Acts 13:38
Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeChrysostomClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBVWSWESTSK
(38) Men and brethren.—Better, brethren, simply.

Is preached . . .—The force of the Greek tense emphasises the fact that the forgiveness was, at that very moment, in the act of being proclaimed or preached.

Forgiveness of sins.—This forms the key-note of St. Paul’s preaching (here and in Acts 26:18), as it had done of St. Peter’s (Acts 2:38; Acts 5:31; Acts 10:43), as it had done before of that of the Baptist (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3), and of our Lord Himself (Matthew 9:2; Matthew 9:6; Luke 7:47; Luke 24:47). It was the ever-recurring burden of the glad tidings which were preached alike by all.



Acts 13:26 - Acts 13:39

The extended report of Paul’s sermon in the synagogue at Antioch of Pisidia marks it, in accordance with Luke’s method, as the first of a series. It was so because, though the composition of the audience was identical with that of those in the synagogues of Cyprus, this was the beginning of the special work of the tour, the preaching in the cities of Asia Minor. The part of the address contained in the passage falls into three sections,-the condensed narrative of the Gospel facts {Acts 13:26 - Acts 13:31}, the proof that the resurrection was prophesied {Acts 13:32 - Acts 13:37}, and the pungent personal application {Acts 13:38 - Acts 13:52}.

I. The substance of the narrative coincides, as it could not but do, with Peter’s sermons, but yet with differences, partly due to the different audience, partly to Paul’s idiosyncrasy.

After the preceding historical resume, he girds himself to his proper work of proclaiming the Gospel, and he marks the transition in Acts 13:26 by reiterating his introductory words.

His audience comprised the two familiar classes of Jews and Gentile proselytes, and he seeks to win the ears of both. His heart goes out in his address to them all as ‘brethren,’ and in his classing himself and Barnabas among them as receivers of the message which he has to proclaim. What skill, if it were not something much more sacred, even humility and warm love, lies in that ‘to us is the word of this salvation sent’! He will not stand above them as if he had any other possession of his message than they might have. He, too, has received it, and what he is about to say is not his word, but God’s message to them and him. That is the way to preach.

Notice, too, how skilfully he introduces the narrative of the rejection of Jesus as the reason why the message has now come to them his hearers away in Antioch. It is ‘sent forth’ ‘to us,’ Asiatic Jews, for the people in the sacred city would not have it. Paul does not prick his hearers’ consciences, as Peter did, by charging home the guilt of the rejection of Jesus on them. They had no share in that initial crime. There is a faint purpose of dissociating himself and his hearers from the people of Jerusalem, to whom the Dispersion were accustomed to look up, in the designation, ‘they that dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers.’ Thus far the Antioch Jews had had hands clean from that crime; they had now to choose whether they would mix themselves up with it.

We may further note that Paul says nothing about Christ’s life of gentle goodness, His miracles or teaching, but concentrates attention on His death and resurrection. From the beginning of his ministry these were the main elements of his ‘Gospel’ {1 Corinthians 15:3 - 1 Corinthians 15:4}. The full significance of that death is not declared here. Probably it was reserved for subsequent instruction. But it and the Resurrection, which interpreted it, are set in the forefront, as they should always be. The main point insisted on is that the men of Jerusalem were fulfilling prophecy in slaying Jesus. With tragic deafness, they knew not the voices of the prophets, clear and unanimous as they were, though they heard them every Sabbath of their lives, and yet they fulfilled them. A prophet’s words had just been read in the synagogue; Paul’s words might set some hearer asking whether a veil had been over his heart while his ears had heard the sound of the word.

The Resurrection is established by the only evidence for a historical fact, the testimony of competent eyewitnesses. Their competence is established by their familiar companionship with Jesus during His whole career; their opportunities for testing the reality of the fact, by the ‘many days’ of His appearances.

Paul does not put forward his own testimony to the Resurrection, though we know, from 1 Corinthians 15:8, that he regarded Christ’s appearance to him as being equally valid evidence with that afforded by the other appearances; but he distinguishes between the work of the Apostles, as ‘witnesses unto the people’-that is, the Jews of Palestine-and that of Barnabas and himself. They had to bear the message to the regions beyond. The Apostles and he had the same work, but different spheres.

II. The second part turns with more personal address to his hearers.

Its purport is not so much to preach the Resurrection, which could only be proved by testimony, as to establish the fact that it was the fulfilment of the promises to the fathers. Note how the idea of fulfilled prophecy runs in Paul’s head. The Jews had fulfilled it by their crime; God fulfilled it by the Resurrection. This reiteration of a key-word is a mark of Paul’s style in his Epistles, and its appearance here attests the accuracy of the report of his speech.

The second Psalm, from which Paul’s first quotation is made, is prophetic of Christ, inasmuch as it represents in vivid lyrical language the vain rebellion of earthly rulers against Messiah, and Jehovah’s establishing Him and His kingdom by a steadfast decree. Peter quoted its picture of the rebels, as fulfilled in the coalition of Herod, Pilate, and the Jewish rulers against Christ. The Messianic reference of the Psalm, then, was already seen; and we may not be going too far if we assume that Jesus Himself had included it among things written in the Psalms ‘concerning Himself,’ which He had explained to the disciples after the Resurrection. It depicts Jehovah speaking to Messiah, after the futile attempts of the rebels: ‘This day have I begotten Thee.’ That day is a definite point in time. The Resurrection was a birth from the dead; so Paul, in Colossians 1:18, calls Jesus ‘the first begotten from the dead.’ Romans 1:4,’declared to be the Son of God . . . by the resurrection from the dead,’ is the best commentary on Paul’s words here.

The second and third quotations must apparently be combined, for the second does not specifically refer to resurrection, but it promises to ‘you,’ that is to those who obey the call to partake in the Messianic blessings, a share in the ‘sure’ and enduring ‘mercies of David’; and the third quotation shows that not ‘to see corruption’ was one of these ‘mercies.’ That implies that the speaker in the Psalm was, in Paul’s view, David, and that his words were his believing answer to a divine promise. But David was dead. Had the ‘sure mercy’ proved, then, a broken reed? Not so: for Jesus, who is Messiah, and is God’s ‘Holy One’ in a deeper sense than David was, has not seen corruption. The Psalmist’s hopes are fulfilled in Him, and through Him, in all who will ‘eat’ that their ‘souls may live,’

III. But Paul’s yearning for his brethren’s salvation is not content with proclaiming the fact of Christ’s resurrection, nor with pointing to it as fulfilling prophecy; he gathers all up into a loving, urgent offer of salvation for every believing soul, and solemn warning to despisers.

Here the whole man flames out. Here the characteristic evangelical teaching, which is sometimes ticketed as ‘Pauline’ by way of stigma, is heard. Already had he grasped the great antithesis between Law and Gospel. Already his great word ‘justified’ has taken its place in his terminology. The essence of the Epistles to Romans and Galatians is here. Justification is the being pronounced and treated as not guilty. Law cannot justify. ‘In Him’ we are justified. Observe that this is an advance on the previous statement that ‘through Him’ we receive remission of sins.

‘In Him’ points, thought but incidentally and slightly, to the great truth of incorporation with Jesus, of which Paul had afterwards so much to write. The justifying in Christ is complete and absolute. And the sole sufficient condition of receiving it is faith. But the greater the glory of the light the darker the shadow which it casts. The broad offer of complete salvation has ever to be accompanied with the plain warning of the dread issue of rejecting it. Just because it is so free and full, and to be had on such terms, the warning has to be rung into deaf ears, ‘Beware therefore!’ Hope and fear are legitimately appealed to by the Christian evangelist. They are like the two wings which may lift the soul to soar to its safe shelter in the Rock of Ages.

Acts 13:38-39. Be it known unto you, therefore — Be persuaded of this as a most certain and momentous truth, a truth infinitely consolatory; that through this man — This seed of David, and Song of Solomon of God; is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins — The free, full, and assured pardon of all your offences, be they ever so great, and ever so aggravated. And by him — By his mediation, by his sacrifice and intercession; all that believe — Greek, πας ο πιστευων, every one that believeth; namely, in him as the Messiah promised of old, the Saviour of the world, able and willing to save to the uttermost all that come unto God through him; every one that relies entirely on him for salvation, present and eternal, and receives him in all his offices and characters, (of which see the note on John 1:12,) every one whose faith in him, and in the declarations and promises of his gospel, worketh by love, Galatians 5:6; is justified from all things — Has the actual forgiveness of all his sins, and is accounted righteous by and before God at the very time of his believing. Observe, from all things, not only from the guilt of smaller miscarriages, but even of those things which are in the highest degree criminal; and from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses — By the whole or any part thereof, moral or ceremonial. Not only ye cannot now, but ye never could: for that law afforded no expiation for presumptuous sins, so that the offender should be exempted from temporal punishment, but he was to die without mercy under two or three witnesses, that is, if two or three witnesses attested his guilt; nor could the sacrifices of it remove the guilt of such sins, or indeed of any sin, before God, make an atonement to his justice, or procure the sinner’s reconciliation with him. See Hebrews 10:1-12. The Mosaic “law appointed sin-offerings to expiate smaller offences, so far as the offender who offered them should be free from all further prosecution on account of them. But this very view of them shows how absolutely necessary to the being of society it was, that they should not be admitted in cases of murder, adultery, &c. These crimes, therefore, were made capital; nor was the dying criminal, however penitent, allowed to offer them, which would have been quite inconsistent with the temporal pardon connected with them. But the expiatory sacrifice of Christ takes away the guilt of all sin,”

with respect to the penitent that believe aright on him; “and though it by no means affects the manner in which offenders may stand in human courts, (which the Mosaic sacrifices did,) it delivers from the condemnation of God in the invisible world; with respect to which, those of the Mosaic law could have no efficacy at all,” except so far as penitent offenders, considering these sacrifices as typifying that of Christ, were brought, through them, to have a believing dependance on him and his sacrifice.

13:38-41 Let all that hear the gospel of Christ, know these two things: 1. That through this Man, who died and rose again, is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins. Your sins, though many and great, may be forgiven, and they may be so without any injury to God's honour. 2. It is by Christ only that those who believe in him, and none else, are justified from all things; from all the guilt and stain of sin, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses. The great concern of convinced sinners is, to be justified, to be acquitted from all their guilt, and accepted as righteous in God's sight, for if any is left charged upon the sinner, he is undone. By Jesus Christ we obtain a complete justification; for by him a complete atonement was made for sin. We are justified, not only by him as our Judge but by him as the Lord our Righteousness. What the law could not do for us, in that it was weak, the gospel of Christ does. This is the most needful blessing, bringing in every other. The threatenings are warnings; what we are told will come upon impenitent sinners, is designed to awaken us to beware lest it come upon us. It ruins many, that they despise religion. Those that will not wonder and be saved, shall wonder and perish.Be it known ... - Paul, having proved his resurrection, and shown that he was the Messiah, now states the benefits that were to be derived from his death.

Through this man - See the notes on Luke 24:47.

38-41. the forgiveness of sins—the first necessity of the sinner, and so the first experienced blessing of the Gospel. Men and brethren; the usual compellation given in these cases.

This man; having spoken concerning Christ’s resurrection, which only can be meant of him in his human nature, here, according unto that nature, the apostle calls him man.

The forgiveness of sins; as in Acts 10:43. This forgiveness of sins is that which the apostle so much would recommend to all to seek after, and magnify Christ for, it heing only through him; and he could not be overcome by death, who could deliver us from sin.

Be it known unto you, therefore, men and brethren,.... The apostle having discoursed concerning the incarnation of Christ, his death and resurrection, proceeds to take notice of some particular benefits and blessings of grace arising from thence, which are published and made known to the sons of men in the everlasting Gospel, as were now to the Jews by Paul and Barnabas; such as forgiveness of sins through the blood of Christ, and justification by his righteousness; the former of them is mentioned in this verse, the latter in the next:

that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; forgiveness of sins, which is sometimes expressed by a non-imputation of them, a non-remembrance of them, a covering and putting them away, and a blotting them out, is an act of free grace and mercy, and yet is through the blood of Christ; through that believers have it; Christ is exalted as a Prince and a Saviour to give it, having by his blood procured it; and this is a principal doctrine of the Gospel, which is published in his name, and which the light of nature and law of Moses know nothing of, and cannot ascertain; the prophets bear testimony to this truth, that everyone that believes in Christ shall receive the remission of sins, of all his sins. That there is a God is known by the light of nature, and that sin is an offence unto him; but by it is not known in what way offended Deity is appeased; nor does it, nor can it assure any that God will forgive sin on any account whatever; not on account of mercy in him, nor on account of good works, or of repentance in them; God, as the God of nature, does not forgive sin, but as the God of grace: and though the law of Moses declares what is good, and gives knowledge of evil, yet admits not of repentance as a satisfaction for sin committed; nor does it represent God as merciful, but as just, and so accuses, condemns, and kills: the doctrine of forgiveness is a pure doctrine of the Gospel; and when it is preached aright, it is preached through Christ, not through the works of the law, not through repentance, nor through faith, nor through the absolute mercy of God, but through Christ, through the blood of Christ, which was shed to obtain it in a way consistent with the justice of God; and through his hands it is given. When Christ is called a "man", it must not be thought that he is a mere man; he is God as well as man; had he been a mere man, forgiveness of sin could not have been by his blood, or through his name, or for his sake; it is because he is God, truly and properly God, that there is a virtue in his blood to take away sin, and cleanse from it; see 1 John 1:7 Besides, the word "man" is not in the original text, it is only "through this is preached to you"; that is, through this glorious and divine person, who, though he died as man, and was buried, yet saw no corruption, and is now raised from the dead, and is at the right hand of God. Some copies read , because of this, or for this reason; seeing he is raised from the dead, therefore the doctrine of the remission of sins is preached; for if he had died, and had not risen again, there could have been no pardon by his blood, nor justification by his righteousness; see Romans 4:25.

{15} Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:

(15) Christ was sent to give them free remission of sins who were condemned by the Law.

Acts 13:38-39. Διὰ τούτου] through this one, i.e. through His being announced to you.

καὶ ἀπὸ πάντωνδικαιοῦται] and that from all things, from which (ὧν = ἀφʼ ὧν, see on Acts 13:2) ye were unable to be justified in the law of Moses, every one who believes in this One is justified.

ἀπὸ πάντων] is pregnant: justified and accordingly freed (in respect of the bond of guilt) from all things. Romans 6:7; Sir 26:29; Test. XII. patr. p. 540.

ἐν τῷ νόμῳ and the emphatic ἐν τούτῳ represent the δικαιωθῆναι as causally grounded, not in the law, but in Christ. But the proposition that one becomes justified in Christ by means of faith from all things (i.e. from all sins; comp. before ἄφεσις ἁμαρτιῶν), from which one cannot obtain justification in the law, is not meant to affirm that already in the law there is given a partial attainment of justification and the remainder is attained in Christ (Schwegler, nachapost. Zeitalt. II. p. 96 f.; admitted also by Zeller, p. 299), which would be un-Pauline and contrary to the whole of the N.T. On the contrary, Paul, when laying down that proposition in itself entirely correct, leaves the circumstance, that man finds in the law justification from no kind of sins, still entirely out of account, with great prudence not adopting at once an antinomistic attitude, but reserving the particulars of the doctrine of justification in its relation to the law for eventually further Christian instruction. The proposition is of a general, theoretic nature; it is only the major proposition of the doctrine of justification (from all things from which a man is not justified in the law, he is justified in Christ by faith); the minor proposition (but in the law a man can be justified from nothing) and the conclusion (therefore only in Christ can all justification be obtained) are still kept back and reserved for further development. Therefore the shift of Neander, I. p. 145, is entirely unnecessary, who (comp. also Schneckenburger, p. 131, and Lekebusch, p. 334) very arbitrarily assumes that πάντων is designed to denote only the completeness of the removal of guilt, and that, properly speaking, Paul has had it in view to refer the relative to the whole idea of δικαιωθῆναι, but by a kind of logical attraction has referred it to πάντων.

We may add that the view (Wolf and others, following the Vulgate), according to which καὶδικαιοῦται is taken as an independent proposition (as it is also by Lachmann, who has erased καί, after A C* א), is also admissible, although less in keeping with the flow of the discourse, which connects the negative element (ἄφεσις ἁμαρτ.) and the positive correlative to it (δικαιοῦται) with one another; therefore καί is the simple and, not: and indeed. But it is contrary to the construction to attach καὶ ἀπὸδικαιωθῆναι to the preceding; so Luther, also Bornemann, who, however, with D, inserts μετάνοια after καί. Lastly, that neither, with Luther, is ἐν τούτῳ to be connected with πιστεύων, nor, with Morus, is ἐν τούτῳ πᾶς ὁ πιστ. δικαιοῦται to be taken as a proposition by itself, is evident from the close reciprocal relation of ἐν τῷ νόμῳ and ἐν τούτῳ.

On the idea of δικαιοῦσθαι, the essence of which here already, by πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων, most definitely emerges as the Pauline justitia fidei, see on Romans 1:17.

Acts 13:38-41. From the previously proved resurrection of Jesus, there follows (οὖν), what is now solemnly announced (γνωστὸν κ.τ.λ.) and does not appear as a mere “passing hint” (Baur) of the Pauline doctrine of justification—that precisely through Him, who was thus so uniquely attested by God to be the promised Messiah, the Messianic forgiveness and justification are offered (Acts 13:38-39); and from this again follows (οὖν, Acts 13:40) with equal naturalness, as the earnest conclusion of the speech, the warning against despising this benefit.

Observe that Paul does not enter on the point, that the causa meritoria of forgiveness and justification lay in the death on the cross, or how it was so; this belonged to a further instruction afterwards; at this time, on the first intimation which he made to those who were still unbelievers, it might have been offensive and prejudicial. But with his wisdom and prudence, according to the connection in which the resurrection of the Lord stands with His atoning death (Romans 4:25), he has neither prejudiced the truth nor (against Schneckenburger and Baur) exhibited an un-Pauline (an alleged Petrine) reference of justification to the resurrection of Jesus.

Acts 13:38. γνωστὸν οὖν: “incipit adhortatio quæ orationem claudit,” Blass.—ἄφεσις ἁμαρ.: the keynote of St. Paul’s preaching, cf. Acts 26:18, as it had been of St. Peter’s, Acts 2:38, Acts 5:31, Acts 10:43; and as it had been of the preaching of the Baptist, and of our Lord Himself.—διὰ τούτου, i.e., Christ—through Him Who died, and was risen again—the phrase is characteristically Pauline, cf. Acts 10:43.

38. the forgiveness of sins] Just as Jesus in His lifetime on earth declared that His miracles were only signs that “the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins,” so the Apostles preach concerning the Resurrection. Cp. Acts 10:43, the conclusion of St Peter’s speech in the house of Cornelius.

Acts 13:38. Διὰ, through) Construed with ἄφεσις, forgiveness.—καταγγέλλεται, is announced) by our instrumentality. The correlative is belief, in the foil. ver.

Verse 38. - Brethren for men and brethren, A.V., as before, vers. 26 and 15; proclaimed for preached, A.V.; remission for the forgiveness, A.V. Acts 13:38
Acts 13:38 Interlinear
Acts 13:38 Parallel Texts

Acts 13:38 NIV
Acts 13:38 NLT
Acts 13:38 ESV
Acts 13:38 NASB
Acts 13:38 KJV

Acts 13:38 Bible Apps
Acts 13:38 Parallel
Acts 13:38 Biblia Paralela
Acts 13:38 Chinese Bible
Acts 13:38 French Bible
Acts 13:38 German Bible

Bible Hub

Acts 13:37
Top of Page
Top of Page