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Peter shews that all the prophets
prophesied of Christ.
AlM'ciT:vit6' 42 And * he commanded us to preach
A.D. cir. 42. r
An. oiymp. unto the people, and to testify b that cir. ccv. 2. jt js ne wnicn was ordajned 0f God to
be the Judge of c quick and dead. 43 d To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name, c whosoever believeth in
* Matt. 28. 19,20. ch. 1. 8. » John 5. 22,27. ch. 17.31. • Rom.
14.9,19. 2 Cor. 5.10. 2 Tim. 4.1. 1 Pet. 4. 3 « Isai. 53. 11. Jer.
31. 34. Dan. 9. 24.
Witnesses chosen before of God] That is, God chose such men to attest this fact, as were every way best qualified to give evidence on the subject; persons who were always to be found; who might at all times be confronted with those, if any such should offer themselves, who could pretend to prove that there was any imposture in this case; and persons, who, from the very circumstances in which they were placed, must appear to have an absolute conviction of the truth of all they attested. The first preachers of the gospel must be the witnesses of its facts: and these first preachers must be put in such circumstances as to demonstrate, not only that they had no secular end in view, nor indeed could have any; but also that, they should be able to evince that they had the fullest conviction of the reality of the eternal world, and of their Master's existence in glory there; as they carried their lives continually in their hands, and regarded them not, so that they might fulfil the ministry which they had received from their Lord, and finish their course with joy.
But why was not Christ, after his resurrection, shewn to all the people? 1. Because it was impossible that such a thing could be done without mob and tumult. Let it only be announced "Here is the man who was dead three days, and who is risen from the dead!" what confusion would be the consequence of such an exposure f Some would say, This is he; others, He is like him, and so on; and the valid testimony must be lost in the confusion and multitude. 2. God chose such witnesses, whose testimony should be unimpeachable; the men who knew him best, and who by their depositions in proof of the fact, should evidently risk their lives; and, 3. as multitudes are never called to witness any fact, but a fete selected from the rest, whose knowledge is most accurate, and whose veracity is unquestionable; therefore, God shewed not Christ risen from the dead, to all the people, but to witnesses chosen by himself, and they were such as perfectly knew him before, and who ate and drank with him after his resurrection; and consequently had the fullest proof and conviction of the truth of this fact.
Verse 42. And he commanded us to preach'] By thus assuring them that Jesus Christ was appointed to judge the world, he at once shewed them the necessity of subjection to him, that they might stand in the day of his appearing.
The Judge of quick and dead.] The word quick we retain
him, shall receive remission of sins. A-m-"'-40'6
44 I While Peter yet spake these An. oiymp. words, fthe Holy Ghost fell on all cif- ccv- '• them which heard the word.
45 s And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with
Mic. 7. 18. Zech. 13. 1. Mai. 4. 2. cb. 26. 22. » ch. 15. 9. &
26. 18. Rom. 10.11. Gal. a 22. 'ch. 4.31. & 8.15,16, 17. &. 11.15.
« ver. 23.
from our ancient mother tongue, the Saxon epican, to live, hence epic and cpica, life, and epice, grass: and from this our quicks, owtcA-set-hedges, fences made of living thorns, &c. By quick and dead, we are to understand, 1. all that had lived from the foundation of the world, till that time; and all that were then alive. 2. All that should be found alive at the day of judgment, as well as all that had died previously.
Verse 43. To him give all the prophets tzitness] See Isai. ix. 6. Hi. 7. liii. 5, 6. lix. 20. Jer. xxxi. 34. Dan. ix. 24. Mic. vii. 18, &c. and Zech. xiii. 1. As Jesus Christ was the sum and substance of the law, and the Mosaic dispensation; so all the prophets bore testimony, either directly or indirectly to him; and indeed without him and the salvation he has promised, there is scarcely any meaning in the Mosaic ceconomy, nor in most of the allusions of the prophets.
Remission of sins.] The phrase wptirtv a.u.a.priu>v, means simply the taking away of sins; and this does not refer to the guilt of sin, merely; but also to its power, nature, and consequences. All that is implied in pardon of sin, destruction of its tyranny, and purification from its pollution, is here intended : and it is wrong to restrict such operations of mercy, to pardon alone.
Verse 44. While Peter yet spake] It is not very likely that the words recorded by St. Luke are all that the apostle spoke on this occasion: but while he continued to discourse with them on this subject, the Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the word; and his descent was known by their being enabled to speak with different kinds of tongues. In what manner this gift was bestowed, we cannot tell; probably it was in the same way in which it had been given on the day of Pentecost; for as they spake with tongues, which was the effect of the descent of the Spirit, as flaming tongues on the heads of the disciples, on the day of Pentecost; it is very likely that the same appearance now took place.
Verse 45. They of the circumcision—were astonished] Because it was a maxim with them, that the Shechinah or divine influence could not be revealed to any person who dwelt beyond the precincts of the promised land. Nor did any of them believe that the Divine Spirit could be communicated to any Gentile. It is no wonder, therefore, that they were amazed when they saw the Spirit of God so liberally given, as it was on this occasion.
Verse 46. And magnify God.~\ They had got new hearts is well as neza longuet; and having believed with the heart unto righteousness, their tongues made confession unto salvation; and God was magnified for the mercy which he had imparted.
Verse 47. Can amy man forbid water] These had evidently received the Holy Ghost, and consequently were be- > come members of the mystical body of Chtist; and yet St. Peter requires that they shall receive baptism by tcater, that they might become members of the Christian church. In other cases, they received baptism first, and the Spirit after-' wards, by the imposition of hands: see chap. xix. 4—6. where the disciples who had received only the baptism of John, were baptized again with zcaler in the name of the Lord Jesus; and after even this, the apostles prayed, and laid their hands on them, before they were made partakers of the Holy Ghost. So we find that Jesus Christ had his water baptism, as well as John: and that even he who gave the baptism of the Holy Ghost, required the administration of water baptism also. Therefore the baptism of the Spirit did not supersede the baptism by water; nor indeed can it; as baptism, as well as the supper of our Lord were intended not only to be means of grace; but standing irrefragable proofs of the truth of Christianity.
Verse 48. To be baptvxd in the name of the Lord.'] That is, in the name of Jesus Christ; which implied their taking upon them the public profession of Christianity • and believing on Christ Jesus as their saviour and sovereign; for as they were baptized in his name, they professed thereby to be his disciples and followers.
Then prayed they him to tarry cet tain days."] They felt the necessity of farther instruction, and prayed him to continue his ministry a little longer among them; and to this he no doubt consented. This was, properly speaking, the commencement of the Christian church, as composed of Jews and Gentiles, partaking of the same baptism, united under the same Head, made partakers of the same Spirit; and associated in the same aggregate body. Now was the middle wall of partition broken down, and the Gentiles admitted to the same privileges with the Jews.
1. God is wonderful in all his works, whether they be works of creation, providence, or grace. Every thing proclaims his power, his wisdom, and his goodness. Every
• 1 Cor. 1. 17,
where we learn this truth, which is indispensably necessary for all to know, who desire to acknowledge God hi all'their ways, that " there is nothing which concerns their present or eternal welfare in which God does not interest himself." We often, to our great spiritual detriment, lose sight of this truth; because we think that the Majesty of God is too great to be occupied with those common occurrences by which we are ofteu much affected, in things which relate not only to our present, but also to our eternal interests. This is impossible; for God is ourfather, and being every where present, he sees our state, and his eye affects his heart.
2. Let the Reader examine the chain of providence, (composed indeed of very minute links), brought to light in the conversion of Cornelius, the instruction of Peter, and opening the door of faith to the Gentiles, and he will be convinced that " God has sway every where, and that all things serve the purposes of his will." We have already seen how particularly, both by gracious and providential workings, God prepared the mind of Cornelius to receive instruction; and the mind of Peter to give it; so that the receiver and giver were equally ready to be workers together with God. Thi» is a general (economy. He who feels his want may rest assured, that even then, God has made the necessary provision for his supply ; and that the very sense of the want, is a proof that the provision is already made. Why then should we lose time in deploring wretchedness, for the removal of which God has made the necessary preparations? Mourning over our miseries, will never supply the lack of faith iu Christ; and very seldom tends even to humble the heart.
3. As the eye of God is ever upon us, he knows our trials as well as our wants; and here also, he makes the necessary provision for our support. We may be called to suffer, but his grace will be sufficient for us; and as our troubles increase, so shall the meaus of our support. And even these trials and temptations will be pressed into our service, for all things work together for good to them that love God, Rom. viii. 28.
4. We must beware neither to despise outward rites in religion, or to rest in them. Most people d# either the one or the other. God gives us outward helps, because he knows we need them. But do we not sometimes imagine ourselves to be above that, which, because of our scantiness of grace, is really above us. We certainly may over-rate ourselves, and wider-rate God's bounties. He who is taught by the Spirit of God will be saved from both.
Peler returns to Jerusalem: he is
THE ACTS, accused of having eaten itrith the Gentiles.
Peter returns to Jerusalem, and is accused of having associated with the Gtntiles, 1—3. lie defends himself, by relating at large the whole business concerning Come ft us, 4—17. His defence is accepted, and the whole church glorifies God for having granted unto the Gentiles repentance unto life, 18. An account of the proceedings of those who were scattered abroad by the persecution that was raised about Stephen; and how they had spread the gospel among the circumcision, in Phcenice, Cyprus, and Antioch, 19—21. The church at Jerusalem, hearing of this, sends Barnabas to confirm them in the faith, 22, 23. His character, 24. He goes to Tarsus, to seek Saul; whom he brings to Antioch, zehere the disciples are first called Christians, 25, 26. Certain prophets foretel the dearth which afterwards took place in the reign of the Emperor Claudius, 27, 28. The disciples send relief to their poor brethren in Judea, by the hands of Barnabas and Saul, 29, 30.
6 Upon the which when I had fas- A:*-dr:*H*
1 A. D. cir. 42.
ND the apostles and brethren that were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.
2 And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, "they that were of the circumcision contended with him,
3 Saying, b Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, c and didst eat with them.
4 But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded itd by order unto them, saying,
5 * I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance 1 saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me: :•;<■>"i •>(!> >.
^_ ,; ■■''....
NOTES ON CHAP. XI.
Verse 1. And the etposlles and brethren thai zcere in Judea'] According to Caltnet, Judea is here put in opposition to Ca;sarea, which, though situated in Palestine, passed for a Greek city, being principally inhabited by Pagans, Greeks, or Syrians.
Verse 2. Contended Kith him] A manifest proof this, that the primitive church at Jerusalem (and no church can ever deserve this name but the Jerusalem church) had no conception of St. Peter's supremacy, or of his being prince of the apostles. He is now called to account for his conduct, which they judged to be reprehensible; and which they would not have attempted to do, had they believed him to be Christ's vicar upon earth, and the infallible head of the church. But this absurd dream is every where refuted in the New Testament.
He vindicates kis eonduct;
and his vindication is accepted.
A.M.cir.4Wi». >vag gent fr0m Cae9area unto me.
A.D. cir.4S.' .
An. oiymp. 12 And * the spirit bade me go with eir.ccv.i. them, nothing doubting. Moreover, k these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man's house.
13 And c he shewed us how he had seen an ang^l in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter;
14 Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.
15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, * as on us at the beginnings ,.
16 Then remembered 1 the word of the
» John 16. 13. ch. 10. 19. & 15. 7. * ch. 10. 93. • ch. 10. 30.
'ch. 2. 4. • Matt 3. 11. Joan 1. 29,33. ch. 1.5, & 19. 4.
ning, and expounded it by order'] E^pntart Ixvtois xA&tlpjf. This is the very style of St. Luke: see his Gospel, chap. i. ver. 3. To remove their prejudice, and to give them the fullest reasons for his conduct, he thought it best to give them a simple relation of the whole affair: which he docs, as we have seen in the preceding chapter, with a few additional circumstances here: see the notes before.
Verse 12. These six brethren] Probably pointing to Ihem, being present, as proper persons to confirm the truth of what he was delivering.
Verse 14. Thou and all thy house shall be saved.] This is an additional circumstance: before, it was said, chap. x. 6. Peter shall tell thee what thou oughlesl to do,- and in ver. 33. aho xchen he cometh shall s]>euk unto thee. JJut in Peter's relation, the matter is more explicitly declared, he shall tell thee icords, whereby thou and thy house shall be saved. He shall announce to you all, the doctrine of salvation.
Verse 16. Ye shall be baptised with the Holy Ghost.] The:>e words are very remarkable. The words of our Lord, as quoted chap. i. 5. to which St.Peter refers here, have been supposed by many to be referred to the apostles alone; but here it is evident, that St. Peter believed they were a promise made to all Christians, i. e. .to all, whether Jews or Gentiles, who should believe on Jesus Christ. Therefore, when he saw that the Holy Ghost fell upon those Gentiles, be considered it a fulfilment of our Lord's promise, ye, that i», all that will believe on me, shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost—not many days hence, i. e. in a short time this Spirit shall be given, which is to abide with you for ever. Hence we learn, that the promise of the Holy Spirit is given to the whole body of Christians; to all that believe on Christ as (lying for their sins, and rising for their justification.
Verse 17. God gave them the like gift, eye] Viz. the Holy
Lord, how that he said, "John in- J>M-Cir:40^
A. I), cir. 42.
deed baptized with water; but ye An.oiymp. shall be baptized with the Holy *'.ccv- *' Ghost.
17 * Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; h what was I, that I could withstand God?
18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, 'Then hath God, also to the Gentiles, granted repentance unto life.
19 H Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen
Spirit, and its various gifts and graces, in the same way, and in the same measure in which he gave them to us Jews. What wa9 I, that I could withstand God? It was not I who called them to salvation: it was God; and the thing is proved to be from God alone, for none other could dispense the Holy Spirit.
Verse 18. They held their peace] Their prejudices were confounded; they considered the subject, and saw that it was from God: then they glorified him, because they saw that he had granted unto the Gentiles repentance unto life. As the word ixeravo/a, which we translate repentance, signifies literally a change of mind, it may be here referred to a change of religious views, &c. And as repentance signifies a change of life and conduct from evil to good, so the word jj.sTa.viix may be used here to signify a change from a false religion to the true one; from idolatry, to the worship of the trueGod. Rosrnmuller thinks, that in several cases, where it is spoken of the Jews, it signifies their change from a contempt of the Messiah, to reverence for him, and the consequent embracing of the Christian religion. .
The Christians, who were present, were all satisfied with St. Peter's account and apology; but it does not appear that all were ultimately satisfied, as we know there were serious disputes in the church afterwards on this very subject. See chap. xv. b, &c. where Christian believers, from among the Pharisees, insisted that it was necessary to circumcise the converted Gentiles, and cause them to keep the law of Moses. This opinion was carried much farther in the church at Jerusalem aftei wards, as may be seen at large in chap. xxi.
Verse 19. The persecution that arose about Stephen] That is, those who were obliged to flee from Jerusalem, at the time of that persecution in which Stephen lost his life. See chap. viii. 1.
Pheenke] Phoenicia, a country between Galilee and Syria, along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, including Tyre, Sidon, &c. It is often mentioned as a part of Syria. See chap. xxi. 2, 3.
Cyprus'] An island of the Mediterranean Sea, over against Syria. See on chap. iv. 36.
Antioch] A city of Syria, built by Antiochus Seleucus, near the river Orontes; at that time one of the most celebrated cities of the East. For the situation of all these, see the Map accompanying this Book.
Unto the Jeics only.] For they knew nothing of the vision of St. Peter; and did not believe that God would open the door of faith to the Gentiles. The next verse informs us, that there were others who were better instructed. See below.
Verse 20. Men of—Cyrene] The metropolis of the Cyrenaica, a country of Africa, bounded on the East by Marmarica, on the West by the Regio Syrtica, on the North by the Mediterranean, and on the South by the Sahara. Cyrene is now called Cairoan. This city, according to Eusebius, was built in the 37th Olympiad, about 630 years before Christ. In consequence of a revolt of its inhabitants, it was destroyed by the Romans; but they afterwards rebuilt it. It was for a long time subject to the Arabs; but is now in the hands of the Turks.
Spake unto the Grecians] 'EKKrjvira.f, the Hellenists. Who these were we have already seen, Acts vi. and ix. 29. viz. Jews living in Greek cities, and speaking the Greek language. But instead of'EWyvtrai Grecians, 'EXA^vay Greeks, is the reading of AD*. Syriac, all the Arabic, Coptic, JEthiopic, Vulgate, some copies of the Hula; Eusebius, Chrysostom, Theophyluct and CEcumenius. On this evidence, Griesbach has admitted it into the text; and few critics entertain any doubt of the genuineness of the reading. This intimates, that besides preaching the gospel to the Hellenistic Jetes, some of them preached it to the heathen Greeks; for were we to adopt the common reading, it would be a sort of actum agere; for it is certain that the Hellenistic Jews had already received the gospel. See chap. vi. 1. And it is likely that these Cyprians and Cyrenians had heard of Peter's mission to Cxsarea; and they followed his example, by offering the
"the hand of the Lord was A.M.dr.tow.
A. D. cir. 42.
21 And with them: and a great number believed, and c turned unto the Lord.
22 1 Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth d Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch:
Christian faith to the heathen. It is worthy of remark, that the Jews generally called all nations of the world Greeks; as the Asiatics, to the present day, call all the nations of Europe, Franks.
Verse 21. The hand of the Lord teas with them] By the hand, arm, and finger of God, in the scripture, different displays or exertions of his power are intended. Here it means, that the energy of God accompanied them, and applied their preaching to the souls of all attentive hearers. Without this accompanying influence, even an apostle could do no good: and can inferior men hope to be able to convince and convert sinners without this? Ministers of the word of God, so called, who dispute the necessity, aud deny the being of this influence, shew thereby, that they are intruders into God's heritage; that they are not sent by him; and shall not profit the people at all.
A great number believed] That Jesus was the Christ; and that he had died for their offences, and risen again for their justification. Because the apostles preached the truth; and the hand of God was with them, therefore, a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord, becoming his disciples, and taking him for their portion.
Verse 22. The church which was in Jerusalem] This was the original, the mother church of Christianity; not the church of Rome; there were Christian churches founded in many places, which exist to the present day, before Roma heard the gospel of the kingdom. A Christian church means a company of believers in Christ Jesus, united for the purposes of Christian fellowship, and edification in righteousness.
They sent forth Barnabas] It seems then, that the church collectively had power to commission and send forth any of its own members, whom it saw God had qualified for a particular work. There must have been, even at that time, an acknowledged superiority of some members of the church beyond others. The apostles held thefirsl rank: the deacons (probably the same as those called prophets, as being next chosen,) the second: and perhaps those called evangelists, simply preachers of the truth, the third rank. Those who knew most of God and sacred things; who were most zealous, most holy, and most useful, undoubtedly had the preeminence.