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Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament
Acts 2

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

In this extraordinary and miraculous descent of the Holy Ghost upon the apostles;

Observe, 1. The time, When the day of Pentecost was fully come; that is, fifty days after Christ's resurrection. The day of Pentecost is probably believed to have fallen then upon the Lord's day; it is certain, from Acts 1 that the Spirit descended when the apostles were unanimously assembled for his worship, and continued with one accord in prayer and supplication. There is no way to obtain the Holy Spirit from heaven, both as a sanctifier and as a comforter, like fervent prayer, assiduity and perseverance in our devotions, especially in the public assemblies of the saints.

Observe, 2. The place where; at Jerusalem, the more general place where our Lord had undergone his ignominy and reproach, there he manifests forth his glory and dignity: First by his triumphant ascension, and afterwards by his miraculous mission of the Holy Spirit. The more particular place was the upper room where they were assembled and constantly prayed. This upper chamber was most raised towards heaven, most remote form noise and company, and worldly distractions. The Spirit of God descends upon and rests with such as have raised affection above the world, and are nearest unto heaven; not upon such as are buried alive in worldly business. Earth will extinguish fire as well as water, as some say sooner; not only sensual lust, but an excess of earthly business and worldly drudgery, will quench the Holy Spirit, and cause him to depart and go away aggrieved from us.

Observe, 3. The persons on whom the Holy Ghost thus descended: namely, the apostles; not that they were without the Holy Spirit until now; they had him before in his sanctifying graces; here they received him in his extraordinary gifts, to fit them for extraordinary services. When God extraordinarily calls any of his servants to more than ordinary service, they; may expect more than ordinary assistance. The Holy Spirit now descended upon the apostles in his miraculous gifts, and if we be not wanting to ourselves, he will descend upon us in invisible favours every day, making our souls and bodies a temple, and fit habitation for himself to dwell in, by his sanctifying impressions, by his powerful assistances, by his quickening influences; pouring in both the oil of grace, and also the oil of joy and gladness into our hearts.

Observe, 4. The manner how the Holy Ghost at this time descended on the apostles:

1. Suddenly, like the wind: A mighty rushing wind from heaven: insinuating, that it was not the apostles' prayer that brought, but Christ's promise and power, that sent the Holy Ghost thus miraculously down upon them. This rushing wind also represents the mighty efficacy of the Holy Spirit now descending.

2. In the appearance of fiery cloven tongues; cloven, to signify the variety of languages which the the apostles should be enabled to speak, and to qualify them to preach the gospel unto all nations: And fiery, to represent that fervent heat and zeal they should be endued with themselves; that divine light they should impart to others; as also that purity and holiness which they and all succeeding ministers of the gospel ought to appear beautified and adorned with: Finally, As fire dissipateth and disperseth, multiplieth and increaseth, even so the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, the more they are diffused and well employed, the more will they be increased; by imparting to our people, we shall gather to ourselves.

Thus was our Lord's promise fulfilled to his apostles, in sending down the Holy Ghost upon them, but not upon them only; the private Christian no doubt, as well as the public apostle, did receive the Holy Spirit according to his measure: To enlightnen, as a spirit of knowledge; to enliven, as a spirit of life; to warm and hear, as a spirit of zeal; to mollify and soften, as a spirit of holy fear; to quicken and strengthen, as a spirit of power; to guide and direct, as a spirit of wisdom and counsel; to unite and knit their hearts together, as a spirit of love. And blessed be God for the promise of the same Holy Spirit to abide with all believers, though not in his miraculous gifts, yet in his sanctifying operations and saving graces, to the end of the world.


Verse 5

The fame of the foregoing miraculous operation of the Holy Spirit being instantly spread abroad in Jerusalem, and there being present at that time great multitudes of Jews, who had come from all parts of Judea, to the feast of Pentecost, and also many other Jews and proselytes born in other nations, in Mesopotamia, Cappadocia, Phrygia, and Pamphilia, who were now come up to worship the true God at Jerusalem; when they heard the apostles speak in their own language, which they never understood before, the wonderful works of God, in the death, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ; some of them wondered to hear illiterate men speaking all languages; others derided the miracle, and imputed to drunkenness.

Here note, 1. The wisdom and providence of Almighty God, in so ordering the first publication of the gospel, that the fame thereof, and of that convincing miracle which gave authority thereunto, might be carried unto all nations by so many eye and ear-witnesses, as were worshipping at Jerusalem at this time: For there were now sojourning at Jerusalem, men out of every nation under heaven; that is, of every nation, where any Jews were scattered at this time throughout the world, there were some particular persons come up now to Jerusalem to worship God.

Note, 2. The commendatory character given of those persons, who from their several countries came up to the house of God in Jerusalem, to worship him there; they are styled devout men: And they received from God the reward of their piety and devotion. Had they staid at home, as many of their brethren no doubt did, they had not been witnesses of so wonderful and miracle for the confirmation of their faith as now they were.

Yet note, 3. The different influence and effect which this miracle of the Holy Spirit's descent in fiery cloven tongues, had upon the minds of the people in Jerusalem. Some were struck into an extacy of admiration and awful wonder; others (the Scribes and Pharisees probably) scornfully deride, and impute the miracle to drunkenness, saying, These men are full of new wine. A senseless slander; for though excess of wine may give a man more tongue, yet not more tongues.

O! how have the holy operations of the blessed Spirit from the beginning been slandered and blasphemed; accounted the effects of drunkenness then, of enthusiasm or melancholy now!


Verse 14

Observe here, The holy courage of St. Peter, in defending the innocency of the apostles, and confuting the calumny of drunkenness, which was now cast upon himself and them: These men are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.

Where note, 1. How he argues negatively from the time of the day: it was but the third hour of the day, that is nine o'clock in the morning, which was the hour for the morning sacrifice and prayer; and the worshippers of God (at the great feast especially) were never wont to eat or drink before those holy services were performed. In those times they went to their public devotions fasting; they served God before they served their bellies. The first fruits of the day were offered in the temple then; in the tavern now: ten in the morning and evening visits are made by some to the latter for one to the former.

Note farther, How he argues positively: he assures them, that the apostles were full of the Holy Ghost, and not full of wine; filled with the Spirit of God; and what was now done, was the completion of a prophecy uttered by Joel: That in the last days, that is, in the days of the Messias, there should be a most plentiful effusion of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh: that is, upon Jews and Gentiles, and upon all sorts of persons with out distinction, old and young, sons and daughters, bond and free.

Learn thence, That the Spirit of God is a free spirit, not confined to any party, to any order or degrees of men, but plentifully and abundantly poured forth under the gospel dispensation upon all believers. It is one of the great cheats which the pope has imposed upon the world, to persuade them to believe the Spirit of God is tied to the pommel of his chair; that he, and his cardinals, have monopolized the Holy Ghost. But, blessed be God, he has promised to pour out his Spirit upon all flesh, even upon servants and handmaids, to show, that he doth not despise persons of the lowest rank and condition in this world, but that the promise of the Spirit is made unto them also.

Observe lastly, What is here foretold that should come to pass after this great effusion of the Holy Spirit, namely, Wonder in the heaven, and signs in the earth, the sun turned into darkness, and the moon into blood. Which expressions signify the great miseries and troubles , the calamities and desolation, which should befall the Jews before the destruction of Jerusalem, for their crucifying the Lord of life and glory; unto which is subjoined the only way to escape and avoid them, namely, calling upon the Lord in fervent prayer and supplication: Whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Intimating that prayer makes us shot-free, and is a sure defence in all storms, that no evil shall fatally touch our person, or come near our dwellings, whilst we take hold of God by faith, and approach unto him by prayer.

Lord! how happy is it when the strong afflictions from thee, raise strong affections in us towards thee!


Verse 22

St. Peter having wiped off the unjust aspersion of drunkenness cast upon himself and his brethren in the foregoing verses; in these he makes it his business to convince the Jews that they were the murderers of the best man that ever lived in the world, even Jesus of Nazareth, the true and promised Messiah.

In order to this he treats in this sermon,

1. Of the person and life of Christ.

2. Of the sufferings and death of Christ.

3. Of the resurrection of him from the grave.

First, as touching his person, the apostle shows , That he was evidently sent from God and approved of him, by those many miracles, wonders, and signs, which were wrought by him.

Hence note, That the many and great miracles wrought by Christ, evidently prove that he was sent of God, and came from him, and was approved by him. Our Saviour's miracles, for the nature of them, were beneficial to mankind; for the number of them, they were many; for the manner of their operation, they were public and open, in the sight and view of all the people; not in corners, like the Popish miracles, (wrought before their own creatures only,) but before his enemies; and for the quality of them, they were of the greatest magnitude, cleansing the lepers, raising the dead, giving sight to them that were born blind; by a word spoken, by a touch given: so that our blessed Saviour had all that attestation that miracles can give, that he was commissioned by God, and came from God.

The second part of Peter's sermon here treats of the sufferings and death of Christ: By wicked hands ye have crucified and slain him, who was delivered by he determinate counsel of God.

Where note, 1. The name and kind of death which Christ died: this is described more generally; it was a violent death, Ye have slain him; more particularly, it was an ignominious, cursed, and dishonourable death, ye have crucified him.

Learn thence, That the Lord Jesus Christ was not only put to death, but to the worst of deaths, even the death of the cross. Now the death of the cross was a violent death, a painful death, a shameful death, a lingering death, a succourless death, and an accursed death.

Note, 2. The causes of Christ's death are here expressed. The principal cause, permitting and ordering, was the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. The instrumental cause, effecting, was the wicked hands of the Jews: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel, &c. ye have taken, and by wicked hands crucified, &c.

Learn hence, That there was not any one particular action or single circumstance relating to the death of Christ, but what came under the holy counsel and wise determination of God. Yet this foreknowledge and counsel of God, as it did not necessitate and enforce them to it, so neither doth it excuse them in it. God's foreknowledge and determinate counsel did no more compel or force their wicked hands to do what they did, than the mariner's hoisting up his sails to take the wind to serve his design, can be said to compel the wind to blow. God's end in acting was one, their end in acting was another; his most pure and holy, theirs most malicious and daringly wicked. In respect of God, Christ's death was justice and mercy; in respect of man it was murder and cruelty; in respect of himself, it was obedience and humility.

The third part of the apostle's sermon, respects the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the grave, Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death; because it was not possible that he should be holden of it Acts 2:24. Christ, though laid, was not lost in the grave; but revived and rose again, and rose by the power of his Godhead.

True, God is here said to raise him, and Spirit elsewhere; but we are not to understand it so, as if they raised him by their power without his own power; for he declares it expressly, In three days I will raise up the temple of my body. John 2:19

And if he had not raised himself by his own power, how could he be said, To be declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead Romans 1:4? What more had appeared in Christ's resurrection that in any other, if that were all? For others were raised by the power of God as well as he. Now because the Jews, to whom Peter here preaches, were filled with prejudice against Christ, the apostle thought fit to tell them that God raised them from the dead; yet by the consequence it sufficiently appears in the following discourse, that Christ raised himself from the dead.

Learn hence, That the Lord Jesus Christ, by the omnipotent power of the Godhead, the Father's, the Spirit's and his own Godhead, revived, and rose again from the dead, to the terror and consternation of his enemies, and the unspeakable consolation of all believers. As by the eternal Spirit, or the power of his own Godhead, he offered up himself to God when he died; so when he was put to death in the flesh, he was quickened by the Spirit; that is, by the power of his divine nature. The same Spirit enabled him to do both.

Observe also, The reason annexed, why God raised up Jesus Christ: because it was impossible that death should hold him. But how impossible?

1. 'Twas naturally impossible, upon the account of that divine power which was inherent in his person as God.

2. 'Twas legally impossible, because divine justice being fully satisfied by his sufferings, required that he should be raised to life; as when a debt is paid, the prisoner is discharged, and the prison-door opened.


Verse 25

St. Peter here proceeds in this memorable sermon, which he preached at the feast of Pentecost, to convince the Jews, that Jesus, whom they had crucified, was undoubtedly the promised Messias, because he was raised from the grave according to the prophetical prediction, Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption Psalms 16:10.

And accordingly St. Peter doth strongly prove that these words, in their literal sense, could not be spoken of David, because he was left in the grave, and saw corruption; but must be applied unto Christ, who though he was laid, yet was not lost in the grave, but saw no corruption, being raised by God the third day.

Hence note, That though death bound the hands and feet of Jesus Christ, and laid him in his grave, yet, Samson-like, he snapt and broke those bands asunder, it being impossible that he should be holden of them, or confined by them. It was impossible for Christ to continue death's prisoner in the grave longer than three days:

1. Because he was Lord of life and death, he was the resurrection and the life; life to quicken himself, and the resurrection to raise us; he was the resurrection effectively, the life essentially and formally.

Now it was impossible for death to hold him that was life itself under its power, any longer than he who is life pleased; and for this reason he is said to swallow up death in victory, 1 Corinthians 15:54.

2. Because of his undertaking for us; for if Christ had been held by corporal death, we must have continued for ever under the power of spiritual death; therefore the Holy one was not suffered to see corruption, the least corruption, according to the prophetical prediction, Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell Psalms 16:10; that is, my dead body in the grave, (for David was left in that hell, from which Christ was raised, but the hell which David was in was not beyond the grave;) nor suffer thine Holy One to see corruption; that is, I shall neither see nor feel, nor lie under the power of corruption, but shall suddenly rise again, and then my Father will show me the path of life, and make me full of joy with his countenance; that is, after my resurrection, I shall lie for ever in glory in the presence of my Father, where I shall have fulness of joy, and rivers of pleasure for evermore.

The last part of St. Peter's sermon treats of Christ's ascension. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, &c. Acts 2:33 intimating, That when the Lord Jesus Christ had finished his work upon earth, he was placed in the seat of the highest honour and authority, at the right hand of God in heaven.

To convince the Jews of the certainty hereof, St. Peter applies that promise, unto Christ, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool Psalms 110:1; showing that these words are not applicable unto David; for David is not ascended into heaven in his own person, but his body remained in the sepulchre then amongst them; but Christ was ascended, and at the right hand of God exalted, and, pursuant to his promise, had now sent down the Holy Ghost in fiery cloven tongues, and divers languages, upon them.

Where note, The great and wonderful change in the state and condition of Christ, since his ascension into heaven: a little while since they called him the carpenter's son, this fellow, this deceiver; now he has obtained a more excellent name than angels. Then he had not a place to lay his head on; now he is exalted to be heir of all things. Here he sweats, there he sits; here he groaned, there he triumphs; never to groan, weep, or bleed more. His human nature is advanced to the highest honours, even to the object of adoration both to angels and men. This was the doctrinal part of St. Peter's sermon: it treated of the person, life, miracles, death, resurrection, and ascension, of the Lord Jesus, in a very close and convincing manner. His warm application of the whole now follows, Acts 2:36.


Verse 36

That is, God the Father hath ordained and appointed this Jesus whom we have crucified, to be the head and Saviour of his church, he being the true and promised Messiah.

Learn hence, That the Lord Jesus Christ was constituted and appointed by his Father, to be the supreme Governor and only Saviour of his church. God had made Jesus both Lord, and Christ, both a prince and a Saviour.

Note farther, How very close and home the apostle is in applying what he had said to his auditors; he doth not rest in generals; but says plainly, Ye are the men; This is the same Jesus whom ye have crucified, whom ye with wicked hands have slain: Had not the application been so close, it is probable the success of the sermon had not been so considerable.

Thence learn, That the success and efficacy of the word preached, depends upon a particular and warm application of it to every man's conscience: generals will not affect. See an instance of it in what follows.

That is, God the Father hath ordained and appointed this Jesus whom we have crucified, to be the head and Saviour of his church, he being the true and promised Messiah.

Learn hence, That the Lord Jesus Christ was constituted and appointed by his Father, to be the supreme Governor and only Saviour of his church. God had made Jesus both Lord, and Christ, both a prince and a Saviour.

Note farther, How very close and home the apostle is in applying what he had said to his auditors; he doth not rest in generals; but says plainly, Ye are the men; This is the same Jesus whom ye have crucified, whom ye with wicked hands have slain: Had not the application been so close, it is probable the success of the sermon had not been so considerable.

Thence learn, That the success and efficacy of the word preached, depends upon a particular and warm application of it to every man's conscience: generals will not affect. See an instance of it in what follows.


Verse 37

Here the success of St. Peter's sermon is recorded; The auditors were not only affected, but their hearts were touched with a kindly remorse; they mourn for sin and inquire what they should do to be saved; Some in our days would have been offended at such an inquiry, and told them, it was not doing, but believing only, that God expected; that Christ had done all for them, and that they had nothing to do, but to believe strongly that all was done to their hands; but St. Peter reproves them not for their iniquity, but puts them upon doing; namely, the exercise and practice of repentance, in the next verse.

Hence note, 1. That conversion, where it is in truth, begets and occasions a very great and sensible change.

2. That the preaching of the word is the instrumental means for the effecting and accomplishing of this charge.

3. That the best preaching is that which pricks men's hearts, wounds and convinces their consciences, and makes them thoroughly sensible both of their sin and danger, and of the great necessity of a change.

4. That when men are once convinced of their bad state, and dangerous condition, their first inquiry will be, yea should, and ought to be, What they should do to be saved? They said, Men and brethren, what shall we do? The apostle liked that inquiry very well; and answers it in the next verse.


Verse 38

Observe, 1. St. Peter exhorts them to repentance. But did they not repent already? were they not now pricked at their hearts? and will the apostle add grief to grief, and pain to smart? Know, that the apostle advises them to join to their legal sorrow, evangelical repentance, such as is attended and accompanied with owning Christ to be the true Messias, with believing in him with desire and hope of pardon from him.

Where, by the way, observe, That St. Peter prescribes a dose of the same physic for them, which he had very lately taken himself with good success, when upon his hearty sorrow he obtained pardon for denying his Lord and Master, He went out and wept bitterly. Matthew 26:75 No sermons are so sovereign and so successful as those which proceed from the minister's personal and comfortable experience. St. Peter presses upon his auditors the doctrine of repentance, which he himself had practiced.

Observe, 2. Upon their repentance, their owning of, and believing in Christ, he directs them to be baptized in his name, and then they should be capable of the gifts of the Holy Ghost; even of those miraculous gifts which they no saw and admired in the apostles.

Learn hence, That baptism is a solemn ordinance and sacred institution of Jesus Christ, which is not to be administered to any out of the Christian church, till they profess repentance and faith in Christ, and sincere obedience to him, Repent, and be baptized every one of you.

Observe, 3. The argument which the apostle uses with them, by way of encouragement, to persuade them to repent and be baptized: for, says he, The promise is unto you and to your children: To you, Jews of the seed of Abraham, and to your seed, as shall be called by the preaching of the gospel to profess faith in Christ, and subjection to him. Where, by the promise, is meant the gracious covenant of God, whereby he offers pardon and peace to such as will accept them.

Now this acceptance is twofold;

1. Cordial; which intitles a person to all the benefits of the covenant, temporal, spiritual, and eternal.

And, 2. Professionally only; whcih intitles a person and his seed to church privileges only.

Hence learn, That when God takes believing parents into covenant with himself, he takes also their children or seed into covenant with himself likewise. And if so, then the seal of the covenant, which is baptism, ought to be applied to them. It is evident, that under the Old Testament, children were in covenant with God, as well as their parents.

And do we anywhere find that ever they were cast out under the gospel?

The apostle doth not say, The promise was unto you and to your seed; but still it; for otherwise children would be in a worse condition under the gospel of Christ, than they were under the law of Moses; but surely the privileges of the gospel are not straiter and narrower than those of the law.

Observe, lastly, How St. Peter closes all with an exhortation to his auditors, to save themselves from that untoward generation; that is, from the Scribes and Pharisees, that sour sort of men, who desperately and maliciously opposed Christ and his gospel, and by their authority and example, kept people from embracing the only way of salvation revealed by Jesus Christ.


Verse 41

Observe here, 1. The wonderful success of St. Peter's sermon: About three thousand were converted to the profession of the Christian religion in one day, by hearing a single sermon.

How many thousands of sermons have been since preached, without the conversion of a single person! Oh! what an high holiday was this memorable day in heaven!

This All Saints Day was a festival of great solemnity there, where there is joy over one sinner that repenteth. But here did concur several advantages, to render St. Peter's sermon more effectual.

1. The sufferings of our Saviour were so near in place, and so late in time, that his wounds were still fresh bleeding in the guilty memories of the people now assembled.

2. The present miracle of tongues bestowed on St. Peter, and his unlearned compnions, did wonderfully make way for the word delivered.

And, 3. His auditors were devout men, Acts 2:5 ignorant enough by yet brought with them minds fairly disposed for information and conviction.

4. The Holy Spirit wrought now extraordinarily by and with the word, and caused this miraculous immprovement. How did our Saviour fulfill his promise to his disciples, Greater works than these shall ye do, when I go to my Father. John 14:12.

Now was Peter the disciple above his Master in success; Christ all his life-time was angling for a few fishes, whilst St. Peter comes with his drag-net and catches three thousand at one cast.

Observe, 2. These three thousand were baptized by the same day in which they were converted, and probably in the same place, which was at Jerusalem; either in the temple, or in some house, where the sermon was preached. We need not inquire, whether the apostles did it by dipping or sprinkling, both being lawful: but this may be said, it is hard to guess how such a quantity of water could be brought to the place, as might serve for the decent dipping of three thousand persons in so short a time.

And, upon supposition that the water was not brought to them, but they went down to that; baptizing so many by dipping, would have required a week rather than a day to dispatch it in.


Verse 42

Which words give us an account of the behaviour of the first Christians, particularly in their religious assemblies, and of the way of worship used in the church of Jerusalem, the true mother church in the time of the apostles.

Where observe, 1. The doctrine which they adhered to, the doctrine of the apostles; that is, the doctrine delivered by Christ, and taught by the apostles, and contained in the holy scriptures. This was the rule which the first Christians governed themselves by, both as to faith and manners. It was infinite wisdom in God to inspire holy men for committing this doctrine to writing, and not to leave it to the hazardous and uncertain way of tradition.

Observe, 2. The steady adherence of the first Christians, to this doctrine of the apostles; They continued stedfastly in it; that is, they were constant hearers of it, and attendants upon it; they received it not upon trust, but due examination.

Learn hence, That religion being the great interest and common concern of mankind, he that espoused it aright, must first understand and examine the fundamental grounds and principles of it, and then chuse accordingly; otherwise our adherence to the best religion in the world, will rather be the result of chance then of judgment and choice.

Observe, 3. They continued stedfast in fellowship: This may signify and import three things:

1. Their communion with the apostles, their keeping close to their own teachers, in opposition to schism, which is a causeless and therefore a culpable separation: they were obedient to their spiritual governors and instructors.

2. Their society among themselves, and communion one with another; as the communion of saints in heaven is a considerable part of the happiness of heaven, so the fellowship of saints on earth is a sort of heaven upon earth: The comfort of our lives depends much upon society, but more upon the suitableness of society. The primitive saints were all of one mind, and therefore fit to make one body. For though man loves company, yet it is company of those he loves.

3. Mutual assistance which they gave and received, a communication or free distribution to the necessities of each other; they did by love serve one another, and parted with their possessions for the support of each other: This liberality, and mutual supplying one antoher's wants, did plainly shew, that they esteemed themselves as fellow members of the same body, and that they were perfectly united in heart and affection.

Observe, 4. Another religious office in which they continued constant, was breaking of bread; that is, receiving the sacrament. So great and fervent was the devotion of the first Christians, that none of their religious assemblies passed, in which they did not make this solemn commemoration of our Saviour, and shew forth his death; looking upon their other religious service as lame and defective without this. Our Saviour's blood was still warm, and those first Christians kept it so, by their devout and frequent remembrances of it; and it was their constancy in breaking of bread, which quickened and put life into all their religious actions: This fitted them both for doing and dying.

Their frequent drinking of the blood of Christ fired them with zeal for shedding their blood for Christ. Lord! what reason can men now give for neglecting so holy and useful an institution? Are we above these helps to a good life which they used? Have we not as much need to arm ourselves against sin and temptations as they had? But the plain truth is, Men are not willing to be so holy now, as they were then.

This ordinance, their consciences tell them, would engage them to greater strictness of life than they are willing to undergo. They must leave their sins, which they are loath to part with; they must forgive their enemies, whom they had rather be revenged of; they must enter into new engagements, whereas they had rather be at liberty; So that those things which make men loath to come to the sacrament, are indeed, if duly considered, the greatest arguments to draw them thither; and according to the example of these primitive Christians, to be constant in breaking of bread.

Observe, 5. The last thing which they continued stedfast and constant in was prayer: that is, in the public and solemn addresses made to God in the religious assemblies, whereby they poured out their souls to God, both in prayer and supplication, and in praise and thanksgivings.

The public prayers and intercessions of the church of Christ, are greatly to be esteemed by all Christians; they glorify God most, he esteems and accepts them best: This keeps up a sense of God and religion in the world, and nothing delights God more than the joint prayers and praises of his people. The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all performances in the dwellings of Jacob. Psalms 87:2


Verse 43

Observe here, 1. What awful respect God obliged the people of Jerusalem to pay unto the apostles: Fear came upon every soul, at the sight of those wonders and signs which were wrought by the apostles. 'Tis God that keeps up the authority and reverence of his ministers in the minds of their people: Did not he hold these stars in his own right hand, how soon would men trample them under their feet?

Observe, 2. An extraordinary instance of a noble charity among these primitive Christians; They had all things common; that is, they chose rather to part with their estates, than that any of their brethren should want; the rich very readily sold their possessions and goods to help and relieve the poor.

Yet note, 1. That this community was not of all their goods, but of that part only which everyone did voluntarily consecrate and devote to the relief of the church's goods that was here practiced; but, by all things, we are to understand, such things as every one freely laid aside for the service of the poor.

Note, 2. That this practice was only used in Jerusalem, in the beginning of Christianity, without being a precedent for after times and places. Res quce erat temporaria necessitatis et liberi arbitrii, non debet in exemplum trahi, multo minus ut necessaria obtrudi.

Christ's gospel doth not destroy the moral law; the eighth commandment is still in force, which it could not be, if there were no property. The lesson for your instruction, to be gathered from this instance, is this, That they who have ability ought to abound always in ordinary, and sometimes in extraordinary works of charity: We must always relieve the saints' wants as we are able, and sometimes, upon an extraordinary occasion, above what we are well able.


Verse 46

This chapter concludes with giving us an account how these primitive Christians spent their time together in the service of God, and in great simplicity and sincerity amongst themselves. They continued daily in the temple; that is, at the usual time of prayer they joined with the Jews in their prayer in the temple: We must not think that they preached sermons, and administered sacraments in the temple; that would not be endured as appeareth Acts 4:1.

But having performed their public devotions daily in the temple at the accustomed times of prayers there, they used to resort to a private and particular place to celebrate the Lord's supper, and afterwards took their ordinary and necessary repast with gladness and singleness of heart.

And thus these holy Christians conversing together with great simplicity, and sincerity, they went on cheerfully in their Christian course, praising God for what he had done for them and by them; and their holy and harmless conversation procured them favour with the generality of the people, who had not their hearts possessed with the prejudice against Christianity, as the Pharisees had. And thus, by the purity blameableness of their lives, the Lord daily added more and more converts to his infant Christian church.

Learn thence, That the work of a thorough and saving conversion upon the hearts, and in the lives of men, is God's work. It was not the mighty rushing wind, nor the miracle of the fiery cloven tongues, nor St. Peter's sermon, not any of these, nor all of these, that did or could alone produce this great effect without God, and the internal operation of his Holy Spirit. Therefore it is expressly said, That the Lord added to the church, not St. Peter, nor all the apostles.

Yet note, 2. That though God and his Holy Spirit be the author and efficient cause, yet the preaching of the gospel, and an exemplary conversation agreeably thereunto, were the subordinate helps and instrumental means conducing thereunto. The continued daily in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart. And thereby the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

 


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Bibliography Information
Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Acts 2:4". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/acts-2.html. 1700-1703.

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