corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.19.06.26
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
Acts 2

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

Acts 2:1. When the day of pentecost was fully come — Of this feast, which had its name from πεντηκοστη, pentecostee, (which signifies the fiftieth day,) because it was celebrated fifty days after the passover, see notes on Leviticus 23:15-16. As our Lord was crucified at one of the great Jewish feasts, it was fit that he should be glorified at another. And this of pentecost was chosen with peculiar propriety, as next succeeding that of the passover, at which he suffered; and also as it was celebrated in commemoration of the giving of the law from mount Sinai, and as the first- fruits were then offered and anointed, Exodus 19:1; Exodus 19:11; Leviticus 23:17. To these answered the fuller discovery of the gospel on this occasion, and the anointing of the first-fruits of the Christian Church by the effusion of the Spirit. At the pentecost of Sinai, in the Old Testament, and the pentecost of Jerusalem, in the New, were the two grand manifestations of God, the legal and the evangelical; the one from the mountain, and the other from heaven; the terrible, and the merciful one. And as the Jewish Church was constituted at the former of these periods, it was fit that the incorporation of the Christian Church should be dated from the latter. As further reasons why it was peculiarly proper that this time should be chosen for effecting this wonderful miracle, it may be observed, 1st, That as great multitudes of people were wont to assemble at Jerusalem at all the Jewish feasts, so it is probable that the peculiar solemnity of this feast, the general expectation of the Messiah that now prevailed among them, and the length of the days, as it was about the middle of summer, would bring greater numbers thither on this occasion than usually attended at the festivals. This would make the miracle the more public, and cause the fame of it to be spread the sooner and farther, which would contribute much to the propagation of the gospel among all nations, and make way for greater regard to the apostles, when they came to the countries where the people lived who had been spectators of this great event, and upon returning home, reported it to their friends and neighbours. 2d, As this feast of pentecost happened on the first day of the week, by the effusion of the Holy Spirit on this day, added to the resurrection of Christ taking place on it, still greater honour was put on the day, and it was more manifestly confirmed to be the Christian sabbath, the day which the Lord had appointed to be a standing memorial in his church of those two wonderful events. This not only justifies us in observing that day, under the title of the Lord’s day, but directs us, in observing it, to give God praise, particularly for those two great blessings. They were all with one accord in one place — In what place we are not told, whether in the temple, where they attended at public times, (Luke 24:53,) or whether in their own upper room, where they met at other times; but it was at Jerusalem, because it had been the place which God had chosen to put his name there, and the prophets had foretold that from thence the word of the Lord should go forth to all nations; (Isaiah 2:3; Micah 4:2;) and it was now the place of the general rendezvous of all devout people, where God had promised to meet and bless them; and here, therefore, he meets them with this blessing of blessings. It is probable that the ALL here mentioned, included the whole one hundred and twenty who were together when Matthias was chosen. The word ομοθυμαδον, rendered with one accord, implies that they were united in their views, intentions, and affections, and that there was no discord or strife among them, as there sometimes had been while their Master was with them. Doubtless, they were also united in their desire and expectation of the baptism of the Holy Ghost, the power from on high, which Christ had promised them; and in praying earnestly and importunately for it whenever they met together, which it appears they were in the habit of doing daily.


Verse 2-3

Acts 2:2-3. And suddenly — That is, unexpectedly and in a moment, not gradually, as winds generally rise; there came a sound from heaven — Not, as some have supposed, like a clap of thunder; but as of a rushing mighty wind — A wind strong and violent, coming not only with a loud noise, but with great force, as if it would bear down all before it; this was to signify the powerful influences and operations of the Spirit of God upon the minds of men; and it filled all the house where they were sitting — As their doctrine was afterward to fill the whole earth. “When Moses had finished all things respecting the tabernacle, a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle, Exodus 40:34-35; and when Solomon had finished building the temple, the cloud, &c., filled the house of the Lord, 1 Kings 8:10-11. In like manner, when Isaiah saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, it is said, his train filled the temple, Isaiah 6:1. But now the divine presence had left the temple, and the glory of the Lord rested upon mount Zion, the gospel church, and filled the house where the apostles were assembled.” And there appeared unto them cloven — Or, as some render διαμεριζομεναι, distinct, tongues of fire — That is, small flames, which is all that the phrase, tongues of fire, means in the language of the Seventy. Probably, however, those small flames were cloven, or divided, either in that part of them which was next the heads of those on whom they rested, as Dr. Hammond supposes; or, as most commentators think, and as seems much more probable, at the tip of them. They were “bright flames,” says Dr. Doddridge, “in a pyramidical form, which were so parted as to terminate in several points, and thereby to afford a proper emblem of the marvellous effects attending the appearance, by which they were endowed with a miraculous diversity of languages.” And it sat ( εκαθισε, not they sat,) upon each of them — That is, the fire, or one of these tongues, or flames, sat upon each: for it appears there were as many flames as there were persons, and they sat upon them for some time, to show the constant residence of the Holy Ghost with them. The extraordinary gifts of the Spirit were conferred sparingly of old, and but at some times; but the disciples of Christ had these gifts always with them; though the sign, we may suppose, presently disappeared. By these appearances resembling flaming fire, was probably signified, also, God’s touching their tongues, as it were (together with their hearts) with divine fire; his enabling them to speak with irresistible force and energy; his giving them such words as were active and penetrating, even as flaming fire.


Verse 4

Acts 2:4. They were all filled with the Holy Ghost — That is, all the one hundred and twenty, as appears from Acts 2:1. At the time of this wonderful appearance, this whole company were abundantly replenished with both the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, not only in order to their own salvation, but also and especially to qualify them to be Christ’s witnesses to mankind, both Jews and Gentiles, according to his promise, Acts 1:1; Acts 1:8. They were filled with the graces of the Spirit, and were more than ever under its sanctifying influences; were now holy, and heavenly, and spiritual; more weaned from this world, and better acquainted with the other. They were more filled with the comforts of the Spirit, rejoiced more than ever in the love of Christ, and the hope of heaven, and in it all their griefs and fears were swallowed up. They were also, 2d, In proof of this, filled with the gifts of the Holy Ghost, which is especially meant here: they were endued with miraculous powers for the furtherance of the gospel. It seems evident that not the twelve apostles only, but all the one hundred and twenty disciples were endowed with the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost at this time; all the seventy disciples, who were apostolical men, and employed in the same work, and all the rest that were to preach the gospel; for it is said expressly, (Ephesians 4:8; Ephesians 4:11,) that when Christ ascended on high, (which refers to this here, Acts 2:33,) he gave gifts unto men, not only some apostles, such were the twelve; but some prophets, and some evangelists, many of the seventy disciples, itinerant preachers; and some pastors and teachers, settled in particular churches, as we may suppose some of these afterward were. And began to speak with other tongues — To speak languages of which they had before been entirely ignorant. For this miracle was not in the ears of the hearers, as some have unaccountably supposed, but in the mouths of the speakers. The meaning is not, that one was enabled to speak one language, and another another, as it was with the several families that were dispersed from Babel; but every one was enabled to speak divers languages as he should have occasion to use them. And we may suppose that they not only understood what they themselves said, but understood one another too, which the builders at Babel did not, Genesis 11:7. They did not speak now and then a word of another tongue, or stammer out some broken sentences, but spoke each language which they spoke as readily, properly, and elegantly, as if it had been their mother tongue: for whatever was produced by miracle was the best of the kind. They spake not from any previous thought, but as the Spirit gave them utterance — He furnished them with the matter, as well as the language. And this family, praising God together with the tongues of all the world, was an earnest that the whole world should, in due time, praise God in their various tongues. Now observe here, reader, 1st, This was a very great and stupendous miracle, a miracle upon men’s minds: for in the mind ideas are conceived, and words are framed: a miracle, with regard to every individual, and every language, thus communicated to that individual, equal to that of giving speech to persons born deaf and dumb, concerning which, see the note on Matthew 15:30. These disciples had not only never learned any of these languages, but had never learned any foreign tongue, which if they had done, the acquisition of these might have been thereby facilitated. Nay, for aught that appears to the contrary, most of them had never so much as heard any of these languages spoken, or had any idea of them. 2d, It was a peculiarly proper, needful, and useful miracle. The language these disciples spoke was Syriac, or rather Chaldaio-Syriac, a dialect of the Hebrew; so that their being endued with this gift was necessary, even for their understanding both the Hebrew, in which the Old Testament was originally written, and the Greek, in which the New Testament was to be written. But that was not all: they were commissioned to preach the gospel to every creature, to disciple all nations. But here an insuperable difficulty meets them at the very threshold: how shall they be made acquainted with the several languages of the nations to which they are sent, so as to speak intelligibly to them all. It would be the work of the life of any of them to learn their languages. Hence, to prove that Christ would give authority to preach to the nations, he gives ability to his servants to preach to them in their own languages. And it should seem that this was, at least in part, the accomplishment of the promise which Christ made to his disciples, John 14:12. Greater works than these shall ye do, because I go unto the Father; for this gift of tongues may well be reckoned, all things considered, a greater work than any of the miraculous cures which Christ wrought. It is observed by Dr. Lightfoot, that as the division of tongues at Babel once introduced confusion, and was the means of casting off the Gentiles from the knowledge of the true God; so now, there was a remedy provided by the gift of tongues at Zion, to bring the Gentiles out of darkness into light, and to destroy the veil which had been spread over all nations. And Archbishop Tillotson thought it probable, if the conversion of infidels to Christianity were sincerely and vigorously attempted by men of honest and disinterested minds, God would, in an extraordinary way, countenance such attempts by giving all proper assistance, as he did to the first preachers of the gospel.


Verses 5-13

Acts 2:5-13. And there were dwelling — Or sojourning; in Jerusalem, Jews — Now gathered from all parts, by the peculiar providence of God; devout — Greek, ευλαβεις, pious men, from every nation under heaven — Should this be taken for an hyperbole, we have other instances in Scripture of the like way of speaking; as where we read of cities walled up to heaven, Deuteronomy 1:28; and of the dread of the Jews falling upon every nation under the whole heaven, Deuteronomy 2:25. But, not to insist upon it, that the Jews were then so numerous as to have spread through all countries, so that, as we read in Josephus, (Bell., Acts 2:16,) “there was not a people upon earth who had not Jews inhabiting among them;” the expression here can signify no more than that there were some at Jerusalem, at that time, from all the several nations among whom the Jews were dispersed. Now when this was noised abroad — When this strange report came to be circulated, as it presently was; the multitude came together — From all parts of Jerusalem; and were confounded — Were utterly astonished; because that every man — Of this large and various assembly; heard one or other of them — As they addressed themselves by turns to people of a different language; speak in his own language — The language he had known from a child. And they marvelled — At this wonderful event; saying one to another — As they conversed upon it; Behold — How unaccountable is this! are not all these which speak, Galileans? — By birth and country? and how hear we every man — While they direct their speech to so many different people, who are here come together out of so many nations, speaking to each of us in our own tongue? Parthians, &c. — The reader, who is acquainted with ancient history, needs little or no information respecting the nations here mentioned. We may observe, however, that by the Elamites, the Persians are meant, and, by the dwellers in Mesopotamia, Bishop Cumberland thinks the remainder of the Jews are intended, who had been carried captive into Assyria, first by Tiglath-Pileser, (2 Kings 15:29,) and afterward by Shalmaneser, and placed in the cities of the Medes, 2 Kings 17:6. And in Judea — The dialect of which greatly differed from that of Galilee: Asia — The country strictly so called, Asia Minor: strangers of Rome — Greek, οιεπημουντες ρωμαιοι, Roman sojourners, persons born at Rome, but now living at Jerusalem. These seem to have come to Jerusalem after those who are above mentioned. All of them were partly Jews by birth, and partly proselytes. Cretes — The inhabitants of one island seem to be mentioned for those of all. We do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God — Meaning, probably, those which related to the incarnation, life, doctrine, and especially to the miracles, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ; together with the effusion of his Spirit, as a fulfilment of his promises, and the glorious dispensations of gospel grace: or, the surprising testimonies God had given to the divine mission of Jesus, and to his being the true Messiah, the Son of God. It seems, while the apostles and other disciples were discoursing on these marvellous events, they spoke to different classes of people there assembled in such a great variety of languages, and with so much readiness and propriety, as were perfectly astonishing and unexampled, even among the most learned of mankind. And they were all amazed and in doubt — That is, the pious, or well disposed were; saying one to another, What meaneth this? — What can possibly be intended by this unaccountable appearance; but others mocking — The unbelievers begin with mocking, thence proceed to cavilling, Acts 4:7; to threats, Acts 2:17; to imprisoning, Acts 5:18; to blows, Acts 2:40; to slaughter, Acts 7:58. These mockers appear to have been some of the natives of Judea, and inhabitants of Jerusalem, (who understood only the dialect of the country,) by the apostles immediately directing their discourse to them in the next verse. These men are full of new wine — Greek, γλευκους, sweet wine, as the word properly signifies. There was no new wine, or must, so early in the year as pentecost; as Beza and many others have observed. Thus natural men are wont to ascribe supernatural things to mere natural causes; and many times as impudently and unskilfully as in the present case. We are informed by Plutarch, that the ancients had ways of preserving their wine sweet a great while, and such wines are known to be very intoxicating.


Verse 14-15

Acts 2:14-15. But Peter, standing up with the eleven — Who were then in company with him, and who, doubtless, also all, or at least most of them, addressed the people on this occasion, some in one language, and others in another, speaking by turns, or even altogether, in different parts of the assembly, to those who understood the languages in which they spoke, and therefore flocked about them. Peter, however, it appears, spoke first, and addressing himself to the native Jews, undoubtedly spoke in the language of the country, the Chaldaio-Syriac, which they all understood. It is probable that the others, who discoursed in other languages, uttered truths similar to those declared by Peter; and certainly it was not by Peter’s preaching only, but that of all, or most of the rest of the hundred and twenty, that the three thousand souls were that day converted and added to the church. But Peter’s sermon is recorded, to be an evidence for him, that he was thoroughly recovered from his fall, and thoroughly restored to the divine favour. He that had in a timid, cowardly manner, denied Christ, now as courageously confesses him. Peter, by standing up, showed that he was not drunk; and by the regular, consistent, and conclusive manner in which he reasoned, he manifested the utmost sobriety, and most perfect recollection. He lifted up his voice — As one that was both well assured of, and much affected with, what he said; and was neither afraid nor ashamed to avow it; and in order that those who had been reproaching them might hear him; and said, Ye men of Judea ανδρες ιουδαιοι, ye men that are Jews; and you especially that dwell at Jerusalem — Who were accessary to the death of Jesus; be this known unto you — Which ye did not know before, and which it infinitely concerns you to know now; and hearken to my words — With an attention becoming the importance of the subject on which I address you. My Master is gone, whose words you often heard in vain, and shall hear no more as you have done; but he speaks to you by us: hearken now to our words. For these are not drunken, as ye suppose — These disciples of Christ, that now speak with other tongues, speak good sense, and know what they say, as do those to whom they speak; who are led by their discourses into the knowledge of the wonderful works of God; and, indeed, it is very unreasonable and uncharitable for you to imagine that they are men intoxicated; seeing it is but the third hour of the day — That is, nine in the morning. The hour of morning sacrifice, before which, you know, none, who have any regard for their character, will allow themselves so much as to taste wine, and much less to drink any large quantity of it, whereby they would be rendered incapable of attending the service of the temple, and especially would not do it on such a solemn festival as this. Josephus tells us, that on feast-days the Jews seldom ate or drank any thing till noon; a circumstance which, if true, as there is reason to suppose it was, rendered this calumny still the more incredible. Peter’s discourse has three parts, each of which (see Acts 2:14; Acts 2:22; Acts 2:29) begins with the same appellation, men: only to the last part he also prefixes, with more familiarity, the additional word brethren.


Verses 16-21

Acts 2:16-21. But this is that which was spoken by the Prophet Joel — But there is another and better way of accounting for what you see and hear. It is the accomplishment of a remarkable prophecy, in its primary and literal sense intended of these times, and this event. Of this whole paragraph see the notes on Joel 2:28-32, where it is explained at large. It shall come to pass in the last days — So the times of the Messiah are frequently called, the gospel being the last dispensation of divine grace; I will pour out of my Spirit — Not on the day of pentecost only; upon all flesh — On persons of every age, sex, and rank. And your young men shall see visions — In young men the outward senses are most vigorous, and the bodily strength is entire, whereby they are best qualified to sustain the shock which usually attends the visions of God. In old men the internal senses are most vigorous, suited to divine dreams. Not that the old are wholly excluded from the former, or the young from the latter. And upon my servants — On those who are literally in a state of servitude. And I will show prodigies in heaven above, and signs on earth beneath — Great revelations of grace are usually attended with great judgments on those who reject it. In heaven — Treated of, Acts 2:20. On earth — Described in this verse. Such signs were those mentioned Acts 2:22, before the passion of Christ; which are so mentioned as to include also those at the very time of the passion and resurrection, at the destruction of Jerusalem, and at the end of the world. Terrible, indeed, were those prodigies in particular, which preceded the destruction of Jerusalem: such as the flaming sword hanging over the city, and the fiery comet, pointing down upon it for a year; the light that shone upon the temple and the altar in the night, as if it had been noon-day; the opening of the great and heavy gate of the temple without hands; the voice heard from the most holy place, Let us depart hence; the admonition of Jesus, the son of Ananus, crying, for seven years together, Wo, wo, wo; the vision of contending armies in the air, and of intrenchments thrown up against a city there represented; the terrible thunders and lightnings, and dreadful earthquakes, which every one considered as portending some great evil: all which, through the singular providence of God, are particularly recorded by Josephus. Blood — War and slaughter. Fire — Burning of houses and towns, involving all in clouds of smoke. See the notes on Isaiah 66:6; Luke 21:11. The moon shall be turned into blood — A bloody colour; before the day of the Lord — Eminently the last day; though not excluding any other day or season, wherein the Lord shall manifest his glory, in taking vengeance on his adversaries. But whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord — This expression implies the whole of religion, and particularly prayer uttered in faith; shall be saved — From all those plagues: from sin and hell. See on Joel 2:32.


Verse 22

Acts 2:22. Ye men of Israel, hear these words — Let me charge it upon you, as a most important duty, to pay attention to these remarkable words of the prophet, which I have now repeated in your hearing; and a part of which is this day evidently fulfilled, and the rest shall be fulfilled in their season. Jesus of Nazareth — So I call him, because he was generally known among you by that name, though he was not born there, nor, properly speaking, was a Nazarene; a man approved of God among you — Censured, indeed, and condemned by men, but approved of God, who testified his approbation of his life, doctrine, and of the whole of his proceedings, by the miraculous powers he gave him; a man, marked out by God, as Dr. Hammond translates απο του θεου αποδεδειγμενον, signalized and made remarkable among you that now hear me; for you yourselves are witnesses how remarkable he was rendered by the miracles, wonders, and signs, works above the power of nature, out of its ordinary course, and contrary to it, which God did by him — That is, which he did by that divine power with which he was clothed, and in which God plainly co-operated with him; for no man could do such works, unless God were with him. Observe, reader, the amazing stress Peter lays upon Christ’s miracles: 1st, The matter of fact was not to be denied; they were done, says he, in the midst of you — In the midst of your country, your city, your solemn assemblies; as ye yourselves also know — You have been eye- witnesses of his miracles, and I appeal to yourselves whether you have any thing to object against them, or can offer any thing to disprove them. 2d, The inference from them cannot be disputed; the reasoning is as strong as the evidence; if he did those miracles, certainly God approved of him, showed him to be what he declared himself to be, the Son of God and the Saviour of the world: for the God of truth would never set his seal to a lie.


Verse 23-24

Acts 2:23-24. Him, being delivered — Unto death, by God his heavenly Father, who not only permitted him to be put to death, but delivered him up for us all. Romans 8:32; devoted and gave him up; and yet he was approved of God: and there was nothing in this that implied, in any degree, the disapproving of him. For it was done by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God — In infinite wisdom, and for holy ends, in which, and in the means leading to them, Jesus himself freely and fully concurred. For it was necessary that thus divine justice should be satisfied, God and man reconciled, sinners saved, and Christ himself glorified. It must be observed, the apostle here anticipates an objection. Why did God suffer such a person to be so treated? Did he not know what wicked men intended to do? And had he not power to prevent it? Yea, he knew all that those wicked men intended to do. And he had power to blast all their designs in a moment. But he did not exert that power, because he so loved the world! Because it was the determinate counsel of his love to redeem mankind from eternal death, by the death of his only-begotten Son. Ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified, &c. — Thus the apostle speaks, because neither God’s foreknowing what they would do, nor his designing that his Son should be offered as a sacrifice to expiate the sins of mankind, nor his bringing unspeakable and everlasting good out of this fact, could in the least excuse their sin who were agents in it; for it was their voluntary act and deed, proceeding from a principle morally evil, and therefore they are justly said to have perpetrated it with wicked hands. It is probable some of those who had cried, Crucify him, crucify him, or who had been otherwise aiding and abetting in the murder, were here present, and that Peter knew it. Be this as it may, it was justly looked upon as a national act, because done by the vote of the great council, and by the voice of the great crowd, clamouring for his blood. He charges it particularly upon them, as a part of the nation on which it would be peculiarly visited, the more effectually to bring them to repentance and faith, because that was the only way to distinguish themselves from the guilty that were about to perish in their sins, and to discharge themselves from the guilt of so dreadful a crime, and save themselves from the coming vengeance due to it. Whom God hath raised up — Whose honour God hath abundantly vindicated, and to whose innocence, truth, and dignity he hath borne a most glorious testimony; having loosed the pains of death — Or the bonds in which he lay, when the pains of death had done their work upon him; because it was not possible that he — The Prince of life, and a person who had never sinned, and therefore was not liable to the penalty of death, only due to sinners; should be finally holden of it — Or detained under its power. The word ωδινας, here rendered pains, properly means, the pains of a woman in travail, an expression which seems to be here used to signify the agony which Christ suffered in his soul before he was nailed to the cross: and the extreme anguish he afterward endured, before he bowed his head and gave up the ghost. The word, however, seems to be used by the LXX. for cords and bands, Psalms 18:4; and Dr. Hammond thinks, that from them the apostle here used it in the same sense, to which, indeed, the metaphor of being held and loosing best agrees. Christ was imprisoned for our debt, was thrown into the bonds of death; but divine justice being satisfied, it was not possible he should be detained there, either by right or by force, for he had life in himself, and in his own power, and had conquered the prince of death.


Verses 25-28

Acts 2:25-28. For David speaketh concerning him — Namely, Psalms 16:8-11, where see the notes. I foresaw the Lord always before my face — In the Psalm, according to the Hebrew, it is, I have set the Lord always before me. Our Lord Jesus had a constant regard to his Father in his whole undertaking. He set his Father’s glory before him as his end, and his Father’s will as his rule, in every part of it. And he foresaw that his sufferings would redound abundantly to the honour of God, and would issue in his own everlasting joy and felicity. These things were set before him, and these he had an eye to in all he did and suffered; and with the prospect of these, he was supported and carried on. He is on my right hand — The instrument of action, strengthening, upholding, and guiding it; that I should not be moved — Shaken in, or driven from, my undertaking, by the hardships I must undergo. Therefore, &c. — On account of the firm confidence I had in him, that I should be supported in, and carried through all my labours and sufferings, and that they should have a glorious issue; my heart rejoiced in the midst of them; and my tongue was glad — Praised God in a joyful manner. In the Psalm it is, My glory rejoiceth: for our tongue is our glory; the faculty of speech is an honour to us; and never more so than when it is employed in praising God. Moreover my flesh shall rest in hope — The grave shall be to my body a bed of repose, and I shall cheerfully deliver it up to be laid there, in hope of a blessed resurrection. Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell εις αδου, in the invisible world. For it does not appear that ever our Lord’s soul went into what we call hell. On the contrary, when it was separated from the body, it went to paradise, Luke 23:43. The meaning is, Thou wilt not leave my soul in its state of separation from the body, nor suffer my body to be corrupted. See note on Psalms 16:10. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life — To which thou wilt assuredly conduct me; and after all my sufferings here, thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance — With manifestations of thy love and favour, in those upper and more glorious regions to which thou wilt raise me.


Verses 29-31

Acts 2:29-31. Men and brethren — Thus he addresses himself to them, with a title of respect; let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David Let it be no offence to you, if I tell you that David cannot be understood here as speaking of himself, but of the Messiah to come. David is here called a patriarch, a more honourable title than king, because he was the father of the royal family, and a man of great note and eminence in his generation; that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us — And as no one ever pretended that he had risen, therefore he could not say of himself, that he should not see, or suffer corruption; it being evident he did suffer it. St. Paul urges this same argument, chap. Acts 13:35-37. Therefore, being a prophet, &c. — He therefore spoke it as a prophet, with an eye to the Messiah, to whose sufferings the prophets bore testimony beforehand, as also to the glory that should follow; knowing that God had sworn with an oath — In a special revelation from heaven; that of the fruit of his loins — Or, out of his descendants; he would raise up Christ — That is, the promised Messiah; to sit on his throne — That is, promised him a son; the throne of whose kingdom should be established for ever, 2 Samuel 7:12. He seeing this before — With a firm reliance on the faithfulness of God, spake of the resurrection of Christ in the words just now repeated; not meaning them of himself, or intending they should be taken in any lower sense. But how does that promise of a kingdom imply Christ’s resurrection? Because he did not receive it before he died, and because his kingdom was to endure for ever, 2 Samuel 7:13.


Verses 32-36

Acts 2:32-36. This Jesus — Whom we assert to be the true Messiah; hath God raised up — According to the tenor of his promise; whereof — Of which resurrection; we all are witnesses — On our personal and certain knowledge; having seen him with our eyes, and examined into the truth of the matter with all possible care. Therefore, being by the right hand of God — That is, by God’s almighty power, exalted from the grave to heaven; or, as some read the clause, Being exalted to the right hand of God, to supreme power, majesty, and glory; and having received of the Father — As the great anointed one of the Lord; the promise of the Holy Ghost — The Holy Ghost promised to his disciples; he hath — Agreeably to the notices he gave us before his ascension; shed forth this miraculous effusion of it, the effects of which ye now see and hear. For David himself — Who has not yet been raised from the dead; is not — With respect to his body; ascended into heaven — To be advanced there to the highest dignity and power: but he saith — In another Psalm, (where he plainly shows that he spoke of another person, and such another as was superior to himself, even his Lord;) The Lord — Namely, Jehovah, (the word here used;) said unto my Lord — That is, God the Father said unto the Messiah, (whom, though in one sense David’s son, he honoured as his Lord;) Sit thou on my right hand — Be thou invested with the highest power and glory; until I make thy foes — All that are so presumptuous as to persist in hostility to thee; thy footstool — Until I lay them prostrate at thy feet, so that thou mayest trample upon them at pleasure, as entirely subdued. See note on Psalms 110:1. This text is here quoted with the greatest address, as suggesting, in the words of David, their great prophetic monarch, how certain their own ruin must be, if they went on to oppose Christ. It may be proper to observe here, that in these two verses there is an allusion to two ancient customs: one, to that of kings placing those persons on their right hands to whom they intended the highest honour; as Solomon did Bathsheba, when sitting on his throne, 1 Kings 2:19; and the other, to the custom of conquerors, who used to tread on the necks of their vanquished enemies, as a token of their entire victory and triumph over them. Therefore — Upon the whole, from this concurrent evidence, both of prophecy and miracle, and from the testimony God has given to that Jesus whom we preach, not only by his resurrection from the dead, but by the effusion of the Holy Spirit on his followers; let all the house of Israel know assuredly — How contrary soever it may be to their former apprehensions and rooted prejudices; that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have rejected and crucified, both Lord and Christ — Hath demonstrated him to be the expected Messiah, and hath constituted him the King of his people, and Lord of all: let them know certainly that this truth has now received its full confirmation, and we our full commission to publish it. Thus Peter shows, in a striking light, what aggravated wickedness they had been guilty of, in that they had crucified one whom God designed to glorify, and had put him to death as a deceiver, who had given such pregnant proofs of a divine mission.


Verses 37-39

Acts 2:37-39. Now when they heard this — Having patiently heard Peter out, and not given him the interruption they had been used to give Christ in his discourses; (which was an important point gained;) they were pricked in their heart — Or, were pierced to the heart, with deep and lively sorrow, and felt such a sense of their enormous guilt, in the injuries and indignities which they had offered to this glorious, this divine person, that, with the utmost eagerness and solicitude, they cried out to Peter, &c., Men and brethren — See how their language is altered: they did not style them so before! what shall we do? — Is that Jesus, whom we crucified, both Lord and Christ? Then what will become of us who crucified him? How shall we free ourselves from that guilt and danger in which our own folly and wickedness have involved us? Then Peter said, Repent — Of this aggravated crime, and let a sense of the horrid guilt which you have thereby contracted, awaken you to a penitent reflection upon all your other sins, and to bitter remorse and sorrow for them. This was the same doctrine that John the Baptist and Christ had preached, and, now the Spirit is poured out, it is still insisted on. See notes on Matthew 3:2; Mark 1:15; Luke 3:8-14. And be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ — That is, believe in Jesus Christ, not only as a teacher come from God, but as the Messiah, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world: believe in his doctrine as infallibly true and infinitely momentous, and make it the rule of your faith and practice: rely on his mediation for reconciliation with God: submit to his grace and government: and make an open and solemn profession of this by submitting to the ordinance of baptism. See notes on Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:16. This is pressed on each particular person; every one of you, says the apostle. Even those of you that have been the greatest sinners, if they comply with these terms, shall find mercy through this Jesus: and those that think they have been the greatest saints, yet have need to comply with them; repentance, faith, and new obedience being necessary for all. For the remission of sins — Which you may obtain through Christ crucified, in this way, and can obtain in no other. Repent of your sins and they shall not be your ruin; believe in Jesus, and be baptized in that faith, and you shall be justified. Yea, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost — By which he will own and attest the work of his grace in your hearts, and will qualify you for serving that Lord, whom you have crucified. Some of you shall receive even these external and extraordinary gifts, and every one of you, if you be sincere in your repentance and faith, shall receive his internal graces and comforts; shall be sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Observe, reader, all that receive the remission of sins, and are adopted into God’s family, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, as a spirit of adoption and regeneration; to assure them of their sonship, and renew them after God’s image. For, says the apostle, the promise is unto you — To any and all of you here present; and to your children — Your posterity to the latest generation; and to all that are afar off — To the Gentiles in the most remote countries, whom God is ready to admit to the same privileges with you. It appears evidently from the manner in which St. Peter here expresses himself, that the gift of the Holy Ghost does not, in this place, mean merely the power of speaking with tongues, and working miracles, for the promise of this was not given to all the Jews there present, and their posterity, much less to all that were afar off, in distant ages and nations; but it rather signifies, the ordinary graces of the Spirit, living faith and its fruits, even righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, which certainly are free for all that earnestly desire, and will seek them in the way God hath appointed. See Luke 11:13; John 4:10; and John 7:37. Whomsoever the Lord our God shall call — Namely, by his word and Spirit, whether they are Jews or Gentiles, and who are not disobedient to the heavenly calling. It is observable, that Peter did not now understand the very words he spoke: for he knew nothing, as yet, of the intended calling of the Gentiles. He could only mean, therefore, by what he now said, that the gospel should be preached to all the dispersed of Israel, and their posterity, in distant nations; but the Holy Spirit had doubtless a further view.


Verse 40

Acts 2:40. And with many other words — To the same purpose; did he testify — Gospel truths; and exhort — To gospel duties. In such an accepted time, when the power of the word is felt, and good impressions appear to be made on men’s minds, we should add line upon line, and extend our discourses to a greater length than usual, in order that, if possible, they may be not only almost, but altogether persuaded to be Christians. Saying, Save yourselves — Greek, σωθητε, be ye saved, namely, by complying with the exhortation given; from this untoward — Greek, της σκολιας ταυτης, this perverse, generation — Many of whom were probably mocking still. Observe, reader, those that repent of their sins, and give themselves up to Jesus Christ, must evidence their sincerity by breaking off all intimate society with the carnal and wicked. Depart from me, ye evil doers, must be the language of every one that determines to keep the commandments of his God, Psalms 119:115. To separate ourselves from such, is the only way to save ourselves from them.


Verse 41

Acts 2:41. Then they that gladly received his word, &c. — The apostle’s exhortation was not given in vain; many were awakened and savingly brought to God by it; for the influence of the Holy Spirit accompanied it, and wrought wonders thereby. Many of the same persons that had been eye-witnesses of the death of Christ, and of the prodigies that had attended it, and were not at all influenced by them, were now effectually wrought upon by the preaching of the word, and found it the power of God to their salvation. Such were baptized — Gladly receiving the word, believing with the heart, they made confession with the mouth, and enrolled themselves among the disciples of Christ, by that sacred rite and ceremony which he had instituted. Hereby there were added to the hundred and twenty disciples of Christ about three thousand souls that same day; the conversion of whom, by the word now spoken, was a greater work than the feeding of four or five thousand with a few loaves and fishes. Let it be observed here, they who are joined to Christ, ought to join themselves to the disciples of Christ, and be united with them: when we take God for our God, we must take his people for our people. It is commonly said, that all these were converted by one sermon, but, as has been intimated on Acts 2:14, it is probable, that while Peter was preaching in the Chaldaio-Syriac language, the other apostles were preaching at some small distance, much to the same purpose, in other languages; and it is not surely to be imagined, that none of them but Peter should be blessed as the means of converting any souls; not to insist upon it that he himself might deliver several discourses that day (and it was τη ημερα εκεινη, in that day, that the number here spoken of was added) to different auditories, when the concourse of people was so great, and their languages so various.


Verse 42-43

Acts 2:42-43. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine — Notwithstanding all the apparent danger to which they were exposed, they regularly attended on the word which the apostles preached, and resolutely adhered to their doctrine. And they all lived in the most endearing communion and intimate friendship one with another, and especially expressed their mutual affection in breaking of bread — Together, and joining in the exercise of social prayer. Though we have great reason to believe that the eucharist was often celebrated among these primitive converts to Christianity, perhaps much oftener than every Lord’s day, yet there seems no sufficient reason to conclude with Lightfoot, Pearson, and many others, that this phrase must here refer to it, since it may undoubtedly signify common meals, as Grotius, Wolfius, and several others have shown; in which sense the same phrase is used, Luke 24:35, for there, it is plain, the eucharist could not be intended. And fear came upon every soul — Many who were not converted and did not join with the Christians, when they observed how the testimony of the apostles, concerning the resurrection of Jesus, was confirmed by the gift of tongues and other miracles, and saw the wonderful effect of their preaching, were so mightily struck and impressed thereby, that a reverential fear and inward dread fell upon them, and gradually spread itself over the whole city and neighbourhood; for they apprehended such unexampled events might be the forerunners of some public calamities on those who had slain Jesus, it being declared by his disciples, that these extraordinary things were all effected by his power. And the consternation was still further increased, by the many wonders and signs which continued to be daily wrought in his name by his apostles, all which plainly showed an extraordinary divine interposition, and proved incontestably that they spoke and acted by God’s authority.


Verse 44-45

Acts 2:44-45. And all that believed were together — Meeting as frequently as possible, even in the same place, and at the same time. Or, if this was impracticable, (their number being already, at least, three thousand one hundred and twenty, and in a few days several thousands more,) they probably assembled, as Dr. Lightfoot explains it, in several distinct companies, or congregations, according as their languages, nations, or other circumstances, brought and kept them together. And had all things in common — That is, such was their mutual affection and love to each other, that they chose rather to part with their property, whatever it was, than that any of their brethren should want; and accordingly they who had estates, or any other valuable possessions, sold them, and parted the price of them to all men — That is, to their brethren; as every man had need — Herein, it is probable, they had an eye to the command which Christ gave to the rich man, as a test of his sincerity; sell what thou hast, and give to the poor. Not that this was intended for an example, or to be a constant and binding rule to all Christians, in all places and ages; as if they were bound to sell all their property, and give the money arising from the sale in charity. For St. Paul, in his epistles, after this, often speaks of the rich and poor, as distinguished from each other; and Christ said, The poor you have always with you; evidently meaning that this always would, more or less, be the case among his followers. Indeed, the New Testament abounds with passages which plainly show that what now took place at Jerusalem, was not intended to be a general practice in the church of Christ. But the case was now extraordinary; and, as Dr. Doddridge observes, “peculiar reasons made this community of goods eligible at this time; not only as so many sojourners, who had come from other parts, would justly be desirous to continue at Jerusalem much longer than they intended, when they came up to the feast, that they might get a thorough knowledge of the gospel; but as the prospect, likewise, of the Roman conquests, which, according to Christ’s known prediction, were soon to swallow up all Jewish property, would of course dispose many more readily to sell their lands.” For they who believed Christ to be a divinely-commissioned teacher, must believe that the Jewish nation would shortly be destroyed, and an end put to the possession of goods and estates by the Jews in Judea; and in the belief of that, the converted Jews resident in the country wisely sold theirs for the present service of Christ and his church, before they were snatched from them by the enemy. It does not appear, however, that the apostles enjoined this upon any of them, as an absolute duty; for Peter tells Ananias,

(Acts 5:4,) that the possession he had sold was his own property before he had sold it, and that, after he had disposed of it, the price he had received for it was still in his own power, to have given, or not given, the whole or any part of it. But by this conduct, these first Christians manifested in a remarkable manner their firm faith in the declarations and predictions of Christ, respecting the calamities coming on Judea, their deadness to, and contempt of, this world, their assurance of another, their love to their brethren, their compassion for the poor, and their great zeal for the encouraging of Christianity, and the nursing of it in its infancy. The apostles left all to follow Christ, and were to give themselves wholly to the ministry of the word, and prayer; it was necessary, therefore, that something should be done for their maintenance; so that this extraordinary liberality was like that of Israel in the wilderness, toward the building of the tabernacle, which needed to be restrained. It is true the apostles, who wrought so many wonderful miracles, could probably have maintained themselves and the poor that were among them miraculously, as Christ fed thousands with little food; but it was as much for the glory of God that it should be done by a miracle of grace, inclining people to sell their estates to do it, as if it had been done by a miracle in nature. In the mean time, the gospel-word from their mouths did wonders, and God blessed their endeavours for the increase of the number of believers, adding to the church daily such as should be, or, as the word σωζομενους rather means, such as were saved — Namely, from the guilt and power of their sins, by believing in Christ.


Verse 46-47

Acts 2:46-47. And continuing daily with one accord — With unanimity and fraternal affection; in the temple — At the appointed hours of public service. This was their place of rendezvous: and here they worshipped not only on sabbaths, and solemn feast-days, but every day: for to worship God is the daily work of a true Christian, and where there is opportunity, the oftener it is done publicly the better. God loveth the gates of Zion, and so must we: and to have fellowship with God in his ordinances, is the best fellowship we can have with one another. And breaking bread from house to house — For they associated as frequently as they could at other times, each family that was of ability entertaining their brethren, especially those that were sojourners in Jerusalem; they eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart — With the greatest joy, on the part of those who made the entertainments; and with disinterested simplicity of heart, in those who received them; and on all sides with the sincerest sentiments of devotion and friendship. Thus did these first Christians carry the same holy and happy temper in which they worshipped God, through all their common actions, eating and working with the same spirit wherewith they prayed, and received the Lord’s supper! Praising God — For the riches of his grace to them, for the wonderful things he had done for them, in redeeming them by the life, death, and resurrection of his Son, for the assurances he had given them of their justification and regeneration through him, and for the bright prospects he had opened before them, of glory and felicity for ever in his presence and kingdom. Having favour with all the people — That is, with the generality of them, particularly the common people. So wonderfully had the fear, spoken of Acts 2:43, the signs and wonders wrought by the apostles, and the astonishing events which had taken place, restrained the spirit of persecution; which, however, was soon revived, and broke forth in all its fury: and no wonder; for the carnal mind will still be enmity against God, however the outward manifestations of that enmity may, on certain occasions, be checked for a season. In this remarkable passage, then, we have a striking picture of the primitive church, and that in its first days: its state of infancy, indeed, but the state of its greatest innocence. 1st, The members of it were regular in their attendance on holy ordinances, and abounded in all instances of piety and devotion. For Christianity, received in the power of it, will cause men to delight in communion with God in all those ways wherein he has commanded us to meet him, and has promised to meet us. They were, therefore, constant in their attendance on the preaching of the word; frequently received the Lord’s supper, celebrating that memorial of their Master’s death, as persons who were not ashamed to own their relation to, and dependance upon him, who had been crucified; they continued instant in prayer, social and public, as well as private; and abounded in praise and thanksgiving. 2d, Their charity was as eminent as their piety, their joining together in holy ordinances tending greatly to endear them to one another, and to unite them together in disinterested friendship and brotherly affection. Hence they were peculiarly loving and kind to one another, had a deep concern for each other’s welfare, and were constantly ready to help each other in any way in their power, suffering no one to want what another had. 3d, God owned them for his people, giving daily and signal tokens of his presence with them, and delight in them, bearing testimony to the word of his grace, and causing his power so to attend the ministration of it, that the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified, his kingdom enlarged, and multitudes, both of men and women, were added to the society of the faithful.

O, what an age of golden days! O, what a choice, peculiar race! Join’d by the unction from above, In mystic fellowship of love.

Meek, simple followers of the Lamb, They lived, and spake, and thought the same They joyfully conspired to raise Their ceaseless sacrifice of praise.

With grace abundantly endued, A pure, believing multitude; Wash’d in the Lamb’s all-cleansing blood Anointed kings and priests to God!

Ye different sects, who all declare, Lo, here is Christ! and Christ is there! Your stronger proofs divinely give, And show me where the Christians live.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Acts 2:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/acts-2.html. 1857.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, June 26th, 2019
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
ADVERTISEMENT
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology