Acts 2
Pulpit Commentary
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
Verse 1. - Was now come for was fully come, A.V.; all together for with one accord, A.V. and T.R. When the day of Pentecost was now come; literally, when the day of Pentecost - i.e., of the fiftieth day - was in the course of being completed. The fiftieth day (reckoned from the end of the 16th of Nisan, on which Jesus was crucified) was actually come, but was not ended (comp. Luke 9:11). All together; ὁμοῦ for ὁμοθυμαδόν: but ὁμοθυμαδόν - a favorite word in the Acts (Acts 4:24, note) - seems preferable to ὁμοῦ, which occurs only in St. John. In one place (see Acts 1:15, note). The purpose, doubtless, of their coming together was for prayer, as in Acts 1:14; and the third hour (9 a.m., ver. 15), the hour of offering the morning sacrifice, was close at hand (comp. Acts 3:1 and Luke 1:10).
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
Verse 2. - From heaven a sound for a sound from heaven, A.V.; as of the rushing of a for as of a rushing, A.V. All the house; showing that it was in a private dwelling, not in the temple (as in Acts 3:1) that they were assembled (see Acts 2:46). Perhaps the word "church" (ὁ κυριακὸς οῖκος) derives its use from these early meetings of the disciples in a house, as distinguished from the temple (τὸ ἱερὸν).
And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
Verse 3. - Tongues parting asunder for cloven tongues, A.V.; each one for each, A.V. There appeared. They had heard the sound, now they see the tongues of fire, and then they feel the Spirit working in them (see ver. 34). Tongues parting asunder. The idea of the cloven tongue, i.e. a tongue parted into two, which is thought to have been the origin of the miter, is not suggested either by the Greek or by the circumstances, and is clearly a mistaken one. Διαμεριζόμεναι means distributing themselves or being distributed. From the central apparition, or rather place of sound, they saw issuing forth many several tongues, looking like small flames of fire, and one such tongue sat upon each one of the brethren or disciples present. Each one. That Chrysostom is right ('Hom.'4.) in interpreting the each one of this verse of the hundred and twenty, and not of the twelve, and the ell in ver. 4 of all present besides the apostles, may be demonstrated. For not only must the all of ver. 1 refer to the same company as was described in the preceding chapter (vers. 15-26), but it is quite clear in ver. 15 of this chapter that Peter and the eleven (ver. 14), standing up separate from the body of the disciples, say of them, "These are not drunken, as ye suppose;" which is a demonstration that those of whom they thus spoke had been speaking with tongues (see also Acts 10:44). St. Augustine, too, says that the hundred and twenty all received the Holy Spirit. To the same effect Meyer, Wordsworth, Alford (who adds, "Not the hundred and twenty only, but all the believers in Christ then congregated at Jerusalem;" so also Lange). Farrar well remarks, "It was the consecration of a whole Church to be all of them a chosen generation, a royal priest- hood, a holy nation, a peculiar people" ('Life of St. Paul,' Acts 5.). Lange says, "Not only the apostles, but all the disciples, were filled with the Holy Ghost. There is a universal priesthood of all believers, and the Holy Ghost is the anointing which consecrates and qualifies for this priesthood" ('On the Acts,' Clark's edit., p. 67).
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Verse 4. - Spirit for Ghost, A.V. Other tongues (1 Corinthians 14:21; Isaiah 28:11); the same as the "new tongues" of Mark 16:17. St. Paul speaks of them as "the tongues of men and of angels" (1 Corinthians 13:1), and as "kinds of tongues" (1 Corinthians 12:10). His habitual phrase is "speaking in [or with] a tongue [or tongues]" (1 Corinthians 14:2, 4-6, etc.), and the verb is always λαλεῖν, as here. What these tongues were on this occasion we are explicitly informed in vers. 6, 8, and 11. They were the tongues of the various nationalities present at the feast - Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Phrygians, Arabians, etc. This is so clearly and so distinctly stated that it is astonishing that any one should deny it who accepts St. Luke's account as historical. The only room for doubt is whether the speakers spoke in these divers languages, or the hearers heard in them though the speakers spoke in only one tongue. But not to mention that this is far more difficult to imagine, and transfers the miracle from those who had the Holy Spirit to those who had it not, it is against the plain language of the text, which tells us that "they began to speak with other tongues," and that "every man heard them speaking in his own language." "Speaking," said they, "in our own tongues the mighty works of God." There may, indeed, have been something ecstatic besides in these utterances, but there is no reference to such made either by St. Luke or by the audience whose words he reports. The narrative before us does not hint at any after use of the gift of tongues for missionary purposes. In Acts 10:46; Acts 11:15-17; Acts 19:6, as well as in the passages above referred to in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, the speaking with tongues is always spoken of - often in connection with prophecy - simply as a gift and a manifestation (1 Corinthians 12:7) of the power of the Holy Spirit. In this case and in Acts 10:46 the subject-matter of the utterance is the greatness of God's works; τὰ μεγαλεῖα τοῦ Θεοῦ μεγαλυνόντων τὸν Θεὸν. In 1 Corinthians 14:2 it is" mysteries;" in ver. 15, "prayers and psalms;" in ver. 16 it is "blessing" and "thanksgiving" (εὐλογία and εὐχαριστία). But nowhere, either in Holy Scripture or in the Fathers of the three first centuries, is the gift of tongues spoken of in connection with preaching to foreign nations (see Alford's just remarks). Farrar ('Life of St. Paul,' vol. 1. pp. 98-101) takes the same view, but is much less distinct in his conception of what is meant here by speaking with tongues. He adheres to the view of Schneckenburger, that "the tongue was, from its own force and significance, intelligible equally to all who heard it;" he agrees with the dictum of Neander that "any foreign languages which were spoken on this occasion were only something accidental, and not the essential element of the language of the Spirit." He says, "The voice they uttered was awful in its range, in its tones, in its modulations, in its startling, penetrating, almost appalling power; the words they spoke were exalted, intense, passionate, full of mystic significance; the language they used was not their ordinary and familiar tongue, but was Hebrew, or Greek, or Latin, or Aramaic, or Persian, or Arabic, as some overpowering and unconscious impulse of the moment might direct... and among these strange sounds... there were some which none could interpret, which rang on the air like the voice of barbarous languages, and which ... conveyed no definite significance beyond the fact that they were reverberations of one and the same ecstasy." The writer seems to suggest that when any real language was spoken it was one more or less known previously by the speaker, and that in other cases it was no language at all, only thrilling emotional sounds. Renan's view of the day of Pentecost is a carious specimen of rationalistic interpretation. "One day when the brethren were come together there was a tempest. A violent wind burst open the windows, and the sky was one sheet of fire. In that climate tempests are often accompanied by an extraordinary amount of electric light. The atmosphere is on all sides furrowed with jets of flame. On this occasion, whether the electric fluid actually passed through the room, or whether the faces of all present were suddenly lit up by an extremely bright flash of lightning, all were convinced that the Holy Spirit had entered their assembly, and had sat upon the head of each in the shape of a tongue of fire... In these moments of ecstasy, the disciple possessed by the Spirit uttered sounds 'inarticulate and incoherent, which the hearers fancied were the words of a strange language, and in their simplicity tried to interpret They listened eagerly to the medley of sounds, and explained them by their own extemporaneous thoughts. Each of them had recourse to his own native patois to supply some meaning to the unintelligible accents, and generally succeeded in affixing to them the thoughts that were uppermost in his own mind" ('Les Apotres,' pp. 66-68). Elsewhere (pp. 64, 65) he suggests that the whole conception of speaking with tongues arose from the anticipation on the part of the apostles that great difficulty would arise in propagating the gospel from the impossibility of learning to speak the necessary languages. The solution with some was that, under the ecstasy caused by the Holy Spirit, the hearers would be able to translate what they heard into their own tongue; others rather thought that by the same power the apostles would be able to speak any dialect they pleased at the moment. Hence the conception of the day of Pentecost as described by St. Luke! Meyer, again, fully admits, as "beyond all doubt," that St. Luke intended to narrate that the persons possessed by the Spirit spoke in foreign languages previously unknown by them; but adds that "the sudden communication of a facility of speaking foreign languages is neither logically possible nor psychologically and morally conceivable" (a pretty bold assertion); and therefore he sets down St. Luke's account of what occurred as "a later legendary formation," based upon the existing γλωσσολαλία. Zeller, traveling a little further on the same road, comes to the conclusion that "the narrative before us is not based on any definite fact" (p. 205). Leaving, however, these fanciful varieties of incredulous criticism, and interpreting the statements of this chapter by the later spiritual gifts as seen in the Church of Corinth, we conclude that the" tongues" were sometimes "tongues of men," foreign languages unknown to the speakers, and of course unintelligible to the hearers unless any were present, as was the case on the day of Pentecost, who knew the language; and sometimes languages not of earth but of heaven, "tongues of angels." But there is no evidence whatever of their being mere gibberish as distinct from language, or being language coined at the moment by the Holy Ghost. All that St. Paul says to the Corinthians is fully applicable to any language spoken when there were none present who understood it. The significance of the miracle seems to be that it points to the time when all shall be one in Christ, and shall all speak and understand the same speech; and not only all men, but men and angels, "the whole family in heaven and earth," "things in the heavens and things upon the earth" all gathered together in one in Christ. It may also not improbably have been used occasionally, as it was on the day of Pentecost, to convey doctrine, knowledge, or exhortation, to foreign people; but there is no distinct evidence that this was the case.
And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
Verse 5. - Now for and, A.V. ; from for out of, A.V. Dwelling; either Jews come up for the feast, or perhaps rather domiciled at Jerusalem from motives of piety.
Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
Verse 6. - And when this sound (φωνή) was heard for now when this was noised abroad A.V., which the words cannot mean; speaking for speak, A.V. This sound. The question still remains whether the sound (φωνή) refers to the sound (ἤχος) of the rushing mighty wind mentioned in ver. 2, or to the voices of those who spake with tongues. If the last, we should rather have expected sounds or voices in the plural; and it is further in favor of the former that μενῆς τῆς φωνῆς ταύτης seems to take up the ἐγένετο ἤχος of ver. 2. The word φωνή is applied to πνεῦμα in John 3:8. Nor is it likely, at first sight, that the disciples in the house where they were sitting should have spoken loud enough to attract the notice of people outside. Whereas the sound of a rushing mighty wind, sufficient (as in Acts 3:31) to shake the house, would naturally he heard by passers-by. On the other hand, however, φωνή seems to point decisively to the human voice (see its use, 1 Corinthians 14:7-10).
And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
Verse 7. - Saying for saying one to another, A.V. and T.R. Amazed (ἐξίσταντο; see Acts 8:9, note). Galilaeans; describing merely their nationality. The Galilaean accent was peculiar and well known (see Mark 14:70; Luke 22:59 Matt, 26:73).
And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
Verse 8. - Language for tongue, A.V. Language (διαλέκτῳ, as in Acts 1:19). It only occurs in the New Testament in the Acts, and may mean either language or dialect. Here it is properly rendered language, and is synonymous with γλώσσαις in ver. 11.
Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,
Verse 9. - In Judaea for and in Judaea, A.V. Parthians and Medes and Elamites. These would be the Israelites of the first dispersion, the descendants of those of the ten tribes who were deported by the Assyrians, and of whom the Afghans are perhaps a remnant, and of the first Babylonian captivity. Mesopotamia and Babylon were at this time in possession of the Parthians. Babylon was a great Jewish colony, the seat of "the princes of the Captivity," and of one of the great rabbinical schools. Judaea. The mention of Judaea here is very odd, and can scarcely be right, both from its situation between Mesopotamia and Cappadocia, and because Jews (Judaeans) are mentioned again in ver. 10 (where, however, see note). India, which seems to have been in Chrysostom's Codex ('Hem.'4, end of [3]), Idumaea, Bithynia, and Armenia, have all been suggested as conjectural emendations. One might have expected Galatia, with its different Celtic dialect, and which goes with Pontus, Cappadocia, and Asia in 1 Peter 1:1; a passage, by the way, which shows that there were many Jews in those provinces: Aquila, too, was a Jew from Pontus (Acts 18:2). ΛΨΔΙΑ, Lydia, would be very like ΙΟΥΔΑΙΑ; but all manuscripts read Judaea.
Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,
Verse 10. - In Phrygia for Phrygia, A.V.; the parts for in the parts, A.V.; sojourners from for strangers of, A.V.; both Jews for Jews, A.V. Asia; i.e. "the western coast region of Asia Minor, including Caria, Lydia, and Mysia" (Meyer). "Ionia and Lydia, of which Ephesus was the capital, called Proconsular Asia" (Wordsworth and 'Speaker's Commentary.' See Acts 20:16, 18; Revelation 1:4, etc.). Egypt, etc. These represent the third great dispersion, that effected by Ptolemy Lagus. Some of this part of the dispersion are mentioned as very hostile to Stephen (Acts 6:9). "Two-fifths of the population of Alexandria were Jews." "Jews formed one quarter of the population of Cyrene" ('Speaker's Commentary.') See Matthew 27:32 and Acts 13:1). And sojourners from Rome, both Jews and proselytes. The copula and couples the οἱ ἐπιδημοῦντες Ῥωμαῖοι with the οἱ κατοικοῦντες τὴν Μεσοποταμίαν, etc., of ver. 9. It is literally, those of us who are Roman sojourners at Jerusalem, whether Jews by race or proselytes. They were equally Roman sojourners, whether they were Jews whose home was at Rome or whether they were proselytes; and it is an interesting fact that there were such proselytes in the great capital of the heathen world. Sojourners, as in Acts 17:21, the strangers sojourning at Athens. Many good commentators - Alford, Meyer, Lechler (in Lange, 'Bibel Works'), etc. - take the words "Jews and proselytes" as applying to the whole preceding list, not to the Roman sojourners only; but in that case one would not expect Cretans and Arabians to follow.
Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
Verse 11. - Cretans for Cretes, A.V. ; speaking for speak, A.V.; mighty for wonderful, A.V. (τὰ μεγαλεῖα).
And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?
Verse 12. - Perplexed for in doubt, A.V. and T.R.
Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.
Verse 13. - But others for others, A.V. ; they are filled with for these men are full of, A.V. New wine; more literally, sweet wine. These mockers, men incapable of serious and devout appreciation of the work of the Holy Spirit, attributed the tension of feeling which they saw, and the unintelligible words which they heard, to the effect of wine. So Festus said," Paul, thou art mad." So the unbelieving Jews of Pontus and Asia thought it strange that the Christians should live holily, and spake evil of them in consequence (1 Peter 4:4, 14). So Ishmael mocked Isaac (Genesis 21:9); and so in all times "they that are born after the flesh do persecute them that are born after the Spirit" (Galatians 4:29).
But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
Verses 14-16. - Spake forth for said, A.V.; give ear unto for hearken to, A.V.; hath been spoken for was spoken, A.V. But Peter, etc. Peter stands up before the eleven as their primate, foremost in the authority of action as in precedence of place; and the apostles stand up before the multitude of believers, as those to whom Christ committed the government of his Church (see Acts 1:15). Spake forth (ἀπεφθέγξατο, the same word as in ver. 4, "utterance "); implying the utterance of a loud and grave oration. In 1 Chronicles 26. it is the phrase of the LXX. for those who prophesied with harps. From it is derived the word apophthegm, "a remarkable saying" (Johnson's Dictionary). Ye that dwell at Jerusalem; the same as those described in ver. 5. They were foreign Jews who, either for the feast or for other causes, had taken up their abode at Jerusalem, and are distinguished from the men of Judea, the Jews who were natives of Judaea. Give ear (ἐνωτίζεσθε); found only here in the New Testament, but frequent in the LXX. as the rendering of the Hebrew הֶאֶזִין (Genesis 4:23; Job 33:1; Isaiah 1:2). It is not classical Greek, and seems to have been coined by the LXX., as the equivalent of the above-named Hebrew word. It seems to be a rhetorical phrase. The thing to be known unto them was that they saw the fulfillment of Joel's prophecy in what had happened; for it was quite a mistake to attribute it to drunkenness. By the prophet (διὰ, not ὑπὸ); spoken by God through the prophet. The full phrase occurs in Matthew 1:22; Matthew 2:5, 15. And so it is added in ver. 17, "saith God."
For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.
But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
Verse 17. - Be for come to pass, A.V.; pour forth for pour out, A.V. In the last days. This does not agree with either the Hebrew or the LXX. in the existing texts, where we read merely afterwards (אַהְרֵי כֵן μετὰ ταῦτα The phrase, "in the last days," which occurs in Isaiah 2:2 and elsewhere, denotes the days of Messiah. St. Peter is perhaps expounding the passage as relating to the days of Messiah; or בְ אַחְֲרִית הַיָמִים may have been another reading. Saith God is no part of Joel's prophecy, but Peter's words. Your young men shall see visions, etc. The order of this and the following clause is inverted. In the Hebrew and LXX. the old men are mentioned first.
And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
Verse 18. - Yea and for and, A.V.; pour forth for pour out, A.V.; in those days will I pour for I will pour... in those days, A.V. And they shall prophesy. These words are not found in the Hebrew or the LXX. The LXX. differ from the Hebrew in the addition of μοῦ after δούλους and δούλας. The Hebrew has merely "the servants and the handmaids," men and women of servile condition.
And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:
Verse 19. - The heaven for heaven, A.V.; on for in, A.V. I will show (δώσω, as in Matthew 24:24). This follows the Hebrew and the Codex Alexandrinus. The Vatican Codex has, They will show or give (δώσωσι). In the heavens above... on the earth beneath. Above and beneath are not in the Hebrew or the LXX. With these exceptions, the text of the LXX. is followed.
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:
Verse 20. - The day of the Lord come, that great and notable day for that great and notable day of the Lord come, A.V. and T.R.
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Verse 21. - Be for come to pass, A.V.
Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
Verse 22. - Unto you for among you, A.V.; mighty works for miracles, A.V. ; even as ye yourselves know for as ye yourselves also know, A.V. Ye men of Israel. This title includes both the Jews of Judaea and all those of the dispersion, to whatever tribe they belonged. Approved of God. Observe the distinct reference to the miracles of Christ, as the proofs that he came from God, the authenticating evidences of his Divine mission. So St. Peter again, in his address to Cornelius, declares how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power, who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him (Acts 10:38). The miracles of the gospel are, and were intended to be, a demonstration of the truth of Christianity, and it is at their peril that Christians allow themselves to give up this argument at the bidding of the skeptic. Mighty works and wonders and signs. Δυναμεῖς are powers, acts of healing and such like, done by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit (see the above reference to Acts 10:38); τέρατα are wonders or portents, such as are spoken of by the Prophet Joel, "wonders in heaven above," the darkening of the sun, the discoloration or the moon, or any ether wonder considered only with reference to its portentous character; σημεῖα are signs, not necessarily miraculous, but things which are proofs, either by their miraculous character or from the time or mode of their occurrence, of the truth of the things spoken. "Miracles, wonders, and signs" occur together in 2 Corinthians 12:12. The three seem to include every kind of miracle, or, as Meyer says, miracles viewed

(1) according to their nature,

(2) according to their appearance,

(3) according to their destination or proposed end. Which God did by him. So we read Hebrews 1:2, "Through [or 'by'] whom also he made the worlds." And so our Lord said of himself, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work;" and "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do" (John 5:17, 19; comp. Matthew 28:18). On the other hand, our Lord often speaks of his own power, as John 2:19; John 10:18 (comp. John 2:11). As Mediator, Christ did all things by his Father's appointment, and for his Father's glory, Even as ye yours, elves know. Mark the confidence with which Peter appeals to their personal knowledge of the miracles of Christ. This was a fitting preparation for the announcement of that mighty power, wonder, and sign which he was now about to proclaim to them - the resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the dead.
Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
Verse 23. - Delivered up for delivered, A.V.; by the hand of lawless men did crucify and slay for have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain, A.V. and T.R. The determinate counsel. God's counsel, that Christ should suffer for sins, was not a vague, indistinct purpose, leaving much to accident and the fluctuating will of man; it was determinate and defined in respect of time and manner and the instruments used for carrying it out. Foreknowledge is coupled with counsel or will, perhaps in order to show us that the counsel or will of God, as far as it comprehends the action of free agents, is indissolubly connected with his foreknowledge, and does not involve any force put upon the will of man. (Compare, with Chrysostom, the saying of Joseph to his brethren, "Be not angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life" (Genesis 45:5); also Judges 14:4; 1 Kings 12:15, etc. Delivered up (ἔκδοτον, only found here) is by many understood of the action of Judas in betraying Jesus into the hands of his enemies (John 19:11) - ἔκδοτον being taken as equivalent to what πρόδοτον would mean if it were in use. But it may with equal propriety be applied to the action of the chief priests and elders in delivering Jesus to Pontius Pilate (Matthew 27:2)to be crucified (Matthew 27:26). Our Lord himself alludes to Pilate's power as circumscribed by the will of God (John 19:11, ὁ παραδιδούς μέ σοι: comp. Matthew 26:45). By the hand of lawless men. "By the hand of" is the common Hebrew phrase בְיַר, by means of, through the agency cf. The Jewish nation (ἄνδρες Ἰουδαῖοι) had crucified the Lord of glory by the hand of the heathen Romans. Lawless, equivalent to the sinners of Matthew 26:45 (comp., for the special application of the term to the heathen, Galatians 2:15; 1 Corinthians 9:21).
Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
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.
For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:
Verse 25. - Saith for speaketh, A.V.; he held for foresaw, A.V. The sixteenth psalm is ascribed to David in the title prefixed to it in the Hebrew and the LXX. Without pronouncing the titles to be infallible, we must confess that they carry great weight with them in the absence of any strong internal evidence against them. Meyer speaks of the psalm as "certainly later than David," and Ewald and others ascribe it to the time of the Captivity; but Hitzig thinks the internal evidence is in favor of its belonging to the time before David ascended the throne ('Speaker's Commentary'). We may safely rest on the authority of St. Peter here and St. Paul (Acts 13:35, 36), and be satisfied that it is really David's. The manner in which it is quoted by the two apostles is also very strong evidence that by the Jews of that day it was generally admitted to be a Messianic psalm. The following quotation is verbatim from the LXX.
Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:
Verse 26. - My heart was glad for did my heart rejoice, A.V.; rejoiced for was glad, A.V.; my flesh also for also my flesh, A.V.; dwell for rest, A.V.
Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Verse 27. - Hades for hell, A.V.; give thy Holy One for suffer thine Holy One, A.V., surely not so good a rendering. Hades. The "hell" of the A.V. is the exact English representative of ᾅδης. The article in the Creed, "He descended into hell," is based upon this text especially, the other two alleged in support of it (Ephesians 4:9; 1 Peter 3:18, 19) being less conclusive (see Pearson on the Creed, art. 5.). It is a pity to lose the word "hell" in its true meaning. Corruption; Greek διαφθρόραν, Hebrew שַׁחַת. The Hebrew word always means a pit (from שׁוּחַ); but the LXX. here render it διαφθορά, as if from שָׁחַת (in Pihel, to destroy, waste; in Hophal and Niphal, to be corrupted, spoilt, to rot). In the A.V. it is rendered corruption, here and in Job 17:14, where it answers to "the worms," in the parallel clause. It is very probable that the LXX. are right. Nothing is more common than for Hebrew verbs to take the meaning of verbs with similar radicals. Holy One. So the LXX. and the Keri of the Hebrew text. But the Cethib has Holy Ones in the plural. It is obvious that the singular, Holy One, agrees far better with the singulars which precede and follow it - my heart, my glory, my flesh, my soul, thou wilt show me - than the plural, which is entirely out of place. The two clauses taken together show the full liberation of Christ from the dominion of death - that of his human soul from bell, and that of his body from the grave before it saw corruption (comp. Acts 13:34-37).
Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.
Verse 28. - Madest for hast made, A.V.; unto for to, A.V.; gladness for joy, A.V.
Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.
Verse 29. - Brethren for men and brethren, A.V.; I may say unto you freely for let me freely speak unto you, A.V.; both died and was buried for is both dead and buried, A.V.; tomb for sepulcher, A.V. Brethren; literally, men who are my brethren. Observe how gentle and conciliatory the apostle's language is; how exactly in accordance with his own precept (1 Peter 3:8, 9), "Not rendering railing for railing," etc. In addressing them as brethren, he silently claims the good will and fairness due to one who was a brother in blood and in the faith of the God of Israel. The patriarch David. The term patriarch is elsewhere in Scripture applied only to Abraham and the twelve sons of Jacob (Hebrews 7:4; Acts 7:8, 9). It is a title of dignity, signifying the head of a house. It seems to be here applied to David, because he is spoken of as head of the family from which Christ sprang. Abraham was the head of the whole Hebrew race: "Abraham our father." The twelve patriarchs were the heads of their respective tribes. The LXX. use the word πατριάρχης as the rendering of רֹאושׁ הָאָבות "chief of the fathers' houses" (1 Chronicles 24:31; 2 Chronicles 19:8; 2 Chronicles 26:12); which they elsewhere render by ἄρχων, or ἀρχὴ πατριᾶς (Exodus 6:25, etc.). In common parlance, the term is also applied to those chief persons who lived before the time of Moses, and have their record in his books. His tomb is with us, etc. Josephus speaks of David's tomb (calling it, as St. Peter here does, his μνῆμα) as consisting of several chambers, and relates how one of these chambers was opened by the high priest Hyrcanus, who took from it three thousand talents of gold to give to Antiochus Pins, who was at that time laying siege to Jerusalem. He adds that another chamber was opened later by King Herod, who abstracted a great quantity of golden ornaments from it; but that neither of them penetrated to the vaults where the bodies of David and Solomon were deposited, because the entrance to them was so carefully concealed. He further mentions that Herod, having been terrified by the bursting out of flames, which stopped his further progress, built a most costly marble monument at the entrance of the tomb ('Jud. Ant.,' 7. 15:3; 13. 8:4; 16. 7:1). For the sense, supply "and therefore he could not be speaking of himself." The explanation follows that he was a prophet, etc.
Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;
Verse 30. - Being therefore for therefore being, A.V.; that of the fruit of his loins he would set one upon for that of the fruit of his loins according to the flesh he would raise up Christ to sit on, A.V. and T.R. Had sworn, etc. The first record of God's promise to David is in 2 Samuel 7:11-16: "The Lord telleth thee that he will make thee an house. And... I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and will establish his kingdom.... Thy throne shall be established forever;" and in ver. 28, David speaks of it as God's promise: "Thy words be true, and thou hast promised this goodness unto thy servant." But there is no mention there of an oath. But in Psalm 89, great stress is laid upon God having sworn to David: "I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations" (vers. 3, 4); and again, ver. 35, "Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David" 1 Samuel 7 and Psalm 89, should be read through carefully (comp. also Isaiah 4:3; Acts 13:23). (For the phrase, "I have sworn by my holiness," see Amos 4:2.)
He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.
Verse 31. - Foreseeing this for seeing this before, A.V.; neither was he left in Hades for his soul was not left in hell, A.V. and T.R.; nor did his flesh for neither his flesh did, A.V.
This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
Verse 32. - Did God raise up for hath God raised up, A.V. Are witnesses (see Acts 1:22, note).
Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.
Verse 33. - Being therefore for therefore being, A.V.; poured for shed, A.V.; see for now see, A.V. By the right hand, etc. Some render it," Being exalted to the right hand," etc.; or, "Being at the right hand of God exalted." It is very questionable whether the Greek will bear the first rendering; and it would have been more natural to express the second by εἰς τὴν δεξιάν. It is best, therefore, to take it as the A.V. and the R.V. do. Tile phrase is equivalent to that in Psalm 98:1, "His right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory," and numerous other passages. The promise of the Holy Ghost (see Acts 1:4, note).
For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
Verse 34. - Ascended not for is not ascended, A.V. For David, etc. The ascension of Christ is inferred from the previous prophecy, "Thou wilt show me the path of life," etc.; and is there distinctly proved from Psalm 110:1, which Peter (remembering, probably, our Lord's application of it as recorded in Matthew 22:42-45, which he had doubtless heard) shows could not apply to David himself, but only to David's Lord.
Until I make thy foes thy footstool.
Verse 35. - Till for until, A.V.; thine enemies for thy foes, A.V. ; the footstool of thy feet for thy footstool, A.V.
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
Verse 36. - Let all the house of Israel therefore for therefore let all the house of Israel, A.V. ; him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified for that same Jesus whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ, A.V., a change very much for the worse, inasmuch as the R.V. is not an English phrase, and adds nothing to the sense.
Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
Verse 37. - The rest for to the rest, A.V.; brethren for men and brethren, A.V. Pricked in their heart (κατενύγησαν). The LXX. rendering of Psalm 109:16 (15, Prayer-book), "broken," or "vexed at the heart." Genesis 34:7 it is rendered "grieved." Unto Peter and the rest of the apostles. It is important to note from the beginning the relative position of Peter and the other apostles; a certain primacy and precedence, both in place and in action, he has undoubtedly. He is always named first, and he acts first, in preaching both to Jews and Gentiles. The keys are in his hands, and the door is first opened as he turns the lock. But it is equally clear that he is but one of the apostles; he is not set over them, but acts with them; he is not their superior, but their fellow; they are not eclipsed by his presence, but only animated by his example; inquirers after salvation do not ask at his mouth only, but of the whole college of the apostles. Brethren (see ver. 29). The Jews and Israelites now hold out the right hand of brotherhood to those whom before they reviled (ver. 13). What shall we do? It is a sign of the working of God's Spirit in the heart, renewing it to repentance, when men feel the need of changing their old course of thought and action, and inquire anxiously what they must do to inherit eternal life (comp. Mark 10:17; Acts 9:6; Acts 16:30).
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Verse 38. - And for then, A.V.; said (in italics) for said, A.V. and T.R.; repent ye for repent, A.V.; unto for for, A.V.; your sins for sins, A.V. Repent, etc. We have in this short verse the summary of Christian doctrine as regards man and God. Repentance and faith on the part of man; forgiveness of sins, or justification, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, or sanctification, on the part of God. And both these are expressed in the sacrament of baptism, which as it were ties the act of man to the promise of God. For the sacrament expresses man's faith and repentance on one side, and God's forgiveness and gift on the other.
For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
Verse 39. - To you is the promise for the promise is unto you, A.V.; shall call unto him for shall call. To you is the promise (see Acts 1:4; Acts 2:33). There is also a reference to the prophecy in Joel, quoted in vers. 17-21. To all that are afar off; i.e. the Gentiles, as appears clearly from Ephesians 2:17, where the same phrase is applied to the Ephesian Christians, and the Jewish Christians are spoken of as "those that were nigh." The fulfilment to the Gentiles is specially recorded (Acts 10:45; Acts 11:15, 18, etc.). Shall call unto him (comp. Romans 1:6; Romans 8:28, 30; Romans 9:24; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:6 (etc.), which confirm the application of the "afar off" to the Gentiles.
And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
Verse 40. - He testified, and exhorted for did he testify and exhort, A.V.; crooked for untoward, A.V. Save yourselves, etc. The idea is that the crooked generation which denied and crucified the Lord is hurrying on to their destruction. Those who would not perish with them must come out from amongst them and be separate from them (2 Corinthians 6:19), and seek safely in the ark of Christ's Church (1 Peter 3:21), as Noah did in the ark, and as Lot did in Zoar. So the jailer at Philippi, seeking to be saved, was baptized straightway (Acts 16:30-33). This was the drift and end of all St. Peter's exhortations.
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
Verse 41. - They then for then they, A.V.; received for gladly received, A.V. and T.R.; there were added unto them in that day for the same day there were added unto them, A.V. Gladly received. The best manuscripts omit ἀσμενως, which, indeed, is superfluous, as the word ἀποδέχομαι contains in itself the idea of a kind reception - a welcome (Luke 8:40; Acts 15:4; Acts 24:3).
And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
Verse 42. - Teaching for doctrine, A.V.; in the breaking for and in breaking, A.V. and T.R.; the prayers for in prayer, A.V. And fellowship; better, as in the margin, in fellowship; not meaning the apostles' fellowship, but the fellowship of the Church - that common life of close brotherhood in which all that they did was done in common, and all that they possessed was possessed in common, so that there seemed to be but one heart and one mind amongst them all. Breaking of bread; in the Holy Eucharist (see Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; Luke 24:30; 1 Corinthians 11:24; 1 Corinthians 10:16; Acts 20:7). The prayers; the common prayers of the Church.
And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
Verse 43. - Fear came, etc. This seems to be spoken of the awe which fell upon the whole people, and restrained them from interfering with the disciples. Just as at the first settlement of Israel in the land of Canaan God laid the fear of them and the dread of them upon all the hind (Deuteronomy 11:25), so now the fear engendered by the events on the day of Pentecost, by the signs and wonders which followed and by the wonderful unity and holiness of the newborn Church, so wrought upon every soul at Jerusalem that all enmity was paralyzed, and the disciples had time to multiply and to consolidate and establish themselves before the storm of persecution fell upon them.
And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
Verse 44. - Were together (ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό; see Acts 1:15, note, and above, ver. 42). Had all things common. Just as the Transfiguration gave a passing glimpse of the state of glory, so here we have a specimen of what Christian love and unity in its perfection, and unchecked by contact with the world without, would, and perhaps some day will, produce. But even at Jerusalem this bright vision of a paradise on earth was soon troubled by the earthly dissensions recorded in Acts 6; and the Christian community received a timely lesson that things good in themselves are not always practicable in an evil world, where sluggish virtues require the stimulants of bodily wants to draw them out and strengthen them, and where hypocrisy often claims the kindly offices which are due only to disciples indeed.
And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
Verse 45. - They sold for sold, A.V.; all for all men, A.V. ; according as any for as every, A.V.
And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
Verse 46. - Day by day continuing steadfastly for they continuing daily, A.V.; at home for from house to house, A.V.; they did take their food for did eat their meat, A.V. In the temple. It is very remarkable that at this early age of the Church's existence Christians did not deem themselves separated from their Jewish brethren, or from the Old Testament institutions. Christianity was but Judaism perfected; the gospel the full blossoming of the Law. The first Christian Jews, therefore, did not conceive of themselves as quitting the religion of their fathers, but rather hoped that their whole nation would in a short time acknowledge Jesus to be the Christ. Christian institutions, therefore - the prayers, the breaking of bread, the prophesyings and speaking with tongues, and the apostolic teachings - were supplemental to the temple service, not antagonistic to it; and the church took the place rather of the synagogue than of the temple (see 'Dict. of Bible:' "Synagogue"). At home. This version hardly represents the true idea of the original; κατ οϊκον represents the private Christian place of meeting, as contrasted with the temple. The meaning is not that every disciple broke bread in his own house, but that they broke bread at the house where the Christian assemblies were held, whether one or more. We have already seen the Church gathered together "in an upper room" (Acts 1:13), in "one place," in "a house" (Acts 2:1, 2), and "together" (ver. 44; see too Acts 4:31); and we know that as the synagogue was called בֵּית תְפִּלָּה, house of prayer, or בֵּית הַכְּנֶסֶת, the house of assemblage, so the Christian place of meeting was called ὁ Κυριακὸς οῖκος; the Lord's house, whence the word "church." (For breaking bread, see above, ver. 42.) They did take their food. The link of connection is the ἀγάπη or love-feast, which formed an important part of the κοινωνία, or common life, of the early Christians. The whole description is a beautiful picture of Christian unity, piety, love, and joy.
Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
Verse 47. - To them day by day for to the Church daily, A.V. and T.R.; those that were being sated for such as should be saved, A.V. Added to them day by day. The R.T. has instead of τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ the words ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό, which in Acts 2:1 are properly rendered "in one place," but do not seem to be rendered at all in the R.V. of this verse. In fact, they have no sense unless you construe them with τοὺς σωζομένους, "those who escaped to the same place," i.e. to the Church. But it seems most probable that the words ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό do really belong to Acts 3:1, where they are found in the T.R. If τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ does not properly belong to the text (it is wanting in A, B, C, א, and many versions), then προσετίθει must be taken absolutely, as προσετέθησαν is in ver. 41, the Church, or the disciples, being understood. Those that were being saved. The exhortation in ver. 40 was "Save yourselves from this crooked generation." Those who were added to the Church were those who complied with the exhortation, and escaped from complicity with their unbelieving countrymen. They were the remnant that escaped. (See the use of οἱ σωζόμενοι in the LXX. (2 Chronicles 20:25, etc.), and see Mark 16:16.)

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