Acts 2:24
Whom God has raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be held of it.
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(24) Whom God hath raised up.—It is probable enough that some rumours of the Resurrection had found their way among the people, and had been met by the counter-statement of which we read in Matthew 28:11-15; but this was the first public witness, borne by one who was ready to seal his testimony with his blood, to the stupendous fact.

Having loosed the pains of death.—The word for “pains” is the same as that for “sorrows” in Matthew 24:8 : literally, travail-pangs. The phrase was not uncommon in the LXX. version, but was apparently a mistranslation of the Hebrew for “cords,” or “bands,” of death. If we take the Greek word in its full meaning, the Resurrection is thought of as a new birth as from the womb of the grave.

Because it was not possible. . . .—The moral impossibility was, we may say, two-fold. The work of the Son of Man could not have ended in a failure and death which would have given the lie to all that He had asserted of Himself. Its issue could not run counter to the prophecies which had implied with more or less clearness a victory over death. The latter, as the sequel shows, was the thought prominent in St. Peter’s mind.

2:22-36 From this gift of the Holy Ghost, Peter preaches unto them Jesus: and here is the history of Christ. Here is an account of his death and sufferings, which they witnessed but a few weeks before. His death is considered as God's act; and of wonderful grace and wisdom. Thus Divine justice must be satisfied, God and man brought together again, and Christ himself glorified, according to an eternal counsel, which could not be altered. And as the people's act; in them it was an act of awful sin and folly. Christ's resurrection did away the reproach of his death; Peter speaks largely upon this. Christ was God's Holy One, sanctified and set apart to his service in the work of redemption. His death and sufferings should be, not to him only, but to all his, the entrance to a blessed life for evermore. This event had taken place as foretold, and the apostles were witnesses. Nor did the resurrection rest upon this alone; Christ had poured upon his disciples the miraculous gifts and Divine influences, of which they witnessed the effects. Through the Saviour, the ways of life are made known; and we are encouraged to expect God's presence, and his favour for evermore. All this springs from assured belief that Jesus is the Lord, and the anointed Saviour.Whom God hath raised up - This was the main point, in this part of his argument, which Peter wished to establish. He could not but admit that the Messiah had been in an ignominious manner put to death. But he now shows them that God had also raised him up; had thus given his attestation to his doctrine; and had sent down his Spirit according to the promise which the Lord Jesus made before his death.

Having loosed the pains of death - The word "loosed," λύσας lusas, is opposed to bind, and is properly applied to a cord, or to anything which is bound. See Matthew 21:2; Mark 1:7. Hence, it means to free or to liberate, Luke 13:16; 1 Corinthians 7:27. It is used in this sense here; though the idea of untying or loosing a band is retained, because the word translated "pains" often means "a cord or band."

The pains of death - ὠδῖνας τοῦ θάνατου ōdinas tou thanatou. The word translated "pains" denotes properly "the extreme sufferings of parturition, and then any severe or excruciating pangs." Hence, it is applied also to death, as being a state of extreme suffering. A very frequent meaning of the Hebrew word of which this is the translation is cord or band. This, perhaps, was the original idea of the word; and the Hebrews expressed any extreme agony under the idea of bands or cords closely drawn, binding and constricting the limbs, and producing severe pain. Thus, death was represented under this image of a band that confined people, that pressed closely on them, that prevented escape, and produced severe suffering. For this use of the word חבל chebel, see Psalm 119:61; Isaiah 66:7; Jeremiah 22:23; Hosea 13:13. It is applied to death, Psalm 18:5, "The snares of death prevented me"; corresponding to the word "sorrows" in the previous part of the verse; Psalm 116:3, "The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell (Hades or Sheol, the cords or pains that were binding me down to the grave) gat held on me."

We are not to infer from this that our Lord suffered anything after death. It means simply that he could not be held by the grave, but that God loosed the bonds which had held him there; that he now set him free who had been encompassed by these pains or bonds until they had brought him down to the grave. Pain, mighty pain, will encompass us all like the constrictions and bindings of a cord which we cannot loose, and will fasten our limbs and bodies in the grave. Those bands begin to be thrown around us in early life, and they are drawn closer and closer, until we lie panting under the stricture on a bed of pain, and then are still and immovable in the grave - subdued in a manner not a little resembling the mortal agonies of the tiger in the convolutions of the boa constrictor, or like Laocoon and his sons in the folds of the serpents from the Island of Tenedos.

It was not possible - This does not refer to any natural impossibility, or to any inherent efficacy or power in the body of Jesus itself, but simply means that "in the circumstances of the case such an event could not be." Why it could not be he proceeds at once to show. It could not be consistently with the promises of the Scriptures. Jesus was the "Prince of life" Acts 3:15; he had life in himself John 1:4; John 5:26; he had power to lay down his life and to take it again Judges 10:18; and it was indispensable that he should rise. He came, also, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death that is, the devil Hebrews 2:14; and as it was his purpose to gain this victory, he could not be defeated in it by being confined to the grave.

24. was not possible he should be holden of it—Glorious saying! It was indeed impossible that "the Living One" should remain "among the dead" (Lu 24:5); but here, the impossibility seems to refer to the prophetic assurance that He should not see corruption. Whom God hath raised up: Christ rose by his own power as God: it being, perhaps, too strong meat to be given at first to such who were under so great prejudices against our Saviour; but by consequence in the following discourse he sufficiently shows it.

Loosed; the same word lbx variously pointed, signifying either a cord or pain, the metaphor of loosing agrees with it.

The pains of death: though our Lord endured no more pain after he had said, It is finished, and had yielded up the ghost; yet whilst he was in the grave, being under the power of death, the pains of death are said to be loosed at his resurrection.

It was not possible that he should be holden of it long, much less for ever; being such a one as David spake of. Whom God raised up,.... From the dead; for though his life was taken away by men, he was raised to life again by God the Father, to whom the resurrection of Christ is generally ascribed, though not to the exclusion of Christ himself, and the blessed Spirit; and this being what the apostles were witnesses of, and the Jews endeavoured to stifle as much as they could, it being the sign Christ gave them of the truth of his Messiahship; and this being also a fundamental article of the Christian religion, the apostle enlarges upon it:

having loosed the pains of death; this may be understood either of what Christ had done for his people by dying for them; he had abolished death; he had took away its sting, and delivered them from the curse of it, having fulfilled the law, satisfied justice, and made full atonement for their sin; so that though they die, death is not a penal evil to them, nor shall they always continue under the power of it: or of what God did in raising Christ from the dead; he delivered him from the power of death, by which he was held in the grave, and which is expressed by a word which signifies pains and sorrows, even those of a woman in travail; which though he felt not now, he had gone through them; his low state in the grave was the effect of them; and these are said to be loosed when he was raised up, he being so entirely delivered from them, as that they should never come upon him more: and it is to be observed, that the same word in the Hebrew language, and so in the Chaldee and Syriac, in which Peter might speak, signifies both cords and sorrows; and we often read in Talmudic and Rabbinic (w) writings, of , "the sorrows", or "pains" of the Messiah. The death which Christ died, being the death of the cross, was a very painful one: he endured great pains in his body, smote with rods, and buffeted with the hands of men; by being scourged and whipped, and having a crown of thorns platted on his head; but the pains of the cross were still greater, his body being stretched out upon it, and fastened to it by nails drove through his hands and feet, and then reared up, and jogged in the earth, where he hung upon it in extreme agony, till he expired: and these pains he endured, not through want of love to him in his Father, who, as he does not willingly grieve and afflict the children of men, so neither would he his own Son; nor was it on account of any sin of his, for he knew none, nor did he commit any; but he was wounded, and bruised, and endured these sorrows and pains for the sins of his people: as he was their surety, it was necessary he should die, because the wages of sin is death, and the justice and veracity of God required it; and it was proper he should die the painful death of the cross, because of the types and prophecies of it, and chiefly that he might appear to be made a curse for his people: though more must be meant here than the pains he endured in the moment and article of death, since they ceased at death, and he was then freed from them; whereas the text speaks of a loosing him from them at his resurrection, which supposes that they continued on him until that time; wherefore these pains of death also signify the power and dominion death had over him, and continued to have over him in the grave; with the cords of which he was bound and held, till he was loosed by raising him from the dead. Dr. Goodwin is of opinion, that these words are to be understood, not of the resurrection of Christ's body from the pains and power of death, but at least chiefly of the recovery and revival of his soul from those spiritual agonies which attended him, and from which he was loosed and delivered before his death; and the rather, because as before observed, at death the pains of it are gone, the bitterness of it is over, and nothing is felt in the grave; besides, the word here used signifies the pains of a woman in travail, 1 Thessalonians 5:3 and seems best to agree with those inward sufferings of Christ, which are called "the travail of his soul", Isaiah 53:11 and which, like the pangs of a woman in labour, came upon him gradually: four or five days before his death he said, "now is my soul troubled", John 12:27. The night in which he was betrayed, when he came into the garden, he began to be sorrowful, and heavy, and sore amazed; and at length he breaks out, and says, "my soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death", Matthew 26:37 and after some time his pains increase, and being in agony, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood, Luke 22:44 but the sharpest pains were yet to come, and which he endured when on the cross, being forsaken by his God and Father, Matthew 27:46 and which arose partly from the sins of his people, the filth and guilt of them laid upon him, which must be very distressing to his pure and holy mind; and from the wrath of God, and curse of the law, which he sustained as the punishment for them; and it was necessary he should bear the whole punishment due to sin, the punishment of sense, or feel the wrath of God, and the strokes of divine justice, and the punishment of loss, or be deprived of the divine presence; and these sorrows of soul may be well called the pains or sorrows of death, because they were unto death, and issued in it; a corporeal death followed upon them; and when he was in the garden, and on the cross, it might be truly said, "the sorrows of death compassed him about", Psalm 18:4 but from these he was loosed just before his death, when he said, "it is finished"; the darkness was over; the light of God's countenance broke out upon him; he heard his cry, and helped him in the acceptable time, in the day of salvation; his anger, as a judge, was turned away from him, justice being entirely satisfied; and therefore it was not possible he should be held any longer with these cords and sorrows of death; for he being an infinite person, was able to bear all the wrath of God at once, which was due to sin, and therefore did not bring on him an eternal death as on the wicked, he sustaining and satisfying for all at once; and, like another Samson, broke asunder these cords like threads, and was loosed from them. But after all, though these are very great truths; yet, according to the order in which these words lie, being placed after the account of the crucifixion and death of Christ, they seem rather to respect the resurrection of his body, and the loosing it from the power and dominion of death; and in such sense as never to return to it, or any more feel the pains of it. One of Stephen's copies reads, "the pains of Hades", or the invisible state; and the Vulgate Latin version, "the pains of hell"; as in Psalm 18:5 where the grave is meant; and the Syriac version, , "the pains", or "cords of the grave": the word "cords", or "bands", best agrees with the word "loosing"; and the Ethiopic version renders it, "the bands of death",

Because it was not possible he should be holden of it: of death, and under the power of it; partly, because of the power and dignity of his person, as the Son of God, he being still the Prince of life, and who by dying abolished death, and him that had the power of it; and partly, because as the surety of his people, he had made full satisfaction for sin, and had brought in an everlasting righteousness, and therefore ought in justice to be discharged, and detained a prisoner no longer; as also because of the prophecies of the Old Testament concerning his resurrection, which must be fulfilled, as follows,

(w) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 118. 2. & Sanhedrin, fol. 98. 2. Alkath Rocel, l. 1. p. 1. & passim.

{6} Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the {s} pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

(6) As David foretold, Christ did not only rise again, but also was void of all decay in the grave.

(s) The death that was full of sorrow both of body and mind: therefore when death appeared conqueror and victor over those sorrows, Christ is rightly said to have overcome those sorrows of death when, as being dead, he overcame death, to live forever with his Father.

Acts 2:24. Τὰς ὠδῖνας] Peter most probably used the common expression from the O. T.: חֶבְלֵי מָוֶת, snares of death, in which the θάνατος personified is conceived as a huntsman laying a snare. Psalm 18:5 f., Psalm 116:3. See Gesen. Thes. I. p. 440. The LXX. erroneously translates this expression as ὠδῖνες θανάτου, misled by חֵבֶל, dolor (Isaiah 66:7), in the plural חֲבָלִים, used particularly of birth-pangs. See the LXX. Psalm 18:5; 2 Samuel 22:6. But Luke—and this betrays the use of a Hebrew source directly or indirectly—has followed the LXX., and has thus changed the Petrine expression vincula mortis into dolores mortis. The expression of Luke, who with ὠδῖνες could think of nothing else than the only meaning which it has in Greek, gives the latter, and not the former sense. In the sense of Peter, therefore, the words are to be explained: after he has loosed the snares of death (with which death held him captive); but in the sense of Luke: after he has loosed the pangs of death. According to Luke (comp. on πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, Colossians 1:18), the resurrection of Jesus is conceived as birth from the dead. Death travailed (ὁ θάνατος ὤδινε κατέχων αὐτόν, Chrys.) in birth-throes even until the dead was raised again. With this event these pangs ceased, they were loosed; and because God has made Christ alive, God has loosed the pangs of death. On λύσας, see LXX. Job 39:3; Soph. O. C. 1612, El. 927; Aelian. H. A. xii. 5. Comp. Plat. Pol. ix. p. 574 A: μεγάλαις ὠδῖσί τε καὶ ὀδύναις συνέχεσθαι. The aorist participle is synchronous with ἀνέστησε. To understand the death-pangs of Christ, from which God freed Him “resuscitando eum ad vitam nullis doloribus obnoxiam” (Grotius), is incorrect, because the liberation from the pains of death has already taken place through the death itself, with which the earthly work of Christ, even of His suffering, was finished (John 19:30). Quite groundless is the assertion of Olshausen, that in Hellenistic Greek ὠδῖνες has not only the meaning of pains, but also that of bonds, which is not at all to be vouched by the passages in Schleusn. Thes. V. p. 571.

καθότι: according to the fact, that; see on Luke 1:7.

οὐκ ἦν δύνατον which is afterwards proved from David. It was thus impossible in virtue of the divine destination attested by David. Other reasons (Calovius: on account of the unio personalis, etc.) are here far-fetched.

κρατεῖσθαι ὑπʼ αὐτοῦ] The θάνατος could not but give Him up; Christ could not be retained by death in its power, which would have happened, if He, like other dead, had not become alive again and risen to eternal life (Romans 6:9). On κρατεῖσθαι ὑπό, to be ruled by, comp.4Ma 2:9; Dem. 1010. 17. By His resurrection Christ has done away death as a power (2 Timothy 1:10; 1 Corinthians 15:25 f.).Acts 2:24. Λύσας, having loosed) This verb accords with the term חבלים, which is denoted by the Latin Vulg. funes, “the cords” or ‘bands;’ but it is also used of the pains of one in parturition.—τὰς ὠδῖνας, the pains) out of which new life arose. Jesus experienced the pains of death whilst He died. In death, τετέλεσται, He was consummated, all was finished; and therefore after death there were no more pains: a little after, in His resurrection there was made a loosing, not of pains, but of the bonds or bands, which had brought with them the pain, whilst He was in the act of dying.—ᾅδου) Ὠδῖνες θανάτου and ὠδῖνες ᾅδου are expressions used in Psalms 18 (17):5, 6, “The sorrows (in margin, cords) of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me.” In Luke most have written θανάτου, perhaps with a view to soften the mode of expression; but the old reading, ᾅδου, is more in accordance with Acts 2:27; Acts 2:31.[13]—ΟὐΚ ἮΝ ΔΎΝΑΤΟΝ, it was not possible) on account of the predictions mentioned in Acts 2:25, and the reasons mentioned in those predictions. To this the must (δεῖ) in ch. Acts 3:21 corresponds. Hence we find so often the expression, once, once for all, so often used as to the death of Christ: Romans 6:10, note: “In that He died, He died unto sin once” (ἐφάπαξ, not merely ἍΠΑΞ).—ὙΠʼ ΑὐΤΟῦ, by it) by Hades or Hell, although a powerful enemy.

[13] The larger Ed. had preferred the reading θανάτου; but the 2d Ed. prefers ᾅδου, with the Gnomon and Vers. Germ.—E. B.

ABCE Theb. read θανάτου. De Vulg. Memph. Syr. read ᾅδου: Iren. 193, ‘inferorum.’—E. and T.Verse 24. - Raised for hath raised, A.V.; pangs for pains, A.V. Pangs. St. Luke follows the LXX., who render the מָוֶת or חֶבְלֵי of Psalm 18:5, 6; Psalm 116:3, by ὠδῖνες θανάτου, as if the Hebrew word were חֵבֶל, the pains or pangs of a woman in childbirth, whereas it really is חֶבֶל, a cord, as it is rendered in the margin of Psalm 18:5, meaning the snare of the fowler. The variation is very similar to that of the "fruit of our lips" in Hebrews 13:15, compared with the "calves of our lips" of Hosea 14:2. It is manifest that "loosed" applies better to cords than to pangs. It was not possible. Why, not possible?

1. Because of the union of the Godhead and manhood in the one Person of Christ.

2. Because of God's character, which makes it impossible that one who trusts in him should be forsaken, or that God's Holy One should see corruption.

3. Because the Scripture, which cannot be broken, declared the resurrection of Christ. Pains (ὠδῖνας)

The meaning is disputed. Some claim that Peter followed the Septuagint mistranslation of Psalm 18:5, where the Hebrew word for snares is rendered by the word used here, pains; and that, therefore, it should be rendered snares of death; the figure being that of escape from the snare of a huntsman. Others suppose that death is represented in travail, the birth-pangs ceasing with the delivery; i.e., the resurrection. This seems to be far-fetched, though it is true that in classical Greek the word is used commonly of birth-throes. It is better, perhaps, on the whole, to take the expression in the sense of the A. V., and to make the pains of death stand for death generally.

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