Acts 26:18
To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
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(18) From darkness to light.—The words gain a fresh interest if we think of them as corresponding with the Apostle’s own recovery from blindness. The imagery, though naturally common throughout Scripture, taking its place among the earliest and most widely received of the parables of the spiritual life, was specially characteristic of St. Paul. (Comp. Romans 13:12; 2Corinthians 4:6; Ephesians 5:8-13; Colossians 1:12; 1Thessalonians 5:5.)

Among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.—Better, have been sanctified; the Greek participle being in the perfect. The word, as always, expresses primarily the idea of a completed consecration rather than of a perfected holiness (Hebrews 9:13; Hebrews 10:10; Hebrews 13:12); but the one thought passes naturally into the other. The last six words may be connected grammatically either with “sanctified” or with “receive.” On internal grounds the latter is, perhaps, the best construction. Faith, i.e., is theoretically connected with “forgiveness of sins,” as well as with the “inheritance,” which implies sanctification.



Acts 26:18

It is commonly said, and so far as the fact is concerned, said truly, that what are called the distinguishing doctrines of Christianity are rather found in the Epistles than in the Gospels. If we wish the clearest statements of the nature and person of Christ, we turn to Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians. If we wish the fullest dissertation upon Christ’s work as a sacrifice, we go to the Epistle to the Hebrews. If we seek to prove that men are justified by faith, and not by works, it is to the Epistles to Romans and Galatians that we betake ourselves,-to the writings of the servant rather than the words of the Master. Now this fuller development of Christian doctrine contained in the teaching of the Apostles cannot be denied, and need not be wondered at. The reasons for it I am not going to enter upon at present; they are not far to seek. Christ came not to speak the Gospel, but to be the Gospel. But then, this truth of a fuller development is often over-strained, as if Christ ‘spake nothing concerning priesthood,’ sacrifices, faith. He did so speak when on earth. It is often misused by being made the foundation of an inference unfavourable to the authority of the Apostolic teaching, when we are told, as we sometimes are, that not Paul but Jesus speaks the words which we are to receive.

Here we have Christ Himself speaking from the heavens to Paul at the very beginning of the Apostle’s course, and if any one asks us where did Paul get the doctrines which he preached, the answer is, Here, on the road to Damascus, when blind, bleeding, stunned, with all his self-confidence driven out of him-with all that he had been crushed into shivers-he saw his Lord, and heard Him speak. These words spoken then are the germ of all Paul’s Epistles, the keynote to which all his writings are but the melody that follows, the mighty voice of which all his teaching is but the prolonged echo. ‘Delivering thee,’ says Christ to him, ‘from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God; that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith that is in Me.’ Now, I ask you, what of Paul’s Gospel is not here? Man’s ruin, man’s depravity and state of darkness, the power of Satan, the sole redemptive work of Christ, justification by belief in that, sanctification coming with justification, and glory and rest and heaven at last-there they all are in the very first words that sounded upon the quickened ear of the blinded man when he turned from darkness to light.

It would be foolish, of course, to try to exhaust such a passage as this in a sermon. But notice, what a complete summary of Christian truth there lies in that one last clause of the verse, ‘Inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me.’ Translate that into distinct propositions, and they are these: Faith refers to Christ; that is the first thing. Holiness depends on faith; that is the next: ‘sanctified by faith.’ Heaven depends on holiness: that is the last: ‘inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me.’ So there we have the whole gospel!

To the one part of this comprehensive summary which is contained in my text I desire to turn now, in hope of gathering from it some truths as to that familiar word ‘faith’ which may be of use to us all. The expression is so often on our lips that it has come to be almost meaningless in many minds. These keywords of Scripture meet the same fate as do coins that have been long in circulation. They pass through so many fingers that the inscriptions get worn off them. We can all talk about faith and forgiveness and justifying and sanctifying, but how few of us have definite notions as to what these words that come so easily from our lips mean! There is a vast deal of cloudy haze in the minds of average church and chapel goers as to what this wonder-working faith may really be. Perhaps we may then be able to see large and needful truths gleaming in these weighty syllables which Christ Jesus spoke from heaven to Paul, ‘faith that is in Me.’

I. In the first place, then, the object of faith is Christ.

‘Faith that is in Me’ is that which is directed towards Christ as its object. Christianity is not merely a system of truths about God, nor a code of morality deducible from these. In its character of a revelation, it is the revelation of God in the person of His Son. Christianity in the soul is not the belief of these truths about God, still less the acceptance and practice of these pure ethics, but the affiance and the confidence of the whole spirit fixed upon the redeeming, revealing Christ,

True, the object of our faith is Christ as made known to us in the facts of His recorded life and the teaching of His Apostles. True, our only means of knowing Him as of any other person whom we have never seen, are the descriptions of Him, His character and work, which are given. True, the empty name ‘Christ’ has to be filled with the doctrinal and biographical statements of Scripture before the Person on whom faith is to fix can be apprehended or beheld. True, it is Christ as He is made known to us in the word of God, the Incarnate Son, the perfect Man, the atoning Sacrifice, the risen Lord, the ascended Intercessor in whom we have to trust. The characteristics and attributes of Christ are known to us only by biographical statements and by doctrinal propositions. These must be understood in some measure and accepted, ere there can be faith in Him. Apart from them, the image of Christ must stand a pale, colourless phantom before the mind, and the faith which is directed towards such a nebula will be an unintelligent emotion, as nebulous and impotent as the vagueness towards which it turns.

Thus far, then, the attempt which is sometimes made to establish a Christianity without doctrines on the plea that the object of faith is not a proposition, but a person, must be regarded as nugatory; for how can the ‘person’ be an object of thought at all, but through the despised ‘propositions’?

But while on the one hand it is true that Christ as revealed in these doctrinal statements of Scripture, the divine human Saviour, is the Object of faith, on the other hand it is to be remembered that it is He, and not the statements about Him, who is the Object.

Look at His own words. He does not merely say to us, ‘Believe this, that, and the other thing about Me; put your credence in this and the other doctrine; accept this and the other promise; hope for this and the other future thing.’ All these come with but are not the central act. He says, ‘Believe: believe in Me! “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life”: He that cometh to Me shall never hunger, and he that believeth in Me shall never thirst.’ Do we rightly appreciate that? I think that if people firmly grasped this truth- that Christ is the Gospel, and that the Object of faith is not simply the truths that are recorded here in the word, but He with regard to whom these truths are recorded-it would clear away rolling wreaths of fog and mist from their perceptions. The whole feeling and attitude of a man’s mind is different, according as he is trusting a person, or according as he is believing something about a person. And this, therefore, is the first broad truth that lies here. Faith has reference not merely to a doctrine, not to a system; but deeper than all these, to a living Lord-’faith that is in Me.’

I cannot help observing, before I go on-though it may be somewhat of a digression-what a strong inference with regard to the divinity of Christ is deducible from this first thought that He is the Object to whom faith has reference. If you look into the Old Testament, you will find constantly, ‘Trust ye in the Lord for ever’; ‘Put thy trust in Jehovah!’ There, too, though under the form of the Law, there, too, faith was the seed and germ of all religion. There, too, though under the hard husk of apparently external obedience and ceremonial sacrifices, the just lived by faith. Its object was the Jehovah of that ancient covenant. Religion has always been the same in every dispensation. At every time, that which made a man a devout man has been identically the same thing. It has always been true that it has been faith which has bound man to God, and given man hope. But when we come to the New Testament, the centre is shifted, as it would seem. What has become of the grand old words, ‘Trust ye in the Lord Jehovah’? Look! Christ stands there, and says, ‘Believe upon Me’! With calm, simple, profound dignity, He lays His hand upon all the ancient and consecrated words, upon all the ancient and hallowed emotions that used to set towards the unseen God between the cherubim, throned above judgment and resting upon mercy; and He says, ‘They are Mine-give them to Me! That ancient trust, I claim the right to have it. That old obedience, it belongs to Me. I am He to whom in all time the loving hearts of them that loved God, have set. I am the Angel of the Covenant, in whom whoever trusteth shall never be confounded.’ And I ask you just to take that one simple fact, that Christ thus steps, in the New Testament-in so far as the direction of the religious emotions of faith and love are concerned-that Christ steps into the place filled by the Jehovah of the Old; and ask yourselves honestly what theory of Christ’s nature and person and work explains that fact, and saves Him from the charge of folly and blasphemy? ‘He that believeth upon Me shall never hunger.’ Ah, my brother! He was no mere man who said that. He that spake from out of the cloud to the Apostle on the road to Damascus, and said, ‘Sanctified by faith that is in Me,’ was no mere man. Christ was our brother and a man, but He was the Son of God, the divine Redeemer. The Object of faith is Christ; and as Object of faith He must needs be divine.

II. And now, secondly, closely connected with and springing from this thought as to the true object of faith, arises the consideration as to the nature and the essence of the act of faith itself.

Whom we are to trust in we have seen: what it is to have faith may be very briefly stated. If the Object of faith were certain truths, the assent of the understanding would be enough. If the Object of faith were unseen things, the confident persuasion of them would be sufficient. If the Object of faith were promises of future good, the hope rising to certainty of the possession of these would be sufficient. But if the Object be more than truths, more than unseen realities, more than promises; if the Object be a living Person,-then there follows inevitably this, that faith is not merely the assent of the understanding, that faith is not merely the persuasion of the reality of unseen things, that faith is not merely the confident expectation of future good; but that faith is the personal relation of him who has it to the living Person its Object, -the relation which is expressed not more clearly, perhaps a little more forcibly to us, by substituting another word, and saying, Faith is trust.

And I think that there again, by laying hold of that simple principle, Because Christ is the Object of Faith, therefore Faith must be trust, we get bright and beautiful light upon the grandest truths of the Gospel of God. If we will only take that as our explanation, we have not indeed defined faith by substituting the other word for it, but we have made it a little more clear to our apprehensions, by using a non-theological word with which our daily acts teach us to connect an intelligible meaning. If we will only take that as our explanation, how simple, how grand, how familiar too it sounds,-to trust Him! It is the very same kind of feeling, though different in degree, and glorified by the majesty and glory of its Object, as that which we all know how to put forth in our relations with one another. We trust each other. That is faith. We have confidence in the love that has been around us, breathing benedictions and bringing blessings ever since we were little children. When the child looks up into the mother’s face, the symbol to it of all protection, or into the father’s eye, the symbol to it of all authority,-that emotion by which the little one hangs upon the loving hand and trusts the loving heart that towers above it in order to bend over it and scatter good, is the same as the one which, glorified and made divine, rises strong and immortal in its power, when fixed and fastened on Christ, and saves the soul. The Gospel rests upon a mystery, but the practical part of it is no mystery. When we come and preach to you, ‘Trust in Christ and thou shalt be saved,’ we are not asking you to put into exercise some mysterious power. We are only asking you to give to Him that which you give to others, to transfer the old emotions, the blessed emotions, the exercise of which makes gladness in life here below, to transfer them to Him, and to rest safe in the Lord. Faith is trust. The living Person as its Object rises before us there, in His majesty, in His power, in His gentleness, and He says, ‘I shall be contented if thou wilt give to Me these emotions which thou dost fix now, to thy death and loss, on the creatures of a day.’ Faith is mighty, divine, the gift of God; but Oh! it is the exercise of a familiar habit, only fixed upon a divine and eternal Person.

And if this be the very heart and kernel of the Christian doctrine of faith-that it is simple personal trust in Jesus Christ; it is worthy of notice, how all the subsidiary meanings and uses of the word flow out of that, whilst it cannot be explained by any of them. People are in the habit of setting up antitheses betwixt faith and reason, betwixt faith and sight, betwixt faith and possession. They say, ‘We do not know, we must believe’; they say, ‘We do not see, we must have faith’; they say, ‘We do not possess, we must trust.’ Now faith-the trust in Christ-the simple personal relation of confidence in Him-that lies beneath all these other meanings of the word. For instance, faith is, in one sense, the opposite and antithesis of sight; because Christ, unseen, having gone into the unseen world, the confidence which is directed towards Him must needs pass out beyond the region of sense, and fix upon the immortal verities that are veiled by excess of light at God’s right hand. Faith is the opposite of sight; inasmuch as Christ, having given us assurance of an unseen and everlasting world, we, trusting in Him, believe what He says to us, and are persuaded and know that there are things yonder which we have never seen with the eye nor handled with the hand. Similarly, faith is the completion of reason; because, trusting Christ, we believe what He says, and He has spoken to us truths which we in ourselves are unable to discover, but which, when revealed, we accept on the faith of His truthfulness, and because we rely upon Him. Similarly, faith is contrasted with present possession, because Christ has promised us future blessings and future glories; and having confidence in the Person, we believe what He says, and know that we shall possess them. But the root from which spring the power of faith as the opposite of sight, the power of faith as the telescope of reason, the power of faith as the ‘confidence of things not possessed,’ is the deeper thing-faith in the Person, which leads us to believe Him whether He promises, reveals, or commands, and to take His words as verity because He is ‘the Truth.’

And then, again, if this, the personal trust in Christ as our living Redeemer-if this be faith, then there come also, closely connected with it, certain other emotions or feelings in the heart. For instance, if I am trusting to Christ, there is inseparably linked with it self-distrust. There are two sides to the emotion; where there is reliance upon another, there must needs be non-reliance upon self. Take an illustration. There is the tree: the trunk goes upward from the little seed, rises into the light, gets the sunshine upon it, and has leaves and fruit. That is the upward tendency of faith- trust in Christ. There is the root, down deep, buried, dark, unseen. Both are springing, but springing in apposite directions, from the one seed. That is, as it were, the negative side, the downward tendency-self-distrust. The two things go together-the positive reliance upon another, the negative distrust of myself. There must be deep consciousness not only of my own impotence, but of my own sinfulness. The heart must be emptied that the seed of faith may grow; but the entrance in of faith is itself the means for the emptying of the heart. The two things co-exist; we can divide them in thought. We can wrangle and squabble, as divided sects hare done, about which comes first, the fact being, that though you can part them in thought, you cannot part them in experience, inasmuch as they are but the obverse and the reverse, the two sides of the same coin. Faith and repentance-faith and self-distrust-they are done in one and the same indissoluble act.

And again, faith, as thus conceived of, will obviously have for its certain and immediate consequence, love. Nay, the two emotions will be inseparable and practically co-existent. In thought we can separate them. Logically, faith comes first, and love next, but in life they will spring up together. The question of their order of existence is an often-trod battle-ground of theology, all strewed with the relics of former fights. But in the real history of the growth of religious emotions in the soul, the interval which separates them is impalpable, and in every act of trust, love is present, and fundamental to every emotion of love to Christ is trust in Christ.

But without further reference to such matters, here is the broad principle of our text. Trust in Christ, not mere assent to a principle, personal dependence upon Him revealed as the ‘Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world,’ an act of the will as well as of the understanding, and essentially an act of the will and not of the understanding-that is the thing by which a soul is saved. And much of the mist and confusion about saving faith, and non-saving faith, might be lifted and dispersed if we once fully apprehended and firmly held by the divine simplicity of the truth, that faith is trust in Jesus Christ.

III. Once more: from this general definition there follows, in the third place, an explanation of the power of faith.

‘We are justified,’ says the Bible, ‘by faith.’ If a man believes, he is saved. Why so? Not, as some people sometimes seem to fancy, as if in faith itself there was any merit. There is a very strange and subtle resurrection of the whole doctrine of works in reference to this matter; and we often hear belief in the Gospel of Christ spoken about as if it, the work of the man believing, was, in a certain way and to some extent, that which God rewarded by giving him salvation. What is that but the whole doctrine of works come up again in a new form? What difference is there between what a man does with his hands and what a man feels in his heart? If the one merit salvation, or if the other merit salvation, equally we are shut up to this,-Men get heaven by what they do; and it does not matter a bit what they do it with, whether it be body or soul. When we say we are saved by faith, we mean accurately, through faith. It is God that saves. It is Christ’s life, Christ’s blood, Christ’s sacrifice, Christ’s intercession, that saves. Faith is simply the channel through which there flows over into my emptiness the divine fulness; or, to use the good old illustration, it is the hand which is held up to receive the benefit which Christ lays in it. A living trust in Jesus has power unto salvation, only because it is the means by which ‘the power of God unto salvation’ may come into my heart. On one side is the great ocean of Christ’s love, Christ’s abundance, Christ’s merits, Christ’s righteousness; or, rather, there is the great ocean of Christ Himself, which includes them all; and on the other is the empty vessel of my soul-and the little narrow pipe that has nothing to do but to bring across the refreshing water, is the act of faith in Him. There is no merit in the dead lead, no virtue in the mere emotion. It is not faith that saves us; it is Christ that saves us, and saves us through faith.

And now, lastly, these principles likewise help us to understand wherein consists the guilt and criminality of unbelief. People are sometimes disposed to fancy that God has arbitrarily selected this one thing, believing in Jesus Christ, as the means of salvation, and do not distinctly see why and how non-belief is so desperate and criminal a thing. I think that the principles that I have been trying feebly to work out now, help us to see how faith is not arbitrarily selected as the instrument and means of our salvation. There is no other way of effecting it. God could not save us in any other way than that, salvation being provided, the condition of receiving it should be trust in His Son.

And next they show where the guilt of unbelief lies. Faith is not first and principally an act of the understanding; it is not the mere assent to certain truths. I believe, for my part, that men are responsible even for their intellectual processes, and for the beliefs at which they arrive by the working of these; and I think it is a very shallow philosophy that stands up and says-{it is almost exploded now, and perhaps not needful even to mention it}-that men are ‘no more responsible for their belief than they are for the colour of their hair.’ Why, if faith were no more than an intellectual process, it would still be true that they are responsible for it; but the faith that saves a man, and unbelief that ruins a man, are not processes of the understanding alone. It is the will, the heart, the whole moral being, that is concerned. Why does any one not trust Jesus Christ? For one reason only: because he will not. Why has any one not faith in the Lamb of God? Because his whole nature is turning away from that divine and loving Face, and is setting itself in rebellion against it. Why does any one refuse to believe? Because he has confidence in himself; because he has not a sense of his sins; because he has not love in his heart to his Lord and Saviour. Men are responsible for unbelief. Unbelief is criminal, because it is a moral act-an act of the whole nature. Belief or unbelief is the test of a man’s whole spiritual condition, just because it is the whole being, affections, will, conscience and all, as well as the understanding, which are concerned in it. And therefore Christ, who says, ‘Sanctified by faith that is in Me,’ says likewise, ‘He that believeth not, shall be condemned.’

And now, brethren, take this one conviction into your hearts, that what makes a man a Christian-what saves my soul and yours-what brings the love of Christ into any life, and makes the sacrifice of Christ a power to pardon and purify,-that that is not merely believing this Book, not merely understanding the doctrines that are there, but a far more profound act than that. It is the casting of myself upon Himself, the bending of my willing heart to His loving Spirit; the close contact, heart to heart, soul to soul, will to will, of my emptiness with His fulness, of my sinfulness with His righteousness, of my death with His life: that I may live by Him, be sanctified by Him, be saved by Him, ‘with an everlasting salvation.’ Faith is trust: Christ is the Objeet of faith. Faith is the condition of salvation; and unbelief is your fault, your loss-the crime which ruins men’s souls!26:12-23 Paul was made a Christian by Divine power; by a revelation of Christ both to him and in him; when in the full career of his sin. He was made a minister by Divine authority: the same Jesus who appeared to him in that glorious light, ordered him to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. A world that sits in darkness must be enlightened; those must be brought to know the things that belong to their everlasting peace, who are yet ignorant of them. A world that lies in wickedness must be sanctified and reformed; it is not enough for them to have their eyes opened, they must have their hearts renewed; not enough to be turned from darkness to light, but they must be turned from the power of Satan unto God. All who are turned from sin to God, are not only pardoned, but have a grant of a rich inheritance. The forgiveness of sins makes way for this. None can be happy who are not holy; and to be saints in heaven we must be first saints on earth. We are made holy, and saved by faith in Christ; by which we rely upon Christ as the Lord our Righteousness, and give up ourselves to him as the Lord our Ruler; by this we receive the remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and eternal life. The cross of Christ was a stumbling-block to the Jews, and they were in a rage at Paul's preaching the fulfilling of the Old Testament predictions. Christ should be the first that should rise from the dead; the Head or principal One. Also, it was foretold by the prophets, that the Gentiles should be brought to the knowledge of God by the Messiah; and what in this could the Jews justly be displeased at? Thus the true convert can give a reason of his hope, and a good account of the change manifest in him. Yet for going about and calling on men thus to repent and to be converted, vast numbers have been blamed and persecuted.To open their eyes - To enlighten or instruct them. Ignorance is represented by the eyes being closed, and the instruction of the gospel by the opening of the eyes. See Ephesians 1:18.

And to turn them from darkness to light - From the darkness of paganism and sin to the light and purity of the gospel. Darkness is an emblem of ignorance and of sin, and the pagan nations are often represented as sitting in darkness. Compare the Matthew 4:16 note; John 1:4-5 notes.

And from the power of Satan - From the dominion of Satan. Compare Colossians 1:13; 1 Peter 2:9. See the notes on John 12:31; John 16:11. Satan is thus represented as the prince of this world, the ruler of the darkness of this world, the prince of the power of the air, etc. The pagan world, lying in sin and superstition, is represented as under his control; and this passage teaches, doubtless, that the great mass of the people of this world are the subjects of the kingdom of Satan, and are led captive by him at his will.

Unto God - To the obedience of the one living and true God.

That they may receive forgiveness of sins - Through the merits of that Saviour who died - that thus the partition wall between the Jews and the Gentiles might be broken down, and all might be admitted to the same precious privileges of the favor and mercy of God. Compare the notes on Acts 2:38.

And inheritance - An heirship, or lot κλῆρον klēron: that they might be entitled to the privileges and favors of the children of God. See the notes on Acts 20:32.

Which are sanctified - Among the saints; the children of God. See the notes on Acts 20:32.

18. To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light—rather, "that they may turn" (as in Ac 26:20), that is, as the effect of their eyes being opened. The whole passage leans upon Isa 61:1 (Lu 4:18).

and from the power of Satan—Note the connection here between being "turned from darkness" and "from the power of Satan," whose whole power over men lies in keeping them in the dark: hence he is called "the ruler of the darkness of this world." See on [2120]2Co 4:4.

that they may receive forgiveness … and inheritance among the sanctified by faith that is in me—Note: Faith is here made the instrument of salvation at once in its first stage, forgiveness, and its last, admission to the home of the sanctified; and the faith which introduces the soul to all this is emphatically declared by the glorified Redeemer to rest upon Himself—"FAITH, even THAT WHICH IS IN Me." And who that believes this can refrain from casting his crown before Him or resist offering Him supreme worship?

To open their eyes; the eyes of their minds, that they might know God, and their duty towards him. Our Saviour assures Paul, that he should do that for the souls of men which he should find effected in his own body, being made to see. Now though this be only the work of God, yet, to honour the ministry, he is pleased to attribute it unto his ministers, as being the instruments he ordinarily worketh it by; and who are hence called co-workers with God, 2 Corinthians 6:1.

To turn them from darkness to light; this was signified by the glorious light which came from the body of our glorified Redeemer, which appeared unto him.

The power of Satan; so are all sins, for by them Satan rules in the children of disobedience, Ephesians 2:2.

That they may receive forgiveness of sins; thereby intimating, that their former sins (how grievous soever) should not hinder their salvation, who received the gospel in the love and power of it.

By faith that is in me; by faith which purifieth the heart; but this may be referred, either to our being sanctified, or to our receiving of the inheritance, for both are by faith; and as without faith we are no better, and do no better, so we shall receive no better, than other men. To open their eyes,.... The eyes of their understanding, which were shut, and darkened, and blind: one copy reads, "the eyes of the blind"; and the Ethiopic version renders it, "the eyes of their heart"; and to have them opened, is to have them enlightened, to see their lost state and condition by nature, the exceeding sinfulness of sin, the plague of their own hearts, the impurity of nature, the impotence of man to that which is spiritually good, the imperfection of obedience, and the insufficiency of a man's righteousness to justify him before God; and to see where help is laid, and where salvation is; to behold Christ as the only able, willing, complete, and suitable Saviour; to see that there is life and righteousness, peace, pardon, grace, and glory in him; and to have an insight into the doctrines of the Gospel, and a glimpse of the invisible things of another world. Now though this is all the work of the Spirit, by whom only the eyes of the understanding are enlightened; yet this is ascribed to the apostle, not as the efficient cause, but as the instrument and means through preaching of the Gospel, which the Spirit of God would, and did make use of:

and to turn them from darkness to light; or "that they might be turned", as the Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions render it: by "darkness" is meant, the darkness of nature, the darkness of sin, of ignorance, and unbelief, in which all men by nature are; who are in the dark about, and are ignorant of God, and the perfections of his nature; and about sin, and the evil there is in it, and that comes by it; and the way of peace, righteousness, and salvation by Christ; and the work of the spirit in regeneration and sanctification upon the heart; and about the Scriptures of truth, and the doctrines of the Gospel, and what will be their state and portion in another world; they do not know where they are, what they are, nor where they are going: and in the effectual calling this darkness is in a great measure removed, and they are turned to light; to God, who is light itself, and to Christ, the light of the world, and to the light of the word, and to a participation of the light of grace here, in which they see light, and behold the above things, and of the light of glory hereafter. This is a phrase used by the Jews, at the time of the passover, when they praise the Lord, and give thanks unto him for the wonders he wrought for their fathers and for them, as that he had brought them out of bondage to liberty, and from sorrow to joy, and , "from darkness to a great light" (e). Conversion is the end of the Gospel ministry, and illumination is necessary to it; yea, it lies in a turn from darkness to light, as is here expressed: and this conversion is not a mere external one, or a reformation of manners; this is indeed sometimes called a conversion, and is a man's turning from the evil of his ways, from a vicious life and conversation, to a sober way of living, and is often brought about through the ministry of the word; but then this may be where true conversion is not, and where there is no special illumination of the Spirit, nor any true spiritual light; and there may be a turning again to the former course of life; besides, this external conversion, when it is right and genuine, is the fruit and effect of inward conversion, or true grace, and is at most but the evidence of it: nor is it a conversion to a doctrine in a professional way; men may be converted in this sense, and remain wicked; they may have the form, but not the power of godliness; know the doctrine and profess it, and yet be strangers to the experience of it: nor does it design a restoration after backslidings; which sometimes goes by the name of conversion, such as was Peter's after his fall; but the first work of conversion is here meant, which is internal, and is a turn of the hearts of men; and is not the work of man, but of God, who has the hearts of all in his hands, and can turn them as he pleases; and is what man is passive in, he does not turn himself, but is turned by the Lord; though ministers may be, and are instruments in it. It follows,

and from the power of Satan unto God: this power of Satan regards not his power over the rest of the devils, whose prince and head he is; hence he is called the prince of devils, and the prince of the power of the air; but his power over the world of men, which he has by usurpation, and therefore is called the prince of the world; but not his power over the bodies of men, by possessing them, inflicting diseases, and death itself upon them, nor over their estates; all which is only by permission of God, whenever he exercises it; but over the souls of men, in whom he rules as in his own kingdom: he is the strong man armed, and the hearts of men are his palaces, which are guarded with devils and unclean lusts; when all the goods are kept in peace by him, there is no concern about sin, no inquiry after salvation, no dread of the curses of the law, nor fear of hell and damnation, but all in the utmost security: and he not only dwells in the hearts of unregenerate persons, but he works effectually there; by stirring up their corruptions, putting ill things into their minds, and instigating them against true spiritual and powerful religion, and the professors of it: he has power over the minds of them that believe not, to blind them, by keeping them in blindness, and increasing it; which he does by diverting their minds from hearing the Gospel; and whilst hearing it, by filling them with enmity against it. Moreover, they are led by him as captives at his will; they are in his power, as the bird is in the snare of the fowler, and as a prisoner in the hands of a jailer; and are entirely at his beck and command, and do his lusts, and obey his will: and this also may have a particular respect to the power and authority which he exercised over the Heathens, before the Gospel came among them; Satan usurped a power over the Gentile world, and took upon him to be the god of it; and for many hundred of years was worshipped in their idols; and he held them fast bound unto him in the fetters of ignorance, superstition, and idolatry; but now the Gospel was sent among them to free them from this power and tyranny of his; and it was made effectual to the turning of multitudes of them from him, and subjection to him, which is done in the effectual calling of every person; not that Satan then has no more power over them to tempt and distress them, but not to rule over them, and lead them about at pleasure, and much less to devour and destroy them: and then also are they turned to God, to have true knowledge of him, and an hearty desire after him, which they had not before; and to a love of him, whose hearts before were enmity to him; and to believe in him, and trust in him as the God of providence, and of grace; and to have communion with him; and to be subject to his government, and yield a cheerful obedience to him, both externally and internally.

That they may receive forgiveness of sins: as an act of God's free grace, through the blood of Christ, which was shed for it; and which free and full forgiveness of sins is published in the Gospel, that whoever believes in Christ, may by faith receive it. This is what every enlightened soul sees it needs, and is desirous of; it is the first thing it wants, and asks at the hands of God; and nothing can be more suitable to its case, and welcome to it; and this is the good news which is declared in the ministry of the Gospel: and it is had in a way of receiving; for it is not purchased with money, nor procured by the merits of men; but is a gift of God, which is received by the hand of faith into the conscience of the enlightened sinner; the consequences of which are peace, joy, and comfort.

And inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in one: by the "inheritance" is meant, either something enjoyed now, as God himself, who is the portion of his people, and the lot of their inheritance; or a part and interest in Christ, who is that good part and portion, and which shall never be taken away; and the blessings of grace in him, which, besides forgiveness of sins, are peace with God, a justifying righteousness, and adopting grace: or rather eternal glory and happiness hereafter is here designed, which is called an "inheritance" or "lot", in allusion to the land of Canaan, which was distributed by lot; not that heaven is a casual thing; but it signifies that every Israelite indeed will have their share and portion in it. There are many things which show an agreement between heaven, and the land of Canaan; that was a goodly land, and ready prepared for the Israelites; and so heaven is the better country, and the city and kingdom God has prepared for his people from the foundation of the world: a wilderness was passed through first, and many battles fought before it was possessed; the people of God pass through the wilderness of this world, and fight the good fight of faith, and then enter into rest: the Israelites were introduced into it, not by Moses, but by Joshua; and saints get to heaven, not by the works of the law, but by Christ the Saviour, another Jesus or Joshua: and lastly, Canaan was a place of rest; and so is heaven. Moreover, it may be so called, in allusion to inheritances among men, though it vastly exceeds all earthly ones, being incorruptible, undefiled, which fadeth not away, reserved in the heavens; yet it bears some likeness to them; it is what is bequeathed to the children of God by their heavenly Father, and comes to them through the death of Christ the testator, and is for ever: it is neither purchased nor acquired, but is freely given; belongs only to the children of God, and is their Father's free gift unto them, and is only enjoyed by such who are "sanctified"; and it lies among them, and will be jointly and equally possessed by them. The heirs of salvation are said to be sanctified in different senses; they are sanctified by God the Father in eternal election, being separated from others, and chosen through sanctification to it; and they are sanctified "in" and "by" the Lord Jesus Christ: they are sanctified in him representatively, he being the covenant head of his people, has all grace, and so all holiness in him for them, which is perfect and complete; and this is the source of all that holiness that is in them, and which they have communicated to them by virtue of their union to him; and also they are sanctified "in" him through the imputation of the holiness of his human nature to them, which is a branch of their justification before God; and they are sanctified by him meritoriously, or by his blood, through which their sins are expiated, and fully atoned for; and so in this sense they are sanctified by it: and they are sanctified internally by the Spirit of God, who in regeneration produces principles of grace and holiness in them, which were not there before; man was originally possessed of a perfect moral holiness, but through sin is become an unholy creature; and in the same state and condition are the children of God by nature, as others, and need the sanctifying influences of the divine Spirit to make them meet for the undefiled inheritance: and this inheritance these sanctified ones receive by faith now, as they do the forgiveness of their sins; that is, they now receive by faith the promise of the inheritance, and the earnest and pledge of it, and their right unto it, and claim upon it: for the phrase,

by faith that is in me, is not to be connected with the word "sanctified", but with the word "receive", in the preceding clause; and has respect to both benefits, which it receives from Christ, the object of it here expressed; for it is not any faith, but faith which is in Christ, by which these blessings of grace are received and enjoyed: and the whole of this shows the great ends and usefulness of the Gospel ministry.

(e) Haggada Shel Pesach, p. 23. Maimon. Hilchot Chametz Umetza, c. 8. sect. 5.

{5} To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

(5) The end of the Gospel is to save those who are brought to the knowledge of Christ, and are justified and sanctified in him, being laid hold on by faith.

Acts 26:18. ἀνοῖξαι ὀφθ. αὐτῶν, cf. Acts 9:8; Acts 9:40, and also Matthew 9:30; so too Isaiah 35:5; Isaiah 42:7. Both Jews and Gentiles were blinded (οὕς above, referring to both), the former because seeing they saw not, Matthew 13:13, Romans 11:8; the latter in that knowing God in His creation they glorified Him not as God, and their senseless heart was darkened, Romans 1:21; and to both St. Paul proclaimed the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, 2 Corinthians 4:6, Ephesians 1:18. The infinitive of purpose depending on ἀποστέλλω, Burton, p. 157; Viteau, Le Grec du N.T., p. 169 (1893).—ἐπιστρέψαι: “that they may turn,” R.V. (” to turn them,” margin, so A.V.); in St. Luke, who uses the verb more frequently than any other N.T. writer, it is nearly always intransitive, except in Luke 1:16-17, Moulton and Geden, while Grimm adds Acts 26:20 below; so here all E.V[401] before the authorised, cf. Vulgate, “ut convertantur” (Humphry). If we thus take ἐπισ. as intransitive, it is subordinate to the previous infinitive of purpose, ἀνοῖξαι, and τοῦ λαβεῖν again subordinate to ἐπιστ., expressing the final result aimed at (Page, and see also Wendt’s note, in loco (1899)).—ἀπὸ σκότους εἰς φῶς: throughout St. Paul’s Epistles the imagery was frequent with reference not only to Gentiles but also to Jews, cf. Romans 2:19; Romans 13:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:5, Ephesians 5:18, Colossians 1:12. The words gain in interest here if we think of them as corresponding with the Apostle’s own recovering from blindness, spiritual and physical (Plumptre).—τοῦ Σατανα, Blass, Gram., pp. 32, 144; no less than ten times by St. Paul in his Epistles; cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 6:12 (Colossians 1:13. ἐξουσία σκότους, Luke 22:53). There is no reason to suppose with Bengel that St. Paul is here referring to Gentiles rather than to Jews, for whilst the Jews no doubt would regard the Gentiles as loving σκότος and in the power of Satan, cf. also Luke 13:16; Luke 22:31, Acts 5:3. For current ideas with regard to Satan and the teaching of the N.T. cf. Edersheim, Jesus the Messiah, ii., p. 775; Charles, Book of Enoch, Introd., p. 52, and Assumption of Moses, x., 1, where Satan is apparently represented as the head of the kingdom of evil; cf. in the N.T. Ephesians 1:21; Ephesians 6:12, Colossians 2:15, for the whole hierarchy of evil spirits at the disposal of Satan, and 2 Thessalonians 2:9; cf. 2 Corinthians 11:14 for his supernatural powers of deceiving or preventing men; see especially Sanday and Headlam, Romans, p. 145.—τοῦ λαβεῖν: expressing the ultimate object of ἀνοῖξαι (see above, and Weiss, in loco).—ἄφεσιν ἁμαρ., Acts 3:16, the language here is quite Pauline, cf. Colossians 1:12-14, where also deliverance out of the power of darkness and forgiveness of sins in the Son of God’s love are connected as here.—τῇ πίστει εἰς ἐμέ: may be connected with λαβεῖν, faith in Christ as the condition of forgiveness placed emphatically at the end; cf. Acts 10:43, A. and R.V. connect the words with ἡγιασμένοις, so Vulgate.—κλῆρον ἐν τοῖς ἡγιας., cf. Acts 20:32, Colossians 1:12.

[401] English Version.18. to open their eyes, and to turn them] More literally Rev. Ver. “that they may turn”. A sentence full of hope and promise of success. If the eyes of the Gentiles be but opened, then they will turn. In blindness the Jews often said (as Paul found) “We see,” therefore their sin remained.

them which are sanctified by faith that is in me] Better, with Rev. Ver., “by faith in me.” It is by their belief in Jesus that men are sanctified. And here “sanctified,” as so often “saint” in St Paul’s Epistles, is applied to those who have been set on the way of salvation, and not to those who are perfect in holiness. To that they will be brought if they persevere.Acts 26:18. Ἀνοῖξαι, to open) He opens the eyes, who sends Paul; and He opens them by the instrumentality of Paul, who is sent. There is in this passage a noble description of the whole process of conversion. Comp. Isaiah 42:6-7.—αὐτῶν, their) viz. of Jews and Gentiles.—τοῦ ἐπιστρέψαι) There is not added αὐτοὺς, as it is presently added to λαβεῖν· for which reason, as ἀνοῖξαι, so ἐπιστρέψαι, is said of Paul (as the modern Greek Version understands it, as also Beza and others): and τοῦ is explanatory, as in Luke 1:73, τοῦ δοῦναι, where the article indicates that the preceding Infinitive, ποιῆσαι, is explained by this subsequent one, “To perform the mercy—that He would grant unto us;” note.—ἀπὸ σκότους εἰς φῶς, from darkness to light) This clause more belongs to the people (the Jews): that which follows, more to the Gentiles. Comp. Acts 26:20, note: εἰς, into light, 1 Peter 2:9. Comp. Colossians 1:12-13; 1 John 1:7; 1 John 2:9-10; Revelation 21:24. Φῶς here is without the article, as in Acts 26:23.—ἐξουσίας, the power) which was very gross among idolaters. Comp. Colossians 1:13-14, “Redemption through His blood—the forgiveness of sins.”—Σατανᾶ, of Satan) Satan is opposed to GOD, as antichrist is to Christ.—τοῦ) Anaphora [the frequent repetition of the same word at beginnings].—ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν, forgiveness of sins) This belongs expressly to the people: ch. Acts 2:38, “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” Κλῆρον, lot, inheritance, among them who are sanctified, more applies to the Gentiles.—κλῆρον, inheritance) Comp. again Colossians 1:12-14.—ἐν τοῖς ἠγιασμένοις, among them which are Sanctified) See ch. Acts 20:32, note (This title is applied to believers from among the Gentiles, not however excluding Jewish believers: therefore ἐν, not σὺν, is used).—πίστει, by faith) Construe this with λαβεῖν, that they may receive [not with ἡγιασμένοις, sanctified, as Engl. Vers.]Verse 18. - That they may turn for and to turn them, A.V. and T.R.; remission for forgiveness, A.V.; an inheritance for inheritance, A.V.; that for which, A.V.; faith in me for faith that is in me, A.V. To open their eyes (comp. Luke 4:18 and the LXX. of Isaiah 61:1; 2 Corinthians 4:4-6, etc.). That they may turn from darkness to light (comp. Colossians 1:12, 13; Ephesians 5:8; 1 Peter 2:9, etc.). Remission of sins (see Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19; Acts 10:43).
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