PREPARATION FOR PREACHING: CHAPTERS 1:1-2:4
ACTS CHAPTER 2
Remarkable Events Occur in Jerusalem: The First Public Witness of The Resurrection
It is the year AD28 (approximately 34 years after the birth of Christ in BC5. According to the Common Era it was ad34). There is great excitement in the ranks of the disciples. They had been commanded to wait in Jerusalem for the ''promise of the Father" (Acts 1:4). It is to be a momentous event in the development of the Truth in the first century. The drama of the Lord's resurrection and ascension to heaven is to be followed by unusual events that are to involve the apostles. They are to receive the power of the Spirit in a way that would assist their public proclamation of the gospel message. The brethren eagerly anticipate the moment. They number the days with a sense of excitement, as a bride might count the days to her marriage. The Master had prophesied that "the Comforter" would come to them (Jn. 16:7), which he declared was "the Spirit of the truth" (v. 13) to guide them into all truth. It was also to provide them with the ability to preach boldly to the community and to powerfully expound the facts concerning the risen Christ.
The first formal presentation of the gospel, in the name of the risen Christ, is to be witnessed by Jews from near and far. The Day of Pentecost was chosen by the Spirit for this event; and appropriately so, for it not only revealed that the sacrifice of Christ (the passover) was to result in a great harvest (the pentecost), but it typically fulfilled the Firstfruit Offerings of the Law.
The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), the second of the three annual feasts of Israel, occurred between Passover (the feast of unleavened bread, held in the first month), and Tabernacles (the feast of ingathering held in the seventh month). Passover occurred on the 14th day of Abib (when the Lord was crucified), and Pentecost was dated seven weeks later, on the fiftieth day after passover (Lev. 23:16). Passover and Pentecost were held at the beginning of the annual harvest gatherings, and represented the commencement of the divine scheme of redemption, which will be completed in the antitypical 'feast of tabernacles " to be declared in the day of immortality.
The Outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem — vv. 1-4.
It is Sunday, 8th Sivan, ad 28. Tiberius is on the throne (AD 14-37); Pilate is governor in Jerusalem. In obedience to the command of the Master, the disciples remain in Jerusalem for the approaching festival of Pentecost. They are excited at the prospect of the fulfilment of the Lord's earlier prophecy concerning "the comforter" which would bring all things to their remembrance and understanding (Jn. 14:26). It is an important time in the development of the ecclesia.
"And when the day of Pentecost" — Fifty days were counted from the sabbath following Passover (Lev. 23:15) for the celebration of Pentecost, which commemorated the giving of the Law to Moses. Significant offerings were made on this day (see vv. 17-20).
On this occasion, as on the first Pentecost in the wilderness, it was actually fifty-three days after the lamb was slain on the 14th Abib.
"was fully come" — Gr. sumplerous-thai: "accomplishing;" i.e., in process of fulfilment. The disciples ensured they were in Jerusalem for this very purpose, awaiting the new revelations that the Lord promised (Lk. 24:51-52).
"they were all with one accord" — The principle of unity was established in the assembly of the disciples. This phrase is repeated in the record of Acts (see ch. 1:14).
"in one place" — Not the temple, but the house in Jerusalem (v. 12; 1:13). It was early morning (ch. 2 :15).
All With One Mind Verse 1
The word rendered "one accord" [homothumadon] occurs eleven times in Acts; the only other occurrence is in Rom. 15:6. Its usage here is significant. "They were all with one mind in the same place" (Diag.). Had they not all been "of one mind" God could not have poured out His Spirit-power upon them. Can we imagine an indiscriminate dissemination of the Spirit upon a number of people who held differing beliefs and philosophies and ambitions?
Similarly, can present-day ecclesias expect to receive the blessing of Yahweh upon their efforts and activities if they are not "of one mind" in the essential elements of the Truth? Paul told the Philippians to be "of one accord, of one mind..." and that they should be "with one mind, striving together" (ch. 2 :2; 1:27). Peter exhorted the brethren: "Be ye all of one mind" (1 Pet. 3:8).
When brethren are not of one mind, there will be a lack of harmonious understanding; there will be different motives and motivation; different objectives; different attitudes towards the teaching of Scripture. Then the standards of belief and practice will differ.
Would Yahweh have poured out His Spirit upon a group of men who would use that power for differing purposes, their intentions resulting from differing motives? What chaos would have resulted!
This phrase, in this context, is therefore a dynamic expression, showing the necessity for true unity and oneness of mind within the body of believers. This state will only be attained when the members of an ecclesia are all moved by the power of the Word, being fully committed thereto and not to their own cause, ideals or ambitions, selflessly dedicating themselves to the cause of Christ, and to no others.
The Significance of Pentecost
The word "Pentecost" only occurs three times in the Scriptures (Acts 2:1; 20:16; ICor. 16:8), being a Greek word meaning fiftieth. In the Old Testament the feast is known as "the feast of weeks" (Exo. 34:22), in which the people were enjoined to present a freewill offering in acknowledgement of the benefits received from Yahweh (Deu. 16:10). The feast was to be the source of great rejoicing involving all members of each family (v. 11).
Closely associated with the feat of Passover, which was held on the 14th day of the first month (Abib), Pentecost was held fifty days later. It was therefore necessary for the people to carefully count each day after the Passover sabbath, so as to accurately ascertain the proper date for Pentecost (Lev. 23:15). It was intended to be a time of great anticipation, as the people's attention was riveted on the counting of the days.
Two Firstfruits Presented
A sheaf of the firstfruits was offered on the first day of the week following Passover (v. 11), and fifty days later, came the Feast of Weeks (or Pentecost). It was so named to emphasise the waiting and counting for that specific period. Then, on the fiftieth day from the presentation of the first sheaf at Passover, there was another offering of firstfruits, but this time not a sheaf (v. 12), but "two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto Yahweh" (v. 17). These were made from the first gatherings of the wheat harvest, and were uniquely identified with the first offering, although other elements were introduced. The second offering of two loaves was to be baken with leaven.
As barley ripened much earlier than any of the other grain crops, the first sheaf was generally of this crop. Fifty days later the wheat would have ripened and been reaped, ready for the preparation of the two wave loaves. These were of fine flour being made from the fresh corn of the recent harvest (speaking of the purity of the Spirit), but baken with leaven (typical of sin's flesh), and were styled "a new meal offering" (v. 16; Num. 28:26).
The Significance of the Two Offerings
The first sheaf offered at the time of Passover, represents the Lord Jesus Christ, brought from the dead by the blood of the everlasting covenant (cp. 1Cor. 5:7-8; IPet. 1:19). The presentation of the single sheaf of the firstfruits on the 16th day of Abib (on this occasion, the first day of the new week) represents the divine "acceptance" of the Lord Jesus by the Father following his resurrection (Lk. 24:1-3). He was the true firstfruits of the true harvest of the earth, being the first to rise from mortality to eternal life (I Cor. 15:20, 23; Acts 26:23; Rev. 1:5; Col. 1:18).
The two wave loaves with leaven (Lev. 23:17) that followed, typify the Christ community of believers. The leaven represents "malice and wickedness" (1Cor. 5:8). Although transgression was not found in the Master, for he "did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth" (IPet. 2:22), this cannot be said of his disciples. Every one has experienced transgression, and this was pointedly demonstrated by the law specifying leaven to be included in the loaves.
The two leavened loaves represent the multiplicity of believers developed out of Jew and Gentile (Eph. 2:13); from the living and the dead (2Tim. 4:1). They are the end product of the wheat — the grain having been removed from its natural sheaf, ground and baked into bread. This reveals the process of redemption by which sinners become saints.
The day of Pentecost, therefore, represented the second offering to God from theharvest of humanity. The first, His beloved Son, was offered at Passover; the sec ond, the typical two wave loaves, were presented fifty days later, at Pentecost.
Ultimately, the third great festival, Tabernacles, will be held, at which the full harvest from six thousand years of spiritual labour, will rejoice before Yahweh.
"And suddenly" — The apostles were expecting some remarkable revelation of divine power as the Master had declared. It occurred dramatically and abruptly, bursting upon them in such a manner that they were immediately convinced that this was from God. Their attention was startled by this unusual sound, as if from heaven.
The return of Christ, and the calling to Sinai will also appear "suddenly" (see Rev. 22:20), and take many off guard. Those waiting for this event will similarly be startled by the "voice of the archa ngel an the trump of God" (1Thes. 4:16).
"there came a sound" — They heard the sound (v. 2), then saw the fire (v. 3), then felt its power (v. 4).
Similarly, the second coming of Christ will be prefaced with the sound of the archangel (1Thes. 4:16), followed by the fire of judgment (Rom. 14:10; 2Cor. 5:10), then the change of nature.
"from heaven" — Lit., "from the heaven." This unique experience was the result of divine intervention. It was from heaven, as will be its fulfilment with the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in power and great glory (2Thes. 1:7-8).
"as of a rustling mighty" — The Greek word, biaios, means "by force." It indicates a powerful influence, which was quite violent in its effect.
"wind" — Gr. pnoe, "blast," from pneo, to blow; breathe; hence pneuma. The only other occurrence of the word describes the creative work of God: Acts 17:25. Note that Luke does not state that it was a wind; but that it was "a sound" like a wind.
This phrase can be literally translated: "of a violent blast of wind, borne along..." In such circumstances speech would be impossible. Probably, as they witnessed this awesome phenomenon, the disciples would have been too astonished to even utter a word.
Scriptural principle demands silence at certain times: "Be silent, Ο all flesh, before Yahweh: for He is raised up out of His holy habitation... Yahweh is in his Holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him" (Zech. 2:13; Hab. 2:20). "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God?" (1 Cor. 3:16). Yahweh was about to pour out His Spirit power upon His "temple." It was a time for flesh to remain silent.
"and it filled" — That is, the "sound," not the wind, which is only mentioned as a comparison. This remarkable noise indicating the presence of divine power, permeated the whole room. The apostles would have been startled by this strange phenomenon It recalled the wondrous experience of Israel, when Moses was not able to enter the tent of the congregation because of the cloud covering it, and the divine glory filling the tabernacle (Exo. 40:34-35), or the time when the temple of Solomon was encompassed by divine glory (2Chr. 5:13-14). Both occasions were typical of the greater manifestation of power and glory to be fulfilled at the coming of Christ to Jerusalem. The apostolic experience was a token of the greater time yet to come.
Mary's sacrificial presentation of spikenard, "very costly," was expended in the service of her Lord (Jn. 12:3), so that "the house was filled with the odour of the ointment." Mary's action divided those who understood the reason for it (such as the Master), from those who condemned "such waste" (such as Judas); yet the Lord declared that her sacrifice of the spikenard spoke of his greater sacrifice of life itself. The power and effect of such services extends to others "in the house." Similarly, faithful attendance to the work of the Truth will result in a powerful benefit to others in the ecclesial "room" (see Col. 3:15-16; Eph. 2:21; Heb. 3:6).
Ultimately, when the great Temple of Zion is completed, the power of Christ will "fill" that majestic edifice, as his immortal brethren become the cherubim of his glory, moving throughout the world.
"all the house where they were sitting" — This was probably the centre court usually included in the homes of the time. It was a large open area, that could be covered with a shade-curtain, and which would allow for the 120 (1:15) to be accommodated.
Why Cloven Tongues Like Fire? — v. 3
There can be only one reason. The tongue is the instrument of speech. Most people relate this to "speaking in tongues;" but this view, whilst partially correct, tends to miss the point. The manifestation in the form of "tongues" indicates that these men were being especially equipped to speak forth the pure teaching of the Word of God. Christ had promised: "When he, the Spirit of the truth is come, he will guide you into all the truth" (Jn. 16:13). This is the purpose to which the tongues of fire must refer.
The ability to speak in any language is only obliquely relevant to the basic principle. It was not the diversity oflanguages spoken that was of primary significance; it was the message spoken, the power to be understood as existing in the Word of Truth, the power to lead men and women into a way that could bring eternal salvation.
"Fire" is a symbol not only for divine judgment, but also for divine manifestation. Abram's sacrifice was met with "a lamp offire" (Gen. 15:17). The angel of Yahweh appeared unto Moses in "a flame of fire" (Exo. 3:2). See also Lev." 9:24; Eze. 1:4-25, etc.
"All Filled with the Holy Spirit"
This seems to be a favourite expression of Luke, used only by him: see Lk. 1:15, 41, 67; 4:1; Acts 2:4; 4:8, 31; 6:3, 5; 7:55; 9:17; 11:24; 13:9,52.
There must have been great excitement as the Spirit-power enveloped the assembly. At last it had come, the real "power from on High" for which the sound and fire were but proceeding heraldry. For fifty days they had waited; for seven days they had continued in prayer and praise. Now the promise of the Father (Jn. 14:16-17, 26; 16:7-8, 13-14) was fulfilled, and their expectations were satisfied.
Their great joy was but a token of the more wondrous experience of the future, when the power of Spirit will again rest upon the community of the faithful — not then a small group, but "ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands" (Rev. 5:11); not then only as Spirit gifts, but in immortality and divine strength (Phil. 3:21). What an astounding time of exhilaration and joy that will be!
"And there appeared unto them" —They first heard the sound "from heaven" (v. 2), now they saw the phenomenon: firstly above their heads, the n settling upon each individual.
"cloven" — The Gr. diamenzo, means "divided; separated; parting asunder." From the direction of the sound, the disciples saw approaching a divine flame divided into tongues, resting on each of them, and separating them for the various appointments of preaching. Thus the One Spirit was manifested multitudinously, as John later testified in Rev. 1:4 — where Bro. Thomas correctly translates the words: "the seven spirits which is before his throne" (see Eureka 1:108).
"tongues like as of fire" — The word for "tongues" is glossais. They did not consist of actual fire, but were luminous tongue-like displays of divine power. Fire is often used to represent the Spirit of God (e.g., Rev. 4:5; 15:2; Jer. 23:29). This was demonstrated in the act of sacrifice, when fire became the evidence of divine acceptance (Exo. 29:25); it was revealed in the remarkable manifestation of the "angel of Yahweh" from the flame of fire in the midst of the bush of Sinai (Exo. 3:2); it was seen in the canopy of fire that covered the tabernacle by night (Num. 9:16).
Now, resting upon the disciples, the fire was evidence of the power and divine authority that would accompany the gifts of the Spirit granted to them for the work of God.
"and it" — The singular pronoun to describe the remarkable appearance of the multitudinous cloven tongues like fire, indicates unity in diversity, and illustrates the principle of 1 Cor. 12:6, "there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all." Thus the "it" emphasises the source: the One Spirit which provides the power to redeem (1 Cor. 12:13) and the medium of prayer (Eph. 2:18).
"sat upon each of them" — Conferring divine authority upon every individual present, so that they were commissioned for the proclamation of the gospel and to witness to the resurrection of the Lord. The word "sat" suggests that it rested for some time on the heads of the disciples, indicating completeness of their commission.
"And they were all" — The 120 disciples who had gathered together in Jerusalem (ch. 1:15). Although all received the Spirit gift at this time, it was only the twelve apostles who took the prominent part in the presentation of the gospel message to the community at Pentecost (v. 14), and who were able to transmit the divine power to others, and therefore possessed all nine gifts (see ch. 6:6; 8:18: 19:6). The apostles were particularly prominent in using the gifts to support the work of the Truth and the evidence of the divine authority (v. 43; 5:12; Rom. 15:19; 2Cor. 12:12; Heb. 2:4).
"filled" — As the sound of the Spirit "filled" the house (v. 2), so the power of the Spirit filled each disciple. They became repositories of divine power, enabling them to powerfully present the Truth, supported by "signs and wonders" (v. 19) necessary for the unique circumstances of the first century.
"with the Holy Spirit" — This specific use of the divine power, known as "the Comforter" (Jn. 14:26) was to witness to the resurrecti on of the Lord, and to bring "all things to remembrance" in the work set the apostles to accomplish.
"and began to speak" — They felt a freedom of utterance, resulting from the Spirit which had been promised them (Mat. 10:19-20; Mk. 16:17). The divine power to accomplish this had been figuratively forecast in the miracle of Mk. 7:35, when a disciple felt "the string of his tongue loosed, and he spake plain." Similarly, the apostles were to experience the incident of being able to speak without hesitancy, but with authority and conviction.
Other Tongues — v. 4
The word "other" in this context is of considerable significance. The Greek word denotes "generic distinction" (Bullinger), and simply implies "many other languages," but not unintelligible gibberish, as is commonly practised by evangelical communities today.
The phrase is rendered with the correct emphasis in other versions: "in foreign tongues" (Moff.); "in foreign languages" (Wey.); "in tongues of a different kind" (Wey., mg); "in other languages" (Diag., NIV mg.); "They... began to speak in foreign languages" (JB). Some of the foreign languages which were to be spoken by the disciples are identified in vv. 9-11. The native tongue of most of the disciples was that of the Galileans; regarded as "a somewhat barbarous dialect of the common tongue used in Judea. "
But now they had been miraculously endowed with the ability to speak foreign languages of which they had previously been ignorant. This event was the fulfilment of a remarkable prophecy: "With an alien tongue must He speak unto this people" (Isa. 28:11, Roth.). This is cited by Paul in ICor. 14:21 and applied to the ability to speak in foreign languages. The Lord's words in Mk. 16:17 also support this reasoning: "And these signs shall follow them that believe... they shall speak with new tongues..." (Gr., kainos, "new, different."
"with other tongues" — The Gr. word for "other" is heteros, and signifies the other or different. This represent foreign languages, and in no way suggests the conglomeration of strange and unintelligible garblings and distortions that currently pass for "speaking in tongues" in Pentecostal groups.
The term "tongues" (Gr. glossa) is frequently used to designate "nations" (e.g., Dan. 3:4, 7; Rev. 5:9; Isa. 66:18, etc), and is based upon the incident of Gen. 11, where confusion and disunity of men was sown and ensured by diversity of languages. Previously mankind all spoke "the same thing," but used their ability to "make themselves a name" and to congregate together in opposition to the will of God (v. 4). God intervened, and the language was "confounded, that they may not understand one another's speech" (v. 7). Thus, the place was called Babel, signifying "confusion." In Gen. 12, Yahweh set in motion a process of restoration, calling Abraham to a walk of faith by which, ultimately, "all families of the earth were to be blessed" (v. 3; 17:5).
Abraham's true "Seed" had now come, confirming the Covenant by his death and resurrection. There was now opportunity for "all families to be blessed" and united by faith, in One Spirit and One Voice (Eph. 4:5-7) — and this was revealed in the preaching of salva tion through the gift of "tongues."
So the "confusion" of Gen. 11 was reversed in measure; and the unity of the Truth was seen as the gospel was understood by those of "many nations," both "Jews and proselyte Gentiles" (Acts 2:10) gathered in Jerusalem. Thus, the gift of tongues enabled the many nations to be brought into the One Hope!
"as the Spirit gave them utterance" — In a similar way to the Spirit speaking through the prophets in their own language (ch. 3:21; cp. Heb. 1:1-3). Only here, the disciples were enabled to speak in different languages in a way that they could be understood by those visiting Jerusalem from distant places (Acts 2:8-11). this fulfilled the promise and prophecy of the Lord Jesus in Mk. 16:17, "they shall speak with new (kainos: new; but not unknown or indistinguishable) tongues (glossais). "
PREACHING IN JERUSALEM ACTS 2:5 to 7:60.
This was to commence the first stage of the apostolic preaching campaign, as instructed in ch. 1:8. It is appropriate that Jerusalem should be first selected for the proclamation of the gospel, since it was this city which had been chosen by Yahweh for the glorification of His Name. The Psalmist declared that the Great God was "greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of His holiness1' (Psa. 48:1). Instead, it was at that very place, that they took His only beloved Son, and despitefully used, persecuted and crucified him. The Lord Jesus had prayed for the forgiveness of an unwitting people, and now the time had arrived for such an opportunity. About one quarter of the record of Acts is devoted to the work of preaching in the city of Jerusalem.
As the events of Acts unfold, we might wonder as to how Luke was able to record the details and drama with such clarity. We are, however, able to assert with reasonable certainty, that Luke, the writer of Acts, was not present when Peter delivered the speech recorded in this section. How was Luke able to condense it so masterfully, and yet present it in such a fashion? In Luke 1:1-3 he reveals:  that he had received his information direct from many of those who had heard the speech, and  he had parkelouthekoti acribos, "researched and accurately traced" all things. Therefore, he was now able to write kathexes, consecutively, with method.
But there is more to it than even this. His writing was watched over by the indwelling Holy Spirit in both himself and his informants, as Jesus had promised: "that one (ekeinos) shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance" (Jn. 14:26). It is therefore certain that we have an accurate record of what Peter said on that memorial occasion.
And what a wonderful speech it was! A model for every public speaker, and every young brother who aspires to that office. It covered every aspect of the complete address:  the questions of "when, where, how, why, who;"  it was completely logical in its step-by-step construction;  each "building block" argument was clearly designated and defined;  it built up to an impelling climax, with a challenge and an appeal
Notice the construction:
ch. 2:14-21 — addressed to "Ye men of Judea, and all [ye] that dwell at Jerusalem." Specifically included are those of local residence in the city and land.
ch. 2:22-28 — addressed to "Ye men of Israel." This embraced aneres Israelitai, the "men Israelites" from all quarters of the civilised world.
ch. 2:29-35 — addressed to "men [and] brethren." The G reek is aneres adelphoi, "men, brethren." There is no separation between the two groups; thosepresent were all fellow-Jews, who knew the Scriptures.
ch. 2:36 — the final challenge, addressed to "all the house of Israel." It included not only those then present in Jerusalem, but Israelites worldwide.
The challenge was overwhelming to many of Peter's hearers, but to very few of their descendants through the ages, to this day. And they will continue to feel the "effects" of their rejection of this Jesus until he returns as "Lord and Christ," being their redeemer, as promised through Peter (vv. 34-36), and by David before him(Psa. 110:1).
The First Impression — vv. 5-13.
The city is filled with visitors from many parts of the Jewish world, attending the great Feast. They are about to witness the awesome manner in which the gospel of salvation is to be preached on this day of Pentecost. They are about to see a group of unlearned and ignorant fishermen present a detailed and convincing exposition of the Scriptures.
"And there were dwelling" — The word means "sojourning," and is so translated by the Diaglott and Rotherham.
"at Jerusalem Jews" — Many wealthy Jews from foreign parts retained a permanent dwelling in Jerusalem, mainly for use during their annual pilgrimage; there was also a long-held custom that Jews desired to die near the city, so as to be buried near the temple. However, many of these Jews would also be local residents, who would be able to readily recognize the particular dialect of the Galileans (v. 7).
"devout men" — The word "devout" (Gr. eulabes) signifies to take hold well; hence "cautious, careful in their reverence," and not easily swayed. The word is used in Lk. 2:25 and Acts 8:2. This company had evidently gathered for the festival of Pentecost, and were intent upon their religious devotions. They were not of the empty-headed class that gather for the apostate religious celebrations today, but were men and women of serious character.
"out of every nation under heaven" — A great company of worshippers had gathered from all parts of the Roman empire to celebrate the feast in Jerusalem, and were representative of the twelve tribes "scattered abroad" (Jas. 1:1).
Picture the Scene In Jerusalem!
Over a million visitors and pilgrims are swarming through its streets, filling every house offering accommodation. A deep sense of religious fervour pervades. It is still only fifty I days since the tumultuous experiences of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, undeniably a man of many miracles, whose body (so the Jews thought) had been slain and buried. But mystery surrounds the whereabouts of his body. Rumour is thai he rose from the dead and has been seen by hundreds (Acts 1:3; 1Cor. 15:5-7). This means that he must still be alive!
But where is he (cp. Lk. 24:18)? What is happening? What does it all mean?
And now, there is another outbreak of miraculous, unexplainable power! Ignorant Galileans are speaking in foreign tongues, in whatever language they seem to choose. It was never so heard before! Confusion and bewilderment is evident in the city. Was the Messiah to appear? Had Jesus of Nazareth really been the promised Saviour? These questions remained yet unanswered.
"Now when this" — The unique events that overcame the 120 disciples gathered together in Jerusalem (v. 1), and the remarkable ability to speak in whatever language was required (v. 4). It would not take long for the news of this phenomenon to spread through the streets of the city.
"was noised abroad" — The Gr. phones, translated as "noised" (there is no Greek word for "abroad"), means "sound" of an unusual nature. The word generally appears as "voice" (as in v. 14; 4:24; 7:31, 57, etc). Here the margin has literally: "this voice having happened." The idea is that the news of the miracle caused a tumultuous sound to be heard in the city, so drawing the curious to the place where the disciples were gathered together.
"the multitude came together, and were confounded" — The word "confounded" signifies "troubled in mind" (mg.) from a word describing the "pouring together" of liquids; thus here it indicates a "pouring together of thoughts into the mind." There was indeed a great frenzy in the Jewish city, as later occurred in the Gentile Ephesus (ch. 19:32).
The incident in Jerusalem reveals the spirit of Babel (Gen. 11:7), for the people could not account for the strange phenomenon. But they were to be brought together in understanding as the "one voice" of the spirit sounded forth from the mouths of many disciples.
The same occurrence will be repeated in a greater extent when the gospel of salvation is preached to all mankind, subsequent to the return of the Lord Jesus and the bestowal of the Spirit power upon his disciples then made powerful through immortality.
"because that every man" — There were no exceptions. Nor will there be when the antitypical Pentecost occurs in the kingdom, and the voice of Truth sounds forth. All peoples, languages and nations will then give heed to the word of God proceeding from Zion (Psa. 64:9; Job 37:7).
"heard them speak" — Confirming the message the apostles had to offer to all men (ch. 1:8). Notice that the miracle worked through the tongues of the disciples, and not upon the ears of the multitude. It was not that the apostles spoke, and their words were miraculously interpreted by each listener. The emphasisis upon the disciples speaking, and this before the multitude actually arrived (v. 4).
"in his own language" — There were no exceptions! As the disciples began to speak to the people who had gathered together, each would have conversed in a foreign language, most likely attracting and separating into groups those from each specific locality. Thus, people from Parthia would have heard their language being spoken and moved to listen to the speaker; those of Media similarly intrigued by the message being presented by another disciple using the speech of the Medes, and gathered into that group.
The Greek word dialektos refers to the various dialects, which would have been used particularly by Jews dwelling in the foreign cities, from which they had come to Jerusalem on this occasion.
The Multitude Confounded
Today's "Pentecostal" and charismatic religions place great importance upon their alleged ability to "speak in tongues." The Scriptures do not support this claim. There can be no doubt that the miraculous power bestowed upon the apostles permitted them to speak in foreign languages. The Greek word dialektos signifies "a form of speech peculiar to a particular nationality." The understanding of this word should be linked with the word rendered "tongues" — glossa, "the tongue, as the organ of speech (Mk. 7:33, 35); the language spoken by a particular people (Acts 1:11)."
The scriptural usage of this latter word is most significant. It occurs in this chapter only in vv. 3, 4 and 11, and only twice more in the book of Acts: chs. 10:46 and 19:6. It occurs in numerous passages in the epistles to the Corinthians (mostly in the context of rebuke for misuse of the gift), and the word never occurs again in the rest of scripture in relation to the miraculous gift. 1Corin-thians was probably written in the spring of ad57; the 2nd epistle in the autumn of the same year. Jude's epistle may well have been written as late as ad81. This means that up to twenty-four years may have elapsed between the writing of Corinthians and that of Jude, without a single mention in any of these epistles concerning the miraculous power of speaking in foreign languages! It is evident, therefore, that this gift was not regarded with the obsessive awe in apostolic times, as it is by modern-day charismatics!
The Spirit-gifts were given to "guide" the disciples "into all the truth" (Jn. 16:13). The apostles understood that this was the real purpose of the gifts — not the ostentatious flaunting of them merely to impress others.
The Disdained Galileans — v. 7
"Behold! Are not all these which speak Galileans?" The question is indicative of the contempt in which Galileans were held by many of the Jews (cp. Jn. 1:11; 7:52). It was no wonder that the people were utterly amazed that such "ignorant" and "unrefined" men should be able to manifest an inexplicable ability as to speak forth confidently in languages they had never learned.
There is a lesson to be observed in this. We should always remember Paul's warning: "We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us" (2Cor. 4:7). There is no godly power inherent in flesh, nor is the flesh able to produce any such thing. Godliness and the power to save, can come only from Yahweh, and it is necessary that it is seen to be so. The elevation of flesh or fleshly authority is demeaning to God and His Word (Mk. 7:13). The demonstration of divine power on the day of Pentecost provides a humbling example of flesh being made subservient to God and the power of His Word. "God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise" (ICor. 1:27). These men who had learned to become submissive servants of God possessed no qualifications of learning or education, as the world understands such; hence, all they had to offer the people was that which had come to them from Yahweh. "Faith comes... by hearing the Word of God" (Rom. 10:17), and by no other means.
"And they were all amazed" — The Gr. eastamai has the idea of "dumbfounded," completely astounded; to be beside oneself (see its use in Mk. 3:21), a strong term describing people overcome with emotion. Particularly is this so on this occasion, since the speakers were without scholastic education, being "unlearned and ignorant men" (ch. 4:13).
"and marvelled" — Gr. thaumazo, which signifies "to wonder;" and by implication, "to admire." It was a most unusual and unexpected circumstance. The divine purpose was to call attention to the remarkable message to be delivered to the people, confirming the resurrection of Christ, and the opportunity for forgiveness (v. 38).
"saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans?" — Evidently a general term to describe the disciples of the "prophet of Nazareth" (Mat. 21:11). The apostles were of Galilee and many of the disciples also (ch. 1:13-14; 13:31; Lk. 8:2-3), for Galilee was the chief scene of the Lord's labours, but the prevailing attitude of the Jews was that "no good thing cometh out of Galilee."
The Galileans were despised as being ignorant (ch. 4:13), rough and uncivilized (cp. Jn. 1:46; 7:41, 52). It was the strange and crude language of Peter that branded him as a Galilean when in the temple court at the trial of the Lord (Mk. 14:70).
The principle being manifested to the Jews in Jerusalem, was that Yahweh does not need the important, highly-educated, sophisticated people esteemed by the world, but achieves His purpose through the "weak things" as society views them, in order to "confound the things which are mighty." These are the "base... despised... things which are not" by which the gospel is most effectively proclaimed (1Cor. 1:27-28).
We need to remember this principle when we might be inclined to use modern, glamourous techniques to preach the simple gospel message. God will strengthen by conviction the plain, down-to-earth presentation of the Truth, and ensure that those He is calling will respond.
"And how hear we every man" —Notice the descriptions: "Every man... our own tongue... we were born..." emphasizing that native, foreign languages were used — not unintelligible gibberish designed t o entertain but not to teach.
"in our own tongue, wherein we were born?" — The people evidently gathered in groups so as to benefit from the words being spoken in their particular language.
"Parthians" — Parthia was a part of the Persian kingdom, located between the Persian Gulf and the Tigris River.
"and Medes" — Media was situated west and south of the Caspian Sea. It was often under the government of the dominating Persians.
"and Elamites" — Elam was part of the Persian Empire, having the royal city of Shushan as its centre (Dan. 8:2). The area was bounded by Persia to the east; Media to the north; Babylonia to the west; the Persian Gulf to the South.
"and the dwellers in Mesopotamia" — A general title for those of the area located between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris. There was a considerable Jewish colony in its capital, Babylon, which had continued there since the exile of the Jews in the days of Nebuchadnezzar. The Jews had established Babylon as the seat of the "Princes of the Captivity," and set up one of the great rabbinical schools. Josephus claims that large numbers of Jews also dwelt in the suburbs surrounding the city (Ant. 15:3:1 cp. 1Pet. 5:13).
"and in Judaea" — Jews from the highlands probably heard the disciples speak clearly, rather than with the harsh Galilean accent (see 4:13), and were similarly astounded at this unique ability.
"and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia" — Provinces of Asia Minor (today: Turkey). The area had been controlled by a variety of rulers, including Syrian, Greek and Roman, so that the colonies were racially intermixed.
Throughout the book of Acts the term "Asia" is limited to the Roman province of Proconsular Asia, which comprised all the western coast of Asia Minor, and does not signify the whole area we know as Asia today. The capital city of the Asia of Acts was Ephesus, and within its area were located the seven ecclesias of the Apocalypse (Rev. 2-3).
"Phrygia and Pamphylia" — Other areas of Asia Minor (see comment above).
"in Egypt" — Vast number of Jews spoke the Coptic language. It is claimed that about 40% of the population of the city of Alexandria, on the Egyptian coast, were Jews. It was in this country that Joseph and Mary sought refuge with their young child, Jesus (Mat. 2:13).
"and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene" — Libya was the ancient name for the African continent, and the "parts about Cyrene" refer to the districts bordering the Mediterranean coast of Cyrenaica in the area of northern Africa, about 750km west of Alexandria.
"and strangers of Rome" — The Diag. and Roth, have "sojourners" instead of "strangers." These visitors to Jerusalem may have later established the ecclesia in Rome, to which Paul wrote his epistle, hoping to visit those he had never met in that city (Rom. 1:8-11, 13).
"Jews and proselytes" — With many Jews residing in Rome, they had attracted numerous Gentiles who had become proselyted into the Jewish faith. As a result of the Pentecost preaching, Gentile proselytes came into the ecclesia, such asNicolas (ch. 6:5), and, some time later, the Ethiopian eunuch (ch. 8:27) who evidently journeyed to Jerusalem for worship.
Three things were required of Gentiles who desired full association with Israel:
 circumcision, the token of the covenant;
 baptism, for ritual purification;
 an offering of animal sacrifice.
This permitted a Gentile worshipper to be involved in the Judaistic religion. The presentation of the Truth on the day of Pentecost, replaced these requirements with those of the gospel message.
Jews of the Diaspora — vv. 9-11
Luke carefully records that "There were dwelling at Jerusalem, Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven" (v. 5). He names many areas in the then-known world (vv. 9-11), for a particular purpose. This list may be a general summary of the effect of the Spirit's work amongst the nations at that time. This is likely since he carefully begins with the Parthians (in the east) and proceeds to list countries and areas, geographically, from the east to the far east. Converts made here at Jerusalem, from so many areas far and wide, would have taken the Truth back to the lands of their birth. Thus the work of spreading the gospel abroad began right in the City of the Great King, on the day of Pentecost.
The Hand of Yahweh was mightily at work in all this, permitting these people to "hear" the power of the gospel message preached in their respective native tongues.
"We Hear... The Wonderful Works of God" — v. 11.
They listened carefully, giving earnest heed to the words spoken. In so doing, through patient attentiveness, they were able to recognize the Truth for what it was. They received the words expounded to them as "the great, grand, magnificent words of God" (lit. Gr.). The expression can be otherwise expressed: "declaring the wonders of God" (NIV); "the great things of God" (Diag.); "the marvels of God" (JB); "the mighty deeds of God" (NASB).
This response to the apostle's teaching clearly indicates the state of mind of the listeners. With humility and reverential joy, they recognized the gospel as the saving power of God at work through the Lord Jesus Christ. They were deeply moved, intellectually and emotionally, by the efficacious grace of God revealed in the "sound doctrine" of the gospel (Tit. 2:1).
Certainly, the Jews who embraced the Truth at this time did not receive it lightly, nor did they accept it with casual, detached insensitivity. They recognized the Word spoken as "great;" "grand;" "magnificent." Yet, says Luke, whilst they were "amazed," they were also "in doubt" (v. 12).
They were astonished, not at the message, but at the miraculous manner in which it had been presented; inexplicable by standards of normal, human behaviour. They were "in doubt" only in the sense that the word indicates they were "thoroughly perplexed" (Vine). Their hesitancy, perhaps even to the point of anxiety, was because they knew they were witnesses to an outpouring of divine power. How, they asked themselves, could they learn and receive such a clear and compelling message of hope from God through such incomprehensible means? Hence they asked one another: "What meaneth this?"
"Cretes" — Inhabitants of the island of Crete in the western Mediterranean. Titus was later commissioned by the apostle Paul to assist the ecclesia established here; and Crete was included on the apostles' journey to Rome (ch. 2 7:7).
"and Arabians" — Jews who had come from the desert areas of the Arabian peninsula to the southeast of Judea.
"we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God — They all heard expressions of the Word, with particular emphasis on the atonement accomplished in the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ. It was appropriate that this should be the message presented to Jews of various nations on the day of Pentecost — for it was the work of God in Christ that later became the powerful testimony in the work of Peter and Paul (see 1Cor. 5:19).
The word "tongues" is the Gr. glossais, and indicates the sound emanating from those who had been so endowed — it refers to the utterance of speech not naturally acquired but Spirit-induced.
In actuality, the countries and areas named in these verses formed a circuit around almost the entire area of the Mediterranean Sea. The immediate results of this preaching were spectacular. "About three thousand souls" responded promptly to the message presented by Peter.
"And they were all amazed and were in doubt" — The Diaglott has "astonished and perplexed." Astonished at the speaking in tongues; perplexed at the doctrine proclaimed.
"saying one to another, What meaneth this?" — They sought for explanations from each other, since it was obvious that something of great significance had occurred, but none had any answer for the miraculous events they were witnessing.
The Mockers — v. 13.
Whilst some were astonished at Peter's words, others were "amazed" and "in doubt" at the multi-lingual rendering of his speech to the multitude. But there were also "others mocking." This latter group represents another class altogether. The word heteros ("others") is a distinctive word. It is a stronger word than alias, which has a similar meaning. Heteros indicates a clear distinction between men of contrasting views and philosophies, or conflicting lines of thought. Those of v. 12 were not questioning the authenticity or trustworthiness of the message, but these men were certainly doing so. It is the same word as rendered "let... another his bishoprick take" (ch. 1:20). It has also been rendered "another king arose..." (ch. 7:18). Many other examples can be seen where the word indicates a complete difference or contrast. These "others" were undoubtedly antagonistic to the words of the apostle. The Word of God is a great divider — not that Yahweh intended it to be so, but since the days of Cain and Abel it has inevitably been so; for "the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other" (Gal. 5:17). It is no wonder that, in view of their willingness to remain spiritually blind, they "mocked" (lit. "to make fun of; to jeer at") the Word of God. The only other occurrence of this word is in Acts 17:32, where the circumstances are similar.
"Others" — Gr. heteroi, those of a different, discordant class. Perhaps local residents who were familiar with the recent crucifixion, but endeavoured to discount those events, remembering that the elders of Jerusalem had asserted that Jesus' "disciples came by night, and stole him away" from the grave while the soldiers slept (Mat. 28:13). They now ridicule the testimony of the disciples.
Was Saul of Tarsus amongst the group of mockers? As a fervent champion of the Law it would have been essential for him to attend the festival. Then Luke would have had unique opportunity to later obtain an eyewitness account from one of the most observant, brilliant men then living; even more so from an antagonistic viewpoint. Saul's hatred at the time must have been inflamed by unanswerable arguments and evidence; even as was the Pharisees' against Jesus, as in Jn. 11:46-53.
"mocking said" — The mockers are always present! Here they contrast with the "all" of v. 12 who were from lands afar. These were evidently aware of the teaching of the Master, but were party to his death.
Notice the growing hostility to the preaching of the gospel, in which the disciples were:
- Mocked (ch. 2 :13);
- Ordered not to preach (ch. 4:18);
- Imprisoned (ch. 5:18);
- Beaten (ch. 5:40);
- Stoned (ch. 7:59);
- Scattered by bitter persecution (ch. 26:11).
"These men are full of new wine" — The Greek gleukous is frequently used of a medical wine, being a sweet, highly intoxicating drink, called "must." It was early in the day (see v. 15), and intoxication would indicate intemperate habits — hence the evil suggestion by the mockers. Of their outrageous allegation, one writer has said: "To escape the absurdity of acknowledging their own ignorance, they adopted the theory that strong drink can teach languages! The claim of these men virtually amounted to this.
The First Message — vv. 14-36.
It is time to boldly declare the purpose of the miraculous performance of the disciples, and to present the gospel message without fear or favour. The apostle Peter stands forth to lead the challenge. No longer is he beset with fear and doubts, as was the case during the three fearful hours in the palace court (Mk. 14:66-72). Boldly he faces the crowd in Jerusalem.
"But Peter" — He assumes the leadership, and commences to fulfil the commission committed to him by Christ when at Caesarea, at which time he was given the "keys of the kingdom of heaven." This was the occasion when he had confessed the divine Sonship of Christ (Mat. 16:18-19). The record demonstrates that Peter willingly accepted this responsibility: see Acts 1:13, 15; 2:38; 3:6, 12, etc.
"standing up with the eleven" — The twelve are seen in unison with the gathered disciples (ch. 1:15) to defend their position and to witness to the gospel of salvation. The twelve apostles will again stand up together to receive the acclamation of a great company of people who will be assembled at Jerusalem, and to be invested with authority over the tribes of Israel (Mat. 19:28). Then the message of the everlasting gospel will be willingly accepted throughout the earth (Rev. 14:7).
"lifted up his voice, and said unto them" — To Peter personally was given the responsibility to unlock the gospel to the people, first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles (Mat. 16:19), and now had come the opportunity to commence this important commission. The Jews to whom he spoke heard him in their native tongue, as testimony to the amazing miracle being performed.
The word "said" is apepthenksato, and indicates to utter aloud; to plainly proclaim solemn, weighty, pithy sayings: momentous sayings expressed in few words.
"Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem" — Peter addresses the local Jews and particularly the mockers amongst them. He draws their attention to the prophecies that confirm the miraculous circumstances that occurred, and demonstrates the veracity of their words.
In v. 22 Peter changes his address to "Ye men of Israel," as he proceeds to outline the principles of the atonement accomplished in the Lord Jesus Christ.
"be this known unto you" — This phrase is only found in Acts, and signifies that the speaker has something of importance to declare (see 4:10; 13:38; 28:28).
"and hearken to my words" — Give ear earnestly! Yet another formal phrase employed to emphasise what a great and wonderful proclamation is to be presented — a message to affect the entire world.
The United Twelve — v. 14.
The statement literally reads: "Peter, standing up together, unitedly, with the eleven..." This required a great deal of courage. Here is a fine example of a strong and robust faith ardently at work. Although Peter was spokesman, they stood together, without fear or favour. Though preaching the gospel of salvation, they were engaged in the warfare of faith (Rom. 6:13 mg; I Tim. 1:18). As true soldiers of Christ in this warfare, they were prepared to demonstrate the qualities of stout resolution, loyalty, and unswerving commitment, despite the weight or force of opposition which might be arrayed against them. As one, they now arose to proclaim and defend the Truth through the voice of Peter. This incident provides an outstanding example for believers in every age and generation. "Wait on Yahweh: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on Yahweh..." (Psa. 27:14).
Peter Lifted Up His Voice
Although there was an element present in the audience who had sneered at the apostles, and doubtless jeered them with raucous and unsavoury comments, Peter did not respond in kind. He addressed them respectfully, "not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing" (1Pet. 3:9). Nothing was to be gained from the apostles descending into a mere disagreeable debate with a possibly violent outcome. Peter's objective was singular: to preach the gospel in a clear and positive manner, that he might convince his hearers of the Truth, and the power thereof. This will never be achieved through the use of intimidation, threats, ridicule, or sheer belligerent argumentation. In his speech, Peter is respectful, yet firm and forthright; delivering his words with a calm assurance and conviction. In this, as in other respects, believers in all generations should endeavour to follow this exemplary attitude on the part of the apostles.
"For these are not drunken, as ye suppose" — Peter first rebuffs the mockers and explains the phenomenon.
"seeing it is but the third hour of the day" — That is, three hours from sunrise; thus 9am. This was one of the periods of daily prayer, the time of the morning sacrifice, usually devoted to public worship. In the day of twelve hours (6am-6pm) there were three "hours of prayer" (see also 10:9; 3:1), perhaps in line with the example of David (Psa. 55:17) and Daniel (Dan. 6:10, 13).
A custom had long been established among the Jews that they ate only bread in the mornings and flesh in the evenings, and that they drank wine only with flesh. This procedure was founded upon a strange interpretation of Exo. 16:8. Of course, the Law of Moses made no such demands upon the people, following the conditions which applied during the wilderness wanderings. In illustration of this, Ecc. 10:16-17 refers to the "princes" who "eat in the morning." In commenting upon this passage the Jewish Targum (commentary or paraphrase) states: "Woe unto thee, Ο land of Israel... when thy lords shall eat any bread before any man has offered the perpetual offering of the morning... Blessed art thou, land of Israel... when Hezekiah... shall reign... and then thy princes shall only eat bread after the perpetual offering has been offered... [Their eating shall be] at the fourth hour..." Such was still the recognized custom in apostolic times. Perhaps it was with this procedure in mind that the apostle wrote: "They that be drunken are drunken in the night" (1Thes. 5:7). There was, therefore, some significance behind this charge, and Peter's firm assertion that the accusation was totally false.
"But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel" — Peter quickly passes over the ridicule of the mockers, to explain the importance of the incident. He cites a section of Joel 2:28-32, to indicate that Pentecost was not a complete fulfilment of the prophecy, but only a token of that which is yet to occur, when the fulness of Joel's words would be revealed. There were three reasons for the quotation:  to explain the unique manifestation of the Spirit (Acts 2:17-18);  to give a warning of impending judgment upon the nation of Jewry (vv. 19-20);  to introduce the way for individual salvation (v. 21).
Peter carefully selects this quotation to provide an important prophetic principle. The miraculous gift of tongues was the first thing to be explained, but this was only a means to an end: to draw attention to the grand announcement of salvation through Jesus Christ. The quotation from Joel provided the necessary bridge from one to the other. It began with a description of the unique outpouring of Yahweh's spirit (vv. 15-21), and concluded with the message that salvation was at hand (vv. 22-36). The two events were to occur at the same time; if one occurred then the other must follow. If the first was present, then so was the second! And to add to Peter's important citation from Joel came the message that great and ominous judgment would fall upon those not prepared to accept the offer of salvation (e.g., Joel 2:30-31).
Note, however, that Peter pointedly omits the second half of Joel 2:32. He quotes the final words ("the remnant whom Yahweh shall call" — v. 39), "and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance" are omitted altogether, since this section of the prophecy relates to the national deliverance of Israel at the second coming of Messiah (cp. Isa. 59:20, quoted in Rom. 11:26). Therefore Peter's application was to the events then occurring in Jerusalem.
In the Last Days — v. 17.
Joel's prophecy, quoted by Peter, states: "it shall come to pass afterward..." The question then arises: After what? No doubt the answer is: after the "earthquake" and momentous events described in Joel 2:10. It is quite evident that this prophecy has a major fulfilment at the second coming of Christ. But is it not equally obvious that there was an earthquake at the time of Christ's death? (Mat. 27:50-51). The same passage in Joel also speaks of "the sun" and "the moon" being darkened. And is it not stated that, as Christ was dying, "from the sixth hour there was darkness all over the land, unto the ninth hour?" (Mat. 27:45). There are some remarkable parallels between the terminology of Joel and events associated with Christ's death. The phrase, "the last days" is generally regarded as applying to the Lord's second advent; but it is quite clear that the term is also applied to the Lord's first advent (see Mat. 24:14; Heb. 1:1-2; 10:25; cp. Heb. 9:26; 2Pet. 3:7).
The Spirit Upon All Flesh
The phrase "all flesh" occurs in the Greek text, but certainly cannot be understood literally. What, then, is the meaning of the expression? It would appear that it can only be related to all classes of believers: "Sons... daughters... young men... old men... servants... handmaids..." This statements indicates the end of a long established era when prophets and priests had been the sole recipients of Yahweh's revelations to the nation of Israel. It therefore speaks of the imminent end of the Mosaic dispensation. Malachi stated: "The priest's lips should keep knowledge'' (Mal. 2:7, citing Deu. 17:9-11; 21:5). The latter passage should be rendered: "by their mouth shall every controversy and every stroke be tried..." Now, in this first century AD to provide divine assistance in the spreading and establishing of the New Covenant, many would become involved in various aspects of "proclaiming the divine message; giving warning and exhortation as directed by the Spirit of God" (the meaning of ρropheteusousin, rendered "prophesy").
"And it shall come to pass in the last days" — The phrase "last days" is often used to define the holocaust of AD70; but also points to the time of the second advent of Christ. Joel's prophecy thus has a primary and secondary application.
"saith God" — This is not in Joel, but is an additional comment by Peter, to support the outpouring of the spirit "moderately" (Joel 2:23).
"I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh" — "All flesh" did not receive the Spirit at Pentecost, as the miracle was limited to those in Jerusalem at this time. Hence the experience of the disciples was a token of that yet to come, when the whole world will be affected by the power of the Truth, and the condition of "all flesh" in a mortal state as described in Gen. 6:12-13, will be immeasurably improved.
There was, nevertheless, a demonstration of the extent of the miracle in affecting many different classes of people in the crowd assembled at Jerusalem. There were humble folk, young and old, male and female (v. 14), receiving the benefits of this experience.
"and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy" — This word indicates the speaking forth to edification, exhortation and comfort (1 Cor. 14:3). The sons and daughters are those of Israel, who are strengthened by the Spirit to present the divine wisdom to all peoples. The events at Pentecost were a token enactment of that which will be fulfilled at the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, when the Spirit will be granted to the faithful "children of the living God" gathered together in a state of immortality.
"and your young men shall see visions" — Gr. horaseis: the act of gazing, thus they would observe divine activity, and be able to report the wonders to others. "and your old men shall dream dreams" — Gr. enupniois: to see in sleep. They would be given such visions whilst on their beds, as was Daniel (ch. 7:1).
"And on my servants and on my handmaidens" — The Diaglott has "male slaves (Gr. doulous) and female slaves (Gr. doulas). " There is no class distinction in the work of the Spirit upon those selected. The very humblest servants are used in Yahweh's service (ch. 4:13).
"I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy" — A further comment by Peter, as the words "and they shall prophesy" are not in the Hebrew, nor in the Septuagint.
"And I will shew wonders" — Gr. terata, a sign; a remarkable occurrence. The prophecy was to apply in part to that present generation. There would be a complete upheaval in nation and people, and Peter's words constituted a stirring warning to the scoffer-class, who were prepared to deny the divine power. Their world was about to col lapse.
"in heaven above" — The Mosaic heavens. The Jewish leadership had been greatly concerned by the reported resurrection of Jesus Christ, and now were to feel the effects of the forthright preaching of the apostles. The Jews responded by creating a religious "earthquake" in opposition to the apostles, endeavouring to negate their proclamation (ch. 5:28).
"and signs" — Gr. semeia, a sign, emphasizing the significance of the work wrought. This fulfils the words of the Lord in Lk. 21:33.
"in the earth beneath" — The general company of the Jews was also affected by the preaching of the disciples. Being unable to effectively denounce the power and logic of this witness, the leaders procured men to stir up the people against Stephen (ch. 6:11-13).
"blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke" — These elements speak of sacrifice. The blood represented the life of the offering; the fire was the divine component by which Yahweh indicated His acceptance of the offering; the smoke spoke of the absolute consumption of the sacrifice as a total dedication to God, affecting all those involved. In fulfilment of this prophecy, the Jewish people would become the victim on the altar of Ariel (see Isa. 29), and the nation become completely consumed by the action of the Roman legions who would come against the city and people. Unwittingly, Rome would fulfil the terms of the sacrifice of His people required by Yahweh.
"The sun" — A symbol of the ruling powers, whose influence affected all those under its control. Here it applies to the leaders of Judea, whose authority was to be removed, and the system of Judaism blotted out by the smoke of burning cities — fulfilled in the political demise of Judea in AD70.
"shall be turned into darkness" — The complete removal of the national power of Jewry was the answer of the Deity to the action of the leaders in bringing about the crucifixion of His Son. Then, a period of three hours darkness covered the land (Mat. 27:45), preventing the inhabitants from continuing their preparations; in its fulfilment, the whole nation would be covered with the darkness of oblivion for two thousand years (Lk. 21:24).
"and the moon into blood," — The moon is seen because the light of the sun is reflected from its surface. Hence, the symbol represents the ecclesiastical part of a community, which receives its authority from the civil power. Great calamities would befall the religious system of Judaism in the destruction of Jerusalem, and during that which followed.
"before the great and notable day of the Lord come" — This is the day of judgment to come upon the nation for disobedience (Isa. 13:10; Eze. 32:7). It was fulfilled in the holocaust of Jerusalem and the nation in AD70.
The eclipse of sun and moon again occurred in the removal of the pagan powers of the Roman empire providing for the advent of Christianity (Rev. 6:12-13), and will similarly occur at the end of the Gentile times, as an introduction to the Millennial reign of Christ (see Lk. 21:25; Mat. 24:29).
"And it shall come to pass, that whosoever" — The message of salvation was open to Jew and Gentile, ruler and servant, male and female (see use of the same quotation in Rom. 10:12-13; cp. Gal. 3:28).
"shall call on" — The word epikaleseetai is translated "surnamed" in ch. 1:23. It is not merely an acknowledgement of God as saviour, but means to become related by covenant to the family name of Yahweh, declared at the burning bush in Sinai, and by which there is an extension of the divine characteristics in "sons and daughters" (2Cor. 6:1 8).
"the name of the Lord shall be saved" — Saved from the impending destruction of the "great and notable day of the Lord" (v. 20); from the "untoward generation" (v. 40) in which the disciples found themselves; and ultimately, from the eternal desolation (Mk. 16:16).
"Ye men of Israel" — This form of address is different from that of v. 14, where Peter addressed the audience as "Ye men of Judea..." He now commences the second part of his address. The first (vv. 12-21) specifically addressed local inhabitants, refuting the mocking claim that the disciples were drunk, and warning of impending judgment. This second part is addressed to all the assembled communities, and constitutes an appeal to heed the message of eternal salvation.
"hear these words" — Gr. logons, reasoning. Peter makes an earnest appeal for their attention. This introduction is designed to challenge the audience, and to lay the basis for the message of salvation which is revealed, or indicated.
The phrase "wonders and signs" repeats Joel's quote in v. 19, to show its application to the work of Christ.
"which God did by him" — The emphasis of Peter's description is upon the divine work (cp. Jn. 1:36, and see 5:17, 19). Christ himself had testified to this: "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise... I seek not mine own will but the will of the Father which hath sent me... The Father which sent me, He gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak... I and my Father are one" (Jn. 5:19, 30; 10:30; 12:49). This teaching is endorsed by Paul: "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself (2Cor. 5:19).
"in the midst of you" — The Master had never concealed his divine commitment. He reminded those who accosted him in Gethsemane: "I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing" (Jn. 18:20). There was no excuse for those gathered in Jerusalem, for the work of Christ was not done in a corner (cp. Acts 26:26).
"As ye yourselves also know" — An added point of identification as to the credentials of the Christ. They were well aware of the remarkable events which had occurred throughout Judea in recent times. Note the added emphasis: "you yourselves also..." The people could not refute these facts. Peter thus prepares the way for the announcement of the greatest miracle, sign and wonder: that of the resurrection (cp. Acts 4:14).
A Man Approved of God — v. 22.
It is sublimely appropriate that Peter should introduce the Son of God into the narrative with these words. By this means he would command the people's attention, for none would deny that Jesus of Nazareth had been seen and heard as one of Adam's race. Yet, Peter begins to emphasise, this Jesus had been a very special man. He had been "approved of God." Concerning him it is written: "all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth... " But they remained blind to his true identity, for Luke adds: "and they said, is not this Joseph's son?" (Lk. 4:22). The national blindness of the Jews was without reason, especially since many of them, including their leaders, were forced to recognise that he was indeed a very special "man." "Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him" (Jn. 3:2). At this point, Peter's words would not have excited argument. He therefore continued his exposition, leading his audience to the scriptural evidence which provided proof as to the Lord's true identity.
"Him, being delivered" — Gr. ekdoton: "given out or over, i.e. surrendered." He was surrendered to the leaders of Jewry in order to fulfil the purpose of God as the sacrificial lamb for the "sin of the world" (Jn. 1:29). The Lord anticipated his sacrifice, terming it a "laying down of life" (Jn. 10:17), whilst the murderous leaders of the Jews, who stirred up the people, believed that they were ridding themselves of this despised prophet of Nazareth.
"by the determinate counsel" — Yahweh used the devices of flesh to accomplish the purposes of the Spirit! His purpose in Christ was furthered through the evil actions of wicked men. However, in order to have His beloved Son fulfil the sacrifice required for the redemption of mankind, God remained in control, though flesh did not understand this.
"and foreknowledge of God" — The divine program for reconciliation had been designed by Yahweh from the beginning, requiring a perfect "lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8; Gen. 3:21) that would provide a covering for sin. The word prognosei also occurs in 1 Pet. 1:2, applying to the selection of true believers.
"ye have taken" — It was the action of the Jews in forcing their will on Pilate that resulted in the crucifixion of Jesus. He urged them to "take ye him, and judge him according to your law" (Jn. 18:31). They could execute death by stoning under the Law of Moses, after proper trial, but it was not "lawful to put any man to death" [by crucifixion] for which purpose they had delivered the Lord to Pilate. In doing so, however, the Jews fulfilled the divine Will, concerning "what death he should die" (v. 32). Though the people fulfilled God's purpose, they were motivated by their own desires, and thus guilty of the greatest crime in history. They had performed it with pleasure, in the gratification of their carnal envy, and driven by hate and godlessness. Therefore, according to their own wish, his blood was "upon them and their children" (Mat. 27:25).
"and by wicked hands" — RV, Roth: "by the hand of lawless men." The death of Jesus was occasioned through the means of Gentile Romans, who were outside the law of God (Lk. 23:24. See use of the term in ICor. 9:21). In this the Jews had compounded their crime, not only rejecting and murdering their Messiah, but giving him into the hands of Pilate and his men of war, by whom their malice might be gratified (Acts 4:27).
"have crucified and slain" — Yahweh's purpose was achieved, though the people followed their own choice (cp. Isa. 10:7). Christ reminded Pilate that the governor had not power to delay or prevent the Lord's crucifixion, because God's power was greater, and the crucifixion of Christ was in accord with the divine plan and purpose (Jn. 19:11).
It was required that Messiah suffer the death of crucifixion in order that he might be brought under the curse of the Mosaic law, and yet, because of perfect righteousness, was able to be delivered from that curse. By this means Christ could feel affinity with all of Adam's race, and is able to rescue from sin those who identify with his righteousness (Gal. 3:13; Rom. 6:5).
Crucified By Wicked Hands — v. 23.
The Lord taught that his impending death would accord with a direct "commandment" which he had "received" from his Father, that he should lay down his life (Jn. 10:18). Thus he was put to death "in accordance with God's definite plan, and with His previous knowledge" (TCNT, cp. NIV, NASB, etc). As a result of this revelation, the question is sometimes raised: Does this mean that the Jews were mere automatons under the direct control of God, and that they were therefore unable to escape from their murderous intent? By no means. Consider the circumstances of the Exodus from Egypt. Several times Yahweh stated that He would "harden Pharaoh's heart" that he would refuse to let the people go. But did this mean that
Pharaoh had no control over his own decisions, being merely a helpless instrument in God's hands? Not at all.There would have been no divine justice in dealing with this or any other matter in such an inequitable manner. Yahweh simply provided the circumstances which Pharaoh had to face, and make momentous decisions accordingly. He could just as readily have
bowed in humble submission to the power and authority of Israel's God; instead, he "hardened" his heart in belligerent opposition to the will of Yahweh. Similarly, in regard to the crucifixion of Christ, it must always be understood that though God may use the sinfulness and ungodliness of men to achieve His purpose, this in no way absolves men from the evil of their actions, nor does it relieve them of their answerability to God for the wickedness they perform. "Every man shall be put
to death for his own sin... The wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him" (Deu. 24:16; Eze. 18:20).
"Whom God hath raised up" — There is a dramatic contrast between the treatment meted out to Christ by the Jews (vv. 22-23), and that dispensed to him by God. The Jews murdered him; God raised him from the dead!
The words "raised up" are from the Gr. anistemi, which has the idea of "standing up; arising." The contrast is between lying down and raising up; being dead and being alive.
The resurrection of Christ became the vibrant hope of the apostles; the convincing evidence that converted Saul of Tarsus (ch. 9:5-6). The fact of the resurrection is constantly stressed in the apostolic preaching: Acts 3:15; 4:10; 5:30, etc.
None in the assembled crowd could deny this statement, or bring evidence to the contrary. If Jesus was not raised, where was the body? They may have claimed that "the disciples stole it away" (Mat. 28:13), but the disciples were there in Jerusalem! And, further, who could dispute the evidence of scripture, when so powerfully expounded. The crowd remained silent, listening attentively as Peter proceeded.
"having loosed" — Mortality had previously held him under the "dominion of death" (Rom. 6:9). His resurrection to immortality had removed that bondage.
"the pain of death" — Gr. odinas is translated "sorrows" in Mat. 24:8; Mk. 13:8, where the RV has "travail" and Roth, has "birthpangs." This expression comes from Psa. 18:5 which prophetically speaks of "the sorrows [Heb. chebel: a twisted rope, speaking of excruciating and entwining pain] of death."
"because it was not possible" — Notice the absolute emphasis; the direct declaration that upheld the holiness of Yahweh, and His great purpose. Since the Lord Jesus had manifested a sinless character, demonstrating perfectly the divine Will in word and deed (Jn. 14:6, 9; 2Cor. 5:21), the righteousness of God demanded his resurrection (Rom. 3:25). The illegality of Christ's trial, the amazing events associated with his resurrection, were known to many (Mat. 28:15). These were important points to stress in Peter's address.
"that he should be holden of it" — Roth, has "held fast." Since Jesus Christ was the "Prince of Life" (Acts 3:15), and had life in himself (Jn. 1:4; 5:26), being empowered to "take it again" (Jn. 10:18), having fulfilled the divine purpose in his ministry and sacrifice, the grave was unable to hold him fast. After the same principle, his power will ultimately release his followers from the domination of the "memorial graves" in which they presently lie (Jn. 5:28-29). Then it will be said: "O death, where is thy sting? Ο grave, where is thy victory" (1 Cor. 15:55).
"For" — "The fact is..." Peter now expresses the reason, cause and motive for the facts he has stated.
"David speaketh" — Having already presented the evidence of the prophet Joel (v. 16), Peter now offers the testimony of David, the beloved king of Israel. This illustrious monarch was the very image of all their expectations of Messiah's power and glory. To him was vouchsafed the great promise of the throne (2Sam. 7). Therefore Peter now cites Psa. 16:8-11 to prove that David anticipated Messiah to be anointed through a resurrection.
Psalm 16 is the psalm of a king-priest, and a careful reading of the psalm by Peter's contemporaries would have revealed to them six notable aspects concerning the Christ (vv. 8-11):
•  He would be a man of incalculable faith; •  He would die; •  He would be buried; •  He would be raised from the dead; •  He would be given divine nature; •  He would ascend into the presence of Yahweh. Peter was to show that these vital and necessary aspects of the life and mission of Israel's Messiah could be seen only in Jesus of Nazareth. No other man of Adam's race has ever, or would ever, meet these requirements or manifest these attributes.
"concerning him" — i.e., the Messiah. David interpreted the attitude and commitment of the Lord Jesus, and prophesied of his victory over the flesh.
"I foresaw" — The Gr. prooromen (from pro, "before" and homo, "to see") has the idea of "keeping in view," and can have the meaning "to hold in advance." The Lord Jesus, who is the fulfilment of this declaration, always had Yahweh in view, and never allowed temptation to cause him to waver in his steadfast determination. Concentrating on the "joy set before him" (Heb. 12:2) enabled the Master to "endure the cross and despise the shame." It was "God in Christ" (2Cor. 5:19) that achieved victory over sin.
"The Lord always before my face" — Psa. 16:8 indicates that this was a definite determination by the Son: "I have set Yahweh always before me." The Son never took his eyes off the Father, and in that his view was unhindered by the attractions of the flesh; he developed a "single eye" (Mat. 6:22).
"for He is on my right hand, that I should not be moved" — The right hand is the place of power, strength and victory (Psa. 16:11; 20:6; 63:8). Yahweh was ready to help and support, and ultimately to rescue from the shackles of death (v. 33).
As our high priest and advocate, the Lord Jesus now is on Yahweh's right hand (v. 33; Psa. 110:1) as the place of authority, directing the movements of the nations to achieve the divine purpose. The redeemed and faithful Bride will ultimately stand on the right hand of the Groom (Psa. 45:9).
"Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad" — Expressive of the emotional and physical joy anticipated by the Lord Jesus when he would come from the grave on the first day of the week, the recipient of divine redemption, declaring himself as the "firstfruits from the dead," and the beginning of the new creation (Col. 1:15-18).
"moreover also my flesh" — His body, previously unpurified from the diabolos (Heb. 2:14), would be purged of the disease of sin-nature (Rom. 8:3). This victory was foreshadowed in the prophecy of Job who anticipated the ultimate redemption of his flesh from the infirmity and death (Job 19:26). The Lord later testified of this change in his nature, when he declared to the disciples: "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have" (Lk. 24:39).
"shall rest in hope" — This expresses the confidence of Christ in the power and purpose of the Deity. His three-days entombment in the grave was not purposeless. It would give rise to the joy of new life. It was in this great hope that the Master committed himself to the sacrifice required of him (Jn. 18:37).
The word "rest" in Psa. 16:9 is the Hebrew shaken, which means "to abide; to tabernacle." The Lord enveloped himself in the "hope" (Gr. elpidi; a pleasurable anticipation) of his ultimate redemption.
"Because Thou wilt not leave" — The word enkataleipseis ("to leave behind in some place") is elsewhere mostly translated "forsake." Thus, to abandon. It was not possible for Yahweh to desert His Son, for His righteousness required that he should be brought again from the grave.
"my soul" — Gr. psucheen, "life; being." Psa. 16:10 has the Hebrew nephesh.
"in hell" — Gr. haden. The Lord was in the grave for three days (Lk. 24:7. cp. Mat. 16:21). The grave is the place of silence, where no emotions or thoughts are experienced (Ecc. 9:10).
"neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One" — This significant title is repeatedly used of Messiah: Acts 3:14; Mk. 1:24; Dan. 9:24, etc. It is expressive of the specially exalted place Jesus of Nazareth held in relation to the divine plan of redemption. There is no word in the text for "One," and the emphasis is on the unique work of the Son of God. The word "holy" (Gr. hosion) means "separated; made exclusive for use." It indicates that the whole mission of the Son of God was to challenge iniquity and to rise triumphant over sin and death.
"to see" — Gr. idein (from eidon). The word indicates not the mere act of looking, but the actual perception of the object. It contains the idea of experiencing, or partaking of what is seen. In this case, the grave was not able to "view" corruption, as this was inappropriate for one who had perfectly manifested the divine wisdom and purpose in his life.
"corruption" — This cannot refer to David personally, for "after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption" (Acts 13:36). It thus relates to Messiah, and was fulfilled in the case of the Lord Jesus, for the grave could not hold him.
The Gr. diaphthoran indicates the action of putrefaction that takes effect in death. The case of Lazarus shows that this usually commences on the fourth day after death (Jn. 11:39). It is also significant that the body of the Lord Jesus was placed in a grave, "wherein was never man yet laid" (Jn. 19:41), and which therefore was not tainted by death, in order to ensure that there was no ceremonial defilement that might otherwise attach to the body. When the Lord came forth to life three days later, it could be said that, in every respect, "the grave could not hold him."
"Thou hast made known to me" — The word "known" is the Greek gnorisas, with the meaning to reveal by experience or effort. It is more than mere theory, but implies a practical familiarity.
"the ways of life" —His perfect ministry was the means to eternal life. It was the way to immortality that he had pursued.
"thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance" — This statement completes David's outline of the elevation of Messiah. Death was followed by burial, then resurrection, immortalisation and ascension to the very presence of the Almighty. The Lord was honoured with a name above every other (Phil. 2:9-10), and enjoyed absolute unity with Yahweh in every respect (ITim. 3:16; Un. 3:2; Psa. 36:9).
The Site of David's Tomb
Jewish tradition puts the tomb of David on what is described as Mt. Zion. To the south-west of the mount, it cannot be the correct site (see below), but is one of the most revered of the holy places in the State of Israel. The traditional site was supposedly identified as the royal tomb by a Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela, who visited Jerusalem about 1173, and recorded: "from today fifteen years ago, a wall of the church which is on Mt. Zion fell, and the Patriarch told his subordinate: 'take the stones of the holy walls and we shall build the church out of them.' And he did so... and hired workers, and they lifted a stone and uncovered the entrance to a cave. One of them said to his mate: 'Let us go in and see if there is any money in it.' So they proceeded through the cave till they reached a great palace... and the two men rushed towards the palace, when a sudden gust of wind came from the mouth of the cave... crying with the voice of a man: 'Rise and go hence, for God doth not desire to show it to man'." Today a small black dome is built above the traditional tomb, next to the Dormicion Monastery.
According to l Kgs. 2:10, David was buried in "the city of David" presumably to the south or south-east of the temple mount. Traditionally the later kings of the Davidic dynasty were also buried there, and the site became known as "the sepulchres of the sons of David" (2Chr. 32:33), which was still known in the time of Nehemiah (Neh. 3:16). According to Josephus Herod broke into David's tomb to rob it, but when he tried to go into the inner chamber, tongues of fire shot out (Ant. 16:7:1). The actual tomb of David was probably destroyed at the time of the Bar Kokhba revolt (AD135), and afterwards the exact location of the site was lost.
"Men and brethren" — From his introduction to "Ye men of Judea" (v. 14), to "Ye men of Israel" (v. 22), Peter now extends his appeal with "Men and brethren." This warmer approach is an appropriate introduction to his appeal for their acceptance of the work of God in Christ.
The "and" is inappropriate, both here and in 1:16. Compare 1:11, "Men, Galileans." Now: "Men! Brethren!"
"let me freely speak unto you" — Rather: "I am able to speak to you with freedom (because you know...)." He presents his case boldly and with bluntness in order to show the full power and meaning of the quotation from the Psalm that he has advanced.
"of the patriarch David" — The term "patriarch" is applied to the head or founder of a dynasty. David was the founder of the monarchy from which the Messiah would come. Thus the Messiah was considered to be "son of David" (Mat. 22:42), and yet would also be his lord, as Peter will now explain. It is this dual character of Messiah that the Jews found difficult to explain (v. 46). It can only be fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was at once Emmanuel ("God with us"), and of the seed of David (Lk. 3:23-31).
"that he is both dead and buried" — There is no doubt about the evidence! This disproves the common teaching concerning the supposed immortality of the soul. As far as David is concerned "he" is dead (cp. ch. 13:36; see 2Sam. 7:12)!
"and his sepulchre is with us unto this day" — The evidence was nearby in the royal tombs, that the Psalm quoted by Peter did not refer to David (see v. 27), and so the ellipsis must be supplied: "and so David was not speaking of himself."
According to Josephus David's sepulchre then existed (Ant. 7:15:3; 13:8:4; 16:7:1), but it is no longer to be found.
"Therefore being a prophet" — Under divine inspiration David spoke of the purposes Yahweh proposed for his scheme of redemption. David declared: "The spirit of Yahweh spake by me, and His word was in my tongue" (2Sam. 23:2, cp. Psa. 45:1). Therefore the words of Psa. 16, which Peter had cited to the Jews in Jerusalem, were prophetic utterances.
"and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him" — Thus confirming the promise of 2Sam. 7 as unconditional (Psa. 89:3-4; 132:11).
"that of the fruit of his loins" — The Messiah was to be a natural descendant of David (2Sam. 7:12; Psa. 132:11.
"according to the flesh" — The concluding statement of this verse is omitted in most manuscripts, and should read: "of the fruit of his loins He would set one upon His throne." Nevertheless it is consistent with the previous statement, and emphasises that as a natural descendant of David, the Messiah would come in the mortal, sin-prone flesh of humanity (Rom. 1:3; 8:3).
"he would raise up" — Gr. anastemein, "to stand, or raise, up." A similar word (anestesen) appears in vv. 24, 32. However this statement does not appear in the Greek text.
"Christ to sit on his throne" — Fulfilling the divine promise given to David, and eventually bringing the glorious kingdom for which David fervently longed (2Sam. 7:25-26).
"He seeing this before" — The RV has: "Foreseeing this," whilst Roth, has: "With foresight." The Greek has one word: proidon (from pro: before, and eido: to see). David was motivated by the spirit of prophecy, and spoke of one who would die, but not corrupt (v. 27); who would be resurrected and made immortal (v. 28); who was of the same lineage as David (v. 30); who would establish his throne and rule for ever (v. 30).
"spake of the resurrection of Christ" — The Greek text has the definite article: "the Christ." The only way for one of David's mortal descendants to sit upon the throne of this perpetual kingdom was that he die and rise again to immortality.
Therefore, the anticipation of David demanded the resurrection, as stated in the following phrases.
"that his soul" — Gr. "he" (as in the Diaglott). There is no word for "soul" in the Greek text, although some claim it should be included.
"was not left" — Gr. enkateleiphthe, means "abandoned; to leave behind." The Lord's body was placed in the grave in accordance with the prophecy of Isa. 53:9, and the purpose of atonement, but was not discarded.
"in hell" — Gr. hades, "the unseen place;" thus, the grave (ICor. 15:55); the "heart of the earth" (Mat. 12:40).
"neither his flesh did see corruption" — Instead, his "body of humiliation" was changed by the power of God into the glory of incorruption subsequent to his resurrection (1Cor. 15:50; Job 19:26; Acts 13:37).
An Outline Of Peter's Important First Public Address
- Based upon the fulfilment of prophecy vv. 14-19
- Indicative of an approaching crisis v. 20
- The need of personal salvation v. 21
- He was the manifestation of Yahweh in Israel v. 22
- The death of Jesus was sacrificial v. 21
- He rose from the dead, revealing the true way to life vv. 24, 28
- This was in fulfilment of prophecy vv. 25-28
- Prophecy demands that he who rose from the dead should reign on David's throne vv. 30-32
- Prophecy requires that he ascend into heaven until the time of his return vv. 33-35
- Salvation is only possible through Jesus Christ v. 36
Some of the Doctrinal Teachings Involved
Through implication Peter taught • the mortality of man: vv. 27, 31, 34; • the hope of life through resurrection: vv. 28-29, 34; • that Jesus did not pre-exist: v. 30; • that the Messiah was subordinate to the Father; vv. 32-35; • the Lord Jesus is to return to reign: vv. 30, 35-36.
"This" — The word touton is emphatic. It is in the accusative case (objective), singular number, masculine gender. It is this Jesus — and none other! This is supported by the text: "This the Jesus."
"Jesus" — The very one of v. 22! Having shown that his resurrection was a matter of prophecy, objection to the truth of the doctrine was removed. The only question was whether the fact had occurred.
Mention of the name "Jesus" would have made a tremendous impact. Imagine the thoughts of the hushed assembly. They knew that what Peter proclaimed was true. Only seven weeks earlier, Joseph of Arimathea had put Christ's dead body into the tomb, just a little way from where they were then gathered. Guards had been especially appointed (Mat. 27:55-56), but had reported devastating news to their masters. Worse still, when the dishonest scheming of the chief priests became known, their underhanded dealings, together with the known facts, provided strong evidence to support the miracle of the resurrection (ch. 28:11-15).
"hath God" — Thus rejecting the feeble claims of the soldiers (Mat. 28:13). The resurrection was the divine seal on the Lord Jesus and his Messiahship (Rom. 1:4; Acts 17:31). It was an incident entirely beyond the power of men.
"raised up" — Gr. anestesen, "to stand" (vv. 24, 32).
"whereof we all" — Probably referring to the 120 disciples, present in Jerusalem (ch. 1:15), although the remarkable events were common knowledge (Lk. 24:18).
"are witnesses" — Therefore they are prepared to testify to the statements publicly made. The word manures has the idea of judicial witnesses, those who will maintain their testimony even to death; hence our English word "martyr."
"Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted" — Fulfilling the promise of Psa. 16:8, 11, and confirming what has already been stated in Acts 2:25. The "right hand" is the direction of power and authority. God manifested that power in the resurrection and ascension of His Son (Rom. 1:4).
"and having received of the Father" — Thus implying the subordinate status of the Son (cp. 3:13).
"the promise of the holy spirit" — The "comforter" referred to in Jn. 14:26, which would be given them in Jerusalem (Lk. 24:49). The Gr. has: "the Spirit, the Holy."
"he hath shed forth this" — The miracle of speaking in foreign tongues by those unlearned (ch. 4:13), and the remarkable declaration of divine truth, drawn from the prophets, and obviously revealed in the events transpiring. The Greek execheen means "to pour forth," illustrating the liberal effect of the divine work.
"which ye now see and hear" — They could not refute the evidence of their eyes and ears, nor the clear testimony of familiar scriptures.
"For David is not ascended into the heavens" — The clear testimony concerning the great monarch, who was fashioned "after God's own heart" (see notes on v. 25), and yet was "dead and buried" (v. 29). However, the death and resurrection of the antitypical subject of Psa. 16 is distinctly affirmed. This verse certainly disproves the common teaching of immortal soulism, as it demonstrates that such a great man had no existence of any kind, apart from that promised through the redeeming Messiah.
"but he saith himself" — Citing the personal testimony of David in Psa. 110:1 to emphasise the superiority of Christ as Lord even though he was also David's Son (cp. Rev. 22:16). This Psalm provides the basis of Peter's address to the crowds assembled at Pentecost, and is the inspiration for a large section of Paul's exposition to the Hebrews (see ch. 1:3, 13; 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:11, 15, 17, 21; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2). It is cited in the New Testament more than any other Psalm.
"the Lord said unto my Lord" — The Hebrew in Psa. 110:1 distinguishes the divine titles: "Yahweh [He who will be manifested] said unto my Adon [Master, Sovereign]. This gives an important emphasis to the declaration by David. He must have recognized that his promised seed would be a person of outstanding character (2Sam. 7:14) — his Lord as well as his son. He realised that the Messiah, though of his flesh, would also be Son of God (2Sam. 7:14). It was only to be through the atoning and priestly work of his greater Son that David would ultimately see his throne established for ever (Psa. 110:5-7).
"Sit thou on my right hand" — The right hand signifies the position of prestige, power, privilege and authority (see ch. 2:25, 33; 7:56). The prerogative was achieved by the Lord Jesus Christ because he was first prepared to submit to sacrifice (Jn. 10:18), on account of which he was resurrected and ascended to the Father (Eph. 1:20). There he officiates as priest on behalf of his people (Acts 5:31; Rom. 8:34; Heb. 8:1). At the same time, David saw his greater Son at his right hand (Acts 2:25), providing strength to overcome his trials, protection from enemies, and direction in the decisions of life (Col. 3:1).
"Until I make thy foes thy footstool" — This was an uncompromising warning to Jews who would reject the teachings of Christ, and be counted in the category of "his foes." Paul warned the Gentiles of the same possibility (Acts 17:31). The enemies are those who ignore the holy things of God or those who deliberately challenge the atoning work of His Son (cp. Mat. 22:7; Jn. 11:53). This prophecy will be fulfilled when both Jews and Gentiles are given opportunity to renounce their former folly (Jer. 16:19), and submit to the rulership of the Master (cp. Rev. 3:9).
"Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly" — Notice the phrase "all the house of Israel," which belies the British-Israelite theory. The Jewish listeners represented the complete nation, both those of Judah in the land, and the exiles from abroad. The Lord had earlier instructed his disciples to go "to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Mat. 10:6; 15:24). James later wrote "to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad" (ch. 1:1).
Peter urged his listeners to a full conviction of his words: "know assuredly." There was no doubt in his mind as to the veracity of the statements he made; the people could rest confidently in the declaration that God has elevated His Son in accordance with the prophecy of David (Psa. 110:1).
"that God hath made" — It was the Father who provided for the ultimate benefit that came from the redemption and elevation of His Son. Paul also affirmed that "God was in Christ reconciling" (2Cor. 5:19). See also Acts 5:31.
Notice in passing, that this phrase is incompatible with the idea of a trinity.
"that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ" — What a contrast: The Jews crucified him; but God exalted him!
Rotherham translates this: "Both Lord and Christ has God made him, even the same Jesus whom ye crucified." His resurrection confirmed his
authority and status (Rom. 1:4).
The title "Lord" (Gr. kurion) indicates the appointment of authority, by which the Son is elevated to a position of dominion, in order to bring about the original purpose of the Creator (Gen. 1:26). But he is also titled "Christon" (Christ), the Greek form of "anointed." This indicates that his elevation confers upon him the prerogative of prophet, priest and prince: all of whom were appointed to their position by anointing. The Lord was "christed" with the holy spirit by birth (Lk. 1:35), baptism (Mat. 3:16) and resurrection (Phil. 2:9).
But having crucified him (and thereby bringing him under the curse of the Law: Deu. 21:23), the people were without hope. This dreadful folly caused the thoughtful amongst the gathering to respond as is recorded in the following verses.
"He is Not Here! He is Risen!"
With these words, the angel attempted to persuade the two women that the tomb was now empty because the Lord had indeed been raised to life. One of the most remarkable aspects of Christ's resurrection was the manner in which belief in the event came only slowly and with much incredulity. If the entire concept of the resurrection had been a deliberate and carefully planned fabrication, the Biblical account would read quite differently.
Consider the seven clear points of evidence:
 The women who went to the tomb thought the body had been removed — not that Christ had risen (Mat. 28:5; Lk. 24:1-4; Jn. 20:1-2).
 Mary Magdalene thought the body had been stolen; and so convinced was she that she mistook Jesus for the gardener, not expecting to see a risen Lord (Jn. 20:13).
 The two disciples, on their way to Emmaus, had been unconvinced by the story of the women. They also failed to recognize the risen Christ, simply because they were not expecting to see him again! (Lk. 24:1 3-27).
 The apostles and disciples at Jerusalem refused to believe the story of the women, considering it to be one of wild fantasy (Lk. 24:10-11; Mk. 16:11).
 After the other apostles were finally convinced, Thomas still flatly refused to believe. Note that he refused to believe the combined and united voices of the others. And he remained stubbornly in that frame of mind until he had not only seen the Lord, but had examined his body (Jn. 20:24-28).
 After the resurrection, "He (Christ) showed himself alive" during a period of "forty days'7 in the presence of the apostles and other witnesses (Acts 1:3, 9-11).
 Paul's later evidence (Acts 9:1-5, etc.) is recorded and repeated. In addition, there is his astonishing testimony to the Corinthians to the effect that Christ, having been seen by the twelve, was later seen by "above five hundred brethren — at once, " then adding the challenging statement that most of those witnesses were still alive at the time Paul was writing his letter (I Cor. 15:6). In view of the fact that Paul had many opponents within the Corinthian ecclesia — amongst them, those who disputed the truth concerning the resurrection of the dead! — he would have been acting with incredible folly to cite the evidence oi five hundred eye witnesses, unless his claim was beyond challenge, and could be proven beyond all doubt. There could not be the slightest possibility that his claim was false.
Ultimately the friends of Christ confessed to the evidence of the empty tomb, and their enemies did not deny it!
The First Response — vv. 37-40.
A startled reaction follows the pointed conclusion of the apostle's address. He brings the message to a personal challenge, showing the people that they were responsible for a terrible crime: that of crucifying the Lord of glory. Their agitation is answered by the clear and simple affirmation that forgiveness is possible, and a great future awaits those who respond openly and sincerely.
"Now when they heard this, they were pricked" — The word katanusso, means "to strike or pierce violently," thus to penetrate as with a needle. As they nailed the Lord to the stake of shame, now the people were pierced through with anguish as the presentation of the Truth through Peter made its effect felt. Such a remorse will yet overtake the whole nation at the reappearance of Christ, when they will be caused to understand that in doing what they did to Christ, they repudiated and rejected their God (Zech. 12:10).
"in their heart" — Where the eye cannot penetrate! It literally signifies: "pierced to the heart," as though the barbs of Truth worked their way into the secret chambers of the mind (cp. Heb. 4:12). Previously their "hearts" (minds) were "overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life" (Lk. 21:34) as they were indifferent to the sufferings and sacrifice of Christ, but now a dramatic change occurred in the people, as the Word took hold. The future advent of Christ will see a change of heart, as the full realisation of Truth is recognised by a wayward nation: "A new heart also will I give you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh" (Eze. 36:26).
"and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles" — The "twelve were spokesmen for the believers, and now took a prominent role in the proclamation of the Truth.
"Men and brethren" — A response to Peter's use of the same phrase in v. 29.
"what shall we do?" — a godly sorrow leads to a recognition of former wickedness, and produces a repentant attitude (2Cor. 7:9-10).
"Then Peter said unto them, Repent" — The Greek metanoesate means "to change mind or purpose." It comes from meta, "after," and nous, "mind," and appears in the Diaglott as "reform," and is translated by Bro. Thomas as "be renewed." It has the idea of turning about (Acts 26:20), so as to move in a new direction. The noun metanoian appears in 2Cor. 7:9-10 as "sorrowed unto repentance" and in Acts 11:18 as "granted repentance."
Understanding the teaching of Peter, the sorrow of the people was genuine (v. 37), and found expression in action. Thus a complete transformation is required. This represented a mental conviction, which was followed by a moral action in baptism. Both are essential to salvation.
"and be baptized" — Gr. baptistheto. Thayer defines the word as "to dip repeatedly; to immerse, submerge; to cleanse by dipping or submerging." It is a common Greek word used to describe the dyeing of garments by which their colour is changed. Baptism is only efficacious upon acceptance of the saving truths of the gospel and an understanding of the atoning work of Christ. It thus represents a cleansing of conscience (IPet. 3:21), a moral regeneration. Peter had presented both aspects in his address, forming the basis for acceptable baptism.
In Jewish tradition washing was part of the ritual by which a Gentile could become a proselyte to Judaism, and represented a cleansing from former associations, and an acceptance of greater responsibilities. It was to this end that John the Baptist called upon Jewry to be baptised "for repentance" and to prepare for the coming of one whose commitment would be upon the spiritual principle of judgment against flesh (Lk. 3:16). The Lord Jesus was baptised "to fulfil all righteousness" (Mat. 3:15), by which he acknowledged that the flesh was a defiling influence, and its ungodly propensities were to be condemned, that God's righteousness might be upheld. Believers are required to undertake this ritual to publicly express identification with the dedicated sacrifice presented by Christ, and by which he was exalted to divine nature (see Rom. 6:1-3). It represents in outward token the inner conviction of a spiritual way of life.
"every one of you" — Unlike the national baptism of Moses that automatically brought every child into the benefits of the Mosaic covenant (ICor. 10:2), this baptism, which was to provide for future blessings, was individual — each one had to submit himself.
"in" — Gr. epi: "upon; into." It is not merely a pronouncement by another of authority, but of entrance upon the ground or basis of the declaration, and into the divine family identified as "the name of Jesus Christ."
"the name of Jesus Christ" — Emphasizing complete identification with all that is Jesus Christ: his birth, sacrifice and resurrection. The "name" expresses his character, purpose and destiny. Thus, moving "into the name" indicates the crucifixion of the flesh (Gal. 5:24) and a way of life according to the Spirit (Col. 3:1). It will be on the public declaration of "the name" at the future coronation of the king, that all mankind will bow in submission: Phil. 2:10.
"for the remission of sins" — The word "remission" is the Greek aphesis which means "to let go," as was the second scapegoat into the wilderness, typically bearing the sins of the people (Lev. 16:10) — the first goat having been offered. Both together represented the principle of acknowledgement of sins, and the bearing of them away.
The word is rendered: "deliverance," "forgiveness," "liberty," "remission." See Isa. 59:2; Hab. 3:13; Lk. 24:47; Acts 10:43; Rom. 3:25; Heb. 9:22. By complete identification with the sacrificial work of Christ, opportunity is given for sins to be taken out of the way; thus covered over (Heb. kaphar) as by the mercy seat in the work of atonement.
"and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" — As had the other believers previously (ch. 2:3) evidenced in the preaching of the apostles (v. 8). The special gift of the Spirit, available in the first century, was an evidence of divine power accompanying the proclamation of the gospel (as in the case of Cornelius: ch. 10:45). These gifts were withdrawn subsequent to the complete revelation of the Spirit in the inspired writings (see ICor. 13:10).
However, the greatest gift is the regeneration of the mind which "the Holy Spirit teacheth" by means of the Word of Life (Jn. 6:63; 3:5; ICor. 6:11). Thus, the "gift" of a true understanding of the saving gospel is something granted by Yahweh to those whom He selects (Rom. 8:29-30); it does not come by natural brilliance, or personal ability. The blessings of life which come upon those fully committed (as indicated by baptism) to godliness, are inestimable (1Tim. 4:8).
The Gifts of the Spirit Limited
According to Joel's prophecy, the promise of the Holy Spirit was limited to the current and following generation of those who heard the gospel preached in the name of the risen Christ. This was in conformity with the manner by which the gift was able to be bestowed on others: through the laying on of the apostles' hands (Acts 6:6; 8:18; 19:6; 1Tim. 4:14; 2Tim. 1:6). With the death of the last of the apostles, the divinely appointed medium would no longer be available, and the gift would cease, as was predicted (1Cor. 13:10). There was no reason for its continuance beyond the circumstances that enabled the completion of the inspired Scriptures, since the divine Revelation, completed with the writing of the Apocalypse, provided, by way of knowledge, all that was necessary to guide disciples into the way of salvation.
The gift of "speaking in tongues," so flaunted, falsely, by the Pentecostal communities, was considered the least important of the nine gifts (1Cor. 14:5). On the Day of Pentecost, it was not merely the gift of tongues that was manifested, for they also discovered the gift of prophecy (v. 3), as Peter's discourse revealed.
"For the promise" — The gift of God (ch. 1:4; 2:33) provided to assist in the establishment of the ecclesias and the proclamation of the gospel in the years following the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ, until his final message to the last of the apostles, John on Patmos (the book of Revelation).
"is unto you" — The Jews of that generation who responded to the apostolic message. This offer was later withdrawn (Acts 13:46) when the apostles' message was rejected.
"and to your children" — To those immediately following the proclamation of the gospel. This answers the description of "sons and daughters" mentioned in Joel's prophecy (Joel 2:28), and referred to in Acts 2:17.
"and to all that are afar off" — The Greek makran applies not only to time but also distance, and is translated by the Diaglott as "those at a distance." The word is used in ch. 22:21, and in Eph. 2:13, 17. Thus the promise of the holy spirit was not only to the dwellers in Jerusalem, but would be extended to all areas where the apostles took the gospel message (Acts 1:8) — a promise fulfilled in the proclamation by the apostle Paul, who was chosen to preach to the Gentiles (ch. 9:15).
"even as many as the Lord our God shall call" — This prophecy indicates the extension of the Truth to Gentiles as well as Jews, in accordance with the statement concerning "all flesh" in Joel's prophecy (cp. v. 21; Eph. 2:13-14). In Christ there are no bounds of race, status or gender (Gal. 3:28).
"And with many other words" — The address must have continued for some time, summarised by the phrase here recorded. This would mean that Peter drew attention to the times, and spoke of fulfilling prophecy, such as is contained in the "Olivet Prophecy" (Mat. 24; Mk. 13; Lk. 21), in view of the impending destruction that overshadowed the nation, and which finally occurred in AD70.
"did he testify" — Gr. diemarturato, means "to protest solemnly; earnestly," sometimes used with a sense of warning. It is related to the word "martyr," one who protests to the point of risking life.
"and exhort" — Gr. parekalei: "to call alongside; to appeal to." Peter's message was not only a warning in view of the national crisis facing Jewry, but an appeal to individuals to stand aside from the generation that put to death the Son of God.
"saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation" — The word "untoward" comes from the Greek skolios: meaning warped, i.e. winding; figuratively: perverse. Bullinger defines the word as "crooked through dryness," a spiritual condition afflicting Israel, as prophesied in Isa. 53:2 as: "dry ground." Moses' "Song of Witness" described those who reject the divine salvation as "They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation" (Deu. 32:5).
Peter's appeal was for individuals to separate from that society, lest they perish with it (2Cor. 6:14-18).
The First Results — vv. 41-43.
Peter's dramatic message brings an enthusiastic response from those gathered in Jerusalem for Pentecost. Three thousand are baptised.
"Then they that gladly received his word were baptized" — Without reserve they responded to the exhortation of the apostle. Knowing the truth concerning the promised kingdom, and the principles of atonement, they only needed to understand the work of Jesus Christ, as the offering provided by God for their salvation. This accepted, baptism followed.
"and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls" — An appropriate number, for "three" has the significance of resurrection, and new life. It was on the "third day" that the Lord was resurrected, and that momentous event was now highlighted in "three thousand" walking in a "newness of life."
It is also claimed that 3,000 was the number of soldiers in a Jewish army regiment. Here, in the battle against sin, the common enemy of mankind, the army of faith was being organised under the command of the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb. 2:10).
"And they continued stedfastly" — The first feature of the compact outline of true worship in this verse, reveals the attitude and devotion of the participants. The Greek word proskarterountes means "to receive fully; to be earnest towards." There was a wholehearted response to the call of the Truth, and faithful continuance in well-doing. They readily received the way of discipleship, without reserve. Paul urges believers to maintain this characteristic by "not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching" (Heb. 10:25).
"in the apostles' doctrine" — The second element was the upholding of true and wholesome teaching. Gr. didache: instruction; thus, teaching. To "continue steadfast" without the important basis of understanding, would be thus of little value. There are many communities that manifest a zealousness for activity, but lack a true understanding. As such they are no different from the Jewish community, who "have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge" (Rom. 10:2). The "apostles' doctrine" is that based upon the outline of salvation given in Acts 2:14-36.
"and fellowship" — This defines the third element in the verse. Gr. koinonia: partnership, participation, joining together in a common ideal.
"and in breaking of bread" — The fourth element, which highlights the sacrifice of Christ, and the identification of the believer with the work of the Saviour. The "breaking of bread" described the ritual of bread and wine, in which both principles of subjection of flesh (the broken bread), and the elevation of the spirit (the wine) are upheld.
"and in prayers" — The fifth element, concluding the principles of grace listed in this verse. This provides an intimate relationship with the Father.
The Five Principles of Ecclesial Development — v. 42
"Continuing steadfast" — A firm commitment and perseverance.
"in the apostles' doctrine" — Academic Instruction in the Teaching.
"and fellowship" — Practical Application in Sharing Association.
"and in breaking of bread" — Acknowledging the Principle of Atonement.
"and in prayers" — Personal and Communal Expression.
"Continuing Stedfastly" — v. 42
This phrase comes from a most dynamic and exhortatory Greek word. It occurs in ch. 1:14, and again in v. 46 of this chapter. It further appears in 6:4; 8:13 and 10:7, and in four passages outside of Acts. Derived from pros ("towards") and kartereo ("to be strong"), the word means "to be strong or firm towards anything; to endure or persevere with firmness of purpose." This was the state of mind of these early converts to the gospel, and this word reflects their general disposition: towards God, towards Christ, towards their brethren and their responsibilities; and towards the world. They demonstrated an attitude which indicated that they would permit nothing whatever to impair or interfere with their development in the Truth, and their labours in service to Christ. This speaks of a real, and visibly evident, conversion to the Truth in which faith is demonstrated by works. "By their /rw/fs ye shall know them..." This is a powerful and compelling lesson to be learned from the first ecclesia, now established in Jerusalem. Their lives revolved wholeheartedly around the simple, basic elements of the Truth. Luke enumerates these intrinsic principles: "The apostles' teaching (doctrine)... fellowship... breaking of bread... prayers..."
To continue in the "apostles' doctrine" it was necessary for them to become dedicated Bible students; thereby learning how to adhere uncompromisingly to those things they had been taught. They were not busy looking for "new theories" or "new ideas;" nor were they trying to transform apostolic teachings into different forms of expression. They knew the Truth and preserved it.
They appreciated that "fellowship" is an act and not a mere technical term. It represents a group of people uniting together in a mutual sharing of the bonds of the Truth, thus creating a living and practical expression of unity and oneness.
"Breaking of bread" caused their minds to be continually renewed in a contemplation of the crucified Christ, through whose perfect love and sacrifice they now stood related to Yahweh as His sons and daughters.
The regular exercise of "prayers" maintained their constant communion with the Father, through the Son.
From all this we observe that ccclesial life in those early days was simple, uncomplicated, straightforward, deeply spiritually-motivated, and centred fully upon service to God, to Christ and to man.
"And fear came upon every soul" — A feeling of awe came on the people, which restrained them from interfering with the apostles. Compare the same reaction and result when Joshua attacked Canaan (Deu. 11:25); and now the Canaanite spirit of the flesh was being challenged by the power of the Truth in the disciples.
"and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles" — Continuing the work of Christ (v. 22), silencing the mockers (v. 13), and fulfilling the prophecy of Joel (v. 19). This phrase is repeated in Acts 5:1 2.
The First Enthusiasm — vv. 44-47.
The early ecclesia is established, and great excitement is experienced. In view of prevailing circumstances of opposition, both from the Judaisers and also from the Pagans, the believers united their goods and shared their material possessions. In doing so, some νeditable principles were demonstrated.
"And all that believed were together" — It was a remarkable and delightful period. The Greek epi to auto can refer to an objective or period of time. The believers were in unity of purpose and desire.
"and had all things common" — Emphasizing the unity experienced by the disciples. This was introduced as a temporary arrangement by the ecclesia. The newly baptized converts probably delayed their return home from Jerusalem, in order to take advantage of further apostolic instruction. This imposed a heavy strain on local members, so, with enthusiasm, they made a communal effort of it. That this was not a permanent arrangement is implied by 1Cor. 16:1.
"And sold their possessions and goods" — Probably those things surplus to their particular necessities. This policy was followed by the disciples due to the difficult times that faced them, both from the Judaisers as well as from the Roman authorities. It was this special agreement of sharing possessions that Ananias and Sapphira perverted when they endeavoured to exclude from the ecclesia part of the proceeds of the sale of their property (see ch. 5:1-10).
"and parted them to all men, as every man had need" — Their needs were thereby satisfied. In doing so, the disciples with excess possessions were able to provide for others, thus manifesting the divine characteristic of the Giver of all things.
"And they, continuing daily with one accord" — See notes on this repetitive phrase and occurrences (ch. 1:14; 4:24; 5:12; 8:6).
"in the temple" — Those early converts practised the Truth in harmony with the "apostles' doctrine" but also continued in some aspects of keeping the Law, as, to them, the temple was still the centre of worship. Thereby the Law was "magnified and made honourable" (Isa. 42:21).
"and breaking bread from house to house" — They worshipped at the temple, but kept the memorials in "homes" (see mg., RV), since the breaking of bread was not part of the temple services. The word oikos is also used of the tabernacle (Mat. 23:44) and temple (Lk. 11:51).
The expression can also refer to the daily meals, indicating the attitudes of hospitality to visitors.
"did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart" — The word "meat" (Gr. trophes, nourishment) is used generally for food of all kinds. These meals provided fellowship for the disciples, and usually preceded the memorials.
Unfortunately the practice later fell into abuse, and the actions of those who were misusing the "love feasts" (Jude 12: "feasts of charity") were condemned by Paul (ICor. 11:10-22) and Peter (2Pet. 2:13). Thus, even the valuable disciplines of ecclesial practices can be mishandled and misapplied. It is therefore important to maintain the spirit of "gladness and singleness of heart:" being specifically devoted to the ideals of the Truth.
"Praising God" — An important quality with which believers should commence each day! To "praise God" is a great privilege, possibly only to those who have true fellowship with Him (U n. 1:3). The Psalmist praised God for His righteousness (Psa. 7:17), name (ch. 9:2), power (ch. 21:13), word (ch. 56:4) and goodness (ch. 107:21).
"and having favour with all the people" — The full impact of the Truth with its demands for salvation and repudiation of evil, was not yet appreciated, and the scandal of the crucifixion had not yet been fully felt (cp. Gal. 6:14). The ecclesia was later despised by the Jews for the stand it maintained and the teachings it professed (Acts 28:22).
"And the Lord added" — This is the first of eleven "progress reports" listed by Luke in the record of the establishment of the ecclesia, and the preaching of the Truth. See 4:4; 6:7, 14; 9:31; 11:24; 12:24; 13:48-49; 16:5; 19:20; 28:30-31.
"to the ecclesia" — This phrase does not appear in the original text.
"daily such as should be saved" — Rotherham: "Those who were being saved." The power of the Truth was operating in their lives, bringing them towards salvation.
All Things in Common — v. 44
Why did the brethren, at this time, have "all things in common?" (koina, "pertaining equally to all; or having things in common"). It should be understood that this is how the apostles had lived during the period of the Lord's ministry, when they had accompanied with him for three and a half years. Their valuables, such as there may have been, were treated as common property. Judas had been placed in charge of "the bag" (Jn. 12:6; 13:29). From this, it appears, that a kind of tradition already existed as the first ecclesia was in process of being formed. This idea of communal property is further alluded to in the section from ch. 4:32 to 5:10. It was a touching and innocent arrangement that they all regarded themselves as "one family" in the Lord, even to such a degree as this. However, it should be remembered that the Lord Jesus had given no commandment whatever regarding these matters; and the apostles were similarly silent upon the question. A key as to how the apostles thought in this regard is provided in ch. 5:3-4. From the wording in this passage it is evident that the apostles had not discouraged the ownership of private property. A further reason for the disciples holding "all things in common" in those early days may have been due to their excited expectations concerning the Lord's return. With the words of the angels still firmly lodged in their minds (ch. 1:11), they had no idea as to how long it might be before the Lord's reappearance on earth. Filled with a sense of euphoria and with their understanding still developing, they may have felt it desirable to remain as "one family" in the fullest possible sense because the Lord might return to them at any hour. As the words of ch. 1:11 would have been repeated to all new converts, their willingness to continue living in this way is not difficult to understand. Interestingly, this practice appears to have been followed only in the early Jerusalem ecclesia, due in part to the extreme poverty of many of the brethren and sisters there (cp. ICor. 16:1-3). There is no evidence of this way of ecclesial life being established anywhere outside the Jerusalem ecclesia.
One Accord; One Mind — v. 46
With increasing numbers being attracted to the Truth by the power of the Word through apostolic preaching, the believers "continued daily, with one accord." The word rendered "continuing" is the same as in ch. 1:14 and 2:42, 46; 6:4; 8:13; 10:7. It means "unanimously, with one mind." In defining the spiritual state every ecclesia should strive to develop, this word speaks volumes. The members of any ecclesia will only become "unanimous" in their dedication to the Truth and in understanding the means whereby such might be attained, if they are of "one mind." This requires an acceptance of the fact that "one mind" means "one head" — and that head is Christ. How wonderfully an ecclesia pulls together, and develops positively, when the members are of "one mind," with attention centred upon the words which are coming from the Head — words of instruction, encouragement, comfort, direction. When men pervert this grand ideal for ecclesial progress, God's purpose in the ecclesia becomes largely neutralized, and may well result in the ecclesia being pronounced "dead" by he who is the Head of the Body (Rev. 3:1).
Satisfaction with Singleness of Heart — v. 46
In various ways, Luke describes the general disposition of those who were members of the first Jerusalem ecclesia. He tells us that they "did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart." Their daily food was doubtless of a very simple and basic nature; in the main, the lowliest and most inexpensive victuals. Yet they were more than content. They sat down to meat with "gladness" because they were ever-grateful for the grace and mercy of God, who provided for their needs, and they also enjoyed the fellowship of one another; rejoicing in being able to help and support one another. What a wonderful spirit was manifested in that early ecclesia! They did these things with "singleness of heart" — an unusual word, in the Greek text, and which occurs nowhere else. It means "satisfied simplicity; unworldly simplicity; a simplicity that results from being satisfied, contentment." How simple were their needs, and how happy they were to receive the smallest blessings from Yahweh. They were poor people, but the Truth caused them to become content, and unconcerned with worldly ambition. They had but one end in view: to be ready for Christ at his coming. They sought their objective with a simple, sincere, genuineness of heart. They possessed none of the luxuries of life, and desired none. Simply, they loved the Truth, and were content with that alone.
The Lord Added to the Ecclesia — v. 47
This is a beautiful and humbling phrase. It serves as a constant reminder to all who would serve the Most High God of Israel that the work of salvation is entirely of God. Men may become willing instruments through whom He promotes His truth, but the power lies in God and in His Word (cp. v. 39; Eph. 2:8; 4:4). It is claimed that the oldest mss. would be literally rendered: "The Lord added, day by day, together, such as were in the way of salvation. " Hence, "the Lord daily added to their company those who were in the path of salvation " (tcnt). Converts are drawn into the way which can lead them to eternal redemption; but they must thereafter continue to remain in that "way," persevering faithfully to attain to the fulfilment of their hope. By this means the Truth began to spread, as greater numbers were added to the body of believers. It would be unwise to suggest that these circumstances were so different from those applying in today, and therefore the work of extending the Truth to a perishing world no longer makes the impact it once did. Whilst aware that we are now living in the antitypical days of Noah and Lot, when it might not be expected that large numbers will heed the Word of Life, is this really the point at issue? What of the early disciples' fervent zeal, their consistency, their self-denial, their dedication — and above all, their total commitment to the cause of their King?" Should such a disposition be any less needful in these present evil times? Lot retained his integrity (2Pet. 2:7) despite the pressures that were mounted against him. It will not be the success of his preaching for which Noah will be in the kingdom; for he succeeded in drawing into the ark only his own family. It was "by faith" that he continued to serve God, doubtless with a similar position to that of the first century believers. Yahweh will gladly acknowledge the faithfulness and integrity of His saints. These are the qualities of character He desires to see developed in all whom, in His grace and abundant mercy, He calls to "walk" in the "way of His Word. — J.U.