was honored with a martyr’s crown. Mark also went to Africa and finally suffered martyrdom in Alexandria, Egypt, being dragged by a cruel mob through the streets till he expired. Matthew also spent his life preaching in Africa, finally suffering martyrdom in a city of Ethiopia. Luke, the faithful writer of this book, was hung on an olive tree in Greece. Paul was beheaded by order of Nero, about one mile west of the Roman wall. Peter was crucified on the Campus Martins in Rome, with his head downward. Andrew became the apostle of Armenia, where he faithfully preached till they crucified him on a transverse cross. Philip was crucified in Asia Minor.

Bartholomew preached faithfully in Phrygia till ordered by the king to leave his country forever. Failing to obey the order, the enraged monarch had him skinned alive. Jude, the brother of our Lord, wandered far away into Northwestern Asia, preaching in Tartary and perhaps in China till they put him to death by tying him up to a tree and shooting his body full of arrows. James the Greater, the son of Zebedee and brother of John, was beheaded by Herod Antipas. James the Less, the son of Alphaeus, was precipitated from a pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem, and then beaten to death with a fuller’s club. Thomas the doubter, all of his doubts and cowardice having been burned up when he received the fiery baptism, preached his way far out into India, where he faithfully preached and witnessed for Jesus till his enemies ran a cruel iron bar through his body and hung him up between two trees, thus complimenting him with a martyr’s crown.


Verse 25

25. “To receive a place of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas departed to go into his own place.” So long as Judas was true to the ministry and apostleship of our Lord, he enjoyed a place in the kingdom of God. Unfortunately, Satan pulls and pulls incessantly on the mighty Archimedian lever of money-love, till he finally maneuvers to tilt him away from the safe anchorage of our Lord’s ministry and apostleship, the divine image evanescing from his heart and the Heavenly Dove retreating away. Then Satan comes in and pollutes his spirit through and through, obliterating every trace of heavenly congeniality and fitting him only for hell. Just as Holiness gravitates all its possessors into heaven, their own place, where they meet none but congenial spirits; even so doth sin gravitate its victim hellwardly, till, like a millstone round his neck, it drags him into the bottomless pit, “his own place,” where everything and all the inmates are alike polluted with sin, and where alone in all the realms of eternal worlds, the sinner can find congeniality. The sinner has his own hell in him and carries it with him into hell. If he were to go to heaven he would carry his hell in him into the city of God. With hell in him, though in heaven, he would doubtless be, if possible, more miserable than in hell; so that even in heaven he would be irreconcilably dissatisfied and wretched so that he would long to get away, and, like the fallen apostle, go to “his own place.”

 


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Bibliography Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Acts 1:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/acts-1.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, August 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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