Acts 2:47
Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
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(47) Having favour with all the people.—The new life of the Apostles, in part probably their liberal almsgiving, had revived the early popularity of their Master with the common people. The Sadducean priests were, probably, the only section that looked on them with a malignant fear.

The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.—Many of the better MSS. omit the words “to the Church,” and connect “together,” which in the Greek is the first word in Acts 3:1, with this verse—The Lord added together . . . The verb “added” is in the tense which, like the adverb “daily,” implies a continually recurring act. “The Lord” is probably used here, as in Acts 2:39, in its generic Old Testament sense, rather than as definitely applied to Christ. For “such as should be saved”—a meaning which the present participle passive cannot possibly have—read, those that were in the way of salvation; literally, those that were being saved, as in 1Corinthians 1:18; 2Corinthians 2:15. The verse takes its place among the few passages in which the translators have, perhaps, been influenced by a Calvinistic bias; Hebrews 10:38, “if any man draw back,” instead of “if he draw back,” being another. It should, however, be stated in fairness that all the versions from Tyndale onward, including the Rhemish, give the same rendering. Wiclif alone gives nearly the true meaning, “them that were made safe.”




Acts 2:47

‘And the Lord added to them day by day those that were being saved.’-{R. V.} You observe that the principal alterations of these words in the Revised Version are two: the one the omission of ‘the church,’ the other the substitution of ‘were being saved’ for ‘such as should be saved.’ The former of these changes has an interest as suggesting that at the early period referred to the name of ‘the church’ had not yet been definitely attached to the infant community, and that the word afterwards crept into the text at a time when ecclesiasticism had become a great deal stronger than it was at the date of the writing of the Acts of the Apostles. The second of the changes is of more importance. The Authorised Version’s rendering suggests that salvation is a future thing, which in one aspect is partially true. The Revised Version, which is also by far the more literally accurate, suggests the other idea, that salvation is a process going on all through the course of a Christian man’s life. And that carries very large and important lessons.

I. I ask you to notice here, first, the profound conception which the writer had of the present action of the ascended Christ. ‘The Lord added to them day by day those that were being saved.’

Then Christ {for it is He that is here spoken of as the Lord}, the living, ascended Christ, was present in, and working with, that little community of believing souls. You will find that the thought of a present Saviour, who is the life-blood of the Church on earth, and the spring of action for all good that is done in it and by it, runs through the whole of this Book of the Acts of the Apostles. The keynote is struck in its first verses: ‘The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began to do and to teach, until the day in which He was taken up.’ That is the description of Luke’s Gospel, and it implies that the Acts of the Apostles is the second treatise, which tells all that Jesus continued to do and teach after that He was taken up. So the Lord, the ascended Christ, is the true theme and hero of this book. It is He, for instance, who sends down the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. It is He whom the dying martyr sees ‘standing at the right hand of God,’ ready to help. It is He who appears to the persecutor on the road to Damascus. It is He who sends Paul and his company to preach in Europe. It is He who opens hearts for the reception of their message. It is He who stands by the Apostle in a vision, and bids him ‘be of good cheer,’ and go forth upon his work. Thus, at every crisis in the history of the Church, it is the Lord-that is to say, Christ Himself-who is revealed as working in them and for them, the ascended but yet eve-present Guide, Counsellor, Inspirer, Protector, and Rewarder of them that put their trust in Him. So here it is He that ‘adds to the Church daily them that were being saved.’

I believe, dear brethren, that modern Christianity has far too much lost the vivid impression of this present Christ as actually dwelling and working among us. What is good in us and what is bad in us conspire to make us think more of the past work of an ascended Christ than of the present work of an indwelling Christ. We cannot think too much of that Cross by which He has laid the foundation for the salvation and reconciliation of all the world; but we may easily think too exclusively of it, and so fix our thoughts upon that work which He completed when on Calvary He said, ‘It is finished!’ as to forget the continual work which will never be finished until His Church is perfected, and the world is redeemed. If we are a Church of Christ at all, we have Christ in very deed among us, and working through us and on us. And unless we have, in no mystical and unreal and metaphorical sense, but in the simplest and yet grandest prose reality, that living Saviour here in our hearts and in our fellowship, better that these walls were levelled with the ground, and this congregation scattered to the four winds of heaven. The present Christ is the life of His Church.

Notice, and that but for a moment, for I shall have to deal with it more especially at another part of this discourse,-the specific action which is here ascribed to Him. He adds to the Church, not we, not our preaching, not our eloquence, our fervour, our efforts. These may be the weapons in His hands, but the hand that wields the weapon gives it all its power to wound and to heal, and it is Christ Himself who, by His present energy, is here represented as being the Agent of all the good that is done by any Christian community, and the Builder-up of His Churches, in numbers and in power.

It is His will for, His ideal of, a Christian Church, that continuously it should be gathering into its fellowship those that are being saved. That is His meaning in the establishment of His Church upon earth, and that is His will concerning it and concerning us, and the question should press on every society of Christians: Does our reality correspond to Christ’s ideal? Are we, as a portion of His great heritage, being continually replenished by souls that come to tell what God has done for them? Is there an unbroken flow of such into what we call our communion? I speak to you members of this church, and I ask you to ponder the question,-Is it so? and the other question, If it is not so, wherefore? ‘The Lord added daily,’- why does not the Lord add daily to us?

II. Let us go to the second part of this text, and see if we can find an answer. Notice how emphatically there is brought out here the attractive power of an earnest and pure Church.

My text is the end of a sentence. What is the beginning of the sentence? Listen,-’All that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the Temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added.’ Yes; of course. Suppose you were like these people. Suppose this church and congregation bore stamped upon it, plain and deep as the broad arrow of the king, these characteristics-manifest fraternal unity, plain unselfish unworldliness, habitual unbroken devotion, gladness which had in it the solemnity of Heaven, and a transparent simplicity of life and heart, which knew nothing of by-ends and shabby, personal motives or distracting duplicity of purpose-do you not think that the Lord would add to you daily such as should be saved? Or, to put it into other words, wherever there is a little knot of men obviously held together by a living Christ, and obviously manifesting in their lives and characters the likeness of that Christ transforming and glorifying them, there will be drawn to them-by natural gravitation, I was going to say, but we may more correctly say, by the gravitation which is natural in the supernatural realm-souls that have been touched by the grace of the Lord, and souls to whom that grace has been brought the nearer by looking upon them. Wherever there is inward vigour of life there will be outward growth; and the Church which is pure, earnest, living will be a Church which spreads and increases.

Historically, it has always been the case that in God’s Church seasons of expansion have followed upon seasons of deepened spiritual life on the part of His people. And the only kind of growth which is wholesome, and to be desired in a Christian community, is growth as a consequence of the revived religiousness of the individuals who make up the community.

And just in like manner as such a community will draw to it men who are like-minded, so it will repel from it all the formalist people. There are congregations that have the stamp of worldliness so deep upon them that any persons who want to be burdened with as little religion as may be respectable will find themselves at home there. And I come to you Christian people here, for whose Christian character I am in some sense and to some degree responsible, with this appeal: Do you see to it that, so far as your influence extends, this community of ours be such as that half-dead Christians will never think of coming near us, and those whose religion is tepid will be repelled from us, but that they who love the Lord Jesus Christ with earnest devotion and lofty consecration, and seek to live unworldly and saint-like lives, shall recognise in us men lik-minded, and from whom they may draw help. I beseech you-if you will not misunderstand the expression-make your communion such that it will repel as well as attract; and that people will find nothing here to draw them to an easy religion of words and formalism, beneath which all vermin of worldliness and selfishness may lurk, but will recognise in us a church of men and women who are bent upon holiness, and longing for more and more conformity to the divine Master.

Now, if all this be true, it is possible for worldly and stagnant communities calling themselves ‘Churches’ to thwart Christ’s purpose, and to make it both impossible and undesirable that He should add to them souls for whom He has died. It is a solemn thing to feel that we may clog Christ’s chariot-wheels, that there may be so little spiritual life in us, as a congregation, that, if I may so say, He dare not intrust us with the responsibility of guarding and keeping the young converts whom He loves and tends. We may not be fit to be trusted with them, and that may be why we do not get them. It may not be good for them that they should be dropped into the refrigerating atmosphere of such a church, and that may be why they do not come.

Depend upon it, brethren, that, far more than my preaching, your lives will determine the expansion of this church of ours. And if my preaching is pulling one way and your lives the other, and I have half an hour a week for talk and you have seven days for contradictory life, which of the two do you think is likely to win in the tug? I beseech you, take the words that I am now trying to speak, to yourselves. Do not pass them to the man in the next pew and think how well they fit him, but accept them as needed by you. And remember, that just as a bit of sealing-wax, if you rub it on your sleeve and so warm it, develops an attractive power, the Church which is warmed will draw many to itself. If the earlier words of this context apply to any Christian community, then certainly its blessed promise too will apply to it, and to such a church the Lord will ‘add day by day them that are being saved.’

III. And now, lastly, observe the definition given here of the class of persons gathered into the community.

I have already observed, in the earlier portion of this discourse, that here we have salvation represented as a process, a progressive thing which runs on all through life. In the New Testament there are various points of view from which that great idea of salvation is represented. It is sometimes spoken of as past, in so far as in the definite act of conversion and the first exercise of faith in Jesus Christ the whole subsequent evolution and development are involved, and the process of salvation has its beginning then, when a man turns to God. It is sometimes spoken of as present, in so far as the joy of deliverance from evil and possession of good, which is God, is realised day by day. It is sometimes spoken of as future, in so far as all the imperfect possession and pre-libations of salvation which we taste here on earth prophesy and point onwards to their own perfecting in the climax of heaven. But all these three points of view, past, present, and future, may be merged into this one of my text, which speaks of every saint on earth, from the infantile to the most mature, as standing in the same row, though at different points; walking on the same road, though advanced different distances; all participant of the same process of ‘being saved.’

Through all life the deliverance goes on, the deliverance from sin, the deliverance from wrath. The Christian salvation, then, according to the teaching of this emphatic phrase, is a process begun at conversion, carried on progressively through the life, and reaching its climax in another state. Day by day, through the spring and the early summer, the sun shines longer in the sky, and rises higher in the heavens; and the path of the Christian is as the shining light. Last year’s greenwood is this year’s hardwood; and the Christian, in like manner, has to ‘grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord and Saviour.’ So these progressively, and, therefore, as yet imperfectly, saved people, were gathered into the Church.

Now I have but two things to say about that. If that be the description of the kind of folk that come into a Christian Church, the duties of that Church are very plainly marked. And the first great one is to see to it that the community help the growth of its members. There are Christian Churches-I do not say whether ours is one of them or not-into which, if a young plant is brought, it is pretty sure to be killed. The temperature is so low that the tender shoots are nipped as with frost, and die. I have seen people, coming all full of fervour and of faith, into Christian congregations, and finding that the average round them was so much lower than their own, that they have cooled down after a time to the fashionable temperature, and grown indifferent like their brethren. Let us, dear friends, remember that a Christian Church is a nursery of imperfect Christians, and, for ourselves and for one another, try to make our communion such as shall help shy and tender graces to unfold themselves, and woo out, by the encouragement of example, the lowest and the least perfect to lofty holiness and consecration like the Master’s.

And if I am speaking to any in this congregation who hold aloof from Christian fellowship for more or less sufficient reasons, let me press upon them, in one word, that if they are conscious of a possession, however imperfect, of that incipient salvation, their place is thereby determined, and they are doing wrong if they do not connect themselves with some Christian Communion, and stand forth as members of Christ’s Church.

And now one last word. I have tried to show you that salvation, in the New Testament, is regarded as a process. The opposite thing is a process too. There is a very awful contrast in one of Paul’s Epistles. ‘The preaching of the Cross is to them who are in the act of perishing foolishness; unto us who are being saved, it is the power of God.’ These two processes start, as it were, from the same point, one by slow degrees and almost imperceptible motion, rising higher and higher, the other, by slow degrees and almost unconscious descent, sliding steadily and fatally downward ever further and further. And my point now is that in each of us one or other of these processes is going on. Either you are slowly rising or you are slipping down. Either a larger measure of the life of Christ, which is salvation, is passing into your hearts, or bit by bit you are dying like some man with creeping paralysis that begins at the extremities, and with fell, silent, inexorable footstep, advances further and further towards the citadel of the heart, where it lays its icy hand at last, and the man is dead. You are either ‘being saved’ or you are ‘perishing.’ No man becomes a devil all at once, and no man becomes an angel all at once. Trust yourself to Christ, and He will lift you to Himself; turn your back upon Him, as some of you are doing, and you will settle down, down, down in the muck and the mire of your own sensuality and selfishness, until at last the foul ooze spreads over your head, and you are lost in the bog for ever.

2:42-47 In these verses we have the history of the truly primitive church, of the first days of it; its state of infancy indeed, but, like that, the state of its greatest innocence. They kept close to holy ordinances, and abounded in piety and devotion; for Christianity, when admitted in the power of it, will dispose the soul to communion with God in all those ways wherein he has appointed us to meet him, and has promised to meet us. The greatness of the event raised them above the world, and the Holy Ghost filled them with such love, as made every one to be to another as to himself, and so made all things common, not by destroying property, but doing away selfishness, and causing charity. And God who moved them to it, knew that they were quickly to be driven from their possessions in Judea. The Lord, from day to day, inclined the hearts of more to embrace the gospel; not merely professors, but such as were actually brought into a state of acceptance with God, being made partakers of regenerating grace. Those whom God has designed for eternal salvation, shall be effectually brought to Christ, till the earth is filled with the knowledge of his glory.Praising God - See Luke 24:53.

And having favour - See Luke 2:52.

With all the people - That is, with the great mass of the people; with the people generally. It does not mean that all the people had become reconciled to Christianity; but their humble, serious, and devoted lives won the favor of the great mass of the community, and silenced opposition and cavil. This was a remarkable effect, but God has power to silence opposition; and there it nothing so well suited to do this as the humble and consistent lives of his friends.

And the Lord added - See Acts 5:14; Acts 11:24, etc. It was the Lord who did this. There was no power in man to do it; and the Christian loves to trace all increase of the church to the grace of God.

Added - Caused, or inclined them to be joined to the church.

The church - To the assembly of the followers of Christ - τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ tē ekklēsia. The word rendered "church" properly means "those who are called out," and is applied to Christians as being called out, or separated from the world. It is used only three times in the gospels, Matthew 16:18; Matthew 18:17, twice. It occurs frequently in other parts of the New Testament, and usually as applied to the followers of Christ. Compare Acts 5:11; Acts 7:38; Acts 8:1, Acts 8:3; Acts 9:31; Acts 11:22, Acts 11:26; Acts 12:1, Acts 12:5, etc. It is used in Classic writers to denote "an assembly" of any kind, and is twice thus used in the New Testament Acts 19:39, Acts 19:41, where it is translated "assembly."

Such as should be saved - This whole phrase is a translation of a participle - τοὺς σωζομένους tous sōzomenous. It does not express any purpose that they should be saved, but simply the fact that they were those who would be, or who were about to be saved. It is clear, however, from this expression, that those who became members of the church were those who continued to adorn their profession, or who gave proof that they were sincere Christians. It is implied here, also, that those who are to be saved will join themselves to the church of God. This is everywhere required; and it constitutes one evidence of piety when they are willing to face the world, and give themselves at once to the service of the Lord Jesus. Two remarks may be made on the last verse of this chapter; one is, that the effect of a consistent Christian life will be to command the respect of the world; and the other is, that the effect will be continually to increase the number of those who shall be saved. In this case they were daily added to it; the church was constantly increasing; and the same result may be expected in all cases where there is similar zeal, self-denial, consistency, and prayer.

We have now contemplated the foundation of the Christian church and the first glorious revival of religion. This chapter deserves to be profoundly studied by all ministers of the gospel, as well as by all who pray for the prosperity of the kingdom of God. It should excite our fervent gratitude that God has left this record of the first great work of grace, and our earnest prayers that He would multiply and extend such scenes until the earth shall be filled with His glory.

47. Praising God—"Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart, for God now accepteth thy works" (Ec 9:7, also see on [1941]Ac 8:39).

having favour with all the people—commending themselves by their lovely demeanor to the admiration of all who observed them.

And the Lord—that is, Jesus, as the glorified Head and Ruler of the Church.

added—kept adding; that is, to the visible community of believers, though the words "to the Church" are wanting in the most ancient manuscripts.

such as should be saved—rather, "the saved," or "those who were being saved." "The young Church had but few peculiarities in its outward form, or even in its doctrine: the single discriminating principle of its few members was that they all recognized the crucified Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. This confession would have been a thing of no importance, if it had only presented itself as a naked declaration, and would never in such a case have been able to form a community that would spread itself over the whole Roman empire. It acquired its value only through the power of the Holy Ghost, passing from the apostles as they preached to the hearers; for He brought the confession from the very hearts of men (1Co 12:3), and like a burning flame made their souls glow with love. By the power of this Spirit, therefore, we behold the first Christians not only in a state of active fellowship, but also internally changed: the narrow views of the natural man are broken through; they have their possessions in common, and they regard themselves as one family" [Olshausen].

Praising God; acknowledging him who teacheth one to want, and another to abound.

Having favour with all the people; that is, generally to be understood, amongst them that continued yet without the pale of the church; the goodness, meekness, and patience of the apostles, and the rest of the believers, did wonderfully prevail to beget a good opinion of them.

The Lord added to the church; salvation is (to be sure) only from the Lord; not Peter’s sermons, no, nor the miracles of fiery cloven tongues, and the rushing mighty wind, could have converted any, but Dei ti endon, that which was signified there, viz. the powerful operation of the Spirit of God in their hearts.

Praising God,.... Not only for their temporal mercies and enjoyments of life, which they partook of in so delightful and comfortable a manner; but for their spiritual mercies, that the Lord had been pleased to call them by his grace, and reveal Christ to them, and pardon them who had been such vile sinners, give them a name, and a place in his house, and favour them with the ordinances of it, and such agreeable and delightful company as the saints were, they had fellowship with:

having favour with all the people; they not only behaved with such true and sincere love towards one another in their church state, but with so much wisdom, courteousness, and affability towards them that were without, and walked so becoming the profession they made, that they gained the good will of the generality of the people:

and the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved: partly by the conversation of these young converts, and chiefly by the ministry of the word, many souls were won and gained to Christ, were wrought upon, and converted, whose hearts the Lord inclined to give up themselves to the church, and walk with them in all the ordinances and commandments of the Lord; and these were such whom God had chosen to salvation by Jesus Christ, and whom he had redeemed by his precious blood, and who were now regenerated and sanctified by the Spirit of God, and so should certainly be saved; which is not always the case of persons added to churches, many of whom have not the root of the matter in them, and so fall away; but is of those who are added by the Lord, for there is a difference between being added by the Lord, and being added by men.

Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
Acts 2:47. Αἰνοῦντες τ. Θεόν] is not to be restricted to giving thanks at meals, but gives prominence generally to the whole religious frame of spirit; which expressed itself in the praises of God (comp. de Wette). This is clearly evident from the second clause of the sentence, καὶ ἔχοντεςλαόν, referring likewise to their relation in general. That piety praising God, namely, and this possession of the general favour of the people, formed together the happy accompanying circumstances, under which they partook of their bodily sustenance with gladness and simple heart.

πρὸς ὅλ. τ. λαόν] possessing favour (on account of their pious conduct) in their relation to the whole people.[142] Comp. Romans 5:1.

ὁ κύριος] i.e. Christ, as the exalted Ruler of His church.

τούς σωζομένους] those who were being saved, i.e. those who (by their very accession to the church) became saved from eternal perdition so as to partake in the Messianic kingdom, Comp. Acts 2:40.

[142] To refer this remark, on account of the later persecution, to the idealizing tendency and to legendary embellishment (Baur), is a very rash course, as between this time and the commencement of persecution a considerable period intervenes, and the popular humour, particularly in times of fresh excitement, is so changeable. Schwanbeck also, p. 45, denies the correctness of the representation, which he reckons among the peculiarities of the Petrine portion of the book.

Acts 2:47. αἰνοῦντες τὸν Θεὸν: a favourite expression with St. Luke, cf. Gospel Acts 2:13; Acts 2:20, Acts 19:37, Acts 3:8-9, elsewhere only in Romans 15:11 (a quotation), and Revelation 19:5, with dative of person, W.H[135] The praise refers not merely to their thanksgivings at meals, but is characteristic of their whole devotional life both in public and private; and their life of worship and praise, combined with their liberality and their simplicity of life, helped to secure for them the result given in the following words, and an unmolested hearing in the Temple “Hunc inveniunt (favorem) qui Deum laudant” Bengel. αἰνέω is very frequent in the LXX, and nearly always of the praise of God, but cf. Genesis 49:8, Proverbs 31:28; Proverbs 31:30-31, Sir 44:1, etc.—ἔχοντες χάριν: if the life of the Church at this stage has been compared with that of her divine Master, inasmuch as it increased in wisdom and stature, another point of likeness may be found in the fact that the Church, like Christ, was in favour with God and man.—χάριν: very frequent in St. Luke’s Gospel and the Acts (Friedrich), only three times in the Gospel of St. John, and not at all in St. Matthew or St. Mark. In the O.T. it is often used of finding favour in the sight of God, and in the N.T. in a similar sense, cf. Luke 1:30, Acts 7:46. It is also used in the O.T. of favour, kindness, goodwill, especially from a superior to an inferior (Genesis 18:3; Genesis 32:5, etc.), so too in the N.T., here, and in Acts 7:10. See further note on Acts 14:3. In Luke’s Gospel eight times, in Acts seventeen times. See also Plummer’s full note on Luke 4:22, Sanday and Headlam’s Romans, p. 10, and Grimm-Thayer, sub v. Rendall would render “giving Him thanks before all the people,” and he refers to the fact that the phrase is always so rendered elsewhere (though once wrongly translated, Hebrews 12:28). But the phrase is also found in LXX, Exodus 33:12, 1Es 6:5 (see also Wetstein, in loco) in the sense first mentioned.—ὁ δὲ κύριος προσετίθει, i.e., the Lord Christ, cf. Acts 2:36 (as Holtzmann, Wendt, Weiss, amongst others). The pure and simple life of the disciples doubtless commended them to the people, and made it easier for them to gain confidence, and so converts, but the growth of the Church, St. Luke reminds us, was not the work of any human agency or attractiveness.—τοὺς σωζομένους: naturally connected with the prophecy in Acts 2:21 (cf. Acts 5:40), so that the work of salvation there attributed to Jehovah by the Old Testament Prophet is here the work of Christ the inference is again plain with regard to our Lord’s divinity. The expression is rightly translated in R.V. (so too in 1 Corinthians 1:18, 2 Corinthians 2:15. See Burton, Moods and Tenses in N. T. Greek, pp. 57, 58). It has nothing to do, as Wetstein well remarks, with the secret counsels of God, but relates to those who were obeying St. Peter’s command in Acts 2:40. An apt parallel is given by Mr. Page from Thuc., vii., 44.

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

Gift of Tongues, Acts 2:4. λαλεῖν ἑτέραις γλώσσαις.—There can be no doubt that St. Luke’s phrase (cf. γλώσσαις καιναῖς, Mark 16:17, W.H[136], margin, not text), taken with the context, distinctly asserts that the Apostles, if not the whole Christian assembly (St. Chrysostom, St. Jerome, St. Augustine, including the hundred-and-twenty), received the power of speaking in foreign languages, and that some of their hearers at all events understood them, Acts 2:8; Acts 2:11 (ἡμετέραις). (On the phrase as distinguished from those used elsewhere in Acts and in 1 Cor., see Grimm-Thayer, sub v., γλῶττα 2, and Blass, Acta Apost., p. 50, “γλῶττα etiam ap. att. per se est lingua peregrina vel potius vocabulum peregrinum”.) Wendt and Matthias, who have recently given us a lengthy account of the events of the first Christian Pentecost, both hold that this speaking with tongues is introduced by St. Luke himself, and that it is a legendary embellishment from his hand of what actually took place; the speaking with tongues at Pentecost was simply identical with the same phenomenon described elsewhere in Acts 10:46, Acts 19:6, and in 1 Corinthians 12:14. This is plain from St. Peter’s own words in Acts 11:15; Acts 11:17; so in Acts 19:6, the speaking with tongues is the immediate result of the outpouring of the Spirit. So too Wendt lays stress upon the fact that St. Paul says λαλεῖν γλώσσαις or γλώσση, but not λαλ. ἑτέρ. γλ. The former was evidently the original mode of describing the phenomenon, to which Luke recurs in his own description in Acts 10:46 and Acts 19:6, whereas in the passage before us his language represents the miraculous enhancement of the events of Pentecost. M’Giffert, in the same way, thinks that the writer of Acts, far removed moved from the events, could hardly avoid investing even the common phenomena of the Glossolalia with marvel and mystery. Wendt however admits that this embellishment was already accomplished by Christian tradition before Luke. But if St. Luke must have had every means of knowing from St. Paul the character of the speaking with tongues at Corinth, it does not seem unfair to maintain that he also had means of knowing from the old Palestinian Christians, who had been in union with the Church at Jerusalem from the beginning, e.g., from a John Mark, or a Mnason (ἀρχαῖος μαθητής, Acts 21:16), the exact facts connected with the great outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Schmid, Biblische Theologie, pp. 278, 279). But it is further to be noted that Wendt by no means denies that there was a miraculous element, as shown in the outpouring of the Spirit, in the events of the Pentecostal Feast, but that he also considers it quite unlikely that Luke’s introduction of a still further miraculous element was prompted by a symbolising tendency, a desire to draw a parallel between the Christian Pentecost and the miraculous delivery of the Law, according to the Jewish tradition that the one voice which proceeded from Sinai divided into seventy tongues, and was heard by the seventy nations of the world, each in their mother tongue (so Zeller, Pfleiderer, Hilgenfeld, Spitta, Jüngst and Matthias, and so apparently Clemen in his “Speaking with Tongues,” Expository Times, p. 345, 1899). But in the first place there is no convincing evidence at the early date of the Christian Pentecost of any connection in Jewish tradition between the Feast of Pentecost and the giving of the Law on Sinai (cf. Schmid, Biblische Theologie, p. 286; Hamburger, Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums, i., 7, 1057, and Holtzmann, Apostelgeschichte, p. 330), and it is significant that neither Philo nor Josephus make any reference to any such connection; and in the next place it is strange, as Wendt himself points out, that if Luke had started with the idea of the importance of any such symbolism, no reference should be made to it in the subsequent address of Peter, whereas even in the catalogue of the nations there is no reference of any kind to the number seventy; the number actually given, Acts 2:9; Acts 2:11, might rather justify the farfetched notice of Holtzmann (u. s., p. 331), that a reference is meant to the sixteen grandsons of Noah, Genesis 10:1-2; Genesis 10:6; Genesis 10:21. Certainly Hebrews 2:2-4 cannot, as Schmid well points out against Holtzmann, lead to any such connection of ideas as the μερισμοὶ πνεύμ. ἁγ. are evidently the distribution of the gifts of the Spirit. We may readily admit that the miracle on the birthday of the Christian Church was meant to foreshadow the universal progress of the new faith, and its message for all mankind without distinction of nation, position, or age. But even if the Jewish tradition referred to above was in existence at this early date, we have still to consider whether the narrative in Acts could possibly be a copy of it, or dependent upon it. According to the tradition, a voice was to be expected from Heaven which would be understood by different men in their mother tongues, but in our narrative the Apostles themselves speak after the manner of men in these tongues. For to suppose that the Apostles all spoke one and the same language, but that the hearers were enabled to understand these utterances, each in his own language, is not only to do violence to the narrative, but simply to substitute one miraculous incident for another. Nor again, as Wendt further admits, is there any real ground for seeing in the miraculous event under consideration a cancelling of the confusion of tongues at Babel which resulted from rebellion against God, for the narrative does not contain any trace of the conception of a unity of language to which the Jewish idea appears to have tended as a contrast to the confusion of Babel (Test. xii., Patr., Jud., xxv). The unity is not one of uniformity of speech but of oneness of Spirit and in the Spirit. At the same time there was a peculiar fitness in the fact that the first and most abundant bestowal of this divine gift should be given at a Feast which was marked above all others by the presence of strangers from distant lands, that a sign should thus be given to them that believed not, and that the firstfruits of a Gentile harvest should be offered by the Spirit to the Father (Iren., Adv. Haer, iii., 17), an assurance to the Apostles of the greatness and universality of the message which they were commissioned to deliver. But there is no reason to suppose that this power Of speaking in foreign languages was a permanent gift. In the first place the Greek language was known throughout the Roman Empire, and in the next place Acts 14:11 (see in loco) seems to forbid any such view. The speaking with tongues in Acts 2 and in other passages of the N.T. may be classed as identical in so far as each was the effect of the divine Πνεῦμα, each a miraculous spiritual gift, marking a new epoch of spiritual life. But in Acts we have what we have not elsewhere—the speaking in foreign tongues—this was not the case in Corinth; there the speaking with tongues was absolutely unintelligible, it could not be understood without an interpreter, i.e., without another gift of the divine Spirit, viz., interpretation, 1 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Corinthians 12:30 (the word unknown inserted in A.V. in 1 Corinthians 14 is unfortunate), and the fact that the Apostle compares the speaking with tongues to a speaking in foreign languages shows that the former was itself no speaking in foreign tongues, since two identical things do not admit of comparison (Schmid, u. s., pp. 288, 289).

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

Peter might well express his belief that Cornelius and those who spoke with tongues had also received the Holy Ghost, cf. Acts 10:44, Acts 11:17; Acts 11:24, in loco; but it does not follow that the gift bestowed upon them was identical with that bestowed at Pentecost—there were diversities of gifts from the bounty of the One Spirit. Felten, Apostelgeschichte, p. 78; Evans in Speaker’s Commentary on 1 Cor., p. 334; Plumptre, B.D.1 “Tongues, Gift of”; Weizsäcker, Apostolic Age, ii., pp. 272, 273, E.T., and Feine, Eine Vorkanonische Ueberlieferung des Lukas, n., p. 167; Zöckler, Apostelgeschichte, p. 177; Page, Acts of the Apostles, note on chap. Acts 2:4; and A. Wright, Some N. T. Problems, p. 277 ff.

The objection urged at length by Wendt and Spitta that foreign languages could not have been spoken, since in that case there was no occasion to accuse the Apostles of drunkenness, but that ecstatic incoherent utterances of devotion and praise might well have seemed to the hearers sounds produced by revelry or madness (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:23), is easily met by noting that the utterances were not received with mockery by all but only by some, the word ἕτεροι apparently denoting quite a different class of hearers, who may have been unacquainted with the language spoken, and hence regarded the words as an unintelligible jargon.

Spitta attempts to break up Acts 2:1-13 into two sources, 1a, 4, 12, 13, belonging to A, and simply referring to a Glossolalia like that at Corinth, whilst the other verses are assigned to [137] and the Redactor, and contain a narrative which could only have been derived from the Jewish tradition mentioned above, and introducing the notion of foreign tongues at a date when the Glossolalia had ceased to exist, and so to be understood. Spitta refers συμπληροῦσθαι Acts 2:1 to the filling up of the number of the Apostles in chap. 1, so that his source A begins καὶ ἐν τῷ συμπλ.… ἐπλήσθησαν πάντες π. ἁγ., Apostelgeschichte, p. 52. It is not surprising that Hilgenfeld should speak of the narrative as one which cannot be thus divided, upon which as he says Spitta has in vain essayed his artificial analysis.

[137] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

Community of Goods.—The key to the two passages, Acts 2:42 ff. and Acts 4:32 ff., is to be found in the expression in which they both agree, occurring in Acts 2:45 and Acts 4:35, καθότι ἄν τις χρείαν εἶχεν. Such expressions indicate, as we have seen, not reckless but judicious charity (see also Ramsay, St. Paul, etc., p. 373, and reading in , Acts 2:45); they show wise management, as in early days St. Chrysostom noted in commenting on the words, so that the Christians did not act recklessly like many philosophers among the Greeks, of whom some gave up their lands, others cast great quantities of money into the sea, which was no contempt of riches, but only folly and madness (Hom., vii.). Not that St. Luke’s glowing and repeated description (on St. Luke’s way of sometimes repeating himself as here, see Harris, Four Lectures on the Western Text, p. 85) is to be confined to the exercise of mere almsgiving on the part of the Church. Both those who had, and those who had not, were alike the inheritors of a kingdom which could only be entered by the poor in spirit, alike members of a family and a household in which there was one Master, even Christ, in Whose Name all who believed were brethren. In this poverty of spirit, in this sense of brotherhood, “the poor man knew no shame, the rich no haughtiness” (Chrys.).

But whilst men were called upon to give ungrudgingly, they were not called upon to give of necessity: what each one had was still his own, τὰ ὑπάρχοντα αὐτῷ, Acts 4:32, although not even one (οὐδὲ εῖς) of them reckoned it so; the daily ministration in Acts 6:1 seems to show that no equal division of property amongst all was intended; the act of Barnabas was apparently one of charity rather than of communism, for nothing is said of an absolute surrender of all that he had; the act of Ananias and Sapphira was entirely voluntary, although it presented itself almost as a duty (Ramsay, u. s.); Mark’s mother still retains her home at Jerusalem, Acts 12:12, and it would seem that Mnason too had a dwelling there (see on Acts 21:16). At Joppa, Acts 9:36; Acts 9:39, and at Antioch, Acts 11:29, there was evidently no absolute equality of earthly possessions—Tabitha helps the poor out of her own resources, and every man as he prospered sent his contributions to the Church at Jerusalem.

It is sometimes urged that this enthusiasm of charity and of the spirit (ἐνθουσιασμός, as Blass calls it), which filled at all events the Church at Jerusalem, was due to the expectation of Christ’s immediate return, and that in the light of that event men regarded lands and possessions as of no account, even if ordinary daily work was not neglected (O. Holtzmann, Neutest. Zeitgeschichte, p. 233). But it is strange that if this is the true account of the action of the Church at Jerusalem, a similar mode of life and charity should not have found place in other Churches, e.g., in the Church at Thessalonica, where the belief in Christ’s speedy return was so overwhelmingly felt (Felten). No picture could be more extraordinary than that drawn by O. Holtzmann of the Christian Church at Jerusalem, driven by the voice of Christian prophets to enjoin an absolutely compulsory community of goods in expectation of the nearness of the Parousia, and of Ananias and Sapphira as the victims of this tyrannical product of fanaticism and overwrought excitement. It is a relief to turn from such a strange perversion of the narrative to the enthusiastic language in which, whilst insisting on its idealising tendency, Renan and Pfleiderer alike have recognised the beauty of St. Luke’s picture, and of the social transformation which was destined to renew the face of the earth, which found its pattern of serving and patient love in Jesus the Friend of the poor, whose brotherhood opened a place of refuge for the oppressed, the destitute, the weak, who enjoyed in the mutual love of their fellows a foretaste of the future kingdom in which God Himself will wipe all tears from their eyes. Whatever qualifications must be made in accepting the whole description given us by Renan and Pfleiderer, they were at least right in recognising the important factor of the Person of Jesus, and the probability that during His lifetime He had Himself laid the foundations of the social movement which so soon ennobled and blessed His Church. It is far more credible that the disciples should have continued the common life in which they had lived with their Master than that they should have derived a social system from the institutions of the Essenes. There is no proof of any historical connection between this sect and the Apostolic Church, nor can we say that the high moral standard and mode of common life adopted by the Essenes, although in some respects analogous to their own, had any direct influence on the followers of Christ. Moreover, with points of comparison, there were also points of contrast. St. Luke’s notice, Acts 2:46, that the believers continued steadfastly in the Temple, stands out in contrast to the perpetual absence of the Essenes from the Temple, to which they sent their gifts (Jos., Ant., xviii. 2, 5); the common meals of the Essene brotherhood naturally present a likeness to St. Luke’s description of the early Christian Church, but whilst the Essenes dined together, owing to their scrupulosity in avoiding all food except what was ceremonially pure, the Christians saw in every poor man who partook of their common meal the real Presence of their Lord. Of all contemporary sects it may no doubt be said that the Christian society resembled most nearly the Essenes, but with this admission Weizsäcker well adds: “The Essenes, through their binding rules and their suppression of individualism, were, from their very nature, an order of limited extent. In the new Society the moral obligation of liberty reigned, and disclosed an unlimited future,” Apostolic Age, i., 58 (E.T.). It is often supposed that the after-poverty of the Church in Jerusalem, Romans 15:26, Galatians 2:10, etc., was the result of this first enthusiasm of love and charity, and that the failure of a community of goods in the mother city prevented its introduction elsewhere. But not only is the above view of the “communism” of the early Christians adverse to this supposition, but there were doubtless many causes at work which may account for the poverty of the Saints in Jerusalem, cf. Rendall, Expositor, Nov., 1893, p. 322. The collection for the Saints, which occupies such a prominent place in St. Paul’s life and words, may not have been undertaken for any exceptional distress as in the earlier case of the famine in Judæa, Acts 11:26, but we cannot say how severely the effects of the famine may have affected the fortunes of the Jerusalem Christians. We must too take into account the persecution of the Christians by their rich neighbours; the wealthy Sadducees were their avowed opponents. From the first it was likely that the large majority of the Christians in Jerusalem would possess little of this world’s goods, and the constant increase in the number of the disciples would have added to the difficulty of maintaining the disproportionate number of poor. But we cannot shut our eyes to the fact that there was another and a fatal cause at work—love itself had grown cold—the picture drawn by St. James in his Epistle is painfully at variance with the golden days which he had himself seen, when bitter jealousy and faction were unknown, for all were of one heart and one soul, Zahn, Skizzen aus dem Leben der alten Kirche, p. 39 ff.; Zöckler, u.s., pp. 191, 192; Wendt, in loco; M‘Giffert, Apostolic Age, p. 67; Conybeare, “Essenes,” Hastings’ B.D.; Kaufmann, Socialism and Communism, p. 5 ff.

47. praising God] because their hearts were full of thankfulness for the knowledge of Jesus as His Christ.

having favour with all the people] As it was said of Christ, “the common people heard Him gladly” (Mark 12:37), so it seems to have been with His Apostles. The first attack made on them is (Acts 4:1) by the priests, the captain of the Temple and the Sadducees.

And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved] The oldest MSS. agree in omitting to the church, and the literal rendering of the most authoritative text is, And the Lord added day by day together such as were in the way of salvation, i.e. brought into the communion “such as” (literally) “were being saved,” the work of whose salvation was begun but needed perseverance; who had set foot on the way and were heirs through hope of ultimate salvation. By this rendering the Greek words ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό = to the same place, together, which in the Rec. Text are at the beginning of chapter 3, are taken into this verse in accordance with the authority of the oldest MSS.

Acts 2:47. Χάριν, grace, i.e. favour) They find this who praise God.—ὁ δὲ Κύριος, moreover the Lord) Jesus.—τοὺς) An emphatic article: There was no day without such being added who were being saved.—τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ) This, as it seems, is a gloss of Chrysostom, which has been propagated by the Syriac version and others. The words are not in the older authorities.[24] [The company of believers receives a variety of appellations, until, having obtained its own regular constitution, it at last receives the name of the Church (an argument against the genuineness of τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ here).—Not. Crit.]

[24] Hence also in this passage the decision of the larger Ed., which had judged the omission of the words τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ not to be approved of, is corrected. The margin of Ed. 2 has left the decision to the reader: but the Germ. Vers. follows this after-decision of the Gnomon.—E. B.

The words are omitted in ABC Vulg. Memph. and Theb.: and so Lachm. But Ee and Rec. Text insert them: so also Dd and Syr. ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ: so Tisch.—E. and T.

Verse 47. - To them day by day for to the Church daily, A.V. and T.R.; those that were being sated for such as should be saved, A.V. Added to them day by day. The R.T. has instead of τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ the words ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό, which in Acts 2:1 are properly rendered "in one place," but do not seem to be rendered at all in the R.V. of this verse. In fact, they have no sense unless you construe them with τοὺς σωζομένους, "those who escaped to the same place," i.e. to the Church. But it seems most probable that the words ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό do really belong to Acts 3:1, where they are found in the T.R. If τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ does not properly belong to the text (it is wanting in A, B, C, א, and many versions), then προσετίθει must be taken absolutely, as προσετέθησαν is in ver. 41, the Church, or the disciples, being understood. Those that were being saved. The exhortation in ver. 40 was "Save yourselves from this crooked generation." Those who were added to the Church were those who complied with the exhortation, and escaped from complicity with their unbelieving countrymen. They were the remnant that escaped. (See the use of οἱ σωζόμενοι in the LXX. (2 Chronicles 20:25, etc.), and see Mark 16:16.)

Acts 2:47Added (προσετίθει)

Imperfect: kept adding.

Such as should be saved (τοὺς σωζομένους)

Lit., as Rev., those that were being saved. The rendering of the A. V. would require the verb to be in the future, whereas it is the present participle. Compare 1 Corinthians 1:18. Salvation is a thing of the present, as well as of the past and future. The verb is used in all these senses in the New Testament. Thus, we were saved (not are, as A. V.), Romans 8:24; shall or shalt be saved, Romans 10:9, Romans 10:13; ye are being saved, 1 Corinthians 15:2. "Godliness, righteousness, is life, is salvation. And it is hardly necessary to say that the divorce of morality and religion must be fostered and encouraged by failing to note this, and so laying the whole stress either on the past or on the future - on the first call, or on the final change. It is, therefore, important that the idea of salvation as a rescue from sin, through the knowledge of God in Christ, and therefore a progressive condition, a present state, should not be obscured, and we can but regret such a translation as Acts 2:47, 'The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved,' where the Greek implies a different idea" (Lightfoot, "On a Fresh Revision of the New Testament").

To the church

See on Matthew 16:18.

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