Acts 3:26
To you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(26) Unto you first. . . .—Here again we note, even in the very turn of the phrase as well as of the thought, an agreement with St. Paul’s formula of the purpose of God being manifested “to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile” (Acts 13:46; Romans 1:16; Romans 2:9-10). St. Peter does not as yet know the conditions under which the gospel will be preached to the heathen; but his words imply a distinct perception that there was a call to preach to them.

His Son Jesus.—Better, as before, Servant. (See Note on Acts 3:13.)

Sent him to bless you.—The Greek structure gives the present participle where the English has the infinitive, sent Him as in the act of blessing. The verb which strictly and commonly expresses a spoken benediction is here used in a secondary sense, as conveying the reality of blessedness. And the blessing is found, not in mere exemption from punishment, not even in pardon and reconciliation, but in a change of heart, in “turning each man from his wickednesses.” The plural of the abstract noun implies, as in Mark 7:22, all the many concrete forms in which man’s wickedness could show itself.

Acts

THE SERVANT OF THE LORD

Acts 3:26
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So ended Peter’s bold address to the wondering crowd gathered in the Temple courts around him, with his companion John and the lame man whom they had healed. A glance at his words will show how extraordinarily outspoken and courageous they are. He charges home on his hearers the guilt of Christ’s death, unfalteringly proclaims His Messiahship, bears witness to His Resurrection and Ascension, asserts that He is the End and Fulfilment of ancient revelation, and offers to all the great blessings that Christ brings. And this fiery, tender oration came from the same lips which, a few weeks before, had been blanched with fear before a flippant maidservant, and had quivered as they swore, ‘I know not the man!’

One or two simple observations may be made by way of introduction. ‘Unto you first’-’first’ implies second; and so the Apostle has shaken himself clear of the Jews’ narrow belief that Messias belonged to them only, and is already beginning to contemplate the possibility of a transference of the kingdom of God to the outlying Gentiles. ‘God having raised up His Son’-that expression has no reference, as it might at first seem, to the fact of the Resurrection; but is employed in the same sense as, and indeed looks back to, previous words. For he had just quoted Moses’ declaration, ‘A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you from your brethren.’ So it is Christ’s equipment and appointment for His office, and not His Resurrection, which is spoken about here. ‘His Son Jesus’-the Revised Version more accurately translates ‘His Servant Jesus.’ I shall have a word or two to say about that translation presently, but in the meantime I simply note the fact.

With this slight explanation let us now turn to two or three of the aspects of the words before us.

I. First, I note the extraordinary transformation which they indicate in the speaker.

I have already referred to his cowardice a very short time before. That transformation from a coward to a hero he shared in common with his brethren. On one page we read, ‘They all forsook Him and fled.’ We turn over half a dozen leaves and we read: ‘They departed from the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.’ What did that?

Then there is another transformation no less swift, sudden, and inexplicable, except on one hypothesis. All through Christ’s life the disciples had been singularly slow to apprehend the highest aspects of His teachings, and they had clung with a strange obstinacy to their narrow Pharisaic and Jewish notions of the Messiah as coming to establish a temporal dominion, in which Israel was to ride upon the necks of the subject nations. And now, all at once, this Apostle, and his fellows with him, have stepped from these puerile and narrow ideas out into this large place, that he and they recognise that the Jew had no exclusive possession of Messiah’s blessings, and that these blessings consisted in no external kingdom, but lay mainly and primarily in His ‘turning every one of you from your iniquities.’ At one time the Apostles stood upon a gross, low, carnal level, and in a few weeks they were, at all events, feeling their way to, and to a large extent had possession of, the most spiritual and lofty aspects of Christ’s mission. What did that?

Something had come in between which wrought more, in a short space, than all the three years of Christ’s teaching and companionship had done for them. What was it? Why did they not continue in the mood which two of them are reported to have been in, after the Crucifixion, when they said-’It is all up! we trusted that this had been He,’ but the force of circumstances has shivered the confidence into fragments, and there is no such hope left for us any longer. What brought them out of that Slough of Despond?

I would put it to any fair-minded man whether the psychological facts of this sudden maturing of these childish minds, and their sudden change from slinking cowards into heroes who did not blanch before the torture and the scaffold, are accountable, if you strike out the Resurrection, the Ascension, and Pentecost? It seems to me that, for the sake of avoiding a miracle, the disbelievers in the Resurrection accept an impossibility, and tie themselves to an intellectual absurdity. And I for one would rather believe in a miracle than believe in an uncaused change, in which the Apostles take exactly the opposite course from that which they necessarily must have taken, if there had not been the facts that the New Testament asserts that there were, Christ’s rising again from the dead, and Ascension.

Why did not the Church share the fate of John’s disciples, who scattered like sheep without a shepherd when Herod chopped off their master’s head? Why did not the Church share the fate of that abortive rising, of which we know that when Theudas, its leader, was slain, ‘all, as many as believed on him, came to nought.’ Why did these men act in exactly the opposite way? I take it that, as you cannot account for Christ except on the hypothesis that He is the Son of the Highest, you cannot account for the continuance of the Christian Church for a week after the Crucifixion, except on the hypothesis that the men who composed it were witnesses of His Resurrection, and saw Him floating upwards and received into the Shechinah cloud and lost to their sight. Peter’s change, witnessed by the words of my text-these bold and clear-sighted words-seems to me to be a perfect monstrosity, and incapable of explication, unless he saw the risen Lord, beheld the ascended Christ, was touched with the fiery Spirit descending on Pentecost, and so ‘out of weakness was made strong,’ and from a babe sprang to the stature of a man in Christ.

II. Look at these words as setting forth a remarkable view of Christ.

I have already referred to the fact that the word rendered ‘son’ ought rather to be rendered ‘servant.’ It literally means ‘child’ or ‘boy,’ and appears to have been used familiarly, just in the same fashion as we use the same expression ‘boy,’ or its equivalent ‘maid,’ as a more gentle designation for a servant. Thus the kindly centurion, when he would bespeak our Lord’s care for his menial, calls him his ‘boy’; and our Bible there translates rightly ‘servant.’

Again, the designation is that which is continually employed in the Greek translation of the Old Testament as the equivalent for the well-known prophetic phrase ‘the Servant of Jehovah,’ which, as you will remember, is characteristic of the second portion of the prophecies of Isaiah. And consequently we find that, in a quotation of Isaiah’s prophecy in the Gospel of Matthew, the very phrase of our text is there employed: ‘Behold My Servant whom I uphold!’

Now, it seems as if this designation of our Lord as God’s Servant was very familiar to Peter’s thoughts at this stage of the development of Christian doctrine. For we find the name employed twice in this discourse-in the thirteenth verse, ‘the God of our Fathers hath glorified His Servant Jesus,’ and again in my text. We also find it twice in the next chapter, where Peter, offering up a prayer amongst his brethren, speaks of ‘Thy Holy Child Jesus,’ and prays ‘that signs and wonders may be done through the name’ of that ‘Holy Child.’ So, then, I think we may fairly take it that, at the time in question, this thought of Jesus as the ‘Servant of the Lord’ had come with especial force to the primitive Church. And the fact that the designation never occurs again in the New Testament seems to show that they passed on from it into a deeper perception than even it attests of who and what this Jesus was in relation to God.

But, at all events, we have in our text the Apostle looking back to that dim, mysterious Figure which rises up with shadowy lineaments out of the great prophecy of ‘Isaiah,’ and thrilling with awe and wonder, as he sees, bit by bit, in the Face painted on the prophetic canvas, the likeness of the Face into which he had looked for three blessed years, that now began to tell him more than they had done whilst their moments were passing.

‘The Servant of the Lord’-that means, first of all, that Christ, in all which He does, meekly and obediently executes the Father’s will. As He Himself said, ‘I come not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.’ But it carries us further than that, to a point about which I would like to say one word now; and that is, the clear recognition that the very centre of Jewish prophecy is the revelation of the personality of the Christ. Now, it seems to me that present tendencies, discussions about the nature and limits of inspiration, investigations which, in many directions, are to be welcomed and are fruitful as to the manner of origin of the books of the Old Testament, and as to their collection into a Canon and a whole-that all this new light has a counterbalancing disadvantage, in that it tends somewhat to obscure in men’s minds the great central truth about the revelation of God in Israel-viz. that it was all progressive, and that its goal and end was Jesus Christ. ‘The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy,’ and however much we may have to learn-and I have no doubt that we have a great deal to learn, about the composition, the structure, the authorship, the date of these ancient books-I take leave to say that the unlearned reader, who recognises that they all converge on Jesus Christ, has hold of the clue of the labyrinth, and has come nearer to the marrow of the books than the most learned investigators, who see all manner of things besides in them, and do not see that ‘they that went before cried, saying, Hosanna! Blessed be He that cometh in the name of the Lord!’

And so I venture to commend to you, brethren-not as a barrier against any reverent investigation, not as stopping any careful study-this as the central truth concerning the ancient revelation, that it had, for its chief business, to proclaim the coming of the Servant of Jehovah, Jesus the Christ.

III. And now, lastly, look at these words as setting forth the true centre of Christ’s work.

‘He has sent Him to bless you in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.’ I have already spoken about the gross, narrow, carnal apprehensions of Messiah’s work which cleaved to the disciples during all our Lord’s life here, and which disturbed even the sanctity of the upper chamber at that last meal, with squabbles about precedence which had an eye to places in the court of the Messiah when He assumed His throne. But here Peter has shaken himself clear of all these, and has grasped the thought that, whatever derivative and secondary blessings of an external and visible sort may, and must, come in Messiah’s train, the blessing which He brings is of a purely spiritual and inward character, and consists in turning away single souls from their love and practice of evil. That is Christ’s true work.

The Apostle does not enlarge as to how it is done. We know how it is done. Jesus turns away men from sin because, by the magnetism of His love, and the attractive raying out of influence from His Cross, He turns them to Himself. He turns us from our iniquities by the expulsive power of a new affection, which, coming into our hearts like a great river into some foul Augean stable, sweeps out on its waters all the filth that no broom can ever clear out in detail. He turns men from their iniquities by His gift of a new life, kindred with that from which it is derived.

There is an old superstition that lightning turned whatever it struck towards the point from which the flash came, so that a tree with its thousand leaves had each of them pointed to that quarter in the heavens where the blaze had been.

And so Christ, when He flings out the beneficent flash that slays only our evil, and vitalises ourselves, turns us to Him, and away from our transgressions. ‘Turn us, O Christ, and we shall be turned.’

Ah, brethren! that is the blessing that we need most, for ‘iniquities’ are universal; and so long as man is bound to his sin it will embitter all sweetnesses, and neutralise every blessing. It is not culture, valuable as that is in many ways, that will avail to stanch man’s deepest wounds. It is not a new social order that will still the discontent and the misery of humanity. You may adopt collective economic and social arrangements, and divide property out as it pleases you. But as long as man continues selfish he will continue sinful, and as long as he continues sinful any social order will be pregnant with sorrow, ‘and when it is finished it will bring forth death.’ You have to go deeper down than all that, down as deep as this Apostle goes in this sermon of his, and recognise that Christ’s prime blessing is the turning of men from their iniquities, and that only after that has been done will other good come.

How shallow, by the side of that conception, do modern notions of Jesus as the great social Reformer look! These are true, but they want their basis, and their basis lies only here, that He is the Redeemer of individuals from their sins. There were people in Christ’s lifetime who were all untouched by His teachings, but when they found that He gave bread miraculously they said, ‘This is of a truth the Prophet! That’s the prophet for my money; the Man that can make bread, and secure material well-being.’ Have not certain modern views of Christ’s work and mission a good deal in common with these vulgar old Jews-views which regard Him mainly as contributing to the material good, the social and economical well-being of the world?

Now, I believe that He does that. And I believe that Christ’s principles are going to revolutionise society as it exists at present. But I am sure that we are on a false scent if we attempt to preach consequences without proclaiming their antecedents, and that such preaching will end, as all such attempts have ended, in confusion and disappointment.

They used to talk about Jesus Christ, in the first French Revolution, as ‘the Good Sansculotte.’ Perfectly true! But as the basis of that, and of all representations of Him, that will have power on the diseases of the community, we have to preach Him as the Saviour of the individual from his sin.

And so, brethren, has He saved you? Do you begin your notions of Jesus Christ where His work begins? Do you feel that what you want most is neither culture nor any superficial and external changes, but something that will deal with the deep, indwelling, rooted, obstinate self-regard which is the centre of all sin? And have you gone alone to Him as a sinful man? As the Apostle here suggests, Jesus Christ does not save communities. The doctor has his patients into the consulting-room one by one. There is no applying of Christ’s benefits to men in batches, by platoons and regiments, as Clovis baptized his Franks; but you have to go, every one of you, through the turnstile singly, and alone to confess, and alone to be absolved, and alone to be turned, from your iniquity.

If I might venture to alter the position of words in my text, I would lay them, so modified, on the hearts of all my friends whom my words may reach now, and say, ‘Unto you-unto thee, God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, first in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.’3:22-26 Here is a powerful address to warn the Jews of the dreadful consequences of their unbelief, in the very words of Moses, their favourite prophet, out of pretended zeal for whom they were ready to reject Christianity, and to try to destroy it. Christ came into the world to bring a blessing with him. And he sent his Spirit to be the great blessing. Christ came to bless us, by turning us from our iniquities, and saving us from our sins. We, by nature cleave to sin; the design of Divine grace is to turn us from it, that we may not only forsake, but hate it. Let none think that they can be happy by continuing in sin, when God declares that the blessing is in being turned from all iniquity. Let none think that they understand or believe the gospel, who only seek deliverance from the punishment of sin, but do not expect happiness in being delivered from sin itself. And let none expect to be turned from their sin, except by believing in, and receiving Christ the Son of God, as their wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.Unto you first - To you who are Jews. This was the direction, that the gospel should be first preached to the Jews, beginning at Jerusalem, Luke 24:47. Jesus himself also confined his ministry entirely to the Jews.

Having raised up - This expression does not refer to his having raised him from the dead, but is used in the same sense as in Acts 3:22, where God promised that he would raise up a prophet, and send him to teach the people. Peter means that God had appointed his Son Jesus, or had commissioned him to go and preach to the people to turn them away from their sins.

To bless you - To make you happy; to fulfill the promise made to Abraham.

In turning away - That is, by his preaching, example, death, etc. The highest blessing that can be conferred upon people is to be turned from sin. Sin is the source of all woes, and if people are turned from that, they will be happy. Christ blesses no one in sin, or while loving sin, but by turning them from sin. This was the object which he had in view in coming, Isaiah 59:20; Matthew 1:21. The design of Peter in these remarks was to show them that the Messiah had come, and that now they might look for happiness, pardon, and mercy through him. As the Jews might, so may all; and as Jesus, while living, sought to turn away people from their sins, so he does still, and still designs to bless all nations by the gospel which he had himself preached, and to establish which he died. All may therefore come and be blessed; and all may rejoice in the prospect that these blessings will yet be bestowed on all the kindreds of the earth. May the happy day soon come!

26. God, having raised up—not from the dead, but having provided, prepared, and given.

his Son Jesus—"His Servant Jesus" (see on [1945]Ac 3:13).

sent him to bless you—literally, "sent Him blessing you," as if laden with blessing.

in turning away every one of you from his iniquities—that is, "Hitherto we have all been looking too much for a Messiah who should shed outward blessings upon the nation generally, and through it upon the world. But we have learned other things, and now announce to you that the great blessing with which Messiah has come laden is the turning away of every one of you from his iniquities." With what divine skill does the apostle, founding on resistless facts, here drive home to the conscience of his auditors their guilt in crucifying the Lord of Glory; then soothe their awakened minds by assurances of forgiveness on turning to the Lord, and a glorious future as soon as this shall come to pass, to terminate with the Personal Return of Christ from the heavens whither He has ascended; ending all with warnings, from their own Scriptures, to submit to Him if they would not perish, and calls to receive from Him the blessings of salvation.

Unto you first; the Jews and inhabitants of Jerusalem, who are the lost sheep of the house of Israel. St. Peter did not yet know, that the Gentiles should be called, until he was taught it by the vision, Acts 10:1-48; and though our Saviour had told the apostles that they should be his witnesses unto the uttermost part of the earth, Acts 1:8, they understood it only of those of their own nation, scattered or dispersed abroad, 1 Peter 1:1.

Raised up his son, Jesus; which word does not only refer to the resurrection of Christ, but to his being constituted and appointed to be a Prince and a Saviour; thus it is said, a great prophet is risen up amongst us, Luke 7:16; and, God hath, raised up a horn of salvation, Luke 1:69. Howsoever, it is by virtue of Christ’s being raised from the dead, and carried into his kingdom, that we are blessed. In turning away everyone of you from his iniquities; this is the greatest blessing indeed; hence our Saviour hath his name imposed by God on him, Matthew 1:21, and was called Jesus, because he saves his people from their sins; and without this being saved from our sins, nothing can be a blessing to us, Isaiah 3:11; and, There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked, Isaiah 57:21. Add to this, that if any be turned from their iniquities, it is through the blessing of God in Christ. Unto you first, God having raised his Son Jesus,.... Which may be understood, either of the incarnation of Christ, and his exhibition in the flesh; which is sometimes expressed by raising him up, and is no other than the mission, or manifestation of him in human nature, as in Luke 1:69. Or of the resurrection of him from the dead, and the exaltation of him at the right hand of God:

sent him to bless you; in person, according to the former sense; for he was indeed sent only to the people of Israel, and to them he preached; many of whom were blessed with converting grace under his ministry; but according to the latter sense, and which seems most agreeable, he was sent in the ministry of the word, and came by his Spirit, first to the Jews, among whom the Gospel was first preached for a while, and was blessed to the conversion of many thousands among them, both in Judea, and in the nations of the world, where they were dispersed:

in turning away everyone of you from his iniquities; in this the blessing lay, and is rightly in our version ascribed to Christ, and to the power of his grace, in the ministration of the Gospel and not to themselves, as in many other versions; as the Syriac version, "if ye convert yourselves, and turn from your evils"; making it both their own act, and the condition of their being blessed; and the Arabic version likewise, "so that everyone of you departs from his wickedness"; but that work is Christ's, and this is the blessing of grace he himself bestows, and is a fruit of redemption by his blood, Titus 2:14.

Unto you first God, having {k} raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.

(k) Given to the world, or raised from the dead, and advanced to his kingdom.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 3:26. Progress of the discourse: “This bestowal—in accordance with God’s covenant-arrangements—of salvation on all nations of the earth through the Messiah has commenced with you,” to you first has God sent, etc.

πρῶτον] sooner than to all other nations. “Praevium indicium de vocatione gentium,” Bengel. Romans 1:16; Romans 11:11. On this intimation of the universality of the Messianic salvation Olshausen observes, that the apostle, who at a later period rose with such difficulty to this idea (ch. 10), was doubtless, in the first moments of his ministry, full of the Spirit, raised above himself, and in this elevation had glimpses to which he was still, as regards his general development, a stranger. But this is incorrect: Peter shared the views of his people, that the non-Jewish nations would be made partakers in the blessings of the Messiah by acceptance of the Jewish theocracy. He thus still expected at this time the blessing of the Gentiles through the Messiah to take place in the way of their passing through Mosaism. “Caput et summa rei in adventu Messiae in eo continetur, quod omnes omnino populi adorent Jovam illumque colant unanimiter,” Mikrae Kodesch, f. 108. 1. “Gentes non traditae snnt Israeli in hoc saeculo, at tradentur in diebus Messiae,” Berish. rab. f. 28. 2. See already Isaiah 2:2 f., Isaiah 60:3 ff.

ἀναστήσας] causing His servant to appear (the aorist participle synchronous with ἀπέστ.). This view of ἀναστ. is required by Acts 3:22. Incorrectly, therefore, Luther, Beza, Heumann, and Barkey: after He has raised Him from the dead.

εὐλοῦντα ὑμᾶς] blessing you. The correlate of ἐνευλογ., Acts 3:25. This efficacy of the Sent One procuring salvation through His redeeming work is continuous.

ἐν τῷ ἀποστρέφειν] in the turning away, i.e. when ye turn from your iniquities (see on Romans 1:29), consequently denoting that by which the εὐλογεῖν must be accompanied on the part of the recipients (comp. Acts 4:30)—the moral relation which must necessarily be thereby brought about. We may add, that here the intransitive meaning of ἀποστρέφειν,[153] and not the transitive, which Piscator, Calvin, Hammond, Wetstein, Bengel, Morus, Heinrichs adopt (when He turns away), is required by the summons contained in Acts 3:19.

The issue to which Acts 3:25-26 were meant to induce the hearers—namely, that they should now believingly apprehend and appropriate the Messianic salvation announced beforehand to them by God and assured by covenant, and indeed actually in the mission of the Messiah offered to them first before all others—was already expressed sufficiently in Acts 3:19, and is now again at the close in Acts 3:26, and that with a sufficiently successful result (Acts 4:4); and therefore the hypothesis that the discourse was interrupted while still unfinished by the arrival of the priests, etc. (Acts 4:1), is unnecessary.

[153] So only here in the N. T.; but see Xen. Hist. iii. 4. 12; Genesis 18:33, al.; Sir 8:5; Sir 17:21; Bar 2:33; Sauppe, ad Xen. de re eq. 12. 13; Krüger, § lii. 2. 5.Acts 3:26. ὑμῖν πρῶτονὑμῖν: again emphatic. In the words of St. Peter we may again note his agreement with St. Paul, Acts 13:46, Romans 1:16 (Acts 10:11), although no doubt St. Peter shared the views of his nation in so far that Gentiles could only participate in the blessings of the Messianic kingdom through acceptance of Judaism.—ἀναστήσας, cf. Acts 3:22, τὸν παῖδα, “his servant,” R.V., see above on Acts 3:13. ἀπέστειλεν also shows that ἀνασ. here refers not to the Resurrection but to the Incarnation.—εὐλογοῦντα: as in the act of blessing, present participle; the present participle expressing that the Christ is still continuing His work of blessing on repentance, but see also Burton, N. T. Moods and Tenses, p. 171.—ἐν τῷ: this use of ἐν governing the dative with the infinitive is most commonly temporal, but it is used to express other relations, such as manner, means, as here (cf. Acts 4:30, where the attempt to give a temporal sense is very far-fetched, Hackett, in loco); see Burton, u. s., p. 162, and Blass, Grammatik des N. G., p. 232. This formula of ἐν with the dative of the article and the infinitive is very common in St. Luke, both in his Gospel and in the Acts, and is characteristic of him as compared with the number of times the same formula is used by other writers in the N.T., Friedrich, Das Lucasevangelium, p. 37, and also Zeller, of the Apostles, ii., p. 196, ., also in the LXX the same construction is found, cf. Genesis 19:16; Genesis 34:15, etc.—ἀποστρέφειν: probably intransitive (Blass, Grimm, and so often in LXX, although the English A. and R.V. may be understood in either sense). Vulgate renders “ut convertat se unusquisque,” but the use of the verb elsewhere in Luke 23:14 (cf. also Romans 11:26, Isaiah 59:20) makes for the transitive sense (so Weiss, in loco). The argument from Acts 3:19 (as Alford points out) does not decide the matter either way (see also Holtzmann).—πονηριῶν, cf. Luke 11:39, and adjective πονηρός frequent both in the Gospel and in the Acts; in LXX both words are very common. The word may denote miseries as well as iniquities, as Bengel notes, but the latter sense is demanded by the context. πρῶτον according to Jüngst does not mark the fact that the Jews were to be converted first and the Gentiles afterwards, but as belonging to the whole clause, and as referring to the first and past sending of Jesus in contrast to the second (Acts 3:20) and future sending in glory. But to support this view Jüngst has no hesitation in regarding 25b as an interpolation, and so nothing is left but a reference to the διαθήκη of God with the fathers, i.e., circumcision, which is quite in place before a Jewish audience.

St. Peter’s Discourses.—More recent German criticism has departed far from the standpoint of the early Tübrigen school, who could only see in these discourses the free composition of a later age, whilst Dr. McGiffert, in spite of his denial of the Lucan authorship of Acts, inclines to the belief that the discourses in question represent an early type of Christian teaching, derived from primitive documents, and that they breathe the spirit of St. Peter and of primitive Jewish Christianity. Feine sees in the contents of the addresses a proof that we have in them a truthful record of the primitive Apostolic teaching. Just the very points which were of central interest in this early period of the Church’s life are those emphasised here, e.g., the proof that Jesus of Nazareth, the Crucified One, is the Messiah, a proof attested by His Resurrection, the appeal to Israel, the chosen people, to repent for the remission of sins in His name. Nor is there anything against the speeches in the fact of their similarity; in their first and early preaching, as Feine urges, the Apostles’ thoughts would naturally move in the same circle, they would recur again and again to the same facts, and their addresses could scarcely be otherwise than similar. Moreover we have an appeal to the facts of the life of Jesus as to things well known in the immediate past: “Jesus of Nazareth” had been working in the midst of them, and Peter’s hearers were witnesses with him of His signs and wonders, “as ye yourselves know,” Acts 2:23; we become conscious in such words and in their context of all the moral indignation and the deep pain of the Apostles at the crucifixion of their Master, just as in Acts 3:13 we seem to listen to another personal reminiscence of the Passion history (see Beyschlag, Neutest. Theol., i., pp. 304, 305; Scharfe, Die Petrinische Strömung, 2 c., pp. 184, 185).

The fact that no reference is made to, or at all events that no stress is laid upon, the doctrinal significance of the death of Christ, as by St. Paul, is again an intimation that we are dealing with the earliest days of Apostolic teaching—the death of the Cross was in itself the fact of all others which was the insuperable offence to the Jew, and it could not help him to proclaim that Christ died for his sins if he had no belief in Jesus as the Christ. The first and necessary step was to prove to the Jew that the suffering of the Messiah was in accordance with the counsels of God and with the voices of the prophets (Lechler, Das Apostolische Zeitalter, pp. 230, 231). But the historical fact accepted, its inner and spiritual significance would be imparted, and there was nothing strange in the fact that disciples who had themselves found it so difficult to overcome their repugnance to the mention of their Master’s sufferings, should first direct their main efforts to remove the like prejudice from the minds of their countrymen. But we cannot adduce from this method that the Apostles had never heard such words as those of Christ (Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45, cf. 1 Peter 1:18) (cf. the striking passage in Beyschlag, u. s., pp. 306, 307), or that they were entirely ignorant of the atoning significance of His Death. St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:1-3, speaks of the tradition which he had received, a tradition in which he was at one with the Twelve, Acts 3:11, viz., that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (Feine, Die vorkanonische Ueberlieferung des Lukas; see p. 230).

When we pass to the consideration of St. Peter’s Christology, we again see how he starts from the actual experience of his hearers before him: “Jesus of Nazareth, a man,” etc.—plainly and fearlessly St. Peter emphasises the manhood of his Lord—the title which is never found in any of the Epistles leads us back to the Passion and the Cross, to the early records of the Saviour’s life on earth, Acts 24:9; Acts 22:8. And yet the Crucified Nazarene was by a startling paradox the Prince or Author of Life (see note on ἀρχηγός); by a divine law which the Jews could not discern He could not save Himself—and yet—another paradox—there was no other Name given amongst men whereby they must be saved.

St. Paul could write of Him, Who took upon Him the form of a servant, Who humbled Himself, and became obedient to the death of the Cross, Php 2:6; and St. Peter, in one familiar word, which so far as we know St. Paul never used, brings before his hearers the same sublime picture of obedience, humility, death and glory; Jesus is the ideal, the glorified “Servant” of God (see note on Acts 3:13). But almost in the same breath St. Peter speaks of the Servant as the Holy and Righteous One, Acts 3:14; holy, in that He was consecrated to the service of Jehovah (ἅγιος, Acts 4:27; Acts 4:30, see note, and Acts 2:27); righteous, in that He was also the impersonation of righteousness, a righteousness which the Law had proclaimed, and which Prophets and Kings had desired to see, but had not seen (Isaiah 53:11). But whilst we note these titles, steeped each and all of them in O.T. imagery, whilst we may see in them the germs of the later and the deeper theology of St. Paul and St. John (see Dr. Lock, “Christology of the Earlier Chapters of the Acts,” Expositor, iv. (fourth series), p. 178 ff.), they carry us far beyond the conception of a mere humanitarian Christ. It is not only that Jesus of Nazareth is set before us as “the very soul and end of Jewish Prophecy,” as Himself the Prophet to whom the true Israel would hearken, but that He is associated by St. Peter even in his earliest utterances, as none other is associated, with Jehovah in His Majesty in the work of salvation, Acts 2:34; the salvation which was for all who called upon Jehovah’s Name, Acts 2:21, was also for all in the Name, in the power of Jesus Christ, Acts 4:12 (see notes, l. c, and cf. the force of the expression ἐπικαλεῖσθαι τὸ ὄνομα in 1 Corinthians 1:2, Schmid, Biblische Theologie, p. 407); the Spirit which Joel had foretold would be poured forth by Jehovah had been poured forth by Jesus raised to the right hand of God, Acts 2:18; Acts 2:33 (see further notes in chap. Acts 10:36; Acts 10:42-43).

One other matter must be briefly noticed—the correspondence in thought and word between the St. Peter of the early chapters of the Acts and the St. Peter of the First Epistle which bears his name. A few points may be selected. St. Peter had spoken of Christ as the Prince of Life; quite in harmony with this is the thought expressed in 1 Peter 1:3, of Christians as “begotten again” by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. St. Peter had spoken of Christ as the Holy and Righteous One, so in the First Epistle he sets forth this aspect of Christ’s peculiar dignity, His sinlessness. As in Acts, so also in 1 Pet. the thought of the sufferings of Christ is prominent, but also that of the glory which should follow, chap. 1, Acts 3:11. As in Acts, so also in 1 Pet. these sufferings are described as undeserved, but also as foreordained by God and in accordance with the voices of the Prophets, 1 Peter 1:11; 1 Peter 2:22-25. As in Acts, so in 1 Pet. it is the special task of the Apostles to be witnesses of the sufferings and also of the resurrection of Christ, chap. Acts 5:1. As in Acts, so in 1 Pet. we have the clearest testimony to the δόξα of Christ, 1 Peter 1:21; 1 Peter 4:11. As in Acts stress is laid not only upon the facts of the life of Christ, but also upon His teaching, Acts 10:34 ff., so also in 1 Pet., while allusions are made to the scenes of our Lord’s Passion with all the force of an eye-witness, we have stress laid upon the word of Christ, the Gospel or teaching, Acts 1:12; Acts 1:23; Acts 1:25, Acts 2:2; Acts 2:8, Acts 3:19, Acts 4:6. As in Acts, so in 1 Pet. we have a reference to the agency of Christ in the realm of the dead, 1 Peter 3:19; 1 Peter 4:6. As in Acts, Acts 10:42, so in 1 Pet. Christ is Himself the judge of quick and dead, Acts 4:6, or in His unity with the Father shares with Him that divine prerogative, cf. Acts 1:17. As in Acts, so in 1 Pet. the communication of the Holy Spirit is specially attributed to the exalted Christ, cf. Acts 2:33, 1 Peter 1:11-12. As in Acts, so in 1 Pet. Christ is the living corner-stone on which God’s spiritual house is built, Acts 4:12 and 1 Peter 2:4-10. As in Acts, so in 1 Pet. not only the details but the whole scope of salvation is regarded in the light and as a fulfilment of O.T. prophecy, cf. Acts 3:18-25, 1 Peter 2:22-23; 1 Peter 1:10-12. But this correspondence extends to words, amongst which we may note πρόγνωσις, Acts 2:23, 1 Peter 1:2, a word found nowhere else in the N.T., and used in each passage in the same sense; ἀπροσωπολήμπτως, 1 Peter 1:17, and only here in N.T., but cf. Acts 10:34, οὐκ ἐστιν προσωπολήμπτης. ξύλον twice used by St. Peter in Acts 5:30; Acts 10:39 (once by St. Paul), and again in 1 Peter 2:24; ἀθέμιτος only in the Cornelius history, Acts 10:28, by St. Peter, and in 1 Peter 4:3; μάρτυς with the genitive of that to which testimony is rendered, most frequently in N.T. used by St. Peter, cf. Acts 1:22; Acts 6:13; Acts 10:39, and 1 Peter 5:1; and further, in Acts 4:11 = 1 Peter 2:7, Acts 10:42 = 1 Peter 4:5, the verbal correspondence is very close.

See on the whole subject Nösgen, Apostelgeschichte, p. 48; Lechler, Das Apost. Zeitalter, p. 428 ff.; Scharfe, Die Petrinische Strömung, 2 c., p. 122 ff.; Lumby, Expositor, iv. (first series), pp. 118, 123; and also Schmid, Biblische Theologie, p. 389 ff. On the striking connection between the Didache 1, and the language of St. Peter’s sermons, and the phraseology of the early chapters of Acts, see Gore, Church and the Ministry, p. 416.26. Unto you first] That the Jews might first receive the blessing themselves, and then spread it abroad.

God, having raised up] Not spoken here of the resurrection of Jesus, but recalling the promise of Moses (Acts 3:22) that a prophet should be raised up and sent unto the people.

his Son Jesus] his Servant (as Acts 3:13). The best authorities omit Jesus.

sent him to bless you] by the times of refreshing alluded to Acts 3:19. The way and means to which blessing is to be by the repentance and turning again to which the Apostle has been exhorting them.Acts 3:26. πρῶτον, first) A previous intimation as to the call of the Gentiles.—ἀναστήσας, having raised up) of the seed of Abraham.—παῖδα) Acts 3:13 [His servant, not His Son, as Engl. Vers.]—εὐλογοῦντα, blessing) This is deduced from Acts 3:25.—ἐν τῷ ἀποστρέφειν) Active: in turning away. Christ is He who turns away both us from wickedness, and ungodliness from us: Romans 11:26, “There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” It is a thing not to be done by human strength.—πονηριῶν) wickednesses, iniquities, whereby the blessing is impeded. Πονηρία denotes both wickedness and misery.Verse 26. - Servant for Son Jesus, A.V. and T.R.; your for his, A.V. Unto you first. In virtue of the covenant, the first offer of salvation was made to the Jews (see Acts 1:8; Acts 13:26, 46; Luke 24:47; Romans 2:10, etc.; comp. Matthew 15:24). His Servant (as in ver. 13). As regards the phrase, "having raised up," however natural it is at first sight to understand it of the raising from the dead, the tenses make it impossible to do so. Nor could it be said that God sent Jesus to bless them after his resurrection. We must, therefore, understand ἀναστήσας as to be equivalent to ἐξαγείρας, and to mean "having appointed," set up, raised up (as the English word is used, Luke 1:69; Romans 9:17). In this sense God raised up his Servant by the incarnation, birth, anointing, and mission to be the Savior. To bless you; to fulfill to you the blessing promised to Abraham's seed. In turning away, etc., deliverance from sin being the chief blessing which Christ bestows upon his people (so Acts 5:31, repentance is spoken of as Christ's great gift to Israel). So closed the second great apostolic sermon.



His Son Jesus

The best texts omit Jesus. Render servant for son, and see on Acts 3:13.

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