Acts 2:39
For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.
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(39) The promise is unto you, and to your children.—The tendency of sects has always been to claim spiritual gifts and powers as an exclusive privilege limited to a few. It is the essence of St. Peter’s appeal that all to whom he speaks can claim the promise as fully as himself. The phrase “those that are afar off,” was probably wide enough to cover both the Jews of the Dispersion, to whom the Apostle afterwards wrote (1Peter 1:1-2), and the heathen nations among whom they lived. The use of the phrase in Ephesians 2:13; Ephesians 2:17, inclines rather to the latter meaning.

Even as many as the Lord our God shall call.—There seems, at first sight, a limitation on the universality of the previous words. And in some sense there is; but it is not more than is involved in the fact that spiritual knowledge and culture are not bestowed on all nations and ages alike. Wherever there is a difference, some possessing a higher knowledge and greater power than others, the Apostle could only see, not chance, or evolution, but the working of a divine purpose, calling some to special privileges, and yet dealing equitably with all.

2:37-41 From the first delivery of that Divine message, it appeared that there was Divine power going with it; and thousands were brought to the obedience of faith. But neither Peter's words, nor the miracle they witnessed, could have produced such effects, had not the Holy Spirit been given. Sinners, when their eyes are opened, cannot but be pricked to the heart for sin, cannot but feel an inward uneasiness. The apostle exhorted them to repent of their sins, and openly to avow their belief in Jesus as the Messiah, by being baptized in his name. Thus professing their faith in Him, they would receive remission of their sins, and partake of the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit. To separate from wicked people, is the only way to save ourselves from them. Those who repent of their sins, and give up themselves to Jesus Christ, must prove their sincerity by breaking off from the wicked. We must save ourselves from them; which denotes avoiding them with dread and holy fear. By God's grace three thousand persons accepted the gospel invitation. There can be no doubt that the gift of the Holy Ghost, which they all received, and from which no true believer has ever been shut out, was that Spirit of adoption, that converting, guiding, sanctifying grace, which is bestowed upon all the members of the family of our heavenly Father. Repentance and remission of sins are still preached to the chief of sinners, in the Redeemer's name; still the Holy Spirit seals the blessing on the believer's heart; still the encouraging promises are to us and our children; and still the blessings are offered to all that are afar off.For the promise - That is, the promise respecting the particular thing of which he was speaking - the influences of the Holy Spirit. This promise he had adduced in the beginning of his discourse Acts 2:17, and he now applies it to them. As the Spirit was promised to descend on Jews and their sons and daughters, it was applicable to them in the circumstances in which they then were. The only hope of lost sinners is in the promises of God, and the only thing that can give comfort to a soul that is convicted of sin is the hope that God will pardon and save.

Unto you - To you Jews, even though you have crucified the Messiah. The promise had special reference to the Jewish people.

To your children - In Joel, to their sons and daughters, who would, nevertheless, be old enough to prophesy. Similar promises occur in Isaiah 44:3, "I will pour my Spirit on thy seed, and my blessing on thine offspring"; and in Isaiah 59:21, "My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and forever." In these and similar places their descendants or posterity are denoted. It does not refer merely to children as children, and should not be adduced as applicable exclusively to infants. It is a promise I to parents that the blessings of salvation shall not be confined to parents, but shall be extended also to their posterity. Under this promise parents may be encouraged to train up their children for God; they are authorized to devote them to him in the ordinance of Christian baptism, and they may trust in his gracious purpose thus to perpetuate the blessings of salvation from age to age.

To all - To the whole race; not limited to Jews.

Afar off - To those in other lands. It is probable that Peter here referred to the Jews who were scattered in other nations; for he does not seem yet to have understood that the gospel was to be preached to the Gentiles. See Acts 10:Yet the promise was equally applicable to the Gentiles as the Jews, and the apostles were afterward brought so to understand it, Acts 10; Romans 10:12, Romans 10:14-20; 11. The Gentiles are sometimes clearly indicated by the expression "afar off Ephesians 2:13, Ephesians 2:17; and they are represented as having been brought nigh by the blood of Christ. The phrase is equally applicable to those who have been far off from God by their sins and their evil affections. To them also the promise is extended if they will return.

Even as many ... - The promise is not to those who do not hear the gospel, nor to those who do not obey it; but it is to those to whom God in his gracious providence shall send it. He has the power and right to pardon. The meaning of Peter is, that the promise is ample, full, free; that it is suited to all, and may be applied to all; that there is no defect or lack in the provisions or promises, but that God may extend it to whomsoever he pleases. We see here how ample and full are the offers of mercy. God is hot limited in the provisions of his grace; but the plan is applicable to all mankind. It is also the purpose of God to send it to all people, and he has given a solemn charge to his church to do it. We cannot reflect but with deep pain on the fact that, although these provisions have been made - fully made; that they are adapted to all people; but that yet they have been extended by his people to so small a portion of the human family. If the promise of life is to all, it is the duty of the church to send to all the message of mercy.

39. For the promise—of the Holy Ghost, through the risen Saviour, as the grand blessing of the new covenant.

all afar off—the Gentiles, as in Eph 2:17), but "to the Jew first."

For the promise is unto you; lest they should doubt of pardon and grace, their sin having been so great. St. Peter gives them a ground of hope, they being the descendants from Abraham, unto whom especially this was promised, Jeremiah 31:34.

And to all that are afar off; that is, to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews, who were said to be a people near unto God, as the Gentiles were said to be afar off, Isaiah 57:19 Ephesians 2:13.

Even as many as the Lord our God shall call; vocation, whether external by the word only, or internal by the Spirit also, depends on the pleasure of God; but the same promises of pardon and acceptance upon repentance made unto the Jews, are as effectually to be trusted unto by any of the Gentiles, as by any formerly amongst the Jews. Either of the Messiah, and salvation by him, which was particularly given forth to the people of the Jews; or of the remission of sins, which was a branch of the covenant made with the house of Israel, in a spiritual sense, even the whole household of God; or of the pouring forth of the Spirit: and this promise was not only to them, but to theirs, even to as many of them as belonged to the election of grace; and whom the Lord their God would effectually call by his grace, as the last and limiting clause of the text, and which is to be connected with every part of it, shows:

and to your children: this is the rather mentioned, because these awakened, and converted souls, were not only in great concern about themselves, for their sin of crucifying Christ, but were in great distress about their children, on whom they had imprecated the guilt of Christ's blood, as upon themselves; the thought of which cut them to the heart, and made their hearts bleed, within them: wherefore to relieve them, and administer comfort to them in this their distress, the apostle informs them, that the promise of Christ, and of his grace, was not only to them, who were now called, but it was also to their children; to as many of them as the Lord God should call; and who are the children of the promise, which all the children of the flesh were not, Romans 9:6 and to these the promise should be applied, notwithstanding this dreadful imprecation of theirs:

and to all that are afar off; either in place, as those that were dispersed, among the several nations of the world; and so carried in it a comfortable aspect on the multitude of Jews, that were of every nation under heaven; or in time, who should live in ages to come; or else the Gentiles are intended, who were afar off from God and Christ, and the way of life and salvation by him; see Ephesians 2:12 even as many as the Lord our God shall call: not externally only, by the ministry of the word, but internally, by his grace and Spirit; with that calling, which is according to the purpose and grace of God, and is inseparably connected with eternal glory; the promise is to all such, and is made good to all such, whether they be Jews or Gentiles, fathers, or children, greater or lesser sinners. The Syriac version reads, "whom God himself shall call".

For the {a} promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

(a) The word that is used here shows us that it was a free gift.

Acts 2:39. Proof of the preceding λήψεσθε κ.τ.λ.: for to you belongs the promise (concerned); yours it is, i.e. you are they in whom the promise (of the communication of the Spirit) is to be realized.

τοῖς εἰς μακράν] to those who are at a distance, that is, to all the members of the Jewish nation, who are neither dwellers here at Jerusalem, nor are now present as pilgrims to the feast, both Jews and Hellenists. Comp. also Baumgarten. Others, with Theophylact, Oecumenius, Erasmus, Calvin, Piscator, Grotius, Wolf, Bengel, Heinrichs, de Wette, Lange, Hackett, also Weiss, Petr. Lehrbegr. p. 148, and bibl. Theol. p. 149, explain it of the Gentiles. Comp. Ephesians 2:13. But, although Peter might certainly conceive of the conversion of the Gentiles, according to Isaiah 2:2; Isaiah 49:1, al., in the way of their coming to and passing through Judaism, yet the mention of the Gentiles here (observe the emphatically preceding ὑμῖν) would be quite alien from the destination of the words, which were intended to prove the λήψεσθε κ.τ.λ. of Acts 2:38. The conversion of the Gentiles does not here belong to the matter in hand. Beza, whom Casaubon follows, understood it of time (2 Samuel 7:19, comp. the classical οὐκ ἐς μακράν): longe post futuros, but this is excluded by the very conception of the nearness of the Parousia.

As to the expression of direction, εἰς μακρ., comp. on Acts 22:5.

ὅσους ἂν προσκαλ. κ.τ.λ.] contains the definition of πᾶσι τοῖς εἰς μακράν: as many as God shall have called to Himself, namely, by the preaching of the gospel, by the reception of which they, as members of the true theocracy, will enter into Christian fellowship with God, and will receive the Spirit.Acts 2:39. ὑμῖν γὰρ: the promise was made to the very men who had invoked upon themselves and upon their children, St. Matthew 27:25, the blood of the Crucified. See Psalms of Solomon, Acts 8:39 (Ryle and James’ edition, p. 88).—πᾶσι τοῖς εἰς μακράν: no occasion with Wendt and others to limit the words to the Jews of the Diaspora. It must not be forgotten that the Apostles were not surprised that the Gentiles should be admitted to the Christian Church, but only that they should be admitted without conforming to the rite of circumcision. If we compare Acts 3:26, and Ephesians 2:13; Acts 2:17 (cf. Romans 10:13), it would seem that no restriction of race was placed upon the declaration of the Gospel message, provided that it was made to the Jew first (as was always Paul’s custom). Hilgenfeld interprets the words as referring beyond all doubt to the Gentiles, since ὑμῖνὑμῶν had already expressed the Diaspora Jews. But he contends that as Acts 2:26 plainly intimates that the address was delivered only to Israelites, the words in question are added by “the author to Theophilus”. He therefore places them in brackets. Jüngst in the same way thinks it well to refer them to the Redactor, and Feine refers them to Luke himself as Reviser. Weiss sees in the words an allusion to an O.T. passage which could only have been applied at first to the calling of the Gentiles, but which (in the connection in which it is here placed by the narrator) must be referred to the Jews of the Diaspora. It may well have been that (as in Holtzmann’s view) St. Peter’s audience only thought of the Jews of the Diaspora, but we can see in his words a wider and a deeper meaning, cf. Isaiah 5:26, and cf. also Isaiah 2:2, Zechariah 6:15. Among the older commentators Oecumenius and Theophylact referred the words to the Gentiles.—ὅσους ἂν προσκαλέσηται Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν. Wendt presses the to favour his view that St. Peter thinks only of the Jews and not of the Gentiles, since he speaks of “our God,” but Blass catches the meaning much better in his comment: “ἡμῶν Israelitarum, qui idem gentes ad se vocat”. This gives the true force of προσκαλ., “shall call unto him” (so R.V.). Oecumenius also comments on the words as revealing the true penitence and charity of Peter, ψυχὴ γὰρ ὅταν ἑαυτὴν καταδικάσῃ, οὐκ ἔτι φθονεῖν δύναται.39. the promise is unto you, and to your children] Just as “to Abraham and his seed were the promises made” (Galatians 3:16), so is it to be under the new covenant.

all that are afar off] Peter knew from the first, we see, that the Gentiles were to be admitted to the same privileges as Israel. But Christ’s commission said they were to preach first in Jerusalem and in Judæa. Peter needed the vision of the great sheet let down from heaven to tell him when God’s time was come for the extension of the work; and though in his dream the natural prejudice of his race was asserted, yet when he awoke he went “without gainsaying as soon as he was sent for” (Acts 10:29), as he says to Cornelius. For Christ’s words had been “Go, teach all nations.”

shall call] Better, shall call unto him. The verb is a compound, not the simple verb.Acts 2:39. Ὑμῖν, unto you) This denotes more than if he had said, “The promise is yours.” Comp. Luke 2:11, “Unto you is born, etc., a Saviour.”—ἔστιν, is) stands forth fulfilled: ch. Acts 3:25-26, Acts 13:32-33.—ἡ ἐπαγγελία, the promise) of this gift.—πᾶσι, to all) and therefore not to the apostles alone.—τοῖς εἰς μακρὰν, who are afar off) The LXX. Isaiah 57:19, εἰρήνην ἐπʼ εἰρήνῃ τοῖς μακρὰν καὶ τοῖς ἐγγὺς οὖσι. The apostles sometimes touched slightly upon mysteries, the fuller declaration of which was afterwards about to go forth to the world through themselves: and in the meanwhile touched upon them in such words as marvellously corresponded both to the language of the Old Testament and to their own present feeling or sense, which was a true sense, but not as yet the full one, and to the Divine intention, which was about to declare itself further through them. In this passage the Holy Spirit spake through Peter such things as to the admission of the Gentiles speedily, in a large number, and without circumcision (with which comp. Ephesians 2:13), as Peter himself afterwards in ch. 10 did not at once perceive (apprehend): and yet his words were in accordance with Isaiah; and even these words here are suited to that sense which he afterwards understood. All the words of Scripture are most skilfully chosen. As to the fact signified, weigh well the word first in ch. Acts 3:26, “Unto you, in the first instance, God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him.” Romans 2:10, “Of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile:” Acts 15:10, “Rejoice ye Gentiles with His people:” Ephesians 2:19, “You who were afar off are fellow-citizens with the saints” (the Jew-Christians), Acts 3:6, “That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs.” At the same time there is a Euphemism in the fact, that the name, Gentiles (so offensive to Jewish ears), is not introduced.—ὅσους ἂν, κ.τ.λ., whomsoever, etc.) The LXX. have εὐαγγελιζόμενοι οὓς ὁ Κύριος προσκέκληται in Joel, ch. quoted in Acts 2:17 [Joel 2:32].—προσκαλέσηται) shall call to Himself. This is the force of the verb in the middle.—Κύριος) יהוה the Lord.—ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν, our God) the God of us all.Verse 39. - To you is the promise for the promise is unto you, A.V.; shall call unto him for shall call. To you is the promise (see Acts 1:4; Acts 2:33). There is also a reference to the prophecy in Joel, quoted in vers. 17-21. To all that are afar off; i.e. the Gentiles, as appears clearly from Ephesians 2:17, where the same phrase is applied to the Ephesian Christians, and the Jewish Christians are spoken of as "those that were nigh." The fulfilment to the Gentiles is specially recorded (Acts 10:45; Acts 11:15, 18, etc.). Shall call unto him (comp. Romans 1:6; Romans 8:28, 30; Romans 9:24; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:6 (etc.), which confirm the application of the "afar off" to the Gentiles. Afar off (εἰς μακρὰν)

Lit., unto a long way. Referring probably to the Gentiles, who are described by this phrase both in the Old and New Testaments. See Zechariah 6:15; Ephesians 2:11-13. Peter knew the fact that the Gentiles were to be received into the Church, but not the mode. He expected they would become Christians through the medium of the Jewish religion. It was already revealed in the Old Testament that they should be received, and Christ himself had commanded the apostles to preach to all nations.

Shall call (προσκαλέσηται)

Rev. gives the force of πρός, to: "shall call unto him."

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