Acts 1:24
And they prayed, and said, You, Lord, which know the hearts of all men, show whether of these two you have chosen,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(24) Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men.—Literally, heart-knower of all men. The compound word is not found in any Greek version of the Old Testament, but meets us again in Acts 15:8. The question meets us whether the prayer is addressed to the Lord Jesus, as with a recollection of His insight into the hearts of men (John 2:24; John 6:64), or to the Father. The prayer of Stephen (Acts 7:59-60) shows, on the one hand, that direct prayer to the Son was not foreign to the minds of the disciples; and in John 6:70, He claims the act of choosing as His own. On the other hand, the analogy of Acts 4:29, where the Father is entreated to work signs and wonders “through his holy servant Jesus,” is in favour of the latter view.

“Whether,” as used in the sense of “which of two,” may be noted as one of the archaisms of the English version.

Acts 1:24-25. And they prayed — With great seriousness and solemnity, and in faith, persuaded their prayer would be answered; Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men — With all the counsels, the designs, and desires thereof, with every secret sentiment of the soul, and all the future circumstances of every one’s life; show whether of these two thou hast chosen — They do not say, which of the seventy, for in the opinion of all present, none could stand in competition with these; but, which of these two, for they were persuaded Christ would appoint one of them, and it was determined to acquiesce entirely in his choice. It is fit God should choose his own servants, and so far as, by the disposals of his providence, the gifts of his Spirit, or in any other way, he shows whom he hath chosen, or what he hath chosen for us, we ought readily to comply with him, and to be perfectly satisfied. It is a comfort to us to be assured, in all our prayers for the welfare of the church and its ministers, that the God we pray to knows the hearts of all men, and hath them not only under his eye, but in his hand, and can turn them which way soever he will; can make them fit for his purpose if he do not find them so, by giving them another spirit. That he may take part of this ministry — The ministry of the gospel, the apostleship; may join with us in the work of serving Christ and his church; and glorifying God in saving the souls of men, and may share with us in the honour and happiness thereof; from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place — His own, that is, says Grotius, “qui ipsi melius conveniebat quam apostolica functio,” which was more suitable for him than the apostolic office. The expression evidently means a place worthy of him, and which he had deserved by his sin. Hence some manuscripts, instead of ιδιον, his own, read δικαιον, just; that he might go to his just or proper place, a place agreeable to his actions, and therefore assigned him by the righteous judgment of God; namely, a place of punishment in hell. But it is objected, that it belonged not to Peter to pass sentence on Judas, or to affirm any thing of God’s secret counsels, such as Judas’s being consigned to future punishment. “This,” says Dr. Whitby, “is wonderful; that when Christ had pronounced him a devil; (John 6:71;) a son of perdition; (John 17:12;) and declared that it had been better for him that he had never been born; (Matthew 26:24;) it should be thought a diving into God’s secrets, to say he went into a place prepared for, or due to, such miscreants. Moreover, doth not our Saviour say, this fall of the son of perdition was foretold in the Scripture? John 17:12. Does not Peter here apply those Scriptures to him, which foretel the most dreadful things? And does not Luke show the dreadful issue of his iniquity upon his body? And after all this, might he not say, he went to a place proper for him? Whosoever betrays an Israelite into the hands of the Gentiles, say the Jews, hath no part in the world to come; how much less he who betrays the Messiah, the king of Israel, into the hands of the Gentiles, or of his enemies? Matthew 20:19; and Matthew 26:24.”1:15-26 The great thing the apostles were to attest to the world, was, Christ's resurrection; for that was the great proof of his being the Messiah, and the foundation of our hope in him. The apostles were ordained, not to wordly dignity and dominion, but to preach Christ, and the power of his resurrection. An appeal was made to God; Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, which we do not; and better than they know their own. It is fit that God should choose his own servants; and so far as he, by the disposals of his providence, or the gifts of his Spirit, shows whom he was chosen, or what he has chosen for us, we ought to fall in with his will. Let us own his hand in the determining everything which befalls us, especially in those by which any trust may be committed to us.And they prayed - As they could not agree on the individual, they invoked the direction of God in their choice - an example which should be followed in every selection of an individual to exercise the duties of the sacred office of the ministry.

Which knowest the hearts of all men - This is often declared to be the special prerogative of God, Jeremiah 17:10, "I, Yahweh, search the heart," etc.; Psalm 139:1, Psalm 139:23; 1 Chronicles 28:9. Yet this attribute is also expressly ascribed to Jesus Christ, Revelation 2:18; compare 23, "These things saith the Son of God - I am he which searcheth the reins and the hearts"; John 2:25; John 6:64; John 16:19. There are strong reasons for supposing that the apostles on this occasion addressed this prayer to the Lord Jesus Christ:

(1) The name Lord - Κύριος Kurios - is the common appellation which they gave to him, Acts 2:36; Acts 7:59-60; Acts 10:36; 1 Corinthians 2:8; Philippians 2:11; Revelation 11:8, et al.

(2) we are told that they worshipped him, or rendered him divine honors after his ascension, Luke 24:52.

(3) the disciples were accustomed to address him after his crucifixion by the names Lord or God indifferently, Acts 1:6; John 20:28; Acts 7:59.

(4) this was a matter pertaining especially to the church which the Lord Jesus had redeemed, and "to his own arrangement" in regard to it. He had chosen the apostles; he had given them their commission; he had fixed their number; and, what is worthy of special remark here, he had been the companion of the very men here designated as candidates for the office, and knew their qualifications for this work. If the apostles ever called on the Lord Jesus after his ascension, this was a case in which they would be likely to do it. That it was done is clear from the account of the death of Stephen, Acts 7:59-60. And in this important matter of ordaining a new apostle to be a witness for Jesus Christ, nothing was more natural than that they should address him, though bodily absent, as they would assuredly have done if he were present. But if on this occasion they did actually address Christ, then two things clearly follow. First, that it is proper to render him divine homage, agreeably to the uniform declarations of the Scripture: John 5:23, "That all men should honor the Son even as they honor the Father"; Hebrews 1:6, "And let all the angels of God worship him"; Philippians 2:10-11; Revelation 5:8-14; 1 Thessalonians 3:11-12. Secondly, he must be divine. To none other but God can religious homage be rendered; and none other can be described as knowing the hearts of all people. The reason why they appealed to him on this occasion as the searcher of the heart was doubtless the great importance of the work to which the successor of Judas was to be called. One apostle of fair external character had proved a traitor; and, with this fact before them, they appealed to the Saviour himself to select one who would be true to him, and not bring dishonor upon his cause.

Show whether ... - Show which of them.

Thou hast chosen - Which of the two thou hast judged to be best qualified for the work.

24. prayed and said, Thou, Lord, &c.—"The word 'Lord,' placed absolutely, denotes in the New Testament almost universally THE SON; and the words, 'Show whom Thou hast chosen,' are decisive. The apostles are just Christ's messengers: It is He that sends them, and of Him they bear witness. Here, therefore, we have the first example of a prayer offered to the exalted Redeemer; furnishing indirectly the strongest proof of His divinity" [Olshausen].

which knowest the hearts of all men—See Joh 2:24, 25; 21:15-17; Re 2:23.

The other apostles being chosen by God immediately, it was necessary that he who was to act in the same office, should be chosen after the same manner.

Knowest the heart, which is God’s prerogative only; all others may be, and often are, mistaken by outward appearances. And they prayed and said,.... Having proposed the above two persons, and not well knowing which to pitch upon, they being both very agreeable and fit for such service; they chose not to determine the affair without seeking to God for direction; a method to be taken in all cases, and especially in matters of importance: and the substance of their petition, though perhaps not in just the same words, was,

thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men; which is a character peculiar to the one only living, and true God; for none knows the hearts of men, but God, who is the Maker of them; and he knows all the thoughts, counsels, and purposes of them, and the good or bad that is in them:

shew whether of these two thou hast chosen; being desirous of having their choice directed by the choice God had made, in his eternal mind; and which they desired might be signified and pointed out to them, in some way or another, that they might be certain of the mind and will of God, and act according to it.

And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 1:24-25. Without doubt it was Peter, who prayed in the name of all present. The προσευξάμ. is contemporaneous with εἶπον: praying they said. See on Ephesians 1:9.

κύριε] יהוה. Comp. Acts 4:29. In opposition to the view of Bengel, Olshausen, and Baumgarten, that the prayer is directed to Jesus,—for which ὃν ἐξελέξω is appealed to, because Christ chooses His own messengers,—Acts 15:7 is decisive, where the same Peter says expressly of God: ἐξελέξατο διὰ τοῦ στόματός μου ἀκοῦσαι τὰ ἔθνη, etc., and then also calls God καρδιογνώστης (comp. ח̇קֵר לֵב, Jeremiah 17:10). By the decision of the lot the call to the apostleship was to take place, and the call is that of God, Galatians 1:15. God is addressed as καρδιογνώστ. because the object was to choose the intrinsically best qualified among the two, and this was a matter depending on the divine knowledge of the heart. The word itself is found neither in Greek writers nor in the LXX.

In λαβεῖν τὸν τόπον (see the critical notes) the ministry is considered as a place, as a post which the person concerned is to receive. Comp. Sir 12:12.

καὶ ἀποστολῆς] designates more definitely the previous διακονίας. There is thus here, among the many instances for the most part erroneously assumed, a real case of an ἓν διὰ δυοῖν. See Fritzsche, ad Matth. p. 856; Nägelsb. z. Ilias, p. 361, ed. 3.

ἀφʼ ἧς παρέβη] away from which Judas has passed over, to go to his own place. A solemn circumstantiality of description. Judas is vividly depicted, as he, forsaking his apostleship (ἀφʼ ἧς), has passed from that position to go to his own place. Comp. Sir 23:18 : παραβαίνων ἀπὸ τῆς κλίνης αὐτοῦ.

πορευθ. εἰς τ. τόπ. τ. ἴδιον] denotes the end destined by God for the unworthy Judas as his own, to which he must come by his withdrawal from the apostolic office. But the meaning of ὁ τόπος ὁ ἴδιος (the expression is purposely chosen as correlative to τὸν τόπον τ. διακ. etc.) is not to be decided from the linguistic use of τόπος, as τόπος may denote any place, but entirely from the context. And this requires us to understand by it Gehenna, which is conceived as the place to which Judas, according to his individuality, belongs. As his treason was so frightful a crime, the hearers could be in no doubt as to the τόπος ἴδιος. This explanation is also required for the completeness and energy of the speech, and is itself confirmed by analogous rabbinical passages; see in Lightfoot, e.g. Baal Turim, on Numbers 24:25 : “Balaam ivit in locum suum, i.e. in Gehennam.” Hence the explanations are to be rejected which refer τόπ. ἴδιος to the habitation of Judas (Keuchen, Moldenhauer, Krebs, Bolten), or to that χωρίον, where he had perished (Elsner, Zeller, Lange, Baumgarten, and others), or to the “societas, quam cum sacerdotibus ceterisque Jesu adversariis inierat” (Heinrichs). Others (Hammond, Homberg, Heumann, Kypke, comp. already Oecumenius) refer πορευθῆναιἴδιον even to the successor of Judas, so that the τόπ. ἴδιος would be the apostleship destined for him. But such a construction would be involved (πορευθ. would require again to be taken as an object of λαβεῖν), and after λαβεῖνἀποστολῆς tautological. The reading δίκαιον (instead of ἴδιον) in A hits the correct meaning. The contrast appears in Clem. Cor. I. 5 as to Paul: εἰς τὸν ἅγιον τόπον ἐπορεύθη, and as to Peter: εἰς τὸν ὀφειλόμενον τόπον τῆς δόξης. Comp. Polyc. Phil. 9; Ignat. Magn. 5.Acts 1:24. Κύριε καρδιογνῶσταὃν ἐξελέξω. The words may well have been addressed to Christ: St. Peter had just spoken of Him as the Lord, his own experience and that of his fellow-disciples must have taught him that Jesus was One Who knew the hearts of all men (John 2:25; John 21:17), and he had heard his Master’s claim to have chosen the Apostles (cf. Luke 6:13; Luke 5:2 above, where the same verb is used). On the other hand Wendt regards as decisive against this view that St. Peter himself in Acts 15:7 says ἐξελέξατο ὁ θεός and then in Acts 1:8 calls God καρδιογνώστης (cf. Jeremiah 17:10, where Jehovah is said to search the heart). But the passage in Acts 15 is much too general in its reference to consider it decisive against any special prerogative ascribed to Jesus here (viz., the choice of His own Apostles), and the references to 2 Corinthians 1:1, Ephesians 2:1, where St. Paul refers his Apostleship to God, may be fairly met by Acts 9:17; Acts 26:16. It is quite true that in Acts 4:29 Κύριε is used in prayer plainly addressed to the Lord Jehovah, but it is equally certain that prayer was directed to Christ in the earliest days of the Church (Zahn, Skizzen aus dem Leben der alten Kirche, pp. 1–38 and notes), see also below on Acts 2:21 (and cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:11-12, and 2 Thessalonians 2:16; Archbishop of Armagh in Speaker’s Commentary, iii., 690).—ἀνάδειξον: in Luke 10:1 the only other passage in the N.T. where the word is used, it is applied to our Lord’s appointment of the Seventy, and is rendered “appointed,” A. and R.V. But here R.V. renders “show” as A.V. (Rendall, “appoint”). The verb however may be used in the sense of showing forth or clearly, and hence to proclaim, especially a person’s appointment to an office (cf. the noun ἀνάδειξις also used by St. Luke only in his Gospel, Luke 1:80); cf. for the former meaning, 2Ma 2:8; cf. 2Ma 5:6, and for the latter, 2 Macc. 9:14, 23, 35; 10:11; 14:12, 26; 1Es 1:35; 1Es 8:23; so too the use of the word in Polybius and Plutarch (see Grimm-Thayer, sub v., and Weiss, in loco).24. And they prayed, and said] Here we are not to conclude that St Luke has recorded any more than the purport of the prayer of the disciples, in the same way as in the speeches which he reports he has only preserved a brief abstract of the speakers’ arguments and language.

Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men] By the lot the final decision was left in the hands of God (cf. Proverbs 16:33), who alone could know which of these two, both having the needful qualifications as far as man could see, would prove the more excellent Apostle. The same expression is applied to God, Acts 15:8.

shew whether of these two] Literally, shew of these two the one whom thou hast chosen.Acts 1:24. Σὺ, Thou) Thou Thyself. It was necessary that an apostle should be called by an immediate call of God. They invoke Jesus as Lord; Acts 1:21 : for it was His province to choose an apostle; Acts 1:2, ch. Acts 9:17, Acts 26:16, Jesus to Saul, “I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness;” John 6:70, “Have I not chosen you Twelve?”—καρδιογνῶστα, who knowest the hearts) The heart, in the case of a minister of the Gospel, ought to be right: ch. Acts 8:21; 2 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Thessalonians 2:4. The heart it is which causes that the one should be preferred to the other, who was at least equally good, judging outwardly.—πάντων, of all) even of these two.—ἀνάδειξον, show) This was effected by the issue of the actual casting of lots. Jesus often appeared after the resurrection: and yet He did not then confer the apostle-ship on Matthias; but after the Ascension.Verse 24. - Of these two the one whom for whether of these two, A.V. and T.R. Which knowest the hearts (καρδιογνῶστα)

Only here and Acts 15:8. Lit., heart-knower.

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