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of his predictions, or the success of his gospel. Thus the destruction of Jerusalem is called the coming of the Son of man : and in the same, or a like sense, the apostle might intend to speak, when he says, that he would be sent. He says, further, that the heaven must receive him; by which we are to understand not any local situation, in which he is to continue, the sky, or the presence of God, but a state of dignity and power, which, in metaphorical language, is being in heaven. In this state he will continue until the times of the restitution, or rather to the times of the completion, of all things which have been predicted concerning him by any of the prophets; or until he has subdued all the enemies of his gospel. This corresponds with the language of Paul, who, speaking of Christ, 1 Cor. xv. 25, says, that he must reign, till he has put all enemies under his feet. See also Heb. x. 12, 13.*
22. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise unto you of your brethren, like unto me, “ as he raised me;" him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.
23. And it shall come to pass, that every soul which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.
Peter having in the preceding verses mentioned the testimony borne to the character of Jesus, as a divine teacher, by the miracle just performed, and called upon them to receive him as the Messiah, reminds his countrymen of the prophecy delivered of old by Moses, in which he foretold a succession of prophets, which God would raise up among the children of Israel, and at the same time, of the severe punishment threatened to those who should disregard their messages, which he applies to the present occasion. The words of Moses may seem to refer to one prophet in particular; and it may be thought, from what follows here, that they were so understood by Peter, and applied by him solely to the Messiah ; but the connexion in which they first occur in the book of Deuteronomy, plainly shows that a succession of prophets was intended, and that a prophet is spoken of as a representative of a series of prophets. The apostle's argument, however, is by no means injured by this supposition; for the regard due to all the prophets is equally requisite to every individual. When Peter says that those who refused to listen to the prophet which God should raise up, should be cut off from among the people, he delivers the sense, rather than the words of the prophecy; for his language does not correspond with either the Hebrew or Greek copies of the Old Testament.
24. Yea, and all the prophets, from Samuel, and
* Le Clerc, and Ernesti's Dissert. quoted by Rosenmüller.
as many as follow after as have spoken, have foretold of these days.
Samuel is the only prophet after Moses, of whom any writings, bearing his name, are come down to us, and in them there is a prophecy of the Messiah, 2 Sam. vii. 12, &c. This was delivered by Nathan to David; yet being in the books which bear the name of Samuel, it is attributed to him. When it is said that all succeeding prophets foretel the days of Christ, we are not to expect to find it true of every individual of them; it is enough to justify Peter's expression if the majority of them did so.
25. Ye are the children of the prophets, or, as some conjecture, by a slight alteration, « of these prophecies."* and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.
He calls them the children of these prophecies, if we take this reading, and of this covenant, because they are the descendants of those to whom they were delivered, and therefore, entitled to the privileges which they granted, which he now calls upon them to accept.
The meaning of the promise made to Abraham, In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed, is, that all men would pray for a blessing for those to whom they wished well, by saying, May God make thee as numerous, prosperous, and distinguished by divine favours, as the seed of Abraham ; and the language is well illustrated by what Jacob says to the two sons of Joseph, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh. The principal of these favours to the seed of Abraham was, causing the Messiah to be born from among them, and sending him to instruct them, in preference to other nations, as is explained in the words that follow.t
26. Unto you first, God, having raised up his servant, Jesus, raised him up as a prophet, sent him to bless you,f in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.
This was the benevolent design of the Divine Being in the mission of Jesus; but the folly and perverseness of the Jews defeated, in a great measure, his purpose.
* Wakefield, Bowyer.
| Peter uses the word suxoyuyle in the sense of communicating benefits, and not praying for them.
1. The faith of so many Jews in a miraculous cure, is a decisive testimony in favour of the divine authority of those by whom it was performed. That so many thousand persons, of all ages and descriptions, in full possession of their senses, should have been deceived in a case so plain, where they had been eye-witnesses of the past and present condition of the man who was said to be relieved, and when many of them must have seen the change actually take place, is impossible. And it is also impossible that the person who performed such a miracle, as a proof of a commission to be a divine teacher, should not be what he professes that he is. For miracles are the works of God alone; it is he only who can change the course of nature, which himself has established; and we may be assured that he will never suspend his operations in support of a falsehood. Whoever, therefore, receives the sanction of miracles to his testimony, is supported by the authority of the Deity. In that light let us regard these men, and bow to their decisions on all subjects to which their commission extended.
2. Let us rejoice to hear, from such authority, that Christ shall be in heaven, that is, his religion in a state of power, until the completion of all things which have been foretold. For a time it may lie buried under a mass of superstitious practices and corrupt doctrines; but it shall spring again, with fresh vigour, from the root which is left alive, and again become a great tree, so that the birds of the air may lodge in the branches thereof. Amongst all the revolutions in the world, the name of Jesus shall be held in estimation, and his religion prevail, and the time at length come, when, the corruptions unhappily incorporated with it being removed, the princes and powers of this world who supported them being overthrown, it shall triumph over all opposition, and accomplish all the predicted purposes of divine goodness. In the most gloomy periods, when many reject and many corrupt the Christian doctrine, let Christians support their minds with these prospects. There is no cause for despondency, while we have such promises.
3. Let the subject of the apostles' preaching, a resurrection from the dead, be the leading topic of discourse amongst all Christian instructers. No doctrine is better calculated to awaken the fears of the guilty, or to encourage the endeavours, and to promote the comfort of the virtuous. It is the distinguishing doctrine and principal glory of the Christian system ; it is what the ignorant heathen knew nothing of; what the Jews, although they believed it, could derive from no just authority, and what can never be proved from the light of reason.
The apostles are imprisoned and brought before the Sanhedrim,
and dismissed with an injunction of silence.
1. And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them ;
The priests, who attended in great numbers, to perform the service of the temple, were arranged into different divisions, according to the object for which they were designed, over which a president or officer was appointed, who was called the captain of the temple.* · The pretext for the interference of this officer and the other persons here mentioned, was, no doubt, that the apostles created a disturbance, by assembling such a multitude; but they were secretly influenced by another motive.
2. Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
The Sadducees disbelieved this doctrine; and although it might be an article of faith with the rest, yet they were displeased to find that it was supposed to receive fresh sanction and authority from the resurrection and instructions of Jesus, a man whom they had lately crucified as a malefactor. We learn from this passage what it was that the apostles regarded as the primary and distinguishing doctrine of the Christian system ; it was a resurrection from the dead; for it was this which they first preached to the people. .
3. And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day; for it was now even-tide.
4. Howbeit, “ Nevertheless," many of them which heard the word, Peter's discourse just recited, believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.
This number of converts was added on this occasion to those before mentioned, making in all the number of eight thousand. So rapid was the success of the gospel !
5. And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes,
6. And Annas the highpriest, and Caiaphas, and
* Lardner, Vol. I. p. 106. Harwood (Liberal Translation) thinks that he was captain of a band of soldiers that guarded the temple.
John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high-priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.
This is a description of the highest court of Justice among the Jews, usually called the Sanhedrim, consisting of seventy or seventy-two members, who were probably chosen from among the priests, the magistrates of inferior courts, here called rulers, the elders of the tribes, and also from among the scribes, or those persons whose profession it was to transcribe or correct copies of the law. This council sat in the form of a circle, the president being on the side, and the prisoner placed in the middle.
There has been difficulty in accounting for Annas being here called high-priest, when the evangelists Matthew and John inform us that Caiaphas possessed that office at this time, and Luke himself, the writer of this history, tells us that Annas and Caiaphas were both high-priests in the year when the word of God came to John the Baptist. To reconcile these seemingly discordant accounts, it has been supposed that Annas, having once been highpriest, although at present deposed from his office by the Romans, still retained the name, and was probably thought by many of the Jews to be still entitled to the office.* The reason why he alone is called high-priest on this occasion may be, that he was the president of the Sanhedrim.
7. And when they had set them, the two apostles and the man, in the midst, they asked, By what power, or in what name, have ye done this ?
By what powers of medicine have ye performed this cure, if it be a natural one; or in whose name, if it be miraculous ? By these questions, they hoped either to cast discredit on the miracle, or to discover some ground of accusation against them.
3. Then Peter filled with the Holy Spirit, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people and elders of Israel,
9. If we this day be examined of the good state of the infirm man, by what means he is healed,
10. Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand before you healed.
“Filled with the Holy Spirit.” By this phrase we are to understand, not that Peter was aided by any extraordinary inspiration upon the present occasion; for there is nothing in his speech
* Pearce and Lardner.