Acts 2:27
Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
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(27) Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell.—Literally, in Hades. (See Note on Matthew 11:23.) As interpreted by St. Peter’s words in his Epistle (1Peter 3:19), the words conveyed to his mind the thought which has been embodied in the article of the “Descent into Hell,” or Hades, in the Apostle’s Creed. The death of Christ was an actual death, and while the body was laid in the grave, the soul passed into the world of the dead, the Sheol of the Hebrews, the Hades of the Greeks, to carry on there the redemptive work which had been begun on earth. (Comp. Acts 13:34-37, and Ephesians 4:9.) Here again we have an interesting coincidence with St. Peter’s language (1Peter 3:19), as to the work of Christ in preaching to the “spirits in prison.”

Neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.—The word for “holy” is different from that commonly so rendered, and conveys the idea of personal piety and godliness rather than consecration. As the Psalmist used the words, we may think of them as expressing the confidence that he himself, as loving, and beloved of, God, would be delivered from destruction, both now and hereafter. St. Peter had learnt to interpret the words as having received a higher fulfilment. Christ was, in this sense, as well as in that expressed by the other word, “the Holy One” of God (Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34). In Hebrews 7:26; Revelation 15:4; Revelation 16:5, this very word is applied to Christ. The Hebrew text of Psalm 16:10 presents the various reading of “the holy ones,” as if referring to the “saints that are upon the earth,” of Acts 2:3. The LXX., which St. Peter follows, gives the singular, which is indeed essential to his argument, and this is also the reading of the Masoretic text. The Greek word for “corruption” ranges in its meaning from “decay” to “destruction.” The Hebrew to which it answers is primarily the “pit” of the grave, and not “corruption,” or “wasting away.”

2:22-36 From this gift of the Holy Ghost, Peter preaches unto them Jesus: and here is the history of Christ. Here is an account of his death and sufferings, which they witnessed but a few weeks before. His death is considered as God's act; and of wonderful grace and wisdom. Thus Divine justice must be satisfied, God and man brought together again, and Christ himself glorified, according to an eternal counsel, which could not be altered. And as the people's act; in them it was an act of awful sin and folly. Christ's resurrection did away the reproach of his death; Peter speaks largely upon this. Christ was God's Holy One, sanctified and set apart to his service in the work of redemption. His death and sufferings should be, not to him only, but to all his, the entrance to a blessed life for evermore. This event had taken place as foretold, and the apostles were witnesses. Nor did the resurrection rest upon this alone; Christ had poured upon his disciples the miraculous gifts and Divine influences, of which they witnessed the effects. Through the Saviour, the ways of life are made known; and we are encouraged to expect God's presence, and his favour for evermore. All this springs from assured belief that Jesus is the Lord, and the anointed Saviour.Thou wilt not leave my soul - The word "soul," with us, means "the thinking, the immortal part of man," and is applied to it whether existing in connection with the body or separate from it. The Hebrew word translated "soul" here, נפשׁ nephesh, however, may mean "spirit, mind, life," and may denote here nothing more than "me" or "myself." It means, properly, "breath"; then "life," or "the vital principle, a living being"; then "the soul, the spirit, the thinking part." Instances where it is put for the individual himself, meaning "me" or "myself" may be seen in Psalm 11:1; Psalm 35:3, Psalm 35:7; Job 9:21. There is no clear instance in which it is applied to the soul in its separate state, or disjoined from the body. In this place it must be explained in part by the meaning of the word hell. If that means grave, then this word probably means "me"; thou wilt not leave me in the grave. The meaning probably is, "Thou wilt not leave me in Sheol, neither," etc. The word "leave" here means, "Thou wilt not resign me to, or wilt not give me over to it, to be held under its power."

In hell - - εἰς ᾅδου eis Hadou. The word "hell," in English, now commonly denotes "the place of the future eternal punishment of the wicked." This sense it has acquired by long usage. It is a Saxon word, derived from helan, "to cover," and denotes literally "a covered or deep place" (Webster); then "the dark and dismal abode of departed spirits"; and then "the place of torment." As the word is used now by us, it by no means expresses the force of the original; and if with this idea we read a passage like the one before us, it would convey an erroneous meaning altogether, although formerly the English word perhaps expressed no more than the original. The Greek word "Hades" means literally "a place devoid of light; a dark, obscure abode"; and in Greek writers was applied to the dark and obscure regions where disembodied spirits were supposed to dwell. It occurs only eleven times in the New Testament. In this place it is the translation of the Hebrew שׁאול Sheowl.

In Revelation 20:13-14, it is connected with death: "And death and hell (Hades) delivered up the dead which were in them"; "And death and hell (Hades) were cast into the lake of fire." See also Revelation 6:8; Revelation 1:18, "I have the keys of hell and death." In 1 Corinthians 15:55 it means the grave: "O grave (Hades), where is thy victory?" In Matthew 11:23 it means a deep, profound place, opposed to an exalted one; a condition of calamity and degradation, opposed to former great prosperity: "Thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell" (Hades). In Luke 16:23 it is applied to the place where the rich man was after death, in a state of punishment: "In hell (Hades) he lifted up his eyes, being in torments." In this place it is connected with the idea of suffering, and undoubtedly denotes a place of punishment. The Septuagint has used this word commonly to translate the word שׁאול Shèowl.

Once it is used as a translation of the phrase "the stones of the pit" Isaiah 14:19; twice to express silence, particularly the silence of the grave Psalm 94:17; Psalm 115:17; once to express the Hebrew for "the shadow of death" Job 38:17; and sixty times to translate the word Sheol. It is remarkable that it is never used in the Old Testament to denote the word קבר qeber, which properly denotes "a grave or sepulchre." The idea which was conveyed by the word Sheol, or Hades, was not properly a grave or sepulchre, but that dark, unknown state, including the grave, which constituted the dominions of the dead. What idea the Hebrews had of the future world it is now difficult to explain, and is not necessary in the case before us. The word originally denoting simply "the state of the dead, the insatiable demands of the grave," came at last to be extended in its meaning, in proportion as they received new revelations or formed new opinions about the future world. Perhaps the following may be the process of thought by which the word came to have the special meanings which it is found to have in the Old Testament:

(1) The word "death" and the grave קבר qeber would express the abode of a deceased body in the earth.

(2) man has a soul, a thinking principle, and the inquiry must arise, What will be its state? Will it die also? The Hebrews never appear to have believed that. Will it ascend to heaven at once? On that subject they had at first no knowledge. Will it go at once to a place of happiness or of torment? Of that, also, they had no information at first Yet they supposed it would live; and the word שׁאול Sheowl expressed just this state - the dark, unknown regions of the dead; the abode of spirits, whether good or bad; the residence of departed people, whether fixed in a permanent habitation, or whether wandering about. As they were ignorant of the size and spherical structure of the earth, they seem to have supposed this region to be situated in the earth, far below us, and hence, it is put in opposition to heaven, Psalm 139:8, "If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in hell (Sheol), behold, thou art there"; Amos 9:2. The most common use of the word is, therefore, to express those dark regions, the lower world, the region of ghosts, etc. Instances of this, almost without number, might be given. See a most striking and sublime instance of this in Isaiah 14:9; "Hell from beneath is moved to meet thee," etc.; where the assembled dead are represented as being agitated in all their vast regions at the death of the King of Babylon.

(3) the inquiry could not but arise whether all these beings were happy. This point revelation decided; and it was decided in the O d Testament. Yet this word would better express the state of the wicked dead than the righteous. It conveyed the idea of darkness, gloom, wandering; the idea of a sad and unfixed abode, unlike heaven. Hence, the word sometimes expresses the idea of a place of punishment: Psalm 9:17, "The wicked shall be turned into hell," etc.; Proverbs 15:11; Proverbs 23:14; Proverbs 27:20; Job 26:6. While, therefore, the word does not mean properly a grave or a sepulchre, it does mean often "the state of the dead," without designating whether in happiness or woe, but implying the continued existence of the soul. In this sense it is often used in the Old Testament, where the Hebrew word is Sheol, and the Greek Hades: Genesis 37:35, "I will go down into the grave, unto my son, mourning" I will go down to the dead, to death, to my son, still there existing; Genesis 42:38; Genesis 44:29, "He shall bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave; Numbers 16:30, Numbers 16:33; 1 Kings 2:6, 1 Kings 2:9; etc. etc. in the place before us, therefore, the meaning is simply, thou wilt not leave me among the dead. This conveys all the idea. It does not mean literally the grave or the sepulchre; that relates only to the body. This expression refers to the deceased Messiah. Thou wilt not leave him among the dead; thou wilt raise him up. It is from this passage, perhaps, aided by two others (Romans 10:7, and 1 Peter 3:19), that the doctrine originated that Christ "descended," as it is expressed in the Creed, "into hell"; and many have invented strange opinions about his going among lost spirits. The doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church has been that he went to purgatory, to deliver the spirits confined there. But if the interpretation now given be correct, then it will follow:

(1) That nothing is affirmed here about the destination of the human soul of Christ after his death. That he went to the region of the dead is implied, but nothing further.

(2) It may be remarked that the Scriptures affirm nothing about the state of his soul in that time which intervened between his death and resurrection. The only intimation which occurs on the subject is such as to leave us to suppose that he was in a state of happiness. To the dying thief he said, "This day shalt thou be with me in paradise." When Jesus died, he said, "It is finished"; and he doubtless meant by that that his sufferings and toils for man's redemption were at an end. All suppositions of any toils or pains after his death are fables, and without the slightest warrant in the New Testament.

Thine Holy One - The word in the Hebrew which is translated here "Holy One" properly denotes "One who is tenderly and piously devoted to another," and corresponds to the expression used in the New Testament, "my beloved Son." It is also used, as it is here by the Septuagint and by Peter, to denote "One that is holy, that is set apart to God." In this sense it is applied to Christ, either as being set apart to this office, or as so pure as to make it proper to designate him by way of eminence the Holy One, or the Holy One of God. It is several times used as the wellknown designation of the Messiah: Mark 1:24, "I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God"; Luke 4:34; Acts 3:14, "But ye denied the Holy One, and the just," etc. See also Luke 1:35, "That holy thing that is born of thee shall be called the Son of God."

To see corruption - To see corruption is to experience it, to be made partakers of it. The Hebrews often expressed the idea of experiencing anything by the use of words pertaining to the senses, as, to taste of death, to see death, etc. Corruption here means putrefaction in the grave. The word which is used in the Psalm, שׁחת shachath, is thus used in Job 17:14, "I have said to corruption, thou art my father," etc. The Greek word used here properly denotes this. Thus, it is used in Acts 13:34-37. This meaning would be properly suggested by the Hebrew word, and thus the ancient versions understood it. The meaning implied in the expression is, that he of whom the Psalm was written should be restored to life again; and this meaning Peter proceeds to show that the words must have.

27. wilt not leave my soul in hell—in its disembodied state (see on [1938]Lu 16:23).

neither … suffer thine Holy One to see corruption—in the grave.

My soul; that is, me: the soul is put for the person, as Romans 13:1, Let every soul be subject; and sometimes for a dead body, as Leviticus 19:28 Numbers 5:2, and in divers other places, vpg that signifies a soul, is so used.

In hell; the word adhv is put either for the grave, or for the place of the damned. Being these words are alleged as a proof of Christ’s resurrection, and that our Saviour’s soul was certainly in paradise, where he promised to the penitent thief that he should be with him, it seems rather to be meant of the grave, which, according to this prophecy, could not hold our blessed Saviour’s body so long as that it should corrupt in it. If David by his soul here did mean our Saviour, because he was as it were the soul of his soul, and life of his life, it shows how he did, and how we ought to value him.

Thine Holy One; as being anointed, sanctified, and sent by God.

Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell,.... This is an apostrophe, or an address to his Father, who he believed would not leave his soul, as separate from his body, in Hades, in the invisible world of souls, in the place where the souls of departed saints are, but would quickly return it to its body, and reunite them; or else, that he would not leave his dead body, for so sometimes signifies; see Leviticus 19:28 in the grave; which is no unusual sense of see Genesis 42:38 that is, so long as to be corrupted and putrefy, as the next clause shows:

neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. The character of an "Holy One" well agrees with Christ, both as God, or with respect to his divine nature, holiness being a perfection in it, and in which he is glorious; and as man, he being holy in his nature, harmless in his life and conversation: all his doctrines were pure and holy, and so were all his works; and all his administrations in the discharge of every of his office; and he is the efficient cause and lain of all the holiness of his people; they are sanctified in him, and by him, and have all their sanctification from him. The word may be rendered, "thy merciful", or "bountiful one"; and such Christ is, a merciful, as well as faithful high priest; and who has shown great compassion both to the bodies and souls of men, and has been very beneficent and liberal in the distributions of his grace and goodness. Now, though he died, and was laid in the grave, and buried, yet God would not suffer him to lie there so long as to be corrupted and putrefied, which is the sense of seeing corruption: and so the Jews themselves explain the last clause of the preceding verse, in connection with this, "my flesh shall rest in hope", that no worm or maggot should have power over it, or corrupt it,

"Seven fathers (they say (x)) dwell in eternal glory, and there is no , "worm or maggot", rules over them; and these are they, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Moses, and Aaron, and Amram their father; and there are that say also David, as it is said, Psalm 16:1, "therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth, my flesh also shall rest in hope".

And which sense also is mentioned by one of their commentators of note (y), who thus paraphrases the words:

"whilst I am alive it shall rest safely, for thou wilt deliver me from all hurt; and in the mystical sense, or according to the Midrash, after death; intimating, that no maggot or worm should have power over him;

which was not true of David, but is of the Messiah,

(x) Massecheth Derech Eretz Zuta, c. 1. fol. 19. 1.((y) Kimchi in Psal. xvi. 9.

Because thou wilt not {t} leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

(t) You will not allow me to remain in the grave.

Acts 2:27. What now the Psalmist further says according to the historical sense: For Thou wilt not leave my soul to Hades (i.e. Thou wilt not suffer me to die in my present life-peril), and wilt not give Thy Holy One (according to the Ketîbh of the original: Thy holy ones, the plural of category, comp. Hupfeld in loc.) to see corruption—is by Peter, as spoken εἰς Χριστόν, taken in accordance with the prophetical meaning historically fulfilled in Him: Thou wilt not forsake my soul in Hades (after it shall have come thither; see Kühner, § 622; Buttm. neut. Gr. p. 287 [E. T. 333]), but by the resurrection wilt again deliver it,[130] and wilt not suffer Thy Holy One (the Messiah) to share corruption, i.e. according to the connection of the sense as fulfilled, putrefaction (comp. Acts 13:34 ff.).[131] Instead of ΔΙΑΦΘΟΡΆΝ, the original has שַׁחַת, a pit, which, however, Peter, with the LXX., understood as διαφθορά, and accordingly has derived it not from שׁוּחַ, but from שָׁחַת, διαφθείρω; comp. Job 17:14.

On δώσεις, comp. Acts 10:40. The meaning is: Thou wilt not cause, that, etc. Often so also in classical writers from Homer onward. As to ἰδεῖν in the sense of experiencing, comp. on Luke 2:26.

[130] This passage is a dictum probans for the abode of the soul of Christ in Hades, but it contains no dogmatic statement concerning the descensus ad inferos in the sense of the church. Comp. Güder, Lehre von d. Erscheinung Christi unter d. Todten, p. 30; Weiss, Petrin. Lehrbegr. p. 233 f.

[131] After this passage, compared with ver. 31, no further discussion is needed to show how unreasonably it has been taken for granted (see especially Holsten, z. Ev. d. Paul. u. Petr. p. 128 ff.) that the early church conceived the resurrection of Christ as a μετάβασις εἰς ἕτερον σῶμα, entirely independent of the dead body of our Lord. How much are the evangelical narratives of the appearances of the risen Christ, in which the identity of His body has stress so variously laid on it, at variance with this opinion! Comp. Acts 10:41.

Acts 2:27. In LXX and N.T. rightly εἰς ᾅδην. W.H[127]; cf. also Briggs, Messianic Prophecies, p. 24; although in T.R. as usually in Attic, εἰς ᾅδου, sc., δόμον. Blass regards as simply usurping in the common dialect the place of ἐν, but we can scarcely explain the force of the preposition here in this way. ἐγκαταλείψεις used of utter abandonment, cf. Psalm 22:1 (cf. 2 Timothy 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:16).—εἰς ᾅδην: whilst it is true that the Psalmist “says nothing about what shall happen to him after death” (Perowne), he expresses his conviction that his soul would not be given up to the land of gloom and forgetfulness, the abode of the dead, dark and cheerless, with which the Psalmist cannot associate the thought of life and light (see also on Acts 2:31).—οὐδὲ δώσεις: in R.V. (O.T.) the word “suffer” is retained, but in R.V. (N.T.) we find “thou wilt not give,” the Hebrew נתן being used in this sense to permit, to suffer, to let, like δίδωμι and dare, Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., p. 156 (1893).—τὸν ὅσιόν σου: the Hebrew Châsîd which is thus sometimes translated in the LXX (Vulgate, Sanctus) is often rendered “thy beloved one,” and the word denotes not only one who is godly and pious, but also one who is the object of Jehovah’s loving-kindness. The word might well be used of Him, Who was not only the Holy One of God, but ὁ ἀγαπητὸς υἱός, “the beloved Son”. On the word Châsîd see Kirkpatrick, Psalms, Appendix, p. 221.—ἰδεῖν διαφθοράν: “corruption” or “the pit,” margin R.V. (O.T.), but in the N.T. simply “corruption” (A. and R.V.), Vulgate, corruptio. In the LXX the Hebrew שַׁחַת is often rendered διαφθορά, “corruption,” as if derived from שָׁחַת διαφθείρειν, “to corrupt”; not, however, in the sense of corruption, putridity, but of destruction. The derivation however is probably from שׁוּחַ, to sink down, hence it means a pit, and sometimes a sepulchre, a grave, Psalm 30:10; Psalm 55:24, so here “to see the grave,” i.e., to die and be buried, cf. Psalm 49:10 (see Robinson’s Gesenius, p. 1053, note, twenty-sixth edition). Dr. Robertson Smith maintains that there are two Hebrew words the same in form but different in origin, one masculine = putrefaction or corruption, the other feminine = the deep or the pit. So far he agrees with the note in Gesenius, u. s., that the word διαφθορά should here be rendered by the latter, the pit, but he takes the rendering, the deep or the pit, as an epithet not of the grave but of Sheol or Hades (see Expositor, p. 354, 1876, the whole paper on “The Sixteenth Psalm,” by Dr. R. Smith, should be consulted, and p. 354 compared with the note in Gesenius), and this view certainly seems to fit in better with the parallelism.

[127] Westcott and Hort’s The New Testament in Greek: Critical Text and Notes.

27. in hell] The Greek word here and in Acts 2:31 is Hades, and signifies the unseen world.

neither wilt thou suffer] Lit. give.

thine Holy One] The Hebrew word in the Psalm contains the idea of beloved, as well as godly or holy. Our A. V. represents the Greek.

Acts 2:27. Τὴν ψυχήν μου, My soul) i.e. Myself, as regards the soul. The subsequent sentence refers to the body.—εἰς ᾄδου) viz. τόπον: ᾅδης is as it were the sepulchre of souls. לשאול LXX. translate εἰς ᾅδην: עזב with ל occurs in Leviticus 19:10, Psalm 49:11, Job 39:14. He was in Hades: he was not left in Hades.—τὸν ὃσιόν σου, Thy Holy One) The Hebrew has, Thy Gracious One. Christ is the One in whom all the Father’s good pleasure rests.

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). Acts 2:27Leave (ἐγκαταλείψεις)

Lit., leave behind.

Suffer (δώσεις)

Lit., give.

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