Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.Acts 2:1-13. The Holy Ghost given at Pentecost. Effect first produced thereby on the dwellers at Jerusalem
1. the day of Pentecost] The second of the three great Jewish feasts, the Passover being the first, and the third, the feast of Tabernacles. Pentecost is the Greek name of the feast, derived from Pentecostos = fiftieth; because it was kept on the fiftieth day after the Passover-Sabbath. In the Law it is called “the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours” (Exodus 23:16), and also, from being seven weeks after the Passover, it is named “the feast of weeks” (Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:9-10). The offering in this festival was the two first loaves made from the first portion of the wheat-harvest of the year, as a thank-offering.
This day was perhaps chosen for the outpouring of the Spirit upon the Apostles, that there might be a greater multitude present in Jerusalem, and so the tidings of this gift might at once be spread abroad. It is perhaps for this reason that the very word employed is one which indicates that the day was fully come, and so all that were intending to be present at the feast were there. We find in Acts 9:2 that there were Christians at Damascus before we read of any one of the Apostolic band visiting that city. It may well be that among those who saw the gifts now bestowed, and whose hearts were pierced by Peter’s sermon, there were some who went forth to this and other cities, bearing the fame and teaching of the new society along with them. In like manner, we cannot doubt that it was in order that more might hear His words, that our Lord so frequently went to Jerusalem at the feasts. (John 4:45; John 5:1; John 7:10; John 10:22, &c.)
they were all with one accord in one place] The best MSS. have they were all together in one place. Doubtless in the upper room where the Apostles abode, and where the disciples had met for the election of Matthias.
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.2. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind] Rather, of the rushing of a mighty wind, lit., of a mighty wind borne along. The verb employed to express the rushing of the wind is used by St Peter (2 Ephesians 1:17-18) of “the voice which came from heaven” at the Transfiguration, also (Acts 1:21) of the gift of prophecy, and the motion of the prophets by the Holy Ghost.
And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.3. cloven tongues like as of fire] Better, tongues like as of fire parting asunder; cf. Isaiah 5:24, where the Hebrew has “tongue of fire” while the A. V. gives only “fire.” It is also to be noticed that the appearance is not called fire, but only compared unto fire. The idea conveyed by the verb is that the flamelike tongues were distributing themselves throughout the assembly, and the result is expressed by what follows; and it sat upon each of them. The intention of the writer is to describe something far more persistent than meteoric light or flashes of electricity. The sound which is heard fills the house, and the flames rest for some time on the heads of the disciples. (See Acts 2:33.)
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.4. This verse describes a great miracle, and its simplicity of statement marks it as the record of one who felt that no additional words could make the matter other than one which passed the human understanding.
they began to speak with other tongues] Spoken of as new tongues (Mark 16:17). It means languages which they had not known before, and from the history it would appear that some of the company spake in one and some in another language, for the crowd of foreigners, when they come together, all find somebody among the speakers whom they are able to understand.
And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.5. there were dwelling at Jerusalem, &c.] Probably, in addition to the visitors, many religious Jews from foreign parts were permanent residents in Jerusalem, for it was to the Jew a thing much to be desired, that he might die and be buried near the Holy City. It is said (T. B. Kethuboth, III a), “Everyone that is buried in the land of Israel is in as good case as if he were buried under the altar,” and there are many other like expressions in the immediate context of this quotation. That among the crowd were some residents seems the more likely, because when they recognized the new tongues, some asked as though they were acquainted with the speakers, “Are not these men Galilæans?”
devout men] The adjective is used of the aged Simeon (Luke 2:25), and of the men who carried Stephen to his burial (Acts 8:2).
out of every nation under heaven] Hyperbole, as we use from every part of the world. So (Josephus, B. Jud. ii. 16. 4) Herod Agrippa says, “There is not a nation in the world which does not contain some of us” (Jews). Cp. Acts 2:10, note on Libya.
Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.6. Now when this was noised abroad] Rather, And when this sound was heard. Φενή though not the same word as is used for sound in Acts 2:2, yet is never found in the sense of a report or rumour, as is given by the A. V. It is used for crying aloud, as in the mourning at Rama and Christ’s cry on the cross (Matthew 2:18), or in John the Baptist’s preaching (Mark 1:3), and of voices from heaven frequently (Matthew 17:5; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22; Acts 9:4, &c.), of the sound of the wind which is used as a figure for the gift of the Spirit in Christ’s conversation with Nicodemus (John 3:8), and constantly of the heavenly voices in the book of the Revelation (Acts 1:10, Acts 5:2; Acts 6:6, &c.).
The sound which was sent forth, though heard around in the city, was evidently such as could be traced to a central spot, for to the dwelling of the Apostles, led by the sound, the multitude congregated. It would need but a brief space for a crowd to assemble, and all the new comers found among the disciples, now divinely prepared to be Christ’s heralds, some who were declaring what had come to pass, and the great things which God had wrought with them, in the different languages of the lands where the strangers had been born. This was clearly not a proclamation of the wonderful works of God in some one language, which the Spirit, acting upon the hearers, caused them to appreciate as if it were their own, for in that way the gift of the Holy Ghost ought to have been described as poured out, not on the speakers but on the listeners.
And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?7. Galileans] No doubt the twelve came more prominently forward than the rest, and in Jerusalem they had been known as Galilæans before the Crucifixion (Matthew 26:69-73).
And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?8. every man in our own tongue] i.e. language. There is no description here of any jargon or incoherent speech, we are told of utterances tested by the ears of those who had spoken these languages from their youth. The only question on which from St Luke’s description we are left in uncertainty is this: whether the disciples did or did not understand the new words which they were enabled to utter. The only other place in the New Testament which throws any light on this matter is St Paul’s first Epistle to the Corinthians. For a consideration of the expressions which St Paul there employs concerning these marvellous gifts, see note after Acts 2:13.
Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,9, 10. Under all the nationalities mentioned in this and the following verse we are to understand the Jews, either by birth or conversion (as is indicated in the case of Rome), whose homes were in the countries named.
Parthians] A people who occupied a wide extent of country south of the Caspian Sea, from which they were separated by Hyrcania. They stretched in the Apostolic times from India to the Tigris, and no doubt stand foremost in this list because of their great fame among the nations of the time.
Medes] Their country lay east of Assyria, north-west of Persia and south and south-west of the Caspian Sea.
Elamites] These dwelt in the district known to the Greeks and Romans as Susiana. It lay at the north of the Persian Gulf and was bounded on the west by the Tigris, touching Media on the north and Persia on the south and east. They were a Semitic people, perhaps taking their name from Elam, son of Shem (Genesis 10:22). “Shushan in the province of Elam” is mentioned Daniel 8:2.
Mesopotamia] The country between the Euphrates and the Tigris.
Judea] These would comprise the Jews from the neighbouring towns.
Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia] These were all countries within Asia Minor, Pontus lying in the N. E. and forming, on the north, part of the shore of the Euxine. Cappadocia was south of Pontus, Phrygia was westward of Cappadocia, separated from it by Lycaonia, while Pamphylia stretched on the south coast of Asia Minor between Lycia on the W. and Cilicia on the E. By Asia in this verse, and everywhere else in the Acts, is meant the Roman province known as Proconsular Asia. It comprised all the western coast of Asia Minor and may be roughly considered as embracing the countries known as Mysia, Lydia and Caria. Its capital was Ephesus, and in this district were the seven churches of the Apocalypse.
Egypt] The cities of the north of Egypt, and especially Alexandria, were the abodes of great numbers of Jews.
Libya] was the name anciently applied to the African continent. The parts of it about Cyrene means the district called Cyrenaica. This lay E. of the Syrtis Major and contained five chief cities of which Cyrene was the best known. We find Simon a Cyrenian living in Jerusalem at the time of the Crucifixion (Matthew 27:32). Josephus has a passage (Antiq. xiv. 7. 2) which testifies to the wide dispersion of the Jews at this time, and also mentions specially Egypt and the parts of Libya about Cyrene as full of them.
“Strabo in another place bears witness to this [the wealth and influence of the Jews]; saying that when Sulla crossed over into Greece to war against Mithridates, he also sent Lucullus to put down in Cyrene the revolution raised there by our nation, of whom the whole world is full. His words are: There were four classes in the city of the Cyrenians, that of citizens, that of husbandmen, that of resident aliens, and the fourth of the Jews. Now this last class has already spread into every city, and it is not easy to find a place in the world which has not admitted this tribe, and which is not swayed by them. And with regard to Egypt and Cyrene as being under the same governors and many portions of other countries, it has come to pass that they imitate them [the Jews], and also give special support to companies of the Jews, and flourish from their adoption of the ancestral laws of the Jews. For instance in Egypt there is a special district set apart for the Jews, and beside this a large part of the city of Alexandria is apportioned to this race. And a special magistrate is appointed for them, who governs their nation and administers judgment, and takes charge of their contracts and agreements, as if he were the governor of an independent state.”
 This is specially interesting as it corresponds with what was done in our own country. The Jewish contract is called Shetar, and such contracts were taken care of by the English authorities in old times, and from their name is derived what we now write Star-chamber.
strangers of Rome] Better, sojourners from Rome both Jews &c. We know from the allusions to them in Latin writers that Jews were numerous in Rome (Hor. Sat. 1. 5; Juv. x. 14, &c.). It is most probable that converts from among these Romans founded the Church which we know from Acts 28:14-15 was flourishing there when St Paul first came to that city.
proselytes] Gk. προσήλυτος—one who has come over; here, and generally, of converts from heathenism to the religion of the Jews.
Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,
Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.11. Cretes] Dwellers in the well-known island which lies south of the Cyclades in the Mediterranean, now called Candia. Christianity may perhaps have been spread in Crete also from the converts at Pentecost. Titus was made bishop of Crete.
Arabians] Inhabitants of the great peninsula which stretches between the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf.
the wonderful works] More literally, the great works of God. So (Acts 10:46) of the first Gentile converts on whom the Holy Ghost came it is said, “They heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.” And of those to whom the Spirit was given at Ephesus (Acts 19:6), “They spake with tongues and prophesied.”
And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?12. they were all amazed, and were in doubt] Rather, and were perplexed. The original means they did not know what to make of what they saw and heard. They had no doubt of the facts, for their ears bore testimony that in their own various mother-tongues the great works of God were being published, and they had just said so.
Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.13. Others mocking, &c.] Better, But others mocking said; They are full of new wine. There is no Greek for the words these men, as is shewn by the italics of the A. V.
The sight presented to the bystanders on this occasion was certainly unusual. We cannot but believe that the disciples would be in a fervour of excitement and enthusiasm, and the people who composed the several groups were likely to be no less moved by the account to which they listened in their various languages, coming from the lips of men whom some in the throng recognized for Galilæans, and whose garb and manner would be like that of the ordinary natives of Jerusalem. The excitement exhibited on both sides will account for the remark of the mockers.
new wine] Lit. sweet wine, defined as made of the drippings from the clusters before the grapes were trodden.
In the above description of the events of the day of Pentecost, the meaning which St Luke intends to convey is very plain in every respect, except that we cannot with certainty gather from it whether the disciples, as well as speaking new languages, also understood what they uttered. It would seem most reasonable to conclude that the Holy Spirit with the one power also bestowed the other, and this may have been so in the case of the disciples at Pentecost, even though it was not so at other times and under other circumstances. The only Scripture which bears upon the question is St Paul’s first Epistle to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 12:10 to 1 Corinthians 14:30). There among the gifts of the Spirit the Apostle enumerates “divers kinds of tongues” (1 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Corinthians 12:31), and as what might be a separate gift not included in the first, “the interpretation of tongues,” (1 Corinthians 12:10). He mentions in the next chapter the tongues of angels as well as of men (1 Corinthians 13:1), but not in such an enumeration as to connect the words with our enquiry. It should be borne in mind that all which the Apostle says in the Epistle is addressed to the Corinthians, not as missionary labourers but as members of a settled Christian Church, and he is instructing them what the best gifts are after which they should seek. Now their labours and utterances were to be among their own people and mostly among those already professing Christianity. St Paul repeatedly dwells on “the church” as the scene of their labours, which expression without necessarily always implying an edifice (which however here seems to be its meaning, see 1 Corinthians 14:23; 1 Corinthians 14:27) indicates a Christian community. The Apostle tells them that gifts of tongues are not for these. Tongues are for a sign not to them that believe but to the unbelieving. To speak with tongues was therefore not the best gift to be desired for the Church at Corinth. Yet we can fancy that some members longed for such a power, and it is to such as these that the Apostle’s remarks are directed. In such a congregation as theirs, he tells them, “he that speaketh in a tongue, speaketh not unto men, but unto God” (1 Corinthians 14:2), meaning to teach them that if a man had this gift he would yet profit his neighbours nothing, for they would not be men of a foreign speech like the crowd at Pentecost, or like those in foreign lands which the Christian missionaries must visit. Next he adds “he that speaketh in a tongue edifieth himself” (1 Corinthians 14:4), for he feels the power and tells of the great works of God. The Apostle could wish “they all spake with tongues,” if, that is, there were an advantage to the Church therein, but under their circumstances he rather wishes the gift of prophecy, i.e. power of exposition of the Scriptures and preaching, for them. We next come to those sentences which bear directly upon our enquiry (1 Corinthians 14:13), “Let him that speaketh in a tongue pray that he may interpret.” There were then in the Corinthian Church examples of that division of these closely connected gifts which in the enumeration of spiritual gifts the Apostle seems to imply, some spake with tongues who could not interpret, and others could interpret who did not speak with tongues. And the next words confirm this view, “If I pray in a tongue my spirit prayeth,” (and in this way I edify myself,) “but my understanding is unfruitful.” Therefore the Apostle desires that form of power for himself which in a congregation shall exercise both spirit and understanding. He himself bad this gift in great fulness, but in the Church it is not that which he would desire to use, lest the unlearned should not be able to say Amen to his giving of thanks. For in the ordinary church-assembly if the gift of tongues were exercised, it would seem madness to those Corinthian unbelievers who came in, when they heard a speaker uttering a foreign language to a congregation who were all Greeks, and their minister a Greek likewise. St Paul therefore ordains that if any man speak in a tongue in the Church, he must have an interpreter or else must keep silence. From which ordinance also it appears that there were those who, though endowed with the gift of speaking with tongues, were yet not able to interpret to the congregation the words which they were empowered to speak.
In these passages we have all the references to this gift of the Holy Ghost which seem to help us to appreciate in some degree what its character was. Whatever may have been the case at Pentecost, certainly in the Corinthian Church the power of speaking seems not always to have had with it the power of interpretation, though in some cases it had, and all were to pray for the one to be given with the other. Yet in this whole account it is to be borne in mind that we have no indication that such gifts were frequent in Corinth, but only that the members of the Church longed to possess them. From this wish the Apostle dissuades them, because their duty was to minister to believers rather than to unbelievers, whereas on those occasions where the gift was most markedly bestowed, as related by the author of the Acts, viz. at the house of Cornelius, and in the heathen and multilingual maritime city of Ephesus, as well as at the outpouring on Pentecost, there was the probability of having an audience on whom such a display of God’s gifts would be likely to produce the same kind of effect which had been produced in Jerusalem on the first manifestation.
But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:14–21. St Peter’s Sermon. Refutation of the Mockers
14. But Peter, standing up, &c.] The twelve naturally take the leading place among the disciples, and Peter, who had been spokesman before, begins the general address now, directing it principally to those who were dwellers in Jerusalem and the neighbouring country, for it was more likely to be these who gave vent to the mocking speeches than the foreigners who would better recognize the astounding nature of what had come to pass.
and said unto them] Better, and spake forth onto them. The original word is the same as that used to describe the gift which they had just received. “They spake as the Spirit gave them utterance,” lit. to speak forth (Acts 2:4). St Paul employs it when Festus had said he was mad. “I speak forth the words of truth and soberness” (Acts 26:25).
and hearken] The word is only found here in the N. T. It signifies to take anything into the ears.
For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.15. are not drunken] Wine was drunk by the Jews with flesh only, and, founding the custom on Exodus 16:8, they ate bread in the morning, and flesh in the evening, and so took no wine till late in the day. So Ecclesiastes 10:16-17, by the “princes who eat in the morning” are meant those who eat to the full of all sorts of food and so take wine, and their opposites are next described as those who eat in due season for strength and not for drunkenness.
The paraphrase of this passage given in the Targum is worth notice in illustration of the text of the Acts. It reads, “Woe to thee, O land of Israel, when there shall reign over thee Jeroboam the wicked, and shall exterminate from the midst of thee the offering of the morning sacrifice, and when thy lords shall eat bread before any man has offered the perpetual offering of the morning. Blessed art thou, land of Israel, at the time when Hezekiah the son of Ahaz (who is of the genealogy of the house of David) shall reign, who will be a mighty hero in the law, and fulfil all the duties of the commandments, and then thy princes shall only eat bread after the perpetual offering has been offered (i.e. their eating shall be) at the fourth hour, from the labour of their hands in the strength of the law, and not in faintness and blindness of the eyes.”
third hour of the day] Only one quarter of the day was yet over. The Jews divided the day and night each into twelve parts, which they called hours but which varied in length as the daylight was less or more. When the day was as long as the night the third hour would be nine o’clock in the morning.
But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;16. by (or through) the prophet Joel] Joel calls his prophecy “the word of the Lord that came unto Joel.” The passage is from Joel 2:28-32. The order of the clauses differs slightly from the Hebrew order, shewn in the A.V., but agrees generally with the LXX.
And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:17. in the last days] These words are an interpretation of the afterwards of the Hebrew, and after these things of the LXX. The expression “the last days” is used in the Old Testament to signify the coming of the Messiah. (Cp. Isaiah 2:2; Micah 4:1.) The latter clauses of this verse are transposed in Joel.
And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:18. and on my servants, &c.] The conjunctions of the original demand a stronger rendering. Yea and, &c.
and they shall prophesy] See Acts 19:6, where this is the result of the gift of the Spirit; cf. also Agabus (Acts 11:28), and the daughters of Philip the Evangelist (Acts 21:9).
And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:19. and I will shew wonders, &c.] By the figurative language of this verse the prophet teaches that even when the kingdom of Christ shall have come into the world, mighty troubles shall still prevail. Cp. Christ’s own words of like import (Matthew 24:21-30).
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:20. that great and notable day] Instead of notable we have in Joel terrible. The words of the N. T. are those of the LXX. The Hebrew verbs to fear and to see have often been confounded in that version. On the various senses of this expression cp. Lightfoot, Hor. Hebr. Mark 9:1. The prophecy of Joel was primarily and partially fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, but also looked onward to its destruction by the Romans.
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.21. shall be saved] Eusebius (H. E. iii. 5. 3) tells how the Christians were warned to leave Jerusalem before the destruction, and went into a city of Perea called Pella.
Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:22–36. Recital of God’s witness by the Resurrection to the Messiahship of Jesus
22. men of Israel] As the prophecies which St Peter is about to put forward were given before the nation was rent into two parts, he calls them by a name which points to their union and common descent from Jacob.
Jesus of Nazareth, a man, &c.] He begins with the manhood of Jesus as that which they would all confess.
approved] i.e. publicly demonstrated or set forth. Cp. the words of Nicodemus (John 3:2), “No man can do these miracles that thou doest except God be with him.”
among you] Better, unto you; for the testimony had been given not only among them, but presented unto them, cf. John 12:37, “Though he had done so many miracles before them yet they believed not on him.”
by miracles and wonders and signs] These distinct names are given to Christ’s marvellous works according to the light in which they are viewed. The first name, miracles, lit. powers, is applied to them because they proclaimed the might of Him who wrought them; they are named wonders, because they called forth that feeling when they were wrought; and signs because they point out their author as Divine.
God did] St Peter does not yet advance to the declaration of Christ as God, only as God’s agent, in works which their own eyes had seen.
Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:23. him, being delivered, &c.] i.e. given up unto you, as God had decreed for the sake of man’s redemption.
ye have taken, and by wicked hands, &c.] The best MSS. omit the word rendered have taken. Read, ye by the hand of wicked men have crucified and slain. By the hand of is a Hebrew formula for by means of. Cp. Leviticus 8:36, “things which the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses.” So 2 Kings 14:25, &c.
wicked] Lit. lawless.
Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:25. For David speaketh concerning him] The passage which St Peter quotes is from Psalm 16:8-11, and he argues that it could not be of himself that the Psalmist there spake, for they had evidence that the words could not be truly said of him; but that having regard to God’s promise he spake of Him who was to be born from his line, as identified with himself. St Peter’s quotation is from the LXX.
I foresaw] The Hebrew has, I set. Foresaw is here used as = saw.
Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:26. my tongue was glad] The Heb. has my glory. Cp. Psalm 108:1, where the A. V. has, according to the Hebrew, “I will give praise even with my glory,” while the Prayer-book Version renders “with the best member that I have.”
shall rest] Lit. shall tabernacle.
Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.27. in hell] The Greek word here and in Acts 2:31 is Hades, and signifies the unseen world.
neither wilt thou suffer] Lit. give.
thine Holy One] The Hebrew word in the Psalm contains the idea of beloved, as well as godly or holy. Our A. V. represents the Greek.
Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.28. thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance] Thus the LXX. paraphrases the Hebrew, which gives “in thy presence is fulness of joy.”
Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.29. Here the Apostle begins his argument from the words of David, and at the outset speaks to his hearers as brethren.
Men and brethren] See on Acts 1:16.
let me freely speak] Better (with the margin), I may freely say unto you of the patriarch David that he both died and was burled, i.e. none of you will contradict such a statement. As St Paul using the same argument (Acts 13:36), “David after he had served his own generation fell on sleep and was laid unto his fathers.”
and his sepulchre is with us] thus shewing that after death he did not rise again. The sepulchre of the House of David was a famous object in the Holy City. Among the marvels of Jerusalem mentioned in the Aboth de-Rabbi Nathan (c. 35), we are told, “There are no graves made in Jerusalem except the tombs of the house of David and of Huldah the Prophetess, which have been there from the days of the first prophets.”
On the burial of David in Zion, cp. 1 Kings 2:10 with 2 Samuel 5:7.
Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;30. knowing that God had sworn with an oath] See Psalm 132:11, “of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne.”
that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne] The words represented by “according … Christ” are omitted in the best MSS. The clause as corrected by them would be “of the fruit of his loins one should sit [or he would set one] on his throne.”
He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.31. spake of the resurrection of Christ] Better, of the resurrection of the Christ, i.e. the Messiah, the anointed of Jehovah.
that his soul was not left in hell, &c.] The words for his soul are not found in the best MSS. Read, that neither was he left in hell nor did his flesh, &c. This is an example of a kind of variation from the earliest MSS. which is very common and can be most easily understood and explained. On the margin of some early copy the words for his soul were written as an explanation of the shorter expression used in this verse by the more full language of the Psalm in Acts 2:27, and by some later scribe the words were brought into the text.
This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.32. This Jesus hath God raised up] (i.e. from the dead). The verb here, and the noun translated resurrection in the previous verse, are parts of the same word, and make the statement very forcible in the Greek. David spake of a resurrection, which manifestly was not his own, but here is now come to pass the resurrection of Jesus, of which we all are witnesses. The all is probably to be confined to Peter and the eleven, with whom he is more closely connected in this speech (see Acts 2:14) than with the rest.
Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.33. Therefore being by [or at] the right hand of God exalted] i.e. into heaven. For not only are the Apostles and disciples witnesses of the Resurrection but also of the Ascension.
the promise of the Holy Ghost] called the promise of the Father in Acts 1:4. Christ had told His disciples that the Father would send this gift upon them in answer to His prayer. “I will pray the Father and he shall give you another Comforter … he shall teach you all things” (John 14:16; John 14:26).
he hath shed forth] Better, he hath poured forth. Thus the fulfilment of the prophecy is, as in the original, described by the same word which is put into the mouth of the prophet in Acts 2:17.
see and hear] It would seem from this that the appearance, like as of fire, which rested upon each of them, remained visible for some time, thus making it apparent how different this was from any meteoric flashes into which some have endeavoured to explain away the miracle which St Luke describes.
For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,34. For David is not ascended] Better ascended not. He went down to the grave, and “slept with his fathers.”
but he saith himself] in Psalm 110:1. Speaking as a prophet, and of the same person, whom, though he was to be born of the fruit of his loins, he yet in the Spirit called his Lord. The words of this Psalm the Jews in the discourse with our Lord (Matthew 22:44-45) admit to be spoken of the Christ.
The Lord [Jehovah] said unto [him whom I must even now call] my Lord] as by prophetic insight I foresee how great he shall be.
Sit thou on my right hand] i.e. be thou a sharer of my throne and power. This is a common Eastern expression. Cp. the request of the mother of James and John when she desired places of influence for her sons in what she supposed would be a temporal kingdom (Matthew 20:21).
Until I make thy foes thy footstool.35. until 1 make thy foes thy footstool] To put the foot on the neck of an enemy is an expression for complete victory. This was an Oriental custom (cp. Joshua 10:24). Christ’s enemies are to become His footstool, but His power shall not end then. When they are all subdued His kingdom shall continue and be more glorious.
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.36. let all the house of Israel know] Of course such an appeal can only be made to Israel, for they only had known the prophecies, and received the promises.
that God hath made, &c.] The Greek has more force than the A. V. gives. Render, God hath made him both Lord and Christ, even this Jesus whom ye crucified. This is the close of the reasoning. Jesus, who had been crucified, God has raised from the grave, God has exalted to heaven and set Him on His own right hand, and thus shewn that He is the Lord and the Anointed One.
Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?37–40. Effect of St Peter’s Sermon
37. pricked in their heart] stung with remorse at the enormity of the wickedness which had been committed in the Crucifixion, and at the blindness with which the whole nation had closed their eyes to the teaching of the prophecies which had spoken of the Messiah.
unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles] As specially the witnesses of the Resurrection and Ascension, and being the recognized heads of the new society.
Men and brethren] See Acts 1:16, note.
what shall we do?] To escape the penalties which must fall on the nation that has so sinned against light and knowledge; who have had the true Light in their midst, but have comprehended it not, and have crucified the Lord of glory.
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.38. Repent] This was in accordance with the directions of Jesus before His ascension (Luke 24:47), “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name.”
be baptized] Also enjoined by Christ (Matthew 28:19), and while there the baptism is “to be in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost,” and here it is only said “in the name of Jesus Christ,” we are not to suppose any change made from the first ordinance, but only that as the Church was to be called Christ’s, so in mentioning the Sacrament for the admission of its members His name was specially made prominent. It was belief in Christ as the Son of God which constituted the ground of admission to the privileges of His Church. This made the whole of St Peter’s creed (Matthew 16:16) when Christ pronounced him blessed.
ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost] This is expressly stated to have been given to some of the converts (see Acts 8:17, Acts 10:47, &c.), and we cannot doubt that it was largely bestowed on these earlier penitents.
For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.39. the promise is unto you, and to your children] Just as “to Abraham and his seed were the promises made” (Galatians 3:16), so is it to be under the new covenant.
all that are afar off] Peter knew from the first, we see, that the Gentiles were to be admitted to the same privileges as Israel. But Christ’s commission said they were to preach first in Jerusalem and in Judæa. Peter needed the vision of the great sheet let down from heaven to tell him when God’s time was come for the extension of the work; and though in his dream the natural prejudice of his race was asserted, yet when he awoke he went “without gainsaying as soon as he was sent for” (Acts 10:29), as he says to Cornelius. For Christ’s words had been “Go, teach all nations.”
shall call] Better, shall call unto him. The verb is a compound, not the simple verb.
And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.40. And with many other words did he testify, &c.] Hence we learn that there is no attempt made by the writer of the Acts to produce more than the substance and character of what was here said. And we may be sure that he uses the same rule always, and we need not therefore be startled if we find an address followed by mighty results, even though St Luke’s abstract of it may only extend over a few verses.
testify] The same word is translated charge in 1 Timothy 5:21; 2 Timothy 2:14; 2 Timothy 4:1, and would be well rendered here by the same word. Here the address of Peter was not a bearing witness, but a direction what they were to do.
untoward generation] Lit. crooked. The word is so translated Php 2:15 and might be here. The words “crooked generation” are not strange to the A. V. (Deuteronomy 32:5), and the figure is made stronger by the literal rendering.
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.41–47. The first Converts and their behaviour
41. Then they that gladly received his word] The oldest MSS. Omit gladly. The latter clause of the verse is more literally, And there were added on that day about three thousand souls, i.e. to the one hundred and twenty of whom the Church consisted when the day began.
And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.42. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine] i.e. They allowed nothing to interfere with the further teaching which the Apostles no doubt gave to the newly baptized. The converts would naturally seek to hear all the particulars of the life of Him whom they had accepted as Lord and Christ, and such narratives would form the greatest part of the teaching of the Apostles at the first.
and fellowship] That communion, or holding all things common, of which a more full description is given in the following verses, and which would bind them most closely into one society.
breaking of bread] The earliest title of the Holy Communion and that by which it is mostly spoken of in Scripture. (See Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 10:16, &c.) In consequence of the omission here and elsewhere of any mention of the wine, an argument has been drawn for communion in one kind. But it is clear from the way in which St Paul speaks of the bread and the cup in the same breath, as it were, that such a putting asunder of the two parts of the Sacrament which Christ united is unwarranted by the practice of the Church of the Apostles.
and in prayers] The Greek has the article here, and stress has sometimes been laid on this, as though the Church at this early date had some settled form of prayer. But it is enough to refer to Acts 1:14, where the article is also found, but which few would wish to construe “they continued stedfastly in the prayer.”
And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.43. And fear came upon every soul] The mockers were silenced by what they saw and heard, and were deterred from further opposition even though they did not listen to the call to repentance.
wonders and signs] See Acts 2:22.
And all that believed were together, and had all things common;44. were together, and had all things common] With the words of the angels still in their ears (Acts 1:11), “This same Jesus shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven,” the disciples were no doubt full of the thought that the return of Jesus was not far distant. Such an opinion spreading among the new disciples would make them ready to resign their worldly goods, and to devote all things to the use of their brethren. For so the spreading of a knowledge of Christ could be made the chief work of the whole body of believers.
And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.45. And sold their possessions, &c.] For the money which resulted from such sales would be the most convenient form in which their bounty could be bestowed on those who needed it.
as every man had need] Better, according as any man had need. We gather from this that the first converts kept their homes and things needful for themselves, but held the rest as a trust for the Church to be bestowed whenever need was seen. This is an earlier stage than that in which the money was brought and put at the disposal of the Apostles.
And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,46. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple] The Greek is more emphatic. Render, And day by day attending continually with one accord, &c.
At the Temple they were likely to meet with the greatest number of devout listeners; and we shall find that the first Christians did not cease to be religious Jews, but held to all the observances of their ancient faith, its feasts, its ritual, and its hours of prayer, as far as they could do so consistently with their allegiance to Jesus. We find (Acts 21:20-24) the elders of the Church in Jerusalem urgent on St Paul that he should shew his zeal for the Law by taking upon him the vow of a Nazarite, and should so quiet the scruples of Jews, and of such Christian brethren as were more zealous for the Law than St Paul himself.
and breaking bread from house to house] Perhaps better, breaking bread at home; though the A. V., if rightly understood, gives the sense very well. What is meant is, that the specially Christian institution of the breaking of bread was not a part of the service in the Temple, but was observed at their own homes, the congregations meeting now at one house now at another. The connection of the Lord’s Supper with the Passover meal at its institution, made the Christian Sacrament essentially a service which could be celebrated, as at the first institution it was, in such a room as that where the Passover meal was eaten.
did eat their meat] i.e. took their food, their ordinary meals.
with gladness, &c.] because those who were able to contribute to the support of the poorer members of the Church were delighted to do so, and thus all over-anxious care for the morrow was removed from the whole community.
singleness of heart] Having but one end in view, that the faith of Christ should be spread abroad as widely as possible.
Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.47. praising God] because their hearts were full of thankfulness for the knowledge of Jesus as His Christ.
having favour with all the people] As it was said of Christ, “the common people heard Him gladly” (Mark 12:37), so it seems to have been with His Apostles. The first attack made on them is (Acts 4:1) by the priests, the captain of the Temple and the Sadducees.
And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved] The oldest MSS. agree in omitting to the church, and the literal rendering of the most authoritative text is, And the Lord added day by day together such as were in the way of salvation, i.e. brought into the communion “such as” (literally) “were being saved,” the work of whose salvation was begun but needed perseverance; who had set foot on the way and were heirs through hope of ultimate salvation. By this rendering the Greek words ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό = to the same place, together, which in the Rec. Text are at the beginning of chapter 3, are taken into this verse in accordance with the authority of the oldest MSS.
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
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