"Moses took seventy two papers, and on seventy of them he wrote, "an elder"; and upon two, "a part"; and he chose six out of every tribe, and there were seventy two; he said unto them, take your papers out of the vessel; he into whose hand came up "an elder" (i.e. the paper on which it was so written) he was sanctified (or set apart to the office); and he, in whose hand came up "a part" (the paper that had that on it), to him he said, the Lord does not delight in thee.
And the lot fell upon Matthias; that is, either he had the largest number for him, their minds being so disposed by the providence of God; and it may be, contrary to the first thoughts and general sense of the body; since Joseph is mentioned first, and was a man of great character, and of many names and titles; but God, who knows the hearts: of men, and can turn them as he pleases, and to whom they sought for direction, inclined their minds to vote for the latter; or it was so ordered by divine providence, that in the casting or drawing the lots, the lot of the apostleship should fall on him:
and he was numbered with the eleven apostles; either chosen by the common suffrages of the people, as the word used signifies; or rather, he took his place among the apostles; he was registered among them, and ever after was reckoned one of them; Beza's ancient copy reads, "with the twelve apostles", their number being now complete,
(i) Maimon. Hilchot Yom Hacippurim, c. 3. sect. 1, 2, 3. Misn. Yoma, c. 4. 1. & Bartenora in ib. (k) Jarchi in Numb. xi. 26. Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 15. fol. 218. 3.
And on this day, and which was the first day of the week, the Spirit was poured forth upon the disciples; the Gospel began to be preached to all nations, and a harvest of souls was gathered in:
they were all with one accord in one place; in two ancient copies of Beza's, and in some others it is read, "all the apostles"; Matthias, and the eleven, with whom he was numbered, who are last spoken of, in Acts 1:26. Though this need not be restrained to the twelve apostles, but may be understood of the hundred and twenty, on whom, as well as on the apostles, the Holy Ghost might be poured forth, that so they might speak with tongues; since among these were many ministers of the Gospel, as the seventy disciples, and it may be more; and that his extraordinary gifts should be bestowed on others, is but what was afterwards done; see Acts 8:17 and though there were so many of them together, they were very unanimous and peaceable; there were no jars nor contentions among them; they were of the same mind and judgment in faith and practice, and of one heart and soul, and had a cordial affection for one another; and were all in one place, which seems to be the temple; see Acts 2:46. And indeed, no other place or house could hold so many as came to hear them, of which number three thousand were converted,
(l) T. Bab. Menachot, fol. 65. 1. Gloss. in. T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 17. 2. Bereshit Rabba, sect. 100. fol. 88. 2.((m) T. Bab. Erachin, fol. 10. 1.((n) Antiqu. l. 3. c. 10. sect. 6. (o) De Bello Jud. l. 2. c. 3. sect. 1.((p) In Leviticus 23.15. (q) T. Bab. Pesachim, fol. 68. 2.((r) Zohar in Exod. fol. 34. 4. Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 9. 4.
as of a rushing mighty wind; it was not a wind, but like one; and the noise it made, was like the rushing noise of a strong and boisterous wind, that carries all before it: the Spirit of God is sometimes compared to the wind, because of the freeness of his operations; as that blows where it listeth, so he works when and where, and on whom he pleases; and also because of the power and efficacy of his grace, which is mighty and irresistible, and works with great energy upon the minds of men; and as the wind is secret and invisible, so the operations of the Spirit are in a manner secret and imperceptible unto men: this may likewise be applied to the Gospel, when it comes with the Holy Ghost, and with power; it makes its way into the heart, and throws down the strong holds of sin and Satan; there it works effectually, though secretly, and is the power of God to salvation:
and it filled all the house where they were sitting; which was the temple, or the upper room or chamber in it, where they were assembled; so in the Ethiopic confession of faith (s) it is said,
"the Holy Ghost descended upon the apostles, in the upper room of Zion;
this may be a symbol of the Gospel filling the whole world,
(s) Vid. Ludolph. not. in Claud. reg. Ethiop. Confess. p. 13.
"the holy blessed God baptizeth with fire, and the wise shall understand.
Through this baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire, the apostles became more knowing, and had a greater understanding of the mysteries of the Gospel, and were more qualified to preach it to people of all nations and languages. The Holy Spirit, in his gifts and graces, is compared to fire, because of its purity, light, and heat, as well as consuming nature; the Spirit sanctifies, and makes men pure and holy, purges from the dross of sin, error and superstition; and enlightens the minds of men, and gives them knowledge of divine and spiritual things; and fills them with zeal and fervour for the glory of God and Christ, and the good of his church and interest, and for the doctrines and ordinances of the Gospel; as well as fortifies them against their enemies, whom he consumes, according to Zechariah 2:5 a passage of Scripture the Jews make use of in an uncommon sense; for they say (u), that as
"Jerusalem was destroyed by fire, "by fire it shall be built again"; as it is said, Zechariah 2:5 "For I, saith the Lord, will be unto her a wall of fire round about".
The pouring forth of the Spirit upon the apostles, in this form of cloven tongues, as of fire, was indeed the means of rebuilding Jerusalem, in a spiritual sense; or of founding the Gospel church state in the world:
and it sat upon each of them; the fire, or the Holy Ghost in the appearance of fire. The Syriac and Arabic versions read, "and they sat upon each of them"; and so Beza's most ancient copy; that is, the cloven tongues sat on them; either one upon one of them and another upon another, or many upon each of them: where they sat, whether on their lips, or on their heads, it not certain, probably on the latter; nor how long they sat; however, their sitting upon them may denote the continuance of the gifts and graces of the Spirit with them. These cloven tongues cannot but bring to mind the division and confusion of the tongues or languages at Babel; which gave rise to different nations, and different religions; but these divided tongues gave rise to the spreading of the Gospel, and settling the true religion among the nations of the world. The Jews (w) seem to have respect to this account, when they tell us of.
"lights from above, that came forth and dwelt in the synagogues, "on the heads" of those that prayed, and the lights "were divided" upon their heads.
(t) R. Menachem in Leviticus 8.apud Ainsworth in Genesis 17.12. (u) T. Hieros. Taaniot, fol. 65. 3. Seder Tepillot, fol. 23. 2. Ed. Basil. (w) Zohar in Num. fol. 79. 2.
And began to speak with other tongues; besides, and different from that in which they were born and brought up, and usually spake; they spake divers languages, one spoke one language, and another, another; and the same person spoke with various tongues, sometimes one language, and sometimes another. These are the new tongues, Christ told them they should speak with, Mark 16:17 such as they had never heard, learned, nor known before:
as the Spirit gave them utterance; they did not utter anything of themselves, and what came into their minds, things of little or no importance; nor in a confused and disorderly manner; but they were wise and weighty sentences they delivered, as the word signifies; even the wonderful works of God, Acts 2:11 the great doctrines of the Gospel; and though in different languages, yet in a very orderly and distinct manner, so as to be heard and understood by the people. The Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions read, "as the Holy Spirit", &c.
devout men; men of religion and piety, of faith and holiness; and as the Syriac version renders it, "who feared God"; for in these worst of times, among this wicked generation of men, there were some who had the fear of God before their eyes, and on their hearts; and these were collected from different quarters, to be witnesses of this amazing dispensation: for they came
out of every nation under heaven; that is, wherever the Jews were dispersed; being the descendants of those that were carried captive at different times, and into different places; as by Salmanezer, Nebuchadnezzar, Ptolomy Lagus, Antiochus, and in other lesser dispersions.
the multitude came together; to the house, or temple, where the disciples were; and this multitude did not consist only of the devout Jews, before mentioned; but of others who scoffed and mocked at the apostles, and who had been concerned in the crucifying of Christ:
and were confounded; or "confused"; they ran and came together in a disorderly and tumultuous manner; the whole city was in an uproar, the assembly on this occasion was a perfect mob; their numbers were so large, that they were ready to thrust each other down, and trample one another under foot: the Vulgate Latin adds, "in mind"; they did not know what to think of things, they were so astonished at what they heard, that they were scarcely themselves; they were as persons stupid and senseless; being filled partly with shame and confusion, and partly with wonder and amazement, that these illiterate men, the followers of Jesus of Nazareth, whom they had crucified, and whose disciples they had in so much contempt, should have such extraordinary gifts bestowed on them:
because that every man heard them speak in his own language; which shows, what has been before observed, that one spake in one language, and another in another language; or the same person sometimes spoke one language, and sometimes another; so that in course, all languages were spoken by them; whence it appears, that it was not one language only which was spoken by the apostles, which men of different languages heard and understood, as if it was their own; for then the miracle must have been in the hearers, and not in the speakers; and the cloven tongues, as of fire, should rather have sat on them, than on the disciples; and these men be said to be filled with the gifts of the Holy Ghost, rather than they.
saying one to another; the phrase "one to another", is left out in the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions, and so it is in the Alexandrian copy:
behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? rude, unpolished, and unlearned men; who had never been brought up in any school of learning, and had never learned any language but their mother tongue; and that they pronounced with an ill grace, and in a very odd manner; and which made the thing the more astonishing to them. The apostles were inhabitants of Galilee, and so very likely were the greatest part of those that were with them: hence the Christians afterwards, by way of contempt, were called Galilaeans; as they are by Julian (x) the apostate, and others (y),
(x) Opera, par. 1. Fragment. p. 557. & par. 2. Ep. 49. p. 203, 204. (y) Arrian. Epictet. l. 4. c. 7.
wherein we were born; our native language; for though these men were Jews by descent, yet were born and brought up in other countries, which language they spake; and not the Hebrew, or Syriac, or Chaldee.
when in danger of being burned: so the Megilla, or book of Esther, might not be read in the Coptic, Hebrew, Elamite, Median, and Greek languages; but it might be read in Coptic to Coptites, in Hebrew to Hebrews, , in "Elamite" to the "Elamites", and in Greek to the Greeks (g); and such sort of Jews as the Elamite ones, were these in the text: the Syriac version reads Elanites; and so R. Benjamin in his Itinerary (h), makes mention of a country called, "Alania", and of a people called, "Alan"; and whom he speaks of in company with Babylon, Persia, Choresan, Sheba, and Mesopotamia; and may intend the same people as here: now these Parthian, Median, and Elamite Jews were such who descended from the captives of the ten tribes, carried away by Shalmaneser king of Assyria, whom he placed in Halah and Habor, and in the cities of the Medes, 2 Kings 17:6. But besides these, there were also at Jerusalem, at this time, those who are next mentioned:
and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus and Asia; who came not quite so far off as the former: Mesopotamia is the same with what is called in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, Aram Naharaim, or Syria between the two rivers; that is, Tigris and Euphrates; the former was on the east of it, and the latter on the west, and Babylon was on the south, and Caucasus on the north; and so the Greek word Mesopotamia signifies a place between two rivers; see Genesis 24:10. And the Jews have adopted it into their own language, calling it, "Mesopotamia" (i); and the same name obtains with other writers (k), and it has since been called Azania and Halopin; it belonged to that part of Assyria, called Chaldea; and these Mesopotamian Jews were the remains of those who were carried captive by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon; and though the Chaldean, or Syriac language was now spoken by the Jews, yet in a different manner than it was in Chaldea and Syria: and there were also the dwellers in Judea; by which is meant, that part of the land of Israel, which was distinct from Galilee, and where they used a different dialect from the Galilean Jews; and there were others, who were born, and had lived in Cappadocia. This was a country in Asia, in which were many famous cities; as Archalais, where Claudius Caesar put a Roman colony; and Neo Caesarea (the birth place of Gregory Thaumaturgus); and Melita, built by Semiramis; and Mazaca (l), which was the chief city; and so called from Meshech, the son of Japhet, since called Caesarea. The inhabitants of this country, Herodotus says (m),
"were by the Greeks called Syrians, and they were Syrians; and before the Persians had the government, they were subject to the Medea, and then to Cyrus.
And by Pliny (n) they are called, Leucosyrians. This country, according to Ptolomy (o), had Galatia, and part of Pamphylia on the west, and on the south Cilicia, and part of Syria, and on the east Armenia the great, and on the north, part of the Euxine Pontus; it is now called Amasia, or Almasin: here were many Jews scattered abroad, some of which were afterwards believers in Christ, to whom Peter sent his epistles, 1 Peter 1:1. It had its former name from the river Cappadox, which, as Pliny (p) says, divided the Galatians and Leucosyrians, and this indeed is the reason of its name; in the Syriac language it is called, "Capdac", which comes from which signifies to "cut off", or "divide", as this river did the above people from one another; and hence the country was called Cappadocia, and the inhabitants Cappadocians: in the Jewish writings it is called, Capotakia; and which Maimonides (q) says, is the same with Caphtor; and in the Arabic language, is called Tamiati; and so Caphtor is rendered Cappadocia, and the Caphtorim Cappadocians, in the Targums of Onkelos, Jonathan, and Jerusalem, in Genesis 10:14 and so in the Septuagint version of Deuteronomy 2:23. This country was near the land of Israel, and in it dwelt many Jews; they had schools of learning here, and had traditions peculiarly relating to it: as for instance,
"if a man married a wife in the land of Israel, and divorced her in Cappadocia, he must give her (her dowry) of the money of the land of Israel; and if he marries a wife in Cappadocia, and divorces her in the land of Israel, he may give her of the money of the land of Israel; Rabban Simeon ben Gamaliel says, he must give her of the money of Cappadocia (r);
for it seems the Cappadocian money was larger, and weighed more than that in the land of Israel: however,
"if a man marries a wife in Cappadocia, and divorces her in Cappadocia, he must give her of the money of Cappadocia.
And so R. Akiba speaks (s) of one, that he saw shipwrecked at sea; and when, says he, I came to the province of Cappadocia, he came and sat, and judged before me in the constitutions and traditions of the elders: from whence it is manifest, that here were people of the Jewish nation that dwelt in this country, and so at this time. As also in Pontus; hence the first epistle of Peter is sometimes called the epistle to the Pontians; that is, to the Jews of Pontus, then become Christians; Pontus was a country in lesser Asia, and according to Ptolomy (t), it had on the west the mouth of Pontus, and the Thracian Bosphorus, and part of Propontis, on the north, part of the Euxine sea, and on the south the country which is properly called Asia, and on the east Galatia by Paphlagonia; it was the birth place of Marcion the heretic, of which Tertullian gives a most dismal account (u): Asia here intends, neither Asia the greater, nor the less, but Asia properly so called; which had Lycia and Phrygia on the east, the Aegean shores on the west, the Egyptian sea on the south, and Paphlagonia on the north (w); in which were Ephesus the chief city, and Smyrna and Pergamus, and where were many Jews; these might be the remains of those that were carried captive, and dispersed by Ptolomy Lagus; those who dwelt in the three last places spoke the Greek language,
(z) Prooem. ad Lib. de Bello Jud. sect. 2. & l. 2. c. 16. (a) Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 15, 25. (b) Geograph. l. 6. c. 5. (c) Polyhistor. c. 69. (d) Geograph. l. 6. c. 2.((e) Antiqu. l. 1. c. 6. sect. 4. (f) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 115. 1.((g) T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 18. 1.((h) P. 73. (i) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 30. fol. 25. 1. & sect. 44. fol. 38. 3.((k) Plin. l. 5. c. 12, 26. & 6. 26, 27. Ptolom. l. 5. c. 18. (l) Solin. Polyhistor. c. 57. (m) L. 1. c. 72. (n) L. 6. c. 3.((o) L. 5. c. 6. (p) Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 3.((q) In Misn. Cetubot, c. 13. sect. 11. & Bartenora in ib. (r) Misn. Cetubot, c. 13. sect. 11. T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 110, 2.((s) T. Bab. Yebamot, fol. 121. 1.((t) L. 5. c. 1.((u) Adv. Marcion. l. 1. c. 1.((w) Solinus, ib. c. 53.
and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene; there were others at Jerusalem, which came from hence, The Arabic version reads this clause, "and in the parts of Africa, which is our country"; and Pliny says (b), the Greeks call Africa, Libya. The Jews say (c), Libya in Egypt; and for proselytes from Libya, they wait three generations; that is, before they receive them: Cyrene, or Cyreniaca, which is no other than upper Libya, is called by Pliny (d), the Pentapolitan country, from the five cities in it; Berenice, Arsinoe, Ptolemais, Apollonia, and Cyrene: to these are added,
and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes; that is, as the Syriac version renders it, "those that came from Rome"; to which the Arabic agrees: they were natives and inhabitants of the city of Rome, though now they were at Jerusalem; and some of these were Jews by birth, and lineal descent, though born at Rome; and others were such as were proselytes of righteousness, who were originally Gentiles, but were now circumcised, and had embraced the Jewish religion; concerning such; see Gill on Matthew 23:15. These doubtless spoke in the Roman, or Latin tongue,
(x) Plin. l. 5. c. 32. (y) Ib. c. 27. (z) Ptolom. l. 5. c. 5. (a) Plin. l. 5. c. 27. Ptolom, ib. &. Mela, l. 1. c. 14. (b) Plin. l. 5. in principio. (c) T. Hieros. Kilaim, fol. 31. 3. & Sabbat, fol. 7. 2.((d) L. 5. c. 5.
we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God; not the works of creation and providence, though these are great and wonderful; but of redemption, pardon, atonement, justification, and salvation, by the Messiah, by his obedience, sufferings, and death, and also of his resurrection from the dead; things which struck them with amazement, and the more, that such illiterate persons should have such knowledge of them, and should be able to speak of them in such a clear, distinct, and powerful manner; and still the more, that they should speak of them in their several tongues in which they were born, and to which they were used, and which the apostles had never learned: and this they heard with their own ears, and were fully satisfied that they did speak divers languages,
(e) Mela, l. 2. c. 14. Vid. Solin. c. 16. & Plin. l. 4. c. 12. (f) Laert. in. vit. Epimenidis. (g) Ptolom. Geograph. l. 5. c. 17, & 19. & l. 6. c. 7.
and were in doubt; not whether the apostles spoke in various languages, nor about the sense of their words; for they not only heard them with their ears, and were assured of the facts, but they seem also to understand what was said, since they call the things delivered, the great or wonderful things of God; but they were at a loss in their minds what should be the cause of this, or the reason of such a dispensation,
saying, one to another, what meaneth this? from whence is it? what is the design of it? or what the end to be answered by it? or what will follow upon it? surely something considerable.
these men are full of new wine; the Syriac, version adds, "and are drunk"; a very foolish and impertinent cavil this; there was, at this time of the year, no new wine, just pressed, or in the fat; and if there had been any, and they were full of it, it could never have furnished them with a faculty of speaking with many tongues; men generally lose their tongues by intemperance. They were indeed filled with wine, but not with wine, the juice of the grape, either new or old; but with spiritual wine, with the gifts of the Spirit of God, by which they spake with divers tongues. They might hope this insinuation, that they were drunk with wine, would take and be received, since it was a feasting time, the feast of Pentecost; though, as Peter afterwards observes; it was too early in the day to imagine this to be their case.
And said unto them, ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem; which shows that they were the natives and citizens of Jerusalem that mocked and scoffed; for to these the apostle addresses himself,
Be this known unto you, and hearken to my words; as follows.
as ye suppose; and had given out that they were: and this shows the sense of being filled with new wine; that they meant that they were really drunk, and which they believed, or at least would have had others believe it; the unreasonableness of which supposition and suggestion the apostle argues from the time of day:
seeing it is but the third hour of the day; or nine of the clock in the morning: for till this time it was not usual with the Jews, if men of any sobriety or religion, so much as to taste anything: the rules are these (h),
"it is forbidden a man to taste anything, or do any work after break of day, until he has prayed the morning prayer.
"the morning prayer, the precept concerning it is, that a man should begin to pray as soon as the sun shines out; and its time is until the end of the fourth hour, which is the third part of the day (i).
So that a man might not taste anything, either of eatables or drinkables, until the fourth hour, or ten o'clock in the morning: hence it is said (k), that "after they offered the daily sacrifice they ate bread, , "at the time of four hours":
or on the fourth hour, and sooner than this it was not lawful to eat, even ever so little; and whoever did, was not reckoned fit to be conversed with,
"Says R. Isaac (l), whoever eats a green or herb before the fourth hour, it is forbidden to converse with him; and the same says, it is unlawful to eat a raw herb before the fourth hour. Amemar, and Mar Zutra, and Rab Ashe were sitting, and they brought before them a raw herb before the fourth hour. Amemar and Rab Ashe ate, and Mar Zutra did not eat: they said to him, what is thy meaning? (he replied) that R. Isaac said, whoever eats a herb before the fourth hour, it is forbidden to converse with him.
The time for taking food by persons of different characters, is thus expressed by them:
"the first hour is the time of eating for the Lydians, the second for thieves, the third for heirs, the fourth for labourers, the fifth for every man; is it not so? Saith R. Papa, the fourth is the time of repast for every man; but (the truth is) the fourth is the time of eating for every man, the fifth for labourers, and the sixth for the disciples of the wise men (m).
Hence that advice (n),
""at the fourth hour", go into a cook's shop, (or tavern,) if thou seest a man drinking wine, and holding the cup in his hands, and slumbering, inquire about him, if he is one of the wise doctors, &c.
The "gloss" upon it is,
"at the fourth hour, for that is the time of eating, when all go into the shops (or taverns) to eat.
Now whereas they that are drunken are drunken in the night, and not in the day, and much less so soon in the day, when it was not usual, at least with religious men, to have tasted anything by this time; and whereas the apostles, and their company, were sober and religious men, and had never done thing to forfeit their character, it was unreasonable to suppose anything of this kind in them,
(h) Maimon. Hilch, Tophilla, c. 6. sect. 4. T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 28. 2.((i) lb. c. 3. sect. 1. Vid. T. Beracot, fol. 26. 2.((k) Targum in Eccl. x. 17. (l) T. Bab. Betacot, fol. 44. 2.((m) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 10. 1.((n) T. Bab. Bava Metzia, fol. 83. 2.
(o) Jarchi in Joel ii. 28. & R. Jeshuah in Aben Ezra in loc. (p) R. David Kimchi in loc. (q) Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 15. fol. 219. 2.
Saith God, or "the Lord", as the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions read. This clause is added by Peter, and is not in Joel; and very rightly, since what follow are the words of God speaking in his own person:
I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; not "upon every animal", as the Ethiopic version renders it: this is extending the sense too far, as the interpretation the above named Jewish writer gives, limits it too much, restraining it to the people of Israel. It being a maxim with them, that the Shekinah does not dwell but in the land of Israel; and also that prophecy, or a spirit of prophecy, does not dwell on any but in the holy land (r). For though as it regards the first times of the Gospel, it may chiefly respect some persons among the Jews, yet not to the exclusion of the Gentiles; and it designs all sorts of persons of every age, sex, state, and condition, as the distribution afterwards shows. Jarchi's note upon it is,
"upon everyone whose heart is made as tender as flesh; as for example, "and I will give an heart of flesh", Ezekiel 36:26.
By the Spirit is meant the gifts of the Spirit, the spirit of wisdom and knowledge, of understanding the mysteries of the Gospel, of explaining the Scriptures, and of speaking with tongues; and by the pouring of it out, is intended the abundance and great plenty of the gifts and graces of the Spirit bestowed; but yet not all of him, or all his gifts and grace in the large extent of them: therefore it is said, not "my Spirit", but "of my Spirit", or "out of it"; as out of an unfathomable, immeasurable, and inexhaustible fountain and fulness:
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy: or foretell things to come, as Agabus, and the four daughters of Philip the Evangelist, Acts 21:9.
and your young men shall see visions; as Ananias, Acts 9:10, and Peter, Acts 10:17 and Paul when a young man, Acts 22:17 and John, the youngest of the apostles, Revelation 1:10 though he was in years, when he saw the visions in the Revelations:
and your old men shall dream dreams; or shall have night visions, as Paul at Troas, Acts 16:9 and in his voyage when at sea, Acts 27:23. The order of the words is inverted, this last clause stands first in Joel; perhaps the change is made, because the apostles were young men, on whom the Spirit was poured; and the thing was the more wonderful that so it should be, than if they had been old men,
(r) Zohar in Gen. fol. 118. 4. & 128. 4.
I will pour out, in those days, of my Spirit, and they shall prophesy; see the note on the preceding verse, from whence this clause, "and they shall prophesy", is repeated; for it is not in the text in Joel; which is done to point at the end and effect of the Spirit being poured down upon them,
(s) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 92. 1.
and signs in the earth beneath; meaning either the miracles done by Christ, and his apostles, on earth; or those surprising events in Judea and in Jerusalem, a flame was seen in the temple, the doors of it opened of themselves, and a voice was heard in it, saying, let us go hence; and an idiot went about several years together, saying, woe to the people, woe to the city, &c,
blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: by blood is meant not the blood of Christ, either his bloody sweat in the garden, or what he shed on the cross, but the blood of the Jews, shed in war, and in internal seditions and murders: and by "fire" is designed not the Holy Ghost, who now appeared in cloven tongues, as of fire, but the conflagration of the city and temple of Jerusalem, and of many other towns and villages. And by "vapours of smoke"; or, as in the Hebrew text, "pillars of smoke", ascending in upright columns, like palm trees, are intended literally, the vast quantities of smoke that would arise from such burnings; so that the very heavens would be clouded and darkened with them, and sun and moon appear in the following form,
(t) Joseph. de Bello Jud. l. 6. c. 5. sect. 3.
and the moon into blood; as at the opening of the sixth seal, Revelation 6:12.
before that great and notable day of the Lord come; when he shall come in power and great glory, as he did in a few years after this, to take vengeance on the Jews, and destroy their nation, city, and temple; in which there was a display of his greatness, and power, and which was awful and "terrible" to them, as in Joel it is called; see Gill on Matthew 24:29.
whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord; shall believe in the Lord Jesus Christ with the heart, and shall confess him with the mouth, and shall worship him in Spirit and in truth, and submit to all his ordinances and commands; for invocation of the Lord includes the whole of worship, internal and external:
shall be saved; or delivered from that temporal destruction which came upon the Jews, as the Christians were by removing from Jerusalem to Pella, as they were directed (u); and shall be saved with a spiritual and everlasting salvation by Jesus Christ; see Gill on Romans 10:13.
(u) Vid. Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 3. c. 5.
Jesus of Nazareth; first by his name Jesus, which the angel gave him before his birth; and that for this reason, because he is the Saviour of his people from their sins, and which his name signifies; and next by the place, not where he was born, for that was Bethlehem, but where he was educated and brought up, and where he lived the greatest part of his life, Nazareth, a city in Galilee; whence he was so called, generally by way of contempt, and not so much to distinguish him from any of the same name:
a man approved of God; he was truly and really a man, who in his incarnation assumed a true body, and a reasonable soul; but he was not a mere man, and much less a common and ordinary man: he was the famous son of man the Scriptures speak of; the man of God's right hand, the man his fellow, a great, mighty, and wonderful man: "approved by God"; or shown, declared, and demonstrated by him, to be sent by him in human nature, to be the true Messiah and Saviour of the world, who was the chosen of God, loved and honoured by him, whom he sealed, and bore a testimony to; and that not privately, but openly and publicly:
among you; in the face of all the people in Jerusalem, and in the temple, and at the time of public feasts:
by miracles, and wonders, and signs; by dispossessing devils, cleansing lepers, restoring sight to the blind, causing the deaf to hear, the dumb to speak, and the lame to walk, and by raising the dead:
which God did by him in the midst of you; not but that he did the miracles himself, as and the Son of God; but as he was man, God did them, by his human nature, as the instrument: the meaning is, that his miracles were wrought by a divine power, and not by a diabolical influence, by Beelzebub the prince of devils, as the Pharisees blasphemously said of him; and these were done, not in a corner, but in the midst of them:
as ye yourselves also know; for they must be sensible and convicted in their own consciences, not only that these things were done by him, but that they could not be done by him, unless God was with him, or he was from God; and so were testimonies both of the divine approbation of him, and of his deity and Messiahship.
by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God; God not only foreknew that it would be, but determined that it should be, who does all things after the counsel of his own will; and this for the salvation of his people, and for the glorifying of his divine perfections: though this fixed resolution, settled purpose, and wise determination of God, did not in the least excuse the sin of Judas in betraying him, or of Pilate in condemning him, or of the Jews in crucifying him; nor did it at all infringe the liberty of their wills in acting, who did what they did, not by force, but voluntarily:
ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain; they took him in the garden, and bound him, and had him first before the high priest, then before Pilate, the Roman governor, and cried out with one voice, in a most vehement manner, for the crucifying of him, which, at their importunity, was granted, though no fault was found in him; and therefore are justly charged with slaying, or murdering him.
having loosed the pains of death; this may be understood either of what Christ had done for his people by dying for them; he had abolished death; he had took away its sting, and delivered them from the curse of it, having fulfilled the law, satisfied justice, and made full atonement for their sin; so that though they die, death is not a penal evil to them, nor shall they always continue under the power of it: or of what God did in raising Christ from the dead; he delivered him from the power of death, by which he was held in the grave, and which is expressed by a word which signifies pains and sorrows, even those of a woman in travail; which though he felt not now, he had gone through them; his low state in the grave was the effect of them; and these are said to be loosed when he was raised up, he being so entirely delivered from them, as that they should never come upon him more: and it is to be observed, that the same word in the Hebrew language, and so in the Chaldee and Syriac, in which Peter might speak, signifies both cords and sorrows; and we often read in Talmudic and Rabbinic (w) writings, of , "the sorrows", or "pains" of the Messiah. The death which Christ died, being the death of the cross, was a very painful one: he endured great pains in his body, smote with rods, and buffeted with the hands of men; by being scourged and whipped, and having a crown of thorns platted on his head; but the pains of the cross were still greater, his body being stretched out upon it, and fastened to it by nails drove through his hands and feet, and then reared up, and jogged in the earth, where he hung upon it in extreme agony, till he expired: and these pains he endured, not through want of love to him in his Father, who, as he does not willingly grieve and afflict the children of men, so neither would he his own Son; nor was it on account of any sin of his, for he knew none, nor did he commit any; but he was wounded, and bruised, and endured these sorrows and pains for the sins of his people: as he was their surety, it was necessary he should die, because the wages of sin is death, and the justice and veracity of God required it; and it was proper he should die the painful death of the cross, because of the types and prophecies of it, and chiefly that he might appear to be made a curse for his people: though more must be meant here than the pains he endured in the moment and article of death, since they ceased at death, and he was then freed from them; whereas the text speaks of a loosing him from them at his resurrection, which supposes that they continued on him until that time; wherefore these pains of death also signify the power and dominion death had over him, and continued to have over him in the grave; with the cords of which he was bound and held, till he was loosed by raising him from the dead. Dr. Goodwin is of opinion, that these words are to be understood, not of the resurrection of Christ's body from the pains and power of death, but at least chiefly of the recovery and revival of his soul from those spiritual agonies which attended him, and from which he was loosed and delivered before his death; and the rather, because as before observed, at death the pains of it are gone, the bitterness of it is over, and nothing is felt in the grave; besides, the word here used signifies the pains of a woman in travail, 1 Thessalonians 5:3 and seems best to agree with those inward sufferings of Christ, which are called "the travail of his soul", Isaiah 53:11 and which, like the pangs of a woman in labour, came upon him gradually: four or five days before his death he said, "now is my soul troubled", John 12:27. The night in which he was betrayed, when he came into the garden, he began to be sorrowful, and heavy, and sore amazed; and at length he breaks out, and says, "my soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death", Matthew 26:37 and after some time his pains increase, and being in agony, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood, Luke 22:44 but the sharpest pains were yet to come, and which he endured when on the cross, being forsaken by his God and Father, Matthew 27:46 and which arose partly from the sins of his people, the filth and guilt of them laid upon him, which must be very distressing to his pure and holy mind; and from the wrath of God, and curse of the law, which he sustained as the punishment for them; and it was necessary he should bear the whole punishment due to sin, the punishment of sense, or feel the wrath of God, and the strokes of divine justice, and the punishment of loss, or be deprived of the divine presence; and these sorrows of soul may be well called the pains or sorrows of death, because they were unto death, and issued in it; a corporeal death followed upon them; and when he was in the garden, and on the cross, it might be truly said, "the sorrows of death compassed him about", Psalm 18:4 but from these he was loosed just before his death, when he said, "it is finished"; the darkness was over; the light of God's countenance broke out upon him; he heard his cry, and helped him in the acceptable time, in the day of salvation; his anger, as a judge, was turned away from him, justice being entirely satisfied; and therefore it was not possible he should be held any longer with these cords and sorrows of death; for he being an infinite person, was able to bear all the wrath of God at once, which was due to sin, and therefore did not bring on him an eternal death as on the wicked, he sustaining and satisfying for all at once; and, like another Samson, broke asunder these cords like threads, and was loosed from them. But after all, though these are very great truths; yet, according to the order in which these words lie, being placed after the account of the crucifixion and death of Christ, they seem rather to respect the resurrection of his body, and the loosing it from the power and dominion of death; and in such sense as never to return to it, or any more feel the pains of it. One of Stephen's copies reads, "the pains of Hades", or the invisible state; and the Vulgate Latin version, "the pains of hell"; as in Psalm 18:5 where the grave is meant; and the Syriac version, , "the pains", or "cords of the grave": the word "cords", or "bands", best agrees with the word "loosing"; and the Ethiopic version renders it, "the bands of death",
Because it was not possible he should be holden of it: of death, and under the power of it; partly, because of the power and dignity of his person, as the Son of God, he being still the Prince of life, and who by dying abolished death, and him that had the power of it; and partly, because as the surety of his people, he had made full satisfaction for sin, and had brought in an everlasting righteousness, and therefore ought in justice to be discharged, and detained a prisoner no longer; as also because of the prophecies of the Old Testament concerning his resurrection, which must be fulfilled, as follows,
(w) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 118. 2. & Sanhedrin, fol. 98. 2. Alkath Rocel, l. 1. p. 1. & passim.
I foresaw the Lord always before my face; Christ always had Jehovah in view throughout the whole of his life; and in his last moments he had respect unto the glory of his perfections, as the ultimate end of his obedience and sufferings; and to his purposes, council, and covenant, which were to be accomplished by him; and to his will and command in preaching the Gospel, working miracles, going about to do good, in obeying the precept, and bearing the penalty of the law; as well as to his promises, and his power to assist, support, and preserve him, as man and Mediator:
for he is on my right hand; which expresses his nearness to him, his presence with him, his readiness to assist him, and his protection of him; as if he was his second that stood by him, to take his part, and, if need be, to take up his cause, and defend him from his enemies; see Psalm 109:31.
that I should not be moved; from his station, place, and duty; from the cause he was engaged in, so as to relinquish it; or with the fear of men, or fury of devils, or wrath of God, whilst he was doing and suffering, according to the will of God.
and my tongue was glad: in the Hebrew text it is, "my glory"; and so the Syriac version renders it here; which Kimchi explains of the soul, because that is the glory of the body; but our apostle rightly interprets it of the tongue, which is so called, Psalm 30:12 and Psalm 57:8 and Psalm 108:1 because it is both the glory of man, for that being endowed with the faculty of speaking, gives him a glory above the brute creatures; and because it is that by which he glorifies God, by ascribing greatness to him, speaking of his marvellous works, and singing his praises, as Christ did, in the great congregation, among his apostles, a little before his death,
Moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope, or "safely"; meaning, that his body should lie quietly in the grave, as in its resting place from all toil and labour, pains and sorrows, and be secure from worms, or any corruption. Or this may be understood of his person being in a quiet, firm, and full hope of the resurrection of the dead, and of eternal life and glory.
neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. The character of an "Holy One" well agrees with Christ, both as God, or with respect to his divine nature, holiness being a perfection in it, and in which he is glorious; and as man, he being holy in his nature, harmless in his life and conversation: all his doctrines were pure and holy, and so were all his works; and all his administrations in the discharge of every of his office; and he is the efficient cause and lain of all the holiness of his people; they are sanctified in him, and by him, and have all their sanctification from him. The word may be rendered, "thy merciful", or "bountiful one"; and such Christ is, a merciful, as well as faithful high priest; and who has shown great compassion both to the bodies and souls of men, and has been very beneficent and liberal in the distributions of his grace and goodness. Now, though he died, and was laid in the grave, and buried, yet God would not suffer him to lie there so long as to be corrupted and putrefied, which is the sense of seeing corruption: and so the Jews themselves explain the last clause of the preceding verse, in connection with this, "my flesh shall rest in hope", that no worm or maggot should have power over it, or corrupt it,
"Seven fathers (they say (x)) dwell in eternal glory, and there is no , "worm or maggot", rules over them; and these are they, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Moses, and Aaron, and Amram their father; and there are that say also David, as it is said, Psalm 16:1, "therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth, my flesh also shall rest in hope".
And which sense also is mentioned by one of their commentators of note (y), who thus paraphrases the words:
"whilst I am alive it shall rest safely, for thou wilt deliver me from all hurt; and in the mystical sense, or according to the Midrash, after death; intimating, that no maggot or worm should have power over him;
which was not true of David, but is of the Messiah,
(x) Massecheth Derech Eretz Zuta, c. 1. fol. 19. 1.((y) Kimchi in Psal. xvi. 9.
Thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance; or glorious presence, in which is fulness of joy; which Christ, as man, is in, and fully possessed of, being exalted at the right hand of God, and crowned with glory and honour, and has all the joy that was set before him in his sufferings and death.
of the patriarch David; who was a "head of the fathers", as the Syriac and Arabic versions render it; a prince of the tribes of Israel; one of the greatest kings the tribes of Israel ever had; and therefore this name well becomes him; though it is more commonly given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the heads of the twelve tribes:
that he is both dead, and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day; it is a plain case, and a certain matter of fact, which nobody disputes or denies, that David really died, and was laid in the grave, and that his monument, or tomb, was still extant, so that he was not risen from the dead; and therefore the above citation could not respect him, but another, even the Messiah, and had been literally fulfilled in Jesus. The Jews say (z), that David died on the day of Pentecost; which was the very day on which Peter was now preaching; he was buried in Jerusalem, and his sepulchral monument was in being when Peter said these words. And Josephus relates (a), that the sepulchre of David was opened by Hyrcanus, who took out of it three thousand talents; and that it was afterwards opened by Herod (b): which, if true, may serve to render credible what Peter says concerning its continuance to that day. Though it may be questioned whether any such treasure was ever in it, or taken out of it; and still less credible is the account which R. Benjamin (c) gives of two men in his time, who, under the wall of Zion, found a cave, which led them to a large palace built on pillars of marble, and covered with gold and silver; and within it was a table, and a golden sceptre, and a crown of gold; and this, says the author, was the sepulchre of David, king of Israel,
(z) T. Hieros. Chagiga, fol. 78. 1.((a) De Bello Jud. l. 1. c. 2. sect. 5. & Antiqu. l. 7. c. 15. sect. 3.((b) Ib. l. 16. c. 7. sect. 1.((c) Itinerar. p. 45, 46.
and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him; as he did in Psalm 132:11.
that of the fruit of his loins; of one that should be of his seed, that should spring from him, even the Virgin Mary, who was of the house and lineage of David:
according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ; would send him forth, according to the human nature; for this phrase respects not his resurrection from the dead, but his incarnation or exhibition in the flesh, as in Acts 3:26. This clause is wanting in the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions, and in the Alexandrian copy, and should be read in a parenthesis; since it is not in the text in Psalm 132:11.
to sit on his throne; on the throne of David his father; see Gill on Luke 1:32.
(d) Maimon. More Nevochim, par. 2. c. 45. Vid. Procop. Gazaeum in Reg. l. 2. c. 23. sect. 2.((e) Kimchi Praefat. ad Psalm.
spake of the resurrection of Christ; from the dead, to the sense of the following words, in Psalm 16:10.
that his soul was not left in hell: neither his separate soul in Hades, nor his body in the grave,
neither his flesh did see corruption; or his body, or his "carcass", as the Syriac version renders it, did not lie so long in the grave as to rot and putrefy.
whereof we are all witnesses; namely, of his resurrection, they having seen him, and heard him, and ate, and drank, and conversed with him since his resurrection; and which was true, not of the twelve apostles only, but of the whole company: or "we are all his witnesses"; either of God, who raised Christ from the dead; or of Christ who was raised by him; and indeed, they bore testimony to the whole of this, to Christ, and to his resurrection, and to its being done by God the Father.
and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost; which the Father had promised to pour forth in the last days, Isaiah 44:3 and which Christ had promised to send from the Father, John 14:16 and which, upon his ascension and exaltation, he received as Mediator from him; see Psalm 68:18 compared with Ephesians 4:8.
he hath shed forth this; this Holy Spirit, or promised Spirit, these gifts of his; and so the Syriac version renders it, "he hath shed forth this gift"; which expresses both the plenty and abundance of the gifts bestowed, and the liberality of Christ in the donation of them: it is added,
which ye now see and hear; meaning the cloven tongues, as of fire, which they saw sitting on the disciples, and the various languages which they heard them speak. The Alexandrian copy, the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions, leave out the word "now": and the Syriac, in the room of it, reads, "behold".
that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ; that is, that God the Father had not only constituted and appointed Jesus of Nazareth to be the Messiah, the Lord of lords, and King of kings, and had invested him with that office, power, and authority, but he had made him manifest to be so by the Holy Spirit which he had received, and now poured forth the same, and not another; even him whom they had rejected with so much contempt; whom they had treated in such a scornful and brutish manner; had spit upon, buffeted, and scourged, and at last crucified; and yet, now, even he had all power in heaven, and in earth, given him, and was exalted above every name; that in his name every knee should bow. The phrase of "making a Messiah", or "Christ", is used in the Talmudic writings (f),
"The holy blessed God sought to make Hezekiah the Messiah, or Christ, and Sennacherib Gog and Magog; the property or attribute of justice said before the holy blessed God, Lord of the world, and what was David, the king of Israel, who said so many songs and hymns before thee, and thou didst not make him Christ? Hezekiah, for whom thou hast done all these wonders, and he hath not said a song before thee, wilt thou make him the Messiah, or Christ? wherefore his mouth was shut up; and the earth opened, and said a song before him; Lord of the world, I have said a song before thee, for this righteous one, , and he made him Messiah, or Christ.
(f) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 94. 1.
they were pricked in their hearts; the word of God entered into them, and was as a sharp sword in them, which cut and laid open their hearts, and the sin and wickedness of them; they saw themselves guilty of the crime laid to their charge, and were filled with remorse of conscience for it; they felt pain at their hearts, and much uneasiness, and were seized with horror and trembling; they were wounded in their spirits, being hewn and cut down by the prophets and apostles of the Lord, and slain by the words of his mouth; they were as dead men in their own apprehension; and indeed, a prick, a cut, or wound in the heart is mortal:
and said unto Peter, and to the rest of the apostles, men and brethren, what shall we do? the persons they before mocked at, they are glad to advise with, what should be done in this their sad and wretched case; what they should do to obtain the favour of God, the forgiveness of their sins, and everlasting salvation. Convinced, awakened sinners, are generally at first upon a covenant of works; are for doing something to atone for their past crimes, to set themselves right in the sight of God, to ingratiate themselves into his favour, and procure the pardon of their sins, and the inheritance of eternal life. And they seem also to be at a loss about the way of salvation, what is to be done to attain it, or how, and by what means it is to be come at; and are almost ready to despair of it, their sin appearing in so dreadful a light, and attended with such aggravating circumstances. Beza's ancient copy reads, "some of them said to Peter", &c. not all that heard, but those that were pricked to the heart.
repent: change your minds, entertain other thoughts, and a different opinion of Jesus of Nazareth, than you have done; consider him, and believe in him, as the true Messiah and Saviour of the world; look upon him, not any more as an impostor, and a blasphemer, but as sent of God, and the only Redeemer of Israel; change your voice and way of speaking of him, and your conduct towards his disciples and followers; a change of mind will produce a change of actions in life and conversation: bring forth fruits meet for repentance; and make an open and hearty profession of repentance for this your sin. And this the apostle said, to distinguish between a legal and an evangelical repentance; the former is expressed in their being pricked to the heart, on which they were not to depend; the latter he was desirous they might have, and show forth; which springs from the love of God, is attended with views, or at least hopes of pardoning grace and mercy, and with faith in Christ Jesus: it lies in a true sight and sense of sin, under the illuminations and convictions of the Spirit of God; in a sorrow for it, after a godly sort, and because it is committed against a God of love, grace, and mercy, and it shows itself in loathing sin, and in shame for it, in an ingenuous acknowledgement of it, and in forsaking it: and this is moreover urged, to show the necessity of it, as to salvation, for such that God would not have perish, he will have come to repentance; so to their admission to the ordinance of baptism, to which repentance is a pre-requisite; and to which the apostle next advises:
and be baptized everyone of you; that repents and believes; that is, in water, in which John administered the ordinance of baptism; in which Christ himself was baptized, and in which the apostles of Christ administered it; in this Philip baptized the eunuch; and in this were the persons baptized that were converted in Cornelius's house; and it is distinguished from the baptism of the Spirit, or with fire, the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit mentioned in the last clause of this verse; and which ordinance of water baptism was administered by immersion, as the places, Jordan and Aenon, where John performed it, and the instances of it particularly in Christ, and in the eunuch, and the end of it, which is to represent the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, as well as the primary signification of the word, show. And this is to be done,
in the name of Jesus Christ; not to the exclusion of the Father, and of the Spirit, in whose name also this ordinance is to be administered, Matthew 28:19 but the name of Jesus Christ is particularly mentioned, because of these Jews, who had before rejected and denied him as the Messiah; but now, upon their repentance and faith, they are to be baptized in his name, by his authority, according to his command; professing their faith in him, devoting themselves to him, and calling on his name. The end for which this was to be submitted to, is,
for the remission of sins; not that forgiveness of sin could be procured either by repentance, or by baptism; for this is only obtained by the blood of Christ; but the apostle advises these awakened, sensible, repenting, and believing souls, to submit to baptism, that by it their faith might be led to Christ, who suffered and died for their sins, who left them buried in his grave, and who rose again for their justification from them; all which is, in a most lively manner, represented in the ordinance of baptism by immersion: the encouragement to it follows,
and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost: not the grace of the Spirit, as a regenerator and sanctifier; for that they had already; and is necessary, as previous to baptism; unless it should mean confirmation of that grace, and stability in it, as it appears from Acts 2:42 they afterwards had; but rather the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, particularly the gift of speaking with tongues, which Christ had received from the Father, and had now shed on his apostles; see Acts 19:5.
and to your children: this is the rather mentioned, because these awakened, and converted souls, were not only in great concern about themselves, for their sin of crucifying Christ, but were in great distress about their children, on whom they had imprecated the guilt of Christ's blood, as upon themselves; the thought of which cut them to the heart, and made their hearts bleed, within them: wherefore to relieve them, and administer comfort to them in this their distress, the apostle informs them, that the promise of Christ, and of his grace, was not only to them, who were now called, but it was also to their children; to as many of them as the Lord God should call; and who are the children of the promise, which all the children of the flesh were not, Romans 9:6 and to these the promise should be applied, notwithstanding this dreadful imprecation of theirs:
and to all that are afar off; either in place, as those that were dispersed, among the several nations of the world; and so carried in it a comfortable aspect on the multitude of Jews, that were of every nation under heaven; or in time, who should live in ages to come; or else the Gentiles are intended, who were afar off from God and Christ, and the way of life and salvation by him; see Ephesians 2:12 even as many as the Lord our God shall call: not externally only, by the ministry of the word, but internally, by his grace and Spirit; with that calling, which is according to the purpose and grace of God, and is inseparably connected with eternal glory; the promise is to all such, and is made good to all such, whether they be Jews or Gentiles, fathers, or children, greater or lesser sinners. The Syriac version reads, "whom God himself shall call".
saying, save yourselves from this untoward generation: meaning, the chief priests, Scribes, and Pharisees, and elders of the people, chiefly, who were a perverse generation of men; and upon whom, for their impenitence and unbelief, for their rejection of the Messiah, and their evil treatment of him, wrath and ruin would come upon them, to the uttermost, very quickly; wherefore the apostle exhorts to separate from them, and not partake of their sins, lest they should also of their plagues; but come out from among them, and so, in a temporal sense, save themselves from the destruction that would quickly come on their nation, city, and temple; and so the Arabic version renders it, "escape from this rough generation".
were baptized; in water, by immersion, for which there was great conveniency in Jerusalem, and in the temple, where the apostles now were: in the city of Jerusalem, in private houses, they had their baths for purifications, by immersion, as in the case of menstruous, gonorrhoeas, and other defilements, by touching unclean persons, and things, which were very frequent; so that a digger of cisterns, for such uses, and others, was a business in Jerusalem,
"Says Simeon Sicana (g), who was a digger of cisterns, ditches, and caves, in Jerusalem, to R. Jochanan ben Zaccai, I am as great a man as thou art; he made answer to him, why? (or your reason for it;) he replied to him, because I am employed in the necessary affairs of many, (or of the public,) as you are; for says he, if a man comes to you for judgment, or to ask a question, you say to him, drink out of this cistern, whose waters are pure, and cold; or, if a woman asks thee concerning her monstrous, you say to her, dip in this cistern, whose waters purify.
And in the temple there was an apartment, called , "the dipping place", or "room", where the high priest dipped himself on the day of atonement (h): and besides, there were ten lavers of brass, made by Solomon; and every laver held forty baths of water, and each was four cubits broad and long, sufficient for immersion of the whole body of a man; and to these Herbanus (i) the Jew seems to have respect, when he says, that in the outer part of Solomon's temple, there were "lavers", in every side, (or all around,) which were free, or open, for the use of all; to which, he thinks, the prophet Isaiah has respect, in Isaiah 1:16. Those were for the priests, both to wash their hands and feet at, and also to wash the burnt offerings; see Exodus 30:18 (k): and who were likewise obliged, very often, to bathe, or dip their whole bodies in water; for if a priest went out of the temple for a little while to speak with a friend, , "he was obliged to dipping": and if he nodded, he was obliged to wash his hands and his feet; but if he slept, he was obliged to dip himself; yea, a man might not go into the court, or to service, even though he was clean, , "until he dip himself" (l). Add to this, that there was the molten sea also for the priests to wash in, 2 Chronicles 4:6 which was done by immersion; on which one of the Jewish commentators (m) has these words:
"the sea was "for the dipping" of the priests; for in the midst of it, they dipped themselves from their uncleanness; but in the Jerusalem Talmud (n) there is an objection, is it not a vessel? as if it was said, how can they "dip" in it, for is it not a vessel? and there is no "dipping" in vessels: R. Joshua ben Levi replied, a pipe of water was laid to it from the fountain of Etam, and the feet of the oxen, (which were under the molten sea,) were open at the pomegranates; so that it was as if it was from under the earth, and the waters came to it, and entered, and ascended, by the way of the feet of the oxen, which were open beneath them, and bored.
The reason of the objection is, because bathing, or dipping for purification, was not made in vessels, but in gatherings, or pools of water upon the ground; and which objection is removed, by observing, that a pipe was laid from the fountain of Etam, which supplied it with spring, or running water; so that the molten sea, and the lavers, were looked upon all one as pools of water, or springs of water, and as fit for immersion. This sea was ten cubits from brim to brim, and five cubits high, and held two thousand baths, 1 Kings 7:23. Yea, three thousand, as in 2 Chronicles 6:5 and every laver held forty baths, 1 Kings 7:38 and every bath held four gallons and a half, and between seven and eight gallons of wine measure. And it may be observed, that there were also in Jerusalem the pool of Bethesda, into which persons went down at certain times, John 5:1 and the pool of Siloam, where persons bathed, and dipped themselves, on certain occasions; See Gill on John 9:7. So that there were conveniences enough for baptism by immersion in this place: and the same day there were added; unto them, or to the church, as in Acts 2:47 the whole company of the hundred and twenty disciples; the Arabic version supplies, "among the believers": the number of those, that were added to them, were about three thousand souls; or persons, men, and women; and their number is no objection to their being baptized by immersion. As for convenient places to baptize in, there were enough, as we have seen already; and there were administrators sufficient for this work: had there been no more than the twelve apostles, it was but two hundred and fifty men apiece; and there were twelve separate places in the temple, where they might be baptizing at the same time; there were the ten lavers, the molten sea, and the dipping room, so that the work was not so very heavy nor difficult; but besides, there were seventy disciples, who, as they were preachers of the word, were administrators of this ordinance; and supposing them all employed, as they might be, at the same time, either in the temple, or at the pools in Jerusalem, or at the baths, and cisterns, in private houses; they would not have more than six or seven and thirty persons apiece to baptize; and there was time enough in the day for it; it was but the third hour, or nine o'clock in the morning, when Peter began his sermon; and allowing an hour for that, there were eight hours more in the day, according to the Jewish reckoning of twelve hours in a day; so that the business might be done without any hurry, or great fatigue; and indeed, the objection, as to time, would equally lie against sprinkling, or pouring, as dipping; at least the difference is very inconsiderable; for the same form of words must be pronounced in administering the ordinance by the one, as by the other; and a person being ready, is very near as soon dipped into water, as water can be taken, and sprinkled, or poured on the face. Besides, after all, though these persons were added to the church the same day, it does not necessarily follow from the text, that they were all baptized in one day; the words do not oblige us to such a sense: I own, I am of opinion, that they were all baptized in one day; and that on the same day they were baptized, they were joined to the church; and that day was the day of Pentecost, the day on which the law was given on Mount Sinai, and on which now the Gospel was published to men of all nations under the heavens; the day on which the firstfruits were offered to the Lord, and on which now the firstfruits of the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ were brought in to him. Let the order be observed, they were first baptized, and then added to the church,
(g) Midrash Kohelet, fol. 70. 3.((h) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 16. 1. & 19. & Maimon. Beth. Habbechira, c. 5. sect. 11. 17. (i) Disput. Gregantii, p. 131. (k) Vid. Jarchi & Kimchi in 1 Kings 7.38. & Ralbag in 2 Chron. 5. (l) T. Hieros. Yoma, fol. 40. 2. Misna Yoma, c. 3. sect. 3.((m) R. David Kimchi. (n) lb. Yoma, fol. 41. 1.
and fellowship; with the apostles and other saints, in spiritual conversation with them, in private, and in communion with them at the Lord's table in public: and so the Vulgate Latin reads this clause, in connection with the next, thus, "in the communication of breaking of bread"; to which agrees the Syriac version, and "they communicated in prayer, and in breaking of the eucharist"; though it seems better to understand this of a distinct branch of fellowship, or communication, and may rather intend liberality and beneficence, in which sense it is used, Romans 15:26 and so expresses their constant contributions towards the support of the apostles, as ministers of the word and of the poor members of the church; a duty which, in both its branches, is incumbent on those who have it in their power to perform, and which these first Christians were remarkable for:
and in breaking of bread; or "of the eucharist": as the Syriac version renders it, which was an usual name with the ancients for the Lord's supper; and which seems to be intended here, and not eating common bread, or a common meal; seeing it is here mentioned with religious exercises: and though the Jews used to begin their meals with breaking of bread, yet the whole repast, or meal, is never by them called by that name; and for what reason these saints should be commended for keeping their common meals, cannot be said, unless to show their sociableness, agreement, and brotherly love in eating together; and which is not hinted at here, but in Acts 2:46 where it is mentioned as something distinct from this: it seems rather therefore to design, that they were constant at the Lord's table, kept their places there, and duly attended whenever the ordinance was administered:
and in prayers: not only in their closets, and in their families, but in the church; in the public prayers of the church, they observed all opportunities of this kind, and gladly embraced them.
and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles: the Vulgate Latin, and Syriac versions add, "in Jerusalem"; such as casting out devils, healing the sick, causing the lame to walk, &c. which were promised by Christ should be done by them; and which were necessary for the confirmation of the Gospel, and of the apostles' mission to preach it. The Vulgate Latin version adds another clause, much like the first part of the text, "and great fear was upon all": and the Alexandrian copy, and some others, read, "in Jerusalem, there was great fear upon all."
and had all things common: that is, their worldly goods, their possessions and estates; no man called anything peculiarly his own; and whatever he had, his brother was welcome to, and might as freely take, and use it, as if it was his own.
and parted them to all men; that were of their society, not to others:
as every man had need: the rich sold their estates, and divided them among the poor, or gave them such a portion thereof as their present exigencies required. This was done by Jews, and by Jews only; who, when they embraced the Gospel of Christ, were informed that the destruction of their city, and nation, was at hand; and therefore they sold their estates before hand, and put them to this use; which was necessary to be done, both for the support of the Gospel in Judea, and for the carrying and spreading of it among the Gentiles: but is not to be drawn into a precedent, or an example in after times; nor is ever any such thing proposed to the Christian churches, or exhorted to by any of the apostles.
and breaking bread from house to house; either administering the Lord's supper in private houses, as the Jews kept their passover, sometimes administering it at one house, and sometimes at another; or because their number was so large, that one house could not hold them, they divided themselves into lesser bodies; and some met, and had the ordinance administered to them in one house, and some in another: or this may be understood of their common meals, which they ate together at one another's houses in great love and friendship; for
they did eat their meat with gladness; with great thankfulness to the God of their mercies for their daily food, acknowledging that all came from him, and that they were undeserving of it, and with much cheerfulness and affability one among another, without murmuring and repining at their lot, or envying each other, or grudging what each other partook of:
and singleness of heart; without deceit and hypocrisy; either in their thanksgivings to God, or in their welcome and entertainment of each other; and with great sincerity, openness, and frankness before God, and one another. The Syriac version joins this clause with the beginning of the next verse, "with singleness of heart, praising God".