Acts 2:15
For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.
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(15) Seeing it is but the third hour of the day.—The appeal is made to the common standard of right feeling. Drunkenness belonged to the night (1Thessalonians 5:7). It was a mark of extremest baseness for men to “rise up early in the morning that they may follow strong drink” (Isaiah 5:11; comp. also Ecclesiastes 10:16). “Were the disciples likely to be drunk at 9 a. m., and that on the morning of the Day of Pentecost, after a night spent in devotion, and when all decent Jews were fasting?

2:14-21 Peter's sermon shows that he was thoroughly recovered from his fall, and thoroughly restored to the Divine favour; for he who had denied Christ, now boldly confessed him. His account of the miraculous pouring forth of the Spirit, was designed to awaken the hearers to embrace the faith of Christ, and to join themselves to his church. It was the fulfilling the Scripture, and the fruit of Christ's resurrection and ascension, and proof of both. Though Peter was filled with the Holy Ghost, and spake with tongues as the Spirit gave him utterance, yet he did not think to set aside the Scriptures. Christ's scholars never learn above their Bible; and the Spirit is given, not to do away the Scriptures, but to enable us to understand, approve, and obey them. Assuredly none will escape the condemnation of the great day, except those who call upon the name of the Lord, in and through his Son Jesus Christ, as the Saviour of sinners, and the Judge of all mankind.For these are not drunken ... - The word these here includes Peter himself, as well as the others. The charge doubtless extended to all.

The third hour of the day - The Jews divided their day into twelve equal parts, reckoning from sunrise to sunset. Of course the hours were longer in summer than in winter. The third hour would correspond to our nine o'clock in the morning. The reasons why it was so improbable that they would be drunk at that time were the following:

(1) It was the hour of morning worship, or sacrifice. It was highly improbable that, at an hour usually devoted to public worship, they would be intoxicated.

(2) it was not usual for even drunkards to become drunk in the daytime, 1 Thessalonians 5:7, "They that be drunken are drunken in the night."

(3) the charge was, that they had become drunk with wine. Ardent spirits, or alcohol, that curse of our times, was unknown. It was very improbable that so much of the weak wine commonly used in Judea should have been taken at that early hour as to produce intoxication.

(4) it was a regular practice with the Jews not to eat or drink anything until after the third hour of the day, especially on the Sabbath, and on all festival occasions. Sometimes this abstinence was maintained until noon. So universal was this custom, that the apostle could appeal to it with confidence, as a full refutation of the charge of drunkenness at that hour. Even the intemperate were not accustomed to drink before that hour. The following testimonies on this subject from Jewish writers are from Lightfoot: "This was the custom of pious people in ancient times, that each one should offer his morning prayers with additions in the synagogue, and then return home and take refreshment" (Maimonides, Shabb., chapter 30). "They remained in the synagogue until the sixth hour and a half, and then each one offered the prayer of the Minchah before he returned home, and then he ate." "The fourth is the hour of repast, when all eat." One of the Jewish writers says that the difference between thieves and honest men might be known by the fact that the former might be seen in the morning at the fourth hour eating and sleeping, and holding a cup in his hand. But for those who made pretensions to religion, as the apostles did, such a thing was altogether improbable.

15. these are not drunken—meaning, not the Eleven, but the body of the disciples.

but the third hour—nine A.M. (see Ec 10:16; Isa 5:11; 1Th 5:17).

For these; this proves that the other apostles spake as well as Peter, and were vindicated by him.

Are not drunken; he mildly and solidly confutes their calumny.

The third hour of the day, which answers to our nine o’clock in the morning, and was the ordinary time for their morning sacrifice and prayer, before which time they did not eat or drink any thing; nay, it is thought on festival days it was usual with them not to eat or drink until the sixth hour, that is, noon time, that they might be more intent upon and fit for the service of the day. How little soever (to our shame) such an argument would be of proof now, it was in their more sober times very conclusive.

For these are not drunken,.... Meaning not only the eleven apostles, but the rest of the hundred and twenty, on whom also the Spirit was poured forth, and who were endowed with his extraordinary gifts:

as ye suppose; and had given out that they were: and this shows the sense of being filled with new wine; that they meant that they were really drunk, and which they believed, or at least would have had others believe it; the unreasonableness of which supposition and suggestion the apostle argues from the time of day:

seeing it is but the third hour of the day; or nine of the clock in the morning: for till this time it was not usual with the Jews, if men of any sobriety or religion, so much as to taste anything: the rules are these (h),

"it is forbidden a man to taste anything, or do any work after break of day, until he has prayed the morning prayer.


"the morning prayer, the precept concerning it is, that a man should begin to pray as soon as the sun shines out; and its time is until the end of the fourth hour, which is the third part of the day (i).

So that a man might not taste anything, either of eatables or drinkables, until the fourth hour, or ten o'clock in the morning: hence it is said (k), that "after they offered the daily sacrifice they ate bread, , "at the time of four hours":

or on the fourth hour, and sooner than this it was not lawful to eat, even ever so little; and whoever did, was not reckoned fit to be conversed with,

"Says R. Isaac (l), whoever eats a green or herb before the fourth hour, it is forbidden to converse with him; and the same says, it is unlawful to eat a raw herb before the fourth hour. Amemar, and Mar Zutra, and Rab Ashe were sitting, and they brought before them a raw herb before the fourth hour. Amemar and Rab Ashe ate, and Mar Zutra did not eat: they said to him, what is thy meaning? (he replied) that R. Isaac said, whoever eats a herb before the fourth hour, it is forbidden to converse with him.

The time for taking food by persons of different characters, is thus expressed by them:

"the first hour is the time of eating for the Lydians, the second for thieves, the third for heirs, the fourth for labourers, the fifth for every man; is it not so? Saith R. Papa, the fourth is the time of repast for every man; but (the truth is) the fourth is the time of eating for every man, the fifth for labourers, and the sixth for the disciples of the wise men (m).

Hence that advice (n),

""at the fourth hour", go into a cook's shop, (or tavern,) if thou seest a man drinking wine, and holding the cup in his hands, and slumbering, inquire about him, if he is one of the wise doctors, &c.

The "gloss" upon it is,


For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the {i} third hour of the day.

(i) After the sunrise, which may be about seven or eight o'clock to us.

Acts 2:15. ὥρα τρίτη τῆς ἡμέρας: the words refer to the hour of early prayer, 9 A.M., the Jews previously did not partake of food, and on festal days they abstained from food and drink until the sixth hour (twelve o’clock). But if Schürer (see on Acts 3:1, and Blass, in loco) is right in specifying other hours for prayer, the expression may mean that St. Peter appeals to the early period of the day as a proof that the charge of drunkenness was contrary to all reasonable probability.

15. are not drunken] Wine was drunk by the Jews with flesh only, and, founding the custom on Exodus 16:8, they ate bread in the morning, and flesh in the evening, and so took no wine till late in the day. So Ecclesiastes 10:16-17, by the “princes who eat in the morning” are meant those who eat to the full of all sorts of food and so take wine, and their opposites are next described as those who eat in due season for strength and not for drunkenness.

The paraphrase of this passage given in the Targum is worth notice in illustration of the text of the Acts. It reads, “Woe to thee, O land of Israel, when there shall reign over thee Jeroboam the wicked, and shall exterminate from the midst of thee the offering of the morning sacrifice, and when thy lords shall eat bread before any man has offered the perpetual offering of the morning. Blessed art thou, land of Israel, at the time when Hezekiah the son of Ahaz (who is of the genealogy of the house of David) shall reign, who will be a mighty hero in the law, and fulfil all the duties of the commandments, and then thy princes shall only eat bread after the perpetual offering has been offered (i.e. their eating shall be) at the fourth hour, from the labour of their hands in the strength of the law, and not in faintness and blindness of the eyes.”

third hour of the day] Only one quarter of the day was yet over. The Jews divided the day and night each into twelve parts, which they called hours but which varied in length as the daylight was less or more. When the day was as long as the night the third hour would be nine o’clock in the morning.

Acts 2:15. Ὑπολαμβάνετε, ye suppose) He does not say, As some of you mockingly say. He speaks gently.—οὗτοι, these) He speaks in the third person, not excluding himself and the rest of the apostles. Even his speech was a sufficient defence of himself, the very act of standing was a defence to the rest of the apostles with him: and they, whom he is instructing, had used this expression, οὗτοι, these, Acts 2:7.—τρίτη, third) A drunken man generally does not know the hour: nor is any one readily intoxicated in the morning, especially in a place where he is at home: 1 Thessalonians 5:7, “They that be drunken are drunken in the night.” It was the feast-day of Pentecost; and on feast-days the Jews used to abstain from eating up to mid-day. See var. lect. of Petitus, ch. 15. [The third hour of the Jews is what nine o’clock in the forenoon is with us.—V. g.]

Acts 2:15Third hour

Nine in the morning: the hour of morning prayer. Compare 1 Thessalonians 5:7.

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