Acts 20:32
And now, brothers, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(32) And now, brethren, I commend you . . .—The Greek verb and its derivatives are characteristic of St. Paul’s phraseology. Teachers are to “commit” the truth they have received to others (2Timothy 2:2), and the truth so committed is the depositum fidei which they thus hold, as it were, in trust (2Timothy 1:14).

The word of his grace, which is able to build you up . . .—It can hardly be said that the “word” here is used, as it is by St. John, for the person of Christ as the Logos. (See Notes on John 1:14; John 1:16; 1John 1:1.) There is, however, a quasi-personal character ascribed to it, “able to . . . give an inheritance,” which suggests the thought of something more than the written or spoken word. The true explanation is probably to be found in the thought of the “engrafted (or better, the implanted) word” of James 1:21, the “word of God, quick and powerful” of Hebrews 4:12; and in so far as this is identical with the “Light that lighteth every man” of John 1:9, we may find in these passages a preparation for the more fully developed teaching of St. John as to the Logos. We cannot pass over the word “build” without noting the recurrence of the same thought and word in Ephesians 2:20-21; Ephesians 4:12; Ephesians 4:16; Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 2:7. The figure was a natural one anywhere (comp. 1Corinthians 3:10), but it would gain additional vividness from the stately architecture of Ephesus, perhaps also from the presence of one among St. Paul’s companions who may have been himself an architect. (See Note on Acts 20:4.)

An inheritance among all them which are sanctified.—Here also we find a thought specially characteristic of the teaching of the Epistle to the Ephesians. So we find the “earnest of our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:14), the “inheritance in, or among, the saints” (Ephesians 1:18), the “inheritance in the kingdom” (Ephesians 5:5). The participle is in the perfect tense: those that have been sanctified, or consecrated. That term was, of course, equivalent to and co-extensive with “the saints,” as applied to the whole body of believers. (See Notes on Acts 9:2; Romans 1:7; 1Corinthians 1:2; 2Corinthians 1:1.)

Acts

THE FIGHT WITH WILD BEASTS AT EPHESUS

PARTING COUNSELS

PARTING WORDS 1

Acts 20:32
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I may be pardoned if my remarks now should assume somewhat of a more personal character than is my wont. I desire to speak mainly to my own friends, the members of my own congregation; and other friends who have come to give me a parting ‘Godspeed’ will forgive me if my observations have a more special bearing on those with whom I am more immediately connected.

The Apostle whose words I have taken for my text was leaving, as he supposed, for the last time, the representatives of the Church in Ephesus, to whom he had been painting in very sombre colours the dangers of the future and his own forebodings and warnings. Exhortations, prophecies of evil, expressions of anxious solicitude, motions of Christian affection, all culminate in this parting utterance. High above them all rises the thought of the present God, and of the mighty word which in itself, in the absence of all human teachers, had power to ‘build them up, and to give them an inheritance amongst them that are sanctified.’

If we think of that Church in Ephesus, this brave confidence of the Apostle’s becomes yet more remarkable. They were set in the midst of a focus of heathen superstition, from which they themselves had only recently been rescued. Their knowledge was little, they had no Apostolic teacher to be present with them; they were left alone there to battle with the evils of that corrupt society in which they dwelt. And yet Paul leaves them-’sheep in the midst of wolves,’ with a very imperfect Christianity, with no Bible, with no teachers-in the sure confidence that no harm will come to them, because God is with them, and the ‘word of His grace’ is enough.

And that is the feeling, dear brethren, with which I now look you in the face for the last time for a little while. I desire that you and I should together share the conviction that each of us is safe because God and the ‘word of His grace’ will go and remain with us.

I. So then, first of all, let me point you to the one source of security and enlightenment for the Church and for the individual.

We are not to separate between God and the ‘word of His grace,’ but rather to suppose that the way by which the Apostle conceived of God as working for the blessing and the guardianship of that little community in Ephesus was mainly, though not exclusively, through that which he here designates ‘the word of His grace.’ We are not to forget the ever-abiding presence of the indwelling Spirit who guards and keeps the life of the individual and of the community. But what is in the Apostle’s mind here is the objective revelation, the actual spoken word {not yet written} which had its origin in God’s condescending love, and had for its contents, mainly, the setting forth of that love. Or to put it into other words, the revelation of the grace of God in Jesus Christ, with all the great truths that cluster round and are evolved from it, is the all-sufficient source of enlightenment and security for individuals and for Churches. And whosoever will rightly use and faithfully keep that great word, no evil shall befall him, nor shall he ever make shipwreck of the faith. It is ‘able to build you up,’ says Paul. In God’s Gospel, in the truth concerning Jesus Christ the divine Redeemer, in the principles that flow from that Cross and Passion, and that risen life and that ascension to God, there is all that men need, all that they want for life, all that they want for godliness. The basis of their creed, the sufficient guide for their conduct, the formative powers that will shape into beauty and nobleness their characters, all lie in the germ in this message, ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.’ Whoever keeps that in mind and memory, ruminates upon it till it becomes the nourishment of his soul, meditates on it till the precepts and the promises and the principles that are enwrapped in it unfold themselves before Him, needs none other guide for life, none other solace in sorrow, none other anchor of hope, none other stay in trial and in death. ‘I commend you to God and the word of His grace,’ which is a storehouse full of all that we need for life and for godliness. Whoever has it is like a landowner who has a quarry on his estate, from which at will he can dig stones to build his house. If you truly possess and faithfully adhere to this Gospel, you have enough.

Remember that these believers to whom Paul thus spoke had no New Testament, and most of them, I dare say, could not read the Old. There were no written Gospels in existence. The greater part of the New Testament was not written; what was written was in the shape of two or three letters that belonged to Churches in another part of the world altogether. It was to the spoken word that he commended them. How much more securely may we trust one another to that permanent record of the divine revelation which we have here in the pages of Scripture!

As for the individual, so for the Church, that written word is the guarantee for its purity and immortality. Christianity is the only religion that has ever passed through periods of decadence and purified itself again. They used to say that Thames water was the best to put on shipboard because, after it became putrid, it cleared itself and became sweet again. I do not know anything about whether that is true or not, but I know that it is true about Christianity. Over and over again it has rotted, and over and over again it has cleared itself, and it has always been by the one process. Men have gone back to the word and laid hold again of it in its simple omnipotence, and so a decadent Christianity has sprung up again into purity and power. The word of God, the principles of the revelation contained in Christ and recorded for ever in this New Testament, are the guarantee of the Church’s immortality and of the Church’s purity. This man and that man may fall away, provinces may be lost from the empire for a while, standards of rebellion and heresy may be lifted, but ‘the foundation of God standeth sure,’ and whoever will hark back again and dig down through the rubbish of human buildings to the living Rock will build secure and dwell at peace. If all our churches were pulverised to-morrow, and every formal creed of Christendom were torn in pieces, and all the institutions of the Church were annihilated-if there was a New Testament left they would all be built up again. ‘I commend you to God, and to the word of His grace.’

II. Secondly, notice the possible benefit of the silencing of the human voice.

Paul puts together his absence and the power of the word. ‘Now I know that you will see my face no more’-’I commend you to God.’ That is to say, it is often a good thing that the voice of man may be hushed in order that the sweeter and deeper music of the word of God, sounding from no human lips, may reach our hearts. Of course I am not going to depreciate preachers and books and religious literature and the thought and the acts of good and wise men who have been interpreters of God’s meaning and will to their brethren, but the human ministration of the divine word, like every other help to knowing God, may become a hindrance instead of a help; and in all such helps there is a tendency, unless there be continual jealous watchfulness on the part of those who minister them, and on the part of those who use them, to assert themselves instead of leading to God, and to become not mirrors in which we may behold God, but obscuring media which come between us and Him. This danger belongs to the great ordinance and office of the Christian ministry, large as its blessings are, just as it belongs to all other offices which are appointed for the purpose of bringing men to God. We may make them ladders or we may make them barriers; we may climb by them or we may remain in them. We may look at the colours on the painted glass until we do not see or think of the light which strikes through the colours.

So it is often a good thing that a human voice which speaks the divine word, should be silenced; just as it is often a good thing that other helps and props should be taken away. No man ever leans all his weight upon God’s arm until every other crutch on which he used to lean has been knocked from him.

And therefore, dear brethren, applying these plain things to ourselves, may I not say that it may and should be the result of my temporary absence from you that some of you should be driven to a more first-hand acquaintance with God and with His word? I, like all Christian ministers, have of course my favourite ways of looking at truth, limitations of temperament, and idiosyncrasies of various sorts, which colour the representations that I make of God’s great word. All the river cannot run through any pipe; and what does run is sure to taste somewhat of the soil through which it runs. And for some of you, after thirty years of hearing my way of putting things- and I have long since told you all that I have got to say-it will be a good thing to have some one else to speak to you, who will come with other aspects of that great Truth, and look at it from other angles and reflect other hues of its perfect whiteness. So partly because of these limitations of mine, partly because you have grown so accustomed to my voice that the things that I say do not produce half as much effect on many of you as if I were saying them to somebody else, or somebody else were saying them to you, and partly because the affection, born of so many years of united worship, for which in many respects I am your debtor, may lead you to look at the vessel rather than the treasure, do you not think it may be a means of blessing and help to this congregation that I should step aside for a little while and some one else should stand here, and you should be driven to make acquaintance with ‘God and the word of His grace’ a little more for yourselves? What does it matter though you do not have nay sermons? You have your Bibles and you have God’s Spirit. And if my silence shall lead any of you to prize and to use these more than you have done, then my silence will have done a great deal more than my speech. Ministers are like doctors, the test of their success is that they are not needed any more. And when we can say, ‘They can stand without us, and they do not need us,’ that is the crown of our ministry.

III. Thirdly, notice the best expression of Christian solicitude and affection.

‘I commend you,’ says Paul, ‘to God, and to the word of His grace.’ If we may venture upon a very literal translation of the word, it is, ‘I lay you down beside God.’ That is beautiful, is it not? Here had Paul been carrying the Ephesian Church on his back for a long time now. He had many cares about them, many forebodings as to their future, knowing very well that after his departure grievous wolves were going to enter in. He says, ‘I cannot carry the load any longer; here I lay it down at the Throne, beneath those pure Eyes, and that gentle and strong Hand.’ For to commend them to God is in fact a prayer casting the care which Paul could no longer exercise, upon Him.

And that is the highest expression of, as it is the only soothing for, manly Christian solicitude and affection. Of course you and I, looking forward to these six months of absence, have all of us our anxieties about what may be the issue. I may feel afraid lest there should be flagging here, lest good work should be done a little more languidly, lest there should be a beggarly account of empty pews many a time, lest the bonds of Christian union here should be loosened, and when I come back I may find it hard work to reknit them. All these thoughts must be in the mind of a true man who has put most of his life, and as much of himself as during that period he could command, into his work. What then? ‘I commend you to God.’ You may have your thoughts and anxieties as well as I have mine. Dear brethren, let us make an end of solicitude and turn it into petition and bring one another to God, and leave one another there.

This ‘commending,’ as it is the highest expression of Christian solicitude, so it is the highest and most natural expression of Christian affection. I am not going to do what is so easy to do- bring tears at such a moment. I do not purpose to speak of the depth, the sacredness of the bond that unites a great many of us together. I think we can take that for granted without saying any more about it. But, dear brethren, I do want to pledge you and myself to this, that our solicitude and our affection should find voice in prayer, and that when we are parted we may be united, because the eyes of both are turned to the one Throne. There is a reality in prayer. Do you pray for me, as I will for you, when we are far apart. And as the vapour that rises from the southern seas where I go may fall in moisture, refreshing these northern lands, so what rises on one side of the world from believing hearts in loving prayers may fall upon the other in the rain of a divine blessing. ‘I commend you to God, and the word of His grace.’

IV. Lastly, notice the parting counsels involved in the commendation.

If it be true that God and His Word are the source of all security and enlightenment, and are so, apart altogether from human agencies, then to commend these brethren to God was exhortation as well as prayer, and implied pointing them to the one source of security that they might cling to that source. I am going to give no advices about little matters of church order and congregational prosperity. These will all come right, if the two main exhortations that are involved in this text are laid to heart; and if they are not laid to heart, then I do not care one rush about the smaller things, of full pews and prosperous subscription lists and Christian work. These are secondary, and they will be consequent if you take these two advices that are couched in my text:-

{a} ‘Cleave to the Lord with full purpose of heart,’ as the limpet does to the rock. Cling to Jesus Christ, the revelation of God’s grace. And how do we cling to Him? What is the cement of souls? Love and trust; and whoever exercises these in reference to Jesus Christ is built into Him, and belongs to Him, and has a vital unity knitting him with that Lord. Cleave to Christ, brother, by faith and love, by communion and prayer, and by practical conformity of life. For remember that the union which is effected by faith can be broken by sin, and that there will be no reality in our union to Jesus unless it is manifested and perpetuated by righteousness of conduct and character. Two smoothly-ground pieces of glass pressed together will adhere. If there be a speck of sand, microscopic in dimensions, between the two, they will fall apart; and if you let tiny grains of sin come between you and your Master, it is delusion to speak of being knit to Him by faith and love. Keep near Jesus Christ and you will be safe.

{b} Cleave to ‘the word of His grace.’ Try to understand its teachings better; study your Bibles with more earnestness; believe more fully than you have ever done that in that great Gospel there lie every truth that we need and guidance in all circumstances. Bring the principles of Christianity into your daily life; walk by the light of them; and live in the radiance of a present God. And then all these other matters which I have spoken of, which are important, highly important but secondary, will come right.

Many of you, dear brethren, have listened to my voice for long years, and have not done the one thing for which I preach-viz. set your faith, as sinful men, on the great atoning Sacrifice and Incarnate Lord. I beseech you let my last word go deeper than its predecessors, and yield yourselves to God in Christ, bringing all your weakness and all your sin to Him, and trusting yourselves wholly and utterly to His sacrifice and life.

‘I commend you to God and to the word of His grace,’ and beseech you ‘that, whether I come to see you or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel.’

1  Preached prior to a long absence in Australia.Acts 20:32. And now, brethren — Since the providence of God is calling me away, and appointing me other scenes of labour or suffering; I commend you to God — To his watchful providence and grace, for guidance, protection, support, preservation, and the supply of all your wants, ghostly and bodily; and to the word of his grace — That word which is the grand channel of his grace to believers as well as unbelievers. He recommends them to attend to this in their public ministrations and private conversation, and that, not only as the foundation of their hope here and hereafter, and the source of their joy, but as the rule of their doctrine and practice; I commend you to God as the master you are to serve, and to the word of his grace, as the means by which you are to know your work, and to govern your conduct; which is able to build you up — To confirm and increase your faith, love, and holiness. God can thus build us up without the ministry of his word, or the instrumentality of any teachers. But he does in fact build us up by them, and we must beware of supposing that we have less need of human teachers after we know Christ, and are made partakers of his salvation, than before. As the apostle was speaking here to ministers, he must be considered as signifying that, in preaching the word of God’s grace, and in all their ministerial duties, they were to have a regard to their own edification, as well as to that of those to and for whom they ministered. And to give you an inheritance — Of eternal glory; among them that are sanctified — And so made meet for it. A large number of these Paul, doubtless, knew and remembered before God. It seems that the words τω δυναμενω, who is able, refer to God, the last person named, and not the word by which God works, but which, without him, can affect none of the things here mentioned.20:28-38 If the Holy Ghost has made ministers overseers of the flock, that is, shepherds, they must be true to their trust. Let them consider their Master's concern for the flock committed to their charge. It is the church He has purchased with his own blood. The blood was his as Man; yet so close is the union between the Divine and human nature, that it is there called the blood of God, for it was the blood of Him who is God. This put such dignity and worth into it, as to ransom believers from all evil, and purchase all good. Paul spake about their souls with affection and concern. They were full of care what would become of them. Paul directs them to look up to God with faith, and commends them to the word of God's grace, not only as the foundation of their hope and the fountain of their joy, but as the rule of their walking. The most advanced Christians are capable of growing, and will find the word of grace help their growth. As those cannot be welcome guests to the holy God who are unsanctified; so heaven would be no heaven to them; but to all who are born again, and on whom the image of God is renewed, it is sure, as almighty power and eternal truth make it so. He recommends himself to them as an example of not caring as to things of the present world; this they would find help forward their comfortable passage through it. It might seem a hard saying, therefore Paul adds to it a saying of their Master's, which he would have them always remember; It is more blessed to give than to receive: it seems they were words often used to his disciples. The opinion of the children of this world, is contrary to this; they are afraid of giving, unless in hope of getting. Clear gain, is with them the most blessed thing that can be; but Christ tell us what is more blessed, more excellent. It makes us more like to God, who gives to all, and receives from none; and to the Lord Jesus, who went about doing good. This mind was in Christ Jesus, may it be in us also. It is good for friends, when they part, to part with prayer. Those who exhort and pray for one another, may have many weeping seasons and painful separations, but they will meet before the throne of God, to part no more. It was a comfort to all, that the presence of Christ both went with him and stayed with them.And now, brethren - About to leave them, probably to see them no more, he committed them to the faithful care and keeping of God Amidst all the dangers of the church, when human strength fails or is withdrawn, we may commit that church to the safe keeping and tender care of God.

I commend you - I commit you; I place you παρατίθεμαι paratithemai in his hands and under his protection. See the notes on Acts 14:23.

And to the word of his grace - That is, to his gracious word; to his merciful promise. Paul refers, doubtless, to the gospel, including its promises of support, its consoling truths, and its directions to seek all needful help and comfort in God.

Which is able - Which has power. Τῷ δυναμένῳ Tō dunamenō. Which word, or gospel, has power to build you up, Hebrews 4:12, "For the Word of God is quick (living, life-giving, ζῶν zōn), and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, etc." Compare Isaiah 49:2; Jeremiah 23:29, "Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?" It is implied here that the gospel is not a dead letter; that it has power to accomplish a great work; that it is adapted to the end in view, the conversion and sanctification of the soul. There is no danger in representing the gospel as mighty, and as suited by infinite wisdom to secure the renovation and salvation of man. Compare Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 10:4.

To build you up - The word used here is properly applied to a house which is raised and completed by slow degrees, and by toil. It here means to establish, make firm, or permanent, and hence, to instruct, to establish in doctrine and in hope. The idea is, that the Word of God was able to confirm and establish them, amidst the dangers to which they would be exposed.

And to give you an inheritance - To make you heirs, or to make you joint partakers with the saints of the blessings in reserve for the children of God. Those blessings are often represented as an inheritance, or heirship, which God will confer on his adopted children, Matthew 19:29; Matthew 25:34; Mark 10:17; Hebrews 6:12; Revelation 21:7; Ephesians 1:11; Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 1:12; Colossians 3:24; Romans 8:17; Galatians 3:29.

Among all them which are sanctified - With all who are holy; with an the saints. See the notes on John 10:36. Those who shall be saved are made holy. They who receive a part in the inheritance beyond the grave will have it only among the sanctified and the pure. They must, therefore, be pure themselves, or they can have no part in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

32-35. I commend you to God—the almighty Conservator of His people.

and to the word of his grace—that message of His pure grace (Ac 20:24) by the faith of which He keeps us (1Pe 1:5).

which—that is, God.

is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance, &c.—Observe how salvation—not only in its initial stages of pardon and regeneration, but in all its subsequent stages of "up-building," even to its consummation in the final inheritance—is here ascribed to the "ability" of God to bestow it, as in Ro 16:25; Eph 3:20; particularly Jude 24; and compare 2Ti 1:12, where the same thing is ascribed to Christ.

among all them which are sanctified—Sanctification is here viewed as the final character and condition of the heirs of glory, regarded as one saved company.

I commend you to God; it being so hard a matter to escape so many snares and dangers, the apostle prays to God for them, who is able to keep them by his power, through faith, unto salvation, 1 Peter 1:5; and it is in vain to look after any meaner defence.

The word of his grace; the gospel, which leads us to the rock upon which we must build, if we would not be moved when the storm comes.

Build you up; increasing the number of believers, and augmenting their graces. God is said to build, and so is his word, both concurring: the gospel builds, as a means appointed by God; and God builds, who blesses that means. Hence he is called the God of all grace, 1 Peter 5:10.

An inheritance; heaven is called an inheritance, because we have it only by adoption, and it is given only unto children, Romans 8:17; as also, because it is a firm and lasting possession, not for a term of years, or a certain time, but for ever and ever.

Which are sanctified; for without holiness none shall see God, Hebrews 12:14. And now brethren,.... So the apostle calls the elders of the church at Ephesus; though they had not the same gifts, and were not in the same high office as he was, yet he puts himself upon a level with them, as if he and they were fellow elders, as Peter calls himself, 1 Peter 5:1 which is an instance of the apostle's humility and affection:

I commend you to God; to God the Father; to his grace, to supply all their need; to his wisdom, to direct them in all their affairs; and to his power, to keep them from the sins and corruptions of the times, and from the errors and heresies now broaching, or to be broached.

And to the word of his grace: either the Gospel, before called the Gospel of the grace of God, Acts 20:24 This is sometimes called "the word", the word of faith, of truth, of righteousness, of reconciliation and salvation; and is "his" word, the word of God, and not of man; it comes from him, is concerning him, and is succeeded by him; and it is the word of "his grace", since it publishes his free grace and mercy in Christ Jesus, and declares salvation to, be wholly of the grace of God; to which this church is commended by the apostle as a rule of faith and practice, to attend unto, and abide by, and as a preservative from those errors and heresies which he had observed would spring up among them, and which would be for their instruction, comfort, and establishment: or else the Lord Jesus is intended, who is the eternal and essential word of God; who, as the word, inwardly conceived, is the image of the mind, equal to it, and yet distinct from it, so Christ is the image of the invisible God, equal to him, and yet a distinct person from him; and as the word expressed is the interpreter of the mind, so Christ the word, who was in the beginning with God, and lay in his bosom, has spoke all things from him, declared his mind, and explained his will: besides, he is the word who in the everlasting council and covenant spoke on the behalf of all his people, asked for every blessing for them, and engaged to be the surety of them; and is the word, who, in the beginning of time, spoke all things out of nothing; and now is the advocate, and speaks for the saints in heaven, as well as he has been the word spoken of by all the holy prophets from the beginning of the world: and he may be thought the rather to be designed, since the saints never commend themselves, or others, either in life, or in death, to any but to a divine person; nor is any but a divine person capable of taking the care and charge of the saints, and of making it good; nor will they trust any other; nor are the saints ever said to be committed or commended to the Gospel, but on the other hand, that is said to be committed to them: the written word is committed to the care and keeping of the saints, but not the saints to the care and keeping of that; nor does it appear so agreeable to put the written word upon a level with the divine Being; a commendation of the saints, equally to the written word, as to God himself, seems to be a lessening of the glory of the divine Being, and an ascribing too much to the word, but suits well with Christ the essential word: and who may be called the word of his grace, because the grace of God is greatly displayed in him; and because all fulness of grace dwells in him; and he is the author, donor, and object of all grace, and so a proper person to be commended to; and what follows is very applicable to him:

which is able to build you up: in faith and holiness, and on himself, the sure foundation; for though the Gospel is an instrument in the hands of the Spirit of God, in building up saints on their most holy faith, yet Christ is the master builder; it is he that builds the temple, the church, and every particular believer, and must bear the glory. The saints, though they are built on Christ the foundation, against which the gates of hell cannot prevail, and so are safe; yet they stand in need of building up, or of edification; and a church may be said to be built up, or edified, when additions are made unto it of such as shall be saved; and particular members are built up, when additions are made to their grace, or they grow in the exercise of it; when their spiritual strength increases, when their understandings are more enlightened, their judgments better informed, and their memories filled with divine truths and Gospel doctrines; when they are more and more confirmed in the faith of Christ, both as a grace, and as a doctrine; and their wills are brought to a greater resignation to the will of God, as well as their afflictions are set upon things in heaven, and their souls are more seeking after them: and now this is what God is able to do, and does do; for except he builds, in vain do the builders build; he causes all grace to abound; and so does his word, his essential word; he is the author and finisher of faith, and gives both grace and glory, as it follows:

and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified: by the inheritance is meant the heavenly glory, which is a free grace gift and not obtained by the works of the law, or the industry of men. It is a distribution by lot, as the land of Canaan was, even by the lot of God's eternal purpose and decree: it is what belongs to children, to the children of God, and them only; and therefore bears this name, and comes unto them upon, and in consequence of the death of Christ the testator: it is his righteousness which entitles unto it; and it is the grace of God which makes meet for it; and the Spirit of God is the earnest of it: it is an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in the heavens, and is an eternal one; it lies in light, and among the saints there. God is able to give it; it is a gift of his grace, of his sovereign will, which he gives to whom he pleases; it is an inheritance of his preparing and disposing, which he calls unto, makes meet for, and bestows: and Christ, the word of his grace, is able to give it; it is in his hands, not only the promise of it, but that itself; he is in possession of it, and it is in his power to give it; and he does give it to all that the Father has given him, and who are here described from their sanctification; for this is only enjoyed by such, who are set apart by God the Father, whose sins are expiated by the blood of Christ, and to whom he is made sanctification, and who are sanctified by the blessed Spirit. Now though the Gospel, the written word, may be as a map, which shows where this inheritance lies, and which is the way to it; yet it is Christ, the living word, who gives the right unto it, the meetness for it, the earnest of it, and will put into the possession of it.

{10} And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an {l} inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

(10) The power of God, and his free promises revealed in his word, are the props and upholders of the ministry of the Gospel.

(l) As children, and therefore an inheritance of free love and good will.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 20:32. And now I commend you to God (Acts 14:23) and to the word of His grace (Acts 20:24),—entrust you to Him to protect and bless you, and to the gospel to be the rule of your whole conduct,—to Him who is able to build up (to promote the Christian life), and to give you inheritance (a share in the Messianic blessedness) among all who are sanctified (consecrated to God by faith).

τῷ δυναμένῳ] is, with the Vulgate, Luther, Beza, Calvin, Grotius, Wolf, Bengel, de Wette, and others, to be referred to God; so that a very natural hyperbaton occurs, according to which καὶ τῷ λόγῳ τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ appears as an inserted annexation to the general and main element τῷ Θεῷ of an accessory idea, which was not to be separated from τῷ Θεῷ, but which also does not prevent the continuance of the address by a more precise description of τῷ Θεῷ bearing on its object. Comp. Bernhardy, p. 459. We should, in reading, lay the emphasis on τῷ Θεῷ, and pass on more quickly over καὶ τῷ λόγῳαὐτοῦ. Others refer τῷ δυναμ. to τῷ λόγῳ, and understand the λόγος either correctly of the doctrine (Erasmus, Heinrichs, Kuinoel, Lange, and others), or erroneously (opposed to Luke’s and Paul’s mode of conception) of the personal (Johannean) Logos (Gomarus, Witsius, Amelot). But such a personification of the saving doctrine (Jam 1:21), according to which even the δοῦναι κληρονομίαν (evidently an act of God!) is assigned to it, is without scriptural analogy. Comp. Colossians 1:12 f.; Galatians 4:7; Luke 12:32.

As to κληρονομία, transferred from the allotted share in the possession of Palestine (נַחֲלָה) to the share of possession in the Messianic kingdom, see on Matthew 5:5; Galatians 3:18; Ephesians 1:11. On ἐν τ. ἡγιασμ., comp. Acts 26:18; Ephesians 1:18.Acts 20:32. καὶ τὰ νῦν, see above on Acts 4:29.—παρατίθ., cf. Acts 14:23.—τῷ λόγῳ τῆς χ. αὐτοῦ: as in the fourth Gospel, John 1:14-17, so here and in the Epistle to the Ephesians, we find great stress laid on χάρις, but we cannot conclude with Stier and others that in the word λόγος we have any reference here to the Word of St. John’s Gospel, although the similarity between St. John’s doctrine of the Word and St. Paul’s conception of our Lord’s Person is very close elsewhere; the thought here is however closely akin to that of St.Jam 1:21 (Hebrews 4:12). In his earliest Epistle the Apostle had spoken of the Word, 1 Thessalonians 2:13, ὅς καὶ ἐνεργεῖται ἐν ὑμῖν. The Word here is able to build up and to give, etc., which certainly seems to ascribe to it a quasi-personal character, even more so than in 2 Timothy 3:15, where the Apostle uses a somewhat similar phrase of the O.T. Scriptures, τὰ δυνάμενά (the same verb as here) σε σοφίσαι εἰς σωτηρίαν κ.τ.λ. The same phrase as here occurs in Acts 14:3, which points to its derivation from one imbued with Paul’s words and habits of thought, if not from the Apostle himself (Alford). Weiss and others refer τῷ δυν. to τῷ Θεῷ (Κυρίῳ, see critical note), cf. Romans 16:25, Ephesians 3:20, Galatians 3:21, on the ground that although ἐποικοδομῆσαι (οἰκοδ.) may refer to λόγος, yet the λόγος cannot be said δοῦναι κληρ. To the latter phrase Bethge, p. 158, strives to find some Scriptural analogies in the work attributed to ὁ λόγος, cf. 1 Corinthians 1:18, John 12:48. But it is best and simplest on the whole to regard the entire phrase τῷ Θ. καὶ τῷ λ. as one, “quasi una notio sunt; agit enim Deus per verbum suum,” Blass; so Page.—ἐποικοδ., Ephesians 2:20, in the passive, see critical note. Whether we read the compound or the simple verb, the metaphor of building is prominent in Ephesians 2:21; Ephesians 4:12; Ephesians 4:16; Ephesians 4:29, as also in 1 Cor., cf. 1 Corinthians 3:10 (2), 1 Corinthians 3:2; 1 Corinthians 3:14; 1 Corinthians 3:9; 1 Corinthians 14:3; 1 Corinthians 14:5; 1 Corinthians 14:12; 1 Corinthians 14:26, and cf. 2 Corinthians 5:1; 2 Corinthians 10:8; 2 Corinthians 12:19; 2 Corinthians 13:10. See note above on Acts 9:31. τὴν κληρ., Acts 7:5, see note; nowhere else in Acts, cf. for the thought Ephesians 3:18; Ephesians 1:11; and words elsewhere spoken by St. Paul, Acts 26:18; the word itself occurs three times in Ephesians 1:14; Ephesians 1:18; Ephesians 5:5. In Ephesians 3:18 we have closely conjoined with κληρ. the ἡ βασιλ. τοῦ χ., cf. St. Paul’s words Acts 20:25 above. The word is frequent in Psalms of Solomon, cf. Acts 14:6-7, where the inheritance of the saints is contrasted with the inheritance of sinners in the Messianic consummation, and also Acts 15:11-12, Acts 17:26; see further on the word, Kennedy, p. 100.32. And now, brethren, I commend … his grace] The oldest authorities omit “brethren.” I am to leave you, but I commend you to One who will help you as He has helped me, and who will not leave you. “The word of His grace” means the gracious promises of the Gospel, such as those which Christ gave to His disciples when He foretold the mission of the Comforter (John 17:7-12), and which the Christian preachers might repeat as His words to the converts who believed on His name.

which, &c.] This must refer to God, and not to the intervening explanatory clause concerning the “word of God’s grace.” It is God who can build up His people, and give them their heavenly inheritance.

and to give you an inheritance] The oldest texts give “the inheritance.” The figure is taken from the apportionment of the promised land among the Israelites. The part of each of God’s servants in the heavenly Canaan is to be regarded as definitely as were the possessions of the chosen people in the earthly Canaan.

among … sanctified] The tense is literally “that have been sanctified.” But just as the Apostle uses “saints” frequently in his Epistles to mean those who have been called to be such, so here his words do not indicate that those of whom he speaks have attained the perfection of holiness. When they reach their inheritance, then they will have been perfected in Christ.Acts 20:32. Τῷ λόγῳ τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ, to the word of His grace) A description of the Gospel occurs in Acts 20:24.—τῷ δυναμένῳ, who is able) [not as Engl. Vers. which is able]. Refer the words to God, τῷ Θεῷ. Often the power of GOD is appealed to; for concerning the Father’s willingness believers are sure: They shall have experience of His power. Men who are saints desire it; GOD is able. Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:10; Jude Acts 20:24; 2 Timothy 1:12.—ἐποικοδομῆσαι, to build you up) GOD, by Paul, had built them in the faith: God also, (even) without Paul, could build them up additionally [the ἐπὶ implying additional edification, or building up].—δοῦναι, give) The end of faith.—ἐν, among or in) Implying the communion of the saints: 2 Thessalonians 2:1.—ἡγιασμένοις, those who are sanctified) So believers from among the Gentiles are called, not excluding Jewish believers, ch Acts 26:18. On this account the expression used is ἐν in or among, not σὐν, with, so that the Ephesians may be included. In the same sense they are termed κλητοὶ ἅγιοι, called saints, Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2. Moreover, believing Jews, not to the exclusion of the Gentiles, are termed ἅγιοι, saints (holy or dedicated to the Lord) peculiarly: Romans 15:25-26; Romans 15:31; 1 Corinthians 16:1; 1 Corinthians 16:15; Ephesians 2:19; Ephesians 3:8; 2 Thessalonians 1:10; Psalm 148:14. See Romans 11:16.—πᾶσιν, all) Paul had a very great knowledge and remembrance of these. He therefore embraces (comprises) all.Verse 32. - Now for now brethren, A.V. and T.R.; the inheritance for an inheritance, A.V. and T.R.; that for which, A.V. I commend you to God (παρατίθεμαι ὑμᾶς). A most beautiful and significant phrase! The apostle is leaving for ever the flock which he had fed with such devoted care and loved with such a fervent love. He was leaving them with a strong impression of the dangers to which they would be exposed. To whom could he entrust them? to what loving hands could he consign them? He gives them to God, to take watchful custody of them. He brings them to him in the prayer of faith. He commits to him the precious deposit (παραθήκη), to be preserved safe unto the day of Christ. So the Savior of the world, when dying on the cross, said, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit "(Luke 23:46), and then trustingly gave up the ghost (see too Acts 14:23). No less beautiful are the words which follow: And to the word of his grace. He was thinking of the grievous wolves, and of their pernicious doctrine; of the deceivers that should arise, and their soul-destroying heresies; and so he turns to the one source of safety "the Word of God's grace in Jesus Christ." If they are kept in that Word of truth, if they nourish their souls with that sincere milk, they will be safe. The gospel which he had preached would be their safety unto the end. It would build them up on the one Foundation which never can be moved; it would preserve them holy to take possession of the inheritance of the saints in light. The inheritance (τὴν κληρονομίαν); comp. Ephesians 1:14, 18; Ephesians 5:5; and Ephesians 1:11, ἐκληρώθημεν. In Acts 26:18 it is κλῆρον (as in Colossians 1:12), and the ἡγιασμένοι are further defined by the addition of πίστει,  ῞τῇ εἰς ἐμέ, "by the faith which is in me" (for the use of ἀγιάζεσθαι, comp. Hebrews 10:10, 14; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 1 Corinthians 6:11, etc.). Icommend

See on 1 Peter 4:19.

Build you up

A metaphor in constant use by Paul, and preserved in the words edify, edification (Latin, aedes, "a house," and facere, "to make") by which οἰκοδομέω and its kindred words are frequently rendered. In old English the word edify was used in its original sense of build. Thus Wycliffe renders Genesis 2:22, "The Lord God edified the rib which he took of Adam, into a woman."

So, too, Spenser:

"a little wide

There was a holy temple edified."

Faerie Queene, i., 1, 114.

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