Acts 26:23
That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light to the people, and to the Gentiles.
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(23) That Christ should suffer.—Literally, that the Christ was passiblei.e., capable of suffering. The great body of the Jews had fixed their thoughts only on the prophetic visions of the glories of the Messiah’s kingdom. Even the disciples of Jesus were slow to receive any other thought than that of conquest and triumph. Peter’s “Be it far from thee, Lord” (Matthew 16:22) expressed the horror with which the thought of a suffering Christ at first struck him. It was not till they were led, after the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, into our Lord’s own school of prophetic interpretation (Luke 24:25-26; Luke 24:44), and taught to recognise the under-current of types and prophecies that pointed to a righteous Sufferer, as well as to a righteous King, that they were able to receive the truth. So it was that a “Christ crucified” was still “to the Jews a stumbling-block” (1Corinthians 1:23). The speech at Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13:27-35) may be noted as showing the stress which St. Paul laid on this point. The Greek has “if” in both clauses where the English has “that;” but our idiom scarcely admits of its being so translated.

That he should be the first that should rise from the dead.—More literally, that He first by His resurrection from the dead (strictly, out of His resurrection) should show light. It was through the Resurrection only that the hopes of Simeon were fulfilled (Luke 2:32), and that light shone in on those who had been sitting as in the shadow of death. The “people” are, as almost always when the word is so used, God’s people Israel, as distinguished from the heathen.

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.That Christ - That the Messiah expected by the Jews should be a suffering Messiah.

Should suffer - Should lead a painful life, and be put to death. See the notes on Acts 17:3; compare Daniel 9:27; Isaiah 53:1-12.

And that he should be the first ... - This declaration contains two points:

(1) That it was taught in the prophets that the Messiah Would rise from the dead. On this, see the proof alleged in Acts 2:24-32; Acts 13:32-37.

(2) that he would be the first that should rise. This cannot mean that the Messiah would be the first dead person who should be restored to life, for Elijah had raised the son of the Shunammite, and Jesus himself had raised Lazarus, and the widow's son at Nain. It does not mean that he would be the first in the order of time that should rise, but first in eminence; the most distinguished, the chief, the head of those who should rise from the dead - πρῶτος ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν prōtos ex anastaseōs nekrōn. In accordance with this he is called Colossians 1:18 "the beginning, the first-born from the dead," having among all the dead who should be raised up the pre-eminence of primogeniture, or what pertained to the first-born. In 1 Corinthians 15:20 he is called "the first fruits of them that slept. This declaration is therefore made of him by way of eminence:

(1) As being chief, a prince among those raised from the dead;

(2) As being raised by his own power John 10:18;

(3) As, by his rising, securing a dominion over death and the grave 1 Corinthians 15:25-26; and,

(4) As bringing, by his rising, life and immortality to light. He rose to return to death no more. And he thus secured an ascendency over death and the grave, and was thus, by way of eminence, first among those raised from the dead.

And should show light unto the people - To the Jews. Would be their instructor and prophet. This Moses had predicted, Deuteronomy 18:15.

And to the Gentiles - This had often been foretold by the prophets, and particularly by Isaiah, Isaiah 9:1-2; compare Matthew 4:14-16; Isaiah 11:10; Isaiah 42:1, Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 54:3; Isaiah 60:3, Isaiah 60:5,Isaiah 60:11; Isaiah 61:6; Isaiah 62:2; Isaiah 66:12.

23. That Christ should suffer, &c.—The construction of this sentence implies that in regard to the question "whether the Messiah is a suffering one, and whether, rising first from the dead, he should show light to the (Jewish) people and to the Gentiles," he had only said what the prophets and Moses said should come. The sufferings of Christ were taught by Moses in all the commands about sacrifices, and more plainly by Isaiah in all the 53rd chapter Isaiah 53:1-12; insomuch, that this was acknowledged by Tryphon, disputing with Justin Martyr, although the generality of Jews, both then and now, do stiffly deny it. The carnal Jews do not like to hear of a spiritual kingdom.

The first that should rise from the dead; Christ was the first that did rise to an immortal life; others that were restored to life, died again: besides, Christ is deservedly called the first, by reason of his dignity and eminency, and in that he rose as a head and fountain of life to others, even to all that live and believe in him.

Show light; all the word of God is light; but especially the gospel, which discovers a plain and open way unto salvation.

Unto the people, and to the Gentiles; to both Jews and Gentiles, as Acts 26:17. That Christ should suffer,.... Great afflictions in soul and body, and death itself; this is recorded by Moses, Genesis 3:15 and is the sense of many of the types, as of the passover, brazen serpent, &c. and of all the sacrifices which from God were appointed by him, and is the constant account of all the prophets from the beginning to the end; see Psalm 22:1 Daniel 9:26. The sufferer is Christ, or the Messiah, not the Father, nor the Spirit, but the Word, or Son of God, and not in his divine nature, which was incapable of suffering, but in his human nature; though sufferings may be ascribed to his whole person, both natures being united in him: and hence they became efficacious to answer the purposes for which they were endured; and which he endured, not for himself, nor for angels, but for chosen men, sinners, and ungodly persons; in order to make peace and reconciliation for them, procure the pardon of their sins, obtain eternal redemption for them, deliver them from all evil, and from all enemies, and bring them nigh to God: and what he suffered were no other than what had been foretold in the writings of the Old Testament, which all along represent the Messiah as a suffering one; and in particular that he should suffer in his character, be reproached, and accounted a worm, and no man, Isaiah 53:3 and in his soul and body, and be put to death and buried, as the above prophecies referred to show; the several circumstances leading on to, or attending his sufferings and death, are distinctly expressed; as the betraying him by one of his disciples, selling him for thirty pieces of silver, his being forsaken by all his disciples, his crucifixion between two thieves, the parting of his garments, giving him gall and vinegar to drink, and the piercing his side with a spear, Psalm 41:9. And to this agreed the doctrine of the apostle, who taught that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ that was to come, and that he had suffered all that Moses and the prophets did say should come upon him: but these were not the present sentiments of the Jews, who expected the Messiah to be a temporal Prince and Saviour, and to live in great outward prosperity, and for ever.

And that he should be the first that should rise from the dead: by his own power, and to an immortal life, as Jesus did; and so is the firstborn from the dead, and the first fruits of them that slept: a type of this, in the deliverance of Isaac, is recorded by Moses in Genesis 22:12 compared with Hebrews 11:19 and the thing itself is foretold by many of the prophets, Psalm 16:10.

and should show light unto the people, and to the Gentiles: in his own person to the people of the Jews, and by his apostles to the Gentiles. In the writings of Moses he is spoken of as the great prophet God would raise up in Israel, to whom they should hearken; and as the Shiloh to whom the gathering of the people should be, Deuteronomy 17:15 and that he should be a light to both Jews and Gentiles, through the ministration of the Gospel, is said by the prophets, Isaiah 9:2 and these were the things which the apostle asserted in his ministry, in perfect agreement with those writings.

That Christ should {g} suffer, and that he should be the {h} first that should rise from the dead, and should shew {i} light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.

(g) That Christ would not be such a king as the Jews dreamed of, but one appointed to bear our miseries, and the punishment of our sins.

(h) The first of those who are raised from the dead.

(i) Life, yea and that a most blessed life which will be endless: and this is set against darkness, which almost in all languages sometimes signifies death, and sometimes misery and calamity.

is to be separated simply by a comma from the preceding: What the prophets and Moses have spoken concerning the future, whether (whether, namely) the Messiah is exposed to suffering, etc

Acts 26:23 is to be separated simply by a comma from the preceding: What the prophets and Moses have spoken concerning the future, whether (whether, namely) the Messiah is exposed to suffering, etc. Paul expresses himself in problematic form (εἰ), because it was just the point of debate among the Jews whether a suffering Messiah was to be believed in (John 12:34), as in fact such an one constantly proved an offence unto them (1 Corinthians 1:23; Galatians 5:11). “Res erat liquida; Judaei in quaestionem vocarant,” Bengel. Paul in his preaching has said nothing else than what Moses and the prophets have spoken as the future state of the case on this point; he has propounded nothing new, nothing of his own invention, concerning it. παθητός, passibilis (Vulgate), not, however, in the metaphysical sense of susceptibility of suffering, but of the divine destination to suffering: subjected to suffering. Plut. Pelop. 16 : τὸ θνητὸν καὶ παθητὸν ἀποβαλόντας. The opposite ἀπαθής in classic writers since the time of Herodotus. Comp. Justin. c. Tryph. xxxvi. p. 133 D: παθητὸς Χριστὸς προεφητεύθη μέλλειν εἶναι.

The other point of the predictions of Moses and the prophets, vividly introduced without a connecting particle, in respect of which Paul had just as little deviated from their utterances, is: whether the Messiah as the first from the resurrection of the dead (as the first for ever risen, as πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, Colossians 1:18; comp. 1 Corinthians 15:33) will proclaim light (as in Acts 26:18) to the (Jewish) people and to the Gentiles. The chief stress of this sentence lies on πρῶτος ἐξ ἀναστ. νεκρῶν; for, if this was, in accordance with the O.T., appropriated to the Messiah as characteristic, thereby the σκάνδαλον of the cross of Christ was removed. After His resurrection Jesus proclaimed light to all the Gentiles by His self-communication in the Holy Spirit (see on Ephesians 2:17), whose organs and mediate agents the apostles and their associates were. Comp. on Colossians 1:12.Acts 26:23. εἰ = Hebrews 7:15, i.e., as is most certain from the authority of Scripture, “how that the Christ,” R.V.—παθητὸς: “must suffer,” R.V. (“although is subject to suffering,” margin), cf. Vulgate, passibilis (not patibilis); no question here of the abstract possibility of, or capacity for, suffering, although primarily the Greek word implies this, but of the divine destination to suffering, cf. Luke 24:26; Luke 24:44, 1 Corinthians 15:2-3, see Grimm-Thayer, sub v.; Justin Martyr, c. Tryph., c. 89, παθητὸν τὸν χριστόν, ὅτι αἱ γραφαὶ κηρύσσουσι, φανερόν ἐστι. But the same dialogue, c. 90, enables us to realise that even where the idea of a suffering Messiah was entertained, nothing was more abhorrent than the idea of the cross as the outward expression of such sufferings: “If the Messiah can suffer,” cries the Jew Trypho, “yet he cannot be crucified; he cannot die such a shameful, dishonourable death”. See also cc. 36, 76. For the incompatibility of the idea of a suffering Messiah with the ideas current in the time of Jesus see Dalman, Der Leidende und der Sterbende Messias, p. 30, and references may be made to Witness of the Epistles, pp. 360, 361, for other authorities to the same effect; cf. Matthew 16:22, Luke 18:34; Luke 24:21, John 12:34, 1 Corinthians 1:23, Galatians 5:11; see above on Acts 3:18 (p. 113). If we render εἰ if or whether it does not indicate that there was any doubt in Paul’s mind; but he simply states in the hypothetical form the question at issue between himself and the Jews.—εἰ πρῶτος: “that he first by the resurrection of the dead,” R.V., closely connected with the preceding; the Messiah was to suffer, but “out of his resurrection from the dead” assurance was given not only that the Suffering Messiah and the Triumphant Messiah were one, but that in Him, the true Messiah, all the O.T. prophecies of the blessings of light and life, to Jew and Gentile alike, were to be fulfilled, cf. Isaiah 49:6, Acts 13:47 (Isaiah 9:1-2; Isaiah 60:1). This on the whole seems better than to limit the words to the fact that life and immortality had been brought to light by the resurrection of the Christ: φῶς means more than the blessing of immortality in the future, it means the present realisation of the light of life, cf. Acts 26:18, and Luke 2:32, of a life in the light of the Lord. πρῶτος closely connected with ἐξ ἀναστ., as if = πρωτότοκος ἐκ νέκρων, Colossians 1:18, 1 Corinthians 15:20; 1 Corinthians 15:23, or as if the Apostle would emphasise the fact that Christ first rose in the sense of rising to die no more, Romans 6:9, and so proclaimed light, etc.—καταγγέλλειν: “to proclaim,” R.V., cf. Acts 16:17, Acts 17:3; Acts 17:23.—λαῷ καὶ τοῖς ἔθνεσι, see above Acts 26:17; even in the Pharisaic hope expressed in Psalms of Solomon, 17, cf. Acts 26:32, we see how far the Gentiles would necessarily be from sharing on an equality with the Jews in the Messianic kingdom, see Ryle and James, Introd., 53, and also for later literature, Apocalypse of Baruch, lxxii., Edersheim on Isaiah 60, Jesus the Messiah, ii., pp. 728, 729.23. that Christ should suffer] Rev. Ver. “How that the Christ must suffer,” but giving in the margin on “How that” or “if” or “whether.” The Greek is the conjunction ordinarily rendered “if,” and the literal meaning is “If the Christ be one who has to suffer.” The original puts it as though it were a question on which there was debate among the Jews. As indeed there was. See John 12:34. And out of the Scriptures Paul says he answered the question whether this should be so. As his answer was a positive one the sense is nearly enough represented by “that” in the A.V., but we should read “the Christ.”

and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light] The Rev. Ver. gives a better representation of the original thus, “and how that he first by the resurrection of the dead should proclaim.” Christ was the firstfruits of them that sleep. His resurrection was an earnest of the general resurrection. Thus life and immortality were brought to light. “Should proclaim” = “is about to proclaim,” for this is the gospel which is to be preached from generation to generation.

light unto the people, and to the Gentiles] The best MSS. insert “both” before “unto.” The “people,” i.e. of the Jews. Christ was spoken of in like terms by the aged Simeon. “A light to lighten the Gentiles and to be the glory of thy people Israel.” And he could say this because in Jesus he beheld God’s “salvation.” He could “depart in peace,” being sure that “to die” was only the pledge of “to rise again.”Verse 23. - How that the Christ must for that Christ should, A.V.; how that he first by the resurrection of the dead should proclaim for that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show, A.V.; both to for unto, A.V. and T.R. How that (εἰ); see ver. 8, note. Must suffer; ταθητός only here and in profane Greek writers. The exact meaning of παθητός is "liable to suffering," just as θνητός (from θνήσκω) means "liable to death," i.e. mortal. But just as θνητός in use comes to mean "one who must die," so παθητός means "one who must suffer;" and so we read in Luke 24:26, Οὐχὶ ἔδει παθεῖν τὸν Ξριστὸν καὶ εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν δόξαν αὑτοῦ; "Ought not Christ to have suffered," etc.? And so again in Luke 24:46 (T.R.), Ἔδει παθεῖν τὸν Ξριστὸν καὶ ἀναστῆναι ἐκ νεκρῶν, "It behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead," where the turn of thought is exactly the same as here. The Vulgate renders it by passibilis. The Fathers (Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin Martyr) contrast the state of Christ in glory with his state in the flesh by the words ἀπαθής and παθητός, "impassible" and "passible." That he first by the resurrection of the dead should proclaim, etc. Most commentators, from Chrysostom downwards, connect the first with the resurrection. "First from the resurrection," equal to πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν (Colossians 1:18). As Meyer truly says, "The chief stress of this sentence lies on πρῶτος ἐξ ἀναστάσεως." The A.V. gives the sense by a periphrasis; only it must be well understood that it was especially by being the first to rise, and so to bring life and immortality to light, that Christ showed light to the people. The words may, of course, be construed as the R.V. does, but such a rendering is not in accordance with the spirit of the passage or the analogy of other passages. Christ was the first rise, and he will be followed by them that are his. But it is not true to say that he was the first to give light to Jews and Gentiles, and will be followed by others doing the same. (For the sentiment, setup. Luke 2:32.) Note on the whole the enormous stress laid by St. Paul on the fulfillment of prophecy as a proof of the truth of the gospel, following therein our Lord himself (Luke 24:25, 27, 44, 45). That Christ should suffer (εἰ παθητὸς ὁ Χριστὸς)

Rather, if or whether the Messiah is liable to suffering. He expresses himself in a problematic form, because it was the point of debate among the Jews whether a suffering Messiah was to be believed in. They believed in a triumphant Messiah, and the doctrine of his sufferings was an obstacle to their receiving him as Messiah. Note the article, "the Christ," and see on Matthew 1:1.

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