Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost…
I. THE APOSTLE APPLIES HIMSELF TO HIS AUDITORY IN A FAIR, GENTLE MANNER. We have a word amongst us in familiar use — "compliment"; and for the most part in an ill sense, for the heart of a speaker does not always answer his tongue. But God forbid but a true heart and a fair tongue might very well consist together. He aggravates his condemnation who gives me fair words and means ill; but he gives me a rich jewel in a choice cabinet, precious wine in a clean glass, who intends and expresses his good intentions well.
II. So the apostle is civil here; but his civility does not amount to flattery; and therefore, though he gives his audience their titles, HE PUTS HOME TO THEM THE CRUCIFYING OF CHRIST. How honourably soever they were descended, he lays that murder close to their consciences. It is one thing to sew pillows under the elbows of kings, as flatterers do, and another to pull the chair from under them, as seditious men do. When inferiors insult over their superiors, we tell them they are the Lord's anointed; and when such superiors insult over the Lord Himself, we must tell them, "Though you be the Lord's anointed, yet you crucify the anointed Lord"; for this was Peter's method, though his successor will not be bound by it.
III. When he hath carried the matter thus evenly between them, HE ANNOUNCES A MESSAGE. "Let all the house of Israel know assuredly." Need the house of Israel know anything? Need the honourable to be instructed? Yes, for this knowledge is such that the house of Israel is without a foundation if it be without it. Let no Church or man think that he hath done enough or known enough. The wisest must know more, though they be the house of Israel; and then, though you have crucified Christ, you may know it. St. Paul says, "If they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory" (1 Corinthians 2:8); but he never says they are excluded from the knowledge. The wisest have ever something to learn; they must not presume. The sinfullest have God ever ready to teach them; they must not despair. Now the universality of this mercy God has extended very far, in that He proposes it even to our knowledge: "Let all know it." And therefore it is not enough for us to tell you except you believe all this you shall be damned, without we execute that commission before, "Go and preach"; and it is not enough for you to rest in imaginary faith and easiness of believing, except you know what, why, and how you believe. The implicit believer stands in an open field, and the enemy will ride over him easily; the understanding believer is a fenced town, and hath outworks to lose before the town be pressed — i.e., reasons to be answered before his faith be shaked. Let all men know — i.e., inform themselves and understand.
IV. THE PARTICULAR WHICH ALL WERE TO KNOW was that this same Jesus whom they crucified was exalted. Suppose an impossibility: if we could have been in paradise, and seen God make of a clod a body fit for an immortal soul — fit for God the Son to dwell in, and fit for a temple of the Holy Ghost, should we not have wondered more than at the production of all other creatures? It is more that this same crucified Jesus should be exalted to the right hand of the glorious God. Let, then, sinners pass through their several sins, and remember with wonder and confusion that the Jesus whom they have crucified is exalted above all. How far exalted? Three steps carry Him above St. Paul's third heaven.
1. God made Him so, not nature. The contract between the Father and Him that all He did should be done so — this is what hath exalted Him, and us in Him.
2. God made Him Christ — i.e., anointed Him above His fellows.
3. God made Him Lord. But what kind of Lord, if He had no subjects? God hath given Him these too (Romans 14:9).
(J. Donne, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.