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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
Acts 2



Other Authors
Verse 1

1. ἐν τῷ συνπληροῦσθαι] While the day of P. was being fulfilled: ‘during the progress of that particular day:’ this is necessitated by the pres. tense. In sense, it amounts to ‘when the day of P. was fully come,’ as E. V.: but not in grammar. Professor Hitzig, in a letter to Ideler, “Ostern und Pflngsten, u.s.w.,” maintains that the meaning is, ‘As the day of P. drew on,’—‘was approaching its fulfilment:’ but this view is refuted by Neander, “Pflanzung u. Leitung, u.s.w.,” p. 10, note. Hitzig supports his view by Acts 2:5, taking κατοικοῦντες to imply constant residence, not merely sojourning on account of the feast, which latter he says would have been specified if it were so. Neander replies, 1. that ἐν τ. συνπλ. τ. . τ. π. must necessarily mean that the day itself had arrived; compare πλήρωμα τοῦ χρόνου or τῶν καιρῶν, Galatians 4:4 and Ephesians 1:10. In Luke 9:51, it is not said of the day, but of the days of His being received up, including the whole period introductory to that event: and, by the very same interpretation, the day of P. must in this case have arrived, (and was being accomplished, i.e. in process of passing.) And again, if only the approach of that day were indicated, why should the day itself have been mentioned, seeing that it would then be no way concerned in the narrative? On the propriety of the day itself as belonging to the narrative, see below. 2. It is true that in Acts 2:5, if we had that verse only before us, we should interpret κατοικ. of dwelling, permanently (no real difference being traceable between κατοικεῖν with an accus., and κατοικεῖν ἐν); but if we compare it with Acts 2:9, we shall see, that the same persons would thus be κατοικοῦντες in Jerusalem and several other localities,—which necessarily restricts the meaning, in Acts 2:5, to a temporary sojourn. And, granting that there may have been some residents in Jerusalem among these foreign Jews, the ἐπιδημοῦντες ῥωμαῖοι certainly point to persons who were for some especial reason at Jerusalem at the time, as also the proselytes. And in Acts 2:14 Peter distinguishes the ἄνδρες ἰουδαῖοι,—the residents, from οἱ κατοικοῦντες ἱερους. ἅπαντες,—the sojourners.

τ. ἡμ. τῆς π.] The fiftieth day (inclusive) after the sixteenth of Nisan, the second day of the Passover (Leviticus 23:16),—called in Exodus 23:16, ‘the feast of harvest,’—in Deuteronomy 16:10, ‘the feast of weeks;’—one of the three great feasts, when all the males were required to appear at Jerusalem, Deuteronomy 16:16. No supplying of ἡμέρας, or ἑορτῆς, is required after πεντηκοστῆς: the word had passed into a proper name, see ref. Tobit, where it is in appos. with ἑορτῇ, and ref. 2 Macc.

At this time, it was simply regarded as the feast of harvest: among the later Jews, it was considered as the anniversary of the giving of the law from Sinai. This inference was apparently grounded on a comparison of Exodus 12:2; Exodus 19:1. Josephus and Philo know nothing of it, and it is at the best very uncertain. Chrysostom’s reason for the event happening when it did is probably the true one: ἔδει γὰρ ἑορτῆς οὔσης πάλιν ταῦτα γενέσθαι· ἵνα οἱ παρόντες τῷ σταυρῷ τοῦ χριστοῦ, οὗτοι καὶ ταῦτα ἴδωσιν (in Catena). See a number of other reasons given by Wordsw., more suo. The question, on what day of the week this day of Pentecost was, is beset with the difficulties attending the question of our Lord’s last passover; see notes on Matthew 26:17, and John 18:28. It appears probable however that it was on the Sabbath,—i.e. if we reckon from Saturday, the 16th of Nisan. Wieseler (Chron. des Apostol. Zeitalters, p. 20) supposes that the Western Church altered the celebration of it to the first day of the week in conformity with her observance of Easter on that day. If we take the second day of the Passover as Sunday, the 17th of Nisan, which some have inferred from John 18:28, the day of Pentecost will fall on the first day of the week. The custom of the Karaites was, to keep Pentecost always on the first day of the week, reckoning not from the day after the great Passover-Sabbath, but from that following the Sabbath in Passover week—understanding הַשַּׁבָּת in Leviticus 23:15 of the ordinary Sabbath;—but this cannot be brought to bear on our enquiry, as it probably arose later.

πάντες] Not the Apostles only, nor the hundred and twenty mentioned ch. Acts 1:15; but all the believers in Christ, then congregated at the time of the feast in Jerusalem. The former is manifest from Acts 2:14, when Peter and the eleven stand forward and allude to the rest as οὗτοι: and the latter follows on the former being granted. Both are confirmed by the universality of the promise cited by Peter, Acts 2:17 ff. See Chrys. below, on Acts 2:4.

ὁμοῦ] together: the rec. ὁμοθυμαδόν implies more, viz. that their purpose, as well as their locality, was the same.

ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό] Where? evidently not in the temple, or any part of it. The improbability of such an assemblage, separate and yet so great, in any of the rooms attached to the temple,—the words ὅλον τὸν οἶκον in Acts 2:2 (where see note),—the συνῆλθεν τὸ πλῆθος, Acts 2:6,—the absence of any mention of the temple,—all these are against such a supposition. Obviously no à priori consideration such as Olshausen alleges (in loc.), that “thus the solemn inauguration of the Church of Christ becomes more imposing by happening in the holy place of the Old Covenant,” can apply to the enquiry. Nor can the statement that they were διὰ παντὸς ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ, Luke 24:53, apply here (see above on ch. Acts 1:13); for even if it be assumed that the hour of prayer was come (which it hardly could have been, seeing that some time must have elapsed between the event and Peter’s speech), the disciples would not have been assembled separately, but would, as Peter and John, in ch. Acts 3:1, have gone up, mingled with the people. See more below.

Verses 1-4


Verse 2

2. ἦχ. ὥσπ. φερ. πνοῆς βιαίας] could not be better rendered than in E. V., a sound at of a rushing mighty wind. The distinction between πνοῆς and πνεύματος, on which De Wette insists, can hardly be expressed in our language. It is possible that Luke may have used πνοῆς to avoid the concurrence of πνεύματος βιαίου and πνεύματος ἁγίου. It doubtless has its especial propriety;—it is the breathing or blowing which we hear: it was the sound as of a violent blowing, borne onward, which accompanied the descent of the Holy Spirit. To treat this as a natural phænomenon,—even supposing that phænomenon miraculously produced, as the earthquake at the crucifixion,—is contrary to the text, which does not describe it as ἦχος φερομένης πν. βι., but ἦχος ὥσπερ φ. πν. βι. It was the chosen vehicle by which the Holy Spirit was manifested to their sense of hearing, as by the tongues of fire to their sense of seeing.

φέρεσθαι ad violentum quo venti moventur impetum notandum adhiberi solet. Æl. Hist. An. vii. 24, ἐπειδὰν τὸ πνεῦμα βίαιον ἐκφέρηται: Diog. Laërt. x. 25. 104, διὰ τοῦ πνεύματος πολλοῦ φερομένου.’ Kypke.

οἶκον] Certainly Luke would not have used this word of a chamber in the Temple, or of the Temple itself, without further explanation. Our Lord, it is true, calls the Temple ὁ οἶκος ὑμῶν, Matthew 23:38,—and Josephus informs us that Solomon’s Temple was furnished τριάκοντα βραχέσιν οἴκοις, and again ἐπῳκοδόμηντο δὲ τούτοις ἄνωθεν ἕτεροι οἶκοι: but to suppose either usage here, seems to me very far-fetched and unnatural.

Verse 3

3. ὤφθ. αὐτοῖς]—not, ‘there were seen on them,’ as Luther; but, as E. V., there appeared unto them.

διαμεριζόμεναι] not, ‘distributed,’ as μερισμοῖς in Hebrews 2:4; from the construction, διαμ. must refer to something characteristic, not of the manner of apportionment, but of the appearance itself.

ὡσεὶ πυρός] see reff. They were not πυρός, as not possessing the burning power of fire, but only ὡσεὶ πυρός, in appearance like that element.

ἐκάθισεν] viz. τὸ φαινόμενον: not τὸ πνεῦμα, nor ἡ γλῶσσα, but the appearance described in the preceding clause. I understand ἐκάθ. as usually interpreted, lighted on their heads. This also was no effect of natural cause, either ordinarily or extraordinarily employed: see on Acts 2:2.

Verse 4

4.] On ἅπαντες, Chrys. says, οὐκ ἂν εἶπε πάντες, καὶ ἀποστόλων ὄντων ἐκεῖ, εἰ μὴ καὶ οἱ ἄλλοι μετέσχον.

ἤρξαντο λαλεῖν ἑτέραις γλώσσαις] There can be no question in any unprejudiced mind, that the fact which this narrative sets before us is, that the disciples began to speak in VARIOUS LANGUAGES, viz. the languages of the nations below enumerated, and perhaps others. All attempts to evade this are connected with some forcing of the text, or some far-fetched and indefensible exegesis. This then being laid down, several important questions arise, and we are surrounded by various difficulties. (1) Was this speaking in various languages a gift bestowed on the disciples for their use afterwards, or was it a mere sign, their utterance being only as they were mouth-pieces of the Holy Spirit? The latter seems certainly to have been the case. It appears on our narrative, καθὼς τὸ πνεῦμα ἐδίδου ἀποφθέγγεσθαι αὐτοῖς, as the Spirit gave them utterance. But, it may be objected, in that case they would not themselves understand what they said. I answer, that we infer this very fact from 1 Corinthians 14; that the speaking with tongues was often found, where none could interpret what was said. And besides, it would appear from Peter’s speech, that such, or something approaching to it, was the case in this instance. He makes no allusion to the things said by those who spoke with tongues; the hearers alone speak of their declaring τὰ μεγαλεῖα τοῦ θεοῦ. So that it would seem that here, as on other occasions (1 Corinthians 14:22), tongues were for a sign, not to those that believe, but to those that believe not. If the first supposition be made, that the gift of speaking in various languages was bestowed on the disciples for their after use in preaching the Gospel, we are, I think, running counter to the whole course of Scripture and early patristic evidence on the subject. There is no trace whatever of such a power being possessed or exercised by the Apostles, or by those who followed them. (Compare ch. Acts 14:11; Acts 14:14; Euseb. iii. 39; Iren(13) iii. 1, p. 174.) The passage cited triumphantly by Wordsw. from Iren(14) iii. 17, p. 208, to shew that Irenœus understood the gift to be that of permanent preaching in many languages, entirely fails of its point:—“Quem et descendisse Lucas ait post ascensum Domini super discipulos in Pentecoste, habentem potestatem omnium gentium ad introitum vitæ (which Wordsw. renders “in order that all nations might be enabled to enter into life,” suitably to his purpose, but not to the original) et ad assertionem novi Testamenti: unde et omnibus linguis conspirantes hymnum dicebant Deo, Spiritu ad unitatem redigente distantes tribus, et primitias omnium gentium offerente Patri.” Here it will be observed is not a word about future preaching; but simply this event itself is treated of, as a symbolic one, a first fruit of the future Gentile harvest. The other passage, id. Acts 2:6, p. 299, shews nothing but that the gift of tongues was not extinct in Irenæus’s time: there is in it not a word of preaching in various languages. I believe, therefore, the event related in our text to have been a sudden and powerful inspiration of the Holy Spirit, by which the disciples uttered, not of their own minds, but as mouth-pieces of the Spirit, the praises of God in various languages, hitherto, and possibly at the time itself, unknown to them. (2) How is this ἑτέραις γλώσσαις λαλεῖν related to the γλώσσῃ λαλεῖν afterwards spoken of by St. Paul? I answer, that they are one and the same thing. γλώσσῃ λαλ. is to speak in a language, as above explained; γλώσσαις ( ἑτέραις, or καιναῖς, Mark 16:17) λαλ., to speak in languages, under the same circumstances. See this further proved in notes on 1 Corinthians 14. Meantime I may remark, that the two are inseparably connected by the following links,—ch. Acts 10:46, Acts 11:15 to Acts 19:6,—in which last we have the same juxtaposition of γλώσσαις λαλεῖν and προφητεύειν, as afterwards in 1 Corinthians 14:1-5 ff. (3) Who were those that partook of this gift? I answer, the whole assembly of believers, from Peter’s application of the prophecy, Acts 2:16 ff. It was precisely the case supposed in 1 Corinthians 14:23, ἐὰν οὖν συνέλθῃ ἡ ἐκκλησία ὅλη ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ καὶ πάντες λαλῶσιν γλώσσαις, εἰσέλθωσιν δὲ ἰδιῶται ἢ ἄπιστοι, οὐκ ἐροῦσιν ὅτι μαίνεσθε; These ἰδιῶται and ἄπιστοι were represented by the ἕτεροι of our Acts 2:13, who pronounced them to be drunken. (4) I would not conceal the difficulty which our minds find in conceiving a person supernaturally endowed with the power of speaking, ordinarily and consciously, a language which he has never learned. I believe that difficulty to be insuperable. Such an endowment would not only be contrary to the analogy of God’s dealings, but, as far as I can see into the matter, self-contradictory, and therefore impossible. But there is no such contradiction, and to my mind no such difficulty, in conceiving a man to be moved to utterance of sounds dictated by the Holy Spirit. And the fact is clearly laid down by Paul, that the gift of speaking in tongues, and that of interpreting, were wholly distinct. So that the above difficulty finds no place here, nor even in the case of a person both speaking and interpreting: see 1 Corinthians 14:13.

On the question whether the speaking was necessarily always in a foreign tongue, we have no data to guide us: it would seem that it was; but the conditions would not absolutely exclude rhapsodical and unintelligible utterance. Only there is this objection to it: clearly, languages were spoken on this occasion,—and we have no reason to believe that there were two distinct kinds of the gift. (5) It would be quite beyond the limits of a note to give any adequate history of the exegesis of the passage. A very short summary must suffice. ( α) The idea of a gift of speaking in various languages having been conferred for the dissemination of the Gospel, appears not to have originated until the gift of tongues itself had some time disappeared from the Church. Chrysostom adopts it, and the great majority of the Fathers and expositors. ( β) Gregory Nyss. (see Suicer. Thes., γλῶσσα), Cyprian, and in modern times Erasmus and Schneckenburger, suppose that the miracle consisted in the multitude hearing in various languages that which the believers spoke in their native tongue: μίαν μὲν ἐξηχεῖσθαι φωνήν, πολλὰς δὲ ἀκούεσθαι. This view Greg. Naz(15) mentions, but not as his own, and refutes it (Orat. xli. 15, p. 743), saying, ἐκείνως μὲν γὰρ τῶν ἀκουόντων ἂν εἴη μᾶλλον ἢ τῶν λεγόντων τὸ θαῦμα. This view, besides, would make a distinction between this instance of the gift and those subsequently related, which we have seen does not exist. ( γ) The course of the modern German expositors has been, (1) to explain the facts related, by some assumption inconsistent with the text, as e.g. Olshausen, by a magnetic ‘rapport’ between the speakers and hearers,—whereas the speaking took place first, independently of the hearers;—Eichhorn, Wieseler, and others, by supposing γλώσσῃ λαλεῖν to mean speaking with the tongue only, i.e. inarticulately in ejaculations of praise, which will not suit γλώσσ αις λαλ.;—Bleek, by interpreting γλῶσσα = glossema, and supposing that they spoke in unusual, enthusiastic, or poetical phraseology,—which will not suit γλώσσ λαλ.;—Meyer (and De Wette nearly the same), by supposing that they spoke in an entirely new spiritual language (of which the γλῶσσ αι were merely the individual varieties), as was the case during the Irvingite delusion in this country,—contrary to the plain assertion of Acts 2:6-8, that they spoke, and the hearers heard, in the dialects or tongues of the various peoples specified;—Paulus, Schulthess, Kuinoel, &c. by supposing that the assembly of believers was composed of Jews of various nations, who spoke as moved by the Spirit, but in their own mother tongues,—which is clearly inconsistent with Acts 2:4 and the other passages, ch. 10 and 19, and 1 Corinthians 14, above cited:—(2) to take the whole of this narrative in its literal sense, but cast doubts on its historical accuracy, and on Luke’s proper understanding of what really did take place. This is more or less done by several of the above mentioned, as a means of escape from the inconsistency of their hypotheses with Luke’s narrative. But, to set aside, argumenti gratiâ, higher considerations,—is it at all probable that Luke, who must have conversed with many eye and ear-witnesses of this day’s events, would have been misinformed about them in so vital a point as the very nature of the gift by which the descent of the Spirit was accompanied? There is every mark, as I hope I have shewn abundantly in the prolegomena, of the Acts having been written in the company and with the co-operation of St. Paul: can we suppose that he, who treats so largely of this very gift elsewhere, would have allowed such an inaccuracy to remain uncorrected, if it had existed? On the contrary, I believe this narrative to furnish the key to the right understanding of 1 Corinthians 14 and other such passages, as I there hope more fully to prove.

καθὼς κ. τ. λ.] according as (i.e. ‘in such measure and manner in each case as’) the Spirit granted to them to speak (bestowed on them utterance). There is no emphasis, as Wordsw., on αὐτοῖς, but rather the contrary: placed thus behind the verb, it becomes insignificant in comparison with the fact announced, and with the subject of the sentence.

The word ἀποφθέγγεσθαι has been supposed here to imply that they uttered short ejaculatory sentences of praise: so Chrys., ἀποφθέγματα γὰρ ἦν τὰ παρʼ αὐτῶν λεγόμενα: Œc(16), Bloomf., and Wordsw. But in neither of the two other places in St. Luke (see reff.) will it bear this meaning, nor in any of the six where it occurs in the LXX: though in two of those (Mic. and Zech.) it has the peculiar sense of speaking oracularly. and in Ezekiel 13:19 it represents כָּזַב, mentior. Our word to utter, to speak out, seems exactly to render it. It is never desirable to press a specific sense, where the more general one seems to have become the accepted meaning of a word. And this is especially so here, where, had any peculiar sense been intended, the verb would surely have held a more prominent position. Their utterance was none of their own, but the simple gift and inspiration of the Holy Spirit: see above.

Verse 5

5.] De Wette maintains that these κατοικοῦντες cannot have been persons sojourning for the sake of the feast, but residents: but see above on Acts 2:1. I see no objection, with Meyer, to including both residents and sojourners in the term, which only specifies their then residence.

εὐλαβεῖς] Not in reference to their having come up to the feast, nor to their dwelling from religious motives at Jerusalem ( τὸ κατοικεῖν εὐλαβείας ἦν σημεῖον, ἀπὸ τοσούτων ἐθνῶν πατρίδας ἂφέντας καὶ οἰκίαν καὶ συγγενεῖς, ἐκει οἰκεῖν, Chrys.), but stated as imparting a character and interest to what follows. They were not merely vain and curious listeners, but men of piety and weight.

ἀπὸ παντὸς ἔθν …] Not perhaps used so much hyperbolically, as with reference to the significance of the whole event. As they were samples each of their different people, so collectively they represented all the nations of the world, who should hear afterwards in their own tongues the wonderful works of God.

Verses 5-13


Verse 6

6.] Whatever τῆς φωνῆς ταύτης may mean, one thing is clear,—that it cannot mean, ‘this rumour’ (‘when this was noised abroad,’ E. V.: so also Erasm., Calv., Beza, Grotius, &c.), which would be unexampled (the two passages cited for this sense from the LXX are no examples; Genesis 45:16; Jeremiah 27 :(50) 46). We have then to choose between two things to which φωνή might refer:—(1) the ἦχος or Acts 2:2, to which it seems bound by the past part. γενομένης (compare Acts 2:2, ἐγένετοἦχος), which would hardly be used of a speaking which was still going on when the multitude assembled: compare also John 3:8;—and (2) the speaking with tongues of Acts 2:4. To this reference, besides the objection just stated, there is also another, that the voices of a number of men, especially when diverse as in this case, would not be indicated by φωνή, but by φωναί: compare Luke’s own usage, even when the voices cried out the same thing, Luke 23:23, οἱ δὲ ἐπέκειντο φωναῖς μεγάλαις αἰτούμενοι αὐτόν σταυρωθῆναι, καὶ κατίσχυον αἱ φωναὶ αὐτῶν. And when he uses the sing., he explains it, as in ch. Acts 19:34, φωνὴ ἐγένετο μία ἐκ πάντων. So that we may safely decide for the former reference. The noise of the rushing mighty wind was heard over all the neighbourhood, probably over all Jerusalem.

τὸ πλῆθος] including the scoffers of Acts 2:13, as well as the pious strangers: but these latter only are here regarded in the συνεχύθη and in the ἤκ. εἷς ἕκαστος. On these latter words see above on Acts 2:4. Each one heard λαλούντων αὐτῶν,—i.e. either various disciples speaking various tongues, each in some one only: or the same persons speaking now one now another tongue. The former is more probable, although the latter seems to agree with some expressions in 1 Corinthians 14, e.g. Acts 2:18 (in the rec. and perhaps even in the present text).

συνεχύθη] Observe ref. Genesis.

Verse 7

7.] They were not, literally, all Galilæans; but certainly the greater part were so, and all the Apostles and leading persons, who would probably be the prominent speakers.

Verses 8-11

8–11.] This question is broken, in construction, by the enumeration of Acts 2:9-10, and then Acts 2:11 takes up the construction again from Acts 2:8. As regards the catalogue itself,—of course it cannot have been thus delivered as part of a speech by any hearer on the occasion, but is inserted into a speech expressing the general sense of what was said, and put, according to the usage of all narrative, into the mouths of all. The words τῇ ἰδίᾳ διαλ. ἡμ. ἐν ᾗ ἐγεννήθημεν are very decisive as to the nature of the miracle. The hearers could not have thus spoken, had they been spiritually uplifted into the comprehension of some ecstatic language spoken by the disciples. They were not spiritually acted on at all, but spoke the matter of fact: they were surprised at each recognizing, so far from his country, and in the mouths of Galilæans, his own native tongue.

Verse 9

9.] πάρθοι] The catalogue proceeds from the N.E. to the W. and S. See Mede, Book i. Disc. xx., who notices that it follows the order of the three great dispersions of the Jews, the Chaldean, Assyrian, and Egyptian. So also Wordsw. ‘Habet (Parthia) ab ortu Arios, a meridie Carmaniam et Arianos, ab occasu Protitas Medos, a septentrione Hyrcanos,—undique desertis cincta,’ Plin. vi. 29. See also Strabo, xi. 9, and Winer, Realw.

΄ῆδοι] Media, W. of Parthia and Hyrcania, S. of the Caspian sea, E. of Armenia, N. of Persia.

ἐλαμῖται] in pure Greek ἐλυμαῖοι, inhabitants of Elam or Elymais, a Semitic people (Genesis 10:22). Elam is mentioned in connexion with Babylon, Genesis 14:1; with Media, Isaiah 21:2; Jeremiah 25 :(32 in LXX) 25; with, or as part of, Assyria, Ezekiel 32:24; lsa. Acts 22:6; as a province of Persia, Ezra 4:9; as the province in which Susan was situated, Daniel 8:2 (but then Susiana must be taken in the wide sense, ἐλυμαῖοι προσεχεῖς ἦσαν σουσίοις, Strabo, xi. 13; xvi. 1). According toJosephus, Antt. i. 6. 4, the Elamæans were the progenitors of the Persians. We find scattered hordes under this name far to the north, and even on the Orontes near the Caspian (Strabo, xi. 13; xv. 3; xvi. 1). Pliny’s description, the most applicable to the times of our text, is, ‘Infra Eulæum (Susianen ab Elymaide disterminat amnis Eulæus, paulo supra) Elymais est, in ora juncta Persidi, a flumine Oronti ad Characem ccxl m. pass. Oppida ejus Seleucia et Sosirate, apposita monti Casyro,’ vi. 27.

΄εσοποταμίαν] the well-known district between the Euphrates and Tigris, so called merely as distinguishing its geographical position (Strabo, xvi. 1): it never formed a state. The name does not appear to be older than the Macedonian conquests. The word is used by the LXX, Vulg., and E. V. in Genesis 24:10 to express אֲרַם נַהֲרַיִם, Aram of the two rivers. Similarly the Peschito renders it here, and ch. Acts 7:2. See Winer, Realw.

ἰουδαίαν] I can see no difficulty in Judæa being here mentioned. The catalogue does not proceed by languages, but by territorial division; and Judæa lies immediately S. of its path from Mesopotamia to Cappadocia. It is not ἰουδαῖοι by birth and domicile, but οἱ κατοικοῦντες τὴν ἰουδαίαν who are spoken of: the ἄνδρες εὐλαβεῖς settled in Judæa. And even if born Jews were meant, doubtless they also would find a place among those who heard in their mother-tongue the wonderful works of God.

καππαδοκίαν] At this time (since U.C. 770) a Roman province (see Tacit. Ann. ii. 42), embracing Cappadocia proper and Armenia minor.

πόντον] The former kingdom of Mithridates, lying along the S. coast of the Euxine (whence its name) from the river Halys to Colchis and Armenia, and separated by mountains from Cappadocia on the S. It was at this time divided into petty principalities under Roman protection, but subsequently (Suet. Nero 18) became a province under Nero.

τὴν ἀσίαν] i.e. here Asia propria, or rather the W. division of it, as described by Pliny, Acts 2:27, as bounded on the E. by Phrygia and Lycaonia, on the W. by the Ægean, on the S. by the Egyptian sea, on the N. by Paphlagonia. Winer, Realw., cites from Solinus, 43: ‘Sequitur Asia, sed non eam Asiam loquor quæ in tertio orbis divortio terminos omnes habet, … verum eam quæ a Telmesso Lyciæ incipit. Eam igitur Asiam ab Oriente Lycia includit et Phrygia, ab occid. Ægæa littora, a meridie mare Ægyptium, Paphlagonia a septentrione. Ephesus in ea urbs clarissima est.’ See ch. Acts 16:6, where the same appears to be intended.

Verse 10

10. φρυγίαν] ἡ μεγάλη φρυγία of Strabo, xii. 8: Jos. Antt. xvi. 2. 2. It was at this time part of the Roman province of Asia.

παμφυλίαν] A small district, extending along the coast from Olbia (Strabo, xiv. 4), or Phaselis (Plin. Acts 2:27), to Ptolemais (Strabo, l. c). It was a separate tributary district ( χωρὶς ὅπλων φορολογεῖται, Jos. B. J. ii. 16. 4): we find it classed with Galatia and ruled by the same person, Tac. Hist. ii. 9.

αἴγυπτον] Having enumerated the principal districts of Asia Minor, the catalogue passes (see above on the arrangement, Acts 2:9) to Egypt, a well-known habitation of Jews. Two-fifths of the population of Alexandria consisted of them, see Philo, in Flacc. 8, vol. ii. p. 525, and they had an Ethnarch of their own, Jos. Antt. xiv. 7. 2; xix. 5. 2.

τὰ μ. τ. λιβύης τ. κ. κυρήνην] By this expression is probably meant Pentapolis, where Josephus (Antt. xiv. 7. 2), quoting from Strabo, testifies to the existence of very many Jews,—amounting in Cyrene to a fourth part of the whole population. The Cyrenian Jews were so numerous in Jerusalem, that they had a special synagogue (see ch. Acts 6:9). Several were Christian converts: see ch. Acts 11:20; Acts 13:1.

οἱ ἐπιδημοῦντες ῥωμαῖοι] ‘The Roman Jews dwelling (or then being) in Jerusalem,’ see ref. The comma after ῥωμαῖοι is better retained (against Wordsw.).

ἰουδ. τ. κ. προσήλ.] This refers more naturally to the whole of the past catalogue, than merely to the Roman Jews. The τε καί shews that it does not take up a new designation, but expresses the classes or divisions of those which have gone before. See a similar construction in John 2:15, where τά τε πρόβατα κ. τοὺς βόας is epexegetic of πάντας preceding.

Verse 11

11. κρῆτες κ. ἄραβες] These words would seem as if they should precede the last.

μεγαλεῖα] גְּדֹלוֹת, ref. Ps., see also ref. Luke.

Verse 13

13. ἕτεροι] Probably native Jews, who did not understand the foreign languages. Meyer supposes,—persons previously hostile to Jesus and his disciples, and thus judging as in Luke 7:34 they judged of Himself.

γλεύκους] יַיִן, see ref. Job.

Sweet wine, not necessarily new wine (nor is the “spiritual sense of the passage” any reason why a meaning should be given to the word which it need not bear. That sense in fact remains without the meaning in question): perhaps made of a remarkably sweet small grape, which is understood by the Jewish expositors to be meant by שׂרֵק or שׂרֵקָה, Genesis 49:11; Isaiah 5:2; Jeremiah 2:21,—and still found in Syria and Arabia (Winer, Realw.). Suidas interprets it, τὸ ἀποστάλαγμα τῆς σταφυλῆς πρὶν πατηθῇ.

Verse 14

14. σὺν τοῖς ἕνδεκα] Peter and the eleven come forward from the great body of believers. And he distinguishes (by the οὗτοι in Acts 2:15) not himself from the eleven, but himself and the eleven from the rest. De Wette concludes from this, that the Apostles had not themselves spoken with tongues, as being an inferior gift (1 Corinthians 14:18 ff.); perhaps too rashly, for this view hardly accords with ἅπαντες, which is the subject of the whole of Acts 2:4.

ἄνδρες ἰουδ.] the Jews, properly so called: native dwellers in Jerus.

οἱ κατ. ἱερ. ἅπ., the sojourners (Acts 2:5) from other parts. ἐνωτίσασθε is a word unknown to good Greek, and belonging apparently to the Alexandrine dialect. Stier quotes ‘inaurire’ from Lactantius (R. der Ap. p. 32, not.).

Verses 14-36

14–36.] THE SPEECH OR PETER. “Luke gives us here the first sample of the preaching of the Gospel by the Apostles, with which the foundation of Christian preaching, as well as of the Church itself, appears to be closely connected. We discover already, in this first sermon, all the peculiarities of apostolic preaching. It contains no reflections nor deductions concerning the doctrine of Christ,—no proposition of new and unknown doctrines, but simply and entirely consists of the proclamation of historical facts. The Apostles appear here as the witnesses of that which they had seen: the Resurrection of Jesus forming the central point of their testimony. It is true, that in the after-development of the Church it was impossible to confine preaching to this historical announcement only: it gradually became invested with the additional office of building up believers in knowledge. But nevertheless, the simple testimony to the great works of God, as Peter here delivers it, should never be wanting in preaching to those whose hearts are not yet penetrated by the Word of Truth.” Olshausen, in loc.

The discourse divides itself into two parts: 1. (Acts 2:14-21) ‘This which you hear is not the effect of drunkenness, but is the promised outpouring of the Spirit on all flesh,’—2. (Acts 2:22-36) ‘which Spirit has been shed forth by Jesus, whom you crucified, but whom God hath exalted to be Lord and Christ.’

Verse 15

15.] οὗτοι, see above.

ὥρα τρίτη] the first hour of prayer: before which no pious Jew might eat or drink: “Non licet homini gustare quidquam, antequam oraverit orationem suam.” Berachoth. f. 28. 2; Lightf., Wetst.

But perhaps we need not look further than the ordinary intent of such a defence—the improbability of intoxication at that hour of the morning. See Ecclesiastes 10:16; Isaiah 5:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:7.

Verse 16

16.] This prophecy is from the LXX, with very slight variations. Where the copies differ, it agrees with the Alexandrine. The variations, &c., are noticed below.

τοῦτό ἐστιν, ‘this is,’ i.e. ‘this is the fact, at which those words pointed.’ See a somewhat similar expression, Luke 24:44.

Verse 17

17.] ἐν ταῖς ἐσχ. ἡμ. is an exposition of the μετὰ ταῦτα of the LXX and Hebrew, referring it to the days of the Messiah, as Isaiah 2:2; Micah 4:1, al. See also 2 Timothy 3:1; Hebrews 1:1.

λέγει ὁ θεός does not occur in the verse of Joel, but at the beginning of the whole passage, Acts 2:12, and is supplied by Peter here.

ἐκχεῶ] LXX-(17) (18)3b: καὶ ἐκχ., B(19)1. It is a later form of the future; see Winer, edn. 6, § 15.

ἀπὸ τοῦ πν.] In the Heb. simply “My Spirit,”— אֶת־רוּחִי.

The two clauses, κ. οἱ νεαν. and κ. οἱ πρεσβ., are transposed in the LXX.

Verse 18

18. καί γε] LXX-(20) (21)3a–b: καί, (22) (23)1.

Aft. δούλας om μου (24) (25)1. The Hebrew does not express it either time, but has, as in E. V., ‘the servants and handmaids.’

καὶ προφητεύσουσιν is not in LXX nor Heb.

Verse 19

19.] καὶ δώσω τέρατα ἐν οὐρανῷ Ed-vat.: txt (26) (27) (28).

ἄνω, σημεῖα, and κάτω are not in LXX nor Heb.

αἷμα κ. πῦρ.…] Not, ‘bloodshed and wasting by fire,’ as commonly interpreted:—not devastations, but prodigies, are foretold:—bloody and fiery appearances:—pillars of smoke, Heb.

Verse 20

20.] See Matthew 24:29.

ἡμ. κυρ.] Not the first coming of Christ,—which interpretation would run counter to the whole tenor of the Apostle’s application of the prophecy:—but clearly, His second coming; regarded in prophetic language as following close upon the outpouring of the Spirit, because it is the next great event in the divine arrangements.

The Apostles probably expected this coming very soon (see note on Romans 13:11); but this did not at all affect the accuracy of their expressions respecting it. Their days witnessed the Pentecostal effusion, which was the beginning of the signs of the end: then follows the period, KNOWN TO THE FATHER ONLY, of waiting—the Church for her Lord,—the Lord Himself till all things shall have been put under His feet,—and then the signs shall be renewed, and the day of the Lord shall come. Meantime, and in the midst of these signs, the covenant of the spiritual dispensation is, Acts 2:21—‘Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord, shall be saved.’ The gates of God’s mercy are thrown open in Christ to all people:—no barrier is placed,—no union with any external association or succession required: the promise is to individuals, AS individuals: πᾶς ὃς ἐάν: which individual universality, though here by the nature of the circumstances spoken within the limits of the outward Israel, is afterwards as expressly asserted of Jew and Gentile, Romans 1:17, where see note.

Verse 22

22.] ἄνδρ. ἰσρ. binds all the hearers in one term, and that one reminds them of their covenant relation with God: compare πᾶς οἶκος ἰσραήλ, Acts 2:36.

τὸν ναζωραῖον] Not emphatically used by way of contrast to what follows, as Beza, Wetst., &c.; but only as the ordinary appellation of Jesus by the Jews, see John 18:5; John 18:7; ch. Acts 22:8; Acts 26:9.

ἀπό, not for ὑπό, here or any where else (see Winer, edn. 6, § 47, b): but signifying the source whence, not merely the agency by which, the deed has place. See reff., and especially James 1:13.

ἀποδεδειγμένον] ‘demonstratum,’ more than ‘approved’ (E. V.):—shewn to be that which He claimed to be. ἀποδεδ. must be taken with ἀπὸ τ. θεοῦ: not, as some have divided the words, ἄνδρ. ἀπὸ τ. θεοῦ, ἀποδ. κ. τ. λ.: Galatians 1:1 is no justification of this, for there ἀπό refers to ἀπόστολος,—and certainly Peter would never have barely thus named our Lord ‘a man from God.’ The whole connexion of the passage would besides be broken by this rendering: that connexion being, that the Man Jesus of Nazareth was by God demonstrated, by God wrought in among you, by God’s counsel delivered to death, by God raised up (which raising up is argued on till Acts 2:32, then taken up again), by God (Acts 2:36), finally, made Lord and Christ. This was the process of argument then with the Jews,—proceeding on the identity of a man whom they had seen and known,—and then mounting up from His works and His death and His resurrection, to His glorification,—all THE PURPOSE AND DOING OF GOD. But if His divine origin, or even His divine mission, be stated at the outset, we break this climacterical sequence, and lose the power of the argument. The ἀποδεδειγμένον ( εἶναι) ἀπὸ θεοῦ of Dr. Bloomfield is of course worse still.

οἷς ( ) ἐποίησεν διʼ αὐτ. ὁ θ.] not, as De Wette, a low view of the miracles wrought by Jesus, nor inconsistent with John 2:11; but in strict accordance with the progress of our Lord through humiliation to glory, and with His own words in that very Gospel (John 5:19), which is devoted to the great subject, the manifestation, by the Father, of the glory of the Son. This side of the subject is here especially dwelt on in argument with these Jews, to exhibit (see above) the whole course of Jesus of Nazareth, as the ordinance and doing of THE GOD OF ISRAEL.

Verse 23

23.] βουλή and πρόγνωσις are not the same: the former designates the counsel of God—His Eternal Plan, by which He has arranged (cf. ὡρισμένῃ) all things; the latter, the omniscience, by which every part of this plan is foreseen and unforgotten by Him.

ἔκδοτον] by whom, is not said, but was supplied by the hearers. τῇ ὡρισμ. &c. are not to be joined to ἔκδοτον as agents—the dative is that of accordance and appointment, not of agency:—see Winer, edn. 6, § 31. 6, b, and ch. Acts 15:1; 2 Peter 1:21.

δ. χειρὸς ἀνόμων] viz. of the Roman soldiers, see reff.

προσπήξαντες] The harshness and unworthiness of the deed are strongly set forth by a word expressing the mechanical act merely, having nailed up, as in contrast with the former clause, from ἰησοῦν to ὑμῶν.

Peter lays the charge on the multitude, because they abetted their rulers,—see ch. Acts 3:17, where this is fully expressed: not for the far-fetched reason given by Olshausen, that ‘all mankind were in fact guilty of the death of Jesus:’ in which case, as Meyer well observes (and the note in Olsh.’s last edn. ii. p. 666, does not answer this), Peter must have said ‘we,’ not ‘you.’

Verse 24

24.] There is some difficulty in explaining the expression ὠδῖνας in the connexion in which it is here found. The difficulty lies, not in the connexion of λύειν with ὠδῖνας, which is amply justified, see reff., but in the interpretation of ὠδῖνας here. For ὠδῖνας θαν. must mean the pains of death, i.e. the pains which precede and end in death; a meaning here inapplicable. (The explanation of Chrys., Theophyl., Œc(29), ὁ θάνατος ὤδινε κατέχων αὐτόν, κ. τὰ δεινὰ ἔπασχε, will not be generally maintained at the present day. Stier does maintain it, Reden der Apostel, vol. i. p. 43 ff., but to me not convincingly: and, characteristically, Wordsw. also.) The fact may be, that Peter used the Hebrew word חֶבְלֵי, ref. Psa. ‘nets, or bands,’ i.e. the nets in which death held the Lord captive; and that, in rendering the words into Greek, the LXX rendering of the word in that place and Psalms 114:3, viz. ὠδῖνες, has been adopted. (But see Prolegg. to Vol. I. ch. ii. § ii. pp. 28, 29.) It has been attempted in vain by Olshausen and others to shew that ὠδῖνες sometimes in Hellenistic Greek signifies bands. No one instance cited by Schleusner (Lex. V. T.) of that meaning is to the point. See Simonis Lex., חבל.

οὐκ ἦν δυν. depends for its proof on the γάρ which follows.

Verse 25

25.] εἰς αὐτόν, not ‘of Him,’ but in allusion to Him. The 16th Psalm was not by the Rabbis applied to the Messiah: but Peter here proves to them that, if it is to be true in its highest and proper meaning of any one, it must be of Him. We are met at every turn by the shallow objections of the Rationalists, who seem incapable of comprehending the principle on which the sayings of David respecting himself are referred to Christ. To say, with De Wette, that Peter’s proof lies not in any historical but only in an ideal meaning of the Psalm, is entirely beside the subject. To interpret the sayings of David (or indeed those of any one else) ‘historically,’ i.e. solely as referring to the occasion which gave rise to them, and having no wider reference, would be to establish a canon of interpretation wholly counter to the common sense of mankind. Every one, placed in any given position, when speaking of himself as in that position, speaks what will refer to others similarly situated, and most pointedly to any one who shall in any especial and pre-eminent way stand in that position. Applying even this common rule to David’s sayings, the applicability of them to Christ will be legitimized:—but how much more, when we take into account the whole circumstances of David’s theocratic position, as the prophetic representative and type of Christ! Whether the Messiah was present or not to the mind of the Psalmist, is of very little import: in some cases He plainly was: in others, as here, David’s words, spoken of himself and his circumstances, could only be in their highest and literal sense true of the great Son of David who was to come. David often spoke concerning himself; but THE SPIRIT WHO SPOKE IN DAVID, εἰς τὸν χριστόν. The citation is verbatim from the LXX (except in the order of μου ἡ καρ.: see var. readd.): the Vatican, Sinaitic, and Alexandrine copies agree throughout, except in ᾅδην (30) (31) ( τον αδ. (32)) and ᾅδου (A), and εὐφροσύνης ((33) (34)) and - νην (A), between which our MSS. also vary.

ἵνα μὴ σαλευθῶ] Heb. ‘I shall not be moved.’

Verse 26

26. ἡ γλῶσσά μου] Heb. כְּבוֹדִי, ‘my glory:’ so in Psalms 108:1, where our prayer-book version renders “I will give praise with the best member that I have.” Cf. also Psalms 57:8.

Verse 27

27. διαφθοράν] Heb. שַׁחַת, ‘corruption,’ from שָׁחַת, corrupit,—or ‘the pit,’ from שׁוּחַ, subsidere. De Wette maintains the last to be the only right rendering: but the Lexicons give both, as above, and Meyer and Stier defend the other.

Verse 28

28.] ἐγνώρισας κ. τ. λ.: Heb. ‘Thou wilt make known.’

πληρώσεις κ. τ. λ.: Heb. ‘Fulness of joys (is) with thy presence.’

These two last clauses refer to the Resurrection and the Ascension respectively.

Verse 29

29. ἄνδρες ἀδελφοί] q. d., ‘I am your brother, an Israelite, and therefore would not speak with disrespect of David.’ He prepares the way for the apologetic sentence which follows.

ἐξόν] supply, not ἔστω, but ἐστίν, I may, &c.

The title ‘Patriarch’ is only here applied to David, as the progenitor of the kingly race:—Abraham and the sons of Jacob are so called in the N. T. reff. In the LXX, the word is used of chief men, and heads of families, with the exception of 2 Chronicles 23:20, where it represents “captains of hundreds.”

ὅτι] not, because; but that,—contains the subject of εἰπεῖν, and is that for which the apology is made.

We learn from 1 Kings 2:10, and Nehemiah 3:16, that David was buried at Jerusalem, in the city of David, i.e. the stronghold of Zion, 2 Samuel 5:7.

Josephus, Antt. vii. 15. 3, gives an account of the high priest Hyrcanus, when besieged by Antiochus Eusebes,—and afterwards King Herod, opening the tomb and taking treasure from it. See also xiii. 8. 4; xvi. 7. 1; B. J. i. 2. 5. Dio Cassius (lxix. 14) mentions, among the prodigies which preceded Hadrian’s war, that the tomb of Solomon (the same with that of David, see Jos. Antt. xvi. 7. 1) fell down. Jerome mentions (Epist. xlvi. (xvii.) ad Marcellam, vol. i. p. 209) that the tomb of David was visited in his time (the end of the fourth century).

Verse 30

30.] προφήτης, in the stricter sense, a foreteller of future events by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

εἰδώς] See 2 Samuel 7:12. The words are not cited from the LXX, but rendered from the Hebrew. On the principle of interpretation of this prophecy, see above on Acts 2:25.

Verse 31

31.] The word προϊδών distinctly asserts the prophetic consciousness of David in the composition of this Psalm. But of what sort that prophetic consciousness was, may be gathered from this same Apostle, 1 Peter 1:10-12; that it was not a distinct knowledge of the events which they foretold, but only a conscious reference in their minds to the great promises of the covenant, in the expression of which they were guided by the Holy Spirit of prophecy to say things pregnant with meaning not patent to themselves but to us.

Verse 32

32.] From Acts 2:25 has been employed in substantiating the Resurrection as the act of God announced by prophecy in old time: now the historical fact of its accomplishment is affirmed, and the vouchers for it produced.

οὗ] either masc., see ch. Acts 1:8; Acts 13:31,—or neut. The former seems most probable as including the latter. ‘We are His witnesses,’ would imply, ‘We testify to this His work,’ which work implied the Resurrection.

πάντες, first and most properly the Twelve: but, secondarily, the whole body of believers, all of whom, at this time, had probably seen the Lord since His Resurrection; see 1 Corinthians 15:6.

Verse 33

33.] Peter now comes to the Ascension—the exaltation of Jesus to be, in the fullest sense, Lord and Christ.

τῇ δεξιᾷ] by the right hand, not ‘to the right hand.’ The great end of this speech is to shew forth (see above) the GOD OF ISRAEL as the doer of all these things. However well the sense ‘to’ might seem to agree with the ἐκ δεξιῶν of Acts 2:34, we must not set aside a very suitable sense, nor violate syntax (for the construction is entirely unexampled in Hellenistic as well as prose classical Greek) in order to suit an apparent adaptation. The reference is carried on by the word δεξιά, though it be not in exactly the same position in the two cases. And the ἀνέβη εἰς τοὺς οὐρ. of Acts 2:34 prepares the way for the ἐκ δεξιῶν following without any harshness.

On the poetic dative after verbs of approach, see Musgr., Phœnissæ, 310 (303, Matth.), and Hermann, Antig. 234. See also ch. Acts 5:31, and Winer (who defends the construction), edn. 6, § 31. 5. Wordsw. denies that the δεξιὰ θεοῦ is ever specified in the N. T. as the instrument by which He works. But he has omitted to state that this and the similarly ambiguous place, ch. Acts 5:31, are the only real instances of the expression being used, all the rest being local, ἐκ δεξιῶν or ἐν δεξιᾷ: so that his dictum goes for nothing. And in the LXX the use of God’s right hand as the instrument is very frequent: cf. Exodus 15:6; Exodus 15:12; Ps. 17:36; 59:5 (where the dat. is used as here), and about 20 other places; Isaiah 48:13; Isaiah 63:12, &c. After this, the objection, when applied to a speech so full of O. T. spirit and diction as this, would, even if valid as regards the N. T., be irrelevant.

ἐπαγγελίαν] Christ is said to have received from the Father the promise above cited from Joel, which is spoken of His days. This, and not of course the declarations made by Himself to the same effect, is here referred to, though doubtless those were in Peter’s mind. The very word, ἐξέχεεν, refers to ἐκχεῶ above, Acts 2:17.

τοῦτο, ‘this influence,’ this merely; leaving to his hearers the inference, that this, which they saw and heard, must be none other than the effusion of the Spirit.

βλέπετε need not imply, as Dr. Burton thinks, that “there was some visible appearance, which the people saw as well as the apostles:”—very much of the effect of the descent of the Spirit would be visible,—the enthusiasm and gestures of the speakers, for instance; not, however, the tongues of flame,—for then none could have spoken as in Acts 2:13.

Verse 34

34.] This exaltation of Christ is also proved from prophecy—and from the same passage with which Jesus Himself had silenced His enemies. See notes, Matthew 22:41 ff.

δέ is not ‘for,’ which would destroy the whole force of the sentence: the Apostle says, For David himself is not ascended into the heavens,—as he would be if the former prophecy applied to him: BUT he himself says, removing all doubt on the subject, &c. The rendering δέ, for, makes it appear as if the ἀνέβη εἰς τ. οὐρ. were a mistaken inference from Psalms 110:1, whereas that passage is adduced to preclude its being made from the other.

Verse 36


πᾶς οἶκος ἰσρ. = πᾶς ὁ οἶκ. ἰσρ., οἶκος being a familiar noun used anarthrously: see Ephesians 2:21, note, and Winer, edn. 6, § 19, who however does not give οἶκος in his list: the whole house of Israel—for all hitherto said has gone upon proofs and sayings belonging to Israel, and to all Israel.

ὁ θεὸς ἐποίησεν, as before, is the ground-tone of the discourse.

κύριον, from Acts 2:34.

χριστόν, in the full and glorious sense in which that term was prophetically known. The same is expressed ch. Acts 5:31 by ἀρχηγὸν κ. σωτῆρα ὕψωσεν.

The final clause sets in the strongest and plainest light the fact to which the discourse testifies—ending with ὃν ὑμεῖς ἐσταυρώσατε,—the remembrance most likely to carry compunction to their hearts. ‘In clausula orationis iterum illis exprobrat quod Eum crucifixerint, ut majori conscientiæ dolore tacti ad remedium aspirent.’ Calvin in loc. ‘Aculeus in fine.’ Bengel.

Verse 37

37. κατενύγ.] κατανύσσω is exactly ‘compungo.’ The compunction arose from the thought that they had rejected and crucified Him who was now so powerful, and under whose feet they, as enemies, would be crushed.

‘Concionis fructum Lucas refert, ut sciamus non modo in linguarum varietate exsertam fuisse Spiritus Sancti virtutem, sed in eorum etiam cordibus qui audiebant.’ Calvin.

ποιήσωμεν, the deliberative subjunctive,—cf. Winer, edn. 6, § 41, a. 4, b.What most we do?

Verses 37-41


Verse 38

38.] μετανοήσατε, not, as in Matthew 3:2; Matthew 4:17, μετανοεῖτε. The aorist denotes speed, a definite, sudden act: the present, a habit, more gradual, as that first moral and legal change would necessarily be. The word imports change of mind; here, change from thinking Jesus an impostor, and scorning Him as one crucified, to being baptized in His name, and looking to Him for remission of sins, and the gift of the Spirit.

The miserable absurdity of rendering μεταν., or ‘pœnitentiam agite,’ by ‘do penance,’ or understanding it as referring to a course of external rites, is well exposed by this passage—in which the internal change of heart and purpose is insisted on, to be testified by admission into the number of Christ’s followers. See Calvin’s note.

βαπτισθήτω] Here, on the day of Pentecost, we have the first mention and administration of CHRISTIAN BAPTISM. Before, there had been the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, by John, Luke 3:3; but now we have the important addition ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόμ. ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ,—on the Name—i.e. on the confession of that which the Name implies, and into the benefits and blessings which the Name implies. The Apostles and first believers were not thus baptized, because, ch. Acts 1:5, they had received the BAPTISM BY THE HOLY GHOST, the thing signified, which superseded that by water, the outward and visible sign.

The result of the baptism to which he here exhorts them, preceded by repentance and accompanied by faith in the forgiveness of sins in Christ, would be, the receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Verse 39

39.] τοῖς τέκνοις ὑμ., viz. as included in the prophecy cited Acts 2:17, your little ones: not, as in ch. Acts 13:32, ‘your descendants,’ which would be understood by any Jew to be necessarily implied. [Thus we have a providential recognition of Infant Baptism at the very founding of the Christian Church.]

πᾶσιν τοῖς εἰς μακράν, the Gentiles; see Ephesians 2:13. There is no difficulty whatever in this interpretation. The Apostles always expected the conversion of the Gentiles, as did every pious Jew who believed in the Scriptures. It was their conversion as Gentiles, which was yet to be revealed to Peter. It is surprising to see such Commentators as Dr. Burton and Meyer finding a difficulty where all is so plain. The very expression, ὅσους ἂν προσκαλέσηται ὁ θεὸς ἡμ., shews in what sense Peter understood τοῖς εἰς μακρ.; not all, but as many as the Lord our God προσ καλ., shall summon to approach to Him,—bring near,—which, in his present understanding of the words, must import—by becoming one of the chosen people, and conforming to their legal observances.

Verse 40

40.] The words cited appear to be the concluding and inclusive summary of Peter’s many exhortations, not only their general sense: just as if Acts 2:36 had been given as the representative of his whole speech above.

σώθητε is improperly rendered in E. V. ‘save yourselves:’ it is not (see Stier, R. A. i. 62) σώζετε ἑαυτούς, as in Luke 23:35; Luke 23:37; Luke 23:39; be saved, Lasset euch retten, is the true sense.

σκολιᾶς—see reff. Peter alludes to ref. Deut.

Verse 41

41.] This first baptism of regeneration is important on many accounts in the history of the Christian Church. It presents us with two remarkable features: (1) It was conferred, on the profession of repentance, and faith in Jesus as the Christ. There was no instruction in doctrine as yet. The infancy of the Church in this respect corresponded to the infancy of the individual mind; the simplicity of faith came first,—the ripeness of knowledge followed. Neander well observes (Leit. u. Pflanz. p. 34) that among such a multitude, admitted by a confession which allowed of so wide an interpretation, were probably many persons who brought into the church the seeds of that Judaizing form of Christianity which afterwards proved so hostile to the true faith; while others, more deeply touched by the Holy Spirit, followed humbly the unfolding of that teaching by which He perfected the apostolic age in the doctrine of Christ. (2) Almost without doubt, this first baptism must have been administered, as that of the first Gentile converts was (see ch. Acts 10:47, and note), by effusion or sprinkling, not by immersion. The immersion of 3000 persons, in a city so sparingly furnished with water as Jerusalem, is equally inconceivable with a procession beyond the walls to the Kedron, or to Siloam, for that purpose.

Verse 42

42.] τῇ διδαχῇ τῶν ἀποστ., compare Matthew 28:20.

τῇ κοινωνίᾳ] community: the living together as one family, and having things in common. It is no objection to this meaning, that the fact is repeated below, in Acts 2:45; for so is the κλάσις τοῦ ἄρτου in Acts 2:46, and the προσκ. ταῖς προσευχ.

The Vulg. interpretation of τῇ κοινωνίᾳ ( καὶ) τῇ κλάσει τ. ἄρτ. by ‘communicatione fractionis panis,’ per Hendiadyn, is curious enough. If suggested by 1 Corinthians 10:16, it should have been ‘communicatione et fractione panis.’ The adoption of the right reading renders this interpretation untenable. The supplying τῶν ἀποστ. after κοινωνίᾳ, as in E. V., is better than the last, but still I conceive bears no meaning defensible in construction. Very different is the κοινωνία τ. ἁγ. πνεύματος of 2 Corinthians 13:13, because there the Holy Ghost is imparted, is that of which all partake, are κοινωνοί: whereas the κοιν. τῶν ἀποστ. must signify fellowship with the Apostles, or fellowship with that Society of which the Apostles were the chief; neither of which meanings I conceive κοιν. will bear.

The special sense in which κοινωνία occurs, Romans 15:26, could not be here meant, or the word would have been qualified in some way, τῇ κοιν. ( τῇ) εἰς τοὺς πτωχούς, or the like.

τῇ κλάσει τ. ἄρτου] This has been very variously explained. Chrysostom (in Act. Homil. vii. p. 57) says, τὸν ἄρτον μοι δοκεῖ λέγων, καὶ τὴν νηστείαν ἐνταῦθα σημαίνειν, καὶ τὸν σκληρὸν βίον· τροφῆς γάρ, οὐ τρυφῆς μετελάμβανον. And similarly Œcumenius, and of the moderns Bengel: ‘fractione panis, id est, victu frugali, communi inter ipsos.’ But on Acts 2:46 he recognizes a covert allusion to the Eucharist.

The interpretation of ἡ κλ. τ. ἄρτ. [here] as the celebration of the Lord’s Supper has been, both in ancient and modern times, the prevalent one. Chrysostom himself, in his 27th Hom. on 1 Cor., p. 422, interprets it, or at all events τῇ κοινωνίᾳ and it together, of the Holy Communion. And the Romanist interpreters have gone so far as to ground an argument on the passage for the administration in one kind only. But,—referring for a fuller discussion of the whole matter to the notes on 1 Corinthians 10:11,—barely to render ἡ κλάσις τοῦ ἄρτου the breaking of bread in the Eucharist, as now understood, would be to violate historical truth. The Holy Communion was at first, and for some time, till abuses put an end to the practice, inseparably connected with the ἀγάπαι, or love-feasts, of the Christians, and unknown as a separate ordinance. To these ἀγάπαι, accompanied as they were at this time by the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, the κλάσις τοῦ ἄρτου refers,—from the custom of the master of the feast breaking bread in asking a blessing; see ch. Acts 27:35, where the Eucharist is out of the question.

No stress must be laid, for any doctrinal purpose, upon the article before ἄρτου: the construction here requires it, and below, Acts 2:46, where not required by the construction, it is omitted.

I need hardly add that the sense inferred by Kypke and Heinrichs from Isaiah 58:7, διάθρυπτε πεινῶντι τὸν ἄρτον σου,—that of giving bread to the poor, is in the highest degree improbable here, and inconsistent with the Christian use of ἡ κλάσις τοῦ ἄρτου elsewhere.

ταῖς προσευχ.] The appointed times of prayer: see Acts 2:46. But it need not altogether exclude prayer among themselves as well, provided we do not assume any set times or forms of Christian worship, which certainly did not exist as yet. See notes on Romans 14:5; Galatians 4:10.

Verses 42-47

42–47.] DESCRIPTION OF THE LIFE AND HABITS OF THE FIRST BELIEVERS. This description anticipates; embracing a period extending beyond the next chapter. This is plain from Acts 2:43; for the miracle related in the next chapter was evidently the first which attracted any public attention: Acts 2:44-45, again, are taken up anew at the end of chap. 4, where we have a very similar description, evidently applying to the same period.

Verse 43

43.] πάσῃ ψυχῇ, designating generally the multitude,—those who were not joined to the infant church. This is evident by the πάντες δὲ οἱ πιστεύοντες when the church is again the subject, Acts 2:44.

φόβος, dread, reverential astonishment, at the effect produced by the outpouring of the Spirit. On the [anticipatory character or the] latter part of the verse see general remarks at the beginning of this section.

Verse 44

44.] If it surprise us that so large a number should be continually assembled together (for such is certainly the sense, not ‘fraterno amore conjunctos,’ as Calvin)—we must remember that a large portion of the three thousand were persons who had come up to Jerusalem for the feast, and would by this time have returned to their homes.

εἶχον ἅπαντα κοινά] they had all things (in) common, i.e. no individual property, but one common stock: see ch. Acts 4:32. That this was literally the case with the infant church at Jerusalem, is too plainly asserted in these passages to admit of a doubt. Some have supposed the expressions to indicate merely a partial community of goods: ‘non omnia vendiderunt, sed partem bonorum, quæ sine magno incommodo carere poterant,’ Wetstein; contrary to the express assertion of ch. Acts 4:32. In order, however, rightly to understand this community, we may remark: (1) It is only found in the Church at Jerusalem. No trace of its existence is discoverable any where else: on the contrary, St. Paul speaks [constantly] of the rich and the poor, see 1 Timothy 6:17; 1 Corinthians 16:2 [Galatians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 8:13-15; 2 Corinthians 9:6-7]: also St. James, James 2:1-5; James 4:13. And from the practice having at first prevailed at Jerusalem, we may [partly] perhaps explain the great and constant poverty of that church, Romans 15:25-26; 1 Corinthians 16:1-3; 2 Corinthians 8:9; also ch. Acts 11:30; Acts 24:17.

The non-establishment of this community elsewhere may have arisen from the inconveniences which were found to attend it in Jerusalem: see ch. Acts 6:1. (2) This community of goods was not, even in Jerusalem, enforced by rule, as is evident from ch. Acts 5:4 [Acts 12:12], but, originating in free-will, became perhaps an understood custom, still however in the power of any individual not to comply with. (3) It was not (as Grotius and Heinrichs thought) borrowed from the Essenes (see Jos. B. J. ii. 8. 3), with whom the Apostles, who certainly must have sanctioned this community, do not appear historically to have had any connexion. But (4) it is much more probabl that it arose from a continuation, and application to the now increased number of disciples, of the community in which our Lord and His Apostles had lived (see John 12:6; John 13:29) before. (The substance of this note is derived from Meyer, in loc.)

The practice probably did not long continue even at Jerusalem: see Romans 15:26, note.

Verse 45

45.] κτήματα, [probably] landed property, ch. Acts 5:1—see reff.: ὑπάρξεις, any other possession; moveables, as distinguished from land.

αὐτά, their price; see a similar construction Matthew 26:9; and Winer, edn. 6, § 22. 3. 4.

καθότι ἂν] The ἄν with imperf. indic. in this connexion implies ‘accidisse aliquid non certo quodam tempore, sed quotiescunque occasio ita ferret,’ Herm. ad Viger., p. 818. See ch. Acts 4:35; Mark 6:56; Mark 11:24; Soph. Philoct. 290 ff.; Aristoph. Lys. 510 ff.

Verse 46

46.] καθʼ ἡμ ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ—see Luke 24:53. The words need not mean, though they may mean, that they were assembled in Solomon’s porch, as in ch. Acts 5:12—but most probably, that they regularly kept the hours of prayer, ch. Acts 3:1.

κατʼ οἶκον] domi, ‘privatim’ (Beng.), as contrasted with ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ. So also Wolf, Scal., Heinr., Olsh., Meyer, De Wette:—not, domatim, ‘from house to house,’ as Erasm., Salmasius, Kuinoel, al.:—the words may bear that meaning (see Luke 8:1), but we have no trace of such a practice, of holding the ἀγάπαι successively at different houses.

The κλάσις τ. ἄρτου took place at their house of meeting, wherever that was: cf. ch. Acts 12:12; and see Acts 2:42 note.

μετ. τροφ.] they partake of food:—see reff.;—viz. in these agapæ or breakings of bread.

ἀφελότητι] In good Greek, ἀφέλεια: the adj. ἀφελής (see Palm and Rost) originally implying “free from stones or rocks” ( , φελλεύς, stony or rocky land), and thus simple, even, pure.

Verse 47

47.] αἰνοῦντες τ. θ. does not seem only to refer to giving thanks at their partaking of food, but to their general manner of conversation, including the recurrence of special ejaculations and songs of praise by the influence of the Spirit.

τοὺς σωζομένους] those who were in the way of salvation: compare σώθητε, Acts 2:40; those who were being saved. Nothing is implied by this word, to answer one way or the other the question, whether all these were finally saved. It is only asserted, that they were in the way of salvation when they were added to the Christian assembly. Doubtless, some of them might have been of the class alluded to Hebrews 10:26-29; at least there is nothing in this word to preclude it.

Correct criticism, as well as external evidence, requires that the words ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ or τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ should be rejected, as having been an explanatory gloss, (‘est hæc Chrysostomi, ut videtur, glossa, per Syrum et alios propagata;’ Bengel,) and ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό brought back to its place and the meaning which it bears in this passage (see Acts 2:44), viz. together, in the sense of making up one sum, one body assembled in one place. Meyer attributes the separation of ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό from πέτρος to an ecclesiastical portion having begun ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ταύταις π. κ. ἰω. as D. De Wette asks, why should those words have been inserted at the beginning of a portion? Perhaps in accordance with a not uncommon practice of opening an ecclesiastical lection with such a phrase. Or possibly, I might suggest, as a mistaken interpretation of ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό, which was not understood. Then when ἐπ. τ. αὐ. became joined to πέτρος, τῇ ἐκκλ. would naturally be supplied after προσετίθει.


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Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Acts 2:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

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