Acts 13:17
The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelled as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it.
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(17) The God of this people of Israel.—It will be observed that St. Paul, as far as the plan of his discourse is concerned, follows in the footsteps of St. Stephen, and begins by a recapitulation of the main facts of the history of Israel. It was a theme which Israelites were never tired of listening to. It showed that the Apostles recognised it as the history of God’s chosen people.

And exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers.—Literally, in their sojourning in the land of Egypt. The word for “exalt” is found in the Greek of Isaiah 1:2, where our version has, “I have nourished and brought up children,” and may fairly be considered as an echo from the lesson that had just been read. It may be noted that it was only in this sense, as increasing rapidly in population, that Israel could be spoken of as “exalted” in the house of bondage.

Acts 13:17-18. The God of this people, &c. — Such a commemoration of God’s favours to their fathers, as he here gives, was at once calculated to conciliate their minds to the speaker, to convince them of their duty to God, and to invite them to believe his promise and its accomplishment. This paragraph contains the whole sum of the Old Testament. See the passages referred to in the margin, and the notes thereon. Chose our fathers — Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to be the objects of his special favour, and for their sakes was pleased to promise most important blessings to their offspring; and exalted the people — Wrought astonishing miracles in their behalf, and raised them from the state of bondage and depression in which they lay prostrate in Egypt; and with a high arm — With an evident and most extraordinary display of uncontrollable and almighty power; brought them out of it — In spite of all the efforts of Pharaoh and his host to detain them in slavery. And forty years suffered he their manners — Greek, ετροποφορησεν, he endured their behaviour; by which expression the apostle gives an oblique intimation of that perverseness and ingratitude which so early began to prevail among them. But, according to the Alexandrian and Cambridge manuscripts, and the Syriac, Arabic, Coptic, and Ethiopic versions, the genuine reading is, ετροφοφορησεν, he nursed, or cherished them: a sense which suggests a fine view of the conduct of Divine Providence toward them; and, as Dr. Hammond observes, is beautifully connected with the expression of taking them up, when they lay like an exposed infant. See Deuteronomy 1:31; Ezekiel 16:4-8. The common reading, however, accords better with Psalm 96:8-10; Hebrews 3:8-11, and a variety of other passages of Scripture, where the perverse and ungrateful behaviour of the Israelites toward God, and his great patience with them, are represented as being so extraordinary as to deserve peculiar attention; and therefore, it seems, that reading ought to be preferred; as also, because it is supported by a much greater number of manuscripts and versions.13:14-31 When we come together to worship God, we must do it, not only by prayer and praise, but by the reading and hearing of the word of God. The bare reading of the Scriptures in public assemblies is not enough; they should be expounded, and the people exhorted out of them. This is helping people in doing that which is necessary to make the word profitable, to apply it to themselves. Every thing is touched upon in this sermon, which might best prevail with Jews to receive and embrace Christ as the promised Messiah. And every view, however short or faint, of the Lord's dealings with his church, reminds us of his mercy and long-suffering, and of man's ingratitude and perverseness. Paul passes from David to the Son of David, and shows that this Jesus is his promised Seed; a Saviour to do that for them, which the judges of old could not do, to save them from their sins, their worst enemies. When the apostles preached Christ as the Saviour, they were so far from concealing his death, that they always preached Christ crucified. Our complete separation from sin, is represented by our being buried with Christ. But he rose again from the dead, and saw no corruption: this was the great truth to be preached.The God of this people - Who has manifested himself as the special friend and protector of this nation. This implied a belief that he had been particularly their God; a favorite doctrine of the Jews, and one that would conciliate their favor toward Paul.

Of Israel - The Jews.

Chose our fathers - Selected the nation to be a chosen and special people to himself, Deuteronomy 7:6-7.

And exalted the people - Raised them up from a low and depressed state of bondage, to freedom, and to special privileges as a nation.

When they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt - ἐν τῇ παροικίᾳ en tē paroikia. This properly refers to their dwelling there as foreigners. They were always strangers there in a strange land. It was not their home. They never mingled with the people; never became constituent parts of the government; never used their language; never united with their usages and laws. They were a strange, separate, depressed people there; not less so than Africans are strangers and foreigners a depressed and degraded people in this land (America), Genesis 36:7; Exodus 6:4; Exodus 22:21; Exodus 23:9; Leviticus 19:34; Deuteronomy 10:19.

And with an high arm - This expression denotes "great power." The arm denotes "strength," as that by which we perform anything. A high arm, an arm lifted up, or stretched out, denotes that "strength exerted to the utmost." The children of Israel are represented as having been delivered with an "outstretched arm," Deuteronomy 26:8; Exodus 6:6. "With a strong hand," Exodus 6:1. Reference is made in these places to the plagues inflicted on Egypt, by which the Israelites were delivered; to their passage through the Red Sea; to their victories over their enemies, etc.

15-17. Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand—as was his manner on such occasions (Ac 21:40; and see Ac 26:1).

Men of Israel, and ye that fear God—by the latter expression meaning religious proselytes, who united with the Jews in all acts of ordinary worship.

and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in Egypt—by marvellous interpositions for them in their deepest depression.

The God of this people of Israel; God was the God of Israel after a peculiar manner.

Chose our fathers; having chosen them before all nations, to make him known unto them, to be served and worshipped by them.

And exalted the people; and God exalted them in the time of Joseph, and whilst the memory of that great preservation wrought by his means did continue, till another king arose that knew not Joseph.

An high arm; the many miracles done by the power of God towards the Israelites’ deliverance out of Egypt. By which the apostle would have them remember, that they owed all which they challenged from their progenitors to the grace and blessing of God only, and that God may do with his own as he please. The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers,.... Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their seed after them, to be a peculiar people to himself; wherefore he is often, as here, styled their God, and whom he distinguished and blessed with many blessings, civil and religious, above all people upon the face of the earth. The apostle seems particularly to address himself to the Gentiles, the inhabitants of Antioch, and the proselytes of righteousness, now in the synagogue, Acts 13:42 and, as it were, with his finger pointed to the native Jews present, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, a part of the people whose God the Lord was:

and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt as they did for many years, and as the Lord foretold to Abraham they should, Genesis 15:13 This refers either to the great honour and dignity Joseph was advanced unto, and to the favours and privileges bestowed on Jacob and his family at the first of their sojourning in that land; or to the great increase of their posterity towards the close of it, even when they were the most oppressed and afflicted.

And with an high arm he brought them out of it out of the land of Egypt, and out of their oppression in it; which was owing to, and was a wonderful display of his mighty power and great strength here expressed by an "high arm" for nothing short of that could have wrought deliverance for them.

The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and {i} exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an {k} high arm brought he them out of it.

(i) Advanced and brought to honour.

(k) Openly and with strong power, breaking in pieces the enemies of his people.

Acts 13:17. Τοῦ λαοῦ τούτου Ἰσρ. (see the critical remarks) refers with τούτου to the address ἄνδρες Ἰσρ., and with the venerated name Ἰσραήλ the theocratic national feeling is appealed to. Comp. 2 Corinthians 11:22.

ἐξελέξατο] He chose for Himself, namely, from the mass of mankind, to be His peculiar property. On τοὺς πατέρ. ἡμ., the patriarchs, comp. Romans 9:5; Romans 11:1; Romans 11:16. In them the people saw the channels and sureties of the divine grace.

ὕψωσεν] During the sojourn in Egypt, God exalted the people, making them great in number and strength, and especially distinguishing and glorifying them in the period directly before the Exodus by miraculous arrangements (of Moses). The history, which Paul supposes as known, requires this interpretation (comp. already Chrysostom, who in ὕψωσεν finds the two points: εἰς πλῆθος ἐπέδοσαν and τὰ θαύματα διʼ αὐτοὺς γέγονε). Others, among whom are Kuinoel, Olshausen, and de Wette, arbitrarily limit ὕψωσεν merely to the increase of number, appealing even to Genesis 48:19, Sir 44:21; Sir 50:22, where, however, ὑψοῦν, as always (comp. particularly Isaiah 1:2), signifies nothing else than to exalt. The special nature of the exaltation is derived purely from the context. Calvin, Elsner, and Heinrichs suppose that the deliverance from Egypt is meant. But the exaltation, according to the text, occurred ἐν τῇ παροικίᾳ ἐν γῇ Αἰγύπτῳ (Acts 7:6; Acts 7:29; Wis 19:10), during their sojourn as strangers in Egypt. Beza and Grotius think that it is the ὕψωσις of the people by and under Joseph that is meant. Erroneously, as ὕψωσεν stands in historical connection with the following ἐξήγαγεν.

μετὰ βραχίονος ὑψηλοῦ] i.e. without figure: ἐν τῇ ἰσχύϊ αὐτοῦ τῇ μεγάλῃ. LXX. Deuteronomy 4:37. Jehovah is conceived as a leader who advances with uplifted arm, at the head of His people, for their defence against all their enemies. Comp. Exodus 6:1; Exodus 6:6; Bar 2:11.

Acts 13:17-22. An introduction very wisely prefixed to prepare the minds of the Jews, giving the historical basis of the subsequent announcement that the Messiah has appeared, and carried down to David, the royal Messianic ancestor and type; the leading thought of which is not the free grace of God, but generally the divine Messianic guidance of the people before the final appearance of the Messiah Himself.Acts 13:17. τούτου: this points back to Ἰσρ.: an appeal to ‘the national pride of the people in their theocratic privileges and names, cf. 2 Corinthians 11:22, Romans 9:6.—ἐξελ. so often in LXX of God’s choice of Israel.—ὕψωσεν: “exalted,” A. and R.V. Weiss and Wendt, with Bethge and Blass, restrict its meaning to increase in numbers, Genesis 48:19, Acts 7:17, so also Overbeck; whilst others refer it to the miraculous events connected with their sojourn as well as to their increase in numbers (so St. Chrysostom), others take it of the exaltation of the people under Joseph. But the word may certainly mean something more than numerical increase, and include increase in strength and power (so Hackett, Page). It is used once by St. Paul elsewhere, 2 Corinthians 11:7, in contrast with ταπεινόω, cf. its similar use in Luke 1:52. Rendall refers its use here to 2 Kings 25:27, “lifted up,” i.e., at the end of a miserable state of bondage, a passage where the verb is closely joined with ἐξήγαγεν. In Isaiah 1:2; Isaiah 23:4 it is used of bringing up children.—παροικίᾳ, cf. Acts 7:6, and for the noun as here, LXX, 2Es 8:35, Wis 19:10. Prologue of Ecclus., Acts 13:26, Psalm 120:5.—μετὰ βραχίονος ὑψ., cf. Exodus 6:1; Exodus 6:6, Deuteronomy 5:15, etc., Psalm 136:12, Bar 2:11, etc. Hebraistic, cf. Luke 1:51, where we have ἐν as in Hebrew, but in LXX μετά as of the accompanying the arm of God, and not merely of his power as bringing the people out.17. The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers] He commends his words to their hearing by dwelling on the historic facts of their national life as God’s chosen people.Acts 13:17. Ὁ Θεὸς, God) By such a mention of Him their minds were conciliated, when they saw that Paul agrees with the books of the Old Testament. They were proved by Paul to lie under a peculiar obligation towards the supremely good and great God, and were invited to have faith in His promise and its fulfilment. In the six verses, 17–22, the whole recapitulation of the Old Testament is clearly set forth (is completed): the rest of his address treats of the New Testament.—τοῦ λαοῦ τούτου, of this people) Paul especially addresses those whom he calls persons fearing GOD; and he speaks of (not to) Israel, Acts 13:23; until in Acts 13:26 he more directly addresses the Israelites also.—ἐξελέξατο, chose out) It was the Divine election that exalted the people; not the merit of the people, or any worthiness in them: Ezekiel 20:5.—πατέρας, fathers) Abraham and his posterity.Verse 17. - Israel for of Israel, A.V., sojourned for dwelt as strangers, A.V.; a for an, A.V.; led he them forth for brought he them out, A.V. The word ὕψωσεν, exalted, is thought by some to be borrowed from the LXX. of Isaiah 1:2 (רוןממְתִי), I have brought up" (A.V.), but this is very doubtful, as ὑψόω is frequently used in the New Testament in the sense of exalting from a low to a high estate (see Matthew 11:23; Matthew 23:12; Luke 1:52; Luke 10:15; Luke 14:11; Acts 2:33; see too Genesis 41:52 (LXX., Cod. Vat.) and Gen 48:19). The resemblance of this exordium to that of Stephen's speech in Acts 7. must strike every one. The natural conclusion is that that speech made a deep impression upon St. Paul when he heard it at Stephen's trial. The common purpose in the two speeches is to conciliate and gain the attention of the Jewish hearers by dwelling upon the great events of the history of their fathers, of which they were proud, and claiming for Christians an equal heritage in that history. The speeches diverge in that Stephen sought to show in that history instances of the same stubborn unbelief in their fathers which had led the children to crucify the Lord of glory; but St. Paul rather sought to show how the promises made to their fathers had their fulfillment in that Jesus whom he preached unto them, and how the crucifixion of Christ by the Jerusalem Jews was an exact fulfillment of the Law and the prophets which had just been read to them in the synagogue. In both speeches it is a great point to exhibit Christianity as the true development of Judaism (comp. Hebrews 1:1 and throughout). People (λαοῦ)

Restricted in the Acts to the people of Israel.

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