And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Shall be destroyed from among the people.—The original has it, “I will require it of him” (Deuteronomy 18:19). The words which St. Peter substitutes are as an echo of a familiar phrase which occurs in Exodus 12:15; Exodus 12:19; Leviticus 17:4; Leviticus 17:9, et al. This, again, looks like a citation freely made.
Shall be destroyed - This quotation is made according to the sense, and not literally. In the Hebrew the expression is Deuteronomy 18:19, "I will require it of him," that is, I will hold him answerable or responsible for it; I will punish him. This expression the Septuagint has rendered by "I will take vengeance on him." The idea of the passage is, therefore, that God would publish the man that would not hear the prophet, without specifying the particular way in which it should be done. The usual mode of punishing such offences was by cutting the offender off from among the people, Exodus 30:33; Exodus 12:15; Exodus 9:15; Numbers 15:31; Numbers 19:13; Leviticus 7:20-21, Leviticus 7:25, Leviticus 7:27, etc. The sense is, that he should be punished in the usual manner; that is, by excision, or by being destroyed from among the people. The word translated "shall be destroyed" means properly "to exterminate, wholly to devote to ruin," as of a wicked people, a wicked man whose life is taken, etc.
To be destroyed from among the people means, however, to be excommunicated, or to be deprived of the privileges of a people. Among the Jews this was probably the most severe punishment that could be inflicted. It involved the idea of being cut off from the privileges of sacrifice and worship in the temple and in the synagogue, etc., and of being regarded as a pagan and an outcast. The idea which Peter expressed here was, that the Jews had exposed themselves to the severest punishment in rejecting and crucifying the Lord Jesus, and that they should, therefore, repent of this great sin, and seek for mercy. The same remark is applicable still to people. The Scriptures abundantly declare the truth, that if sinners will not hear the Lord Jesus, they shall be destroyed. And it becomes each individual to inquire with honesty whether he listens to his instructions and obeys his Law, or whether he is rejecting him and following the devices and desires of his own heart. It will be a solemn day when the sinner shall be called to render a reason why he has rejected the teachings and laws of the Son of God!
him shall ye hear in all things, &c.—This part of the prediction is emphatically added, in order to shut up the audience to the obedience of faith, on pain of being finally "cut off" from the congregation of the righteous (Ps 1:1).Every soul; that is every one.
Hear that prophet; that is believe and obey him.
Shall be destroyed from among the people; as those that disobeyed Moses were destroyed, many perishing by strange and sudden deaths: we read of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and all that belonged to them, swallowed up for this sin, Numbers 16:1-50. The apostle demands, How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation? Hebrews 2:3. For a greater than Moses is here, and God hath undertaken to require it of every one that will not hearken unto him, Deu 18:19.
which will not hear that prophet; neither believe what he says, nor do what he commands; or as it is in Deuteronomy 18:19 "will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name": for he that hears not him, hearkens not to God, in whose name he speaks, and whose word he delivers,
shall be destroyed from among the people; in the Hebrew text it is, "I will require it of him"; the Hebrew word, there used, by having different points, may be rendered "of him", or "from his people", which seems to be the reason of this difference: and requiring often intends punishment, or a cutting off; or as Aben Ezra explains it here,
"death by the hand of heaven;''
that is, immediate destruction from God; and so Maimonides says (k), he that transgresses the words of that prophet, is guilty of death by the hand of heaven; and which was remarkably fulfilled in the Jewish nation, for their rejection of Jesus as the true Messiah, and that prophet.And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Acts 3:23. ἔσται δὲ, cf. Acts 2:17. The expression, which is not in the Hebrew. seems to call attention to what follows.—ἐξολεθρευθήσεται ἐκ τοῦ λαοῦ: “shall be utterly destroyed” (ἐξ), R.V. In the LXX, Deuteronomy 18:19, following the Hebrew, the words are ἐγὼ ἐκδικήσω ἐξ πὐτοῦ, “I will require it of him”. But the phrase which St. Peter uses was a very common one, from Genesis 17:14, for the sentence of death, cf. also Exodus 12:15; Exodus 12:19, Leviticus 17:4; Leviticus 17:9, Numbers 15:30. Here again the quotation is evidently made freely or from memory. The strong verb, although frequent in the LXX, is found only here in the N.T. It is used by Josephus and by Philo, but not in classical Greek. The warning is evidently directed against wilful disobedience, and is expressed in terms signifying the utterness of the destruction from the people. But in their original meaning in the O.T. they need not refer to anything more than the penalty of the death of the body, and it is not necessary to see in them here any threat of eternal punishment in Gehenna (so Wendt, Holtzmann, Felten). If the word has any eschatological bearing it would support the theory of annihilation more easily. Grotius explains ἐξολεθ., “morte violenta aut immatura,” and he adds “mystice etiam Rabbini hoc ad poenas post hanc vitam referunt,” but this is quite apart from the primary meaning of the word.Acts 3:23. Ἔσται δὲ, moreover it shall come to pass) והיה, a modal [See Append. on ‘Modalis’] formula, exciting attention.—ἥτις ἐὰν, whatsoever) It is implied that many are about to hear this Prophet, and many not about to hear Him.—ἐξολοθρευθήσεται, shall be utterly destroyed, or exterminated) Instead of the Hebrew, “I will require it of him” (Deuteronomy 18:19), is put that customary formula concerning כרת, utter cutting off. As death is the wages of sin; so a violent death, that is, utter destruction, is the wages of violent (heinous) sin.Verse 23. - Shall be for come to pass, A.V.; shall not hearken to for will not hear, A.V.; utterly destroyed for destroyed, A.V. Utterly destroyed. The Greek ἐξολοθρεύω οξξυρσ frequently in the LXX. for the Hebrew phrase," cut off from his people" (Genesis 17:14); but in Deuteronomy 18:19, the phrase is quite different, "I will require it of him." St. Peter here gives the sense, not the ipsissima verba, and thereby marks the extreme gravity of the sin of unbelief (see John 3:18).
Only here in New Testament. Rev., "utterly destroyed," giving the force of ἐξ, out.
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