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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Acts 3

 

 

Verse 1

1. Peter and John—The two pre-eminent apostolic leaders; the eldest and the youngest, probably, of the noble twelve. Together at the last supper they had consulted the Saviour as to who was his betrayer; and together at the last breakfast (John 21:18) they had received from Jesus the intimation of their respective futurities.

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Into the temple—The word temple, in its narrower sense, designated simply the holy house of God. This house was the residence of King Jehovah, (2 Samuel 7:6,) who dwelt by his presence in its Holy of Holies, and the courts were his enclosed grounds. In the holy front room of the house were his candlestick for light, his table and bread, and his perfumery the altar of incense. In front of the house was the grand altar on which the slain animals were roasted, which typified the food of Jehovah. But no image of him was allowed. Thus did Israel teach, in the most conspicuous and costly manner, the personal, yet incorporeal, nature of the true God.

This house was “exceeding magnifical,” “covered all over,” says Josephus, “with plates of gold of great weight, and at the first rising of the sun reflected back a very fiery splendour, and made those who forced themselves to look upon it to turn their eyes away, just as they would have done at the sun’s own rays. But this temple appeared to strangers, when they were at a distance, like a mountain covered with snow; for, as to those parts which were not gilt, they were exceeding white. On its top it had spikes with sharp points, to prevent any pollution of it by birds sitting upon it.” (Note on Matthew 21:12.)

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THE TEMPLE.

In this picture you see in the outer court, which is the Court of the Gentiles, one person. In the Court of the Women are two persons; in the inner, or Men’s Court, are three. These two courts are called collectively the Court of the Israelites. Beyond this, where you see four persons standing, is the Court of the Priests. Near the four persons is the Grand Altar of daily sacrifice. This stands just in front of the portal of the temple house, which rises with a face corresponding to cut, page 42.

But the larger and more common sense of the word temple included all the enclosures on the sacred Mount Moriah, within which, a little northwest of the centre, the edifice stood. The largest enclosure encompassed the whole, and took in the outer court, or court of the Gentiles, beyond which none but a Jew might go on pain of death. The next inner wall closed in the court of the women, so called not because exclusively for females, but because no woman, unless for sacrifice, ever went farther. The third inner wall hemmed in the court of Israel, and the fourth, the court of priests, into which no layman (unless Levite) might enter. In this court of the priests was the sacred house with the great altar, on which, twice a day, morning and evening, a lamb was offered, accompanied by the prayers of the people. (Note on John 1:29.)

Hour of prayer—The Christians still attended, like good Jews, the services of the temple where the sacrifice was still offered. Even St. Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles, who was most efficient in separating Christianity from Judaism, did not object to this in itself, unless the sacrifice of the lamb should be still thought necessary for forgiveness of sin, and so Christ be excluded or slighted. He maintained that while sacrifices might be attended as memorials of a Saviour already slain, they were yet unnecessary, and had been superseded by the actual death of the true victim. James and John, therefore, were not contradicting the future Paul in going to the evening sacrifice of the temple.

The ninth hour— There were in “the holy city” three periods of prayer: the morning, at the third hour, or nine o’clock; the noon, at the sixth hour, or twelve o’clock; the evening, at the ninth hour, or three o’clock. This not precisely; for the Jews began the day at sunrise, and, closing it at sunset, divided the day into twelve parts or expansible hours, of a length corresponding to the length of the day.

As Peter and John came in from the east side, as if from the Mount of Olives, mounting from the brook Kidron they would pass the outermost enclosure through the gate Shushan or Lily; a gate which received its name from the capital of Persia in honor of Cyrus its king, who restored the Jews from Babylon. A picture of that city was inscribed upon the gate. Passing through this gate, our apostles came into the court of the Gentiles. This was a long, spacious area, extending along the four sides, and containing about fifteen or twenty acres. The border of this court had three rows of pillars, lining the wall, covered with a roof. This covered colonnade was called the porch or portico of Solomon, and it was the place where religious conversationists resorted; where assemblies gathered, conferences were held, and discourses delivered. Here Christ frequented, and here it was the Christians of the Acts of the Apostles held their meetings “in the temple.” From here, too, Jesus drove the money changers. (Note on John 2:14.) Crossing the breadth of this court, they mounted a flight of steps and came to a level, at which was the grand gate of Corinthian brass, from its special splendour called the Beautiful, through which they were about to pass into the court of the women. And had they continued in a straight line they would have passed through successive gates, by ascending steps at each gate, through the court of Israel into the court of the priests, to the foot of the grand altar, which stood before the door of the house of God itself.


Verses 1-11

1. The temple miraclehealing the lame-born, Acts 3:1-11.

Though the Pentecost was not transacted in the temple, yet twice did the Lord miraculously offer his church to this house of God before giving it to destruction. First, it was offered by his human angels, these two Apostles, by their miracle and preaching within its very walls. Second, by a visible heavenly angel directing them boldly to enter its doors, and there preach Jesus, Acts 5:19-20. Both times they were rejected by the hierarchy of the nation, but triumphantly sustained by the people. Then there arose the martyr-prophet Stephen, who forewarned that the rejecters should be rejected, and their sanctuary destroyed; and they sealed with his blood the certainty of their own doom.


Verse 2

2. Man lame… was carried—Was being carried. He is borne to the spot while they are walking to it. The cripple and his restorers, unknown to each other, are coming to the same point.

Laid daily—At a path where troops of the benevolent are supposed to pass. There are many irreligious humanitarians who pretend that the Christian Church preaches a great deal, but does little in the cause of humanity. Such a statement is false in fact. Statistics would show that the great current of liberal giving flows from Christian, evangelically Christian, hands. It is in Christian countries almost alone that great benevolent institutions have heretofore existed.

Lame from his mother’s womb—Proof that none but miraculous power could cure him.

Beautiful—The gate entering from the Gentile court into the women’s court. It is remarkable that there was in the city of Constantinople a gate called by the same Greek epithet ‘ ωραια, beautiful, and Constantinople itself was sometimes called καλλιπολις, Beauty-city. Such epithets do not usually displace the ordinary name. Leaving the marble floor of the court of the Gentiles, the apostles ascend a flight of steps to a broad platform called chel, a few steps above which stands the Beautiful gate, and upon which probably also lies the lame-born. It is customary even at the present day in the countries of Europe, especially of papal Europe, to place beggars, sometimes even by public authority, at the doors and gates of churches, hotels, and bridges. Such should never be the case in a well-ordered government, in which Christian principle requires that ample provision, to which all should contribute in proportion to their means, should be legally made for all the truly and necessarily poor. The same Christian principle which in our Saviour’s time required a limitless individual benevolence, requires of Christian governments to make such provisions as shall as far as possible render individual alms-giving unnecessary.


Verse 3

3. About to go in—He lay, therefore, on the chel outside the gate. This platform, chel, really extended entirely round the temple, and was the standing-place in time of war for a line of soldiery. A breastwork lined its edge, so as to form a defensive rampart.

Into the temple—Into the women’s court, where the public worship at the sacrifices was held.

An alms—This English noun has gradually glided from a singular meaning to a plural on account of its terminating in s.


Verse 4

4. Peter—The junior apostle is reverently silent, (John, indeed, never speaks in the book of Acts,) while his senior alone speaks and performs. How graceful is reverence for honored age even in most honored youth!

Fastening his eyes—As if conscious of being prompted, perhaps even impelled, by the Spirit, with a power to perform a miracle upon this perfectly hopeless lame-born.

Look on us—Requiring, at least, a slight conditional response from the lame-born. And this whole solemn process served to mark and demonstrate the proceeding of cause and effect, showing that there was no mere accident, but the intended result of an intentional putting forth of power. (See note on Mark 8:22.) This gaze may, however, be but the glance of the spirit of discerning whether or not the man had faith to be healed. Every scientific physician knows that faith predisposes the patient’s system toward health. “It is,” says the celebrated physiologist, Dr. Carpenter, “to a state of fixed expectation with implicit confidence that we may fairly attribute most, if not all, the cures which have been worked through what has been popularly termed the ‘imagination.’ A couple of bread pills will produce copious purgation, and a dose of red poppy syrup will serve as a powerful narcotic, if the patient have entertained a sufficiently confident expectation of such a result.” This fact, no doubt, accounts completely for a large amount of the miracles of healing in the later Christian Church, especially in nervous cases. The preternatural is the avenue through which the supernatural may reach us. And we may even say that our Lord and his apostles often used the preternatural receptivity of the patient, arising from faith, to pour in upon the patient the supernatural force that worked the miracle. And thus was shadowed the healing of the soul through a similar, yet higher, willing, and expecting spiritual faith.

Paul, at Lystra, selected the cripple for a miracle, “beholding him and perceiving he had faith to be healed,” and, reciprocally, that he himself possessed the miraculous power. So with the elders of the Church, “the prayer of faith,” faith both of the elders and the patient, “shall save the sick.” This gift was a preternaturalism, but hardly, perhaps, a miracle. (See note on Acts 8:24.) That power, we doubt not, still exists in the Church, were it faithfully exerted. The profoundly pious physician often possesses, perhaps, a means of health-giving of which he is unaware. Yet nothing less than true, full miracle could be supposed to restore sight to the blind-born, as did Jesus, or walking to the lame-born, as Peter here, or the cripple-born as Paul at Lystra. It is for this reason that the congenital character of the ailment is carefully stated.


Verse 6

6. Silver… none—Much he had that was better than silver or gold, but of those nothing. He was a penniless, but a rich apostle; nor did he perform his apostolate to fill his coffers. Peter’s exact words are, Silver and gold are not to me. The Aramaic not having the verb to have, uses this mode of expression to signify that verb; we probably have, therefore, a literal Greek translation of Peter’s Aramaic words.

In the name… walk—Literally, in the name of Jesus, Messiah, the Nazarene, rise and walk. The highest and the humblest earthly epithets of the Lord are here combined in this act. Each movement and every exact word seem given by Luke as if himself present, and emphasizing this as a most important miracle.


Verse 7

7. And lifted him up—This clause is of doubtful genuineness, and may well be omitted. The man was not raised up, but, according to the next verse, when touched by the apostle’s hand sprang up.


Verse 8

8. Leaping up—His first spring as the apostle lifted him, before he stood; as if the conscious strength to rise came into his feet and ankles like a quick throb.

Stood—A moment, as if to be sure of himself.

Walked—Or rather, in the present tense, walks in a regular style, like any body else.

Into the temple—Through the gate Beautiful into the women’s court of worship.

Leaping—Springs of involuntary joy united with rapturous shouts of praise, not to the apostles but to God. He goes in the right direction, he has the right spirit, and his happy disorderly action is quite pardonable even in the solemn place of prayer.


Verse 9

9. All the people—Even within the holy court a general attention, not of a disorderly populace, but of the worshippers in Jerusalem, rests upon the happy, restless shouter.


Verse 10

10. They knew—His was a case like that of the blind man, (John ix,) of long standing and great notoriety, notorious especially to those who had often contributed to the beggar at the gate.


Verse 11

11. Held Peter and John—Luke presupposes that as they went into the temple (Acts 3:8) worship and sacrifice were duly performed, and that they are now returning out. The lame-born during that time held, that is, closely adhered, or clung, to the apostles, and thereby marked them out to the devout multitude as authors of the deed.

All the people—The out-coming worshippers.

Ran together—Collected in a dense crowd.

Porch… called Solomon’s—It was in the previous winter, probably, (as John narrates,) that John saw a crowd surround Jesus in a similar manner as this company surround himself and Peter in this same Solomon’s Porch. (See notes on John 10:23.)

Solomon’s Porch, as above noted, was formed by the rows of pillars sustaining a roof of Lebanon cedar parallel to and joining upon the inner side of the great eastern wall of the court of the Gentiles through its whole length. It bore the name of Solomon either because it was a part of Solomon’s original work, or, more probably, because it was based upon the ground of a filled-up valley, upon which ground stood, in the first temple, a similar porch built by Solomon. The crowd has therefore moved from the court of the women across the court of the Gentiles, on its way out of the temple enclosures.


Verses 12-26

2. Peter’s Third Speechthat in Solomon’s Porch, Acts 3:12-26.

Peter promptly avails himself, in this bold speech, (made perhaps from some elevated platform or position in the porch,) of the great excitement to base Christ upon this miracle. Do you ask what this miracle means? It declares that your Messiah, by whose power it was alone done, has come to you, even He whom you have slain, Acts 3:13-18. The momentous inference is, that you must repent of your crime against him and submit yourselves to his divine authority, Acts 3:19-26.


Verse 13

13. The God of Abraham—This is no foreign false miracle opposed to Jehovah and condemned by Moses; on the contrary it is in the Abrahamic line, under the sanction of God, and by the true Messiah. Peter presents next a striking series of contrasts, which at once honour Jesus and condemn his Jewish hearers. God glorified Jesus; they surrendered him. Pilate would have freed him, and they denied him. They rejected the Holy One, and preferred a murderer. They destroyed the life of the Prince of Life. They killed, but God raised to life.

His Son. Rather, παιδα, servant, the Septuagint epithet of the Messiah in Isaiah 40:65, and therefore a claim of Messiahship for Jesus.


Verse 15

15. Prince—Compounded of ‘ αρχη, beginning, or origin, and αγω, to lead; the word may signify prime author or original source. But as a military term it may signify prime leader or general. So Hebrews 2:10, “Captain of our salvation.” This last meaning designates Jesus as leading his followers in the way of life.

Witnesses—Notes on Acts 2:32 and Luke 1:2. And the miracle just performed rendered its performers conclusive witnesses of the resurrection miracle; doubly so from the fact of Christ’s real authorship of the miracle, affirmed next verse.


Verse 16

16. Name—His name as uttered by us was the mediate cause; his divine self, called by that humble name, is the primal, real cause. Jesus was therefore present in the deed and in this assembly.

Through faith—The connecting link between this deed and its divine Author is our faith. The faith of these witnesses renders them receptive of the divine power, and becomes the avenue through which the divine energy streams into them.

By him—Or through him. This faith, though exercised by us, is truly through his beneficence made possible to us.

Presence of you all—Visible to your own eyes is the demonstration of the divine power which we affirm! If this man is sound, Jesus is the risen Messiah! And if Jesus is Messiah, then your Messiah have you murdered!


Verse 17

17. At the climax of the crime Peter skilfully and gently places the palliation.

Brethren—Descendants of the same our fathers, Acts 3:13.

Wot—know.

Ignorance—How far excusable, see note on Luke 23:34. Repentance is not the child of despair; and so Peter softens his language in order to melt these hearts to a genial penitence. But if ignorance retained them within the scope of pardon, it is full time for them now to know, Acts 2:36. A preached Gospel brings its new responsibilities, and under liabilities to deeper condemnation.

Also… rulers—Brought in to prepare the next remark. Christ’s death, both as a private and a state procedure, wrought through a common ignorance, was foreseen by God and interwoven into his divine plan.


Verse 18

18. All—A suggestive term of universality. The whole Old Testament is a one prophet to Christ. All the special prophecies of old Scripture, about lesser persons and objects, are but subsidiary and supporting to the prophecies of Christ. The passages that pre-delineate him are the keystone of the whole prophetic arch. That

Christ should suffer—That the Messiah should be a suffering Messiah. Peter’s words glance at the objection ready to rise to every Jewish mouth, “Jesus the Messiah! Why he was put to death by law, and our Messiah is to be glorious king of Israel.” Aye, but the prophets all agree that he “should suffer.” Your slaying him proves not that he is not Messiah. He…

fulfilled—Not by directly obliging the deed; not by decreeing it; but by admitting others’ foreseen wicked deeds into accomplishing his great and wonderful purpose.


Verse 19

19. Repent ye therefore—Such is the bold inference from the whole, pushed with a home thrust upon them. Great is this Jesus, great your crime against him; but his greatness stole upon you in a humble guise, and the excuse of ignorance renders pardon possible; therefore, repent ye! Identify yourselves with the Messiah you have murdered.

Repent—The literal meaning of the Greek word for repentance, μετανοια, is after-thought, implying in its sacred use that change of mind by which we renounce the evil and adopt the good with a perfect purpose and effect. It here specially refers to the renunciation of their one great sin, and is properly followed by Be converted, which refers to their turning about from Judaism to Christianity.

Blotted out—Rather wiped out, a metaphor borrowed principally from wiping off oil from any surface; thence, to erase from waxen tablets or written parchments any record.

When—’ οπως αν, which should most unquestionably be translated in order that. They should repent unto the wiping out of their sins in order that, 1. times, etc., may come, and, 2. (Acts 3:20,) He may send Christ, etc. Both the times of refreshing and the sending of Christ are plainly described as having some dependence on their repentance and conversion. Hence arises the not unscriptural idea that the time of Christ’s second advent is conditional upon human conduct. (Note on Acts 1:7.) But it is the blessed side of that advent rather which is here conditional. Times of refreshing and Christ’s glorious coming to us may depend upon our repentance and faith.

Times of refreshing—The literal meaning of the Greek Word αναψυξις, for refreshing, signifies a cooling after intense heat, or a recovery from exhaustion of labour. Hence, spiritually, the repose of the blessed after the labour of life. A similar but not the same Greek word is used by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 1:7, to designate the blessed rest, or repose from persecution, of the righteous at the second coming of Christ. And in Paul’s language, while the blessed side of the coming of Christ is described as rest, the adverse side, namely, to the wicked, is also described as destruction. And it is remarkable that the destruction in Thessalonians, like the refreshing here, comes from the presence of the Lord. Peter here speaks, as was usual in the apostolic Church, with that vivid conception of the second advent as if its immediate shadow was cast upon the present.

Some interpreters apply this word refreshing to times of religious revival like the day of Pentecost. This would make a good meaning; but there is no indication of such a use in Scripture.


Verse 20

20. And he shall send—In order that he may send.

Before was preached—It is generally agreed now that the true reading here is, which was chosen or appointed. The same Greek word occurs in Acts 22:14, “Hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will,” and Acts 26:16, “To make (or choose) thee a minister.” The verse should read: And (in order that) he may send the chosen Jesus Messiah unto you. The unto you depends upon send.


Verse 21

21. Heaven must receive—The Jews held but one coming of Christ, and Peter, in order to correct their view, declares that he must remain in heaven until a second advent. There was a great debate among expositors whether, according to the Greek, Jesus was to take possession of heaven or heaven was to receive him. The former is the loftier expression; but the latter, as impartial scholars generally agree, is the better Greek.

Times of restitution of all things—Great differences of opinion have existed in regard to the nature of this restitution, and consequently in regard to the meaning of this entire verse.

1. The millenarian view of a renovation of the earth at Christ’s second coming, and the resurrection of the righteous dead gloriously to reign with Christ a thousand years before the resurrection and judgment of the wicked. To all this an obvious objection is, that this could be no restoration of all things, since the vast majority of the dead are not restored to life, and ultimate justice is not done in the earth.

2. A better view, well elucidated by Limborch and, lately, by Dr. Fairbairn, relieves this difficulty. It supposes the resurrection of all the dead and the general judgment, in which all things are restored to the absolute reign of God. Thereby the very first prophecy that Satan’s head should be bruised by the seed of the woman is completely fulfilled, and all the prophetic announcements of God’s judgment in righteousness revolve their final consummation.

3. But to both these interpretations of the word restitution there are serious objections. First, by way of Greek criticism, we may say that in the phrase παντων ων, all things which, it is perfectly inadmissible that a writer or speaker should not see that the reader or hearer would naturally, from the very sound, unite them (“by attraction,” as grammarians say) as antecedent and relative. Which, therefore, cannot refer to times, but to all things. Second, such a phrase as times… which God hath spoken(making times the antecedent of which) is neither Greek nor English. What can be meant by times… spoken? Spoken must require for its object some sort of utterance. We cannot speak times, but only words. Third, we are forced hereby to a meaning of the Greek αποκαταστασις, given by Hesychius, namely, fulfilment, or consummation, or, rather, as the noun is a verbal one, fulfilling or consummating. And then we have the clear meaning: until (or rather during) the times of the fulfilling of all things… spoken… by his prophets. Fourth, this translation alone renders the connection with the following verse immediate and natural. By either of the former constructions the thought has landed us at the close of Acts 3:21 beyond the second advent; whereas, as will be shown in our next notes, the real stand-point of Acts 3:22-24 is, in these days. Until—Until, αχρι, an event may be until its beginning or until its close. Thus in Acts 20:6, we have in the Greek until five days, that is, during or until the end of five days. And Acts 12:11 until (the end of) a season. And so we here render it until (the end of) or during the fulfilling of all things spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets. Christ shall come at the closing up of the great Messianic ages to which all prophecy points since the world began.

The word restoration, that is, recovery from a depreciated state to a former better, very easily verges into the sense of fulfilment or verification. When a promise or prediction is made, the author of it commits his veracity or fidelity to the accomplishment of the result, and the fulfilment, as we say, makes it good, restores the committed veracity to its unquestioned state. So the fulfillment of all the prophecies is the making good, the restoration of their pledged veracity to its uncommitted state. This interpretation is imperatively required: 1. By the correspondence with Acts 3:18. There Christ’s sufferings are declared to be a fulfilment required by all prophecy, and here his stay in heaven is in fulfilment of all prophecy, which furnishes a solution of the difficulty why the Messiah is gone to heaven, and tells how long he is to be absent. 2. By Christ’s prediction of the earth-wide spread of the preached Gospel, Acts 1:8; by the universality of the pentecostal symbols, (Note on Acts 2:4;) and by Peter’s intimation in his former speech Acts 2:39. And all these points are in conclusive disproof of what Renan claims, and even Pressense too forwardly admits—the positive apostolic belief of the immediateness of the second advent. (See supplementary note to Matthew 25.) Since the world began—A very unsuitable rendering of the Greek απ αιωνος, from of old. (See note on Luke 1:70.) Same Greek phrase at Acts 15:18.


Verse 22

22. For—This word connects 22-26 with Acts 3:21. Jesus must stay in heaven while the prophecies of Moses, Samuel, and all are being fulfilled— that is, during the these days (Acts 3:24) of Gospel probation.

A Prophet— Peter in this and the following verse gives the substance in brief of Deuteronomy 18:15-19, in which God by Moses promises a prophet yet to come like unto Moses. By Jews, and rationalists, semi-rationalists, and even, strange to say, by some evangelic divines, this prophecy has been held to predict, either solely or secondarily, not Christ nor any single prophet, but a line of prophets. Kuinoel asserts this to be proved conclusively by its context. On the contrary we submit:

1. The Jewish writers themselves maintained a single prophet to be meant, and he the Messiah, until the application of it to Jesus induced them to invent a different interpretation. The Samaritans, also, who, even to the present day, hold to a Messiah to come. (see note on John 4:25,) and who derived the doctrine from the Pentateuch. (since they rejected all the other Old Testament hooks,) must have drawn it from this passage. Candid rationalists would admit that such expressions as “the prophet,” John 7:40, “Messias cometh,” John 4:25, “that prophet that should come,” John 6:14, are good proof of the prevalent interpretation found at Christ’s first coming. We may therefore assume that a single prophet, and he the Messiah, was found in this text by the ancient Jewish Church.

2. A single prophet, and not a line of prophets, is the undeniable import of the words of the text, Deuteronomy 18:15-19. The singular alone, and the singular repeated in various forms and connexions, is in express terms used. Not the slightest hint is given of a collective or plural sense. “A prophet,” “a prophet like unto me,” “him,” “his mouth,” “he,” etc. In saying that a single prophet is meant, we only say that what is said is meant.

3. But, it is replied, the context shows that Jehovah is warning Israel against necromancers and other false foretellers, Acts 3:9-14, and as against them he promises a line of true prophets, Acts 3:15-19, and a test of false prophets, Acts 3:20-22. But, asks Kuinoel, in warning them against soothsayers, what force was there in telling them that God would hereafter raise up a Messiah? Very great force, we reply. Moses assures them that, 1. That prophet would be not like the ordinary prophets, such as existed during his own day (Numbers 11:24-29) and formerly, (Genesis 20:7; Judges 1:14,) but one like unto himself; a mediator-prophet, standing thee to face with God, and so a standard prophet, the expectation of whom should be a conserving rule and regulation for their faith, and a test against all pretenders. A Messiah future should be their regulator, as Messiah past is ours. 2. God would “raise him up unto thee,” “from the midst of thee, of thy brethren.” That is, the faith-ruling standard prophet should be an Israelite and in Israel; therefore need they never go to foreign nations, whose predictions were not to be authenticated by any mediator-prophet, and were therefore unreliable and dangerous. And so even at the present day Christ, the true God incarnate, and his Church of all ages from Moses until now, with their holy revelation, furnish our standard and test by which we decide that all miracles not agreeing with them are either juggles, or works of Satan or satanic beings, human or otherwise. The grand antidote to all demonism in both Jewish and Christian Church is Christ.

And then in Acts 3:20-22 Moses furnishes the test by which they should judge an ordinary Jewish prophet; just as in Acts 3:9-14 he had given a sweeping warning against all the predictions of the foreign sort. It is plain that the “a prophet” of Acts 3:22 means any prophet, and not the prophet “like unto me” of Acts 3:15.

4. By a prophet “like unto me” cannot merely be meant “a prophet just as I am one,” but a prophet of extraordinary nature. He must be a prophet that could face the very blaze and thunder of Horeb, before which, even in the distance, Israel, with all her ordinary prophets, trembled and shrunk. He must be no prophet of mere inspiration, or vision, or dream; but a prophet looking in the face of Jehovah. Other prophets might be disobeyed with impunity; but whoso obeys not this one, dies.

5. If, then, as is unquestionably the case, a one great personage, a Messiah, is predicted by many passages in the Old Testament, there can be no just excuse for declining to assign this passage to that class. And how wonderfully the position and character of Moses do shadow forth those of the human Jesus is shown in Bishop Newton’s chapter on this passage with great force, but at too great length for our space. If such a thing as true supernatural prediction ever existed this is one, truly applied by Peter in his present words.

Like unto me—Christ was mainly, like Moses, the founder of a dispensation. Under each, the theocracy or kingdom of God was in form, and largely in spirit, reconstructed. There arose nothing like either between their two existences on earth. And hence, reasoning from a Christian standpoint, we could hardly fail to expect that there should be, as it were, a divine sympathy between them, and that there should be vouchsafed to the former some prophetic anticipations of the latter.

Shall ye hear—So that Peter has an order from Moses enjoining upon these Jews to hear Jesus. And the adducing this prophecy was a powerful stroke in the Christian argument. The claim of the Jews against Jesus would be that his miracles infringed against Moses and the law and were, therefore, demoniac. This prophecy avers that Jesus is not only in the line of Moses, but was personally predicted by Moses as the second highest founder, who was to be obediently heard. He is not to be tested by any other thing or being, but is the supreme test for all.

All things—Even should he in fulfilling render obsolete something of Moses.


Verses 22-26

22-26. Peter now contemplates those prophecieswhich are being fulfilled during the Saviour’s residence in heaven, namely, during these days of probation under the Christian dispensation—of a predicted, and once present, but now absent Christ.


Verse 23

23. Destroyed from among—In the Hebrew, I will require it of him. Both expressions designate destruction under the divine wrath. Compare 2 Thessalonians 1:9.


Verse 24

24. All—See note on Acts 3:18.

From Samuel—Between Moses and Samuel prophecy was mostly withdrawn. In 1 Samuel 2:10; 1 Samuel 2:35, the Messiah (Anointed) or Christ is first mentioned. Before David, Moses is the type of the coming one; after king David, Messiah is imaged as a king.

These days—So that it is of these days, the days before the second advent, that all his holy prophets in Acts 3:21 have spoken. That is, the times of the αποκαταστασις or fulfilment spoken of in Acts 3:21 are these days of the present Gospel probation and of waiting for the judgment advent at the end of this world.


Verse 25

25. Children of the prophets—As Jews the prophets are your ancestors, and you are, unlike Gentiles, their children, heirs to the blessings they predicted on the chosen race.

Of the covenantGenesis 17:2. The agreement, compact, or covenant between God and Abraham, including his seed after him, pledged obedience on one side and blessing from the other. In form it was often absolute, in essence it was conditional.

In thy seedGenesis 22:18. Thy seed or posterity, including the Messiah preeminently though not exclusively.

All the kindreds—As this prophecy is shown by the historic result to cover these our Christian ages, so it follows that the these days of Acts 3:24 and the times of Acts 3:21 are within these same mundane Christian ages, antecedent to the second advent of Christ.


Verse 26

26. Unto you first—See note on Matthew 10:5. To the Jews, as the ancient theocracy, the Gospel was to be first presented that they might be the main body of the theocracy still. Christ was their birthright until they had fully rejected him. But when they fully, like Judas, betrayed and rejected him, like Judas they were cast away and another came into the birthright. The churchdom, the covenant, all the promises, went to the heirs by faith, who now became the true Israel.

First—Implying that Jesus would be sent to the Gentiles next. Peter fully understood from the teachings of Jesus that the Gentiles should be called; the real error of the apostles was the supposition that the Gentiles were to be circumcised and become Jews. (See note on Acts 10:1.)

Turning… every one of you—It was a weak cavil of the Jewish advocate Orobio that Jesus could not be Messiah because he did not, as according to this passage, turn every one of them from sin. The same sophism is persistently used by modern Universalism. It ignores the fact that even according to the Old Testament (for instance, Ezekiel 33:11) the purposes of God’s mercy, being conditional upon man’s consent, are often not fulfilled. Christ was sent to turn them under proviso, often expressed and always implied, that they consent to be turned. They cannot turn unless he turn them; he cannot turn them unless they turn.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Acts 3:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/acts-3.html. 1874-1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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