Acts 20:21
Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
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(21) Repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.—These, under all varieties of form, whether speaking to Jews or Gentiles, to philosophers at Athens (Acts 17:30) or peasants of Lystra (Acts 14:15), formed the substance of his teaching. It is obvious, however, that out of these might be developed a whole system of theology—why repentance was needed, and what it was, and how it should show itself, what was involved in the statement that Jesus was the Christ, and why men should believe in Him, and what works were the proper fruit of faith. All these were questions which had to be answered, before even the most elementary truths could be rightly apprehended.

20:17-27 The elders knew that Paul was no designing, self-seeking man. Those who would in any office serve the Lord acceptably, and profitably to others, must do it with humility. He was a plain preacher, one that spoke his message so as to be understood. He was a powerful preacher; he preached the gospel as a testimony to them if they received it; but as a testimony against them if they rejected it. He was a profitable preacher; one that aimed to inform their judgments, and reform their hearts and lives. He was a painful preacher, very industrious in his work. He was a faithful preacher; he did not keep back reproofs when necessary, nor keep back the preaching of the cross. He was a truly Christian, evangelical preacher; he did not preach notions or doubtful matters; nor affairs of state or the civil government; but he preached faith and repentance. A better summary of these things, without which there is no salvation, cannot be given: even repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, with their fruits and effects. Without these no sinner can escape, and with these none will come short of eternal life. Let them not think that Paul left Asia for fear of persecution; he was in full expectation of trouble, yet resolved to go on, well assured that it was by Divine direction. Thanks be to God that we know not the things which shall befall us during the year, the week, the day which has begun. It is enough for the child of God to know that his strength shall be equal to his day. He knows not, he would not know, what the day before him shall bring forth. The powerful influences of the Holy Spirit bind the true Christian to his duty. Even when he expects persecution and affliction, the love of Christ constrains him to proceed. None of these things moved Paul from his work; they did not deprive him of his comfort. It is the business of our life to provide for a joyful death. Believing that this was the last time they should see him, he appeals concerning his integrity. He had preached to them the whole counsel of God. As he had preached to them the gospel purely, so he had preached it to them entire; he faithfully did his work, whether men would bear or forbear.Testifying - Bearing witness to the necessity of repentance toward God. Or teaching them the nature of repentance, and exhorting them to repent and believe. Perhaps the word "testifying" includes both ideas of giving evidence, and of urging with great earnestness and affection that repentance and faith were necessary. See 1 Timothy 5:21; 2 Timothy 2:14; where the word used here, and here translated "testify," is there translated correctly, "charge," in the sense of "strongly urging, or entreating with great earnestness."

And also to the Greeks - To all who were not Jews. "The Greeks" properly denoted "those who lived in Greece, and who spoke the Greek language." But the phrase, "Jews and Greeks," among the Hebrews, denoted "the whole human race." He urged the necessity of repentance and faith in all. Religion makes no distinction, but regards all as sinners, and as needing salvation by the blood of the Redeemer.

Repentance toward God - See the notes on Matthew 3:2. Repentance is to be exercised "toward God," because:

(1) Sin has been committed against him, and it is proper that we express our sorrow to the Being whom we have offended; and,

(2) Because only God can pardon. Sincere repentance exists only where there is a willingness to make acknowledgment to the very Being whom we have offended or injured.

And faith - See the notes on Mark 16:16.

Toward - εἰς eis. In regard to; in; confidence in the work and merits of the Lord Jesus. This is required, because there is no other one who can save from sin. See the notes on Acts 4:12.

21. Testifying both to Jews and … Greeks—laboring under a common malady, and recoverable only by a common treatment.

repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ—(See on [2077]Ac 5:31). Repentance, as distinguished from faith, is that state of the "honest and good heart" which arises from a discovery of one's contrariety to the righteous demands of the divine law. This is said to be "toward God," because seeing Him to be the party dishonored by sin, it feels all its acknowledgments and compunctions to be properly due to Him, as the great Lawgiver, and directs them to Him accordingly; condemning, humbling itself, and grieving before Him, looking also to Him as its only Hope of deliverance. Faith is said to be "toward our Lord Jesus Christ," because in that frame of mind just described it eagerly credits the testimony of relief divinely provided in Christ, gladly embraces the overtures of reconciliation in Him, and directs all its expectations of salvation, from its first stage to its last, to Him as the one appointed Medium of all grace from God to a sinful world. Thus we have here a brief summary of all Gospel preaching. And it is easy to see why repentance is here put before faith; for the former must of necessity precede the latter. There is a repentance subsequent to faith, the fruit of felt pardon and restoration. It was this which drew the tears with which the Saviour's feet were once so copiously moistened. (Lu 7:37, 38, 47; and compare Eze 16:63). But that is not the light in which it is here presented.

Testifying to all sorts and conditions of men, for there is no difference with God, that repentance would be accepted from them by God, and that he was ready to give repentance unto them, as Acts 11:18; and that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ was the true saving faith, there being no other name given whereby we may be saved. Upon these two depends the whole gospel, and our salvation by it.

Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks,.... To the Jews first in their synagogue, and then to both Jews and Greeks, or Gentiles, in the school of Tyrannus; opening and explaining to both the nature and use, urging and insisting upon, and proving by undeniable testimonies the necessity,

of repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ: the former of these is not a legal repentance, but an evangelical one; which flows from a sense of the love of God, and an application of pardoning grace and mercy, and is always attended with hope, at least of interest in it, and as here with faith in Christ Jesus: it lies in a true sight and sense of sin, as exceeding sinful, being contrary to the nature and law of God, and a deformation of the image of God in man, as well as followed with dreadful and pernicious consequences; and in a godly sorrow for it, as it is committed against a God of infinite purity and holiness, and of love, grace, and mercy; and it shows itself in shame for sin, and blushing at it, and in an ingenious confession of it, and forsaking it: and the latter of these is not an historical faith, or an assent of the mind to whatsoever is true concerning the person, office, and grace of Christ; but is a spiritual act of the soul upon him; it is a looking and going out to him, a laying hold and leaning on him, and trusting in him, for grace, righteousness, peace, pardon, life, and salvation. Now these two were the sum of the apostle's ministry; this is a breviary or compendium of it; a form of sound words held fast and published by him: and as these two go together as doctrines in the ministry of the word, they go together as graces in the experience of the saints; where the one is, there the other is; they are wrought in the soul at one and the same time, by one and the same hand; the one is not before the other in order of time, however it may be in order of working, or as to visible observation; repentance is mentioned before faith, not that it precedes it, though it may be discerned in its outward acts before it; yet faith as to its inward exercise on Christ is full as early, if not earlier; souls first look to Christ by faith, and then they mourn in tears of evangelical repentance, Zechariah 12:10 though the order of the Gospel ministry is very fitly here expressed, which is first to lay before sinners the evil of sin, and their danger by it, in order to convince of it, and bring to repentance for it; and then to direct and encourage them to faith in Christ Jesus, as in the case of the jailer, Acts 16:29 and this is, generally speaking, the order and method in which the Holy Spirit proceeds; he is first a spirit of conviction and illumination, he shows to souls the exceeding sinfulness of sin, causes them to loath it and themselves for it, and humbles them under a sense of it; and then he is a spirit of faith, he reveals Christ unto them as God's way or salvation, and works faith in them to believe in him. Moreover, these two, repentance and faith, were the two parts of Christ's ministry, Mark 1:15 and are what, he would have published and insisted on, in the preaching of the word, Luke 24:47 so that the ministry of the apostle was very conformable to the mind and will of Christ.

Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
Acts 20:21. διαμαρτ., see above on p. 92; Lucan—Pauline.—μετάν. καὶ πίστιν, cf. the earliest notes in the preaching of Jesus, Mark 1:15, and these were equally the notes of the preaching of St. Peter and St. Paul alike. Whether Paul was preaching to Jews or Gentiles, to philosophers at Athens or to peasants at Lystra, the substance of his teaching was the same under all varieties of forms, cf. Acts 14:15, Acts 17:30, Acts 26:20. It is quite arbitrary to refer μετάνοια to the Gentile and πίστις to the Jew.—Ἰουδ. τε καὶ Ἕλλησι, Pauline, cf. Romans 1:16; Romans 2:9-10; Romans 3:9; Romans 3:12, 1 Corinthians 1:24.

21. testifying, &c.… to the Greeks] The Rev. Ver. omits “the” before both nouns, the Greek having no article. “Both to Jews and to Greeks.” By “testifying” is meant “proclaiming the need of.” And this message the Apostle would support by his own witness.

repentance … Christ] By some MSS. the last word is omitted. Some have seen in these two clauses a reference to the character of the preaching, “repentance” indicating what was most needful for the Gentiles, and “faith toward our Lord” the demand made upon the Jews. This however seems fanciful, especially when we remember the Pentecostal sermon of St Peter (Acts 2:38) which was certainly addressed to Jews rather than Gentiles, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you.”

Acts 20:21. Τὴν) The sum of those things which are profitable is the sum of Christian doctrine, the sum of the Divine counsel, Repentance and Faith.—εἰς, towards) repentance, whereby men betake themselves to God. Refer this to the Greeks, who were mentioned just before; and refer the word faith to the Jews who betake themselves to Christ, mentioned a little before. It is a Chiasmus, as in Philem. Acts 20:5, where see the note. [The Jews ([115]); the Greeks ([116]); Repentance ([117]); Faith ([118]): [119] refers to [120]; [121] to [122]: inverted Chiasmus. See Append. on the distinction of Immediate Relation, Direct Chiasmus, and Inverted.]

[115] the Alexandrine MS.: in Brit. Museum: fifth century: publ. by Woide, 1786–1819: O. and N. Test. defective.

[116] the Vatican MS., 1209: in Vat. Iibr., Rome: fourth cent.: O. and N. Test. def.

[117] Ephræmi Rescriptus: Royal libr., Paris: fifth or sixth cent.: publ. by Tisch. 1843: O. and N. T. def.

[118] Bezæ, or Cantabrig.: Univ. libr., Cambridge: fifth cent.: publ. by Kipling, 1793: Gospels, Acts, and some Epp. def.

[119] the Alexandrine MS.: in Brit. Museum: fifth century: publ. by Woide, 1786–1819: O. and N. Test. defective.

[120] Bezæ, or Cantabrig.: Univ. libr., Cambridge: fifth cent.: publ. by Kipling, 1793: Gospels, Acts, and some Epp. def.

[121] the Vatican MS., 1209: in Vat. Iibr., Rome: fourth cent.: O. and N. Test. def.

[122] Ephræmi Rescriptus: Royal libr., Paris: fifth or sixth cent.: publ. by Tisch. 1843: O. and N. T. def.

Verse 21. - To Jews and to Greeks for both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, A.V. (see Acts 19:10, 17). Repentance, etc. The two cardinal points of gospel teaching, as they are the two necessary qualities for every Christian man. "Repentance whereby we forsake sin, and faith whereby we steadfastly believe the promises of God." There is no ground for the remarks of Kuinoel and others, that repentance is to be referred chiefly to the Gentiles, and faith to the Jews (see Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19; Acts 5:31, etc.; Mark 1:15, etc.). Acts 20:21Repentance toward God

Repentance has the article: the repentance which is due to God. So, also, faith: the faith which is due toward Christ, as the advocate and mediator.

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